Unexpected Control, page 1
An Ellora’s Cave Romantica Publication
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Unexpected Control Copyright © 2009 Ann Jacobs
Edited by Sue-Ellen Gower.
Cover art by Syneca.
Electronic book Publication January 2009
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All this lovey-dovey togetherness was enough to make pediatric surgeon Elle Drake want to scream. She’d never imagined she might see the intense, serious neurosurgeon, Mark Blackstone, catching his wife under the mistletoe and fondling her breast while giving her a quick, hard kiss. Or that Mark’s partner, Kurt Silverman, could actually relax. Drink in hand, he was laughing with the OR supervisor he swore kept a voodoo doll of him to jab with pins every time he had to have her call in extra staff for the emergency cases that often presented themselves on nights and weekends.
Elle had been at the party less than fifteen minutes and already she’d run into three fellow staff members she’d also seen at Club Rio Brava. Unfortunately, any of the usual thoughts she might have had about sharing a Dom with another woman to deal with her sexual frustration were pointless. Maggie and Eli Calhoun were joined at the hip—and hot anesthesiologist and Dominant Tom Latimore had recently found his life partner in former club Domme Selina Harrison. Elle didn’t imagine either of the women would be amenable to sharing. Come to think of it, she wouldn’t be, either. Following her thirty-second birthday last month, Elle had started to wonder if she should walk away from the club scene and find a good man to settle down with, even if he was vanilla.
So here she was, all dolled up at University Trauma Group’s annual holiday party, waiting to meet her dinner partner, the nearest thing she’d had to a blind date since her freshman year in college. What would Lynn’s younger brother be like? Not for the first time since agreeing to be a party date for Mark’s brother-in-law, she wondered what she’d said yes to.
Idiot, you know why. Recently she’d come to the conclusion that her trips to Club Rio Brava, the exclusive BDSM club, were leaving her emotionally unsatisfied, no matter how many times the faceless Doms forced her to shed her inhibitions and come. She’d even thought about walking away from the club, but she didn’t have much hope that a vanilla guy could satisfy her. After all, she’d tried several before, and they’d left her as physically wanting as…
Damn her sexual quirks, she was a wreck when it came to relationships. She just couldn’t seem to mesh her emotional need for a happily-ever-after with a decent man with her physical need to be dominated sexually.
But Eli had found his partner outside the club. Why couldn’t she do it, too? Smoothing the iridescent blue taffeta of the long skirt she’d paired with a black silk-knit top, Elle let herself feel a sense of anticipation. Maybe this time she’d luck into her ideal man—a guy like Eli, who’d played Dom to her sub a few times before finding Maggie.
Trace Williams might be drop-dead gorgeous. He probably was, considering that Mark’s wife still looked like a beauty queen after however many years of marriage and four kids. But Elle didn’t even want to calculate the odds that Trace would be into BDSM games. No. She’d enjoy a pleasant evening of conversation, mingle with the cream of University Hospital’s medical staff, and continue with her own split life—respectable surgeon by day, secret submissive once the lights went down.
“Selina, you’re looking great,” Elle said to the former Domme who’d apparently made a switch when she hooked Tom. She’d also lost thirty or forty pounds since Tom had swept her off for a quickie Vegas wedding last spring. “Marriage must agree with you.”
“Yes.” Selina’s smile said more than that simple word. “Shelly, Lynn and Maggie have gone all out for this party.” She gestured toward the heavily laden buffet centered with a large menorah nestled on a bed of glossy evergreen leaves and delphinium blossoms. A fragrant blue-spruce Christmas tree with sparkling lights and balls cast shadows on Elle and Selina from its place in the center of a huge living room, and sprays of mistletoe with blue and silver ribbon decorated every doorway. “There must be millions of calories in all that food.”
“Probably. It all looks delicious, though.” Elle eyed a plate of small round cookies with chocolate centers. Hard to resist, even though she wouldn’t dare swipe one and see if they were as good as they looked—not until somebody else started decimating the spread.
“Oh, there you are.” Elle turned at the sound of Lynn’s voice, but it was the man she was with who took her breath away. “This is Trace. Trace, Elle.”
Omigod. The guy was killer good-looking, with a twenty-four karat smile and dark-brown hair that looked as if it could use a trim. But it was the deep brown eyes raking her from head to toe that had her speechless—as tongue-tied as if he were stripping her naked in front of the entire, mostly vanilla crowd. “Hi, Trace,” she managed.
