It’s also April 1, which means one year ago today, with the date a mere coincidence, I first began this fiction project here. I hope it has been as entertaining, and maybe even sometimes as uncomfortable and thought-provoking, for you as it has for me. I’m certainly thrilled and grateful to now have FIVE FANS who’re reading now! Thank you, thank you, my darlings! Let’s keep on, then, shall we?
She stands, smoothing her clothes, her hair, before resuming her place at the table.
Okay. Fine. The sooner we finish negotiations, the sooner we can go back to… ah, yes, that. My Superego gives me a prudent nod; meanwhile, my Id is passed out on his back, limbs akimbo, tongue hanging out.
I rise, too, and, to show Lark I mean business, I take a deep drink of my wine, and pull out my chair. “All right,” I say, although I can hear how husky my own voice is. But I steel myself. “Let’s get down to business, then,” I say bravely, pushing the Handbook portfolio back in her direction.
She touches her watch, and in seconds, when Grover appears, she gestures at the half-empty plates on the table. “Take these things away, and bring fruit and cheese, and clean wine glasses.”
I’m silent as they do so, waiting for Lark to say something once they’re done. Finally….
“Where were we? Ah, yes. Water- or ice-play. You wanted, I believe, to know exactly what that means. It means,” she goes on, tone indulgent, eyes bright with amusement, and I can tell she’s enjoying all of this, “is that our activities would involve water or ice. Just like how we showered together.”
Oh. That’s it? Water-play sounded so complicated, but it’s just doing things in the shower? Okay. I sip more wine, and wait for Lark to go on.
“So, I might, for example,” she continues, voice lowering in that way that makes my heart pound and skin overheat, “let water drip, one drop at a time, all over your naked body, while you are forbidden to move. We could… skinny-dip together in the bathing pool I have in, as you so poetically called it, the Depravity Sanctuary. Or I could run an ice cube over your skin.” She touches my neck with those long, graceful fingers, trailing them along my collarbone. “How does that sound?”
Holy smokes, that sounds incredibly sexy! “I could do that,” I finally manage to murmur.
“Good. Then that’s agreed,” she says, uncapping an expensive-looking fountain pen, and making a check next to Water/ice. “I have to admit, I’ve already thought about watching you squirm while I hold ice cubes to the head of your cock,” she adds in a whisper.
My mouth drops open. She would do that?!
Before I can say anything in protest or ask questions, Grover and Nguyen come in with the cheese course, and fuss for a few minutes, pouring more of the wine into fresh glasses and setting up clean little plates and napkins.
When they depart, Lark picks up a bit of juicy fruit, and nibbles, and I’m momentarily distracted by the juice on her lips. “Next,” she continues, as I try to control my breathing, “would you be willing to try hot wax?” As if anticipating my question, she answers ahead of me, “That means I might let wax from a candle drip onto your skin. The contrast, especially before or after using ice, for example, is an incredible sensation.”
“On my- on me, down there?” I gasp. That’s not what she meant by waxing- Was it?!
“Not if you don’t want me to,” she assures me. “But you ought to consider some of the possibilities. Your nipples, for example, are an erogenous zone, and playing with heat and cold will heighten their sensitivity even more.”
Okay. Heightened sensitivity. Hot and cold. The idea of a lit candle doesn’t thrill me, but I can probably do that, too.
I think. I can try. Be brave. Man up.
Gulping, I nod, and she makes another checkmark.
“What about sex toys designed for that purpose?”
“I- I don’t know. I’ve never- you know….”
She smiles indulgently. Of course she knows I’ve never… anything. “There are many options, Bash. Cock rings, vibrators, dildos, clamps, weights, all meant to enhance your pleasure. This is why,” she adds, “it is essential that you trust me. If you’ve never tried them, I know how to use things like this to arouse you, to give your body new and thrilling sensations.”
