The collar, p.5
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       The Collar, p.5

         Part #6 of Submissive series by Tara Sue Me

  When the waitress came by, he ordered them both a side salad with house dressing, extra tomatoes for her, and spaghetti with meatballs.

  Dena’s hand was still on the table. He placed his over it. “Did I pass?”

  “So far.” She laced their fingers together.

  Her skin was soft and warm, and her hand felt delicate under his. He stroked her palm with his thumb and saw her body shiver in response. He couldn’t wait to make her shiver in other ways.

  “Tell me how you knew you were a submissive.”

  She captured her bottom lip between her teeth.

  “The truth, Dena,” he warned. “I’ll know if you’re being dishonest.”

  “That’s the thing about good Dominants. You guys see everything.”

  He narrowed his eyes, partly teasing, partly being serious. “Are you avoiding the question?”

  “Busted,” she said under her breath.

  He didn’t say anything else, waiting instead for her to continue. She tried to pull her hand back, but he wouldn’t let it go.

  “I did it first as an act of defiance.”

  That was probably the last response he expected. She didn’t come across as the rebellious sort, much less the type to act out in such a drastic way. He raised an eyebrow at her.

  “I had an ultraconservative upbringing,” she said. “Talk a certain way, walk a certain way, look a certain way. I was told who I could be friends with and which boys I could date. Midway through law school, I kinda went wild.”

  He was still holding her hand, and she’d ceased trying to get away. Law school? Her paperwork didn’t list her job. “Interesting.”

  “I went to a local BDSM party one weekend. I thought it would be the exact opposite of my childhood, something wild and dangerous.”

  She could have been hurt walking into something new like that. “Risky.”

  “Yes, but I did my research before I went. Checked it out.”

  He stroked the base of her palm again. “Always so practical?”

  “That, and I wanted to be sure it was safe. Even knowing that, I still felt it’d drive my dad crazy if he found out.”

  “Did you tell him?”

  She laughed and shook her head. “Tell him that not only do I let men tie me up and flog me, but that I like it? No way. Just knowing how he would react was enough.”

  Was enough. Past tense. “Obviously now it’s more than rebelling against your father. No one can be a submissive for four years out of spite.”

  The waiter delivered their salads, and she didn’t say anything until he left. Jeff reluctantly let go of her hand so she could eat.

  She popped a tomato in her mouth and chewed with a look of complete bliss. “I found out after a while that being a submissive completed me. It’s hard for me to explain to those not in the lifestyle, but I’m sure you know what I mean.”

  “Yes, I do know. For myself, I’m not sure I’m even able to separate the man in me from the Dominant. It’s just who I am.” He had accepted it years ago and no longer felt the need to explain or excuse it.

  “I want to get to that point. I still think I’d feel the need to explain myself to people.”

  “Society’s double standard? It’s okay for a man to be dominant, but a ‘real’ woman would never consent to being submissive.”

  She nodded. “Yes, exactly.”

  He leaned across the table and was pleased to note she did the same. She was so close, he could smell her jasmine perfume. “I think,” he said, “that it takes more strength to admit what you want. Anyone can sit back and let society tell them what’s expected. True courage is saying, ‘Screw you. I need this and I’m going to take it.’”

  As he spoke, the truth of his words hit him. According to society, he shouldn’t be with a woman like her. She had probably been attending law school when he got his GED. But he wasn’t going to listen to society. He wanted her and, if she wanted him, he’d take her.

  They finished their salads in silence, and once their pastas were delivered, Dena twirled a bite of spaghetti on her fork.

  “Tell me what you do,” she asked.

  “I recently resigned from the Wilmington Police Department.” He started cutting his spaghetti; he’d never been able to twirl it without making a mess. “I’ve opened up my own security business.”

  Her forehead wrinkled. “What does that involve?”

  “I do a lot of consulting, working with businesses on improving and streamlining security systems. We do personal protection, too.”

  “Physical security or online?”

  “I mostly do physical, but I have a partner who specializes in network security.”

  The table fell silent as they ate, and Jeff found he enjoyed sitting with her in companionable quiet. Around them the chatter of other diners filled the room, but it didn’t feel odd. If he had to pick one word to describe the atmosphere, he’d go with “friendly.”

  Dena wiped her mouth. “I bet you have a lot of stories you could tell about your job.”

  “I’ve seen my fair share of crazy.”

  “Has anyone asked you to be their bodyguard? Do you do that type of work?”

