Jim brought the crop down on Blair's ass for the last of three crisp, medium-weighted strokes. The mark it made was a shade or two darker than the well-spanked skin surrounding it. Blair was making sounds that would embarrass him later, if he replayed them in his head.
Jim wondered what he'd been thinking when he decided to keep Blair hard, teased, hungry. Not one of his best ideas, in hindsight, because Blair just didn't have the control to play games like this, not yet, and he'd already come once, sucking Jim off, the night before. Blair had climaxed with an aggrieved, astonished wail when Jim had brushed the back of his hand lightly over the glossed-wet head of Blair's cock, intending only to get Blair to shiver with arousal, his expression rapt.
So they'd started over, with Blair apologizing with an earnestness tinged with satisfaction that he'd gotten what he'd been begging for, and Jim had been forced to be careful after that, which meant he hadn't done half the things he'd planned to. Stupid to be sulking over that when he had all the time in the world after tonight to make Blair do that thing where he whimpered and moaned and it all sounded like "Jim" and "please" no matter what the actual words, or lack of them, were.
This -- a short, swift spanking followed by three carefully judged strokes -- had pushed Blair's limits as it was, following on from hours of being kissed and touched, interspersed with tutorials on kneeling, and how Blair would be expected to behave at the club. Both Jim's hand and the crop had been needed, though; the spanking as a very literal warm up; the strokes to leave marks that would last the night. Jim had been amused to discover that the etiquette lessons had aroused Blair as much as his deliberate caresses. He didn't mind; not when a more unstudied kiss had left Blair pliant and purring. That one had been given when Blair had beamed up at him, happy with his success at finally kneeling with something approaching grace and not the noisy thud of his first attempts. Blair had just looked so damn pleased with himself…
"We're done," he told Blair, and put the crop down in front of Blair's face, which was pillowed on his folded arms, placing it where Blair could see it when he opened his eyes again. "Stay like that for a while."
It had the flavor of rote the way Blair said it, with a hint of amusement still present behind the hoarse, tear-thickened voice. He wasn't sure Blair and he would keep it as a ritual response for the future, but for tonight… well, the club had plenty of traditionalists who'd expect just that sort of quiet, respectful, brief acknowledgement of an order.
Unless… "Make it 'Yes, Jim'," he ordered on impulse.
There was the shortest of pauses and then Blair said it, perfect intonation, total sincerity, and Jim bit back a groan of pleasure because that worked for him, oh, yeah, it did. He was starting to see why Simon's face would get a deeply satisfied look when one of his subs murmured to him in just exactly that way.
"That's nice, Blair," he said approvingly and patted Blair's ass; he needed to feel the heat he'd placed there and he wanted to see how much of a flinch it got him.
Not too bad. Blair murmured a protest, but it was a half-hearted one. Jim flexed his still tingling hand and smiled, then dropped a Kleenex next to the crop. "Blow your nose and then drink some water."
Jim's smile became a grin. That time, there had been a suggestion of gritted teeth. Blair didn't like being babied or fussed over. He'd soon discover that letting Jim know that was a mistake; it was always handy to have some inventive ways of dealing with minor transgressions, based on a sub's dislikes. And he'd get one hell of a kick out of killing Blair with kindness. He patted Blair's ass again. "I'm going to take a shower. Finish drinking the water and then join me."
He didn't wait for the third version of "Yes, Jim"; they were going to be late. Club Z didn't ever really close, but there were good times to arrive and then there were perfect times.
Jim wanted perfect. He always had.
"Wow." Blair stared at Jim and shook his head in admiration. "You look good."
Jim adjusted his bow tie. "Thanks." He studied himself in the mirror on the wall. Yeah, he did. Black tie had always been something he felt as comfortable in as his combat fatigues, or a pair of old sweats. Most men moved stiffly in formal wear, treating it like a costume; to him, it was just another suit. And it had been something of a trademark outfit for him in the past.
Blair looked good, too. Blair was naked.
"Though I was expecting, I don't know, leather or something." There was just a tinge of disappointment in Blair's voice.
"You'll see plenty of leather tonight," Jim assured him. "Leather and metal and skin… on Doms and subs." He tweaked his tie one last time and then turned away. "Jack tried that look on me, at first, before we went with this."
It felt strange to mention Jack's name, but good, too. He'd been censoring himself around Blair, but there was no need now.
"I don't suppose you've got any photographs?"
"Hey, I wasn't joking," Blair protested. "I'd love to see them."
"There might be some in the agency files," Jim said without thinking.
Blair's eyes brightened. "Really?"
"No." He met Blair's skeptical expression and sighed. "Maybe. Look, if you want to see me in tight leather and a see-through T-shirt, fine, but --"
"'If'?" Blair said, his voice incredulous. "Hell, yes."
Jim raised his eyebrows and hid his misgivings as best he could. Flattering to have Blair so transparently eager, but from what he remembered of those photographs -- cold eyes, a trained smile, his body posed, muscles displayed; a handsome piece of meat, no more than that -- he wasn't sure Blair would like them that much. "Feel like getting dressed yourself? The car's going to be here soon."
Blair reached back, touched his bare ass gingerly, and then nodded. "Yeah. That cream helped. Took the sting out."
"So do I get to wear a suit, too?"
