Claire Thompson

Price: $5.99

Dane is reigning king in the Austin BDSM scene. Nathan sees beyond Dane's swaggering persona to the hidden submissive beneath. Can Nathan convince Dane of his place at his feet? As the two come together, the sexual sparks fly. It's only a matter of time before a spark catches and bursts into flame.
PUBLISHED BY: ManLove Romance Press
CATEGORIES: ManLove, BDSM, Romantic Fiction



COPYRIGHT Claire Thompson/2008
"Gin and tonic. Extra lime." The bartender, a tall, narrow-shouldered man with blond, receding hair and a rather spectacular curling mustache, nodded with pursed lips, as if he disapproved of Dane's choice of drink or maybe just of Dane himself. Dane was dressed for the evening, wearing his standard black leather pants and boots and a black silk shirt, de rigueur for Doms at the BDSM club to which he was heading. While waiting for his drink, Dane glanced around the dimly lit room of The Iguana, a small bar located in Austin's downtown warehouse district. He'd never been in this particular bar before, and indeed had only recently become aware of its existence, courtesy of a friend who made it a point to scope out every gay haunt in town. The bar wasn't strictly gay, but it was gay-friendly and it was close to Boot Camp, his ultimate destination. His gaze landed on an older man with silver hair and the bulbous red-veined nose of a heavy drinker. The man smiled broadly, revealing large, white teeth that probably cost him a fortune. Dane nodded in acknowledgment, though he didn't return the smile. I see you, but I'm not interested. The bartender placed his drink before him. Dane lifted the thick wedge of lime from the edge of the glass and squeezed the juice into it, watching it fizz. He dropped the lime into the glass and took a long, satisfying drink. The wall behind the bar was mirrored, which made the room look larger than it was and gave patrons seated at the bar the advantage of seeing who was behind them. For some reason, something compelled Dane to look up at precisely the moment the man came in the door. He experienced a sudden sense of recognition, though he would have sworn he'd never seen this particular man before. He was of medium height and build, his hair dark and hanging in a loose shiny wave to his shoulders. His eyes were dark too, gleaming against pale skin. Several days' worth of stubble etched the pale skin from his cheekbones to his throat. The guy looked like a college student from a distance. He was wearing a faded T-shirt with a small tear at the neckline. When Dane swiveled slowly on his stool, he saw the guy was wearing old blue jeans covered in grayish dust, a hole in one knee. Their eyes met and Dane felt an actual tug in his gut, as if someone had reached inside and yanked. The man had a hawk-like nose, prominent in a long, narrow face. His lips were red against his pale skin and dark shadow of a beard. He was compelling to look at - not precisely handsome, yet there was a power in his face that drew Dane to him, capturing him with its quiet strength. He held Dane's gaze, his expression calm, even knowing. Dane was the first to look away. He swiveled his stool back toward the bar and drained his glass. His cock was bent uncomfortably in his pants, having risen of its own volition at the sight of the stranger. He raised his glass toward the bartender, who glided toward him to refill it. In the mirror he could see the man moving toward him. He waited, not breathing as he watched to see if the man would sit near him. He had no idea if he was gay or straight, or anything else about him. All he knew was he wanted him to sit beside him. As a rule, Dane gravitated toward clean-cut young men like himself who could pass as straight and vanilla, with no piercings, tattoos or slave collars to give them away. This guy was probably a bum - a high school dropout who worked in construction and couldn't even be bothered to change his pants before heading out. Whatever strange attraction he felt for the guy would no doubt be dispelled the moment he opened his mouth and drawled, "Howdy, ya'll." The man sat two stools down from Dane. He signaled to the bartender, who approached him with a broad smile. "Nathan, you're back. When did you get in?" "Good to see you, Martin. I just got back last night." "You're probably still jetlagged. You want a beer?" "That'd be great. A Guinness. Oh, and maybe a burger? I kind of forgot to eat today." The man, whom Dane could now identify as Nathan, gave a sheepish grin. His voice was deep and rich, fuller than Dane would have expected. The accent rolled with a charming Southern cadence. The bartender laughed indulgently. Dane could hardly believe this was the same tight-lipped, disapproving man who had served him a moment before. "When you get to working, you just