He would always be a storm, and she would always be a girl who danced in the rain
It’s not what you show, it’s what you hide…
Grace Cantrell is a self-destructive exhibitionist uncomfortable in her own skin. Jason Wright is a fine-art photographer living life from behind his lens.
When Grace agrees to be the centerpiece for Jason’s next gallery show, she unlocks his creative muse and dark sexual cravings. As Grace and Jason come together in a fusion of passion and art, they find themselves slowly breaking out of their carefully constructed cages, forcing Grace to confront the ghosts of her past.
As Jason captures what he most wants on film, can he capture it in real life? And can Grace risk exposing more than just her skin?
“Fascinating characters and hot scenes.” – Reading Romance
“I loved the honesty and the realism that’s used to show the characters’ reactions to pain, how it feeds their needs.” – Under the Cover Book Blog
“There’s one word I could use to describe the writing style–exquisite.” Love Bites and Silk
Grace Cantrell felt the smooth sticky slick of body paint on her skin as a man signed his name across her left breast.
Splayed against the solid timber X-frame of a St. Andrew’s Cross, Grace was completely naked except for leather cuffs restraining her ankles and wrists, and a black satin blindfold. Above her head hung a sign: “Guestbook. Dom(mes) please sign in”. Body paint crayons sat on a small occasional table beside her. Grace was the first thing guests saw on arrival; living graffiti in a stranger’s house, where deviants danced and played.
The Dom made small-talk with his companion as he signed. Grace focused on the shapes he drew on her skin, trying to guess the letters, his name. It was her own private game. Part of her wondered how many guests she would be able to match to their signatures after the blindfold was removed. What personal traits flowed into the curves and lines made by their hands?
Another part of Grace, the part that was winning out, was being slowly seduced by her predicament. After a year’s drought this was like the breaking rains – enough to get her wet, but not enough to saturate her parched soul.
And still, doing this, being here, was wrong.
If you keep breaking yourself, you’ll never be whole.
The man and his companion left Grace to wrestle with her inner demons. She wanted to stay and succumb to every dark pleasure. She wanted to go, just to prove to herself she could.
In the end, reason won over desire. She should go.
Grace had just opened her mouth to call Ben, the doorman, when she heard him speaking to someone new. The other voice, more sound than words, was warm, lightly accented and very masculine.
“Mr. Wright,” the doorman shook Jason’s hand and let him in.
Jason clasped Ben’s beefy arm as they shook hands. His mind was still back in his studio, but he needed some release.
Deep into planning and shooting for a new exhibition, he didn’t have time for wining and dining. His pursuit of pleasure became more carnally focused. A play party provided the perfect convenience. Besides, he’d promised friends he would show.
“Master Liam asks that you please sign in tonight, Sir.” Ben directed Jason’s attention inside.
Jason’s lips twitched with a smile as his gaze followed the doorman’s gesture . It was impossible to miss the girl with the guestbook sign above her head. Nudity inside the door was commonplace, but seeing her offered up like that, her skin a canvas – she called to all his artistic inclinations. He felt an irresistible urge to fill the blank spaces.
A male submissive carrying a tray of drinks passed between him and the living guestbook. Jason reached out and grabbed the sub’s arm.
“You occupied, Thomas?” he asked, his eyes only briefly flicking to the sub in service.
“Right answer. Put the tray down. Pants off.”
The sub was naked except for leather wrist cuffs and simple black trousers. While Thomas obeyed, Jason stepped around him, continuing his contemplation of the girl.
Her skin was flawless. It glowed with a pale luminescence against the inky black of her hair. Skin like that was made for higher art. She was petite. Slim. Her breasts no bigger than his hand. Full lush lips that cried out to be ravished, nibbled and nipped, contrasted with the otherwise delicate features of her face – high cheekbones, a slight point to her chin and the short feathered haircut that fell over her blindfold. She was bound in all her fragile beauty against the worn timber, like a sacrifice of purity. He wanted to capture that, corrupt it, restore it, then corrupt it again.
He walked closer, deliberately stepped into her space. Robbed of her sight, he let her feel his presence.
“I’d very much like to draw on you,” he whispered intimately. “I’d very much like for you to say yes.”
Classically trained, he could paint and draw well enough to sell, but his passion and artistic identity were behind the camera. Tonight, however, his fingers itched to draw …
The girl swallowed hard.
“You’ll be safe with Mr. Wright, love,” Ben vouched behind him.
She didn’t answer immediately. Jason waited, their bodies almost touching. The air grew thick and warm between them.
Eventually, she nodded, just as he’d hoped she would.
“What’s your name?”
Her mouth twitched. Was she shy? Nervous?
“How about I just call you Kiki?”
She slowly nodded.
“I’m going to let you down now, so you need to tell me I can touch you, Kiki.”
He watched for any sign of hesitation. It didn’t come. Instead, she nodded again, wet her lips as if impatient to get to that part.
Jason reached for the ankle cuffs as he sank to his haunches. He lightly brushed her feet and watched for her reaction, testing to see if she had pins and needles from standing still for so long.
