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Lessons to Love

by

Erin Gordon

 

Copyright © 2007 by Shadowrose Publishing

ISBN 978-1-890785-02-4

Shadowrose Publishing, Rom-On-Line Publishing

http://shadowrosepublishing.net/

 

All Rights Reserved

Printed in the United States of America

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No portion of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or

distributed in any print or electronic form without permission

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and

incidents either are the products of the author’s imagination or

are used fictitiously, and coincidental. Any resemblance

between persons living and dead, establishments, events, or

location is entirely coincidental.

 

Lessons to Love

Shadowrose Publishing /by arrangement with the author

Paperback First Edition Printing/ March 2006

 

Reprinted with permission from Patricia Fuller and Shadowrose Publishing
by Romance at Heart, Copyright © 2007

 


 

Please help keep authors writing. Do not copy or reproduce

this book. If you purchase this book without a cover, please

be aware that the author was not compensated for its sale.

 

To Purchase Lessons to Love:

http://shadowrosepublishing.net/current_releases.html#ltl

 

Lessons to Love

 

“Come here Cassandra” he said softly.

Cassie was angry with herself for being nervous.

He was just a man, and it wasn’t as if she was a

virgin, for heavens’ sake. She was twenty-nine

years old—and a cop to boot! If it came down to it,

she could take it down. That thought comforted her

momentarily, and she tilted her chin up. “I’m fine

right here.”

 

 

This book is dedicated to strong women that

dare to explore their own hidden desires…

 

Domination does not mean domineering

Submissive does not mean doormat


Prologue

 

Police officer Cassandra O’Rourke sighed as she listened to the call on the radio. The Internet Killer had struck again. She knew before she even arrived at the scene that it would be another woman, and that she’d have been beaten to death It infuriated her when the calls came though.

 

Parents warned their kids to be careful when they got on the Internet. Everyone knew that it was dangerous as hell to give out personal information, and to meet people via a chat room. Why would an intelligent woman meet with a total stranger without taking some kind of precaution?

 

Not all of the victims had died, but none had been able to identify the perpetrator. Cassie was tired of dreaming of the sick bastard, and had sworn that she’d get him off the streets no matter what it took. In almost eight years on the police force, she’d seen things that would make most people have nightmares, but nothing could compare to the abject cruelty of this man. He’d killed seven women already; and at least a dozen had been beaten very badly. All they knew for sure is that he found them in chat rooms. Obviously he’d used a different user name, and so far they had not been able to trace him.

 

Most of the women had been seduced with words quickly, too. Some had agreed to meet him almost immediately. If here was one thing Cassie knew for sure, it was that trusting strangers on the Internet wasn’t a good idea! She’d find the bastard if it was the last thing she ever did.


Chapter One

 

Cassie sighed as she browsed the web. The number of porn websites was growing exponentially, it seemed. In her line of work, porn was the last thing she wanted to read. It was not her cup of tea. She went back to Google and tried again. Instead of BDSM she typed in D/s and she waited for the page to load.

There were dozens of links. One caught her eye.

D/s (Domination and submission)

Chat Room for Beginners: D/s does not mean abuse

Her hand paused as she prepared to click the mouse. This was a huge step for her. Yet, she was certainly intrigued by the idea of actually talking to people that were interested in D/s. She’d done some research on D/s for work; especially after this case hit her desk. Also, as a vice cop, she had to know the lingo, if nothing else. The more she read, the more fascinated she became with the concept. Still, she reminded herself, this was for work—not any personal interest. She ignored the nagging little voice in her mind that said she was lying to herself.

Somewhere in the city, there was a man that was luring women via various Internet chat rooms, and beating them senseless. It was her job to find him- more than her job. She’d made it her mission. He’d killed and maimed too many women. She’d find him and bust his ass. If she had her way, all the victims would have a shot at him—together; a little tit for tat. But, unfortunately, justice didn’t work that way. And the law she’d sworn to uphold didn’t allow for it.

But right now, she wasn’t at work. She was sitting at home in the comfort of her own living room. A little more research would likely be a good thing, she told herself. She didn’t understand, even after her reading, what D/s was really all about, though. It just seemed to be guys that were into power trips, and women that wanted to be bossed around, and not be in control of their own lives. Despite that, it was kind of intriguing. She wondered what kind of women would allow themselves to be ruled by another person. She also wondered what it would be like to give control to another person. She just couldn’t imagine it.

