The Spice Route

Well, I won’t say I’d never heard of it. Isn’t the internet wonderful? And it turned up even before that, in the magazines and books which I would buy when I was away on courses or on secondment to other forces, and not likely to be recognised buying extreme top shelf stuff, none of which I ever took home. I knew Kate wasn’t interested in anything like that, and my marriage, my relationship with Kate was more important than my kinky little longings.

And now my relationship with Fran is more important than my kinky little longings, but I get my kinky little longings as well. I don’t always understand what the hell is happening, but I’m happy to go along for the ride. And then some.

Anyway, like I say, I’d heard of it as a practice but not one that spoke to me as something I wanted to do. O.K., maybe it’s prejudice on my part; I don’t honestly think so though. I don’t particularly – well, all right, maybe my gut feeling about anal sex is that it’s something a straight man simply doesn’t do, but if I actually think about it, I know that’s wrong. Even apart from anything I’ve seen and heard in Vice (and we’ve confiscated magazines which would make your hair curl, believe me), I’ve seen the late night TV stuff. I’ve heard of the bend-over boyfriends. It isn’t something a straight man doesn’t do, not necessarily; it is something a straight man doesn’t generally admit to doing. Which is different.

It’s something I don’t do. I’ve never wanted to, not even in my most depraved fantasies. Actually, I don’t think my fantasies were particularly depraved: by the standards of some of the things I’ve done since I met Fran, they were peculiarly innocent, but that? No thanks. I’ll bring a note from home if you want: ‘Please may Dominic be excused from sticking anything up his arse. . .’ Right at the beginning when Fran and I were waltzing round who did and didn’t do what, we both established that neither of us was interested in that one, neither doing nor done, so to speak.

And that was fine until the night in Mortimer’s.

Jack, his name is, and he belongs to Mistress Gráinne (I think that’s how you spell it). She’s a harsher than average Top and he seems to be a nice bloke. A bit inclined to show his teeth at me until he saw that Fran and I are a couple and don’t play away; not all the couples are exclusive and he isn’t a sharer by nature, I reckon. After that, he was pleasant enough, and I learned a lot by watching him. I wasn’t keen to ask him anything though; I’m developing a lovely poker face, but, well, my failing at the club is that I hate to let anybody think that Fran’s Sub doesn’t know what he’s about, so I’m not good about asking other people about any practice which is new to me. I’d rather bluff it out and ask Fran on the way home, or a couple of times I’ve asked Hansie. He keeps telling me that if it’s club stuff I should ask Tim, but I don’t quite like to do that. I don’t know him well enough. Jack came over to Fran, and stood waiting politely until she noticed him, and lifted an eyebrow.

“I have a message from Master Carlyon, Miss Frances. Mistress Gráinne and Madam Elaine are setting up a competition, and Master Carlyon would appreciate it if you could referee it for them. He’s occupied himself.’

Well, that’s happened before. House rules – no competitions without the approval of the owner, and if he thinks it’s likely to get out of hand, he’ll oversee it himself or get one of the experienced Tops (or once or twice, one of the experienced Bottoms, which was less problematic than I would have expected) to take charge. Some of the contests are quite fun to watch.

“Where are they?” asked Fran, standing up.

“Room 1, ma’am.” There are a couple of rooms out of the main line of play. This one had Jack’s mistress, and another couple I recognised: the small red-haired woman and the man dressed as a schoolgirl. If you ask me, and nobody does so I don’t offer an opinion, he looks a complete tit, but there you are.

“Rules?” asked Fran crisply, as I placed a chair for her. I know what’s expected of me, just not of anybody else.

“Ginger,” said Elaine, gleefully, “and then a dozen, and see who begs first.”

Fran laughed, and held out her hand, and Gráinne produced a hand of ginger, a stonking great big thing, and a knife. I flinched a bit. Like I say, I’d heard of it, but I’d forgotten and the knife made me a bit twitchy, although I thought that Denis wouldn’t have asked for Fran if it had been bloodplay.

“All right. Gráinne, you make them both, and then Elaine chooses which one she wants for her Sub.”

She was half way through making the first one when it clicked in my head, and Fran, I think, must have heard my shocked intake of breath, because she glanced back over her shoulder to smile at me. I was in my proper place, standing behind her chair and a little to one side, and by the way, that’s something that’s never mentioned in the fiction. As well as taking home a sore arse, it’s not at all uncommon for me to go with my feet killing me because I’ve been standing all evening, although if Fran spots it, she’ll put me on my knees beside her. That’s not a great deal more comfortable, mind you, but it’s a change.

