Jason swiped his key card and opened the door leading into the viewing loft. With a tilt of his head he indicated for the other Dom to precede him.
After the briefest hesitation, Mario went ahead.
Jason followed, alert for his friend’s first reaction, the unguarded one that would tell him what the other man really thought. The loft was not especially wide, but it ran the entire circumference of the club’s main play space. It was furnished with a variety of padded benches and a few armchairs where members could relax and watch the scenes playing out on the floor below. A waist-high wall of glass allowed the players on the floor to see the activities of those in the loft. It was all very elegant, and he was damn proud of it.
“Impressive.” Mario leaned his hands on the wall and took in the space with a single sweeping glance. “Very impressive indeed. Your design?”
Jason nodded. He pointed to the sprawling area below them. “We call this the fishbowl because the action can be viewed from every side. There’s also a glass ceiling that serves as the dance floor in the lounge upstairs. The glass not only allows the dancers to view the action, but it lets in the lights from upstairs. The effect is quite striking, if I do say so myself. But you’ll see at the party tonight.”
“Nice.” Mario sank down on the padded bench and propped his elbows on his knees. “Must have been quite the job remodeling this place. It’s an old factory, isn’t it?”
“It is. But I called in a lot of favors, did a lot of the work myself, kept the cost down.”
“It still looks like a factory from the outside. But I imagine that’s the way you like it.”
Mario turned his attention to the large circular play space. “This is nice.” He swept his hand in a wide arc, then gestured to the two figures playing below them. “Very nice. Who is she?”
“That’s Shannon. And the blond is her boy. His name is Derek Hainey.”
“Don’t you mean her pony?” Mario chuckled. “She handles him well.”
They watched in silence for several minutes as Shannon worked her pony boy, directing him with the crop in her gloved hand. He was naked except for a bit-gag, a cock ring, and a long horse’s tail attached to a plug in his ass.
She motioned with the crop. He reared up and pawed the air, his erection standing out dark and heavily veined against his flat belly. She said something and though the words were unclear the tone was unmistakable. The crop cracked against the back of his thighs.
The sound would have had most people wincing in sympathy, but Jason and Mario exchanged smiles.
Pony boy prostrated himself at her feet and pressed his face to the top of her tall black riding boot. She nudged him away, turned, and left him where he lay, dismissing him without a second glance. Getting to his knees, he crawled after her.
“She’s something, isn’t she?” Mario’s eyes never left the scene. “Does she ever switch?”
“Never. Shannon is all Domme. But I’m sure she’d top you if—”
Mario laughed. “Christ, I haven’t been topped since our training days.” He sobered. “Not since that last time—”
“I can hardly remember back that far.” The last thing he wanted right then was a stroll down memory lane with Mario. What he did want was more of an explanation of why his friend was here and what had prompted him to close his own establishment.
“So you never said how long you’re planning to stay.” Jason studied Mario covertly, looking for what he wasn’t entirely sure.
“A few weeks, I imagine, perhaps a month if it’s not inconvenient.”
“Of course not. Stay as long as you want. Is everything settled with the sale of the club?”
“Mm-hmm, mostly. The lawyers are handling details. They tell me where to sign and I sign. Nothing much to it.”
“Who’s your buyer?”
“A Dom I know from the Seattle area.”
This was getting them nowhere.
Jason turned and faced Mario. “Why now?”
“Hmm?” Whether his friend was truly distracted or not, Jason couldn’t tell.
“Why are you selling the club? I mean, why now, out of the blue?”
Something flickered in the other man’s eyes, and he shrugged. “It’s not out of the blue. I’d been thinking about it for a while, then this opportunity came up so I grabbed it. Carpe diem, you know?”
Before Jason could respond, Mario turned his attention very deliberately back to the scene below. He said nothing more on the subject which maybe was just as well.
In any case, Jason decided he’d let it go for now. There would be plenty of time later to discover the real story.
