First Draft and First Pass are DONE

It’s been a long week at the Evil Day Job, so when my boss offered to let me shut down a little early yesterday, I closed the work laptop off at 3:30 and opened my personal laptop.  I knew I was close to finishing The Billionaire Submissive — I only had 3 sketched out scenes to go.  In the end, I managed to combine two of them into one for double duty, smoothed out the connection (since I already had the ending written), wrote the epilogue, and YAY SNOOPY DANCE!!!

The first draft was done!  75K.

But then I was reading over it later last night and realized I had one scene penciled in (017B) that never got completed.  Boo.  I was working on it last night rather late, because Princess was going to be out late at a pool party.  I went to bed near midnight when she texted me that she was safely installed at her friend’s house for the night and went to bed.  I hadn’t finished the scene yet, and I didn’t have that killer last line I like to try and do for each scene or chapter, that little hook to keep pulling you along, but I was too tired to stay up.

Unfortunately, within an hour I was up again with the most brutal, wretched headache I’ve ever had.  Ironically, while lying there waiting for the spasm in the back of my head/neck area to stop, I got the hook/line I needed.  Since I couldn’t get comfortable anyway, I got up and sat on my heating pad for awhile and typed out the last few lines of that scene. 

[The headache is hard to describe but it’s definitely muscular, though not a typical muscle spasm.  It’s more the back of my head than my neck.  I didn’t pull anything and I don’t think anything’s out.  It just suddenly got tight and then went from bad to worse.  Very probably stress related and long hours on the story this week after hours didn’t help any.  And don’t suggest chiropractors because just the thought makes me want to throw up.  I can’t bear the cracking sounds and electric shock gives me the heebie-jeebies too.]

The heating pad didn’t help.  In fact, it made it worse.  I swear I could feel the blood pounding in my head.  So I tried an ice pack and eventually dozed off with ice on my neck.  I don’t know what time it was when I woke up and went back to bed, but I was stupid foggy enough I forgot to plug my phone in on the bedside table (something I do every night).

The headache is better this morning but the tendons and muscles on the back of my skull are sore and tender today.  My head still feels like a hollowed out egg shell.  So unfortunately, we cancelled the trip to the fair.  I just couldn’t face walking around in heat, trying to hold my head up.

I’ve sat here on my heating pad today and completed the first read through.  I’ve removed all the [notes], smoothed sentences, connected scenes, etc. and made myself cry.  *grins*  Always a good sign.

With the new scene from last night, the book is just under 76K.

Interested beta readers can drop me an email (joelysueburkhart AT gmail DOT com) if you’d like a first look before I do the final editing pass and send it to my editor.

Snippet:  These are the few lines I added last night to that missing scene while waiting on the headache to abate.

Donovan opened the back door of the Jag but she took one look at the leather seats and grabbed the dog’s collar before he could jump into the car.  “I don’t think this is a good idea.”

I can’t wait until she can grab and control me like that.  Donovan had to drag his gaze away with a brutal shake.  Idiot.  Jealous of a dog.  “Of course it’s a good idea. We’ll have a very very good time.”

She heard the thickness in his voice and her lips twitched.  “Are you sure?  Maybe I should just stay here and get to work on your design for the windows.”

“Don’t you dare tease me like that, Miss Harrison.”

“All right, Mr. Morgan.  But Hank rides in the front with me between my knees.”

Donovan muttered, “Lucky dog.”

Creeping closer to 70K

Long gone are the 6-8K days from earlier this month when the story was flowing hot and sweet.  I’ve been struggling to get 200-300 words the last few days, but I’m touching the story daily and working to get over the hump.  I truly do only have a few scenes left, but some of them are major.

Mr. Morgan still has to receive a true thrashing, though I’m leading up to that scene in tonight’s wordage.  *wicked laugh*

I can’t believe tomorrow’s the last day of July already.  I hoped to finish this month but I’m not quite going to make it.  I’m just too busy.  Princess has band camp this week (which means 4 trips back and forth to the high school each day), the two youngest are at my Dad’s, and school prep is in full swing.  I need to go supply shopping this weekend (you know my track record with finding all supplies in one store, hahaha) and we’re planning to go to the fair on Saturday.  It’ll be my first ever.  I’m still putting in longer hours than usual for work, but if I can at least touch the story each day, I’m hoping to keep that iron hot until I can find the time to just let the deluge sweep me through the last few scenes.

Hanging in there.  Just under 64K total in The Billionaire Submissive tonight and I’m going to try and write a bit longer even though I’ll pay for it tomorrow.

He paused a moment, dark eyes flickering toward her where she lay on his bed.  “Aren’t you going to do the same?  Mistress?”

She smiled, lazily kicking her foot back and forth off the edge of the bed.  His eyes followed the movement like a dog chasing a tennis ball.  “Eventually.  I’m having too much fun watching you.”

He took off the shirt, revealing the darkly tanned sculpted lines of his upper body.  Somewhere, he went without his shirt a great deal, and he did enough exercise or physical work to cover every inch of him in lean slabs of muscle.  Black hair curled across his chest, a nice mat that she’d have fun with later.

His hands went to his trousers, but he closed his eyes and breathed deeply.  Poor boy must be on the edge again.  This is going to be a night he’ll never forget if he’s ready to come just from me watching him take off his clothes. 

