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Now that she's free, Clay is ready to finally make her his, and his alone. However, that hope starts to dwindle when L expresses her desire to end her membership at The Inn. She no longer wishes to be a pleasure slave or to have another Master in her life. What will that mean for a future together?
In the third book in the trilogy, L's odyssey into the world of BDSM continues. But after a betrayal from her last master, can L learn to trust again? Will she trust Clay enough to share both her heart and her secret? And will Clay risk it all to help clear her name even if it means losing the one woman he is destined to love? Can this turbulent couple learn to set aside the pain from the past and find Redemption?
Trey sat on the now broken and lopsided cot in his cell, listening to the tick of the clock down the hall. After two months holed up in a Mexican jail where he'd been beaten, deprived of food and water, and no real way to bathe, he was more than ready to go home, even if home meant an American prison.
He ran his hand through his greasy black hair and let his head fall back against the wall. Fuck, how long is it going to take them? He was scheduled to be picked up for transport by 3:00 pm. They had taken his watch when he arrived and although he couldn't see the clock, he knew it must be well past that time by now. He could hear Luis' big mouth shouting commands to the lucky ones who were going to get a meal today. Luis was never there until 4:00 pm or later.
He closed his eyes taking a deep breath, trying not to gag from the stench. He supposed he should be used to it by now. The thought of getting out of the filthy cesspool of dirty underhanded guards and unwashed foul smelling inmates gave him hope that clean air, food and water were again something he might enjoy 'back home.' �
Here in this God forsaken place, what the rats didn't steal, the guards did. As fast as the food supplies came in, over half went back out. It made for a nice little supplemental income for the guards.
Trey had overheard them one evening talking about how much they took in, how it was being split up. Trey told Luis that they'd never get away with that in the US. Luis laughed at him and told him mockingly that he was not in the US, and that as far as he was concerned, Trey was a much bigger thief than he was. Maybe if the justice system in the US were less accommodating, it would be less full. He then raised an eyebrow and said, "Besides Gringo, it is easier to control a starving man."
Oh what Trey wouldn't give for a hot shower and a real meal! He was being held without bail until his hearing, but at least Bill had gotten him a way back home while he waited for his day in court.
"Gringo� get up, your bus is here."
Thank God. Finally!
L had been very indecisive with Clay after their tender but powerful little bout of intimacy down by the pond. Clay knew how confused she must be and he didn't want to pressure her. He couldn't help but wonder if she was starting to regret what they had done.
"You've been a wonderful help to me today, Clay. I can't thank you enough for just being with me and being so sensitive to my mood. I need some time to process all of this though. What we shared today spoke volumes about the chemistry between us, but I can't jump into something I don't understand all over again," she said. She picked nervously at her white robe, her feet curled beneath her as she leaned into the corner of the couch. "From my understanding the contract I currently have regarding the society allows me ninety days before making the decision to opt out of my contract, or volunteer myself to a new owner and Master," L said, watching the expression in Clay's eyes change to confusion. "I need some serious time here Clay, please don't take it the wrong way. Eighteen months ago I was just a plain Jane librarian. Then Trey came into my life and nothing has really been the same since. He was so exciting and fun when we first met. He was the first man to show me what my body was really capable of. I'd never experienced anything like him. I never even really knew I was submissive until he showed me, and explained it all, I was hooked."
She looked so sad that Clay thought she might start crying. Was it the wine, or were things were just sinking in a little deeper, he wondered.
"I wanted to fall in love with him and live happily ever after." She paused staring down at her lap. "I thought that's what he wanted too, until he brought up the S.S.S. He said it would be a bond deeper than marriage. Honestly, I have to laugh at that now." Her voice was smug. "I've just been left high and dry by a man who I thought loved me. By a kind man who nurtured me and skillfully drove me insane at the same time. I'm just supposed to forget about him now though and � oh yeah, move on." She knew she sounded a bit sarcastic, but she couldn't help her anger over the way Trey could dismiss her so easily.
The emotions playing on her face were evident. She'd had three glasses of wine with dinner and a fourth in the living room. She had sorrow, sadness, self-pity, and anger all brewing at the same time behind those glazed hazel eyes.
* * * * *
Clay sat back in his recliner crossing an ankle over his knee. "You don't have to go on, L. I get it, and I respect you for it. I'm nearly twenty years your senior and the only time we've ever really spent together has been� well, pre-arranged by someone else. And although we certainly have some electrifying chemistry, we don't really know each other aside from it. I know you need some space and time to think about things. I do too for that matter." He paused to try to show his understanding. "On Monday though, it should be documented with The Inn that you are no longer in the care of your Master. There are some papers you'll need to fill out. I understand how hurt you are right now and I'll truly do my best to give you your distance. But that doesn't mean I'm going to let you just sit around the house feeling sorry for yourself and your situation."
