The First New Masters of the Castle Book in the Witness Protection Boxed Set
Only 7 days left to go before the release of the Masters of the Castle boxed set: Witness Protection Program. Eight new stories by ten awesome authors, for only $.87 each. This price will only last until the boxed set is released, so hurry and get your copy today!
Want a sneak peak at the stories inside? Take a look at this one, Taming Terri by Rayanna Jamison and Allysa Hart.
Throwing the ball as hard as she could, Terri O’Connell watched with a smile as her K-9 companion Champ leapt to his feet and took off in chase of it. It was their day off and starting the morning with exercise was not her preference, but Champ needed it, and if she was honest with herself, she could stand to shed a pound or two. Her cell phone chimed in her pocket, and she smiled to herself. The obnoxious ringtone was the one she reserved for Nick. Nicholas Caruso was her partner and best friend. At the station, he was the one man who treated her like she deserved to be part of their unit, and she loved him for it.
She looked at the message and froze, frowning in confusion. Why would the captain need to see me on my day off? Dread filled her stomach as she went over every mistake she had ever made at work, which was a short list, if you could even call it a list. Champ nudged her hand with the tip of his wet nose.
“Sorry, boy, playtime is over. We’ve got to go see the boss.”
Champ groaned, and she laughed. Either he had perfect timing or he understood every word she said to him. She believed the latter, but Nick always teased her about it, so she kept the conversations with her pup to a minimum when he was around.
The two jogged to the car and headed home to freshen up. Terri needed to look her best to face the captain, plus she wasn’t a fan of Nick seeing her out of sorts either.
“You wanted to see us, sir?” Terri asked, more timidly than she planned. Why did this man intimidate her so much? Captain Blackwell of the Garfield Heights Police Department wasn’t mean, but no one would call him friendly either. He was all business and built like a brick wall. At 6’4”, he dwarfed all of the officers in the precinct.
“Where’s Nick?” The captain ignored the question, looking past her for her partner. She tried not to let it annoy her too much. It made sense that whatever it was, he would want to speak to them both at once, but the slight felt like the same blatant sexism she dealt with daily.
“I’m here, Cap.” She jumped at the sound of Nick’s voice and held back the urge to elbow him in the gut. He loved to make her jump, even kept score.
“Seventy-one,” he whispered as he slipped between her and the door to take a seat across the desk from their boss. He set his coffee mug down in front of him and her purple travel cup in front of the other empty seat. Terri sighed. At least he had a few redeeming qualities. Champ stayed by her side and sat when she sat. She absentmindedly reached her hand out to rest on his head. His presence kept her calm and helped her focus. She couldn’t imagine life without him.
“I’ve got an assignment from Granger for the three of you,” the captain announced, setting a file in front of them. Granger was a small town, about thirty minutes south of Garfield Heights. The precinct there did not have the resources to employ their own K-9 unit. “Grace Barnes. She is the key witness in a high priority case involving the assassination of Denton Walding. Harvey Cabena and Winston Ollington were the only two other witnesses, and they have since been killed. Apprehending Carmen “The Butcher” Massino is imperative to ensuring the safety of the only remaining witness. Ms. Barnes is currently hiding out near Granger.” He pulled an information packet out of the back of the file folder and set it on top.
Terri reached out and took it, staring at the photo of the stone castle on the front. It didn’t seem like the most inconspicuous place to hide out, but it was definitely an impressive piece of architecture.
“What is this place?” she asked thumbing through the papers, just as Nick hissed through his teeth beside her.
“It’s a sex resort of some sort. Dungeons, whips, and chains. All that kinky shit.”
Her mouth dropped open in surprise, and she stumbled to gather her thoughts, but her next question had gone right out of her head as soon as Captain Blackwell said whips and chains.
“Why would Ms. Barnes hide there?” Nick recovered more quickly than she and took over the line of questions. She eyed him incredulously, waiting for her knight in faded blue denim to take over and protest, to tell Cap where to shove it and that they were absolutely not about to go undercover at some sort of kinky sex resort. No way, no how. To her utter horror, Nick did nothing of the sort. He didn’t even look the tiniest bit upset or apprehensive about the assignment as he waited for the captain to answer.
“The resort, if that’s what we are calling it, is owned by Grace’s cousin, Marshall Leaf. He seems to think he can protect her better than witness protection, so here we are, giving up our own officers to cover their asses.”
Incredulous, Terri spaced out and stopped listening to the conversation. This had to be some sort of nightmare. Nick loved to prank her. Had he somehow gotten the captain to go along with this epic falsehood and help him? That had to be it, didn’t it? It had to be, because a kinky BDSM sex resort in rural Ohio… That couldn’t be a real thing… could it? How? Weren’t there laws against this kind of thing?
“Earth to T,” Nick whispered, nudging her arm.
“Sorry, I just can’t even believe this is for real.”
