Includes IRRESISTIBLE – A RETELLING OF LEDA AND THE SWAN by Nia Farrell
Anthology Release Date September 13, 2019
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IRRESISTIBLE – A RETELLING OF LEDA AND THE SWAN
by Nia Farrell
Length 17,522 words
Nia Farrell puts a fresh twist on an ancient legend in this erotic telling of Leda and the Swan. After years of barrenness, Leda, the Queen of Sparta, is visited by Zeus in the form of a swan. The god of the heavens promises to fulfill her heart’s desires if she will yield herself to him. Desperate to give her husband an heir, Leda agrees.
A month later, Leda is sick to the point of miscarrying. Divine intervention saves her, but she dreads the day that her husband King Tyndareus learns the truth. She’s actually pregnant with two sets of twins, one fathered by him and one by Zeus.
A divine swan. A god come down from the sky. Quadruplets who were born in eggs.
There are truths to be found in myth and legend if you open your mind to the possibilities.
Sizzling erotic sci-fi romance, written for Ages 18+.
The wounded swan landed on the bank with a thud to lie still and unmoving. Tears stung Leda’s eyes to see such a beautiful thing laid low. Injured, it was easy prey for hunters, animal or human. If it wasn’t already dead, the bird was doomed unless she could find a way to help it.
The swan’s head lifted and dropped. Relieved to see it, she released the breath that she’d been holding. It folded its wings against its body, adopting a protective pose. The blood on its back was plainly visible, but from this distance, she could not tell how deep its wounds went or what damage had been done.
She needed to be wise, though. This was a wild creature. The largest swan that she had ever seen was newly injured and in pain. If her intent to help was perceived as a threat, she could end up being hurt as well.
She started praying, silently chanting a hymn to Asclepius, petitioning the god of healing to guide her willing hands. When she walked out of the water, the swan turned its head and watched her approach with the same wariness that she was feeling.
“There, there,” she crooned, blanching when she saw how long the gashes looked. It’s a miracle that the bird wasn’t bleeding more. “Poor thing. I don’t know what I can do for you. We can try to find a place where you can stay until you’re strong enough to fly, but you’ll need to let me help you. Will you do that?”
To make herself less intimidating, Leda folded her legs and crawled to a spot that was well in sight but out of reach. Easing down to sit, she hummed and talked and crooned to the bird, doing everything in her power to show that she meant it no harm.
She wished that her harpist was here. Music could be profoundly soothing, instilling a sense of peace and promoting tranquility. Inspired, she started singing. Hymns to the gods and goddesses. Popular ballads. Children’s lullabies.
Miraculously, the swan began to move, drawn by the music. It inched closer … and closer yet, until its chest was by her upturned toes. Hoping to get a good look at its wounds, she slowly, carefully parted her legs. Before she had a chance to lean closer, the swan worked its way higher.
It didn’t stop until its breast was pressed against her chest and its head was on her shoulder with its bill buried in her hair.
She held herself perfectly still, wondering at what her efforts had wrought. The creature seemed unafraid. More than that, it seemed to take comfort from her presence, seeking shelter and finding it. The bird nestled itself against her body, initiating contact.
Tentatively lifting her hand, she petted its long, elegant neck.
The swan sighed.
Confused by what she’d thought that she heard, Leda froze.
If she had any doubts, the swan sighed again.
It pushed against her, digging in with its feet to force her back until she was flat on the ground with its full weight on her body.
She swore that she heard it groan.
Panic gripped her heart and clawed at her chest, sharp as an eagle’s talons.
The words echoed in her mind. She lay, unmoving, aware that she was part of some great mystery that had yet to be revealed, may the gods protect her from harm.
We will. I swear it.
More words, heard as clearly as if they had fallen from human lips.
The meaning was clear enough. She was in the presence of the divine—or so he wanted her to believe.
The swan stretched over her. Its weight pressed down on her, increasingly so. Its body lengthened. Its neck grew shorter. Feathers disappeared, replaced by warm skin and magnificently sculpted, decidedly masculine muscles. He kept his head to the side, denying her the sight of his face. A pair of perfectly chiseled lips skimmed her throat, sending a bolt of sexual energy like lightning to her core.
“Close your eyes to be safe,” he rasped against her ear, his voice thick with arousal. Flexing his hips, he let her feel the strength of his desire. “Know that your prayers have been heard. I am here to answer them.”
But who was he? What was he—this man with wings who had fallen from the sky?
“No man,” he answered, reading her mind. “But you know that, don’t you? I have told you what I am. Heaven-sent and wounded in your service. Even gods bleed, Queen of Sparta. Kiss away my hurt and I shall grant your heart’s desire.”
He was a god.
A deity come from Olympus in answer to her prayers. If she kissed away his hurt, her dearest wishes would be granted. Of late, she had asked for only two things—for her husband to return safely and for the gods to bless them with children.
Could she do this? Submit to a god to secure her husband’s throne?
After years of barrenness, she felt that she had no choice. Praying that Tyndareus would understand, she closed her eyes and submitted to the will of the gods.
