Susan Petrauskas eyed the bouncer doubtfully. He was a big man, rough around the edges, perched on a ridiculously small stool. He dwarfed her date for the evening, a smart doctor named Bert Norstrum. For that matter, she was taller than her date too. She didn’t know why short guys seemed to find her attractive, but Bert was five-eight, four inches shorter than her. As long as he doesn’t try to bury his face in my cleavage when we dance.
If we dance.
Bert nodded to the bouncer, who nodded back with the same neutrality. The bouncer opened the door for her and gestured her in with a slight bow and a broad low sweep of his hand. Susan walked in to the dark club, lit only by a sequence of red, blue, and green lights around its circular interior. Her eyes took a few minutes to adjust, as it was summer and still quite bright outside even at eight in the evening. The music had a strong rhythm and haunting melodies, and she didn’t recognize it.
“You’ll love this place,” Bert had gushed. She doubted it. It was in the middle of nowhere, off a rural road rather than in downtown Baltimore or Philadelphia. She’d never heard of it. And she felt uneasy about the company. Bert had been a nice enough date once to go out with a second time. For this date he had bought her a black dress that hugged her form, and he’d tried to get her to wear heels, which would have made her even more aware of their height difference. She wasn’t at all sure she wanted to be on dress-buying terms with Bert, but she’d gone along with the dress and drew a line at the heels.
The fact is I’m not attracted to short men. I’d be happy to wear heels if my date was six-five.
But Bert was nice enough. And he definitely had good prospects, which her mother always reminded her was something to consider, although she made enough as an architect to provide for herself. I need someone stable in my life. There aren’t enough tall ones to go around. So what if he’s not my fantasy?
Then she started processing what was in front of her, and she did a double take. The people around her were not exactly dressed like normal people or even normal club goers, but what caught her eye was a short brunette stripped down to almost nothing in the center of the room, which was a few steps down from the outside walkway. Her wrists were chained to a frame made of two sturdy supports and a heavy wooden crossbar. She was being beaten by a tall man and a woman in strange leather get-ups, wielding multitailed whips. The brunette’s skin was pink, although she wasn’t bleeding. Yet.
“What the fuck?” She charged off. The man was bigger than her but not much, and she had the advantage of surprise. If she clocked him, she might be able to get the whip out of the hands of the woman, who was short and curvy.
Bert followed her and grabbed her arm, which slowed her down.
She tried to shrug him off. “Let go of me! Can’t you see what’s happening? I’ll take the guy; you take the girl.” That probably wasn’t the best thing for Bert’s ego. Oh well.
Then she caught a look at the face of the woman being beaten. She was glassy-eyed, but there was no mistaking the sensuous curve of her open lips. She wasn’t in pain. She was in ecstasy.
Susan turned away. It wasn’t proper to see a stranger in such an intimate moment. In an alcove, a tall muscular shirtless man hugged a small curvy naked woman on his lap. There were marks on her back, blotches of pink. But whatever had happened to her, she was being taken care of. In that moment Susan would give everything to be held that way, cared for, protected.
Bert was talking. “... consensual. She’s having a good time.”
Susan wasn’t sure if he was talking about the woman in the middle or the woman being held, so she nodded and kept scanning the crowd. Lots of leather clothing, a bit of shiny vinyl or latex, and lots of bare skin of all shades. This was no ordinary dance club. There was a big wooden X-shaped cross in the center area near the scene she’d first spotted, and little rooms off to the side. Given what went on in public, she was more than curious as to what went on in the little rooms, although she had an idea. Sex. This is a BDSM club. Never thought I’d actually be in one.
“Are you listening to a word I’m saying?”
Not really. Just taking everything in.
“Hard to hear you over the music,” she told him, even though it was quieter than most dance clubs she’d been in. What was playing had a steady electronic beat. Why had Bert brought her here? To gawk or because he wanted to tie her up or do something kinky? He might not be her dream date exactly, but she was curious now, more about what went on in the club than him. Still, he was her date, and she didn’t expect to get many other chances to be in a place like this, so she supposed it was with him, now or never. Although if she sat on his lap like that one girl, it would look incongruous. Not for the first time, Susan yearned to be small and cuddly. Sure, everyone said she was pretty and said they wished they were tall and thin. But no one ever thought to hold or comfort her. They always assumed Susan could take care of herself. And they were right.
