Joanne adjusted the position of her knees, thankful she’d worn slacks instead of a dress. The unfinished floor wasn’t exactly comfortable, but the fabric helped.
What to tell him? Honesty would be best, since she needed the job. The salary quoted by the secretary was close to double her last paycheck.
“Five years ago, I was living in Michigan and dating a man who was, well, I guess the best word would be interested, in the lifestyle. We joined a local group and participated for about six months.”
“Only six months? Why did you stop?”
Blunt or delicate? Did it really matter?
“He liked being with other people, but he didn’t like to see me with other men. He couldn’t handle the fact that I enjoyed it. It became a competitive thing with him, seeing how many women he could... be with while I watched. After the second or maybe it was the third month, he refused to let me participate.” The frustration she’d dealt with during that relationship surged to the fore and she slapped it back into the dark spot in her heart where all her troubles lived. “At the time, I thought he’d change his mind once he had his fill.” She paused for a comment that didn’t come.
“We were living together and working a lot of hours. I didn’t realize he was going without me. When I found out, we fought. He insisted I go with him again, and I tried. Once or twice.”
She stretched her spine and watched his expression stay calm and unaffected by the information she shared. And then she realized what made him different. There were no explosions, no demanding questions or heated discussions. He was strong and dominant, but he didn’t take his emotions out on other people. The best word she could find to describe him was self-contained.
“What happened when you went back?” he asked, his deep voice conveying curiosity and concern but no hint of contempt.
She shrugged. “More of the same. It wasn’t fun anymore, so I walked away.”
That piercing gaze of his observed her for a few minutes, taking in the information and processing it against what he saw now, and she hoped the person he saw now was a better person than she’d been five years ago.
“I can say with some authority that removing yourself from that situation was a wise choice.”
Thank you was the first thing she wanted to say, but didn’t. “Even though it was his idea to begin with?”
Derek’s brows rose at her question, making him look sympathetic and attractive as hell. This wasn’t going to be easy, letting him touch her without getting involved. Falling in love with him might be the easiest thing she’d ever do in her life. Scary, since they just met.
“From what you’ve told me, if he stayed in the lifestyle, he probably evolved into one of two types. A closet submissive that plays at being a Dom, or a dangerous Dom, one who believes there’s no need for a safe word.”
“I don’t think I’d like either choice.” When he nodded, she couldn’t stop her question. “What kind of Dom are you?”
When he laid his forearms on his knees and leaned in close, Joanne wished she’d kept her mouth shut.
“I’d like to say I’m the only type of Dom you’ll meet around here, but until I assess the membership, I can’t comment.”
In the early shock of his closeness, she’d forgotten to lower her eyes, and now, she couldn’t look away. Dark eyes, almost black, bored into hers and mesmerized, a sensual stroke without a touch of skin on skin. He radiated power and compassion, a heady mix of sexuality and sorrow.
In a blink, it was gone from his face, and she didn’t know what to think.
“Let’s get started,” Derek said, straightening in the chair. “While your frame is adequate, I’d like to see better. Knees apart, feet together, hands on your thighs, palms up.”
Joanne blinked at his change in demeanor and let her eyes drop while she adjusted her body. When finished, he murmured a ‘good girl’ and stood.
Her eyes stayed at his feet. Nice shoes. Long and wide. Thick soles. Interesting.
Rolling her lips in over her teeth, she tried to repress the inner monologue and listen to his comments.
A hand appeared in front of her face.
“Take my hand and stand, sub.”
Sliding her hand into his warm palm reminded her of the lack of male companionship in her life. This job would most likely change how she felt about not having a boyfriend. She’d meet a lot of people here, but she doubted they’d all be like Derek.
“Show me the standing sub position.”
With no clue, she raised her gaze. “I never knew that one.”
He stepped closer and his hands rested on her shoulders, the heat penetrating a little too much for her comfort zone today, but a few breaths helped her relax. The distinctly calm tone of his voice helped.
“Move your feet a little farther apart, relax your shoulders but don’t slump. Only your head is lowered. Submissive and beaten down are two different looks. A good submissive is strong internally and happy in the service of her Dom.”
“Now, put your arms behind your back. Have you had any experience with handcuffs?”
“Yes, Master.” Dammit. She’d forgotten about this aspect of submission. The one time she’d been cuffed, she’d had bruises for a week. Squeezing her eyes shut, she concentrated on her breathing.
Rough fingers touched her chin about the same time she heard his soft shushing sound. He lifted her chin with a gentle hand she wouldn’t expect from such a large man.
“You’ve had a bad experience, haven’t you, Joanne?”
It was the first time she’d heard her name on his lips and the feeling it evoked shocked her.
“They hurt and I had bruises afterward.”
“Unless you’re in police custody, they’re not supposed to be painful.”
He held them in front of her and she sucked in a breath. The metal cuffs he held were wrapped in fabric, nothing like the ones she’d seen before.
“Touch them, get used to the feel of them. In our club, handcuffs—hell, all the cuffs we use—are more of a reminder of submission than an attempt at pain management.”
Derek laid them in her hands and let her play with them for a few minutes. The fabric around them was soft and encased all of the metal except the closures.
“Before we move any further into the scene, let’s talk about all the different types of restraints we plan to use here at Private Delights.”
He led her to a table piled with boxes, some of them already opened and waiting for inventory. “Until the room is completed and shelves are ready, I don’t want to open all of these, but one from each box should be enough to get you used to the equipment.”
Who knew sex required equipment beyond the human participants? Nevertheless, she stood by his side while Derek opened a box and unwrapped a long leather-sheathed rod with a flat surface extending from the end.
“This is a slapper,” he told her, “usually used when the submissive is bound in some way or positioned on a Saint Andrews cross.”
Suddenly, her world got a whole lot smaller.