Authors: Rachell Nichole
Tags: #BDSM; Multicultural
“May I?” she asked, glancing up at him and then away, lest she get caught again in that uncompromising stare.
“I thought you’d never ask.” Chase held out his hand, and she clasped it again. She placed one knee on top of the bench, and he helped lift her onto it until she was kneeling. “Ready?” he asked.
His deep baritone was like a finger skittering down her spine. Biting her lip to suppress a moan, she nodded. With her gaze locked on his, she let go of his hand, kneeling on all fours on the bench. Her thighs automatically spread to accommodate the bench pressing up between them. She extended first one leg, then the other down to the footrests, then stretched her body, lying flat on the padded surface, which was slightly wider than her torso, and turning her head to the side so she could keep him in sight.
His dark eyes were wide, his pouty mouth pressed into a small smile and his hands held lightly at his sides. “So your arms go into these loops, and your ankles go into the ones on the footrests.” He slipped his rough hand into hers and guided her arm forward into the cuff. The angle felt weird, almost painful, and definitely uncomfortable. He bent to examine her wrist as he smoothed the leather around it. “And then it buckles,” he said, but he left it loose around her wrist, the leather warm and soft. But he could close it any second, trapping her. Panic rose.
What the hell are you doing?
going to let some man strap her down to this bench. No one knew she was here. He could do anything he wanted to her, and no one would know. Panic rose higher, and she belted, “No!”
Chase’s gaze returned to hers, his smile gone and his hands up. “Okay. All right, sweetheart, relax.”
He reached to help her off the bench, and she smacked his hands away. She didn’t want him to touch her. Couldn’t bear the thought of what she’d almost let him do to her. “I’m leaving,” she announced, making it clear by her words and her tone that she wouldn’t take no for an answer. She gained her feet and backed away from the bench.
He nodded. “Yeah, that’s probably best.” The cold anger had returned to his voice, and she reared back like he’d slapped her.
“Thank you for your time,” she said robotically and turned tail. She lifted her chin and strutted up the stairs and through the door. It slammed closed behind her. She didn’t look around as she marched through the club to the front doors. She yanked them open and bolted into the Nevada heat. The picketers out front turned to her, yelling their chants. She couldn’t hear their words, only the noise, and she scurried down the street away from them. Away from the club. And away from Chase Masters.
Chase blinked into the empty space Ms. Elizabeth Leigh Clark had left in her wake. Then he blinked again, trying to make his mind sort out the reality from the fantasies that had been running rampant in his head.
What the fuck?
He’d been thrown for a loop when he found out she wasn’t a visiting Domme but rather the writer, one who was as skittish as an abused horse. The disdain on her face hadn’t helped her case much either. But as soon as he’d challenged her, she’d backed down in a definitively submissive gesture. He’d half expected her to fight him further, almost wished she had, but she’d somehow seemed softer after his reprimand.
Then she’d wanted to go for a spin on the bench, and he’d thought all his kinky little dreams had come true.
Fat chance, Masters.
As usual. Disgust burned in his throat, and he swallowed, trying to force the image of the petite brunette at his mercy from his mind. It didn’t work. The woman who looked like a Domme, bent to his will like a sub, and ran away like a novice in denial. Absolutely fucking perfect.
After a minute, the door to the lower level opened, and Dusty poked his head inside. “What was that all about?”
“I have no fucking clue.” Chase ascended the stairs and closed the door behind him. “She long gone?”
“Oh, yeah. Ran out of here like she was afraid she’d catch rabies or something. What did you do to her?” Dusty’s tone made it clear that Chase was at fault, that he’d screwed up. Again. Like that was a big surprise.
“Nothing.” Even to his own ears it sounded like a lie. But he hadn’t done anything she hadn’t volunteered for. If there was one thing he couldn’t stand, it was a wannabe BDSMer. Or one who wanted to deny her true nature.
“Somehow I don’t believe you.” Dusty raised his eyebrows and stood with his arms crossed over his broad chest. It was his
do not fuck with me
stance, and since it was so rarely directed at Chase, he had no choice but to fess up.