In her job, she always had to be in control. There was no room for submission, certainly. However, her personal life was an entirely different story. There was something missing, and, while she didn’t know that this was it, something about it intrigued the hell out of her. “What the hell,” Cassie said aloud. She clicked the mouse and found a website with a link to a downloadable chat program that would let her enter live chat rooms. The site also had information about the room.

There is a huge difference between BDSM and D/s

D/s does not mean abuse or that one is a sadist or masochist.

She thought about that for a minute. She had always assumed they were basically the same thing. She couldn’t count the number of times on the job men had wanted to do things that would make most women blush; not to mention that there had been several occasions when they had wanted her to let them beat her up a little. Of course, they’d offered to pay extra. To her mind, no woman, even a hooker looking for a few extra bucks, should allow herself to be beaten. Just the thought was enough to make her angry and a little ill. Men, she’d decided a long time ago, could be unadulterated asses. A man that had to get his jollies by causing pain was less than a man to her. No, the aspects of BDSM did nothing for her at all. But the information she’d read about D/s intrigued the part of her that was hidden from the people in her life.

She’d grown up being abused, yet even with that, something about spanking had always interested her. She’d fantasized about some loving person spanking her when she’d endangered herself; something along those lines.

She was intrigued by the subtitle of the D/s site. Well, she thought, it couldn’t hurt to go to the chat and see what was going on. She didn’t have to talk to anyone, she assured herself. She downloaded the required program and tapped her fingers on the desk as the program installed. For all the time she’d spent on the Internet, she’d never gone into a chat room. Hell, she should have been in the chat rooms ages ago, it was likely the best way to ferret the bastard out.

When the program was installed, she typed in the command to enter the chat room, as per the directions on the website. The program had asked for a nickname, and she used Brandy. It was one of her street names. The right side of her screen showed about fifty other names, some of the nicknames were using capital letters and some in lower case. Did that even mean anything? She leaned back in her chair and followed the dialogue, absently twirling a long curl around her finger as she watched. One of the men chatting caught her interest. Sir Lancelot. “Gimme a break,” she muttered aloud. “Original.”

Still, she was intrigued. She followed his conversation.

Sir Lancelot: You will call me Sir, sherry.

sherry: Of course, Sir. I apologize.

Her fingers flew on the keys before she could even stop herself.

Brandy: Why should she call you Sir? Are you her father?

Brandon sat at his desk and grinned at the obvious challenge set before him. He noted that she had her name capped, not lowercase. Was she a Domme? Or; as he thought more likely, was she even aware that there was significance to how her name was listed. Doms used capital letters for their nicknames, and the submissive used lower case. This was a room for beginners that he’d started several years before. He spent quite a bit of time in the room, making sure it was kept safe for all who entered. But he was in a mood to play, and this Brandy had caught his eye.

Sir Lancelot: Because she is a submissive, and does as she is told.

Brandon knew before he’d even lifted his fingers that his comment was sure to raise Brandy’s hackles. He tried to envision her, and smiled to himself. Redhead. Definitely a redhead. It was strange, but he was almost certain he was right.

Cassie narrowed her eyes and glared at the screen. What a jerk. She started to close the laptop, but changed her mind. She decided to vent a little steam. She’d worked almost all night the night before, so it was early in the morning. She was too woundup to sleep, and had gotten on the computer instead. Hell, he was probably a pervert without a life off of the Internet. Most men that she knew were either still sleeping or at work, not hanging out in a chat room. She wasn’t at all sure that this guy wasn’t the one she’d been searching for.

Brandy: Does everyone do what you tell him or her to do?

Sir Lancelot: No, only submissives that don’t want a sore bottom.

Brandon waited to see what the lady would type next. He enjoyed D/s. He enjoyed being a Dom. This was his chat room, and as such, his responsibility, in part, was to instruct new visitors to the chat. He knew he’d never seen this nickname before. But something about her… he couldn’t put his finger on it. He might be a Dom, but he enjoyed fire in a woman—submissive or not. Her next line took the smile off his face.

Brandy: So, you’re into beating on women, huh?

