I flopped onto the couch, feeling quite undignified but also fatigued enough not to concern myself over it. Graham was at work and I wasn’t scheduled for a shift at the store, so I was granted the day with my beautiful daughter.
Klara, on the other hand, had come down with a spring cold. As a result, she’d been fussing for most of the night. I had maybe gotten four hours of sleep, and Klara had gotten even less. Now, she had managed to tire herself enough for a precious nap, which I was planning to take full advantage of. I turned the volume on the monitor up all the way, so I wouldn’t sleep though her fussing when she awoke, and promptly fell asleep.
“John! Wake up!” I was awakened by an obtrusive shoving. I peeked my eyes open and saw Bree hovering over me, an almost manic look of excitement plastered on her face.
“Christ Bree,” I said, rubbing my eyes, “How the hell did you get in here?”
“Graham said the key was under the frog in the garden,” she said confidently, pulling me up to a seated position and plopping down next to me.
“He knows you’re here?” I said, wondering why he hadn’t informed me of Bree’s visit.
“At this exact moment, no. I told him I needed to grab something while you were both at work yesterday.”
I sighed grumpily, “You know I adore you, my dear, but what is the purpose of your visit?”
“It’s Graham’s birthday tomorrow!” Bree exclaimed, practically bouncing on the couch cushions.
“Yes, I am aware. Although I don’t see the connection between my nap being interrupted and his living another year.”
“We have to plan a party for him, and I’m here to help you.”
The idea of not only planning a party, but also attending one in my exhausted state, was extremely unpleasant. But Bree seemed set on celebrating, and it was the first of Graham’s birthdays that we would celebrate together.
“I take it you already have a plan?” I said, deciding to humor her.
“Partially, yes. I was thinking we could have it be a surprise. You can distract him all day while Roger and I set up a little family party here. I take it you guys are probably too tired for a full blown evening, but just our families and a birthday cake would be nice.
I contemplated Bree’s suggestion. A small gathering would be nice, and I hadn’t seen Roger or Jemmy in a while. Plus, a day out with Graham sounded perfect after the week we’d had. “Sounds lovely, Bree.”
“So, what did you get him? You did get him a gift, right?”
I rolled my eyes and grinned, “You are aware that some traditions pre-date the 20th century, right?”
“Shush, you know what I meant. So what is it?’
I stood up and retrieved the gift from its hiding place behind the bookshelf. “It’s not much, really. It’s the only photograph I’ve ever taken.”
The photograph had been captured with one of Graham’s film cameras. I had taken it and gotten it developed without him knowing- a photo of him and Klara just after her birth. I had left the house to run a few errands and came back to find him sleeping in his recliner with a tiny Klara curled up on his chest. Despite generally being unphotogenic in his sleep, the content look of love and peacefulness managed to shine through even in his slumber; it was quite a handsome expression. A small strand of hair had fallen cutely over his forehead and one of his fingers was encapsulated by Klara’s tiny fist. Her eyes were open and she was looking up at him, the blue orbs peering at him curiously.
I had had a frame made for the photo, carved out of wood that would go nicely in his home office, which he had been complaining had too much empty wall space but had yet to purchase decorations for. I explained all of this to Bree, who had taken the frame from me and was admiring it on the couch.
“This is absolutely perfect, John. I would have killed to have a picture like this when Jemmy was an infant. And he doesn’t know you took it?”
“I’m pretty confident he was fully asleep when it was taken. Originally, Klara had been asleep too, but my fumbling with the camera woke her up.”
Bree grinned, “I think I like it this way better. I can wrap it for you tomorrow and you can give it to him at dinner. He’s going to love it.”
“Do you think it’s enough?” I asked, not sure what constituted a proper gift in this time.
“I would think so,” Bree said, “But if you want to get something else, something risque never hurts.”
“Risque? Would that be appropriate?” I asked, somewhat shocked at Bree’s transparency.
