“They’re untouchable, Jack.”
Jack loosened his tie, trying not to stare, obviously love-struck, as Phryne unselfconsciously stepped out of her black and white embroidered silk dress and draped it casually over the chair.
“No one’s above the law,” he felt compelled to argue. Though given the amused glance Phryne threw over her shoulder as she moved towards the bed, she was quite aware that he knew that it wasn’t true.
“You know very well that if you go stomping into Town Hall in your big policeman boots, they’ll have you out on your ear before you can say Jack Robinson,’ she said, grinning cheekily.
“Give me credit for some discretion,” he grumbled.
“Jack, you know I think you’re an excellent policeman—”
“Do I?” Jack couldn’t help asking. Phryne smiled sunnily at him.
“—but no one’s going to talk and you know it. No, the best way to find our blackmailer is to get him to come to us.”
“Assuming he even thinks we’re worth the effort.”
“The whole town knows you’re the most honest, upstanding member of the Victoria Police Force. I am certain that the merest hint of your having a secret that someone might hold over you in exchange for favours would be simply irresistible.”
It was worth a try. The recent mysterious suicide of the member for Ballarat, closely following a scandal involving the circulation of photographs of a fire-and-brimstone archbishop posing in leather and chains, and there were whispers of a blackmail ring with influential victims, but no one was talking. Phryne, of course, knew someone who knew someone and had wangled an invitation to the sort of club of which Jack, in his position as an officer of the law, would never have got within a stone’s throw.
“Let’s hope you’re right,” Jack said, following her into bed. He slid into her welcoming arms, savouring the press of naked skin on naked skin, the press of her lovely breasts against his chest, the way he slid between her thighs as she wrapped her legs around his hips and pulled him down to kiss her.
“I don’t see why I have to be the ‘submissive’, though,” he grumbled as he kissed her neck, her body arching into his as she sighed and tilted her head to give him better access.
“Well, to be honest, I thought it’d be more believable.” Before Jack could gather his thoughts to take offence, the world tilted and he found himself flat on his back. Phryne was straddling him, her hands pinning his wrists to the bed beside his head with her weight behind them. “But if you’d rather the other way around...” she said, sounding doubtful.
She leant down and kissed him hard, then took his bottom lip between her teeth and bit down gently. Phryne sat up again, staring down at him, her dark hair falling around her face, but not obscuring the challenge in her eyes. Jack was fairly sure he could break her hold without too much effort if he wanted to, but he was so aroused he was dizzy. He couldn’t seem to summon the willpower to refute her assumption—not when his cock was straining against his belly and he was holding his breath in anticipation of what she would do next. Jack recognised that determined expression from working cases together: Phryne had a plan.
Apparently satisfied that Jack wasn’t going to move, Phryne smiled and leaned down to kiss him lingeringly. Jack kissed her back, desperate for more contact. He hadn’t even realised she’d released his wrists, or indeed what she was doing until he felt something close around his wrists and heard the snap of a lock. He tugged instinctively at the restraint, but it held fast. He twisted to look behind him, confirming that he was indeed handcuffed to the bedpost. He supposed he should be grateful that the cuffs were at least leather-covered. He glared at Phryne, who was sitting up now, her bottom resting on his thighs, his cock pushing against her most intimate part. Jack’s instinctive refusal died unspoken, because Phryne was looking at him patiently, waiting for his decision. It was up to him. Jack stared up at her, marvelling anew that they’d made it here, that this gorgeous woman had chosen him. He closed his eyes for a moment, flexing his hands into fists, and then deliberately releasing them.
She murmured, “That’s it, that’s good, darling,” and Jack let himself bask in the glow of her approval as Phryne had her wicked way with him.
His reputation was ruined, he knew it. It was all very well for Phryne to claim that no word of the goings-on at these weekends in the country ever reached Melbourne, but he wasn’t at all reassured by the sometimes sly, sometimes amused glances the other guests had afforded them upon their arrival.
The Honourable Miss Phryne Fisher, sweetheart of Melbourne society, was no doubt an exciting new addition to this secret ‘club,’ and Jack couldn’t help but wonder at the almost complete lack of surprise exhibited by those to whom they were introduced. Was it just manners, or was she more familiar with this milieu than she had seen fit to inform him?
Jack blinked, his eyes automatically averting themselves before he forced himself to watch as Phryne insouciantly unpacked the contents of the smaller of her travel cases into the drawers of the bedside table.
“I’m going to regret asking, aren’t I?”
“Oh, just a few items I picked up in a little place in Carlton that caters to a very exclusive clientele,” Phryne said airily, pointing a tasselled leather crop at him teasingly.
Jack stared at the crop. “Should I be worried?” He should be worried, he thought, not experiencing an illicit leap of excitement in the pit of his stomach.
