MOUNTAIN MASTERS & DARK HAVEN, BOOK 9
She signed away her freedom
Starved for affection, young Piper Delaney surrenders her life to a Master. But there is no love—only abuse. She’s told she can’t leave; she signed the slave contract. Years later, beaten and starving, she hears an English Dom say the contract’s illegal. Unenforceable. And she runs.
She reclaims her life and rises above the nightmare that was her past.
But her enslavement left scars. She longs for love, but the only men who truly attract her also terrify her--Dominants. Hoping to conquer her fears, she visits Dark Haven, but the sounds of the club are too much.
When a submissive panics, Sir Ethan steps in.
The powerful English Dom recognizes the shivering submissive in his lap. Years before, he’d corrected her Master’s deceit about a contract. She’s come a long way since then. Cynical at being pursued for his wealth, he finds Piper’s honesty compelling. She’s intelligent, brave…and she needs him. What Dom could resist?
He’s the Dom she’d dreamed about—perceptive, firm, and utterly self-confident.
His voice pulls her from panic attacks. His arms enclose her in safety. He treats her like a person, not something to mistreat. As he helps Piper overcome her fears, she starts to fall in love.
Then her past finds her and destroys…everything.
PRAISE FOR THIS SERIES
"As always, Sinclair delivered an emotionally charged and sizzling BDSM romance that was satisfying from beginning to end." ~ Dirty Girl Romance
"I have lost count of how many novels and short stories Cherise has written, but the characters are all so memorable, I feel as if they are all my dearest friends that live in another town. Any time I get lonely, I’ll simply pull out a book and go for a visit." ~ You Gotta Read Reviews
"Opening the pages of each new book from the wonderfully talented pen of author Cherise Sinclair is like welcoming an old friend back into your life after a noted absence. You know you are going to laugh, cry and delight in the characters as well as each scene as it comes to life, literally right before the reader's eyes. Ms. Sinclair's ability for creating intense, sexually-charged and intriguing stories filled with dark, determined and dangerous Masters and strong, charming and beautiful submissives has given her quite a following of readers who just can't seem to get enough of this 'not to be missed" author." ~ The Romance Studio
"Miss Sinclair is a wildly talented author who takes the reader on a joy ride right along with her in each and every novel she writes. I don’t play favorites very often, but I in all honestly right now she is top of the list for me when it comes to reading." ~ Nobel Book Reviews
Well, Toto, we’re still in Kansas. In the back seat of her Master’s parked Mercedes, Piper Delaney stared out the car window at the country estate. The hot summer sun gleamed off an imposing mansion that overlooked exquisitely landscaped acres.
Yes, she was still in Kansas, and somewhere along the way, she’d lost her rainbow. Biting her tongue to hold back a sigh, Piper shifted her position, trying to ease her throbbing ankle. Master had refused to allow her the use of a cane. If this summer party was like all the rest, he’d keep her fetching and carrying for hours. He’d say the pain was what she deserved for being clumsy.
Only…she hadn’t been clumsy.
Her teeth ground together to stifle a curse. Attracting Master’s attention was rarely a good idea—and never after a long trip. His temper was volatile at the best of times.
Running her hand over her head, she felt the prickle of patchy stubble, and tears filled her eyes. She’d begged him not to cut it—but her long black hair was gone.
Her breathing hitched.
Last night, as Piper was bringing Master his wine, the new slave girl had tripped her…deliberately. Piper stumbled, turned her ankle, and spilled the glass of wine on his lap.
Oh, he’d been so angry. Hitting her wasn’t enough. He’d gone and butchered her hair with scissors because she wasn’t worth dulling a razor.
She felt so ugly and dirty. Ruined. His title shouldn’t be Master or Owner, it should be Defiler.
Blinking hard, she looked out the window. The Mercedes was parked in a diagonal line of cars on the grassy guest lot behind the big country house. On the back patio, the house staff was serving up drinks and finger foods. Across the broad expanse of beautifully landscaped grounds, BDSM equipment had been set up. The tall Xs of the St. Andrew’s crosses along with stockades, whipping posts, and other equipment created dark blotches against the vibrant green lawn.
Chatting and gesturing, Masters strolled the grounds with their slaves scurrying after them like obedient dogs.
In a moment, she would be limping after Master Serna…a step behind his new girl.
She’d actually been looking forward to this party, to being around people—her favorite thing in the world. She’d even been happy to have another slave in the house, at least until slavegem turned mean. Master Serna got a kick out of encouraging her to be cruel to Piper.
So much for a possible friend.
Piper wanted to cry. Like the miserable worm she was. Because she was pitiful. A waste of space. Worthless.
A rumble of conversation came from outside the car. Her Owner was introducing himself to a man. Maybe he’d find a new client. Be in a good mood.
Her life revolved around his moods now. She hadn’t been like this—not always. Whatever had happened to the joyful, confident girl she’d been? Two years ago she’d started her second year of college filled with enthusiasm and energy. She was going to change the world. Help people.
Then she’d met Master Serna. When he’d first come into her life, she’d still been…a person. Thrilled by his attention, she’d fallen in love and happily given him whatever he asked for.
Piece by piece, he’d taken away who she was. Reducing her to…nothing. To someone who was—
She jumped, and the irritated snap in his voice sent fear shuddering through her. “Master?”
“Come here, worthless.”
Hastily, she scooted out of the backseat, smoothed down her tiny pink skirt, then limped around the car to the back where another Dominant was talking to her Master.
Master Serna was dressed in black leather pants and a sleeveless vinyl shirt that showed off his barrel chest and muscular arms. Kneeling at his feet, slavegem wore a pink halter and micro-skirt that matched Piper’s. The slave gave Piper an ugly stare.
