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Authors: Kayleigh Jamison

Caging Kat

BOOK: Caging Kat
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Caging Kat

by

Kayleigh Jamison

 

This is a work of fiction.  Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real.  Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

Caging Kat

Fourth
Edition, 2013

 

First Publication – Aphrodite’s Apples, 2006

Second Publication -
Festivals Volume One
anthology – Tease Publishing, 2007

Third Publication –
Love’s Immortal Pantheon Volume Five
– Tease Publishing, 2009

 

Copyright © 2006 Kayleigh Jamison

 

All rights reserved.  No part of this book may be used or reproduced electronically or in print without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews.

 

Dedication

 

For the girls.

 

 

Once a year, the gods of Olympus host a masquerade ball on the remote island of Arcadia.  Invitations are precious, and coveted; those who accept them are given a wish.  One night, one place of magic, and one chance to make dreams come true.

 

Kat did her best to suppress a groan as she took a quick survey of the ballroom.  This was going to be easy. 
Too damn easy
, she thought bitterly.  Her hazel, almond-shaped eyes caught the flash of another extravagantly crafted diamond necklace, fastened to the throat of a slender, masked girl, who twirled by in the arms of an equally slender, masked gentleman.  She shook her head, then ran one exquisitely manicured hand through her chin-length, red hair. 
Like shooting fish in a barrel
.  But, as her mother always said whenever she retrieved a liquor bottle from the microwave
--
under the sink
--
beneath the sofa cushions

d
esperate times call for desperate measures
.

Her profession – and she used the term loosely, since she could never put it on her tax forms – had gotten boring of late.  Seriously boring.  Being the most sought after art thief on the black market had been extremely appealing in her youth, but after the fifth or sixth
Van Gogh…she’d lost interest.  It wasn’t that she’d had a moral change of heart; hell no, she could care less whose wall
Starry Night
hung on, but there just wasn’t any challenge in it anymore. 

By the time she’d realized it
though, she was stuck.  At twenty-nine, she had never held a real job in her life.  She’d dropped out of college after her second year, when she’d successfully stolen the Ancient Roman urn out of the Walter’s and sold it for twelve million dollars.  Who gave a shit about Calculus 102 anyway, even if she was driving to and from class in a brand new Ferrari?  Scratch that,
especially
if she was driving to and from class in a brand new Ferrari.

And that was her other problem.  Living off the grid in
America these days was damn near impossible.  She’d already had to switch her identity and run like hell twice, because her careless flaunting of her wealth tended to raise eyebrows.  The old
family inheritance/trust fund baby
excuse only worked for so long before people started wondering why she wasn’t on the cover of
People
next to Paris Hilton and the other spoiled little rich girls. 

Ninety five percent of Kat’s money now rested safely in offshore banks, scattered across the globe.  Ten million here,
thirteen million there…she pitied the poor soul who ever tried to track her down.  Not even she could access her accounts without jumping through more hoops than Shamu at Sea World.  So, when her damned house had burned down in a freak accident last month, she’d been up shit creek without a paddle.  She couldn’t make an insurance claim without raising some red flags about her financials.  She couldn’t sue the dumbass who’d plowed into her house driving a propane truck for the same reason.  She didn’t keep enough funds readily accessible to buy a new place. 
Always have a rainy day fund, dear
, her mother had said whenever she’d revealed another hiding place for her booze. 

Kat had never made a rainy day fund.  And now
, she found herself living in some flea-bag dump motel while she scrambled for money to get herself a new place to live.  She was worth at least a billion.  And she was currently homeless.

Get a job?  Part of her actually wanted to.  Despite the fact that most Americans would kill for the independence she had, she
found herself wanting a normal, working class life.  She’d watch TV and sigh with longing at the women who put on their power suits and black pumps every day for their nine to fives, then came home and cooked dinner for the two point five kids and husband, before putting out the trash just beyond the white picket fence and letting the dog out in the backyard to take a piss.  The funny thing about corporate America was that no one wanted to hire a twenty nine year old woman who had no education and zero job experience.  Apparently, a name, address, and career objective didn’t make a sufficient resume. 

Which brought Kat to the here and now.  Though she had, of course, laughed at the invitation to the Plantation House Masquerade Ball – the invitation that mysteriously appeared in her mailbox year after year
, regardless of where she was or what name she was going by at the time – she needed money, and she couldn’t be conspicuous about it.  A masquerade where all the rich and chi-chi poo-poo’s showed up in disguise on the condition of anonymity?  Perfect for snatching up some jewelry and building herself that long overdue rainy day fund.  It wasn’t quite the challenge her restless heart longed for but, as her mother used to say whenever she ran out of vodka and had to resort to gin,
any port in a storm
.


Wanna dance, sweetness?” the voice materialized out of nowhere, its owner so close that she felt the warm puff of his breath against her ear.