shut out the entire world, don't you? Sarah says we're going to find you one day passed out on the floor from starvation in front of one of those paintings or sculptures of yours." An artist. Well, that was intriguing. Though the term was probably loosely applied to someone trying to make it as an artist someday. Dane turned back to his drink. He glanced at his watch. He should probably pay his tab and leave. There were plenty of eager sub boys waiting for his attentions at Boot Camp. He found he didn't want to go - not yet. He tried to think of various casual, friendly ways to start a conversation, but found his tongue curiously tied. Say something. He tried sending a telepathic message - Look this way so I can smile at you. As if he received the message, Nathan chose that precise moment to turn toward Dane. For a second Dane worried he'd spoken aloud. "Excuse me, but have we met?" Was this merely the overt southern friendliness Dane had yet to accustom himself to, or was Nathan hitting on him? "No." I would have remembered. He smiled in what he hoped was a nonchalant way. "But it's nice to meet you now. I'm Dane. Dane Bishop." Leaning toward him, Nathan reached out to shake his hand. He wore a gold ring on the third finger of his left hand with some kind of insignia on it. It looked heavy and expensive, not in keeping with the rest of his bedraggled appearance. "Nathan Levi, at your service." Nathan inclined his head, smiling to show small, even white teeth. Nathan slipped off his stool and moved to the empty one beside Dane. He tilted his head, as if measuring the dimensions of Dane's face. "There's something familiar about you. I don't quite know what it is." The bartender distracted them by setting a large mug of dark beer in front of Nathan. Nathan lifted the mug and drank deeply. The bartender told him his food would be ready shortly. Dane waited impatiently to resume their fledgling conversation. He liked the sound of Nathan's voice. It was a warm voice, the tone rich like dark rum, smooth and strong. Again, he wondered if it were merely a pickup line, or did Nathan share the peculiar sense of recognition Dane had experienced when their eyes had locked? Dane knew he'd never seen the man before, but the recognition he felt was for something deeper than a passing acquaintance. Though he knew it didn't make sense, it was almost as if a connection had been forged between them the moment Nathan had entered the bar, something that skipped over details like time and place, vaulting directly to the soul. What the hell was going on inside his head? Dane wasn't given to these ridiculous poetic turns of mind. Maybe that drink was stronger than he'd realized. The bartender finally stepped away to help someone else. Nathan turned toward Dane and picked up the thread of their dropped conversation. "Maybe you just look like someone I used to know. Or maybe I've seen you in passing. For a big city, Austin can be a pretty small town." "Yes, that must be it," Dane agreed, though he knew it wasn't true. He would have remembered that face, those burning dark eyes, those lush red lips. Jesus, he needed to cut it out. For all he knew, the guy was straight. Why not find out now and save a lot of heartache later? He cut to the chase. "I was just on my way to Boot Camp. You know the club?" Into the scene or not, he'd yet to meet a gay guy in Austin who didn't know of the club, or at least its reputation as the hottest, and most exclusive, gay BDSM club in Texas. If he was met with a blank stare, he'd pay his tab and hit the road. "I've heard of it." Nathan smiled and glanced down at Dane's leather pants. "I guess you're dressed for it." Dane looked down at his very expensive leather pants, which probably cost more than Nathan earned in a week. He was decidedly overdressed compared to Nathan's faded, ripped jeans and T-shirt. Still, Nathan's response proved he knew what Boot Camp was. Which didn't necessarily make him gay, but at least it didn't rule it out. "I suppose I've given myself away with my uniform." Dane admitted. "You ever been there? It can be quite a spectacle, especially to the uninitiated." "No. It's not really my scene." Dane's head swarmed with questions. Excitement hurtled up through his gut. What did Nathan mean, it wasn't his scene? Did that mean he wasn't into BDSM per se, or just that he didn't go for the public scene, or that he wasn't gay? "I'd love to take you sometime. You could come as my guest. The scenes can be very intense, but it's all consensual. Like I said, I'm going tonight. I just stopped here for a drink. I've been meaning to check this place out for a while now." The ball was in Nathan's court. He could toss it back with a "Yes, I'd love to go with a complete stranger to a BDSM club," or the far more likely, "Thanks, but