Well, Gráinne made two ginger plugs and Elaine chose one, and those two Subs hung onto their ankles while their Tops. . . you know, that was something I thought I would have preferred not to have seen. And then Elaine was reaching for her crop, but Fran said calmly, “Oh, don’t rush. Give them ten minutes for the effects to kick in before you start stage 2. We’ll have a drink. Dominic?” And I was sent to the bar to put a round of drinks on Fran’s tab, and while I was there, Denis Carlyon came up beside me and said, “Has Fran got everything under control?”

“Yes, Master Carlyon,” I said respectfully, and he asked, “Are you playing too?”

I was  tempted to lie: to say ‘yes’, or to imply ‘been there, done that’; I think he felt that, because he Looked at me, and I thought better of it. “I’ve never tried that, sir. My Mistress has never required it of me.”

“Pity,” he said thoughtfully. “I should think you would be rather good at it.” Then he smiled again. “Of course, you might like it too much.”

Um, no, I don’t think so. Like I say, I don’t take it up the arse. Not even vegetables. But I fetched and carried from the bar, and after ten minutes, Jack was very red in the face, and if you looked at Mike, he was shifting from foot to foot, although neither of them said anything. I was a bit surprised, I admit. I’ve seen them both about in the club, and they’re not inexperienced, obviously. Jack in particular I’ve seen go home with welts which will have lasted him for days. This time, though, there was plainly a deal more going on. Fran got them settled across the table from opposite sides, and then they each got twelve, very slowly – and Mike howled. Now he’s a bit noisy at the best of times, but he made a noise like a dog, and Jack squirmed all over the table and quite frankly, I wanted to know about that.

I don’t remember which of them was deemed to have won, or why, but I put that aside to think about later. Only it didn’t seem to want to be put – it hovered about in my head muttering at me at intervals, until I couldn’t stand it any longer and I asked Hansie. We get together in some pub every couple of weeks, entirely apart from the times we all meet up for meals or whatever, but this wasn’t something I wanted to discuss in a public place. I waited until Hansie came over to help me make a bookshelf for the back bedroom, and then I asked.

“Hansie? Have you ever. . . um, have you ever tried figging?”

He sat back on his heels – he had, as usual, started the evening badly by knocking over the box of screws so that we spent ten minutes picking them up and sorting them back into the right compartments – and stared at me. “I do not know anything by that name, I think.”

“Fresh ginger, peeled and up the, um. . .”

His eyes went wide, and then veiled. “Ach, that. I cannot say it did anything for me particularly, but I know it is popular. You are wanting to try?”

“No,” I denied, hastily. “Just I saw it done last week and I was a bit curious. But no, I don’t think that’s for me.”

I wondered, later. I was so busy denying it myself that I wasn’t really picking up on Hansie; nonetheless, there was something not quite true about the way he answered me. Maybe because this was a more overtly sexual act than the use of a cane or a strap? I’m not sure. And of course, I have no real right to ask him anything about his sex life at all, and I hope he knows – I hope Tim knows – that I won’t be offended if he tells me to mind my own business.

But I went on thinking about it and thinking about it, and in the end I asked Fran. Her eyebrows shot up. “You want to? Really?”

“Why would I not?” I asked defensively. “I mean, if Jack –”

She shook her head. “Nick, we’ve been here before. We do not do competitive BDSM. I’m not getting into ‘Jack and Gráinne can do this so we’re going to.’ If you really want to, I have no objection, although it’s not particularly one of my things. I’ve done it before, once or twice, I know how.” That was reassuring. I had some trouble early on convincing Fran that I wasn’t jealous about what she had done with other people before me. It never bothered me that she knew what she was doing – only that I didn’t. And – I don’t know if this is something I can explain very well, but because of that, because she could tell me what she had done before with other lovers, it meant that I could say to her about ordinary things, about decorating or going on holiday or whatever, ‘Kate and I used to do this and that, we went here or there.’ It’s comfortable, that side of things. I can’t pretend I wasn’t married to Kate, and we were happy together for quite a long time. I love Fran and I love the way my life is now, but it wasn’t bad the way it was before, and, well, comparing notes with some of the plods at work who are divorced and remarried or in new relationships, I’m not sure it’s always easy to mention the first wife without making the second one feel insecure.

