How to have safe sex: Condom

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If you're in a monogamous relationship, have tested negative for all sexually transmitted infections gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, herpes, HPV, hepatitis, and HIV—and regularly have unprotected sex with your partner, you can engage in all the activities in this book with confidence. However, if you aren't monogamous, you and your partner haven't been tested, or you're not sure, then you should practice safer sex. Use barriers to protect yourself and your partner from body fluids, including semen, vaginal fluids, female ejaculate, rectal bacteria, and menstrual blood.

CONDOMS
For vaginal and anal intercourse, use a condom every time. Rather than seeing condoms as inconvenient or disruptive to your lovemaking, make them a positive part of the experience. Take the lead and put the condom on his cock yourself. Or stroke or lick his balls as he slides a condom on. You can also learn to put a condom on with your mouth, which is a sexy way to keep the action going.

Non-lubricated condoms without any bumps, ridges, or other textures on the outside are best for oral sex. You can also try out flavored condoms, which are made for oral sex, to see if there's a flavor you like. If you or your partner is sensitive or allergic to latex, be sure to choose a non-latex condom. If you find that your own saliva dries up or is not enough to lubricate the condom for a smooth and comfortable blow job, apply a little lube to the outside of the condom. Be sure to select a flavored lube or a lube with a taste you don't mind. It's better to use an unlubricated condom because you can control what kind of lube you use and how much.

If your sex toy is made of a porous material rubber, PVC, vinyl, jelly rubber, or CyberSkin don't share it with other  people unless you put a condom on it first and use a new condom for each new partner. If your sex toy is made of a nonporous material—hard plastic, silicone, acrylic, glass, or metal—you can share it with other people as long as you clean the toy between partners. Follow cleaning guidelines from the toy's manufacturer. You can also cover these toys with a condom and use a new condom for each new partner.

No research has been conducted on female ejaculate and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). From what we know about it, female ejaculatory fluid does not have as high a concentration of sexually transmitted organisms as semen or blood does; however, it is still a body fluid and may contain some amount of organisms. As part of safer sex, you should use condoms, gloves, and barriers if your partner is a female ejaculator.
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How to clean and take care of your toys

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The key to maintaining your toys and having them last a long time is to clean, care for, and store them properly just as you would any other important tools. If you're using rechargeable toys, always follow the charging instructions that come with them. Usually, you must fully charge the toy when you get it home before you use it. Always store your battery-operated toys with the batteries removed, and be sure to change old batteries promptly. There's nothing worse than running out of juice just when you need it most!


You can clean any toy (washing it for hygienic purposes) and you can sterilize some toys depending on what they're made of (so that they may be shared with someone). Educate yourself about what kind of toy you have and what it's made of.

For example, a waterproof toy can be submerged in water, whereas a water-resistant toy won't be damaged if you get some water on it, but it cannot be submerged or soaked. When reading the following, note that no toys with electrical components should be soaked, boiled, or put in the dishwasher. These toys should be wiped down only. After washing, allow toys to air-dry, because drying them with any kind of towel can leave some lint clinging to your toy. When storing your toys, keep them out of direct sunlight, away from heat sources, and in a place with some air circulation but not a lot of moisture. It's best to store them in individual bags: satin or another silky material is ideal for silicone, soft and padded for glass and metal.

Latex, PVC, vinyl, elastomer, TPR, and other soft materials: These can be washed (but not sterilized) with warm water and mild soap or a sex toy cleaner. If you want to share one of these toys, you should cover it with a new condom for each partner.

Silicone: Clean with hot water and antibacterial soap or a sex toy cleaner. Or sanitize them by (1) soaking for a few minutes in a diluted bleach solution of 10 parts water to 1 part bleach (rinse them very well), (2) washing in the top rack of the dishwasher without detergent, or (3) placing in boiling water for about 3 minutes.

Hard plastic: Hard plastics include resin, urethane, PVC (without softeners), and any other solid plastics. Hard plastic toys run the gamut between those that are porous and those that aren't. All of them may be cleaned with warm water and a mild antibacterial soap or a sex toy cleaner. Unless the manufacturer states that the plastic is medical-grade and nonporous, assume that it cannot be sterilized.

Glass: Clean them with warm water and antibacterial soap or a sex toy cleaner. Disinfect them by soaking them in a diluted bleach solution (10:1) or alcohol. If you know the toy is borosilicate glass, you can put it in the top rack of the dishwasher without detergent on a gentle setting to sterilize it.

Aluminum, stainless steel, and other metals:
Metal can be cleaned with warm water and antibacterial soap and sterilized with a diluted bleach solution (10:1) or alcohol. Or place it in the top rack of the dishwasher without detergent. Metal toys must be dried completely to prevent rusting and/or corrosion.
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How to clean up after squirting

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If you have experienced the pleasure and amazement of female ejaculation, you probably already know that it can be, well, wet. And wet is wonderful, except that washing your sheets every time you have sex is not. Here are a few tips for you old pros as well as those of you who are considering getting into it. Having a plan for handling the squirt means less laundry, and no one has to sleep in the wet spot (and trust me, that spot can be bigger than you imagine).

If you are not expecting a tidal wave, slide a towel underneath you to catch the fluid. However, if you are a medium to heavy sheet soaker, I recommend some better supplies. Disposable absorbent bed pads for incontinent people are sold in most drugstores and medical supply stores; in hospitals, these handy pads are called "chucks." Chucks are sheets with absorbent material on one side and plastic on the other. They're great for soaking up all that girl jizz, and you just throw them away when you are done.

If you are more environmentally conscious, you may want to try a reusable, washable, diaper-changing pad. These are sold anywhere you find baby and crib supplies. (I suggest looking for one that has the least amount of baby stuff printed on it.) Usually, they consist of a plastic pad with an absorbent cover that you can remove and toss in the washing machine. Serious squirters may need something a little more durable with more coverage to protect not just the sheet but also the mattress underneath it. In this case, look for a waterproof (not water-resistant) mattress cover. In the old days, they were made entirely of plastic, which made lots of noise when you rolled around and didn't exactly inspire sexy nights. Now, you'll find fabric mattress covers that protect your mattress without producing a crinkly sound underneath you.
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How to ejaculate: An Exercise

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1. If you'd like to try to ejaculate without internal G-spot stimulation, begin by stimulating your clitoris as you usually do.

2. Then, with your hand, your partner's tongue or fingers, or a vibrator, try to spread out the stimulation. Instead of concentrating on and around the clitoral glans and hood, add stimulation to the entire vulva, including the area around the urethral opening. This is where a vibrator with a large head or one with plenty of surface area works to your advantage you can stimulate a lot more of the vulva with it.

3. If you start to feel the urge to pee, you're headed in the right direction.

4. Keep up the stimulation and pay attention to how the sensations may differ from when you target just the clitoris.

5. Or you can try intensifying your clitoral stimulation. Some women say that when they are very aroused and add vigorous clitoral stimulation, they are more likely to ejaculate.
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How to ejaculate

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If you'd like to ejaculate, first make sure you are hydrated. As you can imagine, dehydration affects the production of all kinds of fluids in our bodies. Many women I know who ejaculate say that if they haven't had enough to drink or are dehydrated from exercise or something else, they have a more difficult time ejaculating or they ejaculate much less fluid.

Before you try to ejaculate, you should definitely be sure to pee. It's a good idea to empty your bladder before sex anyway, but in this case, a trip to the bathroom will reassure you that you're not going to pee, which is a common fear that holds women back. Keep in mind that in this sense women are very similar to men: When very aroused, they often can't pee at all—but they can ejaculate.

1. As you (if you're self-stimulating) or your partner intensifies G-spot stimulation, you will feel like you really need to pee. This is the point when some women just stop altogether and say the pressure and sensations are "too much" or overwhelming. Or you may automatically clench your PC muscles—the muscles that stop the flow of urine and it may not even be a conscious response on your part.

2. When the urge to pee gets really strong, when the stimulation feels overwhelming and you want to stop is precisely when you need to keep going. Remind yourself that you peed before sex and you aren't going to pee now.

3. Take some deep breaths and let yourself go with the sensations.

4. If you feel yourself start to clamp those muscles, take charge and do the opposite: Relax and bear down like you're trying to push something out of your vagina. Remember your Kegel exercises, especially the "In-Pull, Ex-Push," and practice that. Keep relaxing and pushing out. If the stars are aligned properly, you should ejaculate.

What does ejaculation feel like? Some women are very aware of exactly when they are ejaculating, and the moment it first begins. They feel like they have to pee, a sensation of pressure builds, they relax and bear down, and they release ejaculatory fluid. Other women are surprised to find out they ejaculated when they discover a puddle under their butts. The more often you ejaculate, the more conscious you will become of what is happening, and when it happens. The more you relax and stay connected to your body, the better you'll be able to gauge how the ejaculation process works for you.
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How to find your G-Spot: An Exercise

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1. Begin a masturbation session and tell yourself that you are under absolutely no pressure. Let go of expectations: No one is timing you and this is not a test! Remind yourself that this is a fact-finding mission, one that won't necessarily end in orgasm, and that's okay.

2. Start to explore your outer and inner labia with your hand. Use gentle strokes and let your body relax into the feelings.

3. Find some wetness at your vaginal opening, or use some of your favorite lube, and spread it around your labia, massaging the labia as you do.

4. When you're ready, begin to stimulate the areas around your clitoris. You can rub above the clitoral hood, on either side of it, or just below it. The idea is to tease yourself, which will help build arousal.

5. When you feel ready, slip a well-lubed finger inside your vaginal opening with one hand, while continuing to tease around your clit with the other. When you want to, edge toward the clitoral hood and stimulate the hood.

6. Slide your middle finger inside your vagina. Begin to slide it in and out. Add another finger if you want. Keep up the clitoral stimulation with your other hand, or if that's too awkward (or you prefer), use a vibrator.

7. Hook your fingers inside you and apply pressure to the front wall of the vagina. Feel for a spongy area about 1 to 1.5 inches (2.5 to 3.8 cm) inside. Press and rub the area; notice how your body responds. You're looking for an area that's sensitive when you apply firm pressure—the G-spot prefers firm pressure to gentle stroking.

