Master of Submission [Masters of Submission 1]By: Jan Bowles
Emma Parkes pushed open the front door of her friend’s apartment, and called out, “Chloe, are you there?”
No answer. The only sign of life was the Boston skyline twinkling brightly in the huge glass windows.
Worried now, she dropped her suitcase inside and closed the door behind her. What had happened to her best friend? Chloe had telephoned five days ago, excitedly telling her that she was going to spend the weekend with a guy she’d just met. She told her she’d be out of circulation for a while, as hot sex was the only thing on the menu.
“Are you mad? Going away with a chap you hardly know. Please be careful, Chloe,” she warned.
Her best friend had laughed down the line. “It’s just some harmless fun. You remember fun, don’t you, Emma? The kind we used to have when we were at Oxford University together.”
Emma knew exactly what she meant. While studying law together at Oxford, her newfound American friend was always trying to lead her astray, encouraging her to stretch her horizons and boundaries. Chloe had always been extreme in everything she did. Even down to the type of men she dated.
Emma caught her worried frown in the mirror as she tentatively looked around the empty apartment. Her friend was nowhere to be seen. At least Chloe wasn’t lying dead on the bathroom floor, as she’d imagined on the twenty-minute cab ride over here. That was a relief, nothing unpleasant to report so far. Emma took a deep breath and reined in her emotions. Surely there was a simple explanation why Chloe hadn’t picked her up from Logan International Airport, as she’d promised.
She’d waited for over an hour, calling her friend’s landline and cell phone, over and over again. After an exhausting seven-hour flight from London Heathrow, all she wanted to do was sleep for a week, maybe more. Her body clock was still running on British time.
Well, first she’d have a bite to eat, and then rest for a while. Acclimatize herself to life on the Eastern Seaboard. After all, Chloe had told her, make yourself at home, honey. What’s yours is mine, and what’s mine is yours. It was an exciting and challenging time for them both. They were in the preliminary stages of setting up a small law firm together, right here in Boston. She shrugged resignedly, guessing her best friend would turn up soon enough, with graphic details of her sexual exploits.
One week later
With no news of Chloe, Emma stood staring up at the doors of the private fetish club, wondering whether to enter. She’d found reference to Club Submission when she’d accessed Chloe’s personal computer, looking for clues to her disappearance. Chloe was so trusting, she didn’t even have her computer password protected. Access to her private files had been child’s play. There were a number of messages from an unknown person simply calling himself Orion. The sexually explicit e-mails repeatedly asked for them to meet up at Club Submission. Knowing Chloe’s sexual preferences, she was in no doubt that the mysterious Orion was a man. Whoever Orion was, he was a persistent fellow, because he’d sent Chloe sixteen messages in a twenty-four hour period. She guessed her impulsive and naïvely trusting best friend had finally given in and met with the guy.
Emma had filed a missing person’s report with the police herself, just a few hours after arriving at her friend’s apartment. Both of Chloe’s parents were dead. They’d been killed in a horrific car crash in Maine when Chloe was just an impressionable teenager. The fatalities occurred just two days after Chloe’s fifteenth birthday. As an only child, with few real friends, it seemed that no one had even noticed that she’d disappeared off the face of the Earth.
The American police had entered Chloe’s personal details into the FBI’s database, along with her friend’s medical and dental records. They’d also asked for a recent photograph. It wasn’t against the law to go missing, in fact thousands of Americans deliberately disappeared each year—often to escape debt or abusive relationships. Most police agencies didn’t actively search for an individual—not unless the circumstances warranted it. In Chloe’s case the intriguing e-mail messages and her insistence that they find her best friend had finally made them sit up and take notice. She’d insisted they make further inquiries. They’d told her they’d sent an officer to check out Club Submission, but she wasn’t sure if she believed them or not. Until new information came to light, there was nothing more they could do. If Chloe were a child, it would have been a different matter. But as a thirty-year-old woman, the cops seemed completely uninterested.