Sunday, March 30, 2014

Twenty-four

-------------------Twenty-four-----------------

Soul searching at three in the morning is never pretty. I’ve tossed and turned my sheets into an angry snarl, and I can’t entirely blame the late-night grease overdose. My eyes burn with the need for sleep, but every time I close them, I see Dane walking out of the restaurant, carrying more hurt than our four shoulders can bear.

He really didn’t read the fine print, goddammit, and I have to accept some responsibility for that. I admit I was eager for him to agree to the trial period—maybe too eager for Dane’s own good.

It’s not like you snuck something into the standard boilerplate agreement.

No, we had no exclusivity clauses. In theory, Dane is free to see another dom—though the chances of that are infinitesimal. At least, they were until last night. Now, there’s no telling what’s in his head.

FUCK!

Things were going so well, both in the dungeon and out. Dane’s armor was falling away quicker than I’d dared hope. I kind of loved the way he’d started teasing me. Have I pushed that Dane away for good?

What kind of man will I find at my door Wednesday night, if he even shows up? What kind of sub will grace my dungeon? How will he relax, knowing that someone else has shared the sacred space with me? What will happen to the trust we’ve accumulated? Have we lost everything that matters?

I flip to my left side, bunching the covers into my chest. Should I cancel my scene with Paul? What about my commitment to his master? Embry is an old friend, and this session has been on the calendar for a month.

This is purely business, so why do I feel like I’m cheating on Dane?

“Ughhh!” I fling my body the other way even though my alarm clock punctuates every wakeful minute with piercing blue light.

Maybe I should write Dane a message and try to explain.

Explain what, exactly?

That I care about him, and I know there’s so much more work we have to do together. That he’s special to me, and I don’t want to lose him. That I’m good for him.

And that might be the worst lie you tell yourself tonight, Marcus.

“I don’t feel so different right now.” His words are a thousand knives twisting in my gut. Sleep is not happening.

I throw the covers back and swing my feet to the carpeting. Like our post-theater-kiss exodus last night into the cold Manhattan streets, the chill on my nearly naked body is an unwelcome shock to my system. I stop in the closet to pull on sweatpants and a tee-shirt before plunging my feet into the warmth of my slippers and trudging on toward the bathroom. A quick leak, a perfunctory swipe with the toothbrush, a splash of cool water on my face, and my feet are carrying me downstairs.

It’s a fool’s mission; there is no way Dane has written already. If he’s up at this hour too, I’ll feel even more miserable. None of that stops me from slumping into my leather chair and jiggling the screen to life with the mouse. Somehow, I manage to be disappointed there’s nothing there.

The harsh reflection off the screen is too much for my bleary eyes. Pushing the keyboard out of the way, I drop my forehead into the nest of my folded arms.

Ding!

Huh?  Not my alarm . . . What’s . . . ? Oh.

My neck protests with a crack and a twinge, but screw all of that—Dane’s written! My heart takes off at a gallop, a saddled horse leaving the barn without its rider.

Focus, damn you!  I order my eyeballs. When they finally obey, I see that Dane’s message is woefully short, but at least it’s something.

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From: Dane Carmichael
Sent: Monday, January 7, 2013 7:13 AM
To: Marcus Andrews
Subject: Report

Good morning, Master. Last night’s sleep was difficult.

i regret not thanking You for dinner. Please do not think me unappreciative of Your generosity.

yours,
dane
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This is bad. Brief, self-incriminating, and completely devoid of anything personal.

Quite certain Dane’s sleep was not plagued by the omitted thank you, I ponder my response. Dane’s update is honest, if abridged. He deserves to lick his wounds like a man. While I respect his need to save face, I’d love to be able to help him through the pain so it won’t fester. I’m just not sure I hold that power right now.

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From: Marcus Andrews
Sent: Monday, January 7, 2013 7:23 AM
To: Dane Carmichael
Subject: Re: Report

From one restless sleeper to another, good morning to you, Dane. Your gratitude is understood, my boy. Please don’t give it another moment’s worry.

I’m very sorry to hear you suffered a rough night and even sorrier because I strongly suspect I’m the cause. I consider it my mission to reassure you that you ARE different—and completely separate—from the work I do.

Until then, please try to trust me on that.

