ifonly_books

If Only 1: Only for the Weekend

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To fulfill her deepest desires, she’ll give a stranger complete control.

Jane Jacobs has spent years obsessing over her best friend’s older brother. Rock drummer Vincent O’Connell has ruined her love life, but it’s about to get CPR—in Las Vegas. On a blind date with a Dom who is as magnetic and commanding as she ever dreamed Vincent could be. If only he weren’t masked, she might lay more than her body at his feet.

Vincent has fantasized about his sister’s best friend for years. When he finds out she wants to explore her submissive side, he’ll be damned if he’ll let her surrender to any man but him. He can play her body like the master he is, but what he wants even more than her submission is her love. To keep her, he’ll have to tell her the truth, and that means revealing more than just his face. 

It means showing her his heart.

*

“Scorching hot BDSM scenes and chemistry that's off the charts.” — Reviews from the Heart

 

Read the whole IF ONLY series!

Only for the Weekend (Book 1)

Only for the Night (Book 2)

Only for the Moment (Book 3 )

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Chapter One

God, it was hot.

The desert wind blasted Jane’s hair back from her face as she walked out of the sliding doors of the Las Vegas airport. Heat soaked through the base of her heels to sear her toes, and she imagined the sudden sweat popping out on her forehead looked nothing like the “glistening” most women claimed they did in the heat. No, she was definitely sweating. And hot. Really hot.

But at least her dress was cool.

The Marilyn Monroe lookalike was intended to give her confidence, and it certainly did that. The halter top left her shoulders bare, the nipped-in waist made her feel incredibly sexy, and the filmy skirt flitted teasingly in the air, reminding her of the scene in The Seven Year Itch where Marilyn stopped over the subway grate. Vegas didn’t have subway grates, but at least if the skirt hit the air in similar fashion, her new lacy underwear wouldn’t leave her embarrassed—much. Since she wasn’t in the habit of showing strangers her underwear, some embarrassment was inevitable, but not the ratty-panties kind.

You’re about to show a guy a lot more than your panties, Jane. Remember that.

The sudden flush in her cheeks had nothing to do with the air temperature. She wasn’t letting it stop her, though. She planned to do a lot in Las Vegas that would have her blushing; she might as well get used to it now.

The sudden sound of crickets chirping came from her purse. Her cell phone. More specifically, Kennedy’s ringtone—inside joke, since when they got together there was never any silence. Her best friend was probably running late, like always. Too many irons in the fire and not enough hands. Jane fished her phone out while she peered around the area. Where were the signs she needed?

“Hello?”

“Are you here?”

Jane grinned. “Just walked out of the airport.”

“Great!”

Jane could hear Kennedy shifting the phone around. Her voice was breathless, like she was hurrying somewhere. Definitely not in a car. A sinking feeling settled in Jane’s stomach. “You’re not out here waiting for me, are you?” she asked.

“You know me very well,” Kennedy said. “We had an unexpected crisis with a VIP event—it’s missing its VIP. But I sent James with the limo. Things should be settled by the time you get here.”

Kennedy had been at the Sovereign Resort and Spa for six months now, assistant manager of event planning. Jane couldn’t be more proud of her, even though it meant Kennedy no longer lived nearby. This was the first chance she’d had to fly out since her friend moved to Nevada.

Kennedy was half mumbling to someone near her and half instructing Jane where to go. Jane squinted at a sign to her left, but the letters blurred into a white blob on a blue background. With a sigh she fumbled her prescription sunglasses out of her purse and onto her nose. The utilitarian frames didn’t go with her fifties dress, more fitting her everyday image—stuffy librarian—but the instant they were on, everything went from fuzzy to crisp and the sign became readable.

“So where do I find the limo?” she asked Kennedy.

A few hushed, impatient words reached her ears, then, “Go to the reserved pickup area.”

The sign in front of her didn’t help, so she glanced around for another farther down. “I qualify for something reserved?” she asked.

“Of course! Now which door did you come out of?”

Jane told her.

“Good. Go left.”

She did, a little laugh escaping. Kennedy knew exactly how directionally—and optically—challenged Jane was. Being talked through the maze that was McCarran International would save her numerous trips backward when she got lost.

Heat waves curled up from the sidewalk despite the overhead canopy protecting it and her from the sun. The crowds, seeming unaffected by the heat, mingled in clumps, blocking her way as they waited for buses to take them to their respective lodging. Her heels added three inches to her height, just enough that she wasn’t swamped and blind in the swarm of people, but it was Kennedy’s directions that led her to reserved pickup without a hitch. Hopefully her friend had been equally successful finding what Jane needed for this visit.

Jane wasn’t sure she wanted to ask. Yes, she’d made this decision on her own—the Big Decision, capital letters—and what Kennedy had offered to do was the linchpin in this being a success, but a part of her hoped Kennedy hadn’t found anyone. After all, if Kennedy didn’t succeed, Jane wouldn’t have to put herself out there, so to speak.

All of me. Everything.

She stepped to one side, out of the flow of traffic, her grip on her phone making her fingers ache.

“Um, Kennedy, did you—”

“No, that won’t work!” Kennedy yelled in her ear. Jane jerked the phone far enough from her face to stare at it, as if the device could explain the problem. It stared silently back at her, but when she returned it to her ear, Kennedy was apologizing. “I’m sorry, Jane, but if I ever want to get away, I have to deal with this. I’ll see you in a few.”

