Jessie Chambers—“Sunni” to the local BDSM community—needs to grow up. Her master, Sir Rune, has told her to get a job. Her sister slave sage is struggling through college, serious as ever. Sunni goes to the local goth/kink store, The Fringe Element, and is immediately embraced by its quirky owner as the newest member of her “little family.” But almost immediately things start to get complicated. Sunni’s ex shows up, claiming he’s found God and that God wants them to get back together. A video of Sunni and Sir Rune doing a scene at the club winds up on television and all kinds of trouble ensues. Sunni must figure out a way to restore her relationships, keep her master from getting deported, take over running the store, and stop everybody else from trying to “save Sunni.”
by Kasi Alexander and Reggie Alexander
The Fringe Element was on a little side street right off Colorado Boulevard in Denver. I stood on the sidewalk and looked at it for a minute before I went in. Three mannequins stood in the front window. One was dressed in a short, sexy nurse’s outfit complete with a stethoscope and thigh-high stockings that ended just under the white miniskirt. The next one was in a latex bodysuit with a gas mask covering the face. The third was dressed like a dominatrix, in a leather bustier with a flogger hanging over one shoulder and shiny black boots that extended halfway up the thigh. I briefly pictured wearing that to my job interview and laughed a little as I opened the door and went in.
My owner, Sir Rune, had said I needed to get a real job, although he had also said it could be a fun one, and when my sister slave sage had heard through the grapevine that The Fringe Element, a local kink/Goth/punk store, was looking for some help, we all thought it might be a good option for me. I called the owner, Geri, and we set up a time for me to come in and meet her.
When I told the girl at the register why I was there, she silently pointed to a woman bustling around the back of the store. I guessed Geri was her late fifties, but trying her best to look like she was a carefree teenager. Her hair was dyed a mixture of colors, mostly black but with thick purple, red, and blue stripes that sort of matched the various articles of clothing that clung, draped, or floated in the vicinity of her body. I could hear her high, birdlike voice and the jingle of her jewelry as she flitted around giving instructions to the two boys who were hanging a display high up on the back wall. It looked like some kind of vampire stuff. sage would just sigh and shake her head at that. I smiled. She preferred real life to fantasy, and the whole vampire thing was completely beyond her.
The girl called to Geri, who seemed to ignore us. I leaned against the counter and watched for a few minutes as she alternately scolded and flirted with the boys, who paid almost no attention to her. She abruptly turned and almost skipped toward me, smiling and waving her hands as if she were about to take off and fly around the building. I had a feeling I might like her. Sir and sage were always so serious; this would be a really nice change of pace. If she gives me the job.
But there didn’t seem to be too much doubt of that after her first words.
“Oh, deary,” she crooned, nearly kissing me in her effort to scrutinize my face over her John Lennon glasses. “Please, please tell me you’re Jessie Chambers. You’re the first actual human to apply for work!”
I laughed. “Yes, I’m Jessie, but please call me sunni. That’s my scene name.” I wanted to say it was my slave name, since that’s what it really was, but not everyone appreciated the Master/slave dynamic, and I wasn’t sure what kind of kink Geri was into. From the looks of her it could have been just about anything.
She nodded absently, picking up a flyer from the counter and scanning it before slamming it back down. She whirled around to head for what I thought must be her office.
“Well, come this way, then, sunni,” she called over her shoulder. I resisted the strong temptation to swing my arms out and march in an imitation of her, not knowing if there was a mirror where she might catch a glimpse of me and get offended. I would be constantly tempted to make fun of her, although in a friendly way, and wondered how much she would catch if I did. I shot the girl a smile, but she was staring down at a magazine on the counter, not paying attention.
I followed Geri into her office and sat down in the chair she pointed out. She fluttered around her desk for a minute, then plopped down and leaned forward to stare into my face some more. I laid my resume in front of her, the one Sir and sage and I had spent hours agonizing over, trying to make it sound like I had some practical work experience. She didn’t even glance at it.
“So,” she said intently, “Which side are you on?”
I’m sure my face went completely blank. I couldn’t imagine what she was talking about, although I could hear Darth Vader’s voice in my head growling, “Come to the dark side, Luke.”
My confusion must have shown, because she said impatiently, “Edward or Jacob?”
