Verlaine Lounge—the gold script caught Darby’s eye. Clutching her room voucher, she wheeled her suitcase into the airport hotel bar rather than continue on to the front desk to check in. She couldn’t yet face the sterility of another hotel room. Especially not in a city she was supposed to have left three hours ago.
She tucked the suitcase in by her barstool. The bartender, a woman slightly older than Darby—maybe 30 or 32—was chatting with a rather intense looking man sitting at the end of the bar, near the corner of polished wood. When Darby turned toward them to catch the bartender’s attention, the man looked straight at her. She ignored her awareness of his striking looks as she ordered a vodka tonic. One of the nice things about being blandly medium—medium height and build, with hazel eyes and medium brown hair—is that the absurdly gorgeous men of the world let you nurse your drink in silence.
Darby was startled out of her empty reverie by a deep voice to her right. It was the intense man, who proved to be even more overwhelming when he was right next to her.
He nodded at her room voucher, which she’d put on the bar. She reached for it, meaning to tuck it away, but he stopped her with a quiet, “Leave it.”
Her hand dropped away from the polished wood. Darby stared at the voucher, confused that she’d complied with a stranger’s command. She glanced up at him.
He was smiling slightly. It seemed a casual, even benign smile, as though he’d just been showing her his grandkids’ school photos. But this was no one’s grandfather. He wasn’t even 40. He was tall and dark, dressed in an expensive business suit with a crisp white shirt open at the neck. He could have been an executive at Wills Technology, except that none of her bosses looked like this. They were well-fed and self-satisfied. And they definitely left Darby alone.
Finally she answered his question. “They need to get a new plane from Atlanta.”
“You?” she asked.
“Same sort of thing,” he said with a slight shrug. Then he smiled at her, not as casually this time.
That wasn’t the way men normally looked at her. His gaze excited Darby and made her a little bit nervous, but over all that she was intrigued. This wasn’t a man who needed to pick up women in an airport hotel bar. She checked his left hand: no ring, no indentation and no tan mark.
“Shall we sit?” he asked, the lean of his body suggesting one of the elegant banquettes away from the bar.
Darby nodded. She got off the bar stool and smoothed her blazer, but when she reached for her carry-on, he’d already taken it. He didn’t seem to have any luggage, not even a briefcase.
She was sitting primly at a low table before her brain caught up to what was happening. She needed to be smart here. This guy could be anyone. Well, anyone with money, her brain amended…she’d noticed the brand of his watch as he placed her bag by her knees.
He waited until she’d taken a sip of her drink, then he held out his hand. “Damien Lockhart,” he said.
She could have launched into her well-rehearsed explanation of what it was like to grow up with a non-standard name, but something about his placid expression stopped her. He’d meant it as a compliment, not a conversational gambit. She felt attuned to what he wanted, although she wasn’t sure why. He didn’t make her feel nervous, but she was keyed up for some reason, eager and alert.
Her brain tried to suggest that she finish her drink and get to her room pronto, but she ignored it. She knew she was safe enough in a public space. They were just two travelers enjoying the temporary camaraderie generated when the airline industry screws up. No problem.
“Where are you flying to?” she asked.
“But that’s not home, is it?” he said softly. His voice was low and smooth, with no accent to suggest a specific geographical region. Maybe when you get that rich, you no longer sound like your hometown.
“No, I live back East,” Darby said carefully. She didn’t think she had much Western Massachusetts still in her diction, but perhaps he had the sort of ear that could detect such things.
“I’m from a small city in Pennsylvania originally,” he said.
“But that’s not home now, is it?” she teased.
His features barely changed but Darby’s skin prickled. She’d said the wrong thing, or said it in the wrong way. She shifted slightly, trying to get back into “two travelers passing the time” mode.
Finally, he drawled, “No, it’s not home.”
“I’m imagining a magnificent Adirondack-style home in the Rockies, with fabulous views and the nearest neighbor ten miles away.”
Damien Lockhart smiled lazily. “That could be arranged.”
Darby’s skin went crazy. That was sexual innuendo, wasn’t it? She parted her lips, breathing shallowly, waiting for the sensation to pass. This guy was a pheromone-machine. That had to explain the way her body was responding to him.
“Would you like another drink?” he asked as a waitress hovered around Damien. His attention was entirely focused on Darby even though the waitress was younger, blonder and had bigger breasts.
