Newspaper editor Evelyn Barkley has isolated herself in the tiny Colorado town of Clearwater for three years, trying to get over a bad relationship. But one night at a collaring ceremony near Denver, she discovers that Lieutenant Logan Hendricks, a Clearwater cop who has always pushed the wrong buttons for her, is a Dom without a sub.
Despite her misgivings, Evelyn agrees to submit to Logan, who finds her ‘dungeon’ sorely lacking. But he has a solution: gifts of ropes, clips, clamps and other assorted toys that will make her Valentine’s Day birthday very happy indeed. Evelyn quickly discovers that she and Logan are a perfect fit, especially when she’s tied up for their mutual pleasure. All they have to do is keep their toys a secret from nosy townspeople… and find a murderer in the process.
Publisher’s Note: This steamy romance contains elements of mystery, suspense and power exchange.
“If you don’t hurry up and park this car, I swear I’m going to christen the seat with pee,” Evelyn Barkley said.
“You should have gone when you stopped in Golden to pick up Korey.” Suzanne Jenkins maneuvered the car down I-25. “Or you could have gone in my house in Denver.”
The road trip had seemed like a good idea when it had been proposed a while ago. Their friend Sabrina was having a collaring ceremony, and none of them would miss the blessed event. So the three longtime pals decided to carpool so they could save on gas money.
But Evelyn had been away from this group for quite some time, because of things she’d rather forget. When she’d arrived at Korey’s house, Evelyn had given her friend the keys and popped open a beer, which she chugged at the house. When they’d arrived at Suzanne’s, she’d had another brew before she buried herself in the backseat and had one more.
So not only was she tipsy, but her bladder was about to burst. They’d already passed through Denver and Castle Rock—which was close to their destination. But Evelyn wasn’t sure she could make it the next ten miles. Sabrina’s house was down a windy, narrow lane, which turned into another windy, narrow lane, only this one unpaved. It would take them too long to get there, and Evelyn would never survive the bumps on the last part of the trip.
“Please find someplace for me to go, or I may die before we get there.”
“While you’ve been complaining, I’ve been driving,” Suzanne said. “We’re about seven minutes out. You’re an adult. You can wait that long.”
“If I flood the welcome mat, it’s your fault!” Evelyn pressed her thighs together and did what her grandmother always called the wee-wee dance. She bounced in her seat and prayed nothing trickled out from the movement.
From the front seat, Korey chuckled. “Sabrina will kill you if you ruin her collaring by peeing on her front doorstep. You’d better hold it until you get to the bathroom.”
“Easy for you to say,” Evelyn replied.
As she’d anticipated, the last part of the trip was horrible, but Evelyn managed to act like a grown-up. But the minute Suzanne parked the car, Evelyn pushed her way out the door and sprinted toward the house.
“See you inside,” she called over her shoulder. She took the front-deck steps as quickly as she could, grateful when she saw Sabrina standing there, holding the door open.
“Evelyn!” her friend proclaimed. “I’m so thrilled you’re here.” She held her arms out for a hug, but Evelyn sidestepped her.
“Bathroom emergency. I’ll be right back.” She rushed into the house, hurrying around people, ignoring calls of “hello” and “how have you been” as she headed toward the back part of the house, where she knew there was a bathroom right off the kitchen.
There was a big crowd to see Sabrina pledge herself to Mac Clusky—a man she’d been seeing for six months. Evelyn knew many of the people and hoped she could avoid one of them at all costs.
She passed through the kitchen and was surprised to find a crowd of people near the bathroom. She could see the door was open, and she prayed what she saw wasn’t a line.
“Excuse me,” she said several times, keeping her head down and using her shoulders to make her way through. When the actual porcelain god was in sight, she heaved a sigh of relief. But there was a problem, a big one, standing between her and salvation.
“Excuse me, sir,” she said as she tried to move around the large man. She hadn’t looked up, but from the size of his midsection, he worked out, and did it often.
“Gotta pee, baby?” He sounded like he was holding back laughter.
“Yes, and you’re standing in my way. Excuse me.”
She tried once again to push past. Things were nearing the critical level now. But the huge man in front of her didn’t seem to care.
“What’s it worth to you?”
