Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font  

Branded Sanctuary, Page 23

Joey W. Hill

Page 23


  He had turned toward the Mistress, at last breaking his focus on Chloe. He met the womans eyes briefly, then he dropped to one knee, bowing his head. The movement hiked the kilt up on his thigh, revealing the line to his buttocks, shadows gathering and suggesting the heavy curve of smooth testicles. His biceps tightened as he placed a hand on his thigh, held the position.

  It was clearly a petition for her mercy.

  Minus thirty-seven hundred, she said clearly, in a voice that was a cross between smoke and a kittens purr. I believe that brings my bid to thirteen hundred. But I think I could be persuaded to enter another minus twenty. If this particular slave put his lips to my boot heel, showing his gratitude for my generous spirit.

  Chloe didnt really want that paragon of Domme perfection anywhere near Brendans mouth, boot heel or anything else. She dug into her small purse, fumbled it so she dropped the change with a resounding clatter on the glass table, but she was already shooting to her feet, doing a quick calculation. I have thirty-three more dollars.

  The woman shifted her glance to Chloe. Chloe met her look head on, the money clutched in her fist.

  Slowly, the womans lips curved. She looked toward Kale, gave a slight head shake.

  The slave is sold to the bidder in the back for one thousand three hundred and twenty-two dollars. A nd eighty-three cents.

  The musical discord of glasses and utensils started up again as Chloe let out her breath, feeling her cheeks flush at the nods of those closest to her.

  Congratulations, the Regency romance hero said, giving her a smile tinged with regret. Go collect your prize.

  Chapter Ten

  Chloe was conscious of eyes on her as she skirted the tables to go to the side of the stage, but thankfully, they started bidding on the next offering, a pair of male slaves, twin brothers, who came out with awesome endowments that might have made her jaw drop if she hadnt been absorbed by her own purchase.

  There was an attendant waiting, a slim female Domme whod volunteered to handle this part of the auction coordination. She wore a dark vest, tailored slacks and sensible heels, her long and dark hair pulled into a neat braid. Brendan had come down to the side of the stage where shed apparently had him take a knee, for he waited, his head bowed, the silken hair shading his face, emphasizing the jaw line. She liked seeing his face, his eyes, the reassurance they offered her, but she assumed this must be some kind of etiquette.

  The woman nodded to her. Master Tyler has indicated he will secure your payment, since you are staying as his personal guest. Would you like to pick out the collar for your slave? You may also choose a leash if you wish. They are available for loan or purchase.

  She gestured to a board behind her, outlined in tiny blue lights, the selection against a backboard of green velvet draping. Chloe saw everything from a standard thick leather studded dog collarwryly, she wondered if it was considered a classic by the BDSM crowdto what she was alarmingly sure was a choker of real diamonds, since there was a certificate of authenticity from the diamond company attached to it. There were collars obviously meant for other parts of the anatomy, even though some were cruelly spiked orshe swallowedset with electrodes. When she saw several plain neck collars, she imagined buckling them around Brendans neck, making her claim of ownership in a way that, up until now, had been a foreign concept to her.

  Shed let intuition guide her to make the bid, not thought. Since she was already treading, it was a little too late to think about how deep the water was, or how far she might be from shore already. She took the satin blue ribbon shed tied around her head to keep her front curls back from her face. Id like to use this instead, she said. If thats okay.

  Your Mistress gifts you with a symbol of ownership from her own wardrobe. You are most fortunate. The woman nodded and withdrew, her attention on the two men now coming down the steps, their large cocks moving in a most distracting way. Chloe cleared her throat, cheeks flaming again when she could tell from the flicker of Brendans lashes hed noticed her looking.

  Not thinking of trading up already, are you? he murmured.

  A t the sound of his voice, the familiar dry humor, some of the anxiety loosened in her belly. I guess Ill settle for you. Im tapped out of funds, you know. But despite their banter, when she threaded the ribbon around his right biceps, tying it there like a knights favor, she noted the quiver in the firm muscle. She remembered how the audience had responded when Slave Number Two had trembled under a Masters touch. While she hadnt entirely understood why theyd considered that shudder a gift to them all, a part of her had. Her own hand wasnt steady. She knew why she was rattled. What bemused her was him. Hed obviously done this before, with women far more demanding than her, she was sure. So why would he tremble, if not at her touch?

  Look at me, she whispered.

  He obeyed instantly, so instantly it reminded her he was hers to command for the next twelve or so hours. Literally. This wasnt some play auction like Win a Date for Charity, whered they go to dinner, make small talk. Within the bounds of that brochure, he would be and do whatever she wanted. Holy God. A nd she didnt have to feel guilty, because it was what he wanted and craved. The unknown variable wasnt him. It was her.

  Her fingers were twined in the ribbon, pressed against hard flesh. I want to go somewhere to be alone with you. How about the gardens?

