Book Sale!

Now only $0.99! Erik’s a survivor with a mystery woman haunting his dreams. When she shows up and tries to kill him, he finds himself on the run with and from… Valkyries?

Brenna’s only job is to kill Erik. But a stolen kiss changes everything. #Romance

bit.ly/2vjbFk8

Origins 2019 is almost here!

Well, this’ll be the 15th year that the Wookie and I have gone to Origins in Columbus – if you’re in the area and love gaming, be sure to check it out!

I’ve signed up for a LOT of Call of Cthulhu RPG games – since I want to run them for our local group, I figure I need to play more and more to become a better Keeper, or DM.

And, oh yeah… Book Cover Reveal!

image

Isn’t this a fantastic cover? Here’s the official blurb:

Warrior in Love – Odin’s Bastards, Book Three

Special Agent Trace Dyson races around the world, retrieving priceless artifacts from criminals. But his one dream is to recover a spear, stolen from The Valkyrie’s Tomb. It’s his family’s White Whale, his father and grandfather’s unfulfilled mission––and when he sees a beautiful and mysterious woman steal a bracelet from the tomb’s exhibit, he’s intrigued. Before he takes her to jail, he has a few questions.

Laila Nyland is a Valkyrie on the edge––worn out from her duties, her final mission is to come to Midgard and find a mystical spear lost centuries ago. Forced into a partnership with Trace, she can’t help but be attracted to the hardcore treasure hunter even if he drives her up a wall. The more she learns about him––the harder it is to lie to him about her mission.

Before their secrets rip them apart, these two will be responsible for saving the world––that is if they can trust each other longer than two minutes. 

I really, REALLY liked writing this one because it gave me a chance to get my inner Indiana Jones/Lara Croft out on the page. Along with the Fenris Wolf and Ragnarok. 

It’s the last in the series, and unfortunately the last book at present with Entangled Publishing. With my agents dropping me, it seems I’m back to the start with the writing – however, after 21 books I definitely don’t feel like a n00b anymore.

*chuckles*

But I’ve gotten the rights back to an older book, originally put out by Carina Press – my shifter novel, Blood of the Pride. That’ll be reissued in the fall with a new cover, after I spiff it up a bit – it’s almost ten years old, and technology has come a long way, so I need to update it and clean it up – nice to see my writing skills have gotten better with time!

And I’m working on a new book! About 50K into it – basically, imagine if Meghan had said No to Harry… and ten years later, they meet again, under tragic circumstances. It’s still in rough draft, but we’ll see where it leads to. 

But right now I’m looking at being at Origins in a month! It’ll be my second year there outside of the Library and going as a pure gamer, so I’m going to have some great new game reviews in the future as the Wookie and I drive over with an empty car and come back stuffed to the rooftop with all sorts of games!

🙂

Chat at you later!

Game Review – Pandemic: Fall of Rome from Z-Man Games

If you haven’t played Pandemic, you’ve missed out on a number of great games – starting with the original game, setting you and your friends on a quest to save the world from a rush of different diseases threatening to wipe out civilization. Also available in an electronic version, it’s an addictive game that’ll have your team rushing around the world to save everyone!

The basic game has shifted over the years – from Legacy Season 1 and 2 where every move permanently changed the game board, to introducing Cthulhu and the mission of sealing dark portals. But this newest incarnation, Fall of Rome, might just be the Best One Ever, in my humble opinion.

So what do you get? Check out this faboo board!

As you can see, there’s a lot of the familiar here – the different enemy colors, the city cards and the infection deck, where all the trouble comes from. But this new version introduces something that makes this game unlike any of the others – DICE!

Yes, dice! Never seen before in a Pandemic game, this introduces a whole new aspect of gameplay and makes Fall of Rome more of a wargame than ever. When you enter into battle with your legions against the barbarian tribes (represented by the various colored cubes) you throw as many dice as you have legions with you and the results decide how it went. From losing all of your legions to wiping out the invaders, it brings in a new randomness that can swing the balance of power.

And speaking of legions and characters… take a look at the different events and character cards!

You’ll find many of these familiar, with a twist moving them into the era. Event cards are much the same as previous incarnations of Pandemic, but with one major shift – you can, if you wish, take an even stronger version of the event by using the Corrupt version and move the decline marker down the track on the side of the board, usually called the outbreak track on other version.

