She’s the ultimate madam with a heart of gold. But can she fulfill her own dreams—and stay at the top?
In the business of high-end, no-limits desire, Desdemona Dean is the best there is. This gorgeous madam can provide any sensual fantasy, ignite any insatiable hunger. She fiercely protects the women who work for her and helps them attain the lives they deserve—especially when it comes to her beautiful, troubled new protégé, Portia. But for Desi, having it all is no longer enough. She wants everything her shattered childhood denied her. And as she pursues an education and a normal life, she’s falling hard for her handsome tutor—and can’t resist schooling him in ways that are turning into more than just passion . . .
But as Portia spirals out of control, she’s exposing any number of dangerous secrets. And as Desi desperately tries to save her and manage the damage, she’s putting everything she’s worked to build at risk . . .
Praise for the Mistress series
“Bryant’s loyal audience will love the generous doses of passionate sex, glamour, and revenge.”
“The latest in Bryant’s Mistress series serves up plenty of drama and shock.”
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)|
About the Author
NIOBIA BRYANT is the award-winning and national bestselling author of more than thirty works of romance and commercial fiction. She is a two-time winner of RT Book Reviews’ Best African-American/Multicultural Romance Award and received a Best Multicultural Fiction nomination for The Pleasure Trap. Want, Need, Love was a nominee for the Romance Slam Jam’s Steamy Romance of the Year Emma Award. Her books have appeared in Ebony, Essence, The New York Post, The Star Ledger, The Dallas Morning News, Juicy magazine and many other national publications. Her bestselling book, Message from a Mistress, has been adapted to film. A proud native of Newark, New Jersey, Niobia currently resides in South Carolina where she writes full time. For more on this author who “can’t stop, won’t stop,” visit NiobiaBryant.com, her Official Facebook Fan Page, and Twitter.com/infiniteink.
Read an Excerpt
Thirty years later
Monday, June 11, 2018
The monotony of it all may very well bore me to death ...
Desdemona Dean tapped her extra-fine-point pen against the pages of her journal as she looked out the floor-to-ceiling window of her apartment in the Tribeca section of New York. "Different day. Same shit," she said aloud as she picked up her cup of tea and looked out at the views — to the right the Manhattan skyline and with a shift of her eyes to the left the Hudson River.
Not that it wasn't beautiful, especially with the sun beaming in the sky and causing the water to gleam. What had started out as extraordinary when she first moved into the eighty-two-story high-rise building two years ago was now the norm. Because the building was part five-star hotel and part luxury residences, the amenities were amazing. She couldn't deny that. Housekeeping. Ordering meals from a world-class menu. Pool. Spa. Concierge. Valet parking. High luxury with low maintenance.
I ain't that bored.
She set the cup down on the saucer and looked around at the eleven-foot ceilings of her twenty-two-hundred-square-foot condominium with its cream décor, dark hardwood floors, and floor-to-ceiling windows. It was beautiful.
Still, she was bored.
Desdemona sighed, turning her attention back to her leather-bound journal. She sat at her slate dining room table with her bare feet tucked beneath her in one of the eight suede club chairs surrounding it. She struggled to find more to write for later reflections years down the line when she would finally read the journals she had been keeping for the last two decades of her life.
Her mother had always journaled; she could remember her sipping a glass of wine while curled up in her favorite chair writing away, sometimes smiling but often more reflective and sad. There were many things about her mother that Desdemona had forgotten, but others moments remained like an imprint on her life.
She pressed the pen inside the crease of the journal and closed it before finishing her breakfast of ricotta hotcakes with maple syrup and chicken-and-apple sausage. With one last look out at her views, Desdemona rose from the table and dropped the silk kimono she wore to the floor as she left the dining room, crossed the foyer, and turned the corner leading down the hall to the three bedrooms. Her master suite was in the rear. She walked down the short hall with large black-and-white prints in black frames on the left and two closets to her right — one of them a walk-in — and around the corner.
