Club Shadowlands by Cherise Sinclair

Conversation. They were having a conversation. “Abuse?”

  “As with any alternate lifestyle, BDSM can attract unstable personalities. Here, at least, I try to ensure that consensual is more than a catchphrase. But even with screening and training procedures, we still have some problems.” His narrowed gaze flickered from the plate to her hands. With a frown, he set his tea down on the table. “Are you no longer hungry?”

  She shrugged, feeling gawky and inept. Why couldn’t she be all slim and everything, and why did her big butt never bother her unless she was attracted to a man?

  He shook his head and smoothly changed seats, joining her on the couch. “Come here, pet.” With an unyielding grip, he slid her over until her thighs and shoulders rubbed his.

  Could he feel the way her hips squished?

  “Jessica, in case you haven’t noticed, I like your body,.” He gripped her shoulder, pushing her against the back of the couch, then trailed his fingers down her neck, across her breasts, her stomach.

  Heat flowed into her like a current. She moved uncomfortably when his hand settled on her pudgy thigh.

  “I like round.” He held her gaze with his own as his hand stroked her hip. “I like abundance.” His hand moved to cup her breast, and he smiled as the weight settled into his palm. And then he slid her skirt up, and his fingers wrapped around her thigh, moving upward until she squeaked and closed her legs against him.

  He bit her earlobe, a tiny jolt of pain, and whispered, “I fully intend to bury myself—very, very deep—in all your softness until you’re squirming under me. Until you’re panting for release.”

  God, she was panting now, and the whole world seemed to have caught fire.

  Ever so slowly, his hand stroked down her leg, and then he sat back, leaving her feeling flushed and needy. He didn’t put her skirt back, she noticed.

  Picking up a mushroom cap, he held it to her lips. “Eat, Jessica,” he said. “You’ll need your strength for later.”

  When her mouth dropped open at the tantalizing threat, he popped the morsel into her mouth. One warm arm around her shoulders, he continued to feed her, bite by bite, talking in his deep voice about the different people in the club. Cullen, who was a Dom as she’d thought and who went through the subs like wildfire, never taking one for more than a couple of nights. Daniel, who hadn’t been happy since losing his wife three years past, also liked curvy women. Adrienne, a sub, who’d disobey just to get a whipping. Cody wanted to be a twenty-four/seven slave, and Joey was searching for a mistress.

  When the food was gone, Sir smiled down at her. “Feeling better?”

  She was, amazingly enough. “Yes. Thank you,” she said, meaning more than just the food. She felt comfortable and settled.

  “Good. Now tell me why you think your body is unattractive?”

  And just like that, she was off base again. Huffing out a breath, she pretended to watch two people walking past. “I don’t know where you got that—”

  He cupped a hand on her cheek and forced her to meet his gaze. “Don’t evade the question, pet. Was it your parents? Men?”

  Why did she feel even more naked now than when he’d dried her off in the bathroom? She didn’t need to talk about this with him—with him of all people.

  He waited. Damn him.

  “Mom, at times. And there were some men who liked their women to be thin.” She shrugged, tried to look away. His hand didn’t move. As his thumb stroked her lower lip, he could probably feel it quiver, dammit.

  “Well-meaning parents can mess up a person’s head, true. And men like that? They should pick skinny women and leave the soft, round ones for men who can appreciate them.” He shook his head in disgust. “Sometimes I think our country is filled with idiots.”

  He really did like her body. The thought was heady. Freeing. “You’re a nice man,” she said.

  “Of course I am.” His eyes crinkled, and she saw the glimmer of a smile that reminded her of who had fondled her bare butt, had swung a paddle against that same bare butt. His smile widened.

  “Ah, right.” She rose to her feet, relieved when he didn’t stop her. “How about you point me toward the facilities.”

  When he stood, looking down at her, she felt like that kitten he kept calling her. A kitten next to a wolf that wasn’t hungry…right this minute. But danger was there, glinting in those dark gray eyes. She watched him warily as he set his hand low on her back then deliberately stroked the curves of her butt.

  She frowned at him.

