Kelsey Richards kept the few men she’d allowed in her life at a distance. When her friend introduced her to Gabriel Durand, a man who liked to dominate women, she gave him a wide berth, not interested in any man she couldn’t control.
She couldn’t miss her only friend’s wedding, even if it meant she’d have to spend a week on Rapture Island, an island that catered to men like him.The reality of being there, and under Gabriel’s protection, proved more unsettling than she’d bargained for.
Kelsey was intrigued by Gabriel’s proposition, though. The idea of submitting to him in return for a week of pleasure was a lure she couldn’t resist. She didn’t want to hear his claim to want more. She didn’t believe it. She’d take the pleasure and walk away.
Sex with Gabriel, though, was nothing like she’d imagined, creating a bond she couldn’t fight.
He made her feel again.
He taught her to love.
Just minutes after the morning rush began to die down in the coffee shop she owned, Kelsey Richards felt it—a sizzle of electricity in the air—and looked up, straight into the eyes of Gabriel Durand.
Her heart leapt at the jolt to her system and the surge of awareness that made every erogenous zone in her body tingle.
“Good morning, Gabriel.” Her voice sounded huskier than usual, something that she noticed happened more often in his presence.
“Good morning, Kelsey.” The low intimacy in his tone never failed to fire her imagination, and it made her curious to know if his voice would have that same deep timbre in bed.
“The usual?” Straightening cups that didn’t need to be straightened, she looked up at him through her lashes, her pulse tripping at his slow smile.
“Can you join me?”
In an attempt to appear nonchalant, she shrugged as the two of them played the game they always played when he came in. “Sure, for a few minutes.”
She knew that if the shop had been busy, he would have sat at the table in the corner by the front window and waited until she could join him.
He seemed to have learned the rhythm of the shop, because he always appeared just when things started to slow down.
Nervous under his stare, she reached for a cup for a double espresso and almost knocked the entire stack over. “Why don’t you go sit down and I’ll be right there?”
The knowledge of her predicament gleamed in his eyes. With a faint smile, he inclined his head. “Of course
Watching him walk away, Kelsey admired the fine figure he made in his dark suit. She’d never seen him in anything else, and she couldn’t stop trying to imagine him in nothing at all.
“I don’t know how you can contain yourself. You try so hard to look calm and collected when he’s looking, but the second his back’s turned, you eat him alive with your eyes. Don’t you just want to take a bite out of him?”
Kelsey wanted to laugh out loud at Gina, the young woman she’d hired to manage her coffee shop, but managed to keep a straight face as she fixed coffee for Gabriel and herself. “The thought’s crossed my mind a time or two.”
Gina sighed. “I’m going to miss him when you sell this place to me. He’s better than a jolt of that espresso he loves.”
Kelsey glanced toward Gabriel, unsurprised to find him watching her. “I haven’t agreed to sell yet, and what makes you think he won’t come in here after I sell it to you?”
Gina snorted. “Please. He comes in here to ogle you and try to get in your pants. How you’ve resisted this long is beyond me. He started coming in, what, six months ago?” Smiling, she picked up a towel and wiped the already clean counter. “On the other hand, I might get back some of the customers he’s scared away—you know, the ones who stare at you and he glares at them until they leave?”
Kelsey’s face burned. “Shut up. Why I don’t fire you, I’ll never know.”
Gina giggled. “Because you love me. Now, stop dawdling and get out there. God, that man’s a walking orgasm.”
Avoiding Gabriel’s stare, Kelsey picked both cups up from the counter and made her way to the table where he sat, smiling at Len, who worked at cleaning up after the morning rush.
Setting Gabriel’s cup in front of him, she lowered herself to the seat across from him, wrapping both hands around her cup to hide the fact that they trembled.
She knew what he’d come today to talk about, and it excited her as much as it unnerved her. “So how are you today?”
Looking sexy, expensive and dangerous, Gabriel smiled and slid his gaze over her features. “I’m fine, thank you. And you?”
Kelsey tightened her fingers on the cup to relieve the itch to run them through his long, dark hair. “I’m fine.”
Gabriel laughed, a deep, rich sound that vibrated through her, stroking her skin as effectively as a caress. “You’re not fine. You’re nervous as hell about going to the island with me. I thought we’d gotten past that.” Sitting forward, he unwrapped one of her hands from around her cup and held it in his, running his thumb over her fingers. “I thought we were friends.”
Kelsey jolted at the electric current that raced up her arm. Her face burned as she tried, unsuccessfully, to pull her hand from his. “Okay, friend. Why don’t you tell me exactly what to expect.”
Gabriel studied her fingers. “Why haven’t you asked Julianna?”
Shaking her head, Kelsey grimaced. “I have. Several times. She just laughs.”
Still a little disconcerted that her best friend would be marrying two men in less than a week, Kelsey was even more shaken at the prospect of going to the island Julianna’s fiancés owned—an island that catered to Dominants and submissives.
Gabriel grinned, lifting her hand to kiss her fingers before releasing it, sending another wave of heat up her arm.
“The rules are that every woman that goes to the island has to be accompanied by a man who agrees to take responsibility for her. He has to make sure she follows the rules of the island and even arranges for the clothing she must wear while she’s there. Of course, we have to share a room.”
Excited to be going on her first real vacation, excited for her friend, and thrilled at the chance to spend time with Gabriel, Kelsey still felt a little uncomfortable at being his responsibility.
She took a sip of her coffee to ease her dry throat, staring at his hands and trying to stop imagining what they would feel like on her body. “I’m sorry about this. Of course, I’ll sleep on the sofa. I sure didn’t want you to be stuck with me. Had you planned to take someone else?”
Looking away, her face burning, Kelsey couldn’t imagine anything more embarrassing than having to share a room with Gabriel and one of his submissives.
Sitting back again, Gabriel raised a brow. “I’m going to the island with exactly who I want to be with. You. Scared?”
Fidgeting under his steady gaze, Kelsey sighed. “Terrified. Gabriel, you know that I’m not the kind of woman you’re looking for. We’re friends, right?”
Gabriel inclined his head. “Absolutely. For now. Have you arranged to take the entire week off?”
The thought of spending an entire week with Gabriel had given her several sleepless nights. Nodding, she smiled. “I can’t believe I let you talk me into that.”
Finishing his coffee, he set his cup aside. “You need it. You’ve been restless for several weeks now. I can’t believe you’ve never taken a vacation before.”
“Couldn’t afford it. Gabriel, about the clothing—”
He got to his feet and pushed his chair in. “Already taken care of and packed. Don’t make a big deal out of it, Kelsey.” Bracing a hand on the table, he bent low, his smile sending a rush of desire through her. “I enjoyed it. Immensely.”