He spread her legs and parted her folds with his crown. Surging upward, he wedged his length inside her like a forester’s maul, threatening to split her asunder with his girth.
Tears stung her eyes to feel him where no man save her husband had gone.
“Fear not, Queen of Sparta,” he crooned in her ear. “The mightiest of men must bow to the will of the gods.” Pulling back, he thrust again, driving deep enough to make her wince. “My priests will see that your husband does as well.”
Hips churning, he gathered speed until he was pounding into her, his rhythm as fierce as a war drum. “You are blessed among mortal women,” he swore. “My chosen vessel. I shall anoint thy womb and make it fruitful. Kiss me, mother of princes, and your husband shall have his heir.”
No matter what walk of life you are from, we are all perfectly imperfect beings of ourselves. We don’t need to be someone else’s image, we only need to be who we are.
Remember, you are the only person who can disappoint yourself. Others will try, but having the will and the want to stop the bullying where it starts is how you can beat a bully or end the violence.
The best way to stop violence and bullying is to think smarter and act brighter.
Proceeds from this anthology will go to National Domestic Violence Hotline.
Stand Your Ground includes
Independence Day by Nia Farrell and Damage Control by Ree L. Diehl.
by Nia Farrell
(historical novella that addresses domestic violence)
Length 23,077 words.
Fearing for her life, Becca West escaped her abusive husband and has been living under an assumed name. When the new sheriff comes to town, he knows that she’s not really Molly Malone. Truly widowed, Becca vows to never again be at a man’s mercy. Sheriff Donovan insists that marrying him is her best—possibly her only—chance of keeping custody of her boy when Billy’s rich, ruthless grandfather discovers where they are. What will a mother do to protect her son?
Independence Day is an erotic romance set in 1868 California. The heroine was inspired by the gut-wrenching true-life story of Anna Glud, who served as a drummer boy under General Grant. The fictional story includes post-rape PTSD and adult themes and may contain triggers. Written for Ages 18+.
INDEPENDENCE DAY Excerpt 1
As apprehensive as Molly had been when Sheriff Donovan first arrived, she was soon thanking her stars that he had come to Walnut Creek. He was firm but fair, enforcing statutes that the last sheriff had been lax on and making improvements to their community. Billy adored him. The sheriff had quickly, disturbingly grown on her as well.
So far, she had done her best to ignore it.
At night was the hardest. When her father was dying and insisted on seeing her safely settled before he met his end, she had honored his wishes and wed the man he picked for her. At fifteen years of age, she felt that she had no choice.
Grayson was kind in the beginning. Her wedding night was more than she could have hoped for, given his true nature, with a gentle deflowering and hours of passionate lovemaking. Despite the brutality that Grayson had descended into once her father was gone, she could remember when their marital bed harbored more than forced entries and sleepless nights.
Her body yearned for that again.
She ached for Matthew Donovan.
She could not let him know how he affected her. She longed to touch the shadow of his beard-stippled face at the end of the day and sooth the tension from his brow. The worst was remembering what he looked like naked. Two weeks after he came, he’d failed to lock the bathing room door. She had gone in to clean it…only to find him climbing out of the tub, water clinging to the mat of crisp curls that spanned his chest, thinned below it, and narrowed to a tempting trail that led to his manhood.
His body had stirred at the sight of her, while she watched, mesmerized. He had snatched the towel and covered himself, breaking the spell and sending her flying out the door, her cheeks as red as chili peppers and the heart of her womanhood pulsing with new awareness. It was as if a fire had been sparked inside her. Unable to extinguish it, she now struggled to keep it banked. If she allowed it to flare to life, she feared that it would consume her.
But there was no help for it. Marriage would reduce her to the status of chattel. She refused to put herself at a man’s mercy ever again, and no affair was worth the risk. She would lose her reputation, her livelihood, her home, and possibly her son. Should she be judged an unfit mother, the court would take Billy away.
She was doomed to live each day with the knowledge of what Matthew Donovan looked like naked, and a keen awareness that he shared that most intimate memory.
Things had been awkward between them ever since.
INDEPENDENCE DAY Excerpt 2
His hazel eyes were as serious as she’d ever seen them. “We can have a second ceremony in the Church when things settle, but we’re making it legal now. As soon as supper’s done, we’re paying the justice of the peace a visit. The only way to ensure that Francis West won’t get custody of Billy is for you to take a husband who can pass close inspection. I’m not perfect, Becca, but my reputation is as good as any man’s and better than most. Mr. West can look for dirt in Indiana or Kansas or California, but he won’t find anything on me. I’ve kept my nose clean and chosen my friends well. Being a lawman, you live a life of risk. Under other circumstances, I’d give you plenty of time to think about that. Once we’re married in the Church, that’s it for either of us. There’ll be no backing out. No divorce. I’ll go off to work each day, and you’ll be here, not knowing if I’m coming home in my boots or in a box.”
She paled at his words and the bleak picture that he’d painted with them.
