1912 in front of me, Master just behind. My heart is full, which is more than I can say for my stomach. I vaguely remember grabbing a soggy chicken salad sandwich at Sea-Tac…what? Seven hours ago? I’m too tired to calculate time zone changes.
It hardly matters anyway; the wildly alluring aroma seeping from the Tao bag has been taunting both of us the whole way home. It’s a wonder we didn’t attack at least the Singapore Mei Fun in the close quarters of the taxi or the elevator. Master pre-ordered all our favorites and we stopped by on our way home from the Four Seasons to pick it up, minus one pair of nylons and a wild crop of pubic hair.
Master leans my suitcase against the wall and sets down the shiny black bag, then surprises me by handing me his key. “Open the door,” he commands.
“Okay, M—” My words evaporate as soon as the knob turns in my hand and I’m scooped right off my feet.
“Welcome home, Isabella.”
Master kicks the door open with his heel and carries me over the threshold, just as he did the very first night we spent here together. I’m woozy with the overpowering sense of returning home, weightless in his arms, no less. He stops just inside and kisses me gently and slowly, the opposite of the urgent joining in the hotel bar.
For one brief, wondrous flash, I imagine quite a different scene: Edward gorgeously disheveled in his elegant tuxedo, top buttons undone, bowtie dangling from his collar, after an exhausting but dizzying night of wedding vows and first dances. In this picture, I’m wearing an ankle-length, strapless ivory gown, my updo weeping around the edges, a bride awaiting the singular pleasure of her wedding night with all the sweet anticipation of a young virgin.
The vision feels simultaneously exhilarating and absolutely natural, and a warm sense of peace settles around me like a soft blanket. Master moves his lips to my chin, my cheek, my ear, nibbling gently and murmuring sweet affirmations of his love. I close my eyes and bask in the warmth of his boundless affection. Expecting to be set down on my feet, I’m surprised when he spins me over to the small table and simply says, “Purse.”
With a tiny grin, I drop my bag.
He carries me toward the couch. “Shoes.” I smile at the twinkle in his eye and kick off my pumps next to the coffee table.
“Am I going to brush my teeth next, Master?” I ask, replaying the sequence of his confession last night.
“Not yet,” he answers gruffly, settling on me one of his famous intense gazes. “I just want to taste you.”
Master walks us back to the guest room, keeping his promise to continue tasting me, and slides me gently to my feet. There in the doorway, he peels off his leather jacket and tosses it to the floor, then starts unbuttoning his shirt. I stand awkwardly waiting, completely dressed and cloaked in my winter outerwear. Master’s pecs flex and roll as he reveals his chest, then his tight abs, beautiful shoulders and muscular arms. He smirks at my curious expression, enjoying that I have no idea what’s going on. I don’t know if he’s going to continue with his pants now or start on me next.
What I am definitely not expecting is being handed his shirt and commanded, “Come out and stand by the couch in this—just this—and your bracelet. I don’t have time to re-collar you before dinner. Master is very hungry. You have three minutes.”
“Yes, Master,” I answer, pleased that we’ll be eating soon. Or at least, he will.
He leans forward and kisses me once more, a quick farewell-for-now peck on the lips, and before leaving me there, he adds, “No talking, princess.”
So much better. She fills my black-and-white world with color simply by walking through the door, or rather, allowing me to carry her. Wow, Edward, what was all that bridal-threshold stuff, eh? There’s no way she didn’t feel it, too.
I don’t have time to ponder the mysteries of my domestication right now; if I don’t get some food soon, Master is going to be a cranky beast, and that’s not going to work. Tossing aside my work pants and shoes, I pull on Master’s cargos, loading the pockets hastily with props for the scene. Banging around in the kitchen, I find two wine glasses and a pile of napkins. The chilled Chablis awaits at the back of the fridge, and I’m just pulling the cork through the neck when in walks Isabella in my button-down. And it’s buttoned, dammit.
She moves to the couch sullenly and I realize she’d like to help, but she’s not allowed to ask. Silence truly is golden.
