March 5, 2014
Book Four - Appointment with Pleasure series
At an erotic auction, she’s his to bid on…to take…to command.
The night’s sultry, filled with carnal promise as Tessa participates in an agency event to raise money for charity. She’s chained and bared—as women were once displayed for a sultan’s harem—her sweet looks and full figure offered to the wealthy and powerful men.
Among them is Logan. To him, Tessa is so different from his late wife, the seemingly perfect female who cruelly stole his hope and future. Wanting only to forget and have a good time, he wins Tessa, demanding she be his in every way possible, engaging in all wanton acts, though not only for an evening…for seven sensuous days at his secluded Virginia estate.
A provocative proposal with such a dangerously virile man.
A week that changes everything, with Tessa’s exquisite vulnerability and Logan’s suddenly unquenchable desire more than either bargained for.
Chapter One Excerpt
Copyright © 2014 Tina Donahue
All rights reserved — an Ellora's Cave Publication
All rights reserved — an Ellora's Cave Publication
Tessa stared in the direction of the stage. Being alone with a man she’d talked with, a guy who was already on his way to liking and accepting her for who she was, which wasn’t perfect, was one thing. Fantasizing about how it might have been to be auctioned off for a sultan’s harem was another. However, standing alone on a stage, nude and vulnerable to criticism or indifference from a bunch of strangers, was something else entirely. She’d hoped to see at least one of her regulars here, but hadn’t.
Her wanton musings from earlier faded beneath the coming reality, which brought Tessa to another matter. A truly depressing thought. “When I’m out there, what if there aren’t any bids?”
What if no one wanted her enough to pay any price, no matter how small, which all of these men could easily afford?
Aw please, not that.
This was for a good cause, the slave auction scenario all make believe. No escort would have to do anything she didn’t want to do or was ever in any danger from an agency client. Ronnie screened the men too well. Still, Tessa figured no one had thought to ask if they’d reject any of the ladies during this auction. Even though the agency catered to all tastes, with some of the men preferring her type—curvy or Rubenesque depending upon who you talked to—what if no one like that was in this audience? “Has that ever happened before…not getting even one bid?”
“Quit worrying, you look great.”
Tessa looked as she always did, nowhere near slender enough for most guys, and hid her doubt with a joke. “Yeah, I know. But will Ronnie allow me to bid on myself?”
Felicity gave her a fierce hug, then drenched her with Ralph Lauren’s Romance, Tessa’s preferred fragrance.
“You’re beautiful,” Felicity said while Tessa was still batting at the perfumed mist and clearing her throat from the fumes. “Don’t ever forget that. When you’re out there, don’t worry about the bid.”
“How am I supposed to do that if there aren’t any?”
Felicity sighed as though she didn’t know what to say, then whispered, “Fantasize.”
“Okay. About looking like you? Being sought after? Adored?”
“About what this night is trying to represent.”
“A way to get money for various charities?”
“No. I meant the slave market thing. Get yourself into the mood. Imagine it’s way back when and you’re really in one of those places. Your ship was captured by pirates or something. You’re a prize among all the other women. An aristocrat from England, maybe a freaking princess, who’s now being purchased for the sultan’s harem. He’s dark and dangerous, pure male lust wrapped up in a body and face that won’t quit. Think of his first touch, his hands stripping you, then exploring your body with a right that no one—especially you—can take from him. Imagine the feel of his mouth on yours, his lips soft and warm compared to his beard-roughened cheeks, macho as all hell. His weight and heat trapping you, exciting you.”
Tessa wasn’t certain whether to pant or giggle. “Seriously?”
Felicity planted her hand on her hip. “You have a better idea?”
Nope. All Tessa could think about was how she’d felt in middle and high school when no one picked her for the soccer or softball teams. How the other kids had talked about her while she was present, as though she were an inanimate object without feelings. Making fun of how she looked, walked, ran, breathed. That had been beyond painful.
However, lunch periods were the worst when her friends had hooked up with their guys. They’d tried to include her in what they’d said, but the boys weren’t having it. They wanted to share furtive kisses and secrets with their girls. Even as Tessa’s body had ached with embarrassment, she’d tried to look interested in conversations that excluded her. What other choice did she have except to eat alone or with other people who didn’t want her in their groups?
She eyed the other escorts who strolled past, plainly at ease with their allure and the weird shoes all of them wore…made of wood with tall heels. Pattens, Ronnie had called them, what harem women had worn in days gone by. Probably because their master knew the shoes wouldn’t be easy to flee in.
“Try not to look so bummed,” Felicity advised. “Submissive, yes. Worried, no. Remember, we’re doing this for a good cause.”
Right. And it was too late to turn back now. Stoically, Tessa took her place at the appropriate column. The panels surrounding it were together again, hiding this area from the audience. She donned the hooded cloak that covered her from head to toe, the mauve silk lightweight and coolish against her skin.
Brian—a male escort dressed in a flowing white robe and headdress a sheik would love—snapped a pair of gold manacles around her wrists. For this event, he was the slave trader. Handsome as sin, he gave her a conspiratorial wink.
Tessa offered a weak smile.
Felicity leaned in and murmured, “Think of the pirate ship, the sultan.”
Brian lifted his dark eyebrows, clearly not understanding that directive. To Tessa, he said, “You ready, sweetheart?”
