Forbidden Fires (Bondage & Breakfast)
Author:Jodie Griffin

chapter Eight



“What just happened out there, Delia?” Colin asked softly, standing just inside the threshold of the room. She still looked shaky, and he couldn’t believe it. Dee was a tough-as-nails detective, and she’d turned a whiter shade of her always-pale before McConnell had played the protector card.

Not that Colin was going to complain about that. As a matter of fact, it made him feel a little better about the whole setup and what he was asking Dee to do for the job, especially considering the connection they’d found yesterday between McConnell and the homeowners. It wasn’t proof he was innocent, but if McConnell was willing to turn away paying customers before they even set foot in the door, then it was likely this really was what Aiello said, a safe place for people into kink to play.

She dropped to the edge of the bed and buried her face in her hands.

His heart stuttered. He sat down next to her on the bed, hesitating briefly before putting his hand on her back. “If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, then we don’t do it. We’ll find another way to get in.”

She shook her head vehemently. “No. We need to. And I want to. That’s what happened.”

He frowned. “I don’t understand.”

“I’m a little worried about McConnell’s role in all this, but I can handle that part.” Her wide eyes met his, pleading, begging for understanding. “But I want to know what D/s is all about. I wish to hell I could be completely professional and say everything that goes on here this weekend will be about the job, but I can’t. It won’t be. And I froze, because now you’ll know.”

He’d once taken an accidental, unexpected blow to the chest during training, and he’d been so stunned he’d been unable to breathe. That was how her admission felt.

“Jesus.” He rubbed a hand over his jaw. “Why didn’t you ever tell me how you felt? What you wanted?”

“When I first met you, I didn’t know you well enough to share something that personal. And then by the time I got to know you better, things were already rocky between us. I didn’t think it was relevant at that point. We had bigger issues.” She shoved her hair back, out of her eyes, and dropped her gaze to the floor again. “We have even bigger issues now.”

No shit.

He reached over, cupped her chin as McConnell had done in the driveway and forced her gaze to his, going for pure honesty. “I’m only going to ask one more time, and not because I think you’re incapable. I’m asking because I care about you. Can you handle doing this with me, in spite of our history? In spite of the fact that McConnell may be involved?”

She took a long, almost uncomfortable look into his eyes, searching for something, blew out a long breath and squared her shoulders. “Yep. Let’s get to it.”

Profound relief warred with blatant desire. “Attagirl.”

* * *

Three places were set at one of the small tables dotting the dining room. It would be tight, intimate, but Colin supposed that suited the purpose of this inn just fine. Gabe McConnell stood near the window looking outside. The guy was probably early forties but looked younger except for the gray streaking his hair at the temples. Athletically built but not bulky, more like a runner or a martial artist. He didn’t look like a serial arsonist, but appearances could be deceiving.

“Have a seat, please.” McConnell gestured to the table and lifted two covered plates off the buffet.

Colin held out Dee’s chair for her. After she sat, he bent down and nuzzled her bare neck, a spot he knew was extremely sensitive to her. He’d spent one entire Sunday teasing her there until she’d been ready to kill him. She jumped, but luckily McConnell was facing away from them. He tightened his fingers on her shoulder in warning, and she relaxed slightly.

He sat down next to her, his knee brushing hers under the table, then slipped an arm around her shoulder and started fiddling with the strap of her barely-there black dress.

McConnell set plates of steaming Italian food in front of them, then turned back and grabbed a plate for himself. He sat at the table and poured the wine.

“So, some basic information about Bondage and Breakfast,” he said, lifting his glass of wine for a sip. “We follow safe, sane and consensual rules of play here, with a heavy emphasis on consensual. Safe words are required, and I will stop a scene if I think it’s gotten out of hand. I’m sure you think I was overreacting outside earlier, but safety is my top concern for my guests.”

Colin kept his voice mild. “I didn’t care for the implication that I’d force Delia in any way, but I can appreciate your position.”

McConnell inclined his head. “Tell me what brings you here.”

Time to up the ante. “I’ll let my wife explain. Frankly, I don’t think we should be here, but I agreed to it for Delia’s sake.”

McConnell’s eyebrow rose, but he remained silent.

