Excerpt for Beneath the Scars | Cherise Sinclair
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BENEATH THE SCARS

Returning from the bathroom, Josie started to kneel close to Holt’s chair…and hesitated. Half of her wanted to be as close as possible. The other half felt out of control and wanted to be out of easy reach.

That tour of the Capture Gardens had been overwhelming and far too arousing. By the time they finished, her skin was so sensitive that the slightest brush of Holt’s body against hers gave off sizzles. She wanted his hands on her more with every breath she drew. And that feeling scared her spitless.

So, she knelt now…just out of his reach.

His eyebrow lifted, and he swept her with an assessing stare. Then smiled slowly. “Too far away. Sit between my legs, pet.”

“But…” She looked around the group. No other submissive in the group was seated.

“I don’t care what other people are doing.” A smile softened his features. “When we’re in scene—like now—the only opinion you have to worry about is mine. You don’t have to think or plan, simply follow my directions. Clear?”

Don’t do anything except follow orders. The lack of control was a comfort in a way. It helped, knowing he was a paramedic and nurse. He wouldn’t ask her to do anything unhealthy or illegal.

“Yes, Sir.” She rose.

Before you sit, remove the underwear.”

What?”

“Language, pet, and this is your last warning.” His quiet, steady gaze made her stomach feel as if she were on an elevator going down. “You heard me. Underwear off.”

Okay, his order wasn’t unhealthy or illegal. Only…dammit. She already knew he wouldn’t let her go to the restroom to take off her briefs. A glance showed her the others were watching. Not only the Doms, but Zuri and Beth, too.

She bit her lip. Surely, this wasn’t more embarrassing than stripping completely naked like last week.

Only it was. “Yes, Sir.”

With cold fingers, she reached under her mid-calf-length skirt and lifted it far enough to catch the bottom of her briefs and work them off.

Without a word, Holt confiscated them and tucked them into the inside pocket of his black leather vest.

“Thank you. Now sit.” He patted the extended lounge between his bent knees.

As she planted her butt between his legs, he pulled her back against his chest. With a sigh, she relaxed and smoothed her skirt down over her knees. This wasn’t so bad.

Holt picked up a blanket from beside the chair and shook it out over both of their laps.

She gave him a quizzical glance over her shoulder.

“I thought you’d prefer not to flash people when I did this.” Reaching down, he put his hands under her thighs and lifted her knees. Ignoring her attempt at resisting, he parted her knees until they leaned against his bent legs. Thank heavens he’d put a blanket over her.

“Now, let’s explore a bit of bondage.” Her right forearm lay on the armrest, and he drew a padded short strap over the top of her wrist, securing the fabric on the underside of the chair arm. Where it stayed.

Her mouth dropped open. The…the jerk had restrained her wrist to the chair arm. She tugged at her wrist, realizing if she really, really wanted loose, she could get free.

And even as she thought that, he secured her left wrist to the other armrest.

“How did you do that so fast?” Buckles should take longer.

“Velcro is an amazing invention.”

Something slid over her breasts, and…she gasped, realizing he’d undone her halter-top. She’d put a knot in the ties, dammit.

She tried to pull up the top—and her arms didn’t move. Turning her head, she growled, “What are you doing?”

“I’m letting my fellow Doms enjoy the sight of my submissive’s breasts. They’re very pretty breasts.”

“You…you—”

The laughter in his eyes cooled. “Your language is becoming increasingly disrespectful, subbie.” He looked past her. “Nolan, you got any extra leather strips? Two, if possible?”

“Got you covered.” Nolan’s bag was at his feet. He rummaged and tossed something over.

Holt caught the leather strips. He moved sideways slightly, so she could see his face without craning her neck. “Now, pet, you’ve been in the Shadowlands long enough to know that a submissive’s body belongs to her Dom—even if it’s only for the course of an evening.”

She nodded despite the sinking feeling in her stomach. “But…but…”

“You were completely naked last weekend, were you not?”

A flush rose in her cheeks. That had been different. Here, she was sitting in a group of friends, expecting to have a conversation. This just wasn’t…right.

His eyes held hers. “This, Josie, is the heart of submission—obeying even when you don’t want to. Open your mouth.”

She knew her glower was singularly ineffective when laughter lightened his eyes. Her defiance found nothing to fight, as he simply waited, knowing she’d give in.

Her mouth opened.

He pushed the thick strand of leather between her teeth and knotted it behind her head, “Since you can’t talk, if you need to safeword, I want you to hoot—or scream—three times in a row.” He held her gaze with his until she nodded.

Oh, God. She could see Beth’s sympathetic look, the amusement in Nolan’s black gaze, Uzuri’s—

The other strip of leather appeared in front of her, and she involuntarily shut her eyes. The leather pressed against her eyes…and he knotted it behind her head like the gag. He’d blindfolded her.

She tried to say, “Take it off,” but it came out “Aaa-iii-ooo!” When she tried to get up, Holt pulled her to him, her back against his chest. He anchored her in place with his hand over her right breast. Her very bare breast.

“Mmmph!”

“I know.” His whisper was low and smooth, his breath warming her ear. “Giving over control isn’t easy, but sweetheart, you have no choice.”

His hand gently caressed her breast and heat surged over her skin, in spite of her dismay. She couldn’t even see who was watching.

She was gripping the armrests so hard her hands ached.

“Relax.” He rubbed his cheek against hers. “You’ll give me what I ask of you, because that’s what a submissive does for her Dom.”

She could safeword. She knew she could safeword.

How could she totally hate this and want this? Why did letting him take control from her make her want to give him more? Make her anxious and…happy?

“That’s a good girl,” he whispered. His fingers tugged her nipples lightly, the pressure forceful enough to send an ache of need through her. He lifted his voice. “Is anyone going to Anne’s tomorrow for her barbecue?”

“Can’t,” Max said. “I’m on duty, Alastair’s on call, and Zuri won’t go without us.” Max chuckled. “She doesn’t trust Anne’s temper these days.”

Josie couldn’t believe Holt was touching her even while he participated in the conversation. Under his ruthless touch, her breasts swelled and her arousal surged.

“Ben does a good barbecue,” Nolan was saying.

Holt’s right hand stroked down her stomach beneath the blanket. Slowly, he drew her skirt up, and his fingers slid through the wet folds of her pussy. His cheek rubbed against hers. “You’re wet, Josie.” And he proved it by spreading the moisture over her throbbing clitoris.

She almost, almost lost control and moaned. Were they all looking at her?

A pinch on her breast derailed her thoughts, and the sharp pain zipped like a bolt of electricity to her pussy. He moved slightly, reached farther, and slid one finger past her folds and up inside her pussy.

She inhaled sharply.

Slowly, he slid it out, circled up and around her clit, and thrusting back in. Harder.

Her hips wiggled slightly.

His voice was low as he warned, “Don’t move, Josie, or everyone will know where my hand is.”

She froze. It was bad enough they could see him fondling her bare breasts.

“If you make any noise or move, I’ll know you want to share, and we’ll finish without the blanket.”

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