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Dreams of Glass.jpg

He chose me to submit.

My dream was to become a successful artist, but meeting Owen Lowell, the most mysterious billionaire in the city, wasn’t part of that plan. 


Owen has lucrative investments and connections everywhere. He even owns a secret BDSM club and is a benefactor of my dream school. On top of that, strangers keep warning me to stay away from him, warning me that he’s dangerous.


Our love is forbidden, but that doesn’t stop us. In secret, Owen teaches me about my submissive desires and inspires my art.


If anyone finds out about us, it will ruin my art career before it even begins. And I keep wondering if those warnings are true, if he’ll hurt me like he hurt the others… 


Can I stop myself from falling for Owen, or is it already too late?


Author’s Note: Dreams of Glass is a slow burn BDSM romance. For more information, please read the Author’s Note inside of the book. 

Content Warnings

Triggers & Content: other woman drama (no cheating, just jealousy), other man drama (sex with a secondary character on the page), parental death, clear consent, sadistic antihero, secret/accidental pregnancy, murder, stalking (by a secondary character)

Kinks: clear consent, impact play, toys, crawling, spanking


Chapter 1

The midnight snack rush was just passable enough for me to bear the hangover I was nursing. I know, I know. A hangover by midnight. I’m one classy lady. But let me explain: It started out as a half glass of free wine, a necessary staple at the gallery openings for Foundation For the Arts. The advanced photography teacher’s assistant somehow convinced me to drink two more. I felt like a real winner already (not!) and the night was still young.


I rang up a group of four customers, all of which wanted iced black coffee and barbecue flatbreads. Clay, my coworker, stretched out a long arm to pull the receipt and start their order. Bobby, the owner of No Doze Cafe, shuffled out, scanning the line that stretched to the door. The cafe was smack dab in the middle of the Broadway Strip in San Francisco, which meant our next-door neighbors were the Condor Club and Nookie Books, an adult bookstore rumored to have a glory hole in the restroom. It’s not the type of place I liked hanging around, but Bobby, the owner, promised decent tips, especially if I worked the cash register. 


I forced a smile as the next customer walked up. He handed me twenty dollars for a French press pot and winked as he told me to keep the change. In my head, I rolled my eyes, but it was better than the fifty-two cents the last group left us. After him, a few dancers from one of the clubs ordered a lavender latte with no foam, two iced coffees with espresso shots, and a blended mocha. As they pulled out their wallets and clutches, thick with ones, I stared at Lavender Latte’s false eyelashes. The glue had melted, leaving the last millimeter of black strands barely hanging on. Besides looking tired and overly done up, they were all pretty, with full red lips and a mix of hair colors. I noticed Clay staring at a woman with long black hair as he blended the mocha. 


I grabbed a twenty-five-pound bag of coffee beans from the back room, heaving it towards the front, when the door chimed. A man in a suit walked in. He checked his watch as he approached the counter. Clay was staring at the man. Clay sometimes did that, sized up certain customers he knew were bound to give me trouble, always being the protective cafe brother. But this was different; he was staring as if he couldn’t exactly place who he was. He didn’t even glance at the dancers as he handed them their drinks. And when they noticed his lack of attention, they turned and stared too. The short platinum blonde’s jaw dropped open.


“What can I get you?” I asked. Dark brown hair styled back, a dark freckle beneath his lip. The brilliant hue of his green eyes was piercing, like the sunset coming through the trees in a forest. He looked like he was five to ten years older than me, in his early or mid-thirties, and clearly had a well-established career to be wearing that kind of suit and watch. His suit was tight enough that you could tell he had broad, muscular shoulders and strong, thick legs. He was an attractive money man, there was no doubt about it, but everyone’s reactions seemed bigger than that. I wondered if I was missing something.


“What do you recommend?” he asked. His voice was smooth and deep, like molasses dripping down the side of a jar. His eyes stayed a second on the menu behind me, then locked onto mine. The corner of his mouth lifted into a half smile, as if to tell me he was amused that he had caught me staring. I quickly looked at the street side’s windowed wall and flushed.


“Iced coffee with the pesto flatbread,” I said. It was our most popular combination, but it was also what I got when I wanted my free meal. 


“Flavored syrup?” he asked. 


Pick something already, I thought. “No, sir.”


“No hazelnut?” he asked. Why had he assumed I’d like hazelnut? There was that smirk again. It was like he was playing a game at my expense, and I didn’t know what the rules were or how to win. My cheeks kept getting warmer and warmer, and I didn’t even want to know how red I was. “I know,” he said. He leaned on the counter with his palms, moving closer to me. “Dark cherry and a splash of half and half.” 