Jim had left Blair in the loft that morning, just for a few hours. He'd told Blair not to jerk off, an order that had gotten Jim a filthy look, and gone shopping. He'd returned with a few bags containing just what he'd wanted, but he hadn't shown Blair what was in them yet. The idea of Blair in black tie was appealing, but it wasn't going to happen tonight.
"I told you the club had a strict dress code for subs."
"Yes, and I assumed you meant -- oh." Blair's cheeks pinked up. "You didn't mean shirt and tie."
"Well, you could," Jim said. "It just wouldn't be a good idea."
"Just spit it out, man," Blair said.
"You're going to have to tone that attitude down," Jim warned him. "It's simple enough; three items of clothing or less."
"What?" He watched Blair work that out and saw the moment when Blair got a mental picture of himself in just three pieces of clothing. "What?"
That had verged on a squeak. Jim smiled. "Shoes and socks both count as one item each, not two -- four -- oh, you know what I mean -- although I've never seen any sub bother with them. Oh, except once, there was this redhead with spike-heeled boots that came so high up her legs -- God, those, and a collar, and this leather thong, nothing else, pure adolescent wet dream and her hair was long enough that it touched the top of the boots. Just stunning --" Blair's eyes narrowed and Jim interrupted himself. "Did you want to say something?"
"Right," Jim drawled. Blair jealous was oddly endearing. Jim allowed himself a moment to enjoy the warmth of being wanted and then continued. "There's a changing room where you can strip down before you enter the club proper so you don't have to travel there barefoot, don't worry. The car I've ordered will drive us into the underground car park and drop us off right outside the elevator, so you could change on the way, but I don't want you to." Jim crossed to where Blair stood, leaning now on the back of the couch, and tapped his fingers against Blair's mouth. "Don't ask why."
"Three items or less…" Blair looked uneasy. "Jim, I don't think I'm ready to -- I'm not going to be --?"
"Naked? No." Jim bent his head and gave Blair a kiss as swift as the strokes from the crop had been, moving back before Blair could do more than begin to respond. "That's for my eyes only."
Blair pulled a solemn face and intoned, "The name's Ellison. James Ellison."
"You do remember where we're going tonight, don't you?" Jim inquired mildly. "To a place where no one would care if I put you over my knee, though I can guarantee they'd look more than twice."
"I really would." He probably wouldn't. Not in public, that was. He'd never been all that good at sharing and those sounds Blair made when he was being spanked; uninhibited, raw, honest -- God, they'd have an audience three-deep and he just wasn't happy with that idea at all.
"Jim… shouldn't we agree on limits before we go in?"
Jim shook his head. "No. I already know yours and you're going to have to trust me to remember them. Once we walk into the club, you're mine. My sub. Simon and Sam have probably mentioned that I'm going to be there, and people know that you're new, but they're still used to a level of commitment and experience that you just don't have. Show me up and you could blow a good part of my reputation, which won't do the agency much good and will close doors for you before they've even opened."
"Jim -- I don't want to do that, you know I don't, it's just --" Blair was blushing now. "Spanking me in public? With an audience? I can't --"
"Behave, and it won't be an issue." Jim flicked Blair's cheek with the back of his fingers. "You look good with some color. But the club's dimly lit; it won't show there. Pity."
Blair took a deep breath and visibly regained control. "Trust you. Yeah, that's what this is all about, right?"
"It's part of it," Jim agreed. "I need to know I've got that from you. So do I? Do you trust me?"
"I -- yes, I do." Blair nodded. "Oh, you know I do. Since I first saw you at the hotel and you talked me into letting you stay."
"I don't seem to recall you needing much persuading," Jim said dryly.
Blair gave him a quick, mischievous grin. "You're remembering it differently than me, then, but I like your version better."
"Come here," Jim said, and pulled Blair in close for a kiss, his hands dropping to palm Blair's bare ass. The skin was roughened, but yeah, cooling off now he'd applied a liberal dollop of antiseptic cream, laced with a mild numbing agent. He'd considered putting some makeup on Blair; a little eyeliner, a touch of red for that sinfully lush mouth, but there were other ways to make Blair's lips red and he didn't like the taste of lipstick or gloss much.
When he ended the kiss, Blair was hard again, flushed and panting, his mouth damp and hot.
"It feels weird kissing you when I'm naked and you're not," Blair said. He rested his forehead against Jim's shoulder and then turned his head to nuzzle into Jim's neck. That felt good enough that Jim was seriously tempted to put off the visit to the club for an hour or two. Jerk off with Blair watching, his hands wrapped loosely around his own cock and balls, forbidden to move or let his fingers clutch tighter… oh, God, just the thought of that was enough to make him want it like air to breathe.
"You don't seem to mind it too much." Jim pursed his lips, striving to keep his voice steady. "I'm going to keep you naked for a day some time."
Blair's breath caught and he lifted his head to meet Jim's gaze. "Oh, yeah?"
"Definitely. And you'd be able to do anything you wanted to get me to play with you," Jim promised recklessly.
"What kind of anything?" From the gleam in his eyes, Blair already had a few ideas.
"Kneeling and begging is a classic," Jim said. "Simple and direct. Not as direct as just bending over the couch or the table and waiting for me to take the hint, I suppose…"
Blair laughed. "I think I could be more subtle than that."
"I look forward to it." Jim swatted Blair's ass. "Let me get you dressed."
