To which he growled. "Goddammit. What did you do?"

And then I told him. I told him what I guessed and that I wanted to play with her. I told him about how she'd poured the drink and how it had been instantly obvious.

He let me talk myself out, let me obsess over how she was like something from a fairytale and when I was done, he was quiet about his answer. "She was hurt, Chris. I won't tell you what happened because it's her business and not mine, but Deirdre came a long way. She stays away from harder players because she doesn't think she can keep her heart out of it when she knows she has that nature. Be careful with her." Those words made me interested. They seemed to imply there was more to be careful with. "And don't do anything. Just wait."

Ugh. Gross. That would be his answer, the Star Wars cliché of waiting for them to come to you. It was the one thing I sometimes sucked at, even if it was the best course of action. "Okay."

And then I remembered that I had another resource of information in my bar at the moment and had to grin because the other one was sitting in the arms of my bartender. I didn't have to be totally stagnant if I was stuck waiting. Lily, as it turned out, was every bit as playful and uninhibited as Ash had led me to believe. She asked me questions about the bar, watched my slaves with me while sighing over how gorgeous they were the same way other people would sigh over romances. By the time I asked her the questions I was dying to know, she was all too forthcoming.

But I would wish I hadn't asked. The answers she gave me made me see red. What kind of terrible Master let jealousy choose his punishments? What kind terrorized his little slave so bad that she cringed at every turn in the nonsexual ways and what kind locked her in a windowless room for a week without a bathroom to keep her from going on a vacation with Lily? At first I wondered why Lily would talk so easily about her friend's past, but then I realized that Lily had suffered from it too. She was a fiery little redhead when that sweetness turned to anger and she told Jackson and I a lot once we got her started on the topic. She told us a horror story involving a drug habit that was out of control and violence that was unpredictable.

I had to force myself to follow Ash's advice, but I did it. And I was in a far different mood when the little submissive princess came back to me, like Ash had promised she would.



It had already been a while since I'd played before Christopher's kiss, but when a week went by where I didn't so much as visit Sulfur's, I started to feel like I was going crazy. It was Ash who finally messaged me.

Throw in the towel and go see him, kitten. If I have to intervene when you self destruct, you won't like it.

Bloody damn Master. He knew me too well. Ugh. I hated the fact that I totally deserved the warning too. He had seen my self destructing a few times and he knew it wasn't pretty. I had woken up a few times with Ash at my side, after throwing up all night from deliberately drinking painful amounts, going on and on about being cursed, like a dramatic emo kid. God, it was embarrassing. And the implicit threat in his text? Shudder. If Ash said I wouldn't like it, then it meant I really, really would not like it. I did not want to spend nights at his desk writing goddamn lines while he told me, for the upteenth time, that if I acted like a child, he would treat me like one.

I will not be stubborn until I self destruct. I will not be stubborn until I self destruct.

I messaged him back when I was standing outside of Sulfur's Beta, taking a picture of it so he'd know I was there. I hated how good it felt when he messaged me back to say, Good kitten. Go on. He's an old friend and you'll like him.

I had to stop myself from being a bitch to him because bitchiness was a side effect of denying myself submissive play for a while. I really wanted to snark back at him that I damn well knew I'd like him and I didn't want to fucking like his perfect, stern face and his perfect, beautiful slaves in their glamorous, wonderful cage.

Oh, God. That was the most jealous thought I'd ever had. I really was in trouble.

I walked in the door and gave my card to the door guard, since this one didn't know me as well. I went past when he nodded me through, stepping into the wonderland of Christopher's Sulfur's, with its raised daisies and the birdcages. Just that step through the door made me want to bow so badly it hurt. I wanted to see him and see him right then. My sex went drenched and ready and it only got worse when I remembered him standing over his wonderful slaves. I couldn't even think of the jealousy anymore when I was in that place. All I could think of was how badly I wanted to be one of those slaves, adorned with ornaments and pretty collars and displayed in a beautiful cage. I looked around for him, couldn't think of anything but him. Was he playing again? Would he be in one of the back rooms?

