Authors: Sara Brookes
Her Master’s Collar
The last thing Korene needs in her life is a former Master who abandoned her ten years ago. But when her employees are taken hostage on Mars, she’s forced to work with Roland whether she likes it or not. Sparks fly the moment the perfectly chiseled man saunters into her conference room; a sign their incredible chemistry is still just as potent.
Roland has a job to do, but he struggles with his unrelenting desire for the only woman he ever loved. Seeing the strong-willed Korene on her knees again is enough to shatter Roland’s willpower. And give him a raging hard-on.
Their distracting lust could flame out of control if they aren’t careful.
sci-fi erotic romance
from Ellora’s Cave
Her Master’s Collar
“An entire crew was wiped out two weeks ago by this immoral bastard. Despite this, she still sent another crew to Mars. Now a member of the team has come back in little pieces. From what we know, two more have been taken hostage and one is missing—possibly dead.”
Roland pushed out of the antigravity chair, crossing his arms as he started to pace. He hated pacing almost as much as he hated this asshole rehashing the facts to him. “Parkin, I’m aware of the body count and I believe that is why you hired me.” If he had his way about it—and if this petulant little man didn’t stop whining and arguing with him—Parkin would find himself on the business end of Roland’s fist soon. Or his foot, since Parkin bore a strong resemblance to a beady-eyed rat.
Roland Asher always had patience when it came to stressful matters.
At least he liked to think so.
In his line of work, he had to have a high level of tolerance. But right now, this man—this imbecile—pushed the limits of his patience to near parchment thinness. It wasn’t just limited to this man either. The entire crowd surrounding the
had pushed his tolerance levels since he’d walked in. Dealing with a bunch of hotheads who couldn’t see the big picture had proven to be insanely frustrating. Obviously no one at the table understood the gravity of the situation. This was why he hated the corporate world so damn much.
“Despite the fact you don’t like my plan, are you going to let me do the job you hired me for or not?”
Parkin’s mouth formed a thin line as he examined Roland over his thick silver-rimmed spectacles. “I’m still not convinced about your credentials.” His thin fingers tapped through the holographic image hanging in the air between them. “Nothing here indicates you’re capable of handling a mission of this level, despite Ms. Braddock’s assurances otherwise.”
The spot Parkin indicated on the far side of the planet was a remote area where the company had sent their team. While a large settlement had been built miles away, this part of Mars was barren, unsettled and volatile because of the volcanic activity in the area. While search and rescues weren’t his company’s specialty, he excelled at organizing complicated missions most people avoided completely. They didn’t need to know he suspected the man heading up this hostage situation was a fugitive he’d been trying to bring in for the past three years.
Roland shook his head in disgust at their ignorance, his blood pressure rising from his frustration. “If you don’t send me, you’ll lose everyone. The team, whoever you decide to send in for some half-assed rescue and all of your equipment—which I imagine is extremely expensive—will be lost. I’m tired of hearing you think I can’t handle this job. If you’re going to continue to fight me, this conversation ends now and I’ll consider our partnership terminated. I don’t have time for this.”
“Yes, you’d rather spend your time elsewhere. Perhaps by visiting the bondage clubs on Vegas Two.” A sexy, feminine voice filled the room.
Roland’s muttered curse earned a few curious glances from the men who sat around the table. He’d hoped to get through this briefing without a confrontation with her. Hope, it seemed, was not on his side.
His jaw already ached from where he’d gritted his teeth whenever Parkin opened his mouth. The last thing he needed was further aggravation. Determined to get through this briefing, he kept his gaze on the disturbing images of the hostages bound and gagged. The quicker he got full cooperation, the faster he could get the hell out of here, get to those men and collar his fugitive.
“Look, I was hired to do a job. A specific job, I might add,” he reminded them again as he chose to ignore the woman. “If you won’t allow me and my team to do the job, then you’re just wasting everyone’s time. You people either need to shut up and listen or I find someone else who requires my services. There are plenty of others who need my expertise more than you do.”
