The collar, p.2
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       The Collar, p.2

         Part #6 of Submissive series by Tara Sue Me
 

  “I don’t know. Probably. I’m at his house eighty percent of the time anyway.”

  “Do I hear a ‘but’ in there somewhere?” Abby asked.

  Julie’s gaze drifted to where the men were talking. “It’s just a big step, you know? Selling my house. And I’ve never lived with anyone before.” Her hand drifted to her throat. Traced her collar. “But then I think how much I’d like being with him all the time … I know you don’t like talking about your past, but with Jeff? Did you?”

  Dena suppressed her sigh. So much for changing the subject. “I didn’t live with him at first, but I eventually moved in with him. I’d already moved out before he took his collar back, though.”

  Julie’s eyes danced with numerous questions. Friend that she was, she didn’t voice them.

  “That’s all I’m saying about it, other than no, I never once regretted moving in together.” She did regret moving out. Maybe if she had stayed, they’d still be together.

  Julie nodded. “The commute to the shop would be longer.”

  “That’s something to take into consideration.”

  “But I don’t think it’ll really matter all that much. Not when compared to all the positives.”

  Dena didn’t tell her that she’d walk to work, uphill both ways, if it meant she could wear Jeff’s collar again and live in his cabin once more.

  You just need to get over him, she told herself. It’s never going to be the way it was.

  Dena forced her gaze away from Jeff. “You’ll make the right decision. For you and Daniel both.”

  “Sorry, girls,” Abby said, interrupting. “Master just signaled that he’s ready to leave. I’ll see you both tomorrow.”

  Dena and Julie said their good-byes and then watched as Abby joined Nathaniel. The tall, dark Dominant watched his wife with a look of masculine appreciation laced with red-blooded lust.

  “I really like her,” Julie said. Across the room, Nathaniel whispered something in Abby’s ear and then ran his hand down her back. “But Nathaniel seems so intense. He’s harder to read.”

  “Jeff’s intense. Intense can be good.”

  Julie didn’t look convinced.

  “You’ll see what I mean at their demo tomorrow night,” Dena said.

  “We’re also doing a demo at the party tomorrow.” There was a combination of excitement and nerves in Julie’s voice.

  “I remember. How do you feel about it?” It would be her first time playing in public. Dena made a mental note to call her before the party so she could walk her through any last-minute jitters.

  “I’m looking forward to it, but at the same time, I’m not quite ready for it to be tomorrow yet.”

  Dena laughed. “I understand completely.”

  “More than anything, I’m excited about showing Master—”

  “Showing me what?” the man in question asked, coming up behind Julie and wrapping his arms around her.

  Daniel was almost the polar opposite of Jeff. Not just physically, although Jeff had dark hair and eyes compared to Daniel’s dirty-blond hair and blue eyes. The men’s personalities differed, too. Yet even with Daniel’s easy-going and friendly ways, Dena had always been drawn to the more introverted Jeff.

  “We’re talking about tomorrow night,” Dena said, looking over Daniel’s shoulder to see if she could find Jeff. He didn’t appear to be in the room anymore.

  “He just left,” Daniel said.

  “Oh, I wasn’t …” she started, but then stopped at Daniel’s expression and rolled her eyes. “All right, I was looking for him.”

  He gave a self-satisfied nod before dipping his head and whispering into Julie’s ear. Julie whispered back, lifting an arm to wrap around his neck.

  “Okay, you two,” Dena said. “That’s it. I have to leave. You guys are so sweet my teeth hurt.”

  And she was hoping, more than just a tiny bit, that she would run into Jeff in the parking lot. She walked quickly, but not so fast that it would be obvious she was rushing, down the hallway and out the community center’s main door to the parking lot. Just in time to watch the taillights of Jeff’s truck pulling out.

  “You wouldn’t have done or said anything anyway,” she said out loud in the darkness. What was left to say?

  She replayed the evening in her head as she drove to her apartment. In her mind she tried to see if Julie had been right about Jeff watching her most of the evening. She’d felt the heavy weight of his stare numerous times, but she’d acted as if she didn’t.

  A foolish game, she realized. They weren’t in grade school. The next time he stared at her, she’d call him on it and insist on knowing what his problem was. She smiled at her decision. She’d done it in the past. He really should know better.

  He’d be at the party the following night, but acting as dungeon monitor. Since it’d be his responsibility to ensure order and safety, he really wouldn’t be free to pay her any attention. It would be the same as always, each of them pretending there was nothing between them. No past, no present, and sure as hell no future.

  The thought made her feel empty inside.

  She parked her car and made her way to her apartment, the empty feeling growing with each step. She was in her thirties, unmarried, lived alone, and didn’t even date seriously. Sure, she loved her job, but she knew that wasn’t enough to keep her satisfied in the long term. And though reminiscing about the past served no purpose, she imagined briefly what life could have been like if she’d made different choices.

  “Waste of time,” she muttered to herself. “Does no good living backward.”

  She unlocked her door and bent down to pick up the delivery menu some food joint had shoved under her door. Maybe it’d be something new. She was always on the lookout for new take-out places.

