"Jason, are you sure these ropes will hold me?" The young man's slender body swayed in the rope harness.
To and fro. To and fro.
Benny gulped and averted his eyes. How did the models stand it? Hanging there like that, often for extended periods of time, utterly motionless except for the sickening swaying, while Jason took picture after picture.
"They'll hold." Jason peered through the viewfinder at the blue-haired young man suspended in an elaborate crisscross of brightly colored ropes, his ass mere inches above the point of a wicked torture device.
"I just don't want to end up with that point up my ass is all. What did you say that thing was called again?"
"It's a Judas cradle. They used to use it to torture people during the Inquisition. The person's own body weight was used to drive the point home, so to speak. Now, stop squirming, baby, or I'll never get this shot right." Jason frowned and made some adjustment or other to the camera.
The model was naked except for the red and purple ropes cradling him. The colors were perfect, contrasting beautifully with his pale skin. His hair fell in a luxurious sweep like a bright blue waterfall.
Benny itched to run his fingers through that gorgeous mane. He had a real thing for beautiful hair, even a total stranger's beautiful hair.
The model's name was Rain. That was it, just Rain. He'd heard for Rain's real job, he acted in gay porno films. But because he hadn't had a chance to Google it, he didn't know if it was true or not. Rain was certainly hot enough to be in pornos.
The shutter clicked and clicked again as Jason took a few experimental shots. He made another minor adjustment and took a few more.
But something wasn't right. Benny saw it in the deep lines dug around his boss's mouth and between his eyes. He straightened and muttered something indecipherable about the light.
"Benny, where's the blue gel?"
"Right here, boss." Leaning down, Benny grabbed the light gel from the floor beside his chair and held it up.
"Would you take that light away and bring in the smaller one and put some gel on it?"
"You bet." Benny scrambled to do Jason's bidding.
"Adam, can you lower the harness just a little, so his ass is just above the point?"
"Sure thing." Adam Hyland, dressed in a tangle of black leather straps that made him look like a cross between an Inquisitor and a dungeon Master, stepped into the picture and reached up to the handle that would lower the other model closer to that wicked point. He grabbed it and cranked.
"Not so fast," Jason said.
"Whoa, dude--" Rain stiffened, a vain attempt to lift himself in the ropes.
The harness jerked, and he swung wildly.
Benny's stomach rolled. No way could he do that, all the swinging back and forth. He'd be barfing for sure, and barf was so not sexy.
"Easy there, Adam. Stop. Stay right like that." Jason moved from behind the camera. He went to Rain, steadied him, and stepped back.
With his head nearly at crotch level, Rain fluttered his lashes and smiled up at Jason. "Mmm, is that a flashlight in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me, Master?"
"Thought you weren't interested in getting anything up your ass, boy?" Grinning, Jason reached down and adjusted the rope supporting said ass. He brushed the backs of his fingers against the model's hip, lingering there for a long moment.
Rain licked his lips. "I wouldn't mind some of that when we're done."
Adam rolled his eyes and snorted a laugh. "Slut."
Rain stuck his tongue out. "Perv."
Jason chuckled. "Now, boys. You two have played so nicely all day, and we're nearly done. So let's see if we can keep it up, hmm?"
"I'd love to keep it up for you, Sir." Rain let out a lusty sigh.
Adam groaned. "Oh dude, you are such a man whore."
They both laughed.
Returning to the camera, Jason looked through the viewfinder once again. "Adam, stay in the shot, will you?" The shutter clicked. "Nice. You look great. I love the boots. They're a nice touch."
Adam smiled. "I got them at that thrift store on South Street. You know the one I always go to? It's amazing the stuff you find there."
"Put your foot up on the--that's it. Let me see those boots. Great. Very Dom. Very sexy."
They went on like this, Jason complimenting and instructing, his models teasing and flirting with him and each other.
Benny suppressed a yawn. They had been at it for nearly two hours. Oh sure, every now and then they'd change props or costumes, locking and unlocking cuffs, tying and untying ropes, Jason giving orders, Benny moving lights or swapping this or that piece of equipment, then sitting around while Jason experimented, always looking for that perfect shot, the one that would make his show.
Once Jason had tried to explain to him the erotic charge he got from looking at a really hot model, male or female, through the lens of a camera, the connection that occurred between photographer and subject when the shoot was going really well. He'd likened it to the link between Dom and sub in a really good scene, or like great sex.