Below them, pony boy knelt at his mistress’s feet, his head bent in submission. The crop whistled and slapped, whistled and slapped, whistled and slapped as she laid into him. Red welts crisscrossed the back of his legs and both ass cheeks. Tears ran freely down his face and his shoulders shook, but he made no sound, and the expression on his face was one of pure bliss.
“Will she let him fuck her?” Mario asked.
“They are lovers though, clearly. I see it in the way he looks at her.”
Jason nodded. “They are, but Shannon doesn’t go in for public fucking, not unless she’s the one doing the fucking.”
Mario nodded. “Looks like she’d be quite something with a strap-on.”
“She is, not that I’d know personally.” Jason grinned. “Why? You reconsidering a switch?”
Mario laughed too and shook his head. “Not me. But what about you? Have you gone over to the other team for good?”
From anyone else it would have been an odd, possibly even offensive, question. But from this man he’d once known so well, even intimately, Jason just took it in stride. He shrugged. “I still like girls. Though lately I seem to prefer the boys to the girls.”
“But you haven’t collared that pretty little assistant of yours. Why not? Or am I wrong and he wears your collar under his clothes?”
“Benny isn’t a sub. He’s not even in the scene. He just works for me.”
“Is that what he told you, or your impression?”
“What do you mean?”
“I think you may be misled in that regard. I get a very strong vibe of submission from him. I’m quite frankly surprised you don’t.”
Jason shook his head. “You’re mistaken.”
Mario was silent for a long moment, his expression thoughtful. “Well, certainly you know him better than I, but still…”
Shannon was now kneeling on the floor, her sub’s head cradled in her lap. One of his hands caressed her thigh while the other jacked his prick for her. She had removed his gag and was stroking his hair like a favorite pet. From the way his hips jerked, clearly his orgasm was close.
“Do you want to stay for the fireworks?” Jason asked.
“Not especially.” Mario got to his feet, turning from the scene. “Not unless there’s something special that’s going to happen and you’re not telling me?”
“Not that I know of.” Jason opened the door. “But there is something else I want to show you.”
He led his friend from the loft, through a series of back hallways and down a set of narrow winding stairs into the basement.
“If I didn’t know better, I’d swear you were taking me to the dungeon.”
“That’s exactly where I’m taking you.” With the flick of a few switches, Jason turned off the overhead lights and illuminated the electric torches mounted to the walls on both sides of them. “This part of the club isn’t even open to the members yet. But I wanted you to see it.”
The door to the dungeon room was closed. Jason keyed the lock and the door swung open.
Once more Mario preceded him. He stopped just inside the room.
Jason pulled himself up short so as not to run into the other man’s back. The room was nice, but it wasn’t all that—
“So, boy, we meet again.” Mario advanced with Jason right behind him.
Benny was bent over one of the toy chests, a coil of purple rope held in one hand and earbud wires trailing from his ears. His back faced them, his hips gyrated in a move so unconsciously sexual that Jason felt an instant surge of lust.
He tamped it down. This was Benny, for Christ’s sake, not some little slut boy from the club.
Benny’s head bopped from side to side and his hair, gelled into soft purple spikes, waved to and fro in time with the music.
Already he had the room mostly put back together, the props and lights and other equipment from the photo shoot cleared away like it had never been there at all. Only his camera equipment and the director’s chair remained as evidence.
An image of himself seated in that chair flashed in Jason’s head, the beautiful blue-haired Rain on his knees, that gloriously wicked mouth stretched wide around his cock. He blinked the memory away.
Good thing Benny hadn’t returned two minutes sooner or he would have gotten an eyeful of his and Rain’s après-photo activities.
As if sensing that he was no longer alone, Benny stopped dancing and turned. His face flushed scarlet, and he yanked the earbuds from his ears.
“Oh crap. Sorry, Ja—Sirs. I didn’t hear you come in.” As Benny talked, the blush spread from his cheeks, down his neck, and back to his ears.
It was pretty funny, that almost shy embarrassment. Jason felt a grin tug at his lips.
