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Mirage

It’s the first hot day, the first day of skin baking as soon as you step outside, of air that scalds your lungs when you breathe deep. I’m lying in the grass eating apricots that she won’t touch. Too warm, she says. Like eating small furred creatures alive. (She says “souris”–mice, not “creatures,” but it’s small, burrowing things she calls to mind). The heat makes my scalp itch. She’s pacing like a tiger in a cage. We’re alone as far as we can see: shimmering air, our picnic bag, Mad, and me.

“You are going to burn.” She’s pouting.

“So are you. Should we find some shade?”

“Too hot. We will die here, all burned up and blistered.”

“Oh. In that case you should kiss me.”

“Tu es folle?”

“You won’t give me a dying wish?”

“Tu veux un baiser?” She’s smiling, finally, looking down at me.

“Yes. No. Je veux…baise moi?”

“I knew you would say that.” She’s grinning. It wouldn’t be the first time we fucked outside. There’s no one here. I hold my breath. She shakes her head. “How can you think like that, it’s so hot.”

She isn’t touching me, and I don’t think she will. It’s too hot. My hair is shifting in the grass. I stifle a shudder at the image of fire ants marching through it. I’m sweating, my shirt stuck to my skin. I am trying to remember that she is delicate. Under this sun, she wilts. Under her, I turn cracked and hard. I want to kiss her–yes, even sticky with apricots. Even with sweat drying salt on my skin. I want her hands creeping under my clothes, clawing, burrowing for cooler earth straight through me. I am wishing her poise would melt along with her makeup, am comforted that it does not. I crave her something vicious and irritable. I want to kiss her like a cottonmouth strikes, again, and again, long after my venom runs out. I want to lick the shimmer from her skin. I want her to make me forget the redness blooming across my skin.

But she is waiting for me to stand, and when I do her kiss is soothing. “Let’s go.” I let myself be soothed.

We leave apricots and dented grass behind.

Red in Tooth and Claw

He’s puppy-eager, all sweetness and smiles. We haven’t made plans for after the show, haven’t ruled them out either. He suggests a wine bar. I don’t drink wine. “Well, I kinda have a surprise for you, if you want to come back to my place? Maybe. Do you like surprises?”

I don’t like surprises, as a rule, but he’s sweet and eager enough that I’m willing to humor him. It’s an under-bed restraint, the kind with velcro cuffs. He’s suddenly shy, showing it to me. “I don’t know if you like– I don’t want to freak you out.”

I laugh. I know I shouldn’t. It’s good that he’s cautious; he barely knows me. I move in close to him. “I’m not freaked out. Though I don’t know if you’re a top or a bottom?”

“Um. Top, usually. But I like both. You?”

“Total switch.”

“So how about you tie me down first, and we’ll switch later if you want?”

“Mhmm.”

I kiss him, partly because I feel awkward and unsure what to say, mostly because I’ve been wanting to since he first showed his teeth. I’m in heels. Even pulling his hair to tilt his face up, I have to lean down to reach him.

He shuffles. “The problem with being short.”

“It’s not a problem.” I step out of my shoes. But–“I’m on my period. Is that going to bother you?”

“What? No. Wait–does it mean I can’t eat you out?”

“Depends how you feel about blood, I guess.”

I’m wary. Plenty of men have told me they have no problem with menstruation–until they see or feel or smell blood and they’re suddenly shocked and disgusted. But we’ll see.

He’s cuffed to the bed, tense and straining. I am holding him by his hair and one wrist. I’m kissing him. There are a thousand things I want to do with him, and all of them have to wait. I can’t stop kissing him. I can try. I can tease, pull just out of reach and let him strain against my grip in his hair to reach me. But then I look at him, so open and hopeful. But then he says “please” and I want to devour him. This is still kissing, isn’t it? If it’s mostly teeth, if I’m not sure whether he’s tilting his head to get closer or because he’s afraid I’ll break skin?

“What are you up for?”

“Whatever you’re comfortable with.”