The Infection cards are different as well – the barbarians must invade via certain routes, allowing you to possibly break the chain and chase them back away from Rome – because the first time an enemy cube makes it into Rome… the game is lost.

Instead of diseases, your task is to collect enough city cards of a single color to turn the barbarian tribes into allies, allowing you to convert cubes of that color to loyal legions. But they can still sack Rome, so don’t get too complacent that you’ve managed to make a treaty! There are five tribes, with one only needing three city cards to make a treaty with, and others needing five. As you can see, it’s got a lot of the classic Pandemic ruleset, making this an easy game to learn if you’ve got a grasp of the basics.

There’s also solo play, allowing you to be the Emperor and dictating how to rule your empire!

The beautiful artwork, the cool mechanics and the war game feel makes this a Must-Have for anyone who’s a Pandemic fan – or if you enjoy war games, or just a hell of a great game! In my opinion, this is the best incarnation of the Pandemic franchise, and I can’t think of how they’re going to top this one! If you haven’t considered picking this up, check it out for a fabulous way to spend a few hours saving the Empire!

*****

If you enjoy my reviews, how about checking out some of my books? I love to do game reviews, but I also love to write – and always open to comments and questions!

20 Books under my Belt… What have I learned? (spoiler: maybe not so much!)

SN - Warrior Nights Teaser 1 (1)

This past Monday, Warrior Nights came onto the market. It’s my 20th published book, marking years of working with various publishers to get my stories out to the public. I’ve worked with Carina Press, Samhain Publishing, St. Martin’s Press/Swerve and most recently with Entangled Publishing. So, you’d think I’d be all cool and chill with this last release, right?

Wrong.

I’m terrified, as I am with every release. I scour the rankings, study the numbers from ads I’ve purchased and peer over every review and blog post, trying to find the secret sauce that will make me a better writer. Hopefully, it works… and then I get back to the next book.

Because that’s all I know – writing, writing, writing. My first book came out in 2003, a NaNoWriMo book I later whipped into shape and sold to Samhain – and now back out as a self-pubbed edition, since Samhain went under. I’ve had to figure out self-publishing and I do okay at it, but can always do better. I have an agent and I have multiple eggs in multiple baskets, as it were.

But every book is a new challenge, a new way to test myself. First person, third person, contemporary romance, steampunk, superheroes, Valkyries! Light BDSM, space opera, shapeshifters, menage! Right now I’m playing with a royal romance – what if Meghan said no to Harry? What if…

Imposter syndrome? I’ve got a bucketful of that. But I’ve also got the confidence that I’ve worked with multiple publishers, multiple editors and I might… just might… have some of that magic.

So if you’re starting out as an author – it doesn’t get any easier. Read, read, write, write, hone your craft and never stop pushing your boundaries. Keep moving forward, keep swimming. But know that you might feel like I do – twenty books in and still feeling that nervous flutter in my belly as the book links go live and obsessing over the rankings.

Writing is an adventure. So let’s throw ourselves off that cliff and learn to fly!

🙂

 

Fanfiction… has it really been 25 years?

I recently took a look back at how long I’ve been writing fanfiction… to be fair, I think most of us have written fanfiction LONG before we knew what it was – quick stories dashed in the back of our notebooks between classes, happy endings for movies or television series that we’d seen.

But I started posting fanfiction WAY back in the ’90’s, on the old Usenet groups. Alt.tv.x-files.creative, to be exact – a splinter group off the original alt.tv.x-files when the fanfiction started to drown out the discussion threads… and I posted and read and posted more.

Some of you already know the story, so I’ll keep it short – a reader sent me a lovely fan email.

Always answer your emails, authors.

I wrote him back. He wrote back. He called. I answered. We sent letters, cards… he sent roses and came up to see me.

Anyway…

A short look at my stories on ff.net can show I transplanted a lot of them off of atxf into fanfiction.net on March 13, 1999. A LOT. I’ve been told that one story, Little Helper, has the notorious claim of being the oldest story on ff.net.

Whoa.