Breasts. Darby realized hers had woken up, aroused by Damien’s attention. But he’d never glanced lower than her neck, had he? And she knew that because she had yet to break eye contact with him.
She looked down at her glass, which was nearly empty. “Yes, please.” She could tell he was still looking at her, even as he gave the waitress their order.
Darby’s awareness cranked up a notch. He was silent until the waitress had delivered their drinks and left again.
“Darby.” His hand was in front of her, palm up. She automatically placed her hand in his. Her hand looked delicate, a pale origami bird of paper and air.
“Darby, look at me.”
Now his face was serious. He was leaning forward a bit, intent on something. On her, she realized with a jolt.
“I would like to spend the night with you.” He wasn’t kidding, and it wasn’t a pick-up line. He made it sound solemn, a proposal not a proposition.
Her chest began to rise and fall with the force of her reaction. Darby could feel her nipples straining against her bra.
Her brain was flashing all sorts of objections, from safety to self-consciousness to the fact that he was way out of her league. Somehow his look quelled the arguments.
“Tell me what you need for that to happen,” Damien said with the tiniest squeeze of her hand.
The feel of his skin on hers was very distracting. “Need?”
“You don’t do one-night stands,” he explained gently.
Right again. But then her lack of sexual adventurousness must be pretty obvious. “Why me?” she blurted out, though that hardly addressed the sheer insanity of the situation.
“I like you. I like your skin,” he said as his thumb rubbed the back of her hand, then pressed down sharply. It didn’t hurt—well, okay it did, but not in a bad way. It was intimate, sexual. That contact, the pressure of his fingers against hers, cut through all the adolescent posturing she’d seen her friends go through with guys. Damien Lockhart wasn’t a “guy.”
Darby caught a gasp before it could escape. He went back to caressing her hand. She took a huge breath, sitting up straighter and pressing her legs together. The seam at the crotch of her jeans pressed against her clit a little if she shifted her ass, she discovered.
“Sit still,” Damien said.
Her brain protested when her body complied. Her clit throbbed. She stared at Damien. He didn’t seem particularly aroused. She wanted to look for an erection, but this time she couldn’t break their eye contact.
“You arouse me, Darby. Trust me, I don’t do one-night stands either.”
Now that she could believe. He looked like he could get anyone he wanted, for as long as he wanted.
Wait—that’s what she needed to ask! “Are you married? Involved? Committed?”
“No to all three. I’ve not had a—a relationship for quite a while.”
“Kids?” It wasn’t clear if her desperation was to find a reason not to sleep with him, or decide there was no reason not to.
He shook his head just enough to say no.
Then Darby blurted out something bizarre. It felt as though the words went straight past her brain to her mouth. “Do you have a dog?”
Damien laughed. He looked pleased. “Yes. Here,” he let go of her hand to pull out a slim wallet from inside his suit jacket. He pulled out a photo of a Golden Retriever sitting in front of a large fireplace, its fur glowing with the reflected flames. “Leo.”
Darby admired Leo. “Who’s looking after him?”
“I have an employee who stays in my house while I travel.”
“Okay.” She handed the photo back.
“Okay?” Damien raised an eyebrow.
“Okay, I’ll sleep with you.”
“Good girl,” he said.
Darby glowed with pleasure. The warmth of his approval spread through her torso, flowing to her pinched nipples. She couldn’t tell how he’d done it, but he’d seduced her so thoroughly that if he’d told her to strip on the spot, part of her would be thrilled with the idea. And she wasn’t sure the other part of her would put up much objection.
Damien had a suite of rooms at the top of the hotel, on the side facing the city and away from the airport. He ushered her into a large sitting room, then went into one of the bedrooms. He didn’t suggest she follow him, so she left her suitcase by the sofa and walked over to the windows, pushing back the gauzy inner curtain so she could see the cityscape.
She jumped when she saw his reflection appear suddenly. He stood right behind her, not touching but she could feel the heat from his body warming her back.
She didn’t move. She was nervous again, all her fears about her brown mousiness and his dark power surging back now that she’d decided to sleep with him.
She turned, staring at his shirt. He’d taken off the suit jacket and rolled up his shirtsleeves but otherwise he seemed normal. What had she expected—that he’d be naked?
