“Everything okay?” Wes called from his bedroom.
Aimee looked from her shaking hands to the mascara smudged all over her eyelid. “I’m fine.”
Her boyfriend appeared in the doorway and put a large, warm hand on her lower back. Nearly a year since they’d officially been together and the word boyfriend still tripped her up. She was too old for boyfriends. The word was too small for what was between them. She was his. He was hers. Her sir with a small s.
“Come here.” He turned her around and leaned her back against the sink. Reaching around her for a cotton swab, he tapped it against the faucet and brought it to her eye. “Close.”
She shut her lids and he gently ran the cool, damp tip along her eyelid, sweeping up her smudged mascara. Big, delicate man. He kissed her between her brows as she blinked her eyes open.
“Of course I’m nervous. Your whole family is going to be there.”
“They’ll love you.”
She’d weaseled her way out of the Oliver family Thanksgiving, but bailing on Christmas was not an option. Wes had promised they would show up on her doorstep—all fifty-odd of them—if she didn’t join them. They’d been horrified she spent her Thanksgiving alone.
Hank and Ed had gone to Florida with Ed’s parents. Her own family was on the other side of the country and she liked keeping it that way. She’d met his parents. She’d even spent an afternoon with his grandfather. That was enough family for her. But it wasn’t for Wes. She was doing this, facing the siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, and assorted extended family because he needed her to.
She sighed and pressed her forehead into his broad chest. “So you say.”
“That’s it,” he snapped.
He whipped her around and bent her over the sink, hiking up her skirt and yanking her tights down. He spanked her once, hard.
“Can we stay home and do this instead?”
He spanked her again. “Absolutely not.” His hand landed firmly on her cheek once more. She hissed and rose up on her toes, reaching and flinching at the same time. “But if you’re a very good girl, you’ll be rewarded.” He dipped his fingers between her legs and she whimpered as he slid one, then two deep inside her.
She braced her hands on the counter and turned her head. “A quick fuck before we go? To help me relax?”
“Of course.” He unzipped his pants and slid inside her, grabbing hold of her hair at her nape as he blanketed his chest over her back and bottomed out. “I love you, Aimee. You’ll be fine today. It’s only a few hours.” He punctuated each sentence with a thrust of his hips. “A few hours, then you’re mine for a week. We don’t have to leave the bed.”
Going without condoms was a recent and welcome development. He could bend her over and take her at a moment’s notice and Aimee didn’t mind at all.
“We’ll have to eat at some point.”
“I’ll bring you food.”
“You gonna tie me to the bed until New Years?”
He reared up and spanked her. “That’s an excellent idea.”
“I have them sometimes.”
He responded by wrapping his hand around her hip, his fingertips digging into her flesh hard enough to leave marks. The faint red prints would remind her of him all day, something tangible to cling to when she was overwhelmed. Aimee’s stomach tightened, pleasure spooling higher with every press of his fingers, every deep thrust of his cock inside her. She arched her back and rose up on her toes, thighs shaking with the effort. Bracing her hands against the wall in front of her, she rocked her hips back into his, winding tighter, closer to her peak. Her muscles clenched around him.
“What do you need?”
“Hurt me. Pull my hair.”
He pulled her hair slowly, bowing her back and slamming his hips against hers. The sharp ache from her scalp, the painful arch of her back, the shaking of her exhausted thighs, met and magnified the dragging pull of his cock inside her. She came with a cry, shuddering around him as it rocketed through her, sharp and tight and hot. Wes punctuated her moan, forcing her breath from her with the last deep thrusts as he followed.
He collapsed on her back, panting. “Feel better?”
Aimee lowered her heels to the floor, spent. “Yeah.”
He patted her butt and slid free, resting his forehead between her shoulders as he reached a long arm behind him and handed her a washcloth. “Good. We need to get going.”
With his warm bulk surrounding her, Aimee would have been happy never to move again. She looked back at him over her shoulder, her heart stretching the confines of her ribs.
“I love you.”
He kissed her shoulder. “I know. Come on.” He helped her to her feet, rubbing his hands over the kinks in her back before he turned her around and kissed her. “I love you, too.”
Wes squeezed Aimee’s hand over the center console. She’d gone quiet over the last couple of hours in the car, and now she sat beside him in his parents’ driveway, chewing her lip.
“They’re going to love you.” He picked up her hand and kissed it.
She turned her pale face to him. “But what if they hate me?”
“But what if they do? I’m too old for you. And we have to lie through our teeth about how we met. And I was your teacher—”
“We’re not lying to anyone, we’re just omitting some things they don’t want to know anyway.”
“I know. I don’t know how to do this.”
He kissed her hand again. “I know.”
