Owned By Fate ONLY
a SREVE novel by New York Times bestselling author Tessa Bailey
Journalist Caroline Preston arrives at Serve, New York City’s hottest BDSM club, with one goal—to hate it. If her brother wasn’t trying to turn the family’s respectable financial magazine into a publication that features “lifestyle” pieces for the wealthy and adventurous, she wouldn’t even be there, trying to write an article about a world she doesn’t understand.
But then she sees him.
Jonah Briggs doesn’t leave his post for just anyone. As the owner of the club, his sole purpose is to ensure that his clientele get everything they need, but when he sees Caroline, his only thought is what he wants—to dominate the sexy little reporter and give the most exquisite pleasure she’s ever experienced.
Caroline has no intention of entering that particular lion’s den—not with her family’s reputation at stake—no matter how dark, sexy, and complex the lion in question may be. But with every encounter, she craves more, and with every slide of his lips, she realizes Jonah might just be the man to break down all her defenses…if she’ll let him.
Title: Owned By Fate
Series: Serve, #1
Author: Tessa Bailey
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 236 pages
Release Date: September 2014
Price listed is for the U.S. digital format. Please confirm pricing and availability with the retailer before downloading.
Additional novels in the Serve mini-series by various authors:
Book one: Owned by Fate
Book two: Exposed by Fate
Book three: Mistaken by Fate
Book four: Betting On Fate
Book five: Driven by Fate
Book six: Protecting Fate
Book seven: Rules of Seduction
Book eight: Bind Me Before You Go
An Excerpt from:
Owned by Fate
by Tessa Bailey
Copyright © 2014 by Tessa Bailey. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means. For information regarding subsidiary rights, please contact the Publisher.
“So, a respected financial journalist and an award-winning interior designer walk into a BDSM club…” Caroline Preston trailed off as she perused her surroundings with typical Manhattan coolness, wondering where they’d stashed the stockades.
“And nothing. That’s the entire joke.”
Eliza, Caroline’s best friend since their days at Columbia, chuckled under her breath. “We just walked in. Try and last a minute before condemning it.” They climbed onto plush leather chairs at the ultra-sleek bar. “Who knows? You might even—gasp—have a good time.”
Caroline sent her a skeptical look. “One drink, and then we go get dumplings and fro-yo. That was the deal.”
“You’re forgetting that I’m here because you asked me to come.” Eliza tried to place a credit card on the bar, but Caroline beat her to it and signaled the bartender to start
a tab. “Any other Friday night, I would have been in my pajamas watching HGTV, operating under the delusion that my career is more fulfilling than a social life.”
“Is there room under your delusion umbrella for one more?”
“Why? You’ve got your own.”
Caroline threw a good-natured scowl at her friend before leaning back in her chair to scrutinize the nightclub. It was a seamless mélange of grays, whites, blacks, and purples. Stainless steel fixtures provided minimal light, somehow dimming the volume of conversations to a collective purr in the darkness. Located in the Meatpacking District, just across the street from the Hudson, Serve appeared to be one of the many exclusive nightclubs in the area. The first floor gave that impression, anyway. Red velvet ropes, darkened windows, bouncers with earpieces looking judgmental. But everyone, even Caroline, knew what happened on the three floors above. Three floors that catered to guests with more… interesting tastes.
Well. Interesting to someone else, maybe. Just not her.
She’d only set foot in the place for one express purpose. To hate it. So far, no issues on that front. Although Caroline had to admit that the clientele surprised her. As a financial journalist, she rubbed elbows daily with Wall Street’s elite, which appeared to be Serve’s main demographic. Men who possessed that typical boardroom-executive bearing were tucked into shadowy corners, whispering in the ears of women wearing stylish, expensive clothes. Did they know what lurked above them? They must. People such as these didn’t walk into any situation without inspecting all angles, right?
Caroline’s shoulders drooped a little, remembering why she’d come. Her family’s esteemed financial magazine, Preston’s Daily Finance, was tanking. They were one month, tops, from declaring bankruptcy.
They’d spent weeks scrambling, trying to find new advertisers and even downsizing the staff. It wasn’t enough. Everything had seemed hopeless until her brother, Oliver, arrived at the board’s weekly meeting with a patently insane idea. He’d found someone willing to bail out the magazine. A Manhattan-based publisher of lifestyle magazines wanted to revamp Preston’s, combining finance with more exotic, adventurous themes directed at the wealthy.
Of course, she and her father had dismissed the idea as absurd, but Oliver had been dogged, insisting it would be a lucrative venture. It had given Caroline pause, seeing him so passionate about something, a total departure from his usual laid-back demeanor. So while her father had voted no outright, Caroline, the only other board member beside her brother, had agreed on a trial run of sorts.
She wouldn’t be trying out the amenities herself. God, no. She’d be doing what she did best. Writing what she saw. They would publish a short feature about Serve in the current version of their magazine and observe the fallout. Knowing there wasn’t a chance in hell of a positive response, the situation was a win-win for her. She didn’t cut her brother, who she loved, off at the knees. Plus, this risky and downright ridiculous idea went away pronto.
So here she was. Taking mental notes for a story on a place that specialized in bondage and domination. Not her typical Friday night.
Drinks being placed on the bar in front of her and Eliza brought Caroline back to the present. She raised an eyebrow at the red lollipop–garnished martini. Combined with the low strains of Tom Waits drifting across the spacious lounge and several discreet cage-themed fixtures adorning the walls, Caroline concluded the owner must have an odd sense of humor. One would have to, she reasoned, to build a business model on the foundation of spankings.
She chuckled under her breath at the thought.
“What prompted that sinister-as-hell laugh?”