8. Another signal that you've found the right spot is you might feel the urge to pee. The urethral sponge surrounds the urethra, so it makes sense, and it's a very common feeling.
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What does a G-spot orgasm feel like?

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Based on both the research and women's descriptions, we can identify some basic elements:

• A G-spot orgasm feels less genitally focused than an orgasm from clitoral stimulation, and more like it is spreading throughout the body.

• Women often describe it as a deeper orgasm--they can feel contractions deep in the vaginal walls and even the uterus.

• Others say it lasts longer than other kinds of orgasms; it feels like a big release of tension, and/or it feels more intense.

• Deborah Sundahl makes the argument in her book that the G-spot "is a gateway to deeper aspects of sexual expression and intimacy.

• Some say it feels more emotional; they may feel strongly connected to their bodies, their partners, or even the universe.

When asked to describe a G-spot orgasm, some women say it just feels different. That may sound vague, but considering all the different ways we can come, each orgasm does feel different. No orgasm is better or worse. Our orgasms produce different sensations and reactions, resonate in various parts of the body, and cause a variety of emotional and even spiritual responses.
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How to Ejaculate without direct G-Spot Stimulation

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Many researchers have investigated and proposed a direct link between G-spot stimulation and female ejaculation.

For many women, direct G-spot stimulation is the key to ejaculating. But not for all women. Some women can ejaculate from clitoral stimulation alone, without any penetration or G-spot stimulation at all. In fact, for some, clitoral stimulation is the only way they can ejaculate. In Amy Gilliland's 2001-2002 study of thirteen women, published in the journal Sexuality & Culture in 2009, the majority of the women she interviewed said they had ejaculated through clitoral stimulation alone.

How can we explain this in light of all the information we have connecting the G-spot to female ejaculation? The G-spot may not be the only trigger point that causes the glands in the urethral sponge to fill with fluid. Some experts say when you stimulate the vulva (which includes the clitoral hood and glans), you can stimulate the external part of the urethral sponge—specifically the area around the urethral opening, which in turn stimulates the glands in the sponge to produce fluid. Others contend that the G-spot is part of the complex clitoral structure; therefore, stimulating the external parts of the clitoris will also stimulate the internal parts, including the G-spot. That stimulation can be enough to cause the glands to fill with fluid and release the fluid.
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How to have squirting orgasms

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If you'd like to have squirting orgasms, make sure you've been doing your Kegel exercises. Strong PC muscles will help you have better control over both orgasm and female ejaculation. If direct G-spot stimulation has made you ejaculate in the past, then continue on that path. Practice the techniques discussed earlier:

1. Do lots of warm-up followed by vigorous G-spot stimulation.

2. Relax.

3. Push past the urge to pee.

4. Let go, and push out.

5. To intensify the sensations, try adding clitoral stimulation to the mix.

6. If you let go and nothing comes out, go back to the G-spot stimulation and work your way back up.

7. Listen for that distinct sloshing sound; when you hear it, try again to bear down, using your muscles to push. If you've squirted via clitoral stimulation or anal penetration, then focus on that. Feel the pressure building inside you. When you feel like you're on the edge of an orgasm, repeat your method for squirting: Relax your body, remind yourself you're not going to pee, breathe through the intense feelings, bear down, and the fluid should come.

Remember that you may not come and ejaculate simultaneously the first time you try. As with most things, practice, practice, practice. You may not be able to do it at all; for you, squirting and coming may be two different experiences. That's okay. Don't be hard on yourself about any of it. Accept and embrace what works for you and how your body responds. 
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How to help your partner ejaculate

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For many women, intense, prolonged G-spot stimulation is what gets them to ejaculate. So your first stop on the road to female ejaculation is the G-spot.

1. Use your fingers to find the spot against the front wall of the vagina.

2. Move your fingers toward the front of her body and down slightly as if you're saying "come here." It's almost like you are trying to pull the G-spot out of her.

3. Feel it begin to swell underneath your fingers as you stimulate it.

4. Keep going, with consistent, powerful pressure. Or use one of the many toys designed especially for the G-spot The key, as with other kinds of stimulation, is to build the intensity—don't go too hard too quickly.

5. Some women prefer G-spot stimulation by itself, whereas others want clitoral stimulation as well. Because all the nerves and tissues are connected, they play off one other, helping stimulate the entire area. Add some clit stimulation if she wants it.

6. As you continue G-spot stimulation, you'll feel the textured area on the front wall swell even more.

7. In some women, you can also hear a very distinct "sloshing" sound. It's markedly different from the sound of penetration; it's juicier and louder.

8. Keep up the stimulation. Experienced ejaculators often know right before it happens and may tell you when they're ready to squirt. Others may not know, but you may feel them start to bear down and push out.

9. Now you have a couple of options. Keep doing what you're doing, then give the sponge one good pull. Or use your fingers to actually press firmly up on the front wall.
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How to explore the G-Spot and masturbate

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When you begin masturbating, remind yourself that this is your time. You're not trying to have a quick orgasm to get off, relieve stress, or help you fall asleep. Settle in for a longer-than-usual session. Spend some time exploring your body, keeping in mind that the more time you give yourself, the easier it will be to find your G-spot.

1. Start by massaging the inner and outer labia, using some lube or wetness from your vagina.

2. Tease the vaginal opening and notice how your body responds to your touch.

3. When you're ready, begin to play with your clitoris. You may like long, slow strokes at first, pressure on the hood above the clitoral shaft, or a circular motion with two fingers. You know your body best; you know what gets you going. Take your time and let the arousal build.

4. As you feel your body relax and you get increasingly turned on, work your way up to penetration. Bring your hand in front of you between your legs and bend your elbow and wrist so that your palm faces you with your fingers down.

5. Slide your middle finger inside your vagina and start to slowly slide it in and out. Add another finger if you want.

6. Hook your fingers and press against the front wall with your fingertips as you feel for your G-spot, that spongy area about 1 to 1.5 inches (2.5 to 3.8 cm) inside.

7. Remember, you are stimulating the urethral sponge through the front wall of the vagina--it's not right there at your fingertips, so to speak. That's why the G-spot prefers firm pressure to gentle stroking.

8. You might feel the urge to pee. When you stimulate the sponge, the urethra is also stimulated, sending a signal to your brain that you have to pee. You may have felt a similar sensation during masturbation or sex with a partner. Some women actually enjoy the sensation, which doesn't feel at all like they're stuck in traffic miles from the nearest rest stop. Instead, it feels quite pleasurable. For some women, it may feel strange; just like anything new, it takes some getting used to. The important thing is not to panic--panic is counterproductive to pleasure. If it's simply too distract ing or annoying to you, back off on the stimulation and try again another time.

9. If you get over the pee feeling, experiment with different stimulation techniques to see what feels good to you. Take  long strokes, and then short ones. Use one finger, and then see how it feels when you insert more. Try the "come here" technique—curve your fingers and make a pulling motion away from you. The hand position and motion may sound awkward. That's because it is. In truth, it's difficult for some women to find their G-spots with their own fingers they just can't contort their bodies to make it work. It can be frustrating, so don't worry if it's not working for you on your own. All hope is not lost. Other women can find their G-spots, but may not be able to stimulate it with enough intensity for it to be pleasurable. That's where a good G-spot toy enters the picture.

10. G-spot toys make finding the G-spot ergonomically easier  and less awkward than using your fingers. Toys can provide  the vigorous stimulation the G-spot likes, but that you can't achieve with your own hand. A toy can stimulate the clitoris when you've run out of hands or can't reach it when your fingers are otherwise engaged. Toys designed to make the G-spot sing should be part of your toolbox.  
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How to make women ejaculate during sex

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So, what about intercourse with a penis or a strap-on dildo and female ejaculation? Remember that vaginal intercourse is not always the ideal method for G-spot stimulation; consequently, it's often not the best way to make a woman ejaculate.

• Positions such as Horizontal Tailgate, and Inverted Spider may prove too awkward to make squirting easy, unless your partner can squirt while you're still inside her.

• In Missionary Fold position (where she lies on her back with her legs up, either folded back and against her shoulders or on her partner's shoulders), you can communicate easily and she can tell you when she's ready so you can pull out.

• In Doggie Style (with her head and shoulders down and you behind her), you can access her G-spot and work it well with deliberate strokes.

• In Stallion (Doggie Style, but with just you standing), use your extra thrusting power to put more pressure on her G-spot.

• In Cowgirl position (where she's on top facing you), she can ride your penis until the moment she feels ready to explode, then she can raise herself slightly, and let the ejaculate spray all over you.

• The same holds true for Reverse Chairman (with you sitting in a chair and her on your lap facing away with her feet on the floor), which may be a better angle depending on the curve of the penis or dildo.
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The Beginning And The End

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One day - it was two years, three months, and two days ago - I found your journal.

I literally stumbled upon it that day while cruising cyberspace. My friend Christy, the one from the spa - you do remember her, right? She always hated you - anyway, she sent me a link to her Live Journal account, and, when I clicked on the link, surprise of surprises, someone was already logged in. You had forgotten to sign off after your last confessional. I hadn't heard of Live Journal until that day, but I was very familiar with it a few hours later. Yes, indeed.

That's how I learned about her, or the many hers, however many there were. I lost count, even with all the code names you had given them, like Reddie (cause it was all natural) and Blondie (because that was all natural, too) and Uprising (because those girls weren't natural at all but they looked pretty damn good anyway). 

But there was that one that kept your attention, through that whole year you were keeping the journal and even longer than that, the one that you couldn't shake no matter how many women you took for a ride while you were pining after her. She was short and blonde with a great smile and freckles over the bridge of her nose. She was married with a four-year-old daughter and she would never leave her husband, no matter how many times she fucked around on him, because he made the big bucks and she loved her SUV too much to say goodbye. She drank too much, mostly in private but more with you, and she hated it when you smoked. 

