Book 3 of Stronghold
Lexie grew up with a crush on her brother's best friend, Patrick. He's gorgeous, sexy, controlling and arrogant, and she knows that he wants what amounts to a full-time submissive. So far, none of his girlfriends have ever been able to give him what he needs, but she's sure she's just the woman for him. She keeps pushing the boundaries of their relationship, until he agrees to allow her into the BDSM club that he owns, Stronghold, and train her. She can't help but wonder, will she be able to prove to him that they're worth the risk, or is she going to end broken hearted?
Hands off. That's what Lexie is to Patrick, and not just because she's his best friend's little sister. It's also because her family is practically his, they share all of the same friends, and he's worried about breaking her heart. The sweet little Pixie he's always known has grown up into a gorgeous young woman, one whom he wants to tie up, spank and control. She's passing every test he sets in front of her, but can she convince him that they'll be able to make it work before her brother comes home and Patrick has to ask his best friend if he can date his little sister. Because if she can't, Patrick knows he'll remain silent on the subject forever. It's just not worth tearing apart the people he considers his family, not to mention the family of friends that he's made, if he and Lexie aren't able to meet each other's needs. For now, he's going to make what memories he can while he keeps his promise to train her.
He knows he's toeing the line during her training, but he just can't seem to stop himself, and she's starting to break his careful control.
The second he entered the main floor of the club, Patrick's eyes darted around. He was used to taking in the big picture and focusing on whatever was out of place, but right now, it wasn't hard to figure out what the problem was. The Lounge area where unattached subs congregated was almost empty, and those that were still kneeling there were watching the bar with the same interest as the few couples who were on the dance floor. Some of them weren't even dancing, they were just swaying slightly, their attention too caught by the drama at the bar.
That's where most of the people in the room were, the majority of them clustered at the center of the bar.
Possessive fury flamed sudden and hot inside Patrick's chest as he focused on the combatants in the center of the stare down. Andrew had his arms crossed over his chest, glaring at Michael Waverly, who had one hand on the back of Lexie's neck. Her short black hair was clipped back from her face, so that he could clearly see her mulish expression as she glared up at Andrew, who didn't take his focus from Michael. The short black skirt and bright blue bustier she was wearing screamed "Ready to Play," to any Dom who observed her.
The other subs were ranged around her. Not just Angel, Hilary, Jessica and Maria, but also others that she'd befriended during her time working at the front desk. Ellie, who was Andrew's most frequent play partner, had positioned herself at Lexie's side - although she was also shooting little looks at Michael. In his distraction, Patrick couldn't quite interpret what those little looks meant, but she was the only sub whose focus wasn't entirely on Andrew. He looked like he was holding back an army of rebelling submissives.
Off to the side, perched on a bar stool, sat Olivia, looking like Queen Bee. The fiery-haired Domme was stunning in all black leather that clung to her like a second skin. Her legs were crossed and the look of amusement on her face was completely out of place with everyone else's expressions.
Patrick knew exactly who she was going to side with. Every step he took towards the group felt like he was actually being pushed, down into a pit that would be impossible to escape, and yet he couldn't do anything else. Lexie was here, with another man.
Probably the only man who would have dared to do this. Master Michael didn't come to the club very often, he'd been too busy, but he'd had a membership for a long time. It had lapsed when he'd moved away and then been reinstated on his return. A decision that Patrick was definitely regretting now. Like Andrew and Chris, Michael was a bit of a prankster with a penchant for trouble. Unlike them, he didn't have a history that would make him feel protective, like a brother, towards Lexie.
"Move Andrew, you're being ridiculous," Lexie said, biting out the words. Patrick could see the tension along her slender shoulders. With her arms crossed under her breasts, the small mounds were pushed even further up than they had been by the bustier.
As if sensing his approach, Angel turned her head and saw him, her eyes widening. She reached out to her side and grabbed Jessica's hand, alerting her. Not that they looked any less rebellious. If anything, they looked more defiant than ever. Probably because they knew their asses were going to be grass once their Doms found out what they'd been up to. They shouldn't be at the club by themselves, period, much less involved in a mass revolt. Their awareness of him passed through to the others next to them. Both Hilary and Maria were avoiding his gaze, but then, Hilary was extremely submissive and Maria didn’t know him that well. Not that it made either of them step back of course. Even the other little subbies who would normally fear his wrath were bracing themselves. Dammit. It didn’t look like anyone was going to be backing down any time soon.
"What's going on?" he asked, pitching his voice to carry. Not that he needed to be very loud. Conversation around the club had completely stopped, so, other than the music, there was no sound for him to compete against.
Lexie stiffened, but didn't turn her head. He felt like growling as he saw Michael's fingers stroke her neck soothingly before he turned to face Patrick.
