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Piper Delaney keeps men – Dominants in particular – at arm’s length. There are dark secrets in her past that have been keeping her from willingly submitting, or forging any type of intimate relationship with anyone. That all changes when she is hired to photograph Pleasure Island for a brochure and she runs headlong into Theo, a Master who stirs her body and challenges her lonely existence.
Theo Brown is a lead solicitor who hasn’t ever found a submissive he wanted to keep. Most were rather dull and insipid once he got them out of their knickers. Then he runs into the sexy as hell Piper, a professional photographer on assignment and submissive with claws, who makes him burn with desire for her.
When Piper asks Theo to pose for her, he turns the tables and makes a proposition: Submit to him while they are on the island and at the end of the week, they go their separate ways. No harm, no foul, no attachments. Sparks fly when Piper hesitantly agrees.
But what starts as a simple arrangement morphs into something a lot deeper as Piper surrenders more than just her body to Theo’s skillful mastery. When her secret is revealed, will it tear their fledgling relationship apart? Or will Theo be able to convince Piper that he should be Her Lawful Master?
Publisher’s Note: This dramatic, sexy tale is the fourth book in Anya’s bestselling Pleasure Island series. While we do recommend reading all of them, it can be enjoyed as a standalone.
If she had to title the scene like one of her pieces, she’d call it ‘A Master & His Domain,’ what with Jared peering over his creation looking like the epitome of Alpha Dom in his tailored gray pinstripe slacks and mint green dress shirt, the sleeves artfully rolled up on his muscular forearms.
“It’s quite the view,” she said, taking a few snapshots. Her digital camera clicked through the frames at a rapid pace. Perhaps there’d be a winner in the bunch. But, more likely, it would give her a starting point to springboard from—a set of images she could study to discern what the best potential angles might be.
“Yeah, I think so too,” Jared murmured with a proud expression on his strong face, his ginger hair framing him. And, well, why not? The Dom had done a remarkable job with the island getaway. He should be pleased. It was the realization of a dream, and a kinky hideaway for those in the BDSM lifestyle that Piper had yet to explore.
She liked Jared. He was a damn fine Dom. He was a few years younger than she, considering the fact that she was staring down the double barrel of forty in a few months, but his confidence tended to overshadow his younger age. If only Piper were a few years younger. She sighed to herself.
There were a lot of what-ifs and if-onlys when it came to her single status. What if she had or hadn’t done things this way or that? It was enough to drive her to drink. At least she’d avoided the curse of the crazy cat lady syndrome. So that was something, although it was a road she could still traverse here if she weren’t careful. Mentally shaking herself, Piper considered the myriad ways in which she could approach this job and asked, “I know we had tossed a few ideas back and forth via email, but did you end up having a direction in mind for the brochure?”
“Why don’t we have a seat? I do have an image in my mind of what I would like, but I’m not sure I can translate it so you will understand, lass,” Jared said, and gave her one of his blazing smiles. Happiness seemed to permeate his being as he reclined behind his grand wooden desk, looking every inch a powerful Master, and there was a calmness to his energy that hadn’t been there previously. In fact, the last time she’d run into him at Declan and Zoey’s wedding, he’d appeared depressed to her—at least, that was what had come through her camera lens. His normal exuberant flair for life seemed to have been diminished. Piper suspected it was his new sub Naomi putting the blissful expression on his face.
“Well, how much input do you want from me?” she asked, sitting on the soft leather chair opposite him. It was one of those chairs that you sank into and never wanted to leave. While she could get comfortable anywhere, and had on occasion slept in the bush as comfortably as she had in a five-star resort, she did enjoy the creature comforts more and more. Probably an age thing she didn’t want to contemplate too much. Jared and Pleasure Island were her customers, which meant that, at the end of the day, what he preferred was what she would deliver, even if it went against her aesthetic and artistic sense or she creatively preferred a different angle. He was paying, therefore, this was his project. Although she wouldn’t issue a horrible product, no matter if stylistically it wasn’t her cup of tea.
“As much as you will give me. I know how gifted you are, and if you say to head in one direction versus another, then I will trust your guidance. I want the brochure to make the expansion of the place into new markets, to entice the individuals in those venues to visit. In order for the island to truly be sustainable and turn a profit, I need customers to come. The opening fanfare has been stellar, however, before I will declare it a success, we need both repeat and new business. I want the brochure to convey why this is the only destination spot for those in the lifestyle to experience a bit of exotic R&R with all the convenience of it being lifestyle friendly,” Jared said, leaning back in his chair.
