Truly helpless, p.36
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       Truly Helpless, p.36

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

  It was intimacy, comfortable knowledge of one another. The vibes were probably from being married, as well as committed Master and sub. It wasn't something Marius had ever let himself think about having, but he realized not thinking about it didn't mean not wanting. He was with a Mistress who had introduced him to the word want in a way he hadn't experienced before he met her.

  His elbow brushed hers as she sat in the cushioned seat next to him, her legs crossed, opposite arm lying loose and relaxed. She looked exactly like what she was. She wasn't a planet needing to orbit around another. Just as she'd said that night not too long ago, she was a star, a sun, who gave or took away warmth according to her own schedule.

  Almost as if she'd picked up on his thoughts, and was reminding him of the truth of them, she rested her other hand on his thigh, stroking as she spoke with her friends. He wanted to move to the floor at her feet again. However, though Peter and Dana were Dom and sub, he wasn't sure if a vanilla protocol was in place right now.

  Regina answered that question. Her hand shifted to his shoulder. A quick flick of her lashes told him what she wanted, and he slid to the floor at her knee, bracing his bent legs by tucking his shoe tips under Dana's seat, since she had her limbs folded up underneath her. Regina's touch moved to that favored spot on the back of his neck, her fingers threading through his short hair.

  After some additional casual conversation and catching up between her and Regina, mostly girl talk, Dana began to sit up. When Marius would have moved his legs out of the way, Peter shook his head at him, telling him it wasn't necessary. Finding him there, Dana propped one bare foot on each of Marius's knees and smiled.

  "I like this kind of foot rest. You okay with that?"

  "I am," Regina answered when his lips parted. Okay, they were in Dom/sub mode. He subsided, feeling an unexpected comfort settle over him, particularly as Regina continued the slow stroke of his hair. "Lay your head back on the seat, sweet boy."

  Though she could be ruthless, there wasn't anything arbitrary or cruel about her. She was kind and loving, tough and fair.

  She deserved way better than him. He didn't want the thought to intrude on this moment, but there it was, always waiting. He shrugged it off, twitching under her touch. The truth of that rankled, but it didn't matter, did it? This was all great, but when he got back into The Zone with her help--if he did--where did they go from there?

  She was all class, style and money, with a fancy education. He was...him. She might keep him as a sub at The Zone, because she seemed to prefer to pursue her interests in that environment. He expected it was only his circumstances and her willingness to help him that had caused their interactions to happen outside of that.

  He could live with being hers just at The Zone, right? Maybe that would keep him more manageable.

  He ignored the instant yeah right total bullshit call that went through his brain. And pushed away the thought that the club itself, all the stimulation and choices, might have sometimes helped set him off. He was trying to protect himself, he knew it. He could see himself laying the bricks, each negative thought the slap of the mortar.

  He needed to stop thinking, fast. Yet as he thought of life going forward without her in the near future--or as just one of her subs at The Zone--he had a sinking feeling it wouldn't take him long to revert to what he'd been. He'd be back to where he started within a few months.

  He needed her to keep him on the straight and narrow. Which sucked, because he'd always refused to be dependent on anyone. And she didn't deserve a man who couldn't be a man on his own two feet.

  Something had happened to him all those months ago, when he learned his father would be executed. A vital coping mechanism had snapped, and he couldn't seem to pull the cables back together again. It didn't seem possible to go forward the way he had been, even if he could go back to being just an advanced-level sub, rather than a destructive one. She'd said it herself. Locked down wasn't a healthy long term solution.

  "So Marius is thinking about adopting a pet while we're in New Orleans," Regina said. "We're going to visit Dale's place."

  "That's great," Peter said, as Dana made a noise of approval. "We adopted a pair of Jack Russell terrier mixes last year. They're terrors. Scared the bejesus out of me the first week I had them. I thought they'd be fine running around the property without much supervision while I was working on my boat engine. They cornered a fifteen-foot alligator. Tough little bastards. Stayed just out of range, running around him like a pair of ants bugging a bumble bee. Totally ignoring me when I was shouting at them and trying to figure out what to do to distract the alligator. Fortunately, he wasn't hungry enough to go on the attack. He just got annoyed and went back into the marsh."

