Mastered by a Wolf
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by Belladonna Bordeaux
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Romance
Description: Eliza Dogood is a half-fae-maid coming into maturity and suffering all the growing pangs caused by this life-altering time. The one aspect she's finding harder and harder to cope with are the lurid fantasies. It's not uncommon for her kind, but having put herself on the shelf, Eliza faces a lonely future with only her naughty dreams to keep her warm at night. Until she meets him. William Cope has never considered how a life-mate might affect his solitary werewolf life. He's about to find out. Eliza is the perfect woman for him. Not only is she gorgeous, she's a willing slave too. A single caveat has put the brakes on their mating. Eliza is fae. His bite will destroy her.
eBook Publisher: Atlantic Bridge/Liquid Silver Books, 2011
eBookwise Release Date: August 2011
10 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [123 KB]
Reading time: 73-103 min.
The best laid plans of mice and lady.
Tuesday, February 10, 1814
"But Papa, I'm bored to tears."
Eliza Dogood listened to her sister whine. The hideous sound of Constance's shriek raked long, irritating furrows of frustration into Eliza's normally steady demeanor. She was about to turn around and tell the classic beauty to cease her whining when her father stormed in.
Eliza bowed her head. Taking her seat near the fireplace, she kept her focus on her quickly snatched-up embroidery. Uh-oh.
"Please, Papa. 'Tis but a short walk to the printer," Constance wailed. The noise was nearly as infuriating as her never-ending tantrums. "'Twould be easier if my fae powers had come to pass. I could be there in a flash." She snapped her fingers.
"Keep your voice down," Daniel Dogood reprimanded in a harsh tone. "'Twill do you no good to wish for what is years off. 'Twon't make it happen sooner either. You will reach your maturity when you do."
Eliza kept her head bent. Peeking at her sister, she wondered what 'twould be like to teleport from here to there, probably the only fae power either of them would inherit from their father, but not even she had reached her fae maturity.
Very, very soon.
The vivid and lurid sexual fantasies all fae suffered were coming with greater frequency. There were nights she'd wake desperately needing a man to satisfy her primal appetite--a sure symptom of her coming maturity.
The tingles skittering up her arms forewarned she'd soon be able to teleport. Her empathic abilities were growing by leaps and bounds but she'd never be able to read thoughts like her full-blooded father.
The screech pulled Eliza from her thoughts.
"Nay, Constance," Papa reiterated.
Another shriek rent the air causing Eliza to stiffen. She'd rather listen to a rusty sword honed on a dry stone than Constance's caterwauling. Through the veil of her lashes, Eliza watched big, fat, pity-me tears waver in Constance's cerulean-blue eyes. "Papa, I promised Robert that this year I'd send him a Valentine. At this late date, I'll need to send it to him by rider."
A furious scowl marred her father's brow. "Constance, the weather doesn't allow for it."
Steering her gaze to the window, Eliza bit her lip as she watched fluffy flakes of snow fall to the ground.
Aye, the weather was more than foul. 'Twas cripplingly cold and snow trapped many inside their homes. The few who walked the streets were nigh destitute. They only had but one choice: to beg for a pittance, crust of bread or a dried apple. She imagined a street urchin huddled in a doorway while the snow rushed down on him. A cold chill skittered up her spine.
A pang of pity hit Eliza hard in the chest when Constance began to whine about how unfair her life was. "Constance, please," Eliza finally entered the conversation. "We should count our blessings that we don't have to go out in the storm at all." Memories of their last outing to the Frost Fair had Eliza biting her lower lip. The stalls had been packed with patrons, but around every corner were beggars. The trip to the Thames only brought home how dire the situation was for many a Londoner.
"This does not concern you, Eliza," Constance snapped back.
"Constance, cease your nonsense." Papa slapped his hands together with a sharp crack. "There'll be no more talk about valentines and traipsing five blocks to the printers." He leveled his brown stare on his youngest daughter. "Is that understood?"
"Aye," Constance muttered.
