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Authors: Heloise Belleau,Solace Ames

the dom project

The Dom Project
By Heloise Belleau and Solace Ames

By day, Robin Lessing has a successful career as a university archivist. By night, she blogs about her less-than-successful search for Mr. Tall, Dark and Dominant. Living up to her handle “The Picky Submissive,” she’s on the verge of giving up and settling for vanilla with a side of fuzzy handcuffs when she discovers her best friend and colleague has a kinky side, too.

Sexy, tattooed techie John Sun is an experienced Dom who never lacks for playmates, male or female. If he can’t satisfy Robin’s cravings, maybe no one can—after all, he knows her better than anyone. So he offers to help her master the art of submission for one month.

Robin eagerly agrees to John’s terms, even the pesky little rule forbidding any friendship-ruining sex. But rules are made to be broken, and once they begin their stimulating sessions, it’s not long before she’s ready to beg him for more—much more...

60,000 words

Dear Reader,

It’s unbelievable to me that the holiday season is here already. I feel as though I was just stuffing myself full of holiday cookies, spiced wine and all of the wonderful chocolates sent to me during the holidays. But here we are again in what some call the season of joy, while others call it “the season where I avoid all shopping malls for at least two months.” If you’re one of those avoiding all of the seemingly endless holiday tasks, preparations and shopping, let us help you procrastinate with another fantastic lineup of books. If you’re one who revels in the season of joy, not to worry, these books will only add to your enjoyment of the season.

This month, we have so many returning authors who are fan favorites, I’m not sure where to start. So instead, I’ll start with those who are new, either to readers, to Carina Press, or both. Beginning with debut author Michele Mannon, whose book first came to my attention two years ago during a cold-reads session at a meeting of New Jersey Romance Writers. During that session, I gave Michele some suggestions for strengthening her opening and she worked on it for several months before going on to win a few contests and eventually pitching it to me, at which point I acquired it with great enthusiasm. I hope you’ll check out her fantastic love story of a former ballerina turned ring girl and a brooding, sexy fighter in
Knock Out
, book one of the Worth the Fight trilogy. And don’t mind me while I claim partial credit for the opening line...

Joining Michele with a debut book is Timothy S. Johnston and his science-fiction thriller. It’s Agatha Christie meets Michael Crichton in
The Furnace
as homicide investigator Kyle Tanner travels to a remote space station to solve a mysterious death that may have enormous consequences for the human race.

Our third debut author makes her appearance in one of my annual holiday collections. These have become a tradition at Carina Press, and one that I love, since I get a chance to work with a new variety of authors every year. This year, we have four collections. Last month saw the release of two of them:
Gift of Honor
, a military holiday collection, and
Season of Seduction
, an erotic holiday collection.

This month we release the two contemporary holiday collections, and it’s in
For My Own
that Shari Mikels makes her writing debut with her novella
Christmas Curveball.
Joining her in this contemporary romance collection are new-to-Carina author Kinley Cade with her novella
Kissing Her Scrooge
, and fan-favorite Alison Packard with
A
Christmas for Carrie.

In the second contemporary romance holiday collection, returning authors Christi Barth, Brighton Walsh and Kat Latham join together to offer some holiday love and forgiveness in
All I’m Asking For
with their novellas
Tinsel My Heart
,
Season of Second Chances
and
Mine Under the Mistletoe.

Also new to Carina Press this month are authors Keri Ford, Ann DeFee, T.C. Mill and Daryl Anderson, each offering up something different for reader entertainment. Keri Ford brings us a fun contemporary romance in
Never Stopped Loving You
, in which the heroine has to remind herself: don’t date your friends—and definitely don’t
ever
date your friend’s brother. Ann DeFee’s
Beyond Texas
is a fast-paced contemporary romance of mystical lights that dance across the desert as the hero and heroine, Cole Claiborne and Twinkie Sue Carmichael, discover love while thwarting an evil cult, giving new meaning to the old saying “Don’t Mess with a Texan.”

In T.C. Mill’s male/male fantasy novella,
Gardens Where No One Will See
, Nemaran’s gentle attentions inspire Renad to go beyond the boundaries he’s set for himself for so long—but can they help him break free of even crueler bondage?

