Chapter 22
We Need to Talk

Wednesday, June 11, 2013

I stand in front of the door to room 112. Lifting my hand to the door, I knock and then wait. A moment later, Felix opens the door. He's on his cellphone. He blinks at me in surprise, then holds the door wide open and gestures for me to enter the room.

He holds the phone against his chest. "I'll be just a minute or two," he says. "Help yourself to something in the minibar." He points to the small fridge on the other side of the room. He turns and walks away, wandering into one of the bedrooms. "Okay, I'm back..." he says into the phone.

Walking in, I glance around the room. He's in a suite, like the one at the Fairmont, only the furnishings here are ultramodern, and very now. The walls and ceilings are a light creme color. I make my toward the minibar, and opening it, I help myself to a bottle of water. I hear Felix talking in the other room and then I hear water running...he's filling a bath. He walks back into the room.

"Ok...thank you," he says. "Yep, goodbye."

Ending the call, he puts his cellphone into his back pocket. He stares at me, his face impassive, and the silence begins to stretch between us.

Okay, now I guess it's my turn to talk.

"You never answered my question," I murmur.

"No. I didn't," he says quietly, his blue eyes wide and cautious.

"No, you never answered my question, or no, you didn't love her?"

He folds his arms against his chest and leans against the wall as a small smile plays upon his lips.

"What are you doing here, Elizabeth?" he asks.

"I've just told you."

He takes a deep breath. "No. I never loved her." He frowns at me, amused yet puzzled.

I can't believe I'm actually holding my breath. I sag like an old cloth sack as I release it. Oh, thank heavens. How would I feel if he actually loved that witch?

"You're quite the blue eyed goddess, Elizabeth. Who would've thought?"

"Are you making fun of me, Mr. Kjellberg?" I ask innocently.

"I wouldn't dare, Miss Callahan." He shakes his head, a wicked gleam in his blue eyes.

"Oh, I think you would, and I think you do - often."

Felix smirks as I give him back the words that he's said to me before.

His eyes darken. "Stop biting your lip. You're in my room, I haven't seen you for nearly three days, and I've flown a long way just to see you." The tone of his Swedish accent is soft and sensual.

His phone buzzes in his pocket, distracting us both, and he switches it off without glancing to see who's calling. My breath hitches in my throat as my heart goes wild and butterflies begin to flutter in my stomach. I know where this is going.

"We're supposed to talk," I say softly, my voice breathy.

He takes a step toward me wearing his sexy seductive look.

"I know, Elizabeth, but I want you. Now. And I know that you want me. That's why you're here."

"I really did want to know," I whisper as a defense.

"Well, now that I gave you an answer, are you staying or going?"

My cheeks turn pink as he comes to a complete halt in front of me.

"I'm staying," I murmur, staring anxiously up at the Swede.

"Oh, I hope so." He gazes down at me. "You were so mad at me," he breathes, his accent husky.

"Yes...I was."

"No one but my family has ever been mad at me. I like it."

Reaching up, he runs the tips of his fingers down my cheek and across my lower lip. Oh my. We're supposed to be talking, but my heart is pounding like crazy, my blood singing as it courses through my body, and desire pooling low in my belly. Felix bends and runs his nose along my bare shoulder and up to the base of my ear.

"We need to talk," I whisper.

"There will be a time for talking later."

"But there's so much more that I want to say."

"Me, too," he says.

He plants a soft kiss under my earlobe and his fingers slip into my hair. Pulling my head back, he exposes my throat to his lips. His teeth skim my chin, and he kisses my throat.

"I want you, Elizabeth," he breathes huskily.

I close my eyes and moan softly.

"Are you bleeding?" He continues to kiss me.

Holy crap. Does nothing slip by him?

"Yes," I whisper, embarrassed as my cheeks heat up.

"Are you having cramps or any discomfort?"

"No." I flush. Jeez...

He stops kissing me and looks down at me.

"Did you take your pill?"

"Yes."

Felix smiles. "Good. Let's go have a bath."

Oh?

