Forbidden Fires (Bondage & Breakfast)
Author:Jodie Griffin

chapter Six



“I found something too.” Silence on the other end of the phone line echoed in her ear.

“Dee?” Colin’s voice was sleep-drugged, and when she looked at the clock, she winced.

That late, really? “Yeah, sorry.”

“What time is it?”

Bed sheets rustled, and she flashed hot all over. It didn’t take much for her to picture Colin in bed, bare-assed naked like he’d always slept with her. She didn’t have to imagine it, because that picture was burned into her brain. She’d remember it when she was eighty. “Eleven-thirty.”

“Christ, couldn’t this wait?”

“You said to call when I had a minute.” The words sounded defensive and she rolled her eyes at her own petulance.

“I left you that text almost three hours ago.” His yawn garbled his retort. “What’s so important it couldn’t keep until morning?”

More rustling, and the sound of pillows being rearranged. Heat furled low in her stomach, and she tried to shut her eyes against the image it produced in her brain. Closing them didn’t help in the least. “I ran queries against other fires in the area. There are two more that may fit our suspect, if he’s targeting places where people either live the lifestyle or play at BDSM.”

“Seriously?”

He sounded so shocked she couldn’t be offended. “Seriously. No deaths, just property damage. One was an upscale sex shop. Fancy lingerie, high-quality toys, artistic erotic films.”

“And the other?”

“A cigar lounge.”

A disbelieving noise came across the line. “Excuse me? How’d you decide that’s related?”

“I decided it might be related, not that it was,” she said. “I pulled photos from the scene. When I show you, you’ll see why I think it’s possible.”

More silence came from Colin’s end of the line. When he spoke, his voice was lower, sexy as sin. “You avoided my real question, babe. One of these days, you’re going to tell me how you know so much about kink and spanking benches, and how you’d even make the connection between a cigar lounge and bondage.”

Her heart sped up and the heat in her belly unfurled and flowed south. “I’ve already told you. I’ve seen plenty during investigations. You pick things up.”

“I don’t believe you,” he said softly. “And if you think avoiding the answers are going to make my questions go away, you’re mistaken. Once this case is over, when we get around to talking about what went wrong with our relationship, we’re going to talk about this too.”

Once again, she avoided what he said. “I also reran the mapping program with these two other cases in it, and we have a pattern.”

Colin’s voice lost its sexy edge and got sharper, all business now. “Tell me.”

“Whoever the arsonist is, he’s moving from east to west across the state. Two in Baltimore County, the Wests’ house and the sex shop. Two in Howard County, the McDonoughs’ house and the cigar lounge. The Lindstroms’ house in Carroll County.”

“What about the bondage club? That was in the warehouse district in Baltimore.”

She sighed. “Yeah, that one’s a problem. I’m not sure how that fits or even if it does.”

“Hang on.”

She heard the rustle of sheets again, then footsteps, and her mouth salivated. What the hell was wrong with her? They were talking arson, and she was fantasizing about his world-class ass? Jesus. His computer made a beeping noise, and then a few seconds later, she had mail.

“This is what came up tonight. Another fire, just over the line in Montgomery County. Big home, although not nearly as big as some of the others. High-powered businessman and his equally high-powered attorney wife on their way out to a dinner party. Pipe bomb was under their car, went off in the garage when he turned the engine on. Both killed. When I talked to my boss this afternoon, I mentioned your suspicions. On-call fire marshal checked out the rest of the house and found a locked room in the basement. They gained entry, and the room was set up almost like that bondage club was.”

“A dungeon,” she said, almost to herself. “Why didn’t I hear about this earlier?”

“Because you were out on a date and you had your phone turned off?”

That almost sounded as if Colin was...jealous? She shook her head to clear her mind of that unexpected revelation. “I didn’t have it turned off, I had it on vibrate because I was at the movies. With my grandfather, if you really have to know. And anyway, that sounds like it fits the profile, at least.”

“It does. And it ties in the club too. The two victims are part-owners of it. So are the McDonoughs. Silent partners.”

“Well, son of a bitch. I’m right?”

Colin laughed, but while it was sexy sounding, it wasn’t really with humor. “Looks like it.”

* * *

Colin yawned widely and scrubbed a hand over his face as he doctored his second cup of coffee. He always had trouble sleeping in hotels, but he’d been so tired from working the nightclub scene the night before he’d crashed as soon as his head hit the pillow. Delia had woken him from a sound sleep, and then after their conversation, he hadn’t been able to settle back down for all the erotic thoughts sizzling in his brain.

