- Beta: Alice's White Rabbit

- Facebook name and/or Twitter handle: Jess Molly Brown, jmollyfanfic

- Pen name: jmolly

- Title: Subspace

- Summary: When Lady Isabella booked a training session with a new couple, she never expected to find her next submissive.

- Pairing: Bella and Edward

- Rating: M

- Word Count: 8112

- DISCLAIMER: Twilight and its inclusive material is copyright to Stephenie Meyer. Original creation, including but not limited to plot and characters, is copyright to the author. No copyright infringement is intended.

(*)

Subspace

Lady Isabella stepped silently down the carpeted stairs backing her home dungeon and stopped to spy, her ear inclined toward the wall. It was prudent to get the lay of the land before attempting to set a scene with a new submissive, especially if he brought a partner with him. Partners always claimed they wanted to please, but usually, they couldn't comprehend their partner's craving for surrender, particularly if pain was—

"Please, Jess. Please. You promised."

Isabella's lips turned down. Already, the couple was revealing a lack of compatibility, which almost invariably produced tragic consequences. A close-minded, repulsed partner could easily scar her man with her disapproval during the session, or else they'd argue before the scene could unfold and break up. Lady Isabella pitied subs. Very few people understood them.

"I'm sorry, Eddie; I can't go through with it."

"Why not?"

"I thought I could do it, but I can't. You're going to get naked in front of another woman."

A body is just a body. Isabella probably wouldn't even get wet.

"She'll only be teaching us, Jess. It's not like we'll be having sex with her or anything."

"I've done my best to humor you, okay? But look at this place."

"It's like something out of a magazine. Stainless steel, satin sheets, black leather …"

"Are you kidding me? That wall has stuff hanging on it that I don't even recognize. And look at that contraption. This place is a horror show. And you want me to do stuff to you that's scary."

"When I brought this up, you said you'd be honest if it didn't turn you on," he said gently.

"I lied."

"Okay. Okay … What if I keep my jeans on? What if she just demonstrates some of the gear so we can try it on our own? I bet Lady Isabella has a lot of interesting toys."

"I don't want to. I don't like this place. I want to leave."

"Jess, I need this."

"Why, Edward? Why would you possibly want somebody to hurt you?"

"We've been over this. I just want to be tied up and—"

"Beaten and fucked with a rubber cock."

"Jess."

"Why am I not enough for you? Why do you want this?"

"I've told you, the prostate's—"

"It's not normal, Edward."

"Actually, it—"

"Look. I'm uncomfortable, and if you loved me, you'd respect that."

"I do respect that. I'm so grateful you agreed to come here with me." There was a pause. He was probably caressing or kissing her. "It wasn't easy sharing my desires with you, but we need to be honest about what we want in the bedroom."

"This is not a bedroom."

"There's a bed right there!"

"I'm done."

"No. Please."

"I'm going to the car. You have five minutes to decide whether you want me, and a normal life, or if you're going to wade into this depraved … lifestyle."

"Please, honey, don't go. Just give this a try. This weekend was supposed to be all about exploring our boundaries. Trying new things."

"I like the old things. I like normal sex."

"But it doesn't hurt to try something new. It keeps the relationship fresh."

"If you love someone, vanilla lovemaking isn't boring. I don't see anything indicative of love in this porn palace."

"I just want to act out a fantasy with you. What's so bad about that?"

"And then you'll want it again. You'll get an appetite for this filth." Seconds ticked by without a response from him.

"I already have an appetite for it. This is who I am, Jess."

"This is not who I am, Eddie. I'm sorry."

"Jess …"

"Goodbye."

A few seconds later, Isabella heard the outside door slam. A cold draft traveled past her ankles, informing her that the woman had indeed departed in the winter chill.

"Fuck!" the man gasped. Isabella crept down the remaining stairs and rapped gently on the privacy door. It was merely a courtesy. She let herself in. It was her dungeon after all.

The man, Eddie, was clutching his auburn hair and pacing. When she opened the door, he dropped his hands and spun to face her. His jaw fell slack. "Bella?" Isabella felt the blood drain from her face. All of it pooled somewhere in her feminine parts.

Eddie shrugged theatrically and slapped his hands down on his thighs. "Oh, well doesn't this just cap off a beautiful day. My high school crush is my new Dominatrix. Holy shit." She remembered him clearly as a hopeful she'd dismissed although she didn't think he'd ever actually asked her out. He was no longer a shy, gangly boy with glasses. He was all man, in tight black jeans and a plain black tee that clung to him in all the right places, with a force of personality nobody could overlook.

"We grew up thousands of miles from here," she said. "There are a lot of Masens in the lake district. What are the chances?"

He gazed around the apartment with a heartbroken look. "I … Sorry, this didn't work out. I'm just gonna go."

Isabella stepped into his path and wrapped her arms around him. "I heard what she said. I'm so sorry she doesn't understand."

After a moment, he shuddered and took a deep breath. "It took me a long time to work up the guts to come here."

"It was very brave."

"Yeah?"

"Absolutely. You made yourself vulnerable to your partner. It's a shame she didn't appreciate it."

