Heart Thief – Serving his Master series Book 5

Caught in the snare of a cruel Dom… Only a cowboy’s love can set him free… 

Sawyer Croft has been through hell and back, and come out the stronger for it. A cowboy to his core, he’s determined to help his father saveå their horse ranch. At the same time, he dreams of one day finding a man who understands the passion of sensual domination and the transcendence of erotic pain.

After a stint in the Army, Luke Malone meets a powerful billionaire who offers him a job…with benefits. He’s intrigued by Glenn’s dominance and experience with BDSM, but Glenn’s penchant for rough sex and extreme control, as well as his reputation for the catch and release of sub boys, takes a toll.  When Glenn sends Luke to an East Texas ranch to scope out a business deal, Luke knows he has been dismissed and replaced.

While his connection with Sawyer sparks blazing need between them, deep emotional scars make Luke slow to trust again. Sawyer knows Luke won’t get past his anger and pain unless he can move through the feelings and then let them go. Together, they embark on a D/s journey that opens both their worlds in ways neither had ever imagined.

That is, until Glenn decides he wants his boy back. And what Glenn wants, Glenn gets.

Heart Thief is a stand-alone Serving His Masters series novel. Powerful M/M BDSM with a romantic twist.


Sawyer heard the low, soothing murmur as he entered the stable. In the half-light of the new dawn he could make out the tall, broad-shouldered man at the back stall. Luke looked up as Sawyer approached. He was wearing a T-shirt that molded to his well-defined physique like melted wax. Sawyer tried not to stare. “You’re up early.”

“Yeah,” Luke replied. “I couldn’t sleep. Thought I’d come see what was up at the barns, maybe introduce myself to the horses.” He patted the neck of the horse beside him. “This fellow seems kind of restless, like maybe he couldn’t sleep either last night.” As if concurring, the horse whinnied and tossed his head, rolling his large eyes.

“That’s Special Star. Ain’t he a beauty? He loves to gallop. In fact, I was thinking of taking him out this morning before chores and giving him a good run. You mentioned you like to ride. Care to join me?”

“I sure would. You got a horse big enough for me?”

“I’m thinking Midas would be just right, but he can be a bit, uh, temperamental. He sometimes has the unpleasant habit of seeking to remove—by whatever means possible—any rider who settles on his back. He responds well to a firm but gentle approach. You think you can handle him?”

Luke grinned. “I guess we’ll find out. If not, it won’t be the first time a horse threw me on my ass. I’m itching to climb into a saddle again. It’s been way too long. I hadn’t realized how much I missed it till I got here.”

Sawyer led Special Star out of his stall and they retrieved Midas from his and saddled up the two of them. Sawyer watched Luke, taking note of how easily he moved around the horse, clearly comfortable with what he was doing, but more than that, totally at ease with the large animal he was working with. Midas, as horses do, immediately sensed Luke’s mastery and gave himself willingly over to it.

“We’ve got some fallow pastures out beyond the big pond.” Sawyer pointed as they mounted the horses and directed them out of the paddock and along one of the many dirt paths that crisscrossed the ranch. “We can give them a good run out there.”

They walked in single file, Sawyer in the lead. The clippity-clop of the horses’ hooves tapped out a steady beat against the joyous sound of the chirping birds just waking in trees silhouetted against the pink dawn sky. Sawyer glanced back from time to time to make sure Midas was behaving himself, but he seemed perfectly content, calm and easy beneath Luke’s obviously skilled hand as they settled into a walk as smooth as cream.

When they got to the pasture’s edge, Luke came up beside Sawyer and with a nod, they both urged their horses into a canter. Luke leaned forward, whispering in Midas’ ear as he gave him three good kicks and they were off, sprinting ahead of Sawyer and his horse. With a laugh and a whoop, Sawyer spurred Special Star, who was younger and faster than Midas, into a gallop.

