Forbidden Fires (Bondage & Breakfast)
Author:Jodie Griffin

chapter Thirteen

With a quick twist of his credit card, he had the bathroom door unlocked.

“You did not just do that,” she muttered, crossing her arms over her chest. She glared at him from her perch on the tub’s edge, her chin tilted mutinously.

“Yeah, I did. Quit pouting. We both need sleep.”

“Go away.” She sat there, legs crossed too, swinging a foot back and forth.

He almost smiled. Her stubbornness would never allow her to give up or give in. But would she capitulate if he made it clear it was an order from Master to sub? And did he want to go that route? The caveman inside him made that decision for him. Yes.

“Take off your nightgown. And come here.”

She blinked. “Are you insane? No, I’m not coming over there. And I sure as hell won’t be getting naked with you tonight.” Her voice was slightly uneven, and her cheeks were pink.

Could be anger. Could be arousal. Time to find out. He dangled the restraints in front of her and sharpened his voice. “Let me rephrase that. I want you naked and restrained in that bed. Either say yes, Sir or use your safe word. Those are your only two choices.”

The word shamrock sat right on the tip of her tongue. He could almost see it, but as he moved closer to her, she swallowed it back. He tugged her to her feet, and the light of need sparked in her eyes. He felt the sexual excitement humming through her body, making her muscles tremble as she stood there. She couldn’t hide it from him, and it stirred the restless beast inside him who wanted to demand she submit.

No matter what he’d thought about this being the wrong time to soul-search, he couldn’t help but acknowledge that he was as turned on by the push and pull of this dynamic as she was. The rational part of his brain wondered if that feeling could outlast this op, but the newly awakened dominant part of it told him to shut the fuck up and enjoy the here and now.

And enjoy he did. The brief struggle in her eyes tripped some previously unknown sadistic trigger that sent satisfaction roaring through him. Then she cast her eyes to the floor, bowing her head.

Christ. He tucked his hand under her chin, forcing her to meet his gaze. “I’m waiting.”

She bit her lip and then, keeping her eyes locked with his, slid the straps of her silky nightgown off her shoulders and let it drop in a puddle at her feet. “Yes, Sir.”

God, she was both seriously sexy and incredibly brave, and he hoped her acquiescence meant she understood that he hadn’t deliberately kept anything from her earlier. He valued her too much, both personally and professionally. He dropped a hard kiss on her lips. “Give me your hands.”

She hesitated for a heartbeat, then put her wrists out, silent except for her unsteady breathing.

“Good girl,” he murmured, wrapping the restraints around them and hooking them together in front of her body. “Time for bed.”

Even though she’d submitted, her body remained rigid as he pulled her against him, spoon-style, his hand locked around her waist. It wasn’t until she fell asleep that she relaxed into him. Her slow, steady breath eased the tension in his own spine, and he drifted off.

* * *

Colin blinked, awakened by the press of a soft, naked ass against his morning erection. From the amount of sun in the room, he’d guess it was somewhere around six-thirty.

Delia stirred, stretching. He could tell the second she realized her hands were still bound by the way she froze. Cautiously, she rolled from her side to her back, turning her head to face him. Even still drowsy from sleep, her expression was guarded, and it made his heart twist.

“Hey.” He ran his knuckles gently down her cheek. “How’d you sleep?”

“Okay, I guess.” Her face flushed. “I had some, er, vivid dreams.”

It would be easy to tease her about exactly what those dreams entailed, but she hadn’t woke swinging at him or swearing at him, and he wanted to keep the peace. They had another full day to go through, and they needed to keep their shit together.

She flushed again and held out her hands. “Can you take these off, please? I need to use the bathroom.”

He sat up in bed and took her hands in his, kissing her wrists before unhooking the two restraints. “I’ll take them off for now, but they need to go back on after you shower.” When she started to protest, he raised an eyebrow. “I could pull the whole Dom thing, but I’m not going to. I think you should leave them on because it’s good for our cover. Unless you have a different idea?”

She rolled her eyes and scooted off the bed, heading toward the bathroom, stretching her arms. “You could wear them,” she muttered under her breath.

He laughed. “I heard that.”

She closed the door behind her, and he heaved a relieved sigh. Maybe everything would work out okay, after all.

* * *

“I want the truth, or I want you gone. And don’t bother lying, because I remembered where I’ve seen you before. You’re the cop and the fire marshal from the serial pipe-bomber case in Maryland last year. Why are you here?”

