I’ll try to get back into the habit of posting Friday Snippets. Since it’s Victor all October, November, and December (if needed) until this book is done, you’re stuck with him. You might get something else briefly, but only if I get an alien vampire bunny idea by the end of the month, and not all snippets will be as long as this one. Eventually, I’ll get far enough into the book that you’ll only get a few paragraphs at a time so I don’t give away the farm.
This section follows the one I posted a few days ago and is the first planned section in Shiloh’s POV (although I may or may not end up with blog entries eventually). What I absolutely love about this section is how Shiloh plays Victor, leading him exactly where she wants him to go. She might be submissive in the bedroom, but she’s a determined little fireball!
“Thank you so much for the opportunity, Mr. Connagher.” Nerves made Shiloh talk faster than usual. “I’ve been working on this idea for months.”
Standing at the head of the conference table–just inches from Victor Connagher himself–she found herself practically babbling. From a distance, he commanded an aura of impressive power. Up close and personal, she felt his presence like an thunderstorm tearing the sky with constant lightning.
With his sleek suit and ostentatious cowboy boots, he played the part of the wealthy Texan CEO impeccably. Yet no matter how hard he tried to appear civilized and suave, there was something barbarous hidden behind his corporate shields. His hair, for one, was highly rebellious, falling in a glossy black tail down his back. He kept it pulled back tightly, accentuating the harsh planes of his face, but her fingers itched to tug that hair loose and muss it up.
She wanted to muss him up.
Her instincts insisted that the expensive suit and business-like demeanor were merely a front. Beneath his calm, controlled façade hid the star quarterback she knew he’d been years ago before an injury forced him to quit. That man liked to be sweaty, dirty, and just a bit bloody as he battled toward the endzone.
Now if he only likes his sex the same way.
As their sexy lineup implied, everyone at VCONN was open in their sexuality. Everyone except the CEO. His incredible charisma and sex appeal screamed make-me-whimper Dominant, but she couldn’t be sure. It wasn’t like she could simply walk up before her boss’s desk, strip off her clothes, and–
Shuddering, she pushed that favorite night-time fantasy into the back corner of her mind and concentrated on her pitch. “VCONN has already established a reputation for envelope-pushing programming about sexuality, while managing to portray alternative sexual practices in a positive and healthy light. It’s a fine line between edgy sex and porn, but VCONN has succeeded.” Deliberately, she paused and met his hooded gaze. “For the most part.”
His left eyebrow shot up but otherwise he remained implacable.
She’d used the past months to study Victor Connagher with the single-minded dedication of the most besotted submissive. It only took one glance at the trophy case in the lobby displaying all his awards and championships to realize that he hated to lose. She needed to bait him into accepting her challenge—without squashing her like a bug.
“One area where VCONN could stand to improve is education. Obviously, no one wants to watch a sex ed class, but with some high-interest reality TV and titillating challenges to balance the educational information about BDSM, I think America’s Next Top sub could take VCONN to the next level.”
“Reality TV’s been done to death.” He dusted invisible lint off his trousers in a careless slapping swipe of his palm that made every muscle in her body go on high alert. He had big, powerful hands that would torture–or please–exquisitely. With those magnificent hands, he could break her into little pieces like kindling and she’d go with a smile on her face.
“Not a BDSM reality show. Nobody’s risked it.”
“It’s a hot idea.” Ms. Kannes’ rich, exotic voice matched her coppery skin perfectly. Shiloh hadn’t needed to see Malinda’s pictures all over the Dallas bondage club to recognize a formidable Mistress. With her unusual amber eyes that pierced to the bone, she could make anyone, man or woman, scurry to do her will. Anyone except Victor Connagher. “My worry is getting contestants in quickly enough. And what about the set? We’re on an extremely tight timeframe. To be frank, the only reason you’re getting a shot at this season at all is because we had a last-minute cancellation.”
“I’ve already worked through the contestant angle,” Shiloh added quickly. “Part of my research and planning stage was to meet with the local BDSM club’s director. We could easily make use of Silken’s facilities and their more experienced staff, as well as ours.”
Mr. Connagher’s eyebrow climbed even higher, at odds with the subtle rumble of intensity building in his voice. “Do you mean we should ask VCONN employees to participate as contestants?”
“Reality show is a misnomer,” Shiloh replied calmly, even though every nerve in her body was humming. She had his attention. The hook was baited and he was nibbling. She couldn’t haul him in too quickly or she’d lose him entirely. “Even long-running reality shows control their settings and select their contestants very carefully. We know our goal is positive education combined with the entertainment factor of a reality show, so we pick contestants we already know portray the right attitudes and knowledge about BDSM. It’ll be much easier if we take volunteers from your staff.”
“You’re suggesting we stack the deck.” Ms. Kannes was unable to hide the gleam of interest in her eyes, but Mr. Connagher was impossible to read. His eyes were too dark, solemn and intent—the better to see her every weakness. “I’m assuming you’ll have some sort of prize for the winning contestant. How do we keep everyone happy when only one person wins?”