Sawyer felt the muscles of his horse’s flanks rippling beneath him as they pounded on thundering hooves, the wind sweeping against his face, the pure power of flight whipping through his blood. They galloped across the pastures, finally slowing to a canter and then a walk. They stopped beside two huge old oak trees that bordered a creek on the far edge of the pasture and dismounted. After tying the horses loosely to one of the trees, they moved twenty yards or so to sit beneath the shade of the second oak.

Luke took off his hat and set it on the grass beside him. He ran his hand over his forehead and through his thick blond hair. He watched as the horses dipped their graceful heads to drink from the fresh water. “Man alive,” he declared. “It’s been way too long since I was in the saddle.”

“Midas doesn’t behave like that for just anybody. You’ve got a gentling way about you around horses. That’s a gift.”

Luke flashed another of those bright, sweet smiles that tore something loose in Sawyer’s heart. “If it’s a gift, it’s one I was given by a man by the name of Jackson Brody. He’s the one taught me to ride and everything I know about horses. He had a right way with horses, like nobody I ever met.” Luke looked again at the horses, who were contentedly nibbling at the dew-covered grass at their feet. “Jackson could refit a saddle to stop a skittish horse from throwing a rider. He could stop a chewer from chewing or a bolter from bolting merely by changing what it ate, or how it was tacked or shod or ridden or spoken to.”

Sawyer could hear the wistfulness in Luke’s tone. “You miss him, huh?” he offered.

Luke picked a long blade of grass and chewed thoughtfully on its end. “He passed when I was twelve and I felt like I lost the only real friend I ever had. When I was too little to know better, I used to wish like mad that he’d marry my mom, but he was probably thirty years her senior. You don’t think about stuff like that when you’re a kid.”

“What about your dad?”

Luke stiffened, pressing his lips together. “I never met my father. Apparently he didn’t even stick around long enough to know my mom was pregnant. She was seventeen and her own folks turned her out when they found out. She told me once I looked just like him. I told her if I ever saw my double, only twenty years older, I’d be sure and beat the shit out of him.”

Sawyer laughed and Luke offered a wan smile in return. “It must have been hard for your mom, a young girl like that, alone and pregnant. What did she do?”

“She found work doing odd jobs on the ranch. She eventually worked her way up to cook, though they never paid her for shit. But we did have free room and board.”

“She never married?”

“She did marry eventually, a few months shy of my eighteenth birthday. Nice enough guy she met at church, moved her into a fancy house in town. He wasn’t too keen on having me there and I wasn’t too keen on the idea either. I’d managed to graduate high school by the skin of my teeth. I’d had enough of being a ranch hand so I did the only thing I could think of. I joined the army.”

Sawyer nodded slowly, taking Luke’s measure. The kindred connection he felt was as strong as ever but there was more at play. He couldn’t deny the hot tug of desire in his cock and balls at being so close to this rugged, sexy guy. He wanted him. He wanted him bad. Which was fine except: a) he didn’t even know for sure if Luke was gay; and b) this was business. The man was here to do a job, not get hit on by a virtual stranger. Sawyer knew his dad was really counting on the deal going through. If Sawyer messed things up because he couldn’t keep his wild thoughts in check and his dick in his pants, it might mean the future of their ranch.

But damn it, he hadn’t been this drawn to someone in a very long time. He had learned enough to know this kind of connection came along once in a blue moon. If nothing else, he could at least find out if Luke was gay. If it turned out he was straight, the decision would be taken from Sawyer’s hands. He understood the rules of engagement in rural Texas, and one didn’t just come right out and ask. But he had to know, even if only to fuel fantasies he might never act upon.

Using the old army dictate, he said softly, “Don’t ask, don’t tell?”

He watched as Luke flushed. “It was never an issue,” he said, rather ambiguously but Sawyer was pretty sure he had his answer.

“How close are you and Glenn Griffin?” Sawyer asked.

“Close enough,” Luke spat, a scowl suddenly moving over his face. He stiffened, his easy posture of a moment before now rigid, the muscles in his jaw working.

Sawyer felt a sudden absurd rush of jealousy. Even though he knew it was utterly irrational, it pissed him off to think Luke would get involved with a player like Griffin. “Hey, I was just asking.” Sawyer hoped he’d managed to keep the irritation out of his voice.