A flicker of movement from the open car trunk caught Piper’s eye. Another glance showed only Master’s toy bag beside the heavy sheet metal box containing his sports equipment.
“I don’t meet too many people from the west coast,” Master was saying to the other Dom. “Long way to come for a party.”
“Yolanda and I are old friends, and I had business in the area.” The other man’s English-accented voice had a mesmerizing resonance. “Unfortunately, I found out one of the Masters I hoped to see today dropped out of the lifestyle.”
Standing quietly, Piper tried to look at the Dom from the corner of her eyes. Silvery-blue suit. Dark hair. A flash of deep blue eyes. She hastily lowered her head.
“Oh, do you mean old bleeding-heart Bob?” Her Owner chuckled. “Fenton made himself unwelcome in the community. Hasn’t been around for over a year.”
Piper’s hands tightened at her sides. Master Fenton had intervened when another Master almost whipped a slave to death. Later, he’d notified the authorities when a big shot Dom in the lifestyle raped a submissive. This community covered for their leaders just like the Catholic Church had with their pedophile priests. When Master Fenton pushed for accountability, he’d been driven out.
“I’m sorry to hear that.” The English Dom’s voice had chilled.
“People come and go. It happens.” Master Serna’s voice had a gloating note. He’d led the group that forced Master Fenton out.
“I’m going to send worthless here for a drink while I set up. Would you like something?” Master leaned into the car and started to drag his heavy toy bag out.
Something moved in the trunk. Piper heard a high mew and saw the bag had trapped something small and furry against the sheet metal box. “Master, wait.”
When he ignored her, she yelled, “You’re hurting it!” and pushed him to one side so she could move the bag.
Freed, the kitten blinked up at her. Alive. Thank God. But it didn’t move.
Piper leaned in. “Are you all right, baby?”
As she reached for the tiny cat, Master clouted her across the face and knocked her off her feet.
Stunned, she landed hard on the driveway. Her skimpy clothing gave no protection, and pain flared as her bare skin scraped over the rough concrete.
Owwww. Rolling up onto her knees, she knelt, head bowed, tears filling her eyes. Muscles tense, she awaited the next blow. Would a pleading apology or silence placate him better?
In her peripheral vision, she saw the kitten flee across the lawn toward the house. Good. That was good.
The other man’s velvety voice was calm. “It’s lucky your slave moved quickly, Serna. Yolanda is quite fond of her pedigree felines. Damaging one would not have endeared you to her.”
Oh, God, this wasn’t good. Left alone, Master would have smacked her a few times and forgotten about her. Now, he’d stew over the Englishman’s words. His anger would grow.
And he’d whip the skin from her back tonight once they got home.
The conversation above her head went indistinct as she concentrated on sitting perfectly still. On not letting any whimpers escape. After a minute, the rushing of her pulse in her ears died down, and she managed a deeper breath.
The Masters were still talking about people they knew in the community.
“In the kitchen, the cook mentioned that Horn’s slave had left him,” the Englishman said.
“Ran away, you mean?” Master’s voice had gone cold.
“Since slavery is against the law in the US, you can’t call it running away. No slave contract is legal, and BDSM slave contracts aren’t upheld in any court.”
The clipped words struck Piper like hard summer hailstones, and she almost—almost—looked up.
When she’d said she wanted to leave, Master told her that even if she tried to get away, the law would bring her back. Because of the contract she’d signed. He’d brandished it at her, the big formal document with her signature at the bottom. Last year, she questioned other slaves, and they’d said slave contracts were valid. That the police wouldn’t help her since she’d signed a contract.
But the contract wasn’t legal? Wasn’t binding?
Master growled under his breath. “How’d a slave get out of his house? Didn’t Horn have locks?”
“Ah, well. They were at a party like this, and she announced in front of everyone that she was done with being a slave and would someone call her a taxi.”
“The fucking bitch. Someone did, I bet.”
“Of course. If there is no consent, then everything that follows is considered assault.” The Englishman’s tone lightened. “By the way, I left a bottle of The Botanist from the Isle of Islay in the kitchen. I think you might enjoy a glass. Can you send your girl to bring us drinks? The cook will know where it is.”
“Right. Of course.” Master cleared his throat. “Worthless, fetch us drinks.”
“Yes, Master,” she whispered. She pushed to her feet, barely feeling the blood trickling down her scraped shoulder and gashed leg. Hope sped her steps toward the house even as terror clawed at her guts. Could she do this?
Backtracking the stream of wait staff carrying filled platters, she found the kitchen. It was a madhouse of people swirling around a tall wiry woman.
Gaze snagging on Piper, the cook looked her over with narrowed eyes. “How old are you?”
“She’s an adult,” a server muttered.
“All right. What do you need, chickie?” The cook added spice to a bubbling pot.
“Um. The”—she didn’t know his name—“the English Master asked for two drinks from his Botanist.”
A wave from the cook sent a server off to fulfill the request.
Standing beside the door, Piper struggled as terror started to overcome her courage. Her hands clenched. The contract wasn’t legal. She could be free.
Speak up. Now. As she straightened her spine, old scars pulled painfully. “Ma’am.”
The cook looked at her again, expression unreadable.
Piper swallowed, searching for what to say. The Englishman’s smooth voice came to her recall, offering her the correct words to use. “I don’t want to be a slave. I’m not a slave. Can y-you call me a taxi?”
“I’ll be damned.” As Piper stared, the cook actually grinned before glancing behind her. “Yo, boy, fetch my car keys and purse. Go tell Yolanda I’m taking a long break.”
Five minutes later, Piper was in the cook’s car being driven to a Wichita women’s shelter.
A month later, she was in San Francisco, far, far away from her previous Master.