  No. She corrected herself. I want to go to the gardens. Shed been adventurous once, sexually and in myriad other ways. She was safe here, so shed try it out, see the way it felt to be in control. Though as he rose, his greater height taking him above her, the way his eyes held her, she thought it might not be as simple as all that. His desire was an overwhelming force of its own. In fact, there was a plausible argument that, with that intense stare over the audience, hed chosen her.

  Yes, Mistress, he said. She knew she could tell him to call her Chloe, but it was a peculiar feeling, the way he was waiting on her to make that determination.

  I like you looking at my face, she said as she drew them away from the group. Id prefer that, instead of you looking down like some of the otherothers. She still had her fingers coiled in the ribbon, worrying the silk as well as rubbing him with her knuckles. She hadnt seen him in three days, but it felt so much longer. If she thought about it too much, she might let it overwhelm her.

  I like looking at your face too. His voice was low, as if he felt the weight of the physical and emotional need bottled between them. He covered her hand on his biceps with his other one, steadying her as they walked over uneven ground. You look incredible, he said. The sexiest woman here.

  Yeah, right. But when she met his gaze briefly, she almost believed he meant it. You look pretty mouthwatering yourself.

  He measured his pace to hers and she leaned into him, her hip brushing his, cotton against mail, feeling the shape and sense of his leg sliding against her thigh.

  Tyler had a small forest of fruit and crepe myrtle trees. The fruit trees had a few unexpected fall blooms amid the green leaves. Their branches and those of the mature crepe myrtles framed winding brick paths that meandered through statuary, fountains and quiet pools, private nooks for reading or napping, or stolen moments, like this. If she had a choice of what Heaven could look like, she wanted it to look like Tylers gardens. Hed expanded it since he and Marguerite had married. There were times she believed Tyler pulled off his green thumb miracles in the salt-laden Florida climate all to create a Paradise on earth for his wife. Probably to make up for the dark shadows of hell that her early life had been, a life Chloe had seen first hand.

  She pushed that away. Not going there tonight. Not here, not now. Theyd made it ten steps into the tree area when she turned into Brendan.

  Before he could touch her, shed caught both of his hands. Holding his gaze, she backed him up, one step, two steps, moving under a citrus tree.

  The green leaves closed in a curtain behind them, several of those late blossoms c
aught in his hair.

  When she had him against the trunk, she guided his hands upward. Though she couldnt reach to the full length of his arms, her intentions were clear. Watching her the whole time, he curled his hands around the branch above him, leaving his body stretched and open to whatever she wanted to do to it. Her imagination caught fire and the desire rippled through her, almost paralyzing her at all she wanted to do.

  He was taller, much stronger, and yet she held him with a word, a gesture. Because shed given him permission to look her in the eye, all that combustible desire was like a dangerous current rising between them, making her wonder how hard she could push before it would arc and snap, and hed take them both over. How far did his control go? Would he beg? Did she want him to?

  She put her hands on his chest. When shed finally dared a glance at his program page, it said hed take pain, pleasure, it didnt matter. His drug of choice was a Mistresss desire. She dug her nails in and his gaze darkened.

  ChloeMistress, he corrected himself.

  She kept digging, but moved her touch down, scoring red lines in his skin. Over the washboard abdomen, down to the belted mail tunic. She dropped one hand lower, came up under it, finding bare thigh. She hesitated, then a boldness gripped her, validated by the atmosphere, by the driving need inside her that had been growing for three days. She moved her stroking touch to the cock and balls hed displayed so temptingly when hed knelt toward that other Mistress. Heat and steel, the kiss of moisture at the tip. He groaned as she found he was quite aroused, just as shed expected. Hed teased them with the weight of that mail, kept it hidden from view.

  Turn around, she whispered. When he did, she indulged in cupping her hands over his ass under the tunic, watching the movement of the mail over the shape of her hands. She wondered abruptly what it was like to create welts on a mans broad back, his flexing buttocks, make him arch from the pain like they had Caleb.

  Was the power she was feeling akin to violence? It wasnt a violence shed ever experienced before. This was hot and molten. She wanted to touch, bite, mark. She was dangerously out of control and she didnt care. He was hers. A ll hers. Shed given everything for him. She recalled the brochure. Will do anything to serve

  Will you She stopped. Get on your knees.

  A s he went down, his gaze was down, probably watching where he was placing his knees. She saw the passion in his eyes, though, the building lust and something else, an emotional storm building with every order she issued. Was he responding to her specifically, or any Mistress who could press the right keys? She didnt care to tarry in those waters right now. It didnt matter. With that penetrating look from the stage, hed chosen her tonight. Impatience with her own insecurities flooded her, and a little bit of anger. Tonight, she wasnt tolerating anything but what she wanted, making apologies for none of it. Damn all of them, though she wasnt sure who them was.