He shoved five fingers into his hair and sadly shook his head. “Unfortunately, that will be our reality,” he said. “I’ve always hesitated to saddle someone with it. I wouldn’t now, but it can’t be helped. It’s the only sure way to keep you and Billy safe. But if we do this, I want us to be clear. I plan to be your husband, in every way.”
She felt her cheeks warm. A marriage had to be consummated to be legal. If they married, they would share a bed.
His brow knit with worry when she said nothing. “Some women who’ve survived what you did would rather die than be touched by a man. I’m hoping that you’re not one of them.”
She remembered him naked and felt her whole body go flush. “I don’t think so,” she whispered, blood thrumming in her veins to pool in her loins. “How can I know?”
“Well,” he said, “why don’t we start with a kiss and see if you can stand me when it’s done?”
“All right,” she croaked, already wondering what he would taste like.
“Let’s get your chair turned.” Taking hold of the seat from behind, he pulled her away from the table and turned her ninety degrees, so that she sat beside it. He put an empty chair next to hers but in the opposite direction, forming a makeshift courting bench. Folding his long body, he sat down, facing her, with their right hips nearly flush.
He inhaled deeply and exhaled, forcing himself to relax. His hazel gaze snagged hers with the look of a man facing a challenge that he was hopeful he would win.
The sheriff grinned crookedly. “It’s been a while for me, too,” he confessed, “but I think I remember how it’s done.”
Raising his right arm, he held her face in his hand, brushing her cheek with the pad of his thumb, letting her become accustomed to his touch. After a long minute, he reached to cup her head. Leaning forward, he gently pulled her to him.
They met in the middle.
He angled his head for perfect alignment and brushed his lips against hers. His breath smelled of whiskey and lemon, from one of the hard candies that he bought at the mercantile and kept for a treat. When she didn’t shy away, he grew bolder, pressing his lips fully to hers and holding them there, inhaling her breaths and letting her inhale his.
He pulled back his head and looked at her. Keeping her hands clasped tightly against her waist, she met his gaze, unflinching.
“Whiskey eyes,” he murmured. “I could drown in them, you know.”
Certain that they revealed the maelstrom that was wreaking havoc inside her, she was tempted to close them. It was all she could do to sit, trembling at his touch, bathed in the fire of his breath that threatened immolation.
She wondered, would she burn or rise like a phoenix from the ashes?
“Becca,” he whispered hoarsely. “I’m going to really kiss you now.”
Taking her head in both of his hands, he kissed her like a starving man. He consumed her, covering her mouth with his and feasting on it. His tongue came out, capricious at first, then deliberate, seeking her essence to claim for his own. After thoroughly tasting her lips, he urged them apart and delved inside.
She moaned from the feel of it, of him. Her curious fingers touched the faint shadow of his beard, delighting in their differences. Hard and soft. Masculine and feminine. Leashed power and burgeoning passion.
Sensing it, he groaned and pulled away. They stared at each other, motionless save for the rise and fall of their chests with each rapid breath. When the sheriff spoke, his voice was a delicious baritone rumble that echoed in her core.
“Well?” he managed. “What do you think?”
That she was mad to want him. Mad to marry him. She had vowed to never be at the mercy of a man.
She wished that he would kiss her again.
INDEPENDENCE DAY Excerpt 3
“I’m afraid that you’ll have to tell me what to do. Matthew, how do you want me? Where do you want me?”
He swallowed hard, his throat muscles working. Focused on him, she watched his Adam’s apple move above his cravat. He shifted uncomfortably in his seat. Tearing his gaze away from her lips, he looked towards her bed.
“Stand up and take off your dress for me.”
He offered his large, strong hands to help her off the floor. Staying close, she unbuttoned her cuffs and bodice, bent to catch the hem of her skirt, and pulled her dress over her head. Turning it right side out, she shook it straight and hung it back in her wardrobe.
Acutely aware of his gaze on her, watching, she untied the waist of her hoops and dropped them. They collapsed at her feet. Her two petticoats and corset cover were next to go, leaving her standing in her corset, shift, pantaloons, stockings, and shoes.
“Sit on the bed,” he rumbled, pushing himself to a stand. She watched, mesmerized, as he pulled off his frock coat and removed his vest. He reached for his belt buckle. She felt herself pale, remembering the bite of leather into her flesh. Noting her reaction, he tossed it aside. When he turned back, his lips were pressed tightly together and his brow was creased with concern.
“I’ll switch to suspenders,” he promised. “I never thought—”
“No!” she whispered. “Please. I need to get used to it, is all. I’ve managed with other things. I can do it with your belt, too, but it takes time. Just be patient with me, please.”
“You have my word, Becca. I’m a patient man. And in case you didn’t notice that day you came into the bathing room, I can control myself. Otherwise, I’d have pinned you against the door and taken you then and there.”
The husky timbre of his voice echoed in her core, triggering a primal response that left her swollen, wet, and aching with an emptiness that he would soon fill.
“You wanted me?”
He nodded slowly, his expression earnest. “I’ve wanted you since I first laid eyes on you again. Back in Jeffersonville, you were always a pretty thing, but you were young. Way too young. Next thing I knew, you were married. All I could do was watch from a distance and hope for the best. But when I walked into Harrell House and saw you again, all grown up…”
He pulled out his stickpin and untied his cravat. “I thought you were the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen. I still do.”
