There’d been a horrific slaughter in the bowels of the city, a man I barely knew yet one who held extreme power within the hallowed walls of Congress.
He was also a member of Club Darkness.
A place where the wealthiest and most influential men in the city came to foster indecent and undermining schemes, taking power from their enemies.
And I was one of three in charge of keeping them in their place.
The absence of light, shadows forming across the buildings had always been the time of day I appreciated the most. I didn’t give a shit about sunlight, the invigorating rays so many people seemed to enjoy. For me, the darkness was enlightening, creating a wave of energy and drive deep within my psyche.
Just like violence.
I’d always been prone to brutal methods in dealing with people, humanity not something I gave much credence to. While there were days I longed for relief from my indecent and irrevocable desires, today was not one of them.
I was a merciless man capable of killing when necessary, something my brothers refused to acknowledge. As the most ruthless of the three, I harbored demons who dwelled deep within, savoring my path to success. Did that make me a ruthless predator? Of that I had no doubt.
But I also had no regrets.
A smile crossed my face as I shifted gears, pressing down on the accelerator of my Corvette as I rolled past several slower vehicles, savoring the power the expensive car allowed me to feel. I twisted my hand on the steering wheel, shifting lanes once again. My two brothers had accused me of having a death wish, barely able to embrace the importance of life, but I knew otherwise. I was a danger junkie, thriving on the power that my position afforded me, refusing to kowtow to anyone.
Man or woman.
Chuckling, I roared into the parking lot of Club Darkness, pulling into my usual spot, one of three reserved for the illustrious owners of the club. My brothers took their positions more seriously than I ever had, although during the last few months, all three of us had come to the conclusion that there were forces attempting to end our reign over the District of Columbia’s affluent and powerful society.
After all, we were the kings of information, able to use what we’d gathered to destroy those who deemed themselves more important. And in truth? I relished the concept. There were those who called me evil, a man with no soul.
And they were right.
I got out of the car, adjusting the collar on my coat, loathing the frigid air. There was nothing more I hated than DC in the winter. I always walked in through the front entrance, gathering a sense of what the night would entail. As I headed around the corner of the building, the skirmish unfolding pissed me off. I took long strides in the direction of the brawl, noticing the two bouncers from the club out of the corner of my eye.
For once, they actually had their hands full, fighting what appeared to be a group of six assholes, all of them refusing to back down. Within seconds, I homed in on the obvious leader, his laughable attempts at throwing punches igniting the rest of his group.
Moving quickly, I wrapped my hand around the prick’s collar, yanking him back and slamming his body against the side of the building. The force I used stole his breath, a slight gag erupting from his pursed mouth. I resisted reaching for the weapon I always carried, preferring to enjoy subduing him with my bare hands. I grabbed him around the neck, digging my fingers in as I lowered my head.
“What seems to be the problem?” I hissed, although I couldn’t give a shit.
The pressure of my hand was obviously too much for the sack of shit, his wheezing sounds and the way he clawed at my hand only fueling the fire burning deep within. My sudden appearance had caused a momentary cease in the melee, his group of followers stunned by my harsh actions. The limited lighting at the entrance allowed me to see the horror in the asshole’s eyes, his entire body shaking from my rage.
“The fuckers tried to force their way in,” one of the bouncers said from behind me. Bruno was not the kind of man to allow any wayward creatures into the club.
“They’re not members?” I asked casually, increasing the pressure of my fingers.
“Hell, no,” the second bouncer snarled, growling as the other five young men continued to challenge, inching closer once again.
“Then you should have brought out your retired bat, Bruno. I know how much you enjoy using the stiff hunk of wood,” I suggested as I sized up the little motherfuckers.
He snorted, a grin crossing his face as he folded his arms. “It’s just inside the front door, boss. Maybe I’ll get it. Needs some polishing. Fresh blood will do the trick.”
“It’s a fucking nightclub,” one of the intruders dared to say, gaping at my bouncer with wide open eyes. The threat of the bat always got to the assholes who seemed hell bent on ignoring the rules.
“We got money to spend,” another challenged. “Lots of money.”
I tilted my head in his direction, glancing up and down, another snarl erupting from my throat. While their jeans and expensive leather jackets might impress the ladies, their attire did nothing but piss me off even more. “You mean Daddy’s money,” I stated, growing bored of the tedium.
“Fuck you,” the obvious leader dared to snap at me, his labored words defiant.
“Not only do we have a dress code, which you and your boys fail, there is no admittance without a membership. Now, unless you’re willing to pay a twenty-thousand-dollar entrance fee tonight for each of you, I suggest you take your bullshit hunger somewhere else. If not, I’ll have no problem snapping my wrist, the slender bones in your buddy’s neck shattering. Do I make myself clear?” I slammed the leader against the building again for emphasis, managing to lift the jerk a solid two inches off the ground. I heard Bruno fighting a laugh even as the second bouncer shifted between the group of jerks. When he released an intense roar, the five of them scampered back several feet.
