Seven years ago, she was sheltered. In need of guidance. I was a newly-ordained priest with a vow of celibacy. Our love affair was torrid, and wrong, and ended in heartbreak.
We broke it off and went our separate ways.
I left the priesthood. She left her home.
Seven years later, she’s stranded in my NYC Club while a blizzard rages outside, and she wants a taste of dominance.
I won’t let another man lay eyes on her, much less touch her.
She’s still my everything. My salvation.
And there’s no way I’m letting her go.
He shakes his head, stomps over to me, and hauls me up by the armpits to standing, then he lifts me into his arms. What the hell?
“Noah!” I protest.
“Axle,” he corrects.
“I’m—sick. And I didn’t give you permission to pick me up. Put me down! This is the most epically disastrous reunion known to man.” I let my head fall back dramatically, which earns a chuckle from him.
“Damn, Chandra, you’re just as cute as you were when I knew you.”
Oh no he doesn’t.
“Put me down,” I whisper. “Please.” I can’t stand being this close to him. The sound of his voice… his clean, powerful, masculine scent… the way he says my name, Chandra, like it’s a prayer. It isn’t a prayer, but a form of torture. We tried prayers, and they fell on deaf ears. I loved this man once, and I’ve had to put a wall up around my heart for survival. I won’t let him tear that wall down. I can’t.
“I’ll put you down when I get to my room,” he says. “You came into this club unescorted. Am I right?”
“Well…” I begin. “Not really. I came in here with Marla.”
“Jesus Christ,” he mutters. I blink in shock. The Noah I knew did not only didn’t have tattoos, he did not swear. What’s happened to him? “And where’s Marla now?” he asks.
“I told her to go home,” I say.
His brow furrows. “And she just went? Just left you?”
“Well…” my voice trails off.
“Chandra,” he chides.
“I… may have texted her and said I already went home,” I whisper.
“So, you lied.”
“Well, yes, but it was for her own good.”
“It’s still a lie,” he says sternly, but before he can continue his lecture, my stomach lurches again.
He helps me to my feet and leads me to bed. It’s so tender, my eyes water, but I tell myself it’s just because he caught me at a weak moment. I can’t fall for him. I loved once, and I can’t go there again.
“Into bed with you,” he says.
“I need to go home,” I whisper. My stomach churns, waves crashing on rocks.
“You’ll go home eventually,” he says with a sigh. “But tonight, you stay here. There’s a blizzard warning in effect, and it isn’t safe to travel, plus I want to be sure you’re healthy again.” He walks over to a refrigerator and removes a cold bottle of water. He opens the top, hands it to me, and orders, “Drink.”
“I can’t sleep here,” I protest. The thought of being close to him, when I’m sick and weak, terrifies me. I need to be strong to resist his pull. Even now, when he’s tender and kind and firm with me, I want to give in. I take a sip from the bottle just to appease him, and then lift my head and say with determination. “I must go home. Though I’m ever so grateful for your kindness, staying here is not an option.”
His eyes narrow. “Why not? Why the hell would you go?”
Why not? Is he high?
“I don’t owe you an explanation,” I grit out, pushing myself to sitting and swinging my legs over the bed.
He takes a step close to me, and it dawns on me that we’re in a BDSM club.
Why is he here?
“Noah?” I ask, eying him warily. “What exactly is your role here, anyway?”
“No changing the subject,” he says. “I said you’re staying here, and I mean it. So first, we agree to that.”
“No,” I tell him, giving him the same heated glare he’s giving me. “I said, I’m going home. We have a history, and I’m not—” I freeze and nearly bite my tongue to stop me from saying I can’t do that to myself again.
I let him go. I had to. It was a necessary but brutal decision.
A little part of the old Chandra died when that happened.
He steps closer, his eyes smoldering. “You’re not what?” he asks. He’s so close, I feel the vibration of his breath on me. His voice, as rough as sandpaper, grates against my frayed nerves. “Letting me defile you again?”
USA Today Bestselling author Jane has been writing since her early teens, dabbling in short stories and poetry. When she married and began having children, her pen was laid to rest for several years, until the National Novel Writing Challenge (NaNoWriMo) in 2010 awakened in her the desire to write again. That year, she wrote her first novel, and has been writing ever since. With a houseful of children, she finds time to write in the early hours of the morning, squirreled away with a laptop, blanket, and cup of hot coffee. Years ago, she heard the wise advice, “Write the book you want to read,” and has taken it to heart. She sincerely hopes you also enjoy the books she likes to read.