She didn’t consider herself to be shy, nor did she feel like she was a prude. But this assignment was definitely going to test her. She’d been a reporter nearly half her life, for gosh sakes. Not only in high school, but she’d created– written, photographed, edited, and published– a family paper even as a kid. She smiled as she recalled those early ‘papers’–The Jennings Journal. It was pretty much a done deal that she’d be writing somewhere, somehow as an adult.
She’d covered horse shows, state fairs, city and town events, mayoral races, marathons. But this? This was a whole new chapter, something totally out of her sphere of experience. Her editor was a sneaky bitch, she mused as she peered around the room. And didn’t it give her a bit of a shiver to know that the imposing Marley Malone was a participant in this sort of thing? She shifted from foot to foot, remembering their conversation earlier this week.
“You’ll bring a fresh perspective to the topic. ” Her editor spoke crisply. “First, since my husband owns a BDSM club, I am far too close to the issue. Secondly, ever since that stupid movie came out, following on the heels of that stupid book, people have wondered if this gray lifestyle really is as was portrayed. *I* know that the lifestyle is not gray. It’s black and white, yin and yang. It’s rules and caring, pain and passion, submission and Domination. It’s communication, always. Truth and honesty, above all else. It is giving ones will, ones body to another for the subjegation of self. It’s beautiful and concrete and real. It’s messy and embarrassing, and hot as fucking hell. As you can tell, it’s a subject that I feel very strongly about.”
That was crystal clear. It came through the glow in her editor’s eyes, the way she leaned forward, scowling fiercely when disparaging that book. Opening her mouth to speak proved a waste of time. Marley was on a roll.
“The lifestyle isn’t abuse. Yet the way that movie showed it? Wrong. Just…wrong.”
“Shouldn’t you write the piece, Marley?”
Head shaking vehemently no, her boss jabbed her finger into her desk.
“No. No- I can’t. I get so mad that I just see red and would alienate everyone. People will remember that I did a piece on the club, and that I eventually married John. So…no, it will need to be presented without the bias that I’d bring to the piece. I want your take on it. I’m inside the scene, and while I know I’m not involved in an abusive relationship, many who read that book or saw that movie would make that leap. He, that idiot, took without getting he’s subs express consent. He was little more than an insecure stalker. A rich stalker, but still, he used her, abused her. This is not how it works, Randi.”
Miranda had never been called anything other than Miranda her whole life. Her parents weren’t the type to give pet names or nick names. It never failed to surprise her each time Marley used it.
Rising from her desk, taking up her tea-cup, the senior editor stomped across the office, annoyance in every step. She flipped on the light as she opened the small closet where her mini-kitchen lived. There was the splatter of the dregs of the cup were tossed into the sink, the hiss of the spray as she rinsed the mug. A quick flick of her finger turned on the electric tea kettle. Her head turned, glancing over her shoulder to where Miranda sat, uncertain if she was being asked, or being told to pursue this story.
“I have spoken to John about this–he laughs it off–but he did consent to having you pop over to the club. He’ll give you a tour, or if he’s busy, have one of the staff do it.”
Oh. So she was being told to do the story. She wondered how that would look on her resume…Did a story on BDSM as consensual and not a subversive war on feminism.
Yup. She’d sandwich that line right in there over ‘cleaned toilets at the Burger Hut’. Which could be her next job if this went wrong. And yet…look at Marley. Power, pure and elemental–the confident woman, writer, editor, with her own office, her own electric tea kettle for gosh shake! Writing her own version of the lifestyle several years ago had done wonders for her career–and likely her sex life too, since she’d met her future husband there.
She shouldn’t be thinking about that. Her editors sex life was none of her business. Except for the story it kind of was. Ew. Well, she’d have to work around that.
BDSM as safe and non-abusive. She could work with that.
She still didn’t really remember how Marley had gotten her out of the office and into her car. Yet here she was, notepad in hand, spare pen in her breast pocket, sans geeky plastic protector. She didn’t care who was naked in there. She was not going to be one of them. It didn’t matter if she was the only person there in clothing. She’d have no problem being the odd duck. There was no naked in her future.