“Fuck this,” one of the interlopers said under his breath. “We don’t need this shit.”
“Good choice,” I barked, keeping my hold as the others backed all the way to their vehicles. Only then did I release my hold, smiling as the moron seemed forced to hunker over, gasping for air. When I spoke, I kept my voice low and husky so only the illustrious fallen leader could hear me. “Don’t you dare attempt to enter my club again. If you do, I won’t be as lenient. In fact, you’ll leave here in an ambulance but only if I’m in a good mood. Do. You. Understand?”
I waited as the asshole continued coughing, jerking away from me before snapping his head in my direction.
“You… fucked with… the wrong,” he hissed, coughing again several times, “man, fucker. I will… take you… down.”
How many of them had I heard in my life? How many more would occur given my status and the knowledge my brothers and I held a significant portion of power in the city limits and beyond? As if I gave a shit.
“Do what you need to do, kid. Just know I enjoy exacting revenge on assholes who refuse to follow the rules.” I said the words casually as I glared at him, although I wanted nothing more than to act on the wrath that I knew the jerk needed.
He smiled, his pearly whites highlighted in the LED lighting. As he lifted his arm, pointing a single finger in my direction, I simply curled my lip. It had been a long time since a bunch of college kids had attempted to gain entrance. Doing so violently spoke of their… heritage. I snickered at the thought.
I turned to watch as all six of the cowards moved toward their vehicles, shaking my head as dollar signs floated in my mind. All six of them likely had important families, those able to afford eighty-thousand-dollar vehicles. The screech of tires seconds later forced another growl from my throat.
“Sorry about that, boss,” Bruno said half under his breath. “They refused to take no for an answer.”
I ran my fingers through my hair before glaring at him. “Next time use additional force. Bat. No bat. Whatever warms up your testicles.” As I walked past Bruno and the other bouncer, I shifted my attention one last time as the assholes gunned their engines, yelling obscenities out their windows.
I threw open the door to the club, the booming music immediately assaulting my senses, the shimmering light coming from the stage annoying me more than usual. Perhaps I simply wasn’t in the damn mood to coddle wealthy men with penchants for tasting the dark side of kink. I stormed into the club, moving immediately toward the closest bar. I didn’t have to ask for my drink of choice. Every bartender knew what I required.
Bourbon. Neat. Johnnie Walker King George V to be exact. There were always at least two bottles of the expensive liquor kept at all times, my tastes bordering on the extreme. This was one of few vices, something my brothers enjoyed ribbing me about.
However, they didn’t know what other desires lurked just below the surface. They didn’t need to know. I lived my life the way I saw fit.
As the drink was slid in my direction, I turned my attention toward the crowd. Given the fact Congress was back in session, we were generally filled to capacity almost every night. While the money was flowing, the tension between Gregory, Michael, and me was increasing. An ominous tone remained hovering over the club, as if some kind of final reality was about to fall.
Both my brothers had faced difficulties in the previous months. My turn was next.
The murder that had occurred the day before just outside the city had everyone on edge. Congressman Graham Reynolds had been a staple within the community, a senior player whose wealth and influence had garnered him his share of enemies. His slaughter had taken the media by storm, reporters clamoring to secure a gruesome picture for the tabloids. While murders were a part of everyday life, the fact the man had been a member of the club hadn’t gone unnoticed between the three of us. There’d been no witnesses and no robbery attempt during the heinous crime. Merely a bloody killing in a grandiose manner.
I was prepared for another attempt at destroying the club to come at any time.
I took a sip of my drink as the next dancer entered onto the stage. Something deep inside of me churned almost immediately as I studied the audience’s reaction the moment she pirouetted across the floor. The flash of her flaming red toe shoes caught the attention of every male in close proximity, her subtle yet very provocative dance unusual. I shifted closer, studying her intently. She was graceful and elegant, although her attire screamed of a wanton vixen.
The music was gothic, a dark reminder of a distant time, provoking an intense desire almost immediately, one I’d refused to acknowledge over the last few years. A growl surfaced from my throat, finding its way past my lips. Inching within a few feet, I became mesmerized, lurid thoughts rushing into my mind as she came within a few feet, using every inch of the stage.
The bold liquor did little to quench my thirst, my mouth watering as I watched her seductive moves, her long legs and powerful muscles allowing her to take flight off the stage. She reminded me of a fragile bird; one wrong move and she’d come crashing down to earth, her beauty destroyed. While I’d watched her performance before, tonight seemed entirely different. Aggressive. Dominating.
A surge of hunger swept through me, the kind that refused to be denied, my cock aching to the point I was forced to resist rubbing my hand across my throbbing shaft. I had no idea who she was, barely registering her name on the records. Michael handled the employee files, taking care of the day-to-day operations with an iron fist.
