Wicked Lovers 07 Ours to Love

BOOK: Wicked Lovers 07 Ours to Love
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“Shayla Black creates emotional, searingly sexy stories that always leave me wanting
more.”

—Maya Banks,
New York Times
bestselling author

“Sizzling, romantic, and edgy, a Shayla Black book never disappoints.”

—Sylvia Day, #1
New York Times
bestselling author

PRAISE FOR THE NOVELS OF SHAYLA BLACK

Mine to Hold

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sex scene.”


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this book has it all!”


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Belong to Me

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Belong to Me
is a fabulous read.”


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Surrender to Me

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books you read in one sitting.”


Night Owl Reviews

“Delicious and entertaining, the scenes are unforgettable, and the characters are
to die for. Fabulous read!”


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Delicious

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Delicious
to put down . . . a book to be savored over and over.”


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The Romance Readers Connection

Decadent

“Wickedly seductive from start to finish.”

—Jaci Burton,
New York Times
bestselling author

“A lusty page turner from the get-go.”


TwoLips Reviews

Wicked Ties

“A wicked, sensual thrill from first page to last. I loved it!”

—Lora Leigh, #1
New York Times
bestselling author

“Not a book to be missed.”


A Romance Review

“Absolutely took my breath away . . . Full of passion and erotic love scenes.”


Romance Junkies

Strip Search

(writing as Shelley Bradley)

“Packs a hell of a wallop . . . an exciting, steamy, and magnificent story . . . Twists,
turns, titillating and explosive sexual chemistry.”


The Road to Romance

“Perfect for readers who enjoy their romance with a hint of suspense.”


Curled Up with a Good Book

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Fallen Angel Reviews

Bound and Determined

(writing as Shelley Bradley)

“Much sexy fun is had by all.”

—Angela Knight,
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“Steamier than a Florida night, with characters who will keep you laughing and have
you panting for more!”

—Susan Johnson,
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“A searing, frolicking adventure of suspense, love, and passion!”

—Lora Leigh, #1
New York Times
bestselling author

Titles by Shayla Black

The Wicked Lovers Series

WICKED TIES

DECADENT

DELICIOUS

SURRENDER TO ME

BELONG TO ME

MINE TO HOLD

OURS TO LOVE

Anthologies

FOUR PLAY

(with Maya Banks)

HOT IN HANDCUFFS

(with Sylvia Day and Shiloh Walker)

Specials

“HER FANTASY MEN” FROM FOUR PLAY

Titles by Shayla Black writing as Shelley Bradley

BOUND AND DETERMINED

STRIP SEARCH

Ours to Love

SHAYLA BLACK

HEAT

NEW YORK

THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

USA | Canada | UK | Ireland | Australia | New Zealand | India | South Africa | China

Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

For more information about the Penguin Group, visit penguin.com.

OURS TO LOVE

This book is an original publication of The Berkley Publishing Group.

Copyright © 2013 by Shelley Bradley, LLC.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed
in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in
or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.
Purchase only authorized editions.

HEAT and the HEAT design are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

eBook ISBN: 978-1-101-62258-2

An application to register this book for cataloging has been submitted to the Library
of Congress.

PUBLISHING HISTORY

Heat trade paperback edition / May 2013

Cover photograph © Hasan Basri Yontar/iStockphoto.

Cover design by Marc Cohen.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the
product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance
to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is
entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume
any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

Contents

Praise

Also by Shayla Black

Title Page

Copyright

Dedication

 

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-one

 

About the Author

To the warm and beautiful Liz Berry,

who championed this story from the beginning

and opened her heart to prove that some feelings are just universal.

You are stunning in every way.

Thank you for your kindness and friendship.

Thanks especially for just being you.

Chapter One

Club Dominion—Dallas, Texas, late June

A
FTER
warming up the submissive’s curvy, feminine ass with his hand, Xander Santiago cast
her a discerning eye. Nice rosy shade. Graceful, compliant, docile, the woman remained
bent and restrained over the spanking bench, her swollen, exposed pussy juicy as a
ripe peach.

