Friday morning finds us at the dojo. I reward Dane’s quick absorption of the new forms with a round of extremely tame free fighting. Though Dane now knows how to break his fall without being injured, my kicks and punches are nowhere near vigorous enough to wound or even knock him off balance; he affords me the same courtesy. I’ve seen those legs in action onstage and underwater. Obviously, any one of his powerful kicks could do serious damage.
There is a beauty I’ve always appreciated in the choreography of karate free fighting. Respecting one’s opponent is the essence, a concept that resonates deeply with both Dane and me, especially toward each other. In the end, our “fighting” more closely resembles a deep dance-floor grind than a brawl—with the addition of plastic cups and an added dose of testosterone. Dancing, fighting, fucking . . . contact is contact is contact.
Oddly, this strikes me as the first time I’ve actually viewed this exercise as a meaningful tool for self-defense for Dane. I’m warmed to know that he’d be quite capable of fending for himself if the unlikely occasion ever arose. A powerful visual brings a smile to my face: Dane round-housing Wayne in the skull.
I look up at Dane’s amused reflection. Fully dressed, duffel slung over his shoulder, ready to go, he’s grinning at my crazy smile. Probably best not to share my vision.
“Sushi for lunch?”
“Sure,” he answers, shaking his head at me.
Dane orders us a couple of different house specialty maki while my selections are more basic: yellowtail, salmon, and snapper sushi. Seated elbow-to-elbow at the sushi bar, we admire the artistry of the chef as he assembles our platter. Dane makes the first move, reaching for a piece of “screaming fiery dragon roll,” dragging it through a mountain of wasabi, dipping it in soy, and delivering it flawlessly to his waiting tongue.
“You’ll be hitting the mouthwash when we get back to the room. I don’t want that tongue coming anywhere near me!”
“No?” Grinning, he leans in to kiss me but leaves the last inch up to me—just in case, I suppose. I close the gap with a hungry lunge.
Dane’s tongue sets a speed record getting inside my mouth, and I break off our kiss with an angry grunt. He laughs and gives me that non-apologetic “Sorry” he thinks will keep him out of trouble with Master.
“Don’t be twinkling at me today, Dane. I have a plan I need to stick to. I don’t have time to discipline you.”
The raw salmon between his chopsticks plunks into the soy-filled saucer as he lets out a surprised guffaw. “First, I dazzle. Now, I twinkle?”
Oops, didn’t exactly mean to let that one slip. I give him a stern glare. “You should probably be focused on the threat.”
“Okay, no more twinkling. Got it.” He fishes the wayward sushi out of the brown puddle, peels the slice of salmon off the soy-soaked rice, and extends his tongue beneath the dangling food. The salmon disappears to a far, far better place while I look on jealously. The boy is lethal.
It’s good Dane’s having his fun now since the forecast for the afternoon is cloudy with a chance of spewing.
“You giving up, Dane? There are still a few pieces left.”
He rubs his belly, reminding me of a fat, jolly Buddha. “Maybe we can get a doggy bag. I’m sure they’ll taste great later tonight.”
“Sure.” Dane handles the to-go box while I pay the check.
The sun is shining as brightly as it’s able in February. I tip my face up and soak in the warmth.
“Ahh, feels good, doesn’t it?” Dane says, following me outside.
“Yeah, I’m starting to believe spring might arrive after all.”
Taking his hand, I lead us away from the restaurant. “Dane, I need to bring up something a little touchy, and I’d rather do it before we get back to the hotel.”
He falls out of step but quickly corrects himself. “Okay.”
I give the immediate area a quick scan to ensure we won’t be overheard. “One question I never asked you when we signed our initial contract was whether you’ve ever had unprotected sex. I’m afraid I can no longer leave the matter to chance.”
“I take it you’re referring to . . .” he leans in, “anal sex, since we’ve clearly been going at it orally without condoms?”
“That’s easy. No. Never.”
“Well,” I tell him, more than a little relieved, “I guess Waynehole did one thing right.”
“Waynehole? Is that what you call him?”
“One of my many terms of endearment. Speaking of foul genital discharge,” I wait for his guffaw to pass, “I’d like us both to get tested.”
Please don’t get ruffled.
“Great. There’s a clinic near my house we can hit on Tuesday morning.”
“There’s about a two-week wait for results, right?”
“Yes, but think how much more fun we can have without all those pesky barriers.”
We walk along in silence—which I mistakenly assume is Dane picturing the same colorful bareback scenarios I am, until he asks, “So, what happens if something bad comes back on my test?”
