Vadim: Control Chapters 1-3

Disclaimer: The following material is copyrighted.

Chapter 1

When delving into the world of sexual promiscuity, it’s totally okay to have one glass of wine beforehand, just to calm your nerves. Two is fine too. Okay, three—but there’s a benefit to every sip of alcohol far beyond the use as a mental crutch.

Or so I tell myself.

For one, I’ll be nice and loose for whatever millionaire I manage to snag on my first night on the prowl. Depending on how well it goes, I’ll be closer to scratching the big-ticket item off my bucket list—joining a secretive, exclusive sex club. Through that act alone, I’ll be giving my ex-husband the ultimate kiss-off, while indulging in years of repressed sexuality to boot.

Win, win.

Telling myself that makes it easier to down my fourth glass as I scan the offerings milling about the exclusive “Gray Bar” of Hotel Six—the most exclusive venue within ten miles of the area’s major airport. It’s a forty-floor haven for millionaire businessmen with too much money to spend and not enough time to look for a relationship lasting beyond a few hours. In theory, it should be a sexual revolution Mecca.

In reality, it’s slim pickings tonight, go figure. The one night of the week I finally managed to gather up the nerve to assemble an outfit that—in the right lighting—makes me look like I almost belong here. Enough that I was able to slip past the stern-faced bouncer before he could do a double take.

Though, maybe I should have tried my skills on him first? The old guy could have been a nice warm-up for my rather lacking talent of seduction. Frowning, I do the math on my fingers. Six months since my divorce from Jim was final. Three years since we last had sex. Minus the odd dildo every now and again, I haven’t been laid in…

Too damn long. Sighing, I let my fingers fall to the table before me and tap the polished wood with my hot pink nails. A normal person would try online dating, or maybe troll the grocery store for some horny single dad with a fetish for one-night stands to ease her way back into the dating pool. A normal person.

I, however, decided to skip the queue and jump into the big, wide world with a bang. Literally. Why feign interest in a long-term relationship or play the roulette game with STDs when you can aim right for the jackpot—exclusive millionaire sex clubs like the kind my uncle Conroy used to gossip about after one too many brandies.

The millionaire part is beside the point. Three big ones, actually—safety—both physically and health-wise—privacy and most importantly…kink. Weird, crazy kink. Enough to drown out say, seven or so years of a lifeless marriage and boring, missionary sex so lame that a nun wouldn’t consider participating as breaking her vows.

Yes, Tiffy, I tell myself. You’re on a roll. A horrible, fruitless roll.

An hour in, and I have yet to be approached by one of the three men occupying the lounge in addition to me. It must be the slow hour for rich bachelors.

One potential prospect sits at the bar, his back to me. A curtain of dark hair obscures most of his face, but he’s scrawny. Too scrawny. Next.

Sighing, I shift my attention to another potential victim. Aged approximately seventy years, with a beautiful head of balding gray hair, he’s only a moderately more appealing candidate. I bet rich old men have plenty of experience to draw from, though. Viagra can be a heck of a drug—and hell, to make their trysts last, those over sixty probably extend the foreplay too.

Bonus points.

Not that I would know how to recognize extended foreplay if it slapped me in the face. Jim thought oral sex was sinful—unless on the rare occasion he had two beers, it wasn’t Sunday, and I was the one willing to open my mouth.

Stop it. I shake my head to clear away the negative thoughts—no more dwelling on the past. I’m the new and improved Tiffany Connors. No longer bitter about years of youth wasted. No longer hating on my prudish ex-husband. No longer sexually repressed.

So very sexually repressed.

I crane my neck to the corner of the room where the third and last potential victim sits thrumming through a magazine. The fact that it’s Vogue, paired with his impeccably tailored suit, sends my gaydar pinging hard. Strike three.

After yet another sip of wine for courage, I cycle back to bachelor number one, the guy at the bar. He’s not my type, but what’s the harm in trying? Glass in hand, I leave my booth and approach him, praying to God I don’t trip in these heels. It’s the first time I’ve worn anything but neat, respectable flats in nearly a decade—yet another example of jumping headfirst into my new carefree life.

Forcing my lips into a friendly grin, I sidle up to my target. “Hello,” I purr huskily—or at least I try to. “I’m Tiff.”

He inclines his head toward me, and my eyelids flutter in shock. I’m so caught off guard; I nearly let my sexy rouse slip in favor of gaping at him.

He’s pretty. Freakishly so. An angelic nose anchors his delicately crafted features—like a masculine but beautiful doll. Pale skin conforms to his high cheekbones and strong jaw. Jesus almighty, I’ve never seen a sexier jaw. Eyes so dark, I feel the need to strike a match take me in with little reaction, and my brain runs wild trying to decipher them. Is he bored? Surprised that I’ve approached him?

A half-empty glass of whiskey sits in front of him and nothing else—a testament to the brooding businessman stereotype.

Score.

