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"Scotch on the rocks?"

I've scarcely hung my jacket on the back of my barstool before the bartender is there, reaching for a highball glass and asking if I'd like my usual. I smile and nod. "You know it."

As I take my seat, I hear the jangling of the bells above the door and crane my head to see Jasper striding in. He spots me immediately and waves. I turn back toward the bartender, but he's already smiling. "And a Sam Adams, I'm guessing?"

I laugh and agree. While he's pouring our drinks, I stand and hold my arm out to Jasper, pulling him in for a quick two-pats-on-the-back sort of man-hug.

It's our standing arrangement. Every Wednesday night, we meet here at the bar for drinks and conversation. Sometimes we watch whatever game is on, and sometimes we retreat to a booth to talk about something more important. Sometimes we hardly have to talk about anything at all.

Outside of spending time with Bella, it's the best part of my week.

Drinks in hand, we settle into our seats and make small talk about our work, our friends. Our partners.

"So how's Bella?"

"She's…" I pause, staring at my glass and frowning. It's a hesitation that encapsulates the worry that's been haunting me for weeks now. Two weeks.

The two weeks since she punished me.

The time has passed, but it feels as if it's been standing still. I can still feel the twinge of regret, the nip of plastic against my dick. The pinch of guilt. The fear.

Every time I make love to her, be it as her boyfriend or her Pet, it is with a hint of fear.


I put my glass down but keep staring into space. "She's fine. But we're…" I don't know how to explain it, but I find I want to talk about it. I want it out of my head. "We've been having some trouble."

"Really?" Jasper's concern is real, and I can tell I have his full attention. "You guys have been so solid."

We have been. Ever since we made the leap to live together, things have been smooth. Almost shockingly so. The only issues we have had have been related to my lifetime of bachelorhood and her history of living with girls. There's been friction around little things, like cleaning schedules and how we spend our time when one or the other of us wants to be alone. But nothing between us. Nothing until now.

"It'sssss…" I start, then hesitate again, deciding how to phrase this. While Jasper knows about our sex life, it's not something I feel comfortable talking about too plainly, so I couch my fears in general terms. "It's probably nothing. I just—I sc-screwed up a couple weeks ago."

"Ouch. Something big?"

"Nothing t-too major. She forgave me for it three days later." Three long, painful days. "It's mmmme, really. I can't – I can't lllet it go, you know? And now I'm wwalking on eggshells all the time, afraid I'll do it again."

I chance a glance at Jasper to find him looking pensive, the corners of his mouth twisted down. As he usually does, he turns the issue around on me. "Have you talked to her about it?"

"Ad nauseum." We really have. Over and over again, we've talked about limits and punishments and what I can and cannot handle. But as always, the problem isn't her. "I just… I d-don't know how to get beyond it, you know?"

He looks at me pointedly. "Have you told her that?"

"Maybe not in so many words…"

"Then you should. Soon. When things like this fester, they can turn into real issues."

"I know." My ribs twist with the ache that always comes with thoughts like this.

Thoughts like how we may not be able to work past it.

I drop my head into my hands and breathe out a shaky exhale. "I d-don't know what I'd do. If I lost her. She's…"

"Everything," he offers quietly.

I drop my hands to cover just my mouth and nod. "She's everything."

"Then make sure she knows that."

I do. With everything I am, I do. Every day.

And yet…

Jasper is still talking as my mind drifts to the ways we've settled in over the years, becoming comfortable with each other and our roles, both in our play and in our lives. And while I worship her every moment, I can't remember the last time I did something for her just because.

"Edward? Are you listening?"

I shake my head and refocus on him. "Sorry. I got d-distracted. You're right. I need to do a better job. Showing her what she means to me."

He smiles and pats my shoulder. "Good. But there's more to it than that."

My heart sinks. "There is?"

"For you? Yes." His expression serious, he says, slowly and deliberately, "It's not easy to forgive yourself. It takes conscious effort. It takes choosing to let it go, every time the guilt starts to nag at you. Every time."

My stomach does a little flip. "I know."

We sit in silence for a minute while we each digest what we have said. He's right, of course, and as I think about the idea of letting go, I have another flash of the moment when I earned my punishment. When I couldn't control myself.

The anxiety that comes with the guilt is a dancing heat against my skin. It makes my chest tight.

But I breathe through it. I take a sip of my scotch. And the best I can, I push the guilt away. It's out of sight. Out of mind.

But I still know that it's there.

On the way home, I stop by the all-night grocer's on a whim. The floral department is small, but it's all I'll be able to find at ten o'clock. In and amongst the sad bunches of roses and carnations, I spy a little bundle of soft-budded purple irises, their blooms just about ready to burst open.

They just need time.


