I was only partially prepared when Friday night rolled along. I had the outfit, that wasn’t the problem. Short, black miniskirt, topped with a black-and-white houndstooth sweater. A throwback to the ’50s. Sexy yet conservative. A little retro. Just like me.
It was the mental preparation I was lacking. Finally coming face-to-face with the answers to dozens of questions I’d tossed around over the years. I’d seen the actors on video, but what would an actual Dom really look like? Or sound like? And would I—could I—find someone I’d actually permit to dominate me? I never listened to anyone. Why would I bother listening to him? Whoever he might be?
Carpooling seemed sensible, so we assembled at the mall parking lot and piled into Marybeth’s minivan, pushing her kids’ empty snack wrappers and juice boxes to the floor. Wasn’t this the way every smothering sexpot showed up at an S&M club? In a vehicle that screamed “Suburban Soccer Mom”? I secretly prayed we’d park a few blocks away so no one would see us emerge and label us as tourists or PTA meeting refugees.
Throughout the car ride, the other girls discussed the evening ahead, but I was lost in my own thoughts and anticipation. I hoped no one would notice my quivering hands or my sweaty palms. Occasionally, I squeezed my thighs together, strengthening the arousal brought on by a particularly enticing thought or scenario.
“We’re here,” Marybeth announced. “You all get out and I’ll find a place to park.”
I peered out the window. We’re where?
It was the industrial part of town. Warehouses. Deserted, which was unsurprising, considering the late hour. Nothing to indicate any club anywhere.
“Are you sure?” Patsy was obviously thinking the same thing.
“This is it. Trust me,” said Chessie. “I won’t lead you astray. Not this early in the evening, anyway.”
There was no way to look anything but clumsy and awkward toppling out from the backseat of a minivan onto the street, but my prayers had been answered; no one was around to notice. Once Marybeth parked the car and rejoined the group, Chessie led us down an alley to a nondescript building and pushed aside a curtain of black rubber vertical strips, almost like the flaps you’d see at a carwash. Behind it stood a door that any outsider would have passed without a second thought. She knocked three times, and a tall, stocky gentleman appeared.
“Davo sent me,” she said.
The door swung open and the man who had an oversize gold BRANDON name medallion dangling around his neck, beckoned us inside.
“It pays to have friends in low places. Meet our Dungeon Master.” She gave him a hug and then smiled back at us over her shoulder. Chessie knew the password, the places, and the people. Impressive…and enviable.
At once self-conscious, I pulled at my miniskirt as we descended the two narrow flights of stairs to the basement of the building, toward the pounding beats and blare of Adam Lambert’s “For Your Entertainment.” It was almost pitch black on the dungeon level, except for tracer lights along the floor and small spotlights shining on various pieces of equipment scattered throughout the space. I feigned a look of confusion, but I knew the names of all the BDSM furniture from my research: spanking benches, a giant wooden X called a St. Andrew’s Cross, stocks, upholstered horses, bondage wheels, and even a rack. Chains and cuffs swayed enticingly from the ceiling. It all looked exactly as I’d seen online. Don’t gawk, Kira. Don’t gawk
. I felt a shiver of anticipation, goosebumps rising on my arms like a cobra being charmed out of its basket.
“Does anyone want a drink?” Chessie asked, leading us to the bar. “Non-alcoholic only. It’s a no-no to drink and play.”
I ordered a diet soda and looked around as the song changed to “Beast of Burden.” Television monitors up high broadcasted fetish-clothed women in cheesy-looking spanking scenes. An occasional shriek from a participant secured to some torture device. Whippings synchronized to the slow heavy beat. The smell of sweat and excitement in the air. Even a boutique to the side of the bar that featured an assortment of paddles, whips, and crops for sale to anyone who had mistakenly left theirs at home. It was overwhelming and intoxicating all at once.
“Did you see?” Patsy practically yelled in my ear to be heard over the music, now changing over to “Under My Thumb.” Obviously it was Stones night.
“See what?” I shouted back.
“Look across the bar.”
