The Velvet Caress – 1st Chapter Preview! ** Releasing Shortly ** #BDSM

Saturday SpankingsOkay, so this is a bit more than my usual eight sentences or so, but I thought it was a nice play to say that ‘The Velvet Caress’ is almost ready for release! It’s now with Chimera Books and as soon as I have a date, you’ll be the first to know. Hope you enjoy the preview 😉

The Velvet Caress

When one lie is shattered, another begins

My wife is on her deathbed and I’ve barely been married a day. The poison she took was meant for me. I should be the one lying in a hospital bed looking as though each moment might be my last. The guilt I feel is indescribable.

It’s a bit too late to realise I’m in love with Jennifer. I’ve screwed the poor girl over so many times she can barely stand to look at me. Every time I come near her she flinches, and I can hardly blame her. All I know is that I need to make this right. I owe her that much.

I used to be good at delivering the impossible, but this time, I’m not so sure. The odds are not stacked in my favour. Losing isn’t going to be an option, though. If I lose her, I lose everything…

Chapter One – Mark

The first drop of rain exploded like a bomb inside my head. In reality, it was just a tiny splash on the back of my neck, but I felt like I was in an ocean. Drowning somewhere dark and unfathomably deep, the water icy cold, and unforgiving. Although it was two o’clock in the afternoon, there was no light to be found. Everything was draped in miserable shades of black and grey. It matched my mood.

The black suit I wore afforded no protection to the wind as it ripped through my body, but I welcomed the discomfort. It might have been almost summer outside, but it felt like winter in my veins. Everything was filled with a nothingness that might never be a something again.

Several faces around me offered their condolences, but they might as well have been invisible, for my gaze passed straight through them. I was adrift in a sea of agony, and no one could reach me here, let alone rescue me from a hell that was all too real and right down here on earth. Its tendrils were long and deep, piercing my body in several places, wrapping themselves around all of my vital organs, and squeezing for all they were worth. Like I said, I welcomed the pain. I deserved all of this, and so much more. It would take several lifetimes to atone for all the wrongs I’d managed to commit, and I had no idea where to start.

As soon as the rain came down in earnest, black umbrellas sprouted up like weeds all around me, making my world even darker. A few friends tried to shield me from the fury of the heavens, but I wasn’t having any of it. The darkness was insidious and it felt like it was trying to consume me. Pushing past the mass of pitying faces that swarmed all around, I strode away brusquely, needing to escape. The air around me was suffocating, sucking the life out of me, and I didn’t want any witnesses to watch me when I fell.

There are so many ways to fall apart. There’s frustration, anger, fear, pain, and grief. I’d been through all those emotions and more. Now I was left with helplessness and utter despair. Oh, and a burning desire to eradicate Michael Redcliff from the face of the earth. Perhaps that’s why I hadn’t broken down, as much as I wanted to. There were still things that needed to be done.

I’d thought I was so strong, and for a time, perhaps even invincible. When things are going well, you can be king of your little universe, but you only ever really see the measure of a person when things are going to shit. That’s what separates the men from the boys: the ability to recover from any given situation. There are only so many things that you can bounce back from, though. When too many rungs of your ladder have been taken out from under you, falling seems inevitable, and I was looking down a long, black hole that had no end in sight.

‘You don’t have to do this you know.’ The smell of cigarette smoke announced Vincent’s presence before his voice had uttered a word. As his black-suited form came around the back of the church, he propped himself up on the wall with his left leg and took a long, slow drag.

‘Actually, I think I do,’ I said dully. Although I would dearly have loved to get straight back in my car, run home, and lock myself behind the comforting confines of four walls, that was not an option available to me.

‘Still afraid of what the press will write about you?’

Turning towards Vincent, I let my mouth compress into a hard line. Although he meant well, the man had definitely overstepped the line. ‘Believe it or not, I loved my wife, and the least I can do for her, Mr Maxwell, is be in that church for her today.’ The use of his surname would let the bastard know I was pissed, and he was bright enough to know when to back down.

‘Fuck. At the wedding I thought that you might be, but after a few glasses of wine I decided that after the stunt you pulled there was no way you could have fallen for her.’ Vincent looked thoughtful for a moment, and took another long drag on his cigarette.

‘You thought wrong.’

Blowing out a long line of thick white smoke, Vincent chewed his lip. ‘So what are you going to do now?’

‘Attend my wife’s funeral. After I’ve paid my respects, I might go over and kill her father with my bare hands, too.’ The look on my face was brutal.

‘You’ll be lucky. Word on the grapevine says he’s not coming.’ Taking another drag, Vincent then threw his cigarette down and trod it into the dirt.

‘What kind of father doesn’t attend his own daughter’s funeral?’