Her eyes narrowed as she glared at him. "I don't intend to sit around your house all day, Clay. I do have a bit of an agenda as to what I want to do next and how I am going to proceed from here," she noticed he didn't appreciate her tone, but at the moment, she didn't care. "I don't need you to keep me busy in the kitchen or in the Bar with S. I would like it very much if you could take me into the city tomorrow to Trey's apartment. I want to pick up the spare set of keys to his car. I don't think he'll mind me using it until he gets back. I'm pretty sure that I am listed on his insurance, so that shouldn't be a problem. I imagine the owner of the apartment will want it vacant before the end of the month since�"
"They cannot vacate, or disturb his apartment until after the full investigation," he interrupted. "The authorities need to have access. They've probably already searched it. In fact, they've probably already changed the locks and you'll need permission to enter and claim your belongings."
It was L's turn to look a bit surprised. "I'll call Larry tomorrow. He'll let me in."
"You said you had an agenda, mind if I ask what your next move is?" he asked.
"I'm going to be spending a lot of time at the library for a while, other than that I can't really tell you." She watched him stiffen, bringing his hand to his chin and stroking his short half beard with his index finger.
He didn't like not knowing what she was going to be up to, but tonight was certainly not the night to press such issues. "There is never anything you can't talk to me about or tell me about L. I care about you deeply and it pains me to know you have something to hide. I may not be your Master anymore as of today, and that will take some serious getting used to for me by the way. But I want you to know, there are still rules in my house and I expect you to be respectful of them." He paused. "We'll talk about what they are later."
* * * * *
The look on his face when he finished talking was all too familiar to her. She felt like she was in trouble when he spoke like that, giving her that look. L got up from the couch and knelt next to him in his recliner. She put her hand on his shoulder and bowed her head slightly, looking at him with that special cock of the head pose as he called it. If he was going to push her buttons, she could push his too.
�"I don't want you to think I am hiding anything from you," she whispered. "I need to find some type of resolution with Trey. I need to have closure before I can just... move on." She tried to keep her voice soft, but those words ate at her like a worm boring a hole in her brain. "I know some things that perhaps no one else knows and it could help, or hurt, his case. But I really can't tell you anything more about it. I have to confirm things and find out the facts first. Please just trust me when I say I can't tell you anything about it just yet," she said softly, looking up to meet his dark brown eyes. "I respect that I am in your home, and I will do my best to obey your rules."
Clay reached over and took hold of her arm, motioning for her to sit in his lap. As she settled down against him he asked her, "Do you always do that?"
She gave him a puzzled look. "Do what?"
"Put the cart before the horse." He wrapped an arm around her waist. "How can you agree to obey rules you have not been told yet? And why do you feel you need to protect the supposed details of Trey's case? I know that it's been a very stressful day for you and I'm taking that into consideration, but honestly I have a good notion to flip you over and give you the paddling you currently deserve." He watched her eyes grow a little wider, as she tilted her head to look at him.
L really wasn't sure what to say. She was being presumptuous for agreeing to obey his rules before she knew what they were. He had a point. I can't tell him what I know about Trey though. I just can't. And besides, I am no longer his slave. She looked away from him before speaking. She'd taken too long to answer already, judging by the look in his eyes. "I'm sorry," she said softly, looking down at her lap. "You're right, I am being presumptuous," she finished.
She was having a hard time holding her hands still and hated feeling put on the spot. One too many glasses of wine� you need to shut up and go to bed.
Not only did she feel put on the spot, but she felt that familiar stir in her stomach that then caused an involuntary clenching of the walls of her pussy. It turned her on when he was upset with her, and at the moment, the wine wasn't helping her to suppress the images of his spanking her.
�Softly caressing her arm he said, "I don't like not knowing what you're going to be up to at the library. I know that you know things I don't about Trey, and I understand you want to protect his privacy, but you have to take a look at my part in this whole situation too. You will be staying in my house, my dear. And if you are doing something that you don't want me or anyone else to know about, you probably shouldn't be doing it. You realize that poses some risk to me as well, right?" He paused. "In this case, even though I'm not your Master, I think I have a right to know."
��L stiffened in his lap. He was going to insist upon knowing what she was up to. Maybe not tonight, but he would want to know soon. I still can't tell him. She sat up so she could look at him, knowing this was the only way she was going to get around not having to explain everything to him. "I understand why you might be concerned and feel my being here could pose you certain risks. I can find another friend to stay with if you don't want me here," she said boldly. Seeing the hurt in his eyes, she looked away, focusing on his chest, hiding her own hurt. "I still can't tell you what my plans are."
Clay wasn't sure which feelings were going to win out. It pissed him off and made him want to laugh at the same time. He put his finger under her chin, "Look at me," he whispered.
She lifted her eyes.
"You can't tell me, or you won't tell me?"
L paused for a moment, pleading to him with her eyes. She was fighting back a tear when she whispered. "I won't tell you."
