“We’re going to Harte.”
Ash said this as if Adam would know what the hell he was talking about, as if this wasn’t Adam’s first night taking up space on his friend’s couch.
“Where?” he asked.
Ash waved the question away with a flick of his wrist and an expression that clearly said “it doesn’t matter”. “You’ll know when we get there. Now, come on.” He linked arms and half-dragged Adam out the door.
On the taxi ride to wherever they were going, Adam tried to get more details, but all Ash would tell him was that Harte was a local nightclub.
“You didn’t let me get dressed.”
“Why do you think I lent you that shirt to begin with?” said Ash. “You look fantastic. Trust me.”
The crowd outside the club was thick, the line wrapping around the side of the building and back again. Thankfully, it wasn’t too cold out, or they would have frozen solid before getting inside.
“Is this place always so crowded?” Adam asked as they took their place at the end of the line.
“Packed like sardines,” Ash confirmed with a nod. “Best place in the city for good drinks and dancing.”
A man in skintight leather pants and what Adam guessed was a harness walked by.
“Varied crowd,” he said.
Ash spotted the man and did that wrist flick thing again. “He’s headed around back for the upper floors.”
“The upper floors?”
“Yeah, the nightclub is only on the first floor. It’s got three dance floors, each with their own bar, and a backroom which was most likely meant to be a bathroom but is usually otherwise occupied. Upstairs is the kinky stuff. From what I hear, Harte has the best dungeon in the city, and it’s known to be top notch on safety, so it’s pretty well-known despite being members only up there. The entrance to the second floor is in the back, though, because there’s a difference between exhibitionism and indecent exposure.”
“Huh.” Adam didn’t know what else to say. He’d never been to a kink club. Granted, they didn’t have plans to head upstairs, but this was still the closest he’d ever been to one.
Eventually, they made it inside, and with the beat of the music and the press of sweaty bodies grinding around him, it was easy for Adam to be distracted from thoughts of the upper floors. It wasn’t long before he had lost Ash to the throng, as well. His friend’s tendency was to sidle toward the nearest hot guy before passing him up for the next one on the dance floor. It gave him more exercise than the dancing itself. Then, when he wanted a break, he popped up next to Adam, as if finding someone in a crowd was the simplest thing to do.
Tonight, Ash’s method fit Adam’s mood. He scanned the floor for someone to dance with, and it didn’t take him long to find what he was looking for.
The man was dancing alone and apparently without a care in the world. He looked lost to the music, his body moving with enviable grace and confidence. He was lean with boyish good looks and the kind of face that would still look thirty when he was fifty-five. His light-brown hair was just long enough to be spiky, and though his clothes were casual, he was dressed stylishly. When the dancer turned his head, he caught Adam staring, Adam felt a jolt run through him, but he couldn’t look away. Even from a distance, the man’s pale eyes had him trapped, and Adam found himself moving through the crowd, as if pulled by an invisible string. When he was close enough, he reached for a seductively swaying hip. The touch of a hand on the back of his neck encouraged him to move even closer.
They moved together for a while, sliding their bodies against each other but in no hurry to make it anything more than dancing. They simply let the pleasure of touch build on itself. The feel of his partner’s body against his was electric. Adam was about to ask if they could find the “bathroom” when the man asked, “Care to go upstairs?”
Adam hesitated. “I thought it was for members only,” he said, figuring that was a simple way to change the subject without having to turn the guy down.
“I can bring a guest if I want to.”
There went his easiest excuse. His reluctance must have shown on his face because the man asked, “Not your thing?”
“Not really,” Adam admitted.
“Ah,” was the only reply, but Adam heard the disappointment in the word.
“Sorry,” he said.
Truthfully, Adam had never given it much thought. He’d heard about it, read a little online, but he’d never entertained the thought of putting what he’d read into practice.
They kept dancing, but the mood had changed. Adam felt it in the air, and he didn’t like it.
“I wouldn’t need a…safeword or anything, would I?”
The man’s smile was like a warm, spring day. “That would depend on how involved you want to get. If you just want to check it out, you’ll be fine without one. Just say the word, and we can leave at any time.”
