Kara was the victim of a brutal rape that occurred when she was seven. The event destroyed her family and left her fearful and distrustful of men. When Kara’s brother embezzles $30,000 from Slade’s company, Kara goes to Slade’s office determined to talk him out of going to the police. Slade wants a peaceful, obedient, submissive with whom to share his life and in Kara he glimpses what he wants. He seizes the opportunity and makes Kara an offer she can’t afford to refuse. The only way she can save her brother from certain prison is to accept Slade’s marriage proposal and become his submissive. Kara faces her wedding with anxiety. She can’t tell Slade she can’t submit sexually without risking her brother’s freedom, yet she doubts she’ll be able to keep her promise to be a submissive, obedient wife. This romance explores the role of trust in even the most mismatched of partnerships and the complex connections between dominance and submission while it demonstrates the power of real love to heal even the deepest wounds.
Alyssa Aaron is a pseudonym that I, Laurie Sanders, (editor and publisher at Black Velvet Seductions Publishing) use for my own writing.
At first glimpse I don’t look like someone that writes erotica with a BDSM flavor. I don’t wear leather, or black (other than in an effort to hide my more than ample hips). In fact, I look more like someone’s Sunday school teacher than an author of erotic romance. I am quiet, reserved, more inclined to sit and listen to the conversations going on around me than to actively engage…unless I have something of import to add, then I am usually quite engaged.
“I suppose you’re dying to know the particulars of the plan I’ve come up with.” He offered her what he hoped was a disarming smile.
She nodded, taking a sip of her drink.
“Well, it’s unconventional, but it meets my needs and,” he drew in a deep breath, “I think it meets yours too.”
Kara nodded, and a strand of dark hair fell over her shoulder. Her dark eyes were fixed on his. She looked fragile, practically swallowed by the navy blue surgical scrub pants and top she wore.
“I don’t like the idea of you borrowing against your credit cards and your 401k. It’s not sound financially. It would put you in debt and you told me last time we met that you’ve already had a hard time financially. It’s also not fair to you. Your brother should pay back the money he stole. But, even if I did agree to it, it would only take care of half the problem. You’d still have monthly payments on the balance. With payments on the 401k loan and the credit cards and payments to me, I’m afraid it would only make it difficult for you. It’s not an acceptable solution.”
“Mr. Westin, things have been hard because of my mom’s medicines; they cost a lot. But I assure you that I will pay you. I’ll get another job if that’s what it takes. I’ll do what I need to in order to keep my brother out of jail.”
“Your brother should be the one who pays the money back. I know you think it’s a good thing to help him out, but rescuing him isn’t teaching him anything. It’s allowing him to continue his behavior. Even if I was willing to take payments from Ted, payments and interest on thirty thousand would be pushing it for him, especially now that he doesn’t have a job.”
The look on her face told him that her brother’s unemployed status was news to her. But he plunged on. “I’ve decided to forget about the money, but there are a couple conditions.”
“Oh Mr. Westin , that’s wonderful, but it doesn’t seem fair to you.” She was looking at him, her deep brown eyes shadowed with regret.
“I’m happy with the solution,” he assured.
“Well—what are the conditions?” she asked hesitantly.
“First, that you stay out of my way and let me deal with your brother on my own terms. He won’t get around me as easily as he does you. Second, your brother goes to regular gamblers’ anonymous meetings. And third, you marry me.”
Kara shook her head as if she wasn’t sure she’d heard him correctly. “What?”
He covered her small hand with his much larger one, ignoring her attempt to pull away. He rubbed the soft skin where her thumb joined her palm. “You heard me correctly. I want you to marry me, Kara. It’s the price for forgiving your brother’s theft and for not turning it over to the authorities.”
“Yes, Kara. I’m serious. If you agree to marry me and your brother agrees to treatment for his gambling, I’ll rehire him into a position where he can’t get his hands on any money. He’ll be getting the help he needs, avoid jail, and have a job. You won’t be trying to pull everything together by yourself anymore. I’ll take care of you. I won’t be alone and that’ll make me happy.”
“Why? I don’t understand.”
“I like you, Kara. You have an aura of sweetness and innocence that lights my fire.”
“Mr. Westin!” she hissed. The way she looked around to see if anyone else had overheard and the pink that tinged her cheeks made him smile.
“Call me Slade, Kara.”
“Slade, then.” He heard her deeply inhaled breath. “I don’t understand what you’d get out of this. I’m fat, I’m not rich, and I’m afraid I don’t know what to do with a fire once it’s lighted. I-uhm, I’ve never—uhm.”