I pay for them, feeling lighter than I have in days, and head home with a spring in my step. Jasper's words have opened something in my mind, and as I put my key into the lock of Bella's and my home, I let that sensation wash over me the way I did right after I moved in.

It's Bella's and my home. Our home.


I push the door open and poke my head around the corner. The living room and kitchen are empty, but the light over the stove is on, so she must be home. Probably already in bed. That thought alone has my body stirring, an eagerness to make love to her that I haven't been able to summon for weeks now. I grasp the flowers in my hand more tightly and shut the door behind me with care. Wanting to surprise her, I move silently through the apartment, toeing off my shoes and hanging up my jacket, my smile so wide.

But then, as I move into the hallway, I hear a voice. Voices.

My heart stops. I stop. For a moment, everything does.

There's a light on in the playroom, the door closed but for a crack, and for an instant I fear the worst. The absolute worst.

My Mistress loves me. My Bella loves me.

Scarcely breathing, I move to the door and peer inside, relief flooding me to find it's only her. Just her.

"I just don't know what to do!" she says, throwing her hands up in the air. She's facing away from me, staring into the closet where we keep our more interesting toys.

The digital quality of the reply is obvious now that I'm closer, and I gulp in a deep inhale as I recognize her phone, sitting on the table beside her, screen on. Speaker phone. "Slow down. Tell me everything."

It only takes a few words for me to recognize the voice as Lee's. He and Bella have remained good friends over the years, and he's been something of a mentor to her. He's who she goes to when she isn't sure about something or when she needs to talk things through. I've never been privy to their conversations. I shouldn't be privy to this one now.

Bella sighs loudly and scrubs her face with her hand. "I've told you everything already. He's just… he's not getting over it. At all. In the playroom, he acts like he's afraid of me, and even outside of it, he's so nervous. It's like back when we first started dating all over again, only worse. At least back then he wanted to have sex with me."

My cock, already deflated, shrinks into my body at her words.

"It's only been a couple weeks."

"Did you just hear yourself? A couple weeks? For Edward, that might as well be a year. He usually wants to do it every day, practically."

"Wait," Lee says. "Are you telling me you haven't had sex at all?"

We have. Of course we have.

Bella groans in frustration. "Yes, but only maybe twice outside the playroom, and it's me initiating. And when we did, he… he wouldn't look at me, Lee. He kept his eyes shut the whole time. And he won't… he won't finish inside me."

It's not true. In the playroom I did.

But then I remember how I've stopped myself when we've been just ourselves. I've opted to go down on her. Asked her to suck me. Once I pulled out when it got too much and stroked myself to come across her breasts.

I pretended it was just because I thought that it was sexy. And it was. But it was more. And she knows it.

"Have you talked about this with him?"

"Yeah, but he says everything is fine. I just don't know what to do. I'm so worried he won't get past it, and..."

She sounds choked up as she trails off, and my own throat gets tight. I want to go to her. To make this right.

But I don't know how.

Lee pauses for a moment and then asks, "Do you want my honest opinion?"

"Why else would I be calling you?"

He still hesitates. "Really, Bella, I'm not sure what you expected. You take a man with a history of issues with intimacy, one who has, under duress, confessed to having struggled with premature ejaculation in the past. One who wouldn't even get on top of you until you forced him to as his dominant. One who uses sex not just as pleasure but as comfort and validation of his manliness. And then when he comes without permission, you take his cock away from him, a punishment he's told you he isn't comfortable with. How exactly did you think this would go?"


I can't listen to any more. With Lee's dissection of my flaws still ringing in my ears, I back away, almost forgetting the flowers in my hand until the plastic wrapped around them crinkles. My heart aching, I look at that gesture, at that symbol of what I need.

I place them on the floor beside the playroom door. And then I retreat into our room.

There, I strip down to just my boxers and a T-shirt and climb into the bed. In the dimness, I draw my legs up to my chest, curling in on myself and hugging my knees. The sounds of Bella's conversation drift in through the walls, but I'm not listening. All I hear is her telling Lee what's wrong with me. All I see is how she looked at me when she put the cage on me.

After what feels like an eternity, the cadence of the voices in the other room changes, bringing me back to myself in time to hear them saying their goodbyes. There's a minute of silence during which I want to be even smaller, but there's no more space to huddle into. Finally, a shaft of light opens out into the hall. Bella's footfalls cease, and everything goes still.

My breath. My heart.

Plastic crinkles, and then she calls my name. "Edward?"

I open my mouth, but on the first try, no sound comes out. I clear my throat and find my voice, but it sounds as raw as I feel. "In here."

The light in the playroom goes dark, and the floorboard creak as she approaches. She flips the lights on and I wince. It's just as well. I can't look at her anyway.

She makes no movement to approach, and the distance yawns, a tangible, aching thing.