She paused in front of the large seven-foot mirror leaned against the wall next to the hall entrance to the master bathroom. She stretched her arms high above her head as she took in her head full of blond-streaked chestnut hair that was wild and noticeable as it framed her heart-shaped face. With doe-shaped eyes surrounded by thick lashes and a pouty mouth above her small dimpled chin, Desdemona knew she resembled a less cartoonish version of a Bratz doll or one of the Disney fairies. She was pretty.
That wasn't ego, but what she'd been told since she was a kid.
Instead, she wished she had been told she was smart and capable — that she had had to learn on her own the hard way. Looks faded. Smarts lasted long after cuteness was gone.
Releasing a breath, she cupped her breasts and jiggled them as she turned her body this way and that to inspect her buttocks and hips. Although her breasts were a full and pert 38B, she imagined them fuller. "Should I double these to double Ds?" she asked herself, shifting her eyes to take in her empty bed and wondering if a man were lying there watching her what his opinion might be.
There was no man and no way she would allow herself to give a damn what he thought if there had been.
Moving away from the mirror, she entered the bathroom, barely noticing the white dÃ©cor, Carrara marble, bright lighting, and glass shower door that gave the room a light and airy feeling that might have been missed because the spacious room lacked windows. She slipped a satin bonnet over her hair and paused to smell the fresh white daffodils in the large crystal vase between the double basins of the sink before taking a shower.
With a plush white towel with chrome monogrammed letters wrapped around her body, Desdemona walked back to her walk-in closet and emerged ten minutes later in a bright yellow floor-length halter dress that exposed the portrait tattoo of her mother on her right shoulder. The deep vee perfectly framed her breasts, and a low back emphasized her wide hips and buttocks. The matte jersey material flowed around her body with ease, and with nothing but a sheer thong as her undergarment she felt ready for the sweltering summer heat outdoors. Her heels clicked against the hardwood floors as she remembered her journal and retrieved it, quickly returning to her walk-in closet to unlock the safe and slide it inside atop the crisp stacks of cash and other journals stored there.
She lightly stroked the thing she cherished the most: it was not the money. Within those pages were her story. Her trials, tribulations, and triumphs. "To hell and back again," she said in a whisper before stepping back to close and then lock the safe.
Desdemona selected one of the dozen designer shades atop the island in the center of the closet that contained her lingerie. From the shelves, she took down a black Balenciaga tote and begun transferring her wallet and other personal items from the Louis Vuitton she carried the day before. She was just about to slide her two iPhones into the inside pocket when one vibrated in her hand.
Desdemona flipped it over and smiled. "I'm having a dramafree morning, Patrice," she said, zipping the tote and sliding it onto the crook of her elbow before cutting off the ceiling light and leaving the closet.
The other woman laughed. "Nothing major. The shipment of gowns from the designer from London —"
"Suzanne Neville," Desdemona said, almost offhand, as she entered her passcode on the iPad stationed by the front door and used the device to notify the valet she wanted her vehicle. With one last look around her condo, Desdemona slid on her dark round shades as she left her condominium and walked down the sleek and modern-style hallway to the elevators.
"Right," Patrice agreed. "The shipment arrived —"
"Good," Desdemona said, stepping on the lift and pressing the button for the private lobby just for the dwellers in the private residences of the building.
"Is there anywhere in particular you want me to display them?"
I could care the fuck less, Patrice.
Desdemona owned a small but very exclusive high-end boutique offering stylish and unique pieces from designers around the world. She catered to the wealthy and powerful who had no qualms about dropping five thousand dollars or better on a dress. And just like with everything else in her life, she was bored with that as well. "Wherever you choose is fine with me," Desdemona said, as the elevator smoothly descended from the sixtieth floor to the lobby with its abstract black-and-white décor.
It didn't particularly matter. The boutique was by appointment only, and only Desdemona met with her customers. It was Patrice's job to collect the shipments and stock the boutique — and that was hardly rocket science.
