Her stomach fluttered. “Logan.” She nodded at him and shrugged off her short leather jacket, and glanced back at him as she hung it on the rack.
“You didn’t get cold on the el?” His eyes assessed her.
She looked down at her long legs, bare in the short skirt. “I was freezing.” She stamped her boots, left, then right, on the shaggy mat rug. “But I’m dedicated to my party planning contract, and I’m going to organize the best Merry Kinksmas party for your club, ever.” She grinned, but he didn’t.
“Wear jeans and change.” He crossed his arms. “You know I won’t get mad if you clock in a few minutes after the hour because of the weather. Or don’t change at all. There’s no dress code for you, since you’re an independent contractor.”
“Too much trouble.” She brushed melting flakes of snow from her hair. Too late; they were already small drops of icy water, slowly sinking into her black curls. As she raised the tresses from her shoulders and fluffed them, his eyes followed her movements, and a small smile hovered about his lips before he frowned again.
“Your skin is red.” His worn jeans rested low on his lean hips, and she saw the outline of his powerful, muscular thighs through the fabric. His white dress shirt pulled in all the right places, showing off his rock-hard stomach, ripped abs, and lickable biceps. And that hair! Dark brown, a hint of a curl, just a little too long—those gorgeous brown eyes with the long lashes, those chiseled cheekbones… he looked like such a fucking sexy bad boy.
“That’s an odd criticism, considering where I am.” She ran her hands over her skirt and adjusted her hem. “Don’t you think?” She wiggled her eyebrows, trying to look like she didn’t want to launch herself at him.
He snorted. “If you…” He broke off and looked across the employees’ staff room to the hall leading to the main play floor, then back at her.
“If I what?” Adrenaline shot through her veins, a sudden flash of desire. It was safe to say that she had the biggest, most unrequited crush of her life on Logan Brandt, the super sexy manager of Dark Sin, who was overseeing Chicago’s hottest BDSM club while the owner Tyler and his new bride, Lili were honeymooning in Tahiti. Or somewhere awesome like that.
Logan shook his head. “Nothing. Take a few minutes to warm up, grab a coffee if you want.” He gestured toward the kitchenette. “There’s a fresh batch on right now.”
“I don’t know.” She wrinkled her nose. “Is it the coffee that Myka brought back from Israel? I don’t like the flavor.”
Logan burst out laughing. “Cardamom? I banned that. Everyone complained. I think it’s an acquired taste.”
“Oh, thank God. The whole room still smells like it, so I can’t even tell.” She rubbed her thighs, which tingled, her cold skin starting to thrum with warmth, the nerve endings waking to her surroundings. “I mean, it smells fine, sort of like an exotic incense. But drinking it is something else.”
Once again, his eyes followed her fingers, and she caught her breath, half-wishing it were his palms smoothing over her skin, his fingers pressing into her body—
“What?” She flushed and looked up, meeting his eyes.
A muscle clenched in his jaw. “The RSVP data?”
“Yes, of course. I mean—did you want me to email it to you? Or print it?”
“I want to go over it with you. See if you need any last-minute assistance from me for the party this weekend.”
“Anytime, boss.” Her voice came out sexier than she’d intended, but the thought of sitting next to him, maybe feeling his strong thigh next to her naked one, letting the warmth of his body spread into hers, smelling that delicious cologne up close? It was one of those thoughts that turned into something more, something dark and delicious, a fantasy for later in bed, when she was alone.
“Oh, I know.” His tone was smug, and she jerked her head up, eyes wide.
He tilted one shoulder, the arrogant movement sexy as hell. He pointed to the clock on the wall. “For the next three hours, you are mine.”
She bit her lip as her heart raced.
“For work, of course,” he added, clearing his throat, his voice back to normal.
“Yes. Work.” Kiera nodded, feeling her cheeks burn. “Let me log in and I’ll pull up the spreadsheet.”
“Okay, go ahead and get started. I’ll be back in about ten minutes. I need to check on the spanking bench near the storage cabs. Manda said one of the straps isn’t buckling correctly.”