And last in the new-to-Carina category, Daryl Anderson is on the scene in
Murder in Mystic Cove.
In this new mystery, a former Baltimore homicide detective thought she’d put murder cases behind her—until she discovered a resident in her father’s retirement community shot dead in his golf cart.

Returning to Carina Press with contemporary romance
Love Me Not
, Reese Ryan introduces us to struggling artist Jamie Charles, who finds refuge from the painful secrets of her past in her art and prefers living on the edge—without the complications of love—until she encounters charming ad exec Miles Copeland, who is harboring his own dark past and is determined to have her heart.

Fantasy romance author Shawna Thomas has the third installment in her Triune Stones series,
Journey of Wisdom.
It’s not too late to catch up before the series wraps up with the last book,
Journey of the Wanderer,
in February 2014.

If you’re looking to spice up your holidays with a BDSM erotic romance,
The Dom Project
by Heloise Belleau and Solace Ames will keep you warm, even when it’s cold outside. When buttoned-up university archivist Robin Lessing agrees to spend one month submitting to a sexy, tattooed colleague, she presents her new Dom with a firm set of rules. But once they begin their stimulating sessions, it’s not long before she’s ready to beg him for more—much more.

Also this month, we have three powerhouse fan favorites with new books. Shannon Stacey returns to the Kowalskis with the much-anticipated
Love a Little Sideways.
When Drew Miller had a casual rebound fling with his best friend’s sister, he thought she’d go back to New Mexico and stay there, but now Liz Kowalski has come home to stay, and Drew’s feelings for her might not be as casual as he thought.

After a two-year wait, Lauren Dane is back with
Blade to the Keep
, the follow-up to
Goddess with a Blade.
Rowan Summerwaite is no ordinary woman. With the power of an ancient goddess in her belly, she’s the perfect candidate to re-negotiate the fragile Treaty keeping the peace between the Vampire Nation and the last line of defense for humanity, The Hunter Corporation. And she’s got to do it as she attempts to manage a politically awkward romance during a trip back to a place she escaped nearly fifteen years before. No pressure.

Wrapping up this month is
The Principle of Desire
, the final book in the Science of Temptation trilogy from Delphine Dryden.
1
Sexy Switch
+
1
Nerdy Newbie
=
A
Master Class in Seduction.

Last, no matter what your religion, or what you celebrate, books are a common bond, so from all of us at Carina Press, we wish you a wonderful season of reading. May there be incredible books, stories and characters on your ereaders all year long!

We love to hear from readers, and you can email us your thoughts, comments and questions to
[email protected]
. You can also interact with Carina Press staff and authors on our blog, Twitter stream and Facebook fan page.

Happy reading!

~Angela James
Executive Editor, Carina Press

www.carinapress.com
www.twitter.com/carinapress
www.facebook.com/carinapress

Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Epilogue

About the Author

Copyright

Chapter One

Robin’s best friend John was always getting on her case about being an obsessive blogger. Today, she finally accepted he might have a point.

Three o’clock on a work day, and she should be writing a fundraising email. An important fundraising email. The kind of fundraising email that might mean an exciting new acquisition or the salary of a new staff member—or just the continued existence of her department. But instead, she typed the email blind, hands flying over the keys while her eyes stared at the next tab open in her browser window, the one that read
The Picky Submissive
.

God, she really shouldn’t be doing this at work, but the frustration was unbearable. She was already taking some of it out by digging her heels into the floor. She couldn’t
concentrate
. She needed to get it out of her system, that was all, before she turned the expensive library floor into wood chips.

With all the relief of someone lighting their first cigarette after an eighteen-hour flight, she hit Compose Post. Best to get straight to the point. No time for chitchat.

 

 

Look, I don’t have unreasonable standards. I don’t expect perfect punctuation. But if you want to control my “oargasms,” I can’t take you seriously. Unless you’re some kind of kinky skipper, maybe start by controlling your spell-check first. If you can’t find your way to the edit menu, you’d better keep on rowing.

