“C’mon, Maddy. It’ll only be for a few weeks. A month tops. Just until he finds his own place.”
I laid the chef’s knife on the cutting board and massaged my neck. “Emma, this really isn’t a good time.”
“Sure, things are a little hectic right now.” She jostled the onions and bell peppers in the frying pan. “You’re starting a new job. I’m working crazy hours at the restaurant. But Cole’s not just some freeloader. He’s my brother. And we have a spare bedroom.”
I sidestepped to the sink to wash my hands while Emma scraped the bits of chicken I’d been cutting into the pan.
“I just don’t think either of us have the time or energy to play hostess.”
“We wouldn’t be hosting him.” She brushed her bangs away from her eyes. “He’s offered to pay rent.”
I gazed out the window at the busy street below. It wasn’t about money. With Emma’s recent promotion and me about to step into the position of digital marketing manager at a mid-sized start-up, we’d have no trouble making rent.
“What about your mom? Can’t he stay with her?”
“She lives two hours away. His new job is here in Philly. Plus, you know how she is. I couldn’t do that to him.” Emma gripped the pan by the handle and tossed the contents into the air. “Is this about what happened with Ashley?”
“No way,” I answered too quickly.
“Seriously, Maddy, I have no problem telling him he can’t do that kinky shit here.”
I opened my mouth to protest and then closed it. Emma could always tell when I was lying. She leaned against the counter and sighed. “Fine. If you’re that uncomfortable with it, I’ll tell him it’s not going to work out.”
Emma turned her attention back to the stir-fry. I swiped a fingertip across my eyebrow, smoothing the light hairs -- a nervous habit and one Emma would’ve noted had she been looking at me.
Ashley. Just hearing her name set my teeth on edge. Five years ago, when Emma and I were high school seniors, Ashley had been our mutual friend, though I would use the term “friend” loosely. I was never fond of her. When I found out she and Cole had hooked up at one of Emma’s parties, I liked her even less. When they began dating, I downright despised her.
She knew it, too. Ashley was always good at reading people, and if she discovered a weakness, she made it her mission to prod it. When she realized I was harboring feelings for her boyfriend, she decided to let us in on a little secret: Cole was into BDSM. Bondage/discipline, domination/submission, sadomasochism. I’d heard the acronym, but at the time I was so sexually green, it may as well have been a foreign language. However, once Ashley had planted the idea, I couldn’t stop imagining what it might be like to kneel at Cole’s feet, to lay across his lap, to feel the sharp slap of his hand on my behind.
I thought back to the night of our high school graduation. A group of us, Cole included, had gone out to celebrate. In the middle of dinner, Ashley grabbed my hand and whispered, “I want to show you something.”
She dragged me into the restroom where she raised a finger to her glossed lips and lifted her skirt, displaying a red thong and a bright pink ass. “Before we picked you guys up, Cole pulled the car over, opened the driver’s side door, threw me over his lap, and spanked me. My face was hanging like a foot above the concrete. It was so hot.”
“Lovely.” I averted my gaze but not for long. Her ass was radiant. My groin tightened as I imagined the scene unfolding but with a different heroine.
A shiver rippled up my spine at the memory, pulling me back to the present. Emma tapped the wooden spoon against the side of the pan and shut off the burner.
“Dinner’s ready,” she said.
“I’ll set the table.” I needed to do something with my hands.
Guilt sank like an anchor in my stomach as I laid out our utensils. Emma hadn’t seen her brother since Christmas. I hadn’t seen Cole since our college graduation over a year ago. I remembered stepping out into the sea of proud families and how the air fled from my chest when my gaze landed on Cole’s smile. I’d had to close my eyes to stop myself from grinning like an idiot.
Emma was quiet all through dinner. I pretended not to notice. Finally, she said, “You know, his fiancé left him.”
I reached for my wine glass. “I thought he told you it was amicable.”
“He did. Then last week, when he called to tell me about the new job, it just…came out.” Emma speared a hunk of chicken with her fork. “Apparently he cheated on her.”
A sour taste coated my tongue. I gulped the last of my wine in an attempt to wash it away. Cole, a cheater? I’d known the guy since I was ten. From the day he turned fourteen to the day he moved to California, there’d been an endless parade of steady girlfriends. Not once had I heard so much as a rumor about him being unfaithful.
