Authors: Becca Jameson
Tags: #bondage;BDSM;submissive;Dom;sub;club;erotic romance;kink;gags
If they let the past control them…the future will never take hold.
Emergence, Book 4
In the six months since Margaret Donovan broke up with her girlfriend, she has prowled Emergence, hoping to find a Dom to help her explore her bisexuality. The only man who’s caught her interest in all that time is the bouncer.
He’s a firm Dom, and after all, it’s just a trial run. An experiment. He doesn’t need to know the details of the troubled past that makes her long to get over her aversion to being under anyone’s thumb.
Carlton Fisher’s keen eye has been tracking Maggie, as well. She looks exactly like the childhood sweetheart who’s haunted him for over a decade, but she doesn’t need to know that. Two weeks’ instruction should get her over her hump, give her the confidence she needs to work with a Dom…and get her out of his system.
Neither is prepared for the floodtide of explosive emotions. It’s cathartic and therapeutic, but if they can’t purge themselves of the pain of the past, their hearts could suffer irreparable damage.
Warning: This book contains intense submission from established participants in the BDSM world. If nipple clamps, edging, public nudity, restraints, gags, blindfolds and flogging make you squeamish, move along!
Bound to be Tempted
As usual, I want to thank my editor Christa for all her hard work on this series! We’ve come a long way since this project began, and I’m so much more educated on so many subjects thanks to Christa. Who’s ever met an editor who cut sex scenes? Is there such a thing as too much sex? Apparently. And I’ve mastered the notion…
“When are you going to talk to her?”
Carlton yanked his gaze from the model-perfect body he���d been ogling and turned toward his boss, Jason Garwood. “Talk to who about what?” He straightened his shoulders and resumed his usual stance as the front-door man Jason could count on.
Jason smirked. “That’s how you want to play it?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Carlton pretended to look around Jason. After all, his job was to ensure everyone in the club played by the rules, safe and consensual.
“Fine. When are you going to talk to Margaret about your feelings for her?”
“Maggie?” Carlton flinched. He hated his reaction, but he couldn’t stop it.
“Do you know another Margaret? Yes, Margaret. Margaret Donovan. The only Margaret we know.” Jason chuckled now. “Come on, man. You’re killing yourself, and frankly you aren’t at the top of your game lately. If you don’t talk to her soon, I will.”
Carlton yanked his gaze back to Jason. “You wouldn’t dare. Stay out of it. She’s been through a lot. She’s hurting. I’m just keeping an eye on her, especially when Lori and Jude are here. I know she says she’s fine, but watching them together has to hurt.”
“It’s been six months since she broke up with Lori. She comes here nearly every week. She’s happier than I’ve ever seen her. The only thing she lacks is a Dom.”
Carlton’s mouth opened. He closed it to consider his words carefully. Just because he found Maggie attractive and intriguing didn’t mean he wanted her to submit to him. He was simply worried about her. “A Dom? Or a Domme?” Carlton crudely grabbed his crotch as he said the word Dom and then rounded his hands in front of his chest as he said the word Domme.
Jason rolled his eyes. “So what if she’s been with women in the past. It doesn’t mean she’s a lesbian. I’m not convinced she doesn’t do guys also. If you don’t make your move soon, she’ll stop waiting and take one of these other guys up on the numerous offers they toss at her feet.”
At that pronouncement, Carlton stiffened. He fisted his hands at his sides and glared at Jason, angry with himself for letting his boss and best friend of ten years get to him. “Who’s making offers to Maggie?”
“Ah, so you
care.” Jason chuckled. He slapped Carlton on the shoulder. “Listen, I’m not saying she needs specifically a man or a woman to dominate her. I think she’s attracted to both. I’m just suggesting that I’ve seen changes in her lately. I have no doubt she has baggage neither of us can imagine.
“No matter how you look at it, Margaret is a submissive, and she needs a firm Dom to help her through, a man or a woman. But if you wait much longer to claim her, someone else will. I’ve seen how you look at her, Carlton.”
Carlton lowered his voice and his gaze. “Of course I look at her. Everyone does. She’s gorgeous. And she’s vulnerable.” A small shiver raced down his spine as he pictured her perfect body, her sexy smile, the way she tossed her hair back. Visions of her had haunted him since the first time he’d set his eyes on her over a year ago. Every time he saw her, she brought forth old emotions that had lain dormant in him for over a decade.
