Wicked ties, p.3
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       Wicked Ties, p.3

         Part #1 of Wicked Lovers series by Shayla Black
Page 3


  “And Dominance and submission. ”

  Morgan swallowed. She’d been caught up in enthusiasm for her show and almost forgotten they were going to discuss that topic. The topic that fueled her shameful late-night fantasies.

  “Yes. ”

  He quirked a dark brow at her expectantly, somehow managing to look sharp, displeased, and nonthreatening all at once.

  Puzzled, Morgan stared. What did he want?

  “Yes, sir,” she ventured.

  His smile dazzled, rewarded. “Very nice. ”

  “I thought such forms of address were reserved for one’s. . . ”

  “Submissive? Frequently, but you contacted me for a quick lesson or two. I thought it best to start with a hint of the dynamic and see how you do with it. ” He leaned forward, an elbow braced on the table. His gaze poured directly into her, molten and unrelenting. “Do you understand what it means to submit to a man? Completely surrender?”

  Morgan tried to suck in a breath, stunned to find it ragged beyond her control. His eyes flared hot with approval.

  “T—this isn’t about me,” she argued breathlessly. “I just need to relate the concept to the—”

  “How can you relate without a taste of it, cher? A little nibble ain’t gonna hurt you. ” The smile he flashed her could only be termed pure sin. “You might even like it. ”

  That’s exactly what Morgan was afraid of.

  She did her best to send him an expression that was all business. “It doesn’t matter if I like it. After all, I managed to finish taping the show about couples’ tattoo fantasies successfully without ever getting a tattoo myself. It’s all about understanding why it’s important to them. ”

  “Paying someone to imprint a design on your skin while your significant other watches is a lot less personal than being blindfolded, naked, and bound for your master’s pleasure. ”

  With a gulp, Morgan realized he was right. Worse, that nibble he offered was starting to sound like a feast to her neglected sex drive.

  No. This time around, Adam was offering the apple of temptation to Eve, and she was smart enough to know better. If she seemed interested, it was because he filled her head with suggestion. He was hard to ignore. She wasn’t depraved, wasn’t the kind of woman to get off on letting a bully chain her down and tell her what to do. The idea was just novel. She had a purely intellectual curiosity in the concept. Okay, mostly intellectual. That didn’t mean she should indulge.

  Even if Master J looked like the kind of man who could have invented the concept of pleasure.

  “What are you afraid of?” he asked.


  She looked away from his intent gaze. “It’s just not my thing. ”

  That displeased brow snapped up again. His glare filled with impatient demand.

  “Sir,” she added, almost against her will.

  His expression softened. “In the few minutes I’ve been sitting here, your skin has flushed, the heartbeat pulsing at your neck has accelerated, and your nipples have hardened. I know the scent of arousal. I can smell yours. I’m going to ask you again; what are you afraid of?”

  Shock punched her gut. Oh, my. . . She’d been as easy to read as a book. Easier, even. Morgan closed her eyes, drew in a breath. Then another. Her mind raced.

  “Don’t think too hard,” he cautioned. “Lying invokes punishment. ”

  “Punishment? You have no right!” she returned in a heated whisper.

  He stared for a long moment. “I told you yesterday online that a relationship of this sort requires a great deal of trust. I trusted that you were who you said you were. In order to earn a little of your trust, I allowed your production assistant access to some very personal information about me. That’s right. No need to look surprised. I knew the minute he started calling around about me. If I hadn’t advised my clubs in advance they could give your guy information, no one would have even said good morning to Reggie, much less confirmed the details of my sex life. ”

  He shifted in his seat, brushing his thigh against hers again, then lifted her chin with his finger. Morgan melted—a combination of shock and arousal, topped with the delicious thrill of Master J’s overwhelming sex appeal.

  “Trust,” he murmured. “I placed some in you. If we’re going to work together, you need to have a bit in me. I’m not going to ravish you or force you or any other melodramatic scenario running through your head. If I’m going to help you understand the psychology of Dominance and submission, you have to have enough trust to be honest with me. And with yourself. Do you understand what I’m saying?”

  “Y—yes, sir. ”

  “Excellent. Now, for the last time, why are you afraid of the idea of submitting?”

  A loaded question, one she didn’t know how to answer. Rejection. Being ridiculed again. Shame. Fear of pain and degradation. A stronger fear that she’d love being mastered by someone like him and be unable to deal with the shame and guilt.

  She couldn’t admit that—not any of it. She might as well hand him her soul on a silver platter.

  “Please,” she whispered. “Please. . . ”

  Master J’s jaw tightened, his eyes narrowed. For some crazy reason, she hated letting him down. She owed him nothing, damn it. Nothing at all. He was an interview subject and he’d be compensated for his time and information. Period.

  Fighting the dueling impulses of resisting until hell froze over and giving in, it took Morgan a few moments to realize that their waiter had returned to refill Master J’s coffee. Then the young guy looked at her with a confounded sort of smile.

  “Some dude paid me twenty bucks to give this to you. ”

  He handed her a regular mailing envelope—with very familiar handwriting.

  The waiter departed.

  Her heart started pounding. The speed of light had nothing on her as she opened the envelope to find a handful of red rose petals with soft centers and dead edges. They spilled through her fingers, and she gasped, feeling all blood drain from her face.

  “No…” She looked around the sunny square with panic. “No!”

  “Morgan?” Master J questioned, voice laced with concern.

  She looked at him with wild eyes. “He’s here. Here. Followed me. Oh, my. . . I have to go. ” She sucked in a scared breath and clenched trembling fists. “Hide. Now!”

  Master J grabbed her by the shoulders. “Who is here and where are you going?”

