In the morning, Melissa felt sheepish about her “spoiled brat” behavior the night before. Finally, over breakfast, she got the courage to ask Erik about it.
“Ah, Master, about last night…”
Alerted by her hesitant tone, he looked up at her, his attention tightly focused, “Yes?”
“Um, did I go, like, way, way over the line with being demanding last night? You know, like being a total brat?”
He relaxed a little, “Sure, but I figured you were just being silly, and it was amusing to play along. Besides, after the day you had earlier, it seemed like I ought to cut you some slack.”
“Okay, so you’re not angry, or anything?”
“No. Don’t worry; if I were, I’d tell you. You know me, if I have to pick between being polite and being honest, I always err on the side of honest.” He looked off across the room thoughtfully for a moment, then turned back to her, “On the other hand, if you are somehow just now revealing your true colors as a bitchy spoiled brat… and that’s always the way you’ll be from now on… then we’ll need to have a very different sort of talk.”
“No! No, really, I was just being silly. I mean, when I asked you to tie me up and all, instead of dinner or a bath, I guess maybe I was being a little bit pushy. But you asked me what I wanted, you know, so I could relax. Well, what I wanted was exactly what happened in your secret room last night. I mean, I can’t think of a more loving, relaxing thing that you could have done for me.” She paused, looking down a little embarrassed. “Am I weird – because when you whip me, I feel all warm and loved?”
“Um, okay, let me unpack that a little bit. So first, about you’re ‘being pushy.’ For me, I really appreciate your being clear about your needs. That’s good. Actually, it’s way more than ‘good.’ I really, really want you to know that you can always tell me what you want. Of course, I may not always be able to give it to you. Or I may decide to be a nasty dom and not give it to you, at least until after the scene is over. But no matter what, I want to know what you need.”
He laughed, “You say I’m good at sensing feelings, but nobody is a mind reader. Everyone just guesses, and I guess wrong, lots of times. I think communication is always better than guessing. And, um… crap, what was your second thing?”
“Am I weird…”
“Right! Okay, so you are most definitely weird.”
Melissa jerked a little back, feeling defensive.
Erik held up his hands, gesturing for patience. He explained, “In the big vanilla world out there, I’m pretty sure that most women don’t think being tied up in uncomfortable positions, being whipped, and then being penetrated anally is relaxing or loving. You, on the other hand, absolutely do. Which is very much a part of why I love you. But, the thing is, you’re not alone in liking what’s different. You’ve had a chance to see now, there’s a whole world of kink out there, and a lot of them love the same sorts of things that you do. And some of them think your tastes are pretty damn tame. So, I’d say the whole notion of ‘weird’ is sort of relative.”
“Going back to the ‘pushy’ thing, though, I think it was fine for you to ask for being ‘tied, whipped, and fucked.’ If you were a little strong about it, I’d guess that’s because you’re not always comfortable asking for what you want sexually, and you probably overcompensated a bit – maybe were more forceful – then passed it off as silly.”
“Yeah, that sounds like how I normally operate. Diddle around, then blurt things out.”
“Which I love,” he said gently.
Melissa’s heart suddenly started beating much faster.
Erik continued, “On the other hand after you woke up from your nap last night – especially when you told me exactly how to have sex with you after our late-night dinner – yeah, that would have normally been considered as ‘going over a line’ for a sub. For me, though, I thought it was funny. I enjoyed the change of pace. But… you definitely shouldn’t do that around traditional doms; you know, like Mistress Amy. And, truth to tell, I’d probably be embarrassed too, if you did it when we’re around other kink friends. It’s considered bad form, something that subs get punished for. And I mean punished in a serious way, not a play way.”
“You mean, like when Michael whipped Deborah?”
“For me – for us – I absolutely agree. That’s not something I’ll ever do to you. It’s one thing to talk about ‘being punished’ in fantasy play, but for me, the idea of punishing another adult that way for real – it makes me feel sick.”
He reached out to take her hand, “If you do something I really don’t like, we’ll talk about it. We’ll work it out. If it isn’t something we can work out, I don’t know, maybe we’ll go our own ways. I hope not. But no matter what, the idea of one adult threatening to punish another adult is not something I want in real life. Fantasy play is one thing. Real life is different.”
“Thanks. I get the distinction between fantasy play and real life. And I’m glad you’re that way too, because threats… just don’t cut it for me. I’d be gone in a flash. I’d never live like Deborah.”
“Agreed. It’s important, though, to realize that lots of doms and subs in BDSM feel differently – people like Michael and Deborah, both of whom I deeply respect. They draw their boundaries between fantasy and reality differently. And for them, I believe their choice is right, but not for me, not for us.”
“Yeah… I still struggle with respecting Deborah’s choice on that boundary.”
“I know you do. I’ve seen it in your reactions, and I think she has too.”
Melissa sighed. “Yeah.”
“I’m not sure how to explain why I respect her choice… I think… well, being a submissive is core to Deborah’s identity, in a way it isn’t for you, or Serena, for instance. In Deborah’s ‘real world,’ it’s really cut-throat business, and she kicks ass there. In her personal relationships, though, she needs something very different. For her, as a submissive to a dominant, being a sub is very important.”
