Truly helpless, p.35
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       Truly Helpless, p.35

         Part #10 of Nature of Desire series by Joey W. Hill
 

  Please don't love me. Please don't.

  "People are probably staring at us," he managed.

  "Fuck them." She gestured to his arm. "Give me your wrist."

  "Any body part you want is yours without asking, Mistress."

  "I didn't ask." She shot him a look of mild reproof. "Don't do the charm thing when you're feeling vulnerable. I can tell the difference."

  Problem was, the vulnerability he was covering wasn't only the unsettling daymare he'd just experienced, but that he meant what he'd just said.

  When he put his wrist in her grasp, she reached in her pocket with her free hand and withdrew the small velvet bag. She shook the contents into his palm.

  Seeing what it was enhanced his defenseless feeling. An ID bracelet. The masculine-looking steel links hooked to the top slim rectangular piece, and were embellished with chips of silver to catch the light.

  Picking it up from the cup of his hand, she fastened it on his wrist. It was a close fit.

  "Look at the back," she ordered. She moved to grip his hand as he complied. The bracelet had enough slack to allow him to tip the rectangular ID part up but not turn it over fully. It wouldn't roll and reveal the back unless he did it manually, as he was doing now. The close fit also meant he'd feel the faint impression of the engraving more easily.

  If lost, return to Lady Regina.

  "Since we're going to a new place," she said with a trace of humor. "It seemed appropriate. Now read it aloud to me."

  She coiled her fingers in the bracelet, tugging.

  "If lost, return to Lady Regina," he said, low.

  "I'm right here, sweet boy," she said, just as quietly. "So you're not lost. You're found."

  Until he wasn't. He locked his gaze on her and whatever she saw there made her tighten her grip.

  "You can choose to have a Mistress. You can desire her, have something for yourself. That's okay. You don't have to play her."

  He didn't usually ask but he wanted to, to hear her answer. "Can I kiss you?"

  "You may."

  He gripped her shoulders, drew her to him. He had no plan for the type of kiss. He usually opted for the tongue-sucking, deep-penetrating, make-her-knees-weak kind of thing, but as he closed the distance between them, other desires took over. He pressed his mouth lightly, so very lightly, over hers, teasing her with a hint of tongue. His lips were trembling a little, or maybe that was hers. His cock swelled against the hold of the straps. It was crazy, how one teasing kiss could rouse him as much as a far more passionate one, as if that brief press of lips had whispered all sorts of things to him, things that made him wish they were in a far less public place.

  Her hands came up to hold his elbows, caressing gently.

  "There you are," she murmured as he drew back, only enough so that he could bring her liquid dark eyes into focus, the thick lashes and slim, silken brows. Her mouth was wet and lush, a plum color. "See? I knew you'd find me. When you came over here, you wanted to sit at my feet, didn't you? You feel steadier there."

  He nodded. "But I get it. This is your job."

  "We're not at my job yet. And it's not likely I'll meet anyone in this lounge that is. If that's the case, it wouldn't matter. I'd just say my male companion isn't comfortable in these cushiony chairs because they hurt his back." She flashed him a quick grin, but then the expression disappeared, replaced by all-Mistress. "Come."

  When she returned to her chair, he followed. He sat at her feet, putting his back against the chair he wasn't using, his arms locked loosely around his bent knees, body against her knee where she sat on her hip on the chair, legs folded at an angle away from him. She played idly with his hair as she studied the view out the window. "I think I see Peter's plane coming in now. Have you ever met him or his friends at The Zone?"

  She was relaxed, helping him to relax. As if him nearly freaking out was an okay thing, something they could move past without dwelling on it. He still had frogs going in his belly, and his lower back had dampened the shirt with nervous sweat, but he found he could follow her lead back to a normal keel.

  "Yeah. They're a good group. Good Doms. Never had a problem with them when DM'ing or on security. Really protective of their hot sub wives."

  She tugged his hair. "Figures that's what you'd remember."

  He looked up at her with a trace of a smile, taking his time getting to her face. "Not appreciating a beautiful woman is a crime."

  She sniffed. "Have you ever done an interrogation scene?"

