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Warning: this book contains foul language, crude humor and hot sex!
Dating- when you're looking for someone who's just as kinky as you are-- is tough. So tough, that Iris is about to give up her search for a man. She's already got more than enough on her plate with a job waiting tables, a taco truck business she's trying to make into a success, and a non- stop meddling mother. A man would only further complicate life.
Dom's just looking for a woman who will accept his terms: no strings, casual sex, he calls all the shots. He's got no interest in a commitment and he's certainly not looking for love-he's focused on growing the construction business he's built from the ground up.
But when these two meet and their tempers collide, sparks fly, though not all of them are the good kind. After one memorable public yelling match at a party hosted by the local kink group, they're forced to spend the next five weeks together, learning about BDSM- which turns into becoming intimately acquainted with each other's deepest desires. What they discover is that maybe no strings isn't exactly what either of them want.
But is what they feel enough to build a relationship on? Or will the secrets they don't share tear them apart?
“I wish you would go to the party with me tonight. I don’t want to go by myself,” Daphne pleaded, trying to persuade me to join her for the millionth time since I’d returned to my hometown.
We both knew what I would say next because I’d given her the same response every time she’d asked for the last several months. “Daphne, stop whining. You have friends there. I’ll be the one who doesn’t know anyone.”
“You’ll know me.” She tried to sound cheerful and happy, but I could tell that even she realized this argument was getting old.
“And how many scenes do you have lined up for tonight?” I asked, knowing she’d have several, which meant that I’d end up standing in a corner by myself.
“Iris, you’ve been to three socials and I can’t even count the number of munches. You should have tried harder to make friends then.” She paused in her lecturing to take a calming breath. “Going to a party is the next step. You’ll never meet the kind of man you want sitting at home.”
I rolled my eyes hard enough to give myself a headache, even though there was no one around to witness my supremely childish act of rebellion.
“I’ll have you know I happen to have a date tonight.” I didn’t bother to tell her that, just moments before she called, I was about to call the guy and cancel.
For some reason she found my statement hilarious, laughing so hard she snorted. “Is it another guy from that Whip Me, Love Me dating site?”
“So?” I heard the defensiveness in my voice but didn’t care. “I’ve gotten a lot of dates from that site.”
“That site is a joke. It’s full of wannabes who have no clue what they’re doing. Ever since kink became popular and more mainstream, there’s been an influx of people into the scene who think having a little rough sex makes them kinky.” The disdain and condescension oozed off of every word out of Daphne’s mouth but I kept my mouth shut. Her shitty attitude towards new people was an argument I refused to start right now.
“How many of the guys from there have you gone out with more than once?” she asked, making me cover my face in shame with my free hand. Unfortunately, I couldn’t argue. I hadn’t found one, even remotely, suitable man from that website, despite having gone out on a date almost every week for months. Daphne couldn’t leave it at that. She continued speaking, and drove the nail of embarrassment in even further. “In fact, how many have you even finished?”
The site was awful, full of both sketchy and clueless men and women. It took hours and hours of my time, and a healthy dose of skepticism, to read between the lines on people’s profiles and try to weed out the undesirables. But I wasn’t ready to jump into the deep end of the pool quite yet and attend a party with Daphne. With the website I stayed anonymous, only letting people see what I allowed them to see. At a party, I’d be out in the open, exposed to anyone who might attend, and that scared the crap out of me.
I wished I had a witty reply or, even better, a snarky takedown to fire back at her, but it would be pointless because she spoke the truth. Of the ten dates I’d gone on with men from Whip Me, Love Me, I’d had to use my ‘get me outta here now’ emergency text seven times. Since Daphne rescued me each and every one of those seven times, she knew exactly how many dates I’d bailed on, and she took great pleasure in coming up with increasingly wild and ridiculous ways for me to escape.
Last time she’d shown up dressed in her shortest, flashiest dress and highest heels, stumbled to our table and plopped down in his lap. She proceeded to turn to me and sloppily ask, “You drop the drugs in his drink yet? I’m already done with my target.” Then she slammed a clearly empty wallet on the table before turning and blasting a drunken smile at my date.
While her antics both horrified and amused me in equal measure, they apparently terrified the guy. He jumped up like his chair had caught fire, dumping Daphne on the floor like a sack of moldy potatoes and ran for the door without a backward glance.
Luckily she’s got enough booty to cushion a fall, and since she wasn’t even slightly tipsy, she landed somewhat gracefully, without looking like an idiot. Also good since her entrance had caused quite a stir.
She righted herself within seconds and settled into the now vacant seat across from me, ignoring the curious stares. “What was wrong with this one?”
“Taxidermy is his favorite hobby.”
