Sequel to Dangerous Addiction, from Something Wicked This Way Comes, Volume 1
But when Fallon unexpectedly runs into Brian, he reawakens an addiction that never quite died. Now she’s torn between the caring relationship she’s established with Cord, and Brian’s darkly mesmerizing lifestyle that goes beyond safe, sane and consensual.
The choice is Fallon’s—the wrong one might destroy her completely.
Inside Scoop: This story features an abusive scene from a power-hungry man who’s perverted the lifestyle for his own sick pleasure. It may be too intense for some readers.
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Cord hung his Stetson on a peg in the back hall and toed off his boots. They were covered in mud and various other substances and badly needed cleaning, but at the moment he was just too tired. He and the hands had spent most of the day riding fence line and making sure every pasture was secure before his new shipment of cattle arrived. They’d been a steal at an auction and he couldn’t resist. The bank had extended a substantial line of credit and that was the perfect reason to tap into it.
Everything was coming together much better than he could have hoped. The herd was finally at the size it needed to be and in the spring there would be new calves. The pastures of coastal hay were in good shape. And the work on the event center was nearly finished. Next week, he’d work with the hands who’d be leading trail rides and giving lessons and offering other guest activities, and oversee the finishing touches to the stables.
At least he could relax where the party was concerned. Fallon was working her magic with an ease that he admired. He smiled as he thought about how much pleasure she brought to all areas of his life. After the party, after the post-event details were seen to, he planned to take her away for a long weekend where he could tie her to the bed and pleasure both of them in as many ways as he could dream up.
Just the thought of that was enough to make his cock harden and strain against the fly of his jeans.
In the bedroom, he stripped off his clothes and dumped them in the hamper, then stepped into the bathroom and turned on the shower. He was so aroused he was almost tempted to take himself in hand and smooth out the edge while the hot water poured over him. Then he thought about Fallon, who was due home very soon, and decided he had much better ways to satisfy his lust.
He was just wrapping the bath towel around his hips when he heard her moving around in the bedroom. He opened the bathroom door, smiling—until he took a good look at her and his body tensed. Nearly all the color was gone from her face, her soft-pink lipstick seeming like a slash of vivid red in comparison. Her movements as she undressed were jerky, not smooth, as usual. Her body language was that of someone who had been through an emotional wringer.
What worried him most was the lack of eye contact. That was so out of character, at least for the woman he was used to.
“Fallon?” He moved closer. “Did something happen today? Your lunch with Claire? Something happen with the errands?”
She just shook her head and continued removing her clothing like a robot.
What the fuck?
And then out of nowhere, it hit him.
She’d seen him.
The bastard who’d fucked up her life. Fucked up her. Had she run into him or had she deliberately sought him out? Shit, he didn’t know how he’d handle it if it was the latter. It took all his willpower not to smash his fist against the wall.
Pulling himself together, he used his best Dom voice. “Fallon. Look at me. Now!” he snapped when she continued to look down at her feet.
She lifted her face to his, her expression a mixture of regret and disgust, but didn’t meet his gaze.
“You saw him today, right? That asshole you refuse to talk about?”
“Was it deliberate? Did you call him?” He was barely holding his temper in check. “Answer me, girl.”
“No, Sir.” She still hadn’t looked at him. From the moment he spoke she’d been in full submissive mode, only her attitude was more one of defeat than supplication.
What the fuck happened out there today? She was doing so well? We were doing so well.
Something had suddenly changed and he damn well wanted to know what it was, although he had his suspicions. He used every ounce of control to contain the rage erupting inside him.
“Did you run into him somewhere?”
“Yes.” The word was so soft he had to strain to hear it. Despite his instruction, she lowered her chin.
“Goddamn it, Fallon.” He hauled in a breath and clenched his fists, fighting for control. “Look at you. You’re a wreck. Did you run into Brian Willoughby?”
This time her answer was a whisper. “Yes.”
Cord felt as if someone had punched him in the stomach.
He let the next breath out slowly. He would have to do this very carefully.
“I want you to look at me, girl.” He made his voice as firm and steady as possible. “Keep your eyes on me and answer my questions. Do you understand?”
She stood before him, nude, stripped down to the bare individual. If she had any defenses against either her situation or his anger they were completely submerged.
“I asked you a question.” He took a step closer. “Do you understand me?”
“Yes, Sir.” Her voice was still so low he had to strain to hear it.
“Tell me what happened today. Where did you see him?”
“A-At La Cantera. The valet parking. I didn’t even see him until he was right there beside me.”
“And did you talk to him?”
Haltingly, fingers twisting together, she related their conversation. With each word, his rage grew. He could visualize the scene—the smooth, domineering bully using his magnetism to mind-fuck a woman who still harbored traces of an addiction.
Based on the little she was telling him of their encounter, Cord was beginning to realize that in leaving Brian, Fallon had challenged him. Challenged his control.
And Brian Willoughby didn’t seem like a man who would let that go over easily.
“And how did you leave it with him?” He was almost afraid to hear the answer.
“I—I ran from him, Sir.” She swallowed audibly. “I ran into the restaurant.”
“Did he follow you?”
She shook her head then, apparently realizing he wanted words, said, “No. Sir.”
So many conflicting emotions were at war within him, Cord didn’t know where to begin. The first thing he planned to do was put on some pants. He couldn’t possibly discipline a sub wearing only a towel. He left her standing there, fingers linked together, gaze lowered again, while he dug out a clean pair of boxer briefs and some jeans. He turned his back until he’d fastened the snap on his jeans and tugged up the zipper. He had to be careful that his anger didn’t bend his control.
“I can tell just by your attitude,” he said, “that you’re expecting a punishment session. Am I right?”
“Yes, Sir.” Her voice trembled. “I deserve it. I want you to punish me.”