‘The kind you’re about to murder in cold blood.’

Vincent had a point. Still, Redcliff could only hide for so long. Eventually I’d uncover the little hole he’d stashed himself in and blow his brains to smithereens. Although I suspected it wouldn’t erase any of my guilt, or make me feel any better – it just might put a smile on my face.

‘Any pointers for making a goodbye speech to a wife you’ve known less than a week?’ I couldn’t help but wonder if I held the record for the world’s shortest marriage. This could not be happening to me.

‘Keep it short and sweet.’ Vincent offered me his pack of cigarettes in sympathy, but as always I refused with a quick shake of my head. They couldn’t ease the type of pain that I felt, so what was the point?

‘If I’m putting anything in my system right now, diamorphine would be nice. I really don’t think nicotine will cut it.’ I sighed.

‘You have a point, but alas I’m all out of hard core drugs.’ Vincent pulled the lining of both his trouser pockets out and looked forlorn.

I smiled wanly. ‘It’s probably for the best. It’s not going to look good if I’m high whilst reading her eulogy.

‘Good point. If it makes you feel any better though, I know a guy that can get you some good stuff. Just say the word.’

Shaking my head again, I took a deep breath and straightened my tie. ‘Whilst the offer is much appreciated Vincent, I have plans for this evening.’ My eyes darkened.

Vincent’s head swung around at the tone of my voice. Damn it. I should have been a little bit more careful. The man knew me too well.

‘Please tell me they are not what I think they are.’ He stared at me for a long moment and I could see the wheels turning in his head. Worry and concern were etched all over him, and I was about to get a big lecture if I wasn’t careful.

Running a hand through my hair, I pushed myself away from the wall and prepared to do battle with the church.

‘See you afterwards, Vince?’ It was a rhetorical question. He was my right hand man; he’d be there come hell or high water.

‘Jennifer’s death was not your fault,’ he called to my retreating back and I could hear the concern in his voice. ‘Don’t go heading back to the past, Mark. She’ll make a mess of you and the last time I had to scrape the pieces back together it wasn’t pretty.’

‘I’m a big boy now, Vince. I’ll be okay.’ That was a lie. I might never be okay again, but that was my problem.

‘Damn it, Mark. You can’t atone for this by suffering. It’s madness to even consider it in the emotional state you’re in.’

I didn’t look back, but I knew he spoke the truth. My suffering was not going to right any wrongs. It would not turn back time, and it certainly wouldn’t bring my wife back from the dead. There was only one thing it would achieve, and I had a feeling I would need that release after today. My sanity was on the line, so it had better.

‘Get your ass inside the church, Vincent. I can’t be late to my own wife’s funeral. I already look like the biggest jerk in the history of men, lets not add another misdemeanour to my tally.’ There was a lot of muttering behind me, but the sound of his footsteps behind me indicated that the matter was over for now.

The service went by in a blur. The priest’s voice was monotonous, but even if it hadn’t been, I couldn’t focus worth a damn. My parents sat beside me for moral support, shell-shocked for the most part, as the rest of the congregation tried to come to terms with the idea that my wife had been poisoned just a couple of days after our wedding. What they didn’t know was that the poison had been meant for me. I should be the one in the heavy oak coffin, covered in massive sprays of calla lilies and a blanket of ferns. I should be the one who was cold and lifeless, without a breath of air left in my body. If I had been, all this pain would have disappeared instantly.

‘You’ll get through this,’ my mother whispered, as she wiped away a flurry of tears with her handkerchief and patted my knee. I guess she was right. Wallowing in self-pity wasn’t really my style, and there were several issues I needed to take care of that would take my mind off things for now. First I needed to interrogate Marianna, and with any luck she might give me some clues as to Redcliff’s whereabouts. He wasn’t the only one on my shit list by a long shot, either. I wanted Katrina and Kyle at my complete and utter mercy, too. My thirst for revenge was going to take a large river of blood to slake it. So what if I ended up inside? What did I have to live for except so much money I could barely spend it in a lifetime? What joy did that hold for me now? Prime real estate, fast cars, women, parties, empty whispers and false platitudes, that was the extent of my life. I couldn’t live it any more. It meant nothing, and I wanted no part of it.

When it was my turn to approach the lectern and say a few words, I was not dry-eyed, though I’d managed to hold the tears at bay. My poor mother, on the other hand, was in fits of hysterics. She’d almost gotten over the fact that there was never going to be any grandchildren, and then there was a sudden, reasonable chance there might be (or so she thought), and now even that fragile hope had been dashed. She’d be inconsolable for weeks. After Jen’s death I was going to be inconsolable permanently.

