Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Love is what makes us human

One of the wonderful things about people is our capacity for love. 31 Flavors is story that explores the depths and heights of where love can lead us. Sometimes love is unconventional; sometimes though we love our partners, life throws us a curve ball and that is when the relationship is truly put to the test. How far would your partner go if you asked them to tie you up and spank you?

31 Flavors is heavily based on a true story but it is fiction. The ending is a little more manufactured than happened in real life. The angst and the agonies happened, but more as a series of heart-to-heart talks between Sid and Nick. Talking is so important when you want to introduce BDSM to a relationship. Sid did fear that Nick would leave her if she asked too much.

But when two people have stuck with each other for five years, and are still in love despite their sex life being scraped from the bottom of the Pit of Doom, the only way left…is up.

We have a website devoted to 31 Flavors if you want to explore some of the hows and whys of our writing process. Leia Shaw was a wonderful writing partner, and even if we both like throwing insults, we’re also pretty darn silly.


Sid forgot to take notes on the sex scenes :) However many of them are based on reality - the ‘shibari’, the big ‘O’, the ‘icy nipples’ scene, the first time they tried BDSM, and so on.

Some early heart-felt reader comments:

Trish Dechant from Goodreads.

“31 Flavors is a short, funny, sexy read that I absolutely adored. The fact that Sidney and Nick have problems, struggle through them, and have fun during sex is just the cherry on top of my sundae. It also shows the reader that no one else has the right to label your sex life, tell you that you're 'doing it wrong', or that you aren't a true Dom/sub. It is how you and your lover define it--the rest doesn't matter.”


"I just finished 31 flavors and I just wanted to say that I loved it. In a way it was kind of hard for me to read because it so closely mirrors what the last year of my life has been like. I cried my eyes out when she was drunk and said she was sorry that she was so broken. I can't tell you how many times I have felt like that. The anxiety, tears, and struggle in the book was balanced with wonderful humor and such love. It was fabulous! Thank you both for writing such a great story. :)"

There are sample chapters of 31 Flavors on both my and Leia’s website as well as on the 31 Flavors weebly site, mentioned above.

31 Flavors:

There are some things in life you have to try before you know how they will affect you.

After 5 years of awful sex, I was ready. Bondage and spanking had always featured in my fantasies, and one day, I convinced my husband to try them. That day was a turning point.

Ice cream comes in many flavors and that’s us too -- not vanilla, maybe not Rocky Road either. We can be a combination or make up our own and no one has the right to judge us.

But there will always be one question that tears at my soul: Will my husband, Nick, ever be happy with what I crave?

The Beginning - Excerpt 1

“Come here.”

His voice, low and full of authority, slides through me like a cold shiver. My breath hitches as I glide silently over our office carpet.

“On your knees.”

I immediately drop. Acutely conscious of my nudity, I sit with my ass resting on my heels and my hands on the curve of my upper thighs.

“Do you know why you are being punished?”

A lump of anticipation lodges in my throat. I keep my eyes downcast and nod.

“Good. Now, I’m going to tie you to the desk, spank you and stuff you with the vibrator. And you’re not to come without my permission, do you understand?”

My stomach lurches and I’m soaked with arousal. I can’t trust my voice so I nod again.

“Answer me.”

I clear my throat and croak a shaky, “Y-yes, sir.”

“Stand up and bend over the desk.”

My knees tremble. I can barely hold my weight as I walk to the desk. A thin rope dangles from his hands. I dare to look in his eyes. They remain impassive, foreboding. I’m a prisoner in the shadow of my executioner. Can I do this?

His brows raise a fraction of an inch. “Go on.”

I steel myself and bend over the desk. The glass top is like ice on my naked breasts. My breath quickens as he coolly and effectively ties my ankles to the desk legs, then my wrists behind my back. I twist my hands, checking the tightness. No give, at all. Suddenly I feel vulnerable. Too open, too exposed.

I notice the wooden paddle on the desk only when he reaches for it. I gasp. From fear or anticipation, I’m not sure. He moves away so I can no longer see him.

From behind me, I hear, “Count, Sidney.”

I squeeze my eyes shut, and the paddle whistles through the air –

Beep. Beep. Beep.

