Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Wednesday Briefs: Uncool #7

Welcome to Wednesday Briefs, a blog hop where authors post 500-1000 words of free flash fiction. I am serializing a story, so this post continues with Carson, a hopeful submissive who is finding out things he doesn’t want to know and trying to figure out what to do next.

Because I’m either in the hospital or have just gotten home, I set this story to post ahead of time. The group kindly sent me a couple advance prompts, and I have used “Make yourself at home.”

Want to read the story of Carson’s first meeting with the mysterious “Sir”? You can read “Unwrapped” here. The chapters are linked.



Uncool #7

“I’m serious, Carson. Is this guy trouble?”

How was I supposed to answer that? I didn’t know much of anything about Bradley, not much more than a name. I think I might have met him once, but I couldn’t even remember him.

“Stewart doesn’t seem to think he is.” Lame as it was, that was the best answer I had.

Lenie picked up a cookie and snapped hers in half with an evil grin. “Sounds like Carson needs to conduct a little research.”

“Says the woman who works with mummies.”

“Mummies may not talk, but they say a lot.”

Maybe they did, but I wasn’t about to follow suit and unwrap my past. My past wasn’t a place I liked to visit. “Maybe you should ask the Pharoahs what they think about all this.” 

“Don’t mock them.” We both knew none of the mummies had ever been pharaohs. “They possess the wisdom of the ages and they would tell me you need to get out more. You can’t expect to meet the kind of man you need when all you ever do is see every man you meet as the man you think you want.”

I would have called her on her bullshit—except she was right. It was really irritating when Lenie and Stewart agreed on something.

“You can cease with the psychology.” I munched on the rest of my cookie.

“Psychology? The Pharoahs and I employ common sense. Everyone has it except you.” Lenie turned to look at the clock on the wall. The timepiece was enormous and garish, with the Eye of Ra in the center and hieroglyphs where the numbers would be. Her grandmother had given it to her when she graduated high school. I wish my grandmother had given me something like that. “Shit,” she said, “I have to get to the museum. I don’t trust the holiday staff to triple check the settings on the exhibits. I don’t suppose you drove over and would be willing to give me a ride?”

I shook my head. “Walked.”

“That’s why you get socks.” She climbed off the couch and one by one tossed the empty coffee cups into the trash with a practiced flip of her wrist. “Make yourself at home. If you need it, the WEP key’s on the fridge under Anubis.”

* * * *

It didn’t take me long to find the WEP key. I know who Anubis was and actually think he’s kind of cool in an uber-dom, Egyptian dog god kind of way. I pulled out my laptop and as soon as I entered the key and was connected, I typed out the name of Reed Bradley. But then I paused.

Why would I even want to know more about this man? I wanted to put my parents and the mess they had created of their lives, and of my life, behind me, not front and center.

Then again, if I knew more about Bradley, what he looked like… I could protect myself. He wouldn’t able to hang out anywhere near me without me knowing. And if he did something creepy like show up here at Lenie’s—

My finger twitched and search results flooded the screen. I clicked on an article from Forbes about “The Man Reshaping Philadelphia’s Skyline” and there he was. He looked fit, confident, even thoughtful, with that touch of arrogant reserve most wealthy, aggressive assholes acquire along with their ability to wear David Chu suits in penthouse boardrooms. Despite aristocratic cheekbones, there was something rugged and streetwise about Bradley's face, and the deep set sky blue eyes that looked out from beneath trimmed brows were definitely commanding. He perched on the edge of a desk, with the city spread behind him. He might be forty, or maybe not forty yet, given his salt and pepper hair was receding only a little, but he wasn’t old. I could imagine him speaking with that devastating voice.


And I was so screwed up my cock was hard just from me looking at his damn photo.

I slammed down the screen, making the image go away. Barely a minute later, I swore again and flipped the screen up so I could scroll past his face to the article. The information I needed wouldn’t be found in a picture.

