Plain Brown Wrapper (C.H.A.S.E. Collection) [MultiFormat]
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eBook by Shelby Morgen
eBook Category: Erotica/BDSM Erotica/Romance
eBook Description: The wrong place. The wrong time. One wrong move could get her killed. Candy Nelson: Candy has wandered into a nightmare -- a slave auction in Southeast Asia. Things like this don't happen -- not in the twenty-first century. She isn't supposed to be here. She needs to get out. Now. But from across the room, a man's eyes meet hers, and Candy knows she'll do whatever it takes... Terry Bradford: Male Escort. Terry needs money, fast. So he answers an ad on the internet. Six thousand euros for a week's vacation in France, all expenses paid, entertaining Lady Elizabeth at her private villa. Sounds like the perfect plan, right? After all, it's just sex. Then he meets a woman in the airport -- a woman who will make him question everything he knows about what is means to be a man. Richard Marten: Ani's stressed. She really needs to forget her asshole boss, Richard. (Candy's asshole ex-husband). She also needs to get laid. (The two dilemmas are soooo not related.) Crystal's got a membership at The Fetish Club. Two girlfriends. One bottle of tequila. And a charity auction... How bad can it get? Crystal wants Ani. Ani wants revenge. Richard has... the Victoria's Secret underwear? Plain Brown Wrapper... Viewer Discretion Advised. This collection contains the three previously released C.H.A.S.E. novellas, All I Want For Christmas, Plain Brown Wrapper, and Welcome to the Fetish Club.
eBook Publisher: Changeling Press LLC, Published: 2009, 2009
Fictionwise Release Date: March 2010
A dilapidated warehouse somewhere in Malaysia
4 Reader Ratings:
"Readers looking for a cute and deliciously entertaining romance with a touch of suspense and tons of sex should pick up All I Want for Christmas." -- Holly Tibbs, Romance Reviews Today "Sensual and extremely erotic, All I Want for Christmas is also achingly sweet and heart-rending." -- Sharyn McGinty, In the Library Reviews Praise for Plain Brown Wrapper "This is an exceptional novella for both the quality of writing and the vivid descriptions of both of the main characters physical and emotional responses. It does have a very strong BDSM sexual theme, but one in which the freedom of response is celebrated. It is an exciting rescue tale with very hot sex, but most of all it was the very vivid way the main characters pulled me into their emotional self-revelation journey throughout the book that pushed it over the edge from merely an extremely good read to an outstanding Silver Star Award." -- Kirra Pierce, Just Erotic Romance Reviews "I recommend this book to anyone looking for a fast-paced, exciting, and steamy adventure with danger on the high seas thrown in..." -- Jenn, Coffee Time Romance Reviews Praise for Welcome to the Fetish Club 4 Stars! "This was definitely a story of self-discovery, for all three characters, and luckily for me, I got to take the journey with them. Wonderfully written, thought out and paced, Shelby Morgen has written a fabulous story of love." -- Stacey Landers, Just Erotic Romance Reviews Read An Excerpt Customer Service: Email form or Phone: (304) 885-4993 Monday-Friday Noon-5PM EST Yahoo! Group The Changeling Bar & Grille Weekly Newsletter Are you missing out? Check out the latest issue and find out how to subscribe! Free Stories Free stories from Changeling Press! All content and artwork is copyright 2004-2010 Changeling Press, LLC and may not be reprinted without permission.
2:45 PM Friday, 17 December 2004
The gavel hung in midair while the auctioneer waited. Nothing. At last the German turned away, his nostrils flaring in anger as he shook his head.
"Sold!" The gavel banged on the rickety wooden podium, echoing through the room. All other sound ceased. "To the lady in the white suit."
Candy finally remembered to breathe. The auction workers brought her purchase to her, and Candy handed over a stack of American dollars.
She turned to face the incredible hunk standing before her.
Good Lord. What had she done?
* * * *
1:15 PM Friday, 17 December 2004
Singapore Changi Airport
Candy ran for the cab pulling up in the loading area, but before she could flag the driver down, he was gone. "I hate Christmas!"
