Cody smiled at Astrid when she came out of the bedroom wearing boxers and a shirt. Calder frowned at his brothers’ obvious leering when she wasn’t watching but let it go, knowing he was a terrible flirt.
“Astrid, it’s good to see you,” Cody winked, “Nice outfit.”
She smirked, “Well, my clothes are at home, but your brother insists I stay in his bed. Who am I to argue?”
He grinned at Calder after she strolled into the kitchen. He smugly shrugged, remembering how she had professed her love earlier.
“I’d play hooky too,” he teased, “You really like her, huh?”
“Yup,” he motioned Cody towards the office, “I do. Come.”
He sank into the plush brown armchair beside Calder’s desk, “So, I read Remy’s file. Dudes a fucking whack job. Is she worth the hassle?”
He scowled, “Astrid’s better than that asshole deserves and he won’t harm her again. You have no idea the number of bruises he’s left on her body.”
Cody shifted, uncomfortable at the news, “She’s a sweet girl, but she must enjoy it to keep taking him back. Don’t discount her actions.”
“You’re one to talk!” Calder retorted, sitting behind his desk, “You only pursue women with shit for brains, so it doesn’t hurt when they walk away. You don’t fool me, bro.”
Cody rolled his eyes, “You’re the youngest and try to act the eldest.”
“No one beats Chris,” he snickered, “He’s been forty since twelve.”
“Yeah, but it’s helped him. I ran into Julia on the way in and she seemed off. She’s secretive these days.”
“How would you know? You hardly see her, or are you looking out for Chris’s attractive wife like you did his girlfriends in high school?”
Cody grimaced, “She may be hot with tits meant for fucking, but I’d never touch her. Julia’s hit on my dick more than once.”
“Hell, me too. Last week she offered to clean my pipes.”
“No shit?” he laughed.
“I politely told her the stick wedged up Chris’s ass if overdue for removal if ever in that area.”
Cody lost it, slapping his knee, “That’s great! They’re polar opposites. Julia’s hiding something. Do you think she’ll leave him?”
“I’m through discussing our brothers’ shitty wife. I need Astrid to read that report.”
“Are you sure? It’ll scare her. Shit, it freaked me out. They should lock the guy up. The last woman he was serious about, ended up raped and beaten to death at the lake we used to swim in.”
“Police had witnesses to his whereabouts,” Calder agreed, “but I have the same feeling that Remy killed them. The profile of the two women he dated is eerily similar to Astrid. He picked her because he prefers them introverted.”
“She was quiet at work but confident,” Cody sat forward.
“Remy found Astrid when she was alone, desperate for love and affection she says she’s never had. He may have held off on sex for months because he was fearful of his own desires. Women with low self-esteem suit him. They feed his ego.”
“For real? You sound like you’ve given this a lot of thought.”
“He works at a fetish underground, fucking for money. His clients pay for pain. Maybe he can’t hold back in his own sex life, trying to prove he can with her but failing. He likes self-conscious, attractive losers without family ties.”
“He doesn’t either, raised in an orphanage since birth. Astrid was ripe for the picking, huh?”
“She was until I messed up his plans. He claims he loves her, but it’s a controlling type of sentiment. Remy let her leave once, and he won’t do it again. I feel it.”
“Talk to the police then!”
“No,” Calder stood, “She has to deal with him her way first. She doesn’t fear him outside the bedroom. She loves me.” The grin stretched across his face was one Cody rarely observed, “I might marry her one day.”
“Dad will never allow that,” he avoided Calders’ glare, “but she’s great. Okay, I’m out of here. Work’s waiting when your dick tires.”
Calder punched his brother’s arm, “You’re just jealous. She’d eat you alive.”
Cody’s eyes widened, “Wow, details over lunch tomorrow?”
“Fuck off,” he shoved him into the hall with a playful scowl.
Astrid sat on the sofa watching TV. Cody waved bye, letting himself out. The folder laid untouched on the coffee table.
Calder sighed, crouching between her legs, “Sorry.”
“Cody’s a flirt who’d steal you if he could.”
“Ah,” she parted her thighs, “No dice. No one ever will.”
His desire for her flared. She drove him towards madness every time she turned into the sultry confidant lover he knew she was. He wanted her to read Remy’s report though.