“Just for verisimilitude, darling,” Phryne reassured him, sliding the drawer closed on the crop and other items, not all of which he recognised. She patted the spot beside her and Jack joined her on the bed. “I’d be very surprised if our belongings aren’t searched once we’re safely out of the room,” she murmured, kissing his ear. “The people who run this little club are very thorough at vetting new ‘guests.’”
They’d judged it unlikely that they’d be spied upon in their room, at least not yet, as no one should have been aware of their identities prior to their arrival. But it was possible that the blackmailers were already in place; presumably, they had a sophisticated operation, given the exclusivity of the clubs and the identities of the victims.
“So, what now?” Jack murmured back, kissing her throat. He hated to admit it, but he was completely out of his depth. Phryne had assured him that, while no expert, she was well versed enough in the ways of these clubs to ensure that they wouldn’t attract attention. He’d certainly felt like they were attracting attention on their arrival today, when Phryne had swept in to the country house as if she owned it, and proceeded to introduce herself to the other guests. Jack had followed her strict instructions to remain at her shoulder and not make eye contact with anyone, but he’d found it hard at times to maintain his cover. Not making eye contact had not been a problem. Jack had believed his association with Phryne had cured him of his instinct to blush, but it hadn’t prepared him for this. He’d known, vaguely, that such things went on, he was a man of the world after all, but he found the sight of scantily clad people—in various assortment of leathers and chains—disconcerting.
Apparently the master/slave relationships weren’t confined to the bedrooms at these events. Jack had watched out of the corner of his eye as a young woman wearing only a wisp of silk and a jewelled collar approached a portly moustachioed gentleman that Jack recognised as a prominent alderman. She knelt before him gracefully, her head lowered submissively, her dark hair falling over her face, and raised the drinks tray she was carrying. The alderman helped himself to a drink and gestured to his conversational partner, who also took a drink. Neither of them thanked her, but after a few moments her master touched her lightly on the hair. The girl rose, head still bowed, and backed away for several paces before turning away. Jack had noted the way the alderman watched her leave, a satisfied, possessive expression on his face. He’d wondered if he’d be required to serve Phryne in that manner, and if she’d look at him that way. The idea had shivered through him.
“It’s nearly time to go down for dinner,” Phryne said, withdrawing a flimsy black scrap of silk from her case and holding it up, dangling from a finger. “I feel a change of attire is in order.” Jack didn’t think he’d ever seen a smile that wicked on her face before and it slowly dawned on him that she didn’t mean her.
“Oh, hell no,” he said emphatically.
Phryne just smiled at him.
“Of course you can, Jack. You’re my brave little soldier.”
“Phryne,” Jack said reprovingly.
“I’m sorry, Jack, but it’s basic submissive attire. I didn’t have time to arrange a more elaborate costume.”
What a horrifying thought. “I suppose I should be thankful for that,” he grumbled.
Phryne opened her eyes wide, in her best fake innocent expression.
“Try it on?” she wheedled. “For me?”
Jack glared at her, and then smiled, reluctantly. He never could say no to her.
Reluctantly, he got up and took off his suit. He hung it up neatly in the wardrobe and then slowly took off his shirt and underthings. He slid on the silk briefs. They felt odd. Not unpleasant at all. In fact...he glanced up and saw Phryne, reclining on the bed, watching him avidly.
“I’m naked,” Jack said plaintively. He couldn’t go out in public like this. It wasn’t decent.
Phryne held out her arms and he came and lay down with her. Her hands traced over his back and shoulders soothingly. “No matter,” she murmured. “I will simply tell people that I am very possessive of you and can’t bear others' eyes on you.”
“But it might arouse suspicion?”
“Darling, I can be very convincing.”
Jack sighed, looking down at his unclad state. “Don’t I know it?”
Phryne smiled impishly. Her fingers trailed down his stomach, leaving a trail of heat.
“I’ll do it,” he said resignedly. He shook his head. “But I do look ridiculous.”
“You look absolutely divine,” she said admiringly, and grasped him through the silk. Jack’s cock started to swell in her hand. “But I think you should take them off.”
“I just put them on,” Jack teased. If Phryne liked how he looked wearing them, who was he to argue?
“And we don’t want to ruin them before I’ve even shown you off in them, do we?” Phryne said, fondling him. He was tempted to let her keep going, the feel of the silk against him was provocative, but Phryne was right, so he rolled to the side to slide them off again and then rolled back on top of her. Phryne wrapped her legs around him and pulled him closer. She was wet already and his cock pushed easily into her.
“Did watching me get changed excite you?” he asked in awe.
“Mmm,” she hummed in agreement. “Watching you transform from the respectable and slightly stuffy Inspector Jack Robinson into my very own plaything, it’s very stimulating.”
“Your plaything,” Jack repeated, letting the idea sink in as they moved easily together.
“I can do anything I like to you.”
