The master, p.16
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       The Master, p.16

         Part #8 of Submissive series by Tara Sue Me
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  However, stepping into the sitting room and seeing it prepared struck her with another reality: when faced with an imminent punishment, knowing she’d done something more painful really didn’t matter. She took deep breaths, told herself she was strong enough for this, and walked toward the waiting chair.

  Cole would be in the room in about five minutes. When she first read that, she thought it would be much too long of a wait. Now she thought it wasn’t long enough. The absolute worst thing she could do was not be in position when he entered.

  She wiped her palms on the dress. “Screw my nerves. I can do this.”

  Shutting out any thought to the contrary, she bent over the chair, flipped her skirt up, and placed her forearms on the bottom seat cushion. Fuck, this is embarrassing.

  Then her eyes fell on the cane, displayed so she couldn’t miss seeing it, and suddenly she wasn’t embarrassed anymore, but acutely aware of what was going to happen. Her fingers gripped the chair’s edge, fingernails scratching the wood

  He came into the room quietly. Loud enough so she would know he was there, but not loud enough to startle her. Odd, but his presence somehow calmed her down. His footsteps echoed as he walked to stand in her line of sight and then he stripped his jacket off and rolled up his sleeves.

  There was nothing said as he took the cane and moved behind her. But she jerked when he placed an unexpected hand on the small of her back.

  “You’re doing great,” he said in a low voice. “You can take the rest.”

  She felt more like she could when he said it.

  His hand slipped to lightly stroke her backside once and then he commanded, “Count.”

  The first stroke hurt just as bad as she imagined it would, and she had to take several deep breaths before she choked out, “One.”

  The second landed right above the first and felt just as painful. His protocol required her silence outside of counting as well as her stillness. She bit the inside of her cheek to hold back the yelp desperate to get out, instead saying only, “Two.”

  His statement that not being bound would reinforce her submissiveness was the absolute truth. It was only the strength of his will and her desire to obey him that kept her from reaching back to block the third stroke.

  Her cheeks were wet after the fourth, though she wasn’t aware of crying. Her backside felt like it was on fire and she gave serious thought to safewording. The two remaining strokes might as well have been two hundred, as she couldn’t imagine them landing on her sensitive flesh.

  There was a ragged intake of breath from behind her and she realized Cole was fighting his own battle. She wanted to prove him right about being ready, so she forced herself to relax as much as possible and willed him to continue.

  The only thing that kept her from shouting “red” after the fifth stroke was knowing there would only be one more. She panted, sobs clawing frantically to escape from her throat, and hot tears flowed freely down her cheeks.

  The last stroke was the hardest, landing diagonally across the first five. She managed to get out, “Six,” in what sounded to her like a mixture of a hiccup and a sob, and then she held her breath, squeezing her eyes tight as the pain seeped into her body. But unlike the previous five, this time she was swept up by two strong arms and carried to the couch.

  He pressed her against his chest and lightly stroked her hair. “Let it out, Sasha. It’s okay. Let it out.”

  It was as if a dam burst inside her and, at his words, she cried harder than she’d ever cried before. She buried her face against the scratchy wool of his vest and soaked the white shirt underneath. The entire time, he simply held her, stroked her hair, and murmured tenderly.

  She cried longer than she thought possible and when she finally calmed down to quiet sniffles, she realized her hands were clutching him in a death grip.

  She let go of his shirt. “Sorry, Sir.”

  “Nothing to apologize for. Do you feel better?” He took a tissue and wiped her eyes and nose.

  “Much.” She hiccupped. “I needed that.”

  “When was the last time you cried?”

  “Like that?” She shook her head. “Never.”

  “Even after Peter?”

  “I wept a little, but nothing major.” Her breathing was coming easier; her heart rate slowed. A feeling of cleansing peace came over her and filled her. She lifted her head to meet his gaze and the reason why she’d wept so little hit her. “Before today, I never felt safe enough to cry.”

  • • •

  Her softly spoken words were both his dearest dream and his worst nightmare. For while he wanted her to feel safe with him, he’d never given any thought to how emotionally attached he would be once she got to that point. It shook him how attached he was to the woman in his arms.

  “Nothing pleases me more than to hear that.” He stroked her cheek and smiled. “I am honored you trust me enough to gift me with your tears.”

  She felt so soft and inviting in his lap. How easy it would be to lower his head and taste her. But not only could he not afford to kiss her, she’d also been through an emotionally intense scene. He reached behind the couch and took the waiting orange juice.

  “Drink for me, little one,” he said, holding the straw up to her lips.

  When half the juice was gone, he fed her chocolate. Then she finished the juice and snuggled deeper into his embrace. He ground his teeth together, hoping she didn’t feel his hardening cock. He’d planned on her being sassy and insolent, but the affectionate side of her surprised him. And the combination drew him in.

  He held her for a long time before shifting her a bit. “I need to care for the welts, little one. Can I put you on your stomach here on the couch?

