When Patricia’s unstoppable friend’s ogling of the gardener turns into a proposition, Patricia feels she must apologize. She’s also hoping it will provide a conversation starter. In the two weeks since she returned from medical school she has managed to come up with not one reason to talk to the gardener beyond asking him to unlock the gates so she can go to work. Instead of brushing off the incident, Ryan is furious. Being treated like meat is something he’s used to, but doesn’t appreciate. When she says she’ll do anything to make it up to him, he orders her to suck him. She obeys. Then she begs him to discipline her again. Behind the locked gates of the estate, everything would be heaven, but the gates must be unlocked and Ryan has a rival for Patricia’s affections. Marrying the rival means giving up Ryan and now that she’s found him, she doesn’t want to let him go.
Ryan cleaned and put away the tools, careful not to break them or break anything else with them. The desire to throw the shovel into the neat shelves of terra-cotta pots had nearly overwhelmed him when he came back. That little bitch propositioning him like a piece of meat. Like she was better than him because she was a doctor and he was just the caretaker. And the Princess standing at the door with that superior gleam in her almond-shaped eyes. She was even worse.
He’d dubbed her the Princess back in June when she’d rattled him out of bed to open the gate because she didn’t know how. No Sorry to get you up so early. No Good morning. Not even a Please open the gate for me. As he recalled, which he did with perfect clarity, she had said, “Gate won’t open. I’m late.” Like it was his fault the battery in her opener had died the same morning she couldn’t get her succulent ass out of bed on time.
The day he had tried to talk to her about the rose garden hadn’t been any better. In fact both conversations had consisted of crisp, cool orders from that sweet, lush mouth while she looked at him like she couldn’t wait to be far away. He couldn’t believe he’d spent most of last winter and early spring getting the grounds ready for her. Did she think he planted all those annuals every year for giggles? He’d even dragged the big pots out of the barn at the back of the estate and arranged them along the patio so she would have a nice view out the back of the house.
If this wasn’t the best job he’d ever hope to get, he’d quit. Get paid to live in the country on the grounds of a huge mansion, pretty much working when and how he pleased, making sure the place looked nice and didn’t fall down? Oh, hurt me more. Ryan frowned. It had been the perfect job until she showed up.
Actual owner or not, she got in his way. He hadn’t been able to stop thinking about her since she’d shown up in June. He longed to unpin that long blonde hair and teach her to beg. He couldn’t imagine anything better than heating up that blue blood to a nice simmer and letting her feel what it was like to be on the receiving end of the orders.
But it was worse than that. He clenched his fists, pressing his knuckles against the potting table until he lifted himself off his feet. If she had been the one to ask to study his anatomy, he would have agreed. He’d have lain down, rolled over, and begged if she’d asked. He’d sworn that he’d never submit to another woman, but the first time he’d looked into those brilliant, exotic eyes, he’d discovered his word wasn’t as good as he thought.
But she was so far above him on the oh-so-important social scale that she didn’t even see him as human. She was the Whitmer, the very top of the food chain, and he ranked down there with the kid in the drive-thru window at McDonald’s. Hired help.
For seven years he’d lived and worked here alone. He’d started to get his head together and pretend he counted for something. Then she came back. High and mighty and completely mouthwatering. Good thing she hadn’t been the one to proposition him today, or he’d have been on his knees with his face buried between her legs before she’d finished her question.
And he’d have had the rest of his life to hate himself.
“Excuse me? Ryan?”
Ryan spun around. She stood in the doorway, cool and confident as ever. She had on jeans. Nothing as mundane as Levi’s. He doubted anything as common as Levi’s had ever found their way into her closet. The denim curved around her hips and down her long, lean legs. Her periwinkle-blue short-sleeve top had a demure neckline that somehow accented her shapely bust. Not huge. He thought one breast would fit in his palm. Her nipples strained at the fabric. Maybe it was cold in the house. The shape of them pressing against her clothes made it that much easier to imagine the taste of them against his lips.
“May I call you Ryan?” she asked. Her voice sounded like spring rain, soft and sweet. He tried to remember that spring rain was cold, but he kept drinking it up anyway.
“Of course.” Princess, he added for his own benefit. It made him feel a little less pathetic—not enough, though. He should have said, No. Call me Master.
She stepped inside the potting shed, which, in keeping with the rest of the estate, was huge—the size of an expensive New York apartment—with rough, exposed beams and a post in the middle of the floor. He kept the tractor parked in here, and the snowplow blade for the truck leaned against the back wall.
The building seemed too small now that she was standing in it. She glanced around. He could tell by the way she licked her lips that she wasn’t checking up on him. She was standing in his space, and it made her uneasy. It might be her estate, but as long as he was caretaker, it was his potting shed. It wasn’t the victory he wanted, but he didn’t have much to work with here. The new shine to her lips made her look a little more human and a lot more desirable.
