Banner by: Jaime Arkin
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From the Depths (an I Want It Painted Black Outtake) by SaritaDreaming
Beta: Sue (chayasara)
Summary: Izzy Black's only release valve is Jack, her Dom. Things get complicated when she can no longer deny her growing feelings for Edward, her ever patient vampire lover, and the guilt threatens to buckle her resolve not to fall in love with him. Takes place in the spaces between chapters 5 and 6 of I Want It Painted Black, but there are enough details to read as a stand-alone short story.
Dedication: Lovingly dedicated to Katalina (Kroseph) who has encouraged and inspired so many, including me.
PLEASE NOTE: Events in this outtake take place in the spaces between chapters 5 and 6 before Edward took over as Izzy's Dom.
From the Depths
My trembling fingers tightened around the vial of coke. I wanted to numb the fears threatening to consume me. Cold sweat dotted my forehead and trickled down my spine. The golden light spilling in through my bedroom window did nothing to dispel the terror.
The scene of James leaping through Edward's window and asking him to hand me over had featured in my nightmares for the past several nights. I was tired of waking up screaming and clutching at Edward. It was weak. Apparently, napping in the middle of the afternoon made no difference.
I held up the half empty vial of white powder, and my heart beat faster in anticipation of the high; my body readied itself for the release.
Then I remembered my promise to Ricky—and Edward—that I wouldn't do the hard stuff. "Shit." I tossed the vial back into my cigar box and slammed the dresser drawer so hard my cork board fell off the wall, its frame splintering. "Great."
The burn of tears stung my eyes. I wanted Edward. That was part of the problem—Edward was always there to pick up my pieces, always trying to be what I needed. The past few nights, I'd insisted on sleeping alone, nightmares be damned. He wasn't happy about it, but he'd agreed to stay away if I allowed his family to watch over me.
The dreams always ended the same way—with James severing Edward's head. Always Edward destroyed because of me and his insistence on protecting me. He still hadn't accepted that I wasn't worth the trouble.
The window slid up, startling me, and Alice popped through looking solemn. "He'll agree to see you." She sighed, pouting and crossing her arms like a petulant child.
"Jack." Alice spat out his name as if it were a dirty word. "He'll make time for you this evening . . . so you can blow off some steam."
"I don't have plans with Jack."
"Yes, you do. Unless you'd rather break your word . . ." She glared pointedly at my dresser. "Jasper and I will drive you."
A few hours later, I stood outside the door to Jack's suite, smoothing sweaty palms over my tight black mini-skirt. Jack had indeed agreed to a session, but he'd seemed reluctant at first, stating he needed to get back to me. When he'd called back, there was less tension in his usually carefree tone, and we'd agreed upon a time.
When I knocked, a beautiful woman opened the door. She was tall and curvy with exotic cheekbones and almond shaped gray eyes. Her silky black hair was swept up in a chignon, a few escaped tendrils framing her face. "Yes?"
"I'm here to see Jack."
Miss Exotica tilted her head to the side and looked me over with unabashed curiosity. "Come in." She led the way into the suite and offered me a drink.
"Got any JD?"
She wrinkled her nose with distaste but sashayed around the end of the bar to pour me a glass and handed it over. And that's when her necklace caught my eye—or should I say collar? It was a half-inch wide diamond encrusted choker with a "J" emblazoned front and center in gleaming sapphire.
A few times Jack had clipped a leather lead on me, but this was so obviously different. This woman meant something to Jack, and I'd probably interrupted their time together with my "emergency." I couldn't seem to stop staring at the very expensive necklace she wore or the matching set of dangling diamond earrings with a smaller version of the sapphire "J" that adorned her ears.
"May I offer you anything else?"
"No, thanks. Where's Jack?"
"Master is showering."
I perched on a stool at the bar and sipped my JD, trying not to stare at Miss Exotica. She kept herself busy tidying up, and when a door closed somewhere deeper inside the suite, she snapped to attention and excused herself. Picking up a pile of towels, she let herself into Jack's bedroom and shut the door behind her, leaving me alone in the living room. I picked at my stubby nails and felt thoroughly intimidated—and like an intruder.
