Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Make Me Scream - Part One

Have & Hold – Part One
For Valentine's Day I thought I'd revisit Kat & Peter from The Taming School, my novel with Sizzler Editions. It does happen after the novel so, if you like it, please check my novel The Taming School to discover how Kat and Peter got together. Have a happy Valentine's Day and, as always, please enjoy.

Kat Valdez was going to go insane.

It was only two nights before her wedding to Peter Richards, but she didn’t think she’d live through tonight.

Why in the world did Peter decide to host their rehearsal dinner here at Donovan’s? Sure, he’d reminded her that, on the outside, it just looked like another bar—the place where they’d had their first date. It was a romantic choice; a way for their friends and family and coworkers to share in Kat and Peter’s history before they sealed their future.

And, she supposed, it was nice to spend one last big night at the bar before Donovan’s was scheduled to close down for a complete renovation and their past became a landmark they could only visit in pictures.

Kat supposed that all was true. And romantic. And sweet. She had good memories of Donovan’s.

It’s just that not all of them were quite so innocent as their first meeting.

“So,” she heard her mother say to the tall, leggy, black woman sitting on the barstool beside her, “Pip, was it? How do you know my daughter?”

Oh God.

“Mom,” Kat said, forcing a smile to her face as she took her arm and led her away from the forthright, unfiltered sex podcaster before Pip could go into the precise details of when and how they’d met, “Dad’s looking for you at your table.”

Kat held her breath as she watched her mother take her wineglass and head back to her father, who was thankfully chatting with one of Peter’s colleagues.

“Jeez,” she heard Pip laugh, the sound mocking without being amused, “it’s not as if I was going to tell her how I met you here in the basement being spanked by your yummy hubby-to-be.” The sarcastic kinkster rolled her eyes at the nervous bride before leaving with her own drink in hand, her movements swaying with just a little too much sass. “I do know how to talk to parents, Kat.”

“Having dual-identity problems?” Peter’s friend—whose name she couldn’t quite remember—said slyly as he snuck up behind her. She’d only met him a handful times now but, even though she didn’t remember his name, she would never forget him.

Usually, when she saw Asians with bleached hair and obviously colored contacts, Kat—Cambodian in descent—reflexively wondered if they were trying to pass for white. Dark-skinned and obviously ethnic, she often wondered if the expensive and exhaustive effort to appear less foreign was worth it.

But, tall, thin, and obviously Asian, this man almost appeared more deliberately exotic due to his efforts. Almost otherworldly, his long, honeyed hair flowed in a stream down his back, framing his near cruelly chiseled, golden-hued features and his piercing, blue eyes.

But it was more than his odd exterior that stuck in a person’s head, he had a presence—like a cocky omniscience or a smirking sense of fatalism—that made her feel like he was always both amused by and disappointed in life and the world as a whole.

Mostly, she tended to feel like he was laughing at her. More often than she’d have liked, it seemed to be for good reason.
Like now.

She sighed. “I just don’t know how to do this,” she admitted quietly to him. “Balance these two parts of my life.” How did she reconcile the quiet, reserved woman she was in the bar, surrounded by family and friends as they talked about floral arrangements and future children, with the sensual pleasure-seeker she could be in the basement? Kat was good—fantastic, ecstatically happy—when the two sides stayed separate. When she could enjoy one without worrying about the other.

But here she was. Relatives being regaled by rope tops.  Coworkers circulating with crop-wielders. Old college friends catching up with kinksters of all kinds. Her worlds were colliding. It all made her want to shrink underneath the tables like a junior high student on parent-teacher conference day.

“Hang in there,” the knowing man next to her told her, laying a comforting hand on her shoulder. “It’ll all be over in a few days.”

Would it?

She was marrying Peter in two days. In two days, this—this mad mix of worlds where the secret parts of her lay threateningly close to the surface—would be the state of her life forever. A limbo where she’d constantly be keeping vigilance over the two halves of herself.

“Are you okay?”