Mario chuckled. “Not a problem, boy. I was hoping we’d be seeing each other again.”
“Me too, Sir.”
Though Benny’s gaze was appropriately lowered, Jason could tell he was studying the other man covertly through those impossibly long, dark lashes. He wondered if Mario knew it too. And if he did, whether or not he would comment.
“So, Benny, what do you think of your boss’s latest acquisitions?” Mario gestured to the array of medieval torture devices displayed all around them.
“Um, to be honest, Sir, I don’t like them.”
“And why is that?”
Benny gave a small shrug. “They scare me a little, I guess.”
“And why do they scare you? They’re antiques. It’s not as if they’ll be used for play. Heaven forbid.”
“But they were used…before. On real people, I mean.” Benny pointed to the brazen bull in the corner. “Jason said they used to roast people alive in that thing.” He shuddered. “It just creeps me out, is all.”
“Benny, Mario is the collector I bought all these things from.”
Benny widened his eyes, and he stared at Mario like he hadn’t ever really seen him before. “Oh.”
Jason could see him processing the thought of the attractive man before him and the horrific torture machines. He’d been squeamish about them ever since they’d started arriving a month earlier. As far as Jason could tell, his reluctance to be around them hadn’t much changed with the passage of time.
“I didn’t mean…” Benny stammered.
“Not to worry. You didn’t offend me.” Mario stepped in close. At well over six-two, he towered over Benny. “Perhaps some time I can tell you where each piece comes from and how I came to own them. Maybe then you’d feel better about them, hmm?”
Benny lowered his lashes. His tongue slipped out and moistened his lips. “I’m sure I would, Sir.”
And what the hell was all that about? The close proximity, the licking of his lips… Jealousy sparked in Jason’s gut, not that he had any right to be jealous. But still.
Jason cleared his throat and lightly touched his friend’s arm.
Mario seemed to get the message, even if Jason himself wasn’t completely certain what that message was. He stepped back and swept his gaze around the room before he turned to Jason, his eyes shining. A moment of silent understanding passed between them, and Mario acknowledged it with a small smile. But then he paused, a frown forming between his brows. “But where’s the iron maiden?”
“That one hasn’t arrived yet. I didn’t realize you’d already sent it.”
“I supervised her packing myself. That was at least two weeks ago.” His attention returned to Benny. “Wait till you see the maiden, Benny. She’s a real beauty, like you, though in quite a different way, of course.”
“Thank you, Sir.”
Mario chuckled. “Just the truth, boy.” He shifted his stance a fraction closer. He slid his gaze down Benny’s slender body, then back up. It was his measuring look, the one he reserved for potential partners.
Maybe his old friend had not gotten the message. Or maybe he hadn’t cared to get it.
Benny leaned in as if magnetized by that look, a sliver of metal drawn inexorably toward Mario’s force field.
The two of them stood that way for several heartbeats, the air crackling between them.
“Benny,” Jason snapped, the single word coming out more sharply than he’d intended.
The kid jolted as if he’d gotten an electric shock. His gaze shifted from Mario to Jason and he blinked. “What? I mean—”
Jason waved him to silence. “Could you go upstairs and get me a membership packet?”
“We need to get Mario set up with a guest membership.”
“You want me to do that now?” His gaze flicked back to the other Dom.
“But I’m not quite finished—”
“I’ll handle things down here. Just get the papers and leave them on my desk.”
“I could help Sir fill them out.” Benny glanced at Mario. And was that really longing he saw in his boy’s eyes?
Jason checked himself. Benny was not his boy. Hadn’t he just gotten done making that point to Mario?
“That won’t be necessary,” Jason said.
Benny sighed. “Okay.” His gaze met Mario’s for just a fleeting moment, and his lips curved into a heart-stopping smile. “It was nice seeing you again, Sir.”
Mario returned the smile. “I hope I’ll be seeing more of you.” He rested a hand on Benny’s shoulder and squeezed. “A lot more.”
Benny ducked his head. “I’d like that, Sir.”