“I’ve always been interested in domination and submission, but I never thought Colin would go for it. Last month, we were at a party and some interesting things went on there. To my surprise, Colin was as turned on as I was.”

He was suitably impressed when she turned her wide eyes to him, then looked back at the inn’s owner. He knew what McConnell would see in them—trepidation, hopefulness, innocence. She was one hell of an actress, and if Colin hadn’t known the end game, he’d be ready to help her do whatever she wanted.

“But he’s got this possessive, overprotective streak, and thinks D/s sounds abusive. I’ve tried to explain that it’s different. It’s a good pain, or at least I think it is, but he won’t even try.”

He reached out and stroked a finger down Delia’s soft cheek, then turned to McConnell, who was watching them with hooded eyes. “I told Delia I’d give her this weekend to see if we both can live with what she wants.”

McConnell nodded. “Okay. However, I reserve the right to call a halt if I think you—and I mean either one of you—are being emotionally damaged by what’s going on here. Safe, sane and consensual isn’t just for the sub. It’s also applicable for the Dom.”

“Fair enough,” Colin replied, taking another bite of his dinner. In spite of his overall concerns about this whole undercover gig, he was impressed by McConnell’s policies. And he wasn’t getting any hinky vibes from McConnell either, as though the guy was just stringing them along. He seemed sincere.

McConnell turned to Dee. “Tell me what kind of Dom/sub relationship you’re looking for, Delia. In your sexual relationship only?”

“Mostly in the bedroom, but maybe a little bit of outside of it too.”

What the fuck? Colin looked over at Delia, whose cheeks were tipped with pink. “What the hell does that mean?”

A small smile crossed McConnell’s lips. “Some subs prefer to be dominated in all aspects of their life. What they wear, what they eat, where they go and sometimes even who their friends are. They make the conscious decision to give their dominant partner full power over their decisions, 24/7.”

Colin’s back molars ground together in instinctive denial, and his shock wasn’t an act as he turned to Dee. “And you want this? You want me to tell you who you can be friends with? That doesn’t seem like you, babe.”

“I only said a little,” she said defensively. “No way are you telling me who I can be friends with or where I can go. But what to wear?” She squirmed in her seat, fiddled with her wineglass.

To say he was stunned was an understatement. This was an undercover op, sure, but he knew in his heart she was also speaking truth here, sharing bits and pieces of her real desires, and it set his blood on fire. “And the food thing?”

She flushed a deep red. “As a general rule, no. But as a one-time scene? Yes.”

McConnell’s grin widened. “This is going to be fun.”

He couldn’t hold back the growl that rose from his chest, and Delia turned to him, alarm on her face. “Colin?”

Without any conscious thought on his part, he shoved his chair back and stood, reaching for her hand. “We’re leaving.”

* * *

Delia couldn’t decide if Colin was simply playing his role, or really upset by McConnell’s words. She looked in his eyes, wild and stormy. Some of it was a role, but it was truly overlaid by real feelings. Shit, he was jealous? “Colin, please,” she said softly. “I don’t want to go.”

Gabe McConnell spoke up, his voice dry. “Your wife is right about your possessive tendencies, Mr. Reardon. This could be an issue. When I work with a couple, I’m often touching the submissive partner as I show the dominant one how to tie knots safely, or how to administer punishments.”

Her heart pounded at what he described while Colin glared at him, still standing.

His display of jealousy gave her a sliver of hope they might have another chance at being together, but now was so not the time for thoughts like that. They had to get this show back on track, though, because they had a serial killer to catch. Maybe McConnell, although she wasn’t getting that kind of read on him. So she rolled her eyes, playing the frustrated card. “Colin, please. We talked about this. You said you would give it a chance.”

Colin turned to her, and she tried to telegraph calm down to him with just a look. He got it too, and finally he sat back in the chair. But he didn’t let go of her hand, and even pulled her closer so she was nearly sitting on top of him.

He cupped her cheek and dropped a small kiss on it. “I’ll do it for you, but I don’t like it. And for the record, I’m not happy about another man touching you. I won’t promise not to rip his fucking head off if he gets too personal.”

McConnell raised an eyebrow. “Your dominant side just might be as strong as mine, I think.”

“Count on it,” Colin muttered.

