Authors: Jean Hart Stewart
Sophie’s plans to follow in her mathematician father’s footsteps are destroyed when she witnesses his murder at the hands of his professional rival. The killer, realizing he can profit from her virginity, sells her into slavery—but it doesn’t take long for the handsome, powerful Lars to set his sights on Sophie and orchestrate her freedom with the help of his elven magic.
With her virginity so desired by traders, Sophie asks Lars to take it from her, and during their trip back to his home in England, he teaches her the pleasures of her body, sex and the connection they share. Completely in love, Lars wants to marry her, but Sophie has vengeance on the brain and can think of nothing but facing the man who murdered her father.
Lars, however, will not give up so easily…
Ellora’s Cave Publishing
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Fiery Pursuit Copyright © 2012 Jean Hart Stewart
Edited by April Chapman
Cover design by Dar Albert
Photography: Hunta, Conrado/Shutterstock.com
Electronic book publication February 2012
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Jean Hart Stewart
Stephen Mallory stared at his downed rivals on the floor, his face contorted with triumph. One lay in an ungainly sprawl of death, while the other’s tantalizing breasts moved in shallow breaths. Not only had he managed to kill his most formidable academic rival, but he’d overcome and chloroformed his desirable daughter. The girl he’d lusted after for months. He’d never planned on Sophia hearing their argument, let alone come barging into the room to protect her father. She’d doubtless seen him plunge the dagger into his rival. Well, he’d planned to subdue her sooner or later, but not until she was his wife.
Damn this added complication. Perhaps a forced marriage? His groin tightened at the thought of holding her down by any means necessary. It would be a pleasure to conquer her any way he could. His cock swelled at the thought of plunging into her again and again while she fought to hold him off. But she was feisty and he wouldn’t want to mar her beauty. He’d probably need another man to still her while he took his delight in that gorgeous body. He leaned over, caressing the delightful curves, now totally at his pleasure. He took the cap and snood from her hair, and drew a deep breath as the most glorious blonde hair he’d ever seen was revealed.
Fingering the silky mass, he felt his cock swell even larger. He forced himself to step back. He needed to think now, decide what to do on the basis of his mind, not his cock.
He opened her blouse and ran his hands along her body, thinking furiously even as he fingered her firm breasts and nipples, his breathing coming ever more quickly.
Then his mind started functioning, slowing his groping hands.
Even if she agreed to marry him, which was doubtful since she’d seen him strike the killing blow, she’d never give him the information he wanted. That brilliant mind of hers would rebel against helping her father’s murderer unless he somehow forced her. He could tie her down and plunder her body, but he wasn’t sure he could control her mind. Rape might not be enough to get her under his complete control. The damned bitch would likely rush off to the authorities unless he somehow imprisoned her for life.
Staring at her seductive beauty, Mallory decided he didn’t want to kill her. It would be such a damn shame. He fondled her almost absently, wondering what to do, his erection diminishing as he pondered.
Pacing the room, he considered his options. Marriage wasn’t the answer then. Torture, of course, but even he balked at deforming that perfect face and body. She’d defy him to the end, and he’d be forced to take measures that might spoil her even for him. Not that he’d hesitate if that were the answer, but he needed her bright mind also. Still, her knowledge of the murder was a menace and must be dealt with.
Regrettably, he couldn’t afford to let her live.
Or could he? He flexed his hands, all the while devouring her beauty with gloating eyes. How could he kill such beauty and brilliance?
An idea formed, one that made him feel like shouting in triumph. Of course. First he’d fuck her over and over, again and again. Once he got the craving for her cunt out of his system he’d sell her into slavery. His shady connections would stand him in good stead in this case since he didn’t want to murder her. Weak of him, perhaps, but there it was.
He sat again beside the unconscious girl and let his hands roam with licentious interest over the body that would send any man wild. Sophia didn’t stir. He frowned. Damned if this was much fun when she didn’t even cringe. Damned if his erection didn’t lessen a little at the bitch’s stillness.