She dropped the handle of her rather unwieldy luggage cart. Predictably, it collapsed, raining suitcases across the sidewalk. She jammed the toe of her black leather pump into the nearest bag. Ouch. Shit. That was stupid.
Lord, she was tired. Airport security was so tight now it had taken her over an hour to get through customs.
She was going to be late.
Candy hated being late.
Goddamnit. She watched yet another taxi drive away. I shouldn't even be here. Any of the junior attorneys could have handled the job, but not even an all-expense-paid trip to Singapore could get anyone else to take an out-of-the-country assignment over the holidays.
Well, she would have been just as alone back in New York. No matter how you looked at it, the holidays sucked.
It wasn't just Christmas. Her birthday fell on December 25th. The worst part was her parents had wanted a Christmas baby. But now they were gone, and there was no one around who would even remember it was her birthday, let alone go out of their way to make the day special for her.
Time, as Richard would say, to move on.
The thought of Richard gave her enough energy to pick up her suitcases and search for a cab.
Funny how Richard and asshole just naturally went together.
She'd bet a hundred dollars it was Richard-the-asshole who'd screwed with her flight schedule. She should have landed last night, just before midnight. Instead she'd ended up on the later flight with a plane change at LAX. Twenty-nine nerve-wracking hours after taking off from BWI she was finally in Singapore. It wasn't even about the money, though he'd probably saved a grand on the tickets. No, it was about keeping her under his thumb.
Screw you, you sanctimonious bastard. I will not miss this auction, damn you.
A cab pulled up to disgorge a touristy looking couple overburdened with packages. "Taxi!" Candy screamed. Jerking hard on the handle of her luggage cart, she raced for the cab, waving madly at the driver. "Taxi!"
This driver actually came around to help her with her bags. Maybe her luck was changing. While the driver piled her luggage into the trunk, Candy poured herself into the back of the cab, ready to pass out. She'd dressed for winter in New York, not the warmth of Singapore. "The Mandarin Oriental, please."
He didn't speak English? Well, that was just great. Lah she was pretty sure meant yes in Malay, but shiok she didn't have a clue about. She held out her confirmation email and pointed to the address.
"Lah," the driver agreed. At least she hoped he was agreeing to take her to the hotel. He wasn't her idea of a hot date. Once he got started, he chattered non-stop, waving his hand at various buildings as they wound their way across town. Blah, blah, blah, blah...
Candy closed her eyes and drew in a deep breath. The light breeze brought the smell of the ocean in with it. The Mandarin Oriental, Singapore, sat right on the bay. She'd have breakfast tomorrow on her balcony, overlooking the Keppel Harbour, in an opulent and exclusive hotel, newly remodeled.
The Mandarin Oriental was one of the few luxuries she permitted herself. After all, it was... appropriate. It fit the corporate image. The concierge knew her by name. There would be stationery in the drawer with her name printed on it. Room service would have a double espresso sent up precisely at 7:00 AM, with the New York Times, delivered in English.
All that luxury came with a price, and Richard-the-asshole was picking up the tab. She reminded herself to order room service more often. Would serve him right if she'd brought along an "assistant" and charged the entire trip for two off to her expense account.
She would have, too, if she had an assistant. But that was his department. Bastard.
The driver pulled to a stop in front of the Mandarin Oriental. Candy gave him a twenty-dollar tip to wait while she checked in. She'd put that on her expense account too. It was Richard's fault she was late.
This was her time now. Visions of crisp silk and aging bisque brought a smile to her lips. She didn't bother to follow her bags up to the suite. They'd be unpacked by the time she returned. If the driver hauled ass and it wasn't too far away she could still make the most important part of the auction -- a dozen late 1800's vintage Bru Bebes, all from the same collection, all pristine, with their original boxes. Too bad she couldn't afford all of them, but even she didn't have that kind of money. At least not on her, in cash. Unless they went very, very reasonably, she'd be doing well to manage one...
