Master Class (Master Class, #1)
Broadway darling Nicky Avery is a shooting star by night, but by day he bounces from one heartless one-night stand to the next. A quick flogging, a rough lay, a new whip-hand to manipulate—yet still he yearns for something he cannot even name.
He finds his first true hint of satisfaction in Devon Turner, a self-possessed film star and expert Dom. Devon knows what he wants the moment he sees it, and what he wants is Nicky Avery. Nicky’s never learned to trust and has a nasty habit of topping from the bottom, but he learns fast that in the bedroom, Devon won’t tolerate his actor’s masks.
Nicky's a broken boy, but Devon knows exactly how to put his new sub back together. With patience, care, and all the punishments his little pain slut can handle, Devon breaks Nicky down one scene at a time, revealing a mind that yearns to trust and a heart that hungers for the ecstasy of true submission at last.
Caution: The following details may be considered spoilerish.
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Even stars got star-struck, right? It was perfectly normal. Not embarrassing at all.
At least, that's what Nicky kept telling himself as he stared across the table at Devon fucking Turner, A-lister extraordinaire and, let's face it, hunk to beat all hunks.
And Dom to beat all subs, too. Nicky was certain of it. The way Devon met his eyes with such force across the candle-lit table that Nicky had to avert his gaze. The way he made Nicky feel like the only man in the room, naked at Devon's mercy despite the armor of his three-piece suit and the other six guests at the table, only two of whom he knew but all of whom, he was certain, could see right through his flustered, lust-sick stare.
Shit, he had to get out of here, get some air. Get his head back on his shoulders before it ended up, uninvited, in Devon's lap.
"Excuse me," he blurted, standing up from the table hard enough to skid his chair. He'd forgotten about the napkin in his lap; it swooshed to the floor as all eyes landed on him. Why had he tied his tie so tight? "I uh . . ." He pointed vaguely toward the area where he thought the restrooms were. "Excuse me."
He ran off before he could take stock of all the curious looks. Or, God help him, the knowing one—the absolute, bone-deep surety—of Devon Turner's.
He found the men's room without fuss and pushed through the door, just leaning for a moment on the other side remembering how to breathe. For Christ's sake, this was ridiculous. He performed in front of thousands eight times a week without the slightest trouble. What was his problem now?
He cast a glance at the empty urinals and realized he did kind of have to piss. Took care of it with trembling fingers and a visualization exercise or three to keep his Devon-induced erection at bay. Went to the sink to wash his hands and nearly jumped right out of his shoes when the bathroom door opened, and in strode the object of his fantasies.
This time, when Devon's eyes zeroed in on Nicky's, Nicky couldn't look away. Wanted to, didn't want to . . . didn't matter. Somehow, he couldn't move.
Devon stepped forward. Glided, more like—all grace and easy confidence—snatched up one of Nicky's wrists in a powerful hand and pulled him close. No words, which was probably for the best; Nicky doubted he'd have heard them anyway over his heart thudding in his ears or the Vader-esque rasping of his breath. Just a single silent look from Devon, long and piercing, more a statement than a question: Pay up, that look said. Make good on every single thing you haven’t been saying for the last hour. I know you. I see you. You see me too.
Yes. God yes.
Nicky didn’t struggle when Devon forced his still-dripping hand against his crotch, made him use his pants like a towel—an expensive, pinstriped, tenting towel. Thank God the restaurant was dimly lit; otherwise his erection would show across the room. So would the giant wet spot.
But that was all the thought he gave it as Devon twisted his wrist, forcing Nicky's fingers against his own straining cock. Still Devon watched him carefully, so, so carefully, looking for the argument, the repulsion, the horror. Not expecting to find it, but looking nonetheless. Being responsible.
Nicky ducked his head and thrust his hips forward. I want what you’ve got.
But Devon just yanked Nicky’s wrist out to the side and shoved him so hard into the sink that he only stayed (mostly) quiet because Devon slapped one giant paw over his mouth.
He was still breathing through the pain in his back when Devon pulled his hand away and mashed his lips to Nicky’s, biting until Nicky opened his mouth in another breathless yell—half surprise, half pain, half Oh my God I'm being kissed by Devon fucking Turner, and yes, he was perfectly aware that made three halves, thank you very much. Who could care about things like that anyway when Devon’s tongue was parting his lips, when their crotches were grinding together so sweetly that it took only moments before Nicky thought—with what little thought remained—that a water-wet crotch would soon be the least of his problems.
