(Dante’s Purgatory, Book 3)
By Sayara St. Clair
Trixie Meier, a club submissive who’s tired of being pushed around, has decided she’d rather be on the other end of the whip. She’s set her sights on Xavier Adams—the most enigmatic and unapproachable man in the club. Xavier’s a regular Mr. Darcy. If Mr. Darcy was covered in tattoos, wore black leather, and was built like a Sherman tank.
Xavier has skeletons in his closet. He’s done bad, bad things. And though Trixie might be feisty and off-the-wall, she’s way too sweet for the likes of him. That’s what he tells himself just before he starts stalking her.
When Xavier finds out Trixie doesn’t want to submit to him, but wants to master him instead, he thinks it’s the most ridiculous thing he’s ever heard. Because a big, scary guy like him, submitting to that tiny, crazy-ass woman is just ludicrous. Right?
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“Conversing with Xavier Adams is as about as effective as talking to a brick wall. A sexy wall, that smells really good and makes you want to rub yourself up against in a completely inappropriate and pervy manner.
Not that there are many ways to rub yourself against a wall that aren’t inappropriate and pervy.”
“Trixie Meier is a kind, generous soul. She helps people, is a vegetarian because she can’t stand the thought of animals being hurt, and she hugs puppies in her spare time. She’s as sweet as they come—way too good for a guy like me.”
“I love rock climbing, skydiving and anything that gives me an adrenaline rush. Now I want to dominate Xavier. Wonder if I’m taking this “I love a challenge” attitude a little too far.”
“Trixie wants to dominate me?
She’s the craziest bloody woman on the face of this earth!”
Trixie let out an explosive breath, like a sigh being shot out of a canon. “Motherhumping shit-biscuits, you scared the crap out of me!” She clutched her chest and doubled over, feeling as though her heart was going to explode.
Then Xavier was right beside her, one big hand on her shoulder, the other rubbing her back, and he was saying, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you.”
They stayed that way for quite a while, with him rubbing her back in comforting circles and telling her that everything was okay in his deep, rumbly voice.
When her heart rate calmed and the adrenaline wore off a bit, though, Trixie started shivering again.
“Hey, you’re freezing.” Xavier stood and pulled her to her feet. He rubbed up and down her arms vigorously to generate heat, then wrapped his arms around her and hugged.
Trixie was still for a moment, just absorbing the feeling. Xavier was so ridiculously huge, she felt smaller than she ever had before. But instead of it being threatening, she felt safe in there, all wrapped up in him.
There was a question that needed to be asked, but not wanting to ruin the unexpected Xavier-hug moment, she burrowed her nose into his chest and breathed him in. He didn’t smell of cologne, just natural man scent that screamed big alpha male. And sex. It definitely screamed sex.
But while Trixie was contemplating generating more heat by rubbing up against his thick, hard…thigh, he disengaged.
Damn it all.
He bent down and pulled a stupendously large anorak from a duffel bag at their feet. Then he put her in it, dressing her as though she were a doll. And she didn’t give a shit because it was Xavier, and he was interacting. Plus, she wanted to know what he was going to do next. The whole situation was intriguing. Apart from the screaming bit at the beginning, because holy exploding inflatable butt plugs, that had been frightening to almost soil-your-pants proportions.
What he did next was turn on a camping lantern, and then he started building a fire where Trixie had built one the previous night.
He was deft at fire building, that was for sure, and Trixie realized just how attractive that trait was. Her inner cavegirl was obviously rising to the surface. Next, he’d be hunting and bringing her a dead animal to eat, and she’d be all, “Oooh, ah, you’re my hero.” Even though she didn’t eat meat. Perhaps he’d kill her a “tofudebeest,” like the one in her favorite Gary Larson comic.
She chuckled at the mental image of the three pissed-off lionesses when they realized they’d killed one of the Serengeti’s “obnoxious health antelopes.”
“What are you laughing about?” asked Xavier over his shoulder.
“Ah, just pondering a tofudebeest, actually,” she answered, getting ready to explain the concept.
“Oh my God, yeah, that one. You like his stuff?”
“I have a book of his comics that I used to read when I was a kid. Still do sometimes, when I need a laugh.”
“Me too,” he said, and started pulling food out of his duffel bag.
What the dickens was happening here? They were…bonding…over shared experiences? Humorous comic books, no less. Plus, Xavier was preparing food. And talking.
Speaking of talking—there was a matter of the question that needed asking.
“Xavier, what are you doing here?”
He stilled in the act of opening a can of baked beans. She watched his very broad back and waited for an answer.
“I’m making dinner.”
Trixie huffed. “Obviously. But why are you out here at this particular spot, at this particular time? Are you stalking me or something?”
Xavier got to his feet and slowly turned to face her. He fixed her with one of his stares. There was something going on behind those eyes, but it was nothing she could interpret. Because she didn’t speak Xavier stare.