I’ve got 169 stories there, others floating out on old Myspace and Geocities when I had no access to websites. (Yes, there was a time when not everyone had a website! Google it!) Add in the Dragon series and there’s more than 200 stories out there. Not to mention a few newspaper articles and the like

And I haven’t stopped. True, I’m doing original fiction more often than not, but every once in a while a story grabs me by the throat and demands I write a quickie… especially the hopeless romantic in me.

So it’s been 25 years since I penned my first official piece of fanfiction and had the guts to post it. 15 years of being a published author, and 19 years of marriage – 25 if you count our first meeting through my stories.

Moral of the story? WRITE MORE FANFICTION. DON’T BE AFRAID TO WRITE IT, READ IT, POST IT, SEND FAN MAIL TO THE AUTHOR…

Because you never know where fate will lead you…

Shippers, Unite!

One of the hottest relationships right now, in my opinion, is the Olicity – the Oliver/Felicity ship that draws me to Arrow every week. All I need is a touch, a wink or a hot look and I’m soaring – and, to be fair, Stephen Amell on the salmon ladder doesn’t hurt the old eyes that much either!
😉
But Olicity is just the most recent of my shippy obsessions… as I look back there’s been pairings that drove me mad either with the wanting and not having, or the actual having and the problems therein.
So here, without further ado, are my shippy addictions – do you agree/disagree/swoon with any of them as much as I do?

Picture-Jack-SamSam/Jack from Stargate SG-1: From the first time I saw this show I knew these two had to be together. Yes, I wrote the fanfics and I shipped da ship for these two to break free of the darned rules and become a couple. I swooned over the sexual tension and about fainted when Jack confessed his love for her under duress (he was being accused of being a spy because the truth machine was saying he wasn’t telling all…) and Sam caught between the man her rebel alien mental partner loves (rather complicated, I know) and her want for Jack, the old grizzled sexy man. Who couldn’t be rooting for them to have a happy ending? In my world, after the series ended they both retired and moved to a nice house in the country for plenty of shippy moments!

THE X FILES: David Duchovny (L) as Agent Fox Mulder and Gillian Anderson (R) as Agent Dana Scully. ©1998 FOX BROADCASTING COMPANY. CR: Mark Seliger/FOX

Mulder/Scully from X-Files: Possibly the most obsessive of all my shippydoms – and I can’t say otherwise because it brought me my sweet husband! Who couldn’t feel the sexual tension in the air between Moose and Squirrel when they dashed into paranormal danger? I wrote over two hundred fanfics (yes, that’s 200) where either they got together or came darned close… and thanks to some sweet fan mail from an eager reader, I met and married my hubby! I’m excited for the new episodes next year but… I’m worried that they won’t continue the relationship. Moose and Squirrel together forever!

Oliver-and-Felicity-arrow-37655284-1920-1080And, of course – Oliver/Felicity from Arrow: This is the sort of success story I love to hear about – an actress gets a bit part playing an IT on an action/adventure show and the producers realize there’s something here, some chemistry between her and the male star that works a LOT better than the canon relationship between Oliver Queen and Laurel Lance. Suddenly Emily Bett Rickards jumps from being in the background to being one of the major character and SO MUCH LOVE with Stephen Amell, who plays Oliver Queen. The writers did a faboo job of building the relationship over two seasons until we got a hot, HOT love scene last year, affirmation by the two characters of their twu luv and it’s continuing into this year… how can this go wrong?
DON’T TELL ME! DON’T YOU DARE TELL ME!

😉

So what couples have you swooned over in the past? Spike/Buffy? Angel/Buffy? Willow/Tara? Everyone on the Vampire Diaries? Moose/Squirrel/Castiel from Supernatural? What’s sending your pulse in triple digits in fanfiction and on the screen?

Coming October 20th, 2016

Strictly Business

StrictlyBusiness72lgYou can lead a Domme to love…but you can’t make her fall.

Hooded Pleasures, Book 1

Kate Dubois is a Domme-for-hire for the highly exclusive Hooded Pleasures, a service offering private BDSM sessions to those who can’t—or won’t—risk appearing in an actual club.

Lately, though, she wonders if professional burnout is causing her to have painful flashbacks to a past heartbreak. When her boss insists her next client will be a breath of fresh air, Kate reluctantly agrees to an interview.

