Mya stood in the darkness of the BDSM club the Playground, watching Ethan lock the collar around Rebecca’s throat, happy for them, yet a bit jealous. At least someone she knew was getting a happily ever after. It wasn’t going to be her. The shadows were where she belonged, away where no one could see the desire on her face, the need in her body, the yearning of her soul.
She didn’t deserve happiness. That message had been imprinted on her ever since she was a little girl. So she made her home in the shadows, peering out at those who were able to let go and indulge in the pleasures being enjoyed all around the Playground, the BDSM dungeon she frequented. She was the quintessential voyeur, soaking up the energy from those around her. She stored up the images so that she could see them in her dreams, the only place she let herself explore the sensations of a Dominant pushing her to the brink, cracking her open till she spilled out all the heartache bottled up inside her then putting her back together with love, affection and care.
“Beautiful ceremony, wasn’t it?”
Startled by the rich baritone voice at her side, Mya turned to regard the stately Dom who had come up beside her. She had seen him around before, but she had never spoken to him. Tall, well-built and attired in a perfectly pressed black dress shirt with gold cufflinks, black wool slacks and shiny black wingtips, he was the image of a man so out of her world, she wasn’t sure if they would speak the same language. And yet he had spoken to her. In an effort not to be rude to him, something she had finally learned to control while working with Rebecca, Mya pasted on her polite smile and responded.
“Yes. I’m so glad Rebecca and Ethan were finally able to make it work. They deserve each other.”
“Do you know them well?”
“I work in Rebecca’s kitchen. I’ve known her a while.”
“I’m Jake, Ethan’s lawyer.” He extended his hand to shake, something so unusual in this environment of D/s protocol that it took her a minute to realize what he had done before she reached out to clasp his hand.
“Pleased to meet you, Mya.”
She made a motion to retrieve her hand but he held it firmly, gently caressing her with his thumb. His deep blue eyes held her in place as firmly as his handshake. She withered under his gaze, unable to retreat but incapable of standing up to his intense scrutiny without feeling wholly inadequate. He seemed to sense her discomfort and gently pulled her to him, encircling her in his arms. She allowed him to hold her a moment, caught in a dream she never wanted to wake up from with this man she never could imagine would ever want her in the real world. He made her feel truly safe and protected for the first time in her life and she wanted it to last forever.
Except she didn’t live in a world where men wore gently starched Supima cotton shirts so soft to the touch that she wanted to remain resting against it for a long time. Breaking free from his arms, she gazed up at him in discomfort.
“Sorry, Mya, but you seemed like you needed a hug. I apologize if I overstepped my bounds.”
“It’s okay,” she said in barely a whisper, backing up from him. “But I have to go.”
She turned to flee.
“Mya! Stop.” The Dom command rooted her to the ground, but she couldn’t turn around. What could he possibly want, anyway? Certainly not her. And yet as he came up close behind her, invading her space even though he didn’t touch her again, she could sense a gentle pull from him.
“Turn around and look at me,” he demanded.
Slowly she turned to face him, but she couldn’t meet his eyes.
“I said look. At. Me,” he directed in a quiet but firm tone.
This time she tipped her face upward and was again caught by those penetrating blue eyes, eyes that would see her for who she was and find her lacking. She waited for the disappointment to reflect back at her.
She was like a skittish doe ready to bolt the moment he relaxed his hold on her. Jake resisted the impulse to run his fingers down her cheek to settle her. He didn’t want to push too hard. There was a sheen of unshed tears clouding her beautiful chocolate-brown, almond-shaped eyes surrounded by that mass of flowing blue-black curls. Tension showed in the muscles of her high-cheekboned face and her shoulders were almost to her chin. He hadn’t meant to scare her, but he suspected it didn’t take much to make it happen.
“Are you here with a friend, Mya? Someone you trust?”
“I came with Sam and Allegra, but I think they went off to play. I don’t see them anywhere.” She started to back away from him, but he shook his head and she stopped.
Nice, a perfect submissive.
“Would you let me buy you a drink? I think it would be good for you to sit and relax for a while.”
An expression of real panic crossed her face.
“Mya, I’ve been friends with Ethan for many years. I know that if he weren’t otherwise engaged, he would tell you I’m trustworthy.”