He’d craved her body for a long time. Then an unwelcome thought shadowed his devious mind. If he allowed his craving full range and plundered her here and now it wouldn’t satisfy him. He wanted her to feel every stroke of his pounding cock. But Arab potentates paid huge sums for blue-eyed virgin beauties. A blonde like this would bring him a fortune. In turn, he could use the money to give him all the necessary time to decipher her father’s cryptic notes and claim the formulas as his own. She’d be gone and could not dispute him. Then maybe she’d no longer distort his thinking with the longing he’d been unable to satisfy.
And he’d know her life was one of living horror.
His brilliant revenge would be sweet on both Sophia and her double-damned father, Dr. Matthew Masters, now dead and no longer the foremost mathematician in the western world.
He, Stephen Mallory, would now proudly claim that honor and relish the acclaim. But first he’d see the disdainful Sophia into a hell of his choosing.
Mallory threw back his head and laughed. He tied Sophia’s hands behind her back, gave her another whiff of chloroform and picked up his snakeskin cane. He knew which grungy tavern to visit to find the man he wanted.
Lars stood at the fringes of the slave auction, knowing he’d been directed there for a reason, but not yet sure why. His authoritative bearing assured him a favorable view, even though he said not a word. He usually avoided the raucous scene when in Constantinople, but his elfin inner voice told him this was where he should be. On a typically hot Turkish morning, there were some sheikhs in their turbans and long gowns, their attendants plying fans to cool their masters. Others were eunuchs sent to bid in their sheikh’s name. A colorful, murmuring crowd, waiting for some event Lars couldn’t yet comprehend. Elves’ perceptions, sharper than humans, would help him and he’d soon pick up a clue.
Lars started toward the auction block, taking it for granted that a way would open. One group stood gossiping in excitement and did not at first see him.
“She’s reputed to be the most beautiful slave to ever appear in Constantinople. With curves that would drive a mullah wild.”
“Not likely,” another scoffed. “But still worth taking the time to look.”
“And she’s guaranteed to be a virgin.”
The first man gave another snort. “How likely is that if she’s a slave?”
They suddenly noticed Lars and stopped their gossip to make way for him. Everyone in Constantinople knew this man. A Britisher who was an inner confidant of the Caliph. A man of mysterious and most unusual appearance, in spite of his Arab robes. Straight and well-built with an air of unstoppable strength. Rumored to have peaked ears that his turban hid. An elf of unknown power. Murmured apologies followed him as he made his way to the front of the crowd.
“Your pardon, effendi.”
“My apologies, effendi.”
Lars nodded to them all and strolled to a spot directly in front of the auction block.
Slim and muscled, he exuded a daunting strength. He was tall for an elf, a fraction over six feet. His bloodline stemmed from Scandinavian elves and his light brown hair fell thickly to his shoulders. It covered his ears, even when they were at their most pointed. He could control when his ears peeked through and let his elfish tips show only when he wished. It added to his mystery. His leashed strength, combined with a piercing gaze, kept most men at a distance. A sense of indomitable belief in justice for all gave him a formidable aura of power beyond even that of his elfin authority. His moral superiority was a shield in itself.
The auction was well advanced. Several husky male slaves cordoned off to the side caught his eye. Nearly naked, they would bring a good price to men who craved sex from their own kind. Was one of them why he was here?
Suddenly his whole body went alert. A beautiful girl, eyes flashing with indignation, was shoved onto the stage. Not gently, as her handlers fairly gritted their teeth to keep from punching her to the ground.
Lars’ every sense quickened. By any standard, she was gorgeous. Her beautiful hair, its gold shade so light it seemed a white tinted with yellow, was piled high on her head and bound with a cord, and her eyes were so blue as to mesmerize any man. A sensuously thin shift ending at mid-thigh barely covered her lithesome figure. As he watched, one of the handlers reached up and untied the string binding her hair. The silken cloak of locks flowed almost to her waist, showing highlights of palest yellow in the hot Asian sun. Murmurs of appreciation swelled as the men observed her and lusted for her lovely face and body. She was a prize to send any male into amorous anticipation. The bidding would be high, indeed.
Lars didn’t move. He’d never experienced such a strong physical reaction at the first sight of a female. Amazed at the swelling in his groin, he stared at her. Entranced by her beauty, he barely heard the auctioneer. Every sense screamed to him that she was the reason he’d been summoned to this spot. Of course she was the one he was to rescue. This mission might be more pleasurable than most.