Until Devon stopped, ripping away and shoving Nicky two-handed to the floor.
But that was okay. Heck, more than okay. Nicky could play this game. He could play it very, very well.
He swallowed a moan and crawled toward Devon’s feet, head down, ass up, inviting—Take what you want, his body said. Beat me, fuck me; preferably both at once.
“When I’m good and ready, whore.” Devon stepped on Nicky’s outstretched hand and sneered down at him with positively withering contempt. Nicky’s cheeks burned as hot as the tender flesh beneath Devon’s heel, but he made no attempt to pull his hand back, to stand up, to take back the offer he’d made. He rather liked it down here, after all. Always had.
But Devon just ran a hand through his hair, straightened his tie, lifted his foot from Nicky’s hand, and left the bathroom without another word.
Nicky waited until the door had closed behind Devon before rising to his feet. What the fuck had just happened? If not for the pain in his back and hand, the wetness at his crotch, and the tingle at his lips, he might have doubted it had happened at all. Too good to be true. Too odd to be true.
Except for the part where it was.
Bracing his hands against the sink, he blinked into the mirror and tried to compose his face into some semblance of normalcy. He did that for a living, for fuck’s sake; why was it so hard now? Faucet. Cold water splashed on hot cheeks with shaking fingers. Towel dry.
His erection was slowly fading. God only knew how long he’d been staring through the mirror, what his friends must be thinking about his absence. He pulled away and forced his feet to carry him back into the dining room—back to his table, to Devon—trying to pretend he wasn’t spending every conscious second wondering how Devon’s cock would taste shoved down his throat.
From the front row of the empty theater, Nicky's director sighed loudly enough to carry past the mezzanine.
The stage manager, clearly bored with feeding Nicky lines, read in a monotone from the script in his lap. “And then he will say to them: Anything you did for one of your brothers here, however humble, you did for me.”
Nicky whispered it once to cement it in his brain, then repeated it aloud, eyes roving about his castmates pretending to be sheep on their hands and knees.
He’d not seen too many sheep floating around Manhattan, but he was pretty certain they didn’t usually look so pissy.
Of course, he was pretending to be Jesus, and he was pretty certain the son of God didn’t grind near-strangers in a men’s room and then spend the next day forgetting his lines.
His castmates baaah’d in unison. One dead beat followed. Then another. He was really starting to hate this scene.
Robin elbowed him in the shin. Shit, his line again? He pointed—stage right? No, stage left. “For when I was hungry—”
A-ha-ha, yeah, because that joke never gets old.
Nicky threw his director a sheepish (a-ha-ha) look and waited for the man to correct him.
“It’s ‘to the eternal fire, that has been ready for you with the devil and all his angels.’ Then ‘For when I was hungry, blah blah blah. Jesus, Nicky”—and clearly, no joke intended this time—“what’s gotten into you today?”
Nicky shrugged. “Sorry, boss. Not feeling very well.”
What a lying liar he was. And an idiot, too; here he was in the starring role of fucking Godspell, the fucking Broadway revival no less, and he couldn’t get his head out of his ass. Couldn’t stop thinking about dinner last night with his actor buddies and their actor buddies, about what it had been like to sit next to Mr. Devon Turner for an hour and a half.
About what had happened afterward.
“All right, you know what? Go home. Get some rest. Adam, get in there for him.”
His understudy peeled out of the house and up onto the stage in two seconds flat, and Nicky, relieved and not nearly as guilty as he knew he should be, offered apologies and a “See you tomorrow” to his castmates. A quick trip to his dressing room to change his clothes and wash the face paint off his right cheek, and then he’d be out of here. The faster he got home, the faster he could jerk off. Or not jerk off; he wondered how long he could deny himself tonight before going crazy, if he could manage to sleep without touching himself.
Without thinking of Devon.
He closed and locked his dressing room door, stripped off his Superman t-shirt, and stood in front of the mirror, twisting around with a hiss to examine the soreness at the small of his back. Shame there was no bruise. He pressed two fingers to the tender flesh and hissed again, smiling.