“But—”

The line went dead. Kennedy was gone.

Jane wasn’t sure if that was a relief or not.

Just ahead, a section of the curbs on both sides of the road were labeled RESERVED. Since the area was empty, no limo in sight, Jane took her time, letting the swish of her skirt against her legs and the faint kick of wind soothe her rioting nerves. Lane, her ex, had hated this dress when she picked it out. Of course, he’d hated a lot of things, including what she’d suggested to spice up their mundane sex life, which was why he was her ex. She was twenty-six, not sixty; she shouldn’t have the sex life of a middle-aged woman. She’d suspected for a long time that what she needed couldn’t be had from Lane anyway—or any other man she’d dated, for that matter. They were all too…nice. She didn’t want a nice sex life. Passion, yes. Fire, definitely. To be controlled—at least, she hoped that’s what she needed. Otherwise this was all going to be a complete clusterfuck.

Her thoughts drifted without permission to the one time she’d experienced that fire. The memory stirred more nerves, though, and she shoved it forcefully away.

A black stretch limo turned the corner ahead. As it prowled toward her, Jane’s glasses allowed her to see the white square sign in the front window: JACOBS. That was her. Hitching her overnight case higher on her shoulder, she moved forward and raised a hand to gain the driver’s attention.

Before the vehicle could reach her, a hotel bus zoomed around the bend. Jane was close enough she could see the driver’s eyes go wide at the obstruction directly in front of him. To avoid rear-ending the limo, he whipped into the second lane. The rush of wind from the passing bus caught the hem of her skirt and, just like in The Seven Year Itch, threw the material into the air before Jane could put her hand down to catch it. She knew exactly how unsuccessful she was by the sudden coolness bathing her upper thighs—and the limo driver’s expression as he pulled to a stop at the curb.

A wolf whistle sounded behind her, then another one. Smoothing a hand over her bottom to be sure it was now covered, Jane chanced a look over her shoulder. Several tourists had dropped their bags and stopped their conversations to gawk in her direction. The awful rush of heat up her neck returned, damn it. How was she going to get through a night with a Dom if she couldn’t get down the street without blushing to death?

And then, just for a moment, she saw something that sent the blood in her cheeks back so fast Jane thought she might faint. A man, walking away from her, the details of his body obscured by the sudden glare of sunlight as he moved beyond the covered walkway in front of the airport. All she could make out was that he was tall, his shoulders broad and heavy and—her heart thudded—seemingly familiar, as was the glint of ginger in his hair. She caught a hint of sunglasses and pale skin as he turned to look at something nearby, and then he moved around the end of the building and was gone.

Not from her mind, though. Her heart was beating the inside of her ribs like it wanted to break out and follow the man, which was ridiculous because he couldn’t be who she thought he was. He couldn’t. Kennedy would’ve told her if Vincent was visiting Vegas at the same time. And Jane would’ve stayed home to avoid him, like she’d been doing for the past seven years, ten months, and she-really-needed-to-forget-how-many days.

But he wasn’t here. Weekend Washout, the indie rock band Vincent was a part of, had become a huge success several years ago. Kennedy had bragged just last night that V. was on the road again. Probably a different city every night. A different girl. Not that Jane was thinking about that. Or him. Ever again. Even if he was the reason she’d started on this godforsaken road down exploration lane.

Of course, the road would feel much less bumpy if she didn’t see his ghost around every corner. There was more than one sexy redhead with broad shoulders in the world. She just needed to get over what had happened and get a move on. Her future was waiting.

A throat clearing behind her dragged Jane’s attention back to the present. “Hello, miss. You wouldn’t happen to be Ms. O’Connell’s guest, by chance?”

She turned from staring after her mystery guy to find the driver of the limo standing in front of her, proper black uniform, cap, and all. His accent was even proper English. She didn’t know if it was real, but it was charming, as were his smiling blue eyes. Appreciative blue eyes, even if he was nearer fifty than twenty-five. Apparently her lacy underwear could be relished at any age.

She scrambled to get her thoughts together and held out her hand. “Yes, Jane.”

“Nice to make your acquaintance, Jane. I am James.”

James, really? She barely held back a home, James!

The chauffeur didn’t seem to notice her sudden amusement, or maybe he was used to it. “Ms. O’Connell described you perfectly.” The man took her hand and actually bowed over it briefly. Did they teach that in chauffeur school, along with the accent and the proper name to use? Everything in Vegas was a show, it seemed. “May I take your bag, miss?”

An enjoyable show. She gave James her sweetest smile and a thank-you.

Her overnight case was summarily stored and Jane escorted to the rear passenger door of the limousine. Before she stepped inside, she couldn’t help one last glance at the spot where the mystery guy had stood. The yearning she’d fought for so many years bubbled up, aching for a single glimpse of his face, his smile, his eyes, but the crowd was empty of anything familiar. The man, so much like Vincent, was gone, leaving her behind just like the real Vincent had.

Jane slid into the seat and adjusted her skirt over her knees. V. might’ve left her behind all those years ago, but this weekend it was her turn—and she intended to do exactly the same. She had a life to live, and she was about to learn exactly how to live it.