She knew that she was passably pretty. The way he looked at her almost made her believe that she was more than merely easy on the eyes.
His hands went to the front of his pants. His nimble fingers worked the buttons to open his fly. Beneath the fabric of his shirt and drawers, she could see the bulge of his erect manhood, rising straight against his belly.
She was no authority, but to her eyes, he seemed very well-endowed. Very. He was large enough, he would have to prepare her to receive him.
The prospect was both tantalizing and terrifying.
The sheriff’s very life depended on being observant. Tonight, with all of his attention focused on her, he saw everything. The rapid lift and fall of her chest with every corset-constrained breath. The night breeze that lifted the curtain and sent gooseflesh rippling across her skin. The uncertainty on her face when she wondered just how large he was and thought of his possession.
“I’ll go slow,” he said. Dropping his gaze to her secrets, he looked determined to uncover them all. “We’ll fit. You’ll see.”
by Ree L. Diehl
Length 18, 365 words. A BBW/billionaire workplace romance (a contemporary novella with workplace bullying and body shaming).
Curvy Isabella DeLorean knows what it’s like to be the butt of jokes but she has brains, talent, beauty, an irrepressible sense of humor, and a plus-size body that matches her big heart. Tough as steel and built for comfort, this DeLorean would love nothing more than to take her new boss for a ride.
Nicholas Wentworth III is CEO of the Wentworth’s department store chain. His newest sales clerk is so popular with customers, Bella wins Employee of the Month and all the perks that come with it—a sizeable bonus, a premium parking space, and dinner with CEO. Bella’s hot Italian-American blood thinks that a boss with benefits might just be what she needs. She’s already dealing with vicious coworkers, a shady manager, and office gossip. Accepting the award from Nick puts an even bigger target on her back. Someone’s aware of their mutual attraction. Someone who’ll stop at nothing to keep her and Nick apart. With Bella’s life in peril, can Nick find her stalker before it’s too late?
Damage Control is Ree L. Diehl’s first novella, her first BBW, and first romantic mystery. It’s a sizzling addition to the Stand Your Ground anti-bullying anthology.
DAMAGE CONTROL Excerpt:
Bella put the credit card printout with the cash register receipt and handed them to Lola.
The bride-to-be tucked them in her billfold. “I’ll give these to Vito when I get home. Thanks for all your help, doll. You’re the best.”
“Thank you, Lola. I wish you and Vito every joy.”
Glancing over, Bella saw Maria carrying Justinian on her hip. The way that he was gnawing on a finger, she wondered if a tooth was coming in.
She was so focused on her nephew that she didn’t see Ms. Cohen coming from the back with a spray bottle of perfume in her hand. “There,” she said, misting away. “Much better!”
For Ms. Cohen maybe, but not for Bella. One whiff and she felt her throat start to close. She stumbled to the chair just outside the lingerie display room, gasping for air.
“Someone get a doctor!” Maria yelled. Justinian burst into tears, wailing like a banshee. Lola called 911. “Bella, can you hear me? Do you have one of those shot things for allergies?”
Bella shook her head weakly. She had an inhaler if she started to wheeze. A runny nose and sinus headache were the norm. She’d never had a reaction this bad, with a fat tongue and dangerously constricted airways. Dear God, what if her throat swelled shut before help came? Not being able to breathe was the most frightening thing she’d ever experienced.
She felt dizzy. She couldn’t get enough air, and she was losing consciousness. Her eyelids closed, too heavy to keep open any longer.
“Hang in there, sweetie. Help is on the way. Stay with me, Bella. Stay with me. Come on, sweetheart. Stay with me.”
Strange, but Maria’s voice had changed to Mr. Wentworth’s.
Try as she might, she couldn’t force open her eyes. Couldn’t see him and couldn’t stay with him, as much as she wanted to. How ironic was it, to win a date with the man of her dreams and die before dinner?
“I agree. It is ironic.”
Bella stopped breathing again, but this time it wasn’t a medical emergency. She felt the sting of an IV in the back of her hand and heard the blip of monitors even before she opened her eyes and saw Nicholas Wentworth sitting by her hospital bed.
He looked exhausted.
She was pretty sure that she looked worse.
“Hi,” she croaked. “What are you doing here?”
He conjured a tired smile. “Checking on my Employee of the Month. Your mother tells me that you’re a fighter. She swears that you’ll be out of here in time for the presentation tomorrow night.”
Good lord. She’d lost a day? A day’s pay. No, two days. Yesterday and today and maybe tomorrow, depending on how soon they would let her go.
Bella burst into tears. “I’m s-sorry,” she keened. “It’s just—I can’t afford to miss work.”
“Workmen’s Comp,” he said, waving a dismissive hand. “Everything’s covered. Your pay. Your stay. This is a result of an incident while you were on the clock. Trust me when I say that everything will be taken care of. All you need to do is relax and recover. Lingerie will be waiting for you when the doctor releases you. Ms. Cohen, however, will not.”
