Kate wants a man who will take charge—she just needs to find the right guy. Fortunately, her friend is throwing a kinky Halloween party with a guest list loaded with sexy, available men. That’s where she meets Banner.
Dark and intense, Banner’s not just a Dominant, he’s a Master looking for a slave. Kate isn’t interested in something that extreme, but when he offers to help her find the perfect Dom, while training her to be a flawless submissive, she’s glad to have a matchmaker and protector.
Banner knows they’re not compatible, yet something about Kate is impossible to resist. Once he finds her the right Dom, will he be able let her go?
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
“Hey, that guy’s cute. I wonder if he’d let me give him a blow job.”
Kate arched a brow at her friend. “Uh, I think your collar’s on too tight. That’s your husband.”
“I know.” Janine sighed dreamily. “Did I tell you what he did to me last night?”
Kate’s cheeks heated. They didn’t have many TMI moments between them, but Janine had been getting more graphic lately. She guessed it went with the exhibitionist streak Janine’s husband never let her explore.
“Ugh.” Janine groaned, then stood from the couch they’d been lazing on. “Someone spilled red wine on the carpet. I’ll be back.” Walking backward across the living room, she fake-smiled and said, “Look happy and approachable!”
Kate rolled her eyes. For the past hour, she’d been doing just that. But she was afraid her happy-and-approachable face looked very much like a single-and-desperate face.
With a discouraged sigh, she scanned the living room, taking in the array of Halloween costumes. Heavy metal played in the background, pumping up the gritty feel of the decorations. Her best friend, Janine, had busted her ass trying to imitate the dark mystery of the underground BDSM dungeon she belonged to. Kate had only been there once, briefly, for a bondage demo, but now it featured as the setting for most of her fantasies.
In the corner of the room, a muscular blond caught her attention. He wore a red cape and carried a large hammer. His long hair swayed as he moved his head to the beat. Standing at the finger food table, a shirtless man wearing camo pants and dog tags shoveled about a dozen pigs in a blanket into his mouth. Despite his ravaging the snack table, his dark skin and a strong jawline gave him major sex appeal. Another guy brushed past him, balancing on tall heels, dressed as Dr. Frank-N-Furter from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Cross-dressing wasn’t her thing, but she had to admit he wore the costume well. Her gaze swept over him from head to toe. Damn, his legs looked better in fishnets than hers did. Upon closer observation, she spotted the chain around his neck. A subtle nod to a Master or Mistress?
How many of the attendees were Doms? And which ones? Since first exploring the world of BDSM, she’d learned not to judge based on appearances. Thor looked like the type to take control in the bedroom—strong, confident, one hundred percent male. Or maybe that was her libido talking. She’d seen some pretty macho guys fall to their knees for the right person.
That was her too. On the outside, she was a no-nonsense, don’t-take-shit-from-anybody kind of girl. But somehow she knew the right person would make her melt. She just had to find him.
Janine was supposed to be signaling which ones had potential to be a good match, but playing host kept her busy. A few guys had wandered over, drunkenly flirting, and she’d shooed them away.
Growling in frustration, she sat back on the couch and eyed the party food on the table. Her stomach grumbled. Starving herself all day to look better in the corset she’d borrowed had backfired.
Pessimism wouldn’t get her a Dom, and she hated pity parties, so binging on junk food and sulking wasn’t an option. She just had to trust Janine to play matchmaker.
Finally, she spotted her friend on the other side of the room, whispering in Jack Sparrow’s ear, then gesturing toward Kate on the couch. Shit. The pressure was on. Janine had gone through all the trouble of setting this up for her—if she didn’t at least get a guy’s number, all of this work would have been for nothing.
Kate shamelessly checked the guy out. His dark goatee made him look wickedly sexy, even if it was fake. Dark, devilish eyes met hers, then narrowed. Yes, please. Sign me up.
After a nod and a smile for Janine, he strolled toward Kate. Damn. She gripped the couch cushion to keep from chickening out. A sexy pirate was coming her way and even his swagger was hot.
Straightening her shoulders, she gave herself a pep talk. Calm, cool, and confident. Just like she was with her clients.
He stopped in front of her.
With an uncharacteristic gulp, she looked up. “Hi.”
Ugh. Even the way he rumbled her name made her all shivery. “Yes.”
He grinned, revealing crooked teeth. Up close, he wasn’t as handsome as she’d thought—it was his costume that gave him the sex appeal—but she wasn’t exactly a supermodel, and she didn’t expect that in a guy either. “Janine told me to introduce myself to the pretty kitty on the couch. That must be you. I’m—”
He chuckled. “No. Vince.”
Short for Vincent? Even his name was pretty damn sexy.
“Nice to meet you.” She scooted over so he’d have room to sit down.
As he obliged, a whiff of his scent hit her. Cologne. She almost choked on it. Someone needed to tell him not to bathe in it.
“Do you want a drink?” he asked.
“Isn’t the rum gone?”
He leaned back and let loose a burst of laughter. “You’re funny. I like that. Janine says you’re looking for a Dom.”
Her cheeks heated. When he put it that way, she sounded like a cheap loser. Needing someone to play matchmaker in order to get a date certainly didn’t make her feel pretty. But was it her fault she was picky? Or that her fantasies were so kinky that vanilla guys were out of the running?
Unsure of what to say, she shrugged and looked in the other direction. This was more awkward than she’d thought. Couldn’t they just make a list and check off boxes? Kick it old school, like an arranged marriage?
Unfazed, he continued. “What kind of things are you into?”
Other than actually finding a partner, that was the biggest problem. She had no idea what she was into. Domination sounded good, but terrifying. Browsing social sites for kinksters only made her more confused, and a little creeped out. She couldn’t even count the number of unsolicited cock shots that had been messaged to her from admirers since joining. Maybe she should consider them compliments.
But here was a real live Dom, sitting next to her. This was her chance to get what she wanted—and she always got what she wanted. That is, when she knew what that was.
“I’m not exactly sure,” she answered. “I have zero experience.” Other than that one night at the club, and being a bit of a voyeur with Janine and Chris, she hadn’t experienced much firsthand.