Reading about Bradley was less painful than I’d thought it would be. At only one point did the Forbes article touch on his dealings with my family, mentioning Bradley’s acquisition of the old Great Valley Steel industrial yard and how he’d turned outdated warehouses and buildings into premiere living space. I skipped that part. The rest of the article corroborated what Stewart had already said, how Bradley’s parents had sold everything to send him to Penn but he’d bought an apartment building instead, a total dick move, except then he’d worked his way through school and turned that apartment building into an empire. Now he supported the community and was giving back, blah blah blah. I wondered if that last part was the reporter’s idea, or his.

Once I got past the picture, mining for facts became a game. I grew up around business people and crooks. The two often go hand in hand. My accountant, Saul, delighted in teaching me ways to track down the “real” story behind any business deal. He pried at a deal until it screamed for mercy and only then would he possibly concede he knew the whole story. I’d used those methods to dissect grant applications but had never put those skills to work on the death throes of Great Valley Steel. It was time I did.

Reed Bradley wanted to be in my life? Fine. I went in search of answers I’d once sworn I didn’t want to know.

And then I went and found a bench across the river from the Steelyard. I stared at it until the sun sank away and, one by one, bits of light from the steel and glass structures windows reflected in the sluggish water like stars.


All of the Wednesday Briefers have great stories to offer this week, so check them out!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Wednesday Briefs: Uncool #6

Welcome to Wednesday Briefs, a blog hop where authors post 500-1000 words of free flash fiction. I am serializing a story, so this post continues with Carson, who is finding out things he doesn’t want to know and trying to figure out what to do next.

This week’s prompts were: I have a frog in my throat, I gave him/her the cold shoulder, I got the short end of the stick, Whatever can go wrong will go wrong, Murphy's Law, Burning the midnight oil, One foot in the grave, or use: haircut, masochist, plate; or feature a dust storm in your story, or use: bottle, robe, box; or use a blow-dryer in some way, or use: Red, grass, lamp, You need coffee or Mummers or Don't they screen these people?” I went with Mummers and Don't they screen these people?

Want to read the story of Carson’s first meeting with the mysterious “Sir”? You can read “Unwrapped” here. The chapters are linked.



Uncool #6

The day I met Marlena Napolini, I had just been kicked to the curb by Asshole Jerk Boyfriend II and was valiantly trying to mount Mario the Magnificent, the big dragon statue on the corner of 33rd and Market. A blocky girl with big dark eyes watched me for about two minutes before she grabbed me by my ears, glared into my glazed eyes, and yelled, “You need coffee!”

Actually, she needed coffee. She’d just gotten off her student job cataloging mummy parts for the Penn Museum of Archaeology only to encounter my drunken ass while walking to her apartment. After fortifying herself with strong coffee at the Landmark Americana Tap and Grill, Lenie let me sleep off my stupor in her bed. The next day I woke up wearing a pair of her pajama pants. After returning my freshly laundered jeans, she drove me over to the condo to help kick out my user jerk leather boyfriend. We’ve been fast friends ever since.

I showed up at Lenie’s door holding two Starbucks coffees and a bag of baked goods.

She eyed me through the crack of her door, just wide enough to show the security chain. “That was fast.” She closed the door, slid back the heavy chain, and opened it so she could grab one of the coffees. “You got me a Peppermint Mocha? Oh my God, you are the best gay boyfriend ever!”

“Actually, you can have both coffees. And I have scones, and some of those snowman cookies.”

“Cookies!” She snatched the bag and led the way to the tiny sitting area. Lenie had moved apartments three times since I’d known her and now lived in a half-decent place off Chestnut Street in University City. She moved rolls of wrapping paper and bags of ribbons off the couch so we could sit.

“I have a gift for you, too.” I pulled a beribboned envelope from my backpack and extended it to her.

“If you’ve given me money, I’ll throw it out the window.”

“No, it’s a real gift. Open it.”

She looked at me suspiciously from beneath precisely cut red bangs that made her blue eyes look like those of an anime character. After prying open the seal, she peeked inside the envelope. Next thing I knew she was throwing her arms around my neck.

“Mummers tickets! The grandstand! Oh gosh, I love the Mummers.”

I wrapped my arms around her body and hugged tight. “I know. You go every year and stand in the cold. So I got you tickets. It might still be cold, but—”

“But now I can sit in the bleachers on my gold-plated ass-warming stadium seat cushion.”

