I drop my head into my hands, unable to believe all of this.
Caning. Whipping. Thanking her for it, after.
I still don’t know what a “scene” is.
Am I willing to engage in “humiliation/degradation”? God, everything on here is humiliating and degrading!
She doesn’t want me to look at her. She won’t let me speak to her without permission.
I shake my head. Even my Id and Superego have disappeared, freaked out by all of this.
Holy fucking god damned everything. This is so fucked up!
I can’t do this. I can’t!
Even if it means I lose her forever…?
“No!” I groan out loud, agony roiling through my veins, bleakness reaching with merciless claws at my soul. No, I can lose her, not when I just found her!
Even if… even if this is what she wants from me?
I just don’t know what to do!
I mean, I guess in a lot of ways, it’s not totally unlike a “friends with benefits” thing, a relationship with specific perimeters, is it? That’s all the stuff that Aiden has played around with before, and is like what he and Ariana are doing now, too. But that just was never anything that I wanted, a flimsy arrangement formed on shallow sexual urges and nothing else.
I shake my head again, trying to jolt all of the thoughts out, but I keep remembering Lark’s scalding blue gaze.
“You get… me. Completely, and honestly. What other woman could promise you that?”
I sigh, groaning, and hold my head in my hands.
Is it the only way I can have Lark? On her terms, these terms? There is already more to us, to our experiences together, than any flimsy “Friends With Benefits” set-up, I know that much. Is it enough to know that?
Part of me wishes I could just walk away this very second, pretend I never met her but even considering it sends my heart plummeting, and my Id and Superego are for once screaming in tandem horror at the thought.
I have feelings, real feelings, for this beautiful, fucked-up, perverted, incredible woman. How can you even think of walking away from that? my Id berates me, even as my Superego is tapping a foot and pointing to book titles like “The One that Got Away” and “You Regret the Things You Never Tried.”
But… can I try… those things?
I look at the lists in the Handbook again. Slapping, anal penetration, electronic devices. What does it all mean?
I don’t want that. I mean, I do want the sex, it was amazing. And I could probably manage some of this for her. It was pretty sexy, super hot, even, when she tied me up, so I could definitely do that again. I feel a new kind of heat coursing through my body at the thought. Maybe I could do handcuffs, even though the thought scares me. You always see those TV shows and movie plots about people getting trapped that way, after all, losing the keys and whatnot. But what about the other stuff?
Breath play. Hot wax. Punching with a fist. Extreme pain.
On a scale from one to ten.
Is there a “zero” option?!
This is all so weird, so peculiar, ridiculous, even, bowing and scraping, calling her “Master” or “Madam,” and thanking her for hitting me.
I don’t even understand a lot of this. Like “I will not push to make a scene go the way I feel it should.” So I’m not allowed to want anything? Need anything? “Monogamy is essential for a safe, sane, and consensual environment.” But she isn’t monogamous! She has Primary Man! Punishment is essential to demonstrate Master’s power, strength and authority over the boy, and to create a safe environment for exploration. How does hitting me, punishing me, make things safer for me? And it’s not like she doesn’t already have all that power and authority stuff, is it? She does.
It doesn’t make sense.
For a moment, I wonder if maybe this is another test of hers? Maybe, just maybe, she’s joking with me, seeing if I’ll take all this seriously, or how far I’ll go-
No. She has the Depravity Sanctuary. That’s no joke.
I close my eyes again, and remember how she felt this morning and last night. Her body. Her hands. Her mouth. Oh, God…. Even now, my body is stirring at the memories. I want that, her, the things she made me feel. I want the sex with her, so badly.
Would she agree to that, just the sex? It was enough for me. Would that be enough for her?
Helplessly, hopelessly, I know it won’t be.
I drop the Handbook, and pick up the old hardcover. It’s a beautifully-bound volume, just a short novella, and probably very expensive, with gilt pages. The Isle of Delights, by One Who Experienced It and All It Had to Offer*, it’s titled, and the front page shows it was published in the 1800s, and translated from French.
Per Lark’s instruction, I flip to the first page, and start to read.
It’s unlike anything I’ve read before in any Lit class. Good grief! It’s all about a fifteen-year-old young man who gets shipwrecked on an island of a half-dozen women, and how they make him their sex slave.
And he loves it. He absolutely loves it.
They tie him up and rape him and use him and make him orgasm over and over again, and he loves every minute of it, and wants more. Soon, he’s responding to all of their demands with “I live to serve thee,” and letting them ravish him and torture him in all sorts of ways.
Holy fucking smokes.
I read the whole thing through that night.
They introduce him to “the world of vice,” in between telling him stories about the other boys they’ve used in similar ways before they “expired of delight.” When a wealthy aristocrat stops by the Island, the women force the young man to do all sorts of things with him, and he loves that, too.
This is what Lark wants from me? This is what she and Primary Man do?!