I can feel the tension in his hand and in his voice. Dane needs to know I won’t abandon him, no matter what.
“Then, we deal with it. We take extra precautions, and we watch for symptoms. You know, it could just as well be me, Dane. Things happen, even if people are careful. The collar isn’t a vault sealing the two of us inside; it’s a choice by two free wills to be bound to each other in a very specific way. If it’s not working for either of us—no matter what the reason—we have the freedom to walk away.”
His pace slows, and I don’t think he’s even aware of being out of step.
“Dane, I’m really sorry to bring up the less pleasant side of things.”
“Nah,” he tries, “I love STDs and breakups.” At least his jest brings a small smile to his face.
“Hey, we had to get the bad part out of the way. Now we can go inside and have some fun.”
“Oh, goody, what’s next—picking out cemetery plots?”
“No, Dane, research.”
His head turns, and up go the brows. As I tug him into the revolving door at the Fillmore, I can hardly contain my smile. He’s quiet until we step inside our suite.
“Research?” he asks.
“Mmhmm. I want you to educate yourself on the full range of possibilities before you create your own individualized vows.”
“Did you have a suggestion about how I go about doing that?”
“Of course,” I answer with a grin. “Was that a trick question?”
“Not on purpose.” He looks so adorably befuddled.
I crook my finger, beckoning him in front of me, and when he gets there, I draw him in for a much-needed kiss. Cupping his chin, I ask, “Ready to do some work, boy?”
With that simple transition, Dane is changed. His uncertainty disappears; following orders is comfortable and easy. After the unpleasant realities churned up by our talk outside, Dane craves this.
“Put that sushi in the fridge, take off your shirt and shoes, and go get your iPad.”
Meanwhile, I grab my laptop and a couple of toys from my duffel and settle into the armchair facing the large picture window. Dane doesn’t keep me waiting, posing in front of me in his usual submissive stance but balancing his iPad behind his back.
“Hands front,” I order him, taking the iPad from him and resting it in my lap. With both of Dane’s wrists outstretched toward me, he watches closely as I reach for the handcuffs tucked beside me on the seat. What would have caused tensed shoulders or held breath just a week ago now receives a mere half-lowering of eyelids.
“These are the real deal, Dane—commercial-grade New York State Department of Corrections issue.” I clap the cuff around my own wrist until it clanks shut. “And here’s the key,” I show him, demonstrating how to insert the key into the slot and release the lock.
“Open your hand, Dane.” I press the key into his palm. “You do not have my permission to open the cuffs, but you do have the ability. I know you appreciate the difference.”
I clamp the heavy metal around both his wrists. “Here’s your iPad. You may be seated at your Master’s feet.”
“Thank you, Master,” he answers.
“I want you facing the window, boy. Let whatever perv-with-a-telescope who’s out there right now find you on the floor between my legs.” Nothing too serious, just enough to open the door and let his exhibitionist fantasies peek outside.
He places the key beside him on the floor and shimmies into position, resting his back against the base of the chair between my knees and stretching his long legs out in front of him. My hands are all over Dane while he gets settled in—up and down his chest and back, mussing up his hair, fondling the bulges of his shoulders and upper arms—anything to let him know he’s mine.
“Okay, Dane. Start searching for collaring ceremonies or submissive vows or anything else you think might be instructive. I’m right here if you have any questions.”
I peer over his shoulder with amusement while Dane figures out how to make his handcuffed hands tap the right letters on his touch screen. After many false starts and heavy use of the backspace key, he manages to open his web browser and start surfing. My fingers take turns climbing through his hair; it happens to be one of my new favorite activities, but the rhythmic scraping of his scalp is also an incredibly effective way of measuring Dane’s level of stress. A loose, relaxed neck means a comfortable boy, and with Dane’s head flopping all over the place right now, he seems okay.
Until he’s not.
Sensing the shift, I knead the stem of his neck with my thumbs, but it’s not helping, and now the stiffness has spread to his shoulders as well.
“Dane, is something bothering you?”
His finger stops the words from scrolling as he sits frozen over the pad. “Master, I’m not sure I have a right to ask this question.”
“Dane, you have a right to ask every question. I may choose to withhold the answer, but that doesn’t mean you were wrong to ask.”
Without turning around, he says, “Most of these collaring ceremonies I’m reading about have other people present. Is that what you have in mind?”
My fingers have slid to his shoulders without conscious effort, but a massage won’t help if my answer is wrong. I can only picture this intimate moment alone with him, but my wishes are only half the equation—or less. If Dane wants something different, it’s on me to understand and weigh his needs against my preconceived notions. I’m not married to any scenario that doesn’t work for Dane.