That didn’t mean he wanted to take her on or become her Dom. He was only reacting to the eerie similarities between her and the first woman he’d ever been in love with. It didn’t mean anything. Karen had been the love of his life. He would never love another woman like he had her. He knew he guarded his heart against all other women, but he didn’t care. As far as he was concerned, the saying was all wrong: it was indeed better to have simply lost than to have loved and lost.
“Yeah, but no one looks at her the way you do. I’m not talking about leering in her direction in awe of her beauty. I’m talking about that deep, penetrating stare you bore into her until she shivers and glances around, wondering what caused the breeze.”
Carlton swallowed. He rolled his eyes and lifted his gaze to Jason. For all that Jason insisted Maggie needed a Dom, Carlton wasn’t wholly convinced Maggie went both ways. He’d never seen her with a man. “I don’t stare at her.” He knew he was lying as the words left his mouth. He couldn’t
stare at her. And his reasons were far more unsettling than anyone would ever know. But it was an easy secret to keep. No one needed to know that his reasons for nailing her with his gaze had nothing to do with lust for her personally and everything to do with who she reminded him of. She was a looker. He wasn’t kidding when he said that everyone stared at her. “I watch everyone in this club. It’s my job. I keep an eye on all the women who come to Emergence, not just Maggie, especially the ones who aren’t currently with a Dom. They’re more vulnerable. I want to make sure they’re safe.” All of that was true.
Jason grabbed Carlton’s biceps and squeezed. “I know you do. That’s why you’re the best man to work my front door. And I appreciate how astute you are. You can read the patrons like the back of your hand and tell when something’s going the wrong direction before it happens. I’ve mentioned this before, and I’ll say it again. Never leave me. I need you.
“However, stop kidding yourself about Margaret. Go for it. If you need my permission, you have it. I don’t want to see you silently moping around any longer. What’s the worst thing that can happen?”
“I’m not looking for a permanent submissive, boss. And what makes you so sure Maggie is into men?”
Jason rolled his eyes. “Lori told me once months ago that Margaret has always been interested in men.”
Carlton stared at his boss, not sure he believed what Jason was telling him. “I’ve never seen her with a man.”
“Neither have I, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t interested.” Jason smirked and walked away as he finished. He didn’t turn back toward Carlton. He stuffed his hands in his pockets and ambled through the crowd, making small talk and checking on the customers.
What’s the worst thing that can happen?
The words rang over and over in his head as he watched his boss’s retreating back.
The answer was easy. But there was no way he would give voice to it.
Carlton couldn’t possibly take on any sub, let alone this one. No matter how attracted he was to her, he wouldn’t let himself fall for her. He’d been there, done that. It had been years since he’d let a woman into his heart, but no amount of time would erase the pain. He never wanted to feel that kind of deep hurt again. And to avoid such a thing, he would forever guard his heart against a woman.
Even this one.
Even this sexy, gorgeous submissive who made his cock twitch every time she entered the room. Even though she was no longer with Lori. Even though she was available. Even though he could see through her façade to the dormant hurt that lay deep in her eyes from some unknown pain she harbored. She was still a woman. And Carlton wasn’t about to trade one hurt for another. Because that’s how it would end if he let himself feel for her.
Carlton groaned. He nodded at the man who came to relieve him of front-door duty so he could take a break. He headed to the door on the back wall that led to the employee area. It would be quieter as soon as the door snicked shut. He could find a place to relax and close his eyes for a few minutes.
At least that’s what he intended to do. But then he noticed Maggie leaning her hip against the corner of a wall, watching a scene. He lifted his gaze to find Lori and Jude were the subjects attracting so much attention.
Carlton moaned inwardly and slumped his shoulders. Why did Maggie torture herself by watching her ex with the man who had returned from the dead to re-stake his claim?
Instead of heading to the quiet of the back room, Carlton inched closer to Maggie, watching her reactions as they spread across her face and paying no attention to the scene itself.
God, she was beautiful. The way she stood there, tall and sure, belied several other physical characteristics only a keen eye would notice. Her eyes were wider than necessary, her breaths shallow. Her bottom lip was tucked between her teeth on one side. And she gripped the corner of the wall so hard her knuckles were white.
She stood around the corner enough that Jude wouldn’t specifically notice her. Lori was blindfolded, so there was no way she would see Maggie. And besides, all of Jude’s attention was directed toward his sub, as it should be.
