He smiled. “You can learn as you go. We’re a BDSM club, formally, but on the premises we engage mainly in bondage and impact play. On their own time, some of our members enjoy knife play, fire, wax, and other exotic pleasures, but not within these walls. The reason we asked you to fill out the membership application with information about financial status and education and health is to ensure that we’re accepting people that maintain a certain lifestyle.”
“That sounds snobby.”
He shrugged. “Not intentionally. This isn’t a place for gold-diggers to meet millionaires. It’s a place for like-minded sophisticated people to socialize with others who appreciate their kink. We find that our limited membership has served us well.”
“It just seems—never mind.” Casey flushed. She wasn’t even in the doors yet.
“What? You can say what’s on your mind.”
“Fine, then I will. By limiting your guests based on how much money they have? You’re engaging in a very elitist way of filtering, and you’re most definitely missing out on some undiscovered gems. Some people with inherited wealth may be lazy and entitled, while some hard-working people on their way up might have the values of integrity and grit that make society run.” People like me, she thought uneasily, on the days when I’m not impersonating someone else.
And what the hell? Kelsie and the real Sofia, although probably deeper and more interesting than they’d seemed in the coffee shop—everyone had depth, after all—were both products of wealthy families. There was no way someone just out of college, even an aspiring model, could be wealthy enough to meet the criteria of this club without a trust fund or a Daddy-Please bank account.
He raised an eyebrow. “I assure you that if we happened to meet Cinderella, resplendent in her rags, we’d not turn her away because of her lack of a fortune.”
“But how would you recognize her without a tiara?” she argued. “The fact is that you’re only looking for princesses.” She put her hand to her mouth. “I didn’t intend to argue with you. Please forgive me. I’m—I’m excited and nervous to be here, and I said more than I intended.”
“Then come in and see what you think.”
When Hunter opened the second set of doors, Casey was overwhelmed by the scene in front of her. The room was vast and ornate, with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the sparkling city lights far below. More artwork, more chandeliers, expensive glass decorations, and furniture that defied price—but it was the people who shone. Every man was dressed in a tuxedo, and each seemed more handsome and rugged than the next. Some women were in evening gowns, tall, slim, elegant, glittering with jewels that flashed on their elegant fingers and perfect lobes. Other women were in heels and lingerie, wisps of silk and lace adorning their lithe bodies as they swayed across the room. Some people were entirely naked.
Clusters of guests gathered in small grouping, laughing, drinking glasses of champagne, but others were engaged in decidedly more carnal endeavors. On a nearby chaise covered with a luxurious throw, a man was fucking a woman. There was nothing especially kinky about their position, which was standard missionary, of a sort, but the beauty of their two bodies together—his muscular torso, his perfect ass and thighs, the movements he made as he thrust into her eager body, over and over again, his grunts and her sighs—was so immediately erotic that Casey stopped short, staring.
The woman’s head was thrown back in ecstasy, and she cried out. A fine sheen of sweat adorned the man’s back, and Casey wanted to run her hands over his body, his sculpted muscles, his perfect form. And as the two of them reached bliss at the same time, their joined cries rang out into the room, filling the air with the unmistakable sounds of passion. The juxtaposition of this X-rated scene right against the cluster of people in elegant evening wear, some of them watching, some of them completely involved in their own conversation, so intrigued Casey that she could barely catch her breath.
“Just right in front of everyone,” she murmured, her fingers digging into Hunter’s arm.
“Yes,” he agreed. “As they wish it.”
He led her through a passageway into a smaller room, where a man was fastening a naked woman to a spanking bench, and speaking to her in Italian. Casey didn’t understand the words, but the gestures and air of command in the man’s voice was clear without translation. And when the woman nodded and acquiesced, positioning her long limbs over the bench so that her sex was visible to anyone entering the room, Casey felt an unmistakable surge of moisture between her own legs.
