The MasterBy: Tara Sue Me
To Danielle and Elle, who love Cole more than I do.
From the day Seduced by Fire was published, I’ve had people asking for Cole’s story. It’s humbling as an author to have such interest in a character. It’s also scary as hell.
The truth is, Cole wouldn’t be the character he is without the aid of two people. My eternal thanks to Cyndy, who was kind enough to tell me Cole was flat and boring in an early draft of Seduced. And to Danielle, who said, “You should go talk to him again. I think he’s a Brit.” Truly, you two, this book wouldn’t exist without you.
Raechel, you are, as always, invaluable. My humble thanks to you.
Tina, when I read your thoughts after you read the manuscript, I breathed a sigh of relief. Thank you for being in my corner.
Anne Marie and Amy, who share in the Gandy love and my sister, for saying, “Who?”
Claire, Jenn, and the entire Penguin team, who’ve been as enthusiastic as I am about this book.
Steve, who made it happen.
To those who have pushed, encouraged, and supported me with tweets, texts, e-mails, and messages, when I’m having a particularly difficult day, you keep me going and make me smile.
I think there has to be a special crown in heaven for the spouses of authors. They put up with so much. After all, Mr. Sue Me not only has to deal with me, but all the people who live in my head. He does it all and he never complains.
Finally, for everyone who said, “Yes, but when is Cole’s story out?” I hope you find it worthy.
She was going to have to book an extended session with her therapist.
Sasha Blake closed her eyes and tried to take deep cleansing breaths like she’d been told to do when the familiar panic started to take over. But the sharp claws of fear and dread grabbed onto her chest and the simple act of inhaling took more strength than necessary.
“Sasha?” Nathaniel asked. “Are you okay?”
She cracked one eye open. The Dominant in charge of running the meeting looked at her with concern. She focused on him and did her best to ignore everything and everyone else.
“Yes, Master West,” she said. “I’m fine.”
Fine. Her pat reply to everything. She was fine. Work was fine. Her back was fine. And being told the Partners in Play senior members had decided she could rejoin the BDSM group after a retraining with Cole Johnson?
She was sitting in a small room off to the side of Daniel Covington’s playroom where group meetings were held. Only the senior members were present, which meant there were only about ten people sitting around the oval table at the moment.
The side of her face tingled as if someone was staring at her and she slipped her hands under her thighs to keep from rubbing the spot. She used more discipline than what should be necessary to keep her gaze directed on Nathaniel and not to let it wander just a touch to the right, where he sat.
Items numbered one through five hundred twelve to discuss with her therapist: Cole Johnson.
Based on conversations she’d had recently—with Nathaniel; his wife, Abby; her own best friend, Julie; and Julie’s Dominant, Daniel—she’d expected to be offered a retraining. She’d even looked forward to it: experiencing the thrill of letting someone else take over, rediscovering the peace that came when she knew her Dom would do anything to protect her—and, she wasn’t even going to pretend otherwise, having earth-shattering orgasms.
It’d not once crossed her mind, not even in her wildest, craziest, never-gonna-happen-might-as-well-fantasize-about-it dreams, that the group would pick him.
She shivered just thinking his name. An alien spaceship must have transported her to an alternate universe because that’s how hard it was to believe Cole was going to retrain her. He was an altogether intriguing man, one who had quickly captured her attention. But though he was usually laid-back and easygoing, talk among the group’s submissives pointed toward a hard and unyielding Dominant in the playroom.
She didn’t have to glance to Nathaniel’s right to know who she’d find watching her. She pictured him all too clearly in her head. Dark tousled hair, devilish blue-green eyes, and a body that seductively hinted at sexual pleasure with every carefully controlled move. And then he’d speak in that oh-so-smooth British accent.