Gray Merritt clasped Joe’s meaty hand and shook it hard. Joe was a fixture in the local scene even though the big burly man wasn’t really a part of it. Joe had been a bouncer at Excess as long as the place had been in existence. Seven years. As far as Gray knew, the man had no interest in any of the kinky games people played behind the dark steel door, but he knew everybody.
“Been a long time, my man,” said Joe.
“Weeks,” acknowledged Gray, not sure whether he was agreeing or disagreeing.
“Some fine, fine looking ladies on the inside,” Joe said. Gray wasn’t sure when Joe had started saying ladies
and stopped saying pieces of ass
, but it was a good change. “Some I haven’t seen before. One or two that are your type.”
His type. Joe meant submissive. Gray nodded. “I’ll have to check ’em out, see if I get lucky.”
“Do you ever get un
lucky?” Joe shook his head. “Man, I don’t remember seeing the day.”
Gray shrugged. “It happens.” He had a good reputation as a caring dom who could give a sub what she needed, and a little empathy went a long way. Excess was a membership or invitation only club, and Joe was posted to make sure it stayed that way. Any sub either knew Gray already or knew someone who would vouch for him.
Gray walked in, declined the offer of a glass of wine from the waitress in the leather French maid outfit, and scanned the place. He let himself take in the pretty parts of the scenery. Most of the time when he came to Excess, he was content to hang out with friends. Subs would come to him, meekly avert their eyes, and he would play with one if he thought his whims and her desires would match that evening. If they didn’t, it never bothered him. He’d rather be picky than risk a bad scene. But tonight was different. Tonight he definitely wanted to get laid. And Betsy Castle was to blame.
It had been ten years since he’d seen Betsy. They were lovers their entire last year of college, way before he’d discovered BDSM. He’d thought they might build a life together, although there had never been any promises. Certainly the sex was blistering hot. Whether he’d find vanilla sex with any woman quite that arousing again, he didn’t know. Still, the memory of her--with her full breasts and rounded thighs, her soft, plump lips and darkest chocolate eyes--was enough to give him a raging hard-on. He didn’t know if she’d be at the reunion, but there was always a chance. She hadn’t shown up for the five year, so she probably wouldn’t be there for this one either, but he hadn’t been able to stop thinking about the possibilities.
She’d gotten a job on the West Coast, San Francisco. He was blurry on the details, something in finance, in the foreign currency markets, working for a big English bank. Great pay for someone fresh out of college. She'd offered to take him with her and put him through grad school, but he wasn’t going to spend his life playing second fiddle to a woman. He supposed he had a little of the dominant in him even then. Or maybe he’d been plain stubborn. Too stubborn to let her know he wanted her to stay with him, because he knew it was selfish to deny her the golden opportunity. Too stubborn to write her so much as an e-mail once she’d left. She’d been just as stubborn. He wondered if she still thought of him. He doubted it.
He shook his head to clear his mind and started scanning again. He wasn’t after novelty tonight. He didn’t need to find yet another way to get a woman off. He just wanted a nice soft woman with a tight pussy and an insatiable appetite, a submissive he could enter time and time again until both of them were exhausted and satisfied. He didn’t think he’d find anyone to make him forget Betsy, but at least he would lack the energy to jerk off to his memories.
He spotted Amanda near the center of the room, talking to the waitress. She would do nicely. She didn’t want a collar any more than he wanted to collar anyone. She was wearing the sort of outfit she usually wore when she was trying to attract dominant attention, which was most of the time: a purple leather bra under a translucent white blouse tied to bare her stomach, and a plaid skirt that didn’t cover her ass. Her blonde hair was tied up, and her fake black-rimmed glasses were firmly in place, more librarian than schoolgirl, but what the hell. She’d never said no to him yet, and she knew full well any man would love to take those glasses off and make her long hair fall down around her shoulders. She was scrawnier than he would have preferred, but she was always fun. And what had she said to him the last time they’d played? “Anytime
.” He knew she didn’t say that to everyone.
He strode down the five steps from the gallery, where people lounged and chatted, to the pit, as the regulars called it, and walked over to her. The pit was full of bondage equipment, some in use, some not. He ignored the scenes going on around him. Normally he appreciated seeing how other people did things, hoping to pick up ideas, but tonight he couldn’t care less. He intercepted Amanda after she took two cups of white wine, one in each hand. Offering a dom a glass of wine was one of many ways a sub could show interest without seeming impertinent. He suspected that was exactly Amanda’s plan. He was simply making sure it was him.
He took the glass out of her left hand and smiled at her. “For me?” He didn’t usually drink at Excess because alcohol and BDSM could be a bad mix. But one glass wouldn’t affect him.
