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It’s been three years since they first met, and Chere is finally where she wants to be: in Price’s dungeon.
Well, she’s in his dungeon part of the time. The rest of the time, she’s living in his home, eating his food, sleeping in his bed, reading his books, wearing his—well, no, he won’t let her wear anything. In fact, there are a lot of things he doesn’t allow, more than she ever imagined in her torrid fantasies. Life under Price’s control is an adjustment, and sometimes a nightmare.
It’s not long before she realizes she’s in way over her head...
Note: This book is super rough. There’s love, but it’s rough. Hence, Rough Love series. This full- length novel is the final book in a three-part storyline that culminates in Happily Ever After. But, full disclosure, this is the roughest part of the ride.
Once upon a time, there was a lost, lonely princess, and a rough-edged prince who owned a castle with a dungeon. The dungeon was hidden away behind a secret door, but the princess knew it was there because it had become the center of their relationship. It was okay.
In fact, the princess dreamed about the dungeon as much as she dreamed about the prince. She loved and hated both of them, her dreams a peculiar mixture of happiness and dread. Sometimes the prince tormented her, whipped her or choked her while he whispered lurid threats in her ear, but sometimes he gave her poetry, real poetry he’d written only for her.
You lean over your work
Lips pursed, then moving
Whispering unintelligible words of affection
As you bring beauty to the world
I ran my fingers over the paper that lay front and center on my worktable, reading his words when I should have been working. I was the princess, even though most days I didn’t feel like it. I still persisted. I wanted happily ever after with my prince.
That was complicated too.
I folded the poem and put it in a drawer with the others, and refocused on my work, on the two gleaming silver ovals in front of me. My studio was quiet today. Sometimes I listened to an eclectic playlist as I worked with my metals and soldering irons, but today I worked in silence because I was a failure, undeserving of music.
As promised, Price had given me some money to start my jewelry business, and rented a space for me a couple floors below his office. My studio had only two rooms: a front room where I worked and stored my supplies, and a back room done up as a lounge for prospective clients, with large, comfortable chairs and a central table for setting out samples and discussing designs. So far, the only person I’d met with in there was Price. Most of the time the back room sat empty, the light from the single window moving across the carpet and chairs.
It had been a month since I set out on my new career as a boutique jewelry designer. I’d amassed a backlog of beautiful gold and silver pieces, earrings, bracelets, necklaces...but no clients. Starshine, Ltd. had received exactly one order since its inception, and that order came from Price—two bracelets with attachment points for chains, in the style of manacles. On the order form he wrote Must stand up to the frenzied pulling of a one hundred and twenty pound woman in the course of a long and grueling punishment session.
I weighed a hundred and twenty pounds. I’d failed to find my first customer by the end of August.
Yes. I was fabricating a pair of shackles for myself.
I deserved to be punished, because after three years at one of New York’s top art schools, I’d fallen way short in launching my career. I’d lamed out, full stop. I’d been more concerned with being my Master’s slave and obsessing over his poetry than bringing my jewelry designs to the world. The whole reason he’d held me at arm’s length for three years was so this wouldn’t happen.
I frowned and fitted one of the manacles around my wrist. I didn’t want them to be stark metal bonds, but works of art. I wanted these instruments of torture to be pretty and exquisitely fitted. I wanted something good to come out of this. I wanted to please the man I thought of as both my Master and soul mate, but the project was also shadowed by sadness. I wasn’t measuring up to our unspoken agreement, and he was calling me on it. I was scared about what that meant.
I clicked the clasp together and wiggled the manacle on my wrist. The fit was true. The design was pretty.
So why wasn’t I happy?
I took it off and arranged it on the table beside the other manacle with a carefully calculated distance between them, connected by a chain. It was a metaphor for us, because we were connected, but not really together. He said he loved me, but he didn’t love me yet. He didn’t trust me, or perhaps he didn’t trust himself, and earning that trust was going to be a long and complicated process on top of everything else. Clients were the last thing on my mind. My career didn’t seem that important anymore, when our relationship was in this shifting stage of vulnerability.
The door swung open. Only one person came here, and he never knocked. In the big, wide world he was P.T. Eriksen, famous architect, but when I wasn’t calling him Sir, I called him Price. He was tall and strong, with piercing blue eyes and blond hair, and bold, expressive features. At the moment, those features were deliciously intent. He locked the door behind him, then strode toward the back room, not even glancing at the manacles. He was already shrugging off his suit jacket. I jumped to my feet and followed.
