Mary drove past the iron gate minutes before six o’clock and up the cobblestone driveway toward the Georgian-style mansion. Set back from the road, the redbrick residence was decorated with black shutters and white pillars. Flowers embellished every inch of the grounds, as did olive and Australian willow trees. Dmitri Pratt and Presley Flynn’s home was breathtakingly beautiful yet commanding in its own way, too.
She approached the circular portion of the driveway, and parked her car behind a limousine. As she turned off the engine to her Mercedes convertible, Mary tried to figure out whom the limo could belong to. Since the chauffeur was waiting patiently in the vehicle, she doubted it belonged to her dear friend Dmitri. Besides, he had always preferred to drive himself.
Curious now, she grasped the wine bottle off the passenger seat, and as she exited the car the stifling Vegas air engulfed her. Her high heels clicked against the stone driveway as she made her way to the dark hardwood front door. When she reached the entrance and knocked, the light breeze fluttered the hem of her mauve sundress.
Only seconds passed before the door opened, and Dmitri’s girlfriend, Presley, greeted her, wearing a strapless yellow baby-doll dress. Mary thought even with dark eye makeup around her gorgeous emerald-green eyes and her curled blond hair, Presley still looked much younger than Mary’s own fifty years.
“I’m so glad you could make it, Mary,” Presley said with her sweet smile. “It’s nice to see you again.”
Mary returned the smile, stepping into the house and hugging her friend tightly. Since Presley had come into Dmitri’s life, she had made it a point to invite Mary over for a weekly dinner. At first Mary had refused the kind offer because she worried it would bring back too many memories. Dmitri reminded her of her late husband, Charles, whom she missed dearly. Though after Presley’s numerous invites Mary felt rude saying no. Now she enjoyed their get-togethers, even looking forward to them. She released Presley and said, “Thank you for having me. How are things?”
“Couldn’t be better. I told you, or I think we talked about, my hours at the clinic being cut back, which is good and bad financially, of course, but it’s giving Dmitri and me more time together.” Presley’s soft, gentle voice was so welcoming.
“Wonderful news.” Mary offered the bottle of wine. “A treat for dinner tonight. A nice white that I think will complement whatever you’re serving.”
“Yum. Thank you. Let’s go into the kitchen and talk a bit before we eat.” Presley turned and headed in that direction, her curls bouncing around her shoulders.
Mary smiled, as Presley reminded her a lot of herself when she was twenty-five years old—passionate about life. She removed her high heels, leaving them at the door like she always did, and looked around the foyer. A huge balcony curved around the entire upper floor, leading to a grand wooden staircase. Dmitri’s interior designer, someone that Mary had recommended when he built the home just over four years ago, had outdone herself. From the art on the walls, to the decorative sculptures, the house exuded wealth. One of her favorite paintings was the Edgar Degas—she wasn’t sure if it was a print or an original, Dmitri could afford either. She always admired the entrance no matter how many times she’d seen it before.
Her gaze lowered to the cherry hardwood floors, and her stomach tightened. In the basement was a secret not many knew of unless they were members of the elite and exclusive BDSM dungeon Club Sin. A club that Mary had never attended—in fact, she had no idea what it looked like, only that the club existed.
Even if Dmitri owned the dungeon and would no doubt allow her membership, many of the members were his close friends and presumably closer to his age, thirty-five years old, or younger. It was one thing to visit your friends’ home for dinner; it’s quite another to have a dialogue half naked and dressed for play. Besides, most of Club Sin’s members were still single and she doubted any of them had children—the differences in their lives were vast, and therefore playing at the club lacked in appeal in more ways than one.
After Charles, her husband and the father of her children, and also her best friend and Dom, passed away, just over four short years ago, her need to play in BDSM clubs died with him.
She sighed through those still-painful memories and followed Presley when she heard voices coming from the living room. Glancing to her left, she noted Dmitri sitting on one of the leather couches. His features were stern and focused on his conversation until his eyes met hers; then he smiled.
With his blond hair and piercing blue eyes, Dmitri was a handsome young man. Though she’d known Dmitri for more than ten years, the relationship between them had always been strictly platonic. “Mary,” Dmitri said, waving her into the room. “Please come in.”