A fire blazed from behind Clay's eyes as he held gaze with her. The tear in her eye spilled over, rolling slowly down her cheek. He removed his finger from her chin. "Fine, you won't tell me about your plans� at least not tonight," he said, forcing a half smile. "But at least tell me why you suddenly wish to cry." He took hold of her hands and pulled her closer to him, wrapping his arms around her.
"Because I'm confused." She sniffled, putting her head against his shoulder. "And I've had too much wine. I should have just gone to bed after dinner." She blinked, letting the tears fall onto her cheeks. "I'm crying because I do want to stay here with you. I want to get to know you. Not as my Master, but as� well, just a man." She wiped at her tears with the back of her hand. Clay chuckled at the last of her words. It annoyed her that he was laughing at her sincerity.
"I've never been, just a man, L. I can refrain from being your Master. But I cannot refrain from being who I am. I'm a dominant man and I always will be. I also meant what I said today at the pond while our hearts were racing. I'm not letting you go. I know, and you know, that nothing prevents you from leaving should you choose to stay somewhere else, but I think that if you do make that choice it will be short lived. I know things about you that perhaps you don't even realize yet." He softly kissed the top of her head and squeezed her. "I'm also a very observant man. Right now I see you are torn with wanting to jump back into the strong individual woman you were before you met Trey. Yet, in your heart, you wish to remain captive, safe, and secure. I can understand your confusion, and I think you've held up rather well today under the circumstances. Tomorrow though, after you've had a good night's sleep. We'll address some new rules, and we are going to talk about these plans of yours, and you will tell me."
L pulled her head back and looked up at him in protest, but before she could say a word, his mouth covered hers in a deep emotional kiss. It started off almost angrily the way he pressed his mouth to hers, his hand coming up to hold her head so she couldn't pull away. When she gasped, he dipped his tongue into her mouth, tempting her to play with his in return. She folded her arms around his torso and he brought his other hand up to the side of her face, kissing her harder, deeper. She moaned into his mouth as her fingers curled into his T-shirt.
He had to pull away before he got completely hard. She wanted space and she was going to get it. "No more talking tonight," he said softly, noticing the dazed look in her eyes and smiled charmingly. "We both need some sleep." He nudged her from his lap so he could stand up. Then he picked her up swiftly, cradling her in his arms. She let out a mild squeal, clasping her arms around his neck while he carried her to her room.
He gave her a soft meaningful kiss as he laid her in her bed and covered her up. "Don't think about it until morning. Trust me. A good night's sleep will do you wonders." He brushed the back of his hand down the side of her cheek before turning toward the door. "Goodnight, L," he whispered, closing the door all but a crack behind him.
Easy for him to say 'don't think about it.' How can I not think about it? She rolled onto her side to look out the window. I have to regain my independence. There's no way to move forward with my life without complete closure from Trey. I could live with being used as his pleasure slave, but I'll be damned if I let him use me to get away with embezzling money.
She knew Trey had used this very same scheme in the past and had actually gotten away with it by making it look like four of the company secretaries were the only ones behind it all. The article had said Douglas Howell was cleared of all charges, but those four women were each facing a ten-year sentence, minimum.
She wondered which of the girls from his office were in on it this time. How many would there be? This wasn't just the Texas Statewide Telephone Company he was taking money from, this was I-core, a nationwide firm that specialized in communications and technology.
Trey could play a very clever broker when he was pitching an investor, he could have them won over in less than two formal meetings, but he was terrible with paperwork and keeping his files organized.After L had done such an admirable job of bringing his home office into a workable and well-organized environment, he had asked that she help him stay on top of things. That meant that once a month she saw and organize his accounts.
He had a special laptop that contained only his overseas business and although he had asked L to back up the hard drive on it a couple of times, he wouldn't let her open or organize the files. He needed them left the way they were.
I just hope that external drive is still there. I know those files will lead me to where he's hiding the majority of the money.
L was going to dig into those files. And if there was enough information to confirm her suspicions she could either take the money herself knowing Trey couldn't say a word about it, or she could copy her findings and give them to I-core's lawyers and hope they believed she really didn't have anything to do with it.
Why does everything have to be so damn complicated? If I do the right thing, I risk becoming a suspect, or an accused accomplice. If I do nothing, he'll transfer that account into a new name when the case is over, as he did last time, and probably walk away from any real charges.
But if I pose as the overseas ghost he's used me for and quit the job at I-core I don't really have, I could walk away with his fraudulent money. That might just hurt him close to the way he's hurt me. I know he loves his money.
A bond deeper than marriage� hah! It's a bond deeper than marriage all right, it's deep enough to put me behind bars and let him walk away without a care. Bastard! How am I supposed to explain that to Clay and expect him to understand? Either he'll just want me to stay out of it completely or he'll want me to turn in the evidence and tell me to have faith in the authorities to believe my innocence. He'll never agree to let me seek vengeance and give myself the kind of closure I need. But if he doesn't know what I'm hiding he can't stop me from doing it.