Slave Hunt (Subs Club, #5)
This title is part of the The Subs Club universe.
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Thirty people. Two hours. Only the strong will survive.
When Riddle decides to put on a slave hunt, the Subs Club is on board. Tops hunting bottoms in the woods with paintball guns? Yes. Captives strung up on whipping posts, at the mercy of their captors? Hell yes. But on the morning of the hunt, nothing’s going according to plan. Miles and Drix are at odds over Miles’s reluctance to move in together. Dave is determined to show up D, who thinks Dave won’t last two minutes in the woods. Gould finds himself torn between obeying his master’s orders and living out a longtime fantasy. And Kamen inadvertently becomes a double agent when he aligns himself with two different parties.
By the end of the hunt, alliances will be forged and broken, loyalties will be tested, relationships will be strengthened…and someone will barrel roll. Narrated by ten different characters, Slave Hunt tells the story of two hours in the woods that will change everyone forever. Or at least, remind them that love is the greatest victory of all.
Caution: The following details may be considered spoilerish.
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When I woke up, there was a Hemsworth sitting on my face.
Don’t ask me how long I’ve wanted to say that.
Okay, it wasn’t Liam or Chris or even Luke—it was my dog, who’s an Italian greyhound mixed with a Chinese crested and is seriously weird as shit. He has these nightmares where he shakes and makes little murfing noises and then wakes up suddenly and climbs on my head. Ryan was usually like, Ignore him and maybe he’ll nut up, but I couldn’t ignore Hemsworth. I always picked him up and sang him his favorite songs, which were “Amanda” by Boston—because Hemsworth was big into Ryan’s friend Amanda—and “Don’t Fear the Reaper.”
Anyway, I pulled Hemsworth off my face and held him up like The Lion King. His back legs kicked. Then I pulled him down against my chest and hugged that little fucker.
Speaking of little fuckers . . .
Ryan stretched beside me and stuffed his hand under the pillow. I’m not even shitting about him being little, because he’s the shortest guy I’ve literally ever seen in person. He’s real self-conscious about it, and I’m like . . . I can’t even think of enough ways to tell him how much I love how tiny he is. He’s like a friggin’ haunty-faced ghost child, but also all man, because you should see him dom me. One time last month, he was yelling at the power company on the phone, and Hemsworth peed on the floor from the power of Ryan’s voice, and I basically did too, metaphorically.
I set Hemsworth on my other side and rolled to face Ryan. Then I stared at him and loved him with my eye lasers.
Ryan’s the kind of guy, you see him, and you want to hold him with your whole soul, and then you wish your soul was a robot with the world’s most powerful robot arms so it could hold him even harder. But I made do with my regular arms.
He grunted, and after a minute he started pushing at my chest, which is his signal that he’s running out of air, so I let him go.
He smiled at me, and I smiled back, and then suddenly his smile disappeared, and mine did too. ’Cause pretty sure we’d both just remembered we were enemies today.
Not enemies, really.
But today . . . today was the slave hunt.
I hadn’t even known what a slave hunt was when we all got the email from Riddle. By “we all,” I mean me and Ryan, plus my best friends, Dave, Miles, and Gould, plus their partners, D, Drix, GK, and Kel. I mean, I guess GK and Kel didn’t actually get the email, since they were the ones who sent it. They own Riddle, which was the only official BDSM dungeon in our city since Cobalt had closed.
Anyway, they’d decided to put on this slave hunt, which was basically where you went to a giant wooded property—in this case, some land D owned outside the city—and if you were a sub or bottom, you got hunted, and if you were a dom or a top, you got a paintball gun and you hunted the subs and bottoms. And the subs and bottoms were all called slaves for hunt purposes, even if they weren’t actual slaves. If you got shot, you had to go with your captor to the whipping posts, where you’d get tied up and the hunters could do stuff to you.
“Do you have my cards for the whipping post?” I asked Ryan a while later. I’d just gotten out of the shower, and he was making me breakfast, even though dude was about to hunt me. We could never be enemies—even fake enemies.
“They’re over on the table.”
Every slave had cards that got tacked up on the whipping posts, telling the hunters what the slave’s limits were.
I dropped my towel and walked to the table to look over them again. You could say on your card which hunters were allowed to play with you. You could even say that you didn’t want anyone to touch you except your own partner. Ry and me had decided that anyone could do stuff with me, but there were some rules.
NO SERIOUS PAIN
NO BUTT STUFF
LIGHT SPANKING, HOSING, DISPLAY POSITIONING OK. CAN T&D USING PROVIDED SLEEVE.