None of the above. He was at the bar with Jackson and he was watching me, his eyes inviting and gentle again. I got wetter, needier, thinking of his kiss and it didn't help that he had a long stranded flogger in the back pocket of his jeans, so that it moved when he shifted. I could see him playing with that flogger so easily it hurt. God, I had made fun of Lily for being hard up on his bartender, but I felt like a she wolf in the freaking spring, burning with sex fever just because I'd dared wait to long to satisfy myself.

When I went to him, he smiled in approval, as if he knew what kind of bravery it took me to come back and my heart fell even harder. He was a dream and every time I stood with him made my mind go crazed with my fantasies. "I'm sorry," I finally whispered. "I-"

He grabbed my hand and it took me a moment before I even realized what he was doing.

But he was just hugging me, holding me in a feeling of safety that I didn't realize I needed so badly. Because that was another thing of playing the right kind of games. There was definitely a feeling of security and protection involved. For me, it sometimes felt like a bubble of safety around a scene when it was happening.

He was so much the Master that the sphere of safety felt like something he carried with him. I cuddled against his chest and I couldn't keep from smiling when he felt warm and sturdy. He was still so freaking nice and perfect when he pulled away, too. "No, I'm sorry. That was awful forward, to be perfectly fair. It's about time someone gave me a lesson of humility."

Ugh. How was he so secure about literally everything? He never even blushed. Even I got exhibitionist jitters every now and again! "Yes, obviously it was because you deserved it for trying to make me 'an offer I can't refuse'."

He laughed when I said the last in a dramatically Italian voice and I was glad he found it charming because I was only capable of acting that much of an idiot when I wasn't thinking straight. It had been a month since I'd played. "How have you been?"

You ever see a drunk or drugged person and how they're sometimes all over the place and they don't seem to have any clearly identifiable emotions? That's how I felt in his presence at the moment. I couldn't think. He was so stern even when he was so gentle and soothing. He didn't have a directly scary image at all, unlike his bartender or door guard, but in a different way he was scarier. It was that same factor that made him so secure, that made him stand straight, that made him kiss me that first time. It was the same way he had read me like a book and gave me that intense gaze as soon as I fixed him his whiskey one time. I had served him once.

And he knew about me after that. I didn't know how, but I knew that was when he'd read me so easily. "Fine. I've been fine," I finally managed.

He was already gently leading me away from everyone, gently leading me back down the hallways, as if he was reading me again. "I'm glad. I was worried about you after that."

"I'm sorry." It came out sad and sincere because it really did make me feel bad. I had another image of his male slave fingering his ass to please him and felt like my pussy was throbbing between my legs. Jesus, this hurt. "I didn't mean to make you worry. And I really am sorry for- for-"

"Slapping me," he said, grinning while I flushed. He opened the door to a back room and I realized it was his office when he guided me inside. "You should definitely own that. No one else has ever done it."

When he shut the door, I couldn't think anymore. "I'm sorry for this. Please don't think I'm a crazy person, please."

He was smiling that charming smile again. "Ash already warned me."

"He did?" My voice was squeaky and my thoughts were racing and I couldn't piece them in any kind of coherent string. "Warned you? What did he warn you about? Do I need a warning? For what?"

His smile turned to another easy grin. "For this."

This time when he grasped me for a kiss, he was all masculine Master. His grin turned evil and his hand was in my hair again, but this time it was deliciously fierce in its hold. I growled into his mouth and opened mine in invitation, throwing caution to the winds. I wanted him and he wanted me.

When he released me from his kiss, I couldn't stop the cry. "Oh, please! Please, I need it!"

He shushed me with the perfect amount of condescension to make me go hot with helpless humiliation, his fingers touching my lips with a little bit of violence in it. "He also told me to not be such a gentleman this time and to tell you, 'Bad kitten. You waited too long.'" I whined, arching, and he shushed me again. That same kindness turned so fierce when he wanted it to. He was so controlled, such a Master. "Easy. I've got you."

I couldn't remember why he shouldn't have me, why that was a problem. "Please! Please..." I struggled against him until he caught one of my wrists and then grabbed the other. He backed me against his office door and held them pinned up above my head, watching my eyes.