I didn't even know you smoked, until I read it there on the journal. I'm not sure which was the biggest shock: the affair you were having, the one-night cheats you were committing (stepping out on a wife and a girlfriend, you stud, you), or the fact that you, who would not tolerate cigarette smoke under any circumstances, preferred Marlboro Reds in a box.

You probably don't remember that day. You came home to find me in the kitchen, cooking your favourite dinner of chicken sherry and baby potatoes and asparagus. You dropped your briefcase and wrapped your arms around me from behind, kissed that sweet spot under my ear and told me you loved me. I told you that I loved you too, instead of asking how many times it had happened. I told you to take off that tie and change into your comfortable clothes, instead of telling you that I knew the last year between us had been a lie. I asked you if you would mind uncorking the wine and you went at the job like a puppy eager to please, while I was proud of myself for never once hitting you on the side of the head with the cast iron skillet. 

Maybe I kept my mouth shut because I had already decided what I was going to do. I look back on it all now and I think maybe I knew, as soon as you described the way she moaned the first time you slid your hand between her thighs there underneath the bar, the way you didn't care much who saw. I think I decided then to keep my mouth shut.

That night I faked it. Twice. If you noticed, you never said.

I tortured myself with that journal for a week. During that time I pulled out the calendar and studied the times you were with her, saw that they coincided with business trips, and determined that she didn't live close to us, but about two hours away.

Then you went on another business trip, and I went to the bar.

It's interesting to sit in a bar after so many years of wedded bliss. I immediately recognized it for what it was: a meat market. I was a woman in a low-cut dress, a display on a high bar stool, while men prowled around pool tables and shouted at the band and stared at me over their beer bottles as they got up their courage. I was sized up, then dressed down with their eyes. I became the subject of bets and locker-room talk in the back corner. They counted my beers even more carefully than I did, and when I finished my third, they started lining up.

There was a tan line where my wedding ring had been. Nobody mentioned it, probably because most of them had the same kind of tan line. I wasn't all that worried about the morality of it all, but I did wonder if what's-her-name knew you were married when you slid that hand between her thighs. Was it your left hand? Did you have on your ring? Did she feel it? Did she care? 

That night I went to bed with the first of dozens of men. Well, let me correct that. I didn't go to bed with him, not exactly. I wrapped my legs around him against the brick wall behind the bar, his boots braced among the trash and empty liquor bottles, his breath hot on my neck. One hand was in his hair and the other held my beer, which I took sips from while he fucked me. He was bigger than you. I liked that secret knowledge, that no matter where or how you were fucking what's-her-name, I was getting the bigger and probably better ride.

Sex is better when I'm drinking. 

With you it is always good. You're a good lover, attentive and slow until I get mine, then you go about getting yours in such a way that usually makes me come again, even when I think maybe I can't. But when I'm drinking, I do things I never would do otherwise. I go down on a man without needing anything in return. I touch myself and let him watch. I've been with two women at once, and more men than that. I sometimes take them up the ass, but only if I've been hitting the Jack, not the Bud Light. I have to be really sloshed to let some stranger slide his dick up my back door.

I always go very far away from home. I usually drive for an hour or more. I usually give the wrong name to anyone who bothers to ask what they should call me. I hide things very well - I learned that from you. I get my fuck and then I walk away. I get my revenge and they get their rocks off. It works out well, this mutually-beneficial relationship played out under neon lights.

I don't make them use condoms. Does that frighten you? It should. It frightens me too, but I like the feeling of their cream too much to be bothered by it. I especially like the nights I get home a bit before you do, and though I have showered to get rid of the smell of cigarettes and beer and sweat, when you decide you want me that night I like to think there is still a bit of some stranger left inside me, caressing your dick as you thrust inside. The thought fills me with a sweet vindication. Those are the nights I sleep the best, because I know my secret is much darker than whatever yours might be. 

But my darkest secret of all is a man named Craig. 

I met him at the bar about three months after I found your journal. He was standing in the corner watching everyone else play darts. He sipped from a longneck and drew on a cigarette. He was dressed in jeans and a black leather jacket and sunglasses, even in the darkness of the corner table. His eyes were hidden from me but his hands were not, and when he beckoned me with a simple sweep of two fingers, I should have been offended at the arrogance of it, at the way he wore that air of superiority, as if I was nothing but a dog he expected to come to heel. 

By the end of that night I was howling at the moon while he fucked me like a bitch in heat, from behind, while he pulled not-so-gently on the collar he had slipped around my neck. It has always been the same between us as it was from the beginning: hard, unrelenting, sometimes painful but always exciting.

Craig was the only man I ever brought home with me, the only man who ever laid eyes on our marriage bed. That night you were gone on a four-day trip, and I knew from your journal entries that only two days would be spent on business. The other two days would be spent on top of that woman. So I spent two days of my own, tied to the bed while Craig did exciting and arrogant and sometimes unspeakable things to my body and my mind. 

I was punished for what I did. Does it excite you to know that? Craig's first order of business was to punish me for taking him into your bed. He told me that it made me a whore. It made me no better than the woman you were fucking, and that was just fine with me, as long as he treated me like a whore instead of just calling me one. 

That was the night everything changed.

I remember it so clearly. Every day I think of it, every night, sometimes even while I fuck you in that bed, and especially when you get as rough as you ever get and I clench the headboard, right in the places where I was tied to it for two days.

Craig had warned me. He made it clear that when I brought him into that room, I would become his in ways that I hadn't yet imagined and for ever after, would hardly believe. He was gentle at first, whispering in my ear about what a good little slut I was, about how good my pussy felt around his cock, about how beautiful I was, tied up there like that, my breasts heaving and my cunt already wet enough for anything he might want to do to it. 

'These two days, you are mine,' he said. 

'Yes,' I told him.

'You will not have a safe word,' he said, and that was the moment I could have changed things. That was the moment I could have said no, when I could have bent the rules, and Craig would have let me do it. He would have honoured all my wishes. But I looked at him and all I could see was you, the things you were doing with that woman, the horrid video of pain that ran through my mind more times than I care to think about, and I knew that I needed to do things you would never do. I needed to have secret knowledge of one-upmanship. 

So I looked into Craig's dark eyes and told him to gag me. 

He explained to me what that meant. 

'I want to hear you say that you understand,' he said. 'I want you to know what this means. It means whatever I want to do, I will do. You won't have any protection against me. You won't have any way to stop me. You won't have a second chance. You cannot change your mind. Do you understand what you are doing? That you are giving me every permission?'

I understood. I wanted what he was offering. I wanted to be nothing but a sex toy for his use. It was fitting that it happen in your bed, where I would have my own secret to hold onto while I tried not to think about yours. 

I knew it was dangerous.

I needed it to be dangerous.

He made me say out loud what I knew was true. I would not be able to tell him to stop. He could do anything to me, anything at all. He could use me in ways that were humiliating, painful, or even downright frightening. He would not heed my moans or my cries. 

The gag felt like freedom. 

That night he stalked around the bed with the cat-o'nine-tails, the whip, the riding crop and the paddle. He pulled out every toy I had and made sure they entered every hole. Then he moved to things other than toys. He raided the refrigerator and found fruit, cucumbers, whipped cream. He found clothespins. Then he went into the medicine cabinet, and the things he found there are things I will never tell anyone about, but trust me, dear husband - it was both worse and better than anything you have ever done to me, and I hold on to that during those times when I think I cannot handle one more night with the weight of the secrets between us.

I still read your journal, you know. I know your affair is over now. I know something happened, but you don't know what. Perhaps her husband found out. She was torn for a while, and she finally made the decision to walk away from you. You wrote about it with a poetic kind of loss that made me sick to my stomach. 

She will be with someone else soon, of course. What cuts deepest is that she was the one who had to walk away. You weren't willing to do that, but she was. And why? 

She wasn't in love with you.

Now I'm not in love with you, either. 

I realized that I wasn't in love with you the night Craig looked at me and for the first time, his dominance looked like submissiveness, when he asked me if I would leave you for him. I told him I would. But there was something I had to do first. Something I had to give you. 

In the package with this letter is a videotape. It has hours and hours of sexual romps on it. They all feature Craig. In some of them he is with me, your wife, fucking me with utter abandon. In the rest of them, Craig is with that woman you loved, his wife, and he's fucking her while she tells him that he is so much better in bed than any of her lovers - including you.

Enjoy, sweetheart.
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The Closest Thing To Heaven

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As Demi moved towards the innocuous black-painted double doors, Patricia's words echoed in her mind. 

'Honestly, Dem, it's an experience that's out of this world. It's the closest you can get to heaven without actually having sex. What have you got to lose?'

Nothing, Demi supposed, hesitating outside the doors. Nothing whatsoever. She could certainly do with some heaven in her life, particularly of the erotic variety. But now she was actually here, her courage was failing her. She hadn't taken her clothes off in front of a man for a very long time - particularly not a strange man. Even if he did look, as Patricia put it, like something out of the Arabian Nights.

Her fingers closed around the leaflet in her bag. She didn't need to read it - she knew it off by heart.

Treat yourself to an afternoon of pure pleasure. Step beyond the threshold of desire. Satisfaction guaranteed.

Hardly original, but Patricia had told her the experience had exceeded her wildest expectations. And Patricia could get pretty wild.

What if I don't like it, she thought, pressing the doorbell in the same heartbeat?

She could always change her mind. Stepping over the threshold didn't commit her to anything. Not this threshold anyway. She shivered with delicious anticipation. Patricia had told her about the other threshold with a wicked gleam in her eyes.

A man, who looked nothing like an Arabian knight, let her in, consulted his appointment book and gave her a slightly unnerving smile, as he slipped her credit card through his machine.

'Go through, Miss Hargreaves. You are expected.' 

She found herself in a room exactly as Patricia had described. Opulent - the walls were draped with rich gold silk and the room was scented with lilies, which were on a small table close to the door. She'd always associated lilies with funerals, but then, weren't orgasms sometimes described as 'the small death'? 

A red carpet, which felt thick beneath her feet, led towards another door, which had a small plaque in its centre. Demi bent to read it.

Once you pass through this door, there is no turning back. Only those in search of the ultimate sensual experience should step over the threshold.

