Chapter 5: Job Offer

Melissa glanced down to check the map on her phone. The blue dot showed she was still on the correct road, just as it had when she last looked at it less than a minute ago. She chided herself to relax and enjoy the drive.

The sun flickered through the deep green trees lining the street. The warm fragrance of early summer rushed in through her open window. It was a beautiful day, so she hardly minded not having the money to fix her air conditioning.

Ever since Erik’s call two days ago, she had been distracted and nervous, trying to figure out how she wanted their date to go. Except it wasn’t a ‘date,’ she reminded herself. She had insisted on something neutral, something during the day, simply because she didn’t trust herself alone with him at night. She didn’t want to have their first date turn into one wild night of sex and then have him disappear forever the next day.

They had agreed on a walk along a creek in a park near his house. She had worn a one-piece bathing suit under her jeans and shirt, just to slow things down if she somehow did wind up with her pants down around her ankles.

She told herself that choosing to wear a one piece bathing suit didn’t mean that she lacked trust in her resolve, but the scene in the seminar room kept playing back in her mind. Once her post-orgasmic bliss had faded, she had been incredibly embarrassed that she actually had an orgasm with someone she just met, while they were both still fully clothed. Fortunately, he hadn’t said anything about it on the phone.

She checked her map again. The blue dot was coming up on his house. The properties she was driving past were at least several acres each, with big houses set well back among large trees. Some houses, she couldn’t even see from the road. “Definitely old money territory,” she muttered to herself. “Sure, I’ll fit in here, just like the hired help.”

Up ahead, she spotted a mailbox with his house number on it. Slowing down, she turned into his driveway. She couldn’t see a house. The driveway disappeared into the woods.

She slowed her car to a crawl, pondering the wisdom of continuing. She hadn’t told anyone where she was going. She was too embarrassed to be dating a VIP donor. Trying to break the tension that had suddenly gripped her, she joked to herself, “But it’s not a date.”

She snorted at her sudden fears. “Come on. He’s a big deal muckity-muck. It’s not like he’s going to tie me up and rape me.” She found her thoughts slipping into a fantasy of that image for a moment and was annoyed to feel her sex clench tight in pleasure. She was always embarrassed by how much rape fantasies turned her on.

As her thoughts had wandered, her car was still slowly drifting forward. She snapped her attention back to the driveway and sped up. “Yeah, no sex. That’s why I’ve got a bathing suit underneath my hiking clothes, and it ain’t coming off. Hear that Mr. Rich Guy? I’m a good little Catholic girl… well, I was… once… long ago… and it still ain’t coming off.” She laughed at her bravado, knowing her horrible track record with keeping those sorts of promises.

Around the bend, the house appeared. Getting closer, she could see it was actually a gathering of low structures, spread out along the brow of a hill, overlooking a meadow and stream. The buildings all seemed to be made of stone and weathered wood, with slate roofs. It reminded her of something that might have been designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

The driveway ended in a courtyard. The main house was on the downslope side of the courtyard. It looked as though the front door of the main house was on what must be the upper floor. The rest of the large building flowed down the slope, with its broad roof sweeping toward the meadow. On the other side of the courtyard was a wood and stone retaining wall. The top of the hill rose up behind the wall. At the far end of the courtyard, a pathway curved around the brow of the hill, running between several smaller wood and stone buildings.

She parked her car and looked around, not sure if she should get out. Behind her, she heard a screen door screech open, then bang shut. Looking back, she saw Erik coming out of the main house. He was dressed in blue jeans that clung to his form, with a simple white button-down shirt and rolled-up sleeves. His shirt had a rumpled look of a cotton-linen blend that hadn’t been ironed. He was wearing hiking boots that had clearly seen plenty of use.

He waved to her, “Welcome!” She got out as he walked toward her, saying, “I see you found the place. It’s great to see you again.” He casually halted several steps away, which removed, she realized, any question of whether he would shake her hand or kiss her. In all her obsessing about how this ‘not-a-date’ would go, she hadn’t even considered how he would greet her. She tried to tell herself that she felt relief, not disappointment, that he hadn’t greeted her with a kiss.

“Great to see you again too. You’ve got a really beautiful place.”

“Thanks. Well, come on in. We can grab some water and head out towards the creek.”

“Ah, okay.”

She followed him toward the front door. He paused so she could catch up and they could walk together. Erik opened the screen door, gesturing her in. The inside of the house looked cool and dim.

Melissa stepped inside, surprised to see that most of the house was one large open space, which stepped down the slope in several levels. They were standing on the highest level. A long sloping ceiling stretched down across a large expanse of space spreading out below. Half a level down, in front of her, was a large country kitchen, with a big dining table off to the right. Another half-level below that was a living area. The far wall of the living area was lined with sliding glass doors, leading out onto a terrace. Beyond that, the slope continued down across the meadow to the creek. On the far side of the creek, a wooded slope rose beyond the view of the windows from where she stood. Through a small eyebrow window at her level, she could glimpse far off trees and blue sky.

“Erik, this is gorgeous!”

“Thanks. It’s always wonderful to come back here, especially when I’ve been living in some dreary rental apartment on an assignment.” He smiled at a memory and said, “You should see this place in the snow.”

She nodded, seeing a large stone fireplace on the left side of the living area and imaging lying intertwined with him on the thick rug that lay in front of it, illuminated by a glowing fire while a winter storm howled outside. She quickly shook away the image and asked, “But how do you take care of all this, if you’re away for months at a time?”

“There’s a wonderful couple who lives in one of the guesthouses. They take care of almost everything around here. Mrs. Grady even cooks for me sometimes, when I’m around, and I’m too busy to cook for myself. She’s quite good. She’d spoil me rotten if I let her.”

“You call her ‘Mrs. Grady’?”

“Well, she’s British. It just seemed like the thing to do. I admit that I call her husband Chuck, but he’s an American.”

She cocked her head at him, still puzzled.

“Oh, she’s sweet enough. Very kind, really. It’s just that she has that gray-haired British sense of reserve. She first introduced herself to me as Mrs. Grady. It seemed wrong to call her anything else. Thankfully, she doesn’t call me ‘young Master Erik.’ That would be embarrassing. Anyway, let me grab some water and then we can head out. Do you want me to bring along any snack bars?” He started down a half flight of stairs into the kitchen.

“Ah, no. I just ate. Water will be fine.” She looked around as she walked to the steps. To her right was a study lined with bookshelves, which shared the top level with the entry. Erik had set the study up as a working office for himself.

In the kitchen, Erik opened up a black anodized aluminum refrigerator door and pulled out a small CamelBak day pack. Slinging it over one shoulder, he joined Melissa to head down the next half flights of steps to the living area. She noted the comfortable overstuffed leather couches and chairs as they passed through and out onto the terrace. Erik gestured down to the creek, “Across the stream is state park land. Upstream, it’s parkland on both sides. They allow hunting in the fall. The woods are crawling with hunters for a few weeks. Other than that, though, it’s pretty quiet. Well, except for daisies running riot.”

Melissa looked at him puzzled again.

“Sorry, just a bit of song lyric I’ve always liked.” As they walked to the steps down to the meadow, he started singing in a soft baritone.

By the time he finished singing, they were down to the creek. He gestured upstream, and they walked together. Melissa said, “That was really lovely. I think my dad sometimes used to listen to that song. He likes jazz.”

“Yeah, me too. The song’s an old show tune, though. I just like the jazz version of it. So what does your dad do?”

“He’s got a heating and air conditioning business. He does pretty well at it. He never went to college but sent all of us through. He’s even helping out with my grad school, although grant money covers a lot, plus I worked for a couple of years before going back.”

“Have you got a lot of brothers and sisters?”

“Two older, one younger. Joe, Liam, me, and Sean.”

“An’ I’m guessing that’s it’s an Irish Catholic lot,” he intoned with a soft Irish lilt.

“Aye now, from County Kildare.” She laughed, “Actually, both sides of my family have been in the States for a couple of generations, so I’m not entirely sure where we all are from. Mostly Brooklyn and St. Louis.

