Master of the Dark Side


This novella was previously published in the Doms of Dark Haven 2: Western Nights anthology

Real Doms terrify her, so Summer plays with lightweights only. And only in the safety of her club, Dark Haven. But on Western Night, the tough cop who wins her in a sub-roping game is as powerful as they come.

Virgil’s first taste of BDSM was disturbingly enticing. Hoping to burn out his interest, he visits an infamous San Francisco club, where he wins himself the prettiest little sub he’s ever seen. He’s in a quandary. A man shouldn’t render a woman helpless, let alone spank her ass. But the nervous little submissive clearly loves being in his ropes. Her need to be controlled is as powerful as his need to control. So he indulges himself, and her.

That one night could be the beginning, but instead it’s the end. She won’t play outside the club and he lives too far to come play. He’ll just have to find a way to forget her…or get her in his ropes to stay.


This story wrung me out, pulling me ‘every which way' through the full gamut of emotions. I was however, left sated and limp as a cooked wet noodle on the floor… Wow, such a terrific story!”
~ Long and Short Reviews

"Ms. Sinclair delivers a deliciously sensual and dark drama that throws the reader into a whirlwind of domination, tenderness and desire that is truly delightful. The author's outstanding talents lie not just in the plotting and pace of the story but in creating the strong, passionate and charismatic characters that run as deep as their sense of honor… Another one for the keeper shelf!"
~ The Romance Studio

~ Scorching Book Reviews

"Cherise Sinclair never disappoints."
 ~ Ms Romantic Reads


My turn. Summer stepped up to the desk and waited for the two doms to notice her.

With dark hair and dark eyes, Simon and Xavier appeared like a matched set although Xavier looked flashier in his gambler’s clothing. In his forties, Simon was older and attired as an 1860’s banker. Rich, classy, powerful doms—so not her kind.

“Summer, it’s good to see you.” Simon motioned her forward and asked quietly, “How are you doing?”

“I’m fine. Thank you, Sir.”

“Are you being careful?”

After she’d healed, he’d given her a lecture on safety measures, and she’d listened carefully. One set of scars from a misjudgment was enough. “Yes, Sir. I never play anywhere but here.”

He straightened, a crease forming between his brows. “That’s taking prudence a little too far, pet. How can you form a relationship if you won’t leave here?”

At the thought of being tied up and alone with a dom—a real dom—she felt as if someone had run a cold hand up her spine. “I’m happy being a sub here.”

Xavier frowned also. “A sub? You’re not submitting; you only go through the motions. Playacting.”

Just team up on me, why don’t you? And you’re wrong. Her chin went up. “I believe that’s up to me.” When Xavier’s eyes turned to black ice, she gulped out a hasty, “My Liege.”

His forefinger tapped the desk for one beat.

She had a vision of being caged and hung from the ceiling like the last sub who’d displeased him.

Another tap.

Or up on the stage being used for flogging practice.

He finally nodded. “That is your choice.”

She took a relieved breath. Thank you, God.

Xavier turned to the crowd. “Gentlemen, this is Summer. Who would like to win her submission?”

Oh great. Make a big deal of the submission part. Thanks, Xavier. She turned to see an ego-stroking number of hands had gone up. A couple of sadists, some younger doms, and—her gaze was trapped by intent hazel eyes shaded by a black cowboy hat. The rest of the crowd blurred and faded away, leaving only the darkly tanned dominant she’d seen earlier.

He studied her; then his lips curved in a faint smile. He raised his hand to compete.

Her heart gave a nasty thud. Oh God.

“Virgil, I believe this little calf is a good one for you. She’ll need a steady hand,” Xavier said.

As if she were caught in a dream, she watched the dom—Virgil—move forward through the crowd. He looked appallingly big. A couple of inches over six feet. Dirk’s height. Probably about as heavy too, but this dom was as solid as the mechanical bull. He wore a scuffed black hat, faded cowboy shirt, and well-worn boots; she doubted his western outfit was a costume.

As he stopped beside her, his level, assessing eyes met hers, and the floor seemed to shiver like quicksand under her feet.

He glanced at Xavier. “Thank you.” He sounded pleased, thank God, since she really didn’t want to annoy him. Why did he have to be as big as Dirk? He made her feel like a little calf, and she glanced down to make sure she hadn’t grown hooves.

