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Under (Follow Me)
Author: Helen Hardt

 

 

Chapter One

   I walk toward her and wrap my arms around her. We look out at the beauty of the harbor, the moon shining down and casting silver sparkles on the boats below.

   “I have more in store for you,” I whisper, “now that I control you in the dark. Will you follow me, Skye? Trust me to give you all kinds of pleasure?”

   “I will.”

   I kiss her forehead. “I can’t believe what I’m about to say.”

   She pulls away slightly and meets my gaze.

   “What?” she asks.

   “Maybe we can give this relationship thing a try.”

   She smiles then, and of all the smiles I’ve ever seen on Skye’s face, this one is the most radiant.

   She parts those lips—

   “I love you, Braden.”

   The words.

   The words I’ve been feeling in my heart but was going to wait to say.

   She said them.

   Skye said them.

   My heart fills with everything I never knew I wanted. She loves me. I love her and she loves me. We have a lot more to learn about each other, a lot more to experience together.

   But in this moment—

   “I love you, too, Skye.”

   …

   I’m in love.

   It’s not something I thought would ever happen to me. It’s not something I thought I’d ever allow to happen to me.

   But I’m determined to embrace it, make the most of it, with Skye.

   After a beautiful weekend together—a lot of time in the park playing with Sasha and Penny—I take Skye home, actually drive her in one of my cars rather than have Christopher drive us, on Monday morning before I head into the office.

   “I’d like to see you tonight,” I tell her.

   “I’d love that, Braden.”

   “Are you ready to discover more about yourself in the dark?”

   “Very ready.”

   I kiss her lips. “See you tonight, then. I’ll text you the details.” I kiss her again. “I love you, Skye.”

   “I love you, too.”

 

   My first call once I’m at my desk is to my decorator, Glenna Rice. Already I’m planning to make one of my guest rooms into a sanctuary for Skye—her own place in the penthouse, where she can keep her things, have a little privacy when she requires it. It’s not lost on me that I’ve never considered such a gift to any other woman…but then, I’ve also never uttered those three words to any other woman.

   I love you.

   I love Skye.

   And I want to do this for her.

   With a reply from Glenna that she can make it happen by this evening, my plans are in motion.

   I text Skye a few hours later.

   Be ready tonight. I’m going to take you where you’ve never gone before.

   She replies instantly. Can’t wait!

   Neither can I. Will she be ready for what I have in mind?

   I rub my arms against a chill. Nerves? Damn. Braden Black doesn’t get nervous. Of course, Braden Black also doesn’t do relationships. Braden Black doesn’t fall in love.

   Things change, apparently.

   Things change where Skye Manning is involved.

   A smile edges onto my lips.

   I’m in love. Truly in love, and while I’m ecstatic about it, I’m also looking at tonight with a certain amount of trepidation.

   I don’t want to drive Skye away by going too quickly too soon. I want tonight to bring us closer, so I must tread carefully.

   I must think about things I’m not used to thinking about.

   And it dawns on me…

   Being in love is about giving up a little of my control.

   I’ll make sure it’s damned little.

   After an afternoon of grueling meetings, I make a few calls. Plans. For tonight.

   I’m going to take Skye somewhere she’s never been…and somewhere I’m longing to go.

   I text her again.

   Everything’s ready for tonight. Are you?

   She’d better be ready. Yes, I’ll tread carefully, but I’m going all in to bring her fully into her dark and forbidden side, and if it goes well…

   I draw in a breath, my cock hardening with the thought of taking Skye to my club in New York.

   Black Rose Underground.

   The place where I make my darkest desires a reality.

   The place where I’ll show Skye who I truly am sexually.

   I jerk out of my musing when someone knocks on the door.

   “Yeah?” I say.

   Claire opens the door. “Your lunch was delivered.”

   “Thanks, Claire. Just set it up on the table by the window, please.”

   “Sure thing.” She pulls out the containers of Chinese food and serves dim sum on china with actual silverware and a cloth napkin. Call me old-fashioned, but I hate eating out of takeout boxes.

   Hmm. Not long ago, Skye and I shared a meal here…and then I fucked her against the window.

   Damn.

   I can’t wait for tonight.

   But I have to corral thoughts of the woman I love. I don’t have a lot of time to eat lunch, as I have an important phone conference soon with Ken Akers, Foster McCain’s vice president of acquisitions, to hammer out some specifics regarding our real-estate deal in the UK.

   I fill myself with pot stickers and chicken feet. I take shit from Ben about the chicken feet, but what can I say? I love them. The gelatinous texture is part of the appeal, but the best thing about them is their intense flavor. Like chicken on steroids, and with the Chinese sauces and spices, they’re delectable. I finish with some spring water, wipe my mouth with my napkin, and then buzz Claire to clear the dishes.

   I rise, inhale, and wish I had the time for a brisk walk before this meeting, but the day has already been hectic. I take a seat behind my desk and wait for the call to come through.

   Less than a minute later, Claire buzzes. “Ken Akers on line two.”

   “Transfer to my cell, please,” I tell Claire.

   “Will do.”

   Seconds later, my cell phone vibrates, and I pick it up. “Braden Black.”

   “Mr. Black, Ken Akers,” he says in his perfect English accent. “I have our solicitor, Penelope Morgan, on the line.”

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