Undone Lovers, Book 1
There was nothing Addie Sanchez couldn’t fix with either needle and thread or WD-40. For more complex problems, rebel-red lipstick was her second line of defense.
Addie slid needle through fabric with the care and precision the vintage satin-and-lace evening gown deserved, squinting at her stitches as she sat on the floor, too engrossed to adjust the lamp. The black-and-taupe dress hugged the mannequin’s form, tight but tailored, unlike modern clothes that relied on elastic.
She tied off the thread, smoothed the fabric and stuck her needle with its dangling taupe strand in the pincushion strapped to her wrist. Addie looked up from the hemline. Her friend and boss, though neither woman ever used the second term, stood in the door separating the back room from the retail floor of the shop.
“Pretty in pink.” Addie stood and examined her friend’s dress with its sweetheart neck and full skirt. The dress was bubble-gum pink with white piping along the breasts and half-cup pockets. Lulu had paired it with leopard-print peep-toes and a matching leopard barrette in her flaming-red hair. “Those shoes are killer. They make the outfit.”
Lulu kicked up her heel to examine her foot. “They are cute, aren’t they? But the best part of this outfit is the dress—it’s an Addie original.”
Addie smiled and slipped on the canvas-and-cork wedges she’d kicked off to sit on the floor. “That pattern looks good on everyone, especially someone with perky boobs like yours.”
Lulu simpered and petted her cleavage. “They are pretty girls, aren’t they? And what are you wearing? Is this new?”
“Finished the top last night, what do you think?”
Lulu twirled her finger and Addie cocked her hip and swung around so her friend could see the modified halter top she’d designed. The studded faux leather straps crossed in the back to show off her shoulders. Glossy black buttons ran down the front and complemented the black-and-white Dia de los Muertos print. Today she was rocking it with tight, high-waisted jeans cuffed wide at midcalf.
“It’s seriously cute, but then everything you make is. Got a name for it?”
“Maybe the Muertos Mary Top? I haven’t figured out if it’s worth it to try making some to sell. The straps are a bitch and the hidden side zipper takes forever.”
“If you can I know it’ll fly off the shelves.” Lulu’s voice was both earnest and encouraging and the retro application of eyeliner made her eyes seem as big and round as doll eyes.
Addie’s shoulders hunched. Lulu’s conviction that Addie would make it as some big-deal clothing designer was wonderful, but probably unrealistic. Mornings like since, spent in the cramped back room, were hard on a girl’s dreams.
One wall was obscured by boxes of stock, while the other had a small sewing table, two dressmaker’s dummies positioned in front of it, one of which wore the beige dress. The corner where Addie both repaired vintage clothes and designed and sewed original pieces was usually one of her favorite places in the world. An early morning phone call from her family, which had included a million questions about how she was doing, what she was doing, and how her big plans were going, had left her feeling more than a little defeated.
The front doorbell chimed. It was 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, early for any of L.A.’s laid-back rockabilly crew, most of whom were probably still recovering from a night spent dancing, cruising or partying. It was not, however, too early for the tourists who made up most of the store’s business.
Addie slid the elastic band of the pincushion off her wrist as Lulu ducked into the office—a tiny hole of a room, biting a piece out of the sewing and stock room. With a quick check of her lipstick in the small mirror they’d hung specifically for that purpose, Addie hurried into the store.
As expected, a trio of tourists—middle-America parents plus teenager—had wandered in and were staring around in awe. Addie slipped behind the counter, propping one elbow on the glass, ass in the air. Pin-up girl pose.
Lulu L’amore was one of a string of posh white-fronted stores on Melrose in Hollywood. Their neighbors were a designer men’s shoe store on one side and a dog café and “barkery” on the other, both of which had modern, sparse aesthetics designed to highlight every piece of merchandise, as if it was a museum.
But walking into Lulu’s was like walking from an ultramodern loft into the Mexican barrio in 1940s L.A. The walls were concrete gray and spray-painted with street-art-style depictions of pinup girls, flowers, palm trees and cars. The floor was wood, tossed with leopard-and zebra-print rugs, the display tables built from shiny chrome car parts mounted with glass. Racks of dresses, skirts and shirts lined three of the walls. There was a small selection of guys’ items in the back, most of which were shirts, hats and wallet chains.
Addie knew she was as much a part of the decoration as anything on the walls. The teenage boy tourist’s eyes got wide when he caught sight of her. She shifted her weight to her other foot, making sure her ass rocked in her tight pants.
He broke away from his parents, making a beeline for the counter. Picking up a cigarette holder studded with crystals in a cherry-bunch pattern, he pretended to look at it while ogling her breasts.
“Welcome to Lulu’s,” Addie purred. “You like it old school?”
“Old school? Oh yea, I’m totally old school. Like Tupac.”
Addie laughed. “Sugar baby, that’s not old school. I’m talking about rock when that’s what rebels knew.” She lowered her voice to a husky whisper. “I’m talking about Glen Glenn, Big Sandy and the Fly Right Boys. The kind of music that you can dance to.” Addie put her finger on the cigarette case, which the boy had been nervously twirling. “When there’s a little jive in the air, a man holds out his hand.” Addie took the cigarette case from him and, with the barest touch to his forefinger, turned his hand palm up. “A girl puts hers in it and lets him take her away.”
Two hats, a wallet chain, three CDs and a clutch for mom later, the tourists walked out happy and Addie slipped the four-hundred-dollar credit card receipt into the drawer.
Lulu emerged from the back office carrying a stack of mail and a cordless phone, heels clicking on the wood before being muted by carpet.
“I sold a few hats to a little boy who thought Tupac was old school.” Addie ducked down to grab the glass cleaner and a cloth, then circled to the front side of the counter wiping away the smudges left by the boy’s elbows. When her friend didn’t respond she looked up, concerned.
Lulu was standing there with a wild grin on her face. Her cream skin made her blue eyes sparkle, her upswept and curled hair picking up the sunlight that flooded through the floor-to-ceiling windows at the front of the shop.
“What is it?”
“I got a call on the business line for you—about you.”
“About me? What for?” The business line, separate from the shop’s line, was supposed to be for vendors only. Addie was a clerk and seamstress—there would be no reason for anyone to call her on that number.
“It’s for a modeling job.” Lulu clutched the phone as if it were an Oscar statue and squealed in delight.
Addie blinked, blinked again, then snatched the phone from Lulu, who had broken into an impromptu one-person Charleston. Yes, yes! This was exactly what she needed today. Something good. Something to indicate her life was moving forward.
She hit the voicemail button and mashed the phone against her ear.
“Hello, my name is Helen Renwald from C&C Productions. I’m looking for Adelita Sanchez. We ran across her photos and are interested in her for a project we are putting together. Please have her give us a call at—”
Addie threw herself across the counter, scrambling for a piece of paper and pen. With the phone sandwiched between her ear and shoulder, she scribbled the number. Lying over the counter, she hit the voicemail button again. She was barely able to hear the recorded message over the sound of her too-fast heartbeat.
“If I were a straight man I’d find this appealing.”
Addie looked over her shoulder to see Pissarro, the owner of the designer shoe store next door. Pissarro, who went by one name like Cher and whose real name was probably John or Bob, was thin, stylish and just edgy enough to be interesting—all the things a gay man in L.A. had to be if he wanted to play in the lively, glittery waters of West Hollywood. He was caustic and elegant and a good, if sharp-edged, friend
“Guess, guess! Someone called about a modeling job for Addie.”
“You didn’t give me time to guess.” Pissarro leaned against the counter next to Addie’s hip and pinched her thigh. “Oh, to be a woman and be accepted with fat thighs.”
“Fuck you.” Addie wiggled off the counter. “I’ve got the number. Should I call?”
“Of course! Why wouldn’t you?” Lulu demanded.
“Is it weird that they called instead of emailing?” Addie stared at the phone, fingers trembling slightly.
“Maybe? Oh who cares, call.” Lulu was vibrating with excitement.
“You think phone calls are weird? I must be getting old.” Pissarro sighed heavily.
“Pose. I’m taking a picture.” Lulu held up her phone. “I’m documenting your rise from Instagram sensation to rockabilly superstar, then on to fashion mogul.”
Addie puffed up her cheeks and then let out a slow breath. “Why did they call?” Now that the initial burst of excitement was ebbing, with each passing moment her enthusiasm faded.
Addie looked at Pissarro, whose eyes widened slightly as he realized why she was hesitating.