One of the nice perks to owning the chat room was that he could use the kick feature. He did so quickly, and kicked Brandy out of the room. He quickly set the control so she couldn’t reenter until he’d spoken with her further. He didn’t want to disrupt the entire chat, but he wasn’t going to send Brandy off without a lesson, either. He clicked the message feature and typed quickly.

Sir Lancelot: Why did you come into a D/s chat room?

He wondered if she would respond. He knew she was reading, though. Call it gut instinct.

Cassie considered once more just closing the program. Why had he messaged her? She was fuming that she’d been kicked out of the room in the first place. It seemed like a legitimate question to her. She had an intense dislike for men that abused women. She’d seen way too much of it in her career—and her personal life. Her father had taken great pleasure in getting drunk, then coming home and beating the hell out of her mother, or her. Even worse, her mother had made excuses for him. He’d rarely touched her brother. Add a really bad relationship to that, and she’d known she’d never allow herself to be abused by any man ever again. A part of her knew that she’d become a cop because of it. But, there was a little thrill of excitement, too, at the mention of a sore bottom.

She simply had to reply, against her better judgment.

Brandy: I was curious. But, the website specifically said that D/s wasn’t about abuse. Why did you kick me out of the room? Your website said this chat was for beginners with questions.

Brandon took a moment to think out his response. The website, if she’d read it, also clearly explained that a submissive entered the room using lower-case letters. How much of the website had she really read? He decided to educate her calmly and rationally. Not everyone understood D/s, and he knew it was often confused with BDSM. They were different in his mind.

Sir Lancelot: I kicked you out because you were disrupting the room. Did you read the website before you entered the chat room? And, what makes you think I mentioned abuse, Brandy?

Cassie stared at the screen. This had been a mistake. Willing abuse was no different from unwilling abuse. It was still abuse. She almost felt sorrier for the women that allowed themselves to be abused. But something about the tone of his message had just set off a spark in her. Or maybe it was the nickname he’d chosen for himself. Hell would freeze over before she called him Sir anything.

Brandy: Never mind.

Sir Lancelot: Do you know anything about D/s, Brandy?

Initially intrigued or not, she knew enough to know it wasn’t for her!

Brandy: Enough. Look, apparently it was a mistake. I wasn’t trying to disrupt your silly room, either. It was rude to kick me out, though.

Brandon smiled. Oh, it was fun to talk with a novice. He knew that there had to be a spark of interest, or she’d have never come into the chat room. Usually, though, novice subs, or even the curious, just came in and read what was going on; they lurked.

Not so this lady. She’d jumped right in, with an attitude to boot.

Sir Lancelot: Then you should know that spanking isn’t considered abuse in this circle.

Brandon had absolutely no patience for anyone- man or woman- that condoned abuse. He’d never abused a woman in his life, nor would he. Any so-called Dom that came into his chat room that was abusive to a submissive was quickly kicked and banned from his chat. He liked his chat room to be a safe haven for everyone.

Cassie was intrigued again despite herself. She wanted to hear more, it was probably a bad idea. Still, if nothing else, she might garner information that would help her find this bastard before he killed again.

Brandy: Where do you live?

Brandon grinned. He knew by her internet provider information that she was local. She obviously didn’t realize it. An ISP was listed right after the nickname when anyone entered the chat room. Even if that was missed, there was a whois feature. It was a little harder with ISP’s such as AOL or the larger ones, but not with small-town local ISP’s.

Sir Lancelot: We have the same internet provider.

Cassie’s eyes widened. All her instincts went on full alert.

How could he have known that?

Brandy: How did you know that?

Sir Lancelot: Your ISP showed with your nickname when you entered the chat room. But it’s never wise to give out too much personal information too quickly on the Internet, young lady. Still, if you’d like to meet, I’m game. As long as you follow the safety rules that are outlined on my website.

“Like that would ever happen,” Cassie muttered. The young lady irritated her, too. She hadn’t read any of the links on the website, just the first page, but she had a pretty good idea what the safety rules would be. Even she knew better than to give out her name or address to anyone on the Internet. She started typing again.

Brandy: I don’t think so, stud. I’m not stupid.

Brandon grinned again. No, she wasn’t stupid. Damn, but he wanted to meet her. He couldn’t even understand the attraction; not really. Yet, he’d have been concerned if she’d agreed to meet him. In this day and age, the Internet could be a very dangerous place. It would be amazingly easy for him to find her, though.

