Celebrity lookalike escort Astrid Lepler is tired of running. When an old friend invites her to apply for a role at Rowan House, she travels to Scotland to show off her skills as a purveyor of fantasy and in-demand Mistress in hopes of securing a position.
Long time Rowan House employee Benita Azevedo would do anything for Tessa Morgan, the woman who warms her bed and fills her soul like no other, even if she has to shatter her heart to secure Tessa’s happiness.
Tessa has worked hard to put her past behind her and make a place for herself at Rowan House. Respected by her peers, desired by clients, surrounded by friends with all the benefits, she has everything she has ever wanted.
It all comes crashing down when Astrid arrives at Rowan House. Faced with their undeniable attraction to each other, Tessa and Astrid rekindle their past romance. When the Widow threatens to end Astrid and Rowan House for good, it will take everything Tessa and Astrid have to save Rowan House and keep their love alive, but will it be enough?
“Do you think this is too much?” Tessa tugged her MacLeod tartan bow tie into a tight knot and met Benita’s gaze in the mirror.
“For what? You’re picking her up from the ferry, not taking her to a ball.” Benita smoothed her hands over Tessa’s shoulders and pressed a quick kiss under her ear. “Besides, you look adorable. Good enough to eat.” Benita waggled her eyebrows.
Tessa turned to face her. She leaned her head against Benita’s brow and absorbed her confident tone and love like a sponge. “Thank you.”
Benita stepped back. “Now go. Or Millie will leave your ass standing in the driveway.”
“Oh hell.” Tessa snatched her suit coat off the bed on her way out of the door. She stormed the steps, the clatter of her shoes echoing in the stairwell. She pushed through the kitchen door and skidded to a stop. Robin and Myfanwy turned to look at her. “Millie’s gone?”
“Calm down, love, she’s in the washroom.” Myfanwy crossed the room. She inclined her head toward two picnic baskets and two thermos bottles on the table. “The black thermos and small basket is for Mistress Lepler, the other is for you two. Since you missed breakfast.” Myfanwy raised an eyebrow.
“Sorry.” Tessa’s mouth watered as the scent of warm chocolate laced with the faint tang of orange rose from the baskets. “And thank you.”
Myfanwy frowned. “You all right?”
“Fine. I’m fine. Just nervous.”
Myfanwy lifted her chin. “She’s a Mistress—act accordingly and you’ll be right.”
“Aye, and she’ll be an angry Mistress if we’re late picking her up.” Millie’s voice boomed in the kitchen. She picked up the picnic baskets. “Get the flasks, Tessa.” Millie kissed Myfanwy on the cheek. “I’ll text if we’ll be late.”
“Don’t be. Elaine is on a tear. She wants everything perfect for Mistress Petra’s friend.”
Millie strode out of the kitchen. “When is she not? You heard her, Tessa, ass in gear unless you want to explain to Elaine why we were late.”
Tessa picked up the two thermos bottles and bolted out of the door after Millie.
The gravel crunched under their feet on the way to the garage. Tessa hurried to catch up to Millie’s long strides.
In the garage, Tessa waited while Millie placed the smaller picnic basket on the backseat.
“Put the flask next to it and wedge it so it won’t roll around.” Millie shrugged out of her suit coat.
Tessa placed the black flask next to the smaller basket before opening her door. She passed Millie the other basket and flask of tea.
“Take your jacket off or you’ll look the devil when we get there.”
Tessa shed her suit coat before she entered the car and laid it over the seat next to Millie’s. The leather seat was cool through her shirt, and she shivered. She clenched her fists to stop her hands from trembling.
“The seats will warm up quick once we’re rolling.” Millie turned the key, and the low rumble of the engine filled the car. “Take a breath. We’re not late.” Millie backed the car out of the garage and made the turn out onto the drive. “Did you sleep?”
“You going to tell me why you’re so skittish?” Millie piloted the car down the lane leading away from Rowan House.
