Davina let Grif drive, only because he knew where they were going. They’d had a spirited argument
about it in the parking lot, which ended with Grif reminding her that without him, she wouldn’t get the
Southland’s best, crispiest fish tacos.
Her stomach grumbled and she gave in, hiding her smile of delight that he hadn’t insisted he should be
the one to drive because he was her Master. Insisting on driving because you knew the way was
something entirely different.
The collar was off, and they were back to being Grif and Davina, lovers, sexual partners, and friends,
though she hadn’t used that word to describe them before.
They hit the normal weekend beach traffic, but within forty minutes they were walking into a little
Mexican restaurant. The minute the door opened, Davina’s mouth started to water. It smelled like
cilantro, onions, cumin, and fried fish.
“I’m starving,” she moaned.
Grif put a hand on her back, leading her to the tiny hostess stand. “Give me five more minutes and
you’ll have your margarita and some chips with good salsa.”
They were led to a small booth with high backed wooden bench seats. The tablecloth was garish, the
old photos on the walls a bit dingy indicating they hadn’t been taken down and cleaned in a while, and
like any good Los Angeleno, she knew that meant the food was going to be delicious.
When the waitress came, Davina ordered a pitcher of the house margaritas just to see how Grif would
react. He added a request for water, and then the waitress was off to get their order started.
“Does it bug you that I ordered drinks for us?” she asked.
“No. Honestly that’s what I was going to order. If I’d wanted something else, I would have changed it.”
He looked up from the menu. “Did you want it to bug me?”
“I just wanted to make sure you weren’t…” She finished with a shrug.
“Still in Master mode?” His voice was a bit lower than it had been, and it made her remember what it
felt like to have him whispering commands in her ear.
She waited for panic, or for that flash of white that indicated she was sinking into her serenity. Neither
happened; it was just a good memory, triggered by the tone of his voice. She relaxed again.
“I recommend the combination three-taco plate, with their homemade refried beans.”
“Mmm, that sounds good, but fattening. I’m going to get two tacos a la carte, and then steal a bite of
“Keep your fork away from my plate, woman.”
“Didn’t your mother teach you to share?”
They sniped gently at one another until the waitress came to take their order. Grif pointedly ordered an
extra side of beans. The bartender delivered their frosty pitcher and two salt-rimmed glasses.
Grif poured, and held his glass up in a toast. “To fish tacos, and eating your own beans.”
Davina grinned, but as delightful as this was so far, this dinner was about more than just food.
She was in love with this man, and it was time to find out if there was a chance for them to be anything
more than BDSM partners. If he hadn’t asked her to coffee last weekend at the Getty, she wouldn’t
have dared complicate an already complex situation by adding a vanilla romance to it, but he had, and
she’d seen the disappointment in his face when she turned him down.
At the time, she hadn’t wanted to acknowledge it for what it was, probably because doing so would
mean opening the door to acknowledging her own feelings. Well, that door had been blown open.
“To our first date,” she countered. Grif froze, an adorable deer in headlights look on his face.
She tapped her glass to his, then took a long drink.
“Okay, can we just…are we on a date?”
Davina looked around pointedly. “I certainly thought so.”
“I mean a date, date?”
She set her glass down. “That’s a fair question, since I was so dismissive when you’ve asked me out
before. The answer is yes, this is a date date.” Now it was her turn to feel unsure. “Unless that’s not
what you think it is.”
Grif downed half his margarita in one swallow. “For two smart, confident people, we are behaving like
Davina laughed. “We are.”
“Then cards on the table.” Grif planted his elbows and leaned forward. “I like you, Davina. As more than
just the person I get to spend time with at Las Palmas.” It seemed like he was avoiding saying BDSM
or Master/sub, almost as if to keep from reminding her that when they were at the club, he had the
power. “I have for a while.”
“Why didn’t you say anything?” she asked softly.
“First, I didn’t want to risk fucking up what we had. Second, the few times I sort of mentioned it, you
blew me off.”
She winced. “I did, and I’m sorry.”