“Ah. Okay. Sounds serious.” She nodded, as if she were an expert on straps and how to fix broken buckles. “Good luck.” But she didn’t move to her desk, not yet.
He chuckled. “I don’t know that I need it, but thanks.” He grinned at her, and she couldn’t stop a huge smile from spreading across her face in return. Maybe if she started teasing him first, she could get him to loosen up a little more around her? It was worth a shot. It was like he wanted to flirt… but maybe wasn’t sure she was into it?
“Well, you need something,” she returned. “I mean, you’re going out there with nothing, not even a screwdriver. Unless you can wave your hands and magically make things right.” She rolled her eyes. But then images of his hands, magic hands, working her body, rose through her mind like a movie. She forced herself to focus.
“Oh, is that so?” He lowered his voice and stepped closer to her.
“It is most definitely so.” She stuck up her chin, feeling her skin tingle from his proximity.
“You’re an expert on tools, then?” He wasn’t touching her, but damn if every last nerve in her body wasn’t firing anyway.
She could barely breathe. He was closer to her than he’d ever been, at least, like this—with that dark, curious sexy look in his eye. She cleared her throat, but her voice came out low. “I read an article called All About Hammers one time, on Facebook. I’d say that makes me more knowledgeable than at least seventy percent of the general population. If you want me to consult, I’m available.”
“Now that,” he said, reaching out and touching her hair, picking up a stray drop of melted snow, “is very. Good. To know.” He pulled his hand away and she wanted to whisper, No, keep touching me, don’t stop.
His eyes locked with hers, and without meaning to, she parted her lips in anticipation. “You mean, my incredible intellect?”
“No. Your penchant for making smart-ass remarks,” he corrected her, but his smile let her know he was enjoying this as much as she was.
“Kiera! Logan! Hi, guys. Oh, my God, it’s so freaking cold out there. I’m dying!” Manda came in on a puff of frigid air, and the street sounds followed her for a second before the ‘employees only’ entrance door slammed shut behind her. “Oh, this mat is already soaked with boot jizz. Gross. It’s all squishy.” She danced up and down on the little carpet. “We should totes replace this with a more absorbent one, don’t you think?”
She shivered, then wrapped her arms around herself before tossing her long coat at the rack. It hung for a second, embracing Kiera’s leather jacket and someone else’s puffy ski coat, before hesitating, then slithering to the floor with a soft sigh. “Shit!” She giggled and grabbed it.
“Manda.” Logan’s voice was dry as he stepped back, away from Kiera. “You’re late… again.”
“Oh, but the bus was behind schedule.” Manda waved her hand as if this explanation were more than sufficient. “Logan, you know I’m having a hard time this week while my car is in the shop. Besides, you said about the weather, we get some leeway.”
“You’re two hours late, though.”
“Shit!” Manda put a hand to her mouth, her blue eyes widening in dismay. She fluffed her light blonde hair. “No way. I was supposed to be here at six? No way!”
“Is she finally here? I’ve been running ragged managing the bar alone.” Michael came in, running one hand through his blond hair, his white t-shirt hugging his muscles. “Oh, here she is. The Prodigal Princess.” His frowned at Manda, although the sexual tension rolled off of him like a wave. “Why am I not surprised that you didn’t answer a single text.”
“Um, maybe because you never texted me?” Manda grabbed her phone. “See?” She waved it at him, then tilted her head. “Oh, wait, what? One sec.” She blinked and tapped. “Ohmigod, why is it on silent? It’s supposed to be on vibrate. I didn’t do that, I swear. It must have reset itself.” She bit her lip as she looked at Michael.
“I think it’s time you and I had a… talk.” Michael gave her a meaningful look. “Please follow me to the office.”
“Am I in trouble?” Manda’s voice, incredulous, rose even higher than usual.
“Well, maybe you can tell me why you told me you’d be here at six p.m. to manage the bar so I could head out to my basketball practice, but now it’s eight, and you’re barely showing up. Or why you got the drink order sheet wrong… again.” He crossed his arms. “And hell, while we’re on the topic of grievances, I’d also like to know why you asked me for a D/s contract, then tore it up the minute I tried to…” He shot a look at Logan and Kiera and trailed off. He cleared his throat. “We’ll talk in private.”
