BONDS Two: Claim

“Ready for takeoff, Genius,” she said.
Julien nodded then swiped the hologram aside. “Prototype. Dozens of bugs to work out. Hundreds, really. Interacting with it is more difficult than it should be.”
“Jesus,” Kennedy said.
“Frustrating as hell that it won’t behave the way I want it to. I’ve got Grant working on it.”
Nonstop, Kennedy guessed.
Julien drained his whiskey before standing. “I’ll see you at Karyn’s opening next Friday night?”
“Like you said, no one can resist my little sister.”

* * * *

From the vantage point of the second-story balcony, Kennedy cupped the railing and looked down at the vast warehouse floor. Because of his schedule, he rarely served as a Dungeon Monitor at his friend’s BDSM club but tonight was The Hub’s fifth anniversary, and Alma Heaton had planned a spectacular celebration.
When he’d told her that he would prefer to attend as a guest, she’d told him that was impossible. Over two hundred people had RSVP’d, and she needed experienced help, especially since many attendees would be first-time visitors and tonight, not everyone would have a sponsor.
To entice him, she’d offered him use of The Hub for a private event. He’d still refused. It wasn’t until she’d begged in her most pleading tone that he’d capitulated. More than anything, Kennedy loved hearing women beg for what they wanted.
He would have eventually agreed. Though he’d never tell her, he’d always had a weak spot for the curvy blonde. Years ago, they’d dated and occasionally played together. Even though they’d failed as a couple, they’d remained friends.
The Hub was housed in a massive three-story building that stood grandly in Boston’s warehouse district. More than a hundred years ago, the building had reputedly hosted bare-knuckled brawls. The concrete floor on the building’s main level had been acid-washed, giving it a swirled, garnet color, depth and style. Overhead, decaying massive beams had been replaced, and they also accommodated Alma’s structural changes. She’d left the wood exposed, and a recent magazine article had said they added architectural interest. A polished wood and wrought iron staircase that wound its way to a landing before continuing toward the second-story balcony. Brick interior walls lent an authentic, industrial feel to the space.
For tonight’s anniversary celebration, Alma had ordered that the first floor be one big, open play space. Often she had partitions installed to allow participants a semblance of privacy but since a record crowd was expected, she’d said it would be easier to keep an eye on things if there were fewer places for people to hide. She’d even ordered all of the curtains to be opened.