Daphne waved over the waitress who took a few seconds to remove herself from her post by the bar where she stood wide-eyed, staring at our antics. Apparently she’d never seen an emergency rescue play out like that before. “So? That’s not too weird. People hunt around here and mount the heads, or whatever.”
True, but she didn’t quite understand the depths of this man’s obsession.
“He’s really into it.” I sipped the full martini sitting in front of me, my first of the night. “As soon as I got in his car, he introduced me to Ralph, his pet bunny.” Another sip while Daphne put in her order and I waited for the waitress to be out of hearing distance. “His deceased pet bunny.”
Instead of laughing like I expected she would, Daphne looked like she wanted to reach over the table and smack me. “How many times have I told you to meet these guys wherever you’re going? You do not get into cars with strange men you meet on the internet. My ten year old niece knows that rule better than you!”
For the second time in ten minutes almost every head in the place turned toward us thanks to Daphne’s high-pitched shrieks. “Would you be quiet?” I hissed. “I usually always follow that rule, but he’s friends with my cousin so I thought it would be fine.”
We’d been friends for years and Daphne knew my family as well as I did, so I braced before I replied, “Howard.”
Instead of shrieking like a banshee again, she burst out laughing. This drew just as many stares as my date running out the door. She sounded like a piglet on laughing gas. “You thought because this guy is friends with your cousin Howard he’d be safe? Your cousin, Howard, who still lives at home and spends the majority of his life preparing for some unknown apocalypse which he intends to ride out in a bunker in his parent’s back yard?”
I didn’t have any response better than a glare, so I took another healthy sip of my drink. She was right. I knew it about ninety seconds after the car carrying me to my certain death pulled away from the curb in front of my apartment. That’s why I immediately started texting Daphne.
“Iris, you need to stop and think before you make decisions.” She’d thankfully lowered her voice to a whisper, but pinned me with a potent glare. “Sometimes it’s funny when you do something crazy and impulsive, but other times it’s really, really not.”
I heard almost the exact same words in my ear now, though with quite a bit more exasperation and worry, than that night two weeks ago. “You can’t keep going on these blind dates. Just come to a party with me so I can keep an eye on you and make sure you don’t get into trouble.”
That was the last thing I wanted to do, but I wouldn’t be able to hold her off much longer. The last time I’d put myself out there I’d been lied to in the worst way and made to look like a home wrecking fool.
The people I’d met during the events hosted by the local BDSM group were nice, but none of the men had come even close to holding my interest, and others were downright offensive. Most of those that attended socials and munches were brand new and too young for me. Or had been around for ages and weren’t looking for monogamy. Not that I had any experience in the scene, but I wanted a man closer to my own twenty-eight years, not someone barely eligible to vote.
And I wanted to be the primary focus of whatever man I chose, not his second or third pick. I’m not bashing polyamory, not at all. As long as everyone consented, who was I to judge? I respected people who wanted that dynamic, but it wasn’t for me.
I’d unknowingly been a sidepiece before and, although that relationship awakened my kinky side, it left me with emotional scars that ran deep. I needed to have my man all to myself. I wanted a partner, a friend and a lover, all rolled into one perfect boyfriend. That also occasionally tied me up and spanked me.
Even though I didn’t agree with Daphne that a party would solve all my problems, I had to agree that my current methods weren’t bringing me any closer to my goal.
Maybe a party wouldn’t be so bad. Attending one also had the added bonus of giving me the opportunity to see other people play. I’d only participated in kinky activities with one person, and then only privately, so other than watching videos, reading books and living vicariously through recaps of Daphne’s many scenes, I didn’t have much experience. And making excuses and dodging Daphne’s repeated questions about why I wouldn’t go was getting old.
So I relented. “Okay, I’ll go to the next one with you. When is it?”
She let out a snort of glee in her excitement, and I heard her high-heeled shoes connecting with her hardwood floors as she jumped up and down through the phone. “Next week is Fourth of July weekend so there isn’t a party which means the next one is in two weeks. You’ll see, Iris. It will be great. You’ll meet someone and he’ll be perfect and you can stop going on these stupid dates.”
“Speaking of dates, I have to go. I’m supposed to meet him in twenty minutes.” No way was I cancelling now. I’d already given in to her demands. Her newly inflated ego didn’t need any more hot air, and that’s what I’d be giving her by proving her opinion of my methods even more correct.
“But…” She started to speak but stopped herself. Even still, I waited, knowing something else would come out of her mouth.
“I’m not going to bitch because you agreed to go to a party, and you’re at least meeting him there and not getting picked up and driven to your own funeral. I’ll be around until nine o’clock if you need a rescue but after that I’ll be at the party, so don’t wait too long to call it.”
“It will be fine,” I assured her even though I highly doubted it. Before she corrected me I added, “But I’ll call you if I need you.”