“To me? What’s it worth to you not to have urine all over your shoes?” She jerked her head up angrily, her eyes widening. “Oh hell, what are you doing here?”
“Inky!” The man in question grabbed her by the shoulders. “Always a pleasure to see you, but I have to ask, what are you doing here?”
She could feel wetness coming out of her. If he didn’t move now, things would turn ugly. “Please, Logan, I’m begging you, move.”
When he didn’t do as she asked, Evelyn put her hands on his midsection and pushed, putting all her weight behind the action. Logan stumbled a little, and she pressed her advantage, pushing him yet again. He staggered into the bathroom, managing to right himself by grabbing the sink just as Evelyn closed the door.
She barely managed to get her skirt up and panties down before nature called.
“Been drinking, Inky?” The humor was gone from his voice.
“Bit out of your jurisdiction, Officer Hendricks?” she retorted. “And please stop calling me that. My name is Evelyn, Evie to my friends. You can call me Ms. Barkley.”
“You didn’t answer the question,” he said.
“I’m over twenty-one.” She glared up at him.
“From the looks of it, you’ve imbibed quite a lot. I hope you weren’t driving.” He was standing with his back to the door, his arms crossed over his chest. “And it’s Lieutenant Hendricks, if you please.”
“I wasn’t driving,” she said, ignoring the other part of his sentence.
She finished what she had to do, righted her clothes and glanced at the one man she’d never expected to see here. “Now that you’ve had a free show, you can leave,” she suggested.
“What are you doing here, Evelyn?”
She walked toward the sink, feeling unstable as she moved. Once at the cabinet she leaned against it to steady herself. “I’m standing in front of a sink after peeing. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what’s happening here.”
He narrowed his eyes at her, and Evelyn knew her jab had hit home.
“Let me be literal, since you obviously can’t follow my lead. What are you doing at the collaring, Ms. Barkley?”
Evelyn turned on the water, then put her hands under it. “Sabrina is a friend of mine. What are you doing here, Lieutenant Hendricks?”
“Mac is a friend of mine.”
She wasn’t sure what to say next, so she finished rinsing her hands before she turned off the water.
As she reached for the towel, he said, “Are you submissive, Inky?”
Evelyn kept her gaze focused on the cloth in her hands. “Is this an interrogation, Lieutenant Hendricks?”
“Just a question.”
Evelyn folded the towel and put it on the counter. She needed to find some food to try and soak up some of the alcohol. “May I leave now?”
He hadn’t moved an inch, and Evelyn took the chance to look him over. She’d always thought he was handsome, but tonight he seemed striking. He wore tight blue jeans and a blue button-down shirt. His muscles filled out every inch of his clothes. His dark, close-cropped hair set off his strong features, and his eyes were so blue she thought she could get lost in them.
Maybe she should answer his question and have some fun tonight. That idea flew out the window when he spoke again. “Not until you answer the question.”
“You wouldn’t let me in, and now you’re holding me hostage? Isn’t there some sort of law against that?” He looked so relaxed that it pissed her off.
“All you have to do is answer the question. Yes or no. Are you submissive?”
“Are you a Dom?” she countered.
“What do you think?” He took a step toward her. Then he quickly closed the gap, putting his hands on either side of her hips. They weren’t touching, but it wouldn’t take much for their bodies to press together. “Answer the question.”
“It’s none of your business,” she said, standing on her tiptoes so she could look him in the face. “Now, get out of my way.”
A pounding on the door caught her off guard. Evelyn lost her balance, and she would have fallen, but he grabbed her around the waist, holding her close to his chest. Outside, people were asking what was going on inside, yelling that no blowjobs could be given before the collaring.
“I’ll take your refusal to answer as a yes,” he said, his face close to hers. “I wish I’d known this a while ago.”
“Don’t get your hopes up, Logan, you’re not my type.”
Evelyn snorted. She tried to wriggle out of his grasp, but he held her tight. “Because I don’t want to submit to you, you think I’m a lesbian? That’s quite an ego you’ve got there. Do you need an extra pocket to carry it around?”
“There’s nothing wrong with being a lesbian,” he said, ignoring her jab. “I’m just curious why I’m not your type.”
