“Doubt thou the stars are fire, Doubt that the sun doth move. Doubt truth to be a liar, But never doubt I love.” ~ William Shakespeare, Hamlet
I shiver when I enter the club, and I’m not sure if it’s the biting cold or fear that makes me tremble.
I shouldn’t be here. I don’t belong.
I considered some type of disguise coming here, but then I realized that anyone who would recognize me would be just as guilty as I am.
There’s a bouncer at the door, and a particularly strong gust of wind picks up just as he lets me in. I brace against the blast of cold, and he reaches for me, shielding me against the bitter blast of air and shutting the large black door behind me. It bangs with an audible click that makes me jump. Already, I’m out of my element. Men don’t touch me without permission.
But this is a BDSM club, and apparently no one plays by my rulebook. The one I was raised with. If I didn’t want someone to touch me, I wouldn’t be here.
“Name?” The man asks. He’s wearing a black t-shirt stretched tight over his muscled chest, stands well over six feet, and looks severe with a neatly-trimmed goatee and shaved head. He’s staring at a huge clipboard in his hand.
I blink and stare at him. Shit. I didn’t know I was supposed to give my name.
He looks up at me and raises a brow when a beat passes. I’m frozen. I can’t tell him who I am. And where the hell is Marla? My strategy to meet up with her definitely could’ve been improved.
But then again, she doesn’t know I don’t want anyone to know who I am.
“Chandra,” I whisper, hoping that’s enough. Does he need my last name, too? Because then I’m screwed. But he gives me a curious look, glances back down at his clipboard, and nods.
“Marla’s guest?” he asks.
At that moment, I hear a familiar squeal. “Chandra! You did it, girl! Come on in!”
Marla makes her way to me and the bouncer. “Master Geoffrey, this is my new employee. Her name is Chandra.” I smile at him and he shakes my hand, but then the door opens again, and two more people come in behind us. Marla grabs my hand and pulls me past the entryway door. There’s an office and what looks like a sitting room of sorts.
“If you come here with your dom, you can discuss your limits and things like that in this room,” Marla says.
My dom? I don’t have a dom.
“We have contracts and stuff like that. Over there is Master Tobias’ office.” She waves across the room to an open doorway, where a man sits at a desk typing on a computer. “He’s awesome, and you’ll love his wife Diana. In fact, you’re gonna love a lot of the people here,” she says with warmth. “I do.”
I nod dumbly when a couple walks through the door that leads to the club. I expected all leather and latex, but they’re dressed pretty normally. When they open a door from the room I’m in now, I hear music and voices, and I freeze. Once I step foot in there, there’s no going back. This is it.
But I can’t turn back now. I’ve been living and breathing everything I could get my hands on about the BDSM lifestyle for a full year, and I’m so ready to see what this is like.
“Let’s go,” Marla says, taking me by the hand and giving me a tug. She’s the least bashful person I know, and right now, I’m so grateful for that.
“There’s a bar,” she says. “Drinks are limited for safety reasons, but we can get you a good, stiff drink to start.”
I don’t tell her that I have literally never in my life touched alcohol. But tonight is a night of firsts.
“Sure,” I say quietly. She leads me to the bar. I’m trying to take in all the details, but it’s a little overwhelming, and I’m starting to feel that my too-tight black dress that I was so proud of for hitting my badass radar is really way too tame for a place like this. A woman walks past me wearing what looks like a purple leotard, complete with a tail and kitty ears. I must look wide-eyed and shocked, because Marla laughs and hands me a pretty pink drink. I take a sip. It’s delicious.
“Drink, honey,” she says. “You’ll be fine.”
“Got a friend with you tonight, Marla?” asks the man at the bar. He’s got a southern drawl and looks like he’s about my age, with sandy-brown hair and light brown eyes. He’s attractive, and seems sweet, so I take his hand and shake it.
“Chandra,” I tell him.
He smiles, revealing dimples on either side of his mouth. “Travis. Pleased to meet you, Chandra.” I say something barely coherent, but fortunately he’s already moving on to the the next person waiting for a drink. My mind is racing. This man’s a dom? Is he a sadist, too? Does he like to tie people up? Inflict pain? Does he have rules? I take another long pull from my drink.
