A tale of Alex and Dahlia, of foolish love gone right. Please don’t try this at home.
Dahlia was two seconds from doing a runner. She sat perched on the edge of the bar stool, fiddling with the straw in her whiskey and Coke, wondering if she really had the nerve to continue on with this conversation. The woman across from her at the bar didn’t seem to judge her, but why should she? She owned the club.
“Well, normally we just get people in here who want to dabble. We surprisingly get more couples than individuals, but the individuals, like I said, are mainly just curious. Their curiosity for those types of games don’t last as far as I can tell, and they become curious about other things. They still come here, but they tend to look for other distractions.” The club owner, Miranda Marchand, took a sip of her ginger ale and glanced back at Dahlia. The woman could barely look her in the eye. “Have you tried looking at individual ads in the Chronicle?”
Dahlia looked up at her, brushing her wayward brown curls out of her face. “Yeah, um, meeting strange men in desolate places is all anyone would offer. I think they thought it would be a part of the appeal. That’s why I thought a club would be better. More people, you know?” She shrugged. “I don’t know what the norm is.”
“Most people don’t. Most think a little spanking and handcuffs for the evening and they’re suddenly experienced in the lifestyle–”
“But I don’t know if I’m really interested in everything about the lifestyle,” Dahlia cut in quickly. “The Internet would have you believe that it’s all latex and torture devices, but I’m interested in the intimacy of it, of pleasing someone with my submission. Of growing with someone. Could you imagine a want ad for that?” She laughed humorlessly.
“Maybe if you put your ad in a church bulletin.” Miranda smiled.
That shocked a laugh out of Dahlia. “I may not mind a little latex or torture, but I think there would need to be some level of trust. Maybe it’s not what’s usually done, but I’d like to get to know a person a little first, talk, or exchange some emails. I just can’t imagine walking into something with my head down and allowing a perfect stranger to smack me around for my pleasure.” Dahlia paused and looked Miranda in the eye. “Maybe I’m high maintenance, but I’d like a strong verbal relationship. The talking bit is my real kink, I think. It’s the one that I think is the hardest to pull off. A man with a way with words and whom I trusted, could probably talk me into anything, latex and torture devices included.”
Miranda nodded. “You’re right. Men get on top of you and grunt nonsense in your ear, but it only takes a few phrases from them to change the tone of the whole experience.” Miranda studied Dahlia for a moment. She was pretty with her mess of shoulder length curls and short, black, jersey cotton dress. Miranda was also about a head taller, maybe a bit more, but Miranda had been blessed with her father’s height. Unlike her baby brother who was a few inches shorter. Speaking of Alex, she wondered if her brother would be interested. He was the only man that she knew personally that could have the patience and desire to try with Dahlia Warwick. He’d never been able to find a woman who was willing to allow him any of his needs for more than a night or two. He’d given up looking, Miranda thought to herself, so she wasn’t sure he’d agree, but she would ask anyway. He was the reason she’d called to arrange a meeting with Dahlia.
Dahlia interrupted her thoughts. “So that’s why I wanted to talk to you. I just wondered if you had any advice. Should I take my chances and come on a Friday night? Or…?”
“Well, you can certainly do that if you want, but give me a few days. Matchmaking isn’t usually one of my services, but as it happens I might know someone. He’s sort of off the scene, but he might be interested,” Miranda said, standing. It was time to get the club ready for the night.
“Why is he off the scene, or is that too personal?” Dahlia asked, standing as well.
Miranda thought for a moment and sighed. “He’s very serious,” Miranda hedged. “And what was fun for a while just wasn’t very fulfilling to him. He wanted more than what was offered to him.” She wanted to say more, but she didn’t know how far she could go without being a gossip, or betraying her brother’s trust. She felt as if she might have said too much.
Dahlia nodded and took a nervous breath. “Alright. I’ll wait, then. Do you think he’ll agree?”
Miranda shrugged. “I think he won’t at first, but curiosity could possibly change his mind.” Then she remembered something. “What is it you do, if you don’t mind me asking?”
Dahlia, taken off guard by the question, answered anyway. “Mostly I’m just a mom helping my daughter get through her high school years, but I work as a CPA. My ex-husband and I own a building around the corner from here. We mostly work with businesses.”
