Psychologist Kai Ferguson has had his eye on Kori Williamson for a long time. His assistant is everything he’s ever wanted in a partner—smart, caring, witty, and a bit of a masochist. More than a little, actually, but that’s the problem. Kori won’t admit her own desires. She’s afraid of him and what he has to offer. Luckily for her, helping patients face their fears is one of his specialties.
Kori knows she wants Kai. Her boss is the most amazing man she’s ever met. She’s also smart enough to stay away from him. Having been down this road before, she knows it only leads to heartache. She’s just found a place where she can belong. Another failed relationship is the last thing she needs. It’s better to guard her heart and let Kai think she’s frightened of his dark, dominant nature.
When Kai is recruited for an operation with McKay-Taggart, everything is turned upside down. Kai’s brother, international superstar Jared Johns, is in town and Kai must juggle his family issues along with a desperate hunt for a serial killer. The investigation throws Kori and Kai together, and they quickly discover the chemistry between them is undeniable. But even if their newfound love can survive his secrets and her lies, it may not be enough to save them both from a killer’s twisted obsession.
Kori ran back to her room and gave serious consideration to locking the door behind her. She could live here now. Sarah could stuff protein bars under the door and she could live off tap water. This could be her home for many years. As long as it took for that wicked look to get out of Kai’s eyes.
Or he would find a way inside anyway and then her ass was grass because that man looked serious.
She should have told him about the tires. She’d made that promise a long time before. In her attempts to avoid him the previous evening she’d decided that calling and telling him her car had been viciously attacked was counter productive to the whole point of avoiding him. Now with a whole night’s wisdom behind her, she could see that it might have been a mistake.
Locking him out of her room would probably be another mistake.
She turned on him. Maybe she could get out of this. “Hey, you know in all the craziness of last night I totally forgot to mention that my tires got messed up. Maybe that was a manufacturer defect or something. It’s hard to tell in the dark.”
He stood in the doorway to her bedroom. Past him, she could still hear a lot of talking since it seemed her normally quiet house had been invaded. It didn’t matter. They could talk all they liked because all Kori could see or really hear was Kai. “Are you certain that’s the tactic you want to take with me?”
“Nope. I’m not certain at all.” She wasn’t certain of anything. When she’d woken and realized he wasn’t still in bed with her, she’d been disappointed. She’d reached out and his side of the bed had been cold, and for a second she’d felt tears cloud her eyes. Then she’d decided it was a good thing. He’d done what she wanted him to do. He’d snuck out and avoided embarrassing morning-after stuff. Except he hadn’t. Apparently he’d invited friends over to witness the embarrassing morning-after stuff. “What are you still doing here?”
He crossed his arms over his chest. “What am I still doing here? I was making you and your friends some breakfast. I was attempting to be a good…houseguest.”
She was almost certain houseguest wasn’t what he’d meant to say. What other words would he have used? Boyfriend? Dom? Master? Every single one of them got her heart racing. Was she thinking of trying with Kai? Could her heart handle that? “How did everyone else get here?”
“My brother seems to be stalking me and Case came over because he was worried about you. Apparently he knew about someone vandalizing your car.”
That was news to her. “He did? I didn’t tell him.”
“Who did you tell?” The question came out with an edge of irritation.
“Sarah and Mia. I decided to wait until this morning to call someone because it was late last night.” And I’d been trying to avoid you only to end up having the best sleep of my life because I was wrapped around you. Yeah, she wasn’t going to say that.
“How about the police? Were you going to call them? If you’re going to make an insurance claim, you’ll need a police report. Or are you going to claim that your tires died of natural causes?”
She held her hands up, attempting to placate him. Why did her room seem so much smaller when he was in it? It was a good-sized room, but Kai took up all the space. “You’re right. I should have called last night, but I was tired and I wanted to get home and get in bed.”
His gorgeous eyes narrowed. “You weren’t in bed. You were sitting up with your friends drinking wine. Try again.”
“Kai, what’s going on here? It’s a couple of tires.”
“You were supposed to call me if you got in trouble.”
“I wasn’t really in…” What was she doing? Before yesterday, she would never have lied to Kai. Not right to his face. “I was nervous about seeing you after the scene.”
“Finally some honesty. I’ll handle it. I’ll deal with the police and get you what you need for your insurance. The boys from McKay-Taggart will set up some discreet surveillance cameras around our parking lot.”
There was a reason they didn’t have that. “I thought you didn’t want the patients to feel like they were walking into a secure zone.”
Some of them had serious issues with people watching them. They dealt with a lot of PTSD patients.
“I will deal with them. Your safety is more important. Now turn around, pull your pants down, and place your palms flat on the bed. It’s a count of thirty.”
She could actually feel her womb spasm. “What?”
Nothing about his face or stance told he was anything but dead serious. “This was a condition of your employment. It has been from the beginning.”
If she wasn’t careful her damn jaw was going to hit the floor. “I remember the conditions of my employment. Are you saying if I’d been late and hadn’t called, you would have spanked me?”
“I suppose we should be happy you’re a very prompt girl. And you tend to be good about calling. We’ll never know. What I do know is that after last night, I will definitely spank you and you’ll enjoy it. You might start showing up late just so you can walk into my office and present that juicy ass to me.” He moved in front of her, staring down at her with heat in his eyes. “I want you to think before you tell me no. I want you to question which side of the Kori I know is going to win this battle. Is it the funny, happy, brave Kori who never stands down from a challenge, or the one who’s denied herself for years because some idiot asshole Dom made her feel small. I won’t ever make you feel small. My job in life will be to lift you up, to help you be strong.”
His words cut through her. “What are you saying, Kai? Is this about you being my boss or acting as my play partner?”
She thought they’d worked it out last night.
His hands cupped her cheeks, forcing her to look up at him. “I’m acting as your Dom, Kori, and you know it. You can pretend all you like. You can call it whatever you want to, but you know how this ends. This ends with you and me.”
NY Times and USA Today bestselling author Lexi Blake lives in North Texas with her husband, three kids, and the laziest rescue dog in the world. She began writing at a young age, concentrating on plays and journalism. It wasn't until she started writing romance and urban fantasy that she found the stories of her heart. She likes to find humor in the strangest places and believes in happy endings no matter how odd the couple, threesome, or foursome may seem.