Awakening: Power Play

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Brandon McKinney is a man reborn. Newly awakened to the notion of consensual power exchange and the submissive urges inside him, he begs for a second chance from the man who opened his eyes to this world: Silicon Valley superstar Jonathan Watkins. But no birth is absent pain, and Brandon's is no exception. He fears he's not strong enough to see it through.

Jonathan knows better. He's seen the iron core inside his new submissive, and the wounded heart inside him too. He means to ...

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Brandon McKinney is a man reborn. Newly awakened to the notion of consensual power exchange and the submissive urges inside him, he begs for a second chance from the man who opened his eyes to this world: Silicon Valley superstar Jonathan Watkins. But no birth is absent pain, and Brandon's is no exception. He fears he's not strong enough to see it through.

Jonathan knows better. He's seen the iron core inside his new submissive, and the wounded heart inside him too. He means to teach Brandon to heal the one with the other. They have five months left on their contract, after all, and Jonathan has done more with less before.

It's tough to stay objective, though, when you're falling in love. Shame Brandon doesn't feel the same. He's only there for the three-million-dollar payout at contract's end—a fact that Jonathan, nursing his own wounded heart, reminds himself of each day. For even as Brandon's barriers break and his mind expands, even as he grows to love his place at Jonathan's feet, he'll never love life with a sadist—especially one who cannot escape the public eye.

This title is #2 of the Power Play series.

Reader discretion advised. This title contains the following sensitive themes: heavy kink.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781937551445
  • Publisher: Riptide Publishing, LLC
  • Publication date: 6/1/2012
  • Pages: 260
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Power Play Awakening

By Rachel Haimowitz, Cat Grant, Sarah Frantz, Carole-ann Galloway

Riptide Publishing

Copyright © 2012 Cat Grant and Rachel Haimowitz
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-937551-44-5


Bran had been back at Jonathan's for less than an hour, and already he found himself naked and cuffed, hand and foot, to a chair. A very cold and uncomfortable chair, too—steel-framed, no cushions, wire mesh biting into his bare back and ass, armrests icy cold beneath his forearms. A single blinding spotlight directly overhead cast far too much heat on his shoulders and scalp, cutting a perfect cone of light through the otherwise pitch-black dungeon. Strange how he'd seen this space a thousand times and still felt unease crawling up his neck at the thought of what lurked within the shadows.

Jonathan, for one fully dressed, crop in hand, looming like he was eight feet tall instead of five and change.

"We're going to have a little chat," Jonathan said, and Bran just sat there, eyes locked steady on Jonathan. One week away wasn't enough to forget not to speak out of turn. "And I want to make sure you understand the rules very clearly here—no more miscommunications." Their whole first month had been nothing but. Bran didn't exactly have the highest hopes they could avoid it completely this time around, but he'd try. "All right?"

Bran tried to blink a drop of sweat out of his left eye and nodded. "All right, Jonathan."

Jonathan smiled, bright and unexpected, and swiped his thumb across Bran's left eyebrow, wiping the sweat away. "There's a good boy," he said, and strange how ... uncondescending he managed to make that sound. "Now I'm going to ask you some questions. They may be uncomfortable. They may be hard for you. You may not want to answer. None of this matters. I expect truth, whole and unhesitating. Delay and you'll be struck. Omit and you'll be struck. Lie and you'll be struck rather more than you'd care for. Do you understand?"

Yeah, and how are you gonna know I'm lying?

Fuck it. Jonathan always knew. Bran flashed him a toothy smile. "So what you're telling me is, I'll be struck, Jonathan?"

Unexpectedly, Jonathan laughed, but then cut himself off and went all serious again. "What I'm saying is there's no point in trying again if you won't try." He spun the crop in his hand, eyeing it thoughtfully. "This is to remind you that you hurt yourself most of all by lying or delaying or hiding. I do hope you won't need reminding."

Well, he wanted to give Jonathan the truth. That had to count for something, right?

"As added incentive, if you answer three consecutive questions truthfully and completely, then you can ask me one of your own. Anything you'd like. And I too will be truthful and complete."