“Did they say what type of modeling they want you for?” He reached up to smooth down her Betty Page bangs, then touched her cheek with the back of his tanned finger. He was a bit of an ass, but he was a shrewd businessman, and, unlike Lulu, didn’t get carried away.
“No.” Addie looked at the scrap of paper she held, creasing it with her deep-indigo nail. That was the problem.
“Oh. You think they want…” Lulu’s voice trailed off as she slipped around behind the counter and pulled out an eight-by-ten portfolio—Addie’s portfolio.
When Lulu had opened an online store and needed models for the clothes, Addie had been a natural fit, not only because she looked the part, but because many of the exclusive pieces Lulu was selling had been designed by Addie. Between the two of them they’d modeled all the clothes in the store. A photographer friend had taken the photos in exchange for a few custom pieces and a bit of cash. That same friend had later asked Addie if she’d be interested in modeling lingerie for a store in San Diego. Addie didn’t consider herself a model, but with each modeling gig she gained social media followers, which in turn grew the Lulu L’amore online sales. Bit by bit, like by like, she was building a following, the kind of following that might one day translate into an audience for her own label.
She enjoyed working with Lulu, and would be forever grateful to her friend for giving her the opportunity to design and sell pieces, but Addie wanted more. She wanted to design clothes that would retail in every store in the country, then internationally. She wanted to bring the aesthetic she’d grown up with to the mainstream.
“It’s been months since the porn people called.” Pissarro patted her hand. Addie sighed.
The first lingerie gig had led to a second, then a third, until she’d been asked to model for a shoot recreating some of Betty Page’s most famous photos. Since Betty was one of Addie’s personal heroes—the hairstyle wasn’t a coincidence—she’d jumped at the chance. When she’d been asked to pose for hairbrush spankings, mock bondage and even with a bit in her mouth Addie hadn’t blinked. The sexy, powerful photos had shown that being feminine could still be tough, and Addie liked that.
What she hadn’t counted on was the flood of invitations to do pornography that had come her way once the ad campaign—which was for nail polish—came out. Overnight her social media accounts doubled in size, but while Lulu celebrated and start talking about business plans and investor meetings, Addie just felt slightly dirty. She wasn’t sure how many of those hundred thousand followers were hoping for something pornographic, rather than pictures of retro clothes, style advice and sewing tips.
Lulu flipped through the portfolio, past pictures of Addie with her hip cocked, arms up, modeling clothes they sold in the store, to the lingerie photos.
“You’re gorgeous, and these pics are gorgeous.” Lulu patted the photo like it was a pet.
“Of course she’s gorgeous. But they want her to be a gorgeous porn star.” Pissarro flicked his fingers in the air.
“So a few adult entertainment people called, but like he said, that was months ago. These people are calling now. What’s the last thing you posted to your account?”
Addie patted her stomach. “This top. Took a pic this morning.”
“See, then they’re not calling about porn.” Lulu grinned.
“But they called.” Addie was still stroking the paper with the phone number on it.
“I thought you put the office number up on your website?” Lulu frowned.
Addie shook her head. “The only people I gave that number to were the nail polish people. I wanted to seem more professional, giving them a business number.”
That meant that—Addie checked her note for the woman’s name—Helen Renwald was calling her because she’d seen the Betty Page photos. As much as Addie liked the photos themselves, they were proving to be a double-edged sword.
“Oh.” Lulu gently closed the portfolio. “I still think you should call.”
“Don’t pressure her.” Pissarro rolled his eyes at Lulu.
Though they claimed to be friends, Lulu’s enthusiasm didn’t always work well with Pissarro’s world-weary cynicism.
“I’m not pressuring her, I’m encouraging her! She’s amazing, and just because some people don’t understand the difference between art and porn doesn’t mean she should give up.”
Ignoring their bitching, Addie took the portfolio. Flipping through pages, she stopped when she reached the now-infamous pictures.
A blonde woman wearing a short, silky nightgown was bent at the waist, her forearms braced on the wall, legs spread. Addie stood beside her in heels, stockings, garter belt, corset and panties. She was holding up the hem of the blonde’s nightie with her left hand, the right bringing the wood back of a hairbrush down toward the blonde’s bare ass. Addie’s lips were inches from the other woman’s ear, but she was staring at the camera, her dark eyes mysterious.
The image was black and white except for the blood-red paint on Addie’s nails and the gold varnish on the nails of the girl she was spanking.
There was only one way to find out what they wanted. Addie walked away from the bickering pair and dialed.
* * * *
Helen flipped to the next picture. “Here’s another photo from this same series. I want you to remember that this is all just for a nail polish company.”
The dark-haired woman they were considering was posed against a black-and-white patterned wall. She wore a see-through black lace teddy with a black bra and panties underneath. Her legs were spread, arms down but held away from her sides. Wide black ribbon bound each wrist and disappeared into the edge of the photo. Her nails were creamy purple, and clearly meant to be the focus, but her face stole the show.
Lane sucked in a breath, captivated by the way her face showed both defiance and hesitation. There was strength in her face—high cheekbones, a wide, strong mouth, her skin burnished like copper. The woman’s chin was lowered, her hair mussed and tangled, destroying some of her retro-pinup-girl style. One corner of her mouth was drawn up in a fuck-you half-smile. But her eyes, looking at the camera through her thick lashes, were vulnerable.
“Look at the tension she has on the restraints.” Emory was seated beside Lane at the conference table.
“Those aren’t restraints. They’re ribbons, props.” Alton, sitting on the opposite side of the table, arms crossed, radiated arrogant derision.
Lane kept his eyeroll to himself and looked at Helen. “Any more photos?”
All three men sat forward when the next image popped on screen.
She knelt on a bed, her caramel skin dark against the ivory sheets. She wore a blood-red teddy with lacings up the sides and a matching red leather collar. Her hands cupped her breasts, her nails painted gold. A shiny silver bit between her teeth forced back red lips and showed off pert white teeth. Her eyes were wide, almost startled. She seemed scared, vulnerable.
“An interesting woman.” Emory adjusted the cuff of his shirt with a small, precise tug.
“She’s perfect.” Lane couldn’t stop staring. If he’d seen the image when flicking through a magazine he would have stopped. Though he probably wouldn’t have been flicking through a magazine with nail polish ads in it.
“That’s what we think.” Helen was a plump woman in her mid-fifties. She didn’t look like the president of an erotic media empire, but she was. Her latest project was an introduction to BDSM coffee-table book, complete with high-quality erotic photos. Lane, Emory and Alton, all Doms from L.A.’s various BDSM scenes and cultures, had been recruited to both participate in the photo shoots and write some of the text of the book, each man offering his unique perspective.
The writing was done, and now came the good part—generating the pictures to go with all that text. Helen didn’t want a professional sub or an adult-entertainment veteran. The book was meant to capitalize on the recent public interest in, and seeming acceptance of, BDSM. It would show BDSM in an elegant, erotic light. The photos would entice, and the text would provide guidance, encouragement and tips for anyone who wanted to try it themselves.
“Well, gentlemen, what do you think?”
“I say yes,” Lane answered immediately.
“Yes,” Emory added.
“Any woman can be trained to some degree. She’ll probably be fine.” Alton uncrossed his arms, resting his fists on the table.
“Delightful.” Helen looked relieved at having finally found someone all three of them could agree on.
Alton stood. “We’re done.”
“Was that a question or a statement?” Emory raised a brow as he watched Alton walk out.
“Statement. Master Alton would never ask a question.”
With a rueful shake of the head Emory too left.
The original plan had called for multiple women for the shoots, but a marketing study indicated that the book was most likely to be purchased by women, and the all-female focus group showed a marked preference for a single female “character” they could relate to. It seemed simple enough, until it came time for Lane, Emory and Alton to agree on who that woman would be. Their task was made all the more difficult when they decided against using industry professionals or professional submissives. They’d spent months reviewing photos Helen’s team pulled from various sources, from modeling agencies to tumblr accounts.
Helen straightened the scarf draped over one shoulder and smiled at Lane. “Now all I need to do is convince her. She’s stopping by in,” she checked her watch, “fifteen minutes.”
“Does she know what the project is about?”
“No, all we told her was that we were interested in having her model. I think it will be easier if I can show her other books. We lost several promising candidates after I failed to successfully explain what the project was.”
