Beneath the Scars (Masters of the Shadowlands #13)

Beneath the Scars (Masters of the Shadowlands #13)

Cherise Sinclair


So many hugs go to Bianca Sommerland, Monette Michaels, and Fiona Archer for being the best crit partners ever. Love you guys.

Thanks to Ruth Reid, Barb Jack, Lisa White, and Marian Shulman for beta reading the manuscript—and making me laugh at my bloopers and your comments. Y’all are amazing.

A big shout-out goes to Red Quill Editing’s editors for their meticulous work in making this book the best it can be.

My Shadowkittens—oh, what can I say? Thanks to you all for demanding Master Holt’s story and for all the inspiration, ideas, hot pictures, serious conversations, and laugh-out-loud fun. And hugs and kisses to Lisa Simo-Kinzer, the most tactful person I’ve ever met.

For Autumn: Master Z says thank you for the Cops ‘n’ Robbers theme.

A big hug—and much sympathy—to Leagh Christensen for trying to ride herd on a group of kittehs. You rock, girl!

Finally, if you’ve enjoyed the recent Shadowlands T-shirts, the credit goes to Niki Ellis for her brilliant designs. Muah!

Author’s Note

To my readers,

The books I write are fiction, not reality, and as in most romantic fiction, the romance is compressed into a very, very short time period.

You, my darlings, live in the real world, and I want you to take a little more time in your relationships. Good Doms don’t grow on trees, and there are some strange people out there. So while you’re looking for that special Dom, please, be careful.

When you find him, realize he can’t read your mind. Yes, frightening as it might be, you’re going to have to open up and talk to him. And you listen to him, in return. Share your hopes and fears, what you want from him, what scares you spitless. Okay, he may try to push your boundaries a little—he’s a Dom, after all—but you will have your safe word. You will have a safe word, am I clear? Use protection. Have a back-up person. Communicate.

Remember: safe, sane, and consensual.

Know that I’m hoping you find that special, loving person who will understand your needs and hold you close.

And while you’re looking or even if you have already found your dearheart, come and hang out with the Masters of the Shadowlands.



Chapter One

Why was her kick-ass heroine drooling over the hero as if he was an ooey-gooey-chocolate chewy? Grumbling under her breath, Josephine Collier stepped out of her car. The half-written book was a teen fantasy—not a love story. Why couldn’t her heroine understand that romances rarely turned into happy endings? Honestly.

Then again, teens were na?ve. Not to mention stubborn.

Her soon-to-be-a-teenager son jumped out of the car.

Definitely stubborn.

“Groceries, honey,” she reminded him as he turned toward the house, and his long-suffering sigh made her snicker. She ruffled his light brown hair. “My child, you sound as if Darth Vader has been torturing you with long needles.”


Three years ago, he’d loved helping with each and every chore. Now…well, now he was eleven years old and ever so jaded with life.

Grinning, Josie picked up a sack and glanced next door at the one-story duplex where her great-aunt, Stella Avery, lived. Where would Josie and Carson be without the wonderful woman? In fact, she’d become so beloved that Josie and Carson called her Oma, German for grandmother.

The bright tropical sun on white stucco made Josie squint, but she could see the driveway on the right side was empty. Oma must be at her Friday afternoon bridge club—her first recreational outing after spraining her ankle three weeks ago. After “serving time” in the rehab hospital, her great-aunt was thrilled to resume her busy social life.

Josie trotted up the porch steps and into her rent-with-option-to-buy house. Although the bungalow was close to forty years old, she hadn’t thought twice about signing the contract. Oma was getting older, and Josie needed to be close enough to help out.

She and Carson had only moved in a few days ago, and she already loved the place.

After weaving her way through the unpacked boxes, she set her sack on a kitchen counter.

Following, Carson left his groceries on the table, grabbed a bag of chips, and attempted a get-away to his room.

She cleared her throat. “There are several more sacks in the trunk. Please bring them in while I put stuff away.”

This time, she got his patented eye-roll.

She smothered her smile and said worriedly, “Oh, honey…if you do that hard enough, your eyes might pop out and fall onto the floor.”

Shocked, he paused for a whole second before catching on. Although he didn’t quite suppress a snort of laughter, he still managed to look put-upon as he stalked out the door.

She shook her head. Sometime in the last few months, her affectionate, funny, sweet son had been replaced by a moody adolescent. Wasn’t puberty supposed to occur later? More like thirteen or so? She wanted to bang her head on the wall and wail, I’m not ready.

Then again, according to her friends, no parent was prepared for the angel-to-demon transformation.

Ah, well, she’d cope. She’d had a fair amount of practice in surviving whatever the universe threw at her. By herself.

Cherise Sinclair's Books