Erik frowned, struggling to put what he wanted to say into words. After a moment, he continued with a different approach. “You know how you and I play with the idea, when we’re in fantasy play space, that if you don’t do something a certain way, you’ll get punished?”
“Sure, but like you said, that’s fantasy play; it’s not real.”
“Right, but as fantasy play, there’s a thrill in it for you, the idea that you’ll be punished for infractions. True?”
“So for Deborah, her choice about how to be a submissive takes that ‘thrill’ and makes it a fundamental part of her relationship with Michael. He is her dom, period. I mean, sure, they both have red lines, and safe words, and they negotiate what is allowable… but within their negotiated space, what he says, goes. That’s how she wants to live her personal life, in full submission to her dom.”
“Can that be healthy, though, to give so much of yourself up? I mean, do people really have long-term relationships, living that way?”
He laughed, self-deprecatingly, “With my track record of relationships, I don’t know that I’m the best judge of ‘healthy’ – but sure – I know lots of long-term couples who live that way, and plenty of them seem happy. In comparison, from what you’ve said about your past boyfriends… and from my track record as well… it’s not like either of us have really mastered long-term relationships.”
“Ouch. Point. But you’re not saying we should be like Michael and Deborah?” she asked with rising concern.
“No. That’s not how I want to live. I’m pretty sure I already told you that one of the important reasons Deborah and I aren’t together anymore is our disconnect about these basic ground rules for doms and subs.”
“Yeah. Sorry. I just panicked there.”
Erik looked down at his watch, then said, “You should ask Mistress Amy about all this. I’m certain she has a different perspective. But you might want to hurry. She won’t hesitate to punish you for being late.”
Melissa looked up at the kitchen clock. “Oh shit!” She bolted out of her chair, running for the door.
Outside, she cursed the winding picturesque path to the exercise studio, as the path wandered back and forth through a series of courtyards, forcing her to dodge from one turn to another. When she arrived at the glass doors, she took a moment to steady herself and catch her breath, then she opened the door to step inside and sink to her knees in front of Mistress Amy.
After a long moment, she heard Mistress Amy’s voice above her, “You cut that awfully close.”
Struggling to keep her breath steady after her panicked run, Melissa managed to say, “Yes, Mistress Amy,” in close to a normal tone.
“Something delay you?”
“Yes, Mistress Amy. Um, yellow light? May we talk, uh, person-to-person. You know, not just dom and sub.”
Mistress Amy knelt in front of Melissa, mirroring her pose, “Sure.”
“Thank you… Uh, is kneeling like this really comfortable for you? I mean, do you want to go sit down someplace?”
“There’s a bench outside.”
As they walked outside, Melissa tried to adjust her frame of mind to what seemed to be a sudden shift for Mistress Amy into being accessible. The dominatrix who had been such an object of fear for Melissa now walked casually beside her.
They sat down on a wood bench near Chuck and Abigail’s garden. A fountain splashed in the background and the stream valley spread out below them. It was so beautiful that Melissa made a mental note to spend more time in this courtyard.
Mistress Amy looked at her expectantly. Melissa took a breath and said, “You’re… a different sort of dom than Erik.”
Mistress Amy nodded.
A little flustered, Melissa asked, “Ah, can you help me understand what those differences are? I mean, I get some of them, but underneath – it’s like the two of you have some fundamental difference I don’t understand.”
Mistress Amy smiled, “Okay, so this is something that Erik and I have talked about. He’s Erik – of course he’s talked about it. He can’t stop himself from analyzing and talking about all this stuff.”
Melissa smiled, nodding in response.
Leaning back against the bench, Mistress Amy continued, “The core difference comes from why we both are doms. I’m a dom because I’m a sadist. Hurting other people is what gets me horny.”
Melissa’s eyes grew wider.
Mistress Amy laughed lightly, “No silly, I don’t kidnap people and torture them, well, not unless they really want me to.” She smiled again to show she was joking. The she continued a bit more seriously, “I only play with subs who are masochists – people who are sexually aroused by pain, by someone hurting them.”
Melissa asked, “But what about me? I mean, these training sessions? And when you whipped me at the party?”
“So, Erik told me that he had reassured you early on that you weren’t a pain slut, right?”
“Oh, he didn’t think he was lying. And to give him credit, your masochism is only a part of what makes you a sub. What Erik would call a ‘pain slut’ – which, by the way, is a term I think is very derogatory and should never be used – anyway, for Erik, that’s someone whose primary arousal comes from masochism. So for you, I’d agree with Erik that masochism isn’t your primary form of arousal. But… that doesn’t let you off the hook.” Mistress Amy paused, then said, “Take off your sports bra.”
Melissa hesitated briefly, then reached under her sports bra and wrestled it over her head. She balled up the stiff white material and put it on the bench behind her.
Mistress Amy gave her a reassuring smile, then reached over to capture one of Melissa’s nipples between a thumb and forefinger. Melissa schooled herself to remain motionless, not complaining as Mistress Amy squeezed down firmly. The pressure hurt, but it wasn’t so painful that Melissa wanted to cry out.