I felt hazy with sheer, sinful lust. I stared up at him, arched in a slutty little way, my lips parted for more, and I went still with surrender under his gaze, waiting for him. He smiled in approval. "Good girl."

He held my wrists in one hand and finally lowered the other. Where he stroked it between my legs, over my jeans.

I squealed and I didn't remember doing it, but my leg lifted to wrap around his to try to pull him closer. He was a kind enough Master to grant me that, to press me against the wall with his body so I could wrap my legs around his waist and I did. I wrapped tight and lowered my face to his neck with a whimper when he thrust against me. It was only later that I would realize he had been kind and kept our clothes on so I wouldn't do something I would regret. Even when he wasn't behaving like a gentleman, he was being a perfect one.

For the moment, he just worked me against the wall so that it gave me the sensation of being fucked and I thrashed in desire, rubbing my face in his neck until I finally lifted and begged, "Please! Harder, please! More..."

"Such a greedy little girl." I cried out with the words, then sobbed when he curled a hand around my throat. He didn't even choke, didn't even have to. With him, just that gentle threat was enough. "Was he right, then? Were you a bad little Aurora? Did you stay away for too long?"

"Yes! Yes, I was bad. Please! Uh-mmm!" I cut the last off in a desperate sound, hoping he'd be nice to me, even though I had been bad and I knew I'd been bad.

I knew it because I would have said and agreed to everything he wanted, mindlessly, so long as he'd give me one more minute of his hand around my throat or a hard pull of my hair while he gave me that stern gaze and lectured me. Or if he'd make me crawl with a hand in my hair, make me kneel and look up at him and beg. I'd do anything for one more touch. It was like I was a drug addict and he was the most pure and exquisite form of heroin from my wildest dreams. "Bad girl." He didn't have access to my ass, so he did me one better and released my throat to slap my tits, giving his punishment to them instead. "You know better. I can't take care of these dark, filthy little needs you have if you don't come to me and tell me." His eyes ate me alive, held me captive with sheer will. Had I ever thought him a perfect gentleman? How had I forgotten that the first image I had of him was of two slaves at his knees, where one lubricated the other to finger his asshole while sucking his dick? He was intensity and control and I climbed him for more, more, more. "Bad, bad girl." My breasts stung with his abuses, delicious pricks of sensation from his light slapping.

"I'm sorry, sir. I'm sorry, I am. Oh!" I yelped when he abruptly pulled away from me, keeping control of me with the hand around my wrists and he forced me to the floor until he was standing over and slightly behind me.

"Sorry doesn't really help me, but maybe learning to beg a little better will help you. Let's make sure you know how together, Deirdre, so you don't have an excuse for next time. Show me how you ask for a spanking."

Oh, Jesus Christ. So he could do it? I whimpered just at the thought. I was drenched in my jeans and he hadn't even taken a single thread of my clothes. What was more, the position he had me in was with him bending over me, one hand at my chin and holding my head back. When I turned my head, I could feel his cock, how thick he was, how fucking hard he was, how goddamn horny he was to have me at his knees. I gave him what he wanted, craning my neck to look at him, and my voice was so breathy with desire that it was pathetic. "Please spank me, sir."

He smiled down at me. "Good girl. How pretty. Of course, if you were a slave, it would be different."

Oh, no. Please, no. He could make me do anything at the moment, anything, and this was the type of thing that I shouldn't ask more about because every word would be enticement to make me burn worse. "S-sir?"

He crouched behind me, still stroking my jaw and his other hand stroked down between my legs, so that I shrieked. He squeezed roughly, but it was the perfect amount of sensation over my denim and his presence was already making me wild. I was so wet, so fucking ready. He made a low noise of encouragement in my ear, permission. "It'd be much different, little Aurora. You wouldn't say those words at all. You'd trust your Master to take care of you, no matter what kind of needs you had, and you'd never ask."

"Please! Oh, please, I need it!"

"I know you do. It's okay. Let go, little Aurora. I've got you and I know what you need." His voice was low in my ear and his breath felt hot, but all of me felt too hot. His hand between my legs slapped and squeezed and I spread wider for more, whimpering. He'd been caressing my jaw, but his hand moved to, ever so gently, close around my throat.