  "Peter was ready to jump in and wrestle the alligator, but he knew the dogs would try to help. He doesn't know how to handle someone who ignores his commands," Dana teased. "And who's impervious to his punishments."

  "Unlike a sub who ignores my commands to get the punishments."

  She dimpled, unrepentant, and directed another question to Marius. "What are you thinking you'd like to adopt?"

  He kept his head back, his eyes half closed as Regina stroked him. "I've thought about a chocolate lab. A buddy of mine has one, and it's real loyal and friendly. Sleeps with him."

  Regina's nails scraped him as she added demand to her touch. He wondered if she'd just visualized what he had, him sleeping on the pallet on her floor.

  "If you're in NOLA through Sunday, you could come to our morning service," Dana suggested to Regina. "We have an awesome Sunday morning crowd. Some of the local at-risk kids have been visiting, because our choir rocks the house. Traditional favorites mixed with Christian covers of popular Motown, that type of thing. Our lead singer is a twelve-year-old girl who can bring tears to your eyes. There's a potluck afterward, and you will eat enough to last you a week. Plus take home doggy bags." She smiled in Marius's direction. "Maybe for your real life new dog."

  "Yeah, maybe." Regina's fingertips slid over his jaw again as he answered the blind woman. "I've just started looking. Probably won't get anyone right now."

  "That's what everyone says when they go to an animal shelter," Peter warned. "You don't choose them. They choose you. And then you're in a relationship for life."

  "Kind of like how you chose me," Dana teased him. She tried to pinch Peter, but he caught her wrist and gave it a squeeze.

  "If I remember correctly, you threw yourself at me and I had no choice at all."

  Regina huffed out a laugh. "That is such a lie, Peter Winston. The K&A Doms have a distinct reputation. When they see the woman one of them wants, they go after her like a pack of wolves. Good thing for them every one of those women have proven themselves to be she-wolves, able to hold their own with you overbearing bastards."

  "Typical Mistress," Peter noted. "Demonstrating a complete lack of understanding of a Master's technique."

  "What technique? Pull out your club, whack her on the head and drag her back to your cave, then wake her up to make you dinner?"

  Dana chuckled. "That backfired on Matt. Savannah couldn't cook to save her life."

  "That's all right. She's CEO of her own company," Regina pointed out. "She can pay for an army of cooks to keep him fat and happy."

  "Marius, I need some male solidarity here," Peter said.

  Marius grinned and brushed his lips over Regina's knee, curling his fingers around her calf. "I'm at her mercy. I take the fifth out of pure cowardly self-preservation."

  Regina tugged his hair as they chuckled. "Smart boy."

  Dana cocked her head. The sunglasses she wore disguised the motionless state of her filmy green eyes, but the movements of her head and body suggested she was looking toward both Regina and Marius. "The vibes coming off the two of you are wonderfully strong. You should think about keeping him, Regina. And Marius, you should think about being kept."

  Her toes curled into Marius's knees playfully, her smile seemingly intended for him.
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  "She never behaves for long, does she?" Regina said to Peter, humor in her voice. She asked him something about his job, and the conversation continued.

  Marius figured her intent was to move them off the subject. Maybe for his own comfort, but maybe she'd changed the subject for her own comfort as well.

  Dana had made an impulsive observation, no harm intended. However, the light smile on Regina's face as she moved on bugged him. She'd neither accepted nor denied. It shouldn't bother him; maybe wouldn't have, if he hadn't been chewing on the same issue. That pallet on the floor was a temporary thing. Not a permanent home for him.

  Dana leaned forward, speaking low to avoid disrupting Peter and Regina's conversation. "Hey, I didn't mean to put you on the spot. You both feel happy. I'm glad for you."