The sun lines beside his eyes crinkled. When he took her hand, hard calluses on his fingers scraped her palm. “Nice to meet you, Summer.” His rough baritone voice curled around her in a dark embrace.

All the spit in her mouth dried up, yet she wanted to move closer. Confused much, Summer?

“Are you ready to play?” Virgil asked, unsnapping his shirt cuffs and shoving his sleeves up to his elbows.

Lord have mercy. Even his heavy-boned wrists were muscular. But he’s not Dirk, and I’m going to be a calf. Her excitement started to rekindle. An ornery calf. “Only if you catch me.”

His growling laugh almost made her knees buckle.

“I’m glad to see you here, Virgil,” Simon said and added, “By the way, this little sub had a bad experience last year, but it’s time for her to move past it.”

Summer’s jaw dropped. “You… Damn you, that’s none of your busi—”

A hand covered her mouth completely, and a voice rumbled in her ear, “I’m new to the club, but I’d say that disrespecting a dom is a piss-poor idea.”

Oh hell. Xavier came down hard on rudeness.

Seeing the cold stare he gave her, she tried to back away, except Virgil’s unmovable, rock-hard body pressed right up against hers. Xavier turned his gaze to Virgil. “Are you still interested?”


“She will need to be reprimanded for her rude behavior.”

Virgil didn’t speak for a long moment, then said, “I understand.”

“Very good.” Xavier tilted his head toward the stage. “You’re up.”

Summer climbed the steps, way too conscious of the big dom behind her. He’d punish her? The thought of his strong hand coming down on her bottom—of having a real spanking—sent anticipation zinging through her. She glanced over her shoulder.

Such a serious expression, brows together, mouth in a tight line. But as he watched the stage where Aaron had just tossed Jen over his shoulder, laughter appeared in his eyes.

Summer smiled. He had a sense of humor after all. Oh, this might be totally great.

On the platform, the male sub directing the roping pointed to a big sack. “Boots and shirt go in there, Sir.” He checked her. “Your boots too.”

She got one boot off, but then Virgil removed his shirt and, oh Lord, her gaze got stuck on the impressive contours of his chest. With every movement, muscles rippled under his tanned skin. As he pulled his boots off, his biceps bunched, making her fingers tingle with the need to touch and discover if his muscles were as hard as they looked.

He caught her staring and smiled—not a conceited I-work-out-and-have-a-great-body type smirk, but more of a I’m-a-boy; you’re-a-girl; life-is-good. He nodded at her remaining boot.

Oh, right. She yanked it off.

“Okay, Sir and sub.” The sub handed Virgil two pieces of short rope from a box and pointed to a taped line ten feet away. “When she reaches the yellow line, you give chase. If she gets to the far side or you can’t restrain her within the time limit, you lose. No tackling.”

“Got it.” Virgil gave her a slow smile. “I don’t think she’s that fast.”

She eyed him as he put the ropes between his teeth. God, this was too fun. Her competitive spirit ordered, Run like hell. Her inner submissive said, Let him catch me. The gung ho voice won, and she leaned forward.

The sub yelled, “Go!”

Feet slapping on the plastic padding, Summer tore across the stage as fast as she could. She passed the yellow line.

She heard him behind her, the sound of his heavy stride drowning hers out. Closer. Several feet before the end, he grabbed her arm, spinning her around him until she faced the wrong way.

She staggered, tried to regain her balance, and he moved on her like a massive bear. She squeaked and backpedaled.

Grinning, he swung his foot behind her right ankle and tripped her. With a yelp, she fell backward. Her hat went flying.

He caught her on the way down, his hand gently cradling her head as he dropped to one knee beside her. Before her brain had stopped spinning, he’d rolled her onto her stomach.

No surrender. She shoved up.

His knee on her butt pinned her to the mat. Despite her flailing and kicking and giggling uncontrollably, he caught one ankle, then the other, and tied them together.

When he reached for her left wrist, she yanked it away, holding her hands above her head and out of his reach. If she used up enough time, he’d lose.

“Stubborn little calf.” His deep laugh sent quivers through her. As he slid his knee up to her midback so he could reach her wrists, his weight squished her breasts painfully against the padding. After grabbing her arms, he moved off and far too easily secured her hands behind her back.

