The holiday season is lonely for construction worker Benjamin Morgan, a big muscular guy who just wants to submit, obey, and serve. But the men he’s attracted to usually don’t have a dominant bone in their bodies. He’s done seeking his BDSM dreams with someone who isn’t interested in putting him in his rightful place—on his knees at their feet.
When a friend sets up a meeting with Foster Ridgeway at the BDSM club, Entiwned, Benjamin has his doubts. Of course he is attracted to bookish Foster, who works for the same construction company, but how will someone so small and delicate-looking master Benjamin? But when Foster--the tiny temple of dominance wielding a crop--heads toward Benjamin, he might get what he’s always wanted, just in time for Solstice.
DECEMBER’S PROMISE of rain turning to sleet propelled Benjamin Morgan through the doors of Entwined.
The BDSM club might be overly fancy for Benjamin’s tastes, but everyone accepted his submissive nature. In his early twenties, he discovered Albany’s leather bars and adored their clear definitions of top and bottom, but he never quite fit in. People too often attributed his height and muscles to being dominant—something he certainly wasn’t.
At Entwined, the founders made respect the foundation the club was built on. Disrespecting someone’s beliefs, gender identity, orientation, or fetishes wasn’t tolerated. He was grateful for a safe space to be his most submissive self.
One side of the lush, chandeliered, all-wood entryway was taken up by lockers for members to stash their belongings. The other side housed the club’s administration—a huge mahogany desk, laptop, landline, standing files of blank forms, a cup of purple pens, and a locked filing cabinet.
“Happy holidays, Benjamin!” Audrey shouted from her gatekeeping perch. She was decked out in her usual purple lace and satin.
Benjamin restrained a sigh. He hated the holidays. This year he had hoped that throwing himself into the club’s decorating committee would help soothe the jagged edges that kept him ripped open. He’d have to settle for some mindless sex tinted with a little subspace to survive the holiday season.
“Same to you, Audrey.” He handed her his driver’s license and took the locker key. He tossed his cell phone, wallet, keys, coat, and shirt into the locker box. Damn, if only there were a place to lock away the mistake of reading his brother’s yearly holiday text message.
Please leave your devil worship and gay lifestyle. Save yourself. Repent! Turn away from sin! You have a place at our table when you do.
“Any plans for Solstice?” Audrey played with the white furry ball at the end of her purple Santa hat like a kitten. Sweet of her to remember he was Pagan.
There were only a few other Pagans who belonged to Entwined, but the club owners always encouraged members to celebrate everyone’s traditions, so no one felt left out.
“Nah, just a quiet evening at home.” He might not even cut a Yule tree. Last year he couldn’t, and this year….
“You should celebrate somehow. If I was going to be in town, I’d have you over.” Her frown was out of place on her pretty face.
“Audrey, have fun in the sun with your Master and make sure you post a lot of pictures. I’m counting on you to help me figure out which island I want to go to next year.” He widened his pasted-on smile, hoping to convince her that he’d be fine.
She jumped off her stool and launched herself at him in full-on hug mode. “I know it’s not for several weeks, but just in case I don’t see you, have a very happy Yule and an even better New Year.” Then she whispered, “And most of all, I hope you find a Master.”
He allowed himself to absorb her warmth and affection for a moment, then swallowed around the lump in his throat and thumped her back, maybe a bit too hard. Though knowing her, she probably liked it.
A couple of years ago, he and Audrey bonded at one of Entwined’s bimonthly sub meetings. Their friendship was cemented by their warm feelings on humiliation, collars, and leashes.
Stepping back, he nodded and cleared his throat. “A Master…. Ha, not counting on that fantasy becoming reality anytime soon. Tonight I’m here to meet Sophia.”
“Hey, you never know. Have a great night,” she said as other members entered.
He escaped into the club. Hell, he was done inviting love into his life. He’d be content to find someone who could top him and didn’t expect him to be versatile.
