Bartered(The Encounter Trilogy)

By: Pamela Ann

A woman could be… Everything. Anything. Nothing.

I was a connoisseur of beautiful things, women included. I had not just one, but three—all exotic, stunning and would do anything I asked.

My life was grand. It was perfect, and I was content with it all, until a little minx came along. The second our eyes clashed, giving me a glimpse of her violet blue depths that had a mixture of stubbornness and will, though with a hint of something else…

Choices were made. Decisions were done.

And, for the very first time in my life, I was challenged with something risky, igniting the animal in me.





Acknowledgements



To my Poppets, most especially Sherry, Chantel and Louise—thank you for letting me use your names! And to the rest of the crew, your love and support for my work has helped me get through some tough times…when I’m emotionally and mentally drained. I can’t thank you guys enough.



Ashley Suzanne, you’ve been such a true gem of a friend. Words can’t be expressed enough…



To my editors, Kristin and Alizon, thank you for tolerating me. LOL. You ladies are beyond amazing.



Lastly, to the readers—none of this would be possible without your support. Your

encouragement and enthusiasm fills me with gratitude. Thank you for letting me pursue my passion.



Always yours,

Pamela Ann





For Phillip...



Your undying devotion, unwavering love



and ceaseless patience puts mine to shame.



Thank you for being the brilliant nonsensical all-around



person that’s always been there for me.





Chapter 1

Hugo



“Mr. Xavier, your presence is needed sir,” Benoît, my head of security, prompted me the second I hung up the conference call I’d had from England.

I considered him a moment, pausing as I raised my brow, before responding to him with a curt question. “In regards to what?”

My life revolved mostly around work. It was the love of my life. The Riviera had been in my family for generations. It was more than a five-star, luxury hotel that offered one of Europe’s finest casinos; it was in a class of its own. It was a legacy that ran in my blood. It became my soul when I had nothing left going on with my life.

This was all I possessed.

The power.

The prestige.

The privilege.

Benoît cleared his throat before answering me with his own raised brow, “It’s about Miss Dana Bateau, sir. One of the cleaning ladies found her in your library, trying to open your safe.” He paused before sharply adding, “Sir.”

Dana… trying to open my safe… She’s been with me for over six months, so was this her first attempt? Or the first time she had ever gotten caught?

I met her through Javier; a man I socialized with yet never welcomed in my circle of trusted friends. Come to think of it, I didn’t have friends. I had partners, associates, acquaintances, but never friendships. I didn’t trust a lot of people, and the ones I did were a puny, trusted circle. Dana obviously wasn’t in it.

“Where is she now?” I calmly asked as I turned my attention back to the screen, staring at the message that was before me while I waited for Benoît to continue.

“She’s being held in the villa, sir. We’re waiting for your orders.”

“Hmm,” I murmured nonchalantly before getting up and striding to the vast glass that covered the entire wall looking down on the night beauty of the lights of Monaco. “Wait for me downstairs. I need a moment.” Gently barking out an order, I didn’t move until I heard the soft shut of the heavy oak door before strolling towards the marbled table for my humidor. Cuban cigars were lined accordingly. Precisely. Just like my life—it was a well-oiled machine. Although, from time to time, one would find some problems. The imperfections. Like Dana.

Plucking one out of the leathered case, I reached for my ivory encrusted cutter. It was a present from one of my lovers; one of the few gifts I truly enjoyed. The ivory tusk it had come from wasn’t the byproduct of a poacher—or such was Evangeline’s promise. She’d said it was from her elephant pet who had become horribly ill and they’d had to end her life. She’d loved the pet so much that she wanted me to have something beautiful that had meaning. She was one of the tribal African princesses, so I didn’t question her. Surely princesses didn’t lie? I thought with amusement as I recalled her stating the same thing. She was a woman of beauty and quick wit. I admired that about her. It was unfortunate when we ended our relationship because she was due to marry someone of high ranking from her country.

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