Octavia Vargus had everything she wanted at Rowan House, Skye’s most exclusive pleasure house, except the one thing she craved. Longing for the freedom to explore both sides of her nature, she leaves Rowan House and her mistress, for a new start in Italy with her partner Bridget Murray.
Vivian Abiola is a connection to a past Octavia would like to forget, and a love she never expected to see again. After Octavia’s past relationship with Vivian is exposed, Octavia and Bridget explore the limits of their desires with Vivian. When an arsonist threatens to destroy their vineyard, past loyalties and secrets endanger their lives, and the three women’s relationship. Their love may be the only thing that helps them survive the firestorm of doubt, intrigue, and jealousy.
|Publisher:||NineStar Press, LLC|
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.59(d)|
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"Did you tell her?" Bridget's voice was hoarse.
Octavia leaned down and touched her cheek. "No." The springs squeaked when she left the bed. She stretched and walked to the window. With two fingers, she pulled the curtain aside. Cool air seeped in around the window frame. Her skin and her nipples pebbled. Fuck. Why didn't I? What am I waiting for? Say something. Bridget's silence was worse than if she had pleaded. The warm smell of their afternoon tryst filled the small bedsit. She glanced over her shoulder at Bridget. She lay on her back with her eyes closed and her hands clasped over her stomach. Her long red hair curled around her head and spilled over the white pillowcase. Octavia wanted to crawl back into the small bed and kiss each freckle scattered over her naked body. She wanted to lose herself in the softness of her skin and make her beg for release. She's angry. Sad. What am I waiting for? Fuck me, I need to get it together.
She turned back to the window and looked out. Early morning mist hung over the grass surrounding the manor house. A long black car pulled into the circular drive. A lone woman exited the car. Tall and willowy, she glanced about her before she lowered her head and hurried across the pavers. Not a guest. Visitor? Solicitor? Octavia let the curtain fall back into place. Say something. Anything.
"Today. I promise." Octavia turned to Bridget. She was sitting up now. She had pulled on Octavia's shirt and was leaning against the brass headboard.
"You said that yesterday." Bridget looked down at her hands. "I've told Cook. She's gone out of her way to be crueler than usual to me." She twisted her fingers together. Her shoulders were slumped making Octavia's shirt appear even larger on her small frame.
Octavia crossed the room and took Bridget's hand in her own. "Look at me love." She rubbed her thumb over the skin of her knuckles. Bridget raised her chin, her eyes bright with unshed tears. Octavia leaned down and brushed her lips with a kiss. "Today." She kissed Bridget again, deeper this time.
Bridget settled her hands on Octavia's hips. "I can't stand the idea of anyone else touching you. Every day we're here, I hate it. I hate worrying someone will ask for you and you'll go because you think you have to."
"I go because I made an agreement. I owe Martha. It doesn't mean anything."
"It does to me." Bridget pinned Octavia in place with her hard expression. "If you want me to be committed to you, to kneel to you, to be yours, you need to understand I want the same from you. I'm not a toy or a doll to be played with until someone better comes along."
Octavia held Bridget's gaze. "I know, love. I know. Today. I promise." She lifted the edge of her collar and the number tag jingled. "Today is the last day I wear this."
"You're sure? What if you went on holiday? You haven't taken any time off in years. A break would do you good." Martha smoothed her hand over Octavia's shoulders before she tugged at the neckline of her shirt, straightening it. She flattened her hands on Octavia's chest and leaned in to kiss her.
Octavia pulled back, avoiding the kiss. "No. It's more than that, Mistress."
Martha lowered her hands. Her gaze was steady and her eyes dark. "You're done then?"
Do it. Now. For Bridget. For both of you. Octavia kneeled at Martha's feet. She lowered her head until her forehead touched the toe of Martha's boot. She pulled her thick single braid to the side. How many times have I kneeled this way aching with need and want, wanting only to be under her hand? Begged to feel the sting of her lash, to be allowed to serve her. Begged for a kiss. When did it change?
