Authors: Emily Ryan-Davis
Tied & Twisted
Alarm specialist David has neither room nor desire for
complications with his sex. But complication is exactly what he gets when he
discovers his newest submissive plaything and his newest client are the same
person. And they’re both being threatened by an enemy he can’t identify.
Complications aren’t exactly among Jovanna’s favorite things
either. She’s looking for escape, not love, during her visits to a local BDSM
club. She didn’t anticipate David Burke would be the man behind the best
flogging of her life…or that her past would rear its ugly head and threaten to
end her life just as she begins to enjoy it again.
Ellora’s Cave Publishing
Tied & Twisted
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Tied & Twisted Copyright © 2011 Emily Ryan-Davis
Edited by Briana St. James
Cover design by Mina Carter
Photography: CanStock and 123rf.com
Electronic book publication September 2011
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Tied & Twisted
Tuesday, 8:30 a.m.
“What do you think? Should I do ‘lipstick lesbian’ or
‘lumberjack dyke’ when I proposition her?”
David Burke jerked his head up from the pile of mail on his
kitchen table and stared at his sister. “What?”
“Her. The Punk One, Purl Two clerk with the blunt-edged
Bettie Page bangs, blue-streaked ponytail and slanted eyebrows. Makes me want
to grab a strap-on and turn lesbian.” Melanie pursed her lips and met his eyes
over the electric purple bristles of her mascara wand. “Or maybe ask her to
grab a strap-on. I think I’d make someone a good bitch.”
Melanie coated her eyelashes in sticky purple paint and
screwed the cap back on before she raised an expectant eyebrow at him. “Well?
Come on. I value your opinion. And you know her better than I do.”
“Her” was Jovanna Steeple, one of his clients. David stacked
the mail and pushed it aside. In general, he tried not to think about the curvy
boutique owner with her preference for corset-style tops that showed more
creamy breast than any man should be expected to regard with professionalism.
Or not regard at all.
Tried, failed—they were two halves of the same coin where
the woman was concerned. He scowled at his sister. When he did think of Jovanna
Steeple, he didn’t put her in bed with another woman. He put her in bed with
“She’s the owner,” he finally replied. “Not a clerk. You’re
“Elly needed stitch holders or something and we stopped by
yesterday. I saw your logo in the window. I’m thinking she’s pretty ‘lipstick’,
but I couldn’t get a feel for whether she’s into girly girls or whether she
prefers muscles and mullets.” Melanie gathered her blonde bob behind her head.
“Come on, David. Help me out here. Could I pull off chick-with-a-dick if I had
He pinched the bridge of his nose. “You’re not old enough to
like women. And you’re not old enough to talk like that. Even if you were, I
wouldn’t want to hear about it.”
Melanie snorted and released her hair. “Please. I’m twenty-three.
I’m old enough to have liked
Her cell phone chimed. Melanie stood and drained the remains
of her coffee. “Gotta go. Keep an eye out for me and let me know if you spot
anything one way or the other. I could totally faceplant in her chest.”
“Yeah. I’ll see what I can do.” David stood to refill his
coffee mug and text a lawyer friend for info on statutory rape laws in New
York, especially as concerned two people of the same sex. Maybe he’d petition
for the age of consent to be raised to thirty.
His friend replied almost instantly with nothing more than
LOL, GOOD LUCK
Great. Eight weeks into his sister living with him while she
finished her degree and he already needed legal advice. Not for the first time,
he cursed his parents for giving up on their marriage and leaving Melanie to
him while they pursued separate social lives on opposite ends of the country.
radar didn’t include marriage. Instead, it
encompassed things like brief, hot encounters with women he picked up at BDSM play
parties. They liked to be tied down at night and released in the morning, he
liked to be on top and leave in the morning. No complications, no promises
except to play safe. It worked for him.
Burke Security Monitoring had been operational for three months.
As a start-up business owner, he had little time for relationships outside sex.
And little enough time for sex. Except he’d been fantasizing about Jovanna
Steeple for nearly six weeks. From the day she’d called to inquire about his
prices and he’d gotten hard over her smoky voice.
David scrolled through the calendar app on his phone, eyes
narrowed and body tight. Time was probably at the root of his Jovanna Steeple
problem. The last time he’d accepted a friend’s invitation to play at Bondage,
the fetish club downtown, had been just before the launch of his business. He’d
declined every invitation since, citing “too busy” and “plans with Melanie” as
his excuses, and he’d intended to decline the most recent invitation.
