Our band was on a break when I received a drink from an admirer. Unlike a typical fruity cocktail, or worse, a beer, this admirer sent a glass of champagne. A brand, the bar we are playing does not stock. I lifted the delicate flute and took my first sip. It was pure deliciousness. Closing my eyes, I let the taste carry me away. I moaned at the pleasure on my tongue, knowing the sound I emitted was drowned out by the club’s pounding music, the sounds of laughter and loud talking.
When I looked around to see whom my admirer was, my eyes landed on him. A ruggedly handsome face with intelligent eyes watched me intently, and his lips lifted in a smug smile. I felt a tug deep down in my core. I would have to watch out for this one; he spelled trouble with a capital T.
He did not approach me, and I did not invite him over to join me. I was going to chalk up this new admirer to an intriguing, but intimidating prospect and hope he would leave by the end of the night.
When our final set ended, I left with my fellow band members, Steve and Marshall. My admirer was nowhere in sight. I sighed and made my way up to my darkened studio at peace. My relief was short-lived. The next night, my admirer was there, and each night that week.
We began a courtship dance of sorts. I hated to admit, but I began to look forward to seeing my admirer. On my break, he would send me an exotic drink that my taste buds would welcome, delighting my pallet every night. I would toast him from across the room, acknowledging his gift but not inviting him over.
The man, whose name I learned from the bartender, was Iver. He looked like an Iver, tall, dark and handsome, probably 6’4″ with dark Anglo-Saxon features and bright blue eyes that glittered in the darkness of the club. He had quite the physique, not massive, but sculpted, and he was a total predator.
It was the final night of our gig, and our band was out in the alley smoking a joint. I didn’t usually indulge, been there and done that. As it was the last set of the night, I figured why not. After tonight, I had a week off until our next gig in Greenwich Village, and I was looking forward to it.
We were about to head back in when a gang of miscreants surrounded us; our three to their six were not good odds. Marshall and Steve stood in front of me; being the only girl in either group, I guess they thought this made me vulnerable. Little did they know, I’d been taking taekwondo for years. Being single and a band girl out late at night, I’d signed up for classes at the suggestion of my brother Finn.
It had been a good suggestion.
I was moving into a fighting stance when Iver and another man of more enormous proportions stepped out of the back door and into the alley, flanking us. The pack got the hint and moved away, loping down the lane in the opposite direction.
Iver introduced himself and his friend, Raphe, to Steve and Marshall. After shaking hands, they headed inside. Following the guys into the safety of the club, Iver asked if he could speak with me for a moment. Steve glanced back, checking to see if I was okay. I nodded, and he continued in the door, following Raphe and Marshall, the three of them talking and joking around like old friends.
“Isabelle,” Iver said. And the way he said my name sent shivers down my spine to my knees. His voice was deep but not harsh. It soothed and invited me into his space. I felt compelled and knew he was not a simple admirer.
I gazed into the light blue ice chips that were his eyes. They seemed like endless glacier pools, but they held no malice in them, the very opposite was true. His eyes were smoldering with passion, fiery passion.
How could that be? I didn’t know the man. What could I have done to ignite such passion? I prided myself on being a good judge of character, but he was such a contradiction. One thing I did know that what I was seeing and what was real, were not the same things. My instincts wanted me to run, while a completely different side wanted to know this man.
“Who protects you, Isabelle?”
Say what? I was so engrossed in my thoughts that I almost missed his question. Who protected me? I protected me, of course, but I got the feeling that was not the answer he was asking. “I have two brothers,” I finally answered, wondering where his line of questioning was going.
“And where are they?” he asked gently.
“Living their lives,” I said with an edge, “and I don’t see how it’s any of your business?”
He frowned; maybe he was not used to an outspoken woman. Or perhaps he thought I was rude. Either way, I didn’t care. He’d hit a trigger; who protects me? Really? What the hell was that?
“You need someone in your life, a protector, someone to keep you safe and in line,” he added with a small grin, his twin pools emitting a strange light that I had not noticed before.
Despite his teasing, my body felt that sensation again, molten lava right down to my core, making my knees weak, almost giving out from the power of his words. Iver wasn’t speaking to my intelligence; he was talking to my psyche, what made me tick. I had no doubt what being my protector meant with Iver.
Suddenly having a vision of me being held in his arms, seeing him drive me to gigs and seeing him watching me, always watching me, from the corners of the smoky clubs I was playing, I had a shiver run down my spine and shook it off.
