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When we were finished, Roth cleaned up for us both and then took my hand. “Ready to go?” I nodded. “Do you need anything? A purse?”

  I shrugged. “Not really. ”

  Roth seemed surprised at this. “All right, then. Let’s go. ” He brought me to the door to his private quarters, held his finger to the plate, and then shoved the door open.

  Beyond was a wide hallway with high ceilings, thick cream carpet, and dark wood-paneled walls, which were lined with black-and-white photographs. I paused to examine the photos. They were amazing, artistic, vividly focused. The subjects ranged from portraits to landscapes, most of them taken in Asia. There was a photo of an old Chinese woman, a scarf covering her head, wisps of gray hair sticking out around her ears, her toothless mouth grinning, eyes crinkled. There was a tall, curved-roof pagoda, a rice paddy, an ox with shaggy fur and baleful eyes, and then several more portraits. It wasn’t until I realized that Roth was watching me examine the photos with a blank expression that I thought to look at the bottom right corner. There, written in white marker or pen, was the same scribbled “VR” signature from the checks.

  “You took these?” I asked.

  He nodded. “A hobby, you could say. Something I haven’t had much time for lately, much to my regret. ”

  “They’re amazing,” I told him, sincerely impressed. “That first one, the old woman, it’s like something you’d see in National Geographic. It’s really good, Roth. ”

  He smiled at me. “Thank you, Kyrie. ” He took my hand and pulled me forward, and I followed him, although there were several more photographs I wanted to see.

  Later, perhaps. If I was lucky. We passed a few open doorways, one leading to a half-bath, another to what looked like a security room, monitors showing security camera views of the foyer, the kitchens, the library, the main garage, two elevators, another garage, and the roof. No surveillance of my rooms, though, but there were blacked-out monitors, so it was hard to say.

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  Roth followed my gaze to the security room. “There are no cameras in your quarters, I promise you. You have your privacy there. ”

  I only shrugged. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he watched me on a camera while I slept, and I wondered at myself, at the fact that I wouldn’t have been too pissed off had there been cameras in my rooms. I mean, if he’d watched me pee, that would be a bit weird, but I didn’t expect it from him. He was security-paranoid, not creepy.

  Another door showed a large office, the same thick cream carpeting, a huge dark desk with a massive iMac, and a floor-to-ceiling wall of windows. There was an exercise room, a hallway dead-ending at a doorway and, opposite that, a pair of French doors, beyond which was Roth’s room. I caught a glimpse of it in passing, and realized it was probably the most impressive room in the house. It was a corner room, so two entire walls were glass, with a balcony at the apex of the corner. The bed, from what I saw, was huge, dark, and built into a platform. I didn’t see much more than that before Roth guided me down the dead-end hallway to the door.

  “I’ll give you a tour of my rooms later,” Roth told me, his voice buzzing in my ear.

  I turned, halfway out the door. “Promise?”

  His eyes narrowed, flicked down to my cle**age and back up. “Yes, Kyrie. You will become very well-acquainted with my bedroom. ”

  I shivered, felt my ni**les harden. “Sailing can wait, don’t you think?”

  Roth’s grin was predatory. “Eager suddenly, are you?” His hand curled around my waist, and he jerked me against him. My breath left me in a whoosh. I was assaulted by the familiar spicy scent of his cologne, the hard breadth of his chest. “Are you tempting me? Trying to get control of this situation?”

  “Eager…. ” I breathed, barely able to stutter out the word.

  His eyes were intense, pale hot blue, his hand splayed on my waist and the swell of my ass, crushing me to him. “Eager, hmmm?”

  “Yes,” I answered, looking up at him, my eyes wide, my breath shallow and short.

  His other hand brushed my hair away from my eyes, then slid down my back. Found the zipper of my dress. “I think you’re trying to prove something. ”

  “I’m not. ”

  “The power of your seductive beauty is undeniable, Kyrie. ” His fingers drew the zipper down, the rough pad of his fingertip tracing up my now-bare spine. “You make me lose control when I start touching you. When you put your hands on me, I forget myself. ” He brushed the sleeves off, and the dress billowed to the floor, pooled around my feet. “But don’t think you can control me that way, Kyrie. I let you have your moment this morning. It had been a long time since I’d felt a woman’s touch. I’d been saving myself for you. But don’t think you can manipulate me with your body. ”

  “I wasn’t—”

  “Tell me the truth, Kyrie. ”

  I swallowed. “Maybe I was, just…trying to see what effect I had on you. That’s all. Not control, just…assessing. ” The heat in his eyes, the thinly veiled anger frightened me. He wouldn’t hurt me, but what would he do?

  “Assessing. ” He flicked open my bra, pulled it off. Set it aside. Hooked a finger in the elastic of my panties at my hip, tugged them down around my thighs. “Off. I want you naked. ”

  I stepped out of them, stood before him totally naked. Breathless, waiting. He shut the door, pivoted behind me, and pushed me across the hallway and into his room. Positioned in the middle of the room, I was bathed in a square of brilliant midmorning sunlight. I stood still, back straight, forcing my breathing to be even, to seem confident, unafraid.

  “So now you’re just eager?” Roth moved around behind me, not touching, but close. So close. Too close, yet too far, too clothed. “Who is in control, Kyrie?”

  I felt rebellion surge up in my gut. I clenched my teeth together. I wasn’t going to play this game. Not this one.

  “Seeking punishment, are you?” His voice rumbled in my ear. “I’ll ask once more. Who is control? Who controls you, Kyrie? Answer me. ”

  You. That was the answer. I knew it. He knew it. But I refused to say it. Rebellion, or curiosity? Both, maybe. Equal parts defiance and desire.

  “Not going to respond?” I heard a smile in his voice. “I was kind of hoping you’d refuse. ”

  His foot slid between mine and knocked at my feet so I was suddenly and unwillingly standing with my feet shoulder-width apart. Another nudge, and my stance widened a bit more. Unnatural, uncomfortable, vulnerable. I bit my lip and forced myself to remain calm. I’d asked for this, after all.

  “At any time, answer my question, and we’ll go sailing. That really was my intention, you know. But you’ve sidetracked us. ” He slid his hand over my hip, curled his palm over my belly, pulled my ass against his crotch so I felt his erection. “You’re not getting what you wanted, you know. I’m not going to alter my plans. Right now I’m going to torture you, just a bit. Nothing painful, mind you. Just a bit of…teasing. ”

  He pulled away, took a handful of my hair, gripping at my nape, and shoved my head down so I was bent over double.

  “Hands on your knees. ” I needed to brace myself for balance, so I had no choice but to do as he’d told me. “Now, I’ll ask you again, Kyrie. Who is in control?”

  I remained silent.

  He laughed, and trailed a finger down the knobs of my spine, between the globes of my bu**ocks, over the bud of muscle. He hesitated there. “No answer?” His fingertip touched me, and I flinched, tensed. “I wonder if I could make you come, just by touching you here? Let’s find out, shall we?”

  A pause, and I heard him spit. Wetness touched me; the pressure increased slightly. I felt the knot give just a bit, and his lubricated fingertip slid in. I bit back a gasp, forced my hips to remain still. He would get no help from me, not this time. Roth’s fingertip wiggled, and I felt a tension in my core, heat building. I squeezed my eyes shut, bit my lip, tried to hold back the thrill of pl