Mischief and the Masters by Cherise Sinclair

  Andrea heard him. “This was your work, Zuri?”

  Uzuri waved a hand. “Your family did all the hard work. I only helped with the planning.”

  “I might have known. You’re the only one I know who could manage to make a street party look classy and fun, as well.” Andrea tilted her head up and grinned at her husband. “Want to make the rounds and say hi to anyone we missed?”

  “Aye.” After helping her stand, Cullen gave a disparaging glance at the pitcher on the table. “I suppose that’s tea?”

  “Yes, mi amor.” She patted his hand. “I’m sorry.”

  Approaching, Alastair overheard. “We stocked Guinness in the drinks booth for you.”

  Cullen’s face lit. He patted Uzuri’s shoulder. “Keep this Dom, pet. He’s a good one.” After a glance at Max, he amended, “Actually, love, you should keep them both.”

  Before she could respond, Cullen ushered his bride in a direct line toward the well-marked drinks booth.

  With his low rumbling laugh, Alastair settled down beside Uzuri and appropriated her hand as casually as if…well, as if he had a right. “Speaking of keeping,” he said, “Max and I have spoken about your broken window as well as your goals.”

  She stiffened. Talking about her duplex was one thing. Goals, however, were private, not something to discuss at a party.

  “We decided you should stay with us for two or three weeks. Your window will be repaired. And we can help you with those goals.”

  “Whaaaat?” Some weather phenomenon had sucked all the air right out of Tampa. Struggling for her next breath, she stared at Alastair’s darkly elegant face. “I can’t do that.”

  Yet, a tiny whisper inside urged her to say yes. She’d never felt as safe as when she was with them. Well…safe in one respect.

  “Sure, you can,” Max said. “You’ve already stayed with us once.” His arm was across the back of her chair again, and his powerful hand curved over her shoulder.

  “That was because I was hurt. There’s no reason now.” Her heart was speeding as if she’d run from one end of Brendall’s to the other. They wanted her?

  Oh, she longed to say yes, she really did.

  “You need to learn to ask for help,” Max pointed out. “We can work on that.”


  “You need to move past being afraid of men,” Alastair added. “Living with two Doms would help.”

  Doms. That made it clear what kind of a stay it would be, didn’t it? Did they feel taking her in was their duty?

  She didn’t want to be a duty.

  Because…she could so easily fall for them. After a second, she had her voice under control. Her heart—perhaps not. “I don’t think those are good enough reasons.”

  As smoothly as any British lord, Alastair kissed the back of her hand, and his resonant voice shivered across her skin. “Allow me to offer an additional reason. We want you to stay with us.”

  The action and the statement left her speechless. Oh, Blessed Mother. They wanted her.

  Alastair waited, calm and patient.

  And Max? His silence was as loud as a shout.

  She turned to look at him.

  His compelling gaze was an incandescent blue like the hottest center of a flame. “Say yes.”

  “Let me toss this in.” Holt was watching with amusement. “My landlord is remodeling the apartment entry, and the construction noise keeps me awake. I could use a place to stay.”

  Uzuri frowned. “You want to move in with Max and Alastair?”

  “No, sweetie. I don’t swing that way.” Holt grinned. “But, if you move in with them, I can stay in your duplex. I’ll even clean up the broken glass for you.”


  Max turned her face toward him and repeated, “Say yes.” In his carved face, only his eyes showed his desire.

  She looked at Alastair and saw the same demand. They wanted her.

  But two to three weeks? This wouldn’t be the same as last time. She’d had sex with them. They’d want to continue.

  Excitement and anxiety shivered up her spine, because she wanted to continue, too. She wanted to make love—have sex—with them. To wake up held in strong arms. To sleep knowing she was perfectly safe. To hear the low grumbling sound of a man’s voice in the morning.

  Could her life get any more confusing? She’d never felt this way about anyone—and now she was sliding right into…caring…for two men. Two Doms.

  No. No, this was insane. She couldn’t do this.

