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       Exposed, p.1

         Part #2 of Madame X series by Jasinda Wilder
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  "Every page seduced me, every passage was poetic and provocative, this is Jasinda Wilder at her absolute, steamiest best! Madame X . . . invited me into a sensual world where I was one of the wicked participants. This isn't just a sizzling hot read, it's an exhilarating, unforgettable experience."

  --Katy Evans, New York Times bestselling author

  "Jasinda Wilder like you've never seen her before. Madame X draws you in from the first page and doesn't let go until long after the last."

  --K. Bromberg, New York Times bestselling author of the Driven series

  "Jasinda outdid herself! Every word, every line in this book was a treat and I savored every bite. Sensual, intelligent, and well-paced, I am on the edge of my seat and needing more!"

  --Alessandra Torre, New York Times bestselling author

  "Wilder . . . pulls out all the stops for this spellbinding novel of identity, passion, and fear . . . The intense, violent, erotic story is told in the first-person voice of X herself, with impressively well-handled second-person passages directed at her often odious clients . . . Once readers fall into X's story, they'll be desperate for the next installments."

  --Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  BERKLEY TITLES BY JASINDA WILDER

  Madame X

  Exposed

  An imprint of Penguin Random House LLC

  375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014

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

  EXPOSED

  Copyright (c) 2016 by Jasinda Wilder.

  Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.

  BERKLEY(r) and the "B" design are registered trademarks of Penguin Random House LLC.

  For more information, visit penguin.com.

  eBook ISBN: 978-1-10198690-5

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

  Names: Wilder, Jasinda, author.

  Title: Exposed : a Madame X novel / Jasinda Wilder.

  Description: New York : Berkley Books, [2016] | Series: A Madame X novel ; 2

  Identifiers: LCCN 2015039286 | ISBN 9781101986899 (paperback) Subjects: LCSH: Man-woman relationships--Fiction. | Sexual dominance and submission--Fiction. | BISAC: FICTION / Romance Contemporary. | FICTION Contemporary Women. | FICTION Romance Suspense. | GSAFD: Romantic suspense fiction. | Erotic fiction.

  Classification: LCC PS3623.15386 E97 2016 | DDC 813/.6--dc23

  LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2015039286

  PUBLISHING HISTORY

  Berkley trade paperback edition / March 2016

  Cover photographs: Woman (c) Mayer George / Shutterstock; Bridge (c) Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.

  Cover design by Sarah Hansen.

  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.

  Version_1

  CONTENTS

  Praise for Jasinda Wilder

  Berkley Titles by Jasinda Wilder

  Title Page

  Copyright

  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

  ONE

  I am naked; you are clothed.

  The way it always is, it seems. Do you keep me naked merely because you enjoy the sight of my nude body? Or is it another form of control, of manipulation? A way of keeping me contained, keeping me captive? Some of both, I think. When I am naked--which is often, now that I live with you in your cavernous tower-top home--your eyes flit and float to me, rake over me, absorb my dusky flesh and athletic curves. Your eyes are always on me, even when you are working. Your eyes move from your laptop to me, pause on the elegant column of my throat, slip and slide down to the valley between my heavy breasts, to the flat plain of my belly, the juncture between my thighs, and then you, somewhat reluctantly, it sometimes seems, force your gaze back to your work.

  Life with Caleb Indigo: a concerto of keyboard keys clicking and clacking, an overture of gazes and glances. You are always working. Always. I wake at midnight to the sound of your phone ringing--your ringer is a plain, old-fashioned bleating of a rotary-style phone--and you answer it with a curt "Indigo," and you listen carefully, intently, and then respond in as few syllables as possible, end the call, toss the phone onto the nightstand close to hand, and tug me roughly up against your chest. Four A.M.: You jab your legs into slacks, shrug into a button-down, fingers nimble on the buttons, announce that you have business to see to, and then you do not return till three in the morning or four or even six, when you appear looking haggard and unshaven with dark circles under your eyes. But then, I, anticipating your return, am awake. And you know this.

  And you stand at my side of the bed, staring down at me, waiting. I roll over, gaze up at you. Slowly, you divest yourself of your clothing. Your gaze will not leave me, and perhaps you slide the flat sheet away to bare my form. I cannot help but notice the way the zipper of your slacks tents and tautens as you gaze at me. And I am, in that moment, flushed with desire.

  I cannot help it.

  And I do try. Just to see if I have found some new source of self-control where you are concerned.

  But the result is always the same: I see you, watch you peel the shirt off, unbutton it quickly, swing your arms back to pinch your shoulder blades together, and the shirt falls away. Your torso is bare, magnificent, a sculpture of tanned, muscled perfection. My throat will tighten and I am compelled to swallow again and again, as if I could swallow down my need for you. And then my gaze will rake down your furrowed eight-pack abdomen to your groin, to your bulging zipper, and my thighs clench around the gush of heated need. My breath comes in panting gasps.

  I don't need to say anything.