I’m not sure which dropped first when I made him out, my stomach or my jaw. Grahame Gaines. That oddball from Tuesday’s tournament. Muscular chest clad in a black T-shirt, squeezed in-between a gorgeous drag queen and a menacing-looking Dominatrix, vying for the bartender’s attention. I looked away quickly, praying that he didn’t see me and wishing there was some structure nearby I could duck behind. The last thing I needed was to hand someone enough ammunition to kill my reputation at the Scrabble club. Once my competitors had something like this on me, no one would ever take me seriously again. I could already imagine the whispered gossip, the thinly masked innuendoes, and the immediate fall from grace. Fuck. Three years’ worth of work, all shot down because of one evening of curiosity quenching.
“What’s up with you?” asked Patsy. “You’re shaking. You didn’t steal anything from the guy, did you?”
“I don’t want to be recognized is all.”
“Well, calm down. Relax. He’s gone.”
I turned back around and blew a sigh of relief. It was true. He was out of eyeshot. Maybe he’d gone home. Nah, probably not. It was still pretty early. Far more likely that he was off playing on the floor. I felt a shiver shoot up and down my spine. Had I already met a Dom and not even realized it?
I twirled my straw around in my soda glass as I thought back over our game.
Clearly pissed that I had come late to the table, he’d laid down a request for an “apology.” When I fail to respond, he had reiterated, “When can I expect one?”
His second word, “defy.” Admonishing me with his scowl and his tiles.
In retrospect, it was kind of sexy. He definitely had a way with words. And I’d been too damned hell-bent on winning to notice. I felt a pang of disappointment, but it was competing for attention with an equally strong and surprising jolt of arousal at the thought of being dominated in such a subtle, skillful way. Perhaps our paths should cross again. Preferably sooner rather than later.
“Wanna look around a little?” I yelled to Patsy.
“Sure. I think Chessie and the other girls headed over to that cross thingie.”
I slurped the last of my soda, and we headed to the rear of the club, with me scanning every face for a glance of my Word Dom. It was a frustrating search. Even when I could make out a body in the dark, many of the Doms were wearing masks or had their faces turned away as they concentrated on disciplining their partners. A short, bald man was whipping a girl as she writhed with pleasure. A few feet away, a Dominatrix clad in purple leather was spanking a man positioned over her lap, wearing a diaper. Off to the side, a pair of short, plump men, each dressed as Little Miss Muffet, were asking passersby to massage their “tuffets.” They would have almost pulled it off, if it hadn’t been for their mustaches and beards. Many people to peruse and scenes to watch. But no Grahame Gaines.
I tried to concentrate and take in all I could, but my synapses were shooting in multiple directions at once, imagining how that Scrabble game could have gone had I been paying attention. After about two hours of half-watching and half-inspecting the crowd, Marybeth tapped us each on the shoulder. Early day tomorrow, kids off to soccer, have to head back up north. I wanted to kick myself for not giving this real-time learning opportunity my full attention. With a deep sigh of resignation, I joined the group.
Two long flights up, the din of the music fading, I was grateful for the cool breeze that wafted toward me as I approached the exit. I gulped in the fresh air and was eager to be free of the evening and its revelations, when steps from the door, a strong hand grabbed my right arm and dragged me back onto the landing. What the hell? Shaking from surprise and hot with anger, I tried to steady myself and appear calm as I realized that my detainer was Brandon. Mr. Gold-Neck-Chain Dungeon Master. What had I done wrong now?
“You Kira?” Deep. Authoritative.
I nodded, afraid that if I spoke, my voice would betray my jangled nerves.
“I’ve got something for you,” he said, shoving a crumpled ball of paper into my free hand. “Don’t let go of it for a second. You’re to read it when you get home. When you’re alone and undressed. Not a minute before. Got it?”
I was frazzled, torn between an indignant, Says who?
and a submissive, Yes, Sir
. I decided on an indifferent, “Yeah. Whatever.” But I couldn’t hear myself over the booming reverberations of my pounding heart.
I squeezed the note tightly, yanked back my arm, and made a run for the door.