Delia shivered from the chill in Gabe McConnell’s voice. They were standing in the dining room, and his face was hard, his eyes icy, his body rigid. If she’d met this man last night, she’d never have let him touch her. There was no sign of the Dom who’d been both playful and strict, just a man who was coldly furious and not bothering to hide it. She swallowed hard and looked to Colin. She didn’t have the authority to break their cover, but he did.

Colin kept his voice mild, but she was familiar enough with his body to recognize the coiled tension in his posture. “We’re following some leads on an arson case, and it led us here, to Bondage and Breakfast.”

The muscle in McConnell’s jaw clenched, but he nodded. “The car bomb in Montgomery County. I saw the news report. I know the Mendozas. They’ve been guests here.”

Delia slid a glance at Colin, who looked grim. “They’re not the only ones. We’re tracking a serial arsonist. Every homeowner or business owner who was killed or whose property was destroyed is part of this BDSM world, and they were all here two months ago. Do you know Karenna and Brad McDonough? How about Jake and Elizabeth West, and Nils and Nina Lindstrom?”

McConnell’s face went ghost white, and his eyes flared wildly. “They’re all dead?”

Delia jumped in. “No. The McDonoughs were killed in an explosion that leveled their home and killed all five people inside. There were similar fires at the Wests’ and the Lindstroms’. They survived, but guests of theirs weren’t as lucky. You haven’t seen the news this week?”

McConnell still looked like someone had sucker punched him. “Jesus. I, I had to take an unexpected trip out of town and just got back Wednesday.” He bowed his head then lifted it, scowling. “Why the undercover bullshit? I’ll answer any questions you have. Why pretend?”

He was a smart man, and it didn’t take more than ten seconds of silence for his eyes to widen with understanding. “Son of a bitch. You think I’m involved? You’re investigating me?” His hands clenched into fists and his face darkened. “I used to be a firefighter. I stopped fires, for God’s sake. I didn’t start them.”

“The best lead we have is Bondage and Breakfast,” Delia admitted softly. “I’m sorry for the deception, but we had to investigate. We didn’t know if you were part of it, or if it’s Bondage and Breakfast that’s the connection.”

McConnell dragged a hand through his hair and, even though he was obviously still shaken by the news, pinned Colin with a steely glare. “What the hell were you thinking? I could’ve done anything to Delia in the guise of training and you wouldn’t have had a fucking clue. Christ.”

His pissed-off reaction seemed 100 percent genuine, even horrified, and the last bit of doubt she had about his innocence evaporated. She’d stake her reputation that he wasn’t part of this, but as much a victim as anyone else. From the look on Colin’s face, he felt the same way.

“We didn’t come into this totally blind, but I had my orders,” Colin said. “I’m sure you remember how that goes.”

“Screw that.” McConnell slammed his hands down on the chair back. “I have a business to run. I turned down a couple who really wanted to learn about D/s to play fucking mind games with the two of you, and it pisses me off. So clear me or arrest me, but get on with it.”

She shot Colin a what now look, leaving it up to him. As the head of the task force, this was his show, his decision to make.

“It’s not that easy. As of last night, neither Delia nor I believe you’re a suspect.” He held up a hand when McConnell started to interrupt. “And dates you were out of town and someone to verify that will put you in the official clear. But we need to keep investigating, because Bondage and Breakfast is the key to this. We can do it undercover, sparing you embarrassment in front of your customers. Or we can go the cop route and bring it all out in the open.”

“As if that’s a goddamn choice.”

Delia winced. If they wanted Gabe McConnell’s help, they needed to give him more background. She glanced at Colin, who nodded. “Before we knew all roads led here, I asked a friend if he could get us into the BDSM world. I know he’s part of it. He told me about Bondage and Breakfast, about the lessons, and he said you were the best mentor around. When he found out you were a suspect, he insisted we tell you, but Colin had his orders. Anyway, he refused to believe you’re involved. He said he trusts you with Bella’s life.”

“Bella?” His face darkened, as did his voice. “You mean Marcus Aiello sent you here? Fuck, I’m going to ban him forever. What the hell was he thinking? This isn’t a damn game to me.”

Colin opened his mouth but Delia got the words out first. “No, it isn’t a game, to you or the victims. Ten people are dead, and presumably only because they like bondage. The one thing that ties everyone together is your inn. Marcus knew you’d be willing to help, but we had no choice in how we went about it. One thing’s sure. We’ve got to find this guy before he kills anyone else.”