“Gorgoshev,” he says in a voice so rich my tongue dampens, my throat contracting. He has an accent I can’t place. Russian, given the name? No. Something more musical. French? I’m too distracted to put much effort into narrowing it down as he extends his hand toward me.

And it’s as beautiful and slim as the rest of him. My nails look garish against his porcelain skin, and I’m ten times more self-conscious. Way to make a first impression. If he already doesn’t think I’m a dumb bimbo, I’m halfway there.

“Do…do you come here often?” I ask, flicking my hair over my shoulder. I must flick too hard because one of my hoop earrings smacks off my chin, and I nearly slip from my stool.

A cool hand catches my wrist before I can lose my balance completely, anchoring me in place.

“T-Thank you,” I stammer, smoothing my fingers over my skirt. He moved so fast. Already he’s back to nursing his whiskey as if he never budged at all. “I’ve probably had way too much wine.”

I groan internally. The fact that I acknowledge drinking at all is a sign I’ve definitely had too much wine. Surprisingly, Mr. Pretty doesn’t seem to mind my sloppiness.

My heart races the more I watch him, and I dare to hope this could be working. He’s handsome enough, and yes, he may be freakishly thin, but I can work with it. Jim—no, not thinking about him. My ex, has the body of a college linebacker five years beyond his prime, so I’m not picky.

Smiling wider, I try to engage the non-cheating, non-asshole person before me in conversation. Say something smart, Tiff. “Is Gorgoshev your first or last name?” I wonder.

Kill me.

“Last,” he says, either oblivious to the stupidity of the question or he must get it a lot. “I’m not inclined to give out my first name to strangers.” A playful smirk shapes his mouth, softening the rejection hidden within his words. Touché.

“I’m Tiffany Connors,” I blurt. It could be the wine talking, but something about him makes me curious enough to extend the conversation, all embarrassment aside. “Age twenty-eight. I like long walks on the beach. I can assure you that I’m not a serial killer—”

“And I’m sure you carry quite the reputation in finance to commandeer a private booth in such an establishment,” he says over me.

I clam up as my cheeks catch fire. Smart man—too smart, it seems. “I…I…”

“Relax.” He cocks his head back and takes a small sip from his drink. “You’re the first woman under fifty to come in here alone—” He meets my gaze directly, and my heart lurches. “Pardon me for being curious.”

“Oh, yeah…” I flick my tongue along my lower lip, weighing the benefits of further engagement. He seems nice, but his lack of ogling my tits or trying to feel me up leaves me puzzled. Navigating the dating world beyond high school is a brand-new experience for me. Are we in good territory? Bad? Should I cut my losses and move on to an easier mark like the bald guy across the room?

Decisions. Decisions.

Jutting my chin, I decide on the spot to cut the bullshit and go for the balls. “Maybe I’m not a financier,” I confess, eyeing him through my lashes. “Maybe I’m interested in something a lot more fun than comparing business ventures. What do you say? I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.”

A part of me cringes inside—the good, God-fearing part of me that wishes I was wearing a nice sweater instead of a dress that exploits my cleavage to hell and back. After two years, it’s still hard to shake the old girl.

But as Mr. Gorgoshev’s eyes flicker from my face down to my collar, I suddenly can’t hear anything but the hard swallow contorting my throat. Good girl Tiffy can put a sock in it.

“Vadim,” he says. “First name.”

“Vadim,” I parrot, playing with the syllables. I probably sound more tipsy than sexy, but a thrill runs through me anyway. I swear his eyes narrow slightly. So I say it again.

“Are you alright?” he wonders, a black eyebrow raised.

“Huh?”

“Your voice. It sounds strange.” Frowning, he takes another sip of his whiskey while I pray I might sink through the floor and die. Just when the mortification becomes unbearable, he flashes one of those disarming grins. “If I didn’t know better… I’d think you were coming on to me, Ms. Connors.”

A teensy bit of my panic gives way to an excited flutter in my belly. “And if I am?”

He seems to mull it over, his dark eyes gleaming. “Then I would have to say…” With undeniable interest, his gaze flits over me a second time, and my heart lurches. “How much?”

Chapter 2

“M-Much?” I eye my glass of wine and feel my nose wrinkle. “To be honest, I haven’t really been paying attention to the number of glasses I’ve—” My brain realizes what he’s implying before my mouth does. The second I do, my teeth slam together as a horrible wave of mortification washes over me, so intense, so paralyzing that it brings with it a sensation of déjà vu.

Like the day I strolled past my beautiful white picket fence, in my old beautiful life, and walked up the porch of my beautiful house. And then I found my once beautiful husband sitting at the kitchen table beside his beautiful whore. The joke had been on me. After seven years of changing myself to please him, he’d decided to spring for a younger, newer model.

And together, they had presented their case for a divorce.

I told myself I’d never feel like that again. Not ever. Not even at the mercy of the mysterious figure I once considered fucking.

