With Consent

Author: Mercedes Vox

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You need this, Jacqueline. You want this, so take the leap. For once in your life, do something daring and dangerous. Playing it safe has gotten you nothing except a dead husband and an empty bed.

At twenty-five years of age, Jackie Blair appears to have it all. Born to wealthy parents, she's married to her high school sweetheart and living in her dream home in the upscale Greater Boston town of Brookline. As a newly minted private-practice attorney specializing in family law, Jackie is no stranger to how quickly a seemingly perfect life can crumble. While her marriage is comfortable, it lacks passion, and her blossoming career is her current priority. But after her young husband dies in a tragic accident, Jackie buckles down to piece her life back together and, in the process, discovers her spouse had long been harboring a naughty secret.

As Jackie follows clues in pursuit of the truth surrounding her deceased husband’s clandestine activities, she meets rough-around-the-edges Cassidy Booker, a mechanic who owns and operates a car restoration business in the nearby neighborhood of Jamaica Plain.

Underneath Cassidy's gruff exterior lies an intensely private person, a borderline recluse with a Southern genteelness Jackie finds charming and compelling. She invites him to her home to discuss her dead husband's double life. During the course of their conversation, Cassidy confides in her regarding his own dark desires: engaging in role-play scenarios featuring captivity and force, a shame he has lived with for all his adult life. The revelation shocks her and they part ways, but bad luck puts Jackie in a dangerous predicament where Cassidy is best suited to render aid.

In the aftermath of that terrifying situation, Jackie decides Cassidy's virtues outweigh his vices, and she consents to become a willing victim to his darkest fantasies.

* * * * *

All characters in this story are 18 or older.

Word Count: 98,400

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Description

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You need this, Jacqueline. You want this, so take the leap. For once in your life, do something daring and dangerous. Playing it safe has gotten you nothing except a dead husband and an empty bed.

At twenty-five years of age, Jackie Blair appears to have it all. Born to wealthy parents, she's married to her high school sweetheart and living in her dream home in the upscale Greater Boston town of Brookline. As a newly minted private-practice attorney specializing in family law, Jackie is no stranger to how quickly a seemingly perfect life can crumble. While her marriage is comfortable, it lacks passion, and her blossoming career is her current priority. But after her young husband dies in a tragic accident, Jackie buckles down to piece her life back together and, in the process, discovers her spouse had long been harboring a naughty secret.

As Jackie follows clues in pursuit of the truth surrounding her deceased husband’s clandestine activities, she meets rough-around-the-edges Cassidy Booker, a mechanic who owns and operates a car restoration business in the nearby neighborhood of Jamaica Plain.

Underneath Cassidy's gruff exterior lies an intensely private person, a borderline recluse with a Southern genteelness Jackie finds charming and compelling. She invites him to her home to discuss her dead husband's double life. During the course of their conversation, Cassidy confides in her regarding his own dark desires: engaging in role-play scenarios featuring captivity and force, a shame he has lived with for all his adult life. The revelation shocks her and they part ways, but bad luck puts Jackie in a dangerous predicament where Cassidy is best suited to render aid.

In the aftermath of that terrifying situation, Jackie decides Cassidy's virtues outweigh his vices, and she consents to become a willing victim to his darkest fantasies.

* * * * *

All characters in this story are 18 or older.

Word Count: 98,400

Additional Info

Additional Info

Tags
No
SKU
564-8793
Author
Mercedes Vox
ISBN
No
Heat Level
Heat Level (5)
Publisher
Sex Ensues Press
Series
No

Excerpt

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Chapter 6


As soon as I stepped out of the bathroom, I checked my alarm clock and found I had less than thirty minutes before Cassidy was due to arrive. Doing a full-leg shave instead of the winter cheat shave to the knees had taken longer than I'd anticipated, and I'd spent a lot more time on my hair and makeup than usual. I opened the top drawer of my dresser and grabbed a pair of lacy black panties and a matching bra.

Was I really going there? This was simply an information-gathering meeting, not a date.