“That may be, but I have raised myself and have no problem dealing with whatever comes along. It was nice to meet you, Iver, but I must get back inside.”
I headed in the door, feeling his eyes on my back until the door swung closed. I blew out my breath, feeling as if I had just undergone a battle and not sure I came out the victor. Now if I could only avoid him for the rest of the night. My hope was short-lived; when I re-entered the club, I spotted Raphe sitting with Marshall and Steve.
All three looked up at me, and then all three sets of eyes moved behind me in unison. He was behind me. Iver, I could feel his gaze; it was commanding, searing me to my core. My breath caught, and my body froze, I’m sure I looked like a deer caught in the headlights.
I was thankful when, in the next moment, the guys rose and headed to the stage. I followed and blew out another deep breath. At this pace, I would render myself unconscious if I kept holding my breath whenever I felt Iver’s eyes on me.
“Hey, Isabelle, Raphe invited us to his friend’s after-hours club, wanna join?”
I was about to decline when Marshall added, “Come on, Isabelle, it won’t be the same without you, and besides, this could be another potential gig for us; you’ve heard of Swank?”
I stopped in my tracks. “That BDSM club? You can’t be serious?”
“Well, that’s just the two bottom floors, Isabelle, the top two are insane. They hold a thousand people and have a track record of successful artists coming out of there with record deals. Raphe said that the recording industry giants are regulars; this could be a chance for us?”
My gut told me to run, but I was curious. How come the industry giants frequented that particular club? I knew it was known for being the largest club in New York City’s west side. That alone would draw in the rich and famous. I’d heard that even Hugh Heffner had made it out to the opening and cut the ceremonial ribbon.
I never thought I would ever get in. I knew it had a waiting list a mile long, and the names that filled the list were not ordinary folks, like myself. “Yeah, yeah, don’t get your panties in a twist; I’ll tag along.”
The guys and I were going to take a cab, but Raphe had his driver pick us up in a short limo. I had another moment of panic and almost didn’t step inside the vehicle. Something told me that if I did, my life would be irrevocably changed.
I knew when we arrived, as the line-up down the street gave it away. Raphe’s driver dropped us at the curb, directly opposite the red carpet. Two enormous men stood on either side. They both wore suits and sunglasses. I gazed at those glasses; they were not your typical nightshades. I think they had thermal imaging in them. Holy hell, how did I know that, and who were these guys to have thermal imaging?
I drew my gaze away from the two enormous doormen, undoing my seat belt. I was about to open the door when it opened for me. Raphe took my hand as I stepped out of the limo, his grip firm on mine. He gazed down at me from his massive height; he had to be close to six foot eight, his shoulders were so broad. Maybe he was a retired football player. But he looked so young, mid to late twenties; he shouldn’t be an ex or retired anything at this point. If he were a professional athlete, he would be in his prime.
Iver waited until we had all exited the limo and stood on the red carpet, then linking my arm through his, we walked up the few stairs and into the club. My senses were assaulted from all angles once we stepped through the doors.
I was surprised by the size of the club. From the outside, one would never know how big and soundproof the building was. I had only felt the pulse of the music when I was just outside the doors, but inside, was entirely different.
The lights were dim, but not so dark that you couldn’t see. Ahead, in what looked like a giant floating birdcage, were two D.J.s working the sound. The two-tiered dance floor was packed. And it wasn’t with people all my age, either. The place drew an eclectic crowd, but one thing was evident by the appearance of the dancers, wealth. I doubted there was anyone of my financial caliber in the club.
I was suddenly aware of how I must look. Here were the guys and I, fresh off a gig, all leathered out with lots of dark make up, standing beside two incredibly gorgeous, rich men. I must have looked like a street rat in comparison.
I was about to tell the guys I was heading home when Iver leaned down to whisper in my ear. “Before you bolt, come and have a drink with me. If you go now, the guys may also leave, and maybe, you will all miss out on an opportunity.”
His mouth so close to my ear sent chills down my spine. His voice was like a warm blanket. Whenever he spoke, I felt my body being wrapped by him. I think for your typical girl that would have been highly desirable. But for one who claimed independence and had done so at a high cost, not so much.
I prided myself on not needing anyone, especially one of the opposite sex. Besides, both my brothers were overbearing already, so the thought of another one getting control of my life was as intolerable as the thought of wearing shackles. No, just no. But why not play along for tonight? A recording contract would be a welcomed event in my life.
