“It’s SHOWtime!” Across the cavernous dungeon, Aro rubs his hands together with gleeful anticipation before reaching for the handle of the heavy wood door. Fully present in his dual roles of dungeon partner and trusted friend, Edward snaps to attention on the opposite side of the body suspended between us.
The body of the courageous man who offered himself up as sacrificial lamb because it was the only way to finish this and move forward. Stripped of comfort and clothing, but for my leather collar and the barely-there, flesh-toned briefs brought as a surprise for his Master. Stretched face-down on the floor of this dungeon room, limbs yielding to cuffs and ropes and Master’s will. Lifted and laid out like a sumptuous, floating, hog-tied buffet: arms behind his back, locked fingertips-to-elbows inside a leather sleeve; ankles roped together and clipped into the pulley; chest and upper arms supported by a harness meeting the same point over his center of gravity.
The body of the man I love.
Any ordinary night in the dungeon, I’d fully occupy the fantasy invoked by a trussed-up offering as succulent as Dane. I’d force open his knees, push my hips between his thighs, anchor his rocking body with two firm hands, and claim what is mine. Tonight, though, I can’t fathom an erection—not with Dane flung over the cross under these circumstances.
I can’t help but tense as the audience files in, a dark, somber line embodying the upper echelon of the city’s BDSM community. Dane, of course, hears the procession as well but remains perfectly still. The commercial-grade blindfold is heavier than the one I prefer Dane in, but I hadn’t anticipated . . . any of this, and I failed to pack his blue scarf. Still, my fingers thrum a steady rhythm through the unencumbered swath of hair at the back of Dane’s neck, riding over the metal clasp of his collar with each soothing stroke.
Mine, mine, mine.
I will protect you; I will respect you; I will cherish you.
I will protect you; I will respect you; I will cherish you.
Four men I don’t recognize lead the parade, their feet carrying them straight for the chairs while their attention remains fixed on our well-lit tableau. Each dom meets my gaze before taking a seat—We are here for you.
Riley strides in next, kid-in-a-candy-store face completely negating the cool factor of the “dom duds” he so meticulously selected for the occasion. His wide-eyed wonder gives way to horror the moment his eyes land on Dane, and Riley spins to alert Sean. From the accusatory glare Sean is shooting me right now, I gather he’s already figured out our last-minute change in plans.
Yes, it would have been wise to alert them beforehand. With my attention so fully focused on preparing Dane for the scene, I didn’t spare a thought for how this all might look to our friends. Shit. Edward conducts an entire non-verbal conversation with Riley, though the man at Dane’s other flank barely moves a muscle. Assuaged by Edward’s reassurance, Riley takes his seat, yanking Sean down with him and whispering into his ear.
Grateful for Dane’s restricted vision, I rest my hand between his shoulder blades and take another reading—still and calm. He seems to have entered some hybrid dimension tonight, a cross between sub space and the stage—two places he functions quite effectively outside the everyday constraints of his mind.
I’m bracing for Eleazar’s entrance when I catch my first glimpse of the man we’re here to take down. I’ve never pressed Dane for a physical description of Wayne, yet this guy’s cocky strut and belabored punk-wannabe vibe stick out like a turd in a box of strawberries. As expected, there’s a paunch overhanging his metal-studded belt, one spike for every hundred sit-ups he never did. The stubby arms pump as vigorously as they’re able to compensate for the lumbering gait of a man who so clearly lacks regard for exercise or self-discipline.
His face is one giant Mr. Potato Head factory reject: sunken, beady eyes set too far inside a balding head, a pointy beak that seems best suited for digging up worms, fat, ruddy cheeks bloated with arrogance, and a pair of inside-out lips I wouldn’t wish around my worst enemy’s cock.
Edward and I exchange here-we-go nods over the expanse of Dane’s shoulders. Sensing either the fucker’s stench or my unavoidable full-body clench, Dane jerks his head up, straining his neck toward the gathering crowd.