“Nothing. I’m just wondering if there’s some sort of spanking sign-up sheet being passed around.”
Eliza took a testing sip of her drink and made a pleased sound at the taste. “I think it’s more of a conversation system.”
“Your hand, my ass…let’s do this. That type of thing?”
“Compelling, Caroline. I actually have goose bumps.”
They traded smirks. “Oh, come on. I don’t want to live in a world where spankings come with legal disclaimers.”
“You do everything else by the book. Why not outline the terms of your own booty bashing?”
Caroline nearly spit out her drink. “Don’t ever say that again.” She shook her head. “And I wouldn’t consider, on my worst day, having my…booty bashed—”
“Oh, you can say it?”
“—by some random weirdo wearing a clown mask.”
Eliza held up a hand. “Okay, wait. What the fuck are you talking about?”
Caroline pushed her hair over her shoulder. “Look. I might have ended up on some weird websites this afternoon. You know how I like to do my research. The point is—” She
held up a finger when Eliza started to interrupt. “Dumplings. The point is dumplings.”
Eliza melted back into her seat with a pensive expression. “Caroline, I love a good dumpling. You know this about me.” She tapped the rim of her martini glass with her index finger. “But we never let ourselves…go. Shouldn’t girls our age engage in the occasional fling? You know, embrace our sexual freedom and give our middle finger to the man?”
“What are you saying? You want to be spanked by a clown?”
“No more talk of clowns.” Eliza shivered. “Besides, I think I’m more of a flogging girl.”
Caroline did a double take.
“What? You’re the only one who can do research?”
“N-no, of course not.” Caroline studied her best friend. They’d been inseparable since freshman year at Columbia when they’d been paired as roommates. She knew when Eliza was being serious. This appeared to be one of those times. “A fine time to spring this on me. We could have started small. Pottery classes or something.”
That got the desired laugh. “Listen, all I’m saying is, if the opportunity presents itself…I might consider going upstairs and—”
“Buy you a drink?”
Eliza and Caroline swiveled around to face the newcomer, a gorgeous, dark-haired man with a teasing smile and a hint of a British accent. He looked them both over with interest but winked at Eliza, who flushed red straight to the roots of her blond hair. “S-sure.”
“Perfect. On one condition. You bring it with you when we dance.” His grin was slow and sexy. “You don’t mind if I
steal her for a bit, right?”
Eliza widened her blue eyes at Caroline and gave a subtle headshake. In other words, Don’t be a cock block. She couldn’t exactly say no, could she? Even if her worst nightmare consisted of sitting alone in this den of iniquity for an interminable length of time while Eliza got her freak on. After her friend’s speech about feeling restless in their predictability, she had a feeling upstairs was exactly where the duo would be headed. She’d barely had time to process her friend’s newly adventurous outlook before the dark- haired Brit had appeared. She recalled Eliza’s words, though, and they echoed now in her head. We never let ourselves go. If her friend wanted to subject herself to humiliation in the name of spontaneity, who was she to stop her? Later, though, they’d be having a heart-to-heart.
“Oh, go ahead.” Caroline gave the man a once over, memorizing his features in case she ever had to pick him out of a lineup. “He looks like Gavin Rossdale resurrected from the nineties. You can hardly say no.”
Eliza beamed. “Be back soon. Promise.”
“I’ll be here.” Caroline flounced back in her seat and watched the two disappear into the darkness of the dance floor. They were immediately swallowed by the writhing crowd.
Since Caroline and Eliza’s arrival, the music had increased in volume, dozens of customers apparently feeling loose enough from their alcohol consumption to dance. Bodies were pressed together intimately, some even kissing.
Caroline swung her attention back to the bar, pretending to be immersed in her drink. With one hand, she swirled the red lollipop, creating a mini-whirlpool in her martini. At least she’d have time to pepper the bartender with questions about what it was like to work in a place like this.
When a solid male figure leaned against the bar beside her, she tried not to look up, even though she could feel his gaze on her. She didn’t want to make eye contact with any member of the opposite sex. He might talk to her, and she’d inevitably be forced to rebuff his awkward advances.
But he smelled like Red Vines. Not a hint of spicy cologne or laundry detergent. Just red licorice.
Caroline had always been inquisitive, even from an early age. Hence the journalism degree framed above her office desk. Inconsistencies drew her. She needed to make sense out of this guy who smelled so different from every other musky-scented man in the club. That was the only reason she looked up.
Her gaze stayed locked on him for several more compelling reasons.
In addition to being curious by nature, Caroline had an odd habit of matching people she met with their celebrity look-alike. Eliza was a blond Alexis Bledel, post–Gilmore Girls, pre–Traveling Pants. Her brother, Oliver, resembled a taller, darker version of Chris Pine. This guy looked like no one. As she’d suspected, he was regarding her steadily through narrowed eyes. In the dim lighting, she couldn’t discern their color, but she guessed a deep brown. His light chestnut-colored hair was parted on one side, slightly damp and pushed over in one direction, as if he’d begun to slick it down, then forgot. His nose appeared to have been broken once or twice, something you might not notice unless you were searching for flaws. Components of him were imperfect, but somehow when combined, he was…extraordinary.
Caroline decided she could admit that irritating fact and still sleep soundly tonight. As long as she didn’t let him know she’d thought it. Bottom line, if he was in this place, he wasn’t the type of person she wanted to associate with. She gave a cursory glance to his wide shoulders, noting that his casual posture did nothing to detract from his overall ruggedness, and went back to staring into her drink.
She felt a shiver pass down her spine when his baritone voice filled the space between them. “Are you going to suck it? Or just play with it all night?”