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Branded Sanctuary, Page 17

Joey W. Hill

Page 17

 

  A t his puzzled look, she bit her lip. Im scared Ill react exactly as you said. Find out more and realize I cant accept a vital part of who you are.

  That Ill paste on a forced smile, because I wont want to hurt you, while my heart will be breaking because I really wanted to give us a go. Ive dated a lot, had a lot of fun, even had my heart broken once or twice, but in hindsight, they were markers in life, you know? Those things you expect to experience, to learn about who you are and what you want. This is more, whats between us, and that means its going to hurt a lot more if that happens.

  He nodded, a quick jerk. I know. Im sorry, Chloe. If you dont want to go, though, you dont have to. You dont have to be in that part of my life to have me in yours. I promise.

  Of course I do, silly man. Her knuckles stroked down his sculpted jaw, her thumb passing over his lips. The quivering restraint in them, his desire to tease her flesh, made her tremble as well. So I guess Ill be packing up some clothes in a few days and going to Marguerites for the weekend.

  She was glad to see a wary pleasure enter his gaze, though a regret as well. Then I have to leave you here, he said. One of Marguerites conditions for you attending is that I cant see you until this weekend. She thought it best if you had some time to think about it, be sure. She said if you were worried about staying at your place in the interim, you could stay here, in her upstairs bedroom, or at their Tampa house.

  Chloe wondered what all had been in that conversation, because she saw some tension remained in his shoulders. It suggested all the things this meant, things she knew she didnt truly understand. It brought some of her own worries to the surface. Brendan, you said Id really be Ms guest, not yours. A nd that youll be there aswhat you said. For some reason, it felt odd to say it, though she could tell her inability to do so closed him off a little to her. Not in an obvious way, for he still stood near her, head attentively cocked, but something shut within him so she wouldnt have to look in there, be forced to walk into that room, as hed said.

  If she did that often enough, shed have to be the one to turn the latch, open the room again. No matter what her own conceptions were of what hed just called himself, she realized there were more layers and complexity to it than the stereotypes or websites could address. Strangely, that reassured her. It meant that there were no hard definitions. Like love.

  Does that mean other women canwill

  Though hed respected her desire not to be touched right now, the way they stood so close put their hands so near touching that when he shifted, their fingers brushed. Curling her pinky over two of his large fingers made a tight smile cross his handsome face. His eyes roved over her features, following the curling strands of hair moved by the breeze across her cheek, to her lips.

  That will be up to you, Chloe.

  Chapter Eight

  This is just amazing. Chloe sat back in the lawn chair, her tired muscles protesting. Its like watching an adult Disneyland being built in a week.

  She tried to curl her legs up underneath her, her favorite sitting pose, and managed it with a little groan. Okay, Im no longer worried you were coddling me when you made me come here early to help with this instead of Tea Leaves. A re you sure you werent a slave overseer in a former life?

  Or worse, a personal trainer? I think thats what slave overseers become in this life. Physical trainers, math teachers Of course, I guess from what Ive been learning over the past few days, youre kind of one in this life. Though I get that submission isnt forced, that it isnt slavery, even though some like to be called slaves. IA rgh. Chloe gave Marguerite a narrow look. Youre doing that thing you do, where you dont say anything and I babble along like a brook on whitewater steroids.

  Its because I like hearing you talk. You dont filter, Chloe. It comes straight from your mind and heart to your mouth. If were sticking to water analogies, straight from a springs source, before anything can contaminate it along the way.

  Like bear or moose droppings, Chloe said brightly.

  Then again, some filtering can be wise. A musement wreathed Marguerites typically somber features.

  Manual labor aside, Chloe was sure Marguerite had also invited her to keep her from going bonkers this week. No visits from Brendan, right after theyd discovered that new flush of desire, lust, laughter. To reinforce Chloes barely there resolve, Marguerite had taken away her cell in one of those only-M-could-get-away-with-it moves. Told her it would build the anticipation for when shed see him again. Chloe had wondered why they both accepted Marguerites edict about no contact without question, but she knew in a way Marguerite was right. She needed to think about this.

  Maybe Brendan did too. That is, whether he really wanted to show her this side of himself. Some moments she felt overcome with what it might all mean, images crowding in her head. Her body ached with those images, unsure how to react. Other times, she couldnt bear to think about it, how it might end something between them before it even began.