She immediately noticed another man with a dark head of hair showing hints of gray on the sides. When he rose from his seat, her breathing faltered and her gaze drank him in.
“Mary Schmidt,” Dmitri said. “Please meet Elliott Foster.”
Elliott was tall, at least six-foot-three, and compared to Mary’s five-foot-six frame, he towered over her. He had a powerful physique, obviously a man who cared for himself and lived a healthy lifestyle. It’d been quite a while since she’d allowed herself to have an interest in another man, but this guy, she couldn’t look away.
He was undeniably gorgeous, and he looked to be right around her age.
Excitement shot through her when the side of Elliott’s mouth arched in a half-smile. He offered her his hand in greeting. “It’s my pleasure.”
“Likewise.” Mary slid her hand into his and heady warmth seeped from his strong fingers into hers; she felt drawn in to his spell.
His grip tightened slightly and he observed her. Nervously, she shifted on her feet from side to side, suddenly very unsure in her own skin.
She removed her hand from his, and couldn’t help but cast her gaze downward. Partly anxiety but partly a result of his presence, a natural response for her, and unfortunately something he would also detect and understand himself.
A long pause passed before Dmitri cleared his throat, drawing Mary’s attention. “Elliott is a close friend. We do a lot of business together.” His normal conversation pulled her back into their surroundings.
“Oh, do you work at the casino as well?” she asked, keeping her focus on Dmitri, attempting to settle the racing of her heart. Without having Elliott confirm it, she knew he was a Dom—for those in the lifestyle, it was instinctual. She could tell by his observation of her, the knowing smile, and the desire in his eyes. Possibly even in the way he commanded his space within the room. She didn’t know if he played at Club Sin or somewhere else, but experience led her to identify a sexual Dominant.
“I invest in many companies,” Elliott replied, his voice smooth and alluring, holding mystery. “Dmitri’s casino is one of them.”
She sensed his stare and peeked at him. When their eyes locked on each other, her stomach somersaulted. She realized this was the first time she’d been around a mature Dom since Charles had died.
The effect rattled her, because she was aroused, interested, and she liked it.
An unnerving ache sizzled between her thighs, reminding her she’d been neglecting her own needs. When Charles was alive their relationship was very sexual and they enjoyed their play in and out of the dungeon. She’d always been a submissive and fiercely reacted around a Dom. Now she realized she still craved the power a Dominant held—the confidence, and the kink he could offer.
Dmitri said, “We’re looking to expand at the casino, so I casually was inquiring to see if Elliott might want to be involved.”
Elliott smiled, yet it was his chocolate-brown eyes that held Mary’s focus. They were commanding, capturing her as he said, “And I casually said yes.”
Dmitri laughed at Elliott’s remark, but Mary couldn’t move. Couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t ignore the heat coursing through her. This man had a serious effect on her and she wasn’t sure what to do about it.
Someone brushed against her arm, drawing her gaze away from Elliott’s stare. She inhaled sharply, discovering Presley had entered the room. An awkward moment passed as Presley looked from Mary to Elliott, then her smile beamed. “You know, I made a little extra for dinner tonight. Would you like to stay, Elliott?”
Mary tensed, awaiting his answer. On one hand, she would enjoy knowing more about this man; on the other, heady guilt was riding her for even thinking that. She still missed Charles. She still loved him. In her heart, she still belonged to her Dom.
Elliott’s gaze zeroed in on Mary before his grin turned devilish. “I would love to stay for dinner, thank you.”
“Just give us a few more minutes, doll,” Dmitri said to Presley and motioned to the papers on the glass coffee table. “We’re just wrapping up the details.”
Mary clenched her teeth, sensing Elliott’s focus remaining on her. She instantly shivered and swore his stare was similar to fingertips dragging over her flesh. Doing her best to hide her unexpected reaction, she followed Presley into the chef’s kitchen. She inhaled the warm hints of spices and settled her hip against the island, narrowing her eyes on Presley.
Presley gave a tight smile. “He’s handsome, isn’t he?”
“Presley,” Mary warned.
“I’m just saying, he is.” She laughed softly. “Besides, isn’t it nice to meet someone else in the lifestyle?”
Mary frowned. What is this? Is she matchmaking tonight?