Lori stood at a St. Andrew’s cross with her back to the crowd. She gripped the rope loops above her head with her fists, but she wasn’t strapped down for the scene. Jude had already flogged her several times, judging by the number of pink lines across her upper back and ass. Jude set his finger on one of the welts and traced the line across Lori’s butt and down to where it met her thigh.
Maggie flinched, drawing Carlton’s attention back to her. Did she empathize with the pain Lori was feeling, remembering similar situations she’d been in when the roles had been completely different?
Carlton narrowed his gaze. He stood only feet from Maggie now. But Maggie’s attention was so intent on the scene that she didn’t notice him. He swore he heard a low moan escape her lips as Jude traced another line.
Perhaps it wasn’t Lori whom Maggie was paying attention to…
Margaret watched, mesmerized by the way Jude stroked Lori’s skin. Her pussy tightened as she imagined what it would be like to have a man pay that level of attention to her own body. As Jude’s fingers grew closer to Lori’s spread thighs, moisture leaked between Margaret’s legs.
She’d been watching scenes like this one with every sort of Dom at Emergence for months now, pondering what it would be like to submit to a man. And she fully intended to do something about that. She just needed to find the right Dom and ask him to do a scene with her.
Suddenly, she flinched when a low voice reached her ear from much closer than she’d realized anyone stood. “Do you miss her?” Carlton’s question took her by surprise.
She turned toward him, flattening herself against the wall around the corner from Lori and Jude. She met Carlton’s gaze. “No. She’s with the right man. She was meant to be with Jude.”
“You didn’t answer my question.” He narrowed his gaze and stepped closer.
Margaret shrugged. “There’s no right answer to that question. I’m gonna plead the Fifth.” She tried to smile at him, knowing it was forced.
Another man stepped up next to Carlton. She’d seen him several times at Emergence, but she didn’t know his name. He was relatively new at the club. At first, she assumed he was about to address Carlton about some issue. After all, Carlton was in charge of all things happening inside Emergence.
But then she realized he was looking directly at her. Only after he reached her side did he glance at Carlton and nod. His gaze returned to Margaret’s. “Hey. I’m Steve. I’ve seen you here almost every time I’ve been here. You’re never with anyone. I’m relatively new to the lifestyle, but I’ve been working with a sponsor. I was wondering if you’d like to do a scene?”
Margaret flattened herself closer to the wall.
Here’s your chance. Take him up on the offer.
She licked her lips, trying to ignore the glare coming from Carlton, and nodded. “I’d like that. I’m rusty. It would need to be something less intense.” She smiled as she angled her chin in a gesture toward Lori and Jude.
Steve smiled. “No problem.”
Margaret righted herself from the wall, but Carlton interrupted. “You do men?”
She gave him a sharp look, pursing her lips and narrowing her eyes.
He looked immediately chagrined by the question that must have flown out of his mouth before he could rein it in. “Sorry,” he muttered.
She spoke to him pointedly as she stepped around him. “I’ve been building up my courage to do a scene with a Dom for a while now. You know, someplace where I know I’ll be safe.” She furrowed her brow at him, emphasizing the word
. Maybe he would take the hint, back off and also keep an eye on her.
She was uncertain about Steve, but at the moment she felt the intense urge to take a leap. What did she have to lose? Steve seemed confident enough. Carlton would be close by. She’d be fine.
Steve lifted a hand and Margaret took it, brushing past a rather immobile Carlton. Was he truly that shocked?
Of course, to be honest, she was a little shocked herself. But she knew it was time. And this particular Dom seemed like the perfect opportunity to give it a try. It wasn’t as though she was going to publicly fuck the man. She just wanted to know what it would feel like to have a man’s hands on her.
Steve set a hand on the small of her back as he led her to an open alcove where no one was currently doing a scene. He lifted the schedule on the wall and then turned to her. “This space is open. Are you good with this?”
Margaret looked around him at the bench in the center and nodded. She could probably do a spanking scene. Low risk. And she could feel Carlton’s eyes boring into her from behind. She was certainly safe.
Margaret lowered her gaze and took a deep breath. She needed to concentrate on remaining calm.
It’s just a scene. You’ve done hundreds
Steve led her to the bench, still holding her fingers with his. He helped her get situated across the top, her knees and elbows on the padded sections below her. She turned her face to one side and inhaled long and slow.
