A Little Harmless Obsession
What begins as a quest for submission becomes an unrelenting need for love.
May Aiona’s crush on sexy Evan Chambers is a bad habit that should be easy to break. It’s not like he’s ever noticed her. Looking for a safe place to release the reins of control and explore her curiosity about BDSM, May takes a friend up on an invitation to visit an exclusive bondage club—all she has to agree to is a public submission.
Evan can’t help but notice the exotically beautiful May. But despite his success, the dirty secrets of his past whisper that he’ll never be good enough for her. When Evan sees her standing in his club ready to submit to his best friend, he gives in to the thing he wants most—May as his sub. After their session, he knows one night will never be enough. But loving May isn’t easy for a man always ready to take charge. She might like to submit in the bedroom, but she doesn’t like anyone telling her what to do outside of it.
When May insists she’s not in any danger from the person seemingly obsessed with her, she ends up in the sights of a deranged stalker—with Evan possibly too far away to help.
» WARNING: The following book contains: sexy Hawaiian settings, crazy relatives, and a submission scene that leaves the heroine breathless and the hero frustrated. There are toys, bondage, and love scenes so hot, you’ll need ice water and a towel. Remember, it’s a Harmless story, so you know there’s nothing harmless about it.
Read an Excerpt
A ripple of pleasure shimmered through May Aiona the moment Evan Chambers walked through the front door of Dupree’s. Her breathing hitched, her pulse doubled and dammit, her whole body tingled. Even as she cursed her reaction, she knew it would do no good. It had been this way since the first time she had seen him years ago, and no matter how many times she told herself he wasn’t the man for her, her body ignored her.
And for good reason. Evan was a man who turned heads—both men and women’s. Over six feet tall, most of it legs, all of it muscled and gorgeous. He possessed amazing gray blue eyes that crinkled around the corners when he smiled—which he did a lot. He had one of those classically beautiful faces, but the slightly crooked nose kept him from being too pretty.
He offered her his customary friendly smile that held no seduction, but that didn’t make him any less appealing. “How’s it going tonight, May?”
Inwardly, she berated herself for the way her heart tripped at the sound of his southern accent slipping over her name. She loved the way it rippled over the vowels, drawing them out. It always made her nipples tighten against her bra. She busied herself with straightening the menus, hoping he didn’t notice.
“Busy. Jason called in sick with the flu, so we’re short a person in the kitchen. Boss is in the back if you’re looking for him.” Please leave before I make a fool of myself.
He winked at her and her silly little heart skipped a beat. “You always know what a man needs.”
He brushed past her and the scent of bayberry and the Hawaiian night lingered in the air around her. She used all of her control to keep herself from turning around and watching his fine ass walk back to see Chris Dupree.
“That boy is nothing but trouble,” Cynthia said.
May glanced over at her best friend and the boss’ fiancé.
She sighed and busied herself rearranging the menus again. “I know. He’s a man-whore and way out of my league.”
“That isn’t what I meant. Yes, he is a man-whore, but I think he is very much in your league. What I meant was that Evan has too many problems to count.”
She eyed Cynthia, knowing that something had gone on a few months ago between Evan and her. Evan had been not too happy when his best friend, Chris, had returned from a wedding all excited about a southern bell he’d met. But somewhere along the way, Evan and Cynthia had come to an understanding.
“Everyone has problems, Cyn.”
Her friend shook her head. “No. I think these go beyond just normal problems.”
Interest sparked through May. “Really?”
Cynthia looked over at May. Her blue eyes widened. “Oh, no you don’t. You are not going to fix him.”
May let one eyebrow rise in question.
Cynthia held up her hands as if to ward May off. “I don’t know what the problems are. I just know that Evan had a horrible childhood.”
May shrugged. “I figured that.”
“Really? I thought he kept that hidden.”
“He never has anyone visit him. I’d think most people would take advantage of a free place to stay in Hawaii…especially at Evan’s house.”
