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By Tawny Taylor
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2014 Tawny Taylor
All rights reserved.
In general, people complicated things too much. Life was simple. Human beings were simple. They were creatures. In essence, animals. And like every other beast in nature, they were driven by a handful of common motivators. The most powerful: self-preservation.
After decades of searching, living in fear, she had found the way to end the struggle. And she would do something great for all of humanity in the process. Talk about a win-win situation.
Her heart pounding with excitement, she signed the lease on her new apartment. She had a new lease on a home and a new lease on life. At last she was free from fear and frustration. Her life would never be the same.
After shaking the leasing agent's hand, she stepped out into the warm, sunny day. For the first time ever she felt alive, energized, ready to start her new life.
This was just the first step.
A black Mercedes-Benz prowled around the corner and stopped. There they were, her new partners. Her ticket to a new, wonderful life.
Smiling, she entered the car.
"Bro, time to man up. You know what you've gotta do."
Talen Gryffon grunted a response. If he'd actually enunciated the words, his oldest brother, Drako—who'd lately become a hell of a nag—might have tried to kick his ass. Of course, Drako would have failed. As long as he kept the fire thing out of it.
"Yeah. I hear you." Lying on his back, on the weight bench, a loaded three-hundred-pound barbell in his hands, Talen completed his sixth rep. Four more to go.
Drako, the nag, stood at his head, ready to spot him if he needed it. He wouldn't. "Any ideas yet?"
Talen lowered the bar to his chest. "No."
"Want some advice?"
"No." Chest and arm muscles working, Talen completed rep number seven.
"Fair enough." Drako watched him finish up the last three repetitions, then helped him place the bar on the stand before stepping to the side. "Look, I know where you're at. I've been there. I promise it's not as bad as you think. Rin and I had our rough times, but I'm happy. Really happy." He tossed a towel at Talen.
Talen snatched the white terry cloth out of the air and patted his face with it. What Drako, the leader of the Black Gryffons, had said was true. It was obvious he was happy. Now. In the beginning, when Drako had first married Rin ... not so much. Drako hadn't been any more ready for marriage than he was. Why they had to marry at such a young age, he simply didn't get. There was plenty of time to have kids. Years. Decades. He and his brothers had only recently stepped into their positions as the Black Gryffons. Three brothers. Three guardians of The Secret. They didn't need to think about the next generation so soon. "Yeah, sure. But there's no saying I'll find the same thing you did."
"Malek's done okay, too."
"Sure. Okay. Right."
He didn't want to talk about this. Marriage. Ugh. He didn't want to think about it, either. Drako didn't know, didn't understand. He wasn't ready yet. He needed more time.
What the hell was the hurry, anyway? Both of his brothers' wives were pregnant already. If they were carrying boys, two out of three future Black Gryffons were already on the way. He could wait awhile, at least until they found out what they were having.
"I'm not trying to be an asshole," Drako said. "You know the deadline is getting close. Father told us we all needed to marry this year. Not to mention, the enemy has almost wiped us out. Twice. They've been on our asses lately." That part was true. They'd been forced to pack up and leave, take new identities, and start over. It was a hazard of the job.
But there were the powers they'd somehow developed. Drako's fire. Malek's strength. Those would help them, keep them safe. So far, they had.
"Any sign of the Chimera again?" he asked, deciding a change of subject was a great idea. Finished with his workout, he headed for the door.
"No, not yet. But last time was close. I don't think it'll take them long to find us again."
"Yeah, I know." Some of the most powerful men in the country belonged to the Chimera. Scientists, politicians. Men with means. And the occasional nut job who was crazy enough to use those means in dangerous ways. The Chimera's one and only goal was to get its hands on The Secret. Talen's job, and the job of his brothers, the Black Gryffons, was to keep them from succeeding.
That job had almost cost them their lives. More than once already. And it would become the duty of their sons someday, when they were too old, too fragile, to continue.
That was why they all needed to marry. To have sons. As many as they could. But finding a wife, the right wife, was going to be hell. Plain and simple. She would not only have to share his life, and the dangers associated with it, but also somehow either satisfy his darkest erotic hungers, or be willing to allow him to satisfy them elsewhere. While both of his brothers had enjoyed some of the same things as he did before they were married—erotic bondage, discipline, among them—they had both made some compromises in the name of love.
He didn't compromise. He wouldn't compromise.
His mood sour, he waved his brother off and stomped into the bathroom to shower. Where the hell would he find the perfect wife? A woman who was strong, and sexy, and brave, but also trusting and submissive. He doubted she existed.
As he rounded the corner, he heard voices in the private dungeon he and his brothers shared. Malek was in there, enjoying a little downtime with Lei, his wife. Malek was happy, too. Well, fucking great for him. They were expecting their first child, as well. Lei's delicate petite form was already softening from the effects of her pregnancy.
A little twinge of jealousy raced through him, but he shoved it aside, just like he had for the last few months.