McConnell was still angry, that much was obvious by the torque to his jaw. But he was also listening, which was a good thing for them.

Colin spoke up. “Last night, you said that a couple coming this morning had been at that retreat two months ago. They may be in danger, or they may be involved. You also mentioned a couple you turned away. It’s possible they could be involved or feel the need to get revenge.”

“Fuck,” McConnell muttered, scrubbing at his jaw. “What do you need from me?”

Relief poured through Delia. “Do you have a list of everyone who attended the retreat?”

“And do you know the names of the people you turned away?” Colin added.

McConnell nodded sharply. “Come with me. The sooner we get this over with, the sooner you get out.” He turned to walk away, then turned back suddenly. “Was it all an act with the two of you? A mind-fuck for me?”

Colin snorted. “I’m not that good an actor.”

Delia felt herself flush, and she stared at the floor. When Gabe McConnell tipped her chin up, she had a hard time meeting his eyes.

“Well, I’ll be damned. You really are a sub. And I thought you were new to D/s,” he muttered, self-disgust lacing his words. He dropped his hand from her chin as if her skin burned him. “So much for my skills at observation.”

“I am new to it,” she admitted softly. “Nearly everything I told you was true. I’ve always been interested. I’ve never acted on it, but I wanted it.”

He narrowed his eyes. He still didn’t believe her.

“And I want more. I’ll never be able to go back now that I know the truth about what I like. Who I am.”

“Are you even a couple? Because...” His words drifted off and he shrugged. “Never mind. Not important.”

“We were a year ago,” Colin answered. He locked eyes with her, heat-filled, serious eyes, and her heart flip-flopped. She wished she had time to think about what that meant, but she didn’t.

McConnell stared at them both a long minute, then turned and walked away, his footsteps heavy, his shoulders tense. His self-confidence had taken a hit, and it hurt to see.

She’d done many things undercover, had fooled many people into believing she was something or someone she wasn’t, and she’d never felt bad about them. Why, then, did she feel so guilty about this? She shot Colin a glance. His face was grim, and she wondered if he was feeling the way she was.

Or maybe he was focused on the case. Which she should be too.

She forced her head back into work mode, and followed Colin and Gabe McConnell out the door.

* * *

For the next two hours they went over the list of everyone who’d attended the retreat weekend, getting the task force to pull information on the other couple who’d been there. Colin was surprised at how accommodating McConnell was being, but then again, wanting to be cleared of a heinous crime would be a good reason to cooperate.

“Jake and Elizabeth West,” Colin said, glancing at his notepad. “They survived the fire, but they had two guests who didn’t.”

“They were here that weekend to learn Shibari techniques. Japanese rope bondage.”

“How about Karenna and Brad McDonough?” Delia asked quietly.

McConnell winced and flipped through some papers. “They were in a committed poly relationship, and all three of them were here that weekend. I thought they all lived together.”

“We’ll check into that,” Colin said. He turned to Delia. “That could explain the three victims found in one bedroom.”

She nodded. “And what about Nils and Nina Lindstrom? They also survived, but their guest didn’t.”

“We had a speaker talking about living a full D/s lifestyle. They were here for that.”

“Tell us about the couple you turned away,” Delia said softly.

McConnell’s face grew tight. “I knew the minute they arrived there’d be an issue. Hank Whitcomb brought his girlfriend, Kayla. She was young, maybe twenty-two, bone thin, pale and haunted-looking, wearing a collar. He held the leash. She couldn’t look at me at all. That’s not uncommon in a sub, especially if they’re following protocol. But this didn’t feel like it was a respectful action. I could almost smell her fear.” Disgust flared in his eyes. “She was terrified.”

Colin’s grimaced. Shit, no wonder McConnell had stopped Delia before they’d even entered the house.

“I lifted her chin like I did yours,” McConnell said, looking at Delia. “She had the remnants of a black eye that he tried to explain away as her being clumsy, but I wasn’t buying it. I know what domestic violence looks like, and this was it. When I asked to speak with her alone, he got belligerent, said she liked the pain. It turned my stomach. When I explained my rules and asked him to leave, he dragged her off the porch and to the car. I tried to stop them but he sped off. I had his tag number, though, from the registration form, and I called a friend in the Maryland State Police. I asked Alex to check it out, told him I was worried about her. He said Whitcomb has a history of abuse. Alex was going to try to get Kayla to go to a shelter. I’m not sure what happened.”

Colin swore. “He could be our guy. He fits the profile, and he’d be looking for revenge if she managed to break away from him. He might blame you for her leaving.”