I wake with a start, flushed and wet. A dream. I exhale a deep breath then slam my hand on the snooze button. Nick stirs beside me, his body heating me through the blankets. My dream comes back full force, an assault on my already over-eager libido.

Nick. His eyes stern, his lips turned down in a disapproving frown. The rope, the paddle… oh. I can’t stop a sharp inhalation.

The idea is laughable. Nick wielding a paddle? He’s more likely to cross-dress and pierce his nipples than mercilessly paddle my ass. Nick is the nicest man I’ve ever met. It’s why I married him.

I sigh in frustration and push my fantasies away. The dog jumps at the door. Nick rolls over. His voice is groggy. “Honey. The dog wants to go out.”

“I know.”

Welcome to real life.

Striptease Excerpt 2

Sid has just asked Nick if he has any fantasies.

“Well, maybe you could seduce me?”

I blink. “Me?”

“Yeah, like a little lap dance or a strip tease.”

Fucking A. Of course the pain in the ass would pick something completely out of my comfort zone. A strip tease and a lap dance? I’ve never had a single dance lesson. I’m awkward and clumsy and not the least bit sexy.

Don’t be a taker, I scold myself. He tied me up. He spanked me. He stepped out of his comfort zone, I can too.

Steeling myself for humiliation, I rise from the bed. As seductively as I can manage, I raise the hem of my blouse. “Like this?” I purr.

Nick puts his arms behind his head and his gaze rakes me over. A big grin stretches across his face. He likes it. Okay, I can do this. I pull my shirt up higher, exposing my bra.

“Yeah!” Nick praises from the bed.

I give him a flirty smile then start to pull the blouse over my head. It’s a little tight and I tug harder. Buttons. The damn shirt has buttons, dummy. I bring my arms down to undo the top button, but something yanks on my ear.

Ow! Ow, ow, ow. I freeze, my arms over head, my shirt covering my face. The top button is stuck on the stupid hoop earrings I insisted on wearing to work today. I was trying to look sexy. Not so sexy now, am I?

“Honey? Are you okay?”

He doesn’t need to see my face to know I’m blushing. I’m sure it covers my entire body. But I can recover. I can still pull this off. Somehow, I will make this sexy.

“Um.” My voice is muffled in my shirt. I go for a casual tone. “I’m fine. I’m just…going slow. So you can, you know, savor it.” I move my hips side to side in a seductive sway while simultaneously trying to untangle my earring.

The arm opposite the stuck earring is halfway in my shirt sleeve so I jerk my upper body to the side, trying to get it over to help. But it won’t quite reach where I need it. I’m panting with excursion and getting a bit frantic that it won’t come loose. I wriggle my arms furiously trying to get them out of the sleeves. Every few seconds I stop and shake my hips toward Nick. Or somewhere. I’m not really sure which direction I’m facing anymore.

I hear a strangled snort from behind me. I spin around and freeze. Is he laughing at me? Except for the crinkling of the shirt over my ears, the room is silent.

My arms ache and my ear hurts. I blow out a breath of air.

Nick clears his throat. “Do you need help?” The end of the sentence is choked off with a covered chuckle.

“Yes,” I say, defeated.

I hear him rise from the bed. Then his fingers are on me, unbuttoning my blouse.

“Careful,” I tell him. “My earring is stuck.”

“I got it.”

His fingers work deftly, freeing my face and arms, and just the blouse is dangling from my earring. He works on getting that loose too. I look up at him. Maybe it’s the lack of oxygen from being stuck in my shirt, but he’s never looked so handsome.

“Hi,” I say sheepishly.

He smirks. “Hi.” His breath touches my lips and lingers.

Suddenly, I want to kiss him. Need to kiss him. I lean forward. “Ow!” Something tugs my earring.

“Stay still,” he orders softly. His arm wraps around my waist and pulls me against his body. Goose bumps rise along the skin on my belly and back. Am I getting turned on? I exhale a laugh.

Nick just rescued me from an utterly unsexy and quite possibly life threatening strip tease. I probably looked like one those moles with the red tendril thingys on its head, clawing its way out of the ground. I should be digging a hole into the ground and hiding in humiliation.

Finally, the blouse falls to the floor and my ear is free. I pull both hoops out and place them on the dresser. Nick steps back and looks me over. His mouth is tight with a restrained grin.