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Fun Fact!

This series was intended to be a single book (Hank's story) that would bridge the Secrets To Hide series and a series featuring Harley's former band, Aftershock. Hank and Aftershock make their appearance in Naughty Little Christmas.

Of course, once I started plotting Hank, I knew there had to be other men in his life who weren't quite so "vanilla." That's when Vincent's story came along. And V.'s sister Kennedy is such a sass, I knew she needed a story (which will eventually be book 3).

*sigh*

Who knows what else will happen in this trio's little world! But one thing's for certain — they will still be the bridge to the naughty, sexy, dominant boys of Aftershock and the women who surrender everything to them.

Enjoy!

If Only 2: Only for the Night

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She needs a Dom with heart. He sees the lifestyle as heartless. 

Sage Lyndsey is in desperate need of an escape from the tragic loss of her mother and a too-public breakup with her Dom. Buying into Citrus Pointe’s bakery may be her best decision ever—a place to hide and heal. To do what she loves. But her ideal is broken when her new landlord’s dog steals her towel right in front of him. Now the hottest rock bassist ever, Hank Nash, has seen everything she has. Literally.

Even more shocking? That she’d like him to follow up with his very talented hands, bending her to his will.

Hank has enough trouble on his plate—his band is on the rocks and his muse is off the rails. Adding a spunky, sexy roommate is overload. Even worse, the urge to dominate Sage threatens his hard-won control. But he can’t give in. He’s seen what happens when dominance turns to abuse, and he won’t risk her, no matter how much she needs to submit.

Or how much he hungers to keep her.

*

“Scorching hot BDSM scenes and chemistry that's off the charts.” — Reviews from the Heart

 

Read the whole IF ONLY series!

Only for the Weekend (Book 1)

Only for the Night (Book 2)

Only for the Moment (Book 3)

 

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Chapter One

Sage Lyndsey fingered the button of her silky white shirt and wondered if she should change again. The oversize button-down draped her body, just see-through enough to reveal the black lace bra and tight mini she wore beneath it. Would Kevin approve?

The sound of a key in the front door lock filtered down the hall, speeding her heart and the churning in her stomach. She glanced at the clock: 6:30. The time triggered an all too familiar despair. Late again. There’d be no time to eat, to talk, to cuddle before they left. The pattern had been set for the past few months, and nothing she did changed it. She was beginning to wonder if anything could.

“Sage!”

The word jerked her muscles into action. One final look in the mirror, a finger tracing beneath each eye to erase any evidence of tears, and she headed down the hall.

“Sage, where are you?”

Kevin stood at the open fridge door, his suit still perfect, his black hair swept back from a hard, handsome face that still took her breath away. “Right here,” she said.

No response. When he lifted a water bottle to his lips, she waited, but he drank deep without turning toward her. The long line of his throat drew her gaze; she wanted to walk over, place a kiss on the faint stubble along his Adam’s apple, snuggle against his wide chest. She’d always preferred big men, tall and strong, and Kevin had fit her to a T from day one. Unfortunately she no longer seemed to fit him, and the fear that he wasn’t happy kept her from approaching him. Fear of rejection.

That was her. A coward. She shook with the need to go to him, to seek comfort, to know he still loved her, but the “stay back” sign he seemed to wear constantly refused to go away.

And so did her resentment.

Arms open to show off her outfit, she asked, “Well, do you approve?”

Her tone came out a touch too tart, too much sass, but regret wasn’t even a blip on her radar. She had feelings too; she wasn’t just a doll he could take out every Friday when he finally came ho—

Kevin turned. Big mistake. She tried to swallow at the burning disapproval in his dark brown eyes, but every drop of spit went desert dry.

“What did you say to me, sub?”

Dropping her eyes to the floor was automatic. Her hands went behind her back, where she balled them into fists to contain the shot of adrenaline her own anger sparked in her system. She was his girlfriend, his lover, not just his sub, even if that role seemed to be the only one he responded to anymore.

How much longer can I do this?

She straightened her spine, stepped closer. “Do you approve, Sir?”

Kevin advanced, his shiny black dress shoes tapping out a rhythm as he closed the distance between them. She peeked up from beneath her long bangs, wanting to read his reaction, but he was too tall, too close to catch a glimpse of his face. His suit jacket and slacks even prevented her from reading his body language. Would her appearance, her submission appease him?

She already knew the answer, but the needy part of her, the part she was beginning to hate more and more, couldn’t help trying. She sank to her knees, grateful for the slight pain of the impact. It gave her something to focus on as Kevin circled her, inspecting his sub.

That’s all I am anymore. Just…sub. Her mother’s death this past summer had left her anchorless, but she hadn’t been alone. Not until this moment, with the man she loved mere inches away.

Kevin’s dress shoes reappeared in her line of sight. “I approve,” he said. The words validated her efforts, but there was no gruff arousal, no hunger in them. Her failure bore down on her, slumping her shoulders with its weight.

Kevin had already walked away. “We should’ve left half an hour ago.”