Lars closed his eyes in anger so potent he could barely hold still. Her legs were marred from two whip marks scarring them back and front. He sent her a soft healing touch, and then composed himself. His mission was to rescue her. He had not a doubt. His rampant body assured him he was right. His cock swelled just from gazing at her lovely face and body. He blessed his flowing Arab robes.
Her handlers turned her loose but stood beside her, each with a beefy hand on her shoulder. She started to shake them off, then quieted as if she realized she was helpless. Staring with blank eyes, she stood quivering as murmurs of appreciation for her rare beauty spread through the audience. Her urge to run was almost palpable to Lars, and he gentled her again. The auctioneer let the noise swell. No one doubted this girl would bring an unheard-of price to her master. Probably no man there possessed a concubine of such unusual beauty, and the bidding would be brisk. Lars did not stir. He doubted he’d brought enough money with him to be the highest bidder. He also didn’t doubt he’d be the winner in the end, one way or another. Silently, he watched the excited auctioneer skillfully manage the bidding. As Lars expected, the sum grew astronomical, even for a group of wealthy sheikhs. Probably each one longed to get her in his own bed.
Lars shuddered. None would show her much consideration. A few would plunder her body without mercy and each would sequester her in his harem where she’d be kept for his intermittent pleasure. She’d be lost in a world she didn’t understand and broken by her captivity.
Lars waited. He’d been sent here to rescue this beautiful girl, and rescue her he would. It was only a matter of patience. Suddenly he tensed at the sign he’d been waiting for. Jahiz, the huge chief eunuch of the Caliph, Ibn Saud, appeared at the back of the crowd, towering over the others and easily wending his way as men automatically stepped aside to let him through. The auctioneer stopped short. If Ibn Saud wanted this girl, of course he would get her.
A formidable complication.
Jahiz held up his hand and in an imperious voice demanded, “Why is the bidding so high for this concubine?”
The auctioneer salaamed and answered in a quick, nervous voice. “While she will soon be a concubine, as of now she is an untried virgin. Is your esteemed master interested, effendi?”
Lars saw the girl’s throat muscles gather as if she meant to spit at the auctioneer, and he stilled her at once. He compelled her startled look to him, and silently told her he would take care of her. That she heard him he did not doubt, but he also saw her slight sneer and knew she discounted what she was hearing as an illusion. Still she quieted as Jahiz walked up the steps to the platform. Her captors let their hands fall and stood back and Jahiz slowly walked around her. Coming again to face her, he took her face between his huge hands and looked deeply into her eyes. She never flinched, although a delicate blush suffused her body as he stared.
“My master will pay five gold pieces above the highest bid. Send her to his villa immediately. And do not whip her again. He will be most displeased if she has another mark on her.”
Lars watched as the big eunuch marched away grandly, and the crowd started to disperse. The girl’s guards consulted briefly, and then standing on each side marched her from the auction platform and escorted her through the throng.
No one made a move to touch her as she passed. She might have been a slave, but she was now the property of the Caliph.
The ruler of all power in Constantinople.
Lars smiled. How fortunate he dined with Ibn Saud every time he came to Constantinople. Jahiz had noticed him, even though he’d given no outward sign. His invitation would be waiting for him when he reached the inn he’d frequented on other visits. Ibn Saud’s spy network was matchless. He’d be breaking bread—or, in this case, dining sumptuously with the Caliph. A luxurious setting for his coming duel of wits with Ibn Saud, the Caliph of Constantinople.
The Caliph was not about to let a visit from an elf of great power go unnoticed. Not when Lars had entered the mind of Jahiz to remind him.
His own mind teeming with plans, he left the auction and walked to the inn. He must conduct himself most carefully indeed.
* * * * *
The meal at the Caliph’s palace proved every bit as sumptuous as Lars expected. The two men were alone, except for the eunuchs guarding the Caliph, and the houris serving the food. The eunuchs stood motionless at the sides of the room, and the beautiful houris never raised their eyes, although their almost-nude bodies undulated sinuously as they moved back and forth. Persian music came from behind a screen inlaid with gold and elaborately painted with colorful peacocks.
