“So he liked what he saw?” she asked innocently.

“Oh yeah. He liked.”

A thought occurred to her, one that had her blushing to the roots of her hair. Her entire face was literally on fire.

“Tate, tell me you didn’t show him one of those pictures,” she whispered.

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Those pictures being ones Tate had taken of her in different sexual positions and in various stages of undress. Bound hand and foot. Some naked and spread-eagled, her hands and feet splayed wide and restrained in all directions.

They were beautifully erotic, but only intended for Tate. It made her sound like the ultimate hypocrite, being willing to allow another man to touch her. To flog her, mark her, give her pleasure. So why object to Tate ever showing such pictures to another man?

Except that to her those pictures were personal and were meant to be shared only between her and her husband. It didn’t have to make sense to anyone but her.

Tate’s expression grew serious. He cupped her chin, rubbing his thumb gently down her jawline.

“I would never betray your trust,” he said gravely. “Those pictures are for me and only me. I showed the man—James—one of my favorite pictures of you from our vacation in the Caribbean. The one of you in that sexy sundress smiling brightly enough to outshine the sun. There isn’t a man alive who wouldn’t be on his knees to have a woman like you. And that certainly includes me. You’re mine,” he said in a thoroughly satisfied voice.

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She smiled then, feeling awful for having questioned him in the first place. It was baffling to her, this new turn in their relationship, where she seemed to question him with growing frequency.

She’d never questioned him in the past. She always, without fail, abided by his decisions. Accepted without reservation whatever he chose. So why now? She bit into her bottom lip, knowing exactly why she had begun to question him, even if she hadn’t openly acknowledged it until now. She couldn’t quite shake the sense of betrayal even though Tate was going above and beyond to make amends. Maybe these things just took time. They’d both already admitted that it would take more than a weekend to set to rights two years of unhappiness and the fear of their marriage dissolving.

“I’m sorry,” she said quietly.

His look of surprise took her aback. “What are you sorry for, baby?”

“For questioning you. For not trusting you.”

His expression softened and warmth entered his eyes. He put his arms around her and rubbed up and down her back in a soothing pattern.

“I’d say you have reason for both,” he admitted. “I haven’t acted like someone you could trust or not question over the last two years. It’s me who should be apologizing to you, not the other way around.”

“You already have. More than enough times,” she said firmly. “And my apology still stands. I gave you my trust before we were even married. I gave you my love and then my submission and then my life when I married you. I’ll never regret any of those choices, Tate. I want you to know that. As far as I’m concerned the past is in the past. We’ve moved beyond that point and I have complete faith in you that you’ll keep your promise of putting me first from now on.”

“You have the most loving, generous heart,” he said in a voice thick with emotion. “I don’t deserve you. I don’t deserve your forgiveness and I damn sure don’t deserve your trust after I’ve failed you at every turn.”

She put her fingers to his lips to hush him before he could continue.

“I’d much rather hear about this night of decadence you’ve promised me,” she said with a wicked grin. “Or am I not allowed to know?”

He smiled back at her, the shadows erased from his eyes. This moment felt so much like old times. Her sitting on his lap and them just talking, teasing and just … being. It felt utterly perfect.

“All I will tell you is that I will personally choose what you wear to The House and, just a warning, it’s going to be positively sinful. At least for the time you’re wearing it, that is,” he said in a deliciously evil tone that sent a rush of anticipation flooding through her veins.

“Except for the shoes,” he murmured thoughtfully. “I plan to find out where Kylie got her killer f**k-me shoes because I’m buying you a pair just like them so that when I f**k you the only thing you’ll be wearing are those shoes. It will give my ‘helpers’ plenty of leverage to hold you down so you’re utterly helpless to my every whim.”

Helpers? Her mind was ablaze trying to imagine such a scenario. In all of the fantasies they’d played out at The House over the years, apart from Tate and whatever man he involved to fulfill both hers and Tate’s decadence, that was where it ended. Tate and whomever he deemed deserving to put his hands on what Tate considered his property. And now he had used helper in the plural. Helpers. Meaning more than one!

“Uh, Tate, I know I just apologized for questioning or trusting you, but can you tell me a little more about this trip to The House? You mentioned helpers, meaning more than one, and you specifically singled out James as the one who’d flog and mark my skin until it’s rosy and evenly marked so that when you take me you see those marks and while you didn’t administer them yourself, they were still put there by your command. I see the satisfaction that brings you.”

Tate nodded.

“But adding more than this guy James? What exactly are you planning for me—us—that night, or is all that top secret and I find out when I get there?”

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