Sublime pleasure suffused her veins at his compliment. It never failed to amaze her that she was able to work in a profession she loved and get paid rather handsomely for it. Having her talent recognized by Jared was the cherry and whipped cream on top of an already blessed life. Being given freedom to express her creativity and proceed with her gut instincts for a shoot made Piper salivate over the upcoming project. It was like letting a child loose in a candy store and saying, ‘have at it, kid.’
“I appreciate your confidence in my work.” She studied his office. It was comprised of sleek lines and elegance, very much like the man himself, with nothing out of place, but it was also a room full of comfort, from the buttery soft leather chairs to his expansive desk and his chair, a full service coffee and tea station, to pastries from the chef made for Jared. These were added touches she’d noticed in the lobby as well. This resort, from what she’d viewed of the hotel and his office so far, was chock full of understated elegance and extra touches that went above and beyond the normal fare found elsewhere. In her mind, the brochure for Pleasure Island needed to be an extension of those items.
When it came to people in the lifestyle, they didn’t need to see more tits and ass. They saw that at any club. Their community was rife with people who didn’t restrain themselves from living out their fantasies, and that was what was needed to entice them. The fantasy of the island was the key to marketing it: making people desperate to visit and, more importantly, demonstrating what fantasy the island could allow them to experience that their local club or home could not.
“You know, Jared, why don’t I approach this from two angles, and make more than one mock up? Then you can decide which choice is best for you. From what you explained in your email, you want something that is going to entice the higher end lifestylers to the island, but then also have sale weeks for those who can’t afford the regular full price.”
“That’s correct. And I did send you a list of clubs that we’ve opened the doors to in order to expand our base of operations. Working in cooperation with the owners in those clubs, we have already vetted the majority of their members. Now it’s about getting them to come here.”
“Well, I think I can help you with that. In my opinion, I think the best way to proceed, especially knowing the owners at Allure, Underworld, and Cuffs and Spurs, along with their memberships, is to play up the elegance of Pleasure Island. Show them why it’s a must-see destination for those in the lifestyle and what they might experience here that they cannot at home, in a tasteful package.”
Jared contemplated her with his intense jade eyes, his hands steepled under his chin as his mind worked out the angles. Then he said, “I like it, Piper. Let’s try it your way first. If need be, we can reassess in a few days.”
“Absolutely. If there’s another direction that you feel is better for you and the island, I’m open to your input and direction, as much as you want to give me. I can get started photographing right away and will have the first few mock-ups in a handful of days.”
“That’s good. I like your efficiency on this. Just so that you are aware, you will have full access to every part of the island: the villas, pool, marina, restaurant, club. You name it, you can photograph it. Anything but the guests—and that, lass, is non-negotiable. We value our guests’ privacy and safety above all else, so I cannot have you film them, but the rest of the island is your oyster, so to speak.”
Those words were literally music to her ears. Piper wanted to tap dance around his office at her little victory. It was like she’d been handed keys to the kingdom with the all-access pass to shoot as she wanted, where she wanted, and when. From what she’d viewed of the island so far, she might even get a few pieces to add to her gallery in Santa Barbara. Piper was as pleased as punch that this job was turning into a win-win scenario with potentially huge payoffs. “And that’s something that I will be sure to include in the mock ups: the privacy and safety portion. I have your key points that you want listed on the brochure. If you have literature you want included, email that to me. I may need to edit a bit for space but you will have final approval on every aspect of the finished product. Don’t worry about the images, I will take more than enough pictures so when we are deciding what should be included in the brochure, you will not want for selection but will have an overabundance to choose from.”
“That’s perfect, lass. And my secretary is adding the amendment to the contract like you requested. As long as I sign off on the prints you decide to use for your gallery, I love the idea. Might even have to purchase one or two of the images myself.”
The man certainly was a charmer. Was it any wonder his staff adored him? She said, “They would be a gift for you, Master J, I wouldn’t charge you to make a print or two with your more than generous fee for doing this job. With the amendment added to our agreement, you would receive a royalty of twenty percent for any image I develop and display for sale at my gallery, Phoenix Rising in Santa Barbara, but for the others, pish-posh.”
He chuckled, a deep-throated bark and said, “Thank you, I appreciate it. Maybe I could interest you in taking a photograph of my sub and me.”
“I’d be delighted to do a portrait shoot. Just let me know when you would like it done and we can put it into my agenda while I’m here,” Piper said.
“Great, we’ll make arrangements for that. I had my staff put you in one of the private villas, number five, so you can have privacy to create. One of the bellhops—Sean, I believe—has already delivered your suitcases. You will have a cart at your disposal while you’re here, to take you and your camera equipment anywhere you want to go on the island. If you give me five minutes, we can get started on our tour. I have one more individual joining us. I hope that’s all right. He just needs to do a bit of an inventory of the property for legal purposes.”