“I’ve offended you,” he says, the second I lurch from my stool. “Explain.”

Something in his tone forms a wall against the indignation prickling through my skin. It’s like the world just shifted, and even though I’m the one insulted, he’s managed to turn the tables.

“What makes you think I’m—” I glance at the bartender nearby and lower my voice, horrified. “A prostitute?”

His brows furrow, and once again, I feel like I’m the asshole. “You’re beautiful,” he points out in a tone that makes my brain sputter and anger go poof. “I’m not your type. I can tell by your body language—” He nods toward my legs, which were neatly crossed with my hands folded over them. “You’d be positioned toward me if I were. Therefore, a beautiful woman, in a lounge meant only for business professionals, confronting me directly even though she’s not sexually attracted to me…” He smirks, letting the obvious hang in the air.

As Uncle Conroy would say, “That’s check and mate, Tiffy. Know when to quit.”

“Check please,” I call to the bartender, fighting to keep my voice calm. “I’m sorry, I should go—”

“So soon?” I stiffen as, once again, his tone catches me off guard. Not insulted, I think. Just curious. “Whatever your price, I would have paid it,” he adds offhandedly. “I have time to kill before my next flight.”

I falter as two realizations clash in my brain. One, he really does think I’m a prostitute. Two, he’s boldly stated his interest in sex. With me. Now. Sex, complete with a graceful escape built-in by way of him being guaranteed to leave afterward.

My irritation dissipates instantly. I feel like a kid who had Christmas literally fall into her lap.

“You could name your price,” Vadim continues, sparing me another glance. He lingers this time, allowing a hint of appreciation to seep into his gaze where it lacked before. He’s not my type—he was right about that. But there is something about him that makes me do a double take, paying particular notice to his mouth. It’s just so damn pretty. His lips look soft too.

And my brain jumps straight into X-rated territory because restraint is a foreign concept to this new and improved Tiffy. He’s probably amazing at oral. Not that I’d know what oral—amazing or otherwise—from anyone feels like. But that’s the point of going on a sexual adventure, isn’t it? The thrill of discovery.

“I should have known better, I suppose.” Vadim sighs wistfully, his mouth quirked in another teasing smile. “A beautiful woman, approaching me in a lounge primarily inhabited by men older than this brand of scotch, at a particular time when I was considering finding myself a companion…” He stands and fishes a handful of crisp bills from the breast pocket of his suit, placing them onto the counter. “Of course, it was too good to be true.”

He steps past me, emitting a scent of booze and cologne that hits my nostrils like a punch. It’s so deliciously male. So…sexy.

Without thinking, I’m already following after him. “If I was a…” I can’t even say it. “What would you think my ‘price’ would be?”

“Honestly?” He looks me over, his frown thoughtful. “A grand for the four hours,” he says—but from his tone, I can tell that it’s not a boast. It’s an honest gosh darn guess.

“R-Really?”

“You’re confident which betrays a familiarity with high-class clients,” he deduces, stroking his chin as if interpreting me is a task requiring his full concentration. “I’m sure your agency keeps a list of your references, and judging from your outfit, you have the financial stability to be discerning.”

My outfit. It’s one of the few things I splurged on with my first few alimony payments. A hot pink faux fur jacket with a genuine Sergio Demassi red silk cocktail dress that cost so much money I couldn’t even look at my bank account after. My shoes are vintage Chanel in a rare royal purple I managed to score from one of my mother’s socialite contacts. As far as jewelry, well, the diamond necklace was a present from Uncle Conroy from about ten years back, but it still cuts a striking figure with the right outfit. One could say I’d gone overboard. On the trip here from my less exclusive, more modest hotel across town, I’d caught plenty of women glancing at me with barely concealed smirks.

I hadn’t even blushed. Who cares? I’m free, and freedom comes with the ability to wear whatever the hell you want. And apparently, some rich, beautiful man thinks that I’m worth a grand for just four hours. The joke’s on them.

“Wait!” I don’t even realize he’s halfway across the bar until I finally regain my senses enough to choke out a strangled, “Thank you.”

He cocks his head, his steps slowing. “Please tell me you’ve reconsidered?”

Biting my lip, I think through my options. Explore this avenue a little more or go crawling back to my hotel room? Or, take my chances with baldy across the way. There is no competition.

“Come sit.” I sink back onto my stool and crook a finger, beckoning him with a confidence that sends my inner Bible-self reeling. “You didn’t even finish your drink.”

I snatch up his glass before the bartender can clear it. Held beneath my nose, the smell packs a punch. It’s well beyond the cheap stuff a teenage Tiffy might have smuggled from Mommy and Daddy’s drink caddy. It’s the good stuff. Very good. Uncle Conroy-trying-to-impress-wife-number-six-with-his-wealth good.

“You could finish it for me,” Vadim suggests, appearing by my side. Dutifully, he regains his stool, copying my position with his back to the bar. “I should keep my head clear. I have a meeting in not too long.”

