Authors: Samantha Cole
The two shook hands, as Will gave Angie a quick head to toe inspection. "I always knew you had good taste, Boss-man. Angie, it's a pleasure to meet you, love. Too bad I don't swing your way, because you are gorgeous. I do have some lez friends who would be interested though. Just say the word."
If Ian didn't know Will was gay and joking with her, he might have ripped the guy's throat out. As it was, he was leaning toward removing the man's tongue from his mouth. Angie grinned at Will, obviously charmed and not at all embarrassed by what the man had implied. "It's nice to meet you too, and thanks for the offer but dating women isn't my thing." She changed the subject with ease. "Ian tells me you're the assistant curator here. I envy you."
"Angie's an artist,” Ian explained. "Although, I haven't seen her work yet, except for a digital piece, I'm hoping she'll show it to me someday."
He watched the other man's face light up even more. "Really, love? What's your medium?"
"Mostly oils and graphite," Angie replied, "but I fool around with clay and watercolors sometimes. I've sold a few paintings over the years through venues which feature amateur artists like me, but if it wasn't for my graphic design business, I would definitely be a starving artist."
A man with a rosebud pinned to the lapel of his black tuxedo rushed up and informed Will he was needed at the front door. Before he hurried away, Will said, "I would love to see your work and if you ever want a personal tour of the museum, let me know. Ian–my cousin, Dev, Roxy and Kayla are waiting for you near the bar to your left when you walk into the great room. They didn't want to start looking around without you. I'll see you both in a bit. Ciao."
While the assistant curator took off in one direction, Ian guided Angie toward the main room of the exhibit and spotted the foursome right away. Since he wasn't sure if she remembered his brother's name, he introduced her again to Devon, and then to his fiancée, Kristen, followed by Dr. Roxanne and Kayla London, who were good friends of Kristen and Will's. They were also new members of The Covenant which, of course, he didn't add. The three women looked radiant in their evening wear and his brother had donned his Hugo Boss tuxedo for the occasion. Kristen was wearing a blue dress with a high waist and her brunette hair was up, similar to Angie's. Her jewelry included the matching blue sapphire and diamond submissive collar and engagement ring which Dev had a jeweler design for her. Roxy's thick auburn hair was down past her shoulders in soft waves and she had forgone her usual Domme black for a beautiful red evening gown. It had more than one man in the room lusting for the sexy siren, but Roxy only had eyes for her submissive and wife. A blue-eyed blonde, Kayla was the complete opposite of her spouse, with her shorter hourglass frame decked out in a dark grey gown with cap sleeves.
After everyone greeted them, Angie's eyebrows furrowed in thought. "Kristen Anders. Why do I know that name?"
Before the woman could say anything, Kayla piped up first. "Kristen doesn't like to brag, so I'll do it for her. She's a popular author of romance novels. Maybe you've read one of them."
Ian wasn't prepared for the response the statement got from Angie. She gasped, her eyes going wide in surprise. "Oh my gosh!"
Kayla grinned and elbowed Kristen's arm. "See, I keep telling you you're famous."
"No, yes, no, I mean, yes," Angie stuttered before laughing and holding her hand in the air like a crossing guard stopping traffic. She took a deep breath before attempting to speak again. "Okay, let me start all over. I swear, I'm not normally a blithering idiot and I do have social skills." The others chuckled with amused expressions. "Yes, I've read all your books, but it's not why I recognize your name. I just got a contract yesterday from Red Rose Books to design the cover of your new one."
It was Kristen's turn to be flabbergasted. "Oh my God! What're the odds of that happening? My editor told me they were giving
Leather and Lace
to someone new because the woman in Seattle, who did
Satin and Sin
, was taking a hiatus due to health problems. This is so cool. Talk about a small world."
"I'm so excited to design it now. We'll have to chat later so I can get your input before I start playing around with ideas." Ian could only imagine what Angie would come up with after seeing the other book cover she'd done.
"Great! I haven't had much input in my covers since I signed on with Red Rose. Now they narrow it down to three similar covers and my editor and I chose one."
