Sophie finally finds the courage to reenter the Atlanta BDSM scene after extricating herself from an abusive relationship. At a local munch, she meets Dave, a funny, laid-back erotic photographer. When she sees him again later at a dungeon, Sophie is surprised by her strong attraction, and nervous about starting a new relationship, but Dave eases her fears. They embark on a sexy, thrilling D/s relationship and Sophie finds healing and fulfillment in Dave's arms.
But Sophie is still haunted by nightmares of her past. On a dark night in the woods with Dave and his friend Ryan, frightening memories overtake her. She knows that in order to move on, she must uncover the tragedy that haunts her subconscious.
Sophie's quest for answers brings her face-to-face with her previous tormentor. She finds herself once more in the deep woods, not only fighting for answers...but also for her life.
Reader Advisory: Contains m/f/m menage scenes and brief but graphic violence.
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Ellora's Cave Publishing, Incorporated
November 13, 2009
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Excerpt from Deep in the Woods by Annabel Joseph
He placed a fingertip against her lips. "I'm not assuming anything. I am telling you that if I kiss you...if I touch you tonight the way I want to..."
The way he was staring at her made it impossible to concentrate on his words. Her eyes dropped to his lips, full and sensual. His bottom lip was perfection, something to lick and nibble. Before she could stop herself, she drew her tongue across her own lips. His hand cupped her chin and his gaze forced her to focus. "Listen to me. If I kiss you... Sophie..." He leaned forward and she parted her lips with a sigh.
The moment his lips touched hers, she felt relief. She felt a peace that had eluded her for months, perhaps years. He held her face in his hands as his mouth possessed hers. The kiss quickly intensified and his tongue pushed into her mouth. He moved closer. His hands grasped her shoulders, then ran down her arms to pull her against his chest. The entire time, his lips never left hers. He tasted her eagerly, and his kiss was demanding. She felt possessed, challenged. He could master her and she knew it. He was letting her know he could master her if that was her desire.
Oh god. One hand moved up her back to twist in her hair. He pulled hard, sending thrills of stinging pain down the back of her neck and around to her flushed face. She arched her spine and moaned against his lips. It was not in her nature to beg, although she wanted to at that moment. She wanted to plead for what she wished. She wanted to prostrate herself before him. She wanted to surrender to the intensity and fire of his touch. His touch, his touch...his fingertips were trailing back down her arms, then to the hem of her dress. She broke away and looked around. The light. Not in the light. She pushed at his hand and he stopped and pulled back.
"I...can't we...the light is so bright and...and your dog is staring at me. It's kind of freaking me out. Can't we...? I'm sorry..."
"Turn out the lights?"
She blushed, feeling like an idiot. "Can we please?"
"I would like to see you, Sophie. Your lovely body. Your beautiful eyes."
She bit her lip, hating this moment, hating everything about it. She could run. She could just run out the door and... No. She didn't want to run. But she couldn't show her body to him, not at this moment. Later. She would deal with it later. And if he rejected her when he saw the scars, at least then she would have had one night to be with him.
"Please, Dave. I'm just shy. It's been so long and..." She looked over at Cerby again, who was helping her case by gawking at them from a couple feet away. "Your dog is sweet but--"
"You're telling me you're embarrassed to get naked in front of my dog."
"Yes." Yes, and please believe me. Please just go along with this.
Dave sighed. "That's really the problem? It's not that you don't want to get intimate tonight? Because hey, we just met. I'm fine with waiting. Really, Sophie, I am."
Nooooo. "No, I want to. I'm just... I'm weird that way." I'm weird. I'm weird. Don't make me show you just how weird I am. "Maybe...maybe the first time would be better in the dark. So we can really feel each other. You know?"
He nodded, his fingers caressing her hip. "Depend on our other senses?"
"Well, you realize I'm a photographer, that I'm very visual. We can always shut Cerby out of the bedroom. In fact, it would probably be a good idea."
"I guess. I mean, we could. But something about me is that I really... I really like the dark. I really, really like darkness, especially when I'm feeling..."
"Scared?" he supplied when her voice got too tight to continue. "Are you feeling scared right now, Sophie?"
"Nervous," she whispered. "Because I really want to be with you."
He looked down at her trembling hands and then back at her face, and something in her expression must have caused him to relent.
"Okay. Only because the first time is always slightly scary. My bedroom is really dark with the lights off, you'll like it. We can get to know each other by touch alone."
* * * * *
Dave was fairly sure she wanted sex. He had scrutinized her, analyzed every signal. She was obviously aroused. Her cheeks were flushed and her body language was open and willing. He was ninety-nine percent sure she wanted sex.
And he was one hundred percent sure she wanted it in the dark.
Well, it would be a new and novel experience for him, sex in the dark. He liked girls under 500-watt photography lights. He liked to see everything, every mole, every muscle, every secret place. He liked to expose girls. He liked to make them see there was nothing they could hide.