Eliza saw rebellion brewing in her sister's gaze. The set of her pouting mouth said that Constance was not about to give up the battle to get what she wanted. "Why don't you write Robert a letter?" Eliza offered. "I have some stationary left." Aye, but a few sheets, but if it stops this nonsense, 'tis well worth the loss.
"'Tis not the same." Constance stood and marched to the window. "See, 'tis hardly snowing now."
Eliza craned her neck to peer around her sister's shawl-clad shoulders. "Really?" Regretting the cynical note seeping into her words, Eliza immediately turned her attention to her embroidery. She'd barely placed two more stitches in the altar cloth she'd been working on since before the Christmas season when Constance began stomping around the upstairs sitting room.
Eliza frowned when her sister opened her change purse and counted out the few coins she'd saved from Christmas. "What are you planning to do?"
"I'm planning on walking to the printer."
Oh, no. Forcing calm to the fore, Eliza set the bent willow hoop aside. More than familiar with the expression gracing her sister's face, she licked her suddenly dry lips. Make her think, she ordered herself firmly. "You think he's even open?"
"He lives above his shop. If I have to I'll scream down the rafters to get him to open for me."
Her heart rate blasted in her ears. "I highly doubt he'll be able to hear you over the howl of the wind." Eliza folded her hands in her lap to keep from grabbing Constance and shoving her in the closest room with a lock on the door. "Please, Constance, 'tis not worth frostbite for a piece of paper."
"Bah, we know I'll heal. The only gift I have thus far." She gave an indelicate snort. "As to the valentine, 'tis worth meeting a Strigoi to me."
"Shh." Eliza's throat grew tight when she considered meeting one of their enemies on the street. The half-shifter, half-wielders were naught to be trifled with. "The servants."
"Pish posh." Constance walked to the doorway. "You wouldn't understand aught about love, Eliza. You've put yourself on the shelf."
Not by choice. A clog of emotion gathered in Eliza's throat as she recalled reading the missive from her future father-by-marriage informing her in cold, brutal terms that her affianced had been killed in battle. A tear formed in the corner of her eye, but she blinked it away. It did no good for her to pine over a man gone to the grave or the loss of her silly, naive dreams.
Their widowed Papa had tried to console her, to tell her she was young and there were many more fine men out there who'd fall over themselves to call her their wife but to no avail. There was no hope left for her once she looked at all the facts.
Already of nearly a spinster's age and with her change coming, there wasn't time to ease a suitor into her fae nature. In other words, there wasn't time to convince a mortal she didn't pose a threat to him. A paranormal might suit her, but, being a half-caste put her extremely low in the eyes of the paranormal Ton. That same half-caste nature made her an easy target for a vampire. On that side, there was too much risk to her. So Eliza had done the honorable thing and stepped aside so Constance could marry. Over eighteen months ago, she'd come to terms with her lonely future. She'd entered her period of mourning for her fiance and was yet to let off wearing black. Not because she hadn't fulfilled proprieties' requisites, but because she had no chance of gaining the interest of another man, landed or not.
"I'll be back before anyone notices I've left."
"Constance, this is foolhardy."
"Not giving my beloved a valentine would be far worse than foolish. I need Robert to know he owns my heart."
Aye, this season he owns your heart, but what of the next? "Wait at least until tomorrow. If the storm has passed, I'll walk with you."
"'Tis too close to Valentine's day on the morrow, you silly goose. 'Twill be twice as difficult to find a courier, and close to impossible for a rider to make the distance with speed."
"Aye, but with the snow blowing today, 'tis unlikely you'll find a man who would ride north for you." Eliza almost pointed out that Constance had not even received a note from her 'dearest' Robert since his family had traveled to their country estate for the wintertime. What's the use in reminding her of the obvious? she thought. No use. 'Twas the same if she engaged her sister in an argument. Constance was hell-bent to do exactly as she wanted. Even if they did toss heated words at the other all it would do was delay the inevitable. "If you aren't home within two hours time, I'm telling Papa what you've done. He'll be snarling mad, but at least if you are stuck in the snow it won't be so long we can't rally a search party to come rescue you."
Constance waved away the caveat with a flourish that came from years of never being told no. "Fine. That's more than generous." Constance hurried to Eliza and hugged her. "Thank you."