Chris and Janine were her main connection to kink. Though she didn’t watch them play, the dynamics didn’t have to be obvious to be effective. Chris had a damn good Dom eye. One arch of the brow had Janine zipping her sassy mouth shut. When he crooked a finger, she walked, like the other end of a magnet, to his side. He smacked her ass when she teased him, which only made her do it more.
Although every feminist, social-worky bone in her body told her it was traitorous to want to submit to a man, Kate wanted to try it. Keyword try. Besides, she and Janine had talked about this at length—wasn’t part of feminism being in touch with her own sexuality and being unapologetic for what she was into? She had major doubts she could submit her will to anyone, but it starred in so many of her fantasies that not trying it seemed silly, even though fantasy and real life rarely matched up. She’d made a profile on two websites but it hadn’t amounted to much aside from opening her eyes to some fetishes that shocked her. So much so that it’d turned into a joke between her and Janine. There’s always weirder on KinkWorld they’d say when faced with anything out of the ordinary.
Vincent—she decided to call him the sexier version of his name in her head—leaned against the couch, drawing her attention back to him. “Everybody has to start somewhere. Maybe we can figure it out together. What kinds of things turn you on? Pain? Being told what to do? Being shared?”
Shared? She grimaced. He expected her to answer that? Normally, she wasn’t the blushing type but right then her face felt two shades past tomato. Talking turn-ons was too personal, too fast. She laughed nervously. “I don’t think that’s a good place to start.”
“Well, some things I can guess, if it’s easier for you. You’re looking for a Dom, so you must be submissive.”
She stared at him. Was this type of forwardness typical of Doms? Apparently small talk wasn’t his forte.
But how to answer his question? The idea of someone inflicting pain—small amounts—was one of her biggest fantasies. And admittedly, some of the photos she’d seen—women on leashes, kneeling at men’s feet, heads bowed—were pretty damn hot. She’d like to try spanking, at least once. Maybe bondage, but she needed full control. Forget a safeword; she wanted to direct every moment. That didn’t bode well for being a submissive. She knew that much.
Janine often teased her, calling her a rogue sub—a brat with no one to control her. She’d scoff and pretend to be offended by the idea. Truthfully, it was fascinating. She’d seen Janine challenge Chris, seen what it had amounted to for her friend. What would someone like Chris do with someone like Kate?
And could anyone make her crave submission? She’d seen the blissful look on Janine’s face when she knelt at Chris’s feet. She’d daydreamed about someone making her feel that way too. To have that deep connection to and synchronicity with another person seemed almost impossible, but somewhere, deep inside herself, she thought she was capable of that. In admitting it to herself, she felt as though she’d put the universe on notice. Unfortunately, the universe expected her to do some of the footwork.
“I don’t think I’m sub material,” she answered, after an awkward pause. Why had she said that? Maybe because seeming too eager wasn’t attractive? Then again, his response would also show her a bit more about him.
“No?” Vince’s body language shifted. Instead of lounging, relaxed, his features sharpened, shoulders straightened, and he edged toward her as if he’d just found a delicious challenge. “I’m pretty good at taming bratty girls.”
Some of the Doms she’d encountered online had big ego problems. She didn’t want an egomaniac swinging a flogger at her, safeword or not. Something about this guy was making her want to hit the brakes. Was it too much to ask for a nice, humble man who liked to spank naughty girls once in a while? At least to start with. Maybe her expectations were too high. Reading erotic novels did that to a person.
“I’m not a brat, and I’m not a meek, innocent thing,” she warned him.
“All the better.” His smile was sinful. “Let’s go to my place. I have some things we can experiment with.”
His place? They’d just met. “Um. I don’t think so.”
“Why not? I’m friends with Chris. You can trust me.”
As a rule, she never trusted people who said “you can trust me” whether they had a referral or not. “It’s too soon. I’m not comfortable with it.”
“I thought you wanted a Dom. There’s one sitting right here.” He gestured to himself. Who even did that, like they were the hottest guy ever? She did her best not to look around the room to see if there was a prank show taping this. “This might be your only chance. Don’t you want to know what your deepest desires are? Haven’t you been fantasizing about this for a long time?”
Well, yes. But with him? His pick-up lines stunk as bad as his cologne. Was she crazy to think this was too fast? Maybe it was normal speed in kink time. Chris and Janine wouldn’t steer her wrong, right?
He stood up, his costume rustling, then held out a hand. “Come on. I only live around the corner. Let’s see if we can make some of your fantasies come true.”
Really? Did he just say that? Make my fantasies come true? It sounded like a cheesy line from bad porn.
He sighed in frustration, then snapped, “My patience only goes so far, girl.”
Warning bells went off in her head. Doms were bossy, but this guy didn’t know her well enough to have that right. So, fuck him, even if he was the hottest pirate she’d ever met. “No. I’m not interested.”
He growled, but she’d dealt with men nastier than him in her job. It would take a lot to intimidate her. “I thought this is what you wanted. What’s your problem?”
“Obviously, it’s you,” someone said from behind her.
She swung her head in the direction of the voice. A tower of well-muscled man had appeared. With dark hair and tattooed arms, he gave an impression of quiet menace. He stared the pirate down.
Kate sat there, stunned. Where had he come from? There was no way she could have missed him earlier, so he must have just arrived. He hadn’t looked her way, but maybe she could fix that? Even if he wasn’t into anything kinky, she was willing to throw herself under that bus . . . er . . . man.
“Why don’t you mind your own business?” If Vince thought he was going to order this guy around, he seemed sadly mistaken.
The mystery man took a step toward Vince, his body relaxed but ready for trouble.
Uh-oh. Was this turning into a Dom-off? She was starting to feel as though she’d been transported into a medieval movie, and she was the damsel the two knights were dueling over. Maybe she’d slip away when they weren’t looking.
Finally, Vince shrugged. “Have her, then. She’s too mouthy for me anyway.”
As he slunk off, she let out a breath of relief.
