One corner of Derek’s mouth ticked up as he turned his full attention back to me. With the bar at my back and his large body in front of me, I had the sudden sensation of being trapped. He was so close that the heat of him teased across my skin. I shifted my weight on my stool, angling my body away from his in a futile attempt to escape that intoxicating warmth. His twisted smile became more pronounced.
“I don’t appreciate being labelled as creepy, but I’ll easily admit that I’ve acted like a total ass. Can I buy you a drink to begin to make it up to you? I really can play nice. If that’s what you want.”
The playful spark in his eyes held a darker edge. That lustful light let me know that he would rather not play nice when it came to me. And damn it if that knowledge didn’t make an answering darkness coil deep within me.
“As a Dominant, Carter is a master manipulator. He won’t need to knock you down to get you flat on your back.” Smith’s warning snaked across my mind, but it didn’t fully douse the unhealthy heat inside me.
“You’re being creepy again,” I pointed out lightly. “But I do appreciate a man who can admit when he’s wrong.”
He laughed, a rich, breathtaking sound. It illuminated his features, wiping away any traces of cocky amusement or frustrated ire. He looked… free. His melted caramel eyes were almost boyish in their genuine humor.
“You’re a bit of an ass yourself, you know,” he informed me when his laughter died down to a chuckle. “Most people aren’t so brazenly impolite, even if the person they’re talking to hasn’t been so nice.”
I shrugged, but I couldn’t hold back my answering smile; his pleasure was infectious. I might have been offended if it weren’t for the fact that he was right: I had been acting like an ass. If the accusation had come from Smith, he would have earned himself a slap. But from Derek, it wasn’t an accusation so much as playful banter. He made the insult sound like an admiring compliment.
“I prefer the term ‘blunt,’” I told him with a grin. “Maybe even ‘ballsy,’ if you want to be crass about it.”
“Oh, I can be crass, babe. I like to talk dirty.” He winked at me.
“Creep.” My pointed accusation was ruined by my amused smile.
“Damn.” He smothered his own smile, doing his best to school his expression into something contrite. “I promise I can be good.”
His attempt at wide-eyed innocence didn’t suit him at all. He looked so ridiculous that I couldn’t hold back my laugh, ruining his efforts to keep a straight face.
“Well, if you promise to behave yourself, I guess I will take that drink.”
“I wouldn’t make that promise to anyone else, sugar. But I’ll make an exception in your case, as a form of penance. Which is something else I don’t do, by the way.” He eyed me carefully. “Maybe Clara’s right; maybe you will make a good Domme.”
The way the lines of his face drew downward let me know that the thought didn’t please him.
I did my best to ignore my unease at having disappointed him. I didn’t like disappointing people. It was a reflexive thing, an ingrained response from years spent trying to please my father.
Shaking it off, I grasped at the opportunity to further my mission.
“That’s actually why I came back,” I said quickly. “I wanted to talk to you about what it takes to be a Dominant. Even though you pissed me off, you seem to know what you’re talking about, and I want to do this right. Safe, Sane, Consensual, right? It’s my job to uphold that.” My lips took on a wry twist as I added, “No matter how creepy my instructor is.”
Derek’s brows rose in disbelief. “You want to sub for me to learn how to be a good Domme?”
“Maybe,” I hedged, my fears getting the best of me. I knew I should accept immediately, but nerves made me shy away from the commitment. “I’d like to talk about it more before making up my mind about that,” I amended.
He considered me carefully for a moment. I was struck by the uncomfortable sensation of being pinned in place under his scrutiny. Did he approve of what he saw?
Stop that! My entrenched people-pleasing would get me into trouble here if I didn’t focus on holding my own around this man.
Finally, he nodded, and I let out the breath I didn’t know I was holding.
“Okay. We can talk about it over that drink and then revisit my proposal. What’s your poison?” That signature smolder Clara had warned me about threatened to make me melt for him at the mention of his proposal.
Submitting to him. Shit, I needed a drink.
That's all for now! I am so excited to share the next story in the Impossible Series with y'all! Release date TBA soon, but I'm hoping to have it out in a month, tops :). You can stay updated on Rogue on Goodreads.