"How long have you been here?"

Her voice is frighteningly neutral, like she's holding so much back.

I know she is. There all kinds of things she's been keeping to herself these weeks. Things she only tells her friend. Things about me.

"A little while." I'm still staring at her pillow, my eyes adjusted to the brightness now but still unable to really see.

"How much did you hear?"


"Oh, baby…"

It hurts to hear her speak that way, to hear the tenderness seeping through the cracks. And to know it might not be enough.

Something breaks inside me and I press my forehead to my knees. My inhale is ragged, the sound of it pained.

"I'm sorry."

I'm sorry for so many things.

"Edward, no…"

My shoulders shake.

I can't lose her. I can't.

But what if I can't get over this?

She's on the bed beside me before my thoughts can spiral any further, her touch a heat that sears so deeply into me, rattling everything.


I can't not look at her.

She's on her knees, her lip between her teeth, brows furrowed with a worry that echoes my own, her hand on my shoulder. The flowers lie on the mattress near her thigh. She moves her fingers up to stroke my cheek, and some of the tightness eases until I can breathe again. "Edward, baby, no. I'm sorry. I–"

I cut her off, shaking my head, only I don't even know what I'm saying no to. Her apology. Her kindness. I reach my hand up to cover hers and bring it to my mouth, kissing each knuckle gently, begging for time with my touch. Finally, I clasp her hand in mine and drop them both to the mattress between us, loosening my posture. I lean back against the headboard and let my legs stretch out.

Staring into those wide, brown eyes, I reach into the center of my fear and my need. "I love you. So much."

"And I love you."

"I nnneed things to be ok-kay between us."

She only hesitates for a second, but the pause is louder than any words. "I want that, too."


"No but." Her lips are tightly pressed together, her head shaking almost imperceptibly as she squeezes my hand. "I want that."

I press. "But…"

She gazes at me with an intensity that makes me think she can see right through. "But we can't just ignore it. We can't just makethings be better without fixing them."

"I know." I focus my eyes on the sight of our hands, joined between our bodies.

"Talk to me?"

There's so much to tell, but none of it is really new. Jasper's advice rings in my head, reminding me of the important things. The things I haven't given weight to.

Trying to relax, I play with her fingers and stare at our skin against the sheets. "You're the mmmmost important thing in the world to me. You know that, right?"

"Yeah." The word comes out on an exhale, a deep gust of breath. It's the kind of thing that isn't always easy for her to admit. "I know."

"I don't show you that enough."

Her laughter cuts the tension in the air. "Of course you do. Every day." The plastic wrap around the flowers crinkles as she touches it. "You don't have to give me flowers to show me that."

"I know." I shrug, feeling lighter. At least I haven't screwed that up. "But I wanted to."

"And I love them." She leans in to press a kiss against my cheek. Her lips are soft and perfect, burning through me and reminding me that, beneath it all, we are okay. We will be. "Thank you."

"You're welcome. I just… I need you to know." As she pulls back, I meet her eyes. "I'll do anything. I'll be…b-better."

Her eyes go liquid, the dark circles of them softening as her lip quivers. "No. No. You don't have to. You're perfect. I'm the one who…" She stops and takes a deep breath, pulling her hand back from mine to scrub it over her face. "I made a mistake."

I shake my head again, this time knowing exactly what I'm protesting. "I'm the one who—"

"No. Me." She puts her hand against my cheek, holding my face and keeping my gaze on her. "I'm the one who made a mistake."

She believes it, too.

And maybe she did. She pushed me, and maybe it was too far.

I wish I wasn't so weak.

My chest shivers, but I force the corner of my lips to smile. "We both made mistakes." I grab her hand again, holding it in mine. "And we'll make them right."

I love saying the word 'we'.

"I'm so sorry."

"So am I." I press a finger to her lips, even though it makes my heart pang to silence her, closing her mouth when I see her about to argue. While wry, my smile is genuine. "I'm the one who can't let it go. I'm trying, though."

I am. Starting tonight, I really, truly am.

With that thought in mind, Jasper's words about choosing to forgive myself at the forefront of my mind, I lean in and kiss her mouth, soft and wet and slow. It's the kind of kiss that has always melted me, arousing me and filling me, and when I press my tongue against her lips, she lets me in.

Pushing back the anxiety and the little rush of shame, I press her back into the bed, hovering over her and letting myself go flush against her body. She's all softness and receptiveness, her fingertips a miracle against my skin and in my hair. She parts her thighs and pulls me closer, until the nascent line of my erection is cradled at her sex. I push against her, and when the surge of pleasure comes, I let it roll through me.

I make it mine, and I let it be hers.

