Read an Excerpt
Becoming His Master
By M.Q. Barber
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2015 M.Q. Barber
All rights reserved.
As a boisterous crowd climbed the winding grand staircase to the adult playrooms above, Henry Webb took a quieter stroll down the narrow hall behind the front desk.
After last week's utter debacle, he'd intended to spend the evening relaxing upstairs. A request from Victor, however, carried the weight of a summons.
A few of his own pieces graced the walls thick with three decades of club history. Victor's office awaited him behind an intricately carved door of well-polished black walnut. His knock skimmed the falling whorls of Persephone's hair.
He stepped inside.
Victor dropped his pen into its holder. "The boy is back."
Clicking the door shut behind him, Henry traced the cool, sinuous antiqued brass handle. If Victor intended to shock him with the announcement, he'd failed. Henry had expected the boy's return. Anyone who'd spent more than five minutes in the novice submissive's company would have predicted it.
"Is that why Emma sent me straight back to your office like an errant schoolboy?" Unbuttoning his suit coat, he claimed a wing chair across the desk from Victor. Firm with a hint of cushioning, the chair, as with every piece in the room, conveyed a power and authority commensurate with Victor's role as president of their little social club.
"My wife hasn't thought of you as an errant schoolboy in a decade." Wolfish amusement lurked in Victor's smile. "Did you tell her how exquisite she looks this evening?"
"Of course." To do otherwise would have offended a beautiful woman and been a lie to boot. The corset shaped Em's body into a feast for the eyes, a centerpiece at a front desk staffed by a handful of beauties of both sexes. "Is the blue a new piece?"
"Mm-hmm." Victor delivered the distant nod of a man chasing fantasies and returned bearing a frown. "She wanted it laced tighter, but it's her first night in it."
Henry favored the cautious approach. Breaking in a new corset demanded time and patience, much like a marathon runner shaping a new set of sneakers.
Pale brown eyes gleaming, creases gathering at the corners, Victor confessed, "She begged so prettily I had to turn her over my knee and deny her satisfaction."
Henry settled back in the cozy leather with a chuckle. Given Emma's masochistic needs, she'd undoubtedly reveled in the attention. "Thus the glowing smile she's wearing while greeting the players tonight."
Victor grunted. "She loves the denial almost more than the completion." He stretched his jaw, sharp and shadowed by his short-trimmed beard. "I have plans to take her this evening, but I've yet to decide whether she'd enjoy it more if I leave her unsatisfied. A bit of time basking in her arousal out front might convince her to climax sweetly for me when the time comes." Flaring his nostrils, he savored a slow breath. "She makes the loveliest sounds."
A truth Henry had witnessed often enough, and one requiring no response. He'd learned from Victor in much the same way, as the older man verbalized his thought process for a scene before directing it. The tutelage had granted Henry deeper insights into the how and why of the choices made — and, perhaps more importantly, the opportunity to see them change on the fly when a sub's needs dictated something different from the anticipated performance.
Victor waved, a dismissal of the subject though likely not of his attention to Emma's upcoming satisfaction. "But that's not why I wanted to speak with you upon your arrival."
The bloodied back. The wrenching cries. The snap of the bolt cutters bringing freedom. Henry forced the wash of images aside. "The boy."
Jay Kress, the latest victim of Calvin Gardner's sadistic pleasures.
"He signed the papers. Consensual, inadvertent error." Victor's flat tone struck with all the joy of an untuned piano.
Another missed opportunity to eject a bully from their ranks. A dues-paying dominant couldn't be tossed on his backside without cause, and Cal was clever enough to choose fresh-faced submissives unlikely to make a formal complaint.
Submissives like Jay Kress. "And now he's seeking a new dominant."
"Or the same one."
"Cal is a problem." They'd never be rid of him so long as the subs held their tongues and Cal's father sat on the governing board.
Victor splayed his hands, palms up. "One that time and training might fix."
"He preys on the new faces." He struggled to keep the anger from his tone and didn't quite manage. "He delights in their pain, humiliation, and degradation."
"Some of them want that, Henry." Victor waved off the objection already forming on his lips. "A small percentage, yes, but some do. Most of them young men like our Mr. Kress. Would you tell them their desires are in error?"
"I'd tell them if they're among the vast majority of submissives who want to feel cherished and secure, they'd do well to stay away from Cal." His grip on the chair arms left impressions in the leather. He smoothed them with strict attention for each dark ripple in the surface. "A man or woman who violates a safeword has no honor and deserves no trust."
Preaching to the choir, but Victor hadn't seen the novice after. Hadn't wiped the blood from his back or bundled him into a robe.
