Siren in Bloom
Texas Sirens, Book 6
Print Book: Amazon
About the book
Re-released in a second edition with new scenes.
For psychologist Leo Meyer, peace and comfort come through strict discipline and order. It’s one of the reasons he was chosen by Julian Lodge to be the Dom in residence at his club. His time there has been a near-perfect existence filled with a daily routine free from the chaos of emotional attachment. With the exception of his brief relationship with Shelley McNamara, that is. She may have been the only woman he ever truly loved, but he was confident he had put her out of his mind until she walked into his club on the arm of another man.
Shelley McNamara is tired of waiting for her new life to begin. After finally finding freedom from an abusive marriage, she is eager to discover who she really is. After her encounter with Leo Meyer, she knows that the first thing she wants to explore is the lifestyle he exposed her to during their brief time together. She’s been promised her new Dom will be an excellent fit, but she can’t imagine anyone could fill the hole left by Leo. Until she sees Master Wolf.
After a devastating injury forced his retirement from the Navy SEALs, Wolf has been restless and lost. Hoping to reconnect with his estranged family in Dallas, Wolf accepted a new job working for Julian Lodge. His first assignment is training a beautiful woman named Shelley. Her fiery nature unlocks feelings he didn’t know he was capable of after a life spent in combat. The closer they become, the more certain he is that she is his ideal mate. The only catch is that her relationship with Leo may not be as resolved as they both believed.
Just when Shelley believes the looming shadow of her deceased husband has finally cleared away, a dangerous killer arrives at her door seeking retribution. Leo and Wolf will have to put their grievances aside, leverage all their training, and work together to keep her safe and claim her heart.
“No. Absolutely not. Can’t you see this is a very bad idea, Julian?” Leo Meyer looked at his boss trying to convey his deep belief that impending fatherhood was obviously affecting Julian’s brain. Ever since Danielle Lodge-Taylor had announced her pregnancy six months before, Julian’s brain had gone soft, and his current request was merely proof that the situation was getting worse.
Julian looked up from the papers he was studying, that single eyebrow arching. He could tell a lot from his boss’s eyebrow. Where most people wore their expressions on their mouths or their eyes, Julian was all about that single arching brow. This particular time, that brow told Leo that Julian was getting frustrated with his stubbornness.
“She’s merely put in a simple request, Leo.”
There was nothing at all simple about Shelley Hughes. “I thought you hired Mrs. Hughes to redecorate the penthouse. Not to play around in The Club.”
Julian leaned back, a frown on his hawklike face. Despite his money and privilege, Julian had come up the hard way. Leo had made a long study of his boss, but the last few years had shown a deep and abiding change in Julian Lodge. Loving Danielle and his partner, Finn, building a life with them, had turned Julian into a meddling old matchmaker. “You know The Club is a place for exploration. I’m a bit shocked that you think I would turn down a woman in need.”
Leo felt his jaw drop open. Julian didn’t run a soup kitchen. He ran a BDSM club, and a ridiculously exclusive one at that. “She’s not a member of this club. Have you started a pro bono fund? Because I don’t think Mrs. Hughes can afford the membership fee.”
Julian’s eyes rolled. “Good lord, you’re transparent, Leo. She’s not married anymore. And she’s taken her maiden name again.”
He was well aware of that. Her husband, Bryce Hughes, had been killed a year before. Did she still mourn him? She said no, but then she’d lied before. “Good for her. It doesn’t explain where she got the money to buy her way into this club.”
“Sometimes I allow people in for other reasons than simple money. Lexi couldn’t afford this club. Neither could Aidan. Your new charge certainly can’t.”
Logan Green. He was coming in this morning. The big guy from Colorado had some serious problems, according to his brother. God. He had to deal with Wolf. The last thing he needed was Julian trying to force him together with Shelley. He’d let it go. He’d let her go. Why had she come to Dallas? She’d made herself plain enough that day at Aidan O’Malley’s ranch. She didn’t need anything he had to offer.
“Wolf thinks Logan needs this place,” Leo said absently.
