They drew closer to the front door, and Emil slowed his pace until it matched Misha’s.
“Are you all right?” His voice hit Misha in the same spot as the bass notes.
It was a few seconds before he could answer. “Why wouldn’t I be?”
Emil didn’t respond.
By the time they reached the front door, Kidwell had already knocked. He turned back to Misha. A strange looked crossed his face at the sight of Emil. It quickly vanished, and his lips turned up. “Remember why we’re here, sir knight. Try not to get distracted.”
Acid burned in Misha’s stomach. Before he could speak, the door swung open. Misha opened his mouth. No sound came out.
The man inside was dressed in the tiniest pair of leather shorts he’d ever seen. Leather suspenders crisscrossed his pale, smooth chest, and a leather cap was pulled low over his eyes. His gaze lingered on Misha, and he caught his lower lip between his teeth. He turned to Kidwell. “You forgot to mention you were bringing me a present.”
Kidwell chuckled, and Misha’s stomach twisted. Sweat pricked his forehead. “I’m not…”
A warm, firm hand took his. He looked over to find Emil staring down the doorman. There was something in his eyes Misha had never seen before. Emil’s posture had changed as well. He looked somehow taller than usual, broader. When he spoke, his voice was dark.
“Don’t address my companion without my permission.”
Misha choked. Emil squeezed his hand in warning.
The doorman glanced from one of them, to the other. “He’s yours?” He sounded doubtful.
Emil’s hand slid up Misha’s arm and closed around the back of his neck. “He’s mine.”
At the same time he spoke, he gave a small squeeze. Sensation shot down Misha’s spine. He was powerless to control the small shiver that wracked his shoulders. His cock hardened against his leathers. Mortified, he pressed his lips together.
The doorman arched an eyebrow. “Interesting.” He turned his attention back to Kidwell. “So you’re, what? The chaperone?”
Kidwell’s eyes shot to Emil. “Apparently.”
Emil’s hand tightened around the back of Misha’s neck. “I don’t need a chaperone.”
The doorman studied them a moment longer. “Of course not.” He stepped aside so they could pass. “A word of advice: keep an eye on your boy. Baby looks good enough to eat.”
Misha stiffened. Emil inclined his head. “I’ll keep that in mind.” He hustled Misha through the door and into the black marble foyer without as much as a backward glance at Kidwell.
Misha should have felt some smug satisfaction at that, but he couldn’t quite manage it. Emil’s hand, still gripping the back of his neck, was doing strange things to his body. He was more than halfway hard, a fact his tight leathers did nothing to hide. Anger rode low in his gut. Emil never touched him like this in public. It was all he could do not to tear himself away.
It was as if Emil knew what he was thinking, because he abruptly steered them towards a small door. Kidwell started to follow. Emil’s voice brought him up short.
“Give us a minute.”
Misha’s stomach leaped, but before he could protest, Emil yanked open the door and shoved him through.
It was a coatroom, by the looks of it. Emil finally released him to shut the door. Head spinning, Misha put a few solid steps between them. “Start talking.”
Emil turned around. He raised his hands. “Calm down.”
“Calm down?” Misha flexed his fingers. “What the fuck was that? I’m yours?” His stomach was spinning now, too. The anger had been eclipsed by something else, something far more pleasant and infinitely more dangerous.
Emil crossed his arms. “Have you ever been to a place like this before?”
Misha recoiled. “Fuck no.”
Emil’s expression tightened. “There are rules here. Expectations. The second we go back out there, you’re going to be out of your depth.”
Misha crossed his arms, too, and tried to look more confident than he felt. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
Emil took a step forward. On reflex, Misha stepped back.
Emil took another step. “It means you’re skittish.” He prowled towards Misha, eyes never leaving his face. “The kind of skittish someone gets when they’re dying to fuck.”
Misha forgot to breathe. “You’re full of shit.”
Emil was still moving forward. “Please. I can smell it on you. But more importantly, so will everybody else. I’ve been to places like this, Puzzle. Trust me when I say what you’re feeling is only going to get worse.”
Misha backed up. “Stop.”
Emil’s voice dropped. “You think it’s bad now? We haven’t even left the fucking foyer yet. What are you going to do when we’re surrounded by naked bodies, when you can’t take a breath without tasting booze and sweat and sex?”
Misha’s cock went rock hard.
“That’s the appeal of places like this,” Emil murmured. His eyes gleamed in the dim light. “They make it easy to get lost, to forget about who you’re supposed to be. What you should or shouldn’t do.” His eyes dropped to Misha’s mouth. “What you should or shouldn’t want.”
“Stop,” Misha whispered.
Emil took another step closer. “Face it, Misha. You’re a predator’s wet fucking dream.”
Misha’s back came up against a coatrack. He let out a small, bitter laugh. “So you’re going to protect me, is that it?”
Emil’s face hardened. “No one will touch what’s mine.”
He’d never seen this side of Emil. Misha swallowed, swallowed again. “I’m not yours.”
Emil’s knuckles dusted his jaw. “Tonight you are.”
Misha froze. He didn’t want to move, didn’t even want to breathe. His leather pants were suddenly far too tight.
Emil stepped back again, and the spell he’d woven shattered. He turned and headed back to the exit. “Let’s go. We have a job to do.”
Misha practically bolted for the door. Before he could open it, Emil’s long fingers closed around his arm. Misha’s stomach leaped. He met Emil’s gaze before he could think better of it.
“You’ve always kept me in one piece.” The honesty in Emil’s eyes was like a battering ram to his chest. “Let me return the favor.”
Misha clenched his teeth. What was he supposed to say to that? He gave a single sharp nod.
Emil didn’t release him. “You’re going to have to play the part if this is going to work. Can you do that?”
Misha felt like he was strangling. “Yeah.” He barely recognized his own voice. “Whatever. I can do that.”
Emil’s eyes drilled into his. “Who do you belong to?”
Misha opened his mouth, closed it again. Somehow, they’d moved closer without his realizing it. Now their faces were so close he could taste the wintergreen gum Emil had been chewing earlier.
Emil’s gaze dropped to his lips. “Say it. Who do you belong to?”
Misha dragged in a breath. “You.”
Emil’s eyes darkened.
Misha wrenched his arm away. “Come on,” he muttered. “Let’s get this over with.”