A cell phone ringing in the middle of the night was nothing new for Jack Temple. He woke and answered it in a haze that quickly lifted though it was five in the morning. Adrenaline took over as Jack listened then ended the call with Mr. Raider, his boss. The man was to the point, as always, and the new assignment wasn't one to be accepted or rejected. It had to be done immediately; Jack and his brother, Zach, were the only ones for it.
Not that Jack wanted to reject a case with the gorgeous Denise Edington. Zach might not see it the same way, but the brothers didn't always take the same view. It made them a good team in many ways.
Jack walked across the hall to his brother's room and knocked. Opening the door, Jack ducked. Zach was a grumpy sleeper. A shoe flew over Jack's head. They were fraternal twins on different ends of the spectrum in personality, but both proved excellent bodyguards.
"What?" Zach growled.
Jack flopped on the bed. "We've got a job. Guess who?"
"Who cares? It's a job. I'll get ready. Time for breakfast?" Zach asked.
"No. It's local, but we need to relieve a team at six. You want to know who it is." Jack grinned. As different as they were, they agreed on the big things including women. Not many would understand their connection, but Denise might. She was the one who'd gotten away and unique in her own right. Not many women wanted to get away from them. It only made the brothers want her more.
"Then who is it?" Zach clutched his pillow.
Zach's head lifted. "What the hell? Why? She didn't fall in with another asshole Master wanna be, did she?"
"No, the old one got out of jail. Carl is a free man."
Zach opened his eyes fully. "Out? He broke out or they let him go?" He rolled from bed and stretched.
"The system worked the wrong way. Some high-priced lawyers found a technicality and a judge who bought it. So he's out. Denise's filthy rich uncle is all over Raider's and he pays enough to keep the company on retainer to protect his family. Denise is just scared." Jack wanted to throw on jeans and go now. He'd never even kissed Denise, but he and Zach both knew she was supposed to be theirs. She had a Raider team with her right now, setting up a perimeter to watch the house from outside as well. No chances were taken when it came to Carl.
"Why us? She fired us last time. Old Mr. Raider might be forgetting things," Zach laughed.
"Not likely. She requested us." Jack watched Zach's smile widened. The rush of power spread. Denise was untrained and had fallen in with the wrong crowd. But she was a natural sub and needed them. Her trust fund and rich family gave her a princess complex, but really, she wanted to please. They'd seen through her and had called her on it--for her own safety, of course. A stalker ex was one thing. A stalker Master was another. But Carl was worse than both.
"Requested us? We were blacklisted by the Edington family." Zach shook his head. "She'd have no clue we were the ones who forced a confession from the goons Carl hired to kidnap her. Why us?"
Jack nodded. "The secret is still safe. I'm guessing she realized we're good for this particular problem, and we didn't out her." Denise had tried to break up with Carl when he'd gotten too rough at a club, and Carl had tried to woo her back. The family had suspected he was after the money. "They don't need to know about her sexual preferences. They want her safe along with their fortunes. But what Carl had planned for her was worse than any club. I don't want her to know."
"I agree. We stopped it. I can't believe attempted kidnapping and assault with extortion wasn't enough to keep him in jail. Carl sent a ransom note before the goons he hired tried to take her." Zach pulled out a set of fresh clothes.
They both knew what had gone down, but getting inside a criminal's mind to anticipate his moves would take both of their perceptions working together. Carl was mean enough for anything. Denise needed them fully prepped. "Carl is still desperate to hold onto her. The Master thing was all an act, and he used it to seduce her. The power went to his head." Jack checked the clock. He needed to get in the shower.
"She's never been trained or belonged to a club. She's not that type," Zach growled. "At least, we brought down the kidnapping and human trafficking ring. Sex slaves, selling subs to strangers. It's sick." Zach punched a pillow.
"It was a hell pit. We can't tell her what they had planned." Jack loved Denise's innocence. She might be one of the rich and fabulous in Los Angeles, but her family protected her. Her naughty, wild side had been mostly fantasy until Carl. She didn't need to know he'd planned to let strangers humiliate and torture her into obedience until he'd gotten the ransom. Then they might have sold her for all they knew.