"Hey; newsflash, buddy; I mastered buttons and zippers a long time ago." There was genuine affront in Blair's voice and Jim frowned.
"Blair, think about what you just said."
"I know, I know; not respectful. But that goes both ways, and you --"
"No. I said 'think' not 'react'. You're a grown man and I've watched you dress and undress a number of times; why in hell would you think I was implying that you couldn’t?"
"I don't know." Blair stumbled over the words. "I just thought it sounded --"
"It wasn't meant to be." He'd have to be careful; Blair seemed to love being taken care of, but within tightly drawn parameters and Jim wasn't sure he knew where all the lines were yet. "I can think of at least two reasons why I'd be the one dressing you."
He waited and Blair screwed up his face in thought. "Maybe if it was something complicated?" he hazarded. "Straps and buckles at the back that I'm not supposed to be able to reach."
"Yes, I guess that would be one of them, but that's not the case tonight. You're going to be in fairly standard clothes; I just want to be the one to put them on you."
"Kinky." Blair sounded thoughtful rather than shocked or amused.
"I guess. Everyone has a few kinks; it's just hard to recognize them within yourself." He shrugged. "Unless it's your job to look. I know a lot of mine but some are probably too vague to pin down with words, or too bundled together to separate out. If I get turned on spanking you -- and I do -- which sense is the trigger for my arousal? The sound of my hand hitting your skin? The color your ass turns? Or is it the fact that I'm hurting you?" Blair made a small, protesting murmur, and Jim smiled. "Yeah, I don't think it's that one, but if it was, and you were enjoying it, too, then who's to say it's wrong?"
"I never really figured out why I want it," Blair said. "I tried, but whatever I came up with didn't feel like the complete answer, you know? Maybe I was too busy figuring out how to get it." He raised his eyebrows. "Tell me another one of your kinks?"
"Make it easy for you? Forget it, Chief. You're the author; the observer of human nature, right? So observe me and maybe you'll discover some I don't know I have." And wouldn't that be fun. Before Blair could respond, Jim pointed up at his -- their -- bedroom. "Now get that hot little ass of yours upstairs so I can cover it up."
The drive from his loft to the club was a silent one. Blair sat beside him, his hand locked in Jim's, his gaze flickering from the busy streets they were driving through to the back of the driver's head.
Jim knew the man -- Rob Peters, one of Sam's employees for the past six years -- but hadn't done more than greet him with a smile; Blair had been glancing around, his agitation palpable, and Jim had wanted to get him into the car as quickly as possible.
He wasn't sure why Blair was so worked up; they hadn't met anyone as they'd made their way downstairs, and no one on the sidewalk had given them more than an incurious glance. Jim's tux had stood out more than what Blair was wearing, anyway.
As they neared the club, he turned his head and spoke quietly. "Leave the coat here. Rob will be the one driving us home and he'll take care of it."
"And you're going to take care of me?" Blair's teeth chattered audibly, enamel striking enamel, and his eyes were wide and dark.
"That's right." Jim fitted his palm to the angularity of Blair's jaw and kissed him, ignoring the way Blair's body was trembling. He soon coaxed a response out of Blair, an attempt to respond, anyway, and he continued the kiss until Blair relaxed abruptly, his hands coming up to pull Jim closer.
"Easy," Jim said under his breath, the words spoken against Blair's mouth. "Remember what I told you."
Blair sounded resigned but calmer as he whispered back. "I don't speak unless you ask me a direct question or give me permission, I stay close, and I kneel if you sit."
"And one last one."
Blair's agitation flared up again. "I don't remember another rule! Shit, Jim, forget it, look, just take me home, okay? I'm going to fuck this up and embarrass you --"
"Blair… the last one is to have fun." Jim nodded at the front entrance to the club as they drove past it, a discreet door that was rarely used. The club looked small from the outside for what it was, but it was meant to. The buildings on either side, blank-faced, windowless, belonged to it, too, their facades markedly different to give the impression that they were unconnected. And the basement level was, well, extensive. "People don't pay Sam a small fortune in membership fees for nothing. They love it in there and so will you."
Blair took off his coat and put it beside him, the dark leather a splash of shadow against the paler gray leather of the seat. "You're a member? I guess you must be, right?"
Jim nodded. "Simon and I have lifetime memberships, but I don't come here much. It's not somewhere I'd ever bring a client. Any guests I've invited there have been people I know well and trust, though from time to time a new member will be someone I, uh, know professionally."
"Isn't that awkward?"
"Not for me."
The car turned the corner and slowed. Rob pressed a garage door opener attached to the dashboard and drove down a ramp big enough to allow two-way traffic.
Jim put his hand on the nape of Blair's neck, and felt the heavy, thick fall of tied-back hair tickle it. Blair bowed his head and somehow managed to press back against the controlling, caressing hand at the same time.
Nice. Jim had to admit that he got as much of an atavistic kick out of that silent assurance that Blair was his as Blair clearly did.
"When we get to the changing room, I'm going to get you ready to go in. Just go with it, whatever I do. I won't hurt you."
"I know that," Blair said.
"Sure you do." Jim drew his thumbnail down the short strip of skin that began behind Blair's earlobe and ended at the point of his jaw and could swear he heard the goose bumps pop out down that side of Blair's body. "But I want you to believe it." He pushed Blair's captured, confined hair back with one hand, and as the car came to a smooth halt in front of the elevator doors, he found a good place on Blair's neck and marked it with his mouth. The low moan that spilled from Blair's mouth, uncontrolled, involuntary, had Jim's other hand clenching into a fist to keep it from reaching out. If he touched Blair's dick now, Blair would come; he was that close, Jim could tell.