He stepped back. "It's not her fault I'm …" He shook his head. "Nobody gets it. This is the third time that sharing what I want has destroyed a relationship I'd thought was going to be serious." Isabella let her palm slide down his arm into his hand before he could retreat.

"She's not right for you."

"I know. But the few girls who've offered to do this for me have all been …"

"What?"

"I dunno. Rough. Lewd."

"You want a nice girl."

"A nice girl who'll tie me up and spank me? I'm not sure they exist. Jess is right. There's something wrong with me."

"Do you want to harm anyone?"

He glanced at Isabella, his cheeks flushing pink. "No."

"Do you want to be harmed?"

"I don't know. I don't think so."

"Then there's nothing wrong with you. Come and sit with me." Holding his hand, she led him across the recreation room to the black leather couch. It didn't escape her notice that he kept his head down. She sat. After a moment's hesitation, he sank to the floor in front of her and rested his hands on his thighs, gaze down and ankles crossed. Isabella's lips parted. His lashes looked impossibly long against his pale cheeks. Violet smudges of grief marred his handsome eyes. Everything about him drew her in, and that was dangerous.

Isabella wanted to drink in the sight of him forever, waiting to serve her with the stillness of an experienced sub. But she couldn't take advantage. She patted the couch.

"Up here."

Edward was so apprehensive he practically crawled onto the couch. He left a gap between them and sat with his shoulders hunched, fists on his pressed-together knees, and gaze averted.

"Talk to me."

"I'm not sure I can."

"I provide sex therapy, Edward. There's nothing you can say that I haven't either heard or seen before. You're safe with me." She lifted his fist, slipped her thumb inside, and began to massage his hand. Eventually, he allowed it to rest, boneless, in her grip. "You know, plenty of nice people are sexually adventurous." She moved his open hand onto her lap and gestured for him to surrender his other fist. Soon, as she massaged it, his muscles began to unclench.

"I thought it was finally over," he said heavily. Isabella nodded and continued to work on his hands.

"It is."

He exhaled sharply, still not looking at her.

"When was the first time you suspected you were a submissive?"

He gnawed at his lip. "At my twenty-first birthday party. We were all pretty drunk, and one of my buddies decided to spank me. He put me over his knee and pulled down my jeans enough to give me a couple whacks. And then friends passed me around, tipping me onto their laps. Some of the women gave my butt a squeeze, and some of them caressed it and kissed it; we were all laughing. Everybody spanked me and razzed me, and the attention felt so good I was laughing and crying and reeling inside."

"That sounds amazing. Did you come?"

"Yeah."

"Did they know?"

"Yeah. I was … pretty loud." He shifted slightly so that their shoulders touched. "Things got awkward after that."

"I'm sorry. They didn't make light of it?"

"They did, but later, I jokingly asked a couple of the girls if they'd care to spank me again, and both of them started to avoid me."

"Has anyone spanked you since?"

"No. No one," he said darkly.

She clenched her jaw so it wouldn't drop open. "You're what now, thirty-one?"

"Thirty-two." His cheeks flushed magnificently.

"And nobody's been willing to dominate you in all that time?"

"I convinced one of my girlfriends to spank me a couple times, but she wouldn't do it hard enough. And then …" His fingers began to curl again. "I asked her to wear a strap-on. She blew a gasket. Accused me of being gay and called me all sorts of names. We had a big fight, then she left."

Isabella stroked his fingers. "A lot of straight men like ass play. Those girls just were naïve. I wish I'd been at that party, Edward. I'd have loved the opportunity to spank you and play with your ass. If you'd approached me afterward, I probably would have spent years indulging you."

"You would?"

"Absolutely. Would you be interested in showing me the flush on your freshly-spanked backside?"

He lurched onto his knees and hid his head in her lap. "Please." His fingers clutched and released an inch away from her hips. "Please."

"First, we need to set some ground rules."

Edward rocked back on his heels, eyes shining. "Yes, Mistress."'

"Eyes down."

"Sorry."

"I prefer Milady."

"Yes, Milady."

"Let's get this straight. I am not your Domme."

His eyes met hers, so acutely stabbed with suffering that she had the urge to collar him on the spot.

"Yet," she amended.

He nodded fiercely. "Yes, Milady."

"Tell me your deepest, darkest secret."

He licked his lip and bit it, his eyes dark and glazed. He looked terrified. Isabella snapped her fingers. "Eyes up." When he met her gaze, she saw him tremble. "Edward, is there anything to be scared of?"

His focus turned inward. He was obviously very torn.

"How long did you date these women before asking?"

"About three months for each of the first two. Almost five months with Jess." So he hadn't put them off by revealing his desires prematurely.

"Did you love them?"

"I thought I was falling in love with them, but it never got far enough with any of them to say so."

"Were you holding back because of your desires?"

"Yes."

"I'm proud of you."

"Huh?" His forehead creased up. "Why?"

"You have integrity. Do you know how many clients I've had who were so afraid to share their cravings that they waited to do it until after they got married? And then had to endure acrimonious divorces? I even know a couple subs who lost access to their children." She didn't share that one of those subs had killed himself.