  She nodded lazily against his chest and he moved her as gently as possible so she was positioned on her belly with a pillow under her head.

  “I’m going to massage you,” he said. She already appeared calm and relaxed, but he massaged her back and shoulders, moving slowly toward her waist, skipping over her backside and easing any possible tension from her legs.

  Only when he was assured that she was as relaxed as possible did he take ointment and ease it over the marks he’d made. She flinched at the start, so when he finished, he went back to massaging her.

  He loved the way she felt under his hands. Soft and pliable, sighing when he touched certain places. He wanted to feel her skin on skin, nothing in between him and her body. But she was so self-conscious about her back, and he’d promised her he would wait for her to tell him when she was ready for him to see. He placed a hand on either side of her waist and started to pull the dress down.

  “Please stop,” she whispered.

  “I’m just pulling your dress down, little one, nothing more.” Surely she didn’t think he’d take the dress off.

  “I know.” She took a long breath. “Please take it off instead.”

  “Sasha . . .” he started, but didn’t know how to finish.

  “I want you to. I don’t want to hide anything from you anymore.” Her voice was pained. “Please, Sir. Touch me.”

  Calling himself every bad name he could think of, he slowly inched the dress up. He shouldn’t be doing this. She was too emotional at the moment. But she’d said please and he wanted to see her so badly. And when she’d said, “Touch me,” he was done for.

  Leaning over, he whispered in her ear, “I’ve wanted to touch you for so long. Feel you. See you.” He took the zipper pull at the top of the dress and lowered it. “Thank you, little one.”

  She pushed up on her arms, slightly lifting her chest to help and he dragged the zipper completely down and pulled the dress over her head.

  He froze when he saw her back. Covering her beautiful skin was a web of scars. His chest constricted and his breath caught in his throat. Thinking of how the scars got there—the force of the whip, the inexperience of the wielder—he shook his head.

  “Sasha, I . . . I . . .” He tentatively touched one of the larger lines.

  “Don’t tell me you’re sorry.” Her voice was pained. “Everybody says that and I hate it. Like they could have done something. Like they could have stopped it.”

  With both hands he palmed her shoulder blades. “I wasn’t going to apologize.” He lowered his head to the top of her spine and brushed his lips across the scar there. Against her skin he whispered, “I was going to say, I wish I could have taken it for you.”

  A soft gasp of surprise shook her shoulders and without giving it further thought, he trailed his lips down one long puckered line. By the time he reached the swell of her hips, her skin was covered in gooseflesh.

  “Oh, god,” she moaned.

  In response, he lifted his head and traced another scar with his finger, softly peppering kisses along the way. Taking his time, he gave each mark the same treatment, lavishing her skin with tender touches and warm kisses. When he finished, she was trembling.

  “Please,” she whispered in a coarse voice and turned slightly so she could see him. “Cole, please.”

  “Oh, Sasha.” He cupped her cheek and brought his lips down on hers. Her taste was a combination of sweet from the juice and salty from her tears. He couldn’t stop himself from pulling her closer so he could have more.

  She twisted in his arms, her own attempt to draw them closer, but she winced at the movement and he cursed his disregard of her backside.

  “Sorry, I shouldn’t have . . .” he started, pulling back.

  But her arms stopped him. “Don’t stop.” She shifted toward him again and he saw her try to cover the pain. “Please?”

  Her eyes held the look of longing he so often noticed in her expression. And how could he turn her down, this exquisite beauty who knew so much pain and asked for so little? The truth was, he didn’t want to turn her down. He wanted to hold her and bring her so much pleasure, the painful memories slid away, never to be remembered.

  He stood beside the couch, his mind decided. “Not on the couch. Let me take you to the bedroom.” She moved as if to stand, but he put a hand on her shoulder. “I said, let me take you.”

  “I can walk.”

  “And I can whistle ‘God Save the Queen,’ but that doesn’t mean I’m going to do it right this bloody second.” Before she could protest further, he gathered her in his arms and lifted her from the couch.

  She wrapped her arms around his neck and he carried her down the hall to his room. With her head tucked under his chin, he could smell the lemon mint scent of her hair. He wondered if her skin smelled the same and kissed the top of her head.

  He gave a silent prayer of thanks the house was small. Holding a naked Sasha in his arms, impatient to touch her, and curious about her smell was chipping away at his control. He joined her on the bed once he had her reclining on the middle of his mattress.

  He put a hand on either side of her head so he was leaning over her, smiling down at her. “Ah, yes, this is much better than the couch. I’ve dreamed about having you naked and in my bed.” His voice fell an octave. “And in my dreams, I always start like this.”

