I had never considered being tied up. I’d liked the idea of handcuffs because I thought them risqué. I’d never really thought about the confinement aspect, or if I’d find that sexy. Watching Darth twine the rope around his thick fingers made me squirm in my seat.
His gaze found me in the crowd. His eyes did that dipping motion again, reading me. When he came back to the top, I wanted to be sure and show him I was willing. But he looked away.
Mistress Stix stepped forward again. “I’m a Domme. I like to be in control. I will tell you what to do, how to do it, and when to stop. And if you decide you like it, then you are a submissive. We’ll let our colleague Marquis take the last two letters.”
Every head in the room swiveled over to the corner. Standing there was a blond male with a widow’s peak. His long blond hair fell down past his shoulders. He had the face of an angel, with the lightest blue eyes I’d ever seen. He swaggered out to the middle of the room, twirling a white-and-red striped walking cane in his hand.
“Sadism and masochism, the giving or receiving of pain as pleasure. I like to find people’s buttons.” Marquis twirled his stick with a wicked smile on his face. He banged the stick against the table full of toys, causing every pair of shoulders in the room to jump. “And then push those buttons until you beg me to stop. If you’re curious, come see me.”
I put my hand up.
Marquis paused, looking me up and down in the same sizing-up motion that Darth had done. “You can come and see me later.” He grinned.
“I… No, I mean…” I cleared my throat and began again. “I have a question. How is sadism different from abuse?”
Every head turned to me. The others stared. Some of their eyes were opened wide in shock, others narrowed in disdain.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “I thought there were no stupid or too-intimate questions.”
Darth grinned and took a step forward. But Marquis stepped in front of Darth, blocking him out. “As Darth said, there must be consent in the scene you want to play in. You come into the scene with free will and you turn that free will over to me for my pleasure.”
Marquis’s voice was silky and smooth, running through my body. But his words were scary, and when they got to my brain, they met resistance, and a tug of war ensued.
“It’s like getting a tattoo,” Marquis continued. “You consent to have someone stick needles in you. It hurts. It’s not medically necessary. But you do it, and in the end, you come away with something beautiful.”
A few of the women in the audience sighed at the explanation. A few of the men as well. I shifted in my seat, but I was not convinced. Pain as pleasure? It made little sense, but I resolved to be open. After all, this was a new me.
Marquis smiled at me again, a wicked, carnivorous smile as he ran his candy-colored cane over his palm.
Darth stepped forward, blocking Marquis out this time. “Kink is more than these four elements. There’s spanking, pet play, tickle play, hypnosis, knife play, and more. There are toys like floggers, canes, whips, and knives.”
He indicated the display on the table. The black handle of the flogger was as thick as my arm. Its leather strands were braided up into kinky coils. Darth ran his hand over the thick handle. The older woman beside me audibly gulped; her hand clutched the pearls at her collarbone.
“Or even feather dusters, blindfolds, and scarves.”
Darth pointed to the far side of the table, to each device in turn, but my gaze stayed riveted on the opposite end of the table, where the more severe tools lay. What on earth was a shrimp deveiner doing in the mix?
“There are specific sex acts, like edging and orgasm denial, anal play, double penetration, and sensation play, which most of you might know by its most popular component of spanking. We cannot explain all of this in one session. Our intention for tonight’s introduction is to talk to you about safe play.”
Mistress Stix took the floor again. “At the Black Dahlia, we practice RACK, which stands for ‘risk-aware consensual kink.’ All play in this world of kink is about consent. You cannot play without consent. Every person in this room is a human being with agency. As a human being with agency, you are allowed to make choices and take risks with your body.”
Mistress Stix walked the front line of the seated crowd. Her heels clacked against the parquet floor. Her high ponytail swung with each step, as though it flogged her shoulder blades. She stopped in the middle of the room, her large blue eyes seeming to take in each individual person all at once.
“If you want to get tied up by your dick and suspended”—she grinned, her gaze scanning the crowd, likely searching to see who was aroused by that prospect—“that is your choice. Just understand that there are risks. If you’re a woman that wants to be penetrated by someone’s fist…” Again, she did another sweep of the crowd in search of a taker. “That is your choice, and there are people who would be happy to do that for you. But again, you must understand that there are risks when you play, and you must enter a scene fully cognizant and accepting of those risks. We also recommend you don’t play with strangers. Get to know people before you consent to engage in a scene with them. Make sure you are confident that they know what they are doing before they do it to you.”
“In our club, we have four safety mechanisms,” said Darth. “First, you must negotiate your scene and give consent. Second, you must have a safe word. Third, all play is under the watchful eye of the DM, the Dungeon Monitor. If the DM stops your play for any reason, it’s over, and you must comply. Finally, you are not allowed to drink in our play space. Alcohol and drugs relieve you of consent. If the DM thinks you are in any way impaired, you will be asked to leave the club.”
