Dark Consequences

(8 customer reviews)

It was supposed to be fun. They are both experienced in the club singles’ lifestyle, but from the moment Connor and Laurel meet, sparks fly, heat spikes, and everything suddenly gets complicated.

Laurel wants something long term with Connor and is determined to get it, even if it means having to push him out of his comfort zone. Little does she realize just how close she is to pushing him over the edge.

When Connor pushes back, everything becomes twisted and distorted until they both end up facing their own dark consequences. Can they find their way back, or will the secrets of Connor’s past destroy them both?

Publisher’s Note: Book four of the Club Risqué series is a steamy, dark, sensual story which includes themes of power exchange.

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Sample Chapter

Prologue

 

 

Pain seared across her back, once, twice, more. Much more. Sometimes, she knew she was in too deep, but most of the time, she ignored it. She ignored it now. She was way past caring anyway, so what did it matter anymore?

And, yeah, she was lying to herself there, too. Just a tiny bit. Because it did matter; somewhere, deep in the furthest recess of her mind, she did care. Maybe.

Maybe that was why she was really here, taking such a severe thrashing from the club’s ultimate sadist, Master X. Maybe that was why she had become his slave because, deep down, maybe she did actually care, and maybe with some minute sliver of understanding, she didn’t want to let go of that final tiny thread.

Because as harsh and as brutal as it might appear to an outsider—as unfathomable and aberrant as it might seem, even to some of her friends—this single gossamer filament of masochistic intent was the only thing that was keeping her receptive to the rest of her life.

The welts, the bruises, the pain she chose freely and consensually were the only things, these days, that reminded her that she was alive.

As contradictory as that might sound, and Micah—or any other psychologist—would have a field day with it, she was sure, Laurel knew, on some deep, subconscious level, that without this ritual, this pain and humiliation to prickle the edges of her consciousness, then she would be lost.

If the flimsy thread of sadomasochism that tethered her shakily to this life was severed or broken, then Laurel knew, without a doubt, that she would succumb to the welcome oblivion that whispered to her mind and called to her body. That bleak, insidious darkness that constantly slithered just the barest fraction below reason and rationality. Waiting.

Waiting for the string to be cut so that it could gobble her up into a pit of desolation that she would never return from.

It called to her relentlessly. Incessantly. Whispering to her to give up, to give in, to succumb to the blackness and despair and free herself from this mortal coil, to snap that final, fragile strand of mortality, which tethered her to this precarious survival.

So, whether it was logical, or rational, or sane…or not, Laurel came here, to Club Risqué. And here, she instead succumbed to the pain.

Because in pain, at least, she could feel. She could scream; she could cry.

She could escape the subtly deceptive numbness that slithered its sinister and treacherous fingers stealthily through her mind and body, through her thoughts and feelings, with its devious and sneaky promises of detachment and indifference.

Instead, she freely embraced the physical torment and the erotic humiliation in one last, desperate struggle not to surrender to the final, peaceful void of nothingness that would be her demise.

* * *

Connor Griffin hadn’t set foot inside the east coast branch of Club Risqué in almost six months. Not just because he’d been sent packing back to the south coast headquarters of the Blackwood Universal Corporation with his tail between his legs, for the debacle involving his east coast counterpart’s PA, but because he simply hadn’t known how to deal with the pushy, gregarious Laurel Stanton.

And what he had dealt with, he’d managed dreadfully.

So badly, in fact, that Laurel’s boss, Desi Blackwood, was still barely speaking to him, which made things extremely uncomfortable when it came to her husband, Joel, who was one of his closest friends. It also made it unbelievably awkward for him to come here, despite the fact that he and Joel co-owned the BDSM club, along with their two other friends, Jake and Logan.

The only reason he was here now was because Logan was getting married, and tonight was his stag party and that was taking place here, at Club Risqué, in a joint, kinky bachelor / bachelorette event.

