Truly helpless, p.2
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       Truly Helpless, p.2
 

         Part #10 of Nature of Desire series by Joey W. Hill

  "Had enough?" she said in a neutral tone.

  He nodded.

  A long pause, as if she wasn't that willing to let this end. But it was a demo. She wasn't going to push things. She raised her voice. "Say you'll never put your feet on the walls again."

  "I'll never put my feet on the walls again." If he was being his normal self, he would have added a teasing caveat to win himself a few more stripes. She must have realized it, because she waited an extra beat before she made a noncommittal noise and freed his ankles. Before she released his wrists, she rubbed his back gently with firm hands, making sure he was grounded. He didn't need that, didn't need that kind of aftercare, so he twitched enough to let her know, to make her stop. He didn't want her to stop.

  When she took off one wrist cuff, he removed the blindfold himself. The first thing he saw were her eyes, dark pools. He'd never let himself look too deeply into them. Maybe because he could fall and be lost.

  She braced a hand on his shoulder, rising onto her toes to release the other cuff. When she did, he found himself laying his cheek on her knuckles. Just putting his head down a second. Not really sure why.

  He closed his eyes as she rested her hand on his head. It felt like all the things he would never have. Absolution, redemption, tenderness. A Mistress. Fortunately, he regained his senses and drew away. He stepped off the cross, avoiding further touch, and reached for whatever defenses that were still in reach of his grasping fingertips.

  "Thank you, Mistress," he said in a raised voice, giving her a playful grin and turning away. He pulled up his shorts and rubbed his ass, making the cute sub girls giggled.

  Regina watched him with those knowing eyes, and without smiling. She wasn't pissed. Just too aware. He added a respectful nod, conveying more serious thanks. When he did that, she nodded in return. His eyes lingered on her glossed lips, the gentle rise and fall of her breasts. The cocked hip stance, her meditative look. That was all he could have. He walked away.

  As he made his escape, he saw Noah sitting against the wall in an unoccupied part of the play room, a good vantage point to watch several of the stations at once. Marius snagged a towel and a bottled water before sliding down to sit next to him. Everything in his back, ass and thighs was tingling. Everywhere she'd struck or touched.

  He didn't say anything right off. Just ran the towel over his damp neck and chest. Noah had his head tipped back against the wall, knees drawn up to his chest, his eyes half closed. The lean man with long dark hair wore nothing but a pair of jeans and his tattoos. He'd been with Mistress Lyda for some time, long enough for their relationship to be considered a serious thing, but he never said anything about that. He had something to say about other things, though.

  "That was some intense shit."

  "You must have been watching something different." Marius took a swig of water. "That was just a demo, man."

  "Yeah, sure. You should think about looking deeper into that."

  Marius followed Noah's gaze to Regina, who'd met up with Mistress Lisette and was taking a seat with her at a courtside table. "You think she's looking for a boy-toy?"

  Noah snorted. "I think if you pull that boy-toy stuff on her, she'll tear you to pieces and make you beg to be put back together again. Which she'd probably do, though she'd hold onto your dick for a few weeks to remind you not to fuck with her."

  Because that twisted his cock and his gut in ways he couldn't interpret, Marius scoffed. "I've watched her play. She's not into that kind of meanness."

  "That's surface stuff, and you're playing dumb. Her way of holding control has nothing to do with maximum force."

  No, it didn't. It had taken him by surprise. Noah described it just right. When she touched him, she touched things far below the surface. Chemistry. Fuck. Had she felt it? He thought she had, but he could hope she hadn't.

  "The boy-toy thing doesn't work forever, you know," Noah pointed out. "Not when you really do want a Mistress. The player routine is starting to look a little thin, Marius."

  "I don't--" Marius broke off, his attention zeroing in on the activity at the suspension station. He glanced at the Dungeon Master on duty, Carlissa, but the DM was handling equipment instruction with a new member on the other side of the floor. "Hold that stupid and entirely off the mark thought. Back in a sec."

  Noah grinned. "You're not on schedule to DM or do security tonight. You notice everything, man. Sure you're not a Mistress?"

