Truly helpless, p.5
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       Truly Helpless, p.5
 

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

  But it wasn't just practicality and skill that had taken him there. He'd learned to believe in signs. While he wasn't converting to crystals and rainbow aromatherapy anytime soon, he couldn't ignore the connection between Regina and Marius the tapes showed.

  A knock on his door brought him out of his musings. Alex put his head through the opening. "Ready for them, sir?"

  Tyler closed the two files. "Did she agree to come?"

  At Alex's nod, Tyler pursed his lips. Another sign. "Good. Bring them in together."

  Tyler noticed Marius sauntered in ahead of Regina, deliberately stepping in front of her before Alex could stop him. Interesting. Even at his worst, Marius always played the gentleman, at least in the predictable ways. Regina's russet eyes flashed, but her lips tightened against what Tyler suspected was a grim smile.

  Rising, Tyler gestured to a chair. "Please sit down, Lady Regina." He cut his attention to Marius, deliberately evaluating him from head to toe in the revealing shorts. Tyler was straight, and so was Marius. However, since The Zone had a higher percentage of gay males than the norm for a mixed orientation club, Marius handled his fair share of offers. As a result, he didn't have hang-ups about being under male perusal. Usually. Being called to task nearly naked before a male Dom who was about to chastise him clearly didn't please him.

  "You stand," Tyler said sharply, and got right to it. "How many warnings have I given you about this shit?"

  "It isn't my fault if a Mistress bites off more than she can chew."

  Oh yeah, the man was worked up, emanating a hot-blooded stress even through a sullen mask. Tyler noted a slight tension in Regina's hand, resting on the chair arm. Her eyes were on Marius, watching him with the unwavering focus of a Domme who knew he needed some type of grounding.

  Well, he was going to have to do without. Sitting down, Tyler leveled a cold gaze on Marius he knew was effective, since Alex and Regina responded to it by going more still. Even Marius looked as if he knew he should step down on the attitude.

  "Was that my fucking question?" Tyler asked pleasantly.

  "No. No, sir." Marius might have pulled off the honorific if not for the biting edge. Regina crossed her long, beautiful latex-clad legs, her manicured nails tapping the chair arm in a meditative manner. She was absorbing him like a sponge, Tyler realized. Which was what an experienced Domme did when she'd decided she was very interested in something. In someone.

  "Then answer it," Tyler continued. "I wouldn't suggest you ask me to repeat the question."

  "Yes. I've been warned three times." Marius's tone went wooden, his eyes flat and focused on the wall above Tyler's head. He was bracing for impact. A wise decision, since it was coming.

  "Thank you. That's it, then. Your membership is terminated, effective immediately."

  Marius stiffened. "I work the floor tomorrow night--"

  "No, you don't. Your employment is likewise terminated. You've alienated your last Mistress in this club. Tonight you crossed the line into abusing one."

  Marius's gaze snapped to Tyler. "I didn't touch her."

  Tyler leaned forward, pinning him with a dangerous look. "Abuse doesn't come only from a fist."

  Marius's face went white. For an instant, Tyler saw a dark flatness in his gaze that reminded him of a suicide bomber he'd interrogated.

  Forget it. Damaged or not, angel, he's done. Yet a tone of desperation entered Marius's voice Tyler couldn't ignore.

  "There's nothing in the session between me and Siren to show me at fault."

  "Everything in that video shows you at fault." Tyler's voice cut across his, slashing steel. "This isn't a democracy or a court of law. It's a benevolent dictatorship, and you are not in control."

  Tyler leaned back again as a weighted silence descended on the room. Regina's eyes met his. Her face was impassive, revealing nothing, but the lock of her gaze was a message itself. He bit back a sigh.

  I don't like this. If she gets hurt...

  It is her choice to make. Give her the opportunity. Good Goddess, Tyler, she was a C.O. at a maximum-security prison. Who conducted The Zone workshop on physical takedowns? She did.

  A man knew he was irrevocably married when he could conjure full conversations in his head with his wife, even when she wasn't present.

  "Your membership termination may not be permanent."