I did add dark cherry syrup sometimes, and I liked my half and half. It was eerie how close he was to my usual order. “That can be good,” I said steadily, careful not to give him the satisfaction of guessing correctly. “But I like my coffee black,” I lied.




“Black like my heart.”


The joke was meant to be slightly rude, to show where the boundaries began and ended, but also to flirt for a substantial tip. He laughed, and his smile’s warmth was disarming. The laugh lines around his eyes made him even more charming. It was a real laugh. 


“You go to Foundation For the Arts,” he said, standing up straight. “I’ve seen you at the openings.”


The Foundation For the Arts was a few miles away, and while business types made their way onto Broadway often, the artistic types rarely wandered down these roads. They probably couldn’t afford it. I was only here because I worked in the area. “I go to the openings,” I said. 


“You’re in the middle of applying, then?”


I crossed my arms over my chest, wishing I had a sweater to hide in. He was staring at me with such intensity; his eyes never left me when they should’ve been more interested in those glamorous women that were ogling him, whispering to each other, clearly planning their sneak attack. At least they were dressed up to the same extent as he was. I was in my black apron and cream-colored polo with coffee stains on my pants. It was flattering that he knew who I was, but it also embarrassed me, like he shouldn’t see me in both places, especially not this other side of me. No one had ever asked about my life outside of the cafe before, and no one at the Foundation knew about my job, except for the teacher’s assistant. 


“Do you know what you want?” I asked, wanting the conversation to end.


After a moment of silence, I inched my gaze up to him. His pink lips were plush, the bottom lip slightly plumper than the top; I wondered how it would feel to press our lips together. A gentle touch, the need to nibble on his perfect mouth. I made the mistake of looking up to his eyes, and they held mine for what felt like an eternity. Those emerald irises gleamed like he was hunting me, showing an act of dominance that he owned the ground we stood on and everything on it, including me. I had to fight myself to keep from looking away. I wanted him to know that I could stand my ground too.


And then he smiled. That’s when my face felt like it was on fire. I knew I was beet red. 


“I'm friends with the director. Professor Chang too.” He paused, gauging my reaction. I kept my expression blank, even though I knew my red cheeks betrayed me. I wanted the conversation to end so I could get back to work and pretend like he wasn’t a beautiful predator that had emerged from the depths of the woods. It would be easier to pretend like he was another stripper-loving-businessman while I was grinding coffee beans and not looking at him. “I could introduce you,” he said. Another dramatic pause lingered between us. The way he drawled those words, it was like he thought his offer was a golden ticket that I should be groveling for, grabbing it out of his hand. But more than anything, I hated when people tried to give me handouts, especially men. It pissed me off; it was as if they thought I was some impossibly small woman incapable of doing things on her own.


“Thanks, All-Mighty-One,” I said under my breath, but loudly enough so he could hear. 


“Excuse me?” he asked. 


My eyes narrowed, but I kept my forced smile. I even showed teeth. I must’ve looked like a primal animal glaring like that, baring my fangs. “Thanks, but it’s two a.m. in a twenty-four-hour cafe. It’s not the time or the place to talk about the arts. You should order your food.” 


“I disagree,” he said. “Why limit artistic discussion? Isn’t that against the arts? Its endless possibilities?”


I almost staggered in my tracks. He was right, but I wasn’t about to admit it. Just because he was beautiful, like a half-naked statue of a Greek God, didn’t mean I had to bow down before him.


“I’m not your average customer here,” he said. 


“No,” I smiled. “You’re special, just like everyone else.”


“I could make sure your work gets into the right hands,” he said.


I looked out the window, willing another group to walk in and interrupt the conversation. A man in a hoodie hustled past, his elbow hitting the door and rattling the windows. He disappeared beyond the cafe. Damn it, I thought, Come back! This man’s persistence, no matter how gorgeous he may have been, was rude. He couldn’t be bothered to listen to my words or read my body language. Maybe I should’ve said, Fuck off, buddy! Maybe that would’ve been loud and clear enough. But Bobby was hovering nearby, and I knew he was listening in. Everyone was. Everyone, including Bobby, thought this guy was special. But I could see through his bullshit.


“I don’t need your help,” I said coldly, “but thanks for the offer.”


Once he had ordered, Clay immediately started making his espresso drink, his blond curls whipping his cheeks as he spun around. The man walked over to Bobby and started talking, and I did my best to ignore it. Thankfully, the milk steamer screamed loud enough that I could block them out completely. But Bobby looked happy, and the man was smiling, so I relaxed, knowing my job wasn’t in jeopardy.