“I was clearly not in my right mind when I asked for that. Maybe it was your horrible strong cologne that was making me woozy. I’d rather quit than get involved with you.” Manda tossed her hair and narrowed her eyes, but to Kiera, it looked more like she wanted to leap onto Michael and ravage him.
“There’s no need to get dramatic.” Michael’s voice was mild. “You don’t need to quit, just do your job. You know that’s not related to anything in the D/s relationship. And if we’re going to talk about excessive perfume…”
Their voices drifted off as they walked down the hallway.
“That was awkward.” Kiera rolled her eyes. “They want each other, right? I’m not the only one who realizes it, am I?” She glanced after them, at the doorway.
Logan smiled. “I think everyone in the universe knows it.”
“I don’t understand why they don’t just… hook up. She plays with other people all the time, doesn’t she?”
Logan was watching her face. “Maybe because with other people it’s just that, play.” He shrugged.
Kiera flushed. “Maybe.”
Logan smiled. “When it comes to Michael, maybe she can’t do that because it seems too intimate.” He shrugged. “They’ll work it out.”
She nodded but didn’t have more to add.
“Well, I’m going to…” He gestured to the door. “Use my fingers to work some magic.”
She swallowed. “Okay. I’ll get the information ready.” Again, her mind was filled with images of his strong hands, those long fingers, working his dark sorcery on her own body. God, he was sexy. The things he could do!
She’d watched him scene a while back, so she knew firsthand. Well, secondhand, but the crazy thing was that while she had stood there, eyes wide, mouth ajar, watching him first spank and then bring to orgasm a willing sub? It had felt like it was her under his hand, that she was the naked woman looking up at him with supplication and stars in her eyes. And when he’d looked at her just once, locked eyes, and smiled, her whole body had tingled with insane energy.
She hadn’t watched him scene since then, though. She was here to work, after all, even though Logan and Michael had told her that working here allowed her a free club membership for the duration of her contract. Sometimes she felt awkward wandering around, watching, since she wasn’t comfortable enough to play in public herself—and probably never would be.
Even though she regularly masturbated to images of Logan’s flashing eyes, his low voice demanding the sub: “Come for me,” she didn’t want to watch him again. It was too—something.
Was she jealous? That didn’t make sense, because they were friends, and barely that; they exchanged pleasantries and conversations, but nothing that had torn apart the clear membrane that separated acquaintances from true friends.
She slid into her desk and brought up the pertinent files.
“Oh, hey, Kiera?” Manda was back, her floral odor following her like an eager puppy.
“Back so soon?” Kiera raised an eyebrow. “Is your butt as pink as your gum yet?”
Manda blew a bubble. “No. I don’t want him anywhere near my ass. There are plenty of other men I can scene with later, after my shift. He’s just a dick.” She waved a hand. “Speaking of work. I need a favor. Oooh, what are you working on? Is it Kinksmas party stuff? Can I see?”
Kiera lowered the laptop lid and tapped it. “Lists and spreadsheets. Nothing exciting.”
“‘Kay.” Manda seemed unconcerned. She pulled up a battered metal folding chair and wrinkled her nose. “Don’t you wish you had your own office here, instead of having to work in this stupid room?”
Kiera laughed. “Trust me, when you’re a consultant, you learn to work in all kinds of environments.”
“Yeah,” Manda agreed. “So, hey, I need you to cover for me for like half an hour. Can you do that?”
Kiera wrinkled her brow. “What do you mean, cover?”
“Like tell Michael and Logan I’m of course still here, if they ask, but maybe in the bathroom, you don’t know where, but I definitely didn’t leave to run to the CVS to get La Croix waters.”
“Manda.” Kiera tried not to roll her eyeballs, but it was a serious effort. “Why do you need La Croix?”
“Because Allesandro likes it, of course.” Manda made a ‘duh’ expression. “You know, that tall dark dom from Italy? The one that makes all the girls drop their panties and go into heat, not even on the DL? He orders lemon or sometimes lime, and I’m supposed to have it for him, stocked, and he’s coming tonight.”
