My Control (Book 5) Inside Out
B & N: http://bit.ly/1Cw7Ncb
RELEASE DATE: November 18th
Being that person, that man, is how I define myself, how I allow the
rest of the world to define me as well. And now, with a terrible loss
shredding me inside out and someone trying to destroy my family to
punish me, control is more important than ever. It is everything. It is
what I need. It is all I need. Or maybe I just need...her.
Please choose ONLY one/post
EXCERPT #1 (I Belong to You)
Excerpt from I Belong to You (Inside Out #5) by Lisa Renee Jones. Copyright 2014
He pulls me forward and in a few steps we’re inside the elegant library, where walls of books are illuminated by droplights from a high ceiling. I turn to face him, not sure what to expect next with his changing moods.
He shuts the door, and before I can blink, he’s advanced on me and I’m against the wall. His hands are pressed to the wall above my head, but he doesn’t touch me. And I want him to. Too much. So damn much.
“Topic number one,” he says tightly. “You aren’t using your own security people. You’re my responsibility.”
My irritation is instant. “I am not your responsibility.”
“Don’t push me on this, Ms. Smith.”
“You know what? It is Ms. Smith to you. And don’t order me around like I’m your submissive. I didn’t sign your damn contract.”
“I think we’re both clear on that fact.”
“And you were right: We definitely need boundaries.”
“I won’t have my security process compromised by outsiders who aren’t fully accountable to me. You’re using my security team. Subject closed.”
“Spare me the dictator routine. I already told Jacob I’d use your people.”
“On the way over here.”
“Because you and my father would be like the Clash of the Titans. You and I clash enough on our own. We don’t need to add more to the mix.”
His eyes sharpen. “Is that what you call what we do?” he asks, his voice a rough, low tone that creates a tingling in my nipples. “Clashing?”
I swallow hard, trying to control the heaviness of my breathing that I fear he’s already noticed. “You have a better name for it?”
“Many words come to mind. Should I start listing them?”
“No,” I say, certain I won’t approve of his choices. He glances at my mouth, and I suddenly remember the spicy, delicious way he tastes. Instinctively, my hands flatten on the hard wall of his chest. “Don’t kiss me,” I warn. The heat darting up my arms tells me how bad an idea touching him was.
“But you want me to,” he says, his hands sliding to my wrists, and somehow he makes it darkly erotic. This isn’t one of our spontaneous moments that we dismiss the next day. This is different, uncharted territory.
He leans closer and I splay my fingers on his chest, applying pressure. “I said don’t.”
“Because you don’t want me to, or because you’re afraid of where it will lead?”
“Because I said it. That’s the only reason you need.”
“Yet you didn’t deny that you want me to.”
“Eve really wanted the apple, and look where it got her.”
“If anyone’s being tempted by a poison apple”—his head lowers, lips close to mine, breath warm and tempting on my cheek— “it’s me.”
My fingers flex against hard muscle. “Mark—”
“I think it’s because you’re afraid of where it might lead, of the power you think it might give me over you.”
I try to tug my wrists away but he holds me easily, a gleam in his eyes. “I never fell into bed with you,” I say. “I was captive to the emotions you were feeling, feeding off those. You don’t have the power over me.”
“No. You have the power. That’s what you don’t understand. You have the power—or I wouldn’t be lying in bed at night remembering how you taste.” He pauses for effect. “And I do remember how you taste. All of you. Every last inch. Your mouth. Your neck. Your nipples. Your—”
“Stop it,” I hiss, knowing exactly what he was going to say next. “I know what you’re trying to do.”
He inches backward, releasing my wrists, and taking the promise of a kiss with him, those gray eyes resting keenly on my face. “What am I trying to do?”
“This is a game. It’s manipulation.”
“I want to fuck you. Many times. Many ways. How is that manipulation?”
“One minute you want to fuck me. The next—”
“I always want to fuck you. I just want to do it my way. With your pleasure at my mercy. Your hands tied up. Your legs tied up. Your clit on my tongue.”
“Why? Am I making you wet?”
I glare, my only defense against an answer I’m not going to give him.
“I’ll find out myself,” he says, dragging my hemline upward before I know his intent.
I grab his hand and my skirt. “Don’t even think about it.”
“We’re both thinking about it.”
His cell phone rings and he stiffens, drawing a deep breath before his hands fall away from me…
I squeeze my eyes shut as Crystal’s voice stirs an odd sensation in my chest that somehow eases the ache in my gut. Desire rockets through me, and I tell myself it’s about fucking and control. I need it, and she’s my safe zone outside of the club.
