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The Delilah Complex

The Delilah Complex, January 2006
Butterfield Institute #2
by M.J. Rose

MIRA
Featuring: Dr. Morgan Snow; Noah Jordain
416 pages
ISBN: 0778322157
Paperback
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"Riveting, erotic and suspenseful novel."

Fresh Fiction Review

The Delilah Complex
M.J. Rose

Reviewed by Jory Reedy
Posted December 16, 2005

Romance Erotica Sensual | Romance Suspense

Imagine belonging to a secret club where your sexual fantasies become a reality. Well that's exactly what happens if you're a member of the Scarlet Society. Inside the walls of the club, sexually aggressive women satisfy their desires to rule and control submissive men in a safe environment. But how safe is it when men from the Society begin to disappear and ghastly photos of them are sent to a reporter? The way the men are positioned in the photos is not the only disturbing feature; it's the bright red number that appears on their feet.

Fear sends 12 very sexually adventurous women of the Society to Dr. Morgan Snow, one of New York's top sex therapists from the Butterfield Institute. What begins as grief counseling opens up many issues concerning the Scarlet Society. Is their secret on the verge of being discovered? And why are the men being targeted? Trust becomes an issue after Morgan answers a few questions from the recipient of the photos and her comments appear in the paper. It also brings the very sexy and handsome Detective Noah Jordain back into her life.

Morgan and Noah have a strong emotional attraction for each other and sparks begin to fly. But Morgan can't lose sight that whatever the women tell her while in session can never be revealed to Noah. At the same time, Noah feels she's too close to the situation and fears for her safety. Delving into the lives and practices of the Society leads Morgan to the possible culprit. Without breaking the confidences of the members, Morgan enlists Noah's help. But will he arrive in time?

THE DELILAH COMPLEX is the second book in Rose's Butterfield Institute series (following THE HALO EFFECT). It's a very riveting and erotic read that takes you beyond the boundaries of sexual fantasies. The story is an intriguing mystery with a perfect mix of love, compassion and, of course, great sex. The truth is unveiled when you least expect it. I anxiously await the next installment in this series -- THE VENUS FIX.

Learn more about The Delilah Complex

SUMMARY

As one of New York's top sex therapists, Dr. Morgan Snow sees everything from the abused to the depraved. The Butterfield Institute is the sanctuary where she tries to heal these battered souls.

The Scarlet Society is a secret club of twelve powerful and sexually adventurous women. But when a photograph of the body of one of the men they're recruited to dominate -- strapped to a gurney, the number 1 inked on the sole of his foot -- is sent to the New York Times, they are shocked and frightened. Unable to cope with the tragedy, the women turn to Dr. Morgan Snow. But what starts out as grief counseling quickly becomes a murder investigation, with any one of the twelve women a potential suspect.

The case leads Detective Noah Jordain -- a man with whom Morgan has shared a brief, intense connection -- to her office. He fears the number on the man's foot hints that the killings have just begun. With her hands tied by her professional duty, Morgan is dangerously close to the demons in her own mind -- and the flesh-and-blood killer.

Excerpt

Warm, engulfing, darkness surrounded him. Flesh moved over him. Naked legs held him, vise-like, rocking him, rocking him, lulling him back into haze. Shoulders, neck, torso, blocking all light. Hot breath on his neck. Soft hair in his face, soaking up his tears.

He was crying?

One wrenching and embarrassing sob escaped in answer.

No. Take me back to the threshold of coming.

Let me loose in you.

Please.

The pleasure was too much pain. He wasn't taking, he was being taken. Sensations were being suctioned out of him. No control over the pulsing now.

He didn't know what time it was or how long he had been sleeping. Or even if he still was sleeping. He only knew that he had never been used like this and never cried like this before. Never cried before at all. Now he was reduced to weeping because —

He didn't know.

Why was he crying?

He could taste someone else on his lips. Smell someone else in his nostrils. A sour smell. A sweat smell. Not sweet. Everything stunk of stale sex. He wanted more.

Please, come back.

Nothing for a few more minutes. Or another hour? Ribbons of sleep. Weaving in and out of unconsciousness. Fighting through the interwoven dream web. Or had he awoken at all?

Must be in bed. His bed? He didn't know. Focusing, he forced his fingers to feel for smooth sheets but only felt skin. His own. Moist and frigid. He tried to move his hands away from his chest, to his sides, but he couldn't.

What was happening?

Remember something, he told himself. Try to catch something from last night. No memory.

So he had to be sleeping. All he had to do was wake himself up. Open his eyes. From there he'd sit up, stretch, feel the damn sheets, put his feet down on the carpeted floor and get to a shower where he would wash away this fog.

But he couldn't be at home.

The body had not been his wife's.

Was it any lover he'd ever known?

He fought, ignoring the tears, to open his eyes. To push one more time through the last vestiges of the milky-blue fog. Part of his brain, the small section that was functional and was informing the emotion that led to the weeping, knew that something was desperately wrong. This was not just about fucking. Hot streams of tears were sliding down his cheeks and dripping off the sides of his face. His rib cage hurt from the crying.

He gulped air, hoping that would help clear his head, and became aware that the air was icy.

Weak, helpless, spent, he lay there.

Why was he crying?

Because…

Because…

The hands stroked his hair. Cupped his skull. He felt himself stiffen again. Tears and erections. What was wrong with him? Fingers played with his curls. Where each hair follicle met his scalp, his blood singed, sending shivers of pleasure down his neck, his spine, to his solar plexus.

Please. Take me back inside of you.

He moved to reach up and brush the wetness off his face, but his hand wouldn't lift. A metal bracelet, hard and icy, dug into the flesh of his wrist.

