Submit, page 1part #2 of Surrender Series
Rafe sat there, unmoving, as Ari continued toward the open door of his jet. A chill traversed the length of his spine and his throat tightened — surely the thudding of his heart couldn’t be fear. He stiffened slightly, but only to keep his body from betraying his reaction. If she were to walk out the door, onto the tarmac, and out of his life, he wouldn’t stop her.
He knew she wanted him, knew it wouldn’t be a hardship for her to stay. Any use of force was out of the question. Much as he wanted her submission, he’d gone as far as he ever would with this game; the chase was over.
Ari held all the cards — she just didn’t realize she was in control. He wouldn’t keep her mother’s home or business from her. They were just bargaining chips.
Rafe’s only real power was in Ari’s not knowing if he was as ruthless as he’d claimed. He’d proved himself a callous adversary — he only hoped she didn’t call his bluff.
When Ari suddenly stopped, Rafe’s heart skipped a beat. Slowly, she turned, flames leaping from her eyes. She was stunning in her fury, and his body awoke with the overwhelming need to take her, claim her as his own.
Did she really have a choice?
No — and now they both knew it. They both knew that Ari couldn’t let her mother down. If Sandra left the hospital only to find that she had neither a home nor a business, that Ari had been compelled to sell them during her mom’s long and terrible illnesses, both women would be devastated.
“You realize I will forever despise you, right?”
“I don’t need your affection — only your submission,” he replied with the slightest tilt to his lips. Confidence now emanated from his whole being as he watched her make her decision.
She was his!
Without another word, Ari lifted her head high and began the short walk to the back of his jet — straight to his bedroom. Excitement pooling inside him, Rafe rose from his chair, his senses tuned in to the soft sigh of her shoes as she moved before him.
He turned to tell his pilot they were ready — the doors could now be shut — then he followed Ari into his room.
Anticipation made him almost unsteady as he circled her. They had only a few things to settle and then she was his for the taking. The long anticipated wait had been worth it, if his body’s reaction was any indication. Her eyes caught his every movement and he liked the uncertainty she was trying so valiantly to hide.
“Come here and sit,” he commanded her.
A slight smile lifted the corners of her mouth as she began her slow approach. Yes, he’d always known she’d make a good submissive. Still, disappointment filled him at how easily she was bending to his will. If he managed to break her so soon, would he enjoy her nearly as much? Part of her appeal was her defiance.
Ari moved to the other side of the chair he was holding out, then lifted her arm and let her hand trail along the backrest just inches from where his hand rested. Oh, the anticipation of sinking inside her was burning through his veins.
“You might as well wipe that victorious smirk off your face, Rafe. This is a power game to you; you wield your business agreement and your Snidely Whiplash words like a sword and shield. But it is only a game and I refuse to play. I said I’ll stay — and I will. You’ve obviously managed to get the upper hand, but that doesn’t mean you will own me. ”
“I don’t understand. ” A rush of adrenaline almost made him light-headed as he looked at the fire flashing in her eyes. Joy coursed through him. She was in no way defeated — not even close. They had only a few minutes before they’d have to go back out front and sit for takeoff. He’d been hoping to get the formalities out of the way and then relieve the ache in his body.
This was better.
“I won’t be on a leash. I’ll be your mistress, but I have my own conditions. If you don’t like what I have to say, then turn this jet around and let me leave. My mother would rather lose everything than lose me. I may not want her to go through the pain of knowing she has nothing left — but she’d never forgive me if I gave up my soul. ”
“What are your conditions?” Rafe was surprised by her words — even more surprised that he was entertaining the idea of allowing provisions. He didn’t allow his mistresses to make demands. He certainly didn’t allow them to speak to him this way. Any other woman would have been banished from his life on the spot. Ari wasn’t just any woman, though. She was his obsession.
“First off, I want to keep my job. I won’t accept a salary for doing nothing other than bending over the back of your desk. Secondly, I get one day a week off — one day to do with as I like, such as visit with my mother or my friends. I’ve sacrificed too long, and I won’t have you telling me I can’t spend time with my mother — after all, she’s the reason I’m degrading myself this way in the first place. ” Page 2
He beheld the passion in her eyes, heard the slight quiver in her tone. She wasn’t bluffing. If he refused her, she’d walk. Would that be so bad? Quite honestly, he just couldn’t tell any longer. The only thing he knew for sure was that he couldn’t seem to let her go.
“Mr. Palazzo, we’re cleared for takeoff. Will you please return to your seats?” Rafe glared at the small sidewall speaker. Walking over, he pressed the intercom button.
“I need ten more minutes. ”
“Yes, sir. ”
Rafe returned to Ari and the two of them stood motionless in a face-off. He knew it was critical not to cave to her demands. It would set the bar for their relationship. Being a master at negotiation, Rafe weighed his odds. If he called her bluff, yes, she’d walk away. His other option? Make a few concessions, but still keep his unbendable rules intact.
What was most important to him? His fixation on her could very well undermine every defense he had put in place over the last few years.
Was she worth it?