The thought of it sent a rush of arousal straight to his groin, and he raised himself on his elbows and knees and thrust harder. Phryne moved with him, staring up at him. He held her eyes, willing her to understand just how much the idea appealed.
Afterwards, she lay in his arms, idly stroking his shoulder. Jack savoured the moment; he knew it wouldn’t last long. Sure enough, before long Phryne sat up and swung her legs over the edge of the bed. “We shouldn’t miss dinner,” she said.
“I suppose not,” Jack said, not moving.
Phryne looked down at him, her lips pursed musingly. “One final touch, I think.”
Phryne reached into the drawer and withdrew a slim, silver circlet with elegant swirls etched into it. It was elegant-looking, masculine.
“It’s a collar, darling. A very discreet collar that sits at the base of the throat under the shirt collar. The type of collar that someone such as a policeman might wear on a daily basis, with none but his Mistress the wiser.”
Jack’s heart thudded in his chest. “Phryne,” he whispered, clenching his fists against a sudden intense urge to reach out, just to see what it felt like.
“It’s just for the weekend, Jack.” He watched as she took in his reaction. Her expression took on an intrigued cast. “On the other hand,” she mused, leaning down to kiss him lingeringly. “This is definitely something we could discuss for the future.”
Dinner had been tolerable. He’d been hideously self-conscious at first. Despite the presence of a number of other, infinitely more attractive people, just as naked as himself, he’d felt like all eyes were on him. He’d had to focus on following the others’ lead on how to behave as he waited on Phryne though, and after a while he realised that while he did receive the occasional appreciative once-over from a guest at the table, he was really just part of the scenery. That revelation had enabled him to relax somewhat, but he’d been grateful when Phryne had indicated a place beside her, and without thinking about it too deeply he’d sunk to his knees, resting back on his heels as he’d seen others do.
He’d expected to be ignored then, and have time to regroup, get a grip on the unfamiliar emotions troubling him—embarrassment, certainly, but also an odd feeling that took him a while to realise was joy. It confused him. But then Phryne held a piece of asparagus, dripping in hollandaise sauce, to his lips and he’d opened his mouth, holding her eyes as she slid it between his lips, watching her expression soften into something he thought was pride. He expected her to withdraw her fingers, and only realised after a brief, breathless moment, what she expected, and with a groan, he suckled on her fingers, licking the sauce from them. “Good boy,” Phryne said.
Jack lowered his eyes. “Thank you, Miss Fisher,” he murmured, and waited, breathless with anticipation, to be fed again.
After dinner the guests had adjourned to a room set up as a home movie theatre with comfortable-looking chairs facing the screen. Phryne had immediately curled up on a divan along the side wall and indicated to Jack to take his place at her feet. Now she was running her fingers through his hair. Jack focussed on the feel of her short nails scratching lightly against his scalp and the coarse weave of the rug under his thighs. He needed the sensations to anchor him, he decided, to distract him from the obscene images flickering silently in front of his eyes. He couldn’t look away, but he couldn’t bear to keep watching and he hadn’t ever considered…hadn’t even known it was something that people did. Of course he’d seen the... device… in Phryne’s travel case, but he hadn’t asked, he’d thought of her friend Mac, assumed… he’d turned his thoughts away, it didn’t do to dwell on thoughts of Phryne’s previous lovers. But now, this wasn’t a woman playing the man for another woman. The woman with the phallus strapped to her was enthusiastically buggering the hell out of an ordinary-looking man on all fours on the bed, not a nancy, but a bloke you wouldn’t look twice at in the street, a bloke who was panting and grimacing and now spurting his seed on to the sheets below him without even a helping hand on his cock. The woman released her grip on his hips and pulled back, the phallus bobbing in front of her as she gave the man a hearty slap on his bum. The man collapsed on to the bed.
It was only when her grip tightened, but not quite painfully that Jack realised Phryne had stopped stroking his hair and had clenched strands in her fist. Jolted back to the moment Jack let out the breath he hadn’t realised he was holding, taking a deep gasps of air to ease the tightness in his chest. He was hard, his cock straining against his silk briefs, in a way that made him grateful for the dimness of the room, the indistinctness of the other people around them watching the film. He could hear muffled sounds that he didn’t want to identify.
There was a light tug on his hair and Jack tipped his head back against Phryne’s knee, straining to make out the expression on her face in the flickering light from the screen. “Really, Jack?” Phryne purred, sounding intrigued, and Jack realised that Phryne had picked up on his reaction, had him all figured out. He shouldn’t be surprised, Phryne had always been so attuned to him, his thoughts, his moods, it was the reason he’d found himself allowing her to inveigle her way into his cases, almost from the start, when it sometimes seemed like she was reading his mind.