My stomach is turning again. I have no idea what half of those things are, much less what they would do. Do to me. “It’s- no, I just can’t. Not… not that.” I’m compelled to keep explaining. “It’s just that… things like that… um, sex toys” — I have trouble even saying the words, it’s all so perverse! — “… they aren’t anything I ever thought about before, or- or wanted. At all. They’re… they are just really, uh, outside my comfort zone.” I take another deep drink of the wine. I don’t remember if this is my second or third glass, but with the various refills during the meal, it hardly matters anymore. I’m grateful for that welcomed fuzziness in my brain that makes me brave enough to have this discussion with Lark.
“Ah,” Lark murmurs, watching me with a burning gaze. “Your… comfort zone.”
I hang my head. I feel so guilty at how mundane, how simple and prosaic I am.
“I’m… maybe I can try… one of the things?” I offer in desperation.
“Which one?” She arches an acerbic eyebrow.
Oh fuck. She’s called my bluff immediately. “I don’t know,” I whisper my admission.
“So I can only assume,” she continues, moving her pen down the list, “that non-traditional or non-standard sex toys are also, as you put it, outside your… comfort zone?”
I lick my lips, eyes averted. I’m so ashamed. I’m boring, lame, tedious, stupid. A dullard. No sense of adventure. I’m here with this amazing, sophisticated woman… a woman who captivates men with a single glance… one who’s willing to do all kinds of things with me… and it was never more obvious that I’m so not up to speed for her.
“Let’s move on, then,” she says, crisp and business-like again. L.E. Blackwood, CEO.
It’s disconcerting, but it’s also important we go through this. I quash my feelings of inferiority, and try to treat this like my interview at PPRE, try to look mature, competent, qualified.
“Are you willing to try electronic devices?” she asks me.
I shudder unconsciously. I have to be honest, though. She said honest during this discussion was crucial. “… No. Not that. No.”
“What about bodily fluids. Are you comfortable with saliva?”
“Yours, you mean?”
“Then… I guess. As long as you aren’t going to, you know, spit on me or anything like that.”
She gives me a look that I can’t quite read, but I think it’s still amusement.
“What about semen?”
What? “No! You said- you said I’d never have to see him or interact with him if I didn’t want to!”
“And you don’t. That is exactly what we are formalizing right now. That is why formal negotiations are essential practices when establishing a BDSM relationship.”
“Oh. Okay. No,” I say again, clearly
She looks back at the Handbook and continues, “Urine?”
“What if I’m menstruating?”
“Oh. Um… that’s fine. I just meant not, like, the knives and razor blades and things.”
“Are you willing to engage with orally stimulating me?” Lark’s expression is almost flirtatious at that. “I think I know the answer. You are quite gifted in that area.” She makes a checkmark. “What about if I direct you to orally stimulate someone else in a scene?”
I’m firm. “No.” I don’t want anything to do with him, ever.
“What about giving or receiving anal intercourse?”
“…Anal int-? Um… no. I never- No.”
“Receiving anal penetration with fingers?”
“What about being hit with a fist?”
“Spanking with a paddle or other devices for that purpose?”
“… I-” Honesty is crucial, she said. Ugh. “I… I really don’t think I can do that. Being hit. No.”
“Hard, you mean?”
“Yes. Leaving marks or drawing blood.”
“And you already said no to canes, whips, paddles, chains, and other floggers, correct?”
“What about gags?”
“The… the thought of not being able to breathe really… freaks me out,” I admit.
“I would make sure you could breathe, Bash. It’s part of standard BDSM behavior.”
I know I should agree, agree to something, but panic is welling. “… No. Not- not that.”
“… Well, no.”
“Like- like putting me on a leash? Like a dog?”
“Not necessarily. ‘Collar’ is just terminology. There are many different kinds.”
It still sounds incredibly degrading. I shake my head.
“What about clamps? Genital clamps?”
I gulp. “No.”
“Designed restraint furniture, like a bondage table or a St. Andrew’s Cross?”
“Metal restraints on chains?”
Oh, God! “I- I don’t think-” I can’t go on. I feel queasy. I drop my head.
Slowly, deliberately, Lark caps the pen and puts it down, closes the Handbook, and folds her hands. “Perhaps I should ask if you are willing to try anything, Sebastian?” she asks me in a bland tone, meeting my eyes.
Oh, no. “Sebastian.”
We’re back to that already. I’m fucking everything up.
