Read An Excerpt

by Maya Banks

Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance, Erotic Romance

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“I’d like to hear what it was you planned as well, Joss,” Dash prompted gently. “What was tonight all about?”

Joss turned away, turning her fingers into tight fists. “I know you don’t think I have a clue what I was getting into, Dash, but I’m not stupid. I didn’t just up and decide to go to The House. It’s something I’ve thought about and researched for months. I talked with Damon Roche a lot. He wanted to make sure I knew what I was getting into and that I wasn’t making a hasty, emotional decision.”

Well, thank God for that. Damon was a solid guy. He may run an establishment that catered to every conceivable kink or fetish, but he took it very seriously and he vetted his members very carefully.

“But it’s like I told you today, Dash. Carson is gone. He’s not coming back. And I have to pick up and move on. I can’t mourn him the rest of my life. I need . . . I want . . .”

She faltered and Dash simply waited for her to collect her thoughts because this was huge. He was learning a side to Joss he never suspected existed. How could he have?

“I have to know if what I think I want and need is true. I have this need inside me, Dash. It’s an ache, a hole in my soul that’s even larger now that Carson is gone. I loved him too much to ever ask or demand that he give me something he wasn’t capable of. And it sounds like I was unhappy. God, I wasn’t! I loved him, Dash. I loved him with all my heart and I don’t regret a single thing about our marriage.”

“I know, honey. I know,” Dash murmured.

“But that need has always been inside me and I can’t even explain it to myself, so how can I make you understand that this isn’t a game? It isn’t me being irrational and looking to fill a void left by Carson’s death. It’s always been there. Always.”

“Try me,” Dash said simply. “Tell me what it is you want. What you need. I’ll listen, Joss. And I won’t judge you. I’ll just listen and we can talk about it.”

Relief shone in her eyes. Had she expected condemnation? Had she expected him to accuse her of being disloyal to Carson or his memory?

“I want to be . . . owned.” A shiver stole over her body, one he could feel even with the short space that separated them now. “I want what Tate and Chessy have. I want a man to possess me, to own me. I want to submit to him and I want him to take care of me. Protect me. God, it makes me sound like some helpless, dependent twit. But that’s not it. Carson taught me to stand on my own two feet. To be independent. It’s not that I have to have this in order to survive. It’s what I want. My choice.”

Dash put his finger over her lips to silence her. “Shhh, honey. You don’t have to defend your choices to me. I’m here to listen. Don’t defend. Just tell me what’s going on in that pretty head of yours.”

His heart was about to beat out of his chest. Had fate been kind to him after all? Had a gift he’d never dreamed of receiving suddenly dropped into his lap? Had Carson known—of course he’d known. He knew of Dash’s sexual preferences. That he was dominant and that he desired submissiveness in a woman. Now the promise that Carson had exacted from him made so much more sense. Carson had known that his wife wanted something he himself could never provide her, and he wanted to make sure that if something happened to him that Dash would step in and give her what Carson had never been able to. God, the sheer selflessness that such a gesture entailed was mind-boggling. He’d been granting his blessing. Jesus.

“This isn’t a decision I made lightly, Dash. I was okay with it. Until I saw you tonight. I was so mortified. And I felt guilty, because seeing you there made me feel as though I were betraying Carson. I didn’t want you to know. Chessy and Kylie knew. I told them. They’re worried about me, but they also know I took all the necessary precautions before just showing up at The House tonight. And I was ready. Or at least I thought I was. But then you were there.”

Her brow suddenly furrowed as if it had just occurred to her that Dash had been there. He could see the question in her eyes before she ever voiced it.

“What were you doing there, Dash?”

For a moment he brushed aside her question because there were so many other more important things to discuss. It was all he could do to hold himself back. To temper the urge to brand her. To move in, take her and give her everything she said she wanted—needed.

“I need to know something from you first, Joss. I need to know how serious you are about this. I need to know if this is truly what you want and what you need and that it’s not just an experiment or you looking to fill a void.”

“I can’t be any more serious,” she said in a resolved tone that convinced him she was indeed that.

He leaned forward, his breath mingling with hers, their lips so close he could feel the warmth from the inviting bow. Just a fraction of an inch and he would be kissing her.

“I was there because that’s who and what I am, Joss,” he said, taking in her response, watching every flicker that crossed her eyes. “It’s always been what I am. And let me tell you this right now. If this is what you want. If this is what you need. Then I’m going to be the only damn man you offer your submission to.”


Posted by arrangement with Berkley Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © Maya Banks, 2014.