Light Me Up by Raisa Greywood
It’s the Ladder 54 countdown! Three more days until this smoldering new box set is released!! The preorder has just gone live, which means the sale price of $2.99 is in effect! Get your copy now, because when Ladder 54 publishes on Friday, the price will jump back to $4.95!
What do you get when five smokin’ hot firemen put themselves up for auction to help with a charitable cause? How about anything a lady could want.
Five brand-new stories. Five weekends their ladies will never forget. These Doms have set the thermostat to ‘Panty Melting’… that is, if they’d let you wear them.
How about a sneak peek at the second story in the set?
Theo used to be Selene’s hero, but she doesn’t need one anymore, especially after he blew her off and moved across the country to get away from her. When she goes to Montana on business, she learns things about Theo that might make her change her mind about her childhood hero.
After escaping Greektown and his horde of well-meaning relatives, Theo is content in Big Banks, Montana. A chance meeting with a woman he’d left behind makes him rethink what he thought he wanted. Selene Alexiou fits none of his outdated stereotypes, but he wants her anyway.
When Theo and Selene meet for the first time as adults, chemistry isn’t the only thing sparking between them.
“You want me to go where?”
Selene Alexiou stared at her partner, Rick Jensen, across the cluttered expanse of her desk as she nursed her first cup of coffee. She had to work hard to keep her composure. Big Banks, Montana was the absolute last place she wanted to go.
Glowering at her, Rick asked, “Is there a problem with the location? This is your project, and I’m busy with my own.”
Shaking her head, she forced a smile. “It’s fine. I’m just not thrilled about Montana in April. They get more snow than we do.” There was no way in hell she was going to tell Rick the real reason she didn’t want to go to Montana. Big Banks, Montana meant Theo Papadakis, the last man in the world she wanted to see.
Rick grimaced. “Yeah. And don’t worry about the flight. The client’s sending a private plane. I guess the airport’s a little remote. It’s supposed to pick you up at Midway in a few hours.”
“Way to give a girl a little notice.” She shut down her laptop and gathered her files. “I’ll text you when I land, but email me anything else I should know. I’m taking the rest of the week off.”
“Hey! We have other projects going on!”
Scowling, she said, “I haven’t had a vacation in two years, but you went to Europe last spring, right? And you’ll be on family leave after Meghan makes you a proud papa.”
He held up his hands in defeat and gave her a sheepish grin. “You win, but in my defense, that was my honeymoon.” He dropped a stack of paper on her desk. “Here’s the flight information.”
“I’ll think of you when I’m lying on a beach in Mexico.” Selene tried to keep the irritation out of her voice as she put on her coat. The unwanted trip wasn’t Rick’s fault.
As Rick walked toward her office door, he said, “Just don’t let some smooth-talking stud take you away from us. This place would fall apart without you.”
“No chance of that,” she muttered. Rick was already gone and didn’t hear her irritable remark.
* * *
She had way too much time to think during the five-hour flight to the middle of nowhere. A few years older than her, Theo Papadakis had been the big kid who had earned her schoolgirl adoration when he’d beaten the crap out of her brother Hector for picking on her braces back in the fourth grade. Not that she’d ever let him or anyone else know about her crush.
Despite not having seen him for years, her father and Theo’s mother had thought it was a good idea to set them up for a lunch date almost a year ago. Their respective parents had grown up in the same Greektown neighborhood.
It seemed that Theo had moved halfway across the country to avoid the small commitment. A fucking lunch date, but he’d brushed her off with a humiliating message left with one of his sisters. Thanks to the well-fertilized Greektown grapevine, the message had made its way all over the neighborhood before it reached her.
Was the thought of dating her so horrible? Maybe. She hadn’t exactly been looking forward to the date herself, understanding the pressure their families would place on them. Most days she wondered if any family tree in Greektown had forking branches.
She looked out the window at flyover territory as she pondered what it was about Theo that made an otherwise capable, intelligent woman turn into a whiny adolescent. Why did she care so damned much what he thought? She was better than this.
Her trip to Big Banks was unavoidable, but the meeting would be quick, and she had no reason to linger. Even if she saw Theo in passing, he wouldn’t recognize her. She’d had surgery to correct her vision, her teeth were straight and perfect, and she’d learned how to use a flat iron on her bushy hair. The ugly duckling dressed in her cousin Lida’s castoffs had turned into a swan.
