“Okay?” He kisses me chastely on the lips.

“Okay,” I finally respond with a smile that lets him know he’s changed my mind.

Grabbing his keys off the dresser, Vinny opens the palm of his hand revealing black lace. I’d forgotten that he even still had my panties in his hand. “I’m keeping these.” With a devilish grin he shoves them into his pocket as he walks out.

Chapter 19


I’m full of energy as I run the women in the self-defense class through a series of techniques. I normally pick my assistant to demonstrate moves on based on the shape of their ass or size of their rack. But today I took the closest person to me, a plump woman, probably in her fifties. Oddly, it’s the most fun I’ve had demonstrating in months, aside from the day with Liv. She’s ticklish and sensitive to touch, and each time I grab her to show a position, she giggles and laughs with a snort. Usually I’d find an overly happy person annoying at this time of the morning, but today her laugh seems to be contagious.

After class is over, the woman gives me a hug, thanking me for making her day. Totally out of character for me, I kiss her on the cheek and tell her it’s me that should be thanking her for making my day. Packing up the last of my things into my duffle bag, I’m not surprised to hear Nico’s voice. I haven’t earned his trust back yet and he still feels the need to check up on me every time I’m scheduled to teach.

“You’re in a good mood today.”

“Guess I am.” Giving nothing away, I pull the strap for my bag diagonally across my chest, anxious to get my ass back home. The thought of what’s waiting for me makes me salivate.

“You have the key to the back door? Elle took off with both sets of keys and I want to lock up the garage before I head out for a few hours.”

“Sure.” I reach into my pocket to pull out my keys and don’t even notice that something tumbles to the floor.

Nico’s eyes point downward, directing me to the scrap of lace material lying on the floor. “Think you dropped something.”

I quickly scoop up the lace at my feet and feel a tightening in my chest. It pisses me off that Nico’s seen anything that belongs to Liv. “Fuck off.”

Nico’s taken aback. “Since when are you protective of some GIMPs belongings?”

“It’s not some GIMPs.” Anger resonates from my every word as they’re spoken through my clenched teeth.

Nico looks confused for a minute, and then seems to come to some sort of understanding, even though I haven’t offered him an explanation. He slaps me on the back and walks with me to the door. “Glad to hear it. Now get out of here and go enjoy Liv.”

How does he know?


I stop on the way home and pick up lunch and the paper. It’s been years since I bought a freakin newspaper. The only time I even glance over at one is when I see a picture of myself, an ad for an upcoming fight. And then I read from the back page forward, stopping before I get to any real news. But it’s Liv’s paper, the one she works at, and I figure she probably reads it every day.

It’s quiet when I walk in. For a minute I think she might have left. Then I walk into my bedroom and catch sight of her. She’s lying in the middle of the bed wearing the shirt I had on last night. Her face is so peaceful as she sleeps, I almost pull the door closed and let her rest. Almost. But then she shifts in her sleep, one leg already bent at the knee lifts higher, taking the hem of my shirt with it revealing her porcelain, naked ass. And I just can’t resist.

I strip out of my clothes, my eyes never leaving the curve of her half naked ass. The way it rounds as it meets her thigh, toned muscle shaping the sides into a heart that leaves me salivating. There’s nothing I want to do more than turn that silky white skin a hot shade of red with my hand. It’s hard to resist as it peeks out at me, taunting me to slap it. Hard. So that she feels the sting on her ass as she sits down. So that she remembers me inside the hollow of her empty pu**y when I’m gone. Remembers who put it there. Who taught her to enjoy the pleasures of a little pain…

I’m two seconds away from waking her with the sting of my hand, followed by ramming myself into her for another round of hard, deep penetration, when her eyes flutter open and she looks up at me with a smile. It’s sweet and innocent, and an expression I’m not used to. One that I can’t remember seeing from another woman directed at me. Not ever. Not by any woman. I watch as her eyes come into focus and drift down to realize I’m naked. And hard. Her eyes look at my body with appreciation, but then our eyes meet again and she smiles even wider. Women usually don’t find my face again after their eyes drop below the neck. That works for me. Usually.

Pulling the sheet to the side, Liv rolls onto her back and reaches up her hand without words. So I take it, forgetting the pain I was so ready to inflict and following her lead instead. There’s always later…

Chapter 20


I split the paper in two offering Vinny the sports section as I delve into the business section. Sitting with my back against the arm of the couch, my legs lying over Vinny’s lap, he begins to rub my feet.

“Oh my god, that feels so good.” My voice drops, doing little to disguise the pleasure of his touch. My body instantly remembers the feel of his hands on other parts of my body. I close my eyes, releasing the paper I was intent on reading, completely forgetting the topic of the piece within seconds.

“I’m here to service.”

Vinny presses his thumb into the arch of my foot with one hand as the other kneads the ball of my foot, the part that carries my weight most days as I wear high heels to the office. “Mmmmmm.” The sound escapes me as my eyes roll into the back of my head. My shoulders slump, tension easing, even though his touch is at the other end of my body.

“Jesus, Liv. I can’t be responsible when you make that sound and you look like that.”