“Easy, boy,” I murmur, stroking the bulging tendons above his collar with the soft pad of my thumb. “Take a deep breath, and drop your head.” His breath is a stutter in reverse, worrisome enough to draw me one step closer, my hip bolstering Dane’s side while my fingertips ward off his tension. Better.
“Ahem . . . Ahem . . . AHEMMM!”
The exaggerated throat-clearing beside me draws my attention to Edward’s laser-sharp focus—locked on the shithead, who has now come to a dead halt in front of Dane. The man squints, tilting his head like a robin scouring the lawn for breakfast.
That’s right, you slimy fuck. Gorge yourself on the sight of what you will never again taste, and know he is free of the pain of your abuse and rejection.
The jackass’s jaw snaps closed, lips curling open as he prepares to confirm his assumption.
Oh HELL no! The mere idea of Dane’s name issuing from within Wayne’s mouth is repulsive to me, but barring tackling the fucker to the ground, there isn’t a whole hell of a lot I can do to stop it at the moment. Best I can do is brace Dane for impact, and I’m just reaching a firm hand around his shoulder when a stern, “Down in front!” solves my problem.
Score one for Eleazar! I give the man a grateful nod as he settles into his chair in the back. Meanwhile, Wayne is swept along the middle row by the throng filing in behind him, having no choice but to stare and silently chew on what must appear to be one whopper of a coincidence. As promised, Edward keeps the creep in his sights so I don’t have to. I have a far more worthy target for my attention.
With the audience set back roughly twenty feet, only Edward is privy to what I’m sharing with Dane. “You’re doing beautifully, sweetheart,” I tell him. “The fish is on the line.”
“Thank you, Master,” he whispers back.
“Are you comfortable, Dane?” As I ask, my hands search his body for signs of tension or compromised circulation.
His answer reinforces my conclusion. “Yes, Master, I’m fine.”
Dane’s mouth has that determined line, but that’s the extent of his stress.
Let’s get this fucker wrapped. Aro and I exchange nods, and he starts toward our makeshift stage.
“Aro’s about to start. Remember, Dane, any distress whatsoever, you let me know. You and I are not officially in scene, so don’t worry about protocol. Just talk to me, okay?”
“Yes, Master. Got it.”
I rest my palm on the back of Dane’s neck and fill my lungs with a deep breath. Edward shoots me a concerned glance. Shit. I can’t afford to let my vulnerability leak out around the edges tonight. Drawing up to my fullest height and squaring off my shoulders, I visualize gathering in all the raw emotions buzzing around inside me and locking them away in a safe place to be opened later, once this job is through.
“Welcome, gentlemen,” Aro starts, his hands clasped together over his chest, a choirboy gesture about as believable as a Doberman impersonating a shitzu. “I know you’re all as excited as I am for this rare appearance by a man who needs no introduction.”
He swivels to face me, points with an outstretched arm, and arches his eyebrows with a theatrical flair. In the dim lights, Aro’s bared-tooth smile emits an eerie glow. “Without further ado, I turn over the dungeon to my dear friend, Sir Marcus. I strongly suggest you all pay close attention.”
Aro backs away from the stage and takes a watchful stance at the edge of the audience. My fingers dip once more inside Dane's collar, not that I need any reminding. Anything for you, Dane.
“First, allow me to thank you, Aro, for hosting us this evening. Let me also welcome all of you here tonight for this demonstration of the latest and greatest in subduing, teasing, and torturing your submissive.”
My fingers in Dane’s hair soften the necessary words.
“Spotting me this evening will be Sir Edward.” My friend gives the audience a nod but remains fully focused on his target, who gasps when I add, “And this exquisite, suspended creature wearing my collar is Dane.”
Suck on that!
“As you can see, this suspension position requires a highly flexible submissive.” There’s a low rumble of affirmation in the audience. “I’m not one to boast or anything, but I happen to be blessed with a professional dancer under my command, so this position really isn’t even a challenge, is it, boy?”
“No, Master,” Dane responds, his voice clear and confident.
I force a smile. “We’ll have to see what we can do about that, now, won’t we?”