  "Yeah. She's been good to me. Patient. I appreciate her helping me deal with some shit," he said.

  He hadn't felt the anger today. Hadn't missed it, yet here it was, a familiar enemy, closest thing he had to a friend. What was he doing on this plane with Regina and her rich buddies? He didn't really know these people. They moved in the same circles as he did inside a BDSM club, but outside of it they were out of his league, as much as Tyler was. When Regina was done with him, he'd either be her success, able to behave within The Zone boundaries, or a lost cause, forgotten and shut out in the cold.

  He moved away from Dana, pulling his knees up to his chest, readjusting so his arms were linked over them. It straightened him up so he was no longer leaning against Regina's leg, either, though her hand still rested on his nape.

  "She's getting a good deal out of it, even if I completely fuck up," he said matter-of-factly. "Cock-on-demand until she kicks me to the curb. Or until I say fuck it and take my business to a club that's not populated by too many overly sensitive Mistresses who can't handle their shit. Regina's different. She can hold her own with an asshole like me and get some benefit out of it."

  Stop talking. Stop. His mouth ignored his cringing mind. "But you said it. I'm a project. She can hand me back when she's done with me, lucky her. She's not looking at someone like me to get what you two have. What you have is the unicorn, though, isn't it? She deserves that, so I don't really know why she's wasting her fucking time with me, but maybe I'm better than doing nothing until the right guy comes along."

  Dana's expression had moved from contrition to startled dismay. Somewhere along the way, big surprise, he'd caught the attention of both Doms, their conversation coming to a screeching halt. That was fine. He was on his feet and moving away.

  There wasn't far to go, just through the partition that led to the conference room and the bathroom in the back. He was going in the right direction. He could shut himself in the bathroom until the plane landed, containing any more poison spewing out of his mouth. But he didn't make it that far. He stopped at one of the oval windows and stared at the clouds against a blue sky. Christ, he was up so high. Yet why did he feel like a leaden weight was holding him down?

  He thought of the other night in the hotel room, the struggle between darkness and light, and how she'd brought him into the light. But the sun didn't really care about anyone specifically, did it? It shone because that was what it was designed to do. At the end of the day, it set and the darkness came. It always came.

  He heard her come up behind him. He deserved to be Tasered, but in the absence of that, she might slap him, reprimand him for his abominable manners, all of which he'd deserve and which would feel worse than a far harsher physical punishment.

  Instead, she put her hand on his shoulder and pressed. She wanted him back on his knees. He thought about resisting, but he didn't really want to fight with her. When he complied, sinking down, she kept him going until his palms and knees were on the floor. She sat down on the platform his back provided, using him as her chair, her hand clamped on his neck.

  "As nice as those seats are, I think I prefer this one. If I was a petite thing like Dana, I could stay here for quite some time."

  "Stay as long as you want, Mistress," he muttered. "I can handle it."

  "I know you can. But I value your strong, beautiful back. It looks like we're going so slow, just drifting through the sky. When I was little and went on my first plane ride, I wondered why we never saw flocks of birds flying alongside us, and then my mother told me how fast we were going. She said the only thing that could keep up with us was a dragon, so I should keep my eye out for one of those, and draw what I thought it would look like. It was a way to keep me occupied and not nervous during the flight. But I was never nervous. Just like you. I liked the expression on your face when we took off."

  She rose, stepping away as if she was going to sit in one of the conference room chairs. He curled his hand around the ankle of her boot, bringing her up short. She wore dressy, sharp-heeled boots under the slacks, much more delicate than what she wore for the club. He loved her Domme wear, but these looked damn good on her.

  He held on, the side of his face against her knee. She'd tell him to let go and punish him for the infraction. Maybe that was what he was going for. Normally, it would be.

  She pulled a chair closer and sat. Though he had to accommodate the motion, it left the leg in his grip. She'd picked up something off the table. A quiet snick and tap on his shoulder with it told him it was a thin metal pointer she'd telescoped out to its full length.

