Well, I’d been thinking for a while that I needed to take Nick away, but it was the night with Hansie which convinced me. Nick wasn’t there – Nick was on his way home from Turkey, and Hansie called on his way home from rugby training. He does that about once a fortnight: comes in, has coffee, fills me in on the gossip, is generally reasonably polite to Nick, pushes off again. I’m not a hundred per cent sure which of us he’s coming to see, actually. He says it’s me, but he talks more to Nick than he used to. Recently, though, Nick hasn’t been there and Hansie – do you know, the first few times, he was the way he had been right at the start of our relationship, when he was desperately trying to. . . not to impress me exactly, Hansie never thinks he can impress, but to make himself likeable. It’s always hard to tell what’s going on in Hansie's head, and I don’t think even he knows, much of the time, but he always seems to be trying to live up to somebody’s expectations. His father’s, I suppose, and then later Piet’s, and Jim’s and to some extent mine. I’m not certain why it’s come upon him again all of a sudden, unless perhaps he thinks I compare him to Nick. Yes, that might very well be it: Hansie was compared, all his developing years, first with his brother and then with the glorified memory of his brother, and never to his advantage. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find that now he’s trying to live up to Nick as well, although that doesn’t stop him criticising Nick for leaving me alone so much.
“So where is he this week, hey?”
“Turkey. He’s been abroad three times in eight days, Hansie, end to end. He hasn’t slept here since the Monday before last, he hasn’t eaten here either. He’s just come in, showered, unpacked one bag, packed another, kissed me and gone again. One drugs case to Portugal, one of those home alone cases to recover an idiot mother from Greece – three kids left alone, the oldest thirteen and the youngest nine, and they didn’t even know where the damn woman had gone: Nick had to fly to the back end of beyond and then go with the locals to look for her – and Turkey this time on a missing person. And he’s doing liaison with the port authorities and the airport police on something which he doesn’t tell me about – to be fair he doesn’t tell me very much about any of it, but this is something very hush-hush, and all his own usual work as well.”
Hansie stared. “His usual work? You mean these trips are extra?”
“Well, you can imagine how it’s been for the last couple of months. Nick doesn’t have anything to do with security or anti-terrorism, but all leave was cancelled for a month, and then all the people who do do that sort of thing were put on special duties, and somebody has to pick up their work. It’s calming down again now, thank heavens, and he’s got ten days leave coming up the week after next, which he says he will definitely get. What I’d really like to do is disconnect the phone when he isn’t looking, and then we’re going to paint the kitchen and the hall.”
“You are not going away?”
“We weren’t intending to. Too much to do here, if I can stop him thinking about work.”
“Steal his mobile phone, hey?”
I sighed. “I would if I could, Hansie, believe me, but the bottom line is that he’s a policeman. He needs to be in touch. I can’t make a judgement about the way he works, can I? He says himself, there’s an awful temptation to overdo it because there’s always another case chasing the one he’s on, but he is getting better about walking away, about understanding that if he’s overtired and stressed he manages less, not more. But I can’t – I won’t – make that sort of demand on him. I know a lot of Tops do: they say ‘I can tell you’re overdoing things and I forbid it’, but I don’t think that’s a decision I can make for a policeman. He takes his work seriously and I won’t tell him it’s too seriously because. . . well, you know what he does. That case with the dead children: what right have I to say to a child’s mother, ‘I’m stopping a senior investigating officer staying late on the job because I want my lover home, because I think I know better than him what he can manage’? That’s his call, not mine. I’m a photographer; how could I possibly know what needs to be done and whether or not somebody else could do it? How arrogant would that be? He’s got twenty years experience of being a policeman; I’ve got less than a year of being a policeman’s partner.”
Hansie tipped his head, and thought about it. “But you do not think that if he is doing too much, he will make a mistake? That is how it is for me, and I know for Tim also. Well, for most of us, I think, and Nick’s mistakes are likely to be more serious than ours. So if he is stressed and overworked, and he does not stop himself, you do not have a duty to stop him?” I sighed, and he added hastily, “I am devil’s advocate only (have I the phrase right?), I would not set my opinion up against yours.”
