REIGN OF PLEASURE
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Genre: Paranormal/BDSM/Erotic Romance
Length: Short Novel
Deposed queen Rhiannon’s sexual proclivities have finally gotten her into trouble. After Rhiannon took a pleasure slave who didn’t belong to her, the courtesan’s master is asking the ultimate price for the trespass—not Rhiannon’s life, but her body…and complete submission for three days. Rhiannon is determined to submit only her body, but Lord Ignius Sebastian, her new master, will settle for nothing less than her soul.
Excerpt from Chapter One
Lord Ignius Sebastian? The name sounded familiar…
I turned to face Consilium Claris again, who looked at me expectantly. As if I should know the man who brought the charges against me.
I shrugged. I didn’t but I’d find out soon enough.
Consilium Claris shook his head in pity. I didn’t know. “Guards, please show Lord Sebastian in.”
The crowd in the assembly chamber, which had been relatively silent throughout the proceedings, murmured again among themselves. Most of what they said was too low for me to catch.
Just as someone whispered the words, “Death comes,” a shadow fell over the entrance to the council and it was then I remembered where I had heard the name Lord Sebastian. And I remembered his attempt to court me before I married Soren.
Lord Sebastian had taken it as a personal insult that I had chosen a human over him, but that had been no concern of mine. I had loved my husband and that was why I had married him. But even if I hadn’t, if the choice had been between him and Lord Sebastian, who probably made the very hounds of hell nervous, I would have chosen Soren.
Lord Ignius Sebastian had been huge and intimidating then. Nothing had changed about him. Panic, fear and that peculiar heat suffused my body as I watched him duck his head in order to pass through the doorway into the room. He was dressed in all black and wore leather pants that molded over his long legs and thighs.
He didn’t bother pretending to be a gentleman in formal court wear but dressed as the warrior he was. A bone and steel breastplate covered his massive chest while leaving his shoulders and neck bare. Were they human bones? Nausea made my stomach bubble. Even if some of the inhabitants of Ether didn’t care for lesser beings, it was still barbaric to use them as accessories.
No wonder he had to duck to get through the room. A fire-scorched metal helmet covered his head. Two thick ebony horns twisted up the sides and ended on knife-sharp tips, adding a foot to his already impossible height.
Wind seemed to follow him—or maybe it was the tangible fear of the room’s occupants that stirred his hair. Blue-black, it fell in a wave down his back to his waist.
Those gathered nearest the door sidled away from him like stirred-up prey. He didn’t acknowledge them, just walked farther into the room, his gaze never leaving mine. I reminded myself I was his queen now, not the girl he had once intimidated, but the look in his eyes told me who he was and what he was capable of.
He removed his helmet and tucked it under one massive arm. I used the movement as an excuse to end our staring contest and drop my gaze. I scoffed silently. In order for something to be a contest, didn’t there have to be two contestants?
“Lord Death,” some brave soul dared to whisper. He had come by the name honestly. He’d been to hell and back, literally, escorting the spirits of the most dangerous supernaturals and other lesser beings to the gates of Abyssus. He was the only one of our world who had seen hell and not only lived to speak of it but—if the rumors were true—moonlighted as one of Hades’ highest-ranking commanders and had a vacation home there.
He had once been my father’s general and a warrior without peer. Campaigns had been won just by him doing nothing more than showing up on the battlefield but he had “retired” when his suit for my hand was rejected.
I had mistaken his quiet acceptance of my rejection. Had he waited this long for revenge?
Spots appeared before my eyes, blurring my vision. Heat rolled through the room in waves, stealing the oxygen. I struggled to breathe, but couldn’t seem to draw air into my lungs fast enough.
I was good as dead.
“Lord Sebastian,” Consilium Claris greeted warmly. A little too warmly. He clasped the much larger man’s hand in his own and a collective gasped sounded in the room.
“Consilium Claris,” Lord Sebastian responded with a deferential nod.
“It’s been too long, my boy. Too long indeed and, while I am happy to see you, it’s unfortunate we meet again under such regrettable circumstances,” Consilium Claris responded.
Boy? Regrettable? Both were understatements of the most obscene kind. The huge, hulking beast of a man towering over the councilman was as much a boy as I was. Regrettable didn’t begin to describe this situation.
The room was so quiet I knew everyone could hear the frantic beating of my heart. It skipped when Lord Sebastian turned those unnatural green eyes on me and nodded. “Regrettable indeed, Consilium Claris.”
“I’m sure this is nothing more than a deplorable misunderstanding and our Lady Queen did not mean to deliver such an insult.” Consilium Claris’ smile and words helped to slow the frenzied pace of my heart. For more than a minute, I’d thought he’d deliver me to Lord Ignius. It would be a way for the council to get rid of me.
Suddenly, I regretted how stubborn I’d been during the previous week’s summits. I could have bent on some issues. Like me, Consilium Claris and the other council members only wanted what was best for our realm.
After this situation was behind us and the summits were back in session, I’d bring a more flexible attitude to the meetings.
“Misunderstanding or not, I’ve been wronged.”
More than once I opened my mouth, but no words came out. I looked at Consilium Claris, hoping, praying he would speak up. Would tell Lord Sebastian that he knew this was just some heinous plot and the council would have no part of the farce.
“Lord Sebastian, you are aware of the punishment for taking another’s pleasure slave without permission?”
Lord Sebastian nodded but said no more.
“And you’d see this punishment meted out?” Consilium Claris paused. “You’d see the last of our royal bloodline put to death because of a misunderstanding?”
Lord Sebastian looked at Consilium Claris for a long moment. In that brief span of time, I knew that whatever he said or did, my life would never be the same.
“Consilium, you mistake me. I would never ask for our queen’s beautiful head.”
Consilium Claris clapped his hands and heaved a sigh of relief. “I knew it all along, boy. I knew you’d never to hurt the queen. So the matter is settled. The queen can either provide you with another pleasure slave or the monies to procure another at your discretion.”
Relieved, I waited for the council to conclude the session, but my relief was short-lived. Despite the councilman’s nervous prattle, there was a look on Lord Sebastian’s face that didn’t bode well for me. He held up a hand, silencing Consilium Claris before he could speak again.
“Consilium, I would rather suffer a million wounds than disappoint you, but I don’t want my pleasure slave to be replaced, nor do I want money.”
Consilium Claris turned to look at Lord Sebastian, confusion clear on his face.
“Lord Sebastian, I don’t understand. You said you wouldn’t ask for Lady Rhiannon’s life, yet you won’t accept her recompense. What else could you possibly want?”
Lord Sebastian’s full mouth stretched in what could only be described in the loosest of terms as a smile. The long slits of his pupils dilated until they nearly swallowed the green of his irises. “I want the queen.”
I want the queen.
A roaring sound rushed through my ears as if I had been standing on a deserted shore and was slapped down by an unexpected giant wave. Frozen in place, I couldn’t run. Couldn’t speak. Could do nothing as it crushed me and, in front of the court, the council and a man who had waited more than two centuries for revenge, I humiliated myself by fainting.