“Fuck that,” he muttered. He could do business from his
phone and Melanie could spend the weekend with a friend. He needed playtime.
* * * * *
Wednesday, 1:53 a.m.
Skeins of yarn, colorful by day but shades of gray by night,
squatted in the floor-to-ceiling shelving units that lined all four walls of
Punk One, Purl Two. As he picked his way around the overstuffed sofas and long
tables that occupied the open floor space, the intruder fantasized about
unraveling skein after skein and strangling the bitch with every variety his
money had bought. Vegan threads, synthetics, one hundred percent merino
wool—he’d strangle her slowly, one hand-dyed hue after another.
Breaking into the shop was a risk but it gave him a rush. He
wore loose black clothes, a ski mask over his head, gloves on his hands. The
front window declared the property protected by Burke Security Monitoring but
any surveillance equipment would pick up little more than an average-sized man
in black. Ignoring the high-pitched beep of the alarm and the ringing phone, he
followed his flashlight beam and carefully selected blue, black and purple
skeins. He wouldn’t be able to bruise her greedy throat with his bare hands but
he could mark her this way, choke her in the colors of death until it claimed
her. The mental image pushed his balls to a painful state of arousal. If he
didn’t need to protect himself so diligently, he’d come in her painted mouth
while she gasped for air.
The phone stopped ringing. He zipped his backpack and
climbed through the frame of the front door, carefully avoiding the jagged
shards of glass jutting from the frame like eager teeth.
* * * * *
Wednesday, 1:55 a.m.
Jovanna jolted from a dreamless sleep. The siren-sound of
the ringtone she’d assigned to her security company wailed from the cell phone
on her nightstand. Immediately alert, she snatched up the phone and answered.
“Burke Security Monitoring,” identified the caller, his
voice rough and ragged as if he’d recently come from his own bed. David was his
name. She remembered that, along with the tempting braid of ink encircling his
right biceps. “Is this Ms. Steeple?”
“It’s me. Did the alarm go off? I think we have a mouse—”
“The alarm went off and the cameras show evidence of an
intruder. Police are on their way to the shop,” he interrupted. “They’ll need
access to the video footage.”
Her feet were already on the floor by the time he paused.
She reached for a pair of jeans. “I’m twenty minutes away.”
“I’m ten. I’ll meet the police.” He killed the connection.
Jovanna hurriedly pulled the wrinkled jeans over her hips
and threw a hoodie over her short nightgown. Dread pooled behind her ribs. Punk
One, Purl Two was her baby, the dream she’d finally realized after a long,
painfully controlling marriage and messy divorce. In many ways, the
punk-rock-themed boutique defined her new life, a defiant middle finger in the
face of social control over her existence. Freedom greeted her every morning in
the guise of pointy needles and soft, cozy skeins of yarn. She’d found
friendship in her small but growing clientele.
At thirty, maybe she should have more to hold onto than a
twelve-hundred-square-foot shop filled with fiber, but what she had was what
she had. Burke Security Monitoring was an expense she couldn’t really afford,
not with all the other start-up costs, but David Burke had sold her with his
astute, watchful eyes and killer abs. As she belted herself into the driver’s
seat of her car, she blessed the sex-driven decision to lay out the cash.
Blessed the decision, tried to ignore the deeper justification for the expense.
Except she couldn’t really ignore her reasons now, could she? Security should
have been nothing more than defense against a paranoid fear that her ex-husband
might come after her. She’d never intended to actually need the alarm system.
Her ex-husband’s shadow haunted her. Paul Phillips fought
long and hard to keep her locked up in his sphere of control. She wouldn’t put
it past him to lash out at her here even though she was more than two thousand
miles from Seattle.
Halfway to the store, she texted David.
IS IT BAD?
“I guess that’s something,” she muttered to the empty
highway. If Paul were going to chase her down and do damage, he wouldn’t do a
half-assed job. If Paul were after her, there’d be no “could be worse”—there’d
be only “nothing’s left”.
When she reached the strip mall’s narrow lot, she had to
navigate around three patrol cars and a dark blue SUV. The SUV belonged to
David. She parked beside him. By the time she climbed from her car, he stood in
the door frame.
the door frame. Door still closed. Jovanna narrowed
“So an actual break-in. Not a lock pick,” she said. Bits of
glass crunched beneath the soles of her flip-flops.
