The Domination Game

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Chapter 20

When Davis made it back to his place that evening, he had an unexpected guest in the penthouse. Richie sat on the couch, drinking a beer and watching the television. “What the hell you doing here, you ol’ horse thief?” Davis chuckled, taking his hand and giving him a manly pat.

Richie followed Davis into the kitchen, with his beer in hand. “Yancy called me, so I went and got the spare key from Jess and headed out to see if my best friend needed me,” he told him.

Davis reached into the fridge, took out a beer and downed it, then reached in and grabbed another. “I could use something right about now. I haven’t seen or talked to Abie in two days, and I’m just about at my limit.”

They made their way back to the front room and plopped onto the seat, taking a drink. “I know y’all flew all this way to see me, but I’m going to be heading out to see Abie here in a bit,” Davis informed his friend.

“No problem, bubba. I’ll just sit and watch your ol’ grand TV. Maybe go out and get myself a drink and pick up a nice little hottie for the night,” he replied.

Davis laughed, but then his face fell, thinking of a certain woman coming over with Richie screwing some nameless girl here. “Shit, Rich, I don’t want to bring Abie back here with you screwing some piece of ass,” he told him tiredly. “Look, I’m going to get ready to head out. I’m not sure where’s she staying right now, but I’m going to bring her back here so we can talk this shit out.”

“Don’t fret, bubba. If I find something we’ll just go to her place. No big deal,” he told his friend.

Davis started to get up when he heard the front door open, then shut. Tony walked into the front room with his manila folders under his arm, looking none too happy about the information that he was bringing him.

The look he gave Davis spoke volumes about what he’d found. “I got the information like you wanted.”

Seeing Tony’s face, he collapsed back down on the couch as a knot formed in the pit of his stomach. “Is it as bad as we thought?” he managed to get out at Tony’s silent stance.

Tony put a folder down on the coffee table in front of him, not answering the question, and Rich came over to take a look as well. “Jon wasn’t lying when he said she had a brownstone in Beacon Hill. She does, and it’s right on Chestnut Street. In fact, it’s a four point eight million dollar place,” he informed him.

Davis’s head shot up. “What? How the hell is that even possible?”

He nodded, taking out the photos of the brownstone with the black door. “It’s possible, and here’s where all the shit begins. From what I’ve gathered, she doesn’t even live there. She has maids come twice a month to keep the place clean. They told me she doesn’t even have dishes or towels in the place. The information that I got from the woman was, all she has there is a couch, a kitchen table, a couple boxes, a walk-in closet full of clothing. Oh, and an ol’ mattress laying on the bedroom floor.”

Davis went through the paperwork. “Shit, it says here that she paid for it in cash. She owns the place outright. What am I missing here?” he said, but more to himself than the people around him. He sat back, wondering how the hell she could get the money for such an expensive place.

A big thick folder clomped on the table. “Yeah, she bought it in cash, and yeah, you’re missing something. This is the really fucked-up part.” He bent down and opened the folder to a certain page. Rich looked flabbergasted at Tony. “Oh shit, if you’re saying it’s fucked up, then this shit is really bad.”

Tony frowned. “Yeah, Rich, this is really fucking bad, and yes, Davis you’re missing a big piece of why she had the money to buy her brownstone. And just so you know, I’m probably going to be banging one of the homeliest women I’ve ever met just so I could get this shit for you. My normal insider was gone for the week,” he told him, opening up another of the folders.

“You see this,” he asked, pointing to some writing on the page. “Looks like Jon’s dad paid her off, to keep quiet about an incident that happened between her and Jon. If you see there,” he pointed once more, “it states that he has to keep a thousand feet away from her, per this agreement. And Adire can’t say anything about the incident, under the agreement and pay-off.”

Rich looked over to some of the paperwork that revealed how much money Jon’s dad paid Abie for this hush-up. Then he glanced over to Davis and Tony. “Why the hell would Mr. Lovelock need to pay her five million dollars to shut her up? I mean, that’s a shitload of money,” he asked, baffled.

Tony looked downright pissed now. “It wasn’t enough, believe me, and it was because of this.” He told them, then turned over another folder.

Both men were taken aback by the picture that was right on top of the stack, looking back at them. “No. Oh sugar…no.” Davis’s hands went to the back of his neck, and his eyes were wide with horror at the picture of Abie staring at him.

His head shook back and forth at the picture of the woman he loved, black and blue from a beating she took from his once best friend. Rich started to turn over the picture. “Son of a bitch! This was all from one night?” he questioned, and Tony nodded.

Rich flipped through picture after picture; it seemed Jon had tried to damage every inch of her body in some way. The police photos kept coming one after another. When Rich came across a picture of her breast, Davis closed the folder. “That’s enough.”

Davis looked up at Tony. “I can’t look through anymore, just tell me: did he rape her?” he asked, but prayed to God that the answer was no.