“The plain fact is, Hansie, I don’t know. I don’t know if I’m doing the right thing or not. Yes, he might be a better policeman if I insisted on him doing less – and he might not. I suspect he’s always done it, and his colleagues obviously think well of him, so I’m inclined to believe that he knows what he’s doing. He’s not a fool: he knows quite well that he’s pushing things, he says so, and he knows too that his health suffers when it’s really too much. And he’s not an emotional inadequate who can’t handle being stressed or unhappy, or who needs somebody else to sort out his life when he is. But on top of that, he hasn’t had a migraine since he’s been living with me, and his digestion has improved, and whatever that is, it’s not my cooking. I’ve made a judgement call, that it’s not my job, not my responsibility, certainly not my right, to decide for him, or to take any of his decisions out of his hands. None. Not one. He can put them in my hands if he wants, and I’ll accept them, but that’s his call. What I can do is give him a space where he doesn’t have to decide anything at all except to obey me, and if doing that once in a while frees him up enough for him to go on, well, who’s the loser by it? I believe that he knows himself what he’s capable of; I trust him to know when he has to say ‘no, now somebody else has to cope for a bit, I’m done’.”
I wouldn’t have said that much to anybody else, except possibly to Piet. Possibly. Nick wouldn’t like it if I did: he still doesn’t know what to make of Piet. It’s funny, I’ve heard him use Piet’s name precisely once; he avoids it (quite neatly) in talking to him, and he calls him ‘de Vries’ in speaking of him. But for all that Nick and Hansie squabble, he has no problem with Hansie knowing the basis and many of the details of our relationship – and in all their fights, neither of them, as far as I know, has ever used the other’s confidences as a weapon. Hansie still won’t admit to liking Nick much but he trusts him completely; an odd combination. Nick likes Hansie a lot, and admires him too; it saddens him that Hansie won’t allow him to be a close friend, but he has more sense than to try and force it.
We talked about other things for a while, until we were interrupted, earlier than I had expected, by the sound of the key in the door. Nick looked ghastly. White-faced, unshaven, huge circles under his eyes, and that sag of a man whose back hurts with weariness. He dropped his bag, and came to kiss me.
“That’s it, Fran. Last trip. I’m home now. I’ll have to go in tomorrow, but not until after lunch.”
Behind him, Hansie's chair scraped on the floor as he got up.
“I shall leave you in peace, hey? See you in a day or two.”
Nick half turned. “Don’t go on my account, Hansie. As soon as I’ve had something to eat, I’m off to bed; stay and keep Fran company, because she’ll get none from me. No, really! Don’t go.”
Hansie sat down again, rather uncertainly; Nick made a move towards the kettle. “I’ve got to have some tea, the stuff on the plane was vile and I didn’t dare drink any more coffee.”
I took charge. “Go and have a shower, love, and change. I’ll make you some tea, and something to eat. What would you like?”
“God, anything quick. A sandwich. I’m too tired to eat much.”
“Go on, then, I’ll do it.”
He went without argument, and I reached for the breadknife. Hansie looked up at me. “I would not argue with him, I can see he is not fit for it, but I think I should go.”
“Don’t, Hansie. At least until he’s gone to bed, please? He worries about leaving me on my own too much – it was a factor in the breakdown of his marriage – and he hasn’t really taken in that I’ve never lived with anybody, so it’s nothing new to me to spend an evening with my own company. It doesn’t trouble me, but if you’re not here when he comes down again, he’ll try to stay up to talk to me.”
He nodded. “Ja, I see. O.K., if me being here gives him permission to go to bed, I will stay. May I help, then? I will make the tea, hey?”
Nick reappeared in a T shirt and a pair of track pants, looking a little less corpse-like, and fell upon his sandwich. “There’s a book of photographs of Turkey for you in the bottom of my bag, Fran. There were a couple I thought would interest you.”
I went out to retrieve it, and Hansie and I leaned over it for a moment, admiring. Landscape photography is something I do very little, although I would like to do more, and the camerawork in the book was very fine. When we looked up, Nick was asleep, a third of his sandwich abandoned, his head on the table in the crook of his arm, his fingers laced loosely around his mug. I rescued it hastily, before it tipped.
“Enough, sweetheart, up to bed. Come on, Nick. Nick? Wake up, pet, come on, on your feet.”