As the two women continued to talk about the publishing business with Roxy and Kayla giving their occasional input, Ian and Devon both took a half step to the side and looked at each other while rolling their eyes. As much as they were proud of Kristen's success and popularity, chic-lit was not their thing. What Ian had latched onto, though, was when Angie said she'd read all Kristen's books. He assumed they included the last one,
Satin and Sin
, a book which had surprised Devon when the couple first met, since it was a best-selling erotica romance revolving around a BDSM club. The follow up,
Leather and Lace
, which the women were now discussing, was a story about one of the previous book's sub-characters, Master Xavier. Ian glanced at Angie with his brain spinning. It was the second time she'd admitted she read erotica and the thoughts currently flying through his mind might shock her. But then again, maybe not.
* * *
They spent an hour or so roaming through the crowded north wing of the museum, looking at the exhibits and talking about a gamut of subjects, including art, literature and local news. Angie found herself growing more comfortable with Ian and his family and friends as the evening progressed. Will had popped over to visit a few times before rushing off to avert another crisis or two, and numerous people greeted the group while further introductions were made. She found it interesting how every time Ian introduced her to one of the many women drooling over him, he barely glanced at them before his gaze returned to her. And when it was a man who was being introduced, Ian would tuck her closer into his side in what appeared to be a possessive gesture. She liked his responses and hoped she wasn't misreading them and his interest in her. She also liked how his hand was in contact with a part of her body–her back, neck, hand or arm–as much as possible. The rough callouses on his palm and fingers felt seductive against her soft skin. As they walked from painting to painting, she found he understood art more than he admitted to her, and probably to himself. He listened to her, not with half an ear as some of her past boyfriends or dates had, and held his own as they discussed what they did or did not like about each piece.
When a new round of champagne flutes, along with a tonic water and lime for Devon, arrived for them via another sharp-dressed waiter, Angie looked about and spotted a ladies' room a short distance away. She excused herself to the group and Kristen chimed in she wanted to go with her.
Devon groaned. "What is with women that they must go to the restrooms together?"
Everyone laughed when his fiancée deadpanned, "It's in the women's rule book of socialization, sweetheart. Why don't you look it up some time?"
Growling softly, he grabbed Kristen around the waist and whispered something into her ear which made her blush and bite her bottom lip. Angie could have sworn she heard the woman mumble 'yes, sir' before joining her on the walk across the room, while the other four members of their group stayed and chuckled behind them.
The elegant ladies' room was almost empty and after quick stops at the toilets followed by the sinks, Kristen met Angie at the mirrored vanity located near a sitting area. After two other women exited the facilities, they found themselves alone. Angie finished reapplying her lipstick and looked at the other woman's dress and shoes. She'd been admiring the blue, empire waist creation and silver Manolo Blahnik heels all evening and told her so.
Kristen grinned with freshly painted lips. "Thanks. I had the shoes, but Will and Kayla took me shopping the other day for the dress. I'm fine when it comes to picking out every day clothes but I get flustered if I have to play dress-up. I can never tell if I look drab, slutty or sexy."
"My vote is drab and slutty, you bitch."
Angie gasped at the sudden insult as Kristen whirled around with rage in her eyes and faced the woman who'd said it. Neither one of them had noticed her come in. Crossing her arms over her chest, Angie's new friend stood taller as she stared at the skinny redhead in a white strapless gown. "Seriously, Heather? Who let your skanky ass in here? You wouldn't know art if it slapped you. Oh, wait a minute, it looks like you already took an oil painting to the face or is that your makeup? I can't quite tell."
If Angie hadn't been so shocked she would've laughed at Kristen's retort because it was a good one considering the building they were in.
"Honestly, you cow, I have no idea what Master Devon sees in your fat ass." The redhead's hatred-filled gaze zeroed in on Angie next. "And let me guess, you're Master Ian's new fuck. Don't get too comfortable, whore, everyone knows he goes through subs like a pig goes through slop."
What? Wait a minute
Master Ian? New fuck? Whore? Pig?