I set my fork down. Perhaps this was what I needed to hear, that Cole wasn’t the perfect boyfriend, or Dom, I’d always believed him to be. Maybe now I could finally let go of my adolescent crush and stop being so selfish. Cole was my best friend’s older brother. Was I really going to keep her from being there for him when he needed her?
“Fine,” I said. “He can stay.”
Emma’s face lit up like Christmas. “Are you sure?”
“Thank you, Maddy.” Emma grabbed my hand. “It’ll mean so much to him.”
“I’m not doing it for him.” I squeezed her fingers.
I started my new job the following week which left little time for stressing over Cole’s arrival. Emma took care of setting up his bedroom and making the apartment look halfway decent.
The day he arrived was bright and unseasonably warm for September. Emma went to pick him up from the airport while I attempted to squeeze in a few extra minutes of work. I was still growing accustomed to my new leadership position with all its responsibilities. From time to time, I found myself reminiscing about the carefree days when I was just an intern, a lowly minion, a subordinate. My ears pricked at the sound of a key turning in the lock.
“The TSA probably lives for that shit.” Emma stepped into the living room with Cole in tow, hauling his suitcase behind him. He closed the door. “You’d think people would know better than to pack sex toys in their carry-ons.”
I set my laptop on the coffee table and stood, smoothing my blouse. My hands shook. He was still so damn beautiful with eyes that were more green than blue, a jaw like sculpted marble, pretty, girlish lips with a pronounced cupid’s bow, and cheekbones so high and sharp they practically qualified as weapons.
“Hey, Madeline.” He always called me by my full name.
“Hi.” I smiled shyly. My breath caught in my chest as he moved in for a hug. He smelled warm, like cinnamon or cloves. I had to tamp my lips shut to stop myself from whimpering as he pulled away.
“Are you hungry?” Emma kicked off her shoes. “I made boeuf bourguignon.”
“Sure,” he said. “That sounds incredible.”
“I think you mean, incredibly French,” she said. “I’ll heat some up. Maddy can show you to your room.”
Thankfully, our apartment wasn’t huge, so all I had to do was gesture to the door next to mine at the end of the hall.
Dinner was delicious, as always. Cole and Emma had plenty to talk about, which meant I didn’t have to do much other than smile and nod.
“So, you’re working in a bar,” said Emma.
Cole nodded. “The Gridlock over on Chestnut. They needed a manager and part-time bartender, and I just so happen to have experience with both.”
I watched his Adam’s apple shift as he swallowed.
Emma smirked. “Since when do you tend bars?”
“Since I stopped playing in them.” Cole dragged a chunk of bread through the sauce at the bottom of his plate. “I told you the band broke up last fall.”
“Dude.” She slapped the table. “You are so making us drinks tonight.”
I offered to wash the dishes since Emma had cooked. Cole set about making martinis. Emma queued up a movie and sat in her usual spot on the sofa while I curled up on the opposite end. Cole brought us our drinks. I expected him to sit in the armchair, but instead he settled in between us.
“These movies are so predictable,” he said. “You know the main character isn’t going to die, so why get all worked up?”
“How do you know he isn’t?” Emma rested her foot on the coffee table.
“Because it’s American, and there’s a sequel.”
She raised her glass. “Well, you’ve served your purpose, so feel free to take your unsolicited DVD commentary to your room and leave us to our shitty taste in movies.”
Cole laughed. I nursed my martini and tried to ignore the fact that his thigh was touching mine. We made it twenty minutes before Emma begged her brother to make us another round. By the halfway point, we’d lost interest in the gun-slinging and car chasing and started reminiscing.
“I still can’t believe you blew Greg Kilkenny,” said Emma.
“I did not.” I shot her a firm glare.
“You did so.” She sipped her drink, almost dribbling onto her shirt. “I saw the look on his face when you guys stepped out of the car before prom. I also can’t believe he picked you up in his mom’s minivan, but that’s a separate issue.”
“I did not blow him. We just made out.”
“Sure you did.” Cole snickered.
“That was not a make-out smile,” said Emma. “That was a full-on fellatio face.”
