I’m no longer certain love and hate aren’t the same emotion. They say there’s a thin line between the two, but I’m not sure such a line even exists. If it does, I’ve crossed it one too many times-- in both directions. In the end, there is only one love of which I can be certain. Her name was Jaycee and she was my sister. She was murdered six months ago, on this very beach.
If you had the choice, if you could avenge your sister’s death, would you do it? How about if it would cost you the relationship with the man you love? For that is where I stand right now, caught between the extremities of love and hate in a game more dangerous than any I‘ve ever played.
I look out over the Tasman sea and watch the ten-foot high waves caress the base of a nearby cliff. A tongue of seawater laps at a hard stone pillar. If I allow fancy to carry me, I can almost see the act of fellatio. The image takes me back to earlier in the day and I feel weak with need, yet strong with resolve.
I ignore the hot sand beneath my bare feet, and think about Nicco. Part of me wishes I’d never met him, but it is too small a part to listen to, for I love him. I have never felt about another man the way I feel about Nicco, but still it is not enough to stay my hand. My sister is dead and her killer will pay in blood. And Nicco will be lost to me forever.
. Oh Jaycee, how did this happen to you? You were always the adventurous one, not me. This is your life I’m living out; your role I’m playing. Perhaps it’s appropriate, but I feel I’m not up to the task. I was never as good as you, Jaycee, yet I remain standing, the only person alive that cares enough to avenge your murder. I only hope I’m up to the task, so you can finally let go. The sound of the waves can’t drown out the cry of a nearby plover. It reminds me of my pain, my need to scream, my strident desire to shout curses until the universe is forced to listen. I slowly lower myself to the sand, tears suddenly obscuring my vision.
Behind me, the Tempest Hotel, twelve stories of glass and steel, thrusts up from the sands like a monument to insanity, for that is what it has become. I should have never come here; should have never left New York City-- wouldn’t have, if it hadn’t been for the dream. But that was six months ago in another lifetime. I had thought I’d known something of life. Then the unthinkable occurred.
Three days after her twentieth birthday, my sister Jaycee was murdered. Not in a random act of violence on a city street as one might expect, but in a senseless act of hate I can’t begin to understand. She didn’t die in New York City, but ten thousand miles away in place I never thought I’d have occasion to visit. The problem is, no one knows she’s dead but me and I have no proof.
In my old life, I was called Sandra Castilla. While that name is no longer appropriate, it was once mine and I cannot forget it. Nor can I forget that I had lived in Manhattan, worked for New York University and had been engaged to a man I thought I loved.
Even now, I can’t picture him without some of the tenderness returning, though that tenderness is more maternal than it had once been. Scott was tall, with short sandy blonde hair, grey-green eyes and a quirky smile that endeared him to every woman he’d ever met. Scott was considerate, loving, practical and I might have married him, if it hadn’t been for the dream.
He was lying next to me, in a bed that still smelled of our lovemaking. True to form, he’d fallen asleep before I did. I was restless for some reason, but eventually drifted off. That was when I had the dream for the first time.
White sands, warm sun, blue-green water that rose in waves to crash against the rocky coastline. The sounds were of sea gulls and surf, the smells of the sea and sorrow.
She lay on the beach, her face was so contorted with fear, I almost didn’t recognize her as Jaycee. When I did, I tried to call out, to go to her, but couldn’t. I was an ethereal observer, nothing more. She couldn’t hear or see me and I couldn’t change the outcome of events. My field of vision was limited to my stricken sister. As such, I could not see that which so terrified her.
Without warning, I was drawn forward, closer and closer to Jaycee, until, after a moment of supreme disorientation, I found myself inside her. Her face was turned toward the sand to avoid seeing the object of her horror. The sounds now were off Jaycee’s quickly drawn breaths and almost silent sobs. At the very edge of vision, a man’s foot appeared, then another.
“You have wasted enough of my time, girl.” I had never heard the voice before.
His laughter filled my ears, filled the world, filled me with a sense of dread I had never known. I found myself watching his feet. He drew one back and kicked Jaycee/me. The foot drew back again and again. Pain suffused us, engulfed us, tore at our sanity. Then there was blood on the sand. we wanted to get up and run, but couldn’t. Hadn’t been able to, even before his approach, though I didn’t know why. Again and again his foot lashed out. We tried to curl into a ball, but the frenzy of the attack prevented us.
Soon even feeling fear was beyond us and we retreated further. The attack didn’t stop until we were dead.
And I was awake, crying, screaming, trying to believe it was only a dream. I hadn’t talked to Jaycee in a couple of months. She’d been down in Hollywood, Florida. I used to joke about it. In truth, Jaycee was pretty enough to make it in Hollywood, but she’d never shown the interest. I might have been drawn to the bright lights, but Jaycee had always lived in a darker world than I.
