Author: Tiffany Reisz “At twenty-three years of age, I would have hoped pouting would be far behind you, Eleanor. ”
Eleanor turned her face to the car window and rolled her eyes. She didn’t pay any attention to the soft winter woods gliding past her; she simply didn’t want him to see her childish response to his rebuke. She was in enough trouble with him already. Him—she wouldn’t even think or speak his name.
“I’m not pouting. . . sir. ” She delayed adding the term of respect for as long as safely possible. “Pouting is what I do when you send me to bed without supper. You’re leaving me for a week and just pawning me off on some stranger. Pouting is not what this is. ”
She heard him sigh and felt a tug of sympathy that she quickly forced aside. She knew she was being difficult, but he was being impossible.
“Then what is it?” he asked.
Eleanor kept her jaw tight. “Righteous indignation. ”
“Righteous indeed,” he said. “You realize that Daniel is only a stranger to you,” he reminded her, but Eleanor only stared out the window again. Daniel. . . something. She didn’t even know his last name or anything about him. He was rich apparently. He’d sent a limo to bring her to him. She’d thought the limo was a little ridiculous, but at least it gave her the privacy to vent her frustration at him during the whole drive. “He is an old and dear friend,” he continued. “One of the best men I have ever known. As I’ve told you before, his wife died nearly three years ago. He’s been something of a recluse ever since. ”
“So giving me to him to fuck for a week is supposed to mend his poor broken heart?” she challenged. “You must think I’m pretty damn good in bed. ”
“Although considerable, it’s hardly your prowess in the bedroom that I imagine will help Daniel return to the outside world again. I merely wish you to keep him company while I’m away. Whether or not he chooses to sample your talents is his decision. ”
“So I don’t get a say?”
Eleanor started at the sound of the tinted window separating them from the driver being raised. But she wasn’t surprised when he grabbed her by the knees and wrenched her toward him. She ended up on her back stretched across the dark leather of the seat, his hands lifting her skirt and prying her thighs apart. With two fingers he penetrated her quick and hard.
“Who do you belong to?” he demanded, his voice quietly threatening.
She forced herself to breathe, forced herself to meet his eyes—eyes gray and ominous as a rising storm.
“You, sir,” she answered through teeth gritting against the sudden violation.
“And this,” he said, spreading his fingers open inside her. She felt herself growing wet at his touch and had to curse her betraying body for being so endlessly responsive to him. “Who does this belong to?”
“You, sir. ”
“Mine to keep?”
“Yes, sir. ”
“Mine to give away?”
She swallowed before answering. “Yes, sir. ”
“And mine to come claim again?”
Tears tried to form in her eyes but she forced them down. She nodded and whispered, “Yes, sir. ”
Slowly he pulled his fingers out of her. She sat up and straightened her skirt while he wiped her wetness off his hand with a black handkerchief.
“Now,” he said without bothering to look at her, “you’ve had your say. ”
Eleanor said nothing else as the limo pulled into the long, winding driveway of a snow-covered colonial manor. At least he’s got a nice house, Eleanor told herself. She’d almost expected it to look like a prison. But still, a pretty home was cold comfort for spending a week alone with a man she’d never met.
The limo stopped at the front door and a man, presumably Daniel, came out to greet them. She stood to the side shivering as she let the old friends exchange greetings and handshakes. Out of the corner of her eyes she studied Daniel. She guessed he was thirty-six or thirty-seven; he certainly looked no older. And, she grudgingly conceded, he was very handsome. Far from the thin pale hermit she’d imagined, he was well-muscled with a face as chiseled as an old Hollywood movie idol. His blond hair made him seem slightly less threatening but when he turned his attention to her, she stiffened in fear. His eyes were neither cold nor cruel, but flush with sorrow. The sadness rendered him immediately human to her and that was the last thing she wanted or needed. To get through this week, she needed to keep her guard up. She’d let him have her body if he demanded it of her. She’d give him nothing else.
“So this is Eleanor,” Daniel said as he offered her his hand. She shook it briskly and quickly before dropping it and pulling her arms tight in around her.
“My Eleanor, yes,” he said with a smile of affection and pride. His obvious love for her didn’t stop her from still thinking of him as just him. Faced with the reality of the week ahead, she was more furious at him than ever.
“It’s very nice to meet you,” Daniel said. “It’ll be nice to have a houseguest again. I’ve been a bit of a Miss Havisham lately. ”
Eleanor bit her lip not wanting to laugh at his astute, if ridiculous, literary reference. She hadn’t expected him to be a Dickens fan.
“I’ll be sure not to eat the wedding cake,” Eleanor said before she could stop herself. She was naturally chatty and even a bad mood couldn’t quite keep her from bantering.
“Ah, she reads,” Daniel said. “Good. I’m trying to reorganize my library this week. An extra pair of hands will be a great help. ”
“Eleanor loves books,” he said. “She even works in a bookstore so at the very least you’ll have a perfectly alphabetized collection. ”
“Oh, it’s already alphabetized,” Daniel said as he ushered them inside the house. “I’m just not sure which alphabet. Certainly not the English one. ”
Eleanor glanced around Daniel’s home as they made their way to what she guessed was the drawing room. The house seemed vast but warm and would have been cozy but for its enigmatic master. In the presence of such pain, Eleanor doubted she could ever feel at home.
