The Lady in the Velvet Collar releases July 15 (that’s tomorrow) so in celebration, here is an excerpt earlier in the book than the first teaser. This comes from chapter four.
The Lady in the Velvet Collar
A novel of the Lithanar Chronicles by Jayda Myers
Teaser from chapter four
“You ladies have been selected this year, for potential betrothal. If you’re familiar with the explicit practices this kingdom holds near and dear, you can probably guess what role I prefer.” At that, the amused smile came back to him, but there was something colder, something lethal in it. “I am a Dominant, not by practice or preference, but by lifestyle. It is customary for the reigning monarch to be the dominant partner. My father, His Majesty the King, holds dominance over my mother, the queen. If you are to pass any further candidacy, please understand the type of position you are to hold. That is not to say that I will treat you unfairly or unequal, but there are certain social expectations in place, and expectations that I, as the Dominant, hold as well. If you are not ready to fulfill this type of position, I suggest you leave now.”
Not one lady left her seat. The group of fourteen ladies gathered held onto his every word. Madison felt her heartbeat speed up. This was really all it took to be wed into the royal family? She had heard of other kingdoms, who restricted their marriage pools to similar classes, or kingdoms that married into another kingdom’s family for political purposes. In contrast, the Lithanar kingdom’s rituals seemed strange. It was the kingdom she had grown up in, though. She knew what kind of expectations she was likely to find.
She had never questioned if she was more dominant or submissive. She had never had the opportunity, nor the chance. The closest Madison had ever gotten to betrothal was in an old neighbor friend, whose family had moved into the castle, in order to serve the royal family. She still remembered his face and his sun-brightened hair. He had never asked her hand in romance or anything similar, but she remembered falling asleep with that young boy on her mind, when she had been younger; and of dreaming of him.
How would she submit to a Dominant when she didn’t even understand the ins and outs of dominance and submission? What if she overstepped her boundaries or did something wrong?
It was as if the prince had read her mind. He continued on with his speech, “For those of you who have had little to no experience in the proper art of submission, or anything romantic or sexual for that matter, you will be tutored by my staff on cultural expectations. However, I will personally teach those of you who make it through this process about what my expectations are.”
His gaze traveled around the room, observing each one of them. Madison felt her heart rate spike when his gaze locked onto her.
“There will be no jealousy in this process,” he said to each of them. “No entitled drama. No drama at all. If you find yourself bitter at any of the ladies in this room, I highly suggest you quit while you’re ahead. I won’t have it. Ladies fighting each other for the attraction of a male is repulsive in my opinion, and I won’t tolerate it. So if you’re to stay, there will be no drama. No jealousy. No sabotage, no ill will and bitter feelings. You all have an equal chance at advancing towards betrothal. Don’t make me remove you because you think you’re better than anyone.”
At what he said, Madison realized that the girls around her weren’t just fellow ladies that Damien had chosen – they were her competition. This was some kind of competition for his betrothal, some kind of weird, twisted game that the prince was playing. She had half a mind to leave then and there, yet she found herself staying, found herself listening to him as he continued on.
“As we progress, some of you will be sent home. That’s unavoidable. Don’t think that it’s because you failed. The dynamic between a Dominant and a submissive is sweet and it takes the right touch. If we’re not compatible, it may be as much my fault as yours and for that, I won’t hold it against you. For those that advance, I do realize that some of you are here because your families are not in the best financial situation.” He couldn’t help but chuckle. “Yes, I’ve heard the rumors that if you’re wed into the family, you have an automatic ticket to a wealthy lifestyle. Trashy gossip, in my opinion. What you need to understand is my position. I am the crown prince of the Lithanar kingdom. When my father dies, I will inherit his throne. You aren’t just going to be a part of a wealthy family, you are going to be a part of the wealthy family – at the cost of some liberties. The queen consort is an important title and I do expect you to either be educated, or be open to the idea of education, on what your role would be outside of the marriage bed. Your role here will not be a pretty face; I see enough of those every day. If that’s all you’ve got to bring me, I’m sorry but I won’t be interested.”
At that, the girl that Madison thought was too skinny stood up and stormed out the door. Madison didn’t see what was so offensive about what he had said. It made sense. He was a working member of the governing power. Of course his spouse would have some sort of important duty.
