Read the jacket for The Rules here.

chapter zero

08.21 08:36PM
Westport Point, MA


Water sluiced over his body, sparkling in candlelit rivulets as he stepped from the tub onto the cool tile. She liked to watch him just being naked, tracking him as he pulled a thick white towel from the linen closet, her brown eyes flashing with raw desire. He caught her gaze and held it while he dried for her pleasure. Calves to torso, shoulders and arms, cords of muscle contracting with his movements. Neither of them blinked. He toweled his head, ash-blond hair dark with wet, and smoothed it back. It would fall onto his forehead as soon as it dried, but for now, Hermes alone filled his vision.

Bubbles sizzed where the water caressed her skin, gleaming in the light of a dozen neroli-scented votives. Dewy sweat beaded on either side of her nose, glinting enticingly. He yearned to lap at it. Kiss it off her beautiful face, press his cheek against her wet thighs and draw in her scent.

A silver Persian named Duchess posed imperiously on the vanity seat, shaggy coat soft as cotton, staring with haughty disinterest.

“You look delicious,” said Hermes, glossy tendrils of black hair spilling from her bun like swirls of elegant calligraphy. “I could watch you all night.”

She lifted a cloud of soap, lips parted with anticipation, and let it slide languidly off her fingers and plop onto the cone of a nipple.

“Watch?” Securing the towel on his hips, he grinned wolfishly, pale eyes like winter moons. “I was just thinking the same thing, but no. I have plans for you.”

“That sounds promising. Like what?”

Straightening his athletic frame, he stalked to the edge of the tub, lured by the delicate sounds of water lapping at her body as she moved. “Let’s start by getting you out of there.”

Grinning, she leaned her head against the back of the tub and peered up at him, eyes round and wide and aglow, bee-stung lips beckoning.

Hermes Bizjak was a masterpiece. Only a few years ago, that sultry face and voluptuous figure splashed through every men’s magazine, lingerie catalog and makeup counter across the country. At forty, her fame had diminished, but he found her refined beauty even more appealing than that of her early, wildfire celebrity.

Her innate sexuality had entranced him. The clever glint in her mocha eyes. Shit, the way she wrapped her lips around the straw in her iced coffee on their first date would have gods kissing her pretty toes, and he was just a man. Her feminine weaponry far surpassed his defenses, and both of them knew it.

An experienced submissive, she’d fallen right in step with his smooth, sensual flavor of Domination, which, along with a masterful range of skills, made him one of the most elite and expensive professionals anywhere in the world. Hermes readily agreed to three hundred twenty five thousand for a six month contract, and under no circumstances would he countenance a client not getting her money’s worth.

Perching on the edge of the tub, he leaned down and ran his fingertips along her cheek. Her contract would end soon, and he knew he should let it. Set her aloft like a paper lantern over a moonlit pond. He’d deal with that when it came.

“I’m not done yet.” She smirked, turning her espresso eyes up at him. Hermes knew his soft spots, and used them without reservation. And very effectively, dammit. She dropped her voice to a husky drone. “I’m feeling very dirty.”

“Then let’s play dirty.” He gave her a wicked grin. “Bathrooms are great for acoustics, let’s find out what sound the crop makes on your warm, wet ass. A nice crack, I bet, and it’ll sting like hell. I fucking love that idea.”

Hermes moaned and sank deeper into the water, out of his reach. Feminine weaponry or no, he had plenty of his own.

“Perhaps not,” he said, grinning wider. Rising to his full frame, he beckoned her out. “Bath time’s over, princess. Come.”

She was not ready to concede the battle. Pinning him with a fierce gaze, she raised herself up out of the water. Lather coursed off her milky skin, highlighting jaw-dropping curves, dripping from her elbows and fingertips, and most enticingly from the dark coils of hair between her legs. She squeezed a sea sponge against her belly, a hot smirk on her lips.

“Make me.”

“Oh, nicely done,” he chuckled, shaking his head in amusement. “And don’t mind if I do.”

She whooped in surprise as he stepped over the edge and planted one foot in the tub. Leaning into her, he slipped his arms behind her back and legs, and scooped her easily into a cradle. Duchess complained loudly, leaping clear of the sloshing water as he lifted her out. Hermes laughed and tossed the sponge aside. She wrapped her arms around his neck, and as they crossed the threshold out of the master bath into the bedroom, she nestled into him.

“All that sexy drying, and now you’re wet again,” she hummed, her eyes impish.

“Wetness has advantages.” He stuck his tongue in her ear. She gave a throaty laugh, rubbing the side of her face against his collarbone.

