Michele E. Gwynn
Enter the World of Checkpoint, Berlin...(Read the first Chapter FREE)
Desire leads to danger is this epic, steamy crime series. And it all begins with Exposed: The Education of Sarah Brown.
Award Winning Drama
"Strongly Recommended! If you like spicy hot reads with non-stop adventure and intrigue, immerse yourself in '[Exposed}The Education of Sarah Brown." ~ Lisa Ann S., NetGalley Reviewer
"I've read Exposed... twice now. I read it back to back, the way you'd listen to your favourite song. There's something about it - the pace,the throbbing tempo - that made it genuinely unputdownable to me." ~ Read Freely's Book of the Month Review (April 2020)
"HOT! Keeps you on your curled toes!" ~ DayReader Reviews
Prologue Berlin, Germany Fall, 2013 He was beautiful. Absolutely the embodiment of divine creation with his golden curls, blue eyes, and the promise of perfect cheekbones beneath a touch of what people refer to as lingering baby fat. It wasn’t fat, per se, but the roundness of youth on the boy’s face that would fade away in another year or so. At fourteen, he was angelic. Striking. One could almost see the bones stretching and growing like a young sapling that would one day be a mighty oak tree. For now, they lacked the musculature of a grown man. The limbs were long and the back straight. His blue eyes sparkled when he laughed and were fringed with thick, dark-blond lashes. His cheeks were painted naturally with two spots of color, and his lips, as they spread across his face with a hearty laugh, were lush and full. Even his teeth were pearly white. Perfection. The sight of him took the man’s breath away. The boy was tossing a ball to a young woman with red hair. She was older, a sister. Just as lovely and striking, but not so much as the boy. The man watched as the two played a game of catch in the park. He had come to this park every day in the last two weeks since he first sighted the glorious creature. On the third day, they returned with a Frisbee and a picnic lunch. He followed them that day as he did today. They left, and the man trailed them, walking far enough behind not to be noticed, casually swinging his cane as if enjoying an afternoon stroll. They lived in an old, faded yellow apartment building with too many units to discover which one was theirs. He waited. Two hours later, she left carrying a black duffel bag over her shoulder. He followed her for four blocks where she took the stairs down to the tube and hopped into a car that took them deep into the industrial center of the city. Tourists didn’t frequent this side of Berlin. Here, native Berliners came out to party at the clubs and to indulge themselves in the bars. Then there were the others who blended into the hip party crowd, but then slipped down back alley staircases to a world most didn’t know existed. That’s where she went now without hesitation. He waited, then followed. The staircase led to a steel door painted black. The logo at eye level was three large letters—XXX—painted red. Above those in bright neon yellow were the words ‘Club Sexo.’ He went inside and was greeted by a glass-enclosed ticket booth which contained a shirtless, dark-haired man wearing a leather collar decorated with metal studs sitting behind the counter. To the left was a door, but it was closed. “You have an appointment?” he asked. “No. No, I don’t.” The man stood there, looking at the list of club rules hanging on the wall behind the host inside the ticket booth. “You have to have an appointment.” Shirtless pointed at the rules behind him. Sure enough, that was rule number one. “How do I make an appointment?” the man asked. Shirtless gave an assessing glance to the man in the suit. He noted the gentleman dressed well; seemed distinguished, even, with his groomed white goatee and hair accented by dark eyebrows above cold blue eyes. His accent wasn’t quite German; more like Dutch. Still, he looked much like the caliber of men who came and went nightly. “You go online to this website.” He handed him a business card through the dip under the glass window. “Pick who you wish to see, whatever your particular thing is. All our dommes have bios that describe their specialties. We take all major credit cards, and you pay up front online before walking through that door. The charge shows up as CX3 LLC to protect your privacy. Once your appointment is made, you’ll receive a confirmation email or text, your choice, and you just show up. Oh, and no refunds.” “Thank you.” The man took the card and put it in his inside breast pocket. He tipped his hat and left. He made his way back to the UBahn in the quickly falling temperature and found the tube heading back toward the side of town where he was staying. Once back in his room, he shed his suit jacket and pulled the card out of his pocket. He set down his cap and cane next to the jacket. Sitting on the edge of his bed, he pulled out his mobile and surfed the internet for the website on the card. The splash page asked him if he was over eighteen and to press ‘Continue’ to indicate he was, and that he accepted the rules for the site. He chuckled to himself. Beyond the firewall was an ‘About Us’ section and an icon for ‘Our Talent.’ He tapped that key. Several images popped up of women in various bondage costumes looking alternately fierce and sexy. He found them amusing. Scrolling through, one image stood out. A red-haired woman in red lace bra and panties wearing thigh high red leather boots. She had a red leather riding crop in her hands and appeared to be smacking it on her palm suggestively. Mistress Elsa, it read. He tapped the image and her bio sprang up. Mistress Elsa is an experienced Domme in the art of bondage for beginners to professional submissives to include extreme roping. Mistress Elsa will bind you, beat you, and/or humiliate you. Your pain is her pleasure. Make your appointment today. The man smiled. He changed screens to NOTES and typed. Message saved, he put the card into his wallet and tossed it onto the bedside table. He thought about the boy and young woman. His thoughts went to dark places. Feeling edgy, he stood, picking up his jacket, swinging it over his shoulders, and sliding his arms in. He grabbed his cap and cane. Walking toward the door, he checked his breast pocket for his room key card. Satisfied it was there, he left. Out on the street, he turned right and headed toward the tube station. A ten-minute ride south and he was stepping onto the platform. He pulled his coat tighter around him. The night air was cool in September. Up the stairs and onto the street the wind met him head on. This was not a decent side of town. This was a slightly seedier area of Berlin right on the edge of the best tourist spots. Here, prostitutes plied their trade. Women from Eastern Europe ended up trapped in this lifestyle after being brought in by sex traffickers. Most were strung out on drugs. They looked dirty, ragged, and pathetic, old before their time, and used up. The man walked past these women in their platform heels and short bargain basement skirts as they called out to him. One block beyond he came upon a few young hustlers. Three of them. One was a tall, lean black boy with a shaved head. His shoulders were broad and his arms muscular. Not him. The second one had dark hair and a feminine stance. He smoked a cigarette while talking and gesturing wildly with his hands. Italian. No good. And too many facial piercings. The third one was more clean-cut with short blond hair. His jaw was squared, and he had a dimple in his chin. This one hadn’t quite yet filled out. His limbs were slim and well-formed, and he wasn’t overly tall, either. He appeared to be about seventeen, maybe eighteen. He would do. The man walked over and asked the blond male for a cigarette. The other two hustlers gave him the once-over, noting the quality cut of his clothing, their expressions envious. They waved at their friend and moved off, leaving him alone with the man. * * * Berlin, Germany Nighttime The temperature dropped as soon as the sun went down. Anthony de Luca walked around downtown, trying to capture the nightlife of the city on camera. The images would be part of an article he’d been contracted to write for an online tour guide about Berlin. He was being paid for the job, compensated for his hotel and expenditures, and they promised to promote his guidebooks. He was famous for unearthing the unusual about any city he photographed along with the normal tourist sites. With that in mind, he found himself on a side of town that wasn’t quite the best. Still, it was all part of Berlin. For fun, he’d photographed a few street walkers trying to lure in some business. They were bold, approaching cars as they slowed down to ogle the local ‘talent.’ As he aimed and clicked the shutter, he noticed a distinguished looking man walking quickly out of a back alley with a young blond man following behind. The blond walked fast and shouted at the man in the cap. He was speaking in rapid German, so Anthony had no idea what he was saying, but he seemed pissed. The blond reached out and grabbed the gentleman’s arm and tugged. That was when Anthony noticed the cane in the older man’s other hand. That cane came around and connected with the blond’s head—hard. Shocked, Anthony aimed his camera again, and began shooting picture after picture. The older man continued to strike the younger one on the head, back, shoulders, and legs just outside the alley. Bleeding now, the blond raised his arms to fend off the blows while trying to land a couple of weak punches. He wasn’t strong enough to defend himself against the older man. Two men came running, one black and the other white with dark hair, and chased off the older man. Anthony kept shooting. As he half-limped, half-ran away, the older gentleman looked around him. His eyes landed on Anthony standing across the street with the camera in his hands. The man’s panicked look changed to one of dark anger. “Shit!” Anthony turned and ran back toward the city center. He didn’t wait around to see whether the older man would follow him. The man did attempt to follow, but Anthony was soon swallowed up into the crowd, gone. The old gentleman stopped to catch his breath. He wasn’t worried that the blond hustler would report him to the police for not paying for play. He hadn’t intended not to pay him but discovered too late that he’d left his wallet in his room on the bedside table. No other way to deal with that situation since the deed was done, but someone else might report him to the police. Someone else with an expensive camera, who was not a prostitute trying to protect himself. Someone who was most likely legitimate. Someone who now had his image on film committing a crime. He’d have to leave Germany sooner than he planned. He’d have to leave that night; go before he could set up a meeting with Mistress Elsa. A sigh escaped his thin lips. As he pondered the situation, a Volkswagon with a familiar blue stripe and the word, POLIZEI, across the doors drove by, slowing down. The driver, a cop with hard, dark eyes and graying hair at his temples peered out, watching. Next to him, his partner, a woman, checked the road ahead, scanning the sidewalks. The man offered a brief smile and gave a slight nod of his head before continuing down the street at a leisurely pace. The police car made its way another block down before turning right and disappearing out of sight. The man exhaled, whipping a handkerchief out of his coat pocket and mopping his forehead. It was a close call, one he intended not to repeat. He hailed a taxi. A quick trip back to his hotel had him packed and off to Tegel within the hour. He had no time to spare. If the man with the camera had reported him to the Polizei, his image would be on an all-points bulletin shortly, and he’d be unable to get out of the country and back home. He’d find another way to gain what he wanted.
