Five years after being abused by her boyfriend, Sophia DiMarco has managed to put her life back together. She?s a dominatrix with her pick of willing submissives. For her, sex is about control, and she?s the one pulling the strings. Everything in her life is perfect until she meets Drew Snow, one of the country?s most popular TV chefs. Handsome and charming, Drew gets what he wants, and he wants Sophia.
The chemistry is undeniable, but Drew refuses to fall in line. He simply isn?t a submissive. Sophia tries to walk away, but Drew refuses to give up. Can he tear away the barriers to her heart and claim it for his own?
Need more Drew and Sophia (with a side serving of Christopher)? Check out Letting Go 2: Stepping Stones (Awakenings 5).
What do the critics say?
"In Hanging On, Michele Zurlo is masterful using BDSM as another character, the plot device by which she can have Sophia use it both for keeping her distance and yet lower her walls of isolation, but not let anyone know. The main characters, Sophia and Drew are fully realized...they both have virtues and flaws, which only help us to relate to them. Ms. Zurlo has crafted a tale, spiraling inward towards the inevitable dénouement, which captures your imagination and takes you along for the ride. This is a well crafted, well written book, highly recommended. Among the plethora of books available, Hanging On is a jewel, a treasure of a story describing a woman?s journey through hell and finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow." --Desmond, Happily Ever After Reviews.
"Hanging On is an incredible book. Sophia's character was extraordinarily well written, with a realistic and complex personality. Drew was also brilliantly written. Beyond the great depth of character, the two certainly ignite the sheets in the bedroom! The BDSM scenes are something to behold, exquisitely written with both drama and arousal in mind. Hanging On isn't a lighthearted book about sex and love, it's often dark and volatile, but it is definitely well worth the roller coaster ride of emotions it will inspire." --Silla at Just Erotic Romance Reviews
"Someone get me an ice pack! Hanging On by Michele Zurlo is just as hot as the first book in this series! Not only does this story take one of my favorite characters out of the first book, Sophia, it also gives her an uber sexy chef who doesn?t mind sharing! I about melted into my chair when I read the first scene between Sophia, Livia and Drew... I can?t thank Ms. Zurlo enough for creating such a wonderful character like Sophia. She gives Drew a wonderful chase and has you wondering at times who?s gonna tame who, but it?s well worth the read. So if you?re looking for a book with a ballsy woman who knows what she wants and a man who won?t take no for answer, this is the book for you!" -- Dakota, Dark Diva Reviews
Rounding the corner, she stopped in the doorway. Drew stood in front of the stove, wearing only his jeans, which he hadn’t bothered to button. The trail of blond hairs leading from his navel disappeared into his boxers. Her eyes fastened on the barrier, and she fought the urge to touch him there.
“I have to go to work,” he said as he lifted the pan to shake it the way practiced chefs do, with just a dish towel around the handle for protection. Sophia tried it once and ended up with a huge mess to clean and a mild burn on the heel of her hand. “Mysous-chef is getting a little too big for her britches. She wants to put my Hawaiian Chicken on the catering menu, and it’s not ready.” He set the towel on the counter and sipped at the mug of coffee he had poured. “Maybe I should let you put her in her place for me. It’ll save me a few dozen arguments.”
Sophia tore her eyes away from his pelvic area. He faced the stove, so his side was to her. Luckily, he hadn’t noticed the way she had been staring at him. His eyes were glued to whatever was in the pan.
“You don’t owe me an explanation.”
Now he looked at her. She avoided meeting his eyes. Propelling her feet forward, she slipped in on the other side of him to pour some coffee.
“Sophia…” His voice trailed off. “I’m making crepes.”
That wasn’t what he was going to say. She was glad he decided not to force the issue. “I don’t expect you to cook, either.”
His arms came down on either side of her, resting his hands on the counter to block her in. She felt his breath on her neck, but he didn’t touch her at all. “‘Thank you’ is the correct response. Maybe later you can move on to something like, ‘I’ve never had anything so heavenly in my mouth before,’ or ‘You’ve earned that five-star chef rating, Drew.’ You can even offer to cook breakfast next time.”
Sophia swallowed. He was right. Intimacy like this made her edgy. It wasn’t his fault, and she was behaving badly. “I just don’t want you to think I expect you to cook for me.” It was a poor apology, but Drew accepted it anyway.
“I’m perfectly aware that you only want me for my body.” He squeezed her ass in an exaggerated display of making a pass and turned back to the stove. “Go wait at the table like a good girl. Later, you can brag to all of your friends that the hottest chef on TV made breakfast for you.”
She laughed out loud at that. Many of her pitifully few friends had already reaped the fringe benefits of knowing Drew. Before she was seated, he plated the crepes, rummaging with uncanny accuracy through her cupboards for things like sugar and toothpicks.
He set the plate before her. Crepes weren’t in her vocabulary, so she didn’t know what to expect. They looked like thin pancakes wrapped around a fruit filling. The energy she expended the previous evening had been considerable, and she was famished. She dug in. They were heavenly, just as he predicted. Her plate was clear before he was half finished.
Drew stared at her dubiously. “I think I need to feed you when you’re less hungry. There’s no way you tasted anything.”
“It was good,” she assured him.
He let loose a long-suffering sigh. “Remind me not to let you write my reviews.”
She smiled, again. That was her first glimpse of his sense of humor. It had been far too long since one of her lovers made her laugh. Given the serious nature of her usual “relationship,” the lack of mirth wasn’t surprising.
“Mouthwatering,” she teased. “A sensual feast, perfect for the morning after.”
“It’s afternoon,” he pointed out between bites. “And if I didn’t have to go to work and murder Maya, then this would just be a refueling break. We’re not out of condoms yet.”
She waved away that concern, a smile never leaving her face. “That’s only cause for a run to the store.”
