He touched her with a tenderness that belied his intent. His strong hands brushed over her bare flesh, sometimes light as a feather, then deeper, rubbing strokes, setting her skin alive with sensation.

He’d forbidden her to speak.

That single forefinger, pressed to his lips as her mouth had opened to greet him when he entered the house had been all she had needed to obey the unspoken word. An hour home and not one word spoken between them; he’d trained her well. A flick of the finger had seen her stripping for him, a slight tilt of the head had sent her to lay across their bed.

She wondered at his mood during these times, as if the unseen, unknown demons of his day swirled through him like milk in coffee.  Yet still that tender touch as he lay behind her, running up and over the soft hill of her hip, down her thigh, across her knee. Again he touched, as if mapping her…up her spine, making her shiver, then over the slope of shoulder to reach and cup her right breast. His hand held there a moment, weighing the orb in his hand, gently rolling the nub that rose at his touch.

She felt the soft butterfly kiss on her shoulder, then the nip. She bit her lip to not cry out, knowing the bruise would form just there, where his teeth had marked her as his.

The bed shifted as he moved off, the floor creaked as he crossed it. She imagined him standing in front of his wardrobe. That door opened silently. She imagined him looking at all the toys of pain that hung just inside, each weapon with its own hook or holder, all tidily put away. Which would he choose, she wondered.

The floor creaked, shifting under the weight of his mood as he returned to where she lay, a blank canvas waiting for the release of his darkness. In the stillness, the wooosh of the crop through the air was audible, yet the blow and the sound reached her simultaneously. She went rigid, fingers clawing into the counterpane as the reaction set in. For a moment only, there was just the sound of leather striking flesh; the burn came seconds later, the whimper stuck in her throat. A second blow, fast on the heels of the first made a sharp report in the room, followed by her short gasp of shock and pain.

Each blow was heavy, full of the weight of his need, followed by increasingly desperate whimpers from her. Her body was criss-crossed in ribbons of welts, the pain waves of heat rippling across her, and still he slashed.

The floor creaked, signalling respite. Her head slumped against the mattress, letting tears flow. She didn’t hear the floor creak, but the heat of his hand rubbing her welts brought solace to her heart.  His fingers traced one brutal welt that rolled under her bottom, and curved down her thigh. She sniffled back a sob; so tender that flesh, so easily hurt.

He lay over her and lapped her tear-streaked cheek.

“More,” he whispered. “Feed me your tears.”

Rising, she heard the floor creak, and knew there would indeed,  be more.