She hadn’t seen the inside in person, but it had been featured in The Honolulu Advertiser. He’d taken a dilapidated, neglected house and turned it into a showplace. Even now it embarrassed her that she had driven by it a few times. But it was on her way home since they both lived in Hawaii Kai. So she drove ten minutes out of the way. It wasn’t like she had been stalking him…really.
“Not everyone has a family like yours.”
Cynthia’s sad tone pulled May out of her thoughts. She hated seeing her friend blue, especially since she was usually the happiest person May knew.
“What? Not everyone has a house full of males who can’t seem to pick up after themselves. Let’s not go into what my grandfather does every time I bring a female friend home.”
As May hoped, Cynthia’s face split into a smile. “I didn’t complain, did I?”
May sighed dramatically. “I still can’t believe he pinched your ass.”
Cynthia waved that away. “No problem, sistah.”
May laughed at Cynthia’s version of a Hawaiian accent. No matter how hard she tried, Cynthia would always sound like a southern belle.
“It’s hard for me to understand family dynamics because mine are so warped.”
Cynthia shook her head. “No, y’all are wonderful.”
“Remind me of that next time Danny decides to try to flirt with you.”
“I like coming to your house. If Chris were ever to dump me, I know I would at least have my choice of dates.” Cynthia sobered. “No, what I meant was that you know you have someone there backing you up…you never doubt that your family will be there for you.”
May smiled. “It’s hard to imagine not having them. We’ve always been close. Especially since my mother died.”
And even now, twelve years later, the pain of her mother’s sudden death at the hands of a drunk driver came rushing back. It had been so sudden, so overwhelming for a twelve-year-old. She pushed aside all those feelings, knowing that dwelling on them would not do her any good.
“Are you and the boss going out tonight?”
Cynthia shook her head. “No. I need to be at the bakery by four am.”
May shuddered. “There is no way I could do that. You have to be sadistic to choose to be a baker.”
“Since Chris has been complaining, I’m looking for some help. So if you know anyone, throw them my way.”
“The boss complained and you’re looking for help?”
Cynthia made a face. “That’s what I’m letting him think. Truthfully, Cynthia’s is getting too busy for me to handle. And I would like to expand, maybe start a delivery service for offices in the morning.”
“Oh, good idea.” She glanced at the clock. “It’s already ten o’clock. When are you getting out of here?”
“I thought soon, but now that Evan’s here, who knows.”
May glanced back at the hallway that led to Chris’s office. “You might want to interrupt them. He could be in there for an hour.”
Cynthia shook her head. “No. Evan hasn’t had much time with Chris, and I seriously think there is something going on with him.”
When Cynthia didn’t continue on, May decided not to pry. It wasn’t her business, even if she wanted Evan. May had hoped she might be able to move their friendship into something more romantic, but three years later, she was still firmly in Evan’s friend category. She knew his tastes, knew he was considered a Dom, but he toned it down when he was around her. Now show him a woman who weighed a hundred pounds and had fake boobs, Evan was all over that.
Again, she silently chastised herself and turned her attention to Cynthia who was studying her with a look of understanding.
“So have you decided on an Italian cream for your wedding cake or are you still trying to decide?”
Evan leaned back in his chair and studied Chris. There was a fine layer of tension in the way he held his shoulders. Evan knew something was wrong.
“What’s going on?”
“Nothing. A little busy in the kitchen with Jason out.”
“Yeah, May told me.”
“She read me the riot act about getting some more help. She wants to fire Jason. He’s skipped out several times. Simon also told me he’s been bothering May when I’m gone.”
Evan frowned. “She didn’t say anything to me.”
Chris cocked his head at the tone in Evan’s voice. “Why would she?”
Yes, why would she? He knew she had been backing away from him over the last few months. Their friendship now felt more like they were…acquaintances. Her smiles did not hold the same level of warmth and she rarely had time to chat. It seemed like every time he stopped to talk to her, there was an invisible barrier that hadn’t been there before.
