He is so handsome and sweet that I can’t help being drawn to Mickey. After a lifetime of being the outcast with my stepfather and his children, I just want to be loved. He draws me in like a moth to a flame. He’s everything I want…until I wake tied to his bed and realize I’m an instrument of revenge. He has good reason to hate my stepfather, and he has wicked things planned for me…
This starts with a dark tone, but it soon lightens up. There are still serious moments, but this isn’t a dark erotic romance, and there are no intense themes, such as kidnapping, BDSM, or coercion.
She smiled at me. It was a startling sight, not only because it brightened her features and lit up her sparkling green eyes, but also because from what I knew of her family, I should have been beneath her notice. I couldn’t help allowing a small smile in response, and I was surprised it wasn’t entirely faked. There was something about Gabriella Chastain’s smile that made it difficult not to reciprocate.
Ruthlessly, I squashed that response and turned away from her for a moment, reminding myself why I was here. I had flown in to the airport to arrange a connection so she and I would be on the same plane as she headed home to the Chastain family from her university, where she had just graduated.
I had arranged it all so neatly, and I wasn’t about to blow it on one smile from her. Forcing my expression back to one of polite neutrality, I looked back, but she was gone. She had moved from her seat to do something else, probably visit the ladies’ room. The silly young woman had left her suitcase right where she’d been sitting, and anyone could steal it.
I shook my head at her laxness, reminding myself she had been attending a university in Switzerland for the last four years, and I was sure it was a different environment there than it was in the United States. Still, I couldn’t help keeping an eye on her bag for her until I saw her slipping from the restroom a moment later. I couldn’t resist the urge to watch her get closer, her curves making my mouth water and my cock twitch. At least that part of my plan wouldn’t be any problem. I just had to find a way to get her alone.
She had barely returned to her seat when they called for boarding. Once again, she met my gaze and smiled at me before gathering up her bag and her purse to walk toward the gate. I waited another moment, physically willing away the erection trying to form from her smile. What the fuck was wrong with me? I knew what kind of people the Chastains were. I had seen the evidence of their cruelty with my own eyes, and I’d been living with the aftermath for six years. I was finally in a position to do something about it, to get some revenge, and here I was reacting like a horny teenager to a smile.
Shaking my head with disgust at my actions, I got up and went to join the line, ending up a few spaces behind her, with a boisterous family between us. It allowed me a chance to observe from a distance without getting too close.
She was pretty, which seemed like a tepid word. She had a generous ass and an hourglass frame, with moderately sized breasts that would fit nicely into a man’s hands. Flowing black hair, silky and straight, touched the curve of her ass, and I could imagine running my fingers through it, stroking it away from her face as I bent to kiss her creamy, pale skin.
I forced myself to imagine what I actually had planned for her, picturing my dark hand in that black hair, dragging it back as she whimpered in protest. At least that image banished my hard-on, though I felt a stirring of doubt about actually carrying through with my plan for the first time since formulating it.
No, dammit, I wasn’t going to allow an unwanted wave of conscience to deter me from the path. Chastain deserved everything I could throw at him, and if harming his daughter was one way to do it, I’d just have to suck it up and ignore my own moral compass for the night.
When we boarded the plane, I was surprised to find myself seated beside Gabriella. Well, not quite beside. There was a seat between us, and since the flight was only half-filled, it seemed obvious it would remain free. She must have reached the same conclusion, because she put her purse there and used both armrests with an air of someone stretching out to get comfortable.
I did the same, setting my laptop bag on the seat beside her purse, my gaze unwillingly drawn to the rounded mounds pressing against the white short-sleeved sweater she wore, which would be far too hot for New York. I wondered what she tasted like, and if her nipples would be soft pink, rosy red, or even a brown shade. I had been with a couple of white girls in the past, and one of them had brown areolas. That had surprised me, since I’d thought only black girls had those until that experience.
My first white girl had been much more typical, with her rosy pink areolas and slightly darker nipples. I couldn’t remember her name now, which made me feel guilty, but I had been fifteen at the time, and she had been sixteen.
Rowena. The name suddenly popped into my head as I remembered the circumstances surrounding our hookup. I had been a novelty to her, just a bet between her and her girlfriends that she couldn’t get some black cock. She’d had me one time and had been done with me. I’d had a little bit of an infatuation for her before that night together, but it quickly died when I’d realized what a bitch she was.
Kind of like the girl sitting beside me. Oh, she seemed polite enough, but I knew the evil festering in the Chastain home, and there was no way she could have escaped it. No doubt, she was just as racist and heartless as the rest of them.
Damned if she didn’t seem to want to disprove that assumption as she started talking to me. At first, I answered her in monosyllables, wanting to discourage myself from getting to know her. It could only make my plan more difficult. However, she persisted, chipping away at my walls a word at a time until we were finally engaged in a comfortable conversation about musical theater of all things.
The flight passed quickly, though it was in reality about three hours long. She never asked what I was doing on the plane, or why I was headed to New York, the same as her. I would’ve kept it simple and said business had she inquired. Though I already knew the answer, I did ask her as the plane started circling JFK. “You never did say why you’re here? Tourism?”
She shook her head. “Do I look like a tourist?”
In that fluffy white sweater, with an air of innocence that was at odds with the city, yeah, she looked like a tourist. I just shrugged.