  Shrugging free of his touch, she looked around frantically for any face that might be dangerous or familiar. Most other chairs in the square sat empty, as did a few nearby windows and balconies. Shadowed storefronts held any number of people, but they all looked like natives. The little coffeehouse’s other patrons either took little notice of her or cared even less. Like every other time her stalker had approached, he’d been as silent as smoke, as invisible as air. Panic ate at her gut.

  “I can’t stay. I’m sorry…”

  He grabbed her again, looking determined to shake answers out of her. Instead, he froze, his gaze zeroed in on something across the street.

  Morgan felt the energy burst through his body a second before he pushed her to the ground. “Down!”

  He shoved her under a table and covered her body with his an instant before a gunshot erupted above her head.


  Jack Cole curled his body protectively over Morgan’s tiny female form and used the small iron table to shield her as another shot rang out. People around them screamed and scrambled away in the melee. He swore as she trembled violently beneath him.

  Damn it! Revenge was so close, and now this? He couldn’t fuck his enemy’s woman until she screamed his name if she was dead.

  Fury rattled through him, but the fact someone was trying to thwart his revenge wasn’t the only reason. Nope, he was downright pissed that some asshole had filled such a small but vibrant woman with complete terror.

  Admittedly, he’d lure
d Morgan here to use her, but never to physically hurt her. Just the opposite. He would find out what made her tick and fulfill every one of her fantasies until her body hummed with satisfaction.

  Until she no longer had any interest in Brandon Ross and left the son of a bitch.

  The jackoff currently at the other end of the gun, however, had other ideas, like planting a bullet between her eyes.

  Another shudder went through Morgan. She held in a cry. Jack hugged her tighter, shoving her right against the iron table. Saving her was instinct. An occupational hazard. A necessity. Brandon Ross had earned this revenge three years ago, and Jack planned to deliver him humiliation in spades. He wasn’t about to let Morgan die.

  “I’ll get you out of here safely. ” He whispered the vow in her ear.

  His churning gut demanded he draw his . 38 and return fire. But there were too many people around to take that risk. And he sensed it would scare the hell out of Morgan.

  She was already terrified, damn it. She smiled pretty for the camera for a living, not dodged bullets.

  When the waiter had delivered the letter to their table and he’d seen the sweet flush drain from her face, leaving behind chalk-white shock as half-dead rose petals spilled into her hands, he’d smelled her fear. After catching a glint of gunmetal in the sunlight on a roof across the street…Jack’d had no doubt what would happen next.

  He hated to be right about shit like this.

  Glancing at the chair Morgan had occupied moments ago, he saw the discolored gouges left by unforgiving bullets. He swore again.

  Beneath him, Morgan tried to sit up. Jack held her in place.

  “Stay down!”

  “I need to go. Run. H—hide. ”

  A quick glance over the table at the rooftop across the street showed their shooter had fled. Either that, or come in for a closer shot during the chaos. That meant they were easy targets and he had to get Morgan out of this open area fast.

  “I’ll get you to safety,” Jack emphasized, dragging Morgan to her feet. “Are you hurt?”

  She shoved the hat back over her head and tightened the scarf beneath, which covered her hair. “No. ”

  “Then let’s run!”

  He grabbed her small, cold hand in his. Engulfed it. Damn, she was tiny, much smaller than a powerful name like Morgan implied.

  Taking off as fast as his legs would carry him, Jack tugged Morgan behind him, ducking behind upturned tables when the shots rang out again. He dragged her behind the cover of the café’s coffee bar, then pulled her around the corner of the building, silently urging her to keep up. She did, clutching her hat against her head with her spare hand. Jack looked beyond Morgan with a frown. No way to tell if the shooter was following in this crowd, but he assumed so. Better safe than dead.

  “Where are we going?”

  Jack didn’t answer; he was too busy improvising a plan in his head. In silence, he pulled her up streets, down alleys. More gun shots rang out. A bullet whizzed past his ear, and he swore. If this son of a bitch harmed a hair on Morgan’s head, Jack was going to enjoy beating him senseless with his bare hands.

  Ducking into a busy store, they narrowly avoided crashing into an elderly woman. Stepping aside so the scowling grandma and her walker could pass cost them precious seconds.

  As soon as the path cleared, he took Morgan’s small hand in his again and tugged, forcing her to run again. Out the back of the store, down a narrow walkway, into a darkening alley. Thank God he knew this town as well as the shape of his own face.

  Another series of staccato blasts sounded again, this time in front of the store they’d just exited.


  “Run faster, cher. ”

  Panting, sweating, she merely nodded. And picked up the pace.

  At the far end of an alley, they came to a metal door with scarred black paint and red lettering that read Sexy Sirens. Even with the door closed, it vibrated with the pounding of raucous music and the rowdy crowd inside—despite the fact it was barely three in the afternoon.

  From experience, Jack knew the door would be locked. Raising a fist, he hammered on it with all his might, not caring if he left a dent. While he waited, he looked over both shoulders to see if they were being followed.

  A blast of gunfire erupted, kicking up chunks of brick not six inches from Morgan’s side.

  With a quick scan of the alley, he cursed. It was ripe with trash bins and overgrown with crawling vines, providing plenty of places for her shooter to hide.

  “Son of a bitch!” he banged on the beat-up metal surface again. “Someone answer the damn door. ”

  Finally, a familiar bleached blonde wrenched the door open. “Jesus, Jack. What the hell is wrong?”

  He pushed Morgan inside, then followed into the back room cluttered with empty beer cans. “Shooter out there. I need your help. ”

  A child’s stick pony and a riding crop lay right next to the stage entrance. Angelique had apparently just performed.

  He slammed the door the door behind him and again scanned the darkened room, illuminated by a single red bulb and decorated with peeling black paint. One thin door separated this area from main stage and the throbbing music in the club beyond.

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