Hansie put me quietly aside, and hooked an arm under Nick’s chest to pull him back from the table, and then took him under knees and shoulders, lifting him easily. Rugby players. . . I went ahead of him to open the door and draw the curtains, and threw back the duvet. Hansie deposited Nick in bed infinitely gently, and looked up. “Do you want to undress him, or leave him?”
I checked what was under the track pants. “I’ll get these off or he’ll overheat. He can sleep in his shirt and pants. Can you turn him a little this way?”
He muttered as we peeled the trousers off him, but as soon as I drew up the covers, he turned his face into the pillow and it was obvious that we would get no more from him. We went back downstairs.
“Fran? You know you said he had not eaten at home this week? I would say he has not eaten anywhere else either.”
I poured us both some more of the rather stewed tea. “Why not?”
“Well, he is Tim’s size, ja nee? Similar build, too; not quite the same, he is leaner, but I cannot lift Tim as easily as that. And it was what, ten days ago, that I was here and you wanted something from the loft, remember? And rather than going for the ladder, I boosted him up. He weighs less now than he did then, I am certain of it, and he does not have the spare to lose that most of us do.”
“Hmm. I may have to rethink what I said earlier about not taking over.”
Hansie laughed. “Very traditional, in the fiction. He does not eat properly, he does not get enough sleep. We all know what a good Top does about that.”
I snorted. “You don’t, you know. That’s a slash fiction thing. Doesn’t come up in het fiction half as much.”
He thought about that. “But you knew what I meant? If it is not. . . oh, I know. You have done illustrations.”
“That’s how I know, Hansie, but how do you know? You don’t mean to tell me you buy dubious magazines, or visit dodgy websites?”
Honestly, making Hansie blush? Fish in a barrel. He lifted one shoulder at me. “Before Tim, it was. I was much younger.” He grinned at me. “And then I met Tim, and I thought: I have no need ever to go to those websites again. But he knew so many more that I had never even heard of. . .”
“Well, Nick won’t have a clue what you’re talking about, so don’t confuse him by asking. Anyway, that technique wouldn’t work with him.”
“What, topping him into eating?”
“He’s like you, Hansie, he’s nervy. If I follow the party line and spank him for not eating and not getting enough sleep, he’ll end up too upset to do either. Anyway, that’s not what we do, you know that. We’re players, not lifestylers.”
“Well, but he must be persuaded to take some time for himself, surely, and that is what you say he struggles to do. So will he not do it if you order him?”
“I don’t know. Yes, I think I do: he’ll do it because he knows I’m right, and it won’t be half as good for him as if he relaxed and didn’t think about it. If I say to him, ‘you’ve lost weight, you need to eat regularly’, he will, but it will be an effort, it will be another task on his list, and that’s something he really doesn’t need.” I nibbled my lower lip, thinking about it. “No, I can see how it can be done. He just needs not to notice that I’m doing it.”
Hansie laughed. “Piet says you can sell a good dummy when you try. Do we help, or do we stand about and admire?”
“Actually, I think it’s Tim or Phil I need. I know they’re fussy about which particular delicatessen they use for different things, but I don’t know what the final verdicts were. Do you know that? Which one they use for cheese and which for fancy salads in tubs, and so on?”
He did, actually.
I did nothing until the weekend, except make sure that when Nick was at home to eat, there were real meals, although he wanted to eat very little; I didn’t make an issue of it. Nick was in court all day on Friday and I had been out to a very early contract, so he had still been in bed when I had got up. I was home mid-afternoon, though, planning and making arrangements. When he came in at six, I met him in the hall, and the whole of my planning nearly went down the drain in one go.
He was in uniform.