Kids. Dammit. I’d never even considered children before, but then again I’d never been in love before, either. How did I get so close to having it all, before the rug was brutally yanked from beneath me? Perhaps it was God’s way of repaying me for all my sins over the years, and they were many and numerous. Was this just what I deserved?

The vicar stepped down from the pulpit as I approached, and I nodded at him, before turning slowly around to view all of my fellow mourners. Black. All I could see was black. It was a depressing colour. Opening my mouth to speak I felt my throat seize up with emotion. Taking a moment to clear it, I tried to think about what I was supposed to say. How could you sum up a person’s life that you knew so very little about? Even worse, the things I did know were mostly unrepeatable. The last thing I wanted to do in a church was lie, though. There’d been far too many lies as of late, and that was going to end. I’d stick to the truth as far as I was able.

‘Jennifer was an amazing woman.’ She was, how she managed to cope with everything I threw at her was beyond me. ‘Her fighting spirit and determination were probably two of the qualities I loved most about her.’ Especially when she was in handcuffs or strapped down to my bed. ‘You see, Jennifer was never a quitter. She took everything that life threw at her, and then came back for more.’ So why in hell’s name had she taken the poison meant for me? Had I been so awful I’d driven her to the point of madness? What made someone take their own life? What had gone through her mind just before she drank that glass of water? ‘There aren’t too many people prepared to stand up to me, so let me tell you she was braver than most.’ That garnered a few hiccups, coughs, and sobs. It was the truth, though. When I backed her into a corner, she always came out fighting with both guns blazing. ‘Up until I met Jennifer, I really hadn’t considered spending my life with anyone special, but once I’d met her, I’d quickly realised I couldn’t live without her.’ That was more down to her dad blackmailing me into marriage initially, but thick-headed oaf that I was, it took her death for me to realise that I was in love with her. It was a little ironic really. Now that I knew I loved her, I couldn’t have her. ‘So it is with complete and utter horror that I stand here today, feeling that not only has my life been ripped apart, but that somehow I’ve been left in permanent free fall.’ I didn’t mention that the sun no longer shone, the moon no longer rose, and I felt like a shell of man inside a body that no longer belonged to me. ‘I can’t figure out why someone would have wanted to poison my wife.’ Although I had more than a few pointers on why someone might want to poison me, and couldn’t wait to confront him on the matter. ‘Though most of you know the inquest is still in progress, I fully intend to prosecute whoever is responsible for her death to the very best of my ability.’ Actually, I preferred the thought of killing them, so we’d see how that one panned out. ‘I just don’t understand why anyone would want to do that to Jennifer.’ A few months ago, when she was still the rich, spoiled brat I’d met, I might have begged to differ, until I’d found out the act was all a charade for her father. ‘She was such a bright, intelligent young woman, and every moment I spent with her was precious. Had I know how short our time together was going to be, I’d have got down on my knees and begged God for a reprieve. Those two short, beautiful days will replay in my head over and over again. ‘Whilst she may be gone from this earth, she will live in my heart forever.’ All the women were sniffling into their hankies now, so I figured I’d done enough damage. Short and sweet, that’s what Vincent had said.

The question was: how did you wrap up an untimely death nicely? Was there a nice way to do such a thing? I wasn’t even sure I could say anything else without breaking down, and that wasn’t something I was prepared to do in front of all these people. It wasn’t even pride, just years of being trained to hold my head up high and keep a stiff upper lip. Perhaps that’s why I’ve ended up the way I am – utterly fucked up. Pausing for a moment, trying to gather the strength together to thank everyone for coming, a beam of light caught my eye and it made me blink. As my gaze turned towards the end of the church, near the entrance, I noticed that someone had cracked open the door a couple of inches, but then the light was extinguished. They’d probably realised they were late to the party and had decided to wait for the buffet and copious amounts of alcohol that would be coming their way soon. There had to be some incentive to come to a funeral, right? Okay, wind it up Matthews. Let’s get these poor folks out of here.

‘I’m sorry I don’t have anything more eloquent to say on the matter, but I still can’t believe she’s gone. I keep thinking that this is all going to be a horrible dream and that I’ll wake up in a moment. Thank you so much for coming everyone, and I hope…’

The heavy oak door opened once again, but this time it was flung open wide and the light almost blinded me. Everyone turned around to see who on earth would make such an entrance at a funeral, and there were more than a few gasps as the lone comer stepped into the light. Vincent was already on his feet, making a beeline towards me, his arm shooting out to restrain me, but it was too late. I was already running down the aisle as if I was an athlete competing in the one hundred-metre dash, and I had only goal in mind. The man in front of me had killed my wife, and I was going to tear him apart. I would rend each and every limb from his body, and to hell with whoever was watching. They’d better be prepared for a blood bath.

TheVelvetCaress

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