  But instead of a menu, it was a handwritten note, and she felt faint when she read the words printed with red ink.

  Better watch out, bitch.

  Her body shook, but she composed herself enough to close and dead bolt the door. She glanced around her apartment. The lamp in the living room gave off enough light for her to see that nothing looked out of place.

  Her cat, Bentley, was curled up on the couch. He stretched, then hopped down to welcome her home by weaving in between her legs. The apartment was secure. No one could have gotten in, but she picked Bentley up and checked all the rooms anyway.

  When she finished her perusal, she went back to the note. Her first thought was to call the police, but she quickly decided that was not the best thing to do. With her father being who he was, word would get out, and before she knew it, she’d have around-the-clock security. While that could be a good thing, she’d worked too hard to get out from under her father’s scrutiny to throw away her freedom.

  She sank down onto the couch. She had to do something, though. Things were starting to escalate. At first there were the phone calls she didn’t think much about. They could easily be written off as crank calls. But then they started happening in the middle of the night, and she knew it was more than a wrong number.

  When she answered, no one ever spoke on the line. Whoever was calling simply breathed into the receiver. Now, unless it was a number she recognized, she let it go to voice mail. But that was akin to ignoring the problem in the hopes it’d go away. And problems never went away on their own.

  She couldn’t prove the person who’d been calling her was the same person who left the note, but nothing else made sense. Harassing by phone she could sweep to the side. A note slid under her door, she could not. The note could be from anyone: a criminal she put away, an enemy of her father’s, or simply an attention seeker who wanted fifteen minutes of fame. There were too many variables, and the only thing she knew for sure was she couldn’t ignore it. Whoever it was knew where she lived, and while she was reluctant to go to the authorities, she wasn’t stupid.

  She needed someone knowledgeable and discreet. Someone she could trust not to run to the police or the media. But someone experienced
in personal protection.

  There was only one person she knew like that. With a resolute sigh, she admitted the inevitable. She needed Jeff.

  Jeff was in the middle of packing up his kitchen when his cell phone rang. With a huff he placed the half-filled box on the countertop and glanced at the caller ID.

  “Daniel?” he answered.

  “Jeff, hey,” his friend replied. “I need your help.”

  He leaned a hip against the counter. “Sure. What can I do?”

  “Julie’s been up all night, throwing up.”

  “Sorry to hear that. Hope she gets better soon.”

  “I’ll tell her, but listen, about tonight.”

  “The play party?”

  “Yes, would you mind taking over? Since it’s at my guesthouse, I’ll serve as dungeon monitor, but I need someone to do the demo.”

  Daniel wouldn’t play with anyone except Julie now that he’d collared her, so Jeff wasn’t surprised he was looking for someone to take over. He just wasn’t sure he was in the mood to be that person.

  “I thought Nathaniel and Abby were doing the demo?”

  “They are, but they’re doing a more advanced session. Julie and I were going to do something less intense.” His friend sighed. “Didn’t you hear anything at the meeting?”

  Jeff decided not to answer the question. Hell no, he hadn’t been paying attention at the meeting. He’d been watching Dena. “You sure Julie’s really sick and it’s not just nerves at playing in public for the first time?”

  “I should be offended you even asked me that, but I suppose it’s a reasonable question. Yes, I’m sure she’s sick. I was with her all night, holding her hair back for her.”

  With Daniel’s words, a memory threatened to wash over him, and he grabbed onto the counter to steady himself.

  She was on her knees on the bathroom floor, rocking back and forth. Between bouts of vomiting, she held her lower abdomen. She hurt and there wasn’t a damn thing he could do. She wasn’t even happy he stayed in the bathroom with her. He’d never felt so helpless in his life.

  “This isn’t normal,” he said as another spasm hit her. “You need to call the doctor.”

  “I’m fine. It affects everyone differently.”

  “Not like this. Either you call or I will.”

  She mumbled something that may have been in agreement with him, but then a particularly hard wave of nausea overwhelmed her and, no matter what her wishes, he moved behind her. Gently, he pulled her hair back while she emptied what was left in her stomach. Afterward, she collapsed into his arms and he silently cursed himself for being useless. It wasn’t something he was used to, and he hated that he couldn’t take her pain away. So instead he held her, stroked her hair, and whispered that everything was going to be okay.

  But when she moved, there was blood between her legs and they both knew things would never be okay again.

  “Jeff?”

  He shook his head. “Huh? Sorry. What?”

  “This is starting to become a bad habit. I was giving you a rundown of what I’d planned to demo. Did you hear any of it?”

  “No.”

  Daniel sighed. “Maybe we should just cancel the whole thing.”

  “No. It’ll be fine. Repeat what you were saying.”

  “We were just going to do a light flogging scene. I thought we should offer something more basic, especially with the increased interest in the lifestyle.”

  “Yes, that’s fine. Who have you lined up to sub?” The silence from the other end of the phone made him suspicious. “Daniel?”

  “I haven’t called any subs yet. I wanted to discuss it with you first.”