Anyway, Fran said she would think about ginger and that was all well and good, until the next time we were in bed and she slid her fingers over my balls and kept going backwards. And I froze. She didn’t comment, she just went on to something else, and after a moment I relaxed again, and we were fine.

Until the next time. The next time, she did it again, and I froze again, and caught myself at it. This time I took a deep breath – which she noticed, her hand was perfectly still – and I let my breath out again, and said huskily, “Go on.”

She didn’t, though. She nipped the skin at the top of my thigh, and said, conversationally, “I’m not sure this is for you, you know.” And then she dragged her nails down towards my knee and I forgot what I had been about to say, and it didn’t matter anyway.

Later, though, I wondered. I was still thinking about Jack, about the way he had moved, about that tiny mewling sound he had made, and I wanted to know. So the next time the occasion allowed, I rolled over, and said, in a rather tighter voice than I quite liked, “Go on, Fran.”

And she went on. She explored. She was, I’ll give her that, incredibly gentle. She coaxed and teased and tickled, and eventually, she stopped, and rested her head on my shoulder, and said carefully, “Nick, this is honestly not going to work. You don’t really want to do it, you know you don’t.”

“I do! It’s just that I. . . I don’t quite know. . .”

“Nick, be reasonable. Your spine is locked solid, I can feel the muscles all the way up your legs, your neck is corded, your fists are clenched. . . Darling, every part of your body is stiff, except the bit which would be if you were enjoying this. Your head can say all it likes that you want to try it. Your body disagrees.”

“I just don’t quite know what to expect, that’s all.”

She snorted. “Come on, you know what I’m doing. Maybe you don’t know what it feels like but you know how it works. And you know, or you ought to know, that I may ask you to do things you didn’t know you could do, or variations you had never considered, but I’m not going to ask you to do anything that actually goes against your nature – and this does.”

“I just. . . I don’t know, maybe it’s because you’re asking me, rather than telling me? I think if you told me, ordered me. . .” She was shaking her head.

“Leave it, Nick. I’ll have a think about it, see if I can work out a better way, O.K.?”

Her notion of a better way was produced the next evening. “I’m going out, pet, it’s my tango club night, remember? And I’ve left some things on the bed, and I want you to go and experiment.” And with that and a kiss, she was gone, and I wandered upstairs to see what she had left for me.

Which was a bottle labelled Slick, and her vibrator. The little one. Thank God for small mercies, because the big one would have had me locking myself in the bathroom and refusing to come out; as it was, the bathroom, once I had thought of it, seemed like the best of the options. My mistress, I told myself firmly, had told me to experiment, and experiment I would.

I was back downstairs watching the football by the time she came home. She stopped in the doorway, obviously not quite certain how to approach the subject. I sighed and made room for her on the sofa, and when she came over to sit down, I twisted round to lie with my head in her lap.

“Isn’t it very exhausting, being Top? I mean, always having to be right?”

Her mouth quirked. “Was I right?”

“I can’t do it, Fran. Well, I did do it, and no, I don’t like it.”

“Um, how far did you. . .”

“Far enough to think: yes, that’s what all the fuss is about, that’s my prostate. And yes, that felt good, but not good enough to make up for the rest of it.”

She was slipping her fingers very gently through my hair. “Well, darling, I’m afraid that’s reality for you. I admit, I used to wonder, in the days when I did more porn pictures, about the texts. There would be some ultra-toppish man and some fluffy submissive girl, or else a ball-breaker of a woman who ‘needed to be broken’, and he would come up with something she had never done before and said she didn’t want to do now, and when he topped her into it, she always ended up screaming in ecstasy. I used to think that by the law of averages, sometimes she would say ‘no, I hated that’, or even ‘well, I suppose it’s all right if you like it, but it seems a lot of trouble and it doesn’t do much for me’.”

I closed my eyes. Some things are easier to say that way. “You don’t mind?”

“Excuse me? I thought we had established very early on that we didn’t do that?”

I tipped my head a little. “I know, but I mean, it’s, it’s one of the standard things, isn’t it?”