 

 

Love,
The Picky Submissive

 

 

She sighed with relief. Normally bad spelling didn’t aggravate her so much, but bad spelling combined with a guy who was convinced he needed to micromanage her masturbation, even though she’d specified she wasn’t looking for any kind of Total Power Exchange in her KinkLife.com account? What was even the point of writing a thorough and accurate profile about her wants, needs and limits if every guy with a username like Darth_Dominous121 was going to ignore the damn thing anyway?

She finished the post just in time for Julio to poke his head in her door. “I approved your letter,” she told him, and smiled. “It looks great. I think we’ll get lots of interest in donations for the new library annex.” Flipping the switch to work mode? No problem.

“Thanks,” said Julio. “Um, what do you know about fetish porn?”


What?
” She flicked her eyes to her screen to check for incriminating evidence. Julio wasn’t close enough to read the written content of her blog, but some of the ads down the sidebar were pretty risqué and definitely visible from a distance. But no, her monitor just showed the university log-in page.

“I don’t know anything about fetish porn,” Julio said plaintively. He was an older man and had worked in special collections much longer than her, although his terminal shyness meant he couldn’t do her job as Head. “Postwar burlesque up to 1970s, I could maybe handle. But this? No. It’s big. Oh God, it’s big.” He was breathing rapidly, holding on to the door as if he’d collapse.

“All right, all right. Calm down there, big fella.” She swept a hand through her hair. “How big? What kind of big?”

“It’s an Irina Mareau collection appraised at seven thousand, but there’s no way it’s worth that little.”

The name sounded familiar. She rushed to pull up search tabs on archival collections and history sites. She lived for this. The adrenaline rush was as good as sex. Or maybe that was just something she told herself to feel better about—no.
Focus
. “So...she was modeling in the 1930s for racy photographs. Wow. Like Bettie Page, but earlier, and she never got really famous.”

“Racy’s an understatement, yes. It was thought all of her original photographs were destroyed in the 1950s by her and her husband at the height of the antiobscenity movement, leaving only a couple of incredibly poor-quality reproductions. Now it’s come to light after she passed that her nephew inherited a box of her letters and photographs. Stuff that has never seen the light of day.” Julio had slipped into his
Antiques Roadshow
announcer voice, and there was a gleam in his eyes that people outside of their field would probably call unholy.

“We could build a collection around it. The Subcultural Female Body Image? The Media Studies professors would jump on it.” She rose to her feet, too full of nervous energy to stay still. Her stiletto hidden platform heels—the taupe color made them just conservative enough for work—gave her four extra inches and meant she didn’t have to look up at Julio. “We’re going to get this.” She threw out her arm for a celebratory fist bump.

The light in Julio’s eyes turned to panic. He staggered back a step, then pivoted and fled. “I’ll email you the appraisal!” he called over his shoulder.

Robin sank back into her chair and rubbed her forehead. She really wanted to talk about this. But anyone she could talk to who’d understand the significance was a potential competitor, especially if they worked at one of the bigger universities like UCLA, or she’d have to swear them to uncomfortable secrecy, or...

John
. He liked to make fun of her boring job, but Irina Mareau? Definitely not boring. Those few blurry photographs bore witness to the gorgeous, sinuous way Irina curved when she kneeled. Robin took a slow breath and pressed her thighs together, imagining the strain, recreating it.

Maybe John had heard of Irina Mareau.

She picked up the phone.

* * *

“A/V department.” John pinned his phone to his shoulder with his ear as he swung the rickety cart into the elevator.

“I can help,” shouted the new student assistant, and ran down the hall toward the elevator. John stabbed the close button while mouthing
thanks
and shaking his head.

“John! Hi!” Robin’s voice on the other end of the line was sweet and breathy, which would be sexy as hell if it was anyone but her.

“Aren’t you supposed to be working?” He hit his floor button. “Please tell me you’re not calling me at work to tell me some nerdy little factoid that has nothing to do with me. Look, I’m sure this misprint science textbook from Texas that includes a Chapter on evolution is very—”

“Irina Mareau,” Robin said.

He whistled. When he was a teenager, he’d seen the classic image in an arty erotica book, and that very same night she’d figured prominently in his fantasies. Never mind that she was long dead—the aura of bygone glamour only added to the experience.

“Aren’t you supposed to be working?” asked Robin. “Or do you have one hand down your pants now? You can get fired for that.”