She, of course, had no idea that he was a cop. He could track her with a couple of phone calls.

Sir Lancelot: I’ll give you my number. Use the caller ID block on your phone and call me. Of course, if you’d read the chat room website, you’d have read about the section on safety.

Cassie knew it was an order, not a request. Being scolded like she was a child gave her a strange feeling in the pit of her stomach, too. She should tell him to go straight to hell. Her fingers seemed to have a mind of their own, though. Besides, she told herself, this could be the guy she’d been looking for. He was sure quick to want to meet her. She forgot that she’d been the one to ask him where he lived, not the other way around.

Brandy: All right.

Brandon typed in his number and hit enter. He wanted to hear her voice.

Sir Lancelot: And don’t forget to block your phone number, young lady.

Cassie closed the window and looked down at the number he’d given her, contemplating. Same area code, so he did have to be local. She had no idea how large an area her ISP had. Not just the city of Parisburg, Virginia, surely. But the first three digits of the number meant he was close.

Cassie’s cell phone automatically blocked her own caller ID.

She picked up her cell and dialed the number he’d provided. It was probably a mistake, but she was curious about him. It couldn’t hurt to talk to him a little more. It was still possible that he was her perp. She tugged at the curl hanging off her shoulder absently as she listened for the connection. The phone was picked up on the first ring.

Somehow, she wasn’t really expecting the deep voice that answered the phone. Her heart raced just a bit. She liked deep voices. “Hi. It’s Cass- er- Brandy.” He was probably about five nothing and six hundred pounds, she thought with an evil grin.

Brandon grinned. Cassandra? Cassie? Cassidy? Which was it? “Hello Brandy.” He signed off the computer; propped long jean-clad legs on his desk, and leaned back in his chair. “Do you call complete strangers you meet on the Internet often, young lady?” he asked. Deliberately, he made his voice stern; what most subs called Dom Mode.

Cassie flushed; glad he couldn’t see her face. “Of course not,” she muttered defensively. “Do you give your number to complete strangers often?” she countered.

Damn, but he liked her spunk. Her voice was smoky and just a little breathless. “Touché,” he said mildly. “Still, it’s not a wise practice.”

“Yeah.” Hell, he was right. “But, I’m going to assume that if you gave me your number, reminded me to block my number, and pointed out the foolishness of my calling you, that you’re likely not dangerous.” Of course, she had thought of none of those things when she’d agreed to call. Good thing she thought quickly on her toes.

“Oh, I wouldn’t go that far. Ask Sherry. She’d likely say otherwise,” he teased.

“Is she your submissive?” Cassie asked curiously. “Won’t she be upset that we’re talking?”

Brandon laughed. “She’s a friend. We’ve known each other for years. She isn’t the jealous type, though. She’s due a spanking that she’s been trying to talk her way out of, but, she’s not my subbie.”

“But you’ll spank her anyway?” Cassie asked, incredulously. What kind of guy had she called? “Doesn’t she have the right to say no? I’m sure that I’ve read that D/s and BDSM were all about consent.”

Brandon bit back a chuckle. “Certainly she does. But she won’t. She knows she deserves it.” He was having fun. The lady had no idea that the only relationship he had with Sherry was an Internet one. She was happily married with two kids at last count. He was an online friend to both her and her husband. In fact, they’d met on the Internet. They rarely met in person, although it had happened a few times. They weren’t local, but did live in the state.

“Why?”

“I’m afraid she was disrespectful once too often. Every few weeks she needs a reminder to show proper respect,” he explained honestly. Of course, Sherry was what was known in the circle as a brat. Bratting was a game that many subs played on the Internet. It was a way to guarantee a scene with a Dom. Part of the fun for the brat was trying to talk their way out of trouble once they’d gotten into it. Hell, there were even little songs that a subbie would play when she was in trouble.

“So, let me see if I understand,” Cassie began, her tone heavy with derision, “she didn’t call you Sir or something, so you’re going to beat her?” Her first thought had apparently been right.

He was just a jerk! He obviously was used to talking to women with no backbone.