The man slapped the woman’s ass, making her toned cheeks indent and bounce back. She hissed in reaction, and Casey stepped closer. The man spanked his partner over and over, keeping an even rhythm, a steady barrage of slaps that echoed in the room and into Casey’s body, until she seemed to feel each blow with a matching tingle in her nipples and clit. When the woman began to cry out in pain at each blow, when her ass turned pink and then red, Casey tugged at Hunter’s arm. “Is she—is it okay?” she whispered in some alarm, even though she was embarrassingly aroused.
Hunter pulled her back to the doorway and put his mouth to her ear. “Yes. She is. She has agreed to submit to him, Sofia, and she will take what he gives, even if it’s painful. It’s part of their relationship. They’re a long-term couple who come here to play.”
“But if she says the safeword, he’ll stop? Sir?” Casey tacked on the ‘Sir’ as an afterthought, still watching the couple.
Hunter hesitated. “These two have a different agreement,” he answered, his voice even. “She does not have a safeword with her master, so she will never use one.”
“But how can that be? You said everyone had the right.” Casey’s voice rose, and he guided her to a nearby alcove.
“Sit,” he told her, gesturing at a chair, and when Casey sat, he pulled up another one and set it close, so that their knees were touching. “Sofia. Yes, if she happened to use the club safeword, he would stop, or we would make him stop. However, she never will. They have what is called a consensual non-consent relationship. That means that she agrees that he can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants, and he won’t stop until he wants.”
“That can’t be legal.” Casey stiffened and tried to rise, but Hunter held her hands. “Shh. Listen. Look at my eyes, yes? Listen.” When she settled back down, he continued, “It’s not the first thing I would have shown you, but here they are, so here we start. The only reason she can agree to that with him is because she knows him so well, trusts him so completely, that giving her ultimate consent is safe. She knows he will never truly harm her. And she’s a masochist, Sofia; she likes the pain.”
He gestured back to the room. The woman was crying out, struggling, begging. “Stop!” she wailed. “Please, just stop.” But the man didn’t stop; instead, he picked up a paddle and began to use it on her ass.
Casey jumped to her feet. “She wants to stop, Hunter! Somebody needs to go in there.”
Hunter grabbed Casey from behind with both arms, restrained her. “No. We will not. This is their right. You’ll see.”
When the man finally stopped, Casey had tears in her eyes, and her own muscles felt tight and trembled with the exertion of pushing against Hunter’s grip. But he whispered into her ear, “Watch now.”
The man unfastened the woman, unfolded her from the bench, and enveloped her into his arms. She pressed her body into his, writhing and contorting on his lap, and then the two of them were kissing, scrabbling at each other’s bodies, nearly attacking each other in their exuberance. They moved to a nearby couch and began to fuck like animals, raw and emotional and soul-bearing, both of them crying now, the man’s eyes as wet as the woman’s, still kissing when their motions allowed it, crying out to each other in strange vocal gasps and sighs.
“Come,” the man urged his woman. “Come for me, Amara.” Amara screamed, a high wail of passion and her body bucked and froze, unlocked and twitched, and her orgasm went on so long that Casey couldn’t even comprehend how a human body could allow such a thing. When the first orgasm seemed done, the man demanded, “A second time,” and the woman screamed and tossed her head back, hands fisting her own hair, and howled out her passion, coming and coming without end, an ocean wave of pleasure, and something about the whole scene made Casey suddenly crave to be the one lying there in the throes of such passion, feeling the mixture of pain and incredible bliss. She put her hand over her mouth, eyes wide, then turned to Hunter.
She shook her head in wonder, and it was obvious that the passion of the couple affected him, too, because he pulled her close and pressed a hot kiss to her forehead before letting her go, leaving her suddenly bereft, missing his touch.
“It’s what she craves,” he murmured. “It’s the thing she desires most in the world, to be mastered and brought to pleasure like that.”
“It’s incredible.” Casey couldn’t stop staring.
Hunter turned her face to his. “Look at me, please, Sofia. Do you understand now why I didn’t stop them? Do you see that she wanted it all along, even when she didn’t want it?”