Though Presley was referring to the relationship of a submissive and Dom when the two lived the BDSM lifestyle, enjoying the power exchange and kink, Mary hadn’t been involved in it since Charles passed. “If I wanted to meet others in the lifestyle, I would have arranged it myself, without your meddling.” She crossed her arms. “I didn’t come here tonight for a date, if that’s what you thought you were arranging.”
Presley opened the oven and peeked in before she glanced over her shoulder. “It’s not like I planned it or something. I don’t mean to step on toes or anything, but I thought it’d be rude not to invite him to stay for dinner. Even if Elliott wasn’t in the lifestyle, I still would have asked him.” She shut the oven and added, “Why, does it make you uncomfortable?”
Mary withheld her response, knowing it shouldn’t make her uncomfortable. If Elliott wasn’t a Dom, having another dinner guest wouldn’t be a problem. Yet she sensed something with him that made her feel unsteady. The heat burning through her reminded her she was attracted to him and that he was a Dominant, a man who was skilled in controlling women and getting what he wanted.
She lifted her chin, forcing the thoughts away. She was no longer a submissive and certainly was not going to act on her body’s response to him. Her fingers absentmindedly reached for her diamond necklace—Charles’s claim of her—which was the collar that marked her as his. No one could replace him. “You’re right. It would have been rude of you not to ask him. Just no matchmaking, got it?”
“Of course,” Presley replied with a smile. She moved toward the counter, grabbing the tray of buns. “But maybe it’ll be nice to talk with someone who isn’t”—she glanced over her shoulder and grinned—“my age.”
Mary laughed, picking up the bowl of summer salad. Nice way of not saying she was old, she thought. Regardless of the years between them, she’d grown fond of Presley in the few months she’d known her.
Though lingering tension followed Mary as she walked through the kitchen toward the circular dining room, she could not be happier for Dmitri and all of the success he had achieved as well. When Charles first hired him to work at the casino, Dmitri had seemed strained, as if something heavy was weighing on him. His years of employment with her late husband was how she’d got to know Dmitri, and over time he became more relaxed and another part of their family. Not only had he and Charles gotten along very well, but Dmitri was a Master and needed to release that controlling nature, so when he got involved in the lifestyle he became a more well-rounded young man.
Charles had introduced Dmitri to Chains, a local BDSM club, and mentored him. They had known Dmitri since he was in his twenties, and he had gone from a kid who struggled through life to a confident thirty-three-year-old man.
Her late husband would have been proud of the man, and Dom, Dmitri had become.
Mary entered the dining room and placed the salad on the antique table, knowing Presley’s intentions were good. Perhaps Presley thought Mary was missing something in her life.
Maybe she was.
She’d always known she’d lost a piece of herself when Charles passed away. In the year Charles was sick with terminal pancreatic cancer, she hadn’t been interested in anything sexual at all. She only wanted her husband well again. Then in the years since his death, she hadn’t watched a BDSM scene, except for a few adult movies, which were much different from being in the club and seeing a live display.
It’d been a long time since she had sex or any sexual physical contact, with or without the kink she had once craved and needed in her life. She sighed as she aligned the fork next to the plate and noticed Presley watching her. “All right, spit it out.”
Presley looked down, fiddling with a napkin. “Do you think you’ll ever date again?”
“I’ve already met the man I was meant to be with and he’s gone.” Presley’s eyes saddened, but Mary pushed past the thickness in her throat. “You don’t get two chances at something that beautiful.”
Forty-five minutes later, Elliott sipped his scotch on the rocks, leaning against the cool, dark brown leather chair in the sitting room. His stomach was full and he was now regretting that second helping.
Hearing voices in the distance, he glanced toward the kitchen, listening to Mary laughing with Presley as they finished cleaning up. He had offered to help, but both women responded with a resounding no. He smiled, letting the scotch warm him.
With the home’s open floor plan they could see each other across the way, and Mary clearly felt him staring—when she looked up directly at him all the blood in his body pooled into his cock. Brown eyes that held a gentle soul, yet a fiery confidence, watched him. Mary’s features were delicate; she had a thin nose and long, shaggy brown hair that surrounded her oval face, with bangs that fell over her brow. The faint creases he noticed earlier around the corners of her eyes showed her age—early fifties, Elliott figured.