  With that statement, Tyler shifted back to Marius, capturing a flash of surprise among the resentment. "It's incontestable for three months. After which time, Lady Regina may re-apply on your behalf. You may not approach her about that. It is wholly her decision if she wishes to work with you."

  He'd startled Marius, no question. The man's regard bounced fully to the Mistress. Even Alex looked startled, and like he thought his boss might have lost his mind. Alex had a special fondness for Siren. He probably would have led the group to beat Marius into unconsciousness behind the building.

  The only one who didn't look shocked was Regina. Tyler gave the Mistress credit for aplomb. Except for a slight twitch of her facial muscles, she didn't give anything away, even though he'd sprung that on her at the same time he had Marius. But he'd phrased it the way it was meant. She could pick up the gauntlet or not, but regardless, she was Marius's last chance here. If she was as interested as Tyler suspected she was, and if the membership meant anything to Marius, Tyler had given him a reason to respond to the Mistress's attention. If not, or Regina wasn't interested, or decided it wasn't worth it, then that was the end of that.

  His angel's words counted for a great deal, but she was as much Mistress as he was Master. If you led a sub to water, held his head under to the point of near drowning, and he still wouldn't drink, well... Free will meant the right to throw your life away.

  Case in point. Marius's eyes smoked over like a hot ash fire.

  "Fuck all of you," he said.

  He pivoted, shouldered roughly past Alex and left the office. Pursing her lips, Regina raised a silken brow. "Did that go as well as you'd hoped?" she asked Tyler.

  "As expected," he said, with a sigh. He nodded to Alex. "Give him breathing room, but make sure he gets his locker cleaned out and reaches the parking lot without causing any more trouble. Or incurring any."

  "Yes, sir." Alex's tone was stiff. Tyler sharpened his glance upon him.

  "Something you want to say?"

  "I wouldn't want any woman I care about near him," Alex said. "No disrespect, Mr. Winterman, but I don't think I'd have put that option out there."

  "None taken. I'm questioning it myself, which is why I'd like Lady Regina to stay a few moments, so we can discuss some additional things. Thank you, Alex."

  It was a firm dismissal. Alex acknowledged it with a troubled look and disappeared.

  "I'm surprised he didn't charge into the room without Terry," Tyler observed. "It speaks to his professionalism, that he followed procedure despite his feelings for Siren."

  "Alex is a good man." Regina studied him. "Did you just throw me to the wolves, Tyler Winterman?"

  "No." He smiled at her patented don't-bullshit-me-boy look. Considering the circumstances, it injected him with an extra dose of reassurance. "I listened to my wife's advice, rather than my protective instincts, and gave you the key to his cage. It's up to you whether to unlock it or not." Pushing his chair back, he put an ankle on his knee. "I'll support your decision a hundred percent. At this point, his behavior doesn't require my advocacy or loyalty."

  "Yet your sense of fairness, and how long you've known him, is providing a chance for fate to intervene."

  Tyler cocked his head. "The intuition of a beautiful Domme is a scary thing."

  "I'd say the same about a handsome one like yourself. You could have given that key to any Domme in this club. There are reasons you chose me."

  "There are." He templed his fingers. "You've had him on your radar for some time. I'd like to hear your assessment."

  Regina uncrossed her long legs and hooked them at the ankles, lacing her fingers over her flat st
omach. "You have a lot of spies in this club. It could make a paranoid person nervous."

  "I have a lot of people watching out for the welfare of everyone here, including you," he corrected. "And we live up to the reputation, which is why so many sign the waiver accepting that we maintain cameras in all club areas. It ended up being a fortunate decision tonight."

  "Yes, it did." She sobered. "My opinion is still forming. But my current take is he has a touch of meanness and rebellion under a mountain of pissed off. The whole package is coated in melt-your-panties bad boy charm, with a wicked sense of humor that can turn around and cut to the quick in a blink. It all comes with a huge shoulder chip on the side."

  When offering her opinion, Regina didn't pull any punches, and her flair for words provided a picture clear as a photograph. Tyler sighed and ran a hand over his face. "Marguerite deduced much the same. My concern is the escalation of the meanness. He may be unstable."