I was merely one of the enforcers of rules, refusing to allow either our employees or one of our members to abuse their positions. I headed toward the stage, scanning the audience again, an odd feeling coursing through my veins. I’d had a sick sixth sense for two weeks, preparing for another enemy to slither his way out of the muck. Three months had gone by since the last threatening incident, enough time my brothers had resumed their lives, enjoying the women they oh-so adored.
I was the lone wolf, a dangerous man prepared to strike when necessary.
And I had the distinct feeling that time was near.
Especially given the recent murder.
My longing created a wave of surging electricity, every muscle in my body tense. While I wasn’t a man prone to fantasies, the jolt from several filthy images rolling through my mind forced my cock to full attention. Suddenly, vivid images overtook my mind.
As I placed the ball gag into her mouth, her eyes opened wide, the trepidation evident. I caressed her soft skin, running my fingers along her jaw before cupping and squeezing her chin. “You were very disobedient, little princess. I can’t have that.”
A moan slipped past the thick rubber as her body trembled, her arms and legs shackled as she awaited her penance. When she twisted in her shackles, the rattle of chains only added to the excitement and extreme adrenaline rush. My nostrils flared as I gathered a whiff of her feminine wiles. She was as aroused as I was, her nipples hard and rosy, her pussy juice already leaking down the insides of her thighs. I couldn’t wait to gorge on her tender flesh, driving my tongue deep into her core.
Then I would fuck her, taking every hole over and over again.
Chuckling darkly, I used a single finger as I explored the long line of her neck, gently caressing her pulse of life. As I eased further down, moving slowly between her breasts, I could sense her increased tension. She had no way of knowing what was about to happen. My hunger continued to increase as I savored my exploration, rolling my fingertip down the front of her thigh.
“There are reasons that rules must be followed, a warning I’ve given you twice before.” As she muttered around the gag, trying desperately to convey another solemn promise to be good, I swirled the same finger around her already swollen clit.
She stiffened, her muffled cries of anxiety shifting into something else entirely.
“You’re wet, my pet, but soon you’ll be drenched, your body stained from my cum.”
She closed her eyes the second I pinched her tender tissue between my thumb and forefinger, her body bucking hard against the restraints.
“I assure you that I won’t hesitate to spank that pretty little pussy of yours into a vibrant and delicious pink if you continue struggling.” My words were stated with utter domination, the tone husky from increasing lust. As her muffled cries filtered into my eardrums, I pinched and twisted once again. Even the way she clenched her fists, refusing to succumb to my will, was enticing.
After a few seconds, I walked slowly toward the cold steel table, pushing my fingers into my mouth. The taste of her was indescribable, more delicious than I could have imagined. Various implements had been positioned for my use, making it difficult to make a single selection. She would learn one way or the other to obey me, surrendering to my every need. After dancing my fingers across various paddles and tawses, straps and canes, I made my selection.
I sliced the birch cane through the air before bringing it under my nose, inhaling the incredible aroma. As I walked closer, the heels of my shoes thudding against the cool tile floor, I was unable to take my eyes off the beautiful woman. She was perfect in every way, her voluptuous curves and long legs the thing all fantasies were made of.
And she belonged to me.
“The perfect beginning for an amazing evening.” My words lingered in the air as I moved behind her, flexing my fingers before rolling them down her lithe back, admiring the roundness of her buttocks. Soon, her beautiful bottom would wear my stripes.
When I delivered a hard crack, the way her body jerked forward was delightful, the immediate warm blush across her skin entirely too delicious.
And so, I gave her four strikes in succession…
There had never been a time on this stage when I hadn’t felt the hunger of the members, their lurid glances and the way they sucked down liquor an obvious giveaway of their dark and kinky desires. That’s not what I was here for. I couldn’t care less about the surreal state of mind formed from the combination of punishment and pleasure. All I wanted was a chance to dance, freedom from the chains of my everyday life. This was the only job that allowed me to pretend I was someone else.
So I’d endured the scathing looks of longing from men who would pay almost anything for a single taste. At least they knew better than to touch. But tonight, I felt two pairs of eyes tracking me, watching every move I made as I pirouetted out of the shadows, leaping across the stage. I refused to pay attention, trying desperately to get lost in the music.
I shifted to the right of the stage, my jetés followed by a low and seductive plié. Only when I lifted my head could I see him clearly. Him. A predator. His gaze screamed of hunger, forcing my pussy to pulse as quickly as my heart was beating. He’d never looked at me this way, as if he would devour every inch of my body in one sitting, licking and sucking on my pussy lips until I screamed out his name. Jesus. The man had such enigmatic eyes, the darkness swelling, reeling me in as if I was able to catch a glimpse of his very soul. I was taken aback, my breath skipping. He was far too attractive, yet the kind of man who refused to take no for an answer.