And Benny listened, just as he always did when Jason talked. The man could have been expounding on anything from Einstein's theory of relativity to the process of paint drying and he still would have listened. He loved listening to Jason.
But this, sitting here for interminable hours while Jason took dozens or even hundreds of pictures was, from Benny's point of view, mind--numbingly boring. Now, if Jason ever asked him to model, that would be totally different. Yeah, like that would ever happen.
Resuming his seat, Benny picked up the magazine he'd been using to help pass the time. It fell open to one of Theo Wright's photographs. Theo was a famous fetish photographer and a friend of Jason's.
Benny examined the picture, trying to view it with a critical eye, the way Jason would. He just didn't get it. To his admittedly untrained eye, all Jason's photographs looked awesome, as good as Theo's and worlds better than the crappy pics he himself took. Even on the few occasions when Jason pointed things out to him, like the particular play of light and shadow or the composition of this or that shot, Benny still didn't see it.
But photography, fetish photography in particular, was Jason's passion. So Benny always pretended interest, even if the only thing on his mind was how Jason smelled or the way Jason's thigh brushed against him when the Dom leaned in close. Or sometimes he just listened to the timbre of Jason's voice. The words didn't even matter.
From the first day he'd met Jason Bonner, Benny had a total hard-on for the Dom, maybe even from his first glimpse. He showed up for his interview, needing, if not really expecting to get the job as office manager. Then he saw Jason, and he'd sworn to all that was holy that he was going to get that job, no matter what he had to do to make it happen.
As Jason made yet another minute adjustment to the angle of his camera, Benny let his gaze slide down the man's body. He wore snug-fitting black jeans and a white T-shirt with a faded Grateful Dead skull and roses logo on the back. His blond hair was pulled into a tail reaching nearly to his waist. Once more Jason stepped out from behind the camera, bent down, and adjusted one of Rain's ankle restraints, the denim pulling tight across his ass. Benny suppressed a sigh even as his mouth watered. He was so gone on the boss it was pathetic. He hadn't gotten laid in longer than he cared to remember, because nobody else measured up in comparison.
Rain said something too low for Benny to catch and Jason laughed. As he straightened, Jason trailed his fingers up Rain's leg and over his hip. Their gazes held, and Benny could feel the heat in that look even from where he sat. Once more he thought of what Jason had said about the erotic connection between photographer and model.
Damn, but he wanted Jason to look at him like that.
Stupid, sexy Rain.
The cell phone at his hip began to vibrate. After pulling it from its clip, he checked the number. It was Dante at the front desk.
Benny slipped out of his chair as he answered the call and held the phone to his ear. "What's up, Dante?"
"Is the boss still busy?"
Benny pushed open the heavy wooden door to the dungeon room and stepped into the corridor. He propped his butt against the wall. "Yeah, he's still with the models. Why?"
"There's a guy here who wants to see him. He says Jason's expecting him."
"He doesn't have an appointment." He knew the boss had cleared his schedule for the rest of the afternoon and wasn't expecting any visitors until the end of the week. "Is he a sub?"
"Nope, this one's all Dom. He says they're old friends and that he doesn't need an appointment."
So it was the old-friends line. Benny sighed. "That's what they all say. Stall him, and I'll be right up."
"You gonna tell the boss?"
"No, he doesn't want to be disturbed. Put the dude in the library and have him wait for me."
"But what if--"
"Dante, just do it, will you?" Benny disconnected the call before Dante what iffed him to death. Returning the phone to its clip, he took the stairs two at a time.
As he emerged from the stairway, he breathed a little easier. The basement gave him the creeps. Even though he knew it was just the basement of an old factory, he still couldn't shake the feeling that something watched him when he was down there. Not that being watched was any big deal, not around here. Jason had the whole club wired with cameras. Every room, every hallway, and alcove could be watched from the monitor in the boss's office. He'd never seen the cameras in action, but he knew about them, how they worked, doubling as security and peep-show cameras, giving his voyeuristic employer an up-close view of anyone, anywhere at any time within these walls.
Benny went straight to the library. Opening the door, he found the room empty. What the hell?
Why couldn't people--Dante--just follow simple directions? But that was Dante. The man might be good-looking in that dark, sharp-featured way, but as far as Benny was concerned he was also the personification of an asshole. From the day they'd met, Dante had copped a huge hairy attitude, questioning every request and arguing with every decision, though Benny had yet to figure out what the hell he'd done to the guy to earn such hostility.