To tell the truth, though we were sisters, we didn’t have much in common. Jaycee had no fear. There was nothing she wouldn’t try. I was the shy one. Scared of my own shadow, she used to say. I preferred to think of it as common sense, but there was no escaping the fact that I’d never willingly risked anything in my life.
Scott was beside me then, reaching out for me, trying to calm me. I leaned into him, then tried to push him away.
“It’s Jaycee. She’s dead.”
“No, baby, it was just a dream.”
Just a dream. Was it just a dream? “I don’t think so.”
“Ssssssshhh, it’s okay. Just relax.”
I wanted to believe him. I wanted it to be just a dream, but knew otherwise. Somewhere deep within me, I knew the truth. I pulled away from him, more sharply than I’d intended to, and got out of bed.
“Where are you going?”
“What? Sandra, you’re not making any sense.”
Did he expect me to make sense, at a time like this? “I’m going to find her.”
“Look, why don’t you just give her a call, okay? I’m sure it was just a dream.”
I stopped mid-stride. Yes, the phone! I could call her. I’d probably wake her, but it would be worth it. In a half panic, I ran from the room into the kitchen. There, beneath the phone, I fumbled through papers until I found my phone book.
The list of numbers on the page confused me. Jaycee was always moving about. So many numbers for her. I’d crossed out most of them, but she was such as restless soul, she’d been to so many places, she took up more than a page of the book. I could only imagine my own entry in her phone book. One number. The same place I’d lived for almost ten years, since I’d moved out. I pushed the thought from my mind, and tried to think. Nine-five-four; that was the area code for Hollywood. I dialed quickly and had to hang up and dial again, when I realized I’d started dialing wrong. I had to calm down.
I drew a deep breath and Scott joined me in kitchen. He was naked and worried, but he didn’t say anything or interrupt me. I closed my eyes tight and opened them again. Then, more carefully, I dialed her number.
It rang twice. The voice that spoke was definitely not Jacyee’s. “The number you have dialed has been disconnected. No further information is available.”
My panic returned full force and I looked at Scott. He didn’t need his Master’s Degree to know something was wrong.
“It’s disconnected. There’s no forwarding number.”
He came to me and held me, but for once, his warmth did nothing to shield me from the realities of life.
Don’t let the label of BDSM on Slave Heart by Master Nage fool you. While it is labeled as such and the world we read about is profound, Slave Heart is romance to the core. Sandra fearfully enters a world she knows nothing about and learns more about herself that most of us only hope to discover about ourselves in a lifetime. Sandra, her pain, as well as her passion, called to everything in me as a woman and everything she went through gave me a respect for her that I don’t give away lightly. The love she finds with Nicco…oh my, it was enchanting and beautiful.
Master Nage touches all the pulse points of his reader with Slave Heart, such as sadness, joy, anger, arousal, fear and curiosity. While the world of D/s is explored, it doesn’t in any way dominate the romance of the story. It is also an eye opening experience to a world that many are curious about, but hesitant to explore. Where most would think the masters hold all the power, do they? It is very enlightening how this book shows and teaches about the BDSM world and the real relationships between Masters and slaves. With the suspense and anticipation continuously building and the romance between Nicco and Sandra starting to grow, I couldn't stop reading and hated to see it end. Slave Heart empowered me, aroused me and reaffirmed my belief in love. It made me really think about things in a world I obviously didn’t know as much as I thought. As I shared the journey with Sandra it corroborated why Master Nage is a favourite author of mine.
Master Nage writes romance with passion, eloquence and a power to wow his reader. He does the romance genre and his reader proud with Slave Heart. This author seems to hold answers to many of the questions we all might have of love, life and the D/s world that he expresses with authority and confidence. Master Nage lives up to his name and shows his mastery of storytelling.
Tracey West for The Road to Romance
The plot is strong and well written; the sex scenes are intense and will leave one breathless and full of desire. The underlying theme of D/s and BDSM is enjoyable and not overtly violent. Although, one particular scene in the book is very violent, it does not deal with BDSM, but with the murderer of Jaycee and it does have its place in this story. This story is definitely a page-turner and this reviewer could not put SLAVE HEART down until the last written word was read.
If one is looking for a story full of mystery, passion, and lovers bound in servitude to each by love, SLAVE HEART is what you have been longing for. Master Nage serves passion to the reader on a silver platter with this tale of heartfelt domination and submission. Let Master Nage show you what Slave of the Heart truly means.
Kimberly B, Love Romances