She tugged on the ropes, feeling no give. She couldn’t break free. No escape. No escape… Her breath hitched. Twisting her head, she stared up at him, and his size kept growing until he seemed huge—bigger than Dirk. Nightmarish memories bound her tighter than the ropes. Tied. Trapped. Agony. Screaming.

She whimpered.

“Whoa, sweetie.” He lifted her to her knees and cupped her chin in his palm. His eyes were steady, not angry, not filled with lust. “You’re all right, Summer.” His rough croon, like a gravel road under soft tires, flattened out her fears.

She inhaled slowly. Idiot. This isn’t Dirk. I’m on a stage. Couldn’t get much more public or safer than that. “Sorry,” she whispered.

He chuckled. “You’re not the first calf I’ve terrorized in my time.” He raised his hands in the air—a rodeo gesture—and, as the audience cheered loudly, pulled her to her feet. He hadn’t even lost his hat.

She huffed a laugh; she hadn’t had a chance against him. Still feeling a little off-balance, she asked, “You did rodeo?”

“In my wayward youth. I never caught such a pretty calf before, though.” His lazy grin turned her insides topsy-turvy—even before he tossed her over his shoulder.

All the blood rushed to her head. A sub scooped up her hat, carefully set it in with the boots, and handed the sack to Virgil.

“Thanks.” Virgil stepped off the stage and sauntered across the room, giving Summer a dizzying upside-down view of the crowd: the receptionist, Destiny, almost naked except for plastic six-shooters. A dom with a lariat on his hip, his stalking gait that of a predator hunting a stray calf.

When Virgil turned, boots, purple suspenders, a leather thong, a chest harness, and a red velvet gown spun around her. She blinked and focused on something closer—the thick, flexing muscles on each side of his spine, the tight fit of his faded jeans over his flat butt.

When he massaged the back of her thigh with a calloused hand, heat streamed through her. She’d carefully stayed away from big men all this year, and now her hormones apparently wanted to make up for lost time.

As Virgil carried her down the stairs to the dungeon, the sounds of sex and pain smothered the country-western music from above. They passed the punishment room, where a dom was using a belt on a strapped-down sub who wore only white chaps.

A tremor ran through Summer. What did Virgil plan to do for her punishment?

He walked halfway through the room, then set her on her feet in front of a chair and steadied her. “Kneel here, please. I want to talk with you before we do anything.” He gripped her upper arms and lowered her until her bottom rested on her feet.

As he took a seat in the leather chair, she glanced around. The nearby spanking bench held a sub, restrained and gagged. Gagged. Unable to scream, to yell her safe word, to beg her dom to stop. God. The memory of being in that situation chilled her bones. “Untie me.”

He had a hard face, all bone and muscle with a strong jaw, and the slow smile he gave her didn’t transform his appearance into a nice, easy-going man. With his fingertips, he lifted her chin. “Now, Summer, I’m pretty new to BDSM, but even I know you don’t talk to a dom in such a manner.”

New to BDSM? And he made her head spin just from the power in his gaze? His hand held her face tilted up to him, so she couldn’t look away. “I’m sorry,” she muttered. She noticed with a thrill of anxiety—and excitement—that his shoulders were as wide as the chair back.

“Almost adequate. You can call me Virgil.” His fingers loosened as he rubbed his thumb over her lower lip. A glint of humor appeared in his eyes, and his lips quirked. “I don’t like the term Master, but I’m used to being called Sir.”

His straight-shouldered posture and easy authority did remind her of military men. “Yes, Sir,” she said. She regarded him for a minute. A tiny, pale scar showed on one cheekbone, another on his chin, making him appear a little battered, and somehow she liked that. His thick eyelashes were darker than his sandy brown hair and the same color as the beard stubble along his jawline. Reassuring smile lines creased the corners of his eyes and bracketed his mouth.

He released her and rested his thickly muscled forearms on his thighs as he studied her face. “Now tell me what you like and don’t like, Summer.”

Negotiations. She breathed out in relief. “I won’t be gagged. No drawing blood or hard-core pain. No anal.” She eyed him and decided on extra caution. “No bondage.”

When she’d been ten, she’d had a solo in the school play. The spotlight would track her, focus on her, much like his intent gaze did now. One corner of his mouth turned up, and he ran a finger down her cheek. “Now, I don’t particularly like gags. I enjoy the noises a woman makes. We agree on that one. I object to seeing blood or making welts or anything that won’t disappear before the next day. We agree there.”