Curious despite myself, I take a sip and promptly sputter. It tastes like nail varnish. Damn expensive, quality nail varnish.

“So, you’re just passing through? Where are you headed?” I ask, my ears still ringing from the booze. Way, way more dangerous than a glass of wine. Slow down, Tiffy, my inner voice warns. But that voice isn’t face-to-face with a man so pretty it hurts. I find him sexier the more I appraise him. After another tiny sip of whiskey, I’m wondering why I ever considered him unattractive in the first place.

There’s something about his eyes that I find the most enticing. They’re…shadowed. Like he has an invisible wall up, and I’m only seeing a sliver of what lurks underneath—what he wants me to see. And right now, he wants me to see a sheepish, devastating smile.

“Have you ever been?” he wonders.

“Huh?” Another sip of whiskey and my brain is practically buzzing. He could have drugged it, or so says the rapidly diminishing voice of good Bible-Tiffy. But I doubt it. You can’t disguise a roofie in classic, rich bourbon—another one of Uncle Conroy’s pick-up lines. God, I need to get out more.

“You asked where I was headed,” Vadim points out, his voice soothingly deep—stern enough to anchor my floating brain. I shiver as he drags a finger over the back of my hand, and excited goosebumps erupt. He feels electric. “‘The East coast. Then onward to the south of Italy,’ I said. ‘For business, not pleasure, unfortunately. Have you ever been to Europe?’”

“Oh!” Had he really been speaking all this time? I try to look away and form some semblance of a conversation. “Italy? No. But I did some of my schooling in the south of France.”

“Really?” He sounds so amused. The tipsy, redhead “prostitute” summered in Leon for a while. Go figure.

“My mother insisted,” I add with a giggle, facing him again. “She thought it would culture me.”

All it did was put me on a crash course for a quickie marriage and a one-way ticket down heartbreak lane, smack-dab in the middle of wasted potential central.

“Does thinking about it upset you?” Vadim wonders. His voice is starting to sound way too suave. Persuasive. Enough that I might begin spilling my guts rather than offer them up to any millionaire in exchange for a lesson in kink.

“You said I might have spared you the effort of looking for a companion,” I murmur to distract him, kicking my legs out as I observe him again. Damn. My eyes linger over his face this time, and my next breath catches in my throat. His eyelashes go on for days, his lips alarmingly pink. Again, my brain turns to dirty, dirty things. But a part of me almost feels ashamed for putting him in that light—even in my imagination. He looks so innocent.

“For the night, yes,” he says, continuing the conversation and putting my assumption to the test. A wicked grin ignites his soft features, enhancing their intensity. “I have a few agencies I prefer to choose from. I can have my records sent to you via any method you prefer. As long as you are on regular birth control and clean, I prefer not to wear a condom.”

I almost choke at how blunt he is about a subject most people in my life would clutch their pearls at the horror of discussing. More than that, he makes it sound so…orderly. So business-like.

Awed, I find myself murmuring, “You do this often?”

He nods, and I’m instantly suspicious. Someone so pretty, presumably rich, and yet he hires escorts rather than troll for celebrity arm candy? I smell bullshit. He’s young enough—early-thirties I’m guessing—that a desperate actress would hitch her wagon to him in a heartbeat and supply all the sex he could ever need.

Unless relationships aren’t his style.

“I prefer the ease of it,” he says after a moment, seemingly proving my point. “Less hassle. Less potential for any…mess. Simple and clean.”

Simple. We have that desire in common. I inhale sharply, nodding in agreement. Yes, this could work… Only, there is one tiny matter that might prove to be a hitch. “What if I’m not a prostitute—”

“Escort,” he corrects.

“Escort then.” I’m amicable to the name change—it sounds so much classier.

“If you agree to my conditions, then who am I to tell the difference?”

“Conditions?” My eyes narrow. That sounds like a potential speed bump. For instance, Uncle Conroy’s “conditions”—which sent him burning through six consecutive marriages—are that he enjoys threesomes, booze, and little else. Since he’s one of the few millionaires I know personally, I’m hoping his proclivities don’t serve as a template for the lot. “Like?”

“Hmm.” He reaches out and gently pries the nearly empty whiskey glass from my hand. Then he downs the remaining sip in one go. I gape, riveted as his throat works to swallow. Meeting my gaze, he slams the glass onto the counter, resembling a cowboy throwing down a gauntlet. “Come to my room and find out for yourself.”

I stop breathing. Could it truly be so easy? A sexy businessman on my very first attempt?

Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, Uncle Conroy would warn. Take your shot, girl. Luck doesn’t strike twice.

“Where to?” I murmur, rising to my feet.

His eyes widen—have I caught him off guard? Perhaps not. Already, a beautiful, mischievous expression erases anything else. He cocks his head and stands, offering his hand to me. “To a diversion,” he says. “But first things first…”

He pulls a cell phone from his pocket, and with a series of swipes, he brings up a screen that he tilts for my inspection. It takes me a second to interpret what I see—medical records, digitized for easy access. In crisp, clinical jargon, they proclaim him to have a clean bill of health.

