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Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

The stately French Chateau at the corner of El Camino Del Mar and Sea Cliff Avenue stood majestically on impeccably landscaped grounds, exuding an aura of elegance and European grandeur. With spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Pacific Ocean, and China Beach, the mansion was situated in one of San Francisco’s most prestigious neighborhoods.

Overflowing with anticipation, the newly engaged twosome held hands as they climbed the steps to the beautiful residence. Flanked by limestone columns, the mahogany double doors indicated that the interior was just as impressive as the façade, but the opulence on display went barely noticed by the couple who were approaching the entryway. The air surrounding them was charged with their excitement, and as they came to a stop in front of the entrance, they traded glances.

“Any last words before we do this?” Dane asked.

“We’re not being put to death.” Jeneda ran her fingers through her shoulder length hair, which had been freshly pressed out from its naturally curly texture. “We’re just announcing our engagement.”

“I know. But once we tell my parents that you’re my soon to be wife, It’ll really be official.”

“Yeah…” Her voice trailed off, and as she looked into his nearly black eyes, she found herself lost in the beauty of them. “Soon to be wife, I like the sound of that.”

“So do I.” Dane planted a kiss on her lips, then pulled away to gaze at her heart shaped face. “But Mrs. Takahashi sounds even better.”

“I agree.” Jeneda said breathlessly, and with a look of pure adoration, allowed herself a moment to admire his features.

With his razor-sharp cheekbones, hooded eyes, and pale skin, Dane was undeniably gorgeous and had a magnetic personality that only added to his sex appeal. His just shoulder length hair was jet black with an incredible shine, and slightly tousled with a hint of waves. Jeneda noticed it was a bit unruly from their drive along the coastal highway, but that only made her want to run her fingers through it even more. Her eyes drifted downward to check out his tall, lanky figure, and as they came to rest on the crotch of his black jeans, she lifted an eyebrow.

“You remember what happened the last time you did that,” Dane said as he saw where she was looking.

Her lips pulled into a smirk and her body heated up at the memory of their roadside encounter. She and Dane had shared plenty of erotic moments over the past eight months, but having sex in his car in broad daylight had definitely been one of the most deliciously naughty experiences she’d ever had.

Only thirty minutes ago, he’d been balls deep inside her, and as she recalled how gratifying their erotic rendezvous had been, her inner muscles twitched. Along with being easy on the eyes, Dane was also an incredible lover, and he never failed to surprise her with his adventurous approach to sex. And yet, although she was indeed staring at his crotch, it wasn’t out of lustful desire.

“Unless you’re planning on flashing your parents, you might want to check your zipper,” she said.

Her words enticed Dane to glance southward, and as he saw that his boxer briefs were in fact partially exposed, he quickly pulled up his fly.

“Don’t know how I missed that.” His lips tugged upward, and he lifted his hand to ring the doorbell.

A chiming noise came from behind the doors of the mansion, followed by the sound of approaching footsteps. Expecting to see Dane’s mother, Jeneda was surprised to see that the doors opened to reveal his father instead and as the handsome Japanese man rested his eyes on the couple, he broke into a smile.

“Dane, Jeneda. What a wonderful surprise.” Naohito gestured with his arm to welcome them into the foyer, and once they’d crossed the threshold, he shut the door behind them. “If I’d known you two were stopping by, I would have called Kitty and told her to come home early.”

“Don’t tell me she’s still taking those golfing lessons,” Dane said.

“No, she gave those up weeks ago.” Naohito led Dane and Jeneda out of the foyer and into the formal living room before motioning for them to take a seat on a cream colored chaise lounge.

“I didn’t know Kitty was into golf,” Jeneda said.

“She’s not.” Naohito took a seat on a sofa situated directly across from Dane and Jeneda, then crossed his legs horizontally so that his ankle rested against the knee of his khaki pants. “She only did it to spend more time with me.”

“Anything my dad does, my mom wants to try, as well.” Dane explained to Jeneda, and with more than a touch of amusement, he said to his father, “So I guess those custom golf clubs you bought for her will be collecting dust in the garage.

“Twelve hundred dollars right down the drain.” He shook his head, then gave a sigh before pulling his shoulders into a light shrug. “Ah, well, what can I do? I never could say no to that woman.”

“My dad doesn’t like to admit it, but when it comes to my mother he’s a big softie,” Dane said to Jeneda.

“The love of a good woman will do that to you.” Naohito looked pointedly at Dane before averting his gaze to Jeneda and giving her a wink.

She smiled, then turned her head to look at Dane, who offered her a loving glance before looking back at his father. “Where’s mom?”

“Playing tennis with Bridget. She should be home in the next half hour.”

Dane nodded, then stretched an arm over the back of the chaise lounge. “No rush, we can wait.”

A freckled, brown haired maid carrying a tray of iced teas and finger sandwiches entered the living room, and after setting it down on the coffee table, she addressed Dane’s father.

“Will you be needing anything else, Mr. Takahashi?”

“No thank you, Susana. We’re all set.”