He took a step toward her, took her hand in a confident grip. Working hands, she thought as she experienced the not-unpleasant sensation of calluses abrading her palm. “Hello, beautiful. Come on, let’s let my sister and Selina visit while we grab a drink and get to know each other. I keep telling Lynn every year that they should just hire a caterer for this bash or hold it at the country club, but she and Shelly are determined to do it on their own.”
He might be vanilla, but it was obvious from the way he jumped right in as if they’d known each other for years that Trace Williams didn’t lack self-confidence. Elle tilted her head and smiled up at him. “Really? I thought I saw some people in caterer’s uniforms, coming in and out of the kitchen.”
“They’re here to serve. Lynn and Shelly did all the cooking. And they spend days every year, decorating the house where the party’s held.”
“Oh.” Elle couldn’t imagine herself spending days creating anything like this politically correct wonderland. “The only signs of holid
Come on, Elle, you’re weaving Dom fantasies about a guy you just met. A guy you know isn’t a Dom. Or is he? She wondered if she was picking up on familiar vibes from him, but no! It had to be false hope. She knew he wasn’t into BDSM. If he were, she undoubtedly would have run across him at Club Rio Brava, because he was part of the San Antonio elite even though he wasn’t a doctor, and the club directors would have welcomed him.
Still, he seemed almost dominant when he maneuvered her toward the patio and caught her in the doorway underneath a beribboned leaf of mistletoe, bent his head and drew her much closer than was seemly in front of all these people. The kiss he claimed went on long enough to ignite a fire inside her. Him, too, if the sudden hardness against her belly was a fair indicator.
Maybe… No. Trace was as hot a man as she’d run across in years, but he was no Dom. She’d enjoy the evening with him and walk away.
Sure she would. As he walked her to her car when the party was over, she found herself saying yes to dinner at the Riverwalk on her next day off, and a country club’s annual holiday dance the following weekend. And to God only knew what else. She’d risk the hurt when she tried to come for him and couldn’t, hold on to the miniscule chance he’d be the one man to ring her bells without providing her that element of mastery she needed to let go her inhibitions.
Almost a year later…
God, but he loved her. Trace watched Elle, a city girl who seemed to take to ranch life as if she’d been born to it. The cold wind whipped her sable hair as they rounded the corner of the paddock fence on horseback and headed for the barn.
“My ears are freezing.”
“So are mine, sweetheart. I’m sorry. The weatherman predicted a day a lot warmer than I’m feeling.” He shouldn’t have been so eager, should have waited for Saturday night and taken her to some romantic restaurant. “Come on, let’s get inside.”
“Great idea.” Elle shivered as she dismounted and paused to stroke the nose of the glossy blood-bay mare before handing the reins to a stable hand. “I enjoyed the ride, Trace, and I’m sure Beauty here will get you a nice colt from Diego, but it’s damn cold outside.”
“May I blame it on the weatherman? I wouldn’t have planned a long ride for us if I had any idea the temperature would drop like the stock market did in the crash of 1929.” He didn’t blame Elle if she was pissed. After all, he’d made her believe coming out here this afternoon was a matter of life and death—figuratively speaking.
Her smile took the bite off her words. “I thought you must have had some more compelling reason than wanting me to exercise your new mare when you insisted that I come out today. I’ll forgive you, and the weatherman, though. It’s been good to relax after a nerve-racking morning in surgery. Come on. I want my surprise. Don’t keep me in suspense any longer.” She pulled up the collar of her jacket, shivering in the crisp bite of mid-November air.
“Your wish is my command.” Trace wanted to wrap her in a cocoon that would shield her gentle soul from the inevitable stresses of her profession. But first he wanted to thaw her out. “Let’s get you inside and warmed up first.” He was used to being out in the elements, but she wasn’t. That’s why he hadn’t stopped and proposed at one of her favorite places by the ice-glazed stream. “Lynn and Mark wouldn’t be happy if I let you freeze out here. Neither would your little patients.”
She took his gloved hand and brought it to her lips. “No, they wouldn’t. First one inside gets to make a pot of hot cocoa.” She took off then paused until he caught up with her on the pool deck. “Look. It’s really getting cold. Steam’s rising off the water.”
“I’m too busy looking at you, sweetheart.” Opening the kitchen door first, he scooped her up in his arms, the way he anticipated doing again on their wedding night. He kicked open the door and strode across the deck to the kitchen door. “Close the door for me. I don’t want to put you down just yet.”