She jumped and whirled around.  Son of a bitch.  She hadn’t let anyone sneak up on her in years.  It seriously pissed her off, even if the culprit had the kind of body that made her want to throw him down and ride him like the mechanical pony outside the grocery store.  The man was tall, her 5’5” frame didn’t even top his shoulders.  He was broad shouldered and muscular, wearing a sleeveless vest that was left unbuttoned, revealing the smooth, defined planes of his chest and the sculpted six-pack of his abdomen.  The ridges of his hips were chiseled lines, forming a ‘v’ below his six-pack.  There wasn’t an inch of fat on the man.  His skin was a dark, golden color, and his torso was almost entirely hairless, save the flaxen trail that began just beneath his navel and blazed a suggestive path down to the waistband of his black jeans, which hugged his ass so tight they might as well have been painted on.  And that ass…good god, it should have been a sin to have an ass that fine.

His face was hidden behind a simple black mask.  Dark brown eyes watched her with a hint of amusement as she studied him.  Dusty blond hair, cropped short around his head, formed tight little ringlets that should have made him look effeminate, but didn’t.  Oh, hell no, there was not a single feminine thing about this guy.  He screamed testosterone.

“I don’t think so, thank you.”

“Not even if I make it interesting?” he tempted.

Kat’s eyes narrowed.  Potential sex god in the flesh or not, she had a mission. 
Keep your eye on the prize, kitten
, her mother used to say whenever she’d leave for the liquor store.  “I doubt that you could.  But again, thank you.”  She pushed past the stranger and headed to another corner of the room.

“If not a dance,” he was at her side again, and she knew he hadn’t followed her, “how about a wager?”

“You know, I’m actually tired.  I think I’ll go find myself a way home.”

“But you haven’t stolen a single thing yet, sweetness,” he said, wagging one finger.  “And it isn’t like you to leave without the prize.  What was it your mother always said about that?”

She froze mid-stride.  This was bad.  This was very,
very
bad.  She wracked her brain in an effort to identify the guy.  Someone from her past, obviously.  Her long ago past, when everyone knew her as
that poor child with the drunk mother and absent father
.  “What do you want?” she hissed turning to face him again.  Her face was a perfect mask of nonchalance.  “Hush money?  Commission?  A special job?”

“I already told you
, I want a wager.”  His eyes sparkled behind his mask.

“What kind of
wager
?” 

“A challenge.  A…game of sorts.”  Flash of perfect, white teeth.  “With a prize for the winner, of course.”

“What kind of prize?”  Kat tried to be discreet in her studying of him.  She liked his smile.  His lips were full and appeared to be deceptively soft.
Oh, baby, what that mouth would look like between my thighs…

“If you win?  Anything you like.”  He swept his arms in a wide circle.  “Whatever your heart desires.”

She snorted.  “Suppose what I want is a PhD, a job, and a little house with a white picket fence?”

He snapped his fingers.  “Done.”

This time she rolled her eyes as she snorted.  “And if you win?  What’s
your
prize?”

She swore his eyes flashed red.  “You.”

Oh, it goddamn figures
.  “So I win, I get everything I desire.  You win, you get a one night stand?”  She was rolling her eyes again. 

“I didn’t say one night stand, sweetness.  I was thinking something more permanent than that.”

“Marriage?” 
I don’t care if you are Mr. GQ, I like my men fast, hard, and gone by sunrise.

Mr. GQ laughed.  He threw back his head and roared, actually, golden curls
shivering in the sconced light of the ballroom. 

Kat scowled at him.  She didn’t like being laughed at.  “Alright then, what?  Lock me in a cage in your bedroom as your own personal sex slave?”

“My temple, actually.  But close enough.”

“Oh
, this is so fucking ridiculous,” she sighed and turned to walk away again.

“It might be,” he said, “or it might get you everything you’ve ever wanted.  Come on, Kaitlin, after years of ignoring my invitation, are you really going to walk away without hearing me out?”

She swore and whirled around.  He had to be someone from her past.  High school, maybe?  “So you know my name.  Congratulations, Mr. GQ.”

“The name’s Ares,” he corrected.

An awkward silence fell between them as they studied each other.  Honestly, she did want to stay and hear him out.  Wasn’t like she had anything better to do.  If she did leave early, she’d just go back to her shitty hotel room, eat some shitty Chinese take-out, and watch some shitty horror movie on HBO.  But her stubborn streak wouldn’t let her surrender.  No way in hell.

“The boat doesn’t leave for at least two hours anyway, sweetness,” he supplied.  “What’s the harm in listening?”

“Fine, I’ll dance with you, and you can tell me all about this little wager,” she offered, suddenly feeling restless.  He was watching her too closely.  Like he really did have plans to put her on display in a cage.  Like he’d be more than willing to show her
exactly
what his mouth would look like on her body.

His lips curled into a half smile.  “I don’t dance, sweetness.”

“Then why the hell did you ask me to?”

He shrugged, and the thick muscles of his biceps rippled.  “It was a line.”  He watched her gaze travel down his arms, and flexed them for her with an arrogant smirk.

“Oooh, is this the part where you regale me with your physical attributes?”

“Maybe.”

BOOK: Caging Kat
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