  "No. Witnessed a lot of them, though." He shrugged, feeling a trickle of uneasiness. "Wouldn't say no to you, but not sure if they're my thing. That sense of...being caught between a rock and a hard place, having to hold out as long as you can..."

  "Puts you in a weird headspace."

  "Yeah."

  "Maybe you've had the wrong kind of interrogation." Regina considered, her fingertips drifting down over his ears and neck. "If it wouldn't have been too conspicuous today, I would have had you wear a collar. I like playing with it and tugging. Would you like that?"

  The idea jolted him, so it took him a second to answer casually. It was also gratifying, having her ask his opinion. "Yeah. But I also like the bracelet."

  "Who says you can't wear both?" She swept him with a your-ass-is-totally-mine look that cinched around his cock and balls even tighter than the harness. "A Mistress can put as many marks of ownership on her sub as she wishes, right?"

  "Yes, ma'am."

  "Good. Now, back to the interrogation thing. I thought I could pull in Mistress Lyda. I'd tell you a secret about me no one else knows. And you could reveal the secret to her, or follow her commands to top me."

  His gaze snapped back up. "I thought you said...I didn't want to do that." He cleared his throat and said it for himself. "I don't want to top."

  "Well, then, all you have to do is not reveal the secret." But her smile disappeared, and she put her hand on his shoulder.

  "It was an idea I was playing with early on, when I wasn't sure if you understood that you truly had no desire to top. I'm not going to do that to you, Duncan. I think you've already been placed in enough untenable positions in your life. Some subs enjoy interrogation, the push-pull of their emotions. You wouldn't. I'm a hardass, but I'm not cruel."

  Hiding his relief, he looked down at his hands. "But I've been cruel. So I'd probably deserve it."

  "Karma deliverer isn't in my Mistress job description. What you and I do isn't about that. If you've been cruel, you make amends the right way." Her eyes twinkled, though her lips remained serious. "On your own time, not mine."

  He laid his head back on the chair seat to look up at her. Her touch drifted to his throat, sliding down into the unbuttoned collar of the shirt to stroke him. He liked the way it felt, but her words couldn't help but open up a track in his mind that led back to those other Mistresses.

  Could he make amends? How would he go about it? Maybe she'd help him understand the best way about it, if he raised enough courage--or enough trust--to ask. She'd said she'd be his friend, right? Was that what a friend could do?

  He shifted uncomfortably. He was so wrapped up in her, and she was right; a lot of this was spillover from all that intense emotional crap. In a few days, it wouldn't be as intense. He might not be seeing things as clearly right now, making way more of this than it was. BDSM interactions could get way intense, but at the end of sessions, often people put on their clothes and went home to another, or by themselves.

  "Will you tell me something about you I don't know yet?" he asked. His questions and thoughts sometimes came out of an abrupt place, not really connected to the conversation, and her surprised expression reminded him of that social awkwardness. "What I mean is, I know about your job, that you're pretty hot shit at what you do. Else you wouldn't be so flush and have people wanting you to travel all over the place to teach them what you know. I guess I just wondered who you are when you're not doing that or Domme stuff."

  What the hell was he doi
ng? "Forget it," he said before she could speak. "It was stupid of me to ask. I know this is...this is about The Zone, and club stuff, and you helping me out and challenging yourself as a Mistress. The personal stuff becomes part of that enough without even more of it getting tangled in and making this more than it's not."

  Her expression was unreadable. He wished he could figure things out from it, but when she wanted to use it, she had a damn good poker face. "So you don't want to know more about me, personally?" she asked.

  "No. No, I don't. It's okay." He rose to his feet and started to backpedal. "I'm going to go hit the restroom."

  She ignored that. "My mother lives in Cedar Key, Florida," she said. "My dad wasn't part of the picture, so she was a single mom. I have a couple siblings. One's in New Hampshire working for a senator; the other's down in Texas on an oil rig. They're both married, with kids, and I love them all. I see my mom about once a month, and get together with my sister and brother whenever I can."

  She took a breath. "I was married. Once. In my twenties."

  He'd stopped as she started to speak, but that brought him a few steps closer again, his gaze fixed on her face.