My grin widened, because I’d gotten that for her last Christmas. Lenie couldn’t help it. She was a booster for every outdoor event in the city, from concerts to sports. Her father had season tickets to the Eagles and Lenie had complained about getting a frostbitten butt, which is what had made the cushion a perfect gift.

“This is great! You even followed the rules.” She took another swig of coffee. “Hey, let me get yours.” Lenie came back from her bedroom and thrust a wrapped package into my hands. It was lumpy and the paper had penguins on it.

I tore off the paper to reveal three pairs of thick, soft socks. “Warm,” I said, testing the material.

“Alpaca. Feel how cushy they are? Do you have any idea how cold it gets up in the Andes? This wool is the best, even though it says the socks were made here in the States.”

“I bet you spent too much.” The socks were a great gift. The blue-gray pair would go perfectly with the scarf Sir had sent. My stomach turned.

“Nope. I found a sale. Definitely under the limit. You sure you don’t want this cup of coffee?” She held up the cup.

I shook my head. I didn’t really like coffee, to be honest. Besides, it made me happy to see Lenie enjoy it. She tipped back her head and let the creamy goodness slide down her throat, all the while purring with pleasure. One of the reasons I liked her so much was I knew exactly how to make her happy. I had lots less success at that with the men I’d dated.

“Okay,” she said, pulling her legs up on the couch, “now tell me why you’re here and not nibbling candy cane cock rings with Master Stew.”

Lenie was one of very few people outside of the lifestyle who knew the true nature of my relationship with Stewart. She was also the only one who called him Stew. No one else would have dared, but she didn’t care what he thought about her and she actually gave a fuck about my screwed up life. She even understood the origins of some of Stewart’s rules and why I needed them, like not giving gifts that cost more than $40. As rules went, that was one she liked. Graduate assistants were paid next to nothing. She’d snagged a part-time position at the museum and was in seventh heaven planning exhibits for the mummy collection.

“That’s awful,” she said after I’d told her the outcome of my Christmas Eve adventure. “Don’t they screen these people?”

“For what? Having known my parents?” The open bakery bag had tipped my way, so I reached in for one of the snowman cookies. Stewart hadn’t made any rules about overspending on bakery, so I’d bought a half-dozen.

“I guess not.” The way Lenie lightly bit her lower lip was a sure sign the coffee had reached her brain. Her mind was starting to race. “Do you think this man is dangerous?”

“Reed Bradley.”


“That’s his name,” I said when she looked quizzical.

“You just bit off that snowman’s head.”

I’d decapitated the cookie just above its pretty blue scarf. My bite had even neatly scalloped the edges. “He deserved it.”


All of the Wednesday Briefers have great stories to offer this week, so check them out!

This is where I mention two things:

1) This story WILL be continuing for the next few weeks because the posts are already written and I've scheduled them in advance.

2) I will not be around to answer comments starting this Friday and perhaps for a couple weeks. Heres the blog post explaining that. Because I cant do much blog tweaking from my phone or tablet, I wont be able to add things like a link list or some of the front matter. But the story will go on! If youd be so kind as to leave a comment, though, I will certainly be reading them. And I will answer as soon as Im able.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Going Under the Robot

I’ve been kind of quiet lately on social media and on this blog. There’s a reason for that. It’s not that I’m not writing… in fact, I’m writing quite a lot. I’ve got stories boiling over on every back burner. Unfortunately, I have also been going to the doctor quite a lot. A few doctors.

A serious medical problem reared its ugly head late last month and I have been busy taking care of it. In fact, I’m having surgery on Friday. It’s a major surgery and I don’t fully know what my situation will be until I come out of it. The good news in all this is that everyone involved—my doctors and the surgeon—thinks the prognosis will be excellent.

As for me… I’m more fascinated by my ally in taking down my body.

A robot.

Here’s a picture of the kind of operating room robot my surgeon will be using to minimize the trauma of surgery (there’s always trauma when the body is invaded and parts removed) and my pain afterward. Tell me that’s not cool! It also looks like it would make a great torture device...

So that’s where I will be on Friday—under the robot. Sounds kinky, doesn’t it?

