Working at Rogue Ink is a dream job for Cruella, especially being around the hunky co-owner, Ray. Even though the money isn’t great, the eye candy and Ray’s caring heart make it all worthwhile. When Cruella risks rejection by inviting Ray to be their partner for a shibari class at Kiss of Leather, they’re thrilled when Ray accepts.
Cruella’s invitation both excites and terrifies Ray. He wants Cruella, but does he also want to become more kink aware? Still, he could kick himself for not making a move yet on the sweet and beautiful Cruella, so maybe this is his chance. His protective instincts have gotten him into serious trouble before, so he’ll be sure not to make the same mistake with Cruella. They’ve made it clear they can take care of themself.
Cruella fears that Ray won’t accept their genderqueer identity and Ray aches to be the strong man Cruella needs. However, when Cruella’s dark past intrudes on their blissful present—Ray’s definition of strength might turn out to be harsher than Cruella is willing to accept.
Cruella slid each delectable garment along the new arrivals rail in the Rags & Rhinestones vintage clothing store, almost drooling over the spectacular collection of goodies that Heath had picked up at an estate sale over the weekend. Their rather limited clothing allowance of the past couple months had gone to purchase rope for the shibari class. They sighed. It would be so worth it if Ray would let them tie him up in bed.
It certainly seemed to turn him on the other night when I suggested it.
If they were being honest, the idea had them rather hot too. When they had originally signed up for the class, the eroticism of the art hadn’t been the strongest attraction to learning shibari. At least not in terms of tying up a partner for sex. Their thought process had been more along the lines of the visual appeal, not necessarily using it as a prelude to, or as part of, making love.
They stepped behind a round rack to conceal their arousal as their mind wandered to Saturday morning when Ray had kneeled before them in the shower and sucked them to completion. While they’d never viewed themselves as someone who wanted to dominate a partner, they’d begun to consider that the desire to do so had been there all along but hadn’t been allowed to flourish.
That sure as hell was the case with Tucker.
Ray on his knees, Ray tied up and at their mercy, Ray beneath them as they fucked him into the mattress—all those scenarios had been playing on a loop in their head ever since they’d last seen him. They knew one thing for sure, when they got together with Ray that night to finally work on their class project, they were going to get a little rope action in bed if nothing else.
“Hey, Cruella. See anything you like?”
Cruella glanced up at the shop owner, Heath. “Hi, hon. Trust me, I see plenty I like.” Cruella let out another mournful sigh. “But I’m broke this month.”
Heath tsked, shaking his head. “I keep telling you, come work for me. You have a better sense of style than anyone who’s ever worked here, and you’d get an employee discount.”
Cruella barked out a laugh. “And never come home with a paycheck. No, they pay me well at Rogue, at least a couple more bucks an hour then I would get for that type of job. Especially since I’m not a manager or anything.”
“I’ll match what they’re giving you right now, with an eye toward making you a manager here eventually.”
Cruella blinked repeatedly as they stared at the tall, blond-haired cutie they’d come to know over the past few years of being a regular at the shop. Heath had teased them more than once about coming to work for him, but had never made such a serious offer. Cruella hadn’t been kidding, though, about never coming home with a paycheck. The killer clothes, shoes and handbags that regularly filled the shop to the brim would suck the cash right out of their pocket. Their buyer resistance was next to non-existent.
“You can’t be serious, hon. Why would you do that? And why do you need a manager?”
Heath draped an elbow over the rail and leaned against the rack. “So fucking serious, doll, you have no idea. Look, to begin with, most of the staff who come through here are either clueless and couldn’t give two shits about fashion or chose this job by wandering down the street until they spotted it and thought, ‘gee, this looks like a great place to steal from.’ I can’t even with these losers anymore.” Heath glanced around the shop, the few other customers in the large, rectangular space seemingly lost in their own perusing. He leaned in closer. “I love this shop. I’m flippin’ proud of what I built up over the past five years. But damn, honey. I haven’t had a social life since I turned twenty-two.” Heath huffed. “And I was only out and proud for two years before that, so this girl hasn’t had nearly as much fun as she should’ve by now.”
Cruella fingered the nineteen-twenties mauve velvet coat that they could totally picture themselves in and considered Heath’s words. “Wow, I guess I never thought about how much work it must take to run this place on your own. Although, the owners of Rogue seem to work nonstop. But at least there’s three of them to handle the responsibility.”
Heath furrowed his brow. “Is that little sweetheart who was kidnapped still doing okay?”
After the dust had settled from the horrible events surrounding Liam’s kidnapping, Cruella had been able to work out that Heath’s shop was where Neal had called the police from.
“He’s doing fine. I think in his case having the responsibility of a new business has done wonders at keeping him distracted and dwelling on what happened.” Cruella chuckled. “Of course, his fiancé keeps him more than distracted enough anyway.”
Heath smiled. “That’s good to hear.” Heath glanced over his shoulder as someone approached the register. “Listen, you think about what I said.” He squeezed Cruella’s arm. “I meant every word.”
Cruella let their finger run down the beaded edging of the coat until they found the price tag. They sucked in a sharp breath as they absorbed the amount of the vintage item. Two hundred and twenty-five dollars. They whimpered. I wonder how much of a discount?
Author Morticia Knight spends most of her nights writing about men loving men forever after. If there happens to be some friendly bondage or floggings involved, she doesn’t begrudge her characters whatever their filthy little hearts desire. Even though she’s been crafting her naughty tales for more years than she’d like to share—her adventures as a published author began in 2011. Since then, she’s been fortunate enough to have several books on bestseller lists along with titles receiving recognition in the Rainbow Book Awards, Divine Magazine and Love Romance Café.
Once upon a time she was the lead singer in an indie rock band that toured the West Coast and charted on U.S. college radio. She currently resides on the North Oregon coast and when she’s not fantasizing about hot men, she takes walks along the ocean and annoys the local Karaoke bar patrons.