As the heavy beats of Nine Inch Nails throbbed through the dungeon, he walked a circle
around her, smiling faintly at her flushed cheeks and eyes fluttering closed in ecstasy.
Whitney had been the right choice for this evening’s session, experienced but so sweet.
She trembled with the desire to please. And to fuck.

She was exactly what his brother, Javier, needed.

“See the way she’s trying to lift her ass to you? The way her pussy weeps? It’s slick
and swollen, but she wants more. A session with the flogger will send her to subspace,”
Xander coached, handing him the implement by the thick handle, the long, braided tails
gleaming under the stark lights. “Your turn. Deep breath. You know what to do.”

Javier nodded, but his brows drew together. Sweat trickled from his temple. He didn’t
grab the flogger, but plowed a jerky, bronzed hand through the waves of his dark hair,
which looked as if he hadn’t bothered to trim it in months. That fit, since his brother
seemingly hadn’t given a shit about anything except anger and vodka in far too long.

Damn it, Javier needed to look deep and find some self-control. Xander hoped that
teaching him to embrace the inner Dominant so clearly buried under layers of stress,
pain, and guilt would stop his full-blown slide into self-destruction. Since neither
grief counseling nor time had done a damn bit of good, it was the only way Xander
knew to keep his brother together.

If it didn’t work, he’d almost certainly be putting Javier in an early grave.

Xander grabbed his brother’s wrist and shoved the flogger in his hand. Javier gripped
it in a white-knuckled fist, his gaze bouncing around the room.

“Breathe.” Xander snapped his fingers. “Focus, man. She’s right there, waiting for
you. Get a grip and take control.”

Javier gave a rough nod, then drew in a jagged breath. He swung his arm back in a
jerky arc, but his position looked sloppy. He would likely hit the back of Whitney’s
thighs, not her luscious ass, and cause her the wrong sort of pain.

“Goddamn it,” Javier cursed softly, shaking his head and blinking rapidly.

Xander clapped his brother on the shoulder. “Focus on Whitney.” He leaned into his
brother’s face, forcing Javier’s gaze to his. “Your thoughts should only be on her
now. Take in her demeanor, posture, and other nonverbal cues, then decide what’s most
likely to give her the sensations she needs.”

Javier lifted his head, staring blankly, his breathing alarmingly rapid.

“Are you seeing her? Are you listening for her safe word?” Xander demanded.

Squeezing his eyes shut, Javier gripped the flogger tighter, the veins of his wrist
standing out. His arm shook as he dragged in an uneven breath, nervous energy pinging
off his body.

Alarm bells went off in Xander’s head. “Javier?”

“What?” he barked.

Xander got in his face, whispering tersely. “Snap out of it! Tell me her safe word.”

Javier’s nostrils flared. He pinched his eyes shut again, then flashed them wide open
with a shake of his head. Fuck, his brother was trying to force himself back to the
here and now—and it wasn’t working. Xander scrubbed a hand over his face, frustration
eating at him.

“You can do this,” he cajoled. “I’ve given you the knowledge. You have the instinct.
You’re totally in control when you’re on your game. Find that now. Use the power she’s
giving you, Javier. Feel her trust and get into your Dom space.”

Javier sucked in a sharp breath and squared his shoulders, his whole body taut and
hyperfocused. Then he nodded. Xander frowned, watchful, as he leaned away to let his
brother wield the flogger on Whitney’s ass. But Javier just stared sightlessly at
the firm red globes of her flesh and swallowed. He swayed on his feet. His breathing
turned choppier again.

Fuck.
He felt his brother slipping through his fingers, little by little. Day by day. One
step forward, three steps back. Xander cursed Francesca all over again. She’d taken
the strong, commanding older brother he’d worshipped as a kid and turned him inside
out with lies and guilt. The last year had eaten away his indomitable will, leaving
behind an empty shell. Even from the grave, the beautiful, terrible bitch had her
teeth in him.

“Javier!”

His brother’s blue eyes cut over to him, dilated, not quite focused. Damn it, he was
shaking again. Xander bit back a frustrated scream.

“Focus. Either tell me her safe word or give me the flogger,” he growled.