Eliza wondered for what. Still, she returned the embrace. Beneath her fingers, she felt Constance tremble slightly. Taking that to mean the young debutant wasn't fully invested in her plan, Eliza repeated her warning. "Don't forget what I said. Two hours, not a minute more."
"Pish-posh. I'll be home before the bell tolls one o'clock." With that said, Constance rushed from the room.
Biting her lip, Eliza bowed her head and prayed either her father or a servant would stop Constance before she made it out the front door.
Rising, she walked to the window to peer out at the lawn situated at the rear of their London townhouse. A thick blanket of white covered what she knew were neatly-trimmed boxwood hedges. She could just make out the slight dip where the edge of the paver pathway met the lawn. Her gaze steered to the gray clouds overhead. "Oh, bother," she muttered. The ethereal light cast off by the falling snow nearly blinded her.
For a split second she considered telling on Constance. Pulling her shawl closer around her, she nibbled on her lower lip.
I should go with her. The thought came from nowhere. No. What would happen to us if we lost our way and there was naught to sound the alarm?
Eliza turned her head to the clock ticking slowly on the mantel. Quarter past noon. "Two hours, Constance. Not a minute more."
"Constance!" Eliza screamed, not caring if she sounded low class. Her sister was missing. Along with her father and two of the household servants, they'd begun the search for her sister at exactly sixteen minutes past two in the afternoon. "Constance Dogood, can you hear me?"
The few people they happened across were asked if they'd seen Constance. All shook their heads before forging forward into the storm. Eliza was glad that currently the wind was at their backs. The freezing pellets of sleet hit her heavy woolen cloak with its ermine-lined hood with small taps. She wouldn't appreciate the return trip when the wind would blow straight into her face, but she had to try to find Constance.
Around her, other people shouted for Constance. Their voices muffled by the scarves covering their mouths and the howling wind. "This is it. The printer," Eliza called to the others. Waving her mitten-clad hand in the air, she waited until the members of the search party stood with her at the storefront.
She laid all her hopes and prayers in Constance having made it to the establishment, but because of the weather she was convinced to or forced to wait out the storm with the proprietor.
"Doesn't appear aught are about, Miss Eliza," Horace, the family butler, announced.
Turning her head toward the kindly, old man, Eliza nodded. She cringed against the snow and ice pelting her face. "Papa, can you knock? My hands are near frozen." So were her toes.
She watched as Papa raised his hand and rapped hard on the door. Brushing the snow from the window, Eliza regretted licking her lips as she waited for shop keeper or his wife to come into the shop from the flat above-stairs. The stinging wind ravaged her already chapped lips.
Shivering, she waited and waited. The servants around her began to grumble. "I know someone is here," she whispered. Please, let somebody be here. Please, let them find it in their heart to let us in. If naught else, they could harbor in the store until her father could come up with a plan as to how to find Constance.
"Thanks be to God," she said on a shallow breath when a flicker of candle light shone against the yellowing walls. Her teeth chattered so hard her jaw hurt. Her body ached from trudging through ten inches of snow.
"By Gor, will you look at him," Amy, the upstairs maid, shouted. Eliza caught the young woman's hands before she signed the cross.
A wild wind ripped across them. Amy started to fall. Eliza grabbed for anything to keep her upright. A vicious curse sounded from someone and combined with Amy's scream for help.
Eliza took a few stumbling steps to the side and nearly collided with the man opening the shop door. Her arms wind-milled and she fought to keep her balance. "Oh, no," she cried as her feet slid out from beneath her. She slammed her eyelids closed tight, praying she wouldn't fall on Amy.
Saved from landing on the cobblestone street or her maid by strong hands, Eliza dared to peek at her rescuer. By Gor is right. The man gripping her upper arms was too handsome for words. "Thank you..." she managed to say. Her teeth clacked together as chills shook through her.
She bowed her head away when another gust of frigid wind stung her cheeks.
"What do you want?" her savior asked. He pulled her inside the shop and released her without a second glance.
The scent of paper, ink and something totally masculine filled her nostrils. She wondered what it would feel like to curl up next to him. Her fae nature came barreling forward full force to smack her into reality. Not now.