When the bedroom door finally opened, Jack sauntered out with Miss Exotica in his wake. Her demeanor was completely changed; she trailed a few feet behind him with her head bent and eyes lowered. Jack's lower half was encased in a pair of black jeans. His chest was bare, with the exception of the gold cross he always wore, and his pecs gleamed with a fine sheen of moisture. He raked a hand through his still-damp hair and nodded my way before continuing on to the door of the suite with his sub matching his steps.
He picked up a handbag from the floor by the door and turned to face her. "You may look at me, Lucinda."
Lucinda raised her face, looking into his eyes with reverence. Jack placed a finger under her chin, tipping her face higher, and placed a lingering kiss on her lips. "Thank you for today. You'll be rewarded later. I'll call for you."
"I live to serve you, Master." She bowed her head and accepted the handbag.
Jack shut the door behind her, pressing his forehead against the highly polished wood.
Shame burned through me. The scene was so intimate. Jack cared for Lucinda, and I'd ruined their evening. She so readily accepted him being with other women? "Jack, I'm sorry if I—"
"Silence, doll." He faced me, his gaze frosty, and the words dried up in my throat. "Why are you sitting there drinking my liquor and looking me in the eye? Did Lucinda not provide a good example for you? Is your ass craving the sting of my palm?" The Dom was in.
Abandoning the glass of JD, I fell into a submissive pose. My face burned with indignation, but I kept my eyes lowered and waited in silence.
Jack gripped my jaw lightly in his hand and lifted my face. Wisely, I kept my eyes down. "Good girl. Rise and follow me to my room. Then I want you to strip and kneel beside the bed." His voice was low and commanding.
A sense of relief flooded my body, loosening the tension. This is what I crave—giving over control to someone I have no emotional attachment to. Jack is safe. Allowing him to be in control is safe.
I stripped my clothes off, folded them neatly, and placed them on the chair beside the bed. Jack abhorred disorder. Last week he'd nearly tanned my hide for tossing my clothes to the floor and spent ten minutes lecturing me about how caring for my things was an extension of caring for myself. The eye roll I'd failed to suppress had ended up earning me a sore ass.
The roughness of the carpet fibers bit into my knees after a while, but the pain kept me mindful. I was hardly a natural sub—the thought was actually laughable—but Jack had it right when he said sweet relief could be found in handing off my control to him.
Something silken slid up the skin of my back and over my shoulder. A length of soft black material dangled in front of my eyes for a moment, and then he blindfolded me with it. More tension seeped from my muscles as my sense of sight was blotted out, replaced by anticipation as the sounds around me heightened.
I rose to my feet. The blindfold blessedly removed the stress of remembering not to look Jack in the eye.
"Good girl." Something soft whispered over my skin, starting at the inside of my ankle and wrapping slowly around my leg. When he reached the cleft of my ass, he switched sides, starting at the ankle and ending at the top of my inner thigh before continuing over my belly and ribs to my nipples, where the stimulation quickly reached the threshold of pleasurable pain. My lips parted, but I fought to remain still and managed not to cry out. "You're doing so well."
His large hand wrapped around my throat, and the warmth of his lips brushed along my jaw. The sensitizing implement was removed, and Jack tweaked a thrumming nub between his fingers, sending a jolt straight to my abdomen. I stiffened, going up on my toes, fighting to hold back a whimper. He palmed my sore breast, the roughness of his calloused hand rasping against my now super-sensitive nipple, ratcheting up the sensation and soothing it at the same time.
His fingers slid around to cup the back of my neck, his lips coming down on mine firmly. There was nothing tentative about the way Jack kissed; he took the lead, plundering my mouth with his tongue. His hand skimmed over my ribs and flattened against my back, crushing me against his body. The warm, pliant skin of his torso and the hard roughness of his denim-covered hips provided a heady contrast.
My hands remained at my sides; I wasn't allowed to touch unless invited. Despite my nakedness, I was intensely warm, almost to the point of discomfort. The JD I'd downed earlier lent a pleasant elasticity to my joints and probably contributed to the overall warmth suffusing my body.
Jack turned our mashed-together bodies while our lips were still connected and backed me toward the bed. When my knees touched the edge of the mattress, he broke the kiss and guided me down. The cool smoothness of silk sheets caressed my skin.
"Lay down in the middle of the bed and remain still."
I complied, my breathing shallow.
I heard the rustle of fabric as he removed his jeans. A brief silence followed before the bed dipped down as he joined me. Anticipation shuddered through me, and my eyes were open wide against the blackness of the blindfold—not a pinprick of light was visible.