“All right. How do you stay so warm?” She snuggled up against him, nibbled at his ear. “How about that cocoa you promised?”
“It’s coming. Water’s already hot and ready.” He captured her lips, found them willing but still cold. She’d been reluctant to drive out here, and he chalked up her dragging her feet to the fact that she was worried about one of her patients, a three-year-old she’d told him had practically died after running his tricycle out in the street. But he sensed something more. Something that scared him, made him reluctant to open his mouth and risk rejection.
Trace had wanted to propose here on the ranch, in a romantic setting, one they’d revisit thirty years from now when they recalled this day. But the weather hadn’t cooperated, the temperature dropping fifteen degrees in the last two hours. The usually calm wind was whipping trees around, chilling every living thing down to the bone. When he noticed Elle had on only a lightweight sweater under the suede jacket she’d just taken off, he knew she must have been miserable outside.
“More cocoa?” He really wanted them to adjourn to his bedroom, where he’d done a quick tidying up and set out candles and a bunch of long-stemmed roses on the table beside the bed. He’d started a small fire in the fireplace, too. The diamond ring he’d bought yesterday sat on the table in the jeweler’s distinctive box, just waiting, and the covers on the bed were folded back.
When she shook her head and smiled, he took that as a hint that she was as anxious to make love as he was. “Then let’s go upstairs.”
She was tiny, light as a feather in his arms as he took the stairs two at the time. Yeah, she was strong in many ways. Had to be, to fight death in kids the way she did. But when she was with him, he wanted to take care of her, shield her from harm, emotional as well as physical. Once in the room, he set her on the edge of the bed and came down beside her.
“I love you, you know.” He took her hand, traced a circle on her palm.
“What’s the occasion for the flowers and candles?” Elle gestured toward the table.
He started to tell her but changed his mind. “You’ll see. First, I want to make love to you. Warm you up after that chilly ride. Unless you’re not in the mood.”
“How could I not be when you’ve gone to all this trouble?” She inclined her head toward the fireplace, sighed. “I’ve always loved watching a fire in the bedroom. Mom and Dad had one in their bedroom when I was a little girl.” Trace detected a hint of a tremor in her voice, wondered what kind of memories that fire might be dredging up in her mind.
He knew Elle and her mother weren’t close. That was evident when they ran into her last spring at one of the Fiesta events. Elle never talked much about her childhood other than mentioning she was an only child, and that her mom and dad hadn’t gotten along. The only time he’d noticed much emotion on the rare occasions she talked about her family was when she told him her dad had died when she was barely in her teens. Trace sensed she’d buried some baggage pretty deeply, and though he didn’t know exactly what that baggage entailed, he figured it had something to do with growing up in a house full of discord. He was determined not to cause her any distress if he could help it. Maybe that was why he felt overprotective of Elle now.
The best way to distract her from whatever memories that fire had kindled would be to get her into bed, do everything he knew how to make her come. Very calmly, even though he wanted to rip off her clothes and claim her hard and fast, he undressed her and then himself. Elle was too precious, too delicate. She deserved the slow, sweet foreplay, the respect he owed the woman he wanted for the rest of his life.
“Lie down, sweetheart.” She was fucking beautiful, and not just on the outside—although that didn’t hurt. When he looked at her firm, round breast
“I had it permanently removed. With laser treatments. Just like I had all the hair taken off my arms and legs. Black hair shows when it’s growing out, almost as much as your five o’clock shadow.” She laid her hand over his. “This shocked you the first time you saw it, didn’t it?”
“A little. I like it, though. And I’ve been wondering how you managed to keep this so soft and smooth.”
She laughed. “So why did you wait so long to ask?”
“I didn’t want to embarrass you. But I’ve been thinking I might like to try getting rid of some excess hair, myself.” He’d often wondered if he irritated her skin down there with his tangle of pubic hair.
“You don’t have to. If you want, though, I’ll shave you. Give you an idea of how it would feel to be totally naked before making it permanent.”
When she tangled her fingers in his pubic hair and played with his balls, he felt as though his cock would explode. “Anytime, love. If you weren’t a surgeon, though, I might feel a little threatened if you approached the family jewels with a razor.”
“I’ll be very, very careful.”
“Just like I intend to be with you.” The feel of her satiny skin beneath his fingers when he found her clit and stroked it made him want to forget about the foreplay, mount her and fuck her hard, but he clamped down on those barbaric thoughts and lowered his head. Light nips to her thighs had her squirming quickly enough, so he took her clit between his teeth and flailed it with his tongue.
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