Nobody's Perfect (#4)
Savannah Gentry, now Savi Baker, escaped the abuse, torture, and degradation forced upon her by a sadistic father for eleven years and has made a safe life for herself and her daughter. When her father threatens her peace of mind--and her daughter's safety--Savi runs to Damian Orlando for protection. Eight years earlier, young Savannah shared one perfect day with Damian that changed both their young lives and resulted in a secret she can no longer hide. But being with Damian reawakens repressed memories and feelings she does want to keep hidden--buried. At Damian's private Masters at Arms Club, she discovers that sexual healing might be achieved through BDSM (Bondage, Dominance/submission, sadomasochism)—specifically SM administered by a loving Service Top named Damian.
Damian, a wounded warrior, has had his own dragons to fight in life, but has never forgotten Savannah. He will lay down his life to protect Savi and her daughter, but doesn't believe he can offer more than that. She deserves a whole man, something he can never be after a firefight in Iraq. Damian also has turned to SM to regain control of his life and emotions and fulfills the role of Service Top to "bottoms" in the club in need of catharsis by whipping or other SM practices he is skilled at delivering. But he could never deliver that level of pain to Savi, who needs someone gentle and loving, not the man he has become. But when Savi witnesses a cathartic whipping scene on her first night at the club--delivered by Damian--she begins to wonder if this Damian could also help her regain control of her life and reclaim her sexuality and identity.
CONTENT WARNING: Readers who have a history of past abuse (sexual, physical, and emotional) may be triggered by scenes in this story. Before reading this book, please be aware that it is primarily about an incest survivor dealing with the sexual aftermath of years of abuse. She has dealt with non-sexual issues in years of therapy, but has tamped down anything related to sex. In this story, she struggles to find healing through a trusting, consensual BDSM relationship. If you believe that reading about PTSD flashbacks of incest, whipping for catharsis, mindf**ks, and related topics might be triggering for you, but you still choose to read it, please make sure you only read this book in a safe environment with supportive people available to you.
The BDSM scenes in this book (some of them beginning and advanced sadomasochism techniques) are the result of many conversations with submissives and Dominants who have worked through similar abuse issues using activities in the BDSM community and lifestyle. Therefore, the BDSM is portrayed as healing rather than titillating. If you are looking for the latter only, this might not be an enjoyable read.
But if you want to delve into the roller-coaster journey of a young couple trying to work through intense issues in a compelling story that pulls you into the characters' world and doesn't let you go, then you might find healing and entertainment in this story. The author, also a child-sexual abuse survivor, has found that writing the story has provided catharsis for her, and hopes other survivors who read it will see that they are survivors, too, and no one is ever so wounded she or he can't find love.
Damián and Savi rarely found themselves alone in the tiny apartment. Here they were alone on a Thursday evening—but in separate rooms. He decided now would be a good time to see if there could be something more with Savi. Hell, he'd been living a celibate life with her for two months. He'd never slept around, but he wasn't a monk, either. Having the woman of his dreams within reach and not being able to touch her was…
The smell of cinnamon and coffee invaded his mental ramblings, and he glanced down at his pinky ring. He sighed and sat on the bed to don his black stump sock and fitted the prosthesis over it, adjusting the fit. Didn't hurt too badly today. He'd try to go without the device more often, maybe while at work, so he didn't wind up with trouble he didn't need.
Damián walked through the apartment into the kitchen and watched as Savi poured two mugs nearly to the brim. Her ass was molded into a tight pair of faded jeans and he fought the urge to walk up behind her and place one hand on each denim-covered cheek, figuring he'd wind up with the contents of the coffeepot poured over him if he tried anything like that. Still, he couldn't keep himself from wanting to touch her.
A tray of cinnamon cookies hot from the oven lay on top of the stove. He'd always loved that smell as a kid.
Walking up beside her, he placed a hand lightly on her shoulder. She grew tense. Ignoring her discomfort, he bent down and gave her a peck on the cheek. Damn, her skin was soft. "You're an angel of mercy. How did you know I needed that?" He wasn't talking about coffee or cookies, either.
Not wanting to send her into a full-blown panic attack, though, he released her and took the mugs to the table, setting them down in fairly close proximity to each other. She followed with two cookies on her saucer and three on his.
He waited for her to sit down, then did the same, close to her. "Any plans for tomorrow?"
Savi moved her chair further away. Still running from him. "I thought maybe I'd do some shopping while Mari's in school."
