“How did the interview go?” Beth asked when Joanne came in the front door. “Did they say when they’d make a decision?”
Joanne dumped her purse on the wing chair near the door and flopped onto the sofa next to her roommate. “He offered me the job, but I’m not sure I want it.”
Joanne looked around at all the things she’d acquired in the last few years. Most of the furniture was new, bought during what she now called the money-flood year and a half she’d worked for the dot-com. When the flood trickled into a mud pile, two of her co-workers moved in with her to help with the rent. They were lucky.
They hadn’t bought a house like she had. Even with a three way split, they were barely making the house note and utilities, even though all three were working long hours.
“Come on, share. I have an appointment Friday. Should I skip it?”
“The ad wasn’t exactly clear about the type of business.”
“It’s a club. Beer, wine, dancing. Sweaty people getting drunk and spending money. Better, rich people spending money.”
“Beth, it’s a BDSM club, very quiet, exclusive and pricey. A members-only kind of place.”
“Okay, it’s a kinky bar. They still pay good money for booze, don’t they?”
“I suppose, but he asked if I would consider being a paid submissive. I wasn’t worried about the bar or the wait staff positions. Those are pretty much the same anywhere. But what he suggested is different.”
“I may have a bachelor’s in English Literature, but I’ve lived a sheltered life. What the hell is a paid submissive?”
“Interesting. I asked Mr. Harrison the same question.”
“Dammit, Joanne,” Beth said, “stop beating around the bush and tell me the whole story. You’re driving me nuts.”
“In the club, there are dominants and submissives. The submissives follow orders and please their master. They can be punished for infractions or rewarded for good behavior.”
“You’ve got to be kidding. He’s opening a whorehouse?”
Joanne got to her feet, too wound up to sit still. And talking about the whole Dominant/submissive lifestyle brought out too many old memories. Pacing the length of the living room, she tried to find a good way to explain it to her friend.
“It’s not always about sex. And it’s not always a male dominant and a female slave.” She held up a hand to Beth when she gasped. “The terms are interchangeable in the scene, but no one is really a slave. Actually, the submissive can stop the action at any time and the dominant has to stop. At least, that’s the way I learned about it.”
She turned around to see Beth staring at her. Heat suffused her face from the horrified look on her friend’s face, and now they were both embarrassed.
“I never knew you had such an interesting life before we met,” Beth said. “I feel boring as hell right now.”
A giggle erupted, and then another. Beth joined in and the laughter continued until the front door opened and their other roommate stood staring at them.
At least Terri had a regular job, one she loved and paid well. “What did I miss?”
“Joanne got a new job. She’s going to be a paid submissive.”
Derek Lyons pushed the swinging door open with his foot and maneuvered the large pizza box through the opening. The six-pack of beer in the other hand clanked as the bottles tipped and his buddy turned at the sound. Mark grabbed the box and set it on the one open table in the room, one of those white plastic things that easily folded. They’d cleared out the warehouse store when the building had been declared habitable and they could begin the remodel. Easier and cheaper to use temporary furniture until the work was done.
“Thank God for pizza,” Mark said as they broke into the box.
“Thank God the construction is almost done,” Derek added and Mark nodded while he chewed.
Derek tore open a package of fake cheese and doctored his slice. “Foreman assures me the exterior will be finished by the end of the week. How are we doing on the inside?”
Mark swallowed a sip of beer and nodded again. “Carpet will be delivered and installed at the end of next week. Furniture will come in the following Friday, now that we have a color scheme.”
Derek laughed. “You finally picked something?”
“Yeah, I had help.” He grinned. “One of the women I interviewed today picked one for me.”
Derek raised a brow but didn’t stop chewing.
“Yeah, I know. But I liked all three, and while I can tell a Chagall from a Renoir, I couldn’t see much difference in the carpet swatches. It’s a rug. As long as it’s soft on the knees and looks luxurious, I’m okay with it.”
“Isn’t that why we paid a designer?”
“Yes. She asked me to make the final decision, so I figured they would all work.” He downed another sip of beer and chuckled. “She was pissed when I asked a stranger to choose, but the girl did fine and Miss Tankson still got paid.”
“How’s the hiring going?” Derek asked.
“It’s getting there. I have five bartenders lined up and ten or eleven waitresses so far. Mildred is doing the paperwork for background checks. And I think I found a paid submissive. She came in as a waitress application, but I think she’d be great on the floor.”
“Why? Does she have a BDSM background?”
“I don’t think so, but maybe. She didn’t open up, but said she’d think about it.”
“What makes you think she’ll call back?” Derek asked.
“She looked hungry,” Mark said. “She’s been working as a waitress, but has a degree in marketing and made a heavy salary at a now defunct dot-com. She’ll call.”
“This is your instinct at work?”
Mark shook his head. “Nope. Just good business. She needs a job and I offered her one that pays better than what she has now. She’ll call.”
They finished dinner and Mark tossed the box and bottles in the large rubber trash bin in the corner. “Let’s walk the place and call it a night. I need a hot shower and a soft bed.”
“And you call me the old man,” Derek huffed. They’d just finished the second floor walk-through when Mark’s cell rang.
He grinned when he answered. “Yes. Thank you for calling me back, Miss Reynolds. Good. Come in Monday morning at ten and we’ll discuss the terms.” Mark smiled at his buddy. “Great. See you then.”
“Don’t tell me.”
Mark laughed. “Told you I had the gift. She needs a job.”
“That’s one. How many submissives did you want to hire?”
“Probably four or five. We’ll have to see.” They crossed the corridor and went down the steps to the main floor, noting finished work and items on the checklist that hadn’t been done. Mark ran a tight ship and Derek was the best supervising contractor he knew, besides being a security systems analyst.
“I want you to train her.”
Derek stopped in his tracks. “Why me? You can do it.”
He nodded. “I could, but I’ll be the boss once the place opens. And you have better technique.”
“Bullshit. You just want me involved again.” Derek hadn’t had a submissive since his wife died three years ago. He dabbled, but he didn’t keep anyone. “I can’t train anymore.”
“Don’t tell me you can’t remember the drill. I know you. You’re the best trainer in the state.”
“Just think about it. You can meet her Monday morning and decide.”
“I’ll meet her, but I won’t commit to training her.”
“I’ll agree to that.”
Derek paused halfway across the main floor. “Why don’t you wait and train all of them at the same time?”
“I already planned to have you do that.” At his best friend’s glare, he laughed. “I’m running the business end of this club. It’s the least you can do for me. Think of it as keeping an eye on your investment.”
“Once you get this girl trained, she can help you train the rest.” Mark slapped him on the back. “She’s pretty. Tall and slim, with short brown hair and dark eyes.”
Derek’s brow lowered. “Don’t push me.” He walked ahead to the next corner but didn’t turn into the open area.
“She’s nice, and she needs a job. Can’t you help her out, and help me, too?”
“Dammit. I don’t need this harassment.”
Mark grinned as Derek walked away from him.
“She was the last woman in the door this afternoon. Maybe you saw her? Gray skirt, heels, and a nice rack, not too big, but just right for her build?”
Son of a bitch. “Did she have dirt on her skirt?”
“I think so.” Mark waited for his buddy to make the connection.
“No. Hell no.”