The cabdriver shook his head adamantly when she showed him the Web page she'd printed out. "Sotong! No woman! No go! Terok! Ulu, kayu, lah?"
No woman? What the hell did that mean? The auction had started over twenty minutes ago. She didn't have time for this. She waved the printouts at him. "Auction," she explained. She pointed to the picture of a little girl holding an antique china doll. "Auction. Antique auction. This address."
The man shook his head. "No go. Terok, ulu. No woman. No go."
Sweat trickled down her shoulders in an irritating and unbecoming fashion. Candy searched her phrase book impatiently. "Auction," she attempted in Malay. Assuming he spoke Malay. "Where I come from women go to auctions all the time. Alone." She tapped the face of her watch. "I'm late." She held out two more Singapore twenties.
Finally the man snatched the money from her hands, still muttering in a curious mix of Malaysian and broken English as he turned the key in the ignition. Candy smiled smugly as the cab lurched forward with a cough and a sputter.
After all, it was Brasden-Marten's expense account. She was here on company business. The American fifties stowed in her purse were her own, to be spent however she wished, and he couldn't say a thing. Not anymore. Her "ridiculous hobby" was an asset he despised too much to even bother to get appraised.
She tried to focus on the joy of the hunt, the impending victory. Maybe if she closed her eyes, just for a moment while the cab took her across town... Maybe a tiny, short little power nap and she'd regain her equilibrium. Maybe...
* * * *
2:15 PM Friday, 17 December 2004
A dreadful lurch brought Candy back to consciousness. The driver must have hit a pothole. Candy looked around in bewilderment. Gone was the dense mass of glittering high-rise hotels and office buildings. They appeared to be in Chinatown. Which Chinatown she couldn't be sure. This certainly wasn't the modern, beautiful Singapore she knew.
Gaudy red painted dragons adorned the rundown buildings, flashing fierce teeth at her. Glittering gold leaf signs adorned the fronts of tawdry little shops. Street venders waved their products at the windows as the ancient cab crept down the narrow streets. The smells of food steaming in bamboo containers mixed with other, less pleasant smells to give the place an air of the disreputable.
This couldn't be Singapore. Singapore was always spotlessly clean. There were well enforced ordinances against this kind of -- litter.
Wherever they were, she didn't belong here. Candy gripped the edge of the seat, her purse trapped tightly to her side. "No woman!" the cabdriver had tried to warn her.
She should have listened. She never listened. Wasn't that one of the things Richard was always bitching about? What was she doing here? Where the hell was here? Candy fingered the rat-tailed comb she always carried in her purse for protection. It wasn't much of a weapon, but airport security never noticed the hard plastic handle ended in a sharp point.
The driver pulled up behind a long, low hovel of a warehouse, chattering away. She didn't need to speak Malay to know he expected her to follow him, and apparently stay close to his side. That wasn't a problem.
She could do this. She'd flown halfway around the world, primarily to go to this auction. She wasn't going to be held at bay by a rundown old building.
It wasn't as if she were here alone. There were several limousines parked behind the building, a few Mercedes, and even a couple of small vans. By the look of the license plates it would seem this auction had drawn diplomats from around the world.
Surely with that kind of clientele the auction house could have found a building more suitable than a seedy deathtrap in the slums. The place didn't feel right. Unless... She gulped. Unless some of the items had been smuggled in. She should have known these dolls were too rare to be on the market legally. She closed her eyes for a moment, her determination wavering.
No. She hadn't flown halfway around the world to turn back now.
These weren't just any dolls. Twelve -- twelve! -- original 1880's vintage Bru Bebes. One would suffice. She wasn't greedy. Just let her win one. It would be the pinnacle of her collection. Someone was going to buy them. It might as well be her. She would pack it in her carryon luggage. Not one customs agent in a thousand would know what it was. What was it anyway? Just a doll...