“Parkin, see that Mr. Asher has everything he needs. We should provide Roland and his team every advantage we can. It’s not as if we lack the funds to accommodate his requests. As he’s reminded you—twice—he was hired for this purpose specifically.”
Roland noted the sarcasm had vanished from her voice.
“He’ll have it. A full complement of our best team members at his disposal.”
“I only work with my team,” Roland reminded the assembled group yet again.
He’d clearly outlined his terms when they had first come for the briefing and even when he’d negotiated his contract. Couldn’t they listen?
Those coal-colored eyes of Parkin’s flicked over Roland’s shoulder. There was a silent exchange before the stubborn man reluctantly nodded. “He’ll have our full cooperation.”
“Good. Dismissed.” The relieved breath Roland had been about to release caught in his throat when he heard the words he’d dreaded since she’d walked into the command center. “Roland, stay so we can discuss further details.”
The annoying worker pulled himself to full attention. As he waited for everyone else to leave, his cheeks grew pink. Obviously he didn’t agree with the order he’d just been handed. Roland could see this going south very, very quickly.
Big mistake coming in three, two, one…
“Korene, I insist on being present if strategic details are to be implemented. I must stay abreast of this mission since they’re my workers.”
“You’re dismissed, Parkin.” Annoyance all but dripped from her statement.
“Your concern is duly noted. And unwarranted. We hired Elite for a reason.”
Her heels tapped on the floor as she drew closer. The unsettled man’s gaze fell on Roland, who shrugged in response. What was there to say? When one of the most powerful women on Earth ordered you out of the room, you left—no questions asked. The heavyset man huffed out a defeated breath before he spun on his well-polished Corfam heel and left.
The doors whisked shut, plunging the room into silence.
“Don’t mind him. We were all trying to deal with the implications of this whole situation. Naturally, everyone’s emotions are a little on edge. The fact the World Government is breathing down our necks isn’t helping matters either. But they have a lot on the line, since this is one of their contracts. You look well, Roland.”
He resigned himself to the inevitable. The years he’d spent doing his best to avoid her had finally ended. He pushed out of the chair, turning to the owner of the voice that slid through him as though he was surrounded by the fresh, sweet air on his mountain. The first glimpse of her stole his breath, reminding him of those initial adrenaline-filled moments of a
Her impeccably pressed navy suit had been tailored to fit her as if it were a second skin. The suit gave her a commanding air, signaling in this room that she was all tough business and headstrong authority. If he didn’t know her better, as intimately as he did, he’d be intimidated despite their eleven-year-age difference.
Even though ten years had passed, she looked exactly the same. Perhaps even better. Damn. She had no right to look so gorgeous. So youthful and full of vigor.
So absofuckinglutely perfect.
She looked much the same as the last time he’d seen her, only more refined and ethereal. Reddish-blonde hair framed her heart-shaped face before falling to her slender waist. Her light-brown eyes drew him in, just as they’d always done, and made him yearn for a different time. His gaze fell on the small cleft in her chin he’d once loved to settle his thumb in while he spent hours kissing her. No, not kissing—
. A pang tightened his gut as he remembered he’d once locked their bedroom door for an entire weekend. She’d spent most of those hours restrained in some fashion while he’d done his best to make her beg. Loudly. The sexually charged image of her coming undone against his tongue forced him to shake off the reflection of a past he’d rather forget.
“Being in charge suits you, Korene. It’s good to see you again.” Before she could say anything, he pushed on, determined to keep this meeting all about business. “Our contract requires your company to supply me with anything I need within reason. I don’t consider any of my requests to be extraordinary by any means. If you feel differently, maybe we should reconsider this partnership.”
Her head tilted as a familiar smile bowed those luscious lips she’d painted a neutral shade of pink. “Parkin may be an ass, but he will do as ordered. You’ll have your supplies and any other pertinent information you desire. No need to worry that you won’t have every advantage at your disposal. What time do you plan on leaving?”
