Headmaster, p.13
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       Headmaster, p.13

         Part #2 of Lessons From the Rack series by Tara Sue Me
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  twisted car in the road. Which looked exactly like Marie’s car.

  He pulled off the road and stumbled out of his car. His hands trembled so badly he dropped his keys. Leaving them in the dirt, he nearly tripped in his haste to get to the car. “Marie!”

  A uniformed officer held him back. “Give them space to work, sir.”

  Lennox watched in horror as the first responders worked before him and his whole world collapsed when they moved out of the way and he caught a glimpse of the unresponsive driver.

  WINNIE’S JOURNAL

  Lennox has been training me for a few weeks now. He says I’m doing really well. I think I’m doing excellent seeing as how I’m not really a sub. Of course, I can’t tell him that. I’ll admit, some parts of it are really hot and as it turns out, Lennox likes to talk dirty. Who knew?

  Sometimes I think I’ll come just from hearing him talk. I can’t, though. He has this silly rule that I can’t have an orgasm without his permission. He has to grant me permission before I’m allowed to climax and the worst part is, he says it’s not just while we’re together in bed or wherever. I’m not allowed to climax anytime without his permission. Even alone in my bed at home.

  That’s beyond fucked up if you ask me. But sometimes, okay a lot of the time if I’m being honest, I think it’s worth it. I just wonder if I can keep this up long term?

  CHAPTER

  Eight

  Mariela was walking through the woods and it made her feel sick because she knew she was on the mainland and not the island. She turned around, trying to find a way out, but the trees were so thick and tall, they made everything look the same. Her chest grew tight and she felt a bit panicky because the light was fading and it would grow dark soon.

  She searched frantically for a path or anything that would lead her out of the woods and to the water. It was close, she felt it. Now all she had to do was find it. The first thing she had to do was calm down, she told herself, so she stopped, closed her eyes, and took several deep breaths.

  “You won’t find your way out with your eyes closed.”

  It sounded like . . . but it couldn’t be. Mariela spun around.

  “Surprise.” Winnie sat on a rock, her legs crossed and a big smile on her face.

  Mariela screamed.

  Winnie’s smile disappeared and in a flash too quick to see, she moved from the rock to stand directly in front of Mariela.

  “Stop it,” Winnie said. “Don’t do that.”

  Mariela nodded and forced herself to stop screaming, but it took several tries before she could get any words out. “You’re . . . here and now I’m here . . . am I . . . oh shit.” Everything grew fuzzy and she felt the earth tilt.

  Winnie slapped her. “Don’t pass out on me. And no, you’re not dead. You can say it, you know. I’m well aware of what I am.”

  “Why am I here?” Mariela wasn’t sure she believed her. After all, she’d always thought if you saw dead people, you were also dead. That’s the way it should work anyway.

  “I’m guessing you did something stupid and now you need advice.”

  “You’re going to give me advice?” Mariela laughed. “That’s funny. You were always the one asking me for advice.”

  “I know, right? Isn’t it funny how the universe works? It took dying for me to get smart.”

  Mariela sobered up. She was standing with her best friend, the woman who was like a sister to her. She’d never thought to see her again and suddenly her eyes prickled with tears. “It is you. I’ve missed you so much. Can I hug you?”

  “Better not. Now come over here and sit down. We’ve got a lot to go over and not much time. You have to find your way out before dark.”

  “What happens at dark?”

  “Don’t ask.”

  “I just did.”

  Winnie sighed. “I turn into a pumpkin, okay? Now sit.”

  Mariela sat on the rock Winnie had recently vacated.

  “First of all,” Winnie said. “You have got to cut Lennox some slack.”

  “What?”

  “He’s grieving. I’m hard to get over.”

  “I don’t mean any disrespect, but seriously? You’ve been gone for three years.”

  Winnie laughed. “You still have it, I see. He hasn’t killed your spirit yet. That’s good, because he’s a hardheaded one.”

  “What are you talking about?”

  “The way you tell it like it is. He needs someone like you, he just hasn’t accepted it yet.”

  Mariela knew she should feel uncomfortable talking to her dead best friend about her old lover. However, she figured it was completely ludicrous to be talking to her dead best friend anyway, so the topic of conversation really didn’t matter.

  “If you’re talking about Lennox,” Mariela said, “it’s never going to happen with us. I’ve tried. We don’t work.”