“How about you?”

He looked pensive for a minute before answering. “My mom was first-generation Ukrainian Jewish. Her parents were smuggled out just before the Second World War. My dad was a Mayflower blue blood mutt.”

She asked, “Was?”

“Yeah, they both died in a car accident when I was young. I lived with my dad’s parents, but my uncle, my mom’s brother, really raised me.”

He saw the curiosity in her face and continued, “My grandparents had a big house and servants, but my grandparents weren’t around much. Nearly every day, my uncle would come over and eat dinner with me in the kitchen. We’d do homework together. I spent a lot of my weekends with him too. He’s a college professor.”

Erik paused, seeming unsure whether or not to say more, and then he continued, “I didn’t realize until a few years ago that he’s gay. He’s from an older generation and not really comfortable with it. I think he liked helping raise me because then he had an excuse not to date. I razz him now about finding a nice man and settling down. He’s still embarrassed to talk about it, but I think he’s loosening up. He’s truly an awesome guy. I want him to be happy.”

The trail they had been following along the creek petered out into a fierce looking thicket ahead. Erik pointed at the rocks that littered the creek bed along this section. “Here. Follow me.” Then he started hopping from rock to rock, crossing to the other side. Once reaching the far bank, he turned and called out, “It’s easy.”

Melissa snorted, “Ha, that’s what you say. You just want to see me get wet.” She looked carefully at the rocks, retracing in her mind the path he had taken. Then she set out, not as swiftly, but making steady progress. She only wobbled once before making it to the last rock, which was a little further from dry land than she realized.

Erik reached out and took her hand to help her jump across. “See, I told you it was easy.” He loosened his grasp but did not entirely let go of her hand. She let her hand stay in his as they set off along the path on this side of the creek.

She asked, “So what got you into rescuing companies?”

“I guess I’m good at it. Not sure why, but I’ve been doing it since I got out of school. My uncle hooked me up with a group that specializes in turnarounds. At lot of folks in this line of work are just ‘turn and burn.’ They work out favorable liquidations or asset sales. It’s an easier payday that way.

“I like to take on companies that have a real shot at working it out. Usually, they’re in over their head with debt, and their productivity is in the crapper. It’s a death spiral. But if I can rework the management team, lean on the debt holders, and get the workers going again, I can usually get a business back up on its feet. At that point, I get a big payout. I do well enough.”

“Sure looks like it.”

Something in her tone made him stiffen, “There’re a half dozen companies and hundreds of jobs around today, that wouldn’t have been otherwise.”

“Sorry Erik, I really meant that in a positive way. I mean it’s clear that your values aren’t just about money. I could see it in your house. It isn’t some McMansion that screams, ‘look at me – I’m successful.’ Sure, your place is big, but it’s also warm and cozy. Beautiful, even. There’s a sense of goodness in it.”

“Ah, sorry I snapped. Lots of people think I screw over vulnerable companies to get rich. It’s sort of a sore point. I, um, thanks for what you said.”

Distracted, Melissa exclaimed, “Hey, what’s that?” She pointed ahead where some large rocks had tumbled together in the creek along with a log, creating a blockage where water spilled over the top and through the gaps.

“I’m not sure. I haven’t been up this far since winter. It looks like one of the storms must have rearranged the flow. I’m always amazed at how much a creek can change from year to year.”

They walked up to inspect the accidental dam and discovered a deep pool on the upstream side. “Wow, that’s awesome,” Melissa exclaimed as she kicked off her sneakers. She stuck one foot in and said, “Hey, the water’s nice.”

Erik looked dubious. “You sure. It’s a little early in the season. The water’s usually warmer later in the summer.”

“Wimp,” Melissa said, pulling off her shirt. Erik looked a little surprised as she started unzipping her jeans, then he saw that she was wearing a blue one-piece bathing suit underneath. She gathered up her clothes and set them on a rock, then stepped into the water. “Oh, that’s wonderful.” She continued wading in, until the water reached her waist, then she knelt down, letting the water flow past her shoulders.

She gestured with a teasing grin, “Come in, you big sissy.”

“Humph!” Erik crouched down to unlace his boots.

Melissa watched him, wondering if he wore boxers or briefs.

With his boots off, Erik quickly stripped off his shirt. When he unzipped his pants, Melissa realized that he wore neither boxers nor briefs. He slid his pants down as she looked away, somewhat embarrassed, from the sight of his semi-erect penis. He stepped into the water to join her. She looked back up to him, trying to keep her eyes focused on his head and torso.

She was happy to take in the magnificence of his body, even from the waist up. He was sculpted and lean, without a body builder’s bulk. His skin was smooth, without much body hair. She wasn’t certain, because she had looked elsewhere so quickly, but she thought that his crotch area was also shaved smooth of hair. Now, he was waist deep in the water, wading over to her, so she couldn’t tell for sure if her glimpse had been accurate.

He stopped in front of her. “What do you mean, ‘it’s nice’? It’s freezing!”

“Well, I’m warm in my bathing suit,” she said coyly.

“I see. So this is all a put-up to lure me naked into this icy water. Well missy, that simply won’t do. It just won’t do.” He crossed his arms and looked down at her with mock sternness. “You must be punished.”

“Oh no!” She gasped in feigned horror. “Whatever shall I do?”

“You will go to that rock over there.” He pointed at a smooth boulder a few feet away. “And rest your forearms on it.”

He remained standing, pointing at the rock, as she realized that he wasn’t entirely joking. He really wanted her to go over to the rock and lean across it.

“Well go on.” His voice was even and measured, but there was a command within it that both thrilled and scared her. She hesitated.

He lowered his chin, glowering a little now. She was still mostly certain that he was play-acting, but the effect was powerful. Even in the cold water, she could feel the warmth of her juices start to flow.

Hesitantly, at first, she swam over to the appointed rock. Rising out of the water, she turned and leaned across the warm smooth surface of the boulder, resting on her forearms as directed.

Erik came up from behind her. His hand traced the arch of her back from her shoulders to her bottom. Then he reached down and lifted her hips a little higher. His hand caressed the small of her back again, encouraging her back to form a deeper arch, leaving her buttocks feeling very high and exposed.

He intoned, “Very good of you to have assumed the correct position. You must keep that pose until I release you.”

She heard the words, amazed that someone was commanding her about how to bend over a rock, and even more amazed that she was so willing to obey.

With his left hand resting lightly on her back, he brought his right hand down into a sharp smack on her bottom. She felt a flare of anger, expecting the slap to hurt. Instead, a jolt of pure sexual energy shot through her. There was a stinging feeling as well, but the raw burst of arousal that accompanied being spanked was something she had never experienced before.

He lightly ran the back of his right hand across where it had landed on her left buttock. As the backs of his fingernails drifted across the blue nylon covering her bottom, she sucked in her breath, her sex clenching tightly.

Then he drew his hand away. After an interminable moment of anticipation, smack! This time his hand landed on her right cheek. She gasped again at the jolt of arousal, followed by a tingling sting.

Then his left hand reached under the edge of her swimsuit, where it was pulled tight across her buttocks. He gathered the fabric together in his fist and gently pulled this gathered material up along the cleft between her buttocks, turning the back of her suit into a thong, exposing the smooth skin of both cheeks. Before letting go, he tugged upwards, pulling her the crotch of her suit tight across her sex. She shuddered.

Without warning, he began spanking her again, this time without pausing between strikes. With each blow, she found herself ratcheting to a higher and higher level of sexual intensity. She held motionless, receiving every stroke with greedy anticipation, hoping desperately that he wouldn’t stop until she orgasmed.

Even as she climbed higher and higher, the crest still didn’t appear in sight. Her sense of time dilated and her rear seemed on fire. Suddenly, she was wracked by a shuddering orgasm, which had overtaken her as a complete surprise. The orgasm went on and on. Finally spent, she slumped, breathless and dazed, across the smooth surface of the boulder.

