Derek walked into Mark’s office with a plan, one quickly postponed when he found Steve already seated.
“What’s going on this early?” he asked.
“Hey, buddy. Long time no see,” Steve said.
Derek sat in the other chair and waited for Mark to bring him up to speed, wishing he’d thought to bring a mug of coffee. Sure, he’d had most of a pot at home this morning, but he needed something to do with his hands.
“Steve found some information about a member I’ve already approved. We might have a problem.”
“What kind of problem?” Derek asked.
“History of violence.”
Mark raised a hand. “Possible history of violence. No charges, but more than one incident.”
“Won’t happen here.” Derek got up and went to the fridge for a bottle of water. He needed something in his hand, anything.
“True. We’ll keep a close watch, and I’ll be sure to have a heart-to-heart with him before the club opens.”
“Anything else?” Derek asked.
“Matter of fact, yes. Steve’s fucking Simon Lindsay’s baby sister.”
Derek laughed. He’d known the Lindsay family for years and had worked for the old man long before he joined the army and met Steve. “How in the hell did you manage that?”
“Here’s the kicker,” Mark said. “She doesn’t know about the club, or our friend, here’s proclivities.”
“Vanilla? Really?” Derek asked.
At least Steve had the ability to laugh at himself for a minute. “Yes, well. I plan to convert her to my wicked ways. Give me a little time and she’ll be squirming under the whip.”
“I look forward to watching,” Derek said, wondering how long he’d have to wait for a private conversation with Mark.
“Well,” Steve said, standing and cracking his back, “I have a job to do, so I’ll be back here later this afternoon.”
Finally. Derek slapped him on the back. “Office still quiet?”
“Nothing Ella and I can’t handle for a few more days.”
When the door shut behind Steve, Derek turned to Mark. “Got a minute?”
“Sure,” he said. “Follow me out.”
The lights were on and music piped through the building in soothing waves as Joanne made her way through the main hall and into the staff locker room. The final installation of lockers beckoned, providing a safe place to store her belongings while she worked. The club was almost complete and every day more and more employees joined the ranks.
Today had been set aside to train wait staff and she and Derek would work together, teaching the new staff the etiquette of the club and its patrons, the attention to detail expected from the staff, and the basics of dominance and submission.
Working with Derek was a major perk for her. She’d come to appreciate the man and his intensity. His strong attitude and the way he controlled her with only is voice made her anticipate seeing him every day. He hadn’t replied to her message last night and she had no idea why he’d been outside her home. At some point, she planned to talk to him about it but, doubted he’d have much to say.
He was like a big teddy bear with a broken paw, and the need to repair him tugged at her heart. When she left the employee lounge, she knew he was in the building. Master Mark was in the second floor hall, his voice resonating in the mostly empty space, and from his tone, he and Master Derek were arguing.
“No. I need you here for the next month. Forget it.”
Derek’s voice punched back. “I’m a partner here, not an employee. I can come and go as I please.”
“You have an obligation to complete the tasks you agreed to when we came up with the plan. Don’t bail on Steve and me when we’re so close to the end of the job.”
Joanne stood fixed beside the banister. Derek wanted to leave. A cave formed in her chest at the idea of not seeing him every day. Moisture matted her lashes and she turned away, her feet moving without direction until she found herself leaning against a wall in the dark recesses of the lower floor.
Maybe he’d come by to say goodbye last night.
Would he turn her training over to Master Mark and never look back? She was nothing more than an employee and a plaything. It was the nature of the business and she should know better than to let emotions get in the way.