Dangerous Control(Dark Dominance Book Three)By: Annabel Joseph
Chapter One: Milo
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…”
That’s debatable, I thought, as I wove around my parents’ massive Christmas tree with a bottle of wine in my hand. Every year, they invited hundreds of celebrities and musicians to a holiday bash at their Chappaqua mansion, and hundreds of people showed up, crowding my parents’ second home. I’d hated these annual parties for as long as I could remember, but I’d never missed one. I was giving up a Saturday evening at The Gallery to be here. That was love.
And I loved my parents. Since my brother died of a respiratory illness in our childhood, I’d been their model son, trying to fill the hole my twin had left. Well, most of the time I was their model son. On Saturday nights, I was more of a demon, making my salacious rounds at The Gallery, a BDSM club for those who enjoyed the more serious side of dominance and submission.
That was my friend Devin using my full name to irritate me. I turned to find him hand in hand with his girlfriend Ella. Fort and Juliet were there too. My two best friends had both settled down into relationships in the same year-and-a-half period. Great for them, not so fun for me.
“Who invited you guys?” I joked as I joined their circle.
“Hey, you got me something. Thanks.” Fort lifted the bottle of thousand-dollar Bordeaux from my hand, then promptly handed it back. “Too rich for my tastes, especially since I’m already drunk.”
“There’s champagne going around.” Ella lifted a half-empty glass of bubbly. “Your parents’ house is crazy, by the way.”
“It’s a nice place,” I said, an understatement. It was embarrassingly ostentatious, almost as bad as their sprawling estate in Italy, but my friends seemed to be enjoying the party. I wished I were as drunk and happy as they were.
“How’ve you been, Milo?” asked Juliet. “You’ve seemed…busy.”
“Well, ’tis the season. A lot of people are hoping for violins under the tree.”
“Santa’s violin elf has been in his workshop.” Devin cracked a smile. “Except on Saturday nights. I hear you haven’t missed a night at The Gallery in a while.”
Ella nudged him. “Shh, people will overhear.”
He waved off her concern. “This hoity-toity crowd will assume I’m talking about an art gallery. No offense,” he said to Juliet, who worked for an artist-photographer.
“No offense taken,” she chirped.
Yeah, they were all drunk. I was about an hour behind, since I’d stopped off for the wine. “I’ve been to The Gallery every Saturday since…” Since you guys found love and happiness.
“Since forever,” Fort said, slapping me on the back. “Good for you. We’ll get back there one of these days.”
Maybe they would, to visit, but they weren’t regulars anymore. The occasional drop-in was enough for them, because they were living together, spending time in their home dungeons. No uniforms required, no papers to sign. And I was at The Gallery every single fucking Saturday, because…
Because it was my club, my concept, a place I’d helped build from the ground up. Because I was looking for a new sub, someone to replace my most recent partner, who’d caused too much drama. Because it gave me a safe venue to unleash my sadistic side, and watch others doing the same.
But not tonight, because I was a good son and it was Christmas party weekend. I said goodbye to my friends and wove through crowds of smiling people until I found my parents in a corner of the dining room. They stuck together at these parties, because they were one of those old-fashioned couples who actually loved each other.
“Massimiliano!” My full name was called for the second time, this time by my mother. It wasn’t that I didn’t like my name, it was just that it had too many syllables for the average non-Italian to pronounce. She hugged me, bottle of wine and all, then passed me over to my father.
“We’re so glad you’re here,” he said, pulling away. “What have you got there?”
I handed over the wine, embellished with a velvet bow. “Merry Christmas, Pop. Thought you could use this in the wine cellar.”