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West, Priscilla


Title: Ash

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"There is more than one way to be strong, Julia. You know one of them, I can teach you the other.­"Julia Sharp has always been a strong woman. Her strength is what helped her through the days when her fledgling company struggled through the grip of a global recession.­Since that time her business has grown tremendously, aided in part by the investment firm, Sandstone Ventures.­For once in her life, she feels like she has everything she could ever want, but fate has other plans for her.­In the span of one day, everything that Julia has worked for crumbles in front of her.­With no other options, she turns to the wealthy and enigmatic partner of Sandstone Ventures, Mark Stone, for help.­What Mark Stone asks of her will delve into her darkest fantasies and test the very limits of her strength.­Excerpt:­“No, but I have a plan. It’s going to take almost all thirty days, and it’s risky for me, but I think I might be able to find something you can use to file. However, I’m going to need your help and I’m going to need you to trust me.­”“I must trust you, I’m here aren’t I?­”“I mean you need to trust me with more than a passing glance. You need to trust me body and soul, to give your whole self to me and rely on me to do what’s right.­”“Here we go again with a lecture on what I need. Can you please stop being my life coach and just help me save my job?­” I’m shocked by this turn of events, and this talk about my body makes me edgy and wet all at the same time.­“I have a proposal for you. Are you ready to listen with an open mind, or should I wait a few more days while the clock ticks down on Lynx?­”His face is passive, calm, waiting. I consider throwing another casual snide comment at him, to drive a barb into him, to spur him to drop his cool exterior just for a second. I want see the real Mark again, the human one, the one that can feel pain. The Mark that had been in the office. The caged animal just underneath the surface that had grabbed my hips, bent me over and used me like an object. That Mark had been frightening, but even more terrifying is how much I want to see that part of him again.­Stop it. This isn’t just about me, or my company. Dad is counting on me. So is Janice. And the rest of my employees. Time is not on my side and tossing cruelty at Mark won’t bring me any closer to getting Lynx back. “I’m ready,­” I say with my head down like a school child in the principal’s office. How does he keep doing that to me?­“Here’s my proposal: I think I have a way to get you the proof you need to file a rejoinder. I can’t tell you what it is, or how I’m going to get it. But I’ll need your trust, your cooperation, and a source inside the magazine you can go to who won’t reveal you. You need to be very close to your former employees. I will give you my expertise, time, investment, and strategy to make this plan work. In short, I will give you your job back and the humility necessary to run it.­”“And what do you expect in return?­”“You will give me your body, your will, your trust and your obedience for the next thirty days. You will do what I say without question, and you will submit to my instructions, my desires and my discipline.­”

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