  "You behaved badly toward our host's sub," she said mildly.

  "Yeah. Yes, Mistress. My mouth isn't always that smart."

  "Actually, I think your smart mouth is what gets you in trouble." There was wry humor in her voice. "But you will go apologize to her Master, and make amends as he requires. After I remind you how to properly behave when you are in my company, representing your Mistress with your conduct. The other night it was as much about enjoying the flex of your beautiful ass as it was about teaching you to ask before you put on your clothes. But this is different. This is like when you kissed me when I was on the phone. You've disappointed me. You know it, don't you?"

  He nodded, his throat tight. "I didn't want to fuck today up. I really didn't."

  A long pause, then she spoke, her voice neutral. "You haven't. You fucked up a few minutes ago, and I've told you how to make it right. First you'll take the punishment." Her tone stayed reproving, but her touch on his back was oddly gentle. "Open the belt and the jeans from your current position. Then put both elbows on the floor. Don't do anything else."

  This wasn't a scene, a game. Her next words plucked that feeling right out of his head and gave it a shape.

  "For many Doms and subs, any interaction, whether punishment or play, falls within the structure of a scene, an agreed power exchange, which keeps it at some level a game that can be called off with a safe word. I've never asked you for a safe word, have I? Because I know you've been playing a game for so long, that's the last thing you need. You need to belong to someone. If true ownership of another person was permitted, that's what you'd prefer. I know that, know it terrifies you and that's why you keep fighting.

  "Belonging to someone you can trust would be a safety net for you, a cell from which you could handle the world in a way you've never been able to handle it. Very few people understand the complexity and simplicity of that need you possess so deeply inside. But I feel it, I do. Which makes you a lucky man, because I have absolutely no problem with owning your ass, head to toe, heart, body and soul."

  Gripping the back of his loosened jeans, she tugged them and the dark briefs off his ass with one strong jerk that almost pulled him off his elbows. She pressed her knee between his shoulder blades as she took a firm grip on his hair. "If that's what you need to find yourself, then you'll consider yourself mine. You know how to bear pain, because the pain has always been part of the game. This isn't a game. This is punishment, because you failed to meet my expectations. It doesn't change how I feel about you, how much I care about you or want you. And yes, I do care about you. Three. Count them off."

  Three wasn'
t so bad. What was bad was the roiling knot of emotions her words were creating in him. He'd let her down. She meant that. She--

  Holy fucking Christ. Being struck by something like a broken off car antenna was painful as shit. He sucked in a breath, and barely remembered what she'd ordered.

  "One." When he muttered an expletive, she hit him again, with just enough of a pause for the pain of the first strike to clear the field so he could fully feel the next one on the opposite ass cheek.

  "Two." Fuck, that hurt.

  The third landed on the juncture between thighs and buttocks.

  "Three," he said hoarsely. He could handle pain, he could. So why did this hurt so much?

  "Okay," she said briskly. "Pull your pants back up, then come and apologize."

  She dropped a kiss on his sore butt, snicked the pointer closed and placed it on the table. Then she left the room with a no-nonsense stride.

  He pushed himself back to his heels and got to his feet, using the chair to pull himself up. As he tugged the jeans back over his smarting ass and tucked himself back in, adjusting things and buckling the belt, he saw his fingers were shaking. What the hell... He raked his fingers through his hair, rubbed them over his face, and went into the bathroom to stare at himself in the mirror. A man with a cruel broken mouth and stark gray eyes looked back at him.

  What would she do if he didn't comply? If he said screw it and just hung out back here until the plane landed? He'd never get back into The Zone. That was her leverage over him. Wasn't it?

  Looking into a mirror made the truth even harder to avoid. He'd lashed out at the idea that he was just a project. But him complying just to get what he wanted from her, a favorable re-application to The Zone, pretty much made him a whore, right?

  Unless he went in there and apologized because he'd been an ass, and because he'd disappointed her and he didn't like that feeling, fuck The Zone.