“Because you’re arrogant and a pure asshole sometimes. How’s that for an answer, Lieutenant?”
He looked shocked. “Asshole?”
“Remember the break-in at the elementary school?”
He snorted out a laugh. “You’re still pissed about that, Inky? You got a story.”
Evelyn would rather not have this discussion right now. This was supposed to be a celebration, not a rehash of an old grudge she had against the Clearwater Police Department.
“Our paper runs once a week.” She shook her finger in his face, hoping it would piss him off and he would let her go. “You deliberately withheld information so I couldn’t get the story into the paper right after it happened. You know, Logan, the press can be your friend.”
“They can also screw things up sometimes, Inky.” He pushed her finger away. “I did that on purpose, to get the town blabbermouths going. When people gossip, I find out information that can be helpful.”
“You can also…” The pounding on the door increased, and Evelyn closed her mouth. How had this happened? All she’d wanted to do was go to the bathroom. Now, she was going to have to do the party version of a perp walk, going out into the crowd gathered in the hallway. Most of them thought she was in here sucking Logan’s cock. They were all making lewd comments. She could feel the heat in her face already.
“I don’t want to have this discussion with you right now.” She tried and once again failed to push away from him. “May I leave, please?”
“You may.” He finally took a step back before he put his hand on the doorknob. “But I’m not done with you, Inky.”
“Screw you, Lieutenant,” she said as he opened the door. She strode through the open portal, her head held high, as partygoers shouted questions about how was it, and why they weren’t given a chance to watch.
“We will, Inky, and you’re going to love it,” he yelled back.
Evelyn ignored Logan’s words and the laughter of the other guests. By the time she was in the kitchen, it seemed like a faint buzzing noise. In the living room, she scanned the crowd. She saw Suzanne talking to Sabrina.
Before she could start their way, Korey was behind her. “Who was that guy you were with in the bathroom?”
“Lieutenant Logan Hendricks,” Evelyn answered. “He’s on the force in Clearwater.”
“You’re kidding me? If I’d known you had cops like that up there, I’d have moved in next door to you. He’s gorgeous.”
“He’s a jerk,” Evelyn responded. “And I imagined the worst thing I’d have to experience tonight was running into Carl. Sabrina says he’s with her cousin now.”
“He’s here,” Korey said, sounding as if she were delivering the news that someone had died. “I’ve already seen him.”
Evelyn sighed heavily. “I shouldn’t have come.” It had been three years, and she still wasn’t over the hurt Carl had laid on her. He’d made her feel worthless, and she’d learned the lesson so well that she hadn’t been with a man since.
Being held against Logan’s chest was the closest she’d been to a male body since then. She would never let him know that it made her tingle, even if he did piss her off.
“Sabrina would have been so hurt if you hadn’t come,” Korey reminded Evelyn of the reason she was there. “Let’s go talk to her and see how things are going with her and the Mac man.”
Korey started across the room, and Evelyn fell into step behind her. Korey was right. Tonight was about Sabrina and her happiness. If Evelyn saw Carl, she would simply turn the other way.
It would be easy as pie.
Logan stepped in front of Mac, who had been one of his best friends since junior high school. “What’s the story on Inky?”
“Who?” Mac frowned, then sniffed the air. “Been drinking, Logan?”
“You call her Inky?” Mac asked.
“She’s the newspaper editor in Clearwater,” Logan said. “One time I went into the pressroom and her hands, face, and shirt were covered in ink. She was trying to help them fix something, and some disaster happened. It’s been her nickname ever since.”
Mac laughed. “All Sabrina told me was that she went to a small town up north. I’ll have to get on her for not telling me the two of you were in the same town. What do you want to know?”
“Is she submissive?”
“Oh yeah,” Mac said. “Although, three years ago, her time with Carl Flynn ended badly. I mean, really, really bad. She’s been celibate ever since.”
Logan couldn’t understand why a person would go without sex for three years. It had to have been something really momentous. Only one idea popped into his mind. “Did she try to kill him?”
Mac laughed. “Only a cop would think that. No, there were no murder attempts. The two of them were hot and heavy, and then all of a sudden, Carl finds himself a new sub. Says that Evie had to submit to the both of them.”
