A/N:

A big thank you to all the readers still following this story, and for everyone who has reviewed. You have no idea what you mean to me, your words inspire me to continue.

There was a guest review who named her/him-self TWIN268: Honey, I tried to find you to thank you for your review and I hope you can log on so I can thank you properly.

To all the people who have added my story to their favorites and in their alerts, you make me blush...

I would like to apologize for taking so long, life gets a hold of us all and priorities take precedence. But I am not giving up on this story.

That said, enjoy the chapter. I cant wait to hear what you have to say about it!

Dark Dream, Sinful Kisses...

Z

Birthday

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Ch8: Willing or Not

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Beta Editor: MIST

Beta Pre reader: sweetdreams1

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JPOV

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I watched her as she took in the appearance of the playroom we would use for the beginning of her training and whenever she asked, after training is complete and maybe even during -things would change accordingly. It would show what worked and what didn't. This was just the basic layout my pack brothers and I had ran by the council and had been approved. I hope her training will take fast, so we can move on to enjoying each other in more... pleasurable ways.

There was just no other way. Not for my brothers...

...not for me.

She can get to know the real me after all this is over.

As Bella was in the beginning of her training, she didn't need to know about the freedom her future would hold, and thus I decided to withhold that information from her. Telling her about that would only renew give in her the false hope of returning to her old life, and that was something, which could never be allowed.

Not because I wouldn't allow it, but there were some secrets that had to be protected no matter the cost.

And boy, do I hope not to pay that price... because it would be my life on the line here...I just don't think I could kill her like protocol required as first option.

Besides that, I wouldn't be able to stand by and watch as she continued to allow for that miserable weasel further drown her with his intent to only use her as a doll display and leave her to stew in loneliness that drug her into such a deep depression as what she was already in.

So, there was no contingency plan...this was it.

Not knowing whether my hand was better than the cards Fate held, I was in. I was in.

All or nothing.

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The myriad of emotions that crossed her face as I told her that this would be the room, in which we would spend a lot of time together ranged from utter shock, to disgust, to fear, and back again. It may not have been obvious to anyone if I was judged by my actions, but I didn't want her to fear me, yet I would be a moron if couldn't understand why she did. She just needed to show me proper respect.

The thing is, that she just has to be ready to present to the council for acceptance in time, but in my desperation to have this whole mess over and done with, I was aiming for before that time frame.

The fact that she just needed to show me proper respect was more of a front, but it was just one of the things, which is what this whole "training process" was all about. It's the whole slave thing I hated, but it was a proven process...and I already felt for her more strongly that I imagined.

I know well that I was being far too optimistic and unrealistic, but it all boils down to one simple thing.

The bottom line.

When she is questioned, I want her to accept me.

The rest I would I'll try to handle differently.

Bitterly, I amended the prior thought mentally.

As much as I was allowed to anyways.

I know can't realistically expect her to accept this three-sixty-degree change more easily than she already had. As it was, she had shown she could handle the life I was to thrust onto her.

As before, her sight found mine and was quickly diverted down, making the beast inside me purred in satisfaction at her submission to our display of dominance.

Good. She's learning.

It was more than I could have asked for. Am I a monster for also being glad she had?

Abso-fucking-lutely.

I pushed off the wall and walked to her - and in attempt to reassure her - I grabbed her hand, pulled it to my lips and kissed the back of it. Hoping that simple actions like it would be more than enough to begin to gain her trust. At the same time, I knew it probably wouldn't.

As I told her to take in the room and spoke gently.

I looked to her and I saw her furrow her brows and even balked a little as every expression displayed on her face was like a page in a book: confusion and intrigue, disgust and shame. One was more prevalent than the rest.

Sour sweetness seeped from the area immediately surrounding her and spread further as her eyes catalogued everything her eyes set their weight on.

Fear...

Letting my curiosity get the best of me, I questioned her about it. Though I hoped for her honest answer, I feared her response. We were already on rocky beginnings; the last thing we needed was a punishment.

I hoped she understood the warning too, because I meant it, and even though it was something that I dreaded but knew would happen at least once, and by now... the other chosen ones had already displayed rebellion and had acted upon it.

My muscles jumped with anxiety, I felt as if that darkness inside me was pacing inside a cage until I saw more fear across her features then she lowered her eyes, and I knew that her hesitance in her responding was due to her thoughts filtering her words.

I held my breath till she finally spoke, hoping that she would, fearing that she wouldn't, hoping her words would not cause an outcome we would both regret.