no thanks." What he actually said was, "So, if it's not too personal, how long have you been submissive, Dane?" * * * * * Nathan watched with amusement as Dane sputtered into his drink. He'd pegged the guy from the moment he noticed him sitting at the bar - the short, glossy burnished hair, trimmed close along his neck and ears, longish on top so he could brush it back for his corporate day job, or let it flop charmingly forward into his face when in the throes of passion. The S&M getup for his evening persona - the fine quality black leather pants that looked so soft they might melt if you touched them, the sexy black boots, the tailored black silk shirt that molded to broad shoulders made broader by a rigorous workout program at the local gym. He probably went daily, maybe before he checked in at his office, dropping one of those movie-star perfect smiles on his lovesick secretary, allowing - even encouraging - her to believe he was straight and that maybe, just maybe, she had a shot in hell with him. Or perhaps he went after work, shucking the designer suits and ties Nathan imagined he wore in the corporate world. He could imagine him in a tight sleeveless T-shirt and biker shorts that molded over his sculpted ass and thighs, creating a picture so perfect it would make a grown man cry. Nathan was distracted from his thoughts as Martin arrived with his food. "I didn't ask for all that." Nathan laughed as his brother-in-law set a plate before him that held not only the requested burger, but a huge pile of French fries, a large pickle and a bowl of coleslaw. "Sarah's latest standing orders." Martin grinned apologetically and shrugged his shoulders. "Whenever you come in, I'm required to feed you a full meal." Nathan nodded, accepting defeat as he reached for the bottle of ketchup. His older sister, like his mother, had taken on the role of feeding him as if he were still a kid. They shared the view that everything could be cured or solved by a good substantial meal. Each always urged food on him, claiming he needed more meat on his bones. He didn't really mind. It was their way of showing they cared. Nathan took a bite of the burger, aware Dane was watching him. "Want some fries? How about some of this coleslaw? I'm never going to finish all this." Dane waved away the offer of food, a scowl on his face. "What gives you the idea I'm submissive?" Nathan wiped his mouth with his napkin and turned to face Dane. His nose was slightly crooked, which saved him from being labeled a pretty boy. His eyes were blue, the color a startling contrast to his chestnut and copper hair and ruddy, tan skin. Nathan couldn't help the litany of adjectives that ran through his mind as he tried to decide the precise shade of blue - azure, beryl, cerulean, cobalt, indigo, navy... He settled on cerulean, the dark blue of a clear winter's day, more arresting than the paler azure of spring. Dane was waiting for a response. Nathan realized he'd literally lost himself in those beautiful, clear blue eyes. "I take it you don't consider yourself such?" Dane laughed, but his expression was annoyed. "The opposite. I take what I want. You'll find I have quite a reputation at Boot Camp. I have no interest in submitting to another man. None whatsoever." Nathan eyed him, sweeping his gaze over the tall, sexy man. His bearing was confident, his attitude at the moment almost belligerent. Shakespeare's words about protesting too much slipped into his mind, but Nathan only smiled. "My mistake. It was something in your eyes. Perhaps it was only my overactive imagination." "What do you mean? Are you saying you're Dom?" Dane's look of incredulity was so brazen it made Nathan laugh out loud. He looked down at himself, aware how he must appear in his clay-smeared clothing and sneakers, hardly the uniform of a serious player. Dane was probably used to looking for more obvious cues - black leather, boots, maybe a pair of handcuffs dangling from his belt hook. He shook his head. "I wouldn't call myself Dom. Or sub for that matter. I don't especially care for labels. I think they tend to limit you. In my experience, it's the rare person who is all one thing or all the other. It's not about dominance or submission per se - it's about connection. It's about who moves you, and in what way." Dane crossed his arms protectively over his chest, shaking his head. His smile was grim. "Maybe for the select few, but from my own personal experience, I would have to disagree. It's about hardwiring. My hardwiring dictates that I dominate others-sensually speaking. That I control their reactions, demand their obedience. A submissive, I mean a true submissive, not just a pain slut, is hardwired to accept, even to crave, my mastery over them, sexual and otherwise." Clearly warming to his topic, Dane