  As the music changed to a romantic slow tune, the dance floor cleared and then several couples walked out. Cullen’s grandparents. Gerald and Martha from the Shadowlands. Two men who were both gray-haired. A few more. All of them were seniors. “What’s going on?”

  Alastair stroked a finger down her cheek. “This dance is for those who’ve been together longer than forty years.”

  “Wow. They managed to stay together through…everything.” What would it be like to walk beside someone for—for longer than she’d been alive? To outlast all the obstacles—the newlywed battles and mix-ups, the boredom and temptation and stresses in the middle, and somehow reach the final stretch looking…content. Still in love.

  Max kissed her cheek and whispered. “Yes, they’d stayed together, but Zuri, they’re also the ones who were brave enough to take the first step. Say yes, darlin’.”

  As in the dojo, he was challenging her to find her courage. There was no answer but one.

  She pulled in a breath and looked at him and then Alastair. “Yes.”

  Chapter Seventeen

  ON MONDAY EVENING after work, Alastair carried Uzuri’s suitcase up the stairs, feeling immense satisfaction at having the little submissive here in their home. Although she’d spent last night after the reception, this was better. Now she’d stay for weeks.

  If not longer…

  When she headed for the small guest room, he shook his head. “We prepared a different room for you.”

  “But why?”

  Without answering, he led her down the hall to one of the house’s three giant suites and stepped to one side.

  Holding her market-sized basket containing sewing materials, paints, and some unclothed dolls, she walked in, and her mouth dropped open. “Seriously? I get to stay in here?”

  “Yes, pet.” He and Max had worked their arses off Saturday and most of Sunday to clean and prepare the empty suite for her. It still held the light scent of paint.

  Pleased with her delight, Alastair looked around. As in the other master bedrooms, the bed was an extra-long, king-size—large enough for all of them. The white iron canopy bed had delicate scrollwork on the head and footboards and filmy gauze draperies.

  It also had ample anchor points in case they wanted to play.

  Having seen her duplex bedroom, he and Max had used her color scheme of whites, creams, and blues. Pale blue floral drapes coordinated with the upholstered blue chairs and cream-colored sofa. A blue Oriental rug softened the dark hardwood floor. It was obviously not a room for a man—although Max had insisted the furniture be both comfortable and sturdy. “After all, we’ll be in that room. Hopefully often.”

  His cousin was a smart man.

  As Uzuri wandered through the room, Alastair waited patiently. Max had left the orientation to him, pointing out Alastair would be less blunt. Indeed, any discussion about sex would require tact, considering their subbie’s shyness.

  She returned from her survey to stand in front of him. “This is a beautiful room. Thank you.”

  “You are quite welcome. Now, I want to speak with you.” Taking her around the waist, he sat down in a curvy wingback chair and tugged her onto his lap.

  It was bloody wonderful when she snuggled into him. “Okay, I’m ready.”

  “Being with two Doms is new to you and might feel awkward at first. What we want you to remember is that there is no ‘one true way’. If something doesn’t work, we need you to tell us. Honestly.”

eaking up would be difficult for her. She was too polite, too submissive. They’d have to watch her carefully and prompt her.

  Her brow was furrowed, but she nodded.

  He continued. “For sleeping arrangements, Max and I hope that you’ll alternate nights with us. Occasionally there might be a time when someone wants to be alone—this includes you, too, pet. In which case, the person simply says so.”

  “I can sleep alone if I want to?” Her voice was almost a whisper.

  “You can. But if you prefer to sleep alone often, that indicates something is wrong—and we’ll expect to discuss it.” He tipped her head up. “Goals or no goals, we wouldn’t have asked you to move in if we didn’t want to be with you, Uzuri.”

  She seemed to be scarcely breathing. “Really?”

  Ah, she could steal a Dom’s heart. “Really.” He nuzzled her ear and felt her shiver.

  She leaned into him, her hand sliding up his nape into his short hair.

  “Often, we’ll want to be with you at the same time.”

  She tensed. “I haven’t done that before.”