I knew that kind of man well, one who used then threw away women as if they were nothing more trash. I refused to fall into that category. No matter how gorgeous he was or how much power he wielded. A memory from my past rushed into my mind, stripping away at my motivation. No. I refused to succumb to a second from my past or any offering hindering my performance. Backing away, I suddenly heard a loud voice, an unusual occurrence in the club.
After performing an arabesque, the sound of the man’s voice filtered into my eardrums again. Only this time, I recognized the husky tone, the inflections of a thirsty man. No! Please God, no. There was no way in hell. None. I had to be hearing things, memories from the past pushing me to the brink of my sanity.
“Krasivyy malysh,” the mysterious man said in a thunderous voice that somehow echoed across the stage.
Beautiful baby. The term hadn’t been used since…
No, please, no. No!
Breathe. Think. Dance.
I held my breath, trying to rein in my courage. I had to squelch the demons.
I switched up my performance, moving into the shadows of the shimmering light as I crept closer. All I needed was a single glance into the man’s cold, murderous eyes to know if I was right or wrong. After lifting into another arabesque, I tumbled toward the edge of the stage, daring to lift my head. The light was just enough to catch a glimpse of the man sitting closest to the edge of the stage.
The bastard had found me.
After all these years of running and hiding and…
He’d found me.
And there was no doubt in my mind that he’d finish what he started all those years ago.
What the hell?
I wasn’t the kind of man who daydreamed about anything, including the desire for an exquisite woman. I could have any female I desired, although I’d forgone the concept of dating. Why bother? That would require me to pretend to be a caring and romantic man, while the beast inside clawed at the surface. Why was I suddenly fascinated with a woman hiding behind a mask? Maybe being alone for an extended period of time wasn’t in my best interest. I rolled my eyes at the thought. Power and money were the two things that had a lock on my time. That was never going to change.
She continued her provocative dance, using every inch of the stage as if her own. Why in the hell hadn’t the girl secured a job as an actual ballerina instead of working in a dark and dangerous club?
A noise drew my attention away from my ridiculous longing, forcing me to concentrate.
I studied a group of six men sitting at one of the closest tables, the same number as the jerks outside bothering me for several reasons. However, while the twenty-some-year-olds outside remained wet behind their ears, the distinguished brutes with their eyes locked on the stage told a story of their own.
Five were meant as protection for the shaggy-haired blond sitting closest to the action. Even from where I stood, I could tell what they were drinking. Vodka. Russian vodka to be exact. The bottle of Beluga was illuminated in the shimmering lights pulsing down from the ceiling. Sighing, I shifted my attention back to the stage, my entire body aching. While the outfit she wore was provocative, she was much more reserved than the majority of other dancers.
She was able to entertain with a slight twist of her hand; an elongation of a single leg was seductive as hell. I took another sip, contemplating whether I would decide to take on a challenge, feasting on the beautiful woman for the night. I’d never dipped into the well, tasting a single employee over the years, a rule I’d been determined to follow.
But… there were always exceptions.
As the song ended, I heard the robust sexual comments made by the Russian, understanding every word although they were shouted in his native language.
His catcall of ‘beautiful baby’ raised my hackles for no other reason than I desired for her as well.
“Ya voz’mu tebya.”
He shouted the words ‘I will take you,’ the others in his group laughing heartedly. My anger doubled and breached the surface. As the Russian shifted to his feet, his bodyguards doing the same, my instinct screamed loudly that the barbarian was going to make good on what I considered a threat.
Over my dead body.
“Don’t make a scene, Christopher.”
The words filtered into my mind, the sound of my brother’s voice forcing me to hiss. “What kind of scene would that be, Gregory?”
“I can tell when you’re ready to go off.” Gregory flanked my side, lifting his drink to his lips as he stared at the table of Russians.
“Who the fuck are they?”
“From what I’ve heard, Russian royalty, although of the mafia kind. And you know how I feel about performing seals.”
I glanced at Gregory’s pensive face, able to tell he was concerned even with his offhanded comment. “How the hell did they gain entrance?” My thoughts drifted to the group of young men, although their Ivy League attire and attitudes were entirely different than men who were little more than beasts in expensive suits.
“I think that might be something only you can answer since you maintain the roster of past members as well as those in the present.”
I’d been given the task months before, comparing the members during our father’s regime to those we’d allowed to join our members-only club recently. I took a step closer, trying to keep my fury at bay as I watched the Russian approach the stage, a folded bill or ten in his hand. While the lovely dancer was gracious, bending over in a typical ballet dancer’s stance, her long arm sweeping down to the polished floor, I wanted to rush toward the stage and crush the asshole’s hand.
Jesus. While I was a possessive man, I usually held that particular inclination aside for issues involving money. My heart raced, my pulse skyrocketing. I didn’t like feeling vulnerable in any manner.