Our apologies are the movements of our hands and bodies, the warmth of her flesh and the softness of her breasts. I undress her slowly, and when she's naked, I only linger for a moment at her pussy, a few loving licks at slick, pink flesh before I am climbing back up the length of her. She pulls my shirt over my head and shoves my boxers down.

The feeling of her, wet and hot against the long, bare line of me is a revelation, and I don't know how I've denied myself this for so long. I slide along the valley of her sex, dragging the underside against her clit in long strokes, breathing her air as we kiss. Her mouth is as soft and supple as the rest of her body is, her little sounds of pleasure a balm for my confidence and for my soul.

She loves me. She loves me.

It's clear in every touch and in every press of lips to lips. It's clear in the way she lies back, trusting and letting me do this my way.

It's not in her nature and it's not in mine.

But right now, we both need me to be in control.

At long last, I let the head of my cock slide down her slit until it's pressed against her opening. I gaze into her eyes. And then I push forward.

"Bella." Her name is a choking exhale, my eyes widening and her body so accepting, so wet and warm around my flesh. Her hands come to my shoulder and my face, her legs wrapping around my waist, and I feel like I'm home.

Nothing's ever felt as good as this.

Because, if I let it, every time's the best time.

I'm going to let it.

Slipping a hand between us, I rub her as I pull back and push inside, a rhythmic motion of hips and hips. She rises to meet me, keeps her gaze trained on mine and her palms on me, guiding.

It's a reconnection and a test, but as the pleasure begins to rise, I know that I'm going to pass it. I delay, working hard to make her find her climax first, but it's because I love her. Because I love it when she comes around me.

Not because I'm worried she'll think less of me.

"Let go, baby."

I shudder and twitch inside the grip of her body. She needs me to come as badly as I do.

"God, Bella, I'm—"

It's surge and a wave, a rush of everything I am and everything I need. It's comfort and love. And it's her.

And it's me.

When I let loose the first hot pulse, it doesn't feel like I'm emptying. I'm filling. Filling up with everything she's giving me.

The waves of my climax crash over me, and I give them all to her, releasing deep inside her body and clasping her so tightly. Her hands are in my hair, her lips at my throat as I collapse over her, spent and okay.

I'm okay. And she loves me this way.

Still, as soon as the hardest of the aftershocks have passed, I withdraw from inside her and kiss her lips and kiss her chin. I drag my mouth all the way down the sweat-slicked landscape of her body, over breasts and navel and hip to the center of her sex. She's leaking with me, but I don't care. I press my fingers into her and seal my lips over her clit. I suck and tongue, and when she comes, I feel it as intensely as I did the tensing of my own body. It seems to go on forever, and every squeezing of her sex around my fingers only serves to warm me.

When her thighs relax around my ears, I pull my mouth from her pussy and look up at her, trying to show her with my gaze how I adore her. Her face is all softness and a love that's a match for my own.

I rest my cheek against her abdomen and slide my hand to the top of her thigh. She exhales long and low and slips her fingers through my hair. We hold each other.

And I still want to be better for her.

But even if I'm not, I know it.

I know that somehow, someway, we are going to be all right.

That Friday, I'm in the playroom, readying it for our weekend play. I clean the surfaces she takes me on, dust the rows of implements hidden in the closet, and then I open our box of toys.

I'm not looking for it, but I stumble on it all the same.

The sight of the clear plastic tube and ring and locks makes my stomach churn, twisting with revulsion. Shame. Still, I refuse to look away.

I pick the cock cage up and turn it over in my hands. It's just an object, but it's become so much more in my brain – a symbol, a locus for all the things that are bothering me. For all the things that scare me.

Even after all this time, I'm still afraid of not being enough for her. Of disappointing her. Of having control over my body taken from me this way.

And I'm struck with a sudden urge.

I have to choose to forgive myself. And I have to choose not to be afraid.

I stare at the cage and feel its weight in my palm. My usual arousal born of being in this room has long since faded, leaving me soft inside my jeans. I could slip this on, and it wouldn't hurt my body. Just my pride.

It would hurt my Mistress, too.

I wrap it up in a cloth and slip it in my pocket. As I move around the room, finishing my tasks, it's a weight at my side.

And I don't want to be weighed down by it anymore.

Bella returns home from work that night to find me in the kitchen, heating leftovers. I'm quieter than usual, but she has plenty to say, so it's okay. As we eat, the object in my pocket is less a weight and more a flame. I'm too hot, my leg bouncing up and down, words all hanging in my throat, unspoken.


I look up into warm brown eyes, full of questions. And worry.

"Did you hear anything I said just now?"

It takes me a second to realize I haven't.

At my lack of response, she swipes her palm across her brow, then points to me. "Talk. Now."

Like the early days of relationship, I have no words. Only a yearning and a need, a desire so strong for connection, love and touch.

