The master, p.12
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       The Master, p.12

         Part #8 of Submissive series by Tara Sue Me
 

  “I can do lunch.”

  “I know just the place.” He raised an eyebrow. “Ice cream for dessert?”

  “Sounds divine.”

  The drive to the restaurant took just under fifteen minutes. She enjoyed the peaceful-looking scenery, but wondered if Cole wouldn’t feel more comfortable in an urban setting. He just seemed like someone who would do better with the heartbeat of a city nearby.

  “Here we are,” he said, pulling into a long driveway on a property that looked more residential than commercial.

  “Friends of yours?” she asked.

  “No, I’ve actually never been here. Daniel told me about it.”

  Looking through the tree limbs, she saw a two-story building with a wraparound porch. “A bed and breakfast!”

  “I take it you have no objections?”

  “No, it’s perfect.” She loved little out-of-the-way places. Few went to the obscure sites, but those who did often returned time and again.

  “They make their own ice cream, too.”

  “I like it even more.”

  He parked the car and walked around to open her door. The inn’s gardens were beautiful, and she pointed out several of her favorite flowers.

  “I’ll have to get your input on flowers when I move into my new place,” he said.

  Just thinking about helping him with his landscaping made her excited. She pictured the grounds of the house they’d looked at today and the changes she’d make. “I’m not a landscaper, Sir.”

  “Maybe not, but I saw the excitement in your eyes when I brought it up just now.”

  “You Dominants don’t miss anything,” she huffed.

  “If we’re good, we don’t.” They’d made their way to the hostess. “Two for lunch, please.”

  After they sat down at a table overlooking the gardens, he passed her a menu. “I’d be honored for you to design my new garden.”

  She watched his eyes carefully, but found no hint of untruth. Of course, she’d already been around him enough to know he didn’t lie. So why did she doubt him when it came to her occupation?

  “Thank you, Sir.” She spoke around the lump in her throat. “Does that mean you’re going to make an offer on the house we saw today?”

  “I think I will. It had everything I was looking for.” He shot her a sexy-as-hell smile. “And those countertops? Perfection.”

  “Lot of room, for someone single.” She bit her lip as soon as the words left her mouth, not believing she said them out loud.

  He didn’t seem fazed by her outburst. “Probably, but I do like having a lot of space. And it’ll be a good spot for play parties. Not only are there plenty of rooms, but you don’t have to worry about shocking the neighbors with your party outfits.”

  She cocked an eyebrow. “I know you aren’t buying a house simply because it’d be handy for parties.”

  “Of course not. I want to bend someone over that island and fuck her senseless.”

  He said it in all sincerity, though there was still a hint of a smile on his lips.

  “You’re serious,” she finally said.

  “I usually am.”

  She started to read her menu, but he stopped her. “Eyes on me, Sasha.”

  She put the menu down and looked up.

  “Tell me what you’d wear to the party at my house, little one. And don’t take your eyes off of mine to see if anyone’s listening. That’s my job.”

  Damn, he knew her well. She took a deep breath and forced her eyes to remain on his. “I’d wear whatever my Master wanted me to wear.”

  “I punish submissives for evasive answers. I asked you the question because I want to know. What would you wear to my play party?”

  There was a fantasy she had. It wasn’t like her and she didn’t think she’d ever do it in real life—but if she ever did act it out, it’d be at Cole’s play party.

  “I’ve never done this,” she said, “but I’ve always imagined getting dressed up in black lace lingerie. A bra that gives me cleavage, a thong because when it’s worn just right it keeps you aroused, and garters with sheer stockings just because I’d feel sexy as hell.”

  He very nearly growled. “If you dressed like that, I’d send everyone home except you.”

  She licked her bottom lip, pleased at the way his eyes followed the path of her tongue. Suddenly, she felt bold. “What would we do all alone in your house, Sir?”

  “To start with, I’d give you a tour of the kitchen.”

  “Oh?” Her pussy throbbed with need.

  “Specifically, the island.”

  “Would I need to look at it really closely?”

  “If I did my job properly, your eyes wouldn’t be able to focus on much of anything.” He cleared his throat and picked up his menu. “Waitress.”

  Like she could focus on anything now. But she picked up the menu and tried her best. She ended up going with a chicken salad. To leave room for ice cream, she explained to Cole.