  “I’ll call. Who’s on the list?” He wasn’t all that happy to potentially be playing with someone new. But it’d be a light scene, and as long as they were able to talk some beforehand, it’d be okay. Besides, once he found out who was free, he could probably pick someone he knew.

  “Well, funny thing.” Daniel cleared his throat, and Jeff had a feeling what he said next wouldn’t be funny at all. “There’s only one sub available, and it’s only because she had a business conference fall through at the last second.”

  “Lucky for us. Who is it?”

  “Dena.”

  Jeff arrived early at the party the next night. His demo with Dena was scheduled after Nathaniel and Abby’s. Since they were using the same room, he couldn’t set up yet. To pass the time, he found a seat and settled in to watch the couple he’d met in Delaware.

  He’d seen Abby three times. The first time, she’d been drunk at a nightclub and found herself in trouble. Jeff had been the one to help her and get her home to Nathaniel. And hadn’t that been a surprise? He happened to be in New York only because of a meeting he had scheduled with Nathaniel West.

  When Nathaniel found out he was a Dominant, he’d invited Jeff to participate in two scenes he had planned. One was just the three of them, but the second involved two other men.

  In the far corner of the room, Nathaniel was setting up for his demo. Tonight the scene would involve the two of them only. Though the two scenes he’d been in with the couple hadn’t involved much participation on his part.

  He still smiled remembering how Nathaniel had made clear in no uncertain terms exactly what he was allowed to do with Abby and what he was not. Jeff respected that. It was a Dom’s responsibility to ensure his submissive was treated appropriately. For Abby, that meant he’d been invited to watch and there would be no sexual touching. He’d heard Nathaniel West was a hard businessman to deal with, but he had the feeling that was nothing compared to Dominant Nathaniel.

  Right now he had Abby bound with her arms above her head, held in place by chains bolted to the ceiling. They had their eyes locked on each other and he spoke softly to her. Abby nodded at whatever he said, but a noticeable shiver shook her body. Nathaniel kissed her briefly and then blindfolded her. It wasn’t until he slipped earplugs into her ears that Jeff understood the shiver. Sensory deprivation could be intense, especially in a strange place.

  Nathaniel ran his hands over her body a few times to ground her and then addressed the growing crowd. “As you can see, I’ve used both a blindfold and earplugs on my submissive. By taking away her ability to see and hear, I’ve put her in a very vulnerable position. And she’s bound, which further intensifies that vulnerability.”

  Jeff glanced around the room. Nathaniel had certainly drawn a crowd. In addition to Daniel, who was overseeing the demo, there were about ten people in the room watching from an appropriate distance. A fairly high number for this early in the evening. Dena, he noted, wasn’t present.

  “What are some things I need to keep in mind as the scene continues?” Nathaniel asked the crowd. Several people replied back, and he acknowledged each person’s answer. Yet even though he spoke effortlessly with the group gathered, he remained by Abby’s side, completely aware, it seemed, of her every move, no matter how slight.

  “I haven’t gagged her for two reasons,” he continued. “One, she needs the ability to safeword, though I could have given her a bell to drop. And the second reason is I want to hear her, because my Abigail makes the most delightful sounds when I have her like this.”

  Jeff noticed additional people had entered the room. He stood up and walked toward the back in case Daniel needed help.

  “With her sight and hearing gone,” Nathaniel said, stepping behind her, “her sense of touch is heightened. Keep in mind, she hasn’t heard any of what I’ve been saying.” Then, to prove his point, he addressed her. “Abigail, if you can hear me, say, ‘Yes, Master.’”

  There was silence from the bound woman.

  “When you have your submissive in a position like this, you need to remember that sensory deprivation can be very scary. Of course, it’s up to you if you choose to alleviate that fear or ramp it up.”

  There were chuckles from the Dominants watching and mumbled protests from the submissives.

  Nathaniel grinned. “I
m not opposed to a good mind fuck, but Abigail has been a good girl this week.” He cocked his head. “Mostly. So I won’t be too mean. Regardless, she always yelps the first time I touch her when she’s like this.”

  As if proving his point, he ran one finger down the inside of her arm, and there was a faint murmur from the crowd when Abby squeaked in surprise.

  “So deep inside her mind,” Nathaniel said, continuing to run his hands up and down her body. “She expects my touch, but isn’t sure when or where it’s coming from. Every move I make is so much more intense because it’s the only thing she has to focus on.”

  He had captured the attention of the entire group. No one moved as they watched him stroke the beautifully bound submissive. He moved his hands against her in a slow and sensual manner, eliciting a low moan from Abby.

  “One downside of removing your submissive’s hearing is the inability to talk with her. She can’t hear your questions. It seems obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many Dominants forget this in the middle of a scene.” He placed a kiss on the nape of Abby’s neck and she sighed. Nathaniel continued speaking with a smile. “She won’t be able to hear you give permission for her release. Again, play that any way you want. I told Abigail before we started that she could come whenever she wished. She replied that she didn’t think she’d be able to come at all. I’m taking that as a challenge.”

 
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