I rolled my eyes. “Fine. I gave him a hand job.”
Emma pointed an unsteady finger at me. “I knew it! You jerked him off in the back of Mrs. Kilkenny’s van and forced that poor woman to scrape her son’s crusted love juice off the upholstery. You sick, sad pervert.”
My cheeks burned. “You are obnoxious when you’re drunk, you know that?”
“Yes.” She finished what was left in her glass. “But I was right and that’s what matters.”
I was still on my second martini when Emma started her fourth. My phone vibrated on the coffee table. I picked it up. The clock in the upper right corner read 12:45 a.m. I should’ve been tired, considering the week I’d had, but I wasn’t. I was buzzed, in more ways than one.
The room had gone quiet. I glanced up to find Emma nodding off and Cole eyeing me over the rim of his glass.
“No.” I laughed softly and checked my text messages. “Over-enthusiastic co-worker.”
Emma’s head fell forward and then jerked back up. She stretched her arms and yawned. “All right. I’m going to bed.”
“Sleep on your side, okay,” I said.
She nodded and sauntered down the hall into her room. The credits rolled on the television. Neither Cole nor I said anything for a few moments. I thumbed my phone, waiting for him to slide to the other cushion.
He cleared his throat. “Thanks for being cool with me staying here. I know it’s an imposition.”
“It’s fine. We have the room.” I reminded myself that he wouldn’t be here at all if he hadn’t cheated on his fiancé.
Cole swished the clear liquid in his glass. “It’s been a while since we hung out. Of course, it was a lot easier when we all lived in the same place.”
“Right,” I said. My whole body felt flushed, though I couldn’t tell if it was from the alcohol or the fact that he still hadn’t moved. “Plus, you were dating Ashley.”
“Oh, God. That was a train wreck.” He downed the last of his martini.
“She was an asshole.” I bit down on my tongue. “Sorry, I mean --”
“It’s okay. Ashley was a lot of things. She could be sweet, but it came at a price. And half the time I got the feeling that she wasn’t really…” He pursed his lips.
“Wasn’t really what?”
“Nothing. You don’t want to hear about that stuff.”
I took one last sip of liquid courage. “You know, Ashley told us what you guys were into.”
“Yeah, I figured. The girl loved to talk.” Cole’s features pinched together and then softened. “Anyway, I just got the impression that she didn’t really enjoy being submissive. She got off on the idea of it but couldn’t respect the dynamic.”
“Right.” I smoothed my brows. “Honestly, I always thought of her as more of a casual bottom.”
Cole cocked his head. “Since when are you into BDSM?”
I shrugged. The alcohol loosened my tongue, but I couldn’t shake the tension in my shoulders.
“I had no idea.” He shifted, resting his ankle on his opposite knee. “What are you into? If you don’t mind me asking.”
I swallowed. “Well, what I’m into and what I’ve tried don’t exactly coincide.”
“What have you tried?”
“Nothing crazy. Just, you know, fuzzy handcuffs, blindfolds, that sort of thing.”
“On you or your partners?”
“On me. They weren’t all that enthusiastic about taking things further. I mean, they would’ve if I’d asked, but...”
“But you didn’t.”
I shook my head. “It’s nice when someone’s willing to try stuff because you want to, but it’s a lot more exciting to know they want it just as much.”
“Yeah. It is.” His gaze narrowed. “So, tell me what you’re into.”
It wasn’t a question.
“Standard stuff, I guess. Bondage, S&M, submission. Spanking.”
“You want to be spanked.” Cole’s lip quirked.
My buzz was wearing off. I wiped the sweat from my upper lip, hoping he hadn’t noticed it, which was silly because we were practically on top of each other. I was tired of talking and having the spotlight focused solely on me. “What about you? I’m sure the sex you and your fiancé had put everything you did with Ashley to shame.”
“My ex wasn’t into it.”
“Oh.” I paused. “How long were you two together?”
“A year and a half.” Cole’s gaze dropped.
“Can I ask what happened?”
I needed to hear him say it.
Cole sighed. “I did a scene with someone else. We didn’t have sex, but we may as well have, as far as my ex was concerned. She was right, in a lot of ways. There was some emotional infidelity.” He studied his hands. “It’d been so long. I just…needed the release. I never wanted to hurt her.” He grunted. “I mean, I did. That was kind of the problem.”