Something in her relaxed a bit…until he added, “I do like anal play. Is your limit just for my cock buried in your asshole or for everything?”

Like his fingers? Or toys? She actually squirmed and saw him smile. “Um. For anything large?” Her gaze dropped to his crotch, where something very, very large bulged his jeans.

His laugh held a deep rumble. “I’ll take that as a compliment, little sub.” He toyed with her tiny spur earring, then stroked his finger across her shoulder, in the hollow above her collarbone, sensitizing her skin. “As for bondage, seems to me as if you’re already in restraints.”

Her jaw dropped. “Uh…that was to play the roping game.”

“Then I’d say it’s not a very hard limit. Simon said you’d had a bad experience. Anything to do with being tied up?”

Damn Simon. “No. Yes.” She scowled. “It’s got nothing to do with our scene.” Because the session would occur here in the club, in public. Her muscles relaxed.

“It’s odd, but I like seeing you in my ropes.” His mouth curved, and his fingers touched her neck, rested on her thudding pulse. “And I get the impression you like being in them, sweetheart. Don’t you?”

“But…” What could she say? He was right. Being tied up excited her. A lot. And worried her. A lot. “Yes. I guess.”

“Then why don’t we see how it goes with you in restraints.”

Simon’s warning had practically guaranteed Virgil would push her, dammit. But he was exerting only a slight amount of pressure…because he could tell she wanted the bondage. And she did. Somehow, she knew he’d be careful. God, she’d gone insane. “Yes, Sir.”

“Good. What’s your safe word?”

“It’s safe word.” She’d chosen something anyone involved in BDSM would recognize as a call for help. One more paranoia left over from before.

“Use it if that fear of yours gets to be too much. What about pain?”

How far could she trust him? “I don’t like severe pain.”

His fingers stroking her neck paused. “Then you’re saying you enjoy some.”

Those rugged, powerful hands. What would they feel like on her? Hurting her, pushing her, comforting her. She nodded.

He made a noise as if she’d hit him. “All right.” His eyes focused on the nearby scene, and he muttered, “Fucking-A,” under his breath.

From the sounds of slaps, sobs, and moans, the sub was getting off from the spanking.

His gaze came back to her. “I didn’t hear any limit on sex. Or toys.”

She felt herself flush. She didn’t usually want more than a little domination and a spanking or hand-induced sex. Yet the thought of this…stranger…holding her down and pushing inside her sparked every nerve in her body.

“I…” Why did he have to keep asking for clarifications? Her buddies simply accepted her limits without studying her reactions or questioning her answers. She shifted uncomfortably.

“I know you’re not completely at ease. That’s good to a degree.” He leaned down and dragged her completely between his legs. His thighs closed on her upper arms like iron bars. When he threaded a hand into her long hair and tugged her head back, she stared up at him helplessly, knowing the quivers in her stomach had more to do with anticipation than fear.

“Oh, you’re excited, all right. I can see it,” he murmured. He tossed his hat on the sack of clothing, and his mouth gently settled on hers. He tasted of mint. Clean and heady. His firm hand curved under her chin as he teased and nibbled at her lips

With her hands tied behind her back, head trapped by his grip on her hair, and his fingers on her jaw, she couldn’t fight his assault—didn’t want to fight as heat flooded her veins. Her lips softened, opened.

“That’s right. Let me in.” He took her mouth hard this time, as forceful as a Midwestern twister, rocking her to the foundation.

When he sat back, she wanted to follow him, to crawl into his lap, to feel his hands on her. The way his knees tightened on her shoulders, pinning her in place, showed he knew…and wouldn’t relinquish control and let her.

The knowledge finished off what his kiss had started. She felt the wetness where her bottom pressed against her legs. Her body was screaming, Yes, yes, yes. Sex!

He rested a hand on her shoulder, heavy and warm, and she couldn’t help but remember the sure strength of his hands as he’d tied her wrists. “Well, sex does seem like a good possibility, doesn’t it?” he said in a low tone, watching her with those careful eyes

Odd hazel eyes. Upstairs in the brighter lights, she’d thought they were green. Here, in the dimmer lighting, they appeared slightly lighter than his tanned skin—a brown with mesmerizing golden flecks. And filled with an intimidating self-possession.


Edge of the Enforcer cover art
Cover Art for I Will Not Beg
Master of the Wilderness Cover art