“And I think Shelley needs it.” Julian tapped a file folder in front of him. His desk sat in front of a large window with a spectacular view of the Dallas skyline. “I want you to be honest with me. I trust you, and if you tell me differently, then I will deny her request. I’m going to give you a scenario. A smart woman, who happens to be related to a man I respect greatly, comes out of a difficult marriage. She was used by her husband to cover his many crimes. She’s utterly disillusioned and heartsick. She watched the man she’d married be brutally murdered. She was taken hostage herself and was only saved by the actions of her brother. She’s been in a deep depression. Her husband was the only man she’s ever had a relationship with. She married young and never explored her own sexuality. She’s obviously submissive but has had no chance to discover this part of her personality. She’s sweet and kind and I worry that if something doesn’t change for her, she will fade away. If you had no idea who I was speaking of, if you merely had these facts in front of you, what would you recommend?”
Fuck him. Julian was putting him in a corner. “It’s not the same.”
“How is it not the same? You came to me two days ago and laid out the case for allowing Logan Green to become an ancillary member of this club. He doesn’t have the funds with which to join, but you feel he can benefit from training.”
Leo felt a stubborn look settle on his face. “You know my methods include impulse control. I believe Logan has a stress disorder brought on by an incident where he was almost killed. He was tortured. He needs to feel like he’s in control.”
“And Shelley wasn’t tortured?”
Julian was missing the point. “She chose to marry that man. She chose to stay with him.”
“I am asking you to put aside your own strong feelings for Shelley and answer the question. Would you recommend that woman I described for training?”
Leo felt his fists clench. Julian wasn’t going to give up. He could lie, but Julian would see right through it. He was damned no matter which way he went. “Yes.”
“Excellent.” Julian looked back down at his paperwork. “That is all.”
What? “We’re not going to talk this through? You’re simply going to tell me to train her and that’s all there is to it? Don’t you think you owe me more than an order?”
Julian’s eyes came back up. “I wasn’t ordering you to do anything.”
Leo huffed. “Then you’re not going to put Shelley into training?”
“Oh, I’m putting her in training.”
Frustration threatened to choke him. How the hell was he going to put impersonal hands on her body? The very thought of finally seeing that petite, curvy body naked had his unruly dick standing at full attention. He couldn’t walk into a room with her without his cock threatening to take over. She was dangerous. She’d burned him once, and he was not going to allow it to happen again. She’d made it plain she didn’t need a white knight. Not that he’d ever been good at that. His history with women proved it. “And she agreed to have me as her trainer?”
What kind of game was she playing? She couldn’t kick him out of her life and then turn around and draw him back in simply because she suddenly found herself without a husband. Guilt gnawed at him. Bryce Hughes had been a monster. Maybe he wasn’t being fair. Maybe she truly had come here to explore herself. Maybe she had come here because she knew she’d made a mistake.
Julian shook his head. “Not at all. She was horrified at the thought. It was the one thing she required before she would agree. She wouldn’t have you.”
A kernel of hurt flared to life. Well, he had his answer. He’d been pining for her, but she certainly hadn’t done the same for him. “I’m the resident Dom. Her training falls under my purview.”
“Are you?” Julian asked, standing up. He was dressed in his day clothes, a perfectly tailored suit and tie. Julian was immaculate, every stitch in perfect position, as though the clothes wouldn’t dare do anything so gauche as to wrinkle. “A Dom usually takes a sub.”
Fuck, they were going into this? “Do you have a problem with the way I run this club?”
Julian held out a hand. “You’re perfect. You’re wonderful and you know it. I have no idea what I would do without you. I simply worry that you aren’t getting what you need. For the last year, you’ve held yourself apart.”
Because no one needed him. Julian was happily married. Most of the members of The Club he’d grown close to in his first years were settled and content. Everyone was moving into a phase of their lives that he hadn’t gotten close to yet. “I’ve kept up my duties.”
Julian’s voice became hushed, softer. It was a tone Leo knew he only used on his family and friends. Julian’s circle was tight, but he would kill for someone he loved. “I know you, my friend. Don’t think I don’t know what I owe you. I wouldn’t be the man I am without you and Jackson. The two of you have had an enormous influence on me. I truly consider you my brothers. And that’s why I worry. You loved that woman.”
“No.” He wasn’t going to admit that to anyone. “Shelley was merely one in a long line of unavailable women I became attracted to. I hit on Abby Barnes, too. Hell, I hit on Dani.”
Julian smiled at the mention of his wife. “Please continue to do so. She’s worried the baby is making her unattractive.”
Leo smiled. “Do you have any idea how far you’ve come? A few years back, you would have beaten the shit out of anyone who hit on your sub.”