“Sorry, can’t help it. You have really good hands.”

“So I’ve been told.”

Like being plucked from a blissful dream as you sit on fluffy white clouds, my body tenses and I rip my feet from his grip. My voice hardens as I respond, “It really doesn’t interest me to hear about the opinions of your Krissys and Missys.”

Eyebrows drawn, Vinny has the audacity to look annoyed at my response, when it was his words that were a slap in the face. “I’m a fighter, Liv. Remember? I’ve been told I have good hands by trainers and opponents.” He drags a hand through his hair. “Nice to know you think so little of me that I’d brag to you about other women.”

“I, I...I’m sorry…I thought you meant…”

“Yeah, I know what you thought I meant.” Abruptly, he stands and it looks like he’s going to walk away, but then he stops and turns back to speak again. “How did it make you feel to think I was talking about being with other women?”

“I…I don’t understand, the question.”

Vinny leans down, his hands pressing into the couch on either side of my face, caging me in. “Simple question. Simple answer. You’re the smart one.”

Not wanting to admit the truth, I go for vague and deflection. “I thought it was rude. How would you feel if you thought I was talking about another man while I was touching you?”

I watch as the dark pupils in the middle of the pale blue grows wider and wider in his eyes, leaving only a thin shadow of color as the darkness takes over. Jaw clenching, the anger resonates from his body. “Like I want to rip someone’s head off. Answer the damn question, Liv.” His eyes narrow with anger.

“Jealous. Okay? Are you happy?” I yell my response.


“Good?” You’ve got to be kidding me. “You want me to be jealous?”

“I want you to stop finding reasons to run away from me every few hours. Jealous at least means you give a shit.”

I open my mouth twice to respond. But each time I realize I have nothing to throw back at him. Vinny’s eyes watch me and wait. They say so much. Dear Lord, they say everything as they blaze into me with so much intensity it takes my breath away. “You scare me, Vinny.” I pause. “We scare me,” I whisper, feeling embarrassed at what I feel. But I’m honest. Finally.

Vinny’s eyes close for a minute and I watch as his throat works as he swallows. When he opens his eyes, they’re different, less angry, yet still full of emotion. Lifting one of his hands from the side of my head as he still looms over me, he gently cups my jaw. “You scare me too, Liv.”

I turn, leaning into his touch and kiss the inside of his hand. Returning my sight to his face, a thought dawns on me that makes me grin. “I scare Vince ‘The Invincible’ Stone?”

Vinny returns my smile. “You’re really asking for it today, aren’t you?”

One eyebrow arched, I can’t help myself…he’s left himself so perfectly open. “And what if I am, does that mean you’re going to give it to me?”

He groans, and before I can even protest, I’m lifted out of my seat and flung over his shoulder as he stalks into the bedroom. The next few hours we alternate between reading my new book and Vinny giving me what I asked for.


It’s almost midnight when Vinny drops me back at my place. There’s no parking near my building, so I tell him to drop me off, but he insists on walking me to the door. We don’t even notice Ally sitting in the living room while we spend ten minutes making out like teenagers in the doorway before I actually have to push him out of my apartment. Shoving him through the door was for his own good, as much as mine. We both have to work tomorrow. At least mine is mostly sitting. His is physically demanding.

I close the door and lean my head against it. “Looks like you had a good time.” Ally’s voice startles me.

“Do you sit there in the dark waiting for me to come home just to scare the shit out of me?”


“You need help.”

“I need one of those.” She motions to the door that I’ve just closed behind Vinny.

Laughing, I walk into the kitchen. “I was going to go to bed. You want to have a glass of wine first?”

“Does Vince Stone make women drool?”

Shaking my head, I pull two crystal glasses out of the cabinet. There are plenty of nights that we do takeout, sometimes eating our delivery straight from the carton. Yet our wine is always in crystal. “I’ll take that as a yes.”

“Damn straight.”

I can’t help but smile at Ally’s excitement as we sit on the couch facing each other. “That man is so into you.”

“He certainly was a few hours ago.”

Eyes widening, Ally smiles and claps her hands together. “Now that’s the stuff I want to hear!”

I sip my wine and lean back into the couch with a dramatic sigh. “Jeez, Ally, he’s just so...so…intense. It’s like he can see right through me. There’s nowhere to hide.”

“Well why do you want to hide anyway?”

“I don’t know. I just feel like I need to go slow. Keep some of what I’m feeling to myself. But he’s hard to refuse. I can’t explain it.”

“He hurt you once, Liv. You’re being cautious,” Ally winks and smirks. “Just enjoy the sex and see where it takes you.”

Finishing my wine, I feel the effects go straight to my head. I’m a lightweight normally, but even more so when I’m sleep deprived. “Oh, I’m definitely enjoying the sex.”

“Hate you.” My best friend smiles.

“Hate you too.” I smile back and lean in to kiss her cheek before standing to turn in for the night. “Sweet dreams, Al.”

“Just tell me one thing,” Ally yells as I reach my doorway. “Is he a take control kind of partner in bed?”