Relenting a little, she decided to ask him a few questions to distract him enough that he could get his pants off.  “You said you had limited experience.  How many scenes have you done?  How many Mistresses have you played with?”

“Casual stuff at a club, ten, maybe twenty times.”

Calmer, he managed to unbutton his trousers.  The black material slid down his thighs, revealing skin as tanned as his upper body.  He wore silk boxers, but she had a feeling he’d be tanned underneath too.  Yum.  Where did he do this deliciously naked tanning?  The same dark hair sprinkled his long, powerful thighs.  He kicked off his shoes and lifted each foot to pull off his socks.  God, he even had sexy, gorgeous feet, well manicured and perfectly shaped, almost as elegant as his hands.

“A so-called Mistress who wanted to do a strip tease for me in pleather boots and latex while waving a fake crop around?  Once.  I learned my lesson.  A real Mistress away from the club?  You’re my first.”

Oh dear.  No wonder he’s wound so tightly.  As a submissive, Donovan Morgan was pretty much a virgin.

A Little Help From My Friends

I’ve never pulled on my own background as much as I have for this WIP (The Billionaire Submissive).  We lived in the Twin Cities area of MN for almost 5 years…13 years ago.  I’ve only been back once in the past five years.  Lots of things have changed, but there’s also a feel, a vibe, that you get only after being there in the city.

Donovan’s from the Twin Cities area but I wasn’t exactly sure where until I started exploring some of his past unexpectedly a few days ago.  He’s from an older, well established northern St. Paul neighborhood, but I hadn’t tried to pin him down until he dragged me BACK to that neighborhood.  Then I needed to know some streets, or at least a general idea of where exactly we were.  Was it North Saint Paul?  Maplewood?  What were the names of the streets in that area?  I honestly couldn’t remember.

Food plays a huge role in this book, and I remembered a bakery in that general area.  But where was it?  That Man thought it was Payne Ave but he couldn’t remember the name of it.  I thought it was off 7th.  I finally asked my friend Wanda for help, who still lives in the Twins.  It sounds like the Swedish bakery I’m remembering is probably gone, but it was on Payne.  That narrowed my general area down.  Then I used Google maps street view to finally pinpoint what I wanted.

I also needed a diner in the area, so I made up one based on the names that are close to that area (I didn’t want to use a real place).  Hopefully it’s enough to give a solid sense of place!  Thank you, Wanda!

1K+ tonight and finally moving a little through the slower scene.

I adore this snippet.  This is the first time Mr. Morgan really gets a taste of Lilly’s spirit.  Oh, she’s played him a couple of different ways already to get what she wants, but this time, she makes him regret being an arrogant idiot.  *grins*

Her patience was unraveling very fast.  “How exactly did you intend to blackmail me, Mr. Morgan?”

“I was going to threaten to tell everyone exactly what kind of business you’re running on the side.”

She nodded, her irritation rising.  “So you were going to tell people like my parents and friends and professional clients that I’m a whore.  Yeah, that’s a sure way to get a woman to agree to get into bed with you.”

He had the grace to squirm uncomfortably beneath her accusing glare.  “I thought—”

“Yeah, we’ve already been over what a boneheaded idiot you are.”  She stood up and snatched the contract off his desk.  Most of it had been crossed out anyway.  “This is what I think of you and your worthless contract, Mr. Morgan.”  Then she tore the papers in half, threw them on his desk, and stalked toward the door.

“Miss Harrison, wait.  Lilly!”

She heard him coming around his desk but she didn’t slow or turn to look at him.  She started to open the door but he flung up an arm and slammed it shut, pressing his weight against it to keep her from opening it again.

“Mistress.”

That got her attention.  She looked at him but didn’t soften her face or give him her words.

“I’m sorry.  I’m an idiot.  I was wrong.”

“Wrong to even thinking about blackmailing me?  Or wrong to think I would actually accept money in exchange for having sex with you?”

“Shhh,” he lowered his voice.  “I don’t know how sound proof this door is.”

Ha.  She could only hope the simpering Miss Wruthers was pressed against the door on the other side listening avidly.  That would serve him right.  “That’s your problem, Mr. Morgan.  Not mine.  You’re the idiot who’s bewildered why I’m furious that you keep trying to shove money down my throat along with your cock.”

“Lilly, please!”

“Please what?  Please forgive you yet again for trying to make me into your very own prostitute?  Maybe you thought I’d charge by the lash.  Drop your pants now and give me a grand.  I’ll see how many cracks I can get in before your secretary comes charging in to see if I’m killing you.”

“I’m sorry,” he whispered furiously, his face so red it almost made her laugh despite her anger.  “Please.”

She at least stopped hurling comments back, but she didn’t unbend her stiffness or withdrawal.

“I was wrong.  Terribly wrong.  You ought to punish me.”

She let her shoulders relax and he sagged against the door in relief.  “I don’t know, Mr. Morgan.  You haven’t even answered my questionnaire yet so I know what implements to use.”

“Anything.  Anything you want.”  She didn’t have to drop her gaze to his crotch to know he was aroused again.  “Punish me any way you want.  I deserve it for insulting you yet again with my ignorance.”