Erik stood beside her, his hand resting softly on the small of her back. As her breathing slowed, she sighed and shifted into a more comfortable position, draped across the sun-dappled stone. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see him smiling, seeming pleased that he had correctly gauged her and the moment.

Melissa let her eyes close, drifting along the edge of something that was not quite sleep. The warm hardness of the stone supported her from below while the light touch of Erik’s hand contained her from above. She was grateful for his steady presence. Otherwise, she felt as light as a leaf, ready to spin lazily downstream.

Gradually, she came back present. Lifting her head slightly, she asked, “What was that?”

He sat down on the boulder next to her, shifting his hand to gently stroke her outstretched arm. “At a guess, I’d say it was pretty wonderful.”

She hummed her agreement.

After a final moment to collect herself, she rolled onto her side to look up at him, propping her head up on her arm. “So… what can I do for you?” She looked down suggestively, her eyes sweeping across his naked form.

He laughed softly, “You can relax; enjoy the moment. I’m fine for now.”

She felt simultaneously relieved and puzzled. It seemed strange that he didn’t expect some sexual favor in return. She tried to relax again, but couldn’t. She realized that his refusal left her feeling awkwardly off-balance and even a little resentful, as though she owed him a debt. She asked, “Are you sure?”

“I’m sure,” he responded with a certainty that was at once gentle and absolute.

Looking at his face again, she saw his eyes intently focused on her. A self-conscious embarrassment began to grow within her. It suddenly seemed impossible that he had just spanked her. It was even more impossible that she had enjoyed it so much that she had one of the most intense orgasms she could remember.

He noticed her shift in mood and said, “I’d guess that was a different sort of experience for you.”

She didn’t answer right away, thinking about what he had said. His words were both a statement and a question. He was right, it had been completely different from anything she had experienced before.

Some past boyfriends had given her a spank or two, but it had never created the sort of reaction that Erik had stirred in her. Something about being commanded to submit had made the whole experience incredibly erotic before he even touched her.

Trying for nonchalance, she replied, “Well I’ve been spanked a little in play before, but I never… I mean, well, it didn’t do a whole lot for me, before…”

He nodded in understanding. “But now you seem a little embarrassed.”

She still felt off balance. His repeated habit of making a statement that was really a question left her feeling cornered and angry. “Yeah, what’d you expect? You just ordered me over here and then spanked the shit out of me. That’s… you know… demeaning. Is that what you get off on?” In spite of her genuine flare of anger, she was startled to feel her sex clench wetly.

He nodded thoughtfully in response to her outburst, which caught her off guard. Her past experience was that boyfriends, especially those that were bad boys, would respond angrily when challenged.

After a moment, he said, “The thing is… I think there’s a huge difference between fantasy and reality. For me, and I hope for you, what just happened was about exploring a fantasy, hopefully, a shared fantasy. If it had been reality… if I really thought I had the right to order you to be punished, against your will… and if you really thought you had no alternative, other than to accept that punishment… then yeah, something would have been seriously wrong. But I don’t think that either of us feel that way. I certainly don’t. And everything I know about you tells me that you’re a strong and competent woman. You’re not someone who’s going to put up with shit from a guy.”

“Um, not for very long.”

He gestured at the rock she was laying on. “Case in point. You didn’t hesitate to confront me when you thought I was demeaning you, which is really important to me. I know I can steamroller people. I don’t always like it, but it’s who I am. It seems that whatever I do, I bring a bunch of energy to it. That energy can intimidate people into going along with what I say, even when I’m wrong. That’s why it’s hugely important to me to have friends who aren’t afraid to tell me that I’m full of shit.”

She nodded slowly, then asked, “Okayyy, so why isn’t spanking a grown woman ‘full of shit?’”

“Well, first off, you liked it, right?”

“Uh, based on some of my past choices, that’s no guarantee it wasn’t full of shit.”

He laughed, “Good point. Me too. But I’m reasonably sure this wasn’t one of those things. We both really enjoyed playing out the fantasy of a spanking. As a guess, I’d say that right now, you’re hearing lots of messages, somewhere inside, saying what we did was wrong, or bad.”

She nodded slowly, “Yeah, but why aren’t those messages right?”

“It goes back to that fantasy versus reality thing. The messages would be true if what just happened was about reality. But I think what just happened was about fantasy – and fantasy has a different set of rules.”

He looked off into the distance for a moment, gathering his thoughts, then turned back and said, “You see, people are these insanely complex creatures. We overcomplicate everything, including sexual feelings. To deal with these feelings, we have managed to create a nearly infinite variety of fantasies and fetishes. For instance, some women get wet, just from the smell of latex. Some guys can’t orgasm unless they’re wearing a baby diaper. We’re just weird.”

“Yeah, I agree that’s weird, and kind of gross.” She shook her head, “ I don’t think that diaper image is helping your case for why fantasies are okay.”

He laughed, “Good point, but did you ever stop to ask yourself, why do we have all these strange fantasies? What gives them such power over us?”

Melissa shrugged.

Erik nodded, “Here’s the best answer I’ve worked out so far. Having sex with another person is incredibly intimate, which is awesome and scary, all at the same time. The thing is, I think all of us struggle with how vulnerable that intimacy makes us feel. Our fear of being vulnerable can paralyze us. For instance, many people have a hard time taking the lead in sex because they worry that the other person won’t like what they’re doing. ‘What if I’m rejected? What if I do the wrong thing?’ That kind of fear can steal all the fun from sex.”

He chuckled, “So at the end of the day, there’s this thing we really want, which is having satisfying sex, but getting it makes us feel vulnerable, and that’s really scary. I think the way we deal with this problem is by creating all these fantasies. For instance, some women fantasize about a man who ties them up and rapes them. Now, on the face of it, that sounds truly insane. The reality of rape is horrific and ugly, but the thing is, we’re not talking about reality here; we’re talking about fantasy, and that’s a totally different thing. I think that ‘rape’ fantasies exist as a way of dealing with all those fears about doing ‘the right thing’ in sex. For a woman who can’t enjoy sex because she’s too worried about doing the right thing, fantasizing about a man who ties her up is a perfect answer. In her fantasy, she’s physically prevented from taking any initiative. She’s forced to let go of all her worries about what to do, because there’s nothing she can do. Her partner has all the responsibility for satisfying her. Poof! Problem solved.”

Melissa stared at him in amazement, “That’s a really… interesting way of looking at it. You sort of turned the whole thing inside out.”

Erik nodded, “For me, the key to understanding someone’s fantasy is understanding how their fantasy helps them deal with their fears while also helping them get the sexual satisfaction they want. Since everyone’s fears and desires are different, we have created this astonishing array of fantasies.”

“Okay, but you’re still avoiding the whole issue of why spanking is a good idea.”

He laughed, “You are persistent, aren’t you?”


“Okay. Well, first off, remember we’re talking about fantasy, which means it doesn’t have anything to do with the reality of spanking. For instance, I’m pretty sure that if I had just started spanking you out of the blue… well, that wouldn’t have gone over very well.”

“No shit.”

“That’s what I thought. So, I tried to step away from ordinary reality into the realm of fantasy by ordering you to submit.”


“You could have said no, but you didn’t. Instead, you seemed willing to step with me into the fantasy, so I took it up a notch by actually spanking you.”

Melissa looked down at the rock and asked, “But why did it feel good? Getting hit is supposed to hurt. This is all screwed up.”

“Part of getting sexually excited is a rush of endorphins, which is our own little opium factory. That makes our pain threshold go up, which is why when you’re just about to orgasm, you can ignore a nasty couch seam that’s digging into you. It’s only afterwards that you realize that you’ve been scraped raw. While everyone is different, most people seem to have a crossover point where the incoming pain signals turn into pleasure signals. For the vast majority of folks, that only happens at a fairly low level. For other people, it’s a bit higher.”

“So what? Now you’re saying I’m a masochist?” She felt herself getting angry.

“No. Your response was definitely within the range of ‘normal’ – maybe a bit on the high side, but a full-blown masochist has a very high top end for pain, which can be a scary thing. They need a very careful dominant – someone who will help keep them safe.”