His gaze fell. "I was afraid of that. I thought it better to take the risk up front than pull the rug out from under someone later. I mean, coming clean has never gone well for me. Plus, it's really hard … to settle long term for vanilla."

"Look at me, and tell me your ultimate fantasy. Now. With confidence."

He held her gaze but his eyes were still tight at the corners. "I saw a porno once."

"Uh huh?"

He licked his lip and gazed at her more boldly. "I want … to be tied up and caned so hard it leaves welts then fucked thoroughly until I scream myself out."

She reached out and stroked his head. The auburn curls shone in the light from the window. "Now, was that so hard?"

"No, Milady." She could see his trust blossoming. It was a beautiful thing.

"We'll start with something less extreme. Caning is not for novices."

"Okay." Something akin to worship lit his features. She had to nip his infatuation in the bud.

"There will be no intercourse, Edward. I don't sleep with subs, and I'm not going to be your rebound."

He blushed fiercely. "Bella, of course not."

She frowned. "When we're in this dungeon you will address me as Lady Isabella or Milady. And you will not look me in the eye unless I order you to."

"Sorry. Milady."

"See it doesn't happen again. I expect better from you."

"It was an accident. I promise never to take you for granted. You're the only person who's ever ..."

"We'll see."

Edward winced. His respect for her seemed genuine. He definitely had potential. She wanted to see him in a collar. Nothing clichéd like a leather dog collar. Something beautiful and enduring. A platinum wristlet, perhaps.

Such impulsive thoughts were foreign to Isabella. She had to slow down. If she claimed him carelessly then decided it wasn't working, he could be broken. Yes, he was eminently breakable. Their relationship, should she become his Domme, had to be one of trust. She would be professional, train him, and set him free from his inhibitions. And then someday, she would let him go, knowing she had been the most important woman in his life. But if she were very, very fortunate …

Isabella told herself to snap out of her daydream. There was no commitment between them. She might never see him again after the next hour. But she wanted to. "So, instead of a lesson, will you accept my invitation to spend an hour doing a simple scene with me?"

"Is it wrong for me to want to say yes?"

Isabella shook her head slightly. "Why would it be wrong?"

"I just broke up with Jess."

"Are you unhappy about that? Do you regret it?"

He pressed his lips together. "I'm not heartbroken. We were together a long time but she said some hurtful things. I don't feel the kind of upset that I probably should."

"Do you think you'll reconcile?"

A grimace flitted across his face. "I don't see that happening."

"She might change her mind."

"No. Even if she does …"

"She was disrespectful."

"Yeah."

"So, you want to see where this goes?"

He shifted on his knees and peeked at her. "What are your thoughts, Milady?"

"I'll play with you for an hour. After that, we'll decide on the next step."

"Okay. Thank you, Milady."

"We'll begin very simply. Red, stop; yellow, proceed with caution; green, go. If you say red, the scene ends."

"Okay."

"If you tell me no, I will not stop."

"I won't be telling you to stop."

"Edward, you must be honest. If there's anything you find unpleasant, you have to tell me. If you don't promise to stop me when you get overwhelmed, I won't touch you at all."

"Okay."

"How do you feel about Shibari?"

He nodded energetically. "I'd like to try it."

"Would you prefer me to dress up in a costume?"

"No. I mean, if you're comfortable, just stay in the jeans."

"Okay. You can wear whatever you want. Go and freshen up."

Edward looked at the main door then groaned. "My bag is still in Jess's car. I don't have anything with me."

"Then I guess you'll be spending most of the weekend naked." He looked stunned. Isabella almost laughed. She waved at him dismissively. "I'm kidding. Go and freshen up while I set up the scene. There are new toothbrushes and razors in the drawer. Take off everything but the jeans, including jewelry. When you return, you had better be on your knees."

"Yes, Milady." He scrambled to his feet. "Thank you."

Isabella listened to the water patter to the floor of the shower as she prepared her equipment and props and considered how she was going to proceed with her alluring former acquaintance. He had paid to stay in the dungeon for the entire weekend but only for one hour of training. The plan had been for him and his girlfriend to play by themselves after the session. Now, everything was different. If Isabella were to decide to train him, the only thing with which he'd be paying was his obedience. Everything was riding on their first encounter.

The bathroom door clicked open, releasing lusciously scented steam. Edward had chosen her favorite shampoo and body wash, a mix of dark musk and leather. Isabella turned and sat down upon a sturdy wooden chair, fidgeting briefly against the hard surface. "Come to me."

He crawled to her on all fours, his damp hair going every which way, and assumed the customary kneeling pose.

"Are you excited, Edward?"

"Yes, Milady."

"I'm not going to spank you yet."

"All right."

"Does that disappoint you?"

"I can be patient for you, Milady."

She stood, circled around him, and flicked his abs lightly with a tasseled riding crop. "Stand up." As soon as he did, she began to run her hand over him as though inspecting a potential stud animal. She caressed his shoulders, his back, his chest, but avoided touching any places where he really wanted it. There was something strange about his nipple. She rubbed it curiously.

"You have a nipple piercing. Any others?"

"One in my tongue."

"Is it still in?"

"No, I took it out."

"You like going down on your girlfriends, Edward?"