"It's all about confidence," I said aloud. Those sexy undies made me feel strong, powerful, even if I had no intention of letting Cassidy see them.

Next came the clothing he would be able to see, and for that I needed an outside opinion. Besides, I could complete two tasks with one call, since my friend Shannon was my first choice for a safe-date buddy.

Shannon's husband was Matt Newstead, Jason's best friend from college and a colleague of his at Haskins & Simon. The four of us had shared some fun times over the years. Whenever I needed fashion or menu-planning advice, Shannon was my go-to girl. I'd never talked about my sex life with her, however, because I'd worried about her mentioning it to her husband and it getting back to Jason. That wasn't a concern now, so I was hoping to pick her brain. I grabbed my phone from my nightstand charger.

Shannon answered on the second ring. "Hello, hello!"

"Hi, Shannon," I said. "Do you have time to talk? Something really weird happened to me this weekend."

"Hang on a second." Less than a minute passed before Shannon came back on the line. "Sorry. Matt and his parents are here discussing vacation plans for the spring. Thanks for the excuse to escape them. So, what's the weirdness?"

While standing in my walk-in closet, I shuffled a few dresses too extravagant for the evening farther down on the hanger bar. "I've been going through Jason's belongings, and I found something very strange." I proceeded to tell her about the small safe, the bizarre letter, and the business card. I didn't mention the porn DVDs or the Polaroids, because I didn't want to tarnish her memory of Jason with details that no longer mattered. Then I told her about Cassidy Booker and my dinner plans with him tonight.

"So," I said. "I'm standing here in my closet, thinking. Is it wrong for me to want to dress up in something sort of sexy for this man?"

"There's nothing wrong with it at all, but be careful," Shannon said. "Call me every hour like he told you. Tomorrow, you and I need to do lunch."

"That's a promise," I said, relieved to have her standing by. "All right, here's the deal. I've only met him once, and he looked like he'd just rolled out from underneath a leaky truck, but . . . I don't know. There's something incredibly attractive about him."

"I've always heard that blue-collar men are the best lays," Shannon said. "It's probably because there's a lot less going on between their ears when they're doing you between the sheets. Maybe that explains why poor people can still seem so happy."

"Snob," I said. "You're terrible!"

"I'm kidding," Shannon said with a soft chuckle. "Look, this guy showed you his driver's license without any hassle. You know where he lives and works, and he's the one who told you to arrange a safe-date buddy. Relax, Jackie, and have some fun for a change. It's not like it'll be cheating if you end up fucking the guy."

The roar of a car's engine sounded outside, becoming louder as it came up my driveway before falling silent in my rear courtyard. I paused, listening to footsteps rounding the brick walkway on the side of the house leading to the front door.

"Oh, God," I whispered into the phone. "He's here. What should I do if he—"

The doorbell started chiming the melody of the Westminster Quarters.

"I heard that," Shannon said. "Go answer the door, Jackie. If I don't receive a call from you at seven o'clock, I'll alert Boston's finest and send Matt over to check on you."

"Thanks! Bye!" I fumbled with the screen to end the call and almost dropped the phone in my haste.

Cassidy was ten minutes early, and I wasn't even dressed yet. I scrambled, selecting a skimpy red dress I'd worn last year to a Christmas party I'd attended with Jason. Thank God, I had already finished my hair and makeup. I slid my feet into a pair of red heels, grabbed my phone, and dashed downstairs.

I set my phone on the banister post, smoothed the hem of my dress, and took a calming breath before opening the door.

Cassidy was standing on the front porch under the portico. Same hiking boots. Different jeans, faded like the ones he'd had on earlier but with no axle-grease stains. That gave me hope he wasn't still wearing the gray T-shirt with sweaty pit moons under his parka. I gave him bonus points for his face looking clean.

He held out a white paper bag imprinted with a pink-and-green lotus flower logo and the words Thai Garden. In his other hand, he gripped the slender neck of a bottle of plum wine. Snowflakes swirled around him, backlit by the lampposts on either side of my front walk.