"I want to be free, Mistress. Please release me." Sweat trickled down her back. She waited in silence, her breathing rough. Martha rested her palm on the crown of her head, her touch igniting a wave of desire in Octavia. Her body warred with her mind. Hard. So hard. So much I want. So much she can't give. Octavia blinked away the tears that burned the back of her throat. She heard the rustle of fabric. Cold metal pressed against her neck, the sharp edge scraping her skin and she shivered. Her collar fell in two pieces onto the floor, the brass tag clinking on the tiles. Octavia exhaled. She raised her head and sat up. She picked up the remnants of her collar before she rose and stuffed the pieces into her front pocket. Her palms were sweaty and she wiped them on her jeans.
Martha stepped away and turned her back to Octavia. "Have you thought about where you'll go? What to do with your accounts?"
The chill in Martha's voice made Octavia's heart ache. "I've been looking. No firm plans yet. I thought I'd leave the accounts with you until I'm settled."
"Bridget as well?"
No secrets at Rowan House. Nothing to hide. Not now. "Yes. She's told Cook."
Martha turned and looked at Octavia. She rested one hand on her hip. "I'm surprised she lasted as long as she did. Last time I trust Cook to hire someone."
Octavia pursed her lips. "Jealous of a sub?" She rocked back on her heels and crossed her arms. "This has got nothing to do with Bridget. This is about us."
"Because I refused give over to you? To give you control?" Martha quirked her mouth.
"Because you refused to understand I wanted more, needed more from you."
"Eight years and it comes to this? You're leaving me for what? A woman-child? A soft sub? She can't give you what you need. You'll be bored in a year."
"Maybe. But at least I'll be happy."
Martha's face flushed and she inhaled sharply before she smoothed her features. Her manner cool and haughty, she lifted her chin. She met Octavia's hard look with one of her own. Angry. So angry. And hurt. Fuck. I hurt her. She'd never acknowledge it. Still holding back. Octavia turned away from the hurt in Martha's eyes. She loves me. But not enough. Not enough to give me control.
"Fuck you. You asked for my ownership. You begged me for it. I didn't force it on you."
Octavia winced at the edge in Martha's voice. "I did." She met her gaze. "People change. I've changed. I should've told you about Bridget. I owed you. I'm sorry."
"I knew. I knew when you didn't ask me for permission it was more than play." Martha clasped her hands behind her back. "I expect you to stay through the end of the month. You'll need to train one of the others to manage the stable until I can hire someone." She pinned Octavia with her glare. "You're excused from your other duties."
"I signed a contract. I'll honor it."
"You are not to play with any guests or other staff. Honor our past. Honor my last command."
Martha turned and squared her shoulders. She walked away, her footsteps loud on the tile floor. Octavia stood in the center of the room. She closed her eyes, trying to shut out the ghosts of memories of their time together that swirled around her. Her heart ached for what had been and what would never be. She thrust her hand in her pocket, pulled the pieces of her collar out. She fingered the smooth edge of her number tag. I'm free. Free to follow my own path. With Bridget. But where? She touched her neck, the bare skin where her collar had been. She swallowed the dry-edged pain in her throat, willing the tears away.
"There's fresh tea in the pot." Bridget stirred a pan on the stove, her back to Octavia. The warm smell of butter and olive oil heating filled the kitchen. Octavia poured herself a cup of tea and sat at the long worktable.
"Cook's out?" Octavia scanned the large kitchen, wary of the tyrant who ran it.
"At the fishmonger's, showing my replacement the routine." Bridget moved the pan she had been stirring to the back of the stove top. "Hungry?"
"I'm ready for second breakfast." Octavia sipped her tea. "I only had a bit of toast before I mucked this morning."
Bridget turned to her. She wiped her hand on her side towel. "I've a mountain of prep to do but I could make you some eggs if you want."
A flash of flame erupted from the sauté pan behind Bridget. Octavia stood up and her chair clattered to the floor. "The pan."