“I can see you’re intrigued by our lovely dancer,” Gregory said in a jovial manner. “I thought she would make a great addition to our repertoire.”
I shot him a nasty look this time, exhaling the pent-up rage. “She’s an employee, which means she’s off limits just like all the rest. Well, to everyone but my older brother.” He’d ignored the rules in an effort to unmask the woman he’d soon be married to, even if she’d been lying about her identity initially. Perhaps it had been our good fortune she’d been the undercover detective assigned to a bogus case. Her help had been necessary in taking down one of our enemies. One. We had so many more, some yet to unveil themselves. As I studied the crowd, I wondered just how many more there actually were biding their time before taking their shot at bringing us down.
Gregory chuckled. “I’m never going to live that down.”
“Not as long as I’m alive.” While I said the words casually, all three of us were cognizant that plants from various law enforcement agencies were always a possibility, even though we were operating completely above board.
“You heard about the murder.”
Exhaling, I nodded. “Gruesome.”
“Such an upstanding citizen,” Gregory quipped. “If you ask me, the congressman received an appropriate punishment.”
“Yes. There is no one in this town who doesn’t harbor secrets, some more so than others.” What little I’d known about Congressman Reynolds suggested his proclivities were extremely dark, his desire for young girls bordering on criminal.
“You mean other than being a member of our club?”
“If you’re trying to suggest he was killed because of his membership, I would have to laugh.”
“I’m merely saying that I have a bad feeling,” my brother hissed. “We need to be very careful who we allow into this club.”
Turning slightly, I lifted a single eyebrow. “Then the Russian shouldn’t have been allowed inside.”
He smiled, laughing softly under his breath. “I guess time will tell. I trust you can handle him, brother. Just like you always do.”
“Yes… The asshole better not fuck with me.” Russian mafia. There’d been rumors for two years another syndicate was prepared to come into DC, crushing anyone who got in their way. Perhaps the trained killer was merely enjoying a night out on the town. Then why were my hackles raised?
The Russian brushed his hand across the dancer’s neck, obviously whispering words that were troubling, although she did everything in her power to act as if nothing bothered her. She shook her head before stepping back into the shadows, the rest of the audience applauding. It would seem she’d refused his advances.
As the lights went dim, the dancer leaving the stage, the Russian’s fury nearly exploded, his arm sweeping across the table, the bottle of vodka tumbling to the floor, although given the thick crystal, it appeared to have remained intact. I actually wished otherwise. Still, the asshole’s behavior pissed me off.
“That’s it. I don’t give a shit who they are, they will not destroy this club.” The second I took a step forward, Gregory wrapped his hand around my arm, yanking me back.
“Tread carefully, brother, at least at this point. That man is Aleksandr Prentikov, son of Vishon Prentikov. I’m certain you know the name.”
Huffing, I fisted my hand, ready to toss my glass toward the asshole. “True Russian mafia, the most savage crime syndicate in Russia.”
“You do listen,” Gregory said, chuckling.
“No, I read. The question is, why is his son taking up valued space in our club? What are his intentions?”
“As I said, that is something only you might be able to decipher. From what little I know, Aleksandr is the lead henchman for the Rossini syndicate out of New York. That likely means he is on the hunt. Just be careful.”
“You’re worried the time is near,” I said casually, keeping my eyes locked on the Russian as he grabbed his waitress’ arm, yanking her close to the table. “The club’s demise.”
Gregory inhaled before lifting his glass. “We just need to have a watchful eye, brother. Enemies can attack from any angle at any time.”
“Then find the goddamn ledger.” The infamous ledger, or group of files that our grandfather and father had maintained over the generations, the information capable of bringing many of our acclaimed members to their knees, held more power than anything my brothers and I had learned thus far. So many of our members were involved in corruption, embezzlement, and the type of power plays that defined the term ‘ruthless.’ After our father’s untimely death, the ledger had yet to be discovered. Even the family attorney had been banished given his lack of knowledge and his basic betrayal of the family.
However, the three remaining Dunmores had kept their own lists, mine likely much longer than those of my brothers’.
He moved in front of me, narrowing his eyes. “As I said. Keep your eyes on the ball. We don’t want any… incidents, no matter how beautiful the woman might be. Besides, we need to be certain why Aleksandr is here and if he’s working a contract.”
“You think he’s responsible for the congressman’s murder.”
Another smile crossed his face. “Anything is possible.”
A contract, as in performing as an assassin. That was the last fucking thing we needed. While the FBI hadn’t breathed down our necks in months, it was possible one of the astute law enforcement pigs would make a connection about his involvement within the club.
I wanted to lash out at my brother, reminding Gregory that his lovely fiancée had been an undercover operative determined to bring down the club and the family. However, what good would that do? “Noted,” I hissed, taking a large gulp of my drink. Even the smoothness of the liquor wasn’t able to squelch the enraged beast inside.