As soon as I entered the back room, he was on me, grasping me, holding my head in hard fingers, as if he had to force me to endure his kisses. I moaned because I wanted those kisses. He came to visit me at least once a day, sometimes more, for this, for kisses and groping and fast, hard sex against the wall or over the couch, or sprawled out on the carpet.
His force ruled my world. All he had to do was touch me—grab me—and I melted for him. I ground my hips against his crotch as he yanked up my skirt. I was only allowed to wear skirts or dresses to work now, with no panties underneath. It was a very effective method of making me think about him all day. At home, I wasn’t allowed to wear anything at all, except nipple clamps, harnesses, chastity devices, and other evil things he used to torment me. In comparison, the no-panty rule was positively tame, and it allowed him easy access during these fleeting visits.
He forced me to my knees and I undid his fly, releasing his thick erection. He thrust into my mouth with his pants still around his hips. I held up his shirt, being very careful to keep him neat and clean, because once he left me, he’d go back to work in his office upstairs. My old friends at Eriksen Architectural Design knew I had a studio here, and that their boss came to visit me. They knew we were together, since he’d taken me to a couple of corporate dinners. Why wouldn’t the boss fall for the intern? They didn’t know the rest of our three-year history. Maybe that was for the best.
I choked, a loss of concentration. He twisted fingers in my hair and pulled hard to refocus me. Yes, yes, Sir, forgive me. I didn’t say it out loud, didn’t say anything, just went back to sucking him. We hadn’t shared so much as a greeting yet, but that wasn’t unusual when his mind was on sex. He didn’t like a bunch of words clouding up the dynamic between us. When we were in his dungeon, I wasn’t allowed to speak at all. Not one word, not one syllable unless I was responding to a question. He’d told me that rule the first day, and no amount of protesting and negotiation had changed his mind. After being gagged many times over the following week, sometimes for more than an hour, I’d learned to accept it and obey.
But I could still make noises. I could scream and whine, yelp and shriek, groan and struggle to my heart’s content. And here, now, I could talk, because this wasn’t the dungeon, but what was there to say exceptUse me, and I missed you, and I love you, even when you treat me this way…
His hands tightened in my hair until my toes curled in my shoes, then he released me and nudged me toward the sofa. I crawled there, waiting for his hands to show me what he wanted. He lifted me and bent me over the cushions, slapped my ass and shoved his cock inside me. I was so, so wet. His forceful thrusts banged my hips against the couch where I should have been meeting with clients. Let’s face it, I was way better at having sex than launching a business.
“Hurt me,” I whispered into my hands. “Please hurt me.”
I wanted to touch myself, but I didn’t. He could make me come from fucking alone, from rubbing over my G-spot until my legs were trembling and my clit was swollen into a throbbing, horny center of need. I didn’t have to ask permission to come, but I was sometimes instructed not to come, intentionally or on a whim. This created a situation where I tried to come all the time, until he told me not to—because at any moment he might tell me not to.
He enjoyed my scrabbling, frenzied attempts to get off, enjoyed making me come over and over sometimes, until I was exhausted. I bucked back against him, ignoring the scratching carpet against my knees, but constantly aware of keeping his clothes clean. The one time I’d accidentally humped his pants and left a wet spot, he’d made me take them to the dry cleaner with a very sore ass. Live and learn. Since I’d moved in with Price, I’d learned so many things.
Be good. Be a pleasing, sexually available slave. Hurt for Master when he wants it. Don’t ask him if he loves you.
“Oh, please,” I said. “I’m so close.”
He immediately changed his rhythm to make it harder for me to come. I should have known better by now than to admit I was almost there. He squeezed my nipples through my shirt, making my pussy twitch and clench around his cock. He was so big, he filled me so full. He was everything to me. He left my nipples and reached down to slap my clit. The contact felt electric. I stuffed my knuckles in my mouth so I wouldn’t ask for it again, because then I might not get it. He slapped my clit again, hurting me as much as he thrilled me. The third time I went off, climaxing, grinding on his hand as he drilled into me.
See, some women were into soft caresses and gently whispered endearments. Not me. And it wasn’t because I’d worked as a stripper and a call girl, or that I didn’t realize my value, or that I came from an abusive home and was somehow messed up in the head. It was because I was wired to enjoy violence, and Price was wired to enjoy giving it to me. His thrusts intensified, marking me, invading me, and then I heard him come too with the rough growls that signaled his climax.
I hated when it was over, because that meant he would let go and leave my body. The waiting would begin, the craving for his next possession. How was I supposed to go out there and keep working?
He squeezed my shoulder and I turned to do my task, cleaning him up with my lips and tongue so he could shove his cock back into his pants and return to work too.