Meeting her at the coffee table, I set down the glasses and pour wine into both. “I know,” I answer her unasked question. “Master is going crazy tonight, right? Here, have a drink, princess. I mean, take a few sips, you don’t have to guzzle it this time. Sheesh, you’re probably worried I’m gonna pull out the piercing gun next.”
Her eyes widen, and I chuckle and kiss her. “Come on. Trust. And unbutton that shirt while I get our things from the hallway.” I beat it to the door, wheeling in her clothes and grabbing the bag of food that miraculously has not been stolen. I sink down into the couch and start pulling the distinctive black origami boxes from the bag. “I bet you’re hungry, aren’t you, princess?” I look up and she nods. “Don’t worry, sweetheart. This isn’t going to be one of those nights you have to watch me eat first. C’mere.”
I scoot back against the corner and make room for her between my legs. “Grab us a box and a pair of chopsticks.” She worries for a moment that we’re playing Russian Roulette, but honestly, every single box is pure goodness. She leans forward to pick one and I admire the way my shirt slides up the back of her long, muscular legs; I know it never looked that good on me.
“Good choice, princess.” I open my arms and she settles her bare bottom between my open thighs. My cock, wise creature that he is, takes notice of the delicious contact. “Here, first bite’s yours. That should show you how much I’ve missed you,” I say, pinching a significant portion of beef and broccoli between the wooden lengths and directing it into her mouth, then repeating the motion and feeding myself. “Mmm, want another?”
She nods, and I settle her back against my chest and provide her with another mouthful.
“Pick another box, anything you like.”
She slithers out of my grasp and peeks in a couple boxes this time, settling on the Singapore noodles, her favorite.
“Here you go, sweetheart.” She finally relaxes with a generous bite of noodles in her mouth, and I nuzzle her ear with my nose while she chews.
“How about reaching your Master the Kung Pao Chicken?”
Isabella digs through the remaining three boxes and delivers both the chicken and the white rice, smart girl. “That was mighty thoughtful of you, sweetheart. Hmm, how’m I gonna get both at once? I guess I’ll just have some of this…” I mumble, shoveling the spicy diced chicken in after the rice.
Isabella begins to giggle, then immediately claps her hand over her mouth.
I swallow quickly and assure her, “I said you couldn’t talk, I didn’t say you had to be quiet. I love hearing you laugh. And in a few minutes, I’m going to love hearing you scream and moan. More noodles?”
She blinks at me a couple times, shell-shocked, then nods slowly. I deliver another portion onto her waiting tongue. “Beef and broccoli, please.”
She obliges, naturally, and I leer at the curve of her naked ass under the tail of my shirt as she bends over the table. I exercise an entire week’s worth of self-control, leaving all that uncovered skin alone. She hands me the box and I tap the cushion between my legs. “You don’t expect me to eat without having you between my legs?”
She settles back in obediently, and I hand her the box. “I need you to hold this for me, princess,” I explain, pinching my next serving between the chopsticks with one hand and her puckered nipple with the other. She gasps in surprise. “Would you like some of this?”
She nods yes and I serve her while I roll and flick at her nipple. “Ah, dinner and a show. I love New York.”
She bursts out laughing, chucking some unchewed broccoli out of her mouth and onto my pant leg. “Uh-oh. Clean up on leg one.”
This doesn’t help her situation, and she coughs and sputters while she catches her breath. “Sorry, honey, here. Have some wine.”
I obligingly hand her the glass and she downs half of it. “Better?”
She shakes her head.
“Nah, I had a feeling. Okay, let me have that Wasabi filet. Hot stuff coming through, watch those nipples.”
She turns back to check out my expression, recalling the wasabi nipple treatment, no doubt.
“No punishments tonight, princess. I already promised.”
The beef is spicy and I take a healthy pull on my own wine glass, covering for the fact that my eyes are teary. Enough food… for now, anyway.
“Last chance, princess.”
She shakes her head no, and I have her get up and put the leftovers away, immensely enjoying watching her walk back and forth in my shirt, rolled sleeves and all. She finishes her task and returns to the back of the couch.
No punishments tonight, princess. I hold onto that thought as I lean over the back of the couch and pick the broccoli off his pants.