Pretending to think about it, she shifted her portfolio to her other hand and then finally nodded.  “Meet me at Dmitre’s tonight at 7:00 p.m.”

“I can pick you up…”

She narrowed a glare on him and he raised his hands.  “Or not.  I’ll just meet you there.  But you will allow me to buy you dinner?  It’s the least I can do.”

“Very well.”

“And after?”  His voice deepened and he dared to touch her arm, just a light brush like he’d take her elbow and escort her to the elevator if she’d allow it.

She gave him a little nod, and he grasped her arm more confidently.  He opened the door and she was half surprised to see the secretary typing away furiously at her desk just feet away instead of hovering outside to eavesdrop.  “And after… dessert.”

“Your place or mine?”

His voice was such a rough growl that Miss Wruthers looked up, wide eyed with alarm.  Lilly smiled and waved goodbye to her, but she did lower her voice to ensure his privacy as much as possible.  “Yours.”

“Do I need to have any…equipment?”

The elevator dinged and the door slid open.  Ignoring whoever might be stepping out as well as the watching secretary, she reached up and dragged his mouth to hers for a hearty kiss.  “Just this, lover boy.”

Releasing him, she patted his cheek and stepped onto the elevator.  Before the door could shut, he blocked it with his hand.  Panting, he stared at her as if afraid to let her go.  His hair was mussed up, his tie crooked, and those poor tortured trousers would never be the same.  “Lilly?”

“Yes, Donovan?”

He cast his gaze down the length of her body to land on her favorite red heels.  “Wear these shoes tonight.”

She normally didn’t like to take such blatant orders from a man, but for him…  She smiled. “You got it.”

Powering Through the Wall

Stop by RT Book Reviews blog to read more about the pony play behind Her Grace’s Stable!

That last scene was a killer.  It took me a good 3 days to get through it, and my momentum has been dogged ever since.  We had a full weekend and the next two weeks are going to be balls-to-the-wall at the Evil Day Job.  That means longer hours, less lunch, and more stress headaches at the end of the day, which saps my desire to then pull out my file and spend more time on the computer.

But I’m still pushing ahead.  I’m still adding new (unplanned, grrr!) scenes and working through some of the backstory that decided to pop up a little.  I never knew I’d be pulling on the almost five years we lived in MN to write this book, but it’s been very helpful.

There’s also an Easter egg for those of you who’ve read The Billionaire Zombie’s Virgin Witch.  *winks*

Right at 59,300 for The Billionaire Submissive and 64,700 for the month.  PLUS, I also worked on the Coyote Con website this weekend AND stared the schedule.  Woot!

Snippet:

“Some Mistresses don’t believe in giving any pleasure to the submissive.  The sub exists for his Mistress’s pleasure, not the other way around.  If he’s not on his knees worshiping her with his tongue, then he hasn’t learned his place and must be punished.  I’m not that kind of Mistress.”

He accepted the new stack of papers and even dropped his gaze to them, but his eyes didn’t move across the page.  He’s not reading them.  Yet.  “I won’t deny there’s a certain appeal to that image.”

“The sub on his knees or me punishing you on your desk?”

He smiled faintly but it didn’t quite reach his eyes and he didn’t meet her gaze.  “Both.”

“But..?”  When he shrugged and flipped the page, even though he couldn’t have read it yet, she said what he could not yet bring himself to admit.  “You’re hoping for a Mistress who’s as eager to give pleasure as receive it.”

She’d never seen such a powerful and obnoxiously gorgeous man blush so prettily.  Again, that shrug, without lifting his eyes from the page.

“If I had your pants down around your ankles, I’d have to give you a blow job you wouldn’t soon forget.  While I punished you.”

There, his eyes met hers, all searing intensity and pulsing with rising desire.  “You would do that?”

For me?  He didn’t say the last two words, but she heard it and it broke her heart.  She was beginning to believe his arrogant asshole role was just a mask he wore to protect the inside submissive who feared no one would ever be able to love him as he was, no matter how much wealth he possessed.  “Absolutely.”

His gaze wandered to the door briefly, as though he was contemplating locking it so he could test her honesty.  When he looked back into her face, she didn’t like the shield he wore once more.  “How much is it going to cost me?”

It took all her will not to reveal how much that hurt.  He’s only striking out to make sure I don’t hurt him first.  It’s his natural survival instinct.

But it still sucked.

Keeping her voice light, she gave a nod to the papers he’d been pretending to read.  “You tell me.”

When It’s Not About the Word Count

So I’ve been rocking the words in July…. until last night.

I’m stuck in the same scene second night in a row.  I’ve attacked it from four different angles so far. And I’m still working on it.  I think I’m almost there.  It’s one of those seemingly easy scenes, but under the surface I have SO MUCH going on.  Fears and secret messages galore.    No toys, no bondage, no play…but all heart.  And it’s hard.  Very hard.

It’d be better if I could find the right theme song.  Poor Molly has been sending me ideas left and right but the Muse is fickle sometimes.  Lick by Joi is almost right… but not quite.  Something along those lines, although more like Closer by NIN.  Any recs?

Stress at the Evil Day Job is through the roof, which is complicating my evening writing.  (I’ve lost lunch writing too.  Just too much to do.)  But hopefully I can keep going a little at a time and finish by the end of the month.