SAFEWORD IS WINGS.
I glanced up. “How come you didn’t put they can make me wear panties?”
He flipped a pancake. “I didn’t know you wanted to wear panties somewhere that public.”
I set the cards down and bent to pet Hemsworth, who was pacing by my feet. He stretched his neck to sniff the air around my balls. I’d been working on teaching him that smelling my junk was inapprops, so I straightened up and looked at Ryan again. “I told you the other night that my body was ready.”
“Did you tell me in the form of a song?”
“Was I not listening to the song because I was trying to watch Jeopardy?”
“Maybe.” He hated when I played my guitar while he was trying to watch TV, which was why I had to do it.
I walked over to the stove. Leaned on my elbows on the counter beside him. “It was a good song.”
“I’m sure it was.” He smacked my butt with the spatula. “Go put panties on, then. Don’t let me see which ones.”
I stared at him a few secs longer. His hair was all kinda pushed in and sleep-greasy around his ear, because he hadn’t showered yet. That was my favorite kind of moment, when people you loved were just being people, with their morning breath and bad hair and stubble or whatever. He glanced over at me again, then reached out and scratched my back.
“Yes.” I pressed against his tiny shoulder as he scratched. “Yes, you are the god of everything.”
“Lower, please . . . lower . . . oh my God. Oh my God, show me a hero. Oh, look, there’s one right here.”
He laughed and scratched harder.
Ryan didn’t mind that I was kinda dumb. I mostly didn’t mind either, except on days like today, where I needed to be conniving. I felt like I’d do okay in the hunt, though. I wasn’t exactly stealthy, but I was athletic. And Dave and I had formed a secret alliance, so he could be the brains, and I could be the guy who, like, armed us with branch spears so we could fight the hunters when they found us.
Ryan stopped scratching and patted me. “Pancakes are almost done.”
“You should use a new spatch.”
He changed spatulas and put my butt-germ one in the sink. “I can’t wait to see you up there in your panties.”
“If I get caught.”
“You’ll get caught. And then I want to play with you in your panties in front of everyone.”
First-class passengers were now boarding the train to Bonertown. “Do it.”
“You know what the problem’ll be?”
“If someone else catches you. And I’m still in the woods while you’re on the whipping post.”
Captured slaves had to spend half an hour on the posts. The hunt lasted two hours, and hunters could come and go from the main camp area. Like, you could hang out in camp and mess around with the slaves, then go back in the woods and hunt some more. So if I got caught and Ryan didn’t know about it, and he was in the woods, my stint on the posts could be over before he got back to camp.
I shifted. “You’ve just gotta, like, keep checking camp to see if I’ve been captured yet.”
He nodded and looked up. “Or . . . we could form an alliance. Meet in a certain place so that I’m definitely the one who captures you.”
I froze. ’Cause I already had an alliance with Dave. But I couldn’t tell Ryan that. “Uh . . .”
“Unless you’re playing to win. That’s totally fine.”
“I’m just worried people would know we’re in cahoots. Like, they’ll think we just used this as an excuse to play together on the whipping posts.”
“Who cares what they think?” he asked, kinda loud.
“Shouty caps,” I reminded him. Sometimes he did the talking equivalent of typing in all caps, and I had to check him, ’cause he had a sort of cartoon voice that alarmed people when it was loud. He also typed in literal shouty caps, which was adorbzible, but I always wondered how far that extended. Like, did he type official paralegal stuff in all caps? ’Cause that would be kind of weird. But maybe it helped him have a recognizable style at his job, like how when you look at a van Gogh painting, you know it was the Gogh-ster who painted it because of all the swirlies.
He dialed it down a notch. “Well, I could go after a couple of other slaves first, to show I’m serious about winning. And then meet you somewhere in the woods.”
That could work. We’d used D’s property a while back to practice pony play stuff. We hadn’t really explored the woods back then—just the meadow. But we knew the lay of the land, so to speak.
I didn’t want to refuse Ryan, because he was the greatest human and I wanted him to grope me in my lace panties while I was tied to the whipping post and then, like, yank my panties down and tongue-slap my fartbox in front of everyone. But also I didn’t want to betray Dave.
“Okay. Let’s do it.” I said a silent apology to Dave.
“Excellent.” He used the spatula to flop my dick up and down. He hadn’t even touched the pancakes with it yet. Dude was pretty wasteful when it came to spatulas.