Her champion snorted, then turned to look at her. His brown-eyed gaze locked with hers. It felt like someone had snapped a rubber band in her abdomen. This man was going to eat her alive and make her beg for it.
Then, the intense air of command seemed to drain away, and with it went her urge to rub up against him like a cat in heat.
Like any other normal guy, he pointed to the seat next to her. “May I?”
She slid to the other side of the couch but nodded.
“I hope that was okay.” He gave a small, apologetic smile. “I’m sure you could have handled that yourself, but Vince pisses me off. Pressuring people isn’t right. He gives my kind a bad name.”
His kind? Meaning male? Or was he a Dom too?
“No one should expect you to play the first time you meet them.” He smiled grimly. “Or even the second or third time. It’s your decision when the time is right or if you’re even interested.”
She nodded. “This whole thing is starting to seem like a pipe dream. Between the egomaniacs online and that pushy pirate, I’m starting to regret this.”
His brow furrowed. “Regret what?”
“All of it. Getting into kink. This party.”
“Why the party?”
He didn’t know? She studied his face. It read as confused but honest. Maybe he wasn’t a Dom. Or maybe Janine didn’t like him. She glanced around the room, then caught her friend’s gaze. Janine’s eyes widened as she stood frozen, watching them. What the hell did that mean?
Kate raised her brows in question. Her friend shrugged, then nodded her head in approval, her brown curly hair bouncing with it. Well, it wasn’t exactly a glowing recommendation, but it would do. She’d have to grill her about it later, after she strangled her for sending Vince the Pirate to plunder her booty.
The polite and gorgeous knight in shining armor waited for an answer. Unlike Vince, he didn’t reek of cologne. He smelled clean, natural, as though he’d just stepped out of the shower, not doused himself in order to hide something. The only problem was his Dom vibe had evaporated.
Should she tell him the truth about the party? It was almost embarrassing now. “Um. Janine and Chris threw this party to help me find a Dom.” She’d thought Janine had invited only other kinksters, but maybe she was wrong. There were a lot of people there. Surely they weren’t all from the club they used to go to.
He didn’t say anything for a minute, and she panicked. Shit, maybe he was vanilla.
“Do you know what a Dom is?”
Chuckling, he nodded. “Yes, I know what a Dom is. I just didn’t know this was a matchmaking event.”
“Well, it’s a Halloween party too.” She ducked her head, feeling silly. “It isn’t all about me.” Way to make a first impression.
An awkward silence filled the space between them. What now? She wasn’t in the mood to get hit on again. Maybe this whole idea was stupid. Who’d ever heard of a BDSM matching party, anyway? Janine had insisted on it after Kate had been propositioned by creeps one too many times, and here it had happened again. But finding a partner wasn’t like playing a TV dating game. It was more complicated than that, which was why she’d grown desperate enough to agree to this in the first place.
She sighed and thought through ways to duck out of there and go home. Curling up on the couch with her dog and a good book was starting to sound welcome. And she couldn’t wait to peel the corset off. She probably had indentations in her ribs.
He finally broke the tension. “Can I get you a drink?”
“Please? You look a bit pale.”
Space might help clear her head, and she was thirsty. “Sure.”
“Water? Soda? Juice?”
She noted he didn’t ask if she wanted alcohol. “Soda’s good. Thanks.”
“Okay.” He stood, making her crane her neck to see his face. God he was tall. It was hard to find decent men that were taller than her. In high school, the volleyball coach had seen her five-foot-nine-inch frame walking the hallways and had begged her to try out for the team. It turned out she was pretty good. The only reason she’d gone to a decent university was because of a volleyball scholarship. Being tall was good for athletics, but she’d outgrown the boys in her class by middle school. She never lost the impulse to stalk any guy that was taller than her. Now was no different. This maybe-Dom was starting to grow on her. It was possible she could train him to give her what she wanted. She’d heard of others doing that with their vanilla partners. For someone as hot as he was, it was worth a shot.
“I’ll be right back.”
She watched him walk away, her gaze sliding down to his ass. Damn, he had a nice ass. In her early twenties, a guy being hot and verbal would’ve been enough incentive to pick him up. Now, at twenty-seven, her standards were higher. Still, polite and possibly kinky could win him a date. Was she getting ahead of herself? He hadn’t even asked her yet.
Where had that dommy side of him disappeared to? Dr. Jekyll was okay, but Mr. Hyde was much more interesting.
Janine appeared at her side. “Scoot!” She motioned for Kate to move down the couch, then squeezed in between Kate and the arm. “What are you doing talking to him?”
Annoyance boiled up. “Why did you send me that pirate? He was an asshole!”
She cringed. “Sorry. I guess I didn’t know him as well as I thought. I’ll have to put the word out that he’s a bit pushy. I was about to come charging over, but your new hero beat me to it.”
Kate scowled at her.
“I wouldn’t have let you leave with him,” she said, rolling her eyes. “Anyway, the other guy getting you a drink? Stay away from him too.”
“What?” But he was tall! And hot! And he’d rushed to her defense. Her heart sank.
“No, no.” She waved a hand. “It’s not like that. He’s a good guy. Really. But he’s not your type.”
Annoyed, she snapped, “Well, what’s my type, then?”
“Not him. Trust me.”
What did that mean? Janine should have known not to say shit like that to her. It only made her more curious. And she liked a challenge. “Why not?”
She hesitated. “I just think he’s . . . too much for you.”
Just as she was about to protest, Chris came up behind Janine. With a proprietary hand on the back of her neck, he bent down and said, “You causing trouble over here, my girl?”
Her friend’s lashes fluttered. “Of course not, Sir.”
He chuckled darkly. “I know that look. What are you telling poor Kate?”
She watched, transfixed, as he ran a finger under Janine’s public collar, as if reminding her of her place with him, of his ownership. Janine shuddered.
Kate stayed quiet, hoping she wouldn’t scare them off. Watching them when they got like this seemed pervy, but their dynamic was so sexy and romantic that she could never look away.
After an audible breath, Janine looked up at her Dom. “I’m telling her to stay away from him.” She nodded toward the man getting her a drink.
