Rules to Live By is a compilation of four stories from six talented authors: Cari Z, Heidi Belleau and Lisa Henry, Anah Crow and Dianne Fox, and Anna Zabo. All four tackle power struggles, releasing control to gain control, risk and reward. Any BDSM readers should check this title out.
Riptide's Valentine's anthology is Lights, Camera, Cupid and it includes stories from SE Jakes, Amy Lane, Z.A. Maxfield, Anne Tenino and L.A. Witt. It is part of the Bluewater Bay group of stories. These are set in the Olympic peninsula that is stirred up the arrival of Hollywood on their quiet shores.
Kari Gregg has released Tame a Wild Human. Drugged, bound, and left as bait, Wyatt Redding is faced with a terrifying set of no-win scenarios. Best case: he survives the coming days as a werewolf pack’s plaything and returns to the city as a second-class citizen. Worst case: the wolves sate their lusts with Wyatt’s body, then send him home without their protection.What he doesn’t expect is to enjoying it or grow attached to his captor and pack Alpha, Cole.
Master Key is a novella from the duo Anah Crow and Dianne Fox. Marquis and Navin have it all—they’re hot, they’re young, they’re successful, and they’re crazy about each other. So why isn’t it working? They’re trapped by their insecurities, their work obligations, and their inability to actually talk to each other. Marquis makes a last ditch effort at reconciliation by offering Navin a chance to lock him up—in a cock cage. It’s their first try at kink, but no matter how hot it makes them, they quickly learn that spice in the bedroom is no substitute for honest communication.
He threw the car into gear and hoped for good traffic on the way to Navin’s place. He always went to Navin’s. Navin was the one who was home on time. Marquis was too unreliable. And when he thought about it like that, he had no idea why Navin had stayed with him this long.
If he didn’t stop fucking up, he was going to lose Navin. And he didn’t want to lose him—not today, not ever—so he had to get his shit together tonight, come up with something, some way to convince Navin that he was worth keeping around.
The whole drive there, he racked his brain for some kind of solution. He had to come up with something, some way to make this up to Navin. Some way that didn’t feel like he was taking advantage of someone he cared for more than anything else going in his life. Anything else but work.
Maybe the only thing to do now was to throw himself on Navin’s mercy entirely.
He grabbed his bag and briefcase, locked the car, and headed for the door. Hitting the doorbell, he put on his most charming smile and hoped it didn’t come off as anxious as he felt.
When Navin answered the door, he was looking sharp, if rumpled. Tie undone, white shirt open at the throat, tux jacket still on, black hair mussed as though he’d been running his hand through it. He was on the phone, speaking to someone in Hindi, maybe his mother. He stepped back and gestured for Marquis to come in.
God, he was pretty. When Marquis was with him, actually there with him, he couldn’t imagine anything being more important. If only he could get his dick or his brain—any part of him at all—to remind him how amazing Navin was when Navin wasn’t there.
I’m sorry, he mouthed, but Navin wasn’t looking at him. He was too busy on the phone.
Marquis set his bag and briefcase on the floor by the front closet and went through to the living room, dropped onto the couch, and let his head fall into his hands. Shit.
He rubbed his palms over his eyes again. He’d missed so many dates with Navin that, by all rights, he shouldn’t have a boyfriend anymore. He peered between his fingers at Navin, who was still on the phone. Maybe he didn’t.
The front door thumped shut, and Navin came into the living room, only to go to his desk and check something on his computer. Marquis didn’t know a lot of Hindi, much less Gujarati as he thought he was hearing now, but he knew the patter of Navin saying good-bye to someone. One of his uncles, Ajay Masa, it sounded like.
Navin tossed the phone down and snapped the computer shut.
“Hey,” he said, as though Marquis weren’t in the doghouse. He seemed indifferent to Marquis’s lateness—his total failure to even make an appearance at the party—which was worse in its way than anger. Not that Navin had ever really got angry as long as Marquis had known him. “Did you eat? I’ll get you something. You want some tea?”
“I had— Navin, wait.” Marquis surged to his feet, all his tiredness gone in the wake of Navin’s disinterest. He had to fix this. God, please, let him find a way to fix this.
He followed Navin into the kitchen and took his jacket from him as he shed it. Anything to help. “I’m sorry I didn’t make it to your event. Was it—” He couldn’t remember what it had been for. Christ, he was an asshole. He hung the jacket over the back of a chair. “How did it go?”
“Client project launch. Amrit got stoned with some bloggers. Mummy blew a fuse. Now she’s sending him to India to open a new set of offices for us. I don’t think she even gave him pocket money. That’ll keep him busy, finding the funds.” Navin pulled out a covered catering platter and began to put together a meal of sorts for Marquis. “I’ll have to take on his projects. I’ll have to do his hiring. Me, Marquis. Hiring people. I don’t have people. Amrit has people.” As the quick, efficient motion of his hands stopped, so did his words, but Marquis didn’t know what to say to fill the silence. After a painfully long moment, with his back still to Marquis, Navin said, “When you don’t show up, I never know whether to assume work is going well or badly.”
