Siren Unleashed -- (Texas Sirens 7) - Coming October 26, 2012 on Bookstrand, Menage Everlasting, MFM
Twin detectives Ben and Chase Dawson have been sent to investigate an unusual murder at a resort owned by Julian Lodge. Julian wants them to protect the prime suspect, a young submissive who was the last person to see the victim alive. The job seems simple until Ben and Chase discover that the beautiful submissive they both desire has a dark past.
Natalie Buchanan came to the Willow Fork Tranquility Spa seeking sanctuary after escaping the clutches of a twisted sadist. Working as a massage therapist at the resort has given her a chance to heal as well as access to the spa’s secret dungeon. But when one of her regular clients ends up dead on her table, Natalie fears that the monster she once escaped has come back to claim her.
As Natalie rediscovers the beauty of BDSM with her twin Masters, all three will be forced to confront her past.
A Siren Erotic Romance
(The following excerpt is for adults only!)
Natalie Buchanan hated dead bodies. Yet they just kept turning up. At least she hadn’t been the direct cause of this one.
“How long until the ambulance is here?” Nat asked. She needed to get out of the small room, but she couldn’t force herself to move. If she moved, even an inch, she just might run, and she couldn’t do that. She was a professional. She could handle this.
Chris Linwood sighed, looking down at the body briefly. “It might be a while. The hospital told me there was a bad traffic accident out on the highway, and living bodies take precedence over corpses.” He turned his green eyes toward her. “Are you all right?”
Her hands were shaking. Her gut was in complete turmoil. Stan Kirkman was lying on her massage table, his eyes wide open and glassy, nothing left to animate his big body. He’d been the self-proclaimed low-priced Furniture King of East Texas, his commercials running on local stations late at night. He’d been coming to her once a week since the Willow Fork Tranquility Spa had opened.
Why, oh why did he have to have a heart attack now? She wasn’t at all surprised that the man had up and died. He looked perfectly fit, but she’d seen how much bacon was in the dude’s diet.
“I called the cops, too. It’s procedure. Melissa is out in the lobby, keeping everyone out.” Melissa was the receptionist. She was also a terrible gossip. She would be on the phone to everyone while she watched the door. Chris took her hand. “Gaby’s on her way. Is there something you want to tell me?”
She felt her eyes widen. “No. Why?”
Chris was the second-in-command to his boss, Gabrielle Reed. One of his main jobs was handling employee relations. He was a good supervisor. Nat was beginning to wonder if he would still be her supervisor in a few minutes. He was looking at her with deep sympathy in his eyes.
“Chris, when I left him, he was perfectly fine. I didn’t do anything unusual. It was exactly the same massage I’ve been giving him for over a year. Deep tissue. He liked it a little rough.” Shit. That sounded bad.
His lips turned down. “Sweetie, I can smell the sex in this room.”
Nat took a deep whiff and sure enough, there it was. “Eww. Damn it. I should have known he wasn’t taking a freaking nap.” She strode out the door and into the tiny hallway. Lit with serene lights, one whole wall was a rock waterfall. Soft, melodic music played. None of it soothed her right now. She forced oxygen into her lungs.
Chris followed her out. “What are you trying to say, Nat?”
“Stan pays for double the time, but the last hour, I lock him in and let him sleep. He claims it’s the only way he can relax.” Claimed. She had to use the past tense because he was dead. Stan could relax forever now.
“Nat, who saw you in the last hour?”
Who saw her? Holy crap. Was he asking for an alibi? “He had a heart attack, Chris. I didn’t magically give him a heart attack.”
“I’m not saying you did. I am saying that a prominent member of this deeply closed-minded society is lying dead on your table, and he seems to have had some form of sex before he died. I’m a little worried about you.”
Gaby Reed rounded the corner, out of breath and slightly disheveled. Gaby was in the latter half of her thirties, a pretty woman with light brown hair and gray-green eyes. Those intelligent eyes were wide as she stopped. “What the hell is going on? I got a 911 page to come here.”
Chris pointed to room number three. Gaby stuck her head in.