“What are you gonna do with that?” he asks with an amused grin.
I shrug, because I have no idea.
“Why not save yourself a trip to the sink and swallow it?”
Without giving it another thought, I pop the broccoli floret into my mouth and swallow. Hey, I’ve swallowed a lot worse, and it’s well worth it to see the look on Master’s face. I love surprising him more than almost anything.
“Would you like some wine with your dessert?” he asks, cocky grin and all.
I nod my head yes and he refills my glass, taking more for himself as well.
“Okay, princess, I need you back between my legs.”
I shudder at his command because it’s no longer about eating, and settle into the warmth of his body.
“Scoot down so your head is in my lap and clasp your wrists around my back.”
A chill trickles down my spine as I obey.
“That’s perfect,” his upside-down face says, bent over mine. “You’re on the honor system tonight. I’m not binding or handcuffing you back here,” he says, reaching behind him to my clasped hands. “Make me proud, princess.”
Master runs his fingers along the open edges of the shirt, then pushes outward on both sides, leaving me entirely vulnerable. “How’s your pussy feeling?”
I blink up at him, unable to answer.
“Oopsie, sorry. Let’s see,” he says playfully. “Blink once if you’re ready for anything, twice if it feels like a bad sunburn, and three times if you want to rip that fire extinguisher off the wall and douse yourself in CO2.”
I blink twice.
“Good,” he says, pulling things I can’t see from his pockets. Damn those cargoes and all their blessed pockets. “So you know my father’s a doctor, right? There’s this thing he used to do when I was a kid. Every time I’d get hurt, say I’d sprain an ankle or something, he’d step on the other foot, then ask, ‘How’s that ankle?’ So I kind of grew up thinking this was standard doctor behavior, until I realized he was just being a dad.”
Master smiles at the memory, but I’m starting to see where this is going, so I don’t necessarily appreciate the humor.
“Ah, I see you’re not a fan of Diversionary Medicine. Well, no matter. Here we go, Isabella,” he warns, just before twisting my right nipple and tightening a clamp around the stiff nub.
“Ayyyyyeee!” I scream, suddenly feeling very betrayed that this is what Master meant by screaming and moaning.
“Good girl,” he says, nodding and preparing the other side. The second one always hurts more because I know it’s coming, and this time is no exception. My hips fly off the couch and I squeal even louder. Through it all, I grasp my hands together tightly around Master’s back, though I’m dying to soothe my sore nipples. Master watches in fascination while I writhe and squirm and my body buckles and lengthens again like a broken inchworm.
“It’s easier if you stop fighting, you know,” he observes calmly.
I catch his eyes and find my center. Blowing out several deep breaths, I relax back to the couch. He’s right, the pain is totally manageable when I have control of myself. His wide, proud smile is everything.
“And now, for your reward.”
Master brandishes the long blue feather and waves it through the air just over my nipples. The soft rush of air is soothing, but it’s the tingle of the tiny velvety fronds I desperately need. Knowing better than to lift, I wait patiently until Master has mercy on me and finally brushes the feather over my poor captured nipples. I moan loud and low, a wail of both relief and pent-up desire.
“Better hold tight to those wrists, princess. This might tickle just a bit,” he cautions, a mad gleam in his eyes as he sweeps the feather into my arm pit, causing me to squeal and giggle and tip to the right, but not let go. Then, down he goes, sweeping over my abdomen, teasing at the top of my bikini line.
“Aaaahhhhhhhhhh,” I whimper, pinning my hips against the couch with all my might.
Master chuckles. “So the clamps worked then? Sounds like that pussy is feeling better already?”
I regard him with deep desperation in my eyes. “Oh shucks. I did it again, didn’t I? Okay, let me see, blink once if you don’t want me to touch you again down there, and twice for more tickles.”
I blink once and it surprises neither of us when I follow it immediately with a second.
“Spread your legs, princess. Let me see that pretty, bald pussy.”
Oh god oh god oh god oh god. Clamped and spread and holding on to Master for dear life, metaphorically and literally. If I were allowed to speak, I’d be begging for all I’m worth right now.
