We are closing in on my next release. I can’t wait for everyone to read Traci and Sean’s story in Psychology of Submission that comes out Thursday, June 4th. Even if you haven’t tried other Corbin’s Bend stories yet, this book would be an excellent introduction for you to the series.
I’m sharing a new scene today that I haven’t shared before. Traci, a psychologist, has to deliver the keynote speech at a professional conference in front of her peers and she is very afraid of being ridiculed for her topic. She has just met Sean and they are on their first date the night before her speech. Sean is trying to help her stay calm.
Sean took care of the check. They exited the restaurant and walked hand-in-hand back up the pier towards the large Ferris wheel. Sean stopped long enough to buy a bag of pink, fluffy cotton candy which they enjoyed as they awaited their turn for the ride.
Only once they were safely settled into their gondola and leaving the ground did Traci notice Sean hadn’t been exaggerating about his fear of heights. Sean got quiet as they stopped and started to take on new riders, moving higher and higher.
“Why didn’t you tell me you really didn’t want to come on this ride? I can tell you hate it.”
“I don’t hate it. I just hate the way it makes my stomach churn. I hope I’m not going to embarrass myself here.”
“That’s not possible. Anyway, we all have things we’re afraid of. Yours just happens to be heights.”
Sean turned in the seat, focusing his attention on Traci instead of the gorgeous skyline of the city below. “You seem fearless. What is Traci Jackson afraid of?”
Such a baring question. Maybe to the outside world she looked fearless, but inside, Traci felt anything but. Her vulnerability hung precariously in the air. She longed to confide in Sean. He was a good listener and they had clicked so well, yet she didn’t want to ruin their night by exposing things to a man she was never going to see again, let alone a man who could do nothing to fix her problems anyway.
“You know. The normal stuff,” Traci finally answered noncommittally.
“I’m afraid you’ll have to expound on that. I’ve lost all perspective of what normal is.” He smiled kindly, before continuing. “I don’t want to pry, Traci, but yesterday you sure seemed like something had you spooked. What’s happening with you that you don’t want to attend any of the conference dinners?”
His eyes bored into her, reminding her that she was the center of his attention right now. Despite how nervous that made her feel, it warmed her to know he saw her… really saw her. Her insecurity mingled with the cool evening air had brought a visible shiver.
“Hey, you’re getting chilled.” Sean moved to take off his jacket like a gentleman, but before he could get it off, Traci leaned forward, closing the distance between them. She fought back the tears threatening as she realized she was now less than twelve hours away from delivering her keynote speech tomorrow morning.
Sean caught her, pulled her into his arms, and wrapped his sports jacket around her to cocoon them together for warmth. It was his comforting “shhhh” that made her tears spill over and down her cheeks to drip onto his dress shirt. He smelled so good, and his muscular arms holding her felt like a slice of heaven. Alarm bells were going off, telling her she was crossing a line she shouldn’t.
It might be crazy, but she’d never felt safer than being held by Sean one-hundred feet off the ground. He stroked her back lightly and helped her take a few calming breaths. They cuddled silently for several minutes, each enjoying the quiet intimacy of their private embrace. Each unsure how to proceed.
Sean took the lead, pulling apart just enough to pin her with a look that held more questions than answers. He was as tempted as she was to throw caution to the wind. His fingers brushed her cheek gently and swiped at her tears, never taking his gaze from hers. Traci’s heart raced at the possibility of a kiss, but Sean maintained his gentleman status.
“I may be out of practice, Traci, but that didn’t feel like normal to me. Why don’t you tell me what’s really going on with the conference?” Traci tried to hide her disappointment that he wanted to continue to talk, especially about a topic she wanted to forget.
“There’s nothing you can do about it, Sean. It’s just something I need to work through on my own.”
“You’re used to working through issues on your own, aren’t you?”
Traci didn’t want to let his off-hand comment hurt her, but it did. She was used to working through issues on her own, not because she wanted to, but because it’s just the way it had to be. “I’ve had to get good at it, yes.”
Her voice had a sharp edge and she could see Sean noticed, but he didn’t back down. “In case you missed it, this time you don’t need to work through your problem alone.”
“You don’t know anything about it.”
“So fill me in.”
“Because I want to help.”
“Why?” Traci’s voice sounded accusatory.
