Jase Ralston gets hot under his very blue collar just thinking about his friend and neighbor, Miranda Carlucci. Yet she can’t possibly be interested—not when she could have champagne, caviar and her pick of Vegas high rollers.
The bruises change everything. She denies she’s in an abusive relationship, but his cop instincts won’t let him rest until he finds out the truth. When he follows her to a BDSM club and finds her writhing under a flogger’s stinging kiss, his Dom instincts kick in.
Jase takes command of the scene—and Miranda—at Club Creed. This is what she’s always wanted. Pleasure, pain…and rough-around-the-edges Jase. Yet after his domination transports her to a level of subspace she’s never known, he leaves her—unwilling to continue the scene.
Confusion gives way to hurt…then anger. He’s claimed her and Miranda wants more. Even if it means confronting Jase and making demands of her own.
Product WarningsThis submissive woman has the right to be silent. Anything she says could result in being tied up, flogged, and spanked. Law enforcement has never been hotter.
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication
Jase acknowledged he wasn’t in Miranda’s league—not for more than friendship. He was blue-collar and hardworking. Miranda deserved diamonds and caviar. They might live in the same apartment complex, spend time together watching television and even grab dinner together several times a week, but those weren’t dates. Miranda dated up. Her work behind the scenes in the casino industry exposed her to the wealthy, powerful men of Vegas. Upscale scourge. Jase had a gut feeling that her latest guy wasn’t treating her well.
Jase was a Dom. He liked control, but he’d never abuse a woman. Lately he wasn’t sure if someone was hurting her, demeaning her—forcing her to do something she didn’t want to do. That was the problem. She wouldn’t open up to him about her late nights. His thoughts raced in a thousand different directions. Only one conclusion made sense. She didn’t want Jase to know.
Across the hall, a key worked into a lock. Jase stomped across the floor and swung the door open.
“Jase!” Miranda sucked in a sharp inhale, slapped a hand over her heart and spun in his direction. “You scared me.”
Perhaps he should have put on a shirt. Her gaze traveled his torso, igniting small fires over his flesh. She lingered on the open snap of his jeans riding low on his hips and trekked lower to his bare feet.
“And put on some clothes. If Ms. Perry in 3D sees you, you’ll have a stalker on your hands. She drools at anything with a nice body, especially a nice tight butt and—” Her gaze locked on his groin. “Well, and the right anatomy. If she gets her inch-long dragon-lady nails into your back, you’ll need surgery to remove her.”
“It’s close to four a.m. No one else is awake.”
She snorted. “This is Vegas. No one sleeps.”
“Where have you been?” In the span of a heartbeat, he glanced over her from her tousled hair to her askew clothing. The buttons on her blouse weren’t aligned and her stockings were torn. “What the hell happened?” Her sexy lips, normally pouty and pink, were slightly swollen. Dark circles shadowed her red-rimmed eyes.
“Nothing I can’t handle,” she whispered. “I’m fine now, Detective. It’s late. You should be in bed.” Her lips curled into a smile.
“You aren’t fine.” His hands balled into fists. This craziness had gone on long enough. He couldn’t stand by and watch her self-destruct. He took a step back. “Get in here.”
Her head cocked to the side. “Jase, I’m tired.” She turned back toward her door and wiggled the key until it turned and the lock popped. “I had a rough night, but really. I’m fine.”
“I wasn’t asking.”
She glanced at him and her tired eyes widened.
“We need to talk.”
“I’m sure whatever scolding you’re going to give me can wait until morning.”
“Okay.” Her hand paused on the knob without turning the handle. Her head bowed and her shoulders visibly trembled. She was petite, not more than five-foot-five. Jase had eight inches on her and outweighed her by eighty pounds. He could force her into his apartment. But he wouldn’t have to. The Dom in him stirred at her willingness to heed his words. Whether she’d ever acknowledge it, Miranda had submissive tendencies. He tamped down the small thrill and focused on the anger coiling in his gut instead.
“But I’m tired and don’t want to talk.” Miranda crossed the hall and entered his living room. “I just want to crawl into bed and sleep.” She clasped her hands in front of her, a small purse clutched in her fingers. The door closed with a thud and she jumped.
“What is going on with you?”
“Nothing. I went out.” She stood in his living room, glancing at his couch, the window, anything but his face. Normally her bubbly personality had him laughing. At the moment, she seemed almost afraid. He had an infuriating idea of why. The thought of someone hurting her… He growled and jammed his hands into his pockets. He had the mounting need to slam his fist into the wall, scour the city for the piece of shit and show him a little payback. Any bastard who could hurt a woman deserved his ass beat.
Jase understood BDSM. Power and dominance went hand in hand with trust and devotion. He understood the high from pain play. He’d been in the scene long enough to know that the glimmer in Miranda’s blue eyes wasn’t from being taken to the brink and pushed over the edge. She’d been broken, and that wasn’t willing submission. “What has he done to you?”
Her head snapped up and her eyes narrowed. “Who?”
“Who? Christ, who do you think?” He stormed across the room and grasped her wrist.
She winced and tried to pull away. “Don’t.”
“Who is doing this to you?” He jerked back her sleeves. Angry red welts banded her delicate wrists. Deep purple and maroon bruises crisscrossed her porcelain flesh. Higher on her arm, four equally spaced marks bore the impression of someone squeezing her, restraining her. “Miranda, I see it all the time. I recognize an abused woman.”
“I’m not being abused!” She jerked her arm, yanking her wrist from his hands.
“That’s more than rough sex.”
“I’m not having sex either,” she snapped.
“And I’m not stupid. Are you going to tell me you did that—” he pointed to her wrists, “—to yourself?”
“Are you crazy?”
“No, I’m ready to go ballistic.” He’d kill the bastard who put his hands on her. “I can help you.” He lowered his voice. “Please, let me take care of this, let me take care of you.”