Silver cuffs flashed in the darkened room.

When had he been chained?

He tried to lift his head and shoulders and felt another pressure holding him in place. A band across his chest prevented him from rising. Falling back, his head hit the thin pillow. Not the overstuffed down pillows on his own bed, but a poor substitute that offered only a few inches of padding between his head and the inflexible cot.

Was this more of the dream? It didn't matter, as long as the fingers kept playing so exquisitely with his hair. He tried to move his legs so that he could thrust up, but the same pressure that radiated across his chest also held his ankles. The same sound of metal against metal rang in his ears.

On his back, naked, shivering, he gave up wanting to understand.

The fingers were torture now. The rhythm of the stroking was making him harder. He opened his mouth, wanting to lick the skin he could smell.

His tongue wouldn't move. He tried to speak but his mouth was filled with a dry thickness that absorbed the sound. How could his tongue be so swollen?

He worked at it for a few seconds, then tasted the cloth gag.

Suddenly the fingers stopped.

He saw a glimmer of silver. Bright in the room's darkness. Heard the murmur that razor-sharp metal makes as it cuts, exacting and fast.

The only thing he was capable of bringing forth from his body was more tears.

Weak. Like a woman, he cried.

Because he, Philip Maur, who was fearless, was scared. Scared to death.

The lights on the subway flickered off and then returned. In front of me someone gasped prematurely, as if expecting disaster.

"Boom! Boom! Boom!" A man shouted in the rear of the car.

We all turned but there was nothing to see. An irrational outburst from someone who had already disappeared into the crowd.

Since the terrorist attacks on the city in 2001, we looked out for the stranger among us who might spell danger. And since the killings I'd stumbled on to last summer, and the murderer who hid from me in plain sight, I no longer trusted my ability to identify a threat.

I used to suffer the hubris of thinking I could identify who was dangerous and who wasn't, blindly enjoying the fallacy that, as a trained psychotherapist, symptoms would present themselves to me as long as I remained aware. But now I know that's not true.

The genuine lunatic, the real psychotic, can fool me as well as you, so I have become ever more vigilant and ever less sure that I can protect those I love. Questions keep me awake at night: Will I be prepared when someone comes for me the next time? Or worse, if someone comes for my daughter, Dulcie?

Beside me, Dulcie sat oblivious to what I knew could catch us unawares. A pair of expensive headphones — a gift from her father — covered her ears, and her head bobbed to the soundtrack that was audible only to her. Silently, my lovely young daughter mouthed the lyrics to the score of "The Secret Garden," because in four months, on January 5, she would stand on a Broadway stage and take on the role of Mary Lennox in a new production of the classic. Every day now on our way to and from the rehearsal studio on Lafayette Street in lower Manhattan, she burned the nuances of the music into memory, working tirelessly on her part.

A thirteen-year-old girl should not have a job, not even if her talent has bloomed early and she has acting in her blood. But the price of stepping on my daughter's dream wasn't something I was willing to pay. And so, more intently than I surveyed the strangers on the train, more doggedly than I observed my patients, I watched my daughter. Carefully. Always monitoring. Maybe too closely sometimes. But if the anxiety or pressure of performing weighed on her too heavily, I wanted to be prepared to step in.

Since she had been chosen for the part back in June, Dulcie was thriving, doing better than she had at her private school where too many label-obsessed kids had goals no more complicated than getting the next Prada bag. The Bartlett School, even with its emphasis on the arts and its high number of scholarships, still had its share of kids with limitless gold credit cards and limos at the ready.

The train doors opened. A middle-aged businessman entered and sat in the seat on the other side of me, despite the empty seats across the aisle. I reached into my bag, pulled out a peppermint, unwrapped it and popped it in my mouth.

As I'm overly sensitive to smells, public places are sensory nightmares for me. I bit down. The intense flavor burned as the cool blue-green scent rose up and insulated me against any possible assault.

I felt his glance.

A dark-haired woman in narrow black slacks, a long-sleeved white shirt and a black leather blazer, sitting next to her lithe thirteen-year-old daughter, who was wearing jeans, a pink T-shirt, a jeans jacket and a wristful of purple and light green beads, listening to a CD, was not a threat.

When I turned a minute later and he looked at me, I didn't turn away. I don't do that.

No, that's not true. I look away from myself all too often, especially in the four months since my divorce. I ignore what is not in my life anymore and shy away from facing the one issue I spend my days helping other people deal with: sexuality. Dr. Morgan Snow, in denial. It isn't something I'm proud of. But it is how I cope.

Once more the lights went out and the train came to a dead stop. It didn't bother me, but I wasn't certain about Dulcie. I didn't have to search for my daughter's hand. I just reached out, instinctively knowing where it would be, even in the dark.

"You okay?" I asked her.

"Yeah. It's kind of creepy, though. How long do you think we're going to be stopped here?"

"Hopefully not long." I squeezed her hand.

She squeezed back and then pulled away to switch on her CD player again.

The lights flickered on but the train still didn't move. Down the aisle, a man in a ripped jacket streaked with grime turned and ogled my daughter's legs. Dulcie didn't notice him, but I did and stared him down.

Why was his jacket dirty? What had broken his spirit? What had cracked his self-esteem?

Occupational hazard #1: Reading the body language of strangers. Like judging a book by its cover, it is tempting to make a diagnosis based on insufficient information.

A woman with downcast eyes opposite us kept flexing her fingers in a habitual way that suggested she was slightly compulsive. About what? It would take hours on my couch to find out, but I could guess at the darkness that bound her mind like barbed wire.

The lights went off again, suddenly, and we returned to stuffy blackness.


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