She nodded, then turned on her heel and left the room. Both Dane and Jeneda leaned forward to grab a glass of iced tea from off the tray and after taking a few sips, helped themselves to a watercress finger sandwich.

“It really is a pleasure to see you two,” Naohio said, “but I’m guessing you’re here for a special reason.” He looked from Dane to Jeneda and then back again. “You’ve got news, haven’t you?”

“Yes, but I’d rather wait until mom gets home, that way you’ll both find out at once.”

He gave his son a long, hard gaze, as if hoping that his prying eyes would somehow extract the information he was so curious to hear. “Not even a hint?”

“Sorry dad, you’re just going to have to wait.”

Naohito retrieved an iced tea from the tray, then took a long, slow sip while looking over the rim of his glass at Jeneda. After quenching his thirst, he placed his beverage on the table, and with an inquisitive expression still on his face, he said, “Not sure if you’re okay with drinking alcohol, Jeneda, but the iced tea has a bit of rum in it.”

“Oh, I don’t mind. I love mint julep.”

“Just thought I’d give you a heads up in case you’re sensitive to liquor.” He politely smiled, but continued to closely study her, as if searching for clues that would confirm his suspicions.

Jeneda returned his smile with one of her own, then quickly tucked her left hand beneath her thigh so that her engagement ring was hidden. She wasn’t certain if he’d noticed it yet, but from the way he was still curiously eyeing her and Dane, she guessed that he hadn’t.

And then suddenly, as she sat there nibbling on her mini watercress sandwich, she came to a realization. Dane’s father was eyeing her a lot more than he was his own son, and although he had attempted to be sly about it, she’d noticed that he’d taken a few lingering glances at her stomach. At the time she’d found it strange and even a little concerning, but now that she thought it over once again, she found that only one conclusion was to be made. He was under the impression that she was pregnant.

What other reason would he have for warning her that the iced tea had rum in it, and why else would he cast suspicious gazes at her belly? He obviously didn’t know what else the announcement could be, so her being knocked up by Dane probably seemed the most likely possibility. Curious to know if he was still watching her, Jeneda lifted her eyes to see that he wasn’t and had chosen instead to focus his attention on his son.

“So, how are things coming along with your new graphic novel?” Naohito asked.

“Great. It’s nearly completed.” Dane popped another finger sandwich into his mouth and after taking a gulp of iced tea, added, “If you wouldn’t mind, I’d like to have you take a look at it. Just to see if you think it needs any improvement.”

“Sure, I’d be honored.” Naohito casually sipped his beverage then started to say something else, but his words were cut off by the sound of someone opening the front door.

All eyes drifted towards the foyer and after a brief moment passed, a tall, blonde woman with a slim shape strolled into the living room. Her outfit, which consisted of a pink racer back tank, white tennis skirt, and Adidas tennis shoes, was the perfect combination of style and practicality, and her makeup was minimal, yet skillfully applied to highlight all of her best features.

Her brows rose at the sight of the couple seated on the chaise lounge and in a tone that conveyed her surprise, she said, “Well hello, there. I didn’t know you were stopping by for a visit.”

“Hello, mother.” Dane rose to his feet and gave her a hug.

“Hello, darling. How are you?”

“Couldn’t be better, and you?”

“I may have mildly sprained my ankle playing tennis,” she said as they parted from the embrace, “But other than that, I’m very well.”

With a look of concern on his face, Dane directed his gaze towards her feet. “Did you sprain the right ankle, or the left one?”

“The right one, but It’s nothing to fuss over, dear. I’ll live.” She directed her eyes to Jeneda and with a nod of acknowledgment, said, “Hello, Jeneda. It’s nice to see you again.” Her blue eyes, however, told an entirely different story.

“It’s good to see you too, Kitty.” A smile tugged at her lips and although the greeting she’d given would have normally been less than genuine, this time she truly was happy to see her.

Kitty took a seat on the couch next to Dane’s father and after giving him a peck on the lips, crossed her legs and fixed her eyes on Dane.

“So, to what do we owe the pleasure of this visit?”

“They have an announcement,” Naohito said.

“Really.” An inquisitive look crossed her fine features and with more than a hint of anticipation, she asked, “What kind of an announcement?”

Dane shared a look of excitement with Jeneda, and after taking hold of her hand and slipping his fingers through hers, he began to speak. “Mom, dad, Jeneda and I are engaged.”

Brief silence followed, during which Dane’s parents exchanged a glance that conveyed utter astonishment. Then averting his eyes so that they were fixed back on the couple, Naohito suddenly broke into a smile.

“Wow, I wasn’t expecting this. Congratulations.” He averted his gaze back to his wife and in a voice that was clearly meant to coax her, he said, “This is fantastic news, Isn’t it, honey?”

She gave no indication of having heard him, only stared with wide, shocked eyes at the couple sitting across from her. “You’re engaged?” She said it dumbly, as if caught in a daze, and after darting her eyes back and forth a few times between Dane and Jeneda, she focused her attention on her son. “When did this happen?”

“Yesterday evening.”

