Flame of the Alpha
was convince him to stick around long enough to go through with the ceremony, and keep him out of the Captain’s greedy clutches in the interim.
    Rubbing the bridge of her nose with her thumb and index finger did little to keep Sophia’s growing headache at bay. “How long has the Captain been here?”
    “A couple of hours, M’Lady . He’s in the Sanglant . And he’s not happy.”
    Sophia’s eyelids drifted closed as she forced her ragged breathing under control. Of course the Captain would choose that room of all those available. “No, I don’t imagine he would be. See to it that he’s served refreshments from the kitchen. Fresh strawberries, if we have them. And a bottle of champagne. Spare no expense. It might not soothe him completely, but I’m hoping it’ll calm him down enough that he won’t take his ire out on Dante when we arrive.” Brianna hesitated, so Sophia made a flicking gesture with her fingertips. “Go. We’ll be there shortly.”
    When the woman disappeared into the inner cloister, Sophia spun on her heel to face Dante. “You can’t meet him like this. You haven’t been trained and the Captain is…he’s…”
    “Volatile?” Dante filled in for her.
    “Something like that,” Sophia acknowledged. “He trains pleasure servants to switch from their submissive personalities to dominant ones. It’s technically a role reversal, and something we don’t encourage here at the Academy. Every pleasure servant is created with the submissive gene ingrained deep in his or her psyche. An obedient slave is a valuable slave.”
    Dante’s lip curled in distaste. “I’ve seen the way people treat their obedient slaves. Frankly, I’m not sure what this captain guy’s doing is such a bad thing, especially if he’s teaching servants to think for themselves and fight back when the occasion calls for it.”
    Sophia shook her head. “It doesn’t work that way. A pleasure servant trained to become a Dominant can perform the act, but he’ll revert back to his submissive tendencies, especially in an emergency. If his life or safety is threatened, he’ll cower and plead rather than fight back, simply because it’s what he’s been instructed to do here at the Academy. Even the captain can’t change someone’s attitude so drastically, and I think he’s come to realize that. Which is exactly why he wants you. ” She blew out a breath that ruffled the bangs falling into her eyes. “You’re different, Dante, and he knows it. You can give him what he craves.”
    Anxiety flittered across his features for an instant. It dissipated quickly, leaving Sophia to wonder whether she’d imagined it all along. The cocky grin returned, and with it, the Dante she’d come to know. He strode toward her purposefully and swept her off her feet, lifting her in the air and pressing a firm kiss to her mouth.
    She barely had time to react before his tongue slipped its way past her defenses to sweep against hers. A moment later, he withdrew and placed her back on her feet. The world tilted and the room spun around her as she gasped for breath. The feel of his mouth on hers made her lips tingle, and she pressed her fingertips against the spot.
    “What about you, Priestess?” Dante asked, his crooked smile stealing the breath from her lungs. “Can I give you what you crave?”
    She shook her head, though not in answer. “You’re incorrigible.”
    “I’ve been called worse.”
    Sophia stepped over the threshold and into the cloister. Rays of early afternoon sunshine beamed down through the latticed roof. The scent of blossoming orchids filled the air. Unlike the synthetic, year-round blooming plants that grew outside the Academy walls, the flora in the garden and the inner cloister was as real as it came.
    Sophia drew in a deep breath, but instead of orchid, another scent dominated her senses. The musk of aroused male blended with the spice of sweat. Far from being unpleasant, it caused a trickle of cream to drip

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