Both Maggie and Jack were introduces to the kinkier side of sex by partners with the wrong idea of the lifestyle. They are now both careful and leery around others. Jack is afraid he will hurt the women he dates, and Maggie is just afraid. They live in the same apartment complex, and are very aware of each other, but that's as far as things go. Neither one of them knows how to get passed the mental block.
Then one day, Jack shows up at the VA clinic where Maggie works, and both of their lives start to change by the interfering actions of her co-workers and a stupid bet. He shows up at their usual Friday night dinner out, and Maggie ends up spending the night with him. He didn't hurt her and she is not afraid anymore, but now they have something else to worry about? Their hearts.
“Are you ready to start?” the man asked. “I’ve got number one.”
“Oh, you’re the first one up,” Karen repeated, disappointment sounding clear in her voice. “That’s too bad. I always get the first one.”
“Maybe you can change the routine this once.” He waved his little slip of paper at Karen without taking his gaze off Maggie. The intense look lifted from his eyes, replaced by an equally nerve-rattling grin. “Will you switch with your friend here and draw my blood, Maggie?”
“No,” Maggie said quickly, swallowing down a dry breath. If she touched him, she… “Karen always goes first at the start of the day, then Phillip, then me.”
“And then me.”
The room grew silent as the younger woman moved through it toward the quiet man. Robin stopped a few feet from him, a tiny smile playing over her perfectly formed mouth. “Go out there and switch numbers.”
The corners of his lips lifted slightly. “I’ve got the lowest number already.”
“Yeah,” Robin said. “But I never have the first one.”
Phillip huffed. “Neither do Maggie or me, girl.”
Robin ignored Phillip as she turned to look at her. Maggie hated the feeling rushing over her, the nauseating, slightly painful one that erupted when she saw Robin’s tiny hand moved toward the man.
“So,” the patient said lightly, slipping past Robin toward Karen’s empty lab chair, “can I get my blood test done now or what?”
“Yes, come and sit down.” Karen stepped away from the chair and waited for him to sit down before lowering the armrest. “You’re here, so we might as well get started.” She aimed a look at Maggie. “Maggie, I guess you should start the numbers.” She looked from her, to Phillip, to Robin. “That is if everyone is ready to go.”
“I need a few minutes,” Robin said, a hint of irritation in her voice. “I just need to set up my supplies for the day.”
“When you’re finished,” Phillip reached the computer and pressed a key, “you can indicate it.” A ding rang in the hallway, then a second one before he pressed the keyboard a third time. An older gentleman wandered in and looked around, followed by a middle-aged woman. Phillip waved toward the elderly man. “Sir, I can help you.”
“Ma’am?” Maggie called the woman toward her. “Please take a seat here.”
Silence filtered through the room, only broken up by Karen and Phillip asking their patients for the last four digits of their social security numbers. Maggie moved to the second computer on the opposite side of the room—the one she shared with Robin—and did the same.
Her patient’s first name was Carol. Phillip’s elderly man said his name was Fred. The sexy, hot guy focusing his intense gaze on her once again was Jack Reynolds, but Maggie already knew his first name. His little blonde friend had yelled it out the last time she’d seen him at the complex, sounding almost as pissed as Robin looked now.
Maggie’s fingers itched to trace those shoulders, over that arm Karen found so fascinating so suddenly her hand shook. The woman glanced up and smiled. “I’m sorry.”
Maybe she was wrong this time. Maybe this man wasn’t like her ex-husband.
“Jack.” Maggie couldn’t go through something like that again. She pulled her hands down, tightening the rough material hard into her wrist. “I don’t think I want to do this.”
He didn’t say anything.
“Please, Jack.” Fear twisted inside her at his silence. She flipped her legs to the side and touched the floor with her toes before gentle arms gathered them up and placed them back on the bed. “You’ll hurt me, just like he did.” Only measured breathing could be heard. “Jack?”
“No,” she said truthfully. “Matt was a bastard, but he never hurt me. Well, he never hurt me in a physical way.”
“Do you want me to loosen the bindings?” His voice wavered slightly. “Do you want me to release you?”
Maggie nodded, relief soothing the memory from her.
“Is that a yes?”
His silence seemed to scream in the quiet room for a long moment. Nothing could be heard until a creak sounded near the head of the bed, and he loosened the ties around her wrist. His fingers traveled slow and feather-like down her arm toward her tense shoulder. He spread his fingers under her chin, lifting it upward toward his whispering breath.
“You can trust me.”
She sighed at his words, responding deep inside with a yes. Stupid as it may be, Maggie did trust this almost stranger. She shouldn’t, but she did. She couldn’t trust a man she’d been married to for thirteen years or a man she’d known as a friend for two, so why did she want to believe in Jack?
“I won’t do anything you don’t want me to do.”
He released her chin and reached across her chest, pressing his firm abdomen against her soften nipples for a brief, intoxicating moment before he moved away. She could feel her heart racing fast as he released the tie on the second binding and retied it looser. She swallowed a breath when his fingertips caressed warm on her palm.
“Is that better?”
“Good,” he whispered. “Now you belong to me.”