Chris squinted into the dim lighting, and then recognition hit. He grinned, then gave Janine a squeeze. “Come on, love. Kate’s a big girl. She’ll figure things out.”
Janine’s mouth dropped open. “But—”
“Now.” He snapped his fingers, and her mouth clamped shut. Head down, she stood and let Chris pull her away.
Kate knew better than to interrupt Janine’s dynamic with Chris, even if she did want to grill her friend. From a few feet away, Janine stopped and turned to look at her. Good luck, she mouthed.
Good luck? She wished she was more commanding and could demand answers from Chris, but the man could out-Dom James Bond.
Her thoughts were interrupted by a shadow hovering over her, holding out a red Solo cup. “I hope Pepsi is okay. It’s all they had left.”
She took the drink, smiling slightly. “It’s fine. Thanks.” Chris and Janine didn’t seem concerned he’d drug her drink at least.
He sat back in his spot on the couch, but Janine had moved her away from the edge so now their thighs touched. She tried to inch away politely.
“So you’re here to meet a Dom?” he asked, ignoring her attempt at escape.
“Yeah. At least, I think so.” She stared down at the bubbles in her cup. “I don’t really know what I want anymore.”
Silence again. She glanced up at him. He wore a white T-shirt that fit snugly across his wide chest, and plain dark jeans. Beautiful ink on his arms. God, he was huge. It was a good thing he didn’t have the Dom vibe or she’d be terrified of him. With the slicked-back hair and heavy brow, he almost looked like a greaser from the fifties. All he needed was a thick chain around his neck. And maybe a leather jacket.
Giving her head a shake, she asked him, “What are you supposed to be anyway?”
He looked down at his clothes then back up to her. A smirk hinted at his lips. “This is my vanilla costume.”
She laughed. “Jeans and a T-shirt? What’s your not vanilla getup then? Leather? Mesh? Duct tape?”
An eyebrow arched. “And here I thought you weren’t ready to play yet.”
Blood rushed to her cheeks.
“What about your costume?”
Slightly embarrassed, she straightened the cat ears she’d thrown on last minute. “The corset’s not mine.” It was too tight and too pink. Janine had insisted though. A matchmaker and a fairy godmother. Wasn’t she lucky?
His gaze roved over her naked shoulders then down to her waist and back up again. His smile was sinful but authentic. She could almost feel his fingers running over her exposed skin. But it wasn’t creepy, like other men, it was sensual and complimentary. And it made her feel all shivery inside.
“I like it,” he rumbled.
She tugged on the top, feeling self-conscious. “I’m not really the dressing-up type.”
“No? Well, cross that off your fetish list.” His eyes crinkled at the corners as he smiled.
She almost rolled her eyes. Not another pushy one. She wasn’t ready to talk turn-ons with this guy yet either.
“Relax,” he said, chuckling. “I’m teasing you. I’m not interested in bringing you home to fulfill your deepest desires or whatever bullshit line Vince fed you.”
For one crazy moment, she was offended. Why didn’t he want to take her home and recite cheesy pickup lines to get into her pants? Wasn’t she pretty enough?
“You’re a beautiful woman, obviously,” he said, “but I doubt you want what I do.”
That struck a nerve. It was the same sentiment Janine had expressed. Proudly, she straightened her shoulders and looked him in the eyes. How did he know what she wanted, anyway? He didn’t know her; she barely knew herself. She hated when people made assumptions—a product of working with the people she had as clients.
“And what’s that?” she asked.
She felt the blood drain from her face. “Oh.” Janine had a friend who was a slave. She wasn’t allowed to talk, or sit, or even look at people without permission. No fucking way. That wasn’t for her.
He chuckled. “That’s what I thought.”
“It’s kind of hard-core for me. I mean, I don’t even know if I’m a sub or just a bottom or what.” She shrugged, a bit disappointed in the turn of events. “I could even be a Domme. I haven’t tried any of it yet.”
Knowing what he was into had moved him from harmless to slightly dangerous in her mind. His polite air was probably a smokescreen for what he was really like. Visions of him towering over a helpless girl, whip in hand, popped into her mind. She didn’t want to be the girl, but she’d buy tickets to watch.
“A kink virgin.” A sly smile appeared. “Well, if you’re serious about finding a play partner, you should take some precautions.”
“Don’t worry. I don’t plan to meet up with any cock-shot guys.”
He smiled. “I figured you were smarter than that. But what I mean is, you could probably use someone to look out for you. Someone who knows people in the lifestyle and can give you personal recommendations.”
“Well, that’s what Janine was doing. Or trying to anyway. I don’t know how that Vince guy slipped through.”
“It’s up to you. I have more contacts than she does. She and Chris have been out of the club scene since they got married two years ago.”
She snorted. “So you’re offering to what? Dom-shop with me?” She was half-joking and expected him to laugh and brush her off.
Instead he looked her in the eye and said, “Yes. I am.”
Was he serious? She eyed him again. Oh yes. He was the kind of person who never said anything he didn’t mean. Definitely the type to star in her fantasies. But Vince had put her on the defense. “Why? What’s in it for you?”
He shrugged. “Brownie points with Chris? The knowledge that I’m doing some good in the world? Boredom?” With a dark chuckle, he added, “I’m a sadist, so maybe protecting you will balance out my karma.”
There had to be an angle there somewhere. She continued to stare, trying to read the answer on his face. The way the light hit his cheekbones but shadowed his eyes, making them look sinister, was pretty distracting. She sighed, lost in his dangerous aura.
“You don’t have to answer now,” he assured her. “I’ll give you my number, and you can let me know after you think about it. Ask Chris about me too. You should always check people out before agreeing to anything.” He smiled. “Like secondhand car shopping.”
Chuckling, she pulled her phone out of her purse. “Are you saying you’re a sleazy car salesman?”
“Only sleazy enough to make me interesting.” His smile was enigmatic.
For some insane reason, seeds of trust started to root. A man who made fun of himself had some humility at least. She started to enter him in her phone as a contact, then stopped and laughed. “I just realized I don’t even know your name.” Sticking out her hand, she said, “I’m Kate.”