“Go through it,” he pointed to the envelope, “Now.”
“Not yet,” she tried to kiss him, but he pulled away, “Calder, I’m not ready, okay?”
He saw dread in her doe eyes, “Fine. I’ll back off, but do it soon.”
She gripped his forearm, “I can’t handle this right now. I-I’m still recovering from his tricks.”
Her refusal to tell him more stung, but stopped pushing the subject. She would have to confess what Remy did to her before it fucked her up even more. “Babe, have you figured out what a wonderful listener I am?”
With a forced smile, she replied, “Yes and thank you, for everything.”
“No problem,” he winked, “What show are you into?”
Astrid didn’t want to lounge, urgent to make love again. She was a fiery woman who never seemed to tire of sex. Normally, he wouldn’t think twice but men had abused Astrid’s easy complacence, and he wondered if she used it as a coping mechanism instead of facing her problems. It was something they’d work on in the future.
In the meantime, they returned to bed where they escaped reality together for the rest of the night.
* The next day *
Remy walked through the rear entrance of the Armor. The weather was turning warmer, further irritating his sour mood. He wiped the sweat off his forehead, striding down the long black painted hallway, thankfully it had central air and absently muttered a hello to Ted, the bouncer who ignored him, glued to his phone.
He entered the door on the left, where a steep staircase led to the underground area of the establishment. The first floor entertained mild patrons who preferred a little slap and tickle while the hard-core shit went on underneath their feet.
The dimly lit stairwell was empty, which he sent up a silent thanks for. Usually, a few sluts stationed themselves there, hoping for an easy catch. Remy rejected them when they approached him in the past, afraid of catching an STD.
When he stepped through the key-carded entryway at the bottom, blinked as loud techno music and flashing strobe lights assaulted his senses. The rooms bulged full to capacity, and he hoped Teena’s disposition improved over the boost of revenue.
Arlo was putting on a demonstration tonight, tying a busty blonde to a spanking bench while demeaning her in front of a debased crowd. There were three platforms with assorted furniture and props to perform on and use. He noted the center spot highlighted a female tied up beautifully in a Shibari scene with her partner whispering in her ear. His heart raced when she fixed her brown eyes on him, wishing he could experience something similar with Astrid one day.
“Remy!” A chick he used to screw before Astrid came into his life bumped into him, “Hi! You look great. Want to take me home? I have a brand new set of nipple clamps.”
He shoved the pretty, petite girl out of the way, sending her onto the dance floor. She yelled obscenities, but he ignored her outrage, continuing towards the office in the back. He hated coming to the club, glad he rarely needed to anymore. The place reminded him of the savage lurking beneath his placid outer appearance.
Remy eyed the men who surrounded a table he passed, poking needles into the flesh of a woman. Needle play was rare, but not unobserved in the Armor’s recesses. He long ago stopped feeling ashamed of his unorthodox proclivities. The fear, lust, and trust in women’s eyes as he caused them to bleed and break beyond addicting.
Remy knocked on Teena’s private door. Jake, her slave, opened it naked except for the sparkly collar around his throat. Teena sat behind her desk, obscured by files. He almost laughed when her head popped up above the pile of paperwork.
“Fuck!” she shouted, “Pet, didn’t I tell you not to let anyone in? Get your ass over here.”
Jake dropped to his hands and knees in a flash, crawling to his mistress. Remy relaxed in a leather recliner next to a mechanical bondage rack while he accepted his punishment for disobeying her.
Teena stood five feet tall without the wicked stiletto boots she always wore, and with her fiery red hair and angelic face, many mistook her for spunky but harmless. In truth, she was a ruthless, raging bitch. She kicked Jake in the rear with her pointy heel until he begged for forgiveness before sauntering across the room.
He met her irritated frown with an arrogant smirk.
When she continued to stare, his eyes perused her black dress which he didn’t think applied as one since her ample tits hung out for all to admire, hooked through the cut-out pattern in front. The corset she always wore squeezed her torso, making her hourglass figure stand out like her flaming hair.
“Nice outfit,” he drawled, “Design it yourself?”