He’d arrived deliberately late in order to avoid all the pre-kink revelry. Now, as he looked around him, he could see his friends and their play partners getting into the swing of the evening. Even Jake Blackwood was there with his heavily pregnant wife, Charlotte, although, for obvious reasons, they were not participating. Connor had wondered how his friend and colleague had adapted to not being able to use his prized signature whip for the past several months, but it was obvious from just a quick glance that Jake was far more obsessed with his new wife and prospective fatherhood than with the fetish that had dominated his younger years to the extent that he initially wouldn’t even consider a relationship with Charlotte.

Connor felt the sharp fangs of change tearing into him. For the past twelve years, it had always been the four of them against the world. Whether that was the world of cut-throat, big business that had made them all rich—or even richer than they had been—or the world of BDSM and their focus on establishing a chain of top class, well managed clubs dedicated to the ethos of ‘safe, sane and consensual’.

Now, each of the others had fallen in love, branched off to form new alliances with their wives at the centre of their world. Not that he begrudged them a single moment. They all deserved their happiness, but Connor couldn’t help the pang of unexpected loneliness that shot through him at being the metaphorical ‘last man standing’. Sometimes, times like this, he wished he could let loose of the reins of his own personal demons long enough to allow someone close, close enough to enjoy a relationship like the ones his friends had embraced. But he feared that he wouldn’t ever be able to relinquish enough control to allow himself to be vulnerable to someone again.

In the past, whenever he had imagined himself with a wife, then his thinking led him towards someone sophisticated, reserved and passionless. Someone who would never even remotely threaten his hard-won emotional stability or his desperate need for absolute control.

The only woman who had ever come close to achieving that was Laurel Stanton. And the way that had turned out just proved that he was right to keep his distance. Laurel was small and curvy, vivacious and gregarious and impulsive; just like his stepmother had been. Launching herself into situations without a care as to whether it was the right thing to do simply because she saw something that she wanted and damn the consequences. Well, Rayleen had been that way anyway, and Connor could see distinct similarities in Laurel, although, in theory, he knew better than to tar someone with the same brush. In practice, it was never that easy.

Connor was a giant amongst men. Standing at 6″6′ and built like a line-backer, he was as solid as he was tall. As a teen, he had made himself strong so that no one could ever take advantage of him in the future, but the energetic advances of one diminutive little submissive had had him dissolving into a puddle of dread like a confused adolescent boy all over again.

He had tried; he really had; but Laurel just wouldn’t back off, wouldn’t give him a moment to breathe or regain his perspective. Even after he’d asked her again and again, until finally, he couldn’t take any more and the entire situation had disintegrated into one huge clusterfuck.

He hadn’t meant to hurt her, and physically, he never would have. But in his panic to contain things, he had gone a little bit overboard, and he realised, too late, the hurt he’d inflicted was more than skin deep.

Oh, not at the beginning. He had mistakenly thought that Laurel was nothing more than a good-time girl who shrugged off his harsh words like water off of a duck’s back.

He’d been so wrapped up in his own cares that he hadn’t stopped to consider her own, and that was something he deeply regretted and would probably never be able to put right.

Connor gave a deep sigh and looked around, picking out his friends from about the dungeon. His cloudy, grey-green eyes skimmed across the other members, absently cataloguing the condition and use of equipment, the efficiency of the door security and the presence and attention of dungeon monitors signified by their fluorescent armbands.

As his purely business-like evaluation scanned over one of the club’s more severe sadists, Master X, Connor found himself doing a double take. He wasn’t certain what it was that had pulled his gaze to the man’s slave, naked, except for a fiercely spiked collar, since there was little about her that was familiar to him. She was thin, almost to the point of being scrawny; her hair was a limp, non-descript mousy colour that wasn’t really a dark blonde but wasn’t richly brunette, either. Her skin was sallow looking, but Connor could see vicious raised welts across her back and buttocks where Master X hadn’t spared the whip.

As another blow rained down, a guttural, sobbing scream was wrenched from the woman’s throat and he knew, instantly, that it was that very familiar sound which had seized his attention.

