The Plume: The First Anthology

BOOK: The Plume: The First Anthology
3.74Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

The Plume:

The First Anthology

by Ella Ardent



This anthology includes three previously published novellas – SUBMISSION, SURRENDER and SEDUCTION – all by Ella Ardent. These are the first three novellas in Ella's continuing Plume series. For more information about Ella's books, please visit her website at






Submission ©2011 Ella Ardent

Surrender ©2011 Ella Ardent

Seduction ©2012 Ella Ardent


The distribution of this work without the express permission of the author is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.





Chapter One


It was a black velvet night, the streets glistening in the rain. The shadows seemed to be deeper and darker than usual, filled with shadows and secrets. Joanna walked from the subway station, the gusting autumn wind tugging at her umbrella. She fought a battle of wills with the elements as the rain pounded on her umbrella. Just when she thought it couldn’t get worse, the rain changed to ice pellets.

Joanna shivered. Only a masochist would willingly go out on a night like this.

The thought made her smile, seeing that she was going to be interviewed for admission to a private BDSM club. She’d volunteered for the assignment at the newspaper, fed up with being stuck with lifestyle articles. It was her chance to do something bigger, to turn in a story that could advance her career into hard news.

It was her chance to prove herself.

The fact that Joanna had to pose as an applicant to a kinky sex club to get the story was almost funny. She had to be the most vanilla, straight-up, conservative, goody-two-shoes heterosexual on the planet – but when Joanna wanted something as badly as she wanted this story, she could do anything.

Even pretend to be a woman aching to join the Plume.

The Plume was the phenomenon of the year. A club that was private beyond the usual definition of the word, the Plume had only a single page website. The purple background was embellished with a photo of a peacock feather, with the name of the club and its slogan in gold script.

“Where members are bound by desire and fantasies come true.”

There was a contact link and no other clues. The website url was privately registered, its owners hidden, its hosting similarly protected. The Plume’s member list was completely secret. The club’s location was unknown.

Despite this lack of information (or maybe because of it) the Plume was the word on everyone’s tongue this year. Everywhere you looked in the city, there was Plume merchandise for sale, mostly black, all embroidered with the gold peacock feather of their logo. Handbags, wallets, jackets, vests, jeans, lingerie were everywhere, as well as the ubiquitous black domino mask with the feather embroidered along the lower edge. Everyone insisted they had been inside. Everyone smiled that they knew the secret location.

Nearly everyone, Joanna suspected, was lying.

Her editor thought so, too. He was convinced that this would be the perfect story for the launch of the Lifestyles section in their paper.
My Night at the Plume
would be a confessional piece. Reality journalism. Every other journalist in their group had averted his or her gaze, but Joanna had volunteered.

It was her chance to show that she could do more.

She just had to make it work.

Unfortunately, the mysterious people behind the Plume did their homework. From one reply, she realized they knew she was a journalist. She suspected that they doubted her cover story. She’d been summoned to this appointment to prove that her supposedly secret desires were genuine. She knew she’d be tested.

She gripped her umbrella handle even more tightly, scanning the numbers on the buildings as she got closer to the address.

She could still hear the woman’s voice.

A sexy voice.

The kind of voice Joanna would never have.

The call had come for her at the office, the number ‘unknown’. The woman’s voice was low and sultry. She hadn’t bothered with formalities, just given the address, date and time as soon as Joanna had answered the phone.

Then she’d half-laughed. “After all,” she’d added. “We don’t want any weirdoes.”

Joanna had to think that anyone who joined a private BDSM club, hoping to be tied up and spanked and whatever, had to be weird on some level. She hadn’t argued, though.

She'd played along.

Joanna had allowed extra time, given that her destination was in a part of town she didn’t know well, but arrived just five minutes early. She might have stepped into another town completely. An abandoned one. The entire block was so dark that the power might have gone out.

There was no one on the street.

The hair prickled on the back of Joanna’s neck. Was she being set up? Suddenly it seemed stupid, not independent, to have come alone.

The streetlights flickered once, then stayed on. She shook off her misgivings and considered her destination. It looked like a restaurant, but the windows were dark. Maybe the power
out. Joanna double-checked the address, huddling under the navy awning to escape the pouring rain. She was in the right place. Supposedly.

Was this what the Plume did to journalists and ‘weirdoes’?

She had raised her fist to knock when the door abruptly opened. A waft of light and heat and aroma swept out of the interior, surrounding Joanna like a cloud.

A man stood there in the halo of golden light from the interior, an older man with a deferential manner. “Joanna?” he asked as if he would have been astonished to be wrong.

Joanna could see past him into the restaurant, could see the glow of lamps on tables and the quiet murmur of voices. The restaurant looked cozy and welcoming, particularly in contrast to the night.

It looked reassuringly normal.

They just had drapes on the windows.

She smiled. “Yes. I’m supposed to meet…”

“The Countess,” he said, smoothly interrupting her. “Of course.” He stood back and gestured. There was something courtly about his manners, old world maybe, something that made her believe that nothing odd could happen in this place.

The Plume might be run by paranoid people with a fondness for kinky sex, but this guy was okay. Joanna had good instincts about people. No matter how strange the Countess might be, Joanna was glad to be meeting her in a place where there were other, normal people.

