A few days later, Nina was at her cousin’s, because he’d called and asked her to come keep Tabby company while he was at work.
“I just don’t know what’s going on with Scorn!” Tabby was lamenting, flopping around on Cameron’s bed like a fidgety cat. “There’s just too much drama! I think I’ll stay here with Cameron for a while. Cam’s so great, he always has time to listen. No one understands me like he does, Nina. I just wish he’d stop making a big deal out of the fact we used to date.”
She eyed Nina curiously. “Are you okay? You keep looking at your phone all twitchy-like.”
Nina knew for a fact that Cameron didn’t understand Tabby at all and that was half the problem, but the girl caught her fidgeting with her phone again. Texting with Jay was a daily habit now and she’d been too busy at work today to send him any cute selfies, and now that she wanted to sulk about being a babysitter he wasn’t texting her back fast enough.
“I’m not being twitchy. And the guy’s name is Scorn, really what do you expect out of him besides drama?” she countered back. “He’s probably out menacing the streets of Gotham or something.”
“Nina,” Tabby said slowly, as if she were speaking to a five-year-old, “Scorn isn’t a guy.”
She made a dive suddenly for Nina’s phone. Snatching it up, she made a face when she saw Nina’s current window. “Ugh, not Jay again! Are you banging him yet or what? Is he why you blew off poor Marcus?”
“Well you can let Scorn know they’re doing androgynous really well!” Nina shouted back. She almost tackled Tabby for the phone, but the girl would only think there was something even more juicy on it. It was easier to just let her have it.
“I didn’t blow off Marcus, you know. We actually had a nice conversation over drinks and he understood I wasn’t ready for a vampire’s lifestyle.”
She hesitated answering about Jay, though. She never really had anything useful to say about him and Nina didn’t feel like he needed her to defend his honor either. But Tabby was already scrolling her her messages, and Nina had to admit it all looked pretty salacious.
“We’re not banging but if you have to know, we might be involved in a tiny challenge that I am sure to win, which is why I said no more blind dates for a couple weeks.”
Then she couldn’t help it, she pounced to rescue her phone.
“Noooo,” wailed Tabby, squirming as she tried to hold onto her prize. “At least tell me some details! Does he make you call him Daddy? Give me something!”
As she tried to keep the phone from Nina, it buzzed in her grasp.
“Did you tell him no blind dates?” Tabby asked, holding the phone above her head and peering at the screen. “He wants you to see some dude named Dane on Friday.”
The only time Nina ever called Jay Daddy was when she was being a facetious little punk. But before she could say as much, she was thrown.
“What. Give me it!”
Now with questions on the line, Nina was a little more determined to wrestle Tabby still, finally just flat out sitting on her to pry the phone out of her hands. Having the height and weight advantage really came in handy sometimes.
Tabby made an indignant noise as Nina wrested the phone back. Sure enough, Nina had a new message from Jay.
Friday, 9PM. Dress up. You’re meeting Dane at the club.
Who is Dane and why am I wearing my cute clothes for him?
She texted immediately, scowling with confusion down at her phone. Nina also stayed right where she was sitting, because sometimes Tabby needed to be reminded that Nina wasn’t Cameron and unlike him, Nina could beat her up if she ever had to.
Dane’s a friend. I think you’ll like him.
“Don’t pick on me because you’re not getting laid,” Tabby sulked. “Do you even think you two would really work out? I mean, don’t you think that stuff’s kind of silly?”
You know I’m trying not to date this month. You’re being sneaky again.
“Not getting laid by choice. And what do you mean silly? Which stuff is silly?” she asked offhand, still thumbing another text.
Did you want me to try anything special on this date, or do I just get to do my Nina things?
Just be your cute self and have fun.
Tabby made an exaggerated sighing noise. “The whole Daddy Dom, baby girl thing! I mean you’re not exactly the type! If someone bought you a stuffed animal you’d laugh so hard you cried.”
Nina didn’t know how Tabby could be so perceptive about some things and clueless about others. It really wasn’t a surprise that Cameron wasn’t constantly in knots about her. She did finally slide off the girl though, taking refuge on the corner of the bed to send her last text.
Okay, but only because YOU picked him out so I know he’s not going to be a weirdo.
“I’d definitely laugh myself to tears. It’s not been like that, though? I don’t call him Daddy, not ever in a real way, and he’s never made me feel like a little girl. Not that we’re actually partners or anything. I have to defeat him in a combat of wills first because he’s being difficult.”