Raphe led us to a table that was set apart and offered us an excellent viewing vantage. I loved people watching, and this was a perfect spot for it. I soon became engrossed with the activity around us.
There were some beautiful people here, especially women. Again, my street rat appearance crossed my mind. But as no one seemed to be noticing me, no pointing fingers at the Goth girl and her friends, I sat back and let it go. Did I care what a bunch of strangers thought of me?
No way, but did I care what Iver thought of me? I glanced in his direction; he was so good looking, it almost hurt to gaze at him. Okay, so maybe I cared a little, but he’d been watching me for nearly a week, and I’d looked as I did right now.
Raphe ordered drinks and shots. I can take a lot, so I pounded them back and had no problem requesting more. I wasn’t paying the bill, so I didn’t care, and this charade would end after tonight, so no harm, no foul as far as I was concerned.
At least that is what I told myself. My body, however, had an entirely different reaction. The longer I was seated beside Iver, the more my traitorous body wanted him. It was like he had specialty come-hither pheromones that attracted me, attacking my senses, and he seemed to know of my struggle.
Iver’s lips ever so lightly brushed my earlobe as he spoke my name. “Isabelle, come dance with me.”
I shrugged nonchalantly and let him guide me to the floor. Therapy came on, by Duke Dumont. A lazy smile lifted the left corner of my mouth. It was time to test Iver; could he dance? I mean, really dance? If he could, maybe I would give in to my attraction for him?
I let myself be free, sidling up to him. I turned around and ground my ass into his groin, which sprang to attention immediately. Ha, that would serve him to mess around with me. I swung back around and took in my dance partner.
He moved like a friggin’ professional dancer without looking uptight. He wasn’t performing, and he wasn’t classically trained; it was natural. Figures, I huffed. The song changed. It wasn’t a new one, but it was a redone one and the singer Michelle Kash was killing it.
I felt myself get taken over by the music, my eyes hooded as the sounds and vibrations resonated within me. I tried not to allow myself to let go too often. I knew that when I danced, it was like an elaborate seduction and I looked like a sex kitten.
Looking like a wanton nymph was unintentional. I just got lost in myself, and the world around me disappeared, the same as when I played drums. I often attracted unwanted attention. That was why I dressed the part of the Goth when we played. I had become very good at schooling myself to appear calm about everything. The better I was at remaining aloof, the better chance I had at avoiding uncomfortable situations.
What I looked like, and what I was, were very different. I’d never been comfortable with my looks. I felt they compromised me, and predators, like Iver, seemed to detect my uneasiness. Within seconds of letting go of my reserve, men surrounded us.
I mean, they made a circle around me, with Iver being one of them. He grinned like he thought it was a great game. I was surprised; a control freak would typically be getting into a fistfight by now. So, unhindered, I let go of all my inhibitions, dirty dancing with each in turn and letting myself go in a way I never had. I felt utterly safe, which was ridiculous, considering the men around me were all big and in excellent physical condition.
Despite my internal struggles and my uneasiness around men in general, I wanted this one. Watching Iver move was turning me on. I could feel the wetness between my legs and wondered if he knew the effect he had on me.
I spared a glance for Iver; his eyes glittered as he followed my every move. He wasn’t jealous because he was arrogant and perfect. I was an idiot if I thought what I was doing would make him jealous. The game was no longer fun. I moved off the dance floor and back to my table, to find Marshall and Steve with a gaggle of young women hanging all over them.
I rolled my eyes and sat down, waving over a server. I ordered eight shots all for myself and lined them up, downing one after the other. I wanted to evoke a reaction in Iver, something to throw him off and change that confidant smirk into something less confidant. Acting as a brat had always worked well with my brothers.
Iver had rejoined me at the table by the time the shots arrived, and I stared into his eyes with a smirk on my face as I downed each one. I could tell my behavior was annoying him. I almost crowed with the momentary power I felt, moving the favor back from his court to mine.
A part of me was elated that I’d found a way to press his buttons. With the last shot downed, I turned it over on the table and looked at him with amusement. Let’s see what the control freak would do now.
“Isabelle, I will escort you home.”
It was a statement, not a question. “I’m perfectly happy to take a cab home, thank you.”
He seemed to consider my words before responding. “You may be happy with that choice, but I am not, so I will escort you home and make sure you arrive safely.” His voice dropped a few octaves so only I could hear what he said next. “And then we’ll play another game.”