Unable to look at her, I pull the cage out of my pocket and unwrap it. I place it atop the cloth on the table before her like an offering. But I'm offering her so much more.

I'm asking for so much more.


"I wwwww—" I stop. Pause and work around the block. "I think I should wwwear it."

There's objection in every inch of her. "We talked about this. I'm never making you—"

"You're not making me. I wwww—I want to."

She puts her hand on the side of my face and forces my gaze up. I look into eyes that are loving and kind.


I swallow hard and finger the edge of the cage, my knee still bouncing. I stare at the freckle at the side of her nose. "B-because I should be able to."

"Because you think I think you should be able to? Because it doesn't matter to me. You know that."

Taking her hand in mine, I lower it to the table, curling my fingers around her palm. "I know. That's not what this is ab-b-bout."

"Then what is it about?"

I meet her eyes of my own free will. God, they're beautiful. They fill me with the strength I need. Always.

I squeeze her hand and bring it up to kiss the knuckles one by one. "It's about p-proving something to myself."

Her stare is the one that sees right through me, and it lasts forever. She must see what she needs to. Scooting her chair forward so our knees touch, she pulls her hand back, her chin high. Looking like my Mistress, for all that I am still playing the role of myself.

She narrows her eyes. "Tell me exactly what you have in mind."

I kneel before her on the hardwood floor, naked and needy, keyed up and thrumming with a nervous excitement I haven't felt since the beginning. She places the metal of my collar on my skin with her initial facing out, and I exhale hard. There's serenity here, in this place where she loves me and takes me. This place in our home and this place in my mind. I am in my body. And I am hers.

"Happy about something, Pet?"

"Only the chance to serve you, Mistress."

She runs her fingers through my hair, scratching my scalp. I feel like her dog and like her pet, and I soak up her affection like a balm.

"That's what I like to hear," she says, walking around me. Inspecting. Her hand comes to my chin and tugs it up, commanding me to look at her. Her eyes are cool and calculating, her smile half amusement and half a sort of loving disdain. It sends shivers up and down my spine. "Now. There was something you wanted from me."

The cock cage rests behind her on a table, the lube beside it. My dignity inside it, twisted up with the rest of my feelings about my sexual identity. About myself.

She pinches my chin to refocus my eyes from that piece of plastic back to her. Arches an eyebrow expectantly.

My throat is tight, but my tongue is loose. Freed. "I want you to own me."

"Uh-uh-uh." She clucks her tongue and tsk's. "Tell me exactly what you want."

My breathing is too fast, my pulse pounding. But still I ask. "Please. Please take my cock from me."

Her smile grows crueler and more beautiful. "With pleasure. But you're going to let me use it first. The cage can be your reward."

The very idea of it takes my breath away. Her punishment of weeks ago is what she'll give to me for being good. For serving her and letting her use me. Her control of my body is a gift.

And she gives it to me.

My head is a humming, buzzing thing, the whole world falling away to the rhythm of discipline and command. I place myself in postures, moan and thank her as she spanks me for my pleasure and for hers. Lie down on my back on a satin-covered bed.

Everything is glowing as she straddles me. Squeezes my balls to the point of pain and makes it so, so good.

Achingly slowly, she lowers down.

Words fall from my lips, insane babbling about how I love it when she takes me. My skin is on fire, the heat of her sex deep and cleansing as it envelops me. There is no worry of coming too soon. Of disappointment or of inadequacy.

Over and over again, she slides along me. I'm hard inside her, but I'm nothing. A cock. A toy.

And I'm not the only one.

From beneath a pillow, she procures a little vibrator, and my groans grow all the louder at the feel of buzzing at the base of my cock. She holds the bulb of metal to her clit as she rides me.

"Such.." she pants, "…good…toys."

I close my eyes against the pleasure. Against the intensity of everything I feel when I'm inside of her this way.

"Come, Pet." Somehow her mouth is at my ear, her breath a lick of flame along my skin. "Come inside me."

She pulses, and I scream, emptying. Before the last stream leaves me, before I can re-surface from the ecstasy, she's pulling off of me, and I gasp, a wordless protest as she crawls her way along my body. Plants her knees to either side of my head.

She puts her pussy to my face.

"Drink me."

I lick it all. Her wet flesh and my release.

And it tastes like love and wanting.

Her voice is the lowest whisper and the sweetest caress. Fingers in my hair, she breathes, "That's my good boy. That's my good, good boy."

And I'm flying. Full.


"Three days, Pet." My Mistress slides the plastic tube around the now-soft flesh between my legs, locking together the interconnecting parts. As she works, she explains the terms we agreed upon already, but the words are different. The framing. "I'll let you wear this for three days. You've earned that much for serving me so well."

I'm breathing fast, still riding high. "Thank you, Mistress."

