“Maybe you’ll be around later, then.”
If she had a dollar for every time she’d heard that or words like it, she’d be well on the way to paying off her loan for medical school. Men, women, everyone loved to flirt. Working the coat-check desk got Stella Currant free admission to Le Petit Mort, Washington’s premier bondage club, but by the time she was relieved at eleven, most of the good doms were already taken. She’d been tempted not to come at all that Friday night. If Marty wasn’t counting on her, she’d have curled up at home with a good book.Maybe I’m too picky.
The back of the guy who had just spoken to her disappeared through the curtain. He was all right, she guessed. He’d made eye contact once, when he could take his attention off her breasts. Make up your mind, girl, she chided herself. She’d worn a black vinyl bustier she’d found on sale that pushed her tits up and almost over, hoping it would attract someone, and then she held it against them when they stared. But dammit, more balance would be good. She shrugged. She knew what she wanted. It just didn’t seem to be out there.
She turned back to face the front and was surprised to see a man standing there. She hadn’t heard anyone enter, but there were only two ways into the small foyer where she was working, and she’d been looking at the curtain. The man was big. Huge, even. Six feet four with muscles that rippled underneath a tight black T-shirt. Close-cropped black hair. Dark eyes that held her gaze. How such a big man had managed to move silently through the door was beyond her. It wasn’t as if she’d been that interested in the guy who’d come in before.
“Hi, I’m Evan.” He stuck out his hand.And he talks!
She managed to shake his hand. His grip was warm and firm without crushing her. She was so startled she almost gave him her real name. “Starlight,” she told him.
“What a lovely name.” His smile seemed genuine. “It’s my first time here.”
“I know.” She’d have remembered him if it wasn’t, but she regretted saying it. Way to kill the conversation. And you could have thanked him for the compliment.
“Do you need to see ID?”
“No. God, no. We don’t keep a list or anything. We value your privacy. And you’re clearly over eighteen.”
He smiled and held his hands open. For a moment the smile flickered. “I have no secrets.”
“Everyone has secrets.” I should have looked at his ID. I could find out where he lives and start a second life as a stalker. Right.
A guy who looked that good had to be a jerk, didn’t he, to preserve the balance in the universe?
He chuckled. “Fair enough. And you’re right, everyone does indeed have secrets. What’s yours?”
“If I told you, it wouldn’t be a secret.” Dammit, I’ve been fending off jerks so long that it’s habit. But I could scarcely confess my desire to be tied up by a tall, handsome stranger. Too obvious in this place.
“Right again. Two points to you. Now we’re even.”
“Huh?” Starlight blinked. Where did his two points come in? “How do you figure?”
“I’m getting to look at two of the most beautiful—”My tits again. I should wear a sweater two sizes too big next time. It’s nice to be ogled, but I’d kind of like it if the guys could think about something else.
“—green eyes I’ve ever seen.” The words registered slowly, and when she realized what he’d said, she felt the heat rising in her face.
She hated blushing. “Th-thirty dollars,” she stammered, citing the admission fee—and the reason she worked two hours at the coat desk rather than paying to enter. She never had been good with compliments.”Unless you have a discount.”
He shook his head. “No discount.” He reached in his back pocket for his wallet, winced, and used his right hand instead. When he flipped it open, she could see plenty of bills in there. He handed her a twenty and a ten.
She put the money in the register. “Anything you want to check with me?” Dumb question. He doesn’t have a coat or even a bag. Which is odd.
He didn’t come off as a sub, but what dom came to a bondage club without a bunch of toys? And if he wasn’t either, but just some guy checking out the perverts, he was remarkably calm about it. Usually the tourists were jittery. Although I guess if I was that tall and big, I wouldn’t be afraid of much.
“Not tonight,” he said. “It’s warm out.”
“It’s certainly warm in here.” Before she thought, the words popped out of her mouth the way words usually did. If she tried to put the brakes on it, she ended up stuttering, and that was worse. That was why she often sat quietly and let others talk in groups, but tête-à-tête was harder. The fan whirring behind her had kept her nicely cool until Evan had walked in. And there was no reason for the sudden heat except for the man in front of her. There was not a chance a guy like that would be interested in a short, plump girl like her. Hell, even an Amazon probably looked pint-size to him.