“I live here.” Her smile widened, and her green eyes sparkled. “I’m just excited to be home. My stepfather sent me far, far away for university, just to get me out of his hair.” Gabriella laughed then, a fleeting sound that set my brain whirling and my cock twitching. “That suited me just fine though, other than being away from the city. It was a relief to get away from Wayne for four years. Six, I guess, counting boarding school.”
I frowned, not liking this bit of information. I’d thought she would be a daddy’s girl, which would make what I had planned that much worse. Here she was calling him Wayne and referring to him as her stepfather, though according to my research, he had married her mother when she was just six years old. He had even adopted her, so I had assumed they were a close-knit family. A stirring of doubt crept over me, and I wondered if I should just call off the whole thing.
Before I could, she seemed to make the decision for me. “It’s been a while since I’ve been back in the city, and none of my friends know I’m coming. We’ve kind of lost touch, and I’m sure Wayne won’t be waiting for me at the airport. My mom died six years ago, so she certainly won’t be there. If you’re free tonight, maybe we could have dinner together?”
My eyes widened with surprise at the invitation, and I hesitated for a moment, evaluating how this changed things. Never in a million years had I expected the girl to offer herself up to me practically on a silver platter. She was just talking about dinner, but it would make getting her alone so much easier. I nodded before her expression could turn to one of disappointment, as I saw the edges of her smile start to dissolve. “That sounds lovely, Gabriella. Thank you.”
She giggled, an honest-to-goodness giggle that made her sound and seem younger than twenty-two. It sent a sharp pang through my chest, once again making me question the task I had set for myself. Could I go through with it?
A brief flash of how my sister had looked six years ago, with her bruised face, hardened my resolve. I could do this for Annika. It might be the only justice she ever got.
I didn’t know how much older than me Mickey was, but I would guess maybe five to ten years. He certainly wasn’t a college boy, but that was one of the things I found appealing about him. The dull and boring university where Wayne had stuck me had been coed, but none of the boys there had interested me.
I hadn’t seemed to interest them much either, and perhaps it was because I was always buried in a book or focused on my studies. Maybe it was just my ample curves, though I had seen classmates with a similar build enjoy popularity with the boys. I suspected it was simply me. I wasn’t exactly shy, but I was reserved in certain circumstances. Normally, I was uncomfortable with strangers, though something about Mickey put me at ease.
Mickey. It was such an incongruous name for the tall, black man sitting across from me as we ate dinner and conversed about meaningless subjects. His broad shoulders and lean waist suggested the build of an athlete, while “Mickey” made me think of the animated mouse. It was a silly thought, but I couldn’t escape the idea that Mickey just didn’t suit him.
Well, we couldn’t help what we’re named. After all, Gabriella was a graceful and beautiful name, the kind you would expect to find on a lithe supermodel swanning her way down the catwalk, or perhaps a European princess. Certainly not on a bookish, chubby, slightly awkward young woman like me. It was a name I would probably never grow into, but the various diminutives didn’t suit me either.
I wasn’t a Gabby, nor was I a Bree, or even an Ella. Perhaps Ella would have been closest if I tacked on the Cinder prefix, but not because I had been forced into a life of drudgery and housework. It was only somewhat accurate just because my stepfather disliked me and excluded me from the family whenever possible. That was about the only thing I had in common was Cinderella.
At least he hadn’t forced me into to a life of deprivation or servitude. That would have been contrary to his image, and his voters wouldn’t like that. No, in public, Wayne treated me just as well as he treated his own two children, Zachary and Isabel. It was only in the privacy of our home—his home, because it didn’t feel like mine and never had—that he allowed his contempt to show and made it clear from the time I was a little girl that I wasn’t as good as his own children.
With a small sigh, I pushed aside the brooding thoughts, knowing nothing would change at this point in time. I was long past the stage where I wanted a relationship with my stepfather or his awful children, and I would be happy to cut all ties with them and planned to do so as soon as I found a job.
I knew my mother had left me some money, but I also knew Wayne was in charge of the trust, so the odds of me ever seeing it seemed pretty slim. Unfortunately, Sophie had been enamored with Wayne until the day she’d died, so she never would have believed he would deny me my trust fund or treat me deplorably. In front of my mother, Wayne had always been polite and sometimes affectionate, but he and I had both known it was a farce.
“What is it that you do, Mickey?” I realized I hadn’t even asked him that.
He hesitated, as though deciding how to answer. Finally, he said, “I’m in business.”
That could encompass anything from an independently owned T-shirt company to working for one of the horrible corporations like Magenta. I nodded, hoping he would enlighten me further, but he made no attempt to do so.
After a moment, I let the subject lapse in favor of focusing on the crème brûlée that had just been delivered to the table. I broke the crust with my spoon and took a big bite, closing my eyes and moaning as it melted on my tongue. I loved dessert, as my hips probably showed to the world. Life was too short to skip the occasional indulgence, and crème brûlée was one of my favorites.
Followed by dark chocolate. My eyes opened at the thought, and I found Mickey staring at me with a hungry expression. Deliberately, I licked my lips, ostensibly to remove any trace of the dessert, but in reality because I wanted to see the way his eyes widened, the shining depths of warm brown making me shiver in anticipation. My libido, which had been mostly in stasis for the past six years, seemed to spring to life under the force of that look. It spoke volumes, and I was certain my eyes were replying an affirmative.