Desdemona stepped outside the beautiful limestone building, and stood beneath the canopy. "Patrice, there are so many moments in life where everyone gets a chance to show and to prove what they are capable of. This is your moment, Patrice. Don't piss on it by being afraid to make a simple decision," Desdemona said, raking her crystal-encrusted fingernails through her golden curls just as her metallic black Maserati Levante GranLusso was driven up to the curb.
Desdemona was in her mid-thirties, and Patrice was ten years her senior. If the woman didn't learn to show initiative and claim her spotlight, she would forever be working for someone else.
"I got it," the other woman said.
"I know you do. Bye, Patrice," she said before ending the call as she walked over to the crossover and smiled at the young valet as she handed him a tip before sliding onto the red leather driver's seat. She set her phone and tote on the passenger seat as the valet gently nudged for it to glide forward before slowing down and closing softly.
Desdemona turned up the volume so that Meek Mill's "Shine" blasted through the premium sound system. She had an unspoken rule: nothing but hip-hop and trap music in her cars. During her fifteen-mile drive to the Riverdale section of the Bronx, Desdemona let the thump of the bass give her energy, the lyrics give her hope, and let herself be reminded of growing up in the nineties.
As she entered the affluent neighborhood, she turned down the sound of Cardi B's "Get Up 10," not wanting to disturb the peaceful vibe of the neighborhood with the pounding of her bass. She eased the Maserati down the tree-lined streets until she pulled up to a pair of wrought-iron security gates with intricate scrollwork. There were no neighboring homes for half a mile on either side or directly across the street. Mature trees and landscaped bushes around the entire property offered seclusion. She lowered the driver's-side window and leaned out a bit to enter the security code on the keypad. The gates slid open with ease, and she accelerated forward up the long, brick-paved drive to a more than ten-thousand-square-foot brick neo-Georgian home. To the left of the motor court was a three-car garage of the same design, and to the right there were outdoor parking spots for three more vehicles. Desdemona pulled her Maserati into one of those before climbing from the vehicle and crossing the paved brick to walk onto the colonnaded porch.
Using her keys, she unlocked the front door and entered the two-story entry hall, closing the door behind herself. Stairs leading to the next floor were to her right, but she crossed the polished hardwood floors to her left to pass the small entryway leading to a powder room across from an elevator, which she rode up past the second floor to the penthouse, housing a junior suite and office. She unlocked the door, loving the heavy sound of the deadbolts sliding out of place, before entering.
The summer light beamed through the windows on the rear wall displaying views of the hills of Riverdale as she removed her sunglasses and set them along with her keys and tote on the large wooden desk in the center of the room. It was clear save for a huge vase of white daffodils sitting on the edge. The sunshine hit them, releasing their sweet aroma into the air. She began to hum a melody as she buried her face in the petals before kicking off her heels.
"Love it," she said softly as she opened the top drawer of the desk and removed an iPad.
She resumed her humming while tapping on the tablet to turn on the seventy-inch television that hung on the wall over the fireplace. The views from the twenty security cameras inside and outside the furnished house were soon displayed. Entry gate. Front door. Rear patio doors. Backyard and pool. All living spaces inside the house, including the spacious chef's kitchen. The wine cellar, exercise room, media room, and bedroom suite in the basement. Each of the bedrooms on the second floor and finally the in-law suite on the first level with its own private side entrance.
Desdemona smiled at the sight of the naked man lying in the middle of the king-sized bed stroking his own erection. Denzin Anderson lacked for nothing. Good looks. Quick wit. Disarming smarts. Hard physique. Long dick.
She used the iPad to activate the intercom system in Denzin's suite before setting it on the desk. "Punctual as ever," she said, her voice sounding raspy and soft to her own ears.
He locked his deep-set black eyes directly on the camera in the corner. "Disappointment is not my MO," he said.
"No, it is not," she agreed with emphasis, sitting on the tapestry Parsons chair behind the desk before she removed a cash counting machine from the deep bottom drawer.