Feeling slightly reassured, because sensual didn't sound as scary as sexual, Demi opened the door and stepped inside. This room was smaller and taken up mainly by a changing cubicle, similar to the ones in expensive boutiques. The door clicked shut behind her and a man's voice filled the room. 

'Welcome, Miss Hargreaves. You will find a robe and undergarments in the drawer to your right. Please put them on and, when you are ready - step through the connecting doors ahead of you.'

The man's voice was rich and deep with a hint of the exotic. Demi wondered if he was the Arabian knight. 

With trembling fingers she opened the drawer. Underwear was such a functional term and didn't do justice to the exquisite black lace bra and thong. They were both in her size, which she'd been asked for when she'd made her appointment, and were obviously brand new - their labels still attached.

A pair of scissors, presumably for removing the labels, lay alongside. Feeling suddenly shy, and knowing it was far too late for shyness, Demi took off her clothes and hung them on hangers, also provided. A full-length mirror in the cubicle reflected her image back at her. 

She'd prepared for her visit by going to the gym three times a week for the last few months, and she'd had an allover-tanning session yesterday. She was pleased she'd made the effort. The lace bra moulded over her breasts and left little to the imagination. The thong left even less. Her black hair tumbling over her shoulders made her look wanton. Oh my God, was she really going to parade in front of a strange man dressed like this?

Remembering the robe, which was black silk, she slipped it on, tied the belt tightly around her slender waist and then, taking a final deep breath, stepped through the connecting doors.

She gasped.

The previous rooms had been opulent, but this one put them in the shade. It was seductively lit and smelt of roses, which were in crystal vases on low glass tables. Cream carpet, so soft it felt like walking on velvet, covered the floor. Heavy scarlet silk throws adorned the walls and, as she gazed, she saw other colours within - threads of gold running through the fabric, which formed into patterns. It took a few moments to see they weren't patterns, but pictures - couples making love, in every conceivable position, their faces serene and bodies beautiful.

At first sight the room appeared empty, but as she stood drinking in the beauty of her surroundings, a man detached himself from the shadows at the far side of the room. 

He wore scarlet robes that contrasted perfectly with his shaven head and caramel skin. He did look Arabian, Demi decided with a shiver of excitement. He was very tall, and she could feel the power exuding from him, even from here. He was the most amazing-looking man she'd ever seen. And as these thoughts passed through her mind, he moved towards her, each slow measured step bringing him closer, until there were only inches between them and she could hardly breathe.

He smiled, revealing white teeth and she was reminded of a panther moving in for the kill. His black eyes were unfathomable, but he must be aware of the effect he was having on her. She half expected him to rip off her flimsy robe, but all he did was to hold out his hand.

'Are you ready, Miss Hargreaves, for the ultimate sensual experience?'

She nodded, unable to speak. His fingers closed around hers.

Good God, she was practically having an orgasm on the spot.

What would she do when he did - whatever he was going to do?

Suddenly panicking, because Patricia hadn't told her what he actually did - just that she'd love it - she tried to pull her fingers from his.

'Don't be afraid,' he turned, his eyes questioning. 'You have to trust me, Demi.' He lingered over her name, as if it were something special. 'Do you trust me?'

'I don't know you.' Her voice trembled. 

'Then it must be an act of faith - this trust of yours. It will be worth it, I promise you.' 

They'd been walking while he spoke and were now standing at the far corner of the room. He turned her around so she had her back to the wall. Then, to her surprise he knelt in front of her, and undid the knot of her robe with his teeth. Rising leisurely, he slipped it from her shoulders so it lay in a silken pool at her feet. 

His eyes were mesmerizing and never left her face. She couldn't have moved if she'd wanted to. When he lifted her left arm above her head and she felt the touch of silk at her wrist, she didn't protest. He did the same to her right arm and she realized he'd tied her wrists to silken thongs in the wall. Silken, but very strong, she discovered when she tested them and found them to be immovable. 

'Silk is what the spider weaves to make its webs, it is the strongest material on earth,' he murmured in a voice that was strangely elemental. Like the rumbling of a volcano, just before it pours molten lava across the land. 

Demi didn't argue with him. She was trapped and she didn't care. There was a strange sort of freedom in being this helpless in front of a beautiful man. In knowing he could do anything to her - anything he liked - and there was nothing she could do to stop him.

This thought barely had time to register when she realized he was kneeling again. 'I will need you to spread apart your legs,' he murmured, and she felt his touch on the inside of her calf, moving downwards, feather light to her ankle.

Wordless, she let him move her ankles into position, until she was tied, legs and arms wide apart, held fast by the silken thongs. At least she wasn't naked, she thought, her heart pumping lust and adrenaline around her body. Although she wouldn't have much cared if she was - suddenly, she ached for him to see her - all of her. She could feel her nipples straining against the black lace and a delicious ache had started between her legs.

He was standing again. For the first time he let his gaze travel down across her body. He looked at her erect nipples, a half smile on his face. 

'I think perhaps - you are still a little overdressed,' he murmured, reaching forward. 

He was going to have trouble there, she thought, raising her eyebrows. How could he remove her bra when her hands were tied? But she hadn't noticed it was the kind with clip-on straps, which took a matter of seconds to release and remove from her slender shoulders. As if aware of her thoughts, and with another smile, he brushed the palms of his hands over her nipples, then reached behind her and unfastened the final clip so her breasts were exposed to his gaze.

Demi thought she might die with pleasure, as he traced the outline of her nipples with his thumbs, saying with a faint trace of huskiness, 'I see you are beginning to trust me, after all.' 

Once more, he stood back, this time his gaze lowering to the tiny thong that covered what was left of her modesty.

'But you are still a little overdressed. Do you not think?'

Demi closed her eyes. She couldn't believe she was letting him do this. Wanted him to do this. Not that she had a choice. He was right about the strength of her bonds. 

His hands were on her hips now, slipping beneath the knotted ribbons - oh my God, knotted ribbons. That's all that protected her from his gaze. And they didn't stay knotted for long. He untied them and slowly, tenderly - removed the last trace of her clothing. A small moan escaped her lips as his fingers traced the outline of what he'd uncovered, caressing her pubic bone, moving downwards to her labia, and then spreading her still further so she was fully exposed to his gaze. 

Even though she ground her hips away from him, in a strange mixture of terror and lust, she couldn't get away from his touch. And he wasn't in any hurry. Slip sliding his fingers over her and into her - with infinite gentleness, so she ached for it never to stop.

But just as she was on the point of exploding, he did stop.

'We have the afternoon ahead of us,' he murmured, standing once more and cupping her face with his hands, so she caught her own scent on his fingers. 'I think we have much to do - much to explore.' 

And then he left her - spread-eagled, naked and helpless, while he strode away across the room. 

The waiting was agonizing. What was he going to do? He could do anything to her. It occurred to her that there might be hidden cameras, her body fully on display for dirty old men all over London to lust over. The thought appalled her, but there was nothing she could do.

He returned, a black velvet bag in his hand, which he set down beside her and unzipped. He removed what looked like a cat-o'-nine-tails - its cords made of silken material. 

'No,' she said, frightened for the first time since she'd stepped into the room. 'I'm not into...'

He interrupted her with a swift shake of his head. 'You do not know what you are into - until you try it.' And with that he drew the whip lightly across her stomach. She tensed, expecting it to hurt, but it didn't. It was like being flailed with silk - too soft to sting, but hard enough to titillate.

He acknowledged her surprise with a slight nod, and then the flailing began in earnest. He lashed each breast in turn, using the cat hard enough to caress and arouse, but not to hurt, until her nipples were so hard, she thought they might explode. 

Then he shifted his attention to her ankles, moving the whip slowly up her legs, across her calves, and up still higher to her inner thighs, until she was squirming in ecstasy. He spent a long time between her legs - he was very gentle here - checking her face from time to time, to make sure he wasn't hurting her. But he must have known he wasn't hurting. Once more, just at the point of orgasm, he stopped what he was doing and she moaned in disappointment.

'It is bringing you lots of pleasure - is it not?'

Demi knew she didn't need to answer. That much must have been obvious to him. He had a very good view of exactly how much pleasure he was bringing her, from where he knelt.

He unzipped the bag, once more, she suspected to draw forth more implements of sweet torture, but all he did was put away the cat-o'-nine-tails, before turning back to her.

'It is time,' he said softly, 'for the finale.'

With these words he reached to untie her bonds and when she was free, he massaged the muscles in her arm and legs, as though he knew about the ache that had grown in them from being tied apart so long.

'You come,' he said, with a wicked grin, so she knew it was a demand she accompany him, not an enquiry as to her level of satisfaction. And even though he was still clad in his robe, Demi didn't bother to get dressed - it would have seemed senseless now. 

They crossed the room, but not to the door through which they'd entered. He pressed a button on the wall and the whole panel slid silently backwards to reveal a room done out entirely in white marble. Steps led down to a shallow pool, from which steam rose gently. 

Demi glanced at him enquiringly and he smiled again, untied his robe and let it fall with a soft swish to the floor. 

He was naked below it - and he was magnificent, just as beautiful as she'd imagined. His chest and arms were lightly muscled and his caramel-coloured skin gleamed with a slight sheen of sweat. She wondered if it was brought on by exertion or lust. Was he happy in his work? As her gaze dropped lower, she saw he was indeed happy in his work. His erection sprung proudly from dense black hair. She couldn't take her eyes off it. She longed to kneel and take it in her mouth. To lay, legs apart for him once more, to feel it filling her, stretching her - and it would certainly do that - despite her overexcited state. Of that there was no doubt.

He watched her face, his delight in her pleasure evident, and she sighed, a little wistfully. The one thing that both the brochure and Patricia had said was that there was categorically no penetration. Full sex was off the agenda. It was a pleasure house, not a brothel. What a pity.

He reached for her hand and together they stepped into the pool, the warmth of the water caressing their skin. It had been treated with something and was scented. She breathed in the steamy air, recognizing jasmine and something else in the mix she couldn't identify. 

'Sit down. Enjoy,' he commanded.

There were two marble seats beneath the water, moulded so that they divided her buttocks and her thighs. Once more she was forced to sit with her legs apart. 

