“Master Dmitri doesn’t expect sex.” Cora grunted. “You’ll keep your clothes on.”
Presley Flynn scanned the foyer of the snazzy mansion and looked for something to hold on to as her roommate, Cora Adams, hustled her down the corridor. With a little shove, Cora added, “You wanted this, remember?”
“Clearly, I’ve lost my damn mind.” Presley pushed back against Cora’s hands, trying to hold her ground.
The mansion was pleasant, with thick dark wood on the trim of the doorways and gentle burgundy-painted walls, but it did nothing to settle her nerves. Beneath her feet, located in the basement, was the elite BDSM dungeon, Club Sin. “Maybe I need to go to a therapist. Or skip that part and go straight to the nuthouse.”
Cora stepped in front of Presley, and her big blue eyes, lined with dark makeup, sparkled. Her long chocolate-colored hair fell over her black blouse, and her red lipstick covered pursed lips. “You told me you wanted to join the dungeon.”
Presley snorted. “You said I was a long-lost submissive who needed the lifestyle. Which, apparently, is so far from the truth, since why am I on the verge of puking all over this fancy hardwood floor?”
Cora smirked. “Please don’t puke on Master Dmitri’s floor.”
“Okay, great,” Presley muttered in total agreement. “See, it’s best I leave.”
She turned to get the hell out of the place when Cora grabbed her arm, pulling Presley back in front of her. “One chance, Presley, that’s all you get. If you leave now, you won’t be allowed to come back.”
Cora walked forward, and Presley found herself matching her stride. They passed a grand wooden staircase on the left, leading to the upstairs. A huge wrought-iron balcony curved around the entire upper floor, which led to numerous doors used for God knew what.
They strode by an oval-shaped dining room, and Cora added, “There’s a reason why you read so many BDSM erotic novels. There’s a reason why it turns you on. And there’s a reason why you made the decision to come with me tonight.”
Stopping near the doorway to the office that Presley had been avoiding for the last five minutes, she inhaled. “You’re right. I did come here for a reason.” To surrender to her every desire. “I don’t want to walk out the front door, but—” She pointed toward the office. “I’m scared shitless to walk through that door.”
“Of course you are.” Cora grinned. “Your darkest, most secret fantasies await you in that office.” Without another word, she spun on her heel and headed down the hallway in the opposite direction.
“Do you plan on coming in?”
Presley started at the powerful low voice that seemed to draw her forward, giving the fearful butterflies in her stomach a flutter of excitement. Her feet moved without thought as she entered the office, which looked much like a library.
Books filled the shelves at the far end of the room, along with a grand wooden desk. A computer and telephone and other office accessories sat on top of it. A sleek black leather couch was situated straight ahead, under the bay window.
“Ah, she finally decides to enter.”
Presley froze, as time halted. The man never raised his head to look at her, but he didn’t need to. His presence filled the room, making her entirely aware of him. He sat at the desk, his head bowed toward the paper he’d been reading. With the slight curve to his mouth, he stole the air from her lungs. He was hot.
As the owner of Club Sin and the president of Las Vegas’s top casino, Dmitri Pratt matched the mansion with his wealthy exuberance. Hard angles defined his jawline and cheekbones. His lips were lush and sculpted and his nose straight-edged. The sleeves of his black dress shirt were rolled up on his muscular forearms, displaying a tribal dragon tattoo on his left arm.
When she didn’t move, Dmitri stated, with his eyes still focused on the paper, “Take a seat on the couch.”
Exhaling slowly, she shed the tension in her chest as she made her way to the leather sofa and sat down. The coolness of the upholstery against her heated skin came as much needed relief. She crossed her legs, doing her best to portray confidence.
In front of this powerful and experienced man, she didn’t want to show her apprehension. In fact, she’d never been this uncomfortable around men, but Dmitri wasn’t simply a man. He sexually dominated women, and as a Dom, he did the kinky things Presley had only dreamed of fulfilling.
He signed the paper, then he lifted his head. Presley forgot the world around her, absorbed in him. His piercing blue eyes gazed over her from head to toe before his focus returned to her face. The depth of those eyes pulled her in with the intensity of how he watched her. No, how he studied her. He didn’t give her a quick look but a long examination.
