Authors: Caris Roane
St. Martin’s Press
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Reyes gripped two dangling rusted iron chains, one in each hand, as he stared down at Sweet Dove’s bondage platform. She’d tortured him in exactly this place for an entire century. She’d bound and hurt him at other locations as well, but this had been her favorite.
The platform smelled damn familiar, old blood and sex.
His nostrils flared.
Remembered pain flowed through him, and his brain misfired all over again, his rational mind winking in and out.
He struggled to hold it together, something he needed to do if he wanted to keep Angelica out of Sweet Dove’s hands.
Sweet Dove had pulled them out of the Starlin masked ball so that he still wore his Roman military costume complete with breastplate. But on Sweet Dove’s orders, Angelica had changed into a black dominatrix outfit.
Sweet Dove seemed out of character in a cream silk skirt and sheer, long-sleeved white blouse displaying a gold bra beneath. She looked more like a sexy businesswoman than a vile sadist. But then she’d just revealed the truth to him that she was Scorpion, the owner and founder of the Starlin slaver organization that had abducted Angelica and sold her at auction a little over a week ago.
Slowly he shifted his gaze to Sweet Dove, who stood to the right of the platform staring at him, and smiling from her cruel, curved-bow lips. Such a small mouth for a sadist. Her dark-blue eyes glinted with malevolent hope. Her light-red hair, almost ethereal as it flowed away from her face, gave her a strangely innocent look as did her pale skin.
Sweet Dove wanted him to say yes to her, so that like old times, he’d be chained down and under her control again.
Once he was bound, she would be free to do whatever she wanted. She could hurt him as much as she liked. She could even kill him.
In former times she’d come close again and again during her sessions with him, and he’d begged for death.
But she always brought him back, and at times she even wept at how close she’d come to losing him. He was under no illusions about the woman. Incapable of normal feelings, she’d been a rabid dog upset she might lose a favorite chew toy.
Angelica’s voice entered his mind, a sudden quiet sound that pierced the cacophony.
Reyes, come back to me. I’m here. I’m with you. You’re not alone.
Still holding the chains he pivoted slightly toward her.
Angelica. All too human in his dangerous vampire world and the biggest surprise of his long-lived life.
She stood on the left side of the platform, meeting his gaze and wearing her black leather dominatrix costume, the one Sweet Dove had insisted she wear. She was so beautiful with large warm brown eyes. Her dark hair, pulled back in a Grecian arrangement, heightened her strong cheekbones, giving her a vulnerable appearance. She was Sweet Dove’s opposite in every way.
He didn’t want her to die, but because Sweet Dove was an Ancestral and powerful beyond words, there was a strong chance neither of them would make it out of this room alive.
Sweet Dove had made it clear that he either let her bind him in chains on this table once more or he’d be kicked out of the Starlin Group for good.
The decision seemed an impossible one to make. If he left right now, he’d forfeit decades of effort spent positioning himself within Starlin, a slaver group that abducted tens of thousands of human females each year. Most of the slaves died within the first two years of captivity, and Starlin made it their extremely profitable business to replace those numbers as needed.
But if he stayed, he risked Angelica’s life and most certainly his own freedom, if not his mortality.
He held Angelica’s gaze.
I can’t keep you safe. If I’m chained down, and she chooses to hurt you, there’s nothing I can do.
I know, but we have to take the chance. If we do this, you’ll be on the Starlin Board and you’ll have access to all the information you need to bring down this wretched organization. Please, Reyes. Besides, you heard what she said. If you don’t do this, she’ll revoke your membership. Then what will we do?
You’ll go home and be safe. I’ll start over.
Sweet Dove interjected. “Interesting. The two of you are communicating telepathically. That’s an exceptional level of power. But what are you saying to each other, I wonder? And why does your slave look you directly in the eye? This one needs a lesson or two in proper submissive behavior.”
Reyes heard the threat.
She’ll hurt you, Angelica, if you don’t respond accordingly right now.
I’ve got this.
Angelica shifted to face the table, then lowered the upper half of her body onto the platform, extending her arms in Sweet Dove’s direction. “Forgive me, mistress.”
The table was so large that her fingertips just breached the halfway mark, but he feared what Sweet Dove would do next. If she decided to inflict pain, Angelica would get badly hurt.
Reyes started to warn Angelica to move away, that she was in danger. But the next moment Sweet Dove launched and caught her by the wrists.
Angelica started to scream.
Reyes could feel Sweet Dove’s preternatural power, the charge that flowed up both Angelica’s arms so that she screamed in pain. But he felt immobilized, unable to do anything to help her. If he acted, Sweet Dove would start to suspect his loyalty to the slaver lifestyle. But hearing Angelica in pain was tearing at his heart.
“Don’t you love that sound, Reyes? The timbre of your slave’s pain grips me between my legs. I could listen to this for hours.” Sweet Dove’s lids were low, her lips swollen.
Reyes had to make a decision.
Once more, however, Angelica reached into his mind, surprising him all over again.
We can do this, Reyes.
He stared at Angelica, at her bowed head, at the strained appearance of her neck as Sweet Dove continued to hurt her. She panted between screams, yet her thoughts were clear, her intentions unwavering.
Reyes, say yes.
She winced, then screamed again. After a moment she added,
I want to go down this path with you. I have a strong premonition that we must do this thing.