Lars loved Turkish food, but in spite of his good appetite he could not do more than sample most of the constantly offered dishes—the vegetables and salads, fennel and bulgur, tomatoes with shallots and mint, yogurt with beets, eggplant and lentil. Lamb was presented with an unending variety of delicious dishes, along with Turkish sausage. Raki and varieties of wine along with a vast array of dessert. Lars took two of his favorites, baklava and almond rice custard. He’d never cared much for the black sweetened tea but he relished the potent Turkish coffee. Although he ate a prodigious amount, knowing anything else would be interpreted as an insult, he thought Ibn Saud managed to outdo him. His supposition was confirmed when the Caliph turned to him.
“You did not like our food tonight, my friend? Usually you can keep up with me, but tonight I think not.”
Seeing the look of triumph Ibn Saud projected, Lars deemed it wise to acknowledge his host’s superiority.
“Surely, your highness, you are an exceptional trencherman. I salute you!”
Ibn Saud looked puzzled. “Trench-er-man, I do not know this word.”
Lars smiled. “Trencherman is a very British term. It means you can eat as much or more than anyone at the table. And enjoy your triumph.”
The Caliph laughed. “Then I am indeed pleased to be a better trench-er-man than you.”
He motioned for a water pipe and started sucking on it. Lars waved the offer of one away and sat back, suspecting his host would now get down to business.
“It is always a pleasure to see you, my friend Lars. But I’m a little puzzled that this visit comes so soon after your last one. That time you took a strapping white slave away with you. I was almost displeased.”
Lars understood the hint without flicking even one eyelid. He was being told to keep his hands off the Caliph’s business in the future. And especially his slaves.
Too bad that was now an impossibility. Lars meant to take away his most recent and prized slave, the beautiful latest addition to his harem.
“Perhaps I will have a water pipe after all,” he said in his most pleasant voice. “And might I remove my turban? I do not like to bind my ears for long, as you know.”
Ibn Saud looked at him sharply, then clapped his hands to summon a slave.
“As you wish, my friend,” he said. His words held an undertone Lars understood too well.
He’d definitely have to use his powers. A shame, as he feared he’d lose a powerful friend and one he valued as a person. For a man of his upbringing and power, Ibn Saud had interesting qualities, an intelligent mind, an often suppressed emotional understanding, and a surprisingly humane treatment of his harem.
Lars quickly unwound his turban, his long hair flowing to his shoulders. With a shake of his head, he let his ears peak through. There were slight gasps from the houris and Ibn Saud glared at them.
Both men puffed on their pipes, each knowing there was something to come, and reluctant to approach anything disharmonious.
Finally Lars put his pipe aside.
“I was at the auction today, Your Excellency. The slave you purchased is indeed a treasure. I would enjoy the privilege of seeing her again.”
Ibn Saud kept puffing, but his eyes narrowed.
“But you have already seen her, have you not? Surely you remember her beauty.”
“Her beauty is such a man could scarcely forget.”
Lars’ heart had plummeted a little even as he’d tried to make his answer smooth and conciliatory. The Caliph’s stance made it plain his suspicions were roused. This would be tricky indeed.
Ibn Saud relaxed although it was plain he hadn’t decided what to do. Lars didn’t doubt the eventual outcome. The pressure Lars exerted on his will, plus his innate desire to show off his possessions, won the day.
He clapped his hands, and a slave scurried forward and touched his forehead to the ground before his master, listening as the Caliph told him to bring the new slave.
“If she is still in her bath tell Jahiz to make her presentable and bring her at once.”
He turned to Lars, his satisfaction and anticipation plain.
“She has been undergoing relaxing massages and herbal wraps. Her hair has been washed with the finest of perfumed soap. I ordered it not to be cut. She should now be ready to be presented to me. I had a glimpse of her as Jahiz brought her in, although she did not know this. Now we shall both see this beauty, shall we not, my friend?”
Lars merely nodded. Of course he needed to see the girl again, but the fact she was already being treated as a favorite could complicate matters. But of course Ibn Saud wanted her perfumed and ready for the coming night of deflowering her and breaking her to his licentious will. He waited for the Caliph to speak. Men revealed more than they meant when they spoke to fill a blank space.