He takes me by the hand and leads me into the bedroom. It's dominated by a four poster super king-sized bed with elaborate drapes. But we don't stop there. He leads me into the bathroom, which is two rooms, all turquoise and white limestone. It's huge. In the second room there's a sunken bath that looks big enough to fit six people with stone steps that leads into it, which is slowly filling with water. Steam rises gently above the foam, and I notice a stone bench that runs all the way around the bath. Jasmine scented candles flicker on the side. Wow...he's done all this while on the phone.

"Do you have a hair tie?" he asks.

I shake my head and from the pocket of his shorts, he produces a hair tie and hands it to me.

"Put your hair up," he order softly. I do as he asks.

It's warm and sultry beside the bath, and my sundress starts to stick. Felix leans over and shuts the water off. Leading me back into the first part of the bathroom, he stands behind me as we both face the full length mirror above the two sinks.

"Take your sandals off," he murmurs and oblige quickly, dropping them to the floor. "Turn around."

I do as I'm told, and bending down in front of me, he lifts my foot and begins to unwrap the ace bandage. Throwing the cloth bandage to the side, he runs his fingers along my ankle and I wince.

"Did that hurt?" he asks.

I nod and bite my lip as the throbbing pain continues.

"Elizabeth, your whole ankle is a bit swollen and all bruised." He gazes up at me.

I look down at my ankle. He's right - it is swollen and bruised with shades of blue and purple. Shit, I may need an ankle brace.

"We'll take care of this later," he says. "Turn around. Face the mirror."

I turn back around and face the mirror.

"Lift your arms," he breathes. I do as he says, and grasping the hem of the dress, he pulls it up and over my head so that I am standing topless in front of him in nothing but my panties.

"I'm going to have you in the bathroom, Elizabeth."

Leaning down, he kisses my neck and it sends a shiver down my spine. Hooking his thumbs into my panties, he slowly slides them down my legs, sinking down behind me as he pulls them down around my ankles.

"Step out of your panties. Carefully."

Grasping the edge of the sink, I do just that. I am now naked as I stare at myself in the mirror, and he's kneeling behind me. He kisses and then softly bites my behind, taking me by surprise so that I gasp. He stands and gazes at me in the mirror. I try hard to stay standing still, ignoring my natural self-consciousness to cover myself. I want to look away but I know Felix won't like that. He places both of his hands across my belly.

"Look at you. You are so beautiful," he murmurs. "See how you feel." He clasps both of my hands in his, his palms against the back of my hands with his fingers in between mine so that my fingers are spread apart. He places my hands on my belly. "See how your skin is so pale and flawless? Feel how soft and smooth it is." His Swedish accent is soft and low. He moves my hands in a slow circle around my belly and then upward toward my breasts. "Feel how full your breasts are." He holds my hands and places them over my breasts, which are tender from my menstruation. He gently strokes my nipples with his thumbs over and over.

I close my eyes and moan between parted lips, and I arch my back so my breasts fill my palms. Felix continues to gently squeeze my nipples between our thumbs, pulling gently so that they elongate further. I watch in utter fascination at the young woman writhing with pleasure in front of me. Oh my, this feels so good. I groan and close my eyes, no longer wanting to see that lustful woman in the mirror falling apart under her own hands...his hands...feeling my skin as he would, and experiencing how arousing it is - just his warm touch and his calm, soft commands.

"That's right, baby," he murmurs, his accent husky.

Felix guides my hands down each side of my body, past my waist, to my hips, and across my pubic hair. He slides his leg in between mine, pushing my feet farther apart to widen my stance. He runs my hands over my sex, one hand at a time. I look like a marionette and he is the puppet master.

"Look at how much your body glows, Elizabeth," he whispers softly as he trails kisses and soft bites along my shoulder.

I groan and suddenly he let's go of my hands.

"Carry on," he orders, and he stands back to watch me.

I rub myself as Felix gazes at me at me in the mirror with bright blue eyes. No. I want him to do this. It doesn't feel the same. I'm lost without his touch. He pulls his shirt over his head and quickly takes off his shorts and boxer briefs. He stands naked behind me, watching me as my hands continue to slowly circle around my stomach, to each of my breasts, and my hips. Jeez, I look so gawky and dorky touching myself like this. I stop and he smiles.