She glanced around the room again, clearing her throat daintily. “I wanted to apologize for my friend Rita. She acted inappropriately.”
“It’s nothing,” he said. I’m nothing, he reminded himself. He turned back to the potting table and reached for a seedling tray just to be doing something with his hands. The convenient height of the table also masked the bulging of his erection. He felt like a high school kid getting a boner at a bad time.
“But it is,” she insisted.
Her expensive shoes scraped the floor as she stepped forward. His skin pebbled as if she’d touched him instead of just moving closer. Her hands would be soft and cool against his skin. Her fingertips would tease across his back, down to his waistband, and then they would trail around his waist to the buttons of his jeans. He bit the inside of his cheek to stop his mind, since it had already gone too far.
“Rita is…” She paused with a slight sigh. “Aggressive, and she doesn’t think sometimes. I just wanted you to know that I didn’t approve.”
It must kill her to have to discuss something so crude with him. She was miserable over having to talk to him at all. He should be drawing this out to enjoy the sense of power, but he’d never enjoyed torture for no reason.
“I’m not going to file a sexual harassment suit, if that’s what you’re worried about,” he grumbled, studying the dirt on his hands and under his fingernails. He didn’t have time to fantasize about screwing the mistress of the estate. At least not until later, when he was home alone. When he could go over this whole conversation again and think about what he wished he could say and do. Especially what he wanted to do.
“No. You would be within your rights, but I don’t think you’d have a case.”
“Is that so, Princess?” Ryan clenched his teeth. He hadn’t meant to call her that out loud. He waited for a temper tantrum worthy of a princess. She could fire him. With one word from her, he’d lose his very plum job and his very nice caretaker’s cottage, because of one word from him.
“It is,” she said.
The woman had ice water in her veins. She needed to be brought down a couple of pegs. Ryan started filling the tray with soil to keep his hands busy before he did something unfortunate with them. Like grab her and teach her what sexual meant. But he never did anything the client didn’t ask for. He preferred to make them beg for it. He had to get off that track. It was a dangerous train of thought he couldn’t afford. He needed to think about the gardens. Did he have any seeds?
“Rita isn’t your employer. I am. Rather, the estate is. And besides, I’ve come to apologize, so I haven’t created a hostile work environment.”
“I see. So you’re just here to dodge a lawsuit.”
“No, I’m here because I am genuinely sorry for what happened today. You do very good work, and I would hate for you to be unhappy.”
Ryan slammed the bag of potting soil on the table. God, how he hated her. She’d never felt any kind of pain or want in her life. Up there in her mansion. Obscenely rich. Doctor. She needed some lessons in what life was really like. Life was pain and humiliation. Life was being so far down the food chain that rich bitches thought it was perfectly within their rights to treat you like a piece of steak. No, not even quality meat—cheap hamburger. And then offer some kind of sappy apology as if that made up for it.
“Ryan, if there is anything I can do to make it up to you, I’ll do it.”
Ryan turned around, grinning maliciously. She was still standing there, cool and crisp as a mint julep on a hot day. Well, that was about to change. “You shouldn’t say things like that unless you mean them.”
PATRICIA SHIVERED DESPITE herself. Her blood raced through her veins too fast to exchange oxygen, leaving her light-headed. The ache between her thighs had nothing to do with the wooziness, however. She owed that to Ryan’s anger. She’d come down here hoping to talk to him, possibly to invite him to lunch. Instead, he’d been angry, and that only stoked her desire. Which didn’t make any sense. What did she want him to do?
She licked her lips. “I mean it. Anything.”
“Really?” he asked. “Anything, Princess? And what if I told you to suck me?”
Patricia took a step forward to test her legs. She hadn’t lost control since her parents died when she was sixteen. She maintained a tight rein on her mind, her body, her image, everything. Until the moment she walked through the potting shed door. Her knees didn’t give, so she took the last step to stand in front of him. His dark, deep-set eyes bored into her. So far he hadn’t relented. He wasn’t claiming he’d been joking, and his breath was speeding into a pant.
“What do you want me to do?” she asked. Her voice sounded thin and helpless. Tell me! Force me to do it. Control me.
His lips quivered. “Suck me, Princess,” he hissed.
Lowering herself to her knees, Patricia felt almost in a dream state. The throbbing between her thighs became a carnivorous roar. She laid her hands on his hard legs.
The dirty denim scraped against her palms. Everything about him was hard. The muscles of his legs flexed as she slipped the button of his jeans free and tugged the zipper down. He wore utilitarian white briefs. Beneath them she could see the outline of his thick length. She pulled his jeans down over the tight muscles of his buttocks, allowing her hands to caress his soft skin. He groaned as his erection sprang free of the confining clothes. She wrapped her hands around him, amazed at the contrast of her pale fingers against his engorged shaft, so soft and so hard…
The setting for As You Wish may or may not have been originally based on this home. <walks away whistling>