EXCERPT #2 (repeated last line of previous excerpt)
Serviced with a whip? Whoever heard of such a thing?
Then something Adam had said struck her. “I thought everyone into BDSM was either a sadist or a masochist. That it was all about people who need to feel pain in order to get turned on sexually finding someone willing to dish out sadistic pain until they…responded.” Savi’s face grew hot. She’d almost said “come” in front of a man she barely knew.
Adam grinned. “Common misconception, but it’s not about that at all for the majority of us. It’s about control—the taking and giving of control. Damián’s not trying to turn Patti on—not sexually, at least. He’s trying to break through a mental block that, while it has served her for years as a coping mechanism, is only keeping her from connecting to her body, her partner, and those around her now. Damián’s goal is for her to return to being present in the moment.”
Patti’s responses to triggers sounded so much like Savi. The woman probably even shared some of Savi’s traumatic experiences. God, she didn’t wish that on anyone.
“Victor has called on Damián a number of times since he joined the club to provide Patti with a level of pain that he’s not comfortable delivering himself. She’s a masochist, but Victor’s not a sadist.”
“Why doesn’t she find a sadist to be with?”
Adam seemed pained as he looked up at Karla on the stage. “One thing we don’t have a lot of control over is who we fall in love with.”
Karla had told Savi a little bit about how hard it had been for her to convince the much older Adam she wasn’t a young girl, but a woman. Okay, so Victor and Patti couldn’t help that they’d fallen in love, either.
“Why are you telling me all this, but not letting me watch?”
He turned his gaze back to her. “I didn’t say I wouldn’t let you watch at some point. I just wanted to make sure you understood what was going on first. Patti has a dark past, not unlike your own.”
Savi wondered how much Damián had told Adam about her past, but didn’t really want to know.
“She was nearly beaten to death any number of times by her ex, who also got off on humiliating her publicly and privately, and in caging her for long periods of time, often when he wasn’t home, like some kind of animal.”
Dear Lord, the woman really had survived a living nightmare.
“Sometimes when the demons are unleashed like they were today, she goes to ground. There’s only one way she can reconnect to the moment and that’s with intense pain.”
“But it sounds like something she should be getting therapy for, not something to be beaten for.” Not unlike me.
“She’s gone as far as she wants to with therapy. It hasn’t helped her in this area. Sadomasochism, on the other hand, helps her stay on an even keel, functioning at her job and in her life.”
“Do you mind my asking what happened to her?”
“It’s never been a secret here. Victor’s a fireman. He rescued her in a fire at her apartment building. Found her locked inside a cage in a room filling with smoke.”
Her stomach knotted. “Oh, God. What a nightmare!”
Then she remembered how Damián had rescued her, although Savi’s circumstances had been a walk in the park compared to the mental torture Patti must have suffered in those moments she thought she might suffocate, if not burn alive.
“Victor kept in touch with her while she was hospitalized and in out-patient treatment afterward, while living in a battered women’s shelter. One thing led to another…” Adam paused a moment and Savi’s mind reeled to try and process this bombardment of information. “They started out in a D/s relationship—Dom/sub—but she feels safer being his service slave.”
Slave? “Wait. What did you say?”
“Consensual slavery, not what you see on crime shows on TV. Serving Victor’s needs helps her feel worthy of his love, even though she doesn’t have to do a damned thing. She earned it long ago, but she just feels she needs to serve him. That also gives her a sense of accomplishment, not unlike what Damián gets from doing a scene for her.”
Who knew there were varying degrees of slavery? Or that Patti could choose what kind of slave she wanted to be. “Why is it called slavery if it isn’t forced on her?”
“Forced slavery is illegal, for one thing.”
“But that hasn’t deterred some people.”
Adam scrutinized her a moment, until she squirmed in her seat. She remembered her own experience as a sexual slave for her father the year before she ran away. Lyle assured the men there were few limits. They abused her body in so many disgusting ways that Savi would never be able to experience intimacy with a man without fear and revulsion. Sometimes she woke up at night screaming in pain, and it sometimes took hours to realize the pain was only in her head now.
