“I can’t take you anywhere, can I?” The question, breathed into my ear, made me shiver.
I cocked an eyebrow at Sean as he held the door for me, and when I walked past him into the store, I made sure I brushed up against him. I’d been making suggestive comments all morning, anticipating the day’s errand of buying him a new suit. He touched the small of my back, the spread of his fingers across my skirt wide enough to make me turn and fix him with a look.
He just grinned at me, his smile knowing and amused. A pretty, sunny girl with long, tumbling blonde waves greeted us as we came in. Her rote welcome faltered a half-beat when she saw the look between Sean and me. I didn’t blame her: it was hard to miss how intimate his gaze was, too private in this public place. I knew that grin could change from playful to wicked in the space of a breath.
He gave me a pointed look, nodding towards the salesgirl, and I turned away from him in time to see the girl give me a cursory once-over. Her nose wrinkled, her eyes lingering on the subtle indigo streaking my dark hair and the olive skin between the hem of my skirt and the cable-knit socks peeking over the tops of my boots. I didn’t give a shit what the Hayleys of the world thought—you’d never catch me in canteloupe-colored capris—and as long as I thought I was sexy, or Sean thought I was sexy, the day was a win.
But she played nice and stuck her hand out to me and said, “Welcome to Men’s Wearhouse. I’m Hayley.”
I shook her hand. “Talia.”
Sean leaned past me to shake her hand, too, knowing my eyes would follow the lean line of his muscled forearm, splattered and swirled with watercolor tattoos, knowing it would distract me before I got too indignant. Knowing I would see his index finger rest against the pulse of her wrist for a moment. Knowing what kind of reaction she’d have to such a casually intimate touch.
Knowing I’d remember exactly what reaction I’d had when he’d done it to me.
Hayley looked up at my boyfriend a few seconds longer than was necessary to make a sale, and the fingers of her free hand coasted absently along her collarbone.
I smirked and wandered away. This wasn’t Sean’s first suit. He knew what he wanted, and he knew what looked good. He didn’t bring me because he needed me.
He brought me because he knew what suits did to me.
The walls had racks running the length of them—coats on top, trousers on bottom. I walked a slow perimeter of the store, running my hands along the scratch of them, houndstooth and herringbone and linen and silk. They were arranged by fabric, then by color story. I touched them all, the way one might touch a holy book. Or lingerie.
Then Sean whistled and I turned toward him. He stood on the stool in front of the three-way mirror in a tweed jacket with corduroy elbow patches. He still wore his jeans and brown checked button-down. He shoved his hands in his pockets, waiting for my opinion with raised eyebrows.
I cocked my head, flipping my hair from my eyes, and sauntered over to him. Hayley fluttered nearby, finding ties and belts and pocket squares. He looked down at me from atop his stool, blue eyes cool, watching me, judging my reaction.
Finally, I said, “You jerk. You have no intention of buying that.”
He blinked, feigning surprise. “Me? A jerk?” He held his hand out to me and I came closer. “Talia, I’m hurt.”
I rolled my eyes. “You know how I feel about elbow patches.”
“Do I?” His voice dropped to a low murmur, and he touched my jaw, the tips of two fingers running down the length of bone. I shivered, and he slid his hand around the back of my neck and squeezed it. My eyes sank shut.
Hayley said, “Here’s the pinstripe, Mr. Poole.”
I jerked my eyes open and his hand left my neck. He smiled at Hayley, who blushed as she hung the suit on the outside of the dressing room door.
“I’ll be right back with the gray and the khaki,” she said, and hurried away.
“You should help her,” he said to me, his voice still low. He hadn’t stepped off the stool. “I’ll need a couple of ties, I think.”
I nodded but didn’t move.
His grin came back, a wicked slash in his beard. His eyes twinkled. “And maybe a new belt.”
I wanted to look down, wanted to blush, to let myself be embarrassed by his tone, by what his innocent words implied, but I forced myself to meet his eyes, to show him that I could take whatever he dished out. We were in public, after all.