“Where did you propose?” Naohito asked.

“Grace Cathedral. Not inside of the church, but in the gardens out back.”

“Good choice,” Naohito said. He glanced at Kitty, as if expecting her to speak as well, but all she did was continue to stare at Dane and Jeneda with a wide eyed expression. “Cat got your tongue, Kitty?” He lightly chuckled, then patted her thigh to get her attention.

“I’m just surprised, is all.” She blinked a few times, as if struggling to process what she’d just heard, then briefly lowered her gaze before looking back up at Jeneda and Dane. “Congratulations.”

“Thank you,” the couple said simultaneously.

“So, show us the ring.” Naohito eagerly leaned forward in anticipation.

Without a moment of hesitation, Jeneda held out her left hand and proudly displayed her ring, which was fashioned from twists of white gold that flowed into a stunning round diamond.

“Very nice.” Clearly impressed, Naohito leaned in even closer to check out the virtually flawless gemstone. “Excellent choice, Dane. You really know how to pick out an engagement ring.”

“Guess I got lucky,” he said. “There were so many different choices at that jewelry store, I really wasn’t certain which one to pick.”

Kitty adjusted her body so that she could check out the ring as well, and after a few moments of studying it in silence, she finally spoke. “It’s beautiful.” Then lifting her gaze to Dane’s, she said, “It must have cost you quite a bit of money.”

“She’s more than worth it.” Still holding his fiancee’s right hand, he tenderly stroked the back of it with his thumb while lovingly gazing into her eyes.

Jeneda looked back at him with equal affection, nearly blushing as her lips curled into a demure smile. Naohito watched them with a pleased look on his face, but Kitty stared at them with a strained expression, as if she found their display of adoration distasteful.

“If you’ll excuse me for a moment, I’ll just change out of these tennis clothes and freshen up.” Her lips pulled into a barely visible smile and she rose to her feet, then quickly made her way towards the foyer, which contained stairs that lead up to the second level.

Seemingly embarrassed by his wife’s sudden departure, Naohito gave Dane and Jeneda an awkward smile, then took a sip of his mint julep before offering an explanation. “She’ll be back in a bit. She just needs a moment to be by herself.”

Jeneda glanced at Dane and he tried to offer her a reassuring smile in return, but the corners of his mouth refused to move even a fraction of an inch. So instead, he lightly squeezed her hand to express empathy.

“We didn’t even get to tell her our other news,” Dane said to his father.

“What other news?”

“Jeneda is coming with me to Japan.”

“Wow, how exciting. Will this be your first trip overseas, Jeneda?”

“Yep. First time out of the states.”

“Well Japan is a great country to visit so I’m sure you two will have a wonderful time.”

“Dane tells me he spent his gap year out there,” Jeneda said.

“Yes, he did. He loved it so much, he almost ended up staying for good.”

“Really?” Jeneda looked at Dane. “You didn’t tell me that.”

He lightly shrugged. “Yeah, well…it was a long time ago and I was young and idealistic.”

“What stopped you from staying?”

“I got homesick. A full year of living in Japan was an amazing experience, but I’ve never felt more at home than here in San Francisco.”

“His return home may have also been spurred by me and Kitty refusing to fund his stay any longer,” Naohito said.

“That’s not true.” The embarrassment on Dane’s face was clear. “Money wasn’t an issue. I would have stayed regardless.”

“And done what?” His eyes twinkled with humor. “You were barely eighteen years old and had no prior work history. What would you have done to support yourself?”

“I could have gotten a job somewhere. And, I actually had a plan to do some solid, constructive things. I wasn’t just going to screw around and waste my time out there.”

“Well I do remember you saying you wanted to attend a special school to train to become a manga artist. But that would have taken quite a bit of money.”

“Like I said, I could have gotten a job.”

He said it with such conviction that Jeneda couldn’t help but smirk, and as she looked at Dane’s father, she noticed that he was watching his son with a look of utter amusement.

Naohito lightly chuckled, and after taking a brief glance at Jeneda, he said, “Alright, Dane. I believe you.”

“Now you’re just being condescending.”

His face split into a wide grin. “Seriously, Dane. I was just giving you a hard time.”

“So you were purposely embarrassing me.” A hint of annoyance crossed his features. “And right in front of my fiancée.”

“I only do it out of love. You’re a grown man now and well on your way to having a family of your own. Soon I won’t be able to tease you anymore.”

“Yeah, well enjoy it while you can. “Dane tried to keep a serious look on his face, but as his father continued grinning at him, he eventually caved in and smiled. “Just letting you know, you will not be giving a speech at our wedding.”

“We’ll see about that,” Naohito playfully said, and he finished off the last of his mint julep. “So Jeneda, have you already told your parents that you’re getting married?”

“Not yet, but I’m planning on calling them tonight.”

“How do you think they’ll respond to the news?”

“My mom will be really surprised. But I think she’ll be happy for me.”

“And what about your dad?”