The door opened immediately when the driver beat on it with the flat of his hand. Candy followed him in, her grip tight on her hard plastic comb. She found herself in a crowded, smoke filled, dimly lit hall. A dozen men turned to stare at her, their gazes making her skin crawl. She clung to the cabdriver's arm.
As her vision adjusted she focused on the raised platform in the center of the building, set up like a stage. Gradually the noises broke through her trance and the setting began to make sense. Numbers. Men calling out numbers. The gavel banging. Merchandise being offered for sale. All familiar. Yet all terribly, terribly wrong.
Her pulse slammed in her temples like the beat of a bass drum. This was an auction, all right. But they weren't selling antiques.
There were people on the platform. Dozens of people.
Candy just stared. This was the twenty-first century, for the love of God. You couldn't buy people. Things like this didn't happen. Not in her world.
The cabdriver had brought her to the wrong place. She had to leave. Now.
The lawyer in her stayed, rooted in morbid curiosity. If she got out of this alive, she needed to tell someone. Report... Report what? To whom?
Richard called her naive, and for once he might have a point. Things like this probably happened all over the world.
There were men and women and children here. They looked Southeast Asian, much like her cabdriver, and they were all nearly naked. They stood with their eyes downcast, even the children, their expressions vacant. As if no matter what happened to them, it would be no worse than what they'd already lived through.
There had been a time, once, a long time ago, when she'd thought being a lawyer meant helping people. If anyone ever needed her help...
Who was she kidding? She was one woman. One very alone woman in a room full of wealthy, powerful men with enough influence to keep a system like this alive half a century after such things had been outlawed most of the world over. She'd be lucky to get out alive.
What the hell had she gotten herself into?
The men around her quit staring, their attention focusing on the auctioneer's new offering.
Time to go, to get out while the crowd was distracted.
Something pulled her attention back to the stage, rooting her feet in place. Someone was watching her, staring at her. The force of the man's gaze made her skin prickle, like a small electrical shock. Who? Where?
There. In the center of the platform, standing a little apart from the others, his head thrown back in defiance, his eyes scorching holes in her flesh. He had a large tattoo, like an upside-down Y, on his chest. One of those oriental things. A kanji. And the chest under it was smooth and solid and hard, like a wall of muscle. A tentative smile pulled at one side of his mouth as he caught her staring at it.
Oh. My. God. I'll take that one. Wrap him up for me, please.
A wave of pure sexual heat swept over her, stirring a tight, cramping need in her gut. For a moment she thought her knees would buckle under her. He had to be the most gorgeous man she'd ever seen.
Was he flirting with her?
What the hell was he doing here? Was he one of the bidders?
She couldn't see all of him, but he stood with the others, the ones being auctioned, and what she could see of him was nearly naked.
The man didn't exactly blend in. Long, lean, broad-shouldered, narrow-waisted, his body sculptured like a Greek Adonis, skin darkly tanned, he stood nearly a head taller than the other laborers around him. Long, straight, almost black hair hung down well past his shoulders, streaked with gold where it had been lightened by the sun.
The room was so dark and dingy she couldn't be sure what nationality he was, but his height and build assured her he wasn't native to this part of the world.
Wave after wave of hot burning lust, so strong, so visceral it made her body tremble, shot through her. It had been years since a man had stirred her like that.
And all he had done was stare at her from across the room. If he touched her...
He turned now, standing with his head down, his hair thrown over one shoulder, looking up at her from under dark, thick lashes, as if he'd been posed by a photographer. There. Hold that pose. Perfect.
Everything about him screamed sex.
What was she thinking? A man like that? He might be cover model material, but she knew better. He was definitely not her type. She went for men with brains, like Richard.
Yeah. That worked out well, didn't it?
What the hell is wrong with you? What does it matter what he looks like? You're going to get yourself killed. Get the hell out of here while you can.
She wanted to head for the door. That was the sensible thing to do. She tried to turn away, but his eyes held her. Why was he staring at her? She stared back, as if they might form some sort of telepathic link.
God, he was gorgeous.
