The Sixth Book in the New Masters of the Castle Witness Protection Program

The new exciting addition to the Masters of the Castle boxed set, Witness Protection Program, is now live. Eight new stories by ten awesome authors, for only $1.25 each. Get your copy today!

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Want a sneak peak at the stories inside? Take a look at Harboring Holly by Raisa Greywood!

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Chapter One

 

The expanse of Lake Erie stretched out ahead of their plane as they approached the airport. The port city of Toledo was a dark blight on the western shore, its rust belt heritage evident from the smokestacks spewing polluted steam into the air. Barges and container ships crossed the open water, competing for space with small pleasure craft.

In the seat next to him, Carmen tapped a nervous hand on the armrest of the first-class seat as the pilot announced their approach. Flint wanted to laugh. His unwanted companion was a nervous flier. A flight attendant walked by, collecting trash in preparation for landing.

“Hey, sweet thing, bring me another bourbon before we land.” Carmen scratched at the beard he’d grown to disguise his appearance.

The woman’s eyes tightened, but she smiled. “I’m very sorry, Mr. Colombo. We’ll be landing in about fifteen minutes, and FAA regulations—”

Beads of sweat bloomed on Carmen’s forehead and he swiped at them with a shaking hand before turning a murderous glare on the beleaguered woman. “I don’t give a fuck. Bring me a goddamned drink!”

Flint interrupted the brewing fight. While he wouldn’t mind watching Carmen deal with airport security, they didn’t have time. Leaning over to whisper in Carmen’s ear, he said, “Boss, if you get arrested when we land, we won’t be able to do what we came to do. There’s going to be a bar in the airport.”

Carmen slumped against his seat and growled. “Fine. Whatever.” His fingers dug into the leather armrest as the flight attendant made her escape. “Fucking hate flying.”

Flint spent the entire approach and landing in a state of bliss. Entertainment at Carmen’s expense was a rare and heady thing, and he savored every second of Carmen’s distress. If he had his way once Carmen was incarcerated, he’d stuff the slimeball into a coach seat, chain him to the armrests, and let him fly to New Zealand and back for the rest of his life.

Too bad it would be considered cruel and unusual punishment.

To Carmen’s sweating relief and Flint’s disappointment, the pilot touched down smooth as silk. Flint didn’t say a word when Carmen downed several double shots in the closest bar. Maybe he’d sleep for the drive. They’d have plenty of time to make the bus to the resort.

As they approached the rental, a man Flint didn’t know crept between adjacent vehicles, his head bent low to disguise his face. Carmen hurried toward him and accepted a small black duffel bag. Carmen handed him some money and the man disappeared as silently as he’d come.

“Who was that?”

Giving him an evil grin, Carmen said, “Just an acquaintance delivering a few gifts that would have been awkward to travel with.”

Well, shit. Flint had hoped Carmen would have a more elegant solution for Grace, or at least something he might be able to counter. But no, Carmen had to make things difficult, as usual. At least it would be quick. Carmen wouldn’t waste time torturing her. And if Grace Barnes was guarded well enough, maybe it would give him some time to figure out a way to protect her without blowing his cover.

He made a note to give the delivery boy’s description to his handler with his next report. “I’ll load our bags.”

“All but this one. I’m going to give you a present once we’re in the car.”

“Thanks, boss.”

As Flint settled into the driver’s seat, Carmen rummaged in the black bag and asked, “How long until we get there?”

Flint glanced down at the GPS. “About an hour if traffic behaves.”

“Okay.” Carmen produced a Glock nine-millimeter and handed it over.

Flint tucked the gun into his jacket pocket. “Are you sure you want to register us as a couple? Dunno how I feel about that, boss. I don’t want people thinking I swing that way, and I don’t want to be cock blocked if a girl catches my eye.”

Truthfully, Flint didn’t care if people thought he was gay. There was nothing wrong with it, but the persona he’d created would object.

Carmen snorted and punched his arm. “We’re not going to fuck, you moron. We’re going to off Grace Barnes and leave when our weekend is up.” He shuffled through the registration paperwork Flint had printed for him. “Besides, it says we can change our program for free. If either of us finds a piece of strange we like, we can do that.”