She stopped and lowered her eyes. “Master Gray.”
He pushed her chin up. “Good girl,” he told her.
She still averted her eyes, which wasn’t a good sign. Something was definitely wrong. “Are you okay, Amanda?” It didn’t matter what his needs were tonight; if a friend needed a friend, thatwas what he’d be.
“I’m afraid, Sir, that I’m spoken for tonight.”
He blinked. The two glasses weren’t part of a come-on, after all. He handed her back the glass. On any other day he’d have let it go. But this time he asked. “Who is he?”
“Not a he this time. She. A new mistress at the club. I think she’s a pro domme.”
He vaguely recalled Amanda swung both ways. He smiled and nodded, graciously he hoped.
“Well, you’ll have to introduce me at least. Maybe she and I can come to an arrangement.”
She blinked at him twice. He was willing to bet her heart sped up at the thought. He was also willing to bet an offer to buy her from her mistress for the night would push all the right buttons. Even though he usually found auctions silly and the idea of buying someone ludicrous, since Amanda was her own woman except for a few hours at a time, he loved to please.
“Yes, Sir,” said Amanda. She walked across the pit, weaving her way politely around the backswing of a hefty dom flogging his petite sub. Gray followed. Mark had made Jolene’s bottom a pretty shade of pink, but she was tougher than she looked. Mark was getting a workout.
Sitting alone on a chair was a voluptuous leather-clad beauty. Her face was turned away, looking out the smoky window at the moonlit river beyond. She wasn’t very tall, although it was hard to tell for sure with her sitting down; still, in thigh-high boots with stiletto heels, her legs looked long, and there was healthy expanse of soft thigh between the top of the boots and her high-cut leather shorts. The tight corset she wore pushed her full breasts up so nicely he could almost imagine it was his hands doing the pushing. It was clear she was all soft woman in that austere outfit. Too bad she was a domme.
“Mistress Elizabeth, Master Gray requested an introduction.”
The domme turned and took the glass of wine. “Thank you, Amanda.” She looked up at Gray, and he found himself staring into the deepest chocolate brown eyes he’d ever seen.
“You!” said Mistress Elizabeth.
He didn’t have to ask. He’d never forget those eyes or the rest of her. No wonder he’d instantly thought of his hands on her breasts; the last time he’d seen her, his
hands had been roaming her body, feeling her softness, trying to make good-bye sex something so good she’d want to come back for more. His cock was instantly, painfully hard. He wanted to climb on her, push her shorts aside, and fuck her senseless right then and there.
“My, my, my. Gray Merritt,” said Betsy. Her voice had lost some of the southern drawl it used to have, but it was still her voice. “I thought I’d play with a girl today--women are so much simpler and more sensible--but I could make an exception for you if you’d like to be my boy toy.”
Amanda’s jaw dropped. “Boy toy? Master Gray?”
Gray’s lips slowly curved into a smile. He wasn’t thrilled about Betsy having used his last name in front of Amanda, because he valued his privacy. Dr. Merritt, physics professor at RadsonUniversity, preferred not to be connected to Master Gray. He didn’t call her on it. Seeing him here might have been as much of a shock to her as seeing her had been for him. “Funny, I had been planning to play with a sub, but I’m happy enough to master you instead.” How many times had he played that scenario in his head? He’d lost count. He leaned forward until he was an inch away from her, nose to nose, eye to eye. “It’s been a while, Betsy.”
Her breath was hot against his, and for a moment, he thought she was going to go for it. Her gaze softened, and then she set her jaw. “It’s Elizabeth now, Gray. Mistress Elizabeth. No one calls me Betsy.”
“You two know each other?” asked Amanda.
“We go way back, don’t we, Betsy?”
“Uh-oh,” said Amanda.
Betsy stuck out her jaw and tilted her nose up until she had to look past it to see him. “I’m no sub, Gray, never was and never will be.”
Gray didn’t back up an inch. “Me neither.”
“You could both play with me,” said Amanda, her voice getting ever quieter.
Gray pulled Betsy half out of her chair, pressing his mouth hard against hers. Her lips parted, responsive, yielding for a moment as his tongue entered her mouth.
Then he felt her grab his hair and force his head back. That didn’t end the kiss, however, as her lips followed him, her tongue wrestling with his.
Damn her lips feel good
. He tried to shake her hand out of his hair, but of course that only caused her to pull more. He’d never seen her hair anything but short before; now it hung in long and luxurious black waves over her shoulders. He grabbed it and tugged. He knew he was stronger than she was, but he’d never used his strength against a woman who wasn’t fully willing, and he steeled himself to pull only slightly harder than she was. He had more to grip, that was all. She bit his lip, hard, and he tasted blood. Reluctantly, he let go. So did she.