  He lowered his lips to her neck and started to explore her body. In the last month, he’d learned and observed so much of her. He knew of her reactions and how she responded to certain things, but naked, she was an entirely new person. From the swell of her breasts to the gentle slope of her collarbones, his fingers were hungry for the feel of her and his mouth was thirsty for her shape. Earlier in the day she gave him her tears, but now he craved her moans, her gasps of pleasure, her breathy whispers, and he took and reveled in every one.

  He kept her on the edge, not letting her fall over until he once more made his way up her body. Wanting to watch as she finally let go, he trailed his hand down her belly until his finger brushed her clit.

  “Give me your pleasure, Sasha. Let me see you come.”

  “Oh, god.” Her back arched while his finger rubbed faster and faster. “Like that.”

  “Like that or like this?” He shifted his hand so he could push a finger inside her while still working her clit and her hips lifted, trying to draw him deeper.

  She gave a loud gasp and her body froze as her internal muscles clenched around his finger. Wanting badly to keep his movements up and push her toward another orgasm, he forced himself to withdraw his fingers instead.

  Watching her come had been better than his best wet dream and his cock was uncomfortably hard, but he did his best to ignore it. He rained kisses along her neck and cheek, then turned her to her side and curved himself around her body.

  “Rest now, little one.” He engulfed her hands in his and brought them to nestle against her breast. “Let me hold you whilst you sleep.”

  He held her until her deep even breathing signaled her sleep and he realized how uncomfortable he was. He still had his suit on and while his shirt had dried from where Sasha wet it with her tears, the vest had wrinkled under his side and his shirt sleeves had ridden up his arms. Not to mention he was wide awake.

  Sasha would probably sleep until morning, so he gently pulled away and got up, covering her with a sheet when he left the bed. He stopped briefly in the bathroom to change before heading to his office to work on his research.

  His head shot up when she walked into the office some time later. Then he glanced at the clock and realized two hours had passed. Sasha looked pale and vulnerable wrapped up in the sheet she’d taken from his bed. Fuck, he wanted to rip the sheet off and pleasure her until that lost look of hers was gone forever.

  “Am I disturbing you?” she asked.

  He slipped his glasses off and put them on his desk. “No, I got caught up working. I’m sorry you woke up alone. I meant to be there.”

  She shrugged her shoulders and looked to the floor. “It’s okay.”

  “Your body language suggests differently.”

  “No, I get it. You had to work and you weren’t sleepy.” She said the words, but she still wouldn’t meet his eyes.

  “Look at me, Sasha.”

  She sighed, but lifted her head. Her eyes looked wet.

  “There now,” he said softly. “Tell me what’s wrong. Honestly.”

  Her spine straightened and she looked as if she was getting ready to tell him to fuck off when her shoulders slumped. “I thought . . . after . . . you would . . . we’d . . .”

  Damn, she was sexy when she got all flustered. He raised an eyebrow.

  “Ithoughtwe’dhavesex,” she said in a rush.

  His cock, which had been slowly stirring, shot to full attention. “Ah, I see.”

  “I mean, why only do half the job? Why stop just getting me off once? Why not”—she paused for a moment—“finish it?”

  He drummed his fingers on top of the desk. “For several reasons, actually. One, I’d just caned you and I can’t imagine you weren’t in some discomfort. Two, you were highly emotional and I didn’t want to take advantage of the situation. Three, the expectations I set out from the beginning were very clear about sex.” He pushed back from his desk. “Shall I continue?”

  “No, makes sense.” She looked back to the floor and bit her lip. “I get it.”

  “Funny.” He stood up and made his way toward her. “I don’t think you get it at all. Because if you in any way think that I didn’t have sex with you because I don’t find you desirable, or because I don’t want you, you definitely don’t get it.” He took her hand and pressed it against his erection. Dropping his head, he whispered in her ear, “I didn’t want to only do half the job. I didn’t want to stop at getting you off once. And it’s taking all my strength not to rip that sheet off your body so I can, in fact, finish it.”

  Sasha jerked her hand out of his grip, took a step backward, and in a move that left him momentarily stunned, let the sheet drop to the floor.

  Hell and damnation, she was gorgeous. She was still too thin and he feared she was still too emotional, but he wouldn’t be alive if the sight her standing before him, naked, with her head held high and that just what are you goi
ng to do about it look in her eyes didn’t turn him on.

  “Now look what you went and did,” he said in a low and even voice when he could speak again. He let a finger trace her collarbone. “You just changed the rules. I certainly hope you’re prepared to handle the ramifications.”

  Chapter Seven

  Anticipation electrified her body and every nerve ending she had was hyper aware of the man standing before her. Not just standing, though, he was taunting her, tempting her, and threatening to overtake the space, the very air, she breathed.

  “I think,” he said as he lazily traced her collarbone from one shoulder to the other, “that you have no idea what you just unleashed. You have no idea how much I’ve been holding back.” He took a step forward, further invading her space, and wrapped his hand lightly around her throat so his thumb rested in the hollow of her neck. “I’ll give you five seconds to pick that sheet up and go
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