He sucked until the captured skin was slippery and hot against his tongue and then studied the blurred shape on Blair's neck with satisfaction. "That's for you. There are mirrors all over the place in there; you'll be able to see it and I know you'll be able to feel it."
Blair reached up and brushed the rapidly bruising skin with his fingertips. "Just for me? Not even a little bit for you?"
"I might look at it from time to time myself," Jim said. "Brat."
Rob was waiting patiently for the tap on the glass divider, ready to jump out and open the door for them. Jim rapped on the partition with his knuckles, feeling a sudden exuberance, and when Blair hesitated, he murmured, "Showtime, Chief," which got Blair out of the car, at least.
Rob closed the car door and stepped back so that Jim and Blair could walk the few feet to the elevator, his face impassive. An inch taller than Simon, his shoulders wide and his body heavy with muscles, he looked more like a bouncer than a chauffeur, not that Sam really needed one in the club; good behavior was a requirement, not an option, for many of the people there.
"Sir?" Rob said, his voice quietly respectful.
"Yes, Rob?" Wait for it…
"Mistress Samantha said that I should tell you to tighten my collar."
Okay, Sam was just enjoying this way too much. Beside him, Blair stiffened with surprise, his mouth opening with a question that Jim glared into silence.
He stared at Rob, not caring in the least that he had to tilt his head back slightly to do so. What the hell was Sam playing at? She didn't share her people any more than Jim did. Unless… hmm. She could be doing this to give Jim a chance to find his feet, or possibly to jolt Blair. Both had happened, though Blair's shock had already turned to curiosity, and Jim didn't really think he needed the ease-in, thank you very fucking much.
But there was another possibility and, given that Jim was certain he had Sam's respect -- more or less -- and knowing her the way he did --
"She did, did she?" Jim schooled his face to match Rob's expression and gestured with one hand. Rob dropped to his knees in a smooth, controlled movement, and Jim added in a conversational tone, "So tell me, Rob; what are you being punished for?"
Rob's hand dropped away from the shirt button he'd been about to unfasten. He swallowed dryly and his gaze flickered away from Jim's face to Blair, who was watching with the fascination he'd shown when Jim had opened the closet door at the agency house and revealed the tools of his trade, in a manner of speaking.
Oh, I don't think so…
It was a judgment call Jim had a split-second to make, but some skills never leave once learned. Thinking fast had saved his life too many times to be a habit he wanted to break. Ordinarily, no one would ever discipline someone else's sub, and Jim really didn't want to give Sam the idea that if he took care of Rob's lapse, she was entitled to deal with any transgression Blair made. Having said that, by giving Jim the right to tighten the collar Rob was wearing deliberately loose, so that it was hidden under his shirt, Sam had ceded him a very temporary control. If Rob misbehaved, then Jim was well within his rights to punish him. Sam would expect him to.
There was, perhaps, a lag of a second between Rob's sidelong glance and the crack of Jim's hand across his face, a backhanded slap, all show and sound, but enough of both to get a stifled yelp from Blair who was well on his way to earning that spanking he'd said he didn't want.
Rob held still for it, breathing a little faster. "I'm sorry, sir."
"If I'd wanted an apology, you'd have been giving it with your face against my shoes, not still kneeling," Jim said. "I believe I asked a question."
"I was clumsy," Rob blurted out. "I dropped a tray."
That would do it, Jim supposed. Sam loathed petty mistakes; she never made any, so she had no mercy on those who did. Ruthlessly strict, her style didn't appeal to everyone, but it obviously suited Rob.
"It splashed her dress, her shoes…" Rob closed his eyes momentarily, as if to block out the memory of such an epic tragedy, and Jim tried not to roll his eyes. He just couldn't handle this kind of slavish worship, even when it wasn't being directed at him. God, if Blair ever tried -- He looked Blair's way and was reassured by the indignation and pity in Blair's eyes. No, Blair wouldn't be likely to go the route Rob had.
"Collar," he snapped.
Rob gave a guilty start and undid the first three buttons of his shirt, exposing a thin leather collar. He bowed his head and waited. Jim walked around him and raked his fingers through Rob's blond hair, then hooked them in the collar and tugged it gently. One-handed, he undid the narrow buckle and refastened it in the hole that showed signs of being used the most. He ran a finger between leather and skin, checking the fit automatically, and then tapped Rob's shoulder. "Up."
"Yes, sir. Thank you, sir." Rob stood and placed his finger over the button for the elevator and when Jim nodded, he pressed it.
"See you later, Rob. We won't be staying too late."
"Yes, sir. I'll be waiting."
"I know you will," Jim told him, and ushered Blair into the elevator as the door opened.
The door had barely closed when Blair started speaking, the words fizzing out of his mouth, shaken-soda style. "He's a sub? Like me? God, you could have told me! And you -- he was wearing a collar, Jim, out where anyone could see him, and fuck, when you hit him --"
"Shut up," Jim said, and kept his voice low, if forceful, with an effort. "Or I'll borrow a gag off Sam and it won't come off until you're home and I will make you wear it until the loft door closes and the hell with anyone who sees you."
