The master, p.29
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       The Master, p.29

         Part #8 of Submissive series by Tara Sue Me
 

  into his chair. Now, hopefully, he could simply enjoy his tea and the slave who served it.

  A strangled cry from the far end of the room made everyone jump. Jeff pushed his chair back from the table and fumbled in his pockets. His hands shook.

  Nathaniel reached out to touch him. “You okay? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

  “Dena,” he said in an anguished whisper. “She’s bleeding.”

  • • •

  Within minutes, Cole was driving Jeff to the hospital. Sasha was in the backseat and Daniel followed behind in Jeff’s truck. Nathaniel had left to pick up Abby and Julie. Though it felt like the longest trip he’d ever taken, Cole couldn’t imagine what it felt like for Jeff.

  Jeff either stared straight ahead or checked his phone for news. The never-ending refreshes confirmed there were no updates. Sasha was just as quiet. She sat huddled in the backseat, blowing her nose occasionally.

  Halfway to the hospital, Jeff slammed his fist against the dash. “Damn it. Drive faster. She’s by herself.” His voice broke. “I have to be there. She can’t go through this alone.”

  He was already going twenty miles over the speed limit, but Cole pushed down on the gas pedal and went even faster. After what seemed like hours, he finally pulled up to the Emergency Department. He wasn’t sure the car had come to a complete stop when Jeff unbuckled his seat belt, opened the door, and jumped out.

  He took his time parking, not really wanting to face what he knew they would likely find when they made it inside. He remembered all too well the vacant stare Dena had the time she talked about losing their first pregnancy to a miscarriage.

  Sasha seemed to share his thoughts. She moved slowly, a deliberate delay on her part. “It’s not fair,” she said as they approached the main gate. “They just want a child.” She sighed. “Look at what happened the last time. They shouldn’t have to deal with this again.”

  Cole slipped his hand around hers. “I know it’s easy to look at the negative, but let’s not speculate. We’ll know what’s happening soon enough.”

  Once inside, a nurse gave them directions to a waiting room. Cole dropped onto a couch, expecting Sasha to do the same, but instead she slid to her knees at his feet. They were the only people waiting at the moment, but that could change any second.

  “You can sit next to me if you want,” he told her. “I’m not going to insist on any formal protocol in a hospital.”

  “Let me sit here. Please. I can’t explain it, but I feel more peaceful like this.”

  “As long as you’re comfortable and you’re aware that you can sit by me any time you want.”

  “Yes. Thank you, Sir.”

  She sat cross-legged on the floor at his feet, randomly flipping through magazine pages. He didn’t think she was actually reading anything, just trying to keep her mind occupied.

  “I should have thought about bringing your knitting,” he said. “I was just so focused on getting Jeff here.”

  She peered up at him with tear-filled eyes. “It’s okay. I was working on something for Dena. I don’t think I could get any more of it done under the circumstances.”

  He reached down and wiped her tears away with his thumb. He wished more than anything he could tell her everything was going to be all right, but he was terribly afraid it would be just the opposite.

  Daniel and Julie peeked inside the waiting room. Nathaniel and Abby were behind them.

  “There you guys are.” Daniel sat beside him. “Heard anything yet?”

  “Nothing,” Cole answered.

  Sasha moved closer to his leg so Julie could sit next to her. “I can’t decide if it’s good or bad that there’s no word yet.”

  “Maybe it won’t be much longer.” Julie folded her knees up in front of her and wrapped her arms around them. “I think if it was bad, Jeff would have known as soon as he got here.”

  Which didn’t necessarily mean Jeff would have rushed out to tell them bad news, Cole thought. He remembered months ago, Dena talking to him about her miscarriage. The loss of that baby had served as the catalyst in ending her relationship with Jeff. But the couple was stronger now and recently married.

  And yet couples split up all the time over much smaller issues.

  The room fell into silence, and even when Kelly arrived, there were only nods of acknowledgment exchanged. Sasha’s magazine sat discarded on the floor. Abby looked out the window, with Nathaniel by her side. Julie rocked slightly and Kelly paced.

  They all nearly jumped when the door opened and a tousled-looking but smiling Jeff stepped inside.

  “They’re both okay.” He wiped a tear away. “Ultrasound showed the baby is perfect.”

  Everyone started talking at once and Jeff held his hands up. “Hold on. Wait a minute. They’re not completely out of the woods. There’s an issue with the placenta, so Dena’s on bed rest for the foreseeable future. And we’re staying overnight, just as a precaution because of our history.”

  “Can we see her?” Sasha asked.

  Jeff nodded. “They’ll let two people at a time go back. Why don’t you and Julie go see her?”