Lane could understand the women’s hesitation. He’d hesitated himself when he was approached with the project. For him, BDSM was something he craved in the bedroom, but he was far from rabid the way men like Alton were. He had a normal life, a normal job, and participating in this project put all things “normal” at risk. It wasn’t until he met with Helen and saw a prior book—one focused on foot fetishes—that he understood that C&C’s projects really were informational and artistic more than pornographic. When it was done, the “BDSM 101” book would be the kind of thing that if someone connected to his normal life found it, he wouldn’t be ashamed. Embarrassed, maybe, but not ashamed.
Plus there was the very enticing fact that he’d get to introduce a woman to BDSM. That he was looking forward to, especially if it was the dark-haired Latina in the pictures.
Carrying her portfolio, dressed in her best retro suit complete with real stockings, Addie entered the nondescript office building in North Hollywood. While it seemed nice enough, with discreet name plaques beside doors, a security desk and potted palms in the lobby, it was in the north part of North Hollywood. It wasn’t far from here to Van Nuys, the porn capital of the world. The proximity was reawakening Addie’s fears as to what exactly this modeling job was for.
Addie spotted a bathroom and stopped to check her appearance one last time. Lulu had helped her put her hair up in victory rolls and a bun, so she looked both professional and retro. While keeping her trademark red lipstick, she’d toned down the cat-eye eyeliner, making her brown eyes appear rounder and softer.
She checked the placement of the wide belt and then the cute little flares at the back of her jacket to make sure they hadn’t creased in the car. With five minutes to spare, she struck a few test poses.
“You can do this, Addie.” She put her hand on her hip, tipped her chin and smiled. “If it’s porn just walk out and all it cost you was gas.” Flipping to the other side, she put her fingertips on her shoulders and thrust her chest out in a pose she’d seen in an old pinup calendar.
Confident in her appearance if nothing else, Addie left the bathroom and headed for Suite 1430, which said “C&C Productions” on the plaque beside the door.
She knocked softly and opened the door. A small waiting room with six chairs greeted her. The carpet was thicker than usual, the waiting room chairs leather and wood. The reception desk looked like a solid block of marble, a stylize logo of the letters “C&C” mounted on the front.
Behind a reception desk a hallway stretched to the left and right. A bell chimed when she walked in, and Addie wasn’t surprised to see someone appear from the left hallway seconds later, while she was still taking in the nicer-than-expected atmosphere.
The woman was heavyset and well dressed with a sharp haircut. Her scarf was hand-painted, her long jacket tailored to fit and made of raw-silk. Butterflies fluttered to life in Addie’s belly—she’d come here prepared to be disappointed, prepared to walk away, but it didn’t seem likely that this woman was recruiting girls for porn. Maybe this was a chance at another big modeling job, one that could take her to the next level, build her brand enough that she’d be ready to take the leap and start her own label.
“Adelita?” She skirted the reception desk and Addie took a quick peek at her shoes. Peep toe booties. Bold choice.
“Please, call me Addie.”
“I’m Helen, thank you for coming.” Helen held out her hand and they shook. “If you’ll follow me, I’ll take you to my office.”
Behind the reception desk, right turn, down the hall and then another right into a well-appointed office. Unlike the reception area the office furniture was modern—glass top desk, cube-style bookcases. Addie perched on the edge of a purple suede chair with legs made of stacked acrylic balls, portfolio on her lap, her small, hard-sided cherry clutch on top of that. She took a copy of her modeling resume—headshot on one side, list of modeling gigs, stats and skills on the other—out of her portfolio and held it out.
“Wonderful, thank you. Can I get you anything to drink?”
“No, thank you.”
“Then let me first start by once again thanking you for coming in.” Helen perched on the edge of her chair and crossed her legs.
“I was excited to receive your phone call.”
“That’s good to hear. The second thing I want you to know is that the other models involved in this project, who are also the writers, have agreed that you’re our missing piece.”
“I’m flattered, but I have to ask…writers?” Addie hoped she wouldn’t be expected to write anything. She hated writing.
Helen smiled. “I know I was vague on the phone. In this case it might be easier to show you what we’re doing rather than explain it. Things can get lost in translation.” Helen stood and pulled a large book off the shelves to the left of her desk. She brought it back and placed it face down on the glass.
“What my company wants to produce is a book that is not only informative—hence the writing—but beautiful. It’s not an instructional book and not a book of pictures. It’s somewhere in between. Some would even call it an art book. It’s going to tell a story in both pictures and words about a world most people would never dare to be a part of.”
The fluttering in Addie’s stomach had morphed from excitement back to vague dread.
“And what is the subject of your book?” Addie asked slowly.
Helen’s smile was bland. “BDSM.”
Addie’s breath released in a little rush and she looked down at her fingers, which were gripping her clutch so tightly the individual rhinestones were making impressions in the pads of her fingers.
“Do you know what that is?”
“Yes, it’s bondage, domination… I’m afraid I don’t know the last two.”
“BDSM stands for bondage, domination, sadism and masochism.”
“Sadism?” Addie stood. She was trembling slightly, though she wasn’t sure if it was from the shock of hearing the seemingly innocuous Helen talk about sadism, or disappointment that she’d been right, this was some kind of porn shoot. “Thank you very much for your time.” She tossed her head and smiled, the warm, sexy smile she practiced in the mirror, one that was more about projecting an image than reflecting a feeling. “I’m just not the right girl for you. My Betty Page photos were a one-time thing.”
Helen frowned. “I beg to differ. We think you’re exactly the right girl for us.”
Us? She must be referring to the company.
“Mamacita, I’m not one to judge, but I’m not really into those things. I’m certainly not into sadism. There’s enough pain in life without courting any extra.”
Addie winked, turned on her heel and left Helen’s office. The perfect dramatic exit.
If she’d looked back, she might have seen Lane lurking just down the hall. If she’d stopped in the waiting area, she might have overheard the conversation between Lane and Helen.
“How much of that did you hear?” Helen asked.
“Most of it.” Lane grinned, unrepentant. He wanted to see the girl for himself, and she was even better than expected. Those stockings… “She didn’t reject BDSM altogether. She just was frightened by the sadism.”
“Who isn’t until they see it done right?” Helen shook her head. “I didn’t get to show her the book.”
Lane took the fetish book from Helen. A piece of paper was stuck to the back. He pulled it off and looked at the smiling picture of the woman who’d just walked away. In it her black hair was pulled up into a high pony tail. Dark bangs cut across her forehead. Her eyes were darkly lined, her lips bright red.
He flipped the picture over and read the text on the back. “Adelita Sanchez.” Under that heading were a phone number and address. “I’m going to talk to her. Don’t start looking for a different girl until I call you.”
“She has to be willing, Lane. The sadism scared her. Having you show up at her door isn’t going to help.”
Lane snorted. “I’m not Alton. I won’t scare her off. I’ll show her the book, explain it to her, give her a chance to ask me some questions.” Lane grinned. A sub had told him he had the perfect smile—genuine but with a hint of mischief.
Helen’s troubled look melted into a smile of her own. “Fine, you charmer. But don’t talk about anything related to BDSM itself—save that until there’s a camera around to capture her reactions.”
He raised his right hand. “No specifics. Did you catch that she said she wasn’t ‘really into those things’? That’s not disgust, or disinterest.”
Helen nodded. “No, it’s not. When you talk to her, make sure you explain that she’d be signing up for physical contact and some pain, but that there’s no sex. And show her how much we’d pay her.” Helen disappeared into her office and grabbed the modeling contract.
“Thanks.” Lane saluted Helen with the papers. “I’m gonna to get the girl.”
Addie hung her jacket on its padded hanger before slipping off the matching skirt. She carefully folded squares of tissue over the edges before clipping it to a hanger and putting skirt and jacket in her overflowing closet.
Wearing her bra, panties, garter and stockings, she pulled on a white silk robe painted with a stylized pinup doll on the back, a gift from a cousin, and headed into the living room.
Addie’s apartment was a chaotic mix of fabric and knickknacks. She’d given up on a couch in order to make room for a craft table and sewing machine, which were in the place of honor under her living room’s lone window. She flopped down into the extra-large chair that served as honorary couch.
“Estúpido, you shouldn’t have gotten your hopes up.” Addie plucked a vintage top from the basket beside her chair and thumbed open the little bottle of beads she’d found to match the beading on the shoulders. She’d cleaned and repaired the top, now all that was left was repairing the beadwork. When it was done she’d sell it. She could use the money…plus it was too small for her.
