Last FREE read from Shattered Trust

Posted Aug 6 2014, 12:01 am

Today is my last FREE chapter I’ll be posting from Shattered Trust – please enjoy!


Chapter Five

On Wednesday afternoon, Liam pulled the final load of lunchtime dishes from the dishwasher when the creak of the door announced someone had entered the kitchen.

“I need you to tap a new keg of Bud Light,” Kate said from behind.

“No problem,” he replied over his shoulder—to no one as the door swung closed. He sighed.

That’s how it had been between since Sunday. Kate would give him an order then leave before he could respond. He didn’t fault her for acting this way. She’d owned up to a ton of shit, a reality that had to be eating her alive.

After drying his hands, he headed for the keg room. A part of him was grateful for the distance Kate put between them, but another part zinged with hurt at her aloofness considering what they’d shared. Well, what she’d shared.

Shit, St. James…get it together. You don’t want any of her drama.

He needed to keep his head down, his mouth shut and do his job, until he got his truck fixed. Once that happened, he’d be gone from Trustworthy.

In the keg room, he disconnected the used line for the Bud Light and placed the drained barrel off to the side then attached a new line to the fresh cask. Finished, he grabbed the old keg and turned.

Kate stood in the doorway, her arms crossed. As usual.

The sight of her slender body jolted him, and he nearly dropped the keg on his foot. “Hey…you surprised me.”

She didn’t look at him, but rather her gaze wandered the space. “You never put things back.”

He shifted. “No, I was gonna wait until after we got the next delivery.”

She stepped into the tiny room, and the room got even tinier. “This setup is more logical, isn’t it? Having the domestic beers in front does make it easier because they’re more popular, huh?”

He shrugged. “But the other way worked for a long time. I’ll put it back if you want.”

“No. Keep it this way. It’s better.” A small smile whispered over her lips. “In case you hadn’t noticed, change can be a hard thing for me.”

He tried to ignore how her modest smile snagged his breathing. She truly was a strikingly beautiful woman. Another shrug. “I’ll do whatever you want.”

Her gaze held his for a long heartbeat.

He looked away first. “I need to start the dinner prep.”

She blocked his exit. “I took your advice. I called a counselor. Several in fact.”

He wanted to jockey around her, but with the keg in his hands he couldn’t. Not without knocking her over. “That’s good.”

“I’ve got a problem, though. I don’t have insurance and they all charge over a hundred dollars an hour. I can’t afford that.” She looked down and scuffed her shoe along a floorboard. “So I was kinda hoping I could…pay you.”

“Pay me to do what?”

She lifted her head, her lips pressed together.

Realization punched him in the solar plexus. “You mean pay me and instead of a counselor?”

Her shoulders boosted up slightly. “Yes.”

The keg thudded to the floor. “But I’m not a counselor.”

“But you know…things, right?”

Oh, he knew a great many things, none of which she was prepared to learn. He perched a hip on the cask and rubbed the tightening muscles in his neck. “You’re not serious.”

She upped her chin. “I am serious. And this was your idea.”

Liam’s inner sadist perked up at her blatant defiance. He shoved it down. Now was not the time to unleash his sinister side because she didn’t mean that. She couldn’t. “My idea was for you to get professional help. Not ask me to play therapist so you can lie on the couch and talk about your problems.”

“Why not?”

Why not?

He stared at her. Was she honestly suggesting they talk? No way did he want to talk to her. Spank and whip her—make her shout his name…yes. On a couch, a bed. In the keg room right now…fuck yes. But talk? No way in hell.

She was his boss for crissakes, and he wasn’t some psychoanalyzing analyst. If anything went awry, the least that would happen is he’d get fired—again. The worst, she’d end up more fucked up than she already was. A possibility that had a cold sweat breaking out on his forehead.

The word “no” perched on his tongue, but refused to come out.

He’d be lying if he said he wasn’t attracted to Kate. With her shoulder-length hair so perfect for yanking and her pert ass so perfect for spanking and her lips so perfect for sucking his cock, she possessed all the physical attributes he enjoyed in a bottom.

But more than her desirability, she prodded the softer side of his dominant personality. The part that wanted to ease the hurt he inflicted. Yes, it was his nature to dominate in the bedroom, to taunt and torture, but he also took immense pleasure in the aftercare. The assurance that everything was all right—for everyone.

With startling clarity, Liam realized that’s what he wanted to do with—and for—Kate. Comfort her. Show her a different kind of a Top-bottom relationship. Demonstrate how wonderful and healthy such a bond could be.