He smiled at her with what she feared might be sympathy, but he was damn hard to read. “Thanks, Starlight. Don’t suppose you’d like to show me the place? I could use a guide.”Damn straight I would like to.
She looked at the clock. Forty more minutes until eleven. She could get up and walk in with him. Marty’d probably figure it out and fill in for her himself. He was a softy. But that was bullshit, and she knew it. She’d agreed to stick at the desk until eleven, and stick she would. Even if it meant letting this lovely looking man get away. “Can’t. I’m on the desk for the next forty minutes.”
He nodded. “Well. Maybe I’ll see you around later, then.”
Her heart sank. Didn’t I hear that from the last guy?
She watched as he vanished through the curtain. The door opened, and two couples Starlight had seen before came in laughing. How would it feel to be in a relationship like that, to have a dom that one arrived with,lived with, was maybe even married to?
They didn’t have coats, although the subs, one man and one woman, checked their clothes. The boy was a looker too, but subs didn’t do it for her, and in any case, he looked small compared to the man who’d preceded him. His blonde mistress gave his cock a couple of strokes and then snapped a cock ring around the base of it. She had a leash to go with it, and after he paid the admission, she took off at a brisk pace, her heels clicking on the floor, and he hurried to keep up. The dom gave his sub a sharp smack on the bottom, and she yelped and giggled before hurrying to follow.
The idea of being naked in a club made her catch her breath. She liked to at least stay in her underwear. A flogging could be felt well enough on her bottom with or without a thong, and on a back with or without a bra strap, and floggings were by far her favorite activity. She’d tried waxing, clamps, rope bondage—they were okay, she supposed. Not really her thing, although if the right top were really into what he was doing, she figured she could enjoy almost anything. The problem is I haven’t met the right top. And probably he doesn’t exist.* * * * *
Forty minutes later, Stella walked into the big room at Le Petit Mort. There was a good crowd already. The swoosh
of a flogger swinging through the air, the smack
of a bare hand on a bare bottom, the smell of paraffin as it dripped onto a sub's body all filled her senses. More than half the time, she ended up watching scenes, which made her wistful, but she had to look. She took a deep breath and tried to let it all wash over her. To one side, some vendors were hawking their kinky wares, everything from corsets to paddles, and she definitely had to avoid looking there because she didn’t want to spend the money. Someday I’ll be out from under these loans. Well, some
It was a big room, and she had no idea where she was heading, but she certainly wasn’t going to stand in the doorway. She wandered forward, smiling at a few friendly faces, avoiding the backswing of a dom who was using up a lot of room. She didn’t feel like being the third wheel at a table today, so she steered clear of Adam and Carlotta, and of Miss Carter and her latest boy toy. Stella smiled at Mistress Madeline but kept walking because she wasn’t willing to put up with Madeline’s cackling and was definitely not interested in subbing to her or fending off the offer. She’d played with a woman once, telling herself it was about the sensation, that a flogging didn’t have to be all about sex so it didn’t have to be a man swinging the flogger. Clearly that was true for some people. It sure as hell wasn’t true for her, as she’d found out that evening with Corinne.
“Hello again, Starlight.” Stella looked up. Perched on her stool behind the counter, she hadn’t realized how tall Evan was. He was as big as Master Brett, who stood at his left and who always intimidated her with his size and the nasty scar on his face. He had a good two inches on Master Darren, who was no shrimp and was standing to Evan’s right. Stella had played with Darren, but that had been a long time ago, before Darren met Lisa, the brown-skinned beauty with purple hair who was snuggling up with him. The two had been inseparable ever since.
“Nice to see you, Starlight,” said Lisa with a grin.
“I see you’ve met Evan already,” said Darren. “And you know Brett.”
Brett smiled at her. “Hey.”Well, it would be rude to walk away.
And the fact was she didn’t want to, even though her heart had started beating faster and instinct told her to run. She felt positively tiny in the company of Brett and Evan.
“Good evening, Sirs.”