I point a finger at him. “Don’t. Laugh.”

He covers his mouth with his hand and his shoulders shake. My eyes narrow and I launch myself at him, toppling him onto the bed. I straddle his hips as his hysterical laughter fills the room.

“Shut up.” I try to cover his mouth with my hand but he blocks me.

“That was cute, Lex,” he says between roars of laughter. “It was like a sea cucumber giving birth to an anemone.”

I gasp and try to smack him but he dodges my hand.

“A sexy sea cucumber,” he adds.

This time, I go for the jugular. He catches my wrists and holds them captive. “So violent. I may be new at this, but I’m pretty sure beating up your Dom is bad form. Should I punish you now?”

“No! I’m too mad.” I pout, pulling my wrists from his hands. “I won’t fulfill anymore of your fantasies if you make fun of me.”

He smiles. “Honey, you fulfill my fantasies every day just by being you.”

I chuckle nervously. “Sure.” But I’m touched, whether it’s true or not.

We stare at each other silently for a moment, giddy smiles plastered on our faces. In a bold move I get my retribution by snaking my hand up his chest and pinching his nipple.

“Ow!” He grasps my hand to free his nipple. “You’re not a very good sub,” he teases.

“Maybe you’re not a good Dom,” I counter with a saucy grin.

“Probably.” Evil glittering in his eyes, he folds his arms around me, then yanks me down for a kiss. Our lips meet and he holds the back of my head as the kiss deepens. Not that I’m planning on leaving. The play of lips on lips, softness and hard, tongue and teeth, is a dance Nick has always done well. I snuggle closer, catch my breath when I can. My eyelids drift lower as I give in to the sensations. I sneak my hand onto his chest, palm flattened, and play with the hair above his shirt neckline. When he stops kissing me I’m breathing hard and very conscious of his body beneath mine.

His gaze is locked with mine. “So let’s just be us.”

I smile. Us. Nick and Sid. Not vanilla. Not Rocky Road. Any kind of thirty-one flavors we want to be. I bite my lip and nod.

With both hands, he grasps my ass and squeezes. “Now let me tie you up so we can fuck and feel better.”


Buy 31 Flavors on Amazon

31 Flavors site

Leia’s website

Leia’s blog

Cari’s website

Cari’s blog

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Coming out as being into BDSM

"Coming out" as someone who's interested in BDSM isn't easy, especially if you're in an established relationship that has previously had little to no kink factor. Despite that, many people do it. Why? Because they feel like they won't be a whole sexual being without BDSM.

I've got a couple of tips for "coming out". Your mileage may vary, given your particular circumstances and comfort level. First, read. And then read some more. Two great books about BDSM are SM 101 and Screw the Roses, Send Me the Thorns (which appears to be almost $50. Huh. Maybe it's out of print). I've put links to Amazon here but you can find them on Barnes & Noble, etc. Now that you've got a good, basic understanding of BDSM, ask yourself, is it really for you?

Next, take a good, long look at your partner. You know your partner well-how do you think he or she will react to hearing about your interest in BDSM? This information will help you frame your revelation. For instance, should you sneak in some little aspects of BDSM or should you just come out and say you're into it?

Third, plan and then start introducing BDSM-related gear. Many people are more comfortable with the "sneaking in" method. So buy a few things. Keep them relatively easy and harmless-looking. This is not the time for the single tail whip. Try a pair of handcuffs, maybe a blindfold. Tell your partner you'd like to add them to your sex repertoire and see he or she reacts. If the reaction is favorable, play around with those before you move on. Introduce something a little more out there, like a paddle or a butt plug next. If your partner balks, don't assume all is lost. Back off and give him or her time to assimilate what you've just put out there.

At each level of introducing these things to your partner, watch him or her closely. Your partner may say they're not into something, but their body may be telling you something different. That doesn't mean you should ignore their words, but it does mean that at least at some basic level your partner may be turned on. The mind is a powerful thing and can ignore the signals the body is giving out.

Good luck, and happy kinking!

For more information on my books, including Caught, which won Best BDSM Book 2011 from LoveRomancesCafe, check out my website at http://www.booksbycassandracarr.com.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

What is a Total Power Exchange and is it achievable?