Kiera’s interest had already waned. “So tell him you’ll have it next time, and give him 7-Up instead.”
“Kiera! He doesn’t eat sugar!” Manda acted scandalized. “Please. Nobody drinks stuff with sugar. I can’t even believe you said that.”
“You just got here.” Kiera gave Manda a look. “I think they’ll notice if you disappear immediately.”
“Oh, I know! But Michael said one more mess-up and I’ll be on written warning. I need this job.”
Kiera wanted to say, “So try harder to adult at it, then,” but found it to be too Sisyphean a task to resist Manda’s sweet little manipulative big-eyed face. “Fine. If Michael asks, I won’t specifically offer up that you went to CVS. But I’m not going to flat-out lie.”
“Oh, no, you need to lie.” Manda nodded vigorously. “Flat and out. And then I’ll totally owe you one! You are sooo awesome. I looooove you!” She ducked down and wrapped her arms around Kiera in a sloppy but powerful hug that wrenched Kiera’s neck.
“Okay, ow! Just go, then. Get back quickly.”
“Yay!” Manda grabbed her coat and the door slammed.
Kiera sighed. In the sudden silence, she gave a short laugh, shook her head, and then started working on some of her web design for the club, looking up periodically and saying hi when employees came in or out.
It was far more than fifteen minutes before Logan returned with an armful of mail. “Kiera!” He gave her a grin. “I think this the one you were waiting for?” He came up to her desk and leaned his butt against it, handed her a padded manila envelope.
Sparks flew down her arm as their fingers touched, but she kept her expression even. “Oooh, yeah. It’s the Holiday Heat Crew brochures. The vendor I invited to do a booth at the party? They gave us a stack of flyers and coupons for the custom colorized paddles and canes. See?”
“Holiday colors?” Logan looked bemused as he touched one of the glossy pictures. “Now that’s a pretty kinky definition of candy cane. I like it.”
They laughed together, and Kiera tried not to think about how it would feel to bend over and hear his voice behind her, telling her to spread her legs. Ordering her to stay still.
She cleared her throat. “They make colors for every holiday—Valentine’s, Fourth of July. Also, they customize. They can do colors of your favorite sports team, for example.”
“Aha. So if I had a bet with someone about whose team would make the championship and she lost, I could spank her with a paddle decorated with the winning team’s colors?”
She raised her chin. “If she can bother to care about the colors while you’re spanking her, then you’re doing it wrong… don’t you think?”
His eyes widened, then narrowed in a predatory fashion. He leaned in. “Oh, Kiera, the color of the implement would be the last thing on a woman’s mind, if she ever played with me.” He raised a brow. “And that’s a solemn promise.”
For a second, with his face so close to hers, she almost thought he was going to close the distance and kiss her. She could see the faint laugh wrinkles at the corners of his eyes, the start of five o’clock stubble on his face. His cologne, mixed with the warmth of his body, made her nearly delirious. God! She needed to stop obsessing like this.
He pulled back and cleared his throat. “So, anyway, now that I shared that important piece of information,” he rolled his eyes in a self-deprecating yet confident way that made her smile, “how about that party data?”
She tapped a key to un-sleep her screen. “So here’s the breakdown of registered guests, and food requirements. We have three vegans, two people who need kosher snacks, and one who eats no eggs but can have dairy. I’m on it—got everything covered with the caterer.”
He grabbed the same metal chair that Manda had used and tugged it over, straddled it backwards, and inched it closer. She could feel the heat from his arm next to hers, and from his head, when he bent in to examine the data.
She continued, “And here’s the sheet where I itemized purchases for the party. Decorations, food, etc. Within the original budget. No overages.”
“Great. What do you need from me? Anything? Any glitches or problems?”
She shook her head. “Honestly, I think we’re ready. On the day of the party, we’ll need someone here early at three p.m. to allow the vendors and caterer to set up, and of course stay on site to supervise. Michael and Manda are doing that, along with a few others. And you, right? You’re still coming?”
“Of course I am. Great work.” He smiled at her, and she couldn’t resist grinning back.
