Founded over four hundred years ago, Sanctus Infinitus Redemptio is a private and very elite society where dominance and submission are revered. Steeped in tradition and excellence, every Dominant and every submissive, and their pairing, are selected with great care.
When Hunter Vargo is brought into the Sanctus, his need for strict dominance sees him paired with the wrong Master. But only a short time later, mistreated and his trust broken, he’s recalled, his collar removed. The Grand Master knows it will take a special kind of Dominant to restore the sub’s faith and trust.
Sig Bruckner’s world is perfect. He has a great job, he has high standing within the Sanctus, and he has Levin, the very best submissive. When he’s asked to take on a second sub, a young man with issues and a rule not to touch him, Sig’s world is turned upside down.
When his dominance, his patience, and self-control are tested, and when Sig’s relationships with both subs are pushed past his limits, everything begins to unravel. Yet Sig knows every good Dom learns from their subs, and he’s no exception. He might not be able to fix everything on his own, but perhaps the three of them together can.
Sig Bruckner is about to learn who’s really in control.
The Mercedes slowed around the grand driveway, stopping in front of the huge manor. The Casa di Salvezza was a remarkable nod to history and grand architecture, and a buzz thrilled through me every time I came here. One of Colton’s boys, Phillip, opened my door. He offered a polite smile before bowing his head. “Good evening, Sir.”
I nodded my acknowledgement and stepped out of the car. I straightened my jacket and ran my hand through my hair. A touch of grey flecked at my temples, but the brown mostly matched my eyes. It was otherwise short and tidy; impeccably neat, like everything in my life. Structured, organised, understated but distinguished. I glanced up at the huge stone building, the windows glowing warm and inviting, and I walked to the door, knowing Levin would follow. Without prompting, without even a look, he read my cues.
The perfect submissive.
My perfect submissive.
Levin had been in my care for two years. He had dark hair, blue eyes, and fair skin that flushed beautifully when he laughed and when he orgasmed. Other Doms would probably say I was too lenient on the boy or I spoiled him, but Levin was different. He was smart, sometimes a little cheeky, warm and kind, and completely insatiable. He has been chosen for me by Colton. Colton, my old Master, my Master still, had an uncanny ability to choose the perfect partner.
Dominant to submissive, Master Colton had a gift for forging bonds between pairings. As far as I knew, he’d never failed.
I hadn’t been Colton’s sub for nearly a decade. He taught me everything I know. I had no obligation to fall to my knees in front of him, but I would. No matter how long it had been since he called me his sub, he would always be my Master.
Even though I’d been a Master in my own right for ten years, we would still meet regularly and talk over coffee. At least every six weeks, not including play sessions. He was my mentor, my adviser, but I’d like to think he was also my friend. We’d discuss the trials and tribulations of being a Master, of having the responsibility of subs, the latest goings on in this dominion, and in the other dominions in other countries.
This dominion I was part of, like all dominions in the Sanctus, had three Grand Masters: Jürg, Valente, and Colton. Each had a specialty, an area of expertise. All three were exceptional men. With traditions spanning centuries and unimaginable wealth, the Sanctus was an exclusive, elite community, and one I was honoured to be part of.
Each member was chosen with a specific purpose—mine being medicine—ensuring the dominion remained self-sufficient. We didn’t have to look outside of our own dominion for expertise. Real estate, stock markets, even our mechanics and house cleaners were all part of the dominion.
There were rules. Many rules, but none more important than the first.
Keep the secret.
As I approached the huge wooden front doors to Master Colton’s manor, I knew Levin was following. I could hear his quiet footfalls two steps behind me. I didn’t have to turn around to know he’d be walking with his head slightly bowed, his shoulders squared, and his hands clasped behind his back.
Master Colton was right.
Levin was perfect for me. He read me, as I did him. He was dedicated and willing, his submission to me a true gift.
Colton had matched other Doms perfectly with their subs, which was why I was surprised he called me, requesting to see me urgently.
He’d gotten one wrong, he’d said.