As the Russian threw up his hands, moving away from his table, I watched him intently until he shifted into the shadows. While it was possible that he was searching for the restrooms, my gut told me otherwise. I shoved my drink onto one of the occupied tables before heading backstage, uncertain of the girl’s dressing room. Sadly, I hadn’t paid a damn bit of attention to her stage name. None of our performers used their real names, their identities held in secret in Michael’s office.
I made my way through the dancers, glancing into the various dressing spaces. She was nowhere to be found and neither was the brooding Russian. Goddamn it. This shit wasn’t going to fly in my club.
“You are very beautiful,” Aleksandr said from behind me. While the words themselves were nothing on the surface, they screamed of instant ownership and the requirements that accompanied a man of his stature.
They also sent an immediate chill down my back, my skin crawling from being in his presence. He was a monster, the kind nightmares were made of.
I’d known there was nowhere to run all those years ago, that he would eventually hunt me down. That had been the promise he’d made to me. Now I simply had to pretend that I was someone else in an effort to stay alive. Would it work? Or would he see past the mask and the lightened hair, an entirely different kind of dance than I’d performed before?
“Why, thank you, sir.” I moved toward the shelf full of fresh towels, grabbing one as I offered a single smile. The asshole had changed very little, the scar on his face something I was proud of and my guess was he wore it like a badge of honor. That had been the last straw during my time spent with him, his rage erupting within seconds as blood dripped down his face after I’d performed the deed.
“I will eventually kill you, my angel. And I will enjoy taking time to do so.”
Only recently had I been able to shove his threat below the surface. Now…
Swallowing, I kept the smile on my face while nausea ravaged my system. Even the look in his eyes was exactly the same, a reminder that he was a cold-blooded killer and nothing more.
While guests were generally allowed anywhere in the club, the dressing rooms were off limits. He risked facing the wrath of one of the owners, something I wouldn’t mind seeing.
He shifted his gaze toward the door before running his fingers through his long blond hair, his gaze not merely undressing me but wrapping me up in chains.
“I would enjoy a privatnyy tanets,” he stated in a commanding tone. He tossed a wad of cash onto the dressing room table, his eyes shining. “A private dance,” he repeated when I cocked my head, feigning confusion.
Hell, no. While I knew they were allowed as well as encouraged, I refused to go anywhere alone with him. At least one of the other dancers would likely pop into the room at any point. “While I would enjoy that, I am afraid that I must leave for the night.”
“Ty vresh’ mne.” This time, his words were riddled with anger.
You are lying to me. “I don’t understand what you are saying.” When he glared into my eyes, a cold shiver trickled down my spine. I could see his wheels were turning, maybe trying to place where he knew me from. Please, God. Don’t let him figure it out. Please. I took my time placing the towel on the dressing table, trying to figure out what I should do.
He laughed, inching closer. “You know, little ballerina, you remind me of someone from a long time ago, a woman I hold dear to my heart. She was also a treacherous bitch, but very tasty.”
Bullshit. It was all I could do to keep the combination of anger and fear from allowing me to lash out. “I will take that as a compliment,” I managed, although there was contempt in my voice.
“It could very well be a curse, but you are a very lovely woman that I wouldn’t mind getting to know. I will pay you well for your time.” When he lifted his hand to stroke my cheek, I flinched, taking a full step backward. It was obvious I’d angered him even more, a snarl curling on his face. “However, you need to learn obedience, dancer girl. I am the master here. Five thousand dollars. You will not refuse me.”
“And I can accept or refuse a private dance. That is my right.” What the hell was I doing? I shifted slightly, darting a glance at the door.
“You will do as I say. No one is coming to save you,” Aleksandr snarled, his massive body pushing me hard against the wall. “Besides, I’ve already bought you. Every. Single. Inch.”
I wanted to scream, to rake out his eyes. The second I heard a deep snarl coming from near the door, I felt a sense of relief.
But I knew it would only be short-lived.
As I walked into the last room along the long hallway, a flash of anger rolled through me, the Russian’s advances obviously predatory in nature.
“You will do as I say. No one is coming to save you,” Aleksandr snarled, his massive body pushing hers to the wall. “Besides, I’ve already bought you. Every. Single. Inch.”
Before I had a chance to respond, she reacted, slapping him hard across the face, the force enough that the Russian’s head was shoved toward the side.
As he spouted off in Russian, the majority of which I couldn’t understand, the single phrase I did recognize yanked the beast from his den.
“Poshel ty, malen’kaya shlyukha.”
Fuck you, little whore.
There was no hesitation. I tossed the asshole against the wall, immediately issuing a hard punch to his kidney followed by one under his jaw. When he came out swinging, I managed to snag his arm, yanking it behind his back while wrapping my arm around his neck and squeezing.
“Ty svin’ya,” she retorted, stamping her foot on the floor.
