By My Side
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by Michele Zurlo
Category: Erotica/BDSM Erotica/Romance
Description: Genre: BDSM Contemporary
Series: Safe Word: Oasis; Previous Book: Yes, Justin
Marcella Abbot has worked for Sean Winquist for more than a year. As his personal assistant, she manages nearly every aspect of his life. He's a dom and she's a submissive. Through their year working together, they've become friends and colleagues, but Marcella yearns for more. She's in love with Sean, and she's frustrated that he can't see past her efficient exterior.
When Sean's submissive for a BDSM benefit show cancels unexpectedly two days before the event, Marcella jumps at the chance to take her place. Sean wants Marcella, but he's afraid to let the walls of professionalism come tumbling down and risk losing her.
Publisher's Note: This book contains explicit sexual situations, graphic language, and material that some readers may find objectionable: anal play/intercourse, BDSM theme and elements, spanking.
eBook Publisher: Loose Id, LLC, 2012
eBookwise Release Date: February 2012
10 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [124 KB]
Reading time: 79-111 min.
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We've worked closely for over a year. Just for one night, I would like him to notice me, to want me the way I want him, to see that I can be the submissive he needs.
* * * *
"Fuck." Sean Winquist slammed his cell phone on the hard surface of the mahogany desk in front of him. Though it technically belonged to him, the desk happened to be occupied by his assistant, Marcella Abbott. She jumped at the unexpected bit of violence from a man she'd never seen lose his temper, not once in the thirteen months she'd worked for him. "Two days. How the hell am I supposed to find a replacement in two fucking days?"
She smoothed her skirt and took a breath before she looked up from her keyboard. The heat in his hazel eyes had nudged them closer to brown. Marcella swallowed and squeezed her legs together. If he once directed that kind of heat in her direction, she would be naked and on her knees in no time. Who was she fooling? He had only to ask. Heat could be generated after the fact.
"I could do it."
His eyes widened in shock, and she dropped her gaze, afraid of a judgment she couldn't handle. She snaked out a hand, grabbed his phone, and examined it closely. If he'd broken it, she would need to make sure he had a new one.
"That was Gretchen."
He spoke softly, and she cringed at his tone. Day in and day out for over a year, she had been at his side. She traveled everywhere with him. She lived in a suite in his mansion. She planned his days and organized his house. At first he hadn't given her much to do. Within two months of her arrival, though, he had trusted every aspect of his life to her capable hands.
When she first began working for him, he would disappear for a weekend here and there. Marcella had arranged accommodations for a different woman each time. By the time six weeks had passed, he had divested himself of every one of his submissives except for Gretchen. Though he now only saw her sporadically, Marcella knew damn well when he spoke to Gretchen.
The tone in his voice conveyed a refusal. Thank you, but no thank you. He would gladly tie up Gretchen and whip her until she climaxed, but he wouldn't touch Marcella at all. Once, while traveling in New York City during the spring, she had slipped on a patch of ice. He'd caught her, pulling her so close to his body that she could feel the hardness of his chest against her arm and shoulder. And then his cheeks had reddened. He had let go and turned stiffly away, nodding vaguely at her expression of gratitude.
Why in the world did she lust after a man who hated the very thought of physical contact with her? She'd taken the chance only because of the wish she'd submitted to Oasis. Surely this development meant an opening for Marcella. They'd told her to expect fulfillment soon.
Outside of a new scratch it could have picked up anywhere, the phone hadn't suffered damage. She placed it back on the desk. Gathering her courage, she raised her gaze to lock with his. "I know."
He shook his head and turned away, but not before she caught the spark of interest that flared briefly in his eyes. "No, Marcella, you don't know. You have no experience with this kind of thing. Cancel the event. Refund the donations."
"No. Sean, you can't do that. We've spent four months planning this. People paid ten thousand dollars each to see you with a submissive." She didn't have to remind him that the money would benefit his favorite leukemia charity. His younger brother had lost that battle at the tender age of thirteen. Sean had been fifteen and completely helpless as he watched his brother's valiant fight.
He crossed the room and pressed his forehead against a windowpane. Tension radiated from his body. This meant so much to him. After achieving fame and fortune as a Hollywood producer by age thirty-five, Sean had turned his philanthropic efforts toward raising money for charities that funded research and provided assistance for families affected by leukemia.