Bridget spun to face the stove and stared. Black smoke filled the small space and the fire alarm sounded loud in the small space. Fire. Fuck. Why isn't she moving? What the hell? Lid? Flour? Salt? Lid. Octavia clambered over the table and pushed Bridget to the side. She grabbed a large lid off the counter and dropped it on the pan. She turned to Bridget, clasped her shoulders and looked into her eyes. They were glassy and her face was fixed in a blank stare.
"Hey. Bridget. Hey. Look at me." She pulled her away from the stove.
The rest of the house staff arrived. The smoke alarm was shrill. Martha pushed past the others. She swept her gaze over the scene. After snatching a side towel from the counter, she wafted it in front of the alarm until it stopped its harsh sound.
Octavia helped Bridget to a chair. She kneeled and clasped her hand tight. "Bridget." She touched her chin and peered into her eyes. "Are you okay?"
Bridget shook free of Octavia's touch and looked down at their hands. "Yes. I'm sorry." Her voice was quiet.
Martha came to stand behind them. She rested her hand on Octavia's shoulder. "Did she get burned?"
Octavia looked up. "No. She ... I don't know what happened. She froze."
"I'm fine. I need to finish the prep. Cook'll be back soon." Bridget rocked in the chair. "Cook'll be back soon. Need to clean up my station."
Martha leaned down and assessed Bridget's appearance. "I'll deal with Cook." She turned her head and met Octavia's gaze. "Take care of her. Rebecca can handle the stable this afternoon."
She hesitated. Yesterday she would have known how to answer her former Mistress. What to say? Yes, Mistress? Yes, Martha? I asked to be free. I need to own it. "I'll take her to my room."
Martha looked down and away from Octavia's eyes. "I'll have one of the others bring your food. You both are excused from staff meals for the rest of the day."
Octavia helped Bridget to her feet. She slid an arm around her waist. "I've got you, love."
Bridget leaned into her shoulder. Octavia led her away from the kitchen and through the halls and across the courtyard to her bedsit over the stable. Bridget did not speak and her steps were mechanical. What the hell? What happened? Octavia replayed the events leading up to fire. When they arrived at her room, she guided Bridget to a battered wingback chair and made her sit.
Bridget avoided her eyes, her gaze focused on the floor. "Sorry." Her voice was tight and small.
"Are you back?" Octavia smoothed her hand over Bridget's hair.
"Yeah. Sorry. I'm so stupid."
"It was an accident. It could have happened to anyone." She rubbed Bridget's shoulder. "You're not stupid. Don't talk about yourself that way." She placed a kiss on the top of Bridget's head. "I shouldn't have distracted you."
Bridget hugged Octavia around the waist. "If you hadn't been there ..." Her breath hitched and there were tears in her voice.
"But I was. And we're safe." Octavia rubbed the back of Bridget's neck.
Bridget leaned her forehead against Octavia's hip as quiet sobs racked her body. This is about more than the fire. What? She replayed conversations they had about their lives before Rowan House, searching her memories of quiet afterglow talks and the deeper moments after a session when buried feelings surfaced. She found no explanation for Bridget's actions and reactions. Later. I'll ask. She held tight to Bridget until the tears stopped bearing witness to a pain she didn't understand but wanted to.
Bridget dropped to her knees. Her hair spilled forward and brushed the top of Octavia's boots. Octavia admired the delicate curve of her spine, letting her submission soothe the rough edges of her day and giving over to the side of herself that craved control and Bridget's offering of obedience. She leaned down and wrapped her hand in Bridget's hair to pull her head up. With her other hand she clasped Bridget's chin, the skin blanching under her fingertips. She took her mouth with firm lips and tongue, goaded by the soft whimpers of need pouring from Bridget. She growled low in her throat in answer. Yes. This. Power. Control.
Octavia broke their kiss. She straightened and cupped Bridget's face with both hands. "Look at me." She smoothed her thumbs over her cheekbones. "What have you chosen for your punishment? My hand or the belt?"
"Whatever pleases you, Ma'am." Bridget's eyes were bright, and Octavia grew wet listening to the eager quiver in her voice. Willing. Wanting. Mine.
Octavia released her. "Stand for me. Bend over and clasp your ankles."