Aleksandr narrowed his eyes, hissing as he glared at her.
“The lady doesn’t take it kindly to being called a little whore and it is definitely something I will not tolerate in my club.” The fact she knew Russian, calling him a pig was as pleasing as the fact she’d stood up for herself. It was also a red flag. The timing was far too coincidental to his arrival. “I suggest you and your friends call it a night.”
“No. She has agreed to a dance, even taken my money. It is my right to require that she finishes the transaction,” Aleksandr snarled as he nodded to the cash on the table. “If not, then she must be punished.”
While my brothers and I had changed a significant number of the rules since taking over, a few remained, including what the asshole Russian was referring to. My grandfather had considered the submissives working in the club more like slaves, requiring them to do almost anything requested by one of the members. If not, they were to be punished in a method of the guest’s choice.
What absolute bullshit.
The Russian had been here before. Years before. I didn’t like the odds that he suddenly returned, demanding attention from one of my dancers. My instinct was to gut him.
However, I remembered Gregory’s warning, words that continued to piss me off. As he continued to struggle in my arms, I squeezed my arm around his neck. “You will listen to me, Russian. I don’t care who you think you are or why you’re here. This is my club and she is my employee. You will not touch her again.” After a few seconds, I eased my hold, prepared for him to retaliate.
He broke free, taking two steps back, rubbing his jaw as his eyes fell to the lovely dancer. “Be careful, Mr. Dunmore. You have no idea who I am.”
Very slowly I eased my suit jacket aside, allowing him to see the handle of my weapon. “As if I give a fuck.”
He swore under his breath as he rubbed both hands through his long hair, a sneer crossing his face. “Very well.” After a few seconds, he smiled. “However, I have a proposition for you, Mr. Dunmore.”
“I’m not interested.”
“Name your price. I want her and I always get what I want. How about one million American dollars for a single night?”
A million dollars.
Aleksandr’s arrogance was intolerable; however, his insinuations that he could buy anything he wanted were akin to words that I would say.
“She’s not for sale, Mr. Prentikov. No one inside this club is.” Asshole. The prick reeked of something other than vodka, the slight shimmer in his eyes an indication of his intoxication level. That made him even more dangerous.
“Everyone has a price, Mr. Dunmore. A man such as yourself knows that all too well.” His eyes twinkling, the wall of gloating he gave me was one of knowing. What the fuck was the asshole doing here? I was even more determined to find out, slicing and dicing him if necessary to do so.
I offered a smile, shaking my head as I closed the distance, standing over him by a solid three inches. “I’m not a man to be fucked with, Aleksandr. Not now. Not ever. Now, you and your goons are going to leave here tonight, and you will not return. I quite frankly don’t give a shit whether or not you have a membership. As far as the woman. She belongs to me. My property. If and when she needs punishment, it is a task that only I will handle. Do I make myself clear or do I need to pound your head against the wall in order to ensure that you do?”
The lovely dancer wadded up the cash, taking long strides in his direction, holding out her arm defiantly. “I don’t want this. I will never be for sale.”
Laughing, he refused to take it.
She smiled, the kind of practiced smile that could turn a man into ice then dropped the wad of cash onto the floor. His facial expression was difficult to read, but his eyes held the same kind of fury that burned deep in my psyche.
After gazing down the length of her, he maintained the eye contact with me for a full thirty seconds. Then he gave a single nod, turning swiftly and walking toward the exit. He slowly tipped his head, the action enabling him to take another look at the dancer.
“Ot menya nekuda spryatat’sya. Ya naydu tebya. I kogda ya eto sdelayu, ty budesh’ moyey.”
What the fuck was his threat? While I knew several expressions in Russian, whatever he’d spouted off I could barely understand. However, there was no doubt by her paling skin and the nervous tic appearing in the corner of her mouth that his threat troubled her significantly.
I moved toward the door, reaching inside the pocket of my jacket for the handle of my Glock. I knew I hadn’t seen the last of the prick. I would enjoy putting a single bullet between his eyes. I turned to gaze at her, realizing that the Russian’s words had dual meaning, as if she’d requited his advances before.
“What is your name?” I demanded after returning to the room.
She remained defensive, the mask covering a good portion of her face barely able to hide her rage.
“If I have to ask you again, the punishment you do deserve will be severe. Or if you would prefer, I’ll be happy to allow our illustrious member to return, providing whatever discipline he believes is necessary.” I’d spent enough time around people who’d spent their life harboring secrets to recognize when they were.
Huffing, she ran her tongue across her lips, forcing my cock to twitch.
“My name is Callie. Thank you, Mr. Dunmore, for saving me from that pig, but I am not your property,” she said with utter defiance.
I sucked in my breath, pulling my weapon into both hands, watching as he strolled down the hallway, heading back into the main portion of the club. I doubted the asshole would leave quietly. When he rounded the corner, heading for the main portion of the club, a part of me knew I should go after him.
