Chapter 21: Interlude

Erik released the catch on the back of the mirror’s ornate frame. The glass swung away into the darkness beyond. He stepped through from his closet into the dungeon play room. Turning to the right, he pulled up a hidden panel and flipped on the bright overhead lights, so he could set-up faster. 

He hummed to himself as he pulled open a drawer set into the wall panelling and took out a half dozen lengths of soft, thick, black nylon rope. He looked around the room, considering the Saint Andrews cross for a moment, before dismissing it. The leather padded spanking bench was tempting as well, but he had already used it with Melissa, twice. A wry grin quirked his mouth as pleasant memories tumbled past his searching gaze.

He shook his head, amazed at how Melissa had leapt so wholeheartedly into this world and her role. She was an astonishing woman. He took a deep breath to still himself, closing his eyes to focus inwards on his feelings. He knew it was very early in their relationship and that the raging endorphins of infatuation were shaping both of their reactions, but he felt a deeper longing in his soul, which frightened him.

He knew his track record with long-term relationships was not good. As honest as he tried to force himself to be in his personal relationships, he recognized that deeper levels of intimacy and trust still terrified him. He pulled away, distracted himself with work, or just plain shut down.

Taking another deep breath, a grim sadness stole across his face as he let himself feel how unfair it would be to Melissa to treat her the same way.

She hadn’t pushed on him for more. She didn’t seem to be needy in a way that crowded him, which, in its own way, made his pain worse. He snorted in the frustration of having to face his own cowardice, admitting to himself that it was much easier to blame a pushy or needy partner for at least some of his unwillingness to let someone in deeper. The fear he felt was his own, and he didn’t enjoy facing that truth.

Shaking his head again, he turned his attention back to the task at hand. He knew he was avoiding going deeper in his introspection, but he allowed himself the excuse that she could show up at any moment.

His eyes settled on two ringbolts hanging from one of the ceiling beams and a matching pair of ringbolts set into the floor. Deciding that this would be a nice change of pace for her, he set the rope down on a nearby table and went back to get a pair of soft suspension cuffs and an electrostatic wand.

Leaving behind the lingering sadness of his introspection, he finished arranging things on the table and went back to reset the lighting to something more dimly sinister and appropriate. Taking another look around, he was satisfied everything was in readiness. He glanced through the opened mirror and didn’t see any sign of Melissa.

With a moment free, he slowed to consider what he needed to do over the next few days and how he could involve Melissa or not. In a flash of realization, he decided to bring her when he visited the most recent company he had turned around. Erik had been staying away from the company, in order to give the new CEO that he had brought in time to get established. Erik still had control of the company, however, as temporary Chairman of the Board, along with power implicit in his options to buy out the family who had owned the business for generations. He didn’t intend to exercise those options, but he did feel the need to check up personally on how things were going.

He slipped in his ear bud and stepped into his closet to get a better signal. He called Cathy and asked he to find some appropriate business clothes for Melissa. She laughed and asked a couple of quick questions about how formal and how sexy he wanted Melissa to be. He answered quickly as he heard Melissa coming down the backstairs to his bedroom. As soon as his call was finished, he swept the ear bud back into his pocket. Flipping one last switch on the control panel, he closed it up and stepped into the bedroom to great Melissa.