It still took me a minute, but then it dawned on me. She was actually starting my job interview by talking about vampires versus werewolves. I pictured Sir’s face when I told him and nearly burst out laughing.
“I… I don’t know,” I finally said, trying to sound as serious as possible. “I think there are benefits to both.”
She nodded, as if we were discussing something very philosophical and important. “What benefits?”
“Um, well, I like how wild and free werewolves are.” This was a really bizarre conversation, even for me. “And I must confess I do like doggie style.” Geri giggled and nodded vigorously. “But the vampires can make you immortal, and you don’t have to worry about your weight anymore. Although I have to say I would miss ice cream.”
She laughed approvingly. “I can see you’re the kind who looks at all sides of an issue. That’s not a bad thing. Tell me more about yourself.”
I looked down at the resume, trying to get my head back into a professional space, but she pushed it aside dramatically.
“I don’t care about your work history,” she stated. “A monkey could learn the job. What I want to know is how you will fit in with us here. My staff is like a little family, and I don’t want to hire people who wouldn’t be comfortable with us. Tell me who you are. In fact”—she pushed a piece of paper at me—“write down your birth date and place, and I’ll run a chart for you later. That will give me a good idea of your personality traits. But I also want to know about your life experiences.”
I blinked at her. I had spent the last few days practicing “interviewing skills,” but none of them had included an interpretation of my astrological chart. I fought down the giggle that was rising in my throat and tried to reorganize my thoughts as I obediently wrote down the information. While I did that she talked about the other employees, when they had come to her, and how much she loved each and every one of them.
“Well, I’m not sure what you want to know.” She paused and I hastily went on before she could start talking again. “I got married right out of high school but it didn’t end well. I never went to college, but I’ve tried lots of different kinds of jobs. I guess I haven’t found the right thing yet. I want something that will be fun and give me a chance to meet lots of people. I’m very social.” I ran out of things to say and was happy when she jumped in.
“What are your spiritual beliefs and political leanings?”
I stopped myself from pointing out that I was pretty sure that was an illegal question to ask in a job interview and instead said, “I don’t really believe in organized religion and I’m not particularly political. I’m curious about paganism but haven’t ever been involved in it.”
She nodded again. “Are you kinky, poly, or gay? I assume you’re at least kinky, since you have a scene name.”
It occurred to me that my next job interview, wherever it was, was going to seem awfully tame after this. “I’m not gay,” I said, “although I do consider myself heteroflexible. I am kinky and poly.”
“Tell me about it.”
“Well…” I wasn’t used to discussing my lifestyle with strangers, but I knew she was at least familiar with the scene, if not an actual part of it, so I took a deep breath and plunged in. “I am in a Master/slave household. My master is Sir Rune, and I am one of two slaves.”
Geri nodded. “I think I’ve heard of him. I haven’t been very active in the community for a while, but I do still have a lot of contacts, and of course a lot of them shop here. What kind of play do you do?”
I wasn’t sure if the conversation was getting too personal or not, but I decided to go with it for the moment. She probably had a good reason to ask.
“Oh, general stuff,” I said. “Wax play, fire play, knife play, flogging, bondage, that kind of thing. I’ve been getting into puppy play, too.”
She raised her eyebrows. “Puppy play? I’m surprised. That’s mostly boys, isn’t it?”
I shrugged. “Maybe, but I like it.”
“Why? What is it about puppy play that you like?”
“I’m not sure,” I admitted, leaning forward in my chair. “I think it’s the fact that I don’t feel any pressure to be human, or talk, or even think, really, when I’m a puppy. It’s like letting out a whole other side of myself that needs to play. It’s very relaxing for me.”
“How did you get into the scene?” She scribbled some notes on a thick legal pad, but I couldn’t tell if she was writing comments on what I was saying or if her mind had gone off in a different direction and she was making a grocery list or something.
“After I left my husband, I took a break from relationships for a while. I toyed with the idea of dating only women.” I hoped if she was a lesbian she wouldn’t be offended. “I didn’t find anybody I felt compatible with, but one girl I dated introduced me to the scene, and it felt natural to me. We didn’t go out very long, but she told me about Fetlife, and I set up a profile, met Sir, and decided I wanted to move to Denver to make a new start.”