But she’d been Father’s personal sex slave for a decade before she’d been pimped out to his business clients. Bile rose in her throat. No. I don’t want to remember those years. She’d made her escape many years ago and hadn’t looked back.
“Let’s be clear, Savi.” Adam’s words brought her back to the present and she relaxed into the chair again. “I’m talking about consensual slavery. Before anyone goes into this kind of arrangement, there is a long discussion and negotiation phase.” A cloud of regret crossed his face and he looked up at Karla again. Did he regret that Karla wouldn’t be his slave? God, what did the man want? She was so devoted to him and clearly loved him.
He turned back to her, and tried to regain his place. “Service slaves have a need to please, to provide all levels of service to their Dom or Master from domestic chores to—”
“Can’t he just get a maid for that?”
Adam smiled. “It’s more involved than that. Patti needs direction and discipline to feel wanted and loved.”
“Discipline? Like a child?”
“Patti, like other service slaves, has a need to serve and obey. But not just any orders. She needs consistent, intelligent, unambiguous rules. She needs someone who understands her needs and can have the presence of mind to provide that kind of direction and discipline.”
“Angelina and Karla don’t fit that description.”
“Hell, no. I can only speak for Karla, but she doesn’t need to be a slave to find fulfillment. And the Master/slave relationship has always been deeper into the lifestyle than I’ve wanted to go, although my wife wanted that at one point in our marriage.”
Savi looked up at the young woman on the stage nearby, whose eyes were closed as she sang her heart out. Karla should be singing to an audience that was paying attention, not this club crowd.
Whoa. Wait a minute. “Karla wanted that, too?”
“God, no. Not Karla.” He chuckled, drawing Savi’s attention to him, then he grew serious. “I put an end to that kind of relationship with Karla within a couple of days. I’m referring to my first wife. She died of cancer in 2002.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.”
He nodded. “She was a fine woman and so fucking loyal and faithful to me, despite all my deployments. Maybe that’s what made serving me so important to her when I was home.” He shrugged. “I never completely understood how we got there, but for a period of time back in the Nineties, she was my service slave.”
The expression on his face told her it wasn’t something he’d enjoyed. Good thing, because the thought of Karla being that for him was ludicrous. The woman didn’t even know how to cook, from what Savi had observed this week. Both Adam and Karla had been thrilled to turn the kitchen over to Savi, which she’d enjoyed, too. She’d needed something to do to keep busy. Although Karla wasn’t bad at baking, and was very sweet to help Marisol make Damián’s birthday cake the other—
The crack of a whip popping in the air caused Savi to jump almost completely out of her seat and release a sharp hiss. She started to turn to see what was going on behind her, but Adam’s firm command stopped her.
“Eyes on me.” She complied, feeling deep down that he was safer to look at than whatever was going on behind her. “Relax. He’s just warming up. He hasn’t even struck her with the bullwhip yet.”
Bullwhip? Shouldn’t he use that on a bull?
“Till now, he and Victor have been mostly touching her, talking to her, slowly transferring power from Victor to Damián for the scene.”
“He’s going to use a whip on her? That’s barbaric!”
Adam sighed. “I can see how you might think that, but it’s what she needs. She’s consented to being whipped, has even begged for it many times.”
“That’s not healthy.”
“To get the endorphins going, to help her come to grips with whatever has a stranglehold on her now, I’m afraid it’s very healthy. Damián’s goal tonight will be to get her to scream—maybe even cry, if he’s successful. He wants to get her to process whatever happened earlier today that shut her down.”
Savi fought hard every day to achieve that—and she was able to cope without having the daylights beaten out of her. Well, she coped most days. Lately? Not so much.
“Why is it so important that she find release this way and not some way less…painful?”
“Patti keeps her emotions bottled up until she’s numb.”
Numb. Like Savi.
Adam continued. “Right now, she can’t feel, can’t respond to any physical or emotional stimuli. If she doesn’t come back into the moment, she’ll be unable to function. If she went to a shrink—sorry, a mental healthcare facility—more than likely, they’d just medicate the problem away first and talk later.”