"Yeah."

"Good." Every few seconds, she touched him with the crop. His cock, fully outlined against black denim, flexed fitfully. The longer she teased, the more prominent the wet spot on his jeans became, but he remained docile.

"You're being so good, Edward. You behave like a trained submissive."

"Yes, Milady. I mean, no. Um, thank you?" He blinked. It was adorable.

"Thank you. I think I want a better look at you. Undo your jeans. Slowly. But don't take them down."

"May I touch myself?"

"No."

He grasped the closure of his jeans in both hands, popped the button and unzipped them tortuously slowly. Behind the vee of his fly, the thick base of his cock nestled below a patch of soft-looking, dark hair. He smelled amazing. Isabella couldn't wait to see the treasures he was hiding. Wetting her lips, she guided him to the bed and sat at the end.

"I want you to lie down across my thighs with your head on the mattress and your feet on the floor."

Edward's long fingers descended into the ice blue satin-covered pillow top. Gingerly, he maneuvered his body over Isabella and settled his lower abdomen on her thighs. His legs sloped toward the floor, but his knees couldn't touch from his elevated position. His weight felt good.

"Am I too heavy, Milady?"

"No, you're perfect." He sank down fully, and she smiled. His hands lay loose upon the sheets. But she didn't want him too relaxed.

Isabella ran her palms up and down the back of his thighs, toyed with the seams on his jeans, and gave his backside the occasional squeeze. To keep his attention, she used her nails on the backs of his legs and reached between them to tweak the hard flesh beneath his balls. Her fingers trailed a circuit down his legs and back. Each time she made contact with the underside of his scrotum, he flexed his hips and fisted the sheets.

"You are so hot," she told him.

"More. Please."

Consequently, she made him wait until she sensed his disappointment, then slipped her fingers beneath the waistband of his jeans and squeezed his glute. He tensed immediately. Testing him, she swept her hand between his legs and touched her finger to his anus. His hips jutted forward, and she felt the head of his cock bump against the outside of her thigh. Impulsively, she grasped the waistband of his jeans in both hands and tugged them down halfway to his knees. She petted and stroked his firm flesh, admiring the golden tone of his flawless skin. A hundred plans flooded her mind.

"Oh, Edward. You have a delectable backside. How could anyone turn down an invitation to touch it? Those girls were crazy to reject you."

"Thank you, Milady."

"The things I'm going to do to you …"

"Please."

She traced a small oval near the crease between his leg and bottom. "How do you feel about being marked?"

"That's what I want."

"I'd like to put a love bite right here so you remember me all next week. Would you like that, Edward?"

"Yes!"

"Mmm … I'm glad." She stroked his backside. "But we have some work to do first."

"Your wish is my command."

"I have many, many wishes at this moment. You make me hungry, Edward. I hope you have lots of energy for me because this is going to take a while."

"Yes, Milady."

"And since it's going to take a while, we're going to take advantage of my furniture. Get up and lose the jeans."

He pushed himself up and stepped on his pant leg with the opposite foot. His heavy cock almost smacked her in the face. She raised a brow. "Impressive."

Edward flushed pink. "Do I … please you?"

Isabella stood and took his face in her hands. "Look at me." He peeked at her, and she wet her lip. "One part of me really hopes you always remain as humble and sweet as you are now. The other part wants you to know how gorgeous you are and wants you to be confident in your own skin." She tipped her head up to give him a peck on the forehead, but somehow, he met her mouth with his. Panic flared, but then warm palms embraced her cheeks.

"Bella …" He brushed noses with her and kissed the corners of her mouth, then cradled the back of her head so he could deepen the kiss. Isabella was drowning, melting into him, drifting into a place that existed outside time. She threaded her fingers into his hair and pulled him closer, flushing with heat when his erection pressed against her abdomen. A soft sound escaped her throat, and he trailed kisses to her ear, his hands coasting down her back.

"I want you," he said.

Isabella took a step back and angled her face away so he couldn't see her expression of horror. Edward tried to recapture her mouth. "Bella?"

"Edward," she said shakily, her fingers drifting to her swollen lips. "I … I shouldn't have done that."

Edward grasped her arms and stared her in the eye. "I want you."

"Sweet man," she implored, "I—we can't. You just broke up with your girlfriend. It's natural that you should find me attractive. I'm in a position of authority, and I'm offering you guidance and physical—"

He let his hands fall. "You're not attracted to me."

Isabella shook her head ruefully. "Quite the opposite. You are … damn near irresistible."

"Then why resist?"

"You're too vulnerable just now. Besides, we don't know each other well enough. At all, really."

"Then we get to know each other. Outside this … environment."

Isabella looked at him warily. "Are you suggesting we date?"

"Dinner tonight."

She shook her head. "It's too soon. You're blurring the lines. You don't understand what a risk you're taking. People have—"

"Okay, when? Next week? I can drive up Friday afternoon and spend the weekend again if that suits you."

Isabella licked her lip. It tasted of him. She wanted more. What was she doing? She glanced away and back. "I'll tell you what. We'll spend this weekend in the dungeon. We'll compare our hard and soft limits, then discuss the options. If it sounds like we might be compatible, I'll offer you the opportunity to be my sub. Eventually, if it goes well, I might offer you a collar."

