Heavy Equipment(4)

By: Skye Warren


He brings me down gently, working me softer with his hands, placing gentle kisses over my chest. It’s disconcerting, the way he’s treating me. Suddenly nice. Almost kind. Until I see his eyes.

They aren’t kind. They’re the eyes of a predator who’s enjoying the chase.

He lifts his hand to stroke the skin left exposed by my dress from my collarbone to the tops of my breasts. In my sated, sex-drowsed state, it takes me a second to realize what he’s doing. He’s not just touching me. He’s writing on me, his fingers still wet from my pussy, leaving a trail of my arousal on my skin.

MINE.

He lifts a lazy eyebrow, daring me to contradict.

I close my eyes, because I know it’s true. Because he means to humiliate me with the act. Because it’s working. This is how it will be with us—pleasure and embarrassment, intensity and shame. And I have no choice, because I’m the good daughter. I do what I’m told, even if the man in charge of me is no longer my father.





CHAPTER TWO




Japan tried to send over cherry blossoms once before 1912, but the Department of Agriculture was concerned about insects. The US burned the trees, nearly causing a diplomatic crisis.

There are Town Cars and limos. The occasional Escalade.

Once my date for a ball picked me up in a Tesla so new it was not yet for sale to the public.

These are the vehicles I’m accustomed to. Asher Cook steers me with his hand on my elbow, his touch light but unmistakable, to the foyer where the front doors hang open, letting in the sunlight. A large white truck sits in front of the marble steps. This is the man my father turned to for help.

This is the man with enough money to bail out Li Industries.

“What do you do?” I ask, growing more nervous with every passing step. Wind brushes over my skin, cooling the come on my chest, making me shiver.

“I’m surprised your father didn’t mention me,” Asher says, his lazy smile making it clear he’s not surprised at all. “We’ve been working together for years now.”

He opens the door and holds out his hand. I don’t want to accept his help, but the truck is ten thousand feet off the ground. I’m not sure I can make it inside gracefully, even with his support.

My chin rises. “In what capacity?”

“I’m the foreman. All those shiny shopping centers your daddy likes to build, like the world’s his very own Monopoly board? I’m the one who built them.”

A laborer. I can almost hear the word in Papa’s voice. Dismissive, that’s what he would be. Asher Cook wears a plain white T-shirt and jeans that look soft from wear. His boots have probably walked through a thousand worksites. “And your money?”

“My money.” The word comes out mocking. “I’m not what you call a big spender. Don’t attend the society galas and whatever the fuck. That’s what you like, isn’t it, June? The glitz and the glamour.”

It’s the only life I know, but I don’t tell him that. “Then what do you buy?”

His hand still waits for me, patient to a fault. He must know I don’t have a choice. He made me come up against the wall. I couldn’t control that, but taking his hand? Stepping into his truck? That decision will have to be mine.

He wants me to participate in my own humiliation.

He leans close, near enough I can see the deep brown of his eyes even in the clear sunlight. “Every so often there’s something I want, and then I have a nice fat bank account to make sure I can have it.”

My skin flushes hot with awareness. “I’m not for sale.”

“Aren’t you?” His laugh runs down my spine. “Then walk back into the house. No one’s going to stop you. Tell your Daddy that you aren’t going to fuck me, that he can find some other way to pay back all that money he owes. I’d love to watch the beautiful June Li tell her Daddy to go fuck himself.”

The temptation beats through my veins, thrums in my ears. It’s a siren song, the desire to escape from Asher’s dark promise. Except the safety of this house is an illusion. Papa isn’t going to protect me. He would not have sold me if there was any other choice; that much I believe.

The good daughter. That’s me.

I place my hand in Asher’s, and he lifts me carefully into the seat. When I’m settled on the wide leather bench, the door slams shut, closing me in. I keep my gaze straight ahead as the truck rumbles to a start. Where are we going? I don’t want to ask. I don’t want to give him the satisfaction.

We barely hit the freeway when he lets out a low laugh.

I swallow hard. “What’s funny?”

“Nothing’s funny, beautiful. I’m laughing for the pure fucking joy of it.”

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