I lean back on my heels, try not to sigh. He should know better. It’s a conversation we should have, but right now we’re both giddy with sex. Right now, if he can’t be specific, I can.

“Are you ticklish?”

“What?”

I graze my nails across the soles of his feet. He thrashes. “Oh, shit!” I keep tickling. I’m listening for it. It doesn’t take long for him to choke a “stop!” out through helpless laughter.

“Stop?” My hands are already off of him.

“I mean–you don’t have to.”

“You said stop. I do have to.” I move over him. “How do you feel about biting?” My mouth is an inch from his skin.

“Okay. Good.”

He tenses as my teeth sink in. He is moving in small waves, making small sounds. He marks easily. My teeth leave rising welts above a tattoo, below his ribs, across his collarbone. He’s moving but so quiet. I look up at him. He’s biting his lip. “What, I’m not biting hard enough?” I laugh. “If you need more…” I bite hard enough to make him hiss.

He laughs. “Am I bleeding?”

“I’m not biting that hard.” I bite harder.

“Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck” Curses rattle out of him like a screen door in a storm, and God, what it does to me to see him so nearly unhinged.

I have one hand on his cock to anchor me while I drift over him. I take him in my mouth, only for a moment. I don’t want to take my eyes off his skin, off the lines my fingernails are leaving. He’s making sounds that aren’t words. I’d rather hear words. “What do you want?”

“I want you to fuck me.” He’s breathless. It’s beautiful.

“Condoms*?”

He lets his head thump back on the mattress. “In the car.”

I laugh. There’s no chance I’m getting dressed and walking across the street in the middle of the night to rummage through his car for a condom. I know I’ll want one later, but for now–“you want to fuck me?”

“Yes.”

“That’s too bad.” His whole body jerks. I’m kneeling over him, teasing, just out of reach. He’s begging. Please, and your skin is so soft, I can’t stand not touching it and please. And I tease. At some point he’s beyond caring if we use a condom or not, or maybe he knows he can say whatever he wants and it won’t make a difference. And I laugh again. It’s a delight to have him this desperate. He’s begging me to kiss him, to just let his hands free, to let him get me off. I let him loose; I want his hands on me as much as he does.

He slides his fingers into me, and I stop trying to think at all. We are lines and angles and waves. I’ve lost track of my hands, try not to notice it, focus on his. I’m too loud, too shaken. It’s a struggle to sit up, after. “Oh. Fuck.”

“What’s wrong?”

“You’re pretty much covered in blood.”

He looks down. It’s not much of an exaggeration. I’m bracing for disgust, my own as much as his. He grins. “Badass.”

I’m too floored to speak. His mouth is on mine before I have to. We keep going. Keep saying it’s time to run down to the car but we wear ourselves out first, don’t break apart until dehydration forces us to.

We look like the aftermath of a slaughter.


*I always, always carry condoms in my purse. Regular, latex-free, textured, plus a few packets of lube. But I wasn’t carrying magnums. This oversight has since been remedied.

Talk to me

“I want to do like a predicament scene with clothespins.”

“I have clothespins.”

“Yeah?”

“A few hundred of them.”

“Want to get your toybag?”

“Absofuckinglutely.”

“Wait, did we just negotiate?”

“Not yet. Who’s topping?”

“Uh, me. Remind me about your limits? No knives, and..?”

“Don’t fuck with my head, don’t hit my feet. No knives.”

We fumble briefly, decide to lay out a grappling mat. It takes only a minute to turn a vague idea of clothespin predicament into a plan. Four lines of pegs attached to a cross, me on tiptoe with arms stretched wide.

“So you move, you rip them off.” She’s grinning hugely.

“It will be a tense 43 seconds.” I move a lot.

“43 seconds? C’mon, you can do better than that.” She hits me before I can answer. Just slapping, bare handed. I relax into it, waiting for heavy pain. She throws a punch, hard enough to make me wobble. Two pegs snap off my hip, and I giggle.

“What happened to 43 seconds?”

“Getting bored?”