Evan shook off his thoughts. “I asked her when I came in what was going on.”
Chris snorted. “She didn’t tell me, so I doubt she would’ve told you. Hell, I doubt she even told Cynthia.”
“She usually doesn’t have an issue, but apparently Jason was none too happy she turned him down. He’s been a little pushy in his pursuit. I don’t know exactly what went on, but Simon said he’s heard Jason has anger-management issues with women.”
Rage whipped through Evan, his blood heating. “What the hell are you running here, Chris? You allow your employees to be sexually harassed?”
Chris looked a little too serious for Evan’s liking as he studied him. He had a feeling Chris was trying not to laugh. “No. First, I can’t claim sexual harassment, not legally in the workplace, because she’s his superior.”
Evan opened his mouth to argue but Chris held up his hand. “I understand it’s harassment without the legal definition. I don’t condone it at Dupree’s. You know that.”
“But you allow this bastard to hit on her?”
There was another pause. “No. Simon just told me tonight. May, damn her, never told me anything. You know what she’s like.”
Evan settled back in his chair and frowned. “Just because she runs that family of hers doesn’t mean she can take care of herself.”
Chris laughed. “Tell you what, bruddah. You go tell her that. Make sure I’m around when you do. I don’t want to miss her ripping you a new asshole.”
Now that he knew what was going on with May, Evan decided to move away from the dangerous subject of the Hawaiian flower and to the real reason Chris was stressed.
He studied his friend for a moment then said, “Tell me what’s going on.”
With a sigh, Chris leaned back in his chair. “It’s Jocelyn. Mama is worried, and for some reason she expects me to fix my sister’s behavior.”
“Her behavior? She has never caused you one bit of worry.”
He released another long sigh. “When I was in Georgia I stopped in on her. She’s thin as a rail and jumpy. Now Mama said she gave up her job.”
That astonished Evan. “I thought she loved that job.”
“She did, but she just quit and the only explanation she will give Mama is that she was sick of it.”
“That’s not like Jocelyn.”
Chris nodded. “I know. I might have to go back to the mainland, but I am trying my best to handle it from here. Cynthia isn’t all that excited about leaving the bakery right now.”
“You haven’t told her what’s going on?”
Chris shook his head. “She would shut down in a heartbeat to go with me, but I don’t know if that is a good idea. Her business is so new…”
“Yeah, I can see that.”
“But, if I do go, could you keep an eye on Dupree’s?”
“No problem, bruddah. Although, I do believe Maylea thinks she can handle it herself.”
“True, and she can, but I’m worried about leaving with the situation with Jason. She isn’t being honest with me about it which worries me. I probably won’t be leaving anytime soon.”
Evan shrugged. “Either way.”
“So, what are you up to? It’s a Friday night and you’re hanging around Dupree’s?”
A feeling of uneasy embarrassment swept through Evan. “Not sure. Didn’t feel like going to Rough ’n Ready.”
Again, there was a beat of silence as his friend studied him. “You don’t feel like going to the club?”
Evan couldn’t really explain it. How could he when he couldn’t understand it himself. The BDSM club he had built with Micah was now the premier hot spot on the Islands for those who practiced the life. As the silent partner, he had taken pride in the way Micah had managed the club and the huge upsurge in members.
“Just don’t feel like it.”
“Do you need to see a doctor?”
The amusement in Chris’s voice irritated him. “What the hell is the problem? So I don’t feel like going.”
“How long has it been since you were there?”
“I was there last night, for your information.”
“You were there to play?”
The disbelief in his Chris’s voice was not lost on Evan. “What does it matter?”
“Ahhh, the first of the month, so you and Micah had your regular get-together over the books.” His quick smile irritated Evan. “That doesn’t count.”
With an aggravated grunt, Evan stood and started pacing. “I don’t know what to say. I just haven’t felt like going the last few weeks.”