Bridget rose and set her feet shoulder width apart before she bent from the waist and wrapped her fingers around her ankles. Her core glistened with wetness. Octavia steadied Bridget with a hand on her hip, digging her fingers in hard enough to bruise while she traced the wet seam between her legs and stroked her clit with one finger. A low groan shook Bridget's frame. Working slowly, Octavia delighted in her small moans and the way she relaxed, opening herself to Octavia's touch. Bridget squeezed around Octavia, her body shuddering and signaling how close she was to coming for her. She took her time drawing out Bridget's pleasure, edging her closer.
"Please, Ma'am. I can't. Please let me come for you."
Octavia pulled her hand away roughly and slapped Bridget's ass, leaving a bright red mark on her freckled skin. The sharp squeal from Bridget made her clit hard, and she drew back and slapped her ass again, harder this time. She smoothed her hand over the mark it had left. Bridget panted. She leaned down and pressed a kiss to the mark. "I love the way your skin takes my marks." Bridget trembled under her hand. "Ready, love?"
"Yes." Bridget's strong voice sent a curl of desire through Octavia, and another surge of wetness spilled from her.
"Yes, what?" Octavia spanked her hard, and her palm stung with the impact.
"Ahh. Oh. Yes, Ma'am." Bridget struggled against Octavia's grip.
Her feigned resistance heighted Octavia's desire. Wanton. Beautiful slut. Mine. She raised her hand and spanked Bridget, hard, blow after blow until her hand ached and the cheeks of Bridget's ass were bright red. Deep groans of pleasure mixed with squeals of pain and orgasmic cries filled the air. Each groan and sharp cry soothed the ache in Octavia's soul — the part of her that craved obedience, needed to cause pain and control pleasure. Bridget's thick thighs were wet to her knees with her desire. Octavia listened and watched, careful to bring Bridget to the edge but not over. Bridget's voice changed as she begged for mercy, tears now, wetting the floor in front of her.
"Please, Ma'am. Please. Let me. Please. I can't. Let me please you. Please." The ragged edge in her voice made Octavia's clit harder, and she ached for Bridget's mouth on her. She stopped and smoothed her hands over Bridget's ass.
"Do you want to pleasure me? Taste me? Do you want me to come in your mouth?"
"Yes. Please, Ma'am. Please let me."
"Say the words. Ask for what you want." She scratched her nails over the red marks on Bridget's ass.
"Ow. Oh. Please. Please, Ma'am, let me taste you. Let me give you pleasure. Please, Ma'am. Come in my mouth. Please."
She waited, listening to Bridget's shuddering breaths as she came down from her spanking. Octavia pinched her hip hard. "I don't know. Are you sure?"
"Ahh. Please. Ma'am. Oh please." Her voice was rough, and her body trembled under Octavia's touch as she begged.
Octavia released her. "Turn and stand for me."
Bridget straightened, and Octavia made sure she was steady on her feet. She turned slowly toward Octavia.
"Look at me."
She raised her head and met Octavia's gaze. Tears streaked her face. Her eyes were bright. She opened her mouth and licked her lips and leaned forward. "Please, Ma'am. Let me taste you. Please." Her voice was soft now as she whispered her desperation in Octavia's ear.
Bridget lowered herself gracefully to her knees. Lovely. Beautiful. Mine.
"Eyes to me. Hands behind your back."
She lifted her eyes to Octavia's face. She clasped her hands behind her back, the movement thrusting her breasts forward. Octavia caught Bridget's nipples between her thumbs and forefingers and squeezed hard, watching as pain and pleasure swept over her features.
The deep groan from Bridget's lips sent waves of need through Octavia.
"Please, Ma'am. Please let me taste you. Please."
Octavia looked into Bridget's eyes as she would a still pool into which she had dropped a precious object. Want. Need. So much. She wants me. Loves me. She stood, spreading her legs wide before she cupped the back of Bridget's head. "Pleasure me."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Both Ends of the Whip"
Copyright © 2018 Brenda Murphy.
Excerpted by permission of NineStar Press, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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