Mischief and the Masters by Cherise Sinclair

  “Uzuri.” Anne’s voice took on the authority that made her a Domme. “What’s happened to spook you?”

  “It’s Holt. He was staying in my duplex, and someone attacked him—with two knives—and that’s how Jarvis fights.” Uzuri swallowed against the throat-clogging guilt. “Jarvis might have thought Holt and I were together. In Cincinnati, he attacked every man I dated.”

  My fault. All my fault.

  “Knives? Fuck. Is Holt going to be all right?”

  “He had surgery and is in recovery and then goes to ICU.”

  “Got it.” Anne growled something under her breath. “I’m not liking the feel of this. First, I’m going to see if Kassab really is at work. Or not. It’ll take me a while, though. Are you somewhere safe? Please tell me you’re with the Dragos and not at the hospital.”

  “I’m safe, thank you. Can you…t-tell the others about Holt. So he has people there?”

  “I will. And I’ll check on Kassab. I’ll get right back to you.”

  Ten minutes later, Uzuri had her answers.

  Jarvis had called in sick yesterday and today. He was here. In Tampa. Her hands closed into fists. How long had he been coming to Tampa? What about those times she’d felt she was being watched and called herself paranoid? Had he been stalking her for months?

  Her stomach knotted, and bile rose into her throat.

  What about those petty, nasty incidents she’d attributed to teens? The garbage on her doorstep, the dead mouse… She stiffened. Could he have been the one to run her down in the parking lot? Before his conviction, he’d been a trucker and skilled with vehicles. He’d have liked damaging her.

  And he wouldn’t want her to die quickly.

  He’d screamed that at her in the courtroom as he was being dragged away. “I’ll cut you to pieces. Watch you die, bitch. Die slowly.”

  He’d tried to cut Holt to pieces. Her hands shook as she clasped them in front of her on the desk. He must never, ever find out about Max and Alastair.

  That’s why she’d left her car in the duplex driveway beside Holt’s Harley. At first, she’d thought to stay in the duplex and let Jarvis come after her, but that was stupid and would let him win. So she’d left in a taxi, making sure she wasn’t followed before coming to the store.

  Now…now she needed to figure out how to help the police catch him. Before he hurt someone else.

  I’m so sorry, Holt. She closed her eyes as she thought of the different pain she’d brought to her two Masters. How they must hate her now. “You’re better without me.”

  How funny. She’d thought she’d packed everything, but somehow, her heart was still there.

  * * * * *

  SEATED IN THE breakfast nook that afternoon, Alastair read over the note they’d found as if reading it again and again would help. His heart ached for all of them.

  Dear Alastair and Max,

  Alastair almost smiled. Trust Uzuri to conform to the etiquette of a note.

  I’m sorry for leaving you so abruptly and without speaking with you first. Several words were crossed out. I think Jarvis is in town. Holt was attacked at the duplex and is in the hospital. If Jarvis finds out that I’m with you, you both will be in terrible danger.

  I’ve moved out and you won’t see me again. This is best for everyone.

  Please…please be careful. More words were scribbled out.

  With love,


  Tucking his phone into his pocket, Max walked into the room with Hunter at his heels. “Cullen called the fire station and got an update. Holt’s doing well. Unfortunately, he isn’t coherent enough to tell anyone what happened. He’ll spend the night in the ICU, so he’ll be safe enough.”

  “That’s good.” Alastair shook his head. “What about Uzuri?”

  Max’s mouth tightened, the pain almost radiating from him. The little submissive had inflicted a hard blow to the cop’s soft heart.

  Alastair knew exactly how much he was hurting.

  Bloody hell. In her attempt to save them, Uzuri had dealt out a whole different kind of pain. “Any other news?”

  Max nodded. “Yeah. Dan checked with the detectives on the case. The neighborhood kids saw the attacker. Description fits Kassab. Sliced Holt to pieces, left a knife in Holt’s gut, and another one on the floor.”

  Alastair felt the wrongness. As a firefighter, Holt faced danger, but to be attacked in his own home? “I assume they didn’t catch him?”