“So? Come on, Nick, we’ve been round this before. There are lots of options in the ways people play and you pick the ones which you fancy. You don’t have to do them all. We don’t do dressing up; Elaine and Mike do. They also do verbal abuse, and so do David and Carla – he refers to her as ‘slut’ or ‘bitch’ all the time. Denis Carlyon is a dab hand with candle wax, and that’s terribly traditional too, and the woman whose name I can’t remember, the rather overweight one, she likes clamps. Her men look like something from a scrapyard. Do we have to do all those things?”

I tipped my head back to let her get to the delicate places behind my ears. “When you put it like that. . . Am I being stupid?”

“Just a little, darling, just a little. It wouldn’t turn me on to give you a butt plug, so no, if you don’t want to, that makes two of us and we can turn the page and read about different types of strap instead. I confess, I don’t quite get what started you on the whole thing. Did Jack or Mike say something that made you feel you were missing out? Or,” and this came with a sharp look, “that all proper Subs could do it?”

“Not exactly that, no, only. . . Fran, that guy Mike is such a wanker.”

She was surprised. “Really? I don’t think I’ve ever spoken to him before the other night. What’s wrong with him?”

“He’s the great businessman, or so he would have us think. I mean, we talk, you know, when we’re at the bar or when our Tops aren’t demanding our attention; he’s always going on about this deal or that deal, about how brilliantly he’s doing. And yet when you actually deconstruct what he’s saying, he’s making money by squeezing the little guy. He’s proud of the fact that his staff hate him; he was boasting that one of his suppliers went bust last month and he got away without paying for whatever he had been buying. So that’s not just that somebody else has lost his livelihood, but his supplier won’t have been able to pay his own suppliers, and he doesn’t think that’s immoral. He’s always telling us that somebody hasn’t met his deadline, and that he can’t get competent advisors, but if he takes six months to pay his bills and moves the goalposts regularly, what does he expect?”

She ignored the detail and picked up what I was really saying.

“So you can’t do something and someone you despise can do it. Is that it?”

I supposed it was; well, damn it, I knew it was, but I didn’t answer her. She didn’t push it. Presently I went on: “It was more the way they looked. The effect rather than the act. I mean, Mike was incoherent half the time and yowling or squeaking the rest. Whatever that did to him, he was feeling it. Like. . . hell, I don’t know. I don’t want to do it, but I do; I want that ‘can’t think of anything else’ effect; I want. . . look, I always enjoy what we’re doing, you know that, but once in a while there’s something which just fills my head completely and absolutely all I can think about is what you’re doing. I’m right there, right now, and I’m doing this for you – with you – and. . . Fran, I can’t explain this. It’s a bit like the white noise effect, the way it fills my head, but it’s a terrific turn on, and the white noise isn’t about that, it’s different.”

She nodded, thoughtfully. “I thought early on that you could find your Subspace – no, I know that the way other people describe Subspace isn’t what you say you feel, but your personal zone, whatever it is – you could find it with any sensation sufficiently intense, not necessarily just pain. Yes, I need to think about that. Your instinct is good enough, Nick – something a bit different – but not that.”

“No,” I agreed, despondently, “not that. I’m afraid that’s a given: it isn’t just Nick who doesn’t take it up the arse; neither does Dominic.”

“Well, I don’t think it need bother you: neither does Fran. And round the clubs I would have said it’s as least as common for the women as the men. The Sub women do it because their Tops can do as they please and the Top women do it because their Subs aren’t being allowed anything better. Neither of those is true but it’s the form of words, if you like, and that’s before we get into the realms of Killer Dommes with strap-ons. Fran doesn’t do it and neither does Miss Frances. Do we care?”

And I must be getting somewhere because for once I didn’t say ‘I don’t care if you don’t,’ putting it all on her. I said, “We don’t care,” because I understood that we didn’t. Still, when Fran says she’ll think about something, that means she’ll think about it; it’s not just a form of words from someone too polite to say ‘no’.

I knew there was something going to happen when she took a bag into Mortimer’s with her. Normally, she’ll take a wallet in her pocket to allow her to go to the bar, and her strap rolled round her wrist or hung from her waistband, and then she leaves her coat in the cloakroom. She doesn’t like to have to carry something, but this time she had a small bag hung from a narrow strap on her wrist. I mentioned it, and got a Look, so I shut up. There was something – I don’t quite know what, but I was picking up something from Fran, something which was making my skin prickle, and my breath come a little short.

