The Journal Entries

Noren, Hiss 03, 00519


"Mind if I sit here?" said a friendly and familiar voice.

"Hi!" I said, looking up to find Aaden standing opposite the table, tray in hand. "Yeah, yeah, sit down, sit down," I said. He scooted the chair back and sat, placing the tray on the table. "That's your lunch?" I asked. On the tray was a rather small salad.

"I'm watching my weight," he said, smiling. "So where's Lynn?"

"Said she had to see her medico. It's not like there was any agreed period. She just came up to me two days ago and said, 'On your knees.'"

"What was it like?"

"What was what like? Being topped by Lynn, or just being topped by a woman in general?"

"Both," he replied.

"Well, being topped by a woman I've only seen as an ELF before was pretty new, but it was harder, generally, to let myself by topped by a woman. And I'll tell you, with a strap she was brutal. I still can't sit down comfortably."

He laughed. "You were good last night."

"Was I?"

He nodded. I felt very comfortable sitting and eating lunch with Aaden, and that very comfort made me feel uncomfortable. Usually, Aaden and I are standing on opposing ends of an SM session. "Aaden, can I ask you a question?"

He thought for a second and said, "If I don't answer, will you be upset?"


"Then ask."

"Are you a top, a bottom, or switchable?"

"Bottom," he said, clearly.

"Just wondering. Even that one time in the Underground, you were taking orders from P'nyssa, weren't you?"

He nodded. "I don't know why you didn't notice that earlier." He glanced up and over my shoulder. "Hello," he said.

"Hi," said another familiar voice behind me. "Can I join, or are you two..." the question trailed off.

I turned around. "No, no," I said, finding Ally Kowling standing behind me. "Come on, sit down." She grabbed a third chair from the table to my right and turned it around. She had grabbed some sort of steak sandwich from the buffet. "How are you doing?" I asked.

She shrugged. "Okay, I guess?"

"Cedza leave?" I asked.

She nodded. "I don't know what I'm going to do now."

"Well, what do you want to do?"

She shrugged again. "Dunno. I-" She was broken off by a sudden high-pitched moan from Aaden. "Are you okay?" she asked.

"Huh?" he said, smiling. "Oh, yeah..."

"Aaden, what was that?"

He smiled and said, "Oh, it's a little something Borodir gave me."

"What is it?" I said in the voice I usually reserve for kids who've something hidden behind their backs.

"It's a cockring... just a little one."

"So what was that little scream you gave?"

"It's made of copper on top and zinc underneath..."

It took all of two seconds to remember my chemistry. "Are you saying you've got a galvanic cockring?"

"Sort of. The metals aren't enough, but Borodir shaved a small ring of fur from around my sex and when I sweat, a small capacitor set in the interim builds up a charge until..."

I shuddered, smiling. "That's looney."

His muzzle crested a little and he said, "I like it."

"Whatever," I said, trying not to laugh.

"I just realized," Ally said, interrupting us. "I don't have a napkin. Have either of you got one?"

"Not that isn't used," I replied. Aaden indicated the same.

"I'll be right back," she said, rising.

When she was gone, I looked back at Aaden, who said, "I can see it on your face. Go for it."

"Aaden, I can't do it! It doesn't make sense. Why should I top her, if only for one day? I know nothing about her."

"Well, then, this is the perfect place for it." He shuddered again.

"Will you stop that!" I said. "It looks like you've got a short in your biocybe." He laughed.

Ally returned a few moments later, two or three cloth napkins in hand. We ate for a while, enjoying the sunlight that fell on the upper dining hall in daylight, watching the birds fly by. Once I spotted a dragon, flying low and fast just to the spin of us. I pointed it out. Ally's reponse was less than heartening.

"Ally, you can't just mope all day," Aaden said.

"What do you know?" she said. "Cedza and I were this close for two years, living here, working out of here. Even when I was on assignment, he was with me, and we always came home to Rhysh. Now he's closed down his residency in town and left Rhysh, left me. He burned my contract last night, and I don't know what to do." A small tear appeared in one eye. I reached out to brush it away.

"Ally," I said quietly, fishing my notebook and pencil out of my jacket pocket, "Let me see if I can help you find someone. Not to replace Cedza- I know nothing will ever do that. But just someone to take your mind off of it. How do you like to be treated?"

