A chance meeting. An improbable connection. An exquisite attraction.
Trent Hettinger’s turbulent formative years transformed him into a cynic—and into a man who realized he required something outside himself to control his temper. Something he found as a Dom—at least for a while. But he allowed himself to trust a woman once and was slapped back into reality with a vengeance and now devotes all his energy into building his real estate empire, raising his teenaged daughter…and avoiding anything resembling authentic attachments.
Melody Rodriguez kept her head down for years—working hard, making her own money, trying to get ahead with every deck stacked against her. She’s determined to move beyond the ugliness that haunts her without anyone’s help. When a mutual friend sets her up with Trent, she’s determined to have some fun with him and move on.
A man with nothing left to lose. A woman hiding behind her past. When two lives spent in emotional denial collide, it’s a perfect match—at least on the surface. But neither Trent or Melody are prepared for the full force of their true feelings, once fate intervenes and blows a cold breeze into their white-hot relationship.
About the Author
Amazon best-selling author, mom of three, Realtor, beer blogger, brewery marketing expert, and soccer fan, Liz Crowe is a Kentucky native and graduate of the University of Louisville currently living in Ann Arbor. She has decades of experience in sales and fund raising, plus an eight-year stint as a three-continent, ex-pat trailing spouse.
With stories set in the not-so-common worlds of breweries, on the soccer pitch, in successful real estate offices and at times in exotic locales like Istanbul, Turkey, her books are unique and told with a fresh voice. The Liz Crowe backlist has something for any reader seeking complex storylines with humor and complete casts of characters that will delight, frustrate and linger in the imagination long after the book is finished.
Don’t ever ask her for anything “like a Budweiser” or risk bodily injury.
Read an Excerpt
Copyright © Liz Crowe 2017. All Rights Reserved, Totally Entwined Group Limited, T/A Totally Bound Publishing.
Trent stumbled out into the cold winter night air, tugging at his bow tie and shedding his tux jacket at the same time. The scene inside had been a familiar one. One he’d mastered long ago, and claimed to enjoy—to love, even.
But tonight, it had been wrong. All kinds of wrong.
He propped his hands on his knees and sucked in the night air, barely registering how cold it was, only wanting to get away from it—from himself most likely. From the fetish that had driven him for so many years. Driven him to many things—to his first wife, who’d been posing and was now nothing but an expensive thorn in his side, but who’d given him his beloved daughter. To his success in business as he’d been so single-mindedly focused thanks to the release he allowed himself in sex play.
And now to his current sorry, single state as he breached the seminal fortieth birthday, headed straight for forty-one.
It had been a regular night at the exclusive secret club. Nothing new or different had happened. He’d been greeted at the door of the mansion in the suburbs by the usual phalanx of beautiful women dressed in bras, garter belts, stockings, heels and satin masks. He’d had the usual pleasant experience, greeting his fellow Master Dominants in the gathering room over lemon and cucumber-infused water. No alcohol was allowed in the real BDSM clubs and if the guard at the gate smelled it on you, you’d be turned away, regardless of the fact that you’d already paid upwards of ten grand for the pleasure of the evening. There were no refunds.
But something had been off. He’d sensed it—the slightly sideways sensation he’d had within seconds of walking into the large front room. He’d sensed it in the rarified air. He’d felt it on his neck, the backs of his hands, his face.
As the Doms—five men and two women all dressed to the nines as if they were attending a D.C. charity ball and not about to engage in the sort of kinky sex that some found horrifying—all sat, waiting for the next stage, Trent’s leg bounced as if he’d consumed a pot of coffee before showing up. One of the women glanced at it, then up at his face, her elegantly crafted eyebrow raised.
He shot his cuffs, wondering why he wasn’t enjoying himself. By this stage, he was usually hard as a rock, eager for a fresh submissive in a mask. He wasn’t into hardcore shit, but he knew what he liked and he could usually pick his partner within seconds of seeing her walk into the large room.
Tonight, however, his dick stayed limp and his mind spun. Sweat popped out on his face. Weird, he decided, as he sipped some water and wished he had a shot of bourbon. Granted, he had just experienced one of his more stressful weeks. He’d been in a protracted fight with the city of Kalamazoo over his desire to buy and revamp a city block. One of his best bartenders at his most successful pubs had up and quit for no reason, until he’d discovered that the reason had a lot to do with a missing eight-thousand-dollar bank deposit. Plus, he woke with his guts tied in knots every single morning at the thought of facing his biggest challenge—raising his teenaged daughter, alone, with her mother hovering in the background reminding him of her entitlement to his bank account.
Trent sighed and swiped his fingers across his lips, willing himself calm. Reminding himself that this would help. He would coax, and tease, and spank and bite. He’d make the girl come so hard she’d beg him for more. Then, when he came, he would feel better, reset, able to resume his life and start the week off fresh.