“Are you okay?” she asks when I do not speak.
When our gazes meet the jolt is as unwelcome as it is intense. She feels it, too. I see it in the slight widening of her eyes, the way she curls her fingers into her palms on the counter across from me.
“You were furious with me a few minutes ago,” I say. “Why are you standing here now?”
“I’m not one-dimensional. I can be furious and worried at the same time.”
Unable to squash my intrigue over the unknowns of her past, I agree. “No, you aren’t one-dimensional. Nor are you simply a rich girl who wants to prove something to daddy.”
“Thank you.” She crinkles her brow. “I think.”
We fall into silence, a hum of electricity charging between us. “I still go back to you saying ‘The End’ to me a few minutes ago. You meant it this time, too. That doesn’t translate to you standing here.”
“Neither does much of what you do, where I’m concerned.”
“You’re absolutely right. It doesn’t. What does, though, is sticking to ‘The End.’ What doesn’t is how badly I want to drag you into another room and fuck you right now.”
She shakes her head. “It’s not me you want. It’s someone who’ll sign a contract and be your outlet and bridge to control. You left that bedroom thinking about the impossibility of a reason for Rebecca’s death, beyond your self-blame and guilt. You need that bridge.”
There is banked pain lacing her words, and a hint of the earlier anger I’d seen in her eyes. I could make those things go away by telling her what she’s said isn’t true. I could tell her she’s gotten under my skin. But I don’t even know who the man beneath the surface is right now. I’ve destroyed two women. Crystal doesn’t deserve to be number three.
“Is everything okay?” my father asks from the doorway, repeating Crystal’s earlier words.
“Yes,” I say, my gaze lingering on Crystal before I push off the counter, hands going to my hips. “We’re ready to talk to Mom about what’s been going on.”
“We are?” Crystal asks, sounding surprised. “Tonight?”
“We can’t risk her finding out from somewhere else,” I explain.
“She’d feel betrayed,” my father adds.
Crystal gives a choppy nod. “Yes. I can see that. But I am not looking forward to telling her.”
“None of us are,” my father says. “Right now, though, she wants us all to eat together. And since it’s the best chance we have of getting some food down her, I say we wait until after we’ve finished. I don’t want to jeopardize her appetite.”
“I’m all for getting food down her,” I say. “She’s skin and bones.”
“I’ve been force-feeding her what she does eat,” Crystal adds. “The nurse suggested some high-calorie protein shakes. I tried that, but she hates them.”
My father starts to turn, then pauses. “By the way, Crystal, Larry Prescot called me just before you got here. You won him over. Thanks for calming him down before he got to Dana.”
He disappears into the hallway and I grab Crystal’s arm. “How okay is Prescot?”
“How can you be sure?”
“I threw out my father’s name—something that I normally would never do.”
“I was on the phone with my father when the receptionist buzzed to tell me that Prescot had arrived for our meeting. My father overheard and insisted that I drop his name. I reminded him that I’m adamant about succeeding on my own merits. But I’m also not one to foolishly ignore resources when backed into a corner, and I was. Prescot was being a total jerk. I knew we were about to lose the business.”
“So you broke your rule.”
“I did. And it was an amazing turnaround. Prescot suddenly remembered the many ways people have tried to paint him as a monster in the media, and became sympathetic rather than judgmental. I called my father afterward, and it turns out that Prescot enjoys the benefits of his secretary beyond her exceptional organizational skills, and his wife of twenty years doesn’t know.”
“But your father does.”
“Yes. And now, so do we.”
My lips curve. “Sounds like I owe you and your father a thank-you.”
“All you’d get in return from my father is a demand that I quit my job. He hates me working for anyone but him, especially now with all this bad press.”
“Is he afraid it will overflow to him?”
“No. He’s afraid I’ll get hurt.”
Me too, I think. Me too. “And what did you tell him?”
“I told him I’m his daughter, not his possession. He doesn’t own me any more than you do, and neither of you gets to claim responsibility for my happiness. That’s all mine.”
As she leaves the room, I stare after her in silent agreement. I’m not responsible for her happiness. But I’m not going to be responsible for her misery, either.
Excerpt # 3
At nine o’clock, Jacob is at my door in a black suit and a trench coat. He announces, “It’s snowing like a forest fire outside.”