Kat turned to see Peter behind her.

Her stomach still fluttered when he whispered in her ear like that, his hot breath and hushed voice a caress on her skin. She loved it when he got so close that his scent, woodsy and clean, was like an embrace. Where she could feel his strength and surety like they were her own.

“Kat?” he asked, placing his hands on her waist.

She closed her eyes and let herself take comfort in his hold. “I’m fine,” she told him.

“Uh-huh,” he said, his voice flat. Turning her around in his arms, he looked her over, examining her as if he could see straight through to the fragments of herself that she hid.

After studying her for a long moment, he gave out a resigned sigh, his hazel eyes hardening with unhappy resolution. “Come on,” he said as he grabbed her hand and made his way through the bar and the crowds of well-wishers before ushering her into the kitchen.

“Peter,” she hissed at him as he pulled her through past the stoves and cupboards and busy Donovan’s kitchen staff, “where are you going? We can’t leave; what about all our guests?”

“They’ve eaten, they’re drinking, they’re having a good time,” Peter told her as he tugged her along toward the old cellar space. “I’m not worried about them;” he said as he unlocked the door and led her down the stairs, “I’m worried about you.”

Kat bit her lip as he shut the door behind them before re-locking the door. “It’s nothing,” she assured him. It was. It was just pre-wedding whatevers. Right? “It’s nothing,” she repeated as much for herself as for him.

“You’ve been stressed out all week,” he said, eyeing her shrewdly. “Past couple of weeks really. Since the wedding shower, I think. You’ve just seemed put out or put upon or just plain pissed off.” He shook his head. “Is it the planning? The parties?” He took a long breath. “Or the wedding?”

Kat made a helpless sound as she stared at him. How was she supposed to answer that? She didn’t know what to say. “All of the above,” she whispered almost inaudibly. It’d just all been too much. She didn’t know how to deal. “I’m sorry.”

He closed his eyes behind slightly smudged glasses, hiding the brilliant hazel depths, as he bent his head to adjust the frames perched on his nose. “Are you calling it off?” His voice was cool. Calm. Collected. “We’ve been engaged two years now, Kat,” he said, his voice getting less calm and less collected with each word. “We kept pushing back the date. First because of your book. Then because the location you wanted wasn’t free. Then you wanted to wait to fly your parents in.” He began to pace as he ran his hand through his thick, brown hair. “Were these really reasons,” he asked, “or were they just excuses?”


Peter couldn’t believe this was happening.

This was supposed to be the happiest time of his life. He was about to be married to the love of his life. His friends and loved ones were here to help him celebrate.

And he felt as if his world were collapsing.

“Are you calling off the wedding?” he asked again, feeling anger and hurt and betrayal creep up inside him, burning in his throat only to spill off his tongue.


Kat stepped forward to press her hands against his chest. He felt that touch like a shock to the heart. He stumbled back.

“Peter,” she sighed as she dropped her hands, a rejected look that squeezed his heart haunting her lovely, dark eyes. She shook her head. “I just,” she sucked in a sharp breath, “I don’t know if I can do this.”

“Do what?” he asked, fighting the urge to go to her, to comfort her. Or shake her, he wasn’t really sure. “Get married?” he asked. Get married to me, he thought—he feared, actually.

So used to denying herself and deferring to others’ desires, it was so easy to misread Kat. Even after so long, Peter still never felt entirely certain about what she truly wanted. If he was what she really wanted. Or if she was just responding to his own need for her.

“I can’t face those people,” she hissed almost shrilly. “I don’t know how to be with all of,” she made another restless whimper as she gestured to the bar and all the people now filling it, “them.” She shrugged, shaking her head. “I wish it could be a week from now. The wedding would be done and we’d be married and it could just be…” She looked at him almost pleadingly. “Us again.”

Peter just blinked at her blankly. “You don’t want to go through with the wedding,” he said haltingly, “because you just want to be married?” Sometimes, much as he loved Kat, he just didn’t understand her.