  Before she could even react, he yanked her up against his chest. His hand behind her back held her pinned as his other hand roamed over her bottom—her still tender bottom—so intimately she was embarrassed and aroused all at once.

  “First lesson, little sub,” he said very softly. “Frowning at your Dom can be risky.” One finger traced the crack between her buttocks through the silky skirt material, and she quivered under his touch.

  “You’re not my—” The carnal look in his eyes froze her tongue. “Um. Right. A lesson. Thanks.”

  He chuckled and released her, the lack of his warm body against hers like a sudden chill.

  Shaking her head, she headed for the bathroom, striving for dignity but moving a little too fast to accomplish the effect. She glanced back before going through the door. A man was talking to Sir, but Sir’s gaze was on her, a faint smile on his lips.

  The sensual flush ran through her right down to her toes.

  Chapter Six

  Zachary listened to James and his ideas for a scene with his fairly new sub, but his mind was more on Jessica than the conversation. He could tell her thoughts were on him and the way he’d made her feel. She was confused…and very aroused. Excellent.

  He turned his attention to James, replayed mentally what the young man had said. New sub, inhibited. Wonderful in private but he couldn’t get her off during public scenes.

  “Then don’t do them,” Zachary said. His college-age son would have added a duh at the end.

  “But I love scening in the club, Z. It’s something I don’t want to give up. Hell, she may not work out for me after all.” James sighed, his unhappiness clear.

  Zachary put thoughts of Jessica away so he could focus on the problem. James and Brandy were good together, each meeting the other’s needs. It would be a shame for something so minor to cause a division. “You can scene without her reaching climax.”

  “Yeah, but like that’s the whole point of a session, at least it is for me.”

  “All right then.” Zachary frowned. “If Brandy comes easily when alone with you, then she’s inhibited by being on display. If you can bring her to orgasm once or twice in a public scene, she might well be fine after that.”

  “Yeah, that’s what I think. She kind of likes doing stuff in front of people…just not getting off.”

  “A woman is at her most vulnerable then, both physically and emotionally.” Zachary glanced at the restroom door. Jessica should be out soon. “James, let me give you a few tips and—”

  “Shit, Z, I’m not good with remembering instructions. Can you show me? Do one of your scene lessons?”

  Education was a priority at the club, and although inducing a public climax wasn’t part of the usual training, it was probably a concern to many of the newer Doms and subs. “All right. Next week.”

  “Cool. I’ll make sure I’ve got the night off.” James’s grin showed his relief before he nodded toward the restroom. “You know, I’ve seen your sub before. She visits the animal shelter every week.”

  James was a vet tech, Zachary remembered. “Doing what?”

  “Socializes the animals; you know, walks the dogs, snuggles with the cats. The animals adore her.”

  “Good to know.” A sweetheart, like he’d thought.

  “Yeah, thought I’d mention it. She’s not the type to boast.”

  “No.” The woman had depths he hadn’t explored yet, physically or emotionally.

  “Well, thanks for the help, Z,” Jam
es said. “I’m going to go tell Brandy about next week.”

  Right after the younger man left, Jessica returned.

  Zachary turned to Jessica, savoring her straightforward emotions after the noisy jangle of the young man’s. Her mind was so clear; he occasionally could get images rather than just emotions.

  Right now, her barriers were back up, her arousal down. She was like hot springs on a high mountain, all that heat covered over with new-fallen snow. Now how long could she make that last, he wondered, amused. “Let’s head toward the other side of the room.”

  The intent look Sir had just given Jessica unsettled her.

  In the restroom, she’d had a firm talk with herself as she cooled. She wouldn’t make an idiot of herself by getting all hot and bothered. Sure, she wanted to discover more about the bondage stuff, but not to the point of relinquishing all control. “What’s on the other side?”

  “Just a place to sit more comfortably,” Sir said easily. “You have a soft voice, and it’s hard to hear you when we’re close to the dance floor.”

  He guided her toward an area filled with small groups of chairs and couches. People were sitting and talking quietly. Well, some of them. They passed a couch where a woman knelt at a man’s feet openly playing with his cock.