He needed me to come, it was a matter of importance, he’d said.
Bring Levin, he’d told me.
Which was why we were here.
The doors opened before me, and we stepped inside. The marble foyer was impressive, as was the entire estate. Stefan, Colton’s first sub, a pretty, dark-haired boy, greeted us with a nod. “Master will be pleased,” he said quietly, and ignoring the immense staircase in front of us, we turned to the left and walked through to the sitting room, where I was asked to wait. The doors closed silently behind him.
The room was delicately dressed in fine antiques; ironic, considering the furniture in the several playrooms downstairs. There were two French provincial chairs, and I deduced I was to sit on one of them.
Levin silently knelt beside me. Dressed in my standard required attire of faded jeans, he also wore a black T-shirt, a coat, and boots for the weather. He rested on his heels.
A sight to behold, my sub.
He hid his anxiety well. Kneeling beside me now, no one would guess he was nervous about coming here. He’d wondered why Colton had insisted on his presence. He thought for one horrible, fleeting second that he was being recalled.
“I don’t want you to leave me,” he’d whispered. “I could never belong to anyone else. Not as I belong to you.”
I’d dismissed that, reassuring him Master Colton had not implied any such thing. I’d reassured him ultimately it was my decision if I kept him as my own or even his decision if he wished to remove his collar. “Never,” he’d whispered, so then I’d reassured him with my cock.
Just how he liked it.
When the doors reopened and Colton walked in, he held a piece of paper, and I could tell he was uneasy. Colton sat in the chair across from me, worry lines marring his brow. His third sub, Mikhail, knelt quickly beside him, assuming the same position as my Levin.
“Thank you for coming on such short notice,” Colton said.
“Sig,” he started. “You know me well.”
I nodded. “And I can tell you are troubled.”
He frowned again and sighed. “I am.”
“What is it?”
“I failed a submissive,” he said quietly.
Instinctively, I was quick to leave the chair and kneel in front of him, in a pose that mirrored Levin’s. “I don’t believe it.”
“It’s true,” he admitted. “I paired a Dom and sub, and they were . . . not compatible.”
Compatible. I didn’t like how the word sounded. Not all bonds are for life; some last years, some don’t. But this sounded . . . different. I couldn’t quite marry what he was saying with the man I knew. “Please explain so I understand.”
“A boy was brought into the Sanctus a few weeks ago. I oversaw him. He’s a dear boy; a boy who needs strict boundaries. I paired him with Lazzaro.”
I winced at the mention of his name. I knew many Doms who practised S&M and they were good people. But Lazzaro had a coldness about him. He had the hollow stare of a manipulator, a sociopath.
Colton didn’t miss my reaction to the mention of Lazzaro’s name and he let out a sad sigh. “Yes. Last night, Lazzaro brought him here to do a scene and I noticed marks on him that contravened his hard limit. Valente and I recalled him. Lazzaro has been relegated to a sub in training with Valente.”
Quite a demotion indeed. Stripped of his rank, stripped of his sub, and sent back to training. Valente would not tolerate such blatant abuse of power and disrespect of a sub in his care. His retraining would be harsh and thorough. Though Lazzaro was not my concern.
“Does the boy need medical attention?” I asked, my first priority.
Colton gave a slight shake of his head. “Please, sit as equal with me,” he said, nodding to the seat I’d been sitting in.
Equal? Never . . .
Though I did as he asked, choosing silence over disagreeing with him. “The boy is physically fine. He’d used a whip on him, and that breached his hard limits. The welts weren’t that bad; he’d provided good aftercare.”
Sig frowned. “If he broke his trust and hurt him, then provided aftercare . . . That’s an abusive powerplay. Did he hurt him then soothe him and tell him it was his fault, that he wouldn’t have been whipped if he’d behaved better? Master Colton, that’s—”
He raised his hand. “I know. And Lazzaro will learn this lesson, believe me.” He sighed heavily. “But now the boy has been recalled. He’s had his trust breached, he had his submission thrown back in his face, and now, he’s struggling mentally.”