"Yes, as Emma told the other board members, to no avail." Victor tapped the desk, his fingers reflecting in the glass atop the mahogany wood. A match for the shade of Emma's hair. "She spoke to the boy in private after his testimony and gently suggested he consider not playing again until he'd listed boundaries for himself and his future partners."
"He couldn't articulate a single one, could he?" An all-too-common problem among new players. Seeking acceptance, they neglected safety. Those with specific fantasies found negotiating easier. Confused submissives lacking self-awareness, however, required careful handling.
"After Cal stalked out in a fit — he left the boy tied, Victor, with no guarantee I'd clean up his scene for him, for God's sake — and I unbound the boy, he was a sobbing, bloodied wreck."
"An outcome that can be the result of a good scene as much as a bad one." Victor wore his lecture face, one eyebrow raised above a chilly gaze. "Would you have me outlaw whipping? My Em loves the sting on her back. Blood and tears can be a component of satisfaction."
"Not for this boy." The cries had pierced him. Not a shred of pleasure in them, and no reason for the young man to have endured the pain. "You didn't hear him calling pitifully for Cal to return. Apologizing for using his safeword, saying he knew he wasn't to do it and it wouldn't happen again."
The blatant betrayal of consensual play strung him tight with rage. "You know as well as I do a dominant can create a vivid mental picture to satisfy a sub's need for pain and swap out the dangerous threat with a safe toy that fulfills the purpose without causing harm."
If Jay Kress wanted to be tortured and violated, the fantasy could have been accomplished without the potential danger of perforating his colon with a whip handle. "The boy didn't want any part of it, Victor. He only wanted to please his master."
Victor's soft tone and expectant stare thrummed awareness of the gap between his spine and the chair. Henry eased back and resettled his shoulders. He ought not allow emotion so much control. Less so in the club and least of all in a situation whose principal players had ceded none to him.
Ever the teacher, Victor nodded. "Which is why my darling Emma is even now putting a bug in the ear of every dominant who enters. She'll encourage them to stay away from the beautiful dark-haired boy in the tight leather shorts with the vivid welts across his back. Unless they want to find themselves in my office explaining their actions."
"He'll beg until he finds someone." Back a week after such an intense, devastating session? The lack of self-control blared alarms. "He's a danger to himself." Denying him access would be a wiser course.
"He is, that's true." Victor frowned, pulling his features into craggy canyons. "If I ban him from the club, he'll find a more dangerous playground."
"The boy needs a teacher." Solution found, he crossed his leg over his knee. Victor would recommend a good one, and all would resolve itself. His own conflicted emotions would subside in time. "A caring dominant to help him find his boundaries and learn to assert himself in negotiation."
"Such was my thought as well." Victor's accompanying stare clarified with nary a waver.
"Me?" No and no again. "He'll associate me with his torture." Better to leave him to someone else. Healthier for all concerned. "Possibly even resent me for stopping the scene and costing him Cal's dubious affection."
"Emma says the boy called you his savior." The return of the wolfish smile didn't bode well. Victor only let the look out to play when he meant to win. "Asked incessant questions. Had she met you, how well did she know you, did you play with boys or girls, didn't you have just the dreamiest green eyes...."
The chair's embrace suffocated. Henry launched himself free. "Hero worship, then." Condensation slipped down the carafe of ice water on the sideboard and joined its fellows in a spreading patch on the robin's egg blue linen beneath. "It'll fade."
"Until it does, why not take advantage of it?"
He tucked his face toward the bookcase. Disgust and fear suffused him. Victor knew where to twist the knife.
"Positive advantage, Henry. The boy needs a guide, and you'd be an excellent one. You've a light touch with wounded souls, and he deserves it, doesn't he? If nothing else, the psychological challenge ought to appeal to you."
Shoulders tight, Henry tipped his head back as if he might shake off the suggestion and the problem with it. He whispered his confession to the silent row of unaccusing spines, the pages within full of their own secrets. "I'm attracted to him, Victor."
He'd stood and watched because of the boy's beauty. The lines of his back in sharp relief as Cal had wielded the whip. And then the blood. The shouting. The urgent need to stop Cal without provoking more harm. "He deserves delicate handling, not yet another dominant who might confuse their own desires for his."
"At least talk to him. You enjoy denial almost as well as my darling wife does."
The impropriety of lengthy silence forced him to turn and attend to Victor's words. Their shared gaze acknowledged truth. But the words wouldn't come.
Folding his hands on the desk, Victor leaned forward. "Wouldn't you enjoy the opportunity to sit across from the boy knowing you could have him with a word and forcing yourself to strict control instead?"
Breath flooded his lungs. "You know me too well."
"Age and experience, Henry." Victor relaxed into his seat and straightened his tie. "Talk to the boy. My runners say he's been wandering the third floor as a green-ribbon in search of a partner. Why not give him one?"
