Authors: Tara Crescent
A Starlet in Venice (A BDSM Romance Novel)
By Tara Crescent
Text copyright © 2014 Tara Crescent
All Rights Reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the author. The only exception is by a reviewer, who may quote short excerpts in a review.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
My eternal gratitude to Jim, who pre-read and edited this novel. Thanks to Alannah who fact-checked my Irish references, and to Anne, who helped me write the perfect blurb for this story.
Cover Design by James, GoOnWrite.com.
I looked at the woman who’d just been unceremoniously bundled into my hands. She was masked, but the tears trickled down her cheeks and she couldn’t seem to stop weeping.
For fuck’s sake, Antonio,
I thought irritably. Sure, Antonio Moretti was a good boss, but since when did it become my job to clean up his women problems? Because this woman he just shoved my way was Tatiana Cordova, widely rumoured through all of Venice to be his mistress. And Antonio had taken off in search of Lucia Petrucci.
It appeared that it was my job to explain to this woman that her lover had just replaced her.
I muttered another curse at Antonio, but I had three sisters, and I was a sucker for a crying woman. “Come with me,” I said gently to her. I placed my hand in the small of her back and steered her outside. We walked on the narrow cobblestone streets in the darkness, with moonlight intermittently shining down on her face, making each tear look like a sparkling diamond.
I stayed with her while she cried, and I could tell the precise moment her composure returned. I watched her shoulders straighten and her walls come up.
For some reason, the walls bothered me. I wanted to tear them down and find the woman underneath, the sweet, forlorn woman that I’d ached to comfort, because I could only bear to see a woman cry in a session. Never outside.
“He’s just a guy, you know?” I said in Italian. “Time heals all wounds.”
She removed the mask and shook her long blonde hair free, giving me a puzzled look as she did so. “I’m missing something here,” she replied in fluent English. “What are you talking about?”
Oh fuck. Did I have to tell her she’d been replaced by Lucia Petrucci? Heaven help me, I didn’t want her to cry again. Or was she just pretending, putting on a proud face while falling apart inside? That, I understood. My sisters were exactly the same way. You cried privately. In public, you were stone and ice and untouchable.
“Antonio,” I tried again. “In the end, he’s just a guy. We all are. Nothing special, nothing unique.”
Her sapphire blue eyes sparkled with merriment. “You think I’m in tears because of Antonio and Lucia?” Her lips twitched. “I’m delighted for the two of them.”
“Really?” I sounded completely skeptical.
“Really,” she assured me.
“Then you’ll have no problem having dinner with me tomorrow night?” I challenged her, and the merriment faded from her eyes.
“Liam Callahan, right?” she asked. “The manager at Casanova?”
So she knew who I was.
“Let me be blunt with you, Liam,” she said. “Men solicit sex from me all the time. You can’t imagine how tiresome it is. So if you want to fuck me, you might as well skip the dinner and the fancy talk, and just come on out and tell me what you want. It’ll save us both some time.”
“What if I don’t want to have sex with you?” I asked her. “What if I just want to have dinner?”
She looked completely disbelieving, and with reason. Tatiana Cordova had a body that was made for sex, beautiful and lush and soft. I was lying when I when I told her I didn’t want to sleep with her. But I also wanted something more. “You know what I do for a living,” I started, and she nodded.
“In that case,” I said. “You’ll understand that sex is just as easy for me as it is for you.” An unreadable expression flashed across her face at that sentence, illuminated by the moon coming out from behind a cloud. “I want something I can’t get at Casanova.”
“Antonio assures me you can get anything at Casanova.” Her voice was rich with humour and slight mockery.
I smiled at her tone. “Almost anything,” I replied. “I just want someone to hang out with. Dinner. Friendship. Conversation. Nothing more. I miss normal human interaction.” Five years of constantly available sex, and I ached for something, anything else.
Her eyes softened. “Dinner,” she said quietly, “tomorrow night. Dinner and conversation, I can do. As for friendship? We’ll see.”
As I thought about the words I’d said to Liam, a year ago, on the Ponta di Rialto, my voice steadfast and my face illuminated by the light of the moon shining down on us, I cursed, not for the first time. Because in the intervening year, Liam had become one of my closest friends, a kind, steady and supportive presence in my life.
And I’d fallen in love with him.
But he was the manager at Casanova, a BDSM sex club, where women were plentiful and somewhat interchangeable, and sex was always on offer, and I was a woman who had never had an orgasm during intercourse. I was Liam’s friend, valuable only because of the relative rarity of what I offered. Friendship, companionship and conversation, without a sexual undercurrent to our interaction. The moment I slept with him, I would break something that we had, and I didn’t think we would be able to go back.
I wanted him with painful longing. I couldn’t have him.
I’d flown in from filming, tired and sleep-deprived. As usual, I pulled out my phone and texted Liam.
‘Back in town,’
He always replied quickly. ‘
You’ve eaten, rabbit?’
No, I hadn’t eaten; I was a lousy cook and I’d been away for three weeks. There was nothing resembling food in my apartment. I’d intended to grab something on my way to his place.
