The Fourth in the Masters of the Castle Witness Protection Boxed Set
The new exciting addition to the Masters of the Castle boxed set, Witness Protection Program, is now live. Eight new stories by ten awesome authors, for only $.87 each. This price will not last much longer, so hurry and get your copy today!
Want a sneak peak at the stories inside? Take a look at this one, Freeing Fawn by Golden Angel!
“One last job, and then your debt will be paid,” Don Lenzo said. Sitting across his massive desk from her, his presence dominated the room without even trying. Even the bodyguards who were off to the side didn’t impinge on her senses with the same kind of warning as the don himself. He smiled almost delightedly as he broke the good news, but Fawn knew his warm brown eyes were a lie, the cajoling quality of his tone a trick. While he wanted to appear a jolly Santa Claus type, he could turn cold and mean in an instant.
She’d seen it happen too many times to count, even if his icy anger and calculated violence had never been directed at her. She was careful never to provoke him, which was why she didn’t remind him that it wasn’t really her debt, it was her father’s. Unfortunately, her father was now slowly dying in a nursing home and had no way to pay his debt, so it had fallen on her.
The mob didn’t make allowances for health problems.
Her father had gotten in deep with them when she was a young girl and they’d been happy to utilize his skill as a master thief and burglar for their own purposes. Fawn had been raised to the craft as well, something she now resented her father for. All she wanted was a normal life, but that was hard to have when the mob had her on call.
One last job…
When Don Lenzo said something, he meant it. While he may be a mobster—head mobster—he was honorable about his agreements. Which meant she would finally be free.
Wariness gripped her, because by her calculations, it was unlikely she would be able to pay off the last of the money her father owed with just a single haul… unless he wanted her to steal the Hope Diamond or something. In which case she was probably fucked and going to jail so it really would be the last job, but not in a way that would benefit herself or her father.
“What’s the job?” she asked.
Don Lenzo smiled, looking almost grandfatherly. His dark brown hair was sprinkled liberally with grey and he had plenty of laugh and smile lines among his wrinkles. Which made his next words all the more disturbing, even though she knew his cheery face hid a completely ruthless personality.
He pulled a folder off of the top of a stack and set it down on the desk between them, flipping it open to reveal a photograph of an imposing dark-haired man with a soul patch on his chin. While he wasn’t bad looking, there was also something greasy looking about him. Maybe it was his hair. Still, she didn’t quite understand why she was being shown a picture of a man.
“I need you to kill him.”
She’d been automatically reaching for the photo, but at his words she snapped her fingers away and pulled back as if burned. Wide eyed with shock, she stared at him, unable to believe what she’d just heard.
Still smiling – which was so incredibly creepy considering the topic of conversation – Don Lenzo leaned back, his expression almost indulgent. “I will explain. I need to send a message to this man’s boss, as he recently interfered in my business. However, this man – Mario Ricci – is very good at what he does; the men I would normally use for a job such as this haven’t been able to get close to him. I think a woman, one who is obviously not an experienced assassin, will have a better chance.
Also, as we reach the end of your debt, I want to ensure you have good reason to keep quiet about the dealings we’ve had over the years. There are many things the feds will forgive, but murder is not one of them. So. I need this man dead and I need to ensure your silence. This way, I kill two birds with one stone.”
The silent menace beneath his cheerful explanation made Fawn feel sick as she realized what he wasn’t saying.
It was this man’s life… or hers.
She should have realized leaving the mob wouldn’t be as easy as completing her jobs and then moving on to live a normal life. Anxiety and fear churned her stomach, a nauseating mix that made sweat break out on her forehead.
“Now don’t look so scared, little Fawn,” Don Lenzo said, using the nickname he’d given her long ago when her father had brought her to meetings with him. Before she knew what he was. He used to give her candy. The concern he now pretended just made her feel even sicker. “I have every faith in you.”
Flipping the folder closed, he pushed it towards her. Her hands shaking, knowing she had no choice, Fawn picked it up with nerveless fingers. Either way this was very likely going to end in her death. Running wasn’t an option – Don Lenzo would just kill her father and she couldn’t live with that on her conscience, not knowing she had a chance to save him.
“He’s a bad man, Fawn,” Don Lenzo said, his voice soft, almost cajoling. “You’ll be doing the world a favor by getting rid of him. He’s hurt a lot of people.”
Strangely, that did actually make her feel a little better – at least about the idea of killing someone. It made her feel a lot worse about her chances. But… there was a reason Don Lenzo was asking this of her. She believed him when he said the others he’d sent before hadn’t managed to get close to the man. Mob men were paranoid, but they did tend to have one weakness; they often underestimated women.