“Hop to, cupcake.” His gaze flicked over my head to where Hayley must have been rifling through suits, looking for his size.
I went. And when Hayley’s burbling giggle floated across from the fitting room, I realized I’d spent too long fingering the ties without actually picking any. I made a few hasty choices, but paused by the accessory display, a tower laden with suspenders, braces, socks, and belts. My gaze flicked over to Sean, by the mirror. He had taken the tweed jacket off, the wretched man, and had put on the pinstripe suit over a lavender Oxford. He stood on the stool in front of the mirror again, in socked feet, tugging on the jacket cuffs, rolling his shoulders. I grabbed a brown belt and draped it around my neck like a scarf.
Sean saw me approach in the mirror and smirked when he saw the belt. “What do you think, baby?”
I dropped the ties onto the bench across from the fitting rooms and crossed my arms, giving him an appraising look. What I thought, he and I both knew, was none of Hayley’s business. What I thought was that regardless of fit, regardless of color or style, Sean Poole in a suit made me want to take my clothes off and feel the scratch of the fabric against my bare skin. I wanted to sink down onto my knees and crawl over to him and rub my face against his leg like a cat.
We’d have time enough for that later, so I just said, “The coat’s fine, but the slacks are a little baggy in the thigh, don’t you think?” I walked around so his ass wasn’t blocking the view of his crotch. “Oh, are those pleated?”
Hayley shot me a look over her shoulder. “You don’t like pleated?”
“Look at him,” I said, gesturing to his legs. “He’s tall and skinny, not an Olympic squatter. He doesn’t need pleated-front pants.”
One of Sean’s eyebrows rose in a slow, menacing arch.
“I think the gray suit is flat front.” She hopped off the pedestal in front of the mirror and hurried away to check.
“Not an Olympic squatter,” he murmured, no longer looking at me.
Yeah, I’d probably regret that. But it was true. Sean was built like a swimmer, tall and lean, and he looked ridiculous in pleated-front pants. Menacing eyebrow or not, I stood by that.
“You heard me,” I said. “You’re slim in the waist and hips. I mean, I like it. You know that. But those things look like Hammer pants on you.”
He barked out a laugh just as Hayley came back. “The gray and the khaki are both flat front. Let me go see if I can find flat-front pinstripes.”
“Thanks, sweetheart,” he said. “I’m going to try on the others.”
He stepped off the stool and grabbed my arm, his hand wrapping all the way around my biceps so his fingertips touched. I knew better than to make any noise, but I couldn’t keep the smile off my face. He grabbed one of the ties from the pile I’d left on the bench and pushed me into the fitting room in front of him, locking the door behind us.
He pressed me against the wall, my wrists pinned behind me at the small of my back, and kissed me. His mouth was hot, urgent, and I could tell this shopping trip was as much of a trial on him as it was on me. Maybe because of how much of a trial it was on me.
He rested his palms against the wall on either side of my head and leaned in to put his lips to my ear. His breath rolled like fire down my neck and I shuddered, suddenly unable to control the press of my hips. He wasn’t touching me anywhere but my ear, and I knew better than to pull him against me.
“Keep your mouth shut.” His beard, then his teeth, scraped against my neck. I jerked so hard the back of my head slammed against the wall. His mouth followed. “Or I’ll fill it up for you.”
“Mr. Poole?” Hayley called. “Are you okay in there?”
He covered my mouth with one wide hand. My eyelids fluttered. I couldn’t make my hips stop rolling toward him. He didn’t take his eyes off mine when he called back, “Fine, thank you. Hayley, I didn’t bring the right shoes. Will you bring me a pair of black, size twelve?”
“Yes, sir,” she said, and her footsteps disappeared into a back room.
“At least she shows me respect,” he growled in my ear. “Maybe I should have her in here instead. Would you like that? To know that I’ve got some sorority bimbo on her knees, sucking my cock?”