“You shouldn’t be out here all alone.”
Trixie raised a brow. “I go camping all by myself quite often, thanks.”
Xavier didn’t respond.
“No, seriously. I do it all the time.” She stood up straighter in his anorak, which probably made her look like an upright infant wearing a one-person tent. “I like being alone out here. I don’t need anyone to come save me.”
“You were lying out in the open, in the dark, fast asleep and freezing.”
“That’s only because I felt as if someone,” she didn’t say the word, but the “you” was loud and clear, “was watching me. So I came outside to make sure they couldn’t take me by surprise in the tent.”
“And you fell asleep.”
“I didn’t mean to. I was tired, okay?” She was pretty embarrassed about that, and the pitch of her voice edged toward whiny-ness.
Xavier walked over and stopped right in front of her. As he studied her, she wondered why that light-blue gaze of his didn’t seem so icy all of a sudden?
“I know,” he said in a quiet voice. “Things have been a bit rough for you recently.” And then he palmed the side of her face and rubbed the calloused pad of his thumb along her cheek with gentle strokes, over and over.
Her insides did a few backflips, her nipples stood up and cheered, and she held her breath, waiting for the fireworks to start shooting out of her pants. Holy pyrotechnic punani protectors! He just had to rub her face a little, and she turned into a one-woman Fourth of July parade.
Trixie had no idea what the hell was going on. Color her confused.
Yup, if there was a confused crayon, you could color within her lines and call her done.
Something made a weird squealy noise over by the fire. “I forgot to poke the sausages,” said Xavier as he spun around and went back to his camp-dinner preparations.
He forgot to poke the sausages.
Trixie had obviously entered the twilight zone.
She went over and hunkered down next to him as he stabbed at the hissing meat cylinders. “I can’t eat any of those sausages, but thanks for bringing stuff. I can have the beans…oh, and the bread!” she said excitedly, spying a gorgeous-looking, floury loaf sitting there.
“You can have them. They’re soysages.”
Screw the twilight zone. This was an alternate universe! He’d stalked her and brought her soysages? It was an unusual combination, she had to admit. But Trixie liked unusual, so meh, whatevs.
“Did you hunt the tofudebeest yourself?”
“Maybe,” he answered, keeping his focus firmly on the foodstuffs.
“You’re my hero,” she announced as she gave a clap. Her inner cavegirl was silent, too busy picking out fur area rugs for the cave they were gonna be moving into together.
Trixie thought she saw the side of Xavier’s mouth curve ever so slightly, but it was more likely the flickering light of the fire playing on his face.
Then, just like a regular pair of domestic prehistoric partners, they finished preparing the dinner in silence, each mulling over their own thoughts.
Trixie had another burning question she wanted to ask, though. And knowing Xavier wouldn’t answer it directly if he could avoid doing so, she went about it all stealthy-like. As he handed her a plate piled with food, she accepted it with thanks, but followed up with, “I’m not really that hungry, you know.”
Sitting down beside her, he said, “You should be starving by now.”
“No, I’m quite full, actually.”
“How can you be?”
“I ate a lot today. Three squares.”
“No, you didn’t. You only ate a granola b—” He stopped himself, looking extremely annoyed at his slip-up.
Gotcha! Plus…holy crap! He was stalkier than she’d first imagined. “How long you been spying on me, Mr. Adams?”
He speared a soysage. Put it in his mouth. Chewed. Swallowed.
Trixie waited. She was used to waiting for Xavier to speak, but now—for a change—she was expecting him to eventually answer.
He was talking, but she shouldn’t be expecting miracles.
“Where exactly were you last night, Xavier?”
A hunk of bread, torn with his teeth. Chew, chew. Swallow. “Over there,” came the eventual answer, with a chin tip in the general direction.
Okaaaay. “And how’d you find me?”
“Your aunt Rozlyn.”
Trixie was going to ask more about that, but made the quick decision to quiz Aunt Roz when she saw her instead. Because in the forthcoming stakes, Aunt Roz would beat Xavier by a country mile.
She ate quietly for a while, letting Xavier recover from the last three questions. She felt that she should treat him carefully, like a wild animal she wanted to pet, but knew would get freaked out and run away with too much forced contact. She had more questions, though, for later. Many more. What in the devil’s digs is happening here, being the most pressing one.
Usually, Xavier’s aversion to chatting irritated the heck out of her. But at that particular moment, she didn’t mind the silence.
She, herself, was a total chatterbox. Aunt Roz could talk the hind legs, ears and tail off a donkey. The Doms at the club were constantly blabbing at her, “Do this, do that, and now the other thing.”
Her family talked. Every one of them. All the time. Mostly it was creative ways of tooting their own horns. Blah blah, I’m so damn impressive. All in code, of course, so as not to be blatantly obvious. But the message was always received loud and clear. She seemed to constantly be surrounded by people who kept missing good opportunities to shut the hell up.