“Really? I thought it was more like months.”
Evan stared unseeingly at the pictures Chris had up in his office and did not answer.
“It’s been since you joined Cynthia and me, isn’t it?”
“Having a ménage with you and Cynthia has nothing to do with not going to Rough ’n Ready.”
“What are you getting at, Chris?”
“From the time we met, you always had two sets of women in your world. There are the ones you look up to, women you think are too good for you. Then there are women… Well…Lee who used to work here. She’s the type of woman you think you deserve. Cynthia doesn’t fit into your idea of the kind of woman who would enjoy the lifestyle. You think that any good girl would never be interested in bondage and submission. You have a warped view of women.”
Evan spun around. “And just what do you expect with my mother and the way I was raised? Jesus, the fact I’m not a serial killer is surprising if you ask me.”
Sympathy stamped Chris’s features. “I know. I’m not blaming you. I just think you need to figure out what you want. Apparently it isn’t the normal sub you can pick up at Rough ’n Ready.”
Evan rolled his shoulders. “I’m fine. Just been working on that new resort, putting in a lot of hours.”
Chris wanted to say more. Evan could see it on his face. They’d been friends long enough to be able to read each other’s expressions. Evan thanked God for giving Chris some tact, and at least some mercy.
“I gotta get going. Cynthia had a long day and she has a four o’clock call in the morning.”
“You’re leaving May here by herself?”
Chris rose to his feet. “She has a whole staff here. I do it all the time.”
Evan frowned. “Maybe I’ll hang around and make sure she doesn’t have any problems.”
“Just don’t piss her off. She’ll come to me about it and bruddah, you’re my best friend, but I’m not protecting you from May.”
Evan sneered. “You’re afraid of a woman?”
“This just isn’t a woman. This is Maylea, head of the Aiona family. She can kick your ass with just a few sentences.” He opened the door and Evan followed him down the hall, the scents and sounds of Dupree’s now more prevalent.
“If people at Rough ’n Ready could see you now.” Evan snickered. “Done in by a woman.”
“Please. I have always had respect for strong women, starting with my mother.”
They stepped into the restaurant and Chris smiled. Evan followed his line of vision and saw Cynthia standing at the hostess stand talking to May. A sharp twist of envy clawed at Evan’s heart. He would never begrudge his best friend the happiness he’d found with his magnolia, but there were times like today when he would give just about anything to have a woman like her. Their new relationship had set off a wave of yearning that Evan was just not ready to deal with. He knew it was impossible, but it didn’t keep him from wanting it.
He shifted his attention to May, who was now talking to an older man. Dressed in a brand new tropical shirt along with the guidebook he carried, he screamed tourist. She pulled out two menus as she smiled at the man. She turned and said something over her shoulder. He couldn’t hear the words, but the sense of her voice, the soft lyrical incantation, was one he knew well. As he watched them walk to the table, he ground his teeth together as he watched the man—who was old enough to be her father—slip his gaze down her body. Dirty old bastard.
“Did you say something?” Chris asked.
Evan glanced at him and found his friend staring at him as if he’d lost his mind.
“No.” Evan inwardly winced at his curt tone, but he kept his features smooth.
Chris studied him for a second then said, “Hmm.”
Cynthia walked up to them. “You ready?”
“Sure, honey.” Evan smiled.
Chris shoved him aside and took Cynthia into his arms to give her a hard, smacking kiss. “Yeah, everything’s done. Evan’s going to play guard dog for me tonight.”
She glanced over at him, her blue gaze studying him. “On a Friday night?”
“Why does everyone keep bringing that up? So it’s Friday night.”
She laughed. “No problem. Just Evan Chambers is usually busy on Friday nights.”
He rolled his eyes. “It’s been a long week.”
Her eyes danced but she said nothing else.
“If you have any problems call my cell.” Chris said. “I doubt that jackass will show up tonight since he called in sick, but just in case.”