“Believe it, O’Connell,” the captain blustered, smirking at her in a way that made her sick to her stomach. “The district attorney wants the bomb squad present, but Leaf will only allow it if you remain inconspicuous as to not interfere with the other guests. You, Nick, and Champ need to get in there and blend in somehow. I don’t care how and, quite frankly, I would rather not know, but your mission is to keep the girl safe. Leaf will give you access to the entire building. Your job is to make sure that no outside weapons enter the premises. With vacationers coming and going every day, Champ is going to be very busy, and you two need to stay on top of it all.”
“Champ can handle it,” Terri assured, reaching down to give her buddy a scratch behind the ears without taking her eyes off the paperwork in front of her.
“It’s not Champ I’m worried about; it’s the two of you. You especially. Don’t mess this up, O’Connell.”
Irritated at the unfair attitude, she glanced at Nick again, waiting for him to stick up for her like he usually did. Nick didn’t so much as send a sympathetic glance in her direction as his attention bounced between the captain and the info packet sitting in his lap. She scowled. What was with him today?
“How are we supposed to blend in? We know nothing about a place like this, and a dog is not exactly inconspicuous,” Nick questioned, staring intently at the captain.
“Damned if I know,” the captain bristled. “That’s your job.” He turned away from them, looking as if he was already finished with the conversation. “Fill out the paperwork and fax it to Leaf tonight,” he instructed, gesturing to the file folder in Nick’s lap, “and then be ready to leave tomorrow morning.” With that, Captain Blackwell nodded smartly and exited the room, yelling across the station as he left. Terri turned to Nick and pinned him with an accusatory glare. How could he possibly be this calm? Going along with this ridiculous assignment like it wasn’t the most asinine offensive job that they had ever been handed. “What the hell, Nick?”
Nick just shrugged, tapping the thick folder against his leg as he sipped his coffee. “Looks like we better get reading. We have less than twenty-four hours to come up with a plan.”
“What on God’s green earth are you laughing at?” Terri demanded, stomping over to him with her hands on her hips. “There is nothing funny about any of this. It’s serious.”
He held back a chuckle. This was precisely the reason he hadn’t tried to introduce her to kink when they were dating. He had known exactly how she would take it. But this wasn’t their love life, this was a job, and he was going to enjoy it. If he happened to change her mind in the process, that would just be the proverbial icing on the cake. Either way, vacationing at the Castle had been a dream of his for many years. He hadn’t ever thought he would be visiting there under these circumstances, but he would take what he could get.
“You aren’t acting very submissive,” he teased with a wink. “Might want to work on that.”
“Oh my God, I hate you so much right now.” Her cheeks tinged red, and her eyes sparkled with emotion, but he couldn’t tell if it was embarrassment or anger. “I’m not a doormat. How am I supposed to act like one?”
Sighing at her misconception, Nick clicked his tongue against his teeth and shook his head. He had been mid-daydream about her bent over a spanking bench in the dungeon two minutes ago, but with the way she was acting, and her reaction to the situation, a daydream was as far as he was gonna get, it seemed. “You need to do some research. You’re making assumptions, and something like that could blow our whole cover.”
Terri wasn’t ready to listen to reason. “Why else would someone bow to a man? If I would have known exactly what Cap was sending us into I would have told him to shove it.”
“Sure you would have.” He rolled his eyes. Terri put up with a lot in order to prove her worth to Cap and the other guys at the station. It pissed him off because she was worth more than several of them put together. “It’s only pretend, T,” he spoke evenly, reminding himself as well as her. “It’s a job, and Champ and I will be with you the whole time.”
She fell heavily into the chair across from him and huffed. He bit back a smile. He wasn’t stupid enough to tell her, but she looked adorable when she pouted. “This is not what I signed up for, Nick.”
Her obvious reluctance and disdain for the Castle and the assignment as a whole irked him. “Knock it off. This is exactly what we signed on for, and you know it, T. Think of it this way, once this is over and that woman is safe, you will be proud of yourself, and you will earn more respect from the asshats at work.”
Her head rocked back against the chair with all of the dramatic flair of a spoiled teenager. “Fine-uh. But there is no way in hell we are going to participate in any of that shit.” She sat up and glared at him. There was something in her eyes that gave him the smallest glimmer of hope. Defiance, but there was something else, a hint of a challenge maybe? Nick suppressed a smirk. He wasn’t one to back down from a challenge, no matter how small.
“You better be a good girl then, because I’m not going to let you make me look bad.”
Her eyes widened, and her throat quivered as she tried not to gulp at the implication of his words. She stared at him in silence for a full minute before she recovered. When she did, her eyes narrowed into tiny slits, and her lips pursed in anger. “That’s enough out of you!” she sputtered. “How do you know so much about this crap anyway?”
He hesitated for a split second, wondering how much to reveal. He needed her to go on this job with him, so honesty was the only choice he saw. He shrugged nonchalantly and gave her a guilty-looking half smile. “Well, I was a teenage boy at one time, and between my hormones and technical skills it wasn’t impossible to find things on the internet.”
“Back during the time of dial-up?” She squealed, her voice making the sounds of a computer connecting to the web.