Flint took his eyes from the road for a second, watching as Carmen’s eyes went flat and cold. He shivered, knowing Carmen was focused only on killing Grace Barnes. His gut clenched, knowing she would pay the price for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He could do nothing to stop it. Grace would be another piercing somewhere on his body; the only memorial he could afford for a woman who would die for doing nothing wrong. He would get a sapphire to match her sightless blue eyes.

“All you have to do is keep your eye on the ball. No pussy is worth fucking up what we came to this godforsaken state to do.” He settled deeper into the seat, crossing his arms over his chest. “Now leave me the fuck alone so I can take a nap.”

“Yes, boss.”

Flint was thankful for the silence as he completed the drive. Carmen dozed through parking in the secure lot in Granger, only rousing himself when Flint returned from Starbucks with two cups of coffee.

Carmen complained about the bus. He complained about the service dog a few rows ahead of them. The pooch was clearly very smart and growled at Carmen as they passed to take their seats. It made Flint wish he had a dog treat, though it was bad form for a stranger to offer food to a service animal.

Flint ignored Carmen’s whining. The skinny little fucker complained about anything that didn’t involve curbside limo service and top shelf booze. He imagined Carmen riding in a bus with grilles covering the windows. Fuck, what he wouldn’t give to see that, but he had to be patient and wait. Despite two years of service, and a year in Carmen’s inner circle, he hadn’t found the source of the guns or any concrete evidence of the flesh trade.

The bus took them through verdant farmland. Wheat fields commanded the landscape, the grain tall with ripening seed heads. Small patches of woods surrounded the fields, filled with maples, horse chestnuts, and straggly oaks. The scent of black earth, fertilizer, and sunlight crept into the bus’s climate control and he inhaled the sweet fragrance.

It was a shame that such a peaceful place would host a murder. Maybe more than one if Carmen thought anyone recognized him.

A high stone wall came into view as the bus trundled down a lane and a half of macadam farm road. Black cameras winked at him from trees and Flint nodded his approval at the security measures. This was a place he could enjoy, if not for the circumstances.

The bus stopped at the foot of a drawbridge crossing the moat. Carmen grumbled as he stomped off the bus, following the herd of happy couples and more than a few singles across the bridge and under a magnificent iron portcullis. A podium surrounded by white folding chairs was set in the huge courtyard. To his left, admission tables awaited under a shaded canopy.

Carmen pasted a smile on his face, the expression cheerfully unnerving as he went through the registration process. Flint followed behind, receiving his own welcome packet a few moments after Carmen had his. Following the guests ahead of them, they seated themselves in plastic chairs close to the back.

“This is so fucking stupid,” Carmen muttered as a tall woman mounted the podium and began to speak.

“We gotta listen, boss. You said we need to focus on—”

“Shut the fuck up, asshole! I know what I said.”

Flint shut his mouth and watched the woman on the podium, though he had no real interest in what she was saying. None of the rules or safewords mattered to him. He had no intention of playing.

When she’d finished speaking, he stood up and followed Carmen across the courtyard toward the Castle. Some rich fucker with more money than brains had set up an exact replica of a medieval keep, complete with blacksmith, stables, and all the other shit that went along with the illusion.

The craftspeople working outside were fascinating, though. He wished he could stay a while and visit. The blacksmith sat on a stool, carefully setting rings into a chainmail corset. Damn, he could see Holly’s ample tits spilling over the metal chain, the unforgiving metal pushing her succulent flesh above the…

Flint pushed his burgeoning arousal down. Now wasn’t the time, especially since Holly Dansen was well and truly gone. With luck and a kind God, he’d never see her again.

He followed Carmen through the double doors at the top of a set of stairs, the heels of his dress shoes clicking on the marble floor. When the crowd in front of him stopped, he looked at his surroundings. The Castle was impressive. Erotic art decorated the walls, showcasing a sweeping staircase. Grecian pillars stood equidistant from each other, stalwart sentinel over the assembled guests. Windows allowed natural light, illuminating the lavish décor.

The scent of chocolate tickled his nose and he turned to face the source of the decadent odor. A wooden sign over an open door proclaimed ‘Maybe’s Candies.’ Ignoring Carmen, he took a brief respite from his duties and bought a cake pop. The clerk winked as she handed him the treat.