  "He is unstable." She confirmed it with quiet frankness, surprising him. "Before tonight, I wasn't certain enough of that to bring it to your attention. It could have been chance, him and Siren coming together. Most of the Mistresses have lost interest in him and maybe he was jonesing for a sub fix. But I think whatever is broken inside him sent him after her deliberately tonight, knowing she had the right chinks in her armor. We all know she's still new enough to this she gets wound a little tight in session. She was a Mistress who had the right weaknesses he could exploit to a dangerous level. Siren was his prey from the moment they stepped into that room."

  His jaw tightened. "So that's that, then. He's out of here."

  "In his current state? Oh yeah. He's nowhere near the proper headspace to be playing at The Zone. That was the right call."

  "So that means you won't be pursuing his re-application."

  "Not necessarily." At his sharp, surprised glance, she shrugged. "Jury's out on that. The problem is, there's something else inside him. Something real. It's the bait that's lured too many Dommes into his traps. Fortunately, most of them got out before they reached the point Siren did. They didn't feel he was worth the aggravation."

  A smile touched her lips. "I can't say I blame them. A normal sub, a normal man, is a lot of work to train properly. Marius has walked deep into no-go territory and fortressed himself there with quicksand and mud bogs. Somebody's going to have a real workout to get to him."

  She stretched in the chair, a relaxed move, twisting her hair into a knot on top of her head and then letting it fall again as she re-crossed her legs. "Stop imagining me mud wrestling with your wife," she added.

  Tyler chuckled. "It was Lyda. You two are a better physical match."

  "I could take her." Regina sniffed. "She may be Selene in Underworld, but I'm Black Xena."

  "Thanks for giving me more fantasy material."

  Regina laughed then, a throaty sound that could inspire plenty of fantasies alone. Tyler's real life desires only involved his wife. However, since Marguerite on occasion had sessions with young, muscular submissives in this very club--though always under his supervision or observation--sharing his fantasies with her about other Dommes and subs he had no intention of touching helped balance things. And added an additional spice to their already flavorful sexual intimacy.

  "So if he's too much trouble for most Dommes, why would you want to go after him?" he asked.

  "Hmm." Her expression darkened, her long fingernails unconsciously stroking the chair arm as if it were a man's. "Just a feeling I can't ignore. If I can get us both through that bog, I think he's the kind of sub who will be waiting with a towel and a bubble bath. One who has a hunger to serve a woman with everything he's got. If it's there, it's built up in him a long time, untapped. He's Sleeping Beauty caught in a nightmare until the right Domme zaps his ass awake."

  "Now I've moved right into lesbian sex fantasies about Sleeping Beauty and her evil stepmother." Tyler enjoyed another cock-teasing dose of Regina's laughter, but then all humor dropped from his expression, leaving only his concern for her.

  "What's to keep you from being sucked into the nightmare? I care about you, Regina. So do Marguerite and many people here. It worries me, the door I've opened for you."

  "That door has been there for me to open for months. I'm a big girl, Tyler." Her gaze slid down her long form. She was large-boned, elegantly made and as feminine and intimidating as a warrior goddess, a Black Xena in truth. "Bigger than most. What you've done is set it up so I don't have to chase him. If I initiate, from that point onward, he has to work with me. Which gives me a foot in the door, if he truly wants to get back into The Zone."

  She rose. "My choice. My decision. Your conscience can rest easy on that."

  "If it was only my conscience I had to appease." Leaving the chair, he came around the desk to emphasize his final point. "Watch your ass, Mistress. And know I'm here to help with that. You don't reach out to me and I find out you needed to do so, I'll be a mountain of pissed-off myself. I'm not as easy to handle as a male sub."

  She chuckled. "Don't let a male sub hear you say that. It's a vast misconception that their testosterone poisoning is less than that of an overprotective Dom."

  "Don't I know it." Tyler snorted. "I work out at the same gym with Mac Nighthorse. Still can't believe the man has never taken steroids."

  "Oh, no. That is 100%, Grade A, organic beefcake." She flashed a wicked smile. "Violet is well aware of my lust, so I'm not telling you anything Tinkerbell doesn't already know."

  "Except that you called her Tinkerbell, which we all know gets her hackles up."