56,500 and counting in The Billionaire Submissive (61,400 for the month)

Snippet:

“Mr. Morgan?”  Miss Wruthers squeaked, if possible even higher and more irritating than normal.  The way every one of her sentences seemed to end in a question put his teeth on edge, but he didn’t respond.  His temper was already legendary, and shouting at the poor woman to stop being so hesitant surely wouldn’t help.  “Miss Harrison is here?”

“Thank you.”  He forced himself to speak slowly and calmly.  “Send her in.”

This time, he wouldn’t rise and greet her politely.  I can’t.  Or she’ll see the massive hard on threatening to tear my pants.  She’ll just have to assume I’m being my normal arrogant self.

When Lilly walked into his office, he frantically thanked every deity known to man that he’d remained seated.  Because he would have thoroughly humiliated himself.  As it was, he nearly came in his pants.

She wore a high-collared, low-cut red blouse the same color as her painted toes, a tight black pencil skirt that hugged every inch of her glorious hips, and those shoes.  The ones from the pictures.  So high he didn’t know how a woman could possibly walk in them.  But she did, each step swaying her hips in a hypnotic dance that made his mouth go dry with lust.  When she sat down and crossed her legs, the short black skirt rode up enough to show him the top of her stockings.

He gulped, sweat breaking out on his forehead.  Real thigh-high stockings and a garter belt.  A thin strip of bare thigh tantalized him above the silk.  It made him think about sliding his hand up that skirt, seeking what else she might have on beneath the material.  Or better yet, nothing at all.

“Good morning, Mr. Morgan.”  She leaned down to set her portfolio beside her on the floor, giving him a good, long look down her shirt.  No bra met his gaze, just plump breasts lifted by what looked like a black corset.  “I trust that you slept well last night?”

Dear God.  A corset.  Stockings.  If she pulls a crop out of her bag I’m going to pass out when my dick explodes.

He jammed a finger at the intercom and barked, “coffee” at his secretary.

“Evidently not,” Lilly laughed softly, a deep velvety purr that made him quiver in his chair.  “Too bad.  You’re going to need all your wits about you for this contract negotiation.”

Ah, so that’s what this was.  She’d deliberately worn this outrageously sexy outfit to make sure she got what she wanted out of the negotiation.

With a glare, he retorted, “It’s not going to work.”

Her eyebrows rose and she looked at him innocently.  “What’s not going to work?”

“This.”  He waved a hand at her and averted his gaze, sure that he was blushing like a virgin.  That only made his cheeks burn hotter.  “Some sexy clothes aren’t going to make me lose my head and give you what you want.”

The door opened and Miss Wruthers scurried in with a cup of coffee.  Wide eyed, she froze at the corner of his desk, her gaze flickering between them both.

Lilly lounged in her chair in a sexy drape of negligent ease that made him want to leap up and pace frantically again.  Or better yet, maybe he’d just bury his face in her cleavage.  “You’re going to give me exactly what I want, Mr. Morgan and it’s not going to be because of my clothes.”

 

Pulled a Fast Draft

I didn’t intend it, but I just realized that I accomplished the second fast draft of my writing career.  I broke 50K tonight for July so far.

However, I think I jinxed myself a little by saying I hoped to finish it this weekend. I’ve still got 7-10 scenes to grind out and they’re not little baby ones. In fact, they’re quite…meaty.  In more ways than one.  *winks*

3K today and 2.4K yesterday.  Not bad with all we had going on.  With so much ahead of me, this book might end up closer to 60K+ than 50K total (I’ve got several thousand words on a different project this month so not all of this impromptu fast draft is for The Billionaire Submissive).  I have a dentist appointment on Tuesday, so I took the day off.  I’m hoping to get some major wordage in but we’ll just have to see how it goes.

This is the next scene of The Billionaire Submissive introducing Lilly, the Mistress.  It’s a little heavy on the narrative to start, so that will probably get trimmed in revision.

Standing outside of the seventeen-story building on busy Kellogg Blvd, Lilly almost changed her mind and went home.  Sure, this was an old building and not one of those modernized shiny steel and concrete skyscrapers, but she still didn’t quite believe someone in downtown St. Paul would honestly be interested in a stained-glass commission from a relative nobody like her.  The building had once been the St. Paul Post Office and had sat vacant for years while sale after sale fell through.  Then billionaire investor Donovan Morgan had swept in and bought the building at a bargain-bin price.  Of course that was still millions of dollars, but he’d gotten a whole city block right next to the new light-rail station for a few bucks per square foot.

A brass plate next to the old-fashioned art-deco doors proclaimed Morgan Industries.  She’d done a little research before accepting the appointment, but for the life of her, she still didn’t know exactly what that meant.  He wasn’t into a single business, but owned hundreds of different companies and franchises all across the globe.  His interests and investments were as varied as his many charitable contributions.  From what she could tell, he basically just bought and sold companies, usually at a fraction of their value, which suddenly skyrocketed after his purchase.  It was like he had the Midas touch.

So what does a man like him want with a stained glass window?

Especially when he had the funds to hire a world-famous artist?