She hesitated for a moment, appearing to consider his request. Her thoughts were reflected on her face—there was no guile to this one. Finally she nodded her acquiescence.
“After you.” He held out his hand, waiting for her to precede him. He followed her, resisting the impulse to settle his hand on her lower back to guide her. It was very tempting, though. Her round ass was covered in a short knit skirt that showed the up-and-down movement of each cheek as she walked, cheeks that were begging for a smack of his hand.
Down, boy, he admonished himself. You’ve got a long way to go before that will happen, if ever.
He wasn’t even sure what he was doing with her in the first place. He had approached her because he was attracted to her voluptuous figure and intrigued by the small rose tattoo that sat atop her right breast, peeking out from her corset. He only wanted a play partner for the evening and this woman was turning out to be a lot more emotional effort than he was used to expending on a one-night sub. But having obviously upset her, he was obligated to make sure she was okay before he moved on to someone else.
Once they had their drinks, Jake suggested they make themselves comfortable on one of the sofas. It would be easier for her to relax there than sitting on a barstool. Again, she hesitated before agreeing, clearly finding the intimacy of sitting side by side intimidating. But she did it, and he was careful not to sit too close, which in turn allowed her muscles to relax and her shoulders to drop.
Progress. “So, Mya, how long have you been working for Rebecca?”
“For the past four years. But I met her a long time ago. She came to my high school for Career Day when I was in ninth grade and inspired me to go into the culinary program. It’s because of her I became a chef. I couldn’t believe when I went to interview for the job at her catering company that I was going to work for her. It’s been everything I dreamed it would be.”
His question had been intended to take her mind off her insecurities, but he was amazed by her metamorphosis when she started talking about cooking. As she continued to describe to him what she loved about it, how Rebecca’s example had changed her life, her whole demeanor transformed. She sat up straighter and her eyes took on a lovely sparkle that was only matched by her incandescent smile. She became so animated, her hands moving quickly with her words, that she almost spilled her drink. And she knocked him totally off his pins.
What the hell happened to this gorgeous woman to put her into the shell I saw her in when I first approached? This was a vibrant woman with great passion that she had bottled up so tightly she almost exploded when she let it out. She was getting to him, her increasing intensity stirring his interest. Against his better judgment, he decided he wanted to get to know more about her. Maybe he wouldn’t need anyone else this evening.
“Would you like to scene with me this evening, Mya?”
Her eyes shuttered immediately and her shoulders rose once again. Dammit!
“I prefer to watch,” she responded, once again in that low thin voice of insecurity.
“You don’t want to try anything you see going on around you? I’m not sure I believe that, Mya. You know you’re not supposed to lie to a Dom.”
She blushed prettily. He held out his hand as he would to a puppy that didn’t know him and let her come to him. Indecision was written all over her face. Did she have no inkling how easy it was to read her? Finally, she reached out and took his hand. He closed his fingers over hers, placed his thumb over the pulse point on her wrist and asked his question again.
“Is there anything you’d like to try, Mya?”
Her pulse sped up, as he’d suspected it would.
Her eyes dropped to regard their clasped hands. He cupped his fingers under her chin and raised her head.
“Look at me, Mya, and tell me the truth. What would you like to try?” He wasn’t going to let her off the hook.
“All of it,” she whispered.
Mya sucked in a breath in horror. Had she just revealed her deepest, darkest secret to Jake? An air of hunger on his face confirmed her fear. It was time to leave, to get out before he discovered she wasn’t really what he wanted. She started to get up, but he wouldn’t release her hand.
“I have to go,” she said, pleading with her eyes for him to let her get away before it was too late.
But he didn’t relent. “And why is that, Mya? The friends you came with are off playing. Don’t you have to wait for them to leave?”
Damn, he has me there.
“Please, let me go. I don’t want to play with you.”
He let go immediately, but still held her in place with that implacable stare.
“I would never force anyone to play with me,” he said in a tone that conveyed his offense at her insinuation. “But I don’t think you’re telling the truth.” His voice softened. “I think you’re frightened. I don’t know why, but I respect it. We can continue to sit and talk. I’ve enjoyed talking with you. Would that be okay?”
“I guess so.”
His warm smile took away the chill of fear that had invaded her. She really didn’t want to leave his presence, but it was a risk. The longer she stayed, the more of a chance there was for him to discover who she really was, and she couldn’t bear to face his disgust when he did. Maybe for a few more minutes.