He saw the protest rise to Blair's lips, almost heard the words, but Blair stopped them just in time.
"Better." He slammed his hand against the emergency stop button and when the elevator came to a smooth halt, he rounded on Blair. "He deserved that tap -- and that was all it was. It's not something I'd do to you to discipline you, not without discussing it, but it's something Rob would expect. Plus, Sam would have thought I'd lost my edge if I'd missed his hesitation, and she would've been right." He turned his face up to the winking eye of the security camera and gave it a sardonic grin. "Well?"
From a speaker high on the wall came the sound of applause, a slow clap followed by Sam saying, "I would. And listening to you explain yourself to a sub, I'm still not convinced that you haven't." Her voice became silky. "Hello, Blair. What do you think of my club so far?"
Blair earned a brownie point by turning very deliberately to Jim, a questioning look on his face.
"Answer the lady, Blair."
"It's very nice," Blair said politely.
Jim bit back laughter. "There you are, Sam. He likes it."
"He's wearing too much." There was a petulant snap to Sam's voice now that made her sound younger. "The rules apply to you as much as anyone."
"I know." Jim didn't bother placating her; she didn't respond well to it from him. He hit the button again and the elevator began to rise. "I'll take care of it before we come in."
"You'd better -- or you won't get in."
Simon's voice cut in. "Sam. Play nice."
The slight crackle of the intercom cut off suddenly -- Jim pictured Simon's large hand holding the switch down -- and Jim turned his back on the camera and gave Blair's cheek an approving pat. "That was perfect."
Blair gave him a mischievous smile and Jim felt a little of his concern fade away. If Blair could smile like that, then his nervousness must have diminished to manageable levels.
The elevator came to a halt and Jim, who'd opened his mouth to deliver another reminder, closed it again. Blair knew what to do -- and what not to do -- and he'd just proved it. Without looking back once, he stepped out into the lobby and led the way across it toward the changing room door.
The lobby, with its rarely used street access, was a small room, designed more as a buffer than a reception room. It held a few people, idly chatting, but most arrivals did just what Jim was doing; they chose a doorway, entered their personal code in a keypad by the door, and went through. A member could let another member pass through with him, but it wasn't encouraged. Sam liked to know who was where.
Blair didn't count; not because he was a sub, but because he wasn't a member. As a guest, most of the club was closed to him; if Jim had tried to take him through certain doors, he would have been stopped, politely but firmly. If Blair had turned up alone, and Sam was in the mood to vouch for him, he would have gotten through the door into the main room, sure, but that would have been about it.
Jim keyed in his code, paused until the light flashed green, and then pressed two more keys; '+' and '1'. Simple enough, but it meant that he'd assumed responsibility for Blair and anything he did. Blair fucked up badly, and Jim's membership could be revoked for a time as punishment.
Not likely, though. If it even looked like Blair was headed that way, Jim would get him out, fast. Barefoot -- hell, naked and hard -- if he had to.
The changing room was larger than the lobby, and the lights were a shade dimmer, allowing the eyes to adjust gradually before entering into the club itself. Spotlights, controlled from a central observation point, picked out anything interesting in the main room of the club, but the overall lighting in there was discreetly subdued.
And some of the corners got very dark.
The changing room was as busy as Jim had known it would be; quiet enough, because any orders being given were being given in low undertones and acknowledged in the same way, but there was still a buzz of conversation.
It didn't stop when he walked in, but it died down, just for a flattering fraction of a second. Jim was surprised by how much it would have mattered to him if he hadn't gotten that moment of recognition and acknowledgement.
It had been a long time since he'd been in this room; he usually came alone and entered the club directly from the lobby. He'd forgotten the way the air in here was heavy with anticipation.
Playtime was waiting. A chance to be exactly who they wanted to be, all of them, in a safe place. He realized that like them, he'd altered his stance and his expression, dropped into a persona he'd thought he'd created for his job, as artificial as the murmured assurances he gave his clients.
Too easy to do it. Too welcome a shift.
God, he belonged here as much as Blair did, in some ways. For some reason, that realization didn't surprise him as much as it would have a month before, but it still left him shaken. Giving Blair what he'd needed had been as much a learning experience for him as it had for Blair, and Jim was too self-aware not to have realized that. Even if admitting it had been something he'd put off doing until now, here. His gaze traveled around the room, and he returned nods from acquaintances, most of them casual friends he hadn't seen for a while.
He shouldn't have had much status with these people; he was a hooker and he faked what they wanted for a price. He played both sides of the D/s equation, although, as he'd told Blair when they'd met, he didn't really give good value as a sub. That he had built up a reputation as someone to be trusted, that once Simon had brought him here, introduced him to Sam, he'd been accepted -- why had he never wondered about that? Why had he never realized that he'd been summed up, judged, and found acceptable because like called to like and they knew --
He was losing it. The room was filled with a seashell roar and the ripe, fresh musk of arousal, peppered with perfume, slicked with lube. He was going to end up on his knees any moment now, and wouldn't that ruin his entrance and maybe make Sam's night when she heard about it --
A hand slid into his and clutched hard enough to jolt him out of his fugue. Blair didn't speak, but that tight, scared grip spoke for him.