He switched from the spatula to his hand for dick-flopping, and second-class passengers boarded the Bonertown Express, and then the train pulled out of the station. I spread my legs, bracing myself on the counter so he could get all up in there.
Ryan and I were basically hypersexual. There was literally no limit to the amount of time I’d be willing to spend fucking this dude. One time, we called a radio sexpert to ask if it was normal, and she said it sounded like we had an addiction. But if wanting my amazing, tiny, ghost-child, boss-ass boyfriend inside me every moment of the day was wrong, then I didn’t want to be right.
He quit before I topped those pancakes with some motherfucking whipped cream, and told me to get the OJ.
I also got him a new spatula, and he threw the dick-germ one in the sink. I picked Count Spatula, which was the world’s greatest spatch, ’cause it was shaped like a purple Dracula head, and when you pressed a button on the handle, it laughed like muah ha haaaa.
I pressed the button as I brought it to him. He reached to take it, but I pressed the button again.
“Okay,” he said. “That’s enough.”
I pressed it again, because he knew he loved it. He yanked it out of my hand and pretty much beat the crap out of my shoulders with it until I ran away. I decided it was okay for him to keep using it for pancakes, because shoulders don’t have as many germs as butts or dicks.
I went to the fridge and started thinking about how I was gonna pull off this double-agent business.
I stood in the doorway to the Den of Horrors, my mouth hanging open. I’d seen some terrifying shit in this room—I mean shit that would make a Will Graham hallucination look like a vision of goddamn sugarplums—but this took the cake.
“Are you sharpening a knife?”
D kept his gaze on the knife and the sharpener. “Yes.”
“For what?” I stepped into the room, glancing at the wall rack covered in spanking implements behind him. “For the hunt?”
He took the knife off the sharpener and turned it over, studying it. Then he looked up at me, the blade glinting in his hand. “David. This is our steak knife. I’m not going to hunt you with it. I’m merely readying it for dinner.” D’s low, languid speech and overenunciation were usually eccentric and charming, but right now, with the knife clutched in his fist, and the row of paddles, straps, and canes behind him, that monotone was chilling.
“Are we having steak tonight?”
He returned to sharpening. “I imagine I will require some sort of celebratory dinner.”
I bristled at the implication that he would be the one with something to celebrate tonight.
My boyfriend—and “boyfriend” sounded weird, because D was forty and weathered, while I was twenty-eight and could still fit into the pants of an eighteen-year-old, if I sucked in—was an odd duck at the best of times. He loved woodworking, hiking, knife sharpening, meat, and rocking a mustache that made Teddy Roosevelt look like a prepubescent teen with a few scraggly upper-lip hairs. And he pretended to be interested in things like my favorite reality show, Space Camp, and dress shirts that brought out my eyes, and the Subs Club. Because he loved me, even if it sounded like those words were being forced out of him through a bellows on the rare occasions he actually said them.
But he’d been especially weird lately. This slave hunt was his absolute fantasy come true. All he had ever wanted in life was a chance to enact The Most Dangerous Game, and this was—hopefully—as close as he would get. I’d been checking in with him periodically over the past few months to make sure he realized he wasn’t actually allowed to slay the humans he caught.
We’d had a lot of fun joking about the hunt, anticipating it together . . . until he’d happened to mention a few weeks ago that he didn’t think I stood a chance of winning.
“What are you talking about?” I’d demanded. “You think I can’t outrun a bunch of mostly middle-aged tops?”
He hadn’t looked up from the paddle he was varnishing. “It’s not a matter of outrunning, David. This is survival. It requires skill, patience, and discretion.”
“I have all those things.” Okay, my only real skills were cutting hair and being a flamboyant asshole. Patience and I had never been on friendly terms, and discretion . . . no. Just no.
“You think you could hunt me in the woods and win?” I’d wanted to make sure I understood correctly.
“David, I am not even going to bother hunting you in those woods. I intend to pursue more elusive prey. You will be caught by someone within minutes.”
From that moment on, I’d been determined to beat him. To elude him and the other hunters until the hunt was over. Prove him fucking wrong.
But I’d taken a deep breath and let it out. Had forced myself to smile. “Maybe you could teach me. To be more elusive.”
He’d raised one unkempt eyebrow. “Train my own opponent?”
He’d thought about that for a moment. “It would be an interesting experiment. Myself versus I. Like one-man chess.” He’d set the paddle down. “All right. I will train you.”
