Authors: Vanessa Vale
Their Kidnapped Bride
By Vanessa Vale
© 2015 Vanessa Vale
All rights reserved.
No part of the book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means,
electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage
and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author.
Cover Design: RomCon - www.romcon.com
Cover Photos: Bigstock- Lenor; Period Images
Emma James felt secure in her life. Money, social standing and the protection of her step-brother. Or so she thought. When she discovers his dark secrets, he turns on her and sells her to a western brothel to keep her quiet. There, she's forced to work or participate in an auction. A virgin auction...and she's the prize.
One look at Emma James and Whitmore Kane and Ian Stewart know she would belong to them. Marriage was the only way to truly claim her...so they bid and bid well. As their bride, they return to the Bridgewater Ranch and teach her the ways to please not one husband, but two. But danger has tracked Ian around the world and threatens their newfound relationship. Together, can they fight the demons of the past while forging a future?
This is the first book in the Bridgewater Ménage Series, where you'll meet all of the men in Kane and Ian's army regiment and discover their unusual beliefs on marriage. Read the entire series to follow along as the men, two or three at a time, claim their brides. Bridgewater: Where ménage meets marriage.
THEIR KIDNAPPED BRIDE
A Bridgewater Ménage
"You may do with her as you wish. I wash my hands of her."
These were the words that I first comprehended as I awoke, my mind unusually foggy. Everything that came before was garbled as if I had cotton stuffed in my ears. My eyes felt as if lead weights were pressed upon them, too heavy to open, and a bitter taste coated my tongue. My head thumped in time with my beating heart. I didn't want to surface from the safe warmth of my slumber.
"Surely she could be spoken for easily enough. A hasty marriage. Her face and body are more than appealing to any man." A woman responded to the man's insistent words.
"No," his tone was emphatic, sharp. "That will not suffice. My money, if you please."
My head was clearing enough to recognize the voice. It was my step-brother, Thomas. Who was he speaking with, and why? The topic was odd. Everything was odd. Why were they talking in my bedroom while I slept? It was time to discern the answer.
Stirring, I pushed up from the bed to sit, my eyes fluttering open, then widening in surprise. This wasn't my bedroom! The walls were not robin's egg blue, but a garish ruby red. The room was gaudy and softly lit, equally red velvet drapes hung at the windows. The room imbued decadence, extravagance. Tawdry deeds. I rubbed at my sleepy eyes, making sure I was not dreaming, taking a moment to clear my head.
Thomas stood tall with his erect bearing by the door, palm out, speaking with a woman over a foot shorter. She wore an emerald green satin gown that had her ample cleavage all but spilling over the top and showcased a narrow waist. Her jet black hair was piled high, creatively so, in the latest of styles with artful curls down her nape. She was beautiful, her skin an alabaster white, her lips tinged with coloring, her eyes darkened with kohl. She was as decadent as her surroundings.
She moved gracefully to a large desk, situated before an unlit fireplace and smoothly opened the top drawer. Her eyes shifted to me and made notice that I was awake, but made no mention of it. She removed a small stack of bills and handed them to Thomas. He was a big man, broad and imposing, and could easily make the strongest of men nervous. But not this woman. She didn't cower. She didn't simper. She only tilted her chin up in a haughty way at the transaction.
"Thomas." My voice came out scratchy and I cleared my throat. "Thomas," I repeated. "What is happening?"
His dark eyes narrowed as he fixed his gaze on me. Only hatred showed in their inky depths. It had been disinterest that was usually there, this anger was new. His father married my mother when I was five and Thomas fifteen, both parents widowed years prior. The union was more for money than affection and when they died – he of a fall from a horse and she a year later of consumption – I was left under the guardianship of Thomas. Although he had never been affectionate or overly interested in me, I had wanted for nothing.
"You are awake," he grumbled, his mouth turned down in a frown. "The laudanum dose was not as substantial as I expected."
My mouth fell open. Laudanum? It was no wonder I struggled to comprehend. "What – I don't understand." I ran my hand over my hair, my severe bun having lost several of its pins and some long tendrils brushed along my neck. Licking my dry lips, I glanced between the strange woman and my Thomas.
My step-brother was an attractive man, in a conservative, severe fashion. He was precise, concise and exacting. Strict would also be apt, as would severe. His suit was black, his dark hair slicked and shiny with pomade, his mustache full, yet fiercely maintained. Some said we looked similarly, even though we were not formally related, our eyes the same bright blue, hair dark as night, however our countenance was quite different. Thomas's emotions matched his attire: austere and tense, a trait also found in his father. I, however, was considered to be more placid, the peacemaker in the family. With our parents dead, I lived with Thomas and his wife, Mary, and their three children. A part of a hectic household, I was always able to maintain some semblance of lightheartedness in contrast to my sibling's less generous nature.
Thomas sighed, as if wasting time on a recalcitrant child. "This is Mrs. Pratt. I relinquish my guardianship of you to her."
