Updated: Apr 5
This is a teaser for my BDSM romance novella, House of Hearts.
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I slide the last wine glass out of the bubble wrap and place it on the middle shelf, closing the cabinet door. I lean against the counter and let out a sigh.
“Finally unpacked, Chess,” I joke half-heartedly to the cat bustling around my feet, “well, sort of.”
Chess leaps onto the counter and I nuzzle my face into her fur as the sound of her purr intensifies. She wears a Cheshire smile just like the quirky cat from my favorite childhood books. When I’d noticed the similarity, at the shelter I found her in a few years ago, there really was no other name that would suit. She leaps off the table and waltzes in the direction of her empty food bowls. She meows and paws at them with dissatisfaction and I roll my eyes. Constantly hungry and always in need of attention, just like me.
I follow Chess, fill the food bowls and turn back round to survey the messy apartment as she devours her food. Empty boxes, piles of clothes and books are scattered everywhere. My mattress is leaning up against the wall in the bedroom. I need new furniture - a couch, a bed frame, some bookshelves, but that’s another mission for another day. I make my way to the bay window, settle onto the comfortable bench in front of it and peer through the drapes.
This spot, which overlooks a simple downtown view, is the reason I fell in love with the apartment. Well, that and the fact it was the only one I could get with my terrible credit score. I shake my head, and push away the unhappy thoughts, which led to my life being uprooted.
I grab my large purse off the floor and pull out my laptop and agenda, letting the bag fall back to the ground with a light thud. I power on the laptop and stare absentmindedly out of the window as Chess claims her spot next to me, gazing happily out at the view of the busy street below. The move to a big city has proved challenging as a small-town girl, but I count myself lucky that my life as a freelance writer allowed me to do such a thing when I needed it the most.
Finding an apartment I could afford right in the middle of downtown London seemed like an impossible task, but luck, fate, or whatever else was at play, found me here. This one-bedroom apartment above a pharmacy is located a few doors down from what seems to be a commonly frequented bar. Although my partying days are behind me, the idea of slipping down for a drink whenever I want is enticing.
As for the hustle and bustle of city life - the ideas and inspiration to write always come easier at a busy cafe or library. My muse is at her most powerful when I can get lost in creating a world entirely my own, through sci-fi novels, while being surrounded by the chaos of this world.
I flip through my agenda and sigh at the never-ending blocks of highlighted text. Various deadlines and notes scribbled in the margins show a busy schedule for the next few weeks. No rest for the self-employed, that’s for sure. Writing for various publications and constantly searching for new projects can be exhausting and frustrating, but it’s how I will eventually finance the novels I’m working on, or at least that’s what I tell myself. There’s a real possibility that Chess will be the only one who ever hears the ideas I’ve spent the last three years perfecting. I make myself comfortable on the bench and get lost in my current project.
After a few hours, I glance out of the window and notice a crowd of people gathering on the street. I crack the window open and Chess immediately pokes her head out, fascinated by the new noises and smells. I breathe in the crisp November air and hear the faint thumping of the music coming from the bar.
My mind flashes back to the night that everything changed. We had only been dating a few months when he said he wanted to take me out on the town to celebrate a promotion he’d just received at work. My heart pounds and my eyes snap shut as I see images of whiskey and cigarettes shared between us, his hands around my waist as we dance, his tongue in my mouth as we kiss, my attempt to say goodnight after a drunken argument, and his refusal to let me go home. His harsh grip on me as he pulled me into the alley behind the club. All the horrible things that followed are etched into my memory. It’s been over three years now since my assault, and while some days the vivid flashbacks make it seem all-too-real, other times it feels fabricated, something too horrible to be true.
I let out a sigh and shake my head again, attempting to clear the thoughts from my mind. I breathe in and breathe out, visualizing each breath as a passing emotion, the good entering, and the bad leaving. This exercise has helped me many times since the first time I tried it in my therapist's office.
I open my eyes and blink away the mist that’s gathered there, grabbing my agenda and scrawling another note in the margin: “find a new therapist.” Moving to a new city is exciting until you realize you have no one here to support you. With no siblings and parents who would dare dream of leaving the small town they’ve lived in all their lives, I knew starting over would mean being alone.
Although I’m tired from the day and emotionally exhausted, as soon as the flashback fades and the excited crowd of people in line for the bar come into focus, I feel a sudden adventurous urge. New city, new me. I deserve to have some fun. I will not let some lowlife asshole ruin this for me, too.
I close my laptop and slide it onto the bench in front of me, scanning the room quickly before finding the box with “shoes” written across the side. Give a woman the right pair of shoes, and she can conquer the world. I wander over to the box and rip it open, rummaging around to find a pair of strappy black heels. I slide them on and strip the hairband from my hair, letting my messy brunette curls flow down around my shoulders. I run my fingers through the waves as I check my appearance in the mirror leaning against the wall next to the door.