"She's stronger than you think. Fired our asses for asking the right questions about Carl. Like we'd out her secrets. Mr. Edington, your niece is a lovely blonde with curves for days, and she loves submissive sex play."
"Carl was still in her head. She dumped him and ran home but still didn't want to get him in trouble. Anyone can call themselves a Master and play with people." The brothers had learned their skills at a local club for the training and connections but had never gotten into the voyeur scene. They preferred to be at home in private for play. Two masters could scare off some subs, though some loved it, but the men had kept searching for the right one.
Until Denise. She was the one they agreed on. She'd be permanent if they could just get her. Even having each other wasn't always a given. The system had yanked them apart at will. He couldn't think about the future too much. Now, he needed to think about Denise's safety.
Jack got off the bed. "I'll hit the shower. We can drive through and get coffee on the way."
"Hey," Zach said.
Jack turned. "What?"
"This is it. If she's open to having us, we need to make our move."
"We have to protect her first. She might be scared away from the life thanks to Carl." Jack couldn't handle losing her again, but moving too fast was dangerous with an untrained sub.
"We'll give her what she needs and really wants. The right way." Zach grinned. "What? She doesn't have some creepy new boyfriend, does she?"
"No, still single and trying to put her life back together from the info I've gotten, but she keeps secrets. Being a rich California girl is hard work. Raider's said the family feels she was back to her old self in the last few months, and now this. They're pissed. No, I'm not sure we should push her." Jack headed to the bathroom.
Starting the shower, he took a deep breath and stepped into the shower. Zach was pushy and could be rough, while Jack had more finesse and patience. But with Denise, it was different. She wasn't a trained sub eager to please and prove herself. They needed to draw her out and do it carefully.
Zach had consulted with their Master friends on the topic over the last six months, always so confident that Denise would be theirs and come back to them. Jack had to admit, his brother was right. Denise didn't have to request them now. It was a good sign. Jack just couldn't get ahead of himself.
Stepping out of the shower, he forced himself into a professional mode as he toweled off. Denise was a client. If Jack got his hopes up too high, he'd lose focus. Hell, he'd suffered enough pain and loss in his life that it didn't scare him. His parents, his grandmother, even Zach at times once they were in foster care. They could live without Denise if they had to; endurance was something they'd built up. Their career was one place Jack went above and beyond and would never screw up. They'd succeeded and it paid the bills. But they wanted Denise. Jack believed she was their reward for a hard childhood. If the chance came, they'd take it.
The mental pep talk worked for Jack. His love and fear for Denise remained buried deep down. Zach couldn't contain himself as well as Jack and jumped into things without a care in the world. It worried Jack sometimes that his brother could be so all or nothing.
With Denise, Zach had hit a new level. A new fixation. Jack shared it, but Zach was convinced Denise belonged to them already, as if it were fate.
In the club circle, multiple subs for one Master were common, but two Masters for one sub was strange. Jack would never be harsh enough to please or push a sub and Zach could go full tilt into a fantasy and not read subtle reactions. They were a balanced pair. When they'd try to go solo or played with two girls, it was never as good. Dom brothers sharing a sub got questions in the club circles. This worked for them. But would Denise go for it? Be up to satisfying them both?
Denise might think they're freaks. As a Dom, it didn't matter to Jack so long as she tried it and loved them. All their needs could be met if they stayed open. No doubt they would be better for her than Carl.
The fear lingered in Jack. If Denise had been completely turned off of Dom/sub sex play because of Carl, they had to respect her limits. She might not be ready, or she might have rejected it as evil. If she'd seen the pit she could've ended up in, he wouldn't blame her for never letting anyone dominate her again. Not sexually, not playfully, not anything. The line between a new level of ecstasy and going too far was easily trampled by a bad Master. She'd picked very wrong the first time. Had Carl turned her off forever? With Carl free, there was no answer to that question yet.