A historical D/s romance set in ancient Rome
“Become my pleasure slave.”
Samara is torn when the handsome Magistrate Marcus offers her a tempting deal to gain her freedom. He’s different from the Patricians she’s met so far, and he’s definitely more charming than her abusive master Aaron. His nearness evokes previously unknown emotions in her, but the idea of sharing his bed is as intimidating as it is thrilling. Can she trust him, or will he turn out to be just as cruel and manipulative as her previous master?
Marcus is fascinated by the beautiful slave with the flaming red hair and the exotic, fair-skinned look. Disguised as the new magistrate, he has to get to the bottom of a conspiracy, before the real magistrate can take office. Hoping to gain valuable information from Samara, he makes her an offer she can’t refuse, unknowing that she’s entangled in a web of lies that not only endanger his mission, but soon also both their lives.
I won’t make it on time. Not today. Panting, Sam raced across the narrow path between the houses.
Despite taking shortcuts through the back alleys, she’d be late. And her master would know that she’d sneaked out again. He wouldn’t care that the festivities for Venus had blocked the streets. She could already see his smug smile. The one he always had when he was about to punish her for disobedience.
Sam clutched the basket tighter against her chest. She raced around the corner and dashed against the hard planes of a man’s chest. Air pushed from her lungs. Strong arms reached for her, trying to keep her from falling, but she crashed into the hot pavement. Pain shot through her back and arms, as gasps rang out around her.
“How dare you, slave!” A male voice snapped from somewhere.
Oh no. No, no, no. Not a free man. Not today. Dizzy, she grabbed her fallen basket and jumped to her feet, while keeping her head bowed. “I’m terribly sorry, Master.”
“Sorry? You clumsy thing, do you have any idea what you almost did?”
Her throat tightened and she sneaked a glance up. The man she’d run into was shielded by another, slightly smaller one, who insisted on yelling at her. Judging by his condescending tone and his uniform, he was a Roman soldier. Which meant she hadn’t run into a normal free man. He was Patrician. Nobility. Crap… Her blood ran cold. “Gods, I didn’t mean…”
She held her breath when the Patrician stepped forward. He was much taller than most men she’d ever seen. His white toga contrasted his tanned skin. Dark eyes captured hers and the sparkle in them froze her in place. Relentless dominance and honest concern. What a confusing combination. Confusing and hypnotizing.
“Lower your gaze, wench.” Next to her, the soldier snapped his hand to the whip clipped to his belt. “I shall teach you respect.”
Still light-headed, she forced her gaze down and dropped to her knees. What was wrong with her to stare at a Patrician like that? “My apologies, Master. I meant no disrespect.”
“I’ll teach you to—”
“Soldier.” Confidence layered through the deep baritone of the man who interrupted him. “It’s enough.”
“But, magistrate—” the soldier began.
“It was an accident, not an attack. Let’s all go our separate ways without ruining this beautiful day.”
Sam closed her eyes. The magistrate. Of all people, she had to disrespect the new provincial administrator sent to their little town by the Roman senate.
Warm hands grabbed her arms and pulled her to her feet with surprising ease. She tightened her hands around the edge of the basket and kept her head down, until his fingers tipped her chin up. Once more, the magistrate’s gaze found hers and increased her awareness of the warm palm on her arm. “Are you all right?”
His eyes were the deepest chestnut brown she’d ever seen. Heat buzzed across her skin from where he was touching her. What an odd feeling. “Y-yes, master… magistrate… Your highness.”
“Sir will suffice.” He studied her face with an indefinable expression. She twitched when his fingers wiped something off her cheek. Probably some dirt from the pavement. “What’s your name?”
“Samara, Sir.” Some of the tension left her muscles.
“Are you hurt?”
She shook her head. “No, Sir… My apologies for the disrespect, Sir.”
“Who do you belong to?”
Belong to. How she’d always hated that phrasing. She lowered her gaze. “The owner of the Wild Rose.”
The soldier standing next to the magistrate leaned in and whispered something in his ear. The magistrate raised his eyebrows at her. “Oh.”
It didn’t take wit to guess what the soldier had said. How much she hated people’s preconceptions.
She shook her head. “I’m not…” A pleasure girl. A prostitute. What an indecent way to talk to royalty. She lifted the empty basket with a helpless smile. “I provide superficial entertainment in the pleasure house, Sir. And I sell flowers at the market.”
He scrutinized her with that indefinable look again, and then motioned to her empty basket. “You’ve had a good day.”
“Yes, Sir. Festivals inspire people to buy flowers.” Which reminded her, Master Aaron wanted to open the Wild Rose early today due to the festivities for Venus. And she was still late.
She swallowed hard. “I have to go, Sir.”
“You did seem in a bit of a hurry when you ran into me.” The magistrate’s eyes gleamed and he gave her a lopsided smile.