He’d wanted that ever since her tormented utterance of her safe word.

What the fuck? Was he insane?

Kate’s pain and mistrust ran deep. Too deep to be remedied by someone like him. She needed an honest-to-God therapist and not him. Because he sure as shit didn’t want to “talk” with her.

So if he couldn’t say yes and he couldn’t say no, that left getting her to change her mind about him…helping her. And the best way to do that would be to explain to her exactly what his help would involve.

He abruptly stood. She flinched. He prowled toward her. She backed away.

“You should know,” he said in the silky voice he used when playing out a scene, “that I do most of my talking with my hands.”

A gasp puffed from her mouth. “What does that mean?”

“It means our…conversations will be physical. Not verbal.”

He pinned her to the wall, crowding her space, but not touching her. Her warm scent filled his senses, and his dick with blood. “You will submit to me.” He employed his best Dom voice, low and husky, with a hard edge that tolerated no denial.

She angled her face away from his. “N…no. That’s not what I’m paying you for.”

“You will pay me with your submission.” He tucked his index finger under her chin and brought her gaze back to his. “Whenever, wherever and however it pleases me.”

She closed her eyes and two twin teardrops leaked out. Her jaw trembled so hard, her teeth clicked. His Dom fairly danced with glee as his cock continued to swell.

She licked her lips, leaving a shiny path he longed to follow. “What if I can’t…submit?”

He dropped his hand and took a big step back. “Then nothing. We go back to the way things were.”

She huddled tight to the wall, her body shaking and her breathing ragged. He worried she might hyperventilate again.

After a slow, silent count to twenty, and she still hadn’t moved, Liam hoisted the empty keg and turned to leave.

“I don’t want to feel this way anymore.”

Her hushed words stumbled his feet to a halt. Fuck.

“Can you fix me?”

He slammed his eyes shut. Goddamn it! He didn’t want to look at her. He wanted to keep walking, out of the room and out of the Bluebird. Permanently. But that wasn’t going to happen. He glanced over his shoulder.

She still hugged the wall with her arms wound so tightly around her middle it was a wonder she could draw a breath. Her wide-eyed gaze snared him. Kept him rooted to the spot. She looked helpless, so fucking helpless, yet determination etched her mouth. She might be scared, terrified even, but she had grit. By God, she was beautiful.

He fortified his resolve. He wouldn’t allow himself to be wooed by her enticing vulnerability or her quiet courage. This dangerous plan needed to die—for both their sakes. He graced her with his wickedest grin. “When I’m done with you, you’ll be either fixed or broken completely.”

Her eyes ballooned as her mouth formed a perfect “o.”

Liam again pivoted toward the door. He had to get out of there before succumbing to her magnetism and agreeing to anything she wanted.

“All right.”

Goddamn it…no!

He kept his gaze on the doorjamb, not daring to look at her. “All right…what?”

She moved into his peripheral vision. “All right, I accept your conditions.”

He briefly closed his eyes then gave her a hard stare. “You need to be sure about this, Kate. Very sure.”

“I am.”

He shook his head. “You’re too emotional right now to be sure of anything.” He shifted the keg in his hands. “We’ll talk later, once you’ve thought long and hard about what you’re proposing. Then you can give me your answer.”

Not waiting for a response, he walked out.


 Sunday morning, Kate stirred her coffee and stared out her small kitchen window. Depression blanketed her shoulders. It had been three days since she proposed Liam “help” her. Three days and he hadn’t said a word.

Oh, he did his job, staying away from her. Far away. If he had a question about something, he went to Sedona. Even when he looked at her, it was like he was looking through her. Under different circumstances, she would have been grateful, but his detachment cut her to the quick.

She realized her plan was…reckless. Insane even. Yet she couldn’t stop thinking about it, or what he’d said. That he “talked” with his hands, and expected her to submit to him whenever, wherever and however. Her skin heated at the dark promise.

Her common sense had waged a mighty battle with her sick, irrational impulses over the past few days. But having been devoid of human contact for so long, her debased side was winning.

To further obscure the situation, she was extremely attracted to Liam, like a mouse to a scrumptious piece of cheese—perched in a deadly trap. But she wasn’t a young, naïve little girl like she had been with Ramon. She was a grown woman, able to control her destiny. She would not be a victim again. And to her core, she believed Liam could help her…

He’d said she needed to think before making a final decision. Well all she’d done was think and she had decided, which seemed moot because he obviously wasn’t interested.

A knock at her front door broke her melancholy. She answered it, struck dumb by the sight of Liam on her porch.