I hadn't seen it before: sometimes he went to court in uniform and sometimes not, I knew that, but it hadn't happened since he had moved in with me and although I had pushed the tunic from one end of the wardrobe to the other, I had never seen it on him. And. . .it’s the buttons. Nick isn’t a particularly good-looking man, any more than I’m a good-looking woman; we’re both average, but he scrubs up well, and he’s proud of his uniform and takes care of it. Everything which ought to be clean and pressed was clean and pressed; everything which ought to be polished was polished. I know, I know, in the circles of Tops and Bottoms, the man in the uniform is the Top, everybody knows that. Everybody except Fran. Once, a long time ago, there was a charming American who turned up in one of the clubs looking for a Top, and when eventually I went home with him I found he was on leave from one of the local USAF bases. They’re mostly gone now, and he was one of the first to be sent home; I nearly broke my heart, not particularly over him (nor he over me, our relationship had run its course) but for the loss of the uniform. A nice submissive Bottom in a uniform can keep me happily occupied for hours.
Well now, I think I’ve mentioned it before, but the reason all Tops speaks the way we do, in that languorous drawl, is to allow enough of a time lag between action and words that we can read the scene and adapt it on the fly. A really good Top – a really good one – doesn’t work to a script, merely to a plot outline. I know where we’re going, and I know approximately how we’re getting there. I may have fairly detailed plans, but I also know the occasional value of replacing them, or revising them, or simply winging it. My intention had been to order Nick upstairs and get him into his collar at once, and to go for straight submission on his part without actually laying anything physical on him. The uniform changed my mind. The whole thing would go better if there were something for me in it as well as something for him, and he finds it easier to submit mentally when he’s already had the spur of physical submission. The difficult bit would come later, though, getting him to accept that he didn’t have to wear the collar.
He likes it. He understands how it works. He likes symbols; we don’t even talk about the thread thing any more, and neither of us feels any urge to repeat it, but that day, having the threads on his wrists was a very powerful factor for him until he met Hansie. The second collar, his white noise collar he calls it, took us weeks to find. We went to every kinky shop and website I knew, because it had to be precisely right for him. He loves to wear my collar, and with the play one, that’s the point of it – that it’s mine, not anything else. That I have marked him as mine. Sure, we play without it, but if we’re going to any depth, he wants it. It meant something to us both, and now I wanted him to learn that it had presence even in its absence.
He stopped in the hall, seeing something in my face, put down the files he was carrying, opened his mouth to say something. I gave him the Look, and he read it, came to attention, said nothing. When I pointed, he knelt.
“Do you have to go back to work tonight?”
“When do you go in next?”
“Monday. Unless. . .”
I held out my hand. “Phone.”
He reached for it, but he held it back from me, with a quizzical look. I answered the question he hadn't asked.
“I will keep it turned on, I will allow you to answer it if it’s the station. But you’re not available to casual callers. I’ll check it regularly for messages, and if they’re work I’ll tell you. But I’m keeping it.”
He frowned, considering, and looked up. “On you? Not in a coat pocket where you might not hear it?”
“On me or with me, all weekend, I promise.”
Oh, he’s quick enough, he heard that one. “All weekend?”
“I want you all weekend.”
We had played for afternoons which had turned into evenings and once or twice the early hours of the morning, but never longer, although we had spoken of it. He bit his lip, nervously. “Fran, I do want to, but I’m so damn tired still. I don’t know if I can. Even tonight. . . I think I might just be too tired.”
I reached down to touch his face. “That’s my problem, not yours. Are you mine?”
The phone dropped into my palm. “Always. Yes. As long as you realise that I may just keel over and go to sleep.”
I smiled at that, it being my primary objective. Secondary objective. The primary objective was to have him eat .“Upstairs then.”
In the bedroom, I started slowly on the buttons of his tunic. He has learned not to help, so he tucked his hands tidily behind him and didn’t speak; his breathing quickened, though. Tired? He was shattered still, but I know how to press all his buttons. “Hang this up. And put your tie with it.”
He came back to me, and I neatly unfastened his trousers, tugged them down, underwear following, and guided him across my lap.
“Now, Dominic, why am I going to spank you?”
“Ummmmm. . . because you can?”
“Precisely. Because I can, because I want to. No other reason.”
If I needed evidence that he was a player, not a lifestyler, there it was. I shifted slightly to make him comfortable, and began to spank him. In the end I took quite a long time over it, covering his bottom with crisp slaps until his skin blushed through pink to a hot red, and he was beginning to gasp and wriggle. Not a serious spanking, though – he was warm and tender (and extremely turned on!) but there was nothing he would feel for any length of time. I stroked the target gently and he purred with pleasure.
