Novelist and competitive board game player, Kira, sits down opposite her Scrabble opponent, Grahame Gaines, a few moments after the buzzer rings. Little does she know that 'apology' is more than his first word of the game; it is also her first sense that Grahame is less an opponent than the Dom she's been hoping to meet to help her explore her hidden submissive urges.
When this kinky and ultra-wealthy corporate magnate spots her again during her introductory visit to a local S&M club, he offers up his services as a mentor to indoctrinate her into the world of sexual slavery, and her lessons in Communication Skills begin.
During their visit to a private Manhattan sex parlor, Grahame has a catsuited Domme and her harem of slave girls put a reluctant and defiant Kira through her paces, using fetish wear, bondage, canes, floggers, dildos, and an introduction to bisexuality, to ensure that Kira will be adequately prepared to serve her Master–but only should she prove pleasing enough for his collar. Kira slowly learns that serving Grahame–no matter how perverse his demands–is far more rewarding than winning any word game.
Content Warning: contains explicit sexual scenes and BDSM
Note: This book has been previously published, and it won the Golden Flogger Award for Best Novella 2017 from the BDSM Writer's Con. Since the original publication, the book has been revised and expanded.
Pesce is packed like sardines, I quipped nervously to myself as I pushed through the horde crowding the entry foyer and approached the hostess desk. Before I could say a word, the maître d' intervened. He was a confident, olive-skinned gentleman whose nametag read SAVERIO.
"Ms. Kira?" he asked.
"Mr. Gaines is waiting. Right this way."
What did 'Mr. Gaines' need me for anyway? Between Brandon at the club and this restaurant domestic, he clearly already had a slew of slaves to do his bidding. Saverio led me into a private dining room at the back of the restaurant. It was small but elegant. The wallpaper had a pale-yellow background with thin, green, intertwining vines, all illuminated by an elegant crystal chandelier. There were three tables inside—each with a sophisticated table setting and exotic black orchid centerpiece—but only one was occupied.
Grahame, dressed in a dark blue Armani suit, stood up as I entered, glancing down at his Rolex and then back to me with a smile. I couldn't deny that he looked hotter than flowing lava. "Ah, Kira. On time. At last."
I bit my tongue as Saverio pulled out my chair, unfolded my napkin, placed it on my lap, nodded to Grahame, and removed himself. Once he'd closed the doors to the dining room behind him, I felt compelled to defend myself.
"Once. I was late once."
"Sometimes once is all it takes," he said in a deep, steady voice as he sat back down. "First impressions are everything, you know."
I gulped, sensing we were no longer speaking about the Scrabble tournament where we'd met and competed. "It's not what you think. I went to that BDSM club because my friends were curious. It was my first time there."
"Why do you presume to know what I was thinking?"
I felt myself start to shiver. He was so different from every man I'd ever dated. It was clear he knew what he wanted. And he wasn't about to give up an inch of territory. If his tone of voice didn't make that unequivocal, his body language certainly did. Direct eye contact. Leaning forward but just out of reach. This was his show, and he was going to run it. I was tempted to leave, but always the novelist, I wanted to see how it would all play out.
"Don't do that, dear. Very unbecoming. Trust that I'll tell you everything that I'm thinking or that I believe you need to know."
I felt my temperature rising. A feminist enraged. "Are you telling me not to think?"
"Not at all. I'm telling you not to guess at what I'm thinking. You'll know soon enough. Maybe you'll even like it." He shot me a patronizing smile. I wasn't sure whether I should smile back or fling the contents of my water glass in his face.
Two waiters entered the room, one with a basket of warm bread and the other with a menu for Grahame only.
"Don't I get one?" I asked.
Silence. I expected to hear the chirp of crickets at any moment.
Grahame studied the menu and looked over at me. "Any allergies?"
The question took me by surprise. "Uh, no."
"The lady will start with the Coquilles St. Jacques and then the lemon sole for the main course. I would like the escargot and then the sea bass." He handed the menu back to the waiter, who immediately took his leave.
"Excuse me. Who's assuming now? How do you even know that I like Coquilles St. whatever?"
"You either do, or you'll learn to. Either way works."
"Why the hell did you invite me here? So you could prove your superiority in ordering? Or did you have something more concrete in mind?" I saw a glint of amusement in his eye. Was he getting off on my frustration? Or simply a lover of schadenfreude in general?
"I saw you wide-eyed in the dungeon, and I thought perhaps you'd like some questions answered. Preferably by someone who knew what he was talking about."
"So, you're here as a mentor? Is that it?"
"If that's all you want, sure."
Now it was my turn to study him. He seemed genuine. He was admitting to knowing his way around the world of BDSM. Surely, if he tried to use my curiosity against me at the tournament, I could turn around and do the same to him. But I still was unprepared to come completely clean.
"I'm writing a book. I am researching in a purely academic capacity."
"For being the only woman on the face of the earth who's chosen to write erotica without harboring any interest in it whatsoever. I bet you're absolutely terrible at poker. We should play sometime."