Tony shook his head. “The report has nothing on it about it being a rape. She did, however, file a formal complaint over this incident. Apparently this jackass took a couple guys over to his apartment to meet his girlfriend, and then wanted her to take him and two of his friends for the night in Jon’s personal fuck feast, with her as the main and only course.

“She told them all to leave, and thankfully they did without any altercations. But they were pissed, saying a whole bunch of shit to Jon about how he talks a big game, but in the end he was nothing but talk.

“This is where all of these photos come in. From what she said, it looks like he was embarrassed that she told him no in front of these, as she put it, ‘influential friends’ of his. So in turnaround for his embarrassment, he beat the hell out of her.”

Then he turned over another page in the folder to show them Jon’s mug shot. “Again, pulled massive strings to get this,” he claimed. But there was Jon in the mug shot, with his face covered in blood and a haphazard bandage wrapped around his head.

“It looks that once he beat the shit out of her, he was calling his friends back up to come back to the house. That’s when she grabbed one of his lamps from the side table when his back was turned. When he turned around to look in back of him, she whacked him across the side of the head, knocking him out cold; she then called the police,” he grunted out the last piece of the information, heading to the fridge to grab his own beer.

“She managed to get to the door and unlock it so the police could come in. As you can see from the photos, she was badly beaten. I’m surprised she could pick herself up off the ground, let alone manage to hit that bastard with enough strength to knock him out,” Tony fumed.

Rich sat forward, looking at the mug shot. “You know, I remember this. This was just before Jenna and he ran off together. He said he got into a dressage quad accident over the weekend.” He turned his head to Davis. “You remember that. And we all thought it was so odd, because he’s such a pussy and doesn’t normally do that shit. I mean, he threw a fit when we brought him one of the horses to ride out with us,” he said, putting pieces in place that were always off before.

Davis slouched forward, his elbows perched on his thighs and his hands dangling in helplessness between his legs. “Yeah, I do remember that. I also remember thinking it was odd that he came to stay the night at my place. Now I know it was because Jenna was there. Sneaky fucking bastard,” he growled.

A hand went through his hair, scratching at his scalp, putting two and two together. “So he beat Abie, and then came to Houston to run away with Jenna. I guess I really didn’t know what a son of a bitch this man was. Or his family, for covering this shit up for him!” he seethed angrily.

All the photos where strewn across the table, from the front of her brownstone, to the hospital photos, to Jon’s mug shot. It was all there in color for him to see, not to mention all the paperwork as well, so he could read every detail of her being hurt. His head fell into his hands. “Does it say how long they were involved with each other?” he asked as he rubbed his eyes with his palms.

“On the police report that was taken at the hospital, she said it was just about a year that they’d been together. He met her when she went to work for his father through the Thompson Agency.”

He nodded. “So she’d been working there for a little over two years when she met him,” he told his friends. “She told me she loved him, not directly, but that’s what I gathered when she said that she wanted him to ask her to marry him. No wonder she doesn’t do relationships, and has issues with men.”

Davis didn’t move, just looked at the ground trying to wrap his brain around everything that he’d found out. But Rich decided to chime in. “Shit, bubba. That means while Jenna was cheating on you with Jon, Jon was cheating on Adire with Jenna,” he exclaimed.

Once again he nodded at his friend’s words. Then he remembered something. “What about her momma? Did you find out anything about that?”

Tony took a thin folder and threw it his way. “Don’t ask me to tell you about that one, Davis. If you want to know what happened, you’re going to have to sit and read that shit for yourself like I did,” he fumed, gulping down the beer in his hand.

Both men stared at the unobtrusive dirty little folder. But Davis took a deep breath before he opened it, and witnessed the horror of what someone had done to her mother. “Son of a bitch,” he whispered, looking over the photos and the report.

There inside was her mother, and from the report, when she was brought in they weren’t even sure she was going to make it. Everything was there just like Abie had told him. The miscarriage, the hysterectomy; he didn’t know she was in a coma for about a week after. “Her momma’s afraid of men,” he said out loud.

“Fuck, you think!? Someone did a hell of a number on her, bubba. Please tell me they found the wretch who did this?” Rich said, but Tony shook his head in answer.

He sat back, looking the worse for wear over all the information brought to Davis about his woman. “Well, bubba, now you know why she likes to be in control of men. And not to mention beat the hell out of them.” And there was so much truth in that statement, Davis couldn’t think of a thing to say back to him.

Davis sat back now, staring at the ceiling. “I’m headed out right now, I need to see her. I need to talk to her,” he said, taking himself off the couch and heading back to the master suite.

When he came back he looked much more put together. He wore his suit jacket and his wool trench coat. His friends watched him as he slipped on his gloves before he headed to the door. “Thanks, Tony, for getting all that so fast. I owe you one. Rich, I don’t know if I’ll be back, but if I am…” he trailed off.

Rich ran his hand through his strawberry blond hair, waving him off. “Don’t worry about it, bubba. My family has a room at the Ritz, not a big deal. Go get your woman.”