That didn’t mean she always wanted to.
She took a deep breath and turned to Bert. Thank goodness she hadn’t worn heels, or she’d have to bend even more to whisper in is ear. “So you obviously brought me here for a reason. What did you want to do to me?”
His voice was soft, and she wasn’t sure she heard him correctly over the music. “Whip you,” was her best guess.
She looked back at the woman in the middle. She did seem to be having a good time. But she also looked awfully exposed. Her thong exposed her ass, and two little electrical tape crosses covering her nipples and a leather collar was all she wore otherwise. And the idea of the little man next to her wielding the whip was nearly as strange an idea as sitting in his lap.
“Maybe,” she murmured and was annoyed when Bert looked obviously disappointed. It’s not the kind of thing he can expect a yes to right off the bat, is it? Whatever. I’m going to look around first.
She walked around the place, and the gazes of others followed. She was aware of them watching. It wasn’t precisely unusual. At six feet, she always got stares. A few turned their eyes shyly away when she met their gaze. Submissives perhaps? She’d heard about the BDSM scene, but it wasn’t obvious who was who. There was a blond god who was kneeling for his tiny Mistress. In street clothes, without the kneeling, she’d have never guessed who was in charge. Others stood at the edges, solitary, wearing provocative clothing but their preferences unclear. At least two women were naked and wore collars. There’s something you don’t see every day.
For a moment she wanted to hightail it out of the place, but they’d come in Bert’s car. It was all just a bit too strange. But she supposed as long as she kept her clothes on, she’d be all right.
One man caught her attention. He stared at her, and he didn’t look away. A handful of inches taller than her with broad shoulders, he was dressed outlandishly: in tight black pants tucked into his high boots, and a white shirt with a cravat that looked like something straight from the eighteenth century. He had a black bracelet on his wrist. His dark hair fell in waves to his shoulders. His chiseled chin and cheekbones stood in contrast to the sensuous, almost feminine curve of his lips, which quirked upward slightly in response to her look. She broke contact first, turning her head away from the gaze of his smoky eyes. She knew she wouldn’t appreciate it if her
date spent his time ogling other women, so she supposed she shouldn’t ogle men here either.
One of the doors had a cut-out window in it with bars instead of glass. She looked inside. There was a hirsute man there with welts on his ass, she guessed from the cane of the tall woman with him. Susan winced as the woman struck him again. It was the first woman she’d noticed with what she thought of as her own body type, and she at once identified with the woman because of her size and was repelled by her actions. What led someone to want to do such damage to another human being? A naked woman was manacled on the wall to the right and was squirming and laughing as a man in jeans and a T-shirt tickled her with a long feather. Susan took a breath. That was more like it, although she was no fan of being tickled. Softer. And she liked the idea of a man being in charge. Someone who could hold the person he’d tortured and teased after, and make them feel protected.
She made a face at herself. As a professional architect who expected to be treated as an equal by her male peers, she was surprised at her own prejudice. If the woman liked to be on top and the man wanted to submit, that ought to be fine. Still, the cane and those nasty red welts were way too intense.
There was a big difference between the pink skin of the sub in the middle and the raised red lines on the hairy man’s butt. She looked over at Bert, who had been following her around like a puppy and was now looking up at her hopefully. He wants to whip me, does he? What’s the Mae West quote? “I’ll try anything once, twice if I like it.”
Bert hadn’t brought anything with him, she was pretty sure, but maybe you borrowed stuff like whips from the club. Maybe it was a good thing he wasn’t as physically imposing as she would have liked. If it were the guy with the smoky eyes, I’d probably keel over and do whatever he asked. But with Bert, well... If he steps out of line, I can stop him.
“Show me what you have in mind. But no way am I getting naked in front of these people.”
