Evie Lloyd smiled happily as she basked in the electrifying atmosphere buzzing around her. Below, thousands of adoring fans sang along to the stomping anthem being performed by the band on the distant stage. Normally she’d be one of the sweaty bodies trying to avoid being crushed in the crazed mosh pit, but not tonight. Tonight she was in a private VIP suite sipping champagne while enjoying a privileged view of the concert. The music was loud, the crowd ecstatic and the beat pulsed as the deep bass shook the floor of the massive arena.
She turned in her seat and glanced behind her. Some of the other VIP guests were mingling, not taking the slightest bit of notice of the concert, while others danced in the small space between the seats and the bar at the far end. The suite was large enough to accommodate about twenty people, with one end opening out to the arena. This had several rows of seats where the guests could sit comfortably and watch the event while being waited on hand and foot. Evie smiled. She could get used to this.
“So, are you coming to the wrap party?” She could only just hear the question over the noise of the music and crowd. Christina, her best friend, had been trying to convince her all evening to come along to the nightclub in central London where Decadence would be celebrating the end of their European tour after tonight’s gig. But arrogant rock stars and their tarty groupies were so not her thing.
She shook her head and shouted her reply. “No thanks.”
“Oh, go on,” coaxed Christina, giving her a friendly nudge.
Before she could reply a waiter appeared and filled their glasses with more sparkling champagne, then offered a platter of tempting canapés. Picking up a smoked salmon blini, Evie decided to change the subject.
“Thanks for inviting me to the gig tonight. I hadn’t realized the offer of a free ticket included this VIP suite as well.”
Christina grinned. “It’s cool, isn’t it? Aaron, the lead guitarist, is a friend of Marco’s. Apparently they used to be in a band together years ago. Anyway, it was Aaron who arranged this for Marco and his guests.”
Marco was Christina’s Dom and trainer. He owned an exclusive BDSM hotel and club in Kent that was rumored to have the best dungeons in the country. According to Christina, Marco had taken pity on her when her moody boyfriend had dumped her and left her on her own at a beginner’s BDSM weekend at the hotel. Marco and Christina weren’t romantically involved, though, and Evie had wondered a couple of times if her friend liked him more than he liked her. She hoped not, because she’d hate for Christina to get hurt.
“Aaron is sexy, don’t you think?” shouted Christina.
Evie nodded. Yes, he was actually. He was by far the best-looking member of the band, although the lead singer, Hunter, usually stole the limelight. Aaron was tall, really tall, and built like a tank. In the band’s videos, his strong muscles rippled across his broad chest and shoulders as the camera zoomed in on him. His long dark-brown hair was his trademark, along with the impressive tattooed sleeve that covered almost the whole of his right arm.
Christina nudged her again. “He’s a Dom, you know,” she said in a raised voice.
“Really?” Evie studied the tall guitarist on the stage below more closely. She wasn’t at all surprised. Aaron Holmes screamed ‘Dom’. From his powerful stance to his dark, authoritative eyes, Evie had no problems imagining him with a submissive kneeling at his feet. Mmm, now that’s a sexy thought. She wasn’t about to let Christina in on that little fantasy, though, because her friend was notorious for matchmaking. The last thing she wanted was to be faced with the humiliation of being rejected by someone like Aaron Holmes.
Rock stars went for rock chicks—beautiful, skinny and glamorous. She was none of those things. She didn’t have an inferiority complex, but she was realistic enough to know that her tall, curvy figure, unruly, wavy hair that turned frizzy in the rain and paler-than-pale skin weren’t what rock stars went for.
And, anyway, she couldn’t stand arrogant men, and everyone knew that people in the music industry were far too full of their own self-importance to carry their fame with dignity. No, the last thing she needed was for Christina to start meddling in her non-existent love life with that lot. Another change of subject was called for.
“So, how’s it going with Marco?” The current song was building to a crescendo and she could hardly hear herself speak over the noise.
Christina frowned and leaned closer. “Pardon?”
“Marco,” she shouted. “How’s it going?” As she spoke, the heavy song finished to rapturous applause.