Alex Hanson dominates the world of computer game programming, but secretly he suspects he might be a sub in the bedroom. There’s only one good way to find out—hire a professional to show him the ropes.

Their first meeting puts both of them to the test—Alex’s self-control, and Kate’s realization she might just like him a little too much. But there’s no denying their emotions are inextricably entangled…a dangerous step Kate’s not sure her heart is prepared to take.
Warning: Contains a hard-core computer geek with a tender side, and a Domme who can’t afford to expose her greatest weakness—him. Geekery combined with flogging. Enjoy!

Buy Links:
Amazon
B&N
Samhain
iBooks
Google Play
All Romance eBooks

No matter where you go, there you are…

When I first started writing, I had to figure out where I was going to set my stories. I’m a Canadian married to a sweet-talking American living just south of Pittsburgh; settled in a rural area for fifteen years. To me it was obvious – set the story in Toronto, my hometown and where I spent most of my life.

But I was told it’d be a foreign setting by other authors and unfamiliar to many readers; so I should take that into consideration where and when I started writing.

To me it wasn’t an issue. But to some of my readers, specifically my husband, I might as well placed my characters on the moon.

For all the similarities between Canada and the United States there’s still areas that are very much Canadian and very much reflect the culture. For example – a private investigator would automatically be assumed to be able to carry a weapon in the US. In Canada a PI is just the same as anyone else; subject to the same gun controls and regulations as a civilian. A criminal could get a weapon, of course – it’s not like pistols and shotguns don’t exist in Canada – but it might not be as easy to explain away if stopped by a policeman.

The same holds true for all “foreign” settings – be sure to do the research and know what differences there are between what you’re used to and what the audience will be expecting. If you set a story in London you’ll have even more stringent gun control and having a shootout between the police and a gang of crooks might be difficult to set up – it can still happen but you’ll have to spend a bit of time explaining how it came together; something you wouldn’t have to worry as much about if you set it in Philadelphia instead.

Almost all of my books have been set in Toronto, and many of my Canadian readers might recognize certain neighborhoods and shopping centers although some have changed with time. But if I were to set my books in another city I’d be sure to do my research before writing; visiting if I had the time and money. I’ve been a big fan of Robert Parker and his Spencer novels for decades and know that if I ever went to Boston (and I did once, for a Worldcon!) that I’d be able to literally go over most of the same paths the fictional Spencer and Hawk have due to the details in the book. Never discount the power of having the city become almost another character in your book; adding a flavor that marks it as apart from those set in generic settings.

This isn’t to say that you can’t imagine and create new cities – J.D. Robb’s New York City is decades ahead of our own and in an alternative universe where cars fly and technology has drastically changed the way we live but it’s still New York City with it’s own unique people and charisma; just slightly different. In my “Tales on the Edge” series the stories take place aboard the Bonnie Belle, a spaceship and also on mining bases set in asteroids and populated by weary men and women drilling out the interiors, their work only interrupted by the arrival of courtesan ships like the Belle. But what make the Belle different from the Serenity, from the Enterprise, from the Millennium Falcon is the ship’s personality – whether they talk or not.

An imaginary setting can be almost more alive than an actual village or city. Tessa Dare’s Spindle Cove almost steals the story from the characters, the rich descriptions and vivid images forming the perfect background for her Regency English romances.

If you’re placing your story in a real city or town, do your research and see what gives that place its particular flavor – do they have street festivals? Do they have specific neighborhoods known for their foods or for their culture? Grab tourism guides and see what you can incorporate into your story if you can’t actually visit the city. If you’re creating an imaginary setting, think about what drew people to that area. What prompted it to be settled so many years ago – was there a gold mine nearby; a fertile area producing extra produce? A strategic point to fight battles from or to defend the frontier – an outpost on the edge of civilization at that time, calling the brave and the daring to settle here. From there you can extrapolate what your town would be like; how the local politics could go and what attitudes the residents would hold. You don’t have to dump all of this into your book but it’s excellent background to have on hand for making your characters, from the main ones to the secondaries, more realistic and centered.

Writing wonderful characters is only part of the story, in my opinion – having a lovely, complicated background for them to romp through makes everything that much more realistic and increases the reader’s enjoyment of your story. Why not go back and reread some of your favorite books and see if you agree with my thoughts?