  Jessica turned her eyes away and blushed. “People sure aren’t modest here, are they?” she muttered.

  His chuckle sent tingles through her. Hell, no matter what he did, she got tingles, as if every skin cell on her body had been sensitized to his touch or voice. Just the feel of his hand stroking her bare arm made her toes curl.

  Finding an empty couch, he took a seat and pulled her down beside him. He was so close that his scent wrapped around her as his weight tilted her into him. She clasped her hands together in her lap. “Now what?” she asked in a bright voice.

  “Now we get serious.” His dark, rich baritone made her stomach quiver. “Why did you come back in?”

  The unexpectedness of the question made her insides tighten. Why did he keep asking her these impossible probing questions, dammit? How could she possibly answer this? “I didn’t come for… I was just curious.” Curious to see what he could do to her. Her breath quickened.

  “Curious to see? Or curious to do?” He laid one big hand over both of hers.

  “Mostly to see.” Really.

  “No curiosity as to what being restrained feels like?”

  She grimaced. “I don’t think so.”

  “Well, kitten, let’s find out.” With one hand, he gripped her wrists, pinning her hands on her lap as he cupped her cheek with his other hand.

  He kissed her. When his tongue rubbed against hers, warmth filled her. She tried to bring her hands up to touch him only she couldn’t, and surprise, then heat, ran through her. His mouth moved down the side of her neck, teeth closing gently on the skin, giving her goose bumps.

  Again she tried to move. Again his fingers held her in place, and she actually felt herself dampen.

  “You have soft skin that begs to be touched,” he whispered, licking the hollow in her collarbone. “Nipples that want to be sucked.” With his free hand, he ran his finger across the top of her low-cut shirt, stroking the top of her breasts.

  She held her breath, wanting him to go further. Not wanting him to. Dammit, she didn’t like being so confused.

  Smiling, he pushed the elastic top lower until her breasts were half out. His fingertips slid under the shirt to touch one nipple, and it beaded into hardness. Her mouth closed against a sigh, and then she froze as she realized he wasn’t looking down, but studying her face, her expressions. As his gaze captured hers, his fingers lightly circled her nipple, around and around, until she could feel need growing inside her, until she was biting her lip. Too many sensations: his hard hand restraining her, his fingers on her body. Urgency filled her as her core throbbed.

  “Feels different, doesn’t it?” he whispered. ““Do you want more?”

  “No.” He saw her too clearly, and that was as frightening as how her body was reacting. “No, I don’t.”

  His jaw tightened. “I really do know when you lie, little one. For your comfort, I haven’t called you on it before, but now…” His steady gaze pinned her in place. “Now you will be honest with me.”

  “I—” She shook her head, unwilling to expose her need. Realizing she couldn’t lie.

  “I think we’ll go and satisfy some of your curiosity and some of that need you don’t want to admit to.” He gave her a level look. “Your answer is ‘yes, Sir.’”

  Her heart was hammering like she’d been running for miles, and her hands grew sweaty in his grasp. Do this? Let him…do what he wanted to her? It was why she’d returned, but the idea was insane. Yet the thought of his hands on her, taking her… She couldn’t answer, could only gaze at him helplessly.

  He smiled, pulled her to her feet, and led her past the bar, raising a hand at the bartender.

  “Got it,” Cullen said.

  Sir opened a locked door marked Private and guided her into a small room down a hall. With a wave of his hand by the door frame, two wall sconces glowed with soft, flickering lights.

  She halted just inside the door, one wrist still in his grip. The throbbing music from the club was a soft murmur in her ears as she looked around. The dark-paneled room held a massive wrought iron bed with a shimmering sapphire cover, an antique armoire, and nothing else. She licked her lips. What was she doing? This was too much, too irrevocable. She pulled against his grip.

  “No, Jessica,” he murmured. “You’re here because you want to be. If you leave, you’ll always wonder what could have been.”

  How did he know that?