Jack’s cheeks burned, and he was glad again for the dimness, but then Phryne’s hand tightened again in his hair and she bent forward over him, her other hand stroking down his hot cheek and he knew he hadn’t any secrets from her. But there were no inhibitions in Phryne, no judgement. Jack loved that about her. Jack shuddered under her, his eyes trapped by hers, so close, and he saw her eyes widen at his reaction. Her eyes flickered away, around the room, and for a moment Jack thought she was going to get up, take him away, do unspeakable things to him, but then she closed her eyes for a long moment, then opened them again and murmured, “Later, darling,” and she sat back, her hands falling away from his head to rest, lightly clasped in her lap, staring, for all intents and purposes, back at the film.
On the screen the phallus had disappeared and the man’s head was between the woman’s legs as she sat sprawled against the pillows, smoking a cigarette. The woman reminded him of Phryne, despite the dissimilarity of their appearances; it was the supremely confident attitude, the lack of inhibition, the power of her sexuality. That power, that confidence, it was… alluring.
Phryne was removing her earrings at the ornately carved dressing table. Jack hesitated by the bed. He’d brought pyjamas, of course, though he rarely kept them on long around Phryne. He could put them on now. Or he could take off the briefs and the collar and get into bed naked, as was their usual habit when Jack stayed the night.
He squared his shoulders determinedly and knelt, eyes downcast, vaguely registering the rich red tones of the Persian rug before him.
The atmosphere was stiflingly silent. He heard a distant, muffled laugh from another room, and quiet clattering sounds of Phryne putting away her jewellery pieces. Then a tiny sound, perhaps an indrawn breath, but Jack didn’t look up. He stared at his hands resting flat on his thighs and had to resist the urge to fidget.
Then the fragrance of violets and Phryne sinking to sit down on the bed beside him.
“Jack,” Phryne said, softly. “Tell me what you want.”
Jack shook his head, willing her to understand. He couldn’t say the words. Not out loud. That would make it real. And this wasn’t real, this weekend. This was fantasy, he’d decided.
“Can you show me?” she said, gently. Jack had never been more grateful for Phryne’s perspicacity. He shuffled to face her and placed his hands on her knees. Phryne didn’t move. Waiting to see what he’d do. Slowly he slid them up her stockinged thighs, then waited, eyes still lowered.
Phryne’s legs parted. Jack breathed softly, he couldn’t move, willing her to understand that. After a moment Phryne leant forward, and with the tips of fingers under his chin, gently urged him to look up. He met her eyes and the understanding he read there brought a sudden lump to his throat. Her fingers slid to the back of his neck and cupped his nape, gently urging him forward. Jack went willingly, gratefully, placing a row of kisses from her knee, moving inward, pausing when he reached the edge of her stocking. He thought Phryne was probably expecting him to remove her stockings, they’d played that game before, but that wasn’t what he wanted. He placed another, longer kiss on her bare thigh, and then another, higher. Phryne murmured something, he wasn’t sure what, only that the tone was approving, and kissed higher still. The musk of her reached his nose and he inhaled deeply as he placed a reverent kiss on the heart of her, damp and hot beneath flimsy lace.
He felt Phryne’s hand on the back of his head, gentle but insistent, and was aware that he was hard, but the desire wasn’t urgent, it didn’t feel like it would ever be urgent, he was focussed only on pleasing her, and with a sense of profound contentment settling around him, slid her fancy knickers down her legs, then bent again to task of pleasuring Miss Fisher.
He wasn’t sure what had woken him, some tiny sound, a movement of air, a sensation of being watched. The war had trained him to sleep lightly and he’d never been able to lose the habit. It was one Phryne shared, though he found he slept more soundly in her arms, and he thought she did too. Phryne’s stomach muscles were tense under his cheek. He stretched slightly, as if in his sleep, and her hand curled at the nape of his neck flexed, a warning.
There, by the window. Jack gathered himself to vault from the bed. Under him, he felt Phryne stretch, in the dimness one pale arm reached as if randomly in the direction of the bedside table. She tapped him on the shoulder once, and Jack moved, fast, sliding off the bed towards the window as the lamp clicked on, blinking rapidly as his eyes adjusted. He grabbed at the indistinct shape on the window sill, dodging away from the blow to the head that he felt more than saw, and got a solid grip on a surprisingly thin arm. He let his weight drag them both to the floor, and rolled on top of the other person, who was trying to kick and claw at him. Jack defended himself best he could, trying to hold the figure down, something about the smallness of the person, the softness under him, told him that the figure wasn’t really a threat. “Quit it,” he said, exasperatedly, only to take a flailing blow to the eye, which bloody well hurt. He drew his fist back to punch them, just to get them to stop.
“Jack, no,” Phryne said, grasping his raised wrist, and Jack looked at the intruder’s face properly for the first time, at the dark wisps of hair escaping from the beanie, at the mutinous expression on the girl’s face, which didn’t really cover the fear she was feeling. It was the girl from the first morning…the alderman’s slave. There wasn’t anything seductive or submissive about her now. She was glaring from one to the other of them, still attempting to pull her wrists from Jack’s grasp.