The mere mention of her father filled Jeneda with a pang of sadness and although she was trying very hard to keep a poker face, she knew that her distress was apparent to both Dane and Naohito. “To be truthful, I’m not all that close with my dad, so I’m really not too sure I’ll even be able to get a hold of him.”

“I’m very sorry to hear that.” Naohito’s brows knitted in concern, and in a voice that conveyed genuine worry, he said, “I don’t mean to pry, but do you think you’ll be able to build a closer relationship with him fairly soon? Because it really is important for a father to give his daughter away to her future husband.”

Jeneda shrugged and as her eyes grew moist, she blinked a few times to discourage any tears from falling. “I don’t know, maybe. But he’s made it pretty clear that he wants to keep his distance from me, so I don’t think it’s going to happen.”

Dane was focused intently on Jeneda and seeing that she needed his emotional support, he wrapped his left arm around her waist, then placed a soft kiss on the top of her head.

“She’s estranged from her dad,” Dane said. “So it’ll take some time and effort to make things right between them again.” Guilt flashed across his face as he said it and his shoulders slightly sagged as he lowered his gaze to the floor.

“It makes me sad to hear that.” A look of compassion overtook Naohito’s features, and he lightly sighed before continuing to speak. “As Dane has probably already told you, he and I went through a rough patch as well. I was very disappointed in him. So disappointed that I refused to call or visit during his entire stay in prison. Looking back on it now I can see that was a mistake. But at the time, I was angry and eager to punish him in any way that I could.”

He momentarily paused to look down at his hands, then lifted his eyes back up to focus on Jeneda. “Seems silly, doesn’t it? Trying to punish someone who was already being penalized.” He briefly paused before continuing. “Anyways, the reason I’m mentioning all of this is because I want you to know that there is hope. I don’t know what led to you and your father being estranged, but if Dane and I could rebuild our relationship, there isn’t any reason why you and your dad won’t be able to as well.”

She let out a shaky breath and said in a wavering voice, “I hope you’re right.”

“I’m sorry to have even brought this issue up. I know you two came over here to announce your engagement and I’ve put quite a damper on things. So I apologize for that.”

“It’s fine, you had no way of knowing.” She weakly smiled, then took a sip of her iced tea.

“Anyhow, I really am pleased to hear that you and Dane are engaged. I know how much he loves you and I’m happy that he has such a wonderful woman to share his life with.”

“Thank you, Mr. Takahashi.”

“And since you two will be getting married, why don’t you let Kitty and I throw an engagement party?”

Dane and Jeneda exchanged an uncertain look, and after a few moments of hesitation on both their parts, Dane offered some words.

“I don’t know, Dad. An engagement party seems so formal. And besides, we haven’t even had time to make out a guest list. Not to mention, we don’t have a date picked out for our wedding.”

“It wouldn’t have to be right away, so you’d have plenty of time to take care of all those details. And in case you’re worried about it being some big, fancy event, I was thinking we could keep it small and intimate. Jeneda could invite her friends and family, and you could invite yours.”

“What do you think, honey?” Dane asked while looking at Jeneda.

“I think it would be nice. And it would be a good way for my mom and brother to meet your parents.”

Dane nodded in agreement and looking back at his father, he said, “Sounds like a plan. But are you sure mom will be on board with this?”

“Of course I am. Why wouldn’t I be?”

All eyes turned to see Kitty, who was walking out of the foyer that was connected with the living room and after making her way to the couch where Naohito was seated, she settled beside him.

No longer clad in her tennis outfit, she was now wearing a striped boat neck top, white, slim fit ankle pants and canvas tennis shoes. Her refined, yet relaxed appearance made it seem as if she’d just stepped from the pages of a Ralph Lauren catalogue, and although just minutes ago she’d appeared shocked beyond belief, she now appeared to have considerably collected herself.

“No reason,” Dane slowly said. “I just wasn’t sure if you’d want to be bothered with all of the planning.”

“Well as your father said it will be a small, intimate affair. And besides, I can always hire an event planner to take care of the intricate details.”

“Alright, sounds good,” he said with a nod. “But Jeneda and I will need some time to figure out who we’re going to invite, so give us a few weeks before you start making any arrangements.”

“Of course. Just let us know and we’ll take it from there, darling.” She smiled, but purposely kept her eyes focused only on her son.

Although Dane’s mother had never kept her antagonistic feelings fully hidden, Jeneda still couldn’t help but feel insulted by Kitty’s refusal to make eye contact. Yet instead of allowing herself to dwell on the friction that existed between her and the other woman, Jeneda decided to suppress her true feelings and kill the other woman with kindness.

“We appreciate your involvement, Kitty. And if you need any help at all you can always feel free to ask for my input.”

Dane’s mother diverted her gaze to Jeneda, and with an expression which seemed to say, ‘I know what your game is, and I can play it just as well as you,’ she looked her straight in the eyes. “Thank you for the offer, Jeneda, but you do have a wedding to plan. I wouldn’t want to overburden you.”

“It wouldn’t be a burden, Kitty. Really. I’d be happy to do it.”