  “No.” Max shook his head. “One other thing. Uzuri’s car is now parked in the driveway. She’s not there; her car is.”

  “Why leave her vehicle there?”

  Max rose and paced across the room. “Because…” He paced back. “Dammit. She’s hoping the vindictive bastard will think she still lives there.”

  Alastair felt the same fury. And fear. She was out there alone rather than here under their protection. That wasn’t to be tolerated. Silently, Alastair watched his cousin.

  After stalking around the room two more times, Max dropped into a chair, anger gone. Alastair appreciated the trait. Max’s temper, once roused, could remove a person’s hide, but he forgave as readily as he yelled. After a second, Max bent and ruffled Hunter’s ears. “Got any ideas?”

  “I do.” Alastair tapped the phone on the table. “Galen boasts he can find anyone. It appears to be true. Uzuri is at Brendall’s.”

  “Is she now,” Max breathed. “So, cuz, are we going to let our little subbie get away with this kind of behavior?”

  “No.” Alastair smiled slowly, pleased they were of the same mind. “No, we are not.”

  Chapter Twenty-Eight

  UZURI COULD HEAR the first few people leaving for home. The department tended to clear out early on Fridays. At her desk, she stared down at the notepad filled with ideas. None of them looked logical or smart or anything a cop would take seriously.

  She needed to call the police now and talk with them—although Anne had said she’d let Dan know.

  What now? Rubbing her forehead, she sighed. She felt so tired that she might slide right into a heap on the floor.

  Leaning her head against the high chair back, she closed her eyes. Would the police listen to her if she asked them to let her help catch Jarvis?

  “Excuse me. I need to announce you.” Outside the door, the administrative assistant sounded annoyed as well as amused. “If you’ll wait…” The sentence cut off.

  At the sound of her door opening, Uzuri opened her eyes. And jerked upright.

  Max was closing the office door. Alastair stood beside him, frowning at her.

  Uzuri put her hand to her throat. “What are you…”

  As if choreographed, they strode across her office. One on each side, they rounded her desk, blockading any escape. In a button-down, aquamarine shirt and stone-colored pants, Alastair set a hip on her desktop, making himself comfortable. Max crossed his arms over his black T-shirt-covered chest and leaned his butt against her desk.

  They stared down at her like alley cats cornering a mouse.

  She hated that she had to clear her throat before she could speak. “What are you doing here? I thought we’d decided we were…um…finished. Not together.”

  “I don’t believe we had reached a consensus on that,” Alastair said quietly.

  “Imagine our surprise to read that your buddy Kassab is in town.” Max’s voice was flat. Cop voice. The one that said she’d was in oh, so much trouble.

  She tried to push her chair back, but one of the jerks had put a foot behind the wheel. She pulled in a breath. All right. They were angry. She got it. Nonetheless, they needed to understand their danger. “Now that you know about Jarvis, you know you have to stay away from me. He’s targeting anyone—any guy—I might be interested in. He’s done it before, but never…” She swallowed, remembering the firefighter’s expression when he’d described Holt’s injuries. “Jarvis has never been so violent before.”

  “Only with you,” Max snapped.

But I never lived with anyone before.” She set her left hand on Alastair’s thigh and her right on Max’s. “He doesn’t know about you two. If you stay away from me, you should be fine.”

  Max curled his hand around hers, his grip unbreakable, as his blue eyes bored into hers. “Do you honestly figure we’re worried about being fine?” He said the word as if it were the worst of insults.

  The pit of her stomach dropped. What had she been thinking? Jarvis’s violence had driven her Cincinnati friends away, but they hadn’t been Doms, let alone overprotective-to-an-insane-degree Shadowlands Masters.

  “You tried to protect us. That’s heartwarming, love.” Alastair laid his big hand on hers. “However, I think, instead, we should try to ensure your safety. That is our job, after all.”

  She couldn’t speak as the utter loneliness, the emptiness inside her began to fill with their presence. The feeling that swept through her was indescribable, one she’d never felt before—the realization that she didn’t have to carry the entire load herself, make all the decisions, be afraid all the time. Tears filled her eyes.