“Darby.” She looked up at him. His expression was more solemn than seductive. “You may leave at any time. I’ve paid for a room in your name, so just go down to Reception and they’ll give you the key.”
How odd. Why would he do that? “I’ve got a voucher,” she reminded him.
“This is simpler, and I can easily afford it.”
“Okay.” Darby’s brain had gone back to mush.
“If at any point you want to stop what we’re doing and leave, just say the word ‘red.’”
This made even less sense than paying for an extra hotel room, but she could tell from his expression that this was important. “Okay.”
“Good girl,” he said.
God, he could bottle that combination of quiet approval and slow smile as an aphrodisiac. Darby creamed her pants when he praised her.
Her sluggish brain took a moment to process his command. This was the fantasy from the bar. Her breasts and pussy were more than ready to get naked, and as expected the rest of her wasn’t too alarmed. That’s why she was there, to do what Damien wanted her to do.
Darby took off the blazer, pulled her top over her head, then tugged off her boots, her socks and jeans. Before she could unhook her bra, though, Damien stopped her.
“Put your hands behind your back.”
Darby was enjoying taking orders more than she thought she would. She pulled her arms back so that she was holding onto her elbows, her forearms pressed against the back of the bra. That made her modest breasts stick out. Thank goodness her mother’s dictum about not traveling in ratty underwear meant she was wearing a pretty, lacy bra sheer enough to hint at her puckered nipples.
Damien reached up to cup her left breast. Darby glanced down to see what his beautiful fingers were doing.
“Look at me,” he commanded.
Her eyes snapped back up to his face, but she made a tiny mew of protest. She wanted to look. His gaze told her she couldn’t.
Then he pinched her nipple, hard, tugging it up firmly enough that Darby went on tiptoe to relieve the pressure. She couldn’t control her breathing, which sounded like a freight train, and she could hear a faint squeaking noise that might be coming from her. But she didn’t look away from Damien’s serious face.
And the crazy part, Darby realized, was the sensation of the other nipple wanting to be pinched too. That thought took over her brain. “Please,” she whimpered.
“Please what? Tell me what you want.”
“The other nipple, please,” she begged. Her eyes went moist with the shame of needing more pain, not less.
“Ah, Darby,” Damien breathed. “You are delightful.” He plucked the other nipple, pressing the lace into it just as hard.
Darby exhaled noisily. She wanted to close her eyes in pleasure, but as her eyelids dropped a bit, he barked, “Look at me.”
She blinked at him.
“When I tell you to do something, you will continue to do that thing until I tell you to stop or indicate what you should do instead.”
Darby thought about saying “okay,” but it felt flippant. She nodded, once, to show she understood.
“You are just learning, so I will be more tolerant for now. But I expect you to learn quickly.”
Oh, yes, she wanted to learn.
He released her nipples and she dropped back on her heels. The pain after the release was almost as exquisite as when he was pinching her. She wanted to see what her nipples looked like—they felt huge—but she kept looking at him, waiting for his next move.
“I want you on your knees, Darby.”
She hesitated just long enough to decide that she shouldn’t unlock her arms from behind her back. She wasn’t exactly graceful getting down on the floor, but she managed it, and was rewarded with a light touch on her head. She looked up at Damien.
“Darby, you have a choice to make. I am healthy, but I don’t require you to believe that if you don’t wish. Would you like me to use a condom?”
Right. STDs. He wanted her to give him a blow job. She wanted her mouth on his skin, the taste of him on her tongue. “No condom,” she told him.
He nodded, then unzipped his trousers. She could see black silky fabric—boxers?—then his cock was in front of her. It was large and enticing. She leaned in to kiss it, touch it with her tongue, love it with her lips.
His hands rested lightly on her hair, but there were subtle shifts in pressure that seemed to guide her as she took the head and then more of the shaft into her mouth. She played with the sensitive spot under the head, poking and licking with her tongue. Then his hands relayed a new command and she started sucking, trying to take more of his length. Her arms ached and her hands itched to caress him.
Darby felt it then, that focus that came from having only one way to express her desire to make him climax. She let Damien set the tempo but she supplied her own enthusiasm. When his hands fisted in her hair, tugging her head down even more, she could tell he was close. He made a noise. It was hard to decipher what he was saying over the rushing in her ears. Then he came, a lovely saltiness that she gently savored as his cock slipped out of her mouth.
