***Note: Chris is standing beside the painting he did of her in book 1 IF I WERE YOU of her sitting in his studio with her arms and ankles taped***
My fingers wrap his wrist. “I know you want to protect me, and I love you for that more than you know.”
“Yet too easily, you found a reason to shut me out tonight. Trust isn’t a fair weather friend. It’s about a willingness to be vulnerable and exposed.”
“And I am willing to do that. That’s why I’m here now.”
He searches my face, and I don’t know what he looks for, what he needs, or what he finds. He releases me abruptly.
“Hold out your hands and lace your fingers together.”
Heat rushes through me with the certainty that I’m about to fully understand the painting he’s created of me. This is him sending me a message. He’s not holding back. My confession, as incomplete as it is, has changed nothing. I offer him my arms, aware as I haven’t been in the past few minutes of my naked body, my breasts pressed together.
Chris reaches into his back pocket and produces a roll of art tape, using it to wrap my wrists. Task complete, he bends my elbows and presses my wrists to my chest, his fingers covering the bindings. He has become dark Chris, the dominant Master who never shows emotion; the Chris who arouses me in ways I would never believe a man could.
“Sit down,” he orders, and the way he manages such force with what is no more than a whisper stirs heat low in my body.
My throat is dry and my heart beats so loudly I am certain Chris can hear. I squat and he follows me down, steadying me so I don’t fall without the use of my hands. “All the way,” he murmurs, gently nudging me until my bare backside is on the floor.
He angles my knees up toward my chest, with my feet out enough to stabilize my body. His long lashes lower, half-moons on his cheeks, and I sense him struggling with what has passed between us. He knows I need to see he won’t hold back, but this isn’t just for me. I think he really needs this, too, for me to show him, not tell him, how much I trust him.
Chris tapes my ankles and then throws the roll over his shoulder. My nerve endings are so alive, so on edge that the roll hits the ground like a thundering drum that seems to radiate through the room, through my body. His hands come down on my knees and the touch sweeps over me, awakening nerve endings in the most intimate and unforgiving of places. I feel this man everywhere, I want him everywhere. But as if he knows what I feel, and he means to deny me, he withdraws. I shiver with a sudden cold certain to linger. He will torment me, make me wait for him. Make me beg.
He stands up, towering over me, and I stare up at him, trying to read him, the anticipation of what comes next tingling through me. And it’s supposed to. I see that in his eyes, and I am reminded of his words when I’d first seen the painting. It’s about trust. The kind of trust I want from you and have no right to ask for. He’s going to push me. He’s going to take me somewhere uncomfortable. Somewhere I might not want to go, but I will. With Chris, I will.