It's a good day, Christian. It's a good day. You're having a good day. You've had a wonderful weekend in Aspen, flirty e-mails with Ana this morning. I keep repeating this in my head, like a mantra, as I walk into John's office for my 11:00 a.m. appointment. All objective evidence indicates that I should be ok. That I am ok. I'm ok. I feel like I've had a boulder in the pit of my stomach ever since Friday. Ever since Ana safe worded.

"Christian have a seat," John says getting up from his chair. "I just need to return a page and then I'll be right back."

John exits his office before I can say anything. As soon as the door closes the dam bursts. My head is in my hand, my throat constricting. I can't breath. First my lip starts to quiver, and then a flood of wetness seeps from my eyes. I keep trying to catch my breath but I feel like I'm drowning. I don't hear the door open when John returns, but I feel his hand touch my shoulder and place a box of tissues next to me on the couch. He places them so they touch my leg, letting me know where they are without disturbing me.

We sit in silence, as I cry. John doesn't look bored or worried. It's as if he knows I have to go through this wave of emotion on my own, and he can only sit there and provide gentle support and safety. Finally ten minutes later I let out the last whimper, and blow my nose. I look up and see John's face, and suddenly I start laughing. John's face breaks into a smirk as he lets me ride this wave of catharsis. Finally the laughter subsides.

"Feeling better?" John asks.

"Actually, I do. I feel like I just ran a marathon."

"It's the endorphins," John says. "Chemically, endorphins are a lot like morphine, and both laughing and crying stimulate the release of them."

"I feel like I had been holding that in all weekend. I guess subconsciously I was waiting to get here to just let it out."

"I was worried about you," John says. Of course he's talking about the break in. It's been all over the news. "Do you want to talk about it?" he says. It's more a statement than a question. I pause for a moment inhaling deeply, exhaling the final molecules of tension.

"Ana never does what she's told. She told me she was going to go straight home from work but instead she went to a bar, to Zig Zag, with her friend Kate. I got so angry."

"What did the anger feel like?" John asks.

"It felt like my skin was tightening on my body to the point where it was going to squeeze my insides out. It felt like everything was pulling so tight, I couldn't escape. Like I was going to suffocate."

I pause for a moment, but John just stares at me. We sit in silence.

"I got on a plane and came back, I was so angry. When I landed I found out that Hyde had broken into my home."

"And how did that make you feel?"

Oh for christ sake. Is he for real, how did it make me fucking feel. I show him how I fucking felt. "Angry. Sheer burning rage."

John is silent, willing me to keep going. "I didn't deal with it so well. I tried to punish Ana, and, well, I fucked up. I just fucked up. I think she forgives me. I pray she does."

"How did you try to punish Ana?"

I suddenly feel so embarrassed. Less than five months ago I was telling John all about a hot scene with Susanna. I had her suspended from the ceiling and caned her with a plug in her butt and a gag in her mouth. I told John every gory detail without flinching. I just feel so weird telling him about Ana.


"I'm sorry John. It's just, I don't know why I get embarrassed talking about this stuff."

"So you tried to punish Ana in the bedroom, or the playroom, in your case." John says.

"How else would I punish her?"

"Christian, we can emotionally punish our partners without laying a hand on them. How exactly did you punish Ana. Were there any physical injuries?"

"No No No. It was nothing like that. I just," I sigh and run my hand through my hair, unable to find adequate words to express myself. "We got in a really big fight. Well it was more like a cold war. When I got back from New York I was burning with rage and I just shut down, and I guess I reverted to my old coping mechanism. I didn't hurt Ana, but I wanted to. I wanted to cane her so bad. In my own stupid thought process, I convinced myself that physical pain was off limits, but other forms of erotic punishment were ok. So I decided on orgasm denial. She safe worded. It was a disaster."

"I'm sorry Christian, you're going to have to enlighten me here. Safe worded?"

I laugh. I've never had to explain safe words to John. None of previous partners ever had to use them.

"It's a code word, that says the scene, the sexual act, has to stop immediately. I always told myself that I had failed as a Dominant if any of my partners had to use safe words. As Dominant it was my job to read their signals, gauge their limits."

"But you're not Ana's dominant. And she's not your submissive," John says.

"I know. I guess the fear of losing Ana, of something happening to her, was just overwhelming. I fell back on what I knew."

"So what exactly happened?" John asks. I can't tell if he wants a recitation of the details for my benefit or his own. Seeing my reluctance he continues. "Christian I wouldn't ask you to verbalize it if I didn't think it was important. Sometimes we build thoughts up in our head and replay them on a loop. They seem a lot worse when they're just in our head, but if we say them, they don't seem so scary."

"I tied her up and blindfolded her. And I used a vibrator to bring her to the brink over and over again and then just before I knew she was going to climax, I removed contact so she was left wanting."

"I see," John says.

"I felt terrible about myself. I still do."

"Do you think Ana forgives you?" John asks.

"I do. In fact I know she does. I've never felt more certain of her love."

"Than the question is, Christian, can you forgive yourself?"

I can see the clock behind John's desk. Our time is almost up, and I opt to wait John out. I don't know if I can ever forgive myself. I'm certainly not going to commit to forgiving myself today. No I think I'll prolong the self-loathing just a little bit longer.

"Well Christian we're out of time."

"Laters John." I walk out of John's office, down the elevator, and into Taylor's waiting car. Its a good day, Christian. It's a good day. You're having a good day.