She gave brief thought to remaining in his room until she’d been called, but for all she knew the clothes had been tacit instruction for her to come out. This master seemed to want her to show initiative. He didn’t punish her when she got it wrong either; he just corrected her. And what’s more, she liked showing initiative.
She also found that, with him, she liked being corrected.
Her curiosity won out, and she slipped down the hall and stood outside the kitchen.
“That’s all in the past,” said a voice she recognized as her master’s. “We don’t have to go over it again. There’s nothing more to be said.”
“I’d agree if you weren’t still fucking pouting about it,” said another voice. It was slightly higher than her master’s, but only just. It was more the way he spoke that set him apart.
“I’m not pouting, I just don’t need it dredged up every time you don’t like what I’m doing.”
“What do you call hiding away in the middle of fucking nowhere, Sam? And I’m not complaining about the color curtains you’ve put up. There’s a person at stake here. She needs help, not a spanking.”
“Fuck you, Brendan. It’s none of your business.”
“She’s a mess. She’s broken. Do you think you’re helping things by fucking her? Have you got a magic prick, is that it?”
The table slammed. “Don’t talk about her that way.”
There was silence.
“Okay, brother. Okay. Take it easy. I’m worried about you too. You don’t even know her. What if she’s taking you for a ride?”
“Are you worried she’s trying to swindle me out of my dining tables?” her master asked dryly.
“You and I both know you’re more than a goddamned carpenter.”
“You’re right,” her master said. “I should visit the beach today. Maybe I can walk on water after all.”
“Very funny. What about what she wants? Do you think she wants to be stuck out in the middle of nowhere?”
She held her breath to hear her master’s answer.
Finally he spoke slowly, “Why don’t you ask her yourself? She’s standing outside the door. Come in here.” The last was for her.
She stepped out in the doorway, keeping her eyes downcast. Though this time her lowered gaze wasn’t only a symbol of submission but of fear. She didn’t want to know, didn’t want to confirm the suspicion that had gnawed at her since she’d first heard the voice of her master’s brother. Last night… in the dark, he had sounded different. She had thought it was a result of whispering in the night, a result of whatever mood had made him cruel. But if he’d simply been a different person…
“Well, subby?” her master asked, not unkindly. “Do you want to leave here? He’s got a boat tied up just down the beach. You can be on your way to the mainland in a few minutes.”
She shook her head no, vehemently. Daring a glance, she saw her master’s eyes glitter with triumph.
“You heard her,” he said. “She wants to stay.”
“I didn’t hear her at all,” his brother said wryly. “She hasn’t said a word to you?”
She remembered: When I found you, you spoke to me. You said you wanted to go home.
“We get along just fine,” her master said. “I figure that’s part of being a good Dom—reading the body language of your sub.”
“Right. And you were always the good Dom, weren’t you?” He stood. “I have business to take care of, but I’m not leaving the islands until tonight. You have until then to come to your senses.”
He made to leave but stopped beside her. She could see how she’d mistaken him in the dark. He looked just like his brother: the same height and muscled build. The same strong features, with shadows cut into his cheeks and stubble dotting his jaw.
The difference was that while her master seemed to wear jeans and a plain white T-shirt, and maybe the occasional plaid shirt, his brother wore sleek beige slacks and a sharp polo. While her master had dark hair and darker eyes, Brendan was blond with brown eyes that looked unnaturally light, as if she could see through them. His face had more laugh lines than her master’s, but somehow she wasn’t comforted by his humor.
His lingering gaze made her skin crawl, even beneath the lovely modest dress. Leaning back, he stared at her knees, and in his eyes she saw knowledge that damned them both. “Are those bruises I see? I hope my brother hasn’t been too rough with you.”
After he left the room, her master lifted the hem of her dress to examine her knees. “They are a little black and blue. When did that happen—on the beach?” He looked up into her eyes.