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Show Me, Baby:A Masters of the Shadowlands Novella

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Show Me, Baby:A Masters of the Shadowlands Novella
Cherise Sinclair

 1001 Dark Nights




One Thousand and One Dark Nights



Once upon a time, in the future …



I was a student fascinated with stories and learning.

I studied philosophy, poetry, history, the occult, and

the art and science of love and magic. I had a vast

library at my father's home and collected thousands

of volumes of fantastic tales.



I learned all about ancient races and bygone

times. About myths and legends and dreams of all

people through the millennium. And the more I read

the stronger my imagination grew until I discovered

that I was able to travel into the stories... to actually

become part of them.



I wish I could say that I listened to my teacher

and respected my gift, as I ought to have. If I had, I

would not be telling you this tale now.

But I was foolhardy and confused, showing off

with bravery.



One afternoon, curious about the myth of the

Arabian Nights, I traveled back to ancient Persia to

see for myself if it was true that every day Shahryar

(Persian: شهریار, "king") married a new virgin, and then

sent yesterday's wife to be beheaded. It was written

and I had read, that by the time he met Scheherazade,

the vizier's daughter, he'd killed one thousand

women.



Something went wrong with my efforts. I arrived

in the midst of the story and somehow exchanged

places with Scheherazade  –  a phenomena that had

never occurred before and that still to this day, I

cannot explain.



Now I am trapped in that ancient past. I have

taken on Scheherazade's life and the only way I can

protect myself and stay alive is to do what she did to

protect herself and stay alive.



Every night the King calls for me and listens as I spin tales.

And when the evening ends and dawn breaks, I stop at a

point that leaves him breathless and yearning for more.

And so the King spares my life for one more day, so that

he might hear the rest of my dark tale.



As soon as I finish a story... I begin a new

one... like the one that you, dear reader, have before

you now.





Chapter One



"He's going to fire me," Rainie Kuras muttered. The noise of hammering  rain on the car roof drowned out her voice as she peered through her  streaked windshield. The streets were filled with standing water in a  special Florida trap for the unwary. She glanced up at the heavens where  indubitably lived a whole slew of annoying gods. "Do you think I have  extra time to waste? Really?"

Her grip on the steering wheel dented the faded blue padding. She  mustn't be late to her job at the towing company. Not now, thanks to  dear Cory, the owner's jerk of a son who'd taken over the business last  week. What an excruciating beginning to the new year.

Since then, each day had been a misery. Rainie's sigh sounded bitter, even to her own ears.

But she couldn't afford to quit. Not after wiping out the last of her  savings. She didn't regret spending the money. Miss Lily had been as  comfortable as possible before she'd "gone home"-as the fragile old  woman termed death.

Rainie blinked back tears. Why did it seem as if it had been raining  every day since her passing, as if the world itself mourned?

A horn blared behind the Civic, startling Rainie into the present. After  a glance in the rearview mirror, she veered toward the curb to let the  let-me-drive-up-your-ass BMW with Boston plates zip past. Cell phone in  one hand, the driver used his other to hit the horn again.

"Idiotic, irritating ignoramus." Rainie rolled her eyes. Better slow down, dude.

The speeding car reached the flooded intersection. Alas, no passage  miraculously opened for Moses. As water sprayed outward, the vehicle  hydroplaned, fishtailing violently.

"Foot off the gas, don't panic," Rainie whispered, cringing inwardly.

As the Boston car's tires caught traction, the rear pendulumed to the  other side. A high yelp sounded. A brown animal was flung to the curb.  The BMW kept going.

Oh no, no, no. Rainie's already clammy hands slid on the steering wheel.  She didn't know how to fix injuries, especially non-people ones. Move,  dog. Move. The little body lay motionless.

God, please let the dog be okay. Carefully, she drove across the flooded  intersection, turned on the hazard flashers, and jumped out. The heavy  rain flattened her hair and soaked her suit.

Blinking through damp eyelashes, she saw the dog was breathing. "God,  you poor thing." With its fur matted down, the dog wasn't much bigger  than a cat. Terrified. Panting. Trembling.