“I-I . . .” Javier’s fingers curled into a fist, and he hung his head. “Fuck. I have
to get out of here.”

“Get your shit together and tell me what’s going on,” he growled in low tones, hoping
no one around them would hear.

Javier jerked his gaze back to Whitney’s ass. The pleasure Xander had given her during
the warm-up had begun to dissipate. She tensed, coming back to her body, back to reality.
Xander leaned around the spanking bench to peer into the sub’s pretty face. Her heavy
green eyes surveyed the bits of the room she could see, her platinum hair moving as
she now swung her head from side to side.

With a curse, he made his way over to her and laid a firm hand on her back. “Easy,
Whitney.”

“Permission to speak, Sir?”

Well, hell.
Xander didn’t want to hear it, but she’d earned it. “Yes, little sub.”

“Have I done something wrong?” She sounded anxious.

“It’s not you,” he assured quickly, petting her soft skin.

Xander hesitated. What else could he say? Certainly not that his workaholic brother’s
wife had cheated on him with another man who’d murdered her, and a year later Javier
was still guilt-ridden and broken. He continued to experience episodes of mental vacancy
and uncontrollable rage. Sometimes—like now—he’d turn into a full-blown train wreck
almost without warning.

“He’s had some difficulties lately.” Thank God no one in Dallas paid attention to
the Who’s Who of Los Angeles’ wealthy unless they were movie stars. If they did, Whitney
would know all about Javier’s fucking tragic crap. “He just needs some time to get
himself back in the right frame of mind. I’ll keep you safe. Are you doing all right?
Do you need water or anything?”

Sympathy crossed Whitney’s soft face. “I’m sorry to hear that. No, Sir. I’m fine.
I’ll be patient if it pleases you both.”

Xander kissed the girl’s cheek. “Brave little sub. I’ll reward you later.”

That made her grin, and he let his lips curl up in a reassuring smile.

Until the flogger slammed into his chest. He caught it reflexively, then turned to
see Javier storming toward the exit.

Shit!
He couldn’t leave his brother to his own devices, not when he seemed to be in the
middle of another meltdown. Twice in the last year, Xander had rushed him to the emergency
room to have his stomach pumped before he died of alcohol poisoning. But Xander also
couldn’t leave Whitney restrained without protection in the middle of a kink club
on a Saturday night. There were predators everywhere, and even though the club owner,
Mitchell Thorpe, inspected every member with a magnifying glass, no system was perfect.

He looked around the dungeon and spotted a familiar figure. Grabbing the woman’s slender
arm, he pulled her close. Her blue eyes flared, then danced with mischief when she
recognized him.

She grinned as she flipped her black hair over the pale skin of her shoulder. “Last
I heard, you still have to have my consent to manhandle me. Not that I’m objecting.”

That was Callie. A sub with a brattier mouth he’d never met.

“Emergency,” he growled. “Free Whitney for me and take care of her.”

Her face turned immediately serious. “Of course. Go. Call me if you need anything
else.”

Bratty . . . but deeply loyal and reliable. Callie would do exactly as she promised.

“Thanks,” Xander murmured, then ran after Javier, catching his brother by the arm
as he pushed his way into the cramped dressing room. It was empty now, as most people
were actively playing this time of the evening, like he and his brother would have
been if Javier could get his head screwed on straight.

“What is your problem?” Xander demanded as he spun Javier around. Silence. “Talk to
me.”

“Back the fuck off.” Javier jerked his arm away with a snarl.

God, more anger. Javier had oceans of it, an infinite mass of seething, burning rage
that he didn’t really understand. His brother had never explained his abrupt change
in behavior over the last year. Was his guilt for being unable to save Francesca from
a terrible death? Was it the anger step of his grieving process? Maybe they needed
to get all this shit out in the open.

“Listen to me.” He gripped Javier’s shoulders. “I’m sorry you lost Francesca. But
she was a vapid, cheating parasite. You didn’t love her. I’d bet both my balls that
you wanted to divorce her but didn’t seek one because it would have cost a fucking
fortune. Instead, you worked ridiculous hours to avoid her, didn’t you? And rather
than facing the problem head-on, she
chose
to run off with her lover, and
he
killed her. Not you. That wasn’t your fault.”

