The happiest of Mondays to you all. SAVED is now available at Bookstrand, so do excuse me while I do a little happy jig here. :-)
[Siren Classic: Erotic Contemporary Consensual BDSM Paranormal Rubenesque Romance, vampires, spanking, sex toys, HEA]
A mother will do anything for her child, even enter The Games. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Prepared to endure the experience, Jo Lilley’s unexpected visceral reaction to Henri Lesauvage is all-consuming.
Drawn in by the sadness in her eyes, the two-thousand-year-old vampire cannot resist the challenge to help her forget her burdens. As he takes her through the painful pleasure dance of becoming his submissive for the evening, it becomes clear why she seems so familiar. The community’s mistake means that he will need to distance himself to save both mother and child.
Jo has little recollection of that night, bar the overwhelming pleasure and the connection she felt to her Dom. To top it all, her daughter’s miraculous recovery since, defies logic and science.
When all other options are exhausted, the fantastical must be real. If vampires exist…
Can she forgive their kind and follow her heart?
Available now at Bookstrand
The Vampire Games 2
Copyright © 2018
“No, that’s just, no, please. You have to do something, please.”
Jo Lilley stared up at the eminent children’s consultant, willing him to do or say something to soften that blow. Instead, she read nothing but silent pity in his dark eyes. She knew what he would say next. Had been witness to many of these conversations in her career as a pediatric nurse, but she wasn’t here in her capacity as a nurse. She might still be in uniform, practically lived here at the hospital since Holly’s turn for the worse a month ago, but right now her emotions were those of a mother. One desperately hoping for a miracle, to save her little girl. She couldn’t, wouldn’t lose her. Not like this. Not ever, and certainly not here in this room.
Holly had spent far too much time cooped up, isolated, robbed of the life any four-year-old ought to have, to end it in hospital. If these were going to be her last few weeks/months, then she would spend them at home with her. She’d finance it somehow.
“I’m so very sorry, but there really isn’t anything else we can do but keep her comfortable.”
Jo shook her head and blinked away the tears threatening to fall.
“There has to be. What about…” Her words trailed off when Mr. Parker shook his head and touched her lightly on the shoulder.
“Miss Lilley, Jo, I know this is hard but…”
“Hard?” Jo glared at him, and Mr. Parker let go of her and adjusted his silver-rimmed glasses with a sigh. “Don’t you dare call this hard. You have no idea, and you’re supposed to be the best. There’s experimental treatment in the US. I know what you said, the trust would never fund it, but Holly’s Just Giving Page is starting to take off now, and dammit. You can’t just give up on her. I won’t bloody let you. She’s all I’ve got. I can’t lose her. I won’t.”
The rest of her outraged words were lost in the huge sobs which overtook her. Jo slapped her hand over her mouth to stop them from escaping, but it was useless.
“I really am very sorry, Jo. I’ll give you a moment. I’ll be at the nurse’s station if you have any further questions.” He turned to leave, then seemed to think better of it and addressed her again. “In my professional opinion, she is too ill for a trip to the States. If she were my daughter…well, it’s time to let her go. She’s not in any pain, we made sure of that, and I would suggest you simply enjoy the time you have left with her.”
Those words haunted Jo hours later as she sat by her daughter’s bedside holding her hand. Holly had drifted back off to sleep with a huge smile on her face when Jo had told her that she was taking her home.
“That means I’m better, right, Mummy?”
Mentally crossing her fingers, and with her heart damn well nearly splitting in half, Jo had nodded. “We’ll have so much fun together, you and me.”
Of course, fun would be limited with Holly unable to stand any sunlight for any length of time, but they could do things in the evening. While her strength was waning, and her heart was in danger of giving up any day soon, Holly had as much thirst for life as any other four-year-old.
Damn this mysterious virus/condition/syndrome whatever the hell it was, which made Holly so sensitive to UV light that she would blister and burn the minute she stepped into it. Add to that the fact that her body had decided to attack its own immune system, and it was too much to handle. While pain medication kept her comfortable, and regular blood transfusions put some color in her pale cheeks, her heart had been irrevocably damaged, hence the decision to stop any other invasive treatment.
It’s just not fair.
Jo swiped away her silent tears and scowled into the distance. Ever since that fateful morning the pregnancy stick had shown that distinct blue line, it had been Holly and her against the world. It hadn’t even occurred to Jo to not have the baby, even though it had been the worst time to have one ever. Newly graduated, she’d been due to start her career as a pediatric nurse at Great Ormond Street, and a baby had complicated things somewhat.