When I'm good and ready, whore, Devon had said. Threatened. Promised.
Hopefully he’d be ready soon. Still thinking of dinner (and dessert, definitely dessert), Nicky pulled on a t-shirt and a gray hoodie, jeans and sneakers, hung up his Superman tee, and left the dressing room, the strap of his courier bag slung right across the soreness Devon had caused.
His mind was turned so intently toward yesterday’s dinner, toward that moment of instant recognition—his “Domdar” pinging, Devon’s “subdar” clearly pinging just as loud—toward Devon’s laissez faire enjoyment of his food and his drink and all his company but Nicky, whom he’d ignored with such finesse after their encounter in the bathroom that Nicky wouldn’t even have noticed being ignored if he himself hadn’t been staring, fixated, at Devon’s hands, Devon’s mouth, the casual cruelty just beneath the surface of Devon’s boisterous, Ken-doll-handsome face . . .
So inward were his thoughts that when he walked past the last row of seats in the theater, he didn’t notice Devon.
A hand caught his wrist, squeezing hard, and his first thought was “Oh fuck, crazy fan.” Before he could wonder how said fan had gotten into the closed rehearsal, before he could even try to yank his arm away, a big body to match the big hand was pressing into his, lips touching his ear, warm breath whispering, “Not a sound, boy. Not one.” A thumb found its way into a pressure point on Nicky’s trapped wrist, just daring him to defy the order, but Nicky bit his lip and squeezed his eyes shut, held his breath and nodded.
“Macbeth ruins everything,” the whisper continued.
No shit. It was ridiculous to be so superstitious, but at the mention of that cursed play, he couldn’t help but cast a glance over his shoulder to make sure there wasn’t an electrical fire smoldering in the catwalk or an uncovered trap door on the stage.
“Say it, and it ends the night. ‘Macbeth.’ Understand?” The thumb dug deeper and Nicky choked off a grunt, nodded again, short and fast. “Say it now. Once. Practice.”
“Macbeth,” he whispered back, afraid if he spoke any louder, he’d shout, and the whole cast and crew would hear him. They already had enough reasons to be pissed at him.
Devon yanked Nicky out the auditorium, through the lobby, into the street. Hailing a cab in the Theater District was an art form, but people stopped for Devon Turner. Heck, some people even stopped for Nicky.
A car pulled over in seconds and Devon opened the door, dragged Nicky inside after him. “Manhattan Plaza, please,” Devon said to the driver as he fastened his seatbelt, never releasing his punishing hold on Nicky’s wrist.
Nicky didn’t bother wondering how Devon knew where he lived.
As the taxi merged into traffic, Devon leaned close and brushed his lips against Nicky’s ear. “I’m going to fuck you so raw your eyes will water every time you sit.” The words were harsh but the tone was a purr, a promise so hot Nicky’s breath caught. “Would you like that?”
No breath, no words. Nicky nodded instead.
“I’m going to make you scream. Not my name—just scream. Would you like that, too?”
Another breathless nod. He felt Devon’s lips curl into a smile against his earlobe, teeth latching on as Devon’s thumb, in perfect mirror, bit deep into Nicky’s wrist.
By the time they reached his apartment, Nicky was sweating and a little nauseous. The cab ride had been like every Manhattan cab ride, all sudden starts and stops and swerves and the vague stench of the thousands of asses that had warmed the backseat before him.
Devon’s grip hadn’t let up for a second, and the pain of that pressing thumb was deep, unrelenting, expanding with every passing moment until Nicky could think of nothing else—nothing but Devon, the power of the man, the power Nicky had granted him and just how, exactly, he planned to use it.
Devon is a true Dom - with a capital D! And he is falling for a sub who needs a little more than just the average TLC. [V]ery intriguing.
A provocative and scintillating exploration of the complex inner-workings of the Dom/sub relationship. Rachel Haimowitz has written a gritty and seductive story of lust and power, of the need to control and the need to be controlled, of the exchange of trust between two men who are drawn to each other through the intangible bond of Master and submissive.
[T]he writing is fabulous. The characters were engaging, deep, their relationship . . . intense. When I finished, I found myself sitting with a wide-eyed stare, stuck at . . . wow.
Sensual and breathtaking . . .
[B]eautiful, brilliant, and . . . deeply arousing.