I arch a brow at the contradictory statement that somehow makes sense. Taking my Crombie from the entryway closet, I step into the hallway, letting the door slam shut as I start walking. Ready to get to the hospital and see my parents. Even more ready to take action than I was last night. I’m done with sitting back, waiting, wanting, burning to death from my own lack of control.
The elevator opens and Jacob and I step inside. “Anything I need to know about this morning, Bossman?” he asks, using the nickname the Allure staff back in San Francisco often call me.
“I want one of your men shadowing Crystal around the clock.”
“Suspicion or protection?”
“Protection. She’s too close to my family and business to assume she won’t become a target.”
“Today. And it’s not enough for you to just be on alert for Ava. Find her and whoever’s helping her, before she finds us.”
His jaw is set hard. “We’re working on it.”
My eyebrow goes up. “No denial that she’s working with someone? I thought you were programmed to repeat that police rubbish?”
“More like, told not to encourage you to rip anyone’s throat out in the name of vengeance.”
“But you’re telling me that you think there’s more to Ava’s disappearance? Despite that order from your boss?”
“Yes, I do. And they do.”
“About damn time you grew some balls.”
“I assure you, Mr. Compton, I have balls the size of Texas when I need them. I can also promise you that, despite downplaying it to you, Walker Security is working every angle that could represent danger to you or your family, or even your reputation. They aren’t ignoring any possibility where Ava is concerned, or taking anything for granted where safety is concerned. They’re damned good—which is why I joined them.”
The elevator doors ding open and we step out, then head toward the lobby doors. “Do you have any new information you should share?”
“Nothing on Ava, Ryan, or Ricco that helps us at all.”
“Would you tell me if you did?”
“Not if I could rip their throats out for you and call it justice, to spare you the aftermath.”
“I’m not sure what to make of that answer.”
His stoic expression doesn’t change. “I do that to people.”
Crystal’s eyes meet mine, and I know she’s seen what I feel. My ability to hide my emotions has gone to shit, along with my ability to deny they exist—at least where she’s concerned. I have that sense of connection with her. It’s a vulnerable moment, and I find myself fighting the rawness of the emotions it stirs. My cock thickens, the need for sex and release—my way of coping with what I don’t want to exist—hitting me hard and fast.
“We’re leaving at nine, instead of eight thirty,” I say, walking past her to the shower. After stripping down, I open the door to turn on the water and don’t wait for it to warm. Stepping forward, I let the cold water wash over me and turn my back to Crystal, pressing my hands on the wall.
Her voice whispers over my nerve endings and my body doesn’t seem to care how cold the water is. I want her. “Not now, Ms. Smith.” I grab her shampoo and soap my hair, the damn flowery scent surrounding me. I rinse it off but it’s too late; the scent is all over me. I wipe water from my face, smooth my hair back, and turn to the damn wall again, smelling roses and jasmine mixed together. Rebecca. Crystal. Confusion.
The door opens, telling me Crystal has ignored my dismissal, but what’s new? I cut her a hard look over my shoulder. “What part of ‘not now’ do you not understand?” I ask, my eyes traveling her naked body, her tight little pink nipples, and I growl low in my throat with the thickening of my cock, turning away to let my head fall forward.
“Oh dear God,” she gasps, “the water is freezing.” In a moment the cold becomes warm, like my blood.
“Go away, Ms.—”
“Crystal,” she corrects as she ducks under my arms to rest on the wall in front of me, her hands settling on my chest and turning my warm blood to hot.
Grinding my teeth, I compel myself not to touch her. “Damn it, woman. Don’t you get it? I fuck when I’m in a bad place. That’s what I do. I fuck, and I need to fuckyou right now.”
She wraps her arms around me, my erection pressing against her hip, and it’s torture, absolute torture, not to touch her. “Then fuck me,” she whispers.
“What part of ‘we don’t have a condom’ have you forgotten?”
“I’m on the pill.”
“And you didn’t tell me last night,” I say, part a demand for explanation and part accusation.
“You told me you always use condoms. I knew that made you safe for me, but I wasn’t sure you’d think it made me safe for you.”
“How many partners?”
She blinks. “Partners? Oh. Partners. One without a condom, and I lived with him for over a year. He was clean. I made sure of it, and just to be clear, I’d never go without a condom for a one-night stand. Or even several, like we were. But now you’re—”
“Moving in with you,” I say, wrapping my fingers around her neck, pulling her mouth a breath from mine. “That means you belong to me now.”