"Keep going," he says.

"I'd rather you do it, sir," I say.

Wrapping his arms around me once more, he takes my hands and continues the sensual caress across my sex, and over my clitoris. I can feel his erection pressing against me. Oh, soon...please. He bites the nape of my neck, and I close my eyes, enjoying the sweet sensations running through my body. He stops abruptly and spins me around, holding both of my wrists with one hand, imprisoning my hands behind my back, and pulling at my ponytail with his other hand. I am flush against him as his lips crash against mine, and he kisses me wildly, ravaging my mouth with his.

"When did your period start, Elizabeth?" he asks out of the blue.

"Yesterday night," I mumble in my highly aroused state.

"Good."

He releases me and bending down in front of me, he reaches between my legs and pulls on the blue string. Whoa, what?! He gently takes my tampon out and tosses it into the nearby toilet. Holy fuck. I can't believe he just did that. Standing back up, he backs me up against the tiled wall. The tile is cool against my naked back and behind which sends a shiver down my spine.

"Wrap your legs around me," Felix says as he lifts my hips.

I do as he says, and then he's inside of me, filling me. I rest my arms on his shoulders as he sets a punishing rhythm - up, down. I close my eyes, enjoying the sensations and listening to Felix's harsh breathing at my neck. The bathroom is even more steamier and a sheen of sweat gathers over me as Felix thrusts on and on, our bodies moving together. Oh my. I feel myself begin to quicken, my legs stiffening.

"That's right, baby," he breathes, his accent raspy and breathless as he continues the rhythm, and his Swedish accent is enough to send me flying over the edge.

Wow...and I come, loudly. I tip my head back and call out his name as my orgasm consumes me. Felix follows with one final thrust, clasping my hips tightly as he climaxes and calls out my name like it's a prayer.

"Oh, sweet, Elizabeth!" His breathing is ragged in my ear, matching mine. "Oh, baby, will I ever get enough of you?" he whispers. He kisses me deeply, his breathing still harsh.

We sink slowly down to the floor, and he wraps his arms around me, imprisoning me. Is it always going to be like this? This is so overwhelming, so all-consuming, so bewildering and beguiling. I wanted to talk, but now I'm spent and dazed from his lovemaking and wondering if I will ever get enough of him?

I lay curled up on his lap, my head resting against his chest, as we both bask in the afterglow of our passionate love making. Very discreetly, I inhale his sweet, intoxicating Felix scent. Do not nuzzle him. Do not nuzzle him. I repeat the mantra over and over again in my head, even though I am tempted to do so. I want to lift my hand and draw patterns in his chest hair with my fingertips...but I resist, knowing that he'll hate it if I do. We both remain quiet, lost in our own thoughts as I listen to the beating of his heart and feeling the rise and fall of his chest as he breathes in and out. I am lost in this beautiful Swedish man...lost to him.

Then I remember that I'm having my period.

"I'm bleeding," I murmur.

"I'm used to it," he breathes. "I've been with tons of woman while they were on there period and I've even eaten them down there during menstruation, so it doesn't bother me.

Holy crap...he's such a kinky bastard.

"Why, does it bother you?" he asks softly.

Does it bother me? Maybe it should...should it? Lifting my head, I look down at him, and he gazes up at me, his eyes a soft cloudy blue.

"I don't know," I say. "The part about eating me down there while I'm bleeding doesn't sound very good. But, if I doesn't bother you, then it doesn't bother me."

Felix smirks. "Good. Let's have a bath."

He uncurls himself from around me, placing me on the floor as he stands up. As he does, I notice again the small, round scars on his chest. They look like the same ones that I've seen on his lower back and shoulder blades. They can't be chicken pox, I muse absentmindedly. Holy shit...they must be burns. Burns from what? I blanch at the realization as shock and revulsion course through me. Are they from cigarettes? Mrs. Andreassen, his birth mother, who? Who did this to this poor, damaged and beautiful Swedish man. Maybe there's a reasonable explanation, and that I'm only overacting. Oh, I hope I'm wrong about them being cigarette burns.