He should’ve been focused on the case, but he’d been haunted by her words and his imagination had taken over. He’d never fantasized about dominating her before, but now, he couldn’t get it out of his mind. Dee, bound and gagged. Dee, facedown over a spanking bench. Dee, strapped to one of those crosses. He hadn’t known what an intact one looked like, but he knew now. You could get one hell of an education on the internet.

As he took another bracing sip of his high-test coffee, the woman who’d monopolized his mind all night walked into their temporary office, looking as though she’d had a solid night’s sleep. Unfair, damn it.

“Morning, Colin.”

He grunted, and she raised one sleek eyebrow at him.

“Rough night?”

He grunted again. “You could say that.”

She winced and dropped her bag onto her desk with a loud thunk. “Yeah, sorry about calling so late. Have you gotten any more info about the car bomb yesterday?”

“Not yet.” He leaned against his borrowed desk, watching Dee get herself a cup of coffee. She’d forsaken her uniform for a soft-looking moss-green shirt that matched her eyes and clung to her curves, and a pair of slim jeans tucked into suede boots the same color as the shirt. Her hair was pulled back in a loose braid, and her lips were glossed a pale peach. She wore her shield clipped to her belt, her weapon at her right hip. Sexy, feminine, deadly. It was a heady combination.

She put her cup down and leaned against her desk, facing him. “Why are you staring at me like that?”

“Like what?”

She flushed. “As if you’re imagining me naked.”

His brows rose, his dick throbbed and his voice lowered. “In the office, Delia? Would I do something like that?”

She wadded up a piece of paper and threw it at him. “Yes, you pervert.”

He caught it in one hand as he pushed himself away from the desk, stepping forward until their feet were nearly touching. “That’s assault on a law enforcement officer. I could put you in cuffs for that.”

His words and tone were a deliberate taunt, a dare, and they hit their mark. The color on her face deepened and her eyes widened. She let out a little half laugh as he came even closer, straddling her outstretched legs, trapping her between her desk and his body.

“W-what are you doing?”

He dipped his head and growled in her ear. “You’re right, you know. I don’t know much about bondage, so I did some research last night. Read a bunch of articles. Looked at pictures. I even found one of a redhead strapped to a cross. She didn’t have your body, so instead I imagined it was you, naked and bound, your feet wide and your body open for me to see how wet you were.”

Her whole body shivered, and he swore he could almost hear the pulse pounding in her neck. Could see it, anyway.

He was glad their temporary office was down at the end of a dead-end hallway, and no one would pass by here accidentally, because the sound of her unsteady breathing made his cock even harder. Yeah, they were in the office and on duty, but he had to touch her, get closer to her, even if only in a small way. He slid one hand up her arm, wishing the soft shirt wasn’t hiding her even softer skin. He remembered that feel, craved it sometimes as he lay in his bed in the dark, alone.

She trembled and her breath quickened, but otherwise she was still and silent. Above the low scoop neckline of her shirt, he drew his fingers lightly over her collarbone, to the small notch where her necklace lay. He got a jolt when he realized it held the tiny gold four-leaf clover he’d given her on a whim one day.

“You still wear this?” he murmured.

“E-every day.” Her voice was uneven, and her color still high. “Colin, I—”

“Shh.” He rubbed the charm between his thumb and finger and settled it back against her throat. “I’m glad.”

He continued to trace her skin, skimming his knuckles against the swell of her breasts, over her swollen nipple through the soft shirt and back up the side of her throat until he tangled his fingers in her hair.

She licked her lips and looked at him with wild, wide eyes, and he was lost.

He lowered his head and kissed her lightly, growling deep in the back of his throat. She tasted like coffee flavored with her favorite hazelnut creamer, sweet and rich. Need pounded through his veins and he increased the pressure, urging her to open to him. She parted her lips and he swallowed the moan that came from her mouth.

She put her hands flat against his chest, but to his utter and complete shock, instead of pushing him away, she tightened them into fists that grabbed his shirt and pulled him closer. Their tongues touched and he felt the jolt straight to his balls.

The kiss went on, blissfully unhurried, until his cell phone rang, breaking the potent moment. Dee sprang back, breathing hard, her face nearly as red as her hair. Not with embarrassment, though. Guilt.

