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MASTERS OF THE SHADOWLANDS, BOOK 11
A man protects those given into his care.
Landscape designer, Beth King survived an abusive husband and built a new life for herself with the help of Master Nolan, the strongest, most protective man she has ever known. She loves him with all her heart, but the one thing he wants, she can’t give him. To her grief, the damage from her abusive first marriage means she can’t bear him children.
As Beth and Nolan change their plans and pursue adoption, they're already imagining a baby girl in the nursery. But when two boys from the local domestic violence shelter see their mother taken to the hospital, they call Beth in a panic. Agreeing to care for them temporarily, Beth soon falls in love with the two adorable boys.
Now Master Nolan has a new problem. How can he protect the children when their drug-addicted mother is released—and how the hell can he keep his sweet submissive’s heart from being broken when they leave?
Heads-up, my dears: the story is heartwarming…yet heartbreaking due to children in a domestic violence situation.
PRAISE FOR THIS SERIES
Would this be a good time to admit that I read this novel twice?
~ Lit4Ladies Reviews
"Protecting His Own gets a FIRM BUT TOUCHING, FIVE SHOOTING STARS! This book will leave your emotions in every which way and back again!" ~ Marie’s Tempting Reads
"From the heartbreaking first chapter to the last I dont think I ever had a dry eye during this book. This was one emotional powerhouse of a story." ~ SNS Reviews
"As always Cherise Sinclair takes you through the emotional wringer and then cuddles you like a well used submissive." ~ Guilty Pleasures Reviews
"PROTECTING HIS OWN certainly exceeded my expectations. Wrought with emotion and passion, this story proves why Cherise Sinclair is one of the premier authors of the BDSM Erotic Romance genre." ~ Under the Covers
Inside the Shadowlands, as the raspy-voiced music and brutal rhythm of Coil’s “Heartworm” scraped against his skin, Nolan King paused to let his eyes adjust to the dimmer light of wrought-iron sconces. Good crowd tonight. The clubroom encompassed most of the mansion’s bottom floor, and every scene area down the length of the room was filled.
In the right corner, dancers writhed on the small dance floor. Fancy latex and leather gear vied with the classic choice of bare-ass naked. Past them, in a roped-off spanking bench area, a Domme smacked her whimpering blonde submissive with a paddle. Erratic screams farther away were probably from someone using a cattle prod.
On the left, the food and drink buffet corner held small tables and chairs. No Beth.
In the center of the room, unoccupied submissives had a sitting area where they hung out. No Beth.
Doms and their submissives clustered around the massive oval bar, which was tended by Cullen and his submissive, Andrea. Someone there would undoubtedly know where his little rabbit had holed up.
“Hey, welcome home, buddy.” Cullen’s voice boomed out as he reached a long arm across the bar top to grip Nolan’s hand. “Didn’t think you’d ever get back.”
“I was beginning to wonder myself.” Nolan accepted a Corona from Andrea. Cold brew—one of life’s finer pleasures and one he’d been missing lately. Making love to his woman was another. “Where’s my wife?”
Three years ago, wife had been a four-letter-word; Beth had transformed the word into one that meant miracle.
“She and Jessica wanted to watch Vance and Galen co-top.” Cullen motioned toward the far end of the room. “Good you’re back. Beth’s not looking good.”
“So I hear.” Nolan’s mouth tightened. She was probably having nightmares brought on by those fucked-up assholes who’d broken into Anne’s house. Thank God, Beth hadn’t been there. Kim had suffered a few flashbacks from the attack, but Raoul, her Dom, had seen her through them.
Nolan hadn’t been around to help Beth.
Cullen’s thick, brown brows drew together. “You look almost as bad as she does. You okay?”
“Yeah. Banged up my shoulder a tad.”
As he headed for the back, other members greeted him. He spotted other Masters here and there. Olivia was with a new subbie—a blonde this time. Jake had restrained Rainie to a St. Andrew’s cross and was adjusting the lighting to show off her colorful tattoos.
In a gold-trimmed dungeon monitor vest, Dan watched a newbie trying to flog a pretty brunette. From the cop’s displeased expression, he’d soon take the flogger away and send the young Dom home to practice on a pillow.
In the back corner, Z had roped off an oversized area for the whip enthusiasts. Chains from an exposed ceiling beam restrained Sally’s arms over her head. In front of the little brunette, Vance teased her breasts with a small deer hide flogger. Behind her, Galen was using a single-tail to crisscross her back and buttocks with thin red lines.
From the way her head rested on her upraised arm, Sally was deep into subspace. Not surprising. The two Doms did a damn fine job at double-teaming their submissive wife.
Nolan checked the chairs outside the area…and found Beth and Jessica. He set his unfinished beer on a table for the staff to pick up, crossed his arms over his chest—winced at the pain—and studied his woman.
Curled into a corner of a leather couch, his little subbie wore jeans and a plain white T-shirt. No makeup. Her long, red-brown hair was yanked back with a scrunchie. Jesus, she’d normally dress up more than this to pull weeds.
When she jumped at a man’s shout from a nearby scene, Nolan knew her nerves were shot. Yet the few times they’d managed to talk, she’d insisted she was fine.
She’d lied to him.
As he was swallowing that unpalatable fact, she glanced around the room. Her gaze went past, stopped, and snapped back to him. Her hand went to her mouth. “Master?” And then she tore across the space and slammed into him so violently he rocked back on his heels.
Fuck, that hurt.
He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her tighter. Finally.
“You’re here!” She squeezed him with arms that were too thin, but beautifully muscular, and he bent down to inhale her strawberry-lemon scent. His own sweet, spicy treat.
Her lips were soft, urgent, and giving as she pressed up against him so closely not a hair’s breadth of space remained. Damn, he’d missed her.
As footsteps moved away, he realized Jessica had tactfully left them to their reunion.
Eventually, he pulled back…and frowned. His friends had nailed it. Although Beth’s face was flushed with excitement, the dark circles under her eyes showed clearly.
Not noticing his study, she patted his short beard. “What is this? I almost didn’t recognize you.”
“Didn’t take the time to scrape it off when I got home.” With Native American ancestry, he didn’t grow much of a beard. Shaving at the job site had been too much trouble for what was mostly scruff.
She traced the beard’s edge along his jaw. “I kind of like it,” she murmured.
“I’ll leave it for another day for you.”
Her hand paused, and her forehead furrowed. “You look awfully tired, my Master.”
“Long flight.” As he ran a finger over her cheek, he noted how the bone was more pronounced, and he tilted her face up. She’d always been slim, but she’d dropped several pounds. She hadn’t had it to spare. Concern edged his voice. “Little rabbit, what’s going on? You look like hell. How much weight have you lost?”
Her flinch conveyed he should have gone easier. Maybe so, but every time they’d managed a connection, he’d asked her how she was. And every time, she’d said, “I’m doing okay. No problems.”
“I’m fine.” She lifted her chin. “Working outside when it’s this hot kills my appetite.”
“Does it now?” Aaaand that would be lie number…something. She was just piling them up. He’d swat her ass, but she lacked the padding now to take a good spanking. “Instead of doing a scene, I’d better feed you.”
“I… Okay.” Her eyes held disappointment—and relief.
Relief? His eyes narrowed. First, he’d get some food into her and then he’d take her home, and it’d be come-to-Jesus time. A long talk was overdue, one where she’d be nice and close. She might have evaded his questions over the phone, but her body couldn’t lie to him.
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