Being a therapist, not to mention a patient herself, Savi knew that was a real possibility. When she’d had a particularly bad episode after Mari had turned three—the last time she’d cut herself—she’d been hospitalized for a week until the doctor determined it wasn’t a suicide attempt. She just hadn’t realized how deeply she’d cut her arm. The pain of the razor blade hadn’t registered at all. She’d only been seeking that endorphin rush that was getting harder and harder to find.
She shuddered. She’d never wanted to have that happen again—and it hadn’t. So far. But she’d come closer than ever last week in Damián’s bathroom.
“Usually, Victor can provide disciplinary maintenance to keep her from going this deep, and he’s learned some techniques from Damián that are palatable to him—like administering pain through pressure points, flogging, and some mindfucks—”
Adam grinned. “Mindfucks. Messing with the sub’s mind. Making her think something much worse is going on that what’s actually happening. Can be very intense for a sub—and a helluva lot of fun for a Dom.”
Savi had no doubt this man enjoyed them immensely. Was Damián into those kind of mind—games, too?
“Anyway, Victor uses those kinds of play activities to help Patti stay in the moment without going beyond his own hard limits.”
“Doms and Masters have limits, too?”
Adam laughed. “Hell, yeah. Lots of limits. A sub can take us to the brink of our hard limits, and even beyond them.” He looked up at Karla again. “We also have to be vigilant during a scene and know when our sub has reached her limits, or if she hasn’t used her safeword when she probably should have.”
He seemed riveted to the stage and Savi’s gaze followed. Karla was singing a softer tune Savi didn’t recognize. When the singer looked down at Adam, she winked, and seemed to be serenading him alone. The love in her eyes for her man—her Dom—was evident and the same was clear on Adam’s face. Savi had to look away. The intensity of their exchange made her feel uncomfortable, as if intruding on an intimate moment.
Adam cleared his throat. “Anyway, sometimes the Dom recognizes that he’s gone too far, even before his sub realizes it.” He lifted the plastic bottle to his lips and took a long swig. “A Dom or Master’s primary objective has to be to make sure his sub’s needs are met, and to protect her from harm, including self-inflicted harm.”
Savi shivered. Damián had protected her like that so many times, most recently when he’d found her in the bathroom. Her hand touched the place on her arms where the old scars would forever bear witness to the times she hadn’t been able to take care of herself in a safe way. She forced herself to reach out and pick up her glass.
The whip slashed something soft and Savi jumped, sloshing soda onto her shirt. This time, she was certain the painful implement had made contact with Patti’s skin and she pictured blood running down the woman’s back. The sound and image made Savi feel sick to her stomach.
“Take a sip.” Adam guided the glass up to her lips. “It sounds worse than it feels for her at this point. I doubt she feels anything yet. He’ll start out slowly. Maybe you should watch from the beginning, because I have a feeling the images you’re conjuring up are much worse than what’s going on behind you. Are you up to watching?”
Was she ready? How did someone prepare to watch a woman being slashed to a bloody pulp with a freaking bullwhip? With a shaky hand, she took the glass from him and drained it. Maybe she gave up on alcohol too soon tonight.
“I think I’m ready.”
“You’ll have to do better than that.”
Savi drew a deep breath. The whip slashed again and she jumped, but not as high as the last time. She nodded. “I’m ready.”
Adam took her chin and forced her to look him in the eyes. “If you scream or disturb their scene in any way, I’ll boot your ass out of here ASAP.” She needed to see what Damián had become. She needed to understand this side of him. She had no intention of leaving, willingly or by force.
Movement behind him caused her to look up as Karla approached the table. So engrossed in what was unfolding behind her, she hadn’t even heard her stop singing.
“Are you sure this is a good idea, Master Adam?”
Hearing Karla call him Master caught Savi off guard. Outside the club, she just called him Adam.
He looked up at her, but didn’t smile like he usually did when he looked at her. “That’s for Savi to answer, Kitten. Personally, I think she needs to see this scene,” he focused on Savi again, “or I wouldn’t have let you stay in here.”
Was Adam like the uber Dom here, making sure the needs of all the little subs were met? Savi shivered. She was just a guest. She’d just been curious about this part of Damián’s life, but had no idea what she’d agreed to when she signed that contract.
Should she play it safe—or stay?
(end of Chapter 10)