Another part of me wanted nothing more than to punish her exactly as my fantasy had played out. She was certainly risking my wrath with her attitude. However, I was more intrigued with her than ever. Still, she needed to learn her place. I slid my weapon back into my pocket, controlling my anger. “Callie, you are going to learn the hard way that rules were created for a reason.” She had to know I’d find out who she really was. Her attempt at continuing to hide behind her persona provided a clear indication she was prepared to lie to me about her relationship with the asshole.
Grabbing her arm, I yanked her over the edge of the dressing table, bringing my hand down against her backside.
“What are you doing?” she demanded, adding gasoline to the already raging fire.
“Calling our members pigs isn’t allowed.” I ripped at her outfit as I studied her in the mirror, the burning look in her eyes matching my own. She was a handful. When I managed to rip down her panties, exposing her rounded buttocks, she gritted her teeth and clawed the edge of the table.
“How about asshole?” she retorted.
I cocked my head, my desire building to the point of no return. As I peppered her naked skin with one brutal smack after another, the force shoving her hard against the wooden surface, I could almost read her vile thoughts.
“I suggest you learn about obedience and remorse.” The sting on my hand was invigorating, my cock now pinching against my zipper.
She pushed up from the table, taking deep breaths as a beautiful warm blush crept along her cheeks, the color similar to the rosy red appearing on her bottom.
“I know my place.”
Her rebellious nature was stimulating as fuck, although no one challenged me, not if they didn’t want to face my wrath. I couldn’t believe the fire in her eyes or the way she twisted her mouth. She would soon have my cock pushed past her voluptuous lips.
“What did he say to you, Callie?” I asked as I caressed her skin, taking my time to run my finger up and down the crack of her ass.
Tensing, her entire body quivered but she remained silent.
“I am not a patient man. You will answer me and yes, you are my property. What did he say to you? I know you understand Russian. I can tell by the look on your face that whatever he spouted off troubled you. So. Tell. Me.”
I studied her face, the tense lines crossing her brow and the way her mouth pursed. She was hiding, holding secrets that the Russian threatened to undermine. What I was unable to determine was whether the two knew each other or if his hunger had turned him into a savage. Either way, the need for additional punishment was a possibility.
“If you do not tell me, I will continue punishing you,” I said after a few seconds. The scent of her infiltrated my senses, fueling the fire burning deep within. She was like a true innocent, beautiful and beguiling in an unassuming way. My beast broke through the surface, my cock yearning to feel the warmth of her pussy.
And I would.
She laughed before pushing her hand across her lips, every action riddled with nervousness.
“Have it your way.” I smacked her bottom hard and fast, the slapping sound filtering into the space around us.
Biting her lower lip, she arched her back as if she was enjoying the spanking. Damn the woman. Why did I have the distinct feeling that she didn’t want to tell me the truth?
I kicked her legs apart, smacking her upper thighs before sliding my fingers in between her legs. Only then did a single moan escape her lips.
Every cell in my body was sizzling, my heart thudding against my chest. I’d never felt such a draw to a woman. All the same dark and filthy visions manifested themselves in my mind again, desires threatening my control, the last thing I needed. “I take the behavior of my employees very seriously, no matter the circumstances.”
“Why, yes, sir.”
When she ground her hips back and forth, her eyes shimmering even from behind the mask, I almost took her. “While I am a brutal man, Callie, I also enjoy giving pleasure when it’s justified.” I barely dipped my fingers between her swollen folds, sucking in my breath from the feel of her extreme wetness.
The nervous tic on the corner of her mouth was the only indication that my actions either delighted or disgusted her. She was doing everything she could to maintain power. I rolled the tip of my finger around her clit then resumed spanking her, issuing twenty in rapid succession.
When I was finished, I remained directly behind her, planting my hands on either side. She was uncomfortable as hell at the closeness, but I could smell her intense desire, the same longing that furrowed deep inside of me. “I’m going to ask you one more time, Callie. If you don’t answer me this time, I will have no choice but to continue into a second round of punishment and I assure you, that is one you will remember for several days. Do I make myself clear?”
A few seconds ticked by as she studied me.
“Fine, Mr. Dunmore. The bastard said,” she snarled, her tone as icy as her glare, “‘There is nowhere you can hide from me. I will find you. And when I do, you will be mine.’”
What did the unseemly Russian have on her? Something was off, my instinct telling me that at minimum she’d had dealings with Prentikov before.
I slowly backed away, a combination of venomous fury as well as an irrational need to ravage her entering my system.
It was as if something snapped deep within me, my desire refusing to be denied.
I would protect her.
Then she would be forced to surrender to me.
“You will stay in this room until I return, and you will obey me. Then we are going to talk. Make no mistake. I am a dangerous man, one who refuses to be lied to. I suggest you keep that in mind.”