“So is that what you are? A dominant?”

“Yes, but I’m not a sadist, at least I don’t enjoy playing with a true masochist. I really don’t like inflicting that much pain on someone. It’s… well, it makes me very uncomfortable. Instead, I like playing with dominant and submissive roles. Spanking, or other corporal punishment – for me – is part of that dominant/submissive dynamic.”

“Dominant/submissive… then you’re saying I’m submissive?”

Erik held up his hands to forestall another reaction from Melissa. “Go back a minute to that submissive fantasy about being tied up and helpless. Remember, it’s the dominant who is actually totally focused on meeting the submissive’s needs. That’s the exact opposite of what dominance and submission look like from the outside. The same thing is true here.”

“Yeah, I don’t care how you try to spin it. I’m not some wimpy, helpless, submissive girl!”

“Wimpy and helpless – absolutely not. But in real life, most submissives are strong, competent people. Lots of them are managers or bosses. Again, that’s the difference between reality and fantasy. The reality of a someone’s daily life can be about being in charge, but when it comes to their fantasies about sex, they don’t want to do all the work. They want somebody else to take charge, so they can relax and enjoy the intimacy. Most female dominatrixes will tell you their typical male client is an upper-level manager who’s so damned tired of being in charge during the day that he really looks forward to being told what to when it comes to sex. It’s a vacation for him. It recharges his batteries.”

“That… sounds pretty crazy. But okay, I guess I get it. Um, if you’re a dominant, is that, like, a professional thing?”

“No,” he laughed, “I’m not a professional. I have different priorities from someone who’s that hard core. Being a dominant isn’t my whole life; it’s only part of who I am, mostly just the sexual part.”

Melissa looked at him doubtfully, “Not the business side too?”

Erik laughed again. “It’s true that I’m pretty head-strong on the business side. But a lot of what I do in business is really about the other side of a dominant’s skill: I listen carefully to people, try to figure out at a very fundamental level what motivates them. Then I have to decide out how to rework the broken systems around them and get those people, who are capable of changing, to work together in new ways.”

“What about the ones who don’t want to change, or can’t?”

“I get rid of them.”

“Just like that? Thunk, off with their heads!”

“Yep, just like that. Look, when I’m brought in, the situation is generally far past desperate. If I don’t make really tough decisions right away, everything’s going down the tubes. Nobody’s got a job then.

After a pause, he continued in a quiet, reflective voice, “And that isn’t fun. Firing and laying off people is miserable, but it’s usually the only shot I’ve got at saving something worthwhile. So I do it without mercy or hesitation. The longer the problem rots, the less chance there is of anything surviving to come out the other side.”

She nodded thoughtfully. “I can imagine you doing that.” She pointed to his chest, “There’s a certain… ruthlessness in there, n’est-ce pas?”

He grinned, “Guilty. I’m a thorough-going asshole at times. But hey, sometimes, I’m just a big softy.” She snorted in doubt. He laughed with her. “Truly, I can be.” he protested playfully. Then he turned more serious, “But no matter what, when it’t time to make the hard choices, I don’t flinch. It constantly amazes me, how far some people will go to avoid difficult decisions. The wild thing is, at least for the companies that I get called into fix, that’s how almost all of them got into trouble in the first place.”

“Anyway,” he continued, “we’re pretty far afield from figuring out whether or not you’re a sub.” He smiled down at her teasingly, “You’re not trying to avoid anything, are you?”

“Maybe,” she teased him.

He thought for a moment, then asked, “What’s that word mean to you, ‘submissive’?”

A thrill shot through Melissa. She fought hard to ignore, but her buttocks had clenched tight before she realized it. Erik noticed her response. He said, “Well besides that. I mean, beyond that immediate jolt of arousal. There were all those negative messages floating around in there too.”

Melissa’s heart was beating quickly. His ability to read her reactions left her feeling naked and a little trapped. She took a deep breath, putting her fear aside to concentrate on answering him. “Yeah. Sure, there’s all sorts of stuff. I mean, like, ‘submissive’ is all about some mousy, timid, lame-ass wife, whose husband probably beats her up.” She paused, then continue more forcefully, “It’s about being weak. Having some ‘big strong man’ make decisions for you.” She snorted angrily, “That’s bullshit.”

He nodded thoughtfully, “Agreed. It’s bullshit, which is why it’s important not to mix up fantasy and reality. The thing is, I think you already understood that difference, at some level. I saw you get into the fantasy and enjoy it. Then, wham, it was as though the negative messages took over and you shut down.”

She grimaced, “That’s exactly what happened. I mean, there was this wave of shame…”

He asked, “Raised Catholic, evangelical?”

She laughed, “Recovering Catholic.”

“That’ll do it, every time. If you like something deviant… then it’s bad… which means you’re a bad person. Was it something like that?”

“Something like that,” she slowly agreed. “And when you put it that way, I see why those messages mess everything up.”

“It’s hard to enjoy your fantasies when those messages are attached. Screws up relationships too. If the sex is bad, it doesn’t matter how great everything else is, it’s going to be hard to make the relationship work.”

She jumped in, “Sure, but on the other hand, the sex can be great, and it’s everything else that sucks. That doesn’t work either.”

He smiled in agreement, “Ah, I see you’ve been there too, and got that t-shirt.”

“A drawer full of them… um, not that I sleep around a lot,” she added, a bit embarrassed. “But it sure is hard finding a guy where the sex is great, and he’s actually fun to be around. Seems like I have to pick one or the other.”

“I’ve been there too. Fortunately, I got a much better sense of which way was up one summer during college.”

She saw a wistful expression flit across his face, “Oh do tell…”

He laughed, “Another time, perhaps. For now, let’s just say it was an older woman and a wonderful summer.”

“Do you keep in touch?”

“Another time,” he repeated more guardedly. Then, with a lighter tone, he added, “Meanwhile, I should get dressed, and we should head back.” He pushed off the rock, standing in the middle of the creek.

She sat up, letting her gaze drift over his naked, lean, well-muscled body. In a more playful mood, she asked, “Sure there isn’t something I could do for you?”

He smiled, “Well now that you mention it… I am feeling positively abashed at the disparity in our clothing.” As he spoke, his accent had drifted toward the cadences of Wuthering Heights and his smile slid into a wolfish grin. “And you, you tawdry vixen, you are shamelessly overdressed. Clearly, you must be scheming to gain some cowardly advantage over me by retaining those, those….” He stabbed in the air, gesturing at her bathing suit, “…those ill-conceived coverings. You shall pay a penance, I tell you.”

Melissa hid her growing smile by ducking her head demurely and protesting, “Oh my, whatever do you mean to do with me, sir? I protest that I am purely innocent, nay even virginal.”

Her assumed accent owed more to Gone with the Wind than the Yorkshire moors of nineteenth century England, but even so, the moment proved powerfully effective for both of them.

“I mean to instruct you in the proper way to be with me.”

“But sir, I fear the harshness of your discipline.” As she spoke, Melissa was surprised by the moist heat pulsing between her legs. She could see his growing erection as well. She dropped her gaze lower, so she wouldn’t be too obviously staring at his generously sized penis. Staring down at her lap, however, she was surprised to see a thin dark vertical line of wetness forming against the blue nylon of her bathing suit, where it was stretched tight across her shaved mound. She blushed, realizing the obviousness of her arousal.

His wolfish grin became even more masterful as he walked around behind her, tracing the tip of his finger up her arm and across the back of her neck, as she sat on the rock. Leaning in close behind her, he whispered, “Whatever shall we do with you?” She felt a shiver run up her spine as he swept her hair over her shoulder. He bent down, brushing small kisses along the back of her neck as he undid the fastening holding the top of her bathing suit closed.

Pulling the loose ends forward and down, he peeled the bathing suit downward, away from her skin. Her breath caught as the fabric hung, caught for a moment on her nipples, before springing away to expose their erect tautness. He continued to slide her suit down past her waist. As he reached her hips, she pushed her hands down against the warm stone, arching back and lifting her bottom so he could continue. “So much,” she chided herself, “for slowing things down by wearing a one-piece bathing suit.” She knew, however, that she was much too excited to even consider saying no at this point.

