He let it go for now. It was, after all, very fast. She'd been with him less than a day. What had happened to his noble idea of giving her weeks to come to him? Well, she did come to him. And then she'd comeforhim. Angel had decided he now had an all-access pass and was no longer willing to wait weeks or months to woo her. Any fears she had could be dealt with this way just as well as by pretending to be a gentleman.
“Astrid, let's say we had met in a different, normal way. What if you had never met Joey, you met me instead, and you never knew about what I did for work. If I was kind and took care of you, would it be okay under those circumstances for you to want me?”
“Y-yes, I think so.”
“And then, what if... in the course of this normal relationship, you discovered I had some kinks and I wanted to play a trust game with you? What if you played it, found that you liked it, and learned that it was safe to trust me? Would that be okay?”
“I mean... yeah. People do that stuff safely. It's just that you're a killer and...”
Angel pressed a finger to her lips. “No. This is a hypothetical conversation. In this world you don't know that.”
“But I don't like it,” she said.
“Because of Joey?” Angel asked. “Is that your only experience with this?”
“And in the scenario I laid out, you never met Joey. I was your first exposure. Is there no part of you that can see the possibilities?”
She shrugged and looked away. “I don't know.”
“Well, I do. The way you responded to me last night, I could make you want anything. Play a trust game with me, Astrid. You'll see.”
She shook her head. “I could never trust you.”
“I'll make a deal with you. Give in to me today, everything I ask, and if you don't love everything, I'll back off.”
“You'll let me go?”
“I didn't say that. I said I'd back off.”
“Again, how can I trust you?”
“If you couldn't, would I have bothered with this conversation? We both know I could have done anything I wanted with you from the moment I took you. I don't need to negotiate. There is nothing to stop me. If I was really the monster you fear, you'd already be chained down to that bed accepting whatever I decided to do to you. So I'll ask again, will you give me today?”
She bit her bottom lip and sighed as if this were the weightiest decision of her life. How could it be when he was allowing the decision to begin with? She had to know this was the truth of her situation. Maybe she thought if she said no she could delay things. As if slowing down the timeline changed the destination.
“O-okay,” she finally said.
“Okay, Master,” he corrected. “If you're giving me today, you're also giving me the title I requested.”
“Okay, Master,” she said.
“Good girl.” Angel was sure if he were to slip his hand underneath her panties, she would be warm and wet and ready for him already. He gestured to the lingerie on the bed. “I want you to change into this and then come upstairs.”
He saw the excitement in her eyes when he gave the order. Yes, this girl was his. She just didn't know it yet.
Astrid sat alone in the dungeon room staring at the lingerie beside her. It was an elegant black leather corset, lace panties, and a black satin robe with lace trim.
Classical piano music drifted down the stairs to her. She was surprised he played. She'd just assumed he had a piano because it seemed like the kind of thing someone with a lot of money would have to appear more cultured—though as far out as he lived, who would he have to impress? Angel didn't seem the type to host large gatherings.
It made her wonder who he even brought to this room. Had they been girlfriends? Prostitutes? What if they had been women like her? Where were they now?
But he was right. About everything. She was attracted and wanted him, even though she knew it was wrong. And he could do whatever he wanted. No one could stop him. Joey had never shown this sort of patience or willingness to reason with her. Wasn't that a sign that these two men were not the same?
Her experience with Joey had colored things to the point her first urge was to flee. She'd tried to run from Joey once even before she'd known too much about his business. It had ended in pain and blood and bruises. He'd been absolutely enraged that she would dare try to leave him. She'd learned quickly from that mistake. And the lesson had only grown stronger when she'd discovered how much criminal power he held in the underworld and just how secure her cage was.