Yeah? And do I get to hit you if you lie?

But he knew better than to say that out loud, settling instead for, "Thank you, Jonathan." Shame he had no fucking idea what to ask. Wondered how likely it was he'd even get the chance.

Jonathan circled around the chair, then stopped in front of Bran, leaning down to look him in the eye. "Why are you here?"

All right, starting with an easy one.

"I just told you. When we were upstairs."

"You told me a lot of things." Jonathan drove the crop across his chest. It hurt, but not as bad as it could've. He'd had much worse in this room. "Including that I hurt you in ways I think we both know I didn't intend."

What? Was the Big Bad Dom finally making some kind of veiled apology?

"Is it so shocking to you," Jonathan said, his mouth twisting like it couldn't quite choose between a wry smile and a frown, "that I'm willing to admit I was wrong too? Because I was wrong, and I am sorry for that, I truly am. I misread you. I made assumptions about your desires, your knowledge and understanding—about my own knowledge and understanding too—that caused me to handle you badly. And worst of all, I let you frustrate me into driving you away, when what I should have been doing was helping you get to the root of why you felt the need to frustrate me so in the first place."

Holy shit, it was an apology. He hadn't thought Jonathan had it in him—no room between all that confidence and arrogance and Domly know-it-all-ness. Hadn't realized how much he'd needed to hear it, either—how angry he'd been, up until a moment ago, that Jonathan hadn't copped to his own half of their fucked-up mess.

"Yet you came back, and judging by the look on your face—my mother would tell you to shut your mouth, by the way, before a bird builds a nest in there—you clearly thought you'd be coming back to more of the same."

Had he, though? Or had he just magically assumed it'd be different somehow? Or had his own needs driven him so relentlessly he hadn't even stopped to think about whether or not Jonathan might change?

"You're too smart not to learn from your mistakes, Brandon, so why are you here?"

Suddenly the answer seemed so blindingly obvious he found himself blinking against it. "Because you're too smart not to learn from your mistakes, Jonathan."

Bran felt strange satisfaction at the expression on Jonathan's face. Not entirely readable, but he saw surprise, yes, and relief too, and something else he couldn't even begin to make out. But he'd made the man shut up for a while, which was more than he could say for most anything else he'd done since they'd met.

Jonathan swallowed, caught Bran's gaze and held it. "Thank you," he said. "That means a lot to me." Then he blinked, raked a hand through his hair, and whatever moment of vulnerability he'd just shown, whatever lightning-quick loss of control, he shook it off and pulled himself back together into something at least three sizes too big to be contained by his compact frame. Back to confident, dominant Jonathan again. Back to difficult questions, too: "Would you still be here if I took the money off the table?"

No fucking way sprang to Bran's lips, but didn't make it past them. Seemed stupid to press his luck after all the ground Jonathan had just given. Besides, way to make himself feel like a whore. Not to mention the fact that he wasn't actually sure it was true anymore.

Another blow, this time across his left shoulder blade. It made him jerk in his bonds, rattling against the metal chair. "That's for hesitating," Jonathan said. "Answer the question."

Bran swallowed hard, answered the only way he could. "I ... I don't know, Jonathan."

Jonathan smiled. "Well, that's a start. But I expect a more considered response next time."

Huh. Maybe Jonathan wouldn't kill him if he said no, then. "Yes, Jonathan."

Jonathan fell back a step, switching the crop to his other hand. "So, why me?"

Bran blinked. "I ... uh, don't know what you mean, Jonathan."

"You can't swing a cat without hitting a male Dominant in this city. You could've sought one of them out to get what you needed after you left. You didn't have to come back here. So why did you? After the way you stormed out the other day, after the way I let you down, I thought you hated me."

Maybe because I did. But I don't anymore ... Do I?

"I don't know, Jonathan," he tried again.

Jonathan didn't buy it this time; the crop smacked hard across Bran's lower belly, a noisy little blot of fire.

Different tack, then. "Because I know you, Jonathan?"