“Oh!” I reach into my purse and withdraw a folded slip of my own dated, printed records, drawn up by my PCP just last week, along with a copy of my birth control injection administration. He looks them over and nods.

“Shall we?” Even as he smiles that charming grin, I sense a warning in his words—that of a firm boundary being drawn between us.

He’s offering up a diversion. Nothing more.

And nothing less.

Chapter 3

The rest of the Six turns out to be even fancier than the lounge—not that I manage to take in much of it, considering that I can barely walk in a straight line. My heels have absolutely no grip against the plush, lush carpeting of the upper floors. I flounder gracelessly. When I nearly careen into a potted plant, a stern figure captures my wrist, pulling me against his slender frame for support.

“Easy,” Vadim murmurs near my ear as I melt into him, relishing his body heat. “Are you alright?”

“Better than alright,” I slur with growing determination. The alcohol running through my veins just makes me more eager for whatever Mr. Pretty might have in store. With the added bonus that if I’m terrible, or if he’s terrible, or if everything is terrible, I probably won’t remember by the morning.

Win, gosh darn win.

“It’s here,” Vadim says, stopping before the only door lining this hallway. When we exited the elevator we turned down one of four halls. We’re on the topmost floor of the hotel. The level reserved only for the crème de la crème. Rooms more expensive than most people’s mortgages.

Rooms well beyond my modest target price range of “millionaire with thousands to blow on kink.”

“Are you trying to impress me?” I giggle, patting his chest. It’s surprisingly firm, and I fan my fingers over him in curiosity. Despite his slender shape, I suspect he’s solid muscle underneath. “Very funny. Where are you really staying?”

I’d already scoped out the hotel layout before infiltrating the lounge. So I know for a fact that the business and executive suites are between the tenth and thirtieth floors.

This floor sports just four suites, all exceedingly exclusive. Visiting princes and dignitaries’ level of exclusive.

“Here.” Vadim shoots me an odd look while reaching into the breast pocket of his jacket. He withdraws a silver key card and swipes it through the reader beside the sleek, modern door.

And it opens.

“My, oh my.” I cover my mouth with my hand as I stagger forward, too curious to pretend to be unimpressed by luxury—I’d read in an online guide that to snag a rich guy’s interest, pretending to be unfazed by his wealth is a must. Though Uncle Conroy seems to enjoy any pretty woman he can woo with a Rolex, so to each their own. “You must be quite the businessman to afford this. Don’t tell me I’m in the presence of a millionaire.”

I have the impression that Vadim intentionally stands back, allowing me to lead the way inside.

“Billionaire, perhaps,” he says with a charming laugh that obscures if he’s telling the truth or not. I hear the door close behind us, and his footsteps echo, advancing. “Please pardon the mess,” he murmurs near the nape of my neck.

It’s decided. He is officially sexy. Sexy in both appearance and in his mannerisms. The mess he’s referring to seems to be a single black leather briefcase left open in the entryway of what appears to be a branching suite, complete with a spiral staircase leading to an upper level.

“Holy beans,” I mutter, craning my neck back to take in the vaulted ceilings and modern architecture. “Do you always stay in the most expensive suite when you’re just ‘passing through’ town?”

He laughs again, and my skin tingles at the sound. Actually tingles. Either that, or I am beyond tipsy and inching into drunken mess territory. Whatever, I’ll worry about the consequences later.

“I have a standing reservation for convenience’s sake,” he says, as though it’s completely normal to book a hotel room for a few hours. Could he be lying to impress me? Most likely.

Do I care?

No.

“I bet the bed is huge,” I suspect, flicking my gaze toward the staircase. I slink over to it and palm the railing, feeling ten times braver than I had just minutes ago. I look over to find Vadim watching me, his dark eyes unreadable.

“Do you prefer missionary?” he inquires.

I turn away as my cheeks burn. Stop it, Tiffy. I’m no longer the repressed prude, but an unleashed sex kitten. For good measure, I pinch myself on the wrist.

“You know what, I’ve been dying to try something new,” I purr, whirling around to face him. “I’m sure you have tons of experience to draw from.”

That makes him smile one of those secretive grins. “I may…”

“Like?” I shed my coat as I wait for his response. It’s warm in here. Too warm. Sweat is already misting over my skin, and the faux fur clings to my fingers as I set it aside.

Vadim is still standing, watching me.

“I’ll let you set the pace,” he says dismissively. I frown only to lose my train of thought as he runs a finger along his collar, loosening it. He’s even pretty underneath the tailored fabric—his chest gleams like marble, hairless—but there’s a flaw so glaring I sway at the sight. A jagged scar claims the left side of his throat, clawing down to his shoulder. With his collar done up, I’d missed it before.