continued, "It's like being gay, or left-handed. You're born that way. True, society may force you to deny your nature, or to stunt it by trying desperately to mold yourself to dictates that hold no meaning for you beyond blind conformity, but in the end, you are what you are. You can't change it just because you want to." Nathan nodded, impressed with the reasoning Dane brought to bear in his defense. Still, he couldn't help but muse, methinks the boy doth protest too much... He offered, "I don't disagree with you. I just think it's more complicated than that. I'm sure at Boot Camp you're quite the Dom, as you say. I'm guessing you derive enormous satisfaction from putting the so-called submissives there through their paces. No disrespect intended for that particular scene." Nathan lowered his voice and put his hand on Dane's arm. Their eyes met and he tumbled into the dark, clear blue of Dane's soul. He forced himself to look away so he could concentrate. "But it's not real." As Dane started to protest, Nathan pushed on. "What I mean to say is, in the end, that stuff at your club is a game. It's not about who you are, about what moves you, what matters. Granted, it might be a sexy game, but the rules are written out in advance, the sides are chosen and may the best man win." "Maybe it is just a game. But it can be more than that. I think it depends on the scene, on the people involved." Dane's face lit up. "I'm going there now. Why don't you come with me? I'll show you just what us ‘players' are up to. See what you think, then. If you're lucky, I might even choose you as my toy of the night." Nathan laughed and shook his head. It wasn't that he was immune to the erotic aspect of watching someone naked, perhaps suspended, whipped for the amusement of onlookers. It just wasn't something he himself would choose to engage in. It wasn't, to quote his mother, "his cup of tea." He thought of his studio, of the commissioned work he wasn't nearly done with, having been set back by his impulsive month-long trip to Italy to study with Maria Giovanni. It had been a huge honor to be invited to work with one of the premier sculptors of the day, but he'd taken too much time away from his obligations. Even if he was into the sort of group masturbation Dane was offering, he had work to do. Not only that, though he didn't deny the man was breathtakingly good-looking, he had to grudgingly admit to himself they couldn't be more mismatched. Dane Bishop had probably never been inside a museum. He probably couldn't tell a Van Gogh from a Chagall, a Rodin from a Michelangelo. He probably had a subscription to the Wall Street Journal and Golf Digest, and networked with the big boys in his accounting firm or law office or wherever in the corporate world he'd carved out a shallow, lucrative niche. Worse, he was a player who spent his spare time pretending to dominate men who pretended to submit. He walked the walk, wore the uniform, but lacked the soul. He lacked nuance, he missed the poetry of D/s, its potential romance. Nathan was used to being alone. He could work with his paints and charcoal, his clay and bronze, for hours, even days on end. Sometimes he was lonely, but it was better than selling himself short just for company and sex. Better to give this guy a miss, to say "nice to meet you, must be going, have a good life." He turned toward Dane, opening his mouth to refuse outright. Then he fell again into those cerulean eyes and found himself saying, "I can't tonight. But maybe another time?" * * * * * Three nearly naked men knelt before him, heads bowed, cocks erect, waiting for his decree. One of them drew his tongue in an exaggerated, suggestive way over the top of Dane's black, square-toed boot. Dane pursed his lips in disapproval. The boy was too forward. He would not be the one chosen. At the club, Dane was known for his intense, almost brutal scenes. He never ceased to be amazed that, no matter what he chose to mete out, there was always a willing, eager masochist desperate for his cruel attentions. Nathan Levi's pale face, those dark eyes that could burn holes through his soul, swam into his mind. Who the hell was that guy? What nerve to suggest Dane was submissive. He was probably just pulling Dane's chain, seeing if he could get a rise out of him. At the same time, he'd been disconcerted by Nathan's confident assumption. Though Dane had never admitted it to anyone, he occasionally fantasized that he was the one tied to the rack, his body taut and bound, the biting kiss of another's lash searing his skin. Not that he'd ever permit such a thing. No, Dane was born to control others, to dominate not only a scene, but every arena in which he moved. He was, quite simply, a natural leader. So he'd been told all his life, and he had no reason to dispute it. He'd