Mac picked up a beer. “Said he was going to marry the other woman, and Evie would be their maid and sex slave, but she wouldn’t be his submissive, she’d be a slave, with no rights whatsoever.”
Despite hearing about one Dom’s obvious lack of judgment, Logan couldn’t help but smile. Knowing the feisty Evelyn as he did, those words couldn’t have gone over well.
“Carl is a lawyer,” Mac continued. “I guess he thought he knew what he was doing. He’d drawn up papers that he wanted Evie to sign, saying she belonged to him and he could do whatever he wanted with her, including letting his friends use her if she displeased him. She refused, and if what Sabrina says is true, he tried to force her. I’m not sure how.”
“Son of a bitch,” Logan said, all trace of humor gone.
“Yeah, he’s a dick. I wasn’t with Sabrina yet, but I heard about it from other people. I guess the final straw for Evie was when he told her she was too fat for him to marry, that he couldn’t take her to office parties and such because the other attorneys would talk about her behind his back.”
“If he’s such a dick, what is he doing here?” Logan asked.
Mac’s face darkened. “He’s with Sabrina’s cousin right now. I would like to get her away from him, but so far, she’s sticking with him like glue. But I’m keeping an eye on them.”
Logan balled his hand into a fist. Right now he’d like to give this guy a knuckle sandwich. Evelyn wasn’t little, true, but that didn’t matter. She had an hourglass figure, with some extra time added on it, and most of the sand still at the top. She also had the most beautiful head of dark hair that Logan had ever seen. He’d thought about asking her out from time to time, but he’d never thought she’d say yes. She’d always been standoffish. Now he knew why.
Logan had always appreciated the fact that she stood up for herself. And now that he knew she was submissive, well he would have to take a ride down that road, so to speak.
“So she quit her job and moved. If I’d known you were in the same town, I would have told you a new sub was in Clearwater.” Mac had obviously been talking while Logan was thinking about Evelyn.
“As one of our younger cops says, I think I’m gonna tap that,” Logan said.
“Good luck,” Mac said with a laugh. “According to Sabrina, she’s sworn off men for life, and she proved it by installing a fucking machine in her basement. She told Sabrina she had a dick and didn’t need one with an asshole attached to it.”
Logan’s eyes widened, and then he laughed. “Well, I’m going to have to investigate that, and if it’s true, I can’t wait to see her use it.”
Whenever she went to weddings, Evelyn always felt happy for her friends. But there was a little part of her that was jealous, knowing she would never find someone who would put a ring on her finger, or in the case of what she was witnessing right now, a collar around her neck.
Sabrina glowed as she pledged herself to Mac and then kissed the collar. She held up her hair as he locked it into place.
When he kissed her, the green-eyed monster reared its ugly head in Evelyn’s mind. She tried not to let it show, keeping a smile in place as Korey and Suzanne clapped. Evelyn put down her drink—she’d lost count of how many she’d had—and joined in the applause. The happy couple started to greet their guests, but Evelyn held back. She would wait until later in the evening.
When she started to pick up her glass, she noticed that her hand shook. She didn’t have to drive that night, since she was staying at Suzanne’s house in Denver, but she needed to lay off and eat some more food.
She’d barely taken two steps when someone called her name. She looked up to find Carl—a thin woman hanging on his arm—heading in her direction.
“Oh crap,” she said under her breath. There was no way out of it, since their gazes had locked for a few moments. She’d managed to avoid him for the two hours she’d been there. She just wished she’d been able to avoid the bathroom scene with Logan.
She was shocked that Logan was here and according to Sabrina, a top-notch Dom.
“You could have told me,” she’d said to her friend, “you know, since the two of us live in the same town.”
“I thought you’d sworn off men,” Sabrina had answered.
Evelyn had waved it away. It wouldn’t have mattered if she knew there was a good Dom in town. And then she’d had a drink and another one and another one. For a person who had, maybe, two glasses of wine in a week, the amount of alcohol swimming around in her system was enormous.
Run, run, run, her inner self said as Carl came closer. Instead she took a deep breath, determined to steel herself against whatever he had to say. She’d faced criminals before—those whom she wrote about after their arrests or trials, and those who came into the office, determined to keep the story of their arrest out of the newspaper.