Before the faces around him had time to register curiosity or concern, Jim turned his back on them and stared down at Blair. Blue eyes, blinking rapidly; bitten lip, teeth-dented; a lost look in Blair's blue eyes that matched the way Jim felt --
He pulled his hand free and slid it through Blair's hair, from the temple back, and watched certainty and trust replace the apprehension.
Blair thought Jim knew what he was doing, and he didn't, not really, but he'd planned this out, culling a few ideas from standing in this room over the years and from watching Simon work with his subs.
He used his hold on Blair's hair to pull him closer and kissed him, slow and sweet and dirty, his own body held still, his free hand hanging by his side. Blair's mouth was stiff at first; he was clearly not used to being kissed in public, but Jim had spent all day getting Blair turned on and denying him, using every ounce of skill and intuition he had. Blair was simmering, and tonight, oh, he was going to boil over and spill, hot and messy, and the clean up would be hell, but it would be worth it.
And right now, Blair was going to kiss him back, because Jim wasn't giving him any other choice. His fingers twisted the strands of hair threaded between them and the mouth crushed against his became the responsive, restlessly hungry mouth he'd been kissing all day.
Jim allowed himself a few seconds of what was becoming a pleasurable habit he had no intention of breaking, and then turned his face away leaving Blair swaying, eyes closed, lips parted, wet and red. He deliberately caught the eye of a man in the room who'd been giving them sidelong glances since they'd walked in. What was his name? One of Sam's people... Rafe, that was it. He winked at him and saw a reluctant smile cross the man's face before the woman holding his leash jerked it sharply, her pretty face annoyed, and Rafe went back to licking his way slowly up her leg, ankle to thigh.
Blair moaned and pressed up against Jim's side, his breath warm against Jim's neck.
"Stop that," Jim said, making sure his voice carried and finding a false strength in pretending, just for a little while, that this was a job, a client, a normal night of his life. The pretence wouldn't work for long; Blair didn't fit in that niche anymore; hadn't from that first night, and this was the club, not an anonymous hotel room, but if he could just get started, find a rhythm... "Three steps away and face me. Let's get you presentable."
"Naked would work nicely."
Jim grinned, letting his smile hide his relief, and didn't bother looking over his shoulder. He knew who had his six. "He gets to keep something on, Simon, and since when did you get hot over naked men?"
Simon's hand came down on his shoulder, heavy and friendly. "I don't. But I just love seeing you when you get stuck between a rock and a hard place."
"Meaning?" Jim was watching Blair's face as he stood, just out of reach, his back to the room. Blair looked desperately uncomfortable, and at the same time a heartbeat away from begging for a touch. Jim intended to take the first condition away, but Blair probably wasn't going to like the process, no matter how much he enjoyed the end result.
Simon pitched his voice low enough that most of the people in the room couldn't hear it. "The club rules are intended to get the subs stripped down, and you know it. And I'm guessing part of you wants to show him off, get some interest going just so that you can snarl and growl a bit."
"Simon…" Jim protested.
"Hush up," Simon said with a chuckle. "You know I'm right… But you don't like sharing, never have, and you know you can have him naked anytime, so you're going to tease us by covering him up, I guess?"
Jim studied Blair. Covered? True enough. He was wearing more than any other sub in the room, and a lot of the Doms. The club was kept warm enough for bare skin and most people took advantage of that. Total nudity wasn't common; it wasn't as sexy for one thing, and it was a little… unimaginative, but flirting with it was a different matter.
Blair was going to get hot tonight if he stayed dressed like this; his skin would become dappled with sweat, his hair would be damp, his mouth dry. Given the rules, Blair couldn't stay this way, but it was an interesting thought. Jim played with the idea of holding a water bottle to Blair's mouth as he knelt, hands tied, a slow trickle of water running over his chin and dripping down his neck. He'd lick it off Blair's skin, cool water, warmed by contact, and keep on licking...
"He's mine," he said to Simon matter-of-factly. "Whatever he's wearing. But he needs to lose some of it, you're right."
Blair swallowed, his eyes wide.
"Shoes. Socks," Jim said. "Take them off, Blair."
The room went quiet, just for an instant, just long enough for people to appreciate, from Jim's lack of reaction, that Blair hadn't crossed a line. Simon exhaled as Blair dropped smoothly to one knee and began to undo the laces on his scuffed-up sneakers; a slow hiss of approval. "Nice," he murmured. "I didn't think you'd had time to do much with him, but…"
Jim watched Blair and absently noted every deviation from the way he'd been told to do it in the bedroom of the agency's house. Not bad; a little clumsy getting his second sock off, but, still, yeah…
Blair glanced at him, a question in his eyes, and Jim turned his hand palm up and gestured for Blair to stand with a flick of his fingers. "Put them in my locker and then come back here."
Blair bent, picked up his discarded socks and shoes, and then glanced around the room uncertainly.
"Far corner, Blair," Simon said, nodding toward the back of the room. "The one with all the dust on it."
Blair gave Simon a quick, grateful smile, and set off. By the time he'd crossed the room his head was down and Jim could swear he could feel the heat of Blair's blush. The attention he was getting wasn't unfriendly -- far from it -- but it seemed to be more than Blair was able to deal with.
He was a new face, and a pretty one, and people were staring. They would have stared no matter who Blair was with, but it wasn't hurting that he was with two men who were -- a concept some of her subs had trouble wrapping their heads around -- Sam's bosses. When she wasn't in the club, that was.
