Dare Darker - Pepper North Page 0,2

off, Mia groaned. She lifted a pillow and dropped it over her eyes in disgust. She was now on vacation and she couldn’t even sleep in. A ding rang out from her office in the quiet of the morning, reaching her ears even through the muffling pillow.

Confused by sleep and the early hour, she rolled out of bed and stumbled toward the sound. Blinking at the bright computer screen that had somehow turned on, Mia walked forward to see a message flashing on the screen from Rafael Montalvo. She clicked on it without a second thought.

There was only one question in the message: Do you want your fantasies to come true? A yes and no button followed. Nothing else.

Her finger crept forward to hesitate over the safe answer—no. She almost pressed it. In a burst of daring, Mia quickly tapped yes on the touch screen. A whisper of a sound behind her warned her something was off a fraction of a second before she felt the needle prick on the side of her neck. Struggling for only a few brief moments before her eyes rolled back in her head, Mia’s body began to crumple toward the carpet. She did not reach the floor.


His fingers gently caressed the side of her face. With no makeup and her face relaxed into the induced slumber, Mia was exquisite. “My sweet, I have waited for you to appear for years. It’s time for your training to begin.”

Sweeping her up in his arms, Rafael placed her on the blanket he had stretched over the couch in the adjacent room. As he carefully enveloped her in the soft fabric, he looked around the décor of the familiar apartment. Mia had stamped her own personality here. So very different from his beloved mother’s choices, Rafael knew that his parents would have loved Mia’s flair.

Rafael took time to power off her phone and disconnect her computer before tucking her slim planner into the back of his waistband. Once cradled back in his arms, Mia automatically nestled into the curve of his throat. The trip down the private elevator took moments. With his precious bundle tucked into the back seat of his car, Rafael eased from his parking spot. Merging into traffic, he began the relatively brief trip out of the city to his family home.

He monitored his passenger easily from the video app playing on the display screen on his dash. The medication guaranteed her sleep for the journey, but he needed to see her. Rafael had waited too long to find Mia.


Waking in the absolute darkness, Mia stiffened in place. She’d never liked the dark. Even when she had been a little girl, she had slept with a nightlight. The ribbing she had gotten in her college dorm had been endless, but it had been better than the dark.

To keep herself from freaking out, Mia tried using all her senses to figure out where she was. She knew this wasn’t home. She was lying on a cold concrete floor, not the soft carpet of her apartment. Unable to stop her movement, she shivered as the frigid temperature of the hard surface below her seeped into her bones. The oversized sleeveless nightshirt that she slept in did not ward off the cold.

Mia’s head swiveled as she looked in all directions. When she couldn’t distinguish anything, her hands began to twist nervously against her chest. I don’t like the dark. I don’t like the dark. I don’t like the dark, repeated in her brain.

As if answering her plea for light, a bright spotlight illuminated a mattress three feet away from her. Her eyes locked upon it, and the light flashed off, leaving her in darkness once again. With spots before her eyes, Mia pushed her hands against the concrete floor to sit up.

As if the lack of light had activated her other senses, Mia automatically inhaled. There was a faint whiff of that elusive cologne she had smelled at her doorway. Chasing the scent, she sniffed the shoulder of her nightshirt. Yes! It was there! She pulled the center of her shirt to her nose. The smell was strong. She had been pressed against whoever wore that scent.

Mind reeling, she jumped as the spotlight again flashed on to the bare mattress for a few scant seconds before extinguishing once again. A deep voice spoke behind her, “Go, my sweet.”

In a panic, she followed his directions and scrambled from her spot to the mattress. Her instincts processed the instruction before