If you’re a reader of this blog and are enjoying my Wednesday Briefs BDSM story, “Uncool,” you won’t miss a beat… because I have written ahead, wrapped up the story, and have scheduled all those posts. So even if the surgery and recovery keep me away from the computer, the blog will continue to post the rest of “Uncool.”

Though I tend to be stoic, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t anxious. If you have any thoughts or prayers to send my way, I would appreciate them.

And as soon as I’ve recovered a bit, I’ll be back with reports on how things went between me and that robot!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

My Sexy Saturday: Uncool

Welcome to My Sexy Saturday. For this hop, authors post 7 paragraphs, or 7 sentences, or 7 words. This can be from a WIP or something published. This week I’m posting 7 hot paragraphs from my WIP, Uncool. It's currently running as a serial here on my blog, but the chapter this sexy snippet is from is a month away from posting.

Submissive Carson spent one night with his mysterious Sir. Finding out who Sir was broke his heart. So what happens when they finally, truly, get together? What do you think? ;)


I quivered when Sir pressed a nipple between his thumb and forefinger, squeezing down on the nipple ring while he assessed my response. Of course both nipples hardened to begging peaks.

“Nice,” he said, “but far too plain. Let me fix that.” He reached into his pocket to pull out a small velvet pouch, tipping it to pour two bits of gold into his palm. Not just ordinary nipple bars, these were custom: each had a beautifully wrought R on the left and a just as beautiful B on the right. With the expertise of a man accustomed to working with nipple jewelry, Sir removed the little ring in my right nipple, replaced it with one of the bars, and expertly capped it. He did the same to my left nipple. When he was done, his initials adorned my chest. He might as well have stamped me ‘Property of Reed Bradley’.

“Do you like them?”

“Yes, Sir.” I did. A lot.

“Maybe I’ll let you keep them after tonight.”

My damn cock liked that prospect so much I was rock hard now and leaking, while my outflanked brain was screaming at me to slow down, that this was just a scene and Sir was, at this point, just another dom Stewart had agreed could use me. Trouble was, he was also a dom I wanted to use me.

He cupped my face with his hand and ran his thumb across my lower lip, quirking a smile when I opened my mouth to caress his skin with my tongue.


Friday, January 17, 2014

Just Call Me Daisy Rainbow Mane!

Take a look at this beautiful creature! Yes, it’s true… I’ve been adopted by the Unicorn Mafia over at Boy Meets Boy Reviews and they’ve even given me my own unicorn name and identity.

Isn’t she lovely?

Be honest, if you can, and admit she looks just like me. Some of you have seen me, so you know.

Want to read an interview wherein I reveal who I would cast as Vorgell and Madd in a movie version of Thick as Thieves (including a pic of my inspiration for Madd) and where I think the boys might be 30 years from now? 

CLICK HERE for the interview and a wonderful Book, Bag, and Swag giveaway including this great necklace.

Coming soon… a post about unicorns.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Wednesday Briefs: Uncool #5

Welcome to Wednesday Briefs, a blog hop where authors post 500-1000 words of free flash fiction. I am serializing a story, so this post continues with Carson, who is finding out things he doesn’t want to know and trying to figure out what to do next.

This week’s prompts were: “Swear on our friendship.” or “My mama always said some things are better left unsaid.” or “Stop beating around the bush.” or “What's good for the goose is good for the gander.” or “The nice thing about standards is, there are so many to choose from.” or use: pillow, wood, dishcloth or feature a tornado in your story or use: straw, knife, candle or have a character sneeze repeatedly or “How do you mend a broken heart” or “Can things get any worse?” I went with “Can things get any worse?”

Want to read the story of Carson’s first meeting with the mysterious “Sir”? You can read “Unwrapped” here. The chapters are linked.



Uncool #5

“In a minute, Carson. There’s more you need to know.”

I lowered my eyes again. Of course there was more to this, there had to be… or Stewart would be angrier. I’d seen him deeply angry, furious in fact, and this wasn’t it. This was more like frustration.

