I asked on facebook if you would prefer a long or short teaser. You said long… so here is the full first chapter.
I’d love if it if you could share and I hope you like it!! 🙂
Goodreads link: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18398089-quintessentially-q
Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Pepper-Winters/539976006062848
Releasing December 2013
All I could think was—she’s dead. She had to be. All that blood, so bright with a coppery tang, almost sweet.
Her snowy skin was extra frosty, grey-blue eyes closed to me.
Rage and terror strangled as I fell to my knees in the warm puddle of crimson. The whip in my hands was slippery with sweat, and I hurled it away in disgust. I did this. I let myself go and showed my true self. The monster inside ruined the only brightness in my life.
“Tess?” I pulled her into my arms, dragging her cold, lifeless form closer. Blood smeared over us. Her red-welted body oozed with damnation.
“Wake up, esclave,” I growled, hoping an order would force those dove-blue eyes open. No response.
I bent, pressing my cheek against her mouth, waiting endlessly for a small puff of breath, a signal I hadn’t gone too far.
Fear stopped my heart, and all I wanted to do was rewind time. Rewind to a simpler place where I lived with needs and urges, but never let myself believe I could be free. Rewind to the day when Tess arrived, and I promptly sent her back to her silly boyfriend Brax. At least if I did, she would be safe and my life wouldn’t have ended.
At least then, Tess would be alive.
My demons killed her.
I killed her.
I threw my head back and howled.
* * * * *
Something sharp bit my shoulder and I flinched. Rolling away, I tried to ignore the call. I deserved to stay in this endless hell. The hell I created for killing the one woman who stole my life and showed me an emotion I never dared dream for: companionship.
My cheek smarted as if someone slapped me, blazing through the darkness with a bite of pain.
Eyes snapped open to a wild-eyed, blonde goddess on top of me. The debilitating terror wouldn’t leave, even though she was alive, and glaring with passion I grew to know so well.
“What the hell, Q. That’s the third time this week. You going to tell me what you’re dreaming about to warrant howling like a werewolf?” Tess pinned my shoulders to the mattress and I couldn’t stop muscles from tensing. I liked her on top, but I didn’t like her holding me as if she was in control. It wasn’t how I worked.
“None of your business.” I rolled, grabbing her hips to pin her beneath me. I risked a small smile. With her under me, my world righted again. I ran hands over her waist, up her throat, to her lips. Her breath fluttered, coming faster and the rest of my panic receded.
She was still breathing.
I hadn’t killed her.
Tess ran her hand softly over my cheek, tickling. “You should tell me what you’re afraid of. Brax used to—”
I froze, grinding my teeth. “If you know what’s good for you, you won’t finish that sentence.” Goddammit, why did she have to bring the ghost of her goody-too-shoes boyfriend who treated her like a fragile princess into our bed?
Tess squeezed her eyes. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to… it’s just—I’m concerned. If you’re having bad dreams because of me, well, give me the opportunity to make them go away.”
It was too early in the morning to suffer an inquisition. Four days since Tess appeared on my doorstep and gave me no choice to accept her. Accept her fire, spirit, and sharp tenacity. I may be a controlling bastard but the moment Tess stalked into my life, I lost my balls to her.
I hoped she didn’t know just how much she affected me, because I was shit terrified of what the future meant for us.
The promises she made of being strong enough for me. The blood oath that linked us together for as long as that blood pumped in our veins.
Four days since my life changed forever and I had been in constant excruciating pain ever since.
“Leave it alone,” I grumbled. This woman was an icy glacier to my unmovable mountain of a vow. My solemn vow that I’d never accept the fucking darkness or be a sadistic asshole like my father. But the glacier was winning, millimeter by millimeter, centimeter by centimeter. Her ice slithered in between the hairline fractures of my will, making them larger, making the cracks harder to ignore.
For four days, I’d successfully ignored her advances for sex. Memories of taking her over the bar in the gaming room were still too raw. Tess still couldn’t sit without wincing. I knew she hurt not that she ever complained. I watched her every movement like a vulture reading the weakness of his prey.
She lied to me, of course, saying I hadn’t hurt her with my belt. But I had. And the constant war of delicious satisfaction at hurting her and the horror at hurting someone as perfect as Tess kept me up at night.
I fucking shouldn’t want to beat the ever-living daylights out of her, but I did. Oh, shit how I did. “Q. You can’t keep all your thoughts locked up now you’ve let me into your life. I see the torment in your eyes. You promised me you’d talk and let me in.” Her voice held pain, but also annoyance. We’d both made promises and so far, neither of us had lived up to them. Not that it mattered—I had every intention of breaking my end of the bargain. She wasn’t strong enough. I wasn’t strong enough.