“No,” she says. “It means—”
My mouth slants over hers, cutting off her words, my tongue pressing past her lips, delving deeply, possessiveness rising in me so intense that it’s a living, breathing thing. I hate the man she lived with. I deepen the kiss, wild hunger rising inside me, driven by darkness and the self-blame that I’ve lived with for ten years. What am I doing with Crystal? What the fuck am I doing?
I turn her into a corner, my hands on her shoulders, and step back enough to loosen her grip around my waist. “You should get me the hell out of your life, before I destroy you like I did Rebecca. Tell me to leave.”
She laughs without humor. “Like you’d listen?”
“Damn it, tell me to leave, Crystal,” I demand.
“Your staying or leaving doesn’t impact the premise of your demand, which seems to be that I have no control over myself. That’s wrong. I decide who destroys me, not you, Mark Compton.”
“You think Rebecca didn’t say that?”
“Apparently being a Master has confused you, or made you a little too arrogant for your own good. I have a mind of my own.”
“That’s what she said.”
Her hands go to my arms. “And she left you, Mark. That’s not a woman who lost her backbone or her own mind. She wasn’t too weak to survive you and whatever you think you did to her.”
I tangle my fingers in her now damp hair. “You don’t know everything. You were right when you said I’m an asshole. I am.” I turn her to the wall and lean in close. “You want me to stay?”
“Are you sure?
“Yes. I want you to stay.”
“Then you need to know who and what I am. I’m going to spank you and it’s not going to be gentle. And in the future I will flog you, clamp you, and torment you in ways that you have never dreamed of. Still want me to stay?”
“Do you want me to stay?” I ask, rubbing her backside to get the blood flow where I want it.
“Yes. I do.”
I shut the door and then motion to the small, round conference table in the corner. “Let’s sit.” I’m irritated that I’m aware she’s wearing the same outfit she’d worn the first night I met her, several weeks ago.
She nods and moves with the same pace, the same confident steps, confirming that she is not my type. As she once said, we’re too alike, two bulls fighting for the same red flag. We come together at the edge of the seats, neither of us voluntarily claiming one first, standing toe to toe, our gazes locking.
A band seems to tug our bodies closer; I feel our shared connection in my chest and see it in the dilation of her soft blue eyes. The howl of memories is like a heavy wind that refuses to be ignored. I’d buried my pain over the news of a search for Rebecca’s body in Crystal’s body. I’d been weak, drunk, hurting. I’d tried to recover with a business-from-this-point-forward talk.
But when I’d walked Crystal, not Ms. Smith, to a private jet the next day, I’d needed to touch her, to taste her one last time—the “one last time” I’d never had with Rebecca. My weakened armor had dropped, and I’d pulled her to me and kissed the hell out of her.
And damn it to hell, I want to do that again.
But I won’t. Ms. Smith lifts her hand to touch me, the way I’ve often let her and no one else do, though I still don’t understand why. Then she seems to sense the change in me, pulling back before contact.
“How are you?” she asks.
The rasp in her voice edges down my nerve endings and evokes emotions that, on some level, I want to arouse in her, though all I should desire from any woman is passion and lust. Those needs are within the realms I have always controlled, so they are acceptable.
But I sense Ms. Smith wants more. And what I want from her is more—which infuriates me.
“How am I?” My words are as tight as my spine. “Ready to get back to normal. Sit.”
Her brow furrows in silence at the command, a prelude to the many battles I suspect are before us, but she claims her seat, as I do mine. Setting my briefcase on a chair, I pull out a document and set it in front of me, intentionally building her expectation as to what it might be.
And I think she knows that, since she refuses to look at it. I narrow my stare on hers, wondering if there’s more behind her iron will than growing up in a rich family with dominant men. And in doing so, I see the slightest hint of discomfort in the depths of her eyes, the weakness I’m looking for to push her well beyond her comfort zone.
“I have the answer to my first question,” I state. “Clearly, we still want to fuck.”
Her lips part in surprise, then a look of incredulity slides over her delicate features as a disgusted sound slips from her lips. “Funny. I thought your first question would be ‘How’s my mother?’ Or ‘How’s my father?’ Or ‘How is the staff, after they’ve taken a beating from the press and customers pounding them with questions?’ ”
“We’ve had that conversation three times in four days, including last night. I trust you. That’s the point.”
“No. The point seems to be us wanting to fuck again.”