So he had. And as annoyed as I was with him, there was nothing I enjoyed more than being trained by D. He’d taken me out to some woods near the mall rather than his land, since he felt that practicing on the actual hunting grounds was cheating. He’d taught me to walk softly, even on the dry leaves left over from winter. To blend in with my surroundings. To cover my trail. We’d gone over wildlife: rodents, insects, small game. He was particularly into birds. Bluebirds, grackles, wrens . . . you name it, D knew its plumage and its call. He’d taught me to recognize kestrels—the silent hovering hunters. And corvids—clever, subversive, highly social.
“You’re like a kestrel,” I’d told him. “And I’m a corvid.” He gave me a long look I couldn’t quite read. “C’mon. Kestrel versus corvid. Amiright?”
He’d also taught me some skills I probably wouldn’t need for the slave hunt, like fire starting and hunting small game with a slingshot. I’d been pretty hopeless at first, which pained me to admit. But with encouragement in the form of some rather enjoyable outdoor belt spankings that were all the more thrilling because I could see Sears through the trees, I’d become pretty fucking one with nature. Also I’d killed a squirrel with the slingshot. Mostly by accident. I’d cried for twenty minutes over its body, while D eyed the carcass like he wanted to take it home and cook it. I made him help me hold a funeral instead.
Anyway, now I was ready. Ready to elude. Ready to leave no trace. Ready to win.
He looked me over, eyeing my camo pants. “Those are extremely tight.”
“To avoid wind resistance.”
He shook his head, but didn’t say anything else.
“I can move in them,” I insisted. “You’ll see.”
He stood, setting the knife down. “Let me get a better look.” He shambled toward me.
I pushed my hips forward, giving him a look at the bulge up front. “Which view do you prefer?” I thrust my hips back and arched my spine.
“Mm. Both have their merits.” He stepped behind me, and I froze, trying not to laugh. He brushed the back of my neck with his fingertips. “I look forward to tying you to that whipping post.”
I leaned against him. “Oh yeah?” I smiled and closed my eyes as he slid his arms around me. “Hypothetically . . . what would you do to me once I’m up there?”
His paunch pressed against my back, and his strong hands gripped my forearms. I squirmed as his mustache tickled my neck. His breath was warm, smelled like mouthwash. I loved this asshole. Felt a thousand times better and safer and happier when he was holding me.
“That—” he kissed my shoulder “—is a surprise.”
I leaned away from the scratch of his ’stache. “Can you give me a hint?”
My dick hardened as he pushed his thumbs firmly against my wrists. I tried, playfully, to pull free, but he didn’t let go. My heart started hammering, and my ass flexed involuntarily. He took my arm and led me over to the table. Tugged me to his right side, then over his lap. I tried once to rise, but he held me down with a hand splayed between my shoulder blades, his other arm draped over my hips.
I grunted. Kicked, spreading my legs, then clamping them together. I tried to wriggle into a position where my crotch was against his thigh, but he kept his legs wide enough that I couldn’t get contact.
He slapped my ass.
Oh hell yes.
I grabbed his pant leg. His big hand clapped down on my ass again with a thwack barely muffled by my pants. Heat rushed to my groin.
“You think this is funny?” he deadpanned, delivering three hard swats. My ass throbbed.
“How funny will it be when this happens to you in front of everyone?”
I went still, my dick straining against the front of my pants. The deal was that if he captured me, he’d spank me in front of everyone. Like, the kind of show people would talk about for years to come. And if I eluded him, he had to do whatever I wanted tonight.
I had zero shame, so I wasn’t really embarrassed by the idea of an audience. Yet, I’d spent the last two and a half years playing exclusively with D, in the privacy of this house. And, like, I got into it during a spanking—yelling, crying, fighting—all of it. Dignity, we hardly knew ye. So maybe I was a little nervous about other people witnessing that. My friends witnessing that.
We’d had a talk, the four of us, back when we’d all signed up for the slave hunt. We were very close. And we used to play at the same clubs, so we’d all pretty much seen each other naked, knew each other’s kinks, had stood by one another in sickness and in health and all that . . . but this was the first time we’d committed to an event where we might all get stripped down and beaten, like, side by side. I’d been the first to say I was cool with that, but now . . .
Moot point. Because I’m not gonna get caught.
D gave me a few light swats, and I drooped, loving the warmth building under my pants, the familiar weight of his hand when he stopped spanking to rub.
“That’s all you’ve got?” I murmured, plucking at his pant leg.
“I’m conserving my strength.” His voice was low, and there was a note of affection in it that made me smile. He flipped my T-shirt up and rubbed the small of my back, and I went completely limp. Wasn’t aware of anything for a few moments except the rhythmic press of his belly against my side as he breathed, the way my skin tingled each time his palm stroked over it.