He slipped her bathing suit past her feet and turned to face her, letting his gaze sweep slowly up her naked form. Continuing in a somewhat subdued English accent, he said simply, “So there you are. Flaunting your outrageous beauty.”

Stepping back, he considered her carefully. She looked up, meeting his eyes as he seemed to drink her in. She expected to feel self-conscious under such intent inspection, but his expression was so clearly delighted that all she felt was a sense of powerful desirability. The myriad of self-doubts she usually felt about her body, when men looked at her, had simply vanished. Being the object of his arousal was intoxicating.

She found her entire body thrumming with arousal. She had never felt so beautiful.

He asked, “What indeed could you do for me? Something, I am sure… On your knees.”

She looked at him, puzzled. He repeated, “Come on. On your knees.”

Understanding now that he was serious, she complied, shifting to her knees on the warm stone. He reached out to reshape her form, “Sit back a little bit, keep your back straight. Not on your toes, tuck your feet underneath. That’s right; now sit back on your heels. Don’t let your feet splay out; keep a nice clean line. There you go.

He inspected her approvingly, then continued, “Now cross your arms behind you. Hold the opposite elbow in your hands. That’s right. Remember, keep your back straight. That‘s a little too arched. There, that’s it. And tuck your head down a bit.

“So, that’s perfect. That is how a submissive waits for her Master.”

Her pulse quickened at his words. She still felt uncertain about being a submissive, but she could not deny the throbbing ache coming from her clitoris. She was sure that her juices must be running down her thigh at this point.

“That’s a proper slave pose. When you are being displayed, however, your pose is slightly different. Raise your head up. Yes, arch your back so. Don’t look at me; look straight ahead. No one exists. There is only you, on display, for others to marvel at. They can walk around you, discuss your finer points with each other, but they do not exist. There is only the fire of your own arousal, and the certainty of your own perfectly unattainable desirability.

“When you kneel to receive, it’s also slightly different. Move your knees apart. A little further. Lift your haunches up from your heels a bit. Not too much, just enough to give access to any part of you that I may desire – to touch, to tease, to play with.” Reaching down, he slipped a forefinger deep inside her, curling his finger up to press against her G-spot.

She gasped, then closed her eyes to concentrate on the sensation that was quickly driving her over the top.

“No,” he commanded. “Stare straight ahead. Remember, you are not allowed to orgasm until I give you permission.”

“Uhhh…” She protested urgently, shifting her hips against the unrelenting pressure that was driving her quickly over the top.

“Don’t move!” Then he added pressure from his thumb, which had captured her clitoris by pressing down over the hood of her clitoris while his forefinger pulled firmly up against her G-spot.

“Oh God! Oh God! Please, I need to come!” She tried as hard as she could not to squirm.

In response, he slid his middle finger inside to join his forefinger, but he also slowed his stroking of her G-spot, holding her just on the precipice of her orgasm, rather than pushing her over. Once his middle finger was slick with her juices, he eased it back out and used it to caress the tight puckered outside of her anus.

“Oh, oh, please! Oh, oh!” She was not sure whether she was begging him to penetrate her rear, or if she was asking him not to. Her body, however, had already decided. Her stiff ring of muscle encircling her anus relaxed, opening against the pressure of his finger. He slid his finger all the way in, twisting it gently back and forth, while also increasing the firm stroking of her G-spot and clitoris. She responded with an inarticulate, “Aieee…”

He said quietly, “Now you may come.” She immediately began bucking hard against his hand, while her body arced in tension as the pulses of her orgasm swept through her. He reduced his pressure, but continued with gentle stimulation, extending her orgasm until she finally collapsed forward. Carefully, he extracted his hand, then stepped back to admire her slowly twitching form as she sprawled face down across the flat top of the boulder. Slowly, he drew his hand along her naked form, tracing the curve of her back down across her buttocks. She moaned incoherently in response.

He shook his head, “Normally I’d let you recover a bit, but I’m so horny at this point that I’m just going to take you and use you. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m going to last very long.” He shifted her until she was slumped facedown over the boulder, with her legs in the cool water up to mid thigh. He could see her bare labia, glistening with her juices.

Pausing for a moment, he said, “This is a terrible time to ask, but are you on birth control?”

She nodded.

“And you’ve got all your vaccines for HIV and the other STDs?”

She nodded again.

Stepping closer, he pushed his penis all the way into her in one smooth motion, completely filling her.

The sudden fullness roused her from her post-orgasmic confusion. Her eyes flew open as her muscles clamped down around him. “Uhhhh…” she quavered, as he began pumping in and out. He reached beneath her and pressed his fingers against her clitoris. She jerked in electrical shock, gasping as she suddenly and unexpectedly felt another onrushing orgasm. She didn’t think it could be possible, so soon after her powerful orgasm just a few moments before.

Erik was slamming almost frenetically into her, his testicles slapping against her as his urgent need to spend himself into her overtook everything else. He slowed a bit, however, as he must have sensed her nearing orgasm. He managed to hold off just long enough for her orgasm to grip her in a thrashing release. At that point, he drove as deeply into her as he could and let himself orgasm, his hot semen pulsing into her.

They vibrated together until he was finally spent. Then he let himself fall forward, bracing his arm against the boulder to keep from collapsing entirely on top of her. After a minute, he caught his breath and eased slowly out of her. Stepping back, he lowered himself into the cool water of the creek. Melissa continued to lay against the smooth stone, absorbing its warmth while slowly returning to reality.

He waded over to the bank of the creek where their clothes waited. Her bathing suit was still balled up in his hand. Stepping out of the water, he stuffed her bathing suit into his pack and began to get dressed.

While he was lacing up his hiking boots, Melissa finally levered herself up from the boulder. “Hey, you’re already dressed. No fair!”

He laughed, “But I like you naked.”

She smiled, happy to still not be feeling self-conscious at this point. She stood up. A rush of wetness ran down the inside of her thigh. Without thinking, she reached down and wiped it off. Looking at her messy hand, she realized that it was her juices, mixed with his semen. She looked around for somewhere to wipe it off.

Erik laughed again, then told her “You’re supposed to lick it off.”

She made a face, “Eww. Yuck.”

“Well, you don’t do it for the taste.”

“That’s for sure,” she agreed, “but then, why?”

“Because it makes me horny, and that’s what a good sex slave does.”

“Say what?”

“What you’ve got in your hand, that’s what men do making love. We’re guys. We can’t have orgasm after orgasm like you can. That little bit of semen, it’s the only thing we’ve got to show for all our effort. And we’re hopelessly proud of it. Our foolish male fantasy is that you crave it, that you desperately want our semen and delight in it. That you want to consume it, savor it. And you don’t want any of it to go to waste.”

He shook his head, smiling ruefully, “I know it’s insanely adolescent, but face it, we’re guys; we aren’t very deep. The truth is, we’re pitifully easy to manipulate. All you have to do is to convince us that your only motivation is to be a receptacle for our cum. Whether it is in your vagina, your ass, or your mouth, you can drive us to outrageous heights of ego-inspired craziness by making us think you can’t get enough of us.”

He laughed, continuing, “So that’s why it’s such a powerful fantasy for us to cum on a beautiful woman’s face, and then have her lick it all up.”

Melissa looked slightly disgusted. She was not certain she entirely trusted what he was saying.

“Look,” he said, “the facial cum shot is an absolute staple of porn movies, right?” She nodded slowly.

He continued, “It’s like a dog peeing on a bush to mark it. It’s saying, ‘look, see, this is mine.’”

“So now you want to pee on me!”