I thought I would talk about one of the more commonly misunderstood terms in BDSM- Total Power Exchange, or TPE for short.

The phrase "Total Power Exchange" was coined by Steven S. Davis in the newsgroup alt.sex.bondage during his debates with Jon Jacobs in the mid 1990's. In 1997 Davis gave this definition, in bold, along with a lot of asides (in brackets):

A TPE (Total Power Exchange) relationship, sometimes described as an

absolute lifestyle D&s relationship (that such relationships can actually be neither "total" or "absolute" is agreed; these are ideal states to be worked towards but which will not be achieved, which is why TPE may be better seen as a process or goal than as a state), is a relationship in which no impediment to the exercise of the owner's power is accepted (some may, of course, exist, and what prudent owners do is to avoid direct collisions with these impediments, while working to overcome those that can be overcome, nor will a sensible owner try push a slave into things that are hard limits for her (but the owner might push a slave up against what the slave thinks are hard
limits but which she can in fact overcome)). Such things as safewords, contracts, negotiated limits, and anything else which recognizes/acknowledges/formalizes limits on the owner's power tend to be viewed as negative things in TPE

Let's take out all the italicized portions to get to the heart of the matter...

A TPE (Total Power Exchange) relationship, sometimes described as absolute lifestyle D&s, is a relationship in which no impediment to the exercise of the owner's power is accepted. Such things as safewords, contracts, negotiated limits, and anything else which recognizes/acknowledges/formalizes limits on the owner's power tend to be viewed as negative things in TPE.

Ah, that's better. Much easier to read and understand. Right?

But what does TPE actually mean? I think the term itself is somewhat misleading - all three words of it, in fact. First, as stated above, "total" is a pretty difficult thing to achieve.
Second, the dominant acquires authority, not just "power". The dominant's control of the submissive is acknowledged as being rightfully his. Finally, power or authority is not "exchanged". It is unilaterally taken by the dominant from the submissive.

At its most basic level, TPE means the dominant, whether a man or a woman, has complete control over the submissive's life, in as much as that's possible. The dominant may tell the submissive when to wake up, how to dress, where to go during the day, when to come home by, what to cook for dinner, and how to spend the evening. If the submissive, for example, doesn't like the outfit the dominant has picked out, too bad. If the submissive wants to watch American Idol but the dominant wants to see Justified, they watch Justified. The submissive completely surrenders to the wishes of the dominant.

Clear as mud now? What questions do you have? I'll do my best to answer them in the comments.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Like a little BDSM with your bull riders? Of course you do!

Book 1 in my new Buckin' Bull Riders series, Impact, releases today from Ellora's Cave. Manic Readers was first on the draw with their review, and they gave it 4.5 stars out of 5! Here's the blurb:

Professional bull rider Conner Raub hides a secret from the world. He’s a Dom. When he meets a submissive on tour who pulls at his Dom tendencies, he fights to deny his true self, believing his colleagues will condemn his lifestyle.

Jessica Talbot is new to the BDSM scene and the bull riding tour, but after seeing Conner come to the aid of a submissive being mistreated in a club, she sets out to have him for her own. After their first night together she asks him to train her to submit and he refuses, afraid to mix business with pleasure. But Jessica isn’t deterred. She’ll do whatever it takes to make him realize he can have it all—a career, true love, and the BDSM lifestyle he craves.

And a yummy excerpt - the entire second chapter (the first is sort of a prologue):