Marcella's heart seized a bit as she watched him. Throwing caution to the wind, she rounded the desk and came to stand behind him. By moving away whenever she came too close, he'd trained her to keep distance between them. Now she ignored his unspoken rule. She reached out and rested her hands on his shoulders. A shudder ran through him, but she didn't let that bit of rejection dampen her mission.
"Sean, I know I'm not beautiful and sexy like Gretchen, but if you put me in one of those bustier tops and a mask, the lighting is low enough so that nobody will really know the difference."
Personally, Marcella found Gretchen's skeletal thinness unattractive. Women were meant to have curves. The augmented breasts that rounded out Gretchen's padded bras couldn't hope to compete with Marcella's natural endowment. Marcella didn't spend hours of time and thousands of dollars on her makeup or hair, but she did take time with her appearance. If Gretchen was a ten, then Marcella considered herself a solid seven. Prettier than average, but not jaw-droppingly beautiful.
His shoulders moved as a desperate chuckle fell from his lips. "Fuck. Marcella, it's not about beauty. If it was just about beauty, I'd use you in a heartbeat."
The pulse in her throat picked up a little. He'd never before commented on her physical appearance one way or the other.
"Gretchen knows me. She knows what I want almost before I ask it."
Marcella barely refrained from gritting her teeth. The key to convincing Sean lay in her ability to keep her temper under control. He didn't respond well to outbursts. "I've worked for you for over a year. You've said several times that I always know what you want, and that I do it how you want it done."
He turned away from the window and regarded her somberly. "I need a submissive who doesn't question me. I need one who doesn't analyze my orders looking for a way to second-guess me. You're an excellent assistant, but you're not very submissive, Marcella. Look at how you responded to my order to cancel the benefit."
She waved away his concern. He might want a sub who didn't question him, but he sure as hell needed someone to keep him on his toes. "You don't want to cancel the benefit. This means too much to you."
His hands came up, and he grasped her upper arms lightly. Never before had he attempted such an intimate touch. "And you responded by refusing to cancel. You've spent the past five minutes arguing with me, trying to convince me to change my mind."
If she backed down now, her chance would evaporate. "Sean, I'm not second-guessing you. I know what this means to you. I'm trying to make sure you get what you want. I'm trying to please you. I spend every moment of every day trying to please you. I don't see much of a difference between being your assistant and being your submissive."
A muscle in his jaw ticked. "You're not my submissive, Marcella. If you were, you'd be facing a punishment right now."
Though she wasn't a whips-and-paddles kind of woman, any kind of punishment where he touched her body would be worth it. She shivered with anticipation. "When you interviewed me for this job, you asked me if I would have a problem working while you had a naked woman kneeling at your feet. I told you then that I was a submissive. You know as well as I do that you liked the idea of having a submissive for your assistant. You knew I would move heaven and earth to please you. Let me do this, Sean. Let me do this for you."
His hands dropped away. He straightened and took a decisive breath. When he moved around to stand behind her, Marcella didn't move. It might have been a little while since she'd been active on the scene, but she knew when to stay still.
"You'll be exposed in front of a hundred strangers who paid to see you that way."
She kept her eyes facing forward. "I know most of the people who will be there, because they're friends or acquaintances of yours. And I handled all the ticket purchases and background checks. Besides, I'll be under your protection. Nobody will touch me without your permission."
Nobody would dare. Sean might be quiet, but it was a strong kind of quiet, backed up by his physical strength and the innate power radiating from every pore in his body. He could have had a successful acting career full of leading roles. Instead he had remained behind the scenes, a carefully controlled powerhouse.
He stood close to her back. She felt the electricity of his chest as he hovered a maddening few inches away from physical contact. "Round one is teasing, a warm-up. You'd be bound to a bar above your head. A spreader bar would be placed between your ankles. I plan to use a heater, clamps, anal beads. One lucky person who donated an additional fifty thousand gets to choose another instrument of torture. Even I don't know what that is yet."
Having arranged for all the equipment to be there, Marcella knew exactly what would happen. She even knew what the donor had chosen as the instrument of torture--ice. If he used the heater the right way, the ice would both stimulate and soothe her hot skin. She even knew she wouldn't be allowed to climax in that round.
But he wasn't finished. "Round two is where I whip you until you come. The spreader bar will be moved to just above your knees. You'll only have the stimulation of the whip, Marcella. No physical contact and no dildos will be used."