Wearing a green ribbon. Attention-seeking behavior. Meat for the lions, tender flesh and a heart more tender still. Henry paced. He'd already lost this battle. The conclusion foregone.
"A talk, then. Tonight only." He'd help Mr. Kress see the need for balance and turn him loose. Perhaps the damage had been superficial, easily remedied with a stern reminder to take care for his own safety.
"Cal's been banned for two months." Victor's blandness only ever disguised spear points beneath. "The boy could explore his desires more freely with your assistance."
"Non-sexual, Victor." Henry bent his back and gripped the top of the wing chair. Smooth, supple leather. The submissive's skin would be even softer. More supple. Twenty-four, twenty-five at the most, youth clinging to smooth cheeks. A crime not to paint him.
"I won't touch him when his need is so raw and untrained." He'd cross any number of ethical lines by becoming involved with the younger man, even if the lines were of his own making and meant nothing to others at the club. No, Victor would understand. William would understand.
"A hands-off approach, certainly, if you like." Victor ran a finger along the edge of his desk. "So long as you don't mind Emma and myself wagering on the outcome."
Henry forced his hands from the chair. "Two months of instruction, and I'll turn him over to an ethical dominant who suits his desires."
Two months ought to be enough. It would have to be, if he meant to keep this innocent from playing with Cal once more. Even an abusive dominant could prove more alluring than loneliness for a submissive desperate for a place to belong.
Victor's casual grunt betrayed his disbelief. "My lovely wife thinks you'll like this boy, and she has a sixth sense about these things. I wouldn't bet against her."
"And her wager is?"
"That you'll put a leash on him and take him home. Not tonight, of course. But eventually."
"I don't collect strays, Victor."
He left his play partners better off than he'd found them and took pride in doing so, but their games stayed at the club. The married straight boys who wanted more punishment than their wives delivered. The sweet-faced girls seeking validation for desires that shamed them.
Short-term or long-term, impact play or sexual possession, it made no difference. None of them had enticed his senses or inspired his passion enough to bring them home. When he found his muse, he would know. He was in his early thirties yet, and the post-college set still found him attractive enough. He had time.
Victor shrugged, an elegant gesture rippling the fabric of his dress shirt. "Then there's no harm in spending the evening with the boy and offering him some friendly advice."
"No harm at all." Henry straightened and buttoned his suit. "If you'll excuse me, I need to track down young Mr. Kress and inform him he may stop searching for a new dominant. For tonight, at least, he has found one."
Victor had sliced deep into the heart of the problem, into the dreams he'd been unable to banish in the last week. The ones where he'd kissed the sweet submissive's wounds closed and fucked him senseless. Where the boy had called out not his safeword but Henry's name, worship etched in his throat.
The narrow hall gave way to the main lobby. He passed the front desk without slowing. Allowing Emma to prod the cut Victor had opened would be unwise.
Only a predator would chase a brutalized, victimized submissive so uncertain of his own wants and needs. Victor's approval mitigated but failed to banish the concern. His wife's approval raised a fearful hope. She'd sat and talked with the young man.
He threaded his way up the staircase, nodding to familiar faces but not engaging in conversation. He kept his amusements within the club's walls, except on those now-rare occasions when he partook in events at Emma and Victor's home or Will's cabin retreat. His home served as his private sanctuary and his studio. He took no one home.
Emma knew those things. In their nearly fifteen-year friendship, she and Victor hadn't set foot inside his apartment. Yet Emma thought he'd take this boy there. Young Mr. Kress must have been quite convincing in more than looks. Or he himself had given away more than he'd realized. In the time he'd spent learning to read Emma's cues, she'd learned to read his as well.
As he reached the third floor, he forced himself to stop. He stood aside from the flowing crowd and locked away the inappropriate attraction. Jay Kress was in pain. He needed a neutral guide and a friend, and he would have one.
No matter how appealing he proved to be. No matter how he attempted to express his hero worship, his little crush. He'd formed an attachment in a moment with emotions running high. He'd come to his senses. Until he did, Henry would tighten the reins on himself and avoid taking advantage of his innocent charm at all costs.
"All right, my dear boy." He pushed off the wall. "Let's see where you wander, how you conduct yourself, and whom you approach." Burying himself in the crowd, he went in search of a shock of black hair atop a wounded boy.
His wounded boy.
Henry edged as close as he dared in the next hour, catching snatches of conversation from each encounter. The younger man's athletic grace and bowed head, his silent persistence, granted him introduction after introduction with male and female dominants alike, though none approached him first.
Excerpted from Becoming His Master by M.Q. Barber. Copyright © 2015 M.Q. Barber. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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