Davis was about to leave when he glanced down at the folders, still open and strewn about. “Hey…” he started, but Tony looked over the mess on the coffee table that had again caught his friend and employer’s eyes. “I got it, Davis. I’ll put them in the safe for you.” Davis nodded his thanks before he took off.

He made his way down to the garage, practically running to his car. The tires squealed as he pulled out, making his mind up that he was heading to Revere first. He assumed that was the most likely place for her to be, since that’s where he’d dropped her off on Saturday.

But if by some stroke of bad luck she wasn’t there, he already planned to drive his ass to south Boston. And if she wasn’t there, he was going to find out where the hell she was, and get her to see reason, that he wasn’t Jon, and he loved her.

When he finally got to her friend’s place in Revere, he loped up to the door of their apartment. He knocked loudly, not wanting another minute to go by before he could get this conversation started, and have her back in his arms.

He heard a voice calling through the door at his persistence. The small dark-haired woman opened the door to him, and he remembered her name was Allie. “Damn it!” she swore. “She’s not heah, and she needs some time by herself,” she huffed in a clipped tone at him.

Davis didn’t budge from his spot, and he heard a man in the background of their place. “You really don’t believe her being by herself right now is the best thing for her, do you? Because I’m not going anywhere, darlin’, so might as well tell me where she is before I make camp in front of your door.”

She just stood there, silently glaring at him. “Believe me, I’ll stay here all damn night, makes no difference to me. But I will see her again,” he said.

At that she rolled her eyes at him. “Damn, she was right about youah being pushy and all!” she spat out at his unmoving frame. “Fine, she’s at the Dunkin Donuts around the cornah from heah. Just so youah know, that man did a number on her. Doncha dare hurt her,” she warned him.

He didn’t even bother with a goodbye this time as he went back to the car. It was already very dark by four-thirty in the afternoon in the east coast winters and by seven it was pitch black out. Down the street, he remembered, was a donut shop when he was driving like a mad man to Abie’s place. That’s the place he assumed Allie was talking about, so that’s where he headed first. And if she wasn’t there, he’d scour the whole damn town to find her.

Pulling into the parking lot he looked through the big brightly lit windows, and thought he saw a glimpse of her near a back corner. He took a deep breath, going into the store so he could talk to his woman. Once he stepped inside he looked around, and there in one of the booths sat Adire.

A big red bulky sweater engulfed her frame; black leggings clung to her legs and chunky warm boots were on her feet. He’d never seen her hair pulled back into a bun and so out of control, hell, it looked as if she had curly hair, and not the straight mane he was used to. She wore a men’s old newsboy cap on her head and glasses on her face.

The woman he knew was always perfectly put in place. He realized that who he saw now, sitting at the table alone, was completely herself, something only a few ever really got to witness. This was the real Adire Black, and this was the woman he had to win over.

When he saw her push the pair of red-rimmed glasses up her nose, he smiled. She was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen. Her feet were up on the bench, and a pen was in her mouth as she read something, and he knew he wasn’t leaving this place until she told him that she was going home with him.

***

I had Allie and Peter laughing so hard when I told them about Mickey and his oh so sexy passionate words that came out during a love-making session at Kitty’s place. Okay, it wasn’t very nice of me, but Allie knew Mick, and this wasn’t Kitty’s first time around with him. He was like her go-to guy in between her flavors of the month. (I swear that woman needs to find a man and settle down.)

After Allie cooked me a little dinner (yes she did, that’s what happens when one of your best friends is a chef), I walked down to the coffee shop to give them some alone time together. On the walk in the cold December night air, I thought maybe it was time to sell my brownstone and finally get my own place…well, one that I could step foot in without having a panic attack.

Many things that I once held so near and dear to me didn’t hold the same value now. The arrangements definitely were not working out for me the way they used to. Between Grayson and Tyler, that much had become obviously clear. I had these arrangements to make my life easy, less complicated, so men wouldn’t want anything from me.

And after seven years, and five proposals, I guess that really wasn’t working for me either. At thirty-seven, and having worked hard at having the life I thought I wanted, I was respected among my peers and also among my bosses. I held the second highest position in the company; I traveled all around the world, and made excellent money. My life was fantastic…or so I thought.

In all truth, my months with Tyler had been tedious. I really just wanted to be finished with my job and head back home. And as much as I love Allie and Kitty, I was ready for my own place, my own car, and maybe a quieter life than I’d been living.

Was it Davis’s fault that I was having these feelings? No, I knew he wasn’t the one who’d started this chain reaction in my head. He was the one who was at the right place, and the right time to make me realize that I needed something different. I was already at that point when I walked into his office that morning.

Even now I had to smile over how much I loved that man’s persistent and pushy ways. How much I enjoyed shocking him with some of my sexual kinks. But I loved the way he made love to me, like a man on fire, needing me. The way he treated me… It was one of the sexiest things that I’ve ever seen.

I think I have to agree with Inga: we all grow. And the merry-go-round has never been my style. I’ve always enjoyed the twists and turns of the rollercoaster. Whether we stay in our comfort zones, or manage to find our way out of our constrictive boxes, our minds and needs grow in time. I think mine have more than grown, they are transformed, and with this transformation a different thought process has emerged. Now I needed to think on what to do with it.