She looked at him for a moment longer before she turned to Presley and laughed at something Presley had said. Elliott’s world faded with the power of Mary’s smile. Maybe there was a touch of sadness to it, but she still radiated with life.
Mary’s beauty stopped the world from moving around him.
For the briefest of seconds her gaze returned to him, and Elliott restrained his groan. She heated perfectly under his stare, intoxicating him. Her dark, sensual expression made his thoughts turn wicked, including a tempting image of being on top of her and staring into those soft eyes while he thrust in deep. But every time she’d suddenly move her focus away she puzzled him.
Her blatant aroused reactions proved she’d played in the BDSM lifestyle before. Only an experienced submissive would react in the manner she had with a Dominant near. Though looking at her lacing her hands in front of her and the way she cast her gaze down, she almost portrayed an innocence about the lifestyle.
That was something he’d determine later. He turned to Dmitri. “Call me when the paperwork is ready and I’ll drop by your office and sign it.”
Dmitri watched Mary, then nodded to Elliott. “Perfect.”
Elliott had enough sense to know something stayed on Dmitri’s mind. Many years ago, they had met at a club while on vacation in San Francisco. Small world, he’d thought at the time. But they had exchanged cards with the thought of working together at some point. Within a year, they had done some business together, investing in a small marketing company out of New York. Then Dmitri had invited Elliott to his exclusive BDSM dungeon, Club Sin. When he had heard the members were in their twenties and thirties, Elliott graciously declined.
He wanted an experienced woman, and in his case, age mattered.
Elliott glanced to Mary and he all but salivated. That type of woman was what he wanted. Educated with a Dom. Experienced in the lifestyle. A woman whom he could arouse by not even touching her. A lady that blushed innocently, yet could also play with kink and own her pleasure.
Dmitri chuckled. “Interested?”
“It’s obvious, I take it?” Elliott murmured, then turned to Dmitri and said with a smile, “Is she single?”
“From what I know, I believe so.”
Meaning Dmitri knew she didn’t have a steady lover, but Elliott figured that also meant Dmitri wasn’t sure if Mary had a Dom. Emotion crossed Dmitri’s face that Elliott couldn’t quite place. He was curious now to learn more about her, but he also heard the women approaching, so he quickly asked, “Would my interest be all right with you?”
“Of course,” Dmitri replied with an arched brow. “A man would be good for her. A Dom would be even better.”
Before Elliott could dig in to that statement further, the women entered the room. He hastily downed his drink and then rose from his seat. “I could use another.” He smiled at Presley, then asked the group, “Would anyone else like an after-dinner drink?” Presley nodded, as did Dmitri. Then Elliott turned to Mary. She hadn’t taken her eyes off him. Her breath grew raspy and her cheeks were flushed. Intriguing. “Some wine, Mary?”
She licked her lips. “White, please.”
He couldn’t remove his focus from her damp lips, creating all sorts of naughty sexual images in his mind. Shaking his head to clear his thoughts, he turned to confirm the other drink requests, realizing he’d been caught.
A hint of a smile crossed Dmitri’s face. “White for both Presley and me, thank you.”
Elliott turned to Mary, who stared at him with wide, excited eyes. Yeah, he understood her desire. He felt it, too. “Come, beautiful, help me gather the drinks.”
She took a step forward, as if drawn by his order, not wanting to refuse. Which was exactly why he’d phrased the request as he had and not posed it as a question. He watched her, wondering over her next move. Sure, he was testing the waters, but he needed to understand this little puzzle.
Mary drew in a deep breath, lowering her head, trying to recover her emotions. When she regarded Dmitri all heat had vanished from her face, her gaze was guarded. “White wine, you said?”
Obviously sensing the challenge between his two guests, Dmitri smirked. “Two, please.”
Elliott thought her response was ever the more fascinating. Not only did she shield her arousal so fiercely, not allowing it to awaken and be obvious to him, but she seemed hell-bent on keeping him at bay.
In that one second, her actions told him: I turned to Dmitri to ask because I’m not following your order. I’m getting my friends a drink.
Little did she know Elliott loved a challenge. In his life, he conquered businessmen who were known to make grown men cry. He’d gotten investors to dive into risky businesses. He loved those stone walls in life that needed to be broken down to succeed.
Mary had unknowingly become his next conquest.
