Timewise, Before is a prequel to the Ever After series, but if you plan to read the series, it’s probably best to read this story last. If you don’t plan to read the series, you can enjoy this as a standalone.
When the people watching your scene were more interesting than the scene itself, you had a problem.
Jamie was in one of his all-time favorite positions—arms and legs spread wide across the X of a St. Andrew’s cross, his wrists and ankles anchored to the unyielding wood, his stomach flat against the beams supporting him, the concrete floor cool under his feet, and his back bared to the whip—but he was bored. Not quite Big Bang Theory re-runs bored, but nearly.
He’d saved up for this trip too, painstakingly accumulating the funds to pay for a guest pass to the exclusive Manhattan BDSM club and an outfit worthy of being seen there. And then he’d blown it all by picking the wrong partner to play with, jumping at the first person who offered to string him up because holy hell, he wanted to be here.
Just not like this.
She was all right, the Domme who’d offered to play with him. Safe, sane, consensual. All of that. Pretty to look at too, though her allure was mostly in the whip she’d worn around her neck, its ends dripping down into her décolletage. She’d caught him staring, and he hadn’t wanted to knock her self-confidence back by explaining that it wasn’t her breasts he’d been staring at. Then one thing had led to another and now he was on a St. Andrew’s cross with her whip whistling through the air to strike against his back like… like a wet noodle.
At first he’d hoped she was just warming him up, that harder strokes were coming, but even when he’d prompted a little—topping from the bottom, though he knew better—the lashings hadn’t gotten any harder. She thought she was being ruthless. There was a lot of good talk about bracing himself and how well he was taking it, about how pretty his skin looked cross-hatched with red stripes, but did he even have red stripes? He sure as hell couldn’t feel any. And that was what he wanted—to feel.
So he people-watched as he counted—ten, Mistress, thank you, Mistress—and wondered how soon he could get down and if it would be too greedy of him to try again, to search out another top to play with. Someone more… more like him. Holy hell, that guy was good-looking.
“Jamie,” the Domme prompted when he forgot to thank her for her last stripe.
Shit. What number had they been on? He’d been completely thrown off by those hot, dark eyes and the man they belonged to. Tall, broad-shouldered, with dark hair cut short and a terracotta complexion, like the sun had baked him into hardness. He stood perfectly upright, dressed in a black cotton shirt that laced at the neck and black leather pants that laced at the crotch. Jamie wanted to unlace him from head to toe and then lick him from head to toe, and if that guy wasn’t a Dom, Jamie would hand in his sub card, because he’d never seen anyone more perfectly possessed, more thoroughly commanding. And alone.
“Can you give me a color?” the Domme asked.
Jamie wanted to tell her to go away. He belonged to that guy now. But he pulled himself together. He had an obligation to his partner.
“I’m fine,” he told her. “I just forgot what number we were on.”
“Ah, drifting into subspace, were you?” She stroked the hair out of his eyes, somehow believing he could’ve reached subspace as a result of that short and ineffectual beating. The Dom with the coal-black eyes sure didn’t believe it. He suppressed a smirk as he turned his head away from the scene like he’d lost interest in it. Jamie tugged at his bonds, yearning to be free so he could get over there and drop at the man’s feet.
“I still need a color,” the Domme said.
Jamie hesitated. He was as green as green could be if green meant capable of taking more, but completely red if red meant wanting the hell out of the scene. Would the handsome Dom think he was too much of a lightweight if he called red over a few half-hearted licks with a carriage whip?
“Yellow?” he tried. “I mean, I could take more if you want, but I’m kind of ready to just zone out, you know?”
“Sweet thing.” She touched his cheek, and he resisted the urge to flinch away. “You’ve taken so much already.”
As if. But Jamie kept his sarcastic thoughts to himself, not wanting to do anything that might mark him as undesirable. Because as soon as he could get away from the nice Domme with the deep décolletage, he was going back for round two.
