FBI Special Agent Ty Dragon froze, glaring at sexy little Cassandra Fox through the two-way mirror. Damn it all.
What the hell was the spoiled little trust-fund princess doing in the middle of this clusterfuck? He’d been shocked to see her slumming at the tabloid yesterday. He’d never actually met her before but he’d remembered Law’s furious reaction when a tabloid story came out about her during their time in the Army. She’d been a neighbor of Law’s, and a nice if troubled teen according to him. Something about her picture then had struck a chord with Ty. He’d seen equal measures of determination and vulnerability in her eyes. The vulnerable look was still there and the protective feeling it brought out in him was hitting him even harder now as he gazed at her. She’d shone like an angel in the midst of the gritty pros yesterday. On top of that, Law was loath to talk about her—not like him at all—other than to mention that she’d targeted massage parlors and lingerie-modeling scams. What the hell did she have against sex anyway? The prim suit she was wearing said plenty.
Things were bad enough, seeing that he didn’t trust his new agent in charge, Nick Harrison. How fucked-up was it that the triumvirate from their unit should wind up here. Law, the Oracle, master of intelligence, now a freelance agent for Homeland Security; him, Swamp Thing, head of psychological warfare and now a lowly FBI field agent; and Nick, the Rules, enforcer of military regulations and now his boss. Hell, Nick probably had Rogers’ Rules of Ranging and the FBI handbook printed on his sheets. Old J. Edgar would have loved him. Well, screw that shit!
Ty would get the job done. It was what he was born to do, coming from a long line of public servants on his daddy’s side. But he wouldn’t be ruled by a dickhead AIC who cared more about rules than people, and he sure as hell wouldn’t let some jaded socialite mess with his case. It didn’t matter that she looked even better than she had at the tabloid office yesterday. It didn’t matter that she was dead right to think something dirty was happening here. It didn’t matter that she was bored and probably looking for a good time. She could go buy excitement elsewhere. He wasn’t for sale. He hadn’t thought she’d noticed him yesterday or snooped around on his briefing. Obviously he’d thought wrong and underestimated her. A mistake he wouldn’t repeat. Frustration made him go still as he pondered how to save her without compromising his mission.
She was wearing a wire tucked into the lapel of her prissy blazer. He could see it from where he stood. Lucky for her, the others in the control room seemed oblivious to the breach of security. He smiled grimly, deciding he’d have to strip her to take it away from her. The fact that he was looking forward to the prospect spoke volumes. He’d made a critical error staying celibate since Melina. Three long years.
Behind him, the club boss, Vincent Martinelli, crunched on another antacid tablet, a sure sign that “Vinnie the Bomb” was contemplating whacking someone. Fuck!
Vinnie had come up in the Gambian family fast, through nothing more than dumb luck, ruthlessness, and fear. No one ever successfully testified against him, which gave him a clean record of sorts. Clean enough to run this club and supervise the money-laundering operation they were there to bust. Now the man was all bling, from his diamond-encrusted pinkie ring to his hand-tailored Italian suit. Vinnie had come a long way from the South Side of Chicago, but the same malevolent toad still lived inside him. Ty’s special-warfare instructor would have said Vinnie was fucking nuts; his psychology professor at Tulane would have said he was bipolar. Either way, he had to be dealt with.
Based on the interested way Vinnie was gazing at Cassandra through the two-way mirror, chasing her away wasn’t an option. But taming her to his hand and making her behave for a week was. Newest trainer, newest submissive, and thank God for that, or he’d really have to kill someone. And damn it all, she’d truly deserve the red ass he was going to give her for pulling this stunt and putting herself in the line of fire.
Vinnie’s phone pinged, saying he had a text, and Ty watched him. The man smiled as he read the text, then flashed a curious look Cassandra’s way, dollar signs practically flashing in his eyes. Oh hell, she had a buyer already. Not that he could blame the Dom. She must have pulled some stunt out front to garner this much interest. Whatever it was, it couldn’t be good. The club owners were already on edge after the FBI clandestinely siphoned off a few submissives to use as key witnesses. Thus far the owners thought they had a problem with runaways. But the moment they figured out the big picture, things would blow wide open.
He’d just have to keep her from talking, maybe keep her bound and gagged. He smiled again at the visual his fucked-up mind conjured, and his cock lurched against his leather pants. What had she done? Caused a ruckus out front so she could fabricate a story, get her big break?
Ty watched Cassandra fidget in her chair, flipping her long red hair back over her shoulder. He focused on the scared but determined look in her blue eyes, profound as the bayou he grew up on. What was she up to? And why the hell was she smiling? He didn’t trust that smile one little bit.
“Well, Mr. Dragon, what do you think of her?” Martinelli asked, stepping up next to him.
Was the man testing him? Ty had only just taken point here after a previous Dom instructor had gone missing. The Dom they’d snagged was in protective custody and spilling his guts. Trying to keep his expression impassive, Ty shrugged. “She’ll do.”