Holly had been the result of her celebration drinks for landing that job. Talk about getting more than you bargained for. Perhaps the most galling aspect of it all, and one her parents had disowned her for was the small detail of not knowing who Holly’s father was.
All she remembered of him was his height and the strange pull she’d felt to him. That was it. The whole thing had been so not like her.
Then again, she wasn’t exactly sure who she was anymore, other than a woman who would do anything for her child. With a career to establish and a baby to raise she had been busy, and that was before Holly’s mysterious illness manifested itself. While she’d always been supersensitive to sunlight, the true extent of her illness didn’t become clear until Holly had stopped breastfeeding her, aged two and a half. Within a week of that last feed, she’d started to blister in the sun, and it had just gotten worse and worse the older she became.
Not for the first time Jo wished you could make a child breastfeed. So much for all those folks who had looked down their nose at her for continuing to meet her girl’s needs. Another sore point with her parents, who were convinced she was spoiling their granddaughter. It had been the last coffin in their already strained relationship. Even when she’d become ill, they wouldn’t accept that it had been Holly’s continued nursing which had kept the illness at bay this long. Without the continued immune protection provided through her mother’s milk, Holly’s immune system hadn’t managed to cope. There would be no help forthcoming from her grandparents, in an emotional or financial capacity, that’s for sure. They didn’t need them in their life anyway.
Jo suppressed a sigh and swiped those damn tears away. They never achieved anything. She only had herself to rely on, and she knew what she would have to do.
Making sure Holly was fast asleep, she dropped a kiss on her little girl’s pale forehead and pulled out the card her neighbor Anna had insisted she take months ago.
“Trust me, the boss will see you right. It’s how I finance my holidays, and you’ll enjoy it.”
The black-and-white card looked harmless enough.
Danny Tomglington – The Games
When questioned by Jo, Anna had refused to explain what exactly these Games entailed, but Jo could guess.
“Look, he’ll explain it all when you ring. Just tell him I sent you, and don’t look so worried. You’re allowed to have some fun, and The Games are definitively oodles of fun. I wouldn’t still be participating if they weren’t. I mean you like sex, right?”
Jo gave a somewhat strangled laugh, remembering that conversation now. It earned her a strange look from the cleaner, who was mopping the corridor. With a tight smile at the young woman, she sidestepped her and escaped into the relative privacy of the stairwell. This late at night not many folks were about, let alone used the stairs, so she ought to be safe to make this phone call.
Jo sat down on the top step and contemplated that card again.
Could she actually go through with this? There was the whole moral issue to consider. While Anna hadn’t spelled it out, there was only one profession which involved this much secrecy and where a woman got paid a ton of cash. While Jo was all for live and let live—what two or more consenting adults got up to in the privacy of their bedroom was no one’s business but theirs—the whole getting paid for it made it all seem so sordid.
And perhaps more to the point, would she remember what sex was even like? It had been years since she’d been in a relationship and while she had hazy memories of the night she conceived Holly, no men had come near her bits since then, unless you counted her gynecologist. As he was in his fifties and as gay as you could say camp, bless him, she didn’t think that counted.
Jo bashed her head against the railing in a vain attempt to knock some sense into her brain. All she achieved was giving herself the beginning of a headache.
Come on, grow a pair. You can do this, for Holly.
Knowing her luck, all this angst was for nothing anyway. Anna was tall and slim and stunningly beautiful. Of course, men would pay handsomely for her. Jo, on the other hand, was five feet four of overgenerous curves. Never the skinniest to start with, she hadn’t lost the extra weight she’d put on with Holly, and her wobbly bits had stretch marks to boot. While she would never begrudge the changes her body had gone through—it had produced her beautiful daughter after all—she was hardly any man’s fantasy.
Jo sat on that step until her bum went numb before she came to a decision.
Beggars could not be choosers, and if she wanted to take time off work, and spend every last minute of however much time Holly had left with her daughter, then she needed money fast.
Hands clammy, heart threatening to beat itself out of her chest, it took several attempts to type in the number on that card, mainly because she couldn’t see the screen because the phone shook so much. When she finally managed it, a deep, authoritative voice answered after the third ring.
“Tomglington. What can I do for you today?”
“Erm, I was given this number by a friend, she said you would know what it was about.”
Jo wasn’t sure if she’d missed his answer, so loud was the roaring in her ears, but it would appear he’d simply taken some time because she almost dropped the phone when he spoke again.