The flight was long—twelve hours and forty minutes long to be exact—and that didn’t include getting to the airport two and half hours early for an international flight. Thank God for being able to afford first class, thought Sarah. Otherwise, I might have never gotten any sleep. This was her very first transatlantic flight, first any-kind of flight. Despite the stress of the past several weeks, she was enjoying herself, even relaxing finally.
As the Boeing 747 flew her to a new chapter in her life, she reflected back over the last five years. Her mother, Mary, developed breast cancer, a condition she blamed on her husband’s animal lust, something she grew to believe, more as the years passed. She called such lust a sin against God outside the need for procreation. After her daughter, Sarah Ann Brown, was born, her mother found more reasons and ways to avoid intimacy with Ed Brown, eventually driving him to seeking sex elsewhere. Unfortunately, for Mary, this also led to Ed finding love, and eventually leaving her. Still, Mary would not grant him a divorce. Instead, she maintained all of the financial security of marriage without the benefit of a loving partner. Her fundamentalist mentality grew along with her bitterness, which she heaped upon her only child, Sarah.
For her part, the young blonde-haired, brown-eyed girl kept to herself, having few friends due to the embarrassment of having a mother who preached at them about their sinful ways. When others around her began dating, Sarah spent her time in the local library, reading. Anything to avoid being dragged off to the Church of Christ alongside her mother. It was there, she’d discovered romance novels. That was Sarah’s only introduction to relationships, and when she’d turned eighteen and could check out books from the adult section, her only education about sex.
After Mary’s diagnosis, she declined further, wrapping herself in scripture, and berating Sarah when her jeans were too tight, her skin showed below her neck, or when a young man happened to smile upon her while out.
“Cover yourself! I did not raise a slut to be a whore for Satan,” she would rant. This level of fanaticism seemed to increase after chemotherapy robbed Mary of her hair and what was left of her health.
A home-health nurse was hired by Ed to take care of his estranged wife, and only out of love for his daughter. He knew the burden the girl carried upon her young shoulders after he left. Guilt ate him up even as he selfishly stayed away, living with his new girlfriend, and starting a new family. Meanwhile, Sarah graduated high school in her hometown of Helotes, Texas, and while friends and classmates went on to college, she remained behind, going to work at the library she’d come to love and see as a haven from the ugliness that was her life.
Her days were spent working, and her nights, caring for her mother, who’d reached stage four in her cancer. Each morning, Sarah would rise, dress for the day, and then bathe her mother, dressing her, feeding her, and making sure she took her morning medication before Vangie arrived to take over her care for the day. Most days, her mother went off on a tangent, spewing bible verses, and reminding Sarah to remain chaste and pure. She still felt a little guilty over her relief when, after prolonged illness, Mary lost her ability to speak.
The silence was a blessing.
As her mother spent more time sleeping, Sarah stayed longer at the library after hours. Vangie knew the girl needed the break. It was there, within the quiet walls of the building, after her co-workers left for the day, that she would pick out a new book, and curl up into one of the overstuffed chairs. It was also there that she first explored her sexuality...
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