No fucking way was she going anywhere alone. "Sounds good. I'll tag along. I don't have to be at the bike shop until day after tomorrow. They're waiting for some parts to be delivered."
"No, you can't go with me!"
Why the fuck not?
She blushed and his dick went into overdrive.
"I mean, well…" She took a sip of coffee, but grimaced and pursed her lips to blow into the mug. His dick strained against his jeans, imagining how it would feel to have her lips wrapped around his hard-on.
Cool it, Chico.
Savi avoided his gaze. "I mean, I can't take you with me. I, um, well…"
Spit it out, chica.
She nailed him with her sky-blue eyes. He'd take what he could get. If that's all she'd nail him with, then so be it. For now. "I didn't know it was your birthday 'til yesterday and I need to get you a present."
Now, this could work to his advantage. "You don't have to buy me anything."
"But I want to give you something. You've been so generous to put us up all this time."
Hell, he didn't want her to give him something out of a sense of obligation. "You don't owe me anything. I have a lot of lost time to make up for…with Marisol." He saw the hurt look in her eyes, but didn't want her to give him anything out of guilt, either. "Hey, I didn't say I don't want a present. I just said you didn't have to buy anything." He grinned.
She quirked an eyebrow, then a wary look crossed her face. She sat further back into the straight-backed chair. "What do you mean?"
"Do you want to know what I'd like from you for my birthday?"
If she could press her back any further into the chair, she would have. "What?"
Her gaze went to his lips, then back to his eyes. "Damián, I'm serious. I want to give you something special, but that's too…personal."
"I'm not talking about a curl-your-toes, take-your-breath-away kiss, unless that's what you'd like."
She shook her head like a scared little bunny in Marisol's cartoon movies, and he grinned, even though he wished she did want that, because he sure as hell did. "I just want to kiss you and have you kiss me back. Mutual give and take. No tongues. No hands below the waist."
Sounded like he was ordering an oil change off the quick-lube menu—top off the fluids, check the air filter, change the oil.
Neck? She wanted to neck? Fuck yeah! He grinned. I'd love to neck."
Her eyes grew wide. "I mean, no hands below the neck."
Damián's spirits deflated a bit. No, wait. It sure sounded like she was agreeing to kiss him, despite having narrowed down the playing field. There was a lot he could do in that region of the face, neck, and shoulders, so the battle wasn't lost yet. "Sounds good to me. I think that would be a fantastic present, Savi."
"When do you want me to give you your…present?"
"Why don't you let me surprise you?"
The wary look returned. Savi didn't like surprises. How fucking sad was that?
Without responding, she lifted her mug to her mouth and took a cautious sip, then a bigger one. She avoided looking at him when she set down the mug. Her lips were wet with coffee and Damián just about leaned over to kiss her then and there.
But anticipation would be good for them both, even if Savi didn't agree. He'd wait for the perfect moment to claim his birthday kiss.
* * *
All day long on Damián's birthday, Savi had been on edge. Every time he came near her, she steeled herself for the kiss she'd promised him. What had possessed her to agree to something as ridiculous as that? Well, that had an easy answer. Money. She didn't have any. What could she possibly buy Damián for his birthday that he'd actually want?
But a kiss? Could she afford the cost that gift would have on her psyche? She'd long ago stopped bartering parts of her body to men.
Damián entered the living room, where she'd been reading the same paragraph over and over for the last half hour. She held her breath. Would he claim his kiss now? Her heart drummed in her ears, and she had to remind herself to breathe again. When she looked up, he just grinned at her. The bastard knew the effect he was having on her. Why didn't he just take his damned birthday kiss and stop torturing her?
Instead, he walked into the bedroom, pulling off his shirt as he went, giving her a glimpse of his well-muscled back. She noticed he was limping again, worse than he had when they'd first met. If she asked about it, he'd just say it was nothing. Maybe Marc could take a look at it when they were at his house tonight for the party.
She looked through the doorway into the bedroom. Oh, this was totally ridiculous. Mari would be home in a couple hours and Savi would not let him kiss her in front of their daughter. All she needed was for Mari to think Savi and Damián were going to get married or fulfill some other childish princess fantasy of her daughter's. So not going to happen.
Savi got up from the sofa and walked into the bedroom. Expecting Damián to be in the bathroom getting ready for a shower, she was surprised to find him lying on the bed. Half naked. Luckily, the top half.
He grinned. "I'm ready for my kiss."