Authors: Joyee Flynn
When the man Golden grew up loving as his father sells him into slavery after his mother’s tragic death, the sheltered Golden must leave all he knows and travel to the dark Withering Woods.
Boris, the oldest of the three bear shifter brothers who bought Golden, makes him want to escape every time he opens his mouth. Boone’s gentle companionship is a welcome relief from Boris’s roughness, but Bash, the youngest, wants nothing to do with him, which might not be such a bad thing considering Boris and Boone want Golden every second… On his back.
Boone seems to be just right, but can Golden fall in love with a man who owns him? If he could, would Boris stay away from Golden’s bed… And would Golden want him to?
Alternative (M/M or F/F), Ménage a Trois/Quatre, Shapeshifter
Copyright © 2012 by Joyee Flynn E-book ISBN: 978-1-62241-239-6
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“ How could you do this to me?” I exclaimed as I threw my plate at my father’s head. I’d never in my life had a single violent tendency but this time he’d gone too far. He ducked the plate and punched it away with his hand. “You can’t do this!”
“ Actually I can, you little shit,” he growled, wrapping his silk handkerchief around the cut in his hand. “You’ve been an embarrassment since the moment you were born.”
“ Why? I have done
you’ve ever asked of me. And what’s my fate because of it? You sold me as a whore?”
“Just like your mother.” My father smirked at me as I clutched my chest. I plopped in my seat in shock at his callous comment. My mother had been buried less than three months and my parents had always been deeply in love.
“What?” I didn’t understand.
“On her deathbed she admitted you’re not mine and made me swear to make sure you were taken care of. I did. I just won’t be the one to take care of you. So, little bastard, you are no longer my problem. Either you can keep fighting with me or you can have a half an hour to gather what you can before I have the carriage take you to your owners.”
“You’re lying. Mother would never have cheated on you,” I whispered, shaking my head in disbelief. I stared at him with tears in my eyes. “Even if it is true, I have always shown you love. You’re my father, you’ve raised me since I was a baby. How could you do this to me? Punish me for her mistake?”
“This is just the final excuse to get rid of you,” he sneered. “If you think this is the only reason you’re an embarrassment I was right about how stupid you are. I can’t marry you off to align myself with any families, nor are you of any use to me to further our family name. Your demented ways can’t be made public without ruining me. So you want to bed men? I sold you to three. Have fun and pack wisely.”
I wasn’t sure how but I got to my feet and stumbled from the dining room. Then I went up the stairs and into my room, pulling out my suitcases. Now I was in a panic. I had a half an hour to pack for the rest of my life. I grabbed every bag I had and first stuffed in everything I wanted to keep of my mother’s. What my father said about her might be true, but I loved her and she had always been good to me.
That took up one bag. I set it by the door and tried to figure what was most important to me. My sketch pad and pencils. I couldn’t live without those and once I was the slave whore for three brothers who knew what they’d ever let me buy. Would they even let me have my own belongings or clothe me?
Right, I needed to bring money I could hide. That one I could handle during the carriage ride. I picked one smaller bag up, placed a travel mending kit in there and every jewel, gem, or piece of gold I had inside. Then I stuffed some shoes in there as well. I could sew them into the lining and soles of the shoes along with a few other pieces of choice clothes.
That filled up another two bags that I would have to make sure were stored inside the carriage with me. Withering Woods was two days’ travel. I needed to use every moment to make plans. Maybe I could find a spot in the woods and bury extra gems in case I needed to run. And that’s when I did something horrid.
I snuck into my mother’s room and took some of her most expensive jewels. Obviously my father wouldn’t treasure her possessions any longer, given he was willing to sell her son. At least maybe they could help me when she couldn’t. I quickly stuffed them in another bag that I wasn’t going to let out of my sight. I threw a few changes of clothes in there as well, hoping my father wouldn’t search through it.
After that it was a flurry of packing. One of my mother’s loyal servants carried all my belongings to the carriage, tears in his eyes the whole time.
“It is important these not be found,” I whispered to him. He nodded his understanding and quickly took the gem-filled bags from my room. I knew he’d hide them under the carriage seat where my father would never think to look. When my time was up I walked out of my house with my head held high, ignoring the smile on my father’s face.