Her brain wouldn't let off its lurid thoughts. To have his body heat thaw out her chilled-to-the-bone frame was more than her innocent sensibilities could handle. She imagined him kissing her--touching her. Enough. "My...my...sister..." Eliza couldn't form a cognizant thought when his tawny-colored gaze met hers and locked.
"Forgive my daughter, sir," Papa's voice sounded strained. "Her sister, my youngest child, foolishly went out in the storm. She was coming here to purchase a valentine."
"Aye, Constance Dogood. She's above-stairs with my parents." The man waved the rest of them inside.
Eliza didn't appreciate the glare the man sent her father, but considering outward appearances, she could understand, even sympathize with how the travesty seemed. "Constance is very stubborn." Another violent shiver raced the length of her spine. She pushed her snow-encrusted hood back.
He shook his head and strode for a coat-tree situated in the corner of the room. Mouth agape, Eliza watched him pluck an enormous coat from the wood peg and carry it to her. Again, her mind pictured him holding her with his massive hands. Her knees buckled slightly when he draped the cloak across her shoulders.
"That is more than apparent, Miss Dogood."
"Beg pardon?" Lord, I'm befuddled. The thoroughly tantalizing scent coming from the coat was the cause of her confusion. She tilted her head into the soft wool and breathed deeply. It smelled like pine trees, sandalwood and manliness.
"That your sister is stubborn. She's damn lucky she didn't lose her life from exposure."
As if that's possible. Eliza wanted to get angry at him for his bluntness, but couldn't muster the energy to feel aught but intense lust and gratitude for the man and his family. "Thank you for sheltering her here."
"As will you stay, Miss Dogood. 'Tis unconscionable to even a common man such as myself to allow you to trek back to wherever it is you reside in this storm." He picked up the candle from where he'd set it and motioned with an arrogant tilt of his head for the troupe to climb the stairs. "'Twill be close quarters, but I'm sure we'll make do."
"Sir, I couldn't think of imposing on your hospitality," Eliza said, her words shivering. "'Tis not far." Her father's dubious expression made her purse her lips. He was silently telling her not to irritate the man.
"You will do as you are told, Miss Dogood," the man countered smoothly.
"Thank you, Mister..."
"Cope," he stated. He closed the door and with a flick of his wrist he turned the lock. "William Cope."
"Thank you, Mister Cope." Eliza followed after Amy up the narrow staircase. Her father and Horace led the way.
"Don't thank me yet, Miss Dogood," he whispered, his hot breath on her neck raising gooseflesh on her arms. A delicious tingle tripped up her thighs to tease her core. "Like I said, 'twill be close quarters."
Eliza craned her head to stare at him. She nodded and returned her attention to the rivulets of melting snow tracing long paths down Amy's cloak. Her mitten-covered hand brushed against the railing as she continued her ascent. In the back of her mind she wondered at the tone he'd used in his simple statement. Was there a hint of illicit invitation in his voice?
For the first time since she'd received the news that her fiance was dead, she wished she hadn't put herself on the shelf. In all honesty, she wished she'd met Mr. Cope sooner. A new image flitted through her mind's eye. Mr. Cope thrusting into her. Holding her as she found her release.
The recollection of gifting Geoffrey with her virginity right before he'd gone off to battle put a damper on her sudden lust. Still, she couldn't imagine Mr. Cope fumbling about in the back of a carriage, practically ripping her knickers from her and then after a few pitiful gropes sliding into her two or three times before he found his satisfaction.
Her fae side wanted more than a short tussle. It wanted so much more.
Her few married friends had laughed at her embarrassment when she finally confessed her sin. Two of them stated Geoffrey was merely nervous and assured her once they married, the marriage act would be nice--very nice. But they weren't fae. They didn't understand how important mating was to her kind, even those who were half-caste.
Pondering how nice 'twould be with William Cope, Eliza felt a fiery blush creep up her cheeks.
Silly goose, she silently berated herself. A man such as Mr. Cope surely has a wife or fiancee tucked away somewhere.
More's the pity.