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Bind Me Before You Go
A Serve Novel
By Harper Kincaid, Stephen Morgan
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2015 Harper Kincaid
All rights reserved.
Cassidy Peyton probably wouldn't have been up for her roommate's suggestion on a good day, but she especially wasn't after an exhausting twenty-four hour shift at her new job as a social worker.
"You're out of your mind if you think I'm going with you."
Allie chuckled. "You don't understand. This place is amazing. Like genie-in-a-bottle-only-granting-sexy-wishes kind of amazing. They just approved my membership, and I'm dying to go play."
"Yeah, but if they just approved your membership, how am I supposed to get in? I haven't even applied."
"Well ..." she drawled out, obviously stalling in order to come up with a sitcom-worthy, hair-brained scheme. Then her face brightened to the point that Cassidy could actually picture the light bulb turning on over her head. "That's why you should come! We'll get your application started." Her roommate gestured across the living room, like she was drawing a map of the club. "There's a bar up front for newcomers. Totally separate from the levels where anyone plays. You can walk in with me, fill out your application there, have a few drinks — my treat, by the way — while I go to the newbie class."
She scrunched her eyebrows and narrowed her gaze at Cassidy. "And that's it? You'd be okay with me not doing anything else?"
"I picked you as my roommate because you wanted to break out of your comfort zone. I'd like to see you put your own app, but hey, just coming with me will be a step in the right direction. Besides, it takes them a few days before they let you know if you're invited back for an interview. If they turn you down, decision made. But if they let you in?"
If they let me in ...
It was too tempting to think about. She was exhausted. And honestly, while she hadn't been to a sex club before, this wouldn't be the first time she'd tried to break out of her shell.
Last month? She had bought sexy lingerie, hoping for her own version of a Field of Dreams: "If you buy it, you will come." At least, that was her version of the quote. Not that it had worked out that way. Results? Nothing.
Last week? She had tried speed dating. Results? Worse than nothing. A total disaster. Only two guys were interested in her: one had breath so bad it could be formulized for chemical weaponry , and the other texted her pictures of his less-than-impressive junk. If those mishaps were typical of New Yorker single life, she was more than happy to get a jump-start on her life as a shut-in.
"All I want to do is put on my comfy PJ's, have a glass of wine the size of my head, and read one of my dirty books."
Allie put her hands on her hips. "Oh, so you'd rather read about a hot sexual adventure instead of experiencing it for yourself?" She cocked one eyebrow up perfectly. "Sweetie, what's the point of being young and single if you're going to collapse at home every night?"
Cassidy opened her mouth to offer a rebuttal, or at least to dole out one of her usual quick-witted retorts. But she ended up shutting her mouth just as fast.
Truth told? Allison had a point.
Cassidy sighed and released her hair from its restrictive ponytail holder. "I can't believe I'm even talking to you about this."
Allie smirked. "Do I sense a chink in your armor?"
"More like fatigue. Which is all the more reason I should stay home —"
But her roommate of four weeks went in for the kill.
"You know why I picked you out of all the choices I had for possible roommates?" She didn't wait for a response. "Because you said you moved to the city to stretch yourself out of your comfort zone. That your life back home was predictable and small and, at twenty-six years old, you knew that was just ... sad."
Okay, so her roommate was right. Not that Cassidy would admit it. Allie could have lived with anyone she wanted. Her place was huge by New York standards, it was in a great location, and — thanks to Allie's deceased grandmother, who'd left the place to her — she owned the place free and clear. A two-bedroom, two-bath condo on the Upper West Side, right off of Central Park and two blocks off the subway.
What was Cassidy supposed to say when Allie had practically begged her to move in?
Oh no, I would much rather live in some single room studio where the kitchen doubles as my bedroom.
"Okay, so you're right. I do want to live more adventurously," she answered while stripping off her work clothes on the way to her room. "But I just got off my shift and I'm totally beat. Not all of us can blog for a living. Some of us do real work out there."
Allison followed her and leaned against the door into her room. "Don't be jealous because I get paid to be fabulous," she replied with a devilish grin.
"I am totally jealous, but it's a velvet envy, so I'll live."
Allie's brows furrowed, and Cassidy had to bite her lip to prevent herself from laughing because, between Allie's huge hazel eyes and delicate, pixie-like features, she looked like a sweet, confused puppy, complete with head tilt.
"What the heck's a velvet envy?"
"Basically means you totally want what someone else has, but you're still really happy they have it."
She was now down to her bra and underwear, feeling as if she could breathe for the first time in hours. She belly-flopped onto her bed and then crawled under the covers.
"Feel better there, snookums?" Allison teased.
