Authors: Desiree Holt
A Set Up Novella
A Set Up Novella
By: Desiree Holt
Published by Fated Desires Publishing, LLC.
© 2015 Desiree Holt
Cover Art by Syneca
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All characters in this book are fiction and figments of the author’s imagination.
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Table of Contents
To all my readers, who have become a part of my family. This journey would be nothing without you.
To Master Nate and Master Shack and the people at S.A. Lair who so patiently answer all my questions about BDSM and invite me to observe whenever I can. You help me make it real and carry the message.
Lee Sullivan has really got her life together as the mayor’s publicity chief and the respected Domme, Mistress Star. She doesn’t foresee any bumps in her life until she meets Branch Colby, self-made millionaire and a man who pushes her buttons. She has no idea that he is a full-out Dom who sees women as a challenge and this one more than most.
When Branch’s friend Max bets him he cannot get Lee to submit to him, Branch agrees to a high-stakes wager. The problem is he never expected to fall for her or what the consequences would be when she learned the details of the bet. He has to find a way to repair the situation and she has to decide whether giving her heart is worth the risk.
Lee Sullivan detached herself from the group with whom she’d been chatting and moved easily through the large gathering of people. The annual Colby, Inc. company picnic was in full swing. It was being held, as always, on corporate property, five prime acres just north of the San Antonio city limits. Among other things, the site boasted a jogging track, a baseball diamond, and a park-like area with plenty of large oak trees, as well as an abundance of picnic tables and benches for outdoor lunches. Five years running the company had won the award from the state of Texas for best company to work for.
Although she represented her boss at a number of functions on a regular basis, this was the first time she’d attended this particular event. As the mayor’s chief public relations officer, she had a lot of high-profile events on her calendar, but the annual Colby, Inc. picnic had never been one of them. Until now. The mayor was angling for a major gift from Colby, Inc. to restore a park and playground.
“I need you to put in an appearance,” Mayor Vincent had insisted. “I can’t go because a major conflict in my schedule popped up literally overnight. You’ve filled in for me so much lately, Lee, and I know I promised you a free weekend. But the possibility of a major grant from Colby Enterprises is too big to turn down.” He shook his head. “This other event just came up and I have to be there myself. I need you to represent me. You’ve done it before. You’re good at it.”
“I understand.” And se did. All too well. Being called to sub for His Honor was becoming more and more a regular thing.
“Take Clay with you,” he’d insisted. “Enjoy yourself for a few hours.”
Spending a couple of hours with Clay Porter, the city attorney, wouldn’t be too bad. He was an acceptable escort, although not exactly her type. She liked the challenge of the alpha male with the hidden submissive side. She had a feeling Clay would be no challenge at all. They were friends, however, and often caught a late dinner or lunch together.
, she’d told herself.
What’s a few hours on a Sunday afternoon, anyway
At the center of a group gathered at one of the food stations was the poster boy for it all, Branch Colby, as relaxed as if he was sitting in his own den. His face was certainly familiar enough to her. She’d seen plenty of him in newspaper and magazine shots. On television. At parties for five hundred of his most intimate friends, usually with some excessively gorgeous female hanging on his arm. Seldom the same female twice. But all of them wore exactly the same expression: look who I’m with tonight.
Today, however, was the first time she’d been close to him in an informal setting. In the flesh, so to speak. She certainly had to admit it was awesome flesh. A soft-collar shirt with his company logo paired with what she was sure were very expensive jeans barely disguised the leashed power of the tall, well-muscled, heavily tanned body. Thick, brown hair shot with streaks of gold was razor-cut in short layers to make it lie smoothly on his head and flat against the nape of his neck. His long legs looked as if they could run a marathon without halting.
He stood in a relaxed, loose-limbed pose, hands in his pockets, but, even in such a casual posture, everything about him said command. Authority. I’m in charge, his body language shouted. Definitely a man comfortable in his own skin, he looked like nothing less than a jungle predator waiting to pounce on its prey. Confident. Self-assured.
He’d have to be, she thought, to own a company that bore only his name, nothing else to even identify the kind of business it was.
She’d read in T
that he got his start working as a journeyman carpenter in construction, swinging a hammer and wielding a saw. He was a long way from that now, heading his own international land development firm. Every bit of what he had was built from that raw start, and he’d done it with sweat and savvy.
She watched the female guests, the married ones as well as the single, eye him with sexual avarice plain on their faces. Any one of them would give it all up for him if he just crooked a finger, but she didn’t see that as his style. Branch Colby was the real thing. No doubt about it.
She knew plenty of men like him. In fact, he reminded her of many of her favorite submissives, men who held positions of authority. In the seclusion of Infinity, the private dungeon where she had a membership, she had brought many of them to their knees, quite literally. In the club, she was Mistress Star, a much sought-after Domme. These men bowed willingly to her wishes, aroused by the power shift and the excitement of giving over control to her. Of serving her.