  "He left me because he said he wanted to be with a woman who knew how to be a woman. He was a vanilla guy who didn't get the Domme part of me. It was stupid for me to even try, but I apparently had to do it once to figure out that it was essential for me in a relationship. I loved him, but it just didn't work."

  He couldn't imagine her hooked up with a guy who didn't crave the Mistress side of her. It would be a fucking waste. Moving back to her, he sank to his knees and reached up to cup her face in one hand, his thumb sliding along her jaw. "He didn't have to be a dick about it. Anyone who doesn't think you're a woman isn't paying fucking attention."

  Her lips curved, the sadness in her eyes from the memory dissipating. "He was hurt, angry. We say the wrong things when we feel like that. Right?"

  Yeah. He couldn't cast a lot of stones on that one, could he? But her tone wasn't reproving, a reminder of his faults. Just matter-of-fact.

  "He didn't understand how much it hurt. He couldn't see inside me. That was when I realized I needed a submissive lover to unlock that part of me that allows a man to look inside. He was so macho and alpha, and he thought I was asking him to be less of a man. It was a weird, dysfunctional competition of sorts, where I had to stay shoulder to shoulder with him all the time, because if I gave way to him, he'd just take over and I'd be lost."

  She curled her hand around his wrist, his palm still against her jaw. "For all the things I kick your ass about, Marius, that's not one of them. You get it, how being a man and a submissive aren't in conflict. That's part of why you're such a lovely sub...and such a dangerous man." She blinked, glanced toward the bathroom. "If you really do need to go, you might want to head off and take care of that. The plane's landed and they'll join us shortly."

  Instead, he stood up fully on his knees to put his mouth on hers. Still on his knees, he held her with a strength and sureness her body registered with a gratifying tremble. When he pulled back, he held her gaze.

  "I'd never want you to be less than you are, Mistress. You're a Domme, through and through, and I love that about you. I also love that you're strong enough to let me take care of you sometimes."

  "I like that you're man enough to do it and kneel to me." Her eyes swept him. "You're doing both things at once, right now."

  He smiled against her mouth and kissed her again, long and lingering. I want to take care of you. I'd like the way that would feel, you trusting me to do that. No way he could say that, because it was only a breath away from wishful thinking, but he put it in the kiss, hoping she heard him.

  Her fingers slid around his waist and back and held him close. They were probably giving the rest of the lounge a show, but if she was cool with it, he didn't give a fuck about anything but her. At length and with reluctance, he eased back. "I won't be long," he said.

  "Better not. I'll leave without you." She winked, plucking one of her trade magazines out of her computer bag. He felt her regard, though, as he moved toward the restrooms. When he reached the door, he paused and looked back. She made no attempt to conceal that she was ogling his ass. It surprised a smile out of him and she grinned back.

  She'd kept him from being completely freaked out by that whatever-the-hell it was that had taken him by the throat. And then helped him realize they all had their demons, by sharing some of her own. She didn't have any problem showing her own vulnerabilities, because she saw them as adding to her strength, not detracting from it.

  Something to think about.

  When he returned, she wasn't alone. He regretted that, but put a good face on it, pushing down his uneasiness about his state of mind in mixed company. He wouldn't fail her. He wouldn't shame his Mistress.

  He vaguely remembered Peter Winston and his wife, Dana, enough to recognize them as he joined them. Peter was a big son of a bitch with military-short dark blond hair and steely eyes. From club gossip, Marius knew he'd done two tours in the Middle East with the National Guard, before he'd returned permanently to fulltime work as a plant operations manager with Kensington & Associates in New Orleans. Yet the main reason he'd withdrawn from the military was Dana herself.

  Dana had been in the Army, but had been disabled by an IED. She was blind, her hearing managed capably by a cochlear implant. When she and Peter played at The Zone, Marius's sharp eyes detected the faint scars revealed by her scant outfits. Scars that might have been far worse, but Marius suspected Peter's lucrative resources had paid for the plastic surgery that restored her striking features. Dana's sharp sensuality was deeper than the physical, though. As the petite black woman with close-cropped hair turned in his direction, he saw it in her body language. Like his Mistress, she had more than a skin-deep beauty.