He wore his typical jeans and t-shirt with sunglasses hiding his eyes. Blood zipped through her veins and she felt faint. He slid his glasses to the top of his head.

His keen gaze swept over her clothing. Dressed in a beige camisole—no bra—and fuzzy pajama bottoms, she felt exposed. She crossed her arms to hide her hardening nipples and thrust out a hip in the vain attempt to appear unaffected by his presence. “No breakfast this time?”

A muscle jumped in his cheek. Otherwise his features remained stoic. “Aren’t you going to ask me in?”

The question wasn’t a question. But a command. A shiver rippled down her spine.

She stood to the side. He strode into her house and toward the kitchen. She closed the door, grabbed the Texas A&M sweatshirt off the coat rack—the same sweatshirt she’d worn home from the bar. Her nose wrinkled at the odor of stale beer. She pulled it over her head anyway.

She recognized the oxymoron of having just been pining for Liam and this sudden need to cover herself, but didn’t care about the inconsistency. She followed behind.

He stood with his back to her, helping himself to a cup of coffee. He turned. His gaze again brushed over her body, then narrowed the slightest bit. “I take it you’ve had second thoughts about your proposal.”

Confusion knitted her forehead. “Why would you think that?”

He gestured toward her. “Because you put that on.”

“Oh…I was…cold.”

His eyebrow kicked up, saying nothing as he pulled a small notebook from his back pocket. “Do you have a pencil or pen?”

“Um, yeah. Top drawer over there.”

He extracted a pen then tossed the notebook onto the table. She jumped at the slapping sound. He straddled a chair, opened the pad to a blank page and looked at her.

She cautiously resumed her seat, her back rigid, and wrapped her hands around her mug. She stared at her fingers and waited for him to say something. Anything.

He didn’t. Finally she dragged her gaze to his.

He looked back with not an unkind expression, but neither could it be called kind. “Now that I have your attention,” he said. “There are a few details we need to go over before you make your final decision.” He clicked the pen and poised it over the paper.

Her hold tightened on her mug. “Okay.”

“First, what name did that asshole, Ramon, give you?”

She bristled. “I’ve asked you not to use that language.”

A fierce scowl darkened his handsome face. He leaned forward, closing the distance between them. “Asshole is the kindest thing I can say about that bastard. He was a cowardly fuck who should have his dick cut off and fed to him.” Liam’s normally soft gaze was a steely stare. “And don’t ever correct me.”

Biting her lower lip, she gave a small nod.

He eased back and gripped the pen again. “So what did…he call you?”

“We—” She cleared the rust from her voice. “We were referred to as slave or…” Her stomach lurched at the memory. “Or…whore, or…slut.”

Liam inhaled a noisy breath through his nose, almost like he was holding his temper. “As I suspected. In that case, I’ll call you…kitten.” He wrote on the paper.

“Kitten? But you can’t call me that at work.”

“I’ll call you any damn thing I want.”

She pressed her lips together at his gruff tone, but refused to avert her gaze. “I don’t want anyone at the Bluebird to know about this…arrangement.”

He squinted. “Why?”

She scoffed. “Duh. Because I don’t want people to know about my past.”

His stare narrowed even more. “Again, why? What happened is part of who you are.”

“And what about Sedona? She can’t know how she came to exist.” Kate pulled back her shoulders and angled her chin. “I’m willing to…submit to you with the condition that no one finds out. I will not have my daughter hurt that way.”

Liam sat back, his lips pursed. “No one will find out from me.”

“I have your word?”

“You have my word. Kitten.”

Kitten. The way he said that word tingled her skin. She stared at her cup. “Thank you.”

“I assume you called him either Sir or Master.”

She nodded.

“Because I don’t want you to ever, even for one second, think I’m that bastard, you’ll address me as Liam.”

Her brow wrinkled. “But that’s your name.”

“Yes, and I don’t recall it ever coming out of your mouth. Do you?”

Embarrassment warmed her ears as she shook her head. He scribbled again on the paper.

“What are you writing?”

“Our checklist.”


“Mmm-hmmm.” He looked at her. “How do you feel about being blindfolded?”

“Uh…well…” She blinked. “Um…”

“Restricting one sense can enhance the others.” The pen hovered over the paper. “So, blindfold, yes or no.”

She swallowed the lump in her throat, remembering all the times she’d been deprived of her sight—for days. Nothing had been enhanced but her absolute terror of being abandoned. Of being forgotten. Of dying alone.

But that was then. This situation…now…was her idea. And she couldn’t risk upsetting Liam by putting a bunch of conditions on whatever it was they were going to do. She willed starch into her spine and nodded.

