Mischief and the Masters by Cherise Sinclair

  “Mmmhmm.” Sally snickered. “Can I watch when you tell Master Z he’s not…really…in charge of you.”

  Oh, Lord. Master Z considered all the submissives to be under his charge—especially the trainees—no matter how long ago they’d left the program. “You’re a brat, you know that?”

  Sally smirked. “So Galen and Vance keep telling me.” Her gaze returned to the scene. “Wow.”

  Max and Alastair had upped the intensity. A sliver of envy ran through Uzuri. What would it be like to be at the mercy of two very experienced, very careful Doms?

  Smiling slightly, Alastair splattered hot wax over the submissive’s breasts as his cousin teased her pussy. Alyssa climaxed—again.

  “God, they’re good.” Sally fanned herself. “So…back to my question. Did you ever apologize to Alastair?”

  “No. I stay out of his path.” Ever since that night, she’d avoided both him and his cousin, Max.

  Having arrived with glowing endorsements from a Seattle club, Max had been a Shadowlands member for a few months now. Whether co-topping with Alastair or alone, he’d proven to be a talented and powerful Dominant. No one was surprised when Master Z recommended him for the Master title. The club had voted last week. Uzuri had voted for him—no doubt most of the members had, too.

  Uzuri watched him deliberately teasing Alyssa. As with Alastair, if Max were an average size man, she’d have been interested.

  He wasn’t anywhere close to average.

  In fact, in black jeans, boots, heavy black leather belt, and a tight black T-shirt, Max was more intimidating than anyone else in the room. His biceps looked like boulders, and the way the cotton stretched over his muscular chest was scarily mesmerizing.

  He’d pulled his shoulder-length brown hair back in a leather tie, which emphasized his square jaw and high cheekbones. His eyes were an intense blue in his tanned face, his features strikingly chiseled. Like Holt and Alastair, he was model gorgeous. The difference between them was that Max’s expression tended toward the menacing…until he smiled.

  His smile could probably coax a nun into messing around behind the altar.

  “Well, I think you should woman up and apologize and then do a scene with both Doms. Hey, you survived wax on your pussy hair. Wax dripped on your breasts by the tall, dark, and deadly Drago Doms would make your whole month, right?” Sally shoulder-bumped her and headed back to her own Masters.

  Wax on her breasts? With Alastair standing over her? And Max?

  Arms around her waist, she watched Max drive Alyssa back to the edge of climax. Every time he eased off, his cousin would pour wax on the submissive’s breasts, each time from a lower height thus increasing the heat. One Dom handed out pain, the other pleasure. Covered in sweat, Alyssa was shaking and begging.

  What would it be like to look up into Alastair’s odd-colored hazel eyes and beg? To know that he held all the control. To be the center of all that attention, not only from him but also from his equally powerful cousin?

  As Uzuri actually dampened, she backed up a step and another…and bumped into someone. Firm hands gripped her arms, steadied her, and turned her.

  She looked up into the silver-gray eyes of Master Z, owner of the Shadowlands.

  “Easy, little one.” His smooth, low voice soothed her fears, calming her.

  “Excuse me, Sir,” she said.

  “There is nothing to excuse.” He gave her a faint smile, his hand still on her shoulder. “What do you think of the scene?”

  “The scene?” Heat still simmered inside her along with the desire to be the one they watched so closely and drove so crazy. But she also saw how they’d tower over her in a terrifying way. She averted her gaze. “Um. It’s interesting, and wax play is nice, but…um, three-ways aren’t my thing.”

  Master Z’s eyes narrowed, turning even more unreadable. “I see,” he said, his voice soft.

  He saw too much was all she could think. Her attempt to edge away was defeated by his hand on her shoulder. “I better get moving. My shift starts now.”

  “Of course.” He released her.

  Hurrying away, she glanced over her shoulder. He’d resumed watching the scene with a thoughtful expression.

  * * * * *

  WITH A NICELY sated submissive in his lap, Alastair Drago watched his cousin clean the bondage table and pack their toy bags.

  Finished, Max stretched. “I’m ready for a drink.”