Mrs. Pratt did not look like any married woman that I'd ever known. None I knew of wore a dress in such a color, sheen of fabric, or daring cut. Her expression remained neutral, as if she did not wish to be involved in this conversation.
"I don't need a guardian, Thomas." I shifted to swing my legs over the side of the chaise on which I'd been sleeping. Not sleeping, drugged. The piece of furniture was an odd feature in what I surmised was Mrs. Pratt's office. This was not a topic of conversation to have lying down and I felt at a complete disadvantage. I straightened my dress and tried to tidy myself, but there was not much I could do without a mirror and a comb. "If you feel the house is too crowded, I can certainly find a home of my own. I am not without means."
Our father had been the owner of a gold mine on the outskirts of Virginia City and money had, for a time, poured in. With well placed investments, our family wanted for nothing. Every extravagance was brought in by railroad, even to such a remote and small town in Montana. This fortune had even helped fund Thomas's position in the town's government. His interest in politics, and a future in Washington, called for the well placed spending of these funds.
"No. Your money is gone." He glanced down at the nails on one hand.
I stood at his words, stunned. The room spun for a moment and I grabbed hold of the chaise for support. The money was gone? The account was ample for anything I could ever need. "Gone? How?"
He shrugged negligibly, flicking his gaze to mine for the briefest of moments. "I took it."
"You can't take my money." My eyes widened, my stomach flipped, as much from the sour effects of the opiate laced drug as to my brother's words and banal tone.
"I can and I have. As your guardian, it is within my rights to manage your funds. The bank cannot stop me."
"Why?" I asked, incredulous. He knew I was not asking after the bank, but his claim on my inheritance.
Mrs. Pratt just stood and listened, her hands clasped together at her waist. It seemed I had no champion.
"You witnessed something you shouldn't have. I need you gone."
"Wit–" I shut my mouth after I realized his insinuation. I
seen something I shouldn't. The other morning, Mary and I had taken the children to school before joining the women's auxiliary to discuss the plans for the summer town picnic. One of the children had forgotten their lunch pail and I volunteered to return to the house and retrieve it while Mary continued on to the meeting. Tedious as those functions were, I was thankful for a reprieve from the matchmaking older women. At twenty-two, my unmarried state was their pet project. It was their goal to see me wed before my next birthday. I, on the other hand, was not in such a rush, especially based on the supercilious and unappealing men who were under consideration.
Instead of finding Cook in the kitchen, I found Clara, the upstairs maid, lying upon the kitchen table. Her gray uniform was bunched up about her waist, her white cotton drawers dangling from one ankle as Allen, Thomas's personal secretary, stood between her spread thighs. His pants had been open to expose his manhood, which he thrust into Clara with vigor. I remained quiet and hidden in the doorway, the couple unaware of my presence, and watched their carnal actions. I knew of what happened between a man and woman in general terms, but had never seen it firsthand, and nothing like this. Not on a kitchen table!
From what my mother had told me before she'd died it was done at night, in the dark, with only a minimal amount – and then only what was required – of skin exposed. By the intensity and vigor of Allen's motions, I thought Clara would complain or be in pain, but the look on her face, the way she tossed her head back and thrashed upon the wood surface had me thinking otherwise. He was pleasuring her.
She liked it!
Mother had said it was something to be endured, but Clara proved her statement false. The look of ecstasy upon her face could not be feigned.
I'd felt a tingling between my legs at the idea of a man filling me in such a way, making me lost to everything but what he was doing. When Clara ran her hand over her covered breasts, my nipples had tightened, ached to be touched. She hadn't just been enjoying Allen's attentions. The way she arched her back and screamed, she'd
it. I wanted to feel as she did. I wanted to scream in pleasure. I was aroused by the idea of being handled thusly by a man. Unfamiliar wetness had seeped from my woman's core and I'd reached down to run my hand over the swollen flesh, even through the thick fabric of my dress. When I felt an unfamiliar jolt of pleasure from the motion, I removed my hand in stunned surprise. If my touch alone had felt so heavenly, what would it feel like being taken care of by a virile man?
Allen had thrust a few more times, and then stiffened, groaning as if injured. When he pulled his plum colored member, glistening and wet, from Clara's body, I saw not only her womanly folds, but copious white cream as well. He'd placed her feet on the very edge of the table so she was exposed and vulnerable, however the young woman didn't seem to care, either too well pleasured to bother with modesty, or she had none.
I'd licked my lips at the sight of her wantonness, her sated body replete and well used.
wanted to feel that way and I wanted a man to do it. Not Allen, but a man that would be mine.
My desire had been quickly doused when Thomas, previously hidden from view, came to take Allen's place between Clara's thighs. Leaning forward, he grabbed the front of her bodice and ripped, buttons skittering across the room. He lowered his head to her exposed nipples and suckled on one, then the other. I had no idea a man would do such a thing.