“So you think the people around here are going to think I was doing Stan the Furniture Man?” She hated those commercials. They were loud, so much louder than the rest of the shows on at three in the morning. Sadly, Nat watched TV at three in the morning because she didn’t sleep much. She’d cringed every time Stan started yelling about low prices, but the man had tipped well.
And now that she thought about it, he did have like five kids. Maybe this was the only place he could jerk off. But she shouldn’t be punished for it.
Chris sighed. “You’re practically a nun, sweetie. I know that. I also know you’re lonely. Loneliness can cause even smart people to do stupid things.”
Her skin crawled at the thought of climbing on the table with Stan, though Chris was right about the lonely part. “I didn’t sleep with Stan.”
Leaning against the non-watery wall, Chris sighed. “Okay. But there will be rumors. This town runs on them. Of course, I don’t know that it will affect you. It’s not like you spend a ton of time in town.”
She preferred the resort and her little living space. She had nice strong locks on her doors. She’d installed them herself, not trusting the ones the resort had installed.
She didn’t go to bars. Ever. She didn’t hang out with friends. She took the occasional babysitting job out at the Barnes-Fleetwood ranch, but that was the extent of her social life. She spent her free time with a seven-year-old and an overly possessive four-year-old. She did her job and she went home.
What the hell would she do if she got fired?
She would have to move. She would have to find another job. An apartment. Probably a way less safe place. Tears filled her eyes. She didn’t want to move. She was finally starting to find some normalcy.
Pressure started to build. God. She didn’t want to go there again. She’d been so good, so calm for months. She couldn’t go back to that dark place.
“Calm down, sweetie. It’s going to be okay.” Chris gave her a little hug. This, too, was something she’d finally gotten used to again. Touching. Affection. It was easy to take it from Chris. He was gay and happily settled down with a former hockey player and a beautiful little girl they’d adopted. She could handle Chris touching her.
But lately she’d been wondering if she couldn’t handle an actual straight guy.
It certainly wouldn’t have been Stan.
Gaby walked back out, her face a grim mask. She pocketed her phone. “The cops are on their way up. You will not say a word until Cal gets here. He’ll be here in a minute. He had to wait for Nita to come watch the kids. Now, give me a rundown. That’s Stan Kirkman, right?”
Nat went over everything again. She had the feeling she would be telling this completely boring—except for the dead body—story over and over again all day long. When she finished, Gaby nodded.
“I’ll need you to pull his file and any notes you have on him. I’ll call the business office. We have to inform the insurance carrier.”
“But I didn’t do anything.” Chaos. It was what she dreaded. Nat’s deepest fear was being out of control again. She was going to lose her job, and she couldn’t think of a way to fix it.
“I have to tell them, Nat. Even if he just had a heart attack, we’re probably looking at some sort of lawsuit. People love to sue hotels and spas. Calm down. We’ve got great insurance.”
Nat forced herself to chill. She wasn’t thinking straight. Panic was threatening to take over. She’d been a massage therapist for years. She knew what happened. She’d always carried insurance because Gaby was right. Clients liked to sue. It was just the cost of doing business. Would she be placed on leave while they investigated?
“The good news is we don’t have a long list of clients this afternoon. Only you and Gretchen were working,” Gaby said. “I’ve had Melissa cancel the rest of the clients. We can reopen tomorrow. And I’ve got a call in to Julian Lodge.”
There was a long sigh. “You don’t have to call that guy, do you?” A paunchy, middle-aged man strode into the hall. He was dressed in a khaki uniform and looked completely incongruous given the elegant, Asian lines of the spa. He stared at the waterfall wall. “What the hell is this place?”
“It’s a spa, Sheriff,” Gaby replied. “It’s supposed to be soothing.”
He frowned. “I guess. Where’s the stiff? And seriously, we don’t need to call in that Lodge guy. Did this pretty thing here kill the man?”
“No. I didn’t touch him. Well, I touched him. I massaged him. Not like in some weird, kinky way. In a therapeutic way. His traps are always like solid rock. I swear I work his shoulders for most of the time we’re in there.” She sounded like an idiot. She was babbling on about muscles and pressure points and the sheriff just looked more and more confused.
Gaby stared at her. She’d seen that look on Gaby’s face when her toddlers got out of line. Nat closed her mouth.
The sheriff shook his head. “This place gives me the creeps. Who’s the stiff? Tourist?”