McConnell paled. “You mean me turning him away might’ve set him off on a killing spree? Jesus.” He dropped his head to his desk for a moment, and when he lifted it his eyes were hard and filled with purpose. “So what now?”

Score one for Marcus Aiello, who’d known how his friend would react all along. Yeah, Colin was sure McConnell was still ticked off, but he’d stopped telling them to get out, and started working with them. Another point confirming his innocence, really. “What time are the other two couples coming?”

“Eleven. We’ve got a meet-and-greet lunch where I go over the same basics I went over with you yesterday, and then we start.” McConnell’s eyes narrowed. “How are you going to work this?”

Colin shrugged. “Same way we did last night. If we don’t need to question them, we won’t. Casual conversation should give us what we need.”

McConnell nodded slowly. “Can’t say I’m thrilled with this, but I understand. I’m still going to kick Aiello’s ass, though.” He stood and ushered them out of his office, closing the door behind them. “There’s about half an hour before they get here. I need some time to prepare things. If you’ll excuse me?” He didn’t wait for an answer, just left.

Colin turned to Delia and was bowled over by the distressed look on her face. “What’s wrong, babe?”

“I know we’re doing our jobs, but this is messed up. McConnell is a nice guy and he’s right. We fucked with his head.”

“I don’t like it either, but you said it yourself. It had to be done.” He tucked her hair behind her ear. “And now that he knows, we can move forward. I’m betting Hank Whitcomb is our guy.”

“Sounds like it, but we still need to talk to that last couple, the ones coming today.” She dipped her head and looked up at him through lowered lashes, pink tingeing her cheeks as she fiddled with the metal links on the restraints still circling her wrists. “So we keep on as we were, husband and wife, Dom and sub?”

He’d bet she had no idea how much want came through her words, but he heard it and his dick responded accordingly, surging against his zipper. He had to clear his throat to speak. “Yeah, we should. That is, if you’re still willing to go that route.”

Their peace this morning was fragile, the argument from last night still fresh in his mind, overlaid by their failure as a couple last year. It had to be on hers too. If things were going to end again after this op, then he at least wanted more good memories to keep him company at night. So he held his breath as well as his tongue while he waited for her to decide.

Her voice was soft, her eyes even more so. “I am.”

He couldn’t help himself. With a muttered curse, he tugged her into his arms and settled his mouth over hers, not gently but demanding that she yield to him. He wound one hand through her hair and tugged her head back.

“Oh, God. Colin, please.”

He nipped at her skin, at the sweet spot where neck met shoulder and she shuddered, her body going pliant and warm. Fierce possession reared up, and he sucked hard at the spot he’d just bitten, leaving his mark for all to see. “Mine.” She tensed slightly but he pressed on, backing her against the wall in the hallway until their bodies were so close not even air could get between them. “Mine, Delia Robinson. I’m not giving you up again.”

He forestalled any rebuttal by kissing his way up her neck and taking her mouth again. He slipped a hand between them and ran it over her torso, cupping a breast then pinching her aroused nipple. She arched into his touch, and heat swept through him. His dick strained against his zipper, as though understanding that heaven was just a few pieces of cloth away, but instead of giving in, he wrapped his need in iron control and continued to taste her until a desperate sob choked in her throat.

“Please, Sir.”

Pure satisfaction swept through him. Who the hell was this guy clawing to get out, the one who thrilled to Delia’s capitulation, who got turned on even more by the pleading tone of her voice? Where had this dark need come from?

At the moment, he didn’t fucking care where or why or how, he just wanted his hands on her, in her, making her scream. He broke away from her mouth, breathing hard.

Her eyes were wild, her hair a tangle, her sexy dress wrinkled from his hand and the press of their bodies. He grabbed the hands she’d fisted in his shirt and, after locking the two restraints together, shoved them up over her head, trapping them. He slid his free hand under her short dress, caressing the silky skin of her hip, groaning aloud at the heat under his palm. She twisted her body, trying to bring his hand closer to her core, but he used his hip to keep her in place. When she struggled against him, he didn’t even think, just smacked his hand against the curves he’d bared.

She cried out, not in pain or dismay but in demand, asking for more. She’d allowed her submissive nature to take over, and she was begging to be used.

He kicked her feet wide, steadying her with trembling hands. “Keep your arms where they are and don’t you dare take them down. If you do, I stop. Understand?”

“Y-yes, Sir.”

