Authors: Annabel Joseph
Deep in the Woods
Sophie finally finds the courage to reenter the Atlanta BDSM scene after extricating herself from an abusive relationship. At a local munch, she meets Dave, a funny, laid-back erotic photographer. When she sees him again later at a dungeon, Sophie is surprised by her strong attraction, and nervous about starting a new relationship, but Dave eases her fears. They embark on a sexy, thrilling D/s relationship and Sophie finds healing and fulfillment in Dave’s arms.
But Sophie is still haunted by nightmares of her past. On a dark night in the woods with Dave and his friend Ryan, frightening memories overtake her. She knows that in order to move on, she must uncover the tragedy that haunts her subconscious.
Sophie’s quest for answers brings her face-to-face with her previous tormentor. She finds herself once more in the deep woods, not only fighting for answers…but also for her life.
An Ellora’s Cave Romantica Publication
Deep in the Woods
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Deep in the Woods Copyright © 2010 Annabel Joseph
Edited by Jillian Bell
Cover art by Syneca
Electronic book publication July 2010
The terms Romantica® and Quickies® are registered trademarks of Ellora’s Cave Publishing.
With the exception of quotes used in reviews, this book may not be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any means existing without written permission from the publisher, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.® 1056 Home Avenue, Akron OH 44310-3502.
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This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.
Deep in the Woods
I would like to thank Chris S., for his help on darkroom processes; Venator-Hominum, for the martial arts and fight-fucking inspiration; and Hollis, for turning me on to the eroticism of the chase.
I would also like readers to know that while I live in the Atlanta area and occasionally participate in the scene, none of the characters or situations in this book is based on real people or events, except for the descriptions of the trees, which truly are beautiful.
The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of the following wordmarks mentioned in this work of fiction:
MARTA: Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority
Snow White: Disney Enterprises, Inc.
Spider-Man: Marvel Characters, Inc.
The UPS Store: United Parcel Service of America, Inc.
UPS: United Parcel Service of America, Inc.
Dave stretched in bed, pushing the covers down. Saturday morning. Nowhere to be, nothing to do. What to do? Masturbate? Listen to music? Read the stack of photography mags piled up beside the bed? A whine issued from the depths of the comforter as he shifted.
“Shove over, Cerby. Big baby.” Dave lifted the covers to find black luminous eyes staring back at him. “That’s right, I called you a baby. You’re a disgrace to your breed. Whatever your breed is.” He reached down to scratch his dog’s ears. Although he was named after the mythological dog Cerberus, this Cerberus was no three-headed, ferocious defender of the Underworld. More like a shaggy black overgrown lapdog that needed a bath. Well, the name had seemed like a good idea at the time. Cerby crept closer and licked Dave on the face.
“You need a bath today, you mutt. I might want to bring home a girl from the play party tonight. And if I do…” He fixed the dog with a look. “If I do, you will behave yourself. No barking, no licking. I’m the only one who licks the girls. Do you understand?” He chuckled at Cerby’s forlorn look, then scratched him under the chin. “I think that last girl would have come back if you hadn’t made such a nuisance of yourself.”
Cerberus gave a comic half-groan of disappointment, as if he understood Dave’s words. Perhaps he did. Dave had picked him up on a photo shoot, an abandoned puppy skulking around a deserted train yard, starved and riddled with parasites. The girl he’d been photographing had shrieked with horror that Dave would even touch him. Fetish models. Bunch of narcissistic babies. If he’d left the dog there, it would have haunted his dreams. The vet bills had been astronomical, but a small price to pay for the adoring loyalty he enjoyed now. Within months, the medium-sized puppy had grown into a hundred-pound ball of reckless playfulness and fierce love.
But man, he was a bed hog. “Shove over, Cerb. I mean it.” Cerberus stuck his muzzle into Dave’s armpit, then withdrew it with a snort. “Well, I haven’t showered yet. Anyway, I asked you nicely for some personal space.” Dave turned over and looked at the clock. Midmorning already. It was late summer in Atlanta, and much hotter than he’d ever expected it to get, even in a place that called itself “Hotlanta”. He’d almost rather be back in Boston. It was fucking hot. He’d moved south last winter, looking for warmer climes and lovely women to photograph. He’d found both. Southern girls were sweet all over. The way they talked was sweet, the way they dressed was sweet, the way they fucked was sweet.
But his last subject, Lara, hadn’t been too fond of Cerberus and had declined to sleep over. Too bad, because he’d been quite attracted to her. But, love him, love his dog. He’d thanked her for her time and shown her the door. His proffered kiss had ended up a peck on her cheek.