Evan nodded, but his attention was already back to May, who had the damned audacity to still be talking to the tourist. Just what the hell was she doing? She smiled at the man and laughed at something he said.
Evan whipped his head around to see one of the busboys staring at him with trepidation. The young man glanced down and it was then Evan realized he had fisted his hands. He forced himself to relax.
“No, nothing wrong.”
He decided he needed a drink and intercepted May on his way to the bar. “Don’t you think he is a little old for you?”
Her brow furrowed. “What?”
“Grandpa.” He motioned with his head over to the man she had just seated. “Don’t you think he is a little old for you?”
She laughed. “I was just doing my job.”
“Since when did Dupree’s double as a brothel?”
For a moment, a look of confusion moved over her face before embarrassment and then anger took over. Her Caribbean blue eyes sparked with fury. “What the hell are you talking about? I was talking to him, which is part of my job.”
The last was said as if she were talking to an idiot. Which, he wasn’t too sure he wasn’t.
“Is that the way you talked to Jason?”
The color that had flushed her face in anger now drained. “What?”
He regretted his comment immediately. “I’m sorry, but Simon had a talk with Chris.”
She stomped her foot. “Boss and I are going to have a discussion tomorrow. Why did he tell you and not talk to me about it?”
“He had other things on his mind…wanted to avoid talking about them. And I guess the better question is why you didn’t tell him about it?”
“As you said, he has had a lot on his mind. Lots of calls from the family, so I didn’t want to bother him. And to answer your rude question, no, I did not speak to Jason like that.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean anything by it.”
She nodded and turned to leave him, but he caught her hand. He felt the slight tremor in her fingers when he touched her.
“I told Chris I would stay tonight.”
She looked back over her shoulder at him. “Jason won’t give me any problems. He called in sick, so he will avoid the restaurant at least for tonight.”
“Doesn’t matter, I’m staying.”
She frowned. “Don’t you have something better to do?”
He didn’t know what to say to that. Because at the moment he couldn’t think of anywhere else he wanted to be. Her skin was soft beneath his fingers. He used every ounce of his control not to pull her hand to his mouth and taste her flesh. His entire body heated and his mind blanked for a second more before he gained his composure.
“I told Chris I’d babysit you, and I’ll do that until closing.”
With a huff, she pulled her fingers out of his hand and muttered, “Babysitting.”
He smiled as he headed to the bar and decided that at least he could do this one thing with a cool drink in his hand.
May sighed as she locked up the front of Dupree’s. She couldn’t believe how the time had gotten away from her. If her father hadn’t called to check on her she wouldn’t have realized that it was well past two in the morning.
As cool night air whipped through her hair, May started to regret telling Janice to take the deposit to the bank. It had been a good idea at the time, but May was having second thoughts. She wasn’t normally this late, but Chris had enough on his plate and the schedule for the next two weeks needed to be done. As she glanced around the deserted parking lot, she promised herself not to do this again. She knew she was pretty safe, but she couldn’t stop feeling as if someone was watching her.
Her beautiful little red convertible sat in a pool of light. She’d eaten yogurt for lunch for two months and had not allowed herself to buy any new shoes for longer to save up for the down payment. It had been worth it. She didn’t splurge often, so it had been a huge thing for her. It was a sign of all her hard work, of how far she had made it. She was no longer the little girl waiting tables, but Chris’s trusted manager. She had earned every penny to buy it and she was damned proud of it.
She rounded the hood of the car and gasped. Her heart was in her throat, her whole body freezing with fear. The door had been damaged, the mirror barely hanging on, and someone had taken a knife to the ruby red paint. Scratched into the paint, the word “bitch” was easy to see. She glanced around her, worried the person who’d done it was still there and still carrying the knife. May knew she had to get back into the restaurant and call the police.
She turned on her heel, her mind still whirling. Terror coursed through her blood and her heart galloped out of control. Visions of a knife-wielding maniac filled her head as she took a step and ran into a very hard male figure.