“What happened?” I blurt out.

His eyes flicker, suddenly icy. “A minor accident.” A deliberate note in his voice conveys a chilling bit of doublespeak—so don’t concern yourself.

Fair enough.

Shaking my head, I refocus on the rest of him and try to recall his first directive. Set the pace.

Okay. Meeting his gaze, I attempt to advance toward him, slow and steadily like I’ve seen women do in pornos. But those women weren’t drunk, most of them weren’t wearing stilettos, and their costars weren’t fully clothed, observing their every single move.

I stagger, and he practically teleports to my side, just in time to grab my arm, righting my balance before I can fall.

“I’m beginning to wonder if I might be taking advantage of you, Ms. Connors,” he says, sounding annoyingly serious.

I giggle—one of those stupid, tattered drunk-girl giggles. Oh, dear, it’s happened again. Well, it’s too late to back down now.

“I’m fine,” I insist. “In fact…”

Grab the world by the balls, Uncle Conroy would say.

So I drop to my knees and fumble for the fly of his slacks. The first thing I notice is how luxurious the fabric feels—very expensive. My second realization is how he stiffens. His body tenses beneath me, and I jump back as if burned.

“It’s alright,” he snaps, but irritation taints his voice like clouds obscuring a dazzling sun. Sudden and alarming.

“Sorry,” I murmur, peeking up at him. “I just really want to see your—” I have to physically bite back the word “manhood”—my mother’s term drilled into me since childhood. This moment calls for something dirtier. “Cock,” I say instead, loving how filthy it sounds. “I really want to see your cock.”

His expression shifts, neutral once again. I probably caught him off guard by how sloppy I am, and I make a concerted effort to gently brush the fastenings of his pants.

“Can I?”

“You may,” he says, playful instead of serious.

I bite my lip as I work at a delicate silver clasp. With some finagling, I get it open and tug the waistband down his hips. Solidly cut muscle greets me, and I inhale in appreciation. He is built—as if chiseled from stone. I could cut myself on the ridges of his hips and defined thighs. But again, something detracts from the otherwise perfection.

“Are you hurt?” I ask, fingering a small, white patch placed on his abdomen, right over his hip. A thin, clear tube snakes from it, apparently connected to a rectangular device, roughly the size of a deck of cards that he withdraws from his pocket.

“Oh,” I say, recognizing the device for what it is—an insulin pump. “You have diabetes?”

One of the little girls at my church had a pump, though far less high-tech than his seems to be. As I watch, he removes the patch, taking out the cannula as well. A frown tugs on his mouth as he turns and sets the device on an end table. Annoyance?

“Cold feet?” he wonders as I hesitate.

I blink, and my brain switches instantly back to sex. “I’m anything but cold,” I murmur, returning my eyes to the prize—a pair of black boxers is the only remaining thing shielding him from me now. “No… I just want to savor this moment for a sec.”

Impulsively reckless or otherwise, this is it—my moment. My first time ever sticking to a plan—no matter how outlandish—and seeing it through simply because I wanted to.

It feels damn good. Too good.

Everything is falling into place so perfectly. Usually, that only heralds bad news. Either I passed out in the lounge, and this is all a vivid hallucination, or something bad is on the horizon to dampen this moment. Either way…

I don’t want to turn back.

Vadim stands utterly still as I work my fingers beneath the waistband of his boxers and tug. The moment I see all of him in full, stark glory, disappointment crashes through me so painfully I groan out loud.

This definitely is a dream.

“Something wrong?” he wonders, still so damn unaffected. Amused, even. “I must admit I’m rarely met with this reaction by the opposite sex. Though sometimes shock is expected.”

“I’m sorry,” I say earnestly. “I… I’ve just never seen a beautiful cock before.”

And I’ve seen a lot of them. In porn, obviously, but still. Those enormous, suspiciously always erect penises were at the high end of my wildest expectations for what endowments I might discover along my new sexual adventure. But for the most part, I’ve kept my hopes grounded at least in the “better than Jim” range. Not too stubby, not too short, and way more willing to be placed in my mouth.

Vadim takes those mild expectations and crushes them.

“Beautiful?” Something in his tone makes me glance away with difficulty from his hips to his face. A fleeting expression shapes his features, resembling anger more than appreciation. He purses his lips a heartbeat later as if to disguise the reaction. “I’d love for you to explain, pretty girl.”

My brain spins at the heated way he says that nickname. His voice drops to a lower octave, enhancing the mysterious notes of his accent. It. Is. Beyond. Sexy.

My eyelids flutter as I settle onto my knees and approach him with a single outstretched finger. When he doesn’t recoil, I brush the uppermost edge of the thatch of dark curls shielding the main prize like some glorious curtain.

“It’s so long,” I say huskily, surprised that my voice actually sounds sexy this time. Not faked. “And…perfect,” I add, inching a fraction lower. “And pierced.”

