A Matter of Discipline (The Studio, Book 1) by DawnMarie Richards
Life holds few surprises for unconventional photographer Blake Vince. But when he’s bowled over by the new town librarian, and catches sight of the less than proper novel she’s reading, he makes the naughty little bookworm an indecent proposal.
Marion Hertz is resigned to confining her dark desires between the covers of her racy paperbacks. After all, she has her reputation to consider. But when the dark and mysterious Mr. Vince makes her a shocking offer, she finds it impossible to refuse.
The two soon discover passion plays by its own rules. Marion’s naïve submission tempts Blake at every turn, and what was meant to be a lesson in restraint for her becomes, for him, A Matter of Discipline.
Content Notes: Hot, Contemporary, Light BDSM
A small ping alerted Blake to an incoming text as he exited the coffee shop. Reaching into the inner pocket of his suit coat, he retrieved the phone. He used both hands to unlock the screen, bumping open the door with his hip.
As he stopped to read the message, dipping his head to see over his sunglasses, the door closed behind him. Two more pieces sold. Smiling, he resituated his phone and started forward. But before he took a step, an unknown force stopped him cold.
With a grunt of shock, he realized someone had plowed into him—a woman. The force of impact knocked the glasses off her face and a book from her hands. Curiously, her concern seemed solely for the tumbling novel. He watched her fumble for it, the frantic, futile grasping of her hands. She only succeeded in dislodging the dust jacket so it landed separately from the other two items.
For a stunned moment, neither of them moved.
Then Blake’s gaze wandered to the stripped book on the pavement between their feet. Black gothic lettering proclaimed the title, A Matter of Discipline. Provocative, but relatively ambiguous, if not for the rest of the art work: a woman in silhouette, wearing a corset and bending over a whipping bench, in the foreground. Behind her—arranged on the wall like a masochistic coat of arms—hung cuffs, a ball gag, and clamps underscored by a crisscrossed crop and whip.
Blake’s glance jumped to the other cover, tented on the sidewalk and skittering in the light breeze. Sense and Sensibility. He turned to her, tempering the smirk tugging at the corners of his mouth and wondering what other secrets the seemingly demure young woman might be hiding.
Without warning, she dropped to her knees in front of him, becoming part of the chaotic tableau, tendrils of sweet strawberry blonde hair screening her expression. His gaze wandered to her jutting bottom and the valiant struggle of her tan pencil skirt to maintain modesty as she bent forward, her fingers stretching wide. The innocent off-center bow on the neckline of her short-sleeve black sweater failed to distract him from the amazing curve and push of her breasts as her hands came down over the paperback in an obvious, though pointless, attempt to shield it from view. A beautiful disaster. He wished he had his camera.
Angling over her, he slid his hand beneath her elbow. The innocuous touch sent her scrambling over the cement on her knees, making him wince. She snatched up the wayward dust jacket and novel and hugged them to her heaving chest.
When she showed no sign of moving, Blake squatted down next to her, reaching for the forgotten glasses. After checking them for damage, he placed them on her face, trailing his fingers over the shells of her ears before cupping her cheeks, his thumbs framing her mother of pearl pink lips. He tipped her head up, taking in the startling cool green of her eyes and the warm heat kissing her cheeks. The tension he’d first felt in her melted away, her shoulders sinking low. She wrapped his wrist with the fingers of her free hand, the skin smooth and soft as it cuffed him.
Slowly, he got to his feet bringing her up with him, their gazes locked. Her lips parted slightly. The power of the invitation stunned Blake. Without thought, he began to lower his head.
Her eyes went wider, still, before slanting to the side, lids sliding low.
The two whispered words dispelled the trance. He dropped his hands to his sides, her withdrawn touch a phantom on his skin. She mumbled an apology before brushing past him, eyes squarely on the tips of her sensible ballet flats.
Blake turned to watch her go, the pneumatic door allowing him enough time to see her take her place in line. She kept her back to him, her shoulders hunched forward as if she were trying to disappear into herself. The door shut with a quiet click, screening her from view behind its tinted glass.
He shook his head. What the hell was that? He looked at the smoky glass in confusion and then spun on his heel, intent on leaving. He got no more than a few steps before turning back to the door, hoping for another glance. When no one entered or exited, he shoved his hands into his pants’ pockets and concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other.
He’d taken about twenty steps before giving in to the urge to check once more. She’d emerged, somehow managing to juggle a coffee cup and small brown pastry bag while opening her book and turning in the opposite direction. Without questioning the logic, he pivoted, telling himself he simply wanted to be sure she got wherever she was going without any other incidents. The thought of her body pressed to a random stranger’s had him lengthening his stride.
She made herself an easy target being so oblivious to her surroundings, he reasoned. Didn’t she have someone in her life to tell her what an unsafe habit she’d developed? If she were his, he’d cure her of the practice in a hurry, putting her over his knee and giving her a good spanking with the book from her very own hand.
Blake stopped in his tracks. What the fuck am I doing?
His eyes continued to track her without really seeing, head turning as she took a sharp right, crossed the street, and trotted up the front steps of a large brick building. In a fog, his gaze ascended the façade. Etched into a marble slab over the door were the words, Eaton Public Library.
“You’ve got to be kidding me.”
His curious morning diversion had devolved into sitcom absurdity. Did the naughty little book worm actually work at the library? He had to find out.
Taking off his sunglasses as he entered the cool quiet, he waited while his eyes adjusted to the muted lighting. After a quick scan of the cavernous room he spotted her behind the front desk, chatting amicably with another woman.
He sidled behind the nearest stack and watched. The focus of his attention attended to every word the other woman spoke, making occasional and brief responses. She appeared at ease, authoritative, and in control. Completely at odds to the bumbling creature she’d been in front of the coffee shop. The contradiction fascinated him.
And then she laughed. The chiming lilt made him hard, zipper-teeth-gnawing-into-turgid-flesh hard. Stifling a groan, he leaned into the shelving.
When he hazarded another peek, she was shaking her head, as if in disapproval of her unguarded outburst. Still chuckling, she pivoted and went through the doorway behind the desk. The door closed with a tiny click, the scripted, gold lettering on the door identifying the object of his unexpected obsession–Marion Hertz, Managing Librarian
Liquid Silver | Amazon | B & N | iBooks | Kobo
DawnMarie Richards’ grandmother introduced her to the romance novel, providing an endless, ever-changing supply of dog-eared Harlequins from a stash kept in a paper grocery bag. As a romance author, DawnMarie writes what she most enjoys reading— passionate love stories spiked with sensual heat in all the right places. She delights in doing that very thing from her home in southern Arizona, which she shares with her husband and their crazy dog, Rand. Want more? Visit www.dawnmarierichards.com.