To her surprise, the pilot doubled as a chauffeur and drove her into town. After thanking the pilot for the smooth flight and the lift, Selene managed to complete her meeting in just a few hours. She kept a professional smile as she shook her client’s hand. They could have used videoconferencing to deal with his questions without dragging her to the ass end of nowhere.
She typed a quick follow-up message to Rick, then walked down the street in search of a coffee shop, her wheeled suitcase in tow. She didn’t have much; a few bikinis, shorts and t-shirts, and one little black evening dress, just in case. She was wearing the only warm things she’d brought; a wool suit with a pencil skirt hitting her just above the knee and a pair of sexy, heeled boots. It would be at least an hour before the pilot could take her to Missoula to catch a flight to Mexico.
Finishing her message, she looked up from her phone. The view of the mountains over the low buildings was spectacular. She’d never seen anything like it except in photos and movies, and looking at it in person was a whole new experience. She’d have loved to sip her coffee outside if only it weren’t so damned cold.
A brown awning over a storefront framed a wooden sign that read ‘Java the Hut,’ causing her to laugh out loud. Any place that used a Star Wars reference for a business name was golden in her book. A cheerful bell rang as she walked in, and she inhaled the rich scents of fresh beans and baked goods. After placing her order with the barista, she sat down at an empty table, her mind unwillingly returning to the gorgeous man who had caused her to second guess herself.
He’d always wanted to be a firefighter. While she was delighted he’d achieved his goal, why hadn’t he wanted to stay in Chicago? Grimacing, she realized he’d probably moved for the same reason she had; a desperate need to get out of Greektown. Did Theo come to this coffee shop? What would she do if he walked in right now? She lowered her head and fiddled with the buttons on her jacket. She could be brave at work, but the thought of confronting Theo in a social setting made her palms sweat.
The barista called her name, and she got up to collect her latte. As she wound her way through the dining area, a conversation between two older women stopped her in her tracks.
“We’ve got five firefighters ready for the auction, Sophie. Theo said he might be a little late, but he’ll be there by dinner.”
“I can’t tell you how much this means to us, Emma. You didn’t have to do so much.”
“Trust me, it’s my pleasure. You and Walt would do the same for any of us, and this auction is a perfect way to help cover the bills insurance won’t pay.”
Approaching strange women in coffee shops wasn’t exactly her forte, but hearing about a firefighter named Theo was too tempting. She stopped at their table with uncharacteristically shy hesitation.
“Excuse me, I couldn’t help but overhear you. Were you talking about Theo Papadakis?”
One of the women wore a curious expression. “Do you know him?”
“Yes, we grew up in the same Chicago neighborhood. I’m Selene Alexiou.”
The two women looked at each other, grinning as they invited her to join them. Selene’s eyes widened as they described their plan to auction five hunky firefighters for a date night at an expensive lakeside resort outside of town.
“My husband Walt’s just been diagnosed with cancer,” said Sophie. “This auction is our best hope of getting the funds we need so he won’t have to worry about anything but his recovery. Making plans for this kind of thing is hard, but he loves the Crystal Cabin Club and he’s been looking forward to this event for weeks. It will be a hell of a party.”
“I’m so sorry to hear that,” Selene said, reaching out to touch Sophie’s hand. “It must be a great relief for you both to have such a supportive community. We do the same things in Greektown, but it’s always less beefcake and more… cake.”
Sophie blinked and cackled at Selene’s joke, her eyes filling with tears of mirth. “You probably make a killing on that, too. Theo’s given me some of his mother’s sweets.”
Emma pulled some paper from her bag, shuffling a few sheets aside before Selene could get a good look at them. But what she saw made her catch her breath. The photo was of a large dungeon play space, complete with a St. Andrew’s cross, spanking benches, and other equipment she couldn’t name. Damn. If she’d realized what Theo had been up to around here, she’d have been on the first plane to Montana a year ago.
Sophie touched her hand and tugged the photo away from Emma. “I hope we can trust you to keep a confidence, Selene. The Crystal Cabin Club is an open secret in Big Banks, but not everyone is understanding.”