Drew watched intently. His mouth parted as his breathing sped up, and his pupils dilated. He was becoming aroused watching her outfit Livia.
“Go bend over the footboard,” Sophia said.
Livia complied immediately.
“I thought you were going to punish me,” Drew said, sounding both anxious and jealous. “I’m the one who broke the rules.”
Sophia smiled at him. This time he swallowed in fear. She indicated a chair nearby. It was straight-backed and much more uncomfortable than it looked. “Sit, Drew. You need to learn to behave.”
He narrowed his eyes but did as she instructed. Perhaps he thought he would get to watch two women having sex. Most men entertained that kind of fantasy.
Sophia left Livia alone, knowing the wait heightened the punishment/reward for her, and sauntered over to Drew. She straddled him, running her hands across his bare shoulders and down his arms.
She didn’t know where Livia found him, but Drew was either a man who worked out frequently or he had a job that required manual labor. This was not the physique of a man who sat around all day. Everything about him advertised a man of action—someone who was strong, decisive, determined, not the submissive she so badly wanted.
Logistics required she sit on his lap to do what she needed to do. A bulge strained against the denim of his jeans. Centering her pussy over it, she rested her weight on him. He groaned.
Grasping his wrists, she guided them behind the chair, and he didn’t resist. Her breasts grazed his chest, and she felt the sudden heat of him through thin cotton. He tensed, and she realized he felt the same jolt she felt at the contact. She used the distraction to secure the handcuffs.
The cold metal closed around his wrists, and his eyes widened in surprise. Her serene smile never wavered. She never made an effort to hide her toys. She dropped her voice so Livia couldn’t hear what she said. “Tell me what you want, Drew. Your wildest fantasies can come true.”
He chuckled, the sound rumbling from his chest through the peaks of her nipples. “You’re not the first woman to say that to me.”
Her answer might have been ill-advised, but he rattled her more than she cared to admit. “I’m the first woman who can really deliver.”
He went still, and Sophia prayed to whoever was listening that she hadn’t crossed a line. His blue eyes darkened with desire, and he leaned closer, trying to capture her lips in a kiss. She leaned away and put a finger to his lips. There would be no kissing, either, not with the way he made her feel, not with the things she wanted to do to him. A very large, selfish part of Sophia wanted Livia gone so she wouldn’t have to share.
That would be dangerous. This was the kind of man in which she could lose herself.
“None of that,” she chastised. “You don’t get to touch me without permission. You get no pleasure that I don’t approve. You may not come until I give you permission.”
Pushing herself away from him, she bent to secure his feet. He struggled against the bonds, but they were too strong. “Sophia,” he whispered.
Though he used the wrong title, the entreaty was a beginning. Ignoring him, she returned to Livia. When Sophia had dressed Livia, she ran her hands along the sultry blonde’s body, reminding herself where Livia liked to be touched and how. She wanted a beating, nothing severe, just enough to heat her skin.
Grabbing a bulb vibrator and a tube of lubricating gel, Sophia approached her waiting submissive. “Spread your cheeks.”
Without changing her bent position, Livia reached back with both hands and spread her ass wide. Sophia squirted gel onto the toy and some onto her fingers. Livia sighed and gasped as Sophia massaged the gel into her. She tensed when Sophia removed her fingers, knowing what was coming next. The bulb parted her, shoving hard and fast into her little puckered hole. A low moan escaped.
If they played again, Sophia would have Drew fuck her that way while she used a vibrator or clitoral stimulator from the front. She could hang Livia from hooks in the ceiling, and they could use her body as a plaything. Livia would love it.
But that was not in the plan tonight.
Sophia turned the dial to medium, sending vibrations through Livia’s body.
Livia was a good girl. She didn’t move her hands one bit, even though she knew what was coming next. She liked a light whipping, so Sophia gave it to her, paying special attention to her ass. Resting her forehead on the bed’s footboard, she moved in time to the rhythm of the lashes. Cries fell from her lips.
When she was a good shade of pink, Sophia stopped. The marks would fade in an hour or so, but until they did, she would be sensitive to the lightest of touches.
“Mistress, please.” Her whispered words caught in her throat. The straps and the lick of the whip had worked their magic. She was primed and ready to come.
With a light hand on her shoulder, Sophia guided Livia to Drew and arranged her on top of him, her back to his front. The chair might not be comfortable, but he provided the perfect cushioning. Sophia wanted to lie on him like that, to feel his chest against her back. “Lay your head on his shoulder, and let your legs fall to the outside of his.”
A tap on the quick-release freed Drew’s legs. “Spread your legs wider.”
Annoyance and frustration thinned his lips. He hesitated before complying, opening Livia even further. Sophia rewarded him with an absent caress on the cheek. He turned into her palm, seeking to kiss her there. She pulled away before he made contact and returned her attention to Livia.
“Touch yourself,” she commanded. “Outside only.”
Her fingers were red and stiff from the whip. Ever so slowly, she moved them across her body, caressing her tender flesh as she found her saturated folds. The bulb in her anus vibrated, and her fingers worked quickly. Sophia watched Livia’s face. She was in heaven. A pleased smile tugged at her mouth, which Drew saw.
Her eyes met his, and she realized her mistake. In avoiding looking at him, she thought he wasn’t looking at her. From the expression on his face, she wondered if his eyes had ever left her. Had he watched Livia being whipped, or Sophia whipping her?
Recovering quickly, she studied his face. The punishment had been effective. He hated being restrained, restricted from the action, and he didn’t bother to hide that emotion. Sophia thought he might pull at his handcuffs a little more, but he didn’t, opting instead to stare at her. He ensnared her with his eyes, and electricity jolted through her body. She recognized a hunger in him that echoed in her.
He wanted her.