Sure, she’d finally built up enough business that she could almost pay her mortgage on just commissions and classes, but she’d been busting her ass for years.  Most of her income came from teaching instead of new projects anyway, though she’d clear her calendar if she had to in order to complete whatever Mr. Morgan wanted.  A wealthy important client like him could be the stepping stone to larger commercial contracts she hadn’t been able to tap yet.  With his recommendation, she could maybe even open her own gallery.  This one project could make her career.

Yet the same nagging doubt dogged her heels into the refurbished lobby.  Something wasn’t right with Morgan’s offer.

For one thing, he hadn’t even called her, but pawned the job off on his secretary.  Maybe ultra rich dudes like him couldn’t be bothered to hire underlings, but for a creative project like stained glass, she really needed to be able to meet with him several times.  If she didn’t have access to him, then she couldn’t guarantee he’d like the finished project, and that would devastate her.  It wouldn’t matter how much he offered to pay her if he hated the final product.  Or worse, if he didn’t even care about it.  He was commissioning the wrong artist if that was the case.

The ground-level floor had been rented out to various fast-food joints, coffee shops, and even a one-hour dry cleaner.  Business must be good, because people were scurrying back and forth like ants, jostling her every which way.  Of course it didn’t help that the appointment had been scheduled right before lunch.  A woman with blond hair pulled back in a sleek bun and dressed in a nice navy suit ruined by the hot-pink tennis shoes practically knocked her into the wall on her way to the front door.

She’d remembered that claustrophobic feeling she’d gotten inside her day job’s cubicle.  How even one less minute of fresh air and sunshine outside during her lunch break would have made her as vicious as a rabid dog the rest of the afternoon.  She’d had to quit or else go postal on her innocent coworkers.  Or start taking anxiety meds.  Quitting her job and finding something she truly loved was better than numbing herself with medication the rest of her life, even if she’d had to struggle to make ends meet.

She had to wait while the elevator emptied like an endless clown car at the circus, but she had it alone for the ride up to the top floor.  The higher she went, the more under dressed she felt.  She’d worn the only suit she’d kept from the days of corporate slavery, but it was out of fashion and frankly, a little too tight.  She’d quit caring so much about always doing what was “right” and being perfect in all ways and simply living and loving her life.  She’d never been happier and if some man didn’t like a little extra padding he could keep on walking because she felt sexy and she took damned good care of herself.  Including a little dessert here and there.

Although a big greasy cheese burger sounded really good right now.

Which was definitely a sign of nerves.  If she had to face a day without pie, she’d just give up and stay in bed.  She only craved grease and salt when she was out of her league.

She stepped out of the elevator and put on her polite smile for the waiting receptionist.  Maybe it was her imagination, but the secretary’s smile seemed more sneer than a professional greeting.  Lilly glanced down at herself to make sure all buttons and zippers were appropriately closed.  Check.  Her silk blouse was a little low cut but she wore a lace cami underneath.  She’d worn serviceable plain black heels and not her favorite fuck-me stilettos.  With a mental shrug, Lilly followed the other woman into Mr. Morgan’s office.  Screw it.  If I have to come back to see Mr. Morgan, I’m wearing the leather mini skirt and those shoes.

Since his picture was readily available in all the media stories covering his acquisitions and success, she’d known he was a gorgeous man of the tall, dark and handsome variety.  She hadn’t expected to be affected by him.  Pretty, svelte arrogant men weren’t her type.

He was pretty, and yeah, he was damned svelte in that impeccable suit.  He stood behind his desk, arms crossed, shoulders wide and feet planted, aggressively defiant and proud.  It almost made her laugh.  She couldn’t resist a wide smile, even if he didn’t know the cause.  She hadn’t even opened her mouth yet and he was chomping for a fight.  This’ll be fun.

“Miss Harrison.”  He spoke in a clipped, hard voice echoing with disapproval.  No wonder his secretary had looked at her with such disdain.  She’d already picked up on the alpha’s opinion.  “Do you have a portfolio?”

Not at all.  The large leather thing she held in her hand was merely a strange saddle she’d used on the jackass she’d ridden into town.  Of course she had a portfolio.  What artist would ever go to a prospective client meeting without a single example of her work?

She didn’t bother answering, but simply stepped closer and opened the leather portfolio on his desk.  Of course the pictures were upside down, but she didn’t change it.  She wanted to see how he’d respond.

He could have turned it around to face him.  That would have been the obvious solution.  Instead, he came around the massive desk to stand beside her.  Too close, actually.  He intruded on her personal space.

What an interesting situation.  If she were at a BDSM club and a submissive dared to approach her so boldly, she’d be more than happy to accommodate him with a little punishment and discipline to teach him his place.   In fact, a submissive would only behave such a way if he deliberately wanted to antagonize the Mistress.  Could he have any idea…?

She didn’t see how he would know.  More than likely he was just an arrogant filthy-rich asshole who was used to using his physical strength and immense wealth to intimidate people.

Still, she had to teach him a lesson in some way.  In a professional setting, though, her options were limited.  She certainly couldn’t give him a quick, hard pop with a crop, more’s the pity.  And if she wanted the commission…she couldn’t smart off in front of his subordinate.