Bracing his elbows on the arms of his chair, he clasped his hands and leaned toward her. “After your review yesterday morning, I started checking, comparing department profits and sales commissions paid. The figures showed a disturbing pattern. When I called Ms. Cohen to discuss my findings, I was told that she was busy with a medical emergency. Yours.”
He rubbed a hand across his face and smiled grimly. “Miss Chin—Qua—found your phone on the counter, still recording. She had me listen to it. Ms. Cohen was ready to let your sales go through another register. But what she did next was worse. Ms. Cohen knew that you had fragrance allergies. That’s why we put you in lingerie, in a part of the store farthest from the makeup and perfume counters. Yet she deliberately sprayed perfume without your permission, without bothering to ask if you were allergic to that brand. It was an unconscionable act, and I fired her. The search is on for a new lingerie department manager. HR recommends the one from our Charleston, South Carolina, location. Ms. Jackson—Evalynne—has an excellent record but she’s not fond of hurricanes and is looking to relocate.”
“Same job, new boss. I can handle it.” Truthfully, she was relieved to have a job to come back to, especially if it meant that she could catch a glimpse of Nicholas Wentworth III from time to time.
He smiled softly. “I’m certain you can.”
“I’m a DeLorean,” she quipped. “Tough as steel and built for comfort.”
It was one of her standing jokes when someone pointed out her weight. Bella groaned when she heard what had flown out of her mouth. “Forget I said that. Jesus, take me now.”
Mr. Wentworth chuckled. “Sorry, he’ll have to wait until I’m done with you. We have a presentation tomorrow night, and there’s still your Employee of the Month dinner with me. Your mother is looking forward to the first, and I,” he said, “am looking forward to the second.”
She looked for the signs, but he wasn’t joking.
She needed to make a major fashion statement. In her mind, she saw a basic black mermaid wrap with an asymmetrical draped bodice, crossing to one side and fastening at her waist.
“Two weeks,” she said. If they were going to do this, she wanted enough time to make the perfect dress.
“Good,” he said. “Good. You’ll be out of here and back to work. Speaking of which, I’d better get going. I have a conference call in an hour. I’m glad to see that you’re doing better, Miss DeLorean.”
That sounded so formal when she was sitting here with her ass hanging out of a hospital gown. “My family and friends call me Bella, Mr. Wentworth.”
Standing, he smoothed the creases from his suit pants and draped his matching jacket over his arm. “And my family and friends call me Nick. I’ll see you soon, Bella. Get some rest.”
She didn’t want to rest. She wanted to watch that fine specimen of manhood leave her hospital room and memorize how his bubble butt looked in motion. She wanted to bite it. Lick it. She wanted to bend over the bed and let the CEO of Wentworth’s own her every orifice.
God, what she wouldn’t give to have her vibrator right now.
In this holiday novelette, sculptor Elena Davenport Wainwright prepares to celebrate her art studio’s second open house and her third Christmas with her husbands Edward Wainwright and Daniel O’Flaherty.
While working on her larger-than-life statue of Achilles, Patroclus, and Briseis, a fainting spell sends Elena tumbling from the scaffolding. Daniel breaks her fall, but the episode makes them all wonder at the cause. The doctor lists a number of potential suspects, including bone break fever, parasites, and a baby. The possibility of contracting a disease is as disturbing as the possibility of pregnancy, but how will Elena know?
Maybe she should call in her Romani herbalist for an intuitive medical consultation.
Although written as a standalone, your enjoyment will be enhanced if you have read As Wicked as You Want (named one of The 50 Best Indie Books of 2016, voted #1 erotica and #10 overall) and A Wicked Christmas 1869, a sizzling holiday short story.
Historical MMF ménage erotic BDSM romance, a steamy novelette written for Ages 18+.
Lucy helped me into the striped blue silk dress that was Edward’s favorite and arranged my hair, coiling it at the back of my head and securing it with pins and a pair of jeweled dragonfly combs. Adding pearls at my throat and a pair of earbobs, my transformation was complete.
Daniel was waiting in the hall to escort me downstairs for dinner. Edward’s cook Babs had outdone herself. The soup was savory. The beef was fork-tender, the vegetables were tender-crisp, and dessert was to die for.
Paddy had two servings. I envied him his constitution. He could eat all he wanted and never gain a pound of fat, only muscle. But then, he worked hard, too. At the studio and in the morning regimen that the three of us maintained. Sculpting was a very physical pursuit. My work required me to be as fit as a field hand.
The men, of course, were great admirers of my form. They could not wait to take me upstairs, undo all of Lucy’s work, and get me naked as Venus rising from the sea.
Edward hooked my wrapper on his finger, found the shoulders, and held it open for me. He might be a hedonist, but I drew the line at traipsing nude through the halls when Young Frank’s duties included tending the attic boiler. Babs’s son was an affable, dependable, impressionable young man. I did not wish to frighten him away. If he chose to stay in our service, no doubt he would get an education.
Tonight, there would be no corruption of his youth.