She masked her confusion at his casual behavior by returning it. Even being new in town, he had to know that for someone of his rank conversing with her, a person of low standing, was outrageous. At least in public. Nobody would bat an eye if he visited the Wild Rose.
Or… Were they trying to bait her into disrespectful behavior, so they could publicly humiliate her? Bowing down, she took a few steps backward. “Good day, Sir.”
“You too. Samara.” Something about the way he drawled her name fascinated her. She sneaked a last confused glance at him before she turned and hurried on. What on Earth had that been about? As if she didn’t have plenty of other problems to worry about.
The pavement scalded her feet as she raced up the hill to the large property at the end of the road. The Wild Rose. With its white stonewalls and marbled columns next to the entrance, it looked more like a palace than a brothel. And it certainly stood out in a town as small as Olbia. Everybody knew what kinds of services it provided.
The entrance gate opened with a metal squeak when she pushed against it. She hurried through the grass around the building to the side entrance. Maybe she was lucky, and nobody had noticed her absence.
When she entered her small bed chamber, her heart plummeted. No such luck today.
Master Aaron sat at the foot of her bed, pinning her with a menacing stare. “Look who’s back.”
Judging by his glare and body language, sass would be a bad idea. She lowered her gaze. “I’m sorry, Master. I had to visit the pharmacist and the festivities on Main Street held me up.”
“Pitiful excuses.” He jumped up and stalked around her. “You know you’re not allowed to leave the building without my permission.”
“Yes, Master.” She closed her eyes. Didn’t look like he was going to let her out of punishment today. Something must have already ruined his mood. Hopefully her subservient demeanor soothed most of his anger, and would protect her from—
His open palm struck her across the face. The ground raced toward her, and pain flamed through her side as she hit the stone floor. She gritted her teeth against an outcry when he pulled her up. “As long as I am feeding you, you’ll follow my orders. Get on the bed!”
Her fingers touched her burning cheek while she crossed the room. No blood, but judging from the sting, it would bruise.
She crawled onto the mattress. She’d learned long ago that if she complied, it would be over faster and not give him an excuse to be too rough. She clutched the bed sheets and remained still when the mattress shifted from his weight. His callous hands shoved her dress up her legs.
Coins chinked as they fell from her pockets to the bed. He reached down and picked them up. “Pharmacy, you say? Where do these come from then?”
When she didn’t respond, he grabbed her hair and yanked her head back. “Don’t take me for a fool, Samara.” His damp breath fanned her cheek.
Her breath hitched and she closed her eyes when she felt him fumble with his pants.
He pressed a moist kiss to her neck. “I’m gonna keep the money as payment for the trouble you caused today.”
Wasn’t using her body payment enough for that? The law gave her the right to earn money so she could buy herself out of slavery. But Aaron had never respected the law, so it was foolish to make that point. She clenched her jaw. “As you wish, Master.”
The seam of her dress ripped as he tore it up further. She hated the sound, but more than that she hated his damp hands bruising her skin, touching everywhere, taking what was legally his.
He thrust into her, relentlessly and without giving her time to adjust. She pressed her face into the sheets and whimpered at the discomfort.
Tensing would only make it worse. She squeezed her eyes shut and forced herself to stay relaxed. Just a moment, and her body would create enough lubrication to make it bearable. Usually he gave her more time to adjust, but today he began thrusting right away.
She let her mind drift off to other places. Places she’d visit someday when she wasn’t bound to a contract she had had no say over.
Above her, Master Aaron’s pace quickened, and he grunted his pleasure. When he finished, he pressed a sloppy kiss to her neck. “I enjoy these little sessions with you, Samara. Don’t you?”
“Not particularly, Master.”
He threaded his hand through her hair. A disgusting mix of sweat and the cheap perfume oil he used invaded her nostrils. “Don’t be like that now, precious. If you stopped being so defiant, you’d enjoy yourself.”
“Yes, Master,” she ground out. When he pulled out of her she released her breath. Warmth dripped down her thighs, but she resisted the urge to clean herself. He’d only wallow in satisfaction if she did that while he watched.
“Clean up and change into something decent. You’ll serve food in the main hall tonight,” he said, lacing up his pants.
Arms and legs trembling, she rose to her feet. He let his gaze roam over her body, and the corners of his mouth pulled up in a condescending smile. “And cover that bruise on your cheek with powder so it won’t scare the customers away.”
If you care so much about the customers, maybe you shouldn’t hit your slaves. One day she’d throw that line—and worse—in his face. One day, when she wasn’t legally his, and he didn’t have the right to kill her where she stood. “Yes, Master.”
He grabbed her chin and forced his mouth onto hers. She remained frozen as his tongue thrust inside. He knew how much she hated having to taste him. “You’re such a sweet fuck. I’d make a fortune off you if I let customers have you.”
Stomach knotted, she searched his face with wide eyes. Up to now, she’d been able to keep his interest, which had prevented him from renting her out to customers like he did with the other girls. But what if that changed?