I grinned, just what I expected from his personality. “Sure, you can escort me home. I live in a shitty little bachelor apartment. So, don’t be expecting to enter a palace. My only passion is to play drums, and I don’t care about where I live.”
I don’t know why I bothered to share that. I guess I was warning to have zero expectations when it came to me. When we arrived, I unlocked the door and invited Iver in. “Welcome to chez Isabelle,” I joked. He took in the place at a glance; you could see the whole area from the entryway. Then he grabbed a chair and placed it in the middle of the one large room.
I grinned; this could prove to be an exciting game. I was tipsy, but not drunk. Most of the alcohol I consumed I’d burned off dancing, and the shots gave me only a momentary buzz. For some reason, I’d always been able to consume vast quantities of alcohol, and it rarely affected me. My brothers were the same, and for that reason, we usually didn’t bother drinking much.
Tonight’s indulging had been mainly to test Iver and enjoy some beverages that I couldn’t afford with the pay I made. Living in New York costs a fortune.
“Isabelle, come to me.”
I laughed; was he trying to compel me? My mind was enjoying the game; my body was giving away my true feelings, however, and I didn’t know how long I would be able to deny them. Putting the chair in the center of the room had made me hotter than hell. My black thong was soaked, and I was beginning to feel an ache in my lady parts that needed addressing.
Maybe I could give in just this once and have sex with an actual person instead of the gadget I kept in my bedside table. “Why, Iver?” I purred. “Give me one reason to walk over to you.”
He smiled in a way that made my core tighten and my knees go weak. “Isabelle, if you walk to me willingly, I will show you incredible pleasure. If you do not, you won’t sit down for a week.”
“What if I decide I don’t want to play this game and wish you to leave; will you honor that?” It was suddenly essential to me that I chose what happened next and that he told me what I suspected was right, that he was an honorable man.
He sat back and regarded me, the twin pale pools of light like a beacon in the night, beckoning me. It was all I could do to stand my ground. I needed to know that whatever went down tonight, it happened with mutual consent.
“I can smell your excitement, Isabelle, drenched in your nectar. Your fragrance is intoxicating, like heaven, to my senses. I want to taste you to give you pleasure beyond anything you have ever experienced. Will you allow that?”
Oh god, I wanted to jump on his lap and never get off. But experience had taught me consensual sex was the only way to go. “I would like to, Iver, but I need your word, and I am recording it.”
“Of course, Isabelle, I will honor your request. If at any time you want me to stop what I am doing, I will stop. If I feel your resistance, I will stop and ask again for your permission. Does that fulfill your requirements?” he smirked.
Damn him! The foreplay was over. Placing my phone down, I strutted over to Iver and sat down on his lap. His long, muscular legs were hard beneath my backside. I felt how strong they were through his expensive designer pants. I also felt his bulge, which felt enormous, and I hoped in proportion to the rest of his large, godlike body.
Suddenly feeling self-conscious, I asked, “How old are you, Iver?” I was not a good game player; I was too upfront, usually, for these types of things. If I liked someone, they knew it; if I didn’t, I would tell them to fuck off. I was a straight-up girl.
Iver seemed to encourage keeping me on my toes, and I wasn’t used to that. I had the very occasional hookup, and that was it. This thing between Iver and me, the chemistry, was beyond anything I ‘d ever felt, and I hoped he proved to be as good as the game preceding it.
“As you have been a good girl, Isabelle, I will tell you anything you wish to know.”
I giggled. “So if I’d been a bad girl, then what?”
“Then, I would have done this.” Iver flipped me so quickly, it took me a moment to realize that I was face down over his lap. He had lightning speed reflexes; his hand came down on my backside in rapid succession. I sucked in my breath. He landed a few on my thighs where even my leather pants couldn’t protect me from the sting his blows delivered.
Before I could squeak my protest, I was magically back upright. “But as you came to me of your own free will, you are spared a discipline spanking.” His eyes danced with amusement.
I felt a series of emotions, shock, anger, amusement, turned on, and finally, vulnerable, and I didn’t like that last one at all. “I am going to kiss you now, Isabelle, do I have your permission?”
I nodded, still reeling from the flurry of emotions that his spanking had sparked in me. As his lips closed over mine, I heard his words echo in my mind. ‘Who protects you, Isabelle?’