“While I don’t know much about his business dealings with your father, I know a lot about Reed Bradley’s character as a dominant. We’ve moved in the same circles for more years than I care to count. He’s discreet, experienced, and has a good reputation. He knows I’m acting as your dom—and he’s respected that arrangement. He didn’t try to get to you behind my back. He has always approached me first. Until last night. That event had its own rules and while I may not like it, he followed them… he followed them even this morning. He sent the package, but it was my decision to give it to you.”



“He used me!”

“You put yourself out there to be used.”

The icy words slapped straight at my wounded pride. I’d gotten exactly what I’d wanted. I’d fantasized for weeks about some mystery dominant bidding on and winning me so he could then use my naked body like a toy. I’d wanted that so much my cock had been in an almost perpetual state of erection and it had been impossible to think straight. And my fantasy had happened. Reed Bradley had used me so thoroughly, so deeply, my body still ached from his pleasure. I was half hard now just thinking about it. But he’d also screwed me in ways that left me reeling. He’d screwed more than a body. He’d screwed me.

“I don’t want to meet him.”

“Are you sure?” Stewart’s direct gaze pinned me like twin lasers, but the gruff rumble in his voice let me know he would do whatever I decided.

“No.” Part of me did want to meet the man who’d tied my body up in knots. On the other hand, another part of me—the part frantic to keep me miles away from asshole jerks—was telling me never to let it happen again. “I don’t know what the hell is going on with me, or him. But until I am sure, I don’t want to meet him.”

“All right, then. I’ll call him and make your wishes absolutely clear. Now can I trust you not to run out into the snow without your head screwed on straight?”

“Yes. I mean, can things get any worse? But I will get my head straight. I just need to… I need to be away, away from all this”—I glanced at the playroom and its collection of kink—“and put it out of my head. I thought I’d stay with Lenie a while.” It felt right to meet Stewart’s steady gaze again. “She’s good for when I need to escape. And I do have my Master’s project to finish.”

“By summer.” Amusement twinkled in his dark eyes.

“Yeah, well, it might be good for me to focus on postage stamp sized parks for a while—and not think too much about why I always get tied up and fucked by assholes.”

“Maybe you’re overthinking it. A dominant personality isn’t the same thing as strength of character. They don’t necessarily go hand in hand. Don’t hand over your power so easily, Carson. However much you want to do that, make sure the person you trust with your submission is worthy of it.” Stewart rose from his chair and walked to clap me on the shoulder. “You can have it all, you know. Get tied up, get fucked, find a master, get a graduate degree in Urban Planning and Design.”

I nodded. I wanted to believe it. Sometimes I wondered if my dream of finding a dominant I could serve through bondage was just a way to escape becoming a responsible adult. I wanted to hand over my body to another, allow him to collar and chain and control me until I surrendered, yielded, became… his. But so far, except for Stewart, my attempts had led only to disrespect and feeling incredibly ill-used.

“Thank you, sir,” I said.

“I’ll drive you over.”

“I’d rather walk, sir, unless you think it’s dangerous.”

“Slippery. Not dangerous. Are you sure?”

“Yes. It’s not that far, and the snow’s pretty. I like it.”

What I wanted most at that moment was to forget about bondage and submission entirely, leave all of it behind, and just vanish back into the fabric of ordinary society. At least I somewhat succeeded at that. I fit in at Starbucks. I blended in on the streets. It was different with the lifestyle. There, every time I tried to find a place for myself, my fucking needs, I failed miserably. I wanted what Stewart and Jase had, what other couples I knew through The Club had. Not to be the damned fuck of the night, but the one and only fuck of a lifetime.

Yeah, that.

I’d put my dream out there on Christmas Eve, all right—all shiny hopes and tinsel—and Reed Bradley had thrown it back in my face. 

I needed space, and lots of it. Stewart and Jase had each other and having me around would just spoil their holiday. Going to my condo would just make it easy for people to find me. I needed to find refuge with someone not associated at all with either the lifestyle or the rest of my fucked up life.

Maybe Lenie could help me get my head back to center. She’d done it before. But could anyone ever help me to do it again?

Was my need for control, for leather and ropes, worth all this hurt and confusion? Wasnt there just one decent, reasonably normal man out there looking for what I had to offer? At this point I was ready to become a self-flagellating monk.


