Authors: Rachel Clark
A moment before Ryan drags me through a doorway I finally catch sight of Mitchell and his sub. They both seem to be quite amused by my predicament, but it’s the wink Mitchell sends my way that leaves me confused. Surely they realize nothing can happen between me and Ryan. I’m engaged to his brother, for heaven’s sake.
Oh, god. I’m engaged to Bradley. I shouldn’t even be here.
“Sit,” Ryan orders as he escorts me into an ordinary-looking office and practically drops me onto a sofa near the door. I do as I’m told, hoping to calm him down long enough to talk rationally.
“Ry, I’m sor—”
But he cuts off my words with a glare, snatches up the phone, and begins dialing a number.
“Please don’t call him.”
“One more word, little sub,” Ryan says in a voice that could almost be a growl, “and I will gag you.”
I’m on the verge of tears, but it doesn’t soften Ryan’s demeanor. “Ry, please.”
He shakes his head, gives me a sad look, and then walks into an adjoining room. I struggle with the cuffs when I hear water running. I can extricate myself from this whole mess if I can just get the cuffs undone. I briefly consider trying to open the door even though my hands are secured behind my back but quickly discard the idea as stupid and probably dangerous. I don’t fancy explaining how I broke my nose when I stumbled with my hands cuffed behind my back.
But when Ryan comes back into the room with an item I’ve only ever seen on the Internet in his hands, I’m suddenly wishing I’d gone with the stupid plan.
I try to awkwardly lever myself out of the sofa. Shit, who would have thought it’s that much harder to get up with my arms tied behind my back? “Stop,” he growls as he steps closer.
“Please, no,” I say as he grips the back of my neck. “I’ll be good.”
“Too late,” he says as he pushes the ball gag against my lips. I try to hold my jaw closed, but he wraps a hand firmly around the back of my neck and holds the ball part against my mouth. “Give up, little sub. You read the rules. You know I’m allowed to do this.”
I try to shake my head. I kind of didn’t read the rules. More like skimmed them, but in my defense I’d already been starting to freak out at my own imaginings by that stage. But my jaw is aching already and our battle of wills is short lived. I try to open my mouth gracefully, pretending that it was somehow my idea, and he secures the ball gag quickly.
“Good girl,” he says quietly and then presses a kiss to my forehead.
He goes back to the telephone and dials again.
Tears fill my eyes as I wait for my fiancé to answer.
* * * *
Bradley Griffin glanced at the caller ID on his cell phone and frowned. It was Sunday night. His brother was always at the club on a Sunday night.
“’Sup, bro?” He could almost imagine Ryan rolling his eyes at his lame attempt at street slang.
“Do you know where your fiancée is tonight?”
He frowned at the unexpected question, but his heart kicked to a higher rhythm when some of the more awful possibilities came to mind. “I think she’s at home tonight, or maybe she’s out with friends. I’m not really sure. Why?”
“At least she didn’t lie to you.”
“Lie to me? What the hell are you talking about?”
“Perhaps you should come down to the club and see for yourself?”
“The club? Your club? As in your BDSM club?”
“The very same,” Ryan said in a neutral-sounding tone. “It would appear that your soon-to-be bride isn’t quite as vanilla as you believed.”
“Don’t let anyone touch her,” Bradley said as a mixture of fear, excitement, and adrenaline flooded his system. “I’ll be there in twenty minutes.”
“Don’t worry, bro,” Ryan said, throwing Bradley’s lame-ass greeting back at him, “nobody has touched her but me. Although, if she gives me any more trouble, she’s going to get that spanking I told you she needed.”
The phone disconnected before Bradley could think of anything else to say.
I can’t stop the tears from flowing as I sit quietly and wait for my entire future to dissolve. I’ve been worried I made a mistake by agreeing to marry Bradley, but in my heart I know that I love him. I never wanted to hurt him this way.