She didn’t say anything, looking totally absorbed in what she was writing. I wondered if she had even been listening to me. When she looked up, I couldn’t tell by her expression if she liked me or was going to call me a freak and tell me to leave.
“Tell me about the other slave in your household,” she said, as if that was a standard interview question.
“sage? She’s pretty cool.” I tried desperately to think how to describe her. “We grew up in the same small town in Michigan. She’s been living here for a long time, but she joined Sir and me about a year ago. We’re…really different, but we get along pretty well.”
“Different how?” Geri persisted. I wondered if she was going to ask about our sexual relationship.
“She’s more serious than I am,” I said, trying not to make it sound like an insult. “She and Sir are both really smart. I am more…” I didn’t know exactly what I was trying to say.
“Virgo?” she prompted, glancing down at my birth date.
I nodded, shrugging.
“I guess so. That’s probably why I like being a puppy; I can kind of get away from all of the…thinking.” I stopped, suddenly embarrassed.
She smiled and I felt my face get hot, wondering how much of an idiot I sounded like, and if she was laughing at me. Instead, she said, “If this were your store, what kinds of things would you sell?”
It took me completely by surprise. Why would she be asking for business advice from someone who had just admitted she wasn’t very smart?
But she was waiting for an answer, so I glanced out the window in her door that showed the sales floor and took a deep breath. “I like what you do sell,” I told her, “but if I was going to add things, I think I would bring in more fetish stuff, like collars and harnesses. And maybe costumes too, like puppy ears, tails…things like that.”
I shrugged a little lamely, but she nodded and made more notes. Neither of us said anything for a minute or two, then she stood up suddenly, still looking down at the mess of papers on her desk. I stood up, too. Should I offer to shake hands or just walk out? It had been a really odd interview, and she hadn’t even given any indication of what kind of person she was looking for. I had the impression I was just too freaky, and she was rethinking her comment about me being the first human to apply.
I was just about to turn and open the door when she said suddenly, “When can you start?”
I froze, not sure I’d heard her right. I debated asking her to repeat herself, but I thought that would make me seem like an idiot. Hope bubbled up inside me but I kept my face neutral in case she had muttered something completely different than I’d thought.
“How about tomorrow?” she asked, staring intently at the papers as if expecting them to sprout fangs and bite her. She seemed to be unaware that she hadn’t formally offered me a job, and I hadn’t accepted. We hadn’t talked about salary, or duties, or hours, or anything, and she was asking if I could start tomorrow?
“I guess so,” I said, and hastily added, “although I’ll have to ask Sir if it’s okay.”
She nodded, as if her employees always had to check with their masters before agreeing to their hours. “I’ll try to work with your schedule preferences as much as possible, if you can work with the 8
others on theirs,” she said in the most businesslike tone I’d heard her use. She rooted through several stacks of papers before finding a bright pink one that she handed to me. It was titled “Working at The Fringe Element.”
“Here,” she said. “I never remember all the details to tell people. If you have any questions after reading this, we can discuss them tomorrow when you’re filling out your forms. Welcome to our family.” And then, surprising me even further, she jumped up and raced around the desk. Throwing her arms around me, she hugged me ferociously.
“I feel like we’re going to be best friends,” she said as she let go of me, opened the door and swooped out of the room.
I stuck my head out and called after her, “What time tomorrow?”
“Ten, if you can make it,” she said, disappearing into a door in the back. “Or whatever time your sir can spare you.”
I shook my head as I gathered up my instruction sheet and purse and wandered toward the front door, absently touching the clothing on display as I went through the store. This was going to be an interesting experience.
Available at www.omnificpublishing.com
Reggie and Kasi Alexander are writing partners as well as real-life Master and slave. They live the lifestyles that they write about and are passionate about sharing information concerning these relationship dynamics. Their goal is to help educate and dispel common misunderstandings often held by the general public. They live in the Denver, CO area with their partner Eeza and are active in the local kink community. In addition to writing, they own and operate a family business making chainmail jewelry and clothing through their company Poly’s Pleasures (www.polyspleasures.com). They can often be found at writing conventions and fetish events around the country and love to talk with their fans.
- Saving sunni by Kasi Alexander and Reggie Alexander – REVIEW (kaitlinmichelle.com)