Moving around so he could get a better look at the submissive’s face, Connor froze. His breath choked in his throat and his stomach roiled viciously as he stared at an almost unrecognisable Laurel.

With his guts threatening to revolt, Connor stumbled toward the exit, knowing that he couldn’t stay here a moment longer.

Offering up a silent apology to his friends for bailing on the festivities, he headed back to his hotel to try to get his head around what it was that he had just witnessed and exactly how he felt about it.

 

Chapter One

 

 

Eighteen months earlier…

Laurel had one eye on her work and one ear to the gossip mill. Her boss at Universal Holdings, Desirae Harper, was never the most forthcoming of people and as hard as Laurel had tried—and she had tried damn hard—the woman still kept her at arm’s length.

Still, Laurel prided herself that she had gotten closer than anyone else in the company, since she completely ignored the rebuffs. And since Desirae had hired Laurel as her Administrative Assistant five years ago, after Laurel had wormed her way into an interview that she didn’t actually have, being rejected during the shortlist stages due to lack of experience, Laurel had a dedication to Desirae that was almost unshakeable.

Laurel had worked her ass off to prove herself, determined that Desirae would never regret giving her that chance. She had put in long hours, picked up lunch when things got crazy, even collected Desirae’s dry cleaning when her boss was so busy that she barely had time to sleep. All without being asked and all despite constant reminders that such things were not part of her job description. Laurel continued to do them anyway.

For the most part, her efforts had paid off and Desirae was suitably impressed that whenever she made promotion on her sure-fire way to the top, she had insisted that Laurel stay with her, even going so far as to having that written into their contracts.

It was a dream come true for a girl straight out of college, who had far more audacity than experience, and Laurel never allowed herself to forget it.

She knew others often saw her as flighty and capricious, with her bubbly personality and sassy ways, but she worked damn hard.

She just played hard, too, and embraced life wholeheartedly. And she didn’t see why she should have to change her own innate character for anyone at all.

Still, she couldn’t quite claim Desirae Harper as a friend yet and even less of a confidante. Her boss could be downright tight lipped and unapproachable, and right now, Laurel was thinking up the best way to find out the deets on the latest speculation that was running rife around the building. And the building was positively humming!

Thus, Laurel was keeping her ear to the ground. She had personally taken the call to summon Desirae and every single one of the other directors to an emergency board meeting, so she knew that something huge was about to go down, and she was determined to find out what.

And she especially wanted to find out the identity of the huge hunk of man candy who had suddenly turned up amidst all of the commotion, too, because he was one sweet treat that she definitely wanted to take a bite out of…and maybe a couple of licks for good measure.

* * *

Connor Griffin stretched himself to his full height and arched his back to try to ease the kinks. He’d been sitting in a stuffy boardroom for most of the day in a distinctly chilly environment, talking in circles and getting precisely nowhere. Not that that was any surprise. He’d told his friend, Joel Blackwood, and his father, Joseph, joint CEOs for the Blackwood Corporation, where he was employed as Chief Finance Officer, that Universal Holdings wasn’t going to be open to the idea of a buyout.

The biggest surprise of the day had been the rather stunning revelation that Desirae Harper, his counterpart here on the East Coast, was none other than Joel’s long lost ‘perfect submissive’, Daisy Kidde. Now there was a story he couldn’t wait to get the juice on!

Still, after the shock had worn off, it had been strictly business and they’d all gone through the motions, as pointless as that had been, each side putting forward views and arguments for and against. It had been tedious and futile, neither side interesting in budging an inch, and, boy, were those boardroom chairs uncomfortable.

Back in his office on the south coast, he had a specially made office chair to accommodate his way bigger than average frame and, not long after, he’d commissioned something similar for their own boardroom meetings. Right now, though, he was a thousand miles from home and the chairs here were certainly not made to seat anyone of his massive proportions.

Plus, Joel was clearly in a weird-ass mood. It all added up to Connor being achy, strained and uncharacteristically on edge. Damn, he wished he were at home. He could have eased out the knots with his own brand of kink, with some willing submissive at Club Risqué.