Evan’s gaze was traveling downward, slowly, taking her in from head to toe. He looked up equally slowly, and she felt a blush traveling up with his gaze. For a change, she forgot about Brett and his menacing scar. She stared, and Evan caught her looking and stared back. Run. Run.
She couldn’t move. No one was saying anything.
It was Brett who broke the silence. “You two might get along well together. Evan’s an old friend, and I can vouch for him.”Great, scary guy with scar vouches for him.
And yet Brett had never been rude or hostile with her, and she knew his face wasn’t his fault. She’d never dared ask him how it happened, although she was curious.
“And you two have some interests in common,” Darren said.Meaning floggers, presumably. Nice, soft leather tresses hitting hard enough to make a sting or an ache that fades to a warm glow.
Darren knew what she liked. The idea of Evan’s arm behind the flogger set her nerves tingling. With muscles like that, he’d have to hold back. Wouldn’t he?
“Would you be kind enough to show me around?” asked Evan.
She found her tongue. “Yes.”
He reached up with his right hand and traced the line of her jaw with the side of his index finger. “I think we might both enjoy our time more if you changed that to ‘yes, Sir.’”
She should negotiate, find out exactly what she was getting into. She called all the doms she respected “Sir”; it seemed natural to her and hot to follow that protocol. But she didn’t know him, and he might interpret it as submitting to him. Part of her hoped he took it exactly that way. Do anything to me you want!
Sexy words, but not practical, especially with a stranger, even a vouched-for one. She wanted to glance to Darren, whom she knew well enough to trust, to get a nod or a subtle shake of the head to help her decide. But she didn’t want to turn away from Evan, even for a second. He was right. She would enjoy it more. And it was a good sign he hadn’t exactly demanded and hadn’t acted offended. It was just a suggestion; she could choose to follow it if she wanted to. “Yes, Sir.”
“Wonderful.” He smiled. “Don’t worry. I don’t expect a scene just because you called me Sir. I’m not planning to play tonight at all, in fact.”
“Not at all?” Disappointment made its way out of her mouth before relief did. It was better slow. Get to know someone and then play if you synced. Who knew, he might change his mind after getting to know her. She’d know whether she wanted to play with him
. Well, no, she already wanted to, but she’d have a better notion of whether it was a good idea. At least in a public space like Le Petit Mort, you knew that if something went wrong with a scene, you could yell the club safe word and enough people would come running to stop even a big guy like Evan.
“Hmm,” said Evan.
“Well, I should get back to my booth. The corsets don’t sell themselves. See y’all around,” said Brett.
Evan turned from her to Brett. It felt sudden and disorienting to Stella, as if she’d suddenly been let go after being held still. “Definitely want to do that lunch this week. Call my cell if I don’t touch base with you again tonight.”
Brett nodded. “If you don’t touch base, I’ll assume you two are having a good time.” He grinned, then turned and walked away.
Stella took a deep breath and looked down. Meeting Evan’s gaze had made her feel like she was a puppy being stared down by an alpha wolf. Calm down. Act normal. Jeez, it’s not like this is high school. This is just a very handsome man who happens to be a dominant.
Evan’s hand pushed her chin up. “Looking down isn’t going to help you, you know.”Says you.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Lisa stand on her toes and whisper something to Darren. He glanced between Stella and Evan and then smiled. “We’re going to go off and do our own thing too. Later!”
“Take care, Darren,” Evan said, again turning away. This time, though, it was less sudden. Reluctant even. “It was very nice to meet you, Lisa. And I’ll see you, Darren, Wednesday morning for that run. Hope you can keep up.”
Darren chuckled and steered Lisa away. They didn’t often play in the club, and Stella wasn’t surprised to see them move over to a table a ways off. Maybe they needed to talk, but it seemed like they were contriving a way to leave her alone with Evan. Darren grabbed a pillow from a pile in the corner and set it on the floor, and Lisa knelt on it as soon as Darren sat in a chair. Such a lovely couple. Darren was hot but not right for her, and Stella knew that. Still, she envied Lisa, who seemed to have found the perfect match.