"What about dating?"

"Edward …"

"Dominants often have romantic relationships with their subs. Some even get married. Give me a chance. Please, Milady?"

"I'm not willing to make any promises right now. I know what's best for you. Don't get uppity." She crossed her arms and glared at him.

He ducked his head. "I'm sorry. You make me feel things."

Isabella pressed her lips together and sighed. "I take back my compliment. You're not accustomed to submitting. Behave yourself, trouble."

"I'm sorry, Milady." His obvious distress made her question whether she'd already damaged him. The man was rightfully terrified of rejection.

"That's better. Crawl."

"Yes, Ma'am."

Isabella reached for the small bottle of warming oil she'd left on the end table and preceded Edward into the playroom. She considered the bondage table and the spanking bench, but decided she wanted a panoramic view of his body. Reaching up, she pulled down a set of padded stocks suspended by a metal arm from the ceiling and lifted the top plank. "Face the mirrors, neck here, wrists here and here."

He didn't budge. "Am I being punished, Milady?"

"I'm hardly going to punish you during your first scene, Edward. I'm pretty sure you'll enjoy this."

He bowed over the bottom plank, and she lowered the upper plank and secured it, then eased the arm higher so Edward wouldn't have to stoop. He appeared startled when he looked in the mirror. Isabella ran her hand down his spine.

"I like what I see. Keep your back straight. Rest your weight on the stocks. Spread your legs but don't lock your knees." Edward did as instructed, watching in the mirror as she plucked things from the wall. She set a short pole bearing eyelet hooks between his feet, wrapped black Velcro cuffs around his ankles and secured him to the bar. She looked in the mirror and stroked her fingers around a thick leather paddle's rectangular perimeter, making sure Edward was watching her every move.

His semi-erect cock was appealingly puffy. Isabella took it in her hand and felt her body thrill. She squeezed it a couple of times, feeling it grow. Silently, Edward shifted on his feet, and she steadied his hips. She patted his backside with the paddle, then clapped it lightly against his skin. Each time he pushed back against her, she increased the pressure until she was striking him quite hard. In between smacks, she caressed the area she'd struck.

"How are you doing?"

"More. Please." His voice was gruff but not strained. Evidently, he had a high tolerance for pain.

A rosy pink bar began to appear across his backside. His eyes glazed over with lust, but he didn't make a sound. Not a moan, not a whimper, not so much as a grunt. Isabella was nowhere near liberating him from his head. She perused her wall, set the rectangular paddle down on the bench beneath, and chose a sturdier weapon. This paddle was made of hard plastic and had heart shapes cut out along its length. She held it up for his perusal.

"Hearts for my sweetheart."

His eyes squeezed shut momentarily. He stared at Isabella with his lips parted.

"Are you always this quiet? I want to hear you, Edward. I wonder what will make you moan." She regarded him thoughtfully, then set down the paddle, and peeled off her T-shirt. After a moment of consideration, she unhooked her lacy bra and let it fall. He moaned then all right.

"That's better. You've got a lot of pent-up tension, Sweetie. I want you to let it all out." When she stepped behind him, he transferred his attention from her chest to their mirrored reflections. Isabella drew back her arm and smacked him with the paddle. He grunted and gritted his teeth. The paddle left behind some amusing raised heart shapes on his flesh that would remind him of their session for days. She smiled at him in the mirror. "Yellow?"

"Green," he growled. She hit him with it again, and he tensed. He was still keeping it all in. All the years of deprivation and shame and isolation. She tossed away the paddle and gently scraped her nails from the back of his thighs all the way up to his tailbone. At last, he groaned long and loud.

"Very good, sweets." She checked his cock. It was drizzling. "Now, let's see …" She ticked off items on her fingers. "I have bound you. And spanked you. There seems to be one key component of your fantasy that I haven't fulfilled."

"Please!"

Isabella delivered a sharp tap to each of his butt cheeks, admiring the patterns on his skin. "Eddie, look up."

His gaze met hers in the mirror.

"I'm going to give you the ultimate orgasm. I wouldn't do it for just anybody, but I want to watch you surrender control. I desire you more than any other man I've ever met. Watch me take my pleasure in yours." As his startled eyes met her smiling ones, she darted down and pressed her face into the cleft between his buttocks.

"Oh, God," he said hollowly. Then he wailed it. And then, he let go a torrent of gibberish and filthy words while Isabella went to town. When she slipped a finger inside him and rubbed it over his prostate, he cried out. She brought him to shuddering anal orgasm three times while he shifted between his personal brand of hysterics, shouts, swearing, and tears, his face contorted in ecstasy. His reaction was primal. That he could produce such sounds amazed her and left her reeling. She loved the rawness in him. The second he seemed to be coming down, she fell to her knees in front of him and took him in her mouth. He climaxed almost immediately with a hoarse scream that went on and on. She stroked the back of his thighs, nuzzled her face into his groin, then released him and stood. His expression was euphoric, infusing her with triumphant joy and pride. He looked like an angel. He was glowing. As he fell back to earth, without warning, he sagged and regarded her in exhaustion. Without thinking, she pressed her lips to his.