He nodded and smiled, took her hand, and led her farther around the circular room. There were a few alcoves as well as rooms and a few tables in one of the alcoves with chairs and so forth for people to gather around and talk. He let go of her hand when he got to an unused table and pulled out a chair for her. She sat down, and he slid the chair under her. She expected him to run back and return with some hopefully not too vicious-looking implement, but instead he sat down cross-legged on the floor and took her left shoe off.
I’d better keep my legs crossed.
He could see right up her dress if she didn’t, although it seemed prudish to worry about her date seeing her panties when there were half a dozen completely naked women he could be looking at. We aren’t at that stage yet. I’m not sure we ever will be.
He started rubbing her foot. Okay, that feels nice enough. He’s buttering me up first, I guess.
She watched him for a moment, but his eyes were on her feet, so she started looking around. The brunette she’d seen first was being cuddled by her two tormenters, who had her sandwiched in a warm hug. Both of them, she noticed, wore black bracelets. Then they drew back, and the woman bent down and kissed the tip of the thigh-high boots of the domme and then the hand of the dom, and they all started picking up together. The domme was a little thing, one of those soft women men loved to cuddle. So was the sub. Sigh.
Bert was pulling at her other foot. She recrossed her legs quickly to let him get the other shoe off and continue, but she only glanced down for a second. She turned her head and caught the man who’d stared at her before. He was watching her with the same sardonic look on his face, as if he knew something she didn’t. It made her nervous. This time she turned away more pointedly, as if to show she didn’t care what his lips would feel like.
I’ve got a date, she told herself. But he sure is taking his time. Suddenly she felt something wet and slimy on her foot, and she looked down suddenly. Still not looking up, Bert had sucked her big toe into his mouth and seemed utterly enraptured. She pulled her foot back. Yuck!
“Go ahead and get the whip already,” she said crossly. He looked up at her, blinked in surprise.
“What whip?” he asked.
“Something soft and gentle,” she said. No need to go off the deep end. She already regretted asking for it, but anything was better than having his tongue on her foot. There was kinky, and there was weird. Probably some people liked that sort of thing, and more power to them, but no thank you.
“I’ll, um, see what I can do.” He had a decidedly odd expression on his face as he got up and walked away.
Curious, she watched him as he approached a woman in leather pants and a bustier only to be greeted with a shake of the head. Then he moved on to another woman with garish lipstick and voluminous blonde hair, whose outfit had metal spikes coming out of it. She laughed at him with such obvious contempt Susan felt like going over and smacking her, but she’d probably get hurt on one of those spikes. The woman could barely move around without poking someone, and people were giving her a wide berth.
Well, at least there’s one woman who looks less cuddly than I do.
She had to admit Bert didn’t look very dominant at the moment--okay, he had never looked dominant--but it took guts to bring her to a place like this. Would have taken more guts to tell me where we were going in advance.
Eventually, Bert came back holding a black whip whose numerous tails extended a foot and a half from an unadorned handle. He knelt in front of her and lifted the handle reverently in both hands, his own gaze fixed on the floor.
“Huh?” All the clues suddenly came together in her head. He doesn’t want to dominate me. He wants
me to dominate
him. And he wants to suck on my toes. Yuck.
She snatched the whip from his hands. She wasn’t sure what she was going to do with it. She felt like throwing it on the ground, but she realized belatedly it was someone else’s property. Instead she put it on the table. No wonder Bert didn’t come prepared with his own gear. He didn’t have this planned out in the first place.
“I brought you a whip as you requested, Mistress.”
Why did men insist on seeing her as some kind of fantasy and never as a woman? She took a deep breath, and then remembered the conversation she’d had with Bert when they’d first entered the club. She must not have heard him correctly. “I thought you said earlier that you wanted to whip me.”
“Me. Whip you?” At least he looked up at her. “I would never even think of such a thing. You’re like a goddess, and I worship the very ground you walk on.”
Worship. That’s what he said. Yet he couldn’t even ask me first before taking me to a place like this.
Her jaw tightened, and she clenched her fists in anger.
“Please, Mistress, if I’ve angered you, feel free to beat me.” His head went down again. Yeah, she was definitely angry.