She smiled and said, "I appreciate it, but-"

"No 'buts.' What do you like?"

She pursed her lips for a second and said, "Okay. I'm a quick submissive, so I don't want someone who's looking for a fight."

"Fair enough," I said, writing that down.

"I like to be tied. I like to be made to serve. And I especially like to be slapped."

"As in spanked?"

"No, slapped. Across the face. Open hand."

"How hard?" I asked.

"As hard as you can manage," she said.

"Aren't you afraid of losing a few teeth?" Aaden asked.

"Not anymore," she said with a smile. The implications of that statement chilled me. I was suddenly thinking that this might be a bad idea; I doubted I had the resolution to hit a woman across the face with that much force.

I decided to keep going anyway. "What about... watersports? Blood?"

She made a face. "No, and no. A little blood during a whipping's okay- I've done that lots of times. But not as a goal."

"Then I assume no piercing of either kind."

She thought for a second. "I've always wanted my ears decorated. I've been told you're good at that." Ally's ears are beautiful, large, and feline, which is not the norm for Satryls- their ears are more human than feline. Actually, Ally's ears are big even for a Felinzi. But they are in good proportion to her hair, which is usually teased out to the point of being a mane. In any event, they're quite a good job of constructive surgery.

"Minimal," I replied. "Three piercings, and I got lucky. And why are you assuming I'm going to be the one doing it? This isn't for me; we're trying to find someone good for you. Besides, you're not my type."

"What is your type?" she asked, mischeviously.

"Fem. About 160 cents, slightly overweight. You're nearly tall as I am, and as far as I know, I've never gone for hardbodies. And you, Ally, are serious hardbody."

She laughed. "That's true." And she is. 180 cents, small- waisted, and not an ounce of fat on her. Muscles so well defined there's just a hint of blood vessel showing on her tanned and oiled skin. She is, quite simply, a work of very personal art. The art of bodybuilding.

"So," I said, "what else?"

"Well, my safeword at the time was 'Rhino.'"

"And you want to keep it?"

"Oh, yeah. I'll never remember a new one if a top gives me one. My memory is lousy."

"How many times have you called safeword?"

"Twice. Both times for broken teeth." The sensation that I was in far over my head crawled up on me again. I tried to send it away.

"Anything else?" I asked.

"Not really."

"Not really?" I asked. "What about, oh, group scenes, orgasm, fisting, theatre. There's a lot we haven't gone over."

She shrugged. "Well, orgasm's not really important to me. I just like to be a good bottom. Group scenes are okay, I guess."

"But no enthusiasm."

"Not really," she said. "I've done fisting, it's not for me. Theatre's great, though. I LOVE the scene last night with Grell and Debard."

"Hmm... That sort of scene would require some setup, I imagine. But you like the extreme whipping?" She nodded.

I tapped my pencil lightly on the table and said, "Well, there's only more thing I can think of."

A few seconds passed before Ally realized it was her turn to say something. "What's that?"

"Why aren't you at my feet like a good little girl?"

Her eyes lit up, a big smile crossing her face. She nearly lunged across the table at me, hugging me close, her head against my chest as she slowly fell to her knees, kissing the cloth of my shirt and jeans as she worked her way down to my boots. She stopped there, kneeling. "Come a little closer," I said. She crawled forward a few cents, and I said, "Right there." From my chair I reached a hand down under her throat and held her there.

A friend once told me that you can tell everything about a bottom just by grabbing them by the throat. I am in no way a psionic, but I have to agree. With my hand open just below her jaw I could feel every emotion shooting through her, and I could also tell other things, like where she was looking. All that by the tiny tensings of nervousness in her throat. I looked down at her, taking my hand from her throat to stroke her enourmous crown of hair, then returning to her throat. "You know," I said to Aaden, "Lynn's right. One does acquire some wonderful toys in Rhysh." I picked up my pencil with my left hand and awkwardly wrote on the open page, "Hang around. I may need to talk to you." I passed it to him. He read the message and nodded.

