“Hmm,” I say. “What if I break a window and escape while you’re gone? Will my stepfather’s band of mercenaries come stop me?” I smile, because I know he was lying about that.
“No. The windows are actually shatterproof. But you can give it your best.”
“Nice try.” I laugh.
He picks a silver candlestick up off a nearby table and hurls it at the closest window. There’s a loud bang, but the window does not break.
He smiles, proud of his little display. “Like I said, your choice. But in ten seconds I’m gonna take that decision away from you and then I’m gonna leave and never come back.”
Do I want to be here alone? Not really. But I could handle it. It’s no big deal.
“Ten,” he says, counting down.
But the real question is… do I want him to leave?
And that is a firm no. Mason Macintyre might be the most interesting thing to ever happen to me. And even though he drugged me, abducted me, spanked me, and then made me squirt all over the bed, and his hand, and myself—I liked it. All of it.
So when he gets to the count of three, I stand up and walk down. He adds a zero at the end of his countdown so I’m standing in front of him just in time.
And you know what that says about him?
That he’s fair.
And that’s a nice change from most of the people I’ve been around my whole life.
“I’m on your side,” he says, fastening the tracker to my wrist.
I want to say, I know. Because I really do think he is. But then I’d start having hopes and maybe even dreams. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned about being Lyssa Baylor, it’s that I’m not allowed to have my own hopes and dreams. They’re dangerous things.
So I say nothing.
His hand reaches for my face and I flinch away on instinct.
“Don’t do that,” he says.
My heart begins to beat faster when I look up into his green eyes. But I close them when he brushes the back of his knuckles down my cheek.
“If we’re gonna do this,” he says, “you need to trust me, OK?”
I shake my head no. Eyes still closed. Because trust is a dangerous thing too. “I don’t even know what we’re doing,” I say.
“We’re taming you, Lyssa Baylor. The people who love you want me to banish that wild thing inside you.”
I open my eyes and look at him. Sigh. Long and loud. I wish it were a sigh of relief, but it’s not. It’s resignation. The devil you know or some shit like that. It might even be surrender.
“OK?” he says, gently swiping a piece of my hair and tucking it behind my ear. “I like you without makeup,” he says. “You’re very pretty. You don’t even need it.” Then his fingers drop down to my breast, the tips feeling the soft cotton eyelet lace. “And I like this look too.”
“What look?” I huff. “Six-year-old girl look?”
He smiles. “It’s just simple and pretty, that’s all.”
That’s what he sees? Because that’s not what I see.
“OK,” he says. “OK. I think we’re on the same page now. So I would like you to walk over to the piano, bend over, lift up your dress, and then place your elbows on the keys.”
“What?” I say, looking over at the grand piano in the sunroom just off the foyer.
“I think you heard me,” he says. “And I don’t like to repeat myself.”
“But why? I did what you asked.”
“No,” he says. So calm. So gentle. “You pushed my buttons, Lyssa. So you do have to be punished for that. I can’t let anything slip, you understand, right? They don’t call you Wild Thing for nothing. So please, do as I asked.”
I try not to blush but I don’t succeed. So I turn away before he can see that. Because the thought of Mason Macintyre spanking me again gets me hot all over, not just in my face.
When I get myself under control, I turn back to him. He’s not smiling. Not frowning. In fact, there’s almost no emotion at all on his face.
Well, no, that’s not true. There is something there. I just can’t put my finger on it.
“OK?” he asks.
I want to say it’s kindness. Or no. That’s probably too strong of a word. Thoughtfulness, maybe. Or consideration. Which is a nice change from the emotion I typically get from my stepfather. Which is—
“Hello?” he says, pulling me out of my thoughts and back to him.
I swallow hard then nod my head. A few seconds later I’m in the sunroom bending over the piano. I reach behind me and lift up my dress.
“Lyssa,” Mason says. “No underwear?”
“What?” I say. “I never wear underwear. What’s the big deal?”
“That’s fine,” he says. “If you’re wearing pants. But a lady always wears underwear in a dress. Don’t do it again.”