Ryan sounds angry as he talks to his brother. I can only imagine Bradley’s reaction, how disappointed he must be to learn I’m not the person he thought I was. Hell, until a few short hours ago even I’d thought I was the person he thought I was.
But sitting here with my hands secured behind my back, a ball gag in my mouth, and tears flowing down my face I finally admit to myself that I was wrong to even accept Bradley’s proposal. I believed at the time that a lifetime of friendship was a good basis for a marriage, but all I will do is end up hurting him.
“At least she didn’t lie to you,” Ryan says with a small smile in my direction, but then a few quiet words later he threatens to spank my ass. I close my eyes as a need more powerful than any I’ve ever known washes through me. I can actually see myself over his knee, my ass in the air, his hand slapping me harder and harder. I’ve never been this close to orgasm just by using my imagination. God, I can’t believe this is happening.
Ryan hangs up the phone without saying good-bye and then heads back into the other room. He returns with a washcloth and sits beside me. I want to protest, but I simply sit still as he wipes the cool cloth over my heated face. Judging by the care he takes cleaning under my eyes, my makeup hasn’t lived up to its waterproof claims. I can feel tears filling my eyes again as he unclips my wrists from each other and massages the sore muscles for a little while.
I lift my hands to remove the ball gag, but he stops me, holding both of my hands in one of his massive paws as he rubs a finger gently over my swollen bottom lip. For a moment I think he’s going to kiss me, and I have no clue how to react. How the fuck does one go about kissing with a ball gag in one’s mouth? But then guilt assails me as I realize I’m sitting here wondering how to kiss my fiancé’s brother.
“Rest, little sub,” Ryan says as he slides closer to the edge of the sofa and urges me to lay my head on his thigh. We’ve lain like this before, many times over the years, but this is the first time since I got engaged to his brother. I haven’t even seen Ryan since then. I’m almost glad for the ball gag, because I have a million questions but they can all wait until my fiancé says his piece.
* * * *
Ryan tried not to run his fingers through Melody’s hair, but it was a compulsion that wouldn’t be denied. He’d tried so hard to stay away from his brother and his fiancée since they’d made the announcement that it seemed almost a cruel twist of fate that she would end up in his club. He’d tried to rationalize his reaction to their engagement, but the simple truth was that he’d never truly been able to get over this woman.
She’d been his first love. As immature and as childish as the attraction had been between them as fumbling teenagers, she was still the woman by which he judged all others. He’d almost believed himself dreaming when he’d spotted her in the club. He’d been lamenting that he’d never find a woman with the perfect mix of self-confidence and willing submission to suit him, and then somehow the woman who haunted his dreams, his brother’s
fiancée, had appeared right before his eyes.
He desperately wanted to ask why she was here, but he was afraid of the answer. If she confessed to needing what a Dom could provide, he’d never be able to give her back to Bradley. But he had to hand her back to her fiancé. Ryan needed to get her out of his club before he hurt his brother in a way that could never be forgiven. He wanted to ask why she was here, but he couldn’t risk the answers.
No, it was a far-wiser choice to leave the ball gag exactly where it was.
I lie quietly, trying to explain to myself why I am here, but every answer I come up with no longer makes sense. I was curious. I needed to know. I just wanted to convince myself it wasn’t what I wanted.
But all of the excuses that I used to bring me here are no longer valid. I have my answer. Somehow, somewhere along the line between the gangly teenager I was and the confident woman I am now, a strange need has been growing. I’ve become kinky without understanding what that even means.
I close my eyes as tears slide slowly down my face and Ryan continues to run his fingers through my hair. I should have admitted my needs years ago. It was wrong of me to agree to marry Bradley when I hadn’t really known who I was.
Lost in my own misery, I almost ignore the gentle knock on the door, but I know without even opening my eyes who steps into the room.
“Asleep?” Bradley asks his brother.
“No, just confused,” Ryan answers as he continues to slowly run his fingers through my hair.