“You okay?” asked Evan. He’d moved behind her and placed a hand on her shoulder.
“Yes. They are so lovely together.”
“Darren seems really happy. Happier than I’ve seen him for a long time. Ever.”
“How long have you known each other?”
“Eight years or so. We—Darren, Brett, and me—met at a convention in New York City. We were all there bouncing off recent relationships and ended up talking sports instead of finding a woman for the evening. I think it helped all of us get our heads on straight. We’ve kept in touch since.”Instead of finding a woman for the evening. I guess this time he’s decided to find a woman, and I’m it.
She briefly wondered how many women for an evening he’d had anyway, although she knew it wasn’t any of her business. She’d just met him, after all. And she wasn’t even a playdate to him, just a tour guide. If it wasn’t about playing, what the hell did Darren mean by saying they had interests in common?
“What would you like me to show you, Sir?”
“Everything you find interesting, Starlight.”Everything
I find interesting? Hmm. Maybe I can get him interested in playing after all, if I play my cards right.
“Okay. Follow me, if you would, Sir.”
She walked over to a tall X-shaped wooden frame. A plain-faced older woman named Candace was handcuffed to it, which was part of the attraction; Starlight wanted to give him a tour of the play stations, not of the prettiest girls in the room. The woman’s dom, wielding a beautiful bull’s hide flogger in blue and silver leather, had his shirt off, revealing that he was hairy everywhere but the top of his head. Not her type, although some women thought Malcolm was incredibly sexy. Probably some men too. The heavy flogger whirled through the air and landed on the woman’s already pink bottom with a satisfying smack, and Candace convulsed with the shock of it.
She stopped fifteen feet away and looked up at Evan. “The St. Andrew’s cross is one of the most popular places to play. It allows full access to at least one side of the sub, some access to the other side, and is comfortable to lean against for long stretches of time. It also spreads a submissive's arms and legs out, accentuating the feeling of helplessness.” Maybe he already knew all of that. He was a dom, after all.
Evan’s voice was a whisper in her ear. “Do you like feeling helpless, Starlight?”Oh my.
It was as if his voice was directly connected to her clit, the way she juiced up at his question. “Yes, Sir,” she managed to say.
“Interesting,” was all he said, not skipping a beat as another blow struck and the woman screamed. “She sure seems to enjoy what’s happening to her, doesn’t she?”
“Yes, Sir.” The woman on the cross caught her breath as her top paused, and even that was done with audible sighs. Starlight knew she’d made those kinds of sounds, and yes, she had been enjoying herself. Not everyone understood. If he did, he probably didn’t need the lecture about what a St. Andrew’s cross was good for, but he hadn’t interrupted her.
“And he knows what he’s doing too,” Evan commented. “They’re working well together. That’s an exquisite flogger. Lovely scene.”
“Ah. That’s Malcolm. He probably made that flogger himself. He’s very talented. I even have one of his floggers myself.”
Evan smiled. “Are you a switch, Starlight?”
Not hardly. “No, Sir.” She envied the switches. It was so much easier for them to find someone at a club like Le Petit Mort. There were always too many subs—unless you counted the more clueless wannabe doms.
“So you got one in case your top forgot to bring his toys?”
“Something like that.” She had an idea that maybe she could get a coworker who’d been hitting on her to try flogging. But the result had been a disaster; Fred had laughed when she'd showed it to him, and it had taken her so long to convince him that she was serious, she finally “confessed” she was kidding. Fred still looked at her funny when he saw her, but he’d stopped hitting on her. Fortunately he was only in the office when someone was sick and they needed a substitute. If I’d been joking, I’d have had my fun with a five-dollar Halloween prop, not a masterpiece that cost two months' spending money. Jerk.
Evan was looking at her, making her wonder how long that trip down memory lane had taken. This was where most doms pushed and tried to make her tell her story, even if had nothing to do with anything.
“Guess you really like your flogging,” he said after another long, awkward moment. He smiled. “How do you feel about paddles?”Ouch.
”Depends on the paddle.”
“Never tried.” And more ouch.
