Novel Name : Checklist J, K, L

Chapter 9


She was already regretting this. It had been a snap decision to meet Grif in person. Seeing him, and
being with him, at Las Palmas was part of the structure of her life. That structure had fallen apart when
she’d left the club last night/early this morning. At loose ends on an unexpectedly free Saturday she’d
gotten up early, gone for a run, then done something she rarely did. She’d taken a nap.

After waking up from a mid-morning slumber she’d felt disconnected and confused, as if she was Rip
Van Winkle sleeping for 100 years instead of only an hour.

She’d just finished showering and getting dressed in preparation to go out and maybe do some retail
therapy, followed by lunch with any friends she could find who didn’t already have plans, when Grif had
texted.

And now here she was, standing in the travertine courtyard of the Getty Center. Clumps of tourists
walked around wearing headphones or following guides. Los Angelenos were easy to identify because
many of them had blankets, picnic baskets, or even laptop bags, and were planning to make use of the
museum grounds to while away the afternoon or people-watch while writing their screenplay.

She adjusted her bag on the crook of her arm and resisted the urge to brush at her dress. Because
she’d planned on maybe going out to lunch, instead of an expensive yet casual look—a staple in LA—
of jeans and a $500 designer t-shirt, she’d put on a sheath dress with an asymmetrical collar and T-
strap heels.

What would Grif think of her, dressed like this?

What did it matter? That man had seen her naked—more than naked, he’d been inside her—so why
was she nervous about how she looked?

Damn it, this was the same thing that had happened at the club, and one of the reasons she’d safe
worded out.



“Davina.”

She froze at the sound of her name, a momentary stillness she forced herself to break by turning just
her head to look in the direction the voice had come from.

Grif looked much the same as he did at the club—handsome and almost wholesome, if not for the way
one corner of his mouth curled up in a little devilish half smile. Sunlight kissed his hair, bringing out
hints of red and bronze. He wore jeans and a dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up.

His forearms were lightly tanned but still freckled, and roped with muscle. His dress shirt clung to the
muscles of his upper arms just enough to let the viewer know that there would be an impressive
anatomical display when he stripped, but not so tight as to look cheap or vulgar.

The man had very sexy arms.

He was walking a bit faster than was casual—a purposeful, determined stride. Some insane part of her
wanted to do something fun or dramatic—turn on her heel, cock a hip to the side and wink, or hike up
her skirt and jump into his arms when he was close enough.

She forced herself to remain still, moving only her head to track his movement as he approached her,
finally stopping before her, only a few feet of space separating them.

Grif’s gaze stayed focused on her face, and the fact that he didn’t look her up and down, assessing her
outfit and making assumptions because of it, made her feel better.

“Thank you for meeting me,” he said softly.

She’d been the one to issue the invitation, but she nodded in agreement with his statement.

Now he looked away from her, around the courtyard. “It’s been a while since I’ve been here, but I
remember there being some good places to talk. Balconies and stuff, or the restaurant.”



“Let’s walk.” She started for the South Pavilion, realizing a moment too late that she hadn’t asked, but
commanded, and that she’d then started moving before waiting to see if he agreed. This was real
Davina—a woman who had learned to be aggressive, dictatorial, and “bitchy”, though if she’d been a
man, she would have simply been called a good leader.

Grif’s long legs closed the distance her brief head start had created in a matter of strides. “Lead the
way,” he said amiably.

Davina’s shoulders relaxed.

The architectural marvel of the Getty Center complex was as much a piece of art as the works housed
in its galleries. Multiple terraces took advantage of the location atop the hills of Westwood, looking over
the city of angels. Part of the upper level of the South Pavilion was closed while they installed a new
exhibit, but there was a small terrace off of it that would most likely be deserted since no one would
have a reason to go there.

They walked in companionable silence, weaving around clumps of people as they navigated the
courtyard and then followed the rush of people headed into the plaza level exhibit of the building.
Whenever they came to a doorway, Grif would pull ahead and hold it open for her.

As they walked, the crowds around them thinned. They exited a staircase onto the large upper-level
terrace. There were fewer than a dozen people out here, and all of them leaning on the railings, looking
at the view.

No one stopped to look at them. No one watched as they took a set of exterior stairs back down to the
plaza level terrace opposite the courtyard entrance.