“I want to do something a bit different tonight.”

I’m always ready for something a bit different, and yes, I know, that sounds stupid in the light of what I said before, but it’s like Fran said: she won’t ask me, specially not in public, to do something against my nature, although she will ask me – she has asked me – to do things which have taken me right to the edge of what I think I can bear.

“Something which will leave you absolutely unable to think about anything except me. It’s going to push you, Dominic. You’re going to find it difficult. Can you do difficult?”

“You know I can.”

“Will you?”


“Come then.”

She took me to one of the big round tables; the club was much as usual, and Denis and his Sub, who I think is called Vanessa, and Maria and Suzanne, and Gráinne and Jack, were all there. She exchanged greetings with them, but she didn’t sit down, although Denis pushed a chair towards her.

“We’re playing tonight. We’re going to do this.” And she tipped the contents of the bag onto the table. I heard somebody gasp, and Denis said, in amused tones, “Can he take that, Fran? It’s been tried here before, and it wasn’t a success.”


“It’s ferociously strong. Brian tried it, and Janet managed about 90 seconds before she was yelling her safe word; a couple of American visitors who came with Becky tried it once, apparently under the impression that it was a standard formulation thing, just a brand they didn’t know, and the Sub screamed, kneed her husband in the balls and spent the rest of the evening in the Ladies in tears. Can Dominic stand it?”

“I think he could. We’ve never tried; in fact he doesn’t know what it is yet. Go on, Dominic, take a look.”

It was a cardboard pack; I opened it carefully, and shook out a tube, a tangle of surgical gloves and a set of pharmaceutical instructions. ‘Red Devil Rubbing Ointment. Provides penetrating relief from muscular pain and stiffness. Recommended for the symptomatic treatment of lumbago, sciatica and rheumatism. CAUTION: Do not apply to broken, inflamed, or delicate skin. Keep away from face, eyes, genitals. Apply only wearing the protective gloves included and wash hands thoroughly after applying. No responsibility can be taken for misuse of this product. Not suitable for children.’

“This isn’t just Deep Heat or any of the standard things we might keep in the bathroom cabinet, Dominic. This stuff is serious.”

I swallowed nervously. Look, I used to play football, so I know about the effects of these creams, specially if you get them somewhere they aren’t meant to go. Every sportsman has done his leg with Deep Heat and then not washed it off his hands before he’s gone for a pee. Once. It’s not a mistake you make more than once. And I reckoned I could count on a strapping either first or after she applied the cream, and that was going to be. . . effective.

“Are you ready?”

I wish she wouldn’t ask; I never am when she asks, although if she just said ‘do it’ I would be. I nodded, and she unrolled her strap.

“We’ll start with this, then.” 

I admit it, I was showing off a bit, although that was considerably harder than usual, and there was more of it than usual, too. A lot more. A whole lot more. I don’t think Fran had ever strapped me so comprehensively before, at home or in the club. I didn’t hold on, I didn’t let my hands clench, I kept absolutely still and relaxed, and I tried not to look smug when Maria said approvingly, “He does that so beautifully, Frances. There aren’t many of the male Subs as graceful as Dominic.”

“Keep still, Dominic.”

Somehow, I had been expecting the cream to smell of menthol: it was only later that I read the list of ingredients and discovered that the main one was capsaicin. Look it up. Fran knew; well, obviously she did, she’ll have looked up all the details before she did it. She turned the glove inside out and knotted the wrist before she dropped it on the table.

“Pull your trousers up, and kneel.”

It wasn’t an unpleasant feeling, to begin with. Hot; very hot. Icily hot. A trickle of sweat ran down between my shoulder blades. I knelt still, but I could feel my eyes widening in shock. Denis saw that, I think; Fran certainly did.

“Safe word and I’ll take it off, Dominic.”

“Can you?” asked Denis. Fran nodded.

“If you know how. The thing to find out is the active ingredient in these creams, and what it’s soluble in. Some of them are water soluble and you can wash them away; some of them need something oil based, or alcohol based, to get them off. Find the right formulation and then find” – she dived back into the bag – “the right type of baby wipes. I can get that off in ten seconds if we need to.”