His thumb brushed her lower lip. “Maybe you should remember that other men wouldn’t be as lenient with you. I like having you for myself, but that may change if you keep up the attitude.”
She let out a long breath. As bad as having to deal with him was, having to sleep with several different men every night would be a turn for the worse. “I aim to please, Master.”
“That’s a good girl. Go take a bath. Don’t be late again.”
“No, Master. It won’t happen again.”
Hands folded behind his back, he left the room and closed the curtains.
Sam waited a few more moments before she let herself sink to the cold marble floor. A sob of anger shook her chest and she pressed her hands against her throbbing abdomen. Damn it, she wouldn’t cry. She despised him. Hated how he treated her, and that he claimed her body whenever he pleased.
She hurried over to a copper bowl that stood on a small side table in front of a mirror. After she’d splashed some water on her face, she took a sip from her curled palm.
When her gaze lifted to the mirror, she paused and straightened. Dirt covered her face. Red marked her cheek where Master Aaron had hit her. But even all those marks couldn’t mask her fair skin, the halo of amber hair around her head and her deep blue eyes. One in a million… Master Aaron had once called her that. A curse. If only she’d had brown hair and a tan like most Roman women.
Eyes closed, she leaned her face against the cold glass surface. The stickiness between her legs made it impossible to forget his possession. She hit the mirror with her fist.
One in a million. If only she weren’t.
She lowered her gaze to her torn dress. No chance of repairing the damage, which meant another dress was gone. She pulled it over her head. A tinkling sound caught her attention and she reached into the hidden pocket of the skirt. A few of the coins she’d earned today were still in it.
Coins clutched in her hand, she hurried to the wall next to her bed and pulled out a loose brick. She reached inside and felt for her satin pouch. Weighing it in her hand, she dropped the remaining four brass coins in with the rest.
Still a long way to go, but someday she’d have enough money to buy herself out of the contract and become a free woman.
The heavy wooden door slammed shut behind Marcus as he strode across his office. What a day. Visiting local nobility as their new magistrate all day was an ungrateful job, especially when most of them were pompous asses.
He plopped onto the chair at his large wooden desk and played with the dried-up quill lying on an expensive sheet of papyrus. How on Earth was he supposed to complete his mission here?
He pressed his palms against his eyes. What he wouldn’t give for a cool bath. But he still had scrolls to read through before he could leave. Too bad the estate they’d set him up with was only temporary. He could get used to a lifestyle where his day ended in having a refreshing bath with a servant scrubbing his back.
His mind drifted back to what had happened in the alley today. That slave girl… Jupiter, what a beautiful woman. She hadn’t been afraid to look directly into his eyes—which was quite unusual for a slave and rather defiant. And at the same time, she had bowed and backed down, and used proper honorifics, which indicated subservience rather than a rebellious character. What an intriguing combination.
Her looks were too exotic, too Northern for classic Roman beauty standards which valued curly, long hair and a lush body—but her natural radiance had something irresistible to it. Her shorter hair had shimmered like fire in the sun. And what a smile. As though the sun rose in her face. She couldn’t be older than twenty.
Something about her stirred a faint memory. Hadn’t he met her before?
He groaned. For crying out loud, he had other problems to take care of. The last magistrate had been murdered because he’d taken his job too lightly.
If he wanted to avoid sharing that fate, he had to find out who was responsible for the murder. And he had an idea already. The local crime syndicate operated the smuggling ring in this town, and if his information was accurate, they were also involved in piracy, kidnapping, murder and other crimes that would get them publicly executed at the amphitheater. If one wanted to murder a magistrate, they were the best way to achieve that.
Marcus reached for the amphora of wine and poured some into a chalice. After he’d taken a sip, he flinched, and set the chalice back down. Disgusting. He’d never get used to these fancy wines. Their combination of sweetness and alcohol made his stomach turn. What he wouldn’t give for a good strong mug of beer.
Maybe he could ask one of the slaves to get him one. Or…
He straightened. Maybe they had beer at the Wild Rose.
According to the last report by the magistrate before he was murdered, the owner of the Wild Rose was the suspected mastermind behind the crime syndicate. All he needed was proof to arrest the guy. As a brothel owner, he had access to the most influential men who spend their evenings getting drunk and living out their desires on strange women.
Among Patricians, manners dictated that a man should never satisfy his lust on his wife. That‘s what slaves and prostitutes were for. And all that based on the assumption that women were doomed to mere endurance without enjoyment.
He knew better. Nothing compared to witnessing the sexual release of a beautiful woman. Most of these men were just too focused on their own desires.
The image of the red-haired slave forced itself into his thoughts once more. What touches would she respond to? And what sounds would she make when she found release?
He closed his eyes. Taking her to bed to find out was out of the question. As a slave, she would merely follow an order instead of her desire. He preferred women who came to his bed willingly.
Still, if the little redhead worked there, maybe she could help him. He’d have to investigate the place anyway. He might as well pay a visit tonight.
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