"Your bartender is keeping us from going downstairs," he said, mildly, although his hazel eyes flashed with amusement that didn't quite go with the neutral expression on his face. Andrew bristled. Not too surprisingly, since he and Michael had actually become pretty good friends. The other Dom would see this as a kind of betrayal.
"Lexie's not allowed downstairs."
He kept his gaze on Michael's face as Lexie opened her mouth, her eyes blazing, but Michael's grip on her neck tightened just a bit and she pressed her lips together in a straight line. Letting Michael continue to speak for her. It fucking killed Patrick to see her responding to another Dom. The inside of his chest felt like it was tightening around his lungs.
"I was informed that Lexie no longer works for you," Michael said coolly. A murmur of agreement went through the subs surrounding them, a few of them crossing their arms over their chests and nodding. "Therefore, you have no authority over her in the capacity of an employee. My membership has been approved to allow me to bring in a submissive, of my choice, to scene with for the evening. I have chosen Lexie."
Patrick's jaw clenched, his mind racing as he fought for control over his emotions. The determined, defiant jerk of Lexie's chin made him want to spank her ass again. Anger swirled, along with a sense of loss. He was on the verge of telling Michael that his membership was canceled and to get the fuck out, when Olivia hopped up from her perch.
"It's clearly written out in your rules, Patrick," she said, her voice hard. Those dazzling grey eyes of her were as unyielding as slate. A small smile grew on her face, but it didn't reach those stony eyes. "The only right you would have to deny them a scene would be if someone else claimed Lexie as his or her submissive."
From the emphasis she put on 'someone else,' Olivia made it clear that she meant him. Beside Lexie, Michael stood waiting, looking entirely nonchalant, as if it didn't matter to him what Patrick's decision was. But the stillness in the other submissives standing there, and the Doms hovering on the outskirts, said that they were all waiting to see what Patrick would do. If he denied Michael, it would undermine all of their trust in him. He made the rules, if he didn't follow him, then why should they?
His fists clenched. Goddamn it all to fucking hell.
They'd planned every last detail of this. He didn't believe for one second that Lexie had come up with this on her own, and his quick appraisal of her friends confirmed that. Angel might look as defiant as Lexie, but she also looked nervous. Out of all Patrick's friends, Adam was probably the strictest and he was not going to be happy with her. Especially because she'd involved Michael. Adam and Michael got along fairly well now, but he still struggled with the fact that Angel had a bunch of very close guy friends and that her friendship with Michael had always been flirtatious. Liam rarely punished his fiance, Hilary, but Patrick doubted she was going to get away with a light spanking for showing up at Stronghold without him there, not to mention in support of Lexie getting into the downstairs portion of the club. Maria looked like she was ready to bolt, but she was also the newest member of their little group and probably felt in over her head. Privately, Patrick was surprised that Jessica had managed to get away from both of her boyfriends in order to be here tonight. All of them had probably lied their asses off. Which would mean more punishment coming their way.
Lexie would have known that Eric was going to be working as bouncer tonight. He was the only one who would have let her through the door without contacting Patrick, because he was too new to know better. He was also the only one who wouldn't realize that her friends shouldn't be here without their Doms. Having Michael and Olivia with them would have been enough, he wouldn't have thought twice about letting them in without notifying anyone.
Obviously Patrick was going to have to do a more thorough job training anyone who spent time at the front door. Although, now that Lexie wasn't working for him, it wasn't like she'd know what the schedule was after this week anyway. Jared or Will would have never let her in without contacting him first.
The public stand-off worked in Lexie's favor too. He had to follow his own rules or invite chaos, not to mention a lack of respect from everyone else in here for not following his own goddamn rules.
"She hasn't had an Introduction scene," he said, his voice clipped, even though he knew that the excuse wasn't going to work.
"Michael can handle it," Olivia said, raising her eyebrow at him. If it had been anyone other than Olivia, he probably would have taken them out front to go a few rounds in the parking lot. But Patrick didn't hit women, he only spanked, whipped, flogged and caned them when they asked nicely. Besides, if he was being 100% honest with himself, he wasn't sure that he'd come out on top. Olivia took her Krav Maga seriously, and he doubted she'd have any real concern about damaging him, whereas he would never be able to make himself go all out against her. "Besides, you don't require an Introduction scene for submissives who come in with an established Dom."
No, he didn't, although he usually assigned someone to 'oversee' any new couple in the club for their first few scenes. Just as a precaution. Not that Michael was new exactly but... fuck, he was going to regret this.
"Fine. Andrew, get back to work." There was a loud exhalation, as if everyone suddenly started breathing again all at the same time. It would have been funny if he wasn't so righteously pissed off. He looked Michael directly in the eye. "I'm going to be overseeing."