The car door next to Shyla opened, and a frigid breeze gusted into the toasty warm interior of the Mercedes. She directed her attention to her best friend Opal's husband, Greg, as he held his hand out to help her from the backseat. The faint lines around his dark eyes crinkled when she stared at his hand, and his breath misted before him. The winters in Michigan were no joke, especially the day before Christmas.
Greg looked over the car as twilight streaked the sky with burning amber and velvety amethyst streaks. "Opal, I think Shyla needs a moment with you before she's ready to go inside."
Shyla mouthed "thank you" and Greg nodded with a small smile as he shut the door. A moment later, the door on the other side of the car opened and Opal slid in with a clink of chain and creak of leather from beneath her jacket. Her auburn curls bounced as she got in and shivered. Around her neck, she wore a red leather collar with little boughs of mistletoe embroidered on it. A gold medallion with Greg's name etched into the metal flashed in the fading light as Opal turned to her. Shyla wore a similar collar, but hers had red and white stripes like a candy cane and had no owner's charm to catch the light.
Before Shyla could say a word, Opal pinned her to the seat with narrow-eyed glare. "Seriously, you're gonna chicken out now? When you're finally single and ready to mingle?" She held up her hand, stopping Shyla before she had a chance to say a word in her defense. "All those speeches you gave me about embracing your sexuality and not being ashamed of what you want, how does sitting in the driveway of your bosses' house instead of attending your works' Christmas party fit into that plan? What part of cowering alone in the backseat of my car while the men of your dreams are inside says empowering?"
Shyla tried not to squirm beneath Opal's schoolteacher stare. "Well—"
"And, I know that I didn't spend all day last Saturday with you helping you pick out the perfect outfit, going and getting a pedicure, and enduring a cookie waxing with you so you could sit in the car and hide."
Opal patted her hand and the car shifted slightly as Greg leaned his back against the window. "So what's the problem?"
Shyla took a deep breath and let it out slowly, practicing the relaxation technique she had learned in yoga. A skill she'd desperately needed when her ex-boyfriend proclaimed her a perverted nymphomaniac and dumped her after he found her carefully hidden collection of BDSM erotica and sex toys. "What if someone laughs at me?"
Opal smacked her forehead and leaned in until their noses almost touched. "Look, I realize that even after a year of working as a waitress at the best BDSM club in Detroit, you're still new to the scene itself, but even you have to admit that you look like a wet fetish dream." Opal's lips twitched in a suppressed smile. "Or should I say a Dom's wet dream."
A car pulled past them and honked. Outside the window, Greg raised his hand in greeting. A pang of guilt tightened her already knotted stomach. He must be freezing his ass off while she had her little melt down. "What if they laugh at me?"
"Masters Jack and Trent? Girl, the only reason they haven't jumped you and strung you up by your heels already is because you're an employee and you had a boyfriend. Trust me, those two watch you like starving men looking at a delicious chocolate cake."
Shyla's heart fluttered as a hint of hope filled her. "Really? Are you sure it isn't because I follow them around like a stalker and drool over them like a teenager with a crush?"
Opal giggled and held her hand. "No. When you aren't staring at them, they're staring at you. Have you ever noticed how they put on their demonstrations in whatever section you're serving that night? What about them taking you out to breakfast every night you work? Or how they get a tad bit over-protective of you?"
"They're protective of everyone that works at the Hall and other people from work come with us. It's not like we're having a romantic meal. It's the Pancake Village, for Pete's sake."
"Yeah, but they tell every Dom that even looks your way that you're hands-off."
Shyla gaped at her while Greg yelled through the window, "Let's get a move on, ladies! I think my left nut just fell off."
Both women laughed and Shyla took a deep breath. "Ok, I'll go in. But if they laugh at me, or worse yet ignore me, I expect you to help me get good and drunk."
Opal squeezed her hand. "That's my girl."
Her breath puffed into the air as she stepped out of the car and looked down at her feet. Instead of her usual sensible pumps, her legs were encased in thigh-high, white latex boots with red laces. The four-inch heels that were totally impractical had her taking mincing steps across the snow-speckled pavement leading to the grand Victorian mansion tucked amid towering pine trees. Salt crunched beneath the heels of her boots as she found herself caught between wanting to stare at the beautiful mansion and concentrating on not falling on her ass.