Vanessa was watching me with her face screwed up; I suddenly realised I could hear myself panting. Fran took a baby wipe and ran it over her hand, and then reached forward to put her palm against my face. Her hand was cool and I leaned to it gratefully; I was conscious of an overwhelming surprise at the sensation building in my backside. And it was building: there was no sign of a peak, it just went on and on, getting hotter and hotter. My hands scrabbled at my thighs with the frantic urge to clutch; my weight was back on my heels and I began to squirm, desperately searching for a more comfortable position.

“Hands behind your head, Dominic.”

That was a momentary relief: with my hands behind my head I could pull at my own hair. It meant, though, that I had my head up. Fran doesn’t want me looking submissively at the floor when I‘m placed like that: it’s a display position, yes, but I’m not displaying submission to her, she tells me, I’m displaying my desirability to everyone else. She wants me to look proud.

Not a bloody hope. Well, I’m sorry, but the perspiration was rolling off me, and I was past panting and beginning to whimper.

“Please, ma’am. . .” She nodded permission to speak; and I caught the tiniest aborted movement of her hand towards the pack of wipes. I don’t think anyone else would have seen it.

“May I blow my nose?” I’ll take her word for it that a hot and bothered Sub is sexy but I’m prepared to bet that a snot-dripping Sub is not.

“Aw, bless,” murmured one of the women; Fran nodded permission, and I lifted my weight off my heels to get to my pocket, and yelped as the circulation returned to my backside. That got a laugh, and I would have blushed if I hadn’t already been scarlet; I blew my nose comprehensively, and wiped my eyes for all the good that did me, and settled back into position, chin up, shoulders back, tears still streaming down my face. Dear God, that stuff was lethal! I was squirming again, the way a good Sub doesn’t, but Fran was smiling at me.

“Dominic, I want you to sit absolutely still, and absolutely silent.”

“Oh, Frances, he can’t, you can’t make him!” That was Gráinne. Fran stared her down. “I won’t make him. He doesn’t do it because I force him; he’ll do it because I ask him to. Won’t you, Dominic?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“If you need your safe word, use it. Do I need to tell you that?”

“No, ma’am.” That was no more than a gasp. I snapped my mouth shut and locked my back – and sat still. I thought it would kill me. Fran raised her drink, but she never took her eyes off me, and presently she slid her shin against the inside of my thigh, just anchoring me. I bit my tongue hard; I was conscious of people behind me: I had attracted an audience, and I heard the whisper of ‘Red Devil’ go round, followed by variations, I thought, on ‘poor bastard’. Our corner of the club had gone very quiet. Fran finished her drink, and looked round with a leisurely smile.

“Any of you Tops want some Red Devil for your Subs?”

There was a muted murmur, but no takers. She returned her attention to me, speaking clearly enough to be heard three rows back.

“Shall I strap you again?”

I heard the gasps; my beleaguered backside screamed ‘No!’; and I looked at Fran and said hoarsely, “If it would please you, ma’am.”

She knelt down in front of me and cupped her hands around my face. “It would please me very much,” she whispered. “You please me very much. May I?”

And believe me, if I had hesitated, she wouldn’t have done it, even without me using my safe word. I know she wouldn’t. “Yes.”

She rocked back on her heels and rose gracefully, holding a hand down to me. I stood up much less gracefully, and staggered after her. She had to unfasten my trousers – I couldn’t do it – and I fell onto the table. No fancy open hands this time, I stretched across the wood, and fastened a vice grip on the edge. The strap bit, hard. Afterwards, it occurred to me that she had known exactly what she was doing – well, when does she not? – because if she had strapped me lightly, to sting, the effect would truly have been too much for me. Hard strokes hurt, but cancelled the burn of the cream; still, for the first time in that club, I yelled from start to finish. I didn’t move, though. Not until she ran a baby wipe across my backside, when I wriggled like a fish and fought down an absolute sob of pure reaction.

It was Denis who started the applause. I heard it, but I had my arms round Fran, my face in her neck, while I recovered myself. She had to coax my head up in the end, and then she brought me back to my place at her feet, although this time I was twisted sideways to keep my weight off my arse. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a woman look so smug; smugness was rolling off her in a cloud, but somehow it wasn’t aimed at me, it was for the other people in the club. Fran was feeling very, very superior, I could tell.

“Here, darling, drink this.” It was one of those rather nasty sports drinks, the isotonic stuff. I made a face. “I know, pet, but you’ll feel better for the glucose. Just glug it back and then if you like, we can go home.”