Instead, he had nothing more interesting to look forward to than a boring night in a hotel room with the nebulous possibility of a dip in their pool if it wasn’t ridiculously busy. Oh, well, maybe the room service menu would offer something vaguely appetising; he really didn’t feel like another night of dining alone in a restaurant.

Rubbing his hands over his face in an effort to buck himself up, Connor made his way out of the building. He knew better than to think that either Jake or Joel would be available to check out the local nightlife if either of their responses to the lovely Ms. Harper were anything to go by. Joel, he could understand; the man had some unfinished business there. Jake? That had been another surprise; he could do no more than hazard a guess that the two of them must have been good friends at some point. Either way, both men had taken off in the direction of her private office.

It was as he neared the doors that Connor noticed the perky, buxom, admin assistant with the blonde and brown streaked hair and the laughing blue eyes. There was a purely mischievous air about her that brought a reluctant smile to his face.

It seemed pretty damn evident that she’d been lying in wait for him, from the way her eyes lit with purely feminine speculation and tracked him as he crossed the reception area, despite her very obvious attempts to look innocent. She failed at that badly.

Connor stopped and did nothing more than raise an eyebrow. The girl looked up at him from beneath coy lashes, her wide baby blues full of mirth and mischief.

Remaining silent, Connor crooked his elbow in her direction, then laughed out loud when she took it without so much as an ounce of hesitation. He liked a woman who was direct and didn’t play games. Well, not those kind of games, anyway.

“Well, hello!” Connor rumbled. “My name’s Connor, and you are?” he queried politely.

“I’m Laurel. Laurel Stanton,” she answered with a cheeky grin. “I’m Desirae Harper’s PA. I’ve seen you around a lot in the past week or two.”

“And you’ll likely see more of me over the next few months.” Connor laughed.

“Oh, I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing more of you,” Laurel purred suggestively. No mistaking the double entendre there!

“So…” Connor winked. “What do you do for fun around here, then?”

“Depends what kind of ‘fun’ you’re looking for,” she replied with a contrived flutter of her eyelashes.

“Okay.” Connor didn’t mind playing along. “What’s your favourite way to unwind, pet?”

The endearment paused her flirtatious onslaught and she stopped and looked at him speculatively, her eyes narrowing.

“There’s this club I go to a lot,” she said slowly. “It’s not everyone’s idea of a good time, but it’s mine.”

There was a different level of awareness between them suddenly, as if each of them recognised something in the other without being told. The frivolity of their initial conversation had been replaced with a moment of gravity. They had come to a standstill a few yards away from the main entrance, each observing the other with the utmost seriousness.

“And exactly what kind of club might this be, pet?” Connor deliberately emphasised the last word, a commonly recognised submissive endearment in BDSM circles.

Laurel’s eyes darkened as her pupils dilated, but she looked him straight in the eye.

“It’s a kink club,” she told him without a hint of embarrassment. “I could take you there as a guest on my membership, if you’d like.”

As soon as she’d delivered her offer, Laurel’s head dipped and she seemed to be staring intently at her feet, but Connor knew with every molecule of his dominant persona that it wasn’t because she was hesitant or unsure. He recognised the gesture for what it was, a sweetly submissive offer of deference and respect.

Connor’s own eyes fired as he subconsciously reacted to a kindred spirit. Crooking his fingers under her chin to lift her face back to his, Connor drew his thumb across her lips and murmured, “I would like that very much indeed.”

 

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8 reviews for Dark Consequences

  1. Marybeth

    This is book four of the Club Risque series. You do need to have read the three previous books to understand this one.

    Laurell and Connor have imploded and they are trying desperately to find themselves again. This is a real tearjerker and definitely more intense than any of the previous books. I was very satisfied with the HEA, but I will say it was an abrupt ending. I hope there is another book to tie up all the loose ends.