“Of course, but only if you think he would like it. Has he mentioned anything?”
I blushed, causing Bree to chuckle. “I take that as a yes. It’s a nice gesture if it’s something you’re comfortable with.”
I thought for a moment, trying to find a way to respond to such a topic, which was something I would have never expected to discuss with Bree of all people. Graham had mentioned having some interests in that regard before, and at this point I was certainly open to exploring them. “I know what he likes, but I have no idea what to buy.”
“There’s a place about 10 minutes from here that Alyssa took me to. It has all kinds of things related to all types of intimacy. You two could go together.”
I let Graham sleep in the next morning, partially so that he would have enough energy to get through the day and also because it was his birthday. I turned off the baby-monitor in our room so that he would sleep through the process of getting Klara ready to “spend the day” at the Mackenzies. They would just wind up bringing her back to the house after we left, but Graham was not aware of that.
Brianna arrived while I was in the process of making Graham a mug of coffee to pick up Klara. The stir woke Graham, who came down the stairs groggily.
“Happy birthday, sleepy head!” Brianna said cheerfully. Graham smiled and hugged her from the side, careful not to crush Klara. He then followed her outside to help move the car seat from his car to Bree’s.
“I made you coffee,” I said as he came back inside.
“Thank you, darling,” he kissed my cheek and took a sip. “So, where are we going today?” He asked, cocking an eyebrow.
“Wouldn’t you like to know,” I replied. I had plans to take him to a few places, all of which were surprises. We were going to walk and take public transport so that Graham wouldn’t know where we were going.
Graham finished his coffee and we were finally able to leave the house. Luckily, we made it out by 10am, which was when Bree had said they would return and start getting ready. Our first stop was a small breakfast establishment where Graham and I had gone on occasion. Plus, it was conveniently located only a few blocks from the store that Bree had mentioned.
I was nervous, to say the least. I had no idea what shops like that in this time sold. I had a vague notion, based off of what I had seen and experienced in the 18th century. Many brothels had sexual objects of various sorts, and I had experienced my fair share of them at Lavender House.
“Are you okay?” I heard Graham ask. I blinked and he put down his coffee, a look of concern spreading over his face.
“Of course I am,” I said, forcing a smile.
“John, what is it?”
“It’s nothing, really. Eat your eggs before they get cold.”
He ceased his interrogation into my well-being, but I could see in his eyes that he was still worried. I tried to keep the conversation lighthearted as we finished our meal, but the butterflies in my stomach continued to grow in veracity.
We finished eating and paid for the meal, stepping out onto the sidewalk. The spring air helped clear my mind a bit, and we walked in the direction of the shop. The sidewalks were busy, but Graham still reached for my hand. I took it and tried to ignore the occasional stares.
Graham started laughing about a block away from the shop. “John, are you taking me to Deep Satin?”
“You’re familiar with it?”
“Yes, I am, but I wouldn’t have guessed that you were.” He stopped walking and nodded towards a bench, “C’mere.”
I sat with him, feeling a bit awkward. He didn’t seem that way, but instead had a sweet look in his eyes. “Darling, I’m thrilled that you feel comfortable enough to explore some potentially new things with me. But don’t you want to talk about it a bit first?”
My eyes widened, “Not here,” I whispered, gesturing to the people passing by on the sidewalk.
“I understand. We don’t have to go if you don’t want to. You just seem nervous and I’m worried.”
I shook my head, “No, I genuinely want to um… learn more about your interests.” I tried to censor myself as a woman walked by. “And I’ve explored some of my own in the past. I just am not sure what it entails in the 20th century.”
Graham stood and held out his hand for me to take. “I’ll show you then.”
The shop was quite discreet. There was no signage indicative of the nature of items sold there and the windows were curtained. Someone uninterested in the shop would probably never think twice about it.
