(The Angel Eyes #1)
Publication date: February 1st 2020
Genres: Adult, Dystopian, Romance
A man bound by chains. A woman burdened by regret. Will love set this tortured pair free?In this nightmarish future where women own men, Bret Masters refuses to serve anyone. But after spending years evading slavers in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest, he’s furious when he’s finally caught and sold. So, although his mistress has a pretty face and deliciously tempting curves, he vows to escape.Angel Aldridge hides her pain behind fences as sturdy and vast as her ranch. And even though her newly acquired slave is a ruggedly handsome cowboy, she’s not about to let her fantasies endanger the people she swore to protect. But between her always-watching enemies and her wounded heart, she’s reluctant to admit she may need him in more ways than one…As the two toil side by side, Bret is surprised to discover Angel’s vulnerability and her compassionate nature. And the more time they spend together, the harder she finds it to resist her feelings and to soothe her lonely soul. But when they’re stranded alone together, the barriers between mistress and slave may not be strong enough to withstand their red-hot attraction.Can Bret and Angel overcome their fears to sow the seeds of lasting love?Masters’ Mistress is the steamy first book in The Angel Eyes futuristic dystopian cowboy romance series. If you like complex characters, gritty western settings, and slow-burning desires, then you’ll adore this enthralling story.
Bret remained silent, his stomach twisting and his heart beating faster with every step he took. He could feel sweat soaking into the cloth tied over his eyes and trickling slowly down his chest, but cold enfolded him like a heavy frost.
After what seemed like hours, the stairs finally ended and Bret’s guard ushered him forward. He wanted to resist, but the fear and his pride wouldn’t let him.
Something soft brushed harmlessly against him, but its unexpectedness sent Bret over the edge. He whirled around, dislodged the guard’s hold on his arm, and prepared to confront an aggressive opponent.
“Now,” the auctioneer’s voice boomed over the loudspeaker in a pleased tone that turned Bret’s heated blood to ice and stilled his frantic scuffling, “here’s what most of you have been waiting for, and a fine breeder he will make! What shall be the starting bid?”
With a stunned mind and hesitant feet, he stumbled forward as the guard towed him toward the sound of the crowd. She brought him up short and fastened his leash to a bolt in the floor, all while the auctioneer spoke. The guard removed the blindfold from his eyes and, as he blinked in the brilliant light that filled the Auction Hall, he heard a rash of astonished female exclamations.
“Oh my, he’s beautiful!”
“Is he as good as he looks?”
“Put your money down and find out.”
A brief spattering of laughter echoed around the room.
Bret shifted uncomfortably and bared his teeth in fury, disgust, and embarrassment. He pulled on the chains with an inadvertent yank, wanting to run so badly he could taste it—a bitter, coppery flavor, like blood on his tongue.
Wide-eyed, he took in the crowd of faces leering up at him. He forced himself to look away, to take a deep breath, and tried to relax before he collapsed and embarrassed himself further.
“Twelve hundred,” one woman shouted above the others, unwilling to wait for the auctioneer to begin.
“Twelve! My, that’s a heavy starting bid, but start with it, we will,” the auctioneer said in a happy, greedy tone before she began her banter.
Bret only listened with half an ear as the price multiplied. Instead, he attempted to ignore the sea of faces staring at him by gazing around the glamorous room.
He stood on a stage-like dais with a set of wide stairs running down either side to the audience floor below—both glowed a satiny silver and sparkled under the bright lights. The luminous color repeated itself in the silk curtains that draped the back of the round room. Rows of silver chairs lined the full length of the black and white checkered floor below where Bret stood. Women filled the seats, and they were staring up at him with hungry eyes. His skin tightened and bile burned the back of his throat as those eyes raked over his naked body without so much as a thought about him. It made no difference who won him. He wouldn’t stay long, no matter where he ended up.
Yanking at the chains again, Bret looked away and wished in vain that he could cover himself from their avid stares. Instead, he gazed toward the men in the far back. All dressed in black suits and under heavy guard, they waited patiently for their owners. Bret searched the crowd in the rear, not expecting to identify anyone; yet, contemplating the small sea of male faces, he stopped short to stare in disbelief. One individual stood out like a flashing beacon in the dead of night. The face was unclear, but the man he scrutinized possessed the same stature, the same appearance, the same stance. Bret’s breath caught in his throat.
It can’t be…
“Forty-five hundred,” someone cried as if in triumph, but Bret barely heard.
As he stared, the too-familiar man in the back of the room nodded to another person in the crowd. Bret combed through the fervent faces closer to the platform and caught the slightest indication of acknowledgment from a tall woman, her vibrant blonde hair pulled into a high ponytail. Without a glance at Bret, she looked toward yet another woman on the opposite side of the room and lifted a hand to her simple coiffure. The second woman gave an almost indiscernible response before lifting her gaze to him.
