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Branded Sanctuary, Page 22

Joey W. Hill

Page 22


  Marguerite and Tyler took the protection of their guests seriously, including those who agreed to be auctioned. While the photos provided were professional quality and erotic as hell, all slaves were shown with masked or averted faces.

  Slave Number Twelves mask was form fitting and black, allowing the potential bidder to see firm lips, a well-cut jaw. The rest of the man was completely nude, artistically posed so muscles gleamed and shadows only enhanced the rugged physique. His cock was erect, showing his potential to give pleasure. The text provided further coding on the types of bondage he embraced, pain levels, play preferences. Chloe skimmed the terms, some familiar some not, her fingers holding the edge delicately, as if he might reach across the page and brush her fingers, startling a jump out of her. A keepsake indeed.

  A ccording to the front program, eighteen were being auctioned tonight, twelve more tomorrow. Before she could decide whether she dared to turn the page, there was an expectant shifting as the latest slave was led off. It told her whoever was coming up next was as well-anticipated as Caleb had been.

  A s a result, she didnt know how to feel when she realized she didnt have to look in the book to seek Brendan. He was coming up on stage.

  * * * * *

  This is the third year this slave has been on our docket, and there are three of you in the audience tonight who know he is worth every dollar thats offered for him. More.

  That succinct, throaty one-word opinion came from the A mazon in red. Unlike the audience, Chloe didnt feel like laughing at all.

  Truly versatile, Kale continued, with a nod in Reginas direction. Slave Number Thirteen can be as hardcore as you wish, with a top level ten pain threshold. But he is equally ready to be your gentle poet, your romantic fantasy. He is whatever you want him to be, ladies and gentlemen. His hearts desire is to please the Master or Mistress who demands his submission. Please note, this year his services are offered for only this night, a limited engagement. Bid accordingly for this rare experience.

  Chloe did turn the page, her fingers resting on the main photograph, but she hadnt looked at it yet. Couldnt tear her eyes away from the stage, for a couple reasons.

  The first was his sheer magnificence, for lack of a better word. He was handsome, she already knew that, knew she was probably half in love with him, or at least in love with the things hed done and been for her these past few days. She knew enough about love to know a person fell in love based on deeds first, with the soul deep connection, the one capable of saving or destroying her, coming later. However, with the strength of her reaction to him, she wondered if it was possible to have it all happen at once, a trembling skein of interwoven strands of color.

  She understood immediately what it was about him that had made him so popular for the past three years. He had an aura that would have drawn the attention of any sultana or princess in a bazaar centuries ago. Or a prince, because she was all too aware he was getting as much male attention, particularly from the two men at her right. Such a prince or princess would have offered a small fortune to purchase him, because that aura said clearly, I am yours, if youll have me. Ill serve you with everything I am.

  When he came onto the stage, she was dimly conscious that he offered brief bow to Marguerites table. But Chloes attention was riveted on him.

  Every muscle gleamed, not the overly oiled look that suggested greasy fingers. It was the shine of perfect lighting along a statues muscles, the fine arch of a foot, length of calf, etched shoulder and pectoral, the corded throat.

  He was not entirely naked, though provocatively close. A kilt of chain mail fell to mid thigh. The mail gleamed with dull gray and sparkling silver metal links. A belt held it low on his hips, so low the diagonal line of muscle that led to the groin was visible, making a woman think of placing her hand on that muscle, following it with teasing fingertips

  The weight of the chain mail would conceal his erection, she realized, and the knowledge of that was as tempting as seeing it revealed. She lingered on the belt, noting how blatantly sexual a mans belt could be. Designed to draw the eye just above where the cock and balls were, there was a less-than-subtle implication of sex. The tongue was run through a buckle, tied over and pulled through to drape alongside the groin area.

  With hungry eyes, she climbed his flat abdomen to the expanse of shoulders and strong arms, the column of throat. His hair was loose, nearly brushing his shoulders. The attitude and posture of his body conveyed absolute focus in this moment, but when she reached his eyes, she realized that focus had one single target.

  It was the second reason she couldnt tear her gaze away to look at the program. Those beautiful eyes, so intent beneath the silken brows, were alive and full of desire, need, and pure male intent. The most determined force on earth, one that had carried man through fire, flood, ice age, Biblical retribution and into the modern age. A nd that intent was zeroed solidly, solely, on her.

  A s if he knew the moment she recognized it, he took another step forward on the stage.

  She was vaguely aware theyd started the bidding, but she heard Kales sensual chuckle, a pause in the action. It appears our slave has made his choice. You might have to work extra hard to hold his attention, ladies and gentlemen Brendan didnt acknowledge the comment, merely kept looking at her. She couldnt really describe what was in his expression, any more than she could describe what welled forth in her now and made her stand up. Or raise her program and call out, though her voice cracked with nerves.