Silence fell between them and with artificial smiles that were nearly identical, they simultaneously expressed their dislike for one another. Yet although they put on their most pleasant faces, neither Dane or Naohito seemed fooled by their display of amicability.

“Well, I guess we better be hitting the road.” Dane lightly tugged on Jeneda’s hand, and together they rose to their feet.

“You sure you can’t stay a little longer?” Naohito asked. “I was hoping we could share a celebratory drink.”

“Thanks for the offer, dad, but Jeneda and I have dinner reservations so It’d probably be a good idea if we went home and changed before heading back out.”

“No problem, we can always do it another time.”

Both Naohito and Kitty stood up from the couch and with Dane and Jeneda leading the way, headed towards the foyer. Once they were all there, Dane exchanged light banter with his parents, then gave each of them a hug.

When it came time for Kitty and Naohito to exchange pleasantries with Jeneda, Naohito was first to step forward, and in a move that was totally unexpected, he pulled her into a light hug.

“Welcome to the family, Jeneda. We’re happy to have you as one of us.”

“Thank you, Mr. Takahashi.” She hugged him back and as they parted from the embrace, she offered him a smile.

Her gaze then drifted to Kitty, and with palpable awkwardness, they both stood there looking at each other. Then, with an air of hesitancy, Kitty offered some words in parting.

“As always, it was nice to see you, Jeneda. And once again, congratulations on the engagement.”

“Thanks, Mrs. Takahashi. It was nice seeing you again, too.”

It was mutually understood that they wouldn’t hug, so instead they only gave each other a smile. Then with Dane leading the way, Jeneda followed him outside and down the stairs that led to the curved driveway. It wasn’t until they were seated in the car and pulling away from the house that Jeneda finally spoke, and in a tone that was more than a little dissatisfied, she verbalized her thoughts.

“Your mom really doesn’t like me, does she?”

Clearly hesitant to answer, Dane waited a few moments to give his response. “I don’t know. She doesn’t exactly hate you, either.”

Jeneda knew he was trying his best not to choose sides, and she could fully understand him not wanting to get in the middle of things, but she still found herself wishing that he wouldn’t be so tight lipped about it, either.

“Okay. So maybe she doesn’t hate me. But she definitely doesn’t want me in your life.”

Dane lightly sighed and keeping his eyes on the road, he said, “She’ll come around. Just give her some time.”

“And what if she doesn’t?”

A light shrug preceded his response. “I don’t know. What do you want me to say?”

She wasn’t exactly sure so she only gazed at his face, noting the sense of unease that had crept onto his features. Then letting out a small breath, she looked down at her engagement ring. It sparkled brilliantly on her finger and as she stared down at the stunning gemstone, she came to the realization that in the grand scheme of things, Kitty’s opinion of her really didn’t matter at all.

Not only was she blessed with a man who was the epitome of every fantasy she’d ever had, but he also unequivocally loved her, and would do whatever it took to keep her happy and wanting for nothing. To put it simply, she was damn lucky, and although she knew that Dane did have his flaws, she was also well aware of what a desirable catch he was.

She guessed that Dane picked up on the affectionate vibes she was emitting, because he reached out to take her hand in his, and after veering onto a bluff that overlooked a picturesque stretch of rocky coastline, he allowed the car to idle.

“You know how much I love you, right?” His hooded eyes focused intently on her face.

“Of course,” she said.

“Then it shouldn’t matter what my mother or anyone else thinks. The only thing we need to be concerned with is our happiness.”

She nodded, watching as he traced his thumb over the ring on her finger.

“This ring is a symbol of our commitment to one another. A representation of the deep connection we share.”

“A bit early for our vows, Isn’t it?” A light smile tugged at her lips.

His own mouth curved upward in response, and giving her a look that was just as captivating as it was steady, he said, “Nothing can come between us, love. It’s you and me in this relationship and no one else.”

He leaned in to steal a kiss from her lips, and as the tip of his tongue lightly played against hers, she sighed and deepened the oral embrace. The faint sound of the waves lapping on the shore below accompanied their soft murmurs, and as his fingers traced light patterns against her chestnut brown thighs, Jeneda’s hand reached up to tenderly cup his face. They slowly pulled back to stare into each other’s eyes and after taking a few moments to regain her breath, Jeneda spoke a few words.

“Do you believe in fate?”

“In a way. Why do you ask?”

“Because meeting someone like you couldn’t have been pure chance.” She gazed lovingly into his eyes, and as her fingers found their way to his hair, she languidly slid them through his silky locks.

“So what you’re saying is, you planned me into your life.”

She nodded. “What do you think?”

“I’ve always been a firm believer that you make your own destiny, but considering that I’ve done absolutely nothing to deserve you, I guess I’d have to agree with you about predetermined lives.”

“That’s not true.” She lazily trailed a finger along his bottom lip. “You deserve me just as much as I deserve you.”

“That’s sweet of you to say, but you’re clearly my better half.” He leaned in to nuzzle his nose against hers before adding, “And don’t say you’re not, because It’s true.”

A smile graced her lips and after giving him a gentle peck, she said, “I feel like ice cream.”