But this one, she clearly needed to hide, at least for now. She would need to be introduced gradually to his particular brand of exposure. He would train her to it.
Now was not the time.
Her hand trembled as he led her into his bedroom and shut Cerberus out. He ignored the dog's indignant whine. Cerb was never allowed in when Dave was with girls, because he sometimes took umbrage when Dave played rough. His canine instincts, while finely honed, could not always differentiate between moans of pleasure and pain. The first time the dog had nipped at Dave to stop him from "hurting" his partner, Dave had understood and hadn't censured him. But for safety, he locked Cerb out now every time.
"There, no more staring dog," he said, turning to Sophie with a grin. She returned his smile and looked around his bedroom. It wasn't huge, but it didn't need to be. He let her see it in the light, gave her a moment to look around. He watched her take in the king-sized bed that took up the lion's share of the space. And yes, the photography lights rigged in the corner. Cerberus' dog bed, completely unused of course, took up another entire corner. A door on the right wall led to a bathroom. He went in to get some condoms, showing them to Sophie before he placed them on the bedside table.
"If we need them they'll be there. We can do as much or as little as you like. I mean that, no pressure. I actually didn't ask you here expecting you to fuck me."
She looked away and then back at him, blushing. "I didn't really come here to fuck you. But to be totally honest, there's nothing in the world I want more right now."
"To be totally honest, I hoped to God you would say those exact words."
She giggled. She was so sweet, so beautiful. He thought of the terrible things he'd learned about her last relationship, and wondered how anyone could harm someone like her. He took her in his arms, his hands sliding around her slender waist to rest at the small of her back. He kissed her, reveling in the soft, tentative way she gave herself to him. He drew away to take one last look at her eyes before he turned out the lights. He saw so many things there in that luminous violet gaze. A jumble of emotions--fear, excitement, lust, happiness, sadness. He traced his thumbs over her delicate eyelids before dropping a kiss on each soft surface. Her long black eyelashes fluttered. Beautiful lost princess. Snow White in the forest.
"Sophie, you can trust me. I promise you can."
"Okay." Her voice trembled a little.
He turned out the lights and they both stood still. Darkness. It was true and total darkness. There was no moon to cast even soft light, just black empty space. No, not empty. He could feel her there beside him like a magnet. Elemental pull. His hands went to her of their own accord, drawn to her soft skin, her womanly curves. His fingers traced over her shoulders to grope for a zipper at the back of her neck and she bowed her head toward him. He felt her forehead come to rest against his chest. In the black darkness all his other senses were heightened. He could smell her fresh, flowery scent and feel the lightest brush of soft hair against the side of his chin.
He drew the zipper down and opened his hands on the skin of her back. His fingers nudged the dress down and off. He could barely make out the outline of the black bra against her pale skin as his eyes adjusted to the darkness. He reached for the clasp and undid it. She didn't stop him, but he could feel she was tense. He stroked his fingers across her breasts, then cupped their weight. As the pads of his thumbs teased the taut peaks, he was finally rewarded with a shivery moan and the feel of her relaxing against him.
He skimmed her tights down over her hips, taking a moment to explore her curvy ass with his palms. No panties, just bare, smooth skin. It was impossible for him not to give her a couple tentative slaps. She gasped and pressed herself closer, reaching for him in the darkness. Her hands seemed at a loss for what to do, fluttering against him like lost birds. He took them hard and whispered, "Put them behind your back. Keep them there."
That seemed to settle her. She did as he asked and stood still, her breathing even and measured. He took a few more moments to explore her exquisite ass cheeks, landing a few more smacks. Then he resumed pushing her tights all the way down her legs, his fingers tracing down thighs, knees, calves, ankles. Going by feel in the dark only made him appreciate the exquisite sensations more. He breathed in the faint scent of her arousal. Without thought, he used his thumb to probe the folds of her mons, finding hot slickness. She gave a low moan as he slid the pad of his thumb against her clit and then pressed and teased the sensitive nub. She reached for his shoulders and made a small hip movement forward.
"Hands," he reminded her. Her hands left him and returned to the position he'd told her, but not before she sighed, "Oh, Dave..."
"Go get in bed." He turned her in the right direction, guiding her with firm hands on her shoulders, then set to tearing off his own clothes, letting them fall in a heap at his feet. He slid in beside her, finding her by touch and scent. He clasped her, aligning her body to his. He trapped her hands behind her and found her lips in the dark.
God, she tasted wonderful, sweet. The way she kissed drove him mad, alternately tentative and eager. His cock poked against the front of her and she arched her hips forward in response. Dave was bursting. He had to be inside her. He explored her full breasts and hard nipples, then stroked down her thighs and parted her again. She was so wet. She moaned almost inaudibly as his fingers smoothed across her slick center. He wished he could see her eyes.
"Do you like when I touch you, Sophie?"
She sighed in reply.
"Yes or no?" he prompted. "Answer me."
"Yes." The word came out as a gasp.