Ari didn’t know how she was keeping her knees from knocking together. What if he’d simply had too much and decided to throw her out? Was that what she wanted? She hated him in these moments, but there was no doubt she desired him, too.
It wasn’t such a hardship to imagine sharing his bed. She just couldn’t turn herself into a whore. She refused to be one of those women who were nothing more than candy for their man.
Keeping her heart from being affected shouldn’t be a big deal. When he bullied her, treated her like nothing but another member of his staff, she had no problem despising him. The hard part would be in not needing him. Rafe was powerful, someone she could easily imagine leaning on. And that was something she absolutely couldn’t ever do.
The seconds passing by seemed more like minutes. Ari didn’t know how long the two of them stood staring at each other, neither wanting to blink first, but finally she couldn’t take it. Her anger was evaporating, and she needed to sit. Breaking their deadlock, she moved to the bed and sat on the edge.
Rafe spoke after a brief pause. “You take a lot for granted, Ari. One of these times, you’ll push me too far and lose everything. Being with me isn’t such a hardship. I treat my mistresses well. ”
“I have no doubt you treat them exceptionally well. I just don’t understand your desire to be with me. I’ve fought you from day one. Sure, the sex was good, but I imagine you’ve had a lot of good sex. I don’t really see the appeal in all of this for you. ”
“You’d be surprised how hard it is to find someone who’s truly compatible sexually. The sex isn’t just good, Ari — it’s extraordinary. I will give you your one day off per week. Of course, that will be void if we’re out of the country. That’s something I can’t help. ”
“If that happens, then when we get back, I can take two days the week
Too bad. He needed to be defied. Obviously, not enough people refused the all-powerful Rafe Palazzo.
“We can negotiate that point when the time comes. Under no circumstance is your day off an excuse to see other men. While you’re with me, you are exclusively mine. Do you understand?”
“Good. As for the employment, that’s not up for negotiation. You can’t carry on full-time work, or even part-time, and be committed fully to me. ”
The arrogance in his tone made her skin crawl. How could she submit to him? She’d never been the sort to cave in to anything. This wasn’t going to end well.
“Then you will just have to find me a position at your offices. I won’t be paid to be your mistress. I don’t care what the job position is. I’ll file mail, copy documents, fetch coffee for people — I do not care. I absolutely won’t do nothing more than sit around a paid-for home and wait for your call — this isn’t negotiable. ”
Ari hadn’t realized how much she was revealing to him with her words. She needed this job to be more than just her being his personal sex slave — she needed to earn her paycheck through actual work, not on her back. If she’d known the desperate sound of her voice, she would have put her armor back in place. In no way did she want him to see her as weak, show him a soft spot for him to sink his fangs into. She felt her best defense was to have an impeccable offense and show not one iota of weakness to him.
Her small moment of vulnerability is what gave her power, though, even if she didn’t realize it. Seeing her so exposed ate away at Rafe’s conscience — much as he fought the idea of even having a conscience.
“Fine. I’ll find a position in the Palazzo offices that will allow you to be available to me at all times. I’ll have to speak to Mario about it. ”
Ari was surprised at how willing he was to compromise. When she looked up, she was expecting to see victory in his dark eyes, but she was greeted only by a blank stare. What had she gotten herself into? In what universe did she believe she could come out the victor in a battle against Rafe?
He might be allowing her some concessions, but he was the champion of their match. His quiet arrogance left no doubt about that. Ari might hate him, but she was reminded in this moment of the thin line between love and hate. This man had the power to break her in two. It would take everything inside her not to allow that to happen.
“We need to get seated. We’ll discuss this more out front. ” Rafe didn’t wait to see whether Ari would follow him. If he hesitated, he would show her a crack in his armor. He’d already given in too much today.
Making his way to his seat, Rafe heard the gentle sound of Ari’s breathing as she followed behind. His afternoon hadn’t gone the way he’d planned, but then again, he really hadn’t known whether she would stay or go. Not knowing the outcome of a situation he was going in to was new for him. Feeling the anticipation of awaiting her answer was a shocking exhilaration. He couldn’t deny, even to himself, that he was grateful she was still there.
“I’ll serve drinks once we’re safely in the air,” the flight attendant said after making sure that he and Ari were belted in, and then left them to their uncomfortable silence. After the jet started moving down the runway, Rafe turned to gaze at Ari as she looked out the windows. Her shoulders remained firmly back, her head high.
“We’ll go over my expectations of you. ”
Warily, Ari turned and looked at him. Then, when the jet began its ascent, she glanced back out the small window as if she were considering escape. Soon they’d be high in the air, with the only way down a long, long jump.
Rafe penetrated her thoughts, and satisfaction filled him at knowing he had her right where he wanted — at least for now.
“I think that’s a good idea,” she finally answered.
