When Faris steps into his friend and mentor's inner sanctum, he doesn't expect to find Stella--a leather-clad Dominatrix. He can only watch as Ulric, the most powerful man in the sector, drops to his knees and throws himself at Stella's mercy. Faris must decide whether to walk out the door, leaving his friend behind, or to put himself into the hands of a woman who demands nothing less than his absolute surrender.
Ulric knows Faris holds himself responsible for the devastating attack on the colony outpost. If Faris doesn't learn how to forgive himself, the young man will be on the road to emotional disaster. His only hope is to convince Stella to bring Faris into their lives as another submissive. Ulric must now put his feelings for Stella on the line while holding tight to the man he desperately wants beneath him.
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November 13, 2009
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Excerpt from Mistress Rules by Christine d'Abo
The click of her stiletto heeled boots on the space cruiser's marble floor echoed in the hall as Stella made her way toward the room. A soft breath of air pouring down from the ventilation shaft rolled across her bare shoulders as she sauntered past, chasing away the chill from the cold vacuum outside. The ship had been on the far side of the planet for months now, floating in space. Heat from the neighboring sun couldn't reach them in their perpetual dark. Of course a few lucky souls were able to take leave on the planet to warm up. But from what she'd heard, the experience was far from pleasant.
Another diplomatic mission of peace between groups determined to obliterate each other. Tensions were high all around, but then, they usually were in these situations. The crew of the command cruiser was more on edge than normal, less forthcoming with casual information than they had been in the past. Stella didn't require the bits from those conversations to fulfill her duties, but the casual chats made her feel a part of the crew.
In reality, the mission details weren't her concern. Her tasks were always the same--specific, pleasurable and focused on the one man most likely to save the situation.
She wasn't in a rush to reach her destination, the lavish room around the corner. It was not like she hadn't been here a hundred times before, knew precisely what to expect when the door peeled back to let her pass. Stella relished her role and what she did to help Ulric
It was a position of power she had held for over a year now. Both men and women would kill to be in her place if they knew of her role. Who wouldn't to have the type control she held over the most powerful man in the sector? Not that anyone else deserved to be here but her. She didn't trust others would understand what Ulric required. Despite how their relationship started, he now meant too much to her to risk anything happening. He'd saved her life, but there was more to it than simple gratitude.
She wouldn't trust his care to another.
Stella smoothed a hand down the front of her black leather skirt, ensuring none of the cream from her preparations remained on her fingers. The material was cool beneath her caress, catching slightly on her long nails as she relaxed her shoulders. She needed to be perfect--for both their sakes.
This was the fourth time he'd called for her this month. Normally during diplomatic or military crises, Stella didn't see Ulric until it was over. The rare times when he'd needed her help during a negotiation, Stella had only been called upon once or twice. Their sessions had been intense, but helped to give Ulric the focus he needed to continue on.
But this? Stella hated knowing something was happening on the planet she wasn't a party to. Something so dreadful, Ulric felt the need to retreat into himself to deal with his emotions. No, this time she had to do better to help him.
Her dread-tinged anticipation battled with her desire, the thrill of giving Ulric exactly what he needed outweighing her necessity for her physical release. He had to be so strong in the outside world all the time, but not with her. She gave him shelter as much he did for her. He was the first person to treat her with kindness in her life, Stella owed him more than she could ever express.
Her stomach swirled and fluttered as unnamed feelings tightened in her chest. More and more she was like this before she came to him--a tangle of emotions she forced down, deep inside. Stella's role had been clear from the beginning. They'd signed a contract stating as much. She couldn't go against the rules and let her heart confuse their relationship, no matter how tempting the prize. This wasn't supposed to be about her heart.
The guards who flanked the ship's corridors at regular intervals dropped their gazes as she sauntered past them. She knew Ulric had made it clear she was not to be touched. When she'd first arrived she would try to tempt one into faltering, increasing the sway of her hips as she walked, but no one ever took the bait. She supposed the penalty for touching her wasn't worth acting on the temptation. But it was a game she continued to play regardless of the disappointing outcome--she'd always loved games.
Sometimes, though, she wished one of them would slip. It had been forever since she'd had any fun simply for the sake of it. Ulric's needs were great and he was too important to the continuing peace in this sector. He needed to focus on peace talks when in the outside world. It meant her entire focus lay on him and him alone.
Turning the corner into the final corridor and her destination, Stella paused. The guards in this section had already been dismissed. Interesting. It meant Ulric wanted extra privacy --an unusual turn for him. Something must have happened at the council meeting. Goddess, she needed to tap into communications more frequently if major events were happening without her knowledge. While she could do nothing about the negotiations, she needed to anticipate Ulric's moods, his needs. He knew she had more skills than what she displayed in the bedroom. Perhaps she it was time she asked to be more involved.
Straightening, she took a deep breath and closed her eyes. The soft sounds of the ship lulled her into the quiet place in her head, her center of focus. Expectation gnawed at her insides as her mind turned over where she could take them this evening. How high they would soar before crashing down into a sea of pleasure.
No, she needed to fight past that. This wasn't about her. Ulric needed this thing only she could give him.
Stella understood. She knew about power and strength, dominance and submission. She knew the need, the craving to let go, the unblinking trust one person placed into the hands of another. Ulric trusted her--and she him. There was more too, those dangerous emotions flitting around the outskirts of her psyche, things she would leave unnamed.
It wasn't in their contract. Opening her eyes once more, she walked directly to the door--the Mistress was ready to play.
As the door slid open ahead of her, she immediately noticed two things were out of the ordinary. The lights had been turned off with only candles to illuminate the room, and they were not alone.
Crossing her arms beneath the bust of her corset, she cocked an eyebrow and stared at the interloper standing in her domain. Goddess, the room looked nearly romantic with the candlelight and vastness of space spread before them on the other side of the window. Not at all the way Stella needed things to be--this wasn't a seduction. Not on her part at least.
Neither, had it been on Ulric before.
"Ulric, you dare bring another man into my home without my permission?"
Silence filled the room.
Stella turned her head until her gaze landed on a man standing off to the side of the room. His blond hair was cropped close to his head. She couldn't tell his eye color, given the distance, or the quality of light, but she couldn't miss his intensity. She was strangely curious about him--a trait she rarely indulged. Questions led to answers she typically didn't like.
"He asked me to bring him here." The man wasn't intimidated by her, if his tone was anything to go by. Good, she couldn't stand weakness. "He said you would be able to help him."
Stella ignored the sudden increase of her heartbeat and the twisting of her stomach. "What happened?"
The man ran a hand down the front of his head, smoothing his hair flat. "You might not be aware, but there was an attack. One of the planet's outposts in the disputed region was destroyed. Ulric tried to stop them from retaliating, but...so many people died." He slumped as he stood, looking defeated.
Oh Goddess, no. "He blames himself." She kept her tone cool, as indifferent as she could manage. It was hard knowing the torture Ulric was putting himself through.
The man shrugged. "I tried to convince him...it wasn't his fault."
"He won't listen to you." Stella thrust her hip to the side, bracing one hand on it while the other dropped down. "What's your name?"
"Do you know who I am?"
"You're his lover?" Faris frowned. "He didn't tell me exactly. Honestly, I'm not sure what we are doing here. We need to talk to Ambassador Gravlin and try to get things resolved."
Stella did her best to ignore her annoyance at the unintentional disrespect, and focused on the problem at hand. "I'm much more than his lover. Who exactly are you to him?"