Early days, idiot. Just relax.
Relax? How could I ever relax? I never knew if I’d be able to fight the urge to be such a maniac bastard if I didn’t keep a tight rein at all times.
“I’m exhausted,” I murmured. Did she hear the ulterior confession? That it hadn’t even been a week of accepting this relationship—if it could even be called that. I needn’t have asked, of course Tess saw the truth. She saw too damn much.
“Stop fighting then, Q. You haven’t touched me since I came back to you. You hardly look at me apart from when I flinch if I sit on a sore spot on my ass. You’re even more remote than when I was sold to you.”
I growled deep in my chest at the sold remark. I hated the cunts who’d stolen and sold her. Every time I thought about what might’ve happened to Tess if she hadn’t have been given to me, I wanted to turn feral. Strip my falseness of businessman and paint their blood on my walls. Screw having civilized business meetings with criminals. I was done with that shit.
My hands curled and I trembled with pent up rage. I’m kidding myself. I sighed deeply. “I can’t be tender with you. And I hate that I got carried away with hitting you.” There? Was she fucking satisfied? I opened up to her about things I wished I could vomit out of me. Hurl this darkness from deep inside, purge my heart so I could be sweet and kind and the perfect man for her. Not the savage sex hungry beast.
Her breath caught and a soft finger trailed along my forearm. “Thank you. You don’t know what a relief it is for you to talk to me. Explain your brooding silences. Can you tell me about your nightmare now?”
I glared at her and sat upright. Pushy woman. She’d successfully freaked me out and pissed me off with her questions.
Rolling to the side of the ginourmous bed, I perched on the edge with my head in my hands. I didn’t want to be a coward and run, but this was all too new. My tower room with its ridiculously large fireplace and ocean-sized white carpet still looked the same, nothing outward had changed, but Tess was wreaking havoc on my soul. I didn’t know if I’d be able to survive letting her worm her way deeper into my world.
The nightmare roared back to full colour. All that blood, so bright with a coppery tang, almost sweet. Her snowy skin extra frosty, grey-blue eyes closed to me.
No. I couldn’t do this. I wasn’t strong enough and somehow the evilness of my father would make me do the one thing I’d run from my entire life. I lived my life with rules, shackles. I wasn’t prepared to let a delicate fragile little bird taunt me to untwine myself and chase her. I’d win. And I’d lose when I killed her.
You sound like a fucking girl, Mercer.
I flinched as Tess scampered across the bedspread and draped herself over my naked back. Her soft fingertips traced my tattoo of fluttering sparrows and barbwire. I clenched my jaw as her touch whispered lower and lower, down my abs, heading to my cock.
I meant to stop her. I really did, but she grasped me hard through my boxer shorts and I groaned. One touch was all I needed from her to make me achingly hard and drowning in dark desire.
Tess coaxed me to rigidness, all while nibbling on my ear. “If you’re frightened of hurting me, Q… you won’t. I trust you.”
I bit out. “I don’t trust you yet. I don’t want to break you.” I don’t trust myself to stop.
She stopped stroking me and pulled back. Her warmth left me with a shiver. “I gave you my word to fight you. I’ve slept in your bed for four nights, and the most you’ve done is peck my cheek goodnight. You haven’t used your belt or chains or any of those toys I glimpsed in that mirrored chest of yours.”
Her eyes flittered to the end of the bed where the chest lay. Locked. No way did I want her going in there. It held all my sins and things that weren’t classified as sex toys. Unless I counted a knife and a small vial for blood storage toys.
I groaned, hanging my head in my hands. What monster wanted to capture the blood of the woman he’d given his life to? I was right to keep myself so aloof, so obsessed with work. By staying overworked I had no time for other needs.
I hadn’t been to work in four days as the thought of being away from Tess turned my stomach into a rock, but it was a mistake to think I could give up my way of life and not suffer consequences.
I had to find a way to cure myself. I had to stop this before Tess successfully goaded me into doing something I regretted.
Tess grumbled something and swung her legs off the bed. Her ass still held purple shadows from my belt. How many lashes did I give her that night? I counted thirty, but that was after the ones I already struck. My heart squeezed at the thought of how easy it was to lose myself around her, but a millisecond later it was overshadowed by the overwhelming urge to create more raw angry bruises on her perfect skin. I wanted her over my knee. I wanted to have those perfect crystal tears splashing my thigh as I hit her.