  Alastair deliberated. The long day at the clinic had left him knackered, and he’d considered not coming to the Shadowlands. However, the concentration needed for this scene, even without having sex, had blown his stress away like a gust of fresh air. A drink would be the perfect finish. He looked down at the woman in his lap. “How about you, love?”

  “No, thank you, Sir. With your permission, I’ll join my friends.” Alyssa rose.

  As Alastair followed suit, he gave her an evaluating glance. Steady on her feet, color good, muscles relaxed. “All right.”

  Max, having made the same automatic appraisal, nodded his concurrence.

  Alyssa beamed at Max. “Thank you for the scene, Sir.” She turned to Alastair. “Thank you, Master Alastair.”

  “Our pleasure, love.” As she strolled away, Alastair shook his head. Beautiful woman, but not one he wanted in his life. If Z hadn’t requested they do a scene with her, it wouldn’t have happened.

  As always, Max had followed his thoughts. “Hopefully, we’ve done our duty and can pick our own subbie next time.”

  To be perverse, Alastair commented, “She was nicely submissive.”

  “Too fucking submissive. No fire. No sense of humor.” Max tilted his head. “An OCD, rules-driven Master would be delighted with her. Not me.”

  Max was a police detective, but the Dom didn’t want unthinking obedience. Alastair pulled on his suit jacket, pocketed his tie, and picked up his toy bag. “I believe you’re right.”

  “Anyway, I choose the next submissive,” Max decreed.

  “It’s your turn,” Alastair said amiably. He’d enjoyed the scene with Alyssa more than Max had. As Dominants and cousins, he and Max enjoyed topping together, but their styles didn’t match completely. Finding someone whose personality melded well with theirs had proven tricky.

  In their last year at university, they’d lived with and shared a submissive. Alastair had not found any relationship as fulfilling since. When Max’d joined the Shadowlands, they’d returned to co-topping, but hadn’t discussed anything more serious. Perhaps the time had come.

  Max stopped to talk with a friend, then Alastair was halted as well. This late in the evening, many members remained simply to socialize. Several newer Doms had questions about the bondage demonstration he and Max’d done the previous week.

  When they finally reached the bar, Cullen, who was tending bar, brought a bottle of Fat Tire ale for Max and a Tanqueray and tonic for Alastair. The Dom never forgot a member’s favorite drink. Cullen grinned at Alastair. “Gotta say it was a pleasure listening to Alyssa moaning and screaming.”

  “Indeed.” Z was seated on a nearby barstool. “Thank you for topping her. You did well.”

  “Good to hear. However”—Max set his jaw and made their position clear—“we’re not interested in more scenes with her. We’re not looking for permanent relationships for that matter.”

  Alastair stiffened. That had been true in his youth. However, he would now be pleased to find a woman for more than an evening’s recreation. It was time.

  Yes, he and Max needed to discuss their goals…soon.

  Z tilted his head. “I agree that Alyssa isn’t a good choice for either of you.”

  “Then why did you ask us to top her?” Alastair asked.

  “With her desperation to be dominated, she was latching onto anyone with no thought whatsoever. Being topped by disinterested Doms like you gives her a chance to regain her equilibrium. Once she’s able to make reasoned decisions, I’ll introduce her to appropriate choices.”

nbsp; “You know, Z, you’re a sneaky bastard.” Max voiced what Alastair was thinking.

  “Sneaky, perhaps; however, my mother insists she was wedded before I came along.” Z’s lips quirked.

  “I’d dare anyone to suggest otherwise.” Cullen slid a beer down the bar to a waiting Dom. “Madeline Grayson could give Mistress Anne lessons in intimidation.”

  “She would be pleased you think so.” Z stood and rested a hand on Max’s shoulder. “Since you’re here, I have an announcement to make.”

  Knowing what was coming, Alastair grinned.

  “If I might have your attention.” Z’s raised voice reached those in the bar area without ranging far enough to disturb the scene areas. “Last week, the members voted on a proposed new Master, and the tally was overwhelmingly in favor. Please congratulate Maximillian, our newest Master of the Shadowlands.”

  “What the fuck…” Max straightened in shock.

  Cullen’s laugh boomed out. “Congratulations, Max-i-millian.” He drew out the name, thickening his faint Irish accent.

