Authors: Tamsen Parker
Tags: #Fiction, #Romance
For Cara, my fairy smut mother. Thanks for taking a chance on me.
’m sulking with
my head in Rey’s lap after a dinner of the finest sushi and sake San Diego has to offer.
“Why can’t you like women?”
“Same reason you can’t. I could give you a good hiding just the same.”
A split-second of indecision later, I roll my eyes, wrench my mouth sideways, and sigh. “Don’t bother.”
“But you’re so pretty when you pout, kitten.” Rey runs his hands through my hair, kneading talented fingers into my scalp.
“I know.” I shrug, purring under his attentions. “But what the hell good does that do me with you?”
“None. Absolutely none. But don’t you fear. I’ll find you what you crave yet, Scout’s honor.”
“Were you really a Boy Scout, Rey?” He’s not exactly outdoorsy, although very handy with knots.
He scoffs, as I expected. “Have you seen those uniforms? Even six-year-old me was screaming, ‘Oh,
I laugh, imagining raven-haired mini-Rey spouting obscenities as his long-suffering mother tried to make him into a joiner:
A neckerchief? What the fuck are you thinking?
Rey shakes his head. “But back to you. You’re not giving me much time.”
“It’s what I’ve got. I’m not thrilled about it either, but it’s now or not for two months. I don’t expect miracles. He doesn’t need to be perfect. Just…serviceable.”
It’s not like I’m looking for Prince Charming. I don’t have the time, never mind the inclination, to be searching for
. I just need Rey to find me someone who can dull the sharp edges, slake my thirst to be dominated. At least until the next time.
Rey’s handsome copper face settles into pensiveness. It’s when he looks like this I call him Professor Walter.
Oh, my beloved Reyes. You would’ve made a wonderful professor.
But what fun would that be? He’s far more suited to his current profession. And I suppose he is a professor of sorts—just not the kind who’ll ever get tenure anywhere except in the hearts and minds of his students. Or, as he’d say, clients.
He tries to keep it professional, but for Rey, everything is deeply personal. I’ve never known someone with such a strong calling. Helping people navigate the wide world of kink is his vocation, and his talent for absolute discretion means he’s sought after by some incredibly rich, powerful, private people who want to learn without having to venture into the community to do it. They pay handsomely for his specific services.
I met Rey my freshman year at Princeton, when he was the chipper RA welcoming me to my dorm. He’s been more or less mentor, more or less friend ever since. That was ten years ago, and I still remember every single word of our first encounter.
When he’d introduced himself, the too-firm grip of his hand had caught my attention in a way that made my lips part. I’d stuttered when I told him my name.
“I-India Burke. You can call me Indie. Everybody does.”
He’d raised a wicked eyebrow, smirked, and hadn’t let go of my hand. “That’s not a very good reason to be called something, now is it? Because you’ve always been?”
“I ’spose not,” I’d granted, flushing.
“That stops here, little one. So which is it—India or Indie?”
“India,” I’d said with certainty and a smile.
His confidence was infectious, and I’d melted at his response: “Well done, little one. Welcome to Princeton, India Burke. The world is now your oyster.”
There had been no surprise, only comfort, when he called me “little one”—a total lack of the embarrassment or intimidation I’d always felt around really good-looking men. That’s what he was: a man, not a boy. With the way he talked, the way he carried himself, I barely believed he was twenty-two and not thirty-two. He was so sure, so certain. I could feel the poise leaking into my hand from his. Yes, that was my introduction to my beloved Rey, who has made all the difference.
I don’t like to think about where I would’ve ended up without him. He showed me a world I might never had known existed and taught me how to move in it safely and with grace. He keeps me tethered to it with the thinnest of strings, letting me dip a toe in without drowning. I soothe myself by thinking I’ll never have to do without. His thighs are lean and muscular under my head as he continues to work his hands over my skull. I sigh with pleasure, about to fall asleep.
I wrinkle my nose and open my eyes. “You know I don’t like him. I can take a beating as well as anyone—”
“Better, for such a pretty little thing.”
I tip my chin in thanks before going on. “But he hit me in the face, and you know how I feel about that.”
