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My hands clutch like claws against the window pane. The glass, frosted by Melbourne's mid-winter cold, is icy beneath my fingertips. I let the coolness seep into my flesh, grounding me. I am waiting, but he's late.
We have an arrangement, this neighbor of mine and me. At the start of every working week, late on a Sunday night while the rest of the city sleeps, we play a game. A dangerous, addictive game.
I don't even know his real name, and yet this game of ours, and his presence in my life, has grown to fill the recent emptiness. It consumes me. He consumes me, but in a good way. I am becoming whole again, thanks to this man and our seductive, secret play.
But it is half past midnight and he is not yet at his post. The window in the apartment across the narrow alleyway is still dark. The red brickwork surround is lit by a street lamp that only serves to enhance the darkness within, making the square appear fathomless. It looks like an empty eyeball socket in a skull whose soul has long departed the physical world.
A thought grips my heart and squeezes painfully. Perhaps he's grown tired of it all? Perhaps he no longer wishes to play?
A whimper slips from my lips and the resultant breath frosts the glass in front of my face, obscuring my reflection. What will I do to satisfy this insatiable need if he's not here anymore to fill the void? My shoulders slump and even though I'm reluctant to give up this lonely vigil, I am about to concede when a square of golden warmth lights the window opposite. Just like that, between one click of a switch and the next, my anxiety turns to heady excitement.
Yes! I need this. I need you.
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Roane starts with my wrists, wrapping them several times and then creating an intricate knot that sort of folds back on itself. He calls that first one a double-column tie. He continues to wrap, and even though my hands are positioned in front rather than behind and I make an effort to study what he does, I have no idea how those knots work. Even if I did, with my wrists bound together like this I have no chance of getting any of it undone.
The other end of the rope disappears up toward that pulley system near the ceiling, but at this point I’m still seated. My anxiety continues to lurk in the wings, and when he re-positions my arms in a type of prayer pose in front of my breasts and then casts a couple of larger loops around my torso, the apprehension kicks into overdrive. One of my usual coping mechanisms is to breathe slow and deep, but the loops around my chest are quite close-fitting and when my breathing starts to escalate the restriction becomes uncomfortable.
My throat is tight, and a tiny moan escapes. Why am I doing this? What do I really know about him? What if he wraps me so tight I can’t breathe? What if… I don’t think I can… Oh, my God…
“You’re doing fine, Ava. Let it out.”
Let what out?
“Focus on the rope. What does it feel like against your skin?”
Okay. I can do this. I’m strong. The rope. Focus on the rope.
I expect it to be scratchy against my skin, but it isn’t. Instead, the rope glides over the contours of my body like the caressing fingers of a lover whose sole purpose is to provide pleasure for his partner.
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By Tamsin Baker
Simone graduated from university with three important things: her degree, her virginity still intact, and a case of unrequited love to make life complete. Her professor, Patrick Smythe is everything she wants in a man.
After building up the courage to ask him out at the graduation ball, she is mortified when he rejects her. Six months later, her best friend drags her along to a BDSM club and Simone realizes why the sexy professor gave her the brush off. He’s a Dom at the club.
Patrick has never found a woman who can fulfil all of his needs in and out of the bedroom. Simone wants to be this woman, but can she succeed when they come from such different worlds?
A leather clad woman walked past them with a man on a leash and Simone’s mouth gaped open. She tried to speak and just couldn’t. She was both horrified and aroused. Heat pooled between her legs as she watched them walk away. She wanted to be cherished by someone like that. Her eyes slid up and down the people in front of her, her jaw clenching as she rejected the idea of being restricted in such a way.
The woman slid her hand over the man’s hair and tilted his face up to look at him, bending down to drop a kiss on his lips. Her eyebrows rose at the tender gesture. So maybe she didn’t want a leash and a collar, but to be loved and trusted like that would be a wonderful thing.
What was the question again? Oh yeah. “Because he didn’t want me.”
Nicola snorted inelegantly as she leaned against the black wall. “You don’t know that.”
Simone narrowed her eyes at her best friend. How would Nicola know? They’d never really talked about it.
“I do. He told me I was too innocent for someone like him. He obviously thought a virgin soon-to-be ex-student was too pitiful.”
Tears sprang to her eyes and she swallowed down the lump that had risen in her throat. When she had approached Professor Patrick Smythe at her graduation, half-intoxicated with champagne, he had turned her down flat. She had dismissed it at the time, but later she had been horrified. His rejection had sent her diving under the covers with a box of chocolates for a week.
Nicola stepped closer and slipped her warm, soft hand into Simone’s. It was reassuring and kind, reminding Simone how much she missed her friend. Between full-time work, paying bills, family commitments and keeping house, she didn’t make time to just hang out with her friends anymore. Growing up sucked sometimes.
Rhythmic tribal music was playing softly in the background and Simone found herself focusing on it as Nicola tightened her hold on her hand.
“That wasn’t the reason at all. Come with me.”
Simone’s head came up with a start and she yelped as Nicola dragged her down the hall. Where were they going now? People were everywhere, milling around a large common area with a bar and lounges. Some were standing, others were kneeling. Just about everyone was wearing leather and had piercings of some sort. One woman had what looked a type of corset on her back. The rings were piercing her skin and a black ribbon ran through them like an old fashioned corset would. It looked beautiful, though painful.
There were more red doors off the room and screams of pleasure and pain echoed throughout the club over the music. Simone flushed again and dropped her eyes. She may as well have painted “first timer” on her forehead. Ever since she had read Fifty Shades of Grey, she had been intrigued by the lifestyle, but that didn’t mean she was ready to experience it. When she had mentioned it to Nic in the course of conversation, her friend had promised to take her to a BDSM club she knew of. Never in her wildest dreams did Simone think Nic would actually do it.
Her breath caught in her throat, making her gasp. What was she doing here?
“Come on sweetie,” Nicola urged. “I really need to show you something.”
Simone tugged down the black top she had worn over black pants. Nicola had told her not to display her boobs or her knees, and to wear all black. She was there to blend into the walls, as though Simone needed to be told that. Blending in to the background was her way of life.
“Where are we going?”
Nicola grabbed her hand and tugged. “A man’s doing a scene that you just have to see.”
Simone frowned, perverse excitement and downright terror fighting each other for supremacy in her head. Her heart rate had almost doubled and a fine sheen of sweat covered her face and the back of her neck. Fear of the unknown may have won out if it weren’t for the reassuring press of her best friend’s hand in hers.
“Okay, let’s go.”
Nicola stepped over to one of the red doors and opened it. At once a wave of heat hit Simone’s face, reminding her of an intense summer’s day. The room was darker than the foyer and she blinked a few times, waiting for her eyes to adjust to the dim light.
When she could finally see well enough, she looked up to see why Nicola had been so insistent that they come into this particular room. Heat flooded her entire body, followed by a cold flush as a gasp escaped her. The man, who was the main focus of the room, was Patrick. Her ex-professor wore tight leather pants that clung to him in an almost indecent way. He was shirtless and had what looked like a flogger in his hand. He looked in control, powerful and magnificent.