The car came to a stop outside of a converted private airplane hangar. From the outside it didn’t look like anything other than a hangar. Cars were parked along the gravel path that led up to it and when I stepped out of the car I could hear music coming from speakers that were mounted to the exterior of the large building.
“Are you sure you want to do this, Sookie?” Tara asked as she reached for my hand. “You don’t have to if you don’t want to.”
“No, I want to. It’s time to try something different.”
At first when Tara told me that she was involved in an underground sex club I thought she was kidding. Tara was the last person (other than me) that I would suspect would be into that sort of thing. Just goes to show that it’s a mistake to judge a book by its cover. Even more intriguing was that she had met her current boyfriend there.
Gaining admittance to The Playground was quite a process. It was a members only kind of place and you had to be invited in by someone who had been a member for at least two years. I had been invited by Eggs, Tara’s boyfriend, and I was pretty sure there were some universities with laxer acceptance standards. Eggs submitted my name for nomination and along with that was a recommendation that was reviewed by the club owner and a committee of other people. Not all submissions made it to the nomination phase, from what Eggs told me, but whatever he had said (along with the photograph of me) had been enough for the committee to extend me an invitation via email.
From that point I had to fill out a questionnaire on their website, and some of the questions were pretty personal. I supposed it made sense since it was a sex club and there were potential health risks involved by having multiple sexual partners or engaging in what most people would consider to be risky behavior. There were medical history questions, questions about what my hard and soft limits were, what sort of things I had experienced in the past and what I was hoping to accomplish by becoming a member.
Honestly I wasn’t sure what I hoped to accomplish. All I knew was that I was in need of a change. Once my questionnaire was reviewed and accepted, I was called in to a nondescript office building in downtown Shreveport where I was interviewed by a woman I knew only as Madame Raven. There was a camera on me the whole time and she had an earpiece in that allowed her to relay questions from whoever was pulling her strings.
The interview had been damn near brutal, but they had liked me well enough to send me to their physician to be tested for STDs and HIV/AIDS. I was also given a drug and pregnancy test. I came back clean for everything, as I suspected I would since I’d never even smoked a cigarette and I’d always been very safety conscious when it came to sex. All in all it took about six weeks for a decision to be made.
“Have you picked out your alias?” Tara asked as we walked to the door.
“Yeah, I think so,” I smiled.
“Are you going to tell me, or do I need to guess?”
I had given it some thought. At first I was seriously considering Scarlet after my favorite fictional character, but I decided that was too close to my actual name so I spent some more time thinking about it. Tara’s alias was Sindee and I needed to remember that once we were inside.
“Are you ready?” Eggs asked when we got to the door. He pressed his thumb to a pad and once his print was accepted the door opened automatically. My own prints had been taken the day I came in for my interview. A thumbprint was the only way to get into The Playground’s building.
“What’s your name again?” I asked him.
“Devlin,” he replied with a sly smile.
“Deviled eggs,” I whispered under my breath and laughed to myself, wondering if Eggs had done that on purpose.
Eggs led us to the desk where we were supposed to check in. We could leave our coats and purses there if we wanted to. Club rules permitted us to bring in certain props, but they were still inspected beforehand to make sure no one was smuggling drugs into the club. So far they hadn’t been raided and they wanted to keep it that way. I was a probationary member so I had to be on my best behavior for six months.
I felt a cool fingertip brush against my shoulder and my head turned to see Madame Raven smiling at me, and she had fangs. She was dressed in what looked like a vintage Parisian gown circa 1890 with lace gloves going up past her elbows. Her hair was immaculately styled, and her cleavage rivaled my own in its epicness.
“Fresh meat,” she purred.
“Madame Raven, nice to see you again,” I nodded respectfully.
“I’m glad you could join us. Let me check in Sindee and Devlin, and then I’ll go over the check in procedures with you so you don’t have to come with these two every time. I also have a few forms for you to sign,” she said.
I hung back and took in the decor of the club while Tara and Eggs checked in. The hangar didn’t look much like a hangar on the inside that was for sure. I had been told that I would be given a guided tour my first time at the club. I knew from the stairwell to my right that there was at least a second floor.
“If you need anything,” Tara touched my arm to get my attention, “Devlin and I will be on the Swingset. You can come find us or have Madame Raven page us.”
“I think I’ll be fine. If I need to leave I’ll just go,” I told her. I wasn’t going to interrupt their fun even if I realized The Playground wasn’t for me. “Go have fun. I’ll see you guys later.”
Tara winked at me and then looped her arm through Eggs’ before the two of them headed for the door that took them out of the main lobby.
“So, Sookie, have you decided on an alias?” Madame Raven asked.
“I have,” I nodded, but all of a sudden the name I’d picked flew out of my head. “I think I’m going to go with Scarlet.”