“But I trust my Danielle. That’s the difference. Don’t mistake my trust in her for a change in my possessive nature. I trust Danielle, and I trust you. You can hit on Danielle and Abigail all you like because you don’t mean anything by it. It was different with Shelley Hughes. She’s different. Tell me something, and I’m asking as a friend, not a boss. Have you slept with a woman in the last year?”
His stomach churned. “No.”
He’d thought about it, but it had seemed like cheating because he loved her. Fuck. He had to get over that woman. He couldn’t let his life be ruined because one woman couldn’t love him.
“Let her go, Leo. I don’t know what happened between the two of you, but you’re both miserable and neither of you is willing to deal with the situation. Are you willing to go after her?”
He shook his head.
“Then let her go,” Julian said. “You’ll both be happier for it. Shelley is a lovely woman. You’re family. I want you both happy, and I think this is the way to do it. I’ve found the perfect man to train her. You have another sad-sack freak to fix. Let each other go.”
“He isn’t a freak.”
Julian shrugged. “I think I can joke about it. I was one of the sad-sack freaks you helped. Concentrate on your new charge. Shelley’s new Master will help her.”
It was an excellent plan. Perfectly logical. So why did the thought of another man laying hands on her put him in a killing mood? “Who? Which Dom did you pick? Because I can’t think of a single one we have here who will work. Ben is too easy. Chase is too hard. And they like to work together.”
“She did mention that ménage was one of her fantasies,” Julian offered.
That was not happening. “Fuck no. Chase is hardcore. And he’ll be far too distant. She needs someone emotionally available or you’re putting her in the same position she was in before. She’s going to require a patience neither of those men has.”
“As it so happens, I agree with you,” Julian explained.
But he was on a roll now. “Dane is a part-time Dom, and quite frankly, I hear he’s about to start on a big murder case. He’s not going to have time. Are you planning on setting her up with one of the married Doms? Greg would be perfect.” Greg was madly in love with his wife, Heather, but he enjoyed training a new sub from time to time. He wouldn’t fuck her. Actually, Greg was his best-case-scenario Dom. “It’s Greg.”
Julian shook his head. “No. I think she needs someone who is going to be utterly focused on her needs. I’m afraid I’m playing matchmaker here. I’m looking for someone who wants a permanent sub, who will go into this with an open heart. She’s been talking to him over the web and on the phone for a few weeks now. I think you’ll find these two are very suited to each other. I was careful.” Julian reached back and hit the button on his intercom. “Candice, you can send him in.”
He was here? Who the hell was he? Who was this Dom Julian was talking about? Had he put up a fucking classified ad? Seeking candy-ass Dom who will take sub under his wing and into his heart? Vomit. No Dom in his right mind went into a training contract hoping to find a goddamn soul mate. And she’d been talking to him? She’d been sitting up late at night talking to some damn Dom while he’d been making himself sick over her?
“I would, sir. If he were here, I would absolutely send him right in.” Candice was Julian’s longtime assistant. At one time she’d been his nanny. Candice was, in many ways, the mother Julian had needed after his own had died. Julian had managed to build a family out of nothing.
Why couldn’t he do the same? He had a family, and yet he felt far away from them.
Julian growled a bit. “The little shit. I had this perfectly timed. I said my line, and now he’s supposed to make his grand entrance. Does he understand the meaning of the word timing?”
Over the intercom, Leo could hear the dinging of the elevator.
“Ah, he’s here now, sir.”
“Well, hello, pretty lady.”
Leo froze. That wasn’t…fuck, no. It was a coincidence.
He could practically hear Candice smiling over the intercom. “I’m old enough to be your grandmother.”
“My granny didn’t look like you, sweetheart. Can you tell the big guy I’m here?”
So many things fell into place. The laid-back Western accent. The cowboy-lothario treatment Candice was getting. The shit-eating grin on Julian’s face.
Only one person in the world would truly annoy the hell out of him.
“Tell me you didn’t hire him.” Leo gritted the words out.
The door opened, and sure enough, there was Wolf Meyer.
Leo was sure in that moment that he’d landed in hell.
And he’d done it again. That much was plain. Wolf forced his face to remain placid. He wasn’t going to let Leo know how much the lack of greeting cut through him. He hadn’t seen his brother in almost a year, but this was what he got. His brother stood there looking at him like a mangy dog who had walked into the room. Which was a bad example because Leo would have petted the mangy dog and tried to figure out what the mutt needed. He wouldn’t do the same for his own brother. “Something wrong?”
