“Are you comfortable?”
She nodded in the darkness, unsure if the tumultuous excitement brimming inside reached the realm of comfortable, but this was exactly where she wanted to be—the point she’d waited so long to reach.
This was it, the moment Scarlet Farrow had been anticipating for three grueling months. In the darkness of her mind, colors swirled, forming a tapestry of imagined characteristics for this mysterious man. He was her every hidden fantasy come to life.
Warmth bloomed low in her belly as she breathed in his mysterious presence, savoring every memorized detail of the stranger who’d somehow heightened her passions and laid her bare —all prior to setting eyes on him. There was no way to define the array of emotion he provoked in her.
Her throat went dry as his fingertip ghosted over her larynx, barely touching, utterly titillating. Only he could provoke such a reaction, simply whisper one question and call her entire being into compliance.
The cool air of the room chilled her exposed shoulders, yet her skin burned for every long awaited caress. There was something about blindness that awakened the senses, goaded courage, and turned vulnerability into raw hunger. Need.
She had no idea what the room looked like, how it was dressed or furnished. According to her other senses, she imagined it massive, with high reaching ceilings and walls somewhat vacant.
From the beginning he’d claimed to know what she required, but after years of disappointing blind dates and lackluster sex, Scarlet was initially skeptical. She’d been wrong. He knew what she needed, and through many lessons in patience and honesty, a side of her she never anticipated surfaced for him. Every fleeting moment in the company of Mr. Stone was worth the seemingly endless waiting—he was that impressive.
Burgeoning trust turned to pure, carnal need. It was the liaison of a lifetime, a masterpiece of emotions tied into this, their last moment of blindness, when all would finally be unveiled.
She’d done everything he’d asked, followed every meticulous command down to the last detail. Unsure of his physique or even the expression he wore, her attraction had nothing to do with his body or the smoldering way his gaze scrutinized her nakedness. Perhaps his eyes didn’t smolder at all, but his words, his tone, always spoke of an intensity that went beyond the physical and sent her insides ablaze.
She craved his drugging affection with every aching piece of her soul.
He aroused her, not physically, but with intellect, challenging her, pressing her, and unraveling her until the physical need rivaled the screaming desire for his total possession. Simply put, he saw her. Exposed. Vulnerable. Raw.
“I need you present, Ms. Farrow.”
Understanding the magnitude of this moment, she reassured him every part of her being was invested in the now. “I’m here, Mr. Stone. Always here.”
Her body shivered, as her spine lengthened, pulling her shoulders back as her shins pressed into the cool floor. He’d stripped her of more than her clothing. Stripped away her veils, stripped away her ego, stripped away her choice, and all at her eager consent.
The soft click of his shoes over exposed floor halted her breath, reminding her that he was clothed, holding the upper hand to her vulnerable nudity. The echoes, found only in drafty openness of this place, were now familiar.
Never in her life had she placed so much trust in another, let alone in an absolute stranger. He was an unexpected risk, a secret others wouldn’t understand. Coming here was a brave decision and she had no regrets. Never before had she been so proud of her courage.
“You’re pleased.” It wasn’t a question, but a confident observation.
He saw through her facades, unveiled the parts of her the rest of the world never bothered to see. He exposed her soul, her bare need, and her darkest desires.
It would be impossible to lie to him. Lips twitching with a hidden smile, she confessed, “I am.”
“And so you should be. It’s been quite a journey.”
Breath dragged into her lungs with each ragged inhalation as if filling her up like a balloon that would soon pop. Everything they’d built together rested in this final moment of truth.
Eagerness to rush forward had her trembling. His finger caressed the soft pad of her lower lip and the sharp rush of familiar excitement came with the touch of his flesh to hers, rocking her off balance.
Her chin quivered as the backs of his soft nails traveled over her jaw, behind her ear, and down her throat. His touch was always so tender, almost hesitant and slightly reverent. It was revealing in a way, because he embodied confidence, control, and patience, yet his gentle touch sometimes spoke of diffidence.
Those refined caresses resembled unspoken secrets, so worshipful and vulnerable in a way she couldn’t comprehend. Whoever he was outside of this room, beyond his power, she believed he was innately kind.
“It isn’t fair for a woman to hold such beauty,” he whispered.
His thumb coasted over the soft curve of her throat, tripping slowly over each ridge of her larynx, teasing the slight curve of her collarbone. Her nipples tightened painfully as the anticipation breathed like fire in her pulsing veins. Her nerves never rested in his presence.
What he so carefully built between them went beyond mere sexual titillation. It was deep, plunging far past the shallow reality most couples shared. Mr. Stone was a man of few words so she savored every confession, every clue, every query, each one a fragment of the masterpiece of this mysterious man.
“When I read your letter, I knew there was something special about you, Ms. Farrow. While there was courage in your words, I sensed the absolute desperation of your plea. True, you did not ask to be found—only to be heard—but I found you all the same. Genuine courage is not borne of fear. True courage takes action, despite the fear. You, my lady, feared what?”
So much. She feared leaving this world incapable of describing what it felt like to be loved. He was right. She hadn’t written the letter because she was brave. She’d written it because she was scared, terrified the life she’d led was all there would ever be.
“I feared always being alone.”
“Correct. Yet, you’ve given months to a complete stranger, trusting me to show you something that changes nothing of your predicament outside of these walls. Why?”
The burn of truth wasn’t as severe as it once had been. At this point, she was so exposed there was hardly anything left to hide. “I wanted to know what it felt like to be adored, cared for, placed at the top of someone’s priority list, Mr. Stone. You said you could give me that experience.”
“Do you feel you’ve achieved your goal, Ms. Farrow? Have you felt those very things?”
Her heart raced. “Yes.”
“And do you have any regrets, Ms. Farrow?”
He never bullied her or even pressured her. He merely offered, and while the entire turn of their correspondence had taken her off guard, it was her decision to go to him—on his terms and her trust.
The moment she agreed, life as she knew it was forever changed. Every instruction, every stipulation, disentangled another part of her. Desire bloomed into reckless curiosity as hidden secrets were slowly revealed.
“I have no regrets.”