Smiling, he shook it, his big hand swallowing hers, making her feel small and dainty. Would he mind if she crawled into his lap and enjoyed the feeling for a while?
“Nice to meet you, Kate. I’m Banner.”
Her brows shot up. “Banner? That’s your first name?”
“What’s your last name?”
Banner Jennings. Why did that ring a bell? She gave him a quizzical look. “What do you do for work?”
A sardonic smile graced his face as he hesitated. After a moment, he answered, “I run a family business. You?”
Work. Now, there was a safe topic. She sat forward in her seat. Before answering, she glanced around them for eavesdroppers. Talking work in the kink community felt strange. But it seemed most attendees had left, and the few stragglers were busy with other things. “I work at the rehab center downtown. I’m a drug abuse counselor.”
“Really?” His gaze flickered over her face. “You look young for that.”
“I graduated early.” She raised her chin. “You look young to run a business.”
“I grew up early.”
They had a brief staring contest, and then she looked away, fighting back a smile. Hot and he had his shit together? Too bad he wanted a slave. What a waste. Still, he could feature in her fantasies instead of the faceless men who were usually there, so tonight wasn’t a total write-off. The guys in her fantasies almost always wore suits though. Maybe there was a fetish for that. Doms in suits.
She chuckled at herself.
“What?” he asked, narrowing his eyes at her.
God, he didn’t miss a thing. “Nothing. I was just thinking about something funny.”
“Are you gonna share with the rest of the class? It’s only fair.”
She shrugged. “Doms in suits. Sounds like a funny movie title. Like Doms in Space.”
He laughed for a moment, and then his gaze turned heated. “Doms in suits, huh? Does that turn you on?”
“No,” she said too quickly. “I mean . . . That’s not what I meant.”
His brows shot up, and his lips tightened in what looked like suppressed amusement. Then he leaned in. “I can help you figure out what your thing is, if you’re honest with me. I’ve been doing this a long time. I’m pretty good at reading people. And you don’t have to worry about me being creepy. You’re not my type.”
“But I can help you find your type. We can figure out what you want, without having to kiss a few frogs first or getting yourself into a dangerous situation.”
She stared at him, reading the earnest look in his eyes. If Chris said Banner had a good reputation, then maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea. It wasn’t as though he was hard to look at, or hang out with. And if it kept her from experiencing guys like Vince, and cock-shot creeps, it would be worth it. It might even be an adventure. A dark, exciting adventure. Her sex life had gone stale years ago, and her fantasies only took her so far. It was about time for something new.
“I’ll think about it,” she finally said. And she’d probably think about him too, later that night while she wore the batteries out in her vibe.
“Are you excited for your discharge?” Kate shut the door to her office behind her as she followed Sean into the room. As always, he took the couch, and she sat in the chair across from him. Though her large desk dominated the room, she felt less approachable sitting behind it, so she used it mostly for doing paperwork. The last thing she wanted was to feel removed from her clients.
“No,” he admitted with a sigh.
“No? Usually patients in your position are practically climbing the walls right now.”
Sean’s forehead crinkled, aging him. He couldn’t have been older than thirty, but the drugs had taken a toll on his body. Yellow teeth, thin hair, haunted eyes—he looked like a stereotypical addict.
Discharge was bittersweet. Hope was there, in the distance, trying to shine bright. But reality was a mean son of a bitch. Only a small fraction of her clients made it in the real world. Most of them came through those doors a second, third, fourth time, having just finished detox—though repeat clients were better than funerals. Kate cared about every client, guided them, and the one thing she wished for at every discharge was never to see them again. That, to her, equaled success.
“I’m scared.” Sean’s voice quavered.
She glanced at him and felt only compassion. He’d have been easy to give up on. The first month of treatment, he’d given her a hell of a time. Volatile, uncooperative, verbally abusive. Everyone’s recovery process was different, but she’d recognized the signs of his withdrawal, even though he displayed them in a very . . . aggressive way. She’d waited to see who he was, underneath the addiction.
Kate Lambert didn’t give up. Not ever. Sure, other staff whispered about hopeless cases, but she didn’t believe in such a thing. Becoming jaded by the work was all too common, but she refused to let herself go down that path. Slowly, she had won Sean’s trust. She’d showed him she wasn’t giving up on him and, in turn, he hadn’t given up on himself.
“Everybody has something worth fighting for,” she’d told him, during their previous sessions together. “A reason to fight for your life. You just have to find your something.”
Over those next few months, they’d talked several times a week about what that something could be. Many times it was a client’s children. Or a spouse. Sometimes a brother or even a pet. But Sean had nothing. He’d burnt all the bridges with his family a long time ago.
Together they’d worked on finding his place in the world, what he had of value. Helping Sean address his issues was the biggest challenge in her career so far, but in the end she hoped he’d be successful.
She watched his gaze drift to the floor. His hands shook in his lap.
After a deep breath, she said, “Change can be scary. But you’ve got this. We worked out a plan for getting help when you think you need it. You have your friend Jim on speed dial. You have my number. You’re ready. You can do this.”
He smiled slightly. “Do you like John Wayne?”
“Um. I’ve never really given him much thought.”
“I grew up watching his movies.” Sean lifted his gaze and looked at her. “He said once, ‘Courage is being scared to death . . . and saddling up anyway.’”
She nodded. “That’s good. I like that.”
“What do you suppose it means?” He cocked his head to the side. “John Wayne was known for being fearless. Why was he talking about being scared to death?”
“Well,”—she shifted on the couch as she gathered her thoughts—“I think he’s saying everyone experiences fear at one time or another. But it’s what you do with it that matters. He starred in Westerns, right?”
“So, even if you’re scared, you get in the saddle anyway and do what you have to do.” She sounded pretty good to her ears; hopefully Sean was getting something from this.
Slowly, his head moved up and down, but he chewed his fingernail, looking lost in thought. A moment later, he peered at her. “Are you afraid of anything?”
She felt her eyes widen. Leave it to him to challenge her until his very last day. “You’re not holding back today, are you?” She chuckled. How should she answer that while staying professional and avoiding anything too personal?