Warmly,
Marcus
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Trust me. Do I even have the right to ask it of him? I force myself to start a pot of coffee in lieu of staring at the unresponsive screen. Paul is scheduled to arrive at nine, and I have some serious waking up to do. Caffeine is not going to mix productively with my racing heart, but I know I need something.

I’m just about to give up the wait and head for the shower when Dane’s response comes in. I find myself taking a deep, shaky breath before opening the email.

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From: Dane Carmichael
Sent: Monday, January 7, 2013 8:12 AM
To: Marcus Andrews
Subject: Re: Re: Report

i will do my very best for You, Master.

yours,
dane
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My heart sits in my throat as I type and send my response.

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From: Marcus Andrews
Sent: Monday, January 7, 2013 8:13 AM
To: Dane Carmichael
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Report
                        
My sweet boy, you always do.

Warmly,
Marcus
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Whereas Dane is lean and dark, the man bound naked to my whipping bench is a brawny dishwater blond. Physical characteristics aside, the two men could not be more different as submissives. Simply put, Paul is here because Embry lacks the objectivity to keep his boy in line. I admire Embry for being both wise enough to recognize his blind spot and courageous enough to allow someone else to take over.

I’ve been Embry’s second set of eyes—and extra set of whipping hands—for the length of their fifteen-month relationship. Paul visits my dungeon every three weeks; I give him what he needs and report back to Embry. When Embry suspects Paul needs the whip, he shows up at the end of our session to provide aftercare. Today is one of those days. Not that I couldn’t address Paul’s aftercare needs, but Embry is wise to recognize the intense bonding that often takes place after the submissive has reached that raw, vulnerable state. I’ll do my part and let Embry do his.

With the furniture moved back to its customary arrangement, the dungeon has an air of familiarity that has definitely been missing lately. Changing things up for Dane was something I’d cheerfully do for any submissive who needed something different, but there’s a certain comfort in warming up my whipping arm while I move Paul deep into submissive mode.

“Your Master suspects you’ve been acting up on purpose. Is that correct?”

Swish, crack! The whip snaps off the cement floor.

“Yes, Sir.”

I like Paul—and trust me, I do not like them all. He’s a zero bullshit guy. We have an understanding: no games. We both know he’s earned this whipping on purpose, that nothing else can truly take him where he needs to go, and that he craves the high he’s about to receive. If I do this right—and I will—Paul will have slaked the deep, dark thirst for the time being, and he’ll be able to move through the world with his soul at peace.

“Tell me your sins, Paul. Name them and I’ll see if you’re worthy of my lash.”

Swish, crack!

Paul releases a low moan at the sound of the whip he craves so badly. “I was a brat, Sir. I tried to top Master by provoking him.”

“Disrespect is a cardinal sin in the playroom.”

“Yes, sir.” His voice quivers as the anticipation builds.

“Brace yourself, Paul. This is going to hurt.”

“Yes, Sir.” Swish, Thud! “Ahh!!”

“Ask for another.”

“Please, Sir, may I have another?”

Swish, Thud!

His skin already bears the mark of my whip. Two long, red welts appear across his thighs.

“Please, Sir, may I have another?”

I raise the whip to his ass and strike him twice in quick succession. “What color are you, Paul?”

“I’m green, Sir. Thank you.”

This guy can take a beating. There’s a higher likelihood of my arm giving out than Paul safe -wording on me, and he never has. After all these months, I’m clear on his limits, but one never knows how the person bearing the whip is feeling on a given day. So I ask—repeatedly. He thanks me; I whip again in a new spot, marking him up for his Master; we continue.

If you are skilled in interpreting the Braille of the bleeding lines cut by the leather, you’ll see that they’re actually quite beautiful . . . if you are able to read satisfaction into the raised, bloody stripes crisscrossing his back, ass, and thighs . . .  if you know how Paul needs the beating in order to break free of the shackles that imprison his mind and heart.

We’re close to the end. Paul’s voice is failing, and all the tension has drained out of his pose. I thrash the whip twice more, but it’s Dane I see on the receiving end, helpless and silent.

“Thank you for my punishment, Sir,” Paul says, shaking me from my contemplation with his signal that he’s had enough. Honestly, I’m grateful I don’t need to strike him again.

I drop the whip and attend to the limp body trembling on my bench “You did well, Paul,” I soothe as I unbuckle his hands and feet and rub my palm across his unmarked shoulders.