  “I haven’t had that request come up yet. I’d have to think about it before I’d agree to do something like that. It’d be tough being around someone all the time in that kind of capacity. Always having to be on guard.”

  She twirled more pasta. “It’s not fun for the person being guarded either.”

  “Oh?” That was interesting. It sounded like she spoke from experience.

  “I mean”—she shrugged—“I’ve heard that.”

  He had a feeling she wasn’t telling him the whole story, but before he could ask her more, she shifted in her seat and the movement caused her foot to brush against his under the table. She jerked it back and locked eyes with him at the same time.

  One day I’ll know your secrets.

  And what a delight it would be to discover them all. Already she was tempting him to change his plans for the evening. Dena was unlike any woman he’d ever met. She was intelligent and strong and there was a fierceness that lit her eyes. He wanted to harness that strength and control it, until her fierceness consumed them both.

  Dena peeked across the table at Jeff. He was such a curious combination of blue-collar worker and philosophical Dominant. He sent out a protective, nurturing vibe at times, but she could see underneath the signs of an all-powerful Dom.

  “If you don’t mind me asking, Sir, how many submissives have you collared? I’ve had only the one Master.”

  He pushed a bite of pasta onto his fork. “I’ve never collared a submissive.”

  Her water glass stopped halfway up to her lips. “Never?”

  “Never. I can be hard and abrasive and I recognize I’m not the easiest Dominant to serve. I’m also a bit of a loner, and many women find the combination a turnoff.”

  It was almost as if he was giving her a warning, trying to tell her not to get close. She didn’t care. He was interesting and devilishly handsome. It was going to take a lot more than hearing he was a loner to scare her off.

  She took a sip of water. “I’m definitely not a loner—that’s for sure. And you may be hard and abrasive in the playroom, but it’s already clear to me that you’re not a cruel man.”

  “You don’t know me well enough to make that call.”

  “I’d beg to differ.”

  There was a flash of desire in his eyes that sent a spark of longing throughout her body, especially when he whispered, “When I have you beg, it won’t be about that.”

  She forced herself to meet his gaze. “I look forward to it, Sir.”

  The rest of their dinner was charged. Every move he made seemed somehow sexual: from the way he held his fork, to the way his lips parted. It was the most absurd thing when she tried to rationalize it. He was only eating spaghetti. Yet with every bite, every sip, every swallow, his body called to her.

  She shifted in her seat as they
waited for the bill, hoping to alleviate the dull ache between her legs that screamed for his touch. He’d said she wasn’t to come without his permission, but he’d made no mention of playing tonight. She watched him sign the receipt, the entire time imagining his hands on her, holding her, claiming her.

  A bead of sweat trickled between her breasts, and she squirmed again.

  “You okay?” he asked.

  “Fine,” she said, forcing her body to be still.

  “Another pesky thing about me is that I require absolute honesty at all times.” He cocked an eyebrow. “Are you okay?”

  “Damn it,” she mumbled. She was willing to bet he knew exactly what her problem was and he was going to force her to say it.

  “Not answering a direct question? And swearing? Tsk, tsk, tsk. You’re compiling quite a list of infractions. Should make for a memorable night in my playroom.”

  His expression was serious, but she felt certain there was a trace of humor lingering behind his eyes. She couldn’t tell if he was joking or not. She didn’t want him to be joking—she thought.

  “I looked over your checklist,” he said. “I know your limits. If you’d like to come to my house and for us to pick up where we left off last night, say ‘Yes, Sir.’ If not, say ‘No, Sir,’ and I’ll either take you back to your apartment or we can go for a walk and get to know each other better. The choice is yours and yours alone.”

  She’d played with a few Doms after leaving her old Master, but none of them had near the intensity Jeff had. He practically oozed control and dominance, and she wanted to experience what he was offering. She had alerted her safety call earlier in the evening; she’d just follow up with her again on the way to Jeff’s.

  The words left her mouth as soon as she decided. “Yes, Sir.”

  Victory and possibly relief flashed across his expression. “Let’s leave.”

  They walked together through the crowded restaurant, this time with Jeff leading the way. She was fine with that since walking behind him meant she could check out his ass again.

  “Hey, Jeff,” the man at the hostess station said, coming out from behind the table and blocking their way. “I didn’t know you were here tonight. How’ve you been?”

  “Doing well, Ike,” Jeff said, his voice tighter than normal. “Excellent food as always. We enjoyed everything.”