“I thought you were driving Logan down,” Leo said, his voice tight.
“I did. He’s sitting in the lobby.”
Leo moved in. “I didn’t realize you were planning on working here. This isn’t a friendly visit, is it, Wolfgang?”
“Well, no, it doesn’t feel friendly at all, Leonardo.” If his brother wanted to get snippy, he could give as well as he got. Why the fuck had he thought this could work? What was he doing here? He’d had a decent job in Bliss. He’d been close to his mother. Why was he here when it was obvious that his brother didn’t want him around?
Because he was still five fucking years old, clinging to his older brother because he didn’t have anything else. He’d left Bliss because he didn’t want to spend his life riding herd, and his mother was perfectly happy with the craziest guy in town.
And he missed his brother.
The trouble was, his brother had never once missed him.
Leo frowned. “I didn’t mean it that way. I’m sorry. Julian didn’t mention he’d hired another Dom.”
“You didn’t tell him?” He looked to Julian, who had seemed like a nice guy, but then Wolf wasn’t the brightest bulb in the light socket. He was a dumb grunt who shouldn’t trust his instincts.
“I didn’t think I had to.” If the big boss was at all uncomfortable with the tension in the room, it didn’t show. “It is my club, after all.”
Wolf thought about the phone call he’d placed before he’d left Bliss. Leo had sounded happy. He’d said he had the guest rooms all made up. No wonder. He hadn’t thought Wolf would be staying more than a night or two.
His first instinct was to turn and walk out the door. If Leo didn’t want him here, then he would go home. He would get in his truck and march his ass right back to Bliss. He would find a job. Surely he was good at something. The trouble was the only two things he’d ever been good at were being a soldier and being a Dom.
He wasn’t allowed to be a soldier anymore. There wasn’t much call for professional Doms in a place as small as Bliss. He’d talked to the owner of the only other club in Dallas. Sanctum already had a Dom in residence.
Fuck. He needed this job. “I’m sure we can work it out so you don’t have much interaction with me, Leo.”
“That would be difficult,” Julian offered. “He’s going to be your boss.”
Double fuck. “I thought you had a client for me?”
“No,” Leo said, his mouth a flat line.
“Yes,” Julian insisted at the same time. “But Leo is the resident Dom. He’ll oversee your training with Shelley.”
Shelley. Damn. He was a dumbass. Ever since that first conversation with Julian about coming to work at The Club, he’d thought about this woman who would be his submissive in training. He’d heard about her background, though she didn’t like to talk about it. Her background had been one of the things she had shied away from in their conversations. She’d been in an abusive marriage. She’d witnessed a horrible crime. She was alone in the world. She had a brother, but he was happily settled down on the very ranch Wolf had just left.
So why hadn’t he talked to Trev about his sister? He’d had the opportunity, but he’d avoided it. He’d told his friends that he would be working at The Club, but he hadn’t mentioned that he would be topping Trev’s sister.
“And she’s agreed to it? Has she signed a contract? Does she want to meet me in person first?” Despite the fact that he’d spent hours getting acquainted with her over the phone, there was a lot he didn’t know about her, and she, him. Julian had placed many things off-limits. No exchanges of addresses. No discussions of family in anything but broad terms. All there to protect them both, but it left some pretty big holes. And they hadn’t exchanged pictures. She could take one look at him and run. It seemed to be what most women did these days.
How was he supposed to act as her Dom when he was down on himself? He shook it off. He could handle it because he would be doing it for her. To give her what she needed. To get what he needed. The power exchange didn’t only work for perfectly confident people. But when it worked well, it gave a man confidence. And he was fucking confident. He was a man who’d survived Hell Week with the SEALs. He was a man who didn’t give a shit what most people thought.
Except the minute he got near his brother, he turned into a needy kid again, longing for the approval of the man who had raised him.
“She doesn’t need to meet you, Wolf. There’s been a mistake.” Leo took a step forward, but Julian blocked him.
Julian pulled a file off his desk. “She’s already signed a standard contract. I’ve attached a set of hard and soft limits for you both to discuss and agree to. Sexual contact is up to you, but she seems open to it if the two of you click.”
“Are you fucking high?” Leo practically roared. “This is not happening. Wolf is not working here. He’s not topping Shelley. He’s going to get back into his truck and drive right back to Colorado where he can take care of our mother.”
“She doesn’t need me.” He felt his whole body flush with humiliation. God, why had he thought this would work? It wouldn’t. Not if Leo didn’t want it to. “Ma’s happy, Leo.”