The three of us wore robes to the third-floor room that Edward had transformed into an indoor sexual park that we referred to as our play room. Here, we played hard and fucked harder. Our Master’s collection of “toys”—instruments and aids—was ever increasing.
As soon as the door closed behind us, I shrugged off my wrapper and dropped to my knees. Daniel did the same, taking his place beside me. We waited, wordless, to see what Edward desired.
In 1602 Scotland, a young widow traveling alone with her three-year-old daughter finds herself indebted to her clan’s enemy after he saves her child.
A steamy historical Highland romance novelette, written for Ages 18+.
“Ye look better,” he murmured, sounding as if the mere act of speaking was all that he could manage.
“As do ye,” she replied. If she were judging by looks alone, she would have deemed him fit for travel. But his voice betrayed his weakness. They would be here at least one night, possibly two.
The last time she was on Rannoch Moor, she was a frightened fifteen-year-old, headed for a marriage that her stepfather had arranged. Now, she was a woman grown and had a choice—to stay with Niall or go. Wounded though he was, she still felt safer with him than alone. Too, she owed him her daughter’s life. Saving his seemed the least that she could do.
She gathered berries and wood sorrel, shaved more meat, and made tea. Eventually, she helped him up when the water she’d been pushing in him demanded to be let out. Judging the hour, she gathered bits of wood and dried dung, anything that would burn to help ward off the chill of night. They spend it hunkered by the fire, trying to stay warm, with her child tethered to her so she could not wander off.
In the morning, Muirgheal steeped more sorrel and shaved meat for him, and fed Phee and herself. Niall was quiet. She wished that he would speak. Even if he was not up for conversation, he could at least tell her exactly where he lived. She prayed that it was close. Hopefully, it was within a day’s ride. Surely he would not range far from his home to hunt, but with men, one never knew.
By the time the three of them finished breaking their fast, Niall deemed himself ready to try riding.
Muirgheal said nothing. She nodded, keeping her doubts to herself. Willpower alone might get him in the saddle and keep him there. But he would be seated alone this time. He could barely handle himself. There was no way that he could handle Phee and her.
She tied their bags behind his saddle. At least that much of her burden would be lighter. The two of them walked beside him, or she walked and Phee rode her hip. They traveled until they entered Gleann Dubh—the Black Glen, which lay west of Loch Rannoch, about eleven miles east of where they had been on Rannoch Moor. It was almost as pretty a place as where she was born. The stone cottage they finally reached looked cozy and well-made.
Approaching it, Muirgheal noted a small garden out back. The door in the side of a hill marked where a root cellar had been dug into it. The barn behind the house had a paddock. From beyond the barn, she thought she heard the laugh of a stream as it tumbled over rocks and rills.
The trip had taken most of Niall’s strength. “Ye need to rest,” she said. “I’ll take care of yer horse if ye will tell me what ye want.”
There was a long, awkward pause.
He had to clear his throat to answer her.
She listened to his words, but more than that, she searched his eyes, wishing to rewind the clock and read again what she thought they were saying.
Tell me what ye want.
He wanted her.
She had begun to suspect it, the way that he tried, so very hard, to not look at her. He was a quiet one, except for the occasional tune he hummed or sang before a bullet had nearly felled him. He didn’t feel the need to fill the air with idle chatter, and in that, they were alike. She would rather listen to his breath and to his heartbeat and know that when he did say something, his words had weight and meaning.
Niall rode the horse into the barn and managed to dismount. While Phee jumped on a rick of straw, Muirgheal helped him with the saddle and pad. He took off the bridle and turned the stallion out into the paddock to graze on lush, green grass.
The inside of the house was cooler than outside, thanks to the thickness of the stone walls and windows that faced east. It was a typical one-room Highland cottage, with a bed downstairs and a sleeping loft above. Niall lived here with his ghosts, in the framed silhouette of a woman on the wall, the abandoned spinning wheel near the hearth, and the empty cradle in the corner.
“Nap!” Phee gave it a push and giggled, wanting to lie in it.
“Nay, lassie. Ye willnae fit.” Even if she did, her climbing in the cradle might violate his sacred space, and Niall was already hurting.
“Sit,” she insisted when Niall stopped beside a pair of wooden buckets. “Tell me where tae fill them, and I shall.”
“The burn,” he said, pointing in the direction of the barn.
Taking a bucket in each hand, Muirgheal ordered Phee to come and set out to find water. The burn was close by. In the summer heat, the spring-fed water was blessedly cold and clear. She walked to a point above where the horse drank and brought the wooden pails back full.
Setting them by the door, she found Niall asleep on the floor by the hearth, choosing to lie there rather than dirty his sheets or climb to the sleeping loft. To let him rest, she took Phee with her and visited the root cellar, taking stock of what was there in crocks, baskets, bottles, and kegs. Niall clearly needed more variety in his diet. There was dried meat aplenty but little in the way of vegetables, and his garden was too small to meet more than the moment’s need.