“So what changed?” He shook his head. “Stupid question. I know what changed, I was there. I mean
why did that make you want to go on a date with me? If anything, it would seem like me being… that
the change would make you want to date me less.”
She mirrored his posture, elbows on the table, leaning in so their faces were less than a foot apart. “I
found emotional clarity last night. I hadn’t let myself sink that deeply into my serenity in years. You got
me there, and I had to stop hiding from myself.”
He nodded slowly. “That makes sense. Can I ask…can I ask what you realized?”
“That I’m in love with you.”
Grif stared at her. “I’m sorry, what?”
His disbelief should have made her sick with embarrassment, but something about the tone of his
shock, and the way he was looking at her—disbelief and a tinge of outrage rather than pity—told her
this was going to be okay. “I love you,” she clarified.
“No. Oh no, no, no. You do not get to say it first.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means I’ve been in love with you for the past year and a half, and forced myself to keep my mouth
shut about it so I didn’t send you running for the hills.”
“You’ve been…in love with me…for over a year?”
“Exactly. Which means you don’t get to say it first, a fraking day after figuring out you love me. Take it
“I am not going to take it back.”
“Take it back, damn it.”
Davina couldn’t hold it in anymore. She started to laugh, head thrown back in mirth. Grif slouched
against the booth, his arms folded, the picture of disgruntled man, except for his eyes, which were
crinkled at the corners with a smile.
“I’m guessing this means you aren’t married with kids,” he said.
“Of course not,” she said. “I wouldn’t be with you if I was married.”
“I didn’t think you would, but our contract only demands no additional partners, once the contract
started. If you’d been married that would have been a preexisting partner and you could have still
been…been going home to him.”
Davina was absolutely shocked by his words. “You thought about this?”
“Thinking about another man touching you, getting to sleep next to you, has fueled many of my boxing
workouts.” He looked grim. “It was killing me.”
“Grif, I do want to date you, but, because of my past, I will need…Wait, you’re describing yourself as
my side piece?”
“I love you, Davina. If being married and spending the weekends with me is what made you happy
then…” He ran a hand through his hair. “All I wanted was for you to be happy.”
“Oh my god, Grif, I had no idea. I’m so sorry.”
“After all, we don’t even know each other’s last names.”
Davina stuck out her hand. “Davina Kapadia.”
Grif shook it, some of the angry tension fading from his face. “Griffin Creeley. I’m a computer engineer.
I have my own R&D company, Lion Tail Tech. Griffins have a lion’s tail, hence the name.”
Davina pulled her hand back, frowning. “Lion Tail Tech?”
“Yea, have you heard of it?”
She pulled her phone from her purse and started tapping out a message to her assistant. “I need to
check on something, but if I’m right, it might solve our problem.”
“Wait, what problem?”
She set the phone down to wait for a reply. Technically, her assistant didn’t work on the weekends, but
Davina was fairly sure the young man would answer.
“You know, about what happened the last time I had a relationship with someone who was a BDSM
practitioner. I wasn’t even dating him, I mean it ended up being closer to 24/7, but it was supposed to
be sex only, and I couldn’t keep it from bleeding into my day to day life. If I were also dating my BDSM
partner… You see the problem.”
The waitress chose that moment to appear with their food. If she’d heard what Davina said, she didn’t
give any indication, instead setting down steaming hot plates with delicious looking food.
When she finally left, Grif leaned in. “What problem?”
“I’m eating my tacos while they’re hot.”
“Are you kidding me?” He looked outraged.
Davina tipped her head to the side and took a big bite of her taco. Oh damn, this was good.
He pantomimed shaking her, then dug into his rice and beans. They ate in tense silence. When her first
taco was happily in her belly, Davina took a break, wiping her fingers and then sipping her drink.
Grif put down his fork and watched her.
“I love you. You, and this relationship, have kept me centered and emotionally healthy for the past two
“But,” he murmured.
She nodded. “But, I won’t risk my mental or emotional health by dating someone in the lifestyle.”
He picked up his glass but didn’t drink. “You’re saying that it’s one or the other, either we’re D/s
partners, or we date?”
“Yes. That’s one possibility.”
“Davina…that is fucking bullshit.”