When the cheers had died down and the opening chords of a softer, quieter song started, Christina shouted back, “Really well. He says I’m a natural submissive, albeit a bratty one.”
Evie laughed. Now why didn’t that surprise her? Christina would have to be pretty brave to want to be trained by Marco Alessi. He’d been a well-known singer once and still looked every bit the rebellious rocker. Although his black hair wasn’t as long as Aaron’s, it was still wild and untamed, and his tribal tattoos revealed a darker side to his character. And those eyes. He had the blackest eyes she’d ever seen, set in a rugged, stubble-covered face. He wasn’t classically handsome, but he had charisma by the bucketload and Evie could well understand why Christina was so taken with him.
“He’s a bit scary, don’t you think?”
“Scary? Nah, Marco’s a pussycat,” said Christina with a casual wave of her hand.
“Am I, now?” A deep voice over their shoulders made them turn around.
Neither of them had known that Marco had sat down behind them and they both jumped when he spoke. Evie realized that, even over the sound of the music, it had been clear what, and who, they’d been talking about.
Evie grinned as she watched the flush on Christina’s face drain away. Pussycat? Yeah, right.
Marco reached forward, took a handful of Christina’s hair and tugged. When her head was tilted back far enough that she could look up into Marco’s face, he growled, “Pussycat, eh? I’ll show you who’s the pussycat later, kitten.”
Christina grinned up at him and giggled. “Yes, Sir.”
As Marco effortlessly exerted his command over Christina, something stirred deep inside Evie. A memory of having her hair pulled just like that made little butterflies tingle in her belly. She recalled how good it had felt to surrender to a Dom. It had been nearly two years since she’d last done that. Was she envious of Christina? Maybe.
Marco let go of Christina’s hair, his expression becoming serious. “Listen, there’s been a change of plan,” he said, his deep voice easily carrying over the music. “The wrap party is going to be held at Dominion now.”
“Why?” asked Christina.
“Security reasons.” Marco’s expression was grim and he didn’t elaborate any further.
“Evie,” exclaimed Christina, “why don’t you come with us, then? You said yourself how much you’d love to go to Dominion. Well, now’s your chance.”
“You’re more than welcome to come,” added Marco with a warm smile. “You can come in our car and of course you can stay over if you wish. We’ve got plenty of rooms.”
“Well…” Evie faltered. Although the idea of mingling with rock stars didn’t appeal to her, the possibility of going somewhere like Dominion was too good to miss. She might not get another chance. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt…
Christina must have sensed her hesitation, because she put her arm around Evie’s shoulder and said, “You’re coming, end of discussion.”
“God, you’re bossy,” groaned Evie, although she was secretly glad that she’d had the decision made for her. If left to decide herself, she might have insisted on going home to her empty flat for another lonely night. A visit to an exclusive hotel, which just happened to be renowned for its impressive dungeons, was far more exciting. And maybe she could ask one of the Dungeon Monitors to top her? It had been a long time since she’d last felt the kiss of a flogger.
She grinned back at Christina and nodded her agreement.
Christina squealed gleefully and threw her arms around her. “Yay! If you’re lucky, Ross or Andre might be there,” she said, with a conspiratorial wink.
When Evie looked blank, Christina rolled her eyes and added, “They’re long-time members and help out regularly as DMs. They’re both shit-hot Doms and I’m sure they’d be more than happy to give you a good seeing to.”
Evie laughed. “I’m not that desperate, you know. Just keep me away from those musicians and I’ll be fine.”
Their conversation ended abruptly when the crowd exploded with cheers as the band finished their song. The whole arena shook as feet stomped and ‘Decadence’ was chanted by the adoring fans. The band ran off the stage, leaving the audience wild with cries for their return, and when they did reappear, the roar was deafening.
“Thank you, London,” Hunter called and waved. “Here’s our last song of the night and it’s dedicated to all you fucking awesome people out there. Goodnight.”