“So, you know your way around a computer?” Miranda asked.
“Sure. Did you need help with something?” Dahlia asked, a bit puzzled, but she had time to help if Miranda needed it.”
Miranda laughed a little. “No, no, just wondering, but maybe during tax time, though you’re probably swamped.”
Dahlia nodded. “I am, but we run an efficient company and we wouldn’t say no to another client.”
“You’re on good terms then, yes?” Miranda asked as she walked Dahlia out of the club to her car. It was ridiculously hot outside and even after living in Texas all her life, Miranda still wasn’t used to it. And it was only July. “You and your ex?”
“Yes. We really should have never gotten married. We thought after I got pregnant that it was the best thing, but we just aren’t all that attracted to each other,” Dahlia said, telling a palatable version of the truth.
“You must have been attracted to each other at some point,” Miranda said.
“Not so much attraction, just alcohol. We seem to like each other a lot if it’s been awhile and we drink together. Luckily, I learned a couple years ago to stop doing that.” Dahlia smiled and leaned against her car. “He’s my best friend and a great dad, and I don’t know why we’re not attracted to each other. It would be easier,” she sighed. “I like where we’re at now, though. Callie, our daughter, can work us both over now.”
Miranda laughed, but was still slightly confused. “You’d think that living together for so long, you’d eventually develop something more.” She wondered if there was something going on. Maybe he was gay. Or maybe Dahlia was a horrible nag. Alex would kill her if that were the case. Unless he gets to punish her for it, Miranda thought with a smirk.
“You’d think,” Dahlia said wryly. “In many ways it did. We’re very loyal to each other. Our friendship deepened substantially. I was becoming very bitter towards the lack of intimacy and he faked his way through when he could. I realized that I had to make a choice: Stay and become bitter or we split amicably. I chose the latter.” She shrugged negligently.
“How did he take it?” Miranda wondered aloud, realizing that she really had no business asking.
Dahlia thought for a moment. “He knew it was coming. He knew it was inevitable. He was irritated at first, but once we figured things out, he forgot about his irritation. The only thing that changed was he moved across the hall.” Dahlia smiled a little. “We live in the same building. Right above our business.”
“Does he ever bring women home?” Miranda asked before she thought better of it. Or men, she thought.
Dahlia chuckled. “No. I don’t think he knows how to pick up women. I am convinced that he will find someone, though. I just hope his mind isn’t elsewhere when she’s staring him in the face.” Dahlia smiled widely. “Maybe I should bring him here on a weekend. I could convince him. Probably.” Dahlia looked at Miranda. She was tall and lean and striking. Dahlia would have hated her instantly on the street. She had a short black blunt haircut and dark eyes behind black-rimmed glasses. She was beautiful. If Nick couldn’t turn his head at her, he would be a hopeless case.
“He might go running for the hills,” Miranda said. “I could lure him into the dungeons with promises of ledgers–don’t smirk at me like that!” She laughed.
Dahlia still gave her a look. “You have dungeons in there? I might have to reconsider.”
Miranda smiled. “It’s too hot and dry here for proper dungeons, but they certainly look it.” She didn’t want to say that she lived down there or that her brother had moved into the renovated and unused rooms. She hadn’t wanted to turn them into guest rooms simply because it was in a separate area that gave her a semblance of privacy. “And if I don’t go set up the whips and chains, then it won’t get done.”
Dahlia’s eyes widened and Miranda laughed. “Kidding, kidding. Well, kind of.” She smirked. “Anyway, I’m going to give him your number. He’s continually on his phone for work, so texting is his preferred method of communication. I’m not guaranteeing anything, though. I could probably convince him to text you, but then it will be up to you to convince him to keep texting you.”
Dahlia sobered. “I…that would work.” She swallowed audibly.
Miranda smiled and checked her email for the one that Dahlia had sent her earlier in the week to ask questions. “Is the number in your email the one you want to use?”
“Good,” Miranda said as she put her phone back in her pocket. “I will call you later in the week if he’s not interested in getting back on the scene. I can have you come in on Friday and we can see what mischief we can find.”
