MASTERS OF THE SHADOWLANDS, BOOK 9
When Rainie rushes an injured dog to a clinic, she’s appalled to recognize the veterinarian, Jake Sheffield. So not fair. His memory has haunted her for over a decade. And then he showed up at her Shadowlands BDSM club. And now, he owns the veterinary clinic? The Gods of Cruelty must be laughing at her.
Master Jake is sophisticated, wealthy, and gorgeous. Rainie’s a fluffy, ex-slum-rat. He’d never be with a woman like her. Besides, she’s been burned enough times that she won’t get serious about any man. Sure, the BDSM club trainees are supposed to be seeking a permanent Dom, but no harm, no foul—the Masters don’t need to know the truth.
As a Shadowlands Master, Jake watches out for all the trainees. But one is special. Lush body, a gift for living life to the fullest, always laughing or smiling. Now he’s learned she also has a big heart. Although Rainie trips all his switches, she’s avoided him since the moment she arrived…and he let her have that play. But when she lies to him about her goals, he knows the time has come for a Master to take an active part in her training.
PRAISE FOR THIS SERIES
"If you want to read a series that just grabs you up, and then turns you into a melted puddle of incredible sensual sensation then pick up Cherise Sinclair’s, Master of the Shadowland Series. You will not be sorry you did." ~ Black Ravens Reviews
“Shock me up and down when I got an email saying there was a new release from Cherise Sinclair. I went out and bought it without even thinking. I don’t regret it. On the lighter side of BDSM, I really loved these two characters. Throw in a canine rescue, erotic love scenes and seeing all your favorite Masters from the Shadowlands, this book left me wanting more and sad that we are running out of characters to torture.” ~Delighted Reader
"As always, Ms Sinclair tells a story that is filled with the emotions of real people, filled with the hurts and hopes that drive people to seek relationship, to seek fulfillment in so many different ways. It bears the mark of realism that comes from a writer who knows that about which she writes and brings that first-hand knowledge to the writing task. Even those readers who do not have any desire to participate in a BDSM context can feel the pain and joys of people in this story, the need to be who they are, to experience the best that living and loving can offer." ~ Book Binge
"Ms. Cherise creates these multi-layered characters you can relate to, grow to love and care about as if they are your friends. You hurt when they hurt, laugh and cry with them. You also think of these hotter than hot Doms that are supposed to be perfect, and strong, all-knowing, and have all the answers, but you come to realize they are human with their own inner struggles. It makes them that more real. Show Me Baby was one of those special stories that will stick with me a while. It really touched my heart." ~ Guilty Pleasures
Exhaustion sat heavy on Jake Sheffield’s shoulders as he stared at the impossible schedule…and considered the merits of murder. He’d start with his partner, Saxon, for taking a scuba diving vacation in Cozumel.
After disposing of his best friend’s body, he’d execute the so-called office manager of their veterinary clinic. Yes, most definitely—Lynette had to die. He studied the schedule a second longer.
Or maybe he’d kill himself instead.
“You knew a month ago that Sax would be gone, and you still scheduled surgeries for him?” Jake asked in a low tone. He was thirty-one, a veteran, a veterinarian, and a sexual Dominant since his first year in vet school; he’d had ample practice throttling back anger. “I have a full load of exams. Sax isn’t here. Who exactly is going to perform those surgeries, Lynette?” The first appointments would start arriving in a few minutes.
“I…guess I messed up, huh?” Lynette’s blue eyes shimmered with tears.
Amateur hour in the damp eyes arena wouldn’t cut it with him. In the dungeon, women were always crying. He’d caused more than a few appealing sobbing-fits himself. Deliberately.
Lynette could save herself the trouble of squeezing out some salt water.
And now he knew why Saxon had been pressured to give Lynette a job—and why her sole job reference had been so noncommittal. Because she couldn’t spell, forgot assignments, and took garbled messages. Even basic receptionist tasks were beyond her. The slender blonde was about as useful as dewclaws on a Chihuahua.
It’d be the last time he let Saxon hire anyone.
“Yes. You messed up,” Jake said evenly. “Now call and shift some appointments to later in the week.” They had a substitute vet who might be willing to pitch in on such short notice. Or maybe he could—
The clinic’s entrance door hissed open.
Jake looked up, and his mood lightened. The woman in the doorway was Rainie, a submissive in his and Saxon’s favorite BDSM club, the Shadowlands. “Come on in.”
When he and Saxon opened the clinic over two years ago, they’d been surprised and delighted when the owner of the club had trusted them with his cat. Since then, many of the Shadowlands members had brought their pets to the clinic.
Considering how the trainee avoided him at the club, her presence here was a surprise.
And he’d never seen her in street clothing, let alone a tailored suit. Her streaky brown hair was in an intricate coil at her nape. Even drenched and mud-streaked, she looked amazing. Saxon had once commented she could be a model for a BBW—big, beautiful woman. And that was only the beginning of her appeal.
“I don’t know what to do.” Her carefully even voice couldn’t conceal the underlying panic. The blanket wrapped around the animal showed a growing bloodstain.
Ignoring the office manager’s hissed, “She doesn’t have an appointment,” he motioned to an exam room. “Let’s have a look.”
After Rainie set the animal on the stainless-steel table, Jake carefully unwrapped the bundle.