There was more than one way to battle.  It didn’t take words.  It didn’t even take action.  She closed her eyes a moment and centered herself.  This kind of dominance involved her personal energy and will, where every ounce of her concentration, every muscle in her body, was focused on one thing.  Releasing a deep breath, she opened her eyes.  Like he’d done earlier, she widened her stance just by standing taller, easing her shoulders back, lifting from her core.  She projected calm assertive power.  The will that he would step aside and out of her personal space.  He would respect her will and her presence.  There was no doubt in her mind.  No hesitation.  He will do as I ask.  Or I’ll walk out of here without even entertaining his proposal.  I don’t need this job that badly.

“This one’s nice.”  He traced a finger over the sketch she’d done of one of her favorites.  The glass was all clear, but with different etchings and bevels, she’d created a complex window that had cast snowflakes over the entire room.  “How big was it?”

Keeping her energy focused, she user her lower voice range that vibrated her body.  “Three by three feet.”

She swore his hand trembled slightly as he turned to the next page, but he didn’t move out of her space.  “That’s smaller than what I intend.  Could you accomplish the same kind of complexity in a larger scale?”

“Of course.  Clear glass in a variety of finishes can be very striking, especially in a large space where color may be too distracting.”  She leaned down, deliberately letting her shoulder bump his as a warning.  She turned to the next page.  Even with only clear glass, you could see three crosses and a rising sun, casting its rays out in all directions.  “This one’s in a church down in Iowa, the focal point behind their altar.  The final measurements were ten by twenty, though I had to frame the window into pieces to give it the appropriate stability.”

He didn’t back away from the shoulder bump.  In fact, he bumped her back, nudging his way deeper into her personal space.  He even slid his right foot in front of hers, like he was trying to block her out from her own portfolio.

Lilly cast a quick glance at the secretary.  Rooted into place, she watched the two’s interaction with wide eyes, rubbing her arms like she had goosebumps.  Some people were sensitive to this kind of energy play, and between her calm assertiveness and his aggressive pissing-match attitude, the energy was definitely high in the spacious office.  Maybe he didn’t even realize his secretary was still watching.  “What do you think, Miss…?”

“Wruthers,” the secretary spoke with a delicate breathy voice.  “Isn’t stained glass rather…antiquated?  If you were going to remodel the building…”

He let out a low growl, whether irritation that his underling dared disagree with him or mere frustration that Lilly wasn’t intimidated, she couldn’t be sure.  “I didn’t ask your opinion, Miss Wruthers.  That’ll be all.”

Evidently the young woman hadn’t been in his employ very long, because she winced and paled, hurt by his callous reply.  She scurried out and the door thumped behind her a little too loudly.

He stretched, arching his back even while he leaned down over her work, resting his elbow on the desk casually.  For such a lean man, he was exhibiting quite the nicely rounded ass.  It was all she could do not to give him a good, hard swat and see how high he’d jump.  “Where were we?”

Lilly let her mouth quirk since he wasn’t looking at her.  Silly boy.  He really needs a good thrashing. 

It’d be all too easy to press against him, letting her body weight urge him down against the desk.  It’d be fun to have a big, powerful man like him beneath her, bristling with the urge to fight, but also strangely obedient.  Knowing he was too strong, too big, that he could overpower her at any moment, but he chose not to…  Instead, he chose to put himself into her hands, to let her do as she would.  The ultimate power rush.  That he was arrogant, gorgeous and used to being the alpha CEO in all aspects of his life only made it hotter.

Lost in such a tantalizing fantasy, it took her a moment to realize she was pressed against the back of his leg, hugging his thigh with both of hers.  Practically riding him.  Either he’d backed further into her space or she’d leaned into him.  She couldn’t remember.  Neither option was appropriate behavior in an office setting, certainly not when she didn’t even know what his inclinations were.

Embarrassed, she jerked backward.  “Pardon me, Mr. Morgan.  I must have lost my balance.”

He straightened and turned toward her, his dark eyes narrowed on her face.  “Lost your balance?”

She gave him a bright smile and without blinking or looking away, said, “I’m not used to wearing heels.”

She had a feeling he knew she was lying but he decided not to call her on it.  It wasn’t like he’d peeked into her closet and seen her glorious shoe collection.  He settled on the edge of his desk, the epitome of casual male elegance.  A wicked glint flickered in his eyes, a knowing smile on his lush lips that warned her he saw through her thinly veiled disguise that said nothing to see, just an ordinary woman with boring, normal sexual desires.  Nothing dirty or naughty here.  “I suppose you don’t get out all that often.”

“Rarely.  I’m such a homebody.”  She gave him a tiny smile back that said I know you know I’m lying and I don’t give a fuck.  “Why don’t you show me the space you’re thinking about filling with stained glass?  I can take some measurements and give you some ideas of what might work best.”

“Of course.”  He stood, managing to make the movement a delicious sinuous slide that drew her gaze down all six-foot-plus length of him.  He might have never really worked a day in his life, certainly not outside of an office setting, but his body coiled with sinew and lean muscle.  There wouldn’t be much padding anywhere on him except that delectable backside.  Nothing to stop the hard thud of a paddle.  Or the cut of the crop.

She gave herself a little shake, forcing those thoughts to the back corner of her mind.  Later, she’d pull them out and let the fantasy unwind.  She’d wonder what kind of fancy underwear he wore.  Whether he really had a model’s body beneath that expensive suit or office flab.  Whether the rest of him was as darkly tanned as his face and hands.  How he’d sound when she brought the crop down on his ass.