My lips quirk at her bold statement. “I’ll take your lack of denial as confirmation you agree. And us wanting to fuck has everything to do with us working together on a day-to-day basis, Ms. Smith.”
“Crystal,” she amends. “You know ‘Ms. Smith’ bothers me, since long before we got naked together. Not even the staff calls me that.”
“Formality is how I manage and how I operate. It’s not a slap. It’s not a reflection on us getting naked together. I simply cannot maintain structure with the staff by treating you differently, nor would we be able to avoid questions.”
She inhales and lets it out. “Point taken, Mr. Compton.”
“Thank you, Ms. Smith.” I pause for effect. “My plan is to be by my mother’s side as much as possible, and leave you with your present duties if you’re agreeable. I’ll simply help you navigate the ship in the more treacherous waters.”
She nods. “I have a list of powerful clients and prospective clients who represent large dollar figures, and it’s taking time to earn the trust that you’d have in one phone call. So I need backup.”
“You have it.” I lean back and study her a moment. “You treat this company and my family as your own.”
“Is that a question?”
“No. I’m just trying to figure out why you’re doing it for us, since your own family owns one of the largest tech companies on the planet. That’s a lot to walk away from.”
“You did the same: Riptide is one of the largest auction houses in the world. And, like I told you, my father and brothers are very controlling, much like you. In fact, I’d say they are equally overbearing.”
I arch a brow, amused at her boldness.
“You think I’m overbearing.”
“You take pride in being overbearing.” I incline my head. “It works for me. But my mother wrote the book on overbearing—yet here you are.”
“It’s different. She isn’t them.”
“But I am?”
“You’re arrogant, intolerably bossy, often rude, and infuriating, but—you’re my boss, not my family. And I’ll point out that you chose to open your gallery across the country, despite being emotionally close to your parents.”
“Birds of a feather,” I say.
“But there’s more to your story.”
“There’s more to yours.”
I lean in closer, lowering my voice to a soft rasp. “I never take what isn’t given to me freely, Ms. Smith.”
She smiles. “Nor do I, Mr. Compton.”
The unexpected reply curls my lips. “You are nothing that I expect.”
“Because you never expect anyone to be like you. Two birds of a feather. Remember?”
“I’m fairly certain you won’t let me forget.” We’re close, a mere lean-in from a kiss, one I crave more each moment I’m with her.
I lean back before I forget my agenda. “Whatever the rest of your story is, when I look into your eyes I see honesty and sincerity, qualities I value more than ever. Qualities I owe you in return. That means giving you a clear understanding of who and what I am—because the past few weeks have not been an example of those things.”
Her gaze lowers and she says softly, “I know I’m a gateway to a place you’re using to cope with . . . things.” Then she looks at me. “Maybe I even am that place. You’ve just lost someone important to you. You fear losing your mother to cancer. So anything you feel with me is about them, not me. Sex is an escape for you.
“And it is for me, too. It’s how I’ve handled the emotion all of this creates in me. So I don’t need or want your guilt. We’re clear on everything.”
But we’re not; the muddied water we’re traveling is dangerous. Worse, she makes me want to believe we can continue. But she brings out a part of me I don’t want to exist; if I let it, I will deserve the guilt.
“If we’re clear up to this point,” I reply, sliding the contract across the table, “then you understand why it’s so important that we’re equally clear on what our relationship is or isn’t going forward.”
Her eyes hold mine and she swallows hard, before her gaze drops to the contract. She stares at the first line, “Master and Submissive Contract,” for two beats and then calmly hands it back to me. “I told you. I will never be your submissive.”
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About the Author:
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Lisa Renee Jones is the author of the highly acclaimed INSIDE OUT SERIES, and is now in development by Suzanne Todd (Alice in Wonderland) for cable TV. In addition, her Tall, Dark and Deadly series and The Secret Life of Amy Bensen series, both spent several months on a combination of the NY Times and USA Today lists.
Watch the video on casting for the INSIDE TV Show HERE
Since beginning her publishing career in 2007, Lisa has published more than 40 books translated around the world. Booklist says that Jones suspense truly sizzles with an energy similar to FBI tales with a paranormal twist by Julie Garwood or Suzanne Brockmann.
Prior to publishing, Lisa owned multi-state staffing agency that was recognized many times by The Austin Business Journal and also praised by Dallas Women Magazine. In 1998 LRJ was listed as the #7 growing women owned business in Entrepreneur Magazine.
Lisa loves to hear from her readers. You can reach her at on her website and she is active on twitter and facebook daily.
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