“So aside from cooking, what else do you like to do?”
The question shook her from her brooding thoughts. His diversion tactic didn’t fool her, but she was grateful for it.
“I do yoga. It helps keep me strong and limber for the long hours we put in in the kitchen.”
“Where do you practice?”
“There’s a studio not too far from my apartment. Their hours are good for me. I can usually get a session in even on days we work because they start early.”
“Yoga is good for a lot of things—patience, strength, stamina, self-awareness. All things that are also necessary when playing here. You would be a natural if you let yourself try it.”
She avoided his gaze. “I think I’ll stick to the yoga studio.”
He nodded. “Fine. Would you like to take a walk around the club? You said you’re a voyeur. We could watch together.”
She was sorely tempted. What could it hurt? It would be nice to enjoy the view with someone else.
“Okay,” she responded.
He got up and reached out his hand to help her rise, and she took it. It was a gentlemanly gesture and she allowed herself that brief experience of acting like a lady. It wasn’t something she was used to, but she liked letting him help her, if only for a moment. He dutifully released his hold once she rose. He obviously meant what he said—he wouldn’t push her into something she said didn’t want. She almost regretted it. Maybe that was what she really needed—to have someone push past her resistance and give her what she so desperately desired.
He allowed her to lead the way to the active part of the club, where the scenes were taking place. She stopped in front of a St. Andrew’s cross holding a naked woman being flogged. Jake stood behind her, so close he was almost touching. All she had to do was lean back slightly and she would be pressed up against his chest. But she didn’t. Instead, she found herself swaying with the rhythm of the flogger as it fell against the woman’s back, reddening her skin and eliciting moans of pleasure. An echoing moan of pleasure escaped Mya’s mouth as she transported herself onto the cross, imagining the tails of the flogger striking her own back. Without thinking, she rested against Jake for support.
Lost in a trance of imagined sensation, Mya welcomed the hands that grasped her arms, holding her firmly against the hard chest behind her. The whispered voice egged her on.
“That’s it, Mya. Let go. Feel the tails caress you. Give in to the thud, the sting.”
Yes. Yes, I feel it. Mmm, it’s so good.
The pace of the strikes escalated, as did the woman’s moans. The hands around Mya encircled her body, crossing right below her breasts, preventing her from swaying. It was like she was totally bound, unable to escape the tails as they descended upon her. Her connection to the woman on the cross intensified into an out-of-body experience of joyful abandon. Her whole being ached with desire, her heartbeat matching the rhythm of the flogger, her nipples firming into hard points, her pussy weeping to be filled.
“You may touch yourself, Mya,” Jake whispered in her ear.
A sense of excitement infused her as she obeyed the murmured command. She found her straining clit and pressed directly on it. She started slowly, but as the moans of the woman being flogged escalated, Mya worked herself hard with frenzied strokes, reaching for that final release but unable to quite get there. The tails continued to fall, the sound ratcheting up her desire, and still she strained. She needed something else, something to propel her over the edge.
“Come for me, Mya. Now.”
There it was, the push she needed, and she soared, flying off into oblivion. Strong hands held her as she shook, keeping her from falling as her knees buckled.
She appreciated that he held her so tightly, supported her in his solid arms when she let go. She reveled in a warm glow until the noises of the dungeon nudged her back into full consciousness. As she came back to herself, she stiffened in panic. She had gotten herself off in front of Jake!
“No!” she cried, disentangling herself from his grip. He released her immediately and she ran as fast as she could, wobbling in her high heels, directly into the ladies’ locker room, the one place she knew he wouldn’t follow her. She sank down onto a bench, hid her face in her hands and wept in mortification.
Jake stared after Mya’s fleeing form, wanting to kick himself in the ass. What a fuck-up! When she had leaned back against him, he’d taken it as a sign that she’d wanted to connect with him. He had let himself get caught up with her, following her into her fantasy. He should have realized she was so involved in the scene she was watching that she wasn’t aware of what she was doing. Somehow, he had to fix this.
He moved quickly around the room searching for Sam, finally spotting her naked and ready to drape herself over a spanking bench. He hated to interrupt her scene, but this was an emergency. He lcaught the eye of the Dom who was about to help her onto the bench and motioned for him to approach.