“I have
both
hands down my pants. That’s the magic of Bluetooth. So you’ve got some kind of lead on an Irina Mareau collection?”

“Can you meet me at lunch?” She sounded so eager, like she was a champagne bottle about to pop.

“Sure.” He was supposed to be recording some visiting professor lecturing on doomsday planetary collision hysteria in five minutes, but he’d figure some way out. “Meet you at the shack.” He hung up.

The elevator door creaked open. The new assistant—Carol? Kari?—stood there, breathing heavily. She must have run up the stairs. “I just wanted to see if you needed any help.”

She was cute, but way too young. Even if she didn’t sort of work for him—he could get fired just for that, never mind the age difference—she’d be off-limits. But if it made her happy...

“Actually, you could record a lecture for me.”
So maybe I’m not getting fired
,
but I’m still going to hell
.

“Thank you! I mean, sure! I’ve never used the camera before! Oh my God! This is awesome!”

“Okay, okay, okay. Just don’t break anything.”

* * *

This wasn’t her area, but Robin could still see that the comps in the appraisal were ridiculous. She scribbled corrections in the margins in between sips of her tea.

“It’s the A/V guy!”

The students at the table next to her were poking each other and trying not to stare. People tended to remember John. There weren’t many built, six-foot-tall Asian men with full-sleeve tattoos and close-cropped hair ambling around campus in work shirts, black jeans and motorcycle boots.

Not even Berkeley was colorful enough to have an army of Johns.

“Hey, pixie.” He took a seat across from her.

“Don’t call me that.” She hated that name. Hated any nickname or reference to her small stature, really. See also the “I Am Not Your Baby Doll” tag on her blog.

Thirty-two years old and her body was much the same as it was at fifteen. She didn’t complain in public—
oh no I’m too thin and slender and delicate
sounded insufferable—and she
had
learned a few tricks. The hidden platform heels. Penciling depth to her eyebrows for a stronger, less
ingenue
look. They helped get her taken seriously at work, but the daddy-kink doms still swooped around her like moths to the flame, vultures to the roadkill, flies to the—damn, she was getting cynical.

“Aw...” John’s brow crumpled. “Hey, don’t be like that. I’m sorry.”

“I know you’re just—” She and John always teased each other, but now, for the first time, the problems with her sex life were spilling over into their friendship. “I’m on edge about something else.”

“Is it the collection?” He leaned back in his seat and shifted his legs. The corner table had about as much room as an airplane seat, nowhere near John-sized, so she didn’t blame him for the invasion. She shifted her knees out of the way, her calf glancing across the leather of his outstretched boot before she tucked both feet underneath her chair, trying to ignore how uncomfortable the position was.

“No. I’m excited about the collection. Apparently it’s her nephew, who inherited a case of letters and photographs and negatives. He’s not doing too well, healthwise—that’s the grim side of our field, we deal with a lot of dying and desperate people—and he called in an antiques dealer for an appraisal. This guy had no idea what he was doing, or else he’s a lowballing sleaze. One of the two. The nephew was so angry he threw the appraisal on the ground and walked away. This was at a public sale, and Julio happened to be there.”

“That’s some cloak-and-dagger shit. I’m impressed.” The lazy smile he usually wore did seem more...appreciative. Sincere. When he put his arms on the table, she tried not to let the searing colors and writhing patterns on his right arm distract her.

She looked right in his eyes. “So this is really delicate and time-sensitive, and you can’t tell anyone else. I have to get to him. I have to convince him that Saylor University Special Collections is where the collection needs to be. Sometimes it’s not about money as much as legacy. Although the money’s obviously a factor.”

John nodded, but his eyes had glazed over again. Too much academic jargon. Not enough sexy scandal.

“The appraisal mentions something called insertion images,” she added, keeping her voice cool and disaffected.

He blinked and sucked in a breath.

“And pearl rope bondage. Or maybe it was rope pearl bondage?” It was getting to be more of an effort staying cool than she’d imagined. Oh well. John would assume her excitement was due to the rarity, not the special aspects of the collection. “And something about a silver circle—a napkin ring maybe?—held in her mouth in the same style as a modern-day, umm, let me check—” She’d always been good at pretending ignorance; it was a skill that came in handy when she found something valuable but vastly underpriced at a flea market or estate sale and didn’t want to see that number go up. And now, apparently, when she didn’t want to let her best friend know too much about her sexual proclivities.