He supposed it made sense though. Kat was shy. She didn’t like being the center of attention. Didn’t like everyone’s eyes watching her every move.  A big fancy wedding wasn’t her idea of a dream day; it was her every shadowed insecurity dragged out into the light. A lot of women he’d known before her had dreamed of their wedding day and never gave a thought to the marriage and life that began afterward. His Kat longed for the life and dreaded the day.

“God, I love you,” he told her as he yanked her into his arms.

She stumbled a step before letting herself fall against him. He wrapped his arms around her as she held him close, her tiny arms hugging him so tight. “I love you too,” she said, her voice muffled against his chest. “So,” she said, after a moment, propping her chin on his chest to look up at him with hope shining in her wide, tilted eyes, “wanna elope?”

“Little late for that, isn’t it?” he asked, cocking an eyebrow at her. There were some hundred-sixty or so people coming to their wedding—at least a dozen of whom had driven or flown in—who wouldn’t be very happy with that decision. But, if that was what she needed, he would give it to her. He’d march right out there, thank everyone for coming, before telling them all to head home.

But, he knew his Kat. She’d regret canceling everything the second she did so. It was her wedding day. She would only have one—he’d make damned sure of that—and she deserved the best. She deserved to share this milestone with her friends and her family. She deserved a day that she could remember years—decades—an entire lifetime—later.

“I think we’re in it now,” he sighed sadly as he squeezed her tighter, letting her know that, even if he wasn’t about to let her run, at least they were in it together.

She stuck her tongue out at him even as she held him closer. “You’re no help,” she accused mockingly.

Maybe not. But there was something he could do for her. Something he could give her to calm her nerves. Something that could help her get through the next few days.

Stroking her hair a moment, he looked around the room. When his friend had slipped Peter the keys to Donovan’s basement before, Hayato had mentioned to him that, while they’d all but finished the process of packing everything up for the renovations that would slowly turn Donovan’s the trendy bar and underground dungeon into Donovan’s the private, upscale kink club, some of the equipment was still in the playspace.

Most of the structures had been taken apart, waiting in pieces to be packed into storage. Sad planks of plain wood that had once been towering St. Andrew’s crosses or sadistic saw horses now sat quiet and unimpressive on the large padded mat across the floor.

The only piece still standing was the tall, crisscrossed, metal scaffolding meant primarily for rope suspension. Peter wasn’t much of a rope top; finding the knot-work, while beautiful, more time-consuming and involved than he liked his play. But he could work with that.

He slanted Kat a glittering look. “So, Katherina, we may not be able to elope,” he said as he turned her around to look at the empty but still very functional dungeon, “but wanna play?”

Kat’s dark eyes burned with anticipation even as she shook her head and stepped back into him. “We can’t,” she denied. “We have guests upstairs. My parents are upstairs.”

“Then it’s a good thing we’re down here,” he pointed out, taking the keys out to dangle them at her ear, “in the soundproof cellar with the only set of keys left.”

He bent low so he could nibble at her neck just beneath her fragrant, black hair that she’d twisted up into a loose, floppy, almost floral-styled bun. “Come on, Kat,” he murmured into her sweet-smelling, saison-shaded skin, “we haven’t played since before all the wedding planning.” They just hadn’t had time to fit it in between cake-tastings and dress-fittings. “But we could do it now; no one would even miss us,” he promised, while she worried her lip.

“No one would know?” she asked.

His friend would know, but Peter didn’t think she meant the odd, but extremely discreet man and didn’t think it a good time to bring it up. “Our little secret,” he whispered conspiratorially into the curved shell of her ear, before letting his tongue lick the now titillated skin. “One last goodbye to the place—our place—before it gets done-over.”

It was a dirty trick and he knew it, a blatant tug on her libidinous heartstrings, which were a little frazzled and frayed to begin with. He did feel a little manipulative about that.

“So long as no marks show.”

But it worked. And, guilt or not, he’d take it. 

Read Part Two Here

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