I flash back to last night and how Dane asked Sean and Riley to be there for him, and it occurs to me I’ve read this all wrong. “Dane, do you want someone else to be present for the ceremony?”
His voice sounds choked. “Do you?”
My hands freeze on his shoulders. “If I answer your question, will you answer mine honestly?”
“Of course, Master.”
I have to trust him. “Actually, I was picturing this as a very intimate moment between the two of us, but if you feel you need someone there for support, I’m open to the idea.”
Dane’s head whips around, and a relieved smile graces his face. “That’s what I want, too. Just the two of us, I mean.”
Heart attack averted. “Good.” I cover his lips with mine before pulling away with an encouraging smile. “Keep reading.”
Dane turns back to his device, already having fully mastered handcuffed internet browsing. Is there nothing this boy cannot do with his talented body and mind?
I relax into the high back of my chair, close my eyes, and let the images roll past: the dancer, the swimmer, the very capable martial arts practitioner, the cook, the singer, the fucking poetic bed-exiter . . .
“Master, another question, please?” My thought bubble evaporates.
“Of course, Dane.”
“May I face you?”
“Yes, please.” My heart flips. I can’t remember why I wanted him facing the world instead of me, but I’m so grateful he had the good sense to fix that.
He spins around on his bottom, setting aside the iPad and resting his cuffed hands over his raised knees. His dark eyes evidence the erotic subject matter he’s been swimming in. I’d bet my last tube of lube the boy is rock hard inside his jeans.
“Okay, I get that this is a collaring, and the whole point is basically for the Master to provide some kind of collar to his submissive.”
“Right, the collar is a physical manifestation of the Master’s vows to assume responsibility for all his submissive’s needs.”
Dane’s forehead scrunches with an emotion beyond confusion, something akin to indignation. “I’ve now been researching this topic for almost an hour, and I haven’t found one ceremony where any submissive gave his Master a symbolic gift.”
As usual, Dane has tilted the axis of my world and tipped what I thought was familiar to the point where it no longer resembles anything I have previously known. “That’s what you’ve been doing all this time?”
Dane swallows hard and shifts his eyes guiltily. “Not all of it . . . just since the idea struck me.”
“Dane, I’m not angry. I’m just a little surprised.”
“But why? Why wouldn’t there be some form of reciprocity?”
I bend forward in my chair and cup his face between my hands. “The answer is a simple one, and the reason you can’t see it is your extraordinary humility.”
Confusion is written all over his beautiful face. “I’m sorry, Master. I’m not following.”
“Dane, the submissive is the gift given to the Master. You are my gift. You offer yourself freely. What more could any Master desire or need?”
Instead of the thank-you-oh-wise-one illumination I had anticipated, Dane’s expression turns stormy. “With all due respect, Master—”
“Careful, Dane. You know how I feel about that phrase!”
His jaw hinges shut, and he looks away. I fear I may have silenced him too soon with my worry that he was about to get himself into trouble. How about trusting him, Marcus?
Dane clears his voice and raises his eyes to meet mine. “Thank you, Master. I think my frustration was about to get the better of me.”
I can’t let on how very relieved I am—both that my judgment was on target and that he so readily accepted my guidance without an ounce of defensiveness. “You’re welcome. I really do want to hear your point when you’re ready.”
“I’m ready,” he answers immediately, making me grin because I can see it’s true. “I understand your explanation, but it’s hard for me to accept. I get that I give myself to you, but don’t you do the exact same for me? Why is it a one-way street?”
My fingers sneak into his hair while I ponder his comment. “Allowing for the possibility that your premise is correct, what are you saying? You want to mark me?”
“No, Master.” Dane blinks at me, stunned. “I just want to express my gratitude for everything you’ve become to me.”
Deep breath in, deep breath out. “Dane, that sounds lovely. I’ve never heard of it before, but I don’t see why that should matter.”
Finally, the storm clouds dissipate, and the bright smile I love so much is back on Dane’s face. “You’ll accept my gift, then?”
The answer begins with a kiss, and when I’ve had enough, I remind him, “Within reason, Dane.”
The answer begins with a kiss, and when I’ve had enough, I remind him, “Within reason, Dane.”
You won't find that online, folks! Dane and I are making it up as we go! I totally grossed Jayme out with the sushi bit, but I happen to love the stuff! So, what do you think about the collaring? What promises will be exchanged? What gifts? Many of you have predicted "collars" but now it seems there's another gift to be given...by Dane!