She bit back a surge of words. Pointing out that he’d just arrived or that she’d been ready for almost an hour wouldn’t make a difference. He was late a lot, and she was lucky if she saw him for more than a few minutes before they left for Heathers, the BDSM club just outside LA where they played every weekend. The evenings they went to the club were the only nights she knew he’d be home, actually. Otherwise he was often working till midnight and dragging into the house long after she’d gone to bed. Her position as head pastry chef at LesMiz meant she was at work by dawn every day. She tried to understand—Kevin’s work was as important as hers, and he was working a major deal that had taken months of preparation. Being needy wouldn’t make any more difference than pointing out the obvious.

And fighting before a scene was not a good way to start off the night. Not that they’d be scening if he didn’t get his attention on her at some point. Even beyond her personal pleasure, playing with a distracted Dom wasn’t safe, no matter how much she longed for some small part of him, however she could get it.

Heathers on a Friday night was chaos, and tonight proved no exception. Sage entered the locker room as she usually did, went through the motions of leaving her shoes and shirt and purse behind, but she couldn’t shake the uneasy feeling buried in her hollow stomach. She needed to talk to Kevin, make him see that tonight, no matter how much he wanted to, it was more important to get things settled between them than to play. But when she returned to the front and scanned the area, he was nowhere to be seen. He’d gone inside without waiting for her.

This was a clusterfuck all around, wasn’t it?

Minutes later she found him in a dim seating area surrounded by couples. Friends. His, at least. Since she hadn’t been a member of Heathers until Kevin had introduced her to BDSM, she hadn’t had the time to get to know the others much. Doms and Dommes didn’t interfere with someone else’s sub, and that included talking. Most subs were focused on their masters. The situation didn’t leave a lot of opportunity for chitchat. Tonight, as usual, some subs sat at the feet of their masters or mistresses, while others were cuddled in laps or stationed behind chairs, waiting to serve. The masters were all chatting, the subs happy, and Sage felt like an alien landing on the earth for the first time and trying to figure out how the hell to get her equilibrium.

“Kevin, I—”

He snapped her a look, and Sage’s racing heart skipped a beat. She hated this, hated it. Why couldn’t he give her anything to work with?

“Sir”—emphasis on the title—“I need to speak with you.”

“Is there a problem?”

The impatience of the words, in his expression hit her harder than a flogger. Everything inside her froze, then kickstarted back up with a jerk that hurt so much she realized she was rubbing her chest. She glanced down at her shaking hand, felt the rush of pain. She looked up, her gaze sweeping the circle of people enclosing her like an animal in a pen. They’d heard him; she knew they had. Everyone was watching, wondering why her Dom was upset, wondering what she wasn’t doing to make him happy. The weight of their stares swamped her as she sank to her knees.

And gave up. Talking wasn’t going to help. Nothing would help. She braced herself against the realization, expecting a total breakdown after the emotional chaos of the night, but all she felt was…nothing. Numb. In the back of her mind, a warning sounded, but even that couldn’t get through the heavy cloak slowly settling over her mind and body.

It’s just one night. Get through the night, go home, work it out then, away from all these people.

“Sage, I asked you a question.”

What was it? She managed to dredge up Kevin’s words and a wooden response. “No, Sir, there’s no problem.”

“Good.” His words were clipped. She should care about that, right?

Time passed, though she wasn’t sure how much. Her legs went as numb as the rest of her, and only when Kevin stood did she manage to climb her way out of it. Where were they going?

She glanced up just as Kevin shouldered his toy bag. No.

“Kevin,” she whispered, trying for his attention without drawing others into it.

He glanced over his shoulder. “Our turn.” His nod indicated the St. Andrew’s cross set back on a small stage nearby. He must’ve signed them up while she was in the locker room at the beginning of the night. If she’d known, she’d have pushed her luck earlier, but she hadn’t.

“Kevin, I don’t…”

He wasn’t there anymore. His broad back cut through the crowd as he strode across the room, obviously intent on his destination instead of his sub.

No. This isn’t good for either of us. I need to tell him.

It’s just one scene. How many have you done? Just suck it up, get it over with so you can go home.

Warnings screamed in her head, every step across the crowded room punctuated by a no no no that wouldn’t stop, but she couldn’t bring herself to say anything once she reached the scening area. Once she caught a glimpse of his face. For the first time tonight, the steel was gone from his jaw. His eyes were lit with anticipation, and his lips had relaxed their tight press. He still hadn’t kissed her with those lips, she realized. But she was supposed to scene with him.

Playing doesn’t require kissing, Sage. Just do it.

She moved toward him. “Sir?”

At her approach, he stopped unpacking his bag and faced her. And smiled. Her breath caught on the longing that exploded in her chest. She wanted that smile, that look. She could do this to make him happy, and then they could talk.

She sank to her knees, returning his smile.

Kevin had never been big on a bunch of toys, and neither was she. She wasn’t a pain slut, either. She needed extensive warmup to take anything harsher than a flogger, and as she watched him line up his tools, she knew this would be a long session. He even set out the cane. Not something he’d used on her before, but they’d discussed it. Still, seeing it there knotted her already tight stomach.

He didn’t always use everything he had handy, though. She forced herself to wait, to trust. She could do this.

“Strip,” he finally told her. Sage took her time, wanting to do something she knew would please him. Her show brought another smile to his lips, and the knots building inside her loosened. By the time he had her buckled facing the St. Andrew’s cross, she was ready to submit.