"What is it? What's wrong?" Felix's face is wide-eyed with alarm at my wide-eyed expression.

"Your scars," I whisper. "They can't be from chicken pox."

I watch as in a split second he closes down, his mood changing from relaxed and calm to defensive and angry. He frowns, his face darkening, and his mouth presses into a thin, hard line.

"No, they're not," he snaps angrily, but he doesn't elaborate any further.

Bending down, he holds out his hand, and hauls me to my feet so fast that I wince from the throbbing in my ankle.

"Don't look at me like that." The tone of his accent is colder and scolding as he releases my hand.

I flush, and stare down at my fingers, and I know that someone must have stubbed cigarettes out on Felix. I feel sick.

"Did she do that to you?" I whisper before I'm able to stop myself.

Felix says nothing, and I look up at him. He's glaring at me.

"She? Mrs. Andreassen? She's not some kind of animal, Elizabeth. Of course she didn't. I really don't understand why you feel the need to demonize her."

He's standing here before me, gloriously naked, with my blood on him...and we're finally having this conversation. And I'm naked, too. Neither of us have anywhere to hide, except perhaps the bathtub. Taking a deep breath, I move past him, and step down into the warm water. It is deliciously warm, deep and it helps soothe the throbbing in my ankle. I melt into the fragrant foam and gaze up at him, hiding among the bubbles.

"Sometimes I wonder what you would be like if you had never met her and been introduced to the BDSM lifestyle," I say softly.

He sighs and steps down into the bath opposite me, his jaw clenched with tension, his blue eyes frosty with slight anger. As he gracefully submerges his body beneath the water, he's careful not to touch me. Holy crap, have I made him that mad?

He stares at me impassively, his face unreadable as he says nothing and the awkward silence stretches between us. It's your turn, Kjellberg - I am not caving this time. My subconscious is standing still while nervously biting her nails. This could go either way. Felix and I stare at each other, but I am not backing down. Finally, after what feels like 100 years later, he shakes his head and smirks at me.

"If I hadn't met Mrs. Andreassen, I would have probably ended up with the lifestyle that my birth mother had."

Oh! I blink at him. A heroine addict?

"Rika loved me in a way that I found...acceptable," he says with a shrug.

What the hell does that mean?

"Acceptable?" I whisper.

He nods, staring at me intently. "She distracted me from the destructive path that I was following. You have to understand that it is very hard to grow up in a perfect family when you're not perfect.

Oh no. My mouth dries as I process his words. He gazes at me, his expression unfathomable. He's not going to tell me any more. This is so frustrating. On the inside, I'm reeling from all this information. He sounds so full of self-loathing. And Mrs. Andreassen actually loved him? Holy shit. Does she still love him? I feel like I've just been kicked in the stomach.

"Does she still love you?" I ask.

"I don't think so," he says. "Not like that, anyway." He frowns as if he hasn't thought about the idea. "I've told you again and again that this was a long time ago. It's in the past. I couldn't change it even if I wanted to, which I don't. She saved me from myself." He's exasperated and runs a wet hand through his blonde hair. "I've never discussed this with anyone." He pauses. "Except Dr. Kaplan. And the only reason I'm talking about this now, with you, is because I want you to trust me."

"Felix, I do trust you," I say. "I trust you very much. But I do want to know you better, and whenever I try to talk to you, you distract me. There's so much more I want to know."

"Oh, for Christ's sake, Elizabeth, what more do you want to know? What do I have to do?" His eyes blaze, and even though he doesn't raise his voice, I know he's trying to control his anger.

I look down at my hands, clear beneath the water as the bubbles have started to disappear.

"I'm just trying to understand and know you better. You're so mysterious. Unlike anyone that I've ever met before. I'm glad you're telling me what I want to know."

Jeez, maybe it's the Cosmo's making me brave, but suddenly I can't bear the distance between us. Very slowly, I move through the water until I am just a few inches of reaching distance from him. He tenses and eyes me warily, as if I might bite. My inner goddess gapes at me in surprise.

"Please don't be angry with me," I whisper, and very carefully, without touching him, I plant a soft kiss on his lips.