Oh, but her panties were drenched just from the sound of his voice. She might have disclosed her submissiveness, but they'd never discussed the issue of masochism. With regard to that, she had a mild tolerance for pain. Too much and she wouldn't be able to orgasm. "That'll take a little practice," she said. "I can come that way. I've done it before, though not in a long time. I can do it for you."
Sounds of his uneven breathing drifted over her shoulder. She wanted him to press his body against hers so she could know whether this aroused him as much as it did her. "You're a very mouthy submissive, Cella."
She loved the way he shortened her name. He'd only ever done it those few times he'd indulged in spirits enough to make him relax his normally iron control. She liked to think it revealed the way he really thought about her, an unguarded moment when she could see the parts he kept hidden.
"You haven't agreed to use me, Sean. I thought we were still negotiating. You're laying out the conditions I have to accept before you'll agree to use me as your sub."
He chuckled, a distinctly unhappy sound. She wanted to turn, to take him in her arms, but she knew he would issue an automatic refusal if she pushed him too far. "And you're okay with the conditions so far?"
He inhaled softly, and she had the distinct impression that he was smelling her hair. He gathered her tresses and arranged them to fall over one of her shoulders, but he kept his hand tangled in her hair. "Round three fulfills a promise. You'll be bound to a table, spread out as an offering. After you're teased and denied, every person there will get to come close and see your naked body. Two donors will be allowed to touch you. You will be brought to orgasm twice, and not necessarily by my hand."
Shock robbed her brain of any coherent response. The original program, the one she had so carefully prepared according to Sean's specifications, didn't mention anyone else being allowed to participate. Marcella didn't know how comfortable she would be with a stranger touching her intimately.
"It's the ultimate gift a slave can give her master, Cella. Complete trust. You would have to trust that I won't let anyone harm you, that I won't let anyone violate your hard limits." Bitterness tinged his voice, making his words ring hollow.
They hadn't discussed hard limits. Marcella hadn't thought she would be allowed to have them. The progression of torture had been decided already. It should have been a matter of her agreeing to a specific order of activities.
She swallowed the lump in her throat. She trusted nobody more than Sean, but his tone didn't match his declaration. "It would please you to have another dom fuck your submissive while you and a roomful of people looked on?"
He made a strangled sound. "Please me? Do you really care about pleasing me, Cella? Or are you just volunteering to do this because it's for an important cause?"
Moisture evaporated from her lips. She licked them. "Both. We've been over this. Why can't you believe me, Sean? Why is this so difficult for you? You didn't hesitate for a second when Gretchen volunteered. Are you really so opposed to the idea of seeing me naked? Of having actual physical contact with me?"
He tightened his grip on her hair and turned her around. The ferocity of his expression made her knees weak. "I know Gretchen. I know what she likes and doesn't like. I know what turns her on. I know what makes her climax. I don't know any of your triggers, Marcella. I don't know your limits, and you don't know mine."
She searched his eyes, looking for the source of his irritation. It hadn't taken her long after she'd first begun working for him to determine that Sean's words rarely indicated the true cause of his upset. When she spoke, she kept her voice soft. "Including other doms wasn't part of the original agreement. I have no record of any extra donations. Is Gretchen making a power play? Is that why you're so angry?"
He jerked his head back, lifting his chin and pressing his lips together. Bingo. She'd found the true cause of his anger. Releasing his hold on her hair, he blinked away his surprise. Five steps put him near an expensive vase. She watched, uncertain where his temper might take him. This could derail their negotiation.
He flexed and relaxed his fist, repeating the motion several times as he brought his temper under control. "She went behind my back and solicited two more donors for this. When she told me about it yesterday, I let her have her way. She presented it as a gift. I honestly don't care if she wants to have multiple partners. We're not exclusive. I don't even see her that often."
"She's the one who framed it as an expression of ultimate trust." Marcella didn't need to know more to understand how Gretchen had manipulated both Sean and the situation. "That doesn't sound like something you'd come up with."
Now he turned back to face her. Marcella hadn't moved. "Thank you for volunteering, Marcella, but I can't do that to you. I know what it means for you to ask to do this for me, and I can't abuse your trust by allowing strangers to put their hands on you."
She crossed to her desk and lifted a program from the small box perched on the corner. "Nowhere on here does it mention additional donors or the inclusion of anyone else in your show. I have no record of additional donations. Who are they?"
Sean shrugged. "She didn't say."