Kevin went through the same stages as usual, warming her muscles, preparing her for a whipping, but the pleasure that usually accompanied the acts was somehow absent. Even when he started in with the flogger, her favorite, the soft, gradually increasing intensity of the strikes didn’t arouse her. Instead the numbness from before slowly morphed into tension, the weight of her failure worse than the first strikes of the switch he used after the flogger. Her butt and thighs screamed at each impact, and it was only then she realized her face was wet.

Tears. She might cry from release, but they weren’t even close to the end, nor was she crying out for more. She turned her head to the side, desperate for Kevin to read her, what she was feeling.

He’ll see me now. He’ll stop. She couldn’t think beyond that, the knowledge that her Dom would take care of her. Except Kevin didn’t seem to notice, and he didn’t slow. Maybe he was too far lost in the rhythm of the switch, in his own Dom space, or maybe they’d just followed the same pattern so much he no longer noticed her response—or lack thereof—on a conscious level. She certainly wasn’t aroused, but he didn’t check.

The switch whistled through the air. Sage couldn’t help it; she tensed, and an explosion of pain shrieked through her butt. The cuffs bit into her wrists as she pulled against them.

Breathe, just breathe.

Desperation hit her when her lungs refused to inflate. She couldn’t breathe, couldn’t speak. She needed her safe word, needed Kevin to slow down and hear her, see her. She needed—

Thwack.

What air she had left in her lungs escaped in an anguished cry.

Thwack.

A shallow suck of air, then, “Kevin!”

He didn’t hear her above the sound of the switch hitting her thighs, couldn’t hear her strangling on the scream locked inside her throat. She hadn’t realized her eyes were closed, but she needed to see him, needed— Her gaze caught the movement of people at the side of the stage, watching, always watching. Didn’t they hear her, at least? But no, none of them were helping. None of them were supporting. No one saw her, deep down inside, or even bothered to try, and that included her Dom.

Have to stop. Have to—

Thwack.

Agony seared her body, her mind. She turned as much as her restraints would allow, her safe word on her lips.

The switch struck again, but instead of landing square across her upper back, the tip extended around to snap against the tender side of her breast. A high scream echoed in her ears.

Her scream.

“Damn it, Sage.”

Kevin’s curse was lost beneath the roar of denial, of pain that lashed her harder than Kevin’s switch could manage, and then all she could hear was her own voice. “Red! Red red redredredred!”

He was behind her in an instant, or maybe it was a year. She no longer cared. She jerked at her wrists until the bones threatened to pop, but still she couldn’t free herself, couldn’t get the pain to stop, couldn’t—

“Be still!”

Kevin’s command sliced through her panic. The heat of his body reached her back, and she cringed away, the wood of the cross abrading her skin. “Red, Sir, please!”

The words were nothing more than a whisper, but he was close enough; he could hear her now. He would hear her. He would stop.

Familiar hands traced her shoulders, her arms, her hands. He gripped the cuffs. He would let her go.

Her legs gave way. She slumped against the St. Andrew’s cross, nearly pulling her shoulders out of their sockets, but she didn’t care. He’d stopped. He would protect her. She waited for his reassurance, his comfort, but instead a low muttering filtered through in disjointed snatches.

“What the fuck— Sage. Can’t even… Shit.”

What she needed wasn’t coming.

“Stop,” she managed to squeeze out. “Just stop.” Not the scene this time. Everything.

Her scream had bled any power from her voice. A hoarse whisper was all she managed.

No acknowledgment. The slap of her cuff being released registered, then the exquisite feel of air on her bruised wrist. When Kevin gripped her there, she snatched her hand away. “Don’t! Don’t touch me.” She couldn’t stand it.

He let go to walk around the cross, facing her. “What were you thinking?” he barked.

She rolled her head against the wood beam enough to look at him. On the way, her gaze caught on face after face after face. All staring. All whispering.

All judging.

“I can’t do this right now; I just can’t,” she whispered. Closed her eyes. Cradled her aching wrist to her aching body. “I can’t.”

“Then when can you, Sage?” Kevin didn’t bother keeping his voice down. “This is the only time we have together. When else—” He clamped his lips shut.

She winced, raised her eyes to his, silently begging him to see her, listen to her—hell, just hold her. He saw her, all right, but what was in his eyes wasn’t understanding.

Words flitted through her brain, but she couldn’t seem to catch them, make sense of them. All she could focus on was, “I just can’t.” I can’t do this anymore.

Kevin stared a moment longer. Sage waited, every inch of her flaming skin, her entire being crying out for him. But he didn’t come to her; he paced away. Like she was the problem, like she was poison he couldn’t wait to get away from.

Is he right?

He was five feet away when he finally spun back to her. One look in his eyes and she knew. This was it. There wasn’t even time to brace herself before he spoke.

“I can’t do this either.” The cuff he still held hit the floor with a dull thud. Kevin’s face went hard as granite as he returned to her side, but instead of releasing the rest of her cuffs, he reached for her neck. Her collar. She’d worn it with pride since the night he’d presented it to her. Now that pride shattered as he unhooked the clasp behind her neck and removed the precious strip of leather. She was naked, strapped spread-eagle to a wooden cross, but she’d never felt as nude as she did with her neck bare of his collar.