Benny had no trouble tracking down his nemesis. The dark-haired assistant manager sat behind the front desk, a cell phone pressed to one ear and a solitaire game on the computer screen. He never even glanced up as Benny approached.
Making a fist, Benny knocked lightly on the desk. "Dude, where's the guy?"
Pulling his cell away from his ear, Dante covered the microphone with his thumb. "I put him in Jason's office."
"Jason hates people in his office when he's not there. I told you to put him in the library."
"You said to put him in the office." The man's thin face took on that obstinate look Benny knew too well. It made him look like a pissed-off ferret. "I wouldn't have put him in there unless--"
"Whatever, man." Benny bit down on his irritation and with a slight shrug turned away.
He went quickly to the office and opened the door without knocking. He stepped across the threshold, a greeting on the tip of his tongue. It instantly shriveled up and blew away like a dry leaf in the wind when he saw the visitor.
Not that the man was familiar. No, but God, didn't he wish. He was one of those men who could strike you blind with his sheer physical beauty. Darkly handsome, his thick, black hair fell in soft waves just past his collar and made Benny long to touch. From where he stood, he could see his face only in quarter profile, the neatly trimmed beard and moustache framing the promise of a sensual mouth. He sat in one of the leather guest chairs, one ankle crossed over the opposite knee, relaxed but very much aware of his posture, a god well-used to the admiration of mere mortals.
Benny had only a second or two to take all this in before the man turned and he was pinned to the spot by restless dark eyes that took his measure, assessed, and cataloged him all with a single glance.
Benny opened his mouth, and no words came out.
Oh, get a grip. He's just a really, really, really handsome guy. So quit acting like the village idiot.
Stepping forward, Benny started to extend his hand. But before he could speak, the visitor spoke.
"So, my old friend sent me a boy to entertain me while I wait. How thoughtful." He smiled. "What's your name, boy?"
His hand fell back to his side and he licked his lips. "I'm Benny Sagan, Sir. I'm Jason's PA."
"His PA, are you?" His smile grew, his teeth very straight and white against his olive skin.
Benny nodded. "That's personal assistant."
"I'm aware of what it is." He uncrossed his legs and sat forward. His dark gaze raked down Benny's body and back up, lingering overlong at his crotch. "And what is it you assist him with?"
That look made Benny's skin tingle under his clothes. "I...Uh, I work here, in the office...I'm like the office manager."
The man laughed, a rich, low chuckle that did deliciously wicked things low in Benny's belly. "I take it you aren't here for my entertainment." He sighed. "Too bad that. You're a pretty one."
God, that laugh and that voice. Everything about this man crackled with sexual energy, and that energy was making Benny hard.
He entertained a brief fantasy. In it he was naked except for a collar and a cock ring, his hands bound behind him, kneeling at this man's feet...
He blinked. What was he doing? That was one of his favorite Jason fantasies. Except with this stranger looking at him in that way, it seemed like it could quite possibly come true. Like if he just walked over there and knelt down at the Dom's feet, his little fantasy could cross the border into reality in the space of a breath.
It was those restless eyes and that mobile mouth that seemed to smile and sneer at once. Or something...it was something, but fuck him if he knew what.
"I should go let Jason know you're here." And get out of there before he embarrassed himself any further. He turned toward the door.
"I'll come with you." The visitor leaned forward, bracing his hands on the arms of the chair.
Even his hands were beautiful. Elegant, with long fingers and well-tended nails; the backs lightly dusted with dark hair. Very masculine and yet...beautiful.
What would those hands feel like on his...
Benny gave himself a hard mental shake. "I can't let you do that, Sir." One dark brow lifted, and he rushed on. "Master Jason prefers that his guests wait in the library where they can be comfortable. So, if you'll follow me, I'll see that you have whatever you need while you wait."
"Whatever I need?"
Benny nodded, eager, for whatever reason, to please him. "Whatever you'd like. Coffee? Tea?"
"Or?" There was that smile again.
"Or, I was just wondering if there was something else being offered."
It was like he'd plucked the thought right out of Benny's head. And what was he supposed to say to that?
"Never mind, boy. Show me to the library, then go tell Jason I'm here."
"Yes, Sir." He backed toward the door, unwilling to take his attention from this compelling vision. He felt behind him, found the knob, and grasped it.
He led the Dom to the library and saw that he was settled comfortably in a large leather armchair. But as he turned to go, the man stopped him with a gesture. "Just a minute."