Sold, book #5 in the Phoenix Series, will be published January 19. I thought you might enjoy a little sample from the story now. Since this blog doesn’t have an age filter (and I don’t want it to have one) the excerpt has been edited a little bit.
V – Sold
Athena offers Steele a night of her undivided attention, only to have him startle her with a confession of love. There’s no place for such tender emotions in the dominatrix’s life—just passion and pleasure—or so she thinks until she learns that Steele has chosen to pose as a slave at a rival club’s notorious auction. Athena knows she has to intervene and buy Steele herself, but how much will she risk to ensure his safety? The future of the Phoenix? Her partnership with Rex? Or even herself?
Available January 19
An excerpt from Sold, ©2015 Ella Ardent
It was time for a reward.
For Steele’s reward.
Athena found herself quivering with rare anticipation. The limo rolled through the wet streets of London, the lights blurred through the raindrops. Rafe was silent, understanding perhaps that Athena wished to be alone with her thoughts. She usually did when preparing herself for a seduction. The only sound was the patter of rain on the roof of the limo, the occasional honk of a car horn, the sound of a splashing puddle. She could barely discern the classical music Rafe was playing, the volume set so low she knew it was for his own pleasure.
Athena smiled. Vivaldi. She couldn’t deny him that.
In a way, it was just right.
She hadn’t felt this thrill in a long time, and knew it was because she went to Steele. The mysterious man with the glorious body, the eyes that turned silver when he was excited, the slow smile that set her on fire.
It had been too long.
Her hair was loose on this night, cascading down her back in lustrous red waves. Even Athena thought it looked magnificent. She wore a black velvet corset that pushed her breasts to creamy prominence, tall black boots with her signature spike heels. A sheer dress of purple organza flowed over the corset, her rosy nipples visible above the corset, the flared skirt swirling around her knees. There was a black lining beneath the skirt, a separate slip that could—and would—be removed, and the fluted hem of the dress was bound with black velvet. She felt as if her knees were engulfed with sheer ruffles. Her elbow-length leather gloves were purple, her earrings and choker studded with amethysts in silver. Over it all, she wore a black velvet cloak lined with purple satin. She loved the way the fabric swished softly as she walked.
She’d made him wait, determined to let his anticipation build, but the delay was nearly killing her, too. Athena was accustomed to teaching others to be patient, to tormenting them with delays, but she preferred her own satisfaction to be delivered as promptly as possible.
With Steele, it had to be different. He was in such control of himself, mysterious, inscrutable—sexy as hell. Only his eyes ever hinted at his true feelings and even that was rare. Half-measures wouldn’t get his attention, much less hold it. She had to stretch herself in the hope of satisfying him.
Even so, she felt a tremor of uncertainty.
That was even more rare. It gave her anticipation a little spice.
Athena felt commonality with Steele, because they were both self-reliant and independent, as well as a curious attraction, like opposing forces drawn together against their will. The push-and-pull combination was electric and unique.
They certainly were both attractive and fit, probably a similar age, with a similar confidence. She was frequently drawn to beautiful men—and women, too—but there was something about Steele that left her hungry for more—no matter how many times she had him.
To find herself insatiable for one man’s touch was so uncommon as to demand exploration—and exhaustion. She didn’t like being consumed with thought of one person, and she knew from experience that only satisfying her desire would loose Steele’s hold on her imagination.
The delay had been excruciating. On this night, Athena was ravenous for him. She wanted him in every physical way possible. This would be the night that she’d be sated with Steele. She’d take him until she couldn’t summon another scrap of desire for him, his body or his slow smile.
Then she could forget him and continue on.
She could do without the vulnerability or the distraction of needing him.
It was only a matter of time until mutual fascination faded, until what had been thrilling became mundane, until the eye wandered and new attractions were found. It was only human to do as much, and only reasonable to face the fact of it. Athena preferred to plan for the inevitable. She was sometimes part of a couple, never exclusively so, sometimes part of a larger group, sometimes with men, sometimes with women, sometimes with both. Never monogamous. Never committed. Variety kept the spark alive.
Athena sensed Steele wanted more than she had any interest in giving. He’d had a perfume concocted for her. Evoke. She traveled in a cloud of it on this night, just for him. As much as she loved the scent, the implication of the gift was of concern. In an ideal universe, she would have ignored the gift and him, dismissing him from her life rather than encourage a relationship that could not be.
Was this night’s seduction a bad plan? A dangerous concession? She stared into the night, considering. Still, it was part of her nature to follow her whim, even if it seemed reckless. She would have him. She would make those eyes turn silver, she would make him inhale sharply, she would run her hands over him—she would do whatever she wanted to him.
Then she would leave him, exhausted yet yearning forever for more.
But that would be the end of the fascination for her. It was better this way. To wallow in temptation then cut it loose was the only way to move forward.
Athena always moved forward.
Rafe pulled the limo to a halt in front of an industrial warehouse that had been converted to lofts. The rough brick contrasted well with the gleaming expanses of glass, the Thames flowing darkly on the far side of the building. Athena smiled, liking the architecture. She preferred older buildings, but she could see the allure of this one. It suited Steele. She could envision his home. It would be all space and fine materials, expanses of glass and marble and dark wood. Meticulously organized. Precise and clean. Steele had no tolerance for whimsy or excess. The realization reassured her, as proof that they were too different to go the duration.
“Shall I wait?” Rafe asked as he opened the door and offered his hand. Athena stepped out of the vehicle with practiced grace, appreciating how Rafe immediately lifted an umbrella over her. A few passersby glanced her way, and one whispered to her partner.
Athena ignored them and walked toward the entrance with Rafe. “No,” she said. “I would have you return at dawn.”
“Of course, Countess,” Rafe murmured and Athena glanced his way in surprise.
Why had he called her by that title in this moment? She hadn’t gone by that name for quite a while, and the use of it reminded her of the man who had first trained her. The Count. Since he’d ensured the destruction of The Plume, the club she and Rex had built, the Count had been as good as dead to her.
Rafe, with his mirrored sunglasses, was unreadable.
“I don’t use that title anymore, Rafe,” she said crisply.
“I am sorry, madame. My mistake.”
Had it been? His tone was carefully neutral, but Athena couldn’t help taking his choice of words as a warning.
Once before, she had been smitten with one man, and it had been a mistake.
And Rafe did like to watch.
“Dawn, then,” he said, inclining his head to her once she was in the lobby. Athena thanked him and Rafe went back to the car. She stood watching until the limo’s tail lights disappeared down the street. It was only then that Athena wondered what she would do if Steele wasn’t home.
Or if he didn’t let her in.
Nonsense. Her will would be served. It always was—even with a beautiful enigmatic men like Steele. She pressed the button beside his name and found herself holding her breath, as nervous as a teenager.
As nervous as she had been, once upon a time, when Mr. Rossini, the man who later called himself the Count, had taken her under his private tutelage.
She felt the same mix of excitement and trepidation as she’d felt that long-ago night, too.
Sold will be published on January 19, 2016.