If she could stare down a man who’d robbed a grocery store, she could stare down a lawyer who once thought he owned her.
“Carl,” she said as he drew closer. It was hard not to add, you ass, at the end. But she didn’t want to ruin Sabrina’s collaring. She just hoped she could control herself, and the liquor in her body didn’t take over and make her say something she would regret.
“Evie,” he said. “You’re looking well. Lost a few pounds, have you?”
“Well, Carl, your powers of observation do you credit. Do you use those in the courtroom, or are you still on a losing streak?”
The glare he sent her made her smile. “Someone needs to teach you some manners. I’ve always said that.”
“Carl, I’d like to stay and discuss that idea with you, but you’re making my skin crawl,” she said. She started to move off, but he grabbed her arm.
“I’m talking to you.”
“Let go of me, Carl.”
“Address me properly.”
“Crappy Carl? Cranky Carl?” She leaned a little closer. “Clown Carl? All you need is a red nose and some face paint. Maybe you can get a job in a circus and get the hell away from Denver.”
The grip on her arm tightened, and she tried to pull away.
“I said let go of me.”
“Someone needs to beat some respect into you,” he said, his voice low and angry.
“Respect for you?” She huffed. “You could use every whip in Denver, and I’d always think you are lower than dirt.”
She tried to shake him off, but his grip was tight. “Let me go.”
When he didn’t comply, she said, “What’s the matter, Carl, you still hung up on me? I’ve forgotten you. Trust me. So let go of my arm, I’ll leave, and the two of us never have to see each other again.”
“You will call me Sir Carl.”
“Not even if, as the old saying goes, Hell freezes over.”
“You little—” For a minute, she thought he was going to hit her. And then she looked over her shoulder.
Logan Hendricks stood next to her, his anger evident.
“Let go of my sub,” he said in what she thought of as his cop voice, deep and full of authority.
“Your sub?” Carl glared at him. “I heard she was with no one.”
“You heard wrong.” Logan nodded to where Carl’s hand grasped her arm. “You’ve got two seconds to let her go before I get mad.”
For a moment, Evelyn thought Carl was going to argue. But then he let her go. “She and I have unresolved issues, including her lack of respect. Make her call me Sir.”
“You have to earn respect, Carl, and from what I hear, you didn’t. You come near my sub again, and you and I will have a problem.”
“I can sue you for threatening me,” Carl said.
“Not a threat, just an observation,” Logan responded.
The two men stared at each other. After a moment, Logan put his arm around Evelyn. “Come on, Inky, let’s go outside.”
She melted into his side, allowing him to lead her out the door and down the steps. The party was going strong, and quite a few people were milling around near the deck, smoking.
Evelyn waved her hand through the fumes, and Logan grabbed her other hand and led her away from the crowd.
“It’s cold out here,” she said.
“Of course it is,” he answered. “It’s November in Colorado.”
She stumbled over a rock, and he put his arm around her. When he did, Evelyn turned to him and put her hand on his neck. She pulled his face down and kissed him, using her tongue to lick his lips.
“Thank you,” she said when the kiss broke. “I appreciate it.”
“You’re drunk, Inky.” He stepped back, and this time it was him waving his hand around, right in front of her face. “I can smell it from here.”
“I am.” She kissed him again, happy when he didn’t pull away again. “Would you like me to give you a blowjob as a thank you?”
She put her hand on his crotch and applied a little pressure. She could feel his length under her touch. He was hard. Or so she thought. She pressed a little harder. Yup, he was definitely… tumescent. That’s a word a writer would use, she decided.
“There’s a bench over there.” She pointed toward a tree. “No one will see us.”
“Not tonight, Inky.” He grabbed her hand, and she laid her head on his chest.
“Sorry, Lieutenant, I guess I’m really not your type.” She lifted her face, in the hopes that he might kiss her. But he didn’t.
“Oh you are,” he responded. “But the first time my dick goes in your mouth, you’re going to be sober.”
“Afraid I’ll bite ya?” she said with a laugh. “Or am I being too forward for you? You are, after all, a Dom.”