Instinctively she looked up to his face, but he wasn’t looking at her. She was more aroused than ever, but the connection was broken. Her heart fell. Had she done it wrong? Was her technique only okay? Did she compare badly with all the other women who’d given him head? Darby fought the urge to cry, but a tear slipped down her cheek anyway.
Damien had zipped up. He pivoted and walked into his bedroom. The sitting room was emptier than empty without him. Cold and lonely. Darby forced herself to breathe. She didn’t move from her spot, though. He’d said not to. Sort of.
Her brain spotted the problem immediately. What if he was done with her? Crappiest one-night-stand ever from the orgasm standpoint, but she wanted more than physical release. She wanted the thrill of pleasing him again.
Come back. Please.
She could hear faint sounds of water running in the en-suite bathroom.
Okay, if the light in the bedroom went out, she’d get dressed and leave.
Her nipples ached, her knees were sore, her clit was engorged with potential, and her heart felt hollowed out. But Darby didn’t move. She couldn’t have said why she didn’t. She just didn’t.
Damien came back finally. He strode into the room confidently, still wearing his suit trousers and pristine white shirt. He stood in front of Darby, his arms crossed. He looked—Darby searched his expression but the only thing she could think was he looked determined, as though he’d decided something.
“Put your arms by your side.”
The blood flowed into her hands, making her fingertips tingle. She almost shook her arms to make the pins and needles go away but stopped herself just in time.
“Strip off your bra and panties.”
He wasn’t sending her away! The relief was overwhelming. She unhooked the bra, slipped the straps down her arms and let it drop to the floor. The panties, probably sopping wet by now, joined the bra.
“Talk to me, Darby.”
What? She focused on his eyes, but they were still impassive. Don’t give me an order I don’t know how to obey, she wanted to object.
“What do you want me to say?”
Now he looked annoyed. But she hadn’t meant it to be challenging. She tried again.
“I mean, what sorts of things would you like me to talk about?”
Damien sighed. Darby felt panicky. She wasn’t pleasing him anymore.
“I just want to please you,” she blurted out.
“You do please me, Darby,” he explained patiently. He sounded like he was correcting a rather dim but willing subordinate. “I would just like to know more about you.”
She nodded. “I’m 28. I’m not in a relationship and I live alone. I work for a large company.” She didn’t tell him she ached for him to want her again, to tell her she was a good girl, even though in that instant those facts seemed more relevant than her age and employment.
“Do you want to leave now?”
“Do you want me to leave?” she asked in a rush. “I will if you want. But no, I don’t—I mean, that wouldn’t be my choice.”
“What would be your choice?”
Darby blinked in the silence. It was a huge question. The options overwhelmed her. She wasn’t getting any clues what answer he wanted, what she could say to please him. He just waited.
Finally she said, “It’s easier to know what I don’t want, which is to leave. I want to please you.”
Dead silence for a moment. “I’m having fun,” Darby added.
She winced mentally. What an stupid word, fun. It was like describing the Grand Canyon as a large hole in the ground. The experience was so much more than she could express. And she wouldn’t even let her brain contemplate what would happen when this ended. Stay in the moment, which was filled to overflowing with her awareness of Damien. Silent, unknowable, compelling Damien. Yeah, fun didn’t even come close to defining the profound reaction she was having.
Damien flicked his gaze away from her, then down to his wrist, as though he was checking the time. He removed his watch with deliberate care.
“Come,” he said as he moved toward the bedroom.
The bedroom was nearly as large as the sitting room, decorated in pale grey tones. The carpet under her bare feet was obscenely thick and silky. The bed had been turned down for the night, the bedspread removed and the snowy sheet folded at an angle. While Darby waited just inside the doorway, Damien stripped the bedding away completely, leaving just the bottom sheet.
“You should use the bathroom now,” he said without looking at her.
Darby could feel the pressure then, a need to pee that she’d been unaware of until that moment. When she came back to the bedroom, her hands and face freshly washed and her short hair fluffed back into some semblance of her usual curls, Damien was standing by the head of the bed. His eyes were shadowed, his arms crossed.
“Get on the bed, Darby.” She skirted the discarded covers and crawled on the bed, on her hands and knees, moving toward Damien but stopping in the middle of the mattress. She sat back on her heels, looking at his face, waiting. Hoping. Aching.