Jamie prowled across the club floor, looking for the one who’d gotten away. The Dom had been right there a minute ago, watching a bondage demonstration going on nearby but turning now and then in the direction of the bench where Jamie was being served juice by his scene partner. He had let her minister to him because he didn’t want to be rude. She deserved some aftercare even if he didn’t need it. But now he was cursing every unnecessary minute because at some point the sexy Dom had wandered off, and now Jamie couldn’t find him.
Everyone was dressed in black, and though his target was tall, he wasn’t tall enough to pick out of a crowd. When they’d been close enough to make eye contact, the Dom had stood out like the only three-dimensional object in a two-dimensional world, but now he was just one more person in a crowded building. Unless, God forbid, he’d left.
“Hey.” Jamie flagged down his friend Ben when they passed each other on one of his urgent circuits around the space. “I’m looking for someone. About this tall, dark hair, dark eyes, looked like he might be Middle Eastern. Really, really good posture and just—” Jamie shuddered. “Just the whole package.”
“Syed Denir,” Ben said without a moment’s hesitation. “Out of your league.”
“What do you mean out of my league? I’m a pain slut. I can handle anything.”
“I mean he’s rich. An investment banker or something. Lives in one of those high rises overlooking Central Park. Everyone wants Syed.”
“And?” Jamie challenged. Everyone wanted him. Did that mean Jamie couldn’t have him?
“And you’re an actor whose best-known work was for the sandwich shop on 10th. Mmmmm,” Ben said as he mimicked holding a gigantic sandwich up to his face. “Although, come to think of it, swallowing might be the kind of skill he’s in the market for.”
“So he’s gay?” Jamie might literally cry if he wasn’t.
“Yeah, he’s gay, but…”
“Out of my league. I get it.”
“No offense, sugar bear. You know I love you.” Ben tried to pull him into a hug, but Jamie held him off. And that was when he saw him. Syed Denir.
Jamie didn’t care where the guy lived or what he did for a living or how much money he had. He just wanted that arm giving him the workover he’d come here for, wanted to see how unrelenting those dark eyes could be, wanted the intensity of Syed’s attention. Just for tonight. Not for forever. Why couldn’t he have that?
“I’m going to ask him.”
“You’re going to ask him. That’s not how it works.”
But Jamie was already walking away. He’d attracted Syed’s attention before. He could do it again. Syed wheeled around just as he got there, as if he’d heard him coming, though Jamie’s bare feet couldn’t possibly make a sound loud enough to be heard over the buzz of the crowd. Syed’s eyebrows quirked when Jamie strolled right on up to him.
“I’m Jamie.” He held out his hand and Syed took it with a grip that was firm and warm and exactly perfect.
“Syed. I was watching you on the cross earlier.”
“You looked like you were enjoying yourself.”
Syed smiled, his white teeth bursting brightly out of his darker skin. “No.”
“I want a do-over. I want you.” He put his hands on Syed’s upper arms, letting them rest lightly on the muscle there. “I want these.”
“Doesn’t take much muscle to swing a whip hard enough to hurt.”
“Not if you’re willing to hurt.” The challenge earned him another smile. “She didn’t hurt me.”
Syed made a circular motion with his finger, and Jamie spun around to show him his back. Syed’s hand roamed over the marks the Domme had left. Jamie could feel them now with Syed strumming them.
“It’s not enough,” he blurted out, afraid Syed would say he’d already had too much for one night. “I’m kind of a pain slut, see?” He cranked his head around to watch Syed trace the red stripes crossing his back.
“And a brat?”
“Seventy percent pain slut, thirty percent brat.”
“Make it twenty percent brat and you’ve got a deal.”
“Yes, sir. Anything, sir. I’ve never approached a Dom before, I swear. I just… I want you.”
“Then you’ll have to show me how much.” Syed stepped closer, so that the fabric of his shirt brushed over the skin of Jamie’s lightly worked back. “And I want you naked. A body like this… I need to see it.” He stroked over Jamie’s hip to dip below his waist. “You’re already hard for me, aren’t you?”