“Not entirely.” Javier pinned him with seething blue eyes, wrenching free and slamming
his fist into the locker. “It was yours, too.”

Xander cursed under his breath.
This again?
“I couldn’t have saved her, Javi.”

“You could have at least tried!” He shoved his way into Xander’s face, grinding his
teeth so hard, the tendons in his neck stood out. An angry flush colored his cheeks.
“For over three decades, I handled our parents, was the model student, and assumed
the reins of the family businesses—all so you could continue to do what you excel
at: play. I asked you for one favor in return.
One
. And you refused.”

Javier hadn’t done all of that exclusively for him. He’d done it mostly because he
couldn’t stand not being best at everything, and because that billion dollar conglomerate
of companies had been his birthright. Javier had been the heir. Xander knew well that
his parents had designated him the spare. Educated and pampered, but not really valued
for any contribution he might make. After all, with a brother so capable, his contribution
hadn’t been necessary.

“You asked for something impossible,” Xander insisted.

“Nearly every damn night you find a woman or two to bend to your will. Francesca needed
your guidance and discipline. I was up to my eyeballs in the acquisition of Reptor,
working eighteen hours a day. All you had to do was give her your firm hand.”

Just like the day Javier had asked him to be Francesca’s Dom, Xander thought his brother
was out of his mind. He silently counted to ten, trying to hold on to his temper.
“There were so many problems with your request, I don’t even know where to start!
First, I’ve never collared a sub of my own, and I wasn’t about to take twenty-four/seven
responsibility for
your
pampered wife. The absolute cornerstone of the lifestyle is safe, sane, and consensual.
I didn’t see how that arrangement would have been safe when I wanted to throttle her
every waking moment. I don’t think she was remotely sane. Even if none of that had
been a problem, she wasn’t submissive. She would have never consented to give me her
power. If I’d taken it, I would have been nothing more than an abusive bully, because
I know damn well that ass would have required beating daily. Hell, probably every
hour on the hour.”

Javier’s eyes narrowed. “She might have been submissive for you, but you wouldn’t
even try. And I know why. You wanted to fuck her. You only refused my request because
I excluded sex in the proposed contract.”

“I also want to ride a wild bull someday for the rush of it, but that doesn’t mean
I’m stupid enough to do it.” Xander scowled at his brother. “Yeah, I wanted to fuck
her once upon a time. I admit it. She was beautiful. But she was a viper who damn
near sucked the life out of you, brother. I told you she would before you married
her. But you haven’t listened to a fucking word I’ve said since we were kids.
You
wanted her. Instead of banging her once, you convinced yourself that, being an executive’s
daughter, she would make a model executive’s wife, so you put a ring on her finger.”

“It was one of the terms of a delicate merger. It made sense at the time.”

“It was a bad deal.”

“And you love to say ‘I told you so.’”

“Francesca’s father dangled her out there like a carrot when she was really the stick.
You were dumb enough to take the bait. She beat you down mentally for years. Hell,
she’s still doing it!”

His brother bristled. “The potential for revenue growth as a result of that merger
was exponential.”

“At the cost of your sanity?”

Javier looked away with a curse, and Xander knew his brother was about to walk out
on him again, probably to find another bottle and finish himself for good. He’d intentionally
removed every gun from the Dallas house they’d been staying in for the last few weeks,
and the L.A. mansion before that. No sense tempting fate.

Knowing this tactic wasn’t working, Xander tried another. “The business is suffering,
Javier. Going downhill fast. You’re unfocused and floundering. Your episodes are more
common than you’ve let on, aren’t they? The sharks are circling. Goddamn it, let me
help.”

“No.” Javier’s refusal rolled around the quiet room like a shout.

“Why? I’ve got a fucking MBA I’ve never used because you’ve never needed or wanted
me.”

“So . . . would you squeeze in research and development somewhere between your daily
dose of spanking and fucking? I can’t have you demanding that your executive assistant
strip the minute she walks in the door. It’s called sexual harassment. We’d be sued
blind.”

BOOK: Wicked Lovers 07 Ours to Love
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