"Hi," he said. "Did you call a friend to let them know I was coming over?" "Yes," I squeaked. I cleared my throat and tried again. "Yes, I called a close girlfriend who lives in the neighborhood."

"What's her name?"

I wasn't sure why he needed to know, but I didn't see any harm in telling him. "Her name is Shannon Newstead. She's the wife of a close friend of Jason's."

Cassidy's eyebrows shot up to the edge of the woolen cap covering his head. "Matt Newstead's old lady?"

The tiny hairs on the back of my neck stood on end. Suddenly, I wasn't so sure if inviting him into my home was the best of ideas, and I considered slamming the door in his face. Who was this guy? "How much of my life did Jason discuss with you?"

My next-door neighbor's front door creaked open, and blue-haired Mrs. O'Connor stuck her head out.

Cassidy glanced over at her then locked eyes with me. "You really want to talk about this on your front porch?"

"Oh, God," I said, rolling my eyes. "Absolutely not."

If we'd been on friendlier terms, I would have grabbed Cassidy by the arm and hauled him into the house. However, I chose simply to move aside and politely gestured for him to enter. After closing the door, I leaned back against it, facing him. "I wasn't kidding when I said I had nosy neighbors."

Cassidy tucked the bottle of wine under the same arm holding the bag of takeout. With his free hand, he removed his woolen cap. He looked around and gave a soft whistle. "Nice. I've always wanted a foyer I could land a small plane in."

"Here, let me have those and you can take off your coat." I relieved him of the wine bottle and bag of food, and I took them to the dining room table. When I returned to him, I hung his hat and coat in the foyer closet. "There was a time when I loved the size of this house. Now, it feels as if all this space is trying to swallow me up sometimes."

Fortunately, Cassidy was now wearing a black dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows instead of the grubby gray T-shirt. His hair, hanging several inches below the shirt collar and flopping into his eyes was still damp from a shower, and he didn't smell like motor oil, gasoline, and cigarette smoke. In fact, he smelled like cologne, even if it was only the kind with a ship on the bottle.

Cassidy followed me to the kitchen but remained in the doorway, leaning one shoulder against the jamb while I fetched plates and utensils. "For what it's worth," he said, "Jason never talked about you much, except to say he wished he could get up the nerve to tell you what he really wanted."

"Which means you spoke to him on more than just that one occasion in the therapist's office." The idea made me angry, my ire perhaps directed more at myself for somehow remaining ignorant of Jason's clandestine life for all those years. How could I have been so blind? "Were the three of you drinking buddies?"

That would have explained some things, but then why hadn't Shannon recognized Cassidy's name? Did that mean Matt also had a secret life hidden from his wife?

"I'm gonna give you one last chance to bail on this conversation," Cassidy said, trailing after me into the dining room. He stopped behind the chair at the head of the table on the end where I was standing. "Are you absolutely, one-hundred-percent sure you want to hear the truth?"

I set the dishes down on the table. I'd lived God only knew how many years in blessed obliviousness to Jason's duplicity, slowly becoming used to living without him since his death. I had no doubt in my mind that whatever knowledge Cassidy held, it would bring Jason's fading presence back into my life full force. I still had a chance to say no. Cassidy and I could enjoy a nice dinner, limit discussion to the topic of my sweet car, and then never see each other again. I could continue forever in my blissful state of ignorance regarding the details of Jason's past.

That prospect lasted all of about two seconds. "I'm sure," I said. "I want to know everything. I know he watched erotic DVDs, and that he was having kinky sex with a woman who closely resembles me. Do you know anything about her?"

"Matt and Jason both used a top-dollar escort service in Boston," Cassidy said, wasting no time, applying no sugarcoating. "Outcall pros specializing in BDSM: bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism and masochism. The emphasis was on bondage and discipline in Jason's case. He would come by my shop straight from the hotel sometimes, after he finished a session with one of his pricey call girls, wanting to talk through what he'd done, what it meant, etcetera. I teased him that I was gonna start charging him Dr. Hoffman's fancy hourly rates if he kept it up. I'm not sure about Matt's tastes, specifically. His old lady knows what he does, so I guess he didn't feel the pressing need to talk to anyone about it like Jason did."