“Thank you, Sir. Is Master here?”

“I’m sure he is. I’ll get him for you.”

I open the heavy dungeon door, arresting Embry’s pacing mid-step. “He’s fine,” I tell him. “He did well.”

“Thank you, Marcus.” Embry gives me a quick embrace and pushes past me into the dungeon. I turn back just before pulling the door closed. Embry’s bent to Paul’s ear, murmuring something loving, no doubt, while brushing hair off the man’s sweaty forehead. It’s a visual that brings tears to my eyes and Dane to my thoughts.

Hands appear on the coping, and Dane emerges head-first, dripping wet, flexing his arms to lift his torso from the water. He draws a breath and shakes his shaggy hair while lifting one knee to the pool’s edge. His nipples pull into tight buds as the cooler air smacks into his warm body. I watch with rapt fascination as his feet meet the tiles, pulling himself fully upright. He freezes for several moments—legs slightly spread, arms at his sides, head down—while the water puddles beneath him. His suit strains against the precious package bundled inside, and everything inside of me screams to get down there and rip that tiny scrap of fabric away and set him free. Dane lifts his eyes to the bleachers and instantly finds me. His broad, easy smile tells me he knew I was here all along, probably knows what I’m thinking about right now. He swam for me, and now he grows for me.

As I, apparently, have grown for him. Finding myself in great need of relief, I am basically fucked until Paul and Embry leave. I rush to my computer while telling myself I’m not. No message from Dane. Either he’s done a more thorough job blocking my day’s activities from his thoughts or he has nothing to say to me.

Bedtime cannot possibly come soon enough.


Poor Marcus, so very torn. Did he do the right thing keeping his appointment? What's Dane thinking? What are you thinking?

Thank you all for the lovely, caring messages after the previous chapter. Your love for these boys warms a girl's heart. In appreciation, I have posted a lovely collage of blue bikini Dane picspiration in my pumpkin patch on Facebook. If you're not in the patch and you'd like to be, find us here.

40 comments:

  1. *sighs* They can't possibly be back to square one - I'm confident M can make D understands that 1 thing is his 'job' and another is him searching for a relation of his own. In the midst of the mambo jambo that's Dane's emotional health that's going to require all his craftsmanship if I may say so pun intended ...

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    1. It seems that will take some masterful doing at this point, eh, Muse? Thank you for your sweet review and your love for these boys.
      xx

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  2. Marcus did do the right thing keeping his appointment. IMO, anyway. He has a job that others depend on him to do. The session with Paul was a release for Paul, not Marcus. We see that, hopefully Dane will be able to, too. At some point.
    These two are both disappointed. Plus, you see they were both so eager to come to an agreement that neither of them noticed the fine print. *sighs* I just want to hold them both.
    And what a yummy day dream. I hope it comes true!
    Xoxo <3

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    1. Your comment made me really stop and think about how Dane would want to view their sessions together. We know it bothers Dane when his Master doesn't have his own release. Would he possibly take that as some measure of distancing himself from Dane? Of viewing their scenes as "for Dane" in perhaps not a desirable way?

      I think you're right about both of them being disappointed--and I would add miserable. They really both want the same thing but they can't access it right now. :( SIGH.
      xx

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  3. Seeing Marcus at work punctuated the difference between his job and his relationship with Dane for me. While I'm sure that not all of the "business subs" are there for the same thing, the scene with Paul lacked the intimacy that each scene with Dane has. Dane has such emotional scars that I'm not sure if he'll be able to put it into perspective yet, but at some point, I think he'll see that there's no real pleasure for Marcus in his scenes with others in contrast to his scenes with Dane.

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    1. If only Dane could've been there to see the sharp contrast...
      xo

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  4. I'm fairly wordless this morning. I was hoping this beautiful story would transport me away from my mood this morning but, alas, I can find no relief. Whipping scenes are not my favorite. I do like the glimpse into Marcus' mind while doing his job. His mental torture over the dichotomy of work vs. fidelity to Dane is a somewhat curious one. I feel for Dane here as I am closer to his mindset than Marcus'. Still the way you write both makes it easy to empathize. Another satisfying chapter. Thank you.

