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Chapter 23

The short walk from the car to the building’s entrance exhausted her. Pain shot through her body on every move she made. Alex carried her up to his apartment and let her down carefully when they got to the door.

“Wait there, I’ll just unlock the door and carry you inside,” he said as he fumbled with the key and pushed the door open.

“I can walk, thanks.” She trudged in until she reached the couch and sat down in slow motion. “I feel like an old person, I think I need a cane.” She laughed.

Alex opened the door to the only room she had never seen, and walked back to sit beside her on the couch.

“That asshole really roughed you up, didn’t he? He wasn’t a real dominant, you know, he was just some fucked-up guy obsessed with you. I would have tied him up a tree with a shotgun up his ass… one move and…” he said, fists clenched tight.

“Please, let’s not talk about him anymore. You said you were gonna help me forget… you have to forget it too. I have to move on from here and get on with my life… if only I could move around, but my whole body hurts like hell.”

“You need to rest and regain your strength, that’s all. I’m gonna make you a nice dinner later, but I have to show you something first… here, let me carry you to my bedroom.”

“Okay, so I’m not off limits anymore?”

“I guess not.” He laughed. “I shouldn’t have done that… sorry.”

“Apology accepted, sir. I can’t wait to see your crib.” She giggled as Alex cradled her in his arms towards the bedroom and sat her on a king-sized postered bed.

Besides the bed, the room was huge for a bachelor. The wall on the street side was all glass lined with windows. The adjacent wall facing the bed made Amanda gasp in amazement.

“Wow! So this is what you’ve been working on all this time? It’s beautiful, Alex.” She looked at the wall filled with paintings of nudes in different sizes arranged perfectly like a jigsaw puzzle. “And they’re all… me?”

Each painting showed her in different erotic poses, except for one— a life-sized portrait of her showing her face down to her breasts— her head tilted, eyes looked down, a hand in her hair— the perfect submissive pose.

“They’re all you, Iris. After I did the one in your office, I started working on these babies, and painted each one from memory…” he said, and sat beside her.

“I’m— I don’t know what to say… I look like a goddess in those paintings, it’s unbelievable.”

“But you are a goddess, Iris… look…” he gently pushed her shoulders down until her back laid against the bed.

The ceiling over the bed showed a mural of what initially looked like a modernist version of Boticelli’s Birth of Venus, where Venus or Aphrodite stood naked on a giant scallop shell with Zephyr blowing her towards the shore where the Hora of Spring welcomed her with a cloak.

“The Birth of Iris, that’s what I want to call it…” he said as he stared at his own work with reverence.

“My god, Alex…” she gasped, “… I—I still don’t know what to say… these are all amazing.” She reached for his face and kissed him.

“When I’m old and my memory starts to fail, at least I have these to remember you by.” He turned to face her and looked into her eyes. “You are my goddess, Iris.”

“You never called me by my real name, though. I’m just wondering why… don’t you like the real me?”

“Amanda and Iris are one and the same, I just like to call you Iris, because it’s special for me.”

“So these paintings are the ones you are putting on exhibit?”

“No, these go to my private collection. It’s the reason why I’ve been cramming to finish all the other paintings in the last two weeks.”

“That’s because you had extra activities at your studio.” She teased.

He grinned. “I needed the inspiration, and the girls were just trying to help this poor starving artist.” He pulled her close and kissed her tenderly. Then he got up and went to the closet, pulled out a box covered in black velvet with gold trimmings.

“There’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you, Iris, and I will totally understand if you object violently… but I’ll probably go crazy if you did…” he said as he walked around the bed.

“What the hell is it, Alex? I’m intrigued.” She giggled.

“I have to do this the right way though…” he went down on one knee by the bed, “Iris…”

Amanda sat up, her heart beat like drums on a Fourth of July parade.