“Ring gag. A 1930s ring gag.”

Her face flared with heat, hearing him talk like that, so matter-of-factly. “So you know the right words.” Wait, did she want him to answer that? What was that, an accusation? A question? Was she implying something? About John?

He nodded. And then he shook his head. Strange. John was hardly ever indecisive. He must have noticed her suspicious look and flashed his empty hands in a show of innocence. “What? I watch porn! I mean, that kind of stuff is practically mainstream now. No big deal. Everybody knows about it.”

“Do they?” She drawled, regaining her footing at the sight of his...what was it, distress? Not embarrassment, surely. Not from the guy who’d crashed a spring break bikini contest by competing in a banana hammock and gotten the numbers of several legitimate entrants for his trouble.

“Well, not
you
apparently. But you could check the course listings for bondage studies.” He snorted. “No, no, no, no need to look anything up, I got it. Kink 102, with a special presentation on, uh, ball gags, by the foremost authority in the world on adult novelties, Professor Dick Lickenstein, PhD—”

“Would you stop it? For your information, I’m planning on reading through
several
academic histories of sexual paraphernalia tonight. See, my job isn’t boring at all. And where’s the defensiveness coming from?” She gave him a sideways look. “Are you watching porn at work? Again?”

“That wasn’t me! I told you, it was a student assistant who pulled up the tentacle penis thing. They’re all sex-crazed maniacs, especially the anime fangirls. I’ve already asked my boss to put a web filter on the network.”

“Uh-huh. Uh-huh.” Robin nodded, crossing her half-asleep legs. She wished John would be more considerate about where he sprawled. On the other hand, it was nice to just be close to someone. Even John.
A
warm body’s a warm body
.

Ew.
Standards
.

“Seriously, I’m excited. I mean, I’m excited for you. About your career. And I would
love
to see more Irina Mareau pictures. She’s an important cultural figure.”

“Thanks.” Even though she wouldn’t say it, she was glad she’d come to see him. He was the one constant in her life after moving to the States and the only friend she’d really stayed in touch with since her undergrad. She trusted him not to air her dirty laundry or tell her any white lies. Sure, he might bust her chops a bit, but at least he knew, too, when to scale it back, when he’d pushed her too hard or in the wrong way.

God, she could trust him with anything, really. Even...

“Okay, I’m starving. Let’s get in line for some burgers, and then you can show me the appraisal.” He put his hand on his heart, tipped his head and cast his eyes to the ceiling, posing like a trickster angel. “I won’t tell a soul, cross my heart and stick a ring gag in my mouth.”

She made a rude noise and kicked his shin.

* * *

John enjoyed her company enough that he’d have walked her back to the library even if she
didn’t
have a promised treasure trove of vintage dirty pictures. With insertion. And rope bondage. And ring gags.
Damn.

Watching buttoned-up-real-fucking-life-naughty-librarian Robin discussing
that
had been quite the exercise in self-control. Worst part being, he didn’t know whether the control he was exerting was to rein in the urge to embarrass her or launch himself across the table at her.

Not thinking about Carol-slash-Kari sexually was dead easy. But Robin, little don’t-call-me-pixie Robin, didn’t walk or talk like a teenager. He’d known her way back then, and she’d changed with the years, wrapped a silky grace around an iron core of determination. He’d erase that stupid nickname from his vocabulary, if it really bothered her that much.

When a rush of students exiting class forced them into single file and he fell in line behind her, his eyes immediately fell on the practiced womanly sway of her boyish hips as she navigated the halls in her sky-high heels. Other girls would teeter in shoes like that, taking silly mincing steps, but Robin strode around like they were cybernetic implants, enhancing rather than hobbling her.

A woman like her could be a wet dream playing up the gamine with ballet flats and baby doll dresses, but Robin seemed bound and determined to look like a six-foot-tall Swedish model, even if she was in the completely wrong body. Er, not that her androgynous figure was wrong, far (far, far) from it, more that she always seemed somewhat at odds with it. Those platform heels, for example—totally overcompensating.