Tessa chewed her lip. A storm of emotions squeezed her heart as a swirling montage of images blinded her to the scenery rushing past the car. She picked at the seam of her trousers. The dull ache of a headache eddied behind her eyes. This was a mistake.
“Tessa?” Millie’s gentle prompt broke into Tessa’s spiraling thoughts.
“I haven’t been honest with the Mistresses. I worked with—I mean for Mistress Lepler. I’m an idiot for not telling them.”
“I won’t have you talking badly about yourself, but Tessa, why the devil didn’t you say something before?”
Tessa shifted her gaze to Millie’s profile. “I didn’t want the Mistresses to deny my request to work with her.”
Millie shot Tessa a quick glance before she returned her eyes to the road. “Were you pledged to her?”
“No.” Tessa rolled the crease of her trousers between her fingers. “Nothing like that.” She turned toward the window. “I worked for her for three years, before she let me go and ghosted.”
Millie reached over and squeezed Tessa’s knee. “Mistresses can be a capricious lot.”
“I should’ve told the Mistresses. Elaine knew about Mistress Griffin when she asked me to apply to Rowan House, but I left previous work off my resume.” Tessa rubbed the ache in her stomach. “And then I saw the photo on her application. And I should have told them everything, but I didn’t.” She rocked in her seat. “What if she’s angry?”
“Not that Elaine needs a reason, but I can’t see her being angry over this. Well, not more than usual. She’s settled a bit since she and Robin convinced Petra to pledge to them.”
“I meant Mistress Astrid.”
“What does that matter? You’re not her property. You’re pledged to Rowan House. And I’ll be happy to remind her of it if she forgets.” Millie glanced at Tessa before turning back to the road. “She may be auditioning but she doesn’t have full privileges.”
Millie’s firm tone soothed Tessa’s nerves. She wasn’t alone. Her Rowan House family would always be there. She was loved. For who she was, quirks and all. She laid her hand on Millie’s forearm and squeezed gently. “Thank you. She wasn’t that kind of Mistress. She was more like Mistress Lucia, quiet, but you obeyed.”
“But she abandoned you without explanation? What kind of Mistress does that?” The car shifted sideways as Millie dodged a pothole.
“We didn’t have a contract.” Tessa shifted in the seat. “But we were—we had a—well, I don’t know what you’d call it. At least I thought we had something. But not enough of something for her to keep me, I guess.” Tessa hated the uncertainty in her voice. She rolled her shoulders, stiffened her spine. She wasn’t a wide-eyed, giddy twenty-year old anymore. “And whatever it was, I need to talk to her outside of Rowan House. I don’t want her to feel like she was tricked into something or that I’m going to sabotage her audition.”
“Well, anyone who’d walk out on you is a complete idiot. Get yourself some tea and something to eat. Everything will look better on the other side of a chocolate orange muffin and Two Steps From Hell.” Millie grinned and pressed a button on the steering wheel.
The rich orchestral sounds of “Tokyo Showdown Mania” boomed from the speakers as Tessa unwrapped her still warm muffin. “I swear I’d have pledged to Rowan House just for these muffins.” Millie’s booming laugh filled the car as Tessa settled back into her seat.
Meet the Author
Brenda Murphy (she/her) writes erotic romance. Her most recent novel, Double Six, is the 2020 Golden Crown Literary Society winner for Erotic Novels, and Knotted Legacy, the third book in the Rowan House series, made the 2018 The Lesbian Review’s Top 100 Vacation Reads list. You can catch her musings on writing, books, and living with wicked ADHD on her blog Writing While Distracted. She loves sideshows and tattoos and yes, those are her monkeys. When she is not loitering at her local library, she wrangles twins, one dog, and an unrepentant parrot
I hope you enjoy reading this book as much as I enjoyed writing it. For a free short story, information on book signings, appearances, work in progress snippets, previews and sneak-peeks, sign up for my email list
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