“Considering I drove 6 hours and unpacked an entire moving van by myself, then carried everything up 4 flights of stairs, I think I look pretty good,” I chuckle to Chess, who’s now absentmindedly cleaning herself on the bench.
I grab my smaller purse off the table and feel around inside for the small perfume bottle I tucked in there earlier. Giving myself a little spritz of my favorite lavender-scented perfume, I shove my wallet into my bag and scan the counter for my keys. The jingle of the keys alerts Chess, and she leaps off the bench and strides over to the door.
“Don’t worry. I’ll be back soon, Chess. You stay here. Good girl.”
She meows quietly in protest and I open the door slightly, moving her out of the way with my foot. I squeeze myself through the small gap, closing the door quickly and locking it behind me.
Out on the street, the music from the club is steady and loud. As I get closer to the bar, the baseline picks up and my heart beats a little faster. It’s been so long since I allowed myself to have fun. After a brief wait in the winding line of strangers, I finally make my way into the bar and immediately feel a rush of excitement. Leaving my apartment was a good choice. The music is so loud I can feel the vibrations in my feet. I exhale happily as I make my way to the middle of the dance floor. I lose myself entirely in the music, swaying my hips to the beat and feeling the music pulse through me. I don’t know how many songs pass as I close my eyes and let every ounce of uncertainty, fear, and doubt fade away. Eventually, my need for a stiff drink overwhelms my desire to keep dancing and I find myself at the bar.
I’m examining the drink choices on a menu scribbled behind the counter when I notice the bartender. He’s tall and cute, and I find myself mesmerized by him in a way I can’t explain. I watch his strong hands as he washes glasses. I take note of the way he moves around behind the bar, there’s an air of quiet confidence to him. He swiftly makes drink after drink for drunk and sloppy customers, and I glance around to notice he’s the only bartender on the floor.
Watching how busy he is makes me silently thank the universe I’m not a bartender. I can’t imagine the kind of nonsense he must deal with.
Out of the corner of my eye, I notice a petite blonde woman in a tight black skirt and dark red blouse with the first three buttons undone, just enough to give a peek at the black lace bra underneath. I glance down at my own outfit and immediately feel a rush of annoyance and embarrassment. The strappy high heels are about the classiest part of my look.
I doubt the cute bartender will even notice me in this crowd. No chance of getting a drink, even less chance of anything else happening. Just as the thought pops into my head, I notice him staring at me, his expression inquisitive, as if waiting for a response. He must have asked me something.
“Sorry, I was somewhere else,” I let out a chuckle, slightly embarrassed and flustered.
“Don’t worry, I get it. That’s the best place to be sometimes,” he smiles.
He asks what my order will be. His voice is smooth and gentle, it sends a shiver through my spine.
“Vodka, soda and a shot of tequila, please.”
He flips a small glass around in his hands and begins to mix my drink. I try not to stare, but it’s impossible. There’s something about his presence that makes me feel warm and comfortable. He shoots a glance in my direction and I attempt to look away, but his blue eyes catch the light and hold my attention. A surge of exhilaration shoots through me and I’m lost in the feeling, entirely fixed by his eyes as he speaks.
“I’ve not seen you in here before. What’s your story?” His words are accompanied by the sound of genuine interest, but my hesitation to respond gives away my doubt.
“What? I like stories. Everyone’s got one,” he shrugs as he hands me my drink and starts preparing the lime for my tequila shot, “so, what’s yours?”
“I’m sorry to disappoint,” I laugh. I can’t help but notice his posture shift at the sound. “I just wanted a change. I’ve never lived in a city before, I thought I’d give it a try.”
I keep my answer short and sweet with the hope of hearing his delicious voice again and avoiding the absolute mess of my life’s story from the past few years.
His next words are spoken in a soft, suggestive tone, “well, if you ever need a tour guide...”
The idea of being shown around London by a cute bartender who just happens to work close to my apartment sends a shot of excitement through me.
“I have a friend who runs a tour company, I could get you a great discount,” he finishes his sentence with a wicked smirk that tells me he knows exactly what he’s doing.
I let out another giggle and take a large sip of my drink. He’s a tall, blue-eyed stranger who makes strong drinks and has a good sense of humor. I bite my lip and immediately take another drink, hoping he doesn’t notice.
“I might just take you up on that, actually. I’m clueless when it comes to directions.”
“Sometimes you find the best things when you’re lost,” he hands me the shot of tequila with a lime wedge on the rim and raises one of his own, “cheers, to getting lost.”
Our glasses clink together and we down our shots, each biting into a slice of lime directly after. My face scrunches at the sourness and he lets out a laugh.
“It’s been a long day, okay?” I smile, playfully shaking my head and taking another sip of my drink to wash down the bitter lime aftertaste.
“A vodka drink and a shot of tequila, I figured as much,” he grins shyly as he wipes the bar down in front of him.
