By the time Dane hands his checklist back to me, the pages are covered in so much green marker, the thing looks like Christmas threw up all over it. Green, go, willing to try, aroused . . . all good moves in a positive, trusting direction. And so many new ways for us to play.
My boy has dug deep for me, and I praise him up and down for his courage and his candor—from the opposite end of the couch. No way could either of us last if body parts were within reach, not with the sexual tension thick as butter in the air.
Only one major topic still needs to be aired, and we need to reach some sort of mutual clarity before I can feel comfortable buckling that collar around my submissive’s neck. We’ve both had enough of the damn couch, but I am not about to take Dane anywhere public for this conversation—spewing is a distinct possibility.
Tossing the papers onto the coffee table, I stand up and shake out my legs. “How about we finish cooking dinner?”
Relieved as hell, he eagerly follows me to the kitchen. I’d set the table while he completed his checklist, both of us agreeing it was best to leave the delicate knife work to Dane. He steps behind the counter with me, pulls open the fridge, and paints the countertop with packages of chicken breast and half-chopped vegetables I started to prep earlier. Sticking his nose back inside the refrigerator, he roots around and finds garlic cloves and soy sauce and some other jar of something labeled with faux-Chinese font that I can’t remember buying.
I rest my back against the counter, content to watch him work his magic. If not for the collaring, this would be an excellent time to crack open a bottle of something cold and haze-inducing, especially since I have a good idea what Dane’s reaction will be to the conversation I have to start.
Readying the knife over the garlic, Dane turns his head. “You don’t mind, right?”
“Did you see the garlic stop me the other night after Ceci’s?”
I can only see the back of his cheeks, but I can tell he’s smiling. I hope to hell I don’t make that disappear.
“Dane, we need to talk about this arrangement we’re about to enter into.”
“Should I stop chopping?”
“You don’t have to; just watch the knife, okay?” Sickening images invade my thoughts. What is it about this boy that makes me imagine every terrible scenario? “I’ve been doing some thinking about the 24/7 versus more contained play—and for the record, I really hate that word ‘play.’”
“Yeah, me too.” Chop, chop, chop. “Have you reached any decisions?” he asks, not revealing anything.
“I know what I want.”
He tenses, pauses, and resumes chopping. “Okay?”
“Dane, I don’t want a 24/7 power exchange with you.”
His arm stops. Shit. Let the waiting begin.
I step up behind him and press my body against his back. I’m here. Take your time.
A deep breath fills Dane’s chest, and as he releases it, Dane leans back into my body. Sliding a red pepper under the blade, he resumes his motion. Slice, slice, slice, slice. With a tight, careful voice, he asks, “Would you mind explaining your reasoning?” Chop, chop, chop, chop.
Dropping a kiss on his neck, I slide my arm around his belly. “You know I never mind that.”
He swaps out the pepper for an onion, shifts his head a quarter-turn, and smiles. “This should level the playing field.”
Clever boy. “Fair enough, Dane.” Giving him one last squeeze around the middle, I kiss the side of his head and walk around the counter to take a seat on a stool. He can keep busy, but I need to see his eyes.
The blade slices through the onion, the sharp chemicals piercing my eyes, drawing tears. “Here’s the thing, Dane. I love being your Master, and you are, without a doubt, the most glorious submissive I could ever hope for.”
“Thank you,” he responds quietly, not raising his eyes from the task.
“What I want is to continue as we have in scene, deepening our bond and expanding your boundaries. When you move through the world outside my dungeon—with me or not—I want you to know that you are the master of your own destiny. I’m here for you as a sounding board and your biggest cheerleader, but the decisions are yours to make. I don’t want you to relinquish responsibility for your life to me.”
“I understand what you’re saying,” he answers, “but I want to be yours all the time.”
“Dane.” My soft tone causes him to look up from the cutting board. “You are mine all the time, just as I’m yours.” Full stop. “That said, that’s very different than the dynamic when we’re in scene. Look at our dinner with Sean and Riley or our day at the zoo; I want that for us, too. I want your heart and mind free to go where they want, places I couldn’t even imagine for you. I want us to have the best of both worlds.”
He sets down the knife and wipes his hands on the dishtowel. “What is this other world? When we’re not being Master and submissive, what exactly are we?”
“I think that’s a wonderful question, Dane, and it’s not one I can answer for us with my collar. If you’re willing to explore, I think that other world can be every bit as exciting.”
“So you don’t want to just spend time as Master and sub?”
“Not just,” I answer, “but definitely mostly. Wow, did that even make sense?”
Dane smiles, acknowledging my befuddlement. “I think so.” He rolls a carrot onto the board and starts cutting it on the diagonal. “We’ll still have some long play sessions where I can go deep?”
“And you’ll still take me out and . . . Master me?” He looks up with a shy grin that does things to me.
“Yes, I will master you all over Manhattan. I promise, we will be playing in all kinds of new, interesting places now that you’ve admitted to a certain taste for showing off.”
“Oh, god.” He cuts the next carrot with a deliberate punch.
“But when the Mastering is done, we can go out to the movies—heck, maybe you’d even choose what we see—or hang out with friends or go to a show or another museum or twelve.” He’s smiling now. “And I think we’d both like to try out a few things we can’t do while we’re in scene.”
The knife stops mid-stroke; he knows exactly what I’m referring to. He clears his throat and raises those sex-eyes at me. “I think you just made me an offer I can’t refuse.”
“Ha! Oh my god, Dane. I should’ve just led with that, huh?” The curtain of heat drops down my face. What I wouldn’t give for a glass of pinot right now!
“I don’t know. I kind of liked the part about the free heart and mind, too.”
“Put down the knife, Dane.”
The metal clanks against the cutting board as it leaves his hand. I grab a fistful of Dane’s shirt and pull him across the countertop for a long, slow kiss—not so much Masterful as “otherworldly.” We need to keep things moving; both of us are hungry for dinner and what comes next.
Despite the casual atmosphere of our stir-fry dinner shared at my kitchen table, the mood is anything but relaxed. Pensive and quiet, Dane sets the tone, and I don’t try to paint a light gloss over the top. This evening’s proceedings will be a positive step in every possible way, but the commitment comes with an undeniable intensity, and I’m not the least bit surprised that Dane fully appreciates this.
Without speaking, I reach across and take Dane’s fork and offer it to his left hand before closing my hand over his right. He pauses only long enough to acknowledge his new reality and shoot me a so-this-is-how-it’s-gonna-be look.
The acoustic channel meanders around our separate thoughts while we both poke at our dinners. As usual, I push my dish away long before Dane’s finished, content to sit and watch him nourish his body. “You’re getting better with your left hand,” I tell him.
Dane smirks. “I’ve had a lot of practice lately.”
I press and slide my fingers into the spaces between his. More contact. “You’re welcome.”
He gives his head a little shake, chuffs, and spears a sugar snap pea.
“Dane, is there anything else you want to talk about before the collaring? It’s not as if you won’t be allowed to speak or anything, but to the extent possible, I’d like you to go into this without questions or any kind of inner turmoil.”
And I wait . . . but not long.
“No, Master,” he answers, looking up with clear eyes and a warm smile. “I’m ready.”
“Dane, I have to tell you . . .” or do I? “I don’t believe I’ve ever heard two words that made me happier.”
Are YOU ready? There's gonna be a collaring SOON! :)