  The two ladies went back to see Dena while Daniel gave Jeff a silent hug. Cole felt strangely out of place. It was an odd and unexpected feeling. He was used to infiltrating and fitting in any number of out-of-the-way or exotic locations. Yet here in a Wilmington, Delaware, hospital, he may as well have been on the moon.

  The uneasiness lasted all the way back to his house, even with Sasha chatting away about Dena, how nice it was to see everyone, and pregnancy in general. The pregnancy chatter didn’t ease his mind. It only brought back the arguments he’d had with Kate.

  She seemed to pick up on his mood not far from the house. Her chatter slowed a little before ceasing completely. By the time they pulled into his driveway, she was silently gazing out the window.

  Though it had been afternoon when they left, the sun had long since set at their return. Sasha quietly entered the house, looking back over her shoulder expectantly.

  Damn. They were supposed to talk.

  He sighed. “All things considered, Sasha, it’s been a very trying afternoon and evening. I think it’d be for the best if we postponed our discussion until tomorrow.”

  “Yes, Sir.”

  “And I have work to catch up on. You can go on to bed. No need to wait up.”

  She gave him a resigned nod and simply said, “Good night, Sir,” before heading up the stairs.

  Cole watched her make her way upstairs and down the hall. Then he turned toward his office, where he knew no work would get done.

  • • •

  Sasha rolled over and peeked at the clock on Cole’s nightstand. Two. She punched her pillow. And he hadn’t made it upstairs yet.

  Something had happened at the hospital. The man who drove her home wasn’t the same one who had driven her there. It made sense he wanted to wait until the next day to talk. But the part of her that dreaded the conversation wanted to get it over with now.

  If they didn’t talk soon, she wasn’t sure she’d have the determination to say and do what she needed to.

  She’d had the realization at tea. When Evan had spoken to her the way he had, she flinched away. Even William with his kind smile hadn’t been enough to sway her. She only wanted one man, one Master, one Sir. She only felt safe with Cole. Only Cole could ignite the submissive within her.

  In other words, the retraining was an utter failure.

  Should she tell him? Or would that lead him to bring in other Doms for her training? She didn’t want that. Maybe she wouldn’t tell him.

  So far in the training, all he’d been able to do was ease her into trusting him. Submitting to him. If she reacted the way she did to Evan and William with Cole right next to her, how much worse would her reactions be without him there?

  Today’s tea party showed her she still had work to do when it came to submission. Cole had given her the tools to use—she just needed to work with those
tools on a practical level. And, though she didn’t want to admit it, without Cole nearby.

  She didn’t want to think about leaving Cole. Everything felt so right when she was with him. The way he cared for her, looked out for her, pleasured her, and, hell, even the way he punished her. She had a nagging suspicion that no Dom would ever live up to the high bar he’d set.

  She kicked the sheets off her body. The bed just didn’t feel right without him in it. Taking his pillow and hugging it tightly to her chest, she inhaled the comforting scent of him and fell into a listless sleep.

  Though it felt like mere minutes, when she cracked an eye open, the clock read seven thirty. She stretched her arms above her head and decided she liked the soreness that followed an intense night of play over the achy stiffness insomnia brought. She also liked waking up next to Cole, but considering the untouched appearance of his side of the bed, he’d never made it upstairs.

  He didn’t come to her while she was meditating. When he first gave her instructions on meditating, he’d told her to kneel for fifteen minutes or until he came for her. Every morning before this one, he’d come for her. She stayed in place for twenty minutes just to be sure. By then she could no longer pretend she just needed to wait a bit longer. He wasn’t coming this morning.

  She rose slowly and saw he hadn’t laid any clothes out for her, so after a quick shower, she walked down the stairs, naked, and found him out on the patio, reading.

  She knelt at his feet. “Good morning, Sir.”

  Her chest ached, knowing there probably weren’t going to be many more times she greeted him in such a manner. She closed her eyes and waited for him to stroke her head, but the touch never came.

  “We need to talk, Sasha. But you need to get dressed and eat first.”

  His words didn’t surprise her. Over the last two weeks, she’d quickly learned that their emotions and thoughts ran in parallel. From all appearances, he was experiencing the same doubts she had.

  Five minutes later, she was dressed and back on the patio with him. He’d cooked her a bowl of oatmeal and topped it with the dried cranberries and walnuts she loved so much. Tears filled her eyes. He always thought of everything and missed nothing.

  She wasn’t hungry and played with her oatmeal instead of eating. Did she tell him she now realized the retraining hadn’t done any good? She put the spoon down with a sigh.

  “Are you okay?” he asked. “Sasha?”