He sat beside her, pressed a button at his side. The pool was a giant Jacuzzi. Beneath the water, a hundred tiny jets fizzed into action. She gasped, understanding the reason for the legs-apart seating, as a jet of water hit her clitoris. 

So he wasn't about to personally finish the job he'd so expertly started - she was half-disappointed. But she could no more have moved away than if she had been still tied. As the water inched her nearer and nearer to orgasm she arched her back, giving herself up to it, lost in sensation, loving it, never wanting it to end.

Her eyes were closed so at first she barely noticed the soft touch on her face. But when she opened them she saw he had shifted position, his expressive eyes watching her, his finger infinitely gentle as he traced the outline of her jaw.

It was a touch of such tenderness, and his expression was so full of longing that in that brief moment of ecstasy she would have given up the whole afternoon of pleasure, everything he'd made her feel - just for one kiss. 

But it seemed kissing too - was out of bounds. He held her as she came, sliding his fingers inside her at the moment of orgasm, feeling her clenching and unclenching, riding the waves with her. 

If she'd been cynical she'd have thought it was quality control - a check to make sure she had indeed experienced the ultimate in sexual satisfaction. But there was something in his eyes that told her it wasn't quality control. He was revelling in her pleasure, glorying in her release.

'So what did you think? What was it like? Did it exceed your wildest expectations?' Patricia's excited voice trilled in her ear. The phone had been ringing when she'd unlocked her front door.

'It was amazing,' Demi breathed. 'He was amazing. Thank you so much for recommending him.'

'No probs. Did he do the tying up thing? - my God, I thought I would die when he took off my knickers with his teeth.'

'He did indeed.'

'And how about the whipping thing with that silk contraption?'

'That too.'

'And the Jacuzzi? Those water jets are something else, aren't they?' 

'Mmm,' Demi purred at the memory. She would never forget the water jets, or what had happened afterwards. Although she had no intention of telling Patricia about that bit, or anyone else come to that. It would be their secret - hers and his.

But she knew now he didn't have to rely on elaborate games to arouse or satisfy. He was the perfect lover. A lover with the body of a God and the mind of the Devil - that is - if you considered sex to be a sin, which she didn't: most certainly not. He had the kiss of an angel, too. She'd been right about that.

Placing her hand over the mouthpiece, she turned towards him.

'More coffee? More of anything?' He winked. He was dressed in jeans and tee-shirt, but looking far from ordinary, he was making coffee in her kitchen. 

Demi said one last heartfelt thank-you to Patricia and put the phone down.

It was time for round two. But this time she would be in charge. An evening of pure pleasure with an Arabian knight in the dungeon of her bedroom, where the silken bonds, swiftly transferred to the bedposts, awaited them. 

Tonight the cat-o'-nine-tails would have a new master - or rather a new mistress. Demi, the dominatrix - she licked her lips - or if she used the full version of her name

- Demetria the dominatrix.  It had a certain ring to it...
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It All Depends On How You See It

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'Of course men see sex everywhere.'

'That's because there's sex in everything.'

'No way. It's just 'cos you're a man.'

'It's true, it's a primal urge, you can't get away from it.' Joe drained his glass and refilled us both. We were having another one of our Sunday evening pub conversations. They could be about anything: Saddam Hussein; whether God is a woman, but we usually got round to sex at some point. 

'That's rubbish. There are some things in life which just aren't sexy.' I tasted the sharp alcohol on my tongue giving myself time to get my argument honed.

'Like?'

'Like things you hate, things you can't stand. Things you find repulsive. They're just not sexy.'

'Ok, give me an example.'

'Work, I hate it. I never ever feel sexy at work. I'm surrounded by grey suits talking money.'

'Right Vanessa, I'll look on that as my first challenge.'

I sort of forgot about the conversation after that. When Joe and I had been at uni we used to sit up till the early hours with these dopey off the wall debates. Now, still mates even though we were tied to work and paying rent on our flats, we were reluctant to grow up. After a bottle of chilled white any old tosh seems worth talking about and our Sunday-night specials had become a sort of endof-the-week ritual. The next day when the alcoholic haze has worn off you're shot back into the real world with a shudder.

I work in the world's unsexiest building. There isn't a curve or a sensuous line in it. It's all uncompromising angles, strip-lighting and magnolia patterned with dirty fingerprints. I feel like a white mouse in an experiment designed to see how long one sentient being can spend in a box without turning magnolia herself.

At least it was Monday, 5.45 p.m., nearly my time to escape. I shrugged into my jacket and put my handbag on the filing cabinet below the mirror to put on some lippy. As I was poised, gloss in hand I noticed the window cleaner behind me in the mirror. Funny time of day to be turning up, I thought, but then windows can be cleaned any time. 

Now normally I don't go for big muscles but I guess that's because I never see them close up. I only see them baby-oiled in those horrid weight-lifter mags that make guys look like they've got mumps of the chest. But these, even from a distance, I could see were not oiled and were delightfully real, gift-wrapped in a white t-shirt. And they were coming this way. He sauntered across the rapidly emptying car park with a ladder under one arm and a cloth draped over his shoulder like a cape slung over a military man. In the other hand he held a bucket slopping with soapy water. And he was looking at me. I kept my back turned 'cos it's easier to stare with your mouth open when you're spying on someone in a mirror. 

He came over to my ground floor window and stood with his legs apart, grounding himself. Lifting the ladder aside he leant it out of the way against the wall. I stared mesmerized at the strength in his forearms and the way carrying all that weight made his chest expand. Slowly he tucked the cloth in his belt, pulling his jeans down a couple of inches. I now had a ringside view of the line of blond hairs snaking down from his navel to his crotch, like a road sign indicating a one-way street. For some reason, I'd become all fidgety, moving from one high-heeled foot to another. I closed my mouth and gulped. I was going to miss my train. Did I care? Nooooo way.

I really wanted to turn round, to drink in the full force of him but maybe if I had, it would have broken the spell. I could see well enough as he leant down, dipped his sponge in the bucket, and slapped it against the window. Round and round he rubbed, the soapy water dripping down his upheld arm and soaking those hefty shoulders. As he moved his arm right and left, his hips swayed in time, grinding the zip of his jeans against the window ledge. Through the thin cotton t-shirt, the dripping water revealed cheeky man-nipples. Then the water crept down to the soaking bulge between his legs. It barely hid a cock which looked as if it was ready to burst under the denim. A wet patch spreading down to his thighs and the half-lidded look of his eyes made him look like a man almost ready to come. 

I imagined myself, turning around. For a second I could see us both immobile. Then, I pictured one of his eyebrows raising a fraction, his lips quirking into the essence of a smile. In my mind, he issued me with a challenge.

I dreamt I walked over to the window, swung my swivel chair and placed myself in it facing him squarely.

My heart was thumping as I imagined easing my tight navy blue skirt up to my bum till I was sitting on the hem. In my mind's eye I took first one, then the other stockinged foot and hitched it onto the window sill giving him an eyeful of lacy stocking top and thigh. 

As if he could read my mind, the real man impatiently ripped open the top button of his jeans and yanked down the zip, liberating a cock which sprang out proudly at right angles to me. Stunned at this blatant display, I dropped my lipstick and turned around. He really was the most delectable piece of manhood to cross my path lately. If he was ready to do the business, I thought I'd give him a bit of a hand. I sat opposite him, parting my lips and putting my middle finger in my mouth, watching his eyes follow me as I eased open the top of my knickers and slid my finger inside my waiting cunny. At the sight of my dampening panties he dipped one hand into the soapy water using its moistness to lubricate his dick. Looking soapy and filthy and clean all at once, I could see him sliding his hand rhythmically up and down. His arm muscles tensed, standing out like a relief map of the Pyrenees as he gained momentum. His jutting hips bucked in time. There are few things more erotic than looking at the concentration on a man's face as he approaches eruption. He closed his eyes, opened his mouth and I smiled with triumph as he pulled frantically while his cock shot hot salty come onto the window in a sputtering fountain jet.

Seeing the thick essence trickle down the window sent my hormones into overdrive and I was just settling down to finish myself off when my mobile rang. It plummeted me into reality as sharply as if the fire alarm had sounded. What the hell was I doing pleasuring myself in front of a total stranger when the guard could come round the corner any minute? Shock made my legs straighten, shooting my roller-coastered chair backwards where I narrowly managed to save myself by grabbing the desk. 

'What?' I yelled down the phone, standing on trembling legs.

'Joe here. You sound flustered.' I could tell he was smiling. Then light began to dawn.

'You bastard, you set this up, didn't you?'

Itching with frustration, I looked at my window cleaner zipping up his jeans and running a squeegee down the glass. He wiped away all that lovely come and my plans for the evening with it. 

'I think I win round one. You see work can be sexy. Was he any good?'

'Good, he was fucking brilliant. Although his cleaning's crap. He's left the window all streaky.'

'That's 'cos he's a builder. You don't think he got muscles like that nancying about with a sponge do you? He's a good friend. I do all his computer set-ups for him so he owed me a favour.'

'You have got to give me his number.'

'Do you want the mobile or the home one? The home one he shares with his wife and three kids, that is.' Joe laughed, somewhat cruelly I thought, 'that guy is so unavailable.'

My 'window cleaner' at this point waved a cheery farewell, stepped into his white van and disappeared like my fantasies in a puff of smelly exhaust.

I had to admit Joe had proved his point. Sulkily I said, 'you made me miss my train.'

'Sorry sweets. Trains are like men though. There'll be another along later.'

'You still haven't won your bet. Not everywhere is sexy. Work was too easy, it closes and there are places to lurk. I'll bet you can't make a 24-hour supermarket sexy. Those places are hell on earth and there's nowhere to hide from screaming kids and old ladies.'

'Good challenge,' mused Joe. 'I need a couple of days' planning time. Go Wednesday evening and I'll prove my point.'

Of course, I was on tenterhooks till then. I was in danger of admitting Joe had been right. After his escapade at work I was tortured every time I called the photocopier man with thoughts that he might be some hunk about to go down on me in the photocopier room. I cursed Joe for turning me into a sort of sex-obsessed tart.