My knees shook. He pulled my shirt up with one hand, pushing my bra up with it. He bent and took one nipple between his teeth, still covering my mouth with his hand. I closed my eyes and leaned my head against the wall behind me. Then his mouth was gone and I heard the rustle of fabric, probably his pants dropping to the ground. The forced anticipation, waiting for the initial thrust, was making me pant, my pulse thudding dark behind my eyes.
Instead, cold metal bit into my nipple, and I gasped into his hand. He pressed it harder against my face, holding my head to the wall. I looked down, over the ridge of his knuckles, to see a pants hanger attached to one nipple. He was holding it parallel to the ground, the next obvious step to fix the remaining clip to my other nipple. He waited until I met his gaze. Then, grinning, he let it go.
The weight of the hanger pulled sharply as it swung toward the floor, twisting my nipple as it set a pendulum pace. I groaned, and Sean shoved two fingers into my mouth. With his free hand, he squeezed the hanger clip tighter. I flinched. “Remember what I said. You know how much I like to mark you.” He attached the other hanger clip to its matching nipple, then tugged on the crossbar. My eyes rolled, and barely stopped myself from begging him to make me come.
He spun me around and pushed me against the wall, the hanger pressing painfully into my chest. Without taking his hand from my mouth, he leaned over my shoulder and whispered, “I’m going to take my hand away. Don’t make me gag you.”
I nodded, shook my head, frantic but unsure how to show him that I was going to behave, that he wouldn’t have to shove my panties into my mouth like he’d done the last time we’d spent the weekend at my parents’ house.
“Good girl,” he murmured, and his hand slid away, fingers trailing along my jaw and down my neck. They stopped there, grabbing and squeezing my nape, and pushed my cheek to the wall. With his other hand, he pressed my arms together, making me grab my elbows, then wrapped the tie around my forearms. He kicked my feet apart and pushed the back of my skirt up, moving my panties just enough to push two fingers into me without ceremony.
Ceremony wasn’t needed. I had been wet since he told me we were going to buy him a suit, and now I was wet to the point of embarrassment.
“Goddamn,” he breathed, pushing a third finger in. “You are soaked. You really like it when Daddy dresses up like this. Why is that, hmm? I wonder why that is, baby.” He was working his fingers in me, his knuckles rubbing against my clitoris.
“How long have you been waiting for this?” he asked. “Waiting for someone to take you like this in public. To push you against a wall and use you. Hurt you.” He tipped his head down and bit me, right at the junction of neck and shoulder. My knees buckled, but he held me up.
“I can smell you,” he whispered. “All over my hand. Even from here. I’m not going to buy this suit. The next man who tries it on is going to be able to smell your cunt. What do you think about that?”
“Mr. Poole?” Hayley called. “I have your shoes. Everything all right in there?”
Sean bit me again, just to the right of the first spot, slightly farther down my shoulder, then without lifting his head, said, “Thank you. I forgot to ask, do those have laces?”
“Uh, yes, sir,” Hayley said. “Did you—”
“I was hoping to get some without. I’m on my feet a lot.”
He wasn’t. But Hayley gamely agreed to fetch a second pair of shoes.
“I’m running out of excuses.” His voice, fierce and tight in my ear. “Are you going to come or not?”
He pulled his fingers out of me, and though I couldn’t stop my hips from following him, I managed to stifle the whine in my throat. “Can’t follow simple instructions,” he muttered, wiping his fingers on the suit pants he wasn’t going to buy. I stayed leaning against the wall, hoping he’d change his mind, but he just pulled the tie off my arms and tugged my skirt back into place. He nudged my arm to turn me around, and I didn’t fight him. I knew he was seeing exactly what he wanted to see: mussed hair, pink cheeks, parted lips. Eyes shining, glazed.
“Look at you,” he said, giving the pants-hanger a tug. I winced, but managed to keep silent. “Willing to accept this. Just because a man in a suit did it to you. I wonder what else I could do to you.” He grabbed my throat and pressed his body to mine, pushing me to the wall again. His grip pulled me up an inch or two, so that I had to stand on my toes to balance. His erection strained—I wouldn’t be the only one staining those pants—pressing against the line of my leg. I could feel his pulse in it. “Have you always been this slutty?” he whispered. “Your professors must have loved you. Little Talia Benson, willing to do anything for an A.”