After she admitted her fear, I explained that I understood but there will be a time when she would enjoy her time here.

It was the least I could do.

Thinking about it, physiologically, I knew well that the body betrays us as fear and lust usually have similar responses.

Her brow furrowed and she sucked in her the right side of lower lip as she turned her head away from me.

I wanted to ask her about her expression, however, that's when her unfiltered words came through in a sarcastic comment that I just couldn't allow.

"Says the guy holding the girl hostage."

I had let other things pass, but I had to make her understand that I was the Master and she was not allowed to walk over me. She would submit or we would both pay the price.

Fuck!

This was exactly what I was dreading, but I knew it was long overdue as per process warranted in prior assessments.

The beast roared with the need to assert dominance and uncaring of any hesitance the man had, pushing my consciousness back. I became a spectator to the body snatcher, as I watched the horror of what was about to happen filling her now wide open eyes and unable to really understand my vacillation, and with no time to really gauge the strange feeling now perceived as weakness by my counterpart.

Her hands had not been fast enough to cover her treacherous lips as I felt myself began to stalk forward while she tried to back away from me, but I needed to make her understand what her place was.

My lips moved and in a deeper tone, I had only heard myself use with my pack subordinates, while telling her that her error in speaking in such disrespect needed to be corrected.

She looked like a cornered rabbit, ready to bolt.

That would be a bad mistake with a dangerous predator like myself, my Pet.

She begged her forgiveness plea, while I re-stated her mistake, and what was about to happen because she didn't heed the blatant warning. Her fear became so thick and became like an aphrodisiac to the beast inside me, driving it out for the hunt of a weaker prey...her.

I imprisoned her with my body as she reached the wall, cutting off her chance to sprint, easily ignoring her human attempts to keep me at bay. Delicious and tortuous whimpers that racked at my sanity made their way through her quivering fleshy lips.

While the animal in me reeled in the feeling of power, part of me felt cross over the pain she was about to feel. I gritted my teeth against my own turmoil and shut down the need to protect her from the punishment, when the tormentor inside me reminded that she had been given prior warning about what would happen should she break the rules.

I grabbed her petite shoulders, with intentions to guide her into the punishment room.

The reaction I had expected much earlier finally reared its ugly head at this time. She began to fight and screamed, begging for forgiveness and pleading never to do it again.

Her squirming game me short trouble, with adjusting her arms with one of my hands and holding her tightly against my chest, i was able to lift her. To stop her wild-flying kicks, I spoke in a normal tone to her ear, "If you don't stop, it will be worse!"

I was actually shocked at how quickly she gave up and just hung, unmoving, in my arms.

She was now sweating, courtesy of so much movement and my own body heat. Her breathing fast and in short spurs die to the exertion form her skirmish attempt.

-and she was just so sexy.

I closed my eyes and gave myself a mental shake.

This was not the time to become turned on by the few sparks of her fury and fire. She will regain this power, but first I had to strip her raw of all the damages she had incurred till now at the hands of her husband.

The few steps to the room of pain I thought of how he had been basically shredding her, grating her to mold her into what he wanted. When I am done with her, she will be newly reborn. Strong enough to shape herself.

With that in mind, I let her feel the floor beneath her feet and waited for a moment for another outburst that didn't come, not even after I stopped restraining her.

I wasn't fooled into the calm. I knew the calm of the storm would come, and what had just happened was merely the beginning.

While I had foolishly hoped she had skipped right into acceptance, she was barely out of denial and entering the bouncing stages of pain and guilt. Where she would blame herself for what had happened; anger and bargaining, when she would seem complacent at times and others will earn punishments; and finally the stage of depression, reflection and loneliness, where she will feel the negative results of the training.

It was all part of the grieving process.

Only after this will the second part of the training begin. The upward turn, where she accepts her fate and though not happy about it is more receptive. This will be a dangerous stage, I would have to thread carefully at that time and not become too easy on her. As we will be working through her entire life before the change and earning trust with each other. She will have to trust in me and I in her for the next stage to begin. The part where I can hope for a more normal relationship with her. When she can be free to begin working on her own, be told the reasons for this whole charade, and meet the council. That moment which would break or make us.

Father will be disappointed, but...I have already chosen that she would be the only one.

"Close your eyes, Pet," I ordered quietly behind her right ear.

