Ours to Love Page 0,1

the power she’s giving you, Javier. Feel her trust and get into your Dom space.”

Javier sucked in a sharp breath and squared his shoulders, his whole body taut and hyperfocused. Then he nodded. Xander frowned, watchful, as he leaned away to let his brother wield the flogger on Whitney’s ass. But Javier just stared sightlessly at the firm red globes of her flesh and swallowed. He swayed on his feet. His breathing turned choppier again.

Fuck. He felt his brother slipping through his fingers, little by little. Day by day. One step forward, three steps back. Xander cursed Francesca all over again. She’d taken the strong, commanding older brother he’d worshipped as a kid and turned him inside out with lies and guilt. The last year had eaten away his indomitable will, leaving behind an empty shell. Even from the grave, the beautiful, terrible bitch had her teeth in him.

“Javier!”

His brother’s blue eyes cut over to him, dilated, not quite focused. Damn it, he was shaking again. Xander bit back a frustrated scream.

“Focus. Either tell me her safe word or give me the flogger,” he growled.

“I-I . . .” Javier’s fingers curled into a fist, and he hung his head. “Fuck. I have to get out of here.”

“Get your shit together and tell me what’s going on,” he growled in low tones, hoping no one around them would hear.

Javier jerked his gaze back to Whitney’s ass. The pleasure Xander had given her during the warm-up had begun to dissipate. She tensed, coming back to her body, back to reality. Xander leaned around the spanking bench to peer into the sub’s pretty face. Her heavy green eyes surveyed the bits of the room she could see, her platinum hair moving as she now swung her head from side to side.

With a curse, he made his way over to her and laid a firm hand on her back. “Easy, Whitney.”

“Permission to speak, Sir?”

Well, hell. Xander didn’t want to hear it, but she’d earned it. “Yes, little sub.”

“Have I done something wrong?” She sounded anxious.

“It’s not you,” he assured quickly, petting her soft skin.

Xander hesitated. What else could he say? Certainly not that his workaholic brother’s wife had cheated on him with another man who’d murdered her, and a year later Javier was still guilt-ridden and broken. He continued to experience episodes of mental vacancy and uncontrollable rage. Sometimes—like now—he’d turn into a full-blown train wreck almost without warning.

“He’s had some difficulties lately.” Thank God no one in Dallas paid attention to the Who’s Who of Los Angeles’ wealthy unless they were movie stars. If they did, Whitney would know all about Javier’s fucking tragic crap. “He just needs some time to get himself back in the right frame of mind. I’ll keep you safe. Are you doing all right? Do you need water or anything?”

Sympathy crossed Whitney’s soft face. “I’m sorry to hear that. No, Sir. I’m fine. I’ll be patient if it pleases you both.”

Xander kissed the girl’s cheek. “Brave little sub. I’ll reward you later.”

That made her grin, and he let his lips curl up in a reassuring smile.

Until the flogger slammed into his chest. He caught it reflexively, then turned to see Javier storming toward the exit.

Shit! He couldn’t leave his brother to his own devices, not when he seemed to be in the middle of another meltdown. Twice in the last year, Xander had rushed him to the emergency room to have his stomach pumped before he died of alcohol poisoning. But Xander also couldn’t leave Whitney restrained without protection in the middle of a kink club on a