Violet Bishop watched the glittering crystal ball drop over NYC from the solitude of her cozy home in Dearborn, Michigan. Wrapped up in a comfy gray velvet blanket, she lifted her water glass of champagne to the screen and sang along with the mass of humanity in Times Square.
“Five, four, three, two, one! Happy New Year, Adam!” He attacked her with sloppy kisses until she laughed and pushed him back. With a giggle she pulled long strands of her red hair out of Adam’s mouth. He tended to get a little carried away when he got excited. Wrapping her arms around him, she gave him a big hug and whispered in his ear, “I can’t think of anyone I’d rather spend New Years with.”
Adam’s long black tail thumped on the couch in a happy rhythm and he gave her another lick. What she said was true. Sad, but true. There was no one she wanted to spend New Years with more than her overweight black lab. Not after her ex had dumped her on the day before Christmas for his bleach-blonde, orange-spray-tanned nursing assistant.
In the neighborhood outside her house, the sound of fireworks and guns being shot off created loud bangs. Adam, all eighty-five pounds of him, tried to hide behind her on the couch.
“Some guard dog you are,” she sighed and threw the blanket over him. He gave a pitiful whine and buried his face into the mauve cushions of her sofa. “Yeah, yeah, I know. If a pizza or a box of doughnuts ever breaks into the house, you’ll take care of it.”
The last of the bottle of champagne dribbled into her cup and she realized she was swaying a bit. Glaring at all the happy couples sharing a kiss on TV, she stumbled across the small living room to her computer desk. A framed photo of her and the ex, Dr Kenny, stood on the shelf above her computer. Her best friend, Bethany, had scratched out his face and taped a picture of a Viagra bottle over his crotch. Violet kept the picture there to remind herself why she was about to do something that terrified her. Something that was so out of character she could scarcely believe she even considered it as a valid option for changing her life.
Moving her mouse, she blinked her eyes and tried to focus on the image on the screen. The picture that she had been staring at all night. Those innocent black-and-white words that at once frightened her and filled her with excitement.
The image of an online dating application filled out in full and ready to be sent off into cyberspace.
The sound of merry making faded into the background as she chewed on her thumb and looked at the screen. In her mind, her mother’s voice scolded her for biting her nails and she jerked her hand away with a guilty look over her shoulder. Even though she was twenty-eight years old, and had been out of her parents’ house for over nine years, she still couldn’t escape her mother’s disapproval. And boy howdy would her mother disapprove of this dating site.
On the surface, it was just like any other online dating service. She filled out a personality profile, submitted a picture of herself, which she didn’t want to do but did anyway because she didn’t want to disappoint anyone with her size-sixteen body, and gave her credit card information. What made it different was that the information she filled out was only a couple questions about her as a person. The rest of the survey was all about her favorite books.
Leaning back in her computer chair, Violet scanned the loaded shelves of one of her bookcases that flanked the computer desk. Titles as familiar as old friends met her eyes and she relaxed in their memories. Books never judged her, never told her she was fat, never called her fire-crotch because of her flaming-red Scottish hair. They allowed her to lead the lives of brave and daring women who didn’t take no for an answer and always had a snappy comeback.
Most of all, they allowed her to indulge in forbidden fantasies that made her hot and wet. Fantasies that good girls didn’t have. Things she had never dared to do, or even mention, with her small selection of previous boyfriends. The majority of these well-read books, which were the foundation for her most forbidden fantasies, revolved around BDSM and ménage a trois.
Shifting in her chair, she felt the familiar ache of desire fill her body. The night would no doubt end with her finding her release with her favorite vibrator in bed. Kenny had once complained that she was a nymphomaniac when she had tried to surprise him by wearing a black leather corset to bed and the remark had crushed her. It was hard enough to trust herself with a man as handsome as Dr. Kenny. To be told that her desires were sexually perverse shattered a bit of her hard-won self-co nfidence.
Bethany said that Kenny was the poster child for erectile dysfunction and would be happier with a nun.
Not giving herself time to think, Violet clicked the send button—and immediately tried to take it back. Too late. Her perversions were now flying across the World Wide Web under the not so clever user name of Blushing Violet. She chose that name, pre-champagne pity party, because of the frequency of her pale cheeks turning red with embarrassment.
And right now, they were hot enough to roast marshmallows on. In a few moments, her profile listing her red-haired, freckle-faced, size-sixteen body would be available for anyone in the world to see. She hadn’t bothered to try to lie about how she looked, the idea of meeting someone for the first time and facing their dissatisfaction made her stomach clench.