Mistress Amy let go, then sat back. “So, are you wet?”
The question startled Melissa. She sat motionless, not sure how to react. Shifting her inner focus to between her legs, she was dismayed to realize that she was indeed aroused. Defensively, Melissa protested, “But that could be just because I submitted to you, not because it hurt.”
“Sure, but I think it’s both. Submitting to me may have been the stronger kick – but, most subs don’t orgasm from just being spanked or whipped. You do.”
Melissa felt her cheeks flush from embarrassment.
Mistress Amy reassured her, “It’s okay; it’s not that unusual for a sub to orgasm from punishment.”
Melissa said despondently, “It’s just that it’s been hard enough, coming to terms with the idea that submitting makes me horny as hell. But pain? Liking pain? That really crosses over into the mentally damaged category.”
“So, I get that you’re creeped out, but please get rid of those pejorative comments right now. You’re talking to someone who’s a sadist, and I sure as hell don’t consider myself mentally damaged. I’m not some psychopath who gets her jollies from hurting innocent people. That’s mentally damaged. A willing partner is an absolute requirement. Inflicting pain on a willing partner is what gets me sexually aroused. An unwilling partner? That’s just wrong.”
Mistress Amy paused, then continued more calmly, “Just because you’re a masochist, that doesn’t mean you want people to hurt you. You don’t want some random guy to punch you and beat you; that’d be sick. Being a masochist means that you find a little bit of pain in sexual play to be stimulating. Nearly everyone has some crossover into arousal from the endorphin release that comes from pain. You just have a little more.”
“Oh.” Melissa sat for awhile, looking blankly out at the valley, trying to readjust her self-image, struggling with whether or not she believed Mistress Amy. Even though Melissa wanted to deny it, looking inside herself, she knew there was some truth to what Mistress Amy was saying.
“Okay,” Melissa said, turning back to face Mistress Amy. “So are you saying that Erik a sadist too?”
“Aha! You nailed the core issue.”
“He is?” Melissa asked in panic.
“No! Not at all. Zip, zero, zed. Hurting people is a total turn-off for him.”
“What? Then… what about all the spanking, and whipping, and that fucking strappado?”
Mistress Amy smiled, “He got you in a strappado, did he? Anyway, all of that is simply a fetish for Erik. It’s the same way that he likes women in high heels. It’s the imagery, the ritual of the whipping – it has deep sexual power for him. It’s how he gets aroused. But if he’s actually hurting someone, he can’t stand it.”
Melissa nodded her understanding, then laughed. “Some of those high heels really do hurt.”
“True …the stupid shit we do for men. Of course, a nice pair of heels can make your legs look good.”
“Yeah, those heels you wore when you were visiting Erik a couple of weeks ago, they were really hot.”
“Maybe, but it’s the pencil skirt, the tight suit jacket – the whole thing. That’s what makes it work.”
“Sure, I get that… But you slapped me!”
“Yeah, and I bet you fucked Erik right after I left.”
“Uh… not fair.”
“Ha! I’ll tell you what isn’t fair. It’s that you’re just enough of a masochist to really enjoy all the whipping and stuff that gets Erik hot and bothered, but you’re not so much of a masochist that you scare him off.”
“You like Erik, don’t you?”
Mistress Amy didn’t reply. Instead, she looked off across the patio, her lips pressed firmly together.
Melissa was angry with herself for once again blurting something out. She wanted to say something to ease the other woman’s pain but didn’t know what would help. She finally said, “I’m sorry.”
Mistress Amy sighed angrily. After a moment, in a more wistful tone, she said softly, “I guess it wasn’t meant to be.”
Melissa tried to soften the tension by saying, “I don’t know about this stuff, but I sort of thought that two doms don’t usually get together…”
“If they have a stable of subs, they can.”
“But Erik would just ruin them. Spoil them rotten, just like he’s trying to ruin you.”
Trying to defend Erik, Melissa said, “Where I’m at right now is already so hardcore, I can’t imagine wanting even more…”
Mistress Amy laughed sharply. “Look inside yourself. Listen to your heart. You have so goddamn much potential as a submissive. For one moment, let yourself imagine living only for your Master. I promise you, if Erik and I kept you as part of our stable, I’d keep you chained up whenever Erik and I went out. And I know you. You’d hardly be able to wait for us. You’d be so horny, chained up, not allowed to play with yourself. Your whole world would collapse down to pleasing your Masters.”
Melissa was horrified by Mistress Amy’s fantasy, and even more by the realization that she found it arousing. Melissa struggled to answer, finally settling on, “Even if I could be that sub, there wouldn’t be room in my life for all of the other things that are important to me: school, career, family… I just can’t –won’t – give that up.” Melissa looked around, taking in the beauty of the setting. “Even this life. It’s really just a fantasy, a summertime fantasy. I can’t see doing this once school begins.”
Mistress Amy stared at her in horror. “You’d throw all this away? Erik too?”
Melissa fumbled for a response.
Mistress Amy spat out, “Fool!” Angrily, she stood up. “My time’s up. Do your own damn exercise.” She stalked away, without looking back.