Under his stare, her body went mushy and hot. Flames flickered through her veins as he stood from his chair and approached. Her fingernails bit into her palms as her heart rate increased. His muscular frame didn’t fit his fluid gait. Each step he took exuded authority, like a lion on a hunt, but appeared graceful, with controlled power.
She scanned the thickness of his shoulders beneath his black dress shirt, and she noticed how the fabric clung to him, detailing the valleys of his muscles. Glancing lower, she found the rest of him to be more of the same—powerful and masculine. His black slacks, held tight by a leather belt hung low on his hips, hugged his thick thighs.
Stopping in front of her, he stared at her with impressively intense eyes, and a strand of his stylish blond hair hung across his forehead. “So, you’re Cora’s friend? Presley, right?”
The commanding nature of his voice made her breathing erratic. This man had the capability of making her feel giddy as a schoolgirl, as if he were her secret crush who’d noticed her at last. “Yes, that’s me.”
Dmitri’s mouth twitched, and he tucked a finger under her jaw, tilting up her chin. “Welcome to my home, Presley.”
She shivered at the stern yet gentle hold. “Thank you.”
He slid a finger along her jawline, cocking his head, and his study of her touched the center of her soul, awakening her body in a foreign way. As if, for the first time in her life, a man looked at her and truly saw her. His examination made her bare, totally exposed to him, and unusually vulnerable.
Locked in a stare she couldn’t break free from, she wiggled in her seat, unable to stop herself, then she froze. After another shift, she couldn’t ignore the damp silk between her thighs. How was that even possible—nervous one minute to undeniably turned on the next?
Dmitri’s eyebrow arched, and that sexy smile returned. “Pretty little thing, aren’t you, doll?”
He removed his hold and she quivered, and her body hummed with desire. The memory of his touch remained. The path his finger had taken was scorched into her skin, and the heat within only intensified as she drew in his masculine scent, edged with sandalwood.
Watching the twinkle in his eyes increase, she cursed herself for being entirely too obvious. Or maybe she should curse him for being so talented at reading people. To calm down, she glanced around the office, looking for something to take her mind off of her response to him.
It was hopeless.
The home seemed like a fairy tale all in itself. Along the dark taupe wall across from her were four huge canvases forming a solid picture of a lone tree and a moon, reminding her that she was out of her element. “That painting is beautiful.” Enormous and expensive. “Did you pick it out?”
Dmitri followed her gaze for only a moment. “Do I look like the type of man who’d know about art?”
She licked her dry lips, staring at his sculpted mouth that held the mysterious smile, and she admitted, “Kind of.”
“No, doll, I couldn’t care less about it.” He winked. “That’s what interior decorators are for.”
Dmitri deftly turned and strode toward the watercooler in the corner of the office. Presley frowned at his back. Perhaps she had misread him and he wasn’t as fancy as she’d thought, since he seemed amused by her response.
After filling a tall glass with water, he returned to her and offered her the glass. “Here, drink this, love.”
“Thanks.” She accepted the glass, and settled the cool glass on her lap, not sure she’d get the water down her dry throat.
Dmitri leaned in and gazed into her eyes dead-on. “I didn’t give you the glass to hold. I gave you the water because you need it. Drink up, Presley.”
The stern set of his jaw indicated he wouldn’t relent, so with a shrug, she sipped the water. The cool liquid rushed through her mouth and down her throat, easing the tightness as she swallowed. Maybe she needed that more than she’d thought. He gave a firm nod. “Better.”
As he sat next to her on the couch, his thick thigh brushed against hers, and a spark blasted through her, causing her cheeks to warm. The side of his mouth once again curved as he stared at her blush before those intense eyes zeroed in on hers. “Now, then, tell me a bit about yourself.”