Jamie nodded, his mouth too dry for words.
“Then I told you what you have to do.”
Naked. Needy. Those were the things Syed required of him, and Jamie had no problem delivering either. He stripped off his pants as fast as the tight leather allowed, then dropped to his knees at Syed’s feet, letting the way his cock stood at attention between his thighs speak to his desire.
Syed walked around him, prowling in a slow circle as Jamie held his tongue and his breath. He wanted this, wanted it so bad. And if he was worthy of it, Syed would give it to him. Syed put a hand under his chin and Jamie looked up past the bulge in Syed’s pants to meet the eyes that had made him promises he needed to have kept.
“Looks like you’ve got a date with a whip.”
St. Andrew’s Cross, Take Two. No one was bored this time. They’d drawn spectators—not surprising with the way Syed could crack that whip—but Jamie wasn’t looking at them. He was too busy thrashing within the security of his bonds, alternately arching into the whip and wincing away from it as Syed laid down one perfect strike after another, his cultured baritone calling out numbers with brutal precision. One, two, ten, twelve, sixteen. How many had he taken? How many more could he take? All he knew was that he never wanted it to end.
Sweat and hair dripped into his eyes as he tossed his head to the rhythm of his moans. Nothing was real except Syed and the whip. The pain and the man who delivered it. The crack of air as the whip came forward and the hot line of fire it left behind. He wasn’t even in the room anymore, was somewhere else where it was only him and Syed, and Syed’s whip was like his hands—caressing, punishing—and his hands were like a whip—hard but necessary—and his voice said words, only now the words weren’t numbers. They called him back to a consciousness he hadn’t been aware he’d left.
“There you go,” Syed said when Jamie blinked his eyes open. “Have a bit of water.”
Jamie didn’t want water. He wanted Syed to go on saying the things he’d been saying while Jamie had been too deep in subspace to catalogue them, but Jamie had promised to be no more than twenty percent brat, so he accepted the bottle.
“I’m good,” he said when he’d drunk as much as he could handle. Syed took the bottle from him and hitched him up, resettling him in his lap, which Jamie realized was where he was. Not out on the floor, but in a curtained-off nook. Quiet and private. He nuzzled into the soft cotton of Syed’s shirt, vaguely wondering where his pants had gone. His cock had deflated while he’d been floating through subspace, but it surged back up now. He was naked in Syed’s lap. They’d had a scene. A good scene?
“Did I do okay?”
“You were magnificent.”
“So were you.” Magnificent. There was no other way to describe it. He’d floated so high, gone so deep.
“I don’t like the idea of you getting on the subway in this state. I have a car here. Let me drop you off at your place.”
That wasn’t the offer Jamie had been hoping for. Remembering that he had permission to be twenty percent brat, he twisted in Syed’s embrace until he was straddling him.
“It would be more private if we went to your place.” He walked flirtatious fingers up Syed’s chest while peering through his lashes with his best fuck-me eyes. Syed lived near Central Park, probably alone, while Jamie shared a squalid one-bedroom in Tribeca with a roommate. But maybe Syed didn’t date plebes like him. Maybe Syed didn’t even fuck plebes like him. He had his head tilted like he was considering Jamie’s proposal way too hard.
“You were with a woman earlier.”
“I was with a whip earlier. An arm’s an arm.”
“I think I’ve proven otherwise.”
He had, but Jamie wouldn’t mind having it proven to him again. Over and over on a regular basis. He squealed when Syed rose with him clamped tight in his arms. Syed shouldered his way through the curtain shielding their nook, carrying Jamie straight for the front door.
“I used to have pants.”
Syed laughed, a deep and hearty sound that promised more than sex. They were perfect for each other. Jamie already knew it. And he was going to spend the rest of his life making sure Syed knew it too.
Before is a prequel to the Ever After series, which starts with Aftercare, but if you haven’t already read the Ever After series, please be aware that the happy ending Jamie and Syed have found here doesn’t last forever. Read the blurb before purchasing.
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