“Stanley Kirkman,” Chris replied.
The sheriff’s eyes went wide. “Stan? That crazy guy on TV? He’s the stiff?”
Nat nodded. “Yes.”
“Well, hell, girl, why didn’t you tell me this was a celebrity? I would have put on my clean shirt.” He rolled his eyes a little. “Don’t worry about it. It don’t surprise me at all that Stan would end like that. Everyone knows what a freak that man was. And probably an alcoholic.” He got on his radio. “Lydia, where the hell is my bus? Tell those paramedics to get it in gear.” He winked Nat’s way. “Hope he didn’t try anything on you.”
She shrugged a little. “Only the once. We came to an understanding.” He didn’t touch her ass, and she didn’t break his nose again. She’d been kind of surprised he’d come back.
Callum Reed chose that moment to show up, the lean, handsome lawyer looking immaculate. “Sheriff, I’d like to speak to Natalie for a moment, if you don’t mind? Please let us know if we can do anything to help with your investigation.”
“Investigation? I swear you city folk watch way too much television. Just send the EMTs back when they get here. We’ll get old Stan out of your way as soon as possible. So you don’t need to call that Lodge fella.” He grumbled a little as he pushed into the room. “Never thought I’d meet a man I want to deal with less than Jack Barnes…”
Cal looked down at her. “Are you all right?”
Was she? When she’d realized Stan was dead, just for a moment her sight had morphed and it hadn’t been Stan she was looking at. It had been Hawk’s face, draining of life as his blood stained the floor all around her. She hadn’t screamed. She hadn’t screamed then. Quiet. She’d been quiet. She’d learned that early on. She could keep quiet or Hawk might take her tongue.
“Natalie? Natalie?” Cal’s hard tone brought her out of the past. “Stay with me.”
She shook her head, trying to come back to the now. She had to stay in the game. There would be time enough for her nightmares later. “I’m fine. Sorry. I gave Mr. Kirkman his usual. He books two hours, uses one for deep tissue service, and then he actually pays to have me lock him in. I wake him up after fifty minutes. He claims it’s the only time he gets to be alone. When I knocked to wake him up, he didn’t answer. I unlocked the door, and he was dead.”
Cal sighed, almost reaching out to touch her. It wasn’t unusual. He was a Dom and she was a sub, no matter how badass she tried to be. But that was a problem for her because no matter how much she liked her boss’s husband, she just couldn’t let a Dom touch her. She moved back, almost jumping to avoid the contact.
“Sorry, Natalie.” Cal took a step back, too, as though giving her extra space. Nat couldn’t miss the fact that his wife put her hand into his as though softening the rejection.
Yep, that was her. Natalie Buchanan. Rejecter of affection. Able to blow a Dom’s ego with a single look.
“Can I go now?” She wanted to get back to her room. Four walls. Lots of locks. No expectations.
Fuck, she was lonely. And she didn’t even know how to take a single comforting touch.
Cal shook his head. “I’m sorry. I think you need to stay here until the sheriff sorts everything out. He probably had a heart attack, but you never know. Someone may have questions. Just know that I’ll be right here with you. I’ll protect your interests. And I don’t care what the sheriff says. Someone better call Lodge or heads will roll. Probably mine. Why don’t you go sit down, Natalie? I’ll handle this.”
Julian Lodge. Her…what the fuck was he? Savior? Dude who kept her out of jail? Mentor?
She walked down the hallway in a bit of a daze, her brain playing through the past. Julian Lodge had been the one to come to the jail the night she’d killed Hawk. She could remember it so vividly. One moment she’d been trying to explain that the man they knew as Eric Norris wasn’t the upstanding businessman he’d presented himself to be and that she’d been his victim. The next, a big, elegant man in a designer suit walked in followed by another man with hard eyes and a large briefcase. Julian Lodge and Finn Taylor. Finn had turned out to be a lawyer. She’d been out of jail within hours, remanded to Julian’s custody. She’d been on a private jet to Dallas with Kitten and Gretchen. Finn Taylor turned out to be Kitten’s cousin. He was also Lodge’s submissive and partner. They’d been looking for Kitten for months. They took Nat and Gretchen in, too. When the plane had touched down in Dallas, they’d been greeted by two people. One was a big man named Leo, who couldn’t hide his Dom stature behind all the huggy shrink crap in the world, and a pretty blonde woman. When she’d shrunk back from Leo, he’d nodded and walked away, leaving her with Janine.