As the band launched into their final number, Evie’s eyes were drawn to Aaron, strutting around the stage as if he owned it while playing a catchy guitar riff. God, he was hot. Even from the vast distance to the stage, she was aware of his black leather trousers clinging to his muscular thighs. He was wearing New Rock boots—big, heavy and sexy as hell. Oh, to kneel in front of those boots. Evie shook her head to rid herself of the thought. No, she was definitely not going to harbor any secret dreams about Aaron Holmes. She might very well get to meet him later and she’d be damned if she was going to make a fool of herself by acting like a gushing fan ready to throw herself at his feet.
“Okay, ladies,” said Marco, leaning over the row of seats behind them. “We need to make our way backstage before the mass exodus at the end of the gig.”
As Evie rose and followed Christina toward the exit, she couldn’t help but turn and glance back at the band one more time. Her stomach flipped at the realization that she was going to be partying with them in a private club. Then she gritted her teeth when she envisioned them flaunting a carefully selected bunch of groupies. No, she would absolutely not have anything to do with those guys tonight.
* * * *
“Hey, Kev, go and get those little tarts at the front of the stage. One of them flashed her fucking tits at me. She’s fucking gagging for it.”
The crude words were the first thing to greet them as Evie, Christina and Marco pushed open the door to the green room backstage. Evie frowned. How vulgar. Her opinion of rock stars sank to an all-time low and she briefly regretted her decision to come to the wrap party. But Christina had told her on the way down that, as far as she was aware, the only member of the band who was into BDSM was Aaron. Hopefully, then, the other band members would stay away from the dungeon while they fucked their groupies somewhere else.
A bodyguard, or whatever he was, nodded at the drummer and left the room with a sleazy grin on his face. Maybe it wasn’t just the musicians who got to use the groupies.
They’d barely stepped into the room when Marco’s phone rang and, as he answered it, Evie and Christina waited near the door where the drummer was chatting to the keyboard player.
“That’s Jaymz, spelt J-A-Y-M-Z,” whispered Christina, scowling at the obnoxious-looking drummer. “He thinks that changing the spelling of his name makes him more irresistible to the fans. He’s a pretentious git,” she snarled. “The other prick with him is Jona, the keyboard player.”
Evie smiled. It seemed she wasn’t the only one with a distaste for uncouth rock stars.
“Are we gonna take ‘em back to the party?” asked Jona, before downing the best part of a whole bottle of beer.
Jaymz pulled the ring on a can of cider and sneered. “Yeah, although it’s now gonna be at some fucking kinky shithole in the middle of fucking nowhere.”
“Well, in that case we’d better make sure we bring plenty of chicks to last the night then,” said Jona. He belched loudly then grinned. “We can always tie ’em up to stop ’em from escaping.”
Jaymz laughed as he shook his head. “Nah, I’m not into that kinky shit, man. I just wanna spread their little legs and shag ’em, one by fucking one.”
“What a couple of dickheads,” growled Christina, scowling openly at them.
“Yeah.” Evie glared at the two assholes and sighed. This was going to be a long night.
To distract herself from the obnoxious musicians, she decided to take in her surroundings. There were about fifteen or so people all standing chatting among discarded clothes and various music paraphernalia. To their right the bass player chatted to a well-dressed man and in the far corner Aaron Holmes and Mike Hunt, or Hunter as he was known, were talking to a beautiful, petite, dark-haired woman. She was the epitome of the type of woman Evie imagined rock stars would go for. Everything she wasn’t. She wondered for a brief moment if she was Aaron’s girlfriend. She didn’t follow the band’s personal lives and had no idea of their romantic involvements.
Christina must have seen where she was looking because she whispered, “That’s Fabiana, Hunter’s wife. She’s really nice.”
“Oh.” For some bizarre reason, Evie was ridiculously relieved to hear that the woman wasn’t Aaron’s wife or girlfriend, but the thought was soon quashed when she reminded herself that she could never be in that kind of league anyway.
Marco finished his call and turned back to her and Christina.
“Sorry about that,” he said, glancing around the room. “Just checking with Cleo that we can accommodate the party without too much disruption to the regular members. Come on.”