  When the waitress left, Sasha knew she had to change the subject away from Cole and his kitchen island. Besides, she knew so little about his past and this was the perfect opportunity.

  “When did you know you wanted to be a journalist?” she asked.

  He took a sip of water, keeping his gaze on her while he drank. “I knew when I was eleven.”

  “Eleven? That young?”

  “I discovered it early. Or maybe better stated, it found me.” He leaned back and settled into the seat. “My parents didn’t have much of a marriage. They only got married in the first place because it was expected of them.”

  “An arranged marriage?” Did people still do that?

  “Very similar, yes. And by the time I was five, my father decided he’d had enough and ran off with his latest mistress. To get back at him, my mother decided to marry her latest boyfriend. Poor decision on her part. The boyfriend was an arse, and my father didn’t care one way or the other. To make it worse, he had a son my age who was an even bigger arse, and a bully, too.”

  “I find it hard to believe anyone would bully you, Sir.”

  He snorted. “I’ve changed just a little.”

  “Sorry to interrupt. Go on.”

  “At first it was little things he’d blame on me: frogs in the pantry, salt in the sugar bowl. Everyone believed him because he was a bloody brilliant student and practically perfect.” He shook his head. “Then one day my mum’s jewelry went missing.”

  “Uh-oh.”

  “Exactly. And this was no normal jewelry. It was jewelry given to my family in the late fifteenth century. It was almost lost when one of my ancestors pissed off Henry the Eighth—”

  “Wait a minute. The Henry the Eighth?”

  He laughed softly. “There’s only one, right?”

  “Wow.”

  “Don’t be too impressed. We lost our title as a result of that, but some quick thinker hid the jewelry. So we held on to it.”

  “At least until Asshole Kid showed up.”

  “Right, and I decided it was time the world knew his true colors. I did some investigative reporting. Talked to the household help, the neighbors, everyone. A week later I presented my report to my mother.”

  “Pretty inventive for an eleven-year-old. What happened?”

  “He denied it, of course, but the jewelry showed up the next morning.” He looked past her to something behind her. “Mum knew the truth, though. And I fell in love with writing.”

  The waitress delivered their entrees, and they didn’t speak until she left.

  “Ever think about writing a novel?” Sasha asked, cutting her salad.

  “Of course, but why would I want to make stuff up when real life is so interesting?”

  “Real life doesn’t always have a happy ending.”

  His smile was gentle. “And you’re a happily ever after kind of girl?”

  “I have to believe it’s out there somewhere.”

  “I’ve seen a lot of shit in this world. The truth is, happily ever
afters aren’t the norm.”

  “That’s just sad.”

  “It’s realistic.”

  “I’m holding out for the fantasy,” she said.

  “I wish I had your faith, but I realized the truth a long time ago.”

  “What’s that?”

  “I’m not anyone’s happily ever after.”

  • • •

  Cole was thankful she didn’t push him on his statement or try to change his mind. After all, Kate, who had been with him for years, left. He knew he wasn’t in a place to be what Sasha needed. Across the table, her face was expressionless as she focused on her salad. For a while they were silent, both trying to enjoy the delicious food. When they started talking again, it was about his recent work in India.

  After finishing their entrees, they both agreed they were too full at the moment for ice cream. Sasha suggested walking in the gardens, and he agreed. There had been a certain spark in her eyes earlier when she spoke of the flowers and he wanted to see it again. Though she hadn’t seemed as despondent lately, the times she looked truly alive were still fewer than he liked.

  She was animated while they walked. She knew just about every flower, plant, and tree they came upon and seemed thrilled to talk about them. He wished his family still owned his childhood home. There had been a maze in the gardens and Sasha would have loved it.

  “Have you always enjoyed flowers and gardening?” he asked. He pointed to a stone bench off to the side of the path. “Want to sit?”

  She nodded and sat down beside him. “Julie and I were college roommates. She always talked about opening a shop and eventually sucked me into the business.”

  “You didn’t have anything you wanted to do? No big dream?”

  She shook her head. “I always sort of just floated from thing to thing. Never really had a big ‘when I grow up’ vision.”

  “Are you happy with what you do?”

