Authors: Gemma Jenkins
Copyright © 2016 Gemma Jenkins
All rights reserved.
To my beta readers, Sharon and Lisa.
Thank you for your insight and time.
The ceremony was decidedly unromantic. Declan’s lawyer couldn’t decide who to glare at more. Declan for getting married without a prenup. Nyxie for turning Declan into the biggest moron who ever lived. Or the judge for waiving the 72-hour waiting period, and acting like this was a jolly joke.
Surely, this wasn’t legal. Neither one was military being shipped off, which was the only exception he’d ever heard of before. Junior didn’t understand what had possessed his client to act so impulsively. Declan Stryker was as smart as they came, but he’d never been rash.
Junior had known Declan since his grandparents passed away. Even at that age, he was prepossessed with an unnatural maturity and independence that made him seem older. It was true of him when he was a teen. It was true now.
Declan had read every word of his grandparents’ wills and asked him to show him case law regarding his rights as a minor. Then came the demands for a computer with Internet and a credit card to pay for college classes and textbooks. But he’d also used the credit card to pay for Internet porn. Junior had been able to cancel most of his subscriptions until he turned eighteen. When he confronted Declan and reminded him that the credit card was intended for educational purposes, the little shit had insisted he was getting a real education—not only could he study anatomy, but also human sexuality and certain aspects of psychology and abnormal psych.
Junior’s lips turned down further, thinking about what kind of websites Declan gravitated towards. Almost against his will, his eyes were drawn to Nyxie. Jesus. Why would she marry someone who is into that kinky shit, especially so early into the relationship? Could she possibly be into it also? Even so, why would he marry her? Declan had practically bragged in his office that she’d agreed to be his sex slave, and the fees for his services were well on the way to forty grand. She would be his for two years. Besides, the longer it took to get custody returned to her, the longer he’d own her. How did marrying her make sense? Why buy the cow if you already paid for the milk for two years?
The smaller girl sniffled loudly. She looked as miserable as Junior felt. When she wiped her nose on the shoulder of her short-sleeved knit dress, he handed her his handkerchief. She looked uncertain what to do with it. The CASA volunteer leaned down and whispered that she could blow her nose in it.
Junior turned his attention back to the bride.
was what he liked, was she? She looked prettier than she did the day Stryker walked into his office with her. Maybe he was marrying her so she couldn’t be forced to testify against him if…. Junior didn’t want to think about what that kind of relationship entailed. Could she press abuse charges if he took it too far? Would she? Being married would not prevent her from testifying against him if that was what she wanted to do.
She gazed up at Declan with a wan smile. She looked scared, uncertain.
Studying her, he knew this had not been her plan. Through the skin of her skinny neck, he could see her pulse jumping, and it wasn't her only sign of distress. She kept swallowing, and opening and closing her free hand. No, she wasn’t expecting this.
But when Declan pulled out the ring from his pocket, Junior knew this had not been a spur of the moment decision on his part. Son-of-a-bitch.
Stryker could have warned him. Even a standard prenup, printed from his files, would’ve been better than nothing. Seven million might not be enough to live a lavish lifestyle the rest of their days, but it was nothing to sneeze at either.
He should have realized something was up when Declan bought her the Lexus.
What a fucking dumb ass.
Maybe Junior could have him declared legally incompetent, and have the marriage annulled.
Note to self: Bone up on laws regarding annulment.
They drove away from the courthouse without her nieces. CPS had refused to release them until they could conduct a home study, and the judge had agreed.
“World’s shortest engagement,” Declan said, watching her fiddle with the rings. His wedding set was too big and the engagement ring kept rotating. “They were my grandmother’s rings. Grams put it in the will that she wanted my bride to have them. But you know, if they’re too old-fashioned, I’m sure she wouldn’t mind if I bought you something more to your liking.”
“No, they’re beautiful. I promise I’ll take good care of them, unless you prefer I not wear them. I’d be happy with a little two or three millimeter band from Walmart.”
Declan shook his head and resisted his urge to laugh. “Nyxie, weren’t you listening when the judge asked about my assets? You’re not going to walk around with some cheap-ass band from Walmart.”
“They’re not cheap. One of the other waitresses told me her ring was $150. And that was before the price of gold started climbing.”
“You’re killing me, baby,” he said with a chuckle. “Would you prefer gold?”
Nyxie stared down at her hand. “No, the silver is fine. I don’t see any reason to spend more money. I just didn’t want you to feel like you have to let me use your family heirlooms.”
“Platinum,” he corrected, slowing the vehicle to make a turn. “We need to get them sized before they slip off your finger.”
She removed the pair of rings and handed them to Declan. Without taking his eyes off the road, he dropped them into his blazer pocket. “I’d never forgive myself if anything happened to them.”
His phone rang suddenly, the Bluetooth automatically silencing the radio. A disembodied voice announced the incoming call. The words, “Incoming call from Willa,” flashed across the radio display.
Declan swore. “Not a word,” he said to Nyxie in his Dom voice.
He punched a button on the steering wheel, and there was a slight click over the speaker. “Hello, Willa. I’ve been meaning to call you.”
“I haven’t heard from you in a couple of weeks.” She spoke quickly, as if nervous. “I just wanted to make sure you were still coming up, sir.”
Nyxie’s head jerked around when the woman called him,
Declan glanced at her with a look of irritation, but she wasn’t sure if it was directed at her, or the woman on the other end of the line.
“I’ve been busy. But that’s why I’ve been meaning to call you. I’m not coming.”
There were a few beats of silence on the other line. “I’ve already put in my request for days off as you asked. I don’t know if HR will let me change them.”