Daniel gestured toward a chair and he sat down. One glance from him brought her to her knees at his feet. In private she always sat at his feet. That she was to take the standard submissive posture in front of Daniel meant only one thing—Daniel was one of them. Or had been, at least, before his wife died.
“Could I offer either of you a drink?” Daniel asked, taking a seat on the sofa across from them.
“No, thank you. ” Eleanor let him speak for her. “I really must be going. My flight leaves in three hours. ”
“Back to Rome again?” Daniel asked.
“Again,” he said, sounding tired of it all.
“I’ll walk you out. ”
Usually he would never leave her without a long and intimate goodbye. But this time he merely stood, brushed a finger gently across her cheek and chin, and left her alone in the room. She waited on the floor although she desperately wanted to run after him and beg him to take her with him. But she was far too well-trained to break a submissive posture for the sole purpose of engaging in what she knew would be a futile emotional outburst.
After a few moments, Daniel returned to the drawing room. He said nothing at first and Eleanor could only keep her silence and her eyes lowered.
“Please, sit,” he said, his voice kind and quietly amused. “In a chair. ”
“Oh, a chair. How extraordinarily generous,” she said, unable to maintain her submissive comportment now that she was truly alone with Daniel.
“I understand that you’re upset with this arrangement. ”
Eleanor smirked. Upset?
“I get it,” she said as she sat in the armchair b
ehind her. “This is good cop, bad cop, right? Bad cop works me over and leaves and then good cop comes in and offers me the milk and the cookies and the nice comfy chair. How cute. ”
“He warned me you were smart. He neglected to mention you were a smart-ass as well. ”
She had to give Daniel some credit. He was impressively unimpressed by her sarcasm. Tougher even than he looked.
“He may live to be a hundred and the word ‘smart-ass’ will never pass those perfect lips of his and you know it,” she said.
Daniel half laughed. “He is a bit too proper for that, isn’t he? I suppose he would say you were—”
“Impudent,” she suggested.
“A fair assessment, I think. He could have warned me you were impudent. ”
“I guess he thinks it goes without saying. Since you’re playing good cop, should I expect a big dinner now? A massage maybe? Or how about the sob story about your poor dead wife and how you’re so sad I should blow you nine ways to Sunday?” she asked, deliberately trying to get a rise out of him. But he still seemed unmoved. That scared her even more than an emotional reaction would have. His pain was too deep to be touched. It made him seem far beyond her.
“I think we’ve left the kingdom of impudent and entered the realm of bitchiness. ”
She almost laughed. Bitchiness—another word she would never hear him say.
“A fair assessment,” she said, repeating Daniel’s words.
Daniel inhaled and exhaled heavily. She could tell he was considering his next words.
“I won’t burden you with a sob story,” he said. “But you deserve some explanation for your presence here. I was married, blissfully, for seven years. My wife and I were as you and—”
“If you want to get on my good side, please don’t say his name. I’ll make it through this week a hell of a lot easier if I don’t have to hear about him or talk about him. ”
Daniel nodded. “As you and he are,” he continued. “She was more than my wife. She was my property, my possession. . . and my best friend. She died three years ago. I have been with no one since. When I confessed this to S—to him, he insisted that some time with you would be therapeutic. As you belong to him, there is no threat of romantic entanglement. And as you are already familiar with the specific requirement of the lifestyle—”
“I’m kinky. You don’t have to resort to euphemisms. ”
“Then the transition from celibacy back to sexuality would be far smoother. ”
“So you do plan to fuck me then?” she asked although she knew the answer already.
“When you’re ready and if you have no objection. ”
“I’m here, aren’t I? Nobody’s got a gun to my head. ”
“Force is for amateurs. I will sleep alone for eternity before I would ever take an unwilling partner to bed. He has shared you with others before, hasn’t he?”
“Yeah, of course. But—” she said and took a breath “—he was always there. ”
“I understand. As I said, when you’re ready. And not until then. ”
“So what now?” she asked after a moment’s pause. Daniel stood up and went to the door. She quickly joined him.
“I’m sure you need to unpack and rest. So I suppose for the night I’ll simply send you to your room. ”
“Send me to my room? After what a bitch I’ve been?” Eleanor scoffed. “From good cop to cop-out. Fine, I’ll go to my room. ” She moved to take a step but Daniel caught her by the chin. She gasped at the sudden unexpected movement, shocked by the sudden change in his demeanor.
He forced her to meet his eyes.
“I haven’t played this game in years,” he said, his voice low and forbidding. “That does not mean I’ve forgotten how. ”
Eleanor didn’t dare to blink or breathe. Daniel loosened his grip on her chin but did not let her go.
“I may not touch you again for the rest of this week,” he said. “Or I may fuck you blind, deaf and dumb. But you will be respectful of me while you are here no matter what the sleeping arrangements prove to be. Understood?”