“Holy fucking shit!” she shouted, the German forgotten as her husband obviously then did something new with his hand. “I can’t … FUCK.”

Her body stiffened briefly, and then she babbled as her climax rippled through her. A satisfied hum fell over the crowd, and Nathaniel kissed her shoulder and pulled out the earplugs.

“That’s my girl,” he said before unbuckling her and removing the blindfold. He looked around the room, searching, and his gaze fell on Jeff’s.

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A room, Jeff thought. He’d want a private room to take her to.

He pushed back from the wall, found Daniel, and mouthed, “Blue bedroom.” Daniel nodded in agreement. The blue bedroom was used exclusively for aftercare at parties. Jeff waited until Nathaniel had Abby gathered in his arms before leading him down the hall to the bedroom.

He checked the room to make sure it had an adequate stock of blankets and water; then he closed the door behind him, giving the couple the privacy they needed. Jeff was sure people would have questions for the visiting pair, but it was understood those would have to wait.

Out in the hallway, he looked again for Dena but didn’t see her. He’d go set up the room for their demo and then check again for her.

She still hadn’t made it to the party when he finished setting up for their demo. Impatient and worried, he waited for her outside on one of the guesthouse’s private porches. The possibility she wouldn’t show existed, he decided, recalling the conversation he had with her when he’d called her about the demo.

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“Julie’s sick? But I spoke to her last night and she was fine.”

“I’m just telling you what Daniel told me.”

“I swear, if I didn’t know her better …”

“Yes?”

“Nothing.”

“Listen, Dena, if you’re not up to it or don’t want to—”

“No. It’s fine. I’ll be there.”

Jeff saw the headlights of her car approaching and slung his bag over his shoulder. As he watched, she parked and got out of the car. Wrapping her coat tightly around her body, she glanced over her shoulder before walking toward him.

She nodded at his bag. “I thought you said basics? You pack your entire playroom?”

God, he loved her wit. In the years since their split, he’d been with enough women to know he’d never find her equal. Aside from her physical beauty, she had a lively intellect and a carefree attitude. And though she was a brilliant attorney who could command an entire courtroom, it was when she submitted herself to his control that she fully came alive.

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“Don’t ask a question you don’t want the answer to,” he said. Half the fun of play was getting inside her mind, and he’d always enjoyed catching her off guard.

As expected, his words sobered her up. “You’re right, Sir. I apologize.”

“You were almost late,” he said.

“But I wasn’t.”

He nodded. “We’re going to be in the sitting room off the kitchen. I want you in position in twenty minutes. Proper position this time. None of that sloppy business like the last time, unless you want to see exactly what I have in my bag in long and excruciating detail. Understood?”

Her chin lifted. “Completely, Sir.”

Seventeen minutes later he walked into the sitting room and frowned. Dena was nowhere to be seen. She had three minutes left, but it wasn’t like her not to be at least five minutes early. After Nathaniel’s demo, he’d positioned a padded table in the room. Daniel had planned only to demonstrate a flogging, but Jeff had decided to add a bondage element as well.

He glanced over the people moving through the guesthouse. The crowd had grown since the earlier demo, mostly new people, though he did recognize quite a few of those present. His gaze fell on a large clock. One minute left. Was she baiting him?

Five minutes after the demo was supposed to start, he looked across the room to Daniel and raised an eyebrow. Daniel looked out into the hallway and shook his head.

Jeff sighed. Well, fuck.

“Sorry to disappoint everyone, but it looks like we’re not going to be having the scheduled demo,” Jeff said to the crowd.

There was murmuring as the crowd broke up. Nathaniel had been standing near the back with his arms around Abby, but as the crowd left, he took her hand and led her to where Jeff stood.

“What’s happening?” Nathaniel asked.

“Missing a submissive,” Jeff said. “I know she’s here. I spoke to her when she arrived. Gave her plenty of time to get ready.”

Abby whispered something to Nathaniel. At his nod, she spoke. “Is it Dena, Sir?”

“Yes. Have you seen her?”

“Our paths crossed in the bathroom. I was walking out, and she was walking in. I only remember because she was on the phone and I thought that odd.”

Jeff glanced at Nathaniel. “Do you mind if Abby goes to see if she’s still there and if everything’s okay?”

“Of course not.” He turned to his wife. “Abigail?”

“Be right back, Master,” she said, spinning to walk out the door.

“Has she done this before?” Nathaniel asked.

“Never. She’s always on time. Early even.” Jeff looked up as Daniel came back into the room. “Is she ever late for a mentor session?”

“No. She’s always early,” Daniel said.

So what was her problem tonight? Jeff wondered. He had a sinking suspicion it was him. He was the reason she hadn’t shown up. Hell, she hadn’t sounded like she wanted to do the demo in the first place. That much had been obvious when he’d called her.

“You probably should have asked another Dom to run the demo with her,” he told Daniel.

“No,” he answered. “She should have spoken up if she had an issue with it. She’s experienced enough to know better.”

“Where is everyone?”

The three men turned toward the door. Dena stood there with her hands on her hips. She was still wearing her party outfit, which was against the rules for a submissive in a demo.

“And she should know better than that,” Daniel added with a pat on Jeff’s shoulders. “You were the Dom in the demo; I’ll let you handle her.”

“Thanks,” Jeff muttered. He’d been looking forward to the demo with Dena; this coming confrontation he was not looking forward to.

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