  "I'll come back and fuck you up the ass so you can decide for yourself," Marius said, already getting to his feet. He moved to the suspension station. The Dom was fortunately squatting over his open suitcase of ropes and clips. "Sir Guillaume?"

  The black man with a runner's physique and a cauliflower top of short dreads shot him a look. Marius saw the usual flash of irritation that any Dom experienced when interrupted in session, so he got right to the point. He nodded to the slim Hispanic male sub, blindfolded and wrapped in an elaborate harness of jute, his feet off the ground since Guillaume had him suspended from the sturdy oak frame. Guillaume had found his passion with suspension rope play, and hadn't mentored long with the club experts before striking out on his own. He was smart enough to keep his solo play here at the Zone, though, where he was under the watchful eyes of the staff.

  "He's having circulation issues in his right hand, and he's too deep to notice."

  Guillaume rose. "There shouldn't be anything pinching him. I tied it--"

  "When you worked him up earlier, this section probably tightened as he was squirming." Marius stepped closer to Tawn, the tied sub, and gestured. "See here." He guided Guillaume to grip Tawn's hand. "Feel how cold it is?"

  Guillaume paled under his bisque coloring. "Shit."

  "It's okay. He's not in danger yet. Skin color's still decent, though remember you have to keep a closer eye when your bottom's not Caucasian. Just fix the problem and massage the hand and arm, get the circulation going. Or, since you've already gotten him off and sent him flying, might be a good time to end the session." Marius gave Guillaume a dry smile. "Do aftercare and then let him have the chance to suck his Master off to show his gratitude for giving him such a good time."

  "Yeah." Guillaume was busy loosening the ropes, murmuring to Tawn, holding onto him. The sub's head tilted back, lips parted. Even without seeing his eyes, Marius knew they would show a subspace haze. Tawn was a dedicated rope bunny. All a Dom had to do was twitch some twine in his direction and he'd practically zone out then and there. Fortunately, the twitch of his fingers was what had caught Marius's attention. The unconscious mind had a way of staying on guard even when the rest of the brain was too fuzzy to compute danger. Until it was too late.

  That wasn't the case here, and Marius was no longer needed. Easing back, he left Guillaume to handle his shit. As he crossed the room to Noah, he saw Regina watching him again. Though she was listening to Mistress Lisette, her eyes were on Marius.

  He slowed under her regard. What would happen if he went and knelt at her feet? Asked if he could stay awhile, do anything for her? He could just sit, let her decide if there was more she might want from him. Maybe she'd put her hand on his shoulder and throat like she had before, that touch that sent him into a place that was similar but different, quieter but no less intense, than the subspace that Tawn was experiencing now.

  What did he want from her? He didn't know, but a strong part of him wanted to find out. Noah was right, but being right didn't mean pursuing it was the best option.

  Her gaze flickered, her lips parted. Fuck, it was an invitation. After all this time, when their schedules had never meshed, or she hadn't been approachable, or he'd talked himself out of it, maybe tonight...

  "Marius."

  Noah was waving at him, getting his attention. When he had it, he pointed toward the bar. Alex was working behind it, and he lifted the phone, telling Marius he had a call. He'd forgotten he'd left this as one of his backup numbers, because so often his cell was in a locker, or his car. He didn't really
like carrying one. But he wished now he'd never given that number out, because his sense of sanctuary crumbled.

  As he moved toward the bar, his gaze flickered up to the TV they kept on mute for people in the bar area who'd come to socialize rather than play. It was on the news, and the headlining story told him what that call would be about.

  What were the chances they'd be on the right channel, at the right moment for him to see that shit? Right when the damn phone call came through? If there was any kind of sign in this bullshit world, it seemed like that was one.

  He felt like he was in one of those video games where, when the player was killed, a gray pall came down on the landscape. Everything that was vibrant became dreary and lifeless. He found himself trying to draw in air, as if it was being sucked out of his world with the color.

  Why did it fucking matter? It had been coming for months, right? He struggled to get past the gray, and he couldn't. It was like being struck blind, only he'd been struck color-blind, everything leached away, so it was an effort just to walk to the bar. He picked up the phone, spoke a word he didn't remember. Listened. Hung up.