One of the dancers, a woman with zebra streaks and bronze skin, walked towards the two of them, her shoulders loose like a cat as she approached. Her pink lips puckered, and her eyes were narrow and close, focused on her prey. Two of the other women followed her slowly, their hands on their hips. They were like vultures narrowing in on him. The man addressed them with a polite smile on his face, but it was his handshake that showed he was dismissing them without a second thought. 


He continued talking to Bobby while sipping his drink. I tried not to look too shocked at the situation. What bothered me the most about the whole thing was that this wasn’t some drunken banter from an egotistical businessman. This was different. The man knew me somehow. Maybe he had even watched me. It made me wonder why he had noticed me at the galleries when, clearly, he was the type of man who could get any woman he wanted. There had to be a trap somewhere in this. 


I wiped down one of the few empty tables, working from front to back of the coffee shop, making sure not to face him. The door chimed and Clay called me to help with the cash register. As I was ringing the next customer up, I noticed I had left a dirty rag on one of the tables. I rushed around to grab it and ran straight into one of the dancers, spilling her iced coffee everywhere. Fate was smiling down on her; it hadn’t gotten on the dancer, only all over my shirt, the floor, and the table I had cleaned. 


“I am so sorry,” I said. “I can’t—”


“Ugh, rude,” the dancer said. She scowled at me. “What about my coffee?”


“Here’s another one, ma’am,” Clay said, his gangly arm reaching across the counter. “We apologize for that.”


I kneeled and started mopping up the splatters. I felt my cheeks heating again out of embarrassment and frustration. A soapy mop appeared in the corner of my eye.


“Thanks,” I said, not looking up, assuming it was Bobby. A hand reached down to help me up, and I saw suit cuffs, an expensive-looking watch, and the fair skin that didn’t belong to the owner. It was the dark-haired man. I could smell the barest hint of cedar and smoke coming off of his skin, bringing me back to that forest again. I looked into his eyes, wanting to lose myself in them, and getting pissed that I would even think of that. Still, warmth crawled through my body as I took his hand.


“Thanks,” I murmured. I tried taking the mop, but his grip was firm around the handle. “I’m sure you’ve got better things to do.”


He smiled this time, not a smirk like before, but a real smile. He nodded at the splashes on the coffee table. 


“Take care of that,” he said.


I nodded and found a fresh rag in the back room, and came back with an all-purpose spray and a Caution: Slippery When Wet sign. The man had finished cleaning the floor and was handing the used rag to Clay. I shook my head. Even after all of this mess, I had still forgotten the dirty rag.


“I’m Owen,” the man said, holding out his hand. “Owen Lowell.”


I hesitated for a moment, looking at his hand, then took it. “Riley Glass,” I said. His hand was warm and big, as if it could swallow my cold fingers. I felt sheepish as his grip showed how strong he was; I could feel the muscle in his thick fingers. It made him seem even stronger than before. He was tall, and strong with meat on his bones, like a thick tree trunk. He eased his grasp, but held me there, looking into my eyes. Reading me.


“I’ll see you soon, Miss Glass,” he said. As his hand left mine, I resisted the urge to shiver. But I couldn’t resist watching him walk out, disappearing where the windowed wall ended. It was then that I noticed how quiet it was in the café, like he had taken the storm with him.


Clay whistled. “Owen Lowell on Broadway,” he said. “That’s different.”


“You know him?” I asked, moving the mop to the back room.


“I didn’t want to scare you, but he’s one of the most influential men in San Francisco,” Bobby paused, his finger resting on his chin. “Maybe even the nation.”


“You don’t get his type in these parts,” Clay said.


“Strip clubs get a lot of businessmen. They come here all the time,” I said.


“Not Lowell’s type. He could afford high-end escorts to entertain business partners in the Financial District,” Clay said. “Why bother coming here?”


“And he liked you,” Bobby said. He put his hand on my shoulder as if to lean on me, even though we were the same height. He stared out the window. “He was definitely hitting on you.”


“Shut up,” I said, shaking my shoulder out of the owner’s grip. “He felt pity for me for being a clumsy barista.”


“And he even helped you clean up, which some might consider being excessively nice,” Clay said. He laughed. “Also known as flirting.” 


I rolled my eyes. “It’s not like he asked for my number,” I said. “It’s because I’m a woman and we’re next to a strip club.”


“Shut up, Riley. You know you’re pretty,” Clay said. I knew I wasn’t ugly, but I also knew I was the Plain Jane type; brown wavy hair, matching brown eyes, average height and the usual soft curves. The only difference between me and the next brunette was a mole on my left cheek that strangers liked to make comments about, as if I were the next Marilyn Monroe. If I wore makeup, I was tipped more, because otherwise, I was easy to overlook.