And then she laughed. He’s looking at his true love, after all. The floor. Not me. Just some imaginary person, a role into which he’s slotted me.
“We’re done, Bert. You had no right to take me here without warning me. And I don’t want to be your mistress.”
“Have I been unworthy? Please, Mistress, forgive this humble--”
“Go find some other woman to fulfill your little fantasy.” She was starting to get annoyed by the sound of his voice.
To her surprise, he suddenly developed a backbone. Not that the look on his face was particularly attractive as he straightened and stood. “Fine. Leave. The doorman will get you a taxi.”
She noted he wasn’t offering to pay for it. And with the place in the middle of nowhere, it would take a long time to get a taxi out here, and the fare home wouldn’t be cheap either. Besides, she wasn’t about to take orders from him. “Oh, no. I’m staying. I like it here.” That was an exaggeration, but she was
curious. She could never be one of those cuddly little subs, all curves and softness, but the idea of it tugged at her. To give up control for an hour or a day and let someone care for and protect her. Yes.
She’d watch, until the pain of watching became too much. She leaned back in her chair, trying to look as comfortable and as immovable as possible.
Bert grinned nastily at her. “Members and guests only. I’m afraid you’re no longer my guest, so you have to leave.”
“Or what? You’re going to throw me out?” Sometimes being big had its advantages.
“Nah. That’s what the bouncer is for.” He walked off. She expected him to head to the door, but he didn’t. Instead he made a beeline to the couple who had been flogging the sub in the middle of the room earlier. They talked for a few minutes with glances in her direction. Finally the woman walked over toward her.
She was maybe five-five, plus a few inches for her heels, a far cry from a muscular bouncer. “Hello. I’m Mistress Elizabeth,” the woman said, her voice cool.
“Pleased to meet you. I’m Susan.” If she thinks I’m impressed because she put the word
mistress in front of her name, she’s in for a shock.
“Hello, Susan. This is my club. Mine and my husband’s. I don’t recall seeing you around here before. Are you a member?”
“No, I’m not.” She could see where this was headed. And she’d walk on out if it wasn’t what Bert wanted her to do.
“I’m not sure how you got in, then, but this is a private club, and I’m afraid it’s members and guests only. One of our members says you were abusive to him and refused to accept the club safe word.”
“Abusive to him? Because I wouldn’t let him suck my toe? And what’s a safe word?”
Elizabeth frowned. “Are you new to BDSM?”
“A safe word is a word set up in advance that requires the participants to stop their scene immediately. Usually a sub will use it when they feel their physical or emotional safety is threatened. In this case the word is mayday.
Did you read the club rules?”
“What club rules?” This isn’t going well. Dammit.
“They’re posted all over the place.” Elizabeth gestured around, and sure enough, Susan noticed white sheets of paper taped to the walls and a couple of supporting pillars. The people had been too much of a spectacle to pay much attention to signs. On the one closest, she could make out the word RULES in block letters, and EXCESS below it in flowery script. There was probably an “of”in between them. “If you haven’t read the rules and you aren’t a member, you have to go.”
She would have gladly made a strong man or two drag her out kicking and screaming, but she wasn’t going to fight this woman. Elizabeth actually sounded regretful about throwing her out. Susan started to get up to go when a strong hand on her shoulder pushed her back down into the chair. She looked behind her.
Standing there was the man who’d been watching her earlier. Up close he seemed taller. He had a rich, deep baritone. “She’s my guest, Mistress Elizabeth. She was supposed to read the rules, and I’ll punish her for her omission.”
The word sent shivers down her spine, along with a dose of anger. Who does he think he is?
But she wanted to see how it would play out. He spoke with such perfect assurance. No one ever treated her that way. She wanted to sink into the feeling, let him take care of everything, and she didn’t even know him. The weight she’d always borne on her shoulders felt lifted, just a little.
Elizabeth looked up at him without blinking. All their attention was on each other, and only the touch of his hand, right where her neckline met her shoulder, half on flesh and half on fabric, indicated they even knew she was there. “Master Vincent,” Elizabeth said with a nod. “There is still the matter of her ignoring the club safe word.”