Darth reached behind him and grabbed a stack of papers.
“You cannot just walk up to our club and come inside to play. You must become a member. To become a member, you need to fill out an application. And yes, you will need to give us your real name and contact information on this application. Your privacy means as much to us as it does to you. Only three people see your application, and we are them. We also reserve the right to deny your application for any reason we see fit. Are there any questions?”
Darth’s gaze fell on me. But this time my mouth stayed shut as I opened and closed my fist, eager to take hold of one of those applications.
No one asked questions. Everyone queued up to take an application or made a mad dash for the exit. With the introductory workshop over, the instructors allowed us to come up to the table for a closer inspection of the toys.
I stepped past the lighter side of the table that held the feather duster and fur-lined cuffs. I stepped past the flogger and knives as well. I jolted to a dead stop when I came face-to-face with the anal plugs.
There was an assortment of sizes, shapes, and colors. They hadn’t seemed so big on the Amazon thumbnails I’d been perusing the past couple of weeks. The smallest plug was as long as my thumb, and thicker. The largest was bigger than my two hands clenched together. I turned my back on the plugs and came face-to-chest with a tall, broad wall.
“Works best if you’re restrained.” Marquis grinned down at me as he twirled his cane in his hand. He picked up the smallest plug, the one that was the size of my thumb. “You won’t feel anything with this one. It’s like a finger up your ass. You’d definitely need to start with the medium-sized one.”
He picked up the next biggest size. This one was the size of three of my fingers squeezed together. It had a rounded tip and then it flared out at the end, kind of like an A-line dress that would hide a woman’s rounded hips. The tapered ending of the butt plug led me to think it wasn’t so much designed to slim a woman’s curves as it was designed to stay put inside her ass.
“It feels good sliding in, but before it’s fully seated, there’s a burning sensation your first time. It hurts.” Marquis purred the last word. But then it turns to pleasure. After that, you’d take a bigger one, and then a bigger one. Then, later, a fist. Would you like me to show you?”
“I…” I swallowed.
Wait? Why was I hesitating? This was exactly what I wanted: anal sex. Here was a guy ready, willing, and unashamed to show me the ropes. Or rather, the plug.
Part of me was ready to hitch up my skirt and bend over the table. My ass clenched in excitement at the picture Marquis had drawn with his words. But there was another part of me that screamed danger. Marquis was a stranger. I’d known him less than an hour, and I was about to give over my consent to him.
Marquis took the small plug from my hand; electricity sizzled where his long, slender fingers contacted mine. “We could start with this little guy, just as a tease. What’s your name?”
“My name?” What had I told Darth? “Numi. I mean, Nubi. You can call me Nubi.”
“I’d like to tease you, Nubi. My car’s out back.”
“You know the rules, Marquis.”
That deep baritone broke me out of my trance. Darth came up behind Marquis. The look on his handsome face was one of disapproval.
“No playing with non-members inside the club.”
“This isn’t the club.” Marquis glared back.
There was obviously a power struggle going on between these two. I’d never had two guys fighting over me before. Well, maybe they weren’t fighting over me exactly. They were fighting over the rules. But Marquis wanted to break the rules for me. I wished Darth would break a rule for me.
Darth turned to me. “What did I say about going off with strangers, Nubi?”
I looked between the two men. “I didn’t say I would go anywhere. I didn’t make a complete sentence, actually.”
I turned back to Marquis, but another woman walked up to the table. She picked up the flogger. Marquis’s catlike grin spread to the side of his face that she could see. His whole body turned to her. He promptly forgot about me and began chatting her up.
I gaped after him in shock. I hadn’t said if I would go off with him, but the least he could do was wait for me to make the decision. I turned back to Darth, who studied me with those piercing dark eyes.
“What are you into, Nubi? What’s your kink?”
“Isn’t that an intimate question?”
“Like I said, intimate questions are allowed. But you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to.”
“The truth is…I don’t know yet.” I looked at the array on the table. “I haven’t decided on any one thing. I’m curious about everything.”
“That’s good.” Darth nodded. His all-seeing eyes appraised me anew.
I felt pleased that I’d impressed him. I wondered if he might be willing to bend the rules tonight. I wondered where he’d parked his car.
“Get to know yourself first. Make some friends on your level before you play with the more advanced partners.” Darth handed me an application. “You can fill it out online and get a quicker answer than mailing it in. I hope to see you soon, Nubi.” He sauntered away to another group of stragglers who lingered around.
I clutched the application securely in my hand, as though it were a lifeline. In truth, it was. It was my way into this life that I’d been denied for the last two years. My eyes were wide open and ready for this sexual awakening. I just needed a pen to proceed.