“Let me go,” the girl demanded, still tugging. Jack’s grip was tight; it had to be hurting her, wrenching her wrists like that. But it was the fear in her eyes that made him release her. Phryne was blocking the door, and she’d have to get past him to go through the window. He wouldn’t have considered that an option, seeing as they were on the second floor, but given that it seemed to have been her preferred method of escape in the first place, he wasn’t taking any chances.
The girl scrambled away from him as soon as he let go, but didn’t try to run. She crouched on the floor looking wildly from him to Phryne and back again.
Now that the immediate threat was over, it dawned on Jack that neither he nor Phryne were wearing any clothes, and he had to resist an urge to make an undignified grab for his pants. Not that either Phryne or the girl seemed the slightest bit fazed by the fact that two out of three people in the room were stark naked. He wished he could be that blasé about it. Phryne drifted over to the end of the bed, not taking her eyes from the girl, and retrieved the silk dressing gown she’d left draped over the bedpost. She slipped it on and then glanced at Jack, no doubt somewhat amused by his discomfort. If she was, though, she was kind enough not to show it.
“Why don’t you get dressed, Jack?” she suggested. “Our desperate criminal isn’t going anywhere.”
“How can you be sure?” Jack asked, but after all this time he trusted Phryne’s unerring ability to quickly size up a person’s character, so he went over the wardrobe and donned the suit he’d been wearing when he arrived. For a moment it felt oddly unreal, as though the suit was a costume he was putting on, constricting him.
Phryne leant out of the window, looking down and then up, craning her upper body out at an angle that made Jack’s heart leap into his throat, but he knew better than to say anything. “Because of this,” Phryne said, reappearing, and hauled on a strap he could see now had been attached to the window latch. Over the edge appeared a device, smaller than ones he’d seen, but unmistakeably a camera. “Without doubt, we’ve caught our blackmailer.”
“Working alone, do you think?” Jack suggested doubtfully. The girl didn’t seem very old, dressed now in tight black trousers and a skivvy, her face scrubbed of make-up. He’d be surprised if she was a day over twenty.
“My guess is, her alderman put her up to it,” Phryne said, eyeing the girl narrowly. “Is that how it is, Betty? You take the photographs; McCain puts the squeeze on the victims?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” the girl said sullenly. “I never seen that before in my life.”
“Come now, girl,” Jack said, sighing. “Your fingerprints will be all over it.”
The girl didn’t look up from the floor.
Phryne was studying the girl. “Jack?” Phryne said. “Call Hugh, arrange for Betty to be picked up, explain the situation to our hosts. I’ll pack our things and have a chat with Betty.” She didn’t sound like she was making suggestions. She sounded like she was giving him orders.
There was something here he was missing. Phryne was giving him a meaningful look, her eyes intent. Jack recognised his cue, so he went to arrange their departure. He informed the hosts that he’d been called back to town on urgent business and arranged for the car to be brought around to the front door. When he got back the girl was sitting on the divan, sipping at a cup of tea, biscuits on a plate beside her. He noticed she still wasn’t looking at him directly, but was keeping an eye on him from the corner of her eyes.
On top of the neatly packed clothes in Phryne’s suitcase there was a set of photographic plates.
Jack followed Phryne into the bathroom as she checked to make sure they hadn’t forgotten anything. “Well?” he asked, quietly.
“I get the impression she hasn’t been treated well by the men in her life. I hoped that with you out of the way, if I made it clear I really am your Mistress, she might be willing to open up to me.”
“And did she?”
“Oh, yes,” Phryne said, smiling smugly as she leant up to press a kiss to his lips.
“Face it, Jack. She won’t testify,” Phryne said, handing Jack a cocktail glass with a suspiciously greenish liquid in it and settling on to the love seat beside him. She caught his expression. “Oh, Jack, where’s your sense of adventure?”
“It’s taking a break. It’s exhausted after its weekend in the country.”
“Fair enough,” Phryne agreed, and reached for his glass, no doubt to replace it with something less exotic. Jack held it away from her, and took a sip. It was rum, sugar, lime and…mint? The taste caught on his tongue. “Refreshing,” he commented, catching Phryne’s expectant look, smiling at her.
Phryne stretched out so that her bare feet rested in his lap. He curled his free hand around one foot, giving it a gentle rub. Phryne wriggled her toes encouragingly.
“She’s looking at a long time in prison,” he said, after they’d sat in silence for a minute, sipping their cocktails. “Are you sure you can’t convince her to change her mind?”
“I tried. The fact is, her mother struggles to support eight kids working as a maid, but she has a bad back and is often laid up. The father took off years ago, and it’s up to Betty to provide for them. That’s how McCain found her in the first place. Caught her burgling his town house. Instead of calling the police he propositioned her—told her he had a better use for her talents.”
