If he knew how to play it cool, he would. Sadly, that was not a skill Grif had ever learned. Not that he
didn’t know how to relax or be lazy, but when he was into something, or someone, he was all in.
Looking back, some of the most pivotal moments in his life had started with him saying, “You know
what would be awesome?” And then running enthusiastically with whatever idea had just come to him.
It’s how his college friendship with a cinema major—and late night discussions of the tech side of
filmmaking—had led to him developing a GoPro compatible hardware accessory and an accompanying
bit of sweet software that fixed some common user issues. The package quickly had become a must-
have for documentary film makers and vloggers.
He’d sold the hardware to one company, the software to another, and made a stupid amount of money.
Now he was a one-man R&D company backed by a venture capital group who threw money at him for
the right to have first bid on anything he created. He was also routinely hired by startups to create
prototypes of everything from space-age toothbrushes to cameras for them to show investors or put up
He started every project by getting excited about what he was about to do. There was nothing like
creating something the world had never seen before. Using tech and science to fix a problem, make life
easier, make the world a little more cool and interesting.
And now that he knew why Davina—his strong, self-assured minx—had safe worded out of a scene, he
was practically bouncing with anticipation. He wanted to fix this. To create a new relationship, a new
dynamic that would make her happy.
And what about you? Are you going to tell her you love her? Are you going to try and find your happy?
His inner voice wasn’t wrong—in fact, that inner voice sounded a lot like one of his good friends who
was a therapist—but with the will of someone headed headlong into a dangerous situation, he ignored
The door to the Conclave opened, and he forced himself not to react. The first few times the door
opened he’d whipped around, heart thudding in chest, only to find it was other couples, come to use
either the loft or one of the stables to work on their letters.
He ran his fingers over the jewelry and chains he’d laid out on a black velvet cloth. The cloth was on a
small table, set precisely beside an inclined St. Andrews’s cross.
Last weekend he’d had to improvise, since he hadn’t known what their letter would be, and in an effort
to challenge themselves he hadn’t asked Davina to help him plan the scene. The result had been
something good, but not amazing. Last week had been a prototype, that in the best engineering
tradition, failed gloriously, resulting in lots of good data he could work with in future planning and
Time to plan and map out what he was going to do was one of the reasons he hadn’t wanted to go
back to Las Palmas last Saturday after their meeting at the Getty Center.
He’d spent the work week getting little to no work done, but instead thinking about Davina. The
revelations about her past as a submissive put a few things in different context.
He’d assumed she liked to plan the scenes with him because she was a switch, and hadn’t been able
to completely let go of that need to control and direct. That was probably true, but he now wondered
how much of that need was about self-protection—making sure that a scene actually was a scene, and
not her getting ignored in a corner.
Davina. She was here. The gnawing worry that she wouldn’t show up faded.
He took his time lifting the jewelry collar from its place on the velvet cloth. Only then did he turn to face
Damn the woman was sexy. So fucking sexy it hurt. And smart and funny and…
Davina wore a form-fitting lace teddy. It hugged every curve, and the open pattern of the lace meant
that plenty of skin was visible. She wore soft black slippers, and her hair was back in its normal braid.
One thing that was missing was the glint of gold at her nipples.
“You look gorgeous, Minx.”
“Thank you, Sir.” She deliberately emphasized the last word, but not in a mocking way.
Grif held out his arm, as he had at the museum. She looped hers through his, and he led her over to
the small seating area he’d set up with straight backed chairs and a table.
He pulled out her chair and motioned for her to sit. She did so, looking bemused. He took the chair
across from her, then very deliberately set the jewelry collar down on the table.
She inhaled audibly when she realized what it was.
“We need to talk about our relationship.”
Davina looked from the collar to him. Emotions flittered across her face, before she smiled. No, that
wasn’t a smile. He knew how she smiled. This was cold and fake. A mask. “Of course,” she said
“Damn it, that’s not what I meant.” He’d practiced what he was going to say, and “we need to talk”
hadn’t been part of the script. It sounded like the start of a breakup, which was the last thing he wanted.
Why wasn’t he better at this?
Because now she’s here, and every time you see her you start acting like a lovesick, horny teenager.
God, his inner voice could be a dick.
“Rewind. Let me try this again. Last week didn’t work, and after we talked, I know why. But I don’t think
we should just go back to doing what we’ve been doing.”
“Why? What we were doing was working.” The fake smile was replaced by a frown. “At least it was
working for me.”
“It was…mostly…working for me too. I’m more inclined to top than to sub, but you know I’ll do either.”
