Forbidden Fires (Bondage & Breakfast)
Author:Jodie Griffin

chapter Seven



Delia sat on a bench in Baker Park, waiting nervously for Marcus Aiello to arrive. She’d known him a long time, had been a year behind him in school. He was one of the best firefighters around, a top-notch paramedic and a genuinely nice guy to boot. But it wasn’t his job or that facet of his personality that brought him to mind.

She’d seen him recently, at a housewarming party for mutual friends. He’d been with a pretty, dark-haired woman wearing an engagement ring. Delia hadn’t meant to spy on them, really she hadn’t, but when she headed upstairs to use the bathroom, she saw them at the end of the hallway and froze to the spot.

The woman boldly cupped the erection Delia could see straining against Marcus’s jeans, and twisted the fingers of her other hand in a leather choker around his neck. Marcus’s cheeks were red, and his body and hands were flat against the wall, unmoving except for his heaving chest.

“I own this cock, don’t I?” the woman said.

“Yes, ma’am,” Marcus replied, his Adam’s apple bobbing as he swallowed.

“And if I told you to turn around so I could play with the plug in your ass, would you do it?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Even with our audience?”

Dee flinched. Busted.

His eyes met hers, widened slightly in panic when he realized who it was watching them. She’d never have guessed Marcus was submissive, but he was what he was. And at least he was being honest with his partner, not like she’d been with Colin. She didn’t know why she didn’t leave right away, didn’t give them their privacy, but she locked eyes with him, incredibly turned on by the scene in front of her.

Marcus blinked once, then gave a slight nod. He turned his eyes back to the woman wearing his ring, his voice husky. “Yes, ma’am.”

She’d left then, but that scene had stayed with her. In the course of their respective jobs, she’d run into him a few times, but they’d never mentioned what had happened.

She was so lost in thought she didn’t notice him until he sat on the bench beside her.

“Hey, Delia. I was surprised to get your call. Is everything okay?”

She took a deep breath and jumped in the deep end with both feet. “Everything is fine, but I’m working with the state fire marshal on a case and I need your help.”

“I’m flattered, but shouldn’t this request go through my boss first?”

She smiled tightly. “I don’t think you’re going to want me to go through official channels. I don’t need your fire expertise for this. And you may not be willing or able to help me, but then again, you may.”

Marcus looked completely baffled. “I have no idea what you’re talking about, Dee. Just spit it out.”

She felt herself turn beet red. “Do you and your fiancée play at any bondage clubs?”

His whole body jerked as if she’d struck him, and he scowled. “Excuse me?”

“I wouldn’t ask if it weren’t important.”

He blew out a deep breath. “Why do you need to know?”

“My partner and I need an in, and he was thinking a club. High-end, big money. This is confidential information I’m sharing, but each of the fires we’re investigating has bondage elements to it. Rich people, fancy club, and some fires were in estate homes with private dungeons.”

He whistled, slid a look in her direction. “We don’t run with that crowd. Hell, I’m a hose jockey, and Bella’s a librarian. We don’t make the kind of money that goes with fancy. And we don’t play at any local clubs because of our jobs in the community. So you’re looking to go undercover?”

“Yeah.”

“Since you’re asking me about clubs, I guess you’ve never been part of the public D/s scene?”

A snort burst free. “I’ve never been part of any D/s scene.” She paused. “Other than what I saw between you and Bella, and what I’ve read.”

He leaned forward, hands clasped loosely between his thighs, deep concern on his expressive face. “Dee, how do you think you’re going to pull something like this off, if you have no experience?”

“I have no idea, but we have to try. We have ten victims, and something has to give.” She swallowed hard, forced herself to meet his solemn eyes, to speak the truth when it would be so much easier and less painful to lie. “And what I lack in experience, I make up for in interest and desire.”

He sat back again, gave her a long, assessing look that made her squirm, and finally nodded. “I may have an in for you, but it isn’t going to be easy. What’s your relationship like with your partner? You comfortable getting naked with him?”

* * *

“Let me get this straight. We’re going to take a bondage class at a bed and breakfast in Virginia? How is this going to help our case here, in Maryland?”

They were sitting in his hotel room, him on one bed, her on the other. It wasn’t an ideal meeting place, but he sure as hell wasn’t having this conversation in the office.

Delia sprang from the bed and paced the floor. “My friend said the guy who runs this place is Dom who gives lessons to people interested in exploring what BDSM means, but don’t know how or where to start. He’s something of a local expert, and he knows people and clubs. He knows what we need to know.”

“So why don’t we just get the information we need from him, and go in from there? Why lessons?” He watched her pace, could almost see the wheels spinning in that amazing brain of hers. She was leading up to something.