advanced steadily in his banking career, moving from lending officer to assistant vice president to vice president. Now, at only twenty-nine, he was running his bank's Austin real estate lending department. The Austin real estate market was still thriving, despite the personal mortgage market woes, and he enjoyed the energy and enthusiasm of the place. His days were spent managing money, his nights managing submissive, masochistic men who hung on his every word and bowed before him as if he were a king. He had his pick of play partners at the clubs, and if he chose, sex partners for the night. It had been amazingly easy to talk to Nathan, though he was way off the mark about Dane's D/s orientation. If only he'd agreed to come with Dane to the club. He could have shown him firsthand just how dominant he really was. Maybe another time. Dane well knew that could be code for "never." He should have stayed at the bar and continued to talk to the enigmatic, interesting Nathan Levi. If only he hadn&apst let his ego get in the way. He'd been hurt at Nathan's refusal, and angry at himself for letting it matter, and so he'd left, alone. He looked down at the three men. A small crowd had gathered near him, waiting respectfully for him to make his selection and lead his charge to a whipping chamber for a public scene. He touched the shoulder of the man on the far left. The man looked up, his face blooming with surprised happiness. The blond one who had licked his boot looked up too, his face startled as well, but not smiling. Dane knew he had been expecting to be picked, as he was exponentially better looking than either of the other two guys, and no doubt used to capitalizing on those looks. But Dane didn't look for beauty for these scenes, or not exclusively at any rate. When he watched the submissive, masochistic men being shown by the auctioneer on the dais, he looked for other qualities, such as compliance when being examined, prodded and displayed for the audience, and grace when forced to hold uncomfortable, sometimes embarrassing positions under close scrutiny. The man he had chosen was about five foot, six inches tall, with dark skin, broad features in a wide face and a wiry, slender build. He was wearing a Y-harness of thin black leather across his chest, the tail of the Y attached to a ring at the base of his cock, which, unlike the rest of him, was quite large. On his back was a small canvas backpack that no doubt held his personal sex toys. He stood, his head bowed and whispered, "Thank you, Sir." "We'll see if you still thank me when it's over." He led the man through the crowd toward his favored whipping chamber, which had been reserved for him as usual. Men standing in groups of two and three parted like water as he passed through. As they headed toward the chamber, they picked up an increasingly large group of followers eager to watch the session. "Master Dane has picked someone." "Dane's going to scene - let's go watch." The men murmured and called softly to each other as he passed. Dane's boredom was sloughing itself off as he walked, pushed aside by the sexual energy of the men around him, men eager for the show he was going to give them. "What are you called?" Dane asked the young man. "Pony boy, Sir." The chamber was already crowded with men, Doms and subs alike, though they stood at a respectful distance. The room was outfitted with a whipping post, a padded sawhorse with chains and cuffs attached to the legs, a set of stocks and the usual selection of rope, whips, crops and floggers. Pony boy had admitted during his public interview on the dais, while blushing in a rather captivating way, that he was into pony play. The club had a large bin of various types of gags, which were sterilized after each use. Dane now turned toward one of the men, a sub he'd scened with before who went by the name slut69. "I think I saw a bit gag in the bin. Go see if you can find it for me." To the man before him he said, "Where's your tail, pony boy?" "In my pack, Sir." "Get it." Pony boy shucked off his backpack and opened it. He withdrew a butt plug, to which had been glued a long, glossy black horsetail. Kneeling, he held the tail on upturned palms, his head bowed. "Get on your hands and knees." Pony boy obediently dropped to the floor as ordered. The floors were concrete, covered with linoleum in a pattern resembling gray flagstones. Reaching into the backpack, Dane found what he was looking for. Squeezing lubricant onto the tip of the plug, he tossed the tube back into the pack and kicked it aside. Bending down, he pushed the plug against pony boy's sphincter. Pony boy remained still, except for the grunt of pain when the flared base of the plug was pressed home. Dane noted pony boy's cock was fully erect. Slut69 returned holding a rubber bar