As she’d suspected, it was deserted.



The tension that had released earlier had slowly returned, until she was fighting the urge to roll her
shoulders to try to loosen the tight muscles.

Grif walked to the rail-topped terrace wall and leaned against it. They were at the outer edge of the
Getty Center, overlooking the urban sprawl of Los Angeles, so though they were on the first floor of the
building, they were high above the city, the hill falling away from the base of the building.

Grif’s jeans molded to his ass in all the right ways.

Davina took a moment to appreciate the view—well, both views—then walked up beside him. She set
her purse on the ground at her feet—somewhere her personal shopper Jade was screaming at the way
she was treating a $34,000 bag—and placed her hands on the rail.

In her peripheral vision, she saw Grif turn his head to look at her. “This is new territory for us.”

“It is.”

“We’ve been doing a lot of new things.” The words were careful, almost hesitant.

Davina made a disgusted noise in the back of her throat. “Enough of this. Let’s speak plainly.”

“Okay.” Grif pushed up and turned to face her, one hip on the rail, his arms crossed over his chest.
“What the hell, Davina?”

She stayed as she was, looking out over the golden brown and green hills. “That kind of play, it pushes
some old buttons for me.”

“Two things. First, why didn’t you tell me? Second, what buttons?”

She’d asked him to be direct, and he was. Good. This is what they needed.

No matter how painful it might be for her.



“I will answer the second question first. I…have trouble…with that sort of delicate submission.”

“I don’t know what that means.”

She sighed, resisted the urge to fidget. “The jewelry, the…chains… They aren’t real bondage. They
aren’t strong enough to actually hold a person.”

“Yes, that was kind of the point.”

“That means I needed to hold still, stay focused on being submissive.”

The words hung there. His gaze was like a physical pressure on her left side.

“I guess the simplest way to say it is that, with ropes and impact play, it’s physical. What we did last
night was more mental.”

“I think that’s oversimplified, but I see what you’re getting at.”

“It is oversimplified, so now I’ll answer your first question.” She gathered her courage and turned to
face him. “The answer to that question is also the answer to the question of why I became a Domme.”

Grif was frowning, but watching her with the sort of dedicated concentration that let her know she had
every ounce of his attention.

“Before I was a Domme, before I joined Las Palmas, I was a sub.”

“You started as a submissive, went Domme, and then went back?” he clarified.

“Yes, and no. I mean I was a sub, a lifestyle sub. Maybe even…maybe even so dedicated I could be
called a slave, though we didn’t use that term.”

“You?” He blurted out the word, then winced. “Sorry, sorry. You just surprised me.”



Davina let out a little laugh. “Don’t apologize. Your reaction actually makes me feel better.”

“You’re going to have to explain that.” Grif smiled a little. “Actually you’re going to have to just keep
explaining until I get it.”

“When I was younger I was very career focused and ambitious. I had trouble in relationships, because I
had a hard time being open—I sort of viewed them as potential business partnership opportunities—
and, most of the time, I didn’t make it past the third date.”

Grif nodded encouragingly.

“I started to get worried about the situation. I wanted a relationship, I just couldn’t figure out how to get
one, and if I did, would I drive him away. My therapist suggest finding a venue for meeting people
where I would be put in a role that required me to be open. She suggested something like a surfing or
cooking class, since being a student means being open to learning. Maybe I’d meet someone there,
who would see me trying and failing at something as I learned rather than me walking into a coffee
shop ready for battle.” She gestured at her dress and heels.

Grif’s gaze slid down her body, then back up. “That dress is very nice, and totally inappropriate for the
battlefield.”

Davina chuckled. “Boardroom battlefield.” It felt good to have him banter with her.

“Even so, a sword would really complete the ensemble. If you need one, I know a guy.”

This time when she laughed it came from her belly, a burst of genuine amusement.

“It might make your meetings more interesting,” he mused.

“I’m sure it would.”



Silence descended, but this time it was companionable. There was more she needed to say, but it felt
so good to be normal with him—and this banter was their normal—that she was loath to break the
silence.

Grif shifted a little closer to her, and turned his back to the stunning view. He held out his arm, offering
her the space at his side. A lot of times he did this at the end of a scene, before they fully transitioned
to aftercare. He’d hold out his arm, and she’d fit herself against him, his strong arm pulling her tight
against his side in a half hug. Then he’d kiss her forehead, murmur something to make her laugh, and
they’d head to whatever room they were using for aftercare.