A metal barbell goes right through the crown, topped on either end by a round bead just large enough to seem more tempting than intimidating. It’s so deliciously sinful. So kinky.

I almost can’t handle it.

“A modified Prince Albert,” he explains in response to my unanswered question. “And no, it won’t hurt you. That seems to be commonly asked in this situation.”

By pansy fools, I decide. My only driving thought is curiosity as to how he’ll feel inside me. “I’ve thought about getting pierced before,” I tell him absently—a secret I’ve never spilled to anyone. Ever. “It’s so pretty.”

This is the extent of my vocabulary at this moment. Because all I really want to do is taste him. Part my lips around him. See how deep down I can let him go. Things I have never thought about a bodily appendage before—not even Jim’s.

My eyelids get heavy, and I lick my lower lip, mulling over an angle of attack.

“I wonder what you taste like,” I whisper, and I swear I see him jerk, a web of veins becoming more pronounced throughout his length. The reaction sends up a ping of alarm—does he not want me to suck him off?

“Up.” He crooks a finger beneath my nose, startling me with the authority in his voice. My gaze darts to him, and I nearly sigh in relief when I catch that slow, lazy grin shaping his mouth. Not anger this time. “I’ve shown you mine,” he explains. “Now you show me yours.”

“Oh!” My brain switches gears, happily turning to something that might excite me almost as much as fellating him. Exhibiting myself for him. I lurch to my feet so quickly that I trip, and he has to grip my waist to steady me.

“Easy does it.” His voice… It’s so pretty when heard up close. His baritone inspires shivers that dance down my spine and shimmy in my belly. So very nice. I lean against him, straining on tiptoe to bring my nose near the crook of his shoulder. He stiffens again, but lets me inhale a whiff of him.

And it’s like someone lights a match right between my legs. A noise rips from me I’ve never heard myself make before, and I wiggle free from him just enough to tug at the skirt of my dress.

“Allow me.” He spins me around and finds the zipper nestled within my freshly blown-out hair. One tug and the fabric gives enough for me to scramble from it. I barely get my arm free of a single spaghetti-strap sleeve when a sudden tension on my hair makes me stiffen, my lips parting, spine arched. He’s grabbed a handful, it seems, using his grasp to control my movements.

Like some sexy sort of leash.

“Stop,” he commands in a voice so rasping my bones quiver as if made of jelly. “Allow me.”

With effort, I force my hands to my side, painfully aware of his presence. My lungs ache, infected by his heady scent. His fingers are so, so soft, tracing a path from my shoulder, down the center of my back to find the zipper again.

“You have beautiful skin,” he praises, sounding surprised by the fact. But his fingers brush a raised scar along my lower back, and I’m the one cringing from him this time.

“Beautiful? I’ve just had amazing surgeons,” I insist. “It’s from a boating accident and was nowhere near as painful as it looks.”

But that’s a dangerous topic, far too serious for my brain to comprehend.

“I have even better tits,” I tell him, jutting my chest. “Not surgically enhanced, mind you.”

He chuckles, and I relax into him again. Taking the hint, he slips his fingers beneath the fabric of my dress, discovering the secret that I’m not wearing a bra underneath. Or underwear.

A devious idea sneaks into my brain, and I’m too reckless to resist. As my dress falls low enough to expose the top of my butt, I inch into him just a fraction. Enough to catch his startled grunt.

“Again, I’m waffling on whether or not you truly are an escort,” he grates. Gosh, I love the sound of his voice. It’s like music. Sexy, disorienting music so unique it transcends any genre. “It seems you’ve come more than prepared.”

“I’m just super horny,” I confess, my breaths quickening. Something about him inspires honesty from me I’d never explore around anyone else. “Super super horny.”

The sexy voice is back, practically vibrating from my throat. His slow-moving fingers finally reach my belly, and I can no longer be patient.

“I’d love for you to touch me,” I whisper, grinding on him more. The pathetic amount of friction is like gasoline to my sex-starved brain. I want more. More more more.

“And yet another strike in the ‘not an escort’ column,” he muses. “You, pretty girl, are far too disobedient.”

“Disobedient.” I toy with the word between my tongue and giggle at how silly it sounds—considering that the opposite term had been my sole defining attribute for the better part of the past decade. The good obedient housewife. Good, obedient Tiffy. Subservient, oh so likable and so depressed, she contemplated suicide at least once per week—screw obedience.

“I’ve upset you.” Vadim snatches on my hips, turning me to face him. His dark eyes skim over me, but a part of me buzzes faintly in alarm. His expression doesn’t match the concern in his voice one damn bit. He looks too…excited. Like discovering my ticks is a fun, thrilling game.

So I rake my fingers down the front of his chest and lower my gaze to his cock. It’s slightly more erect, thicker than before, those veins even more pronounced. He’s aroused by this. Giddy triumph surges straight to my brain. I’d clap my hands if they weren’t too busy relishing the feel of him. So sturdy. So very solid.