I glanced back at the home where I grew up, picturing my mother standing in the doorway, waving good-bye to me as I took a trip into town. Instead it was the last time I’d ever see my place of birth. She was gone and now I was going to be as well. With a heavy heart I climbed into the carriage, closing the door on that part of my life.
As the carriage moved forward I weighed my options. Could I run? Where would I run to? I was sold into slavery. If I ran I would literally have been a piece of stolen property even if I was the person to steal it. Granted if I could get far enough away no one might think to ever look there for me. But I’d grown up a member of a wealthy family, always staying close to home, learning from tutors. I knew nothing of the real world.
I’d never make it.
As much as I wanted to run just so the people my father sold me to would come looking for him, my life could be much worse on the run. Logically thinking, it probably would. I decided to save it as a last option if life in Withering Woods with three bear shifters was worse than I could have imagined. And my father had sold me to be their whore… I could imagine a lot.
Once we were past my village and out on the deserted road, I pulled out one of the bags from under the carriage seat. I tore stitches out of one of my thickly lined coats and started sewing as many gems into it as I could without it being obvious. I worked until my eyes burned and then sewed back the lining and repacked the coat.
I closed my eyes for a bit, having done more sewing in a few hours than I had done in a year. I just needed a moment to rest before moving on to the next project. It must have been more than a few minutes because I awoke when the carriage stopped.
“I need to rest the horses some, Master Golden,” my mother’s servant, William, informed me as he opened the door. I nodded and stepped down, stretching.
“It will be okay, William. Staying in that house without my mother was too hard anyway,” I assured him. I knew mostly I was trying to be hopeful and convince myself it might not be too bad.
“But you’re being sold, Golden,” he whispered sadly. “Your mother would be turning over in her grave at this news.”
“I promise if they’re anywhere near as horrid as my father, I will run. I’m sewing what I can into the lining of some pieces of clothes. I can always find a spot to bury jewels at my new home.”
“You were never very good at sewing,” he teased, sucking it up for my sake. “Why don’t you drive after the horses are watered and fed some and I’ll work on it a bit. Sometimes the best hiding place is in plain sight where no one would think to look.”
“What do you mean?”
“I can make some of the gems look like costume jewelry and fake broaches, fasteners, and whatnot.”
“Genius!” I hugged him and we hurried to our tasks. We also picked up some bread, cheese, and drinks from the local inn and were on our way. I climbed up the front of the carriage to drive as William got in the back, ignoring the stares that people gave at our switch. Forget them. What people thought and keeping up appearances no longer concerned me.
As I drove down the abandoned dirt path I got lost in thought. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad? I could start over and be the mate to three men… Well, bear shifters. But they were part man after all, right? Either way, I’d always dreamed of being with more than one man, having them want me. It beat having a quick affair here and there when no one was watching as if I had something to be ashamed of always.
And now that I knew the truth about not being my father’s son, I didn’t want to stay in that house. I had told the truth that I had always showed him love. The reverse was not true and I hated living there. My father was a cold, calculating man who cared about nothing but money and my mother when she had been alive. It did surprise me that she would ever stray from him. He had been devoted to her, always giving her everything she could want.
Part of me was angry with her for leaving me when I needed her most and confessing her sin as she did. But I couldn’t ask her what happened or why so I decided I had no place to judge her for her actions. There had to be a reason. And while things had not ended well for me because of it, my journey was not over and maybe I could still find happiness.
Or I really wouldn’t and I was stupid and naïve to ever think otherwise.
I wondered what my real father was like. I knew I got my curly blond hair from my mother, but maybe he had had it as well. Did he have my blue eyes? They weren’t like my mother’s. I was fairerskinned than either of my parents, my mother always blaming the fact that I was born earlier than was normal time for my tendency to burn in the sun.
Now I knew that was a lie. It made me sad because she hadn’t only lied to him but to both of us. I would have liked to have heard the truth from her and known when she met my real father, why she’d slept with him. Hell, I just wanted her back and to make this all go away. Even if I could never meet a nice man and fall in love one day as if I liked women, being alone would beat being sold.
But I wasn’t going to get what I wanted it seemed. Not everyone’s story was a fairy tale.