Another familiar gesture and feeling in an unfamiliar place, and on a day that had been unsettling since
the time she woke up.

Davina slid into his embrace with desperate relief, exhaling against his collar. His arm came around her
the way it always did. If she closed her eyes—and ignored the thin fabric of his shirt separating her
cheek from his shoulder—she could imagine they were at Las Palmas, that nothing had changed.

“Tell me the rest,” Grif said lowly. “You were going to take a class to try and meet people.”

“That’s what my therapist said I should do. Instead I decided to get into BDSM.”

“Did you know about it before then?”

“A bit, just from pop culture, fiction books. But I did my research, read guides and books about real life
BDSM. I went to seminars, and finally some munches. That’s where I met Vance.”

“He sounds like a dick,” Grif growled.

“I haven’t said anything about him.”

“His name is dick-ish.”



“Right. That makes perfect sense,” she teased.

Grif squeezed her. “Sorry, didn’t mean to interrupt. I just already hate this fucker.”

Why did she feel like smiling and crying simultaneously?

“Vance and I started scening together regularly. When I was subbing it was…so freeing. I’d read about
that, and knew I needed some sort of outlet, since I’m such a controlled person the rest of the time, but
actually experiencing it was…it was truly life-changing.”

“What kind of scenes were you doing? What was his theory of submission?” Grif demanded.

“Sounds like you know where this is going.”

“Just a suspicion. I want to hear it from you.”

It was easier to talk about this when she couldn’t see his face, when she was resting against the solid
strength of his body.

“He was a rules and manners Dom. We used high protocol, and I ended every sentence with ‘Sir’ or
‘Master.’” She closed her eyes to mitigate the disconnect between her physical location and her words.

“We didn’t use many toys, or anything like that. We would rent hotel rooms, so there wasn’t equipment
besides portable things. Lots of spankings, and punishment was being made to stand in the corner with
nipple weights, or a plug with chili oil on it. If I moved or cried, time would be added to my punishment.
It meant that I had to find my subspace to get through a punishment and I…”

This was the hardest part. Grif must have realized that, because he kissed her head, keeping his lips
pressed against her forehead for several seconds.



“I liked it. I would bliss out when I was with him. I would find subspace and for a while nothing would
matter.”

“It sounds like it was a good relationship,” Grif sounded somewhat resigned.

“It was, at first. The first few months being with Vance made me more focused when I wasn’t with him. I
was incredibly professionally successful during that time.”

“What happened?”

“If we’d stayed there, kept the relationship as it was, it would have been perfect. Maybe I would still be
with him.”

“It sounds like something bad is about to happen in this story, but I’m not sad that you’re not with him.”
Grif squeezed her again.

Her throat was tight with emotion, and she had to take a moment to swallow past those feelings before
she could go on.

“Then we signed a new contract. Instead of the D/s just being in the bedroom, it was full time. Not
exactly twenty-four seven, since we weren’t living together, but every morning he would text me to tell
me if I was allowed to wear panties that day.”

She burrowed a little closer to Grif. He smelled so good—warm and familiar, safe but exciting.

“It was the sort of stuff that sounded sexy, until I actually had to live it. I had twenty minutes to respond
to a text. It didn’t matter if I was in a meeting or asleep. I had twenty minutes to respond, or I’d be
punished. At first I’d just go to the bathroom or something to reply.” Davina made a frustrated noise.
“I’m telling this wrong.”

“What do you mean?”



“It isn’t really what happened that made it bad, but how I felt. Instead of compartmentalizing, and
focusing 100% on the D/s when I was with him, and 100% on work at work, everything was all mixed
up.”

“That’s hard,” Grif said softly.

“But the part that…the part that made me stop subbing was how I started to lose confidence in myself.”

“What?” Grif pulled away just enough to look at her. “D/s play should make you feel more secure, more
centered and confident.”

“And it had, at the beginning. Then I started worrying about things like if I looked good, was he happy
with me. Every word I said was more about being submissive and pleasing him than it was about
honest and open communication.”

“And he didn’t notice.”

“I don’t know. We were never romantically involved, we had no relationship outside D/s, so we had no
friendship or non-sexual relationship to fall back on.”