I felt the blood drain from my face, and my pulse started racing. Shannon knew what Matt did? That meant she probably knew about Jason, too. I almost regretted pressing Cassidy for the truth.

"I can't believe this," I whispered.

"I'm sorry," Cassidy said softly, earnestly, and I had a feeling those blue eyes would never lie to me. "I told Jason he should come clean with you about his kink, despite the risk of losing you over it. Dark secrets like that are always toxic in the end."

Gravity pulled me into a chair, and I leaned forward to press my face into my hands. I wanted to cry, but I fought off sad tears in favor of anger. "I can't decide if I'm furious with Jason for not telling me the truth, or if I'm feeling horribly guilty because he felt he couldn't."

Cassidy came up behind me and placed a hand on my shoulder, giving a squeeze. The tenderness of the small gesture broke something inside me, and I couldn't hold back the tears. Cassidy didn't say a word, just stood behind me as a quiet, comforting presence while I cried. Maybe I'd yet to grieve properly over the loss of Jason, or maybe the terrible knowledge I'd gained during the past two days made me feel as if I'd lost my husband all over again.

Once there were no tears left and I'd caught my breath, I turned around in my chair and gazed up at Cassidy. "I'm sorry," I said with a sniffle. "I must look awful."

He placed a hand gently on my cheek and brushed away a fresh tear with his thumb. "You look beautiful, Princess. Feeling better now?"

I started to nod then let out a wounded laugh and shook my head instead, as my emotions continued to overwhelm me. "I have no idea how I feel," I said, grabbing some of the paper napkins from the Thai restaurant bag. "Not that I'm saying what you've already told me isn't enough, but is that all?"

"That's the bulk of it." Cassidy pulled out the chair next to me and turned it sideways before he sat down, so he was facing me. "The only other detail that might interest you is that all the working girls he hired looked like you for a reason. Jason was guilty as hell for liking what he liked—that's why he was seeing Dr. Hoffman—but he felt even guiltier for cheating on you to scratch that itch. Those girls didn't mean anything to him. They were just stand-ins, surrogates for what he wanted to do to you but believed he couldn't." Cassidy shrugged. "When you think about it, it's actually kind of romantic in a twisted sort of way."

Oddly enough, that sentiment made me feel better. In all honesty, I couldn't blame Jason for not wanting to ask me to do those things. I knew my initial reaction would've been to call him a crazy pervert, to tell him I wasn't that kind of girl despite my own secret fantasies, so I understood Jason's choice to remain silent even though it hurt me.

With logic reining in my emotions, I had one more question for Cassidy. "Why were you seeing Dr. Hoffman?"

Cassidy smiled at me. "Dinner first. You'll probably kick me out once I make my personal confession, and I'm starving." He glanced down at the old analogue Timex on his right wrist, its cheap crystal so scratched I could barely make out the numbers and hands on the face. "It's two minutes to seven," he said. "Call your girlfriend. I'll take the food to the kitchen and nuke it, if that's okay with you."

"Yes, that's fine," I said.

After fetching my phone from the banister post, I redialed the last number I'd called. The noisy microwave was running in the kitchen and echoing off the stone tile in the cavernous foyer, so I went back to the dining room as Shannon picked up.

"It's me," I said, keeping my voice down. "I can't talk for very long. I'm just checking in like we agreed so you know I'm all right."

"Perfectly punctual, as usual." Shannon lowered her volume slightly. "How is it going? You sound tense."

"Suffice it to say that I'm learning a lot more than I thought I would." I couldn't confront Shannon over the phone regarding what she'd kept from me, but I also couldn't keep the anger completely out of my voice. "Cassidy is a complete gentleman. He's proven several times tonight that I don't have to be fearful of him, so I'm not going to waste your time by calling you back again tonight. I'll touch base with you in the morning, after he's gone."