  One thing was for certain, though. Whether it was the enforced absence from one another right after shed rediscovered her libido, or the fact theyd spent the last three days doing all sorts of set up work on a carnival that was going to be all about sensual pleasures, she was nearly feverish with unmitigated desire. Remarkably, she hadnt pleasured herself in Marguerites guestroom because she wanted Brendan so badly. She wondered if he was the same, oran even more tormenting imagewas he in his bed at night, in that state of glorious nakedness, working himself furiously into his hand. Thinking of spilling himself in her cunt, her mouth

  M, does Brendan like me? I mean, do you think hes seen enough of me, to know thats who he likes? Or is he one of those who gets off on the damsel in distress? She couldnt bring herself to ask that, was somewhat embarrassed shed asked what she had, so abruptly.

  Marguerite crossed her ankles, her legs bare to mid thigh from a pair of belted tailored shorts. She wore a neat cotton blouse tucked into it, showing a tempting and classy line of cleavage. Her long hair was in a tail, tumbling over her right breast. She smelled good. Maybe because of her heightened sense of the erotic, Chloe could well imagine how a man might beg to have some part of that. She felt an odd desire to touch and stroke Marguerite herself. Yes. Whoever you need to be, at any point, thats who Brendan will want. Its the type of person he is.

  Hmm. Chloe drew a steadying breath, looked away. You have a Ferris wheel on your lawn. A freaking Ferris wheel. I cant believe it.

  We mix the traditional trappings with the untraditional. We want to keep the sense of play, childish adventure, mixed with the more adult versions of it.

  A carnivals perfect for that. Chloe watched workmen hang a sign over one tent. The Marvelous Freak Show. Unlike a fair or festival, a carnival was a blend of light and dark. The macabre with the fantasy. I remember going to one by myself when I was younger, about sixteen. There was so much light, but it was like the bug light that draws you in before you see the shadows. There were rides and games, but the carnies, they had these intent eyes, and this right-out-front sexuality, like youd imagine gypsies would have. A fringe society living by a different set of rules.

  She tuned in to find Marguerite regarding her intently. Yes. Its a good description.

  Brendan is part of this world. Hes one of the gypsies. You havent answered many of my questions, you know, Chloe added. A t least not with a lot of detail.

  Youve already done a lot of looking yourself, on the internet. Marguerite also wore a pair of dark glasses that, with her folded hands and straight carriage, gave the sense that she was a statue. The only thing that disrupted the illusion was the wind, rippling the Gulf waters behind her and playing in the pale strands of her hair.

  But you havent really encouraged me to do that, either. In fact, last night, you made yourself scarce while I was web surfing.

  This is a very hard world to truly understand, Chloe, unless you already feel it in some part of you. Even those who do often ha
ve trouble explaining why it draws them.

  Chloe curled her hand over her bare toes. Her sneakers overlapped on the grass below her chair. That kind of feels like an ultimatum, M. Like if Im notone of you, then he and I have no chance.

  Why that should ruffle her feathers, when shed nursed the same fear at Brendans invitation, she didnt know, but it got her back up. It was uncomfortable to feel defensive, almostcompetitivewith Marguerite, so she was relieved when M didnt seem to take offense. Instead, she pushed a plate of sugar cookies, sitting on the table between them, closer to Chloes side.

  Every submissive is different, Chloe. Most of what comes up on the internet about BDSM looks the same. Violent, kinky, garish. But in actuality, every submissive is different. Imagining that every male submissive is a bedwetter who wants to crawl around and suck on mommys toes is erroneous, not to mention judgmental. Just as boiling down what each of them needs to a tall woman in leather beating their asses with a paddle is too simplistic.

  Chloe couldnt imagine Brendan in either of those scenarios, but she kept thinking about that first night, the things hed said. Is that a command? The way hed framed what he wanted in terms of her needs, not his own.

  She frowned, picked up a cookie and turned it over in her hand, smelling the tempting aroma of the baked sweet as Marguerite continued. I havent said too much, Chloe, because its up to you to find out what Brendan is. Youve always been a creature of exceptional intuition, and its my belief that when we let our fears drop away, truths are much clearer. In time, I will answer any question you ask, but I think the best way to understand is to simply experience these three days, not based on what youve seen on a website, but on what those finely tuned senses of yours feel. Reaching over, Marguerite touched the cookie, then ran a fingertip down the side of Chloes hand, spreading grains of sugar there. It gave Chloe a not-unpleasant shiver.

  We place a great deal of emphasis on knowledge, understanding, comprehension, Marguerite continued. But in a truly tolerant world, things dont always need to make sense to us to be accepted, or to become a vital part of our lives.

  Like the biblical fruit, the knowledge of good and evil. Kind of screwed ourselves there.

  Yes. Because understanding good and evil is intuitive, not scientific. We both know that. Marguerites look arrowed directly into Chloes soul.

  Toward a room she was determined to keep locked. Even if she ultimately couldnt, the last person shed burden with what was in that room would be Marguerite.