No matter. There was another munch today and a play party afterward. He’d found a welcoming home in the Atlanta BDSM scene. Plenty of fun, plenty of girls to chat with and plenty of would-be models who were willing to bare themselves for his thriving fetish-photography business. And later bare themselves for some fun. What was it about guys and cameras? Since he’d picked his up, he’d had women like he’d never had in his life.
He thought maybe it had to do with the exposure. With the eye of the camera, and the eye of the photographer. It was one thing to look at a pretty woman. It was another thing altogether to turn your camera on her, to capture lust or sex. Or fear. Shyness or boldness. Who ever knew? Each photograph he took surprised him in some way.
He rolled out of bed and shuffled to the bathroom. His shoulder-length brown hair was a tousled mess. He brushed it back, trying to tame the wavy strands, then shrugged and turned on the shower. He looked back in the mirror. Yes, it was definitely the eyes. He narrowed his, then widened them, pulling faces. He tried to look soulful and deep. Oh yeah, slick. Cerb snorted again from the door. Dave flexed his arms, did a curl to check out his abs. He was nothing spectacular in the looks department, but his body was pretty tight and girls always commented on his hazel eyes.
My eyes see more.
Was he trying to convince himself? He’d failed as a fine arts photographer. Well, failed monetarily. Fetish photography paid the bills, and God knew he enjoyed it, particularly the fringe benefits.
Whatever. He could pretend all he wanted that he was an artist, that he was making high art, but photographing pompous D-types and their preening, precious submissives was hardly going to win him a Pulitzer Prize. He had won a Hot Flesh award last year. Not really something to write home to Mom about. But the award and publicity had solidified his name in the business, and bills were no longer a problem.
No, he had a good life, he thought, stepping under the cool water and letting it roll over his shoulders and down his back. It felt wonderful in the sluggish heat of the Saturday morning. He felt himself waking up, coming to life. He would have to drag Cerby into the shower and get him cleaned up too. If he was lucky enough to bring a girl home, he didn’t want to be making excuses for his huge, overly pungent pet. He wanted her to spend the night. He loved to wake up next to a beautiful, drowsy woman, cuddling under light, crisp sheets. And what cuddling usually led to—he loved that even more.
* * * * *
Dave fielded a hug from “Special One”, and another shortly afterward from “Pretty Punkin”, who was, helpfully, quite a punk. It was hard to keep the lifestyle names straight sometimes, much less the real names. The girls got mad when you forgot their real names, but when they called themselves by made-up nicknames at most of the social gatherings, it was kind of hard to keep it all straight. Add a couple beers at your average play party and there were lots of opportunities to offend.
The men also had their scene names. Dave had never come up with a good one, not for lack of trying. All the best ones were taken. “Lord Pain”, “Gentle Dom”, “Master Disaster”, or Dave’s personal favorite, “Dick Hammer”. There was even a “Master Dave” already in Atlanta. Not that Dave considered himself a Master of anything. He was just a garden-variety perv. And a bit of a playful sadist. Somehow “Playful Sadistic Pervert” didn’t have that certain élan the women were looking for. So he went by Dave.
Another big hug from, oh god. What was her name? The one who was into needles. That had been an interesting session. And Lara was there, eyeing him from across the room. She made no move to come see him and she didn’t crack a smile. He got the message loud and clear and found a place on the other side of the room near the moderator. He went to the buffet and came back to eat, making small talk with a young petite Domme and her little boi. After a while he offered them his card. They would make great subjects. They were both photogenic as hell, and judging from their conversation, quite open to a variety of kinky play.
His eyes went back to Lara. She was definitely running cold. Ah, well. She had seemed a little too controlled and inhibited for his tastes anyway. He liked to take girls out of their comfort zones, see them gasp and watch their eyes go wide as he took them to a place they’d never gone before, but a place they found they liked very much. He liked to give women erotic pain, push their boundaries, although he made sure safe words were in place first. He was all about negotiating.
But he still felt guilt at times. Sometimes he wondered if what he was doing was wrong, even with safe, sane and consensual niceties in place. Even if a girl enjoyed it, did it harm her to be hurt, pinched, spanked? Shamed? Humiliated? What if he took her out to dinner beforehand? Did that make it more acceptable?
His tastes hadn’t always been so extreme. He used to be perfectly content just to slap a girl on the ass and fuck her vanilla-style. It wasn’t until he started delving deeper into the lifestyle, until he started photographing others’ scenes, that his own threshold of perversion began to ramp up. He could still be vanilla if he had to, he could still turn it on and off. Barely. Which is why he very much preferred to go to the munches around Atlanta and try to meet kinky girls. So many of them were already paired up though.