I nodded. Suddenly I was absolutely exhausted; rather to my surprise, I was also starving. “You’ll have to feed me or I won’t make it home. And God, Fran – I’m not going to be able to walk straight tomorrow!”

She took my hand. “You won’t have to. You can stay in bed all day if you like, and have me wait on you hand and foot, and rush to meet your every whim. I promise, tomorrow – and what’s left of tonight – I’ll do whatever you want. Anything.”

“Anything?” I asked, smiling at her. “Can we go now?”

Honestly, getting out was like a cross between a Royal Progression and a visit by a film star. All the Tops wanted to congratulate Fran; all the Subs wanted to pat me on the shoulder. We were barely out into the street before Fran pushed me against a wall (I yelped again) and kissed me savagely, her hands fisted in my shirtfront.

“You are bloody amazing! You’re fantastic! You’re fabulous! Did you see their faces? Did you see them? I swear, Nick, I’ve never had a Sub like you, never. There wasn’t another Sub in that club could have done what you did, not one of them, not even Denis’s girl. You are just so bloody good! Denis is right, that Red Devil stuff is horrendously strong, and there wasn’t a Sub there would have taken what you did. Not one! You are absolutely the best!”

Listen, for a man who suffers from BDSM performance anxiety the way I do, that was just the best speech ever. I kissed her back, hungrily. “Was that what you wanted? I mean, until you told me to keep still, I was all over the place.”

“And once I did tell you to keep still, you were magnificent. I’m telling you, there’s not a Sub in that place to touch you, not a single one. Cath and Sarah both want first refusal on you if I ever want to give you up.” She backed up enough to give me a Look. “I mentioned cold days in hell: I am not letting you go. You’ve got all the cards in your hand now, though; I’ll have to watch my step, because if you wanted to leave me you’ve got lots of options in that club alone, and some of them play in other clubs too – it’ll be all round the scene in days. I’m telling you, sweetheart, you’ll go down in the club annals. New Subs will be told they’ll never measure up to you.”

I snorted – actually, I was perilously close to emotional tears. “What happened to ‘we don’t do competitive BDSM?’”

“Bugger that. We don’t compete except where we know we’ll win. And oh God, did we win tonight. Us first and the rest nowhere.”

I frowned a little. “But surely. . . O.K., that was right up to the edge for me, but it was never going to do me any real harm, was it? I mean, it’s not like the heavy Subs who do the steel tipped whip or bloodplay or whatever?”

She linked her arm through mine and turned to walk down the street. “But Nick, that’s the point. It was right up to the edge for you and everybody could see that, and you did it anyway, you did it with never a hesitation, with no threats from me, just because I asked you to. That cost you more than some of the heavy Subs will ever pay – some of them can take so much damage that I wonder if it’s that medical condition, you know, where the pain receptors don’t work right. It doesn’t cost them anything in their heads to do it. No, darling, credit where credit’s due, that was all you. You were incredible – no, not incredible, because I do believe it, I do, I believe you can do it all.”

I stopped again, turned to her: I was beginning to believe her. “It was what you wanted?”

“It was everything I wanted and a tip for the waiter. Was it. . .” (her turn to hesitate). “Was it what you wanted?”

I let go of her arm to get my own round her waist. “Couldn’t you tell? Like white noise, only better. There was nobody there but you. And if I’m a real Sub now, you’re the best Top. I couldn’t have done that for anybody but you. I wouldn’t have done it.”

She twisted in to kiss me again. “I know. That’s the best bit.” She was suddenly serious. “Are you O.K. now? I think I got it all off, but I expect some of it will have rubbed off on the inside of your trousers. I brought you a change, in the boot of the car, in case it was too much.”

My Top,” I said smugly, “takes proper care of me. Actually, what’s left is quite pleasant, not really burning, just tingly. I’m O.K. in these trousers. And look, there’s a 24 hour petrol station over there, and it’s got one of those inedible-food-and-a-microwave bars. Couple of artery-blocking sausage rolls and a cup of coffee and I’ll be fit to go home and take you up on this ‘you’ll do anything’ offer.”

“Am I going to regret that offer?”

“I hope not,” I said fervently, as we crossed the road. “But if we’re both all gingered up, it would be a shame to waste it, don’t you think?”

Idris the Dragon

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© , 2006