When his teeth locked at my neck, it was the last touch I could crave. I let go and it made my world go white with desire and pleasure.


What made the whole thing worse was that he didn't even do anything afterwards. He didn't take for himself and he had never even needed to take my clothes off. He could have taken so much advantage of me, could have made me do whatever he wanted me to. I think I would have crawled into his cage to sleep if he made the slightest suggestion that it would give him pleasure. He never did, never even made a suggestion of his pleasure, as if he knew. He just sat on the floor and held me until I came back down again.

He was back to being the gentleman version of Christopher, I realized. I curled against his chest and he hummed against my hair. It took me a minute, but he was even waiting for me to speak first. "Thank you," I finally whispered.

He laughed, pulling back to sit on the floor and smile at me. "My pleasure," he answered with a wink. I flushed in reply because he hadn't gotten any of that at all actually and I was trying to not think about the ways he was going to slake his lust later. His voice turned wicked. "And what was that thought?"

"Thinking about your pleasure," I answered honestly.

"Now that is a fun thing to think about, if I'm allowed to be a little full of myself for a moment."

"I feel like you're allowed to do much more than that, sir."

His grin was so infectious, so easy going. "Oh, I don't know. I've heard I'm on a tight leash and have to be inspected by this little wildcat, who once slapped someone so hard Ash almost had to make you leave for the night."

It worked. I laughed in his arms. "You were there for that?" But of course he was. Why wouldn't he be? "I don't even remember what the man said to Lily, but I remember being so angry that he had managed to actually hurt her feelings. That was one of her boyfriends for a while, too, and he had to know what wounds he was hitting. Lily once flirted with a piercer after he punched the needle through because she squeaked in pain and he apologized. So she grinned up at him and said, 'I didn't realize how cute you were before'. The thought of whatever would hurt her just... I couldn't deal."

Christopher choked in delighted amusement. "Please tell me that kid hasn't tried to date a vanilla person. I feel like she'd break him after what Jackson told me."

"She did. He was a devout Pentecostal." Christopher opened his mouth, then closed it, and I laughed. "Yeah, none of us knew what to make of that, either. He thought she was cute and innocent and sweet."

We bantered back and forth, over Lily, over masochists in general, over slaves and submissives.

After I left him - and we went back out to his bar where I think I convinced Jackson that I wasn't actually a neurotic psychopath - it sank in how easy it was, how charming he was. I had known someone that seemed easy and charming before. I had suffered for lack of insight, torturous ups and downs in lack of control and never choosing the right thing. He had loved to tell me I was the shittiest submissive in the world because I'd tell him I didn't know how to please when nothing seemed to please him. And it hurt. So bad.

All I had lived for and wanted was to be called a good girl and to curl up in a happy cage like a fairy tale princess caught by her prince. It didn't matter that Christopher Love was so nice, that he gave me what I needed. I self destructed anyway and no one can self destruct quite like a submissive with the rug torn from under her feet. It's one of those things we're pretty good at sometimes, especially when we really want some goddamn structure and everything feels like chaos. It's kind of an ironic curse of both working well with control and being unable or unwilling to give ourselves that control when we want someone else to do it.



I think the only reason why it took Ash two weeks to call me was because the man had a lot on his mind. He didn't tell me all of it, but I knew one of his play Doms, named Matt, had picked up a rather interesting girl in Sulfur's on an open door night and Ash was heavily involved in whatever was going on with it. He didn't tell me much, except to say she was worse than Deirdre had ever been, but she took to Matt and Matt both adored her and was trying to help her without knowing what he was doing. Anyway, needless to say, Ash had his hands full.

But he was still bound to call when he didn't see Deirdre for a while. "Hey. I was just checking up on your new little playmate."

Playmate. I tilted my head. Ash didn't sound very concerned. He sounded more playful actually, like he thought Deirdre was with me. "My new playmate? I saw her the once, but I guess it ended on a high note, sure. She said she's busy helping you at the other bar, though."