“Of course. It’s nobody’s business what consenting adults do on their own time.” She grinned impishly and tapped the photo. “Nice cross, by the way. Is it custom?”
Sophie chuckled softly. “Yes, it was built to fit the play space back in the nineteen twenties. Do you play?”
“I’m kind of a dabbler,” Selene demurred. It wasn’t exactly a lie; she’d been interested in D/s for years, but had never had the opportunity to scratch more than the surface of the dynamic.
The auction sparked a brilliant idea, and the chance to see Theo under different circumstances came into focus. She didn’t want revenge for her humiliation. Not really, anyway. They each had their own lives to live, and she had no interest in a relationship, even with her childhood crush. No, she wanted her confidence back.
She wasn’t the ugly duckling anymore. Intellectually, she knew that, and finding a date had never been much of a challenge after she reached adulthood. She wanted to see a spark of interest in Theo’s eyes and know it was for her.
She could go to Mexico tomorrow. Smiling, she held out her hand to her new friends. “Where do I sign up for this thing?”
* * *
A black-tie affair normally called for the tailored tuxedo in his closet, but this wasn’t that kind of event. After a year in the Crystal Cabin Club, he knew what to expect, and skin was in. He’d be wearing the tux for the buffet supper, but the after-party dress code was turnout gear and nothing else for him and four of his closest friends.
Theo still couldn’t believe he’d agreed to be auctioned off for a spanking weekend with a submissive he might not know. The auctions, both for the firefighters and the silent one for donated goods and services, had been opened up to nonmembers. Who the hell would spend money on a dom for a night?
The benefit was to support Walt Lassiter, head of their fire station. The man had been a mentor and father figure for the Greek boy so far from Chicago. Walt, and his wife Sophie, had helped with the transition to his new Western home, teaching him the joys of Tejano food and tequila. He’d never tell Mama, of course, but Sophie’s carnitas were better than anything she’d ever made and had long since supplanted stadium hot dogs as his favorite food.
Though he sometimes missed them like crazy, his huge family had ruled his life for a long time. His move to Montana was the best one he’d ever made for establishing his own way in the world. When he found out the job included a town with a well-respected BDSM club at an expensive lakeside resort, he couldn’t join the rural county department fast enough.
His own family was so very, very Greek. Greek cooking, Greek schools, Greek friends, Greek Sundays… A year ago, just a few days before he was scheduled to start his new job with Ladder 54, his mother had even tried to set him up with Selene Alexiou, the geeky, buck-toothed daughter of a childhood friend. He hadn’t seen the kid for years, but he’d heard she’d gotten some fancy degrees. He could understand having one. Unless she’d gone into a trade like most of their Greektown neighbors, she’d need it. He didn’t understand why she needed a doctorate, but he supposed she must have had a reason. It seemed like a big expense for a working class family, though. She also wasn’t exactly a kid. If he remembered correctly, she was only a few years younger than him, making her twenty-seven or so.
He felt a twinge of guilt about that cancelled lunch date. He’d been in the midst of packing up his small loft apartment when his mother called to tell him about it. If he’d had more time, he might have taken Selene out, but he’d had only three days to make the drive and get settled in his new apartment. It wasn’t as if they were dating or anything; she wasn’t his type, and he probably wasn’t hers. Hell, by now, she was probably already married.
Damned cancer. Walt and Sophie deserved a lot more years together. If a woman was going to bid on a dom for the evening, she needed to see a stern alpha, but he’d have to give them a performance to drive the bids up. He and the other four participants had agreed that Theo would go last. He wouldn’t call himself a professional, but he’d danced before when he needed extra money. To his surprise, no one teased him, though he wouldn’t have cared if they had. He just hoped it didn’t end up on YouTube. His performance would be the last chance to get those bids soaring.
As he drove to the cabin, he wondered who would bid on him. He’d played with many of the subs who frequented the club, but none stood out as a likely candidate. Owned by the Lassiters and expanded by hundreds of members from four surrounding counties, the Crystal Cabin Club was housed in a gorgeous log framed hunting lodge on the shores of Crystal Lake. Filled with handmade vintage equipment, it had the best play space he’d ever seen, far outstripping the few clubs he’d enjoyed in Chicago.
