Copyright 2012, Jenna Jaxon
All rights reserved, Lyrical Press, Inc.
“Who are you, sir?” Katrina asked.
“Your master, slave.”
Harsh words cloaked in a voice of deep velvet. A shiver of dread raced down Katarina’s body, as much from the words as from his tone. “I am nobody’s slave,” she replied, trembling. “There has been a dreadful mistake.”
“I think not, my lovely. I paid a small fortune for your ownership this evening. Make no mistake.” He continued to stroke her hair and she twisted her head to the side. His mouth below the half mask twitched into an insolent smile. “I am pleased that you possess courage as well as beauty.” His fingers touched her cheek. “The mask hid the slave’s wealth well.”
She jerked away. “You may have paid for a slave, sir, but what you find in this room is a lady in distress. Will you prove a gentleman or a rogue?”
“A lady in distress?” He laughed and straightened. “How did a lady come to find herself on display at an auction, scandalously clad in a transparent Greek costume, in Madame Vestry’s House of Pleasure?”
“House of Pleasure?” she squeaked.
“Where else would such a thing occur?” The man’s amusement deepened.“And there will certainly be pleasure here tonight, slave.”
He ran a hand slowly down her arm, fingers trailing silkily against her bare flesh. Mouth agape at such a liberty, she slapped the hand away and ran for the door. With a long arm, he snared the diaphanous folds of her gown. The material strained against her body. Kat froze lest it rip, exposing her completely. Cursing her own folly for choosing such a costume, she swung around to face her captor.
“Please release me, sir,” she demanded, trying to keep her temper in check. She needed to woo this man to her cause. And though it galled her, she could only do so with soft words, not blows. Perhaps the blows could come later. “I beg you to aid me in my hour of need.” She put every ounce of charm into her smile; she could cajole him, as long as he couldn’t read her mind.
“Ah, but I have needs too, slave.” His hands were in her hair again, as though he could not help himself.
Well aware from his husky tone what needs the man likely had, Kat winced. If only she could see all of his face. It was so difficult to judge the man under that golden mask. She forced herself to relax, though the thought of his hands on her raised gooseflesh everywhere. It was only her hair, after all. No great sin. Perhaps if she softened her demeanor, she could convince him of her plight. She could offer honeyed tones for a little while.
“Will you hear my story of how a lady ended up in this House of Pleasure, sir?” Even to her own ears, her innocent tone sounded false. How would it sound to--
Releasing her hair, the stranger grabbed her hand. “We both know how you will end up, my slave. Come.” He pulled her toward the four-poster and she dug her toes into the rough, worn carpeting. Honey be damned! She had no intention of going anywhere near that bed.
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