“Here you go, sweetheart. Enjoy.” Master props his elbow on the back of the couch and supports his head in his hand, settling in for a close look. He moves the feather back and forth, across my nipples, down my belly, and over my tender flesh.
Her head is doing a number on my crotch and I shimmy up a bit, forgetting for a moment we’re attached. The feather skims back and forth over her torso. It doesn’t take much; she is really on edge. I can’t even imagine how sensitive she must be right now, but I can see that I’m giving her a great deal of pleasure. I release my head for a second to jiggle the nipple clamps, drawing a low groan from Isabella, which I match with increased stimulation on the other end.
“Do you want to come for me, baby?” I ask, because I’m not really sure if she can.
She nods enthusiastically, her eyes pleading for permission.
“Lift up so I can see you.”
She instantly lifts her hips off the couch and quakes with tension.
“Aww, you sweet thing. Let go, Isabella. Let it all out.” I shake the feather over her, gently soothing everywhere she was tortured earlier. Her hips start pumping and her breathing gets shallow and quick. An involuntary wail rises while her head thrashes wildly back and forth, and I finally have to reach down and cup the back of her head in my hand so she doesn’t damage the family jewels. She stretches again and again for contact with the soft caress of the feather, a delicious dry hump with the frothiest tips of the instrument. Isabella has quickly promoted this feather to a place of honor on Master’s shelf; I’ve simply never had a submissive who craves such a soft touch. It’s a challenge and a delight for me to set her off so spectacularly with such little contact.
As she relaxes back to the couch, I continue to sweep her skin ever so lightly with the feather, leaving a gratifying trail of goose bumps in its wake. While she’s still riding her endorphin high, I remove the clamps one at a time and soothe her aching nipples with my mouth, punctuating the moment with a sideways kiss on her lips, the best I can manage at this awkward angle.
Isabella smiles up at me, her beautiful, blissed-out, grateful smile, then jiggles her head gently against my crotch with a question in her eyes. She wants to take care of me again.
“You’re lucky I said no punishment tonight, or that would earn you a spanking,” I scold with all the force of someone claiming, “You shouldn’t have,” after receiving the most thoughtful gift. She looks appropriately chastised, and I add, “Not that I don’t appreciate the sentiment, but I can’t have you running the show, now can I?”
She shakes her head no, and my balls have had all they can handle. “Let go of your wrists please,” I instruct, lifting her head-first out of my lap and palming my pained apparatus with an audible sigh of relief. She looks a bit startled and once she realizes my situation, she’s instantly contrite. I can tell she is just itching to apologize, and I’m pleased, once again, to have rendered her speechless.
Still, I’ve held her words at bay for long enough.I slide Isabella onto my lap and lovingly button the middle two buttons of her shirt while she looks on passively.
“After you kiss me, you may speak again,” I inform her, and a slow smile breaks on her lips. I’m not sure whether she’s more pleased about the kiss or speaking, but if she’s happy, I’m happy. And when she kisses me, I know we’re both a great deal happier. She takes full advantage of her free hands, my bare chest, and the measly layer of cotton/polyester blend separating my pained cock from her naked ass. It’s a bone crusher of a kiss, and what I’d planned to use as the scene closer threatens to rile Master anew. It seems my sweet subbie is in no hurry for conversation after all, as her fingers dance across my chest and squeeze their way across my shoulders and all along my arms. She regrips with her lips as she squirms in my lap and her fingers find their way into my hair as she digs and pulls and possibly works out some of her residual aggression from Master’s surprise destination earlier.
Finally, I have to stop her because the activity below can’t conclude the way I want; as for what’s happening up top, I don’t want to end up bald. I break off the kiss and chuckle at her little mewl of disappointment when I detach her hands from my head.
“I think there’s been enough hair removal for one day, don’t you?”
“Hmm, I don’t know,” she answers breezily, finding a couple stray chest hairs to tug on.
“Ouch!” I complain, sending her into a fit of laughter.
“I just had my rectum depilated and you’re complaining about a little chest hair?”
