I gave myself one night to fall apart, cry, and put myself together again. Derek’s words had hurt, and my pride told me I was a fool if I ever threw myself at him again.
But my time with Derek had helped me to see that my pride was a heavy burden, and often a destructive one. My determination, however, was no less important and no less potent than it had been before I met him.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” Smith asked, his voice soft with concern.
I knew the Rule Breaker in Chief wasn’t worried about allowing me to accompany him to Decadence against Kennedy’s orders. He was worried about me getting hurt.
My eyes found his silver ones. “I can’t say I’m thrilled about doing this in front of you, but it’s the right thing to do. It’s the only thing to do. If Derek doesn’t listen to me after this, I don’t think there’s any way for me to get through to him.”
My fierce friend offered me an uncharacteristically gentle smile. “He doesn’t deserve you, you know. And if it makes you feel better, I won’t check out your ass.”
“You’d better not check out anything else, either.”
“I make no promises.”
“Smith!” I slapped him on the arm, and he chuckled.
“I promise I won’t look at you. Not like that.” His expression turned more serious. “I don’t think of you like that, Sharon. You’re like my very deadly, very hot little sister. And I’ll kick the ass of anyone who looks at you in a way I don’t like. You’re safe here with me.”
The words awoke a warm glow in my chest. The depth of his affection for me was unexpected and more welcome than I could have imagined. I had always worked so hard to prove I could be one of the guys. It had never occurred to me that they could value me as anything else. Smith didn’t view me in the same way he did Clayton, but he still cared about me.
“Thanks,” I whispered.
I glanced around the club, hunting for Derek. Smith and I stood just inside the entrance, and I had yet to spot him. I had to get on with this before I lost my nerve. “It’s now or never,” I mumbled as I toed out of my flats. Smith would look after them – and my coat – for me.
My fingers clutched at the lapels of my khaki trench coat, twisting in the fabric with a brief shot of nerves.
“Hey.” Smith gave my arm a little squeeze. “You’ve got this.”
Taking a deep breath, I nodded and began to undo the five large buttons with trembling fingers. Cool air hit my midriff when the fabric parted. It slid over my skin with the coat, making every inch of my flesh pebble as it was revealed.
When I stood in nothing but my see-through black lace bra and panties, I could no longer meet Smith’s eyes.
“You look beautiful.” There wasn’t a trace of lustful heat my friend’s words, only genuine admiration. “No matter what happens, I’ll be here for you.”
My first steps away from the safety of Smith were small, hesitant. My eyes searched the club. No Derek. If I couldn’t see him, I would just have to make myself nice and visible.
Calling upon my determination, I embraced its steely kiss, allowing it to cut away my fear and self-consciousness. I placed one foot in front of the other, and soon I found a steady, confident stride. Curious stares rolled over my flesh like dozens of little cold marbles. I allowed myself to find the sensation interesting rather than frightening or repulsive. If anything, it was… empowering.
Heels clicked along the floor beside me as someone joined me on my short journey to the center of the dungeon.
“Everything okay?” Clara asked.
“Fine.” I confirmed simply. This was none of Clara’s business, and for once I didn’t care to pry into hers. I was here for Derek, and nothing else.
Content that I was well within the view of everyone who cared to look, I sank down on my knees, positioning myself in the slave pose Derek had taught me. I settled back on my heels and spread my legs. My hands rested on my thighs, palms-up. My head was bowed, my back straight.
Clara was silent above me for a moment, then sighed. “I’ll go find him for you.” Her stilettos clicked off, becoming fainter before being swallowed by the pulsing music.
I settled in, keeping my focus inward rather than allowing myself to think about all of the people watching me. I was dressed as a submissive. Hell, I was barely dressed in anything at all. And I had presented my nearly-naked self to dozens of people.
It was my own personal form of penance. I had never allowed anyone but Derek to see me as a submissive. I had hidden my submission away in the private rooms. This was a declaration, an apology he couldn’t ignore.
I recognized his furious footfalls seconds before he reached me.
“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” His anger slammed down on me hard enough to make my shoulders slump.
I straightened them within seconds, but I kept my eyes appropriately downcast. “I’m apologizing, Sir.”
“Get out,” he seethed. “Put on some goddamn clothes, and get out of my club right now.”
“No?” The word was heavy with furious incredulity. “You don’t get to say no. That was an order.”
My eyes lifted to his, revealing my defiance. “Well, I’m not feeling very obedient this evening. I guess you’ll have to punish me.”
“Get up, Sharon,” he snapped.
I shook my head. “I told you; I’m not feeling very obedient.”
His jaw ticked and his muscles bulged with his frustration. He was every bit as shredded up inside as he had been the night before. My heart ached to see him so tormented. He needed to find control so badly, but I had hurt him too deeply. His trust wouldn’t be won back easily.
But there was nothing easy about what I was doing. I had stripped away my clothes and my pride for him. If he threw me out, I would be just as destroyed inside as he was now.
“Please, Derek,” I breathed. “I’m sorry.”
“We are not doing this here,” he ground out, running a frustrated hand through his hair.
“Then where do you want to do it?” I kept up my implacable façade. He had to know I wasn’t going to back down from this.
Molten gold churned in his eyes.
“Everywhere,” he growled. “If you don’t leave now, I’m going to fuck you everywhere, every way. I’m going to punish every inch of you, inside and out. So I suggest you get out, before I can’t stop myself.”
Fear and something more delicious stirred low in my belly.
“I don’t want you to stop yourself, Sir,” I whispered tremulously. He needed this. I needed it.
Absolution. I needed his punishment so badly it made my heart hurt. I needed his forgiveness every bit as much as he needed to punish me for hurting him.
A vicious, hungry rumble vibrated from his chest and through his corded arms as they closed around me. I closed my eyes in bliss at his touch, and I felt the world tilt. Air left me in a rush when my abdomen collided with his shoulder. Blood rushed to my head, and everything turned upside down. My hair swayed as I began to move
I was slung over Derek’s shoulder. He was carrying me away from the dungeon, away from the curious eyes watching us. For a moment, I feared he was going to physically throw me out into the street, but then I recognized the corridor that lead to the private rooms, and relief washed through me.
“Thank you,” I said softly.“Don’t thank me. You’ll regret it soon enough.”
That's all for now! I'm so excited to share this story with y'all!