"I'm not angry with you, Elizabeth," he breathes. "I'm just not used to this kind of talking - this probing. I only have these kinds of conversations with Dr. Kaplan and with-" He stops and frowns.

"With her. Mrs. Andreassen. You have these conversations with her?" I prompt, trying to control my own temper.

"Yes, I do."

"What about?" I ask as I sit next to him.

Felix shifts in the bath so that he's facing me, which causes some of the water to slosh and lap over the sides and onto the floor. He places his arm around my shoulders.

"Persistent little thing, aren't you?" he murmurs, a trace of irritation in his voice. "We talk about life, the universe, business. Elizabeth, Mrs. A and I go way back. We talk about anything."

"Do you talk about me?" I whisper.

"Yes." Blue eyes watch me carefully.

I bite my bottom lip as I try to curb the sudden rush of anger that surfaces.

"Why do you talk about me?" I try not to sound whiney and childish, but I don't succeed. Maybe I should stop. I am pushing him too hard. My subconscious has her Munch's Scream face on again.

"I talk about how amazing you are. I've never met anyone like you, Elizabeth."

"And what is that supposed to mean?" I ask. "Anyone who just didn't automatically sign your paperwork, then you jump there bones, with no questions asked?"

He shakes his head. "I need advice."

"Oh, and so you take advice from Mrs. Pedo?" I snap. The hold on my temper is more tentative than I thought.

"Elizabeth Callahan, that is enough!" he snaps sternly, his eyes narrowing. "You better watch what you say because I will put you across my knee. I have no sexual or romantic interest in her at all. She's a dear, valued friend and a business partner. That's all. We have a past, a shared history, which was monumentally beneficial for me, even though it fucked up her marriage - but that side of our relationship is done and over."

Jeez, another part I just can't understand. And she was married as well. How the hell did they get away with it for so long?

"And Sabine and Christofer never found out?"

"No," he growls. "I've told you this already."

And I know that's it. I can't ask him anymore questions about her because he will really lose it with me.

"Are you done now?" he snaps, glaring at me.

"For now."

Felix takes a deep breath and visibly relaxes, as if some great weight has just been lifted off his shoulders.

"Right - my turn," he mutters, and his glare turns bright. "You never responded to my last e-mail."

I flush. Oh damn, I hate it when the spotlight is on me. I shake my head. Perhaps that's how he feels when I ask him questions; he's not used to being challenged. The thought is a little distracting.

"Well, I was going to respond, but now you're here."

"You'd rather I wasn't here?" he breathes, his expression impassive again.

"No, I'm pleased that your here," I murmur.

"Good." He gives me his genuine, PewDiePie smile. "I'm pleased I'm here, too - in spite of all your interrogation. So, while it's acceptable to grill me with all kinds of questions, you think you can claim some kind of diplomatic immunity just because I've flown all this way just to see you? I'm not buying it, Miss Callahan. I want to know how you really feel."

Oh no...

"I just told you. I am very pleased that you're here. Thank you for coming all this way," I say feebly.

"It's my pleasure." His blue eyes shine as he leans down and kisses me gently.

I feel myself responding automatically. The water is still very warm, the bathroom still steamy. He stops and pulls back to gaze at me.

"No, I think I want some answers first before we do any more."

More? There's that word again. What does he want answers to? I don't have a secret past or a terrible childhood. What does he possibly want to know about me that he doesn't already know?

I sigh, resigned. "What do you want to know?"

"Well for starters, I want to know how you feel about our arrangement."

I blink at him, unsure of what to tell him. I guess it's truth or dare time. My subconscious and inner goddess both glance nervously at each other. What the hell, let's go for the truth.

"I don't think I can do it for an extended period of time. A whole weekend being someone I'm not." I flush and stare down at my hands.

Felix tips my chin up so that I am forced to look at him. He's smirking at me, amused.

"Yeah, I agree, I don't think you could do that, either."

Part of me feels slightly offended and challenged. "Are you laughing at me, Mr. Kjellberg."

"Yes, but in a good way," he says with a small smile.

He leans down and kisses me softly.

"You're not a very good submissive," he breathes as he holds my chin, his blue eyes dancing with humor.

