Monday, October 22, 2012
# # #
Mistress Katrianna slapped her leather riding crop against her thigh. “Don’t make me resort to this,” she warned.
Niles shook his mane and whinnied, his huge eyes on the crop. He was tricked out for the show ring, in English saddle, bridle and reins and a bit in his mouth. It didn’t tally with Katrianna’s definition of bondage and discipline, but this was Niles’s fetish. He was obsessed with dressage.
Katrianna tugged on the lead. The slender dapple obediently went through his paces in a circle around the gym-sized dungeon: walk, trot, canter, high-step, back to walk. Even Kat, who figured by now she’d seen everything, found Niles’s kink bizarre. She was used to training subs; training horses wasn’t something she’d signed on for. As long as he ponied up the cash, though, she wasn’t about to complain.
A flip of the lead brought Niles prancing to a halt. “Good boy,” Kat cooed, and dug into her jodhpurs for Niles’s reward. He lipped the sugar cubes from her open palm while Kat patted his neck. When the sugar was gone, he shifted. Without a horse’s girth to hold it, the saddle slipped down over his butt. Niles worked the bit out of his human mouth. “Next Thursday?” he asked hopefully.
“If the gym’s available. Check with the desk.”
Niles went into the locker room to dress and fetch her pay. Katrianna tucked her crop in her belt with a grateful look around the gym, and a fleeting, grateful thought for Dante. Her dungeon at home could only accommodate the smaller species. If, say, a hippo or giraffe client decided to shift in the middle of a session, things got dicey. When Dante offered her this job and this space at his Interspecies Pleasure Club, Kat had jumped at the chance. Her client list had tripled in the last month alone. Who knew so many shapeshifters harbored so many fantasies?
She heard a quiet step behind her. Assuming it was Niles with her fee, she was surprised to see Dante himself join her in the gym. Before she could speak he handed her a small stack of large bills. “From Niles. I ran into him in the locker room. Thank you for working with him. He’s so much happier these days.”
“Different strokes,” Katrianna said, pocketing the cash. “You took your percentage already?”
“Not in cash this time. A client has a fantasy, and only you can handle it.”
Aha. She should have known Dante hadn’t suggested this arrangement out of altruism. Everything came with a catch. “Dangerous, is it?”
“Not necessarily. Simply specialized. The client was very specific. You’re the only qualified domme for this, on several levels.”
Kat listened with growing amusement while Dante described what his client wanted. “Are you kidding me?" she said at the end. "He honestly wants to—?”
“He honestly does, and he’s willing to pay handsomely for the privilege. I know your contract specifically states no intimate contact with clients, but in this case—”
“This doesn’t fall under intimate,” she finished for him. “It falls under stupid, on his part. But if that’s what he wants … what’s he offering?”
Dante named the fee. Kat had to bite down hard on a gasp. For that much, she could return to Kenya in style. She could win her freedom at last. “You’ve got a deal,” she said. “For that much, he can bring friends. I promise I’ll go easy on him.”
“He doesn’t want easy. He wants the full experience. Everything you’ve got.”
“Then he’s crazy. Or … ” She narrowed her eyes. “What species is he? Human?”
Dante shrugged. “He wouldn’t say.”
Trap, her paranoia screamed at her. Somehow Mustafa had tracked her down. This was a test to determine her identity, make her reveal herself. Her damaged sense of trust asserted itself. Dante would never betray her or any of his employees. And the money was just too good to pass up.
“All right,” she decided. “It’s his safety at stake, not mine. Dress up the place and send him in.”
# # #
Kat prowled the perimeter of the “jungle” Dante had made of the gym. Given what he had to work with, she had to admit he’d done a pretty good job. Rumor had it he was looking to upgrade with technology that would turn his “playrooms” into Star Trekian holodecks for a more realistic experience. Dante knew a wide range of—the polite term was “interesting” people, some of whom were rumored to be extraterrestrial. Gossip hinted the unassuming club owner had access to tech and resources beyond his father’s or Shere Khan’s. Certainly beyond Mustafa’s, as he had kept her safe and secret for this long.
For now, however, he had to make do with artificial trees and plants interspersed with the real, and plastic vines and painted ropes and a sound-effects tape for the jungle noises. The scents were real enough, cloying and powerful, as was the dampness beneath her paws. The ceiling was shrouded in shadow, like a canopy of trees in deepening twilight.
Someone had paid Dante a ton of money to set this up for him. Kat assumed he must be human. What other species would pay so much for the opportunity, of one could call it that, to wrestle a lion bare-handed?
Someone leaped onto her back from above.