I haven’t eaten all day, I’ve been so nervous about coming here tonight, and I’m not so sure it’s a smart idea having my first-ever alcoholic drink on an empty stomach. The room feels hot and stuffy, and my head is a little wobbly. I watch Travis fill other girls’ drinks and feel disappointed. He looked easy to talk to. And men are rarely easy to talk to.
Marla’s perched up on the stool next to me, sipping her drink. “So over there we’ve got pool tables for everyone to just mingle. This is sort of the meet-and-greet area.”
“Mhm.” I take another gulp of my drink.
“And beyond that area…” her voice trails off. I watch as couples and single people make their way to a hallway. Someone screams, and I nearly drop my glass. I look with wide eyes at Marla. She smiles and nods.
“The dungeon, honey. That’s where the real action takes place.”
“It’s not in a basement?” I ask curiously. I had visions of the dungeon being built with bricks, complete with metal handcuffs and no lighting whatsoever.
Marla smiles. “Not in this club, no. It’s just what we call it.”
I finish my drink, plunk it on the counter, and turn to her. Liquid courage, they say. Already, I know why. “Take me?”
She finishes her drink, too, and places it on the bar. “Absolutely.”
The room spins, and my head feels light. But I like this. I feel braver. Maybe even more powerful. I’ve gotten brave enough to come to my first BDSM club, and I’m not just here to mingle. Tonight, I want to see what this is like.
A couple jostles past me, and I lose my footing, but Marla quickly rights me. Still, it makes me feel like I’m on a merry-go-round. I’m definitely woozy, and not sure I like this feeling very much. Why do people do this on a regular basis? I like being in control of myself, and this is stupid.
I follow her past the crowd to the dungeon, excitement building.
“Down here are the private rooms for long-term members,” she says. “They’re color-coordinated, and long-term members keep their things here. It’s like a second home.”
“Do you have one?” I ask, shouting to be heard above the noise of the crowd.
“I could,” she says thoughtfully, and her eyes grow a little pained. “I don’t have a need for one, though.”
Marla’s single. I nod. But it’s at that very moment, just before I step into the dungeon, that I hear a voice that makes my whole body seize. I know that voice.
“Not here,” he says. “Take that somewhere else.” It’s calm but stern and brooks no argument. I look around me to see where the voice is coming from, but there are too many people here.
It’s got to be in my head. Some people sound like others, and I’ve just had a drink. Plus, I’m all keyed up. There’s no way that’s his voice.
But I’d know that voice anywhere. It’s the voice I conjure up when I go to sleep at night, to chase my demons away so I can rest. The voice branded into my memory like names carved in stone, lasting and irrevocable. In my mind, I tell myself it can’t be him. There’s no way. But in that moment, I’m no longer an anonymous woman who’s having a little fun at a BDSM club. I’m the girl who made terrible decisions she lived to regret. All of it comes rushing back to me in a flood of memories I can’t ignore, and I try to push it all away, but I’m frozen in place.
“Chandra?” Marla’s looking at me with concern, her head tipped to the side. She reaches a hand to my elbow. “Honey, if this is too much, that’s okay. We don’t have to go in here tonight.”
“No,” I say, shaking my head. I need to exorcise my past from my memory and know I came here and didn’t cave. I swallow hard and take a deep, cleansing breath. “Let’s go.”
She nods, and her eyes sparkle at me. “Let’s go.”
When I step foot in the dungeon, I feel something in me shift. I expected to be shocked. And maybe a part of me is, a little. There are some couples wearing outfits that range from outlandish to scandalous, men and women and people wearing masks for anonymity. There are all sorts of activities going on, but it doesn’t shock me. Maybe it’s the drink or maybe it’s because I was so freaked out by hearing the voice that yanked me back to my youth, but I’m excited. My whole body thrums with nervous, eager anticipation.
“Over there is the Saint Andrew’s Cross,” Marla says, pointing to crossed beams against a wall. No one’s on there yet, but I have read enough to know how that works. “We have spanking benches and horses,” she says, gesturing to a setup of sturdy-looking equipment. “We have some implements couples can use over clothing, but private implements only for bare skin.”
I shiver. I want someone to use an implement on my bare skin.
There are couples sitting on loveseats. I blink at first in surprise, and it takes me a minute to realize that some of them are actually doing sexual things. Right here. In front of everyone. One man’s feeling a girl up, tweaking her bare nipples right over the edge of a too-short top. Her head’s thrown back, lips parted. I watch as he bends his head down and flicks his tongue over a nipple. My own body heats with arousal. Oh my God.
