Mischief and the Masters

By: Cherise Sinclair

Masters of the Shadowlands: 12



Acknowledgments




First, a huge thank you to all of you who email, comment on Facebook, and/or participate in my discussion group. Uzuri’s story came about because y’all insisted it was her turn. By your command…here is her book. I hope I did our li’l prankster justice.

A shout-out goes to the Shadowkittens in my Facebook News & Discussion group who serve up generous helpings of inspiration, weigh in on momentous decisions like “should this sex scene be kinky or all about the pain?”, toss out ideas for new stories and characters, and just do what kittehs do best—be adorable and fun. I love you all.

You know, back when I started writing, I was clueless about how many people were needed to get a book into readers’ hands. So here’s a map of those involved.

First up are my beloved critique partners who bravely take on the first rough draft. Monette Michaels, Bianca Sommerland, and Fiona Archer—thank you!

I’m always stunned and grateful for readers who volunteer to help with a book. Huge thanks go to Angie-Leonie Hinckson, Eliana West, Natalie Jett, and Tracy Harris who guided me down the path of interracial romance with advice that ranged from hairstyles to lifestyle issues. Big hugs, my dears, and heaps of gratitude.

Once cleaned up, Red Quill Editing steps in for a myriad of back and forth copyedits and proofing—and during that time, my wonderful team of beta readers, Barb Jack, Lisa White, and Marian Shulman also check over the writing for all the goofs an author can make.

Meantime, April Martinez does her usual fantastic job of designing the cover art. So when the author (me) makes impossible demands like, “I love this photo for Uzuri and Max, but this photo is what Master Alastair looks like, so can you put them all together?” she somehow makes it work. Thank you, April!

When editing is done, Paul at BB eBooks formats the manuscript. Blessings upon you and your team, Paul, for both your speed and your attention to detail.

Finally, to get the word out to everyone, I have two promo people who help with the Facebook discussion group, sending ARCs to bloggers, and creating catchy memes. Thanks to Janet at JJS Marketing & Design, and Leagh and Lisa at Romance Novel Promotions for your hard work.

And finally, a big thank you to my wonderful dearheart who will drag me out of my writing cave and remind me that life isn’t all work and no play. I do love you so much.





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 back-up 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 have already found your dearheart, come and hang out with the Masters of the Shadowlands.

Love,

Cherise





Chapter One





Coming “home” truly was the hardest part of each day.

As Uzuri Cheval pulled into her driveway and turned off her car, she looked at her one-story duplex. The dark windows appeared like hollow eyes in the white stucco. There were no dog toys in the yard, no laughter or music coming from inside. Lonely.

But, it was hers. Her refuge against the world, and one she needed right now. She’d had one crummy day.

Sometimes, she wondered if handing out burgers and fries wouldn’t be easier.

At least a Mickey D’s counter person wouldn’t have her boss demand a marketing plan for spring swimsuits. She wrinkled her nose, remembering last year. All those skinny mannequins in bikinis and not one with a real woman’s figure.

To make matters worse, the fall clothing stock wasn’t selling as well as predicted, which was probably because the Florida summer had been scorching and showed no signs of slacking off, even well into September.

To top off her day, she’d had a close encounter of the ugly kind.

I should have stayed in bed. With the covers over my head.

Still…the fast food industry would have to limp along without her shoveling their fries. Being a fashion buyer with all its challenges truly was a dream come true.