"Don't move, doll."
A moment later, the bite of melted wax stung my navel. I hissed, arching my neck but keeping my body rigid. Cool wetness rimmed my belly button right after, icy drips tickling just inside. I bit my lip almost hard enough to draw blood. Almost there. I was almost there. If I failed at his instructions, he'd start the process all over again.
"Good job," Jack crooned, his lips grazing my ear. The bed creaked as he leaned over and opened the nightstand drawer where he kept the condoms. "As a reward, you choose—fast and hard or soft and slow?" His seductive tone sent shivers rippling over my skin. He pressed gentle kisses along the side of my face as he awaited my answer.
"Fast and hard, Sir." My answer was always the same. I wanted to be punished, to remain in the moment. I didn't deserve tenderness. Secretly, I think Jack enjoyed it that way himself; maybe then he didn't feel as guilty about Lucinda.
"Grab onto the headboard." Jack spread my legs and speared into me, wasting no time as he set off at the fast, punishing pace I reveled in.
I held onto the wooden slats, the sharp edges digging into my hands. As he filled me over and over, my mind balked, splitting in two—part of me loving the unemotional attachment while the other cried out for Edward, craving his cool hardness and the tender way he made love to me. Don't go there. Don't think of himright now.
After a recent incident when Jack had punished me for not coming on command, I'd finally admitted I couldn't reach orgasm during sex. You do every time you're with Edward . . . my inner banshee taunted.
"You may touch yourself, but don't come." Jack's gritty baritone pulled me from my thoughts and back to the bedroom.
Letting go of the headboard, I slid a hand between our writhing bodies and circled two fingers around, bringing myself higher but not close enough to disobey Jack's command.
"Yes, good girl." He thrust harder into me, bringing me to the brink of release.
It was hard not to just fall over the edge. I was becoming skilled at holding it back, but I'd given in a number of times and received the sting of Jack's palm as punishment. Warmth coiled in my abdomen, and I panted, waiting for permission to let go.
"God, yes . . ." Jack grunted. "Come for me, doll."
As if my body called him Master and recognized his command, ribbons of ecstasy unfurled from the center of me, spiraling outward. I was completely vulnerable, putty under Jack's hands, biting my lip to keep from crying out. I was allowed to be vocal now, but something inside stopped me every time.
Jack rolled off me, and I curled into a ball in the middle of his bed with the blindfold still in place. By the movement of the mattress and his heavy breathing, I knew he was perched on the side of the bed.
Now that the high had worn off, my stomach churned unpleasantly and I trembled. This wasn't the first incident, but it was far worse this time, and I fought to gain control over myself.
"Hey . . ." Jack's voice was soft, and he laid a hand on my shoulder.
I hunched further into a ball, attempting to shut him out.
"Izzy, what's going on?" He stripped the silky material away from my eyes, and the soft candlelight pierced my vision for a moment before I acclimated. "Why are you crying? Did I hurt you?"
"I'm not crying." My voice was shaky but my tone scathing.
"Yes, you are."
The tender touch of his fingers on my cheek was too much, and I pulled away. "Get the fuck away from me, okay? Just . . . get out."
"This is my room."
"Can I please have a few minutes alone?"
"I'll be in the living room."
I faced away from Jack while he pulled his jeans on and padded from the room, shutting the door gently. I wanted to get up and slam the door. I wanted to break everything in the room. There was nobody to blame but me.
I swiped a hand over my face, and it came back wet with tears. "Fuck me." I knew why this was happening, and I hated it. That burn churning inside me? That was guilt.
I leaped from the bed and yanked my clothes on, not even bothering to shower. I just wanted to be away from here as soon as humanly possible. My need for what Jack could do for me hadn't lessened, but my ability to make excuses for it was waning. Somewhere a scale was tipping, and the thought sent a torrent of rage into my bloodstream.
When I rushed into the living room, Jack sat calmly at the bar tipping back a bottle of beer. A glass of JD sat at the empty stool beside him. The dark bottle touched down on the bar top and he tilted his head, taking me in appraisingly, but he said nothing.
"I'm sorry, Jack. You didn't do anything wrong."
"Sit. Have a drink with me."
I shook my head. "I have to get out of here." Grabbing my bag, I headed toward the door then hesitated. "Who was that woman?"
"My sub, obviously." He continued staring into his beer.