“Well, not right this second…” He laughed, “No, the point is that a man’s semen is what he uniquely brings to the party. Our cum is ours. And yeah, it’s how we mark what is ours in a very primitive sense. It’s our fantasy that women find it irresistible.” She smirked and he nodded in agreement. “Right, so it’s not the tastiest treat in the world, but when a woman spits it out, like she can’t stand it, that’s a real turn-off for a guy. We feel put-down. It’s almost like a slap across the face, rejecting what we foolishly believe to be the pinnacle of our sexuality. On the other hand, when a woman treats our cum as though it was precious wine, well then, we are absolute putty in her hands. That’s porn actress 101.”

He laughed, continuing, “It’s like I said, men are shallow. With us, you don’t need to look for deeper explanations when the obvious is right there.”

He gestured a casual dismal, and said, “But okay, I’ve talked way too much, again, and I’ve driven any possible magic out of the moment. Go ahead and just wash it off. But remember, to be a good sex slave, you have to crave cum, because you know that it drives your Master up the wall, and that’s what you live for.”

“Ah, yeah, about that sex slave thing…” Melissa’s tone made it clear that she wasn’t entirely convinced about the merits of being a sex slave or submissive.

He laughed again, “We can talk about that later. Meanwhile, I’m getting hungry. Let’s go back and I’ll make something for lunch.”

“Okay, I’m hungry too.” Melissa started to wade naked across the stream, then she stopped and looked at her hand, realizing that it was still coated with his semen and her own juices. Looking back at him, a mischievous grin lighting up her face. She raised her hand to her mouth, as she stared directly into his eyes, and licked her hand clean. By the time she finished, a clear outline of his erect penis was visible through the fabric of his jeans.

Nodding at his crotch, she said, “I guess it really works, huh?”

He nodded, “Oh you are trouble – wonderful and delicious – but absolutely trouble.”

She laughed, walking through the creek to him. When she got to the edge of the stream, she looked up, “You got that right!”

They laughed together, and then he reached down to help her step up onto the bank.

As she came up out of the water, he gathered her in his arms. He stroked his hand under her chin, then tilted her head up to kiss her deeply. Their tongues searched out each other’s mouths as she leaned into him. She felt her nipples tighten, along with a renewed heat and wetness below. Enjoying his lingering kiss, she wondered if she was always going to be wet around him.

She lay her head on his chest and pressed her naked body against him, feeling through the denim of his jeans his insistent erection. Teasingly, she slid her hip across the lump in his pants and was rewarded by a low, heavy, “Hmmm,” that emanated from deep within. She could feel the rumbling vibration of his sigh through his chest.

They finally stepped back a little. She asked, somewhat embarrassed, “Do you like the taste of yourself?”

“I love tasting both you and me, mixed together in your mouth.” He breathed deeply through his nose, “And I love smelling me on your breath. It’s the perfect perfume.”

“It’s just that ‘dog marking his territory’ thing, isn’t it?”

“Yep. And that works for me. I aways want you smelling that way.”

“Wow, sounds like I’m going to have to spend a lot of my time on my knees, sucking you off.”

He chuckled agreement and then reached down to unzip his fly. “Well then, you better get started.” He eased out his swollen penis and she knelt in front of him. Before she could take him into her mouth, however, he stepped back to look at her critically. She looked up at him, puzzled. He said, “Where’s your form? Point your feet. The tops of your feet should be on the ground, not your toes. Knees together, back straight, sit on your ankles.” She complied, and he nodded, “That’s better. Now where do your arms go?” She quickly put her arms behind her back, each hand grasping her opposite elbow. “There you go. Now hold your mouth open and your head up. I should be able to walk up to you and just slip inside your mouth.”

“Yeah… but that thing’s pretty big. Be careful with it.”

“You worried about gagging?”

“Well sure, with something that big.”

“Thanks, I think. Meanwhile, when you’re kneeling like that, you’re supposed to ask permission to talk.”

“Yeah, right.” She looked at his steady expression for a moment. “You’re kidding, right?”

“Nope, but we’ll get to that later too. For now, back straight. Mouth open.”

Without further comment, she assumed the posture that he had directed. He continued to stare at her, making her feel vulnerable and exposed. She wasn’t sure she liked the feeling, although the insistent throbbing between her legs told her that at least some part of her liked it. Based on the clenched feeling in her buttocks, she suspected that she liked it a lot.

As promised, he stepped up to her and slid his penis into her waiting mouth. He did indeed fill her mouth, but he was careful not to hit the back of her throat. She was unsure what she was supposed to do. Her mouth was dry from being open and now full from his penis. She moved her tongue over his shaft, trying to moisten everything.

He encouraged her, “Yes, that’s right. You should take the initiative in things like that. I don’t want you just passive. In fact, you’re supposed to be as inventive as you want and take risks. Being a good sub is a dance.” He started to move in and out of her mouth. “A lot depends on the dom too. Some want total control, although I think that’s a fool’s errand. Of course, I’m sure those doms think I’m just lazy.”

She had gotten his whole penis wet, at least the part that fit into her mouth. Now she was concentrating on sliding her tongue across the head as he slid it in and out. She also tightened her lips against his shaft as it moved, trying to squeeze against him. It felt strange not to be able to use her hands.

He grinned down at her. “Very good.” Stopping his motion in and out, he commanded her, “Now suck on it. Suck as hard as you can. Try to suck the cum right out of my balls.”

She complied, creating as much suction as she could, although her tongue was rapidly getting tired.

He said, “Okay, now relax. Open your mouth and stick out your tongue.”

This command seemed odd to her, but she was glad to rest her mouth. Sucking so hard on him had brought her tongue to the edge of cramping. She would have felt ridiculous if she had to stop because of a cramped tongue muscle. That would have probably ruined the mood, and she decided the mood was very… interesting. She had learned more about herself in the past hour than she would have thought possible. Her head felt as though it was spinning from so many torn up assumptions and new ideas.

Erik took his penis in his hand and began slapping his penis down on her tongue. It made a wet “thwap” every time it hit. The impact was gentle enough that it wasn’t uncomfortable for her, but it was clearly exciting to him. She was surprised to discover that his reaction made her excited too. There was something about being commanded and used by him that made her feel aroused. In the past, when a guy wasn’t paying attention to her and was only focused on his own pleasure, she had always hated it. But this was different. Erik was very focused on her. She was the instrument of his pleasure. Even his arousal seemed to key off her own arousal from submitting. He made her feel valued and sexy, instead of objectified.

Erik slowed down, groaning in pleasure. “Okay, now I’m going to go deeper, but I’ll take it slow. Take a full breath.” He waited for her, and then carefully slid in until the head of his penis rested at the back of her mouth, just short of her gag reflex. “Now just relax and hold it there. When it feels okay, take it in just a little bit more.”

After a moment, she was able to take him further in without gagging. He smiled and said, “That’s great. Just hold it there for another second and try taking it a tiny bit more.” She was glad to realize that she could accommodate him even further back, although her gag reflex was still close.

Then he pulled back out a little. “Now you can breathe. You see, the trick is to desensitize a bit at a time.” He pushed deeper again, and she thought it was a little easier to take him in. He instructed her, “Take your right hand and masturbate yourself. The endorphins will make it easier to ignore the fullness, just like how you don’t notice that seam in the couch until after you cum.”

She hesitated a little, embarrassed to use her hand on herself in front of him. He frowned down at her. “Don’t tell me that you don’t play with yourself. I know better.” Then he commanded, “Do it. Now.” At the same time, he pushed further back in her throat and she jerked a little. That propelled her into motion and she rubbed diligently at her swollen labia with her fingers. As her fingers got wet, she felt the soothing comfort of running her hand over herself. He was right. She did enjoy playing with herself. She brought her fingers up and around her clitoris in the swirling motion she loved.

As she relaxed and got more involved in easing herself closer to an orgasm, Erik continued slowly sliding in and out. He told her, “Pretend like you’re yawning. That’ll help.” Every time, he went a bit deeper and it seemed easier each time to let him. Melissa was concentrating so hard on her own nearing orgasm that she didn’t realize how deeply she was actually taking him into her mouth and down her throat. It was only when he started panting with the nearness of his own orgasm that she was amazed to realize how far into her he was indeed penetrating. By then, however, her own impending orgasm had taken on such an urgency that she didn’t care. She willingly opened her throat even wider so he could ram in deeper.