Adam drew in a breath, steeling himself. “Okay,” he said. “Lead on.”
The smile widened into a grin. Taking Adam’s hand, the man led him through the crowd. There was a door at the back of the club framed by a pair of imposing bouncers, but the guards didn’t hesitate to let them through. Adam and his escort climbed a flight of stairs, and suddenly, Adam was in a completely different universe.
Leather was everywhere. Leather and skin. What Ash had said about indecent exposure was right. There was more bare skin here than Adam had ever imagined seeing during the course of his life.
Once his mind made it past the wardrobe, he took in the rest of the details of the room and what the people in it were doing. A sharp slap yanked his attention to a large stage where a man was tied to what looked like a giant X. Another man stood behind him with a whip of some kind. It was short with a bunch of tails. As Adam watched, the second man raised his arm and brought the instrument down on the already rosy ass in front of him. The recipient of the lashes moaned in pleasure.
“So this is what you’re into?” Adam asked.
“Among other things.”
“Doesn’t that hurt?”
“It can be a pleasurable kind of pain.”
“I can’t see how.”
The slap came again, and the submissive’s head fell back, his eyes closed and lips parted in an expression of bliss. Adam couldn’t imagine how this apparent torture could produce such obvious enjoyment.
“The only way to truly understand is to experience it.” Hot breath tickled his ear with the words. “And the only way to do that is to be curious enough to give it a try. It’s not easy to trust someone that completely. I admire the men who are able to do so.” His guide’s attention had turned back to the sub as he finished speaking.
“I take it you’re usually the one holding the whip?” Adam asked.
“Flogger,” the man corrected with a smile, his eyes still glued to the couple on the stage. “And yes.”
Adam didn’t know what to say so he resumed his visual exploration. There was a bar to his left and various tables and booths for seating. Many of the seats were filled with men watching the demonstration. One man was seated at a corner table dressed head to toe in leather. He was drinking casually, eyes on the stage while another man knelt at his feet in nothing but a black g-string and a dog collar.
“That doesn’t appeal to you?”
Adam quickly tried to change his expression as he answered. “Not really.”
Adam looked at him, offended by the question, but the man looked truly curious. Maybe, they were both trying to understand a perception that wasn’t their own.
“It looks like he’s the guy’s pet,” Adam said, gesturing to the submissive, “a dog and not even human.”
“He is quite human, and I can assure you he is treated as such. Better even. Some Doms like subs who are trained for puppy play and the like, but Dillon is not among them. You might even say that both Dom and sub worship each other in that relationship.”
“Sorry,” Adam said. “I didn’t know he was your friend.”
“I did ask.”
“Are you into that?”
“Puppy play? No.”
“I meant the whole collared, half-dressed and kneeling thing.”
The charming smile returned. “Sometimes. You have to admit, Michael looks beautiful like that.”
Adam looked again. “I don’t know. I can’t really get past the dog collar.”
“Not all collars have to look like that.” He looked around the room for what Adam assumed to be an example. “See the man in the white T-shirt?” He nodded in the direction of his gaze, but the man wasn’t difficult to find, as he was one of the very few not wearing black. “The chain around his neck is a collar.”
Adam’s brows furrowed. “But it looks like a necklace.”
“It’s supposed to. When he goes into work or out on the street, it appears to most people as ordinary jewelry, but people in this community know it for what it is. More importantly, the man who put it there and the submissive wearing it know what it means.”
“You make it sound like a wedding ring.”
“It can be. Just like a wedding band is a symbol of a commitment between two people, a collar is a commitment. The vows made may differ, but the promise is just as strong and as binding. Maybe, even more so.”
“Oh.” Adam hadn’t heard those details before. He still didn’t like the dog collar, but he tried to see the man wearing it in a new light.
“Would you like to see more of the place?”
Amusement dancing in his eyes, Adam’s new acquaintance smiled. “Much more.” With that, he grabbed Adam’s hand and led him deeper into the club where Adam saw more of the BDSM scene than he could have ever imagined.