Steve kneeled at her side so his face was level with hers. “What’s your name?” He brushed a lock of hair from her cheek, his touch tender and soothing.
“Good. So, Margaret, do you usually sub for women?”
. He must have heard Carlton’s stupid question.
“But you’re okay with this?”
She nodded, as much as she could with her cheek to the side. “Yes, Sir.”
“Would you like me to strap you down or keep your hands and legs free?”
“Free, Sir. If you don’t mind.”
He nodded. “Okay. Red okay for a safe word?”
“Yes, Sir. Red.”
“I’ll start out gentle.” Steve stood and set his palm on her shoulder, kneading the tight muscle there perfectly. He switched to the other shoulder next, carefully stroking his fingers along her upper back so she never experienced a moment without his contact. There were no surprises initially that way. And Margaret was grateful.
Eventually, Steve released the naked skin of her shoulders above the tight bustier she wore and caressed down her back, carefully touching the exposed areas between the laces that held her top on. When he reached her butt, he circled behind her and smoothed both hands up her thighs, lifting her loose, short skirt until he squeezed her cheeks and flipped the material out of the way onto her lower back. She was left with nothing but her thin black thong covering the most intimate of her parts.
The exposure didn’t bother Margaret. She’d been nearly naked on many occasions under Lori’s command. But Steve’s touch was different, firmer, broader. She closed her eyes and concentrated on the feeling.
“I’m going to spank you now, Margaret. Are you still okay?”
“Yes.” The word came out on a breath, barely audible. It had been so long since anyone topped her. She needed the release so badly it almost didn’t matter at whose hands she was submitting.
The first slap was quick, but not so hard as to make her nervous. It stung. She knew there would be a pink area on her left cheek, but she’d been spanked harder.
Another swat to the other cheek helped her relax into the role. Steve was astute enough to realize she suffered from nerves. He kept one hand on her lower back, grounding her. And he leaned down to her ear to whisper, “Still okay?”
“Good.” He tucked another lock of hair behind her ear and caressed her cheek. “Use the word
if I go too fast.”
“Yes, Sir.” He wasn’t too fast at all. In fact, she longed for more than he was giving her. But she wouldn’t ask for it. The idea shocked her and scared her at the same time.
Steve firmed his hold on her back and spanked her two more times at the juncture of her thighs and ass.
She flinched, a natural reflex, nothing more. Warmth spread up her back and down her thighs. It felt good.
“Your ass is so sexy like this, all pink.” Steve rubbed the skin with his palms, his thumbs grazing the undersides of her cheeks, making her stiffen as they got closer to her sex. She wasn’t ready for more than the spanking tonight. Sex was the farthest thing from her mind. It would take an entirely different level of subspace for her to submit sexually to a man.
Steve must have read the signs, because he backed off and resumed swatting her just enough to make her fully aware of his contact, but not enough to inflict any real pain.
Just what she needed for her first foray with a man. He wasn’t the firmest Dom, but he was educated enough to recognize her needs, especially her hesitation. And for that she was grateful.
Steve stroked her warm skin for several minutes, loosening his touch until he lowered her skirt over her butt and then rounded to face her again. “You okay?”
“I’m good. Thank you, Sir.”
. I enjoyed our time.” He helped her off the bench and settled her on her feet, still holding her hand.
She wasn’t so deep into subspace that she couldn’t manage on her own.
“Perhaps we could do it again sometime?”
“Maybe.” She smiled at him, not wanting to commit to anything right then. She nodded toward the bar. “I’m going to get some water. Thanks again.”
“No problem.” Steve released her fingers as she walked away.
As soon as she stepped out of the alcove, she practically ran right into Carlton.
He grabbed her shoulders to steady her.
“Geez. Did you stand there the entire time?” she asked. Her heart rate accelerated as his enormous presence surrounded her, nothing at all like Steve’s gentle, easygoing manner.
“I did.” His look was wary, his eyes narrowed. “I wanted to be sure you were safe.”
“I’m fine.” She smoothed her hands down her skirt, shaking a bit from the endorphins.
Carlton leaned back, still holding her shoulders, and glanced up and down her frame. “You need a firmer Dom.”
“Really? And you’re an expert on this?” She planted her hands on her hips, trying to keep from shaking and hold her own against Carlton’s high-handedness.