"She's not just any sub, Jack. I saw her collar."
"It's none of your business, Izzy, just like I don't ask you about him."
My chest tightened. "There's nothing to know there."
"Bullshit." Jack turned his frostiest glare on me. "Let it go. I don't understand the dynamics of your relationship, and you can't even begin to understand mine." He laughed shortly, shaking his head.
"'Night, Izzy. Take care of yourself, okay?"
"I always do."
Even if it destroys everyone around me.
When I reached the bar, it was in full swing. People were drinking, dancing, talking, and laughing. Men were hitting on women, people were tipsy, and the bouncers were busy. My nerves were raw, and I wanted a quiet, dark place.
There was no sign of Alice or Jasper, so I ducked under the end of the bar and tugged on Johnny's sleeve. "Have you seen my friends? Little short girl with dark hair and a tall, lanky guy with blond curls?"
Without missing a beat, Johnny continued mixing ingredients in a shaker. "Alice stopped by a few hours ago. Said she had to go, but a ride would be waiting out front for you."
"Drink for the road?"
"No, thanks. See you."
Usually, I'd be up for partying, but I pushed my way through the press of bodies, the scent of stale cigarettes and alcohol along with the loud voices nauseating me. The entryway loomed ahead, and I rejoiced once the door swung open and a rush of cold air swept over my fevered skin.
It was a damp, dark night. Disembodied swirls of fog clung to the wet pavement and hovered in a halo around the buildings, shrouding the entrances to nearby alleyways. Voices bounced around, seeming to come from everywhere at once.
"Alice?" I called softly, knowing she'd hear me wherever she was.
A light scuff by the curb drew my attention, and Edward materialized out of the fog where he'd been leaning against the Aston Martin. He approached slowly, his face remaining in shadow.
"Edward. What are you doing here?" My heart lurched in my chest.
"Alice called me. She saw you might need me tonight." His voice was velvet soft and kind, not hard and angry like I deserved.
How fucked up was it for Edward to pick me up after I'd just left my Dom? I was relieved to see him and deeply ashamed at the same time. I poised there on the sidewalk, unsure how to react. Alice set me up. She must have seen what a hard time I would have tonight, how guilty I would feel, and decided to throw a little kindling onto the bonfire. I was too bone weary to be angry with her. Maybe tomorrow.
My rumination was cut short when Edward yanked me up against him with a growl. He ran his nose along my jaw and down the side of my neck. His fingers tightened on my arms for a moment—then they were gone and he stepped back, looking away. "I'm sorry."
"Edward, what the hell?"
"His scent . . . it's all over you." He growled again, low in his throat.
He'd never picked me up at Jack's before. I'd always had plenty of time to shower and remove all traces of Jack's scent. My mouth opened and closed again. What did you say to your vampire lover when he picked you up from your human Dom's? Tears stung my eyes for the second time tonight, and I blinked rapidly. It didn't matter; Edward could smell them.
"I'm sorry," I whispered.
"It's all right. I should have . . . been prepared. Come. Get in. You must be freezing out here." Edward, always the quintessential gentleman, put a guiding hand on my elbow and led me to the Aston Martin.
More than a little mortified, I curled in a ball on the seat and opened my window half way. The thought of Jack's scent hovering like a ghost in the car with us was abhorrent to me . . . not just Jack's smell but our mingled post coital essence. My cheeks burned with shame.
Edward pulled smoothly away from the curb, heading away from Port Angeles. Vague shadows whipped by as we hurtled through the fog-laden night. He rested a hand on my arm. "Are you okay?"
"I will be."
His fingers slid down to entwine with mine. He seemed to intuit that I wasn't in a talkative mood, and we rode in silence until the car turned into the Cullens' drive.
"You're bringing me to your house?"
"Yes. Alice dropped off some of your things, and my family will give us privacy." The Aston Martin braked to a gentle stop in front of the house and Edward turned the car off. He bowed his head for a moment before speaking again. "I'm sorry if you were taken by surprise tonight. It wasn't my intention to upset you."
"You didn't, Edward."
"Your body language and the chemicals in your bloodstream say different," he countered.
"Can we just go inside?" I huffed, opening my door and stepping out into the chilly night, my boots crunching on the gravel. I never heard him come up behind me, but he was right there, swinging me up into his arms and carrying me to his room. I batted at his chest, trying to squirm my way out of his embrace. "Put me down!"