Not that he would ever say so aloud.

She pivoted seamlessly and turned on him. He worried she’d caught him staring at her ass, but the look on her face was more wistful, preoccupied. “Have you ever done internet dating?” she asked.

“Yes?” he said, tentatively. He felt like he’d walked into a minefield. Sure, she’d talked to him about her ex-boyfriend, and he’d told her highly sanitized versions of his own exploits with women (and men)...not that he’d ever call
that
dating. If she was at the point of actually asking for his advice, though, she must be in pretty dire straits. No wonder she was on edge today.

“Is it always this bad? Or is it only this bad for women? Or is it just me?” She sighed and looked away.

“Um... bad? How?” He had a quick thrill of fear for her safety, which he squashed. If she were in danger in any way, she wouldn’t ask about it in such a roundabout fashion. Or at least he hoped so.

She grabbed him by the sleeve of his shirt and pulled him into a nearby lecture hall, recently emptied of roughly two hundred undergrads, if the garbage littering the desks and floor was any indication. She fell into one of the end row seats, and he was quick to sit beside her. Hell, it must be bad if she had to deliver the news sitting down. Or maybe her shoes were just hurting her feet.

“I thought with all the algorithms and the detailed profiles it would be a little bit more, I don’t know, precise.” She twisted her lip, as if she was genuinely perplexed by the fact that the world wasn’t as neatly categorized as her collections. “I keep going on...dates, but it’s always the wrong guy. I write down what I’m like and what I want and they don’t
read
it, or they rewrite it in their brains somehow. If they can even fucking write. Half of them are just this side of illiterate. One guy spelled orgasm ‘oargasm’, if you can believe it. Like ‘oar’ that you row a boat with? But even among the ones who can spell—which is already a small pool—I have my profile set for casual encounters, and I’ve got guys wanting to sign contracts on the first date.”

Contracts?

Robin continued, as if she hadn’t even noticed her own bizarre wording. “Or they say they’re buff and then they turn out to look like Kevin James. Or they want to buy me a boob job. Or—oh God—they want me to call them Daddy.” She made an exaggerated gagging sound. Not the sexy kind of gagging sound, either—
oh hell no
,
Johnny Boy
,
do not go down that path now
.

“Well, have you considered just dating the old-fashioned way? You know, in person? Personally I think the internet gives you too much information about people. Like there are plenty of guys you’d probably click with on a first date, have a good time and you’d already be shacking up with him by the time you found out he couldn’t spell orgasm. You know?”

“As you keep reminding me, I’m a boring librarian. The men I meet in person are all extremely old, extremely paunchy and extremely socially stunted. Great when you’re tracking down rare Nazi books, not so much when you want to go dancing.” She had a crooked smile on her face now, which heartened him a little. No, she wasn’t desperately lonely, she was only going through a rough patch. She’d handle it like she always did, with humor and stubbornness, and she’d find someone. Someone right for her, who’d give her what she wanted
and
what she needed.

“You’ll find someone,” he said. “There’s no way you won’t. Shit, I can’t really give you advice based on my own history, but I do know people who’ve had some of the same problems. Just take it slow, be safe, keep at it.”

What a weak-sauce thing to say. Generic. None of his usual verve or flare. He might as well have said
attagirl
or
there’s plenty of fish in the sea
.

Which she could use her
oargasms
to navigate
,
ha ha.

The truth was, he didn’t have any experience in this kind of thing. He didn’t date, he
played
, and it was easy for him to find people who wanted to be played with. Even if he did do the normal movie-and-dinner dating thing, he wasn’t sure he could really be objective enough about Robin to give her helpful advice. Especially not after she’d just dropped the word “contract” in casual dating conversation like it was a remotely normal thing to say. He tugged surreptitiously at his shirt collar.

“That’s kind of cliché, but it still helps,” she said, although he had a feeling it hadn’t helped at all. “Thanks. I’d better go now, but I’ll tell you as soon as I get any news on the collection.” She stood to go, and so did he, and when she tossed her wavy blond hair over her shoulder a strand hit him on the neck, like a trailing fingertip grazing lightly over his skin.

