“I haven’t seen you since your birthday, Christian. Your mother says you’ve been working hard, of course. She misses you.”
Elena called me, insisting I take her to dinner. She wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. Which is why we’re sharing a bottle of Pont Neuilly in a Michelin-starred restaurant.
Her comment makes me frown: my relationship with my mother is nothing to do with Elena. And I have no intention of discussing it with her. She needs to be reminded of the fucking boundaries.
“Why am I here, Elena?”
“Do I need a reason to catch up with an old friend?”
I sit calmly, watching her face. Of course there’s a reason: she just hasn’t decided to tell me what it is yet. Elena likes to play games. That hasn’t changed. She’ll tell me when she’s ready. How fucking tedious.
And it occurs to me that because she no longer has any control over my body, she tries to exercise control over my mind. Or over my emotions – what I have of them. She’s trying to antagonize me, make me react, show irritation – something, anything. She knows I don’t want to be here and she’s using that. She’s using me. Whatever: everyone wants something. Everyone has their price. It fucks with her mind that she can’t afford my price anymore – or ever again.
The thought makes me smile. Her eyes narrow as she watches my face, and I know I’ve scored a hit because she can’t reach me anymore. You could say I’m untouchable. How fucking ironic.
“There was a reason I wanted to talk to you, Christian.”
Yeah, surprise me.
I wait, one hand lying relaxed on my thigh, the other wrapped around the wine glass as I lift it to my lips.
“What are your thoughts on safe sex, Christian?”
I pause, then lower the glass to the table.
“Is that a fucking joke, Elena?”
She raises her eyebrows, smiling at my reaction.
Yeah, she’s good: she’s surprised me. I really fucking hate that.
“Not at all, Christian. In fact, it’s a subject with which all young people should be familiar, don’t you agree?”
I wait. I won’t give her the satisfaction of answering her inane rambling.
She leans forward, her eyes dissecting me.
“Are you protected, Christian?”
What the fuck? She really has gone too far.
Her smirk irritates the fuck out of me.
I decide I’ve had enough of her shit, and start to stand.
“Sit down!” she hisses.
She hasn’t used that tone with me since… since the last time I let her dominate me. For a second, my body starts to react to her, but no. Not now, not ever.
I drop my napkin onto the table.
“Christian, please! I’m… I really do need to talk to you.”
Her tone softens and she sees my hesitation, instantly zeroing in on it.
“It’s important: no more games.”
As if she could ever stop.
I sit down and stare at her, my temper only just under control.
“You’ve become quite a celebrity in Seattle,” she says, choosing her words carefully. “You’re of interest to the Press. Even that rag, the Seattle Nooz, is calling you ‘an enigma’ – which means you’re very fucking interesting, Christian. Which means, you don’t want your interesting lifestyle to be leaked. It would finish you. And as for your mother…”
A smile.An arch of her eyebrows. She’s hooked me. Now she’s going to reel me in. Is this about blackmail?
I badly want to hit something.
“Your point?” I spit out.
“That you need to practice safe sex, Christian. My little joke, don’t look so grumpy. You need insurance. And I don’t just mean from Christine. What’s to stop your little friend, Kirsten, spilling her guts if she decides she needs a bigger pay day?”
“We have a contract…” I begin.
“Please, Christian! Don’t be naïve,” she sneers at me. “Do you think for one second that will help you? Yes, you could sue her for breach, but your lifestyle would already be exposed. The damage already done.”
“I’m aware of that, Elena, but as you taught me, the agreement is based on trust. By now, Kirsten could have…”
“I’m not interested in your mousy little sub, Christian!” she hisses, her eyes blazing. “Get yourself some insurance. Get photographs. Film her. Something so candid, so… extreme… that she’d be ruined if she ever tried to expose you. I’m sure you can think of something… creative.”