  He didn't remember going down to the locker room and putting on his street clothes. He didn't remember coming back and seeing the blushing submissive waiting by the door, hoping to catch his eye. He closed his hand on hers, tugging her out the door with him. He wouldn't remember that later either, or fucking her in her car like a crazed demon, trying to lift that gray pall. It didn't work.

  The only thing he would remember was seeing Regina for one more brief second. When he emerged from the locker room, she was at the bar. As her eyes turned to his, he was going to fall in, get lost and do the wrong thing. He couldn't do the wrong thing with her. She pushed inside him too far. He wouldn't let himself hurt her.

  The cute sub wasn't in danger. She didn't watch him the way Regina did. He needed to get out of here. Get out of his head. Give his dick a workout, and she'd do.

  If that didn't help, he knew one other way. He'd heard somewhere that blood was gray until it hit the open air. Fucking poetic. He was ready to liberate some blood. His own or someone else's; it really didn't matter.

  Fighting was the only thing that was going to bring back the color. Even if the only color it brought was red.

  Chapter One

  Eight months later

  "You're smirking at me? You want me to break you, you goddamn asshole? Is that it?"

  He started to laugh at her, the muscular man built like a gladiator. He was chained, his arms above his head, yet his laughter snapped something, forcing her into a place where she was the one without control. Her white-knuckled grip on the whip only drove the rage. She wanted to make him bleed, make him scream with the kind of pain that brought bowel-loosening fear, not pleasure. "You piece of shit, you arrogant, adolescent--"

  In some tiny corner of her mind, the Mistress knew she should have ended this forty-five minutes ago. It had stopped being fun, it had gone over a line, and he'd dragged her past it, into this place with him. Somehow, he'd known where to press every trigger she had.

  The thought increased her fury and she cranked the chains, yanking him off the ground. His feet dangled, his weight suspended brutally by his arms. It ended the laughter. If she kept him in the position long enough, his shoulders would dislocate. His muscles had to be screaming in agony already.

  The snap of the dragon tail caught him mid-body, then lashed at his testicles. The blows wrested grunts from his throat, and his strong form writhed like a snake speared by a hook. Yet the light of challenge didn't die in his far-too-steady gaze. He was still sneering at her, the son of a bitch.

  "Use it," she snarled. "Use it."

  "You use it," he said in a soft voice. Almost pitying. That, and the contempt beneath it, dug into her like barbed claws. In a calmer moment, she might realize the infuriating pity was sincere, but the contempt was a goading tactic.

  She was far from calm, however. Logic would return when she found herself again, the Domme she normally was. Not this Hyde-like monster he'd yanked out of her soul, twisting her mind and heart as if he were Lucifer in the desert, bringing out the worst and darkest parts of herself she'd never wanted to know were there.

  Even while bound and seemingly helpless, a predator could take down a victim. She hadn't known that. She was destroying everything she cherished about herself, and he was reveling in watching her bleed. She hated him. She was going to make him suffer, goddamn it. If she was being dragged into hell, he was going with her.

  Regina propped a booted foot on the lowest rung of the chair in front of her and sipped her drink. She had the tables in this section of the mezzanine to herself. On a weeknight, it was a quiet, less popular spot at The Zone, backed up to the executive offices and not as close to the public play areas.

  She'd come ready to play, clad in latex from hip to ankle and calf boots. A sheer black shirt in a flowing fabric was held in place over her black bra by nothing more than a couple of buttons. Her lovingly cultivated locs, grown down past her shoulder blades, were loose, with a bit of corkscrew curl to them. The shimmer of the auburn highlights amid the black was accentuated with a scattering of sparkling silver and red beads.

  She looked like a Mistress ready to kick and cherish some fine sub's ass. Once she'd hit the floor, though, nothing had grabbed her. Some nights were like that. She'd removed herself from the anticipatory gazes of unattached male submissives and come here. Many of them had been pleasant playmates on other nights, but right now she wanted to experience the club like the beach. By closing her eyes and absorbing it through all her senses, rather than actively seeking the waters.

