When reporter Cassie Pierce interviews Aidan West at the scene of an accident, she’s mesmerized by his deep blue eyes and laser-like focus. The fact that he pulled a pregnant woman and her small son from a wrecked vehicle after it plunged into a lake impresses her too.
Even though the interview between Aidan and Cassie is supposed to be all business, there’s an undeniable pull between them that proves too much to resist.
When Cassie agrees to go out with him she realizes Aidan has another side. Dominant. His intense focus carries over to the bedroom and she discovers Aidan doesn’t like to give up control. Aching for the pleasure that she knows he can give her, Cassie does something she’s never done before: submit.
“Hi, Mr. West is it? I’d like to shake your hand. It’s not every day that I meet a hero.”
He turned his gaze in her direction and a shiver passed through her body that had nothing to do with the cool, damp evening. The fading light surrounding them didn’t disguise the vibrant blue of his gaze. His eyes zeroed in on her face and she nearly flinched under their intensity. He raised the corner of his mouth in a wry smile and that’s when she let her stare travel over the rest of his face. Dark stubble dotted his chin and jaw and outlined the shape of his sensual lips.
“I wouldn’t call myself a hero. I’m just an ordinary person who reacted the way anyone else would in my position.” His voice was a rich baritone. It was calm and steady, just like the rest of him appeared to be. Despite the commotion surrounding them, he was composed and at ease in the chaotic environment.
“Please call me Aidan. And your name is…”
She smiled at the familiarity he’d set with his tone and demeanor. Many people were weary of the press. Although, he didn’t have any way of knowing that she was a reporter, now did he? She gasped and her cheeks grew warm. She’d been so thrown by his looks and show of bravery that she’d forgotten to introduce herself. That never happened.
“I’m Cassie Pierce, with The Yakima Mirror.”
She thrust her hand toward him. He took it in his and gave it a firm shake. Despite the cold, his palm was warm when it met hers. A tingle traveled up her arm from the brief contact.
“Pleased to make your acquaintance.”
“Likewise.” She cleared her throat and tried to break the spell. She’d steer the conversation back toward her purpose, to get his statement of the events. “Well, Aidan, I’m afraid I disagree with you about your actions not being a big deal. I can’t imagine jumping into a frigid lake and saving the lives of two people. Three, if you count the unborn child.”
“Thank you for the compliment.”
She fumbled with the digital recorder in the pocket of her raincoat. After she pulled it out and turned it on, she tried to hold the device steady. Her hands shook and she almost dropped it in the mud. Why did she suddenly feel as though she were all thumbs? The Yakima Mirror might not be a huge, Pulitzer-prize winning organization, but she’d had her share of bylines over the three years she’d been on staff. The man—Aidan—was looking at her intently and his steady, laser-like focus rattled her.
“I’ve already interviewed one of the emergency personnel and I’d really love to get your account of the accident. Starting with how you were able to act so quickly. Can you go over the sequence of events for me? How were you able to unbuckle the child from its safety seat and pull the mother out as well?”
“I…honestly I’m not sure I can answer that completely. It all happened pretty fast. Like I told one of the officers, I was jogging along the shoulder. I was looking in the other direction when I heard the squeal of the tires on the pavement.
“The next thing I remember was seeing the woman’s car spinning out on the slick road. She lost control and the car crashed through the guardrail and went into the lake nose first.”
He closed his eyes and paused as though he were replaying the scene in his mind. His brows were knitted together and Cassie recalled the intense way he’d stared at her moments before. A raindrop hit him between the eyes and trickled down his nose. He wiped at his face with the blanket. It almost looked as if he’d just wiped away a tear, though she knew it was just a droplet. She got the sense that a man like him didn’t become upset easily, but it appeared he was struggling with something now. When he opened his eyes and looked at her again, he wore a tortured expression that hadn’t been there before.
“Even with the windows of the car rolled up I could hear the noise from inside. The child was crying. The mother was screaming, ‘It’s okay, baby! Mommy’s here.’ When she saw me swim up to the driver’s side of the car, she insisted that I get the little boy out of the backseat first.
“I hesitated, for like a split-second. I wanted to get her free first.” He stared into her eyes. “It’s not because I didn’t think the child’s life was any less important. Far from it. It’s just…”
He looked away from her. She studied his profile and admired the way his Roman nose balanced his strong jaw and masculine facial features. When he didn’t continue right away, she wondered if perhaps her assessment of him hadn’t been incorrect. Maybe he wasn’t as stoic as he’d seemed moments earlier. She placed her free hand on his forearm.
“It’s okay, that part can be off the record. You were running on adrenaline. I know that your actions might not have been the same as when you were acting from a more level-headed place.”
“It’s nothing like that. I’m kind of embarrassed to admit this part to you. I don’t have kids of my own, but I do have nieces and nephews. I’ve never been able to work the buckles on those damn child car seats.
“I thought if I could get the mom free first, she could help me get the kid out of his seat.” He gave a sheepish grin. “Somehow I unbuckled that little one from his seat without any fumbles. Make no mistake about it, there’s no way I would’ve left that little boy or his mother in that car.”
“That’s what you were worried about? You are extremely brave. I defy anyone who reads this article to call Aidan West anything less than a hero.”
“About that. I have one request in regards to the article.”
“Anything the hero asks.” She smiled.
“Can you please not print my name?”
“What? Why not? You should be proud of what you did this evening.”
“I am, but I don’t need recognition or a lot of praise for doing the right thing.”
Heat spread along her chest and settled into her tummy. The warm and fuzzy feeling was fleeting. She’d interviewed a lot of people throughout her career. In her experience, people tended oversell their accomplishments and gloss over their faults. She’d never met someone who didn’t want to be acknowledged in the newspaper for saving a gnat, much less saving the lives of a pregnant woman and her small son.
If she hadn’t been a journalist, and trained to be skeptical, his modesty would’ve been refreshing. As it was, she found it odd and her reporter’s instincts told her there was something he wasn’t telling her. Aidan West was human, and as such he had an ego. It defied logic and human nature that he wouldn’t want to be recognized, no matter how trivially, for his good deed. There was something else at play, something else he was holding back and she was determined to find it.
Of course, he didn’t need to know that.
Dominant and Daring is available now at all e-book retailers. For buy links, visit https://authorarielstorm.com/books/erotic-romance/dominant-and-daring/
About the Author
Ariel Storm believes that fantasies are meant to be explored, on the pages of her manuscripts, and beyond. She writes erotic romance readers can sink their teeth into, covering everything from contemporary BDSM to paranormal. Ariel fell in love with all things paranormal, magical and mystical at a young age. Her obsession with the dark, dangerous and forbidden began in her teen years as a way to rebel against her strict religious upbringing. Visit her at authorarielstorm.com, find her on Facebook and Twitter.