She sat gingerly for several days. Each time she forgot and plopped into a seat, a rush of memories rose along with the dull thud of pain. Her bottom resembled a virtual earth map, Keegan had joked, with hues for earth, and sky, and all in between. All she knew was that the marks were very evident–and she was fascinated by them.
Eventually all bruises must fade, and it was with sadness that she looked in the mirror after her shower and realized that every last little mark was gone. If Keegan had still been home, she would have pointed it out to him. She knew he was going slowly with her, but she really was ready for more. After closely checking her butt in the full-length closet mirror one last time, and finding nothing, again, she got dressed. With a frown she pondered about the best way to entice her man into beating her–and sooner rather than later. Which sounded weird when she thought of it that way.
Preoccupied with the thought, she headed out to attend to her errands. Across the street, binoculars dropped into a lap and a note was written in a little notebook, before the car slid into traffic a few vehicles behind Mandy’s.
Fae’s return to Nettles was heralded by gentle hugs but not much fanfare. Mandy could not make herself fawn over the girl, despite how badly she had been hurt. It was churlish of her, but it would take a while longer for her to forgive the younger woman for setting her up to be raped.
Later in the week she did a double take to see the man who had engineered that confrontation sitting at the bar talking with Jakob. She did an about face and sought out Keegan, who was fiddling with a cam button on the second floor.
“Did you know he was coming back here?” She poked him in his belly. “Well…did you?”
“I have no fucking idea what you’re talking about but if you poke me again I’m going to stick this screwdriver handle up your ass to try to find the stick lodged up there.”
She blinked. It was true, she had come up here blazing–and it wasn’t Keegan’s fault. She took a deep breath.
“Sorry. NO!” she cried, stepping back a step as he waggled the screwdriver at her. “I’m sorry, okay? But did you know that Sir Rat’s Ass is downstairs AT THE BAR talking with Jakob??? Did you?”
He lifted the screwdriver again, and she took another breath. His look was still blank.
“That…guy…that … dom who tried to rape me. Sir Whatshisface?”
Comprehension at last. She wanted to poke him, but he rarely threatened without the promise of follow through and so far he’d not forced anything but a finger or two up her butt. She preferred to keep it that way.
“Listen, sub, this is going to come as a shock to you. But this kind of thing–it happens in these sorts of clubs. People have a bit too much to drink, or get carried away and forget. Passion and want and need all wrapped up and then set free in here. This a place where the more carnal the act, the more fun. Malcolm? Well, he’s a jerk, really. But he hasn’t been arrested since the cops interviewed him–and found him not culpable in the beating and rape of Fae. So I have to believe that though he was a jerk to you, and didn’t get your consent–that he’s learned his lesson. After all, he was banned here for three months…and that can be hard when you’re used to a certain scene, a certain crowd. I’m sure he’s been other places, but you have to admit, this is the best of the best.”
She thought he was taking this all very calmly, while her own heart was still racing. That had not been a rape “scene”–it had been real enough from her point of view. She frowned up at Keegan.
“First, I haven’t ever been to a … a place like this…ever. Until I came here for the job. Second…well…I –He makes me nervous.”
“Then I’ll be sure to talk with him. Meet me in the boss’s office in ten minutes. I’m almost done here. Just–kitten?”
“I’ll be bringing my screwdriver.”
He annoyed her, and yet, amused her too. She giggled, kissed his poked belly in apology. His hand tangled in her hair, tipping her head back and kissed her resoundingly. He shoved her away with a fake frown.
“Scat. I have work to do.”
She saw his grin as she turned away. Good thing, since she was smiling too.
She tapped on the “NO” sign out of habit. It ever-amused her that Jakob’s first answer would be so, considering that he was such a good guy.
“Enter if you dare..”
Giggling, she pushed into the room. Jakob and Keegan were standing together by the fireplace. Automatically her eyes moved to the photo of the two of them about to be slammed by the big wave. It never failed to make her grin.
“So…” she said, her hands in the back pockets of her jeans. “You wanted me down here in ten. And here I am.”
“Here you are.”
“Come closer, Mandy. We won’t hurt you….much.”
Jakob waggled his brows at her, making her smile. But her heart was beating a bit quicker, too. The last time these two had ganged up on her her butt had hurt for a week. But of course, those bruises are gone now, she reminded herself.
“Are you happy, girl?”
She stood a bit taller, staring at Jakob quizzically. She didn’t think twice about her reply.
“Well…sure. I love this place. I have a great job. I have a wonderful boss, who is also kind of a freak. But I’m a freak too, now. I guess.”
She smiled a bit shyly.
“And then there’s him.”
She took one hand out of her pocket, jerked her thumb towards Keegan.
“He’s kind of cute, and very mean, and sometimes dangerous. But—I like all those things about him. Even the mean part. I think I’ll keep him.”
“Would you consider that you two are a couple? Beyond just being a play partner out there?”
“Well, considering that he’s almost living at my apartment, yeah.”
She wondered where this was going.
“Do you understand the symbolism of collaring? What it means in our community?”
She looked steadily at the two men, though her hands had begun to sweat a bit, and a slight tremor had set up in her belly.
“uhm…it means you want to ‘own’ someone. Kinda. Like a wedding ring but not legal by the courts, but by community.”
“She gets it,” Jakob spoke to Keegan, who took a step forward.
“Mandy–kitten–my submissive. I would like you to wear my collar. I want you to be mine. I may choose to share you –or not– but I want to keep you– for always– as my submissive.”
She swallowed, choking back emotion. She who had never believed she would ever be anyones special ‘someone’ was going to wear the collar of the man she most desired in the world? When she’d never expected, never let the thought run through her mind? Just being with him had been enough. This was…
“Uhm…WOW. I…I sound like I’m a brainfuddled idiot. This is unexpected. I…why me? Like…how is it that you and I…do you really….”
She stopped herself as the two men looked at her, smiling. Clearing her throat, she started again.
Before she could say more, Keegan stepped forward and covered her lips with his hand.
“That’s all you ever needed to say.”
Bending, he fastened the silver chain around her throat, securing it with a small padlock. Tugging down the neck of his shirt, he showed her a chain around his throat, with a small key on it. She understood the silent metaphor.
They were joined, locked together. And he had the power. well, kind of, she thought to herself with a smile.