Dahlia nodded again, and smiled nervously. She thought she could manage that. “I’ll leave you to your torture devices,” she said as she got into her car. She smiled and waved as she drove away and Miranda stood in the parking lot for a few moments. She liked Dahlia and she seemed very sensible. She hoped her brother was amenable.
She pulled her phone back out.
Less than thirty minutes later, Miranda and Alex were sitting around her desk, half done with their supper.
“I have a girl I want you to meet this weekend,” Miranda said, then cringed, realizing that she just made this conversation longer than it had to be.
“How can I refuse Miranda the pimp. What’s my cut?” Alex asked, looking through the containers to see what was left. He looked completely disinterested.
Miranda sighed. “This one is different.” She listened for the expected sigh, and he was predictable. “Don’t sigh at me. I’ve never tried to set you up before. Telling you to come check out the club isn’t the same thing.” She still felt that she had let him down when she’d recommended that he come find someone at the club. She looked over her glasses at him and studied him for a moment, trying to see him like another woman might. Like her, his hair and eyes were dark, but he’d never forgiven her for being several inches taller. He was slouched down in the chair looking not unlike a sullen teenager and she wondered if that added to his appeal or not. She knew women liked strange things.
He wasn’t sure he wanted to do this again. When Dishabille opened last year, he had been initially excited about finding someone whom he could flesh out some of his seemingly unnatural urges. He was ashamed that he’d gone through so many women those first few months after Emily, and that was without counting the Brigit catastrophe. Even though it wasn’t quite his fantasy, he had access to some very willing and very creative women. It had been fun, but they were fleeting. They never wanted him more than a few nights. Any attempt at nursing his self-esteem had backfired.
After Emily, he naïvely wanted to find the one. Naïve because he had just come out of a relationship that had thoroughly emasculated him and he had gone into Dishabille with his head and his pride still reeling. With Emily, he’d had a very mundane, but consistent relationship. He’d never been comfortable sharing his fantasies with her, but he’d assumed she was the best he’d be able to get. She was pretty and smart. The crazy didn’t come until later, but boy did it ever come. Luckily, he knew when it was time to cut his losses.
Dishabille was a club that Miranda opened to cater to fantasies. Particularly fantasies that were more taboo. They ran the gamut from role play in already committed and monogamous couples, finding the third for a ménage à trois, and a little bondage. Some came anonymously looking for a perfect candidate, but some couples came to experiment with things that they had only whispered to each other in the dark and at their most intimate moments.
She and Alex were technically trust fund babies. They didn’t know it until well into their twenties, though. Apparently, their grandmother had a lot of untouched bonds that no one knew about and lived very modestly. When their grandmother died five or so years ago, they were twenty-five and twenty-eight, and both had already established their careers. Alex was an Information Technology consultant and Miranda managed a Gentleman’s Club. The job had fallen into her lap, so to speak. She had been working as the Spa Manager at an upscale Austin hotel when Charlotte, a good friend from her university days, came in with her husband, Benjamin Stone, a well-known Austin mogul. Charlotte, after catching up with her old friend, had mentioned to her husband that Miranda would be the perfect person to run Eden. Mr. Stone gave Miranda his card and told her to stop by on her day off. She did, and once she found out that she would be making nearly double at Eden, she decided she didn’t care how much bullshit she had to tolerate.
Working at Eden and having the security of her trust fund was what enabled her to open Dishabille. She learned a lot about human sexuality at Eden. She learned its flaws and its potential. She learned that people were turned on by not so normal things. She saw many a lonely face looking for a connection. She saw girls, for that’s what they were, become empty shells right before her very eyes. There were a few women that she marveled at, though. They loved their jobs. They loved to mingle with the men and sit on laps. They laughed genuinely. It was one of these girls, a woman called Nadine, that had explained it. She said that she tended to ignore the ones that didn’t know how to behave and pay attention to the ones that looked like they needed it. She said she enjoyed making these men feel important and attractive. She knew she was attractive, and didn’t need some twenty-one year old, not able to hold his liquor, asking if they had a back room he could take her to. Nadine honestly believed she wasn’t a novelty and while Miranda disagreed on that point, she respected that Nadine really believed that. Miranda learned a lot from her and thoughts of a perfect club started to materialize.