I pale with shame again. As much as I want to be with her, ache to be with her, this cut-and-dried checklist is so hard to take. Everything sounds so incredibly sordid, weird, when laid out this way. I feel the pressure of a headache, and my heart is pounding like I’ve been running from a pack of wolves.
“I’m sorry,” I whisper. Walk away, I think, but, a second later, I remember her words: I won’t stop you if you want to walk away, but I won’t run after you, either. That is the end.
Desolation floods my heart and soul. Oh, Lark….
I can’t walk away, I just can’t, not yet.
“This whole negotiation process feels counter-productive,” she observes.
Bravely, I raise my eyes to hers again. “I’m… trying to… to be… open-minded about it,” I tell her, clenching my clammy, shaking hands together. “I just need to know more, really understand, before I make a decision about- about being your… eighteenth.”
Her gaze is inscrutable. “Do you really think you’re just a number to me, Sebastian Stone?” she asks me.
My heart skips a couple of beats. I want to believe I’m more than just a number to her. She’s acting like I am, too. Dinner here. Riding the Ducati together. Sleeping in her bed, in her bedroom. Sharing her shower.
“And I’m trying to be as honest with you as I can, too,” I add in a tremulous whisper. “Like I said, this”–anal intercourse, spanking with a paddle, his… his semen!— “is… really… just outside of my- my comfort zone.”
Silence ticks the minutes by, and she doesn’t answer me for a long time.
“One of the reasons why it is essential that you communicate honestly with me,” she finally says, eyes burning, “is because you’re outside your comfort zone.” She says it a little wryly.
Then, suddenly, she sighs, her blue eyes turning cloudy grey with tragedy, and she slides her hand over the cover of the Handbook ruefully. “Believe me, I know I’m a horrible, horrible person to suggest someone as innocent as you even think about being with me in these ways, but-”
“No!” I protest. “You’re not horrible, Lark. Please don’t say that! You’re- you’re… special. You’re the most wonderful, special, amazing woman I’ve ever known!”
I’ve blurted it out, and there’s no taking the words back. I know I’m turning red.
She looks stunned by my admission. “No,” she says softly, shaking her head. “There are things- But you don’t need to know how fucked up I am. That’s not part of this,” she interrupts herself. “This is about you. Your boundaries. Your consent. Your pleasures. Your comfort zone. Bash,” she goes on, and I’m overjoyed to hear her use my nickname again. Maybe I haven’t ruined everything? “Bash, what you don’t seem to understand is that a relationship like this is about going outside your comfort zone. Trusting me to push you past it, for your own sexual pleasures.” She reaches for my hand again, and even though it’s cold and clammy from my nerves, I let her take it.
“It’s clear that you aren’t entirely comfortable with your sexuality,” she continues softly. “It’s even very understandable, considering your situation. A virgin at 21. Inexperienced. Innocent.” She takes a deep breath. “That is what is so empowering about you giving up control to me, so that I can take you to these new places, give you experiences you might over-think otherwise. Even things you might be afraid of at first. Sometimes,” she adds, “the very things you fear most are the ones that end up being the most exciting. You discover the fear was all in your mind, and when a good Master helps you manage, even overcome, your fears through your submission and obedience, you can even discover these are the very things that bring you the most pleasure of all.”
She takes a deep breath, still holding my hand. “And we would share that, that trust and intimacy, between the two of us, Bash. It’s a level of trust and intimacy few get to experience. It’s not a mere boyfriend-girlfriend relationship. It’s at a different, higher level.” She gives me a soft, girlish smile filled with wonder. “I’ve never had a virgin before, Bash. Never had a boy as innocent and inexperienced as you. Do you know how arousing it is to me to think that I am the first, the only one, to do these things to you? That I am the one to teach you about sexual pleasures, if only you’ll allow me? How special, how remarkable that is? That gives you incredible power in our relationship, you know.”
“Oh….” It’s all I can say. My mind is whirling like a crazy carnival ride on high speed.
She gazes at me for the longest time, her expression a mixture of sadness and longing that I didn’t expect.
MBO Playlist, “I Wish I Felt Nothing,” The Wallflowers