Pride and Punishment

Can their love endure as death casts a shadow over the billionaire spy and his wife?

Plucky publicist Mariana and billionaire spy William Wilson Smith have settled into married life in Will’s cozy cabin in the woods of Connecticut. But this blissful isolation can never last, with constant threats emerging and targeting William’s vast business empire.

Will learns of an island where a foe holds agents captive and sets off to rescue those imprisoned there. Mariana returns to her business in Los Angeles, where she’s captured and interrogated.

They find they must work together to smoke out their enemies. Are they up to the challenge of their first joint mission overseas, or will their marriage—even their lives—be over?

When death comes to dance, Mariana has to decide whether she can survive without her Will.

It might take a miracle, but these twin flames insist on burning bright, even as the darkness tries to swallow them whole.

This is book three in The Billionaire Spy series.

Publisher’s Note: This contemporary romance contains elements of action, adventure, mystery, suspense, sensual scenes, and power exchange. If any of these offend you, please do not purchase.

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Sample Chapter

Chapter One

On the Edge

 

The growing sunlight crept gently through the firs and maples that surrounded the cabin in the woods. It slipped through the bedroom windows to shine on the firm jaw, aquiline nose, and long, dark lashes of the tree whisperer.

Mariana Wilson Smith marveled once again that she had been lucky enough to find him in the frost-bitten fields of Orlando. Now she could call him husband. She could call him Papi. She could call him Master. Mariana could call him any time of day, just by crying out his name, because Will was never far.

Mariana was very much in love with Mr. Smith and Mr. Wilson—with all of his aliases. She loved the whole man—the hard bark and the sweet sap deep inside.

She had never imagined herself capable of feeling so overwhelmed by passion, but Will could read her body and her mind like no one else, and he knew how to meet all her needs. He offered her a level of comfort, security and outright possession that she’d never known before. All of it pleased her.

At this very moment, watching as he slept on the pillow next to hers, she wanted desperately to jump his bones. Everything about Will was painfully arousing to her: the way his smooth bare chest rose and fell as he breathed, how the strong muscles of his neck met at his clavicle, that little dip just above his sternum which was much too tempting to tease with the tip of her tongue.

But Mariana didn’t want to wake her husband. He looked so angelic. He was truly at peace, and that was a rare thing for Will. It would be selfish to disturb his slumber just because she was wet, and her nipples were hard and sensitive, and she needed him to soothe the terrible ache between her legs.

Her breath caught in her chest as she thought of just how wonderful it would feel to have him inside her again. He had been overnight. She’d felt his gentle touch in the dark and welcomed his slow ministrations. He had brought her to a semi-dream state of arousal that left her whimpering for the satisfaction only he could deliver. Afterward, she went right back to sleep, nestled in his arms, and dreamt of more lovemaking.

It had been like this ever since she’d returned home to Will in April, to put things right between them. For the last three weeks, Will and Mariana had nested in his cabin in the woods of Connecticut, putting their marriage on the right footing.

They had screwed things up royally in their hurry to get back to their respective careers. Mariana had gotten lost in Los Angeles, dealing with other people’s problems, and made a crisis all her own. Will had been who-knows-where, playing the various parts he had to play as an arborist, a magnate, a spy, and the head of an organization tasked with preserving and nurturing the good in society.

Will had to do all of this while worrying that his wife seemed hell-bent on seeking out trouble, if ever trouble was momentarily delayed.

Mariana decided to put an end to the growing separation between them, no matter what it cost. She had flown home to Connecticut and refused to leave until everything was sorted, which meant accepting her punishment for disobeying Will’s orders.

Over the course of several days, intermingled with their lovemaking and fellowship, Mariana felt Will’s strong hands laying down the law. She’d paid a heavy price for her various intrepid and unauthorized espionage activities. Will had kept a list of her infractions and assigned an appropriate punishment for each. The last punishment—a paddling for lying to him—he administered with thirty-five hard swats of the new wood paddle brush he’d bought her for her thirtieth birthday.

Mariana was not very fond of this gift.

Will had also bought her a very large house in Malibu, with a breathtaking view of the ocean, but they’d hardly had a chance to spend much time together there before he had to rush off again.

The gift Will had first given her, which she really loved, her blue diamond charm—his heart and his soul, and, as it happened, also her digital tracker—was still missing in action. Mariana first thought she had lost it, and was heartbroken, but Will had admitted that he took the necklace from her, because of recent security breaches. Will had grown concerned that the tracker embedded in the diamond had been compromised. Wherever Will had sent it for repairs, Mariana hadn’t got it back yet. She really missed having Will around her neck.