He glanced out over the pine boughs, twinkling lights, and rainbow ribbons that turned Entwined’s main space into a holiday forest. As he trudged down the stone stairway littered with Hanukkah and Kwanzaa symbols, he stopped to reattach the two paper decorations that had slipped off the wall.
At the bottom of the stairs, a huge tree decorated with whips, handcuffs, rope, blindfolds, garland made of twisted bondage tape, and twinkle lights greeted the members. Tables on either side flanked the tree. One was covered in a blue-and-white tablecloth and held a menorah, chocolate coins, and dreidels scattered over it. The other had a red-green-and-black cloth draped over the sides. It held seven handmade candles in a kinara, a unity cup, mat, fruits, nuts, and corn. Across the room, there was another table piled with wrapped presents that would be taken to the homeless shelter later this week.
Holidays highlighted all of Benjamin’s have-nots. He was glad Entwined collected money and presents several times a year to help give folks a few haves.
Benjamin’s mother had always joyfully knitted hats, scarves, and gloves throughout the year, which they would not only take to shelters but to the street for the people too scared to seek help. Unfortunately, last year she’d been too sick, and then early last December she died. Now this year he didn’t know if he could find a reason to celebrate.
Benjamin got some orange juice from the bar and then found a place in the back corner. Maybe he’d chosen the wrong place to sit—a front-row seat to hopeful couples going into the back, subs kneeling next to their Masters, and others emerging from the private rooms, blissed-out and happy.
Sophia tottered over on her heels. “Glad you made it. You weren’t waiting long, were you?”
“Nah, only ten minutes.” He shrugged. “You said you wanted to chat.”
“I know how hard the holidays are after you lose someone. You know she’d want you to find happiness.” Sophia, the paramedic who’d responded last summer when he’d dislocated his shoulder, slid into the seat next to him. They’d recognized each other at the sub meetings and become fast friends ever since.
She put her elbows on the table and leaned close to stare at him.
He fidgeted and gestured to the room. “I tried something different. I helped decorate at the party.”
“Only because I begged.”
“I stayed to the very end.” Mostly because the day after Thanksgiving no one else had come who was tall enough, even with the ladder, to put the bondage angel on top of the tree. He glanced over—she did look beautiful all trussed up like that.
Sophia pointed at the fireplace. “But you haven’t cut a Yule log.”
He shrugged, trying not to look like a bad Pagan for not taking care of it. “I’m sure someone will do it.”
She gazed out over the area. “Any prospects here for you?”
He shook his head. “Nah.”
“What about that hot guy at your work who was asking you out?”
An image of Foster Ridgeway’s bright blue eyes behind his wire-framed glasses—which didn’t hide his pretty face—danced through Benjamin’s head. The glasses gave Foster a bookish yet stern expression. Benjamin couldn’t help feeling regret at avoiding him. “He’s stopped asking. Besides, he’s the boss.”
She tsked at him. “He’s in management, but he’s not your boss. From what you’ve said, your crew doesn’t even report to him.”
He hated that Sophia yanked away his excuse, because now only the truth glared at him. Maybe he was doing the same stereotyping that bit him in the ass, but he didn’t want to be disappointed by expecting the barely five-foot-five sexiness would want to top him on a regular basis or even ever.
“You could ask him out.” She nudged him.
Benjamin couldn’t imagine doing the inviting. “Sophia, have you not met me? I can’t do any such thing. Besides, I’m telling you, it wouldn’t work.”
Though it didn’t stop Benjamin from jerking off to visions of Foster. Oh, how I’d show my appreciation if Foster fucked me.
“I don’t understand why you won’t give him a shot.” She pushed out her lower lip like that would affect him the way her pouty sub face affected her Master.
“Sophia, you met Foster when you responded to the call about my shoulder. So I know what I’m going to say sucks, but I’m tired of wishing people were something they’re not. Even if I ignore he is one of the higher-ups where I work, there’s no way he could dominate me or would even want to—”
“You’re just making assumptions based on looks. Let me ask you, what if he could dominate you?” She folded her arms and sat back in the chair.