Just as she shuddered into the crest of her orgasm, she heard him gasp and felt the hot rush of his semen shoot down her throat. He pulled back out as she slumped down, spent. He stepped back. He was a little stiff-legged from the residual tension of his climax. A large drop of cum seeped out of his penis, gathering on the tip. As it started to drip away, Melissa darted forward and licked it off. Erik’s eyes shot open wide at the sudden intensity of her tongue licking his hypersensitive glans clean.

He said, “Oh you naughty girl! There will be repercussions for that.”

“Promises, promises,” she responded.

They both laughed. He reached down to help her stand and she leapt up with a hop. Erik’s eyes were drawn to how her breasts moved in a quick bounce as she landed on her feet.

Melissa saw him watching. He clearly enjoyed how firm and full her breasts were. She knew that her bosom had been higher and tighter in high school. As the years went by, she didn’t doubt that gravity would be the inevitable winner, but it felt ego-boosting to see his attraction. Even though she hadn’t liked gaining five pounds or so over the past school year, she knew that at least some of it had helped bolster her breast size a little.

Standing in the dappled sunshine, she basked in the clear joy Erik seemed to have in looking at her. He made her feel beautiful, and she was enjoying showing off for him.

She hoped she felt something deeper in his attraction. For a moment, she let herself believe that he might still feel this way in looking at her in twenty years, even after gravity had won its inevitable victory. Then she quickly squelched that fantasy. “The present,” she said to herself, “enjoy what’s here, now.”

Erik watched the contentment and hope flit through her expression. His mouth edged into a smile as he reached around and swatted her gently on the buttock. “Time to get dressed, oh Goddess of the Stream. I’m getting hungry.”

Melissa was once again shocked at how his light swat on her butt cheek seemed to instantly propel her desire into a higher state. She couldn’t entirely repress a little shudder that rippled through her body. A small gasp even escaped her lips before she could repress it. He seemed thoughtful, watching her response. Then he looked around and spotted a small tree along the stream bank.

He turned back to Melissa, “Well, I did promise…” He reached down to his unbuckled belt and slowly drew it out from his belt loops. It was made from braided black leather. Doubling it over, he took her hand and escorted her over to the tree, where he stopped under the lowest branch. He swung the buckle end of his belt over the branch. Threading the other end through the buckle, he cinched it tight around the branch. A couple of feet of braided leather now hung down from the tree.

He raised Melissa’s arms above her head, pulling her up to tiptoe, and wrapped the end of the belt around her wrists. He tied a firm knot, holding her in place. Looking up, she inspected her binding. He bent to kiss her upturned lips, then he gently traced his fingertips down her side. She shuddered again, her nipples taut and her sex vibrating in a quiver of aching anticipation.

Stepping back, he said softly, “Repercussions indeed. Perhaps I should simply leave you like this for awhile. Your pose is… quite fetching.”

He reached down to tuck himself back into his jeans and zip up. “Best put that away before looking at you all tied up makes me hard again.”

He stepped past her and walked away, calling out, “Stay exactly like that, no twisting or fidgeting.”

She obediently turned back to face the trunk of the tree and let herself hang there, watching the stream flow past. She wondered if he really would leave her like this for awhile. She tested her bonds. They were tight. While comfortable enough for the moment, she was worried that the leather might cut off her circulation. Her shoulders also felt strained, pulled tight above her.

She tried to relax, shifting to support as much of her weight as she could on tip toe. Listening for him, all she heard was the creek burbling past and the birds occasionally calling out to each other. A light midday breeze flitted across her bare skin.

Vaguely at first, then more definitely, she heard his returning footsteps. Fear battled with arousal as she wondered at what she had gotten herself into this time. He stepped in front of her. Somehow seeing his face was a relief. He reached up to check her binding, asking. “Are you okay?”

She nodded, unsure of what to say.

He continued gently, “If you really are okay, we can step it up. We can take it slowly and see what your reaction is. I think… I’m pretty sure that you’re going to enjoy this, at least in a deeper way than might be immediately obvious. In any case, if you’re willing to trust me. I want you to remember two things. Saying ‘yellow’ means, ‘I’m not sure I like this – slow down.’ Saying ‘red’ means ‘stop right this instant!’ Have you got that?”

She nodded, still a little scared and unsure.

He reassured her, “Remember, this is a game, a dance. Ultimately though, you are in complete charge of you. My job is to do the best I can to make sure that nothing happens that you can’t handle or don’t want. But you always have the final say. Okay?”

She nodded again, a little more sure this time.

He smiled reassuringly one last time, then drew himself up to his full height, somehow more imposing and in character. He gave her a quick wink to let her know that it was still indeed a game. “So we spoke of repercussions, little one. Promises, even.” He drew his left hand from behind his back, revealing a thin straight sapling, cut about three feet long. It had been stripped of its leaves. He took it in his right hand and swung it several times experimentally through the air. It made a buzzing sound as it cut through the air.

Next, he softly traced the outline of her torso with the sapling, letting the springy wood drift slowly along her bare skin.

Fear fought with arousal, as she looked down at the sapling sliding across her. She wasn’t at all that certain this was a good idea, even though the intensity of her sexual ache was reaching new heights. Her whole body clenched in throbbing anticipation. Faced with such desperate need, she didn’t know how she could say no. She reassured herself that if it really was terrible, she could say ‘red’ at any point.

Erik stepped around behind her and she arched her back, clenching even tighter. Waiting for the first stroke seemed interminable. Then suddenly she felt the “thwack” of the sapling against her buttocks. A fiery red impulse ran up her spine, exploding in a rush of sexual intensity across her brain. She gasped. The line where the sapling had contacted her buttock burned, seeming to radiate through to the other side of her body where her clitoris now begged for relief.

A second stroke joined the first, and she jerked. Lost in the rush of feeling swirling within her., she slumped down, hanging on her bindings, unable to maintain enough focus to balance on the balls of her feet.

At the third stroke, she felt her sex coiling around the beginnings of an orgasm. Another and another fell upon her as her onrushing orgasm screamed up from the depths. All she could think was, “please don’t stop now!” Then she crested over, thrashing back and forth, held suspended by the woven leather belt.

As her orgasm receded, he stopped. She swung gently back and forth on her bindings, feeling as though she was drifting in the air. Small aftershocks reverberated through her body with little jerks and tics. Slowly, she reconnected with the world, feeling the soreness of her buttocks and the strain of being suspended in her shoulders. She could even feel the texture of dirt underneath her toes.

Erik stepped close to her. Wrapping an arm around her, he lifted her a little into the air. With his other hand, he reached up and undid the leather belt holding her suspended. Her arms fell down around him in a hug. She quietly said, “Wow.”

He nodded agreement. “Indeed. That seemed quite… powerful.”

“Yeah, that’s for sure.”

“Now be careful. Remember your reaction before. At some point, all that Catholic shame stuff may come knocking on your door. You don’t have to let it in. It’s not yours. That shame nonsense… it belongs to somebody else, not you.”

He continued, “You, Melissa Conlin, are a beautiful woman, with every right to take her pleasure anyway she wants.”

“Damn straight,” she murmured into his shoulder.

They stayed in a warm embrace for several minutes, until Melissa arched her back into him, trying to relieve the stiffness in her muscles from being suspended. He pulled his hands firmly up her back, along either side of her spine, and she felt at least two pops as the tension relaxed out of her muscles.

He asked, “That better?”

“Yeah, but what about my butt? If I can’t wear a bathing suit at the pool, I’m going to be pissed. I don’t want people thinking… well, you know.”

“Don’t worry. You’ve got the cutest little red stripes across that delicious ass, but they’ll be gone in a couple of hours. There shouldn’t be any bruises. I was careful.”

She reached down to feel her bottom, surprised it didn’t hurt more as she ran her hand across where the sapling had struck her. “Wow, that was just plain weird. Who’d have figured?”

