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Author: Cara Dee




Shay Acton



“You know this guy by now. DC’s own Karate Kid! Our next fighter is five foot nine and weighs in at 167 pounds of sleek muscle, a give-no-fucks attitude, and sexy tattoos. Give it up for Acton!”

I handed over my smoke to Weasel before removing my hoodie and kicking off my sneakers. Then I slipped a hand down my sweatpants and adjusted my jockstrap. Weasel gave me back my smoke as well as my mouthguard, and I entered the cage to the roar of the hundreds of people who’d gathered in this seedy underground club on a Saturday night.

The club catered to anyone who liked quick cash. Businessmen, prostitutes, gang members, gold diggers, hustlers, junkies… They weren’t all here to watch the cage fights, but the steel bars and fence rattled every now and then to make their presence known.

If my family could see me now…

I took a drag from my smoke as the woman on the microphone introduced my opponent.

When I first started fighting at these events a few months ago, everyone called me pretty boy, and there’d been promises of fucking up the artwork that covered my entire torso and my arms. So far, no one had come close, and neither would this bald dude from Jersey with ugly tribal tats along the sides of his head.

He entered the cage with what I assumed was going to be a menacing expression. He held his arms too wide, pretending his muscles were too big, but to me, he just looked like he needed a handful of Tums. And possibly the number to a therapist who could advise him to lay off the steroids.

Was he supposed to scare me?

I exhaled some smoke and leaned back against the fence. Weasel stood on the other side and informed me my ass had been bought for the evening. Figuratively speaking. I nodded along as he explained that I was to win my first two fights, and then I’d drop in the third.

“Direct payout?” I asked with a brow cocked.

“As always,” he assured. “You’ll walk away with almost four grand in cash after I’ve taken my ten percent.”

Good enough for one evening.

It was one of the reasons I was here in the first place, to earn money. The second reason… Well, apparently it wasn’t very popular to ask Sadists to beat the shit out of me without telling them why. Throughout most of spring and summer, I’d tried to become part of three big BDSM communities here in the DC area, but they were all so motherfucking self-righteous.

They could shove their safe, sane, and consensual up their asses.

“Fighters, get ready!” the woman exclaimed.

I took a final drag from my smoke before sticking it through a square in the fence, and Weasel took it.

The bald dude looked angry and pumped.

I rolled my shoulders and inserted my mouthguard, more bored than anything. With nothing to lose, I didn’t get angry—or nervous, for that matter.

“You’re going down, Acton,” Jersey growled.

“All right.” I took my mark near the center of the cage and flexed my taped-up knuckles.

I found it fascinating, though, how no one called me pretty boy anymore. The nickname had disappeared as quickly as it had popped up.

The signal sounded throughout the club, and the fight began.






Reese Tenley



I received the text I’d been waiting for from my brother as I pulled into the parking lot behind Macklin’s restaurant, which, these days, was the only reason I ventured into DC. At his place, we could host our munches in private up on the roof, and privacy had become everything to me lately.

Everyone’s here.

Yeah, so was I. I’d just gotten stuck in traffic, because that’s what you did around major cities.

I fuckin’ hated it.

After grabbing the file on the passenger’s seat, I slipped out of my car and into the unforgiving August heat. “What the…” I licked my thumb and rubbed it over a white spot on my car door. Thank fuck, it was just some dirt. I wouldn’t have my perfectly restored ’67 Impala ruined by city traffic.

The spot where Macklin had opened his restaurant sat on the corner of an intersection and used to be a residential building. He’d kept some of that feel, resulting in several dining areas in what’d originally been regular rooms. It went with his personality in the way that he could never make a decision and run with it. Therefore, the three-story establishment consisted of a mismatched combo of themes. One area screamed of the Caribbean. Another was a tribute to the Golden Era of Hollywood. His ex-boyfriend had decided shabby chic for another part, whatever the fuck that meant.

People seemed to love it. This was the third year in a row he’d gotten some award for being a popular brunch place in DC.

I spotted him behind the bar on the first floor, and I walked past the hostess’s desk to get his attention.

Since he was one of the founders of our BDSM community, his attendance was required for today’s get-together.

“Mack,” I called.

He looked up from the wine bottle he was opening and flashed a grin. “Hey, I’ll be right there.”

He looked…happier. Good. His breakup this past spring had been pretty ugly.

When I met him almost nine years ago, I’d thought he would be one of those who dipped their toes into the kinky pond before hightailing it out of there. He’d just turned twenty-one, and he’d “read about BDSM” and proudly declared himself a switch. Interestingly enough, that was true to this day, and he was our community’s youngest founder.

He joined me shortly after and set my radar off when he walked close to me on the way up to the third floor and asked if River and I were seeing anyone.

“You know we’re not. Anything you wanna ask of us?”

He chuckled self-consciously, letting me know exactly what mind-set he was in, and diverted his gaze to the floor. Precious. It wasn’t as if Riv and I would turn him down. We’d played with Macklin before.

He failed to look casual. “I only wanna point out that it’s been a long time since we did any group play.”

I smirked and side-eyed him. “Set something up then, slut boy.”

He grinned back, a spark of excitement flashing in his dark eyes that I’d missed. “Okay, I will. I’ll check the schedule online tonight.”

“Sounds good.” I smacked his cheek lightly before I pushed open the door to the rooftop terrace.

The two long picnic tables were packed during munches, even leaving several attendees to utilize the bar tables along the brick wall framing the area. But today, it was only us eight founders, and Macklin already had his staff up here to serve drinks and snack platters.

Fuck, it was hot. The fabric ceiling did fuck-all to shut out the sun, and there wasn’t a hint of a breeze.

“There he is.” Colt nodded at me. Luke, his man, sat beside him, though he was busy on his phone.

I offered a two-finger salute to everyone as I took my seat next to my brother, and he gave my thigh a squeeze. I knew he didn’t like to face our friends without me.

Peering down the table, I did a quick headcount. Colt, Luke, Macklin, Greer, Penelope, Lucian. Everyone who’d been there eight years ago when Riv and I had started talking about forming this community.

“I take it you didn’t gather us here to discuss the next Game?” Luke asked.

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