He didn’t even say good-bye, just turned and walked into the crowd, her collar gripped in his fist. He left her there, to the murmurs and snide remarks that weren’t kept to a whisper. Sage turned away from them all, hiding her nakedness, her tears, her pain. Hiding the death throes as something inside her died.

Heavy footsteps approached.

“Master Kevin asked me to release you, Sage.”

Warren. The dungeon monitor had smiled at her earlier this evening. Now his voice was as empty as her soul.

Her shoulder screamed when he opened the second wrist cuff. While he knelt at her feet to undo the final restraints, she allowed the cross hold her weight. Only when he was finished and had stepped back did she straighten.

“Thank you,” she managed.

His nod wasn’t cold, but neither was there encouragement in his expression. “Would you like a blanket, some water?”

She closed her eyes against another wave of humiliation. “My clothes?”

Leaving her at the cross, he moved to the edge of the scening area and retrieved her bra and miniskirt. Sage struggled into them with trembling hands. The cloth against the welts left behind by the switch brought a curse to her lips, but she held it back. She needed to get out of here, get away. Now.

Blindly she crossed the stage, desperate to escape, her last bit of control barely holding her together. Warren let her go. At the edge of the stage, the crowd parted like the Red Sea, allowing her through while flooding her with stares that burned hotter than brands. She kept her eyes on the floor and forced herself forward, step by agonizing step. Her lungs refused to work until she’d reached the relative emptiness of the doors leading to the front of the club and the locker rooms.

“Sub.”

The word wasn’t angry. Respect laced the voice, reverence for the title so many people thought meant doormat. She stumbled to a stop, but making herself turn was more than she had the strength for. “Yes, Sir?”

It had to be a Dom or DM, though who, she wasn’t sure. When a tall figure circled her, she glanced up into the face of Master V. Shame dropped her gaze back to the floor.

“Are you all right, sweetheart?”

The tears pushing at her defenses burst forward. Sage brought a hand up to cover her eyes, hide herself from the man studying her. “Yes, Sir.”

It was all she could get out. Nothing else was left.

He had to know she was lying, but he didn’t call her on it. Instead his “Let’s get you home, okay?” quickened her tears. His hand on her arm was impersonal, yet still warmer than anything she’d felt tonight. It eased something inside her she couldn’t describe, didn’t want to describe or examine or even face. She needed to get out of here before she lost her mind.

And go where?

The thought brought her up short. She couldn’t go home; Kevin might be there. But everything she owned was at his house. She’d sold the home she and her mother lived in after her mother’s funeral.

She latched on to Master V. like the lifeline he was. “I need to get out of here, please.” Help me.

And somehow he made it happen. Sage left Heathers for the last time fifteen minutes later, the only word of good-bye that of a Dom she barely knew, despite how kind he’d been to her tonight. As the door of the cab closed behind her, she looked through the window, both hoping for and fearing a glimpse of the man she loved, the man she’d surrendered everything to, but all she saw was the look of pity on Master V.’s pale face, and then darkness as the night closed in around her.

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Fun Fact!

The dedication page for ONLY FOR THE NIGHT reads, "For the girl who is. Love who you are, not who you think you should be." In Sage I saw what I see in so many women, including my own daughter: the weight of expectations. Being a "good" anything—worker, partner, daughter, or even, in Sage's case, a "good sub." The truth is, that designation of "good" has to come from inside us, not outside. Other people don't determine who we should be. Which is why "Bulletproof Picasso" by Train became the theme song for this book.

If Only 3: Only for the Moment

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He can tie up her objections, but what about her heart?

Kennedy O’Connell’s life is perfect—a great job, plenty of friends, a brother who loves her. The chaos that ruled her childhood is gone, and she couldn’t be happier. Unfortunately, her mischievous streak tends to get her in trouble, and when she walks into her favorite spa to find a sexy Australian rock star taking her place, she can’t resist a little fun.

Isaac Anschau has spent five years chasing his dream. His rock royalty status can’t be denied, but his demons are catching up with him—he’s burned out, his creativity decimated. Until a redheaded vixen decides she wants to play, and he discovers a way to leave his nightmares behind. There’s just one problem: Kennedy is dead-set against submitting, despite the way she melts when his Dom side comes out.

They’ve got nothing to lose by walking away, and everything to gain if they give in to the raging hunger between them. Baring their bodies would take only a moment. Baring their souls could take a lifetime.

Available Here:

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Chapter One

Kennedy groaned as her tug on the door sent pain shooting through her shoulders and down her spine. She needed to get on the massage table before her overstressed muscles totally seized. Note to self: full urns are heavier than they appear. But heavy or not, the flowers had given just the right touch of fairy tale to the “wedding of the year” that she’d organized. The marriage of the costars in last year’s best film of the year had gone off without a hitch.

Too bad said hitch had ended up in her neck and shoulders. Thank God her weekly Sunday massage was scheduled in another five minutes. Assuming she could get the heavy-ass door to the Sovereign Resort Salon & Spa open. She pulled a little harder.

“Come on, weakling. We’re waiting.”

Kennedy turned to her department VP, Cooper, and stuck her tongue out. The man grinned unrepentantly, white teeth gleaming against dark skin.

“If I’m so weak, why don’t you use those enormous muscles of yours to get us inside, huh?”