“I thought you said there were private rooms,” I say to Marla in a choked voice.
She grins. “For long-term members only,” she says. “And also? Not everyone’s here for private play.”
I look back at the couple. He’s rubbing between her legs while he suckles at her breasts. She’s writhing against his hand. I watch in rapt fascination. She’s going to climax. Right here. Clothed, and in front of everyone in this room. My own body heats as he moves faster and faster. Is it possible to climax without even being touched? Because this man must be a magician. I’m ready to fly.
I tear my eyes away.
I hear someone speaking right near me.
“That’s enough, little one.” I look to see where this voice comes from. There’s an older man with dark hair and eyes crossing his arms on his chest. He’s looking reproachfully at a small blonde woman wearing kitty ears. “Behave yourself,” he says.
What happens if she doesn’t? My pulse thunders. I’ve read enough books to know exactly what happens in the world of fiction. What happens here? I watch as she shakes her head with a pout befitting a little girl.
Oh my God. She told him no?
He shakes his head with regret and takes her by the arm. “I warned you,” he says. He’s marching her over to one of the spanking benches but there’s a gleam in his eyes like he hoped she’d disobey. On the way, he grabs the varnished wooden handle of a paddle. I can’t breathe or speak, but only watch. He’s going to punish her.
I catch a glimpse of her face. She’s grinning.
I’d be beet red. But at the same time… I want to know what it feels like.
He bends her over the bench, expertly fastens her restraints, then stands behind her wielding the paddle. Placing one hand on her lower back, he lifts his right hand and brings it slamming down on the woman’s clothed ass. She squeals, and he says something in her ear, then brings the paddle down again and again. Every time the wood strikes, blood thunders in my ears. My pussy clenches. I’m so wet, my panties feel damp.
I’m so primed for this.
“Chandra?” Marla’s next to me. She’s been talking to me, but I’ve been too busy getting turned on watching the girl get paddled.
“Yes?” I croak.
“This is my friend Viktor,” she says. He’s shorter than the guy at the door but broad and stern-looking the way I imagined a dom would be, and I’m a little intimidated.
“Hi,” I say. I swallow and must look like a total idiot, because I let my eyes go all wide so he doesn’t know I’m aroused by the scene in front of me. It must be a funny thing being introduced to a man when you’re aroused, and I wonder if it affects my vision, because this man is beautiful and the whole tall, dark, and handsome thing isn’t normally my thing.
Then I notice the way he’s looking at Marla. He stands just a little too close and his eyes warm when she introduces us.
“Pleased to meet you,” he says. He’s got a barely-detectable accent that makes him seem even sterner. God, I need another drink.
“Join me tonight?” he says to Marla. She blinks at him and her cheeks pink.
“Well,” she says. “I actually need to stay with Chandra. It’s her first time here, and I don’t want to leave her.”
He nods. “Fair enough.”
But I see the way he looks at her, and I know how desperate Marla’s been for someone to pay attention to her. She’s been a member here since they opened, and the other guys that she knows are all friends. They think of her as a sister, not a potential sub, and though she loves the camaraderie and occasional scene, it isn’t what she wants. I’d be a crappy friend to hold her back.
“Go,” I tell her. “I’m actually just going to get another drink and then just come back and watch. You know. Like a fly on the wall. A voyeur?” I chatter on like someone’s wound my tongue up and let it go. “A fly voyeur on the wall.” Dear God, someone stopper my mouth.
She blinks. “You sure you need another drink?”
“Oh, so very, very sure.”
Viktor chuckles, but takes Marla by the hand. “Be my sub tonight?” he asks.
She looks at me and blinks, then looks back to him.
“Do it,” I tell her.
“Wait for me in the foyer,” Viktor says in his heavily accented voice. “If we’re scening tonight, we’ll have ground rules. I have a quick phone call to make, then we talk.”
My heartbeat accelerates. This is it! This is what she wanted, and I’m simultaneously consumed with jealousy and excitement for my friend.
“Have fun, you two,” I say, turning away from her and heading back to the bar.
