Given to The Grimm Order as an infant, Fawn was raised in a world shaped by the rich and powerful. When she was sold at the age of nine to a Suitor, Fawn believed he would protect her from the “Mainworld”, where those who know nothing about the Order live. Living with the cruel man who bought her freedom, she finds just what the Order is about: money, control, and status for the Owner and humiliation and abuse for those they own.
Unwilling to accept the expectations of being Owned, Fawn goes from golden girl to maid, content to live in the shadows of the Order as long as she isn’t Owned again.
It’s been ten years since she disgraced her former Owner’s name, and now the brooding Frenchman Elliot Lyon wants her. Master Lyon is kind, smart, and unlike any man she’s met. She doesn’t want to admit it to herself, but Fawn is drawn to him despite constantly planning her next escape.
Even the prettiest flowers have thorns, and Master Lyon is hiding secrets that will uproot everything she thinks she knows about him.
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I didn't allow myself dreams. They were unrealistic and unfair. Cruel. There was enough cruelty in my life; I didn't need to inflict it upon myself. It was difficult at first, telling my brain to shut off so completely that even when I wasn't in control of it I could rely on the images within to be shrouded in black. They say everyone dreams and they just don't remember. I don't think my mind is capable of conjuring up images—nightmares or pleasant dreams. Not anymore. Reality was a nightmare. Dreams didn't come true. Once you knew that things couldn't get any better and that things were and will be the scariest you could ever experience, the imagination simply died. So instead of dreaming, I planned.
“Fawn,” he said suddenly, his voice soft but still making me jump in my seat. “Were they out of flower names?” he asked, a smile in his voice.
He let on that he knew about the inner-workings of the actual Compound more than my last Owner. Then again, my last one only cared about one thing. He didn't play these mind games this guy seemed to like.
Master Lyon sighed, convinced I wouldn't answer, but for some reason I couldn't keep my mouth shut.
“I was one of the originals at the California Compound.” I hesitated almost too long before I brought my eyes back to his face. He was staring, waiting for me to say more. “We all had animal names,” I said, trying and failing to hide the disgust in my voice.
“Fawn,” he said. “With those eyes?”
I blinked, wondering what he meant.
“They’re so large and expressive,” he explained. “You’re more of a Doe to me.”
So this would be my new name? Not Dog or Whore, but Doe?
He smiled like I’d said something funny but I wasn't joking. “Do you not like it?”
I didn't know why he cared if I did or did not like something. It shouldn't matter to him. I didn't like any of this and it was obvious. He was asking to toy with me, get me to talk. I was done talking. I bit the inside of my cheek to keep the words from spilling out
I felt that I should say something but the only thing that came out was, “I’m sorry I bit you, sir.” I willed myself to look up at him as he continued to rub the cream into my tender flesh, concentrating on the task in front of him.
“No, you aren’t,” he said matter-of-factly. “You’re sorry you were punished—that you had to be corrected.” A grin pulled at his lips. “I think you quite enjoyed biting me, drawing my blood.”
“When we go downstairs, it’s important you obey me.”
“I thought it was always important I obey you, sir,” I countered.
He sighed, ignoring my comment. “That’s enough talking for now.” There was an edge to his voice. “You will not speak until I say otherwise. Do you understand?”
I was about to answer but thought better of it and only nodded.
“And you must obey me—do as I say. Understood?”
I nodded again.
He stared directly into my eyes as he moved closer; I had to force myself to stand my ground and not inch away. “If you do not choose to obey,” he said in a calm, even tone, “the next punishment will prevent you from walking for a week.” He backed away so we were a small distance apart again. “Is that understood?”
Ice clinked in his glass as he took another gulp and then set it back down. “He wasn’t supposed to touch you,” he finally said.
I knew it was impossible, but it sounded almost as if he was apologizing. Angered by his audacity—that he thought I would buy one word he refused to say—I couldn’t bite my tongue. “Why does it matter?”
My tone was ice; I had to wrap my arms around myself again.
I heard him inhale, but he still didn’t face me. “Of course it matters.” The edge to his voice sounded as appalled as I had felt the moment he’d tied my hands behind my back and made me even more helpless than I already was.
Anger flared in me even brighter. “Why should it?” I asked. “I’m only here for what men like that want to do with me. He’s just more honest about his intentions than some.” I wanted to sew my mouth shut. No one ever spoke to their Owner in such a way. I knew better, yet I couldn’t stop the truth from spewing out of my mouth. I squeezed my eyes shut, waiting for the impact of his open palm across my cheek, still damp from the condensation on his glass, but it didn’t come.
He casually took another drink of amber liquid, leaving just enough remaining in case he decided he wanted more. “Dry off.”
Nikki Rae is an independent author who lives in New Jersey. She explores human nature through fiction, concentrating on making the imaginary as real as possible. Her genres of choice are mainly dark, scary, romantic tales, but she’ll try anything once. When she is not writing, reading, or thinking, you can find her spending time with animals, drawing in a quiet corner, or studying people. Closely.
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