Cooper shook his head, his look of indulgence getting her back up. She chose to ignore it when one massive paw reached out and tugged the door open effortlessly.

“What, you needed the whole hand? Wouldn’t two fingers have sufficed?” she threw over her shoulder as she waltzed inside. She’d never worked with anyone more knowledgeable than Cooper, which was why, when she’d been promoted to president of guest services at their exclusive Las Vegas resort last month, she’d recommended he be promoted into her old position of vice president—despite the fact that he cracked one too many jokes about how tiny she was. Given his size, everyone was tiny, a fact she took great satisfaction in reminding him of.

“Thanks, Gigantor.”

Cooper’s chuckle followed her as she walked to the wide, semicircular reception desk. “You’re welcome, Half Pint.”

Teri was already shaking her head at their antics. “Just another typical Sunday, huh?”

“Of course.”

Their simultaneous responses widened the receptionist’s grin. “Let’s get y’all separated before someone becomes testy, shall we?”

“Too late.” Cooper’s words shook with suppressed laughter that ended on an oomph when Kennedy’s elbow jabbed into his rock-hard belly.

Kennedy winced at the twang pinching her shoulders.

“Looks like you’ve done some damage,” Teri said, eyeing Kennedy’s posture.

A pout curved Kennedy’s lips. “And I didn’t even get to have fun doing it.”

A snort escaped her VP, echoed by a man she belatedly noticed leaning against the wall across from the door of the waiting room. Tall, dark-haired, and nearly as muscular as Cooper—nice. He was obviously waiting on someone, which meant he was either a husband or security, but anyone with security would’ve been important enough to call her in. Since no one had, she was betting on the former. She met his amused gaze and gave him a shrug before turning back to Teri.

“My usual room?”

Her friend focused on her computer screen, amusement still tugging at her lips. “I believe Melody put you there, yes. Just let me—”

Kennedy waved the help away. “No worries. I’ll find her.” She’d been here every Sunday morning for the past year, since the first week she’d worked at Sovereign Resort. One of the best perks of the job. She’d also booked hundreds of guest services at the spa and, in the case of high-profile clients, escorted dozens here personally. Intimate familiarity was an understatement.

The long hall leading from reception to the spa was swirled stone, laid to resemble rocks weathered by a swiftly flowing stream. She trailed a hand along the surface as she walked to the women’s dressing room, absorbing the peace and quiet. Inside, she exchanged her clothed for a fluffy white robe, then returned to the hall and made her way toward the massage rooms. Maybe before she left, she’d soak in the pool that took up the back half of the spa, overlooking the eastern Vegas skyline. The residue of the tension she’d gathered since her promotion, good or not, might take longer than a thirty-minute massage to erase.

The waiting area near the massage rooms stood empty. Kennedy skirted its edge, admiring the mini waterfall that was its focal point, and headed for the back room, the one Melody always put her in. It wasn’t the biggest, but it was her favorite. Thick shoji screens concealing built-in soundproof panels filtered the light and noise from outside, encapsulating her in the decadence of Turkish linens and the scent of lemongrass. She often started her time in the whirlpool tub inside the room. Just laying eyes on the door relaxed her muscles and eased her breathing. With relief she slid one screen aside and stepped into what she liked to think of as her own personal retreat.

And jerked to a stop. What the hell?

Her room—her room—wasn’t empty. She saw his feet first. It had to be a him, because the feet were long and wide and rugged. They hung below the cover of the white sheet, resting at the very end of the massage table. One twitched as if in sleep, and the sheet inched up, the white cloth a stark contrast to the deep tan of his skin. Muscular calves were outlined clearly under their shroud, as were heavy thighs, the sheet pulled taut across his—

Damn. Kennedy fanned the sudden flush of heat in her cheeks.

Narrow hips broadened to wide shoulders. His back was bare, the deep furrow of his spine a shadow in the candlelit room. She knew she was staring, but her feet wouldn’t move. They held her there, glued to the floor, and she could do nothing but gawk at the beautiful expanse of sun-kissed skin and the intricate tattoo of a sea turtle on the shoulder closest to her, fins extended as if swimming toward the shaggy dark-blond hair along the man’s nape. Deep blues and greens seemed to glow in the flickering light, the turtle’s dark eyes staring as if wondering who this creature was that had dared to interrupt his companion’s rest.

The turtle probably wasn’t alone.

She turned toward escape, her gaze lingering on the blond highlights in the man’s hair, the sharp edge of his jaw, the curve of a high cheekbone. Thank God his eyes were clos—

A loud click tore through the quiet—the door, no longer blocked by her shoulder, sliding shut beside her. Kennedy’s throat closed over a curse. On the table the man stirred, his muscles stretching like a lion waking from a nap. “I almost fell asleep there for a minute, love.”

Good. God. Putty in his hands, that’s what she was. He could be ninety with one foot in the grave and no teeth, and that Australian accent brushing his words would melt her just the same. Combined with that beautiful body? She couldn’t see the lips that formed the words, but her ovaries didn’t seem to care. Kennedy’s insides swelled with heat, preparing to burst at the next sexily accented sound.

“I think that ‘almost’ is a bit of an exaggeration, isn’t it?”

No no no! Shit!