“This standing thing isn’t working for me, you’re too tall.”

“Okay.” I spin to face her, clothespins snapping all at once. She’s closer than I thought, holding a wide stance with her face an inch from my chest. “Oh! Hi!”

She looks up. “Hi. You watch pro wrestling right?” She grabs me under the arm and by the back of the knee, half-tosses half-drops me across the mat. “That’s some WCW shit right there.”

“William Carlos Williams?”

She pauses. I’m balanced on clawed hands and one knee. She’s dragging my body up by the other leg, hauling it up above my head. “What?”

The poet. WCW. You know, ‘so much depends-‘”

“‘On a red wheel barrow–‘ yeah. The hell is wrong with you, girl?”

“How long you got?”

“Until you start screaming.” She slams me down with a thump to the shoulder blade. I see Spouse hand her a wooden spoon. She applies it fast and hard to my inner thighs. I’m sweating, which makes it sting worse. I do scream. Well, yell. “Ow!” and “fuck!” and “fucking ow!”

“Aww, does it hurt?”

“Fucking stinging fucking goddamn fucking spoon! I hate that thing.”

“Guess you should go to your cave.” She starts hitting again, improbably loud slaps that have me punching the mat.

“What are you on about?”

“Your cave.” Slap. “Find your power animal.” Slap. “You know.”

“It’s a goddamn penguin!” We’re both giggling hard.

“Okay okay, be serious. I forget, have we tried this before?” She grabs my chest and lifts. She has tried if before. Attempt to induce a spasm in one of the pectoral nerves, I think. “Yeah. It doesn’t work.”

She frowns. “TMJ?”

“Nope, sorry. I mean you can try.” She applies pressure, and I take a moment to pop my jaw.

“Nothing?”

“Actually feels better now, thanks.”

“No problem.” She punches me in the chest, hard. It’s unexpected. I make a sound when I exhale. “What was that? He-?”

“No, just–hur” she punches again, forces air out.

“Definitely an “H”. Hmm. Hell? Hi? Henry?” We’re back to slapping, apparently. I start laughing, a hand over my mouth doing nothing to hold it in. “What?”

“I’m Henry the eighth, I am…” There is no excuse for singing Herman’s Hermits (hell, I shouldn’t be allowed to sing at all) but I’m committed. At least through the end of the chorus. I can’t remember the rest.

“Oh my fucking God. Turn over. I don’t even want to look at you.” She’s laughing. I hear her rummaging in my bag, focus on my balance rather than looking over. Too much weight on my left knee, pins and needles ascending on that side. She waits while I flex.

There’s no talking after that. She’s found everything that stings and she’s using them hard. I glance up: we have an audience, no one else is playing. Fuck it. I scream. Cuss. Shout. Shriek. Pain turns into energy, needs an outlet. I’m punching the mats in rhythmless staccato, balancing on the fingertips of my left hand while the right slams into the ground.

She stops, hands resting on my thighs. “You good?”

“Yup.”

“‘Yup’? Then what was all that noise about?” A two handed slap, with all her weight behind it. Ow. “Just having a tantrum?”

I giggle. “Hysterics. You know how it is with women; we just have fits over nothing.”

“Ugh, I know.” She pauses, as though she has more to say. Laughs instead. She drags me to my knees, prods everywhere she’s hit. “You’re really warm.” She leans across me to pick up the Sandman. Copper rolls over my skin.

“Fuck!”

“What?”

“It’s cold!”

“It’s cold.” I want to bite her smirk right off. “You don’t like the cold?”

“I am a lizard and I’m going to die!”

The whole room laughs at that one. She laughs loudest. “So go to your cave!”

“It’s cold there too!”

We’re both breathless with laughing. I can’t meet her eyes without making it worse.

“Okay, we good? We done?”

“We good.” I grab her in a bear hug. “Thanks. I needed that.”

“Bet you did, girl.” She helps me clean and pick up–unusual, that.