“What about their… relationship?” Jack asked, hoping for the girl’s sake that blackmail was all McCain was guilty of.
“She says he didn’t force her, that it was all for show,” Phryne said. “I believe her.”
“Thank God for small mercies,” Jack said. “She’s loyal to him, then?”
“She keeps her mouth shut, does the prison time and her family will be provided for. It’s actually the best deal she’ll get.”
He didn’t like it, but Jack understood it. “Meanwhile, the real criminal escapes justice.”
Phryne shrugged one shoulder. “Yes and no,” she said.
“The word’s out among those in the know. McCain will be blacklisted in every club, every group that caters to individuals with his particular proclivities. He won’t be able to ruin anyone else’s life.”
“It’s not right that he’s got away with it,” Jack said, tossing back the rest of the cocktail. He felt like they’d failed.
“For now, Jack,” Phryne said. “His cronies have protected him thus far, but I’m betting he’s all out of favours.” She got up and refilled their glasses, then curled into him again. “You’ve got your eye on him now, and if he puts a foot wrong, you’ll get him.” She rested her head on his shoulder. Jack loved it when she did that, it roused his protective instincts. “I feel sorry for Betty.”
“The girl’s not an innocent, Phryne. She’s a thief who chose to get involved with McCain’s scheme.”
Poor choice of words. Jack stroked her foot apologetically.
“I can’t help thinking, there but by the grace of God…” Phryne said musingly.
“You’re not like her. You wouldn’t—”
Phryne raised her head and regarded him quizzically as she sipped her drink. Jack thought about the flagrant way Phryne oh so innocently, in the name of justice, ignored and flouted the law whenever it suited her. Still, it wasn’t the same thing, he told himself. He almost believed it.
“Desperate people make bad choices, Jack. And sometimes there is no choice.”
“I don’t agree. There are many people doing it hard, most of them don’t turn to crime.”
Phryne looked like she was prepared to argue the point, but then she yawned widely. “Bed?”
It was late and they were both tired from the excitement of the evening. The invitation to sleep wrapped in Phryne’s arms was irresistible.
“Betty gave me the plates,” Phryne said, as they got under the covers. “She didn’t have to do that. She risked McCain going back on their deal.”
“Maybe she has a conscience after all,” said Jack.
“Trying to atone a bit, I think,” Phryne said, turning on to her side away from him. Jack slid a tentative arm around her, not completely sure of her mood, but she immediately hugged his arm to her chest and sighed. Jack felt his heart turn over in his chest and he snuggled closer, so that their bodies were touching as much as possible, resting his cheek against her hair. He lay there, listening as her breathing evened out, trying and failing to imagine wanting to be anywhere else, ever again, until he drifted off to sleep himself.
Jack opened the bedside table drawer to put away his badge and wallet, as had become his custom. He’d stayed over often enough now that Phryne had declared one half of the drawer ‘his.’ Jack had joked that he felt honoured, kept it light, but he thought that for Phryne, it was tantamount to declaration of commitment. It was…reassuring.
He froze, and then numbly put the badge and wallet on the top of the table. He’d assumed Phryne had destroyed them all, weeks ago. He hadn’t asked, and she hadn’t mentioned their existence again. She must have destroyed all the other plates but not the ones of them. Him.
Jack reached out and slowly withdrew the photographs.
Him, standing behind and to the side of Miss Fisher, naked but for the tight silk briefs and silver collar, eyes downcast as she chatted to another woman. Miss Fisher had been tapping the crop lightly against her leg as she conversed. Jack hadn’t been able to take his eyes off it, his face hot, confused by his desire for Miss Fisher to do… something… with the crop, to him. He remembered standing there. Wanting. Just not knowing what he wanted.
Jack sank down to sit on the bed. Slowly, he set aside the photograph and looked at the next. Him, kneeling beside Miss Fisher at the dinner table. Opening his mouth for the strawberry she was holding out. He hadn’t realised he’d closed his eyes. His expression was serene.
In the last one he was kneeling on the oriental rug at Miss Fisher’s feet in the theatre room. It was obviously just after the film reel had been shown, when the lights had been restored, before Miss Fisher got up to leave. His erection was clearly outlined in his briefs, and he was leaning his head against her thigh, looking up at her adoringly. For a moment, Jack was back there, overwhelmed by the intensity of his feeling. It was all there, caught on photographic paper. No wonder people paid through the nose to stop those photographs being made public.
He didn’t know how long he sat there. He hadn’t really allowed himself to think too deeply about that weekend over a month ago, the things he’d done with Phryne. For Miss Fisher. He had told himself it was for the case, that it didn’t matter that he’d liked the things they did. They’d go back to normal—put it behind them. He was still the same man he’d always been.