Conner packed up the last of his stuff and threw it into the duffel bag. The first event of the new season was starting in a few days and he was flying out to New York City later tonight. He was looking forward to meeting up with his best friend Brady Parrish. His mind flashed back to the previous evening at Decadence. He wished he could tell Brady about the BDSM lifestyle he wanted. Brady was a great guy and wouldn’t judge him, so maybe he would some day, but how do you bring something like that up?
Hey dude, pass me the rosin. By the way, I like to tie women up, spank their asses red, and then have them suck my cock to thank me for it.
He rolled his eyes.
Yeah, right. No big deal.
He couldn’t tell anyone on the tour about his lifestyle preferences. The NBT wasn’t exactly the most liberal-minded sport around. After all, many of the riders, as well as the officials and executives were from the Bible-beltin’ South. It was bad enough evidently many of the riders had been aware he and Brady sometimes shared women—he didn’t need word of this getting out. It could ruin his career. The NBT was all about family and hardworking values, not Doms and whips and spreader bars.
His cell phone rang, jolting him back to the present. “Yeah?”
“Yeah? Nice greeting,” Brady replied.
“Sorry,” Conner answered. “My mind was a million miles away. What’s up, dude?”
“Just wanted to find out what time you’re getting in tomorrow. I’ve got a rental, so I can swing by and pick you up.”
“You don’t have to do that. I was gonna take a cab.”
“Not necessary. Besides, then you can buy me dinner. What time does your flight get in?”
“Hold on.” He rummaged through his stuff until he produced his ticket. “Nine fifteen. US Air, Kennedy.”
“Cool. See you then.”
* * * * *
Jessica loaded her computer into her messenger bag and headed out onto the event floor. She still had four stock contractors to find before she could relax and watch the competition. Her co-liaison had said the first event was always crazy and this one was certainly living up to its hype. Between the new contractors, new bulls, and the new her—well, not exactly new, but new to this “first event” stuff, she was about to blow a gasket.
Jessica had known when she’d taken the position she might encounter some old-fashioned attitudes regarding her ability to do her job, but she was still astounded at how often it happened. She knew bulls—her daddy was a cattle rancher. She knew all about the different breeds, and why one breed was preferred for one job over another. She understood which made a good bull-riding bull, and how to pick one in a draft based on what you needed to get out of the ride. But it didn’t matter. Some of these assholes saw her big boobs and figured she was here as eye candy.
Spotting Jack Tucker, she hurried after him. “Mr. Tucker,” she called. She was gaining on him but he appeared to be ignoring her. “Mr. Tucker. I’m Jessica, the liaison from the NBT. We met last season? I need to go over a couple of things with you.” She’d just caught up with him by this time and she glanced over to see if he was listening at all.
“I turned in my paperwork,” he replied as he kept walking. “Now get outta my way, girlie. I’ve got stuff to do.” He spit a stream of tobacco right in front of her and Jessica had to consciously try not to flinch. It wasn’t the first time she’d seen tobacco being spit, but to know he’d purposely done it right where she’d be walking—ick. He’d done a similar thing last year and was obviously trying to intimidate her, but was barking up the wrong tree if he thought she was going to slink away like some chastised dog.
“Mr. Tucker,” she began, trying to keep her voice down and even. “You left a few pieces of your paperwork blank and I need to have those parts filled in.”
“I’ve been doin’ paperwork for the tour for longer ’n you’ve been alive, girlie,” he said. “I’ve never had a problem.”
Jessica took a deep breath and tried again. “We’re putting the bulls into a database. Without information like year of birth, weight, etcetera, our database will be incomplete. If you just take a few moments of your time to look at your records I’ll leave you alone.”
He stopped and turned to her. “This tour’s gettin’ to be more of a pain in the ass every year.” He stabbed a finger in her general direction. “People like you comin’ in and tryin’ to change everything. Modernize, you say. Well, I say if the system ain’t broke, don’t fuck with it.” Jessica decided she’d had enough after she saw his pompous expression.
“Mr. Tucker, you have one hour to have this information to my colleague, Rick O’Meara, in the Official’s Room. If you don’t, I will disqualify your bulls.” Spinning on her heel, she began to walk away, forcing herself not to run. Before she got ten feet, though, a rough hand gripped her arm.
