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Bound (Mastered #1)(8)

By:Lorelei James

"What did the cops say?" Chaz asked.


"They're calling it a random act of vandalism since nothing was taken. Which just shows how lucky I am as well as how stupid I am."

"Sweetie. You're the victim here," Emmylou said gently.

Amery twisted her ponytail, a nervous habit from childhood she'd yet to break. "For the random act? Yes. But believing a sheet of glass is adequate protection between the outside world and my business does make me naive."

"You have plans to rectify that?"

"The glass place is installing thicker panes this time. They're also replacing the glass on your side," she said to Emmylou. "Once that's done, I'll have them mount drop-down chain fencing outside both windows. I know they're ugly, but they'll offer another layer of protection. Half the businesses on this block already have them anyway." She closed her eyes. "I don't ever want to relive what I went through last night after the cops called. Where I envisioned my computers with all my client information and projects being ripped off or smashed to bits. And that doesn't include how guilty I'd feel as your landlord if something had happened to either of your workspaces."

She'd been lax in her responsibilities as the building owner because her tenants were her friends. Emmylou rented out the left half of the bottom floor space for her massage studio. Chaz rented the tiny center section for his various artistic enterprises. Amery's graphic design business was on the right bottom half and she lived in the loft that spanned the length of the two-story building.

Emmylou crossed the room and put her arms around Amery. "What can I do? You need a massage?"

"Thanks for the offer, but those magic hands of yours would put me right to sleep. And I have to be alert for the insurance adjuster and the glass repair place to show up."

"As soon as you've signed off on the paperwork, I'll stay until everything is done. It's the least I can do, especially after last night," Molly said.

"Speaking of last night, Molly, how did your self-defense class go?" Chaz asked.

"Great except Amery had to take the class too. She wasn't allowed to be there just for support."

"I wondered how you planned to get past that 'no observation' rule at Black Arts," Emmylou said.

Amery frowned at her. "You knew?"

"Honey, everyone knows that rule," she drawled in her thick Oklahoma accent. 

"Then why did you send Molly there?"

"Because it's the best dojo in Denver. My clients can't speak highly enough of the place, even when they're intimidated by the owner. He's, like, a hundredth-degree black belt or something."

"Amery wasn't intimidated," Molly threw out. "Master Black hauled her out of class first thing. Made her change her pants. Then he worked with her one-on-one for half the class."

Worked with. Ha. The man had picked on her endlessly. "Someone should've told me there was a dress code," Amery mumbled. She'd been so scrambled last night she'd left wearing the borrowed gi pants.

Emmylou's mouth fell open. "You had a run-in with Master Black on your first night?"

"Yeah. Why?"

"Because he doesn't bother with the lower-belt classes. To hear my clients talk, he's some kind of super-samurai throwback. Dangerous. Stealthy. Deadly. Evidently he can sneak up behind you and you'd never know he was there until it was too late."

That wasn't entirely true. Amery had known where Master Black had been at all times last night. She'd felt the weight of his gaze on her-even from the Crow's Nest.

"I'd have to disagree with that statement."

Amery spun around. Holy shit. Master Black lingered just inside the main doorway. A very hot looking Master Black, casually outfitted in jeans and a long-sleeved white T-shirt that set off his coloring to perfection. The ends of his untamed hair brushed his shoulders, giving the impression of wildness lurking beneath his controlled demeanor.

Faced with the devastatingly powerful and sexy whole of him, she was having difficulty breathing. Not only hadn't she ever experienced such a visceral reaction to a man, she couldn't look away from him. But she had the oddest feeling she should drop her gaze, so she did.

After she'd broken the intense eye-fuck, he sauntered forward and offered his hand to Emmylou. "Seems my reputation has preceded me once again, Ms. . . . ?"

"Simmons. But, darlin', you can call me Emmylou. I'm pleased to meet you, Master Black. I have several clients who train at your facility, and they can't speak highly enough of your training programs."