“Yes, please, Master,” Dane answers. I do believe the boy is hamming it up! So much for faking my smile.
Bringing the crowd into my confidence with an exaggerated stage whisper, I tease, “You all see what I’m dealing with here, right?”
Nervous energy skips across a wave of titters rolling through the room.
Grasping Dane’s joined ankles, I twist the apparatus holding him one-quarter turn. “My friends, I wouldn’t be telling any of you anything new if I suggested stepping in between these thighs and pounding it home.” Edward guffaws on the other side of Dane, giving me a sheepish shrug when I glare at his outburst. “But how many of you have threaded your boy’s cock back here . . .” I point for effect, “between the legs, binding the helpless appendage so the tip is exposed to the snap of your favorite crop?”
I can’t help but glance out at the peanut gallery. The men are definitely intrigued, but they also know they’re not going to be treated to the sight of my submissive’s very beautiful cock. Wayne, on the other hand, is looking downright hot and bothered.
“I wonder if I might have a volunteer from the audience to demonstrate?”
Wayne squirms in his seat like a kindergartner with a full bladder. Clearly torn between his desire to get his hands on Dane and trying to hold onto his dignity, he glances right and left to see what everyone else is doing. A few hands go up, and Aro steps right up to the plate.
“Hmm, let’s see now. Sir Adam, you just had your turn last week at the watersports demo. How about someone new?” Aro scours the audience thoughtfully, a diabolical actor playing his role. “You there, it’s Ward, correct?”
“Wayne, sir. I mean, Sir Wayne, sir.”
A shudder ripples through Dane’s body, and I run my hand up and down his leg.
Aro says, “Come forward, Wayne sir, Sir Wayne sir.” The crowd has a good chuckle at Wayne’s expense while he slithers between the rows of chairs and makes his way toward us.
My heart skips a beat as the presumptuous fuck makes a bee line for Dane’s head. With no time for anything but reflex, I force my body between them, crouching so my face is level with Dane’s, and kiss the boy long and slow.
“Over here,” Edward directs the bastard, his voice dripping with loathing. I can hardly blame Edward; it’s my own doing. In the training phase, I passed along a violent contempt for dishonor; unfortunately, this situation calls for a careful poker face—at least until Wayne is locked in. Attuned to my most subtle signals, Edward receives my message loud and clear.
“I have a little problem,” I say to Wayne. “My submissive appears to be overdressed for this occasion.”
Wayne smirks, anticipation glowing in his eyes like a campfire with a fresh log thrown on.
“Normally,” I continue, “I would grab my knife and tear right through this unfortunate undergarment.” Dane moans softly as I run my hand along his tiny briefs, cupping his ass with my hand. “Here’s the thing, Wayne sir sir Wayne sir,” I add with a grin toward the appreciative crowd, “my sweet submissive picked out these briefs especially for me tonight, and I can’t possibly disappoint him by ruining them. Isn’t that right, Dane?”
“As you wish, Master.”
I give Dane’s rump a light slap. “Isn’t he perfect, Wayne? What an answer, right? I mean, if you had any idea how my boy loves to surprise me . . . and here he’s gone and chosen a special outfit just to please me, yet does he bat an eyelash when I threaten to cut them? Oh wait, I guess we wouldn’t know. Did you bat an eyelash behind that blindfold, boy?”
Dane’s voice carries the hint of amusement I was going for with my overblown monologue.
“Ah, Sir Wayne sirsirsir. You see what I mean?”
Edward bites the inside of his cheek but keeps a straight face while Wayne responds.
“Yes, Sir Marcus. He is certainly a fine submissive.”
“Yes, I would agree. He’s the finest I’ve ever had.” I shoot a look over at Edward. “No hard feelings, I hope?”
“Never.” Edward shakes his head and grins. “Absolutely none.”
Wayne looks back and forth between us like a guy standing too close at a ping pong game.
“Clearly, I need to release my boy from the apparatus so I can free up the body parts in question. Sir Edward, if you would be so kind as to start the pulley down?”