My field is medical; I’m a doctor, not a psychologist. “Why have you called me? If the boy needs a psychologist, surely Ephraim is better equipped.”
Colton smiled, almost sadly. “I need you to take him. I need you to take him as a second submissive.”
I blinked, turning his request over in my head before glancing toward Levin, who had not moved a muscle.
“I know Levin is your first concern,” Colton admitted. “I know you to be a strict but fair Dominant. But I also know you’re compassionate; one who punishes and uses as required but who also cares deeply for his subs.”
“Tell me about him.”
Colton handed me the piece of paper he was holding. “His name is Hunter Vargo. He’s twenty-three. He’d been with a Dom outside of our dominion who feared he lacked the skills required for such a boy. He needs twenty-four seven submission. I took him in; he’s very dedicated. I found him to thrive under strict domination, but . . .”
“Look at his form,” Colton said, nodding to the piece of paper. It was a sexual soft and hard limit form. Each and every person who entered into the Sanctus was required to fill it out, and any Dom worth his salt would insist a sub’s forms were redone often, discussed and negotiated at length.
This form was decidedly empty, except for one hard limit. “He has a hard limit of whipping,” Colton said.
“That’s not uncommon,” I conceded.
“Whipping of any kind,” Colton added quietly. “When you see him, you’ll understand.”
I nodded. If Colton said as much, then I took it as truth and would wait until I saw the boy for myself. But this form . . . I turned the paper over in my hand. It was blank. “There’s nothing else marked or noted.”
“Yes. An oversight. The system we have in place has never failed anyone before . . .”
I frowned. “But his one and only hard limit was breached? The failure was with Lazzaro.”
“All responsibility and failures stop with me. I allowed Lazzaro a position of Dom, and clearly he’s not worthy. When Hunter was ready to go with a Dom, after his initial training with me, he said he understood everything, he was ready . . .” Master Colton shook his head. “I think he told me what I wanted to hear. He wanted to please me, so he agreed. I should have seen that. I should have known better. For me now, the incident with Lazzaro is a separate issue. The first issue is mine. I failed this boy. Not just the Sanctus and our traditions. Me.”
We were both quiet for a moment. While Master Colton was responsible for all members in this dominion and would bear the weight of blame, I had a hard time agreeing that he was entirely at fault.
Colton sighed. “I want you to take Hunter. I wouldn’t ask anyone else. He’s a special case. And he needs a Dominant I can trust, Sig. And there is no one I would trust more.”
But a second submissive?
“I already have three subs. I am unable to take on another,” Master Colton continued. “Otherwise I would. I let this boy down, and now I feel obligated to ensure his care. Someone who I know will do right by him.”
As alarming as this was, I could never have denied Colton. He asked me to take this boy on. And so, I would. Again, I left my chair and knelt before my old Master. “It would be an honour to do as you have asked of me.”
A smile graced his voice when he spoke again. “One of my greatest subs,” he whispered. Colton threaded his fingers through my hair, pulling my head up so I looked at him. “It’s why I ask you to do this. Because I know you will teach him as I taught you. Care for him as I care for you.”
A rush of pride warmed my chest. I smiled at the compliment, at the gentle touch of his hand. “Of course.”
“I have told Hunter that in light of his recent mistreatment and the betrayal of his Dom, I would impose a one-week trial with you.”
I looked up at that, shocked. The Sanctus rarely applied such trials. “Oh?”
“Yes. And I know you like to pet your boy and reward him with a hand in his hair. And I will allow that. You can reassure him and reward him with gentle touch, though I would impose a rule of no sexual contact in that time. I want him to trust you and be sure it’s right. I want him to feel safe before he is used again in that way. Let him see how you operate before he decides if you’re a match.”
I gave him a nod. “A cautious and fair decision.”
Colton’s fingers found my hair again. “Though you can let him watch, if he wishes. I’m sure Levin would like that.”
I smiled and kissed Colton’s palm.
“Come,” Colton said as he stood. “I want you to meet your new sub.”