  “No, don’t you start that shit,” Max growled, worry crossing his features.

  “What kind of tough cop can’t deal with a crying woman?” Laughing shakily, she wiped her eyes. “Better?”

  “Fuck, yes.” He bent forward and planted a hard kiss on her lips. “Workday’s over, baby. We’re taking you home now.”

  “B-but…” Uzuri set her mouth. “No. You need to stay away from me.”

  “She told us no?” Max gave his cousin an incredulous look. “Our subbie said no?”

  “The soundproofing appears to be adequate.” Amusement didn’t hide the iron underlying Alastair’s deep voice. “If I spank her, the secretary won’t hear. Perhaps.”

  Outrage welled inside her. “Spank me. Here? You wouldn’t dare.”

  A slow smile curved Alastair’s lips. He glanced at Max.

  As she started to rise, Max yanked her, face down, over her own desk and pulled her dress up over her ass.

  “I quite like her undergarments.” Alastair ran a finger along the edge of her lacy apricot-colored thong before his hand stuck her mostly bare bottom.

  Slap. The sound echoed off the wall a second before she felt the sting.

  Her yelp of pain was muffled by Max’s callused hand. Her instinctive attempt to bite netted her a painful squeeze on her cheeks.

  “That swat was for saying no to us.” Alastair sounded as if he were listing off grocery items: bread, flour, sugar. “She lied to us at the car. Three more.”

  Her swearwords came out muffled. “Mmmmph, mmmph, mmmph.”

  “Glad I don’t know what she’s calling us,” Max commented.

  Slap, slap, slap.

  The spanking hurt. Alastair wasn’t going easy on her at all. His anger had been obvious beneath his resonant tone.

  She’d hurt them both.

  “Gonna yell any more?” Max asked.

  She shook her head. When his hand was gone, she whispered, “I’m sorry.”

  “Are you?” Max didn’t sound as if he believed her.

  “I want you safe. The thought of losing you… I didn’t mean to hurt you. I’d never…” She choked as sobs rose in her throat.

  “Ah. There we go.” Alastair helped her up and into his arms. Breathing in the fragrance of his sun-scented aftershave and cuddling against his hard chest was like coming home.

  She felt Max tugging her skirt down.

  A minute later, Alastair kissed the top of her head and turned her. Max was sitting on her desk. Without a word, he pulled her between his legs and wrapped his arms around her. Another wide, firm chest and his embrace was equally hard. Almost punishing.

  “You scared the fuck out of me. Don’t do that again,” he growled in her ear.

  Don’t do that. “Max, it’s not safe. Really.” Fear for them swept through her again. She turned her head. Surely, Alastair would be reasonable. “It’s better if I stay away from you.”

  “Love, that’s not going to happen. We’re staying close to you.” Slow, British-accented words. And he was being totally unreasonable.

  “Doesn’t matter if you don’t agree. You stay with us.” Max’s voice held an inflexible iron undertone. “Got it?”

  Oh, she loved them so much. She blinked hard.

  With a huff, Max kissed the tip of her nose. “You cry and I’ll beat on you.”

  “Such a threat.” Such a fake. She squeezed him hard. “Now what?”

  “We’ll go home and make arrangements.” Alastair glanced around the office. “Is there anything you need?”

  “No. My suitcase is downstairs in the security office.” As they crossed the office, she stopped at the mirror on the back of the door to swipe away the smudges beneath her eyes and put her hair in place.

  Max grinned. “Our high maintenance woman. Nothing messes you up.”

  At one time, his words would have hurt. At one time, he’d have said the words with a different attitude. Now, his tenderness and…appreciation…came across clearly.

  She sniffed at him. “Scruffy cop. I’m going to start buying your clothes for you.”

  Score. Now his gaze held true worry.

  Pleased, she walked through the door that Alastair held open and stopped.

  Most of the buyers’ section was packed into the reception room. All women. Apparently Mrs. Everson had mentioned Uzuri’s gorgeous visitors.

  Silence fell over the room as the Dragon Doms followed Uzuri out. Two entirely different types of males, both supreme eye-candy. Uzuri could have sworn every woman in the room ovulated.

