I see her feet as she crosses the room, and I brace myself-
But she just bends and picks up my phone, then hands it to me.
“Here,” she says. “Look.”
The screen shows a whole list of text messages I’ve missed.
From Lark. I’m tempted to turn the car around right now.
Sebastian, if you don’t respond to me, I am going to assume the worst.
What the fuck is going on, Sebastian? I have minimal tolerance for this kind of game-playing.
Have you done something to hurt yourself? Are you in danger?
And then a flurry of texts from Aiden: Bro, u ok? Lark here asking a/b u.
B, what’s up?
Am out w Ari at dinner, but if u r in trouble I can come back?
Lark wants to borrow my keys to check on u. That ok?
Bash, pls respond.
Gave her keys so she can check on u. All worried.
Ur freaking me out, dude. If I don’t hear from u asap, I’m coming back.
The last text was just a couple minutes ago.
I’m okay, I text him back quickly. Just a misunderstanding. No need to come back.
Lark’s head tilts to one side, and her eyes narrow.
“Aiden,” I explain. “I just wanted to let him know I’m….” my voice trails away.
“I see. You respond to him, but not me?”
But I didn’t respond to him, either, I think, frustration welling up again.
“I just don’t understand what game you’re playing with me,” she finally whispers, eyes wide and bewildered.
“I just don’t see why you always have to be such… such a control-freak all the time about everything,” I murmur. “You… you frighten me sometimes,” I admit, even though I feel like a pathetic child. Like tonight, in the helicopter.
“I don’t know any other way,” she frowns. “This is who I am, Sebastian.”
“But why? Why is this who you are?!” I know I’m treading on dangerous ground, but I can’t help it. “Is it just because of- of him? Your… your stepbrother, what he did to you when you were so young-”
“Sebastian! You are misrepresenting everything! You don’t understand how-”
“Then help me understand!” I beg her desperately. “Why can’t you-”
“Because I am completely fucked up, okay, Bash? Is that what you want to hear?” She paces my room, looking polished and elegant beyond words in contrast to my tattered posters and cheap furniture.
She whirls on me. Her eyes are blue flames, sparking and dangerous. “Suffice it to say, I had a rather difficult, complicated introduction to life. My first years weren’t exactly sunshine and roses. And as a result, I am a fucking broken, obsessive, fucked-up fucking mess, and this is the only way I know how to deal with it! I need that control! I have to have it!”
The thought of her as a lost, lonely child fills my mind again, and the idea that she had faced some unspeakable harm or trauma that made her… this way, it makes my heart constrict in pity.
Of course, if she weren’t fucked-up, she probably wouldn’t want you, my Superego points out. Goddamn him and his psychology bullshit. But it’s true.
Is this how I reach her, really reach her?
Her face is paler than ever, smooth, white skin marked by deep pink flushing on her high cheekbones. “Bash…. You don’t seem to understand how vulnerable I am in this arrangement as well. You aren’t the only one.”
I understand what she’s trying to tell me, maybe what she’s been trying to tell me all along: we’re in this together, she and I. Whatever fucked up dom-and-sub power-and-punishment relationship this is and might be, we are still in it together. Me and Lark, my glorious, perfect, beautiful obsession.
I gulp. I’m not sure what to say, what I should do. I certainly didn’t expect her to show up here, and now I have no idea how I’m supposed to get myself out of this whole mess I’ve created.
“Bash…” her voice goes even duskier, “you’re licking your lip again.”
Oh. I am? I flush. “I didn’t realize I was.”
“You know what that does to me,” she breathes.
I blink up at her, like a forest creature would at a lithe panther about to rip it apart in its jaws, or at a beautiful but deadly falcon with killing talons.
To my utter awe and amazement, she saunters closer, slowly. About to strike a deadly blow?
I pull in a slow breath as my desire for her unwinds inside me, hot, smoldering, electric.
“You know, don’t you?” she repeats, and her hand reaches for me, her fingers touching my wet lower lip, the tip of my tongue. Her eyes are searing and challenging.
She knows exactly what she’s doing to me.
“You know it makes me want to fuck you, Sebastian.”
Oh, good god, yes! My Id springs up out of hiding, whooping with excitement, and even my Superego pours a dram of sherry with a libidinous look on his face.
“I want that, too,” I whisper.
“Do you?” she asks, her fingers tracing over my lips, then the thumb-pad trailing along my jaw.
Everything from my toes to my navel has turned into a churning, aching mass of desire for her.
“Yes….” I say on an audible exhale.
Her eyebrows arch with amusement as her fingers take a sensuous journey from my jawline to my earlobe, teasing, taunting, tantalizing. My heart pounds triple-time.
“It’s not possible tonight,” she whispers, eyes heavy-lidded.
“It’s not?” I bleat.
“Mmmm, no, regretfully not.” Her fingers ease into my hair, so recently damp and matted from my bout of crying. They gently work through my unruly curls.
I’m panting and aching. Oh, how I want this woman!
“We don’t have any condoms,” she points out, a faint smile hovering on that beautiful, perfect mouth of hers.
“I- I could check Aiden’s room-”
Lark laughs at that, throwing her head back as mirth shakes her.
Humiliation scorches me yet again. Is she doing this, leading me on, just for kicks?! Is this part of her whole kinky dom thing?!