But Xavier was a quiet and somehow soothing presence. It was actually nice.
After dinner was finished and everything had been washed in a bucket of water, dried and put away, Xavier produced a packet of marshmallows. He got a couple of long sticks, poked a marshmallow on the end of each and handed one to her.
She opened her mouth to say she’d toast it for him, not wanting any for herself because of the animal products they contained, when Xavier said, “They’re vegan ones; no gelatin.”
Trixie’s heart did a crazy little twirl.
Usually when it came to Xavier, it was Trixie’s loins and panties that were affected. This behavior, however, was hitting her somewhere else altogether.
A man could buy flowers and chocolates for any woman—every woman—but Xavier’s offerings of soysages and gelatin-free marshmallows showed specific thought for Trixie. Beneath Xavier’s tough, indifferent shell, there was quite a measure of caring and thoughtfulness hidden.
She wanted to delve into him and discover more, but the thought of her heart getting involved was a tad unnerving.
Her inner cavegirl, though? She gave no shits. That little ho just wanted to lift up her… Wait, what would a vegan cavegirl even be wearing? Not an animal skin. Maybe something with leaves. Whatever.
Anyway, Caveslut was falling onto her back and throwing her legs wide open.
Trixie watched Xavier out of the corner of her eye while she held her stick over the flames. He was staring at his marshmallow and…was there a slight curve to his lips? Must be the flickering light again, playing tricks on her. But when she turned to face him fully, it was definitely there. This guy who never smiled was getting amusement out of a heated marshmallow. Honestly, he was like the world’s biggest conundrum.
Which bizarrely made him even more attractive.
“How do you like yours?” asked Xavier.
“Your marshmallows—how do you like them?”
“Oh…a bit charred on the outside.”
He blew on his and then held it out for her to nibble off his stick. Trixie hid a grin of her own at the nibbling-off-his-stick thoughts. However, her humor evaporated as she watched him watching her, while she ate what she was fed.
In response to both his proximity and his interest, she was being all sexy—until a gob of melted stuff plopped onto her chin. She made a move to swipe it off with a finger, but Xavier grabbed her hand.
“No,” he said, his voice commanding, almost vehement.
He rose to his knees and leaned over her, bracing his hands on the ground to either side of her hips. And then he swiped his tongue ever so slowly up over her chin, licking the melted treat from her skin.
He stared at her, his irises like blue fire—an unearthly flame that she knew, without doubt, was going to burn her into freaking oblivion.
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What people are saying about the Dante’s Purgatory Series:
“St. Clair writes in a way that is deeply alluring and keeps her audience thoroughly engaged and anticipating what could come next. I highly recommend this story and author to not only readers of erotica but all lovers of drama, and impeccably written stories. This was an easy five stars. A brilliantly crafted story!” –Author Angel Strong
“While I imagine many will read the book for the sex scenes, it’s the emotional aspects that hook me (and the prose. Ms St. Clair knows how to write—and write well).” – Author Anna Belfrage
“It’s the kind of story-telling that marks a first-rate writer. I can say with absolute certainty that it made me a fan of Sayara St. Clair.” –Author Ken Stark
“A dazzling story of love and desire.” –Author David Lucero
“It’s breathtaking and heartbreaking. It’s all-consuming. It’s everything any one of us could ask for in a novel, and so much more.” —Bloggers From Down Under
If someone told a young Sayara St. Clair that one day she would be an erotic/paranormal-romance-writing Aussie expat living in Thailand, she would have snort laughed and yelled, “You. Be. Crazy!”
If someone told her the same thing now, she would not yell, only nod solemnly. Because that actually happened.
Sayara has a science degree, with majors in both microbiology and biochemistry. Working in the fields of serology and tissue banking, she got to do lots of cool and sometimes slightly weird stuff. She was employed as the manager/buyer for furniture retail stores, where she had a chance to unleash her inner interior decorator. (Interior design is one of her great passions.) And for a time, she taught English to students in Asia. (Hanging about in a roomful of extremely loud, pint-sized humans is not one of her great passions.) She has written: ads for TV, print and radio; real estate brochures; website copy; and a screenplay. Now she’s writing fiction and has discovered it’s her favorite thing to do. She’s also learned that writing sultry romances is so much more fun than writing dry old scientific journal articles. No one has sex in scientific journal articles. Not the ones she wrote anyway.
When not writing, she may be most commonly found in a horizontal position reading, in the kitchen baking, in the garden planting, or somewhere else singing at the top of her lungs. She loves music and is prone to spontaneous bouts of dancing.
With regards to vampires and chocolate: she bites one on a daily basis and has had a lifelong obsession with the other. And she’s not telling which one’s which.
Note from the author: I laughed like a loon while writing this book. I also cried. And fell a little in love with the characters. I really hope you enjoy reading Trixie and Xavier’s story.