We walked in, Graham still holding my hand. The walls were lined with a myriad of products, some of which I was familiar with and others less so. There were paddles, whips, and leather restraints decorating one side of the store. The other seemed dedicated to dildos. I had seen my fair share of them in my own time, but none that looked quite like this. Some were brightly colored, others were more realistic looking, and even more exhibited non-phallic shapes.
“What are those?” I asked Graham, gesturing to a shelf full of large objects that appeared to have handles. One end consisted of a smooth spherical shape, which was connected to a handle that had an electrical cord attached to it.
“Those are vibrators, usually used for stimulation,” Graham explained matter-of-factly.
“Ah,” I said, clearing my throat. I could feel myself blushing. “See anything that strikes your fancy?”
Graham nodded and led me towards the first wall, which displayed various paddles and whips. He picked up a medium-sized paddle that appeared to have a smooth side and a side with rounded notches on it. “Ever used one of these?”
“Not in the context you’re thinking of. I’ve seen a lot of these items being used in some capacity, both sexually and not, but I suppose the only one I have experienced personally with a sexual partner is this.” I removed one of the whips from the wall. “I suppose the context wasn’t explicitly sexual, but I was curious as to what it would feel like. Although the one I used was much longer.”
“Did you enjoy it?” Graham asked, examining one himself.
“For a few lashes. Although it became a bit too painful when it broke the skin.”
Graham raised an eyebrow, “Damn, he must have been hitting you hard. That wouldn’t happen with this one. It’s designed to inflict pain without damaging the skin too much.”
I nodded, appreciative of Graham’s patience in explaining everything. “I’ve never used a whip on someone under such circumstances myself, but I would be willing to try.”
Graham smiled, “I think that could be a good starting point. Here, why don’t you go wait outside while I grab a couple of other things?”
“But it’s a gift for you, I should be the one to pay.”
He leaned over and kissed me sweetly, “Your interest and lack of judgment are all I could have ever asked for. The least I can do is get the supplies.”
I nodded and left him to finish making the purchase. The shop had been a bit overwhelming, but I was glad to have taken this next step with Graham. He had told me when we went to the Cape that he enjoyed incorporating pain into sex, but he had also wanted to wait until I was ready to move on past basic scratching and biting. I had been ready for a while now, and was consequently excited that we had been able to finally open the discussion.
“Where to next?” Graham asked, shopping bag in-hand.
“Well, you have a choice. The first option is to go see that new film, the one you mentioned about that musician.”
“Buddy Holly?” Graham chuckled.
“Yes, that’s the one. Or, depending on the mood you’re in after Deep Satin, I also got us a hotel room.”
Graham’s eyes widened. “I don’t think I’ve ever had to choose between two things that are completely different,” he laughed.
“There is an afternoon showing of the film, so we could still see it today.”
Graham shook his head, “Buddy Holly can wait,” he said excitedly, “I want us to be able to take our time.”
“Come and sit by me,” Graham said, patting a spot on the bed in front of him. He was sitting cross-legged, the bag of items from Deep Satin next to him.
I sat across from him and he took my hands in his. “There are some things I want to discuss before anything happens.”
I nodded, somewhat confused by Graham’s gentleness given the circumstances. “What do you wish to discuss?”
“Just some things to ensure we both enjoy ourselves and feel safe. I know you said you have some experience, but this is probably going to be more intense than what you’ve described to me.”
I understood his meaning and nodded. “I know, I’m ready.”
“There are a few things we need to establish. First, a safe word. If at any point you want to stop or you have a question, just say ‘red,’ got it?”
“Alright, that sounds simple enough.”
“Good. And the other thing is I just want to ask you how you’re feeling. I’m going to ask as we go, but I’m asking now too.”
I hadn’t expected there to be so many precautions. I’d seen people engage in these types of activities, but it rarely had any forethought. Graham’s seriousness was making me a bit uneasy. “To be honest, I’m a bit nervous. And I’m worried that I’m not quite sure what to do.”