But only after I finish this commission.  Until then, all business.  Mistress L isn’t allowed to come out and play.

This Story’s On Fire

I think I’m going to finish it soon, like maybe even this weekend assuming I don’t have to cook a lot for an impromptu family gathering on Saturday.  Yep, that fast.  I think I started it the first or second day in July and it’s going to be about 50K or so.  I’ve already written the end.  I just have to tie a few things together in the middle and then layer in a few more elements that have become meaningful.

On one hand this has been a very difficult project that has pushed me beyond another boundary.  It probably won’t even be that obvious to any of you reading it but it was significant for me.

I’ve also got a very dirty mouthed heroine.  Again, for me, not easy to write.  But she’s been hilarious.  Lilly’s brash and quite the lusty wench (her own words).  She’s done things to poor Donovan that I canNOT believe I actually wrote.  I mean whew.  Crazy.  I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to look at cherry pie the same way again.  *blushes*

Still going strong at 38K for this story and almost 44K for the month.

Since I haven’t shared anything yet, I thought I’d give you the working blurb and opening scene to this new project, THE BILLIONAIRE SUBMISSIVE.  Yep, a twist on the whole billionaire craze — except the rich ultra alpha CEO is also a submissive in the bedroom.

The Billionaire.

Donovan Morgan rules his billion-dollar international company with an iron fist.  But in the privacy of his bedroom, he needs to be ruled…

The Mistress.

Lilly Harrison helps her clients tame their personal demons by taming them.  Lots of men—whether rich or blue-collar—like to be dominated by a woman.  But the ultra rich and powerful CEO is alpha to the core.  In public, that is.

Can she tame the alpha boss in private?

The Contract.

Donovan selects his potential Mistress as carefully as he investigates his latest investment opportunities with a contract as tight and binding as any corporate takeover.  He must ensure his privacy at all cost— even if he has to resort to a little blackmail to ensure her full cooperation.

However, the indomitable Miss Harrison laughs in his face, tears his contract up, and walks out of his posh office suite without a single glance back.

Which seals the deal for this CEO.

He must have her.  Even if she makes him crawl to her side.

~ * ~

Donovan Morgan stared out at the panoramic view without really seeing the skyline of downtown St. Paul.  His corner office was mostly glass, giving him an unimpeded view of the world he’d supposedly conquered.  He’d just closed another million-dollar deal, yet he felt nothing.  No joy, exhilaration, the rush of competition that he’d thrived on his entire life.  It was like he’d been left outside in the frigid winter to freeze solid, just another ice sculpture in the wintry park.

Never mind that it was full-blown summer in Minnesota and the winding river below was crammed with boaters enjoying the warmer temps.

His personal assistant buzzed him.  “Mr. Morgan?  Your 10:00 AM appointment is here?”

Miss Wruthers never managed to sound very sure of herself, even when she knew damned well he was expecting this meeting.  She’s new.  He smothered a sigh.  Hopefully she’ll gain more confidence.  Assuming I don’t bark at her and terrify her to death.  Without looking, he reached down and pressed the intercom.  “Send him in.”

He heard the door open and shut, but he delayed turning around to greet his guest.  He didn’t want to appear too eager.  Or God forbid, desperate.

“I have the file that you asked for, Mr. Morgan.”

He’d used Andy Wells many times in the past when he needed dirt on the competition in order to gain some leverage.  The man was a pitbull when it came to tenacity and fight, with the nose of a bloodhound and the speed of a greyhound.  If there was any secret to be uncovered, Andy would find it, carefully peeling back layer after layer until the ugly truth was bared, and if he couldn’t find it, no one else would either.  Donovan kept him on his personal staff and paid the man extremely well.  To ensure Andy never had cause to go digging into his own secrets.

Without replying, he turned and accepted the manila file.  It was disturbingly thin and light.  If this was all the dirt Andy’d been able to dig up on this prospective…

What could he call her?

Client?

Date?

Trick?  No.  That would be me.

Sitting down, he laid the file open on his desk and let his gaze linger just a moment on the picture paper clipped to the inside of the file.  Lilly Harrison wasn’t exactly a gorgeous woman but she was quite attractive.  Long coppery brown hair a curly tumble about her shoulders, pretty face, light blue-gray eyes, lush curvy body.  Perhaps a little too short for his personal tastes and certainly not the model-thin slip of a woman so popular in the media, but her curves suited him just fine.

She had an easy, open smile and a light in her eyes that he instinctively mistrusted, even while his instincts told him that spark was the key to hooking her interest.  Light implied warmth and sweetness, even innocence, and if there was anything he’d learned about Lilly Harrison before he’d hired Andy to dig deeper, innocence was the last thing in her mind.  But he could certainly use that spark of curiosity to his advantage.

The next page listed the basic overview of her background.  Age twenty nine, single, self employed as a stained-glass artist in Oakdale after bailing on her white-collar job five years ago.  Doing well enough to purchase her own townhome, though she owed a considerable amount on the mortgage yet.  She had a sick younger brother with a ton of medical bills.  He could use that to his advantage.  Her parents were still alive, living with the brother on the other side of Minneapolis.  Comfortable but not well off, and from the suburb they lived in, conservative and possibly even Catholic.  Even better leverage.