Bradley squats down in front of the sofa where I’m lying and touches his warm hand to my face.
“I’m sorry,” he says as my heart begins to break. I knew I couldn’t keep him, but I’d at least hoped for the chance to explain before he walked away from me. Fuck, I’m not just losing my fiancé. I’m also losing my best friend.
I try to talk around the ball gag, the muffled grunts just making me cry harder. I almost collapse in relief when he sits on the sofa and pulls me onto his lap. I wrap my arms around his middle and hold on for dear life. I shake all over as he presses a kiss to my head and holds me tight.
Ryan’s warm hands caress the top of my head before stopping to undo the ties on the ball gag. I suck on my lips, embarrassed by how swollen they feel. I must look like a complete wreck.
“I’ll leave you two to talk,” Ryan says as he gets up off the sofa.
“Ry,” Bradley says quietly, “I’d appreciate it if you would stay.”
I shake violently as I imagine what’s coming next. Bradley is a great guy. He’ll want his brother to make sure I make it home safely even after he dumps me. I feel Ryan sit back down, and I whimper at the pain slicing through my heart. God, after today I’m going to have nothing—no fiancé, no best friend, no happy future. God, why didn’t I ignore my curiosity? Why the hell did I stumble across these needs now?
“Mel, we need to talk.”
“I’m sorry,” I say, trying to be strong and failing miserably. God, I am so fucking pathetic. The least I can do is let the man leave me without acting hysterical. At the very least I owe him that much. But he ignores my apology.
“Why did you come here tonight?”
“I don’t know,” I say reflexively.
“Yes, you do,” Ryan says in a voice that clearly dares me to deny it.
“I don’t,” I say like a sulky child. The harsh slap on my thigh has me gasping for air, and not only from the pain. Holy shit. My entire body is tingling with arousal from one hit. What the hell would happen if one of them actually spanked me? Right at this moment I’m not really sure I want to find out.
“Lie to us once more and I will spank you,” Ryan says, almost as if he stole the thoughts from my head. I whimper at his threat, but it’s my fiancé’s reaction that has me freezing in surprise.
“Well, would you look at that,” he says, lifting my face until he can see my eyes. “How did I miss something so damn obvious?”
“We were too close,” Ryan says, almost as if I’m not in the room. “Even I wasn’t certain until she found her way into the club. I’m pretty sure Mitchell is still laughing his ass off at my reaction.”
“You gave her to Mitchell?” Bradley asks, but instead of being angry he just sounds curious.
“I didn’t give her to anybody,” Ryan says defensively. “My staff followed the proper protocols for an unaccompanied sub. Mitchell was the Dom on duty.”
“Relax, big brother, I’m just glad it wasn’t Robert. That guy always gives me the creeps.”
“He’s no longer a member of this club,” Ryan says stiffly. “In fact, I believe he’s currently lying low under the threat of assault charges.”
“What happened?” Bradley asks with a touch of urgency.
“He ignored Casey’s safe word.”
“Is she okay?” he asks as he caresses my spine. I’m grateful that he noticed my agitation but also a little disturbed by what it means. He’s talking about these people as if he knows them. I’m his fiancée. We’ve been engaged for six months. I’ve known both Ryan and Bradley my entire life. How on Earth did I not know they knew people living this sort of lifestyle?
“She’s still recovering from the heart attack, but doctors are hopeful that she’ll make a good recovery.”
Bradley tenses, apparently understanding something I’ve missed. How did ignoring a safe word end with a heart attack?
“I thought EA was banned in this club?”
“It is,” Ryan says, sounding angry. “It was a private scene in his home. I suppose we can at least be grateful that he called an ambulance for her. God knows he ignored every other safety issue.”
“Is she pressing assault charges?”
“At this stage no, but Doug and Lachlan have both encouraged her to do so. I know it will bring unwelcome attention to the club, but I tend to agree with them. Casey used her safe word. Robert should have stopped.”