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Painfully Attractive (Love and Care #4)
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Wren has contemplated the fine line between pleasure and pain for years, but when he finally gets up the nerve to make his fantasies reality, things go terribly wrong. His father’s best friend, Leo, comes to his rescue, and Wren knows instantly that Leo is the perfect person to introduce him to the world he longs to explore.
Leo has never met Wren before, and once he realizes who Wren is, he vows not to touch him again. Leo knows Wren’s father won’t approve of their relationship, especially considering the edgy play Leo enjoys. Leo values that friendship too much to risk it, but walking away from Wren isn’t easy. There’s a lot more between Wren and Leo than lust. They’re pulled toward one another despite the trouble their relationship could cause. Ultimately, they give into their desire and begin seeing each other in secret.
The more they explore, the more obvious it becomes that Wren can take everything Leo wants to give, no matter how kinky or intense. They are a perfect fit in bed and out. Neither of them wants to keep hiding their relationship, but they both worry that once Wren’s father knows about them, staying together will be too difficult. In order to make things work, they’ll both have to believe in the power of love.
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The doorbell rang, and Avery stood to answer it. I huddled further under the blanket he’d given me. Why had I been so stupid? Why had I told a man on a fucking app that I wanted to try pain play, then agreed to meet him at a sketchy-as-hell bar? Not at a place I knew. Not for coffee before trying a scene. I’d been so determined to overcome my fear and find someone who would give me what I wanted that I’d ignored everything I knew about safety.
The man had turned out to be an abusive asshole who didn’t want to negotiate or even hear my hard limits. I’d had to fight my way out of the back room he’d lured me to. Thankfully, some of the bar’s customers helped me, and once the asshole had been kicked out, I’d called Avery, my dad’s boyfriend, and he’d come to pick me up. He’d even been nice enough not to berate me for being an idiot, and now he’d called my dad’s best friend, Leo, to come talk to me. Apparently, Leo owned a kink club, and he also counseled people who’d had a bad experience with BDSM. Avery was sure Leo could help me figure out how to get what I want without putting myself at risk.
I’d agreed to talk to Leo as long as Avery didn’t tell him who I was. I doubted Leo would recognize me, since my dad and I hadn’t been speaking during most of the time they’d known each other. It was only recently Dad and I had become close again, so if Leo had seen any pictures of me, they were probably from when I was a little kid. But my name was unique enough that if Leo had seen me before, it might jar his memory.
When Avery opened the door and I got a good look at Leo, my mouth dropped open. I’d seen pictures of him with my father, so I knew he was hot, but I wasn’t prepared for my intense reaction to him. I let my gaze roam over his close-cut dark hair, his scruffy beard, his broad shoulders and thick, muscular body. But as gorgeous as he was, it was his presence that really drew me in. I’d never met anyone who screamed Dom quite so loudly. I wanted to beg him to hold me, because I knew he’d keep me safe.
I sat up straighter on the couch, realizing I’d stopped shivering for the first time since I’d fought off the asshole who wouldn’t take no for an answer. Leo’s presence calmed me before he’d even spoken, like my body knew him even if I didn’t.
Avery followed Leo into the living room and gestured toward a chair. “Have a seat. This is—”
“Will. That’s my name. Will.” Wow, I sounded like an idiot who wasn’t even sure of his own name. I prayed Leo would just think I was awkward or so shaken up I was failing at basic conversation. I’d been so worried Avery would forget and call me Wren that I’d jumped in with the first thing that came to mind.
Luckily, Leo didn’t seem fazed by my awkwardness. He reached out his hand for me to shake. His grip was firm, but he made no attempt to assert his dominance, not that he needed to. His fingers grazed my palm when I let his hand go, and a jolt of electricity sizzled up my arm, making me jump.
“I’m here to help you any way I can,” Leo said.
I’d been so consumed by the tingle he’d sent through me that I startled when he spoke.
“I’m sorry. Do you need some more time before we talk?”
“Oh, no. I… I was just lost in thought. It’s okay.”
Leo nodded. “If you want to press charges against your assailant, I can help you. If you want to talk about what happened, I’ll listen. And if you just want to have someone stay with you, I’ll be here. We can set up another time to talk later too, if that’s better.”
“Thank you… that’s… I just appreciate you coming.”
“You’re welcome, and once you feel ready, I’ll help you find a healthy way to explore what you’re interested in.”
“Yes, I’d like that… your help… finding… being able to…”
He smiled. “It’s okay if it’s not easy to find words right now.”
I wasn’t sure I’d have been able to talk properly around him under the best of circumstances, but even though he made me tongue-tied, I did want to talk to him. I knew instinctively that he would listen and not judge. Avery would too, but he was my dad’s boyfriend, and I really didn’t want to think about how he knew what he did about the BDSM scene.
I swallowed and tried to make my brain work. “I would like to talk about what happened and what I wanted to have happen and why I was so stupid. All that.”