An hour, and one delicious chocolate martini, later, I felt good about my spur of the moment decision to keep the date. Or, rather, my refusal to back down in the face of my best friend deciding she knew what was best for me.
So what if I leapt headfirst into things sometimes? I figured I had a fifty-fifty chance of it turning out well and, in my mind, those odds were worth it.
Tonight, it had paid off. I’d spoken with this guy online for two weeks and he seemed like a good match. He attended college, but owned a successful enough business that it allowed him to have his own condo and a brand new car. Just those two things put him leaps and bounds ahead of most of the losers I’d gone out with recently.
The icing on the cake was that he looked the same in real life as he did in his pictures.
Engaging in online dating required a healthy dose of cynicism when it came to guessing the truth of people’s profiles, and a mega-sized version when looking at the pictures. Hell, even I scoured the depths of my cell phone for the best possible one of myself, and I posted it without any guilt about it being three years old.
This guy, though, this guy looked exactly the same as his profile. Six foot two, two hundred pounds of muscle and dark brown eyes.
Yes , I thought when I walked up to the table I had no trouble finding because he matched his picture so perfectly. Yes, the dating gods had finally shone me their grace and mercy and granted me a date who hadn’t lied on their profile. I rejoiced and ordered a drink.
We started with small talk, discovering neither one of us had been to this restaurant before, parking was terrible, and we both liked steak and hated reality television.
Things were going so well I threw caution to the wind and ordered a second drink when the waiter drifted by our table. I didn’t feel like fleeing, for a change, and I hoped that we’d actually move beyond the superficial pleasantries and dig deeper.
This proved to be the beginning of the end.
Before my refill even arrived I realized that, although he looked the same as his picture, he’d definitely fudged the details on his profile. A lot.
“Where do you live?” he asked as soon as the waiter stepped away after taking my order.
“Off of Elmwood. I have a cute two-bedroom apartment though it’s only big enough for me.” My kitchen was so small trying to share it with another person every day would be impossible. And the living room barely fit a two person sofa and chair. But, it was all mine.
“Okay, I’m about twenty minutes away from you so I have to make sure I leave your place by 10:30. I need to get back to my house to watch the fight. I have a few buddies coming over and I don’t want to leave them hanging.”
I laughed, assuming he was teasing, or being ironic since it was a first date, and wouldn’t that be funny to joke about. You know, how a stereotypical terrible first date would end. Ha, ha.
Rather than joining me in laughing at his silliness, he looked at me like I’d lost my mind. Not good.
“Soooo,” I started to say, changing the subject as the super cute waiter set down my second drink and a new beer for my date. The drink I now suspected I wouldn’t be enjoying, but would instead be using to douse the flames of my disappointment when I heard the answer to my next question. “Where did you go to college?”
“North Country Community College.”
Ok. Not so bad. Lots of people attended community college.
“What did you get your degree in?” I knew from chatting online that he owned a gym, so business management would make sense.
“I didn’t get my degree. Just went for a semester.” He took a swallow from the bottle of beer he ordered. “Then my gramps died and gave me the gym so I decided there was no point in sitting in a classroom all day when I could be lifting.”
The fire burning in my gut leapt up, urging me to make a dash for the front door, but I beat the flames down with a swig of chocolate flavored vodka. “If you’re running the gym, wouldn’t it have been good to take a few business classes?”
“Nah, my mom takes care of all that shit. I just hang out and lift all day. Check out the chicks.” I sucked down another much needed dose of life saving liquid before my head exploded. “You like chicks, right? All kinky girls like chicks.”
I clamped my mouth shut, refusing to answer for fear my words might carry the burning rage of a thousand women. No need to worry about an awkward pause though. He kept going.
“I’m friends with this girl who’d be into you. Loves blonde hair and big asses. Say the word and I’ll have her meet us at your place.”
My life saving drink slid down the wrong pipe, turning into the perfect excuse to get up from the table and run to the ladies room, choking and coughing the whole way. It took me two point three seconds to dig my phone out of my purse and call Daphne.
“Where are you?” I asked without saying hello when she picked up on the first ring. “I need a rescue ASAP.” I prayed she’d be close because I didn’t want to hear any more words come of Gym Guy’s mouth, too afraid my response to whatever he said next would land me in jail overnight.
“I’m sitting outside the restaurant. I’ll be right in.”
I didn’t stop to question the how or why of Daphne being parked outside the restaurant where I was on a date. Instead, I rushed back to the table just in time to see her entering the building.
“Oh no,” I fake gasped, trying to sound concerned. But Gym Guy was so engrossed in whatever he’d pulled up on his phone in my brief absence he didn’t even hear me. “My friend just walked in the door. I wonder what’s wrong.” I tried again, louder, taking in Daphne’s outfit as she approached.