“Anytime,” he said. “Anytime at all.”

Chapter Two

My best friend tells me I need to give up the algorithms and get a little less technical about my love life. Apparently most people, and thus most doms, simply aren’t as dedicated to careful categorization as I am. So my faith in the transparency of online profiles in helping us find compatible partners is misguided. And as wary as I am of the unpredictability of real-life hookups, I’m just about desperate enough to jump clear out of my comfort zone. I hear a local club here in L.A. has a drink special on margaritas this Friday, so I’m going to give it a try. If you’re there, please don’t date-rape me. Although I suppose if you’re the kind of guy to date-rape a woman you’re probably not the kind of guy to respond well to being asked nicely. Oh well.

 

 

Love,
The Picky Submissive

 

 

On second thought, she deleted the date-rape joke. Even for a compulsive blogger like her, there was a line when it came to oversharing on the internet and she was pretty sure that crossed it. She stared at the blinking cursor for a minute or two longer, then typed:

 

 

So if you’re in the area and happen to see a petite sub in Louboutins, come say hi!
As long as you can spell orgasm.

 

 

Satisfied with the new ending, she saved the post, closed the window, shut the laptop and put it on her bedside table, on top of her library-bound sexual paraphernalia tomes.

Damn, now she had the opposite problem as earlier today—she couldn’t get
work
out of her mind. No use fighting it. She adjusted her reading pillow, slung the laptop back onto her stomach and opened up the list of Mareau contacts.

She narrowed down the list of leads on the nephew, then stalled out in the next hour, ending up at eight men in their mid-seventies with the same unfortunately common name. She
could
just bite the bullet and call them one by one, but this was a delicate operation, not the sort of thing where you called the guy up and said, “Hello, Mr. Henderson? I was wondering if you were the Henderson who was recently trying to sell sexy photos of his dead aunt?”

If you had the wrong man, you risked him blabbing to the wrong people. If you had the right one, you risked insulting him with your lack of research and discretion. Ugh. There had to be more research she could do. Some way to narrow down the choices. Sadly, it didn’t seem likely she could do this sight unseen.

Julio had seen the nephew from a distance. But she doubted the guy was going to have a facial tattoo or something to make him easily recognizable from description alone. After all, how easily distinguishable could any group of seventy-year-old dudes all named Henderson be? It looked like hardly any of them had public accounts on social media, as well.

She and Julio were going to have to check them out in person. Come up with a secret code gesture or something for Julio to signal if they had the right Henderson or not. And a cover story for why they were there if it was the
wrong
Henderson.

Selling Girl Scout cookies? Boy, would the charming gents of KinkLife.com enjoy her acting out
that
scenario.

Better go with door-to-door proselytizing. They’d start Saturday morning, which meant she shouldn’t have more than a couple margaritas at Miss Kitty’s Fetish Friday. Hopefully she’d meet a few people in the life there—doms to follow up with or subs to commiserate and compare notes with.

It was a shame she couldn’t be more like John. He was the opposite of picky. Back in college, they’d roomed together for a year in a house with four other people and his bedroom door might as well have just had a sock permanently glued to the doorknob.

Maybe she shouldn’t make assumptions about his sex life. For an extroverted guy with an active social life, he didn’t reveal a lot of details about what he got up to sexually. Who knew; maybe he was
incredibly
picky, but he had so many options to start with, it only appeared like he was indiscriminate. After all, what was the real difference, mathematically, between picking one person out of ten versus picking ten out of a hundred? Whatever the case, he was allowed to keep his secrets.

She’d gotten in trouble before, assuming things about John. That was long ago and water under the bridge, but the embarrassment still lingered.

Don’t think about John
.

She pulled up a different tab and thought of the BDSM social event where she’d arranged her first introductory play sessions. Those had been safe, fun, exhilarating...until a few of the regulars started paying her an uncomfortable amount of attention. The worst wouldn’t back off until she mentioned a restraining order. No, that door was closed and she did
not
want to open it again.

Instead, she pulled up a nightclub whose web address she knew by heart, even though she’d never mustered enough courage to go there. The splash page was black with pink lettering and a stylized pink cat that winked at her as she moved the cursor over it. The cat draped over a text box that read Miss Kitty’s Club. 21+ only Click Here.

