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Authors: Sherri Hayes

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BOOK: Slave
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Stephan

I’d picked up some sandwiches at one of my favorite delis. Honestly. I wasn’t that hungry after Brianna’s breakfast, but she might be. I had also told her I would be bringing something home, and I needed to be consistent above all else.

The closer I got to home, however, the more my eyes kept drifting to the black box on the seat next to me. Was this really the right thing? What if it was pushing her too far, too fast? There were so many things she didn’t understand, so many things I didn’t feel I could tell her yet. Was collaring her now the best thing to do?

That was the thing, I didn’t know. Sitting there watching her this morning, the decision had been clear. Now, the doubts started to creep in again.

Before I could even think it through, I picked up my cell and dialed Logan. After four rings, he answered, slightly out of breath. “Hello?”

“Logan. Sorry to bother you. I didn’t mean to interrupt something,” I said apologetically. Logan had been out of town on business for the last few weeks. I knew he and Lily had had plans, and I knew without a doubt that I was interrupting them.

“Don’t worry about it. It was nothing that won’t wait.” I heard a door shut in the background and knew Lily was cursing me right about now. After a few more seconds of silence had passed, Logan asked, “So what’s up?”

“I’m assuming Lily told you about her time with Brianna?”

His voice turned serious. “She did.”

I let out a sigh of relief. Although I’d been positive Lily would share, I didn’t want to assume, every relationship was different. “Good. Well, something happened this morning.” I took a deep breath and plunged into the story including a mention that this wasn’t the first time she’d implied that I’d “give her back” or “send her away.” After finishing the story, I said, “I’m going to collar her.”

My entire body clenched waiting for his reprimand; I was sure he’d start screaming at me any second. But he didn’t. Instead, I was met with silence.

I waited, but still nothing. “Logan?”

“I’m here, Stephan. You’re obviously concerned about it or else you wouldn’t have called me. What has you worried?”

“I’m just afraid I’m doing the wrong thing . . . that it’s too soon.”

“Why do you want to collar her?”

My answer came out before I could even think about it. “It’s what she wants.” Then I paused. “I mean, she doesn’t feel like I’ll keep her without it, I guess. And I want her to feel safe, to relax with me and not think that every time she turns around that I’ll send her back to Ian Pierce or worse.”

“What does your gut tell you?”

I sighed. “Collar her.”

The smile in his voice came through the line. “There you go.”

“Thanks,” I said sincerely. Logan had always been my voice of reason.

“That’s what I’m here for,” he said, and then added, “Oh and I expect to meet her soon. I feel a little left out.”

“I’m not sure, Logan.” I hesitated. “I mean, she’s very skittish.”

“That’s what Lily said, too. Hopefully this will help though, her wearing your collar.”

“Maybe,” I said, the doubt still clear in my voice.

“Call me if you need me. Or us. That girl of yours may need a friend of the non-male variety, and if she does Lily is available.”

“Logan, I couldn’t—”

“Stephan, we want to help.”

“Thank-you. I . . .”

“Not a problem, but I really should get back to Lily. She’s a little tied up at the moment.”

I couldn’t help but laugh at his joke. “Tell her I said hi.”

With that, we disconnected. I was still nervous but felt better about what I was about to do. It was just in time, too, since thirty seconds later I turned into my parking garage. Brianna was upstairs waiting for me.

Brianna

The second he left, I’d jumped up out of my seat, a huge smile on my face. He wanted to keep me! Even after I’d messed up yesterday morning and the whole thing at the zoo . . . Master wanted me.

Looking over his home, I was still in awe. I was really going to live here. Stay here with my Master.

It was then I realized that somewhere there had been a change in how I thought of him in my mind. I wanted to belong to Stephan. I wanted him to be my Master. I wanted him to
want
me to be his.

My eyes settled on the mess that was still in the kitchen. I would clean. Not just the kitchen, but the whole house. Well except for his bedroom and bathroom, which were off limits. He wouldn’t be back for a few hours at least, since he said he’d bring lunch with him. That would be plenty of time if I worked quickly.

It wasn’t hard to find most of the cleaning supplies. What I didn’t find under the sink was in a small closet in the pantry.

I dusted, cleaned mirrors, and vacuumed the downstairs before heading up to the library. I wasn’t sure I’d have time to take all the books off the shelf and put them back so, instead, I just dusted the tops and fronts, wherever I could reach. It wasn’t until I’d finished that I noticed a small little stairway, only three steps, in the back corner.

Up the steps were two doors. I tried the first, but it was locked. The second opened easily and was filled with gym equipment. This must have been where Master was this morning. I could tell he’d been working out. His breathing was heavier than normal, and he was wearing loose fitting shorts, like the ones he’d given me to wear last week. I didn’t notice what type of shirt he was wearing other than the color since I’d kept my head down.

The room had a distinct male scent and was clearly well used. I stood there for far too long lost in my thoughts. It looked so normal.

When I was finally able to pull myself back to reality, I got to work using the cleaner to wipe over all the exercise equipment. There were mirrors along the back wall, so I sprayed them down and made sure there were no streaks.

Finishing, I took a deep breath. The room smelled clean now, but there was still a hint of him that lingered. It just seemed to fit. I also realized that it almost smelled . . . good.

