Paper Princess Page 44

I approach him with growing resolve. “This is nice, isn’t it?”

He watches me warily as I gesture for him to hold out his wrists. And for all my pretend nonchalance, I can barely stifle a gasp when his hand brushes against my bare midriff. Note to self: wear more clothes around Reed for my own self-preservation.

I’m not a Boy Scout or sailor. I know one knot—the shoelace one. I wrap his wrists twice and we both suck in a breath when the sash strikes the front of his boxers not once, but twice. “You’re killing me,” he says between gritted teeth.

“Good,” I murmur, but my hands are shaking so hard I can barely get my simple knots tied.

“You like this? Me at your mercy.”

“We both know that you’re never at my mercy.”

He mutters something under his breath about me not knowing shit, but I ignore him. I look around for a place to tie him to. The great thing about boats is that everything is bolted down. There’s a shiny brass loop next to the chair and I lead Reed over to it.

Pushing him down in the chair, I kneel between his legs with the sash in my hands. He sits there like a God, a modern-day King Tut surveying the slave girl at his feet.

The throbbing between my legs is almost painful. All I can hear is a tiny, devilish voice asking me what the harm would be.

This guy wants me so bad that he hasn’t lost an inch of his erection. Under the cotton, it’s waiting for me to touch it just like he’d ordered—or begged. I’ve never had my mouth around a dick before. I wonder what it feels like.

Before I can stop myself I reach out and tug his boxers down far enough to free him. He hisses when I touch him. Oh wow. The softness surprises me. His skin is like velvet.

“You’re…” Perfect, I want to say, but I’m afraid he’ll make fun of me if do. I run my fingertips over him and take a deep breath. Need pulses in my blood.

“Is this what you want?” Reed asks. It’s supposed to be a taunt but comes out as a plea.

I stare at his hard-on, intimidated by it. There’s a pearl of liquid on the tip and…I lick it. But one taste isn’t enough. I go back for seconds, lapping the tip like it’s the hottest day in July and he’s an ice cream cone about to melt all over my fingers.

“Goddammit.” His fisted hands come to rest on the top of my head. “Suck it. Dammit. Suck it like I know you can.”

His cruel words break through the fog of desire. I rear back.

“Like you know I can?” My defenses are so low that the vulnerability I’ve tried to keep from him seeps out.

“Like you…” He falters for a moment, unsettled by the hurt in my voice, but something causes him to rally. “Like you’ve done a thousand times before.”

“Right.” I release a shaky laugh. “Then you need to be secured for this, because I know tricks you haven’t ever dreamed of.”

I pull hard on the sash and tie it to the ring in the floor. I tie it tight. He watches me with glittering eyes. I want to punch him, really make him hurt. But he can endure physical pain, so the only thing I can do is make him believe that I’m going to ruin his precious family in ways that can’t be rebuilt. Like the way he’s breaking me apart into so many tiny pieces.

I climb onto the chair, my knees on either side of his strong thighs.

“I know you want me. I know that you’re dying for me to get back on my knees.” Curling my fingernails into his scalp, I jerk his head back so he can see my eyes. “But it will be a cold, cold day in hell before you ever see me kneel again. I wouldn’t touch you if you paid me. I wouldn’t touch you again even if you begged me for it. Even if you vowed you loved me more than the sun loves the day or the moon loves the night. I’d screw your father before I’d screw you.”

I push him away and climb off. “You know what? Maybe I’ll go do that right now. I remember Easton saying your dad likes them young.”

I saunter to the door with confidence I don’t really feel. Reed jerks against his bonds but my simple knots hold him tight.

“Get back here and untie me,” he growls.

“Naah. You’re gonna have to figure that one out yourself.” I step to the door and place my hand on the knob. Turning back, I plant a hand on my hip and taunt, “If you’re better than Easton, then by way of experience, your dad has to be spectacular.”

“Ella, get your ass back here.”

“No.” I smile at him and leave. Behind me, I hear him yelling my name. The sound gets fainter and fainter until his voice is just a bad lingering memory.

On the deck, Callum is tossing back booze while Easton is sleeping next to him in a lounger.

“Ella, are you okay?” Callum hurriedly gets to his feet and comes over.

I smooth down my hair and pretend to be unfazed. “I’m fine. Actually…I was just thinking about Steve and, well, I’d like to know more about him if you’re willing to share.”

Callum’s whole face lights up. “Yes, definitely. Come over and sit down.”

I bite my lip and look at my feet. “Could we go somewhere private?”

“Of course. How about my stateroom?”

“That would be perfect.” I beam.

His mouth drops open slightly. “God, that smile is all Steve. Come on.” He drapes an arm around my shoulder. “Steve and I grew up together. His granddad, who formed Atlantic Aviation with my granddad, was a sailor. Steve and I would sit and listen to his PawPaw’s stories for hours. I guess that’s where we got the urge to enlist.”

Easton’s head pops up as Callum leads me toward the stateroom. He stares at me, then at Callum’s arm. I brace myself for a snotty comment, one that I probably deserve this time. Instead he looks like I kicked him in the stomach—or lied to him—which is almost worse.

* * *

I let Callum rattle on about good ol’ Steve for about ten minutes before I interrupt him.

“Callum, this is interesting and I appreciate you sharing with me, but…” I hesitate. “I have to ask you a question that’s been bothering me from the moment I stepped foot in your house.”

“Sure, Ella. You can ask me anything.”

“Why are your sons so unhappy?” I think of Reed’s perpetually sullen face and swallow hard. “Why are they so angry? We both know they don’t like me and I want to know why.”

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