‘Good, I cooked dinner. Let yourself in and eat, rabbit. I’m working but I’ll be done at midnight.’
He’d taken to calling me
in his teasing tone, and my heart clenched as I read his message, as it did every single time. Though I was exhausted and bone weary and I should have declined, I didn’t want to be alone tonight.
Liam lived in the penthouse of the
that housed Casanova. He’d given me the security code many months ago, and I punched it in, entering the lobby. I usually took the elevators right upstairs, straight to his apartment, never stopping at the club that exuded sex and luxury and sin from its every pore. Today though, my emotions were lurching all over the place. “Can I peek?” I asked the guards at the door. I knew Killian and Niall well; we’d hung out and watched football games together.
Killian raised his eyebrow in surprise. Niall hid it better. “You got to surrender your phone,” he warned. “And pick a wristband.”
Who was I, top or bottom? If I chose to be dominant, I’d pick a black wristband. If I was submissive, I’d pick the blue one. Tonight, I was neither. I was a voyeur, watching the man I loved from the shadows. “Grey,” I replied, picking the colour of the observer. I knew the conventions of Casanova well enough, though I’d never entered the place.
Killian grinned at me. “You want us to tell the boss you are visiting?” His question was unexpectedly perceptive. Was it so obvious? Did I really wear my heart on my sleeve, and were my emotions so transparent? I would have thought I was a better actor than that.
I acted now. I laughed and winked and pretended like I didn’t care whether Liam knew I was in the club or not. “Let’s surprise him,” I said lightly.
“The boss doesn’t like surprises,” Niall said but he stood aside, and for the first time, I entered Casanova.
It hadn’t been some sense of prudery that had kept me away from Venice’s most exclusive BDSM club. It had been my utter certainty that my heart couldn’t survive watching Liam touch another woman. That, and an instinctive panic when I watched a woman, tied-up and struggling with her bonds.
Tonight though? Tonight my heart was already flayed and torn, and I was masochistic in my search for more pain.
I found it in the basement, outfitted as a stereotypically creepy BDSM dungeon, with whips and chains and a giant St Andrews Cross. There, underneath the spotlights, with darkness threatening to creep in from every side, Liam stood, his sleeves rolled up to show his strong forearms. He had a whip in his hand, and a beautiful, kneeling brunette at his feet.
“Are you ready for your punishment, Simona?” I heard him ask. I was used to hearing him ask me questions in that same amused, indulgent, relaxed tone, and in that instant, I felt so very, very interchangeable.
I should have averted my eyes; I should have run away.
Any other day, I would have. Tonight, I stayed and forced myself to watch the man I loved look at another woman with attention, as if she
. I leaned against the wall in a darkened corner and watched.
“Are you ready for your punishment, Simona?”
I’d never seen anyone get punished. From talking to Lucia and Alice, I had learned enough about BDSM to know that the activities at Casanova were completely consensual, and while there was plenty of pain on offer, there was never any danger. Every room had cameras, and security staff were everywhere.
But the idea of punishment still disconcerted me. And if I were a therapist, I’d deduce that it was an obvious holdover from growing up at the orphanage, where beatings were plentiful and pain was never far away. Not with the belt for the girls, but I’d watched Antonio and Enzo get flayed repeatedly for the slightest of infractions, and those memories had stayed with me.
I’d asked them about it once, if they thought the dominance was some kind of way to make up for past helplessness. Antonio had shrugged. He was ruthless about living in the present. Enzo had looked thoughtful, but in the end, he too hadn’t provided a definitive answer. “Maybe,” he had said finally. “But it’s not about pain, it’s about control.”
Intellectually, I understood that. But in the present, there was a wall of whips, and Liam was walking over and surveying them, deciding which one to use on the girl kneeling next to the St. Andrews Cross. At this moment, it was hard to believe that this was about anything other than pain.
Liam spoke to the girl and she answered, a quick exchange about safe words that made me feel slightly better about what was going to follow. He had replaced the whip with another instrument of torture, a wooden paddle. He hefted it in his hands, smacking it against his palm a couple of times. The sound it made rang through the suddenly silent room, and I bit my lip and shifted restlessly.
Oh, I was seeing Liam in a new light tonight. I was used to the laughing, teasing guy I’d been hanging out with for the last year. But tonight? The steel underneath was being revealed.
I could feel myself tense. My body was reacting the same way it did on the rare occasions when I forced myself to watch a horror movie. My heart was beating faster and my pulse was pounding. Yet strangely, my pussy ached.
“Are you ready, Simona?” Liam asked.
.” Her reply was whispered, her eyes still on the floor.
Liam took a seat on the barstool that I hadn’t noticed in the center of the dungeon. “Come here,” he said to the girl, patting his lap. She obediently got up and walked over to Liam, bending her upper body over his thighs, and holding on to the legs of the barstool. “Ten strokes,” he said. “Count them out.”
,” she sighed.