  Her breath came hard as he led her to the bed, but he simply sat on the edge and pulled her onto his lap, clasping her hand. “First of all, this time between us is simply for pleasure. Trust me to know how to give you that pleasure. Can you do that?” His eyes were intent as if he could see into her soul.

  She nodded then stiffened. “You won’t whip me…or anything, right?”

  “No, kitten.” He stroked a finger down her cheek. “You’ve experienced the worst of the physical punishments I hand out.”

  Her muscles relaxed slightly. “Okay.”

  “Second. If you become too frightened or are somehow in pain, your safe word is red. If you use that word, everything stops. It’s the equivalent of calling nine-one-one, so don’t use it lightly.”

  A way out. That was good. She realized her hands were cold within his warm grasp.

  “But, Jessica.” He tipped her chin up to pin her with a hard gray stare. “If you’re hurting or frightened, simply tell me.” His lips curled up. “If I’m doing my job, I will know; nonetheless, I expect you to share what you feel with me.”

  Bare her thoughts, her emotions? Could even sex with him be as intimate? Both would leave her vulnerable… This really wasn’t a good idea, was it? “Sir, I think—”

  “You think too much sometimes,” he murmured, releasing her hands to tangle his fingers in her hair. “This is enjoyment, not a college exam.” Tilting her head back, his mouth closed on hers in a tender kiss. He kissed her slowly, thoroughly, as if he had all the time in the world. Her skin heated and suddenly she was ready to feel his hands on her, wanted his hands on her. Her fingers curled in his silky hair, and she kissed him back until her head spun.

  She hardly noticed when he rose to his feet, his mouth still on hers, when he pulled her to her feet. He stepped back, leaving her out of breath, her lips tingling.

  His eyes were dark, his mouth in a firm line as he turned her to face the bed. Bending her forward, he set her hands on the cool silk cover.

  “Don’t move your hands from where I put them,” he said. “Do you understand?”

  Oh… It was starting. Her heart gave a hard thud. As her fingers curled the quilt into bunches, she nodded.

  “Say, ‘Yes, Sir,’ so I know you are hearing me.”

  “Yes, Sir,” she whi
spered, and shivered.

  “Very nice.” He stroked her cheek. Then she felt his hands on her waist, undoing her skirt. His fingers were firm, sure. When her skirt pooled around her feet, leaving her bare from the waist down, she jerked and started to stand.

  “Stay in place, little one.” His hand pressed on her back, unmoving until she resumed her position, hands braced on the bed. And then he touched her, massaging her sore buttocks, murmuring in pleasure. “You have a beautiful ass, Jessica. Just right for my hands.”

  His fingers slid down the crack between her cheeks, touched her folds so intimately that she gasped. “You’re wet for me already,” he rumbled. He slid his fingers through her wetness over and over until her slit was on fire and her hips squirmed uncontrollably. But she managed to keep her hands still.

  “You didn’t move. Good girl,” he said, and the approval in his voice filled her with pleasure.

  “Turn around now.” He helped her stand and smoothly pulled her shirt over her head, leaving her completely naked. “Ah, you are a beautiful woman, Jessica,” he said, his eyes heating as he took his time looking her over, his gaze as warm as his hands had been.

  He really did act like she was pretty. She could listen to that all night.

  His warm hands ran up her arms. “Your skin is like expensive velvet, kitten,” he murmured before stroking across her collarbone. Her nipples tightened even before he touched them and stroked them with his fingertips into aching need.

  “Up on the bed now,” he said, his voice deep, smooth. He pushed her ahead of him until she reached the middle. With steady hands, he rolled her onto her back; the way he handled her so easily startled her. He straddled her, one knee on each side of her waist. She stared up at him. His jaw was strong, darkly shadowed, and his firm lips curved a little in a smile.

  He stroked her hair. “Do you trust me not to hurt you, Jessica?”

  She nodded, and he waited until she whispered, “Yes, Sir.”

  “Good girl.” His eyes never leaving hers, he picked up her hand and lifted it toward the head of the bed, wrapped a soft strap around it. He did the other. So quickly, so easily, and then he moved to lie beside her.

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