Dark brown eyes, wavy filthy fur. A small dog with an equally small growl.
“He bite?” Jake asked.
“Never mind.” She might not know, especially if her pet hadn’t been seriously injured before. Jake would simply be careful, as always. Nothing obviously broken. Alert, eyes slightly glazed—probably with pain. Breathing fast. Where was the blood coming from? “What happened?”
“A car. Off Highway 19.” Her wide-set, hazel eyes sparked with anger. “The driver didn’t even stop.”
“Happens more often than you’d think.” Jake moved slowly, letting the dog smell him. A quick glance ascertained gender. “Easy, boy. I see you’re battered and sore, so I’m going to go nice and slow. You’re being a good dog. Your mama will be proud of you.”
Under the measured rhythm of the words, Rainie relaxed. Dr. Jake Sheffield’s smooth baritone projected utter confidence. That he was there to help. That he could help.
She studied him for a moment. Some of the Shadowlands Masters had the bulky musculature of powerlifters. Not Master Jake. He was a couple of inches over six feet with a lean, muscular build. Not too lean, though. The shoulders under his white polo shirt were broad, and the sleeves strained to fit around rock-hard biceps. The man was drop-dead gorgeous, with the chiseled features of a model. Shadowy designer stubble added a dangerous cast to a hard jawline.
Every instinct told her to flee.
A sizzling hot guy she could handle. But not this one. The first time she’d seen Jake had been over a decade ago, and she’d turned so starry-eyed her high school classmates had made fun of her. And…her entire life had been flushed down the toilet that day because of him.
Not his fault, certainly. He’d never even known she existed.
He sure wouldn’t have been her choice of a veterinarian today. But on the phone, Linda had insisted Jake was the best vet in the area. Master Sam, Marcus, and Master Z, took their pets to his clinic.
Maybe Linda was right. Dr. Sheffield seemed very competent, carefully checking every inch of the little dog while murmuring reassurances. The ball of fur was shaking less.
Then Jake touched something painful, and the dog yelped.
“Dammit.” Rainie glared at him. “If you hurt him again, I’m going to hit you.”
The sun lines at the corners of his eyes deepened. His warm hand closed on hers. “Let me look under there. Just for a minute.”
Rainie realized her fingers lay on the dog’s neck. She’d been trying to comfort the poor thing, even if she hadn’t a clue what she was doing. “Right. Sorry.” She stepped away.
The dog on the metal table scrabbled in an attempt to stand.
“Get back here.” Iron edged Jake’s quiet order. His voice gentled as he said, “Easy, boy. She’s not going anywhere. See?”
Mouth open in surprise, Rainie resumed her place. When Jake placed her hand on the dog’s shoulder, the small body relaxed. Eyes the color of dark chocolate watched her anxiously. Was the tiny dog fearful she’d move away again?
She could feel the tug, as if a string had been tied to her heart.
“There you go, little guy. She loves you, see?” As Jake palpated the dog’s stomach, his brows drew together. “Has he been off his feed? He’s way underweight. And full of burrs. Do you live in the country?”
“What?” She massaged the wet fur lightly and felt gritty dirt. “He’s not mine—I mean I picked him up when the Boston butt-head hit him.”
“Boston’s your boyfriend?”
“No. A car in front of me with Boston plates. I just got stuck with damage control.” And speaking of damage, she was totally screwed. “Oh Go—goodness, I have to get to work.”
When she looked at her watch, her heart sank. She was horrendously late. And her suit was wet and muddy and covered with dog fur. “I need to leave. Or I’ll be fired.”
“I see.” Jake’s dark brown hair fell over his forehead as he watched her with green eyes the color of leaves in midsummer. “I don’t think any bones are broken, but I’d like to take some X-rays and check for internal damage. You can pick him up tonight on your way home.”
“Pick him up? But he’s not my dog.”
“Maybe. Maybe not. Our tech will check if anyone’s looking for him.” He stroked his hand down the dog’s side, flattening the curly fur. Rainie could see the hollowing below the ribs. “I’d say he’s been living on the streets. Might’ve been dumped.”
“Seriously? A little dog?” That was just wrong. A warm wave of kinship to the animal ran through her. She knew how it felt to be abandoned. Alone and not wanted. Surviving on the streets. “Poor baby.” She gently ruffled the dog’s ears and heard his soft whine of…gratitude? Longing?
Oh heavens, what was she thinking? Brows pulling together, she scowled at Jake. “You are not going to coerce me into keeping this dog. I don’t do animals.”
“All things change, subbie,” he said softly, for her ears alone. The light amusement of an utterly confident Dom made her insides shiver. His voice returned to a normal level. “You pick up the dog tonight, and I won’t charge you for his care.”
Her mouth dropped open. Charge me? But…but… This day kept getting worse. She hadn’t even thought about a vet bill, and from the professional appearance of the office, the clinic probably charged a whack of a lot.
But, to be fair, it was Jake’s living.
Unfortunately, she didn’t have the cost of a vet visit in her savings. If he’d take care of the little dog for free…
In return, she’d be stuck finding the little guy a good home. She drew herself up and gave him the iciest look she could muster. “Fine. I’ll be in around five-thirty.”
“Mmmhmm.” His firm lips quirked. “That works.”