The lot was mostly full when he arrived, and he let out a soft curse as he jockeyed for a spot near the back of the parking area. Grabbing the duffel bag containing his turnout gear, he strode between cars and followed a beautifully dressed couple past Walt’s Camaro and inside. Despite the cold weather, the woman wore a shimmery red silk evening dress covered by a lace shawl. Her date’s tuxedo-clad arm wrapped around her waist to help her negotiate the cobblestone path leading to the patio entrance.
He winced and sighed as he stole a quick peek back at the car. Walt had put it up for the silent auction accompanying tonight’s festivities. Theo knew it would go to a good home, but it was a damned shame Walt had to sell it.
Sophie greeted him, tugging on his jacket to pull him down for a kiss. “Thank you for agreeing to the auction, Theo. You don’t know how much we appreciate it.”
“It’s the least I can do. Where is the old fart, anyway?” He looked around, but didn’t spot Walt.
What he did see was a goddess with pin-straight dark brown hair and a curvy ass tucked into a tight black evening dress with a slit almost to her hip. One shapely leg flashed, terminating in a wicked black stiletto. A small tattoo of a Greek goddess on her shoulder peeked at him from behind the curtain of her hair. He couldn’t get a good look at it, but he thought it might have been Athena.
Damn, that ass made him run a hand over his mouth to check for drool. Sweat bloomed on his lip, and he swallowed hard. Arms hooked with Emma Reed and a woman he didn’t know, the dark-haired beauty walked toward her table. She looked vaguely familiar, but Theo was sure he’d have remembered meeting such a striking creature.
Fellow auction offerings and firefighters Blake Anderson and Troy Channing settled in their chairs on either side of him while they waited for the buffet line to diminish. Scents of prime rib with all the trimmings made his stomach growl, though the noise was hidden under conversation and music from the orchestra.
As Troy began to speak, Theo watched avidly as the goddess walked to the bar and turned to face him. The skin around those pretty brown eyes crinkled as she pursed her lips and smiled at him. The bartender handed her a rocks glass filled with clear alcohol. She dropped a bill in the tip jar and thanked him without letting her eyes leave Theo’s face. Lifting two fingers to red-painted lips, she blew him a kiss and winked.
Burning heat crawled up his collar for the first time in years. Damn, what he wouldn’t give to have that gorgeous creature to play with. He could picture her bound against a St. Andrew’s cross, her back painted with red stripes from his flogger. Blue wax would be perfect too, and his throat dried as he pictured her writhing body while the hot fluid landed on a tender nipple.
Fingers snapped in front of his face, and he tore his gaze away from her. Scowling at Troy, he asked, “What?”
“What’s got your attention, Theo? I’ve asked you three times when you want to hit the lake for some fishing. It’s too bad we all can’t get the same time off, or we could head up to Declan’s fishing cabin together.”
“I’d say his mind’s on the stacked brunette at his twelve,” Blake murmured. “Wonder if she’ll be bidding.” He scowled and jerked his chin toward Tammi Lou Butterworth standing next to her. “Looks like she isn’t a fan of our resident Sugar Baby, either.”
Theo had to hold back a laugh as Tammi Lou’s high-pitched giggle carried through the room. She said something to the group of men with her, making the goddess frown. Tilting her aquiline nose in the air, she picked up her drink and stalked off.
“Good thing she’s after Walker and not us,” Troy said. He shuddered and added, “I hope that brunette is bidding. Hell, I’ll pay her tab if she bids on me and wins.”
Theo choked back the growl trying to crawl up his throat. If anyone was going to have her, it was going to be him. He just had to figure out how to entice her to bid on him.
* * *
Despite knowing Sophie less than a day, seeing the adoration between her and Walt was palpable and heart-wrenching. Their cause made the auction much more than a simple way to attract Theo’s attention. The gods of commercial construction and a unique skill set had made her an in-demand engineer, and she commanded a high price for her expertise. The money she contributed would be a real gift to the lovely couple.
She crossed her fingers, hoping she’d bid enough on the Camaro. Though she had no intention of taking advantage of Theo’s services, she had no doubt she’d win him. But she’d seen too many men eyeballing her car to be entirely sure she’d offered enough. She couldn’t have been the only one trolling online auctions to find the market value.