“Hey, we got trouble, boss,” Mario called out. “Her ID doesn’t check out worth a tinker’s damn. It’s fake as hell, looks like Vick Lassiter’s work.”
Vinnie sighed, and everyone in the room went silent waiting for it. Even the computer tech in the corner stopped chewing his junk food for a moment. Oh shit!
Ty tensed. Fuck.
Why the hell had she used Vick Lassiter? He hadn’t worked in years, being semiretired and living down in Rock Island. His best years were behind him, and he only did favors for a few old clients. She was way too young to be one of those, so what did that mean?
Turning to look at Vinnie, Ty searched for a way to turn this mess around. The mobster’s cold ice-gray gaze was hyperfocused on Cassandra, his smooth, dapper veneer replaced by a scowl.
“Crap.” Martinelli stalked up to the PC. “This ain’t good. We can’t afford to take any chances since that bitch from the scandal sheet started making noise about pandering.”
Two guesses who “that bitch” probably is. The only saving grace is that the bastard hasn’t recognized her yet.
“So,” Ty said casually, “send her home. No harm done.”
“It ain’t that easy, Dragon. She’s been inside. Besides, she might be some kind of spy.”
Martinelli was more perceptive than he looked.
“Look at her,” Ty said, drawing Vinnie’s attention back to the two-way window. “Does she look like any spy you’ve ever seen?” He knew the man was thinking about cutting his losses, and her throat. “She’s probably just hiding out from the law or a boyfriend. If trained properly, you could make a bundle off her. Look at that red hair, that body. Even under that baggy suit, you can see she’s got curves that won’t quit. I’ll handle her myself.”
He watched the man hesitate, greed warring with caution. He knew that Martinelli mistook his soft Southern twang for stupidity. He didn’t try to disabuse him of that notion. Let the man think he was a redneck hick. It wasn’t far from the truth.
After staring at her a bit longer, Martinelli nodded. “Okay, the lady is on probation. If you think you can handle her, Dragon, I’ll go in and make the introductions.”
“No. I want to do this alone. It requires privacy.” Ty stood fast in the face of the mobster’s fierce scowl. He needed a few minutes alone with her to pull this deception off. Besides, he wasn’t into voyeurism.
“That ain’t how things work around here,” Martinelli insisted, crumpling his Styrofoam cup and tossing it into the trash. He slanted a threatening look Ty’s way. “I hired you because you came with good references, Mr. Dragon, but if you can’t do things our way, there are other trainers.”
The menace in the mobster’s voice came through loud and clear, but Ty just stared him down. “As she’s my first student at the club, you’ll just have to trust to my methods.”
After a few tense moments, the man raised a raven brow.
“Bravo, Mr. Dragon! You don’t scare easy, I’ll give you that. I’ll leave her to you, then. Just remember, your standing as a trainer only cuts so much ice around here.”
* * * *
Cassandra tried to sit still, but the dark corners of the room gave her pause. Who might be lurking there, watching her? This might be some sort of test. Her tension escalated along with her heart rate. Maybe they wanted to intimidate her. If so, it was working beautifully, because she was feeling decidedly edgy. Her pulse sped up as her imagination cranked into overdrive. How bad would it be? More importantly, how long would it take her to get the pictures she needed and split? She heard a door at the far end of the room open and close, and turned toward the sound. In the shadows, she could sense a presence waiting, watching her, then the sconces went out and a spotlight hit her full in the face. Suddenly she was standing there blind because of the contrast.
“Stand up, cher
,” a soft male voice drawled.
Startled, Cassandra squinted trying to peer into the stygian darkness he stood in as his Southern twang ran over her like tupelo honey, shocking the hell out of her. His voice might be sweet, but there was steel behind it, she could tell. And was it just a little familiar? Surely she’d remember such a singular male presence. She bit her lip, ashamed of her body’s primitive reaction. “What?” she asked, stalling.
“I said stand up, cher.” The order was repeated resolutely.
Nibbling her lower lip at the Cajun endearment, she jumped up, obeying even as she fought her desire to do so. He wasn’t shouting, but there was a weight of authority in his tone that she instinctively responded to, despite the fact that it pissed her off. It was as if he commanded the room. But damn it, he didn’t command her. She had to remember that and make sure that he knew it too. Annoyed by the order and the fact that he was keeping to the shadows, she scowled in his general direction. This had to be her trainer, her own personal Dom, and he was a smooth-talking Cajun jerk hiding in the dark. Raising her chin in indignation, she couldn’t stop herself from blurting out, “This is ridiculous. Come out of there and let me see you, you coward.”
“Quiet. I didn’t tell you to talk.”
Her sex clutched at his stern tone, shocking the hell out of her, and a shiver went up her spine. Real smooth move, calling him a coward.
Apparently she’d touched a nerve. What the hell was he going to do to her? Her breath caught in her throat at the thought, even as her clitoris tingled to life. Oh my! This imperious jerk hiding in the shadows is not going to get to me. I’d no doubt run a mile if we met in broad daylight.