“Good. There’s no use in sidestepping the issues, so we may as well get right into it. I’ve already made concessions for you. There are certain areas in which I’m unwilling to compromise. You should consider yourself lucky that I’ve been as lenient as I have. ”
“Are you kidding me? If this is you being lenient, I’d really hate to learn what strict means in your vocabulary. ”
“Can you for once engage in a rational discussion without a smart-ass response?” he asked in frustration. If he’d been the type to pull out his hair — no, he didn’t want to think about it. At least Ari kept quiet for the moment, but the searing look she sent Rafe’s way didn’t escape his notice. If ever a woman needed to be tamed, she was it. Now that was something he’d like to think about.
“Fine. I’ll listen, but I just want to say it’s under duress. If you were a decent man, you’d let me go and forget all about this. ”
It was a good thing he’d never claimed to be a white knight. He’d been up-front from the beginning about who he was and what he wanted. The only way he’d departed from his normal routine was by chasing after her.
“Of course you can go. All you have to do is tell your mother that when she finally leaves the hospital next week, she won’t have a home or a business to return to. ” Why let Ari know that he liked Sandra and would have given both to her no matter what Ari chose to do now? “You and I both know that I’m not letting you go, so let’s not waste our time discussing it. Most of all, I expect obedience. I’m not a selfish lover and you’ll be highly satisfied — you already know that quite well. I also have a healthy appetite — probably more than you do — and will expect you to be prepared for that, day or night. ”
“Please! Do you have to talk like that?”
Rafe lifted an eyebrow, smirked briefly, and then continued in a businesslike tone. “I’ve promised never to hurt you, and I won’t, but I’ve discovered in the last few years that I like…more. Seeing you strapped down to my bed thrills me; taking complete control of your body until you’re begging me for release sets me on fire. I will take you higher than you’ve ever been — and in order for me to do that, you’ll have to relinquish your control to me. ”
“And if I don’t?” she asked, slightly out of breath.
A smile spread across his face as he firmly held her gaze. His lifestyle excited her. She wanted him to own her — pleasure her — make her scream. She’d also rather suffer the tortures of hell than admit to it.
“Then I’ll still take control — I’ll still find great pleasure…but you won’t. ”
As Ari’s eyes widened, Rafe wondered how much she would fight him. He enjoyed the fight, loved the chance to battle her. What he didn’t like was withholding pleasure from her. Not many of his mistresses had fought him — and the few who had, had done so only once. When they defied him, he easily walked away.
Ari was a first for him in many respects. He didn’t want to leave her unsatisfied. He loved the way her face glowed as she cried out his name, and the way her body pulsed around his throbbing manhood. Her response to him was so spontaneous and real that it sent him into an unknown, unmapped, mind-bending realm of desire.
He wanted her to fight him — he just didn’t want to withhold anything from her. But they’d discuss that more when the time presented itself.
“I won’t throw everything at you at once, Ari. I’m not the monster you think I am. I’ve been open and honest about what I expect. I’m not asking you to do anything you will later feel shame over. If you can’t live with this, then we really have nothing else to discuss. ”
Challenging him — he wanted that, but having a complete lack of respect for him? That he wouldn’t tolerate. He knew they were compatible, as they’d already had better sex than he could remember ever having before. She just had to get over her preconceived notions of right and wrong.
“I’m not making promises, but I’ll give it a try, Rafe. ” At least she was no longer fighting his orders on how to address him. He loved the sound of his first name on her lips.
“Fine. We have gone over employment, which will get straightened out next week, and my expectations for you sexually. Of course, as soon as we return, you will move into the condo I have waiting for you. ”
“Why can’t I just stay at my mother’s? She needs someone to take care of her until she’s healed fully. I can still be at your beck and call, and meet you at the condo. ”
“No. This isn’t up for discussion. I’ll have a care provider for your mother, and if anything happens to her, I won’t keep you away — but I want you in that condo. Family…complicates things, and I don’t want her with you when I speak to you on the phone. I also want you available to me even if it’s at three in the morning. You will stay where I want you. ”
Rafe waited as she considered his words. He knew she was trying to decide what to say next, but his temper began fraying at her slow response. He’d been very generous in his compromises. She needed to accept some things without questions or objections; it would be a good test of what was to come.
“Fine, but if it ever gets to the point that I can’t take it, then I walk. Also, I want there to be a time frame for my prison sentence with you — I’d say three months is sufficient. ”
They were now in the air, but the seat belt signs weren’t off yet. Rafe didn’t care. She had a way of pushing him further than she should be allowed to. He swiftly unbuckled and stood before her, delighting in the quick intake of her breath and the way her pulse quickened as he grabbed her wrist.
“If you want this to feel like a prison, I can make it that way, Ari. I have no problem with chaining you to my bed…” At her gasp, he paused while his fingers caressed the smooth skin of her inner arm. Then, kneeling before her, he leaned in, bringing his mouth to her ear.
“Don’t pretend you aren’t getting wet right this minute. I already know your body, know what makes you hot and moist. I can make you orgasm with the barest of touches. You can cry wolf all night long — and I am one — but the reality is that if you were so averse to being in my presence, you would have stepped straight out that door. You may not like that I make your body sing, and you may even despise the power I hold over you — but you don’t hate the act of sex with me. ”
by Melody Anne / Contemporary / Romance have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on48 votes