The thought excites me, undoubtedly. I’ve never been into making my own porn films, but now Elena’s mentioned it, well, maybe. Like she said, for insurance. But I also know that there’s a clause in my agreement with Kirsten – no point calling it a contract – that explicitly states that digital or photographic recordings are prohibited without the agreement of both parties.
“I could ask her,” I murmur, although I can’t deny Elena’s words have affected me.
“Ask her? Are you really that stupid, Christian? Of course she’ll say no! And she’s free to leave and sell a story to any dirty little newspaper that will take it. Are you sure she hasn’t already taken photographs of you?”
“She wouldn’t. She…”
“I shouldn’t have to explain this to you. You’re far too trusting for your own good. I thought I’d knocked that nonsense out of you.”
“You’re trying my patience,” I say, my voice cold and controlled. My Dom voice.
Her eyes widen slightly and I see her rub her thighs together. I hold back a small smile. Then she leans back in her chair.
“You know, I’m quite surprised that you’ve just stayed with the one sub all this time… you really quite like the whole ‘monogamy’ idea, don’t you? It amazes me, Christian, for all your special interests, you’re really quite provincial.”
What the fuck?
“You have a duty to protect yourself,” she continues, her voice calmer now she’s made her point. “You need to protect your 2,000 employees. You need to protect your family. Priorities, Christian. Do it. Besides,” she says, slyly, “I know you’d enjoy some mementoes – for recreational use, perhaps.”
My traitorous cock twitches appreciatively at the thought. Elena knows my body and its reactions better than anyone.
She looks up as the waiter arrives with the entrées. She’s smiling.
It’s been one bastard of a week. I clocked over 90 hours between Sunday and Friday, and that doesn’t include work I took home. Irritatingly, Mom and Mia have invited themselves over on Friday evening. They were going to the ballet together, some new modern dance shit with music that sounds like cats fighting. I can’t stand that shit. But they want to visit before they head back to Bellevue, so I can’t even get some relief from Kirsten if they’re coming over – not till they’ve gone, that’s for fucking sure.
Apparently they wanted to see what I’ve ‘done’ with the apartment.
I’ve moved in: what else do they need to know?
I’ve been home less than five minutes before the intercom buzzes announcing their arrival. I haven’t even pulled off my tie yet. I hate people coming into my private space – even my family. I don’t encourage it.
The door is hardly open, before Mia throws herself at me, making me stagger backwards.
“Holy shit, Mia! Give a man a chance!”
“Language, Christian,” says Mom automatically, although I can see a smile trying to escape, too.
I kiss her on the cheek once Mia has released her stranglehold.
“Christian!” she whines, staring around the room. “This is like a monk’s cell! You have to do something. I’ll decorate it for you – I’m really good at that. Even Mom says so.”
“It’s been ‘decorated’,” I say, patiently. “I had someone do all that shit for me.”
Mom doesn’t even bother to correct me this time; she just sighs like she’s disappointed.
Yeah, got the memo, Mom.
Mia rolls her eyes. “Well, it doesn’t look like it! I mean just look at this room,” she says, waving her hands around to indicate the main living space. “I think Franz Kline would look really good against these white walls. Don’t worry, it’s all monochromatic. Bold black lines on white background, and big canvases.Or maybe Susan Rothenberg. And you need some Alessi flatware…”
“No, dear,” says Grace, interrupting the torrent that I’m doing my best to ignore. “Smooth flatware shows more scratches.”
“Mom!” shrieks Mia. “I’m helping! And if you want me to cook you dinner here, Christian,” she continues, ignoring my sotto voce comment I don’t, you’ll have to get some Le Creuset. Oh and KostaBoda or Orrefors have good crystal stuff although for wine you’d obviously go for Riedell hand blown glasses…”
My eyes are glazing over. “Mia…”
“And when you order your custom made suits – I hope you’re getting them from Savile Row – tell the tailor to leave the jacket pockets sewn up. They need to settle before you…”
“For fuck’s sake, Mia!”
Her mouth drops open and she looks wounded. I’ve never sworn at her before – not like I meant it.