“All right. All I did was tell her that if she didn’t want to be here, she shouldn’t be. And then she did a total one-eighty, following me around, listening intently when I talked, swaying those damned hips in front of me every time I stole a peek. And that mouth, Christ!
‘Let’s go down,’
she says while we’re standing in front of the doors. Then all polite and innocent as a schoolgirl, she lets me help her up onto the stage, her bright, wide eyes dilating and that bottom lip between her teeth.
she asked, standing in front of the bench.”
“Oh, God. You didn’t. Seriously? You tied the poor girl up on her first visit?”
Affronted, Chase bristled. “I didn’t even get that far,” he said through gritted teeth.
Dusty snorted. “Damn. No wonder she scampered away like a turkey on Thanksgiving Day.” He pulled a business card out of his back pocket and handed it to Chase. “Call her and make nice.”
“Never gonna happen, kid.” No way in hell was he going to go chasing after her. If she didn’t write her book, oh, well. He wasn’t going to coddle someone who ran at the first sign of the lifestyle he was trying to help demystify.
It was one thing when someone new to the scene wasn’t sure what they liked and didn’t, and it was up to him or another Dom to show them the ropes, figuratively and literally, but it was another entirely to try to handhold a judgmental author who didn’t know what she wanted. He wasn’t going down that road. He’d never wanted to be anyone’s first Dom. It was too much pressure, and he didn’t have the patience. And Ms. Clark acted like an untrained sub in need of her first Dom. He barely repressed a shudder at the thought.
“We need this to work,” Dusty said softly, intruding on Chase’s thoughts. Maybe Dusty was spending too much time with Chase, because he was getting more and more demanding and insistent, even in his quiet way.
“I’m not calling her.” Chase imbued his voice with the steel he used when commanding a sub.
“Fine. You stubborn ass.” Dusty turned and marched away from him, leaving Chase wondering why the hell his friend was being such a pain in the balls right now when he needed it least. He took a few gulping breaths, trying to calm himself. Another panic attack wouldn’t do him or his members any good.
Stomping up into his office, he tried to figure out what in the world he was going to do now. It was almost time to face the firing squad. He would fight with every dirty trick he could to keep this club open. Petitions, blackmail, bribery. He wasn’t picky if it meant they got to stay open. The BDSM community in Spartan needed the K Club, and he was determined to fight for this place. But Judge Wilcox and his injunction were threatening to put them out of business and put him out on the streets.
He sank into his leather chair, hanging his head in his hands. He kept telling Dusty they would find a way out of this mess. Now all he had to do was convince himself.
And prove it.
* * * *
Liz banged her hands down on the keyboard.
“Sorry, Nessy,” she mumbled, balling her hands into fists. It wasn’t her laptop’s fault she was stuck. Four freaking scenes did not a book make. After her initial rush through those dream-sequence scenes, she’d petered out. Probably because of the disaster at the K Club. Yeah, what a brilliant idea that had been. She still shivered every time she thought of those dark, penetrating eyes and rumbling voice. Gah! How many times had she read
dark, penetrating eyes
in a book? Or written it in one of hers? Clichéd though they might be, those were the only words she could think of to describe Chase Masters’s gaze.
She put her head in her fists and banged them against her desk a few times. Productive? Totally. Anything at this point would be better than staring at her blank pages. She couldn’t make the words come, no matter what she did. She
found a way around so-called writer’s block. She was a professional, for crying out loud. But she’d tried everything in her lexicon of tricks for two weeks, and she’d gotten exactly diddly-squat for it.
Every time she sat to write, she flashed back to being facedown on that bench. To the ice-cold fear and molten-hot desire that had twisted up inside her to create a cataclysmic event. She’d never run from anything in her life. Until now. Sitting here thinking about lying there at Chase’s mercy made her mouth go dry and her insides tense. She had five weeks to get this draft in. And every avenue she pursued brought her back to one thing: Chase.
She glanced at her phone. She had never missed a deadline before, and she didn’t plan on starting now. No way was she going to let some sinfully sexy Dominant stand in her way. She picked up the phone and dialed the club’s number before she could think better of it. She’d tried to call and apologize a couple of times, but she’d chickened out before pushing Send. She’d even searched for other clubs in the area. There weren’t any.