He was taking another bite of chicken when he heard the room go silent. Not totally silent, but silent for a munch as crowded as this one. He looked around to see what was going on and then he saw the focus of all the attention. She stood just inside the door, arms crossed over her chest. She looked as if she didn’t want to be there. He looked around to see who she belonged to, who had made her come to the munch against her will.
“Sophie,” said the moderator, a man called Jerry. “Come sit here.” Jerry pointed to an empty chair between him and Dave.
So she was with Jerry. Interesting. Jerry was probably sixty-five if not older, and this girl looked twenty-five if she was a day. Strange that he’d never seen her at any of the munches or parties. If he’d seen her, he would have remembered. She was gorgeous. Black, black hair. Blue-black. Blacker even than Cerberus’ fur. It fell to her shoulders and across her face in wispy locks. She had a pale, almost leonine face that gave her a wild, intent look, especially since she was frowning. He knew at once that he wanted to photograph her. He
to photograph her.
But everyone stared at her as if she had the three heads of Cerberus’ namesake. Stared at her to the point of rudeness, stared to the point that Dave wanted to tell them to cut it out. To the point where he wanted to stand up and shield her from their eyes, because she looked as if she didn’t want to be stared at. She was blushing when she fell into the chair next to him. She didn’t have any food, just a drink. She was so perfectly proportioned that her small size wasn’t apparent until she was right next to him. She was probably right around five feet tall, and he was six-four, give or take. His legs crowded hers under the table.
“Sorry,” he said as their knees bumped. She looked up at him and any further words went still in his throat. My god. Her eyes. It was all about the eyes. What was that saying? “Eyes are a window to the soul.” He gazed into her soul and, God fucking help him, he couldn’t look away. It was only a moment, a millisecond that he saw her there before some shutter clicked closed and she looked away.
“Sorry,” he said again. He rubbed his hands on his jeans. His palms were sweating. She gave a small smile, staring at the table.
Look up at me again. Look up.
Blue, blue eyes. Violet. Pale violet-blue eyes, and a soul full of raw, intense emotion. Jerry patted her hand as conversation started up again in the room.
Everyone’s staring had upset her, so he couldn’t stare at her now, no matter how much he wanted to. He shifted his plate over. Why were the munches always so crowded? His knee knocked hers again and she shifted away.
“I’m so sorry.”
“It’s okay.” She shrugged. No, she wasn’t Jerry’s sub. Aside from a glance or two in her direction, Jerry had given her no more attention, and she held herself away from him almost defensively. In fact, she hunched herself into the smallest area possible and kept her eyes down.
Dave glanced around the room. People were still looking. He considered asking something silly like, “So, who did you kill?” but thought better of it. Instead he held out his hand and said, “Hi, I’m Dave.”
After a short pause in which he thought she wouldn’t reply at all, she took his hand.
She didn’t meet his eyes, and the way she said her name sounded like,
Please don’t talk to me anymore
. Part of him wanted to comply, but part of him was too fascinated and curious. He didn’t even know for sure she was a sub, although considering he was one hundred percent dominant, he hoped she was. He leaned back and tried again to engage her.
“Aren’t you hungry?”
“No. Not really.”
He had the sudden impulse to feed her something from his plate, or offer to go get her something. He pictured a poster on the MARTA train—FEED THE SUBS, with an image of poor Sophie and her violet-blue eyes. Jesus, she’d probably eaten a late lunch or something. What was wrong with him? He couldn’t remember the last time he’d felt so stupid and bothered over a girl.
“So, Sophie. Is that your real name, or the name you use in the scene?”
“It’s my real name. I don’t really have a scene name.”
“I don’t either. I mean, not that there’s anything wrong with having one. It’s just too schizo for me. I’ve answered to Dave for too long now. Although I did toy with the name ‘Bringer of Pain’.”
She made a small sound, and then smiled wide. He realized the sound had been a laugh. He took it as encouragement and forged ahead. “I also thought about ‘Spider-Dave’. You know, instead of Spider-Man? Except then girls might think I was into spider play or something, and that doesn’t exactly have them beating down the door. I’m not into spider play, by the way,” he added as he saw her shift closer to Jerry. “And ‘Dave the Flav’ was another one, you know, like Flavor Flav? I was drunk when I thought of that. Actually, I was drunk when I thought of both of those. I don’t know why I try to think up BDSM handles when I’m drunk, but I do.” She laughed again, and he knew it was because he was acting like an idiot, but he didn’t care.
“I like Dave better than any of those,” she said. Her smile was so enthralling, wide with gorgeous straight white teeth. Dave’s camera finger twitched.
“Yeah, me too.”
Idiot. Is this the best conversation you can come up with?
Jerry turned to her then and patted her hand again.