“She is,” Felicity assured and stepped back.
He positioned the cloak so the fabric hid Tessa’s body completely. With that finished, she pictured him grabbing his whip and standing at her side, ready for the show. Just as he’d done with all the others.
Music swelled, drums drowning out what had sounded like flutes and a female voice trilling something. Blood pounded in Tessa’s ears, muting it all. With her face lowered, all she could see was the purplish sheen of her cape. She sensed the panels in front of her parting, the stage displayed. Beyond it were a series of steps descending to a stone walkway flanked with splashing fountains, which eventually led to the crowd…the one man who was supposed to win her for an evening.
A full day was reserved for goddesses like Felicity. With her participation in this event, Ronnie would probably have enough funds to build a community college for young women.
The microphone screeched with brief feedback. Tessa made a face. Ronnie said something Tessa didn’t quite catch.
She bit her bottom lip, and decided to hell with it. She was going to take Felicity’s advice and fantasize.
“He’s dark and dangerous,” Felicity had said.
His features would be masculine, strong, slightly rough, his face shadowed with his coming beard. No, wait. He’d have a mustache and a closely cropped goatee, that hair as dark as his eyebrows. His eyes would be black, piercing, his skin a deep bronze, his lips satiny, his mouth full and rich.
He’d move into her with a right given him by birth, as a ruler. As a male. Looking down at her, he’d smile, shameless lust transforming his features, making him seem even more dangerous. Sex would be on his terms. He’d take her in any manner he chose. Orally, vaginally, anally, his strength precluding escape, his stiffened cock demanding its due, all that she could—
Tessa’s cunt stopped aching with need as her hood fell away. Or rather, Brian had pulled it back. Instinctively, she lifted her head, her attention darting everywhere, much as she suspected a real captive would have behaved, not knowing what to expect. A part of her mind recorded water spraying from the fountains, the again-subdued music, rich and seductive. Ronnie’s voice. The muted conversations of the ladies with their so-called masters.
Those men who hadn’t yet made their selections were quiet. Tessa regarded each. Some were listening to Ronnie. Others glanced at Tessa’s cloak, no doubt wanting it off.
With a flourish, Brian complied and pulled the thing from her, then lifted her arms above her head, securing her shackled wrists to the column.
Tessa stiffened at being exposed in every way possible. There was no hiding her nudity or expression up here, not with the lights trained on her. They weren’t fully intrusive, just enough illumination to exhibit, making her the brightest spot among all the shadows and the torches’ flickering flames. The toasty breeze skimmed the faint moisture on her cunt and licked her nipples, puckering them even more so that the tips appeared that much longer. Areas Felicity’s makeup had accentuated.
Perspiration prickled Tessa’s neck. Her heart beat out of time, the pose she struck both daunting and oddly arousing. There was absolutely nothing to compare to this…being chained and displayed. A sensation of delicious helplessness. Intense vulnerability.
Especially as no one spoke up.
Embarrassment drove heat to Tessa’s throat and cheeks. The music played on and on. Each second crawled by while her mind raced. Would her part in the auction stop when the piece ended even though no one had offered a price? Would Ronnie call for an intermission then, or would she want to continue with the rest of the event as quickly as—
Someone called out a bid.
Tessa’s heart paused. She hadn’t hear the amount. It didn’t matter. One man, at least, craved her.
Who? She studied the audience. A guy, forty or so, smiled with kindness, rather than lust, no doubt sensing and seeing her uncertainty. She offered her own smile in return, liking his sympathetic manner, wondering if he was the one who’d bid on her.
No. He’d already turned to the server and was now pointing at his drink as though he wanted a new one more than anything else.
So who had made the offer?
Another client kept looking from her to Ronnie. Others took a moment to study the program, see who was coming up next.
That would be Felicity. For her, the men would shout over each other, demanding to be heard, letting the money flow freely.
Another bid rang out.
Completely surprised, Tessa continued to regard the crowd, her attention drawn finally, almost irresistibly, to Logan Kincaid.
She forgot to breathe.
Someone had relit the torch nearest his table. Its bobbing light bathed him in a warm golden glow.
Tessa’s body softened.
Young—thirties or so, just as she’d thought—he wore his dark brown hair longish on the top and sides, combed away from his face. His features were rugged, deliciously masculine, especially his shadow of beard. Tessa had no doubt those short bristles would be rough to the touch, a wonderful contradiction to the silkiness of his lips, his generous mouth. A man’s mouth.
Warmth sluiced through her again, the heat soothing this time. Arousing.
He wore a beige blazer that went well with his tan complexion, his white shirt opened at the collar. Decidedly relaxed. The same as his demeanor. He lowered his drink…whiskey or bourbon…from here it was impossible for her to tell. He glanced at his watch, then surveyed the crowd, not her.
Ronnie took another bid.
With a neutral expression, Logan regarded the man who’d made it.
Tessa didn’t bother to look. She focused on Logan.
Another bid followed the last. As if to determine why, Logan finally glanced at the stage.
Tessa’s pulse pounded. Her legs felt watery.
His attention swept upward from the ridiculous shoes she wore to her naked calves and thighs. He studied her exposed cunt and glittering body jewelry for a moment, then continued to her bared breasts, viewing them briefly before he at last reached her eyes.
There, he stopped, as though he hadn’t meant to. There, he lingered.