Coming October 20th, 2016

Strictly Business

StrictlyBusiness72lgYou can lead a Domme to love…but you can’t make her fall.

Hooded Pleasures, Book 1

Kate Dubois is a Domme-for-hire for the highly exclusive Hooded Pleasures, a service offering private BDSM sessions to those who can’t—or won’t—risk appearing in an actual club.

Lately, though, she wonders if professional burnout is causing her to have painful flashbacks to a past heartbreak. When her boss insists her next client will be a breath of fresh air, Kate reluctantly agrees to an interview.

Alex Hanson dominates the world of computer game programming, but secretly he suspects he might be a sub in the bedroom. There’s only one good way to find out—hire a professional to show him the ropes.

Their first meeting puts both of them to the test—Alex’s self-control, and Kate’s realization she might just like him a little too much. But there’s no denying their emotions are inextricably entangled…a dangerous step Kate’s not sure her heart is prepared to take.
Warning: Contains a hard-core computer geek with a tender side, and a Domme who can’t afford to expose her greatest weakness—him. Geekery combined with flogging. Enjoy!

Buy Links:
Amazon
B&N
Samhain
iBooks
Google Play
All Romance eBooks

Dommes I Have Known

When I decided to create Kate Dubois, the Domme in “Strictly Business”, I thought over the other Dommes I’d read about – what made them special, what made them unique in my mind and what made them interesting characters. There have been plenty of wonderful stories and enchanting women but I’d like to share those that first caught my attention and drew me into not only the story but the world they inhabited.

natural law

Violet Siemanski from Joey W. Hill’s Natural Law was my first introduction to a Domme and it was a glorious experience. Violet is a cop, a woman in a man’s world, who has her own secrets and desires. Mackenzie Whitehorse is a homicide detective working a horrible case – submissive men are being killed and he has to go undercover to find out who. He meets Violet and, well… you can guess the rest.

I loved Violet and Mac’s relationship from the start and thrilled to see them show up in other books in the Nature of Desire series. If you’re looking for a great place to begin reading about a Dominatrix and the man she loves, I couldn’t recommend it more.

Servicing-the-Target-200x300

A few years ago I came across Cherise Sinclair’s Shadowland series, and while the first book didn’t focus in on a Domme the most recent installment; Servicing the Target was a great read, focusing in on Mistress Anne and the man who wants to be hers and hers alone. Ben is one of the Shadowland’s premiere security men and knows what he wants – and he wants to be with Anne. But it’s not going to be easy.

If you’re a fan of the Shadowlands this is an automatic buy – other characters from other books in the series wander in and out, making this a great read. It’s also a wonderful example of how to make your Dommes seem like real women and their submissives real men – it’s too easy at times to fall into the trap of having Dommes be nothing more than stereotypical bitches who hate men and write submissive men as doormats, waiting to be beaten and stepped all over.

Both these books portray strong women and the strong men who love them – keeping far away from lesser works that not only misrepresent the relationship between a Domme and her man but give you underdeveloped characters and, in the end, a less satisfying read. If you’re looking for some new reading, I can’t recommend either author emough – the Nature of Desire series and the Master of the Shadowlands are hypnotizing, enveloping reads that will pull you in and you’ll lose hours with these Dommes – and their men!

Coming October 20th, 2016

Strictly Business

StrictlyBusiness72lgYou can lead a Domme to love…but you can’t make her fall.

Hooded Pleasures, Book 1

Kate Dubois is a Domme-for-hire for the highly exclusive Hooded Pleasures, a service offering private BDSM sessions to those who can’t—or won’t—risk appearing in an actual club.

Lately, though, she wonders if professional burnout is causing her to have painful flashbacks to a past heartbreak. When her boss insists her next client will be a breath of fresh air, Kate reluctantly agrees to an interview.

Alex Hanson dominates the world of computer game programming, but secretly he suspects he might be a sub in the bedroom. There’s only one good way to find out—hire a professional to show him the ropes.

Their first meeting puts both of them to the test—Alex’s self-control, and Kate’s realization she might just like him a little too much. But there’s no denying their emotions are inextricably entangled…a dangerous step Kate’s not sure her heart is prepared to take.
Warning: Contains a hard-core computer geek with a tender side, and a Domme who can’t afford to expose her greatest weakness—him. Geekery combined with flogging. Enjoy!