“Text me,” she says, raising her voice. “If anything goes wrong at all, and you need to—”
But her voice fades as Viktor gives her a playful slap on the bottom. She faces him, he whispers something in her ear, and she nods, then goes beet red
I look away. My heart twists and my throat burns. There’s a little tingle in my nose. What the hell is wrong with me? I’m not sad that she’s with him. I’m just… jealous?
As I walk alone to the bar, I know, I wouldn’t have made a different choice. I don’t need a babysitter here. I’m only here to observe, and there is no way I’m participating in anything tonight. Like, at all. But this is hard for me. I grew up in a home where I wasn’t even allowed to date. My parents arranged my marriage like their parents did, and even though I bailed on that, a part of me still fears disapproval. If they knew I was here tonight, they’d disown me.
If they knew a lot of things, they’d disown me.
I make my way to the bar. I need a drink stat.
“Hey,” Travis says. He’s a friendly guy, and really kinda cute, though he looks pretty young, and that feels more like he’s my brother than a potential… well, anything. Dom. Boyfriend. Guy I kiss who buys me a drink. I’ve never been one who’s attracted to men my age, and I’m not now.
“Marla took off?” he asks. He wipes his hands on a towel. I can’t help but glance at his ring finger. He doesn’t wear a ring, but he’s got to be in his early twenties or so, and bartenders flirt even if they’re dating someone. He’s kind, though, and that’s always been my weakness.
“Well, she’s spending the night with a guy,” I say, and then realize that sounds like my friend is whoring herself out. “I mean—well. Okay, so I don’t really know how it works here?” I grimace. God, I should just shut up right now. “But there’s a guy named Viktor and he wanted to, um… what’s the word… scene with her. So they’re going to go… I don’t know, write up a contract or something?” I’ve been into this for how long and now I sound like a total newbie? God!
His eyes crinkle around the edges and he smiles at me. “Is that right? Seems like Marla’s in need of scenin’ good and hard.”
“Most of us are in need of scening good and hard,” I say before I can stop myself. My hand flies to my mouth and I look at him with wide eyes.
And just like that, the insane arousal that started when I saw the scene in the dungeon ignites. Travis grins.
“Is that right?” he asks in his panty-melting drawl.
Hell. Maybe he is cute.
I shouldn’t have come here. I’m way too sex-deprived and needy. I need to get out of here.
“That’s right,” I squeak. I grab a handful of the nuts in the little bowl on the counter, and pop some in my mouth so I don’t say anything stupid. My mind starts playing tricks on me. Travis bending me over the bar and showing me exactly what “scenin’ good and hard” looks like. I imagine he reaches for his belt buckle, those golden-brown eyes growing stern and corrective.
Someone lifts their hand across the bar and Travis shoots me a parting wink, then goes to fill the order. I barely restrain myself from burying my head in my hands.
“Buy you a drink?” someone to my right asks.
I look over and there are three men sitting there that look like they could be brothers with Viktor. Maybe they are. Or cousins or something.
“Sorry?” I ask.
“You look like you need a drink,” the younger one says. “First time here?”
I nod dumbly. He waves down Travis. “What’s your drink?” he asks me.
I shrug like a dumbass.
“Whiskey sour’s what Marla gave you.” Travis looks disapprovingly at me, and gives me the drink, but shoots the guys next to me a warning look. Is it my imagination? Is he jealous?
I hear someone laughing so loudly behind me, it catches my attention, and I quickly turn and look. There’s a crowd of people dressed up in all black, over by the pool tables. I can’t quite tell what they’re doing, but they’re having so much fun. I’m a little jealous, and I know then that I want to be a part of this place. I want to fit in. Have friends that know me and welcome me when I come. And hell, I want to scene.
“What brings you here?” the man next to me asks. He’s got a similar accent to Viktor. Russian? He pushes my drink to me, and I take it gratefully.
“Thank you,” I say. I gulp it like I’m dying of thirst. The voice I heard plays in my mind, and I need to get it to stop. I’m not that girl anymore, and I don’t act like her.
“Whoa, now,” the man says, holding his hand palm down. “Take it easy there. Travis is known for his good, strong drinks.”
My head is feeling woozy again and my mouth a little thick. “Is he known for good, strong anything else?” I ask.
Oh my God. Did I just say that out loud? The men just laugh, though. I drink until ice hits my lips. Marla’s with her man. After tonight, I may never be brave enough to return. Tonight, I’m living it up.