We sat in the silent sunlight for a while, waiting for a thought to come that would carry one of us to action. I looked up at Aaden, who gave me a quizzical look before clamping his eyes shut and shaking again. I sighed. He's incorrigible. And as we sat, I began to wonder just what in Hell I was going to do next. "What do you think we should do now?"

"Well," Aaden offered, "Do what you did with Kathy."

"This is not what I had in mind," Aaden said. I offered him mustard and he shook his head. Putting some on my hot dog, I handed it back to the vendor, who proceeded down the rickety steps of the stand.

"What's wrong with baseball?" I asked.

"I've played it. In fact, I've even played on this field. It is not my favorite game."

I smiled and took a bite. "Well, it'll keep Ally's mind off of Cedza for a few hours, it'll be good exercise, and I have other reasons for bringing you here."

"Such as?"

"I need to talk to you. I don't think I'm cut out for this."

"What's wrong? I saw your face when she talked about slapping, but other than that, what can't you handle?"

"Aaden, you're a bottom. So am I. I've only topped once in my entire life, and that was a matter of inexperience on both sides. A little light bondage, a little spanking, that sort of thing. As a bottom, I've taken whippings that seem to go on forever, and I've certainly been a spectator at more than one dungeon.

"But, Ally down there is a bottom that in some respects is better at it than I am. I mean, she never wears long pants, yet she didn't even give me a second look when I told her I was putting her in for a quick game of slave baseball, and didn't argue when I ordered her to put on jeans. And I know she hates them."

"So?" Aaden asked.

"So, where do I take a woman like that?"

"I think it's more important you ask yourself why you're in this predicament. Why did you start this?"

"Because I wanted to take her mind off Cedza, if only for a little while."

"And you've done a good job. There she is, out in left field, waiting for the ball, doing everything in her power to help the team win, because it's what you want. She's doing it because you told her to, and it is her strongest wish to fulfill your desires." I looked out across the sunlit field to where she knelt, hands on knees, looking magnificent.

A quick look around the diamond told me a lot. Slaves, especially ones that have no permanent masters, need constant attention. Physical sports, especially competitive efforts such as these, provide plenty of constant activity, distraction, and excuses later for punishments. And some of the people out there were in Rhysh strictly for the exercise. It sounds strange, but quite a number of people come to Rhysh because they haven't got the will power to exercise on their own. So they come to Rhysh and enter the Physical program, which is more like a boot camp and less like lovemaking.

I doubted many of the people on the field today were in that category. All 18 of them were magnificent representative of their respective species. The three Centaurs playing outfield were dusty, of course, but baseball is a dusty game. But they were all handsome, broad-chested, muscular. The Uncia at first base had seen better grooming, but she likewise was beautiful.

The teams switched sides, Ally up to the plate. Good. I got to watch. The pitcher, a Mephit, threw a nasty curveball and Ally took a swing. The Tindal umpire called strike. Ally snarled.

I watched her take a few practice swings, ears twitching, her firm muscle showing clearly through the tight jeans. I'd forced her to wear them; I didn't want her getting and cuts or scrapes if she had to dive or slide into a base.

The second pitch came and Ally swung, connecting with a solid crack that sent the ball skidding along the ground toward left field. She began running. The outfielders ran for it, the Satryl leftfield scooping it in his glove and pitching it toward second base. Ally held at first.

I smiled. "She's magnificent, isn't she?" I asked.

Aaden smiled in response. "I guess so. I'm not into women, you keep forgetting."

"I don't forget."

He looked at me quizzically. "I know your opinions on strict heterosexuals or homosexuals, Ken, but I'll let you know, I have never, ever met a fem who scares me as much or turns me on as much as a mel."

I shrugged. "Doesn't mean I can't ask the obvious." He laughed, then shuddered again. I chuckled as his eyes fluttered. "Anyway, the question is, what do I do now?"

"Well, you can't frighten her. You can, especially since you're an unknown to her, but it's not likely to be advantageous. You're biggest problem is you're afraid of breaking her. Plus, as Vatare', much as I hate to say it, you've got some things to live up to."

I nodded. He pointed out towards the field, where Ally had managed to steal second. "Look at her. She probably weighs more than you do. She's fast and she's strong. I don't think you have anything to worry about. I'd recommend going with the basic 'the bottom is never right' routine."