about eight inches long and one inch in circumference, with large O-rings on each side. Dane grabbed pony boy's hair and pulled back his head. He pressed the gag into pony boy's mouth. Pony boy's eyes widened, his breath quickening around the rubber bar. Using two leads of rope, Dane tied one on either O-ring, creating makeshift reins. Moving behind pony boy, he pulled at the reins, jerking his head to the right and then the left. Dane dropped the reins. "Get up and trot for us, boy," he commanded. The man scrambled to his feet and began to move around the small room, lifting his legs high in a kind of goosestep, his hands held up like paws, his large cock suspended by the cock ring attached to his harness. Panting, he returned to stand in front of Dane, looking expectant. "Give me a riding crop," Dane said to no one in particular. In a moment a large black crop was placed in his hand. "Turn around and show me that ass," he barked. Pony boy eagerly obeyed, bending forward, his hands resting on his knees. Holding the reins in one hand, Dane smacked the man's ass with a resounding crack of leather. Pony boy's black horsetail swished, his yelps of pain muffled by the rubber bit in his mouth. Suddenly the men in the crowd burst into laughter, punctuated with hooting jeers and scattered applause. Dane pulled at the reins sharply, jerking pony boy's head back. Stepping in front of him, he saw the trail of white ejaculate wending its way down the man's leg. The tip of his cock was gooey with it. "What a bad little horsey you are. No discipline whatsoever." Pony boy looked mortified, his face nearly as red as his ass. Dane unbuckled the gag and let it fall to the floor. "I'd say a session in the stocks is in order." He led the boy to the open stocks and pressed his head down against the wood. Carefully, he closed the top half over his neck and wrists and slipped the padlock into place. Dane selected a large whip with long, knotted cords from the wall, guaranteed to leave marks. Pony boy's ass was thrust out, his back perpendicular to the floor, his cock pulled upward by the harness. The horsetail swayed, protruding lewdly from between his cheeks. With a flick of his wrist, Dane brought the whip down hard on pony boy's back. Pony boy cried out. He couldn't move, the stocks locking his head and wrists securely in position. There were murmurs and whispers from the onlookers, who shuffled and craned for a better look. Dane struck the boy's back and ass with unrelenting force, until there was no sound in the room but his breathy cries and the slap of leather against skin. The air was ripe with lust, sweat and primal desire. Dane could feel the sexual tension like a live thing emanating from the men crowded round them. Each of the subs wanted to be the one under his lash, bound in the stocks, exposed for all to see. The Doms in the group wanted to be Dane, to be the object of admiration and envy, to be the one with all the power. Spurred on by the avid, almost devotional attention of the group, he whipped pony boy to a frenzy, not stopping even when the sub's legs buckled beneath him, causing him to sag in a crouching position at the stocks, which were too high to permit him to kneel comfortably. "Please, Sir, may I have another." Dane knew the boy meant it, but also knew he'd taken him to the edge of what he could physically tolerate. He used a gentler stroke of the lash to bring him down from the pain high. Finally he dropped the whip altogether, using his hands to soothe the boy's heated skin. He unlocked the padlock and pulled the stocks open. Slut69, his self-appointed helper of the evening, helped to lower the well-whipped sub to the ground. Several men knelt around him, murmuring praise and congratulations at how well he took the beating. Pony boy lifted his head and smiled weakly, acknowledging the praise with a regal wave of his hand, as if he'd just returned from battle injured, but victorious. Watching the men huddled around the prostrate sub, Dane felt almost superfluous. With a shrug, he slipped past the group and out the door of the chamber. Heads swiveled in his direction as he passed, but he paid them little notice. What would Nathan have thought of the scene? He had a feeling Nathan wouldn't have been impressed. Dane looked around the club. There were mini-scenes happening in every corner - guys bent over, bares asses being smacked, balls locked in cages, whips cracking, bound subs kneeling at the feet of Doms, who pretended to ignore them as they talked to each other. Suddenly, Dane didn't want to be there anymore. He headed toward the door, waving away invitations to join acquaintances at their tables. He was headed back to The Iguana, on the off chance Nathan would still be there.

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