“This is who I am. This is what I want. Now I need a man dangerous enough to give it to me.”Graduate student Vivienne Charles is afraid of her own desires—ashamed to admit that she fantasizes about being taken by force, by a man who will claim her completely and without mercy. When the magnetic, mysterious Jonah Marks learns her secret, he makes an offer that stuns her: they will remain near-strangers to each other, and meet in secret so that he can fulfill her fantasy.Their arrangement is twisted. The sex is incredible. And—despite their attempts to stay apart—soon their emotions are bound together as tightly as the rope around Vivienne’s wrists. But the secrets in their pasts threaten to turn their affair even darker...Reader Advisory: Asking for It deals explicitly with fantasies of non-consensual sex. Readers sensitive to portrayals of non-consensual sex should be advised.
Three days later, just after sundown, I’m back in the same wine bar where Jonah and I first met for “negotiations.” I guess this is round two.
Tonight, however, the bar is less sultry, more rowdy. This is a home-game weekend, which means Longhorns football fans and UT alumni are already swarming into town. I didn’t put on anything special this time – I’m wearing the same fawn-colored cotton dress I put on this morning. Yet I feel overdressed anyway, because I’m surrounded by a sea of orange T-shirts and football jerseys. It’s like being trapped in a can of Fanta.
Somehow I know the moment Jonah walks in. I turn my head toward him even before he’s fully through the door. His shirt and jeans are black, his gaze sharp as he instantly focuses on me. He doesn’t smile as he comes closer, cutting through this raucous crowd like a knife.
“We can’t talk like this,” he says as he reaches me.
“Hello to you too.”
But Jonah’s right. Having an intimate conversation here is impossible. We’d have to shout to hear each other. Bad idea. “I think this place has a patio in back.”
It does. Of course, the patio is crowded too – but it’s not as awful, and at least here the talking and laughter around us isn’t deafening. I can even hear soft Spanish guitar music playing. The heat that lingers even after nightfall curls around me; my skin is already moist, and strands of hair that have escaped my ponytail stick to the nape of my neck.
Jonah reaches toward me, like he’s going to take me by the arm, but I don't let him lead me. It’s not like I don’t see where we’re headed – the one empty corner. Strings of multicolored lights overhead sway as the breeze as we walk there together, to a small dark passage near the back door that leads into the alley. When I stop, Jonah does too, still a few steps between us.
“Let me repeat my question,” he says. “What changed?”
“You took off without a word! That’s what changed. How is that not obvious?”
I can see the muscles tense in his shoulders, his jaw. He’s so built, so aggressively masculine, that I first think he’s barely holding himself back from biting my head off. Yet his voice is steady, not angry. “I wasn’t aware we had to check in with each other about our daily schedule.”
“I didn’t ask for hourly reports. You left for weeks, and you never even told me you were going anywhere.”
“The point was to remain strangers. Wasn’t it? To keep it … raw.”
Something about the way he says that – raw – makes my breath catch in my chest. As angry as I am with Jonah, I can’t forget the way his touch makes me feel.
I can’t stop wanting him.
Jonah must sense my weakness. A slow smile begins to dawn on his face. Almost a smirk. “You can have neat, tidy and safe. You can have tame. Or you can have what you really want. But you can’t have both, Vivienne. And I think we both know which one you’re going to choose.”
Lilah Pace is a pseudonym for a New York Times bestselling YA author. This is her first adult novel.
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