But Luke’s scowl only deepened. “Leave it alone. How well I know Glenn has nothing to do with how well I do my job. What the hell are you implying, anyhow?” His voice was tight and angry. He stood abruptly, bending down for his hat and mashing it onto his head. He started to walk away toward the horses, still calmly grazing beneath the other tree, too far away to catch the tension between the two men.

Sawyer leaped to his feet, hurrying forward to stop Luke. He reached for Luke’s arm. “Hey, I didn’t mean to poke my nose in your business. Who you spend your time with is your affair. I just thought maybe we could—”

Luke jerked his arm roughly from Sawyer’s grasp and spun around to face him, his face mottled with anger. “Look, I don’t know what the hell Glenn told you, but you can forget it. Just because I’m gay doesn’t give you the right to assume I’m here for anything but what I was hired to do.”

Sawyer felt sucker punched by the anger directed at him. He was clearly missing whatever part of the equation was making Luke so furious. “Hey, I’m sorry,” he offered, once more reaching for Luke’s arm. Again Luke shrugged him off, this time more aggressively. Sawyer felt his own temper rising. He moved closer. “What’s the deal? I just asked a simple question—”

“Don’t give me that crap,” Luke retorted. “I know exactly what you were getting at. Ever since I got off that damn plane, you’ve been looking me like I’m a prime cut of beef.” He poked a finger at Sawyer’s chest. “I don’t give a shit what Glenn told you about me. I ain’t nobody’s boy”—he poked again, harder this time—“to be tossed to the next guy in line who thinks he knows what I need.” His face was close to Sawyer’s now, his brown eyes sparking with fury.

When he started to poke Sawyer yet again, Sawyer grabbed hold of Luke’s wrist, forcing his hand away. “That’s enough. I don’t take kindly to being poked and even less to being falsely accused.” Luke started to protest but Sawyer cut him off. “Hush, boy. Close your mouth for two seconds and let me say my piece.” He stared Luke down, his own anger giving fuel to his words. They were standing very close, Sawyer’s back against the tree, Luke giving no ground. There was still a fire in Luke’s eyes, but he closed his mouth, waiting.

Sawyer still held Luke’s arm and though Luke could have jerked away, he did not. Despite their angry words, Sawyer felt the seething undercurrent of desire moving between them like a swarm of bees. His cock was hard as flint in his jeans. Luke’s lips were pressed in a hard line. He was breathing hard, his nostrils flaring. As Sawyer continued to stare him down, Luke’s lips parted, his tongue flicking over his top lip. Sawyer could feel the heat emanating from the younger man, part anger but part lust as well. If Luke dipped his head a few inches, their lips would touch.

“Listen to me.” Sawyer’s voice came out hoarse and he cleared his throat. “I ain’t gonna lie and say I’m not attracted to you. But I never talked to Glenn about you. When we spoke on the phone, it was purely business. Damn it, I wasn’t even sure if you were gay until now.”

He took a breath, aware he was treading on dangerous ground but too far gone to care. “I don’t know what your relationship with Glenn is or was and like I said before, it’s none of my business. Something’s going on between you and me. This isn’t about Glenn or the past or what happens tomorrow or next week or next year.” Luke still hadn’t pulled away—if anything he was standing closer, as if being pulled by a magnetic field that was drawing them inexorably together.

“I had some hard things happen this past year that forced me to take stock of just what the hell I’m doing on this planet. If I learned anything, it’s that we only live the life right in front of us, Luke. You can hold on to bitterness and rage, or you can learn to let it go. Ain’t nobody gonna do it for you.” Sawyer’s heart was beating hard and fast. Just Luke’s proximity was driving him nearly insane. Every muscle, sinew and bone in his body ached to feel the press of Luke’s big, strong body against his.

“Shit. I could talk all day trying to convince you of my intentions, good or bad, but what I really want to do is this.” He reached for Luke’s face, framing Luke’s square jaw in his hands. Luke didn’t pull away. His lips parted, but instead of cursing, he let Sawyer pull him closer until their lips met.