  You unhook the clasp of your trousers, pinch the zipper tab in your big thumb and long forefinger, slowly draw it down. Free your erection. It will sway in front of my face, tall and hard and perfect.

  And I am undone.

  Any will I possess is eradicated.

  Your hands will be rough on my flesh, scraping, teasing, possessing. And I will revel in that roughness, in the clutch of hard hands on my buttocks, tugging me to the end of the bed and holding me aloft as you plunge into me, eliciting a whimper.

  And I will come apart for you, watching the tendons in your neck pulse and tighten, watching your abdomen flex, watching your hips drive, watching your biceps ripple as you keep me held effortlessly where you want me.

  And you will come, too, but never quickly. Never until I have reached my own climax. And sometimes not until I have reached it twice. If I do not find that release with the driving and thrust of your body, you press that big thumb to my clitoris and force me to it with gentle, skillful, insistent circles as if you somehow just know precisely how to pleasure me.

  When you do find your own release, it is quiet, an intense groan, perhaps a bead of sweat trickling down your temple, as if eve
n your sweat obeys the rule of artfulness that seems to dictate your existence.

  And then, done with me, you will brush a thumb over my temple, sweep flyaway locks of raven-black hair aside, grant me a moment of eye contact, a moment of personal connection. Just a moment, only a fragment of time. But something, at least. As if you know I need those moments to continue this . . . game.

  This ruse.

  This deception.

  This faux-domestic relationship.

  Without those moments of intimacy granted in that postcoital gaze, I would combust. Detonate.

  And even with them, I am discontent. Disturbed.

  You know it.

  I know it.

  But we do not speak of it. I try, and you brush it aside, sweep the conversation away like so much dust from a corner. Answer a phone call, claim to have a meeting to scurry off to, an e-mail to answer, a deal to broker.

  An apprentice to train. Although you are smart enough to not ever mention your "apprentices" to me.

  But I know you go to them. I know you "examine" them and "train" them, when you leave me.

  I know.

  I wish I didn't, but I do. And I cannot un-know it. I've tried that, too.

  You slip the second-from-the-top button of your crisp, never-wrinkled button-down shirt through the loop, tuck and blouse it just so, align the silver buckle of your slim black leather belt with the line of buttons and the zipper. You roll the sleeves to your elbow in precise fourths, brush your hand through your dark hair, and then you leave. Not a word of good-bye, not a hint of where you're going or when you might return.

  Just a glance at me, a moment of intimacy, that thumb through my hair, sweeping it back around my ear. And then you're gone.

  And I know where you go.

  You don't go to broker a deal. You don't go to negotiate terms with other businessmen. You don't go to sign a contract, or to scout a new location, or investigate potential real estate investments. These are all things a businessman would do--I know, I've researched it. You're president, CEO, and chairman of the board of Indigo Services, LLC, as well as a dozen other businesses both private and publicly traded. You should be sitting in a corner office, with a landline phone pressed to your ear, a computer monitor in front of you, discussing P-and-L statements--profit and loss, that means--and quarterly returns, and who isn't performing up to par.

  Par is a golf term, meaning minimum number of strokes to complete a hole, but it often is used colloquially to mean a minimum standard; I'm always learning new things, now that I have access to the Internet.

  You should be doing these things. I've learned what a CEO does, what a businessman does. From TV, from books, from the Internet.

  And I don't think you do any of those things. Or, at least, not when I would expect you to do them.

  You answer e-mails at four in the morning. You wake me at six for sex, exercise from six thirty or so until eight thirty, shower, eat a quick breakfast, and then you go to sleep at nine and wake at noon. Wake, answer e-mails, return phone calls, do things involving spreadsheets and graphs, and then you leave.

  Or, sometimes, after sex with me in the morning, you skip the shower, and just leave.

  And when you return, you avoid me. You work out. Shower. Avoid me. Work. Avoid me.

  Finally, you might sit with me, eat with me, take me to dinner or to the theater.

  And Caleb?

  I know what you do when you leave, why you avoid me.

  You're "training" your "apprentices."

  Translated, that means fucking.

  Teaching ex-prostitutes and ex-drug addicts and ex-homeless girls how to pleasure a man. How to give a proper blow job. How to take anal. How to take a come-shot to the face and look sexy and grateful and seductive while doing it. How to beg for sex without actually saying a word.

  You teach them this by showing them.

  By fucking them.

  They put their mouths on your cock, and you instruct them on proper fellatio technique.

  You bend them forward over the bed and put your cock in their bottom, and you tell them how to make sure they don't get hurt in the process, how to make sure it feels good for them.

  You pull your cock out of their mouths and you come all over their faces, and claim it's for their sake, because some clients like that, although you don't. Oh no.

  How do I know all this?

  I am friends with Rachel. Down on the third floor, in apartment three. Rachel, formerly known as Apprentice Number Six-nine-seven-one-three, or just Three for short. An apprentice in your street-to-Bride program. After you've left for the day, after your three hours of sleep, after I watch your sleek white Maybach slide elegantly toward Fifth Avenue, I take the elevator to the third floor and knock on door number three, a bottle of white wine in one hand.

