She was honest enough with herself to know she’d used him in the beginning. He knew it also and was unbothered by it. She cared about him now. In a lot of ways, he was her best friend. Theirs was an odd friendship to be sure, but it worked for both parties.
“A friend of mine who owns a private club has invited us both to attend an intimate gathering in three nights’ time. ”
She frowned. “What kind of private club and what kind of intimate gathering?”
He flashed that lazy grin. “You know very well what kind of club. You aren’t stupid, Ren. ”
“Have I met this friend?”
He shook his head. “The last time I saw him was right before I left for Vegas the time you and I met. ”
“And what are we supposed to …do …at this intimate gathering?”
He touched her then. Smoothed his hand up her arm, a gesture meant to reassure her. And it did.
“You know very well I’m not into public displays of dominance. I sense you aren’t either, though we’ve never really discussed it. I’ve been blunt about the fact I find it distasteful and we’ve adhered to my wishes on the subject. But tell me, Ren, does the idea of being played with in front of others turn you on?”
She wrinkled her nose. “What we do isn’t playing, Lucas. It’s not a game. And it’s …private. At least to the extent of it not being a public spectacle. Is that what your friend wants?”
She knew that it was a particular kink of Lucas’s to watch while another man fucked the woman he owned. He’d told her about his past submissives and how turned on he was by watching another man not only possess her but command her.
Interestingly enough, he’d never invited another man to fuck her, and Ren couldn’t decide if she was happy or disappointed. She wouldn’t lie. In some ways the idea titillated her and made all her girly parts tingle. There was something extremely naughty and forbidden about having the man who owned you give you to another man to do with as he wished.
A shiver went up her spine and she decided that yes, the idea did turn her on. It turned her on very much. But the public display of mastery? Not so much. It reeked of showmanship. Of some fake, hyped-up display of testosterone that did nothing for her. She loved the quiet relationship she shared with Lucas.
“No, I don’t think that’s what he wants at all. I think what he wants is our company for the evening. He’s a lot like I am. We share a lot of the same tastes but perhaps he’s a little more possessive than I am when it comes to his woman. ”
Both her brows rose at that and Lucas smiled. “He doesn’t share his woman under any circumstance. I find I don’t mind if the situation is right. ”
“So he wants our company, but he wants us to come to his club,” she said slowly. “Why not invite us to dinner? Or out for drinks?”
Lucas shrugged. “For the same reason I entertain guests at my clubs. We’re both private people and as such I’m sure he’s as picky about who he allows into his sanctuary as I am. It’s a neutral place and yet perhaps more intimate than a restaurant or a bar. ”
“If you wish me to accompany you, you know that I will. ”
He nodded. “I know this. But I’d like to know if you have a desire to go or if you will go only because you think it pleases me. ”
Her brow furrowed. This didn’t sound like Lucas. He was a man who commanded. He was arrogant. Not obnoxiously so, but he was very comfortable wearing the mantle of authority. He expected obedience. He’d never been particularly concerned with whether she truly wished to accompany him someplace.
It made him sound like an unfeeling bastard. It wasn’t so. If she wasn’t feeling well or was busy with work, he didn’t expect her to accommodate his wishes. He was very good at picking up on her moods and her health. He often knew before she did when she was getting sick.
He took excellent care of her. She had no complaint there. But if there was no solid reason for her to be unable to attend something he wished her to be present for, she went. He didn’t offer her a choice.
“I don’t know that I have a preference one way or the other,” she said honestly. “You know I love to please you. I don’t know this friend, so obviously I have no investment in seeing him. I suppose if there is kinky sex to view that might entice me to be more eager to go. ”
She finished with a small grin and he laughed, shaking his head.
“I love how uninhibited you are and how unapologetic you are about loving sex. I wonder if you even know how desirable it makes you in my eyes. There is something intensely sexy about a strong woman who’s confident in her sexuality and furthermore celebrates it. ”
Her cheeks grew hot at the uncharacteristic praise. His eyes were warm and he seemed so mellow today. It made her want to please him even more.
“Then we should go. You never know. Maybe we’ll learn something new and can practice it after we return home,” she said cheekily.
He pulled her into his side and stroked his hand down her back and down to cup her ass. She loved that he frequently touched her. And not just touched her but was possessive about it. He often did so in public, like he was telling the world that she belonged to him. That he was proud she belonged to him.
With his other hand, he absently ran a finger over the platinum collar around her neck. Then he slid his finger between it and her skin and pulled her forcefully forward until their mouths were a mere breath apart.
He kissed her, savaging her mouth until her lips were swollen and tender. After a moment, he removed his hand and carefully eased her away.
“We’ll go. I’ll buy something new for you to wear. I have something killer in mind. I may not want to demonstrate my authority over you in public, but I want every male in the place to look at you with lust in their eyes and know that you belong to me. ”
She smiled because she loved it when he got all growly and possessive. He oftern took her to his clubs and for all practical purposes he kept her on a leash. There wasn’t a person in the club who couldn’t clearly see his stamp of possession all over her.
And for her part, she didn’t give a damn who knew the nature of their relationship. She felt no shame whatsoever for anyone to know that she served Lucas in all aspects and that she looked to him for absolute protection and care.
“Now let’s go eat. You need a break and I’ve encroached on your private quarters long enough. Afterward I feel a distinct need to fuck you for the entire afternoon. ”
Damon laced his fingers through Serena’s and brought her hand to his lips. It seemed such a natural action and Cole wondered if Damon even knew how frequently he touched and kissed his wife. It was done absently as if the habit was so strong he did it without realizing.