  She couldn’t hold her turmoil inside anymore. She shoved her hands into her lap so he couldn’t see her shake. “Yesterday at the tea party I realized something, and it scared me.”

  He waited patiently.

  “I’m only strong enough to submit to you.” She shook her head. “So, I don’t think I should stay here any longer. I need to use the information and methods you gave me to prepare myself to serve others.”

  Because that had been the intent of the retraining—to prepare her to serve other Doms. Besides, Cole had said multiple times, he wasn’t looking for anything serious.

  His hands fisted on the table. “That’s not what you were going to say before the tea party, was it?”

  “No, Sir.”

  He swore under his breath. “Sasha, if I’ve deterred you from serving other Doms, you have to know that was never my intent.”

  “I know it wasn’t. I think—I think the problem is you set the bar so high, no one else can come close to reaching it.”

  “Maybe you bring out the best in me.”

  She laughed, but it sounded strangled to her ears. “You did say once it would take a certain kind of Dom to handle me.”

  “I remember.”

  “You wanted to talk about something last night, too.”

  He waved his hand. “Not important.” But his expression belied his words. “Do you want to finish out our two weeks, or would you prefer to go back home now?”

  It took all her strength to look him in the eyes when she spoke the words that ripped her apart inside. “I want to go home.”

  “Are you sure? I could bring in some other Doms. Allow you to get a feel for someone else.”

  God, no. Anything but that. It was bad enough to think about submitting to someone else, but to do it in front him?

  “Please. Let me go home.”

  • • •

  Her apartment felt odd.

  Not in the sense that someone had broken in or was in her apartment, but rather it was the absence of a particular person. She felt the difference as soon as she crossed the threshold, and it only intensified as the day went on.

  Almost all of her time over the past week and a half had focused on him: his needs, his wants, and his preferences. Without that, she felt a bit incomplete. Her fingers itched with the need to write her thoughts down and after she’d scribbled out a page and a half of her feelings, she laughed.

  He’d told her before that he wanted to weave his way into his submissive’s mind and that’s exactly what he’d done with her. Hell, look at her, she was writing!

  She shook her head at the absurdity and picked up her knitting. Now that everything looked good for Jeff and Dena, she could finish her gift without hesitation.

  She worked so intently that she accidentally dropped everything when her phone rang. Muttering a few choice words, she checked the display.

  Cole.

  Her heart pounded and her finger trembled as she answered.

  “Hello,” she said.

  “Hi, Sasha. It’s me. Just wanted to make sure you made it home and got settled.”

  She fought the urge to tell him everything. If she was still at his house, she would have. But she wasn’t, and she told herself not to act like she was.

  “I’m home and trying to get settled.” It was close enough to the truth. “Just different now.”

  “I imagine so. I’m here if you want to talk. Or maybe you should chat with Abby.”

  “That’s a good idea. Or maybe Dena. I’d have a captive audience that way. It’s not like she can get away, being on bed rest and all.”

  He chuckled. “True.”

  It was too strange talking to him on the phone. They should be in the same room. She should be kneeling at his feet and his hands should be in her hair.

  Footsteps sounded outside, alerting her that someone was coming to see her. She sighed. Probably Julie.

  “I think Julie’s outside, I better go.”

  “I’ll call you tomorrow, before the meeting?” he said and she felt she should tell him there was no need. He wasn’t her Dom or even her trainer. But she wanted to hear his voice, especially before the meeting, so she agreed before they said their good-byes.

  She opened the door before Julie could knock. “Hey, honey. I’m home,” she said to her surprised friend.

  “I thought I saw your car,” Julie said, stepping inside. “Everything okay?”

  Damn, she was tired of everyone asking that. “My goal is to one day have someone look at me and say, ‘I don’t even have to ask how you’re doing, it’s written all over your face.’”

  “I only asked because you’re back sooner than I thought you would be.”

  They sat down on the couch. Sasha took a pillow and hugged it to her body. “We covered everything we needed to.”

  Thankfully, Julie didn’t comment on her vague reply, but she raised an eyebrow. “You’re still wearing your training collar.”

  Sasha didn’t want to think about that just yet. It would be hard enough to deal with tomorrow. “There’s a brief meeting before the party. Cole’s going to take it off then.”

  “What’s it like, being a slave?”

  “It’s wild and decadent and raw. It’s intense and scary and sensual. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, yet I’d do it again in a minute.” She closed her eyes and allowed herself just a moment to remember how it’d felt.

  She looked up to find Julie sitting absolutely still. “That good?”

  “That great.”

  Julie started to tal
k, but stopped and stood. “I better get back downstairs. I just wanted to see you real quick.”

  • • •

  Sasha dreaded the play party, but not nearly as much as she
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