Lei. Beautiful, delicate Lei.
When Malek had started pursuing Lei, he hadn't realized how strong Talen's feelings for her were. But Talen, on the other hand, quickly saw how strong Malek's were becoming. And so, being the brother he was, Talen stepped out of the way the minute he realized what Malek was thinking.
He'd lost her. To his brother.
For months he'd kept his disappointment to himself. Malek didn't need to know about it. Nobody did.
He pushed on, moving quickly to put the sounds of Lei's moans and whimpers of pleasure out of earshot. It had been hell, living like this, watching Lei and Malek together, witnessing the connection between them strengthen each day. Not so long ago, he'd expected to be the one to help Lei heal from the wounds of her past. He'd expected his to be the strong arms holding her when she was afraid.
Oh hell, he needed to stop fucking thinking about what might have been. Lei was Malek's wife now. End of story. It was time to move on.
It was his duty to move on.
And move on he would.
First step: a shower. Then, a trip to the new club he'd just joined.
Since he couldn't have the woman he wanted, he'd find someone else, someone very different from her. Someone who would make him forget how great she smelled, or how sexy she looked first thing in the morning, when her glossy blue-black hair was mussed, or how creamy and smooth the skin on her back was.
Maybe a blonde. With long legs, big tits. Curvy and soft and tall, instead of lean and petite and delicate. A woman who craved the kinds of things he did, who loved to live on the edge. A woman who was adventurous and fearless.
As he showered, he made a mental checklist of his future wife's traits. They were, in any and every way, exactly opposite to Lei. After he dried off he wrapped the towel around his hips and pulled open the door.
A pair of almond-shaped eyes met his. A small, perfectly shaped mouth formed an O of surprise. Then porcelain skin stained pink as a blush tinted her cheeks. "Hello, Talen. Excuse me," Lei muttered as she scurried down the hallway to the bedroom she shared with Malek.
Talen gritted his teeth as his cock thickened, hardened. His body tightened. His blood simmered.
Would she ever stop affecting him that way? Would he ever be able to look at her and not wish he could throw her onto the nearest horizontal surface and make her his?
His mood even darker than before, he locked himself in his room to dress. Maybe Drako knew more than he thought. Maybe he could sense the growing tension between him and Lei. And maybe that was why he was pressuring him to find his own wife.
Maybe it wasn't too soon after all.
With one purpose in mind, Talen dressed. Black button-down shirt. Black pants. Black socks and shoes.
After making sure he was satisfied with what he saw in the mirror, he headed out to find himself a wife.
Tonight, she would celebrate.
She'd done it. The contract was all but signed. Not only had she saved her own ass, but she'd saved the company's, too.
Thank you, God.
Half-walking, half-dancing, Michelle Linsey pranced through the parking structure toward her car. In the distance she heard voices echoing off the concrete walls. The screech of tires and thump of car doors slamming. A little chill buzzed up her spine.
Normally, she wouldn't be walking through the structure this late alone. She always tried to time it so she'd be heading out with someone from the office. But tonight she'd had to stay a little late to tie up some loose ends. It was a good problem to have. A great one.
But when she spied a pair of young men walking toward her, her heart jerked against her rib cage. She didn't like the way they were staring at her. She didn't like the way their hoods were shading their faces.
This is Mason, Ohio, not Detroit. When was the last time someone had been jumped in a parking garage here?
They were getting closer. And they were still staring at her.
Feeling like she was a mouse about to be pounced on by a pack of alley cats, she hugged her purse to her side and fisted her keys tightly. She stared right back at them, letting them know she'd seen them and wasn't afraid.
What a lie that was.
She felt herself shifting her path to the right to put as much space as possible between herself and the men. She stopped glaring at them as they passed her, dragging in a small sigh of relief.
She was being paranoid.
She was swallowing a nervous chuckle as someone behind her grabbed her arm. Her scream of terror trapped in her throat, she whirled around.
"Excuse me," the man holding her arm said. "But—" He released it, lifting his hand, palm out. "Sorry, miss. Didn't mean to scare you. Are you okay?" At her nod, he smiled and asked, "I feel like such a fool for asking, but have you seen a red pickup truck? We forgot where we parked."
He felt foolish. So did she. She really needed to stop watching those Lifetime movies. Seriously.
After tonight. She couldn't miss My Husband Is a Serial Killer. She'd been waiting almost a month for it to air.
But then she would give them up. Yes. Absolutely. Positively.
A girl had to have at least one guilty pleasure in life.CHAPTER 2
He had his quarry.
There. That one. The lush blonde in the black dress. She was perfect. Just the right combination of sweet temptation and seductive siren. Long legs. Full tits that made his mouth water. A hundred carnal promises glittering in her eyes.
Another man stepped up to her and set a hand on her shoulder. Her gaze flicked to the man, then back to Talen. Her lips curled in a sultry half smile.
