“The Depression hit them pretty hard. Then the country went to war. I guess they had a bi-weekly poker club for a few years in the 50s and 60s, complete with cocktail servers who dressed like Playboy Bunnies. Who knows what else went on in the private rooms? They turned the hotel side into a flophouse in the 70s and 80s during the oil boom. Then after the energy bust, that side sat idle until Cody and Trace’s dad retired and moved to Arizona.”
“And yet the Rawhide Bar survived?”
“Mostly because it is a regular local bar that anyone can wander into and buy a drink. The club part is completely separate.”
Ainsley pulled her coat around her skimpy clothes. “And who makes up the majority of the members?”
“A few locals. Most are from out of town. Some from out of state.”
“How do potential new members hear about this place?”
“It’s not easy, since members have to sign a bunch of privacy and nondisclosure forms. Clientele recommendations come from managers of clubs like this in other parts of the country. Some members will talk to Murphy about someone they think might be a good fit for the club. Then Murphy investigates them. If he has enough interested parties, we host a guest night. In the last two years we’ve gained thirty new members.”
“No problems with Jim Bob blabbing at the town diner that he saw Betty Sue getting screwed silly by a man who wasn’t her husband?”
Layla laughed. “Not in the six years we’ve been here. But there are stringent rules, because a place like this is so hard to find, especially in rural America. The members are very protective of this place and the people they’ve connected with here. I know several female members who trust a Dom with a flogger or a whip, but they haven’t exchanged last names. First names only. No sharing of personal information unless it’s mutually agreed upon. And then only if Murphy is aware they’ll be meeting outside the club. There isn’t a lot of bullshit because all the members are here for the same thing.”
“Sex with varying levels of kink. Sex without strings.”
Ainsley met Layla’s curious stare. “What?”
“Nice job distracting me and stalling for time. I bet I sounded like a tour guide, breaking down every single thing and providing historical footnotes.” Layla struck a pose. “And here we have a spanking bench covered in the softest cowhide. Look at the manacles, lined with rich Cordovian leather. Only the best at the Rawhide Club.”
“Did you notice the words to that TV ditty are kinda dirty?” Ainsley belted out, “Head ’em up, move ’em in, move ’em out…Rawhide!”
Layla groaned. “I am so glad there’s no karaoke at this place.”
She smirked. “Let’s mosey on in and find us a cowboy to ride until our hides are raw.”
Ben was contemplating sub choices when a flash of red caught his eye. He swiveled on his barstool to watch the siren in the silk kimono saunter through the room.
Oh hell yeah, his night had just improved tenfold.
She perched on the edge of her barstool, every inch of her so prim and proper Ben’s fingers itched to muss her up.
After he watched her for a few minutes, he asked Murphy, “Who is the hot number in red with Layla?”
“Her name is Angel.”
“Angel,” rolled off his tongue. Perfect name for her. Sipping his beer, he focused entirely on her. Lush body, lush mouth. Great smile. Expressive eyes. She was off-the-scale sexy in his opinion. So why the hell was the woman wearing a wig? Not a subtle one, but a sleekly styled black wig, the last inch of hair dyed candy-apple red. Was she trying to look dangerous? Hip? Naughty?
Be interesting to coax the truth from her. Some very interesting extraction techniques popped into Ben’s head.
She must’ve sensed him staring at her because she turned and met his gaze head on. Their eyes remained locked for several long moments as Ben waited for her to lower her gaze—as he was accustomed. But she returned his intense eye-fuck full bore until Layla demanded her attention.
Holy shit. Dismissive wasn’t a reaction Ben usually got, especially not in here. And that intrigued the hell out of him. Casually, he said to Murphy, “Introduce me to her.”
Murphy sighed. “She’s not for you.”
“Why not? Has she already picked someone for tonight?”
Ben faced Murphy. “Then exactly what’s the problem?”
A devious smile appeared. “She’s not here as a sub.”
“She’s a guest?” Ben frowned.
“She’s here as special entertainment?” That’d explain her wacky get-up. Some clubs in bigger cities had themed nights where members dressed up. Cody and Trace had threatened to try it at the Rawhide, but Ben secretly didn’t believe that’d fly in Gillette, Wyoming. Then again, he hadn’t been around to voice his opinion in the last month.