She was a thief, a very good one, not a killer but… to free herself and her father, to start her normal life and know she was safe from both her past and Don Lenzo’s own paranoia about whether or not she’d talk… she would do this. She had to.
“Where am I supposed to find him?” she asked, trying to treat this like any other job, but her voice sounding odd, as if she was hearing it from a distance. Yeah, she was definitely not okay.
“Everything’s in that folder there,” Don Lenzo said, nodding at it. “You’re going to a place called the Castle.”
The Castle – where ‘no’ meant yes and ‘onion’ meant no. It was an honest-to-goodness Scottish castle, moved from Scotland to the middle of Ohio, and it was every bit as impressive as it had been described to him. So was the man currently staring impassively at Dane from behind a large, mahogany desk. The Master of the Masters. Rumor had it that a subbie never left this room before being spanked. Dane believed it.
Having an FBI agent badge to flash impressed a lot of people, but not Marshall Leaf, owner of the exclusive BDSM resort known as the Castle. Dane had heard about it but never visited, although his partner Luke Montgomery actually worked here in between cases. Luke had encouraged him to visit before, but Dane had always been happy at his home club in Washington DC and hadn’t felt the need.
Now he wished he had, because convincing Master Marshall that he should be allowed on site, undercover as one of the Castle employees no less, when he’d never met the man wasn’t exactly a walk in the park. Actually, it had felt a lot more like an interrogation. At one point he’d even wondered if they might be able to call the man in on some questioning sessions in the future… he’d be damn good at it.
The Castle was obviously his passion, maybe even his baby, and he was protective of it. Dane didn’t blame him for that at all, but he desperately needed onto the Castle grounds. He and Luke had been hunting the man known as Carmen ‘The Butcher’ Massino for months and they’d seen firsthand exactly how brutal the man could be. The bodies of his victims occasionally haunted Dane’s dreams, especially after he’d seen the aftermath firsthand not long ago. Marshall’s cousin Grace was now in Carmen’s sights and there was no way the man was going to leave a loose-end open.
It was the first loose-end Dane and Luke had been able to grab onto almost since they’d started chasing Carmen. Hunting him was basically a fucked up, brutal version of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego, and the clues were guns, drugs, and bodies. His last victim in particular, Susan Mills… she’d been their witness against Carmen and finding her mutilated body had impacted both Luke and Dane deeply.
Marshall was convinced that Carmen would never make it past the Castle’s admittedly impressive security, but he also didn’t know Carmen. The man was more slippery than an eel and a master of disguise and fake identities. This was where Grace was and so this was where Carmen would be, Dane could feel it in his gut and so could Luke. And when both of them felt something, they were rarely wrong. Grace Barnes was in deadly danger and neither of them was willing to let her down. They hadn’t been able to save Susan, but they were damned if they wouldn’t be in position to save Grace.
So Dane had patiently sat through Marshall’s interrogation, answering all his questions – even the ones he knew Marshall had already thoroughly questioned Patrick Murphy, owner of the BDSM club Dane belonged to back home, about. Marshall obviously wasn’t leaving anything to chance and Dane respected that.
“All right,” Marshall said, practically growling the words. “You’ll do. Which program in the Castle do you want to join?” He looked Dane up and down with an assessing eye. “You’d make a good pirate.”
That was part of the Castle’s requirements – everyone was in costume and playing a role. Something which would suit Carmen perfectly and Dane… well, he was probably going to struggle a little. Role play had never been his strong suit, but he was willing to do whatever he needed to in order to catch his bad guy.
“I was hoping maybe I could familiarize myself with the grounds and the players before I chose,” he said, a little hesitantly.
To his relief, Marshall nodded. “That’s probably a good idea if we’re going to make sure you blend in.”
The Castle owner gave Dane a sharp look, his blue eyes like lasers, probably trying to assess just how well he was going to blend in. While he seemed resigned to having him there, he obviously wasn’t entirely comfortable with the situation, no matter what recommendation Dane brought with him or how knowledgeable he proved himself.
Fortunately for Dane, before Marshall could resume interrogating him – which seemed all too likely – there was a knock on Marshall’s door and it opened immediately. Dane was even more relieved to see Luke entering. Backup at last.
“Good to see you again, Luke,” Marshall said. “Dane and I have gotten acquainted—” Well, that was one way to put it. “—and he’s convinced me he has enough experience he can blend in with the Masters and subs this weekend. I still don’t like it though.”
