Title: The Gilded Cage
Author: Lauren Smith
Series: Surrender #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: June 9, 2015Summary:
Passion that takes no prisoners, and love that tests the limits of ecstasy . . .
Fenn Lockwood comes alive in the shadows. Though he might have physically survived the kidnapping that stole his childhood, the trauma and pain he lived through have marked him forever. Now the only place where Fenn can be himself is within the walls of his private BDSM world—a place of erotic obsession, where desire isn’t just captured . . . it’s bound.
Hayden Thorne knows that behind Fenn’s hardened exterior is a man worth fighting for. Yet to save him from the past that still haunts him, Hayden will have to abandon every inhibition she’s ever had and venture into Fenn’s intoxicatingly sensual world. Each tantalizing second she spends in Fenn’s searing embrace is more delicious than the last and soon Hayden begins to think that she may never want to leave such torturous bliss . . .
The bull charged down the metal rail-lined run and into the narrow chute. Fenn Smith gripped the rusted railing and pushed his hat down harder on his head as he studied the beast.
Tabasco. A black bull with the temper of the devil himself. Just the sort of brute that would give him one hell of a wicked ride. The crowds in the stadium shouted and hollered encouragement as he maneuvered over the top rail and onto the beast. The stadium lights created a glare over the tan sand and heated Fenn’s body despite the cool weather. Sliding himself down over the bull, he carefully settled on its back. It kicked and fidgeted, but there wasn’t enough room to buck.
Fenn tightened his gloves on his hands and wiped away a fresh line of sweat off his brow. The beast between his legs tensed, every raw bit of muscle rippling and tightening as it waited for the moment the gate would spring open and it could toss him.
“Give him hell, Smith!” One of several bull riders hanging on the side of the chute called out to him.
He laughed and smacked his hand on the bull’s neck. He planned to do just that. If there was one thing he could do, it was ride bulls.
Fenn gripped the braided bull-rope that was wrapped around Tabasco’s flanks. The resin-treated rope would be easier to grip the more heated it became during the stress of the ride. A good thing because Tabasco was a notorious head-down spinner. Like a whirling dervish, he threw more men off in any given rodeo season in the state of Colorado. Men traveled from all over the country to ride him. Some bulls bucked straight ahead, others spun in circles. The key was to watch a bull a few weeks before you planned to ride him and get a feel for his style. Fenn had spent the last two months studying Tabasco. He couldn’t afford to make a mistake tonight, not when everything depended on this ride.
Shifting his weight, he kept his dominant hand in an underneath grip on the bull rope and sat as close as he could to his hands. He leaned forward so that his chest was almost over the bull’s shoulders.
“Riding now is Fenn Smith, a Walnut Springs native. He’s competing for the grand prize, a cash award of fifty thousand dollars. The bull is Tabasco, rated by our rodeo staff as one of the tougher rides here tonight.”
Fenn ignored the announcer’s opening speech and focused on the ride. The scents of cheap beer, hay, and manure, aromas he’d grown up with, were strong yet comforting. This was his town, his stadium. He could do this. He had to do this. Visualizing the ride, he pictured the way he’d have to read the bull’s body language to stay on for eight seconds. Just eight seconds.
Fifty thousand dollars. It was enough to reinstate the mortgage loan on Jim and Callie Taylor’s Broken Spur Ranch. He wouldn’t have risked his neck on this bull for any other reason. Old Jim was in his fifties and his twenty-year-old daughter Callie needed to be looked after. They were his family and he’d risk his neck if that’s what it took to help them. He licked his lips, rolling his hips as Tabasco shuddered and huffed.
“The gate opens in five…” The announcer began the countdown.
Almost instantly, an awful creeping sensation rippled over his skin, like beetles were scuttling over his flesh. With a roll of his shoulders he tried to shake off the unsettling feeling.
The bull shuddered beneath him.
The gate flew open and the bull shot out. Fenn scrambled to stay on top of the bull as it ducked its head, preparing to tilt-a-whirl. The uncomfortable flank strap infuriated the beast and it would do anything to kick it off. Tabasco’s front feet came up off the ground and Fenn leaned forward, squeezing his legs and maintaining a tight grip. If he could keep his hips square and centered…
A woman’s scream penetrated his mind, tearing through his skull like a knife. Flashes…strong and powerful images flickered like broken fragments on an old film reel. Cracked columns broken by moonlight cutting through shattered glass windows. Ivy crept along a staircase that led to the floor of a mansion that had long since crumbled to the ground below. A deep baritone laugh, the explosion of bullets, a sound from his deepest nightmares…
Lauren Smith is an attorney by day, author by night, who pens adventurous and edgy romance stories by the light of her smart phone flashlight app. She’s a native Oklahoman who lives with her three pets: a feisty chinchilla, sophisticated cat and dapper little schnauzer. She’s won multiple awards in several romance subgenres including being an Amazon.com Breakthrough Novel Award Quarter-Finalist and a Semi-Finalist for the Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Award. Lauren loves hearing from readers and can be reached through her website.
The Gilded Gage #2
The Gilded Cuff #1
The Gilded Chain #3(Pre-Order)