  At Jeff’s use of the word “we” Ike looked her way, and his eyes widened in recognition.

  Damn it, no!

  But she couldn’t do anything but smile and nod as the pudgy man spoke to her. “Hello, Ms. Jenkins. We’re honored you dined with us tonight. I trust everything was to your liking.”

  She risked a peek at Jeff. He was looking at Ike as if the man had grown horns and pointy ears.

  “Everything was superb; thank you for asking,” she said with her well-practiced fake smile.

  “You two know each other?” Jeff asked.

  Ike shook his head. “I’ve never had the pleasure before tonight of talking with Ms. Jenkins, but I’ve been a supporter of her dad for years.”

  Clearly it had taken less than a second for Jeff to make the connection in his head. He looked at her, and dread filled her stomach. Damn it. She wasn’t ready to tell him. She wanted to wait until later. Much later.

  “If you’ll excuse us,” Jeff said, his voice flat. “I need to be getting Ms. Jenkins home.”

  He didn’t speak as they made their way to his truck. He was silent as he opened her door and helped her inside. She was so on edge, she jumped when he closed it. All the sexual tension that had been so prevalent during dinner had evaporated, and all she felt was cold.

  It wasn’t until he pulled out of the parking lot and turned in the direction of her apartment complex that he spoke. “Dena J. Dena Jenkins. You’re Senator Jenkins’s daughter.”



  “It really doesn’t change anything,” she said, trying to make her voice sound as normal as possible.

  “No, Ms. Jenkins. It changes everything.”

  Chapter Three

  Present day

  Twenty minutes ago, being late for the demo hadn’t seemed like such a bad idea. The phone call from the stranger had caught her off guard. She’d answered the phone because she was expecting a work call and thought the unknown number might have been it.

  Whoever it was laughed when she said hello and then he’d hung up.

  It took ten minutes in the bathroom to stop shaking, and she knew she was horribly late to the demo. At the time, playing the forgetful submissive seemed like a good idea. And if he’d already canceled the demo and punished her, well, it would still be more than what she normally got from him.

  “Undress,” he said. “Then go get the leather strap from my bag and I want you over my knees.”

  Damn the man. She stood up and slowly undressed, taking her time. Naked, she jerked the strap from his bag. A spanking was one thing, but she hated the strap. Which, of course¸ he knew.

  She knelt before him and held out the strap.

  “Thank you, Dena. Is there something you’d like to say?”

  He was falling back into their old punishment ritual. Next she was supposed to thank him for caring enough about her to correct her when she messed up. She grew furious. He never called, they rarely talked, and he expected her to happily fall into place like she still wore his collar?

  “Yes, Sir. I have something to say.”

  He nodded. “Go ahead.”

  “Fuck you, Sir.”

  Damn him even more. He didn’t even look angry. He simply smiled. “You just added ten strokes.”

  “Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck. You.”

  “Your ass is going to give out long before my hand does. As it stands now, you’ll be lucky if you don’t have trouble sitting down for a week.”

  She opened her mouth, but shut it immediately when he snapped his fingers.

  “The next thing out of that bratty mouth better be, ‘Please, Sir, punish my ass for my lack of respect.’”

  She pressed her lips together.

  “Say it. Now.”

  Her heart pounded, but she felt a spark of arousal at his take-charge manner. The Doms in training she was used to didn’t have the ability to do that to her. “Please, Sir, punish my ass for my lack of respect.”

  He patted his lap. “Since you asked so nicely.”

  Rarely had anyone put her over his knees since her split with Jeff. She’d forgotten how humiliating it was to be naked across someone’s lap while they were fully clothed. And it was as if Jeff wanted her to remember, because for several long minutes he did nothing.

  When he finally spoke, his voice was low and firm. “You disrespected me not only with your mouth, but with your actions. I’m not going to have you count or thank me. You’ll simply take what I give. You showed a serious lack of judgment tonight, and that requires serious consequences. Do you understand?”

  Would he not get on with it? “Yes, Sir. I understand.”

  He kept one hand on her lower back and started slapping her butt with the other. His spanking was just as methodical as she remembered. Each stroke meticulously planned and delivered.

  Fuck. She’d forgotten how much it hurt.

  She tried to take them silently, but it was too much and she found she couldn’t. A knock on the door followed the fifth stroke, and the door opened before Jeff could answer.

  “Everything okay in here?” Daniel asked, showing only mild shock at finding them in such a position.

  “Answer Master Covington honestly.”

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