I smirked, saying nothing more, allowing her to take that last comment in whatever way she chose.

"All right . . . if you're sure you're okay." Shannon paused, as if waiting for me to say something else. After an uncomfortably elongated silence, she finally said, "I'll talk to you in the morning," and ended the call.

In my peripheral vision, Cassidy came back toward the dining room carrying two plates of food balanced on one forearm and the stems of two upside-down wineglasses in his other hand.

"I couldn't help but overhear," he said. "Don't be too hard on her. People who are into that sort of thing have some kind of unbreakable code against outing one another."

"You weren't supposed to be listening in," I said, setting my phone on the table.

Had he heard the part where I'd alluded to him staying the night? Part of me hoped so. Maybe it was because of the fresh knowledge that my controlled life hadn't truly been in my control after all, but I now felt a sudden longing to be reckless.

I started pacing the length of one side of my rectangular dining table for twelve. "Tell me more about what the people do who are into that sort of thing."

Cassidy put the wineglasses and plates of food down, and then he calmly took the seat at the head of the imperious table as if he owned the place. "It's not my scene, so I'm not exactly an expert. But from what I've witnessed and heard, it runs the gamut from a little slap-and-tickle to full-on flogging and caning and other heavy stuff." He opened the bottle of plum wine and poured us each half a glass. "Jason and Matt tried to cajole me into doing a group thing with them and their lady friends one weekend, in a suite they had at the Ritz-Carlton on the Boston Common. I wasn't interested, not that I could've afforded it anyway. Besides, I can think of a dozen other fun ways to get off that don't cost a thousand bucks a night for a hotel room and another two grand for a specialty hooker."

I stopped pacing and my mouth fell open. "He spent three thousand dollars for one night?"

"At the very least," Cassidy said. "I'm sure that didn't include the gourmet buffet and the top-shelf booze."

Calculating how many evenings in a given month Jason would disappear on his own or take an overnight business trip with Matt, my anger flared.

"That bastard!" I now owed the swear jar on the kitchen counter at my parents' house a dollar during my next visit. "That asshole!" There went another dollar. "So that's why he kept putting off the rooftop deck addition. He was already dipping into his trust fund so he could run off and have kinky sex with prostitutes. Thank God his parents are already dead. This would've killed them."

Cassidy chewed a mouthful of Pad Thai and pointed with his fork at the chair catercornered to him on his right side. "Calm down and park it before you have a stroke. Food is getting cold."

With my lips pressed together in a defiant grimace, I sat down in the chair in front of my place setting. The scent of the food reminded me that I hadn't eaten a thing since the light lunch I'd had at the café near Cassidy's garage. Without another word, I dug into my dinner and after several bites of the spicy dish, I began to relax. "This is good. I could survive on nothing but Thai food for the rest of my life and be perfectly happy."

"It sort of tastes like lawn grass and old fish with a side order of Styrofoam," Cassidy said, picking up a cube of tofu with his fingers and wrinkling his nose. He returned the tofu to the plate and took a drink of wine. "Do you really want to know why I was there to see the headshrinker?"

Exchanging my fork for my wineglass, I nodded. "You know all about my dirty laundry now. It seems only fair for you to share yours."

Cassidy locked eyes with me. "First things first: I didn't have a messed-up childhood. My parents are nice, hard-working, God-fearing folks, but not too God-fearing. They're still married—thirty-nine years next week, in fact—and they still live in the same house where they raised my younger brother and me. They never laid a hand on either one of us, save for an occasional swat on the rump when we did something stupidly dangerous, and that was more to make a point than to inflict any actual pain."

His drawl sounded more pronounced the longer he spoke about his past. "Mama was never an overbearing smother-mother, and Pop was always a gentleman, a proper man of the house, the pair of them model parents if ever there were any. I had a picture-perfect upbringing in a nice neighborhood on the outskirts of Zebulon, Georgia. I never tortured animals, set fires, or wet the bed. There's no reason at all for me to have fucked-up sexual fantasies regarding women, right? And yet I've always had them."