Vincent’s sensuous mouth curved upward in amusement. “I assure you I didn’t use the safe word.”
“Not you. Your ‘guest’ was apparently topping another man, a regular here. Have you met Bert?”
Vincent nodded. “I know Bert. He predates you here, actually. He’s been coming here a long time. And what did my guest do, exactly?”
“She was using that flogger on him.” Elizabeth nodded over at it.
Susan opened her mouth to object, but Vincent spoke first. “Not a very sophisticated implement. Looks homemade, in fact, and probably a first attempt at that.” They were still ignoring her.
“Yes. Well, everyone starts someplace.”
He picked it up. “Goat skin? Hard to imagine it doing enough damage to merit a safe word.”
Elizabeth frowned. “Indeed.”
“And besides, I didn’t swing it at anyone!” Susan cried. “He brought it to--”
Vincent squeezed her shoulder. “Quiet, sub. That’s two extra strokes. I’m more than capable of defending you. I think, Mistress Elizabeth, you’re being taken for a ride. I’ve been keeping my eye on her. She never swung the flogger. He brought it to her; she took it and laid it on the table. I don’t think she thought she was doing a scene at all. For some reason Bert has an animus toward my submissive.”
He’s been keeping an eye on me. His submissive. He obviously has me confused with those soft girls. And what the hell does he mean by two extra strokes?
Or maybe he’s being a white knight, correcting injustice, and feeding her a few lines to make it all work.
She smiled slightly. He didn’t look like a Galahad. A Lancelot, maybe. If ever a face had sin written over it, it was Vincent’s.
“My apologies, Master Vincent.”
What about apologizing to me?
“You acted with the information you had, Mistress Elizabeth. No harm done. And I certainly should have made sure she read the rules. The flogger belongs to the new dom with the red hair. Do you know his name? I’d like to return it to him.”
“Sir Rusty.” Elizabeth reached for the flogger at the same time he did. “I want to talk to him anyway. He might add some information.”
“Of course.” Vincent took his hand off the flogger.
Mistress Elizabeth took the flogger and then finally looked at Susan. “Enjoy your stay, Susan. And do read the rules.” To her surprise, the woman actually smiled at her.
“Thank you, Elizabeth,” Susan said, thinking she should try to be polite.
Elizabeth shot Vincent a look, shaking her head. “Good luck with her,” she said and walked away.
“Susan, hmm?” said Vincent when Elizabeth was out of earshot. “I’m Vincent. Master Vincent to you. Well, Susan, if you wish to stay, go read the rules, and then come back to me for your punishment.”
She had no problems with reading the rules, and got up out of her chair before the rest sank in. “Punishment?”
“As I promised Mistress Elizabeth,” said Master Vincent, taking the chair she’d gotten out of, sliding it back a few inches, and then sitting down. “Although I think I would have found an excuse anyway.”
“What makes you think I even want to stay?”
Vincent smiled and met her gaze but didn’t say a word.
“What kind of punishment?” she said at last.
“Read the rules, and then we’ll talk.”
Talking didn’t sound too bad. She turned away and walked to one of the pillars to read the fine print.
RULES OF EXCESS
ABSOLUTELY NO PHOTOGRAPHY OF ANY KIND. IF YOUR CELL PHONE HAS A CAMERA IN IT, YOU MAY ONLY USE IT OUTSIDE THE BUILDING.
FOR EVERYONE’S SAFETY, MASTER GRAY, MISTRESS ELIZABETH, AND OTHER DUNGEON MONITORS ARE TO BE OBEYED AT ALL TIMES. PLEASE SHOW THEM PROPER RESPECT. THEY ARE IDENTIFIED BY THE BLACK STEEL BRACELETS THEY WEAR.
NO ONE BUT DUNGEON MONITORS APPROVED BY MISTRESS ELIZABETH OR MASTER GRAY MAY WEAR BLACK STEEL BRACELETS.
THE CLUB SAFE WORD IS MAYDAY. DOMINANTS MUST
HONOR THE CLUB SAFE WORD.