“You need to say the words, kitten.”

Kitten again. Warmth wove through her chest. She inhaled a breath. “A blindfold would be…acceptable.”

His lips twisted like before focusing back on the paper. “Do you have a medical condition I should know about? Heart problems? Blood sugar issues? Anything like that?”


“What about joint problems? Knee, back, shoulder?”

“Um…” She touched her hand to her throat, thinking. “I have trouble with my shoulders.”

He wrote on the paper. “One or both?”

“Both. Ligament damage, I think.”

His forehead crimped. “Is it a hereditary condition?”

“No. We used to be…hung by shackles. From the ceiling. As punishment.”

“Punishment for what?”

“Mostly for using our safe words, but also sometimes for…” Embarrassment flamed her cheeks. “Having our periods.”

He stared at her, his mouth gaping slightly. “For having your periods?” He vaulted from the chair. Her pen sailed through the air and smacked the wall by the back door. “That no good son of a fucking whore!” He spun away and pounded his fists on the counter.

Liam’s outburst launched Kate from her own chair. She dashed to the other side of the table, prepared to run to her bedroom and call the police.

Terminal seconds passed. His shoulders quaked. Finally, he tipped his head back and took a deep breath. He turned. His eyebrows lifted when she wasn’t sitting at the table, then his gaze found hers. “It’s okay. Sit.”

She remained where she was.

He rubbed the back of his neck and retrieved the pen. Once he straightened, all hostility had melted from his expression. In fact, he looked guilty. He gestured to her chair. “Please.”

She slowly slipped back onto the seat. Liam sat as well and picked up the pen again. He tapped it on the pad while staring into space.

“So, um, what’s a checklist?” she asked.

He swung his gaze to her. “A list of things either of us will or won’t do. Like me calling you slut or whore or you calling me master. Those won’t happen.” He leaned toward her. “And I will never, ever, chain you up like a side of beef. I promise.”

She shivered at his tone. “Okay.”

He cleared his throat. “Once we’ve established our list, I’ll write up a consent agreement that we’ll both sign.”

“Kinda like a contract?”

“Yes. So, let’s finish. Last week you said something about being whipped. Did you enjoy it?”

She banded her arms around her middle. “How could anyone enjoy that?”

His head tilted to the side, groove appearing at the bridge of his nose. “Why so judgmental? There’s nothing wrong with taking pleasure from a good spanking or flogging.”

Her mouth hung open. “Of course there is.”

“Says who? Society? Forget whatever taboos you were taught and answer the question. Did you like it?”

She clamped her lips together, desperate to keep the truth bottled inside her. But she was no match for his silent command. Tears pricked her eyes, and she averted her gaze. “Yes.” The word was barely above a whisper.

“So spanking’s okay?”

She didn’t look up. “Yes.”

“What about if I use a flogger or a whip?”

A shudder ran through Kate as she closed her eyes. She heard the whistle of the leather in her head. The subsequent crack. The fire on her skin. Her heart rate soared.

“All right.” Liam’s quiet voice broke through her memories. “For now we’ll stick to spanking and see how things go, okay?”

She wiped a knuckle against her nose and cleared her throat, her gaze still downcast. “Okay.”

Time stretched out, but he didn’t say anything. Her pulse slowed. She inhaled a deep breath and the tension in her body loosened. She looked up.

He gazed back with a neutral expression. “You should know that I’m not some touchy, feely counselor. I know one way to operate, and that’s balls to the wall. But I’m not into degradation or objectification. I don’t enjoy making my bottoms crawl on their hands and knees naked, like an animal, carrying things in their mouths. But I do like to administer pain, in more ways than spanking. I’ll give you fair warning when that’s about to happen. Do you understand?”


He cocked his eyebrow, a hard glint in his eyes.


He didn’t smile, but the corners of his mouth relaxed. “I like the way my name rolls off your tongue. Makes me wonder what else I’ll enjoy coming off your tongue.”

Her cheeks fairly combusted, they flamed so hot.

He folded his hands on the table and blew out a breath. “I appreciate that your trust has been horribly betrayed, but you’re gonna have to trust me if this is going to work. If, at any time, you can’t take whatever we’re doing, whether physically or mentally, you must say red light. Do you understand?”

“I understand, Liam.”

“It’s imperative that you do. And I’ll ask you during the scene what color you’re at—green, yellow or red. If you’re ever at red, I’ll stop immediately, then one of two things will happen. We’ll either discuss what upset you or I’ll ask a simple question—do you trust me. If your answer to that question is ever no, we’re done. Completely done. If you don’t trust me, I can’t help you. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Liam.” She pushed the words past her constricted throat.