“It’s so—it’s right on the fine line between acceptable and not. I don’t know how to understand it. I can see that she wanted it, afterwards. But what if she hadn’t? What if this was the one time she really did want him to stop, but she can’t make him stop? I mean, I know a lot of people like to say, oh, stop, stop, and they don’t really mean it. And that’s why they have a safeword in place, just in case. But she doesn’t have one. That’s so scary to me.” Casey twined her fingers together.
Hunter nodded. “It’s a rare couple who can do that without repercussions. You shouldn’t try that yet, if ever. If anyone asks, say no. It’s for people who know each other intimately and have significant trust.”
Casey nodded, trying to figure it out.
“Answer me this. Did it arouse you, to watch them?” Hunter’s gaze was direct. “Sofia?”
She glanced away. “I don’t know.”
“Yes, you do. Tell me.”
“All right. It aroused me, and it angered me, both at the same time. Do you do that?” She raised her shoulder in their direction. “Is that what you want from a woman?” Her voice rose.
“Not in casual play.” His voice was even. “But someday, yes. With the right person.”
“I think that’s a little messed up.”
She shook her head, staring at the couple.
His voice was disapproving. “Look at me when I address you. Don’t forget the Sir. I’m giving you a grace period because you’re new, but that won’t last long. If you don’t obey, I’ll discipline you.”
She shot her eyes to his. “Sir?”
He smiled. “I told you about the proper address, yes? The proper behavior? You’ll be expected to address each master as Sir or Mistress, once you learn who they are. You will be polite and respectful, as long as you are treated as such yourself. If a master disciplines you, you are to accept it.”
“But what if they are being creepy or mean about it? Sir?” Casey asked, feeling her stomach lurch. She wouldn’t mind being chastised by Hunter. But another man? That didn’t feel right.
“They won’t,” he said.
“But how would it work? Sir?” She felt confused, unsure about what to say or do.
“All right. Like this.” He stood up in front of her and his face became stern. “Sofia. Kneel in front of me, please. Right now.” He paused. “Now you do it and say yes, Sir, and lower your eyes until the next command. If you don’t want to do this, you are free to leave at any time.”
She nodded and fumbled, got to her knees. It was awkward; she didn’t know how to positon herself, but she mumbled “Yes, Sir,” and lowered her eyes. Her whole body filled with butterflies. This was one of her fantasies—kneeling for a sexy man, not sure what he’d ask. God.
“Very nice,” he said. “Now look at me. Good. Stand up, then turn around and bend over, and place your hands on that chair.”
Casey gasped. “What are you going—”
Feeling her heart pound out of her chest, Casey slowly got up and turned, looked back over her shoulder at him. “I’m scared,” she begged, feeling her eyes tear up. She wanted something, but she wasn’t sure this was it.
“Eyes forward,” he said in a low voice. “Bend and grab the sides of the chair with both hands. Spread your legs.”
“You won’t hurt me?” Her voice held a tremor as she turned away from him, bent to hold the chair. She spread her legs, feeling the air brush against the gusset of her panties, which was so moist she could smell her own arousal.
“I’m going to touch you,” he informed her, his voice rolling over her like a touch itself. “All right?”
“Yes, okay,” she gasped, expecting to feel a crack across her ass. She tensed, waiting for the strike.
In answer, he stepped forward and ran his hand over her back, coming to rest on her ass. He rubbed, then stepped back. “Get up now.”
She shot to her feet, face red, unsure of what was happening. “That’s—it? You’re not going to… sp-spank me?” She wasn’t sure which feeling was stronger, relief or disappointment.
He laughed, and his green eyes lit up, the planes of his face softened. “No. I was just asking for a show of obedience. Thank you for your submission.” He nodded his head at her, and something in his gaze was serious, respectful. Casey caught her breath, caught up in the spell.
“You’re welcome,” she breathed. “Sir.”
