Theirs to CherishWicked Lovers, Book 8
A woman on the run falls for two enemies who both refuse to let her go…
Accused of a horrific murder she didn’t commit, former heiress Callie Ward has been a fugitive since she was sixteen—until she found the perfect hideout, Club Dominion. The only problem is she’s fallen for the club’s Master, Mitchell Thorpe, who keeps her at arm’s length. Little does she know that his reasons for not getting involved have everything to do with his wounded heart…and his consuming desire for her.
Enter Sean Kirkpatrick, a Dom who’s recently come to Dominion and taken a pointed interest in Callie. Hoping to make Thorpe jealous, she submits to Sean one shuddering sigh at a time. It isn’t long before she realizes she’s falling for him too. But the tender lover who’s slowly seducing her body and earning her trust isn’t who he claims…
When emotions collide and truths are exposed, Sean is willing to risk all to keep Callie from slipping through his fingers. But he’s not the only man looking to stake a claim. Now Callie is torn between Sean and Thorpe, and though she’s unsure whom she can trust, she’ll have to surrender her body and soul to both—if she wants to elude a killer…
Wicked Lovers SERIES
Callie trembled as she lay back on the padded table and Sean Kirkpatrick’s strong fingers wrapped around her cuffed wrist, guiding it back to the bindings above her head.
“I don’t know if I can do this,” she murmured.
He paused, then drew in a breath as if he sought patience. “Breathe, lovely.”
That gentle, deep brogue of his native Scotland brought her peace. His voice both aroused and soothed her, and she tried to let those feelings wash through her.
“Can you do that for me?” he asked.
His fingers uncurled from her wrist, and he grazed the inside of her outstretched arm with his knuckles. As always, his touch was full of quiet strength. He made her ache. She shivered again, this time for an entirely different reason.
Sean shook his head, his deep blue eyes seeming to see everything she tried to hide inside. That penetrating stare scared the hell out of her. What did he see when he looked at her? How much about the real her had he pieced together?
The thought made her panic. No one could know her secret. No one. She’d kept it from everyone, even Thorpe, during her four years at Dominion. She’d finally found a place where she felt safe, comfortable. Of course she’d have to give it up someday, probably soon. She always did. But please, not yet.
Deep breath. Don’t panic. He wants your submission, not your secrets.
“You’ll need to do better than try. You’ve been ‘trying’ for over six months,” he reminded her gently. “Do you think I’d truly hurt you?”
No. Sean didn’t seem to have a violent bone in his body. He wasn’t a sadist. He never gripped her harshly. He never even raised his voice. She’d jokingly thought of him as the sub whisperer because he pushed her boundaries with a gentleness she found both irresistible and insidious. Certainly, he’d dragged far more out of her than any other man had. Tirelessly, he’d worked to earn her trust. Callie felt terrible that she could never give it, not when doing so could be fatal.
Guilt battered her. She should stop wasting his time.
“I know you wouldn’t,” she assured, blinking up at him, willing him to understand.
“Of course not.” He pressed his chest over hers, leaning closer to delve into her eyes.
Callie couldn’t resist lowering her lids, shutting out the rest of the world. Even knowing she shouldn’t, she sank into the soft reassurance of his kiss. Each brush of his lips over hers soothed and aroused. Every time he touched her, her heart raced. Her skin grew tight. Her nipples hardened. Her pussy moistened and swelled. Her heart ached. Sean Kirkpatrick would be so easy to love.
As his fingers filtered into her hair, cradling her scalp, she exhaled and melted into his kiss—just for a sweet moment. It was the only one she could afford.
A fierce yearning filled her. She longed for him to peel off his clothes, kiss her with that determination she often saw stamped into his eyes, and take her with the single-minded fervor she knew he was capable of. But in the months since he’d collared her, he’d done nothing more than stroke her body, tease her, and grant her orgasms when he thought she’d earned them. She hadn’t let him fully restrain her. And he hadn’t yet taken her to bed.
Not knowing the feel of him deep inside her, of waiting and wanting until her body throbbed relentlessly, was making her buckets full of crazy.
After another skillful brush of his lips, Sean ended the kiss and lifted his head, breathing hard. She clung, not ready to let him go. How had he gotten under her skin so quickly? His tenderness filled her veins like a drug. The way he had addicted Callie terrified her.
“I want you. Sean, please . . .” She damn near wept.
With a broad hand, he swept the stray hair from her face. Regret softened his blue eyes before he ever said a word. “If you’re not ready to trust me as your Dom, do you think you’re ready for me as a lover? I want you completely open to me before we take that step. All you have to do is trust me, lovely.”
Callie slammed her eyes shut. This was so fucking pointless. She wanted to trust Sean, yearned to give him everything—devotion, honesty, faith. Her past ensured that she’d never give any of those to anyone. But he had feelings for her. About that, she had no doubt. They’d grown just as hers had, unexpectedly, over time, a fledgling limb morphing into a sturdy vine that eventually created a bud just waiting to blossom . . . or die.
She knew which. They could never have more than this faltering Dom/sub relationship, destined to perish in a premature winter.
The responsible choice would be to call her safe word, walk out, quit him. Release them both from this hell. Never look back.
For the first time in nearly a decade, Callie worried that she might not have the strength to say good-bye.
