Today I am so pleased to welcome Penny Aimes to Joyfully Jay. Penny has come to talk to us about her latest release, For the Love of April French. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Dennis Martin looked around the club and decided to at least take off his tie. He had dressed tonight based on his somewhat limited experience in Seattle kink and BDSM clubs, and here in Austin he was feeling distinctly out of place. As a dominant he wanted to project power and confidence, whether in a suit or fetish wear, and by any measure power suits were more his style. He’d unpacked a sober but lightweight black moleskin Armani blazer from his garment bags—but this place was forcing him to consider he might need to relearn how to be a dom in jeans and cowboy boots. Jason had not given him sufficient details. Although maybe a name as simple as Frankie’s should’ve been a tip-off.
On a midweek evening in the middle of May, there were less than a dozen people around. Most of them were white, although there was probably a little more color than in any of his Seattle haunts. Down the scuffed bar-top sat a woman with a cloud of sandy blond hair in a pink leather jacket. A denim-wrapped couple were cozy in one of the horseshoe-shaped booths defining the corners of a makeshift dance floor where a few more people swayed. There was a DJ’s enclosure blocking what would have been a window to the street in a normal bar, but no one was occupying it, and something slow and alt-country was piped in, talking about one big love.
There wasn’t much staff around either; a pugnacious bouncer on the door who seemed to be puzzling over a ledger between entries, and a pierced, pale and androgynous goth behind the bar. Even the goth gear was on the casual and breezy side. The club he’d attended in Seattle had tighter security and a much stronger dress code, for employees and members both.
He quickly loosened and removed his green silk tie, folding it up and slipping it in his jacket pocket. He hoped it looked casual and intentional, as if he’d come here from somewhere more formal. Then he felt the flicker of imposter syndrome that suggested a real dominant didn’t worry about what other people were thinking. And besides, he added to himself, it’s unlikely anyone had even noticed.
“Your first time here?” said a husky voice, and he turned towards his only companion at the bar.
Looking at her more closely for the first time, he saw a white transgender woman in clothes as casual as the rest of the room; pink faux leather jacket, a grey T-shirt and tight jeans that wrapped around curvy hips and a tight pinch of waist. Her face, though, was fully and skillfully made-up. Almost airbrushed. She could’ve been anywhere from twenty-five to thirty-five.
She had grey-green eyes that smiled along with her full lips, which were stained to match her jacket and the bobs of her earrings. She had long nails, painted like a cloudy blue sky except for a large yellow crystal inset in the right ring finger. Her T-shirt displayed a molecular structure and the words: “I survived testosterone poisoning.” Cute. Funnier than a Pride pin. He smiled at the slogan, then at her.
“I just moved to Austin,” he confirmed. “I know, I’m overdressed.” As a lesbian couple in full latex arrived and were waved past by the bouncer—they were known here, apparently, from the bouncer’s reaction and from the woman’s quick wave—he quirked his lips and added, “Or under.” Fashions might be different here, but some things are always acceptable in a kink club.
She laughed. “No, I just don’t recognize you. I’m kind of a regular.” She sipped her drink, which looked citrusy. “It’s a Wednesday,” she said, “So things are kinda casual. People just popping in after work.” She gestured vaguely at herself. “I look a lot better on the weekend.”
“You look good now,” he said. It was a tactful first move, and it was true. Good skin. Great hair. The kind of figure he liked, and a face that looked both kind and sensual.
She tossed her mane of honey-colored hair out of her face. “Then imagine how good I look on the weekend,” she said. Her lips curled teasingly.
“Maybe I will,” he said.
She took another sip. “And what are you imagining?”
He paused infinitesimally, thankful he was already lifting his Jack and Coke to take a drink. She was returning his flirtation, inviting his imagination, but she was also calling his bluff. He’d been bantering along automatically, but now he was challenged to actually consider it. And suddenly he found himself very determined to get this right. There was something in those warm green eyes—a welcome, like he was a friend she hadn’t seen in a long time. This felt different from the times he’d been approached since his breakup with Sonia.
“Hm.” He studied her a bit more, and she returned his regard, smiling. Her figure was lush on the bottom, but lighter on top, or at least a bit small for her frame. He could see she was a bit curled up on herself within the depths of her cropped jacket; she had broad shoulders that she was perhaps trying to minimize. Combined with her hips and waist, it gave her a classic hourglass shape, despite her slighter bust.
He licked his lips and tasted the sweetness of the cola. Tried to conjure something that wasn’t just generically fetish, but specific to the woman in front of him, the woman whose interest he suddenly wanted very much to capture. “Leather, or maybe PVC. Up to your throat. Sleeveless. Short skirt.”
“Like a skater dress,” she mused. He nodded.
“Stockings, of course.” That was purely for him. He wished he’d noticed her shoes; would she be sensitive about heels? She was sitting, but he suspected she was almost as tall as himself. “Court shoes. No collar. Unless I missed something?” A critical question. Maybe she had a regular dom and just liked to flirt.
“No collar,” she confirmed, her smile widening to show white, even teeth.
“But maybe cuffs,” he said, trying a slightly more insinuating voice. He let his eyes linger on her boldly, and she colored and looked away, smile still in place. “How did I do?” he asked.
“Depends,” she said, and now her voice, too, was changed. Lower; quieter. “Was that supposed to be a guess or a wish?”
“I don’t know what’s in your closet,” he admitted. “Just what I’d like to see you in. Did you like the picture?”
“Yes,” she almost whispered. There was an unspoken Sir after it that fired his nerves and took him from partially aroused by the visualization to almost painfully hard. It would be a huge red flag if she actually said that now, just like it would’ve been inappropriate for him to suggest he’d collar her, but the silent subtext was there and charged the air. Most of his self-consciousness evaporated as the dynamic clicked into place. Thank God she wasn’t a dressed-down domme!
She let her eyes drop to her drink as she stirred it, sending dark fluctuations through the sunshine. “What color, though?”
“You seem to like pink,” he tossed off.
“That,” she said wryly, “would be a lot of pink.” She gestured to indicate, apparently, the amount of pink it would take to wrap her frame. Her hands were graceful, expressive.
“Black is always acceptable,” he allowed, “but I like you in pink.”
An Entertainment Weekly Best Romance of Summer 2021!
“This book gave me every last one of the Intense Romance Feelings I crave.” —New York Times bestselling author Talia Hibbert
April French doesn’t do relationships and she never asks for more.
A long-standing regular at kink club Frankie’s, she’s kind of seen it all. As a trans woman, she’s used to being the scenic rest stop for others on their way to a happily-ever-after. She knows how desire works, and she keeps hers carefully boxed up to take out on weekends only.
After all, you can’t be let down if you never ask.
Then Dennis Martin walks into Frankie’s, fresh from Seattle and looking a little lost. April just meant to be friendly, but one flirtatious drink turns into one hot night.
When Dennis asks for her number, she gives it to him.
When he asks for her trust, well…that’s a little harder.
And when the desire she thought she had such a firm grip on comes alive with Dennis, April finds herself wanting passion, purpose and commitment.
But when their relationship moves from complicated to impossible, April will have to decide how much she’s willing to want.
Penny Aimes is a trans woman writing contemporary romance about trans women and other people who don’t always find themselves in romance novels.
She was assigned Hoosier at birth but has lived on the east coast and in China before landing in Austin, Texas. She lives in the heart of the music district with her wife and a very small bird with a very loud voice.
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