McConnell grinned wickedly. “I will. We’ll start with the basics. Safe words are rule number one. Sometimes, in a scene, a sub will cry no when what she really means is yes, or don’t stop. Delia, to make sure you really mean stop, you need to pick a safe word, something that wouldn’t come up in the course of normal conversation. Colin will stop what’s he’s doing, and the scene will end. You can use red to stop or you can pick a word that has meaning to you.”

She’d already thought about this, so the word slipped from her lips before he even finished his sentence. “Shamrock.”

Colin’s eyes flared and dipped to her neck. She’d taken off her four-leaf-clover charm—her shamrock—for this operation because its simplicity didn’t fit their undercover roles, but he knew why she’d picked it.

“Good,” McConnell continued. “Shamrock it is. Colin, if Delia says shamrock, there’s something wrong with the scene. It’s too close to her limits, something hurts in a bad way or she’s freaked out. You hear it, you stop. This is nonnegotiable.”

Colin grimaced. “Understood.”

“And you’re going to have a safe word too. You’re new to this, and role-play can get emotional. Not just for the sub, but for the Dom.” He shrugged at Colin’s surprised look. “Delia’s giving you complete control over her physical and emotional well-being, and that’s a lot of responsibility. If you think you’re at a point where something’s not working for you, or you think Delia is too far into the scene to realize she should be using her safe word, you use yours to stop the scene. This is also nonnegotiable, at least while you’re here.”

She swallowed hard as Colin turned hot, heavy eyes on her. “Tree house.”

Her stomach flip-flopped. On the last trip they’d taken together, they’d spent a weekend in the woods in a romantic tree house, cut off from the world before everything had fallen apart.

“Perfect. Stand up, Delia,” McConnell said, a touch of steel in those last three words.

Her body started to shake. She turned her eyes to Colin first, and when he gave an imperceptible nod, she stood, trying not to let her knees knock together.

“That’s a lovely dress you’re wearing. It’d be a shame to mess it up,” McConnell murmured. He turned his focus back to Colin, almost dismissing her. “Wouldn’t you like it if your wife served you dinner naked? Or in nothing but heels and an apron? Depending on how far you take D/s in your life, you can require she be naked from the minute she walks in the door at night. Those are some of the basics you’ll have to discuss between yourselves. You’ll also have to discuss your limits. There will be things Delia will consider an absolute no, or things you will. Those are hard limits, a line you don’t cross. If she’s willing to try something, but is unsure she’ll like it, that’s a soft limit. You can push those, but you need to be ultra-aware of her reactions. It’s your responsibility to respect the boundaries she’s set. Once you know what her boundaries are, you tell her what you expect from her, and she does it. If she doesn’t do it or use her safe word, she gets punished.”

Delia’s body heated up from her toes to the face she was sure was flaming, and the hottest part of her was her core. She was on fire from the inside out, all because of talk about limits and punishments.

“For now, however, let’s move on. A Dom often requires his sub to address him a certain way. Sir or Master are the usual two. Again, that’s up to you. Is there something you want Delia to call you?”

She looked over at Colin and saw the devil at play in his eyes. “Supreme Exalted High Ruler of the Household will do.”

“In. Your. Dreams,” she retorted.

Colin laughed, and though he tried to hide it, even Gabe McConnell grinned.

“We’ll use Sir for you tonight.” He turned to her, his grin completely subdued, his face serious. “Rule number two. From now on, when Colin asks you a question, you refer to him as Sir. And when I ask you a question, you refer to me as Master Gabriel. Is that understood, Delia?”

She nodded.

His voice snaked out like a whip, flaying her senses. “Excuse me? I asked you a question.”

“Yes, Master Gabriel,” she amended quickly. The words felt strange on her tongue, but good, too, in a very arousing way.

“Better. Take off your dress.”

Her heart nearly stopped, and she froze. Jesus, could she do this? Really?

“Is that necessary?” Colin growled, his hands clenched into fists on the table. His eyes smoldered, though, and red tinged his cheeks. Her heart started beating again, but double-time. That color wasn’t how he looked when he got angry, it was how he looked when he was aroused.

That sign gave her the courage to put her fingers to the single tie that held her dress together.

“It is. Clothing is a shield. Remove that shield and the person becomes vulnerable. It also puts you and me in a dominant position and Delia in a submissive one.”