“Damn, Betsy.” He wiped his lip with his arm, which he instantly realized was a mistake. Scratch one white shirt
. That bloodstain wasn’t likely to come out.
“Fuck, Gray.” She kicked the chair to the side as she stood up. Even in those heels, she was several inches shorter than he was, but it didn’t seem to faze her. She stood toe-to-toe with him, staring him down. He stared back. Neither gave any ground.
“Ten years, you never wrote.”
“Ten years, you never did either.”
People were gathering around, making a half circle around the two of them. Amanda took a step back, joining the spectators, and Gray felt a twinge of guilt. He was violating one of the club's big rules, breaking into a scene negotiated between two other consenting adults. The only reason he hadn’t gotten busted for it was Betsy and Amanda hadn’t gotten hot and heavy yet. Normally he would have found the idea of watching the two of them a turn-on, but right now he wanted to pick Betsy up, put her over his shoulder, and carry her out of the club. He’d have to hold in the caveman impulse for now. It was painfully obvious Betsy wasn’t going to consent to that kind of treatment. He was only a Neanderthal when it was mutually satisfying. He took a breath.
Betsy stood legs apart, her hands on her hips. That she hadn’t called him on the carpet for busting her scene was the only thing that gave Gray any sense of optimism the confrontation might turn out well. And what did he want anyway? He wanted to fuck her, sure. He wanted her back in his life, maybe. She was almost certainly only here for the weekend, with her high-finance career and all in California. What the hell was she doing here? And when had she become “Mistress Elizabeth”?
He took in the sight of the soft curves. Watching her breasts swell and strain against the black leather of the corset wasn’t going to help him think. He shifted his gaze back to her face and saw her plump lips curve slightly at one corner. She’d caught him looking, and she wanted him to know his wandering gaze had been noticed.
“I’m sorry,” he said. He hadn’t had to apologize for much in his years of going to Excess, and the words felt strange. “I was taken by surprise. I didn’t expect to see you here, of course. Can we start again?”
Betsy nodded and turned. “Amanda.”
“Yes, Mistress Elizabeth.” Amanda stepped forward but didn’t kneel the way Gray half expected her to.
“I’m sorry to have been distracted. If you wish, I will proceed as we discussed, as is my obligation to you for your lovely gift of submission. Or, if you prefer, I will release you.”
Amanda nodded. “It’s no fun to serve someone who would rather be elsewhere, Mistress. And besides, I don’t really wish to have Master Gray pissed at me. Please release me.”
Betsy nodded. “You are released, Amanda, and thank you for the glass of wine.”
Gray knew Amanda would have no trouble finding a play partner. She never did. Still, he appreciated her graciousness. “Amanda, I owe you.”
“I’ll take you up on that sometime.” Amanda curtsied and stepped back out of his line of vision.
“Thank you, Betsy,” Gray said.
Betsy glared at him. “Elizabeth.”
“Elizabeth,” Gray conceded through gritted teeth. He let out a breath, then dropped his voice low so the onlookers couldn’t hear. “You know what I’ve been dreaming of for ten years?”
Betsy’s face softened, and her eyes twinkled. “What?”
“Of taking you, stripping you naked, tying you to my bed, and fucking you until you scream.”
She chuckled. “What a coincidence.”
He wasn’t nearly enough of an optimist to think she wanted what he wanted. “How so?”
She leaned forward and rubbed her breasts against him. He could feel the boning of the corset digging into his flesh, and it didn’t feel at all like the soft Betsy he remembered. She smiled up at him. “I’ve had this dream of taking you, stripping you naked, tying you to my bed, letting you pleasure me, and then teasing you until you beg me to let you come.” She took a step back and smirked at him.
. “Not going to happen.”
“You’re not going to top me,” Elizabeth told him, “but don’t worry, no one else is either. There’s only one way I like it. That’s with me on top.”
“What a coincidence,” he said, matching her earlier tone. This was getting nowhere, and the gossip-hungry crowd wasn’t helping. He glanced around. “None of this is any of your business, so scram.”
He would normally be more polite, especially as some of the people were his friends, but she’d gotten under his skin and good. A few walked away, enough so those remaining felt self-conscious and followed. He turned back toward Betsy. “So, Elizabeth, how’ve you been?”
“Very well, actually. And you?”
He thought for a moment. He had tenure at the university, taught two classes a week, had a big research grant, and had a wide variety of sex partners. Something was missing, to be sure, but he didn’t feel like he had a right to complain. “Fine, fine. Taking the world of finance by storm?”