  "She's so cute. I just want to stick her on my dash with my Daenerys Game of Thrones bobble-head." Sobering, Regina touched Tyler's arm. "Your concern is noted and appreciated, Tyler. I'm not only a big girl, but a smart woman, too. You know my background. I won't get in over my head. But if I did, you'd be the first I'd call. I promise. If you don't mind, email me his contact info. Phone, email address. That way, when I decide what I want to do, I'll have what I need at my fingertips."

  When he agreed, she took her leave after a few more pleasantries. Tyler noted her step was smooth but bore a touch of urgency. She was already hatching a plan.

  Sitting back down at the desk, he rubbed his temples. Yes, she was a smart woman. A fearless one, the kind of Mistress who would get in over her head if she thought the risk was worth the reward. He was married to one of those. And she would claim he had plenty of that reward-worth-the-risk mentality himself.

  It was that way sometimes, for Master or Mistress.

  It wouldn't stop him from worrying. Or from keeping as close an eye on the situation as his "network of spies" allowed.

  Regina changed out her sheer blouse for a silk blue tunic over the latex leggings. Still a sexy outfit, but more street-appropriate. She wasn't sure if she'd beat Marius out of the building, but when she emerged, she saw his car was still there and it was empty. Good.

  He drove a blue Honda Civic with a few minor dents in it, to be expected since it was an older model. One of the doors had been replaced, probably through junk yard parts, since it was a different kind of blue from the rest of the vehicle body. When she passed the car on the way to her own vehicle, she glanced inside, surprised to see the interior was pristine. From its aged appearance, she would have expected discarded fast food bags or soda cans, old crumbs and dirt on the carpets, receipt scraps. Though the upholstery was worn, duct tape neatly mended a couple rips.

  He took care of his car, which meant he had a regard for his possessions, no matter the age or condition. Perhaps because he didn't have a lot of money to spend on repairs or getting new things. But she'd seen plenty of poor people with junk cars and rusted bikes in the yard, or trash and old furniture piled on the bowed and rotting floor boards of the front porch. He was an interesting mix of puzzle pieces. Would she want the finished picture, after she assembled it? Would there be vital pieces missing?

  His employment at The Zone explained how he afforded the pricey membership
, since employees received a deep discount after their first full year. Before that, they could offer themselves as a sub or Dom loaner if a customer was interested, but otherwise they had no membership privileges.

  She moved to her Mercedes, a few rows over but fortunately parked in a position that allowed a line of sight on his vehicle. While she had no intention of talking to him in the parking lot, she would take her current advantage to gather intel.

  With time to kill, she reviewed what prep work she wanted to do before she decided to initiate. If the other Mistress was up to it, she'd talk to Siren about what had gone down, at a neutral place like a coffee shop. Though he'd given her quite a bit of info, she didn't expect Tyler would allow her to watch the tape.

  That thought made her think of Marius in Tyler's office, the energy pouring off him explosive as a stick of dynamite. Fuck all of you.

  "Yeah, baby, it pissed you off, didn't it?" Regina spoke softly inside the silence of her darkened car. "You don't like being handled. Or depending on someone else for the things you want. Yet you want to be a sub. It's like an oil coating all those fine muscles, head to toe, inside and out. Can't figure it out, can you? And the longer it's gone on, the meaner it's made you. You're just about on the ruined side of it. Are you worth bringing back?"

  If she was being honest with herself--and she always was--becoming involved in this decision was secondary to her interest in the man and seeing where that would take her. The rest would resolve itself. She didn't stress over his fate at The Zone. She was a fair, even-handed Domme, mindful of the right frame of mind needed to deserve the privilege of playing at a place like it. He'd either work that shit out with her enough to prove he belonged there, or not.

  She settled into her seat, pushing it back to give her more relaxed leg room. Her Mercedes was as old as Marius's Civic, but in far better exterior condition. She'd bought it after she'd graduated Georgia Tech with honors and landed her first engineering job with a salary that allowed the indulgence. She'd lovingly cared for it ever since. No reason to get rid of something that had served her so well for so long, and was still doing the job.

  There he is. She remained motionless as he emerged from the club. He might know where her car was, but at nighttime, she shouldn't be noticed. Though if he saw her, she'd use whatever openings that turn of events gave her. She wasn't hiding.