She nodded. “True. You and I don’t see things as black and white. Only Dom or only sub.”
“And I still believe that, I do, but I want…Davina, I’d like you to be my sub.”
One eyebrow rose.
“I know you are the submissive partner, but I want…I want us to try more. I’m not talking about high
protocol or anything like that. Just being a little bit more…structured…than we have been.”
“You’re not happy with what we had?” Davina folded her arms, her body language screaming
defensive. “Why didn’t you say anything in the two years we’ve been bonded?”
“Of course I was happy.”
Unless you count the fact that I’m madly in love with you and don’t even know your last name.
“Hearing you call me Master, just come out and say it like that, it…It was something I didn’t know I
needed until I heard it. And seeing you submit that way…Well, I’m not even sure how to describe it
except it was like when you make a tweak to something and suddenly the output is four times as good
as it was before, and you didn’t even know the output could be that good.”
Davina smiled and this time it was real. “That is a terrible analogy.”
“I am fully aware of that,” he replied resignedly.
She reached across the table to touch his arm. “You know I liked what we did, liked being in that head
space again, liked letting go so much. But you also know why I’m very, very reluctant to do that again.”
“That’s why I’m asking you to trust me. You know me. Do you think I’d ever put you in a corner or
something stupid like that? And you’re at a club, where there’s lots of safety nets.”
“And bondage nets,” she teased.
Teasing was a good sign. “I mean, I wouldn’t be a member if there weren’t.”
“Standards,” she agreed solemnly.
“We’re going to have some guidelines,” he continued. “Because I don’t want to lose this.” He gestured
back and forth between them, using the motion to indicate their banter, their friendship that had come
before their D/s relationship.
“I don’t want to lose this either.”
“Then from now on, Friday nights are the same.”
“Dinner, drinks, people watching, planning,” she said.
“Our regular Friday night date routine.”
“Date,” she repeated softly.
“After that,” he hurriedly added, “if I put this collar on you, it means for the rest of the weekend I’m the
“You decide when it goes on?”
She hadn’t rejected the idea. That was enough to make his chest feel light with relief. “Top’s
She rolled her eyes playfully, but then her expression turned thoughtful.
“And what if—emotionally or physically—I need the collar?”
“You have to trust me to read you, and to know what you need.”
“And if I need some good tight rope bondage, something I can fight instead of something so delicate?”
That is what it all came down to. Would she, could she, trust him enough to let him really lead. She was
leaning towards him, a good sign, but she didn’t say anything more.
“We still plan out some scenes together,” he continued. “You’re sadistically creative, and I don’t want to
lose your deeply warped perspective.”
She snorted out a laugh. “Why, thank you.”
“But just because we plan out a scene, doesn’t mean we do it that weekend. We still get to collaborate,
but I decide when’s the right time to do it.” He put a bit of force behind the words.
Her tongue touched her top lip and she nodded once. “That seems reasonable.”
“So you agree?”
“I do.” She reached out, trailing her fingers along the jewelry collar. “I’m terrified, but I trust you.”
“We’ll make this work, we’ll find a way to practice BDSM that’s unique to us, something that combines
everything we both need.”
“That’s quite a promise, Grif. I’m complicated, people are complicated. It might not be possible to
weave all these pieces together.”
“Trust me enough to try.”
She closed her eyes and nodded.
Grif picked up the chain collar as he rose. He heard her breath hitch, her breasts rising and falling in an
uneven rhythm as he made his way to the back of her chair.
He undid the clasp of the collar, then reached over her head, letting it lay against her chest before
drawing it up, snug against her neck. Once it was fastened, he checked to make sure it wasn’t too tight.
“How do you feel?” He lay his palms on the tops of her shoulders, thumbs stroking the base of her
Grif’s cock, which had been slowly getting hard since he saw her, stood to attention. Yep, hearing her
call him Master pushed all his buttons.
Grif slid the thin straps of her lingerie off her shoulders so they dangled on her upper arms. “From now
on, you only wear things you’re okay having me rip or cut off you. I know you don’t want me to ruin your
stuff, so you need to make sure you have stuff on you don’t care about.”
“Yes, Master. Wait, you like ripping things off me? I thought you just forgot about my clothes.”
“Minx, no man forgets about getting his woman naked. Now it’s time to play. Come with me.”
* * *
Davina sighed in delight as her Master finished strapping her to the St. Andrew’s cross.
He stroked her sides, then grabbed hold of the back of her lace teddy. For a moment the fabric pulled
painfully tight around her chest, then there was a rip, and she felt the garment tear down the back. A
few more yanks at the bottom, and it was torn beyond repair.