“Not until you tell me what you did wrong. We aren’t playing for pleasure here. Not at the moment.”
She studied the floor and clasped her hands behind her back. “I didn’t tell you all about him before.”
He could barely hear her. That would never do. “When I ask you a question, girl, I expect you to answer in a loud, clear voice. So tell me again why I’m going to paddle that sweet ass of yours.”
“Because I hid things from you.” Louder this time. “Because I didn’t let you know everything about him.” She wet her lips. “About B-Brian. About our relationship. Because I wasn’t going to tell you about t-today.”
“And why is that important?” he prodded.
“I should never keep secrets from my Master. Secrets that might…affect our relationship.”
“That’s correct,” he nodded. “And this is a big one. A very big one. Because Brain Willoughby screwed up your head and I need to know how to straighten it out.” He paused. “We can’t make this work unless we have complete honesty between us. You need to have that impressed upon you.”
“Yes, Sir.” She bobbed her head. “That’s why I need to be punished.”
“No.” He ground his teeth. “Not tonight. I will never punish you for what someone else did to you.”
He loved the way Fallon embraced punishment, riding the edge of pleasure and pain that drove her to intense orgasm. But that was always within the context of the bedroom play. This was the first time he had ever seen her stripped down to almost nothing emotionally, pleading with him to reprimand her inappropriately, for something that was beyond her control.
But this situation was fraught with danger. He had to make her understand the depth of his feelings for her, and understand that punishment for running into someone completely by accident was cruelty, and he was not a cruel man.
Still, he had to handle this in a way that illustrated who was in control.
He blew out another breath. “On your knees. Hands behind your back. Forehead to the floor.”
He watched as she arranged herself as directed, bent low, ass in the air. The slight discomfort would serve as the punishment she thought she needed. He sat at the foot of the bed, hands on his knees. And steeled himself for what was to come.
“Now,” he said. “I want every single detail, what happened from the moment you bumped into him everything you said and felt. Leave nothing out. And speak up, so I can hear you.”
Fallon’s halting recitation of the run-in with the fucking asshole made him grind his teeth in silent rage. Her description of the man’s effect on her, of her fear, as well as the addiction she battled, made him want to shoot someone. Preferably Willoughby.
Cord was a well-trained Dom. He’d studied at a couple of the best dungeons in Dallas and observed other Doms carefully. Safe, sane and consensual had been drummed into him. Respect. Negotiation. For every D/s relationship, there was a different degree of intensity, different definitions of how far to take things. But the basic rules were always in place. If anyone violated them, the D/s community policed its own.
To hear that Brian, someone who obviously had only a sketchy knowledge of the philosophy and practices, had subverted BDSM because he could, made Cord angrier than he ever remembered being. He’d never understood how any man could so extremely abuse a privilege granted to him. Listening to Fallon made his blood boil.
When she was finished, he sat for a moment, gaze fixed on her bent form. He wanted to pull her into his arms, soothe her, tell her they would get through this together and everything would be fine. But he knew that she wouldn’t believe him. So much of her emotionally destructive upbringing still lingered, still fed her insecurities. Punishment was like an anchor to her, but it had to be for the right reasons.
And tonight it would have to take a different from.
“And that’s all of it?” he asked.
“Yes. All of it.” Her voice was muffled by the carpet.
“And he will never intrude into our lives again, correct? If thoughts of him distress you, come to me at once and I’ll talk you through them. If you run into him, you call me right away. If you need me to pick you up because he’s upset you, I’ll be in my car before we’re off the phone. Understood?”
He didn’t remind her again that she hadn’t used the honorific. She was in enough emotional distress as it was.
“All right. Get up, girl,” he ordered, doing his best to hold on to his own emotions. He had to physically restrain himself from racing out of the house, finding Brian Willoughby and strangling him with his bare hands for causing so much anguish and distress to this very special woman.
He watched her balance herself carefully as she managed to get to her feet, her equilibrium off-kilter because she couldn’t use her hands. When she was standing before him, he cupped her face with his palms. He hoped when she looked into his eyes she could see the depth of the love he felt for her, as well as the respect. He chose his words carefully.
“No punishment tonight, Fallon. At least not the kind you’re asking for. I think today did enough damage to you.”
He touched a finger to her lips. “Never argue with your Master. Tonight it’s all about doing what I can do to wipe away this blackness gripping you.”
She wrinkled her forehead. “Sir?”
He could see she was confused, but the kind of pain she expected was the last thing she needed right now. He might want to beat every last trace of Brian Willoughby from her body but that would be irresponsible on his part. How could he punish someone who was so visibly punishing herself? He was smart enough to know that he couldn’t erase one kind of brutality with another, no matter how lovingly delivered. In her fragile state, he was sure if he did what she asked it would destroy her, and he loved her too much for that.
But tenderness was as much a part of being a Dom as pain and punishment, both for pleasure and discipline. Tonight it was important to show her how much she meant to him and what a special place she held in his heart. Had he taken the time before now, he wondered, to let her know his depth of feelings? Or had he just assumed from everything they did that she got the message? After the event center’s grand opening, when she filled in the missing details for him, he would decide how to move forward. Right now his mission was to subject her to torture of the sweetest kind.
“Perhaps it’s my fault for not making sure you understood exactly how important you are to me,” he told her, putting as much feeling into his words as he could. “How much I value you. How I feel about you. That’s what this will be about.” He stroked his fingers lightly on her cheek. “Now. I want you on the bed, flat on your back. I have a specific kind of torture in mind.”
When she was situated as commanded, he knelt between her thighs and braced a hand on either side of her. For a long moment he stared at her still-pale face, saw the anguish and conflict in her eyes and made a silent vow to protect her from this asshole no matter what.
Provided, of course, she let him.