“Are you sure that’s not the problem?” Tabby eyed her, sitting up and straightening out her skirt. “What if that’s what he wants? At least, the Daddy part. Maybe if you called him Daddy you two would be hooking up already.”
Nina frowned as she considered it. Daddy Dom was one of his big top listed things. There was no way she was ever going to be able to call someone Daddy in earnest, it just felt too weird. She’d also told him she wasn’t sure about being called girl. Though, that didn’t feel nearly so weird, she just liked other things better.
But Nina had also done enough research by now to know that the whole daddy/babygirl thing was just a title for a dynamic and didn’t necessarily mean that was the only aspect. Even the Master/Slave and the Owner/Pet categories seemed to be a lot more nuanced than their names suggested, and Nina figured that out just by watching different couples at the club.
Dang it, Tabby had sent her into a spiral. Nina huffed and turned to the girl.
“I’m pretty sure if that’s what he needed, he would’ve told me when we talked about it. He’s mostly worried I’m going to try and morph into his perfect sub just because I’m new and might still have issues about Shaun without thinking about what I actually like and want. And I get it. It’s so easy to get caught up in the moment and addicted to the high feelings. That’s probably why this jerk has set me up with someone else for a date too! So I don’t think he’s the only guy in the world!”
“I mean… Honestly, Nina? That’s kinda smart. Everyone falls in love with their first.” Tabby frowned. “Seriously. It’s always super intense with your first Dom, and a DD/lg dynamic is more emotionally involved than others. Plus I’m pretty sure Jay’s not had a new sub in like, forever. You should probably listen to him.”
“The crazy part is that I like him, and it didn’t even start from all of the dommy stuff. He likes books as much as I do, he’s so wickedly sarcastic when he wants to be, and he actively listens when people talk to him. Everything else has just been a bonus.” Nina explained with a huff. She did not need Tabby suddenly saying responsible, intelligent things right now. The world was weird enough as it was!
“I am listening to him too, though, which is the only reason I’m going on this silly date. Ignoring the fact I’d like him to stop being paranoid and take a chance with me, if I were to trust anyone to find me the love of my life or even just a serious partner, it’d be Jay.”
“Hi. You must be Nina.”
Just like Jay had said he would be, Dane was waiting in Jay’s favorite booth. Nina had to hand it to Jay; the guy was good-looking, and he was dressed smart. Waistcoat and tie smart. He had short dark hair and green eyes, and he stood up to meet her when she walked over.
“And here I was thinking he was just talking you up.” He offered his hand. “Can I buy you a drink?”
Nina found herself feeling the same way she always did when something was a date: shy and awkward and a little out of her element, despite the fact she’d dated so much in the past year that she ought to have been an expert by now. She shook his hand and held up a finger.
“One drink,” she confirmed with a nod. “I don’t think Jay knows how to exaggerate. He kinda just says stuff so plainly and matter-of-fact.”
Like for any date, Nina dressed to impress, just in her own comfortable style. A nice little sweater number in a warm maple brown, where the top was mostly modest with it’s baggy sleeves and subtle v-neckline, with the skirt being considered a mini and clinging tight to her hips. The sleeves were a little too short for her to nervous pluck at, so instead she was turning her purse in her hands.
“Um. So what do you do for work and fun?” she asked, because it was always a good place to start.
“Relax,” Dane told her. “I don’t bite on the first date.”
He led her over to the bar and flagged down the bartender, ordering something fancy-sounding.
“I teach anthropology at the community college. For fun, well…” He smiled. “I like studying people. This place is as good as any, and it’s got a few perks.”
“I guess that means you’re not a vampire. I met one of those recently,” Nina grinned. Relaxing wasn’t quite as easy, but she did try to breathe a little more often and not stand so stiff. She ended up scooting onto a nearby stool, giving it a few testing twists before she settled.
“I’m over at the university myself. I don’t study people, but I do spend a lot of time studying for people. Do you come here very often?”
“Not so much.” Looking a little rueful, he rubbed the back of his neck. “I’ve been… interested. But I’m more comfortable with more conventional dating, even though my tastes fit right in here. I guess part of it is I’m half afraid I’ll run into one of my students.”
The drink was delivered. It was some kind of bright, fruity affair in a martini glass.