Her hand stole up, seemingly of its own accord, and stroked the shiny cover of her favorite art book sitting on the small file cabinet next to her computer. Solid black, with hints of pale pink in the letters, it contained an expensive collection of photos and artwork devoted to the BDSM lifestyle. Her mother would call it pornography, but she loved the beauty of the pictures with their raw emotion and sensuality.
And, truth be told, the images really turned her on. The bondage book, along with a few other select works of erotica, made it onto her favorite books list, in-between Jane Austen and Stephen King. Flipping through the slick pages, she mused about how much one can learn about a person from what they read. At least, she hoped that was the case. Too shy to even consider going to a BDSM club or meeting, she was forever doomed to a life of vanilla boredom if she didn’t find the courage to go after what she really wanted.
A Master to call her own.
The thought of having a strong and dominant man, worthy of her trust, waiting for her when she got home at night made more than her body ache. It made her heart ache. To have that kind of trust, the ability to fully give herself over to someone and know they loved her unconditionally was her dream. Every woman wanted to be worshiped, she just wanted to be tied up and spanked when it happened.
After grabbing the book, she staggered over to her favorite reading chair and slumped back into its forgiving comfort. Adam abandoned the safety of the couch and assumed his version of the reading position. Directly under her feet, getting petted by the brush of her toes as she rocked the chair.
Soft fur tickled over her feet as she rocked and flipped the pages. Her mind wandered over the image of a woman on her knees. This had always been one of her favorites, one of the images that called to her and filled her with longing.
The black-and-white picture showed a woman with long dark hair, naked and shackled by her hands and feet to a frame. A small smile curved her lips, and Violet read contentment and pleasure in its arch. Two men, dressed only in black leather pants, stood on either side of her. They were beyond handsome. The light cast shadows on their toned bodies, muscles frozen in time. She was unable to see their faces, but their sable hair and blond curls filled her fantasies. By careful planning, or chance, the camera caught them as their floggers crossed over the woman’s stomach and wrapped around her waist.
The throb in her pussy became a pounding need. Stepping over Adam, she carefully put the book back into its place on the shelf and turned off the lights. Bumping into the doorframe, she giggled at her lack of coordination and tried to ignore her mother’s voice nagging about the hangover she was sure to have tomorrow.
Four paces took her to the edge of her canopy bed and she crawled over the pearl-gray goose down comforter in the dim light through the window. Not bothering to turn on the bedside lamp, she didn’t think she could without breaking it at the moment, she tugged open the drawer next to her bed and brought out her favorite vibrator.
Kenny had hated her toys, and she had to hide them on the rare occasion he spent the night at her house. He was a doctor and lived in a condo close to the Detroit Children’s Hospital where he worked. The first, and only, time she had tried to introduce a toy into their play had resulted in him recoiling in disgust and refusing to touch her for the rest of the night. She should have dumped him, but her mother had been overjoyed at the thought of Violet being with a doctor. Compliments from her mother about anything were rare, and her mother had more than once warned her that if she didn’t lose some weight and do something about her appearance she would lose Dr. Kenny. What her mother had really meant was that she enjoyed bragging to the ladies at the Country Club that her daughter was dating a doctor.
Slamming the draw shut, she tried to do the same with her mind and focus on the present. She wasn’t going to let Kenny ruin another one of her orgasms.
Lying back in her bed, she scooted out of her panties and pulled the thick comforter over her body. Turning on the vibrator, she let the images of the book run through her mind.
She hung suspended from the frame, feeling the weight of her body pull on her arms. Goose bumps covered her exposed skin as the cool air brushed against her. Out of the darkness, they came to pleasure her.
One had sable-brown hair and a dark tan that spoke of blood warmer than European in his background. With sinfully long lashes, his dark eyes watched her with hunger. A bright-blue leather flogger whispered across his hand as he stood before her and slapped it acro ss his palm. Shirtless, he had the lean and toned body of a runner.
The golden curls of the man standing next to him glinted in the light. Heavy muscles covered his frame, the kind gained through hard work in the gym. A line of hair led down his navel and disappeared into his black leather pants. Rough and masculine, his face was saved from being too severe by the most kissable lips she had ever seen on a man. A sparkle of mischief lit his blue eyes and those lips curved into a knowing grin.
Already turned-on, she shivered in her bed as she imagined the kiss of the floggers on her nipples, followed by the heat of their tongues. The blond moved around to her back, licking down her spine and spreading her bottom with his big hands. In front of her, the sable-haired man gave her a long and drugging kiss.
She moaned into his mouth, arching back to meet the blond man’s touch as he licked at her anus with quick slips of the tongue. She had always found the idea of anal sex sinfully arousing, even if she had never had the nerve to suggest it to her boyfriends in real life. In her dreams, her fantasies, nothing was forbidden.