The mullioned windows of the home glowed with their own golden light and shapes moved behind the frosted glass of the lower floor. Evergreen wreaths decorated with bright red bows hung from the eaves and tiny white lights twinkled like a million stars across the wrap-around porch and bushes. Hardly the kind of place she would expect a BDSM Christmas party to be taking place. Then again, she was hardly the kind of woman one would expect to attend such a gathering.
With two semesters left of college, she'd almost reached her goal of being a pre-school teacher. It hadn't been easy, even with student loans she still had to come up with room, board, and money for books on her own. After a number of low paying jobs that required more hours than she had time to give in order to make ends meet, she'd been hired on at the Hall after Opal and her husband, long time members of the private club, vouched for her.
The actual job interview had been a brief discussion with Jack and Trent that reduced her to staring and stammering. Jack had the look of a Viking warrior with spiky, honey-brown hair and tanned skin coupled with piercing blue eyes and a body that could break through a brick wall. The other owner, Trent, reminded her of a panther. Short, nearly shaved dark hair and mahogany skin with a quiet, deadly grace. While Jack favored leather, Trent liked to wear well-made business suits that accented the muscular lines of his body. Between the two of them, she had been on instant hormonal overload combined with the beginnings of a huge crush.
Her first night working at the private BDSM club as a waitress had left her stunned, aroused, and richer by three hundred dollars. The club members had been polite and respectful with her, but she still couldn't stop blushing when it came to pouring champagne into a silver dog bowl for a naked sub or watching a male submissive scream his pleasure into the rafters as his Mistress finally allowed him to come. Jack and Trent had both checked on her multiple times, explaining different aspects of BDSM, and making sure she understood what was going on and why.
A blast of cold air brought her back to the present as Greg held his arm out to her. She gratefully grabbed on while he led her and Opal up the cobblestone walkway and to the front door. Greg abruptly stopped and swore. "I forgot my toy bag in the car. We made it this far without either of you busting an ankle, so just wait here for me. I'll be right back."
Shyla huddled closer to Opal for warmth. While the white fishnet stockings she wore looked great against her dark skin, she wished they provided any kind of protection from the wind. Her pale blue parka stopped mid-thigh, leaving an indecent amount of leg showing. "So, where are the naked women swinging from the rafters? Shouldn't there be a St. Andrew's Cross on the front lawn decorated with Christmas lights? Looks more like a Norman Rockwell painting come to life than a wild party."
Opal shivered, wrapped her arms around herself, and narrowed her eyes at Shyla. "Jack and Trent share the house just like they share everything else and both of them are considered upstanding members of their community. I think having naked subs licking people's boots clean outside the front door might upset the neighbors."
Shyla flushed and kicked at the rock salt on the sidewalk with the toe of her boot. "Sorry, I wasn't trying to make fun of them. I just...I guess I just don't know what to expect. Certainly not something as amazing as this place."
Opal stomped her feet and rubbed her hands together. "What? Did you think they would live in some type of bondage castle? That instead of Christmas lights, they'd have violet wands in the windows?" She gently bumped her hip into Shyla's. "Greg and I are into the lifestyle, but much like Jack and Trent, we prefer to keep our kinks to ourselves. Though I don't think any BDSM equipment we put out on our front lawn would be any scarier than our neighbor's weird garden gnome collection. I mean, seriously, who thinks a gnome dressed up like a sexy nurse is appropriate?"
Shyla grinned. "You're right and I'm sorry."
"It's okay. I know you didn't mean any harm. Besides, I've heard that they have a dungeon in their basement that is beyond amazing. Though I bet you'll see it before I ever do."
"I wish," Shyla muttered and Opal grinned at her.
Greg joined them and led them up the steps to the massive-polished walnut front door with its large brass knocker. Shyla's heart beat in a harsh thud with each knock of the clacker. What was she thinking, dressing up, and hoping to lure not one, but both of her bosses into her bed? Two Master Doms who had their pick of willing and beautiful subs, and who never looked at her like anything more than a little sister, no matter what Opal said.
The door swung open and she squinted her eyes against the golden light as the scents of candles, cinnamon, and a smell that she could only describe as Christmas wafted out on a warm current of air. Jack, dressed in black leather pants and vest with no shirt beneath, greeted them with a big smile. "Merry Christmas."