“It was—” He didn’t want to talk about work, not even enough to explain what had happened. Staring at the straight line of Navin’s spine, the curve of his bent head, Marquis could finally see how bad things had gotten: Navin had expected him to blow it. That was why he wasn’t mad. Marquis was as bad as Amrit. Talk about a low bar. “I’m sorry. It wasn’t even me. It was just . . . other people, you know? It won’t happen again. What can I do to make it up to you?”
“Don’t.” Navin held up a hand. “I’m not saying that to be difficult. I just don’t want to get into this cycle. I know you feel terrible, you always do. But it’s not enough to make you remember the next time. It’s better to just deal with what’s here than for me to make you do penance. The consequences are what they are.”
Don’t. Not enough. The consequences. Navin was pretending he was indifferent but underneath it was anger—hurt. One of these days, the consequences were going to be the end. He caught Navin’s hand and blurted, “Make me. Make me remember.”
Navin closed his eyes and sighed. “How am I supposed to do that? I can’t nag you—you’ll end up resenting me and it’ll be a disaster.” Exhaustion and disappointment seemed to drag at Navin, turning down his mouth and darkening his eyes. It twisted something in Marquis’s chest to see. “Let’s just work with what we have.”
“Then don’t nag me.” Marquis cupped Navin’s cheek in his free hand. At this rate, he was going to ruin this just because of who he was, which seemed excruciatingly unfair. He couldn’t see a way out right now, but he wasn’t going to let go, either. “Make me remember. I don’t know how. I just— Don’t let me forget. I don’t want to forget, Navin. I want you in my head. All the time.”
Navin opened his eyes, blinking slowly. “What am I supposed to do? Tattoo my name on your forehead? You’re not my prisoner. They don’t make a leash long enough to go between our offices. I can’t be with you all the time. I wish I could be, Marq.” Navin kissed him on the cheek, then the mouth, pressing against him. At least there was emotion in that kiss. Navin cared, even if he didn’t have any answers either. “It would be perfect. When you’re around, I feel real.”
“I’m here now, and I’m all yours.” The glimmer of hope was energizing. He was good in a crisis, thought well on his feet. This was a crisis if he’d ever had one. “Take me to bed. I’m not hungry. Just . . . Hell, tie me up. Keep me here, yours, all weekend long. Take my shoes, take my clothes. Take my phone.”
“I should have guessed that’s the only way to keep you from the office.” Navin tugged at Marquis’s shirt, eyebrows raised. “Strip. Give me your clothes.”
Marquis fumbled with the buttons, finally working enough of them free that he could drag the shirt off over his head. He dropped it in Navin’s hand, and his undershirt after. Anxiety sparked in him in spite of his arousal, and he didn’t know why. How could he screw up being naked?
“I’ll be putting these somewhere you can’t get them. And your phone. And computer.” Navin hid the shirts behind his back. He tilted his head. “I’ll think of something you can do for me to earn them back for a half hour at a time, though, if you get desperate.”
It was a miracle Marquis wasn’t more light-headed with all the blood rushing to his dick. It wasn’t as though he didn’t know this kind of thing turned him on. Every now and then, he’d allow himself to indulge in fantasies or porn about being controlled, and he’d get off so fast his head would spin.
Not that he’d ever admit it to anyone. Except he just had, hadn’t he? Suggesting Navin tie him up had been foolish, laying it all out there like that. He didn’t want to put Navin off with his fantasies.
This wasn’t a fantasy, though. This was real. This was Navin—Navin’s idea, not his.
He couldn’t get his pants off and into Navin’s hands fast enough.
Navin carefully folded everything as it came to him. He was always good at being organized. All of it went into Marquis’s bag, and then that and Marquis’s briefcase went into the hall closet. Marquis watched them go—his phone was in there, how was he going to make sure there were no disasters at the office if he didn’t have his phone?—with a pang of fear that left his hands clammy. Suddenly, what he’d suggested felt all too real, and he wasn’t sure it was such a good idea after all. Then Navin turned around.
“I feel better now that I know I’ve got you to myself.” Navin took a deep breath and let it out slowly, his gaze hungry. His arousal was very evident through the thin, fine fabric of his tuxedo slacks. Oh. That was so much better, knowing this turned Navin on as well. “Bed?”
Navin’s lips twisted with a sly smile that made Marquis’s heart pound like he’d run a marathon. All his worries were gone in a rush of lust. That wickedness on Navin’s face was a gift wrapped up in Navin’s buttoned-down exterior. Marquis nodded quickly, already backing toward the bedroom door.
“Bed,” he agreed breathlessly, and turned away.