She gave a fruitless tug at the dealership door. She’d had no idea that Fred’s Acura closed this early. On the east coast, most car places were open until 9. Yet another reminder that she was out of the megalopolis, and deep in the heartland. It dawned on her as she stood there staring off into the distance, that she had no way to get back home. She’d dropped off the rental van, walked here in the gusting winds. Last nights rain had blown through like a wild thing, leaving branches on her back deck, and debris along her walkway. She’d worked through the sunshine-bright day, attempting to create some sort of order to her home. Unfortunately, the day spent moving things up and down, in and out of rooms made her lose track of time. Shock registered when she checked her cell phone. How could it be that late already? She’d barely gotten the van back before she would have had to pay for another day, which would have annoyed her.
Except now she had no car. Her home was more than ten miles away from here at least, and unlike her former east-coast life, there were no taxi’s on every corner. A rumble from the distance made her look up at the sky. Of course. Going along with the rest of her suddenly fucked-up afternoon, deep purple and gray clouds boiled ever closer, filling her with foreboding. Turning from the dealership and walking quickly up the street, a gust pushed her forward as the smell of wet slapped the back of her head.
“No…” she moaned, throwing a glance over her shoulder and seeing the wall of water bearing down on her. Why was this happening now? Why hadn’t she found out when Fred closed? Or gotten his cell phone number. Surely he’d…
A drop about the size of a softball landed with a hard sploosh on her head. In moments the deluge engulfed her. She stood, soaked to the skin, arms outstretched in disbelief. A step forward, she thought, then another. She didn’t even know how she was going to get food without a car. Above her head, a blinking light buzzed to life, the blue beer sign a welcome beacon. Fuck it. She’d dine on bar food tonight, and figure out the rest later. Dripping, trying to shake off some of the damp that had seeped into her pores, she slid into the warmth of the bar.
He blinked when she walked in. She looked like a drowned rat, actually, but he knew her body, recognized the tits, the face, the fuck you attitude. And her mouth. Hell yes, her mouth.
She took a seat at the bar. He wondered how long it would be before her surroundings began to have an impact. Though, looking around, he saw that some of the more extreme people who frequented Spreaders weren’t there yet. Glancing at his watch, he saw it was early, and those sweet freaks wouldn’t arrive for several hours yet. He’d pay good money to watch her face see some of them arrive. Caleb felt a tug on his arm. Franci stood there, corset-clad. The petite former blonde now sported bright pink hair. He smiled, shaking his head. The things women did to their hair these days amazed him.
“Yesss?” He drawled.
“Master wants to speak with you.”
“I’ll be up in a moment.”
“nu-uh, Sir,” she said, hooking her small hand around his arm. “He said that I had to personally bring you. You don’t want me to get punished do you?”
“I don’t know…do you?”
“Sir!” she giggled. “You know Master doesn’t treat punishments as fun.” Her hand covered her left butt cheek. “I’ll pass…and bring you along, if you will, Sir.”
With a last glance towards Tits New York, he acquiesced.
He slid into the open seat beside her, clad in the tightest leather pants she’d ever seen a man in before. You had to give the guy credit. He was well put together, the pants accenting every muscle in his thighs. The boots made him look as though he’d stepped out of one of those Gorian books her brother had oogled and hidden between his mattresses during their teen years. He leaned his elbow back on the bar and made no secret of oogling her. She waited him out, but when he didn’t speak, just sat there with that smirk on his face, she knew she would be forced into conversation. He was pretty…but not as pretty as he pictured himself, she thought. Wouldn’t hearing that just prick his ego?
“Why are you staring at me?”
“Haven’t seen a prettier drowned rat in here in a good long while.”
She sighed. She likely did look like a drowned rat, but talk about a backhanded compliment.
“Well, your little city closes early, trapping citizens like me in deluges…one takes refuge where one can.”
“Well, that’s music to my ears, little one.”
“Beg your pardon?”
“mmm, I like begging too…”
She would have rolled her eyes, but at that moment, a large woman in a small corset walked in, holding a silver leash. At the other end was a man clad in nothing more than what appeared to be a wire harness around his cock and balls, and a collar. He had obviously been holding the now collapsed umbrella over her as she was dry, and he very much was not. Rain ran in rivulets over his well muscled torso, dripped off the harness, darkened his flowing mane of hair. She was struck by his pared-to-basics utter beauty.
And, oh, fuck. She was in one of those bars. She’d covered the scene before for the magazine she worked at, before publishing her novel. It certainly had its thrill, but she didn’t feel a connection to knifes and whips and chains herself. She’d suspected her brother maybe hung at one of these places, but not her. Nope. Not her thing.
“Look…I don’t really belong here. Truth is, I was supposed to pick up a car from the place behind you–”
He picked up her hand, played with her fingers. She was still in New York mode. Tugging her fingers away, she muttered a quick “stop that!”
He stroked a finger down her arm rubbing at the rain-moist skin of her wrist.
“I do like my women….wet.”
She did roll her eyes at that lame double entendre.
“Look, I just need to get home. Is there a cab I can call?”
“Miss, your order is up. Leo, leave the girl alone.”