“That was random.” A light chuckle spilled from his lips before he added, “What flavor?”

“Chocolate chip cookie dough. Double scoop.”

“Cone or cup?”

“Cone. Why?”

“So I can watch you lick it, of course.”

She grinned and bit her lip coquettishly. “That mind of yours. It never stops thinking of sex, does it?”

“Takes one to know one,” Dane said.

He put the car into gear and with a swerve of the steering wheel, drove off.

* * * *

Located at the end of Pier 39, McKay’s Waterfront Grill and Bar was an elegant restaurant with panoramic windows directly facing the San Francisco Bay. Along with providing fantastic views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz, McKay’s offered specialty cocktails and first-rate seafood. The dim lighting and candlelit tables made it the perfect place for an intimate dinner, and although the dining establishment was nearly filled with patrons, it didn’t take away from the cozy, romantic ambience.

Seated at a table situated next to one of the floor to ceiling windows, Dane and Jeneda gazed out at the twinkling lights that lit up the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a captivating sight and although Jeneda had seen the iconic suspension bridge countless times over the past twenty-eight years of her life, it never failed to amaze her just how beautiful it was. She snuck a glance at Dane to see if he was still admiring the view as well, but as she noticed that he was checking her out instead, her body grew warm beneath his intense gaze.

Clad in a tasteful little black dress with a peekaboo cutout, she was perfectly attired for their romantic evening. Wanting to complement her outfit with makeup on the dramatic side, she’d accentuated her eyes with black eyeliner and dark eye shadow to give herself a seductive smoky look. She already had naturally long eyelashes, so she’d gone easy on the mascara, but had chosen to highlight her brow bones with just a hint of silvery eyeshadow .Jeneda was far from conceited, but even she had to admit that she looked pretty damn good, and as she gazed at her lover, she found herself admiring his clothing for the night.

Understated, yet stylish, Dane’s outfit consisted of a dark gray button up shirt that was layered beneath a black dinner jacket, and a pair of black trousers. His inky black hair was left loose to hang freely above his shoulders, and as always, it had that tousled, ‘can’t be bothered to run a comb through it,’ look.

As beautiful as he was, she eventually found her gaze drifting back to the panoramic windows, and within moments, was once again enraptured by the stunning view of the San Francisco Bay. It took the sensation of Dane’s fingertips lightly trailing across her hand to bring her focus back to him, and as she looked into his eyes, he gently smiled.

“I’m starting to think you’re more in love with that bridge than you are with me,” he said.

“Jealous of the Golden Gate, are you?”

“Well there are people who’ve been known to fall in love with inanimate objects. They’re called objectum-sexuals.”

“Yeah, right.” Her neutral colored lips spread into a wide grin. “You totally just made that word up.”

“But I didn’t,” he said. “It’s a real condition. They even made a documentary about it.”

“Really…” Still uncertain as to whether or not he was pulling her leg, she lowered her gaze to his lips, as if expecting him to break out into a smirk. “And what sort of objects do these objectum-sexuals fall in love with?”

“Cars, buildings, amusement park rides…” He briefly paused to enjoy her expression of disbelief before continuing. “And just so you know, there’s a woman out there who wants to marry the Golden Gate Bridge. So you do have competition.”

Jeneda let out a hearty chuckle, and with a light shake of her head, she gave a response. “This has got to be the strangest conversation I’ve ever had.”

“Well at least I’m keeping you entertained.”

“That’s never been a problem and you know it.”

Their eyes locked from across the candlelit table and he reached out to grab her hand so that their fingers sensually intertwined. They were only allowed a few moments to gaze at one another in silence before a waiter approached their table, and after removing the cork from the bottle in his hand, he poured them each a glass of wine. He then set the bottle on the table and with attention focused on Dane, posed a question.

“May I suggest a dessert to go along with the Vin De Paille, sir, or will you be enjoying it alone?”

Dane looked at Jeneda for input and after receiving a shake of the head, he gave his response to the waiter.

“The wine will be fine, thank you.”

The server gave a polite nod, then headed off toward another table.

“Have I told you how incredibly hot you look tonight?” Dane asked.

It wasn’t just his compliment that caused a flare of heat to spread between her thighs, but the way he was fucking her with his stare, and in a voice that was more than a little husky she said, “Yes, you have. But feel free to mention it as many times as you like.”

A smile spread across his lips, and he leaned in closer before quietly asking, “What do you have on beneath that dress?”

“What do you think I have on?”

Silence filled the air between them while he seemed to think about it, and after allowing his gaze to focus on her chest for several long moments, he looked back into her eyes. “A pair of panties.”

She lifted an eyebrow, and with a hint of a smile on her lips, she said, “I notice you didn’t mention a bra.”

“That’s because you’re not wearing one.”

“You’re wrong,” she said. I am wearing one.”

“Prove it.”

Jeneda couldn’t help but notice how challenging his tone was, and also noted the way he was staring unblinking into her eyes. She held his gaze with just as much intensity and as the sexual tension grew thicker between them, a wave of arousal gushed through her.