Cole scrubbed his guilt-ridden face. I couldn’t condone his behavior, but I could relate. For years I’d placed myself in relationships with men who couldn’t give me what I wanted. I thought I was being practical, but in truth, I was afraid -- afraid that the things I wanted were too extreme, too strange, too hard to find, so why bother? Eventually, I stopped dating altogether.
Vanilla sex left me hollow. I wanted to be filled to bursting. I took a deep breath and touched his knee. “I’m sorry. I know how it feels to repress who you are in order to fit someone else’s mold of what’s acceptable, and I know what it is to deny yourself the things you want most. But you shouldn’t have to.”
Cole stared at my hand. “Why do you deny yourself?”
“Fear mostly. And the belief that what I want most is something I can never have.”
“And what do you want?” Cole studied me, his eyes hungry for something I couldn’t put into words. I only knew I wanted to give it to him.
He wetted his lips. “I could give you that, if you’d let me.”
My pulse beat a hasty rhythm as heat and pressure pooled between my thighs.
“I would like that very much.”
The corner of Cole’s mouth twitched. “Madeline, when you played with your exes, did you use a safe word?”
“What was it?”
I swallowed hard. “Mercy.”
He braced his foot against the coffee table and pushed it away from us.
“Kneel on the floor, facing me.”
My heart drummed in my chest. I stretched my legs out in front of me and rose from the couch. I dropped to my knees and lowered my gaze instinctively. I waited. I wasn’t sure how long. Cole sat unmoving, his feet planted firmly to the floor. Please, I thought, tell me to do something.
“Crawl to my room.”
My whole body hummed with arousal. I pivoted and placed my palms on the carpet. Normally, I would’ve balked at touching the floor, but I was so turned on that the thought barely registered. Cole could’ve ordered me to roll around in mud and I’d have done it gladly. He stood and I scurried forward, almost tripping over my hands.
“Slowly,” he said with a lilt of amusement.
I concentrated on moving my hands and knees in tandem. He was right behind my heels the whole way. I’d never felt so present, so aware of myself. His footsteps echoed in my ears, slow and heavy. I stopped when I reached his door.
“Good girl,” he said.
My pussy throbbed. I wanted him to keep talking, to keep ordering me to do things, just so I could hear him say those two delicious words over and over again.
He opened the door.
“Stand and walk to the center of the room.”
I rose to my feet and stepped through the doorway, and stood between the bed and dresser. The room was small with clean, modern furnishings. No frills. The latch on the door clicked shut. Cole circled me. I kept my gaze lowered.
“Take off your clothes.”
I felt my heartbeat in my fingertips. I removed my jeans and blouse, chancing a glance at Cole’s face. He shook his head, though his mouth tilted into a slight smile. I unhooked my bra and let it fall to the floor.
“Leave your panties on and keep your arms at your sides,” he said. “And do not speak unless I address you directly.”
Cole moved closer, tilting his head this way, then that. He wasn’t just looking at me. He was assessing me. Every inch of me, except what was covered by my underwear. He paused behind me. I felt his breath waft over my shoulder. My skin tingled. He gripped my upper arms. “You know your safe word?”
“Yes Co—” I wasn’t sure what to call him.
“Cole’s fine. Unless you’d prefer something else.”
I swallowed. “Sir?”
“Sir works.” His lips grazed my ear.
I swayed in place, my back brushing his shirt. “Yes, I know my safe word, Sir.”
“Good. Don’t be afraid to use it.”
Cole clapped both hands to my breasts and squeezed hard. I cried out.
“Shh,” he breathed. He pinched my nipples and rubbed his crotch against my backside. I felt him, hard and growing harder. Ashley had referred to Cole’s “monster cock” on more than one occasion, much to Emma’s displeasure. She wasn’t kidding.
Cole followed his rough handling with gentle caresses, coaxing my nipples with the tips of his fingers. The light touches felt electric on my abused skin. He ran his palms down my belly and around to my back. He squeezed my ass before coming to sit on the edge of the bed before me. I glanced at his lap and licked my lips at the sight of the bulge his jeans.