I quickly closed the door and went back down the stairs to put everything away. Going into the room he’d given me, I removed my clothes and headed into the bathroom to shower.

As I washed, my hand lingered over my empty neck. I didn’t understand why. If he wanted to keep me, why I was not wearing his collar? The first thing Ian did when I’d met him was force me to my knees with the help of two others and put his leather collar around my neck. I’d hated it. And I’d fought him. Them. Of course, the only thing my effort had gotten me was a black eye, a sore jaw and lots of bruises. A shiver ran through me.

Stepping into the water, I tried to forget my memories. Stephan. Stephan. Stephan. My new Master was all that mattered. I couldn’t see him being so mean, even though a part of me knew he must be. Sometimes at least.

Getting out of the shower, I dried off and went into the bedroom to dress. Even if Stephan beat me within an inch of my life or shared me with dozens of his friends, I would do it, and I would try to please him. All those things I’d suffered before, and I’d survived. At least now I had more than I’d ever thought I’d have again.

I didn’t want to go back to Ian. If I never saw him again it would be too soon. While I was with him, I was nothing, and I was reminded of it every day. My new Master was different. To say I wasn’t scared of Stephan would be a lie, but so far, he’d been kinder to me than anyone had in a long time. And he didn’t have to be. He owned me and could do whatever he wished.

Looking around, I once again took in all I’d been given since he’d brought me here only three days ago: a bed, clothes, hot water, and food that tasted good. Most people take those things for granted, but I knew better.

A bed was not needed nor deserved for a slave, according to Ian. Clothes beyond the . . . well, uniform Alex and I wore were nothing but items that got in the way of what was his. Hot water was a luxury and not to be granted to slaves unless as a reward. I’d never managed to please Ian enough to earn that. He viewed food almost the same as water. Twice a day we were given a bowl of either plain oatmeal or rice along with some sort of vegetable drink. It provided the nutrients we needed but did nothing for our taste buds, or at least mine. But again, Ian didn’t see tasty food as a requirement for a slave.

Stephan, my new Master, had given me all those things along with so much more. I didn’t know what I’d done to be offered this, but I would not make him sorry for his choice. If he ever did decide to put a collar on me, I would not fight him as I’d done Ian. I would take it willingly and let the chips fall where they may.

After I finished dressing, I looked at the clock. It was almost noon, and I figured he would be back soon, so I walked into the living area, taking the book he’d left outside my bedroom door last night with me. Curling up on the couch, I read until I heard the key turn in the lock.

Dropping the book quickly onto the coffee table, I rounded the corner and dropped to my knees just as he was opening the door. It was strange, but I knew the minute he saw me.

I heard him shut the door and then his heavy footfalls coming closer. He stopped in front of me; his shoes almost touching my knees. Suddenly, I felt his hand on my hair. It was soft and caressing, but soon it was gone.

He walked around me to the table we’d eaten breakfast at only hours before. “Join me, Brianna.”

As fast as I could manage, I stood and walked to him. He was sitting in the seat he’d been in earlier, so I did the same.

The first thing I noticed was a square black box. It looked like a jewelry box, a nice jewelry box. I wanted to ask what it was, but I didn’t dare.

Master pushed a sandwich in front of me, pulling my attention away from the box. “I got us each a club. If there is something on it you don’t like, you may remove it.” I nodded and took the sandwich.

When I opened the wrapping, I realized how huge it was. The meat was piled high between two thick slices of bread. I noticed there were both onions and peppers so I removed them and put them on the side of the paper before taking a small bite. It was really good. I hadn’t been terribly hungry, but this had to be the best sandwich I’d ever eaten.

Before I knew it, I was finished. I glanced up enough to see that Master was, too. He’d been waiting for me.

Then he stood and removed the papers and napkins, taking them into the kitchen. He was in there for longer than it took to throw the things away, and I started to get nervous. But then I heard him walking back toward me and a glass of water appeared. “Drink,” he said. His voice was not unkind, but it was not a suggestion either.

I finished the entire glass of water while he watched me. A year ago it would have bothered me to be watched so closely. Now, it didn’t faze me, especially when it was him. I wasn’t sure why that was exactly since Ian’s gaze always made me nervous.

Setting the glass back down on the table, he moved it out of the way before reaching for the black box I’d noticed earlier. Master opened it to reveal a metal circle. It was silver in color, plain but pretty.

His voice brought me out of my haze. “Do you know what this is, Brianna?”

I shook my head, “No, Master.”

He reached out and brought my chin up until my eyes met his. “This is for you. It will mean you belong to me.”

My collar? I was confused again. This was a necklace, not a collar. Would he really give me something so beautiful to show his ownership?

As if he could somehow read my mind, he continued. “I am giving you a choice, Brianna, and it is an important one. If you choose to wear this, you will be mine. Your needs, your wants, your well-being will belong to me. And you should know something else. I do not share. You will belong to me and only me for as long as you wear this.”

Then he was silent, and my mind raced through everything he’d just said.

When he spoke again, his voice was softer. “What do you choose?”

I didn’t have to think about it. Not really. I’d already made my choice. He was my new Master, and as long as he wanted me, I would be his. But instead of answering verbally, I showed him my desire. Sliding somewhat less than gracefully from my chair, I knelt before him with my hands in my lap and my head bowed.

BOOK: Slave
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