“With Crazy Mel. Yes, she’s happily awaiting the next alien invasion. She needs someone who can take care of her.”
“Mel’s a good guy.” Where was this coming from? Leo had never had a problem with Mel before. Leo had laughed with Mel the last time he’d come home. He’d joked and played golf and drank some of Mel’s special tonic. And gotten slightly trashed since Mel’s special tonic happened to be rotgut whiskey.
Leo took a long breath. “I know he is, but they’re both getting older. Have you thought of that? And you don’t have any formal experience.”
“He passed Stefan Talbot’s tests. I like Mr. Talbot. I trust his judgment,” Julian explained, but it didn’t seem as though Leo was listening.
“I don’t care what some guy in Colorado thinks. I run the Doms here and I say no, or are you letting me go, Julian?”
The question dropped like a mine waiting to go off.
Julian’s face went perfectly blank for a moment. Then he looked up, and Wolf knew he’d lost. “I apologize for the inconvenience, Mr. Meyer. It seems I’ve made a mistake. Please let me offer you a room in the hotel portion of The Club. Candice will make sure you have a suite at your disposal tonight.”
Wolf stared at his brother for a moment, but Leo’s face was a stony mask. The urge to put his fist through his brother’s nose was riding him, but it wouldn’t fix anything. Somehow, Leo had gotten it into his head that he was useless, and nothing he’d done seemed to be able to fix it.
It was time to move on.
Without another word, he turned on his heel and walked out.
Logan Green sat outside the door, which had been left open. It seemed his friend had heard the whole humiliating scene.
“Are we leaving?” Logan asked, his big body coming out of the chair he’d been perched on.
“I am.” Just because he wasn’t welcome didn’t mean Logan shouldn’t get what he needed.
Logan’s mouth curled down. “Uhm, that guy sounds like an asshole. I’ll go with you. We can be back in Bliss by morning.”
And Logan would continue down the same self-destructive path he’d been on for over a year. No. He couldn’t let that happen. Logan had been through too much to throw away this opportunity. “Stay. He’s a good guy.”
“He didn’t sound like it.”
Wolf shook his head. “It’s only with me, man. I’m telling you, he’s great with his patients. You won’t find a better shrink. He won’t give up on you. He’ll stick with you until you make a breakthrough, and then he’ll stand by if you falter. Ask Trev. Ask anyone who’s worked with him.”
Logan’s eyes slid toward the elevator, seemingly looking for an escape route. “I don’t know.”
How did he explain this? How did he let Logan know what kind of a person his brother was? “Our dad left when we were kids. I was a baby, but Leo was five. As you know, our mom has some issues. She worked, but it was hard. We barely managed to keep our cabin. Leo had to grow up fast. I think that’s why he doesn’t want me around. I remind him of how crappy it was. When Ma lost her job, we didn’t have enough to eat. Do you know what that asshole in there did? He would put half his plate on mine. He was eleven years old. Do you understand what it takes for a hungry eleven-year-old to give up half his food? He sacrificed for me. I didn’t turn out as good as he thought I should. That’s on me, not you, man. He will help you.”
Logan nodded after a long moment. “Okay.”
Wolf slapped him on the arm. “And I’ll buy the first round when you get back to Bliss. You’re going to be fine.”
He turned to go, and Leo stood in the doorway.
“It wasn’t so bad. Our childhood, I mean.” He looked down at the floor suddenly. “I don’t resent you, Wolf. At least I didn’t think I did. Julian surprised the hell out of me with this. I had no idea you were coming to stay. Julian’s manipulating everyone. It’s his weird version of love. Look, I sort of had a relationship with the woman he’s asked you to top.”
“Fuck, I didn’t know.” That explained a lot.
“It doesn’t matter,” Leo insisted. “It didn’t work. There was nothing intimate between us. We were friends, nothing more. But she does need you. I apologize. Please stay.”
He should go. He should walk the fuck out the door. He’d wanted to come to Dallas to have a relationship with his brother, not to step into the middle of a shit storm. If Leo said he was involved with this woman, then it had been serious. Leo wouldn’t use those words on someone he felt casually about. Could he top his brother’s ex? Fuck. He should walk away and be satisfied with e-mails and the occasional visit. It’s what most brothers had.
“Sure. I’ll stay.”
He’d never been satisfied with ordinary.
Copyright 2018 Lexi Blake