"Insert me groaning here, Alls. Listen, I love hanging out with you. God knows it's never boring or predictable, but really, I'm totally fried. I'll go with you next time, okay?"
Allie gave her most effective pouting face. "But tonight's their newbie night, and they only have those once a month. Do you really want me to have to wait a whole thirty days before I can go again?"
"Delaying gratification is a sign of growth and maturity."
"It's a sign of being an old chicken-shit too scared to live out loud."
Damn, another great point. The woman should've been a lawyer, not a blogger.
"I would go," Cassidy said. "But I'm going to pass out unless I get a little sleep."
Allison's expression softened. "Aw, sweetie. That's all you had to say."
Cassidy gave her a side-eye. "Just like that?"
"Just like that." She patted Cassidy's shoulder. "You get some rest."
Finally! She had to give it to Allie. If she'd persisted just a little longer, she'd have broken through Cassidy's resistance. Which probably said something about how much Cassidy actually wanted to go. But she really did need to sleep.
"Thanks for understanding."
Her friend smiled and pulled the covers up to Cassidy's chest, like she was tucking her in. "What am I, coldhearted? The meeting's not 'til much later anyways. You go right ahead and take a disco nap."
Cassidy had already closed her eyes, but she opened them and sat straight up when she realized what Allie had said.
Allison smiled. "Yeah. I'll wake you in a few hours when it's time to get ready."
Cassidy propped herself up and fluffed a pillow before sticking it behind the small of her back. If only the pillow were a pair of muscular hands to massage away the tension.
"Allie, it's not just that I'm tired."
Cassidy raised her eyebrows. "A BDSM club? Really? How much more Fifty-Shades-of-Grey frustrated-housewife can you get? What's this place called, anyway?"
Allison's lips twitched, looking as if she was trying to suppress another one of her smirks. "The club's called Serve."
Cassidy pretended to pick her jaw off the floor. "You're kidding."
Her roommate straightened her spine and jutted her chin out. "And I thought you were going to be a cool roommate." She poked her finger at Cassidy. "You are truly and totally the dullest knife in the butcher block. No fun at all."
"I am fun!" Cassidy protested. And she was ... wasn't she? "Well, okay, I'm trying to be more fun."
But these days, fun equaled disappointment. That said, she was human, and lately the loneliness had gotten so thick it clogged her throat at the most inconvenient moments. She thought she'd be used to the feeling by now.
Back when she was in college she'd had relationships and, looking back, she realized she'd always morphed herself into whatever the boyfriend of the moment wanted. The guy wanted vivacious and lively? That's what she delivered. He was into the shy, bookish type? Well, then hanging at the library was her new favorite pastime. Anything to prevent being abandoned again.
The irony was that the more she'd tried, the further away they'd drifted from her. It wasn't until she was in grad school that she'd become aware of her pattern. She'd never even asked herself if they were enough for her. None of them had the first clue how to curl her toes. Or challenge her mind. Or move her soul. Worse, she'd gone all those years not realizing any of that stuff ought to be important. Not just to them, but to herself.
Wasn't that why she'd moved to New York earlier that summer? Hell, wasn't that why she'd moved in with Allie? Finally, a chance to stay true to who she was. No more playing a part. And no more settling for less than what she wanted, either.
Yet here she was turning down the very real opportunity Allie offered for her to bash out of her comfort zone.
"Why do you have such a hard-on over this club anyway?"
"Hold on, I'll show you!" Allie exclaimed. Even while wearing five-inch, Christian Louboutin heels, Allie sprinted out of the room as if in bare feet, and then she came skipping back in holding a magazine. "I was perusing the latest issue of Preston's Financial."
"What's a hip New York lifestyle blogger doing reading that ancient relic?"
"Oh, they're not like that anymore! They're now this cool hybrid of savvy financial reporting and trendy, urban living cool." Then she licked her thumb and flipped the pages at warp speed, her face brightening once she found what she was looking for. She handed it over. "Case in point, their most respected finance journalist, Catherine Preston, wrote a piece about Serve."
Cassidy glanced at the article, then back at her friend. "What does it say?"
Her roommate paused to study Cassidy's face. "It says ... It says Serve is a place that helps people find out who they are and what they want. It's a place to discover and fulfill your fantasies in absolute safety."
Holy crap. Wasn't that just what Cassidy had been thinking about? She was tired of trying to fulfill a fantasy and getting nothing but disappointment. But here was a place dedicated to turning a fantasy into reality.
Allie touched her hand. "I'm nervous. But after reading that article, I just felt like this was somewhere I had to go. There's something I need to experience, and it feels like this place can help me. Ever get that feeling?"