The real estate part was easy. She wanted something close to downtown, zoned for business, and with plenty of space. There were a few old dormitory houses that were for sale, and one of those was close to a main road, close to bars, and in a generally high traffic area. When she had found out that the ground floor was zoned for commercial use, she talked to the real estate agent, took a tour, and waited for inspections. The house was old, so she expected quite an additional investment. When it was all said and done, and a cool million down, she ended up paying more on interior design than on construction. She purchased a skinny lot across Dishabille to pave for additional parking.
Planning and executing the purpose of Dishabille was the hard part. The ground level was easily designed into a nightclub. That part she could do. It was how to market the rest of the club that was the challenge. She put out a full page advertisement in The Austin Chronicle the last weekend in September. It was for a masquerade themed Halloween party. $20 singles, $30 couples, and $2 drinks. A brief mention of ‘ask us about our themed rooms’ at the bottom with a drawing of a woman in a falling camisole, arms behind her back, a dark scarf around her eyes, and sitting supplicant upon a bed, was marketing perfection. If Miranda could have anticipated the inquiries that she’d received, she would have bought the Hilton had it been for sale. That symbol soon became her logo. Dishabille took off.
For the first few months, it was mostly just a crowded nightclub with only a few rooms being used. She made sure the rooms were stocked with simple bondage supplies, and various other sexual aids. But after the first themed night, she now had a catalog of things that people wanted in their rooms and she was happy to provide them. Anything from food to a clown costume. She had brainstorming sessions with her staff and with the help of Dishabille’s website and a theme poll, she decided to do themes every couple of weeks. The first one had been ‘Find your Mistress or Master’. That was such a success that she made sure the club had this theme several times a year. Anyone who wanted a room had to sign a release and get their identification scanned. She didn’t want to nag about safe words, but she still placed a bouncer at the bottom of the stairwell to make sure a safe word was established before they proceeded with the evening. For some couples, she thought that would add to the excitement because it seemed to be a part of the experience.
Those nights were how Miranda got her brother to come in. He had been nearly destroyed by his previous girlfriend and she thought unwisely that he needed a little bit of fun in her club. She thought Alex would do well to resurface from his apathy and try to enjoy his life again. It seemed promising at first. He began seeing Brigit after the first themed party. He was smiling again. He was actually seeing a woman, not just for sex, and several times a week. Three weeks to the day, Brigit was back at Dishabille walking up the stairs with another man. She later found out that Alex had been at Brigit’s place working on her computer. Miranda had texted him and he was at Dishabille soon after. He showed no outwardly signs of emotion when Miranda saw him. He went to the bar and chatted up a lonely looking girl and took her upstairs. He did that weekly for the next month until Miranda threatened to bar him from the property. She made him take a few days off and they drove to the coast where they could really talk and relax. They laughed about Miranda’s lack of partner when she ran a glorified sex club and Alex vowed to never date a woman who wasn’t computer literate.
While he and Brigit hadn’t had a long-term relationship, it was still a blow to Alex because he had been able to share his fantasy of domination with her. She’d been completely on board for a couple of days, but soon tired of it. Alex had been disappointed, but she’d still been an adventurous and creative lover. Alex had been confident that they’d be able to explore his fantasies further in the future.
Alex had moved into the lower room next to Miranda after their trip. She’d just renovated the quarters next to hers and since hers were plenty big, she thought it practical to offer him a place. He’d thought about buying something, but hadn’t gotten around to committing. So now they could have dinners together most nights. They had been close growing up, but adulthood and responsibilities had separated them.
Alex would indulge his sister for now, but he had no interest in a curious woman who would leave as soon as her curiosity was satisfied. He wouldn’t admit his own interest, yet. “How is she different?”
Miranda looked at him. “Well for one, she’s terrified. She doesn’t really want to come to the club sniffing around men to see which one she wants to tie her up.”
How the hell did Miranda come across this woman? Alex held up a hand. “Wait. Where did you meet her?”
Miranda paused. Would Dahlia mind if she read Alex the email? She decided to paraphrase. “I received an email from her asking about the club. She wanted to know how a person who was curious about BDSM was to find the right person. How to find a person who would be patient with her,” Miranda said, looking at her brother. “I actually thought of you right away, so I invited her here so I could see her and talk to her. She talked about her reluctance to answer ads or to even put out her own ad.” Miranda smirked. “She’s cute, too. Short, voluptuous, and crazy hair.”