Graham nodded and gave my hands a squeeze. “You have nothing to be scared of, darling. You can change your mind at any time. Perhaps this time I can be the one whipping you? It might make you feel more knowledgeable about doing it to me.”
Graham’s suggestion made sense, and I felt a bit less nervous. I had an idea as to what it would feel like, having been flogged before. And this way I would have a better concept of how it would work in this dynamic. “Yes, I think I would prefer that.”
‘Perfect,” Graham said, “Now, I bought some other things, restraints and some blindfolds, but I think that we should save those for another time. Let’s just get used to the whip first, yeah?”
I nodded and Graham withdrew the whip from the bag. It was black and sleek, and the sight of it made me feel an odd sort of excitement.
“Let’s go slowly, figure out our boundaries.”
I nodded again and Graham put the whip on the bed, kissing me lightly. “Are you ready?”
“Yes, I’m ready.”
Graham began to unbutton my shirt, running his hands across the skin of my back. He pulled it off of my shoulders, and kissed my neck. The arousal budded inside of me and Graham reached down to cup me. “Mmm, good,” he hummed, “Let’s finish getting you undressed, babe.”
He pulled off my belt and my trousers, dropping them to the floor before pulling off his own. I could see how hard he was under his boxers and felt a small amount of satisfaction. He kissed me again, pulling at the waist of my own undergarment until it too had been shed from me. “Now, bend over slightly and put your hands on the footboard.”
I did as he said, immediately feeling more vulnerable.
“How are you feeling?” he asked softly, running his hands over my back.
“I’m okay,” I said truthfully. The anticipation was beginning to frustrate me slightly, but it also made the prospect of the whip much more enticing. I was fully aroused now, and I noticed Graham glance at my cock.
He smiled, “You certainly seem ready.” I picked the whip up, slashing it through the air. It was a bit quieter than the ones that were used for punishment in the 18th century, probably due to the material and shorter length, but it still made a small cracking noise. “I’m going to count to three, and then hit your back. I’ll start softly and add force with each hit. Tell me when it’s to your liking. Ready?”
He counted to three and I felt the familiar sting across my back. I grunted at the impact and braced for the next one. The pain was certainly tolerable, but it was compounded on with every lash.
I couldn’t help but moan on the fifth lash, the pain spreading a pleasant heat across my skin that caused my cock to throb.
“Fuck babe, do you want me to do it again?” Graham asked. I could hear the desire in his voice.
“Please,” I groaned. He did, eliciting another wave of heat. He persisted with a steady stream of lashes, each one compounding on the sensation left behind by the one before it.
Graham paused, bending over me so I could feel his cock pressing against my arse. “Those red marks look so fucking sexy,” he whispered, trailing a finger down them. He bent over and whispered in my ear, “Are you enjoying yourself?”
“Christ, yes,” I whispered back. I had been worried I wouldn’t, but now I knew that my experience with Percy had been more than mere curiosity.
Graham pulled me upright and turned me around, running his fingernails over my sensitive back as he kissed me. I moaned into his mouth and he brought his arms under my buttocks, picking me up before depositing me onto the bed.
He procured lube from the bag and hovered over me as he prepped, his precum dripping onto the lower part of my stomach. “You did such a good job, darling,” he whispered, as he slid on the condom and pressed into me.
“Fuck, Graham,” I moaned. He wasn’t being gentle, and I loved it. He pounded into my prostate, rolling his hips as he thrusted in order to apply maximum pressure. I grabbed a fistful of his hair and he moaned gutterally.
I felt myself getting close and arched my back. “Not yet,” Graham whispered into my ear, wrapping an arm underneath my arched back and pulling upwards so I was hovering over his lap as he thrust into me. He gracefully maneuvered our connected bodies off of the bed and pushed my back against the wall. I could feel the chill of the wall against the hot, sensitive skin on my back. The need to orgasm was painful and I buried my head in Graham’s shoulder.