Nibbling at the rich cake coated with the best bittersweet chocolate he’d ever tasted, he returned to Carmen.

Carmen’s eyes lit up as a young woman in a short black skirt scurried past them, her feather duster aloft as she swiped at erotic statuary. He took a step toward her, his gaze hungry as he watched her ass twitch. “Will you look at that?” he asked, his voice low and malicious. “Tender meat.” He shook his head and sighed. “Damn, I wish we weren’t here on business.” Gesturing with his chin, he said, “Let’s get this fucking tour over with. I want a nap and dinner before we take care of things.”

Flint heard a feminine gasp behind him and spun around. Mismatched eyes wide with shock and terror met his and he froze.

Nobody but Holly had those astonishing eyes, one green and the other blue. Nobody had those legs, or those heart-stopping curves. And nobody could run that fast to escape. Mentally, he urged her on as she dashed up the stairs, praying she disappeared before Carmen saw her.

How had Holly ended up here? And how the fuck was he going to keep Carmen from recognizing her? His mind whirled, centering on a very dangerous plan. Grace Barnes was still in terrible danger, but he’d be goddamned if he let Carmen hurt Holly. With luck, his plan wouldn’t cost him his badge. Or their lives. And just maybe he could get Grace to safety, too.

“You go ahead, boss. I’ll catch up. Just need to hit the head.”

***

Holly scrambled to escape, knocking over a vase painted with a woman on her knees. Though she hadn’t recognized him from the back, she’d know Carmen Massino’s nasal voice anywhere. How had he found her? It didn’t matter. His henchman, Mario, had already spotted her, and it was only a matter of time until they went hunting. The dormitory for the Maids was just a few steps away. She’d grab the bag she always kept packed and disappear before Carmen could get away from the tour.

She ran until she slammed into a hard chest covered in black wool. Heavy arms caught her and she gasped out a breathless scream as she struggled to escape. She raked at her assailant’s face with her nails, but he turned and she caught the skin over his collar. He let out a vicious curse and swept her feet out from under her then carefully lowered her to the floor.

“Holly!”

Her lungs ached as she fought for air. Master Grimsley pressed her to the floor and stroked her back, waiting until she could draw in a full breath.

“What’s wrong?” he asked, tilting up her chin to force her to look at him.

She drew in a lungful of air and tried to control her shuddering body. There was no way she was going to tell Master Grimsley about Carmen. He’d call the police, and Carmen would know exactly who had ratted him out. Worse, Master Marshall would fire her without a single thought. Not that she blamed him; keeping drama out of the Castle was his duty. “Nothing, sir. I’m perfectly fine.”

“Bullshit.”

“It was just a tiny panic attack, sir. I’m fine.” She wanted to cry when her attempts at believable excuses fell flat.

Master Grimsley arched a brow and pressed a white handkerchief to the bloody scratch she’d left on his neck. “I beg to differ.” His expression softened and he stroked her hair, brushing a curl behind her ear. “What’s the matter? Has one of the guests hurt you? Let me get security—”

“No, thank you, Master Grimsley. I’m fine.” Holly tried to be still as she lay under his heavy hand, but wasn’t sure she was managing it. “May I get back to work?”

Master Grimsley’s expression was speculative as he wiped the bleeding scratch on his neck. “Very well, Holly.” He stood and held out a hand to help her up. “You may have fifteen minutes to collect yourself. When you return to your duties, stay on the first floor where I can keep an eye on you, please. I will also be mentioning this incident to Mistress Hardwick and Master David.”

She nodded, keeping her head lowered. It had been too much to ask that he believe her stupid story. She might have managed Mrs. Hardwick, but Master David was another matter entirely. “Yes, sir. Thank you.”

She turned to leave but he stopped her with a hand on her shoulder. She shivered at the touch, her body still amped up with adrenaline.

He handed her the feather duster she’d dropped in her haste to escape. “One demerit for breaking the vase. I’ll have someone clean it up while you collect yourself.”

“Thank you, Master Grimsley.”

He nodded, squeezing her shoulder once before leaving her alone. Damn it. Tears welled in her eyes and she brushed them away with a shaking hand. It was going to kill her to leave the Castle. She’d made so many good friends here, and the Masters and Mistresses were kind and careful, though sometimes a little scary. She didn’t even mind the punishments. Most of them were more funishment than punishment anyway.