“Kneel at my feet,” he said. I dropped to my knees and crawled to him. Cole cupped my cheek in his hand. I pressed my face into it and kissed his palm. “You’re a natural, Madeline.”
I beamed. My clitoris throbbed, as did my nipples. I was a ball of need, yet my mind was fully focused on Cole’s words, his wants, his needs, and how I could satisfy them.
He patted his thigh. “Lie across my lap.”
I climbed onto the bed and draped myself over his legs. His cock felt warm against my belly even through the denim. Cole stroked the backs of my thighs. I held my breath as his fingers snaked into my panties.
“I always thought you had a nice ass.” He slid his entire palm into my underwear. I exhaled heavily and shifted against him as he kneaded my flesh. “Let’s take a closer look.”
He drew my panties down my thighs. My skin pricked, becoming a landscape of goosebumps. Cole’s erection swelled beneath me as he palmed my right cheek.
“Just as I thought.”
“Even better without all that fabric.” He raked his short fingernails from my tailbone to the top of my left thigh. “Hey, did I ask you a question?”
I tensed. “No, Sir.”
The slap rang out before I registered the contact. I shrieked as the pain pulsed outward, a slow lingering burn. Cole clamped his other hand over my mouth. “Do not cry out like that again.” His words were firm.
Cole groped my battered cheek and then slid to the other side. He hit me again, this time not as hard. I moaned softly into his palm and writhed against his lap. He spanked me five times on the left and four on the right before skating his fingertips across the burning expanse.
I was boneless, jelly wrapped in skin. Cole drew his fingers from the back of my thigh to the underside of my knee, which he tickled, sending shivers along my leg. I twitched in his lap, my belly pushing against his erection as I tried to stifle my laughter. My underwear had slid down to my calves, allowing him plenty of room to roam. He slipped them off and brought his hand to my inner thigh.
“Do you want me to make you come?”
“Yes, Sir.” I thought I would die if he didn’t touch me.
“I want you to make me come, Sir.” The words fell from my lips like an offering.
“Beg, Madeline.” He stroked my pubic hair.
“Please, make me come, Sir. I want you to make me come.”
Cole’s fingers slid between my folds. He located my clit and began to draw circles over it. I bit my bottom lip to the point of pain as I struggled not to moan. His touch was delicate, torturous. He weaved his free hand into my hair and pulled.
“If only we didn’t have to be quiet,” he said. “I get the distinct impression that you’re a screamer.” I gasped and wheezed. He wasn’t wrong. Cole massaged my clit with expert fingers, reading me like his favorite book, knowing when to press harder and when to go softly.
“Will you come for me, Madeline?” He slipped two fingers inside me. “I’m not going to stop until you do.”
“Yes, Sir.” I clutched the bedspread. “I want to come for you.”
Cole fucked me with his fingers and rocked his hips, pushing his cock against me. I closed my eyes and focused on the pressure between my legs, his hardness beneath my stomach. He brought his slick fingertips back to my clit. My muscles clenched. My mouth contorted. I came as quietly as I could, panting and grunting, riding out my orgasm until he pulled away.
“I’m going to give you a choice.” His voice was hoarse. “I can either fuck your mouth or tie your wrists and fuck your pussy. Choose.”
I lowered my forehead to the comforter, my inner thighs already wet with arousal. “My pussy, Sir.”
Cole pulled my hair. I rose onto my knees, and he slid out from under me.
“Lie on your back,” he said. I obeyed. Cole took off his shirt. He unbuckled his belt and laid it on the bed beside me. My eyes widened as he dropped his pants to the floor. His cock was perfect, just like the rest of him, long and thick with a slight upward curve. He rifled through his suitcase and returned with a condom, which he placed on the bedside table.
“Hold out your hands.” I offered my palms. Cole straddled my hips and wrapped his belt around my wrists a couple of turns, making a simple knot. I tested my restraints. They held. He guided my arms overhead and lowered his body to mine. His eyelashes grazed my cheeks. I’d almost forgotten that we hadn’t kissed yet. Such a basic, introductory act, and we’d sidestepped it completely. His lips brushed my lips. I offered my mouth to him, meeting his tongue lick for lick. Cole rose to his knees and grabbed the condom from the bedside table. I watched him roll it onto his cock.