“Well—” She focused on their conversation and away from how incredible his body felt against hers. “My parents are still together and have a good marriage. I grew up in Apple Valley my entire life, but I moved to Vegas about four months ago to live with my ex.” She took another sip of the water and realized she’d almost opened a door she didn’t want to go through. Gathering her thoughts, she looked at her hands, clenched around the glass, and continued. “That’s a story not worth repeating.” No way in hell would she tell him about her ex-boyfriend, Steven Moser, on whom she wasted eight years of her life. “Let’s see . . . I’m twenty-five and have no kids.”
Dmitri raised his ankle over his knee, drawing her focus to him, and she noticed his body shaking in silent laughter. Maybe, with Steven on her mind, her defenses were already on high alert. Or perhaps Dmitri made her feel way too inexperienced and even too nervous in this erotic adventure she’d entered, but her glare came fierce and instant.
He frowned. “Would you like to try that again?”
“I have nothing else to say.” She shifted against the couch, realizing now that she deserved his mirth. In this place, she might as well have a halo over her head. “That’s all there is to know about me.”
“No, Presley.” His eyes were dark, firm, and cold. “In my house, my guests don’t glare at me.”
Had he honestly noticed her glare? Most times when she glared at Steven, he didn’t see it or didn’t care enough to ask what had upset her. “I—”
Dmitri’s eyes narrowed. “If I’ve upset you, tell me, so I can address it. Don’t give me nasty looks that I don’t deserve, considering I’ve hardly said a word.”
The authority in his voice made her insides quiver. It was the meaning in his statement that spoke to something deep inside her—I see you. Even if what she’d done bothered him, he didn’t overlook any of her actions. For the first time in a long time—possibly ever—she wasn’t a shadow, a person everyone passed and never truly looked at, and that made her speechless.
However, at his firm look urging her to continue, she took his advice and asked, “What did you find so funny?”
He dropped his ankle from his knee and turned to face her. “Your little rundown there.” His stern expression melted away to a charming smile, drawing her full attention to his kissable mouth. “I didn’t mean for you to tell me everything about yourself, as if I were hiring you.”
Just kill me now!
His eyes softened, as did his voice. “I meant for you to tell me why you want to join the dungeon, considering you look incredibly nervous.”
She almost rolled her eyes but stopped herself. “Right, I guess that’s what you’d want to know.” Shoving her embarrassment away to fret over later, she put on a brave face and lifted her chin. “Well, I read a lot of erotic romance books and . . . um . . . Cora has told me about the lifestyle, and you see, it . . . ”
With a gentle hold, he gripped her chin, tilting her head downward. “Arouses you?”
He dropped his hand and she nodded, and the water in the glass rippled in waves from the tremble of her hands. Gripping it tightly, she bit her lip, which didn’t ease the flickers of mortified tremors.
“What about BDSM arouses you?”
His intense study reached into her soul. She squirmed against the leather couch, and her skin flushed wicked hot. “Err . . . the sex stuff.”
One sleek eyebrow lifted. “The sex stuff?”
She followed the line of his brow along the masculine contours of his face. While his eyebrow arch looked simple enough, it portrayed a statement of curiosity, and he was beautiful. “You know, being tied up, dominated . . . and um . . . other stuff.”
Dmitri considered her in a way that made her feel as if he noticed every flaw on her face. “I’m going to be blunt with you, Presley.” Before she could inquire what he meant by blunt, he added, “I’d appreciate if you stay quiet while I talk. After I’m done, we can discuss what I’ve told you.” He waited for her nod, then he continued. “A Club Sin submissive can be restrained with ropes, cuffs, chains, or anything that can be used to bind a person.” His grin became devilish. “Doms enjoy being creative.”
“In a scene, you might be flogged, paddled, whipped, spanked, or caned. You could find yourself tied to a Saint Andrew’s cross, tossed over a spanking bench, or attached to any other device located in the dungeon.”
Damn her body for flushing at those choices, and damn his wicked expression declaring enjoyment. She took a big gulp of the water, which this time didn’t help the dryness in her throat.
His eyes twinkled. “If it’s within your limits, you might have intercourse in the dungeon or be asked to give oral sex; if your Dom is especially pleased, you could find yourself climaxing in front of a crowd.”