He squatted in front of her, bunching her dress up over her hips, bringing another pair of sheer, barely there panties to his view. They were tied with small bows on the side. He tugged at one, and the string came free. “Oh, I like these. Pretty. But I want them gone. For the rest of the weekend, no panties allowed.” He untied the other side and tugged them off, deliberately dragging the thong string through her folds.

She groaned, shaking. “Please.”

He leaned forward and kissed her bare skin, dipping his tongue in the tiny cleft at the top of her mound. She cried out, and he grinned, tucking the panties he’d just removed into his pocket. “Look at you like this, all bare, smooth skin. Is this the first time you’ve been waxed here?” he asked, using his thumbs to draw her folds apart. He blew softly once, and she whimpered. “I asked you a question.”

“Um,” she mumbled.

He pinched her thigh. “The right way.”

She groaned, flooding his nose with the scent of her arousal. “Y-yes, Sir.”

“I like it.” He buried his tongue between her lips, licking at her, lapping up her sweet essence. “A lot.”

As he drank from her, she squirmed, trying to bring her legs together. He used his shoulders to keep them apart, getting in her space completely, not giving her any room to move away from the torment of his tongue. And he made it torture, taking his time, driving her to the brink and pulling back again. He’d learned that lesson well last night.

“Jesus, Colin, please!”

She continued to beg and plead with him, but he drew it out until he thought she could take no more. And then, when he could hear the frustration in her voice, the edge of tears wanting to break free, he plunged two fingers inside her, stroking hard, while he sucked her clit. “Come for me, Delia. Now,” he said, adding a third finger.

She came with a gut-wrenching cry, shuddering so hard her body bucked against the wall, rattling a picture frame against the plaster. He clenched his teeth against the need to do the same, doing some mental algebra to figure out if they had enough time to go back to their room.

She was still breathing hard, spasming around his fingers inside her when footsteps echoed in the hallway. Delia froze like a deer in the headlights, then relaxed.

“Looks like I missed all the fun,” Gabe McConnell said, his voice slightly warmer than it had been earlier, but not as relaxed and genial as it had been the night before.

Colin withdrew his fingers from her body and tugged her dress down, covering her hips and ass. He stood, and Dee dropped her arms in front of her with a sigh. She buried her red face against his chest, and he wrapped her in his arms. The position brought her hands into contact with his raging erection, and he groaned as she cupped him and squeezed.

McConnell smiled slightly at his predicament, then sobered. “The couple you want to talk to is here. They’re just coming up the driveway.”

Delia went from soft and snuggly to alert, head-in-the-game cop in the blink of an eye. She held out her arms. “Unhook these.” When he didn’t move fast enough, she blew out a sigh. “Colin, come on.”

McConnell grinned a shark’s smile. “Actually, you need to leave them on. Because that’s what happens this weekend. We start out easy, but every sub comes in the door wearing restraints.”

She frowned, and in this, Colin couldn’t blame her. The game had just escalated, and they both needed to be able to move freely. “Any way we can bend the rules? We’re not armed, but I don’t like the idea of Delia not having full use of her hands if something goes bad. You were right earlier. It was a risk last night, but Marcus vouched for you. Do you know much about this couple?”

“Just that they’re fairly new to D/s. Honestly, I’m surprised they’re here for a beginner’s class, since they’d gone to the retreat. Then again, I think they were out of their depth that weekend.” His eyes narrowed. “I see your point, though. I have a pair of breakaway training cuffs in the office. I use them for subs who need a slower start. Delia could break the connection if she had to. Let me grab them.”

By the time the car pulled into the driveway in front of the house, McConnell had switched out Delia’s restraints. “I’m still running a business here, so I need to greet my customers the way I greeted you yesterday. Please wait in the lounge. Colin, there’s a chair for you. Delia, there’s a cushion on the floor, next to the chair. You should be on it, on your knees, hands in your lap, when I get back. Once I check them in, I’ll bring them in. I have to take their bags up to their room, so you’ll have a few minutes to talk with them. Does that work?”

Colin nodded, and to his utter surprise, Delia leaned in and kissed McConnell on the cheek, then grabbed his hand with her bound ones and squeezed. “Thank you, Master Gabriel. Marcus was right about you.” She stepped back and dropped her gaze to the floor, her hair sliding forward to hide her face.

McConnell stood there, speechless, as if she’d just yanked the rug right out from under him. He started to speak but floundered for a moment, then laughed ruefully. “Jesus, for a fragile-looking thing, you pack a hell of a punch. I’ve got to go greet my guests.”