“You seem like you have your shit together. I can’t picture you afraid of anything either.” He laughed.
Why didn’t that feel like a compliment? Past boyfriends had called her a hard-ass, cynical workaholic. Being driven to get far in life and not turn out like her parents had caused her to push people away. Or maybe what she really feared was intimacy.
Banner came to mind. His thick, tattooed forearms, heavy brow, the stern line of his mouth. Now, there was something to be afraid of. The party had been three days ago, and she still hadn’t texted him. She didn’t understand why—he’d only offered to help. But texting him felt like plunging into the real thing. Fantasies were safe, removed. Like Sean, she understood reality came with risk.
Running her hands over her pencil skirt, she collected herself. “I have the same fears most people do. Fear of failure. Fear of being alone.”
“I bet you’ve never failed anything in your life.”
It was a fair bet for those who knew her now. But she hadn’t always been this way. If Sean had known her as a child, he’d have different things to say. At the very least, he wouldn’t compare her to John Wayne.
“Never failing only makes the stakes higher,” she said, smoothing out a wrinkle in her yellow blouse. “Anyway, fear is normal. You’ve hit rock bottom, and you don’t want to go back. You have every right to be scared. Just acknowledge it, and like John Wayne says, saddle up.”
His fake smile wasn’t encouraging. This discharge really had him rattled.
“The most important thing for you is not to give up on yourself. Remember we talked about the reasons to fight? Just keep replaying that in your head.”
He sat in silence, gazing out the window. The rock garden under the willow tree was supposed to be a therapeutic place of refuge. She always thought it looked more like a graveyard.
Normally, Sean was pretty chatty. They’d talked about the meaning of life, religion, books, everything. He was a deep thinker, and for that, she enjoyed him as a client. So this staring silently out the window was a little worrisome.
“You have all your contacts, right?”
“And your phone is back on?”
She tried to catch his gaze. “You still have a week left. How about you come back to see me twice more?” She smiled warmly. “Maybe I’ll watch a John Wayne movie and we can discuss it.”
He rumbled a laugh, making her feel a bit better about his mental state.
“I can’t picture you watching John Wayne.”
Scowling, she shifted and crossed her legs. “Why not?”
“You seem so . . . proper.”
This time, she laughed. If he only knew. “Maybe so, but we have lives outside of here. I’m not my job, just like you’re not your addiction.”
He smiled slyly. “There’s no ring on your finger. No pictures of kids on your desk. What kind of life do you have outside of here?”
Averting his gaze, she swallowed hard. That hit close to home. Bastard. She almost laughed. There was truth there. Reading dirty books every night with her vibrator as her only company wasn’t a life. She talked big about courage and facing your fears, but was she living it?
Usually she didn’t let anything hold her back from what she wanted, least of all fear. And up to this point she’d been pretty forward in figuring out the BDSM stuff. But something about Banner, the conviction of his intentions, made her nervous. On an intrinsic level, she knew that if she took the next step with him, there was no going back.
“Sorry,” Sean said. “That was uncalled for. I’m sure you at least have a boyfriend or something.”
Ignoring the fishing, she smiled slightly, then grabbed her schedule book off her desk. “Tuesday at eleven, okay?”
He nodded, then stood up and looked down at her. “I think you’re right, Kate. Being afraid will drive me back to rock bottom. And I don’t want to be there again. I’m gonna stay positive.”
“Good.” She watched him leave the room, pleased with his change in attitude and hoping it would last.
As for her, it was time to practice what she preached. She took her phone out of her desk drawer, texted Banner, then hit SEND before she could chicken out.
Answering work e-mail was the most boring part of Banner’s day. He’d spent all morning trying to avoid it, but eventually there was nothing left to read, sign, or sharpen. The first lines of several messages should have piqued his curiosity, but they only made him want to bang his head on something. He didn’t feel like being a responsible adult today, but the boss wasn’t allowed to have tantrums. Although his protégé, Belle, fielded a lot of the nuisance messages for him, there were some he had to answer himself.
Annoyed by the rub of his shirt cuffs against his desk, he unbuttoned his sleeves and rolled them back to his elbows, revealing the ravens tattooed on one forearm and the world tree on the other. Although he never let business acquaintances see his tattoos, knowing that they were there under his business attire gave him some comfort. He hadn’t always been Mr. Suit and Tie Guy, let alone Mr. Wholesome Family Business Guy, and even now the trappings of the respectable world chafed. This hadn’t been what he’d wanted out of life. Not by a long shot.
The most pressing message was from Arthur Blackwell who wanted to know if Banner was interested in making a deal on a bigger purchase of cane sugar. Now that they’d found a niche market with museum gift shops and hipster bars, Cobalt Harbor Soda had new distributors popping up daily. It was hard to believe that his father had lost almost everything before old-fashioned soda flavors had caught on. He’d lived just long enough to see the beginning of the good times.
His dynamic, hardworking father lying still and waxy on the hospital gurney crept into his mind. He’d just missed saying good-bye to him, even though he’d raced through town when he’d gotten his mother’s frantic call. Blowing the red lights that night hadn’t made a difference. There was no tragic, unfinished business between them, but the loss of Hans Jennings had left a hole in his life. He’d taught Banner how to be a businessman, then left him holding the bag. There were so many times in a day when he wished he could call his father and ask for advice. Now he had to figure things out on his own—his mother, sister, and much younger brother were counting on him to keep them all afloat. There was a constant pressure on him not to fuck up. His life wasn’t about himself or his own needs anymore.
The door to his office opened and shut again. He kept working, knowing Belle would tell him if there was something that needed his attention. Chances were she just needed a file.
“Mr. Jennings, can I get your autograph?” That fake falsetto wasn’t Belle.
He glanced up, knowing who it was even before he laid eyes on the muscle-bound jerk standing just inside the door. “Ambrose, you dickless bastard, when did you get home?”
His best friend smiled. “Just now. And, dickless? Really? That’s not what Anna said.”
“Quit fucking my exes.”