Half an hour later she’d messed up three times. Setting the top aside she rose, stretched and wandered into the kitchen. Sitting on the kitchen counter she sipped a cup of tea and let her shoulders sag. Six months ago she’d been sure that this was it, her life was about to change. But the attention the Betty Page photos generated had been from the wrong industry, and though she had a big social media following, she didn’t have the capacity to produce more than a few pieces—either original or repaired—every week, meaning she wasn’t making much money.
She needed capital if she were going to start her own business, and right now she doubted anyone would take her seriously. A big following on instagram wouldn’t make up for the fact that she hadn’t gone to design school. Her mother and grandmother had taught her everything she knew about sewing and fashion. She didn’t have a business degree, and knew nothing about running a business except what she’d picked up from Lulu.
Setting her tea in the sink she returned to her beads. Moping wouldn’t finish the top, and the sooner she was done the sooner she could list it for sale on Lulu’s site.
She was ten beads in when there was a knock on the door. Her neighbor Mrs. Gardener liked to keep track of Addie since Mrs. Gardener’s own twenty-something grandkids were too far away for the old sweetheart to pester. She must have seen Addie come home and was stopping by to investigate why she wasn’t at work. Looking at her robe, she shrugged. Mrs. Gardener wouldn’t care.
She opened the door.
A six-foot blond in a black leather jacket was leaning against the wall. Surprise at her attire flashed across his face, but then he smiled. And what a smile it was.
Addie put her hand on the door, pulled it closed a little, prepared to shut it in his face if the situation went south.
“Can I help you?”
“Depends who’s asking. What do you want?”
He pushed away from the wall and stood in the doorway, invading her space. “I want to have a conversation with a pretty woman.”
“And I,” Addie put her finger in the center of his chest and pushed, “don’t trust pretty boys.”
Addie closed the door, but the man slid his foot between the door and the jamb. Addie jumped back, prepared to run for a phone and call 9-1-1 if he made a move she didn’t like.
He pushed the door open again and held up one hand. “I’m not coming in, I just thought you might like it if I didn’t say what I have to say through the door.”
Addie cocked her hip, felt the robe slide open a bit. “And what is it you have to say?”
His gaze dropped to her breasts and the lacy bra that was peeking out from the widening slit in her robe.
“I’m working with C&C Productions.” He leaned against the doorjamb. A few locks of hair fell across his forehead as he tipped his head down and smiled at her. There it was again, that smile. He was handsome, if a little too clean-cut for her taste. She liked her men complicated—tattooed gentlemen who could refurbish a car as well as they danced. This guy was frat-boy handsome. If he worked for C&C he was probably a BDSM porn star. It was a more clean-cut veneer than she would have expected.
Addie pulled her robe closed. “I already told the Helen I wasn’t interested.”
“I’m one of the other models. I thought we could talk about it.”
“Listen, porn star, I’m not interested.
“I’m not a porn star. I’m a systems engineer.”
“A computer geek. It’s true. Here.” He fished his wallet from his back pocket and pulled out a business card.
Addie took a tentative step closer and accepted the card.
“This is really you?” She held the card up. “Lane.”
“Yep. Lane Therres. It’s nice to meet you.”
“You’re a geek.” Addie was still examining the card. Everything felt out of sync, as if she were dancing a half beat off the music. The blond—Lane—was a piece that didn’t fit with the day’s admittedly strange happenings.
He laughed lightly. “That sums it up. Maybe I should have that added to cards.”
“Well Mr. Therres, I’m afraid to tell you that your geek boss isn’t going to like your being a kink model.”
“I rarely interface with clients, I build systems on the back end. Besides, it’s art.”
“Sugar baby, do you really think I’ll fall for that line?”
He opened his mouth, closed it, opened it again. “Can I show you something?”
“If you whip out your dick, I’m calling the cops.”
He laugh-snorted. “No dick.” He looked over his shoulder. “I think.”
Addie inched towards her phone. “That’s it, alpha delta porno, I’m calling the cops.”
“Alpha what? There’s no need to call the cops.”
“I’m sure. Deja.”
“Deja.” He rolled the word nicely. “That means ‘leave’, doesn’t it?”
“Very good. Buh-bye then.”
Lane ducked out of the doorway for a second and reappeared holding a book. “This is all I want to show you.” It looked like the same book Helen had pulled off her shelf.
Addie would not admit she was curious. She should be completely freaked out that this guy she didn’t know had just showed up at her door. Should be, but something about him put her at ease. It had to be that smile. That thing was lethal. She cleared her throat. “Strangely, you haven’t left.”
“Weird, isn’t it? Can I come in?” He didn’t wait for her answer but stepped in, closing the door behind him. He made her happily cluttered apartment seem small.
Addie picked up a stone calavera—skull—decorated for Dia de los Muertos from the shelf at her shoulder. It easily weighed five pounds. “Do you regularly force your way into women’s apartments?”
“This is a first, actually.”
“I feel so special. It’s going to be even more special when I bash your head in.”
“With a sparkly skull? There’s some irony in there.”
Addie narrowed her eyes. “You’re making it hard to hate you.”
“I was socially inept until college, so thank you, it’s good to know the years of hard work learning to talk to women have paid off.”
“I’m still going to hit you. I’ll try to avoid your pretty-boy face.”
“The fact that I’m holding a conversation with a woman whose robe has come undone is even more amazing.”
Shit. Addie looked down and Lane jumped across the room, snatching the skull from her. Her robe was still in place, though it had slipped to one side, exposing her left breast in its leopard-and-cream lace bra. She pulled it up and sighed. Lane was tossing the skull in the air and grinning.
“You’re in. I’m unarmed. What do you want?”
“Just to talk, and to show you this.” He held up the book.
“Fine, we’ll talk. Put down my skull.”
He set the painted piece on a table behind him. He looked around her living room, having the raised brow reaction most people did when they saw she had more sewing supplies than furniture.
“I’m giving you five minutes.” Addie curled in the armchair, tucking her robe securely under her legs so it wouldn’t slip, and motioned to the matching ottoman. “Have a seat.”
Lane sat then jumped up. “Fuck!” He picked up the beaded top she’d been working on. The needle was sticking up out of the fabric and had, predictably, found its way into his ass.
Addie’s lips twitched. “Pain in your ass?”
“Funny.” He set the sewing aside and swept his hand across the ottoman before sitting a second time. “Maybe we should start over.” He held out his hand. “I’m Lane Therres.”
“Addie Sanchez.” His handshake was firm and warm.
“It’s very nice to meet you, Addie. I’m looking forward to working with you.”
“You mean fucking me, and it’s not going to happen. No offense, sugar baby, but I’m just not interested in doing porn. Even if it’s good, artistic porn.”
“I wouldn’t do porn either. I’m a normal guy. Well, sort of. The project Helen wants you for isn’t porn.”
“Then what is it?” Addie asked, exasperated.
He held out the book. “This is the last project C&C did. It’s an informational book of sorts. It’s got stories, explanations and most importantly, photos.”
The cover was black leather and bare except for an embossed image of a pair of black pumps pressed into the bottom corner. Addie flipped open the book.
Foot Fetish—The Sole of Devotion.
“It’s a book about foot fetish?”
“Yes. Don’t freak out, just turn the page.”
She raised a brow. “Do I look like the kind of woman who freaks out?”
Addie flipped the glossy page and skimmed the first few lines of text. It talked about the history of foot fetishism, the beauty of the fetish, the variations that were possible. “This makes it sound like the only way to show someone you love them is to,” she skimmed the page, “lick their shoes.”
“That’s how some people feel.”
She skipped the next pages of text, stopping when she got to the first photo. It was a full-page black-and-white image of a woman’s calf and foot. A glossy, black high heel dangled from her toes.
The next image was the same woman’s foot, but now a man was kissing it. In the next photo he licked the side of the shoe. Another flip and the man was licking the sole of her bare foot.
The images were beautiful, well lit and composed, yet clearly sexual. Blow them up and they wouldn’t look out of place on a gallery wall.
“This is all it is, pictures of men licking shoes?” She made the words mocking, not wanting to give away what she was really feeling. The writing was elegant and sparse, filled with an aching longing that make her heart clench as the writer’s emotions tugged at her.
“Well, no, it gets more explicit than that.”
Lane reached over to flip the page, his fingers brushing hers as he did. They both looked up, gazes holding for a moment. His eyes were blue, and more intense than his laid-back manner would have suggested.
Addie looked away first.
Sliding his thumb between the thick pages, he opened it near the back. The toe of a woman’s glossy purple boot was balanced on the tensed swell of a man’s ass. The spiked heel of the boot pressed into his balls.