“Thanks.” She touched her cheek. “It’s definitely been an adventure, planning this party for you guys.”
“Can I ask you a question?” His voice was earnest.
“Okay?” His tone made her stiffen up a bit. People usually only asked with that tone when they were going to hit you with something big.
He leaned back a little bit, as if to give room for his words. “Is there a reason you don’t play in the club?”
She blinked rapidly. “Ah, is there a reason you need to know?”
He shook his head. “I just want to make sure it’s not something we’re doing… or not doing.” His eyes were dark and focused. “You know, or maybe you don’t, actually. This club had a bad reputation before Tyler took it over. He’s been working hard to make it a safe, fun, inviting place. I want to…” he cleared his throat, “just check and see if the past reputation is a problem for potential new members. That’s all.” He had a stain of red on his jaw.
She touched her cheek again, feeling the warmth. “I didn’t know about that. But, no. It’s not because I wouldn’t feel safe or welcome or anything. This place is very welcoming! I just… I told you when you hired me. I’m not into public stuff. I like kink, but I’m more of a one-on-one person.” Her heart pounded.
He nodded. “I don’t want to make you uncomfortable. It’s just that if there’s anything we can do to make the club more inviting or welcoming, I’d love your input. Any time.”
“Noted.” She dropped her gaze, feeling a little dizzy.
“Okay, well, thank you.” He fell silent.
The tension broke as a group of employees came in from the play floor, laughing. The woman who did general bookkeeping and set up training classes, Lisa, adjusted her silver nipple rings. “Oooh, it’s cold in here! Hey, Kiera. How come you’re not a snowman yet?”
Derek, a popular dom at the club, who did security on his non-play evenings, swatted her ass. “She’d be a snow-woman, Lisa. Please be polite. Let us always strive to recognize a person’s gender correctly.”
“Whatever.” She rolled her eyes at him. “Kiera, are you offended?”
“Highly. When I go home, I’m going to sob for hours and only a box of Godiva chocolates and a bottle of wine will soothe my battered feelings,” Kiera laughed.
“You see? Now I’m just going to have to punish you.” Derek shook his head as if he were truly saddened by this fact. “You need to learn manner somehow, Lees.”
“Oooh, can you do the lesson with that new flogger you got?” Lisa bounced a little. “I’m dying to try that out.” She bent over at a filing cabinet, and Kiera hid a smile to see Derek’s whole body come to attention, watching Lisa. “Found it! I just need to make one quick call and then you can pleasure me, oh wonderful dom.” She waved the folder at Derek.
“You only get to come if you behave,” Derek chided her. “And right now, it’s not looking good for you.” He crossed his arms.
Lisa gave him a dramatic scowl.
“Of course,” he added, putting his hands up in a ‘hey, don’t shoot the messenger’ pose, “there’s still time for you to show your dedication to following my rules.” He smirked. “I can think of a way for you to earn back your pleasure.”
“I’m all ears.” Lisa sidled up to him and ran a hand up his ripped biceps.
“That’s not the body part I’m talking about. Come.” He flicked one nipple with his thumb, making Lisa squeak and jump. “I’ll hold the folder. You? Crawl. Now.” He raised his eyebrows and pointed to the floor.
Lisa’s eyes widened. “But…”
“What part of now is confusing? If I count to three and you’re not down, you’re definitely not coming tonight, my girl.” Derek’s growl, although sexy, was determined.
Kiera was fascinated to watch as Lisa immediately handed him the folder and got to her hands and knees, ignoring the slushy droplets of boot melt. “Yes, Sir.” Her voice was demure, but when she shot a glance at Kiera, she winked quickly and grinned before putting her head back down.
Oh, yes, it was clear that Lisa didn’t mind crawling for her sexy, handsome dom. And Kiera was one hundred percent sure that Lisa would be coming soon, and often, and spectacularly. She’d heard rumors about how great Derek was.
Michael popped his head in. “Manda disappeared… again.” He scowled. “Anyone seen her? She didn’t take off, did she?” He glanced to the coat rack. “She was just. Right. Here.” He made a growl of irritation.
