Okay, I’m technically not a virgin, but I can hardly call myself a sexual sophisticate when I lost it at fourteen at a party and he only lasted two pumps. Two pumps that did nothing for me. Less than nothing, actually, because it kind of felt yucky. Now I’m twenty and I haven’t felt like repeating such an anti-climactic—bad, awful pun—experience.
But is Dom Fitness even about sex? I was too afraid to ask anyone at the office what they thought, because maybe that’s something I should know already, and they’d only laugh at me even more. I already floated the idea of researching Dom Fitness from afar. I could do a phone interview with one of the trainers. Read the material on their website. But oh, no. Suzanna grinned from ear to ear as she gave the office frigid the assignment. “Amelia, you need the full, hands-on experience. Now, off you go.”
Everyone calls me the office frigid just because I didn’t know what a blowjob was. Apparently, it’s not “blowing gently on a man’s genitals.” My answer to that dumb online quiz went around the office so fast it broke the land speed record.
I glance nervously at the muscular receptionist. Everything looks normal from here, but are there whips, paddles and handcuffs festooning the workout areas? Are people going to be actually having sex on the workout equipment? Shuddering, I push through the front doors and go inside. If I chicken out, I’ll never live it down at the office, and my three-month review is coming up. Suzanna has already told me several times she needs me to be more adventurous. I need this job. This job keeps me in art supplies, and painting is the only thing that I really want to do with my life. It doesn’t pay the bills yet, but hopefully one day it will. The only thing is, my motivation to paint has gone AWOL since the incident.
But I can’t think about that now or I’ll cry, scream, or both.
Inside Dom Fitness, the décor’s not too bad. It’s not aggressively masculine or a brightly-colored assault on the senses like some gyms I’ve seen. Dom Fitness is minimal and modern in shades of white and silver, and it smells good, too. Clean and fresh rather than ripe with the odor of stale sweat and disinfectant. There’s a cute smoothie bar, where several well-dressed gym-goers are sipping protein shakes. Normal so far.
Across the front desk is written, No judgment. Only results.
I wrinkle my nose a little at that. Oh, I’m going to be judging. Even if it’s all in my head, I’m going to be judging the hell out of this place. Combining BDSM and fitness sounds like a terrible idea to me.
My best bet to get in and out of here quickly is to charm the receptionist into letting me take a quick look around the premises, and then I’ll high-tail it back to the office.
“Hi!” I say brightly to the huge man. I see from his name tag he’s called Joshua. “Joshua. Lovely to meet you.”
Joshua’s gaze is steely, and doesn’t return my smile. “Good morning. May I help you?”
I hesitate. Aren’t receptionists supposed to be friendly? Slightly disconcerted, I hurry on. “I’m Amelia from Hotbed and I’m here to do a piece on the gym. My editor said she’d been in contact with the owner. Maybe you heard I was coming…? Um. Anyway, I don’t want to be a bother. If you could just swipe me through, I’ll take a look around and get out of your hair.”
Joshua passes me a clipboard and pen. “All new members are to fill out the questionnaire and agree to the rules.”
I hold up my hands in protest. “Uh—no. I’m not applying for membership. I just want to take a look around.”
Joshua’s eyes narrow. “Due to the nature of the activities at Dom Fitness, nobody gets in unless they’re a member and have agreed to the rules. Please fill out the questionnaire.”
I glance at the questions. They’re all statements that you can rate on a scale of one to ten.
I admire and respond to authority figures.
Being humiliated is motivation to improve myself.
I feel myself choke, and I look up at Joshua in panic. “Look, I’m a professional, and I’m here to do a story. Can I please just meet some of your trainers and maybe talk to one or two of your clients, if they’re willing? Then I’ll be on my way.”
Joshua regards me in silence, raking me from my high ponytail to the tips of my sneakers. “Oh, you’re a special case, are you?”
There’s barely any inflection in his tone, but I don’t like the way he says that. “Well… I don’t want a fuss made, but maybe I am a special case? I’m not a real client, after all.”