“Turn over,” he said. I shifted onto my stomach. “This ass could be redder.” Cole’s hand came down hard on my left side, then my right. I whimpered into the bedspread as he landed twelve blows. My skin felt hot. A low hum rumbled up from his throat.
“Beautiful.” He glided his fingertips over both cheeks and onto my thighs, which he eased apart and moved between. I gasped as he slid two fingers inside me and then withdrew. There was a wet, lip-smacking sound, followed by a deep moan. Cole covered me with his body, positioning his cock between my legs. He nipped and sucked my earlobe. “Next time, I’m going to go down on you until you beg me to stop. And then, you know what I’ll do?”
“What will you do, Sir?” My insides melted at the possibility of there being a next time.
Cole pushed inside me. I moaned into the bedspread as his front pelvis pressed against my sensitive rear. He slid back out and then in again, commencing a slow rhythm. I balled my fists and pulled at my bonds, but I was trapped. All I could do was lie beneath him and take it. Although I was pinned by his weight, I’d never felt lighter. I gave Cole my control and he gave me his undivided attention. It was a fair trade.
He hastened his pace, his breath pouring over the back of my neck. I closed my eyes and tightened my inner muscles. It was the only way I could hold him. Cole groaned into my hair and thrust harder. His hands clutched my upper arms as he drove his cock deeper. He came with a gasp and then stilled.
I opened my eyes. Cole’s heart pounded against my back. He pulled out and discarded the condom before his cock softened. The bed shifted, and I felt his hands at my wrists. He unwound the belt and tossed it aside before coming to lay beside me.
“How was that?” Cole stroked my back.
I sighed, utterly spent.
“That good, huh?” He chuckled. I turned my face toward him and smiled. Cole brushed a lock of hair from my eyes. I thought about asking if I should sleep in my own bed, but before I could speak, he was tugging the blankets out from under me to cover us both.
I awoke to the sun shining directly on my face through the open window. I rolled onto my stomach and noted that I was alone. The clock on the nightstand read 10:47 a.m. I sat up and rubbed my eyes. I put on my shirt and underwear and slipped into my bedroom for a pair of shorts before heading down the hall.
The scent of hot coffee coaxed me into the kitchen. Emma was seated at the table with her head in her hands while Cole stood before the open refrigerator door.
He smiled when he saw me. “Morning, Madeline.”
“Hey.” I waved awkwardly and sat across from Emma. “How’re you doing, Em?”
She groaned. “I’m dying. No, scratch that. I’m already dead.”
Cole pulled a carton of eggs from the fridge. “You should drink some water.”
“I should never drink again. Ever.”
“Well, that, too.” Cole rifled through our cupboards. “Where do you guys keep your frying pans?”
“Oven drawer.” Emma palmed her face. “I feel like I’ve been hit by a fucking bus.”
“Maybe stick to one or two next time,” I offered.
“Thank you, Captain Hindsight.”
Cole filled a glass with tap water and set it in front of his sister. “Drink this.” He turned to me. “Eggs for breakfast?”
Emma groaned. “Don’t say eggs. Or breakfast. In fact, let’s play the Quiet Game.”
“Eggs sound great,” I whispered.
“Good, ’cause that’s about the extent of my skill set.” Cole squeezed Emma’s shoulder. “You, drink your damn water.”
“You’re not the boss of me. And before I forget, we have a new house rule: no kinky shit.”
His lips tilted into a half-smirk. “Is that right?”
“Yes. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go take a ten-hour shower.” Emma rose from the table and lumbered down the hall.
Cole claimed her empty seat. “House rule, huh?”
“Eh, I’m willing to negotiate new terms.” I grinned. “I’m also happy to let you be the boss of me.”
Cole slid the glass he’d filled for Emma across the table. “Drink.”
I raised it to my lips.
Rachel Woe is a forbidden love junkie who probably watched too many inappropriate movies as a teenager. A longtime lover of risqué fiction, she used to smuggle Story of O and The Sleeping Beauty trilogy to school, folded inside brown-bag book covers. On the rare occasion when she’s neither reading nor writing, you can find her camped out at the back of the cinema or on the hunt for a perfect Irish eggs Benny.