I look over the document that he placed on the desk in front of me, my trepidation growing with each passing second. Soft limits? Hard limits? WTF? A weird tingling dread seeps over me, catching in my throat. The more words I read, the more my stomach sinks, heading for the basement of Escala and possibly freefalling even further.

Blinking, I try to concentrate on the words, stumbling over so many that make no damned sense to me at all, not in any relationship context. Biting? Wax play? Fisting? Anal fisting? Good God, does that mean what it implies? And for the love of all that's holy… why? Why on earth would someone do that? Why would someone ever want that? Suspension? Genital clamps? Whipping?

A wave of disgust is gathering, building, a tsunami of anger and indignation, growing and running at the shore of my self-esteem with the speed of a runaway freight train. Oh, this explains so very much. That beautiful Adonis, oh so smooth, rich, cultured, arrogant… Machiavelli reborn. Or possibly the Marquis de Sade. Damn but I was such a fool to think he could ever want me for me. I know I'm inexperienced, but I'm not stupid enough to give anyone carte blanche over my body. I'm nobody's sex slave! A tremor runs through me as I wonder for a fleeting moment – how many others, and what happens when he's done with them? Does he sell them off overseas? Ruined broken females that turn him a secret and tidy profit? My gut twists, and I barely hold back the nausea.

Words. I hear words somewhere beyond the roaring of the building wave. Bits of speech I snag in between the racing heartbeat pounding in my ears. "…Friday through Sunday… available to me… take it slow… won't do…" Snippets of CEO-babble, negotiating terms for another business acquisition. My shock, revulsion and anxiety morphed into pure elemental rage at the abomination standing next to me.

I turned the pages back to their original position, then got to my feet, looked him square in the eye, letting him see the festering loathing that bubbled inside me. His eyes went wide, and surprise had him leaning back on his heels, his adam's apple bobbing.

"What the hell kind of sick depravity is this?" I spit at him. "You're nothing more than some twisted, diabolically corrupt pervert in human form. No sane person would ever agree to this shit! Certainly not me."

His demon eyes blazed at my accusation, his stance widened, his shoulders squared to defend.

"Pain and pleasure are two sides of the same coin," he countered.

"No, they're the same thing. Same nerves transmitting signals. Pleasure is one frequency, pain another. And pain was designed to be a warning."

"Immense pleasure can be gained through careful application of pain."

"Only for someone who's beyond royally fucked-up."

I saw his eyes narrow, saw his jaw work as he clenched his teeth, his anger growing. This was getting me nowhere. Time for me to get the heck out of Sadist-ville. I turned, leaned across the chair I'd been sitting on to grab my purse.


Before the pain from the swat even registered, before a thought could form, instinct and training violently reacted. My leg lashed back in a lightning fast mule kick. Heel meet Balls meet Spine!

He crumpled to a fetal ball, hissing through his teeth, his face a contorted mask of excruciating agony. I watched him for a moment, the sting radiating from my ass, satisfied that payback was indeed a bitch. Go find the pleasure in that, you fucking psycho. I shouldered my purse, turned my back on that warped wad of pond scum, threw open the door to his office so hard it crashed into the wall, impaling the knob.

A red haze of livid anger tinged my sight as I stomped my way across the great room, heading straight for the main doors. I threw open the one side, hearing it satisfyingly bang, kept moving through the foyer toward the elevator. Taylor came flying down the side hallway, sliding to a stop between me and the elevator.

"Miss Steele? Is everything all right?"

"Get out of my way." It came out more like a low growl.

"If you wish to go home, Mr. Grey has the helicopter and another pilot on standby. Let me just input the elevator code to get you to the roof."

I took a step back, let him press the call button. The doors opened immediately and he stepped in. It took me a second to realize he was coming with, so I willed my legs to move forward again, stood on the opposite side of the car. The doors closed and we headed up one floor, the soft ping announcing our arrival.

Taylor headed out first and I followed. He took me directly to the passenger size of the chopper, and I saw another man scramble out of a side office and climb in the pilot's side. I managed my own way into the seat, but Taylor then leaned in, began securing my safety harness.

"Steven, Miss Steele is to be taken directly back to Portland. I'll have a car waiting when you arrive. You are to escort her to her front door."

"Got it, T."

The last buckle clicked, and Taylor gave me a tight forlorn smile.

"Safe flight, Miss Steele."

"Thank you. Oh, and you might want to call a doctor for your boss."


"He'll probably need a medical specialist to pry his nuts out of his vertebrae."

The look of horror, and the tinge of green that washed over his face made me smirk. With a hard gulp, he backed away then locked down my door, beating a hasty retreat. I settled back into the seat, listened distractedly as the pilot went through his pre-flight checks and powered up the rotors. As the anger and adrenaline dissipated, a sense of righteous satisfaction bloomed.

Ray Steele's daughter didn't take crap from anyone! Thanks, Daddy!