Colin flexed his fists on the table, but kept his eyes glued on hers.

The inherent power in the moment was stunning. She’d assumed that, in this submissive role, she’d have no power, but the opposite was true. She could use her safe word to call an end to things, or she could choose to comply. The choice was hers, and therefore so was the power.

“Take off your dress,” Master Gabriel repeated, his voice brooking no argument.

She followed his words but ignored him otherwise and kept her eyes locked on Colin’s. She tugged at the ties until they were loose, then drew them apart. Jitters made her fingers tremble. It had been a full year since he’d seen her naked, but he’d never seen her quite like this.

Underneath her dress she had on thigh-high silk stockings, a sheer lace demi-bra that didn’t quite cover her nipples, and tiny thong panties that showed off where, exactly, she’d been waxed. She was honest enough to admit, at least to herself, that she’d chosen the clothing with Colin’s reaction in mind. Vanity, thy name is Delia.

“Jesus,” Colin swore, and the heated sound made her nipples bead.

Master Gabriel let out a low, appreciative whistle. “You’re a lucky man, Reardon.”

Reardon. The sound of their undercover name was like a splash of cold water, helping to keep her mind focused on the job they had to do, including trying to figure out whether or not McConnell had caused ten deaths. Hands somewhat steadier, she finished removing her dress and held it, unsure what to do with it.

“Fold it and put it on the sideboard,” Master Gabriel ordered.

Her stomach clenched. She really hoped McConnell wasn’t guilty, because she was going to have to walk across the room, giving him—and Colin—a view of her ass covered by nothing but a thin strip of lace between her cheeks. A shiver ran down her spine, raising goose bumps on her flesh, but she did his bidding.

Colin’s sucked-in breath made her stumble in her heels, and she dropped the dress from her shaking hands. Damn. She closed her eyes, bending at her knees so she could pick up the bundle, but Master Gabriel snapped out another order.

“Stop.”

She froze in her tracks.

“Tell your wife what you’d like for her to do, Reardon.”

Heat rushed into her face and chest, making her dizzy. She looked back over her shoulder. Both Colin and Master Gabriel were watching her. Colin’s eyes blazed with fire, but Master Gabriel’s gaze was cool, remote, as if he were sizing her up. That calculating look threw her for a moment, but she swallowed hard and forced herself to ignore it.

Colin raised an eyebrow, and the wolfish grin on his face was almost her undoing. “Feet shoulder-width apart. Then bend at the waist so I can see how wet those panties are. This is really turning you on, isn’t it, love?” The question surprised her, and before she could form her reply, Colin barked out his demand. “I asked you a question, Delia. And I expect an answer.”

She stared at him, dumbfounded. He’s discovered his inner Dom. Her body flashed hot all over. “Yes, Sir.”

His eyes flared brightly. “Bend over to get the dress, but don’t pick it up yet.”

“Y-yes, Sir.” She widened her stance and then bent, moaning as the strip of the thong tightened against her bare crotch.

There was murmuring behind her, and then footsteps.

Colin gripped her left hip, his fingers pressing deep enough to sting, and she bit back a cry. God, that felt great. Then his other hand coasted along the lace in the crease of her ass, teasing her skin with the rough pads of his fingertips. Jesus, it was so easy to get lost in this, in these incredible feelings. Would it really be so bad if she let herself go this weekend, to become Delia Reardon and give in to all her indulgences?

Yes.

She shivered, and froze as an errant thought crossed her mind. It was Colin touching her, right?

Or was it Master Gabriel?

Her stomach twisted, but she made herself remember Marcus’s words. He’d known McConnell for years, believed he’d never be capable of something as heinous as these fires, and she’d known Marcus even longer and trusted his judgment. She trusted her own too, for the most part, and she hadn’t gotten any malevolent vibes off Gabe McConnell. With a deep breath to calm her nerves, she let herself just feel, and found herself hotter and wetter than ever.

All rational thought fled when Colin’s—or Master Gabriel’s—fingers dipped easily inside her moist sheath, stroking her to the point of almost-no-return. She hovered right on the verge of orgasm, with Colin’s name trapped in her throat. She opened her mouth to scream as she reached the edge.

And then he stopped.