He took a light hold of Christina’s arm and began to lead them across the room toward Aaron and Hunter. “Who’s Cleo?” whispered Evie.
“She’s the house Domina and runs Dominion with a rod of steel,” answered Christina with a giggle. “She’s also my other trainer. If you thought Marco was scary then just wait until you meet Cleo.”
As they neared Aaron and Hunter, Evie seemed to shrink as her gaze drew upward. Aaron Holmes was even taller in real life than he appeared on stage. Hunter was a whole head shorter than his bandmate, and he wasn’t exactly short.
She watched in silence as the musicians greeted Marco with friendly handshakes. Christina gave Fabiana, Hunter and Aaron a friendly hug then turned to Evie.
“This is my friend, Evie Lloyd. She’s coming with us to the wrap party tonight, although she took a bit of persuading.”
Both Fabiana and Hunter greeted her warmly before Aaron turned his dark eyes on her. Suddenly her world stood still. She was trapped, powerless to look away as he held her prisoner with his omnipotent gaze.
“Well, hello,” he said, in a deep, rich voice. “It’s nice to meet you, Evie.”
Somehow she managed to drag herself out of the hypnotic trance he’d put her in and attempted to fix a detached expression onto her face.
“Hi,” she replied, trying to look as casual as she could. She glanced down at his extended hand, momentarily breaking the intense eye contact, and shook it. His grip was strong—of course.
She expected him to have lost interest as she pulled her hand away and returned her gaze to his face, but was surprised to find that he was still studying her with that same look of authority that he had before.
“Evie’s a sub,” blurted Christina.
Evie glared at her friend. Why the hell had she just said that? It made her look bloody desperate. And, anyway, it was none of his damn business.
“So I see,” said Aaron, his eyes still fixed on her.
Huh? How the hell could he tell if she was a submissive or not? Then she remembered looking down at his hand for a split second when they were being introduced. How fucking presumptuous of him to assume that she had lowered her eyes in submission. It was the typical arrogant rock star mentality. He probably thought she was desperate to fuck him. Her frown deepened as she opened her mouth to put him straight.
“Christina,” scolded Marco, interrupting Evie before she could make some sort of angry retort. “Behave yourself or I’ll gag you right here in front of everyone.”
Christina just giggled. “Yes, Sir,” she sang, with a deliberate note of provocation.
God, she was really setting herself up for punishment later. If what Evie had heard about Marco Alessi was true, there was no way he was going to let Christina get away with such a bratty attitude.
Aaron grinned as Marco cupped his hand over Christina’s mouth, silencing her before she could get herself into any more trouble.
“Do you see what I have to put up with?” said Marco, with a good-humored shrug. “Somehow I have to turn this impudent sub into a perfect house slave.”
“What, Christina?” Evie feigned disbelief and looked at Marco in sympathy. “You’ll be lucky.”
Aaron laughed and looked like he might say something but before he could, a woman approached him from behind and tapped him on the shoulder. He turned around and greeted the glamorous lady waiting to talk to him, and Evie knew she’d been forgotten.
That, concluded Evie, was the end of that little encounter with the great Aaron Holmes. She dragged her eyes away from the back of his head as Marco told them they needed to make a move. The car was waiting and he wanted to leave before the rest of the entourage to make sure his staff were ready for the unscheduled guests.
She wondered if it was too late to back out, but Christina had taken her firmly by the hand. There was no way her friend would let her change her mind now, so she followed as Marco led them out of the room and along several corridors to the back exit.
Christina chatted nineteen to the dozen on the way down, but Evie wasn’t listening to anything she was saying. All she could think about was Aaron Holmes—his firm grip, his captivating gaze and the silent command for her compliance. But she was deluding herself. She might like to think that he wanted to dominate her but she knew that, in reality, someone like him would never be interested in her. She knew that. So why was her tummy somersaulting and her head spinning at the thought of seeing him again at Dominion? As she climbed into the car and strapped herself in, she vowed to stay strong. There was no way—no way—she was going to make a fool of herself with that man tonight.