Cole, of course, had been great throughout the whole awful ordeal. In fact, he was the first person I called after making the horrible discovery. Even before my mom or 911. He'd been there to hug me and comfort me and act like the perfect big brother I'd never had. Sometimes he could be annoyingly nosy, though. Like today, asking about my writing and what had happened to Jeff, the latest in a long line of guys who just hadn't worked out.
What he didn't know, and what I would rather die than tell him, was that the reason Jeff had left in such a hurry and the things I wrote about were one and the same. Actually, Jeff hadn't gone because he found out what I wrote, but rather, because I wanted to do more than just write about it. I had told Cole that I'd scared him off, and I was absolutely serious. I didn't ever want to see that look in my partner's eyes--half pity, half revulsion--if he found out my secret desires. I could still hear Jeff's incredulous tone echoing in my head: "You want me to do what to you?"
I shook my head and, taking another sip of tea, opened my last e-mail. "Dear Victoria Tarlatan," it began and went on to welcome me into the Romance Writers of America. The letter was from Rebecca Pollock, the chapter president, and she went on to explain that I'd been added to their roster over a month ago when I applied, but she'd somehow lost my e-mail address. She apologized for the late notification and welcomed me to the group. I was pleased to see that the next meeting of the Tampa Bay chapter was in a little under a month, around the first of the year. I wanted to meet other women who were writing the same kind of thing I was, wanted to know I wasn't alone.
I felt a little silly, signing up under my pen name, but as a writer of erotica, I couldn't be too careful about how much of my personal information got on the 'net. My real name was on the check and the registration form I'd sent in, of course, but I'd made it clear I didn't want it getting online. There are a lot of sickos out there combing the internet for easy prey, but that wasn't my only reason for keeping my identity secret.
I was pretty sure that if anyone at work happened to find out what I wrote, I'd be finished professionally. Writing BDSM erotica is not something you add to your résumé if you want to go far in the Tampa PD. Oh, they couldn't really fire me because of it, but they sure as hell could give me a hard time. Women are in the minority in almost any police station. You have to be tough to make a name for yourself, and you have to be as good or better than the men you work with. I prided myself on being both. In the whole department, there were only four female detectives, and out of those, I was the only one in homicide.
And it wasn't like I was writing warm and fuzzy fluffy bunny romance either. I put my whole heart and every bit of my desire into my writing, which resulted in what you might term "hard core" books. Every one of my submissive fantasies found an outlet when I sat down at the computer--it was the only outlet I had. If the guys I worked with learned what I was writing, what I secretly craved with every fiber of my being ... Well, let's just say I had to wade through enough bullshit as it was. Cole was the only person who I perhaps could have confided in, but that was out of the question.
I clicked the link at the bottom of the e-mail and was pleased to see that they'd added Whispers to their list of books by local authors. There was even a link to my publisher, Dark Angel Books, so anyone interested could buy and download the book immediately. Nice.
Putting the half-eaten lasagna in the trash, I got off line and pulled up Microsoft Word. It was time to do a little more work on the book I was currently writing, Twisted Desire. I closed my eyes for a moment, summoning the scene and then typed:
"She was naked before him, trembling, helpless, wrists bound behind her back by cold silver. He was wearing the belt again--the thick black strap of leather hung low on his narrow hips. She couldn't keep her eyes off it.
"You need this belt?" he asked, one large hand caressing the flat silver buckle.
She nodded, wanting it so badly. "Use it ... please!"
"You'll get what you need when you need it." His voice was soft, almost caressing. He slid his fingers into her thick blond hair and yanked backwards, forcing her to expose the pale, vulnerable curve of her throat.
She gasped, heart racing, feeling the wet heat pool between her thighs.
"Don't ask me to take you," he whispered. "I'll take you when I want."
I stopped typing for a moment and closed my eyes to savor the scene. I could almost feel the lash of the belt, the cold silver restraints encircling my wrists, those strong hands caressing me ... making me obey without question. To be that helpless, that vulnerable, with a man I could truly trust. To truly lose control ... A long, slow sigh fell out of me at the thought, and I squeezed my thighs together tightly. God, just writing about it got me so worked up--if I ever actually did it, I'd probably go into total erotic overload.
I opened my eyes and took another sip of tea. And my partner wondered why I wouldn't let him see what I wrote. If Cole ever saw this, he would either laugh at me or pity me, and he certainly wouldn't approve of me ever acting like this with a man I was dating. Not that I needed his or any man's approval but still ... The standard "don't hurt my partner or else" speech would take on a whole new dimension if he knew what I really wanted.
Worse yet, he might think I was some kind of a sick freak, especially in light of the case we were working on. It had bothered me greatly to see how much trouble the perp had gone to in order to set up the murder scene like a classic bondage fantasy. I longed to be restrained and taken by a firm but loving Master but never would I ask to be beaten and raped, let alone killed. But would my overprotective partner be able to understand the fundamental difference when faced with the ugly reality we'd seen today?
I frowned. Why was I worrying about what Cole would think about me if he knew my desires anyway? It wasn't like they had anything to do with him. I shook my head, clearing the ridiculous thought away, and went back to my book.