Kelly Anderson, assistant to Anne Sutton, the club’s manager, was walking to work on a glorious Monday morning. It was cool under the dappled shade of the ancient live oak trees lining Fort King Street, and she wore a battered bomber jacket, confiscated from one of her several older brothers, over her casual work attire. Kelly usually walked or sometimes rode her bike to work since she lived in a small apartment on the top floor of one of the many converted Victorian homes in the Historic District not far from Le Club. After graduating from the University of Florida with a business degree, she had moved into her own apartment although she remained extremely close to her large family.
Kelly was tall and slender with large green eyes fringed with thick black lashes. She was twenty-six years old and had shoulder-length, straight, black hair cut in a swing style. Although employed at the very private and exclusive sex club for over a year, she had a conservative outlook and modest demeanor. While she was willing to “live and let live” and appreciated the really great, well-paying job at the club, she did not get this BDSM business at all. It was far too kinky for her taste. She would never consider anyone her “Master.” She would call the members “sir” or “mister,” but she wasn’t going to call them “Master.” And she wasn’t the least bit curious about this BDSM stuff. Having been raised in a traditional, middle-class home in the small central Florida town, her values and sexual orientation were more traditional, although sometimes she just had to chuckle at the outrageous attire of some of the members. The atmosphere of Le Club, however, was elegant and laid back. The club culture was not particularly extreme and non-participating employees were not made to feel uncomfortable. Kelly arrived at the tall, wooden, electronic gates of the walled, heavily wooded Laurel Oak Estate and entered her security code. The ten-foot stone wall which completely surrounded the property was topped with surveillance cameras and she always had the feeling that an Orwellian “Big Brother” was watching. As she entered the estate she gazed past the formal English gardens down the long, sloping expanse of lawn to her favorite view. She watched the black swans gliding on the tranquil pond.
The new member, Justin Devereau, was performing his morning ritual beside the pond. Kelly watched, spellbound, as she had every morning since Justin had arrived at Le Club. He was extremely graceful and elegant in a totally lethal way, and he moved like a dancer. He was tall and his body was sleek and well-muscled but without the bulkiness produced by weight training.
Kelly caught her breath. He was just gorgeous, but she was not comfortable with the butterflies he caused in her belly.
Justin was aware of Kelly standing at the top of the hill as he completed the Japanese katas, combat drills or forms. He performed these every morning in conjunction with the stylized sword training using the gleaming katana sword. The kata ritual helped Justin center himself and order his day. The ritual had a calming Zen-like effect on him and somehow helped to ease the grief and guilt he had been living with for eight months. He looked up the lawn and saw Kelly watching him. Now that is a beautiful woman. He bowed to her formally as he finished and sheathed his sword.
Justin’s practice of several disciplines of Japanese martial arts, including kendo, “the way of the sword,” and kyūdō, “the way of the bow,” dated back to his early teenage years, and he was now a master. But more important to him than the physical prowess inherent in the speed and power required to master the kata forms, was the kokoro, or “heart,” character, attitude and code of honor of the samurai way of life.
As he approached Kelly, he said, “Good morning, Ms. Anderson. Beautiful day isn’t it?”
“Please don’t let me interrupt your workout, Mr. Devereau.” Even wearing the loose-fitting, black pants and traditional gi, with his long, wavy, dark hair pulled back in a tail tied with a twist of leather, he had the powerful aura of a jungle cat. It was clear that this man could be very dangerous, although the glow in his brandy-colored eyes was warm and appealing. The perspiration in the dark hair arrowing down his chest and disappearing into the folds of the gi caught the sunlight. “No problem. I’m done for today. May I walk you back to the house? Have you had breakfast?”
“Thank you, but I’m a little late for work,” she fibbed. He could see that he made her a little nervous. Actually, he thought, he made her a lot nervous. He was aware that the testosterone-laden sexuality that rolled off him might be disconcerting to a less experienced woman.
“Then perhaps we can have dinner sometime. I’m new in town and at loose ends until my house is ready for occupancy. Calleigh Steele is overseeing the renovations at my new farm and I’m staying in the Ming Suite for a month or two.”
“Thank you, sir, but I don’t socialize with the members,” she replied with a tentative smile. Kelly didn’t want to offend him.
“I see,” he said. Justin found her very attractive in a fresh-faced, innocent way, though a little timid. I will have to ask Steele or Trent about her. She seems very nervous. He smiled. “Well, have a pleasant day. I have work at the farm that I need to see to.”