I’ve had quiet scenes. Play where the loudest sound is a quick breath or a clink of glass. They’re pleasant, calming. Nothing like this. Two people come together not in silent understanding that may or may not be all imagined, but in conversation. We’re raucous and vulgar and laugh too much. We have fun.

Some folks hold back. Don’t joke; it’s disrespectful. Don’t scream; it’s weak. Don’t speak; it’s not the time.

To hell with that. I’m not here to skate the surface of you, I’m here to dive in. Let all those words and sounds and all the rest of it break the surface.

Talk to me.

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

Ginger chickens have notoriously poor decision making skills.

“You’re nuts.” the Fireman’s wife is barely containing her laughter. “Completely nuts. You know what a sadist is, right?”

“I still have the bruises from last weekend.” I find her reaction oddly calming. If she thinks it’s funny, he probably will, too.

“And you’re going to say that.”

“That’s the plan.”

“To his face.”

“It’s rude to talk behind people’s backs.”

“You’re nuts.”

“I get that a lot.”

I have to wait. There’s a beautiful woman draped over him, pouring wax onto her own skin. I watch, whispering with Mr. Photoshop about electricity, making tentative plans for later. Mr. Photoshop is distracting enough that I don’t notice when the dancing and wax ends, or see the Fireman approach. I feel his body heat, though: the man is a walking radiator even when he hasn’t been playing with fire and wax for three hours straight.

“Hey,” he nods at Mr. Photoshop, then turns to me. “I’m gonna get some water, then you’re up. Ready?”

“Ready.” I take a deep breath. “Wait. I’ve been trying to work up the nerve to tell you this joke for two months.”

He raises an eyebrow, silent.

“Why did the chicken cross the road?”

“Why?”

“To find a top that didn’t hit like a little girl.”

His grin turns Cheshire cat. “How hard do I have to hit you to prove my manliness?”

“I dunno. Want to see if you can make me cry?”

“Water first, crazy girl. Then we cross the road.”

He practically skips out of the room. Mr. Photoshop shakes his head, staring at me. “You’re crazy. He’s going to tear you apart.”

“You think?”

“I’ve never seen a man look so happy. You just handed a toddler a box of crayons and a blank wall.”

I grin back. “Wait ’till you see the crayons.”

I blame Peroxide, by the way. By which I mean I owe Peroxide about five pounds of chocolate for this. That scene was amazing.

I Hit Like a Girl

We’re not talking about straps and switches and crops here. With an implement, I can easily hold my own. But I have recently discovered that I love to be punched. My first reaction to any enjoyable new stimulus tends to be “ooh, I want to do this to somebody else.”

Which brings us to my problem. I talk a good talk. I wind on my black hand wraps nice and snug. But come show time, I can’t make myself put much force behind my fists. I pull my punches. I hit like a girl.

All dressed up and no one to punch. What is a girl to do?
They’re not such girly hands. I don’t wear pink nail polish or anything. That should be at least five not-hitting-like-a-girl points, right?

I don’t like this. Punching is amazing. The direct connection, the thud of fist on flesh and the reverberation that works its way all the way up my arm, all of it is just my kind of delicious. Yet still I hold back. Part of this is physical weakness. My workout routine consists of running and a few light sets on the bench press, nothing more. I know sustained heavy punching is beyond my abilities, while a series of sets of medium blows interspersed with lighter flurries is manageable.

But that’s not the main issue. The hard part is that hitting someone, really hitting hard with nothing but a few layers of fabric to absorb the blow, is terrifying for all the same reasons that it’s so tempting. A solid punch connects too well, is too personal and vicious. There’s something in the back of my head saying “Hands are not for hitting!” in my third-grade teacher’s voice. There’s a part of me that wants to be nice, even through the predatory urge to hit, and it unravels me. I don’t know yet how to ignore it, but I plan to learn.

On a related note, maybe it’s time to look into a boxing class.

