Excerpt: Winter

“I don’t do this, as a rule.” The man’s beautiful eyes, brown with gold flecks that caught the light and almost seemed to move, especially after my second drink, held mine for a moment.

“I don’t do this either,” I said, leaning backward to press my hotel room door closed behind me. Its click sounded solid and satisfying, despite how uncertain I was about having this stranger here. His tall, dark strength attracted me, but the sadness in his fathomless eyes had convinced me to invite him to my room.

I watched him survey the place—gold curtains closed over the dark window, matching gold comforter on the king-sized bed, soft, dark brown rug on the floor, modern art paintings in shades of red on the wall over the small wooden desk. There was an overstuffed chair in one corner. It was all calming, cozy, clean. Plain, by Montreal standards, but fine for a Vermont boy on a budget.

We both saw the pile of products on the desk at the same time. I’d completely forgotten I’d looked through my purchases before going downstairs to the restaurant. I felt my face flame.

“Oh, God.” I ran a hand through my hair. “Those aren’t mine, Vanor. I mean, I bought them, but not for me. I work in an adult store back home. My boss wanted me to pick up some things while I was in Montreal we don’t carry. Just for research purposes. See if our regular customers would be interested.”

“Ah.” Vanor sent me a sideways look through those incredible eyes of his. They’d practically had me on my knees before him down in the hotel bar.

I flushed even brighter. Okay, so I’d picked out some things I wouldn’t mind being tried on me. I sometimes served as a sub for a couple guys down the road, so I’d made sure everything would fit, in case I decided to bring something new along the next time I went over to play. But no way was I going to let a total stranger render me helpless in a foreign city.

On the other hand, being in Montreal, hours from home, all on my own was making me feel a little…reckless? Ready to move out of my comfort zone?

No. It just took being stupid once, and my life would never be the same again. Besides, I didn’t know if this guy was into—product. When I’d gone down to dinner, I’d had no idea I’d be bringing a guest upstairs.

“I wouldn’t have left those things out if I’d known…” My voice trailed off as Vanor picked up a pair of handcuffs and looked at me. God damn those eyes! He could read my mind with them. The beautiful gold flecks were definitely dancing. No, it had to be my imagination. Nobody had eyes like that.

He reached out and dimmed the light on the desk so the room became shadowy, dark, and quiet.

Oh, fuck.

“Um…” Why was I crossing the floor toward him? Why was I thinking about how much I wanted my very own dom some day? A dom I wouldn’t have to share? This wasn’t the time or place to contemplate my fantasies. This was the time to be on guard. Obviously, my dreams were not going to get fulfilled here, tonight, not with a total stranger. I’d never be able to let go with someone I didn’t have a solid relationship with. I wasn’t sure why I’d invited him up. I just knew that the sadness in his eyes made me want to comfort him.

And now there were handcuffs dangling from his fingers. How could I tell him this really wasn’t what I’d had in mind? Especially with my body going all quivery?

Oh, oh fuck.

These handcuffs had a real lock with a real key. If this went wrong, I could be left in an embarrassing situation, if not worse. Hell, I wasn’t even in my own country. No way should I be thinking of going forward with this. If I let him put those cuffs on me, I’d be too scared to feel anything at all.

And yet, deep down, didn’t I want to be afraid? At least a little? For once, to be able to have sex and not have to be orchestrating everything from a sub position, which defeated the purpose of being a sub. I wanted a dom who could dominate me.

“Take off your shirt,” he said in a low voice.

Just like that? Without talking first? Did he assume our bodies could communicate each other’s needs and desires? I was pretty sure it didn’t work like that. Nor was I remotely considering taking off my shirt.

I shook my head. But was I saying no to everything, or no to taking off my shirt? I wasn’t sure.

Vanor raised one hand, the one without the cuffs. “A moment. We understand each other, correct?”

Oh yeah, I understood him for sure. But…no.

Vanor spoke again in the same direct, quiet voice. “I’ll give you a safeword.” He paused, thinking, and a gust of wind hit the window with a sharp rattle of the sleet and snow mix that had been falling when I’d closed the drapes. He turned back to me. “Your word is ‘winter.’ Will you accept it?”

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