Tuesday was a nightmare. I couldn't wait to get off the train and dash into my local Tesco, and that's a first! As I wandered round looking at the zombie-like shoppers I found myself peering in corners and even surreptitiously pushing doors marked 'no entry' in a feeble attempt to guess what Joe had in store for me. Like Pandora, desperate to open the box, I prowled around unable to leave. I swear I was stalked by a store detective I was acting so suspiciously; I bought a bottle of Chianti to calm my nerves and legged it home. 

On Wednesday morning I was so keyed up, I found myself spending far too long in the shower, playing with that nice fine jet of water. I had my eyes closed and my head back when the doorbell went. Hell, all thoughts of window cleaners faded as I tramped, soaking wet and pink from an unfulfilled orgasm to find the postman with a special delivery package. Sitting on the bed, I tore it open to find a walkman with a tape inside and a note from Joe. 

'If you listen to this before you get to the supermarket this evening I'll know. All bets are off and I win.' The swine. How was I meant to spend a whole day doing what I was told? I took the walkman to work and could almost feel it burning through my handbag. Every time I sat in a meeting where I wasn't expected to speak I found my mind wandering to that rotten tape. I sat there, feeling the pressure of not being able to satisfy myself mount. At one point I was massaging my neck when unconsciously my hand wandered down, over the light silk blouse I was wearing, to settle over my breast where I found my nipple had hardened like a pebble. When I caught one of the partners eyeing me up as if he could read my thoughts, my cheeks turned puce and I was forced into a mock coughing fit to try and make out I had been nursing a poor ailing chest rather than feeling myself up. One thing you could certainly say of my old friend Joe, he knew how to build up the tension in a girl.

At last I was in the supermarket. As soon as I got through the barrier I plugged in the earpieces and listened. There was a bit of Barry White and then a snatch of Donna Summer. Huh, cheesy. If Joe thought that was going to make this seething palace of consumer greed sexy he was way off the mark. Then came Joe's voice. Deep and sensual, I had never heard him talk like that. Instantly I felt arousal drifting up my thighs and settling somewhere in the pit of my stomach. Joe's voice sounded as if he was lying down and was very, very relaxed.

'Okay Vanessa,' he said, 'I'm in your head now so let's just forget about all those people rushing around. They're in the real world. You and I are going somewhere much sexier than that. First, I want you to grab a basket and start walking upstairs to the underwear section. Obvious I know but it's a great place to start. I've timed this perfectly so we should be exactly in sync, even bearing in mind those ridiculously tight little office skirts and clicky heels you love to wear.' As I walked along hearing his instructions, I listened to my heels and smiled. I never even knew he'd noticed.

'Right, you should be there about now. Look along the rails, to the left, and you will see a perfect coffee-coloured lace two-piece. There's something about skin tone underwear that does it for me. It sort of shows everything and yet it doesn't, don't you think?' I fingered the lace, it was a beautiful set, right at the upper end of their 'finest' range. Joe's voice carried on. 'I'd guess you were a 36D, am I right?' He was. 'Well, this time just get yourself a C cup. This is underwear for playing in and a little tightness restricting those full globes of yours will make for a better game.' My stomach did a flip. I'd always been a bit fed up with my breasts. They were heavy and I had to sort of clinch them to stop them clanging when I ran. 'Full globes' made them sound celebrated. I longed to run my hands over them with pride but, hey, I was surrounded by strangers and I could do without being arrested.

'Now you need some cooling down,' came Joe's breathy tones. He sounded to me like he could do with a bit of cooling down too. 'Go back downstairs, turn right and make for the cold cabinet. Right over in the corner, you'll see the cans of whipped cream. Don't you just love cream? It's sweet and silky and those little nozzles on the can are so useful. Take the can in your hands and just imagine what it would be like to be lying naked on a bed, face down with your eyes closed. I'll bet you've got one hell of a neat arse. I'll bet it's just the sort of arse that cries out to have that little nozzle placed in it and squirted. I can almost hear that cream collecting around your tight little bud, and oozing out of the top of your legs. Sticky, drippy cream, it just calls out for a finger to be dipped into it and rubbed up and down inside those glorious bum cheeks. Can you feel it Vanessa?'

There was five seconds silence where I almost collapsed onto the floor, my arse was quivering like a samba dancer's. There was a guy standing next to me examining butter. Quite frankly, if he'd come up, pushed me over the cabinet and shagged me senseless I'd have got down on both knees and given him a blow job as a prize. I was that horny. I wasn't sure how much of this I could take. I found I was staring at the guy like an idiot. I grabbed a can of cream and darted round the corner, getting some relief by standing next to the cold chicken legs.

'Now, the next stop is aisle 13. Unlucky for some, but not for us.' With extreme difficulty I made my way there and ended up in front of crystallized ginger and icing sugar. The cake making aisle. It was in danger of making me think of my mother. Noooooo! 

I stood and concentrated hard on Joe. His voice was faster now, panting. 'Just take a look along the centre of the aisle, and you'll see glace cherries. Gorgeous aren't they? Round and red, glistening cherries. The best thing to do with those little babies is to lay on your back on the bed and have them, one by one, pushed inside you. Boy do those little sweeties pop in easily. Trouble is, once they're there, you need to get them out. The best thing is for someone to kneel down and put their tongue inside that juicy little gash. The first ones almost pop out, the next ones require a good long suck and the last ones need a seriously hard fingering.' With memories of the cream still fresh in my mind, I couldn't take it any longer. I was creaming so hard myself I was worried I might make a puddle on the floor. The swine, he'd won again. I spent a sleepless night masturbating like a woman possessed. But I wasn't going to give up that easily.

I phoned Joe the next morning when I'd recovered a bit. 'It wasn't fair. The sex was more in my head,' and yours, I thought, 'than in the supermarket. You've got to give me one more chance.'

'OK, because we're old friends I give you just one more chance. But I guarantee there isn't a place on this earth you can find that isn't sexy. And if I win this one, fair and square, I claim my prize.'

'If you win this one you'll deserve a prize.'

'Ok my lady, so lay down the challenge. What is it?'

'An old people's home. Now I've got nothing against old people, I'm planning on being an oldie myself one day. But that must be the most unsexy place in the universe. All that boiled cabbage and chamber pots, I can't even bring myself to think about it.'

'Oh, I can,' said Joe with an inflection in his voice which made me think that he was already hatching a plan in that ever-fertile brain. 'Can you do Saturday evening?'

'Saturday evening it is.' I said.

'I'll pick you up at 10.00pm.'

The guy was incorrigible. He'd really got into this challenge thing. I'd never seen him as particularly competitive but here he was, pulling out all the stops, just to make a point. Men, they never cease to amaze me.

The days seemed to drag by as my anticipation mounted. When Saturday came, I was ready two hours before we were to go. This was better than going on a date.

As we sat in the car together I was acutely aware of how close we were to touching every time Joe changed gear. I could feel my knee twitch as his hand came closer, as if our bodies were magnetized. It was madness, he'd almost proved his point, that every situation could be sexually charged. Maybe though, this would be his Waterloo. In a way it would be a relief because then I could get back to normal. In another way, it would be sad because life would go back to the dull old, same old routine that days used to have.

We drew up at one of those big houses on the outskirts of town that used to be family houses but had been turned into a home for old people. In some places the evening's just beginning at 10.00pm but, here, it was as quiet as a library after closing time. 

'This way,' said Joe reaching for my hand and bringing me round the back of the house. In his other hand he held a small bag. It was dark and I clung on to him trying not to lose my footing, but enjoying, for the first time ever, the warmth of his hand. 

'People will think we're breaking in.'

'No way,' he whispered, 'we've got an invitation.' He pushed French doors which yielded easily and in the corner sitting in a chair was an old man. He smiled without saying a word. 'This is Gordon,' said Joe, shaking the man's hand. 'He's a friend of my dad's. It's his birthday today, poor old sod. I usually just send him a card but he is eighty today so we sort of agreed he deserved something a little more. He doesn't hear too well, and he can barely walk, but he was a real goer in his time. Nowadays he just likes to watch.'

My ears pricked up. 'Watch what?'

Joe thrust the bag he was holding into my hands. I peered inside. 'Please, put that on.' His voice had become low, it sounded a little like it had on the tape. I hesitated, but only for a second. Standing behind the old man, I said to Joe, 'turn away, don't want either of you peeking.' Inside was a nurses' uniform. I immediately guessed the scenario. Poor old guy, surrounded by nurses and never the chance to get an eyeful. I suddenly warmed to my role as I squeezed into my uniform.

'Now Gordon,' I came to stand in front of him, 'I bet you're a very bad patient, always knocking things on the floor.'

His eyes twinkled as he studied the thin blue material and my mountainous breasts bursting out of the top. Normally I wouldn't have been able to carry this through but after Joe's torment of me over the past week I felt so rampant, I needed to display myself. I deliberately turned around and bent down, keeping my legs straight. I was only too aware that he was getting a view of shapely legs, stockinged with hold-ups that revealed chunky thighs. My thong like a little red bootlace was a joke on such a huge round arse. The old guy gave a gurgle of satisfaction and I heard him say, 'Go on boy, I can't get there but you can.'

To my dismay I felt Joe, my old mate, kneeling on the floor behind me and running his hands up my stockinged thighs. I let out a squeak, but he was remorseless as I felt my clit swell to bursting point. Joe, decent caring chap that he is, moved me around so I could see the old guy get his kicks. Joe buried his face in my arse cheeks and breathed in as if he was savouring fine wine then I saw the old man smile as I felt Joe pull my thong aside and drive his tongue up to suck at my exposed fanny-lips. Still bending down and with a burning throbbing clit poking out, Joe massaged my arse cheeks while he poked his tongue into my hole. Then, darling boy, he moved my legs apart and, while he worked with his tongue on the bud of my arse, he pushed a long sensuous finger into my cunny. I was already dripping wet with juices which he lapped up greedily. Swirling his finger round and round it was too much for me and I came in one shuddering gasp.

