Rite of First Claim

By: Qwillia Rain

Diablo Blanco Club:Rite of First Claim






Dedication



For Jennifer Cole, Melody Rahl, Elijana Kindel, and Cassandra Gold.

I thank you for your patience and sympathetic ears (and eyes) as I did battle with the most stubborn pair of lovers I have ever created.

Damn those Halsey men and Lawrence women!

For my editor, Mary.

I appreciate your slogging through the morass of ick to find the gold nugget in this book!

I still haven’t forgiven you for Maass’s The Fire In Fiction, but I’m gettin’ there. LOL

And for Mom—who reads my books even though they aren’t mysteries.

—Qwillia





Chapter One



Halloween was a time for playing and parties. And—if Lyssa Lawrence was lucky—a little magic. According to rumor, the Diablo Blanco Club’s Midnight Masquerade was the ultimate party. Innuendo and speculation abounded about what went on inside those thick, stone walls on Halloween.

Like Vegas, what happened in the Diablo Blanco Club stayed in the Diablo Blanco Club, which made it the best setting for what locals and members dubbed Select-a-Sub Night. And the perfect opportunity for Lyssa to deploy her plan.

“I can do this. I can do this.” Lyssa’s steady whispers filled the interior of her car. Each word kept time with the rhythmic click-click of the turn signal as she hesitated at the Club’s private drive.

No vehicles were visible in front of or behind her on the narrow state road, but her reluctance had less to do with traffic and more to do with her reasons for attending the Midnight Masquerade.

She forced her foot off the brake, onto the gas pedal, and applied firm pressure, moving her sedan across the empty highway and onto the paved lane toward an uncertain future.

In the distance, she could see the glow of the parking lot security lights over the trees that lined the road and covered most of the hundred and twenty acres surrounding the Club. Whispers echoed in her head with every yard closer. I can do this. The nerves tightened in her chest. Do I want to do this?

“Get over it,” she snapped. “You have to do this.” She’d waged this internal debate for the last two weeks. Ever since Mike Halsey’s annual invitation to the masquerade had arrived in the mail, just as it had for the last four years.

What happens when Mike finds out what you’ve done?

Again her foot eased off the accelerator.

Lyssa didn’t doubt Mike would discover what she’d done. It was his reaction she wasn’t sure she could predict. Not that she really cared if he was upset about her finding another lover; he’d lost the right to comment when he’d chosen a job over her four years ago. She shook off the sense of unease and focused on the Club. It loomed ahead of her. Every time Lyssa approached the building, her body tingled with an anticipation she steadfastly tried to ignore. The energy she had felt the few times she’d entered drew her.

The pull could have been due to the nature of the building’s purpose. Or it might have been memories of the first night her sister, Mattie, had dragged Lyssa to the Club for a quick look-see. Within an hour of their arrival, one of the Club’s owners, Bryce Halsey, had arrived and escorted Mattie upstairs. His younger brother, Mike, had stifled Lyssa’s protests before he hustled her down a hall, into a storage closet, and repeatedly fucked her to multiple orgasms.

Lyssa shook off the dangerous images from that night and fought the urge to indulge the fantasies of playing submissive to Mike’s dominant she’d buried deep inside. “Think about the plan,” she mumbled.

A plan hatched because of a silly hiccup in her biological clock. Stupid hormones. Who would’ve thought turning forty could wreak such havoc? Early signs of menopause. Nothing had prepared Lyssa for her doctor’s diagnosis after a routine exam over two months ago. Which meant the children Lyssa had always wanted couldn’t stay a dream for someday in the distant future. She needed to do something about it. Now.

The idea of insemination at a fertility clinic seemed too cold and sterile. Even if it was just for the purpose of creating a baby, she wanted some kind of connection, brief as it might be, to the father of her child. A chance to tell her baby that there had been more than test tubes and syringes involved in his or her conception. After weeks of tracking her temperature and using ovulation test kits, Lyssa thought she was ready.