"That was beautiful, my sweet."

Edward's eyes flooded with tears. His legs buckled, and he began to sob. What had she done? He'd hit subspace on his very first go, and she'd taken advantage. Isabella jumped to get him a chair. She yanked on the armature of the stocks, lowered him to sit, and released him from his bonds. He slumped forward, boneless, and fell into her arms.

They sat, limbs tangled, on the floor. As a professional, she knew he needed to get his repressed feelings out. It would engender tremendous healing. But personally, it was nearly intolerable to witness his breakdown. The intensity of her emotions frightened her.

Isabella liked her life. She was good at her job. She enjoyed helping people accept themselves. She hadn't had a romantic relationship since the Dom who'd trained her had cut their bond. She'd thought herself madly in love with James, but he'd been right, they hadn't been compatible. She would never have been happy if she'd remained his sub. Over the years, she'd become self-sufficient and content living alone. Suddenly, though, the prospect of having a life partner didn't seem quite so foreign.

The truth of the matter hit her hard. She wanted Edward. Not just for sex, not just as someone she'd collar. Her craving was stronger than that. And the man who'd captured her interest was in crisis. And she had provoked it.

"Edward, you need to rest. Get to bed." He lay down on the chilly floor and curled up on his side. "Edward, I need to take care of you. Take my hand."

He clasped it, and she helped him to his feet. They left the playroom, and she pulled down the satin sheets and helped him in, then rushed to the medical roleplay room and gathered a large metal bowl of hot water, a new sponge, and towel.

She washed his face, then bathed him thoroughly and patted him dry. Totally drained, he remained quietly on his side, only shifting to a new position when she told him to.

"I have arnica salve. Do you want it?"

"Whassat?"

"It will cut pain, pull any bruising to the surface, and help it fade faster."

"Nah, I wanna feel it."

"The sooner the bruises heal, the sooner I can spank you again. If you want that."

He didn't answer. He was asleep. Isabella retrieved her small tin of arnica gel and scooped a small amount onto her fingers, rubbed them warm, and stroked them lightly to the marks she'd dealt him. She covered him with the ice blue sheet, crossed to the chair in the recreation room that held an imitation fur blanket, spread it over him, and then turned out the lights. There was no point in cleaning if they were going to use the toys again. Retrieving her shirt and bra, she tiptoed to the door leading upstairs and hesitated.

He would be fine alone, she told herself. He was a sub, not her boyfriend.

Isabella went up, brushed her teeth, made herself a cup of tea, and took it into the den where she cuddled up in her favorite chair. She was wound up. All she could think about was Edward. She had no clue what to do about it. Punching a number on her cell, she crossed her fingers that her bestie would be home.

"Hello?"

"Hi, Alice. Are you busy?"

"Hey, Bella. What's up?"

Bella blew out her breath. "You won't believe this. The guy who booked training this weekend? I know him from high school."

"You're kidding. Was it awkward?"

"Surprisingly, no. But the girlfriend threw a fit and ditched him, and he ended up staying for a session instead of a lesson."

"More money for you."

"Um …"

"What?" She waited, but Bella didn't answer. "You're not charging him? Wait. Are you saying you're thinking about making him your sub?"

"Yeah."

"Seriously? You haven't had a sub in three years!"

Bella rolled her eyes. "The last two didn't work out so well."

"Third time's the charm, right?"

"I hope so. This one's different. Special."

"Wow. I'm so happy for you!"

When they were done talking and Bella's cup was empty, her thoughts once again turned to the man sleeping in her dungeon. It wouldn't hurt to check on him, right? It was her job to protect and care for him.

Although the night was young, he was thoroughly out. "Edward?"

"Hmm?"

"If you need anything, just call."

She went upstairs but couldn't settle, so she took her Kindle downstairs and curled up on one of the couches. When it appeared Edward wouldn't wake, she went up to bed. She couldn't fall asleep.

(*)

Something smelled delicious. Edward opened his eyes and stretched. Bella was in the kitchen, and bacon was frying in a pan. His stomach snarled. He sat up but quickly rolled off his backside. Was he allowed to use the washroom without asking? It couldn't wait. He hurried to relieve himself, washed up, and tried to get a look at his rear end in the mirror. He gaped at the revelation. His ass was covered in flesh-colored hearts outlined with pink and purple streaks. He laughed a bit, and his cock twitched.

A bit sheepishly, he went to greet Bella.

"Good morning, Sweetie." She set a triple stack of pancakes with fresh blueberries and maple syrup on the table before him. "Sit down and dig in."

"Thank you, Milady."

He pulled out the chair, sat, and leaped straight up again.

"There's a memory foam pillow on the rocking chair. Help yourself."

"Thank you." He retrieved it and gingerly lowered himself onto the chair.

"Better?"

"Yes." He cut into the pancakes and forked them into his mouth. Flavor exploded on his tongue. It was all he could do not to inhale the food on his plate.

Bella brought over a small dish of bacon and eggs and set it next to him, then sat down with her own plate of bacon, eggs, and a pancake. "How do you feel this morning?"