Gordon was asleep by the time we left. Joe had done the decent thing, and fucked me from behind over the bed. Having a stranger look on just about drove me senseless. 

That was ten years ago. Joe won his bet and got his prize. I never realized he'd fancied me for so long. We're still living together now and I still love him. After all, haven't I just proved he's kind to old people and likes doing the supermarket shop? And with Joe, sex is everywhere, and still mind-blowing. Oh, and Gordon. Poor old Gordon's pushing up the daisies but apparently he died with a smile on his face.
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Fighting Irish

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I was in a foul mood. 

I wasn't dressed for running errands. In my opinion you don't run errands in black nylons, a long, black, stretchy skirt and an oversized white tunic shirt knotted at hip level. It helped that I wore white tennis shoes, but I still felt overdressed. I also hate skirts, not to mention nylons.

This pair's suspender-style; technically, crotchless. And they're about a size too small. I'm full figured so this causes my legs to bulge over the top edge slightly. It was a detail that didn't matter when we were home or when I wore pants. It became critical walking around in a skirt. Basically my thighs were chafing.

Pearce had selected my wardrobe for the day so most of my mood was directed towards him, which he had noticed. As we stood in the checkout line at the market he crowded me, his torso pressing against my back. He slipped his arms under mine to catch the handle of the cart, pulling it tight against my stomach as he dropped his voice to an intimate level, his Irish brogue putting a dangerous accent on the pronoun.

'I'm knackered, girl, and I'm warning ye - adjust the eejit attitude or I will.'

Leaning back against him to intentionally imply compliance, I lay my head against the crook of his neck. Pearce shifted his stance to support my change in position as I spoke softly.

'Yes, sir.'

'It's a bit late ta be playing nice,' he noted dryly, his voice still pitched for a private conversation. 'And agreeing terribly quick weren't ye now? Are ye doubting I'll adjust things ta my satisfaction?'

'Not at all, at all.'

'Don't be sassing that fake Irish ta me. Answer honest.'

'No doubt.'

'Emmm. Make yerself useful then.'

He tapped the counter as he straightened away, the lilting accent threading through his words making the instruction sound less important than it was. It had repeatedly proved all too easy for me to get lost in the melodic sound of Pearce's words. Pair the musical quality of his voice with the fact that he was filled with your basic never-met-a-stranger Irish blarney charm and it was easy to miss that his laid-back good humour was backed by steel. Most people missed it most of the time, just as they missed that Pearce was dominant in our relationship. 

Granted, we didn't wear stereotypical fetish gear. The only fetish item ever seen regularly between us was Pearce's collar around my neck. To those who understood the nuances of domination, the collar was a clear symbol of my submission. But in general it was simply an artistic statement. The narrow, rounded sterling band created a unique necklace that no one realized was bolted in place. To remove it, Pearce would have to use a special wrench.

In the same way we chose not to hide the collar, Pearce and I chose not to completely hide our relationship. If people paid attention it would became apparent he was in charge. The thing was, no one paid attention. We were hidden in plain sight.

As I unloaded the cart Pearce stood hip-shot, emphasizing his pelvis in an utterly distracting way. I wasn't distracted enough to fail to notice when he picked up a tabloid.

'Don't even think about buying that trash.'

'Right, you'll be thinking ta tell me what ta do now, Rach?' he shot back absently, not looking up from a story about a potato possessed by the spirit of a dead celebrity. 

'You need to maintain some decent standards. That isn't it.'

Pearce rotated his hip even farther out to the side, throwing himself off balance to bump me as he taunted,'Ye could maintain decent standards by not staring at my crotch, longing fer a ride.'

'Not so loud.'

'Who's listenin'?'

'Everyone in this line,' I snapped.

His casual cheer, which put the engaging light in his sea-green eyes and lent a captivating openness to his features, disappeared. In a deceptively natural move he squared his weight onto both feet. The subtle shift in body language, like so many other things about my complicated Irishman, was one more thing people usually missed about him. When he squared his feet the width of his shoulders he was, in essence, squaring off for a fight. He was also sending a clear signal that I was not to contradict whatever he said next.

He replaced the tabloid in the rack with careful deliberation. Sliding one hand around the nape of my neck, his fingers curled around my collar, pulling it back against my throat. Stepping closer, he thoroughly invaded all of my personal space. His lips grazed my cheek just in front of my ear, giving his command the appearance of a

kiss as his words vibrated against my skin.

'Stop yer chat.'

The no-nonsense tone of his nearly inaudible statement made my heart pound and my mouth dry. Our days were filled with conversation fuelled by Pearce's gift for gab. He talked as automatically as he breathed. By stopping me, he was, in effect, cutting off his own conversation. Obviously I had irked him far more than I had intended. 

Pearce tilted his head slightly to the left, the black whiskers of his weekend beard dragging against my skin with a shiver-inducing rasp. Brushing his lips over mine, his tongue sought entry into my mouth. The intimate caress tasted of the cinnamon mints he favoured, immediately eliciting erotic memories of other cinnamon encounters, making my heart pound and my knees weak. Pearce lifted his head, running a thumb over my lips, taking in my flush, effortlessly reading my response.

'Och, ye can be so easy, Rachel Anne.'

His comment made me blush even more. It was true, I melted at his touch and we both knew it. Pearce spent the majority of his time guiding my reactions, the past minute being a perfect example. After issuing an order sharp enough to make my heart thump, he poured on the charm so my heart thumped for an entirely different reason, creating two opposing reactions within seconds. He was controlling me and I knew it, but I couldn't resist. I didn't want to.

The foundation of our relationship was the power of control. Anticipating, conditioning, and controlling responses from me was a critical part of our daily life. A very large part of Pearce's interest in having a relationship with me was his ability to have control. In order to sustain an intimate relationship he had to have authority not only in general, but also over me. He needed to dominate.

In the same way, a very large part of my interest in having a relationship with Pearce was his ability to be successfully dominant. In order to sustain an intimate relationship I had to have someone else in control. When Pearce fastened the collar around my neck he took ownership not only of the relationship, but of me. I needed to be submissive.

Like yin and yang, Pearce and I were polar opposites creating the whole. 

His touch interrupted my thoughts. Carrying the bags in one hand, he used his other hand on the small of my back to guide me to the car. To my surprise, he elected to drive. Having emigrated at twenty-eight, Pearce first drove in Ireland. Eight years later he still complained about driving in America. Five minutes later Pearce's preference for being a passenger was proved wise as I disregarded his order to not talk with a sharp order of my own.

'Look left!'

Pearce slammed on the brakes, his right arm instinctively shooting out to brace me as the car jerked to a stop. A truck blasted past the bumper, making Pearce swear bitterly about focking Yank drivers. He ran a shaking hand through his black hair, pushing it into spikes. 

'Ye all right then?'

'I'm fine, honey. Want me to drive?'

'No. Apparently I'm needin' ta practice.'

Carefully looking both ways, he crossed the intersection as I settled back into silence. Tense with concentration, his hands at the traditional 'ten and two' positions on the wheel, it took him a few minutes before he could relax enough to speak.

'Ye've common sense, Rach. Ye use it against me, makin' me crazy. Point being, even when ye know not ta talk ye know when ta.'

He drummed his fingers on the wheel absently, slipping back into the rhythm of driving as he continued talking.

'Originally I wanted - em...what do ye call 'em? - Doormat submissive? Someone ta be seen, not heard, do me bidding ta the letter. Before ye it was girl after girl who woulda let me pull in front of that truck because they were under no-chatting orders.'

He half-laughed at himself with a shake of his head.

'I need submission, I don't need ta be hit by a lorry. I need a relationship, not blind obedience.' He hesitated, then admitted, 'Ye've taught me that. And ye've taught me ta enjoy someone strong. I don't want ta change the way we are, Rach, but I need ta temper yer ways. Ye push too hard, or yer tone gets away.'

Pearce subsided, clearly debating what to say next. When he went into lecture mode it meant he was stating a case as he saw it and presenting what he felt was the best solution. There would be no room for rebuttal. My stomach knotted as I waited for him to continue.

'Inna reg'lar relationship,' letting go of the wheel, he put air quotes around the word regular. 'There's no problem, is there then? But, we're only mostly reg'lar. There are rules. First, I'm in charge. Second, ye submit, no questions asked. Thing is, ye bloody well don't keep the rules. Which forces me to correct ye.'

He sighed, the candour of his next words surprising me.

'It's bollocks, Rach, when ye're not ta chat I don't have anyone ta chat ta, it's punishment for me. I hate it.'

Pearce spun the car into a strip mall lot. Parking, he turned the car off and twisted to face me as he continued to speak.

'The whole point of a submissive is giving me pleasure. Not chatting with ye gives me irritation. And it doesn't modify yer behaviour. C'mere, Rachel.'

Unwillingly I met his eyes. Pearce propped his elbow on the back of the seat, his head braced on his hand. With his other hand he reached out, playing with an errant curl of my hair.

'Next time ye smart off too much or push me authority too far,' he tugged the strand of hair in his hand. 'And ye know what I mean by too much, too far - I'm going ta paddle ye,' he tucked the curl behind my ear and cupped his hand along my jaw. 'Consider yerself fairly warned, girl. Ye know I'm enough of a sadist ta pull it off once. Ye push me wrong and ye won't sit for two days. Understand?'

I nodded.

'Say it.'

'I understand.'

'I'm gonna do it until yer behaviour modifies ta me satisfaction. I don't care if I paddle ye six times a day. Understand?'

'Yes, sir.'

'Subject closed, Rach. Although I still don't want ye talking. Out of the car, there are things ta be done.'

After running errands at stores within walking distance, Pearce took me to a small tattoo and body-piercing shop tucked into the corner of the strip mall. Holding the door open, he vaguely waved in the direction of the chairs lining the perimeter of the lobby. Understanding the pleasing power of instant gratification I immediately dropped into one. He spun back, his brow furrowed.

'That was terribly compliant, luv,' he tucked his hands into the front pockets of his jeans, rocking his weight back on his heels. 'What's this, then?'

Careful to maintain my silence, I shrugged, surprised not only that he was questioning that I had followed his directions but that he was doing so in public, using a normal tone of voice.