Goddammit, she said I scared her soul… would she let me scar her skin?
Tess stood in front of me. Her toned legs splayed, hands on her hips. So proud and regal in her own skin. I couldn’t tear my eyes away. My mouth went dry as the beast inside prowled and hurled itself against the cage, trying so hard to get at her. To rip her. Ravage her.
I shut my eyes, pulling myself together.
Tess folded to her knees between my legs, and pressed her lips against my boxer clad cock.
I flinched and gasped. The heat of her breath, the delicateness of her lips on the fabric drove me insane.
“If you won’t tell me, Q, I’ll just taunt you until you can’t help it. You have me. I’m your slave while we’re in the bedroom and I want to be used. I crave it. Why don’t you get that yet?”
She wanted to taunt me? Fine. I lashed out and grabbed a thick handful of messy blonde curls. Leaning down to her eye level, I stared right into the depths of her being, allowing her to see the turmoil in mine. The need, the anguish, the fine line of hatred and love for her for forcing me to accept this part of myself.
Tess sucked in a breath, shrinking beneath the weight of my stare. I shook her, loving the small blaze of pain in her eyes. Shit, would I ever become repulsed by hurting her rather than turned on?
“I understand you want me to show you what my fantasies are, but you have to give me time, esclave.” My heart raced at the word. For four days, I refused to call her by anything but Tess. She wasn’t my slave. She wasn’t my possession. Never had been and never would be. I hated how even though I knew she was there on her own accord—for her crazy infatuation with me—that I still wanted ultimate ownership. It was wrong of me to call her my slave when she was my equal. She was Tess. My Tess.
Her eyelids slammed closed and she swayed into me, her lips parting. “Say it again, maître. Remind me of my place.”
Shit, this fucking woman. She wasn’t curing me, she was making it worse. How could I expect to keep her alive and not let my dreams come true when she forced me down this path?
Something unlocked inside, some darkness billowed, blocking out the light I’d been fighting so hard to keep bright.
Tess noticed. Her body tensed, her fingers digging into my thighs where she held me.
I bent my head, glowering, “You’re disobeying me, esclave. I think I may have to punish you.”
She shuddered under my grip, eyes flaring wide with a sexy glint. The same glint that told me she was about to rebel and cause me to snap. Shit, I didn’t have the strength to stop myself again. My energy was depleted. The monster was in full control.
Tess stroked my thigh once, before whispering harshly, “You aren’t allowed to punish me. I’ll run again. Don’t dare touch me.”
In one swoop, I hauled her to her feet. Her hands flew to mine clutched in her silky curls. Her blue-grey eyes smoldered to smoke; her perfect pink lips trembled.
“You really shouldn’t push me. I asked for time.” I shook her hard. Pissed at her for making me lose control. “I’m done fighting. You happy now?”
Her mouth parted and she sucked in a shaky breath. A flicker of indecision filled her eyes before being swallowed by heavy, heated lust. “Yes.”
I pulled her forward, licking my lips at the thought of kissing her like she deserved to be kissed. Hard. Ruthless. Her breath caught, and her eyes fluttered closed as I whispered my mouth against hers.
She sighed as I licked her lower lip in one quick swipe.
I pulled away, releasing her hair to capture her wrist. “You should know by now I don’t do things that you want me to do, esclave. Your permission isn’t what gets me off.”
She frowned as I dragged her across the thick white carpet and forced her to kneel again in front of the mirrored chest. Breathing hard, I stalked to where I left my trousers on the floor last night and withdrew the key.
“Open it.” I passed the key to her, my hand steady, but heart beating thickly.
She glared before taking the metal and slipping it obediently into the lock. I stood with my back rigid and every muscle on high alert. Tess thought I had a soul. A heart. What she would find in the chest would prove all her stupid sweet fantasies weren’t real.
There was no doubt I wanted Tess. There was no question she’d made me feel something I’d never felt before… but there was also no doubt that it wasn’t enough. I was too damaged from too young an age to be able to change. And if she hoped she could save me, change me, mold me… whatever we had wouldn’t last long.
Tess took a deep breath and cracked open the lid. I expected a squeal, a gasp… something to indicate awareness of what she tempted, but deathly silence filled the room.
I gritted my teeth, looking over her shoulder. The first lot of apparatus was tame. Any sex shop or adventuress couple would have a few sneaky purchases.