Brandon decided to explain before the firebrand on the other end of the line hung up on him. “It’s a game we play. I wouldn’t ever hurt her, and she knows it. There are certain expectations between a Dom and a sub. Respect is mutual, by the way. Sherry has been trying to get a spanking for weeks now. Be a good girl, and you can watch.” He was probably being mean to tease her, but what the hell. Sometimes…it was just fun.

Oh, she’d like to watch all right! If he hurt the woman, she’d slap cuffs on him so fast his head would spin! “So, you like having a voyeur, huh? Maybe that could be arranged. When and where?” Her heart started racing just a little faster. Maybe this was him, and she’d lucked out.

Brandon frowned, his fingers tightened on the phone receiver. Damn, didn’t she know how dangerous that could be? Or was she messing with him? “Sometimes it does a sub good to see what she might be earning herself,” he said darkly. The little fool had no concept of her own safety. “Perhaps you’ll find out sooner rather than later.”

She chuckled without humor. “I don’t think so, stud. No one is going to beat on me, thanks.”

“What does Cass stand for? Cassandra? Cassie? Cassidy?”

Cassie sighed. So, he’d picked that up. “Cassie. Short for Cassandra. And you are…?”

Brandon.”

“Well, Brandon. I’m not interested in any lessons you might think I need,” she said firmly.

“What about lessons that you think you might need?” he asked.

“What makes you believe I think I need any lessons?” she countered. She twirled her hair around a finger absently. She propped her feet up on her desk and leaned back.

“Something brought you to my chat room, Cassandra. What was it?” Brandon asked her again.

“Curiosity,” she answered honestly. That was true as far as it went. She certainly couldn’t tell him she was a cop looking for a sadistic bastard that preyed on lonely women and beat them to death or near death.

“Then, it stands to reason, that you should be curious as to what goes on in a D/s relationship. What better way to find out than to try it,” he reasoned. And the first thing he’d teach her was the safety rules!

She almost groaned. Why was it that somehow that idea actually sent a thrill of anticipation through her? Ok, so she was attracted to his voice, she told herself. “Try what?” Her tone was breathless, though she didn’t realize it.

“A lesson. Start with calling me Sir,” he said calmly.

“And why would I want to do that?”

“Because you were told to,” he said simply. He’d already made up his mind that if Cassandra was going to learn about D/s, she was going to do that learning from him. It was, in part, a game with him, at least on the Internet. But it was also the real life relationship he was looking for. He’d always known that he had a dominant personality. It was his nature. He’d often thought that he’d been born about a hundred years too late. But he also wanted a woman that wasn’t afraid to be his equal.

“Don’t hold your breath,” she muttered.

“Don’t hold your breath, Sir”, he said too softly.

What the hell, she thought. “Sir,” she said obediently. That tone was as hard on her pulse as the stern one had been. There was something slightly dangerous in it.

“I’m impressed. Now, that we’ve got the formalities out of the way, you may call me Brandon.”

“You’re very annoying, did anyone ever tell you that?” she asked, exasperated.

“Not usually, no. I’m actually a very nice guy. Quite easy to get along with, too.”

“Hang out with a lot of women that say ‘Sir’, huh?”

He chuckled. “Maybe.” He paused. “So, tell me about yourself. What do you do for a living?”

Of course, she couldn’t tell him she was a cop. “I work for the city.”

“Doing?” he prompted. He couldn’t picture her at the city library. Not with that voice of hers. God, she had a great voice. The only word to describe it was sultry.

“This and that. What do you do?” she asked curiously. She was just sure he was the CEO or something. Something about him just bespoke authority. Of course, he could also be a little man that made himself feel like someone important by giving himself the title Dom.

He’d give her time to trust him before he probed deeper. “I’m a writer.” At least that was one of his interests. Eventually, he’d tell him his other job, but not right now.

Cassie’s brow furrowed as she tried to remember an author with the first name of Brandon. “Sci-fi? Brandon Williamson?”

He grinned. “Yup.”

“Well, I’ll be damned. I’ve read some of your work. I loved the last one,” she admitted. And she’d also looked at his author photo on the back of the book. He was a hunk, and then some.

Certainly not a six hundred pound anything. Too bad he had a sadistic streak, she thought with a sigh. She wondered if he still may be her guy. His name was well-known enough that perhaps a gullible woman would think he was safe.