“Lie on your back.” He waited until she had positioned herself. “Pull your knees up but keep your feet flat on the bed. Spread your legs. More.”
Darby’s hands were holding her knees wide open. She could smell her own arousal, welling up as she displayed her sex for him.
He stood with his legs pressed against the edge of the bed. “You will stay in that position until I tell you to release your legs.”
“Yes, Damien,” Darby said.
He raised a hand and pulled it through his hair, thick and dark brown. Down in the bar, his hair had looked like the color of coffee beans but in the dim light of the bedroom, it was sable-black.
“The only other rule I have is that you may not come without my permission. Okay, Darby?”
Her pussy pulsed at that image, craving whatever he wanted to do. She wanted him to touch her, lick her, impale her, whatever he chose.
“I understand,” she told him.
He was still dressed when he joined her on the bed. She could see his eyes better, but they were hooded and lazy. Very sexy. Bedroom eyes. Darby had the odd feeling she could climax just from looking at his eyes. If he ordered her to, that was.
He looked down at her sex, a pleasant interest on his face. She kept her eyes on his, rewarded when he checked where she was looking. She resisted the urge to see if his lips were smiling.
Darby, who’d had little trouble following his instructions up till then, was swamped by a desire to stare at his mouth. What she really wanted was to kiss him, or if she was being honest, she wanted him to kiss her. But she wasn’t going to risk disobeying him now. She kept her eyes where they were supposed to be. She wasn’t a cheat.
His hand was on her pussy, fingers inside her and his thumb on her clit. She could picture his hands and his fingertips. He had beautiful fingers, immaculately trimmed, but there was just enough thumbnail to provide an edge of pain to what he was doing. He was driving her crazy, making her legs tremble with the effort to keep still. She clamped her lips tight shut to keep from crying out.
He started to fuck her with two fingers, his thumb still on her clit.
Oh, God, she was going to come. How did he expect her to prevent that? In Darby’s experience, orgasms were shy animals that had to be coaxed into reach, they weren’t an inexorable force of nature. This one felt like a tsunami bearing down on her.
“Oh, please,” she whined. She scrunched up her face, squinting at Damien, imploring him to understand, to back off. “Please help me.”
“What do you need, Darby?” He sounded absurdly cool, as though he was asking how she took her coffee.
“I need you inside me,” she pleaded. She had no idea where that idea came from, but as soon as the words were out, her body cheered and the looming climax receded slightly.
Damien didn’t take his hand away, but that devilish assault on her pussy and clit stilled. She throbbed with mingled relief and arousal.
He pulled her down to the foot of the bed. “Up on your hands and knees,” he ordered.
Darby scrambled to comply. She spread her knees, but he nudged them further apart. “Down on your elbows.”
That caused her ass to be more prominent. She’d never felt sexier. This position was new to her. It felt erotic, as though she was more cunt than anything else.
Those demon fingers went back to her slit, smearing her juices around. Darby started to pant as the orgasm she didn’t think she could stop welled up again. Now. Stick it in me now, she pleaded silently.
She heard the condom wrapper, then—God he was huge. She knew that from when his cock was in her mouth, but this was worse—better—no, more. Just more. And he kept pushing, stretching her, filling her. The orgasm monster backed off, waiting to see what would happen next.
What happened was the most wonderful fuck ever. Darby loved the grip of his hands on her hips, then the feel of him leaning down enough to reach her nipples. Oh, yes, that was just what she wanted. Her whole body was ready to come. But he hadn’t said the magic words yet, so she clamped down, hard, to keep from disobeying him.
By focusing on the pain of his fingertips on her tight nipples, Darby could just barely manage not to come. The effort was horrendous, and there was a raw keening noise coming from her throat, but it was what Damien wanted.
Then he reached down for her clit. The monster was going to win and force her to fail Damien.
“Now, Darby. Come now.”
She pressed her hands over her mouth to keep from making too much noise but that was the only effort at restraint she could manage. Her body shattered over and over with the force of her release. Damien pounded in to her, and fingered her clit just hard enough to keep the waves of pleasure crashing over her. Then she heard him groan, felt him come, and she was finally allowed to collapse.
There was a shift as he placed her in the middle of the bed, a pillow under her cheek. Darby felt Damien pull the covers up over her. Her eyes closed and she smiled her thanks as she curled into sleep.