Maybe gorgeous wasn't the right word. He was lean and hard, rippling with the kind of muscles a man got from demanding physical labor. She'd seen construction workers with bodies like his -- hard-bodied men with hot, knowing eyes that understood just why she was looking.
Not that she'd ever done anything more than look. Naturally she'd never dated someone so -- so inappropriate. No. She stuck with sensible men, men like Richard.
Why did her mind always come back to Richard? The thought of him made her angry enough to do something rash. She spoke little Malay, but she understood money. The bidding seemed to be mixed -- she heard Euros, yen, and dollars so far. As the bidding closed on a smaller Asian man, she realized she could have won him for five thousand yen -- about five hundred dollars.
She chewed her bottom lip. This was crazy.
A man with a cattle prod in his hands shoved her construction worker toward the auctioneer. Candy gasped as he stumbled, disappearing from sight for a moment. Anger flared. Had they hurt him?
He resurfaced, like a drowning man pulling his head above water, immediately scanning the crowd, his eyes searching.
He was looking for her. She could feel the heat of his gaze twist something down deep in her gut, and lower. It had been years since she'd wanted a man this badly.
Their gazes met and locked. He wasn't smiling now. The only reason Candy didn't flee the room like her life depended on her escape -- which for all she knew it might -- was the expression in the man's eyes.
It wasn't raw sexual need she saw there. It was fear.
She was his last hope.
No, mister. Don't look at me like that. I can't save you. I don't save people. Not anymore.
She'd given up on saving the world years ago. Lengthy corporate battles had taught her, it wasn't about what was right. It was about winning.
A large man in a rumpled business suit moved forward to inspect the merchandise before he shouted his bid in a thick German accent. "Four thousand yen."
Candy didn't like the looks of the bidder. He was short and bald and ugly. Two young women stood behind him, their eyes downcast. They were barely more than girls.
She didn't like the way the German grinned when he bid on her giant. His initial bid was too high. She knew that trick. Bid high, then dare the other bidders to go against you. She didn't know whether he could back up the threat in his eyes. Didn't want to know.
This was all wrong. So wrong...
She glanced back toward the platform. Her Adonis still focused on her, as if trying to hold her attention, his expression all too easy to read. He didn't want the German to win, but no one else was bidding. He knew what the German was doing. She read the desperation in his eyes.
Candy didn't want to know what the German would do with his purchases. This wasn't her fight. There were hundreds of reasons not to do something so foolish, she told herself as her hand reached into the air, countering the German's bid. "Five hundred dollars."
"Six thousand yen." The German again. He scowled a warning at her from across the room, his eyes narrowed into two slits. Whoever the hell he was, he obviously thought he could intimidate her, the way he had the other buyers.
Compared to Richard, he didn't know a thing about intimidation. Richard would be furious if he ever found out she'd been in a place like this. She was probably breaking a dozen international laws just being here. "Seven hundred fifty dollars."
"Eight thousand yen." Another, more threatening glare.
The auctioneer pointed at her.
They might not be together anymore, but Richard still expected her to maintain a certain image for the sake of Brasden-Marten. If he found out he would try to force her out of the company. Or have her committed.
"One thousand dollars."
"Eleven thousand yen."
"Twelve hundred dollars."
"Fifteen thousand yen."
"Seventeen hundred fifty dollars."
"Twenty thousand yen." The German's eyes glimmered with rage.
It was a mission of mercy. She had to save this man. The crowd went silent. Candy swallowed hard. It wasn't about the man -- her man -- and she knew it.
It was about the win.
It was about not letting the German have what he wanted.
It was about not letting any man get the better of her ever again.
"Twenty-five hundred dollars." Her voice rang strong and clear, easy to hear above the subdued sounds of a hundred bodies holding their breath.
The gavel hung in midair while the auctioneer waited. Nothing. At last the German turned away, his nostrils flaring in anger as he shook his head.
"Sold!" The gavel banged on the rickety wooden podium, echoing through the room. All other sound ceased. "To the lady in the white dress."