Midas Touch

Midas’ Daughter Turned to Gold, from A Wonder Book for Boys and Girls by Nathaniel Hawthorne

He is on the floor, on my striped beach towel, bound with words because I don’t have the patience for rope. I walk around him, admiring, toying with the switch in my hand. He doesn’t try to look up, just follows my feet with his eyes. I’m wearing cork stilettos flecked with gold. They shine, bright gold in the harsh light around his face, quicksilver in the black light by his legs. He shifts when I move out of his line of sight, and I pause, waiting to see if I will have to remind him to be still. I’m nervous, uncertain. I’m aware of the others around us, though no one seems to be watching. Being aware of them annoys me, makes me feel that I’m putting on a show, that I’m not in control.

I keep walking, idly touching him with the end of the switch. I wish there were more light, or a bench to put him in easier reach. I prod at him, trying to see him tense, which touches make him nervous, which ones make him hopeful. I flick his left thigh and his whole body jumps. I smile and hit him again, holding the switch loosely, tapping a quick rhythm up and down his thigh. He starts to flinch and wriggle after a few minutes, so I put one foot on his calf, just enough pressure to remind him to keep his leg still. His whole body relaxes in an instant. I lean forward to strike with a bit more force, watch his skin turn slowly red. I crouch by his legs, put my hand on his thigh to feel the warmth of it.

“You’re very quiet,” I tell him. “May I try a bit harder?” I drag my fingernail across the redness on his skin, and he flinches.

“Yes, okay.”

I grip the switch tighter, still crouching. I’m too tall to use the switch standing while he’s on the ground. I bring it down on his right thigh, hard. His mouth is a hard line, closed and silent. Again, thwack, the line not quite parallel to the first. This irks me, so I make another mark crossing them both. He makes a strangled sound.

“Sorry?” I sit back on my heels. “Does this (thwack) hurt?”

“Yes.”

“More or less than this did?” I pinch the redness of his left leg, rougher than I mean to.

He makes a sound like a dog sneezing. “More.”

I “tsk” and immediately regret it (everyone sounds ridiculous making that noise). “Are you saying that this hurts more?” I hit him again, a few inches below the marks I’ve already made “or are you asking for more?”

“Yes,” his tone is shy, a little too quiet under the club music.  I have a moment of delight, a moment of wanting him just for that shiver in his voice, but he clears his throat and it’s gone.

I stand and pace–crouching is just as uncomfortable as it looks, and moreso in heels–trying to decide how best to position myself. I walk in front of him, nudge his chin with the toe of my shoe to make him look up. “Full sentences, please. What are you asking for?”

He closes his eyes. For a moment I think this isn’t working, we’re going to have to stop now, but he opens them again, looks steadily at the floor, and says “Please, cane me harder, miss.”

“Good boy.” The phrase doesn’t seem to affect him, but I smile anyway, thinking of someone it would. I move to kneel between his feet and lay into him, keeping beat with the rest of the song, and the next one. “You’re very quiet,” I can’t decide whether to be impressed or annoyed: I know from experience that this switch stings like a wasp, and he has a few welts coming up purple on his calves and thighs.

“I was trying to please you.” He’s speaking quietly, so that I have to lean in and ask him to repeat himself. His leg, when I rest my hand on it, is hot to the touch.

“Did I say I liked to hit quiet boys?” He whimpers (adorable!) and I wait, count silently to three. “Did I?”

“No.”

The scene gets better after that, becomes a heady blur of images I can’t string together. I lean in asking questions, trying to keep him talking to hear his voice break. I’m scratching his shoulders, whispering in his ear, when he starts to beg, “please, miss, step on me.”

I hesitate. “We didn’t discuss that,” but I slide my foot onto his thigh, scrape the point of my heel over the red canvas of his skin.

He’s saying “please” over and over between mewling, ragged breaths. I don’t move at all, don’t say a word, and he’s pleading. I couldn’t move if I tried.

My mouth is dry. “Full sentences,” I mean to whisper but it comes out loud.