The dark haired man ran his hand down her breasts, over the rounded curve of her belly, and down to her wet pussy. Looking into her eyes, he slipped two fingers into her and began to stroke. Each outward drag of his fingers had him pressing just right on her G-spot, working her until she thrust her hips between him and the blond’s tongue.
In perfect rhythm, the men pleasured her. So good, those imagined strokes of the blond’s tongue had her crying out and thrashing in the shackles. Strong hands gripped her hips and held her, making her take the overwhelming pleasure, making her shudder and gasp.
In her imagination, the sable-haired man said the words that always brought her over the edge.
“I want you to come for me.”
It wasn’t a request, it was an order. And she was happy to fulfill it.
Abandoning herself to their strength, she twitched and jerked on their tongue and fingers, cradled against their bodies. The blond wrapped his arms around her from behind and whispered lovely things into her ears while the other man licked his fingers clean with a delighted smile.
Sighing into the quiet night, she tossed the vibrator aside to be cleaned later and curled into her bed. As her satisfied body fell asleep, she wished with all her heart to find someone to hold her close and love her.
* * * * *
Carlos Romano nursed his post-New Years hangover with a tall glass of water and a delivery of sliders from the diner downstairs. The front door of his sprawling penthouse apartment opened and he pushed the bag of greasy cheeseburgers across the low mahogany table. His best friend, Morgan Kane, stumbled into the room before reaching into the bag with a grunt. He pushed the sunglasses back up on his nose with a wince after they slid down and exposed his bloodshot eyes to the late afternoon light pouring through the floor-to- ceiling windows. It was four p.m. on the first day of the new year and they had just woken up a few hours ago.
“Can you believe those manipulative bitches?” Morgan took a big bite of his burger and brushed a blond curl off his forehead. At six-foot-three, two hundred and twenty-nine pounds, Morgan still looked like the linebacker he had been in high school and college. Going by appearances alone, no one would ever guess that he was one of the country’s leading digital artists with a flair for gorgeous and whimsical paintings.
Carlos took a long drink of water. “I’m glad we found out before we wasted any more time with them.”
“Or money,” Morgan said from around his food. Swallowing, he leaned back into the expensive black leather couch across from Carlos. Morgan lived two floors above Carlos’ apartment in the heart of downtown Detroit. Both their places faced Comerica Park and they often sat in front of the windows and watched the Detroit Tigers play in the summer.
“I’m just glad they didn’t see us standing on the other side of the door.” Carlos opened his laptop and started clicking through his email. “I can still hear Stacy complaining that the bracelet I got her for Christmas was only two carats of diamonds instead of three. What a bitch.”
Morgan shook his burger at him while he talked. “I can’t believe they were faking being into bondage just to get at our wallets. I told you Kelly was always trying to top from the bottom.”
Snorting, Carlos clicked open an email from one of their patrons. Carlos was a photographer and earned a decent living selling his prints. He made his real money selling the pictures that Morgan digitally altered with a deft and delicate touch. Morgan liked to joke that he had no real talent, he simply colored in the lines that Carlos drew with his photographs.
“April wants to know if we’ve started work on the exhibit we promised her at the Detroit Institute of Arts in a couple months.” Grimacing, he looked up and noted a similar sour expression on Morgan’s face.
“Let’s make her crap her Chanel suit and tell her the truth. We don’t have a fucking clue.”
“We had better get a clue, and fast. This is too big an opportunity to blow off.”
“I know,” Morgan muttered and tossed his sunglasses on the table. His blue eyes were red and tired looking. “I’m just so over thinking about it. That’s all we’ve done for the past three weeks. Besides, my brain is like pudding right now.”
Carlos grunted in agreement and moved on to the next email. As he read the sender’s name, he felt excited for the first time in what felt like forever. It was from the matchmaking site.
“I have a hit!” he said and pumped his fist into the air.
“No shit.” Morgan tossed the burger on the table and sat next to him on the couch. “Check my email.”
Carlos waved him away. “Go use the computer in the study.”
Not bothering to answer, Morgan sprinted into the other room and Carlos turned back to his email. A couple weeks ago he had joined an online dating site that had really appealed to him. This was after a particularly unfulfilling conversation with his ex-girlfriend, Stacy, which had led to bland sex just so he wouldn’t have to talk to her anymore. One of his friends from the BDSM scene had found her perfect submissive via this site, and he had high hopes.
It wasn’t just about sex, it was about personality and what made a person tick. He had talked it over with Morgan and Morgan liked the idea so much he decided to sign up as well. Carlos tried to be as absolutely honest as he could when he filled the form out. This was one place he could be truthful and not have to worry about any kind of judgment.