  “Jesus.” Max growled loud enough for everyone to hear. “It’s Max. The next person, Dom or sub, who calls me Maximillian, will get ass-whipped.”

  Laughter broke out around the bar as a chorus of congratulations rose. Drinks lifted in toasts.

  Alastair slapped his cousin’s arm in congratulation before giving way to the well-wishers. There would be a lot. Despite the cop’s sternness, he was well liked.

  Waiting patiently, Alastair enjoyed his drink and studied the unattached women in the submissive’s sitting area. Two of them were quite fit, but barely twenty-one. In his mid-thirties, he preferred to play with women twenty-five and over. There were two male subs—not his interest—and a masochistic bottom who needed more pain than he was willing to provide.

  One pleasingly curvy brunette was unfortunately all take and no give.

  The blonde at the far end wanted only non-painful, sensuous play. Alastair wasn’t a sadist, but he enjoyed dealing out erotic pain, which was why he’d had fun with Alyssa. He’d driven her right to the edge. Watching her take it, pushing her, seeing her respond had given him back fully as much as she’d taken. The scene had wiped out any thought beyond what was happening right then and there.

  It had been a bloody bad day. His jaw tightened. His last patient appointment had been an eight-year-old girl with wide brown eyes, a chuckling laugh—and leukemia. Acute lymphocytic leukemia, dammit. The tests had confirmed his suspicions. Her mother, a woman with no husband to help, had cried.

  Being a pediatrician could fray a man’s soul.

  “You falling asleep there, cuz?” Max’s rough voice broke into his thoughts.

  Alastair saw the crowd had dispersed.

  When Max stepped closer, Alastair could see concern in the sharp blue eyes.


  “Hey, Sirs.” The submissive who stopped in front of them was a symphony of color and life, from her bountiful flesh, to the flower and vine tattoos, to her dancing eyes and streaked hair.

  Alastair smiled down at her. “Rainie, how are you this evening?”

  “Very well, thank you, Sir.” She smiled and held out a stack of pictures. “An animal shelter in Citrus Park went belly-up from lack of funding, and the vet clinics in the area are trying to get the animals adopted. Why don’t you look these over, and I’ll be back to see which one you want.”

  Smoothly, she slid several photos into Max’s hand and moved away before they could protest. Max stared after her and chuckled. “That one’s got spirit to spare. Why couldn’t she be unattached?”

  “Because her Dom is a veterinarian, and she gets to play with puppies all day.” Alastair frowned at the pictures. “Do we want a pet?”

  His cousin’s easy laugh was a pleasure to hear. For the first months after Max’s move from Seattle, his laugh had been rare, his mood negative. He was finally back to his normal gregarious self.

  Max flipped through the pictures. “A cat might be nice, but…” His voice trailed off.


  Max held up a photo of a medium-sized, shorthaired dog with floppy ears. Brown covered its head, shoulders, and flanks. Everywhere else was speckled. A German shorthaired pointer.

  The pang of loss hurt Alastair’s heart. “Looks like old Jeeves, doesn’t he?”

  “Yeah.” Max stared for a second before reading the description. “Two years old. Owner was in his eighties and died.”

  “A dog would require more time than a cat,” Alastair pointed out.


  Twenty years ago, the ranch dog, Jeeves, had slept in Max and Alastair’s bedroom and accompanied the boys everywhere. In the cold Colorado lakes, the dog had been the first to jump into the water and the last to come out. He’d led the way on trail hikes into the Rockies, protecting the two lads he’d considered his charges. Each fall, when Alastair had returned to his mother in London, he’d missed Jeeves almost as much as Max.

  Heart hurting, Alastair stared at the forlorn eyes in the photo.

  “Between us, we could give him enough exercise,” Max said.

  Most people seeing Max’s grim features thought he was the sadist and Alastair the soft touch. Wasn’t it odd how appearances could deceive? “This dog isn’t Jeeves, Max.”

  “I know. But…you want to leave him in jail?”

  Bloody softies, they were. “Of course not. Let’s see what we need to do to free him and take him home.” Alastair looked for Rainie.

  She was talking to Uzuri, a curvy, petite, mixed race submissive whom he’d scened with a year ago when home from the South Sudan. In the scene, she’d panicked repeatedly, and he’d realized she had underlying issues. The challenge of helping her with them interested him, but she’d turned him down.