"Fantastic! Thank you for yesterday, Milady."

"I really like you."

"I like you, too." Especially since she made him breakfast after wearing him out. They ate without speaking for a time.

"I'm thinking about collaring you, Edward," Bella said as she set down her knife and fork.

Edward dropped his cutlery with a crash and forgot all about his stomach. He dropped onto all fours and embraced Bella around the ankles. She tensed, and he wondered if he'd overstepped.

"That's enough of that, Sweetie. Sit up and finish your breakfast. You're going to need the calories. If you want to be my sub, you'll have to pass a test."

He slunk back to the chair like a bad dog and dunked a bite of pancake in his egg, but he'd lost his appetite. "What kind of test?"

"It's pass-fail. Trust me, sweetheart. If you don't pass, I'll connect you with someone who'll take care of you."

Edward set down his cutlery and looked at his lovely breakfast in misery. Bella placed her hand over his.

"Hey, it's going to be okay. Trust me, all right?"

"Okay."

"A couple of my girlfriends will be coming over later."

"Oh?"

"If you pass inspection, you'll be mine."

"Oh." He began to smile again. "Okay."

"Think you can handle it?"

"Yes, Milady."

"Finish up your breakfast. When you're done, shower, then I'll give you a massage."

He picked up his utensils. "Shouldn't I be pampering you?"

"If you pass my test, I'll let you."

Smiling broadly, he wolfed down every last bite.

(*)

He drifted languidly in subspace. After banishing every knot in his body, Bella had explained Shibari, trussed him up like a roast of beef, and used pulleys to suspend him, face down, from the ceiling. He didn't know whether he'd been up there for minutes or hours, but he loved it. Vaguely, he registered a knock at the door and the bubble of feminine chatter.

"He's handsome as fuck," a woman said from beside him, but he really didn't care to open his eyes.

"Isn't he just, Ro?" another woman cooed.

"Love the hearts."

"It's my favorite paddle, and it suits him so well. He's a total sweetie." Bella sounded proud of him. His heart soared.

"Can I touch him, Lady Isabella?" the higher voice said.

"Go ahead, Alice."

Fingers danced up his legs. It was wrong. He didn't like it, but he was afraid to say so. What if he failed the test? His heart pounded in his ears.

"Can I touch his dick?"

Edward's eyes popped open. There was a small brunette with laughing eyes standing below him. He wanted to run from her, but he was trapped. He didn't hear Bella's answer, but the woman reached for him. Anxiety clawed at his throat.

"No!" he yelled. "Red!"

Bella's guests laughed, and he caught them exchanging high fives. Both women left the playroom as Bella lowered him to the gym mat on the floor and cut through the ropes with scissors. He couldn't breathe. Bella pulled him into her arms.

"You passed the test, baby."

"I wasn't sure if you wanted me to refuse or allow someone else to touch me. I was afraid to tell her to stop."

"But you did tell her. You have no idea how hard it was for me to play along, not knowing if you'd shut her down. And, Edward, from now on, nobody touches you there but me. You're mine."

(*)

The next several weeks were the happiest of Edward's life. Not only did he spend every weekend with Bella in the dungeon, but he took her to restaurants, visited her home, welcomed her clients, and squired her, Alice, and Ro to a dance club. Bella let him escort her to a movie, give her massages, and read books aloud to her. He bought her small gifts to show his appreciation. At his home, he secretly wore a black leather collar with studs and wondered if she'd give him something like that or something totally different. He couldn't wait to wear her collar! He pulled into her driveway just after lunch, feeling certain this was the day he'd earn it.

He marched around the back of the house, drinking in the fragrant spring air. Lady Isabella met him at the door.

"Happy birthday, Sweetie."

"Thank you, Milady!"

He trailed her to the couch and plopped down into his usual pose. His gaze followed her as she produced a large, navy blue velvet jewel box.

"I hesitated to give you this because it's not enough."

Edward glanced up at her, his cheeks warming with pleasure.

"Will you be mine in every way, Edward?"

"I will."

She reached for his hand and placed the box in it.

He opened it. Inside was a heavy, solid bracelet made of whitish metal.

"It's platinum," she said. He held his breath as she took it from him, placed it around his wrist, and hooked a small matching padlock into the fastener. She snapped it shut, then showed him a chain around her neck. On it was a small key.

"You're mine," she said. "I love you. So much."

"I love you, too!" Kneeling between her knees, he took her in his arms and kissed her soundly. She rose, the front of her body brushing his lips.

"Come upstairs."

(*)

He toed off his shoes, dropped his T-shirt halfway up the staircase, and reached for Isabella as she peeled off her bra. Her bottom bumped the step as he tugged at her hips, sucked her nipple into his mouth, and pressed his iron-hard cock against her. His jeans were rough. If he bruised her, she was going to take it out on his hide.

"There's a perfectly good bed upstairs," she said, grasping his middle to pull him up.

"Who wants a bed?" He worked his hands into her leggings and gently slipped them down, exposing her to his greedy gaze. Sliding down a few steps, he parted her legs, and she leaned back on her elbows. She watched him lick his lips as he unzipped his fly.

"May I serve you, Milady?"

"Bella."