I can tell he’s taking his time here, he’s got plenty of other customers trying to get his attention. He seems as though he’s about to ask another question when a man at the end of the bar holds up his hand and obnoxiously exclaims he’s ready for another, while simultaneously spilling what’s left of his drink onto the petite blonde sitting next to him. She and her friends jump out of their chairs, also noticeably drunk, and start yelling at the oblivious man.
“Duty calls,” his voice trails off as he motions towards the commotion.
“Yeah, you have to do something about that, right?” I hope he can’t hear the disappointment in my voice at our conversation being cut short.
He gives me a nod and discreetly hands me another tequila shot, “welcome to London,” he says with a grin, as he turns on his heel and marches to the end of the bar to talk to the security guard who now has the drunk man by the arm.
I down the second tequila shot and chase it with the rest of my vodka drink. I follow him with my eyes, watching his mouth move as he talks to the security guard. The squareness of his jaw and the way he moves his lips makes me think about being attached to them. I contemplate waiting at the bar for another chance to talk to him, but I don’t think my wallet can afford any more drinks.
A familiar song comes on and I find myself again on the dance floor, swaying and moving to the beat of the music. The floor is packed with people and the music is loud. I attempt to sway and lose myself in the music but all I can think about are the bartender’s eyes, his hands, his lips, his voice, the stubble on his face, which would feel so good between my legs. I attempt to steal a glance back at the bar throughout the next few songs but I don’t manage to make eye contact with him again.
Soon, it’s closing time and I feel myself being herded with the mass of people to the exit. One last glance at the bar sees the cute bartender wiping down shot glasses and putting away bottles of liquor. I inhale a deep breath of cold night air as I step outside, my mind still stuck on the bartender. The way he sighed after he laughed and the scent of his cologne is still fresh in my mind as I climb the stairs and fumble with the keys in my purse to unlock my door.
Pushing the door open, I shake my head at the mess and think about all the work I have to do tomorrow to get settled. I lock the door behind me and toss my keys into the bowl on the counter. I slip off my heels and sigh. There really is no feeling like a woman sliding out of her heels at the end of the night.
Chess darts between my legs excitedly, almost causing me to fall. I scold her gently and fill her bowls with food. She meows in gratitude and enjoys her middle-of-the-night snack as I wander to the bedroom, sliding myself out of my tight jeans and stripping off my top along the way. I push my mattress off the wall and it lands on the ground with a light thud. I unclasp my bra, tossing it to the side of the room, and slide down onto the mattress. I silently praise myself for putting fresh sheets on it as soon as I unpacked them.
Lying there in nothing but my panties, I feel the cool air in the apartment coating my body in goosebumps. My head is swimming from the alcohol but my mind is clear and focused on one thing...the bartender.
Every part of our small interaction replays in my head like a movie. The idea of his touch against my warm, soft skin sends tingles throughout my body.
As I replay his voice and his laugh in my head, my fingertips trail down my chest, drawing little circles around my nipples. I pinch them gently, calling them to attention. I imagine him kissing my neck gently as he takes my nipples in his hands, giving a firm squeeze as his lips move down my body. Taking one of my nipples in his mouth, he would flick it around with his tongue while his other hand trails down my ribcage.
My hand grips my outer thigh as my fingertips move down my stomach, sliding my hand between the soft fabric of my panties and my warm skin. I imagine his hand placed firmly on my thigh as his lips move down my stomach, planting kisses and little bites all along my torso as I squirm and giggle. A hazy smile paints my face and I bite my lip as I slide my finger onto my clit and start rubbing in lazy circles. My head tilts back onto the pillow and my back arches as I slide two fingers deep inside my already wet opening, allowing my free hand to massage my tits as I slowly thrust into myself.
I imagine his firm, yet gentle hands around my neck, cementing his ownership over me. My hand travels up to my neck and my fingernails dig into the sides of my throat as my fingers move in and out of me, faster and harder. I imagine his kisses and bites getting more intense and more passionate as I get closer and closer to the edge of bliss.
I’m not sure if it’s the alcohol or the haze of desire, but I feel the need to slow down and make this last. My fingers slide out of my pussy and settle back onto my clit, spreading my wetness around. I move my fingers in slow, deliberate circles, fantasizing about the tall, cute bartender.
I imagine his cock teasing me, pressing up against my clit, sliding down and plunging into my wet pussy before sliding back out again. I can almost feel his hands roaming my body as my own trail along my rib cage once more. I slide three fingers back into my soaking wet pussy and know that I won’t be able to wait any longer as soon as the next wave of tension builds.
I fuck myself slowly at first, relishing the idea of his dick moving rhythmically in and out of me, as his lips linger on mine. A little bite on my bottom lip and the intense look in his eyes would give away the urge he has to take me as his own after so much delicious teasing. My fingers move faster in and out of me at the thought, and my breathing becomes heavy and hard. My chest is heaving up and down and my toes curl as a few more movements allow a rush of cum to soak the bed beneath me.
I lie there, panting, hazy, and fascinated by the connection I feel to this stranger, and then it dawns on me...I don’t even know his name.