He set me on my feet with a wounded look. "Have I done something wrong? Haven't I given you enough space?"
Turning my back to him, I rummaged through my bag, grabbing a nightshirt and a pair of panties. The breath stuck in my chest, and I could only manage a croak. "Edward, no. It's not you at all. Don't you get it?" Without looking at his beautiful face, I raced for the bathroom and slammed the door shut, leaning against it.
Edward thought he did something to offend me. The very thought caused a wave of pain to radiate through my being. The way I felt could only be compared to a pressure cooker, and I desperately needed a release valve. That's what my sessions with Jack were for, but it no longer seemed to work. For the first time in weeks, I wanted to cut. My trusty blade was out in the bedroom where Edward was, so I opened the medicine cabinet and rifled around looking for a razor blade. Then I remembered vampires don't need to shave. "Fuck me," I whispered. My nails weren't long enough to do much damage, but I raked them over the tender skin of my forearms hard enough to draw tiny beads of blood—it would just have to do.
In the shower, I turned the water up as hot as I could stand it and scrubbed at my body until my skin was raw. Bits of red wax washed down the drain, a few larger pieces lodging in the trap. As the night played behind my eyes, I pressed my forehead against the steamy tile and allowed my tears to fall freely. You're a pathetic mess, Izzy Black.
Why did I feel as if I'd cheated on Edward? He knew the score and was willing to continue on. That doesn't make it right. That doesn't mean this is how you really want it.
It didn't matter what I wanted; this was how it had to be. I couldn't afford to fall for Edward or allow him to squeeze through a chink in my armor. I'd spent so much time and precious energy building a carefully constructed fortress around my heart and emotions. If the walls crumbled, I might not survive—especially if something went wrong between us.
You can't deny the guilt's eating away at your insides like a caustic acid.
I lost track of time, and eventually the hot water ran out and the ice cold spray pelted my body, searing my skin. I didn't care. I never wanted to come out of the bathroom and face him—because that meant facing my own feelings, and that was too dangerous.
Like most things, the decision was taken out of my hands.
One moment I huddled under the freezing water, and the next, Edward was in the shower with me, fully clothed. He wrapped his arms around me and pulled me in tight against his body.
I tried to fight him off at first, my wet hands sliding off his shirt, and I refused to look into his eyes—but I knew even as I fought that it was futile. His strength outweighed my own, both emotionally and physically. He would be patient and wait until I stopped flailing or ran out of energy. Strong and steadfast.
It was too late to hide my tears, so I collapsed against him in the shower and cried my heart out. He reached over to turn off the taps then held me tightly, my head tucked beneath his chin, rocking us to and fro silently. Despite the freezing water and his cold body, I felt warm and safe in his embrace. I was too tired to think about what that meant, and my inner banshee was silent for once.
When my tears slowed to a trickle, Edward dried me with a fluffy towel and pulled my nightshirt over my head, dressing me like a child. I didn't fight him.
"Wait here for a moment," he requested softly.
In a flash, he was back in the bathroom, dried and dressed. He took my hand, leading me into his room, and turned down the covers on the bed. I allowed him to sit me down, swing my legs up, and tuck the duvet under my chin. I finally gazed into his eyes, and they were filled with sorrow—not the pity or anger or frustration I expected.
"What can I do?" His voice was low and anguished.
I knew his question went deeper than what he could do at that moment, but I wasn't ready to go there—not even in my own heart and mind. I reached up and caressed the cool smoothness of his cheek. "Will you lay with me?"
"Of course . . . anything." He tumbled over me, landing on the other side of the bed on top of the covers.
I turned my head until we were nose to nose on my pillow and gazed into his warm honey eyes. "Thank you," I whispered.
"Everything. For not judging me . . . for putting up with my shit . . . for knowing when not to push. I don't deserve you."
"Shh . . . nonsense." Edward cupped the back of my head and brought our lips together softly. There it was—that electric tingling thrumming through my body, but he seemed to intuit that even though Jack's scent had been washed away, I couldn't give him anything more than kisses tonight. He traced his fingers over my face, looking deeply into my eyes. "I'm not going anywhere."
When he leaned in, I didn't stop him from kissing me. It was slow and unhurried and left a brand on my soul—one it would take time to recognize the true meaning of, but one that would eventually transform my entire existence.