All thoughts of naked vanished when John Malone entered the room. Or perhaps they were just transformed into instant “OH WOW”. The man was a god. And he was dressed. In jeans and white tee-shirt, his arms were corded with muscles…yet his belly wasn’t flat. His hair was salted with white, his face creased with years. Still, he exuded an incredible sex appeal that was ageless. Looking up at him, and way up at that, her mouth opened, closed. She swallowed.
“Yeah, I have that effect on people,” he chuckled, taking her arm. “And no, I’m not descended from giants. Just Swedes.” Tucking her hand into the crook of his arm, he turned and took her into the club. The space in this first room was big, bigger than she’d thought, and brighter than she’d expected. Dungeons reminded one of dark dank unpleasant places. Though this place could be unpleasant if any of those things on the walls were actually used…she shook her head. No. No one really whipped people during these sorts of “play” times. Did they? Yet her research last night (and the astonishing array of porn portraying sadism) indicated that “they” certainly did.
The windows sparkled with sunlight, danced across a rack that held a variety of paddles. A room full of light, illuminating things of sexual darkness. Her eyes caught sight of an anomoly.
“Is that a…ping pong paddle?” She asked, looking around for a table.
He caught the look, and laughed again. Taking down the green-rubberized paddle, he swished it through the air. It made an impressive sound.
“Well, it is indeed, and I’m certainly a master at using it.” His smile hinted at something both dark and fascinating. “Now,” he continued, that smile making her nervous for some unknown reason, “If I were in that movie that pisses Marley off? I’d go all gray on you and not ask for your consent before I did this.”
His hand whipped out, arcing in a circle that drew a whistling breath of air. It took a full five seconds before the impact of the blow on her bottom was realized by her brain. He laughed as she jolted, yelped.
“See? That’s the sort of thing that is wrong about that story. We don’t do that here.” He hung the paddle up.
“All evidence to the contrary,” she mumbled, making him snort out another laugh.
“See? There was nothing seductive, or enticing about that.”
Before he could continue, a woman appeared on a landing above them.
“Sir? James is on the phone for you, and refused to let me take a message.”
“I’ll be up in a moment. Stubborn prick,” he murmured under his breath.
“Randi, I’ve got to take this, and it will be a while. Please look around and touch everything you want to…especially if it’s a warm body.”
He laughed as her eyes widened.
“Kidding. One of my guys will be along in a while. I’ll see if one of them is available to finish our tour. We need to set aside some time for a conversation about dominance and submission–you should come to dinner on Saturday. A group of us get together and munch and talk shop.”
With that, he all but leapt up the stairs and was gone. She was amused, annoyed, and a bit bereft. He filled up space, that man. The air, which had been electric in his presence, calmed. She rubbed her ass where he’d struck with the paddle. There was heat there, to be sure. But to do this for fun? Uhm. No. Taking a last look up the stairs where Mr. Malone had gone, she steadied herself. Time to remember that she was here as an investigative reporter. Squeezing her pad in her hand, she took a calming breath. Well, it was time to get on with it and really look at these…these…what had Marley called them?
Tools of ass destruction. Right.
Shaking her head at the folly of such “fun” she strode across the wide open space.
“She’s a looker. Nice ass. Acceptable tits.”
“It’s not about tits and ass, you ass.”
“It’s always about the tits and ass. Like I said, acceptable. We are a floor up, you know. I can tell more when I’ve introduced myself.”
“Which you should go do. Soon.”
“Soon. I want to see what she’s drawn to on the Wall of Pain.”
From behind the one-way glass, the two men fist-bumped, then returned to watching the curious woman below. Unaware that she was the topic of scrutiny, she made her way to the crops, fingers stroking down a shorter one, from which hung a series of leather cords.
“And that’s my cue. You owe me ten bucks, too.”