His cock hardened. Let the games begin. Energized by the challenge, he waved the waitress over.
"A bottle of champagne. To that woman. In the black dress." Then he leaned back in his seat and waited, watching her every move as the bottle was delivered and as the waitress told her who had purchased it.
The woman smiled in his direction, then excused herself from the man who had thought he'd be fucking her tonight. Her glass in one hand, the bottle in the other, she crossed the crowded bar, collecting stares from admiring men and glares from women along the way. She moved with the smooth fluidity of a dancer. Her hips swayed seductively. Her shoulders were back, her full breasts pushed out.
"Hello," she said, smiling down at him as she approached his table. "Thank you for the champagne." She set the bottle on his table. "I couldn't possibly drink this whole thing by myself, so I thought I'd come over and share some with you."
"Thanks. Please, sit." Pushing his full glass aside, he motioned to the waitress. "May I have an empty champagne glass please?" he asked her.
"Sure. Can I get you anything else?"
Talen looked at his new companion. She shook her head. "No, thank you."
"I'll be right back."
He turned his attention back to Blondie.
"Angela." He extended a hand, and she placed hers in it. Her grip was neither too tight nor too loose. "Tage Garner."
"It's good to meet you, Tage Garner. Thank you again for the champagne. It's delicious."
"I'm glad you're enjoying it." Lips. She had very nice lips. He could imagine them circling his cock while he fucked her mouth.
Peering over the rim of her glass, she sipped. "Have you been to this club before?"
"No. I just joined."
"You'll love it. I've been a member for about a year. I'm here at least twice a week."
"Dom or submissive?" he asked.
"Oh, submissive. Most definitely."
He felt himself smiling. "I was hoping you would say that."
"Were you?" She tipped her head. "You know, I haven't had very much of this champagne yet, only a few sips. We could take this party somewhere private if you like."
That sounded like a great idea.
When the waitress stepped up, he accepted the glass and the bill. After signing for it, he escorted his quarry to his newly leased private suite upstairs. As they climbed the steps, he admired her fine ass as it swayed back and forth in front of him. He couldn't wait to get his hands on it. On the rest of her, too.
Upstairs, she allowed him to steer her toward his suite with a hand on the small of her back. Beneath his fingertips, he felt her muscles flex as she responded to his touch.
This was going to be fun.
Inside, she walked straight to the center of the room, turned so her back was to him, reached around, and dragged the zipper of her dress down, exposing a deep V of smooth skin.
"Are you sure you haven't had anything else to drink?" he asked. He hadn't noticed any signs of intoxication, but he wasn't so lost in need yet that he'd be willing to ignore the first rule of D/s. Safe. Sane. Consensual.
"Nothing else. Just a few sips of champagne." She pulled the garment down to her waist. She wasn't wearing a bra.
"None." The dress slid to the floor. She wasn't wearing panties, either.
His cock twitched at the sight of her beautiful body. "None?"
Slowly, she turned to face him. Her lips were curved into a semi-smile once again. Her eyes were downcast, as a submissive's eyes should be. "I have been a submissive for a long time, trained by some of the most demanding, sadistic doms around. I can handle anything."
His balls tightened.
He had found his dream sub. But was she wife material?
To hell with that. I just want to fuck her.
Smiling to himself, he decided he would put her to the test. He knew exactly how he wanted to test her first. He unzipped his pants.
Her little pink tongue darted out, swiped across her lower lip. Yes, that was exactly what he was thinking. He stepped up to her, close enough to reach, grabbed a handful of silky blond hair and said, "Suck my cock. Hard."
"Yes, Master," she murmured, then eagerly opened her mouth for him.
"Oh damn," he growled as he rammed his cock deep into her mouth, then withdrew, only to thrust deep again. Over and over. She took him easily, greedily. Her little tongue cushioned the bottom of his rod as he glided in and out. The head of his cock hit the back of her throat, but she didn't gag, she didn't pull away. No, she opened to him, taking him to the hilt, slurping and sucking until he was seeing stars and on the verge of coming.
Mere seconds before losing control, he jerked out of her mouth. There was so much more to do yet, pleasures to explore, limits to test. He couldn't let it end so soon.
"You've been well trained," he said as he tucked his still-erect cock back inside his pants and zipped up.
She placed her hands at her sides and kept her eyes down-turned. "Thank you, Master. It's my pleasure to serve you."
"Hmmm." His body thrummed as possibilities whirled around in his head. A submissive with no limits could be rather useful to him. His gaze meandered around the room. Having just leased the room, he hadn't set up some of the bigger pieces yet. The St. Andrew's Cross was waiting to be assembled. Same with the large table he liked to keep in the center of the room. For now, he would have to make do with the bench. There was plenty of fun to be had with that.
Excerpted from Darkest Ecstasy by Tawny Taylor. Copyright © 2014 Tawny Taylor. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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