“I see, and you are?”
Jo bashed the phone against her forehead and grimaced at her stupidity before she answered.
“I’m sorry. My name is Jo Lilley, and my friend is Anna Watson. She gave me your card and said you could help me.”
Another pause, designed no doubt to keep her on edge. One thing Anna had let slip, was the fact these Games involved some kinky shenanigans. As this Danny was in charge of them, it stood to reason that he would be a Dom of some sort. His voice alone held that edge Jo recognized, even after all those years. While she’d only dabbled in the lifestyle with her first serious and much older boyfriend at the time, she recognized a Dominant’s voice when she heard it. That deeply buried submissive part of her—which had scared her barely eighteen-year-old-self witless—after all, she was a feminist, and they didn’t just submit —couldn’t help but react.
“I see, and why do you think I would be inclined to help you, Jo Lilley?”
That left her stumped, and she scowled into the corridor.
“I…well that is, I don’t know, Anna said you would, Sir.”
It seemed natural to give him that title and this time when he replied she could hear the smile in his voice.
“Ah, now I see why Anna mentioned The Games to you, but I still need an answer. Why should I include you and why do you need my help?”
Jo blew out the breath she hadn’t been aware of holding. Before she could reply, his clipped response was in her ear.
“And I want the truth, Jo Lilley. There’s no judgment here, but I do expect complete honesty from all the participants, so—”
“I need the money, okay and I need a fair amount of it and fast.” Jo blurted those words out, and his sigh down the phone line made her squirm on her stone step. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt you, it’s just…please, you need to help me. Anna said you were always looking for fresh blood, and I may not be as young and beautiful as Anna, but…” Heat rose in her cheeks when she heard his deep sigh, and she stopped talking. “I’m sorry this has been a mistake.”
Barely suppressing a sob at her own stupidity, Jo ended the call. Lord only knew how she was going to raise the cash now. She jumped when her phone started to ring almost immediately, and after a moment’s hesitation answered it.
“Has your mother never told you it’s rude to hang up on someone like that, pet?” The censure in that deep voice made her squirm, even as her rational brain rejected the idea, while it caught the odd undertone of amusement. “As it happens, I know of several gentlemen who regularly attend The Games, who like their submissives on the bratty side. So on reflection, I do believe you would work quite well. Plus, one of the ladies due to attend this Saturday had to pull out due to a family emergency, so we’re one short. Her slot is yours if you’d like it.”
“This Saturday?” Jo winced at the shrill, harpy impression of her response, but, really, that gave her three days, that’s all.
“I was under the impression that you were in somewhat of a hurry, or did I mistake the urgency of your monetary situation?”
Jo had to marvel at that matter-of-fact summing up of her nightmare. Somehow, she managed to formulate a suitable response past that lump of emotion in her throat.
“No, I mean yes, it is urgent.”
“Well, then I will text you an address. Be there Saturday lunchtime. Be prompt and be prepared to not make it home until Sunday afternoon at the earliest. There will be a number of forms for you to fill in, not least the amount you wish to raise for your participation, your limits will be established, and you will be expected to sign a contract, which will include a nondisclosure agreement. All pretty standard stuff as you will see. I will also need your full name, address, bank account details for me to deposit the amount we agree on, and your National Insurance details so that I can run the required background check. If you could text me those by return, this will enable me to get things started. Are we clear on all that, pet?”
“Erm, yes, Sir. Don’t you need to see me in person or something? Like I said, I’m not…that is…”
“That won’t be necessary. All I need is your consent.”
The line went quiet, too quiet as the seconds ticked by while he waited for her reply.
Jo closed her eyes and having taken in a fortifying breath, she whispered her answer.
“You have it.”
* * * *
It was with a certain amount of trepidation that she approached the doors of the nightclub she had been given as the location for this week’s Games. It looked harmless enough in the bright midday sun, even if the muscle-bound hulk guarding the door gave her pause for thought. That must be Brian, at least that was the name she’d been given as the person who would be there to greet her. He must have been in a recent fight because bruising still marred his jaw and his nose had clearly been broken. Brian pushed away from the wall and smirked when she approached. Two missing front teeth further reiterated his thug look. It was somewhat of a shame because he would have been rather handsome without those fight scars if you went for the steroid-induced look that was. It did sweet FA for Jo, mind you. Ignoring the guy’s lecherous attempt to look down her cleavage, she held up her phone for the code she’d been given.