Three whips. Four floggers of different thickness. Two paddles. Three sets of nipples clamps. Butt plugs and cuffs of every description. In fact, they were so tame, they turned me off at the thought of using them on Tess.
Tess ran delicate fingers along the items, a slight frown on her face. Why the hell was she frowning?
“Speak, esclave. Why are you disappointed? Expect to find a rape kit in there? A shovel to get rid of your body?”
She flinched at the word rape and I cursed myself to hell for using the word. Once again my rage and hatred toward Lebrafe rose and I wanted to hack his corpse into worm food. Fucking bastard for hurting what was mine to protect.
Tess looked up, craning her snowy white neck. “It’s just… I expected—” She swallowed and didn’t continue. Instead, she shook her head slightly and returned to the chest. Picking up a black rubber dildo, she murmured, “I don’t want dildos when I can have your cock. I knew you had the whips and floggers but I don’t know…” Her voice dwindled off and damn it to hell she made me feel like I lacked. That I wasn’t hardcore enough for her. I would only be completely satisfied when she was red with blood and whimpering in my arms. That’s the sort of sick fuck I was. For Tess to think I was tame. Shit, it made me want to prove just how dark I wanted. Just what sort of depraved thoughts lived in my skull.
I ran a hand over my head, cursing her silently. You’re competing with yourself. Do you see how fucked up this is?
Shit. “It’s a shelf. Look harder.” My voice didn’t sound right. Too dark, too coarse.
Her eyes flashed to mine and something sparked between us. The chemistry and need that always simmered roared into an out of control fire. My heart raced and my already rock hard cock throbbed with need.
Inching higher on her knees, Tess found the small latch on the shelf and pulled it away.
“Oh,” she whispered.
Yes, oh. The sickness and blackness was there for her to see. I hadn’t used any of the toys… not that they could be called toys. More like torture equipment. I didn’t know why I owned them. I never planned to use them. Until now.
Tess lifted out the Japanese silk rope. It was said to tie into a knot so strong not even blade or teeth could get it undone. It burned the skin when the captive wiggled and the glowing crimson of the threads looked so like blood my mouth watered.
Tess stroked the rope once, before draping it over her naked thighs and reaching for the next item. I didn’t want to tear my eyes away from the look of the rope on her skin, but my stomach twisted at the next item.
A harness. The same type my sick, perverted father used to string women up with their head between their legs hanging from the ceiling. Arms bound, legs bound, head bound… there would be nowhere Tess could run. No place wouldn’t I be able to touch.
I shuddered as a band of need squeezed my balls. The thought of Tess strung up so helpless filled me with restless urges. I stepped forward, compelled to pounce and truss her up. To make her scream needing my cock.
Her eyes flashed to mine as I took another step, nudging her calf with my foot. She gazed from beneath her thick lashes, eyes swirling with complexities that I couldn’t figure out. Her chest rose as courage, sharp and brittle, etched her face.
“Do you like the thought of having nowhere to run? Nowhere to hide, esclave?”
Slowly, ever so slowly, she put the harness to the side. Her nipples beneath my white t-shirt she wore to bed, sprung to a peak. “I know I can’t run from you, Q. And I wouldn’t want to.”
Her voice was breathy but tense and instead of amping my lust it dampened it. I froze, watching as she reached for another item. Why exactly was I letting her see this? My hands itched to slam the lid and barricade her from ever looking again.
Tess pulled out a bright red ball gag, a vinyl body suit with only a mouth slit to breathe and an opening between the legs, and a bar with cuffs for wrists and ankles.
Each item Tess placed on the floor filled me with more and more repulsion. Laid by my feet was evidence of my true sickness. If I was just into kinky shit, fine. Kink between two consenting adults was nothing to be embarrassed about. But my needs went past kinky into life threatening. I didn’t want fake fear or tears. No. I wanted the whole damn truth. I wanted to possess and obsess and consume. I wanted to be the air that Tess breathed. I wanted to be the water she drank to stay alive. Damn, I wanted to be the very reason why she stayed alive all the while fighting the urge to kill her at the same time. I never spoke truer words to Tess before. I was totally and utterly exhausted.
Tess made a noise, dragging me from my thoughts. I flinched at the item in her grasp. A red leather bag. I gulped and lunged, just as Tess unzipped it.
She moved too fast, swiping it out of my reach. “Let me see.” Her tone bordered on anger and a plea. Such a sweet cocktail of sounds.
I nodded and stepped back a little, backing away from the items in the bag. Items I really, really wanted to use at this very moment.