  Her records at the Shadowlands hadn’t shown any threesomes. Considering her limited sexual experience, he wasn’t surprised. “We’ll go slow, sweetheart.”

  Gently, he kissed her, trying to reassure her through touch. Considering her heartbreaking courage, he understood why Z had let her into the Shadowlands. Why the Master had wanted to watch over her as she moved past her trauma.

  Now Alastair and Max would take up that charge.

  “Let’s move on to the awkward subjects. Have you been with anyone besides me and Max since the quarterly blood test was done at the Shadowlands?”

  She shook her head.

  “Excellent. We haven’t, either. Actually, neither Max nor I have had a woman without using protection in years. Since we’re all clean and you’re living here, would you be comfortable going without protection? Are you on the pill?”

  “I’m on the pill.” She hesitated. “I’ve never… Um, yes?”

  Her willingness to try things despite her uncertainty was charming. “In that case, we’ll consider ourselves fluid bonded. Polyfidelitous, actually.”

  “Meaning no messing around with anyone but you or Max?”

  “Exactly. And the same applies to us.”

  “Sure.” She actually looked pleased, and wasn’t that lovely?

  “Good.” He rose and set her on her feet. “Go ahead and unpack. Then put on workout clothing—preferably nothing loose—and come downstairs. You know where our weight room is?”

  “Yes, but…workout clothing?” She stared at him with an almost horrified expression.

  “Yes.” Alastair gave her a smile and walked out, closing the door behind him.

  He stood outside the door until he heard her suitcase being opened. Good. She was moving forward, and he’d managed to put her off-balance without frightening her. Excellent beginning.

  * * * * *

  AT LEAST SHE’D packed “workout” clothing, although she’d had in mind a nice walk along the nearby Bayshore Boulevard, not a home gym. Wearing geometrically patterned Spandex capris and a black sports bra under a bright fuchsia racer tank top, Uzuri stepped inside the Dragos’ weight room. She looked around, wondering if the huge, high-ceilinged space had been a ballroom in the original house.

  The hardwood floor was sealed and polished to a high gleam. Across from the door, the creamy white wall displayed swords of all kinds, from thin and pointy to a massive one that looked like something carried in Braveheart. The right end of the room had mirrors on the walls and dark blue mats on the floor. She guessed it was the karate space.

  Max spotted her and walked over. His hair was carelessly yanked back into a stubby tail with a black elastic band. His black tank top was damp with sweat and clung to his wide, muscular chest. His biceps and pectorals were so pumped up that the skin was taut, and veins stood out on his thickly muscled forearms. Black shorts showed off heavily muscled legs.

  Her mouth went dry. No man should be allowed to be so sexy. There should be a law.

  He held his hand out. “Zuri. Let me give you the two cent tour.”

  She gave him her hand, feeling the careful strength as he closed his fingers around hers.

  He pointed toward the mat and mirror area. “Over there is where we’ll work on your self-defense skills. It’s also where Alastair and I fence when we’re in the mood.”

  The quiver that ran through her had nothing to do with fear. Imagine the most masculine guys she’d ever seen fighting each other. With swords.

  “I’d like to see that.” Forget calling the mat and mirror area the karate space—it’d be the erogenous zone.

  “Be a good girl, and we’ll give you fencing lessons, too.”

  “Thanks, but I’d rather watch.”

  On the other side of the room were racks of dumbbells and iron plates. In a white tank top and track pants, Alastair straddled a bench at a cable machine that looked as if it belonged to some medieval torturer.

  She didn’t want to get anywhere near that device. “I, uh, take it that I’ll be working out?”

  “Oh, baby, you have no idea.” Laughing, Max took her lips in a long slow kiss. He was hot from exercising, and his lips tasted of salt.

  “Before that happens”—Max tossed a mat on the floor and pointed to it—“I need to see what kind of shape you’re in. Do as many sit-ups as you can within a minute.”

  Sit-ups? Was he a crazy-pants? She stared at him. “I don’t think so. I’ll just walk on a treadmill.” With a good audiobook, she could do that for hours.

  She looked around. No treadmill.