The same guilt that clenched his own gut and warmed his ears. “I’m—”

“Don’t apologize.” She pointed at his waist when the phone chimed again. “You’d better get that.”

He frowned but picked up the call, watching her every movement as he listened to his boss rant about lack of progress in the case. He was so focused on her, on the protective arms crossed over her chest and her bowed head, that he missed part of the conversation. One word, though, caught his attention. Undercover.

“Could you repeat that, sir?”

Dee looked up from her computer, and they locked eyes.

A giant ball of stress settled in his stomach while he listened to his boss’s directive. “Yes, sir. I’ll check my email. Yes, I’ll keep you posted.” He disconnected and clipped his phone back to his belt.

“What’s up?”

He took his time answering, using the fifteen seconds it took him to walk around the desk, sit down and open his email program to collect his scattered thoughts. “With this latest incident, they want us to step up the investigation.”

She frowned. “We’re working as fast as we can. What more do they expect, given it’s just you and me looking at it?”

“Now that we’ve found a likely pattern, they’re putting together a full task force. They want us to brief everyone on what we have, get them started chasing down leads. I’ll send you the email.” He looked up at her. “And then they want us to get on the inside track.”

Understanding dawned in her eyes. “Undercover? You and me?”

“Yeah.”

Two clicks and ten seconds later, he heard her computer ding. While she read the note he’d just forwarded, he ran through some scenarios. A bondage club seemed the easiest and most likely way to get them a foot in the door. Then an unsettling thought crossed his mind. Did Delia already have a presence in that world? She knew an awful lot about it, more than he figured she’d shared with him. He slid a glance her way, his stomach tight at the thought, possession clawing at his insides, tearing his calm to shreds. The idea of her tied up didn’t bother him in a bad way. It made him hungry for her, and hard as stone, intrigued on many levels. But the thought of who’d introduced her to that life? That didn’t sit well.

He must have made some kind of noise, because she looked up and flinched. “What?”

“Who taught you about it, Dee?” he growled.

She frowned, looking truly puzzled. “About what?”

“About bondage. Who did you trust enough to allow him to tie you up? Because it sure as hell wasn’t me.”

Her eyes widened, and for a minute he thought the top might blow off her head. And his dick, but he ignored that part. Instead, she laughed. Laughed, tweaking his tail and sending his blood pressure skyward.

“You think that’s funny?”

“I think the fact that you’re acting all possessive about it is hysterical. We broke up a year ago, so who I date and what I do is none of your business. And I’ve told you more than once that what I know, I learned from cases. I don’t know why you don’t believe me.”

Frustration zinged through him. “Because you get this look in your eye every time we run across something bondage-related. When I told you about what we saw at the club, your eyes lit up and your whole body went rigid and aroused. It’s the same look you got in that hedonistic bathroom in Baltimore. You know more about all of this than you’re letting on.”

Her eyes widened innocently. “So, for the sake of the investigation, you want me to bare my soul to you, tell you my deepest, darkest secrets? It’s important for the case for you to understand what I could possibly find sexy about being bound and gagged?”

His jaw tightened at her low, sultry tone, and his heart pounded triple time.

She cocked her head, staring at him as if she could see right through him. “Tying me up holds some appeal for you?”

“Right now, punishment sounds even better,” he muttered. “I get it. Fuck, I know I have no claim to you and what you do anymore. I’m just trying to figure out how the hell to get us into this world I know nothing about.”

“Now I’m the one who doesn’t believe you. There’s no just about any of this.” She relented, shaking her head. “I’ll tell you, not that it’s really any of your business personally, but because I see the reason how this could help the case. Are you listening, because I’m only going to say this once?”

He nodded.

“I don’t have any personal experience. I’ve never been tied up, I’ve never been flogged and I’ve never been dominated by anyone. Sorry to disappoint you.”

“I’m not disappointed,” he said, and it was the absolute God’s honest truth. Relief poured through him, and why the hell was that? He pushed that self-revelation away. He’d deal with it later. “But that’s going to make this undercover gig harder, because I was hoping you had some way into this world, and some comfort level with it.”

Her sexy, smug smile took his breath away and sent another stab of lust low in his gut. “I didn’t say that. I said I had no experience with it, and that’s true. But I do know someone who might be able to help us out. And there’s nothing wrong with my comfort level.”