When she did, I parted the curtains and gave a slight push on her lower back to guide her to step forward where I had designed, specifically, to dish out the corrections I knew would take place. A space separated from what would become an area she would come to love sharing with me, right next to what during construction and future use I came to call 'the torture chamber'. I decided that since it was just a sassy comment, I would use the bench further inside.

Tears escaped her, sucking a sob, and opened her lips but before her pleas escaped her, I placed my fingers softly against them. I had to stop her from making other mistakes to earn more punishments she was unable to take, earned or not.

I told her to open her eyes, and to her fretful melted-chocolate, glossy orbs I explained the rules for this chamber and her punishment, and then I explained how to sit on the modified bench.

In this previously unseen place where her punishment would take place, I confessed to hating the process while I placed chains to her wrist and ankle cuffs.

To her benefit, she followed my instructions, and proceeded to adjust her restraints. In doing so, I stood to lose some trust from her, but this would present a test of her natural submission still.

Once she was in this vulnerable position, I had no need to battle the arousal that had been threatening to consume me earlier. The pungent stench of fear was far more punishing for me than words of hatred. I caressed the soft skin of her rear cheeks tenderly so that she would understand that I still care.

She jumped, probably expecting the first spank. I reminded her to count and concentrated, delivering only enough force, which was strictly necessary for this punishment. Having the receiving party counting instead of concentrating on the feel was for to keep her with me not absorb the pain to transform into pleasure, she had to understand that these were important rules. If those rules were broken, there would be pain.

Worse for her if it was from someone who didn't care.

The sad part, she was already so broken when I got her that I knew I had to be careful how I proceeded. The last thing I needed to do was pulverize her.

When a sob escaped her at the halfway point, I paused and tenderly caressed her reddening, warm bottom while whispering reassurances in her ear, then continued.

By the last stroke, she was trembling with loud sobs, barely able to breathe...and neither the monster in me nor myself felt sure about the entire event. I left her to her thoughts while I got the cream that Sue had given me to soothe her burning skin and some wipes to clean up her face. Then I entered the room again.

When my shadow fell across her form, she flinched away from me and clenched her eyes shut in fear. I closed my eyes almost regretting going through with the whole ordeal, but it had to be done.

I took a deep breath, knowing there was no use in crying over spilled milk. Then I opened my eyes and quickly began to gently clean the salty streaks left from her tears and pushed her matted hair out of the way so I could see her face. I noticed her staring at my hands with trepidation, which was expected. I told her that I would have to remove the straps covering her to apply the cream. She didn't protest.

I helped her sit up and caught her wince at the pain, which made me feel...this...strange twinge inside my gut.

"Slowly, Pet. It will hurt for some time." Getting a better look at the aggravated tissue around the leather, I considered how much it would chafe if she moved and changed my mind as to how to treat her, "I think it will be best if you take a bath and we treat this before sleep. Some warm water will do well in helping with the discomfort," I told her as I lifted her and took her upstairs to the master bathroom. Again, she made no move to protest when I lifted her, deciding not to let her walk to further exacerbate the welts. I had already seem to have destroyed much of my chance to earn her trust, so I figured I would begin again with not blindfolding her again on the return.

The fact that she was in shock was in accordance with the training process, but just to lay back and rely on her natural ability to heal itself as she grieves and accepts, was not my idea. No matter how much the elder's believe in somatic healing.

What good would it do anyways? She would learn how to get in and out of this playroom and she would be the keeper of my darkest secrets. Thus I would have to trust her too. Maybe trusting her first would be the best way to begin earning what little I had and now lost.

Her impassive demeanor was more than a little alarming, but I kept on with the motions.

I sat her on her own feet and caught her wince at the pain. I bit the inside of my cheek against the turn of my stomach. That strange feeling again.

After I made sure she could stand without my assistance, propping her against the counter, I walked over to the tub and began to fill it, lukewarm to my touch. I poured the soaking tea I had been told to have ready for situations like these, some homemade bubble soap into the water and let it mix. Once the tub was filled almost half way, and with plenty of bubbles, I turned and walked towards her.

She had her eyes casted low and was trembling...I didn't know if it was still from fear or possibly being cold. I pressed my lips together, unable to manage the uneasy feeling either reason and took a second to recover before I lifted her chin. She closed her eyes in avoidance of my sight as tears escaped her lashes.

I felt that twinge turn into a tug of my insides, and realized what the feeling was. Guilt...but what happened couldn't be avoided on my side. I had to make her understand this so we could move on.

"Look at me, Pet."