“Feel better, Master?” she asked.
She waited for a twinge of feeling to strike her after using the word—fear, worry, something. There was
nothing, only anticipation. And the word wasn’t cold and distant, it was warm.
She could use that term now, without it being a sign of something dangerous and worrying. They’d
discussed, openly and honestly, what they both wanted and needed. She was wearing the collar, which
meant he was her Master, until the collar came off. She hadn’t yet found her serenity, but she knew she
would, and far more quickly and easily than she had in years.
“Much. And I’m liking the view.” He ripped the straps from the teddy, allowing it to fall off her body. “I
don’t want you worried that I won’t still flog you, or abuse this sweet ass,” her Master growled.
“So kind of you to reassure me, Master.” Davina twisted to look at him over her shoulder.
He was smiling as he shook out the tails of a deerskin flogger. “I’m a giver, what can I say?”
This was good—they could still tease one another, pull a piece of that dynamic they’d developed in
their two years as partners forward into this new iteration of their relationship.
He snapped the flogger against his lower leg.
The sound made her palms damp, her breath catch. Her arms were up and out, strapped to the St.
Andrew’s cross with leather buckles. Her feet were flat on the floor, cuffs around her ankles tethered to
the legs of the cross with short chains. She could shuffle her feet, shift her weight, but not close her
legs. He could have added more bonds, could have strapped her so tightly to the St. Andrew’s that she
couldn’t move, but he hadn’t. This felt almost like a middle ground, somewhere between the tight rope
bondage of a month ago, and the delicate restriction of last weekend’s chains.
She arched her back, pressing her hips back, her ass out. It was an invitation for him to flog her, punish
her, play with her. More than that, it was a confirmation of his right to do those things, because she had
chosen to give him this power over her.
He ran a firm hand from her left shoulder over the shoulder blade, mid-back, lower back, and her ass.
He then repeated that motion on the right.
This is where I’m going to flog you, his touch said.
The first thump of the flogger hit her right ass cheek. Floggers looked like they would sting, but actually,
despite the multiple strands, it was a single, thumping feeling, with maybe a few outlying snaps and
pinches where the tips of a few tails struck.
Davina rolled her neck and sighed happily. Oh yes, she needed this.
The next strike of the flogger seemed to brand those words, that thought, into her soul. She needed
Another few strikes to her ass as he found his rhythm. She didn’t have to look to know what he was
doing. For single strikes, he’d hold the handle of the flogger in his dominant right hand, catch the tails
with his left, then snap it forward, drawing the tails through the confinement of his left hand to make
sure all the strands stayed together.
But when he got into a rhythm, as he was now, he’d use just his right hand, moving his forearm and
wrist to create a figure eight pattern, catching her ass twice in each pass—once at the beginning, once
at the end.
Her bottom was starting to heat. Her nipples were tight with need.
There were plenty of people who could look at them and call this barbaric, or abuse, but turn around
and go get a sports massage without objection, when the latter was actually more painful, and had no
They wouldn’t know how much she needed this, how much she needed him.
She found herself rocking her hips forward and back, in rhythm with the flogging.
Yes, she needed him. Not just as a sexual partner, but as a…as a friend. A companion. But only here,
only on these all too rare, precious weekends. They had to keep their relationship confined inside Las
Palmas. It was too dangerous to do anything else. It might end up like it had with Vance.
Grif is nothing like Vance.
Thwack, thwack, thwack. He’d found his rhythm, his breathing slow and steady. She needed this. He
needed to do this to her.
Thwack, thwack, thwack.
She’d forgotten that good impact play could be more than an emotional release, it could also bring
That wasn’t always a good thing. Some revelations were too hard to deal with.
You need him. You know it, but you’re scared. That’s why, when he asked you out on a date, you
deliberately misinterpreted. Pretended it wasn’t what it was, and you hurt his feelings. You know you
Damn it, damn it.
Davina sucked in a breath, released it on a sob.
There was a pause in the rhythm of the flogger. She would beg him to keep going, beg him not to stop
so she could shove all these feelings back in the box where they needed to go.
The flogger struck her right shoulder, shocking her into yelping.
“Breath into it,” her Master commanded. “You need this. I need this.”
The words yanked the tension from her limbs, and submission made her body soft and relaxed. “Yes,
The flogger struck the opposite side of her back, high enough to avoid the danger zone of her kidneys
and lower back. Again he found a rhythm, working her over with the flogger. Now there was more of a
sting, though the blows were softer. There wasn’t as much fat or muscle to cushion the strikes.