“No. I don’t mind at all,” she said, to prove she was as publicly relatable as possible, even though she did mind the intrusion. She would have far preferred the chance to scope out the island without interference, but she’d deal with the complication and do her own tour later without anyone present. This was all formalities for the job. Jared was paying her a pretty penny to put together this brochure, so if he wanted her to do headstands while she took photos, she’d do it.
Piper stood up and snapped a few shots of the translucent turquoise ocean from the window while they waited. Who was joining them on the tour? There had been a few couples on the boat when she’d traveled on the ferry from Nassau, but she had been the only single person on board. Being the only single person present was the story of her life. By this point, she’d been on her own so much that she didn’t know if she’d even function well in a relationship, whether she wanted one or not. Piper wasn’t bitter about her continual single status. It was more like she was resigned to her fate because so far she’d not met a Dom who could accept a sub who only submitted in the bedroom, for reasons that she tended not to disclose to them. Piper had been steering her life for far too long and balked at the idea of handing the reins over to anyone else.
Feeling like she needed to get higher up, change the focus, and play with the light a bit so she could get one killer shot, she asked, “Is there roof access? I’d love to get an aerial shot.”
Jared joined her back at the window and said, “There is, but it’s tricky with the slope of the roof. Not to worry, though, I can have Cal take you up in the chopper if you want some photos from up above.”
She almost tap-danced, seeing the shot in her mind, and enjoying the surge of adrenaline that came when she slipped into her creative mode. “That would be great.”
At the click of the door handle, Piper glanced over her shoulder at the intrusion. Jared’s office door opened, whereupon Mary, his secretary, a proper English woman and submissive in her mid-fifties, entered. Her small, compact form was adorned in tweed and her salt and pepper hair scraped back into a bun. But it was the athletically built man striding in behind the secretary who made every molecule in Piper’s body roar to life.
She knew him. They’d crossed paths a time or two before. Master Theo Brown wore a suit the way some men wore a pair of jeans. It was like his body was perfectly sculpted to be adorned in expensive linens and silk. And today’s tailored, form-fitting dark navy slacks and matching blazer only heightened his inherent masculine grace. His crisp, ivory linen shirt was open at his neck, displaying a hint of his sculpted physique beneath, and a few whirls of dark chest hair. This was the first time she’d ever seen him without a tie.
His intense cinnamon gaze caressed her form briefly, like a man selecting a fine bottle of wine, before he turned his attention to Jared.
“Theo, thanks for coming,” Jared said, leaving her alone at the window as he crossed his office and met Theo in the middle. They shook hands and Piper, always the face behind the camera, couldn’t help but snap a few photos. They wouldn’t be for the brochure, but who could resist two powerfully built Masters in their prime looking better than any cover model?
“Not a problem, mate. I’m delighted I could help.” Theo’s deep gruff voice made Piper think of the finest brandy doused with honey, and her toes instinctually curled in her boots.
“Have you met, Piper Delaney? She will be joining us on the tour. Piper is photographing the island for me,” Jared said, holding his arm out toward her, inviting her in to their manly Dom presence.
Theo’s eyes whipped back to her, and he acknowledged her with a slight nod. She approached the tall duo but Jared’s presence was eclipsed by Theo, with his thick head of dark hair, graying slightly at his temples, and inherently steadfast gaze. At first glance, he was everything an upper crust British man should be: starch in his collar, dressed to the nines, the dark stubble lining his square jaw expertly trimmed, and bored eyes. But upon closer inspection, as he firmly clasped her hand in his much larger one, she noted the banked fires in his interested gaze. The man wasn’t aloof at all. Piper’s skin sizzled where they touched, and when he lightly brushed the back of her hand with his startlingly soft lips, like he was a titled lord greeting a lady, she nearly burst into flames. Goosebumps broke out on her skin. Then he raised his gaze, with his full lips pressed against her hand, and she shivered.
Master Theo packed a walloping punch. He wasn’t a cold fish at all and it did melty things to her insides. His fires burned hotter and gave the illusion that they didn’t burn, which was crazy because she felt like she was going up in flames over his touch. He was like a blue flame that you believed at first to be cool, but which was actually hotter than the rest and would singe the flesh in record time. His eyes were all smoldering, banked fires and she almost wished he would do something outlandish, like nibble on the back of her hand while he had it pressed against his lips. It would give her an excuse to test and see if touching him would set the rest of her body on fire as well.
“Piper, it’s lovely to see you again. You’re well?” he said as he straightened, still holding her hand with his.
She cleared her throat and replied, “Yes, I am. And you, Sir?”