She walked over to the fireplace and hit a small latch hidden behind a carved leaf. The side panel popped open, revealing three shelves. Each was stacked with money. Her courtesans dropped her share of the cash money they collected from consorts into her office via the mail slot on the door. She hid the money in the fireplace. She removed all the bundles, carrying them in one arm back to her desk.
"Security alert. Front gate."
Desdemona's eyes shifted to the television. She recognized the face of the woman behind the wheel of the nondescript electric blue car: Jann Loomis, a beautiful twenty-something sous chef.
"Is that her?" Denzin asked.
"Right on time," Desdemona replied, using the tablet to unlock and open the gate because all visitor security codes required she do so.
"What's her name again?" he asked.
"It doesn't matter."
Desdemona turned off the intercom and removed the rubber bands around the ends of the first stack of cash and set it inside the hopper. The shuffle of the money through the bank-grade counter filled the air. "Remember it's about her, not you, Denzin," she said, her tone amused.
He chuckled again as he rose from the bed, his erection seeming to lead him across the spacious room and out the door. Via the cameras she watched him move with confidence out of the suite and into the entry hall through the door behind the staircase before reaching the front door.
Desdemona fed the counter another large stack and then reached in her tote for her personal iPad in a bright orange cover. After setting it on the desk, she walked over to the walk-in closet. It was empty save for the fifty bottles of her favorite 2001 ChÃ¢teau Rieussec and a dozen wineglasses lining the shelves meant for shoes. She grabbed one of each.
"And they're off," she said, looking at the television screen as she uncorked the wine and poured herself a quarter glass.
The young woman — a slender beauty with waist-length blond hair — was as naked as Denzin and bent over his bed as he stroked her from behind.
Desdemona turned the intercom back on before reclaiming her seat with one foot tucked beneath her bottom. "Oh, sweet baby Jesus. It's even worse with the volume up," she said, tapping the stem of the glass with her fingernails.
There wasn't a moan of pleasure — feigned or real.
The sex was perfunctory.
Denzin looked up at the camera and shrugged with a bewildered expression.
Desdemona took a deep sip of wine and then refilled her glass to the rim this time.
The monotony of it all may very well bore me to death ...
Desdemona sighed into her glass before massaging the bridge of her nose with her fingertips.
Procuring pussy has lost its shine.
She rose from the chair, sipping her beloved wine as she walked over to the windows overlooking the pool and landscaped backyard. For a few necessary moments, she allowed herself to forget that the woman in the room with Denzin — her in-house stud — trying to become one of her highly soughtafter courtesans was the driest lay she had ever seen in her life.
She garnered a minimum of two thousand dollars an hour up to $100,000 for a weekend in Europe or Asia, and her patrons were not paying that price for the privilege of having sex with a beautiful woman. They wanted more — conversation, excitement, a sounding board, humor, intellect, and above all privacy — and she made sure to provide it.
Desdemona only hired smart women and men with clear goals that prevented them wanting to work in the biz for any longer than two to three years — also ensuring no hidden ambitions to claim her spot in the business. Each courtesan was thoroughly vetted — including a psych evaluation — before she even agreed to meet with them, and their skill in the bedroom was rated by a session with Denzin before they were hired. She sent each new courtesan through etiquette training to ensure they could properly move among the wealthy, famous, and powerful — particularly those accompanying them on events. They were required to stay in shape — including daily Kegels. Drug use was completely prohibited — no weed, coke, or pills of any kind.
She turned her attention to the screen and grimaced at Denzin scrolling through his phone as he continued to thrust inside her. "Oh, sweet baby Jesus. Oh, poor thing. Just clueless. Just ... just ... just wrong. So wrong," she moaned, pretending to clutch imaginary pearls.
Regardless of who, what, and when, sex was the common denominator, and good sex was key. And what she was watching was anything but good.
She is beautiful.
Desdemona could think of five of her patrons off the top of her head who went for the blond-haired, long-legged beauties. Big tits, blue eyes, and the pretense of blank brains. The Barbies of the world.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Madam, May I"
Copyright © 2019 Niobia Bryant.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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