“Why do I want to help you?”
“Yes. I mean you barely know me.”
Sean looked hurt. He moved his fingers from her cheek to her chin, holding her face as he leaned in so close she felt his minty breath. “I’ve spent the last several hours getting to know you. I feel very close to you right now. You are a good person, Traci, and I don’t know what it is, but I know there is something going on with you and those goons that were chasing after you in the hall yesterday. I’m worried about you.”
His eyes shone with a sincerity that took her breath away. Her protective wall was crumbling as he resumed his gentle stroking of her back. He waited so patiently for her that when she finally started talking, her fears came out in a panicked rush.
“I must have been crazy to agree to give the keynote speech tomorrow. When they asked me last year to present, I assumed it would be in a small breakout session with just a few other professionals there to debate the material. I never dreamed they would schedule me to speak in front of the entire assembly in tomorrow’s session. I should have backed out the second I found out, but now it’s too late for them to find anyone else so I’m going to have to go through with it.”
Her shivers were back and Sean scooped her back into his arms to hug her tightly. “Hey, everyone gets a bit nervous with public speaking. I’m sure you’ll do great.”
It would be so easy for her to let him think she just had a case of stage fright, but now that she had her guard down, the words spilled out. “I was on the debate team in high school. I’m not worried about speaking in front of a crowd.”
He pulled back to peer down into her eyes again. “So then what? Are you not prepared?”
“Are you afraid your topic is going to put them to sleep?”
Traci’s snorting laugh was unladylike and Sean chuckled. He was waiting for her answer.
“I think I can pretty much guarantee no one will fall asleep.” That had his interest piqued.
“I’ll bite. What is your area of expertise?”
“It’s a bit controversial. A few of my peers don’t agree with my findings. Others just aren’t mature enough to handle the debate the topic spurs.”
“You still haven’t told me… wait…” Sean’s eyes widened. “Are you a sex therapist?”
“Not exactly, but close. A lot of my research skirts sexual topics, yes.”
Sean whistled before breaking out into a wolfish grin. “Wow, how’s that for luck? The first woman I ask out on a date in eighteen years and she’s a sex therapist.” Traci slapped his chest harder than she’d meant to.
“I said not exactly. It’s a lot more complicated than that.” She was getting defensive. She was so tired of having to defend her field of expertise.
Sean got serious again quickly. “Listen, I was just kidding around. I think it’s great, Trace.”
She was completely caught off-guard by his familiar use of her nickname. She wasn’t sure what to say so Sean pressed her. “Are you good at your job, Traci?”
She took a deep breath before answering. “Yes. I’m a good therapist.”
“Somehow I already knew that. Next question. Did you work hard on your research and putting together your presentation?”
“Of course. I’ve worked my ass off.”
Sean grinned. “Would it be ungentlemanly of me to let you know that I’m pretty sure your ass is still part of your body? I should know. I’ve admired it several times tonight.” He slyly let his left hand slide down from her back and cupped her butt, squeezing gently in appreciation. Even in the dim lighting, Traci could see his grey eyes clouding with desire. Her own breathing was becoming short and she waited, hoping again for a kiss.
You’ll have to wait for the release on Thursday to catch the exciting end of the scene. Psychology of Submission comes out on Thursday, June 4th. While you’re waiting, you have enough time to read Life’s Unexpected Gifts, the story where we met Traci as Troy’s sister last season.
Traci Jackson has been a therapist in Corbin’s Bend for several years. She’s helped many residents navigate their own D/s and DD relationships, but she hasn’t found her own HoH. Through her patients, she’s been researching and writing about the dynamics of dominance and submission in relationships for years. She loves her field, but she hates attending professional conventions where she’s treated like her specialty isn’t valid.
Sean Campbell is juggling raising his teenage daughter alone in Chicago while running a large convention hotel. When the annual psychologist convention comes to town, he literally bumps into the most beautiful and intelligent woman he’s met in a long time. He gets the surprise of his life when he finds out her specialty is D/s with an emphasis on corporal punishment.
They may find sparks from the minute they meet, but Traci and Sean have more than just the long distance between Chicago and Corbin’s Bend separating them. Sean has never heard of domestic discipline before. Will Traci pack up and leave Corbin’s Bend to be with the man she’s falling in love with, even if he can never be her true HoH?