He took her wrist and led her over toward the spanking bench, where a blonde she knew well was getting a bare-handed spanking from her master and husband. Virginia and Mike. Good people. Virginia had her knees on the small step and her body bent over the padded red leather spanking bench in such a way that her hands couldn’t quite touch the ground. Her bottom, up in the air, was red—and getting more so. From the way she was wiggling on the bench, she was trying to get some friction on her clit, but Mike put his hand on the small of her back, and she froze. The two of them had known each other so long they didn’t seem to need words to communicate.
Mike’s hand lingered at the end of his next swat, his fingers curling between Virginia’s legs and sliding along her exposed folds. So open. So obviously wet.
“What do you think, Starlight?”
She didn’t want to answer that. She was embarrassed for Virginia, who was so exposed, and at the same time she wished it was her. “I thought I was supposed to be giving you the tour, Sir.”
Evan smiled. “You prefer to be in charge?”
Dammit. “No, not exactly.”
“What do you like, exactly, Starlight?”
“I’m happy being the bottom, Sir.” She didn’t say to submit because it wasn’t quite true. She did like the feeling of being powerless, but mostly she wanted to be tied up by someone who enjoyed turning her back or her ass red. She loved the rush. I’m selfish at heart.
“And?” His hands gripped her shoulders.
“Flogging.” She didn’t think she could manage more than a word.
“And a bare-handed spanking?”
That was so personal. So intimate. Especially the way it could lead to touching, rubbing. Finger fucking. Sex. Her face heated up. Virginia’s moans didn’t help, either. She’s going to orgasm right here in front of us.
“You’ve never been bad enough to be spanked, have you, Starlight?” He caressed her cheek.I’ll be as bad as you want.
But she didn’t say it. “No, Sir. I’m a good girl; I am.”
He slid his hand slowly down her neck toward her half-bared breasts. She didn’t usually let doms touch her like that, even ones she was playing with. Sometimes, if she was really warmed up, it felt more good than embarrassing to have someone touch her intimately in public, but she was normally shy. All she had to do was grab his wrist to stop him. She really ought to, if she was just being a tour guide.
His fingers traced her low neckline unmolested. Her nipples hardened to little buttons at his touch even though he didn’t actually touch her there. She normally didn’t get that turned on without a lot of work. “D-did you want to spank me, Sir?” Four years of speech therapy as a kid, and the stuttering still came back at the worst times. A brief fear that she and Evan were being watched hit for a moment, but anyone looking their way would probably be too distracted by the scene Virginia was making to watch her and Evan.
A cloud came over his face for a moment. What did I say?
And then the cloud passed, and he grinned. “Maybe. For now let’s continue with the tour.”
“Yes, Sir,” she said, sounding colder than she felt. Or colder than she wanted to feel, anyway. She walked briskly away from the spanking bench, hoping her face would lose its redness before he caught up with her. She counted the clacks her heels made on the polished wooden floor, something to concentrate on rather than how humiliated she felt. She hadn’t intended to ask, not after he’d said he didn’t want to play. What’s wrong with him? Or is something wrong with me? Maybe I’m not pretty enough.
“Waxing table.” If he wanted pretty, this was it. The brunette on the table was drop-dead gorgeous. Patterns of red and blue all over her curvy body made her seem more exotic.
“Okay.” His voice was flat. Not especially interested. But he was at her side now. She turned her head and walked quickly to the bondage frame where Miss Carter, a statuesque African American woman, was using a cane on a pasty-faced boy who looked like he was probably fresh out of college. Not that I’m all that long out of med school myself. But still, I like men more experienced. And less submissive.
The man’s cock was jutting out, quite hard, and moist on the end, a tight leather band around its base. As Stella maneuvered around the back side she saw a dozen or more red stripes on his bottom and below that, on his thighs. Ouch.
She didn’t think she’d ever be able to take that kind of sharp, focused pain. And yet this guy was not only taking it, he was getting off on it. That was what a lot of doms wanted, that masochistic ability to transform pain into pleasure. The more pain they could inflict on a sub, the better. Miss Carter’s demands were more complex, from what Stella knew of the woman, but this scene seemed straightforward enough.