All of the Wednesday Briefers have great stories to offer this week, so check them out!

You can visit the Wednesday Briefers home page HERE for opening snippets and links to all the briefs. And a list of links if you would rather navigate from here. Enjoy!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Book, Bag, Swag and More!

I’m Author of the Month over at Boy Meets Boy Reviews and we're celebrating with a HUGE giveaway! I pulled together all my best swag for this one (I just can't help it, I collect things), and it’s really cool. In the post I discuss why I wrote about a couple of lowbrow losers instead of princes and highly educated wizards.

And… check out the excerpt. It’s a sneak peek—the very first—at the next Thieves book, Thick as Ice. Yep, Vorgell and Madd are thieving again!

What does the giveaway include?
  • signed paperback of Thick as Thieves (not pictured)
  • basilisk eye pendant necklace
  • unicorn theme canvas lunch bag (so cute)
  • Petal the basilisk mug (last one)
  • adorable unicorn zippered coin purse
  • cool Thick as Thieves notebook
  • unicorn horn hand soap
  • and more

This giveaway runs until 10 p.m. Pacific Time, January 27th.

I gladly ship prizes internationally, so don’t let that stop you.  

To enter, just comment on the post over THERE and include a means (like email, Twitter, etc.) for the Unicorns who run the site to contact you.

Ill leave you with a close up of that lovely basilisk eye necklace. 

Heres looking at you! 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Fun With the Unicorn Mafia

One of the things I love about readers is they sometimes allow me to glimpse, however fleetingly, the ways my characters and adventures, or my worlds, entertain them.

Getting a look at that reader connection is difficult for an author. It’s a full-blown example of the observer effect: basically, the act of observing tends to influence the thing being observed. Some readers will write to the author about what they think—fan letters!!!—but most readers don’t say anything at all. Reviews are a mixed bag and really tricky to assess because it’s hard to tell who they’re written for. But every once in a rare while an author is given a gift when readers share exactly what they think about one of her books.

So if you’re up for a few laughs, here’s what a group of 10 readers/reviewers had to say about Thick as Thieves.  In a long, wacky, and pretty darn revealing chat, the Unicorn Mafia over at Boy Meets Boy Reviews raked my book over the coals. Some of them loved the book. Some didn’t like it at all. And I found their discourse absolutely delightful. Wince-worthy and hilarious, it was the highlight of my week, and maybe my year. Because they really do tell each other what they think.

Warning: Refrain from reading this while drinking coffee or anything you don’t want coming out your nose. And if you have a chance, tell them—or me—what you think about this kind of chat!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Wednesday Briefs: Uncool #4

Welcome to Wednesday Briefs, a blog hop where authors post 500-1000 words of free flash fiction. I am serializing a story, so this post continues with Carson, who found heaven of sorts in bondage on Christmas Eve… only to slam to earth on Christmas morning when he found out the mysterious dom responsible has connections to his painful past. I couldn’t leave something like that hanging, now, could I?

This week’s prompts are: “Are you kidding me?” or “Here, kitty, kitty,” or “He stretched in a low feline fashion” or “He was gone for a month before it really sank in...” or “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” or use: a ruler, a bag and an urn or feature some sort of dance in your story or “What did you call me?” or “kill ‘em with kindness” or “Hit me with your best shot” or “I wished the earth would open up and swallow me whole.” I went with “Are you kidding me?” 

Want to read the story of Carson’s first meeting with the mysterious “Sir”? You can read “Unwrapped” here. The chapters are linked.



Uncool #4

Jase was still clad in green, though he’d ditched the booby-trap mistletoe hat and goofy shoes. He stood in front of the tree like something out of “Elf” and eyed me with surprise.

“Stewart just left to find you!”

“I know.” I raced up three flights of stairs to the guest room and started changing into better street clothes. The icy, soggy slippers were the first thing to go. From now on, warm socks would top my annual Christmas list.

Jase stepped through the doorway and flashed his cell phone. “You’re not going to get far. I called him back.”

Fuck modern technology. Of course he’d called Stewart. I plopped heavily onto the bed to put on the socks. “Traitor.”