“I assume you’re Brian? Mr. Tomglington said I was to meet a Brian here?” She was rather proud of the fact that she managed to say that much without even a wobble in her voice. Inside, her stomach was churning with nerves, and she was in serious danger of upchucking what little breakfast she’d managed to force down earlier.
“Really? You?” The derogatory tone behind those two words set her teeth on edge. Anger replaced her nervousness, and she did her best to glare up at him.
“Yes, me. Why? Is there something wrong with me?”
Brian sneered, then paled as he held on to his earpiece. If she didn’t know better, Jo would have said someone was reading him the riot act because he lost his superior stance. Brian shook his head and muttered something under his breath that she didn’t catch, while he nodded into the camera mounted above the door.
The door swung open, and he gestured for her to follow him.
“Not for me to say, miss. It’s through here. There’s rather a lot of paperwork to get through.”
Rather a lot turned out to be the understatement of the year. The room she’d been taken to reminded her of a school room with its rows of desks facing the front where an impossibly tall blonde issued them all with the forms. A quick head count showed there to be around twenty young women around her age as well as, curiously, three men. With the exception of one other woman, who looked as clueless and nervous as Jo felt, they all seemed to have been before. A quiet air of anticipation permeated this meeting. Those that had attended previously sat around in huddles chatting to each other, having only had to sign the contract, whereas she and the other newbies took ages to complete all the paperwork.
The limits list gave Jo the most trouble. How the hell was she supposed to know what those were? The few swats to her ass she’d taken years ago, and the one suspension which still gave her butterflies whenever she remembered it hardly qualified as knowing what she liked or didn’t like. Her one and only Master had been too intent on training her to be the right kind of submissive to actually have given her a real taste of all the various tools of the trade before they decided to part ways. The sex she’d indulged in since then had all been vanilla and well, hardly rocked her world. In the end, she settled for most things on that list as a maybe, with the exception of humiliation, public display, and any of the more extreme stuff. She swallowed hard reading some of the suggestions, and finally ticked Shibari as her favorite kind of play. Ropes still held a fascination for her, and she wouldn’t mind experiencing that floaty feeling again.
The express mention of sexual contact surprised her. Surely, sex was the whole point of these Games? Otherwise, why would they be willing to pay her so much for her participation? Much to her surprise, Mr. Tomglington had agreed to her request to cover six months’ worth of her salary. The figure was there in black and white on the contract the gray-haired solicitor, who was also in attendance placed in front of her when she’d finally managed to complete her limit list.
“I believe this is the amount agreed upon with the boss?” he asked.
Jo swallowed past the renewed lump in her throat and nodded.
“Very well. Just sign here, and I’ll arrange for the transfer.”
“Just like that?” she asked.
“Yes, it will be instant, so that you can check with your banking app before I must ask you to hand in your phone. No mobiles or other electronic devices are permitted during the actual Games.” He paused and laughed as though he found something highly amusing. “Besides, today’s theme is the Wild West and mobiles would look very out of place, wouldn’t you say?” He winked at her and then handed her his gold fountain pen.
“I suppose not, but I need my phone. As I already explained, I have a sick child, and I need to be reachable if she takes a turn for the worst.” Much to her silent horror, her voice broke on that thought. If that was to happen while she was here, taking part in whatever perverted scenario they would come up with, she would never forgive herself. Holly was the whole reason why she did this after all. And while Anna had repeatedly reassured her that she would enjoy The Games, it didn’t sit right with her. Jo was prepared to endure them. Besides, with Holly’s health uppermost in her mind, even the most skilled of Doms wouldn’t manage to take her out of her head, no matter how much a small part of her was craving just that.
It would be bliss to simply be for a while, to know that all she had to worry about was pleasing whatever Dominant chose her tonight. Guilt crashed down at the mere thought, and she forced her attention back to the solicitor.
“Yes, we’re aware of your situation, and your phone will be monitored at all times. Should such a situation arise, you or rather your Dominant will be apprised of the change in status immediately, and you will of course be free to leave.”
That got her attention, and she frowned at him.
“Just like that? What about the money?”
The solicitor smiled and tapped a clause in the contract.
“Will be yours regardless, as you can see here. The Games have been perfected over the years, and Mr. Tomglington runs the best in the country, so all you have to do is enjoy yourself and sign, of course.”
Again, he handed her the pen. A quick glance around the room showed Jo to be the last one left, so she did the only thing she could do. She signed.
Oh god, what on earth am I letting myself in for?
Have a great day and do stay naughty, folks.