My grip on the wineglass had gotten subconsciously tighter with every word, so I put it down for fear of it shattering in my hand. "What kind of fantasies?"

Cassidy pushed his chair back from the table and brought his hands to rest on the thighs of his jeans, and he started lightly rubbing his palms in slow circles on the denim. "Want to hear what I'm thinkin' about you right now? Weigh your answer carefully. You might be better off not knowing."

Since Cassidy's arrival, I hadn't felt at all endangered, but that had changed in the span of the last thirty seconds. What did I know about this man, aside from the facts that he restored classic cars and he'd occasionally hung out with my perverted husband? Alarms went off inside my head, warning me, but at the same time had my blood pumping in a way that made me acknowledge I was alive.

Taking up my wineglass again, I pushed my nerves aside and urged him to continue. "Tell me. I want to know."

"I want to preamble this," he said, "by telling you that I've never harmed a woman and never would. I'm the guy who can't mind his own business when he sees some jackass manhandling a waitress in a bar, and I have a twice-broken nose to prove it. Broke three fingers of my left hand a year ago, showing a guy living across the street from my shop that smacking his girlfriend around wasn't acceptable behavior for a man. Point is that I would never, ever, do anything to a woman that she hadn't clearly and without question signed on for me to do to her."

Cassidy exhaled a slow, deliberate breath. "That said . . . I've been playin' out a scenario in my head since the minute you opened your front door wearing that skimpy, sexy red dress and those high-heeled come-fuck-me pumps. It features me fucking you on top of this fancy dining room table so hard that I have to gag you with those lacy panties you're no doubt wearing, so your nosy old biddy of a neighbor won't hear you scream." He stood up and flicked a thumb toward the coat closet. "Grab my parka for me, and I'll be on my way."

My wineglass dipped and plum wine splashed the table, breaking my trance as I pictured him taking me hard and fast. I closed my knees tightly together, a reaction of embarrassment to the sudden rush of heat between my thighs, and I stared down at the table's polished surface until Cassidy repeated his request for me to fetch his coat. Somehow, I managed to stand up and walk to the foyer, trembling all over like a fawn on newborn legs.

When I turned away from the closet to hand Cassidy his parka and hat, I couldn't look him in the eyes. "Thank you for being honest with me."

"Thank you for not calling the cops." He went to the front door and opened it, but pivoted to look at me before he stepped out onto the porch. "Oh, I almost forgot. The shift linkage in your Mustang has a reverse lockout feature that prevents you from accidentally shifting into reverse out of fourth gear. Putting her into neutral and jiggling the shifter from side to side will deactivate the lockout, and you won't stall out trying to put her into reverse from a dead start. Give it a try and see if that helps you out."

He turned away from me without waiting for a response, trotted down the steps, and hurried around to the back of the house. A few moments later, his noisy Mustang—identical to mine except for his being matte black instead of metal-flake red—pulled out of my driveway and roared off into the night.

The moment I couldn't see the taillights of Cassidy's vehicle any longer, a strange and profound sense of emptiness swept over me. It forced me to wonder what he was feeling now, after he'd made his confession, with me sending him off with no more in the way of discussion than a lame, thanks-for-your-candor dismissal.

I closed the door, wondering if I had done the right thing, especially after having voiced complaints that my late husband hadn't been honest and forthcoming about his sexual desires. A self-derisive chuckle spilled out of my mouth at the thought that there was just no pleasing me.

At least I knew the whole truth about Jason now, which would make moving on a lot easier. Sleep tonight, however, would probably remain elusive. I activated the security system before heading upstairs to try.

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About the Author

Mercedes Vox

Romance provocateur. Manic stealth author. Fearless gourmet. An epicurean anarchist relentlessly in pursuit of a foolproof cure for ennui. Committed (thrice).

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