Shit. I’ve really hurt her. I just couldn’t listen to her spouting all that shit anymore.
“Christian – apologize to your sister.”
Mom’s voice is furious.
“Look, I’m sorry, but…”
“No buts, Christian. Mia was only trying to help. There was absolutely no need for your unpleasant outburst. Come, Mia. We’re leaving.”
Mia is in tears, Mom is white with anger, and I don’t know how the fuck to fix this.
“Sorry,” I mutter, lamely. Mia gives a small wave as she leaves, trying to smile. If I had a heart it would fucking break.
Kirsten arrives at two in the morning. She looks tired. Too fucking bad for her because I’m wide awake.
“Sir, I know I’m not supposed to talk,” she drops her eyes as she sees my expression, “but I really must thank you for your gift. I’ve never had a new car before – and it’s just beautiful. I love it. You’re so generous! When it arrived, I thought for sure there must be a mistake. I mean, I could never have afforded… and then I looked at the paperwork and they said it was definitely for me. And then I saw your name… It’s really too much…”
I stop her. I can’t hear her ramble on about what a great guy I am. What a fucking joke.
“I’ll decide what’s ‘too much’, Kirsten.”
“Of course, sir. I apologize. Please punish me for talking out of turn.”
My fucking pleasure.
And it is. I don’t have it in me to hold back tonight. I use the cane, the thin one. Her beautiful skin colors up quickly, and soon she’s panting. I fuck her hard from behind, standing against the wall. And, for the first time with Kirsten, I claim her ass, too. It’s a nice ass: not spectacular, but round and tight. It feels good, although I know I should have worked up to it a little more. But it’s not like it’s something she hasn’t done. Whatever.
And when, at last, my head is a little clearer, I take the photographs that Elena suggested: my insurance.
Even though she’s blindfolded, Kirsten can hear the click of the camera. Her head turns towards the sound and her mouth moves, although no words come out. Not that I can make out anything through the gag she’s wearing.
Later, when I’ve released her, she asks me to rub in the fucking baby lotion. What am I, her fucking great aunt? I do it, reluctantly, even though it feels kind of nice. It’s too intimate, too personal, and she has to remember she’s just here to do a job. It’s just a job. I’m just a job.
She falls asleep while I’m showering. I hate the sensation that she’s asleep and closed off from me, while nothing will allow me to rest, either my mind or my body. I stand watching her for a moment. She looks younger when she’s asleep, innocent somehow. Although after the fucking I gave her, I know innocent is the last thing she is. As I turn to leave, I notice that her cheeks are wet. What? Has she been crying? Was I too rough? She didn’t give the safe sign. What the fuck?
I consider waking her up and demanding an explanation, but reconsider, remembering that I’m the only twisted fucker whose body won’t let him sleep. Other people, normal people – they sleep soundly, like children. Just not all children.
My piano is the last refuge: if that doesn’t soothe me, draw my consciousness towards sleep, nothing will. Nothing. I play Satie, Debussey, some Pachabel. It helps, a little. Even so, I see the pink tinged clouds that herald another morning in Seattle. Another morning. Another day. Unless you’re me, in which case it’s the same fucking day over and over, with nothing changing. Least of all me.
I hear Kirsten stirring. I’m surprised as it’s still early and usually she likes to sleep in. Then I hear the shower running and the thought of her flesh, marked by the cane, warm and slippery under my fingers makes me hard, but another thought intrudes. I remember the tears on her cheeks, and think better of it. What business has a sub got crying like that? Maybe she’s got a problem at work. I might be able to do something about that – although I know fuck all about social work. Still, live and learn, right?
I’m surprised when I see her walk into the main room fully dressed. That’s not what she’s supposed to do. But when I see a determined look on her face, I start to put two and two together.
“May I speak to you, Christian, and not as your sub?”
I’m surprised but wave her into a chair.
“Do you have a problem at work, Kirsten? Because I could look into it and…”
“You took photographs of me last night. Didn’t you.”