Eventually he pulled me up to sit on his lap. The camo pants almost split.
I nestled into him, and he put his chin over my head, his arms loose around me. My gaze fell on the painting on the wall—one of Ryan’s: a Friesian horse in full military costume. He’d done a series of paintings for us after D and I had moved in together last year.
I glanced around the room: at the wall of implements. At the framed piece of leather that was the first hide D had ever tanned. At the red wooden school desk that I remembered too well from my earliest sessions with D. Sometimes I still missed the duplex I’d shared with Gould. Change was hard for me—even good change.
D traced my fly with one finger. The waistband of my pants was painfully tight above my hip bone. As though reading my mind, D forced a stubby, callused finger under the waistband, stroking the already raw skin underneath. “These are not good pants for this event.”
I kissed his jaw. “I don’t care. My ass looks amazing.”
He couldn’t argue with that. After a moment, he patted said ass. “My protégé. It’s time for you to show me all you’ve learned.”
“Kestrel versus corvid.”
He leaned back slightly. “I prefer to think of myself as a bald eagle.”
“Oh my God. What would you do if you saw an eagle?”
The words were so incongruous coming from him that I laughed. “You would, wouldn’t you? Have you ever sighted one?”
“I have never been so fortunate.”
I slapped his chest. “I can’t believe I never realized how complete that would make your life. Bald eagles are like the Friesians of the sky.”
“I suppose they are.”
I craned my neck to look at him. “I hope you see one. I really do.”
He rubbed the back of my neck. “I’ll settle for a corvid.”
I snuggled closer, feeling his heartbeat against my side, his breath shifting my hair. “I love you,” I told him.
He hesitated—I hated the way he always hesitated—then said, “You too.”
Like, he couldn’t even get all four words out: I love you too. He’d asked me to move in with him. He’d told me he wanted me and only me as a sub. He made it clear in a lot of nonverbal ways that I mattered. But sometimes, I wanted to hear the words.
“All right.” I tried not to sound disappointed.
We got up.
I waved good-bye to my seven-year-old son on my mother’s porch, with the rather trepidatious sense that I was headed off to war. Pulse racing. Mind scattered. My hunt sweater already appreciably damp at the pits.
Zac turned away from me, hiding his face against my mother’s leg. He wasn’t speaking to me. Weeks ago, I’d apprised him of my intention to play paintball with some of my friends. He’d wanted to join. I’d been forced to explain that this was grown-up paintball, and he had, for all appearances, accepted this.
This morning, however, he was being what my partner, Drix, referred to as “a Gloomy Gus.” Over breakfast, he had expressed a deep displeasure at my temerity in going to play paintball without him.
He turned, not quite looking at me.
“I’ll see you later, okay?”
He didn’t answer.
I might have lingered a bit longer, gazing at my son’s perfect face: smooth, dark skin and eyes like blown glass—the richest, glossiest brown, with so much life in them that a single look could stun me. But my mother nodded at me to go on.
“Good-bye, Zac,” I tried once more.
He slipped past Mom and into her house without a word. I met Mom’s gaze, embarrassed. “He’s in a bit of a mood this morning. I apologize.”
My mother—imperious, regal, intimidating—stared back at me. “You don’t have to apologize for your kid being a kid.”
I nodded tersely. “Yes, well.”
“Go. He’ll be fine.”
I nodded again. I knew I had a tendency to be a bit collet monté. I was working on it. “I’m wondering . . . in light of the fact that he’s angry with me, perhaps it would be prudent of me to pick him up after the event, rather than leaving him here for the night.”
Her mouth set in a wide, flat line. “Baby. I’m about to tell you where to stick your prudence in a minute. Go have fun.”
I swallowed, unsure how to adequately express my gratitude to her. While she didn’t know the specifics of “the event,” I had a feeling she understood what sort of event it was. My coming out kinky to her over a year ago had not gone particularly well, but since then she had made a genuine effort to be kinder about it.
“Thank you.” I stuck my hands in my pockets and turned to go to the car, where Drix was waiting.
“Miles?” my mother asked.
I faced her again.
She held out her arms.
I hesitated, then stepped forward. She hugged me with such firmness that I had no choice but to take my hands from my pockets and hug her back.
“Have fun,” she repeated, with a hint of a warning.
Fun. Yes. I could do that. It wasn’t exactly my forte, but I would manage.