“I want you to finger me, please,” I tell him, barely able to keep my eyes open. “Pretty please. I’ve been dying for it.”

Another low, amused chuckle. I’m entertaining him. But a part of me loves the thrill of being on display—no cares given.

“Touch me,” I beg, taking it a step further. “I bet your fingers feel amazing.”

“Show me how, pretty girl.” He shoves me back, and I have no chance in hell of preventing the fall. Luckily, I land on something soft that conforms to my shape—a leather couch. With enviable grace, Vadim steps forward, forcing my legs to part to give him room. With him looming above me, I feel smaller than ever. Something delicate at his mercy. Or disposal.

“Show me,” he repeats, grabbing my wrist.

I gasp as he guides my hand between my legs and my thighs part on command. Years of both secret and more recently, regular masturbation have made me an expert at it. With the right mood and setting, I can get myself off in no time flat. In some ways, it’s become a chore. Flick, flick. Twist, twist. Boom, there goes Tiffy.

But this…

Having a beautiful man’s dark, beautiful eyes track my every move is an experience unto itself. Already soaked, my folds part easily with one brush of my forefinger. But the sensation—it’s lightning. My head rears back as my teeth skewer my lower lip, trapping a moan inside.

A new record. No amount of porno or dirty reading material has ever gotten me this close, this fast. My fingers still, and I’m almost terrified to move. How pathetic would it be to get myself off so quickly?

But if anything, Vadim doesn’t look disappointed. His eyes gleam as I part my legs and risk slipping one finger inside me. My body convulses as nerves explode despite my attempts to stave off the pleasure. But I fight the spasms just to watch him.

Holy hell. No man should be able to look like this. Aloof, and yet at the same time ravenous. Like a vulture who knows that the antelope writhing in agony before him is almost ready to feast upon. Almost.

He just needs to let it die first.

“Please touch me.” I’m whining as I inch my finger deeper inside me while stroking my clit with my thumb. Usually, it takes a few good strokes to get me going. Now? “Oh gosh—”

Vadim moves with a calculated focus. One of his hands grabs my thigh, wrenching it higher as he palms his cock with the other. It’s a sight unlike any other—his piercing glows, electric amid the swollen crown. No porno could ever compare to this, watching him angle himself against me.

My eyes roll as he slams forward, thrusting inside me with no preamble.

And I nearly come off the couch. He’s so big. One thrust takes him deep, so deep. I cry out as my body grips him so hard I swear I can feel the outline of each one of those pulsating veins—every curve of his piercing.

And it feels beyond good.

My brain boils more with every thrust. Any semblance of coherence my thoughts possessed dissolves. I claw at him, nails drawn, urging him deeper, harder—to give me everything.

But when glimpsed through my heavy eyelids, he looks more determined than ever. Like a doctor carefully doling out an allotment of medicine. Just enough to do the trick.

But never enough to overload.

Never enough to lose control.

I’m aware of it—the boundary he maintains even as I tremble around him, gasping for breath. How he grips the back of the couch as if to maintain the same, consistent rhythm as he thickens inside me, demanding more…

That he denies himself of claiming.

And when he growls through his own release, he doesn’t throw his head back in triumph. Instead, he grits his teeth, cutting off the noise. Closes his eyes, cutting me off.

“N-No!” I arch into him, letting my body grip him so ravenously we both cry out. “I want to see you. Please…”

His eyes reopen, but they’re dark. Detached. Disconnected.

He withdraws abruptly, letting me slump against the couch. A lazy smile shapes his lips before panic can even set in fully—but it persists, nonetheless. This horrible sense that I’ve done something wrong. Offended him somehow.

Or that for him, real no-holds-barred pleasure was never part of the deal. As if reading my mind, he steps forward, his gaze softer. But his frown persists, ruining the façade he puts up. I’m five seconds from salvaging my pride and leaving altogether when he cups my jaw, tilting my head back to easily meet his gaze.

“Beautiful,” he says, his voice deep.

And I let my brain turn off, ignoring those tiny warning signs urging me to run.

Brother of the fiercest crime lord in Fair Haven, Vadim Gorgoshev has survived horrors most men couldn’t imagine in their nightmares—and he’s learned to thrive in the chaos. 

But the master of control meets his match when a fiery redhead crosses his path. 

Will the obsessive Vadim maintain the upper hand or will the reckless Tiffany turn his world upside down?

With Vadim’s control stretched to its breaking point, he aims to turn the tables by enacting Tiffany’s wildest fantasies—whether she wants him to or not. 

The harder she finds it to resist him, the more she becomes swept into his growing family, forced to reassess her previous boundaries. 

But when Vadim’s past comes back to haunt him, the chaos threatens to ignite their budding relationship… 

And destroy it for good.

Vadim’s books are a new trilogy in the Club XXX world. Vadim’s trilogy can be enjoyed without first reading Maxim’s trilogy or read as a continuation to Maxim’s series.