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"You've got a twisted sense of humor," Chip accused, not amused. Trying to locate the collar's fastener, he slowed and said, "Take this thing off of me."
Melony gave the leader a tug. "If you value your life, don't fight me." She passed him a meaningful look then glanced at the warehouse's entrance.
He followed her line of vision and saw Frank staring, arms crossed over a bulging chest. The expression on the biker's haggard features made it clear he'd gladly repeat the choking torture.
Chip rubbed his bruised neck and picked up the pace. "You're going to take this thing off, right?"
"Maybe. If you're a very, very good slave."
She showed no sign that she joked, and he began to comprehend he'd been thrust into an alternate reality. "Please tell me this is a game."
"It's no game. You shouldn't have followed me. And you really shouldn't have done what you did. Now you're my slave. Something neither of us wants." Melony unlocked her car and opened the passenger side door. "Get in."
"I'm not leaving my car. I'm not your slave. And I'm not afraid of Frank." He pulled on the neckband again with no result.
She arched her eyebrows and shifted her weight onto one foot. "You will leave your car. You are my slave. And Frank's headed our way."
Alarmed, Chip turned and saw the bouncer step off the sidewalk. "Okay. I'm afraid of Frank. But I'm not leaving my car."
"Then it's your car and your death, or it's my car and your life."
His fantasy had become a nightmare. He ducked into the car and wondered how fast the biker could run. He would bet he could outpace the guy. Melony tossed the leader into his lap and shut the door.Freedom! He tugged the door handle a fraction too late. She had hit the lock button on her remote. Unlocking it manually, he reached for the handle again, but she hit the button once more as she rounded the front of the car.
When he unlocked it a second time, she opened the driver's side door and said, "Your car will be fine. I'll bring you back to get it another day."
Frank had grown too near, so running would do Chip no good. He settled against the seatback and fingered the end of the leash. "This really sucks." He shrugged out of his jacket as his boiling anger made him warmer.
"You have no idea. I didn't want a new partner. Not right now, anyway." She started the car and backed out of the space.
Frank stopped, watching them leave, and Chip resisted the urge to shoot him the bird. "This isn't all about you," he bit out.
"Here's your first lesson as a slave. It is all about me. You do not exist except to serve me. The sooner you learn this, the easier your month will go." She pulled out onto the street and accelerated past the speed limit.
As the streetlights provided a strobe effect across the dash and their laps, his mind whirled. "I'm not doing this," he insisted, heat now suffusing his face. "I'm not your slave. I'm not going to serve you. And what's this business about a month?"
She punched his shoulder, her knuckles amplifying pain to the bone. Grabbing the joint, he stared. She sure could deliver a blow for such a tiny thing.
"You don't get it," she said, her tone dripping danger. "Frank will kill you. He works for very bad people. He will hunt you down and murder you in a slow, painful manner. He gets off on it. So listen up. According to the rules of the society, the waiver you signed makes you an inductee. Your behavior at the meeting partnered you with me, and since I'm a Dominatrix, that makes you my slave. First-time slaves are required to live with their Doms for a month to receive their training." She pulled into the apartment building parking lot. "So, welcome home. Slave."
His ears buzzed and a sharp pain spiked through his temple. This was giving him a headache. "Take me to my hotel. I'll get a cab to drive me to my car."
Stopping in a space, she jerked the keys out of the ignition. "Are you deaf? You're a dead man if you leave." She tapped a fingertip on his forehead, sending new shockwaves through his brain. "You did this to yourself. Now pay the price for your mistakes."
"This is crap!" Chip shook with rage. Nobody had ever treated him, talked to him, like that. "I don't deserve this."
"Neither do I," she grumbled. Melony got out and gave the leader a tug. "Come on."
"Are you kidding?" Did she expect him to crawl over the parking brake and driver's seat like a dog?
"No. I'm not giving you a chance to run. I'd never catch you on these stilts." She lifted a foot for emphasis. "Come on. My feet hurt."
For the first time, he detected vulnerability in her. Pain added a hard edge to her lips, yet loneliness shone from her eyes like a beacon. She didn't like this any more than he, and he believed she did this to save his life. The problem lay in her intension of seeing their roles fulfilled. He'd have to convince her otherwise. He hooked a finger over the edge of the collar. "Take this off."
"I'm not taking the chance of having people see me like this."
"I don't think you understand your place. You don't decide anything. I tell you what to think, do, and say." She gave the leader another tug.
His ire rose another notch and he tapped into his court training to get his emotion under control. Pretending a judge looked down at them, gavel in hand, Chip entered into calm negotiations. "How about I promise to accompany you inside? In fact, because your feet hurt, if you take off this restraint, I'll carry you to your apartment."
Her eyes widened a bit and she loosened her grip on the leash. "I like the idea of you carrying me, slave. I propose I leave the collar on but drape my arm around your neck and hide the leash in my coat."
She was good, but he really wanted it off. "I'm stronger than you. I could simply resist you. How about--"
"Don't ever threaten to use your strength against me," she yelled, her face turning pink. She trembled and the leader buckled in her fist. "I swear, I'll beat you until you wish you'd never been born!"
He could only stare. Damn, she was sexy when she got enraged. In the five hours he had known her, she had seemed so poised, so strong. Her wild eyes told him she had just come unhinged. Yet, not for a second did he believe she would follow through on such a threat. She intrigued him. All of a sudden, he wanted to get her inside so he could find out what lay behind her outburst. He wanted to find out what made this beauty tick.
She lowered a veil over her features and inhaled a shaky breath. "Sorry."
He smirked. "Apologizing to a slave? Is that allowed?" Maybe he could get into this game. For the weekend. He didn't have anything else planned. Now that she showed she wasn't hard as stone, this could prove an interesting diversion.