She blushed a deeper red and looked at the table as if she was thinking about crawling under it.
“You’re not fat. You’re beautifully proportioned; besides, I like my women to have something to hold onto.” He let his eyes wander, taking in the smoothness of her skin, the squared shoulders and the soft rise of her breasts, barely discernible beneath the scrub top she wore. I don’t care that you’re not wealthy. And I know you’ve never been with a man.” He caressed her hand again, “I knew when I looked up from the messages and saw you standing there in my office yesterday.”
“You did?” Her voice was tinged with horror. “Is it that obvious?”
“Not to everyone probably, but it was to me.” He let his eyes caress her, wishing he could pass some of the certainty he felt about the marriage on to her. “Don’t worry, Kara, I’ll teach you everything you need to know about tamping my fires.”
“It’s—umm—it’s not just not knowing—umm—what to do.” Given the way she was hemming and hawing and the bright red of her cheeks, he figured she was glad to be saved from further explanation by the arrival of their sandwiches. He waited for the waitress to leave before continuing.
He left his sandwich untouched and plunged on. “There are a few things you need to know about me before you make your decision.”
He watched the uncertainty that flitted across her face as he searched for the right words to describe what he wanted.
“I know it’s not politically correct, but what I want is an old fashioned marriage, one in which I take the lead.
“It’s important that you understand that, if you agree to become my wife, our marriage will be built on my control and your submission to my authority. That doesn’t mean I won’t discuss things or that I won’t take your opinions into account, but it does mean I’ll make the final decisions.
“I’ve dated spoiled, obstinate women in the past and there’s no room in my life for that. I won’t do daily battle with my wife about who is going to make which decisions, nor will I put up with sullenness and temper tantrums. I’m laying it out from the beginning. I wear the pants and I make the decisions.”
He watched her face, unable to tell what she was thinking from the closed expression she wore. He continued on, taking it as a positive sign that she hadn’t gotten up and walked out.
“One of the reasons I think it could be good between us is that you don’t seem willful or spoiled. You seem submissive and I like that. A lot. But even so, I don’t want there to be any misunderstanding later. If you were to marry me and behave like some of the women I’ve dated,” he sighed, “you probably wouldn’t like the outcome much.”
She shifted uneasily in her seat and avoided his gaze. “Exactly what do you mean by that?” she asked, her attention focused on the straw wrapper she was twisting into a tight coil.
“I know it’s not politically correct, but what I mean is that if the situation warranted it, I would use physical discipline, like spanking or bondage, to keep you in line. I won’t put up with a spoiled wife.”
He watched her abuse of the straw wrapper intensify. “You don’t need to be afraid of me. I’m not a crazy and I’m not into abuse. I would never physically injure you, but I am capable and would not hesitate to put limits on undesirable behavior.”
He searched her pale face, wondering if his honesty had scared her away. From her death grip on the straw wrapper and the tight line of her jaw, as she fixed her gaze on the table, he figured he was pretty close. Much as he would have preferred to stick to white picket fences and rose gardens, his own sense of decency had required him to be upfront and honest with her about his expectations for their marriage.
“If you agree to become my wife, I’d expect you to quit your job. I’d want you to be able to devote your time and energy to taking care of our home and me.”
“I couldn’t just quit my job, even if I wanted to. I pay part of my mother’s medical expenses, and if I didn’t she’d have to do without some of her medicines, and she can’t do that. I can’t quit my job even to save my brother, Mr. Westin.” She bowed her head and he sensed her defeat in the sudden droop of her shoulders. “I’m sorry.”
“Kara,” he dropped his hands over hers. “I wouldn’t expect you to quit your job and leave your mom in the lurch or do without yourself. If you were my wife, I’d take care of you and that would include taking care of your mother’s medical expenses. God knows I have enough money. You wouldn’t want for much. Neither would your mother.”
“It sounds like you’d be getting the bad end of the stick on this whole arrangement,” she said. He watched as she shifted in her seat and raised her gaze, pinning him, her expression watchful as she continued. “You’re suggesting all this because my brother stole money from you, but you’re not going to recover any of the money and in fact you’re going to spend even more money taking care of me and my mother. From a financial standpoint, it doesn’t make any sense, Mr. Westin.”
