|Held in Dreams by Ava Burquette|
Elaine is an ordinary human with ordinary dreams, maybe a little too shy for her own good. At least that’s what she tells herself, until she is kidnapped off of a city bus by a strange and charismatic man named Ghalib who has come looking specifically for her. Ghalib definitely isn’t ordinary. He isn’t even human. He’s a Dream Architect, one of the beings who create dreams for humanity. His world is the realm of passion, imagination and nightmares, where humans may be kept as pets, or personal slaves. Ghalib is obsessed with Elaine, whose vivid, erotic dreams he finds irresistible. If Elaine is to contend with Ghalib on her own terms, she’ll have to do more than let go of her shy, inhibited waking manner. She will have to realize her own dreams. (F/M. F/F, M/M)
His eyes probed my face—serious again. I didn’t look away. I willed him to answer me. “If I hurt you, trust me when I tell you you’ll enjoy it,” he said in a low voice. I shivered with chill and thought of his conversation during sex with Alexis. If I whipped you, you would moan like a whore. I lowered my eyes and my hands trembled. This man was dangerous.
He reached across the table and lifted my chin. Heat flooded my cheeks. “Don’t look away, Elaine,” he commanded. “Hurting people is something I’m very good at. What you mean to ask me is if I intend to punish you. If you should take defiance to an unattractive extreme or if you go out of your way to displease me, as you did last night, you will be punished. It probably won’t be in any way that you imagine now, but I assure you that you won’t enjoy it.”
His fingertips traced my jaw line, sending shivers over me. I didn’t look down. I couldn’t look away. “Just as I can hurt you, just as I can strip you of everything and leave you to rot in my prison, I can also give you more than you would ever imagine. If I wish, I can make your very dreams come true.”
“All I want is my freedom,” I said. “I know you can give me that. Please, Ghalib, tell me you’re going to let me go.”
When I said the word ‘please’ fire flashed behind his eyes. His breath quickened. His fingers left my face. I felt a little more clear-headed. “Were you ever free?” he asked. “Maybe this is your freedom.”
“No,” I said. “I can’t leave if I want to. I can’t talk to my sister. Somebody is choosing my clothes. This isn’t freedom.”
He tented his fingers, like he was thinking. “In a sense, it’s no different from how you have been living. Not a narrow choice of evening dresses, but a narrow choice of business suits. Not restricted inside my home, but restricted by circumstances into a dismal little apartment. Once you are over the initial shock of being here, you may find these limited choices preferable to the ones you had to make before.”
“You’re holding me against my will.”
He drew his chair around the table, closer to me, and smiled a little. “I’m aware of that.”
“Please let me go.”
Again, he seemed to quicken at the word ‘please’. “I won’t,” he answered, his voice husky.