Grounded (Up in the Air, #3)(6)

A young, polished brunette greeted us from behind a massive desk. “Ms. Karlsson, Ms. Blake, Johnny,” she murmured as we passed her. I wondered how she could have known me by sight. No doubt it was obvious by my armed escorts…

All of this was just a distracted, distant thought, as well, as Blake led me into a huge office that had windows lining more walls than not.

Blake did a thorough search of the office, checking every inch of the space and inside of the two doors that attached. Johnny stayed close to my side as she did so. I thought they were a little overzealous, but what did I know?

Blake finished her search, giving me a severe nod when she finished. “All clear, Ms. Karlsson. We’ll be right outside if you need anything.”

I heard the door click shut behind me. I dropped my purse somewhere on the floor as I made my way to the windows. I noted absently that the office decor didn’t have the James touch. The mood of the office was all old-fashioned New York, with an antique desk and ancient hardwood flooring. The chair behind the desk was antique brown leather, as well as the couch. Even the rugs had an old money feel. It was so uncharacteristic for James that I stood pondering it for a long time, letting the strange decor distract me.

When that grew tiresome, I moved to the window, looking sightlessly at the spectacular view of Manhattan.

I had no idea how long I stood there like a statue before I heard the door open and then close behind me. The click of a lock being engaged was unnaturally loud in the quiet as death silence of the room.

“Turn around and look at me,” James said after a long moment, his voice low and rough.

It was insane, it was unreasonable, it was self-destructive…and masochistic, but I grew wet at the sound of that violence-roughened voice.

I turned around.


Mr. Sadistic

I studied him for a long time, my legs trembling as I took him in. I leaned back against the window for support.

His suit jacket was missing, his tie askew. The sleeves of his white dress shirt were rolled up. Rather messily, too, at least for him. I saw one lone drop of blood on his collar. I studied his face, then his arms. His knuckles looked a little swollen, his fists clenched, but his face was untouched.

“He was a grown man who had insulted the most important person in my life. The most precious thing in my world. Twice. Wipe that f*cking scared look off your face. I would never punch you, never attack you without restraint. But I will punish you.” As he spoke, he began to unbutton his shirt, pulling it free of his beige slacks. His erection was outlined heavily against that pale fabric.

I licked numb lips. “For what?”

“For that look. For that lack of trust. For leaving me for days, whatever the f*cking reason. And you were late.”

He strode to me, shirtless and impossibly beautiful, his stark muscles working along his perfect golden skin with every step. I watched my name, etched in crimson on his chest, as he moved closer to me.

His heavy hand fell to my nape. He pushed me slowly to the desk with just that contact. He pressed me, firmly but gradually, until the front of my torso was flush against the top of his desk, my hipbones digging into the edge. His hands moved up under my dress with no hesitation, gripping my lacy thong and pulling it down my legs with one smooth motion. He touched one ankle. “Lift,” he ordered curtly.

I lifted my foot. He repeated the process on the other leg.

His fingers moved against my back, unclasping my bra through the silk of my dress, as only someone experienced with that process could be. He worked it off me swiftly, leaving my dress intact.

He flipped the silky skirt of my dress up over my hips, leaving my ass and sex bare for his perusal. He stood silently at my back for a long time. I squirmed.

“Close your eyes,” he ordered.

I obeyed.

I heard him stride away. A door to my left opened, then closed. I could hear my own breath panting out of me. I was in a state.

I heard him approach me again long minutes later. He wasn’t trying to be quiet.

“Grip the edge of the desk,” he ordered.

I gripped.

“Anything to say?” he asked me coldly.

I didn’t know where to begin, didn’t know what he wanted, but I had to try. “I’m sorry, Mr. Cavendish.”

“What are you sorry for?”

“For all of it. For leaving you for days, whatever the reason. For being late. Please…”

He struck, harsh bristles striking against my backside. I wriggled. It smarted, but didn’t precisely hurt. It was like being whipped with very thick hair. That was perhaps why he didn’t hold back, striking again and again without pause. I shifted against the desk, moaning.

He pressed a hard hand to the small of my back, holding me immobile while he worked me over. He spread the whips over my butt and thighs liberally. This went on for endless moments while I writhed.

Abruptly, he stopped. I could hear his harsh breath.

“Do you like the horse-hair flogger?” he asked.

I made a little humming noise in my throat. “I do, Mr. Cavendish.”

“That was what would be considered a warm-up, Bianca. Do you know what that means?”

I shook my head. “No, Mr. Cavendish.”

He moved into me, pressing his heavy, trouser-clad erection flush into my sex and leaning down heavily against my back. He breathed his next words into my ear. “Open your eyes.”

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