“Watch your feet. There’s glass inside too.” He stepped
back, affording her enough room to squeeze past him into the shop. No, that was
room—her breasts grazed his chest during her sideways
sidle to avoid the shards protruding from the frame.
She sucked in a breath. “Anything besides the door?”
But the question was a formality. Jovanna scanned the shop
while she spoke. Nothing out of place. An officer stood behind the counter, she
presumed checking the cash register for tampering.
“According to the video footage, the intruder took a
sledgehammer to the door. Walked over to that wall.” He pointed to the BIV
section of her ROY G BIV organization system. “Took three skeins of yarn and
“Didn’t even go near the register.” A chill crept down her
spine. That did not describe something she’d expect of her ex. Paul would have
left serious damage in his wake. His violent tendencies stopped at human injury
but he had no qualms about unleashing his emotions on drywall and windows. Paul
wouldn’t have stopped at smashing the door.
David shook his head. “I’ll show you the footage.”
“Ms. Steeple?” one of the officers interrupted, approaching
from the BIV wall. “I need some information from you.”
“Give your info,” David said. “I’ll wait.”
Jovanna answered the officer’s questions by rote and
provided her ex-husband’s contact information with a request he not be
contacted unless evidence associated him with the break-in. She didn’t want to
risk drawing Paul’s attention if she hadn’t already caught it but at the same
time, she wasn’t a moron who would conceal such an important detail as a
The officer was efficient. David had provided surveillance
footage on a flash drive so after gathering her information, the police cleared
out. She planted her hands on her hips and sighed at the destroyed door.
“Reinforced glass the next time,” David said from the back
of the shop.
“Yeah,” she said. “I didn’t think yarn was something anybody
would really break and enter for.”
“What did you think someone would break in for?” David
Revenge. To prove a point. To take something away from her.
Was general paranoia enough of a reason? Unwilling to open any of those doors,
she shrugged. “The cash register?”
After one last look at the door, she turned. David leaned
against a bare space of wall, arms folded across his chest. With beard shadow
darkening his jaw and mussed hair, he looked like he’d come from bed about as
hastily as she had.
Jovanna swallowed. While the police were there, she’d been
overwhelmed by too many details and unable to process them. Now she had only
David to look at and her throat ran dry. His khaki cargoes sat low on narrow
hips and his gray t-shirt clung to a cut set of pectoral muscles. Above the
t-shirt’s neck, she caught a peek at another tattoo, this one ornate
and…aggressive, from the little she could see. With no more provocation than
that, her nipples tightened.
David’s focus dropped straight to her breasts and the thin
satin camisole she’d slept in.
Jovanna exhaled. She refused to behave like a shy girl and
forced her hands to remain in the pockets of her unzipped hoodie instead of
acting on the instinct to shrug deep into the concealing folds and hide
herself. If he wanted to look…well,
certainly wanted to look. Maybe
they could work out a trade.
“I suppose I should see the footage,” she finally said.
“It’s brief. Only seventy seconds or so.” He nudged open the
door to the tiny storage room she’d reserved for his equipment.
Jovanna crossed the sales floor and entered ahead of him,
David close on her heels. David just close, his chest against her back. Inside
the room, wrapped in the heat of electronics, she drew a ragged breath. The
space only afforded enough room for one person. Two if they were very familiar.
He reached around her to press a button and his scent
invaded her senses. Definitely just out of bed, without the strong scents of
soap or aftershave to disguise the earthy fragrance of his skin.
“This is right before he takes the hammer to the door. Watch
over here.” David tapped his index finger against the right corner of the
monitor above her head. Jovanna obediently followed his direction. Nothing
happened for two or three seconds but soon a shadow moved. She watched, sick in
the pit of her stomach, as the average-sized male silhouette raised his
sledgehammer and swung it into the glass. Even though she knew what was going
to happen, even though the security monitors had no sound, she jumped at the
instant of impact.
After that, everything played out frighteningly fast. David
pressed another button and the angle changed. She watched from above the
intruder’s head as he walked across the threshold, grinding glass into her
carpet. He didn’t hesitate over direction. As soon as he was inside, he veered
left and David changed the picture again.