My ears were freezing as I walked into the Dunkin Donuts shop, but I was also enjoying some quiet thinking time. I ordered my coffee, then took a paper that was left on one of the tables from this morning, and found myself a warm comfortable spot to sit in. It was now time to relax, and contemplate for a couple of hours before heading back to Allie’s with some new decisions for my life direction.

But try as I might, my mind just couldn’t concentrate on the words on the paper before me. Even my football team winning the game on Sunday night couldn’t help me focus.My mind was too interested in a man with sandy blond stylish hair, deep blue eyes that always looked so happy, and that adorable crinkle in his forehead when he was thinking of something.

When Davis came to mind, all of my rules ran before my mind’s eye, chastising me. They played over and over again in my head. The rules, the rules to live by, the rules that help guide, the rules to let you remain free…the rules, the rules! Yvette said I’d never get hurt again if I stuck solely to the rules a woman should live by. But now I wondered if that were really so true?

Yvette was missing, possibly hurt, or worse… No, I couldn’t go there, not now. I’d have to think positively about that. But at the same time I had to ask myself, was she really all that happy, like she claimed to be?

Inga, her best friend, was now married, and not only married, but married to a man who knew nothing about the lifestyle they had lived. Who was completely different from her in every sense of the word. And yet, when I saw her and the way she looked at Stephan, she seemed truly content with their “arrangement.”

The question remained, was I confident enough to let a man back into my space who would love me for myself, and not the ass-whipping dominatrix the others think I am? That’s only a part of me. A big part, yes, but that little girl who believes in love, and every tangible thing that goes with it, her voice was becoming much more active.

I dug deep into myself, trying to find the answers for that question, but I couldn’t. Other words ran through my head at that moment, and they weren’t my words at all. They were those of a man I once thought loved me.

It’s funny how you think you have grown in one aspect of your life, only to see that you haven’t grown at all in another. It’s baffling once you’ve stumbled across such an epiphany. My head rested on my hand; my elbow was firmly planted on the table sending pins and needles up my arm, as those poisonous words he said permeated my thoughts.

Jonathan called me a whore, better yet a middle-aged whore. He’s the same age as I am. What does that make him? An idiot. And my handful of lovers is nothing compared to the multitude of women who’ve found their way into his bed.

He showed his hurtful ignorance when he claimed I was middle-aged, just like the little imbecile he married. Being in your thirties doesn’t make you middle-aged; hell, being in your forties doesn’t make you middle-aged, to my mind. I truly believe that age is just a number that only the very young find worthy of any value. The rest of us just live our lives the best we know how, regardless of the years we’ve lived.

Yet men always think they can throw those words around, and that a woman will fall apart at them. What they don’t understand is that we women can get a young piece of ass too, if we wanted to. But unlike them, we don’t want to marry some hot twenty-year-old.

No, we just have our way with them and throw them back among the guppies. Let all the young women deal with all that immaturity, and hot-headed attitudes. We’ve already dealt with the idiots when we were younger. Who wants to go through that again!

Most women just want a man, not a boy. Someone who is of the same mind-set, and enjoys the same things in life as they do. But most men want a girl, not a woman. They’re trying to show all the younger men that they still have the stamina it takes to have the ladies come running to them. Sometimes life has a very sick sense of twisted humor when it comes to the game of love, I think.

As all these things came to the forefront of my mind, I looked down at the newspaper, only to see that I’d written down all the rules by which I live my life. And then I realized I had drawn question marks all around the wording.

I sighed, as this train of thought was getting me nowhere, only adding more questions to my already overfilled brain. So instead, I flipped through the paper and found the crossword puzzle. All I needed was just to sit back and focus on some good old-fashioned, mind-numbing word challenge.

And that’s what I was doing when someone came into my space and sat down in front of me. “Hello, sugar,” came his soft greeting. I glanced up from my crossword puzzle to see a dazzling man sitting in front of me, all polished and beautiful.

“Davis,” I whispered, and cushioned my head on my hand again.

“We need to talk, Abie. I told you I’d give you only a couple days away from me. Now here I am, just like I told you I would be,” he exclaimed softly. His hand came up, taking mine that was holding the pen.

I looked at his leather gloves, and that’s when I noticed my unkempt hands. No nail polish, oh lord, I had barely any makeup on. My clothes comfortable and old, my hair a mess and my grandfather’s hat on as well.

When I pushed my glasses up and stared back into those blue eyes, everything Jonathan had said came rushing back to me like a tidal wave. And when how I really looked at that very moment sank into my mind, it crashed down on me like the waves crashing into the shore.

The very next thought was to escape from the situation that I now found myself in. Just because I was considering letting this man into my space, didn’t mean I was ready right then, especially with Jonathan’s hateful words so fresh in my mind.