“What did you say, you little bitch?” He squeezed and she gasped from the pain.
Before she could process anything further Conner was there, prying the man’s fingers off her arm. “Get your fuckin’ hands off her.”
She looked up at him. His lips were set in a thin line and his eyes were as dark and stormy as one of the Texas tornadoes she’d seen dozens of times living on the Panhandle.
Tucker released her. “I’d suggest you go find the information the lady requested,” Conner growled, getting in the other man’s personal space. Since Conner had a good eight inches and at least seventy pounds on the man, he backed down immediately.
“This isn’t over,” he told her, then turned and stalked away.
Conner lifted her arm. “He hurt you.” It wasn’t a question.
“It’s not a big deal,” she answered. A profound sense of gratitude swept through her body and as she stared up at his eyes, which had darkened even further as he looked back at her, she felt as if she could drown in them. Normally she’d prefer to fight her own battles, but she didn’t know what Tucker would have done to her if Conner hadn’t intervened. She shivered.
Her skin felt searing hot where his fingers touched it, and whether from the leftover adrenaline of the situation or from her reaction to him she didn’t know, but her breath was coming fast and furious, making her look like a panting fool. His gaze flickered down to her breasts and then slowly returned to her face.
“I saw the whole thing. You have to report him. He can’t be treating you like that. You were just doing your job and he wasn’t doing his.”
She was mortified he’d witnessed such an embarrassing situation. Jessica was afraid he would go tell the tour she couldn’t handle herself and she’d be out of a job. Even with all the crap she had to take, she loved this job. If she could’ve been a bull rider she would’ve, but she’d been cursed with the wrong DNA, so she did what she could to be close to the sport. She looked down, sighing. “Don’t worry about it,” she mumbled, dropping her eyes.
He grabbed her chin and forced her to look at him again. Her pussy heated as she remembered how he’d done the same thing to his sub that night at Decadence. “I am worried about it, and you’re not gonna waylay me.”
“Conner, please.” She bit her lip to keep from saying anything else. She had a feeling saying ‘Conner, please kiss me, please make me yours, I want you’ wouldn’t go over very well.
He took a giant step back then and dropped his hand. “I apologize. I don’t even know your name and here I am touching you. I have no right.”
You can touch me all you want…
But since she couldn’t say that, instead she held out her hand. “Jessica Talbot.”
“Conner Raub, but I guess you know that,” he replied, grinning as he took her hand in his much larger, work-roughened one.
“Yes,” she confessed, her face flaming. She hoped her interest wasn’t written all over her face.
“I don’t think I’ve seen you around here. You new?”
“I came on board around the middle of last season when Steven had his heart attack.”
Conner nodded. “Steven worked too hard. It looks like you do too.” He studied her face and then his eyes narrowed. “Do you have the power to disqualify his bulls?”
“No, but if I told the officials to they would.”
“Just like that, without an explanation?”
“Of course not, but if I told them he withheld information I requested they would disqualify him. They’re cracking down on that stuff this season.”
“So you were ready to make an example outta him?”
Jessica shrugged. “I did what I had to do.” And now what she needed to do was get away from Conner Raub. “Anyway, I still need to find three other contractors. Thank you for coming to my rescue. I hope we can keep this between us—I don’t want people thinking I can’t handle myself around here.”
Conner’s jaw tightened. “I don’t like the idea of him getting away with mauling you.” He stepped closer and Jessica felt her nipples tighten against the lacy confines of her bra. Thankfully she needed a sturdy bra to give her large breasts the support they needed, so her arousal didn’t show. That would’ve been more than she could’ve handled. Yes, she wanted Conner, but not like this. She needed time to figure out how to seduce him in her own way, in her own time.
“I’ll let you go, on one condition,” he told her. “I wanna see your arm later tonight. If it’s bruised you’re gonna report him. I’ll come with you.” His tone brooked no argument and her sex flooded with more moisture. His nostrils flared and her face flamed. Could he smell her?
She turned away, calling over her shoulder, “Okay, thanks again,” as she fled as fast as her legs would take her.