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    1. I'm sorry my chapter didn't STRIKE you too well this morning, Judy. I really appreciate that you put yourself in there anyway and found a way to empathize with Marcus's situation, and despite your own personal limits or desires, you viewed the scene without passing judgment.Behind your very tactful comment, I sense your disappointment with how he's handling things. I love that you're still here. <3

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  5. I think you're awesome.

    I think Dane thinks he's not worthy enough to ask Marcus to stop what he does just for him.

    I think Marcus will need to continue working because he has needs that Dane might not be able to fill. Ie: physical punishment. But I also think if Marcus isn't in it for a sexual release Dane might just be okay with it.

    And lastly, I think Dane should watch Marcus work. Sometimes it's not so scary when you put a face to it.

    But, it would be nice if they could be everything each other needs.

    After all that thinking, I'm off to find my Advil. =)

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    1. a. Agreed. (just kidding, but thank you)
      b. Absolutely right on target there.
      c. Interesting...you got the sense that Marcus NEEDED to fill a need to punish someone there?
      d. That is a very interesting idea. I wonder if any of the subs (and/or their masters) would have a problem with that. Maybe like a doctor bringing in a med student to observe the exam. :P (never my favorite)
      e. Feel better soon and thank you so much for sharing!

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    2. Well, hell, when I first read the update, I did feel that Marcus NEEDED that type of release. Now that I've reread it, I'm second guessing myself. Hhmmm, I guess we need another session with the Master while at work.

      Also, we need to get Embry & Paul's asses out the door so our boy can be visited at the Y buy a certain Dom. JSJSJS

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    3. You think my little stalker is gonna go to the Y now? *wink*
      xx

      Delete
  6. It might sound strange, but I'm actually glad this came up early in the story.
    In every relationship we must face a few bumps along the road, otherwise it's not real and certainly not worth any emotional commitment. If everything a couple experiences together is sugar plums and rainbows the first sign of trouble can become the last one as well. Love grows not only in the light but also in shadows. Strength, trust, independence, self-worth, balance, peace, and many other good qualities we strive for are truly only achieved after we experience adversity. Most relationships realistically will go trough rough patches, but with every little or big battle won it will become deeper, truer and more meaningful.
    Marcus and Dane's relationship has the Dom-Sub extra "ingredient" to it, so a delicate balance must be achieve. I trust that they will be able to find a way to make things work. After all I believe Dane is not the only one that is changing, Marcus has being going through some emotional and personal growth as well.
    Maybe is time for some talk, compromises, and decisions.
    Thank you for this chapter and blessing :)
    Gigi

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    1. Gigi- you been peeking at my notes? *wink*
      Well said.
      x

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  7. Let me start by saying that the pain in both yesterday and today's updates is needed. I hope I didn't come across a whiner when I said it gutted me because that wasn't the case at all. We both know I can only take angst written a certain way and you've always done it right so I find myself oddly excited by these heart wrenching chapters. This sort of conflict is needed for them both, though Dane's been through his fair share already. Seeing Marcus fret over something that he admits he wouldn't normally fret over brings his real, if a little buried, feelings for Dane to light in a way just discovering them without the issues would. I think it will make the declarations more dramatic when they do come.

    As for Dane...*sigh*...I wish I could hug him. I think, or hope anyway, that once they talk maybe he'll understand better. I have this scene in my head where Dane is kneeling in the corner of the room whilst Marcus is helping another Dom's sub so that he can understand it all better...or just be there to support HIS Master. *shakes head* No matter what, I really hope Dane can understand that what Marcus does is only to help others and not because he views Dane as less than what he really is. And what he really is...*giggles* Well I guess we'll have to wait for you to confirm that for us;)

    You've done an amazing job with this, B. I love the feelings it evokes in me as a reader and as a human. It's touching, frustrating, sweet, simple, complex, and so many other things. Thanks for sharing.

    Favorite line... I thrash the whip twice more, but it’s Dane I see on the receiving end, helpless and silent. ...This just seems to illustrate how much this issue is affecting him. How helpless HE feels.

    xoxo
    V

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    1. Aww, I know your guttings are always the very best! :*
      Hmm another vote for Dane watching Marcus at work. It's an intriguing concept.

      YES YES YES, that man wielding the whip is the one most tortured of the three--although I won't discount's Dane's great disappointment either.