“So you didn’t talk.”

“No. Sometimes we’d spend a whole weekend together, and I wouldn’t say more than 10 words. But I’d
be in subspace the whole time. That’s how I did it. I had gotten so submissive when I was with him that
if he told me to go kneel in the corner I completely blissed out.”

“Woah,” Grif let out a breath. “I have to confess something, after you’re done.”

“There isn’t really much more to tell. I broke off the relationship when I realized I had become so
passive in my own life that my work was suffering. Colleagues thought I was sick because I was so
uncharacteristically quiet, and had lost weight.”



“What made you break it off? I mean what was the final straw?”

“Actually, I went to see my gynecologist for a regular check-up, and she took one look at me, and
ordered up bloodwork. I was severely anemic, dehydrated, etcetera. It had gotten to the point that I
would eat hardly anything when I was with Vance, and even when I wasn’t, I wouldn’t go out to the
grocery store, or to get food, in case I missed a call from him. I was only eating once a day, at lunch,
and only then because my assistant would go get the food and put it in front of me.”

“What the fuck do you mean you wouldn’t eat when you were with him? He didn’t feed you?”

“No. Looking back on it, I’m not sure if it was a power move—to see if I was submissive enough to stay
quiet, even if I was hungry and thirsty—or if he just forgot about me. Sometimes I felt like a piece of art,
there to be occasionally admired, but not used or touched.”

“And you were in subspace when he did that?”

“Yes. Well, mostly. How I was then, that is what I call subspace. That’s why I made up the term ‘my
serenity’ to describe subspace that isn’t totally self destructive.”

“And after you got out of that relationship you, understandably, didn’t want to sub, so you became a
Domme?”

“I knew I needed D/s in my life, but I was unwilling to give up control. That’s why I applied to Las
Palmas as a switch.” He deserved to hear the next part directly. Davina straightened away from him,
then positioned herself in front of him. Grif reached out for her, placing his hands on her hips, then
apparently thought better of it and placed his hands on the railing. It almost looked like he physically
had to hold himself back from touching her.

“I never told you this, but our friendship, and being play partners, it healed me in a lot of ways. I never
thought I’d want to submit again, but watching how you were with your subs, it made me realize that I



could sub without losing myself the way I had with Vance.”

“I’m glad.” His gaze was soft and warm. “You mean…you mean a lot to me.”

Well that was a loaded statement if she’d ever heard one. Davina raised one eyebrow. Grif shrugged
and looked away.

“So I’m guessing,” he said, “that the scene last night with just the chains and jewelry was too
reminiscent of your time with the dumb fucker.”

“Vance.”

“I’m sticking with dumb fucker.”

Davina held back the smile. “It wasn’t that what we did was a repetition of what I did with him, but more
that I felt myself slipping into that deep subspace, and I liked it.”

She paused to let that sink in, for both of them.

“But at the same time I started to worry about stupid things like if I had stomach rolls when I was sitting
on the stool.” She hugged herself. “I worried about it, because my Master deserved to look at a sub
who was visually pleasing.”

“Oh. Oh shit.”

“Precisely,” she agreed.

Grif rolled his shoulders, hands still gripping the rails. “Now is probably the right time for me to confess.
And by right time, I mean completely wrong time.”

“Confess away,” Davina waved one hand dramatically.



“I was trying to get you in subspace.”

That wasn’t what she’d expected him to say. “I’m sorry?”

“You so rarely let go, and the note from the overseers said it was supposed to be a challenge, and so
that was my challenge to myself—get you into subspace without impact play or rope bondage. I could
tell what was working and leaned into it.” He grimaced. “I had no idea what I was doing was actually
poking at some old emotional wounds and triggers.”

Davina felt like she’d been sucker punched. “You wanted me to be more submissive?”

“No, that’s not what I’m saying.”

“That’s why you got hard so fast.” It felt like there were bees buzzing in her brain, making it hard to
focus, hard to think. “Then it’s something about me, something about me makes men want me to be
silent and still and helpless and—”

Grif grabbed her by the shoulders. “No, Davina, stop it.”

“Is that an order, Master?” she snarled.

“No, damn it, it’s not.” He released her, holding his hands up in the “don’t shoot” posture.