After crossing all her infractions off Will’s list, shedding plenty of cathartic tears, and spending lots of time nestled in Will’s arms, being soothed with loving after-care, Mariana had earned a clean slate. Will had forgiven her completely, though he promised to keep a running list of any transgressions in future. They still couldn’t guarantee that they’d be in the same city together long enough for Will to immediately address every time Mariana got herself in deep trouble.

Mariana felt lighter and happier after each of these purgatory sessions. In all honesty, she was also quite a bit turned on every time. Will knew this was a challenge he had to address with his wife. He wanted to satisfy her needs, while also discouraging her from seeking out punishment by acting irresponsibly. He had to be stern, and he had to get creative. Sometimes that meant keeping her on the edge, denying her orgasm until the lesson sunk in.

Will had also started giving Mariana a light maintenance spanking whenever she was being ‘fussy’. He hoped that way she wouldn’t feel a need to cross the hard line he insisted on keeping for her safety and well-being. After he warmed her bottom, he always lathered her with love to soothe the sting.

Mariana had vowed to obey him, and she would, unless it was absolutely impossible. She would not add to his burdens unless it was absolutely necessary.

But even now, as she lay in bed watching him sleep, she was pondering what she might do to encourage him to visit the forest outside and fetch a switch for her again, without necessarily putting herself in immediate danger. She should just ask. She knew he would do it if she insisted, but that would move the switch from punishment to pleasure and it was better for him to think she hated it.

God, she just wanted him to do anything to her. Her desire was getting more intense with each passing day.

Mariana had lived in a permanent state of excitement ever since she and Will had got together, even when he wasn’t around. Just the memory of Will was enough to make her wet. But nothing compared to having him right there to tease and be teased, devour and be devoured, love and be loved.

Will opened one dark green eye to watch her watching him.

“Are you looking for trouble, little one?” he asked. His voice raspy with sleep.

“I’m just admiring the view,” she replied.

His lips curled into a grin and he brought his strong arm around to grab her close to him on the bed. Her hard nipples tingled as they rubbed against his bare chest. Her nose met the point of his. His hand moved south to grasp her buttocks.

“Ouch,” she protested, though the sting from the maintenance spanking she’d received the night before was little more than a memory.

“You’re definitely looking for trouble.” Will chuckled. He kissed her as his fingers moved down to tease her clit.

“A little,” she admitted with a sigh, and kissed him back. “Can I take you in my mouth, Master?”

“Is that how you want to play today?” Will asked, turning her on her back to bite and lick her nipples. “Is that little rose of yours in need of tending?”

“Yes, Master,” she sighed, her breath growing heavy.

Will paused to ponder this for a moment, searching her eyes.

“I have field work today, remember?” Will said. “So, you will have to be a very obedient sub as we go visit the garden ladies.”

“They all want you,” Mariana pouted. “Oh, William, my daffodils are wilting!” Mariana spoke in a mocking high-pitch tone, putting on her impression of a New England accent, which made her sound like a screechy Katharine Hepburn. “Whatever shall become of my tulips? Please, can you examine my bulbs?”

Will couldn’t suppress a chuckle. “I will have my work cut out for me today with you. I can feel it.” He bit her neck. “Very well.” He pinched her left nipple between his index finger and thumb, ignoring her little yelp. “We will play, but you will pay.”

“What do you mean?” Mariana asked, wondering what trouble she’d just got herself into.

“You’ll see.” Will planted a chaste kiss on her cheek. “Now, I had an offer of your mouth. I intend to collect in the shower, before we get started.”

“You don’t want a morning quickie, first, just to take the edge off?” Mariana asked, her voice sweet and pleading.

“Oh, honey,” he said, thrusting three fingers inside her sheath and massaging her G-spot as he stretched her walls; his thumb pressed hard against her clit. Will brought Mariana nearly to orgasm, then pulled his fingers out and lapped them with his tongue. “The edge is where you live.”

***

Will folded a towel on the floor tiles of the shower for Mariana to kneel on. He turned on the shower head, so the warm water rushed over his back as he fucked her mouth. Some of it rained down to blend with the tears that welled up in her eyes as he reached the deepest parts of her throat. But Will’s strong back served as her umbrella and kept her from drowning.