By the time I reach the end, and my head is spinning worse than ever before.
Blank, I stash the novella and Handbook back into my messenger bag, crawl into bed, and force myself to close my eyes, needing desperately the escape and oblivion of sleep.
My last thought as I drift away is that I finally found the one woman in the world that I want, and she only wants to make me her legally-contractually-bound sex slave for a few months.
It’s depressing beyond words.
I wake up the next morning after dreaming about Lark and I on an island together. It’s a tropical paradise, just she and I, naked, until a ship shows up, and her Primary Man steps off, dressed in captain’s togs.
She’s holding me by a leash, and, to my horror, she hands it over to him. “A present for you,” she says serenely to him. “Go on, Sebastian.”
“I live to serve thee,” I murmur to her, and follow Primary Man obediently, to do whatever he — and she — might want me to do-
I wake with a start, my heart pounding in terror.
I have to say no to her, to all of this! is my first thought upon waking.
Tears smart in my eyes. I know I can’t be what she wants.
And, darker and deeper, I know that, despite the warning voices in my head, I’m going to try to be, anyway.
I want her that much. My feelings for her are that deep, that real. And she’s promised to give me everything she can give me, “completely and honestly,” hasn’t she?
I want more from her, I know that, too. But this has to be enough for now. It’s more than I have any right to ask of her.
I sit up in bed, pulling my knees up, and resting my chin on them.
If I show her I’m willing to try, then maybe she’ll be willing to try some things my way, too?
“Bash! Hey, Bash, you awake?” Aiden calls, knocking on my bedroom door.
“Uh huh,” I confirm.
“Hey, there’s someone here for you!”
Lark?! I think, springing from the bed, my heart pounding with hope, delight, fear, and excitement. I fling the door open to face him.
“It’s some sort of delivery or errand or something,” he hisses in a whisper. “You might want to change.”
Huh? Okay. Even if it’s not Lark, I know intuitively that it has something to do with her. Either way, I can’t go out there in just an old pair of sweatpants. I throw on jeans, a t-shirt, finger-comb my hair, and stumble blearily out to the living room.
It’s Carter who is waiting for me, in her minimalist black uniform, standing at attention. “Good morning, Mr. Stone,” she greets me politely. “I’ve been instructed to pick you up this morning for an appointment.”
An appointment? I don’t have an appointment!
“Miss Blackwood has arranged a visit to a day spa for you,” Carter continues, placid and professional.
A day spa? For what?
Oh, god. Is there no end to how high-handed Lark is? I can’t help huffing and sighing.
Aiden, meanwhile, is bugging out his eyes. “Wow,” he mutters. I can’t tell if he’s jealous or freaked out.
“Are you ready to go now, sir?”
I don’t know. Am I? “Uh, sure,” I say, not knowing what else to say. I have a feeling that my scruffy jeans, old t-shirt, and Aiden’s leather jacket that I hastily pull from the peg by the door isn’t what one usually wears to a day spa, but I have no clue.
“I’ll be at the shop, but text or call me later, okay?” Aiden mutters to me. I see Carter give him a look, and I don’t know if she’s heard his warning or not. Would she report something like that back to Lark?
This is all such unfamiliar territory.
Something occurs to me. “Wait just a sec,” I say, and scurry back to my bedroom. I grab the messenger bag that has the Handbook and the novella, and sling it over my shoulder.
“Now I’m ready,” I inform Carter with a bravado I don’t feel.
“Very good, sir,” she nods politely.
Sir! It’s so weird!
And yet Lark wants me to call her Madame or Master or Mistress or whatever.
Does she call Primary Man “sir”?
I follow Carter outside, where she opens the door to a black Range Rover parked at the curb. Another one of Lark’s expensive fast toys? To be fair, this vehicle is low-key compared to a few of her others, but the leather seats are beyond luxurious, and there are even screens mounted in the backs of the front seats, showing a montage of artistic black and white photographs, accompanied by restful classical music from the surround-sound system.
“Comfortable, sir?” Carter asks me crisply from the front seat.
“Yeah- um… yes, thank you.”
“There is bottled mineral water in the refrigerator, sir, and a selection of snacks for your convenience.” She touches some buttons, and to my shock, panels in the back console begin to open, unfolding a lap-table, like an airplane, and revealing a cold compartment where a frosty bottle of Perrier is waiting for me, as well as an artful little arrangement of fresh fruits in a fancy container.
I try to relax as Carter steers the Range Rover down the city streets toward the highway. I twist off the cap from the bottle of mineral water and sip then have a bite of a fresh, sweet slice of kiwi.
This kind of luxury is Lark’s everyday world. Can I get used to it? Should I?
*NOTE: The novella mentioned is not a real title, but takes its inspiration from a number of 18th and 19th century erotic texts, including several linked.
MBO Playlist: Death Cab for Cutie, “I Will Possess Your Heart”