“Like I said, it gets more explicit.”
“Men like this?”
“Do you?” She expected to throw him off, asking such a personal question.
“No, not my thing.”
“And BDSM is?” She couldn’t imagine this easygoing guy as some sort of sexual dominant.
“Sadism? Is this sadism?” She pointed to the about-to-be-impaled balls.
“Some would say it was. In this case it’s all part of the foot fetish.”
Addie slapped the book closed, shoved it into Lane’s lap and stood. “I’m glad they’re having fun, and I hope he’s happy living with one cojone, but I don’t know anything about this kind of stuff.”
“Nothing?” Lane raised one eyebrow and half smiled. “No one knows nothing about it.”
“Pretending to spank a girl for a photo shoot doesn’t mean I know anything about bondage. And posing tied up doesn’t mean I’m a submissive. And I’m not into sadism.”
Lane grinned. She might have been imaging it, but there was a slight hint of menace in that expression, as if there was a predator looking out through his eyes. “You know enough to use the term ‘submissive’ correctly.”
Damn. He had her there. So maybe she’d read a book or two that had some kinky parts. “You all saw those pictures and thought I was some little thing who liked getting told what to do.” Addie put her hand on her hip and met Lane’s gaze. This time she refused to look away. “I’m no submissive.”
Lane set the book down in the chair she’d vacated. “Can we back up a second? First, will you agree that this isn’t porn?”
“Fine. It’s not porn. The photographs are beautiful.”
“Good. Would you like to know why Helen called you, when she knew—she did check—that you weren’t active in the BDSM scene?”
“Yes, I would.”
Lane stretched out one leg, propped an elbow on the other. “The BDSM project is going to follow one woman, beautiful and sexy of course, as she’s introduced to BDSM and all its variations and ways to play. We’re calling it BDSM 101, at least for now.
“Helen called you because you aren’t a professional and because you don’t know much about it. The photographer will capture your reactions as you’re introduced to each new experience.”
What he was describing sounded strangely beautiful.
“But those photos would be of me having sex with a bunch of guys, I’m not—”
“No.” He raised his hand. “There would be no sex. No kissing. Physical contact, definitely, and you would have to be naked and be touched sexually by the men, by me.”
He held her gaze, letting that sink in. Addie looked at his hands. There were nice hands, with neatly trimmed nails.
“Physical contact…leaves you a lot of options.” She shook herself, stared at the wall. Again she made her words hard, almost mocking, to push him away. “In my world, men respect and treasure women, they don’t beat them up.”
“No one is getting beaten up. Spanked?” Lane looked her up and down…slowly. The teasing, playful man who’d barged in was disappearing with each breath. He was shedding the sheep’s clothing to reveal the wolf. “Possibly.”
“But that would hurt. Why would I agree to it?”
“You don’t seem like the kind of woman who’s afraid of a little pain, or who doesn’t know how to see the beauty and pleasure in things other people find strange.”
He was right. She didn’t have to admit it though. “You know me now?”
“No.” Lane was off the ottoman and stalking toward her so fast Addie didn’t have time to think about her reaction. She backed up, fight-or-flight responses engaged. Her back hit the wall a split second before he was on her, looming over her.
He pinched the fabric of her robe between index finger and thumb and pulled it off one shoulder. The silk slithered down, catching on the tie around her waist. Addie gasped, the inhale causing her breasts to brush his chest. Addie, who prided herself on always being in control of herself, had no control as Lane caged her with his body, his presence.
Tracing the back of his hand down her bare arm, over the pool of fabric at her elbow, he circled her wrist in his hand.
Inch by inch he lifted her arm, drawing it above her head and pressing the back of her wrist against the wall. He studied her for a moment, eyes darkening.
“I don’t know you, Adelita Sanchez.” He dipped his head, lips millimeters from the corner of her mouth. “But I’d like to.”
And then he was gone.
Addie was ready for the kiss, waiting for it. When Lane backed away she could only stare at him, stupefied. He wasn’t going to kiss her?
“The contract is in the back of the book. Goodbye, for now.”
With that, he let himself out of her apartment and was gone.
For the hundredth time that hour, Addie considered turning back. The point of no return had actually passed several days ago when she finished negotiating and then signed the contract, but she’d told herself that she could walk out at any time.
Lulu had, surprisingly, thought this was a great idea. Addie had taken the foot fetish book and the contract and told her friend everything. After a moment of silence, Lulu had said that if Addie wasn’t completely comfortable with it she shouldn’t do it, but that Lulu didn’t think it was porn, and that it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. She’d called it a visitor’s pass to kinky-sex-land.
Hearing Lulu’s relaxed acceptance calmed Addie’s nerves. If the only question was did Addie want to do this, then the answer was yes—it was frightening, edgy, different, sexy.
All things Addie liked to think she herself was.
They’d brainstormed the pros and cons of doing this, in relation to Addie’s career and fashion-label aspirations, and her personal life. Her biggest concern had been what other people would think. The contract said they could keep her real name out of it. The likelihood that anyone she knew would ever pick up the book and recognize her was slim. To make sure, she’d negotiated that a limited number of full face shots be used in the final book, and Helen had agreed.
It was Pissarro who had identified one of the other issues Addie hadn’t thought about since she brought it up to Lane.
“You, as a submissive? If you were a lezzie you’d be the top, Adelita.”
“Probably,” Addie admitted, sitting on a bench in Pissarro’s store. Being submissive didn’t fit with her persona. She wasn’t meek. She wasn’t quiet.
But when Lane touched her she hadn’t resisted, hadn’t even wanted to.
“So is it going to be fake, like NASCAR?”
“NASCAR is real, wrestling’s fake. And this will be real too.”
“I can’t keep track of straight-people things, you know that. But back to the important point—they’re going to teach you to be a bottom?”
“A submissive, yes.”
“Oh, this is not going to work. Didn’t they meet you?”
“They did.” Addie didn’t tell Pissarro about the way she’d frozen under Lane’s hands as he towered over her.
Pissarro had signed. “Is the money good?”
That was over a week ago. Now the contracts were signed, plans laid out, and today was her first day on set.
Everything was happening on a sound stage in North Hollywood, not far from the C&C offices where she’d met with Helen. Addie pulled her restored and tricked-out chrome-and-purple 1979 El Camino into the narrow parking lot at the back of the building and parked it between a 7-Series BMW and an M-Class Mercedes.
“It pays to be kinky.” Addie tipped the rearview mirror to check her bangs, making sure they were perfectly in place. “Or, you have to be rich to play.”
It wasn’t exactly flattering to admit, but the final tipping point to her agreeing had been money. They’d offered her five figures. If she were able to get more modeling gigs like this she wouldn’t have to worry about investors.
Sliding out of the car she tip-tapped across the parking lot in her T-strap heels. One of the things she’d negotiated for was to be in charge of her own wardrobe. If she were ever recognized, at least she wanted to look good.
A plain metal door in the back wall had a piece of paper with “C&C” taped to it. Addie rang the bell beside the door and waited.
Lane sat forward as the bell in the makeshift office rang. Emory, once more seated to his left, finished tapping out an email. He slipped his phone into the laptop bag on the floor beside his chair. The thirty-something Dom wore a dove-gray business suit that set off his light-brown skin. Alton was standing in the corner near the panel that controlled the lighting, staring out the window that overlooked the floor of the soundstage. He was roped in muscle, not an ounce of fat on his arms, which were displayed by the sleeveless black leather vest he wore.
“I’ll get her.” SJ stood, the chair she’d been sitting in barely shifting under her slight weight.
SJ Kim was their photographer. At barely five-foot, the Asian-American woman was slight but not fragile. In the fetish and BDSM communities, she was considered a world-class artist, known for both photography and painting. Lane planned to have at least one of the photos taken during the project signed and framed.
“Are you looking forward to this?” Emory steepled his fingers, resting his chin against his thumbs.
Lane snorted. “Who wouldn’t be? Addie’s gorgeous.”
“Breaking a new slave can be a chore,” Alton said from the corner.
Lane hid his fist under the table. “She’s not a slave, she may not even be a true submissive. She’s just here to be introduced to the lifestyle.”
“What the two of you do is hardly the lifestyle.”
Lane was half out of his chair when Emory put a hand on his arm and murmured, “Leave it. She’ll be here soon. Listen.”