"Each night, I'll give you the chance to beg to come." It's the one thing I wanted this time. If it's voluntary to live confined like this, I need to know I have a choice. She looks up at me with wicked eyes and heated gaze. "But I'll reward you if you don't."

"I like rewards."

"I know you do, Pet."

She rewards me sometimes with her ass. With her mouth and hours of edging toward release. With the chance to taste her until she's shaking.

Stepping back, she invites me to stand. I do so with my head held as high as I can. It's still frightening, being under her control this way, but it's different this time. We're pushing. Together.

And instead of failing, I'm rising.

Instead of shame, this is my opportunity for pride.

The following afternoon, she takes my collar off. Naked but for the cage, I pull her with me to the bath. We slip beneath the water as one, and just like the last time we bathed this way, there's a silence around us. It isn't threatening, though. It doesn't fester. Connected in a way we haven't been in weeks, we wash each other of our roles. She cleans the scent of her sex from my lips and from my fingertips.

After, as I hold her, I'm excited and I'm at peace, running my hands over the softest skin. There's arousal deep inside of me, but the quickening of my flesh inside the plastic doesn't bother me.

"You're smiling."

I am. My lips tilt up, my heart light. "I don't know," I tell her. "I'm just happy."

Relaxing into me more fully, she presses kisses to my chest. "I'm glad." She rubs her backside to my groin. "It doesn't bother you this time?"

"No. It's nothing like when you punished me. I feel…good. In control."

She shakes her head, but it's with the same wonderment that comes from any discussion of our differences. "I don't think I'll ever understand that. How you feel more in control by giving it to me."

"I don't get it either." I hold her closer. Wrap myself around her skin. "But I do."

That night, she gives me the option of my freedom. I smile wide as I decline. The following night, it's harder, but still I shake my head, lying with her naked in our bed. To taunt myself, I trace the line between her breasts again and again and again.

I'm not the only one I'm taunting.

She suffers my attentions with both patience and amusement for a while, but it's not long before a little crinkle of irritation forms itself between her brows. Her thighs move one against the other and her shallowed breathing pushes her breasts against my hand. I suck in my own shudder of a needy inhale. I love to see her like this. So much.

Especially when it all becomes too much. In true Bella fashion, she huffs and pushes my hand away, gazing at me with unmasked want. The next thing I know, I'm on back, her body over mine, thighs straddling mine, and her hips have never been so close when I've been encased this way, kept chaste by my Mistress. Kept in a maddening state of restrained desire by my love.

She all but growls as she plants her hands on either side of my head. Nipping at my ear, she asks, "You know the problem with this whole arrangement?"

I think I do. But I want to hear her tell me all the same.

"What's that?"

Her voice low and husky, she breathes, "What if I want to fuck?"

Deep in my chest, I'm melting. Even though we aren't playing, I'm hers. "All you'd have to do is tell me."

"And what if I want your mouth?"

"Just ask."

She lowers herself down. Slides slick flesh along my hip and makes me throb. "Will you?"

"With pleasure."

I roll her in a sudden motion, a show of strength inside my limbs that I rarely have cause to use. Not with her. She's under me, legs open, soft red lip between her teeth. She runs her fingers through my hair, petting and stroking and making me feel so good. I kiss my way from her neck to her chest. Sucking gently, I take one nipple and then another in my mouth. I tweak and twist that hardened flesh between my fingers. I make my way down.

With my shoulders held between her thighs, I cup her in my hand. Slip fingertips through the soft, pink wet of her sex. Spread her lips and stroke the very tip of her clit.

She arches off the bed, sensitive and sweet.

"You want my mouth?"


I wash my breath across her need and tease. "Say please."

Her mouth is a whining little pout. I'm riding the very finest of lines.

Finally, so quietly, she murmurs, "Please."

I fit my lips and tongue to her, lick and suck and kiss. She's soft and swollen, beautiful and ripe against my tongue.

"That's it, baby." She holds me to her, but she doesn't need to. There's nowhere else I want to be but here. Here at the apex of my lover's body, at the very center of all things.

Fingers deep inside her and wrecked by her taste, I give her what she wants. I give myself that, too. The higher she rises, the more my own desire sinks, becoming something unimportant. Irrelevant.

Because all I need is this.

Her. Beneath me. Quaking. Scratching skin and whimpering, thrusting hips against my face. Taking her pleasure from me and letting me give.

I have so much love I want to give to her.

And when she comes, it's like I do, too.

After, I hover over her, my face pressed to her collarbone, our hearts as one, beating hard. The way I fill the cage is powerful, but I'm okay. I'm okay.

Still, she slides a finger over the stretched-tight skin around my balls. "Do you…?"

I shake my head. Grasp her hand and push it away.

"No. Not tonight."