Phryne didn’t seem to think that there was anything abnormal about different sexual desires. Then again, Phryne was remarkably liberated in all things to do with the bedroom. Jack’s lips twisted in a wry smile. He’d been more than happy to follow Phryne’s lead before that case had taken them to more extreme lengths. He trusted Phryne. He trusted Phryne with everything. Including himself.
He heard the door open, but didn’t raise his eyes. He imagined Phryne’s eyes taking in the photograph lying on the bedside table, the item from her special box lying beside it. The collar.
It weighed almost nothing, and sat comfortably at the base of his throat. Just fitted enough that he was aware of its presence, but not tight enough to chafe or restrict his breathing. Yet he was aware of a weight—of expectation, anticipation—and he made himself breathe in and out, deep even breaths.
He hadn’t bothered with the briefs. Goosebumps prickled over the skin of his arms, his legs. He was very aware of the feel of the plush rug under his knees, more comfortable than the Persian rug at the country house, he thought he could kneel here for hours, if that’s what Miss Fisher desired. The thought that she might require that of him…
Miss Fisher was moving around the room, there were rustling sounds, the slide of drawers and other tiny bedtime ritual noises. Then her presence beside him, standing beside the bedside table. He could just see her stockinged ankles in his line of vision.
“Jack, pet,” Miss Fisher said, her voice a caress, “look at me.”
Jack raised his eyes. His Mistress was naked but for her stocking and garters. She was holding out the item. For a moment he was confused. It was for her, wasn’t it? He looked up at her questioningly. Her eyes were kind. She was waiting for him to—oh.
There was a fine tremor in his fingers as he took it from her, slid his hands along the leather straps, undid the buckles. Miss Fisher waited patiently. When he was confident he understood how it fastened he shuffled forward on his knees so that he could reach around her, and carefully arranged the item so that the straps sat comfortably around her thighs and hips. The phallus bobbed in front of his face. He couldn’t quite bring himself to look at it closely, but noted with just a tiny amount of relief that it was significantly smaller than the one in the film.
Once he was satisfied that it was positioned and fastened correctly, Jack sat back on his heels again, eyes downcast, waiting for Miss Fisher’s instructions, his heart pounding and his hands clenched to stop them shaking. Would she order him onto his knees immediately? Fuck him hard like the woman in the film had that other man? The thought of it was a bit unnerving. He couldn’t imagine that it wouldn’t hurt, even though the man in the film had appeared to feel no pain. Or perhaps the pain had made it more pleasurable. The not knowing was exciting; his cock was stirring and they hadn’t even started.
“Lie down on the bed, pet,” Miss Fisher said.
Jack turned and crawled on to the bed, face down. Should he spread his legs?
Jack turned over, wondering. Did she plan to…face to face…how would that work?
Miss Fisher took a small bottle from the drawer and slid on to the bed, settling herself across his thighs so that she rested on his cock, half hard and filling rapidly at the unexpected feel of leather against his groin. “Hold out your hand,” she instructed.
Jack held out his hand. Miss Fisher poured oil into his palm and looked at him expectantly. His mouth was dry. Jack swallowed convulsively, keenly aware for a moment of the collar against his throat. He reached forward, and for the first time in his life touched a penis not his own. The fact that it wasn’t real, wasn’t attached to another man, didn’t seem to lessen the taboo feeling. Jack was shocked at his own actions. But the heat in his groin and the hardness of his own cock were telling. He smoothed the oil over the phallus, making sure it was completely covered and then, holding Miss Fisher’s expectant gaze, deliberately jacked it, as though he were pleasuring himself…or someone else. Miss Fisher’s gaze turned approving, and Jack thought that he detected surprise as well. The thought that he might have impressed her heightened his own pleasure, made him feel proud that he’d pleased her.
Miss Fisher slid off him and settled herself comfortably against the pillows, sitting up as though she were about to have breakfast in bed served to her. She reached for the bottle of oil again.
“On all fours,” she said and Jack realised what she meant—what she meant to do to him—and his breath escaped him in an inadvertent moan. Miss Fisher smiled approvingly again. Jack scrambled up, his head spinning with the thought of what was about to happen. He was really going to let her do this to him. He knelt in front of her, head hanging down, hands clenched in the sheets. He was exposed to her in a way he’d never considered, never thought to experience, and at the first touch of her fingers against him Jack gasped and had to lock his elbows against a sudden impulse to give way.
“Okay, pet?” Miss Fisher asked, as she circled her fingers against his anus, and God, Jack had no idea that he had sex nerves there, that something so strange could feel so delightful.
The rubbing stopped. Oh, she was waiting for him to answer. “Yes, Miss Fisher,” he said. And then he couldn’t help himself, “please.”