She often caught some of these men on television or the news blogs, dressed in their custom suits and looking like the forceful titans they were. She’d smile, remembering them naked before her as they gave her pleasure, much as she gave it to them. Plenty of men at this picnic thought they were top of the heap—like Branch Colby. Some of them had even served as her sub at Infinity. There was nothing better than bringing out the inner sub in a powerful man, making him hers for one hour or one evening, then watching him don his cloak of power as he stepped out of the club. Would Branch Colby ever agree to submit to her? She snorted. The entire polar ice cap would melt first.
Once someone had asked her if she worried that the truth about her sexual life would come out and affect her position with the mayor. She just grinned and shook her head, knowing the men she played with would have to give up secrets of their own if they gave up hers.
If anything bothered her at all—and then only in the rare dark moments at night—it was the fact that the novelty of variety was beginning to wear thin. For the first time in her life, she wondered what it would be like to have a permanent situation, to bond with someone and create a life together. She had seen many others do it, but, until lately, she hadn’t thought about it for herself.
Lee allowed herself a tiny smile as she watched her host move easily on to another group, different people, wearing his charm like a cloak. Sexual magnetism emanated from him like radio waves, crackling in the air. It wasn’t just his good looks or the way he carried himself. It was the whole package, made even more tempting because he wasn’t throwing his power around the way some men did.
She worked the crowd as she’d learned to do, effortlessly, seamlessly, every point of contact casual and friendly, making sure to speak to the key people in attendance and pass along the mayor’s greetings. Thanking his political supporters and giving them a few extra moments of her attention. Watching for her opportunity to introduce herself to Branch and tell him how sorry Mayor Vincent was he had to miss the picnic. No reporters, thank the lord. Branch had made it a point when he started these picnics that they not be fodder for reporters. This was a private affair in all aspects, and he had the security force in place to back up his mandate.
When she had completed her circuit of required contacts, she left Clay in an intense discussion with a member of the city council and wandered off past the fringes of the crowd. Time to give herself a little breathing room. She could watch her host from afar, admiring the man’s air of absolute command. Did he ever let go of that tight control? A stray thought crept into her brain, and she idly wondered how he’d react to the demands of a Domme. Unbidden, an image flashed in her mind of the man naked and oiled and stretched out on a St. Andrew’s Cross, waiting for her attention.
Feeling a hot flush creeping up her cheeks, she fetched a bottle of water from one of the bars set up at the perimeter and carried it to a nearby picnic table. As she lifted the bottle to her lips, she sensed a presence behind her.
“I must be doing something wrong. You can’t be enjoying yourself too much if you’re hiding over here under a tree all alone.”
And there he was, as if her thoughts had conjured him up. His voice was like warm syrup, covering her with a thick layer of heat, and an unexpected tremor skittered over her spine. She looked up into eyes, so dark they were almost black, framed by the kind of thick lashes women would kill for. Tiny lines bracketed his mouth and eyes in a face that the word rugged barely did justice to, all painted with a deep tan that spoke of hours spent outdoors. She knew he spent as little time in his office as possible, insisting that, while he had a business, he was not a businessman. He ran the corporation from a high-end laptop and cell phone, preferring instead to visit projects and indulge in outdoor activities. It obviously worked, judging by his rating in Forbes.
She pulled out her political voice, friendly but cool.
“On the contrary, I’m doing just fine.”
This was not a man you gave an opening to. She controlled the urge to check the clips holding her hair away from her face and smooth down her tailored blouse and thin cotton slacks. It wouldn’t do to let this man think she had a personal interest in his opinion of her. She held out her hand.
“Lee Sullivan. I don’t believe we’ve actually met before.”
“I know I’d remember it if we had. Besides, I don’t think the mayor’s spin doctor needs an introduction.”
Tiny lines crinkled at his eyes as his mouth curved in that high-octane smile and his large hand enfolded her smaller one.
The contact was unexpectedly electric. As smoothly as she could, she slipped her hand from his.
“And I think it would be hard not to know who you are, either, Mr. Colby.”
“The cost of doing business, but its Branch,” he replied. “Please.”
One eyebrow lifted. “What’s Lee short for?”
“Lee.” She swallowed a smile. “What’s Branch short for?”
He laughed. “Point to you.”
“I didn’t know we were keeping score.” She looked up at him, into those dark eyes. “I should think you’d have guests a lot more important than me to spend your time with.”
“You know, the funny thing is they all seem to be doing just fine without me.” He swung easily onto the bench opposite her, his posture totally relaxed. “I thought I’d come over and introduce myself.”
Lee looked around to see if Clay was anywhere nearby.