  He’d asked her if she preferred white men, before recalling she’d initiated their first scene. In turn, she’d loudly accused him of liking her solely for her color. Quite insulting. Although he did generally select submissives of color for one-time scenes, for long-term relationships, he chose by personality, attractiveness, compassion, intelligence, and honesty. He dated all colors and ethnicities.

  However, Uzuri had known he was interested in helping her for her own sake. Her behavior when turning him down was much like a cornered child. Nevertheless, she was an adult. Rather than apologizing, she avoided him like the plague.

  In the beginning, she’d intrigued him. Everyone had problems; that hadn’t been his concern. But, since she apparently had no intention of working through her issues, he’d written her off.

  Max followed his gaze. “Cute outfit. Uzuri, right?”

  “Correct.” He remembered Max had met her at Nolan and Beth’s party last September. “She’s the type of woman you like.” Dark, curvy, petite, fun. “No interest?”

  “As you Brits would say, she’s not my cup of tea. I’m guessing she’s high maintenance, and I realized at the party she comes with a heavy load of baggage.” His lips twisted cynically. “Been there, done that.”

  Max’s marriage was long past. This bitterness had to be from something recent. Alastair frowned. “Are you going to tell me what happened in Seattle?”

  “Yeah, I suppose. Maybe after some alcohol. Make that a lot of alcohol.”

  Interesting. “All right, then.” He’d pick up a six-pack of his cousin’s favorite Colorado brew. “Next weekend.”

  “Stubborn Brit,” Max muttered and frowned.

  Alastair followed his gaze to the submissive area where Rainie was trying her best to get Uzuri to take a dog or cat.

  UZURI FELT CORNERED. When volunteering at the vet clinic, she’d seen Rainie in action. Although her BFF was the sweetest person in the world, when trying to place an animal, she turned into a bulldozer and would flatten any resistance.

  “How about this one?” Rainie handed over a picture. “She’s a sweet terrier mix.”

  Uzuri shook her head. Never, ever would she put another animal in harm??
?s way. Ever. Jarvis was out of prison. Sure, he worked in Cincinnati and hopefully had forgotten her, but she couldn’t take that chance. If he came here for revenge, he would target pets, too.

  Her throat closed. In Cincinnati, she’d come home, but her happy, yipping, adorable dachshund hadn’t greeted her at the door. She’d finally found little Hugo trembling behind her couch. Brown fur matted with blood, he’d cowered away from her. He’d whimpered when she touched his ribs.

  Rainie’s voice grew more coaxing. “C’mon, girlfriend, you have a nice little backyard and…”

  Hugo had loved her backyard in Cincinnati. As if going into battle, he’d charge out the door, ears flying, tail high. Jarvis had liked Hugo. He’d said so. Although he’d threatened her, she hadn’t believed he’d hurt a lovable, little dog.

  He had.

  Fighting guilt, she swallowed painfully. Hugo had recovered…although his innocent trust in humans had been destroyed. Her cousin in Minnesota had been delighted to take him, love him, and pamper him. Hugo was safe.

  And Uzuri had cried herself to sleep every night for months. Eventually, she’d stopped listening for little paws, stopped expecting to be greeted at the door, stopped saving a bite of meat from her meals. But her heart still hurt.

  Rainie held up a picture of a big-eyed poodle. “How about this—”

  “No.” As Uzuri fought against tears, her voice rose. “I won’t take a dog or cat.” When Rainie opened her mouth to argue, Uzuri couldn’t bear it. “I don’t like animals. At all.”

  “But you—”

  “No. I hate pets. I hate dogs. They shed and lick and…and ruin my clothes.” She shoved the pictures into Rainie’s hands.

  When Rainie took a step back, her shocked expression was like a slap in the face.

  Uzuri held her hand out and whispered, “I-I’m sorry.” Her voice broke; her throat closed. Chest hurting, she looked away.

  At the bar, Alastair was watching. His cousin stood beside him, his blue eyes sharp.

  Max’s glance at Alastair was cynical and easy to read—he hadn’t expected anything different from her. It was insulting. Hurtful.

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