Master of Solitude (Mountain Masters & Dark Haven Book 8)

By: Cherise Sinclair

Mountain Masters & Dark Haven Book: 8




Author’s Note




To my readers,

The books I write are fiction, not reality, and as in most romantic fiction, the romance is compressed into a very, very short time period.

You, my darlings, live in the real world, and I want you to take a little more time in your relationships. Good Doms don’t grow on trees, and there are some strange people out there. So while you’re looking for that special Dom, please, be careful.

When you find him, realize he can’t read your mind. Yes, frightening as it might be, you’re going to have to open up and talk to him. And you listen to him in return. Share your hopes and fears, what you want from him, what scares you spitless. Okay, he may try to push your boundaries a little—he’s a Dom, after all—but you will have your safe word. You will have a safe word, am I clear? Use protection. Have a backup person. Communicate.

Remember: safe, sane, and consensual.

Know that I’m hoping you find that special, loving person who will understand your needs and hold you close.

And while you’re looking or even if you’ve already found your dearheart, come and hang out with the Mountain Masters.

Love,

Cherise





Acknowledgments




OMG, this is my twenty-fifth book! So, to you all, thank you so much for all your support, for the handholding and encouragement, for the ideas, for the scoldings <g>, and the reviews. Y’all mean the world to me.

Speaking of scoldings, this story is for the lifestylers who reminded me that not every submissive has had a rough past. You’re right. Although I love writing about heroines who’ve overcome adversity (and gone on to kick ass and take names), many submissives come to the lifestyle without a past trauma. So…here you go.

A huge shout-out goes to my awesome critique partners, Bianca Sommerland, Fiona Archer, and Monette Michaels. I am so very blessed to have you guys in my life.

Hugs and more hugs go to my magnificently sharp-eyed beta readers, Marian Shulman, Ruth Reid, and Barb Jack. You rock!

Thanks go to Red Quill Editing for their wonderful work. I have to say, I love our discussions.

Hugs to go Leagh and Lisa at Romance Novel Promotions for their valiant efforts in herding the Shadowkittens in the News & Discussion group. *muah!*

And finally, to my dearheart who protects me from giant wasps, kills hurt chickens when I can’t face the task, and holds my hand during the scary parts of movies (and life), I love you!





Chapter One







Sawyer Ware had been out of prison for a whole five weeks and was still acclimating to freedom. Wasn’t it interesting how a year in prison could give a man a whole new appreciation of life outside the walls?

In the ClaimJumper Tavern, he looked around and appreciated the hell out of everything. Like how the ice-cold, draft Budweiser tasted better than any specialty beer ever.

Like Johnny Cash on the jukebox. Women in tight jeans. Unlocked doors. Eating, drinking, and rolling out of bed anytime he felt like it.

And hanging out with his brother with no overbearing corrections officer nearby.

“I like this place,” Sawyer told Atticus. Every breath was redolent with the aroma of beer and French fries. Antlers on the rough log wall served as coat hooks for jackets and hats. In front of the jukebox, two couples were country dancing.

The end of July was the height of the tourist season. On this Saturday night, the small tavern in Bear Flat, California, was packed with loggers and ranchers, most in jeans and plain T-shirts. The tourists visiting nearby Yosemite Park added color with brightly patterned clothing and sunburned faces.

As Sawyer looked around, many townspeople either avoided his gaze…or gave him the stink-eye. This was the downside of small towns—like cockleburs in a horse’s mane, a bad reputation clung to a man forever.

Not that he particularly gave a fuck about the ugly stares. Unlike prison convicts, the law-abiding locals wouldn’t come after him with fists and shivs. “I see the locals aren’t setting out a welcome mat for ex-cons.”

“’Fraid not. They’re pretty resentful about the prison.” Atticus took in the bitter glances toward Sawyer and rubbed his short beard thoughtfully. Although the two of them looked alike—over six feet, muscular, brown hair, blue eyes—Att wore his hair to shoulder-length whereas Sawyer’d never lost a military preference for short hair and being clean-shaven.