'Go on,' he amended belatedly.

Following his lead, I answered with the casual respect we rarely used in public.

'Nothing, sir.'

'Em. Is this from the conversation, then?'

Although I had taken the conversation in the car seriously, I knew he wasn't asking me about it. He wanted to know if I trusted him or if I was worried about the level of correction the next time I crossed him. I rolled my eyes, my answer dripping sarcasm.

'Like you scare me.'

He burst into laughter, chucking me under the chin, his brogue flaring thick.

'Och, there's me Rachel Anne. Just checking. Sit tight, luv.'

Slouching in the chair, I watched Pearce have a conversation at the counter until a casual nod summoned me to his side. Dropping his hand to my waist, he guided me to a private room.

'Jump up,' he suggested, patting a padded, semi-reclined gynaecologist's table.

Awkward in the skirt, I obeyed. Pearce claimed a seat on one of several wheeled stools scattered around the room, spinning himself lazily as we waited. Drumming my heels, I wondered what was going on and debated questioning his intent.

Since I had several already, tattooing wasn't out of the question. Pearce knew I had something of a fetish for symbolism. Periodically the topic of permanently putting his ownership mark on me came up, but as far as I knew the concept hadn't gone beyond idle conversation. I certainly hadn't seen him designing a mark. Not that he needed my opinion, but he hadn't solicited it, which was out of character.

'You're waiting me out.'

'Pardon?'

'You, the compulsive talker, haven't said one word, you're trying to goad me into asking why we're here.'

The look he shot me had me amending my statement, correcting my flip, disrespectful tone. 

'You're hoping I'll inquire why, sir.'

He grinned impishly.

'So ye'll be wantin' ta know then?'

'No, sir.'

'Stubborn is as stubborn does.'

Before I could think of a snide comment about who, exactly, was being stubborn, the door opened. A man came in, greeting Pearce by name with a friendly handshake.

'Ready?' he inquired, shutting the door. 

'Aye.'

Pearce gave his stool a push, rolling over to me in one motion.

'Shift over, Rach. Put yer legs over the short side.'

As I did, the man I didn't know sat on a stool close to the short end of the table. As soon as my legs were swung over completely he unbuckled medical stirrups from the sides of the bench and locked them into place. My mouth went dry. Catching one of my feet in his hands, the man spoke to me for the first time. 

'Lean back.'

Before I could react he lifted my foot into the stirrup, throwing me off balance. Before I could voice the scathing words that came to mind, Pearce spoke, sliding

dangerously on the stool as he lunged to brace me.

'Careful there, Michael.'

A second later I was laying against the reclined back of the table, both feet in the stirrups, my skirt tenting over my legs.

'I told her to lean back,' Michael grumbled.

'Don't be dumpin' her ta the floor.'

'She always so slow to do what she's told?'

'Don't be a wanker. She moves at my speed, not yers.'

'And it has nothing to do with the discipline problems you have with her.'

'There's that, too,' Pearce agreed. 'Especially taday.' 

'Why today?'

'It's been a bastardly morning.'

'Why?' Michael asked idly, busy doing something out of my sight. Pearce leaned an elbow next to my hip, his back to me as he continued his conversation about me as if I wasn't in the room, ignoring the hole I was attempting to stare into the back of his head.

'Rachel has a corporate job, sometimes her transition back ta me isn't smooth.' 

'How long have you had her? Two years?'

'There abouts.'

'Her professional life still affects you? And you're letting her keep that job?'

'I thought about having her quit,' he shrugged. 'Then decided not ta.'

My blood ran cold. Moving in with Pearce meant moving control of my life to him. Even so, I had maintained de facto management of my career. Pearce had the final decisions, but until five seconds ago I had no idea he had considered anything about my professional life.

'I wouldn't put up with it.'

Not only was I tired of being excluded from a conversation of which I was the topic, but I was tired of having a stranger judge me poorly. And I was enormously tired of not knowing what was going to happen. Before I could give voice to my mounting questions, Pearce leaned his head against my angled thigh and answered Michael's disapproval with a mild question of his own, his Irish accent rolling heavily. 

'Ye don't have ta put up with it, now do ye?'

'Nope, she's your handful, not mine.'

'That she is.'

Listening to Pearce I had an epiphany. The only reason I had the urge to talk was to exert control. But it wasn't my conversation. It didn't matter that I was the topic, none of it concerned me. Pearce was in control and I needed to leave it in his hands. Trying not to draw attention to myself, I tipped my head back and closed my eyes, inhaling deeply, willing myself to relax.

'Pearce, tell me placement.'

Michael pushed the stirrups to the farthest outside point, taking my feet with them, forcing my legs to spread. A second later his hands were on the insides of my knees, pressing them down and out which pushed my thighs achingly wide as he shoved my skirt all the way up.

'Cut these?' 

'Aye.'

I froze from the outside in as scissors slashed my panties. I could feel my face flaming at being fully exposed. Instinctively, I wrapped a quivering hand around my collar for support and waited. Gritting my teeth I concentrated on ignoring the touch of unfamiliar fingers between my legs. My heart thundering in my ears blocked all other sound. Eventually a clamp was positioned on an outer lip and screwed down tight.

Terrified, it was all I could do not to react. Pearce knew how negatively I viewed genital piercing. Focusing on the fact that I trusted him, I forced myself to breathe deep and slow, counting to five with each breath. A minute later I relaxed completely, soaring into the warm silence in my head.

The clamp being removed without a piercing happening pulled me back. Pearce pushed my knees together before he lowered my legs. I kept my eyes closed, drifting, letting the warmth of his familiar touch guide me. It wasn't until he started talking that I started to really pay attention.

'Rachel?'

'Yeah.'

'Yeah?' He echoed with a terrible American accent, making me laugh. 

'Don't imitate me.'

'Och, don't be so casual.'

'No, sir.'

'Are ye back, Rach?'

'Yes, sir.'

'So what's this then? I was pushing, but enough fer ye ta go inna subspace?'

'I didn't mean to -'

'I know,' he caught my wrists, pulling me to a sitting position. Kissing my brow, he rested his forehead against mine. 'I was focking around. Ye wasn't ta go all soft.'

'You were just fucking around?'

'Don't take that tone,' he warned, framing my face in his hands. 'I'll fock with you when I want, Rachel Anne.'

'Yes, sir,' I agreed without conviction. 

Understanding the implication of my tone, his jaw muscle knotted and his hands clenched, his wrists tightening against my chin. 

'Ye'll be recalling what I said in the car?'

'Yes, Pearce.'

'Don't push.'

'No, sir.'

I held absolutely still as Pearce studied me for a long, silent moment. Finally, in a lightning-quick change of mood, he banked his simmering anger, his hold softened and his tone became gentler. 

'That's yer only warning. Now, ye don't melt like that, help me with the how come and why now. Put me in yer head.'

He sank down on the stool, supporting his crossed arms over my knees as I protested, 'Not like this.'

He snapped his fingers and conditioning took over. My eyes locked onto him, my mind and body going still as I refocused on him, the small impersonal room fading away.

'Talk.'

I wasn't allowed to look away, but I couldn't meet his gaze. I slid my attention to his eyebrows. On one hand I hated this sort of intense interest in my thought process. On the other hand, this was exactly why I chose to be submissive. I needed him to know me inside out, I wanted to submit to this kind of stripping away of privacy, to not even have my thoughts be my own. It was unbelievably difficult and unrelentingly intimate. 

'I relaxed, sir.'

'Over talking about ye like ye weren't in the room, aye, but body piercing?'

'I didn't know about that.'

'But ye never reacted.'

I wanted to shade the truth, to be less vulnerable.

'It was you,' I declared, meeting his eyes.

There was a second of incomprehension then understanding dawned.

'Say it.'

'Pearce...'

'What's the rule?'

'If I can't say it then I'm not ready for it.'

He cocked an eyebrow, waiting. A long minute later I swallowed and began to speak,

'I decided to relax because you control everything.'

'Define everything.'

'Everything,' I repeated helplessly. 'I love you. I trust you. I agreed to submit to you. So I decided to stop fighting, sir.'

'Just like that?'

I shrugged, giving up and relaxing into the inescapable honesty he demanded.

'It wasn't that easy, but yeah, just like that,' I smiled, a feeling of relief spreading through me as I admitted, 'I'm yours. You own me. And you don't have to look so stunned.'

'Ye do this now?' he protested, burying his head in my lap.

'Honey, I told you: not like this,' I reminded him, my fingers playing in his hair.

His voice was muffled in my skirt as he spoke, 'I didn't realize ye were finally admitting me ownership.'

'You've been taking ownership since the day we met.'

'I know that, ye eejit. It's slow because you, luv, fight accepting my control.'

'I know that,' I echoed his words. 'But you put up with it and you're everything to me. So I got with your program.'

He kept his head down in my lap for several minutes without speaking. Lifting his head, he stroked the back of his fingers along the line of my jaw.

'Right, so ye've stopped fighting, have ye now? I'll be believing it when I see it, but it's the thought that counts, aye?'

I opened my mouth to protest then thought better of it. Pearce watched me make the decision and laughed at my final conclusion, tapping my nose as he stood. 

'Careful, that was a decision based on how yer owner'll react. Ye may want ta ease inta that thinking, not over-tax yerself the first half hour of it.'

'Rude, Pearce.'

'Rude, sir,' he corrected good-naturedly, holding me captive with his assessing gaze. 'Yer mine, eh Rach?' 

'Yes, sir.'

He dug a hand into the front pocket of his jeans.

'Hold out yer hand.'

I obeyed, unable to still my trembling fingers. Pearce supported my hand in his, raising it to his mouth to kiss my palm. Lowering my hand he dropped a smooth, round silver charm onto the spot he had kissed. The interlocking engraved letters centred on the charm were his initials. Flipping it over I found three delicate lines of engraving, my name, the word owned, and a series of numbers.

'You planned this,' I accused as I realized the numbers were today's date.

Pearce laughed at me again, the lilt of his accent turning his words to music, 'Of course I did.'
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