Mase Briggs watched the group of subs huddled in the corner with a sense of impending doom.
"What's up?" Jon Pendleton, a fellow Dom, clapped him on the shoulder before plopping into the chair beside him. He'd known Jon for about a year--ever since he'd moved to Seattle. The older man had a focused way with people that easily inspired trust in the younger men at the club. It was also one of the reasons the man made such a great private investigator.
In answer to Jon's question, he nodded towards the subs crowded around a nearby table. It was still pretty early and the club wasn't as packed as it would become later. "A group of bored subs with drinking games. Most of them look barely old enough to drink. Are you sure Thom carded them all?" As cute as the group was, that many young, mostly inexperienced men in one place made sweat break out on his brow.
Jeff, his previous sub, had been inexperienced and hadn't come to Mase about his fears. Instead he'd taken his own life--ending it all in the bathroom with a straight razor while Mase was out buying dinner. Visions of his lover's blood splashed against the white marbled floor still haunted Mase's dreams. Jeff was the reason Mase only did public scenes now and kept submissives out of his home. He'd learned his lesson in the worst possible way.
Jon laughed, breaking into Mase's grim memories. "Don't worry Mase. Thom's good at his job--he's not going to let a baby submissive into the club. All those men are the right age." He examined them carefully before adding. "Barely...but old enough. Besides, I thought you liked them young."
"Not that young. I think they're working up to some sort of bet. Who do you think will lose?" Mase asked, watching the group, his curiosity bubbling up at their antics. He had no doubt the contest involved a test to see who would be brave enough to submit to him. Enough glances flew in his direction to alert him that he was somehow involved. He'd be more than happy to whip one of them then send them on their way if it would end their speculation over him.
During the past year, Mase had learned that being an accused murderer gave him a dangerous, bad boy appeal. Mase didn't want to be viewed as a challenge to be overcome or something frightening to survive. Hell, if he had his way, he'd never come to another club but instead be back at his house living in domestic harmony with the sub of his dreams. The only problem was Mase hadn't met him yet...and he doubted he'd have the courage to take another sub home even if he found him.
Jon propped his head on his hand and watched the group. "I'm sure it will be something original. It's probably a contest of some type."
It quickly became apparent who had lost when an extremely pretty young man with curly chocolate brown hair stumbled out of the crowd.
"You promised, Kit. You can't back down now," one of the other subs yelled. Mase couldn't tell who had shouted, but he had to hold back a laugh as the delicate-looking man made an extremely rude hand gesture. The obviously inebriated sub wobbled his way over to Mase then fell to his knees in a surprisingly graceful move.
"Good evening, Sir." Dark, forest green eyes blinked blearily up at him.
"Good evening," Mase said. The liquor-soaked kid could barely sit up straight but Mase had to admit to being impressed when the sub indeed held his pose.
"May I be of service?" A hopeful note followed the question as the kid tried to focus his glazed eyes.
Mase slid a hand beneath the sub's chin to hold his head up. The young man's silky skin felt amazing beneath Mase's fingers. It had been so long since he'd felt desire for a specific person and not just whoever was handy to sate his cravings.
"What kind of service are you offering?" Not that he'd accept anything from someone so drunk, but he was oddly reluctant to send the sweet thing away.
The sub licked his lips in a motion more nervous than lustful. "Whatever you want, Sir."
"So if I wanted to tie you up and spank you until your ass glows like a stop light, that would be all right?"
The brunet's eyes glazed over and damned if he didn't give a full-bodied shiver. "I-if that's what you want, Sir."