I saw Liam lift the paddle, and my hands fisted at my sides. My mouth was dry in mixed fear and anticipation. He ran the paddle in gentle strokes over Simona’s ass. I could see her muscles clench in preparation for the stroke, but Liam didn’t appear to be in a rush.
I screamed silently. This slow, drawn-out process was causing my heart to beat faster.
The first smack landed on Simona’s right butt cheek, the sound echoing around the room. “
,” she counted. A red spot had bloomed where the paddle had landed. The second stroke hit her left cheek, and she whimpered softly.
“Count, Simona, else we start over.” Liam’s voice was hard.
” Simona said. “
I looked fearfully at the bright red blotches on her ass, and I saw Liam rub away the sting, his palm making gentle contact with Simona’s pink cheeks. I gritted my teeth as I felt the jealously rise in me.
He’s your friend, nothing more,
I reminded myself harshly. Allowing myself to feel possessive was the surest way to lose all contact with Liam. But I couldn’t help notice Simona’s reaction. Her legs had spread, her ass almost raised to Liam. She was offering herself to him.
The next two strokes came one right after another, both at the sit spot. Simona hissed and counted, and Liam chuckled. “We are just getting started,” he said.
If I asked him, would he punish me this way? I knew I had to ask for it. But would he raise the paddle in the air and let it swing on my bottom? And would I flinch away in fear, or would I wriggle towards him like Simona was doing? I shivered in anticipation, my breath coming in short little gasps, and I shifted again, rubbing my thighs together to try to ease the ache between them.
Liam was still paddling the girl. Some abstract part of me registered the way she whimpered, saw the bright blazing colour of her ass cheeks, but everything in me was orientated towards the man on stage. I gazed at him, like a helpless rabbit trapped by a wolf.
Simona was standing now, and Liam was attaching her wrists to two chains that dangled from the ceiling. I wondered if the reason she was being tied was because she was now going to be hit hard enough that she would need to be restrained. Her ass already shone a bright pink.
How much more pain was in store for her?
My heart clenched tight and my blood pounded in my veins. My fear was partly sympathy for Simona, and partly an old, old reaction to being restrained
“Bend over,” Liam ordered Simona. “Stick your ass out for me.” She complied silently, and I chewed on my lower lip in nervous tension. The paddle had just been the warm-up act.
Liam walked forward with a flogger. The tails were long, and it looked like it was made of leather. It looked like it would hurt.
He dragged the tails over Simona’s shoulder and I could hear her moan in response. “Kiss it,” he ordered, and her lips met the flogger. I could see her mouth move. She was begging for her whipping.
A small, familiar grin grazed Liam’s lips for an instant, and then it was gone. He flicked the flogger so the tails landed with a swoosh across her ass. “
,” she hissed. Another jerk of his wrist, and another line of fire across poor Simona’s ass. “
,” she whispered. The third stroke just hit one cheek; the fourth one hit the other. Then the tails moved lower, whipping her at her sit spot, and at her upper thighs.
“Keep your legs spread for me, Simona,” Liam ordered as he shifted focus to her front. He moved the flogger in steady strokes all over her breasts. Each lash made her breasts jiggle and I felt my body react to her punishment. Despite my fear, I was turned on, unbearably so.
Her ass shone a bright red, and her breasts were starting to flush. She was moaning, but she didn’t sound like she was in pain. Her legs weren’t tied down, and she wasn’t writhing away from Liam. Though Liam was wielding the flogger with practised ease, and the woman was whimpering with each stroke, her eyes were filled with lust, her legs were parted and her pussy glistened with arousal.
Another man clad in black had entered the play area and Liam and the new man were efficiently re-tying Simona. Her arms were pulled tight behind her back, and attached to a chain that hung from the ceiling. Her right ankle was pulled up as well, bent towards her back, and attached to another chain that dangled nearby. This position exposed her pussy to Liam’s attention. Again, my breath caught in an odd mixture of fear and longing.
“Clothespins,” Liam announced, and pinched two parallel lines of clothespins all down Simona’s front, from her nipples to just above her belly button. I ached for poor Simona, though my sympathy seemed somewhat misplaced. Simona didn’t look afraid at all.
Her expression became more nervous when Liam brought a vibrator towards her, and plugged it into the wall. “
,” she begged, and Liam laughed.
“What are you pleading for?” he asked her, but she didn’t speak. She didn’t take her eyes off the vibrator.
The guy clad in black handed Liam a roll of duct tape, and Liam efficiently taped the vibrator so that it would nestle against Simona’s folds. “Oh, you are in for it now,” he said in mock sympathy as he tuned the vibrator on.
She squirmed. She flinched. She moaned and shouted and cried and she climaxed, again and again, until her body was coated in a sheen of sweat. Along the way, Liam had used a riding crop and flicked away each of the clothespins, but though it looked like it hurt, Simona barely seemed to register it. She was in a different place; a place where her body was racked by orgasms, and she was powerless to resist.
I couldn’t stay to watch anymore. I couldn’t watch Liam cradle Simona in his arms as she fell apart. I fled back upstairs, and to the safety of his apartment.