Settling back in his chair, Lane’s heartbeat slowly returned to normal. Now that he wasn’t focused on beating the crap out of Alton, Lane could hear footsteps on the metal stairs that led to the office, which was perched midway up one side of the large soundstage.
He smoothed his expression into a smile as the door opened.
SJ was speaking quietly to Addie as she held the door open for the other woman, which gave the men a moment to look Addie over before she turned her attention to them.
Decked out in a skirt that hugged her body from high on her waist to her knee and a buttoned white shirt with a little collar, she was a far cry from the loosely dressed submissives Lane was used to. Her hair was a fall of even, glossy black waves, her bangs a perfect curve across her forehead, her lips fire-engine red.
“Perfection,” Emory whispered, rubbing his fingers across his lips.
She was. Nothing about her appearance was overtly sexual but she was undeniably sexy. She seemed supremely confident, but Lane saw the tremble in her fingers as she put her hand on her hip, watched her tongue dart over her lips as she licked them nervously.
When SJ motioned toward them and Addie’s attention switched from the photographer to him, Lane rose. Emory did the same, and Alton stepped out of the corner.
“Addie, it’s nice to see you again.”
“Again?” Emory whispered under his breath.
“Thank you.” Her chin notched up, challenge radiating off every line of her body. “I know you,” she pointed at Lane with a red-nailed finger, “but not you two.”
“I’m Emory Setter, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”
Her hand slid into Emory’s, their skin nearly the same color. Lane bit back a flare of possessiveness and jealousy. Not good. Addie wasn’t his.
“Master Alton.” Alton nodded, but didn’t offer his hand.
“That’s the proper way for a slave to address a Master.”
“Slave?” Addie’s hand slipped from her hip. She looked to Lane. He could see the worry, and maybe a hint of fear, in her eyes. “Is there something I need to know?”
“Maybe we’d better talk about what each of us…specializes in.”
“You each have sex superpowers?” Addie swept her gaze over them, crossing her arms in front of her breasts. She’d pulled up her shields, the hint of fear gone.
“More areas of specialty,” Emory corrected smoothly, though one side of his mouth kicked up.
“BDSM should be a lifestyle, though some choose to,” Alton looked at Lane, his lip curled up, “dabble.”
“Gentlemen.” SJ’s quiet voice cut through the rising tension, capturing everyone’s attention. “Let us sit. Then talk. Please.”
Lane jumped forward to hold out a chair for Addie, who sank gracefully into it, crossing her ankles and tucking them under the chair.
“Adelita, the men represent different subcultures of an already hidden world.” SJ spoke softly, her words painting an elegant, dark picture. “Each of them sees BDSM in a different way, can make it beautiful in a different way.”
“Call me Addie. So I’ll take turns with them?” She bit her lower lip and looked away. “This sounds so…”
“Hot?” Lane asked.
Addie looked up, their gazes met. She didn’t answer.
“Yes, you will have time with each of them. There are specific things considered emblematic of the culture, which must be a part of the play. Beyond that, the gentlemen will be responding to you.”
“Because,” Emory cut in before Lane could answer, “above all what a good Dom—that’s short for Dominant—wants is to bring both himself and the submissive he’s with to the absolute height of pleasure. Through BDSM you’ll find physical and emotional pleasures so intense they border on pain.”
Addie licked her lower lip, breathing deep. “So when I’m with you, I’ll be—”
“Oh.” She looked at her hands for a moment. “You mentioned specialties?”
“You’ll be mine first.” Lane leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees. “I’m the least…formal. I introduce you to the terms, the toys and light bondage. For me, BDSM is something that stays in the bedroom, maybe in a club playroom, but it’s about control in order to obtain the most pleasure for both of us.” Lane kept and held her gaze as he spoke, lines of intensity whipping between them like electricity.
“You’ll come to me next.” Emory tapped his fingers on his knee. “I enjoy the formality of a well-planned scene.”
“A scene?” Addie finally looked away from Lane to Emory. “I don’t understand.”
“The slave girl at auction is a classic, and one I always enjoy. The naughty schoolgirl is another.”
“Oh.” She blinked. “Ohhh.”
“When you’re done playing.” Alton’s expression hadn’t changed but it was clear he was sneering. “I’ll teach you what D/s really means.” He rose from his chair, looming over Addie.
She took a deep breath, tipped her chin up and smiled. “How?”
Lane had to admire her courage. He wasn’t sure if, in her position, he’d have said anything.
“When you’re with me, you’ll learn the freedom that comes from being entirely under my control. Your pleasure, and your pain, will be mine.”
“That certainly sounds… interesting.” She popped to her feet and sat on the edge of the table, diminishing he height differential between her and Alton. “I’m sure that will be an experience, sugar baby.” She winked at Alton.
Well played, gorgeous.
There was a muffled chuckle to Lane’s right. He looked over to see Emory pressing his fist over his mouth.
“And will each of you be there the whole time?” Addie asked.
“Do you mean will we be watching each other’s sessions? Maybe, that depends on what you’d prefer,” Lane answered.
She paused for a moment, examining each of them. “I’d like to keep the voyeurs to a minimum.”
“Okay, then.” Lane didn’t think she realized that she hadn’t actually flat out told them they couldn’t watch. One of the first things she was going to have to learn was that specificity was key in this world.
“When do we start?” she asked, looking around the room.
Lane stood. “Now.”
Addie stood on the edge of a beautiful bedroom. A massive four-poster bed sat on a platform. There was a seating area in front of a gas fireplace and even a small dining area. It looked like a million-dollar-a-night suite in a swanky hotel—except it had only three walls and no roof. The bedroom was one of several sets in the massive sound stage.
“Welcome to my play place. What do you think?” Lane put his hand on her back.
When he applied pressure, Addie step up from the concrete floor of the warehouse-like sound stage to the hardwood floor of the fake room.
“It’s nice, big.”
“We’ll need the space, to move around in.”
“Were you expecting whips and chain on the walls?”
“You’ll have to wait for Alton’s space for that.”
“You’ve said that a lot today. Do you need a minute?”
“No, I can handle this.”
“You’re going to enjoy it.” Lane smiled. “Don’t seem so grim.”
“I’m not grim.” Addie took a step away, Lane’s hand falling from her back. She watched the photographer silently assemble and check several large cameras. “You’re not videoing anything, right?”
“Still photography only.” SJ held up a camera, snapped a photo of Addie’s legs. She flipped the camera around, showed Addie the resulting image. The hem of her skirt was barely visible, the swell of her calves the focus of the image. The seam at the back of her stockings a bold, curving line.
“Gorgeous.” Lane’s hand was once more on the small of her back. “Are you ready to start?”
“Do we need to take test shots or anything?” Her stomach was full of butterflies, her fingers tingling. She’d thought she was ready but now everything seemed to be happening so fast. Though the dark sound stage and warm lighting in the mock bedroom made it seem as if it was the middle of the night, she couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that it was noon. Noon on a Tuesday seemed like a strange time to start something as dark and kinky as a BDSM photo shoot.
“Nervous? Ready to back out?” This time Lane’s tone wasn’t concerned, but challenging. He raised a brow.
“I’m not backing out.”
“It’s okay to be nervous.” Lane slid his hand along her neck, under her hair, his thumb pressing behind her ear.
“I can handle anything.” Strangely, his touch was helping, as if his fingers were grounding her.
“This isn’t a battle.”
“Sex is always a battle.”
Lane leaned in, blew across her neck. A shiver racked her upper body. The reaction was so intense, so unexpected that she panicked. A second ago his hands on her had helped; now she felt trapped.
Addie put her hands on his chest, pushing him away, wanting space to breathe, to think, to gain some composure and control. He caught both wrists in his free hand and forced them down. Her hands were between their crotches and she could feel his erection through his jeans.
“Why don’t we start with the basics?” Lane leaned away just enough to look into her eyes. “The first of which is, once you walk into the bedroom, you’re mine. I touch you when I want, how I want. You don’t push me away.”
“What about a…safe word?”
“You know more about BDSM than you admitted.”
“I did some research.”
“Smart and gorgeous. My favorite flavor. There’s not just a safe word, but a series of safe words. Just like a traffic light the words are green, yellow and red.”
“Green means go?”
“Or ‘oh yes, please, Lane, I want more’.”
Addie giggled, she couldn’t help it. The laugh dispelled some of her tension, and Lane let go of her hands. Had he been holding on to her because she was edgy? Would he always let go if she relaxed?
“I thought you said this wasn’t porn?” she teased. “That sounds like a line from a porn movie. A bad one.”