  Rachel pours the entire bottle into two glasses--not wineglasses, because she doesn't own any of those, but rather into large cylindrical juice glasses--and we drink it sitting on her bed, and we talk. She tells me things. About her former life, which she isn't allowed to talk about but does with me for some reason. About her current life as a Bride-in-training. She tells me everything. Sometimes too much.

  "Sorry, TMI?" she often asks.

  TMI: too much information.

  Yes, I tell her. That you were just there--in the very bed upon which I sit--fucking her in the ass, that is too much information. That you pulled out and came on her back is also too much information.

  Yet still she tells me. As if I am her priest, her confessor. It's girl talk, I think she thinks.

  Education for me, is how I see it. It's how I learn terms like come-shot, which I probably would have been better off not knowing.

  I find it strange, however, that you do none of these things with me. That you never have.

  You don't fuck me in the ass. You don't come on my back, or my face.

  I try to imagine how I would feel if you did. Would I like it? Would I hate it? Would I feel degraded . . . or turned on? Some days I think one way, some days the other. I don't have the courage to ask you about this. I don't think I want to find out how I feel about it.

  Rachel likes pain with her sex. She likes to be spanked. Hard. She likes it when you tie her hands behind her back with a necktie and fuck her from behind and spank her with your belt while you're balls-deep inside her. That's verbatim what she tells me.

  I don't want to know that.

  I also can't stop going down to talk to her, knowing that she'll tell me all these things.

  I want to know, and I hate that I want to know.

  She also tells me about her fellow apprentices' predilections. Four has a thing for having a vibrator in her anus while you have sex with her. Five is a blow job aficionado and does actually like taking come-shots to the face. Seven, Eight, and Nine don't like any one thing in particular that Rachel knows about, and Two likes autoerotic asphyxiation, meaning she likes it when you choke her while fucking her.

  I know more about the sexual goings-on of Floor Three than I think is healthy.

  It also tells me that you have an unnatural and possibly superhuman sex drive. At least once a day with me. Rachel claims you visit her once a week, usually. Plus girls Two and Four through Nine. Including me, that's ten women. A different woman every day, with an extra three you can rotate to have more than one a day. Which, honestly, is just one possible permutation based on the available information, variables, and my skill with mathematics.

  Your life is sex, I think.

  And work.

  You sleep with me, though. Like, actually sleep. Three hours in the morning, from nine to noon, and usually, unless "work" intervenes, another three hours from ten at night to one in the morning. Strange hours. You're always on the move, always going. You wake suddenly, completely, and immediately. Your eyes flick open, you blink twice, and then you get up and dress. No stretching, no rubbing of your eyes, no yawning. No hesitating on the edge of the bed, rubbing your stubbled jaw with a palm. J
ust . . . awake, totally. It's eerie.

  Living with you is bizarre, that's what I'm learning.

  I'm never bored anymore.

  I still work. But now I go down to what was once my apartment, which has been converted into an office, and meet my clients there. My bedroom now has a computer, and there's a large flat screen TV in the living room. It is my space. If I have a "home," it is there, not really the penthouse with you.

  There is no evidence, visually, that I live with you. I do not know if this is unusual or not. I have not changed any of the decor. I have a section of your closet for my clothes; by "closet" I mean two thousand square feet dedicated to clothing storage. Your home--which is the entire upper floor of the building--is open plan, certain areas sectioned off with movable screens. The closet, then, is a very cleverly designed area, screened off so as to be invisible from anywhere else in the apartment, built-in racks to hang suits, slacks, and button-downs, shelves for T-shirts and underwear and socks. And my clothes. But apart from the shelves and hangers of my clothing, a casual visitor--of which there are none, not ever--wouldn't know I'm a resident. There are no pictures of you, of me, of your family, of anyone. Just abstract art by unknown artists. Macro photographs of a leaf or an insect head, the surface of a lake so still it could be a mirror, splotches and swaths of color, textured paintings using glops of paint an inch thick, an elaborate line drawing of tree. Weird, impersonal, beautiful.

  Like you, in many ways.

  My space is my old apartment. I still stand at my window and make up stories for passersby on the sidewalk below.

  My life is the same, really. Except now I live in the penthouse, and I watch TV and surf the Internet and you have access to my body whenever you are home. Ostensibly, I suppose I could leave the building if I wanted.

  But I still have no money of my own. I never see a check or a single dollar bill. I have no identification.

  I still have no control over my clientele.

  I have no name but Madame X.

  No further knowledge of my past, other than that I'm Spanish . . . or so you say.

  *

  They sniff a tumbler of scotch, nostrils flaring, eyes narrowed, lips pursed. Assessing.

  "What kind of whisky is this?" comes the question.

  "It's scotch, actually," I answer. "Macallan 1939."

 
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