After he came, he helped her up and pulled her close, kissing her hard under the falling water, digging his strong fingers into her buttocks. She was desperate for him, and she was sure he knew that, but Will wanted her to wait. She knew he wouldn’t easily change his mind. Instead of fucking her, he washed her.

“I want you to grow your hair long again.” He rinsed the suds, from the no-tears baby shampoo he’d bought especially for her, from her hair. At the beginning of April, Mariana had let the stylist at the Wilshire’s beauty salon in Beverly Hills talk her into cutting her long, dark honey blonde hair into a bob, with light blonde, pink and lavender highlights. “It was very naughty to cut it without consulting me,” Will added, his voice stern. “There’s too little left for me to pull, when I want you to weep.” It was just play talk. Will was in character. She was pretty sure of that. Maybe. “You must never change your hair again without my permission, Mariana.”

“My hair grows fast,” she shrugged off the reprimand.

“It will be months before I can wrap it in my hands for a good yank,” Will growled. “Never again.” He emphasized his order with a swift, firm swat. Mariana yelped and Will grinned.

When they were back in the bedroom, warm and damp from the shower, dressed only in towels, Will pulled a black case out of a drawer in the dresser and ordered Mariana to lie back on the bed with her legs bent and open wide.

“What’s that?” Mariana asked, referring to the case.

“It’s a belated birthday gift for you,” Will said. “And an early birthday gift for me.”

Will’s birthday was on the fifth of July. Mariana thought it was nearly a perfect date for him, considering his dedication to preserving the country he loved, and protecting its people from the rampant greed and corruption that had infested the higher echelons of society. But Will was no Yankee Doodle Dandy putting feathers in his cap. Few would ever know what he did or how he did it. No matter what other roles he played, he was invisible. He was every man. He was no one.

As Mariana knew well, Will was also the Arctic wolf that flourished, hungry and deadly, underneath this humble human disguise.

It was the wolf who stared down at her, now, as she lay on the bed. He showed her those sharp white teeth, while taking out a bright purple egg from the case. It had a funny nub on the tail. Will coated the device in lubricant, pulled from his bedside drawer, and inserted it gently into Mariana’s cave, right up against her G-spot. Then he pulled the little tail around to tuck between her nether cheeks, inserting the smaller bud into her narrower passage. Will pressed a button on a small remote which made the device vibrate. He varied the settings up and down as she squirmed and sighed. The vibration was just as intense in the back, despite the smaller nub, and having both stimulated made her crazy hot. Just before she came, though, Will shut off the devious contraption. Mariana whimpered a complaint, but Will just showed her more teeth.

“Perfect.” Will turned the vibrating egg on again, just for a pulse, then off again. “You will wear this today, as we go about our business. I will keep the remote in my pocket. Your challenge will be to keep yourself from coming. Maybe you’ll improve your poker face while you’re at it.”

“Will, that’s wicked,” Mariana complained.

“I am Master today,” Will reminded her, sternly. “Tonight, you will come to heel, then maybe I’ll let you come. Now, dress appropriately, so you can join me on my rounds.”

“Yes, Master,” Mariana said, getting out of bed while trying to get accustomed to moving with the egg inside of her. “What happens if I have to… you know?”

“What?”

“You know… tinkle,” Mariana said, shyly, “during the day as we go around with your little egg inside of me.”

“Easy,” Will replied. “You tell me you need to go potty. I go with you, help you get it out, and then when you’re all done, I put it back in again.”

“That’s embarrassing,” Mariana complained.

“How is it any different from my putting the vibrator inside you at home?” Will asked. “And I’ve seen you tinkle before too, so that’s not going to ruin anything.”

“Yeah, but you can’t follow me into the bathroom, wherever we may be,” Mariana protested.

“Sure, I can.” Will grinned. “Who is going to stop me?”

“Well, I mean, suppose it’s a women’s only bathroom.”

“Then you’ll go in the men’s bathroom with me,” Will explained. “Nobody is going to bother you while I’m there.”

Mariana made a face.

“Stop fussing,” Will ordered, pulling her hips against his, his erection rubbing against her lower belly and her mound, and he squeezed her buttocks hard. “You’re going to wear it because I said so. You’re going to obey. You’re going to behave. And you’re not going to come until I give you permission to come.” He brought his stern face right up to hers and growled. “When I finally do, you’re going to come like a volcano. Then I’m going to tend to your tender little rose and make you come again.”

Mariana couldn’t hold back a shudder of pleasure at the promise she knew he could keep.