She lifts my gaze to hers, searching. "Really?"


And I smile. I survived this once as punishment, but I'm more than surviving. I'm thrumming and I'm thriving.

And I'm doing this for me. For her.

For us.

I feel like I can do anything.

I wake on the morning of the third day with my body primed, my hand on Bella's breast, my skin needy and hot. The very air feels charged with sex, and I send her off with kisses that tease us both.

Hips against hers, I ask, "Can you get out of work early today?"

She nips at my lip, pushing me higher, making the air feel thicker. "I'll see what I can do."

"Good." I push up her skirt and trail my fingers up the insides of her thighs. "Because I have a reward to collect on."

Her voice is a hiss. "Yes, you do."

I spend the day in a fog of want, distracted and on edge, and I love it. I love the feeling of being sexual and needy and of knowing I'm going to get exactly what I want. I love my Bella and my life right now.

I love everything.

At four o'clock, I get a text that says she's on her way, and I'm out of my chair, pulled from the work I haven't been concentrating on and the idle surfing for pornography I've been torturing myself with. Even though the apartment is spotless from my obsessive cleaning of the past few days, I give it one more once over, just to kill time.

I hear the opening and closing of the door downstairs, and I'm on the move. Before she can even get her key into the lock, I'm wrenching the door to our apartment open, grabbing her keys from her hand and tossing them aside. I press her up against the door, shoving it closed with one hand while the other is reaching for the buttons of her blouse. She's giggling and smiling against my mouth, kissing me and sliding fingers through my hair.

"Somebody's eager."

"You have no idea."

Except she does. Somehow she always, always knows.

I'm melting into her and giving in to my need for touch in a way I haven't in three long days. Peeling her from the door without letting an inch of air between our bodies, I pull us backward toward the bedrooms. For a second, I hesitate, uncertain if it's our room or the playroom we should head to, but one subtle push of her hands toward our room is all I need.

She doesn't turn my collar or ask if I want to serve her. She doesn't have to. It's one of those times when the lines blur between our lives and play, and that's okay. She shoves me back onto our bed without any ceremony, tearing off my shirt at the same time that I am pulling at hers. On top of me, straddling my hips and putting pressure on the jut of plastic between my legs, she's warm and soft, commanding and sweet.

How badly I want to let her take me.

"So good," I mumble at her breast, pulling the cup of her bra down. "So beautiful."

She bites hard at the juncture of shoulder and neck. "You want to come tonight, Pet?"

"Fuck yes."

She has my pants down at my knees, lips sucking at the skin of my upper thigh before I can so much as blink. I'm filling the cage, aching and moaning and threading my hands into her hair.

Flicking the ring around my balls, turning my groan into a gasp of pleasured pain, she grins evilly. "Hurts doesn't it?"

I laugh, deep in the back of my throat. "Yes."

"Let Mistress make it all better."

She's a lioness. A goddess.

And contrary to her offer, she makes it so, so much worse. She pulls my pants off the rest of the way and settles in between my legs, kissing my hip and sliding a finger over my balls and lower. Lower.

I come off the bed, dripping through the slit in the plastic of the cage when she slips a finger just inside me. I don't know where the slickness came from or how she knows how to make me fall apart, but I'm delirious in pleasure and frustration. She pushes deeper, hits my prostate, and the pressure forces my eyes closed.

It's so good and not enough, and I'm trapped, at her mercy, and I want… So much… So hard…

And then we hear it.

A snap.

At the sudden release of the pressure on my cock, I cry out loud. My eyes snap open, going to her dumbstruck ones, and then we're both looking down. Down at the way the plastic has split apart at the seam. And then there's only silence.

She's the first to speak, her voice level and matter of fact. "Well, shit. I told Kate you were too big for this one."

And then we're both laughing, and it's silly and wonderful. Male ego and absurdity, and if I'd ever doubted I was a man, I know what I am now.

A submissive man, yes. But a submissive man with a giant cock.

A submissive man that needs to come.

"Baby…" I beg.

"I know, I know."

So, so carefully, she pulls at the plastic. Every move hurts, the edges sharp but her fingers soft. She cuts the lock and tugs at the broken tube, and with each degree of freedom, my cock fills further, apparently undeterred by the danger.

Then again, the threat of pain has never exactly been a deterrent to me when Mistress and I are having sex.

It's a relief the instant the contraption is gone, all the same. I suck in a deep, cleansing breath and push my head back into the pillow, my eyes rolling back at the sensation of freedom in my skin.

She kisses my hip and then pulls away. "Be right back."

I slide a palm along the length of myself while I am waiting, and it feels so good. So enrapturing I hardly notice she's returned until she's batting my hand away, a playful swat at my thighs and a skyward, bemused glance with her eyes.

