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This Is Who I Am (Masters of the Shadowlands, #7)

This Is Who I Am (Masters of the Shadowlands, #7) - Cherise Sinclair ETA 5/14/13: Excerpt from Cherise's websiteExcerpt for 'This Is Who I Am'Flanked by Raoul and Kim, Linda walked into the exclusive BDSM club known as the Shadowlands. Light from wrought-iron sconces flickered ominously over the dungeon equipment lining the walls. The overwhelming scents of leather, sweat, and sex slapped into her and stole her breath. The sounds of pain were like a kick to her stomach. Even the music held a savage bite.At least no one would see her reactions—or who she was. The black mask she wore concealed her face, leaving only her lips and eyes revealed. Now, if she could only get her feet to move. The little voice inside her screaming get me out of here grew louder.When Raoul put his hand on her shoulder, she jumped. “Chiquita.” His dark brown eyes were worried. “You would be safe in the Shadowlands, no matter what. But you’re also with me.”“Thank you.” Considering the man had more muscles than the beach had sand, he was a reassuring presence.“Linda, let’s go home,” Kim said. “We don’t have to stay.” Her blue corset matched her eyes, and her black collar held a silver engraving: Master Raoul’s gatita. Of all the women in captivity, Kim had seemed the least likely to want to be a slave. But the love between her and Raoul was so strong it almost shimmered. Somehow, Kim had moved on and found happiness.Linda hadn’t. Even worse, she was unraveling as emotions ripped through her. She cringed at the sound of a paddle against flesh. A woman’s screams made her hands turn cold and numb. As the trembling in her belly worked outward, her knees started to shake. She couldn’t escape the memories of horrors. This was the stupidest thing she’d ever done.“Raoul.” A gray-eyed man blocked their way, and his gaze swept over her face, her shoulders, her hands. “What are you doing? She’s terrified.”Well, sheesh. She could have sworn she’d hidden her fear fairly well.“She wanted to come,” Kim protested, then closed her mouth when Raoul tugged her collar.The stranger was lean and graceful, wearing all black as a Dom would—only he had no need to wear black to establish his authority. Power surrounded him like the scent of aftershave. “You must be Linda. Little one, you should go home.”Raoul squeezed her shoulder. “Linda, this is Master Z. He agreed to give you a temporary membership, and he’s the reason you are safe here.”“It’s nice to meet you, Master Z.” So this was the infamous Master Z who owned the Shadowlands. She swallowed. Kim hadn’t come close to describing how intimidating the man was. “Kim’s right. I wanted to come.”He lifted an eyebrow in an unspoken command to continue. In just one night at that other club, she’d discovered how a Dom in full command mode could turn her spine into jelly.“I wanted…” Why had it been easier to explain to Raoul, even if she hadn’t explained everything? “Wanted to remind myself that people do this for fun. Consensually.”“You want to replace the images in your head with better ones,” he said gently.“That’s it.” And maybe find someone to hurt me. God, that sounded so sick.He held his hand out, and her fingers were in his grip before she realized she’d moved. He studied her for a minute, then nodded. “All right, Linda. I think you have the strength, but don’t push yourself into a panic attack.” He arched a brow at Kim. “Your companions are quite familiar with the symptoms.”Kim actually giggled. The beautiful sound showed that healing could happen, even after horrors.“I’ll be careful,” Linda said.“Very good.” He released her hand and moved off with the lethal grace of a big cat.Linda blew out a breath and glanced at Kim. “Well. You tried to warn me.” If nothing else, Master Z had broken into her nightmare and got her moving again.Kim grinned. “And you didn’t believe me.”Linda laughed and looked around. The place was certainly different from the one she’d gone to before. True, her single visit to a BDSM club hardly made her an authority, but she’d spent hours there before doing anything. This place was more expensive. The equipment was padded with leather, the burnished hardwood floors reflected the flickering of the wrought-iron sconces. The general populace was older and quieter, although—she enjoyed the spectacle of a woman in a full catsuit followed by a naked submissive—the costumes were just as outrageous.“Do you want to wander around or settle somewhere?” Kim glanced over Linda’s shoulder, and her eyes widened. “Uh, let’s just go to the bar.”Linda turned. The nearest scene was a man on a St. Andrew’s cross with a Mistress putting clamps on his nipples. The spiderweb next to it held a restrained submissive struggling to evade the flick of a crop. Then a spanking scene. Then several people watching a Dom with a flogger.When the Dom turned slightly, Linda’s lungs felt as if they were being pinched in wickedly tight clamps. Sam. Sam was here. She’d forgotten the dangerous vibe he gave off in dominant mode. Almost half a foot taller than her five-seven, he wore black jeans, black boots, a black belt, and a black flannel shirt with the sleeves rolled up. His silvery hair didn’t make him look old—just really, really experienced.He was using a full-sized, heavy flogger with brown leather strands. No fancy colors for him. The woman on the cross was in tears, her back reddened. As Sam flogged the blonde with a smooth rhythm, Linda wanted to hate him for inflicting such pain.Yet, as the woman went up on tiptoes, she pushed her bottom back to get more. Her face gleamed with sweat and tears, but her half-agonized, half-blissful expression was that of a masochist getting what she wanted.I want it too. Linda felt like a shaken soda with the cap screwed on too tightly to let out the increasing pressure. Pain might give her a way to open up and spew everything out. I need that.Not with Sam though. No no no. And yet… She shivered and wrapped her arms around herself over her silky shirt. Watching him with a woman made her feel odd. Wanting and angry and unsettled. After a minute, she forced herself to turn away. Thank heavens she’d worn a mask.Raoul was watching her, his dark eyes narrowed. “Shall I find you a Dom to play with?”How had Kim found someone so sweetly protective? But she wouldn’t—couldn’t—have another person make those choices for her again. “Thank you, but I’d rather choose my own if I decide to…do anything.”And she’d be very careful. She’d pick a sadist, but not one who was also a Dominant. During her night at the club, the Dom she’d spoken to had told her she was submissive as well as a masochist. As if one perversion wasn’t enough, I’ve got two.But it had been Sam who had showed her how a powerful Dom could push her limits—could go past her limits. At the auction, she could have handled being whipped, but he’d done…more. Damn him.“As you wish. Then let us have something to drink while you decide.” After pulling Kim to his side, Raoul guided them to the bar.Linda glanced longingly at the bottles of tequila, scotch, and rum.Raoul shook his head. “You may have water or a soda.” He turned to Kim and settled her on a bar stool, kissing her hair lightly.But I want a drink. Linda sighed but had to admit he was right. Alcohol, in this place, might do as much harm as good. She needed to stay on top of things. In control.The bartender’s assistant came over to get their orders. As Kim talked with her, Linda looked over her shoulder at Sam. Again.He’d finished the scene. The blonde with spiky hair who might have looked tough at one time was trying to bury herself in his chest. When he rubbed her undoubtedly tender back and she cried harder, he grinned. Definitely a sadist. But a caring one. And strong. She remembered the steel-like feeling of his arms. He might be in his fifties, but he was all bone and muscle.A shiver ran up Linda’s spine.ETA 4/12/13: We have a title and a release date ... In May no less!! I'm so anxious for Sam's book! More Masters!! Woohoo! Can't wait! :DFrom the author's website:I’ll wander back to the Shadowlands and see what comes next for Master Sam. Damn sadist. His story was supposed to be finished up in To Command and Collar. I should know that a Dom never does what you expect.