NO WATER SPORTS OR SCAT.
CLEAN UP ALL BODILY FLUIDS AFTER A SCENE AND DISINFECT THE EQUIPMENT WITH THE SPRAY BOTTLES PROVIDED.
MORE INTIMATE SCENES SHOULD HAPPEN PRIMARILY IN THE THEME ROOMS.
Susan pursed her lips. More intimate scenes.
So naked cuddling wasn’t considered “more intimate.” She wondered what would qualify. And Vincent was a dungeon monitor, whatever that meant. Was that why he expected her to obey him? She didn’t think his threatened punishment had much to do with her safety.
She walked back and stood in front of him. “So.”
He looked up at her with the same amused grin on his face. “So you didn’t read the rules, you interrupted, and you didn’t properly address Mistress Elizabeth. Whatever am I going to do with you?”
“Look, this is all a mistake. My date brought me here, I didn’t want to leave because he was telling me to, that’s all. I was just being contrary.”
“That’s all quite true. And that was all there was to it?”
“Leave, if you like. You won’t get back in. Or you could take a chance and stay under my protection. Following my directions. I’ll teach you what you need to know to thrive here. It’s your choice, really. In the end, it’s always the submissive’s choice. In the middle, well, that’s sometimes a different story. I think it’s the middle that makes you curious.”
There was that word again. “What makes you call me a submissive?”
“I watched you. The way you looked away when you met my eyes. The way you asked Bert to whip you, thinking he was a dominant, even though you obviously didn’t have any respect for him. You may have just been curious about the sensations, but trust me, it’s better with someone you respect. If you walk away, you’ll wonder what could have happened. If you’re brave enough to stay, I promise you that you won’t get hurt. Feel pain, perhaps. Get hurt, no.”
He was sitting back in his chair looking so utterly relaxed it boggled her. Men didn’t talk to her that way, especially when asking her for a date--if that was what he was doing. They stuttered and didn’t look her in the eyes. Some stared at her tits instead and tried to pretend otherwise. His gaze was roving her body, taking it all in, but when he looked at her face again, there was no attempt to hide what he was doing, just a smile to let her know he’d enjoyed the view.
She looked toward the door, her heart pounding. A nice safe taxi ride versus a stranger who expected her to submit to him. Who wanted to punish her. Two more strokes of what?
It would be an expensive taxi ride, but she could afford it this once.
She wasn’t completely ignorant about BDSM, although everything she knew came from fiction. She’d found it hot in a dozen or so books. She was enticed by the idea of giving up control, of doing things she’d never be able to do without being guided, almost forced. Men didn’t ever see that in her, but he had. This chance wouldn’t come again.
She turned back to him. “If I yelled mayday, what would happen?”
“I would stop whatever I was doing to you and make sure you were okay. Mistress Elizabeth or Master Gray or possibly both would probably come running to find out what was going on. If I was harming you in any way, they would stop me. If you have to do that, you yell it out as loud as you can, so everyone can hear.”
“Fine. You won’t cover my mouth or gag me or anything like that?”
He chuckled. “No. If you scream when you come, I want to hear it.”
Her heart skipped a beat. “In your dreams.”
He raised an eyebrow. “First lesson. That’s ‘in your dreams, Sir.’”
She stared at him for a moment. He wasn’t objecting to what she said, just how she’d said it. She knew deep down she’d been trying to get a rise out of him, to even the scales for the effect he had on her. “In your dreams, Sir.”
“Good. You learn quickly. Second lesson. It’s rude to stand when your dom is sitting down.”
“There aren’t any other chairs here right now.” She noticed at a nearby table about six people were gathered. They’d probably had to steal chairs from other tables.
“That would be rude too unless you were invited to sit in a chair. Your proper place is to kneel on the floor. If you value your knees, you’ll ask to get a cushion, and you’d likely be given permission.”
“Where are the cushions?” She looked around.
He tapped his fingers on the table and waited.
“May I get a cushion?”
He arched an eyebrow.
“Yes. They’re just inside the railing of the center area. I think a blue one would suit you quite nicely.”
Sindra van Yssel