(It’s been a hot minute, my darlings, but welcome back! What better way to spend endless shelter-in-place than with some smut?)

I climb the stairs to our front door blinded with tears that I refuse to let fall. Everything is a blur. How is it I always feel like this after I’ve been with her, like I’ve survived something dangerous, and yet as euphoric as if I’ve discovered magic and unicorns and all that? Is this what love feels like? Maybe I had been wiser than I thought to never engage with such things in the first place. 

I guess this must be why there are so many novels and poems and songs about it. I fumble with my keys, sighing unconsciously as I think over the songs in my own collection, the singer-songwriters who warned me of such things. Jeff Buckley, Phil Collins, Paul Simon, Joy Division. It’s time for me to pull some albums out and sit in the dark, nursing this agonizing wound that I have no idea how to staunch. Will that help with this agony that I can’t begin to understand?

Closing the front door behind me, faced with the empty, dark, cold apartment, I gulp down a moan of pain.

I’m grateful that Lark arranged for Aiden to be out of the apartment tonight. I don’t want to have to deal with his Inquisitions, not now. I need to be alone. It suits my mood.  

I just need to be away from all of the exhausting turmoil that has become my life since Lark Blackwood walked into it, merely twelve days ago.  

Stumbling into my bedroom, kicking off my shoes, all I want to do is sit in the dark with some gloomy music blasting, but I haven’t even pulled off my sweatshirt when my phone in its pocket buzzes with a message. 

I pull it out, and the number that I have saved only as “L.” is showing a new text to me.

Are you home safely? 

My heart lurches. 

My fingers skim over the screen of my older-model smartphone, typing out a response and hitting send before I can stop myself. 

Where else would I be? You saw me go in with your own eyes. 

Bubbles flicker on the tiny screen for the longest time before her reply finally flashes up. 

You need to learn to accept my concern for you.

Why? I type back. You weren’t concerned enough to come upstairs with me so we could talk. Or is our crap apartment slumming it for a big-shot billionaire like you?

Another interminable wait, and then…. I am assuming that all of the wine you had at dinner has gone to your head for you to say such things. You are beginning to make me angry, and trust me, you do NOT want that to happen. For your sake as well as mine.

Goddamn it all! I think, throwing my phone across the room, where it bounces harmlessly against the bathrobe hanging on the back of my closet door. Why does she act this way, treat me this way? It’s like being on a whole carnival of rides, sending me careening up and down, one way and then the other, until I can’t see straight and my stomach is in my throat. I bury my face in my hands for one anguished minute, but then I’m snatching up the phone from the floor, and typing my answer.

You never seem to care about “my sake” in the first place, I fire off, jamming my thumb on “send.”

But it’s not enough. I keep typing and sending messages in a flurry of words. You say you are concerned about me, but you don’t act like it, do you? You don’t care about what I do or don’t want to do. You yell at me and fight with me and punish me, and tell me it’s for MY sake? And then when I offer something or ask something, like inviting you to my place, which you’ve never seen before, you can’t get away from me fast enough. It’s obvious you just think I’m some guy to fuck a couple times because the mood struck you, and who knows what will happen next week when you decide that you want to train some other “lad” because I’m not good enough and will never be good enough for you?

I’m panting by the time I press send on this. Maybe THAT will give her something to think about, off in that fancy car and mansion of hers. 

It only takes seconds for her to reply this time.

You really think that you are just “some guy to fuck a couple times”?
My heart squeezes. That’s what it feels like sometimes.
I would not have suggested any sort of relationship with you if I didn’t feel you were “good enough,” Sebastian. It causes me a great deal of pain to know that you still won’t accept that. Or accept anything from me. Why can’t you accept the compliments and gifts I give you for what they are instead of using them against me this way?

Hot tears prick my eyes again. I’m sorry, I type back with shaking hands. I don’t mean to hurt you. I’m just scared, and all of this is out of my league.  

It doesn’t have to be like this, Sebastian. If you try, really try, to be truly obedient this weekend, you’ll see how much easier it is when you give up control instead of micromanaging every step of the way. I know what I’m doing. If you can trust me, I can show you pleasures you never dreamed of. 

But I do trust her! Don’t I? If I do, why am I still hesitating?

It makes no sense to me. No sense at all. 

Why can’t you be this open and honest with me when we are together, Bash?

Sebastian? Are you going to answer me?

I’m waiting, and you know I am not a patient woman.

I can’t. I just can’t.

I fall back on my bed and, suddenly, I’m crying. Really crying. Sobbing. I didn’t cry when I broke my big toe, or when my mom left, or when I went away to college, but I’m crying now. 

I mash my hot face into my pillow and let the sobs take over, wracking my whole body, jerking from my throat. 

No matter what happens, I am going to end up like this: alone, in utter agony, crying. Because I can’t be what she wants. I’m going to fail. To disappoint her. And then she’ll drop me, no matter what she says. 

We’re just fundamentally incompatible in every way. We come from two worlds that could not be more different. The fact that I’ve fallen head-over-heels in love with her doesn’t matter. The fact that we have the most amazing sex in the world doesn’t matter. 

Does it?

I groan again in torment, burying my face deeper into my pillow, but the sobs don’t abate.

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