The muscle in his jaw ticked. “This is not a scheduling issue, Willa. I’m not coming, period.”
“But I’ve bought things for your visit. I know you said you don’t get into the fetish-wear, but I bought a red latex dress. I have the feeling this dress will change your mind. I can’t wait for you to see me in it.”
“Willa, I’m not going to tell you again. I’m not coming. Text me how much you spent, along with your mailing address. I’ll send you a check to cover your expenses and a little extra so you can take a trip while you’re off work.”
“Sir, please, I’m sorry. Tell me what I did wrong and I’ll fix it.”
Nyxie hated the desperation she heard in the woman’s voice. She knew when their contract was up, she’d feel the same way.
Declan put his left hand at his temple, as if he was developing a headache. “Willa, listen to me. This is not about you. You did nothing wrong. Frankly, you’re a great sub, probably the best one I’ve met online, but I’ve met someone else.”
Again, there was a pause in the conversation. When she found her voice, there was a false cheerfulness in her tone. “Bring her along. Imagine all the fun we can have.”
“I don’t share,” Declan said flatly. He reached for the garage door opener when they were at the four way stop by his townhouse.
“Neither do I,” Nyxie said under her breath, not even thinking that her voice could be picked up on the hands-free device.
Declan shot her an angry glare as they pulled into the garage. “She’s my 24/7.”
Willa’s gasp came through the car speakers amplifying the shock the woman felt. “I can’t believe you cheated on me with another sub.”
“Are you kidding me? We had no exclusive agreement. You were a free agent, and so was I.”
Nyxie could hear the annoyance in his voice. It nearly echoed her own. She couldn’t believe he had entered into an agreement with her, while he was preparing to see another woman. She couldn’t decide if she should be hurt, angry, or jealous. In truth, she felt all three, despite the sympathy she felt for Willa.
“When I realized you’re a liar, I should’ve known that you had no scruples.”
“When did I lie to you?”
“When didn’t you lie to me? You lied about your name and your job,
. You must be a lousy doctor to have gone to Yale and ended up in Lubbock, Texas.”
“You investigated me?” he asked rhetorically. “Wow.”
“Only an idiot would meet with a man she met on the Internet without checking him out. All I needed was your phone number and a reverse phone book website, and I had your name.”
“Look, Willa, I’m sorry I hurt you. We had an enjoyable weekend a year ago, but it’s not going to happen again. Send me your address, your receipt totals, and have a little vacation on me. Go someplace like New York or San Francisco, and find a little club where you can meet some Doms.”
Declan shut off the car and Nyxie was surprised that it didn’t affect the Bluetooth in the slightest. She sat for only a few seconds until she realized he intended to finish his conversation. With a quick look, she knew he was barely aware of her presence. She opened the door and got out. Keeping her eyes on him, she crossed in front of the car. She saw the moment it dawned on him that she went against his wishes and opened her car door herself. With outright defiance, she lifted her head and turned to face the direction she walked, pointedly ignoring him as she entered the house.
Declan hurried through the rest of the phone call, telling Willa to delete his number and e-mail address after she sent him her final text.
. That was a call he didn’t want to take in front of Nyxie. But if he had declined the call, she might think he was trying to hide something from her. He had barely given Willa a fleeting thought since Nyxie walked back into his life.
Out of habit, he removed his shoes in the entry, and began searching the house for Nyxie. When she wasn’t on the ground floor, he took both flights of stairs two at a time and stopped dead in his tracks when his eyes fell on Nyxie, naked and presenting in the middle of his bedroom floor.
“Arch your back, baby,” he said as his feet slowly began moving again. “In the future when you present, I want you next to the armoire.” He walked closer, circling her. “You’re beautiful like that, but I don’t believe I asked you to do this.”
Nyxie had yet to look up. “I figured I might as well just get my punishment out of the way.”
“For letting myself out of the car.”
Declan held out his hand to her. When she took it, he helped her to her feet. “I’m not going to punish you for that, although the defiant look nearly earned you a turn over my knee. You have reason to be upset. I would have rather taken care of her in private. You’re just starting to trust me. I didn’t want you to think I was hiding anything from you. As I told her, I’ve been meaning to call since we entered our agreement, but when I’ve had time to call, my mind was preoccupied with thoughts of you.”
Nyxie’s face came up to meet his, as if she would know the truth by looking into his eyes. “Does she mean a lot to you? Do you…love her?”
“No, Nyxie. She’s just a submissive from Denver I met online. We spent a weekend together about a year ago, and I was going to see her again for another weekend when I got my vacation time. It was arranged months ago.”
His arms encircled her waist as he drew her against the length of his body. His hands ran down her back to her bottom, caressing the swell.
“But you liked her. You liked her enough to want to see her again.” Nyxie put her hands on his chest.
He shrugged. “I’m a man, Nyxie. I don’t need to have deep feelings for every woman I sleep with. But I would never ask her to be my sub long-term. She’s what I think of as a part-time sub. She’s a regional manager for an insurance company. In her day-to-day life, she’s not submissive. She’s only that way in the bedroom.”
Nyxie studied Declan’s face and bit her lip. He could see the unspoken question in her mind. “The world needs followers too,” she said softly. “I can’t help the way I am.”
“Baby, I wouldn’t have you any other way.”
He leaned down and pressed his warm soft lips to hers. He felt the tentative way she returned his kiss before she pulled away.
“She liked you. I feel bad for her.”
He chuckled softly. “It’s not too late for me to call her back,” he teased.
“Which was shorter, the engagement or the marriage?” she retorted without missing a beat.