I started to get up quickly from the booth, trying to take my hand back from him. But he’d already guessed my reaction, because he gripped my hand tightly so I wouldn’t leave. “No, I’m not letting you go, Abie. This is something you and are going to work through, just like our first night together,” he told me.

“Davis, I’m not in the mood to do this right now. We’ll talk later, maybe in a couple of days.”

“No, sugar. We need to talk now. I’m not going anywhere, so might as well get the conversation going. And if you think walking out the door will stop me, you’re wrong.”

“Fine, Davis, I won’t leave. What did you want to talk to me about, then?” I asked, trying to sound assured and confident in myself, but not quite hitting the mark.

He took off his gloves and his cool hands took mine. “I want you to not shut me out anymore. I want all the things we talked about, the night when we first went to the coffee shop. Nothing has changed for me about you,” he confessed to me. He gave my hand a little squeeze to get me to look at him. “Hey, what could Jon have told you to shake your faith in me so badly?”

Sighing, I pulled my hand away from him as I sat up straight. If I was going to be myself with no mask on, in front of this man I cared for…then so be it.If he left me, I would just have to deal with it later. “Jonathan knows precisely what to say to shake my confidence in myself. That has always been one of the most powerful punishments in his arsenal,” I explained.

His brows went together in confusion. “What does that even mean, sugar?”

I just shook my head, not wanting to answer his question. I heard him growl quietly in frustration at me. “Okay, then let me ask you how you even met that guy?”

I sighed at that question, knowing he was going to keep up the questioning if I didn’t give him something. He might as well know some of the truth. This would be the test to see if he ran away because of my past. “I met him when I worked at a den, Davis,” I told him.

The crinkle remained in his forehead as he thought about what I’d just said. “At a den?” he asked, perplexed.

“Yes, he came in wanting to have a spanking session. Believe it or not, the clientele of most dens are extremely influential and wealthy men. They like to have someone dominate them, make them bark like a dog, be punished like a child, or in Jonathan’s case, come in for a spanking. I was the one who was chosen for him that night,” I replied.

He looked a little stunned. “You met him at your work in this den? I thought maybe you met him through work at the Thompson Agency?”

I shook my head. “No, I still worked at the den to help pay off some college loans that were piling up on me. So, in the mornings I was an associate of the Thompson Agency, and in the evenings I was Adire the Dominatrix,” I chuckled. “My idea in naming myself wasn’t as creative as it would be now. I just needed clients to pay off my bills.”

He sat back crossing his arms, with that crinkle pinching his forehead, trying to put everything together. So I figured I would just tell him what I was comfortable with, and let the chips fall where they may. “Davis, I’ll tell you how Jonathan and I got together. If I do, will you just leave it at that?” I asked.

“I’ll try, sugar.”

I put my glasses on the table and rubbed my hands over my face, trying to think of the best place to start. “That’s not quite what I was hoping to hear. But with you, I guess that’s the best I’m going to receive,” I sighed.

“So the best place to start is usually the beginning. I must warn you, this isn’t going to be a story you want to hear.” I stopped, and observed him before I continued. “In saying that, do you still want me to go on?”

He nodded with a frown. “Yes, sugar, this needs to be aired out between us. He’s the man who ran off with my fiancée, and was once one of my best friends. If I didn’t know the truth, I’m not going to lie: it would eat me up inside wondering what the two of you had together.”

“All right, Davis, I can understand that, and it holds a very valid point,” I offered, sitting back and putting my glasses back on. I crossed my arms, shoving my hands into the bulky sleeves, before I told him part of the story he wanted to hear.

“I’d been working at the Thompson Agency for a little while and was making decent money at the time. But I was also helping my aunt support my mother, maintaining a vehicle, plus keeping my own apartment in Southie as well. Things started to get a little tight because some college loans that I thought were going to be part of my scholarship arrived at my door, to be paid for by me.”

He interjected right there, “How could that happen if you had a scholarship?”

I glanced down at my sweater, not wanting to divulge my secret, but giving him the opportunity to say no. “Are you sure you want to know about that part of the story, Davis? There are things I’m telling you that you need not know of to understand my relationship with Jonathan.”

He considered my words, but I could already see where he was going. “Yeah, Abie, I want to know everything about you,” he said softly.

“Even the things you’ll wish you never knew about after I tell them to you?”

He stopped talking to ponder my question once again. “Yes, even those.”

I nodded. “All right, Davis.” I looked back up at him, holding my shoulders back. This was my life, my mistakes, and I’d own them all.

“I had an affair with a very influential professor. I don’t know how he managed to have the classes he taught fall out of the coverage of my scholarship, but somehow he managed it, all the same. So my life at that time, and my funds that were already tight with the responsibilities I held, became suffocating.

“I worked in college in a den, a very lucrative den. I called up my mentor, explaining my situation, and she let me come back to work for her. You see Yvette was very luxury loving, and that was what she portrayed in the den. I on the other hand was your typical dominatrix, black pleather panties, and bra. Thigh-high black boots, fishnet stockings, dark black makeup, and my leather cane to give the naughty men their spankings.”