"Um yeah," she replied while propping an extra pillow behind her head. "That's how I felt about coming to New York."
Allison sat back, her butt resting on the backs of her heels. She softly murmured, "Then you get me. You understand the need to find something out there that gets you to where you need to go. Looking for something — anything — to make you feel whole again."
Something about her just then, with her painted mouth and slick hair, her shiny shoes and her barely there voice, her eyes as wide as a little girl's, tore at Cassidy's heart. It worried her as well, knowing that sentiment from personal experience.
How many times had she wished someone would be there for her the exact same way Allie was asking her to be?
Maybe she had a point. Maybe they both needed to bash out of their comfort zone. Because maybe Fate didn't grant the wishes of mortals who refused to go on the epic quest.
She raised her right eyebrow. "I have conditions ..."
Allie's grin could have split a melon. "Name them and consider it done."
"I am not wearing that sex kitten club crap."
"Fine, be boring. Next?"
"I'll get a drink at the bar, but I'm not promising I'll put in an application."
Allie held her hands to her chest. "But you'll come?"
After a moment, she nodded. "I'll come."
She practically squealed with delight. She hugged Cassidy, then patted her pillow. "It's three o'clock now, and the newbie session doesn't start 'til 10 pm. You get your beauty sleep, and then we'll go see the sexy, seedy underbelly of this city."
"Great," she mumbled under her breath as Allie closed her door.
Slivers of sunlight peeked through her curtains, but most of the space around her was now swallowed by the shadows. She grabbed her eye mask to block it all out and burrowed herself deep into her bed.
As she drifted off to sleep, she muttered to herself, "What the hell have I gotten myself into now?"CHAPTER 2
For someone who loved living in the city as much as David Cavill did, he sure hadn't spent a heck of a lot of time there over the last six months. At least it had been for a good cause: two Search and Rescue's, both successful, and an off-book, overseas surveillance job he hadn't trusted to anyone but himself.
That was all over now. He'd finally recruited two of his buddies from his former Special Ops unit to join his firm. Maybe now he'd finally have some time to get back to his life. Well, if it could still be called a life.
It was his own fault everything outside of work had fallen apart. Two years ago, he had mistakenly chosen to open up to Marla, his ex-fiancée that only lasted three days, even though none of his other lovers had ever responded well when he'd let them into his private life. But he'd still thought Marla — supposedly the love of his life — would be different.
He should have known better.
The moment David had revealed his family history, she had bailed. Others before her had also left him as soon as they found out, but he thought she would be different.
He was wrong. Two years later and the wound still ached.
At least on missions, he knew the risks. He could help people without worrying about whether he'd get close to them — and whether they'd abandon him. They needed him to be a strong, silent protector. And it was a role he was glad to fulfill. All that mattered was keeping those people safe. Keeping them whole.
He would have preferred to jump into the next mission immediately, but it would be two weeks before his new contract began. Besides, who was he kidding? Six months was a long time without a vacation. He'd barely been home a day and already the time off had awakened an itch he had to scratch.
What better place to scratch that itch than his old haunt, Serve?
The minute he walked through the doors, he felt like he was coming home. Serve was a space where you could be your true self. No judgments. No explanations. Just pleasure. The chance to be whole, even if only for a night.
There'd been a time when he was at the club often, offering demonstrations and privately indulging in Japanese rope bondage, his favorite kink. He could get off in a variety of ways, but practicing Shibari was his drug of choice when it came to setting a scene.
He'd barely made it into the club when he heard his name called from across the room.
It was Leo Delacroix, not only an employee at Serve, but also a friend of his since high school. Both had grown up in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, and it had been Leo who'd introduced David to Serve once he'd returned from serving in Afghanistan.
In fact, now that he thought about it, Leo was one of the only civilian friends he had. The few others he'd put in the category were all former military, like him. At least the ones who'd actually made it home.
After college, David had hoped Leo would join the Marines with him, but he'd had other ideas about his future, and ironically, being part of Serve seemed to satisfy Leo's own protective instincts.
"Good to see you, my man," Leo said while clapping him on the shoulder. "Been too long. Where've you been at lately?"
"Nowhere near as interesting as home," he replied, taking in his surroundings then turning his attention back on Leo. "What are you up to tonight?"
"It's funny you ask." He hooked up his thumb like a hitchhiker and pointed over his shoulder to the club at large. "Just got promoted to manager after Nolan left us high and dry."
"You're kidding. This place was his life."
Excerpted from Bind Me Before You Go by Harper Kincaid, Stephen Morgan. Copyright © 2015 Harper Kincaid. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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