He touched her cheek. “This isn’t a place for gratuitous pain, Sofia. If you want pain, you’ll ask for it. Remember, consent is the key here, and desire. If I ask you to demonstrate your obedience, it’s to help get you in the right mindset to enjoy what we have to offer. I promise, we’re refined enough to understand how best to play this game. It’s as much in the mind as anywhere else.”
His smile was wicked and dark and Casey knew that it was disappointment she felt. She wanted him to bend her over, pull up her skirt, spank her. She wanted that broad palm across her ass, over and over. She wanted to squirm under his ministrations, beg him to stop, to continue; wanted him to bring her to ecstasy. He was playing her, controlling her desires with his words, his restraint. She’d never known how powerful and persuasive it was to hear “no” when you expected “yes.”
“Come with me,” he ordered, offering her his hand. “There are some people you need to meet to make sure you wish to stay.” She gave her hand without question, murmuring “Yes, Sir,” as she did, and was rewarded with a brilliant smile. She felt that she’d kneel as long as he asked, present her ass without question, if it meant earning another of those heart-melting smiles. She could see a dimple in his cheek. She liked the way the sides of his eyes crinkled.
They approached a man and woman, both of whom stood with an air of authority. Hunter nodded and said, “This is… Sofia. Our newest member.” He turned to Sofia, his face serious. “Sofia, remember the lesson about obedience? It will be required of you. Do as Mistress Alexa asks.” He waited until Casey inclined her head before he stepped out of her line of sight.
The man and woman appraised her, and the woman spoke. “I’m Alexa. Mistress Alexa. Welcome to Dominion, Sofia.”
“Yes, thank you. It’s nice to meet you, Mistress,” replied Casey, remembering she needed to address the masters with their titles.
“And I’m Max Abbott,” said the man, his voice rich and smooth.
Casey nodded. “Yes, Sir,” she said.
He had the most compelling blue eyes. She wasn’t sure if she should offer to shake hands, and the question was answered when the woman cleared her throat and spoke. “Sofia,” she said, “please lift your skirt and show me your panties.”
“What? Mistress, I mean, I’m sorry?” Casey’s face suffused with heat. She turned, looked for Hunter, found him and gave him a pleading look. But Hunter nodded at her, his expression serious, almost concerned.
“I—I…” Casey glanced around. A few people had gathered. A woman wearing nothing but cuffs stood next to a man, their faces interested. A few men and women in evening wear stepped closer. She felt hemmed in.
“Sofia,” Alexa said. “I don’t make requests more than once.” Then she raised her voice. “Dominion, we have a new member, and it is time for her introduction. You are welcome to watch.”
Casey’s chest lurched. The faces around her were not unkind; nobody laughed. She thought she saw empathy. One woman nodded at her and winked, and Casey felt a surge of gratitude.
She took a shuddering breath and whispered, “Yes, Mistress.” Her palms were sweaty, but she took the sides of her dress and shimmied it up her body until it bunched around her waist, leaving her flat belly and thighs exposed. She was glad that she’d waxed, and even more grateful that she’d splurged on the fancy black G-string. At least she’d look sexy in front of these people. Her face burned and she didn’t know where to look. It was all fine and good to talk about the sanctity of identity, but she’d never been more exposed. She was on display, and she didn’t know anyone here, and Hunter—her only guide—had fallen back.
She was on the edge; she could yank down her skirt and run from this place, and she knew nobody would stop her. She could stay and keep doing this, go where it led. Maybe Alexa saw that struggle, because she stepped forward and her voice was kind. “Very nice, Sofia.” But what she said next shot arrows of doubt into Casey’s heart: “Now I want you to take off your dress and your lingerie, and stand before me naked.”
“I—I can’t.” Casey felt tears come to her eyes. Why couldn’t she just walk around, invisible?
“If you can’t, that’s perfectly all right. Max can escort you to the exit and call you a cab to get you safely home. We have a private driver, too, if you prefer.”