She’d already dressed for the party and didn’t appear to give a shit that her black fishnets, gauzy black skirt and latex corset didn’t fit the uptown vibe of the restaurant.
“Oh my goodness, Iris. I need you right now.” She reached out and grabbed my wrist, using it to tug me out of my chair.
Shockingly, the appearance of a woman dressed in full fetish gear next to the table finally caught Gym Guy’s attention. “Damn babe, I see I lucked out, and you brought your own girl.”
His comment didn’t even faze Daphne, but it made me struggle to fight the urge to deck him. Fortunately, she knew me well and tightened her grip on my arm.
“No, it’s not that,” she said, giving him big puppy dog eyes. “I have an emergency and I need Iris to help me.”
His face fell then grew suspicious as he looked at us. I tried to school my expression into one of worry and concern for my friend’s, as yet unnamed, emergency, but I’m certain I failed and my joy at imminently leaving his presence shone through.
“What sort of emergency?”
Uh, oh. I turned towards Daphne, waiting for her to answer since I had no clue and no ability to make stuff up on the fly like her. Unfortunately she must have been having an off night because she started tugging me to the door, calling over her shoulder, “It’s emergent and ongoing. I really need her.”
I didn’t bother saying goodbye, or even waving, as she pulled me out of the front door and onto the sidewalk. “You’re lucky I still had my purse in my hand,” I grumbled as we practically sprinted to her car.
“You’re lucky I planned ahead and decided to wait outside for your call instead of staying home. If I hadn’t done that it would have taken me fifteen minutes to get here.” She pulled out into traffic without another word, apparently skipping the usual lecture. I didn’t miss it, but the silence made me uncomfortable. Daphne wasn’t one to hold back, and I didn’t like the way it made me feel. Like she couldn’t be bothered to even bitch at me.
“I’m sorry I keep putting you through this.”
“You don’t have to apologize; we’re best friends and that’s what I’m here for. That being said, I’m focusing on the fact that this will be the last time I’ll have to do this since you’re going to the next party and you’ll meet the man of your dreams.” She sounded so sure I couldn’t help but smile, even though I thought she was nuts.
Then I remembered. “I have one more date already set for next week,” I said, banging me head against the leather headrest.
“I’m not cancelling.”
I didn’t even bother to sugarcoat my answer. Daphne already knew all my flaws.
“He’s hot.” Yep. I’m a shallow bitch.
She clucked her tongue at me. “Looks aren’t everything, Iris. There’s a lot more to a man than his appearance.”
“I’m aware of that. But I can’t be with someone I’m not attracted to.”
“That’s why you keep calling me to bail you out of these nightmare dates. You place too much weight on looks and not enough on everything else.”
I didn’t want to argue with her because, to a certain extent, we were both right. I wanted what I wanted, and I was entitled to that, but hotness was definitely not an accurate indicator of compatibility. A lesson I’d learned well over the past couple of months.
“I’m going to keep this last date, but I promise not to make anymore.” I waited for her to agree, and when she didn’t, I pulled out the big guns. “Will you be my savior one more time if I need it, Daff Daff?” My childhood nickname for my best friend never failed. Even though I’d lived several hours away for the better part of the last decade, our friendship never waned. We’d kept in touch daily and visited each other almost every month.
“Yes, I’ll be there to save your ass,” she agreed, though she sounded none too happy about it. “I’ll always be there, Pinkie Pie. Especially when I’m proven right after you do what I’ve been telling you and end up meeting a great guy.”
I groaned. “I’ll go but don’t get your hopes up.”
“There are lots of people that go to parties you haven’t met yet. It’s a big organization and most of the people who’ve been around for a while just go to the parties and skip the socials and munches. You’ll meet plenty of new guys there.”
Daphne pulled to a stop in front of my building and put the car in park. “Just give it a chance, Iris.”
“I’ll give it a chance,” I promised, leaning over the center console to give her a hug. “Thanks for being my white knight. Again.”
“That’s what friends are for.” She hugged me back before I slipped out of the car into the sultry evening air. “I’ll call you tomorrow and tell you all about my night.”
“You better since that’s the only way I get any action these days.”
She pulled away, her laughter spilling out of the open windows, trailing behind her as she headed out for a night of fun. As much as I envied her, I wasn’t looking forward to entering her world. I’d never admitted it to Daphne, but part of what held me back was my fear I’d jump into a relationship with the wrong guy, and when talking about BDSM, the stakes were so much higher. Worry that my impulsiveness would get me hurt, just like last time, made me hesitate to go farther. I’d have to be careful and cautious, and neither of those things came naturally to me.
On that sobering thought, I trudged up the walk to my front door trying to figure out what I wanted to make myself for dinner.