He gives me paragraphs. He begs, voice shaking, and I am transfixed by it, the desperation, the rambling nonsense, the sudden eloquence for which he is later embarrassed “Walk over me and turn me gold like Midas,” he says, amid groveling and moaning that he deserves to be impaled.

It’s the reference to Midas that convinces me. Half a dozen interpretations of that myth in this context swirl half-realized through my mind in an instant. I’m uncomfortably aware that several of them are not pleasant, but all of them are in some way aesthetic.

I stand carefully. I rest the point of my switch on the ground for balance, make sure to keep most of my weight on my toes, and walk, carefully, gingerly, up from his calves to the top of his thighs. Even moving slowly, this takes less than a minute. I’m out of breath as though it were an hour’s climb up a mountain. He starts to shake, and I step down. He’s sobbing. I gather him up in a spare towel, hushing and holding and stroking his hair. I’m unnerved, a little frightened: I had not meant to make him cry. When I ask if he’s okay he smiles, says “good,” and “thank you, miss,” and snuggles into my arms as though he doesn’t have a care in the world. Within minutes he’s joking and laughing with someone else in the room while he puts his clothes back on. I ask what he was thinking, when he mentioned Midas. He blushes, says that it didn’t mean anything at all, that he was only thinking of my gold shoes.

Human Punching Bag

His fist is part of the pain is part of my shoulder. It lands again and again, knuckles conspiring with scapula to gnash like teeth at the muscles between. He punches the same point over and over, until I lean forward too far, trying to get away, not wanting to get away; until he pulls me back with an arm across my chest, until I lean into his fist again. The air feels too hot around my mouth. I gasp, filling it with curses, inchoate sounds.

He leans in. Asks “okay?” almost too quietly to hear over the music, over the quiet space settling around my mind. Harder, I think. “Good,” I say. He sits back. His fist is part of the pain is part of my shoulder. I hear the beat of music, feel it in the impact followed half a beat later by a fugue of white pain like a tooth cracked in half, nerves exposed. I hear voices, calm, sitting at the same table in matching chairs, hear my own voice curse softly in order not to interrupt their conversation. I move into the half beat between impact and pain.

He moves. Shifts to pummel the left side. Back and forth. Six beats on the right. Four to the left. I slip between. The music isn’t a phenomenon of sound anymore. It becomes the beat, the pain, the image of shoulder blade slicing through a pulp of muscle. I twist, lean forward, wish I were sitting backwards in this chair so that its back could stop me pulling away. His arm across my chest again, coaxing me upright. “Okay?” “Good.” I’m amazed that I can speak, even a monosyllable. Sound and pain and light and pain are blending into one sense that I can only describe obliquely. The surface of the table, the bodies in the room swimming across my vision like the green and violet fringes of a migraine.

His focus moves to the right again. It’s surer on that side, steady and bright and explosive; the silent, impossibly hot flare of a spark in a jar of oxyacetylene. I push myself back, towards him, though for a moment there is no him, only moments of bright impact followed by a welling up of soreness. I focus on breathing. I choose random numbers and convert them to base six. List favorite words beginning with P. Anything to keep my mind clear above the pain. Then his arm moves around me again, and stays there, holding my torso rigid and upright as he punches hard, harder, and I am pulled into it wholly. I try to bite back an unmistakably sexual moan, but my mouth won’t close. I let my head fall back against him, eyes closed. “Okay?” he asks. “Fine.” I know it isn’t the same as good, am not sure how much more I can take.

The impact is lighter now, no less pain but the force of it no longer shakes me from wrist to hip. I think I’m approaching a limit, like I’m surfing a good wave but losing my balance. The point of my scapula burns. It will crack from stress and heat, spill marrow, burst shards through skin. The sounds coming from my mouth are cracked already. His fist moves, not far, from infraspinatous fascia to teres major. I lean back into it and for a moment the fist-is-pain-is-shoulder bites down hard enough that I forget to breathe, only for the length of a hiccup, only until the next blow forces air out and I remember to bring more in after it.