“The Countess requested some privacy,” the man said, shutting the door behind her. Joanna shook out her umbrella before he whisked it out of her hands, handing it off to a young man who must have been in charge of the coatroom. The older man lifted off Joanna’s coat, and the boy gave her a ticket after her wet belongings were put away. She dug in her purse, but the older gentleman made a dismissive wave. “The Countess is most generous.”

So this was all expenses paid. Interesting.

He headed toward the back of the restaurant, his footfalls silent on the thick rug underfoot. Joanna looked around. The restaurant was filled with booths, all of which were curtained. She heard the low laughter of conversation and the clinking of dishes and cutlery, but she couldn’t actually see anyone dining there. It appeared that the Countess wasn’t the only one who liked her privacy.

Was this the Plume itself?

Waiters in black and white slid through the space, working with efficient impassivity. She could smell the food and guessed that the cuisine was Italian. Garlic. Basil. Tomato. Her stomach rumbled just as the older man waved her into a small private room in the back corner.

Why anyone needed a private room when the whole place was filled with curtained booths was a mystery to Joanna.

No sooner had she stepped into the space than curtains were shut behind her. She felt it then, the sound buffeting against her ears as if she’d entered a soundproofed space.

She was alone. What exactly did the Countess have planned for this interview? Joanna told herself not to be nervous, that her cover story was excellent, that everything would be fine.

The private room felt contained, cozy, and luxurious. The walls were upholstered in black velvet and Joanna touched one, feeling the padding beneath the upholstery. There was a luxurious Persian rug thrown over the thick carpet and she felt like she’d sink up to her ankles in the plush pile. A round table took up a third of the room, and it was set with a white cloth and a vase of peacock feathers.

Joanna smiled. She was in the right place.

The table was nestled into a half-circle booth set into the far wall, a curved bench seat upholstered in that same velvet. Three chairs, lush with thick matching upholstery, stood with their backs to Joanna. The table would easily seat six, and she wondered about the Plume’s interview technique.

Would she be interrogated by a panel?

She moved to the table, more nervous at the prospect than she might have expected, and fingered the peacock feathers. They were real, their blue and green and gold vivid against all the black.

Why was their logo a peacock feather?

Joanna reminded herself that she’d survived many interviews and lived to tell about them, that her nerves were perfectly normal. Even so, she swallowed and gripped her purse. Her heart was beating more quickly than usual.

There was a sudden swish of cloth against cloth, a breath of air that smelled of warm bread. Joanna spun to find a woman standing behind her.

She stared in surprise at the new arrival. This woman looked as if she had stepped off the stage or out of a Renaissance fair. She’d thrown back the hood on the navy velvet cloak that enveloped her, a cape cut full with a swirling hem. Her hair was so long and thick and such a glorious auburn hue that Joanna assumed it was a wig.

The woman wore a voluminous white blouse made of fabric so sheer that Joanna could see her nipples through the cloth. The rosy hue of the aureoles was unmistakable. The woman smiled slightly, her ripe red lips curving with amusement as she followed Joanna’s glance.

The white blouse was nipped into a black satin corset, one that cupped her full breasts, as if presenting them for admiration, and cinched an already-slender waist. She wore dark jodhpurs and high black leather boots, as well as black velvet gloves and thick gold slave bracelets. At her throat was a pendant, one shaped like a peacock feather with a dark gleaming eye. Joanna assumed it was an opal set in the gold.

Most remarkable of all, the woman wore a black velvet domino, one embroidered with a gold peacock feather in one corner. She tapped a black riding crop against one gloved palm, her eyes glinting through the holes in the mask, and her smile broadened as if she was genuinely amused by Joanna’s surprise.

If the administrators of the Plume wanted to shock her, their first attempt had been a success. Joanna resolved to not be surprised again.

“And so we meet, Joanna,” the woman said, in the same rich voice that had given her directions on the phone. She lingered over Joanna’s name, as if she liked rolling it around her tongue. “You may call me the Countess.” She crossed the room, moving with the languid grace of a cat. One that knew a lot about pleasure. She set down the riding crop on the table, stroking the length of it once with her fingertips.

Watching Joanna with shining eyes.

“I apologize for the delay. I was at the stables and time slipped away.”

Joanna guessed that the leather crop hadn’t been used on a horse. She tore her gaze away from it and forced a smile. “No problem. I haven’t been here long.”

The Countess stepped closer, as if stalking her prey. That mask was troubling to Joanna. She really wanted to see the other woman’s face. She held her ground and the woman’s gaze.

“Would you care for a glass of wine? The house red is excellent.”

“No, thank you. I’m fine.”

The Countess smiled a little more. “All business then? Very well.” She moved closer, putting her hand on Joanna’s shoulder then glancing at the booth. Her fingers slid over the curve of Joanna’s shoulder, exploring in a way that seemed too intimate. Joanna steeled herself to hold her ground. It wasn’t quite a stroke, but it was more contact than she’d expected.

The Countess’s stare was so intense. The woman’s eyes glittered through the holes in the mask, and that combined with the fact that she seemed on the verge of laughter made Joanna feel uncertain.


Even though she was fully dressed. Joanna glanced down the woman’s cleavage, unable to stop herself, and saw that her nipples had tightened to burgundy peaks.

Was the Countess aroused by her? Joanna was startled again. She inhaled, reminded herself of her cover, and met the woman’s gaze. That quick breath filled her lungs with the Countess’s perfume, its spicy exotic scent consuming her and surrounding her.

Joanna reached for a chair, but the Countess pointed to the bench.

BOOK: The Plume: The First Anthology
3.74Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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