It was the only name that came to mind and I had to give them something.
“Scarlet suits you,” Madame Raven smiled a little.
“Can I ask a question?”
“Did you have fangs the last time I talked to you, or are they just a part of your costume?”
“What do you think?” she asked.
“I’d like to think I would have noticed fangs before this, but I was nervous last time so I might have missed them.”
“Here, I need you to sign this release form that states you have been medically cleared and you understand the risks to your health by participating in high risk sexual behavior. Under that is a BDSM release form that lists all of your limits and can be updated at any time should your status change with anything. That information is made public to our other members. Then there is one more form that I need for you to print your alias on. From this point on you will be known here only as Scarlet. Confidentiality is something we take very seriously here.
“Should you become personally involved with another club member we ask that you inform us, and that you leave your personal shit at the door. By that I mean we don’t want our security mediating your argument or for the other members to be made to feel uncomfortable because of it. You received a copy of our rules and regulations already so you know all of those things. Those rules are as much for your safety as they are for ours. Failure to comply will result in your immediate expulsion from the club and termination of your membership. There are no second chances or do overs. Once you forfeit your membership it’s canceled for life. Do you have any other questions?” Madame Raven spoke like she’d given that speech a thousand times, and she probably had.
“I was just wondering why we have to wear all black.”
“Because a lot of the rooms are dark for a reason and bright colors may detract from the effect. If you’re going straight up to a reserved room for a scene to act out you’re welcome to bring a costume to change into,” she explained.
“Good to know,” I nodded.
I read over and signed the forms she had put in front of me. When I handed them back to her she picked up a phone and spoke quickly in another language I didn’t know.
“Leif will be down momentarily to take you on the tour. In the meantime feel free to look around or go on over to the bar for a drink. Oh, and Scarlet?”
“Welcome to The Playground. I hope you make a lot of new friends.”
“Thank you, Madame Raven,” I curtsied a little bit, and then I was tapped on my shoulder.
I whipped around to see a tall man with shoulder length blonde hair the same shade as mine towering over me. He had piercing blue eyes and a strong jaw. He was incredibly handsome and there was something very powerful about the energy he was giving off.
“You must be Scarlet,” he smiled down at me.
“I am. You must be Leif.”
“That’s correct. Care to join me on the tour?” he asked and offered his arm.
I nodded and took a deep breath. Ready or not here I come.
“So I take it you’re aware of the various theme rooms we have here,” Leif said as we started on our tour.
“Yes, I am. I’ve spent a lot of time on the website looking around, plus my friend T-” I caught myself and said, “Sindee has been a member here for a while now.”
“Yes, I know Sindee,” he smiled.
“She told me some things about this place before I applied for membership, and it piqued my interest.”
“I read the profile you put up on the website,” he told me. “It says you’re interested in domination and bondage?”
My cheeks flushed a little and I said, “I find the paradox of it to be fascinating. On the surface it looks like the sub has no control, but really it’s by giving up control that the sub has total control of what’s happening.”
“Very true,” Leif nodded.
“I can understand the appeal of turning your mind off and just doing what you’re told,” I continued. “Not thinking but trusting that you’ll be taken care of while simultaneously pleasing someone.”
“Sounds like you’ve done your research, Scarlet.”
“I’ve read a few blogs and looked at a few other websites, but I would be way too nervous about meeting someone over the Internet to get into the life that way.”
And there was no way on God’s green earth that I was going to announce my curiosities to the limited boys in the dating pool back home. Good southern girls weren’t supposed to be into this sort of thing, and my Gran would die of mortification if she found out I’d been curious about what it would be like to be tied up and spanked during sex.
“The Internet can be a good and scary place at the same time,” Leif agreed.
“Sort of like The Playground,” I said with a nervous laugh, and Leif stopped walking.
“You’re completely safe here, Scarlet. No one will make you do anything you don’t want to do, and you can limit your play to when you’re here to ensure it. The Playground protects its members while giving them room to explore their fantasies and curiosities. The key, if you’re so inclined, is to find the right Dominant to suit your needs.”
“That’s good advice, thank you,” I smiled at him and felt my nerves ease a little.
“Are you ready to take a look at the Swingset?” he asked me.
I nodded and Leif leaned into me a little so he could reach the doorknob behind me. I breathed in his scent and discovered there was no aftershave or cologne coming from him. He simply smelled of soap and whatever it was that comprised his own natural scent. That, all on its own, was a little intoxicating. The door opened and immediately I heard voices behind me, some speaking while others were moaning. Leif stood upright and took my hand.
I felt a shiver run up my arm at the touch of his skin on mine, and then turned at his direction to get my first look into one of the playrooms at The Playground.