His eyes never left mine, but I knew what he was waiting to hear. “Jonathan was one of my clients at one point. He came in one evening, wanting to be spanked. Yvette asked what kind of woman he wanted, and of course he wanted the black leather dominatrix. So I was chosen for him.

“At this time when I worked, I wore a mask to hide my identity. I thought my clientele would drop because of it, but Yvette was right when she told me men would be falling in line to be my client. And she was right.

“Jonathan came back the next night, trying to get my attention. But I wasn’t interested; this was my job, not some sort of game for me. He came back five times a week for the next few months, still trying to gain my attention, and asking me to take off my mask for him.

“Now this is very hard for me to say to you, but I have to tell you this part for you to understand what I was thinking when I let this man into my very disciplined life. You see, at that time, I’d never seen someone as beautiful as him in my entire life.” My eyes peeked up at Davis with that statement, and as I thought he didn’t look pleased, but he didn’t say more, either.

“I had been with the local boys, and yes, I’d even been with much older men. But there was something dazzling about this particular man to me. He was very charming, and funny at the time, and persistent,” I said on a whisper.

That last part struck a nerve with him, and he leaned against the table. “So how did you two end up together if you kept turning him down, despite the attraction to him?” he grunted at me.

“Davis, this is my past. It’s not a pretty one, but it is what it is. If you’d rather me stop now, I will happily oblige you with that request. I’m only telling you what you asked of me,” I commented quietly.

He sighed, closing his eyes and nodding his head. “You’re right. I’m sorry, sugar. I wanted to know everything, and I still do. It’s just hard for me to hear you talk about that ass like that.” He opened his eyes, then reached his hand across the table, looking at me. I caved in, taking his hand. “That won’t happen again. Please continue with what happened.”

I took my hand back, letting it fall into my lap, but Davis’s hand stayed there for a minute more before he lowered it. “So you were saying that you met him at a den. Is that how all this started?” he asked.

I shook my head. “No, the Thompson Agency was hired by Lovelock Industries. Mr. Douglas told me he saw potential in my work ethic, my performance thus far with the lower clientele, and the timely manner in which I completed my work. He said if I could get this job done, it would be an enormous boost for my career. He asked if I was up for the task, and I took it.

“The first day when I walked into that office and Jonathan was sitting among the group of men, I just about froze up completely. But I wore a mask at my…other job. So I didn’t let that stop me, and continued with the meeting as though I’d never met him in my life,” I explained. “But when I was just about to exit the building he came running up to me, shouting my name across the lobby of the building. That’s when he told me he knew who I was.”

“Did he tell you how he knew it was you from the den?”

I nodded. “He said it was my voice. My voice gave me away to him.”

“Then?”

“Then he cornered me into having a drink with him.”

“Did you drink back then?”

“No, I never drank, Davis. But Jonathan wasn’t as gracious as you were. He insisted that we go out to a club together, we’d just call it business.” I sighed at all the thoughts that were rolling around in my mind. “I was younger then, and this was the first time a man had really caught my interest so completely.”

“So you went out for drinks…”

“Yes.”

He waited, but I was having a hard time continuing. “Then, sugar...?” he asked softy.

“Then we went back to his place, and as drunk as I was, I dominated him there as well,” I told him, not holding back who I was at all. “That’s when the relationship truly began. I thought it was a one-night stand, and honestly that would’ve been acceptable to me. He wanted me to dominate him, and he was so fascinating, I knew it could be trouble for me. But I did it anyway, letting that man into my life completely. Letting him know my rules, my faults, my fears…

“I’d never been in love before, Davis. This was all so new for me, I let him move quickly into my life without question. And even though in the bedroom I was in control, he had more say in my life than I should’ve allowed.

“The relationship from that point on moved very hot and very fast, and my guarded life was now an open book to him. Allie was telling me to slow down with him, knowing that this was all new. But at that point, how does one stop an avalanche from falling down the mountain?

“Kitty on the other hand couldn’t stand him. She was blunt about it, to the point where if she was around when he was, she was past the point of rudeness and on the brink of harassment. Now, when I look back at it, I think at one point he must have made a pass at her. And she and Allie are very protective of me; she thought it best not to tell me and try to get me to break up with him, or him to leave me instead.”

“But you didn’t, did you.”

“No, I thought I was in love. And I thought he was in love with me,” I confessed. “I truly believed that for quite some time. I wore rose-colored glasses where Jonathan was concerned.”

“Why do you call him Jonathan? I’ve never heard him be called that before.”

I shrugged. “That was what he told me to call him. He said he only goes by his full name. So I did. After a year with the man, that’s all I knew him by.”

“Did you ever meet any of his friends, any family?”

“No. Now I realize what I was to him. At the time I couldn’t see it, or didn’t want to believe it. Like I told you before. The man I was seeing would just stop over at my place in Southie. I went to his very expensive place the very first night together. But I thought we had a wonderful relationship, and enjoyed each other’s company.”