“But we’re in public.”

“That’s never stopped you before.”

“That was different. We were in a secluded spot, with nobody else around.”

He said nothing in response, only continued to give her a look that masterfully exhibited his unwillingness to accept anything but an affirmative answer.

“We’re surrounded by people,” she asserted. “I can’t do it here.”

“Can’t or won’t?” The smirk he wore seemed to egg her on, daring her to step outside of her comfort zone.

“You’re really asking me to do this now? Right here?”

“Yes, I am.” He clasped his hands together and in a voice that was seductive and smooth, yet thoroughly commanding, he said, “Show me.”

Jeneda quickly took an inconspicuous glance around at the diners who were seated closest to them, and only after she was completely certain that nobody was watching, did she slowly bring a hand up to her chest. Then, with more than a little trepidation, she moved the peekaboo cutout of her dress further down so that the lacy edge of her bra was exposed to Dane.

“Very nice.” His gaze lingered hungrily on the soft mounds of flesh that spilled above her demi-cup bra, and only after he’d gotten an eyeful, did he look back at her face. “Victoria’s secret?”

“Frederick’s of Hollywood. I thought you might appreciate seeing me in some new lingerie.”

“Most definitely,” he said in a low, sexy voice. “And I can’t wait to get you out of that dress so I can show you just how thankful I truly am.”

The mere thought sent a surge through her body that resonated between her thighs, but before she could fully immerse herself in the delicious sensation, Dane asked an unexpected question.

“What about the panties?”

“The panties?”

“Yes, the panties.”

His brazen expression left her feeling completely stripped of any clothing at all, and although Jeneda was well aware of how much he enjoyed pushing boundaries, she still found herself surprised at just how far he was taking their erotic game.

“You want to see my panties.” She stared at her fiancee in disbelief. “I’m more than down with getting a little naughty, but don’t you think that’s taking it a bit too far?”

“I’m not asking to see them, I want you to describe them to me.”

“They’re see-through G-strings with black lace trimming….” She paused to enhance his anticipation before continuing to speak in a seductive voice. “I guess I should also mention that they’re barely large enough to cover my pussy, and ridiculously flimsy.”

Dane’s brows lifted at her declaration and with an expression that clearly conveyed his increasing arousal, he said, “So in other words, I could rip them right off you.”

His bawdy words caused her nipples to pebble into hard nubs and her already soaking pussy began to ache at the mention of penetration. She didn’t have a chance to respond, however, because Dane leaned in closer and in a voice that dripped with lust, made another wanton statement.

“It makes you wet, doesn’t it?”


“The idea of me taking control and completely unleashing that other side of myself.”

“I’ve seen your other side. And I already know that you’re very dominating.”

“But I’m also far kinkier than you could ever imagine.”

This declaration incited curiosity in Jeneda, and although she already knew that Dane was an unconventional kind of guy, she found herself eager to hear just what exactly he considered as deviant behavior.

“So what does that mean, exactly? That you’re into S&M?”

He lightly chuckled. “I’m not a fan of sadomasochism. I prefer bondage and discipline over any other BDSM practice.”

“What about dominance and submission?”

“There are many different types of dominant and submissive activities. Some I enjoy, and others I’m not so fond of.”

“Tell me the ones that you are fond of.”

He hesitated a moment, as if trying to decide whether or not to divulge the information. Then with a hint of unease in his eyes, he said, “We’re crossing into new territory here. Are you really sure you want to hear this?”

“Dane, we’re engaged. If we can’t be open and share our interests, then what kind of a marriage are we going to have?”

“It’s not that I don’t feel comfortable opening up to you,” he said. “I just don’t want you thinking I’m some kind of weirdo.”

“Too late, I already do,” she said in a joking tone, and as his lips pulled into a smile, she returned it with one of her own. Then, with a less humorous expression, she offered some more words. “Seriously, though. After all that we’ve been through, do you really think I would judge you over your sexual interests?”

“Maybe you wouldn’t judge me but you might look at me differently.”

Jeneda reached across the table to touch his face, tenderly cupping his cheek as she looked deep into his eyes. “Part of the reason I’m attracted to you is because you’re so different than any other man I’ve ever been with. You are who you are and I love you for that, so I couldn’t possibly be scared off by anything that you tell me.”

She noticed him visibly ease at her reassuring words and as he gave a little nod in response, she pulled away from him and leaned back against her chair.

“So, tell me. As far as dominant and submissive activities go, what really turns you on?”

Dane placed his hands on the table and clasped them together. Then locking his deep, dark eyes into hers, made a declaration. “I’m into erotic knife play.”

At a loss for words, she simply stared at him and waited for an explanation of the term. But as she realized that he was waiting for her to speak first, she vocalized her curiosity. “Okay. And what exactly does that entail?”

“Well It’s pretty much what it sounds like…,” His voice trailed off to allow a brief moment of silence. “It’s when knives are used to provide physical stimulation.”