He nodded. “Yes. I see what you’re doing. You just got your feet wet. Dipped your toes in the water. That guy wasn’t strong enough for you.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.” She rolled her eyes and squirmed to get out of his clutches. He was potent and distracting her to the core. She rationalized it was probably because she’d so recently come out of a scene, but she needed some distance from this suddenly overbearing Carlton who’d gotten in her face twice tonight.
She wiggled free and ducked out of his hands to head for the bar, leaving him standing there.
She could feel his stare penetrating her backside, and she had the urge to smooth her skirt down again and ensure it truly covered her ass. Even though Carlton had seen every inch of her skin in the past, he hadn’t ever been the Dom to control it.
Why did it feel like he’d topped her with his gaze alone?
Carlton wiped his palms on his jeans as he stepped into the nave of St. Vincent’s Cathedral. He made his way to the left side and took a seat on the back row as he’d done so many times over the years.
There were only a half-dozen people inside the church this afternoon. No one paid any attention to him. It was what he preferred. The anonymity was what allowed him to keep coming.
He’d never attended a service. In fact he wasn’t even Catholic, but that wasn’t why he came.
Karen had been Catholic. She’d gone to church every Saturday night with her parents. She’d insisted it was peaceful.
Carlton had laughed at her at the time. Karen hadn’t ever been a peaceful sort of woman. She’d always been running at full speed. The idea that she took an hour a week to relax and reboot had made him chuckle. But it was serious for her. And he’d respected that.
Since her death, he’d felt the urge to come on her behalf, light a candle in her memory, sit and attempt to absorb the peace the church had given her.
Carlton had chosen St. Vincent’s for its size. It looked like the church Karen had attended years ago in their hometown. He’d never been inside that one, but he assumed they were all similar.
The crazy thing was it brought Carlton some level of peace. He felt closer to Karen when he was inside a space she had loved. He sort of spoke to her in his mind.
He closed his eyes and pictured her giant smile, her eyes wide with mirth, her belly laughter. She’d been bigger than life, too much for this world.
What would she think of the choices he’d made since she’d left him alone on this earth, extinguishing the tinkle of her voice for all time? Would she be proud of his decisions? He doubted it. If she could see him now, she would probably admonish him for remaining so aloof for twelve years. She would have wanted him to move on and be happy. She couldn’t have known how deeply he felt about her, still did.
He wasn’t a hermit. He’d gone out with several women over the years. He’d had many different submissives under him at Emergence. But none had been long-term. None had made his heart pound like the memory of Karen did. And it had been a long time since he’d brought someone to his home.
And now Maggie had stepped into his life.
Carlton didn’t trust his feelings for Maggie. She was the spitting image of what he imagined Karen would have looked like had she lived to be twenty-seven. It wasn’t Maggie’s fault, and she didn’t know anything about his demons, but every time Carlton saw her, it gave him pause. He’d known her for a long time, and every time he saw her, he did a double take.
Did he want to Dom for her? Fuck yes, he did. He wanted to bring her to her knees in front of him and watch her eyes glaze over with need while he made her squirm. But he never had relationships that were more than casual with any woman for a reason. He never wanted to hurt like he still did for Karen.
And Carlton knew instinctively if he took Maggie as a submissive, it wouldn’t be casual. She made his dick pulse and his heart pulse harder. As much as he wished he could Dom for her, and perhaps in doing so purge himself of his demons, he feared the opposite would occur, and he would instead be lured into her web.
He was chicken. He admitted it, if only to himself. Jason had made him think about something he’d never considered. Did Maggie need him? He couldn’t stand the thought of her submitting to another Dom in order to get her feet wet. When he’d watched her submit to Steve the other night, he’d gritted his teeth. It had nothing to do with his feelings toward her. Hell, he cared about her. She was a friend. He’d known her for over a year. If she wanted to experiment with male Doms, he didn’t want to see her hurt.
She’d never once come on to him in any way that would make him question her motives. But the woman needed a firm Dom. Not a newbie. Not a dabbler. She needed more, and Carlton knew he could be the man for that job.
But could he guard his heart in the meantime?
Jason had insinuated he was into her. Carlton knew better. He was into Karen. And Maggie looked like Karen. Was she as wild and risky and carefree as Karen? He didn’t know yet. If Jason was right, Carlton was in trouble. What if he couldn’t separate his feelings for a long-dead girlfriend from his longing for Maggie? She wasn’t a substitute. It would be cruel to use her in that way.