Dropping her legs to the floor, the tack of her damp body dragging the towel off his hips, he bent her over the bed face-first and pressed his weight on the top of her ass with his open palm. Bathwater drizzled down her salacious curves, a little pool gathering in the arch of her back where her slender waist flared into full, glorious hips. The curve of her inner thighs converged into round cheeks, from beneath which her plump vulva beckoned. The mental image of driving himself in shot him straight to eleven.

Gritting his teeth and willing self control, he swatted her bare ass. She jolted, yelping, and turned her head for air, teeth flashing in a brilliant smile as she laughed off the sting. That certainly wouldn’t do. He gave her another.

“What’s the first rule, Hermes?”

She snarled and tried to cover herself with her hand. He snatched her wrist and held it firm against the bed, the thick comforter clinging to her dripping skin.

“Manners,” he admonished, and smacked the spot again, harder still. A lurid red sun flared to life on the crest of her ass. “Answer me, please.”

“The Dominant makes the rules and the submissive follows them!”

“And if you don’t?”

“Then you’ll punish me,” she said, voice thick and lusty, blurring the edges of her Albanian accent.

“You are being particularly difficult tonight, Miss Bizjak,” he said, smirking. “I can re-teach old lessons, or you can behave yourself and we can move on. But if I had to guess, I’d say you want to be punished.”

Of course she did, even though she laughed and shielded her bottom as best she could with her free hand. The one he’d captured he shifted to his swelling erection, then grabbed the new defender and pinned it against the small of her back.

“Or is that what you wanted?” he rumbled, growing stiff in her hand.

Hermes made a noise of assent and tightened her grip, then gave him a suggestive tug. “I want both.”

“Both and then some,” he said, eyes roving over her once again, unquenchable. “You are a fucking goddess, Hermes. And I am going to worship you the best way I know how.”

She hummed, a wicked flame in her eyes. “And how are you going to worship me, exactly?”

He leaned against her bottom, and settling his weight firmly onto her damp skin, pressed the side of his mouth against her ear.

“I’m going to harness you, and fuck you inside out.”

Hermes groaned with pleasure.

He reached past her head for one of the bright red hemp ropes left over from earlier. Fingers finding only tousled sheets, he stretched further until his chest pressed against her back, the smooth skin of her shoulders slick against his pectorals.

“Did you knock the rope off the bed?”

“No, Sir,” she whispered, grinning.

Brought to full attention with her methodical stroking, the need to drive into her surged. He shoved himself against her, enjoying the sensation of power and greed in his loins, his cock stretched to capacity and desperate to rail her. Fingertips finding purchase, he walked a silky, spiraling twist of rope into his grasp.

“There we go,” he said into her ear, nipping it with his canines. “Hold still now. I’ll tell you when to move, and where I want you.”

“Yes, sir.” Her smile lit the room.

He righted himself with little effort, the hard muscle of his thighs against the backs of hers. He took her hand from his cock and gathered her wrists together behind her back, pressing them in place to indicate she should keep them there. Slipping his hands beneath her tummy, he pulled the scarlet rope across and tugged it down to her hips. Bringing it around her ass and adjusting so that it was centered, he twisted and fed the lengths down between her cheeks and thighs, then tugged gently at her wrists to stand her up.

“Place your hands together, in front of yourself.”

She complied, but only to a degree, holding them just below her bellybutton. “Like this?” she teased.

“No. Lower.” She slid her hands down an inch. “Lower… good. Keep them there.”

With practiced efficiency, and a commanding glare, he fed the lengths through her legs, careful to position them so that it wouldn’t chafe her tender labia, pulling them forward and lashing her wrists securely. Up the front of her luscious body, criss-crossing to form a wide diamond pattern, wrapping around her waist as he went. At her solar plexus he added a second red rope, anchoring her heavy breasts to supports that crossed over the tops of her shoulders. He finished with a collar around her neck, expertly fashioned so that it wouldn’t slip or impair her breathing.

When the entire harness was complete, he checked it throughly, slipping his fingers underneath in specific places, tugging and tweaking to ensure it wouldn’t pinch or bite. He turned her around when he was done, and took her beautiful face in his hands. She peered at him with mercury eyes and a naughty smile.

“You look so sexy in nothing but rope,” he said, offering a smile of his own, thrumming with anticipation. “Are you comfortable, sweetness?”

“Very,” she nodded, her expression brazen, wearing the lewdest of thoughts on her sleeve. “It’s gorgeous, I love it. Let’s fuck.”

He’d been building her up all afternoon, could feel the excitement in her tendons. Her skin alighted at his fingertips as he traced her neck to her collarbone. Full breasts squeezed together by her arms, rope sinking deep into their soft flesh. He followed their contours with the pads of his fingers, over the alluring swell of her areola, around the sensitive, bulging sides, and finally took them whole in his palms. He squeezed, fingers digging urgently into her plump tits, and Hermes drew a long breath between parted lips, eyelids fluttering.