“Go fix yourself up,” he said when I finished. “Then I need to see you out in the other room.”
I went into the powder room and did what I could about the jizz and juices dripping out of me. It was impossible to be someone’s sex slave and retain the full measure of your pride. There were a lot of indignities, bodily fluids and hurried cleanup sessions, and pulling your skirt down over your bare ass and pussy and getting on with your day. When I went into the other room, Price stood by my worktable looking down at the manacles.
“You promised delivery today,” he said. “Are they finished?”
“Yes, Sir.” I hurried over to show him, but he stopped me.
“Not yet,” he murmured. “Sit.”
I sat in my desk chair and he pulled a second chair up right beside me. I wanted him to look over at the manacles and like them, maybe even compliment them, but he looked at me instead. I swallowed and clasped my hands in my lap, one hundred percent aware that this sinfully handsome man had been ramming his cock into my body not five minutes earlier. It might as well have been five hours ago. No more fun time.
This was going to be rough.
“We need to talk about your lack of progress,” he said.
Do we have to? my brain whined. My lips remained shut.
“What have you been doing?” he prompted, looking around my organized workspace.
“I’ve been making things.”
My studio smelled similar to the old metals lab at Norton, although I think this building had better ventilation. I slid a glance at the manacles, and showed him some earrings I’d been working on before then, with tiny, deep blue, speckled stones. He didn’t look that impressed.
“They’re pretty,” he said. “Who’s going to wear them?”
“I don’t know. I just like making stuff. I don’t feel comfortable pushing it on people.”
“Artists want their art to be seen. You’re making excuses. You’re being lazy.”
I grimaced. “Thanks.”
“I’ve introduced you to dozens of people in the last few weeks. You’ve had plenty of chances to sell yourself.”
It was the wrong choice of words, considering I’d literally sold myself for ten years, whored myself out to hundreds of clients. I blinked and stared down at my interlaced fingers.
“I gave you extra time,” he said. “I gave you until the end of August. You knew what I expected. One customer. One person interested enough in your brand and your talent to commission a piece. One fucking bracelet, Chere. A pair of gold studs. One fucking ring.”
Every word he said made me feel smaller. Ugh, why couldn’t talent and creativity be enough? Why did I have to sell myself? “I’d rather work for someone else,” I said. “I appreciate you setting me up here and everything, but I don’t want the responsibility of running my own company. I decided I don’t really like that. I mean, it was your idea.”
I chanced a glance at him. He regarded me with unsettling focus.
“I’m not a marketer,” I protested as the stare wore me down. “I’m not a salesperson.”
“Then learn how to be a salesperson, or hire some salespeople to work for you.”
“I don’t know how. We didn’t learn those skills at art school.”
“You saw me work with people during your internship,” he reminded me. “You sat in on countless meetings and watched me do dozens of deals. You watched me network and put projects together.”
“Yes, and you’re great at it. You’re great at getting shit done and convincing people they need your buildings and bridges. I’m making classic, elegant pieces of jewelry that no one’s interested in. I’ve got no hook. I’ve got no flair. I’m not a business person.” His eyes darkened with each denial. I could barely hold his gaze. “You can’t punish me for sucking at business.”
“I can punish you for being so fucking negative. I can punish you for anything I like.”
His big, capable hands rested in his lap. He was going to hurt me later with those hands because I was lame and uncertain, and not making any progress. I was failing to launch.
“I feel horrible. I hate disappointing you,” I said, trying to elicit some sympathy. “It’s hard to have you connected to my working world, my art.”
“I’m connected to whatever I want, as far as you’re concerned. That was the deal we made, remember? You belong to me, body and soul.”
I looked around my workroom, at everything he’d made possible. I loved belonging to him, but at the same time, I was a failure, a disappointment, an underperformer who had to be punished. My friend Andrew had graduated at the same time as me, and he was already selling lots of his work.
“Sometimes I think I don’t want to do the jewelry anymore,” I said, looking back at him. “I just want to belong to you.”
I knew that would make him furious. It was exactly what he hadn’t wanted to happen. It was the whole reason he’d resisted letting me into his life, but now I was in his life and all I wanted to do was serve him. He’d paid a lot of money to help me become a designer, and now I didn’t want to design. He could force me to do it. He could force me to do anything in our dynamic, and I had no safe words to extricate myself.
He let out a long, sad breath, then reached to pick up one of the manacles I’d made. He turned it over in his hand and reached for my wrist. It worked on a delicate, hidden hinge, closing snugly around my skin and bones. I’d fashioned it with curved edges, but I hadn’t added any kind of padding. I didn’t deserve padding.