  She wore a purple flowing blouse and black slacks over trendy-looking ankle boots. A necklace with black beads and small silver charms led down to a pair of dog tags. The quick glint of light off the lettering showed they were Peter's. Since Marius knew Dana was a dedicated submissive, he suspected it was a day collar, a way she could wear a symbol of her Master's ownership without comment in the vanilla world. His fingertips slid along the ID bracelet on his arm. Much like what his Mistress had given him.

  "I believe you've met Marius before," Regina said to Peter and Dana.

  "Yeah. Marius." As Peter shook his hand, Marius detected reserve in the greeting, and speculative scrutiny. Not unfriendly but not a blank pass, either. Peter knew some of what had been happening with him, probably from The Zone scuttlebutt. Getting information about members of The Zone in the outside world would have been a challenge for the most secretive branches of government, because privacy was taken seriously at the club. But inside the club, gossip could be as rampant as in any other fishbowl. Marius tried not to let it bug him.

  Dana extended her hand. "Glad you could join us today," she said. She wore dark glasses to cover her blind eyes, but looked toward him, following the sound of his movements. When he took her hand, instead of shaking his, she clasped and held it, pressing a warm grip upon him. Her quiet calm had an intensity to it that wasn't unpleasant, but it was unsettling, as if she was seeing things with her touch deeper than sight could provide.

  "The pilot's ready to go, so let's catch up on the plane," Peter advised, gesturing them toward the exit door.

  Marius had seen TV shows where the characters rode on private planes. The cabin area was smaller than Hollywood made it look, of course, but the space was still pretty impressive. The private plane had a conference room with all the modern technology to conduct whatever business could be conducted from an office. There was also a separate, comfortable sitting area with a well-stocked wet bar and a refrigerator full of snacks. Peter showed them into that area and let the pilot know they were ready to go.

  Regina had gestured him into a window seat, taking the seat next to him. Since that seemed to be her preference, he didn
't dispute it, and was glad he'd get a prime view of takeoff. As the plane rumbled onto the runway and then accelerated, he was nearly glued to the glass. Or whatever they used to make a plane window. He realized he had a grin all over his face, watching the world race by. Fucking awesome.

  He couldn't pull his attention away until they'd leveled out. When he did, he found his Mistress had broken off her chatting with Dana. She was studying him with amusement. "First time in a plane, hmm?"

  He nodded, trying to look a little cooler about it, but seeing her pleasure in his reaction, he decided not to put too much effort into it.

  "This is the ultimate in flying," she said. "Flying economy to and from conferences is a lot less of a pleasurable experience, especially these days. But that's why I'm glad I have kind friends."

  "We had selfish motives," Dana said, unfastening her seat belt and curling up on the cushion, her now bare feet tucked under her. Her shoulder pressed into Peter's side, because he had the arm rest pushed up from between them. "I wanted to catch up and see how you were doing. Last time we talked you had just started at the community college. How are you adjusting from corporate consulting to playing teacher in an academic setting?"

  Regina chuckled. "Fortunately, the course I teach is geared toward people looking to upgrade their existing skill sets, so it's not much of a shift."

  "What do you do to make ends meet, Marius?" Peter asked.

  "A little bit of everything," he said, his standard answer. "Manual labor jobs, mostly. I work through a temp agency." It wasn't a lie. He just made better money at fights, and so did it more often than the other to pay the bills. He was aware of Regina's look but didn't make eye contact.

  "Hey, do I smell chocolate?" Dana lifted her head, nostrils flaring. Marius was glad for the distraction.

  Peter chuckled and opened the package of TimTams, shaking them onto a plate. "You're better than a bloodhound, sweetheart."

  More general conversation revealed Dana was now a minister at a church in New Orleans, one smack in the middle of urban vice. She seemed suited for that, since the air she emanated said fear wasn't something she'd let get the upper hand on her. While Marius didn't expect she had any trouble standing on her own two feet, her Master's dedication and support seemed a key brick in that foundation. The guy was obviously devoted to her. He kept his hands on her pretty much all the time, one palm curled loosely over her folded feet, or on the curve of her hip when he sat back again and let her cuddle her barely five-feet-tall body against his bulk.