Max smiled, and she tried to smile back, but her mouth trembled. “It’s all right,” he whispered, and then he reached out his hand. “We’ll take care of you, I promise. Nothing bad.”
She stepped toward him and he took her hand, and the relief at the supportive touch made her want to cry. “You promise?” Her voice shook.
“Yes.” And this was ridiculous, because they had literally just met, but she trusted him. Something about his gaze, the set of his jaw, the way he held his broad shoulders, the lines of his face and body—something about the whole was so much more than the sum of the parts. His essence told her that he was kind and careful as well as sexy, and she knew that it really would be all right. But it was still terrifying.
A laugh from across the room caught her ear; not everyone was watching. Casey’s scan found some people engaged in a private, hushed conversation. Another couple kissed in a corner, the man’s hands roaming over the woman’s body. A pair of naked women strolled across the room, gave her a spare glance, then turned back to each other. But even so, there were enough interested people here to make her wish to disappear.
She wanted to see Hunter’s face. But then the thought of him seeing her naked like this made her more anxious. She scanned the crowd, and the woman who had winked nodded her head and mouthed something. It’s okay.
A choice was needed, and the thought occurred: Why not? If privacy was guaranteed? If this was the entrance fee to stay here and look into Hunter’s eyes, to learn more about the world he inhabited? You only live once.
With a surge of bravery, she pulled up the dress, careful to avoid messing up her hair, and tossed it aside. With as much grace as she could muster, she stepped out of her G-string and dropped it on top of the dress. Then she stood as tall as she could and stuck up her chin, and looked Alexa right in the eye. Her whole body coursed with a crazy nervous energy, but she didn’t flinch.
“May I touch you?” Alexa’s voice was polite, and Casey nodded, words strangled in her throat.
Alexa took her shoulders and turned her so that Casey was facing the room. She saw Hunter, then, standing back. When his eyes met hers, she saw something spark in them, something dark and avaricious, and a muscle clenched in his jaw. He made a fist and relaxed it, and Casey wondered what he was thinking.
“Sofia, drop your arms to your sides and spread your legs, please,” Alexa said, her pleasant voice a command, and Casey did it, even though she couldn’t look at anyone anymore.
“Turn around, please, Sofia. A full circle. Let everyone see your body.”
She couldn’t believe she was doing it, but her feet moved, she didn’t fall, and she circled. Why were they making her do this? What was the point? She felt like crying, but held the tears back. The expression in Max’s face was her anchor, keeping her steady.
“Dominion, this is Sofia.” Alexa’s voice was even but carried, and everyone turned to look. “She is now a member of our community and is to be treated with the full respect and dignity of every other member. You are to welcome her and make her feel at home. Nobody will touch her without permission. Today she is here just to look and learn. Now please look at her and appreciate how beautiful she is, how courageous, to come here and show herself to us. Applaud for her, Dominion. She will never again appear before you this way unless she chooses it, so take this chance to let her know how lovely she is.”
To her astonishment, Max started clapping, a woman joined, and then the whole room applauded. Casey’s eyes swam with embarrassment, fear, and pride. All of these people were clapping for her—standing here naked. She saw nothing resembling mockery—the faces in the crowd held fascination, enjoyment, and pleasure. Her courage came back, little by little, until she was able to smile. When the applause didn’t stop, she felt pride, gratitude, and even enjoyment. This was the most surreal experience of her life, even if it was a mixture of a fantasy and a nightmare, and she was caught up in the swell of the moment.
When the applause died, Alexa nodded. The crowd dispersed, and Max appeared at her shoulder. “You may dress again, if you wish. You do not need to.”
Casey nodded. “I’ll get dressed,” she stammered, her head spinning with the oddness and immensity of the experience. Where was Hunter? Surely he knew how overwhelmed she felt at this moment? She made a small noise, unable to find him.
Max stooped down to his knees and offered the clothes up to her. Casey clutched them, unsure of his intentions, but he just smiled. “So brave,” he complimented her. “Welcome to Dominion. It only gets easier.”
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