When I began publishing, I considered my books to be erotica. Nevertheless, even my earliest work included a generous portion of romance. In Raw Silk, my first novel, the heroine embarks on a wild and uninhibited journey of sexual discovery, but ultimately she commits to the Master who initiates her into the joys of surrender. My second novel, Miranda’s Masks, likewise involves a lot of kinkiness and hanky panky, but concludes with a marriage (though not necessarily with monogamy).
I began writing for Totally Bound in 2006. Most of my titles during the next ten years would be labeled as romance, though as I’ve shared before, I struggled with some of the constraints imposed by the romance genre – especially the expectation that romance heroines usually don’t have sex with anyone other than the hero(es)! (And certainly not with the female secondary characters...!) My imagination runs to the pan-sexual, so I chafed under these rules.
You’ll find lots of love in my Totally Bound books. However, the most romantic thing I’ve ever produced (in my personal opinion) didn’t get written until after I’d thrown off the shackles of market expectations and started self-publishing. At that point, I could write what I want, including scenes and activities that would get me banned from standard romance. And yet I produced an intensely emotional romance in which the protagonists are completely focused on one another, where there’s no hint of any other sexual attraction, where the entire book involves the roller coaster of feelings as the heroine and hero struggle to bridge their differences and create a relationship.
That book is The Gazillionaire and the Virgin. It’s really different from anything else I’ve written – pure romance (though it has a lot of kinky sex). So I thought, for Valentine’s Day, the day of romance, I’d offer you an excerpt – and give away a free copy of the novel to someone who comments!
It won’t go away. All through the day—every day—need gnaws at my spirit. Whether I’m reading my email, meeting with my board of directors, preparing a presentation, closing a deal to acquire a promising start-up, discussing deployment of the next release with my engineering managers, I can’t shake the sense that something critical is missing. In yoga class, the aching knot just above my solar plexus doesn’t unwind, no matter how deeply I breathe. Driving to work, I have to force myself to pay attention. Otherwise, I drift off into recollections of my time with Theo—what he did, what he said, how I responded.
I miss him, miss him dreadfully, though it’s been only four days since we were last together. We’ve Skyped every night since the weekend, but somehow that only makes the hunger worse. When I see him there on my screen, grainy and over-exposed, all I want is to touch him—to brush the unruly hair off his forehead, to stroke his cheek, to trace the line of his plump, sensitive lips with my thumb. To offer up my own mouth for him to claim it, tear off my blouse and press my tits against his solid chest, sink to my knees and beg him to take me.
I’d be more than willing to strip and perform for him, to act out whatever lewd actions he ordered, but he refuses to become involved in any sort of phone or cyber-sex. “Everyone’s listening in,” he asserts. “The government. The neighbors. What you and I do should be private.” So we chat about safe topics—our work, what we’ve been reading, where we should go for dinner next weekend. All the while, lust burns in those bright eyes of his. I know what he’s thinking. I’m thinking the same thing.
I’m not expecting him to call Thursday afternoon. The trill of my phone interrupts me as I’m giving Diane instructions for tomorrow. Still, the sound of his voice kindles a warm joy in the pit of my stomach as well as a wetness between my legs.
“Hi, Theo. What’s up?”
“I want you to come early tomorrow. Around noon.”
“I—um—I really can’t. I’ve got an all-day meeting up in San Francisco, some investors from India.”
“What? I can’t do that. These guys have come half-way around the world to talk to me about a franchise deal. Think of the potential profit! More than a billion people, a soaring GDP, and Internet growth that’s doubling every year…”
It’s the wrong thing to say. I realize this the moment the statement’s out of my mouth.
“So you care more about money than about me.” Not a whining complaint, but a dry statement of the facts, at least as Theo sees them.
“No, of course not, but I can’t put my personal life above my business…”
“You should.” I can picture his face, the stubborn set of his jaw as he retreats, distancing himself from me. “But never mind. Of course you’re too busy. I should have expected that.”
“Wait! Wait, don’t hang up, Theo.” I struggle to keep him engaged.
“What’s so important about tomorrow noon?”
“I want you to meet my sister. Ellen. She’s free for lunch tomorrow.”
“Can’t we do it Saturday?”
“She’s flying to Jamaica for a two week vacation with her partner Saturday morning.”
“What about when she gets back?”
“She doesn’t want to leave without talking to you. She says she’s worried about me, worried about our relationship. She’s afraid you’ll hurt me, break my heart.”
I’d never hurt you, I almost say, then understand I’m doing so at that very moment. And it feels horrible, like a knife twisting in my gut.
The wheels turn in my mind. Seeming a bit cool to the Indians might actually work to my advantage. And I really don’t want to disappoint Theo. “Hmm. Maybe I can reschedule the conference for Monday. I suspect they’d enjoy having a free weekend in the city… This means a lot to you, doesn’t it?”
“Ellen’s my only family. If you’re going to be my girl, the two of you should get to know each other.”
Am I your girl? I want to ask, but Diane’s still in the room, eyeing me curiously as she listens to my side of the conversation. “Okay, okay. I’ll see what I can do. Can I call you back in an hour?”
“Sure. Talk to you in an hour. Thank you, Rachel.”
“Well, I’m not sure yet. I mean, whether I can reschedule to Monday.”
“Thanks for trying at least. And Rachel?”
“Don’t make your conference too early Monday. I plan to keep you up late Sunday night.”
My breath catches, my nipples bead and my pussy clenches. I hope Diane doesn’t notice.
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And Happy Valentine’s Day!