By: Francette Phal

Her mother had been in love with him, but he’d already devoted his life to music. And so he’d gone, and she’d been left to raise Eden by herself—a white mother raising a biracial child in the heart of crime central. They’d had more than a few challenges to say the least. It was with her mother’s eyes that Eden assessed herself further, grateful the bruises were not substantial this time. She could hide them well. She was petite but well proportioned, with breasts that were still perky and full, although she’d been on the smaller side when she’d been at Crazy Pussy. Her ritualistic morning jogs kept her fit, her stomach flat, arms and legs well-toned, and a cute little butt she thought to be her best feature. Dominic liked her hair long so every few weeks Eden paid a ridiculous amount of money to have a few pieces added to her wavy, shoulder length hair so that it nearly reached her butt when it was done. She’d gathered the mass of chestnut waves into a topknot for now. Eden stepped a little closer to the mirror, her fingers shooting up to her neck and sighed at the bruise forming from the collar. Dominic was bastard.

Chapter Two

Exercising helped. Putting her body through its paces eased her troubles, helped her forget that she wasn’t bruised and aching from Dominic’s horrible mistreatment of her, that she wasn’t some mindless blow up doll who catered to Dominic’s every sick need. For an hour, Eden could pretend that she hadn’t married prematurely, and that she was just a twenty-thee-year-old woman doing normal twenty-three-year-old things. The pain melted into the sweat glistening off her skin, the burn was inconsequential, and all that mattered was finishing strong. Raising her hand, she tapped a finger on the treadmill to accelerate the speed. When the machine beeped and gradually slowed for her cool down, reality seeped back in. She headed upstairs to shower, grateful that she didn’t run into Dominic. She didn’t know where he was today—Eden had woken up and he’d been gone—but she really didn’t care. The days were hers; he seldom bothered her when the sun was up. She was a lady of leisure, so she dressed, set her oversized, designer sunglasses on her face, and went about putting her husband’s credit cards to work.

She returned later in the afternoon to Dominic promptly informing her that they were going to have guests, and she was to be well prepared to play hostess. It was while seated in front of her vanity, freshly showered and wearing a newly purchased royal blue satin robe that he came to her again. She felt his presence instantly and tried not to stiffen. In the attempt to ignore him, Eden concentrated on her reflection. Having chosen to keep the makeup minimal; she’d accentuated her eyes with liquid eyeliner, making sure to pull slightly at the end to give her a cat-eye effect. Mascara made her lashes exotically lush, while the slightest bit of blush to her cheeks gave one the mistaken impression of innocence. She could feel him watching her, examining her every move with a criticalness that always set her on edge. Eden didn’t miss the slight tremor of her hand as she picked up the YSL tube of lipstick.

“I prefer the red,” he said tonelessly, and as hard as she’d tried not to meet his gaze in the mirror, her eyes inadvertently slid up to those hooded green eyes. His expression revealed nothing of what he was thinking as he silently strode towards her, his leonine grace making her feel every bit the prey she was. Her heart picked up speed and she hated that he had the ability to affect her this way. He came to a stop behind her, and she locked her spine, sitting ramrod straight, she refused the gasp that threatened to escape at the whisper of his touch. It was the slightest of caress, his large hand whispering ever so gently down the column of her neck. Tension locking her bones, anxiousness arresting the air in her lungs, Eden watched bemusedly as that large hand crept lower, nudging away at the satin robe until one side slide down, pooling at her elbow, and exposing the swells of her macchiato cleavage to his avaricious gaze. It was achingly sensual watching him as that skillful hand slid down until he cupped her breast.

He was riveted by her expression, his green eyes watched her carefully, assessed her, craved her reaction like sustenance. Eden fought to keep that reaction to herself, refusing to share with him what she knew he so desperately craved. But he was a master at this game, the puppeteer to her marionette, and he pulled the strings accordingly, index and thumb tugged and twisted her nipples to tender peaks, and his lips drew up when he heard that delicious little moan. He stooped down just a bit and languidly slid his tongue up the side of her neck and while she shuddered, he took her ear between his teeth and nipped. “The red, my pet,” he said huskily, “so I can see it on my cock.” He kissed her shoulder before meeting her gaze in the mirror. “Don’t keep me waiting.”