I cover my face with my hands, and seriously consider crawling under my bedcovers to get away from the panic and embarrassment surging through my veins.
“No,” she whispers, shaking her head, her eyes still sparking with amusement. “None of those silly drugstore things. We must be regretfully abstemious.”
“Oh.” Dammit. Fuck. Shit. Hell. I ache with disappointment as well as arousal.
“Besides, you have an important day tomorrow, don’t you?”
“Your new job?” she reminds me, still looking amused. “The recording production company?”
Oh, that! I’d completely forgotten that in the mayhem of her being here now, and all that’s happened, but yes, I have to be up early and there by 8am, ready to go, for my orientation. Of course, it’s just orientation, not a full work-day or anything, but it’s still important. I frown. Couldn’t we still… do things?
“You need a good night’s sleep. Not my endless, fucked-up, selfish demands on you and your time,” she adds with wry bitterness.
“No!” I protest. “You’re not selfish or fucked-up, Lark! It’s just-”
“Overwhelming?” she finishes for me, still with that wry note.
“Yes,” I admit. She said she wants my honesty, after all.
“And yet you think I’m selfish enough to come over here and fuck you anyway?” She shakes her head. “I’m not that much of a cruel, selfish beast.”
“I never thought that!”
“But,” she continues, turning away from me again, “you were rather forthcoming and lucid with your thoughts over text message just a few minutes ago. You’re never that open with me in person, Sebastian. Why? Why can’t you tell me what you’re thinking and feeling when we’re together like this? Why do you wait to hide behind anonymous technology? Or alcohol,” she adds, frowning. Her downturned mouth does nothing to mar its beauty, however.
I stare down at my kneecaps, ashamed. It’s all so confusing. I feel like I’m someone else when I’m with her, someone driven solely by carnal, sexual, passionate urges, and completely in her power. It’s not just unfamiliar, it’s terrifying. I’m not sure I like it.
Her fingers seize my chin, forcing me to look up at her again, and I’m momentarily dazzled by her breathtaking beauty.
“Tell me what you’re thinking. Right now,” she demands, taking me by complete surprise.
“That- that I’m… scared and confused and overwhelmed. I’m… not sure I… understand who and what I am when we’re… together.”
Her face is stern, blank; her eyes blue chips of crystal ice.
“You confuse me, Lark. And you scare me sometimes, too. It’s all so hot-and-cold, up-and-down. Tumultuous.” I wave one hand helplessly. “And I’m… I’m not sure I even like the person I am when I’m with you, when we’re… together, like that.”
To my amazement, instead of getting mad at me again, she smiles, and then laughs softly. “No, Bash.” She shakes her head, her coppery curls framing her perfect face. One finger traces my cheek. “When we are together, as you so innocently put it… you’re real. That’s the difference. This is who you really are, deep down inside. Who you’ve been afraid to be. What you’ve repressed. You are a passionate, sexual being. This is you, in purest form. Trust me.”
I shake my head, terror bubbling inside me like a pot of witches’ brew. “No, I’m not, it’s-”
But she cuts short my babble with a hot, passionate kiss, one that makes my head spin and my skin burst into flame.
Oh fuck, here we go again. Every time I try to talk, to think, to work things out with her in my head, or in person, this happens. And I have to admit, I crave it. My body betrays me, electric heat surging through my veins and sinews. I feel myself stirring… there, in my very core.
Still, I put up a token struggle, shaking my head, trying not to kiss her back, trying not to fall under her spell-
“Kiss me back, Sebastian!” she pleads in a rough-velvet voice. Her tongue is demanding, prying. I keep my mouth shut tight; I shake my head, no, feebly protesting, my breath hitching in my throat. I can’t do this. I don’t want this now, not really, not like this. Or maybe it’s that I don’t want to want this? Things are too confusing, it’s all happening too fast, and I need time-
But Lark’s mouth is on mine, hot, demanding. Her fists ball in frustration in my hair, tugging. “Oh, Sebastian… Goddamm it! Kiss me back.” Her anger is as hot as her lips. “Oh, God, baby,” she whispers. “I need you.”
This isn’t the solution to what’s wrong between us. This won’t help, I think, desperately, but…
She needs me. She said it.
She’s begging me. Pleading with me.
And oh, how I need her, too.
It’s no use, I think hopelessly. She’s stronger than me, more powerful, in charge. More everything. It’s no use fighting it. Fighting her. Fighting with her.
With a breathy whimper, I succumb to the tumult of passion she rouses in me. It’s inevitable. Maybe she’s right. Maybe this is really who I am: her lad, her boy, here to do with whatever she wants.
Her hand strokes my face again, as her tongue strokes mine, a sensual dance of heat and taste and eroticism. Oh, holy smokes, oh….
I’m trembling in her arms as her assault continues.
Maybe I’m addicted to her? Maybe she is the drug that gets me blissfully high, and yet will leave me trembling and desperate for my next fix. I want more and more and more.
“Who are you right now, Sebastian?” she murmurs, her lips against my panting mouth.
“Who are you, right this minute? Tell me who you are,” she pins me with her star-sapphire-and-bluebell eyes.
“I’m- I’m-” My words hitch, and my breath snags in my throat.
Her thumb trails my jaw as she stares into my eyes. “Who are you, right now, with me?”
“I’m yours,” I whisper, knowing it’s true. On the deepest, most essential levels, it’s the truest truth I know.