Davis sat there listening, nodding at some things, seeming angry at others. “So everything was great with y’all? So when did thing get so messed up?” he asked.

My head fell forward and my hands went behind my neck, as I looked down at the newspaper on the table. “No, Davis, things were never normal between the two of us. I never saw him on a normal basis.” I looked up at him. “I never even had his phone number. I would just go about my life, and he’d show up, and we’d do simple things, like go to a movie, or out to dinner. But that was it. I see now what I was. I was his mistress.”

I took a breath in and out, trying to expel the hurt I still felt. “I thought he loved me. I thought I meant as much to him as he did to me. I know that sounds naive, but I really didn’t know any better. But in hindsight, I guess I should’ve realized his beautiful words at the time were all were just that, words. Pretty words people tell one another to get them to bend to their whims. And he did; I bent to all his whims, allowing him any and all access to me. Thinking this was the man I was going to marry. I only wish I knew the truth before he broke me,” I said out loud, but mainly confessing my stupidity to myself.

Then I shut my mouth tightly, pulling myself back into the now. I was saying too much, and it needed to stop. I heard him grunt with irritation, so I peeked back up at him.

“And how did all this end?” he asked.

My gaze fell; I was not going to tell him all of the truth, but just enough. “Jonathan came to my place one night, very upset. What had been our normal relationship for the last eight months, changed in the one night.” I looked up at him, thinking of the night Jonathan came over so angry. “I swear, Davis, in a matter of a week he went from a sweet man to a crazed lunatic.”

“What changed, Abbie?”

I shook my head. “I’m not really sure. One minute he was Jonathan. He was very submissive to me, he liked me to be in control in the bedroom. But the night he came over right before the downward spiral…he was in control,” I whispered.

“Did he hurt you? Please just tell me the truth, Abie, even if you don’t think I want to know.”

My hand went to my forehead. “It wasn’t like you’re thinking, Davis. But even when I was young, I more or less was in control over all the men in my life.” I pondered over that, before I glanced back up at him. “That’s just how it was for me. Even my first time, I made the first move, I was in control of how it was going to play out. I took one of the local boys who I knew was…less dominant. He was Kitty’s boyfriend’s best friend, and he was easy.”

“But that night, when Jonathan came to my place in Southie, he was acting crazy. He was mumbling about his father, and the things he wanted for his life. I really thought he was coming over to break it off with me. But when he turned back around, he came at me.”

Davis’s hands went to his groomed hair, as his hands latched behind his head and his voice came out strained. “What the hell do you mean, Abie, he came at you?”

I tried to gather my thoughts, tried to come up with a way to say what happened without saying everything that had happened. “Well, he pushed me up against the wall like he wanted to hurt me. But he snatched me up, throwing me on my bed, and got on top of me. Everything he did was very…rough. His hands, his kisses, he even bit my lip to where it was bleeding,” I told him, still stunned by that.

“Did you tell him no? Sugar, this is important,” he questioned me in all seriousness.

I shook my head at that. “No, the word no never came from me. I asked what was wrong with him, why he was being so out of control. He told me that all men needed to be wild in bed with a woman, to have their way. But he also told me if I really loved him, I’d let him do what he wanted to me that night. So I did,” I whispered.

“I truly think now he was hoping I’d say no to him. Maybe whale at him, tell him that he was not a man at all, to get out of my life. Maybe he wanted a reason to hurt me. He acted like he wanted a reason when he first came into my place, and those kinds of words would’ve given him the reason he was looking for. But I think he didn’t want to really know that I loved him enough to give up my control to him. So he could be truly ignorant of my love for him.”

“After that night, Jonathan was so self-destructive. He was drinking heavily; I wouldn’t see him for weeks on end. And when he finally managed to come over to my place, he would just…fuck me,” I explained sadly.

“But there was never anything out of what I thought would be a normal man’s appetite for some kind of dominance over his girlfriend, especially after what he told me. So I let him have what he wanted from me.” I saw Davis frown at that.

“That’s why you told me you liked my form of vanilla…” he commented, but I could see his mind thinking things over.

“Davis, he was nothing like you are to me. I know you’re seeing some of the similarities, but you’re so much better than him. When you take me, you’re caring, and I like how your body feels so needy, wanting, hungry for me. That’s why, when we were first together, it confused me. When Jonathan came over wanting me, his attitude became harsh, he was hurtful, cruel, and angry at me for some reason it seemed. ”

That made him frown deeper, and I wasn’t really sure what I’d said that made him upset.I sighed. “A couple months later it ended, and that’s it. I might have been the one to have the final say, but I think he was the one who really ended the relationship, long before I did.”

His mouth opened, then shut quickly like he wanted to say more but didn’t. He was staring at something when he moved the paper out from under my hand, reading what I wrote. “Are these your rules that you told me about?” he asked me softly. I nodded my head, and he read them.

His eyes met mine once more, a frown on his face. “I think there is still so much more for us to discuss, sugar. There’s things that need to be said, and new challenges that I want you to consider when it comes to you and me.”