He was sure someone would’ve been checking on her, but if he was going to play with her, that made her his responsibility. Satisfied her feet were fine and would hold her steady, he loosened the cuffs and stood back up.
He placed a hand on her belly, supporting her as he reached up to unclip her wrists. Not having held her weight for a while could leave her feeling a little unbalanced. She felt fragile under his hand, her skin as luxurious as he imagined.
She moved away from the cross. She didn’t try cover herself but her hands hesitantly lifted toward the blindfold.
“Uh-uh. Blindfold stays on.” Eyes would make her human. Tonight, he wanted art.
The stipulation seemed to relax her, her shoulders dropping as her hands fell to her side. She nodded, giving him an awkward smile, nipples pert as she fidgeted from foot to foot. Normally he would enjoy her nervous tension, but to draw on her, he needed her calm and still.
He reached out, caught one of her hands and stroked it with his thumb. With his free hand, he slipped some of the crayons into his pocket.
“Ben will you handle the rest?” Jason nodded toward Thomas and the empty cross.
“No worries, Sir.”
Jason paused for a moment to consider the easiest way to lead his new blindfolded toy through the bumping crowd.
She gasped as he scooped her up into his arms.
“Hold tight, Kiki.”
Grace clung to the darkness, savoring the comforting anonymity of the blindfold. It wasn’t being naked, she just didn’t want to face anyone, didn’t want to face what she was doing. In the dark she could pretend she was dreaming. So close to going home, doing the right thing, but then his damn honeyed voice made her an offer that was impossible to refuse. From guestbook to sketchbook – an impersonal plaything, just the way she liked it. This was how she got into trouble, but God knows she missed the buzz of it.
She ran a palm over his chest, following the muscled curves, the hard warmth of his body melting away her last lingering doubts. He felt strong, powerful, unbreakable. Grace shivered and snuggled in tight.
When he stopped, he set her down on what felt like a padded bench. Pushing lightly against her chest, he laid her flat on her back. Without the shield of him, the world returned. She could hear people around them. She loved an audience. Hell, audience participation wasn’t a problem either, but as soon as he touched her, the crowd faded away.
His hand slowly dragged down her chest, passing between her breasts and over her abdomen. When he’d helped her off the cross his hand had easily spanned her stomach, a brute instrument of masculinity, but now the tip of a finger dipped and swirled into her belly button with a delicate finesse that spoke of a refinement that seemed more dangerous in its cunning.
For most of the evening, Grace had felt disconnected from her body. Being robbed of her sight had, in a way, made her form cease to exist. Even the guests signing her skin had felt academic, their impartiality to her body matching her own. The thrill had been more in the immodesty than in sensation.
Now, feeling his fingers trace her curves, outlining her and restoring her, she felt her consciousness grow and expand. Her skin prickled with new awareness.
“Do you have a safe word?” he murmured, his thumb lazily stroking over her hip bone. He spoke loud enough to be heard, but soft enough that she had to focus all her attention on his words.
She shook her head. She didn’t want to be safe. She wouldn’t get anything she didn’t want or deserve.
Grace thought she heard him mutter something, but it was too soft for her to be sure.
“No safe word, no play …” His hand left her hip and a finger traced along the crease of her thigh, over her neatly trimmed mons, down the seam between her thighs. “So what’s the word going to be?”
For a moment, her mind went blank, unable to think of a single word. All she could focus on was his hands on her body, his voice in her darkness – need.
“G–” She bit her lip and squeezed her eyes tight. She was raw with emotion. It had been too long. Relief that the numbness would soon be over washed over her like a wave.
“All good, Kiki?” That voice again, this time concerned.
She nodded and gave what she hoped wasn’t a shaky smile, because the truth was, his hands felt fucking fantastic and she was way past the point of no return.
“Yeah? Not really talkative are you? That’s okay. You don’t really need to talk, you just have to do as you’re told.” A low, sexy laugh. “Put your hands above your head.”
She lifted her arms, her limbs heavy and foreign, but as he ran his hands up from her shoulders to her wrists he made them hers again. He turned her hands palm up, then rested one hand on the other. She heard him clip the cuffs together.
The cocoon of his body heat disappeared and was replaced by a full kiss on her exposed palm. Cool air where his lips had been as he pulled back. Her fingers curled, as if to catch him but he was already gone. He smoothed opened her fingers before settling something light, smooth and round into her hand.
“No word. Hold onto this apple. If you need to call it, just let the apple fall. Nod if you’re with me, Kiki.”
She cradled the fruit in her palm and nodded. His finger caressed her cheekbone and she leaned into his touch. He drew his finger down and across her clavicle, random touches still filling in the outline of her body as he made his way an inch at a time back down to her feet.
The trail of his finger was sensual and teasing; it held her rapt. Her skin tingled with life as he lit her up. It took forever and no time at all before there wasn’t a stretch of skin he hadn’t awakened with his touch. She was fully corporeal, heavy with expectation.
He finally touched her foot with what felt like the smooth oily glide of the body marker. Aroused, she squirmed as the crayon slithered up her leg and torso in a smooth, curving line. Heat covered her body as he leaned over her, so aware of him even without actual contact. Another line, then another, and another. Each stroke built longing. Grace stopped counting the lines that licked over her contours.