He raised fogged eyes to question her.

"We're not in the dungeon anymore, Edward. Love me."

He studied her intently as he licked a long line from stern to stem, the silver ball in his mouth gliding over her swollen flesh. With nibbles and laps and darts and sucks, he ministered to her until she gave him her climax. He took her into his arms, ran up the stairs with her, and laid her down on the silver-gray carpet at the top. Ripping at his jeans, he freed himself while they kissed. His jeans hit the stairs with a plop. "Are you ready for me?"

Bella looped her hands behind his neck and licked her swollen lips. "I've been dying to know what you can do with that thick cock."

His expression was almost angry. "Good." He teased her with the plump head, then sank inside her all the way to the hilt. They both groaned. He bowed his head and feathered kisses onto her chest as she tossed back her head. They moved together, at first gently, then with increasing vigor.

"God, Edward!"

"Fuck!"

"Don't come," she panted as he sped up. "I want you to go get a double dong."

Disengaging, he bounded down four stairs at a time, bumping into the walls along the way. In no time at all, he was back, ripping a new toy from its packaging. He thrust a bottle of lube into her hand and fisted his cock.

"Where do you want me?"

Bella pointed at the upper landing. "Bottom at the top."

"Oh, you crack me up."

She lubricated the toy and slipped one end inside her. "I'm gonna crack something if you don't get that ass in the air." A long flail would do the trick.

"Promises, promises." Resting his body on the landing, he kneeled on the top step. Isabella stood on the next step down, swung one leg over his hip and dosed his back door liberally with gel. She circled the head of the dong over his sensitive skin, then slowly pushed in until they were flesh to flesh. He moaned and clutched at the carpet as she set the pace.

"Yeah, more," he said, sucking air through his teeth. "God, Bella."

"You love my cock, don't you?"

"Fuck, yeah." He pushed back against her as she undulated her hips.

Her pumping turned erratic as her climax neared. She gripped his hip to steady herself. "I'm coming!" She thrust into him once, twice, and was seized by trembling. She steadied herself with the bannister, suddenly nervous about falling.

Edward reached between them, grasped hold of the double dong, and hurled it down the stairs. Flipping onto his back, he seized her hips and pulled her down onto his shaft. "Together," he said.

She nodded eagerly. "Together."

They rocked in sync until he gasped and crested, eyes squeezed shut and jaw clenched. And when he gasped again and his jaw dropped, Bella bore down, nerves firing. He opened his eyes in time to see hers close. "Oh, Bella."

"Keep moving!"

He kneaded her hips and pumped into her until she wailed and poured herself out.

Edward flopped onto the floor, and Bella collapsed onto him. They panted together and lay there like a couple of limp ragdolls. Eventually, their breathing slowed.

"How do you feel about remote-controlled vibrating butt plugs?" she asked weakly.

"Titillated," he said.

(*)

"Wake up, sleepyhead."

Edward moaned, turned to face Bella, and pulled her in automatically for a kiss. Their heady scents commingled on her cotton sheets.

"Easy, champ. I don't think I can go another round."

Why had she woken him, then? Sighing, he tucked her under his chin and let himself drift. Bella flicked the ring in his nipple.

"Come on, now, you have to get up. People are starting to arrive."

Edward frowned. "People?"

"It is your birthday."

He blinked. He could hear Ro and Alice's cheerful voices in Bella's kitchen and the clattering of dishes. "Are we doing something tonight?"

Obviously. Bella smelled divine. Her hair was sleek and curled at the ends, and she was wearing makeup and a classic black, full-skirted dress that crisscrossed over her breasts like a toga. She motioned at the end of the bed where she'd laid out a set of his everyday clothes.

"Get dressed."

(*)

Edward emerged from Bella's bedroom wearing a black tee and a pair of black jeans, feeling a bit shy.

"Hi, Edward," Alice called with a friendly wave.

"Hi, Alice. Hi, Ro."

"Hey, Eddie. How's it hangin'?"

"I think it's dead." He scanned the incredible trays of hors d'oeuvres and helped himself to a bite-sized bacon melt.

"Hah! Bella's not doing her job right."

Bella crunched down on a nacho. "Get stuffed, Ro."

"Know anyone who can provide?"

The girls snickered. "Get your own," Bella said. "I don't share."

Alice grabbed onto Edward's wrist and examined his bracelet. "Wow! Congratulations!"

He smiled, admiring it. "Thanks." The doorbell rang. He hurried to answer it. A blond man and two women were waiting on the doorstep.

"Happy birthday, Edward," the man said. "I'm James. This is my sister Lauren and my sub, Vicky."

"Hi. Pleased to meet you."

By the time Edward let another fifty-odd people in the house, he was ready to sit down. They were flirting upstairs, and playing downstairs, and chatting outside, and mingling all over the place. Not in the bedrooms, though. Those were locked.

Bella appeared next to him and clinked on a wineglass with her fork. "Thank you all for coming. As you know, it's my boyfriend's birthday. You can call him Sweetie."

Everybody clapped and cheered, and he felt his cheeks pink.

"I'm not into sharing, as well you know," Bella said, "but every good boy needs a spanking for his birthday."