He read my rules once again. “So you’ve had these rules for a long time?” he asked, and I nodded. “I would like to know why a beautiful woman like yourself would find the need for such rules in your life. But at least certain things that have happened make more sense to me now.”

He leaned forward, crossing his arms on the table, thinking of what he wanted to say. “Abie, you like the vanilla with me, am I right?”

I smiled at him. “Yes, I like your form of vanilla, Davis,” I told him quietly.

He nodded at me. “That’s good, because I’m going to be needin’ more vanilla from you.” He looked back down at the paper, shaking his head at what he saw.

He put his gloves back on, and I thought this was the end; that he might have said what he did, but in the end he wanted out. So I took a deep breath, preparing myself for whatever excuse he came up with to leave me and get on with his life with a normal woman. “Come on, Abie, we still have a lot to discuss tonight,” he exclaimed, getting up from the booth and taking my hand.

I stood up, and he took my old coat from the bench seat and put it on me. I was still trying to find words to ask what he thought he was doing. “Davis, what are you talking about? I’m in no way dressed to head out with you this evening. In fact, I’m none too happy that you saw me this way at all,” I blurted, as he wrapped his arm around my waist and walked me outside to his car.

Out in the parking lot he gathered my scarf in his hands and put it around my neck, pulling my lips to his. He pressed me back into the cold car, as his warm body pushed into the front of me.

He bit my bottom lip, surprising me, and when I gasped he took my mouth by all-consuming force. His tongue, his touch, making me surrender to him. When he finally had his fill he pulled back just enough to lean down and whisper in my ear. “Sugar, seeing you with your hair up, and clean face with glasses on…damn it! You got me so worked up again, you’re lucky I’m not claiming you right here and now in the damn parking lot,” he growled, sending a shiver down my spine and setting my body on fire.

I laid my head on his chest and wrapped my arms around him, feeling my heart lighten a little bit at his words. “I’m very happy to hear you say that. I was afraid that you wouldn’t find me as attractive without my mask on.” I took a small breath, letting him a bit more into my world. “I’m glad Jonathan was wrong about that, at least,” I mumbled softly into his coat.

He pulled me back so he could look down at me. “What the hell does that mean? And why would Jon say anything like that to you? And how does anything that asshole had to say refer back to me?” he asked.

His stare was intense, but I just shook my head, not wanting to tell him the awful things Jonathan had railed at me. As much as I wanted them to be lies, I was still worried they could turn out to be the truth. “Abie, tell me what he said to you,” he pleaded with me softly now.

My hands felt the soft wool of his coat, and I sighed at how soft this man made me, and how absolutely safe I felt in his arms. “I’ll tell you, but not out in the parking lot. Allie’s place is just down the road. I was trying to give her and Peter some quiet time with me out of their place for a little bit, but I’m sure they won’t mind if we talk in the kitchen,” I told him, taking in his smell. Lord, he always smelled so good.

His hands gripped into the fabric of my jacket, pulling me back into his chest. “I’m not taking you back to Allie’s place tonight, sugar. You’re coming home with me. We’re going to get past this hurdle, and I think you and I need to set some new challenges for you. Because I’m needin’ a lot more vanilla from my beautiful ass-spankin’ woman,” he chuckled into my ear.

That had me smiling. “I do so love to spank your backside, Davis. I very much like you bringing me your belt in obedience; it’s very…sexy. Does it bother you when I do that to you? Because I would very much like to do that again,” I explained, moving my hands to his chest.

His chest rumbled. “No, I like you spanking my ass, sugar. I’ve got the belt on that we used that very first night, right now. I’ve worn it every day since that night with you,” he chuckled, as my head popped up. His laughter faded and his eyes hooded. “I need to get you home, Abie. Because the quicker I do, the quicker I can have you,” he murmured.

I glanced to the side, wondering if this was what I wanted. I mean, I knew this was what I wanted. But the question still remained, was I strong enough to let this man truly into my life? Was I willing to work past my distrust of the male gender and give him whatever he was going to ask me for, pulling me further away from my comfort zone?

I took him by the lip with my thumb and forefinger, bringing his face to mine. “If I say yes to going back with you to your place, and we’ve cleared up all the challenges you have in mind for me, we then have to discuss my own needs. I live a certain lifestyle because I enjoy it, Davis. If you can’t accept that, and you can’t accept some of the things I truly enjoy in the bedroom, then it would be best to take me back to Allie’s right now and end this,” I told him hesitantly. For, as much as I didn’t want him to walk away from me, I also knew who I was as a woman.

A deep rumble came from his chest; he didn’t like the words I just spoke. “This relationship is fifty/fifty, sugar. And I’m thinking you don’t understand that I’m willing to give in to a lot more of your wants than you’re probably aware of,” he smirked.

“When we have all our negotiations finished, and I have you accepting the challenges that I want from you in place, then I’m taking you in my bed so we can play, sugar. If what you need is to spank my ass before I take you, then so be it,” he said seductively to me, removing my hand from his lip, and taking my mouth once again.

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