Another strike, this time on the top of his right thigh, and yeah, okay, that was probably his own fault for phrasing his answer as a question.

"Seriously," he said, because it was at least part of the truth. "Where else would I even find another Dom? Jonathan."

Jonathan painted a matching red splotch on the top of Bran's left thigh. "Craigslist? That leather club two blocks from your apartment? Google?"

Like he'd have had the slightest idea where to look. Ridiculous that Jonathan thought he'd even have known what to look for. This was Jonathan's world, not Bran's, and fuck it all, but Jonathan should've known that. Making assumptions like this was what'd screwed everything up so badly last time, and here Jonathan was doing it again?

Well, fuck that. Fuck him and his fucking ridiculous assumptions, because there was no fucking way Bran was gonna put up with this shit again.

He gritted his teeth, rattled his handcuffs once, just for the satisfaction of hearing them clink. "What, do you want me to tell you I came back because I missed you? Because we're best buds and I hope we get married someday?" He looked Jonathan dead in the eye and added, "Sorry, but I can't say that, Jonathan. You told me not to lie."

He'd also said not to omit, and Bran knew damn well better than to mouth off, no matter how good it felt, so it came as no surprise when the crop slapped down right across his dick. He still howled though, legs jerking against the cuffs, hands straining toward the hurt, but he couldn't bring his knees together or press fingers to the pain.

"Maybe you didn't miss me," Jonathan said when Bran settled, and how was he so fucking calm all the time, even when Bran insulted him like that? Made it hard to stay mad. "But you missed something. Something I gave you, perhaps?" Jonathan reached out and Bran flinched, but the man only smoothed his fingers over the marks on Bran's chest and belly, soothing the pain. Giving Bran's dick a few strokes until, to his chagrin, he found himself growing hard. "Something like this?"

It hurt, but it felt good too; why was still a mystery, but ... "Yeah, maybe. Jonathan," he added quickly.

"Try to be more definitive next time. There's far too much you haven't given sufficient thought to." He circled around again, laid a familiar hand on the nape of Bran's neck. Bran leaned back into the touch without even realizing at first. Then Jonathan whispered, lips to Bran's ear, "Why do you hate it when I call you Brandon?"

Bran sat up straight, jerking himself away from Jonathan's grasp. "Because that's not my name," he snapped. "Brandon was a little kid. I'm not a kid anymore."

Jonathan didn't reply. Didn't strike him. Didn't do anything for an endless moment. Then he strode across the dungeon, disappeared into the darkness. A cold fist curled in Bran's belly at the bumping and scraping sounds coming from across the room—what the fuck was he doing back there, and just how unpleasant would it end up being?—until Jonathan reappeared, dragging a chair. He flipped it around and straddled it, arms crossed over the back. Stared into Bran's eyes until the spotlight overhead felt like a sun gone fucking supernova.

Jonathan smiled. "Take your time. I can sit here all night, if need be, until I get a satisfactory answer."

Jesus, what the fuck did he want? He'd been telling the truth. Why wasn't it good enough?

"I, uh ... I stopped calling myself Brandon a long time ago. Back when I left Jersey."

"An interesting bit of history, to be sure. But not what I'm looking for." He reached over and tapped the crop on Bran's knee. "You might be more convincing, by the way, if you didn't fidget so much. Sort of gives the game away."

"Doesn't mean I'm lying. Maybe I just don't like to think about that shit, you ever think of that? Jonathan?"

Another blow, this one to the inside of his thigh. No mere tap this time. "Language," Jonathan singsonged. Then, much more seriously, "I'm aware these questions are difficult. But do your best. Another try, please."

Fuck this. Clearly even his best wasn't good enough, so what was he fucking doing here? He tugged hard at the handcuffs and said, "This isn't what I signed up for, Jonathan."

Except, he supposed, for the part where it kind of was—a fact Jonathan's disappointed little frown made perfectly clear. He'd known it wasn't going to be easy. He'd begged Jonathan for another chance. And now that he had it, what was he doing? Acting like some spoiled brat, that's what.