Shock and pure anger at this stranger who came in hurling insults at them took over Angie's mind and body. She stepped forward to confront the nasty woman when a hand on her forearm stopped her. Looking at Kristen, she was surprised to see a satisfied smirk on her face. But Kristen wasn't staring at Heather. Her eyes were focused on the person who'd come through the door and was now standing behind the bitch...Roxanne London, and
! The good doctor looked furious and intimidating.
Heather must have realized there was someone behind her because she glanced back over her shoulder and Angie was amazed to see the redhead's face lose all color...at least what wasn't painted on. Roxy's pleasant demeanor from before had disappeared, and in its place was an angry, commanding, take-no-prisoners attitude. "Apparently, you don't learn, Heather. You know better than to blurt out private business in a public venue. You also know I told you last time you started harassing Kristen that I wouldn't stand for it. And now you've insulted another friend of mine who, I assume, has no idea who you are and doesn't deserve your malice. I suggest you run out and explain yourself to Scott because I'll be a minute behind you and he and I are going to have a serious talk about your continued behavior. Now as much as I would love to see how Kristen put you flat on your face in an arm-hold the first time you two met, this is neither the time nor the place."
She stepped to the side and gave Heather a path to the restroom door. "Out. Now."
As the redhead rushed out the door, they heard her mumble under her breath but the words were unintelligible. After the door closed behind the awful woman, the three new friends looked at each other and burst out laughing. When they finally got themselves under control, Angie opened up her mouth to ask one of the many questions on the tip of her tongue. Before she could say anything though, Roxy held up her hand and looked behind them to where the toilets and sinks were.
Kristen caught the other woman's concern and told her they were alone in the facilities. Roxy gestured to the sitting area before taking a seat on the small couch and crossing her long legs, leaving the two low-backed upholstered chairs for the other women. "In case you're wondering, I saw Heather walk in here and knew she was going to be her usual rude self, so I came in as back-up. Although I'm sure you all would've had things under control."
After they joined her around a small cocktail table, Roxy looked at Angie with a mix of sympathy, concern and understanding. "I can tell you're shocked and confused by the look on your face. I'm sure this isn't the way Ian wanted you to hear he was a Dominant, and I really think you should take most of your questions to him. Seeing the way he looks at you, I think his interest in you is obvious. I don't know where you two are in your relationship and it's none of my business about when, and if, he was planning on asking you to go down that road with him. He's a good man who, in the short time I've gotten to know him, I've come to respect one hundred and ten percent, and he would never force his lifestyle on anyone. That being said, if you want to take a moment and let the shock wear off and ask us a question or two, we'll answer them the best we can."
Angie turned toward Kristen, who nodded her agreement, then took a deep breath and said the first thing which came to mind. "Holy shit, who was that crazy bitch?" When the other two women laughed and relaxed, she continued. "Okay, that wasn't a serious question; actually it is, but we'll get back to it later. So, are you all are into...it...I mean the BDSM lifestyle too?"
Kristen nodded again. "Yup. I'm a newbie of only six or seven months now. I met Devon at his friend's pub and ended up asking him out on a date, not knowing he was a Dom." She let out an unladylike snort. "Hell, I didn't even know I was a sub. Anyway, if you read
Satin and Sin
, you know it involves BDSM, and when I went to the club Devon and Ian own, with their cousin Mitch, for research...oops."
Angie was sure her eyes were wider than Kristen's. "Th-they own a sex club?"
Roxy leaned forward and took command of the conversation again. "Yes, and despite what some people...what most people might think, it's a very private, very elite club. It’s where like-minded people who enjoy a range of kink in their lives can practice safe, sane and consensual activities which may or may not include sex. Kayla and I joined The Covenant after a long application process where our lives were examined with a fine tooth comb. This is not a place where anyone off the street can walk in and start flogging someone. And unlike Heather, most people in the lifestyle don't announce their participation, or anyone else's for that matter, when out in public. There's several other people in attendance here tonight who I know from the clubs but they either pretend they know me from somewhere else or not at all. I've been a Domme since college and Kayla became my submissive, and then my wife, when we met a few months after I finished med school. I was the one who recognized she was a submissive and introduced her to the lifestyle I'd come to enjoy."