Wayne turns toward Dane’s descending body with increasing zeal. Time to turn the tide. As my fingers work open the knots binding Dane to the carabiners, I turn my head toward our prey. “Are you ready to sample the goods for yourself?”
There’s a sudden movement in the front row, and my attention shifts to Riley, who has just thrust an arm across Sean’s front, locking him into his seat. I owe you one, Riley.
Meanwhile, the smarmy fuck next to me licks his lips and answers. “Love to.”
If only I had a heavy bag to pummel right now! You’re close, Marcus. So very close . . .
“Excellent,” I answer, working the ropes backwards twice as quickly as I locked Dane in earlier. “Let’s start you with the leather sleeve. Take your shirt off, please.”
For one split second, I almost feel sorry for the guy. He really has no idea what he’s in for, but he’s just now discovering it won’t involve stripping Dane of his briefs.
Less patient than I, Edward repeats the instruction—clinically, nonchalantly, no big deal. “Your shirt needs to come off.”
My fingers flutter over the buckles and snaps along Dane’s lower arms while Wayne stands, mute and immobile. Maybe I should compromise on baring the chest. It’s not entirely necessary for the restraint—just a nice little humiliating touch I threw in to make it more fun.
“Excuse me, Master?”
I can count on one finger the number of times Dane has interrupted me. I scramble around to his head to diagnose the problem. “What is it, boy?”
“If I might offer a word to Sir Wayne?”
He can’t wait five minutes for us to bind the fucker?
“If Master would grant permission, yes.”
“Very well, Dane. You may speak.”
“Thank you, Master,” he offers. “Sir Wayne?”
Shithead approaches Dane, but Edward’s hand snaps out and yanks back the guy’s upper arm before he can make contact. “No touching the collared submissive.”
Remind me to buy Badder Cop a cupcake when this is all done.
Wayne throws his hands up in surrender. “I apologize, Sir Marcus.”
I nod but I don’t absolve him. “Go ahead, Dane.” My heart leaps into my throat, but Dane doesn’t keep us waiting this time.
“Sir Wayne, with all due respect . . .” —I can just picture Dane’s eyes dancing beneath that blindfold—“the sleeve isn’t bad or anything. I’ve had way worse done to me.”
Calling the fucker’s bluff while not so subtly accusing him of abuse? Way to kill two fat pigeons with one well-tossed stone, boy! Wayne stands there blinking at Dane, who, of course, cannot see him back. Wayne has to understand he’s been made, but he has no way of knowing I’m in on it too, let alone Aro and Edward and everyone else in attendance. He has a choice to make, and Edward is not about to give him time to think about it.
“Should we pick a new volunteer?” Disinterested, dispassionate, disconnected.
“No!” Wayne answers too eagerly, and Edward fights to contain his glee.
Edward gives him a bored, “Your shirt,” holding out his hand like a dressing room attendant waiting for the rejects. Meanwhile, I’ve worked the last of the snaps open, and I carefully untangle Dane’s arms from the device. Crouching so my lips are at Dane’s ear, I assure him that I’ll tend to his kinks just as soon as I can get him back to the changing room.
“Sir Marcus, the sleeve?”
Edward has Wayne’s shirt in his left hand, and the right is raised like a wide receiver calling for the football. I toss him the leather and give Wayne’s half-naked physique the once over—and that’s more than enough. Helping Dane to his feet, I hook one hand around his elbow and the other around his waist. Even the most competent athlete is compromised while blindfolded, and I’m not ready for Dane to lay eyes on Wayne yet.
Before dragging Dane out of the spotlight, I turn to the crowd and leave them with, “We will return after our new demo sub is properly stripped and restrained. How about a round of applause for our volunteer, Sir Wayne, sirsirsir?”
The guy is looking more and more shell-shocked by the minute, and by now, he’s probably figured there’s no way out of this beyond pushing through and hoping his captors are more benevolent than he ever was.
Good luck with that, fucker.
Shall we leave Wayne the Pain in the very capable domineering hands of Sir Edward while Marcus and Dane have a little chat in the sub room?