She seizes one of the hairs this time and pulls it clean out. “Owwwwwwwwwwwwch!” I yelp, trapping her hand against my body. Fortunately, it’s the hand I need, the one wearing Master’s bracelet, which I open and slip off her wrist. “I love you, Isabella, and this scene is so over.”
Her eyes widen as she realizes that she is now dealing with her boyfriend, and all bets about consequences are off.
An hour and a massive boyfriend tackle later, my toothbrush is in its rightful place next to Edward’s, and empty Chinese food boxes litter his nightstand.
“Good thing you had that fruit yesterday,” I tease as I slide under the covers.
Edward is lounging on his side, left arm extended under his pillow while his right hand feels its way to my hip. “I was girding my loins for your return.”
“Looks like my loins were the ones that needed girding.”
His hand skims along my hip bone and he teases, “Yeah, maybe we should get you a girdle.”
“God, talk about medieval torture…seriously. Ever tried on any of those hideous devices?”
“Uh…no. But speaking of medieval torture,” he starts, skillfully directing the conversation to my HEA chapter. “That was quite the scene you concocted there for your princess.”
I knew this would be difficult, and I’m sure it’s no accident that he’s chosen to conduct this talk in a darkened room. Now he smooths the hair away from my face and tucks it behind my ear, and softly says, “Did you really think you needed that disclaimer in your email?”
“Not really. But after that chat scene, I guess…I just felt it was worth mentioning.”
He moves even closer. I can feel the hairs on his legs tickle against my skin, and his words make soft puffs of air on my cheeks. “The chat room is like your writing, two places where you can let your fantasies run free and not worry about repercussions. You sign out of that room and you’re done with those people, unless you choose to find each other again. Same with your writing. Your princess can totally get her kink on and you don’t have to endure the pain.”
“I gotta tell you, I am not at all into real pain,” I interject.
“No shit,” he answers, chuckling. “And just for the record, I am not at all into sharing.”
“Oh my god, that was craziness! That guy…You…will…obey! Eeeks! What’d you think of him?”
Low chuckle. “I think he made you hot.”
True. And I haven’t forgotten that Master watched my response on camera. “Okay, but what about you?”
“I’m not into men.”
“That’s not an answer. You’re attracted to power.”
He drops his lips to my throat. “Mmhmm.”
“So, did it turn you on that he was…you know.”
Seriously? I can’t say it?
It just feels so strange to acknowledge what was semi-real. What does “real” even mean any more? Real people in a virtual space? Real master in a made-up role play? Who am I? Who are we? Does it even matter?
“Spanking you?” he mumbles into my neck, drawing me back to the delicious memory.
“Well, sorta, yeah.”
His nose skims my ear and his warm breath tickles the tiny hairs on my neck. “Yeah, Isabella. It turned me on.”
His admission electrifies me. I love how easily he owns up to what turns him on, and I really like knowing what those things are.
“All those other people touching me, too?”
“Sure,” he admits easily, running his lips up and down my throat.
“What about that kiss?” I ask, suddenly troubled recalling the overly intimate moment with a stranger. Did Master enjoy that too much for my liking? “That guy’s tongue in my mouth?”
He stops kissing me and fills my limited field of vision with his face. “I stopped enjoying it the moment you yellowed. But if you would’ve been into it, it would’ve worked for me.”
I cup his cheek with my hand. “But just the fantasy version, right?” I confirm, now needing to hear him clarify.
His reassurance begins with a very sudden, very convincing kiss. “Of course. Isabella, I would never”…kiss… “ever”…kiss… “let anyone see you”…kiss… “touch you”… kiss… “kiss you”… longer kiss… “or command you. Not even something as innocuous as opening a door. You are mine, and I cherish you. Those people in the room are props, extensions of me, same as my feather. One more thing to get you going. That is all.”
I drop my face onto his chest and the anxiety I must’ve been holding onto drains right out of me.
“Hey, hey, shh shhh,” he soothes, cradling my head against his skin. “Why didn’t you tell me the other night you were concerned about this?”
“I didn’t think I was,” I sputter. “I guess, in a weird way, knowing that it …does it for you, too…I just jumped to how you might want it in person, and I could NEVER—”
Big, slurpy sniff.