“Don’t leave me alone.”
“I won’t.” She would be fine, his family would love her, because he did. And if he was going to ask her to move in with him for real, instead of occupying a drawer and half the bathroom, they wouldn’t be able to avoid his family forever. “Are you ready?”
She nodded reflexively, her gaze unfocused, chest rising and falling rapidly.
“Hey, deep breaths, okay?”
She followed his count, breathing in, then letting it out. When her breath was steady and slow, he let go of her hand and got out of the car.
The door opened as soon as their feet hit the porch. “I was starting to think you two were gonna sit out there all day.” Gramps was first in line to greet them.
Aimee stooped to his chair level and gave him a kiss on the cheek. “Merry Christmas, John.”
The old man grinned up at Wes. “I like this one, she’s got manners. Cute, too.”
“You think I won’t fight you because you’re old?”
“You think I can’t take you from here?”
“Good god, would the two of you stop?” His mom reached up on her toes to hug him. “Hi, Aimee. Sweetie, can you grab another case from the garage and bring it out back? Aimee can come with me.”
Aimee blanched, eyes wide. He’d just promised not to leave her alone.
“What, are you going to leave me sitting in front of the door like a damn decoration? Aimee can help me first.”
Wes said a silent prayer of thanks for meddling grandfathers.
“Of course. Whatever you need.” Aimee’s face relaxed but her white-knuckle grip on his grandfather’s chair said she was still thrown off by the idea of separating for even a few minutes.
He kissed her cheek and whispered, “Stay with Gramps, he’ll fend off the aunts until I get back.”
Of course, he should have known the trip between the garage and the back porch, short though the actual distance was, required passing through his entire family. Thronged around the kitchen island, eating and drinking, he had to stop for hugs, hellos, Merry Christmases, and where’s your girlfriends from everyone before he made it to the garage.
When he got back, Aimee was sitting on the arm of the couch in the small, formal living room, poring over the photo album in his grandfather’s lap. Whatever happened, if Gramps liked her, that was all the family approval Wes needed.
His father clapped a hand on his shoulder. “She’s got Dad wrapped around her finger, huh?”
“She does that.”
“I can tell.”
“I’m going to ask her to move in with me.” He blurted the words out loud for the first time.
“That won’t be an issue with school?”
“No. They know we’re together. It’s not a problem as long as I stay out of her department.”
“Good.” Wes’s dad gave his shoulder another squeeze and kept moving, circulating through the houseful of family.
Aimee looked up from the album and grinned at him. “I had no idea you were such a chunk as a baby. Gramps is filling me in on all your most embarrassing childhood moments.”
He fake-groaned and took a seat on the couch beside her. “Of course he is.” He rested his head on her thigh and looked at the album spread on his grandfather’s lap. They were up to bath pictures, perfect. But naked baby photos were a small price to pay for having Aimee with his family, relaxed and happy.
“That’s what you get for leaving me alone.”
“I know. I’m back now, though. We should make the rounds before they descend on you.”
Aimee sighed. “Duty calls.” She kissed his grandfather’s cheek. “Remember what we talked about.”
Gramps tapped his temple with a shaky finger. “I got it right here.”
He took her hand and led her toward the fray. “What are you two up to?”
“Oh, nothing. He’s going to talk to your mom about preserving the family photo albums. We wouldn’t want to lose chubby baby Wes pictures to physical damage.” She pinched his side. “I offered to do the work.”
“You’re going to end up with the entire family’s collections sitting in your office, you know that, right?”
“Your family’s important to you. I want them to like me.”
Later, when they were somewhere infinitely more private, he was going to thank her properly. For now, he squeezed her hand. “They’ll like you anyway, you know. Come on.”
She had survived. Aimee face-planted onto Wes’s bed with her clothes still on, face un-washed, teeth stained with the glass of wine Wes had insisted she accept.
“You don’t have to drink it, just take it. They’ll think you’re pregnant.”
“Don’t ask, it’s where their minds go.”
Now that they were home, Aimee had lost all energy and motivation to even undress herself.
Wes unzipped her boots and tugged them off her feet. His hands traveled up the length of her legs and under her skirt to pull down her tights. His touch was unhurried, gentle, not the frantic rush to get at her skin from this morning.
He nudged her to lift her hips, so he could slide the wide elastic of her skirt over her butt and off of her. He turned her onto her back, and pulled her sweater over her head. He slipped a hand under her to unhook her bra, brushing a thumb of the imprint the underwire left on her skin as he tossed it to the corner.
“You are so beautiful.”
“And you should be less clothed.”
After spending the afternoon and evening surrounded by people, she wanted to feel his skin against hers. To be alone with him. She needed him so much it terrified her sometimes.