“Thank you,” he said formally. “By the way, ladies shouldn’t swear.”

“Is that so?” she retorted. She’d damn well swear if she felt like it! “Are you so easily offended?”

“Not at all. I just consider it a spankable offense.”

Despite herself, Cassie felt that lurch that could have either been anticipation or fear or a combination of both. “Oh. So, what’s a ‘damn’ worth?”

“Hmm.” He paused for effect. “For a first offense, probably only a warning. So, consider that your warning. Now, a really bad swear word is more than likely going to earn a little corner time as well as handwritten lines of ‘Ladies should not swear’, along with a spanking.”

“Lines? An adult woman would actually write lines?” She just couldn’t believe it. She could almost get the game, with spanking for cussing. But writing lines? “You’ve got to be kidding!”

He made his voice all soft again. “Do I sound like I’m kidding, Cassandra?” The rub of it was he wasn’t. More than one of his previous subs had had her bottom warmed for swearing. He just didn’t like it when women swore with no good reason. Subs that knew him would swear so he’d do a scene with them.

“I’ll try to fucking keep that in mind,” she replied. When hell freezes over, she added silently.

“I’m not sure I like that tone, young lady. I’m definitely sure I don’t like the language. Would you like a sample?” He was wracking his brain to find a way to meet her. He suddenly had to meet her, the sooner the better. He really didn’t like it when a lady swore, but damn, he wanted to meet this feisty lady badly. She was deliberately baiting him, and though he could appreciate it, he knew that with this lady, he’d have to set the boundaries early.

Something told him she’d constantly push the envelope. He grinned. Hell, he couldn’t wait.

Sometimes, caution was called for, she decided. “No, Sir.” A part of her did want that sample, though! What was wrong with her?

“I think perhaps you do, though. Don’t you, Cassie?” he asked softly. “You want me to come over, lay you over my lap and give you a spanking, don’t you?”

“I don’t want hurt,” she argued. “I’m not into pain.”

“I would never hurt you, Cassandra. A spanking isn’t about hurting. It’s about learning, among other things. You would learn about yourself and about me as well.”

Suddenly, she had to know exactly what it was about. All of it.

She wanted to know everything, and she knew that she wanted him to be the one to teach her. She still wasn’t sure if this D/s thing was something she wanted to pursue, but the more she talked to Brandon Williamson, the more she wanted to try it. “What if I changed my mind?” If she was going to even consider meeting him, she wanted to be sure there was an out. He was too well-known to be a real danger to her, she figured. And, he didn’t know that she certainly wasn’t defenseless.

She was going to meet him. He was sure of it. “There is always a safe-word, Cassie. Any and all play stops when a safe-word is used. But it’s not to be used lightly, either. Once I begin a scene with you, I’m going to want to finish it. You will want me to, as well.”

“So, if I said stop you’d stop?” she asked hesitantly.

He chuckled. “Stop is a very bad safe-word. I promise, you’ll say stop before you really mean it.”

Frustrated now, she snapped “So, what the hell is a good safe-word, then?”

“That does it,” he said in that soft tone again. He figured she’d used the hell intentionally. “You’ve earned your first lesson. We’ll discuss your safe-word when I get there. What’s your address?”

Her heart was racing. Had she sworn intentionally? Probably.

“I’m not sure about this,” she said, her voice very soft.

“You can trust me, Cassandra. Tell me a word that you can easily remember.”

“Freeze,” she said without thinking.

“That will do just fine. It’s your safe-word. Now, what’s your address?”

Was she really going to do this? Perhaps it would be safer to meet him somewhere pubic, first. Perhaps hell. It would obviously be safer; still…she gave him the address.

He knew exactly where it was. “I’ll be there in twenty minutes. Use that time to write twenty-five times ladies do not swear,” he said, and then promptly hung up.

Cassie was cursing a blue streak as she hung up the phone. Lines, she thought grimly. What the hell, it wouldn’t take long. God, she hadn’t written lines since she’d been in third grade. The imp in her suddenly had an idea, though. She opened her word processor and typed the line in, then copied and pasted it twenty-five times.

She printed the lines out and sat them on the desk, then walked into her room. She stood in front of the mirror, considering if she should change clothes or not. She was wearing her most comfortable Levi’s and a short-sleeved green sweater that she knew accented her hazel eyes. To hell with it, she wouldn’t change. But she did run her comb through her long, wavy hair and checked her makeup.

