Change (Finding Anna #5) by Sherri Hayes

Chapter 1


My heart was pounding in my chest as I raced around the house checking to see if everything was perfect. I needed to calm down.

It had been a little over a month since we’d moved from Minneapolis to our new home, and I was still getting used to the space. That wasn’t what had me frantically looking over every surface, checking to make sure I hadn’t missed anything, though.

The reason I was plumping pillows and straightening books was because Stephan was on his way home with Lily and Logan. It would be their first time at our new house since we got settled and I wanted it to be just right.

As the thought popped into my mind, I heard Stephan telling me to breathe. Even when he wasn’t here beside me, I could still feel him near.

I lifted my hand to cover the necklace I wore around my neck. My collar. With the tips of my fingers I traced the infinity symbol entwined with the heart. It was a symbol of our commitment to each other and our relationship. He was my Dom and I was his submissive.

The muscles in my shoulders began to relax a little and I took a deep, cleansing breath. Everything would be all right.

I placed the book I held in my hand back on the coffee table. Our new house was bigger than Stephan’s condo in Minneapolis. It had a huge kitchen, something Stephan had insisted on when we were looking for a new home. He claimed it was so I could spoil him with even more delicious meals.

My gaze turned to the kitchen. Every surface was clean, and everything was in its place. A salad and some cut up fruit I’d made to go with dinner were sitting on the large island that separated the kitchen from the dining room. Stephan had said to keep it simple, and it didn’t get much simpler than roast chicken with salad and fruit.

The sound of car doors slamming drew my attention and I rushed to the foyer to greet Stephan and our guests.

Anticipation curled in my belly as I waited the couple minutes it took for them to make their way inside. The door opened and I couldn’t help but smile as I saw Stephan cross the threshold. He closed the distance between us before Logan and Lily had made it through the door.

The moment he touched me, I melted into him. Warmth surged through me as he brushed his lips against mine and his fingers caressed my cheek. His scent surrounded me, instantly comforting me. “I missed you, sweetheart,” he whispered.

His eyes were full of love as he met my gaze. “I missed you, too, Sir.”

“Something smells good,” Logan said, breaking the spell between Stephan and me.

Over the last three years I’d gotten to know Logan. He didn’t frighten me like he once had. That didn’t mean I was completely comfortable with him, but it also meant I didn’t want to run and hide when he walked into the room either.

“I made roast chicken.”

Lily sighed. “I miss your cooking. It’s not the same without you two in the city.”

Stephan guided us into the dining room, keeping me at his side. “We’re only an hour away. It’s not as if we moved across the country.”

“Yes, but I can’t pop in whenever the mood strikes me anymore.”

Lily was pouting, which seemed to amuse Stephan. “Explain to me again how that’s a bad thing?”

Logan chuckled, while Lily’s mouth twisted. I knew she probably wanted to say something but was biting her tongue. It was the weekend, which meant she and Logan were playing. If she were disrespectful to another Dom, there would be consequences.

Instead of commenting, Lily took the seat Logan offered her.

“I’ll help you bring everything to the table,” Stephan said, placing a hand on my lower back.

Because I’d kept things simple, it didn’t take more than a few minutes to bring the food into the dining room. Stephan carved the chicken while I got everyone something to drink.

Stephan held my chair for me, and then skimmed his fingers along my neck, sending shivers down my spine before taking his own seat. He sent me a knowing grin as he reached for the salad bowl and began loading salad onto my plate. I lowered my head and felt heat creep into my cheeks.

“So, how did the board meeting go?” Logan asked as he piled chicken onto his plate.

“Good, I suppose. Donations are up, but so are costs.” Stephan let out a frustrated sigh. “I wish I could do more. I don’t like sitting on the sidelines.”

Guilt nudged at me. Stephan had to resign because he’d saved me. It wasn’t right. I wished there were something I could do to help but considering I still hadn’t completely convinced my childhood friend, Cal, I didn’t have much hope that I could persuade the general public.