She beamed, “Of course, I create everything I wear. Pet!” she snapped, and the slave scurried over on his knees, “Drinks. Beer.”
Jake hustled out as Teena placed a finger to her pouty lips thoughtfully. He slouched further into the chair, legs spread wide. She did not intimidate him any more than he did her. Their respect for each other formed through a mutual passion for their job, but she reveled in pushing his buttons.
“What brings you here?” she finally asked, “Arlo told me your little witch left… again.”
He huffed an agitated growl, “Arlo shouldn’t talk about things that don’t concern him, or you.”
She stuck out her lower lip, leaning forward so her breast brushed his arm, “She broke your heart, right? It’s cracked before. Let her go.”
Remy took Teena’s face between his palms, “I can’t. She’s different, and would be with me if not for Calder Lewis.”
Teena licked his lips since they were so close, “He’s a lawyer. Are you crazy? You’re my chief dominant. When women call requesting the best, they know it’s you. The clients I’ll set up will make her inconsequential.”
He smashed her cheeks together until she squirmed. She leaned in, kissing him with passionate sloppiness, moaning when he bit her. He hated her and the poison she spewed.
“She isn’t going anywhere,” he pushed her away, smirking when she rubbed her sore cheekbones, “Astrid needs me. When I handle Calder, she’ll beg me to take her back.”
“You wish,” she breathlessly chuckled, wiping her mouth, “When you try, she’ll run like hell. Don’t be dumb. Just find someone else. You’re not hurting for attention.”
Remy was used to Teena talking shit. It was her thing. She owned a fetish establishment, focused on making money. The many drugs she peddled on the side to keep the whores in line were nothing compared to what she made off of guys like him and Arlo. Her sexual appetite was one reason he avoided the Armor as much as possible. They’d fucked before, and he never wanted to stoop so low again.
“Does she fuck good?” Teena prodded, “Does she enjoy your roughness or do you force her to endure it?”
“Both,” he muttered truthfully, “Astrid pretends she doesn’t want me. She needs exactly what I give her! What no one else can!” he grew infuriated, realizing Teena was right about Astrid running away from him forever, “I know what I have to do.”
“Take your cock out,” she ran her red nails down his jean-clad thighs, “Forget that little tease.”
Remy grabbed her throat and squeezed. “Astrid will come back and when she does, I’ll clear the air. She’ll realize I saved her.”
He spoke nonsense while Teena spasmed around his fingers until he released her. She fell to the ground, wheezing for breath. Jake entered the office, and he dared him with a look to object at the mistreatment of his mistress. He bowed his head in deference, standing by quietly. She rose and tried to kiss Remy again, but he shoved so hard she wobbled on her heels.
“Asshole,” she seethed, straightening her corset, “I’ll reschedule your appointments for a week. The bitch will wreck you and as usual, we’ll clean up your mess.”
He shot her a scathing glare, “What’s that supposed to mean? You’re lonely and spiteful, and can’t stand it when I’m happy.”
Teena snorted, sitting behind the desk, “Is that what you think I am? Oh well, I’ve been called worse. She’ll never take you back. You’re too invested to see the signs. I saw it coming and so did Arlo, bless his dark heart. You will lose everything because of her.”
“Astrid’s special,” he spat, “I’ll get out of here and we’ll start over without our past haunting us.”
Teena openly laughed in his face, “Such a dreamer.” she mocked, “That’s what I love about you, baby. The past makes us who we are, and you cannot change another heart by will alone. The girl doesn’t want nor love you. I’m telling you it’s better if you focus your energy elsewhere. She won’t accept your darkness as I do.”
Remy escaped Teena’s mocking grin and voice without responding.
The floor show was wilder than before. Arlo now stood on the center stage playing with a knife, gingerly running it across a gagged woman’s bare ass, and the crowd had let loose inhibitions, rutting like wild animals. Pungent smells of blood and sex tainted the atmosphere while cries of pain and pleasure sang above the music. He elbowed people out of his way, hastening for the exit.
When he reached the parking lot, inhaled the balmy air like a welcomed friend when earlier he’d cursed it. He stalked to his car, determined to not let Teena’s ominous words deter his plan. Astrid would be his again. Soon.
Remy loved Astrid more than himself and would prove it somehow.