She hesitated a bit, but did as I asked. Her confusion was clear upon seeing, what was probably obvious, discontent and sadness in my eyes over what had occurred.

I asked her to remember the rules and respect me.

She told me she understood and lowered her eyes in respect.

At least she was learning.

I turned and shut the running water off then called her to me.

She tried to walk to me, but her legs gave way from beneath her, but I was quick to catch her before she hit the cool tile floor. It felt so right to have her there, in my arms. If only she would respond sooner to make the bond complete. All this didn't have to happen.

The animal in me was not restless now that she was close and within my grasp. It was patient as it dominated her slowly. It understood that she was already broken.

It didn't make me feel any better.

"I am so sorry, Pet. I didn't think it would be that bad. Hold yourself up with the counter. I will help you," I said softly, as she leaned on the counter for support.

I floated my hands over the garment unable to understand where it began or where it ended. I only know that it looked amazing against her pale skin.

The want to feel her skin was so powerful, yet I did not want to hurt her further.

I heard her sigh and with a trembling hand, she blindly reached for mine.

I stared at her hand holding my own as she slowly pulled and placed it over a buckle on her ribs. She deposited my hand there and returned hers to the counter to help hold herself upright.

A few seconds passed as I watched her trying to take calming breaths. I undid the buckle slowly and stopped. I reached for her hand softly and asked for her to aid me in removing the complicated garment.

Her eyes found mine on the mirror, then lowered in submission. I saw hot tears slowly trailed down her face. There was no panic, no desperate sobbing, just quiet tears of defeat...and hate.

She began to noticeably force herself, with hesitant movements, guiding my hand to the other buckles.

I was filled with a myriad of even more confusing emotions along with a cocktail of the ones that have been plaguing me since I acquired her. Over all, I felt such a guilty victory at her surrender.

When the time came to unbuckle the one covering her breasts, I was again feeling arousal at the sight of her sweat covered body and her compliance. It blinded me slightly to the truth of the situation, as I enveloped her body with mine, but still refrained from touching her, as if there was an invisible barrier between her flesh and mine. I brought my lips as close to her shoulder as I could, letting her feel my quickened breath, explaining without words the extreme effort in my restraint...and scenting her.

I loved how her face had turned a beautiful shade of pink, and I allowed for the lie that it was caused by her own reaction to my closeness as possible arousal, to swim in my thoughts

I undid that buckle even more slowly than the rest, savoring the whole situation for what it was. She was, however reluctant, giving me a gift which I was more than happy to unwrap.

I watched as she kept her eyes clenched shut while I followed her guidance, moving my hands close to her skin, outlining her curves with my heat, so desperate to touch her but not allowing myself the burning of the act.

My hands slid to her hips once more before she guided me to the last buckles, and as I had with the ones prior, I took my time.

As front fell off her body, but the back stayed in place as if it were glued to her skin, I stepped back and pulled the leather off without touching her.

Her subtle aroma reached my nose, but much stronger and my sight automatically lowered to the region of its origin.

I was and wasn't shocked to find the reason.

The mere act of just watching her form revealed to my eyes...this close, knowing that she was now in my possession.

She just had no idea of the havoc that her mere presence was causing to my insides.

I felt like a defiling animal, and deliriously aroused as I was, I couldn't help but enjoy it.

It was pure torture!

She may have hated it, but her body was already transforming all the pain into pleasure. The glistening drops now coloring a path down the inside of her thighs were proof of that.

She was made for this lifestyle. There was no other way she would have reacted any other way if it wasn't so, and I just couldn't wait to reward her for everything she is giving me, however reluctant she might be right now in the beginning.

One day, she will be mine by her own will.

I drank in her naked form for a few seconds, her frontal reflection and her rear facing me, before I lifted her in my arms bridal style and her arms were fast to wrap around my neck, probably in fear that she would fall. From the corner of my eyes, I was able to watch as her eyes opened wide but never lifted, a surprised gasp escaped her as a result of the unexpected movement.

I kept my eyes forward as I lowered her into claw-footed tub filled with warm water, and the bubbles curtained her naked body from my eyes in a blanket of foam.

I told her to relax, that I would return with the things I left in the dungeon and a towel for her.

I walked across to the room where the safe was and quickly opened it. I grabbed the phone, closed it, and headed down the stairs.

Sam responded after two rings, "Jacob." He was always dry and cut to the chase quickly.

"Sam. Any news?" I didn't have to be specific. He knew what we were on the lookout for.