He quickened the pace even more, now making it nearly impossible for me not to orgasm. I gasped, “Graham, I can’t-”
“Go ahead babe,” he whispered seductively.
I threw my head back against the wall and moaned as I released, spilling all over his chest. I felt him throb within me as he too reached his climax. We rode out the pleasurable high and Graham placed me gently against the bed before heading into the bathroom to clean up.
I laid on the bed, gasping for breath. The experience had been intoxicating, and I could still feel the stinging of the whip on my back.
Graham re-emerged from the bathroom with a glass of water and handed it to me, then pulled his underwear back on and tossed me my own. He reached into the bag and pulled out what appeared to be massage oil, pouring a small amount into his palm.
“C’mere, darling. Take a deep breath.”
“What are you doing,” I asked as he rubbed my shoulders and back. I certainly wasn’t complaining, although this wasn’t something he had done before.
“Just helping you come down after an intense experience, just relax and talk to me.”
“About what?” I asked, relaxing into his touch.
“About what you liked, didn’t like. How you feel and what you need.”
I smiled at his sweetness. “I hadn’t been sure how much I would like it before we started, but I enjoyed everything about it. Although,”
Graham swiveled around to look at my face, “What is it? Are you okay?”
“Yes,” I reassured him, “just at the end, when you told me not to finish. I don’t know, I guess there’s some pain I like, but I’m not sure how I felt about that. I’m sorry,”
Graham nodded, “Don’t apologize, darling. That’s the kind of thing I need to know. I’m glad you told me. Do you need anything?”
“Well, perhaps a shower now,” I laughed, feeling the slickness of my back.
“Of course, let me help you.”
We decided to stay in for a late lunch, ordering room service and spreading the trays of food over the bed.
“Good thing we don’t have to sleep on these sheets tonight. They’ll be filled with crumbs,” I laughed.
“Well, technically we could. I’m sure Bree and Roger would be happy to kidnap Klara for the whole night.”
I shook my head, trying to be casual in my response as to not alert him of the reason we had to go home. “Your gift is at the house. I’d rather be able to give it to you on your birthday than waiting for tomorrow.”
“I thought you just gave me my gift?” Graham said, winking. I threw a “french fry” in his general direction and he caught it in his mouth.
“You honestly though my entire birthday gift to you would be sex?” I asked curiously.
“Well, it wouldn’t be the first time. I don’t know, a lot of the guys I’ve been in relationships with would only really engage in BDSM on special occasions. But even then I didn’t enjoy it, since I wouldn’t want them to feel obligated.”
I nodded, understanding his meaning. I hadn’t heard the term ‘BDSM’ before, but I felt pretty confident in being able to infer its general definition after what I had just experienced with Graham. “How did you discover what you liked about it if you never had partners who were as enthusiastic?”
“Well, I’ve had sex with a lot more people than I have been in relationships with, if you get my meaning.” He looked up at me, gauging my reaction.
“Me too,” I said, and he smiled. “And just to be clear, I enjoyed today.”
“You have no idea how happy it makes me that you’re even the smallest bit interested.” Graham reached over and stole another french fry from my plate, despite having a pile on his own. He eyed me mischievously.
“Don’t even think about it,” I said, raising an eyebrow. He looked at me innocently and picked up a fry from his own plate, attempting to lure me into a false sense of security. I anticipated his quick reach for another one and caught his arm, pulling him to the side of the bed and onto the floor before straddling his stomach and pinning his wrists down.
“Relinquish the fry,” I said sternly. Graham squirmed beneath me, clearly intent on freeing an arm and devouring his stolen good. Despite my best efforts, he was quite a bit larger than me, managing to send me onto my side and popping the fry into his mouth.
“How dare you?” I gasped and tried to hold back a smile.
The lights inside the house were off when we finally made it home in the evening. I had promised Bree we would make it back by 6, and we were only about five minutes late.