She took a step away and made a curtsy. She tried to turn away from him, but he grabbed her around the waist and pulled her close. He pinched her ass with his free hand, then slapped it.
Evelyn gasped. “Lieutenant!” She wiggled her ass. “Do it again.”
He kept her close to him, and she liked that.
“Don’t ever tell me what to do, Evelyn.”
She wiggled one more time. “Please?” She’d forgotten how good it felt to be swatted, to feel the sting of a large male hand on her bottom. Maybe she could bare her ass and that would tempt him. She was, after all, wearing a dress. If she could just put a little room between their bodies.
But the minute she tried to move, Logan tightened his grip. “My subs are sober when we scene. Do I need to drive you somewhere?”
“No.” Evelyn shook her head. “I’m with Suzanne and Korey. Suzanne is the designated driver tonight. Plus, it’s not a scene. I’m just talking about a blowjob.”
She pulled free and turned so she could put both her hands on his shoulders.
She’d never forgiven him for laughing at her after the ink had flown all over the room, landing on her. But she was pretty sure part of her anger had come from the fact she was pissed at Carl.
Right now, she felt different, though. She’d been three years without sex. Feeling his hand on her ass and cupping his hard dick. She wanted to suck him. Now. “You sure you don’t want a blowjob?”
Instead of answering her question, he said, “What did you ever see in that guy?” which made her a little angry.
“I need to go back inside.” She dropped her hands from his body. He put his hands on her shoulders and pushed her backward. Before long she was sitting in the wooden glider near Sabrina’s gazebo.
“Answer my question.”
“He had a nice dick,” she said, as if it should be obvious. “What about you, Lieutenant. Do you have a nice dick?”
“I’ve never had any complaints.” He sat down next to her. “Is that the only thing that kept you with him?”
Evelyn searched her mind. “He was nice, in the beginning. But it didn’t last very long, and then he—” She closed her mouth.
“Nothing.” She clasped her hands in her lap. “I feel as if the world is spinning.”
“That’s because the chair is moving,” he said. “Have you missed having a man in your life, Inky?”
“I’ve managed to get by,” she responded.
“By using the fucking machine in your basement?”
Evelyn gasped. “Logan Hendricks, have you been peeking in my windows?” She groaned. “I may have to file a complaint with someone.”
“So it’s true.” He laughed. “I’d like to see that.”
“In your dreams,” she muttered.
“Dreams can come true, or so they say.” He massaged her shoulder. “I’ll find out when you give me that blowjob.”
Evelyn moved away from him. The cold night air had a very sobering effect on her.
“After tonight the offer is off the table, Logan. Take it or leave it, but it won’t be made again. Ever.”
He was silent for a few moments, and she thought that maybe he would take her up on her offer. If he did, it could open a big can of worms that could get messy, especially in a town the size of Clearwater. The twenty thousand residents would find out soon enough that the town’s newspaper editor and the police lieutenant were playing mattress hockey. When that happened, she would be accused of keeping things out of the paper for her boyfriend, or ignoring a situation if the cops screwed something up.
When he spoke again, she shivered, this time not from the cold.
“I’ll be at your house in a few days, Inky, when you’re nice and sober. You can show me that machine, and then you can suck my dick.”
“Never gonna happen,” she said. “You take it here or forget it.”
“You’ll do as I say, Inky,” he said. “In this part of our relationship, it will be me on top, which is exactly the way you want it, whether you admit it or not.”
Maybe she should start an argument. If she made him mad, he might decide she wasn’t worth the trouble. But then she decided not to. She could turn him down later. Tonight had been hard enough, what with peeing in front of him, and then having Carl try to lay claim to her.
“I need to go home,” she said. She knew tomorrow was going to be an ugly morning for her.
“Yes, you do,” he responded. “Let’s go find your friends.”
He stood, and then helped her to her feet. When they were both on their feet, he wrapped his arms around her and kissed her, deeply. He nibbled at her lips, and Evelyn sighed as he cupped the back of her neck and held her in place as his tongue plundered her mouth.
When he finally let her go, she gasped for air.
“I’m looking forward to feeling your mouth around my prick, Inky. Something tells me it’s going to fit perfectly.”