Conner felt as if he’d been kicked in the chest by an ornery bull. He’d been walking back to the riders’ prep area after registering when he’d come upon Jessica and that guy. When she’d said she’d disqualify the asshole’s bulls he’d silently cheered, loving the way she’d stood up to him. He wanted a submissive in the bedroom, but a girl with spunk outside it was so much more entertaining.
But the guy had gone and grabbed her and Conner had seen red. After he’d sent the guy packing Jessica had looked up at him like some kind of hero and his dick had instantly gone rock hard. Trying to avoid her eyes he’d looked down, only to see her gorgeous, lush breasts heaving and he’d almost lost it. Only through sheer force of will he’d garnered through his years of being a Dom had he been able to drag his gaze back up to her face.
Then he’d touched her chin, and she’d said please and bitten her lip, and he’d moved away so fast he’d probably left skid marks with his boots lest he act on what his brain had started screaming at him. In that moment he’d seen what this woman was—a natural submissive. He’d automatically reverted to how a Dom would treat a sub. He’d apologized for touching her without permission. But all she’d done was stuck out her hand to shake his, so he’d ignored his still-screaming brain and introduced himself as if nothing out of the ordinary was happening.
And he thought he’d gotten away with his sanity until he’d told her he wanted to see her arm later. Even from a foot or more away he’d smelled the force of her arousal after he’d issued the command—another sign she was submissive. He’d very nearly lost his cool and then she was gone.
Rubbing his face, he continued toward the prep area. When he arrived, Brady was already there. “Dude, you okay? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
“Fine,” Conner answered. He placed his gear bag on the table in front of him and began to pull out everything to inspect it.
“Yeah.” He figured that was the easiest explanation he could give for why he looked shaken up. He sure as hell felt shaken up, but he needed to get his head in the game fast or this event would be all over for him.
Brady left him alone while they finished their prep work. Then they took their stuff up to the area behind the chutes and settled in to watch. When Brady’s turn rolled around, Conner provided his usual assistance getting him situated on his bull and helping him loop his bull rope underneath the bull’s massive girth and bring it up the other side. He was pushing the bull away from the near fence when he felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. He ignored the feeling for the moment and concentrated on his friend. When Brady nodded he let go and Brady and the bull went careening out of the chute.
Brady held on for the full eight seconds and then scrambled off the back of the still-bucking bull, landing on his shoulder and rolling left, away from the pounding hooves. He sprang up and ran toward the rail. Conner reached his hand out and grabbed Brady’s biceps, ready to pull him over if need be. The bull fighters got the beast corralled, though, and both he and Brady directed their attention to the scoreboard.
“Ladies and gentlemen, that was last year’s winner, Brady Parrish, the King of Rodeo, ridin’ Extremist.” There was a pause. “Looks like Brady’s picking up where he left off last year. He scores an 89.5. That puts Brady in first place with five riders remaining.”
“Good for you,” Conner said, clapping his best friend on the back. “But I’m gonna beat your ass.” Finally he allowed himself to turn around. Standing not thirty feet from him, looking at him as if he were a dessert buffet and she was a starving chocoholic, was Jessica. She licked her lips and Conner barely stifled a groan. His dick took notice and he ruthlessly forced it back down. Riding with a hard-on was a bad idea for a whole bunch of reasons, not the least of which was the riders didn’t wear cups and getting bounced around on a bull while sporting a boner was bound to be a very unpleasant experience. He allowed himself to stare her down for a moment before touching the brim of his hat in a silent salute and turning back to the chutes.
When it was his turn to ride he was thankfully able to focus and stayed on for the full eight seconds, scoring a 90 and taking over first place. After completing his turn and picking up his bull rope from one of the bull fighters, he climbed over the rail. Now his ride was done, and he wanted to see Jessica’s arm. He had a feeling there would be a clear handprint visible on her pale skin. While that thought would have turned him on if it was his handprint on her ass and she was a willing participant, it made him want to kill if that bastard had hurt her. How often did she get manhandled? He intended to get some answers.
Looking around, though, he didn’t see her. Accepting congratulations from his fellow riders, he continued to scan the area around him. Where had she gone off to? Now he was pissed. She knew he wanted a look at her arm. Was she avoiding him? After the look she’d given him a few minutes ago, that possibility seemed unlikely, but maybe she’d run like a scared jackrabbit. Wouldn’t be the first time he’d scared off a woman when they got a peek at his dominant side. Maybe it was for the best. He damn well shouldn’t be opening that can of worms while he was on tour. But man, she made him want to.