Tess lifted out a pair of silver scissors, a small knife, and three crystal vials. She didn’t bother pulling out the suction syringe I knew was in there to collect the blood.
Tess rocked on her heels, pinning me with her grey stare. “I always wondered why you ruined so many of my clothes. You could’ve demanded I strip, but you always preferred to cut them, or burn, or tear. Is it because you secretly want to do that to my body? Tear me apart? Flay me? See my blood running like a river?”
I shut my eyes. I couldn’t handle the image she painted. The image I wanted. So fucking much.
Tess grabbed my ankle, pulling herself up my mostly naked form until she stood before me. Her warmth seeped into mine and I wondered what would happen if I reached for her to give her something as simple as a hug. A show of tenderness, of sweet emotion. Could I survive it or would I crush her, squeeze her—go too far like I did every time?
Tess took the option out of my hands when she ducked and pressed a flogger in my grip. “You’re wrong if you think that by showing me what’s in that chest scares me, Q.”
My eyes, heavy with regret and self-loathing, opened to drown in hers. She was so close, I could see the swirls of blue and grey in her irises. Decipher the fear, the stubbornness, and the lust in her soul.
“You need to talk to me. You can’t keep secrets from me, maître. I won’t let you.” Stepping back, she ripped my t-shirt over her head, standing before me naked. With courage of warrioress, she pinched the white flesh of her lower abdomen. “Here. I want you to scar me here. Mark me if it will make you feel better. I want you to accept what I’m giving you. I want you to embrace it.”
I coughed with the insanity of what she offered. I wasn’t man enough for her, but I sure as hell had enough beast inside. But the man was a coward. I refused to drop the walls and let myself be fully free—no matter what promises Tess made me sprout.
I reached and touched her taut belly with a fingertip. So smooth, so silky, so feminine. Tess panted softly and her breasts rose and fell, teasing me, making me lose all inhibitions. Only she could spin this sort of web around me. Only she could make me so fucked up and confused.
Cupping her breast, I pinched her nipple, hard. No gentle foreplay, just a straight grip. Her head fell forward, resting on my chest. Her scent of orchids and frost was the last of my undoing.
I gave up.
I gave in.
I wanted and I wouldn’t stop.
My hand trailed from her breast up her neck, and captured her throat. Wrenching her head back, I met her turbulent eyes with mine. Anger blazed through me. “You couldn’t just give me time, could you, esclave? Now I’m pissed and angry and I don’t know the limits of my control.” I shook her, tightening my fingers around her neck.
She didn’t move, her arms stayed by her sides, and she let me throttle her. I frowned. “Do you trust me not to go too far? Are you really that stupid?”
One hand flew to cover mine, but she didn’t tug or try to get me to release her. Her other palm rested on my unshaven cheek, jolting me with a sharp jolt of unconditional acceptance, need, want, and everything else that lived between us.
Shit, I’m lucky. And so unworthy.
“I promised you I would fight. I’m not stupid to relinquish myself into your control completely, Q. But I do trust that I know your limits even more than you do. I trust you…here.” She dropped her hand to rest above my heart. It raced and pumped like a demon thing, bucking beneath her touch. “Let yourself feel. Let yourself accept. You’re more human than you want to believe.”
The softness in her tone enraged me and instead of wondering if her words were true, I dismissed them in favour of kissing her.
I captured her mouth like she was the last woman on earth. The only woman for me. My tongue speared through her soft, sweet lips and I took and took and took. I stole her taste, her breath. I forced her to accept every inch of need from my tongue to hers.
She moaned and pressed hard against me, dragging more from me until I couldn’t tell where her lips began and mine ended. I kissed her while chocking her until her legs started to wobble and I caught her as she buckled completely.
Releasing her, I scooped up her limp body and carried her across the room. Past the fireplace, away from the chains in the ceiling where I’d strung her up the first time I’d had her in my room.
Tess blinked, still foggy from lack of oxygen. “Where are we going?”
Gulping a deep breath, completely at the mercy of my throbbing cock and thick desire, I pulled at the thick velvet curtain to the left of the massive turret window.
The dark green material slithered off, landing in a puddle like a melted forest.
Tess gasped and snuggled closer into my chest, gaping at the human-sized cross, with its well-oiled dark wood and bright red leather cuffs for arms and legs. There were even straps to go across her neck, hips, and thighs. Completely restrained. Completely mine.
She moaned and shivered, sending shockwaves of desire through my limbs. My voice dripped with darkness as I said, “It’s time you began your initiation into my world, escalve.”