There was something about Sophie, though. A passion for her goals, a healthy ambition rooted in her desire to be good at something she loved. He knew so little about her, but he did know that once he discovered her every secret, he’d be even more impressed. Even though he despised journalists as a rule because they couldn’t keep their noses out of his life, Sophie seemed different. It wasn’t morbid curiosity that had her begging for his story. There was pain and fear in her eyes, something he recognized all too well because he was forced to look at it in the mirror every day. This was the secret he wished to know most about her. What had driven her to seek him out; what reason could she have for needing his story, needing to know how he’d survived?
He slid an arm around her waist as they went up the steps to the door.
“Sophie, where are you staying in town?”
“The Brighton Bed and Breakfast. Why?” She raised a delicate brow.
Emery tightened his grip on her waist. “Hans, go to the Brighton and retrieve Sophie’s things. Settle her bill while you’re there.”
She jerked out of his grip. “Hey! You can’t do that!”
“Are you objecting to the removal of your luggage or my paying the bill?”
Her hesitation told him everything. She was afraid of ceding control to him. A small bump in the road, one he’d have to smooth over quickly.
Sophie sighed, eyes drifting up as though beseeching the heavens to spare her from him.
“You can’t just…” Her fists clenched against her thighs.
“You forget about our bargain. I set the limits and the terms. You get your story.”
He didn’t leave room for her to argue. He simply tucked her arm through his and escorted her into his home. Emery didn’t miss the flicker of amusement in Hans’s eyes. Unable to resist, he flashed a small smile at his bodyguard. Hans was a good friend, a mentor, and one of the few people outside his family and his two friends Royce and Wes who he trusted implicitly, without question. Emery kept his distance from the rest of the staff at Lockwood, which was really only a small weekly cleaning crew, but Hans was never kept at arm’s length. A man’s bodyguard had to know his charge well enough to anticipate his needs and, more importantly, any life-threatening circumstances that could develop. He and Hans had been together a long time.
He covered her lips with a fingertip. “Let’s get any objections out of the way right now. You’ll sleep in my room, my bed. Unless of course you’re afraid of me…or is it that you’re afraid of yourself, of the passions you hide?” Outside his home, he couldn’t afford to demand such intimacy with a woman; it was too dangerous for him. But here…inside these walls he could breathe and just…be.
She narrowed her eyes, the angry expression only making her more irresistible to him. Her stubbornness was going to give him so much pleasure.
“When you glare at me, it only reminds me I owe you a punishment.” Her eyes darkened with rebellious heat as he teased her. Never had he craved fire as he did in that moment. His little warrior liked the idea of a spanking. He’d certainly remember that.
Sophie opened her mouth beneath his finger and moved to bite him. He moved faster, catching her chin and pulling her head up, forcing her up on tiptoe to steal a kiss. He gave it to her hard, focusing every bit of himself on her mouth, the way she tasted like strawberries, her retreating, hesitant tongue when he took control. He opened her mouth further, distracting her while he captured her wrists behind her back. He loved restraints, and couldn’t wait to get her beneath him, tied to his bed. Someday he’d allow her to touch him, to stroke those lovely hands all over his body. But the need to have her powerless and trusting in his bed, awaiting the fulfillment of her every desire, was a potent need that made him nearly blind with hunger.
She melted in his arms, a little purr escaping her mouth between kisses. There was nothing better than getting a strong, intelligent, beautiful woman to surrender. It wasn’t about force, wasn’t about breaking someone down. It was about gaining trust, and getting a woman like Sophie to submit fully would be like nothing else he’d ever done. A true achievement. Never in his life had he wanted to accept a challenge like dominating her.
When he drew back to look at her, her silver gray eyes were soft, warm, like polished moonstones.
“Your mouth is dangerous.” He feathered another kiss across her lips. Was it insane to feel he couldn’t get enough of her mouth? He almost dreaded the thought of how desperate he’d been to bury himself inside her and never leave.
“Dangerous?” she murmured against his lips.
“Hmmm, yes…” He licked at her lips, savoring the taste. “I can’t stop thinking about what you could do to me with it, what I want to do to it.”
“Really?” Her surprise shocked him. Did she have no idea what effect she was having on him? His cock was so hard he’d be lucky to get upstairs without any serious pain.
Emery’s hand tightened on her trapped wrists. “How many men have you been with?”
Sophie was smiling dazedly, as though his last kiss had addled her mind and left her happily drunk on passion.
“How. Many. Men? How many times? And don’t lie. The truth, Sophie.”
Finally his words seemed to sink in. “Two men. Two times each.”
So few? How had men not been beating down her doors to share her bed? Emery decided the men, wherever she was from, were idiots.
“While you’re with me, no one else, understand? I’m the possessive type.”
She scowled, her eyes narrowed to slits.
“The same goes for you. I don’t share and I don’t want you eyeing any other women. I hate that. Every man I’ve dated has never been able to keep his eyes off other women. Can you promise to be better?”
Emery swept his gaze over her tantalizing body, trying not to indulge in fantasies of all the things he would soon to do her. “You’re all mine, and I haven’t been able to look away since Royce brought you to me.”
Truth. Scary, confusing, truth. Sure, she wasn’t gorgeous, wasn’t slender. Sophie was the opposite of most women he met on a daily basis. And that made her fascinating, an odd mixture of warrior tigress and kittenish innocence. He knew with the right man, a good dom, she’d explode and burn like a wildfire in bed. Damn if he didn’t want the blaze to consume him.