The barkeep slid a plate with steaming pizza slices on it, and a beverage in front of her. Her stomach rumbled.
“I could take you home,” began Leo.
The barkeep gave him a warning glare, and Leo reluctantly slid from the stool. He paused behind Alexandra, his finger running down her spine as his voice husked into her ear.
“Let me know if I can help you out.”
She took a bite of her pizza as he moved off into the crowd.
“Thanks,” she nodded at the barkeep, whose name badge she could barely read in the dim light said “Claire”.
“You’re pretty big for a ‘Claire’,” she murmured.
“nah, it’s E-Clair… because I’m soft and quishy inside and covered in dark chocolate.” His laugh boomed over her. She laughed with him, then wondered if the soft and squishy referred to his sentimental heart…or some BDSM-euphemism. Still, he exuded a quiet strong comfort.
“Do you know where I can find a cab? I live a long way out of here, and the car place next door is closed and I’m kind of stuck…”
“Old Fred had a family emergency. His son’s wife went into labor a few weeks earlier than she was supposed to, so he took his wife on up there to take care of the other little ones while their boy stays at the hospital with his wife and baby.”
She wasn’t surprised that everyone seemed to know everyone else’s business. It was part of what had drawn her to rural America after all. Still.
“Wherebout’s you live, honey?”
She gave her address.
“Yo! Caleb,” he hollered.
Caleb was likely a popular name around here, she supposed, but with a sinking heart, she saw that it was indeed her neighbor who approached, lips pulled back into a wide smile.
“I had no idea you were into this sort of thing little one. Domme or sub?”
She blinked. Dom? As in Dominant in the partnership? No. Sub? As in submissive? Nor that, not ever in her life. Her head shook frantically long before her mouth could open to frame a response.
“I got stranded here, that’s all. I was hungry and saw the beer sign outside. No car.”
“Fred,” said E-claire helpfully.
“Aaah, ‘splains a lot. Still.” He cocked his head to one side, looking her over. Her wet shirt clung to her body, clearly delineating not only her bra, but the hazy brown outline of her areola. He doubted she even realized it, yet. He’d be sure to point it out to her later. The grin spread across his face as hers blushed at his frank scrutiny.
“Why not take a picture, neighbor boy?”
She rolled her eyes at him.
“Round here, speaking rudely to a Dom like me could get you a spanking.”
“You wouldn’t dare!”
“Hell I wouldn’t.”
“He gives a really good spanking. You’d love it, guaranteed!” This from a pink-haired pixie that had joined the circle forming around them.
“Hey, are you picking on my woman?” Leo slid up behind Alexandra, running a proprietary hand over her shoulder and hugging her to him.
“I thought I told you,” began E-claire, but a quick jab to the ribs by Alex had Leo stepping away.
“Hey, Little girl, that sort of thing is definitely punishable. Since I’m the Dom who first took you under my wing, you’re mine.”
He turned, glaring at Caleb.
“Mine.” He repeated it forcefully.
Caleb raised a brow. He knew Alexandra wasn’t a lifestyler, or if she was into it, was very new. The last thing she needed was to get caught up in the trappings of a dominant like Leo, who had a reputation of not being careful with his toys. He’d tried twice to get him expelled, but that hadn’t happened as yet.
She was annoyed. She was wet and all she wanted was to eat her fucking pizza in peace. Her ex had called her a frigid bitch, and maybe she was. All she knew was that anger was sizzing just below the surface, the product of all this drama that she hadn’t even started. She surged to her feet, shrugging off the arm around her shoulders. Water droplets from her hair flew as she shook her head. She pointed to the people around her. Her voice dripped icicles.
“Listen up. I’m going to sit here and eat my fucking pizza. I’m going to do it alone. I don’t want to play your stupid games, I don’t want to be poked, prodded, or pulled around the room on a leash. I want my fucking pizza. That’s it. Capiche?”
She sat down. There was a murmur around her, but she didn’t look at any of them. Picking up her pizza, she took another large mouthful, staring at the ball game on the television over the bar, chewing firmly. Her hand shook with suppressed rage. She wanted to go home. She wanted her fucking car. She wanted food in her house, her computer set up, and about 27 hours of sleep. Muscles were beginning to tighten from her unusual physical activity of the last few days. She wasn’t a work-outer. She liked to walk. Walking was nice. Moving furniture and boxes all over her new house? Definitely not in her usual repertoire. Shifting her shoulders, the cold slap of her wet blouse against her back made her shiver. Something warm was draped over her.
“Let me know when you’re ready to go. I’ll take you home.”
His voice was deep, calm, soothing. Still outraged, she might have shrugged off the heavy cape that he’d covered her with, but the warmth was too divine. And he’d have to go home eventually, too. This neighbor thing was turning out to be a huge pain in the butt.
A huge, sexy, incredibly magnetic pain in her butt.
She went back to eating her pizza, ignoring the rise of her nipples as Caleb moved away. She watched his ass, not noticing that someone was watching her watching. E-claire smiled to himself. Things were sure to get interesting around here. Course, he could have offered the woman a ride home since he lived on the other side of Caleb, but this was going to play out just fine.
He went back to polishing glasses.