His blood boiled and headed south as dreams and familiar jerk-off fantasies kicked in. He shook his head. “I wish.”
She tapped her finger on the table. “I don’t see why you don’t get to know him better. He might surprise you.”
“Please, I’m thirty-three, and I’m tired of surprises. My last boyfriend, who swore he accepted I was a sub and a bottom, kept saying I was so big and muscular I must be able to… you know.” He shook his head, trying to rid himself of the epic horror of attempting to fuck someone with his limp dick. But like all bad recollections, the image seemed etched into his brain. “I’m tired of those types of surprises.”
“Well, what about here? Are you telling me there’s no Master here?” She gestured to the room filled with various dominant men.
Benjamin sighed. “Masters tend to go for subs smaller than they are, but I go for….”
Sophia rested her elbows on the table and leaned toward him. “What are you looking for in a Master?”
In a rush of overshare, he confessed, “A butterfly top to dominate my world.”
“Say what now?” Sophia cocked her head to the left and stared at him.
Benjamin shrugged. “It’s a dumb term I came up with to describe what does it for me. The idea of a smaller man making me bend over for him makes me all fluttery and excited. Everyone seeing me on my knees waiting to do his bidding, serving him, and surrendering to him. Him taking everything I offer and more just because he can. Him accepting my need to serve.”
“That’s some kind of fetishy deliciousness right there.” She grinned.
He had struggled for years with not knowing what he wanted, but with experience his requirements became crystal-clear. Nature sucked for making him attracted to a type of man who probably couldn’t give him what he needed at the most basic level. Sure there were guys who could act the part, but he was looking for more than that. “I know, and honestly, at this point, I’d settle for some decent sex.”
“Aren’t you tired of doing one-off scenes?” She frowned.
Sophia’s Master appeared. “Sophia, are you gossiping?”
“Of course, Master.” Her eyes sparkled, and her mischievous nature shone through as she gazed at him with a big unrepentant smile.
Master Colin pressed his lips together to suppress a grin. “We’ve talked about this. Do you need a longer discussion in the back on the evils of gossip?”
Sophia dangled the key to one of the back rooms in front of him. “I do.”
Jealousy for the simplicity of their Master/sub relationship flooded Benjamin. He tried not to sigh, but he ached for that kind of connection. Someone who understood what he needed and simply gave it to him.
Master Colin gave her a small smile and held out his hand. “Sophia, I’ll expect you to join me in eight minutes.”
“Yes, Master.” She dropped the key into his palm.
Master Colin gave Benjamin a nod and then turned on his heel, leaving Benjamin and Sophia watching his departure.
Benjamin stood. “You should get ready for your scene.”
Sophia stared at the balcony with a grin. “So should you. I bet you’ll have someone playing with your Yule log by the end of the year… if you let him.”
He snorted. Leave it to Sophia to come up with such a euphemism. Why was she waving? “Who are—”
At the top of the landing stood none other than Foster Ridgeway. He posed with a hand on his hip, decked out in black leather. He appeared delicate, but at the same time, his stern expression said he could take Benjamin down. Holy Mother of BDSM! Was that a crop in his hand? Foster couldn’t be a member of Entwined.
Benjamin turned to Sophia. “What did you do?”
“I simply believe in granting holiday wishes. He and I have gotten to know each other a bit on the Entwined chat boards.”
“What?” Benjamin sputtered.
“Since you refused to follow my advice, I did a little scouting on the Entwined chat board.”
Benjamin had never bothered to download the app. What was the point? “I can’t believe—”
“His home Entwined used to be Saratoga, which is why we, meaning you, never ran into him here. Anyway, I suggested he might find someone to his liking here tonight. Have fun.” She escaped to the back rooms.
Sophia had set Benjamin up.
And maybe that was okay….