Tonight, a relatively quiet night, although it wouldn't seem that way to Blair, people were going to be doing a lot of looking and speculating. Especially once word got around about this scene playing out right now. It was tame enough; if he'd been doing this to someone experienced, it wouldn't have merited a glance, but the arousal and apprehension -- the heat pouring off Blair, well, it was catnip to this crowd.
And to Jim. He was going to fuck Blair tonight and they both knew it and just like Blair undressing, that was routine, that was mundane -- and yet with Blair involved it became something that Jim was anticipating like a child told that ice cream was coming.
The lockers that ran around the room, capacious enough to hold a lot more than a gym bag and a bottle of shampoo, were available for all the members. Jim's stood empty, and hadn't been used for months, but he was sure it wasn't dusty. Sam didn't like dust. He watched Blair locate it and run a finger over an oval metal plate engraved with 'J. Ellison', inset into the door.
Because Blair could count past three, and knew he'd be making the trip again, he left the door ajar and then turned, searching for Jim's face and finding it, because no one was stupid enough to block Blair's way. Blair fixed his gaze on Jim, and Jim reeled him in with a smile.
When Blair was back on the precise spot of carpet he'd been told to stand on, Jim looked him over.
"What next?" Simon inquired.
Jim gave Simon an exasperated glance. "Do you mind?"
He got an unrepentant chuckle back. "I want to get back to Amy." Jim nodded. He liked Amy, a nurse whose job left her sometimes strung-out and exhausted, but whose innate playfulness surfaced fast once she relaxed. She wasn't a member, not on her salary, but as Simon's guest, she'd been coming to the club for about six months. She'd given Jim the best neck massage he'd ever had when he'd complained about aching muscles following hours of paperwork. Her fingers had eased the tension away, leaving him grateful and able to turn his head without wincing for the first time in a week. "I've got a private room reserved for later, but I thought we could all have a drink first?"
"Sure." Jim tapped his finger against his mouth thoughtfully -- more for the benefit of the audience they'd gathered than because he wasn't sure what he wanted to do. He knew. "Both shirts off, Blair."
Blair unbuttoned his top shirt and slid it off his shoulders, then dropped it, his hand extended far enough away from his body that it fell, unimpeded, and formed a neat puddle of white silk. Under the shirt he was wearing a long-sleeved, dark-blue T-shirt, tight enough that Jim could see the sharp nudge of Blair's nipples through the thin cotton. The T-shirt followed the other shirt to the floor, water on snow, and Blair stood, his chest bare, the hair on it a dark swirl and cloud against his pale skin.
"I'm thinking about a few piercings," Jim told Simon conversationally. "His ear, definitely; maybe a nipple."
"Why not both?"
Jim pretended to give that some thought, but he'd already decided what he was going to ask Blair to do. "No. Just one. I want the other free to play with. He likes that." He glanced at Blair. "Don't you, Blair?"
Blair looked torn between his promise to behave and a clear desire to glare. "Yes, Jim," he said finally, with a suggestion of gritted teeth.
"Yeah…" Jim drawled, and stared meaningfully at Blair's chest. An hour before they'd left, both Blair's nipples had been decorated with clamps, biting tight, and for far longer than a minute this time. Blair had begged Jim to tie his hands after the first thirty seconds, to stop himself from taking them off. "I want them," he'd said, the words separated by panted grunts. "I do. Just hurts at first -- Jim --"
Jim hadn't cuffed Blair; he hadn't planned to leave them on long enough to make it worthwhile to get out the cuffs, but he'd knelt on the bed behind Blair and held Blair's crossed wrists in the small of his back, held them there with a grip he hadn't let Blair break, his mouth murmuring reassurances into Blair's ear between kisses. Blair's skin had been hot, shivers running through it, and he'd leaned back against Jim at the end, sobbing and cursing, his fingers holding onto Jim's even when Jim had told him that it had been long enough, and they could come off now. Blair had kept Jim's hands where they were until Jim had made it an order and Blair had let him take the clamps off.
Then he'd pushed Blair to his back and fastened his mouth onto the reddened, bruising skin, lapping fiercely at it and feeling the heat soak into his tongue as Blair rubbed his body against Jim in search of a climax he knew he wasn't going to be allowed, the damp head of his cock nudging Jim's hand when he reached down to hold Blair still.
"So he's down to two?" Simon asked. "Or is he bare under those jeans?"
Jim raised his eyebrows. "Oh, he's not staying like this, Simon. Blair. Put your shirt back on. Button it."
"Liked him better with it off," Simon grumbled.
"That's because you're an idiot," Jim told him as Blair obeyed. Without the dark T-shirt under it, the white silk was translucent, the fabric thin as a soap bubble. A history teacher had told Jim's class once about silk dresses and shawls fine enough to be drawn through a wedding ring; he wondered idly if Blair's shirt would pass through a nipple ring. Maybe not; the collar was stiff, framing Blair's throat. The severity of the tailoring made the lush lines of Blair's mouth seem doubly provocative and the shirt was warmed by the color of the skin underneath it.
Even with the shirt buttoned, Jim could see the crisp curl of hair on Blair's chest and belly and the blurred shape of his swollen nipples. Nice.
"No collar?" Simon asked.