“Up you get. Kneel.”
I went for the toy box and opened it where he could see me remove the collar. He shifted his weight slightly when I touched it, and his breath hitched for a second. I held it out towards him.
“Do you want it?”
“Good. But for what I want to do tonight, you can’t wear it all the time. Is that a problem?”
He frowned. “I don’t understand.”
“You didn’t need it a minute ago when you were over my knee. You can submit to me without it, and you often do; tonight I’ll have to take the collar away part of the time but I’m saying you will be collared in everything that matters until I say you’re not. Do you understand that? The collar is in your head, not necessarily round your neck. Can you manage that?”
A rather bewildered nod.
“Are you mine?”
It’s become our question, our way of establishing consent.
“You can be on duty without being in uniform; you can be collared without wearing the collar.” I closed the box, the collar still inside, and then I touched his throat, one hand gently on each side. “Are you collared?”
“Yes, Miss Frances,” he answered obediently. I do love working with an intelligent man; I broke off one relationship with a very subby sub because everything had to be explained to him in words of one syllable. “I want something a bit different from you tonight; you’ll find it disconcerting, I have no doubt. You’re collared, so you will be unquestioningly obedient, because that is how you will please me best, do you understand?”
He looked apprehensive, but he nodded. “What if I ask you do something you don’t want to do?”
“I do it anyway.”
“And if you are really distressed about it?”
“Use my words.”
“Good. There’s no hurry; I want a glass of wine and to watch the news, and I feel inclined to do those with you at my side. You can have your collar to begin with, here. Now, don’t speak until you’re spoken to.”
I took him downstairs, poured myself a glass of Orvieto Classico, dry as battery acid and cold enough for condensation to form on the glass. For Nick, I chose – sorry, what? Oh yes, I chose, he’s not allowed to choose for himself once he has my collar on, no matter whether it’s real or imaginary – I chose beer. His favourite, Marchisons’ Old Socks or some such idiotic name, at room temperature. I sent him to turn on the TV, and I rummaged in the fridge for some of the things I had bought and took them through, setting them on the coffee table conveniently by my side.
“Come here. Lie down, stretch out. . . Yes, like that. Now, don’t fidget.” He was half way into my lap, propped against me so that he could drink his beer, and presently I reached over to the selection of interesting things from the deli: olives and cubes of herbed feta and halloumi in olive oil with basil. Not enough to call them a meal, just nibbly things. I fed him from my fingers, and ate enough myself, and kept a careful eye on his glass. When the tubs were empty, I made him lick my sticky fingers clean and he smiled dreamily at me. One bottle and he was well on the way to being drunk. Definitely overtired and underfed.
“Go upstairs, and choose something from the box to bring me. Whatever you like.” Safe command. He’ll always choose the leather paddle: it’s the thing he likes best when we’re just playing. This time I unfastened his shirt, slowly, eased it off him. Hansie was right – he was too thin. Every knob of his spine stood out, and there were long hollows between his ribs. Even the bones of his wrist felt fragile when I pulled him down across my knee. He was still flushed from his first spanking, and it didn’t take much to have him wriggling again and making little throaty noises of discomfort and pleasure. I like to see him hot and squirming – we both like it when I push him further than that, close to the point at which he says he can feel his safe word being dragged up. It may have made it to the back of his teeth, but it’s never been spoken. I would think it a failure on my part if it had. This time, though, I just wanted him hot and paying attention to me. Not thinking about work, not worrying about what else he might be doing. Not really in pain, just smarting and breathless.
I let him up, restored his trousers, pulled him down to kiss him. Went to refill my glass, and his, more nibbly things too. Another bottle of Nitwit’s Old Peculiar (well, I don’t know, they all look the same to me) and some more Orvieto, and two different sorts of ham, mushrooms à la grecque, something similar with courgettes and garlic, one with aubergine and pine nuts, and huge prawns marinated in something with lots of cayenne. None of it looked like real food; all of it looked like things an indulgent Top might feed by hand to a spoiled Bottom, and one way or another, that was more than Nick had eaten in one hit since he came home. This time, when we ate the last of it, I ran my oily fingers down his chest, painted my initials in marinade and pushed him away from me.