Next year, she thought, then stopped herself. So close to home, she was. So near to her mother, her family, her friends. Try as she might to picture herself on the far side of the pass, she could as easily see herself here, sewing by the hearth, mending stockings and making clothes for her growing little girl who was more comfortable with Niall than she’d ever been with the man who wished only for a son.
Did she want to stay? Dare she ask? And if she did, would he let her? She knew next to nothing about the man who lived here. How did he earn his living? Was he wealthy? Was he happy? If he wasn’t, could she be the one to ease his sadness and make him so?
She’d only known him three days, and already she could envision a future with him. In her heart, she was willing to risk it. Whatever happened now, he would be the one to decide.
In this sizzling short story, Elena Davenport Wainwright gets ready to celebrate her second Christmas with her husbands Edward Wainwright and Daniel O’Flaherty. Suffering from “soldier’s heart” (PTSD) from her service in the Civil War, Elena looks to the Dominant Edward for shelter from the storms of life. But on the anniversary of her kidnapping, it’s the Master who needs reassurance.
Although written as a standalone, your enjoyment will be enhanced if you have read As Wicked as You Want, named one of The 50 Best Indie Books of 2016, voted #1 erotica and #10 overall.
Historical MMF ménage erotic romance, a short story written for Ages 18+.
Edward had been quiet at supper. Introspective, rather than troubled or morose. Indeed, he was not given to nostalgia, nor to the dark nights of the soul that had plagued me since the war. Daniel understood what it meant to have “soldier’s heart.” He had one, too, although to a much lesser degree. Mine was crippling. The first time Edward witnessed it, he had served as my anchor, offering safe harbor when Fourth of July gunfire had triggered an episode that left me puddled on the floor.
Then, and now, he provided shelter from every storm. Tonight, though, he was in need of reassurance.
Disregarding the ache in my thigh, I knelt between his and Daniel’s feet and rested my cheek against the fine wool covering Edward’s muscled thigh, welcoming the feel of his hand upon my head. My hair had grown out considerably since I’d met him. It pleased him to free it from its net and pins, winnow his fingers through my ebony locks, arrange them over my shoulders, and smooth my hair with his hand.
I sighed, content with my station.
“My boy,” Edward rumbled after a time. Even before he used his pet name for Daniel, I could feel the shift in his energy. Whatever had made him quiet before had given way to burgeoning passion. The proof of it was straining his seams and testing the buttons of his pants. “Lock the door.”
Not that the servants would bother us. His staff had been with him long enough to understand the way of things. A closed door meant that we wished for privacy. Only an emergency that demanded the master’s attention was cause enough for their interruption.
No sooner had Daniel turned the key than Edward had his fly open and his erection in hand. Fisting himself, he watched watching Daniel’s approach with keen interest, his deviant’s mind alive with possibilities.
Blurb: In Restoration England, Catherine Fanshawe is a young widow without the means to run the estate that she has inherited. Driven to desperation and inspired by her namesake (believed to have been a notorious female highwayman), Catherine decides that the Wicked Lady will ride once more.
Her target is Lord Leighton, James Devereaux, a scandalous bounder, handsome as sin, and rich as Croesus. When she stops his carriage, she punishes his attempt to distract her by demanding more than money.
James resists, at first, until he realizes the masked highwayman is a woman. When she leaves him bound to a tree and unsatisfied, he vows revenge. Being a confidant of King Charles adds a world of privilege to his rank, and resources at his command. He will not rest until he finds his Wicked Lady. Whatever it takes, her crimes against him will not go unpunished, even if he must take the law into own hands.
Catherine doesn’t know it, but the tables are about to be turned.
A sizzling hot short story, written for ages 18+.
Lady Donnelly did not protest when James took her arm and bade her accompany him to somewhere more private where they could…talk.
Both of them knew there would be little of that—at least in the near future.
Alone in his private chamber, he took an inordinate amount of pleasure in the way she trembled before him. She should be frightened. Her fate was in his hands.
“Nice mask,” James remarked. “Much nicer than the plain one you wore in Hertfordshire. Purchased with my coin, no doubt. Take it off.”
Her hands shook as she did so, revealing a pert nose and smooth cheeks. Her pale complexion contrasted sharply with her ebony hair and emerald eyes. Framed with a thick brush of absurdly long lashes, they were stunning to behold.
“And the dress.”
She blinked, hard. “What?”
James’s smile held no humor. “You heard me. The dress. I know damned well it was purchased with my coin, too. Be glad I do not choose to strip your brother, or make him privy to your shame. Test me, and you will not be the only one who pays the price for treason.”
“When you accost an officer of the King, you attack your sovereign. Did you think that there would be no repercussion for your crimes against me? Fortunately for you, Charles has agreed to let me handle this myself. Now, I can order a hanging, but I have much more appealing uses for rope. Your choice,” he said simply. “Be taken, naked, to the Tower or submit freely to me. Tell me, which is it to be?”
“I have no choice,” she whispered, her voice thick with unshed tears. He’d remedy that soon enough.
“Nor did I,” he reminded her curtly. “Your dress is still on.”
“I am sorry. I need help, Sir. Without a maid, I am afraid that I must beg your assistance.”