Before she knew it, there was a soft knock on her front door.

She hurriedly went through the living room to the front door. For half a heartbeat, she considered not answering it. She could be letting in the very man the Department was trying to find, and without backup. But, she decided, her gun was put away, and he had no idea she had one. She could defend herself in hand-to-hand, too, if needed. She took a deep breath, and after checking the peephole, opened the door.

Brandon stood and just looked at her for a long moment. Lord, but she was beautiful. She was about five foot two and weighed no more than one-ten. Her hair was long and wavy, almost curly. And red, as he’d known somehow it would be. Her eyes were deep green, almost exotic, with their upward tilt. “You’re beautiful,” he said huskily.

Cassie smiled. Not a bad opening line, even if it wasn’t true.

She knew that some guys considered her attractive, but she wasn’t beautiful. Mostly, it was her breasts that first attracted men. She was a small woman, and her breasts could not be considered small in anyone’s use of the word. But, still, she liked hearing the compliment.

“You’re not so bad yourself.” His picture hadn’t done him justice. He was definitely a hunk. At least six-three and every bit of it hard, gorgeous male. He wore faded jeans, and a blue buttonup shirt. “Come on in,” she said, stepping back from the door to let him enter. His hair was dark, almost black, and worn too long to be quite fashionable. And his eyes. They were a deep, penetrating blue. There was just a hint of a cleft in his chin. A roll in the hay wasn’t out of the question, she decided on the spot. It had been a while. She held the door open, waiting for him to enter, and gestured toward the couch.

She stood aside as he walked past her. Lord, he was easy on the eyes. It had obviously been too long since she’d had sex if she was considering inviting a total stranger to her bed, but she was considering exactly that.

“Would you like something to drink?” she asked. “I’ve got wine, beer, and soda.”

“I wouldn’t say no to a Coke,” he said with a smile. Alcohol and D/s didn’t mix in his opinion. And he certainly didn’t drink before noon. “Then we can talk.”

She nodded and headed for the kitchen, slightly surprised when he followed her. “You can wait in the living room.”

He smiled. She was nervous. He’d have been surprised if she wasn’t. “Did you write those lines?”

She pointed to the desk in the corner of the room. “Over there,” she replied, her tone petulant.

He walked over to the desk and chuckled out loud when he saw the page. He hadn’t even considered that she’d simply type them He’d half expected her to tell him that she hadn’t done it. He’d only told her to so she wouldn’t get herself worked up while he was driving over. He folded them and put them in his pocket, then walked over to the couch.

Her apartment was lovely. The living room was done in various shades of blue. It was a comfortable room, he decided. She had several plants, and bookshelves. He appreciated anyone who read books—especially his. He looked at the shelf, and indeed, there were several of his books on an upper shelf. Yet, he was sure that he’d never come across her at any of his book signings. Too bad, he thought, he’d have met her a lot sooner.

She walked back into the room carrying two glasses of soda. She sat across the room, though, on the recliner next to the desk. She’d sat his soda down across the room on the table in front of the couch.

He walked over and sat down. He took a long sip of the cold soda, and sat the glass down on one of the coasters. “So, tell me, what made you look up a D/s chat room?”

She shrugged. “I told you, I was just curious.”

“About?” he prompted. This was the third time he’d asked this question, and now that he was here in person, he wanted a full answer.

“I suppose I was trying to figure out why a grown woman would let a man dominate her.”

“Actually, it is strong women that are usually submissive. They are sure of themselves and sure of what they want. Many have demanding careers. It’s a way for them to let themselves go. Most subs find it liberating.”

“And the Dominant one? What about him?” she asked.

He grinned. “We like to be in charge.”

She groaned. “I already figured that much out.”

“It’s mostly about trust. All D/s requires the utmost of trust,” he explained. As he watched her, her body language showed him that she was nervous. She was absently tugging on a curl as she watched him, and he doubted she even realized it. “Come here, Cassandra,” he said softly.

Cassie was angry with herself for being nervous. He was just a man, and it wasn’t as if she was a virgin, for heavens’ sake. She was a twenty-nine year old woman—and a cop to boot! If it came down to it, she could easily take him down. That thought comforted her momentarily, and she tilted her chin up. “I’m fine right here.”