"Nothing yet. Either they bought the story, or there's nothing posted yet. I should be able to find out tomorrow morning, since it will have been over 48 hours," Sam concluded, then he asked worriedly, "How was her first day?"

I sighed, grabbed the things I had left in the torture chamber and turned swiftly to return to her side.

"She received her first punishment a few moments ago. I feel like shit about it, and the day ain't over yet," I said. My voice was monotone, but Sam knew I was good at not allowing my voice to betray my emotions.

"Damn." He sighed, sounding like I felt.

"Yeah. I didn't feel it but it was a harsh one. I think it was more the humiliation than anything that got to her," I said, leaning against the wall in the hallway by the master bedroom door.

"She will feel the humiliation, but only until she really accepts it. It took Emily a while to mentally accept it, even though her attitude was pleasing. Have you had any…real physically intimate moments with her yet?" he asked.

"Nothing further than just letting her feel me close. She did aid me in getting her undressed though, but…" I trailed off remembering her clenched eyes and tense form. Her hatred and defeat practically pouring from her pores.

"Let me guess. She was stiff as a board?" he said.

"Yeah," I responded, letting out a gust of air through my teeth.

"You have to touch her since the first day, Jacob," he said, reminding me of what I dreaded. I wanted her to feel like more than obligation to me, "-and every day after. Have you marked her yet?"

"No, not yet," I responded, knowing he would push me to.

"Look. I understand you want her to feel something for you naturally, but the mark will allow her to feel what you seek. The connection that results will be slightly overwhelming at first, but it will ultimately help you by making her understand that she will not want or need anyone else," he said, then revealed, "-and if you do it in the middle of her receiving intense pleasure, she won't feel a thing."

"She was shaking like a leaf at the mere thought of me seeing her naked. Can you imagine if I force myself on her? She's already broken! I am already training her faster than usual!" I bargained, as I grabbed the soft nightwear and cream I had brought down before I changed my mind and took her to upstairs, "-I already feel like an animal, enjoying the carnage as I pillage and ravage her. Do I really need to pulverize her?"

"Jacob," he began, again sounding like I felt. I sighed as I listened to his patronizing me and pushing me to do what we have all been told, adding his experience, "I know how you feel about it. You know that Jared, Leah and I went through the same thing, believe me. It will be the last break for her, have you presented her with a collar yet?" he asked, I walked to the switch and shut off the light.

"No, not yet," I said, rolling my eyes as I walked back through the darkened room towards the stairs, "I did tell her that she would get one though."

"Good. Good, you can give it to her as a present her after you both become…intimate." Even though we all saw in each other's minds this…intimacy. Sam and I were not so comfortable speaking about them in any crude way, unlike Paul.

"I don't think she will see it that way," I grumbled, as I closed the secret-not-so-secret entrance softly till it clicked closed and walked to the kitchen as he continued trying to convince me that everything we had been doing had a reasoning.

"Then maybe you should make her see it that way, using Jared's method. Negate her, show her the ownership collar, telling her she could be sold or given to another who might treat her differently… rougher… less… pleasurably. Make her somehow want to strive to obtain it," he said hesitantly, obviously hating the idea.

I growled, not pleased at all with the idea, but it did make sense on some level.

When he was silent on the other side, I quieted my beast and sighed with irritation as my hand was suddenly gripping the back of my neck.

"Jared took her to the slave trade, didn't he?" I asked, thinking of the threat Jared had made should Kim make another attempt to escape.

"Yeah. Earlier today, in fact. And it sure made a hell of an impression. You know how he had a hard time with her until so far. So far, the change in her has been...impressive," he said. I had yet to connect with them to see what the change entailed.

I admit that I was intrigued.

"There is an auction tonight," he volunteered softly.

"There is one every night," I said with knowing annoyance, then thought about it and, hoping for the best, I reconsidered the option, "I will think about it,"

I hung up the phone, not wanting to discuss it further.

I made sure that I locked the phone with the code and put it in my back pocket as I walked back in the bathroom.

I put the things from downstairs on the bathroom counter by the sink gathered her bathing supplies from the basket sitting right at the end, and turned to the shower with the idea to do what was necessary.

I would try to touch her, but not as intimately as Sam had said to - or done so. I made up my mind that I would not do anything more than that gesture. Not yet anyway. Not until I thought it through, but time was growing short, and Sam was right. If I were to follow protocol then, the first day was when we needed to establish ownership over her.

...and playing by those rules, then he was right, I will probably have to mark her.