  A clank drew her attention back to the cable machine where Alastair was pulling down on a bar to lift a huge stack of weights. The steely muscles in his back rippled and bunched in a way that kept her mesmerized.

  Her fingers curled with the need to touch.

  After easing the bar into place, Alastair turned. “Sweetheart, learning to fight isn’t helpful if you lack muscle to put behind the punch. Or if you get winded within a few feet.”

  “Exactly.” Max nodded. “Forget the treadmill. You’ll jog with me and Hunter.”

  Jogging? He really was certifiable. “Are you off your meds?”

  Oh, rude.

  Before she could apologize, Max grinned. “Not all three miles…at first. I’ll let you start slow.”

  “I thought you said you weren’t a sadist.”

  “No more than any other drill sergeant.” He pointed to the mat. “Sit.”

  As she sat on the mat, he added, “I’ll make you up a workout schedule. We expect you to put in the gym time, even if no one is here to watch you. Bear in mind, if you slack off, Alastair will spank your little round ass. And then fuck you.”

  Mouth open, she glanced at Alastair.

  The slow smile he gave her sent tremors through her center.

  “And me?” Max nailed her with his sharp blue eyes. “I’ll have you doing push-ups and squats until your muscles give out…and when you’re lying there unable to move, I’ll fuck you.”

  “But”—her entire core was going into a meltdown—“but I’ll be all sweaty then.”

  “Oh, yeah.” The heat in his eyes actually increased. “I’ll get to peel all those tight clothes right off of you—at least enough to get access to what I want.”

  Alastair chuckled. “You keep talking, and she won’t get the kind of workout we want her to have.”

  “I hate it when you’re right.” Max glanced at the clock on the wall. “Sit-ups, Zuri. Start…now.”

  After fifteen, her abdominal muscles were burning in a nasty way.

  When Alastair walked to a cupboard in the corner and opened the door, she tipped her head to see.

  Wow, the shelves held BDSM toys. “You keep that stuff in your workout room?”

  “Keep going,” Max growled. “And yes. This is a fun room to play in.”

  BDSM in a weight room? Well, it sure
had enough benches.

  Twenty sit-ups. Twenty-one. She got halfway up through the next, got stuck, and then flopped back ungracefully.

  “Not bad, but not good,” Max said. “We’ll plan on you adding another ten to that before two weeks.”

  Uh-uh. Not going to happen.

  Hearing a snick, she looked over her shoulder.

  Alastair had put a padlock on one of the two toy bags on the top shelf. He smiled at her, padlocked the other bag, and added the key to his key ring. “We heard you have a problem with staying out of toy bags.”

  She was so going to get in there. “A vile and foul rumor.”

  Max snorted. “There are a lot of rumors about you and your girl gang, darlin’. We saw what you did to Holt.”

  A giggle escaped her. Holt’s expression when he’d left the locker room had been awesome. Total score.

  “We’re not your Catholic schoolgirls, princess.” Max’s baritone lowered to an ominous growl. “Don’t get yourself in more trouble than you can handle. Stay out of our toy bags. Seriously.”

  A frisson of fear ran through her…and disappeared. He and Alastair were good Doms. She might get in trouble, but they’d never truly hurt her. She knew that. And the knowledge was simply amazing. And freeing.

  She rounded her eyes. “I would never do anything bad.”

  Behind her, she heard a huff of a laugh from Alastair.

  She couldn’t wait to mess with them.

  However, when Max frowned at her, she had second thoughts. What if he punished her with sit-ups?

  Chapter Eighteen

  THAT FRIDAY AFTER work, Uzuri had lined up her male dolls on the TV room’s coffee table. A long-time buyer for her customized dolls wanted a Khal Drogo from Game of Thrones.

  Wouldn’t that be fun? Uzuri grinned. She picked up an African-American Ken doll and studied it. Not the right coloring for Khal. Actually, this one looked more like Alastair. The doll even had light-colored brown eyes. She could add some green. Its hair needed to be shorter, too.

  Chortling, she got out her paints and tools.

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