He pulled his sweater by the neck over his head, taking his undershirt with it. His hair crackled and lifted from his scalp in the dry air. She laughed and reached to smooth it back down and tuck it behind his ear, rewarded with a small static shock for her trouble. He caught her hand and held it to his stubbled cheek.
“I want to ask you something, and you don’t have to answer now, but think about it, okay?”
She braced herself. “Okay.”
“I want you to move in with me.”
Her stomach clenched. Even though she’d suspected this might be coming, she still didn’t know what to say. It was too soon. She didn’t have time to think. His half-hopeful, half-terrified expression wasn’t helping. “Wes, I—”
He put a finger to her lips. “Think about it, please. Your lease is up at the end of winter term and you practically live here anyway. I know it’s a little further from campus, but my place is bigger than yours and it’s closer to downtown—”
She bit his finger gently to shut him up. “You’re right. It would make sense.”
“So you’ll move in?” His face was caught between puppy-dog excitement that she might say yes and disappointment at her too-practical reason.
“I’ll think about it. I promise. I like my space.” Or at least she used to. She did spend most of her time here. And it was bigger than hers. They could find a way to divide the space so she had places to hide when she needed to be alone.
“I know. You can take whatever you need.”
His eager face in the lamplight reminded her of the boy in the photo albums she’d pored over with his grandfather. He wanted this, badly, but he didn’t want to tell her how much. He would want her to make the choice on her own, like everything else.
“Come here.” She didn’t want space now. She pulled his body down to hers and kissed him softly. “I love you, you know.”
Sometimes sex was a complicated dance of dominance and submission. Sometimes it was the two of them, twining under the sheets, skin to skin, with nothing else between them. When Wes kissed the faint fingertip marks that dotted her hips, the tender bruise that the edge of the vanity left on her belly, Aimee knew she would say yes, she would give up the final, tangible tie to her old life. When he slid inside her, made love to her with a slow and steady beat that drove her almost to madness, she knew she wasn’t giving up anything, she was gaining everything. She was home.
While Wes had not kept Aimee tied to the bed for the entire week between Christmas and Hank and Ed’s New Year’s party, he had spent a great deal of time plotting her reward. She’d survived his family and she’d promised to consider moving in with him—she’d given him the only gifts he could ask for. In return, he would give her whatever her devious little heart desired. And if it sweetened the prospect of living with him, well, he wasn’t above using a bit of persuasion to bring her around.
He hefted a bag out of the backseat and took Aimee’s hand. She still insisted on parking two blocks away from Hank and Ed’s house, and the icy sidewalks would be treacherous even if she wasn’t wearing four-inch heels.
Once inside, they shed their jackets and handed them to the coat check sub, but Wes kept hold of his supplies. He’d made arrangements with Hank and Ed to take over a corner of the basement for a time. He didn’t want to damage their floors upstairs.
“What’s in the bag, sir?” She eyed him suspiciously when he wouldn’t put it in the closet.
A shiver ran up his spine every time she dropped into using the honorific. “You’ll find out soon enough. Go say hello, I’ll be right back.” He gave her a light spank and sent her into the kitchen while he set up downstairs.
He found her with Ed’s arm wrapped around her shoulder, the two of them chattering away. Hank shot him a patently fake long-suffering eye-roll, the kind of look that asked and answered its own question. What are we going to do with these two? Exactly what they want from us.
Hank and Wes patted shoulders. Ed refused. “Ugh. Dudes. Hug me for real.”
Aimee smirked and sipped her mocktail, shifting on her feet. Her hair was piled in a tight bun on top of her head, a loose, shimmery blue dress skimmed her curves to her knees. She looked demure, for now. Soon, she’d be stripped to the same navy and black lingerie she’d worn the first time they met.
His groin tightened watching her shift and squirm as they stood in the kitchen talking, greeting friends as people filtered in. Anyone else might suspect her shoes were uncomfortable. Wes knew she was shifting around his plug in her ass. Before long, everyone else would, too.
“Is everything to your liking downstairs?”
Hank’s question broke him out of his thoughts of what was coming. “Yes, perfect. Thanks.”
“Whenever you’re ready, then. I have to say I’m intrigued by this set-up.”
Wes took Aimee’s empty glass from her hand. “Are you ready?”
He took her hand and brought her to the basement. She stopped in her tracks when she saw the contents of his bag spread on the floor over a soft mat.
“You can say no, Aimee.”
“I know. I’m not going to, this is perfect.” She turned and wrapped herself around him, kissing his collarbone.
“Good.” He pushed her away with a kiss to her forehead. “Take your dress off, shoes too.”