“You know I love you, Chere,” he said, fingering the clasp. To my ears, it sounded like he was trying to convince himself. I didn’t believe him. I didn’t trust him, which made me a very bad slave.
He closed the manacle with a snap and studied it on my wrist. I’d polished it until it shone. Without the fitting for the chain, the silver band could pass for a bracelet. He picked up the other one and put it on me so my wrists were tethered by the chain. He brought them together and covered my hands with his, and held them as he gazed into my eyes.
“These are beautiful,” he said, and it sounded like the sad breath he’d taken earlier. “You do beautiful work. The world needs this work.”
I tried to read his expression. I saw disappointment and doubt. Was he questioning us? Questioning whether he needed to let me go? The words burst out of me in a panic.
“Don’t leave me. Don’t make me go away.”
He released my hands and grabbed my face. I flinched as his fingertips dug into my cheeks. “Do you think I’d do that to you?”
“You did do it to me. You left me before. Twice.”
He gave me a harsh look, followed by a brisk slap on the cheek. It was hard to hold his gaze, but when my eyes slid away he grabbed my neck and I knew I’d better fucking attend to him. I didn’t know what I feared more, his punishment or his desertion. If he believed he was harming me, he would leave me. I knew that. He’d done it before.
“I’m sorry,” I pleaded. “I’ll do better. I just want to be with you. The jewelry design, the business, it takes away from my time with you.”
“You used to love making jewelry.”
“Now I love you.”
I felt his fingers tighten. “We have plenty of time together outside of work. You need a life besides being my—”
He stopped talking, but I knew him well enough to understand the things he didn’t say. He wanted me to maintain a life outside of our claustrophobic emotional entanglement in case we had to part again. I knew he maintained escape plans. My career was one of them, because it prevented my complete surrender. My eyes filled with tears.
“Don’t leave me,” I whispered, turning my neck to get more air. “Please.”
A muscle in his jaw ticked. “Don’t tell me what to do.”
We sat like that for fifteen seconds or more, staring at one another with his hand around my neck. I clasped my fingers together and the manacles clinked.
“I’ll find a client by next week,” I promised. “I’ll do whatever it takes.”
“We’re leaving for Paris in two days.”
“When we get back, then. I’ll use that time in Paris to create a marketing plan—”
“You don’t even know what a marketing plan is.” He let go of my neck and looked at my work. “You need to be out in the world, getting inspired, talking to people, telling them about your vision.”
But I want to be in your dungeon. I want to be near you, loving you. I want you to love me...
“I’ll visit jewelry shops in Paris,” I promised. “I’ll go to fashion shows. I’ll keep working if you want me to work.”
“I want you to work.” He looked back at me, pinning me with his stern, blue gaze. “You can do both, be my slave and share your talents with the world. Your job,” he said, pointing his finger at me, “is to do what I think is best for you. I don’t want you to lose yourself inside me, inside my house and my life and my will. Inside my dungeon.”
“Yes, Sir,” I said dutifully, but the tears were back, because he’d just described exactly what I wanted. It was what he wanted too. He’d told me as much when he came back into my life, but he wouldn’t allow himself such selfish pleasure.
“What?” he snapped. “Why are you crying?”
“Because you’re angry with me. And because...”
His finger tapped on his knee. I wasn’t looking forward to the punishment later, but if I was getting it anyway, I might as well speak my mind.
“I’m crying because I think you don’t... I think you don’t really want me. You don’t want our relationship.”
I put my hands up to cover my eyes. He yanked them back down with the chain. “Why the fuck would you say that?”
“You want me to work so I’ll be able to support myself when you leave. You’re not going to stay with me.”
He pursed his lips, his eyes flashing fire. His grip tightened on the chain. “You’re mine, Chere, and I intend to keep you. But our deal was for you to maintain a creative life too, a real life with a real job.”
“I don’t want a real job. I want to belong to you—”
“You do belong to me,” he interrupted, not even allowing me to finish my plea. “Now shut the fuck up. I’m tired of your whining.” He turned over my wrists and worked the clasp to open the manacles. “You can leave at three o’clock to go home and prepare yourself. I’ll be home around six.”
He slipped the manacles into his pocket and tipped up my chin. “This isn’t going to be a fun night for you, starshine. When I threatened punishment, I meant punishment. I’m not happy with you.” He brushed away one of my tears. “But that doesn’t mean I don’t want you, or that I wish you would leave. Don’t put words in my mouth or tell me what I’m going to do as far as you’re concerned, because I do what I want, and you fucking accept it. It’s very simple,” he said, pointing at his chest. “I own you. Your only job is to fucking be owned.”