Marcella fought the urge to laugh. "And you didn't ask?"
"I didn't care about that. I cared that she went behind my back. I cared that she was trying to play power games with me. I planned to stop seeing her after this."
His attitude exasperated Marcella. She perused the program as a way to keep him from seeing her annoyance.
A rueful laugh rumbled from his chest. "She accused me of seeing this as a business deal."
Marcella snapped her fingers. "A business deal. That's it. If Gretchen set this up and she's no longer participating, then the offer is void. Changing the submissive necessarily changes the parameters of the demonstration because the limits and preferences change. Everyone will understand the altered expectations."
They could change the progression of the rounds to better fit Marcella's preferences and limits. However, she didn't know how Sean would take a suggestion like that. After all, he had decided the original choreography. Part of Marcella wanted to ask if they could change the plan, but a larger part of her was afraid he would decide not to use her if she set limits that significantly altered things.
Sean watched, amused, as the wheels in Marcella's brain powered full speed ahead. He loved the way her eyes sparkled when she had an idea. She snatched up her notebook and her laptop from her desk. The fact that she kept a notebook and a computer together made him smile. Marcella always took notes on paper. Once her ideas were fully formed, she digitized them. E-mails, schedules, and appointments would pour from her fingertips and appear on his phone and calendar.
She crossed the room and set the laptop on an ottoman. After kicking off her shoes, she settled onto the sofa and folded her feet under her luscious bottom. The blue cover of the notebook disappeared as she opened to a fresh page. Her pen flew over the paper. He had no clue what she could possibly be writing, but he knew better than to interrupt.
The first time he'd set eyes on her, it had taken him almost five minutes to form a coherent thought. Over a year later, he only managed to function around her if he didn't get too close.
She always smelled like cinnamon and vanilla. When he came really close, he sometimes caught a whiff of coconut. He wanted to bury his face in every part of her body to find out exactly where she used each scent.
He sat down on the chair across from her and raked his gaze over her body. The silk blouse she wore hugged the curves of her breasts and dipped down to show a bit of cleavage. He imagined licking her there. He would draw her shirt over her head and remove her delicate pink lacy bra. Though he hadn't seen it, he knew it would match the exact shade of soft pink in her shirt and in her lipstick. He would tweak and suck her nipples until they pebbled and she arched beneath him. Gasps and moans would fall from her lips.
Her hair, light brown with hints of ginger, fell over her shoulders. The ends curled. It had felt silky soft when he'd used it to turn her around before. He ached to feel it sliding through his fingers, tickling down his neck and chest. Brushing his thighs as she closed those kissable lips around his cock.
"Round one should feature several toys. The vendors all promised a percentage of profits from the event in donations. I've already cleaned up the selection they sent over and set them out in your dungeon." She lifted her gaze, meeting his briefly. Vendors would be on hand after the demonstration to sell sex toys and accessories to the titillated crowd. Sales of the implements he used in the scene would most likely be higher than those he bypassed. "I thought you would want to see which ones Gretchen liked best and use those. You mentioned using a heater and clamps. I think you should--"
He held up a hand to halt her flow of words. Round one would showcase his expertise with slow sexual teasing. She definitely had a way of reducing a sensual experience to items on a business agenda. "Marcella, as the submissive, you don't get to choose the toys. You can ask. You can beg. You can't choose or insist. That's not negotiable with me."
Color stained her cheeks. "I'm sorry, Sean. I just meant we'd raise more money if we showcased a variety of toys."
"I know what you meant. We'll try them out, but I'll be the one deciding which get used and which don't. Speak now if you want out of this. I won't force you to do anything you don't want to do." He held his breath and counted the long seconds that ticked past as she studied his face.
He wondered if his face pleased her. After he'd made his first million dollars, he had stopped accepting compliments from people. Most of them said what they thought he wanted to hear. Not Marcella. At her interview, she had straightened his tie without asking for permission, taking him to task when she found out he never untied the knot. He just loosened it to fit over his head. The sparks that flew from her hands through his chest had made him want to strip her naked and bend her over the back of the nearest couch. Later she'd told him to get rid of all his red ties. They didn't suit his coloring.
The way she sat, knees turned modestly to one side, turned him on more than if she'd knelt naked in front of him with her knees spread to reveal the soft folds of her pussy. Would it be light pink or dusky rose? How responsive would she be to his tongue and fingers exploring her wetness?