  “And here I thought you’d have a little bit more spunk.”

  “Pining after Lennox zapped the spunk right out of me.”

  “I’m sorry I took him away from you,” Winnie whispered. “I shouldn’t have gone after him. You were better suited for him. Still are.”

  “But he loved you. And you were right, he’s still grieving. I don’t think he’ll ever get over you.”

  “He’s not grieving me. He’s grieving who he thought I was.”

  “What do you mean?”

  Winnie looked at her in shock. “You don’t know? I can’t believe he hasn’t told you.”

  “Told me what?”

  “I should probably let him tell you, but I guess I can at least tell you my side.”

  None of this made any sense to Mariela. Not why she was dreaming about this—at least she thought it was a dream—not why Winnie was here. And especially not what she was talking about.

  “You were always the submissive. Remember that night we met Lennox? You knew who and what he was, but you’d never talked with him. I, on the other hand, took one look at him and I said, “He’s mine,” and I didn’t care that you wanted him, too, or that you could actually offer what he needed. I was young and so damn sure of myself. I thought I could make myself a submissive.”

  Mariela found it hard to breathe. Winnie wasn’t submissive? What?

  “Lennox knew right away that I didn’t know what I was doing, but I begged him to train me and I eventually wore him down.”

  “I had no idea.”

  “Of course you didn’t. Did you think I was going to confess to you that I was only pretending to be kinky so I could have Lennox? I’m not proud of the way I treated him. I was awful. Especially toward the end. And especially on . . . that day.”

  Things started to fall into place for Mariela. All the things he’d said or done suddenly took on new meaning. Why he didn’t want to scene. Why he pushed her away. Why he carried the guilt of Winnie’s death.

  “That’s why he opened the academy,” Mariela said with a gasp. “That’s what he meant when he said it was his penitence.”

  “Yes, and he’s done a fantastic job with it, but it’s time for him to move on. And he should do it with you.”

  “By move on, you mean leave the academy?”

  “Whatever it takes. I’ll leave that up to you.”

  Mariela snorted. “Right, because he’s going to listen to anything I say. I’m the very last person he’ll listen to. He’s not the man he was.”

  “You’ll be surprised. He values you and your opinion more than he lets on. And who he is hasn’t changed, he’s still the same, just with a new perspective on things.”

  Mariela decided it wouldn’t be polite to tell Winnie she was batshit crazy. In fact, the only thing that was more ludicrous was the possibility of Lennox leaving the academy.

  “He needs to put the past away and you’re the only one who can help, because you know what he’s gone through. If that means he needs to work somewhere else, help him find something. He’s too good of a man to wither away into nothing and he’s too much of a Dominant to live
without a strong submissive.” She stood up. “Be kind to him, Marie, and you two will have the life you both deserve. I love you both and always will.”

  Mariela hopped down. “Wait! That’s it? Where are you going?”

  “It’s almost dark, you have to go. We can’t have you see me turn into a pumpkin, now can we?” She made a scoot motion with her hands. “Go on now.”

  Mariela looked around. “But I still don’t know where the water is.”

  “Listen to your heart, it won’t steer you wrong.” She smiled. “And listen to that Andie woman, she’s pretty smart, too. I would have liked to have spent time with her.”

  Mariela knew she wouldn’t see Winnie again and suddenly her heart ached like when she’d lost her the first time. “I’ll miss you.”

  “I know, sweetie. Like I said, I’m a hard woman to get over.”

  Mariela laughed and flipped her the bird.

  Winnie blew her a kiss. “Go take care of your man.”

  • • •

  SHE HURT EVERYWHERE.

  Mariela refused to open her eyes. If she kept them closed, maybe she’d find her way back into the forest. It had been cool there and peaceful. But most of all, nothing had hurt.

  “I think she’s waking up,” a voice she didn’t recognize said.

  A warm hand touched her forehead. “Marie?”

  Lennox. What was he doing? Hadn’t she left him at the cottage?

  “Are you awake?”

  “No,” she tried to say, but it came out as a moan.

  “Don’t try to talk,” Lennox said.

  But why? If she didn’t talk, how would she know where she was? Or why everything hurt so fucking much? And what Lennox was doing here?

  She opened her eyes just enough to make him out. He looked horrible, but he tried to smile when he saw her open her eyes.