Excitement coursed through him and he had to laugh at himself. After all the women he had been with, after all the exotic things he had done, the act of opening an email made his cock hard. Taking a deep breath, he clicked the link of the first and only woman who had met his very exact specifications, and whose ideals he matched.
That breath came out in a silent puff of air as he looked at the picture on the screen. She bore a striking resemblance to his current obsession, actress Christina Hendricks from the TV show Mad Men. Only there was something a bit softer, more innocent about her. Long red hair fell in a mess of curls, framing an angelic beauty. Her eyes were a pale green so light they almost appeared silver. Wide and uncertain, her eyes seemed to look into his with a heartbreaking vulnerability. A smattering of freckles sprayed over her nose and cheeks, adding to the look of innocence. Full and pink, her lips were the only thing about her that lent a carnal air and he wondered what they would taste like.
A loud whoop from the study let him know that Morgan had good news as well. Carlos grinned and leaned closer to the screen, wishing the picture was bigger.
Smiling shyly at the camera, she kept her shoulders slightly rounded beneath her pale-blue sweater. His eyes wandered lower and he admired the full and heavy breasts she tried to hide with her loose clothes. It was obvious she didn’t know how beautiful she was.
With her image burned into his mind, he read the first line of her profile, Blushing Violet. Whispering the name out loud, he stared at her creamy skin and imagined the flood of pink heating her cheeks. His mind moved to more carnal desires and he wondered if her whole body flushed when she had an orgasm.
Morgan came striding into the room, interrupting his fantasies. “I have hit the jackpot,” he announced and nabbed Carlos’ water glass, stepping back before taking a deep gulp. “You will never believe the beauty that arrived in my email.”
Returning his smile, Carlos said, “And you, my friend, will never believe the amazing creature the gods have sent me.”
Grabbing his abandoned burger, Morgan studied his favorite photograph that hung on Carlos’ wall. It was the lush curve of a woman’s bottom, full and thick, with a whip coiled atop it like a sleeping snake. “She is delicious, all auburn hair and curves. And her eyes, man, I’ve never seen anything like them. She’s like Jessica Rabbit come to life, but softer.”
Staring at the picture of his Blushing Violet, Carlos nodded. “My lady has breasts that would make Jane Mansfield weep with envy. Even if they are hidden behind a rather dull sweater.”
“Mine too.” Morgan vaulted over the back of the couch and Carlos winced as he landed. “First thing I’m going to do is take her shopping and show her how beautiful she is.” He sighed happily and ate the last bite of his burger. “I love spoiling my women.”
Carlos eagerly read her profile. “Oh shit, you are not going to believe this.”
“What?” Morgan already had his iPhone out and was busy typing away.
“She loves our books.” His heart gave another thud as he read some of her other favorite erotic novels. “Oh my. I do believe my little Blushing Violet is a closet submissive.”
Morgan’s fingers froze. “What did you call her?”
“Not that. Did you just say Blushing Violet?”
“Yeah.” Watching Morgan tip his head back against the couch and groan, Carlos became worried. “What? Do you know her?”
“Yeah.” Morgan looked up and blew a breath out of his nose. “I just got her profile sent to me too.”
“What?” Carlos scooted up on the couch and held the computer closer, as if it was the woman in question. “That’s not possible.”
“Oh yeah. Two guys who both love curvy redheads, are into the BDSM lifestyle, and read the same books would never be attracted to the same woman.” Morgan narrowed his eyes. “By the way, she’s mine. Go find yourself another auburn-haired goddess.”
Carlos bared his teeth at him. “You’re high if you think I’m going to give you first dibs on her. Besides, I opened my email first.”
“That doesn’t mean anything. Besides, I need her more.”
“How the hell do you figure that? It’s my artwork that she loves.”
“Hey, I’m in that book too. It’s my artwork that she loves.”
Carlos rubbed his eyes until he saw bright spots. “Look,” he growled. “I’m not going to fight over this with you. We’ll run a simple test and let her decide.”
“How do you figure that?” Morgan gave him a suspicious look. Both men were very competitive and often spent hours playing various games to prove who was the best. Well, this was a prize Carlos had no intention of losing.
“We’ll both send her an email. Introduce ourselves, etc. But, at the end of the email, I’ll include our favorite picture from that book and ask her to send us her favorite back. If she sends one of mine, I get her. If she sends one of yours, you get her.”
“What if she picks someone else’s?”
“Then we flip a coin.”
Morgan thought this over. “It sounds fair, but I have the cognitive abilities of a chipmunk right now.” He sighed and stuck out his hand. “I guess that since we’ve been best friends since high school I can trust you to flip fair.”
Carlos grinned and shook his hand. “Buddy, if I could figure out how to rig a flip, I would.”