“The K Club.” Chase’s voice startled her. She’d been expecting the mild-mannered partner to answer like he had the first time she’d called, not the man she was quickly starting to see as her nemesis.
She tried to clear her throat, but the noise that came out sounded more like the croak of a mating bullfrog.
“Hello?” Chase sounded annoyed. Definitely not the way she’d wanted to start this conversation. His sigh was loud in her ear, and she feared he’d hang up on her in another second.
A long pause.
“Ms. Clark?” The ice in his voice chilled her to the bone. How could his disembodied voice affect her so much?
“Yes.” She tried to keep her voice strong, as cool as his, but a fine tremor suffused her body, no doubt warbling her speech.
“I don’t have time for this. What do you want?”
Sheesh. She knew she’d really blown their first meeting all to hell, ruining her credibility and her professionalism, but the venomous tone she was greeted with now was downright hostile, and she didn’t have to stand for it.
She heard someone in the background say something to Chase but couldn’t make out the words. “Fine!” he snapped at whoever had spoken. “What exactly can I help you with, Ms. Clark?”
He was gritting his teeth. She could picture those pouty lips pulled tight as he bared his teeth at her like a tiger.
“Well, first let me say that I am sorry for the way I left in such a rush at our last meeting.”
“Yeah, that was super.”
“Look, this is no picnic for me either, pal. So shut up and let me say what I have to say.” Now she was the one gritting her teeth, the ever-present anger inside her bubbling to the surface in seconds.
A soft chuckle seemed to wrap around her from all sides, as if he were standing a scant few inches behind her instead of all the way on the other side of town. “Please, do go on.”
“I’m stuck. I’m on a deadline, and frankly I have no freaking clue what I’m doing. Someone told me you were the best. That you could help me navigate the murky and shark-infested waters of bringing fiction to life with the truth and sensitivity of someone intimate with this kind of lifestyle. Instead, you…you…” Her rant ran out of steam. He what? Forced her into submission? Pulled her unwillingly down the stairs and strapped her to that bench without her consent? Nope. She could pretend all she wanted that he was the bad guy in this scenario, but she’d gone to him willingly, had followed him into Hell, and practically begged him to tie her up, sad as she was to admit it.
“I what, exactly?” he said, voicing her thoughts aloud.
“I don’t know. But whatever it was, that wasn’t what I came to you for.”
“You clearly have a problem with the way I live my life, everything this club and my people stand for. So why are you writing this book?”
“Because I have to.”
“Because of some contract? Well, then you should be calling a lawyer, not me.”
“It’s not because of a contract. It’s… Ugh, I can’t explain it. You wouldn’t understand. It’s another writer thing.”
“So explain it to me.”
Oh, this man! Infuriating, insufferable jerk. She couldn’t expect a nonwriter to understand. Especially since she didn’t exactly understand the compulsion herself. She tried to come up with some kind of lie or a reason that wouldn’t make her sound crazy.
“I’m waiting, Ms. Clark.”
Crap. She’d taken too long to answer. “It’s…” She paused, knowing the only answer here was the truth but hating that she was going to show him that far into her psyche. “Did you ever see
“You know, that Leonardo DiCaprio movie about dreams within dreams and planting ideas in someone’s head?”
“Yeah, not that it has anything to do with what I just asked you,” he said, irritation clear in his voice.
“Would you let me finish?” she said sharply. When he didn’t reply, she continued, “It’s like in that movie, where he implants the idea and the person can’t get it out of their head. No matter what she does, how much she ignores it or tries to distract herself with other ideas, it takes root, and it grows and grows into this gnarled-up, deeply rooted, fully bloomed idea, like some six-hundred-year-old tree, until it becomes an obsession. That’s what Sarah and Hawke are for me. They’re my tree.”
God, she sounded like a complete nut job.
“Oh,” he said. “I think I know a little something about compulsion. About people who deny their true nature, who’ve been taught that being gay or transgendered, a Dom or a sub, is wrong and then discovers that they’re gay or a sub, et cetera, feel the same way.”
She took a deep breath. She’d expected him to laugh and hang up, leaving her nothing but dead air on the other end of the line. Instead, he got it. Like, really got it. She waited a beat to let that sink in.