But when the women and men were led in, he couldn’t even look at them. If he didn’t know better, he’d swear that he had the flu or something equally dire. His palms were sweaty. He could feel damp at the small of his back under the expensive tux shirt and jacket. His leg jittered again. A rush of bile filled his throat at the sight of the women, all dressed in flowing, diaphanous gowns, all staring at the floor, all with heavy leather collars around their necks.
He jumped to his feet, drawing not-so-subtle stares from his fellows. The master of ceremonies, the owner of this particular club that he’d frequented for years, asked a million questions with a single raised eyebrow. Blinking fast, Trent backed away from the subs, who were also peering through their masks, expectant and needy and pulling at him in ways he didn’t like.
Throat closing up, he turned and fumbled for the doorknob as sweat dropped into his eyes, blinding him and providing him with the sort of just-out-of-control sensation that he’d banished long ago. The sensations that had driven him as a boy, then a teen, to escape his life and establish complete control over it.
He stumbled through the foyer, past the hostesses who remained silent as he threw himself out into the night, gasping and tugging at his tie.
“Mr. Hettinger,” a voice called behind him. “Are you all right?”
He held up a hand, keeping his back to whoever was talking. “I’ll be fine,” he choked out. “Under the weather. Sorry.”
“I’ll have them bring your car around,” the voice said, as if it were a completely normal occurrence for him to leave his ten-thousand-dollar fee behind, forgoing the many pleasures that were to be provided to him in exchange.
He stood, knees shaking, head pounding as his classic Jeep appeared under the portico. When he climbed behind the wheel, his mind cleared and his heart stopped racing as if turned off by a switch. He took a deep breath, cranked the satellite radio to blasting—his favorite, Nine Inch Nails—rolled down all the windows and screeched out onto the private road. He floored the gas when he hit I-96, pointed west toward his home in Grand Rapids, smiling when the powerful, rebuilt engine eased the speedometer past eighty-five, then ninety miles an hour in seconds.
The emptiness in his brain allowed him to relax, which in turn led to a distinct rumbling in his stomach. He flipped the turn signal and raced up an exit ramp, heading for his favorite all-night diner.
Kinky, rowdy sex, sometimes performed in front of an audience of like-minded fetishists—or a plate piled high with crisp bacon, a big stack of pancakes and pure maple syrup. He shook his head at his out-of-character choice between the two as he parked, got out, blipped the lock and headed for the brightly lit restaurant. Sometimes a man’s needs were simple and he was not one to ignore that fact.
As he shouldered into the warm, coffee and bacon grease-infused space, a sense of peace descended over him, making it clear that he’d made the right choice, at least for tonight. He’d muscled through a D/s session at a club once before when he’d felt rotten. And it had been awful. He’d hurt the girl more than he’d meant to and had sworn off the lifestyle for months afterward. He knew himself well by now and self-congratulated tonight’s decision all the way to the diner’s long bar.
He leaned forward, eager for coffee and innocuous conversation, untying his bow tie all the way so it dangled from the collar of his once crisp, now slightly wilted white shirt. When he turned the small, cheap, ceramic mug over, indicating his desire for the caffeinated elixir of life and STAT, he felt a cooling breeze against the back of his neck. It was as if someone had opened the door and was holding it that way to allow the steamy heat of the restaurant to dissipate.
He turned, feeling friendly and chatty, to see what was up.
Then he saw her.
Or, rather, the back of her.
She was pouring coffee for one table, laughing and smacking one of the trucker-looking patrons on the shoulder in a friendly, flirty way. Trent’s eyes narrowed as he studied her rear view. She was tall and her hips flared out from a small waist in a way that made his palms sweaty again. Her voice was loud enough to be heard over the din of conversation. It was tinged with the sexiest soft accent he’d ever heard.
“Go on, now, you know your wife wouldn’t want you flirting with little old me,” she was saying to the leering dude. She moved down the booths, dropping checks, picking up empty plates, pouring more coffee. Using that melodious voice that mesmerized him almost as much as the near-perfect roundness of her ass, currently featured in a pair of tight, cheap-looking black pants.
Trent’s heartbeat thudded in his ears as he kept staring at her—the Goddess, he now thought of her for some reason. The Latina Goddess who kept laughing and chatting and swinging her hips at the patrons in a way that made fury pepper the edges of his vision.
His Latina Goddess.
She looked over her shoulder at him, as if sensing his inappropriate thoughts about her. Her olive-toned skin was flushed from the heat of the room. Her chocolate-dark eyes met his and narrowed suspiciously. So much so Trent wondered if he’d spoken those words out loud. Then she turned and faced him fully.