  One thousand, two hundred and eighty-nine dollars. A nd eighty three cents.

  Though the crowd had been attentive and quiet during the bidding, there was now an abrupt stillness. Every head turned toward her, making her feel like a child caught licking the butter knife at an adult banquet. Brendans gaze, however, didnt waver. Something coursed through it, an expression she still would be hard pressed to describe, but one which spread warmth through her like the certainty of Heaven and proof of true love, all rolled into one. Even if she had just made an ass of herself, she refused to regret it.

  A t least thats what she told herself, as the auctioneers commanding voice drew her attention away from her folly and presumption. She didnt dare look at Marguerite and Tyler.

  Slave Number Thirteens ability to mesmerize an audience never fails to amaze. Miss, you may not have heard the previous bids, but the current bid on the floor is at fourteen thousand. Thats five digits. One comma, no periods. There were some chuckles, and Chloes cheeks burned. Did you wish to raise your bid to match that, perhaps? Despite his humor, Kales tone was cordial, not unkind. There was that same knowing Masters look in his direct gaze that shed seen in Tylers, such that she couldnt seem to stop her next words.

  NoI Thats all I have in savings. I She couldnt bring herself to withdraw the bid, so she sat back down, shaking her head.

  Very well, then, the auctioneer said after a moment. Then we shall continue. Master Tyler, you wish to bid?

  No. Tylers voice held amusement, perhaps at the unlikelihood of him bidding on a male slave, or perhaps at Chloes pathetic bid. She couldnt look at his face to see which, but at least he didnt sound mad. Before the bidding continues, I invite you all to raise a glass to a bidder who offered all the money she has to secure a slave. While we may all understand the feeling, rarely do we act on such overwhelming desire. Here, here, to the lovely lady in the back.

  Chloe lifted her head at the chime of glasses being raised and struck with utensils. She found she barely had the courage to meet Tylers vibrant amber gaze over the lawn, but she managed it. A s well as a nod. She wasnt sure if she was supposed to stand to acknowledge the compliment, but figured remaining motionless was her best option. Her only option, because the next bid was called out.

  Minus two thousand.

  Kale peered over the crowd, focusing on the table next to Chloe with the two men. Pardon me, Master Neil?

  Master Neil rose, all sensual male
and perfect fashion sense. Chloe thought he could have graced the cover of a Regency romance. I said negative two thousand. Those of you who have attended proper schools might surmise that adding fourteen thousand to negative two thousand brings the bid to twelve thousand. However, please note, with respect to tonights cause, I will honor my original bid to the shelter. On the positive side of the balance sheet.

  Tyler raised his glass to Neil, gave him a nod. The A mazon lifted her program then. Indeed, Neil. I raise your bid, under the same terms.

  Negative twenty five hundred.

  The auctioneers brow lifted and he glanced at Tyler, who simply offered a slow smile and sat back down.

  Chloe realized both bidders must have put in bids on Brendan in the amounts theyd just offered, only on the plus side of the balance sheet. Now it was picked up across the room by the others. Her hands closed into balls as she heard the callouts. Minus three thousand. Minus fifteen hundred.

  A nother wave of the utensil-to-glass applause. When she lifted her gaze again, she sucked in a breath. Brendans eyes were still on her, only now there was such an intensity to his face that it made him seem like a warrior in truth. Or a poet, as Kale had suggested, a Druid priest, a young, beautiful god, hungering to be at her side. These people were crazy. Shed be bidding upward, completely ignoring her shoddy little offering. He was worth so much more

  Mistress Lyda?

  The auctioneers attention had turned. Chloe realized he was looking toward the final bidder, the one whod pushed it to fourteen thousand with a hefty five thousand raise. She didnt look the type to be moved by sentiment or Chloes gesture. She looked like the type of woman who would use Brendan hard and leave him with a smile on his lips. Long red hair with dyed silver streaks, milk white skin, lots of it available for view with her lush breasts nearly spilling out of a white corset. Matching creamy latex pants topped by laced thigh high boots. Diamonds sparkled at her throat like ice, and she had silver eyes, obviously contacts to match her platinum hair. It was an ensemble that made even Chloes loins stir to look at her.

  She wouldnt give him up. Chloe wouldnt blame her at all. If Brendan was what he said he was, how could she possibly compete with what this woman could offer him, anyway? The Mistress had picked up her wine glass, taken a delicate swallow then put her finger in to slowly swirl it before tasting it on her fingertip. She had everyones attention, but it was Brendan who drew Chloes eyes from her.