She thought of herself in a stuffy dress, playing politics with people of high power and importance to the crown. The image didn’t stick. She would be open to being educated, formally, as her mother had educated her girls informally, from what she knew. Court politics? She didn’t know the first thing about them.
Damien’s voice shook her out of her thoughts once more. “I also bring up the rumors about marrying rich because just in our everyday life, the royal family is surrounded by flatterers and people who weave pretty words around ill intent. If I think you’re only here to spread your legs for a higher position, or that you’re trying to seduce me for some other underhanded reason, you will be ejected from this castle immediately.”
Madison saw the sharp-angled girl slice her gaze across the room, but she remained silent. There was something about that woman that put Madison on edge. She was definitely here for something. She had a feeling that what Damien had said would apply to that woman, specifically.
Damien released a heavy sigh, and reached into one of the drawers of his desk. He pulled out a large wooden box and set it on the desk. “Now, back on the betrothal. I said I would educate you all personally on what I look for in a submissive, as well as a spouse. That means I may spend time with the other ladies, whenever I please. That is why I emphasize heavily that I will not deal with jealousy issues. I will also start off slow, more lenient while you are learning. We will have rules in place and I will have order. As the intensity of what we do increases, that leniency will vanish and my rule will become stricter. I warn you of this not to scare you, but to make you aware of my expectations. I will push you beyond what you may be comfortable with. I may humiliate you and demean you, but it isn’t because I am cruel. You will be pushed to your limit. For those of you who can deal with this, I have a gift for you, something that will signify your position as a potential candidate for my betrothal. Those of you willing to go through this process will take one of these and go home. Pack what you need to stay for at least a month. If getting home is an issue, the castle has plenty of carriages to lend to you. Be aware that you will be staying in a castle. There are high expectations in terms of fashion, so dress accordingly or bring your best.”
Madison’s eyes widened. Accepting his terms meant living in the castle? Her first thought was of her obligation to the crops, but then she realized that her sister and mother still lived in the same farm. Her sister didn’t like admitting that she worked in the fields, but she was able to play in the dirt the same as Madison was. Plus, Mallory had pushed her into going, realizing that Madison meeting someone meant that she might leave the family. She was sure her family would function without her, at least for a short while.
Could she really take the prince’s offer and become a potential submissive, among the twelve girls around her that were left? She knew that he would be spending time with them, teaching them about how to submit. Possibly sleeping with them. How could she commit herself to someone who wasn’t going to commit himself to her?
Relax, she told herself. This is how things in the castle are done. You’re lucky he even chose you, out of all the other people here tonight!
Damien stood up from his desk and headed to the back of the room. “Line up, please. I’m going to ask you all privately if you want to stay or not. There will be no pressure in your answer this way.”
He picked up the box and headed to the back of the room. That was when Madison spotted the door at the back, where he entered another room, leaving the door cracked just slightly.
There were a few women who shot out of their chairs instantly, as if the furniture had spontaneously combusted. That sharp-angled girl was first in line. Madison was last. Damien called for the first girl in line to come in. She closed the door behind her. Whatever was said, Madison couldn’t tell, until she heard the roar of, “Next!” through the door. This process repeated itself through all of the women in front of her, until Madison was finally called.
She opened the heavy door and found herself in another circular room, this one smaller than the one she had just been in. There was nothing in this room but some torches for light, and a table, where Damien had set the small wooden box. There was no sign of the other ladies; just two doors behind the prince.
Alone in the room with her, Damien seemed more intense than he had been when she had been observing him from behind a desk. His gaze lit on hers, as if he wanted the moment of privacy to last. Or maybe that was her overactive imagination. She felt tingly all over again, even though she hadn’t had any wine since she had followed that elderly man.
“Will you accept what I have propositioned? Even if it means trading who you are, what you are now, to become my submissive, my potential betrothal and potential wife?”
It felt like her heart was throwing itself into every corner of her chest, it was beating so hard. His voice was soft in volume but it still carried strength. She didn’t know him from a hole in the wall, but she was drawn to him. She didn’t know why.
“I need an answer, sweet lady.”
“Yes,” she breathed, before she could think it over any longer. “Make me yours.”