He turned the page and scanned the list of her male “acquaintances.”  Aka the men she hired herself out to. The johns.

Is that what I’ve come to?  Just another john trying to hire a prostitute to get what I need?  Like a junkie on the street?

He forced himself to read every single name, even though he didn’t recognize any of them.  At least she wasn’t involved with high-up politicians.  Andy had even taken a few pictures, although none of them were compromising.  Lilly and her gentleman getting into a car, getting out of a car, going into a restaurant.  They were both dressed to the nines as if they’d been to the opera.  She wore a gorgeous slim-fitting black gown that hugged every wicked sweet curve and strappy bright red platforms that must have added four inches to her height.  The stilettos made him drool.  The red made him insane, tantalizing him like a bull in a ring.

Ridiculous.  Some poor sap actually paid for her services and took her out to eat?  Andy had also included the names of each hotel she’d gone to with her client.  All upper-class hotels, certainly not the scary cheap one-night-stand sort of places he’d expect a woman like her to use.

A woman like her.

He ran a hand over his face, rubbed his eyes, and then gripped his head like he had a headache.  What the hell am I doing?  Am I actually this desperate?

“She’s real careful, Mr. Morgan.  She always uses her name to check into the hotel and it’s always booked and paid for in advance.  By her.  She’s seen these men in public before, and there’s not a single trace of anything suspicious or scandalous.  Two of them are married, all of them are pretty well off.  I mean, they’re nothing like you, boss, but they’re wealthy enough to pay her a grand a night.”

“That’s all she charges them?”

“As far as I can tell.  She doesn’t do random guys, either.  That’s why she takes them out to dinner first, at least twice.  Only then do they get to go to the hotel with her.  They never go to her house and she uses a different hotel for each man.  I don’t have any idea how they hooked up with her.  I couldn’t connect any kind of web presence to her name or credit cards at all.  All of the men are regulars.  I clocked Mr. Smith seeing her once a week.  Mr. Hamilton even hit her twice last week.”  Andy chuckled.  “She must be damned good at what she does.”

Donovan pinned the man with a glare that made Andy gulp like a teenager caught smoking weed in the stairwell.  He didn’t say a word, just kept that steady, critical eye contact until Andy dropped his gaze and rushed to fill the heavy silence.

“No criminal record.  She got a bachelor’s degree from St. Cloud though she doesn’t use it.  Accounting.  She has a savings account but it’s not huge.  Just twenty grand.  Her brother’s bills are five times that.  She’s been making regular payments to her parents to help them out.  She has a small retirement account left over from her corporate job but no other investments.”

Donovan turned his attention back to the file.  She’d never been married.  No children.  A single woman on the verge of suffering the strident call of her biological clock.  Ordinarily that thought would send him running like hell in the opposite direction, but Lilly wasn’t the typical woman.  He wasn’t interested in dating or marrying her.

I’m interested in hiring her.  That’s all.

He smothered a wry laugh and shut the file, though he couldn’t drag his gaze away from it.  That sounded so simple.  So clean.  So basic.  Nothing as dirty as what he really wanted from her.

“That’ll be all, Andy.  Thanks.”

Andy stood, but didn’t rush toward the door.  “Sir?”

Surprised, Donovan raised his gaze to the man’s face.  “Yes?”

“She seems like a real nice lady.  I mean, despite…  She’s nice.”  At the skeptical look that must be on his face, Andy hurried to explain.  “I always like to run into the person I’m investigating in some part of their everyday routine, just to see how they respond.  She’s polite and well mannered.  She spoke to me, she didn’t give me the brush off.  She wasn’t rude.  She has some kind of mutt that she must love a great deal because she takes him for a long walk every single day.  All of her neighbors speak well of her.”

“What’s your point?”

Andy’s cheeks flushed and he stuttered but he didn’t drop his gaze.  “I don’t know what your intentions are and frankly it’s none of my business.  I just wanted you to know that she’s not some skank out looking to make a quick buck or a gold-digging bitch out to screw every lying bastard out of his money.  She’s nice.  I’d like to be her friend and I don’t say that about many people.”

Donovan wanted to ask if he qualified as someone Andy would want to have as a friend, but he already knew the answer.  He was the boss man, the hard ass who made the money and paid the lawyers to screw everyone until they got the best deal.  Even I wouldn’t want to be my friend.

He wheeled his chair around to look out the window.  Cold, so cold and numb and hard.  He was tempted to strip out of his Armani suit and stretch out in the sunlight shining in through his window.  Maybe that would thaw him out.

Nope, he’d tried that already.  All it did was first give him a miserable sunburn in some unspeakable places, and then eventually tan him as dark as island native.  He was still so numb he couldn’t feel a thing.  “I don’t need a friend, but I’ll keep that in mind.”

Andy didn’t say anything else but took the opportunity to escape.

No, what I need…

Donovan used his reflection in the glass to straighten his already perfect tie.  His next business meeting might actually be one of the most important of his life.

The reason Andy hadn’t been able to find anything on Lilly that would connect her initially to the men is that he’d failed to make the connection to the local BDSM community, probably because she’d been out of “circulation” for a few years.  That was actually good.  Donovan didn’t want anyone to be able to connect her to the underworld of sexual deviants like him.

What I need is absolute secrecy.  And Mistress L.