She really wanted to talk to Janine, but it was just a crutch.
She sat down in the private waiting room. She liked to call it the green room because even the light was a low, natural color.
The door opened and Gretchen stormed in. “What the fuck is going on? Chris just told me my last two appointments were cancelled. What’s happening?”
Gretchen’s mouth turned down as she slumped into the seat next to Nat. “Are you shitting me?”
Gretchen had a terrible potty mouth, but Nat had gotten used to it. “Nope. He dropped dead on my table.”
“Fuck. That’s terrible. No wonder we’re shut down.” She turned to Nat, her face relaxing a little. “Did you, you know, find him?”
“Yep.” All six foot dead of him.
Gretchen sat there for a moment. “Geez, Nat. I’m sorry about that. I’m sure that was stressful.”
Yep. Stressful. “I’m fine.”
“Can I get you something? Water? Do you need me to work your shoulders? You carry all your stress in your shoulders.” Gretchen frowned, a concerned look. “Your shoulders are up around your ears. Let’s find a room and I’ll start some lavender aromatherapy and we’ll get you relaxed.”
She must be really bad if Gretchen was so concerned.
Before she had a chance to answer, the door opened again, and Cal walked in, a dark look on his face. “Natalie, we’re going to need to go to the station.”
Paperwork? All she wanted to do was go home. The last thing she wanted was to be stuck in the Willow Fork Sheriff’s Department “Why?”
“The circumstances of Stan’s death are not natural. They’re bringing you in for questioning. I’ve convinced the sheriff not to handcuff you. I know how you feel about that, Natalie. I’m going to do everything I can to keep you out of a holding cell.”
Holding cell. Cage. Cuffs. Nat took a deep breath, but the oxygen didn’t quite fill her lungs. The room spun and blessed darkness took her.
* * * *
Chase Dawson yawned, forcing himself to a semi-awake state. It had been a late night. Mandy, Sandy, something like that, had been voracious. And the tiniest bit frightening. A twinge went through his lower back. Mandy whatshername believed in a quality of athleticism to sex that just might be past his thirty-five years. He was getting fucking old.
God, he couldn’t believe he missed the days of Kitten. Undemanding Kitten, who had to sign a contract that he couldn’t have sex with her. His nights with Kitten had been filled with petting her head while she kneeled at his feet as he watched a game or worked on his computer. And she’d gotten him beer. Sure, she sometimes got lost between the living room and the kitchen, but she was utterly undemanding.
When the fuck had sex gotten boring?
The door opened, and Julian walked in the room, followed by his wife, Danielle.
Dani was here? What the hell had he done? He searched his memory trying to connect Mandy/Sandy with the twistable spine and way too much strength in her thighs to Danielle, because if he’d fucked with her sister or something, he was about to get his ass kicked.
“Thanks for coming down on short notice, Chase. I was surprised you didn’t go with Ben,” Julian said.
“I don’t do airplanes.”
Julian’s mouth turned down. “You don’t do airplanes?”
He shook his head. “Nope. They crash. Like a lot.” He tried to stay out of small, pressurized metal cans whether they were at thirty thousand feet or under the ocean. He was a human. Not a fish or a bird. Chase believed in Darwinism, and that included not allowing his brilliant mind to be selected out because he put too much faith in technology.
Julian stopped and took a long breath. He did that a lot around Chase. Chase was deeply aware that Julian would rather deal with Ben. Everyone did. It didn’t bother him. “Chase, you were a Navy SEAL.”
“Hey, once a SEAL, always a SEAL.” Except those fuckers who’d tried to kill him a few months ago. Of course, they were trying to kill Ben and had gotten him by mistake. Fuck. Even murdering bastards preferred Ben to him.
“You understand it stands for sea, air, and land. How the hell did you handle that? Don’t you have to make a HALO jump?”
