Dungeon Royale(9)By: Lexi Blake
It was time to figure out who the hell she was, and she couldn’t do it here. She couldn’t do it if she was always, always so afraid.
Her mother had sent her a lifeline, a prayer for her.
Without another thought, without letting her brain take back over, she found her phone. The number she needed had been left in the file, and she dialed it with shaking hands.
One chance. If she didn’t do this, she likely would wake up tomorrow and come up with some excuse to go back to her safe life, but some decisions had to come from emotion, from instinct—from love.
The phone rang once and then again.
“This is Knight.” His deep voice rumbled into her ear.
If she did this, she would likely have sex with him. She would know what it meant to be Damon Knight’s lover.
“Penelope? Darling, are you there?” He was back to oozing charm. He must have seen her name on his caller identification.
“Yes.” She said it.
She could practically hear his satisfaction. “Yes. You said yes.”
“I’ll see you Monday.” When he’d said they had to start training. God, she was going to let him train her. In kinky things. In things that made her heart pound. Maybe she would finally understand what sex meant.
She hung up before he could say another word.
Clutching the tiny notebook, she sat down and cried, the tears somehow purifying.
Penelope Cash was finally and truly ready to begin.
Penny picked up a glass of white wine with a sigh. The reception had just begun but she was wondering if there was a way out. She wanted to get home. She had roughly eighteen hours before she was supposed to begin her rather odd training with Damon Knight, and she’d spent every spare minute reading up on the Internet about Dominance and submission.
She stepped behind one of the large potted palms decorating the space. Her aunt and uncle had spared no expense in celebrating their daughter’s wedding, but Penny couldn’t keep her mind on it.
What would it feel like when Damon Knight’s hands were on her body? She’d had one lover her entire life and they hadn’t exactly set the world on fire.
Damon was doing this for a mission. It wasn’t because he was desperate for her body. She had to remember that.
Still, every single word she’d read the night before made her scared. And every single word called to her.
She couldn’t be submissive. The images and words were playing through her mind even as she began to hear the conversations around her. Her family. They were a truly European family with members from across the EU. There were at least five different languages being spoken. Unfortunately, she understood most of them.
“Das arme Mädchen ist hübsch genug. Ich verstehe nicht, warum sie keinen Mann findet.”
Translation. The poor girl is pretty enough. I don’t understand why she can’t get a man.
Her aunt Angela. She was a widow who seemed to spend all her time gossiping and traveling amongst the family. And she almost always traveled with her sister, Aunt Edda.
“Nun, wenn sie einen Ehemann bekommen will, muß sie ein wenig abnehmen. Männer mögen keine beleibten Frauen.”
Translation. Well, if she wants to find a husband, she needs to lose some weight. Men don’t like portly women.
She moved away, walking toward the bar. It looked like she would need something stronger.
“Hän on ruumiinrakenteeltaan äitinsä kaltainen.”
Translation. She’s built like her mother, that one is.
“Ainakin Diana muistuttaa meidän sukuhaaraamme.”
Translation. At least Diana took after our side of the family.
Embarrassment flashed through her system. Two elderly women sat, hats perched on their silvery heads, drinking tea and gossiping about the people around them.
Gossiping about her.
Did anyone remember she spoke several different languages? Including the Finnish her father’s cousins were speaking now. She had a good mind to walk right up to them and tell them off in Finnish.
She turned away, catching sight of her sister and brother-in-law dancing together, smiles on their faces. George was standing next to his impossibly gorgeous boyfriend.
When she’d been a child, they’d called her a changeling. Diana and George were tall and statuesque. Penny had been short and could never get a handle on her weight. Her blonde hair kinked and never laid sleek and beautiful the way Diana’s did.
“The poor girl couldn’t even find a date.”
She didn’t need to translate that. It was spoken with a perfect British accent. Apparently her relatives didn’t think she could hear either.