"I'm sorry," he sighed, forcing his hands still, grateful and kind of weirded out that Jonathan hadn't said a thing, hadn't hit him, was just sitting there, chin resting on his folded arms, blinking, waiting for Bran to get with the fucking program. As if he were absolutely positive Bran would. So different from last time, when Jonathan would've jumped to "correct" him with pain, to leave him feeling like some inadequate child who could only disappoint. This Jonathan was so much more ... reassuring, almost.

"I just ..." He shook his head, dropped his gaze. Couldn't keep it fixed on those blue, blue eyes, so piercing, so fucking attentive. "I don't know what else you want me to say. I'm trying, I am. I promise."

"I know," Jonathan said, so gentle it made Bran's eyes sting as surely as a crop to the nuts.

"Please. Just, tell me what you want me to say and I'll say it, okay?"

Jonathan sat up, shook his head. He was frowning a little, but Bran thought it looked sad rather than angry. Or maybe disappointed. Fuck, please, anything but that. "It doesn't work that way, Brandon. You know that."

Yeah, he supposed he did.

"But I appreciate you trying. And I appreciate you wanting to please me. Thank you."

He felt way too fucking shitty to say, You're welcome. Jonathan didn't seem to mind his silence anyway. The man just laid his chin back on his arms and stared again. Stared some more, dead quiet, so long it felt like the spotlight had sunburned Bran's nose and ears, so long he became acutely aware of how thirsty he was, how much he was sweating, how very much Jonathan hadn't asked a fucking thing for him to answer so he could make all this end.

What did he want?

At long, long fucking last, Jonathan stood, pushed his chair away, pulled out the handcuff key. "I think that's enough for tonight," he said. He unlocked Bran, but Bran stayed in the chair anyway, waiting for permission to move. "Up you go," Jonathan said, and even though Bran stood right away, Jonathan still added, "That's four for the night, by the way."

Four? He felt his eyebrows shoot up toward his hairline and just barely stopped himself from asking, What did I do? Jonathan told him anyway: "Four times you failed to address me properly. I didn't think we'd have to go back to basics after all this time, but here we are. I'll be adding one for each time you swear, as well, so do watch your tongue." A raised eyebrow, a hinted quirk of a smile. "It offends my delicate sensibilities, you understand."

Bran almost couldn't contain his snort. Yeah, such a fragile whip-wielding flower you are.

Jonathan jerked his head toward the bathroom. "Go groom yourself properly—inside and out. Shave your face, but nothing else." Really? How ... odd, but he wasn't about to look a gift horse in the unshaved crotch. "Then come back to the bedroom. Did you tell your boss you were leaving again?"

What? "I—" Strange to feel so warm and so nervous at the same time—amazed that Jonathan had even thought to ask after his well-being outside this house, afraid the man wouldn't like his answer. "No, Jonathan. I didn't ..." He dropped his eyes to his feet, wished he knew what to do with his hands. Remembered, then, what Jonathan had told him about posture and clasped his hands behind his back, feeling oddly relieved at the simplicity of it. "I didn't know if I'd ... I mean, if you'd—"

"Take you back?"

Bran nodded, exhaling relief at the gentleness in Jonathan's tone. "Yes, Jonathan."

"Well, call him. Tell him something, I don't care what. But account for the next five months; you'll not have cause to leave again. Understand?"

A full-body shiver at that, equal parts fear and excitement and something downright delicious he couldn't quite put a name to—a warmth at being wanted, maybe, or maybe the tone of Jonathan's voice, commanding without bullying, possessive but not presumptuous. "Yes, Jonathan." Because the man was right. He wasn't going to leave again.

Not this time.

* * *

Jonathan got the yoga mat and blanket out of the walk-in closet, then went to get ready for bed. He took a quick shower, just to unwind and help him think, before brushing his teeth and pulling on his pajamas.


Excerpted from Power Play Awakening by Rachel Haimowitz, Cat Grant, Sarah Frantz, Carole-ann Galloway. Copyright © 2012 Cat Grant and Rachel Haimowitz. Excerpted by permission of Riptide Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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