Jessica hid behind a sponsor sign, her back pressed to the cool plastic. What was she doing? She knew Conner wanted to see her arm and instinctively he wouldn’t rest until he’d tracked her down, and yet here she was, hiding from him. Isn’t this what she wanted—him coming to her on his own? She wiped her damp palms on her jeans and raised her eyes to the roof of the arena. Was she strong enough to do this? Was she strong enough to go after what she wanted?
She knew the draft would be starting soon and she had no choice but to face him then. She had to be there to note which bulls got drawn so she could deal with the contractors tomorrow. Grabbing her bag, she peeked out from behind the sign and then darted into the corridor.
“Thought you could avoid me?” A silky Texas drawl wound its way around her ear and she jumped.
“C-Conner,” she whispered. Clearing her throat, she continued. “I was going to the draft area.”
“Me too. I’ll walk with you.” He fell into line with her, making his long-legged stride shorter to match hers. “How’s your arm?”
“Fine, truly. Thank you for asking.” She bit her lip and looked away.
“Don’t do that.”
Her head whipped around. “Do what?”
“Bite your lip. It gives a man ideas.”
“Ideas?” God, she was turning into a parroting idiot…
“Yeah, ideas. Ideas me and any other warm-blooded man around here would have after lookin’ at your mouth. I don’t like it.” He glanced at her. “Dammit! You’re still doing it.”
She did, and the thought only excited her more. Her sex clenched hard and she gasped at the onslaught of sensation.
He stopped and looked down at her. His eyes blazed with lust and something else—anger? Was he angry with her? And if so, why?
He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “I’ve never,” he paused and took another breath, “ever met a woman like you, Jessica. I hardly know you but you make my blood boil.” He closed his eyes for a second, and when he opened them they had cleared. Her brow lowered in confusion. “But as much as I’d like to act on the attraction I feel for you, I can’t. I won’t. You work for the tour. I can’t get involved with someone who’s employed by the tour. If it went south my career could be ruined and I can’t abide that. Have a good night.” He turned and continued down the hall, his long legs creating distance between them quickly. What had just happened?
Jessica finished her work for the night and called her neighbor Viola to check on her apartment. Viola was watching it for her while she was on tour. Jessica’s daddy had pitched a fit when she’d decided to hold on to the place, saying it was stupid for her to spend money on an apartment she wasn’t even at eight months out of the year, but Jessica treasured her independence and had dug in her heels.
“Viola? You sound tired. Did I wake you?” Viola wasn’t old by any stretch of the imagination, but Jessica still felt a little guilty having her bringing in her mail and watering her plants for weeks at a time between the periods Jessica could be at home.
“No, I was just absorbed in my reading.”
Jessica smiled. Viola went through murder mysteries like most people went through oxygen. “All right then. How are things?”
“Oh, fine. But my life is boring, you know that. Tell me what’s going on in yours. Did you talk to that boy yet?”
Jessica had told Viola about Conner during her last visit with the woman before leaving for New York City. She’d been bursting at the seams wanting to talk about him, and since most of her friends from high school or community college were wrapped up in their own lives she hardly talked to them anymore. Of course, she didn’t tell Viola where she’d met him—she wasn’t ready to discuss her sexual proclivities with anybody, least of all her older friend.
“Yes, actually, I did. But it didn’t go quite like I expected.”
“What do you mean?”
Jessica winced as she recalled Conner’s face. “He happened along when I was trying to deal with an ornery subcontractor. They’re the guys from each farm who handle the bulls. Anyway, this guy is a real jerk. He wasn’t cooperating with me—giving me the information I need, so I threatened to disqualify his bulls. Well, he didn’t like that idea at all and grabbed my arm.”
“He did what?”
“It wasn’t that big a deal. Things like that happen sometimes.”
“Did you report him?”
“No. If I reported every guy who said or did something offensive I’d be reporting half the contractors on tour. It’s just part of life here.” She could feel Viola’s disapproval through the phone line, so she plowed ahead. “Anyway, Conner made me show him my arm. He got this look in his eye and I thought maybe he’d ask me out, but then he turned tail and ran. I don’t know what to think now. He seemed almost… I don’t know, angry or something.”
“That I can’t help you with. I never know what men are thinking. If I did maybe I’d be married right now.” Jessica made a dismissive noise and Voila laughed.
“Those men don’t know what they’re missing.”
“So what’re you gonna do now?”
“I don’t know. I guess wait and see how he reacts the next time I see him.”
“Probably as good a plan as any.”
“Listen, I should go. It’s late and I’m tired. The first event is always kind of crazy with everybody getting used to new rules, new staff…”
“You take care of yourself, you hear?”
“I promise.”
Jessica ended the call and tossed the phone on the bed. Flopping down next to it, she blew out a loud breath. Why did Conner act so strangely around her? She resolved to find out.

Copyright 2012, Cassandra Carr