He pulls me back against him. I hear song instead of beat, see objects instead of images. I relax. Sit up straight, rotate my shoulder to feel the damage. He flexes his hand, offers water, talks in low tones.  I press the fingers of my left hand under my shoulder blade, twist my body to provide resistance. I hear a frown in his voice. “You okay?”

“Yeah. There’s a crunchy spot.”

“Like a knot?”

“Mhmm”

“Here?” Two knuckles, pressed against the knot.

“There.” He hits the spot, hard, precise, I don’t know how many times. When I rotate that shoulder again, it moves more smoothly.

A day later he sees a picture of the bruises, looking small and innocuous on top of muscles too sore to carry a purse without wincing. I get a message: “Note to self: SAP gloves and kicking next time…”

Sadistic Puppy

I’ve met a sadistic puppy dog. The boy is adorable, awkward, shy, goofy, and clearly newer to BDSM than he’d like to admit.

He’s just like this. Honestly. He’s practically begging to have his toy taken away.

Every one of those things makes me want him. And every one of them draws out my most predatory instincts. He’s a self-proclaimed dominant, and I just want to turn around and overpower him.

We met at the first board game night I went to here. My husband found him grating. I found him charming. At the Halloween party he was gracious, humorous, self-effacing. I remember thinking it was a shame he was a top, that I would love to just tear him apart and play with the pieces.  We chatted, flirted (read: threatened each other with violence while smiling oh-so-pleasantly), and I didn’t think another thing of it.

Then last weekend I went to a play party that was preceded by an auction. The auction didn’t much interest me–there were maybe two items that were vaguely tempting, but I was quickly outbid on both of them and not interested enough to keep after them.

The sadistic puppy won them both. I asked to see them after the auction: a pretty green flogger, and a vicious strip of thick studded leather. I had just enough tact not to smell them. I wondered what they would sound like, hitting flesh. I handed them back to him and said “very pretty.”

“Yeah, now I just need someone to test them out on.”

I almost laughed. I was dressed as domme-ly as can be, in leather pencil skirt, high boots, and a bun. I had just spent ten minutes whaling on a man’s shoulder with a leather strap. (He wanted to be sure I knew he was not a masochist, just trying to alleviate shoulder stiffness. Because obviously only a not-a-masochist asks a woman dressed as a dominatrix/librarian to beat the hell out of him in a dungeon.) Given that, and our previous flirtation, the sadopup had apparently decided that I wasn’t interested in being hurt. “I’m available.” I said.

His jaw nearly hit the floor.

I’m new to scene negotiation. First of all, I live in a world where “no,” “stop,” and “wait” mean “no,” “stop,” and “wait,” no exceptions, and in the relationships I’ve had before we just play and check in and pay attention. Certainly as a top I’m fond of saying “I want to X” and looking for a green light to do it. I don’t know how to negotiate as a bottom, because I want to hear what a top wants and say yea, nay, or yes with a caveat. In this case, that didn’t seem to require negotiating. He had several floggers and paddles he wanted to play with, and I didn’t feel the need for any more detail to say “cool, I’m down with it.” But that sounds very misleading, as though I’m claiming a sort of no-limits badassery that certainly isn’t true. At the same time, it seems unnecessary to mention that I can’t stand having my feet hit when my boots are staying on for the scene, or that I’m not into blood play, when it isn’t on the table. But hitting? I’ve reached the point of thinking “I can’t take much more of this,” of telling myself that after three more punches I’m going to have to say “wait, give me a minute to breathe” but so far, it hasn’t actually happened.

So I stripped down and stood holding a cross. We joked and talked while he swapped between toys. It was enjoyable. He was disappointed that I didn’t react much, and I had to tell him he just wasn’t hitting hard enough to get me there. This was true, but only half-true: even when he put more force into it, I got a bit gaspy but had no trouble at all keeping up conversation. The other half was that he’s such a puppy that playing felt like playing: silly and fun, but not intense or hot or needy.

Still, it was fun. The bruising was extensive, and I may do it again.

I just think that with this particular boy, I’d rather be hurting him.