Logan looked like he was about to say something, but Kiera beat him to it. “Ah, she was headed to the restroom earlier. You know how horrible it is to get an upset stomach.” She made a mock grimace.
Michael sighed. “If you see her, tell her I need her right away, okay?” He headed back out toward the hall.
Logan narrowed his eyes at Kiera, but didn’t speak. He just smiled and walked out of the room.
The hours flew by, and before she knew it, Logan stood in front of her, a speculative look on his face. “Kiera?”
“Oh! Hey. Hi. I’m just finishing up a menu system.”
“The club is officially closed to guests and it’s staff cleanup time.”
“Oh, wow. The time flew by.” She sat up and twisted her neck. “I got a lot done.”
“Quick question—the music selection?”
“Yes. Here.” She opened the file and pointed at the screen. “Want to see?”
He came and stood over her shoulder, scanned for a second. “If you can just make sure that there’s no country music or death metal—last time Hank made the playlist, and almost nobody was happy. We want sexy, but also some lighter stuff.”
“Oh, you want something lighthearted?” She smiled. “Because I’m sure most people, when they hear a T Swizz song, they absolutely think about handcuffs.”
He leaned in. “It could definitely be argued that to some people, pop music is the highest form of torture. And, we don’t want our clientele to hurt… in ways they don’t love.” His breath on her neck made her dizzy. She wanted him to come closer, to put his mouth onto her skin—bite her, suck her, mark her with his teeth and lips, then strip her naked and take her hard.
“So true. I’ll scrutinize the playlist most carefully.” She nodded, a person focused on music and not how badly she wanted to fuck her sexy, kinky boss in ways that would make the average person blush and hide.
“See that you do, or else…” He broke off. Did his face look a little flushed?
“Or else?” She let her voice go up, waiting. Her heart pounded. It almost sounded like he was automatically going to finish that sentence with something like, “Or else I’ll have to take you over my knee and give you a good hard spanking.”
“Or else we’ll have a big crowd of musically unmotivated people,” he finished, and it felt wrong, incomplete. His eyes flashed.
“I feel like you were going to say something else,” she said, trying to tease him into spitting it out. “Maybe you’d buy me a pair of Beats headphones so I could listen more easily? Oh, I know!” She snapped her fingers. “Get me those elusive ten thousand dollar tickets to an Adele concert to help me grow my musical tastes, and take me there in a limo with champagne?” She raised an eyebrow and licked her bottom lip. “Am I getting closer?” She smiled at him and then bit her bottom lip, sucking it deliberately.
“No, you’re not,” he answered, his voice low and silky. Something in his posture changed at her words; his entire stance became more predatory. It was like she’d flipped a switch inside him, and now he was turning into the alpha dom she desired, right in front of her eyes.
Was this all it took? Being a sexy tease? “I’m channeling my inner Mozart as we speak,” she replied, flexing her fingers. “With a dash of Kongos, and some Rihanna, and a touch of Despacito. You know you love the Biebs. Right?”
“You put Justin Bieber in there and I swear, Kiera, you won’t sit comfortably all day tomorrow,” he warned almost automatically, his voice deep and sexy, the kind of threat that made her stomach flip and her whole body tense with energy. This. She wanted this. Finally! She’d gotten him to say it!
“Why would I not?” she asked, opening her eyes wide, so innocent. “Oh, are you getting me one of those new standing desks? You really shouldn’t. You’re too good to me! Thank you for caring about my health and posture and fitness, even in the midst of party planning. Best. Boss. Ever.” She gave him an angelic smile.
Touch me. Do it. Touch me. She pleaded with her eyes, and even leaned forward and tilted her head. How could he not see her desire?
He stared at her for a long second, as if trying to figure something out, then a small smile hovered on his lips. He raised his eyebrows, a question. She gave the most imperceptible nod ever, a tiny incline of her head, but as soon as she did it, his entire expression changed.
He laughed and reached out as if he were unable to hold back, put his hand onto her cheek. His touch was firm and warm and she sucked in a breath, the sound audible, at first contact. He smiled at her reaction, a victorious smile. “You know that’s not what I meant, Kiera.”