Despite her fear, her pussy clenched as she thought about the times she’d gotten partnered with guests. She loved serving, especially with Master David in the Gorean program. He was stern and rarely smiled, and she loved teasing small grins out of him when she performed well. Being a kajira was her favorite thing. She loved the objectification, the slight pinch of humiliation as she obeyed her Master, and adored being a vessel for pleasure. Sex wasn’t always part of her duties. Many times, a Master’s desires only extended to having a pretty slave at his beck and call, and she’d served couples more than once.

Angry tears filled her eyes and she kicked the leg of a bench positioned between two large plants. Damn Carmen Massino to hell! Why did he have to take everything good from her? First her best friend Ashley, and now the Castle. Fuck!

She’d wanted so badly to go to the police when Carmen shot Ashley. But he had too many dirty cops on his payroll, and she knew she wouldn’t have lived long enough to file a report if she’d done something so monumentally stupid.

Watching that hole bloom in the middle of Ashley’s forehead still gave her nightmares. Carmen’s placid smile as he shot Ashley for refusing to sleep with him woke her up screaming.

And that idiot of a henchman, Mario! He’d just stood there and watched Ashley die, then told Carmen he should find a skinnier girl without weird eyes. She kicked the couch again, her fury raging. It was one thing to be a psychopath, but did he have to be rude about it? Mario Ricci should be wearing a yellow Minion suit, for fuck’s sake.

Maybe her eyes were a little unusual. Heterochromia iridum was rare, especially her green and blue combination. They were not weird. And she was not fat! Well, okay, maybe she had a little extra padding on her ass, but her tummy was flat and she exercised regularly. She was fit and healthy, and loved her curves.

And why did she care what a stupid thug thought about her? He’d just stood there while Carmen shot Ashley! He was no better than Carmen. Worse, even. How did he sleep at night? Her brain must have gone offline completely if she was thinking about that loser Mario when she should be making tracks to an airport. His opinions didn’t matter. He was every bit as nasty and amoral as Carmen.

She swallowed down the growl boiling in her throat and continued toward the Maids’ dormitory, ignoring the fleeting desire to spill her story to Master Grimsley and Master Marshall. They deserved an explanation as to why she was quitting her job without notice. She would just have to figure out a lie and hope for the best. Once she left the Castle, Carmen would follow and her friends would be safe.

No one stopped her as she walked toward the dorm to collect her escape bag. She’d need the money she’d stashed away to buy a new identity. Her old car would get her to Toledo. She’d sell it there and buy a ticket on the first plane out of town. It didn’t matter where it was going. Using her key card, she let herself in as her friend Stacey from the Salon trotted down the hallway toward her.

“Wait up, Holly!”

Though she didn’t want to waste the time, she pasted a smile on her face. Stacey was so sweet, Holly couldn’t be mean to her.

“What’s up?”

Stacey rested her hands on her knees, panting as she tried to catch her breath. “You’ve been requested by a guest for a Gorean program this weekend. He’s going through the tour now, so you have time to get to Wardrobe.”

“I…” Dammit! She couldn’t say no. Stacey would know something was wrong. Though they could refuse to serve a guest, it wasn’t common, and a Castle employee would have to have a compelling reason. Any employee could refuse if the program violated their hard limits, but refusing a Gorean program when everyone knew that was her favorite would toss up red flags all over the resort.

Stacey kept speaking, not noticing Holly’s hesitation. “He’s cute, too. His name is Miguel.” She frowned and bit her lip. “Well, that’s what’s on his registration, anyway. Lord only knows what his real name is.” Her contagious grin reappeared. “But he’s gorgeous, so who cares what he calls himself, right? You’ll love him. He’s got short dark hair and brown eyes, and the sweetest little soul patch.” Fanning herself, she added, “I just want to bite it. And that pink earring is cool.”

“I—”

Leaning forward, Stacey pecked Holly’s cheek, her lips soft and warm. “I have to run. I’ll see you later.” With a wave, she disappeared down the hall.

No. God, no. She’d been too slow! If she hadn’t wasted time sitting on the floor feeling sorry for herself, she’d already be gone. Her knees gave way and she collapsed on the nearest bed. The minute Stacey mentioned the pink earring, Holly knew exactly who had requested her.