“I do. I forgot—the fucker. I’m sorry. I won’t ask you about him again.”
“I forgive you. I know it’s hard to keep track. Sometimes I forget.” It’s quite the long and growing list.
“What about Ethan? You liked him, right?”
“I did, but he’s got a girl now and I don’t want to share.”
“I think Strider would like to see you again.”
“Find me someone who hasn’t named himself after a Lord of the Rings character and we’ll talk.”
Rey snickers. He knows I find it hard to take that guy seriously, which ruins the effect. He might as well have called himself Frodo.
“Too fussy. He spends too much time tying me up and not enough time getting me off.”
“You’re awfully demanding for a submissive, did you know that?” he teases, tugging on my hair.
“Only for you,” I promise, batting my eyelashes.
“I know. You’re a good little pet otherwise. I rarely hear complaints.”
I allow myself to preen under his praise. Damn straight he doesn’t hear many complaints. However picky I may be now, I never let my displeasure show when I’m with them. I took that backhand from Vasili like a champ. I only sniffed, letting a single tear roll theatrically down my cheek even as I inwardly seethed that I had to work on Monday and fuck if I was going to answer questions about a black eye.
I probably should’ve safed out after that, but I was deep in the scene and hadn’t wanted to stop. It had been far too long since my last play date, and I was desperate. Besides, the damage was already done. What would a safeword have accomplished except to interrupt the flow? If he’d done it again, I would’ve called it. Probably. Rey had chastised me afterward for letting it go and made me put it in all my contracts since.
“Let me make some calls, and I’ll get back to you. Do you care where?”
“Anywhere but here.” I close my eyes under his cossetting.
Rey stays as late as he can, catching the last shuttle back to San Francisco despite my invitation to stay the night. I don’t have a spare bedroom, but it’s not unusual for him to sleep in my bed. He’s even got drawers—plural—one in the closet and one in the bathroom.
“I’ve got an early meeting with a prospect, but I’ll call you as soon as I’ve got something.”
I wrap my arms tight around him one last time. “I need this.”
“I know, little one. I won’t let you down.” He presses a kiss to the top of my head and hugs me back.
I let him go reluctantly, but I’ll see him soon. Probably next week, to debrief about my weekend with DTBD—Dom to Be Determined. This has the same potential it always has: to be a fucking disastrous nightmare or ridiculously hot. It’s usually somewhere in the middle. Although with the state I’m in? It would have to be pretty bad for me to score it worse than tepid. The internal spring that coils tight when I’m stressed or uneasy is wound to the breaking point. I need some relief.
I wave my last goodbye as Rey turns the corner and go get ready for bed. I’ve got an early morning myself, so I only bother with the barest of bedtime routines before I slide between my cool sheets and fall into a restless sleep.
The next morning,
Adam kicks my ass.
I bitch as he urges me into another lunge. “Jesus, Adam, I haven’t even had my fucking coffee.”
“And now you’re not going to need it, are you, princess?”
I give him my best withering glare, the one that makes my assistant quake and my underlings scatter. Adam doesn’t blink.
“Come on, you cream puff. Let’s get on with it. I haven’t got all day,” he barks. Bark is accurate. I’m sure lots of girls would fawn over Adam—even in San Diego, he sticks out as a consummate beach body—but to me, he’s a friendly mutt. Maybe a golden retriever. Adorable, loyal, and nice to have around, but thoroughly unremarkable.
I roll my eyes and do his bidding for the next half hour before grabbing my bag to head to work. I’ve made it a habit not to shower at the gym. It might be more convenient, certainly less nasty than plopping myself onto a towel and driving in dripping with sweat, but my club doesn’t have private showers and I don’t feel like having people stare at me. Not that they would most of the time. I have a nice body, I work hard to keep it that way between my crazy work hours and piles of takeout, but it’s nothing extraordinary in this SoCal hell hole. But on occasion, I would get some strange and possibly horrified looks. Do I feel like telling Susie Treadmill that, yes, those are stripes from a cane across my ass? No, I don’t. So it’s a towel slung over my leather upholstery and a sticky drive to my office where my private bathroom is waiting for me.