“No, sweetheart. No. Never. I promise I don’t want that either.”
“You don’t?” I lift my head to gauge his response.
And when he answers, there’s not a shadow of a doubt left in my mind. “No way. The only person I want to share anything with is you. Okay?”
Sniff, sniff. “Okay.”
He watches me for a long moment, rubbing his thumb across my chin as he ruminates in the dimly lit space whether I’m over this. “Maybe I’ve been pushing the public stuff too hard…”
“No,” I insist. “Please. Shit. No, I hate it when you do that.”
Crap, now I’ve upset him.
“It’s late,” I respond, not wanting to delve into such heavy topics at this hour.
“I’m wide awake,” she says firmly.
I push myself up to sitting against the sturdy headboard and she does the same, pulling the comforter up and tucking it under her arms. Girding her loins.
I sigh heavily, unsure how she’ll receive my thoughts, but it’s clear she wants to hash this out. Right now. And frankly, if we don’t work it out, I’m going to have to reschedule Marcus.
“Do you remember when we talked about finding you a mentor?”
“Well, this is exactly the kind of thing your mentor could help you process. Because clearly…”
Fuck, because clearly I’m not doing the job myself.
Cut the shit, Edward. I can’t afford to throw myself this little pity party, and I know better than to be so cocky as to think I could be everything to her.
I settle on, “You need someone who can be objective.”
“But I honestly don’t want you to change course. I don’t want you to…go soft on me. I really needed to hear you say you weren’t disappointed in me for not wanting that.”
“And I need to know that you believe me when I say I am anything but disappointed. And I’m so fucking proud of you for letting me know at the time that I had reached your limit. That’s exactly what allows me to not go soft.”
“Okay.” She smiles, and the moonlight peeking through the edge of the blinds picks up the whites of her teeth.
“Okay,” I repeat, letting out a big rush of air.
“So how is the mentor search going anyway?” she asks, slipping back down to her pillow.
“It’s going.” I’m not ready to have this conversation yet. I need to see how they interact in person first, and I don’t want to poison the well. Leaning over to the alarm, I ask, “What time do you want me to set this for?”
“Well, I was kind of thinking maybe we’d walk in together tomorrow.”
My head whips over my shoulder. No way she just randomly came out with the idea. “Why?”
She’s got her back to me. Mysterious. “Don’t you like to walk?”
“Sure, but I like to ride, too, if it’s what you need.”
“Edward, it’s a mile and a half. I don’t need to ride.”
“What about your shoes?”
“I do own boots, you know.”
Mmm, I like the sound of that. “Sexy boots? The ones you wore to brunch?”
“No, goofball. Snow boots. The kind that can get all slushy. The kind I can walk a stinkin’ fifteen blocks in without melting.”
“Will you let me carry your shoes?”
“Sure, if it makes you happy.”
“It would make me insanely happy.”
“It’s settled then. Set the alarm for 7:30. I don’t need to be there at the crack of dawn. How about you?”
“I’m fine with that. What about Domenic? How do we get in touch with him?”
“I already told him we wouldn’t be requiring his services tomorrow.”
She what now?
“You sneaky girl, you.” I finish with the alarm and shimmy up behind her, pressing my chest to her back, pulling her hips into my makeshift lap, and burying my face in her long, soft hair that I missed so much.
Met with an unfamiliar scent, I recoil.
“What’s wrong?” Isabella asks, tipping her face up from the bed.
“This shampoo is too fruity,” I accuse her, grumbling out my disappointment like a boy who realizes his dead goldfish has been replaced by an imposter. I twist every last hair into one big bundle and set it over her shoulder. My nose finds its way to her neck, where the body wash from the spa wafts into my lungs. “Too herbal.”
She reaches her hand around and cups the back of my head. “Aww, my poor baby bear.”
Sliding my hand over her shoulder, I reach for a body part I can trust to respond predictably to my touch. I find the satiny skin of her breast and her nipple puckers between my fingers. “Ahhhh.” Bliss. “This one is juuuuust right.”
Seconds later, two size nine icicles are pressed against my shins. I protest with a low growl and Isabella fills the room with her soft giggles.