Oliver Lambert has taken his photography skills and run with them. By the time he’s thirty, he’s made a name for himself and now has jobs whenever he needs them. He likes to be behind the camera, watching the world through a safe lens, protected from actually engaging with it.
An unexpected referral takes him somewhere he never expected—a kinky fetish ranch in the Muskokas, where men pay to play pony and trainers teach them how to behave.
Adam Marsland needs a visual record of the Braided Crop Ranch and it’s been a while since the website photographs were updated. When he’s given Oliver’s name, he immediately hires the man to come for the summer session to immerse himself in the ranch and its activities.
Oliver is out of his depth, but the challenge of photographing the beautiful men at the BCR is something he can focus on. Safe behind the lens of his camera, Oliver finds the ranch to be seductive and shocking. He can’t help admitting a fascination for the people who make the Braided Crop Ranch what it is.
But just because he knows how to take a great photo doesn’t mean he’s prepared for everything he encounters, especially when it comes to a recalcitrant ponyboy named Puck.
Contains: voyeurism, second-hand embarrassment, awkward conversations, a very introverted photographer, and several surprising developments, along with all the regular kink and pony play elements.
Editing digital photos to make fruits and vegetables appear perfectly ripe, juicy, and seductive was not where I thought my life would end up.
When I’d chosen photography as the focus of my fine arts degree at the University of Waterloo in Southern Ontario, I had imagined somewhat more exciting subject matter. But most of my assignments these days involved long hours spent hunched on my elbows in the dirt, taking alluring shots of farm produce.
On my very fancy and expensive computer monitor, a ray of morning sunlight bounced off the red skin of a plump tomato. I’d tried several filters and a range of exposures to get it just right, but something wasn’t working.
I clicked on another set of tools and looked for a different approach. While I perused the list, my phone pinged from where it lay on the desk.
I glanced at the screen to see a text from an unknown number:
Mr. Lambert, is it OK if I give you a call in a few moments? My name is Adam Marsland. I was given your name and contact info by Jaden Stevenson. I’m looking for a photographer.
Since referrals had gotten me to where I was in my life at the moment—a recognized purveyor of outstanding photographic interpretations of reality—I texted Mr. Marsland back immediately.
Of course. Give me five minutes.
I input Adam Marsland as a contact and stood from my chair. My neck cracked when I stretched it to the side, and again when I repeated the motion in the other direction. I was only thirty years old, but sitting in one position for too long was bad for anyone. I reached my arms up and over my head, feeling the pull in my muscles.
Moving into the kitchen of my small condo on Toronto’s East Side, I grabbed a tumbler, pressed the button on my fridge for cold water, and watched the stream of liquid splash into the glass. It would be fortuitous if Mr. Marsland could offer me a contract for some images. I was booked up until mid-June but, after that, things looked a bit sparse.
I carried my drink to the living room window and gazed out on the city. Living on the fifteenth floor afforded me the luxury of a stunning view, even if the square footage was small. At least the finishes and upgrades in this unit were of the highest quality and done according to the latest trends. I’d been able to furnish the tiny apartment with quality pieces, like the Eames chair and a tan leather love seat from West Elm, since I didn’t need many.
When my ringtone sounded, I walked back to my desk, put the glass down, and pressed the answer button, remaining on my feet since I’d been sitting for the past hour and a half.
“Mr. Marsland,” I said.
“Mr. Lambert. Good afternoon. How are you today?”
“Fine, thanks. What can I do for you?” I asked, taking a sip from my glass.
Mr. Marsland cleared his throat, and I heard the click of a pen. “I’m hoping you can come to my ranch and take some photos for me. You come highly recommended.”
I smiled, because it was always nice to hear that. “Thanks. Jaden mentioned me?”
“Yes. He thinks you’d be perfect for what we need.”
“I’m pretty booked up at the moment. What time frame are we looking at?”
“I’d need you to spend part of the summer here, if you’re available, and interested. You’ll be compensated well and we can put you in a room at the main house during your stay.”
“I do have most of the summer free at the moment. Are you talking three weeks? Six?”
Papers rustled on Mr. Marsland’s end. “Six weeks. From mid-July to the end of August.”
I walked back to my computer and put the glass down beside it. “And I’d be photographing horses? Riders? The landscape, too, I suppose?”
There was a pause, and he laughed. “We’re not that kind of ranch, Mr. Lambert.”
I narrowed my eyes at the red tomato that had tortured me with its saucy round form all morning. Mr. Marsland’s comment intrigued me.
“Call me Oliver. And what exactly do you mean?”
“The name of my…business…is the Braided Crop Ranch. We’re really a club, of sorts, with a resort hotel on the premises.”
Hmm. “Oh. And you offer riding as part of the resort experience?”
Mr. Marsland laughed. “No. No riding. Only ponies.”
“I’m sorry. I’m a bit confused about—”
“We’re a fetish ranch, Oliver. Pony play. Human ponies. In leather harnesses and other…accoutrements.”
I blinked quickly, my eyes flitting from the tomato to the glass of water on my desk as my mouth went dry.
“Oh. I see.”
Holy… That was not where I thought this conversation was going. A fetish ranch? My mind conjured up bizarre images of people in horse costumes. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that.
Adam laughed again. “Look, why don’t I text you the link to our website, where we have some older images, and you can call me back if you’re interested. And just text me a ‘No, thanks’ if you’re not.”
That…made sense. My mind reeled from the information but also honed in razor-sharp on the fact that this would be a very different assignment from anything I’d done in the past.
“All right. That sounds fine.”
“I hope to hear from you within the next hour. But if I don’t, no harm, no foul. What we’d be looking for are updated, artistic images for the website and our brochures—maybe a selection of shots to sell in our gift shop. Have a look, and if you think you can work with us, call me back. At any rate, it was great to speak with you, Oliver.”
“Same, Mr. Marsland.”
“Okay. Thanks, Adam. I’ve got your text, so I’ll have a look.”
“Excellent. Hope to speak to you soon.”
I closed the call and clicked the link in the text from Adam. My browser opened, and a “Welcome” page loaded.
The Braided Crop Ranch scrolled in elegant but readable script overtop an idyllic scene of what looked like a regular farmhouse and barns in a woodland setting. Then a warning window popped up, informing me I had to be eighteen or older to enter the site.
Hmm. Well, I was thirty, so I clicked it.
Welcome to the Braided Crop Ranch.
A fetish farm for pony play enthusiasts…
They have published many other books, one of which (Beyond the Edge) received an Honorable Mention from the National Leather Association–International for excellence in SM/Leather/Fetish writing.
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