Her eyes impressed Bret. They were the brightest, the darkest, the deepest, most heavenly blue he had ever seen. They were an ocean for a man to get lost in, alluring with just enough wariness to spark his need to rise to the challenge. Slow-ly, his vision pulled back enough to see her eyes were only the beginning of her beauty. Her sun-kissed skin appeared silky smooth. Her nose was straight, above a luscious mouth with full, pink lips. Her ebony-colored hair framed a fine-boned oval face and hung past her shoulders in a mass of gently curling waves. She wore no makeup, which made her seem a little plain compared to all the flash and glamor around her, but Bret found her appearance wholesome and stunning.
He sucked in a breath and berated himself. She’s just another woman who’ll hurt you. Stop hoping for the impossible.
In the middle of the shouting bids, Blue Eyes stood up, showing a short, curvy figure, which Bret, despite his inner chastising, examined with male appreciation. Lifting her chin in what looked to him like stubborn determination, she addressed the auctioneer in a loud, demanding voice that brought everything to a stumbling halt, “What’s wrong with his feet?”
Her unexpected question plunged the room into silence.
The auctioneer glanced at a group of women sitting off to the side and cleared her throat before she answered. “Nothing.” Her composure was clearly shaken. “Why do you ask?”
“Because,” Blue Eyes retorted while crossing her arms, “there’s something wrong with them, and his ear too. Did any of you notice his ear’s infected?”
The auctioneer flicked another swift glance toward the same woman to her right. “Well, no,” she replied as her gaze refocused on the blue-eyed woman. “How do you know it is?”
Those heavenly blue eyes turned cold and her jaw hardened. “Because I asked him.”
So this was the woman he spoke to outside earlier. Bret almost wished he hadn’t been blindfolded during that conversation. He would’ve enjoyed seeing her up close. He also now understood her concerns about his health and chuckled in silent scorn—the stingy bitch wanted to depreciate his value.
Heat flashed over Bret’s skin and his body tensed. He lifted his chin and glowered at the audience, his blood pounding rage through his veins. They wanted his body, but they only saw a breeding slave standing naked on a stage, not a man with a heart and a mind. And one of them thought his price was too high? Shaking his head, shame joined the fury that swept through him, momentarily blocking out the fear, as he yanked at his chains again. He was worth a hell of a lot more than forty-five hundred!
“Are we done, or are we still declaring?” the last bidder asked, eyeing him as if she wanted to retract her bid.
He caught her gaze and his lips curled in his nastiest smirk.
“No, we’re not,” the blue-eyed woman said and broke his menacing glower at the other bidder. He focused on the small woman with the same malice, but his glare didn’t appear to bother her. In fact, she didn’t even look at him.
“If anyone bothered to ask him about his health,” she continued, “you’d have known of his injuries as well, but then I suppose that’s too much to hope for.”
Bret frowned, confused. She sounded bitter, but he couldn’t understand why. She wasn’t chained up and forced to stand naked in front of strangers to be sold like an animal.
“And, Darla,” she said, twisting her stiff posture toward the same group of women the auctioneer had glanced at, “if your guards talked to these men instead of beating them all the time, they might be a little more responsive, not to mention obedient.”
The scorn that infused her last word deepened Bret’s frown.
“Not this one,” a young guard who stood near the stairs leading down to the checkered floor said. “Why do you think he’s chained so heavily?”
The auctioneer’s glare silenced the chatty guard in an instant. An uncooperative slave would bring a much lower price.
Blue Eyes lifted a pointed eyebrow at the guard’s comment and tilted her head. “Because most of the guards here are sadists who enjoy beating the spirit out of men.”
“No one forces you to come here to get your slaves,” an audience member chided her.
“It’s not like I have much choice though, is it?” Blue Eyes shot right back.
“That’s some heavy criticism, Angel,” the auctioneer said with a slow shake of her head and another quick glance to her right.
Angel… Bret thought, savoring her name in his mind as his eyes scanned over her. The name seemed to fit her outward appearance, but he doubted its implied connotation extended to her heart. Don’t be a fool, his inner voice rebuked him again. She’s just like all the rest.
Straightening her shoulders, Angel replied, “I only criticize what needs changing.”
The auctioneer bit her lip. Her eyes shifted to Darla, who nodded her head and spun her fingers in a quick get-on-with-it motion.
The auctioneer, rubbing her palms on her black slacks, refocused on Angel and said in a calm voice, “The bid is forty-five hundred. If you wish to make a bid, then make it. If not, please sit down.”
“Yes,” Angel said, her blue eyes as cold as ice and hard as granite, “I wish to make a bid: Ten thousand, gold.”
Several spectators gasped at the size of her offer, while the rest of the room went deathly silent. She met Bret’s eyes as stunned whispers filled the air, and he shivered with trepidation as a caustic smile curled her pretty pink lips.
Jamie Schulz lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her family, her husband, and their fur babies. Writing has always been a big a part of her life, and she hopes to one day reach the best sellers lists.Cowboys, ice cream, and reading almost any kind of romance are among her (not so) secret loves. To her, every one of her stories, no matter how dark, must have a happy ending, and she strives to make them impossible to put down until you get there.She balances her free time between reading her favorite romance authors--in genres ranging from erotica and dark romance to sweet historicals and contemporary romance--and spending time with her family.
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