  “Oh, sure. It’s fifty percent my business. Besides, Julie and I balance each other out. She’s more business and numbers, and I’m more personal relations.”

  “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

  She tilted her head and raised an eyebrow. “Is this a job interview for a position I didn’t know I applied for? Next, are you going to ask me if I prefer to work alone or on a team?”

  He couldn’t help but smile at her sass. “No, I was going to save that for if you made it to the second round.”

  She laughed softly, a musically feminine sound.

  “I like it when you laugh, Sasha,” he said.

  She smiled and dipped her head. Suddenly, he was acutely aware of how close her body was to him. How easy it would be to gently lift her chin and lower his lips to hers.

  “I suppose I haven’t had a lot to laugh about the last few months,” she said, and her matter-of-factness pained him.

  “I’m glad our outing provided you the outlet you needed,” he said.

  “Me, too,” she whispered. “Thank you for that.”

  The air between them hummed, and he knew if he didn’t do something or change the subject, he’d wind up doing something he’d regret.

  He cleared his throat and the spell was broken. “Ready for ice cream?”

  She opened her mouth to speak, closed it, and looked pensive for several seconds before saying, “Yes, that would be great.”

  They stood and walked to the creamery portion of the property. The walk was quiet, but not uncomfortably so. Cole had always thought it to be more telling of how well you got along with someone when you could enjoy the silence together. Too many times he found himself trying to fill the silence with words when he was around someone he didn’t particularly get along with.

  Sasha walked beside him, her hands clasped behind her back. The position thrust her chest out slightly and he wondered if she did it on purpose.

  An old yellow Lab slowly made his way toward them as they approached the creamery. He stopped in the middle of the path, midway to them, and waited.

  Sasha’s step quickened. “Oh, look. He’s so pretty.”

  She stopped in front of him and held out her hand, offering it for the Lab to sniff. When the dog licked her instead, she laughed and rubbed his head. “What a sweetie.”

  Cole watched from the side, and the sight of her made his heart ache. He knew he was catching a rare glimpse of the happy and lighthearted Sasha who existed before Peter. Her interactions with the dog were natural and easy, almost as if she was a different person. Her smile came effortlessly and her laugh was genuine. It was only when she felt his eyes on her that she stood and brushed off her hands.

  “Think we can fit him in your car?” she asked.

  “I think he’d be missed.”

  She gave the Lab a scratch behind the ears. “Probably.”

  They resumed walking the short distance to the creamery shop. A handful of people milled around outside. They drew to a stop in front of the counter.

  “Everything looks so good.” Sasha studied the glass case and turned to look at him when he didn’t follow suit. “Aren’t you going to see what they have?”

  “No, I know what I want.”

  After they ordered and got their cones, they sat at a worn picnic table.

  “Why are you looking at me like that?” he asked her.

  “You got vanilla.”

  “And?”

  “It’s just vanilla. It’s plain.” She wrinkled her nose.

  “It’s not plain, it’s simple. And it’s so simple, it’s extraordinarily complex.”

  “I don’t get it.”

  “Close your eyes and clear your mind.” He waited until they were closed and then he held his cone up to her lips. “Taste it like it’s your first time.”

  Her tongue darted out and licked the ice cream. He tried not to think about where he’d really like her tongue.

  “Mmm.” She licked her lips. “Yum.”

  “See?” he asked, pleased that she grasped the lesson so quickly.

  She opened her eyes and gave him a mischievous smile. “Yes, and I can only imagine how delicious my mint chocolate chip is going to taste when I apply the same thing to it.”

  “I should have guessed you’d say that.”

  She licked her own cone. “Yes, you really should have.”

  They finished the ice cream, making small talk and discussing details of the house they saw earlier. At one point, the yellow Lab wandered over and sat at Sasha’s feet. She reached an idle hand down and scratched his head.

  During a lull in the conversation, he leaned forward and lowered his voice. “There’s a play party next weekend.”

  She froze and he could see her process his words and their meaning before she relaxed. “Yes.”

  “Good job, Sasha. You did what I told you to do earlier, didn’t you?” She’d remembered he wouldn’t touch her without telling her where and how.

  “Yes, Sir.”

  He nodded. “A fast learner. I like that. I would like for you to attend the party with me.”

 
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