“Now, get dressed,” Will said, his lips brushing hers. “I’ve got a busy day today; lots of flowers in need of attention.”

“Don’t rub it in,” Mariana complained.

“Jealousy doesn’t suit you.” Will kissed her cheek. “Though it does make you flush beautifully.” He bit her earlobe. “Particularly, there. Your ears get all pink when you’re angry too.” He kissed the tip of her nose. “As does this, unless you’re wearing layers of makeup, which you are not allowed to do today.”

“I know you’re trying to train me to not reveal my emotions or reactions as easily as you say I do,” Mariana said. “But how can I stop an involuntary biological reaction?”

Will had promised to help Mariana overcome what he described as her many tells, just in case she found herself networking with the enemy again. Mariana had met with a prime enemy—the Leviathan, Robert Whitby—in April while attending her friend Marsha’s garden party in Palo Alto. Whitby had really given Mariana the creeps. She and Will still hadn’t discussed what Robert had whispered in Mariana’s ear that night, about how he would whip her properly every night. At this point, she was pretty sure Will knew what had happened. Collecting secrets was his job, after all, and Will had been there, remotely, spying on the party guests.

“I don’t know that you can stop yourself from blushing,” Will said. “But it’s going to be fun finding out.”

“Meanie,” Mariana teased.

Will gave her a firm swat. “No backtalk.” Mariana yipped. “Seriously, now,” Will continued. “The key to all of it is for you to be aware of what causes you to react as you do. Even though you put on a good show, and are genuinely very brave, there are still a lot of things that make you feel anxious, shy, and vulnerable. It’s a beautiful thing, I have to say.” Will pulled her close again. “It turns me on,” he whispered in her ear. “It makes me want to take command of you,” he growled. Mariana’s thighs trembled. “It makes me want to protect you from the outside world and from yourself.” He kissed her, deep, and she felt herself melting all over again. “I’m not so sure I want you to lose those qualities.” Will moved his lips from her mouth to her cheek. He let her go and her towel fell down to the floor. “However, if you insist on mingling with apex predators and monsters, then we’re going to have to make your vulnerable feelings less obvious. Controlling your reactions,” he said, circling her areola with his index finger, “delaying the gratification of arousal, is a good way to start.” He flicked his finger at her nipple and smiled when Mariana winced. “I will teach you other techniques to get a hold of yourself, little one. You’ll enjoy the lessons, I’m sure.”

“Yes, Master.” Mariana rose on tiptoes to kiss his stubbly chin. “You need to shave.”

Will took her chin in his hand, rubbed his stubble against her cheek, bit her earlobe, then ravaged her lips again, assailing her with his tongue. She felt herself falling. The longing which had woken her earlier now threatened to burst like a dam.

“Shave me,” he ordered, briefly pressing the remote button on her vibrator, turning it off again when her breath quickened. He smiled at her frustrated bleat.

She knew he delighted in teasing her, but she wasn’t going to let him win that easily.

“You’re much taller than I am,” Mariana said, regaining her composure. “I would need you to sit.” She pointed at the chair in the corner of the bedroom.

He bit her neck and growled, then sat and woofed at her.

Mariana went back into the bathroom to get his shaving kit, but when she opened it, she realized Will only had a straight razor in the cabin. “I can’t do this!” she cried out from the bathroom. “I’ll cut you!” There was a prolonged vibration of the egg that caused her to gasp and shudder. “I’ll definitely cut you if you keep doing that!”

“You know,” Will said, coolly. “I have a leather strop there for sharpening my blade that I haven’t tried on you yet. I bet it makes beautiful, fat, red welts.”

“Seriously, Will—uh, Master,” Mariana corrected herself, coming out of the bathroom holding the folded blade from the tips of her pink polished fingers like it was radioactive. “I don’t know how to handle one of these.”

Will was quiet for a long while, looking through her to wherever his mind had wandered. She was sure she was in the scene, wherever it was, probably bent over something.

“You’re right,” Will said, finally. “I don’t want to show up at the emergency room this morning with a sliced jugular. I’ve got too much to do. I’ll shave. You watch. Then, tonight, I’ll shave you. You’re getting a little bit of stubble too.”

“I wax!” Mariana protested. “Everywhere!”

She felt the vibrator go off again, and Will gave her an evil grin as he let the feeling linger. He paused the thing again as soon as she began to sigh. “Stop sending my mind to dark places,” he warned.

“This is going to be a long day,” Mariana sighed.

“You think?”

 

 

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