James used his considerable experience to dispense with her dress and underpinnings, leaving her clad only in her shoes and stockings, corset and chemise. He circled her, judging her attributes with a critical eye and finding himself well pleased. She was healthy, at least, with a soft curve to her belly, enough hips to hold onto, and creamy breasts that swelled above her stays. With her height a good foot shorter than his, it would make for some interesting dynamics when he took her to bed.
He went to sit upon it. “You shall lie across my lap with your head here and your arse here.” He pointed to each in turn. “I am going to spank you, blister that bottom of yours. You will keep count, and thank me for each blow. Lose track, and we begin again. You are not to speak otherwise. When you are allowed to do so, in private, you will call me Master. Nod if you understand.”
Mortification stained her cheeks. She jerked her head and wrung her hands.
“Good. You are intelligent, if unwise. We shall see how biddable you are. Now come.”
She approached him with as much eagerness as a convict did a hanging tree. Stopping by his knee, she bent over it, settled herself, and waited for him to begin.
James grabbed a handful of soft, fine linen and pulled up the back of her chemise, not stopping until the fabric was bunched above her waist and her bottom was bared. And what a lovely bottom it was. He palmed each cheek in turn, squeezing, molding, warming the tissue, preparing her for what was to come. She stifled a moan and clenched her thighs. He could smell her arousal.
His Wicked Lady was proving a lusty wench.
“One,” she gasped. “Thank you, Master.”
Smack! A matching strike on the other side.
“Two. Thank you, Master.”
He kept going, alternating sides, keeping his strikes on the fleshy globes of her buttocks. The flesh pinkened, then reddened, as she counted the cost. He did not stop until she had dissolved into tears, gulping breaths between her choked responses, and her nether lips were swollen and slick with dew.
James thrust two fingers into her breach, pumped his hand, and pulled it out, licking his fingers and tasting her essence. Delicious. She moaned, no doubt feeling the emptiness and aching to be filled.
He pushed her off his lap and let her crumple on the floor. “Kneel,” he rumbled, reaching to open his breeches. “I am going to fuck your mouth. If you know what’s best, you shall keep your teeth away and your claws sheathed—and you shall swallow anything that I choose to give you. Nod if you understand.”
The dark head bobbed.
“Have you done this before? Taken a man in your mouth?” He had discovered too little on her late husband to know his true measure as a man, let alone a sexual partner. “You may answer me.”
She pushed herself up, keeping her eyes down, never raising her gaze above his chest. “No, Master.”
For some reason, that pleased him, to learn he would be her first. “I shall teach you,” he said, taking out his cock and stroking it fully erect. “Show you how to give the greatest pleasure. There are sensitive spots here, here, and here.” He pointed to the base of his shaft, the whole of the crown, and the place underneath that could bring a man to his knees. “The rim and the first few inches are the most sensitive. You shall learn to take me down your throat—oh, yes, you shall do that, too. Use your tongue to tempt and tease, the suction of your mouth to bring me to a satisfying end. Swallow my seed, and I shall reward you. Fail in any of this, and you shall suffer the consequences. Now, begin.”
James fisted her hair and guided her to him, pushing his way between her lips and relishing the feel of her mouth and tongue. He forged deeper, his glans rubbing against the ridges of her palate, pushing against the back of her throat. She fought not to gag.
He drew back a little. “Suck,” he ordered. She obeyed, cheeks hollowing with her efforts. He grabbed his sac and squeezed his testes, jacked his hips and deepened his strokes. He fucked her face, pleased with her first efforts. Feeling his balls draw up and his cock swell, he growled a warning. “Get ready. Here it comes.”
James exploded, pouring himself into the warmth of her mouth as she fought to swallow the volume. When he had finished using her, he let go of her hair and let her sit back on her heels. Her green eyes were tear-smacked, her nose red, and her lips swollen.
Her eyes widened when he grabbed her biceps, hauled her to her feet, and tossed her onto the bed. He stripped her, bound her, spread her wide and secured her wrists and ankles to the four corners of his world. Here, in this room, he was king. He was her sovereign. Lady Donnelly was here to serve his will and be the receptacle for his lust. His to do with as he pleased. To discard or to keep.
Power was intoxicating. More so, when he could see her fear and smell her arousal. He thrust two fingers into her slit and pumped until she climaxed.
Shedding his clothes, he climbed onto the end of the bed and crawled up her body, dragging his chest on her front, letting his thatch of hair abrade that incredible skin of hers, sensitizing her breasts, and teasing her nipples into tight, hard buds. He took one in his teeth and plucked it, making her body arch and writhe beneath him.
Taking himself in hand, he parted her folds and found her opening, notched his head, and thrust inside, a primal claiming that tore a cry from her throat from the sheer force of it. He pulled back and thrust again, just as hard, just as deep, hips flexing, finding his rhythm and maintaining it. She was as perfect as he remembered. Tight. Wet. Responsive to his touch and willing to do anything he wished.
Nothing was sacrosanct. Everything was within his grasp. The only limits were his imagination and the whim of mercy that would eventually surface, when she reached her breaking point, if not before.