He let me go with an abruptness that took me off-balance, then reached up and gave the hanger a sharp tug. The clips came off my nipples with a snap, the pain and the suddenness of it almost sending me to my knees.
“Fix your top,” he said. “You can’t go back out there looking like that.”
I scrambled to readjust my bra, and my sweater over it. He watched me with cool disinterest.
He said, “Give me your underwear.”
I met his gaze, my eyes wide like a startled deer. He didn’t repeat himself. He didn’t need to. He just held out his hand. I knew I’d hesitated too long when one of his eyebrows twitched. I hiked up my skirt again and slid my panties down over my legs. They weren’t even that sexy—green argyle that cut up high on my cheeks. I put them in his hand, and he tucked them into the front pocket of his discarded jeans without even a second glance.
He said, “Talia, you know what those socks do to me.”
I looked up from my clothing, my brow furrowed. I started to ask him what he meant, but he didn’t wait for my question.
“Those socks, with that skirt. Just that slim section of your thigh peeking out. Teasing. I’ve been wanting to get my hand inside your panties since lunchtime.”
“Mr. Poole?” Hayley called. “We don’t have any in black in a size 12. Do you want me to get you the brown, just so you can try them on?”
Sean’s grin wasn’t quite a smile—it was more a baring of teeth. It made me twitch, as if he had actually touched me.
He said, “Yeah, do that.”
“Yes, sir,” she said.
Her footsteps hadn’t fully faded away when he spoke again, his voice not nearly quiet enough. “Bend over.”
I blinked at him. He raised both eyebrows: are you really going to start misbehaving now?
I bent over.
A smooth, hard curve of leather touched the back of my left thigh. The belt I’d picked out and so arrogantly draped over my shoulders. It nudged between my legs. I moved my feet apart.
“Wider,” Sean said.
I widened my stance, and it seemed to satisfy him. I wasn’t going to lose my balance, but he could certainly see everything he came here to see.
“I’m going to hit you with this belt,” he said. “Once. And then I’m going to put on these suits I was supposed to be trying on before you got mouthy with me. And I’m going to make my decisions, and you’re going to help me. We’re going to pick out shirts and ties, and pocket squares, if you like. Then we’re going to go home, and I am going to fuck you until you can’t walk right. But first—” He tapped the looped end of the belt between my legs, twice. I jerked, but maintained my pose.
“Are you ready, baby?” he asked.
I nodded, trying to relax my legs. Trying to let the muscles go loose, so they’d absorb the shock better. He ran the edge of the belt down the backs of my thighs, like a razor against the grain. I shivered.
“This is going to hurt.”
I nodded. He was right. It was going to hurt like hell, but at least he wasn’t going to use the buckle end.
He put his hand on the small of my back, steadying me.
I love you, I wanted to say. I love you.
He laid that belt across the backs of my thighs with a force and precision that took my breath away. The stripe of fire that followed a split second later made me gasp, the sound halfway to a sob.
“Mr. Poole?” Hayley called, her voice concerned.
Sean squatted next to me so he could look me in the eyes. One hand rubbed over the lines he’d put on my legs. The other touched my chin, glided up my jaw, ran back through my hair.
“Mr. Poole? Is everything all right in there?”
“Good girl,” he murmured in my ear, then sat back on the bench, pulling me into his lap. He put his arms around me, his lips against my jaw, his eyelashes tickling the fine hair at my temple. “God,” he whispered, “Talia, I love you so much.”
“Fine, Hayley,” he said. “Just dropped my phone. Surprised me.”
“Okay.” She didn’t sound convinced. “How’s everything fitting?”
“Perfect,” he said. He touched my chin with one fingertip, turning my face to his. He ran gentle fingers over my cheeks, one at a time, then pressed his lips to mine. I felt him smile against my mouth before he pulled away. “Perfect.”