Cherished:A Masters and Mercenaries Novella

By: Lexi Blake

Chapter One

There was something deeply humiliating about begging and pleading while wearing a corset and a thong. Oh, Bridget Slaten was fairly certain it helped most women get what they wanted, but it didn’t seem to be working for her. Then again, she was kind of using the tools on the wrong crowd. Somehow, she didn’t see her gay hubby and female and straight best friend responding to her boobs hanging out.

She looked across the room and saw Will Daley striding across the club toward the bar. Would he respond to her boobs hanging out?

She consigned that line of thinking to the same place she always shoved the idea of writing that science fiction romance where her heroine was the only woman left on an earth made up entirely of Channing Tatums. Sure it was a fun idea, but it wouldn’t work in the long run. The man made her heart pound—Will in this case, though obviously Channing did it for her, too—but there was zero chance that she would have anything to do with either of them. Will was out of her league looks wise and she wasn’t looking for a one-night hookup, which was all a woman ever got from him.

No way. No how. She’d gone through too much crap to willingly walk into the fire again. She hadn’t had sex since she’d kicked Benjy out, and that was probably the safest bet.

Still, she couldn’t help but watch the way he moved, his every limb a testament to masculine grace.

“If you don’t watch out you’re going to need a rag to catch the drool, honey,” Chris said.

She turned to one of her two best friends. Both Chris Roberts and Serena Dean-Miles were sitting in the decadent booth where their Doms had left them. Bridget sighed because no one had ordered her to wait for him. She’d only been coming to Sanctum for three weeks. She couldn’t expect that she would find a regular in that time. She wasn’t stupid. She knew she was considered a bit difficult. She’d been training with two of the approved regulars, Jesse Murdoch, who was a sweetheart and a half, and Mitchell Bradford, who kind of scared the crap out of her, but he was good with ropes. Still, they weren’t hers and never would be. She was, as she always seemed to be, alone among the happily paired off. Time. It simply took time. That’s what she tried to tell herself. Some day her Dom would come and all that shit.

She knew one thing though. It wouldn’t be gorgeous, smart, hunky, hot and manwhorey neurosurgeon Dr. William Daley.

“I am not drooling. It’s just weird to see him here. He moved into my building last month.” She’d watched him moving his boxes in, the Texas heat causing him to sweat and get rid of that shirt he should never, ever be allowed to wear. His chest was a work of art, and he had those notches on his hips she wrote about so lovingly in her romance novels. She’d stared at him and sighed, and he’d looked up at her with an arrogant grin right before three women walked up behind him, obviously helping him move. A harem. He had a harem of beautiful women who followed him around. They came to his condo at all hours of the day or night, sometimes in singles, more often as a slender, graceful pack.

She’d already been one of many and she hadn’t even known about it until the end. She wasn’t going to walk into a relationship where the man was sure to cheat.

“It’s all my fault. Well, not really mine. It’s Derek’s. I told him about the empty condos and he’s been mentoring Will. When Will changed jobs, he wanted a new place because of…well, because of the stuff that went down.” Serena’s voice trailed off.

Stuff? There was stuff? Shit. She really wanted to know the stuff. Like now, but she forced herself to play it cool. She kept staring straight ahead and kept her tone as negligent as possible. “Stuff?”

Chris snorted, a sound he somehow managed to make elegant. “Don’t even try it, sweetie. You can’t make me believe you aren’t interested in that man.”

Serena bit her bottom lip and sighed—a sure sign that she knew something everyone else didn’t. She’d been best friends with Serena and Chris for a very long time, and she knew their tells. And naturally they knew hers. “I don’t know that being interested in Master Will is a good idea. Why don’t you let me set you up with one of the new guys? There are some seriously cute men Ian’s recruiting lately.”