  2. Lori

    I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.   Laurel is a club submissive.  That means that without a Dom of her own, she scenes with whomever negotiates with her.  When she meets Connor, she begins to dream.  Problem is, she’s the one doing the dreaming.  This was a really good read.  Note that this read has some harsh scenes and raw emotion. 

  3. Ronald

    Emotional affair
    Laurel is a finance manager at a big company – Connor is a senior executive and part owner of a BDSM club. They meet and an affair starts involving some spankings etc., but he has serious problems from his past and it gradually begins to destroy the relationship that they have – and almost destroys both of them in the process. The book takes many twists and turns as it all gets sorted out – but Connor is one of the least attractive doms in the stories I have read. His problems, his terrible behavior, and his blindness to the feelings of Laurel make it hard to take – even if he does redeem himself in the end.

  4. Etta

    I loved this book. I can’t think of any other book – kinky or vanilla – I’ve read in the last few years that has gripped me as much as this one did. I have spent the last few days getting increasingly frustrated with things like work and family and sleeping getting in the way of my erotica reading time.

    I was utterly invested in the two primary characters – sexy Dom Connor Griffin and feisty sub Laurel Stanton – from the start. Although, a lot of the time, I wanted to bang their heads together and tell the pair of them to bloody well communicate properly with one another.

    Dark Consequences isn’t a particularly comfortable read. When we are introduced to Laurel and Connor at the beginning of the book, it is clear that whatever the relationship they previously had, it has failed and they are both at very unhappy places in their lives.

    The majority of the book is focused on the events leading up to the prologue. Which means that we, the reader, already know that the fun sexy relationship that blossoms between the two characters isn’t going to remain that way forever. A large chunk of the book is spent watching the slow deterioration of a relationship. It’s a relief when the story finally gets to the point at which it started. Things can only go up from there.

    One of the things I really admired about this book was how seriously it took the subject of mental health problems. I have a personal interest in this subject. I have lost count of the number of times I’ve read a book’s heroine being able to overcome all manner of serious mental illnesses – clinical depression, trauma, nervous breakdowns, you name it, simply with the love and discipline of a good Dom. It’s the kinky equivalent of being told to pull your socks up. Poppy Flynn certainly doesn’t do this. The fact that in this book, one of the primary factors in overcoming depression involves taking their prescribed medication is actually quite a refreshing change.

    I realise that I am making this book sound as though it is No Fun At All. This couldn’t be further from the truth. It is, after all, a book which is pretty much wall-to-wall sexy BDSM shenanigans. Laurel’s kinky outfits were alone enough to make me drool. And the scenes that the characters play out together – and they do a LOT of scenes believe me – are a delight to read. And I can’t begin to describe how much I would love to have an establishment like Club Risqué in my home town. I was very jealous of Laurel who could just pop down there after work multiple times a week.

    This book is the fourth instalment in the Club Risqué series. I haven’t read any of the previous books in this series but this certainly wasn’t a problem. There is a large cast of characters however whose stories are barely touched upon. These are obviously the protagonists of the other books in the series. Their stories appear to be happening concurrently with Connor and Laurel’s so I am looking forward to reading the rest of the books in the series and seeing how Poppy Flynn blends the stories together.

    I hope that the rest of the Club Risqué books are even half as good as this one. Having been desperate to get to the end of Dark Consequences to see how it all ends up, I now feel a bit bereft now that I’ve finished it.

  5. Toni

    I’m loving this series! I have yet to read a book in this series that I haven’t wholeheartedly enjoyed! This, like the others runs in a parallel time to the other books, meaning that they can all be read as standalone. While there is some common events & sharing of characters, each book is very firmly focused on the 2 main from that read. In this case, it’s Laurel & Connor, who have become familiar from the other books so I was really pleased to be able to get their story. And what a story! This book had emotion by the bucketful & dealt with some pretty unfluffy feelings & situations. Hope there is more to come in this series.

  6. Monika

    Dark Consequences is book four of the Club Risqué series. Each book can be read as a standalone.