She turned to him with her chin lifted high. “Are you ready to serve the drinks?”
His frown pulled at the corners of his mouth as he took the final step to close the distance. He leaned down by her face, and the sweetness of her flowering scent spiraled around him. “I do believe I already said that I wanted you to help me get the drinks.” He arched a brow at her. “Did you not hear me?”
“I heard you.” She hesitated. “I—”
“Good,” he interjected with an easy smile. “For a moment there I thought you had a problem with your hearing.”
She laughed softly, avoiding his gaze. “No, my hearing is just fine.”
He noted the flush of her cheeks returned as he leaned away. “Then please come with me so we can enjoy some drinks.” A power play with him she would lose, of that he was confident. And he rather enjoyed hearing her following behind him as he entered the kitchen.
Nice try, though, he mused to himself.
He reached the kitchen island and removed three glasses from the side cabinet as Mary went to the fridge and pulled out the bottle of chardonnay. Once she moved to his side, he sensed her become still, almost frozen in time. He took the bottle from her and she stared at him with dazzling eyes, burning with a light he’d not seen in some time—fierce attraction.
He uncorked the bottle and asked, “Are you a member of Club Sin, Mary?”
She shook her head. “No, I prefer not to play with young men.”
He smiled, filling up the first glass. “You are clearly a submissive, so do you play elsewhere, then?”
“No.” She peeked at him before she pushed the second glass closer to him. “I’m no longer in the lifestyle.”
Surprise flickered through him, and he hurried to finish filling the second and third glasses. He placed the bottle down and turned to her. She stared at the wine bottle, not moving, barely breathing, it seemed.
Unable to stop himself, pulled by the attraction, he trailed a finger over her bare shoulder and her gaze snapped to him. He waited for her to lash out at him, but her mouth stayed shut. She wasn’t even blinking.
He lowered his gaze and watched his finger running up and down her arm, and murmured, “Now, why would a submissive who reacts as beautifully as you do not play anymore?”
“I”—she inhaled sharply and moved away from his touch—“it’s not something that interests me any longer.”
“Funny,” he retorted. “Your body seems to disagree with that statement.”
She snapped her head up, eyes narrowed. “By that, you mean?”
Her glare struck him hard in the chest, being the sexiest thing he’d ever seen. He loved a woman with fire in her blood. The stronger the personality, the better. “I would say that in my experience as a Dom, and that is about thirty years of experience, that you’re aching to play.”
She stared at him for a few seconds before casting her gaze down. “You’re wrong.”
“Am I?” He moved closer, getting right in her space. “I bet I could prove you’re wrong.”
She looked to him again; the angry glare was gone. His cock twitched as he listened to her deepening breaths. Slowly, he lifted his hand, giving her the chance to move away, but again she stayed put. He gripped her arm, pressed his body against hers, and she leaned in to him, probably not even realizing she’d done so.
Held captive by her mouth, he traced a thumb over her cheek. Yeah, darlin’, a kiss would be nice, wouldn’t it? “Now tell me again what you just said when I asked why you don’t play.”
Silence greeted him.
Her eyes were dark, deliciously aroused. He would bet money her lower lips were as puffy, red, and wet as the ones on her face. Leaning down, he brought his mouth close to hers, letting her feel the touch of a Dominant, and allowing her to experience the nearness of a commanding man.
“You lie to yourself, beautiful.” He dragged his finger over her bottom lip, hearing the hitching of her breath. “I smell your need. I feel that your lush body is ready and willing.” Dropping his hand from her chin, he stepped back, and watched her brace her hands on the island.
Intrigue and burning attraction had him reaching into his back pocket and pulling out a card from his wallet. “I hold a BDSM play party every two weeks at Dmitri’s casino.” Which was a gathering of kinky people who didn’t want to attend clubs, public or otherwise. “We have one scheduled for tomorrow night at eight o’clock. This card will give you access.”
He offered her the card, but she didn’t accept it, so he placed it on the counter. “I promise that you would be comfortable there. Everyone is around our age, and all are looking for exactly what we want. A fun, private party to explore our sexual lifestyle.” Pulled by the electricity between them, he moved closer. “I want to play with you, Mary.” He brushed his lips across her cheek, relishing her shiver while he whispered in her ear, “Stop lying to yourself, so that I can.”