“It’s a BDSM show.” Shiloh let a sultry smile curve her lips, but she didn’t look directly at him. She didn’t trust herself not to plop down into his lap. “If we set up the correct challenges, everyone will go home extremely happy regardless of who wins.”
He checked his watch, warning that his patience was almost gone. “Either this is a reality show or it’s not. There has to be a winner, and I won’t stand for cheating among my own employees.”
“It’s a dual competition.” Shiloh fought not to blurt out her response in a desperation plea. “We’ll have submissives competing to win the Dominants’ favor, but also a single Dominant could win the title of Master, if he selects the correct submissive to win it all.”
Ms. Kannes laughed. “By God, Victor, it’s brilliant. I could compete as one of the Dominants, with my submissive as one of the contestants. Patrick could compete too, and that would give us another two or three submissives, depending on who’s in his stable right now. If we can get another couple from Silken, then we’d have an interesting mix of newbies and experienced players. The experienced ones would be teaching the rest, as well as having a little friendly competition among us all.”
Frowning, Mr. Connagher shook his head. “There’s not going to be much drama between you and Patrick–you’re too evenly matched and know each other too well.”
Shiloh let out her breath and took a step closer to him, waiting until his gaze swung to her. “That’s why you should compete.”
His eyes narrowed to slits, his mouth flattened into a hard slant, and his shoulders squared, chest broad and muscular in a universal signal of male dominance that his suit couldn’t conceal.
Her heart froze a moment and then exploded into a rapid, thunderous pace that made her ears roar. He didn’t refuse outright, though, which gave her the courage to continue. “The show needs a Master with a capital M. Someone who’ll really bring the competition to a peak. Based on our demographics, it should be a male, and preferably, his submissive should be female. It will be even more exciting if he’s unattached, so the unowned submissives all feel like they have a chance of winning his attention. The ultimate prize, then, will be the Master’s collar, not money like the typical reality show.”
Evidently he didn’t like that idea at all. Silence stretched out, painful and heavy, his midnight eyes locked on her. Her mouth went dry and her heart hammered, but she stood her ground without blinking or flinching in the wake of his intensity. She didn’t even dare breathe.
“You presume, then, that I’m not only a Dominant, but also a man who’d be interested in a giggling, immature submissive who’s incapable of any sort of serious play.” He blew out his breath in a low snort and turned to the other woman. “As though I’d give my collar to someone just because they thought they’d won a television show that we set up from the very beginning.”
Sucking in a deep breath, Shiloh squeezed her hands together so hard she felt her nails digging into her skin. She fought to hide the fierce elation burning through her. He might be dismissive, but she’d been right all along. He did have a collar, he was a Dominant, and if she played this right, it’d be impossible for him to back out. The competitor in him demanded excellence in all things, even a reality show.
Feigning indifference, she shrugged and turned away from the table. “Then perhaps you can recommend another Master.”
Shuffling through her carefully researched boards, she moved the most important one to the front. Her best friend and roommate—who just happened to be a graphic design artist—had helped with the artwork. A masked man stood on a dais, dressed like an English riding master with a wicked-looking whip in his right hand. Despite the costume, the man bore a marked resemblance to VCONN’s CEO.
Contestants knelt in an arc before him, all in submissive positions, head down, some stretched out prostrate before him. Two others stood on the steps to the dais but lower than him, a man and woman, also in Victorian riding wear. Despite their higher position than the contestants, they inclined their heads to the man above.
In bold letters across the top, the board read: One Master to rule them all.
“V,” Ms. Kannes breathed out, her eyes bright. “You’re perfect!”
“I don’t want to do it.” Yet he stared at the board, his right hand opening and closing into a fist, as though he ached to reach out and grab that whip. “There’s no way in hell I’m unleashing that side of me on a bunch of–”
Shiloh pulled out the next storyboard and his voice fell off. In this sketch, a woman knelt at the Master’s feet and leaned against his legs. One hand was wrapped around his thigh, the other fisted in his shirt as though she was trying to climb his body. Her face was pressed against him with her hair pulled aside to bare her back. Long red stripes marked her skin and the Master’s whip curled around her vulnerable body with the heading: One sub to please the Master — in any way he wishes.
He ground out, “It’s all wrong.”
Shiloh’s heart plummeted and her shoulders slumped with defeat. She’d gambled everything on this show. If he didn’t like it, then she’d totally misunderstood every single signal she’d picked up from him. She’d even had her friend stylize the winner after her, a deliberate message to him, if only he were paying attention.
She’d planned this stupid show down to the smallest detail, dreaming about winning it all. Wrapping herself around him. Learning to please him in every single possible way he’d ever dreamed. Winning him.
Her eyes felt hot and dry, and her bottom lip trembled. It was ridiculous to be heartbroken over a man who’d never touched her. Never looked into her eyes and burned with need. Never taken her on a long, hard ride to a sweetly painful submission they’d never forget.
“You came very close, Ms. Holmes.”
She whipped her head up.
Victor Connagher gave her a hard smile of teeth and dominance that wound her heart into knots and sent icy chills dripping down her spine. “I can live with the English riding style.” He kicked back in his chair and propped his limited edition Lucchese boots on the edge of the conference table. “But this Master only uses a riding crop.”