“That’s my good boy,” Miss Fisher said approvingly, and she was starting to penetrate him now with a finger, in and out, and it felt surprisingly pleasurable. It didn’t hurt at all. With her free hand she was stroking up and down his spine and Jack arched under her, shuffling back so that he was closer to her. He wanted her to be able to reach wherever she cared to. Her hands went away and barely restrained himself from a protest, but then they were back. Her hand at his arse was very wet now and she was putting two fingers in him and that was starting to stretch him. There was discomfort, but, oh, good sensations were intertwined with it and Jack didn’t want her to stop, all his focus narrowed to the fingers in his arse. He couldn’t help a small moan of disappointment when she took her fingers away again.
“I need you to pay attention now, pet,” Miss Fisher said. “I’m going to give you a choice. You may choose to sit down on my cock, which will give you control over how we do this, or you can stay as you are and I will fuck you how I choose.”
God. Jack could barely think for the surge of lust fogging his brain. He forced himself to take a moment to consider both options, but he’d come this far, he’d known what he was asking and he trusted Miss Fisher completely. With a sigh of relief he let his shaking elbows give way, rested his hot face on his hands, presenting his arse, presenting himself, everything he was, to his Mistress.
“Jack,” he heard Miss Fisher murmur, and there was such awe and admiration in her voice that Jack knew he’d never regret his choice. His submission.
Then there were hands taking firm hold of his hips and the phallus was sliding between his cheeks, smooth with oil, and God, it felt like an eternity waiting for her to just do it, to fuck him like she’d promised to. He bit his lip against the impulse to beg her to get on with it.
And then she did, and Jack shuddered, hard, clutching the sheets with white-knuckled fingers. He couldn’t think, all his focus narrowed to the sensation of the blunt object pushing inexorably into his body.
“Breathe,” he heard, as if from a distance, but he couldn’t think, couldn’t understand, and then there was a tug on his hair, his head was pulled back, not painfully but steadily and the collar was firm against his throat, something else to focus on. Jack gasped, grateful for the gulp of air easing the tightness in his chest. “Breathe,” Miss Fisher said again, firmly. She let go of his hair and Jack gratefully pressed his forehead against the sheets, bracing himself as he was fucked. And it hurt, yes, but the pain was nothing to the sensation of being filled, of Miss Fisher’s hands holding him down, of Miss Fisher’s phallus in his arse. And then her grip tightened on his hip and she shifted the angle of the thrusts somehow and Jack forgot to think anything at all because something inside him just seemed to light up. He thought he must have cried out. Miss Fisher was mostly brushing against that spot when she thrust now and the pressure was building unbearably, nothing like Jack had ever felt before, deep inside him. He wanted to come, thought about trying to get a hand on his cock, but Miss Fisher hadn’t given him permission, and he couldn’t find the words to ask. Then, before he realised it was going to happen, the pleasure crashed through him, wave after wave, leaving him overwhelmed, gasping and trembling uncontrollably, and, inexplicably, on the verge of tears.
Gradually Jack became aware that he was lying in Miss Fisher’s arms, his head on her breast. She was soothing him with soft caresses along his shoulders, murmuring endearments about how good he was, how proud she was of him, and Jack lay there and soaked it in until he eventually fell into a doze.
Jack sank down into the bath water gratefully, feeling his overworked muscles begin to ease almost immediately. Phryne appeared with a couple of martinis which she placed on the sink counter, then sat on the edge of the tub and handed him a glass of water. Jack downed it gratefully; he hadn’t realised how parched he actually was. She handed him the martini and he looked up at her as they sipped the cocktails. Phryne’s face was flushed and she was looking at him with such a soft expression on her face that Jack didn’t want to say anything, didn’t want to break the mood. He wasn’t sure she realised how much she was revealing with that look. He knew she loved him, but so much grief and betrayal in her past sometimes made it hard for her to show it.
Phryne’s eyes drifted to his neck and stayed there, and Jack became suddenly aware of the collar still around his neck. How could he have forgotten? Was he so used to it already?
“You’ve no need to wear it outside the bedroom,” Phryne said. “We’ll keep it in the bedside drawer. Whenever you feel a desire to play, you can put it on and we’ll go from there.”
She was giving him the choice.
“No,” Jack said, and had to clear his throat against a sudden surge of relief at the decision he’d made. “No. That’s not what I want.”
Phryne’s eyes were intent as she looked at him. “What do you want, Jack?”
Jack met her eye firmly. “I want your collar,” he said.
“Are you sure you’ve thought this through?”
“On the understanding that when you get involved in one of my cases, I’m still in charge—”
Phryne gave him an impish grin. “As much as you ever were,” she agreed, sipping her martini.
“—then yes, I know what I’m doing,” Jack said, giving her a reproving look.
Phryne looked intrigued. Holding her glass up, she carefully climbed into the bath and sat down facing him as Jack shifted his legs to give her room. “I’ll drink to that,” she announced, holding out her glass. Jack raised his own glass for the toast. “Miss Fisher,” he acknowledged. Phryne leaned forward with a smile, and Jack met her kiss contentedly.