  Mrs. Everson smiled at her. “I hope it was all right not to call security. These gentlemen said they were…yours?”

  “Both of them?” one woman whispered in a hoarse voice.

  “That would be correct. Please log her out for the day.” Alastair put his hand on Uzuri’s lower back to move her forward.

  Max frowned at his cousin. “I thought she was ours.”

  “It’s the same thing, I believe.” Alastair’s lips twitched.

  “All right then.” Max ran a slow finger down Uzuri’s cheek, his eyes crinkled with a smile—and several sighs wafted around the room. “Guess that works.”

  * * * * *

  ON THE WAY back to the house, Max drove, keeping a close eye out for any vehicles that might be following them. If Kassab had gone crazy enough to attack Holt, God only knew what he’d try next.

  In the back seat with Uzuri, the doc was fielding phone calls.

  “Yes, she’s safe. She’s fine. She’s with us.” Being a smart guy, Alastair resorted to texting whenever possible.

  “Who…?” Uzuri asked.

  “Jesus, everyone.” Max glanced at her confused expression in the rearview mirror before returning his attention to the road.

  Alastair explained, “People want to know what they can do to help, whether it’s to give you a place to stay, to serve on guard duty, or to set a trap.”

  “For me?” The stunned note in her voice could break a man’s heart. Didn’t she know how much she was loved? “But—you said, set a trap?”

  Alastair said, “We’re trying to think of how to do that without risking your safety. Kassab needs to be caught.”

  “Oh, yes,” she said. “That’s what I was thinking, too. I can be bait if the police will help me figure out how.”

  Max felt his teeth grind together. “Only if we can do it in a way where you’ll be completely safe.”

  “Only if,” Alastair agreed.

  Without slowing, Max pulled into the garage, barely leaving room enough for the door to clear the car’s roof. “Keep her here,” he told Alastair as he slid out of the car. Hand on his weapon, he checked the garage, then stepped inside the house and turned off the alarm system. The readout showed no one had entered since they’d left.

  Everything secure, he went outside. Hunter abandoned his doghouse in the backyard and ran over. “C’mon, buddy.
See who’s home.”

  After Hunter had given Zuri a you’ve-been-gone-for-years greeting, which she enthusiastically returned, Max led her toward the stairs.

  Her feet dragged. “I want to go to the hospital to see Holt.”

  “He’ll be in ICU all night. You can’t see him.” He glanced down at her, smiling as the light from the windows glowed on her face. Smooth skin. Big, worried, velvety eyes.

  He and Alastair needed to wear her out now so she could get a good night’s rest. Really, fucking her into exhaustion was what a kind-hearted Dom would do.

  Alastair chuckled. “Let’s go to your room, Max.”

  They were definitely on the same page. “Oh, yeah.” He turned away from the stairs and headed toward his rooms at the back of the house.

  He felt Uzuri’s little hand tense. “Why Max’s room? Why not mine?”

  Max tilted his head down to whisper in her ear. “You’ll see.”

  They usually spent nights in the little subbie’s room. After all, females liked having their girly shit close and having their own bathroom. She had a thing about satin pillowcases, too.

  Twice he’d taken her to his room to play, but he’d never shown her everything. He gave her hand to Alastair and headed across the room.

  “Strip completely,” Alastair told her.


  Argument? Max turned in time to see her eyes lower, to see her lovely surrender. She started to unbutton her blouse.

  The situation with her stalker was a mess, yet contentment hummed in Max’s veins.

  Zuri was back with them.

  Smiling, he slid open the glass door to let in the fresh, moisture-laden air. The wind was beginning to pick up, the harbinger of the incoming tropical storm due tomorrow.

  * * * * *

  AN HOUR LATER, Uzuri lay on the blue and brown flannel bedspread, sweat cooling on her body, and utterly limp after another orgasm. How many had that been?

  Propped up on an elbow, Alastair lay beside her, stroking her gently. The tenderness he showed now was a startling contrast from how he’d hurt her only minutes before. How did he know so surely which painful sensations would drive her pleasure higher and higher?

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