You have feelings for him. Real feelings for him. That’s why you haven’t dated in the two years you’ve
been bonded. Why would you need to? You’ve had Grif. Enough intimacy to keep you emotionally
stable, while also keeping him at a distance. That way you didn’t have to risk your heart. Didn’t have to
find out if you were still weak, the way you were with Vance.
Davina turned her head and bit down on her upper arm. She needed the pain, needed to clench onto
something with her teeth or risk grinding them together.
“No,” Grif commanded. He tugged hard on her braid. “Let go. Mouth open.”
She forced her teeth apart, panting.
“Stay like that. You don’t close down. Accept and let go.” He began the flogging again, back at her ass.
“Find your serenity.”
You are my serenity.
Davina blinked, and tears tumbled from her lower lashes. She hadn’t been weak with Vance. Saying
that wasn’t being fair to herself, or kind.
She’d rushed headlong into a relationship, and gotten burned, because she hadn’t known how to walk
away. It happened to most people, though usually it was with a first love, rather than a first D/s
relationship. That didn’t make her weak. It made her strong for trying. Strong for knowing it was bad for
her, even if it took her a while to realize.
She needed to forgive herself for the past, and stop trying to pretend she didn’t need more. It wasn’t
fair to her, or to Grif.
Davina let out a sob, tears now streaming down her face. She should tell Grif what was going on, so he
didn’t think she was upset. She should try to explain these were tears of release.
She didn’t need to. Her master knew. He understood.
His warm, hard body pressed against her back. He forced his right arm between her torso and the
cross, hand snaking down between her spread legs to cup her pussy. A sob turned into a moan of
need. She still had her lips parted, and it was a good thing he’d ordered her to do that, because
otherwise she might have bitten herself hard enough to draw blood.
He hooked his thumb in her mouth, his fingers against her neck, over the collar, adding another layer of
He spread her pussy open, her body slick and hot with need. Cool air touched her clit and she couldn’t
take it anymore. She closed her lips around his thumb, sucking on it.
“You’re going to come for me,” he purred in her ear. One finger glided across her clit. “And then you’re
going to come again.”
Another stroke and she tried to push up on her toes, only to find she couldn’t move. He was there, his
body providing that pressure and restriction she craved.
Her mental landscape flashed white, and though she was still physically aroused to a fever pitch, her
She nodded slightly, her eyes closed. She sucked gently on his thumb.
“My sweet minx.” He started to work her clit, circling the tight bud with a single finger. He knew how to
touch her. He’d done it a thousand times.
And yet, today it felt new and different, something fresh, but also familiar.
The orgasm came swiftly, and she didn’t have to do anything but accept it. She whimpered in those
moments before the sweet pleasure broke over her, then moaned as she came in truth, her pussy
clenching tight, making her aware of how much she needed his cock in her.
His finger went still, pressed to her clit but not manipulating it, as the orgasm swept through her, leaving
her sweaty and limp.
He pulled his thumb from her mouth, swiping her saliva over her chin before reaching up to release her
“Hands and knees on the mat. I’m going to fuck you.”
Davina scrambled to obey the moment she was free, practically running over to the familiar gym mats
he’d laid out on the floor.
She dropped to her hands and knees, body still a little weak from the orgasm.
“Face down, ass up,” he growled.
She didn’t point out that a moment ago he’d said hands and knees. If he wanted her in the even more
submissive posture, she would do it. More than that, she wanted to do it.
She lowered her shoulders and cheek to the mat, which smelled of vinyl and lemon-scented cleaner.
There was the rasp of a zipper, and then he was there, his knees between her calves, hands on her
“I won’t be gentle,” he warned.
“I don’t want you to be, Master. I need you to fuck me. Hard. I need you to make me know this is okay.
Her words were loaded, but neither of them were in the state of mind to unravel the knot of meaning.
He squeezed her hips, holding her still. The head of his cock felt blunt and huge as it probed between
her legs, hitting the back of her thigh before pressing against her labia, then gliding up the valley of her
sex to the entrance to her body.
He held here, on the cusp of entering her. “You’re mine,” he commanded.
“Yours, yours,” she agreed.
Grif surged into her, his cock filling her with one long thrust. Still riding the tail of her previous orgasm,
this was enough to bring her to a second release. The fullness, the submissive posture, the sounds he
made as he started to fuck her, they were the stimulation that pushed her through a second, pulsing
orgasm. Her toes clenched, her nails scraped the mat, and she reached that point of emotional clarity
she only ever found when she was in her serenity.
There was one ringing truth that came to her in that moment of bliss.
She was madly in love with Grif.