The prime rib buffet was probably the best she’d ever eaten, and she was the veteran of many unpalatable charity dinners. Selene stole a glance at Sophie, seated at the head of the table, too close to a rather unpleasant blonde woman she’d had the misfortune of overhearing at the bar while she waited for her drink. She had half a mind to bid on every single man up for auction just to keep the blonde from getting her acrylic claws into any of them. Hell, they’d probably thank her. It was one thing to be overtly sexual; that didn’t bother Selene at all. But the woman had been openly predatory and rude.
The orchestra put their instruments away and left the stage. Thumping bass poured from hidden speakers and the sensual beat made her want to dance as the excitement in the air burned to a crisp edge.
Knowing about Selene’s plans, Emma grabbed her hand. “Come on, the auction is about to start. Let’s get a seat in the back so he can’t see you. When are you going to spill the beans about who you are?”
“I’m going to let Sophie take care of that, but I’ll speak with him if he approaches me. I’m planning on going to Cancun tomorrow.”
“But what about your auction night? You’ll need to stay around for a few days to collect on that.”
“I’ll donate it. He can find someone else, I’m sure.”
Emma blinked, her surprise evident on her pretty face. “You’d blow that much money just for a chance to tell him off?”
No. Well, yes, maybe. A twinge of guilt crossed her mind for the dirty trick she was about to play on Theo. “This isn’t really about revenge. I’m just going to show him what he gave up when he ran away like a pussy.”
Coughing out a laugh, Emma said, “Well, I think you’ve already managed that. He hasn’t stopped staring at you all night, but I don’t think he recognizes you.”
Allowing herself a triumphant grin, Selene said, “I know.”
Watching all five of those perfect specimens of manhood strip out of their turnout coats and helmets was beyond hot. Mist from a fog machine swirled around their feet, and she had to swallow hard to clear her throat.
It was the man on the end who caught her interest, though. The last time she’d seen Theo had been at his high school graduation. In the same class as her cousin Lida, he’d been slim with a youthful frame. Now, he was all chiseled muscle with a scattering of dark hair across his chest, leading into a sweet treasure trail she wanted to trace with her tongue.
Shouts and exclamations of horror drew her attention from Walker Daniels, the first man to be auctioned. To Selene’s shock, he stepped off the stage and ran toward the unpleasant blonde woman, reaching her in time for her to get sick all over his shoes. Selene winced as the woman raced away, crying as she held the back of her dress. Though Selene hadn’t wanted to see one of the men in her clutches, she hoped the other woman was okay. Walker lifted a hand to his mouth, miming taking a drink. Selene shook her head. What a waste of a great evening.
Forgetting the blonde woman’s distress, she turned to face the stage again. Though all the men were gorgeous, she didn’t raise her arm to bid. The thought of one of those massive hands spanking her bottom until it was red hot was a powerful incentive, though. When Declan Kennedy walked across the stage, she nearly bid on him. She could satisfy her curiosity and still show Theo what he’d missed.
Letting the paddle fall to her lap, she shook her head. Theo was too close, too much of a draw for her attention. Besides, Mexico was calling, and she didn’t want to stay in Big Banks any longer than she had to.
* * *
Theo stood with the others, his gaze straying to the lithe, sensual body in a killer black cocktail dress. She chatted with the woman sitting next to her, but her eyes met his more than once, and she looked away every time with a tiny smile.
Though Declan had been hesitant about the auction from the beginning, he grinned and flexed enough to gather a very respectable bid.
He scowled when his woman’s paddle twitched during Declan’s performance as though she were getting ready to bid on him. Theo was going to use that lighted piece of wood to spank her voluptuous ass for even thinking of bidding on someone else. Thankfully, the winning bid went to a woman in the back row of folding chairs.
Sophie clapped as Theo took Declan’s place on stage. When the crowd quieted, she said, “Ladies, let’s give it up for our very own Greek god, Theo Papadakis, for whom a quickie is anything under two hours!”
Ignoring the wolf whistles and catcalls, Theo focused only on his goddess, glad to see he had her attention, though she hadn’t yet made a move to bid. The stage lights in his eyes prevented him from seeing her face, and he could only make out her voluptuous body.