“Non-alcoholic,” Dane confessed. “I’d rather you stay sober. Do you mind?”
“Hm. No, I don’t mind.” There it was. Nina had found Jay’s angle with this particular date. He went and found her someone just like herself, new and inexperienced and probably a little bit awkward with the whole overwhelmingness of everything.
Immediately it changed her whole outlook on this date from anxiousness, to curious amusement, because she knew exactly how this guy felt and there was no reason for her to be on guard.
“I get it. If I saw one of my coworkers here I’d probably freak out a little. I don’t really look or act like the dungeon type, right? And people get so weird if you mention any sort of interest in BDSM culture. Like you’re a nymphomaniac or a serial killer!”
“It’s true. You know, studies have shown that BDSM lifestyle participants show no particular tendencies toward mental illness? In fact, dominant partners tend to be much more comfortable and adept at social interactions than the average person.” Dane grinned. “Not sure that extends to me, but I did say tend, didn’t I.”
He glanced at her with interest. “Well. What do you think? Should we have a nice, normal date at this dungeon?”
“I don’t know about normal, but I can show you around and we can ooh and aah at all of the things,” she agreed with a soft laugh. Nina took a quick sip of her drink as she slid out of her chair, glad to find it was another good-tasting choice. She then held out her hand for him to take.
“Do you think of yourself as a dominant person?” she asked curiously. “Like what attracts you to it? What are you looking for?”
“I know I lean that way.” He took her hand. “Not to be too blunt about it, but I’ve seen my fair share of porn and I’m fairly certain of what I like. I’d be willing to try other things, but… I like the idea of someone trusting me enough to do as I say. Having her tied up and exposed is pretty appealing, too. I’m not sure about the whole… Master, slave, that sort of thing. But the basics? Yes.”
As they slipped through the curtain into the back room, he leaned in to speak in her ear. “What about you? What got you interested in all this? Are you here for anything special?”
The playspace wasn’t as packed as it had been last time Nina visited, but it was still crowded enough. The first scene to catch Nina’s eye was the St. Andrew’s Cross again. There was a woman strapped to it, fully nude and blindfolded, while her Dom teased her body with a feather.
“Funnily enough, I wanted to fall in love with someone who feels a spicy sex life is just as important as other things, and I figured what better place to look than somewhere extra spicy where everyone understands trust and communication is important.”
Nina paused for a moment to watch the woman, feeling that familiar burn in her face. She tugged his hand and gestured at the scene.
“I want to try something like that. Maybe not the entire thing all at once or in public, but it’s exciting. You can’t really ask people on Tinder dates to tie you up because you never really know who might be crazy.”
“That is a little advanced, I think,” laughed Dane, a little breathless. “I know how to tie a knot, though. A few different kinds, actually.”
He pulled Nina around to face him. “You’ve never been tied up, then?”
She shook her head.
“Nope, no ropes, or scarves, or handcuff. Nothing. My ex was never interested and since then there’s just not been a line up of the right person and opportunity. I really haven’t tried much of anything beyond a few little things here and there.”
“Well.” He flashed a grin. “I’m interested, for the record.”
Looking around, Dane took in the scene. People half-dressed, people not dressed at all, people in fetish gear. There was a woman giving what looked like a flogging lesson in the middle of the room.
“It’s all… a bit much at once, isn’t it.” Swallowing, he turned back to Nina. “I feel like I don’t know where to put my hands. Do you know what I mean?”
Nina grinned, eyes going wide as she nodded quickly again. Then she stepped close cause it was easier for him to hear when she dropped the volume of her voice in an excited whisper.
“I do! It was so much at first, but every time I come back I feel a little but more- Um. Powerful? Like all pretense and expectation of what I’m supposed to be is gone. There’s this honesty here that you just are who you are and everyone can see and it’s kind of refreshing.”
She paused, second thinking her words and looking a little embarrassed by it.
“Well, I mean, not everyone is honest and there are the weird ones who get way too into roleplaying and of course some people it’s only ever about kinky sex, but I guess- It’s just how I feel about it.”
His hands settled on her waist as she stepped closer. Nina got the feeling it was reflexive, but he didn’t pull them away.
“It seems like this has been really positive for you. If this is Jay’s attempt to hook me into coming out more, I think he picked the right person to sell it.”