    Connor and Laurel drew me in right from the beginning, these are beautifully written characters and they do have a lot of chemistry. I loved all the twists and turns of this story, and I also enjoyed the hot intimate scenes. I hope there will be many more books of this series.

  7. Nancy

    Connor and Laurel, experienced in the bdsm lifestyle, find they mesh really well, playing at the dungeon. Laurel is a real brat, but Connor maintains order. She wants him more than just a play partner, but he has issues to overcome. A great story, enjoyed it very much. I voluntarily reviewed an advanced reader copy of this book.

  8. Redrabbitt

    The story is the fourth in the Club Risque series but could read well enough as a stand-alone. It does have many key people that are in the previous two books. The story is a roller-coaster ride of emotions and truths, assumptions, poor communication, hurt feelings, new beginnings, and trying to bury the past. It is also the on and off situation between Connor Griffin and Laurel Stanton—two people who click well, but the past interferes with the present and is nearly the destruction of each of them.

    I will have to say that this wasn’t an easy story to read with all the angst, hurt feelings, physical and mental-emotional roller coaster rides and the demons haunting them. The story will also go back to when Joel and Desi marry and leave for their honeymoon. The issues between Connor and Laurel will escalate until things said and done, and lack of proper communication causes such a riff that leads to breakdowns.

    “Don’t wait around trying to be somebody’s perfect. Either you’re right for them as you are, or you’re not. Be yourself; if that’s not good enough for them, then at least let it be good enough for you. No matter what you feel, yourself, you can’t change somebody else’s feelings for you—well, you can make them hate you, but you can’t make them love you.”

    Connor is a player, yet he and Laurel, aka Fluff, have been unofficially exclusive but without any contract, verbal agreement, or commitment with a D/s relationship. He even comes over for meals at least once a week and spends many nights with her. The fact that they are developing feelings of love has him scared, and that will be one of the catalysts for his cruel behavior. The second will be a failure in an important message getting to her—she doesn’t know he is one of the club owners and with obligations to clients—leading to a personal disaster between them.

    “It’s made me feel cheap and –used and—dirty. In all my years in this lifestyle, even around people who didn’t understand or were critical, I never felt dirty before.” –Laurel

    “As co-owner of Club Risque, the consequences would be even less since he hadn’t overstepped any boundaries there—pushed them a little bit more than a Dom in his position should have, certainly. But he’d broken no promises, promised no assurances, and assured no repercussions. Not in the sense of the lifestyle, anyway. There were repercussions all right, but none that he had expected. It was true that they had become a bit of an item, unofficially, of course. He’d purposely never taken any steps to enter into any kind of contract or an official D/s relationship with her. She was an experienced sub. She knew the score. She knew there had never been any promises—nothing even close. Hindsight was always 20/20.”

    The plot will start at present and then back up to the D/s relationship that Connor and Laurel play, along with working together at Blackwood Universal Holdings. While they have scened together for a year when he is in town, there is no commitment, it is always assumed—and that finally blows up on them. Back to present day, seeing Laurel after more than six months and she is a shell of what she had been, sceneing with Master X, a known sadist, is more than Connor can handle. It is time to be open and honest and stop letting the demons of his youth dictate his happiness. But what will it take to get Laurel to listen to him—will Xavier be agreeable to turning her back over to him? Can he help bring the bubbly Laurel back to life? Will she hate him when she learns the truth of his past, or will she understand and forgive him?

    “Conner felt that the information was the final thing that Laurel needed to complete her healing and make her whole. And, for his own part, Connor believed that it was time for him, too, to tell the story of his past indignity to someone other than his therapist. If there was anyone who deserved to know, then it was Laurel.”

    The story does have explicit sex scenes, scenes inside of Club Risque, voyeurism and power exchange. It strongly supports the D/s relationship, the trust required between a dominant and submissive, and everything being safe, sane, and consensual. It also shows the importance of being honest and open in a relationship and when being exclusive, how a contract makes a difference for both parties.

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