“Her technique is excellent.”Fuck. Although I suppose I don’t have to care what he likes and doesn’t.
The bondage frame was a sort of upside-down U of steel tubing with heavy rings around the edge where cuffs and the like could be attached. They usually needed heavy bases, but this one had the steel tubes going through the floor and was probably anchored directly into the concrete slab beneath it. She’d been in it once. There wasn’t any give to it, except for an ever so slight flexing of the steel. The sub, who wore nothing but cuffs, was spread-eagle inside it. The frame didn’t give the sub anything comforting to lean against the way the St. Andrew’s cross did. The advantage was that the dom could walk around the way Miss Carter was and get at the victim’s front. She was tapping the cane in her hand and looking down.Oh my God.
Stella didn’t even have that body part, and she still winced and turned away. Straight into Evan’s chest. He put his right arm around her. His left hand stayed in his pocket, leaving the hug curiously unbalanced. Still, if the hug was awkward, the chest was solid and reassuring. A male scream behind her climbed up into a high note she thought she’d have trouble reaching under normal circumstances, and she shuddered.
“Sorry, Sir,” she mumbled, hating herself for being such a wuss.
“Not a problem. That was intense. I certainly don’t need or want to play that hard, but it looked as if her sub liked it. He’s made a bit of a mess.”Oh yuck.
Although part of her wanted to look, to see for herself that it had been pleasurable as well as excruciating. Sex was supposed to be messy, anyway, and wasn’t that what a corporal punishment scene was really about? Sex? Not always. But it’s sure good when it is.No fun for you tonight, Starlight. And why should I care whether he likes to play that rough or not? I should ditch him now, really.
But his big body was comforting. A girl could get used to being held like that. Especially after a hot, intense scene. Or sex. I always want the wrong men, the ones I can’t have.
He let go of her, and she was about to pull back when he swatted her bottom. It wasn’t especially hard, and it felt awkward. But it also felt good. She pressed against him. Another swat made her toes feel like curling. “Mmm, Sir.”
“I can’t say that I’m at my best tonight, Starlight, but I would be happy to deliver a flogging to a girl who enjoys one. It’s been a long time. Would you play with me?”And here I thought this was going to be just a tour.
She wondered what he meant by not being at his best, but she supposed if he wanted her to know more, he’d tell her. In any case, she definitely would enjoy a flogging. It was her one go-to activity, the one thing that almost always worked for her, even if that alone wasn’t enough to get her off. She’d had a few doms get too intense and she’d had to safe word, but safe words were there to be used. “Yes, Sir.”
He put his arm around her waist and guided her back across the room. Her tour guide moment was up, it seemed, because he took control with an assurance that warmed her. Dominant.
She noticed Malcolm was spraying the St. Andrew’s cross with one of the antiseptic spray bottles found at every station, his scene with Candace finished. The woman was kneeling beside the cross with water bottle in hand, hydrating. They’d be moving to find a couch, she suspected, as soon as Malcolm was done cleaning up. In a few seconds. Had Evan been waiting for it to come free? He stopped a respectful distance away, close enough to make it clear they were interested in using the cross next, but far enough that he wasn’t rushing the two.
Malcolm spotted her anyway, though, and grinned. He toweled down the X frame quickly and then helped his sub up. As Stella expected, they walked toward a couch in the corner.
Evan turned to face her. “I’ll have to borrow some toys, Starlight. I really didn’t intend to play tonight, but I’m afraid I find you irresistible.”Irresistible.
She searched his eyes for a sign that he was flirting, but he appeared serious enough. I think I can live with that.
He was close and warm, and when he looked at her, she wondered how his lips would feel against hers. “I’ll lay claim to the cross, then, while you get them?”
“I hate to abandon a woman who’s under my command, but that sounds completely sensible.” He grinned. “And I’m afraid I’m a sucker for sensible women. I’ll be right back.”
She curtsied, not trusting herself to avoid stuttering if she talked. She went to lean against the X frame. From there she watched as he headed for the vendor area. For a moment, she thought he was going to buy a flogger, but then she saw him talking to Brett, who handed him a big bag from behind his table.
Sindra van Yssel