“If you’re done with them, they’re fair game. Besides, there are only so many submissives in Felix, New Jersey. I can’t get all moral about dating your cast-offs. They’re always looking to talk about you anyway. You should put me on the payroll as a therapist for the ones you throw away.”
Banner’s guts twisted. There’d been a string of unsuccessful relationships for him during the past couple of years, but did Ambrose expect him to stay with girls who weren’t a good match?
“I don’t throw people away. There are just specific things that I need, and if that’s not compatible with what a woman wants, then why would I lie to her and let us both become attached knowing things ultimately won’t work?” He closed his laptop and sighed.
Ambrose laughed. “You’re getting cynical in your old age. If you weren’t such a kinky bastard you’d have found someone by now. Finding a woman who wants to grovel at your feet for the rest of her life might be a tall order. You might have to satisfy yourself with a submissive and see if you can slowly push her limits.” He slouched into the chair across from Banner and ran a hand over his bald head. Between his build and his shaved head, Ambrose looked like a thug—even in a suit.
A grumble escaped him. “Lately there are a lot of women hanging around saying they’re submissives, when really all they want is some hot sex. I mean, I’m all for hot sex, but fake submission doesn’t get me off.”
“Yeah, yeah. They’re not all fake submissives though. Eventually, you’ll just stumble into the right girl and it will all click. Yadda yadda. Why don’t you try training someone to please you instead of relying on chance to put the perfect girl in your path? Do you think she’ll show up here wearing a collar and begging you to be her Master?”
“No.” The word sounded sullen, even to Banner.
“Come on. You look like a man who wants to take me to lunch.” Ambrose got to his feet and stretched. “The pretzels they gave me on the plane back from New Orleans have worn off, and I need food before I start biting people.”
Banner snorted. “Belle might be into that, but her sub might claw your eyes out.”
“Ohhh yeahhh . . . if Belle’s sub wanted to get feisty with me I wouldn’t complain.”
“She doesn’t like men.”
“Neither do I. It gives us something in common.”
Banner grimaced as he stood. He grabbed his cell, and it promptly went off in his hand. Figured. “Where am I taking you for lunch?” He unlocked his phone and glanced at it. The number didn’t look familiar.
“Hmm. Are you coming back to work afterward, or is lunch just a prelude to happy hour?”
He opened the message on his phone, surprised to see who it was.
This is Kate. I met you at Janine’s party the other night. Sorry to be a pain in the ass, but I need your help.
Immediately, he texted back. Yes, I remember. What’s wrong?
A guy just messaged me on KinkWorld and asked me if I was into figging. Am I into figging?
“Uh oh. I know that expression. New girl?”
Banner shook his head but couldn’t keep the grin off his face. “Just a friend. She’s new to kink, and she just asked me if she’s into figging. Some guy is hitting on her online.”
“His opening line is figging? What is the world coming to?” Ambrose shook his head and clucked in disapproval. “What’s wrong with asking someone out for a coffee, or a simple getting-to-know-you flogging?” He paused. “So is she into figging?”
“I doubt she even knows if she’s into flogging. She’s that new.”
“Wow. You could train her right from scratch. No bad habits. No preconceived notions of what a Dom/sub dynamic is.”
“Shut up. She needs a protector, not a predator.”
Predator. With her, he felt like just that. He thought about her long brown hair and expressive green eyes and felt the same conflict he had at the party. Although he’d said otherwise, the girl was exactly his type—beautiful bone structure, full lips, strong but rounded in all the best places, legs that would make a model weep with envy. She inspired in him a strong desire both to protect her and to shock her. He’d shocked himself when he’d offered to be her BDSM tour guide, but walking away from that party without trying to see her again had been impossible.
He’d already thought of training her himself, but it wouldn’t be fair to her. She didn’t want to be a slave. Trying to mold her into one would be a disaster for both of them. His friend’s eyes narrowed as though he could read his thoughts. “What big, sharp teeth you have, Mr. Wolf.” Ambrose chuckled and rose, then walked out.
Banner trailed behind, texting as he went.
The guy sounds like a dickhead. Just ignore him. I’m not explaining what figging is. If you really want to know, Google.
He hit SEND then banged his shin hard on the planter by the administrative assistant’s desk and swore under his breath.
Belle snickered. “Don’t walk and text. Are you coming back later, or are you gone for the day?”
Another text alert summoned Banner’s attention back to his phone. “I don’t know. Do you need me?”
“Nah, take the rest of the day off. You came in early.”
The new administrative assistant, Tanja, sputtered and started to cough. Belle had been with him so long she could get away with almost anything.
“You’re the nicest employee, ever.”
Both men walked to the elevator and Ambrose grimaced. “The new paint job in here makes me claustrophobic.”
Banner looked at the freshly painted walls and the new table thingy with the glass bowl full of wooden balls that stood outside the elevator.
“Belle said it was cozy and soothing.”
“It’s cappuccino with an ecru pinstripe. Classy.”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
So good. Really enjoyed it.
This book is for adult only. It is as good as 50 shades of gray. If you didn't like it, you would't like this book. But i love 50 shades of gray. This book is about a bdsm. But this book oes further. Most bdsm reltainships are between don and sub. This book is about the relatship between master and slave. I cant beleve i know that. I would read this book after 50 shades of gray. I couldn't find anything as good as 50 shades of gray. Then i fiund this book. OMG!!!!!! I would read this book if i was you.
Hot story. Not too twisted and indepth about kink. The story has substance and not just hooking up. It also tells about how even very strong people are vunerable at times just like anyone else. I liked that it was addressed the emotional stress of young people especially when they are bullied for being different whatever that difference is. Touched on mental illness and how the breakdown in a family effects not just one person. I will be looking forward to Ambrose' story next. Good job to this writing team
I fell instantly in love with this book. Loved the story, loved the characters and the sex was hot!! Can't wait til the next one arrives!!
Looks like I have a great new author to read....
Mist read,loved it.