“Yes, brat, dial-up and no Wi-Fi. Can you imagine?”
He was only a few years older than her, but she never let him forget it.
“The horror!” Her sass and smile were back as she dramatically threw the back of her hand across her forehead and let her head fall against the back of the chair again.
“Enough dramatics, brat. You need to look at all this stuff with me and answer these questions so I can send it to Leaf.”
Her cheeks puffed out, and her lips curled in disgust. Her eyes couldn’t have rolled any farther back into her head if she tried. “I really couldn’t care less. It’s all Greek to me. You fill it out, and I will just play my part.”
“That’s not how this works. I need a little cooperation at least,” he growled.
“How about I make you some of your favorite pizza, and you just take care of it?” She clasped her hands in her lap and tilted her head. It was the sexy-as-fuck batting of her eyelashes that did him in.
“Oh, now you’re playing dirty.” He shook his head. It wouldn’t be too difficult to fill it out for her. He knew her well enough to answer most of the information. The rest he could match to his answers. “Fine, but if there isn’t extra cheese and pineapple, we will be having a practice spanking session right after dinner,” he teased, only half joking.
“Try it,” she murmured with what was an obvious dare. “I will kick you in the balls.”
He knew her well enough to know that she probably would and wanted her enough that he just might risk it, he mused to himself, watching as she stomped to the refrigerator and started throwing ingredients onto the counter.
He laughed out loud. “Don’t tempt me,” he countered, just to watch her squirm before turning his attention back to the paperwork in question. He finished the second page and started on the third, when she cursed loudly, interrupting him. “Fuck!”
He looked up to see her rummaging in the cupboard, obviously agitated. “What’s wrong?”
She slammed the door closed and turned, pinning him with an accusing glare. “I’m out of pineapple.”
A loud burst of laughter escaped from him before he could stop it. “Wait, where are you going?” he asked as she stomped by him.
She looked all kinds of pissed as she tugged her purse off the hook on the wall. “To get some damn pineapple, where the hell do you think?”
“You know you really should clean up your language,” he advised with a smirk. “The other subbies are going to think I’m soft.” The look she gave him told him she couldn’t give a damn about what he or anyone else at the Castle thought. “Put your purse down. I’ll go pick up some pineapple.” He couldn’t hold back his laughter as he walked by and kissed her on the head on his way out the door.
She glared at him. “I hate when you do that.”
“I know.” He winked and walked out to his car, still chuckling over the damn pineapple as he turned the key in the ignition and backed out of her driveway, lost in thought.
The way he was feeling right now, this weekend would either be pure magic or pure hell. He could expect one thing and hope for the other, but what he couldn’t do any longer was deny the fact that he was in love with her. The writing had been on the wall for a while now. They had dated on and off over the years, but he had never been able to bring himself to fully admit his feelings or let his bedroom proclivities be known. Ultimately, his secret had probably been the catalyst that tore them apart, but they had remained friends, growing closer as time went on.
Nick sighed heavily as he pulled into the small grocery store in the center of town. It was time to fish or cut bait. If he didn’t fess up, she would move on and find somebody else. It would kill him.
He thought about the Castle and all of the possibilities it opened up. If he was ever going to show the real him, that would be the place to do it. Besides, she knew him well. His dominance wouldn’t come as that much of a surprise, would it? He sat in the car for a moment before entering the store, pondering the dynamics of their relationship. She definitely defaulted to him when they weren’t at work. She seemed to have an innate need to serve and please those around her. It was evident in the little things she often did, like making his favorite pizza or bringing him leftovers after she ‘cooked too much for herself.’ She made too much on purpose, but he would never complain or even point out how often she did it.
In turn, he loved taking care of her. Bringing her coffee when she dragged her butt into work in the morning, buying her lunch when she refused to eat because of some new fad diet she was trying. He loathed her diets. No matter how many times he reassured her, her self-image was terrible, and she was constantly on some kick about ‘shedding a few pounds.’
Huffing to himself, he got out of the car and strode into the store. “Just for that, I’m also buying dessert,” he mumbled to himself.
She could not resist pistachio ice cream, especially if they had it in her favorite brand. He walked down the aisles grabbing what he needed and then headed to the beer cooler. How could he fully enjoy his special pizza without beer?
He got in line to pay and his cell phone chimed. He looked at the screen and chuckled. It was a text from Terri.
I’m locking the door and not letting you in unless you have ice cream and beer.
I have a key.
I will burn your pizza!
Calm down, brat. I’m already in line. You will have to deal with what I got.
Just remember, your pizza’s life is on the line.
He shook his head and pocketed the phone. He loved her fire and sass. There were definitely times he would have liked to tip her over his knee and spank some sense into her, but she would never have let him. Not until this trip at least. She wasn’t going to have a choice in the matter any longer. He would make sure of that.
Taming Terri is only available in the Masters of the Castle Witness Protection Program boxed set. Get your copy today while the pre-order sale price is still in effect!
Also, have you entered to win Allysa Hart’s and Rayanna Jamison’s special giveaway? Click the picture below for details.