"It's your bet, Master David."
Silence hung over Dark Haven's makeshift poker room as everyone waited for Shelby's sometimes-dom to answer Master Trevor's challenge.
From her peripheral gaze, she noticed one of the dungeon monitors head for the door, presumably to fetch Master Xavier, the club's owner. The friendly game of poker to benefit a children's charity had just taken an interesting turn.
Shelby continued to kneel on the floor next to David's chair and told herself a good sub would keep her gaze on the floor. A good sub would mind her business while the doms conducted their wager.
A good sub would school her mind and focus on her dom's wishes. And David's wish was for her to behave so he'd look good.
Earlier, after he'd picked her up from her hotel, he'd told her he intended to play Master Trevor in tonight's charity Texas Hold'em tournament at San Francisco's Dark Haven. In fact, if all went according to his plan, the evening would end in a showdown between Trevor and David.
Shelby knew that her friend, David, had a complex relationship with Master Trevor, and six months ago, he'd lost a sub to other man. According to the story, David had been at Dark Haven with Janine, a fun but fickle sub who changed doms like others changed shoes. After seeing that Master Trevor was alone, she'd unfastened David's collar and tossed it over her shoulder before kissing Master Trevor's boots.
Although Master Trevor hadn't accepted Janine as his sub, hadn't even played with her that night, David's ego had still been battered.
And now that everyone else had folded or busted, the last hand of Hold'em had, indeed, come down to the two of them.
At the beginning of the evening, David had made a charitable contribution of a thousand dollars in exchange for poker chips. Earlier, he'd been up substantially. But over the last half hour, his pile had diminished rapidly. His bets had become more and more reckless, and it seemed as if he was barely looking at his cards, let alone the flop, before raising the stakes. If she'd noticed that, so had his opponent.
Tension rippled across the room.
Each man had already been dealt their first two—hole—cards. And only moments before, the dealer had turned over the flop, the first three of five potential community cards.
She had no idea what either man was holding in the pocket, but a surreptitious glance had told her the flop's high card was a king of spades. There were no pairs, no other face cards. A heart and a diamond meant a flush was unlikely, possible but not probable.
"Master David?" Master Trevor prompted a second time.
Shelby noticed David's hand form a fist alongside his right thigh, betraying his agitation. He'd run through his first thousand dollars. He was a lawyer in an area of town with a high crime rate. It was a decent job, she knew. It paid the bills, but David all but ran a nonprofit. He took on significant amounts of pro bono cases. His offices were run-down and beat-up, and he'd never met a sob story that didn't tug his heartstrings or hurt his wallet. His wages definitely didn't finance a luxury lifestyle.
Time dragged, and she shifted. Being a good sub, she was learning, wasn't as easy in real life as it was in her fantasies. She knew stealing a glance at either man—especially Master Trevor—might earn her a spanking from an angry David, but out of boredom mixed with healthy curiosity, she was contemplating the risk.
Even though she lived in Denver and only visited Dark Haven a few times a year, she knew of Master Trevor's stern reputation. Other subs dreamily whispered about him, wanting to experience his lash.
He stood well over six feet tall and commanded respect just by walking into a room. His broad shoulders, dark hair, unyielding jaw, and purposeful stride were the stuff of fantasies. Factor in his sexy, gravelly voice and she'd been a goner from the start.
If she were honest, she'd admit the other subs weren't the only ones to fantasize about him. Ever since she'd first seen him last fall, she'd masturbated to images of him, and she hadn't felt guilty doing so. He
was exactly the type of man she wanted to dominate her.
She and David had known each other since college, and their friendship was more of a companionship than a relationship. Truth was, they were too good of friends to be fabulous lovers. Even their BDSM scenes had become a bit boring. She might not have a lot of experience, but she suspected he allowed her to get away with too much; being with him was nothing like her fantasies, nothing like the books she read or the videos she watched.
The last time she'd been with him in San Francisco, she'd tried to hide yawns she'd blamed on jetlag. She'd initially declined his most recent invitation, but when he'd mentioned that Dark Haven and its Western-themed night were on the agenda, she'd rearranged her client load so she could fly in and attend.
Even though she had been kneeling on the floor for at least an hour, seeing Master Trevor with a replica six-shooter strapped to his thigh made everything bearable.
A cowboy hat sat jaggedly atop his head, partially shadowing his steely, electric blue eyes.
He'd wrapped a dark blue bandanna around his throat, and a tailored Western shirt hugged his upper body.
Because she'd been placed on the floor like a good little sub, she knew his brown cowboy boots were authentic, marred and scratched by the years. He also wore a pair of spurs. The silver had dulled, but they had made a forceful sound when he'd walked across the floor earlier.
The dark color of his jeans had faded slightly, and he'd obviously worn them a number of times, long enough that the denim had broken in to hug his strong thighs.
Master Trevor sat easily in his chair, his shoulders relaxed. He toyed with several high denomination chips, turning them over between his thumb and forefinger.
Last night, after she'd packed her suitcase for the trip to the West Coast, she'd drizzled lube onto her bullet vibrator and lay down on her bed with her legs spread. She'd imagined him drawing her across a room and tying her to a spanking bench, her ass upturned for his hand or a flogger, whatever he
chose. After tonight, though, and seeing the well-worn belt circling his waist, she knew future fantasies would include that supple leather against her backside.
Unable to help herself as the minutes dragged on, she sneaked a glance at the object of her desire. He looked at her—apparently sensing her perusal—and held her gaze captive.
A shiver of fear mixed with desire raced up her spine as they made eye contact.
In that brief second, his steel blue eyes promised one thing: punishment. If she were his sub, her out-of-bounds behavior wouldn't be tolerated. He'd expect, and demand, perfect submission.
Her breaths threatened to strangle her.
She wanted him. She craved his dominance. And her raw need scared her.
He raised a brow commandingly and nodded toward the floor.
Even though he wasn't her dom, she immediately dropped her gaze to stare at the wooden floor.
BDSM wasn't a way of life for her. Rather it was something she occasionally enjoyed, much like having dessert after a celebratory dinner. The weekends a few times a year satisfied her needs. Or they had, until right now, until this powerful reaction to Master Trevor's unspoken command.
She heard the echo of footsteps, and she dared another surreptitious look. This time, though, she didn't look up. She glanced sideways so it wasn't immediately noticeable that she was deliberately disobeying both Master Trevor and David.
Destiny, the club's receptionist who seemed to know everything and everyone, and Master Xavier had entered the room.
The club's enigmatic owner came in without saying anything. He didn't need to. Master Xavier electrified the air. An alpha among alphas, he was dressed in black trousers and a burgundy vest. His long black hair hung down in back in an oh-so-sexy braid. As if comfortable with his legendary status, he folded his arms across his chest, lord and master of all he surveyed. Everyone knew it; everyone respected his authority.
"Having trouble with your sub?" Master Trevor asked David, looking across the table and inclining his head in her direction.