Alex continued, “… Will you be my submissive for life?” Then he opened the box and took out a collar he presented to her— it was made of white gold with a large diamond stud at the center, a ring below it, and engraved on each side of the diamond— were the letters ‘A’ and ‘I’.

She gasped, shocked at the unexpected proposition. She was glad it wasn’t a marriage proposal, but never thought such an arrangement existed. She’d always wanted to play with Alex and only him. They’ve bonded perfectly in mutual trust and love for each other.

“Does that mean we’re no longer free to play with others?”

“No, why would I take that freedom away? We were born free, and we shall stay free. This collar is just a symbol of our dom-sub relationship… but truly, I will understand if you don’t…”

“Yes, Alex, yes, I want to be yours for life.” She said as tears pooled in her eyes and fell in torrents on her cheeks. “I thought you’ll never ask.” She sobbed and laughed at the same time.

Alex kissed her with a passion that surpassed all the kisses she’d ever had. Then he wiped the tears on her cheeks. “May I put this on you now?”

Amanda raised her hair up with both hands and smiled as Alex put the collar on her neck.

“Wait, I have to lock each screw with a key.” He said as he worked on the screws.

“It’s got keys? Really?”

“Yup, you won’t be able to remove it without the keys, and each screw needs a specific key to unlock.”

“I think that’s sweet… wicked… but sweet.” She giggled.

“It’s made of eighteen-karat white gold, so you can wear it in the shower. That’s a flawless one-karat diamond set flush so it doesn’t fall out when you’re active… and of course, our initials— which also forms the word, ‘ai’ which means ‘love’ in Japanese.”

“I love this collar and every thought that you’ve put into it. I never thought you to be so romantic, Alex.”

“I wasn’t… until I’ve known you, Iris… I love you.”

Her heart jumped when she heard the words, she thought she’d dreaded to hear, but just realized that those were the words she’d always wanted to hear from him, and say back to him.

“I love you too, Alex… sir.”

They took each other’s clothes off and kissed for what seemed like an eternity. Alex went down with kisses on her neck, her breasts, and thighs, then grazed her with his tongue.

Amanda squirmed as every touch inflamed her. Alex didn’t use any toy to stimulate her as his tongue did a great job on its own. Her moans came with the wetness that pooled between her legs, eager to embrace him into its fold.

Alex knew what she wanted when she wanted it, and gave it to her at the perfect time. He penetrated her and thrusted gently into her. She writhed and moaned with her eyes closed, then started to heave, and cried, “Red!”

Surprised and confused at her for crying out the safe word, Alex withdrew and hugged her. “What’s wrong? Am I hurting you?”

Amanda sat up as she tried to catch her breath. “I— I can’t breathe, A—lex…”

He dashed out of the room and came back with a brown paper bag. “Here, breathe into the bag.” He held it up to her nose and let her rebreathe the air in the bag, until she breathed normally again.

“I’m sorry, I don’t know what came over me… I just panicked.” She said.

“Did you get flashbacks?”

“No, my mind focused entirely on you… but my body remembered it, I think.”

“Okay, we have to work on that… I think you need help.”

“You think I’m going crazy?”

“No, you’re not. You’ve been through a traumatic experience, that’s not unexpected. I know someone who could help you. Do you remember Monique?”

“Your Monique? The one from the Black Room?”

“Yes, but she’s not mine, okay? We’ve played a few times but it was just that. She’s a fun submissive, a respectable woman, and a good psychiatrist.”

“Okay, but just to let you know, I was quite jealous when you were with her that night.”

“But you were with Morris, so we’re even. I was jealous too.”

“Okay, case closed. When can I see her?”

“I can take you to her clinic tomorrow, first thing. So now… since we can’t play or even have vanilla sex until you’re well… I’m gonna make dinner.” He kissed her head and walked out of the room.

Amanda laid back on the bed and ran her hand on the collar on her neck, and smiled. It was the happiest day of her life… if not for a panic attack that caused them the annoying coitus interruptus.

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