“Slade,” he corrected. “It makes perfect sense, Kara. I have simple needs. I’ve already told you, I want an old fashioned marriage and an obedient and submissive wife. I want an enthusiastic partner in my bed and someone to explore sexually with me. Truthfully, I’m tired of being alone, and I’m willing to turn loose of some money to get the kind of wife and marriage I want. There isn’t anything shady or behind the scenes going on. I’ve told you what I want and relinquishing some money to get it makes perfect sense.”
Kara stared at him, unseeing, her blood cold, her sandwich forgotten in front of her. She opened her mouth to speak several times but closed it again without having uttered a single sound.
“You don’t need to be afraid of me or of marrying me. I know you are inexperienced, and I’ll be patient with you. I’m not selfish, Kara. I’ve been around the block, and I know how to make a woman feel good in bed.”
“Slade.” The single word squeaked out after a false start. Her stomach churned and her brain raced through everything he’d just said. She felt as if her emotions had been stripped bare and left ragged. She knew that all the patience he could muster wouldn’t be enough.
“Yes, Kara,” his voice was gentle, prompting.
The idea of agreeing to surrender herself to him was overwhelming. He’d said she didn’t need to be afraid of him that he’d be patient, but he didn’t know she was damaged.
Misery swelled within her. She needed to come clean, to tell him the truth about her past. She needed him to understand that the unreasonable panic that overtook her when a man stood too close, or when an unexpected whiff of familiar aftershave caught her off guard, was a part of her, and was something she could not escape or predict.
It was too much to expect anyone to understand the sudden panic that could wash over her or the mortification that followed, yet she knew he had a right to know. She swallowed hard and tried to gather enough saliva to wet her dry mouth. She still couldn’t force the words past the shame that lodged in her throat. She knew intellectually that she bore no blame for what had happened to her when she was a child, but the knowledge did nothing to stop the intensity of the shame, or the pain that lived deep within her.
“Kara, are you okay?” he asked. His voice nudged her back to the present, to the reality of the situation in front of her, to the necessity of keeping Ted out of jail.
She nodded, not trusting her voice. She felt completely overwhelmed, empty.
She could promise to be obedient, to clean his house, to be there when he came home from work. She could even quit her job if he insisted, but there was absolutely no way she would ever be the enthusiastic uninhibited partner he wanted in bed. She was too damaged. There was nothing about sex that even mildly intrigued her. That part of her didn’t exist. It had been snuffed out before it had had a chance to develop.
If she agreed to marry him without telling him the truth she’d be deceiving him, purposely making a promise she knew she could never keep. It would be the height of dishonesty, and she despised deceit.
He’d gone out of his way to help her and she hated herself for the deception she was going to commit. But, more than she needed to be honest with Slade, she needed to keep Ted out of jail. Tears clogged her throat and threatened to spill. She felt bleak and hollow. She wanted to cry lonely, sad, shame filled tears, yet she knew she wouldn’t, couldn’t. She picked up her sandwich, more to distract herself from the intensity of her emotions than because she wanted to eat.
She took a bite and chewed methodically, not even tasting the turkey on rye. Swallowing helped push the hard ball of tears down and made her feel a little more in control of her ragged emotions.
Guilt kicked at his chest as Slade watched the tangle of emotions that chased across her pale face. She seemed lost in some deep, sad place and he ached to take back every word that had caused her pain.
After a few bites of her sandwich, she seemed to draw on some inner reserve. She looked at him. Her gaze was solid and unwavering as it found and held his. “Mr. Westin—Slade, I appreciate everything you’ve done for me and my brother.”
Here it comes, she’s going to turn me down, he thought as her gaze skittered away.
“I know you could have turned everything over to the police and we could be looking at a trial and lawyers. If marrying you is what I have to do to keep my brother out of jail, then I’ll do it.” She sucked in a deep breath.
“I would like your word that the details of our marriage and Ted’s part in it will not be disclosed to anyone. I also want your word that the—umm—nature of our marriage will remain private.”
“You have my word, Kara.”
“And you have mine that I’ll do my best to be the kind of wife you want. But I really don’t know how this can be what you want.”
Her words socked him hard. This quiet resolved reaction wasn’t what he wanted. What he wanted was her to be happy about marrying him. He didn’t like making her unhappy, but then again he hadn’t expected her to be excited about marrying him. He’d known from the beginning that making her happy would come later, after they were married. Once Kara trusted him, knew him, he’d teach her the joy to be found in surrendering herself to him. “You’re right. It’s not what I really want. But it’s a start, and I’ll settle for it.”