"I'm so not good with animals." How could she be? She'd lived in  apartments. Never had a pet. She squatted awkwardly, trying to check for  bleeding and broken bones.         

     



 

Brushing aside the fur, she scowled at the blood oozing from a scraped  shoulder, but kept her voice smooth and easy. "Jessica's cat likes me.  Does that help? Is there an animal letter of recommendation I should  get?"

The dog's tail beat once against the pavement.

"I need to take you to a vet." She couldn't really determine if anything  was wrong-not in the rain. "Okay, baby, if you don't want a doctor  exam, you have to tell me you're all right. Can you-can't you get up?"  Tears blurred her vision. Don't die, little dog. Please.

It whined, looked up at her with pain-filled, dark brown eyes, and sealed her doom.







Exhaustion sat heavy on Jake Sheffield's shoulders as he stared at the  impossible schedule … and considered the merits of murder. He'd start with  his partner, Saxon, for taking a scuba diving vacation in Cozumel.

After disposing of his best friend's body, he'd execute the so-called  office manager of their veterinary clinic. Yes, most definitely-Lynette  had to die. He studied the schedule a second longer.

Or maybe he'd kill himself instead.

"You knew a month ago that Sax would be gone, and you still scheduled  surgeries for him?" Jake asked in a low tone. He was thirty-one, a  veteran, a veterinarian, and a sexual Dominant since his first year in  vet school; he'd had ample practice throttling back anger. "I have a  full load of exams. Sax isn't here. Who exactly is going to perform  those surgeries, Lynette?" The first appointments would start arriving  in a few minutes.

"I … guess I messed up, huh?" Lynette's blue eyes shimmered with tears.

Amateur hour in the damp eyes arena wouldn't cut it with him. In the  dungeon, women were always crying. He'd caused more than a few appealing  sobbing fits himself. Deliberately.

Lynette could save herself the trouble of squeezing out some salt water.

And now he knew why Saxon had been pressured to give Lynette a job-and  why her sole job reference had been so noncommittal. Because she  couldn't spell, forgot assignments, and took garbled messages. Even  basic receptionist tasks were beyond her. The slender blonde was about  as useful as dewclaws on a Chihuahua.

It'd be the last time he let Saxon hire anyone.

"Yes. You messed up," Jake said evenly. "Now call and shift some  appointments to later in the week." They had a substitute vet who might  be willing to pitch in on such short notice. Or maybe he could-

The clinic's entrance door hissed open.

Jake looked up, and his mood lightened. The woman in the doorway was  Rainie, a submissive in his and Saxon's favorite BDSM club, the  Shadowlands. "Come on in."

When he and Saxon opened the clinic over two years ago, they'd been  surprised and delighted when the owner of the club had trusted them with  his cat. Since then, many of the Shadowlands members had brought their  pets to the clinic.

Considering how the trainee avoided him at the club, her presence here was a surprise.

And he'd never seen her in street clothing, let alone a tailored suit.  Her streaky brown hair was in an intricate coil at her nape. Even  drenched and mud-streaked, she looked amazing. Saxon had once commented  she could be a model for a BBW-big, beautiful woman. And that was only  the beginning of her appeal.

"I don't know what to do." Her carefully even voice couldn't conceal the  underlying panic. The blanket wrapped around the animal showed a  growing bloodstain.

Ignoring the office manager's hissed, "She doesn't have an appointment," he motioned to an exam room. "Let's have a look."

After Rainie set the animal on the stainless steel table, Jake carefully unwrapped the bundle.

Dark brown eyes, wavy filthy fur. A small dog with an equally small growl.

"He bite?" Jake asked.

"Uh … "

"Never mind." She might not know, especially if her pet hadn't been  seriously injured before. Jake would simply be careful, as always.  Nothing obviously broken. Alert, eyes slightly glazed-probably with  pain. Breathing fast. Where was the blood coming from? "What happened?"

"A car. Off Highway 19." Her wide-set, hazel eyes sparked with anger. "The driver didn't even stop."

"Happens more often than you'd think." Jake moved slowly, letting the  dog smell him. A quick glance ascertained gender. "Easy, boy. I see  you're battered and sore, so I'm going to go nice and slow. You're being  a good dog. Your mama will be proud of you."

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