  It put her in a position to witness some club drama. She opened her eyes as Alex, one of the Dungeon Masters on duty, took the stairs to the mezzanine three at a time and put his head and broad upper torso into the open door of the floor manager's office. "Terry, we've got a problem in Room 7. I need backup to end it now, or he's going to do her real damage."

  "Goddamn it." Along with the expletive, Regina heard a chair roll back and Terry emerged. The rangy woman with a blonde bob shrugged out of the fuzzy lavender cardigan she wore over her corset, snug jeans and stilettos. Regina was sure it kept her warm while she was sitting at her desk. Lower temps were a necessity in a club that generated a lot of body heat, particularly in the playrooms, public dungeon and on the dance floor, which even at this muffled distance was sending pumping bass through the table surface beneath Regina's fingertips.

  "If you're calling for reinforcements, we're already too late on the damage part," Terry added in a clipped tone.

  "Nobody has safe worded," Alex said. "And it's...well, fuck."

  "Never mind." Terry brushed his shoulder with her own as she passed him, giving the long black braid down his back a tug. "It's not your fault. We both know what the problem is. Or who," she added darkly. "Let's go shut him down."

  All Regina had to hear was a woman was in danger, and she was on her feet, following in their urgent wake. She wasn't staff, but she was a volunteer DM and gold star member of The Zone. The safety of a sub was everyone's responsibility. She wouldn't get in the way, but she'd be there to help. If Alex needed to contain an asshole, Regina had three years of past experience as a correctional officer to lend him a hand. Or they might require a skilled Domme to help calm and care for the sub.

  It pissed her off, thinking a Dom had let things get out of hand and wasn't caring for his bottom. But it was an unusual occurrence at The Zone, which vetted its members carefully and had a diligent monitoring staff, so her curiosity was roused. Alex was a competent and experienced DM. What kind of situation could have escalated so far, and in such a way, that he'd called on Terry rather than defuse it himself?

  Alex had left backup outside Room 7. The hallway was quiet, the open doors and dark interiors of most of the private rooms suggesting the bulk of tonight's play was happening in the public areas. Otis offered a short nod, arms crossed over his beefy chest. His n
eck was permanently brick red. While it was thanks to his fondness for fishing the Florida Gulf with no sunscreen, he claimed it showed Southern redneck was permanently baked into him.

  "Still hasn't safe worded," he grumbled. "Was about to go in anyway, fuck it all. She's crying."

  "I'm making the call. We're going," Terry said, and punched in a master code. "Head back to the main floor and keep an eye on things there with Georgia, Otis. Regina will be here with me for additional backup."

  She tossed a glance over her shoulder, telling Regina she'd been aware of her presence. Regina wasn't surprised. Terry didn't miss much. She was a submissive herself in her off time, but Regina was sure that helped relieve the stress of her highly detail-oriented day job, that of a prosecutor with the Tampa DA's office.

  Regina hung back until they entered, then she closed the distance. Terry immediately issued a clipped order to stop the session, but Regina saw it was protocol only, like the police identifying themselves to a perp who'd already given up.

  Siren was collapsed in a corner of the room on a chair. She was trembling, her face rigid as if she was about to start screaming through stiff lips.

  The situation wasn't what Regina had assumed, but when she saw who the sub was, it wasn't a surprise. It also hit her hard in the lower belly.

  Goddamn Marius.

  Marius's reputation at The Zone had been going downhill over the past months. Most Mistresses didn't even bother with him anymore, but when they did, the highest rating he earned was "frustrating-as-fuck." Topping from the bottom, an incorrigible brat, a misclassified Dom, a sub caught in the nebulous world of not wanting to be a Dom, but way too controlling to be a top. She'd heard all the speculations, and had wondered if he was an amalgamation of all of that. Plus one more, added by her good friend Lyda.

  "He's become a total asshole," the Mistress had said bluntly.

  Regina didn't disagree with the assessment, but the changes he'd displayed since the night she'd done a demo scene with him hadn't been able to completely erase the impact he'd made upon her that night. They had kept her in observation mode ever since, though. No matter how fascinating she found a question with no ready answer, she wasn't going to commit herself until she was sure he was worth her time. That he had the potential to be more than an asshole.