She took a long drink and decided to head out. She smiled at the waiter who took her glass, but refused another. She didn’t have to stand there and take it. There was plenty to do at home. No one would miss her.
She turned and Peter was standing there, looking at her, his blandly handsome face smiling down.
He was dressed in a suit that was slightly too big for his lanky frame. There was not an ounce of muscle on Peter Bolling. Now that she really looked at him, he resembled a baby bird, his face soft and round, his body long and ridiculously lean.
She’d slept with him. She probably weighed more than him.
She was practically petite compared to Damon Knight.
His thin lips curled up in a semi smile. “It’s good to see you.”
“You, too.” Polite. That was what she needed to be. She would be polite and he would go away.
Why on earth was he even here? She glanced around and realized the answer to her question. Beatrice wasn’t paying attention to her bridegroom. She was leaning in, whispering to her sister and pointing at Penny.
Bitch. She’d set up the meeting.
Penny had absolutely no idea why her cousin hated her, but Bea had worked hard to make her life as much of a living hell as possible. From childhood, the woman had teased and bullied her about everything from her weight, to the way she dressed, to her lack of a boyfriend.
So she gave Peter a brilliant smile. Well, she hoped it was. “You look good.”
If Bea thought she was going to break down, she was wrong. She had to be strong. She was going into the field soon. She couldn’t be some girl who cried the minute she saw her ex.
Now that she was standing here looking at him, she had to wonder why she’d ever cried over him. He’d been her fiancé, her only lover, and she hadn’t really thought about him in over a year.
He smoothed down the lapels of his suit. “Yes, well, I have been working out, you see. I’ve been promoted. And I suppose you heard about me and Susana.”
Susana Henderson? Her cousin? “No. I hadn’t heard anything.”
He flushed a bit. “Oh. I thought someone would tell you and all. Uhm. Susana and I are seeing each other.”
“We’re doing a bit more than seeing each other,” a saccharine-sweet voice said. Susana was tall, her blonde hair stick-straight and lush. She was always perfectly made up and dressed as though she’d walked off a fashion runway. “We’re getting married.”
She showed off a magnificent ring, at least two carats.
When they’d been engaged, he’d claimed she didn’t need a ring. He’d convinced her they should save their money in order to purchase a flat of their own.
She felt her face heat as she realized everyone was looking at her, whispering behind their hands. George was making his way toward them, a worried look on his face.
“Sorry you had to find out this way,” Susana said in a way that let Penny know she wasn’t sorry at all. “No one wanted to tell you. Everyone feels sorry for you because they know you can’t keep a man yourself, but I’m sick of not being able to celebrate. I’m not going to let you ruin my happy time.”
“Susana! Peter.” Bea made her way over, a sly smile on her face. “Oh, let me see that ring.”
Everyone knew Peter hadn’t bought a ring for her. That’s what they would all be talking about now. Poor Penny. She didn’t even warrant a ring from her fiancé.
“I’ll let you get on with it, then.” Penny took a step back, desperately wanting to get out of the situation.
Her heel slid on the marble floor, and before she could catch herself, she landed on her bum, her dress bunching around her knees.
Tears filled her eyes. Everyone was looking at her. She was a thirty-two-year-old woman, but in that moment she was back to being the awkward girl who watched as the world passed her by.
“Pen?” Her brother was suddenly at her side. “What the hell happened?”
Humiliation threatened to overtake her, but she tried to put a stupid smile on her face. “I just slipped. I might have rolled my ankle a bit.”
George got down to one knee. “Don’t move. Let Harry take a look at your ankle.”
Harry, George’s incredibly handsome boyfriend, was also a doctor. He dropped down beside her, pressing past the now burgeoning crowd. “Let me just check, Penny. It looks perfectly fine, but tell me if anything hurts.”
“Good god, who the hell is that?” George asked, his eyes wide. “Harry, you know I love you, but I’m afraid I’ve just seen an actual Greek god.”
Penny looked up as the crowd began to part, everyone looking to the new guy.