Bobby shrugged. “I’m just saying, I personally wouldn’t turn him down for a date, even though I’m a straight male.” As Bobby walked to the backroom, he said, “Good looking and rich! That’s the royal freaking hand.”



At four a.m., Clay walked me to my car, like usual. Even though he was a few years younger than me, he had taken over the role of a big brother protector as soon as I was hired. I thought he was being silly at first, but I was grateful for it now. I liked working at the café because of the flexible hours and the occasional big tipper, but I wasn’t a big fan of walking to and from my car by myself in that area. Sadly, BART, the Bay Area Rapid Transit, didn’t match my hours. I hugged him goodbye, then started the thirty-minute drive to my mother’s house, our home. As I turned onto the freeway, I smiled to myself, wondering why someone like Owen Lowell had even noticed me. I shook my head; I knew he’d forget about me in the morning anyway. And I’d forget him.


I parked on the street and opened the gate, walking up the steps to the front door. Even though it was nearly sunrise, the porch light was still on. I unlocked and opened the door slowly, careful to minimize any noise. Echoing laughter from a late night talk show filtered down the dark hallway, the screen lighting the walls in small bursts, like flickering candlelight. In the living room, my mother, Regina, was asleep on the recliner, her head tossed back, mouth open, an empty wine bottle next to her. At least I didn’t see any pill bottles this time. I took the bottle to the kitchen and rinsed it, placing it on the kitchen counter to dry. I had decided a few months ago to make lanterns with them for the backyard, trying to put a positive spin on the situation.


My shadow fell across my mother’s face, causing her to stir.


“Hi Mom,” I said. “How did you sleep?”


“Grayson used to love watching this show with me,” Regina said drowsily. Though the television program had changed every few months, she said the same line every time, holding onto that memory. The inconsistencies had bothered me at first, but I had learned to grin and bear it. There was no use in arguing with her when it came to Grayson. “He used to fall asleep on the couch quicker than in his own bed.”


“But he always slept soundest when you were there next to him,” I said, finishing her sentence. I wrapped my arm around her back. “Let’s get you to bed.”


I stood in the hallway, listening to Regina’s soft snoring, thinking of how even after all of these years, my mother still pined for Grayson, the man I refused to call my father. I wondered if it was bittersweet or sad to love someone that much. Watching my mother’s slow descent into heartbroken turmoil from the time I was eleven had changed me. I didn’t believe in love or soul mates. You could make all the promises in the world, tell someone you love them, that you would die for them, and that wouldn’t stop the person from leaving you, not even birthing a child together. When my first boyfriend only confirmed my beliefs by dumping me and sleeping with my best friend, I made the decision never to give that much of myself to anyone. The only person I could trust was my mother, and even she had her iffy moments.


But it wasn’t like I didn’t like men, at least sexually. They were fun to look at and be with, and flirting never hurt anyone. As I laid in bed, my mind wandered over Michael Lauder from the advanced photography class. He was technically the teacher’s assistant, but the professor never bothered to show up, and Michael took full advantage of that. I took full advantage of knowing that Michael liked me, being the only twenty-four-year-old in a class of undergrads. I knew if I wanted, I could have fun with Michael, but he was arrogant and too flighty. There was something off about him that put me on edge, something that made me uneasy, but I could never figure out what it was. Add that to the fact that he flirted with anyone with a vagina and used his good looks to trap the naïve undergrads. He was striking—an angular jawline, and blond hair that he kept pushed back, a tick he had with his hands, plus blue eyes and dangerously thick lips. He didn’t look like he belonged in Hollywood, but he had a strange, unforgettable look, the kind of person I wanted to mold into a statue to capture that unsettling feeling.


But the real statue had been Owen Lowell. My mind wandered over his suit cuffs, the soft black hair that crept over his wrists, the smell of cedar and smoke as he took my hand, pulling me up. His green eyes that I could get lost inside of with the way he looked at me, like he would capture me and never let me go. I wanted to capture that primal urge in sculpture. His striking dominance. The way he commanded the room and everyone in it without so much as a gesture. His pure confidence. I wanted to create a sculpture that made people feel that way, to make the audience stop in their tracks, entrapped by his gaze. Like he had caught me.


I brought my hands to my nose, breathing in his scent. How did my skin still smell like him? I wondered. I thought of his taut muscles as he helped me up, the body underneath his suit, how his arms would feel around me, like protection and a cage.

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