He shuddered. “Ben insisted we get certified. What can I say? I was younger then.” And Ben had pushed him out of the plane. Oh, he hadn’t laid a hand on him, but that invisible tether that connected them had forced Chase to follow his brother when the danger was high.
Luckily making a run to Colorado to help find Kitten a Dom wasn’t a dangerous thing. Though he’d heard stories about that town. And there was that call he’d gotten earlier. He grinned. Yeah, setting that bundle of trouble on Ben had been fun. He had no idea what was coming for him.
Julian let it go. “We’ve had a problem at Danielle’s resort. Come, little one, sit down. Put your feet up. I’ll get you a bottle of water.”
Danielle Lodge-Taylor took her husband’s seat behind the desk without any hesitation. How fucking far she’d come. When Chase had met her she was sweet, but completely mousy, a true submissive who had found great strength in her relationship with Julian Lodge and Finn Taylor. She’d gone back to school, opened a business, and now was pregnant. Really pregnant.
“Spa or club?” Chase asked, relieved that this seemed to be about business and not him fucking the wrong chick. Because he often fucked the wrong chick. He had the scars to prove it.
The Willow Fork resort was two-pronged in Chase’s mind. There was the spa/dude ranch aspect. That was the “daytime” portion of the resort. Horseback riding. Massages. Touristy crap. But there was a section of the resort that came alive at night. The dungeon. Danielle’s resort catered to people in the lifestyle.
If something craptastic had happened, he hoped it was in the dungeon. He was bored. Life had ground to a nasty little circle that left him deeply unfulfilled. He woke up, usually long after the sun had risen. He ate some crap because he didn’t cook and Ben was usually still at someone else’s house doing the “domesticity for a day” thing he did so well. He played around on his computer, pretending he still mattered, and then he got dressed for the dungeon, found another meaningless girl, and started the cycle all over again.
A little excitement was just what the doctor ordered.
“Spa,” Julian replied.
Fuck. The last thing he needed was to deal with Dani’s accounting problems. Still, he wasn’t about to say no to her. “Tell me about it.”
He’d have to go to bum-fuck, back-ass nowhere and figure out who’d taken more than their fair share of tips.
“Do you remember the incident that brought Kitten to us?” Dani accepted the bottle of water Julian handed to her.
How could he forget? Kitten had been held in utter slavery by a psychotic asshole. She’d been held against her will at the beginning and then indoctrinated into a sort of Stockholm syndrome. The mindfuck the bastard had used on her had worked all too well. Her captor had taken her into all sorts of public situations without her running for help. He’d had two women he’d forced into slavery. When he’d tried taking a third, the bastard had finally gotten what he deserved. A nice knife to the gut. Natalie Buchanan. He’d read her file somewhere along the way. He hadn’t actually met her, but he liked a woman who could wield a knife.
He was fucked in the head. He wouldn’t get on a freaking plane, but he was thinking about screwing the girl with the knife.
“Well, the two women who were with Kitten currently work at the spa as massage therapists. She would really like to go see them. It’s been a while. Gretchen was up here a couple of months ago, but getting Natalie to travel is difficult.”
“So whatever I’m doing down there, I would also be responsible for Kitten?” How the hell was he supposed to handle an investigation when he was constantly worried that Kitten would follow something shiny and get lost? “I don’t think that’s such a good idea. Kitten likes her leash. I can’t walk around the vanilla side of the resort with a hundred-pound woman on a leash.”
He could. He’d done it before, but it tended to hamper investigations.
There was a brisk knock at the door and then the puppy entered. Oh, the puppy was six foot three inches, pure muscled Colorado boy, but there was something about Logan Green that just reminded Chase of an overgrown puppy.
“Sorry. I just got the text,” Logan said.
Three months into his training with Leo, Logan was more confident. And he hit people less. Chase wasn’t sure that was a good thing. He liked a little tussle every now and then, and all his friends were getting married. It had turned them into whiny, pussy-whipped emo kings who no longer liked a good punch in the face.
“Thanks for joining us,” Julian said, his hand on his wife’s shoulder. “I was going to send Ben and Chase down to check out something for me at the resort. I would go myself, but Danielle is due any day now. She can’t travel.”
“She can barely move. She is bigger than a whale,” Dani grumbled. She gasped just a little. “But baby Chloe can move. That was a nice kick.”