"My job," she insists as she wraps a washcloth around my length.

"Just holding your place for you," I say, breath hitching. With what little patience I have left, I let her clean me up. Even the rough fabric on my skin feels good.

And then I'm in her mouth, in the warm and wet, and she's sucking hard, her finger in my ass again. It's ecstasy so consuming I hardly have the sense to remember I don't want that. I don't want this.

I tug her shoulder and her hair, pulling her off and grimacing at the cold air after the heat of her throat. "Come up here," I demand, and she does what I want her to. I kiss her mouth and palm her breast, pull her hips down to mine. She's still half-dressed and I don't care. "Want to be inside."

"Pushy little subby."

"Not so little," I growl.

She's laughing. "No, not little at all."

I push her underwear aside and probe her slickness with a groan. "You're so wet."

"All for you, baby."

She slips a hand around me and lifts me up. Sinks down.




"Jesus Christ."

There's nothing as good as this. Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

It doesn't take long. Not long at all. But she makes it so safe, whispering filthy things in my ear full of "fuck" and "me" and "hard" and "cock" and "come" and "come" and "inside me, baby, come."

A half dozen strokes and I shudder, gripping her tight as my whole body locks down, gives up and over. I empty violently as I fall into oblivion, the whole time moaning that I love her. I love her.

I love her so, so hard.

The next day, I find her sitting with her laptop at our kitchen table, reading glasses perched on her nose, lip between her teeth and a flush on her cheeks. She looks for all the world like the commanding, lustful librarian of my adolescent dreams. And she's mine. All mine.

I stand there, just taking it all in for a minute. Fantasizing. I'm not as stealthy in my watching as I think I am, though. Without moving her head, she flits her eyes up from the screen to me, gazing over the top of her glasses and making me hard inside my jeans. "Edward?"


"Precisely how long are you planning on standing there, perving on me?"

Busted. I cough into my hand and deflect. "Is it really p-perving if I'm staring at my girlfriend?"

She arches an eyebrow. "When you look at me like that it is."

"Like what?"

"Like you're imagining me taking you behind the circulation desk and turning your ass red."

Busted doesn't even cover it. The way I clear my throat just confirms it. She chuckles in the back of her throat and holds out her hand, crooking a finger toward me in a beckoning gesture I would never deny.

"I was just going to go looking for you anyway. You have a second?"


I adjust my erection and move to stand behind her. I touch the back of her shoulder in a silent signal and she rises, letting me slip into the chair beneath her and then settling herself in my lap. Wrapping my arms around her waist, I rest my chin on her shoulder and look at her screen.

On it, I find metal. Gleaming steel.

I nip her ear and shift my hips beneath her. "Naughty girl. What have you been up to?"

Grinding herself back against me pointedly, she scrolls a little lower on the screen. "I asked Lee for some suggestions for cages for bigger boys."

Sure enough, the window floats over a series of male chastity devices, each more evil-looking than the last. Most are metal, made of series of interlocking rings, and more than one boasts of being designed for men of a certain length and girth.

If I was hard before, I'm aching now.

Still high on the victory of pushing myself the way I did this week, the cages are no longer frightening. If anything, they're enticing. As is the chance to push ourselves again. To keep learning and discovering. Growing. Loving.

Pushing the neckline of her shirt aside, I press my lips against her skin. "Oh?"

"Yup. But this time, instead of going ahead and getting one, I thought maybe I should, I don't know, say, talk to you about it first."

"I'm listening."

Am I ever.

She hesitates, pausing to give me time to protest. But all I have is curiosity.

Placing my hand over hers, I get her to stop scrolling. Mousing over one of the more intriguing ones, I ask, "How does it work?"

The sadistic gleam I love and lust for lights the corners of her eyes. With zeal, she points and gestures, explaining how my cock would fit inside the steel and how I'd be restrained there, captive and helpless and hers.

Only once she's done does she glance at me, schooling her expression as she waits for my reaction. "If you want," she says uncertainly.

"Do you want?"

She shrugs, but I can tell she does. She really, really does. "You seemed to like it last time."

It's surprising, but it's true. "I did. I…I proved something to myself. That I can do anything."

"I always knew you could."

I tilt my head, giving voice to my one reservation. "We're not going to use again for p-punishment, though."

She shakes her head and smiles, shifting to wrap her arms around my neck. "No. I do learn, sometimes. Playtime only."

"Then yeah." I grin. "Let's do it."

She presses a quick peck to my lips then turns around to face her laptop. She's clicking through the pages on the screen again, talking about options and showing me some other toys she wants to add to our collection. And I'm listening but I'm also not.

All I see is her. She's my Mistress. My best friend. My lover and my life. And I don't doubt she always will be.

Because, just like that, we're us again.

And all of our mistakes are forgiven.