Brandon leaned back on the couch and crossed his arms across his chest. “Tell me why you let me come over, Cassandra.”

“I liked your voice, and your books, and I had questions.”

“Are you sure there was nothing more?” he asked knowingly.

“Your questions could have easily been answered online, or on the phone for that matter.”

He had her there, damn it. “Well, it wasn’t so you could spank me or whatever, if that’s what you’re thinking.” She stood and paced—safely across the room, out of his reach.

Brandon stood and walked over to her. He gently pulled her to a stop and made her face him. “Nothing will happen here that you don’t want to happen, Cassie. I promise you that.” When he felt her relax, he continued. “But I want you to tell me what you do want.”

She raised her eyes and looked deeply into his. She didn’t see anything but kindness there—and excitement. Nothing, though, that really scared her. Her heart fluttered in her chest, and she tried to keep her voice steady. Ok, so she wanted him to take her to bed. And just maybe, to try the spanking thing. “I’m not really sure.”

He moved his hands from her arms, and gently touched her cheek. God, her skin was soft. During his thirty-four years, he’d met many women that he’d wanted. Something about her was

different, though. He enjoyed D/s. For him, is was more than just fun and games. He found himself wanting more from her than just a fun afternoon. Today was just the beginning for him. He sensed that there were many layers to this woman, and he was determined to be the one to discover them all. She was all nerves one minute, then prickly, then downright belligerent. She’d be fun as hell.

Brandon took her hand and led her to the chair she’d vacated, but instead of urging her to sit, he sat himself and pulled her down onto his lap. She was such a tiny little thing, he mused. “Let’s just talk a bit, alright?”

She nodded. Her body was tense. She had to admit though, that she liked sitting on his lap. It made her feel special—and somehow, like a little girl. She wasn’t sure that she entirely liked that feeling.

“Good girl. Now, tell me a little about yourself.”

“What do you want to know?” She looked directly into his eyes.

“I want to know why you invited a complete stranger into your home,” he said simply. Before he could get anywhere with her, she would have to be honest—both with him and, more importantly, with herself. He’d met a lot of people, both male and female, that found the D/s chat room out of sheer curiosity, but something told him that with her, there was more to it. He wanted—no needed—to know.

 “I guess because something about you intrigued me,” she admitted.

He grinned now. “Something about me, huh? You mean my charming personality?”

Cassie smiled. “I don’t know that I’d call it charming. Actually, I thought you were a jerk!” Cassie felt his chest rumble when he started to laugh. Again, her pulse raced.

“Jerk, huh?“ He shrugged. He’d been called worse. “I suppose I might come across that way to someone that doesn’t know me, or the scene. That brings me back to the original question. Why am I here? You know why I wanted to come. Me, I want to give you a spanking, and you knew that when you let me come over,” he added. He was sure she’d known it, too.

Cassie wanted to get up and pace again. When she looked into his eyes, it was as if he were seeing into her soul. He saw entirely too much. “Because I wanted to meet you.”

That was a start, he thought. “And, you know that I have every intention of turning you across my lap and giving you a spanking? Assuming, of course, that you want me to.”

Her heart lurched, then raced again. It was partly wariness, but something else, too. “Yes,” she whispered.

“And you want me to.” It wasn’t a question.

That was a tricky question. She knew that part of her did. Somehow, it excited and frightened her at the same time. “I don’t know if I do or not.”

He tilted her face up, cupping her chin, so she had to look him in the eye. “There is one thing that I will always expect, Cassie. Honesty.” He paused a moment. “You do want spanked.”

“I was being honest. I don’t really know. Part of me does, I think.”

“I want you, Cassie. I want quite a bit from you.“

“What do you want from me?”

“Everything.” It was no more than the truth. He watched her carefully. There were a multitude of expressions in her face and eyes. Desire. Fear. Uncertainty. Lord, her eyes couldn’t hide a thing. Did she know how easy she was to read?

Everything. That one word scared her more than she would like to have admitted. She had always managed to keep a part of herself hidden away, safe. In all her prior relationships, there had been a part of her that no one could touch. It was safer that way.

“You want too much,” she whispered.

He smiled gently. “Not more than I’m willing to give of myself, Cassie.”

 



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