At her breathy reply, he smiled and her pulse rate spiked. It wasn’t just the fact that in his eyes was a Master’s knowledge of the effect he had on her sensibilities, but that when he smiled, like he was doing now, her mind went utterly blank. It made her feel like a cat wanting to rub up against his warmth. The way his full lips grinned with a wholly wicked tilt made Piper imagine he would wear an identical expression when he had a sub writhing beneath him.
“Better now. Glad to be joining you,” he said, offering a bit of flattery.
“I hope you both don’t mind if we get underway. I have appointments to attend this afternoon,” Jared murmured, heading toward the door.
“Certainly. After you,” Theo said.
Piper bowed her head out of respect as she passed, then held her head high. In all her thirty-nine years, she had never cowered, and as much as she recognized the Dom in each man, she wasn’t a wallflower. Piper didn’t do the submissive thing outside the bedroom. For most of her life, she’d tried that route and been miserable. She believed there was a point and age one reached where you stopped trying to be what everyone else wanted you to be, and decided to be yourself, with all your foibles and hang-ups. She no longer cared if she was too much for the many Doms who had been and gone in her life. Even after everything she had experienced, the lengths she had had to go to in order to heal, she’d always been too much for most people. But she’d reached an age where she no longer tried to make herself fit into an acceptable column.
“We can certainly add those protections, J, but let me get an assessment of the rest of the place. I think we can put more under one umbrella,” Theo was saying.
“That’s good. I also want to take care of my estate while you’re here,” Jared said as they strode toward the elevator.
Theo asked, “Are you sure you’re ready to include your sub—”
“I want Naomi cared for, whether I’m here or not.”
Piper half listened to Jared and Theo talk on the way down. From the sound of their conversation, Theo was utilizing his skills as a solicitor for both the island and for Jared. It was sweet that Jared wanted to look out for his sub like that. His accent thickened when he spoke about Naomi. She must be quite impressive to make a Dom like Jared come to heel. Piper couldn’t wait to meet her.
Jared showed them through the club, lobby, and restaurant first. Piper snapped photos with her digital as they went. She’d come back with her Nikon, adjust the lighting in the room, and play with angles more. Jared explained some of the new expansions on the island, like the newly minted pizza parlor near the beach, and the outdoor venue for weddings and concerts that would begin construction in November. There were more features that would be added down the line, but without the physical structures available for her to photograph, she wasn’t concerned with those. Oh, she’d include them with the ad copy on the brochure, for sure, but she was more concerned with cataloging everything that was currently on the island and needed to be shot, adding items to the ever-growing list she was creating in her brain.
She liked the feel of the place. All the futuristic and green technology was great, she was all for saving the planet, but there was also a flow to the architecture. Smooth, clean lines; airy walkways and hallways. The BDSM theme was there, in every piece of furniture, and the guests they passed along the way seemed to be enjoying it to the utmost, but it didn’t appear gaudy or bordello-ish. Rather, it made her think of elegance and grandeur.
It was quite a feat. And one she believed she could use to help make him a brochure that would have patrons from Allure, Underworld, and Cuffs and Spurs banging on the door. Granted, she knew that the owners of those clubs had already cleared the way, but for this place to thrive, they’d have to have guests filling the resort regularly past the initial rush.
As they moved through the hotel, Piper was fully aware of Theo’s presence near her. She tried to ignore him. But she couldn’t seem to stop the resonance in his voice from tickling inside her chest as he spoke or how his scent, a carnal, dark spicy aftershave, drifted on the breeze and slammed into her senses with all the grace of a grenade to her system when they exited the elevator outside.
The man was a potent mixture of uptight, sophisticated Brit mixed with all the trappings of a Master. It was a heady and distracting combination. Piper made herself focus and note different places to shoot as Jared drove them in the golf cart. She’d have to get lost a bit with her cameras, go where there wasn’t anyone around, and take photographs. The island was a gem, with a profusion of greenery and flowers. The lonely mountain peak, likely a dormant volcano, rose in waves and giant spears of slate-colored rock.
The two men were conversing as they ascended the mountain but Piper paid them no heed, more intent on the surroundings than her companions. She could feel herself slipping into that space where her creativity took over and she disappeared into her art.
At one of the tiny crested abutments, she said, “Stop.”
“Everything okay, lass?” Jared asked as he slammed on the brakes and the cart came to a shuddering halt atop the abutment.
Before either Dom could stop her, Piper was on the move. Climbing out of the vehicle, she said over her shoulder, “Yes, I just need to get this shot. Give me a minute.”
And she walked away, feeling both men’s eyes on her back as she did so. But there was only one pair that stirred her with their cinnamon intensity. She directed her focus to getting the photo, climbing up on the padded horse and crouching into position.
The world fell away until all that was present were the shuttered clicks of her camera. Even her breaths became one with her art as she held still to capture the imagery.