“So what you’re saying is, you get off on cutting…”

“No, nothing like that.” He shook his head to reinforce his words. “I’m not into giving or receiving pain and drawing blood doesn’t turn me on. I just enjoy the feel of a sharp blade sliding lightly across my body.”

“Do you only receive or also reciprocate?”

“I enjoy both giving and receiving.”

“And when you’re exploring the receiver’s body, where does the blade touch?”

“Anywhere I choose to place it.”

Simultaneously unsettled and turned on by the idea of a knife making contact with her nude body, Jeneda found herself watching Dane with a curious expression. He looked right back at her with his nearly black eyes, and as he leaned in a little closer, she caught a whiff of his cologne.

“It’s not as crazy as it sounds,” he said. “In fact, it’s quite sensual.”

“It must also be a little scary, though. Having a sharp knife moving across your naked body.”

It’s only scary if you don’t trust the other person. Otherwise, you really have nothing to fear.”

She gave no response, only stared intently at his face, as if seeing it for the very first time. It wasn’t until he placed his hand over hers that she allowed her gaze to drift downward, and as he lightly traced patterns along the back of her hand, she felt a sensation akin to sparks shooting through her nerve endings.

“You do trust me, don’t you?” Dane asked.

“Of course I do.”

“Then you know that your safety is the most important thing to me. And I definitely wouldn’t do anything to cause you any pain.”

She couldn’t help noticing that he was speaking as if she’d already given her consent to engage in knife play, and began to wonder if he was under the impression that she had. Yet even with her uncertainty about it, she couldn’t deny that she was thoroughly intrigued by the idea and maybe even more than a little excited.

She guessed that Dane was more in tune with her feelings than she could have ever imagined, because a tender expression crossed his features and in a voice that was softer than before, he said, “I know you haven’t expressed an interest in having it done to you, but if you did decide to engage in blade play with me, I would be very gentle and extremely cautious. And I definitely wouldn’t hurt you.”

“I know you wouldn’t, Dane. I don’t doubt that for a minute.”

“Good, I’m glad to hear.” He took a sip of his wine before asking, “Just out of curiosity, does the idea of knife play excite you at all?”


“Only maybe?”

His soul piercing eyes looked steadily into hers, as if seeking to read her thoughts, and as usual, she found herself amazed at how effortlessly he captivated her. Without even realizing it, Jeneda began tracing the rim of her wine glass with the tip of her finger. Curiosity was in her eyes, but there was also a hint of uncertainty.

“If I were to let you do this, what kind of a knife would you use?”

“A switchblade. I have a variety of Japanese knives that are fairly dull, but have just enough of an edge to provide you with excellent stimulation.”

“And if I decided during our session that I didn’t want to continue on, would you immediately stop?”

“Of course. I would never expect you to engage in knife play without having a safe word.”

With each question that Jeneda asked, her misgivings gradually lessened. And although she still hadn’t given Dane an affirmative answer, she already knew deep down inside that she was more than ready to try something new and a little edgy.

“In case you’re wondering, I’m not interested in us having a full-time dominant submissive relationship,” Dane said. “And I certainly don’t expect us to engage in power play on a daily basis. It’d just be something we could enjoy every now and again.”

“Well that’s good to hear, because I definitely couldn’t see myself doing it 24/7.” She took a sip of her wine, savoring its nutty, raisiny flavor before continuing. “But I guess I wouldn’t be entirely opposed to giving the knife play a try.”

Dane visibly perked up at her words, and with a sparkle in his eyes he said, “I was hoping you would say that.”

“I’m not promising that I’ll do it on a regular basis, though,” she quickly added. “I just want to try it out once, to see what It’s like.”

“Of course, I would never pressure you into anything more.” He grabbed her hand and held it firmly in his while making deep eye contact. “Just knowing that you trust me enough to try it out really means a lot to me.”

“Of course I trust you. Would I be marrying you if I didn’t?”

He lightly smiled before leaning in closer, and like a magnet, Jeneda’s lips were drawn to his. His mouth tasted just as sweet as the French wine they’d been enjoying, and his wet and willing tongue brushed languidly against hers, inviting her to partake in an erotic dance. She happily obliged, and after exchanging a kiss that was loving and tender, yet lusciously wet, they pulled apart.

“So I know you love to dominate,” Jeneda said, “but would you ever be interested in switching roles?”

Dane’s brows lifted in surprise. “You want to dominate me?”

“Sure, why not? I think it could be fun.”

“Well I do have this fantasy of you tying me up and taking advantage of my body.”

“Really…” Her voice trailed off as she allowed her vivid imagination to go wild. “And what sort of things do you imagine me doing to you?”

“Kissing and licking me from head to toe. Using your mouth to bring me to the edge of orgasm, and then denying me the pleasure of climaxing.”

“You want me to cock tease you?”

“Yes. Why? Would you be opposed to doing that?”

“No, not at all. In fact, I’d enjoy it.”

A husky noise resounded from the back of his throat, and an expression that epitomized raw lust crossed his face. “I’m going to devour you when we get home.”

“Well I guess we better get going so you can satisfy your appetite,” she said.

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