While he drew, his free hand caressed her skin. When he drew on her shin, he lightly stroked her feet, caressed behind her knee, tickled up her thigh. His teasing moved with his art to the apex between her thighs. She panted as his fingers rubbed and smoothed the body paint onto her skin.
God, she wanted his fingers in her but he was all about the art and the teasing. She rocked her hips in frustration, trying to entice him. But only the wisp of his breath came as he leaned in to inspect his work, the tickle of his hair on her sex making her twitch and push up into the silky softness.
She wasn’t sure how long he drew on her. His hands spoke for him as he worked in silence, but her breath, her low, torn moans, became louder. He made her soft and pliable under him. When he leaned over her to continue the drawing up her arm his shirt lightly brushed her turgid nipple in a constant tease, almost to the point of pain, causing her to twist and groan, to squeeze her thighs together.
“Be still,” he admonished, with a slap to her breast. She bucked from the pleasure of the sting, almost came from it. But his touch fell from her body and she was left rasping for breath as she tried to chase the edge of pleasure.
A pause of wanting, then he started again.
It had become impossible for her to keep still and he was forced to pin her wrists as he finished drawing on her arm. He leaned over her, his knee on the bench between her thighs, pushing up against her, giving sweet friction as she ground her sex against him. Trembling, she rode the only part she had of him between her legs, desperately seeking relief. She was shameless with hedonistic need. The painting had been foreplay – the bastard knew what he was doing. He had taken her to the edge and kept her there, teetering. She wanted to come so badly the need was a driving ache.
“Almost done.” He pulled his thigh away just before she tumbled over that edge.
Grace whimpered as she squirmed in frustration.
“For the next part I don’t want you to move.” His lips came back to her ear. “That’s an order, Kiki.” His voice was thick and husky.
Fuck, that felt almost as good as everything else. The thrill of having that effect on him was a heady rush, spiking her desire even higher.
She nodded, even though she thought it would be impossible to do as he asked.
He pulled away, taking every scrap of warmth with him. She shivered from the unexpected cold.
A stinging heat bit into her wrist. She yelped, her body arching with the burn.
“No moving, Kiki.” Stern words to settle her into her place.
He gave her a moment to obey, then dribbled wax down her arm, a line of biting heat .
Grace mewed, but she didn’t move. She knew this game. If she relaxed instead of trying to brace against the next drop, she could turn the burn into a welcome warm and lingering sensation.
The drops of wax slowly stung their way down Grace’s body. It blended with her own heat and burned inside her. Little bites of pain, followed by pulses of dark pleasure. God, she wanted to writhe, to chant, to scream, to release … to move.
Wax splashed onto her mons, a hot trickle between her legs.
This time she did scream, her body twisting as she bucked. Maybe this was why she spent her life inviting so many to look and letting so few touch.
It was madness.
It was heaven.
She wanted to lose herself to this.
She nodded before he even finished the question. Anything to send her over the edge. Anything.
The next bite of wax fell on her tortured nipple, a single splash covering the whole bud. Her pleasure splintered as the wax hardened and pulled tight.
Raw ecstasy tore along her nerves and she hurtled into bliss. She was still flying when another splash fell on her other nipple, forcing another bright burst of pleasure.
Soundless seconds stretched. She wanted to stay there, spiraling into the free.
She moaned as the world sucked her back and she reluctantly floated down again.
Grace was barely aware of the hand that slipped under her, cradling her head as fingers tugged to loosen the knot in the blindfold. Black fell from her eyes and light rushed in. She squinted a second before her lids snapped shut. When her eyes fluttered open again, it was easy to believe she was still in heaven. Beautiful, clear blue eyes looked down on her.
The intimacy was too personal. Too much.
She closed her eyes instinctively but that didn’t make him gone. She could feel him above her. Smell him. Suddenly she couldn’t breathe.
“Go.” Her voice sounded rusty, foreign to her ears. “Get off me. Go!” She panicked.
“Get away from me!”
The apple. She remembered now he’d said to drop it to safe-out. Before her fingers opened, she felt him move away. She kept her eyes shut. She couldn’t look at him.
“Kiki –” he tried again, his voice no longer close.
“Just go away … please. Just go.” She turned her face away from the sound of him.
For an agonizing moment she thought he would refuse.
“I’ll call someone.” He sounded as confused as she felt.
For a moment he’d made her feel normal. Whole. She knew it was unfair, and she wished it were different.
Finally, when she was sure he had gone, Grace slowly opened her eyes. This time, she saw herself floating above her, her image reflected in the mirror on the ceiling. She saw her cheeks flushed from the orgasm, a snake twirling around her form, the wax splotches creating the effect of scales in relief. He had captured it perfectly, imbued it with life. The snake seemed to pulsate as she breathed. It slithered up her arm toward the apple. Her hand was wet and sticky. She’d sunk her nails into the flesh of the apple as she came. She was Eve in the Garden of Temptation. She laughed at that but, just like her, her laugh was broken.