Guest Reviewed by Jennifer and posted at Under The Covers Book Blog Sparrow Beckett is a writing team of two kinky authors who have come together to bring us the new Masters Unleashed series. Finding Master Right is book one of this endeavor. Kate is intrigued and turned on by the thought of being controlled by a dominant man. When her friend invites her to a D/s matchmaking party, she finds herself unsure and doubting what she wants. Her friends think Banner would be the perfect Dominant to help her discover what kind of Dom she wants, no strings attached. Banner is looking for a slave, not a submissive, so it should be easy for him to show her the ropes and then let her loose to submit to the perfect Dom. Things seem to never go as planned, as both Banner and Kate find it almost impossible to resist the pull between them. If they’re able to find a common ground remains to be seen. As you might be able to tell from my usual reads, I often gravitate towards the darker side of BDSM. In that sense, Finding Master Right is a bit out of my norm. I wasn’t sure from the blurb that I would be able to enjoy an “introduction to BDSM” themed book. It’s a pleasure to be proven wrong here, because I really did love this one. At first glance, Kate might seem to be that friend that wants to try something new and wild for reasons that are hard to comprehend. She really doesn’t know what or who she wants at the onset, but that’s certainly a realistic position for someone to find themselves in. She’s also a bonafide brat: snarky, funny and really very cute. Banner might want a slave, but he’s approachable and good-natured, up for the challenge that Kate proves to be. What made the book for me was the realistic dialog and the genuine chemistry between the characters. Kate challenges Banner mercilessly and he doesn’t back down, but he accommodates her needs and adjusts his own expectations. The negotiations they go through, the give and take, really is a great look at a successful and healthy start to a D/s relationship. The chemistry between them made the sex scenes smoldering hot. I couldn’t get enough of seeing these two banter back and forth. You could feel Kate’s need, her desire to be topped, bleed through her protective outer core. I wanted to slap Banner for thinking he knew what was best for Kate at one point, but he came around in the end. I know this was written by a writing team, but it was so seamless that I wasn’t able to tell, even with viewpoints switching here and there. I was absolutely hooked from the beginning and it was a truly fun read. In the end, it’s refreshing to see characters that aren’t plugged into the cookie-cutter images that we expect. “Fun” BDSM books that don’t lack substance are also hard to come by. I think Finding Master Right is a perfect intro for someone to the genre, but also very satisfying for the more experienced reader.
This book sounded very interesting so I just had to pick it up. Who doesn’t love a good Dom/sub story? Kate was a very interesting character. She wants to be a sub to someone, but she can’t seem to let go of her need to have control of everything. Kind of counterproductive if you ask me, control is the one thing that you need to relinquish to your Dom in order to have a healthy relationship with them. Then she sees this absolutely gorgeous man who just oozes Dom from his pores, she’s instantly attracted to this man, but what would he ever see in a plain woman like her? Banner is looking for the sub that can be just HIS. Though he’s undeniably attracted to Kate, he feels that she wouldn’t be able to accept everything that he needs from a sub. Then for some reason, he decides to help Kate with the basics of a Dom/sub relationship, along with trying to find her the perfect Dom. But when the intense attraction between these two goes off the charts, things get so hot, the pages are set on fire. Banner and Kate have a long road ahead of them. They both have things that they have to find within themselves before they could ever have the relationship they both dream of. This story keeps you hooked until the very last page. You’re constantly wanting to help Banner and Kate see things that they seem to be missing. I’m very interested to see what Sparrow has in store for us next in this series!
Kate’s fantasies have always featured sexy, dominant, crop-wielding men, but finding one in real life was easier said than done. She’s used to getting what she wants, but the creeps that keep flirting with her aren’t her kink. Enter Banner. His intensity scares her—he’s looking for a slave, and Kate doesn’t want to be one. But when he offers to help find the perfect Dom for her, she’s glad to have a matchmaker and protector. Banner knows he and Kate aren’t sexually compatible, so what better way to get the tasty almost-vanilla girl out of his head than finding her a good Dom? As it becomes clear that Kate has no clue what she wants when it comes to kink, he devises a series of experiments to help her figure things out—a perfect plan, if he could stop himself from training and bedding her. Obsessing about owning a girl who wants to be free isn’t healthy. But when Banner finds the right Dom to collar Kate, how will he hand over the leash? Review: Great debut from this new writing duo. I was initially drawn to the story from the blurb, thought it sound like an interesting twist on a BDSM story, one Dom trying to help a submissive find a Dom for her. I thought the writing was well-written, easy to follow story, and characters that were not typical should interest many. I liked that the story was about both Kate and Banner, but really it was the journey for Banner. He not only has to come to grips with who he is and what he ultimately wants and working through it, even when it changes through the story. Banner wants a slave but working with Kate and her immersion into BDSM changes his perspective, and that makes the story more interesting to me. Not saying Kate does not also change, she does. What you get are two individuals who once they figure out that they should be together, comprise and bend to be together and try to give the other what they need. Not saying there are not obstacles, of course there are, but it made the coming together all the fulfilling. Would definitely recommend! 3.5Stars *Received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review*
As posted on The Smutty Kitty reviewed by KittyKelly 5 out of 5 Licks O M F G! Go buy this right now! I would stop there if I thought I could get away with it, but I guess I can give you more. Obviously I loved this book. Once I started nothing else mattered, I ignored everything around me (my poor family-I’ll send Sparrow the therapy bill for my son lol) and I tried to ignore sleep, but my body wouldn’t allow that. I’ve read a lot of BDSM over the years, but this is the first book where the hero (or in this case Master) was looking for a slave. Much like Kate, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. As I continued to read it was obvious that Banner and Kate were hot for each other. This is a classic tale of two people fighting what is so clear to every one around them and that always makes for an interesting story. The sex is explosive and so freaking hot. I felt like the authors did a great job of mixing a lot of sex with a lot of dialogue. I was engrossed in the characters almost immediately. It was fun with just the right amount of drama (and a few tears) to keep me desperate to know what was going to happen next. I am already so engrossed in this series and we are only on book 1. I can’t wait to see what they have up their sleeves for us next. I know it’s going to be awesome. I’m looking forward to seeing a lot more from Sparrow Beckett in the future.