Serena was dressed tonight. Cole had noticed that since Serena’s belly had begun to swell and the evidence of her pregnancy was so clearly visible that Damon had clamped down, almost as if he wanted no one but himself to see his pregnant wife.
Before, it was a common sight for Cole to come into The House when Damon was present and see Serena spread, waiting for the kiss of the flogger. Often Cole prepared her for Damon, clamping her or tying her in various positions.
But these days, no one but Damon touched her, and he’d become intensely private about putting his lover on display. He damn sure hadn’t so much as touched her with anything but the most gentle of hands since the start of her pregnancy. He showered her with affection both in public and in private. Cole wondered if having a child would alter Damon’s practices on a permanent basis.
In fact, were it not for Damon having invited Lucas and Ren and wanting Serena to act as his social hostess, Cole doubted Serena would even be at The House. The further Serena got into her pregnancy, the more protective Damon became of her. He himself didn’t spend very much time at The House these days. He left the running to his manager and gave Cole leeway to oversee as he pleased.
Cole shoved his hands into his expensive
slacks and looked at the entrance to the social room for the hundredth time since he’d arrived. Damon had assured him that Lucas had accepted his invitation and that he would be present, but Cole’s impatience was a living, breathing demon within him.
“Cool it, man,” Damon murmured beside him. “Go get a drink. Relax. Have you even given a thought to what you’ll say? You don’t want to cause an awkward scene. I don’t think that’s the impression you want to make when you haven’t seen her in so many years. And it wouldn’t do to insult Lucas. A submissive is quite protective of their master. If she feels you’re disrespecting Lucas, it could go badly. ”
“I know all of that,” Cole said. “I may have been stupid once. But—”
Damon held up a hand in apology. “I have every faith in your knowledge, Cole. Or I would have never trusted you with what I treasure most in the world. ”
Cole turned, taking Damon’s suggestion that he go collect a drink and calm the fuck down. He wasn’t used to the wildness of his emotional state. He was calm. He lived his life in a calm, reflective manner. Nothing rattled him.
She alone had the power to unhinge him.
He picked up a glass of wine and brought it to his mouth. The flavor was excellent. Damon had very good tastes. Expensive tastes.
He sighed and turned around, his gaze taking in the room once more. And then he froze.
Lucas Holt stood in the doorway, Ren at his side.
Cole drank in the sight of her. He couldn’t look away. While she’d always been beautiful, she’d grown into a gorgeous, mature woman who lacked the slight edge of youth to her features.
She was petite—she’d always been a small thing—barely reaching Lucas’s shoulder. Her shiny black hair was flowing over her shoulders and down her back, wild and beautiful like her.
And her eyes. The slight lilt at the corners signified her half-Korean heritage, but they weren’t dark. Instead they were a lush green with flecks of warm brown swirled until they became an unusual shade. They were vibrant, almost glowing, even across the distance.
She was so perfect she made him ache.
His gaze wandered over her as Lucas made his way toward Damon. She wore tight jeans that molded to her slim hips and ass. Low slung so that her belly button ring was bared and winked daringly at him.
Her top was barely much at all. She wore no bra and the silky material of her top clung to the generous swells of her breasts. It tied around her neck and completely bared her back and that tattoo Cole was so intimately familiar with. He’d taken her to have the ink done. To mark the occasion of her eighteenth birthday.
She smiled at Damon as Lucas introduced her. She sparkled. There was no other word for her. She wore a vivacious, confident smile. Not once did she look around to see if others were watching her or were curious about her. She was focused entirely on Lucas.
Jealousy knotted Cole’s gut. He hated that feeling. It was irrational. Jealousy was a stupid, pointless emotion that never brought anything but more frustration and a sense of helplessness. It wasn’t something he was familiar with. Until now.
He wanted her to look at him that way. She had once. She’d looked at him as though he were the only man in the world.
Why had she sought out a relationship like this? Cole hadn’t imagined that she’d ever want any part of the lifestyle. He had botched things so badly with Ren. He’d been nothing more than a boy playing at being someone’s keeper. He’d abused her trust and it was something that still ate at him to this day.
Damon glanced his way, but Cole was still rooted to the spot, unable to move as he stared at Ren. He suddenly felt unsure and he hated that feeling above all others.
He considered himself a confident man. He’d been successful early in life, driven by ambition that certainly couldn’t be attributed to insecurity. His only missteps had been with Ren, and maybe that was why he was now faced with hesitancy.
Ren and Lucas moved away from Damon. Lucas put his hand to Ren’s bare back and shot her a quick look of affection—and approval. Then he directed her toward the bar. Exactly where Cole was standing, staring at the only woman to ever fully capture his heart.
Ren glanced around the room, a little surprised by how posh and …sedate …it looked. It was like attending any other cocktail party. Who would even know that this place was devoted to sexual practices that didn’t fall into the traditional realm.
Damon and his wife had been exceedingly gracious. Serena was elegant and most definitely submissive, but it was obvious that Damon adored her. And truly there was nothing more attractive to her than a man who clearly adored his woman.
“What would you like to drink, Ren?” Lucas asked.
She blinked and turned back from her perusal of the room. It was then she saw him, standing just a few feet away, his blue eyes burning into her. She stared back in shock, in awareness. Even after so many years, her heart leapt and her skin tingled in remembrance.