They wandered around for a while longer, Nina acting as excited tour guide as they checked out all the active scenes. A woman using a man as a living chair; a pair of men enjoying the spanking bench; a woman lying in a bathtub as her Dom dripped colorful hot wax onto her skin.
Nina had just stopped to watch a woman being slowly wrapped in emerald green rope, resting facedown on a stool as the bindings drew taut between her spread legs, when Dane made a noise in the back of his throat and squeezed Nina’s hand.
“Tell me there’s somewhere we can be alone.” His voice had gone low and rough. “I feel like if I don’t kiss you I’ll go insane.”
There was a feeling Nina was completely familiar with. Even being used to seeing all the salacious things, sometimes a particular scene would just creep up and hit all the right buttons. She pressed the back of her hand to her mouth and laughed softly, but did nod and tug him to follow her.
There were all kinds of little places and cubbies to go for a sense of privacy and Nina found a nook behind a foundation pillar where there was just enough mood lighting to make it feel cozy, but not so much that it felt exposed.
“It’s hard to resist, isn’t it? Even when it’s intimidating.”
“No kidding.” He laughed shakily, his hands flat against the wall to either side of her. “Fuck, Nina. Tell me if you want me to stop.”
Dane leaned down to crush his lips against hers, all the tension in his shoulders pouring straight into the kiss. He stepped closer and she could feel the whole length of his body pressing her against the wall, his hands slipping down to grab her wrists. With a growl, he pinned them tight.
Nina had taken a bit to warm up to Dane– it was so weird seeing a reflection of herself in someone else– and because of it she didn’t really think there was any real chemistry there. Of course then he kissed her and it was like he had a whole different hidden personality.
She’d made a soft sound of surprise, but he was kind of infectious and Nina just melted into the kiss. She flexed her fingers a bit and then tested the strength of his grip, not so much because she wanted to escape, but just to see how much wiggle room he’d actually give her.
Somewhere in the back of her head her there was a little voice complaining that she needed to take it slow, but they’d stumbled into one of Nina’s buttons and the electric shiver that ran down her spine was too much to resist.
The answer to “how much room” was not much, as it turned out. He wasn’t hurting her, but he had her secured–at least for now.
It was definitely like a switch had been flipped for him. Slightly awkward, nerdy professor Dane had been swapped out for someone else and now she could see where his confidence that he was dominant was coming from. Dane had taken the lead in kissing her like it was second nature.
As the kiss deepened, his thigh settled between her legs.
Nina gasped into his mouth and it was reflex to push again his grip again, her back arcing closer to his body. She was so used to being able to put her hands on somebody, to grab or tug or touch and it was almost frustrating not being able to now. Having someone actually being aggressive with her was breathtaking. Soft touches were nice for sure, but there was no question here that he actually wanted her.
“Come home with me,” he breathed, turning his face toward her throat. He ground against her roughly, his teeth sinking into a soft spot above her collarbone.
Nina was going to have one hell of a hickey.
Nina almost said yes. But that was the horny little goblin living in her head talking, not the more sensible Nina. She was really hating sensible Nina right now. But it wasn’t smart to go home with a guy she just met, not matter how gorgeous, how sexy, or how nice he actually was.
She made a sound that was nothing but pure anguish.
“I am so, so tempted,” she admited. “But never go- go to a second unknown location, y’know?”
Nina had all kinds of other fun ideas though just in staying right where they were and she nearly offered up the suggestion. Sensible Nina had to go chirping again though, because she really did want to avoid sleeping with people the same night she met them. …and the challenge she’d nearly forgotten about!
“We should- We should get some water maybe,” she suggested, but didn’t sound too invested in the idea.
“Right.” Dane made a frustrated sound against her skin. “You’re right.”
He didn’t immediately back off, though, instead leaning his forehead against the wall and taking a deep breath. His hips shifted in just the right way, his breath hitching, and he finally let go of her wrists in order to grab her around the waist with equal firmness.
“I’m going to need a moment,” he said tightly. “Hold still. God, I’m about ready to fuck you right here against this wall.”
She shivered again and she really did try to stay still at first, but quickly gave up to circle her arms around his neck now that she was free to do so. A real life spicy professor, was she really going to skip on that just for her already-broke-once rules and besting Jay in a battle of wills?
Though the tempting thought of winning the challenge and then making Jay watch her bang the professor’s brains out was so very appealing.
“Ask me again in three weeks and I might just let you,” she mumbled into his ear.