Her stomach fluttered, and the laptop suddenly felt unbearable, bulky and overheated. She shifted it down to her upper thighs. Oh, there was a new video link for Fetish Friday. She clicked on it eagerly. There wouldn’t be sex—it wasn’t
that
kind of club, she wasn’t bold enough to take that step, not without a dom accompanying her—but the video looked fascinating.

Okay,
fascinating
was probably a pretty generous word, as if her interest in the video was purely academic.

Sexy. Hot. Yeah, one of those.

Sometimes all she had to do was imagine herself as the visual center of the ritual, being properly clothed and positioned for service, and that would take her away, at least mentally—oh God, it was
so fucking good
, even in the abstract. And she’d had a taste of how to make it real with a man. She could do it again. It was worth waiting for, to do it right. The right man. No, not only the right man. The right
dom
.

She just had to find him.

* * *

Dammit.

This was not working. Andy was naked, hot as hell and oh-so-suggestible, but John was hopelessly distracted. Which was not fair. At all. Okay, but he could still save the situation. He needed to satisfy the urge that was distracting him, and then he could get back to the task at hand.

He circled Andy’s kneeling form, taking slow, predatory steps and tracing a palm over the smooth curves of Andy’s slight shoulders.

“Comfortable?” he asked conversationally. “Nothing chafing? Jaw all right?”

Andy gave him two high-pitched grunts through his bit gag:
yes
.

John ruffled his hair. “Good, good. In that case, I’m gonna need you to get down on your hands and knees for me now, back nice and straight. I have a bit of work to do and I need a laptop table. There’s my good boy, be back in a second.”

By the time he’d returned to the living room with his laptop, Andy was on all fours, head down, back pin-straight, arched at just the right angle to make a nice flat surface for John to work on. John would have to make sure to reward him for this later.

He set down his laptop on Andy’s lower back, opened it and took a seat on the couch. “I need to concentrate on what I’m doing here, so that means I need you to be absolutely quiet. Understand?”

Two grunts.

“If you get uncomfortable at all, if you need to take a piss, or stretch, or my computer gets too hot on your back, you safeword out, okay? Show me.”

Three grunts.

“Oh,
good boy
. You know, I think you may get to come tonight.”

Andy replied with a happy whine, which John immediately shushed. He’d let it slide, though; Andy was very good, but he wasn’t a damn saint, and John hadn’t let him come in nearly a week. No wonder he was excited.

And John was excited too, make no mistake. He just needed to do this one thing first, and then Andy could have his full attention for as long as it took. Or rather, for as long as John
wanted
it to take.

He grinned to himself as he opened up his web browser.
Okay
,
Dr.
Robin Lessing
,
time to give up your secrets.
No vanilla lady talks about contracts that way
,
like it’s a completely normal word to use when you’re discussing your love life.

But how to sniff her out?

First instinct would be to check dating sites, kinky and non; after all, one of those was apparently the source of her troubles. She wouldn’t be using any sort of identifiable information about herself, which left him with early thirties, blonde, petite and a possible shoe fetish, a description that fit half of the women in L.A.—well, the ones brave enough to admit they could age past twenty-nine, at least.

He still spent a few minutes scrolling through local KinkLife profiles, and not surprisingly, there were
thousands
of women that fit his search parameters. He doubted her profile would have a clear face pic to help him along either.

That was all right. There were other avenues to pursue.

He and Robin had lived together, after all. They were best friends. He knew her habits. Her vices. Her addiction to blogging.

Back in college, she’d kept blogs for her various classes, detailing her fellow students and her professors. She’d had a shoe blog for a while. A book blog. She had a relatively widely read professional blog about her academic interests. She lived to document things, to discern patterns and make meanings. No
way
she wasn’t blogging about her adventures in kink.

He stroked Andy’s nape as he brainstormed search terms, and good boy that he was, Andy didn’t make a sound, didn’t shift or twitch. John would have to wrap this up soon, though. It was already a little ethically suspect that he was doing this with a sub in the room; it would cross the line into downright unacceptable if it caused Andy undue strain.