“I didn’t want you submissive, I wanted you to let go. Damn it, Davina, I want to take care of you. That’s
why I top, why I’m a Dom. I like, I need to take care of someone.”

That took some of the wind out of her sails of anger.

Grif dropped one hand, rubbed the other over his face. “You’re so closed, so controlled, but I see how
much happier, calmer, you are after a scene where you hit subspace—or, uh serenity. I wanted to get
you there again.”



He shoved his hands in his pockets. “And yea, I was really fucking turned on when you called me
Master. You’d never done it before, and I…I wanted you to.”

Davina felt both thrilled and strangely touched to hear him say that. It was like the captain of the
baseball team asking her to go steady and be his girl, except the grown-ass woman version where the
captain of the baseball team was a ridiculously sexy Dom and he wanted to be her Master.

“We’re bonded,” she reminded him softly. “In the eyes of the club that means more than using any
particular term.”

“I know that. And now that I know you have some past bad associations with ‘Master’ I get why you
didn’t, don’t, use that word but it…it bugged me.”

“Why didn’t you ever tell me?”

His brows climbed halfway to his hairline. “Why didn’t you tell me about your past?”

“Fair point.”

Grif reached out for her, but dropped his hand. She was going to have to bridge the gap between them.
Davina took one step, the toe of her shoe between his insteps. With deliberate care, she leaned into
him. First, her knees touched his, then their thighs pressed together. Hips, stomachs, then her breasts
were pressed against his chest.

Out of the corner of her eye, she watched him grip the railing so hard his knuckles went white. He was
fighting to keep still, to keep from Dom-ing out and taking control of this moment.

Perverse thing that she was, she found that ridiculously sexy.

Davina wrapped her arms around his neck, pulled herself up onto her toes, and feathered kisses along
his jaw.



“Davina,” he growled.

“Yes?”

“I need to know we’re okay. You safe worded out, and now I get why, but I need to know how you want
to…what we’re…”

She was gently nipping his jaw, and it was—delightfully—killing his concentration.

“I’m not sure what you’re asking,” she whispered in his ear. “Maybe if you finished the sentence.” She
sucked on his earlobe.

Grif snarled something that might have been an oath, then grabbed her hips. With delightful speed and
strength he flipped their positions. Her ass against the wall, the railing at her back, his heavy, hard body
pinning her there.

The pressure of being squeezed was delightful and relaxing. Davina tipped her head back, looking up
at the towering wall of travertine, and above that the pale blue sky.

Grif wrapped one hand very gently around her throat. Davina closed her eyes in relieved bliss. “Yes,”
she murmured.

“We need to work out how we’re going to move forward, but not here, and not now.”

He was right, but that didn’t stop her from fantasizing about being spun around, bent over the railing,
and fucked right here.

“Next weekend. At Las Palmas,” Grif said.

“It’s only Saturday morning,” she murmured. “We could go back right now.”



“We could, but—” He interrupted himself, capturing her lips in a needy kiss. His tongue swept into her
mouth, the force of the kiss as overwhelming and comforting as the pressure of his body against hers.

When he pulled back, she was breathless and aroused, her nipples hard, her pussy damp.

“But we won’t.”

“Won’t what?”

“Won’t go back to Las Palmas today. You, my minx, are going to have to wait.”

Grif released her and stepped back. The sexy asshole was grinning. He knew exactly what that kiss
had done to her.

And if the front of his jeans was any indication, he felt the same. And yet he was going to make them
wait.

“That’s just sadistic,” she grumped.

Grif picked up her purse and held it out. “I’m full service like that.”

Davina looped the purse over her arm, shook her head back. “In that case, you can escort me to the
tram.”

“Do you want to…get a cup of coffee?”

“Why, Grif, are you asking me out on a date?”

He looked away and laughed. “Minx.”

He sounded…strained. The laugh, his voice.



Had he been asking her out on a date?

He offered his arm, and Davina slid hers through, fingers on his forearm.

The equilibrium they’d achieved seemed to have rocked off center once again.

Davina had no idea how to fix it, and she was already emotionally exhausted. They stayed silent as
they walked through the Getty. He escorted her onto the tram, then through the parking lot to her car.

Wanting to fix this, Davina kissed the corner of his mouth. “Next weekend.”

He gave her that half smile, but his eyes seemed almost sad. “Next weekend,
Minx.”


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