Alex did look vaguely interested, but Miranda wasn’t sure how much he wasn’t showing. “What did you tell her?”
“I said that I might know someone. Might. I have her number and said that if he’s interested he’d send her a text,” Miranda admitted.
“What if I’m not interested?” Alex asked with a bit more attitude than Miranda expected.
Miranda shrugged. “Then don’t text her. Honestly, Alex. I wouldn’t have said anything, but I don’t think she wants to play around. She said that she’s been wanting to explore this for a while,” Miranda said and realized that she was defending Dahlia like they were old friends. It wasn’t every day that she meshed with someone so quickly, especially since she tended to hold people at arm’s length. “If you don’t want to, I told her to come Friday night. We do have a few regulars that could show her the ropes.” She smiled inwardly, knowing that would get him.
“Those cannibals would eat her alive, Miranda!” Alex was becoming interested despite his instincts, even if it was under the guise of protecting her. He had given up, but maybe he could try to be cautious and make an attempt at going slow. He sighed. “Give me her number. I’ll think about it.”
This pleased Miranda more than she thought it would. She copied the number down and handed it to him. She felt that she wanted to impart some great advice, but it was nothing he didn’t already know. She knew how hard this was for Alex, for him to open up and share his deepest secrets with another woman. Because his need for domination was his greatest secret. All the other women thought it was just for fun, that it was all just a sexual game. Dahlia must have an inkling that the person who was going to text her liked to dominate and was not just indulging sexual curiosities. She knew that Miranda wouldn’t put her in touch with just anyone.
She saw the pensive look on Alex’s face. “Take a few days and think about it, Alex. You aren’t obligated to anything.”
“I think I want to. I just lack the instincts to know what I’m not supposed to say or do. When I do and say what comes naturally, girls don’t stick around for long. If I keep it all in, I’m stuck in another sad relationship.” It wasn’t very often that he looked miserable, but he looked downright pitiful now. Miranda wasn’t sure if it was a put-on.
“What are you telling these poor girls?” Miranda asked him gently.
Alex quirked a smile. “The truth. Sometimes when things are getting intimate, the running commentary in my head comes out of my mouth.” He turned serious. “They like it, but they don’t like it for long.”
“You mean serious things? Like emotions and commitment and things?” At Alex’s nod she continued, “I don’t think it has anything to do with what you do or say. They weren’t looking for monogamy in the first place. That’s why I was impressed with Dahlia. She’s not interested in going through a bunch of Doms to find the right one. She wants to find him on the first try,” Miranda said. “She didn’t come right out and say, but she’s looking for a relationship. If she wasn’t, she’d just come here alone on a Friday.”
“How do I not scare her away, then?
How do I know how fast or slow I need to take it?” Alex asked anxiously.
Miranda thought for a minute. These things weren’t so black and white. “I think you should be yourself. I don’t want you to struggle daily with second guessing all your words and actions. In fact, if it’s a visible struggle, it might be a turnoff.”
Alex had always been very intense, even as a child. He felt things differently than most people. There had always been a depth and fervor about him that he hadn’t always been able to hide, and when he had tried, the apathy was even more stifling than his passion. Miranda knew that there had to be a girl that would appreciate all that intensity aimed at her.
Alex was reassured, but still wanted to try to be a little normal. At least at first. He knew he wouldn’t be able to change completely, but maybe he could hold off on being so overwhelming. He would try.
Alex got up while looking at the number, and headed for the door. Miranda was hopeful about that.
“Thanks for dinner,” she called after him with a smile.
“Uh huh,” he said absently as he walked out the door, still looking at the paper.
Miranda was optimistic. She knew Alex would text Dahlia tonight. His impulsiveness wouldn’t allow him to wait.
Quote I made from Tame (Apprivoise Trio) by Arden Aoide one of my Favorite Authors
This gif will be the death of me. They’re English subtitles of the Chinese version.
I’m laughing so hard I’m crying I can’t choose the best one.
wait for the founders names oh my god its worth it
Eat the crickets.
You ARE the next generation of melons
Crying with giggles. Oh god. I almost couldn’t make it to the end for fear of peeing the bed.