Buy Links:
Amazon
B&N
Samhain
iBooks
Google Play
All Romance eBooks

Romance – What’s It Good For?

When people ask what I do for a living and I respond, “Author”, I usually get some interesting replies. They vary from “What have you written lately?” to “What are you working on now?” to “Cool! I’ve got an idea!” and so on. But when I clarify and say I’m a romance author… things change.

It’s odd. I’ll get a sideways glance and a shrug, something along the lines of “Well, that’s not REAL writing” to “Oh. Like that Fifty Shades thing?” to “That’s got to be easy to do.” As if suddenly my choice of genres changes the actual work involved and warps reality.

But imagine a world without romance; without romance authors. What a bleak world it would be!

No historical romances – no Highlanders brandishing their swords, no ladies looking for love under the strict social rules of the Ton. No pirates running amok and no steampunk soldiers sailing through the air to save society and the man/woman they love.

No contemporary romances – no women finding their true love under the strangest of circumstances; no coincidental meetings or family interference bringing together two souls who need to be togther.

No westerns – no cowboys. ‘Nuff said.

No… well, you get the picture. Imagine a world where there are no romances, no sweeping love stories to show us the possibility of true happiness when we’re feeling down – the promise that out there, somewhere, is your match. And if not for you, then for your friends and family.

A world without romance novels would be without romance.

And what a bleak, hopeless world that would be.

As for me, I’ll continue to write and read romance. I’ll thrill to Tessa Dare‘s Spendor Cove series where women take charge; I’ll race to the store when J.D. Robb‘s Eve and Roarke set out on another case. I’ll hold our breath for every Julie Kenner new release and I’ll threaten anyone who gets between me and the newest Nora Roberts.

Because I think a life’s not really worth living without romance.

And if I can add my voice to it, give one reader a few minutes of happiness in a world where bad news lurks in every corner and on every screen, I’ll do it.

Because I’m a romance author.

And I love to write romance.

Coming October 20th, 2016

Strictly Business

StrictlyBusiness72lgYou can lead a Domme to love…but you can’t make her fall.

Hooded Pleasures, Book 1

Kate Dubois is a Domme-for-hire for the highly exclusive Hooded Pleasures, a service offering private BDSM sessions to those who can’t—or won’t—risk appearing in an actual club.

Lately, though, she wonders if professional burnout is causing her to have painful flashbacks to a past heartbreak. When her boss insists her next client will be a breath of fresh air, Kate reluctantly agrees to an interview.

Alex Hanson dominates the world of computer game programming, but secretly he suspects he might be a sub in the bedroom. There’s only one good way to find out—hire a professional to show him the ropes.

Their first meeting puts both of them to the test—Alex’s self-control, and Kate’s realization she might just like him a little too much. But there’s no denying their emotions are inextricably entangled…a dangerous step Kate’s not sure her heart is prepared to take.
Warning: Contains a hard-core computer geek with a tender side, and a Domme who can’t afford to expose her greatest weakness—him. Geekery combined with flogging. Enjoy!

Buy Links:
Amazon
B&N
Samhain
iBooks
Google Play
All Romance eBooks

Cover reveal! Strictly Business – Book one of Hooded Pleasures!

I’m thrilled to announce the first cover in my new erotic romance series with Samhain Publishing – I give you Strictly Business, Book One of Hooded Pleasures!

StrictlyBusiness300

You can lead a Domme to love…but you can’t make her fall.

Kate Dubois is a Domme-for-hire for the highly exclusive Hooded Pleasures, a service offering private BDSM sessions to those who can’t—or won’t—risk appearing in an actual club.

Lately, though, she wonders if professional burnout is causing her to have painful flashbacks to a past heartbreak. When her boss insists her next client will be a breath of fresh air, Kate reluctantly agrees to an interview.

Alex Hanson dominates the world of computer game programming, but secretly he suspects he might be a sub in the bedroom. There’s only one good way to find out—hire a professional to show him the ropes.

Their first meeting puts both of them to the test—Alex’s self-control, and Kate’s realization she might just like him a little too much. But there’s no denying their emotions are inextricably entangled…a dangerous step Kate’s not sure her heart is prepared to take.