Aimee shucked her dress and the world fell away, his attention focused completely on getting this right for her. It wouldn’t be exactly like the image she’d shared with him, but he would recreate it for her as best he could. A length of rope hung from an attachment point above them.
He placed Aimee under it and took down her hair, scattering pins on the floor. He gathered it in a loose ponytail at her nape and tied the line around it. A second line wrapped around her forearms, pinning them to her lower back, throwing her balance off-kilter. She shivered as he gently tugged the rope against her scalp, her nipples tightening as her skin rippled with goosebumps.
He circled her, prowling around her, stopping in front of her to push down the soft cups of her lingerie, leaving her breasts exposed. He tugged her nipples, preparing her.
As she bent at the hips, he picked up the line tied to the heavy weight on the floor. He trailed the rope over his palm until it turned to chain, and finally to the clamps. He attached one, then the other, to her nipples, trapping her between the rope pulling her hair and the clamps pulling her breasts. She was held taut, her muscles straining to hold her in the awkward position. Every twitch, every flinch, would pull on her breasts or hair or both.
He stood behind her and stroked a hand over her bare ass, dipping his fingers between her cheeks to jiggle the base of the plug. She moaned, flinched, and hissed in rapid succession. Soon her brain wouldn’t be able to sort what was pain and what was pleasure. He slipped his fingers between her legs and found her wet, her pussy swollen and hot under his touch.
He slid two fingers inside her, she jerked and moaned again. “Where are you, Aimee?”
“Green.” He moved his fingers inside her, sliding against the heavy plug through the thin barrier of flesh. “Oh, god, green.”
He stepped away from her, leaving her empty and shuddering, and picked up the soft leather paddle.
“Five.” She wouldn’t be able to hold herself up for much more than that, her legs were already twitching from the effort to keep her upright.
He flicked his wrist and left a bright red stripe across her ass. She flinched forward, tugging her hair, she reared back, tugging her breasts. She wobbled, struggling for balance. He slid two fingers inside her again, resting his thumb on the plug, working her from both sides. She clenched around his fingers, hard. His cock swelled. He would be inside her tight, wet, heat soon enough.
He stepped back and flicked his wrist again. Watching the riot of sensations reel through her body left his cock pressed tight against his fly, throbbing in time with his thundering heart. Between each stroke of the paddle, he rocked his fingers inside her, feeling her get closer with every ripple of her muscles.
On four, her whole body shook and trembled, caught between the floor and ceiling, her scalp, her nipples, his fingers and the plug inside her.
Wes leaned over and whispered as he slipped his fingers out of her to make tight circles on her clit. “One more, good girl. Can you take one more?”
She tried to nod, realized her mistake too late, and whimpered against the pain. A light sheen of sweat had broken out on her face, smudging her eye makeup. Disheveled, wanton, desperate, and his.
“One more.” He worked his fingers over her, drawing her up tight and close, ready to fly with the next strike.
He stepped back, flicked his wrist, and watched as her body scrambled to process it. He dropped the paddle and resisted the urge to bury his cock in her clenching pussy, using his fingers instead to work her through the orgasm.
When her body finally went limp, he wrapped an arm around her chest to hold her up, and quickly released her hair and arms. He untied the chain for the clamps from the weight and brought her body to the floor. She wailed as he removed the clamps, the pain of blood flowing back into her nipples bringing tears to her eyes.
He tucked her tender breasts back into the bustier cups and cradled her in his lap. Hank tossed him a blanket with an approving nod, bringing Wes back to the room. They’d amassed a bit of a crowd without his even realizing it. He sat on the floor with her, running his fingers through the tangled mess of her hair, waiting for the moment she came back to herself enough to be able to move somewhere out of the spotlight.
“Right here. I’ve got you.”
She snuggled into him. “Yes.”
“I’ll move in with you.”
“You’re scene drunk.”
“I still mean it.”
“Tell me again tomorrow, when your whole body is sore and you’re cursing me.”
She elbowed him and sat up. “Hey, I mean it. I love you. I don’t—” She fumbled for words and sighed. “I don’t need my own place anymore.” She dropped her eyes and blushed. “I just need you.”
“What is it about this basement and you telling me things for the first time? You love me, you’ll move in with me…”
“Because you make me come so hard I can’t shut myself up?”
“I do love you.”
He kissed her between the eyes and gathered her up, leading her on unsteady feet upstairs and to the couch. Sated, half-naked, thoroughly disheveled, wrapped in a blanket, surrounded by their friends, she was perfect. As they counted down to the seconds to a new year, Aimee curled in his lap. The kiss they shared at midnight sparked down his spine, possessive and tender and warm. She was his. And she was coming home.