“You’ll be saying something like that, but it won’t be a line.”
“Confident, aren’t we? So you’re sure that every time you ask I’ll say ‘green’?”
“I’ll only do safe word checks if I sense something is wrong. It’s up to you to use your safe words if you’re uncomfortable or scared. Yellow means pause and reassess. Red means full stop.”
“You’re trying to tell me that you’ll be able to sense when something’s wrong with me?”
“Yes.” Lane cupped her elbow and led her to the seating area. “A good lover should be able to tell when something’s not right, and a Dom must be able to. Failure to understand a submissive’s reaction to what’s happening, sometimes better than she understands it herself, is unacceptable.” He guided her to a padded armchair.
“So a Dom is really the ultimate lover.”
“I like to think so.”
“And what about you? What do you get out of it? I mean, don’t you want to have casual sex some of the time?”
“Of course. I date normally, and I have normal, vanilla sex with those women.”
“And you…hire professional submissives when you want to do this?” Addie motioned around the faux bedroom.
“If you mean hookers, then no. I meet women who are also into BDSM through clubs, chat rooms, forums. The relationships I have with them are sexual. I maybe take them out to dinner to get to know them, but I’m not dating them.”
“There’s never any crossover?”
Lane went to a bar cart, cracked open a bottle of fizzy water and poured two glasses. “You mentioned a boyfriend tying you up. Did you think he was a Dom, part of the BDSM world?”
“No, it was just a bedroom game.” She accepted the glass he handed her.
“That’s what I do with the women I date, if they seem willing. I’ll take them into the shallow end of the pool, but I never seek out women to date with the intention of making them submissives.”
“So you have women you date, and women you fuck. What are you going to do when you fall in love and can’t have both anymore?”
“Love? That seems a little hearts and flowers for you, doesn’t it?”
Strangely, that comment centered Addie. The oh so confident Lane didn’t know her as well as he thought he did. For Addie, love conquered all. Romance was the heart and soul of L.A.’s laid-back rockabilly scene—it was what had first drawn her to the subculture. Lane said he knew sex, but Addie knew love. “Maybe, but you didn’t answer.”
“I’m only thirty-four, I have time to find the right one.”
Addie took a sip, letting the bubbles fill her mouth. Lane had taken a seat on the couch. He wore dark-wash jeans and a white button-down, open at the throat. The leather jacket he’d been wearing when she first walked in was gone, but the scent of leather lingered around him.
Lost in her perusal of him, it took Addie a minute to process what he’d said, to understand the shift in tension.
“Are we starting?”
“Yes. You’re free to speak whenever you want, but should be aware that most Doms have a strict speak-when-spoken-to policy. Stand.” This time the word was harder, harsher. In the background the camera shutter clicked quietly.
Addie set her glass down with trembling fingers. She bit back every sassy comment that sprang to mind and rose to her feet. Lane’s eyes were intense, dark. Taunting him seemed…unwise.
“Unbutton your shirt.”
Addie put her fingers to the first button, took a breath, and slid it free. Lane leaned forward, watching each movement with intense eyes. When she had the buttons undone to the high waist of her pencil skirt, she stopped.
“Open your shirt, tuck it to the sides so I can see your breasts.”
Addie folded the fabric to the sides. She’d worn one of her favorite lingerie sets. Made of leopard print and cinnamon lace, the bra, like so many of her clothes, was modeled after a 1940s style and covered more of her than most modern bathing suits. She’d thought it would help her feel less exposed when she reached this point, but standing there with her shirt open, breasts on display, she felt more naked, more vulnerable than she could ever remember feeling.
What had she gotten herself into?
Confused, Addie lowered herself into the chair. As she did so, the edges of her shirt slid back into place, covering her breasts.
“Fix your shirt. If I give you a command or ask you to do something you must maintain that position or order until I change the command or tell you to stop.”
Addie tucked the edges of her shirt against her sides. SJ caught her attention. The photographer was behind Lane, quietly taking photos, the lens focused on Addie’s chest.
“You know the safe words. Now, some rules about your body.”
“My body?” Exactly how much control was she supposed to give over?
“A submissive should never cover herself. That doesn’t apply right now, as we’re still undressing you, but once you’re naked, you’ll need to sit with your legs spread, rather than crossed.”
Addie looked down at her legs, which she’d crossed at the ankle and tucked under the chair—a proper lady’s pose. “That’s…obscene.”
“No, it’s sexual.”
“I assume men made up these rules. Sexy doesn’t have to be obvious.”
“It’s not about sexy. It’s about the sub and Dom both knowing that the Dom can and will touch his sub’s pussy whenever and however he wants. Stand. Remove your skirt.”
Addie did not want to take off her skirt. Not after what she’d just heard. She didn’t like the idea of sitting there with her legs spread like an ill-mannered tramp. She placed her hands on the arms of the chair, ready to stand…but couldn’t do it.
“Addie, stand up.”
She licked her lower lip, then shook her head. “I can’t.”
“You mean you don’t want to.”
She shook her head again. “But I do want to. I think. I need a minute.” This was going too fast.
Lane rose from the couch. When he was standing before her, he took her right wrist in his hand and drew her up, holding her hand up by his shoulder. With his other hand, he searched her waist for the zipper of her skirt, found it at her back and slid it down. When the zipper cleared the swell of her ass, he released her and stepped back.
“Take it off.”
Addie looked down. He was wearing black shoes. Strange she hadn’t noticed that before. She always noticed shoes.
“Adelita, what do you want?” He cracked the sentence like a whip.
“I want you to do it.” She was breathing fast.
“But I won’t. Drop your skirt.”
Frustrated by his refusal, Addie shoved her hands into her waistband and let the skirt fall to the floor. Irritation burned away the hesitation and uncertainty.
“Now the shirt. Remove it.”
Undoing the final buttons, she shrugged it off, letting it fall to pool around her feet, on top of her skirt. She was left in nothing but her leopard-and-cinnamon bra, panties and garter set. Her stockings and shoes were still on, for what little protection they offered. Addie looked at Lane, raising her chin. She wasn’t afraid of how she looked naked. She had nice breasts and an ass to balance them out.
She was afraid, in that moment, of Lane. Not that he would hurt her—for all his intensity she didn’t think he would actually cause her pain, he was too nice of a guy—but she had this sinking feeling that her time with him might change how she felt about sex and men. That was frightening.
“Pick up your clothes, fold them, and hand them to me. Good. Now sit down, and remember what I told you.”
Addie lowered herself into the chair, sitting as far back as she could, and spread her knees until her thighs touched the arms of the chair.
Lane set her clothes to the side then took his glass to the bar cart and added more ice. “How do you feel?”
“Not as vulgar as I thought.”
“Do you feel sexual?”
“Are you aroused?”
Addie sucked in her lower lip, not wanting to admit that she was. He’d barely touched her, hadn’t even kissed her, and her sex was tingling with arousal.
“Answer me or I’ll put my fingers in your pussy to check.”
That got her talking, and fast. “Yes. I am.”
“And what is it that’s arousing you?”
“I don’t know. All of it. The commands, the power.”
“Good. That means you’ll enjoy what’s coming up.”
Lane moved behind her chair, brushing her hair aside with his hand. He set his cold glass against her neck.
Addie gasped, her whole body tensing at the sudden shock. Instinctively, she closed her legs.
“Legs apart.” He tugged her hair lightly in reprimand.
She spread her legs. This time he fished an ice cube from his glass and balanced it in the hollow of her collarbone. When she sucked in a breath, it tumbled into her cleavage.
“I imagine it is.” Plucking the ice from her cleavage, he slid it under the cup of her bra. Addie looked up, her shocked gaze meeting his . There was a wicked smile on Lane’s face as he used his thumb to push the ice cube deep into the cup of her bra.
Moving around in front of her, he used his fingers on the outside of her bra to work the ice cube into place directly over her nipple, dragging a cold, wet path along her breast. When the ice made contact with her already beaded nipple, Addie shrieked, her hands instinctively coming up to her breast.
Lane set his glass down, grabbed her wrists and forced them to the arms of the chair. He wrapped her fingers around the wood. “Your hands stay here.”
“Please, it’s too much. It hurts.”
“Does it?” He grabbed the lump of the ice cube and lifted it, offering a moment of relief before circling it around the nipple.
Addie whimpered and moaned.
Lane carefully repositioned it. “Are you aroused?”