Not exactly what I wanted to do until she gave herself to me willingly.

Deciding to take more time to keep thinking this over, I focused on my task. She was still quiet as I kneeled by the outside of the tub. She made no movement as I reached for her bathing sponge and lathered with some of her body soap.

Seems like she had been spacing out till then though, because when she saw that I was reaching for her, she grimaced and recoiled a bit from me.

I gave her a few seconds and took a calming breath as she took a shaky one of her own and forced her own body to relax. It didn't work as I saw her muscles were coiled and she was visibly tense.

I asked her to sit up, and she tried, twice.

The first time, she winced. The second, she whimpered sufferingly.

Her reaction jolted me forward to help her back down. I had been enough of an animal to her; it was time to give her some tenderness that I was capable of. Maybe reward her with some pleasure of her own.

When I told her that I would work with what I had access to, her breath picked up speed, and she tensed further. Her body even rigid than before, if that was even possible.

She proceeded to immediately close her body from me; her arms wrapped around her upper body her legs crossed. The soreness on her backside was the cause for a quick whiplashed wince in pain, but she seemed to become determined to ignore it and curled into herself tighter. By now, I didn't hold my hopes up. Then, she also began to shake her head in negative.

I sighed, understanding her reaction, but I knew it could be worse.

"I think I am going to regret this," I said to myself, closing my eyes for a second to hold back my aggravation at this mess and allowed her to "speak."

She began to plead that she could bathe herself and wanted to have this 'dignity'. I would have to make her understand that this was no indignity, this was me taking care of her, but Sam was right. I needed to put my foot down and assert my dominance...calling it ownership felt so...it just didn't feel right.

I caressed her face softly and tenderly moving it to meet her face with mine, after a cleansing breath asking for patience to the great spirits above.

Ignored her prior protest and began with the arm closest to me, then the other, quickly lathering her smooth skin as I went, "I have a question for you, Pet," I said, then paused my speech while I repeated the same process with the other arm. I didn't say anything while I washed her legs next.

Her entire being expressed the distress she found herself in. Even as I was slightly distracted, I paid attention to the changes she was exhibiting. The further up my hands caressed, and the closer my hands got to the union of her inner thighs, the shorter her breathing became.

Suddenly, her heart skipped a beat, and she tensed like she was being electrocuted. This is when I was close enough to feel the short hair that still decorated the area between her legs.

I stopped and pulled my hand back, deciding to go another route, not what we had been taught to do. Forcing her into having sex with me will be even more deterrent than anything I have and will have to do.

I may be anything else in the book, but I am no rapist.

I exhaled loudly as I lowered her leg, and I asked her if she remembered that she belonged to me. She didn't respond right away, reminding me that she was not allowed to speak unless she was told to do so. So I cleared my throat, "You may answer."

Her response was automatic.

"Yes, Master."

Call me a masochist, but knowing the answer, I still wanted to hear her say the words, so I asked. "Then why are you so apprehensive when I get close to you? You may speak freely, Pet."

She seemed apprehensive in regards to responding, measuring her words carefully.

At least she learned the harsh lesson, and I may not need to impart more punishments because of it. I felt a massive weight off my shoulders at this relief, but her answer felt like a dagger through the heart.

"I don't think you will like my answer, Master. I wish to avoid any further encounters with you in the torture chamber," she said, her voice trembling a bit.

I didn't say anything as a response. If I did, my voice would betray me, possibly crackling. Then she said something that was sharper. She repeated my own rules back at me.

"Of course, none of it matters now. I just need to get used to belonging to you. It's a new lifestyle I am not used to. I just need time to adjust to the sudden change of dynamics, Master."

Remembering what Sam said earlier and the situation with Kim, I pushed for her to understand what her position was by asking her if she was trying to tell me how to train her and if she thought I was unfair with my choice of punishment for her.

Her answer told me everything I needed to know. The last question would decide if we were going out to the trade or staying in for the night.

"No more hesitance then?" I asked.

"The hesitance will be there, but I will do as you say. My thoughts on what you say and direct me to do are irrelevant, and to negate you the permission which I am not in power to deny will be futile," she responded after a moment of thought, "-Master."

"Good, then let's finish your bath," I said, finalizing the conversation, dipping my hand in the water slowly till I reached her trembling stomach now more visible.

Her words may have sounded to anyone else as if she was finally giving in, but to me, they showed that she was getting stronger.

After learning about Jared's success and now hearing this -

Maybe a trip to the auction may not be such a bad idea.