“That goes without saying,” Luke said, before glancing at Dane. He sent his partner a rueful grin to let him know he’d survived. “Welcome to the Castle, partner.”
“Thanks, I think,” Dane drawled.
“This guy would have to be Houdini to get past my security. Grace is safe here, I’d bet my reputation on it,” Marshall said, venting his obvious frustration.
Dane bit back the response on the tip of his tongue—as far as they should all be concerned, Carmen might as well be Houdini. He let Luke answer though; the long history the two had together would make his words far more meaningful than anything Dane could say.
“Don’t underestimate him,” Luke replied, his voice deepening slightly with emotion. “I did that once and showed you the results. I won’t do so again, even if it puts our friendship, and my membership here, at risk.”
Marshall’s lips tightened.
“Luke’s right.” Dane decided to speak up now, seeing the man swaying just a touch after Luke’s testimonial. “Carmen is about as bad as they come, literally no conscience.”
He could see the resignation in Marshall’s eyes as he sighed. The door opened again and all three men turned to look at the newcomers. A pretty brunette, petite and curvy and looking like she might give birth any minute, came in with the woman he immediately recognized as Grace Barnes. While Luke greeted the brunette—whom Dane quickly realized was Marshall’s pregnant wife, Kaylee—Dane took the opportunity to study Grace in person as she sat down on one of the settees.
She seemed calm, despite the situation, which was good. Nervous, but not fearful. At least not outwardly. Her head turned slightly, tracking the people talking, and if he hadn’t known she was blind he might not have guessed it immediately.
“Grace, Agents Montgomery and Morgan are here. They’re just going to introduce themselves, let you hear their voices so you’ll recognize them if need be,” Marshall said, his tone full of a gentleness he definitely hadn’t shown Dane. Marshall’s wife took a seat next to Grace and squeezed her hand reassuringly.
Luke moved first, striding to the settee and placing his hand on Grace’s shoulder. “I’m Agent Montgomery, or Master M, Grace, whichever you prefer. I’m just one of several people who will be around to ensure you stay safe, even though the odds of Carmen finding you here are slim to none.”
Dane winced. Neither he nor Luke really believed that, but it was better if Grace remained calm and unafraid. They weren’t really worried she would let her guard down; no matter how many reassurances she was given.
“Thank you,” she said softly. “I appreciate everyone’s concern.”
Stepping forward, Dane lightly touched her hand. “And I’m Agent Morgan, or Master D, Grace. It’s nice to meet you, although I wish it were under better circumstances.”
He really did too. Even though this was their first chance at Carmen in months, he would never have willingly chosen an innocent to be drawn into the man’s web. Catching Carmen was their priority, but Dane would be damned if he allowed the woman in front of him to be hurt while they did so.
A small smile curved Grace’s lips and she tilted her head up towards him. “Thank you, both of you.”
A few minutes later they were dismissed from the Master’s office. Without the spanking the subbies got before they were allowed to leave.
Holy mother of cannoli, what had she gotten herself into this time?
Fawn’s head felt like it was spinning when she finally set down the folder Don Lenzo had given her. It hadn’t just provided information on her target, who was the right hand man to some guy named Carmen and presumably the man Don Lenzo wanted to send the message to, it also had a full information packet on the Castle along with her reservation to the place.
Yeah. Don Lenzo’s explanation of “it’s a specialized resort” before dismissing her from his office had been more than an understatement, it had been misleading. BDSM? Masters and submissives? Littles? Ponies? Everyone dressed up and playing a part while spending the weekend in an actual 15th century Scottish castle complete with a dungeon and gaolers? Oh, she was so in over her head.
She’d barely had time for a few one-night stands here and there during the past few years between trying to keep her own head above water, her dad in the long-term care he needed, and fulfilling the mob’s demands. Now she was supposed to go find and kill some guy who was going to be at a sex resort getting his freak on?
Even worse, some of the stuff in the brochure… well, it kind of appealed. A lot. How was she supposed to do the most harrowing job of her life when she was distracted by… all the things? The naughty, dirty, kinky, fascinating things that were already succeeding in distracting her from the fact that she was supposed to kill a man.
Or maybe there was some part of her that wanted to be distracted. That wouldn’t surprise her either.
Of course, the fact that she couldn’t even remember the last time she’d masturbated didn’t help. Just reading the brochure had made her nipples tingle and kicked her libido up… all while she was planning an honest-to-goodness assassination.
Groaning, she put her head down on her kitchen table and gently banged her forehead on the hard wood.
“I’m so fucked.”
And not in the good way that the Castle advertised.
Freeing Fawn 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!