“Please,” she grumbled. “You’ve been teasing me all day.”

Slipping his arms around to the small of her back, he drew her against him, her compressed cleavage meeting his chest first, a delicious contrast of hard and soft; his rigid muscle, her gentle erogeny, hot breath on pink lips. The hair on his forearms and the back of his neck rose, his full staff desperate to possess her.

“First, I am going to dig my teeth into you,” he murmured, lips brushing tenderly against hers as he spoke, “taste your body, inside and out. And I intend to take my time about it, so I want you comfortable. And when I’ve had my fill, I’ll spread you wide and ease my cock into your—”

His cell phone blared loudly. He’d shut it off when they’d arrived four hours ago. A fresh shot of adrenaline erupted into his veins as he recognized the ring tone. Last time he heard it, a .50 caliber sniper rifle was training cross-hairs on his head from half a mile away.

He shoved Hermes to the floor and threw himself on top of her.

“What the fuck—”

He covered her mouth with his hand. “Sh!” he warned. “Do not move.”

With a quick kiss on her forehead, he crawled across her towards the nightstand, keeping his head below the mattress. Shit. Could it be Bolman? Again, already? He pulled the drawer completely free and let it fall to the floor, snatching his phone out. Confidential line, caller classified. He thumbed to answer and stuck the phone to his ear.

An unnatural, computer-modified voice squawked through. “January, respond.”

“Acknowledged.” Heart pounding, he wracked his brain for the code word. “Rembrandt.”

Hermes rolled over onto her belly next to him. He shook his head at her, mouthing the word No, and pointed, indicating she was not to move. Holy shit, bound and naked, she looked like a kidnap victim. Her breasts and soft waist bulged from the compression of the ropes, brown eyes wide in alarm.

“The hell’s going on?” she whispered.

Despite his own spleen rising to his throat, he could not afford to panic her. He gave her a gentle, reprimanding frown, and put his finger to his lips firmly.

“Wild badger, etta-twenty,” said the voice. “Whiskey Bravo two-zero.” Unknown operatives arriving in twenty minutes; somebody was converging on his location. What the fuck did that mean, though? Why was this coming up now? He took a mental inventory of the house’s exits; front door, patio, viable windows, if necessary. He hoped like hell that Jay, the voice on the other end, his Bureau insider, wasn’t as surprised by this as he was.

“Acknowledged. Confirm blind man, please.” Have they spotted me?

“Negative,” said Jay’s mechanical voice. “Etta two-zero. Reestablish when clear.”

“Acknowledged.” He killed the call, and checked the duration: seventeen seconds, not good. Tracing was unlikely in that amount of time, but possible. He had to act fast. He was on his feet and leaping over the bed.

“Mind filling me in?” called Hermes from the floor behind him.

He rummaged through an antique Italian leather case with the rest of his implements; crops, floggers, belts; and yanked out a pair of medical grade safety scissors. Running his fingertips over the embossed emblem of Diane de Poitiers, he flipped the lid shut, and scrambled back to Hermes as she finished wriggling herself into a sitting position.

“I can’t explain,” he said, and began systematically snipping the ropes. The blades sheared the luxuriant threads effortlessly, felling them like spider’s silk. “You have to follow my directions. There are people on their way here, and we need to be gone before they arrive. Get yourself dressed—”

“People?” Her brow furrowed into a scowl. “What are you a drug dealer or something?”

With one last cut, the ropes at her wrist sprung away. He quickly unraveled them, freeing her hands, and helped her to her feet. Even in the moment her naked body beckoned him to indulge himself. For a millisecond, he considered throwing her on the bed and fucking her hard and fast, hands clutching her tender waist, hips ramming her rippling thighs, shaft driving into her glistening lips. It took no small effort to clear the vision and focus.

“No, Hermes, I’m not a drug dealer,” he said, tugging the shorn ends off her shoulders and from between her legs, and tossing them on the bed. “Listen, baby. I’m dead serious. You will follow my directions, exactly as I say and without pause. No questions. I’ll explain later. Do you understand?”

“Are we in danger?” Her look hardened, but a turbulent pulse raced through her gazelle neck. Her calm was surface.

Getting her to safety was the first order of business. Repressing an ache in his gut, he opted for the most time-effective response. He lied.

“No,” he said, shaking his head and smiling in assurance. “Just do as I say for now. Ok?”

She searched his eyes, then nodded in acquiescence. “Ok, I trust you. What do you want me to do?”

“Get dressed,” he repeated, and kissed her quickly. Then he was moving, adrenaline pulsing, mind flashing through the fifty things he needed to accomplish in the next eighteen minutes, filtering them down to only the necessities. “Skip underwear, socks, whatever. I want you ready to walk out the door in less than sixty seconds.”

Unpublished Work ©2017 John F. Pendleton

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