He couldn’t believe it. Despite the pain she endured, she wanted to move forward. He would be bound in chains, Angelica would dominate him and have sex with him, and Sweet Dove would watch.
Sweat beaded on his forehead. Because he and Angelica wore matching blood-chains around their necks, he felt her pain as well as her conviction about the situation. But he hated the thought of his former captor having this much power over him again.
As Sweet Dove continued to pummel her with painful energy, Angelica slowly turned her head to once more meet Reyes’s gaze.
He saw her determination, and suddenly his own decision was clear. “So you want to ride me, slave? To treat me as I’ve treated you? To chain me down on this table?”
More than anything, Reyes.
She shook now from the pain Sweet Dove inflicted, and tears rolled down her face.
“Beautiful,” Sweet Dove murmured. She turned to meet Reyes’s gaze as well. “You’ve trained this one so well that she begs for it. I can feel her desire for you. She wants this. She’s learning to enjoy the pain.”
He made his decision for the simple reason that he wanted to do this with Angelica more than anything else in the world. He wanted to be bound by this worthy woman, whose kind generous spirit soared miles above Sweet Dove’s low, sadistic heart. He wanted to allow a woman he trusted to have complete power over him.
To Angelica he sent,
I’ll do it, but only because it’s you.
Angelica’s eyes lit up, and he felt her siphoning his power more than ever. He watched as a surge of power suddenly entered Angelica’s arms and met Sweet Dove’s preternatural charge until sparks flew above the point at which her hands gripped Angelica’s arms.
How was she doing that?
But Sweet Dove laughed. “I believe this means you’ve brought her into complete submission, Reyes, because these are sparks of love. Only her love and devotion to you could cause this kind of reaction. I’m very impressed.”
“Release her, Sweet Dove. Let her chain me down.”
As Reyes unbuckled his metal breastplate Sweet Dove turned her attention to him, releasing Angelica at the same time.
Sweet Dove took a couple of steps in Reyes’s direction, and with the intention of keeping her focus off Angelica, he slowly removed his short white tunic.
Sweet Dove licked her lips, her gaze strafing his body. “Reyes,” she murmured. “You’ve grown so muscular over the years, and your tattoos excite me.”
* * *
As Sweet Dove lusted after her former slave, Angelica rubbed her wrists. She breathed a sigh of relief when the intense pain vanished as quickly as it had come. She drew herself upright and wiped her cheeks, then turned her attention to Reyes as well.
The sudden turn of events, when she and Reyes had discovered that Sweet Dove was the powerful force behind Starlin, that she was the terrible entity known as Scorpion, still had her head reeling. Beyond that, the woman’s Ancestral power stunned her.
Angelica’s connection to Reyes and her siphoning of his power on an almost constant basis had served to condition her more and more to this hidden vampire world. For that reason she understood the gravity of her situation more clearly than she otherwise would have.
Sweet Dove had weight in this world and terrible power. Reyes would never be able to stand against her unless he, too, embraced his Ancestral abilities. Yet he resisted, fearing that he would become corrupt like Sweet Dove or the woman’s equally sadistic right-hand man, Engles.
She forced herself to focus, to think. The masked ball had turned into a minefield that she had to learn to navigate very quickly or she’d die.
Somehow she and Reyes had to find a way to survive the bondage performance, because he’d said it exactly right: Once Sweet Dove had control over them she could do whatever she wanted, and Reyes wouldn’t be able to lift a finger to stop her.
Angelica held the flogger in her hand, the one with the strange, snake-head handle. Her tight black leather bustier pushed her breasts into full mounds and cinched in her already small waist. The pants, made up of strips of black leather, were open at the crotch. She hated the way they felt, but they at least had the advantage that she wouldn’t be completely naked during the performance.
But she’d never done anything like this before.
Sweet Dove sidled up to Reyes. He was completely naked now, the swirls of the hawk tattoos spread over his back now visible. Sweet Dove traced a finger over his tats.
He looked magnificent as he held his former captor’s gaze, his expression hard, commanding, no longer her slave.
The blood-chain at Angelica’s neck vibrated heavily with his emotion, a deep hatred that swelled through him. Angelica felt how much he despised the woman’s touch.
When Sweet Dove placed her hand on his shoulder, something deep inside Angelica began to writhe, then sharpen with rage. She moved swiftly, faster than a human, another sign she was bonded to Reyes and siphoning his power.
Placing herself between Reyes and Sweet Dove, Angelica laid the flogger against Sweet Dove’s throat. “This is my show. I’m the dom here. Got it?”
She held Sweet Dove’s gaze and felt the woman’s power like a storm against her skin. She continued to draw from Reyes, pulling his power into her and strengthening the muscles of her arms. It would take so little for Sweet Dove to kill her.
Because Sweet Dove didn’t attack, Angelica took quick charge of the situation, whirling to face Reyes. “Get on the table, slave, and do it now. You are mine to command.”
What possessed her to be so bold? Maybe a strong survival instinct, because if she didn’t play this exactly right she would die. And she knew one thing about bullies of every kind: they give way for demonstrations of strength, at least for a time.
Reyes, I’m yours right now. I’m going to ride you and make you come. Do you want me?
Reyes held her gaze, his nostrils flaring. The scent of his desire flowed around Angelica as he focused his attention solely on her. He even slid his hand to his arousal and stroked himself.
More than you can imagine.
But she had a role to play, so she slapped his hand with the flogger. “You’re not to touch yourself unless I say so.”