His features softened. “No need to look so worried. I won’t ask for your unconditional trust all at once. We’ll take small steps.” He closed the notebook. “And one more thing. We won’t have sex.”

She gasped. “We won’t? Why not?”

His face split into a huge grin. An enormous, self-satisfied, toothy grin. “What’s the matter? Disappointed?”


If possible his grin got wider.

She sat taller. “I mean…isn’t that defeating the purpose of this whole…thing?”

He sobered. “No. My job is to help you deal with your past. Not to fuck you.”

His crude words slapped her face, but she knew better than to correct him. She toyed with her coffee cup. “Can you help me?”

When he didn’t answer, she forced herself to meet his gaze.

“Yes, I believe I can.”

Hope sprang to her chest, but she tempered it. “Some would say I’m broken beyond repair.”

“And they would be wrong. You’re not broken. Maybe a little dented and cracked, but not broken.”

“What makes you so sure?”

His powerful gaze didn’t waver from hers. “Because you didn’t abort your daughter. Because even when you had no place to go, you left that fucked-up situation and started over. You raised your daughter by yourself, and have done a damn fine job of it. In other words, you fought. Broken people don’t fight. They give up.”

The conviction in his voice gummed her throat.

He sat back, a wicked sparkle in his eyes. “Now, do you trust me?”

“I think so.”

Once more his eyebrow quirked up. “It’s a yes or no question.”

She lifted her chin and held his gaze. “Yes, Liam. I trust you.”

His chest deflated slightly like he’d been holding his breath. He rested an ankle on the opposite knee and linked his hands together in his lap.“Stand up.”

She shoved back her chair and stood, albeit on wobbly legs.

“Take off that hideous sweatshirt.”

After a slight pause, she pulled the garment over her head and placed it on the table.

Liam’s gaze roamed over her face, her hair, her neck and shoulders. It almost seemed as if he was committing everything about her to memory.

When his direct stare honed in on her chest, her nipples tented the flimsy cotton material of her camisole. She crossed her arms.


The harsh command knocked the wind from her.

“Don’t ever hide yourself from me.”

Slowly her arms dropped to her sides. He rose and moved toward her. Kate pressed her thighs into the table to keep from shying away. He circled her, his warm breath on her neck.

“Take down your hair.”

With shaky fingers, she removed the band and her hair fell to her shoulders.

He toyed with several strands. Her scalp quivered. “Your hair is soft and luxurious. I like it down. You’re to wear like this when we’re together.”

“Yes, Liam.”

He shifted until he stood directly behind her, but not touching her. His heat seeped into her skin through the layers of their clothing. His presence enfolded her, held her. Made her feel guarded. Protected. She closed her eyes and swayed.

Then he was gone. Her eyes snapped open.

He placed his coffee cup in the sink. “I’ll need a house key.”


His expression morphed into one of displeasure. She swallowed and lowered her gaze. “I mean, may I ask why you need a key to my house, Liam?”

He didn’t answer until she looked at him. “Because I’m cooking you dinner tonight.”

Her insides froze. “I usually eat at the Bluebird.”

“I know. But today is Sunday.”


 “No buts. Key. Now.” He held out his palm.

She hesitated. Not even Sedona had a key since moving into her own apartment. Was she going to hand over one to this man now? He was scarcely more than a stranger. “Red Light.”

He retracted his hand, tucked his hands under his armpits and studied her. Air clogged her lungs. Was he angry she’d used her safe word?

“I assume you’re concerned that I have diabolic intentions toward you. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t. But,” he said firmly when she gasped, “that is not my objective—for tonight. Tonight I simply want to cook you dinner. I’ll return the key at the end of the evening.” He inhaled a breath. “Which leaves one question…do you trust me?”

Cold tentacles closed around her throat. If she said no, then she and Liam would be over before they even began anything. He was demanding that she trust him. But wasn’t that what this was all about? Trust. If she was honest about wanting to learn to trust again, she was going to have to start. Right now.

Mutely, she retrieved the spare key from the hook by the phone and held it out to him. A ghost of smile passed over his lips. Happiness nipped her heart that she’d pleased him.

He took the key then slid the notebook toward her. “Keep this.”


“So you can add or delete from the list. Also you don’t know very much about me, so I want you to write down three questions you can ask me tonight.”

“What if I have more than three questions?”

“We’ll start with three.” He marched from the kitchen. “I’ll see you tonight, kitten.”

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