Murder and mystery shroud Crimson Heat, an ultra-secretive BDSM club on the outskirts of Chicago. Given the opportunity to go undercover as a Dom, officer Dallas Whitten jumps at the chance.
Crimson Heat public relations adviser, Taryn Lenox, spends her time coordinating events that bring Dominants and submissives together. Submissive to the bone, Taryn wants a Dom who can fulfill her dreams, but taking that leap might cost her everything.
When fate brings Dallas and Taryn together, a spark beyond anything they ever imagined is ignited. However, Dallas' secrets and a sinister presence threatens to destroy everything their hearts desire.
Dallas sat at the round conference table looking over the files of every Dom and sub in the club. It was a staggering task. Not only were there fifteen Doms, there were over forty subs. Not to mention ten attendants, at least two of which worked every night. Oz also employed six bartenders, and ten Dungeon Masters. The list of suspects was growing by the second.
Closing the last file, Dallas heard the door open and watched Cooper and Oz walk in. Where Cooper was a strawberry blond, Oz was salt and pepper grey. Oz had bright grey eyes where Cooper’s were cobalt blue. They were like night and day. As they walked toward him, Dallas could tell Cooper seemed more at ease. The tension in his shoulders was gone and the tight scowl he had worn earlier was gone.
“Cooper informed me you have some questions. If you’d like, I can have lunch brought up, and we can discuss the files over a bite,” Oz said, taking the seat opposite from him. He had a rich British accent, and it suited him.
“That would be great. We’ll start with the Doms and work our way down.” Dallas situated himself and glanced over at Oz while he made the call for lunch. When he was finished, he turned his attention fully to Dallas.
“Lunch should be ready in twenty minutes.”
“Great. How about we start with Dante Petroloff?”
Oz sat back in his chair, his hands on the arm rests. He appeared comfortable, at ease, almost recklessly so. “Dante has been here since I opened the club. He works in Rockport as a SWAT officer. He’s got a clean record and his background was beyond reproach.”
“And was he here last night?” Dallas asked, making notes on his pad.
“No, he was on duty. I’m sure you can get the records easily enough.” Dallas wouldn’t have to do that. He knew when he finished reading the folder on him, Dante wasn’t the guy.
“That won’t be necessary. How about Arik Von Sutton?”
“He works with Dante on the same team. Both were working last night.” Oz grabbed two more folders and put them to the side. “These three are safe, plus you know Cooper.”
“I think I’d like to be the judge of that, Oz.” Dallas grabbed the folders and opened them up. Rune Stamford, District Attorney for Cook County. He couldn’t believe it. The mild-mannered yet tenacious DA was popular in the courtroom. He was also modest, staying out of the limelight. Slowly he closed the file and pushed it aside. “Okay, so we know these three are safe.”
Cooper and Oz both laughed at that, before Oz cleared his throat and leaned across the table, narrowing his eyes. “I found five files I thought might fit the bill. There are a couple of my Doms who’ve had incidents here. Two were banned from the club for two weeks for not paying careful attention to their submissives. Another was kicked out for not listening to a sub when she gave her safe word. In his opinion, she was too thin-skinned.”
As Oz continued on, he slid the files over to Dallas. “I looked through these. I didn’t see anything that would point to any one of them being the killer. The only thing they were guilty of were incurable cases of stupidity. Did any of them stand out to you?” Oz popped a curious brow.
“I found two, maybe three, but I’d need to meet with them first.” Dallas pulled out the three folders and opened them up. “Clive Bennett.”
“Clive? He’s never had any issues here. He’s quiet, well mannered…” Oz started.
“And had a run in with Arik and his submissive six months ago,” Cooper interjected.
“Oh? What happened?” Dallas pressed.
With a nonchalant lift of his shoulder, Cooper sat forward in his chair. “There’s not much to say. He came in, found Ryder, and thought she was available. He was shackling her to the spreader bar attached to the rafters when Arik came in and told Clive to back the fuck off.”
Alarm bells went off in Dallas’s head. Although Arik was a SWAT officer like Dante, pulling a shitty stunt like that could make you suspect number one. “What happened next?”
“Nothing,” Cooper snorted. “Clive just walked away.”
“Just like that? He didn’t fight or tell Arik to back off?” He couldn’t believe a Dom of any merit wouldn’t fight for his spot—wouldn’t exert his dominance.
“You have to understand, Clive is a little guy, kind of scrawny. Whereas Arik has a good half foot and fifty pounds on him.” Coop grabbed the file and pulled out the picture, shoving it at Dallas. He was right. The guy was skin and bone. He had a body like a kid, but with a five o’clock shadow and his ear pierced with a three inch gauge, he was nowhere near youth status.
“Okay, you have a point. What about Carmine DeLuca?” Dallas opened the other file and pushed it in front of Oz.
“No, he’s hardly ever here. He collared a sub about six months ago and only comes back once a month to keep his membership current.”
Well, shit. They had a murderer among them and not one of the members fit the profile. “Maybe we’re looking in the wrong place, maybe the perp is part of the staff?” Dallas questioned, stacking up the files.
“Could be, but only the Doms are allowed in the private rooms with a sub.” Oz blew out an exasperated breath.
“And who lets them in?”
“The attendants. Every hour, the codes change out automatically. We keep them on an app that’s on the club phones. None of the phones leave here.”
That didn’t necessarily mean anything. Someone could have hacked the phones for the code.
“I’m going to want to see all the phones from last night and I want the download of the codes used. It’ll help me figure out everyone who went into room ten last night.” He watched Oz nod.
“Dallas, we also have another idea for you.”
His head popped up from making notes and stared at Cooper. “Okay, shoot.”
“How would you feel about going undercover?” Oz sat forward in his chair, seemingly sizing up Dallas.
“I’ve done it before. I can do it again,” he shrugged.
“You’d have to fake it,” Coop chimed in.
“And you’d have to come to the new member mixer Friday night at nine.” Oz finished for him.
“First of all, I don’t fake anything. I’m a certified Dom,” he smirked, catching both Cooper and Oz off guard. It was during his dark time after being overseas that he was taken under the wing of his best friend and Master, Quin. Within months of being under his tutelage, the shades of gray he had begun to see in slipped away. Food had taste again, and he actually felt like he was alive, and not stuck in a fog any longer. “Second, I can make it to your little mixer on Friday.”
Oz eyed him speculatively, then reached into the pocket of his pants and brought out four different colored bands. “There is a twist. You’ll have to wear these while you’re at the mixer. Also we have one more one thing we’d like to go over with you.”
Eyeing the bands, he nodded. “I’m all ears.”