He nodded in agreement, “It’s continues to amaze to me as well. What arouses one person can be a complete turn-off for somebody else. We are very complicated creatures, in amazingly unique ways. The trick is finding someone else who fits.”

He paused, then said quietly, “I am very glad I found you.”

She suddenly felt breathless and overwhelmed, “Uh, yeah…”

He laughed, breaking the tension. “Come on, let’s get you dressed; then head back for lunch.” He reached up to undo his belt from the branch, while she stepped back, still a little unsure.

He reached out to take her hand. “The intensity takes a little while to unwind. Don’t worry about anything too much right now. Things will feel a bit more solid in a few minutes.” They walked together back to where her clothes were.

She said, “I’m okay. You’re right though, kind of intense. And uh, yeah, I’m glad we found each other too.” He took her into his arms, and they kissed.

“Yeah,” he whispered, “but you’ve still got to get dressed. Lunch is calling.”

“Okay, okay. Wow, you get cranky when you’re hungry.” She looked around. “Now where is my bathing suit?”

“In my day pack. It’s wet; you don’t want to put it back on.”

“That’s what you say.”

“I’ll show you. Put on your shirt.”

She looked at him puzzled for a moment, then picked up her shirt and slipped it on. She reached to button up the front, but stopped when he wagged his finger at her.

He reached around either side of her, gathered up the hem of her shirt, and started rolling it upwards. When he reached just below her breasts, he brought the two ends together and tied them across her front. “See, just enough support.”

She bounced on the balls of her feet to jiggle her breasts and found that the way he had tied her shirt did indeed provide some support. She quirked a smile at him, “Okay, that works, I guess. What are you now, my fashion consultant?”

“Something like that. If I’m not going to allow you to wear underwear, I’ve got to do something to help out.”

“No underwear, huh?”

“That’s right. Strictly forbidden. And Melissa, I mean ‘strictly.’”

She said, “Yes Master” and ducked her head in jest.

“So she is capable of learning. Go on, get on your pants and shoes.”

“Oh, oh, I’m allowed to wear pants? However shall I show my gratitude to my Master?”

“You best hurry and get them on before I reconsider. It’d be fun to make you walk in front of me naked, so I could admire those beautiful stripes I put across your ass.”

She turned away from him, deliberately bending over at the waist to pick up her pants, so she prominently displayed her rear. While still bent over, she looked back up at him and asked, “You mean those stripes?”

He sighed. “You are incorrigible.” Then he bent down on one knee and ran his tongue between her exposed labia, licking upwards until his tongue was probing her tight anus. He slid a forefinger in between her drenched labia and bore down, trapping her G-spot and clitoris between his finger and thumb.

She gasped as her need blasted through her. He slowly massaged her G-spot as the tight ring of muscle surrounding her anus relaxed enough that his tongue was able to penetrate. Her head was swimming. The beginnings of yet another orgasm gripped her.

Then suddenly, he stood up and said in a bored-sounding voice, “Well, are you going to put those pants on or what?”

“But… ,” she said slowly straightening up.

“That’s right. You get to walk back frustrated and horny as hell. That’ll learn you.”

“You sir, you are a cruel and heartless man.”

He snorted, “Glad you finally noticed.”

“Okay, I give. I’ll get dressed. Man you really get nasty when you’re hungry. I mean, what does a girl have to do to cum around here?”

“God you’re a greedy little vixen.”

She smiled in agreement as she slipped on her jeans. Erik reached down to gather up her socks and sneakers. He handed the socks to her as she sat down to put them on. She saw him looking carefully at her sneakers and gave him a questioning glance. He shrugged and banged them out against his hand. “Got to make sure no bugs crawled up inside.”

He handed her the sneakers. Once she got them on and grabbed her purse/mini-backpack, they set off together. Before slinging her mini-backpack across her shoulder, she dug out her phone to check messages. Seeing an e-mail from Professor Gavin, she stopped for a moment. Erik waited for her.

As Melissa scanned the e-mail, her face dropped. “Oh shit, oh shit! I can’t believe it!”

“Is something wrong?”

“Goddamn it! What the fuck am I supposed to do for the summer now?”

Erik stood quietly, watching her sudden anger and despair, waiting to see if there would be a further explanation, which she soon supplied, “Gavin says the university cut their summer budget. She doesn’t have enough money to send first-year grad students out on a dig. I mean, we had plane tickets and everything. It’s not like they were paying us much anyway. Oh crap. Like I’m going to find any kind of decent summer job at this point.”

Erik stayed quiet and thoughtful, while she read through the e-mail again. When she finished, tears had started down her cheeks. He reached out and gently put his hand on her shoulder, “I’m sorry.” He nodded down the trail, “Come on. Let’s get back. We can walk and talk. I suspect there’s some options.”

She nodded and started walking alongside him. “It was just Arizona. A Native American site. Not really my area of interest at all. I mean, it’s not like I was going to the Middle East or Greece or something. But it was a real dig. And some money. My fellowship isn’t enough to cover everything… stupid goddamned crap.”

“Is that what you’re interested in, Greece, Middle East, Classical Archeology?”

“Yeah, Raiders of the Lost Ark stuff, silly I know, but it’s really cool. So much of who we are, our culture, was shaped in that place and time. I mean, I like all of Archeology. That’s one of the reasons I wound up here, because the department isn’t divided up between Classical and Non-Classical Archeology, like it is at most universities. But goddamn it! How could Gavin screw us like this?”

“How much money was it supposed to be?”

“Only about three thousand, but they were going to cover housing, food, transport, all that stuff.”

They walked on in silence for awhile. Erik cleared his throat. Melissa looked up at him, realizing that he probably wanted to say something and was waiting for her to stop being completely absorbed in the disaster that had befallen her. She asked, “Yeah?”

“I have an idea. It’s a summer job you might be interested in. The sign-on bonus is three thousand. No strings. You can walk at any point and still keep the money. The pay is fifteen hundred a week. Housing, food, and transport comes with it as well. It’s pretty full-time. In fact, you’d only have off one full day a week and every other weekend.”

“Okay… what is it? I mean, do I have to kill somebody or something?”

“The job is simple. It’s being my sex slave.”

She stopped and stared at him. “You’re not joking, are you?”

“Nope. I’m serious.”

Her face got red, and she sputtered, “I don’t know whether to hit you, or walk away, or what… that’s really fucked up!”

He nodded, “It’s been a kind of interesting day that way, huh? Loads of unexpected things. Look, I’m not making you this job offer to insult you. But I don’t want to sugar coat it either. Please, give yourself some time to consider it. A lot has happened here today. It feels like good stuff, at least to me. It feels like the beginnings of a real connection. I hope it could go somewhere, and this job would be a… structure for making that possible. I hadn’t realized that you were planning to go off to Arizona for the summer. I’m really sorry the job got taken away, but I’m glad that you’ll be around.”

He waited, but she didn’t say anything, so he added, “Remember, you can quit at any time, even a minute after saying yes. I won’t hold it against you. I promise that the sign-on bonus is yours, no matter what.”

She said nothing. She stared at him for awhile longer and then turned to look away.

“Come on,” he said, “I’ll walk you back. You can call or text me later today or over the weekend. Just make up your mind by seven AM Monday morning. That’s starting time.”

“That sounds romantic as all hell.”

“Yeah, I agree; that was pretty awkward, wasn’t it?” He gestured down the trail, and they started walking together again.

As they walked, Melissa couldn’t figure out why she hadn’t already screamed “No!” at him. She was certain that she would never agree to be somebody’s sex slave. Even if it was a favorite fantasy of hers, she was sure it would be miserable in real life. She didn’t know why she was hesitating to turn him down. She wondered if she wanted the promised bonus money. She thought about it, but couldn’t see herself taking the money and then quitting. That seemed too slimy.

While she walked, she absentmindedly rubbed her bottom with one hand. As soon as she realized what she was doing, she stopped. She wondered if the red stripes really would fade away in a few hours. She hoped that the memory of this day would quickly fade as well. Perhaps it was all just a horrible dream.