I gasp at his words, feigning hurt, and then I burst out laughing. He joins me and once again I catch a glimpse of the rare and carefree PewDiePie.

"Yeah, I know I'm not a great submissive. Maybe that's because I don't have a good teacher."

He snorts. "Maybe. Perhaps I should be more strict with you." He cocks his head to one side and gives me an artful smile.

I swallow nervously. Jeez, no. But at the same time, the muscles deep in my belly clench with need. He stares at me, gauging my reaction.

"Was it bad when I spanked you for the first time?"

I gaze at him. Was it bad? I remember feeling confused by my reaction. I did hurt, but he told me over and over again that the pain was more in my head. And the second time was actually pretty hot.

"No, not really," I whisper. "The second time you spanked me was actually pretty hot."

"You actually liked it?" he asks as he raises his eyebrows.

I blush. "Yeah."

"I remember feeling the same way. It takes a while to get your head around it."

Holy hell. This must have been when he was a kid.

"And you know you can always use the safeword, Elizabeth. Don't forget that. And, as long as you follow my rules, which fulfills a deep need in me for control and to keep you safe, then perhaps we can find a way forward."

"Why do you need to control me?" I ask.

"Because it satisfies a need in me that wasn't met in my formative years."

"So it's like a form of therapy."

"I've never really thought of it like that, but yes, I suppose it is."

Now this I can understand.

"But, here's the thing that I don't understand," I say. "One moment you say "don't defy me," and the next thing you say is you like to be challenged. That's a very fine line to tread successfully."

Felix gazes at me for a moment, and then frowns.

"I can see that. But you seem to be doing just fine so far."

"But at what cost? I'm all tied up in knots here."

"I like you tied up in knots." He smirks.

"That's not what I meant, and you know it! Ugh, you are such a kinky bastard!" I splash him in exasperation.

He gazes at me, arching an eyebrow.

"Did you just splash me?"

"You know it." Holy shit...that look.

"Oh, Miss Callahan." Felix grabs me and pulls me onto his lap, splashing water all over the floor. "I think were done talking for now."

He places his hands on either side of my head and kisses me deeply, possessing my mouth with his. I moan against his lips. This is what he likes. This is what he's so good at. Everything ignites inside of me and my fingers are in his unruly blonde hair, holding him to me, and I'm kissing him back with just as much passion. Felix groans, shifting me so I'm astride him, kneeling over him, his erection beneath me. He pulls back and gazes at me, his eyes bright and wide, glowing with lust. I drop my hands to hold onto the edge of the bath, but he grabs both of my wrists and pulls my hands behind my back.

"I'm going to take you again, Elizabeth," he whispers, and he lifts me so that I am hovering over him. "Are you ready, baby?" he breathes.

"Yes," I whisper, and he eases me on to him slowly...filling me...watching me as he takes me.

I moan, closing my eyes, and reveling in the sensation. He flexes his hips, and I gasp. Leaning forward, I rest my forehead against his.

"Please, sir, let go of my hands," I whisper.

"Don't touch me," Felix pleads, and releasing my wrists, he grabs hold of my hips.

Holding onto the edge of the bath, I move up and then down slowly. I open my eyes to gaze at the Swedish man. He's watching me, his mouth open, his breathing halted. He looks so...beautiful. I lean down and kiss him. He closes his eyes. I bring my hands up to his head and runs my fingers through his blonde hair. This is allowed. He likes this and I like this. We move together, never breaking contact with our kiss. I tug his hair, tipping his head back and deepening the kiss, riding him - faster, picking up the rhythm. I moan against his mouth as he picks up the pace. We are wet mouths and tongues, tangled hair, and moving hips. The sensation begins to consume me. I am close...I am beginning to recognize this delicious tightening...quickening. And the water swirling around us is like our own whirlpool, a stirring vortex as our movements become more frantic...sloshing everywhere and mirroring what's happening inside of me...and I just don't care.

I love this beautiful, sexy Swedish man. I love his passion, and the effect that I have on him. I love that he's flown all this way just to see me. I love that he cares about me. It's so unexpected and so fulfilling. This man is mine, and I am his.