“I had to tell him. No way I’m putting my balls in a vise for lying on your behalf.” Cock and ball torture was one of Stewart’s preferred modes of punishing his slave. Jase plunked his green velvet ass beside mine. “You didn’t see him when you ran out, Carson. He’s worried sick. He didn’t know you’d go off like that. Are you okay? Because if you are, you have to let him know that.”

“And if I’m not?”

“Let him know that, too.”

“I guess I will, then.” I stood to tug on a pair of jeans, then sat back down to put on my winter walking boots. Best thing about living in the city was I could walk or run anywhere I needed to go. I could be anybody or nobody. The anonymity was fantastic.

“He tried—”

“He tried shit. The man who won me for the night was one of the assholes who fucked over my father. Stewart knew that!” The long-sleeved shirt I was trying to pull over my head wasn’t cooperating. Even my clothes were against me. “Screw this!”

Then my head popped through the neck and there was Jase, looking down at me with so much damn understanding I couldn’t stand it. He’d even helped tug down the damn shirt. “Maybe there’s more to it,” he said. “Did you stop long enough to think of that?”

“Are you kidding me? I—”

“Do you trust Stewart or not?”

“At the moment? Not.” I kicked aside my discarded clothes. “Where’s my damn backpack?”

“You don’t have to leave.”

“I’m leaving.”

“Where are you going?”

“I don’t know. Not my place. That asshole might know where I live. Maybe I can hide out with Lenie for a few days.”

“She probably went home for the holiday.”

“Nah. Her family lives in Drexel Hill. They do the family thing on Christmas Eve. It’s not like she left town or anything. She’s expecting me sometime today anyway.” It would still be a good idea to call her first, before I walked all the way over to University City. But I didnt say that because I wanted Jase to think I actually had a plan. Id just hefted my backpack onto my shoulder when I heard boots on the stairs.

“Carson?” Stewart stopped in the hallway outside my door. He didn’t bother to look in. “Come to the playroom.”

I never disobeyed a direct order, not from him. After shooting a withering look at Jase, I followed. Stewart’s playroom was where we held most of our talks about our ‘agreement’ or issues related to it. For one thing, within those walls Stewart was Master and I… wasn’t.

The playroom was on the top floor of the five story townhouse. Back in the day, most of the floor had been a ballroom, but Stewart had converted the space so there was a spacious sitting room and large bath as well as the playroom. He’d outfitted that room with anti-fatigue flooring, padded and soundproofed walls, and specialized furniture and equipment for the scenes he liked to perform. The mounting chair was especially eye-catching, all sleek metal and red leather. He’d never used it with me, though. For me he preferred to make use of the St. Andrew’s crosses.

I put my bag down as soon as I entered. I then walked to the center of the room and knelt within the circle described by yellow paint in front of a single black leather chair.

I waited in position, head bent and hands on my thighs, until Stewart settled into the chair. Dread pumped through my veins, causing my anger to collapse like ash. Stewart had a slave, a man he loved… he didn’t have to put up with me or my issues. Jase had asked if I trusted Stewart, and the answer kicked me in the gut. I did trust him. And more than that, I needed him. Hearing his voice instilled calm.

“I could punish you, you know.”

“Yes, sir.”

“I could also terminate our agreement.” He paused, perhaps to see if I flinched. If so, I satisfied him. “But so could you, given what happened last night. Do you want to end our relationship?”

His control of the conversation reassured me by providing structure for my confusion. I drew a deep breath before I answered. “No. But I need to understand why you let that man near me.”

“Fair enough.” He took a while before he continued, long enough that I glanced at him and saw something unexpected. Stewart looked conflicted. “I can’t answer for Bradley. That’s the first thing I need for you to understand. He’s his own man, and he’s not good at taking orders. I instructed him to back off and I thought he’d done that. He was just waiting for the right moment. As far as The Club and the party”—now he looked exasperated—“you signed up, remember? We talked about the downsides. You knew you would have to go with whoever won. I knew this, too. We agreed you could take part. Bradley simply took advantage of the opportunity. He wanted a night with you, and he got it.”


“In a minute, Carson. There’s more you need to know.”

Copyright © 2014 Tali Spencer

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