      Thank you for letting yourself get crushed!
      xoxo

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  8. I feel for Marcus here. He knows that Dane does not see what he does with others as a job, but that is TOTALLY the difference. M has an actual connection with Dane that is lacking with the "jobs" that Marcus takes on. Marcus helps other Doms by doing (or showing the other masters how to do things that they can't or do not yet know how to do. Did that make sense? Of course, I am confident that they will get past this, but it does hurt my heart that Dane is suffering from such low self esteem.

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  9. I read this chapter earlier but needed some time to digest it before I commented, I really don't like these types of scenes, it would be a hard limit for me, but that is not to criticise your writing Born, I just don't understand the mind set of the 'whipper' or 'wippee'. I feel very uneasy about this type of beating.

    If I were Dane I would not want my Master to attend to others in that way but would also feel that is wasn't my place to say that, I would hold myself back a bit, it is a testament to you that I felt for both Dane and Marcus in this chapter.

    Looking forward to the next chapter.

    Jarvis
    xx

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    1. I really appreciate your comment, Jarvis. As I try to stretch myself in writing some things outside my comfort zone, I suppose my readers are often put to the same test, though they may be in different places in the story.

      I think you are accurately portraying Dane's response. He most definitely doesn't have any "right" to comment on what Marcus does outside of their agreement, nor does Marcus have a hold on Dane (Master or not). That said, it's certainly easy to see where people would get hurt.

      :(

      Thank you for keeping your mind and heart open.
      xx

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  10. These two seemed to be on the same page, but the fine print got them. Marcus is now having doubts about himself as a Master to Dane and to others in the community. While I get that Marcus has always done this as a job, Dane's need for exclusivity I totally understand as well (I don't think I'd want to share a hot, masterful man like Marcus either). I don't know what the solution is as they both deserve to be happy - just want to hug these two boys tight and hope they find a balance that works for them both.

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    1. It would be a very tough job for me to accept in a partner as well. I don't know how porn stars' partners do it, but it's probably very similar. There have to be emotions in the playroom, but they're not the same. Sigh...
      xo

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  11. I must admit that I didn't really grab what could have been in the fine print that dane didnt read when it came up last chapter. Now: "ohhhhh...."

    While I was slightly encouraged that Dane was still staying in touch with Marcus, I was distraught at the same things Marcus was- especially the very non-personal tone.

    I LOVED seeing Marcus at work- very interesting. It's hard for me to comprehend how a Dom could be stong/ brave/ trusting enough to put his sub in someone else's hand- but I love trying to get in there and figure it out. I like the specific dynamic between M and Paul too- M said Paul was a no bullshit guy and it seemed like they got each other. Marcus easily accepted Paul's thanks for the punishment as indication that Paul had got what he needed (what he and/or Embry paid for). I will be pondering the dynamic between Marcus and his clients for some time.

    I am so soo interested to see how Dane and Marcus will come back together and reach some sort of compromise about M's work, and their burgeoning relationship. and I am intrigued to think of all the reviews I've read above where people are suggesting D witness one of M's sessions with a client. interesting thoughts.

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    1. Ohhh.
      Yeah. Ouch on that tone of Dane's. Not disrespectful, just distant. :(
      I love the way you "try to get in there"- love your open mind and curiosity about new ideas. Thank you for that- it's a real treat for me.

      I KNOW, RIGHT? I'm intrigued too! I'm trying to picture that working for Dane and somehow being reassuring. Feels a bit like bringing one's girlfriend onto the set of a porn shoot and telling her, "See? It's just my day job," but I have a feeling that actually does work for some!

      In any event, I always love hearing what the story invokes. Thank YOU for always sharing so freely and thoughtfully. xo

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  12. I can see how it would be hard for Dane to take Marcus' job. Such a conundrum! How could Marcus just stop doing his job???

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  13. Marcus has been doing this job for a long time and probably thinks nothing of it usually. The fact that he is thinking of it, and feeling a smidgen of guilt says so much of his feelings for Dane. I wonder if he can get that across to Dane to let him know that he has messed up his orderly head and no one has ever done that before. Dane should know then how important he is to Marcus. Love it....like always.

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    1. That's a very cool way of framing things. Marcus should say, "Dane, you've got me turned around and inside-out and upside-down!" Nah, maybe not just like that. :)
      xo

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  14. Marcus is beating himself over this misunderstanding, isn't he? Truth be told, he really should have thought about this happening, shouldn't he? Being the big bad Dom that he is? LOL

    Love how Dane is making Marcus question everything? Second guessing himself. He is all turned inside out.