Kennedy squeezed her eyelids shut. She hadn’t intended to talk, hadn’t intended to stay, even. The risk of a guest witnessing her faux pas was bad enough, but make that a sexy, sensually accented guest? No.

But she’d opened her big mouth now, hadn’t she?

That mouth is always getting you into trouble, Sis.

Vincent had warned her time and again. Too bad her tongue didn’t listen. It would when she told it not to share this story with him, though. She’d wear a ball gag if she had to, but no way would she give her older brother ammunition for their next sibling squabble.

A chuckle from the table startled her out of her panic. “Too right.” He said it like rye, as if the T was too much trouble to pronounce. “I did drift off a bit. Jet lag’s a bitch.”

Her feet propelled her forward without permission, a sympathetic murmur sounding in her throat. She searched the room, desperate for some way to excuse herself without being seen, some way to disappear without Mr. Aussie realizing his masseuse was actually some strange woman who’d barged her way into the wrong room. Thank God he hadn’t turned his head; the awkward angle over his shoulder would’ve given him the perfect view of her standing at the door, sweaty fingers clutching the fluffy robe she wore—with nothing underneath it.

Nothing underneath it.

A completely absurd need to howl with laughter choked into her throat. Of course she was naked. It wasn’t like he was wearing anything under that sheet either.

Oh God oh God oh God.

The man on the table stirred.

I am so dead. What the hell do I do now?

She reached up to rub her hands over her face, the shock of blazing-hot cheeks slapping her out of her adolescent tizzy. “We’ll get started in one moment,” she murmured. “Let me just check something real quick.”

Just get out of here, Kennedy.

“Check anything you want, love,” the man said drowsily, “as long as I’m on the list.”

There was no missing the flirt in Mr. Aussie’s words, no matter how slurred they were. The sound sparked something inside Kennedy too, something she really needed to ignore: mischief. It had been the bane of her existence and a constant source of amusement for Vince throughout their childhood, and now it stirred in her belly, bringing trouble with it, she knew.

Not this time. She could be a good girl. Really.

She shuffled back toward the door.

“Let me make you more comfortable first.”

What? No!

It’s just a little tease. It won’t hurt anything. He’ll never know who you are.

I’ll know, she argued, but her hand was already reaching for the warmer, lifting the lid, pulling out a hot washcloth. She waved the steaming cloth in the air for a few moments, allowing it to cool to a comfortable temperature, then walked it over to the table. “Here we go. Roll over for me, please? Eyes closed.”

The man obeyed, sighing deeply when the warm cloth settled over his closed eyes. Thank goodness, because Kennedy was sighing as well. Just looking at his gorgeous face made her sigh.

“Nice,” he said.

“Mm.” Kennedy retreated to the tabletop. An enclosed pot waited, the little red light on the front indicating that the wax inside was warm and ready for use. She lifted the lid to stare at the melted wax, her imp firmly in control now. “We’re just about ready. Shall we start with your waxing? That’ll get you nice and awake for your massage.”

“Waxin’?”

The faint note of apprehension couldn’t mar his lovely accent, but it did push a bubble of laughter up the back of Kennedy’s throat. She closed the warmer and shuffled through the papers on a clipboard sitting nearby. “Right. You asked for the Brazilian, correct? Adventurous man.” Every ounce of appreciation she could scrounge up went into the last two words.

A choked sound came from the table. “A what?”

“A Brazilian. Yes?”

“No!”

“Oh.” She kept her back to the table, barely able to control her laughter. “I must have something wrong here.” Grasping the clipboard, she turned toward the door, careful to keep her head down and turned slightly away from the table, her long bangs hiding her face from the man she was teasing. “Let me clarify my orders.”

The sound of shifting came from the table. “Definitely think you should check that.” She caught a shudder from the corner of her eye. “Not just no, but fuck no,” he muttered.

A tiny laugh escaped despite her best efforts. “Well, we wouldn’t want a fuck no, now would we? I’ll be right back.”

She managed to slip through the door. As it clicked shut, she came face-to-face with Melody.

“What were you doing in there?” her friend whispered, a spark of amusement in her brown eyes saying she already had some clue.

Kennedy shoved the clipboard at her friend and shook her head. “Heard that, did ya?”

Melody muffled her laughter behind a hand. “Every word. What were you thinking?”

No way in hell was she telling anyone what she’d been thinking—that Mr. Aussie was sexy enough to distract her until escape had been impossible. She went on the offensive instead. “I was thinking he took my room.”

“He’s also taking your masseuse,” Melody said. “He’s that important. Now get over to the blue room before someone realizes what you did. Kai will be there in a minute.”

Kennedy grumbled. If he was that important, why hadn’t she been told about him? Whoever the guy was, he was racking up marks that were definitely not in his favor, and racking them up quick. Kai was a great masseuse, but Kennedy wanted Mel, damn it. Routine was a must, especially when you needed to relax.

Her bottom lip pouted out.

Her friend swatted her lightly with the clipboard on her way to Mr. Aussie’s door. “Go and I won’t snitch on you.”

“Gee, thanks.” She slunk away, but not before Melody’s cheerful voice reached her ears.

“So, Mr. Anschau, we’re not having a waxing today, correct?”

Mr. Anschau's answer came through loud and clear. "No. We're staying the hell away from my balls, thanks."