"That's right, baby," he breathes, his accent low and husky.

And at the sound of his voice, I come, my orgasm ripping through me like a turbulent, passionate apogee that devours me whole. And suddenly, Felix wraps his arms around my back, crushing me against him as he finds his release.

"Elizabeth, baby!" he cries out, and it's a wild passionate plea as it touches the depths of my very soul.


Felix and I lay side by side, staring at each other, blue to blue, face to face, in the super king sized bed, both hugging our pillows on our fronts. Naked. Not touching. Just looking and admiring.

"Do you want to go to sleep?" Felix asks, his accent soft and full of concern.

"No. I'm not tired." Strangely, I feel very energized. It feels so good to talk to him and I don't want to stop.

"What do you want to do?" he asks.

"Talk."

He smiles, his blue eyes sparkling. "About what?"

"Stuff."

"What kind of stuff?" he asks.

I think for a moment.

"What is your favorite movie?"

He grins. "Ever heard of A Clockwork Orange?"

"Yes. It's such a strange movie."

Felix chuckles.

"So, am I number eighteen?"

He frowns as if he doesn't understand my question.

"Eighteen?"

"You know, the number of women that you've, um...had sex with."

His lips quirk up.

"Not exactly."

"On our first night, you said seventeen." My confusion is obvious.

"Oh." He laughs. "No, I was referring to the number of women in my playroom. I thought that's what you meant. You never asked me how many women I've had sex with."

Holy shit, there's more? How many? I gape at him.

"Vanilla?"

"No. You are my one vanilla relationship." He shakes his head, still grinning at me.

Why is he finding this so funny? And why am I grinning back at him like a lunatic?

"I can't give you an exact number. I didn't scratch tally marks into the bedpost or anything."

"So are we talking tens, hundreds...thousands?" My eyes grow wider as the numbers get bigger.

"Twenty," he says.

I gape at him. "Twenty submissives?"

"Yes."

"Your quite the ladies man, aren't you? And stop grinning at me," I scold him mildly, trying and failing to keep a straight face.

"I can't. You're too funny.

He leans across and kisses the corner of my mouth. "This will shock you, Elizabeth. Are you ready?"

I nod, wide-eyed, with the stupid grin still on my face.

"They were all trained submissives. I was even trained when I left Chalmers University in 2005. There are places in Sweden where one can go practice and learn to do what I do."

What?

"Oh." I blink at him.

"Yep, so I have paid for sex."

"That's nothing to be proud of," I mutter. "And you're right. I am shocked. I'm just amazed that I can never shock you."

"You wore my underwear."

I smirk at him. "Did that shock you?"

"Well yeah, of course it did."

Ha! My inner goddess cartwheels around the room.

"You weren't wearing your panties when you met my family."

"That's only because you took them from me," I say. "Why, did that shock you, too?"

He laughs. "Yeah."

"So I guess it seems I can only shock you in the underwear department."

"You told me you were a virgin. That was the biggest shocker I've ever had."

I giggle. "Yeah, and the look you had on your face was worth a Kodak moment."

"And you let me work you over with a riding crop."

"Did that shock you, too?"

"Yes."

I grin. "Well, I may even let you do it again."

"Oh, I really hope so, Miss Callahan. How about this weekend?"

I blush. "Okay," I agree shyly as my heart flutters with anticipation and excitement.

"Okay?"

"Yes, sir, I'll go into the Red Room of Pain again."

"You always say my name, too."

"That shocks you?" I ask.

"The fact that I like it shocks me."

"Felix Kjellberg."

He grins. "I want to do something tomorrow." His blue eyes glow with excitement.

"Like what?"

"A surprise. For you." His accent is low and soft.

I raise an eyebrow, stifling a yawn at the same time.

"Am I boring you, Miss Callahan?"

I smile. "Never."

He leans across and kisses me gently on my lips.

"Go to sleep, my beautiful girl," he commands, then switches off the bedside lamp.

And in this moment as I close my eyes, spent and sated in the afterglow of lovemaking with Felix, I feel like I'm in the eye of the storm. And in spite of all he's said, and what he hasn't said, I don't think I've ever been so happy in my entire life.