“I’m going to run a bath. Stand up, strip, and when I come back I want you kneeling there again.”
When I came back, I put two fingers lightly inside the collar and took him to the bathroom; he gave a little whine of amused apprehension. I’ve put him in the cold shower a couple of times: he says he doesn’t like it, but his body says he’s lying. The bath was full; the tray was set on the coffee table which I had brought up. I reached to remove his collar, set my hands to the sides of his throat, saw that he understood me. He was still collared.
“In you go. Yes, go on. Is it hot enough? Go on, Dominic, lie back. Better. Now.”
“What are you going to do? Am I allowed to ask?”
“No. I’m going to do whatever I please. You are also going to do whatever I please.”
What I pleased was to coax him forward, and wash his back. I let him settle back again, and I washed, carefully, the rest of him. He wriggled a little. He’s done that for me, but not the other way round, and it made him a little uncomfortable. I put on my Top’s look again.
“Lie still. I haven’t finished.”
“But. . .”
I gave him a serious Look and he subsided. I finished my wine and tipped the last of his beer out of the bottle. “Do you want another one of those?”
“I. . . Fran, what’s going on? I don’t understand this.”
“No, you don’t understand. I told you this would be different, didn’t I? And you promised to obey me. So obey me.”
“What do you want me to do?”
“I want you to lie back again while I get myself another glass of wine.”
I grinned a little as I went downstairs. He was baffled, poor lamb, and he would be worse before I was finished with him. He was getting fidgety, though. He didn’t know what I wanted, and he was waiting for me to do something that he recognised. He would wait a long time. A good Top – and I am a good Top, of this sort at least – can keep a Bottom so confused that he doesn’t know which way on his head goes, and so involved that he doesn’t care. He knew where he was with the two spankings he’d had; he didn’t know where he was with petting and being fed and stroked and fussed over. He was thinking about him and me and not about anything else.
I went back with my wine, and turned to the little table – and the chocolate. I’m no sort of cook, but I can copy. I watched what Phil does with chocolate spread and cream. As he says, it’s not sophisticated, but I’ve seen the way it makes Piet smile, and I’m as good as the next woman at putting two and two together to make a very large total indeed. I mixed the two where Nick could watch me, and then I brought the two bowls over beside the bath. Don’t ask what strawberries had cost me out of season, nor what the food miles were. God knows where they had come from but it had taken me four shops to find any which actually smelled of strawberry rather than just of cold. They were perfect, though, firm enough to hold their shape as I dragged them through the chocolate and held them up to Nick.
I fed him, I ate some myself, some I caught between my teeth and leaned over to share with him. There was chocolate everywhere, including in my hair, and Nick was laughing. I caught my breath. He used to laugh a lot with me, and when we moved in together he was happy, and then this last month he didn’t laugh. Make a note, Fran. Make it happen some more. Look, if I’m not careful, I miss this sort of thing. Do I need to say it again? I’ve never lived with a man. I don’t know what to expect – except that at my age I think maybe I’m more careful about getting it right than a younger Fran would have been. I’m more than his Top – I know I hold his happiness in my hands. He holds mine, and I’m not used to giving that up. We finished the chocolate. And the strawberries. I had to wash him again.
And I know what I can do with a handful of soapy lather. That’s something else I hold in my hands, with a slow friction that unfocused his eyes, until unsteady fingers closed on my wrist. “Fran, if you keep doing that. . . and I honestly am too tired to be good for any more afterwards.”
I unpicked his fingers. “Don’t you dare come until I say you may.” And I went back to what I was doing, a little tighter, a little faster, and his breath hitched and whined in his throat, and his lips moved. When I leaned closer, I could hear the words: “You do not have to say anything. But it may harm your defe. . . your defence if you do not. . . if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say. . . fuck. Anything you say maybegiveninevidence oh God. Oh Fran. Oh Fran.”
I put my mouth close to his ear. “Now.”
He was still wobbly when I hauled him out of the bath and patted him dry, and pushed him towards the bedroom, where he collapsed onto the bed. He was capable of reaching for me, but I wasn’t having it. “Turn onto your face. Go on, right over. I haven’t finished yet.”