Coming October 20th from Samhain Publishing!

SamhainLogo-300x125

And there’s two more books on the way!

Strictly Pleasure and Strictly Yours – due to be published in March and May of 2016!

So set aside a little reading time to meet Kate and Alex – you won’t regret it!

But wait… let’s take a look at what Kate Dubois is all about–

StrictlyBusiness72web

Strictly Business

Kate Dubois was bored.

She looked down at the man nuzzling her bare ankle. She’d let him strip off the leather boot after he’d pleaded for the privilege, begged for ten minutes.

His lips ran over her ankle, soft kisses caressing her skin. He sighed as he worshipped her body.

A memory resurfaced of Carl, kneeling at her feet and doing the same. It’d been different, felt different—his body tensed up like a watch wound one twist too tight.

He looked up, and she knew it was over.

Kate gulped.

“Mistress?” Dan looked up at her with wide eyes. “Am I doing something wrong?”

Damn.

“No, pet. You’re perfect.” She reached down and patted his head before tangling her fingers in his long black locks. A gentle tug brought a moan from the kneeling man. “But I don’t recall giving permission for you to speak.” Kate ran her fingers along the leather collar. “Do you?”

The momentary flash of panic in his eyes warmed her heart.

She tapped the leather paddle she held in her left hand against her leg. “I thought not. I think a few strokes should remind you of your manners. Continue your venerations while I make my decision about how many you’ve earned with your disobedience.”

He shook with a mixture of need and fear before bending down.

Kate switched the paddle to her right hand and eyed the already-pink skin on Dan’s exposed behind. She’d worked him over for a good half hour, bending him over his couch like an errant schoolboy.

He could take ten more strokes.

Maybe twenty.

Dan gasped as the black leather snapped against his sensitive skin, but said nothing, continuing to lick and kiss her bare foot.

Nineteen to go.

The soft chime from her phone reminded her she had fifteen minutes left. Kate smiled and continued the count.

Never leave a good job unfinished.

Never leave them fully satisfied.

She’d pulled on her track pants and sweatshirt while Dan was in the washroom, trading her boots for a pair of comfortable sneakers. Most times she could slip her trench coat on over her attire and leave, but it was a bright and sunny day outside and the coat would only raise more questions than it’d quell.

Dan met her at the door, wearing a pair of shorts and with a damp towel around his neck. The leather collar was gone, safely tucked away. He was still munching on the chocolate bar she’d given him during their post-session hugging. His pupils were focused and clear, showing her he’d come back to himself after the intense emotional trip.

“Thank you.” He held out his debit card. “Really needed this today.”

She smiled. “Glad I could help you.”

In another life, Dan was a high-priced lawyer, one of the best in the city. He ran his law firm with an iron grip and was famous for his vicious verbal attacks in court that eviscerated lesser lawyers and their clients.

Here, he was a bad boy needing to be punished and put in his place for imagined slights.

Dan couldn’t go to a regular BDSM club—the danger was too high he’d be recognized. Thus he’d become a client of Hooded Pleasures, the company Kate worked for.

In retrospect, she wondered why no one had thought of doing something like this before. Safe, sane, consensual and all within the privacy of your own home. There were plenty of men and women who wanted the experience but couldn’t or wouldn’t go to a club. Or who wanted the thrill without the relationship.

This was perfect.

She ran his debit card through the slot on her cell phone and handed it back to him. “Two weeks from now, then?”

He nodded, his steely blue eyes a thousand miles away from the meek sub she’d had at her feet earlier. “I have a big murder case coming up. Definitely need the time.”

“I understand.” Kate hefted the duffle bag onto her shoulder, the leather paddle safely tucked away with her other toys. “Please call the switchboard if there’s any change. I’ll see you then.”

He opened the door to let her out. “Nice sweats.”

Kate smiled, going with the joke. “Feel the burn.”

“Next time, then.” Dan raised his voice as Kate walked out into the hall. “Need to work on my cardio.”

It wasn’t for her benefit.

Kate nodded at the nosy little old lady neighbor who peeked out from two doors down.

Mrs. Henderson never missed a chance to eavesdrop on what happened on her floor.

Good thing Dan enjoyed the ball gag.