What was wrong with her tonight? She was too emotional. She needed to pull up her big-girl panties and snap on her bratty attitude, pretend that nothing mattered. It was how she’d coped for years. But she couldn’t seem to manage that with Sean.
“You’re up in your head, instead of here with me,” he gently rebuked her.
Another dose of guilt blistered her. “Sorry, Sir.”
Sean sighed heavily, stood straight, then held out his hand to her. “Come with me.”
Callie winced. If he intended to stop the scene, that could only mean he wanted to talk. These sessions where he tried to dig through her psyche became more painful than the sexless nights she spent in unfulfilled longing under his sensual torture.
Swallowing down her frustration, she dredged up her courage, then put her hand in his.
Holding her in a steady grip, Sean led her to the far side of Dominion’s dungeon, to a bench in a shadowed corner. As soon as she could see the rest of the room, Callie felt eyes on her, searing her skin. With a nonchalant glance, she looked at the others sceneing around them, but they seemed lost in their own world of pleasure, pain, groans, sweat, and need. A lingering sweep of the room revealed another sight that had the power to drop her to her knees. Thorpe in the shadows. Staring. At her with Sean. His expression wasn’t one of disapproval exactly . . . but he wasn’t pleased.
Sean sat, then pulled her onto his lap, supporting her back with a strong grip around her waist. He cupped her chin in his palm and sent her a pointed glance. “Eyes on me, lovely.”
She complied, trying not to think about the fact that it was getting harder and harder to meet his stare and not give herself to him for real.
Originally, she’d allowed Sean into her life because he irritated Thorpe, who sometimes looked at her as if she were the brightest star in the sky, then always chose another woman to master. She’d wanted to make him jealous. Hell, she’d wanted to see if he even gave a shit. Sean had walked into the club with his quiet sophistication and dry humor, taken one look at her, and never glanced at anyone else. It had done her ego a world of good—until Thorpe had removed his protection and allowed Sean to collar her. Without so much as blinking, he’d let her go.
So why the hell was Thorpe watching her now?
“You’re away with the fairies, Callie. Get out of your head,” Sean growled. “Focus on me. Or we’ll end tonight now.”
That would be better, smarter. And everything inside her rebelled at the thought of Sean leaving. She clung, in fact. After all, she never knew if she’d have a tomorrow with anyone.
“I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be preoccupied.”
His face softened a bit. “What’s troubling you?”
A million things she could never confess. She plucked at the first excuse off the top of her head. “You don’t want me.”
He grabbed her face in his hands. “You have no idea how untrue that is, lovely. I fantasize about laying you out under me and sinking so deep inside you that you’ll not ever forget the feel of me. Never doubt that I want you.”
His words made Callie flush hot all over. “Don’t you think sex would bring us closer?”
A wry smile crossed his wide mouth, and she couldn’t resist brushing her fingers through the waves of his dark hair. He was so blindingly handsome. He’d been her perfect revenge against Thorpe’s indifference. She just hadn’t planned on him stealing his way into her heart. And now she had no idea what to do.
4½ Stars! “The pacing of the story keeps the action flowing… handled with finesse and compassion…fascinating.”
– RT Book Club
Top Pick! “The story had an intriguing plot, with just the right amount of suspense… the vibrant characters drew me into the story… It had that extra special something… I loved it! I recommend it to anyone looking for a book that has some suspense to go along with the steamy romance.”
– The Romance Reviews
4½ Stars! “Damn, but Shayla Black created a phenomenal menage romance tinged with suspense that had me on the edge of my seat the entire time.”
-Herding Cats & Burning Soup
Top Pick! “This book had me hooked… I can guarantee you that I absolutely love this… Shayla Black knows how to write erotic romance!”
– Night Owl Reviews
“Theirs to Cherish is a story of hope and healing. …[It] reached into my chest, grabbed my heart, and squeezed it tightly. Ms. Black has a remarkable gift.”
– Sizzling Hot Books
“Another amazing journey filled with suspense, heartache, and scorching hot sex. What more could you want?”
– Shayna Renee’s Spicy Reads
5 Stars! “I had such a hard time putting this book down. Shayla Black blended the perfect combination of hotter than hot sex, suspense, romance, and the happily-ever-after you expect… It made me cry, laugh, squirm, sigh, and bite my nails with each turn of the page.”
– Marie’s Tempting Reads
“Always emotional, definitely erotic, and absolutely a must-read! Shayla Black never fails to leave readers utterly satisfied and anticipating her next release!”
– Reader To Reader
5 Stars! “This book has it all! Danger, suspense, heartbreak, love and sex. Well worth the wait!”
– T and A After Dark
“A delicious thriller! This book was sexy, sensual, and mysterious all rolled into a delectable package. …had me on the edge of my seat until the very end.”
“Well paced, believable and has just the right amount of angst and heartbreak. …Theirs to Cherish is the perfect read.”
– The Reading Café
5 Ribbons! “THEIRS TO CHERISH is absolutely captivating.”
– Romance Junkies
“…seriously freaking hot. This is a must read for the fans of Shayla Black.”
– Guilty Pleasures
“Ms. Black delivers another fantastic story with laughs, tears, suspense, and most importantly…love. …Very well written.”
– Noble Reviews