Roland knew her well enough not to doubt the promise. They may have had their problems and been unable to agree about certain things years ago, but he remembered how she refused to take anyone’s shit—even his. “You know I work alone. That includes sharing information and exact flight details beyond what we’ve already discussed in this room.”
Her suit shifted as she folded her arms in front of her. The maneuver pushed her breasts together, flashing a cleft of cleavage that nearly caused his tongue to wag. He cursed his cock for jumping to attention as well.
He discreetly shifted his hands in front of him to hide the bulge.
“Unfortunately, in order to make certain people feel comfortable about their investment, you’ll have a companion with you during the mission. Surely an extra set of hands and eyes can’t hurt your plans.”
Figures. He’d been waiting to hear she wanted to push her way into his operation. It had just been a matter of time. “What if I refuse?”
Her head tilted as her eyes narrowed, and the corners of her mouth lifted in a sly grin. “You’re a smart man, Roland. I’m sure you can figure it out.”
He sighed, leaning forward to rest his weight against the conference table. Korene had always given him some kind of resistance, no matter the situation. The decision about who slept on which side of the bed when they’d first started dating had nearly turned into a fistfight. The first time she’d gone to her knees to truly submit to him had been a complete shock to them both. He’d never been able to match the rush he’d felt looking down at her waiting for his next command. He’d never expected a woman who possessed such strength and tenacity to want to surrender to him. Talk about an eye-opening experience.
He missed those days. A lot. The moment he’d gotten the call to come to New Washington, he’d known what he would face with her. Maybe it was one of the things he’d found enticing about the situation. That or he was really into self-torture despite his proclivities toward torturing others.
Though he was frustrated, he still knew when to accept defeat. “No use fighting, complaining and just generally bitching about it, is there?”
“No, there’s not.” She moved off to retrieve a glass from the water dispenser.
Despite her words, he heard the laughter in her tone. He didn’t have to guess to know who the companion would be. She wouldn’t trust anyone else to something this important. “They’re actually going to let their precious owner out of their sight?”
She tilted her head forward as she answered. “They will if I tell them to. Beauty of being in charge. I get to tell people what to do. Now I know what you found so alluring about it.”
He knew about being in charge all too well, as he was used to being the one issuing orders. But he’d turned his back on that type of life years ago. “Ah, so it’s a power trip for you then. Careful, you let that get to your head too much and you could lose everything you ever cared for.”
Her stunning features became marred by her frown. She set her glass aside as she crossed her ankles. “Say whatever painful thing will make you feel better about yourself, I’m still going. You can’t deny the fact I probably have just as much training as anyone else on your payroll. Maybe even more so thanks to you. The quicker you accept things, the easier the trip will be.”
“I never said I had a problem accepting this.”
“You haven’t embraced it either.”
“You’re paying me to accept it, remember?” He gave her a wry smile.
“A fact I’m sure you’ll remind me of each and every day we’re gone.”
“Damn straight.” The tension in the room skyrocketed, pressing out so fast and hard he was surprised the safety glass in the windows didn’t crack from the pressure. He moved away from the table, walking to those windows to stare out at the New Washington skyline. “City looks the same. Not that I expected it to change much. 2059 and the politicians are still too busy pumping money into their own bank accounts to worry about the history seeped into the soil of this city. Shame to see the memorials in such disrepair.”
He jumped, startled at the proximity of her voice. He hadn’t heard her approach, which meant he was slipping. Been away from the game too long. Maybe even getting too old to play the same game anymore. “Sorry. Just have a lot on my mind right now.”
“I’m fine. Just getting old and slow.”
“Old isn’t a word I would ever use to describe you. Neither is slow.” The sound of her light chuckle arrowed straight to his dick, reminding him of how her mouth felt wrapped about his shaft. The tightening made him grit his teeth again. Now was really not the time to think about oral sex. Let alone oral sex with Korene Braddock, no matter how damn good it had been.