“I’m sorry to do this, but I need to speak to Sam. It’s important.”
The Dom nodded and stepped aside to let him pass.
“Sam, I need your help. I had a scene go bad with Mya, and she’s escaped into the ladies’ locker room. Would you please go in and make sure she’s all right?”
“You scened with Mya?” she asked, incredulity in her voice.
“Yeah. And it was a mistake.”
“I’ll say it was. Mya never scenes with anyone.”
Extreme regret overtook him. “That’s what she told me. But she gave me every sign that she was into it. I thought she was enjoying it until after her orgasm, when she realized she let herself go with me. Then she panicked and ran into the locker room. I need you to see if she’s okay. Please.”
“Of course. I’ll try to find her right away.” She was ready to leave in all her glorious nakedness, but Jake stopped her, took off his shirt and draped it around her. “If you can get her to come out and talk to me, I’d appreciate it. I don’t want to invade her sanctuary and disturb her any further.”
“I’ll try, but I can’t promise anything.”
Sam took off and disappeared into the locker room. Jake followed her to the door then paced outside, waiting. And waiting. And waiting. People passed by to talk, but he was so focused on Mya that he waved them off. He didn’t even care if he offended anyone. He had to know that he hadn’t harmed her. It was so against the way he played. He had never scened before without discussing limits.
But this time he hadn’t followed his own rules. He hadn’t negotiated with Mya and set up the parameters of their scene. Instead, he had engaged in a scene that, because it hadn’t been planned, had gone off the rails. He’d let himself get carried away by her joy in the moment.
Just as he was about to give up hope that Mya would talk to him, she emerged, eyes swollen, makeup gone, obviously washed away, because it had run down her face with her tears. It tore at him that he had caused her such anguish.
He approached her cautiously.
“God, Mya, I’m so sorry. Can we please sit down and talk about what happened?”
She shook her head. “It’s okay, Jake. I’m fine. I came out to let you know I’m good, but I’m going to go home now. Sam will take me.”
“Please. I interrupted Sam’s scene. Let me take you home to make amends. I don’t want to ruin another person’s evening.”
At that moment, Sam emerged, still wearing his shirt. He was glad she hadn’t already dressed to go.
“I can take Mya home, Sam, and you can return to the Dom you were playing with if you’d like.”
Sam regarded Mya. “Only if that’s okay with you, Mya. I don’t want you to be pressured into doing something you don’t want to do. I can play with Nick another time.”
Mya appeared conflicted. It was clear she didn’t want to ruin Sam’s evening, either, but she wasn’t comfortable with him taking her home.
“I have an idea,” Jake offered. “We can stop at the diner down the block and have something to eat and talk. This way, Sam will have some time to herself. If you’re still not comfortable with me taking you home, I’ll bring you back and you can ride with Sam and Allegra when they leave.”
“Okay,” she answered. There was a lingering reluctance to her tone, but she’d said yes, and that was all he needed.
“Good. I’ll be here when you’ve finished dressing. I have to get another shirt from my locker. You can keep that one, Sam, for your trouble.”
Sam laughed and stripped off the garment, clearly very comfortable in her own skin. “No need. Although it’s very nice, I’m okay going back to Nick like this.” She marched off, head held high, her generous breasts and ass jiggling with her movements. Mya watched her with longing in her eyes.
“She’s something else, isn’t she?” Jake said.
“Yeah. She’s so beautiful, she can be proud of herself. I could never do that.”
“You’re just as beautiful, Mya. I’m sorry you don’t realize that. You should feel as proud as Sam walking around naked.”
Mya didn’t reply, still focused on Sam. Jake stepped into her field of vision, forcing her to notice him.
“It’s true,” he confirmed.
“I’ll go get changed,” she answered, the doubt in her mind reflected in her voice.
“Fine. I’ll be right here waiting.”
As he watched her go into the locker room, he shook his head in frustration. If she could only see her own enticing ass swaying behind her, she would know he was right. It was too bad. She was a beautiful young woman and she deserved to believe in herself. But he didn’t have the time or the energy he knew it would take to convince her. She would be a hard case. And he wasn’t the man who could take her on. He just needed to make sure she was okay. He didn’t do long-term. Not anymore.