But she didn’t know why. Obviously, Mario was planning on killing her. Why else would he request her out of all the other Castle subs? It would give him and Carmen plenty of opportunity to torture her, but they had to know they would be the first suspects when someone found her body.

Maybe they intended to remove her from the Castle, but when all three of them went missing at the same time, the police would look at Mario and Carmen first. There were too many cameras for them to escape detection. Carmen might own the police in Wabasha, but she was pretty sure he didn’t own the ones in Granger.

The electronic lock on the door clicked, making her flinch. Holly stood as it opened, smoothing down her skirt. She needed to stay calm and not panic. Maybe Carmen and Mario were here for some other reason. She’d been so sure nobody had seen her peeking in the door as Ashley was murdered. If someone had found out two years ago, she wouldn’t be breathing.

Nadu, Holly!”

Okay, maybe she should panic a little. She dropped to her knees, spreading them open with her hands resting on her thighs. Master David looked furious, and she cringed at the thunderous expression on his face as he stomped through the doorway. Though smaller in stature than several of the other Masters, Master David was imposing and he didn’t suffer fools or a disobedient kajira gladly.

His white dress shirt was pristine, the cuffs rolled to reveal corded forearms lightly dusted with hair. Tight black jeans clung to his hips and an astonishingly biteable ass. A crop hanging from his belt loop swung back and forth as he walked.

“I know you aren’t purposely disobeying a Master’s order, kajira Holly.” He squatted down in front of her and gripped her chin, forcing her to look at him. “Do you have an explanation for why your pretty ass isn’t already in Wardrobe?”

“I…” Her voice trailed off as she stared into his angry brown eyes. Dark skin tinged red with fury stretched tight over his high cheekbones and his unsmiling lips were thin.

“Master Grimsley told me about your incident. It’s fine if you aren’t well enough to accept the Gorean program this weekend, but you should have come to me immediately. The guest will have to choose someone else, and it would have been polite for you to give us enough time to find a replacement.”

“No, sir. I’m fine.” She swallowed hard. “I mean, I…” Dammit! What could she say that wouldn’t raise his suspicion? He was already pissed, and she quivered at the anger in his glittering eyes. “Yes, sir. I just needed a moment to recover. I was on my way to Wardrobe when you came in.”

“Good girl.”

He stood up and took a step backward. The flush of pleasure from his praise faded when he unhooked his crop from his belt. She held in a sigh and lowered her head, knowing she was going to be on the receiving end of that wicked implement. Master David did not believe in demerits. He preferred to deliver punishment immediately following a transgression.

“Slaver’s Kiss, Holly. You must learn that punctuality is a virtue.”

“Yes, sir.” She lifted her ass off her heels and bent forward until she could rest her cheek on the floor then put her hands behind her neck. Her short skirt rode up, exposing her backside. Her thong would present no barrier to Master David’s crop.

It was Master David’s favorite position for punishment. She spared a brief, waspish thought that she should have just gotten into Slaver’s Kiss when he walked in the door.

Then again, if she was going to die this weekend, a cropping from Master David was a good sendoff. At least she’d die with a smile on her face. He never asked his kajirae to count, nor did he tell them how many whacks they’d get. He wasn’t unfair or overly harsh, though. The punishments he delivered always fit the crime. Holly had been around long enough to know she’d get five or maybe ten, and he’d give her a short cuddle before calling her a good girl.

Yep, it was going to be a jolly fare thee well and fuck right off to this mortal coil.

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Bio for Raisa Greywood

Raisa is an up and coming author of romance with a dark and naughty twist. Her heroes are sometimes flawed but always the alpha in the room, while her heroines are atypical and can take anything those bossy alphas dish out.

She is the winner of the 2017 “Ignite the Flame” contest sponsored by Central Ohio Fiction Writers in the Paranormal category. The one thing that Raisa most loves is tipping tropes on their ears and making fun of them. She also adores alliteration.

She’s lived all over the world but currently resides in the Midwestern United States with her husband, two irascible cats, and a big bay rescue horse.

Check out Raisa’s newest release, Bastard’s New Baby, available now at all your favorite retailers. You can find the buy links at:  https://raisagreywood.com/books/bastards-new-baby/

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Website www.raisagreywood.com

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