“I quit after a year.”
“You what?” It was the thing that broke them up, and she quit?
She shrugged. “I started doing a few dominatrix gigs on the side, and it wasn’t long before I realized it paid nearly as well and was a heck of a lot more fun.” She took note of the expression on his face and added, “People change, Gray. I’m sorry you thought I was obligated to stay in one line of work to satisfy your ego.”
. Was that it? He didn’t like to think so, but it was too close to what he had been thinking for him to refute it.
“You’re a full professor now, one of the fastest to tenure of any faculty in the history of our alma mater,” Elizabeth told him. “Very impressive.”
She’d obviously taken the time to look him up. He smiled. “Boned up before the exam at the reunion, I see. Just like old times.”
“Except some of the boning back then wasn’t studying.” She licked her upper lip seductively, and his cock twitched. No, some of it hadn’t been. Some of it had been hard, hot, sweaty sex, in the bed, against the wall, wherever. And the way she licked her lip reminded him of what her lips had felt like around his cock.
“Good point. You can have some more of that action if you like. All you have to do is submit to me.” He reached out, stroked her cheek, and then slid his hand down to her neck. Right where a collar would go. She tilted her head to let him. For a moment, he thought he had her.
She brought her hand forward and gripped his rigid cock, kneading it through his pants. A little friction made it ache. He had to have her, or he was going to be thinking about her hand there for the next ten years.
“I’ll get you off, Gray. Just like old times. I’ll have you gasping and squirting hot, wet cum. Maybe I’ll let you come on my tits. Would you like that? Or if you’re very, very good, I might even let you come inside me.” She licked her lips again, indicating where. “All you have to do is follow instructions. That’s not very much to ask, is it? You know I won’t hurt you.” She squeezed his cock extra hard, and he was about to tell her that was something very much like hurting, but it felt too damn good. He wondered if she could feel him pulse through the fabric. “And you really want to come, don’t you, Gray?”
He grabbed her around the waist and held her firmly so she couldn’t escape what he was going to do next. All’s fair in love and war
. He wasn’t entirely sure if this was love or war as he grabbed her crotch and insinuated a finger under the inseam of her shorts. Moisture rewarded his touch immediately. “I’m not the only one,” he said, trying not to look at the shocked expression on her face. She tried to wiggle away. There was a club safe word--mayday--and she could use if she really wanted to be let go. Assuming she’d read the rules. If she wanted to be a dominatrix at Excess, she’d better have read the rules.
“Get your finger out of my pussy, Gray,” she whispered.
“Only if you quit squeezing my cock, Betsy. You want me. Face it.”
For answer, she squeezed harder. If it was meant as a power play, she’d be better off going for his balls, but if she did, he was sure he could make her regret it. If her point was he wanted her as badly, well, damn straight.
“Elizabeth,” she said.
It took him a moment to remember he’d called her Betsy several seconds ago. Elizabeth was going to take some getting used to, but he could see why “Mistress Betsy” didn’t have the same ring. Although it wasn’t like he was ever going to call her Mistress anyway. “Fine. My house or your hotel?”
“What’s wrong with right here, right now?” Elizabeth asked, challenging him.
There were private rooms at the club. It wasn’t unheard of for people to have sex in the gallery, but it was usually done at least somewhat discreetly. Even at Excess, some things were gauche. For a change, though, he barely cared. “Sure. I’ll come to San Francisco and fuck you in front of your friends, just to make it equal. Let’s see if the Orient room is busy.” At least that room didn’t have too much traffic in front of it. All the rooms had small windows at head height through which people could watch from the gallery, partly to satisfy the desire of the voyeurs, partly to facilitate education in techniques, but above all to secure everyone’s safety.
“How about the dungeon room? That way if you decide you’d like to worship me...”
“Dream on, B-Elizabeth.”
She chuckled at his recovery.
“That’s prime voyeur territory anyway,” Gray went on. “Not that I mind being watched, normally, but...” He left the rest unspoken. It would be a lot easier for her to submit if she didn’t feel like she was being humiliated in the process. If he said it, she’d only tell him it wasn’t going to happen.
“But we have private business to attend to, don’t we? Very well.” She spun on her spikes and walked off in the direction of the Orient room. For a first timer, she’d made herself quite acquainted with the layout, but then Betsy had always done her homework.
Whose guest is she anyway
? The idea that it might be some guy made a knot tighten in his chest. He knew he had no right to feel that way after ten years. And damn her for making it look like he was following her when he knew and she knew going to the Orient room had been his idea. He hurried after her, caught up, and opened the red door in time to invite her into the Orient room like a gracious host.
Sindra van Yssel