Stare me Down
by Riley Murphy
Publisher: Riley Murphy
Release Date: May 15, 2013
Buy Link: Kindle
A Dom stuck in anger management classes meets his match in his court appointed therapist. Their attraction is off the charts. Unfortunately though, the timing is bad for both of them. Or at least it is until he discovers his little vanilla doll isn't vanilla at all. Then it's a matter of timing be damned. He can't keep his hands off her. A definite problem as she has a past to deal with and he has a goal to seize. So when the present rears its ugly head they are both blindsided. Now they’re forced to stare each other down if they hope to have any chance of a future together.
Doctor Jaxx Gavin stared into the steel-grey eyes of her court-ordered patient without flinching. She knew what kind of power shift was at stake here if she didn’t hold her ground. Ramsey Taylor, Aries to his friends, was a popular Dom, and she knew why. Not only was he gorgeous, built like a brick shithouse and had a presence that charged the energy in the room, he was also smart. Really smart, and that was a shame, because a guy’s intelligence was her kryptonite. Looks came in as a distant second to a great brain. And she was sure Ramsey Taylor had one. Not that she’d be pressing to find out. Because even without a great brain he was tempting. Dangerous. Powerful, especially when he gave her one of his “looks” which effectively took her breath away, but his voice? That got her hot and made her heart bash against her rib cage.
“Hello? Earth to therapist. I’m counting on you to be an expert on understanding certain things.”
Damn. Busted. One look at him and she gauged his expression. Smug. Was he gloating?
“Understanding of what things?” He’d better not be thinking that they were going to discuss certain intimate—
“The underlying factors that contribute to my specific kinks.”
Sex. She should have known that a man like him would stick it to her for making him do the extra three hours. “I don’t see how that will help you work through your aggression issue. Maybe we should start with some of your day-to-day stresses instead.”
She would have rolled her eyes but she was still trying to win their staring contest, since she’d lost the last one. “These sessions weren’t ordered by the court to entertain you.”
“True. The court only ordered six. You were the one who added more.” Thank God he looked away. She nearly wilted in her chair. It wasn’t easy holding her own with a force like him. She was just mentally patting herself on the back when he added, “Be that as it may, if you play your cards right, you might find you’re the one who’s entertained.”
The smooth timbre of his voice melted her insides and she almost smiled. Smiled?
Oh, no. He wasn’t going to charm her. “I take my job very seriously, Mr. Taylor.”
“I know. That’s why I think you need to lighten up a little. Call me Ramsey.”
She didn’t know what to say. It was as if her words got lost from her lips to his ears. “I think you suffer from selective deafness on top of everything else.”
His slow grin made her pulse quicken so she added, “And I will not call you Ramsey.”
“No, you’re right you shouldn’t. Call me Aries.”
Now he wanted them to be friends? She folded her arms across her chest.
“Oh, don’t get mad. Just look at this situation from where I’m sitting.”
“I can’t help but look.” She was going for an even tone, which was hard to maintain while speaking through her teeth. “You’re sitting at my desk.”
“Yes, and about your desk. Next week I’ll bring a cork leg shim for it. I imagine it’s annoying.”
Not as much as he was at the moment. “Don’t trouble yourself. I can pick it up.”
He sat back and purposely mimicked her position. The whole scenario would have been laughable if he weren’t getting to her.
“Then why haven’t you?”
Not that she had to dignify that with an answer, but… “I haven’t had the time.”
“Yet you’ve had the time to fold pieces of cardboard up and wedge them there? By the look of that mangled piece, I’m guessing it’s been there for months.”
It was a year, actually, but who was counting? “I’ll take care of it.”
“Suit yourself. Back to the situation at hand. I’m assuming you read the court transcripts.”
She nodded, trying to guess where this was going. In the time she’d already spent with the man, she knew he didn’t say or do anything without purpose. He paid attention too. Close attention. The Dragon Lady, he’d dubbed Maggie, after only briefly meeting her friend what, twice at the most? Worse he had the whole depressing situation figured out.
“So you know that I didn’t assault that guy. Surely you saw through the bias of that judge. He didn’t like me because of who I was and what I did for a living. That’s why I was sent to your class. As to why I’m here for extra psycho duty I have no clue, but since I’m here, I may as well make the best of it, right?”
“How magnanimous. I think you’re the first patient I’ve ever had to accept ‘mandated therapy’ so well.”
“Seriously? Well, try going into the marriage counseling business. I bet you’d have a ton more, as invariably one party or the other is dragged to it.”
Hm. Speaking of being dragged. It was clear that he was going to continue to fight her every step of the way unless she came up with a compromise. She supposed he deserved one, as she had read those transcripts. The truth was he hadn’t done anything wrong. That much was obvious.
She took a deep breath and let it out loud enough he’d hear it. “All right. We’ll discuss whatever you want in the last two sessions on a couple of conditions. First—”
“I’m not good at following orders, but I’m great at giving them. Why don’t you let me handle things from here?”
She ignored that chipper offer and repeated, “First off, you will sit on the couch and not at my desk.”
“Why do you let that woman push you around?”
She wasn’t going to be sucked into that conversation. “Second, you will refrain from attempting to analyze me during our future sessions, understood?”
He uncrossed his arms and leaned forward. “Why, you don’t like to be analyzed?”
“Well, neither do I.” His tone dropped causing her adrenaline to rush until her heart fairly hammered with his next quiet words. “Are you going to answer me?”
Even though she knew what he was asking, she said, “I already did. I don’t like to be analyzed.”
“And I don’t like to be ignored or brushed off. Two things that you’ve managed to accomplish in less than fifteen minutes.”
She watched as he slowly dragged a hand across her desk before he smacked his palm sharply twice against the surface. The move was a clear imitation of a spanking. Was he warning her? The very idea had her tingling.
A man’s attention had never made her tingle. Ever.
Breathe Jaxx. Focus. “I did not ignore you.”
“So you admit you brushed me off.”
She shrugged. She wasn’t going to lie. “Yes.”
His jaw didn’t exactly drop, but the side of his cheek ticked as if he were chewing on it with repressed aggravation. Poor guy. Woman no doubt collapsed at his feet without the least provocation.
A full thirty seconds went by and when he didn’t speak she figured she better.
“Oh dear, are you okay?” She leaned forward and tapped his hand. “You don’t look well. Should I get the smelling salts or will we require a coroner?”
Hmm… about me. You know? I had a whole list of things to talk about. How I’m an artist, a university graduate, I was a stay-at-home mom who’d been president of condo associations, home owners associations and PTAs, but once the kids were grown, I became an entrepreneur who built and ran two successful businesses….and right there I stopped. What does all this stuff have to do with my writing career?
Oh sure that was the external fuel that got me to this point in life, but it’s the internal stuff that matters, right? So, about me? Here’s what’s important. I’m a wife, a mother, a daughter and a sibling in that order. I’ve been married to the same man for twenty-five years and I still get a thrill when he walks in the room. I have two children who -if they weren’t my kids- I’d be proud to call them friends. I have an elderly parent who lives with me now and I feel fortunate to be in a position to gracefully accept the responsibility of my mom’s care. And I have siblings. All of whom understand the journey I’m on and support it.
In a nutshell? My life has always been centered around the people I love. Just as my writing is centered around the characters I adore. I’ve waited a long time to for this and I can’t tell you how happy I am to be here.
I hope you like my guys as much as I do. They really are so bad – they’re good!
I do love to hear from my readers. If you have the time shoot me an email and say hello.