It didn’t change the fact that she felt on display, in the spotlight, and under his command. She couldn’t help squirming, as a long silence, freighted with intensity, went by. Why didn’t he say something, do something?
“I’m your personal trainer. You may refer to me as Sir or Master, but only when permitted to.”
It was standard operating procedure in BDSM clubs, she knew that from her research and choice in reading material, but the thought still rankled. No fucking way was she calling him Master.
“Say it, cher,” he demanded.
She jumped, startled by his vehemence. Again that stupid, sappy nickname. So why did her heart melt a little when he said it? Because she was so love starved. Although how she could equate love with the heat rushing through her, she didn’t know; still, her mind went there. Licking her lips, she blurted out the less onerous title: “Sir.” There was no denying him if she wanted to stick around. And suddenly she very much wanted to stay. She had to gain entrance to the club’s inner sanctum, didn’t she? She could do this. The fact that this was turning her on sexually was a shameful secret she needed to keep to herself.
“Very good,” he said softly. “Now take off your shoes, sugar.”
She kicked off her shoes, and curled her toes into the carpet. Why does he want me barefoot? Maybe so it’s harder to run. Not a pleasant thought, but probably accurate.
“Unbutton your jacket and take it off.”
She froze, disinclined to take orders blindly or to lose the lapel cam or her panic button. Did he know about them? How could he? They were very discreet; Law only bought the best spy gear, and she’d borrowed them from his stash. “Why?”
A chill went up her spine at his clipped, impatient tone. She was blowing this and all because she couldn’t follow orders. But she froze, her body rebelling at the thought of getting naked in this public space, in front of him. She wasn’t anything special to look at, and she knew it. “I thought only my Dom had the authority to order me around.”
“Then consider this a direct order, cher. Strip off the jacket or get out.”
Her stomach tightened at the unsaid threat. He’d bounce her out of here so fast her head would spin, and then she’d never find what she needed. No—she couldn’t risk it. Hands shaking, she unbuttoned her blazer, regretting the loss of her camera and panic button but doing it anyway. Maybe if she placed her jacket just right the camera might still be of use. She so needed to record him, to see his face afterward.
“Good. Fold it and place it on the table.”
Dang, he’d read her mind. She grinned as he played right into her hands. She folded the blazer—camera facing toward him—and placed it carefully on the table. He couldn’t hide from her camera. “Yes, Master,” she muttered under her breath.
“What was that, sugar?”
She scowled, hearing the amusement in his voice, instantly regretting her smart remark. Shit, don’t piss off the Dom that stands between you and your story.
“Nothing,” she murmured.
Glancing down so he couldn’t read her mutinous expression, she was appalled to see that her pink lace bra was clearly visible through her white silk blouse, and stifled a whimper of shame. It seemed almost obscenely see-through in the strong light from the spotlight. Her plump pink nipples tingled, jutting out farther, the strumpets, as she watched. Surely he could see them. Crossing her arms in front of her to hide her reaction from him, she glared into the darkness.
“Put your arms down at your sides.”
“Fine, you’ll pay the penalty for that.”
“Penalty?” she gasped, instantly regretting her refusal. Self-restraint had never been her strong suit, and now she was going to pay the price.
“You agreed to be disciplined.”
Biting her lip, she nodded her head even as her bottom surged with warmth at the D
word. She’d never been spanked in her life, so why did the possibility intrigue her? Maybe because she’d never had anyone place real limits on her before. She swallowed a groan when her sex got slicker, her clit pinching hard, shocking the hell out of her. Since when did she have this kind of sexual response to…anyone? Apparently since some dumbass Cajun Dom threatened to discipline her. Lord, if Sir touched her, he’d know how turned on she was. That couldn’t happen, but how could she prevent it? She had to stall for time. “Yes, but not so soon.”
“Come here, sugar.”
Cassandra quaked inside, knowing it was obey his commands or leave. She couldn’t leave. Her blush got hotter, encompassing her bottom, her quivering sex. How could she fight this? By showing a little decorum, by not letting him know he was getting to her, that was how. She could do this; maybe those etiquette lessons would finally pay off. Walking toward him into the dark, she felt her way around the table, goose bumps breaking out on her arms despite her internal pep talk.
It was stupid, but she couldn’t help being scared and ashamedly excited as her pulse raced. Feeling her way, using the backs of chairs, she followed his breathing. It seemed to be growing faster, a little ragged as if she was getting to him too. Impossible, with an experienced man like this; it had to be wishful thinking on her part.
“What kind of game are you playing, Sir?” she mocked, pretending she didn’t care.
With a yelp of surprise, she tripped over his leg. He was sitting sideways in his chair.
He caught her waist, steadying her, and her belly quivered along with her sex as they made physical contact. Shit, he had big hands, and that equated with a big… Don’t go there, she scolded herself.
“Thank you,” she murmured, then bit her tongue. Good grief, this was clearly not the time for politeness. Why should she thank him?
“You’re welcome, sugar,” he said with a chuckle. With a jerk, he tugged her off balance, putting her over his knee.