He chuckles softly, and I feel the gust of air against my ear. Despite his weary appearance, his breath is fresh and sweet, as though he had just been chewing gum. I close my eyes, trying to convince myself that Julian wouldn’t really kill me, that he’s just toying with me right now.

He kisses my ear, nibbling lightly on my earlobe. His touch in that sensitive area sends pleasurable chills down my spine, and my breathing changes again, becomes slower and deeper as I get more aroused. I can smell the warm, musky scent of his skin, and my nipples tighten, reacting to his nearness. The ache between my thighs is growing, and I squirm a little, trying to relieve the pressure building inside me.

“You want me, don’t you?” he whispers in my ear, slipping his hand under the skirt of my dress and lightly stroking my sex. I know he can feel the moisture there, and I suppress a moan as one long finger pushes inside me, rubbing against my slick inner wall. “Don’t you, Nora?”

“Yes.” I gasp as he touches a particularly sensitive spot.

“Yes, what?” His voice is harsh, demanding. He wants my complete surrender.

“Yes, I want you,” I admit in a broken whisper. I can’t deny it any longer. I want Julian. I want the man who kidnapped me, who hurt me. I want him, and I hate myself for it.

He withdraws his finger then and lets go of my throat. Startled, I open my eyes and meet his gaze. He lifts his hand to my face, pressing his finger against my lips. It’s the same finger that was just inside me. “Suck it,” he orders, and I obediently open my mouth, sucking the finger in. I can taste myself, my own desire, and it makes me even more turned on.

When he’s satisfied that the finger is clean, he removes it from my mouth, grasping my chin with his hand instead, forcing me to meet his gaze. I stare up at him, mesmerized by the dark blue striations in his irises. My body is throbbing with need, desperately craving his possession. I want him to take me, to fill the aching emptiness within.

But all he does is look at me, a mocking half-smile playing on his beautiful lips. “You think I’m going to punish you tonight, Nora?” he asks softly. “Is that what you’re expecting me to do?”

I blink, startled by the question. Of course I expect him to do that. I did something that upset him, and he’s not shy about hurting me when I’m on my best behavior.

Apparently reading the answer on my face, he smiles wider. “Well, sorry to disappoint you, my pet, but I’m far too exhausted to do your punishment justice tonight. All I want right now is your mouth.” And with that, he fists his hand in my hair and pushes me down, so that I’m kneeling between his legs, his erection at my eye level.

“Suck it,” he murmurs, looking down at me. “Just like you did my finger.”

I’m no stranger to blow-jobs, having given quite a few to my ex-boyfriend, so I know what to do. I close my lips around the thick column of his shaft and swirl my tongue around the tip. He tastes a little salty, a little musky, and I look up, watching his face as I cup his balls in my hand and squeeze them lightly. He groans, his eyes closing and his hand tightening in my hair, and I continue, moving my mouth up and down on his cock, swallowing him deeper every time.

For some reason, I don’t mind pleasuring him this way. In fact, I find it strangely enjoyable. Even though it’s an illusion, I feel like he’s at my mercy at the moment, that I am the one who has the power right now. I love the helpless groans that escape his throat as I use my hands, my lips, and my tongue to bring him to the very brink of orgasm before slowing down. I love the agonized expression on his face when I take his balls into my mouth and suck on them, feeling them tightening in my mouth. I love the way he shudders when I lightly scrape my fingernails on the underside of his balls, and when he finally explodes, I love the way he grabs my head, holding me in place as he comes, his cock pulsing and throbbing in my mouth.

When he releases me, I lick my lips, cleaning off the traces of semen while looking up at him the whole time.

He stares down at me, still breathing heavily. “That was good, Nora.” His voice is low and raspy. “Very good. Who taught you to do that?”

I shrug. “It’s not like I was a nun before I met you,” I say without thinking.

His eyes narrow, and I realize that I just made a mistake. This is a man who seems to revel in the fact that he was my first, who likes the idea that I belong to him and only to him. Any references to ex-boyfriends are best kept to myself.

To my relief, he doesn’t seem inclined to punish me for this transgression either. Instead, he pulls me up, back onto the bed. Then he undresses me, turns off the light, and puts his arm around me, holding me close as he drifts off to sleep.

My punishment doesn’t take place until the following night. Julian again spends the day in his office, and I don’t see him until dinnertime.

For some reason, I’m not as frightened as I was before. The little interlude last night—and sleeping in Julian’s arms afterwards—soothed my anxiety, making me think the punishment won’t be as bad as I’d initially feared. He didn’t seem particularly angry that I’d found out about Maria, which is a big relief. I hope he’ll forgo punishing me altogether, particularly if I do my best to behave today.

The three of us have dinner again, and I listen to Julian and Beth discussing the latest developments in the Middle East. It surprises me how well informed both of them seem to be about the topic. Before my kidnapping, I was pretty good about following current events, but I’ve never heard most of the politicians’ names they’re mentioning. Then again, if Julian really does run an international import-export company, then it makes sense for him to have his finger on the pulse of world politics.