Julian’s face practically lit up, his hand finding her round belly in an instant. “Come on, baby, kick for Papa.”
Dani had a tiny smile on her face as she looked at her husband. “He’ll sit like this for hours.”
Chase was surrounded by baby-minded alien transplants. He was sure of it. He believed in conspiracy, and though this one seemed to be a natural function of the biological imperative to breed that somehow led to every man he knew handing his balls over to some sub on a silver platter, it was still a conspiracy. Especially since it seemed to be catching. Good men were going down all the time.
Even Leo had transformed from good-time guy to someone Chase was a little afraid might break into song. If that happened, it was his duty to put his brother’s old SEAL teammate down.
Chase turned a little and saw Logan had no idea what the fuck was going on, either. They sent each other shrugs and a little grunt, the true communication of real men. It was something that said, “Dude, I do not get that and never will.”
Yeah, he could hang with Logan, maybe better than with Ben these days. Ben seemed on the edge of finally figuring out that he could do way better without Chase around.
The good news was Logan could take months to figure that out.
Julian laughed as his hand jumped. “That’s my girl.”
Chase cleared his throat, his universal sign for “someone better tell me why I’m still here.”
Julian laughed a little as though figuring out he’d really gone over the deep end. “Sorry. We’re getting close to the finish line. I get distracted. Now, I’ll send Ben along, too, when he returns, but I’m afraid this won’t wait. Finn is already in the air. Callum Reed is at the sheriff’s office, but Finn won’t pass this off. He feels he owes those women too much to let someone else handle it.”
One of Kitten’s friends got caught with her hands in the cookie jar? Damn. That was going to suck ass. He hated being the bearer of bad tidings. Scratch that. He hated being the bearer of bad tidings when he liked the person he had to disappoint. When he didn’t care about the person, he was perfectly fine telling them that their wife-husband-business partner was a complete douchebag and their life savings was gone.
He would have made a good Grim Reaper.
“What are we supposed to do?” Logan asked.
Dani leaned forward. “I was hoping you would take Kitten down to Willow Fork for a little visit. She’s worried about her friends. As we haven’t been able to find her a Dom, we really need someone to watch her.”
Kitten had proven to be picky when it came to Doms. And everyone was indulging her because she was finally using personal pronouns.
Logan shrugged. “Sure. I haven’t been out of Dallas in months. It might be nice. Does anyone know where her leash is?”
Julian sighed. “Let’s try to break her of the leash outside of the dungeon, Logan. How about just keeping an eye on her?”
A grimace crossed the puppy’s face. “Yeah, I don’t know about that. She can get away really fast.”
Julian stared him down.
“I will totally keep her safe, Mr. Lodge.” Logan’s face went carefully blank, but Chase would bet he was calculating the odds of this new mission going well.
“Don’t forget I LoJacked her.” Kitten had a tracking device in her collar. It had come in handy more than once, especially a few months back when he’d nearly been horrifically murdered by asshole mercenaries who had mistaken him for his way nicer twin brother. “And we won’t be there long. What’s this case?” He could see it now. The Case of the Quick-Handed Sub. The Case of the Dumb-ass Sub Who Got Caught.
“A prominent member of the community was murdered, and Natalie is being questioned for the crime.”
Chase sat up, his previous ennui evaporating. Dead bodies? Scandal? Chicks who kill? Yeah, there it was. He knew he still had a little adrenaline left in his system.
“How’d he die?” Chase was deeply aware that he practically fucking giggled the question.
Julian stared for a moment, probably remembering all the reasons he preferred to deal with Ben. “Apparently someone shoved a needle into his back during sex.”
Black widow killer. Yeah.
And she was Kitten’s friend.
And she’d probably murdered some dude during sex.
Pros. Cons. It didn’t matter. Finally, he wasn’t bored. Chase stood. “Come on, Watson. Let’s get going. The game is afoot!”
Logan stared at him blankly. “Dude, my name is Logan.”
And he wasn’t terribly literate. It didn’t matter. For the first time in months, Chase wanted to do something. Catch a killer.
Copyright © 2012 SOPHIE OAK
For the rest of the book, please visit www.bookstrand.com.