“No,” Murphy said. “And she’s not here to bartend, waitress or clean the bar.”
Which left one other possibility but Ben couldn’t wrap his head around it. “She’s here as a…Domme?” After Murphy nodded, Ben’s jaw dropped. “No. Fucking. Way. A Domme. In the Rawhide.”
“And you know she’s had experience as a Domme?”
The woman’s defiant stare-down notwithstanding, Ben demanded, “How much?”
That hard look entered Murphy’s eyes. “I’ve told you as much as I can, Bennett—” he emphasized Ben’s preferred official club title, “—the rest you’ll have to get from her. And you know the rules since you had a heavy hand establishing them, so tread lightly. I have no issue throwing your ass out if you think you’re above the rules.”
As designated club head master, Murphy screened all applicants thoroughly. He kept the club balanced with the ratio of Doms to subs. He ran the club with an iron fist and a closed mouth. Which sucked balls right now, because Ben wanted to know everything about this supposed Domme.
Of course the goddamn rules came back to bite him in the ass the one time he needed to break one. Besides the first rule—everything that happened in the Rawhide Club was consensual—and the second rule—complete confidentiality and discretion among all members inside and outside the club—there was a third rule that stated—the members who wanted to publicly or privately play decided their own roles within the club: dominant, submissive or switch. Each designation had its own power and demanded its own respect.
But then again…the fourth rule—you pay, you play—meant if she came to the club on a regular night, then she was expected to participate.
Oh hell yeah. He could totally push that rule if it came down to it.
“I don’t like the gleam in your eye,” Murphy half-snarled.
How could Murphy see that? Because Ben couldn’t take his eyes off the intriguing Angel. Hot damn. The sensual way she moved screamed of a submissive enticing a Dom, not a confident Domme luring an entranced sub.
“Bennett?” Murphy prompted. “Are you even listening to me?”
Ben drained his beer. “I wanna play with her.” It’d been years since he’d had such an overwhelming urge to possess a woman. To tempt, to treat, to teach, to punish…all at the same time.
“The gold bracelet she’s wearing means I can’t let that happen.”
Colored rubber bracelets were how members differentiated their designations. Gold bracelets denoted a dominant and required proof of previous experience as a dominant. Silver bracelets signified a submissive. A white bracelet meant the member was a switch—ready to play either role. A black bracelet meant in a committed relationship and off limits.
However, any member could request to change their designation, after discussing the reason for it, with either Murphy or Cody, the only two officially designated Masters at the Rawhide Club.
“I’m aware of what the bracelet means, Murph.”
“Yep.” Ben slipped the bracelet over his hand and slid it across the bar top. “Give me a white bracelet.”
“Fuck no. This is ridiculous. Come on. What’s the deal with you tonight?”
Cody and Sully sensed tension and joined them at the bar, flanking Ben on either side. Cody spoke first. “Problem?”
“Only that Bennett wants to exchange his bracelet,” Murphy said.
“Christ, Bennett, you’re that bored with the selection of subs tonight? You’re willing to let one of these guys beat you and fuck you?” Sully asked with an edge of sarcasm.
“Fuck no.” He rested his elbows on the bar and they followed suit to keep their conversation private. “I don’t need to point out the woman wearing the gold bracelet, since she’s the only woman I’ve ever seen with a gold bracelet in this establishment. But I know better than to violate club rules and publicly question her right to wear it. So I asked Murphy to clarify why she deserved that status and he refused to provide details.”
Cody nonchalantly cast a glance over his shoulder. “I gotta agree with Bennett on this, Murph. The woman is out of her element, and I’ll eat my fucking keg tap if she’s got any real experience as a Domme.”
“Better give us the basics on her,” Sully added.
The big man stroked his fingers through his long black beard and looked at each one of them in turn, but spoke to Ben. “I told you. Angel is a friend of Layla’s. She’s here to see if this type of club would be a good fit for her.”
“She’s been involved in other clubs like this?”
“According to Layla, yes.”
“If that’s the case, then where does her previous Domme experience come in?”
Murphy sighed. “I argued with Layla about this, especially after she told me Angel’s only Domme experiences were in a controlled setting where she…ah…paid the dude so she could be in charge.”