“Have you ever tied someone up? Think you could pass for a Dom in a club?” A sexy, sly look landed on her face. “Or a sub? I could be the Domme.”

“Over. My. Dead. Body.”

“And that’s exactly what I’m trying to avoid,” she said quietly, all humor gone from her face. “Any more dead bodies. If we want to attract the right kind of notice, we have to look like we know what we’re doing.”

She was right, he knew that. He was quiet for a minute, thinking about the information she’d gleaned from the source she hadn’t shared with him. She mistook his silence for hesitation, and continued pleading her case.

“I know this is going to be awkward and uncomfortable since we have to pretend to be lovers again.”

Arousal zinged through him. Those weren’t exactly the words he’d use. Yes, it was a case. Yes, the situation was deadly serious and he’d do this to stop a killer even if his partner wasn’t Delia Robinson. But the thing was, it was Delia Robinson, the woman he’d never been able to erase from his mind. The woman he feared had ruined him for all other women. The woman who still owned a huge chunk of his heart. It wasn’t awkward or uncomfortable that gave him pause.

It was pretend.

He forced himself to focus. “That’s not why I’m questioning it. If D/s is anything like I’ve read over the past few days, you and I are going to get closer than we’ve ever been. Emotionally, and physically. And it’s going to be hard to keep the lid on our personal shit.”

She frowned at him, her mouth an angry slash. “Are you questioning my ability to do my job again, to be professional?”

He laughed, the sound flat and humorless. “Hell, no. I’m questioning mine.”

Her mouth opened and closed, but no words came out. She looked shocked, then intrigued and then totally flustered. “I have no idea what to say to that.”

“Don’t say anything. Let’s just figure out how we’re going to approach this, and get things moving.”

* * *

It was amazing how fast things could happen when the brass decided to kick things into high gear. Within a few days, their small borrowed office had been traded for the large conference room to handle the influx of new team members. Laptops, printouts and coffee cups littered the tables in controlled chaos.

When she’d been asked her opinion about a local firefighter to add to the team, Dee had suggested Marcus Aiello. He’d joined them yesterday afternoon, and Colin thought the guy seemed both capable and smart. And he’d admitted he was the one to suggest the B&B to Delia, too, so he seemed like a good resource. Colin wasn’t sure how he felt about the looks that passed between them, but any worries about competition had been quashed when the guy had taken a call from his soon-to-be wife. Not that he should be worrying about shit like that, but there it was.

A state trooper, another fire marshal and a deputy from each of the counties that had had an incident rounded out their team.

Colin looked over at Delia, who was talking quietly with Aiello on the opposite side of the room, away from everyone else. He felt his gut clench, then mentally smacked himself for the stupidity. This was work, and the guy was as good as married. They fell silent when he stopped beside Dee, and his gut twisted again.

“Got anything?” He forced his voice to stay level, but he must not have been successful because Delia frowned.

Aiello shook his head. “Not yet, but Dee and I were just talking about your plans for the undercover piece of this. I don’t like the idea of keeping your real purpose from Gabe McConnell. He’s a good guy, a friend, and he was a hell of a firefighter. He’ll tell you what you need to know to pull this off, without any problems. If he knows people in the lifestyle are being targeted, he’ll want to help.”

Colin shook his head. “I was considering it, but this came in while you were out looking at the bomb scene.”

He handed the printout to Aiello, and Dee read over his shoulder, her eyes rounding.

Aiello crushed the paper in his had. “No fucking way. This doesn’t mean anything, I’m telling you.”

Colin lifted a shoulder. “The brass thinks it might. Other than the wealth angle, which may or may not have anything to do with this, the only thing all these people appear to have in common is a stay at Bondage and Breakfast. We’re still sorting through all the financials to see if there’s any other link, but we ran credit card statements, and the homeowners each stayed there the same weekend two months ago. They all know him, Aiello. He’s the only common link we have. And the fact that he’s a former firefighter doesn’t rule him out, according to the profile we were given.”

“Fuck me, I’m telling you, he’s not involved.” Aiello scrubbed a palm over his tight jaw. “And even though I’m not a trained investigator like the two of you, I’m going to do my damnedest to prove it.”

“Good,” Colin said, nearly smiling at the look of surprise on the firefighter’s face. “To be honest, it doesn’t ring true to me either. Which is the only reason we’re still going undercover there. Like you, I think it’d be better if we tell McConnell what and why, but I’ve been overruled.”

Dee bit her lip then touched Aiello’s arm. “You trust him around Bella?”

The sense of possession Colin thought had died a year ago burst forth, and he wanted to step between them, severing even that light contact. He forced the impulse back, because he wanted to hear Aiello’s answer too. Needed to hear it, because now he was questioning his own instincts, and that wasn’t good.