“Yessss.” The intense sensation at the tip of her breast was fading as her skin numbed. Addie couldn’t deny the flood of wetness in her sex it had caused, but she was glad it was done.
Lane took another ice cube from his glass.
“No,” she whispered.
He rubbed it against her lips. Water trickled into her mouth, down her chin.
Lane pulled out the other bra cup and slid the ice cube in. She threw her head back, panting. Her fists clenched around the chair arms, trembling as she forced them to remain open.
Lane stroked the inside of her thigh with one hand as the other manipulated the ice cube around her nipple. “Good girl.”
Ripples of sensation tracked up and down her arms, legs and back. Addie tipped her head forward, meeting Lane’s gaze with her own. He was a port in her storm of feeling. His big body radiated calm even as his eyes burned with intensity.
“Stand up.” He stepped back to give her space. “Now turn around and bend over. Put your hands on the seat, elbows straight.”
Addie did as he ordered, her garters pressing into the backs of her thighs and her ass as she did. The new position caused her breasts to shift, the melting ice shifting so it wasn’t directly on her nipples.
He slid his hand high between her thighs, pinched her. “Remember what I said about keeping your legs spread.”
This time she didn’t hesitate as she took a side step, spreading her legs. There was the clink of ice against glass and then cold drops fell against her back.
Lane rubbed ice along her right ass cheek, over the fabric of her panties. “Have you been fucked anally?” The ice pressed the fabric of her panties between the globes of her ass.
“Ah, um, no.” The ice bumped over her rear entrance, causing her to jump. It felt strangely good.
“Have you had anything up your ass? Fingers, plug, vegetables?”
“Vegetables? Oh my god, no.”
“I like the idea of training you to take a nice thick cucumber up this pretty ass.”
“Can you do that?”
“I can, and will, do anything I want to you. You’re mine.”
A shiver that had nothing to do with ice racked Addie.
That’s not true. He can’t fuck you. This is a job.
But it didn’t feel like a job as he lifted her panties at the waist and slid the ice cube underneath. The cube settled into the crack of her ass, sliding down toward her pussy. His fingers never touched her. All she felt was the silky material of her panties as he manipulated the ice cube from the other side, as he’d done with her breasts. As it passed over her anus there was a sudden pressure and the ring of her ass gave slightly. For one terrifying, thrilling, moment, Addie thought he was going to force the ice cube into her.
She cried out in fear, in excitement.
Lane reached around her, broad hand cupping her stomach, the contact calming her. “Don’t worry, I’ll prep you more than that before I put anything up your sweet ass.”
The ice moved south, between the lips of her pussy. Addie’s breath hissed out between her clenched teeth. She thought she heard SJ murmur “beautiful” but then she couldn’t think as the ice rubbed against her clit. It was so cold it burned. The muscles low in her belly tightened, her body rocketing close to orgasm.
“I can’t, it’s too cold.”
“Did I give you permission to come?”
“Permission?” Addie panted. She twisted to look over her shoulder at Lane.
“A sub must have permission to orgasm.”
“That’s bullshit,” she spat.
Lane grabbed her hair, forcing her to face forward. The tension on her hair pulled her head up.
“A submissive doesn’t know the Dom’s plan for her.” As he spoke, the ice cube left her clit, moving toward the entrance to her body. “She must trust that her Dom will care for her, pleasure her, if that is his wish and if she deserves it. She must also accept that she might not always get orgasms exactly when she wants them. His plan may include bigger, better orgasms later.”
Lane slid the half-melted ice cube into her pussy.
“Oh, oh, oh.” Addie panted and thrashed. She clenched, trying to push the ice out.
“No, relax. Let it slide into you.”
Lane hadn’t been kidding about knowing his sub’s body. Addie relaxed, whimpering as the ice made its way inside her, causing a deep shiver to pass through her.
“Then again,” Lane went on, “there are times when a Dom just wants to see his sub come until she screams his name.”
Lane slid his arms under her hips and carried her two steps to the couch, where he flipped her over onto her back.
“Arms above your head, legs spread.”
Addie obeyed, quickly throwing one leg over the back of the couch, the other foot on the floor. Lane loomed over her, one knee between her spread legs, his left arm braced on the edge of the couch, his right hovering over her sex.
“Look at me. When you come, you thank me. Understand?”
“Good.” Lane placed his index and middle finger on her clit, over her panties, and rubbed. Pleasure rolled through her and Addie’s eyes fluttered closed.
“No, look at me.”
Her eyes popped open. “How am I, oh, supposed to follow all these rules, ah, when you make me feel, mmmmmhmmm, like this?”
Lane just smiled. “You don’t have permission to come.” His fingers continued their pattern of circles and vertical strokes.
“Then you better stop that, because I’m close.” The orgasm was there, coiled low in her belly, just waiting to be released.
Addie stared at him in shock. “I didn’t want you to actually stop!”
“I don’t think you fully understand that you’re not in control. And you need to learn that.”
“I do understand that! I did everything you said.” She searched his face, but there was no hint of teasing.
Lane stood and stepped back.
“Stand up. It’s time to get serious.”
Lane would have bet ten large that if there’d been a gun handy he’d be full of holes. Addie looked ready to kill as she glared up at him. She was sex personified as she lay spread open, her wet lingerie clinging to her distended nipples and labia. Her hair was mussed, her chest and cheeks flushed.
“Serious? What the fuck was this?” She jumped to her feet, hands balled into fists.
Sexual frustration was one of the worst sensations in the world. In his experience, new subs handled it in one of two ways—tears or violence.
“This was an introduction.”
“To what an asshole you are?” Addie socked him in the shoulder and started cussing in Spanish.
He’d pegged her for a violence kind of girl. Good to know he could still call ‘em.
Lane planted his shoulder in her waist and stood, Addie dangling over his back. She punched his ass a few times and Lane was just glad she hadn’t gone for the kidneys.
“Put me down.”
“Sadly, we can’t do that. But I’ll get as close as I can.”
He dropped her on the foot of the bed and then hauled her forward by the ankles. He was vaguely aware of the click of the camera and SJ’s hurried steps as she rushed to find a good angle.
Before Addie could figure out what he was doing, Lane dropped to one knee and fastened a buckle cuff—already attached to a rope and pulley system connected to the bottom of the bedpost—around her left ankle.
“What’s that?” she stopped cursing long enough to look at what he’d done. He took advantage of her distraction to cuff her right ankle. Then he stepped back. He’d given her enough the-big-bad-man-forced-me free passes, now he was going to make her do it the hard way.
“Stand at the foot of the bed and spread your legs.”
“Why should I?” Petulance dripping from every word. Her dark hair tumbled over one shoulder, her eyes narrowed.
Lane wanted to grin and shout with joy. He loved women—everything about them. They were complicated, beautiful and mystical. He’d gotten into BDSM hoping to decode them—Doms always seemed to have all the answers. What he’d learned was the best anyone could do was react, possibly map patterns of known actions and satisfactory reactions. Learning to handle women sexually had morphed him into an acceptable dating companion too, giving him the best of both worlds, and ample opportunity to know what he liked in women. This woman was exactly what he liked—she was like the strong, confident, slightly edgy women he usually dated, and he was seeing hints of the naughty, playful, super-sexy submissives he preferred for BDSM play.
Lane hid his delight and crossed his arms. “Stand up, spread your legs.”
“I would, if you weren’t such a cock tease.”
Lane raised a brow. “With a mouth like that, I think I want you gagged.”
Damn. He hadn’t actually wanted to gag her. He liked her mouth too much for that, but now he couldn’t back down. It would have to be something harsh, so she’d do anything to avoid it in the future.
Lane’s personal toys, plus a few things he’d had the production buy, were stashed in a dresser on the other side of the bed. He opened the top drawer and selected a studded black buckle strap with mouthpiece mounted on the inside. It was shaped like a mouth guard commonly used in sports—a u shape with a channel for the upper teeth. Inside the “U” bend of the mouthpiece was an inflatable ball gag. Pumping it up caused the heavy rubber balloon to fill the sub’s mouth, pushing back her tongue and forcing the jaw open. Straps around the back and top of the head held everything in place.
Lane weighted the gag in his hand. It was a fairly extreme piece, especially to use on a novice. Yet, as harsh as it was, Lane got hard thinking about using it on Addie, imagining her eyes getting wide as he inflated the ball inside her mouth.
Focusing on that image, he grabbed the accompanying pump and returned to the sexually frustrated and petulant submissive-in-training.
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