London 1779 Simon sat in the depths of a smoky gambling hell, his cravat undone, his coat tossed carelessly across a stool near his feet. He knew he presented the very portrait of a debauched noble gambling his night away. That was precisely what he wanted, because he was in the gaming hell as a spy tonight, rather than a full participant.
Tonight he was watching his dear friend Matthias wager away every bit of good fortune the man had ever possessed. Indeed, Simon saw a note that no doubt represented every bit of Matthias’s remaining land in the pile of loot at the center of his table. What Simon really wished to do was to go over to that table and wipe it clean with his arm, dramatically saving Matthias from himself. He knew, however, that his friend would not thank him for it, so instead he would wait until a destitute Matthias left to drown his sorrows in whatever drink he might yet afford. Then he would buy all of those notes back from the winners, whether they wished to sell or not. A roar from Matthias brought Simon’s attention back from his thoughts. Matthias’s gaming table spilled over, notes and coins flying.
“You’re a damned cheat,” Matthias shouted, and in finally seeing Matthias’s opponent’s face, Simon could not but agree. Lord Chalmsley was, indeed, a terrible cheat. He was also armed with a dagger in his sleeve, which snicked into place against Matthias’s breastbone in less than a heartbeat.
“How dare you, sir?” Chalmsley said calmly. “I have beaten you over and over this evening because of your lack of skill, not chicanery.”
“That’s a load of shite.” Matthias pressed against the blade until a red spot appeared on his lawn shirt. “Had you nothing to hide you would not conceal a weapon and use it so readily.”
Chalmsley backed away slowly. “I only protect myself, you insolent bastard.”
“Ah, but I am no more a bastard than you are,” Matthias stated. “Fight me fairly.”
“I did. With the cards.” With a flourish of his blade, Chalmsley bent to pick up the notes before stuffing them into his coat. “Good night, all.” Matthias lunged, only to be held back by a few acquaintances. Not an easy task, considering his stature, his heavy muscles. Simon watched him thusly restrained, and the kernel of an idea took hold in his mind. The image of that bright spot of blood crystalized in Simon’s thoughts.
Good God, his friend had a death wish. Yes, Matthias had a need to castigate himself. To punish himself for his perceived failures in life. How many times had Simon seen Matthias throw the first punch or toss a note in someone’s face? How many times had the man courted danger to his person simply because he didn’t think he was worthy of his life? He wondered why it had taken him so long to realize that he knew of a solution. Oh, God help him, he might just be able to save Matthias from another night such as this, from giving away his land and his life to fulfill some sort of fatalistic desire.
Matthias needed to explore this need for violence, for self-punishment, in a safe place. Would that Simon could become that place, but he knew Matthias would never accept such games from a man, let alone one he considered a close friend. There was someone, though, someone who would give Matthias what he needed.
Simon stood, assuming his jacket before he left the room so that Matthias never saw him. He dropped his own blade into his hand when he approached Chalmsley from behind, then pressed the dagger to the man’s ribs. “I’ll take those notes, my lord,” he said, smiling when Chalmsley stiffened. “I would have bought them, but I do abhor a cheat.”
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Meet the author:
Julia Talbot lives in the great Southwest, where there is hot and cold running rodeo, cowboys, and everything from meat and potatoes to the best Tex-Mex. A full time author, Julia has been published by Samhain Publishing, Dreamspinner Press, and Changeling Press to name just a few. She believes that everyone deserves a happy ending, so she writes about love without limits, where boys love boys, girls love girls, and boys and girls get together to get wild, especially when her crazy paranormal characters are involved. Find Julia at @juliatalbot on Twitter, or at www.juliatalbot.com. Find all my books from my publishers Samhain, Dreamspinner, All Romance Ebooks, Torquere Press, and Changeling Press at my website. www.juliatalbot.com
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Where to find the author:
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/juliatalbotwriterpage
Goodreads Link: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/283274.Julia_Talbot
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Cover Artist: Leah Kaye
Pages or Words: 39,400 words
Categories: BDSM, Bisexual, Fiction, Historical, Ménage/Poly
Author Name: Minerva Howe (aka Julia Talbot—Minerva is her BDSM alter ego)
Book Name: The Mistress and Her Men
Release Date: October 27, 2015