    Awwww...at least some preliminary work is done via those early morning emails. Hopefully they made Dane feel somewhat better as well.

    So, Paul is into pain and Embry isn't able to provide that for him?

    Yes Marcus should have kept his appointment. To do otherwise would be extremely unprofessional. However, Marcus needs to regroup and have a serious chat with Dane about expectations on both of their parts. And the sooner the better.

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    1. That's an interesting observation about Marcus not really foreseeing this little situation. Denial can be a pretty strong force, or maybe he just didn't realize how Dane might respond because HE knows what is a job vs what is...well, Dane. I love that YOU love Marcus questioning everything, hence the "remastering"!

      Yes, Paul needs his occasional beatings and Marcus obliges the two of them.

      Expectations- I agree.
      xo

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  15. "Trust me. Do I even have the right to ask it of him?"
    It does trouble me that Marcus is starting to doubt himself. He is such a good Master. The way his thoughts are in every thing that he does even when he is punishing Paul. My quesion is not would M punish D, but could he?

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    1. I think Marcus has doubted himself with Dane from the very beginning. The question for me became, Can he stop? Could M "punish" D? I would think he would discipline Dane if the need arose. He wouldn't be much of a dom if he didn't do what was needed.
      xo

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  16. I had assumed Dane knew what Marcus did as he knew of him in the community. I'm feeling for both of them. They need more communication.....

    I knew that shoe was going to drop!

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    1. yup. We don't know what Dane knows or thinks about Marcus's day job, but it's entirely possible he assumed Marcus was a one-at-a-time kind of guy.
      xx

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  17. Well we know just how rattled Marcus is - he slipped out of his scene with Paul - what I have come to learn is sooooooooo out of character for Marcus. It STRIKES me as bribery that you put Dane's first speedo moment int the end of this painful scene. Me thinks it's a bit of bribery to stay in your good graces during the bumpy times... I'll take it!!

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    1. You should always stay in my good graces. You never know when I might post pretty pictures. (So far, you're doing just fine!)
      xo

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  18. It was right of Marc to keep his appointment. He just truly has to divulge how he's going to show his sweet boy the difference between what he does for a living and what he lives for. And right now, he lives for the relationship him and Dane has built. And he has to think quick to act on saving that, because lines have been severed. Oh my boys *sigh*

    I think Marcus keeping his appointment was good because of the fact that being a sub whisperer is what he does. What he loves to do. And there are things that his body craves that he is not yet able to do with Dane. And the withdrawals from that can be harsh. But I know it will get very hard to draw lines because Marcus is very conflicted where what he has with Dane is concerned. Are they in a relationship? Is Dane entitled to/justified in some sort of jealously or envy on the part of what he does for a living? Should this topic have been one of the things they should have breached earlier in their relationship? So many questions... Born. So. Many. Questions.

    I do hope they get over this stumble. Its one of the makings of a true relationship. Enduring these hardships and overcoming them, no matter what. I don't believe this will destroy these two. They've come way too far for that now. But I am curious to how it will all pan out. I guess I can only know if I read on.

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    1. Those are all fantastic questions, Packy. But sometimes you have to throw the "entitled to" and "justifieds" out the window and ask yourself, "Do I really care about this person? What would I do to keep from hurting him? Is it worth it?" I agree with you about hardships making a relationship real. The playroom is intense but it's not everyday life and conflict. Let's see what they're both made of.
      xxx

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  19. i think marcus absolutely did the right thing by keeping his appointment with paul. it is his job and paul and embry were counting on him. i'm 110% sure that marcus would want dane to do his job if the shoe were on the other foot. i think it was good for marcus to get back into the dungeon with someone other than dane. it's a great way to put a bit of perspective on the whole situation, especially the fact that marcus feels like he's cheating on dane. someone is falling hard!

    their next session is going to be tense and i can't wait to see how both men deal with their issues. dane will definitely show up, he won't want to disappoint his master, but i have the feeling it will be a lot like their first session. btw, i'm dying to know what's going on in dane's head! :) xx

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    1. I love this! I agree with everything you have said, especially the perspective comment. You're right about them having to rebuild that trust. Hopefully we won't have to go back to square one.
      xx

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