She doesn’t say it like a question.
I shift uneasily.
“Insurance. I need you to know the consequences should you ever discuss my lifestyle with anyone. Ever.”
She looks angry. I’ve never seen Kirsten angry. Her face creases curiously.
“Have I given you any reason to doubt my integrity, Christian? Any sign that I wouldn’t follow both the spirit and the rules of our contract?”
“No, but I have to be careful.”
“You chose this lifestyle, Christian; you chose me. Don’t you know that I’d never… I couldn’t… I wouldn’t…”
She becomes incoherent and I try to soothe her.
“It was just a business decision, Kirsten. Don’t…”
Her head snaps up and she glares at me, igniting my own ever-present anger.
“A business decision! Is that how you can justify violating my trust like that? Violating me?”
“That’s not it, for fuck’s sake!”
Damn it, why is she twisting everything I say?
“I wish to dissolve our business arrangement,” she spits out.
I can’t believe this. I’ve always treated her well. She’s had whatever she wanted. I bought her a fucking car for Christ’s sake!
“Are you seriously asking me why, Christian?” She stares at me. “You really have no clue, do you? I feel sorry for you. Fine: I’ll explain. I’m leaving you because you treat me like nothing; because you don’t care about me – I’m just a convenient fuck with no strings, no feelings attached. If that’s what you think a sub is, then you’re wrong. Very wrong. For God’s sake, Christian! Do you even see yourself? Sometimes I think you show some kindness, and then it vanishes behind the steel walls you put up. I can’t even touch you! You reject any attempt to show you tenderness. Do you think I haven’t noticed? I’m not stupid. You won’t let anyone touch you physically or emotionally. I don’t know why you bother having a sub, if you’re going to treat me like a sub-human.”
I can’t believe this self-serving garbage she’s throwing out at me.
“What are you talking about? I’ve done everything you asked me! I bought you a car! I even massaged in the fucking baby lotion when you wanted me to. What’s your problem?”
Her expression changes slowly, from fury, to one of sympathy. I don’t like either.
“It’s not your fault, Christian. I do see that, really. And you’re still very young. But I want more in my life than… just this. I never asked for you to give me a car, and really – you can have it back.”
“Take the fucking car,” I mutter, turning my back on her.
I wait for the door to shut behind her, but she doesn’t leave.
“My old Dom has been in touch,” she says softly. “At first I told him no, that I was happy with my new arrangement, with you. But I see now that I was wrong – about you. I don’t know if you’re capable of love, Christian.”
What? What the fuck is she talking about – love?
But she hasn’t finished yet.
“Sometimes I think you… well, it doesn’t matter. But he says he wants me to come to Florida and live with him. He misses me and he says he loves me. So I’m going. It’s a small town called Montverde, about an hour from the ocean. And I think we’ll be happy. I know you don’t understand that. And I’ve had my doubts for a while now, but last night, you made up my mind. It was wrong for you to take those photographs without my permission. I trusted you. You let me down.”
Finally, finally, she stops talking.
I stare at her, utterly bemused. I had no idea she was so… whatever.
Turning my back, my eyes take in the Seattle skyline. The pink has faded from the sky and all is gray. When Kirsten finally understands that I have nothing to say to her, she leaves. It’s several minutes before I realize she’s left the car keys.
What the fuck just happened? Yeah, okay, so I should have discussed the photo thing with Christine and got a revised contract, but I don’t get the whole thing about violating her. I mean, for fuck’s sake, I spent last night fucking every orifice in her body and what sets her shit alight is a fucking photograph? I don’t get it.
Whatever. She’s left. I knew she would. Everyone leaves sooner or later – it’s just a matter of time.
It’s a fucking myth that we’re born into the world with a family. Who still sells that sentimental shit these days other than Hallmark? We’re born alone, we live alone, and we die alone. Simple. What’s not to understand about that?
So why do I feel like shit?