Her mouth dropped open, but he seemed not to realize or care. He added, “This isn’t a sex club meant to have vanilla sex. At Club Sin, you are the submissive and are treated as such.” Drawing in a deep breath, he allowed her a minute to process before he said, “There are no slaves at Club Sin. We have submissives who, outside of the dungeon, are equal in every regard. In the dungeon, you are the bottom in the relationship and will need to accept that. You don’t make decisions. You don’t ask questions. You do what your Dom tells you to do.”
A shiver slid down her spine. Not at what he said, exactly, but how he said it. The heated look in his eye and the stern tone portrayed a confidence that her lower half appreciated. Which had been part of the battle, excitement at the thought of a man controlling her, yet she’d been raised to have a voice and thoughts. Meshing the two desires and wants was confusing at best.
His head tilted. “Submissives at Club Sin are expected to be submissive only while in a scene. Meaning you’re not expected to be in high protocol at all times in the dungeon, as in kneeling at your Dom’s feet and avoiding eye contact. These are the rules I’ve put in place at Club Sin, because they’re what I prefer. To be a member, everyone must follow that rule.”
He once again let her process it all before he said, “Of course, you are to respect all Doms with proper address; mind your manners; and be respectful to other submissives. But we are not a club that expects high protocol, unless that’s something your Dom requires of you for a punishment.” That ridiculously sexy eyebrow arched again. “Do you understand?”
Presley nodded and wiggled in her seat, trying to ignore the heat swirling between her thighs. All of what he said were things she’d read about, fantasized over, and the idea that she’d play the submissive role made her burn.
“Some submissives like things others don’t, and that’s why you outline your limits when you sign the dungeon’s agreement. That part of play at Club Sin is nonnegotiable. Your limits will never be broken. If you want to change a limit, you’ll have a sit-down with me to discuss it. I may agree without hesitation, or I might request that I watch you in scene first if the limit change is drastic.” He casually picked a piece of lint off his pants. “What you do in your private life is your business. Here, in the dungeon, what you do is my business, since I’m the owner of Club Sin. All clear?”
She nodded, managing to close her parted lips, but she was unable to look away from his eyes. There, in their depths, she found something so intoxicating, so centered. Dmitri appeared to be the most put-together man she’d ever met in her life, so sure of himself and his choices, and that was even sexier than his muscular frame and gorgeous face.
He flicked the piece of lint onto the floor. “If you don’t follow what has been asked of you, you will be punished. If you refuse your punishment, you will be escorted from the dungeon and not allowed to return.”
Her breath became trapped in her throat, and as if he read her concern, he added, “A punishment can be a spanking with a hand or a paddle, a night spent wearing a gag, or whatever the Dom thinks is appropriate for your disobedience. But no punishment would ever exceed your limits. One thing you can count on is your punishment will be fair.” He tucked her hair behind her ear, smiling gently. “Now tell me how you feel about what I’ve told you.”
“It’s . . . well . . . I . . .” She swallowed, shifting through all the confusion coursing through her veins. Her body burned so hot that she wanted out of her skin. Her mind warned her how insane it was to agree to something that could, in fact, lead to a punishment.
After a moment, she realized the winner of the internal battle was glaringly obvious, because it was why she’d come here tonight. “God forgive me, I liked it.”
Dmitri gave her a long look before he threw his head back with laughter. Her embarrassment quickly turned to anger, and she stood so fast that the water spilled on the floor. “Stop laughing at me! This isn’t funny.”
He slowly looked at her. His eyes had darkened. He rose to his feet with a powerful grace, taking the glass from her hands, and slamming it on the end table with a clunk. “To your knees.”
In a swift move, she dropped to her knees, cringing when she connected with the hardwood floor. The second the pain eased, she realized what he’d asked and what she’d done.
Had she honestly responded to Dmitri without a single thought? Was she seriously kneeling for the man at his feet? And why had he told her to kneel? Because she snapped at him, or maybe she’d glared again? Her mind raced to understand what had happened in the last couple of seconds, but failed miserably.
Dmitri’s shiny black shoes rested in front of her, and his rich masculine scent wrapped around her. He didn’t move, nor did he say a word.
She did the only thing she thought would be appropriate in this extremely awkward moment. She whispered, “I’m sorry.”