With her feet under her ass, the fabric of her skirt pulled snugly against her curves. He wanted to dig his fingertips into her hips as he sank his dick into her tightness.
"I wouldn't have suggested it if I wasn't willing." She dropped her gaze and stared at her notebook. "Round two features whips. That's the only one that worries me. I-I do okay with a flogger, but I didn't care for the cat or the single-tail at all."
Sean's attention jerked from carnal thoughts and landed on her embarrassed revelation. Earlier she'd mentioned needing to practice with a whip. "Everyone has different levels of pain they enjoy, Cella."
"I know." He had to strain to hear her. She drew a slow line in her notebook. "I'm just worried that I won't be able to endure enough. I've never been with anyone who used a cane or a tawse on me. I can't say I've ever wanted to try those things."
A fact filtered through Sean's consciousness. He'd kept his hands off her for more reasons than simply because he didn't want to chance driving her away. "Marcella, shouldn't Eric be here? Shouldn't you ask him if he's okay with this first?"
Her brow furrowed, and her mouth puckered into a frown. "Eric?"
"Your boyfriend. Your master." He had to force the last word out. If he were her master, he wouldn't loan her out to anyone. He wouldn't allow anyone to put their hands on her. He wouldn't allow her to work insane hours for another man. Or woman. He would want all her attention focused on him, much as it was now.
She lifted her pretty brown eyes and brushed her bangs away from her thick, full lashes. "Eric and I broke up almost a year ago."
He felt like an ass, and not just because he welcomed the news. How had he not known? "Because you work for me?"
"That was the final nail in the coffin." She shrugged. "We wanted different things out of the relationship. It wasn't going to last, no matter what."
"What different things?" Though he knew damn well it wasn't his business, he couldn't stop himself from asking. She knew every detail of his personal life, but she'd engineered it so that he knew only select things about her. And he'd let her. Oh, he had rationalized it by telling himself he respected her privacy. Facing the truth meant admitting cowardice. He hadn't wanted to hear her talk about her boyfriend.
"He wanted a full-time sex slave, and that's just not me. I don't mind kneeling naked at my master's feet during a scene, but expecting me to cook and clean the house naked is too much. Hell, expecting me to do all the cooking and cleaning is too much. Plus he didn't seem to care about me, only my obedience. He punished me for the smallest infractions."
She trailed off and shrugged as if she hadn't said something that opened up a vast list of questions. Her pen flew over the lines in her notebook.
"Marcella, is Eric the reason you don't like the whip?"
Her momentum faltered. She tapped the pen against her teeth. "Maybe a little, but I've always had a low threshold for pain. He preferred to deny me attention and affection. I'd rather be whipped than be hurt emotionally."
Sean hated doms who disciplined their subs emotionally. The whole point of having a D/s relationship was for mutual pleasure and to deepen the emotional bond between the couple. Nothing good could result from insisting on emotional control over another person. Everyone had a right to feel what they felt. "That's abusive."
Her shoulders lifted and fell again. "I don't think he meant to be mean. He wanted me to beg for his time and attention, but I'm just not that kind of pushy, needy sub. I'm sure he'll find some woman with daddy issues and they'll get along just fine."
He let her have the evasion. She'd obviously moved on. Briefly, he wondered who she'd been dating if not Eric. He knew she'd spent several of her days off with a man, and he'd gone out of his way to not be around when her date had picked her up. He hadn't needed visual confirmation that he didn't stand a chance in hell with her. Before the demons of doubt could dig their talons in too deep, he ditched those thoughts. She was here with him now, and she had just promised to be his for the next three days.
"Round three." He stood and held out his hand to her--the first time he'd ever instigated contact. Now that she'd agreed to be his submissive, even if it was only temporary, he could let down his guard a bit. As soon as he had her in his dungeon, he'd be touching her all over. "I'll bring you to orgasm twice. You'll have no input into the choreography. Enough talk, Cella. We need to practice if I'm going to know your limits."
She looked at his hand and shook her head. "I'm not ready, Sean. Give me thirty minutes. I need to shave."
He blinked. "Shave?"
"Well, yes. I didn't anticipate being naked in front of anyone today, so I didn't shave."
He dropped his hand, a little stung by her efficient, businesslike rejection. However, the image of her naked body tied to his cross more than made up for it. He checked the time on his cell. "Thirty minutes. Come to the dungeon wearing only a robe."