Aiello nodded, and his face showed fierce belief in what he was saying. “I trust him with Bella’s life, and she means the world to me. I’m telling you, Dee, they’re wrong. Gabe isn’t capable of this.”

“Okay,” she said, easing away from them. “In that case, I need to head out for a couple of hours. I’ll be back by two.”

Colin found himself staring at her ass, the curve of her hip, the length of her legs as she left the conference room. She was gone before he even thought to ask her where she was going.

When he turned back, Aiello was staring after her too. Jesus, he needed to do some serious work on his impulse control, because he wanted to wipe the appreciative look right off the guy’s face. And once they were undercover at some club or party, there would be a fuckload of people staring at more than her jeans-covered ass.

* * *

Delia stared out the window of the low-slung sports car they’d been given to use for this op, looking up at the beautiful home Marcus had told them was a B&B catering to people in the BDSM lifestyle. There was no sign, just as Marcus had said, but she recognized it from his description.

She couldn’t believe she and Colin were really doing this. The fact that this was for the job was even more mind-blowing. If her partner had been anyone but Colin, she’d have to think long and hard about whether she could do it.

But it was Colin, the man who starred in all her D/s fantasies, and hopefully that would be enough. Even if it was just for work.

Colin circled the front of the car and came around to her side. Still unsure whether or not income level played any part in this case, they’d erred on the side of caution. He was dressed like a businessman, in a well-cut suit and tie, his often-unruly hair tamed by a professional haircut and style. With a tight smile, he opened her door and helped her out, which wasn’t easy with the ice-pick heels and short dress she was wearing. “It’s showtime.”

She swallowed, staring at the outrageously sexy man in front of her. He looked the same, but also like a stranger. His personality usually ran warm, but today he was cool and in control. She shivered as his hand cupped her elbow, holding her possessively.

A tall, fit man stepped out onto the wide front porch, dressed in dark dress pants and a dark shirt, a warm, welcoming smile on his face. His utter assurance and watchful eyes told her this was the man they were here to see. He strode down the stairs and met them at the driveway.

“Mr. and Mrs. Reardon? I’m Gabe McConnell.” He held out his hand. “Welcome to Bondage and Breakfast.”

Colin shook it. “Colin Reardon, and this is my wife, Delia.”

She had to force herself not to flinch at the sound of their undercover names. She wasn’t used to being a Mrs. anyone, but they’d decided married was the best cover they could go with.

“Very nice to meet you both,” he said, reaching out to shake her hand as well. “As you requested, Mr. Reardon, you’re my only guests tonight. I’ve ordered dinner be brought in. As soon as you’re settled in, we can begin.”

Her stomach clenched. This was really going to happen. She was trusting Marcus’s opinion and Colin’s gut, but what if they were wrong and McConnell was their arsonist? Colin started to walk, but she was rooted to the spot and didn’t move an inch. Couldn’t move an inch. When Colin reached for her arm, she pulled it back. Shit, she wasn’t ready yet, and not just because of McConnell. She stared at her feet wondering when, exactly, she’d become a coward.

A hand cupped her chin lightly, lifting her face. To her utter shock, it wasn’t Colin, but Gabe McConnell, and she flinched. She flicked her eyes to Colin, who looked as stunned as she felt.

“One moment, please, Mr. Reardon,” McConnell murmured, searching her face, meeting her eyes. “Mrs. Reardon, do you want to be here?”

Colin’s eyes widened, and his incredulity wasn’t completely feigned. “Excuse me?”

McConnell met Colin’s gaze, held it for a long, tense moment, and when he spoke, his voice was diamond hard and just as sharp. “Your wife looks uncomfortable to be here, and it doesn’t seem as though she wants to go inside. Yes, Bondage and Breakfast caters to Doms and subs, but submission needs to be completely consensual. I won’t have it any other way. I’ve turned away couples from this class before for exactly that reason.” His voice softened as he turned back to her. “So I’ll ask the question again. Do you want to be here, Mrs. Reardon?”

Delia could hear the thread of steel in his voice and knew if she answered no, there would be no lessons. Since that went against the reason they were here in the first place, she needed to speak up, to get a damn grip, before he turned them away. “I’m sorry. I do want to be here,” she said softly, looking over at Colin. “Just nerves, I guess. I’ve wanted this for a long time.” Truer words had never been spoken.

“Are you sure?” he asked, locking eyes with her as if he were reading her soul, ignoring Colin completely.

If someone asked her, at that very moment, if McConnell was guilty or innocent, she’d have placed her whole bet on innocent. He was either exactly the kind of man Marcus had said he was, or he was a very good at covering up his true nature. “Positive.”

He nodded once, let go of her chin and headed up the stairs.





previous 1.. 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 ..16 next