“So, what did you get me?” Graham asked as we approached the door.
“You will find out soon enough.” I said, unlocking the door. The lights turned on as we walked in and the MacKenizes popped out from their hiding places. Graham jumped beside me, but quickly recovered from the shock and laughed.
“Surprise!” Jemmy yelled, flinging himself at Graham.
“Thanks, kiddo,” Graham said, a smile spreading across his face as he embraced Jemmy. “It smells amazing in here.”
“Mommy and I made chicken,” Jem announced proudly, tugging Graham’s arm and leading him into the kitchen. The walls had been draped with various decorations and there were odd floating objects attached to the chairs. I stared at them, trying to decipher just how they managed to remain suspended in the hair.
“It’s called a balloon,” Roger said quietly beside me. “They are filled with a gas called helium that is less dense than air, so they float. Just like how a ship floats on water. The air the boat inside is less dense than the water, so it holds up the wooden exterior. The helium holds up the rubber exterior of the balloon.”
Conceptually, Roger’s explanation made sense. Despite this, I was still slightly unsettled by the floating orb behind me as I sat down.
We chatted jovially as we ate, each of us trying to avoid the subject of what was going to occur in 5 months. Discussion of such things generally seemed to make Graham nervous, an understandable reaction, and probably would have soured his happy demeanor. Still, I couldn’t help but think that the next of Graham’s birthdays we celebrated would take place in 1779.
Eventually, the gathering was moved into the living room. Klara was suckling her bottle in my arms, her eyes beginning to droop the way they did when bedtime was approaching. "Getting sleepy, sweetpea?" Graham whispered, rubbing a thumb over her hand.
Roger left the room for a moment and re-emerged with a couple of gifts in-hand, each expertly wrapped by Bree. "Open this one first," Bree pointed to a small leather parcel.
Graham unfasted the ribbon holding the bag shut and examined the contents. His eyes widened and he poured out five small gemstones, as well as a fair amount of 18th century coin. "Bree, you didn't have to, truly," he said sincerely.
"Well, it wasn't as though they'd be of much use here," she responded sweetly.
"Plus, the two gemstones ye dinna use to get through the stones will fetch a fair price once you're through," Roger added. He was right. Despite their smaller size, they were a fine cut and color. "Ye'll need it for food and lodgings when you're on the road, especially with a bairn."
Graham nodded, "Thank you, it really is a relief to know we won't be empty-handed." He stood up and bent down to hug Bree. He had been unnerved slightly, but I could still see a small amount of relief in his eyes.
"Roger and Jem got you something too," Bree said.
Graham removed the paper to reveal a decently large satchel, which appeared to have a locking mechanism on the front. It was clearly modern, given the design of the lock and the newness of the leather, but it could still pass in the 18th century. "You can use it for work if ye like,” Roger suggested, “And it will be nice to have something secure to carry your valuables in once you're through the stones."
"It's lovely, thank you. It will definitely be coming to work with me on Monday."
"Open it!" Jemmy said excitedly.
"The combination is Klara's birthday," Roger explained.
Graham did as he was told and withdrew a folded sheet of paper with a drawing of the six of us on the front and the words "Happy Birthday Uncle Graham" in bright red across the inside of the card.
"Oh, this looks wonderful! This is the best birthday card I've ever gotten, kiddo. Thank you," he gave Jemmy's hair a ruffle and smiled. "I'll put it on my desk upstairs."
The last gift was the one from me. I suddenly felt nervous, despite feeling fairly confident that Graham would be pleased with it.
He pulled the frame out of the wrapping carefully and his face softened when the photo was revealed.
"Oh, John," he strained. I could hear the emotion in his voice and he turned to me. His eyes were glassy, but he was smiling. "You took this?"
I nodded, "Right after we brought her home from the hospital."
He sniffled and leaned in for a short kiss, "I love it, and I love you. Thank you, darling."