  “You scared me,” he said.

  She licked her lips. “Hurts,” she managed to get out. “Why?”

  His smile disappeared. “You’re in the hospital. You were in a car accident. Do you remember?”

  She tried to think back, but she could only remember the forest. “Winnie.”

  A look of shock mixed with grief crossed his face. “Like Winnie, but you’re here.”

  She shook her head. He didn’t understand. “I saw her.”

  His mouth opened but nothing came out. Her eyelids were growing heavy, and she didn’t have the strength to keep them open.

  “Stay,” she mumbled before the darkness swept her away.

  • • •

  THE NEXT TIME she woke up, someone was holding her hand. She took a quick assessment of her body. She still hurt, but the pain was localized to her legs now. Her mind seemed clearer and though she could remember Winnie and the forest, they both seemed further away than before.

  She opened her eyes and discovered it was Lennox holding her hand. His head was down.

  “Hey,” she said to get his attention.

  He jerked his head up and her heart caught in her throat because his eyes were red, like he’d been crying.

  “You’re awake,” he said with a weak smile that did nothing to erase the sadness in his eyes.

  “Yes,” she said. “Why were you crying?” She was in a hospital, was something wrong with her? “Tell me.”

  “It’s nothing,” he said, confirming her fear. Something was wrong with her.

  “Liar. Tell me.” She struggled to sit up, but found she couldn’t because her right leg was too heavy. Why would her leg be heavy? She looked down, but her legs were covered. “Is it my leg? Is that why it hurts so much?”

  “Marie,” he said. “Calm down.”

  She saw it in his eyes. Something was wrong. “Lennox, please.”

  He took a deep breath and looked toward the door as if hoping someone would come in and rescue him. No one came, and when he turned back to her, there was no emotion in his expression.

  “You broke your leg,” he said. “In the car accident.”

  A broken leg? Well, that wasn’t the end of the world, unless there was more he wasn’t telling her.

  “I had a broken leg before,” she said. “It’s a pain, but not a big deal.”

  He shook his head. “Perhaps break isn’t the right word. Your right leg was crushed. You were in surgery for hours.”

  She blinked, shocked by his words. “But I’ll be okay, right?”

  He didn’t say anything.

  “Lennox?” She couldn’t keep the panic from her voice.

  “The doctors said you should be able to walk after therapy. You’ll probably always have a limp. . . .”

  She couldn’t catch her breath. She should be able to walk? Did that mean there was a chance she wouldn’t walk again?

  “Dance.” It was only one word, but at this point, it was all she had.

  Lennox took her hand.

  Oh my god.

  “In time, Marie,” he said, looking her in the eyes. “But I know you and I know you can do it. You can push through this and I bet you’ll be twirling around us before you know it.”

  She couldn’t speak. What would she do if she couldn’t dance? Dance was her entire life and without it, she was nothing.

  “I’m sorry,” he said.

  As she watched, he dropped his head again and stroked her hand. She knew exactly what he was doing and she could hit him.

  “Don’t you dare blame yourself,” she said.

  “Why shouldn’t I?” he asked. “It’s my fault you left the cottage all upset. If I hadn’t said those things I did, you never would have gotten in the car angry and the accident wouldn’t have happened.”

  “Do you ever get tired, Lennox?” she asked.

  He cocked an eyebrow. “Tired of what?”

  “Being responsible for every damn thing that happens in the universe.” He started to say something, but she spoke before he could. “Don’t even try to deny it. To listen to you, it’s your fault Winnie died and your fault I got into a car accident.”

  “Isn’t it?”

  “No, it’s not.” She sighed. “Believe it or not, you could not have stopped me from getting in that car. I doubt you could have stopped Winnie either. And you sure as hell can’t take responsibility for my car accident or the telephone pole Winnie wrapped her car around.”

  She hadn’t convinced him of anything. The weight he’d carried after Winnie’s death was back, and from the looks of it, he’d doubled that weight. Because of her. He now blamed himself for her accident and whatever lasting effects it will have on her.

  “You were never meant to carry that much guilt, Lennox. At least let me carry my share. I shouldn’t have gotten into the car in the mood I was in. But I was hell-bent on getting out of that cottage and nothing short of a war would have stopped me. Certainly not you.”

  “Then we shouldn’t have argued.”

  Was he fucking serious? That was the most asinine statement
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