His skin was still slightly damp in places, so it didn’t take much of a spanking to make him mew with discomfort. I don’t think he realised how little I had actually done – by the morning there wouldn’t be a mark on him, nor would he feel it – but I wanted him to think we had played for much longer, and much more fiercely, than we actually had.
“Hands. Cross your wrists. Comfortable? Don’t move. Don’t move anything at all.”
I used the beads to fasten his hands to the bedframe – they were a good idea, I’m pleased with them – and then settled myself astride his thighs. The bottle of baby oil spray was within reach. Oh yes, that’s something a photographer always has. I can make your hair shine with good health, and it will take you a hour to get it clean again. I can make your skin glow with happiness, and you’ll smell of vanilla all day. I’ve used it instead of wax on a sports car, to great effect; James Hamilton thinks it very funny that his factory machinery is made photoworthy with cheap pharmaceutical supplies, and you know the fancy high-piled fruit flan in the recipe book, shining with a syrup glaze? Don’t eat it, you’ll be sick. I can soft focus you in a picture with a piece of cotton wool and – yes, you guessed, although it’s a bugger to get off the lens later. At a pinch you can treat leather with it, and apparently you can use it on a baby, too, although I’ve never done it. But a tiny spray into my palms and I started on Nick’s back.
I’m a deceitful bitch when I want to be. A long stroke down his back, a gentle one round his ribs (like a bloody xylophone. There are women who would kill for his metabolism. He skips a few meals in a week and loses half a stone) and a smart spank. He jumped. A firm pressure across the back of his waist, a slid of my hands up to his shoulders, and another smart spank. Half a minute at the back of his neck, working at the tension there, and a spank, lighter this time. He would be convinced that I was teasing him, that a harder slap would come any minute, but the rigidity was easing out of his back, and I don’t think he noticed that the caresses were longer lasting each time, the slaps further apart and lighter. He was probably still thinking that I was about to roll him over and demand my own pleasure when he fell asleep.
It amuses me: Nick is always very careful not simply to turn over and go to sleep; it’s a real effort for him after any sort of CP play. The minute I let him go, his body shuts down all external services; he sleeps like he’s been drugged. The exception is when I’ve done him a white noise session: after one of those he’s sharp and alert. I unfastened his wrists, tucked him comfortably under the covers, and went to clear up.
Now look, I’ve got a reputation to protect; if you’re going to the clubs, you needn’t mention what I was doing. Some of the players in the clubs, and in particular some of the lifestylers, are convinced that there’s only one way for a Top to deal with a Bottom, and topping him so that he doesn’t notice he’s been topped isn’t it. Topping with gentleness? Sneaky topping? They’ll take my licence away. Approach it logically, though: I’m Top and he’s Bottom, and so he does what I want. What did I want? I wanted him to eat, and then to go to bed and sleep. He did; he did both because I made it happen; he did them on my terms. He didn’t know that was what I was doing; well, so what? I don’t have to tell him everything.
And so he hadn't had the big evening of play that he had been expecting. Well, I would see that he wouldn’t lose by that either. He had learned that he could be collared without the physical presence of the collar; I would reinforce that over the weekend. I had two more days to work with and by Sunday afternoon I would be able to tell him ‘you’re collared now’ and take him out, as surely submissive as if he had handcuffs and a blindfold. He’s good, I’m telling you. He’s a natural. I would give him two days of play, with all the toys he likes, and enough of the ones he doesn’t like that he would like that too. (We need different verbs for this, you know.) He likes the leather paddle; he likes the strap. He’s not keen on the wooden paddle and I use it sparingly; the cane he wants for his head clearing sessions, when he wants it used hard and repeatedly, but when we play, he only wants two or three, lightly at the end. He likes to know that I know which ones he likes and which ones he doesn’t, and that I’ll use them all whether he likes them or not. I would give him a weekend of play which would leave him careful when he sat down on Monday, and he would be relaxed, and if I had anything to do with it, well fed. I was going to book a holiday for us, too. Hansie was right; I did have some responsibilities, and Nick needed a proper break.
There are more ways to kill a cat than drowning it in cream, as they say; still, if you’ve got the cream, it makes for a happy cat. Next time we played this way, though, it wouldn’t be me who cleaned the bath afterwards.
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© , 2005