“This one is hotter than a four-alarm fire,” Sophie said into the microphone, swaying her hips as her tight dress swirled around her ankles. “Theo is a master with a flogger and impact play, ladies. The things he does with those leather falls make a grown woman whimper. His combination of ice and fire will have you panting at his feet, and he’ll turn your bottom red to make sure you stay still for the ride.”
He took a step forward, getting most of the light out of his eyes as the bidding soared. She sat quietly, her hair resting on her shoulders like a dark chocolate river. She wasn’t as calm and contained as she pretended, though. Straight white teeth dug into her lower lip and her brow creased with a frown as her ankle bounced in time with the music. It was time to make his goddess sweat, and he sauntered to the edge of the stage. He’d given this show before, and the little minx would learn exactly what she’d be missing out on if she didn’t raise that paddle for him.
“Go Theo!” shouted a feminine voice from the back of the room. He nodded and grinned easily as the music picked up a beat and several people began to clap.
His eyes never left her sensuous body, and his cock grew harder when he allowed himself to imagine what secrets she was hiding under the smooth fabric of her dress. With an easy grace, he ran his hands over his pecs and down his abs as he moved his hips back and forth to the music. When he pulled his belt out of its loops and cracked it with a snap, the crowd roared.
He didn’t hear the bidding calls, or the dollar amount as it rose higher but women shrieked in delight at the unexpected show. Though she smiled and laughed at something her companion said, she didn’t attempt to join the furious bidding.
As the music continued, Theo put his left hand behind his neck and threw his head back, then motioned to the crowd demanding more shouts. With a grin, he flexed his muscles and winked while sliding his hand down his abs toward his belt line. When he lowered his hand down the front of his pants, the crowd roared in approval.
To his irritation, his woman refused to move. If she’d just raise that damned paddle and made a large enough bid, he could be done with this entire show. He didn’t see any cameras or phones out, but if his little performance ended up on the internet, he was going to blister her pretty backside but good.
He burned from a combination of anger and frustration and it took a glance at Walt standing by the bar to keep him going. The bids were coming so fast he couldn’t hear them, so he released a suspender, allowing the heavy fabric to drop over one hip and reveal the crease of his groin and the room exploded with noise as several women shouted in a mini battle for his services.
At two thousand dollars, the room grew quiet and Sophie finally said, “Going once…”
God damn it! The goddess hadn’t so much as twitched an eyelash, but her paddle showed the tiniest sign of life.
“Going twice for two thousand…”
To his shock and gratitude, she lifted her paddle, but didn’t smile as she met his eyes. In a voice as cold as ice, she said, “Three thousand.”
The jump in bidding and the resolve on her face shut down the war with an oppressive silence. One more paddle went into the air, held by a sub he’d played with before. His mystery woman gave him a satisfied smirk as she outbid her rival.
Sophie whooped in delight, making the crowd laugh and applaud. “Sold to Dr. Selene Alexiou for three thousand, two hundred. Congratulations, Doctor, and thank you all for participating in our Date-A-Dom auction.”
Theo’s heart skipped and stalled before returning to a measured beat. Selene… Alexiou? He’d just been bought for a kinky scene by the buck-toothed, skinny kid with the older brothers who needed a good ass kicking every now and again? Her father was going to fucking kill him.
Light Me Up by Raisa Greywood available only in the Ladder 54 box set, due to be released this Friday, 8/31 and on SALE NOW!
About the Author:
Raisa is an up and coming author of romance with a dark and naughty twist. Her heroes are sometimes flawed but always the alpha in the room, while her heroines are atypical and can take anything those bossy alphas dish out.
She is the winner of the 2017 “Ignite the Flame” contest sponsored by Central Ohio Fiction Writers in the Paranormal category. The one thing that Raisa most loves is tipping tropes on their ears and making fun of them. She also adores alliteration.
She’s lived all over the world but currently resides in the Midwestern United States with her husband, two irascible cats, and a big bay rescue horse.
Check out Raisa’s newest release, Bastard’s New Baby, available now at all your favorite retailers. You can find the buy links at: https://raisagreywood.com/books/bastards-new-baby/
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