Blair's head jerked up slightly, his hands dropping to his side. Jim stared at him and tried to judge Blair's response. He'd mentioned the possibility of wearing one -- a temporary one -- to him earlier. Blair had started to babble, tangling his tongue in words until Jim had taken pity on him and pushed two fingers into Blair's mouth to suck wet, because he loved the way Blair's tongue curled and lapped at them, the definition of 'a lick and a promise', and because Blair had been brought up not to talk with his mouth full so it shut him up.
"It's my collar," he'd told Blair, easing his fingers in and out slowly and watching Blair swallow convulsively. "The one I used to wear when I was working. Didn't use it much, but I had one. It's upstairs. Want to wear it tonight? You'll need something to show you're taken."
Blair wouldn't. Jim didn't plan to leave him alone, not for a second. The collar might help Blair feel as if he belonged, though.
He hadn't really gotten a coherent answer out of Blair, but he'd slipped the strip of leather into his jacket pocket, anyway.
"Yes, of course he gets a collar," he said lightly.
Fastening it around Blair's neck was an ordeal. Blair's hair was tied back so it was easy to push aside, but as Jim had discovered early on, it had a tendency to cling to Jim's hands when he touched it, bright with static. Not to mention the fact that this close to Blair, Jim wanted to do things to him that really wouldn't be a good idea in public. He wasn't easy to embarrass and no one watching would care, but Blair didn't really know that, not yet. So far, Blair hadn't seen much going on; the changing room wasn't meant to be anything but that, and although there was plenty of skin on display, some of it already marked up and bruised, and a few subs kneeling, waiting while their Doms chatted, it was all relatively low key.
After Blair had seen what went on in the main rooms, well, maybe Jim would push him a little further, but not here, so he fastened the collar without giving way to the urge to taste the skin it would cover.
When his hands fell away from Blair's neck, after smoothing over Blair's shoulders just to feel the tremor under the skin, Blair gave a low whimper that almost undid Jim's resolve not to kiss him. Leaning in closer, he murmured, "Go ahead. Say it."
Without turning his head, so that only Simon, watching curiously, could see him, Blair whispered back, "Tell me you're going to fuck me soon, Jim. Even if you're not, just tell me you are."
Jim gave in and dropped a kiss on Blair's shoulder. "Yeah, sweetheart, you know I am." He bit down, not caring if he shredded the fragile, antique silk. "I'd do it here, if there was something to bend you over."
Blair shuddered; with arousal, not fear, a luxuriant shiver of anticipation. "Good."
The door swung open. Jim slid his arms around Blair protectively and gave Sam a lazy, provocative grin. Dressed in red leather, dark enough to be black in the creases, and spike-heeled boots, she looked good. Jim appreciated the view without taking it personally.
Rob lagged a pace behind her, his expression disconsolate, his hair mussed as if a hand had used it as a convenient way to drag him. There hadn't been time for Sam to do much to him, but it didn't take her long to convey displeasure. Jim winced inwardly and then reflected that Rob had probably known what he was doing and the risks of being anything less than perfect.
"Sam," Jim replied.
Simon snorted. "You two," he muttered.
"Is he ready?" Sam asked, her gaze raking down Blair's body.
Jim stepped aside and studied Blair. He undid the top button on Blair's shirt so that the leather around his neck was clearly visible, and bent in to kiss Blair's mouth a shade darker. "I think so," he said without looking at her. "What do you think?"
"I think he's the sort to wear something under his jeans," Sam said, with an edge of spite. "Prove he isn't, or make him lose the shirt."
"I like the shirt," Jim said. "And he's bare under the jeans."
"Show me," Sam said, with a purr husking her voice. When Jim didn't respond, she arched an eyebrow. "Oh, come on. It's not like I haven't seen him naked before."
Bitch. But a predictable one, which was her weakness.
Jim swept a smiling look around the room, inviting anyone not already watching the show to do so, and moved back to Blair's side, behind him.
The jeans weren't as old as the shirt, but they were vintage, worn tissue-thin at the knees, the zipper replaced by a leather thong lacing the jeans closed. The criss-crossed leather, five Xs marking one spot, were going to take a while to undo. Jim didn't mind waiting, but Blair probably would.
They were worn plenty in other places, too. Jim hooked his fingers in the threadbare seat of Blair's jeans on one side and yanked up, hard. The denim tore easily, frayed fabric yielding, exposing pale skin, crossed with scarlet welts.
Blair made a startled sound, but held his position, even when a low, appreciative hum went up behind him from the audience. Jim walked to Blair's other side and repeated his action. The flaps of denim, once released, covered Blair's ass, but only when he stood still; walking, tight as the jeans, were, he'd be showing flashes of an ass Jim frankly couldn't keep his hands off.
He gripped Blair's shoulders and turned him so that Sam could see for herself, reaching down to flip up the ripped cloth for a moment.
Simon was clearly holding back a delighted grin; Sam looked reluctantly admiring.
"He's still wearing too much," she said. "That hair tie counts."
"That was never staying on," Jim told her, and released it, so that the crinkled, silky mass of Blair's hair swung free. "You said something about a drink, Simon?"
"Waiting at the table," Simon assured him.
"Good." He tapped Blair's ass, his fingers finding skin. "Put your T-shirt in my locker, Blair."
The look Blair gave him as he knelt down to pick the T-shirt up, his other hand going to the collar around his neck, was, finally, serene.
Jim watched Blair walk across the room and saw heads turn with the predictability of a sunset. Let them look.
As long as no one but him tried to touch.
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