"One other thing. Aaden, Katherine is almost famous around here because very few woman ever get branded, and none of them have the 'eldar' symbol except her. She's also one of the few people who can, with clarity, explain the dichotomy between SM and the discipline of the Fleet or Military mind. But aside from that, I'm looking at Ally's ears from here, and a lot of things are bothering me." There was a pause. "In the years she was with Cedza, she never once had her ears, or any other part of her, pierced. Her ears are obviously one of her most treasured possessions... that radical a shape change is a lot of painful effort. She almost as much as told me 'I want you to pierce my ears.'"

He shrugged. "That bothered me too. If she didn't want Cedza to do it, why you?"

I nodded. Neither of us could suggest an answer, so we sat in silence. The game progressed. It was a good way to pass the time, out in the hot sun, with a grassy field and greasy food. The people in the stands were mostly Rhysh "nobles" out for a day. I was intrigued by one couple in the corner who looked completely out of place. Two young fems, both Felinzi, almost too busy cuddling each other to pay attention to the game.

I pointed them out to Aaden. "Oh, that's M'liin and T'farahn. They just like baseball. They're not into SM at all. But they do write the 'Sportslave Review' for the Rhysh newsie. I think they may beg you to put Ally in the game more often. She's clearly a hit."

I smiled.

Ally emerged from the shower shaking a large towel through her huge mane, a big smile on her face. I think she was only slightly surprised as I slipped my arm around her body and grabbed ahold of her throat lightly. "Hello, Ally," I said.

"Hello, Sir," she said compliantly. I smiled.

"Don't dress," I said. "Take care of your hair and join me outside. I want you to look proper for tonight." I felt a small thrill run through her body.

"Sir?" she asked quietly.

"You want to ask something? Say it quickly."

"Did I do good out there?" There was something plaintive in her voice. I had trouble connecting her voice with her body. They didn't seem to fit.

"We'll discuss it." I released her. She quickly brushed her hair out of the way. She looked wonderful, her tan and muscular body providing a wonderful contrast to her sun-blonde hair.

The fur of her lower body, all the way down to her digitgrade toes, was also an all-over light yellow, and if it hadn't been for the Satryl shape of her legs and feet she could have almost passed completely for a human in the nude. As it was, the feline heft of her legs and ankles was very clear, especially since it gave that distinct Satryl gait.

She walked over to me, eyes down, and said "I'm ready"

"Ready, WHAT?" I asked.

"Ready, sir," she said in a very quiet voice. I'd heard that voice before. Hell, I've used that voice before. It's the "I've just done something I'm going to get whipped for," voice. Except that more often than not, the small act of disobedience is deliberate.

"Come," I said. "Dinner awaits us."

I decided to dine alone tonight, in quarters I had arranged with Lynn quite a number of years ago. I led her through the twisting corridors of the Castle to those quarters, opening the door and directing her in front of me. "Stand over there," I said, indicating a spot on the far wall that was hung with a tapestry. In front of the tapestry, almost flush with it, was a wooden frame, clearly set with restraints. The bottom of the frame was wide enough to stand on. I directed Ally towards it. "Hands and feet to the corners," I said.

She complied, and I quickly wrapped the restraints around her forearms and ankles. The upper restraints did indeed encompass the entire forearm, and with good reason- this provided for support in case she fell asleep, which would happen if I chose to leave her there all night. I hadn't decided yet. I would also put a waist belt on her later if I so chose.

The tapestry immediately behind her had been rendered with the frame in mind. To the left and right of her Dragons soared, breathing fires which curled up behind her and gave her wings of her own, wings of flame. I smiled at the image. "Rowan, can you get a twodee photographer in here?" I asked the ceiling.

"Of course," The AI replied. "And I assume you would like you dinner served in here, as well?"

"Yes, that would be excellent. But I would like the first, first, so as not to interfere with the second." I waited. Ally looked around the room, her eyes bright and beautiful. The photographer came, a small tindal who said, "Sir" a lot. I smiled as he carefully clipped UHD photos of Ally and then left. The second person to interrupt my visual stimulation was a young femGerion, who had come with a cart and my dinner. I took the cart and dismissed her.

Before I ate, though, thoughts I had had while the photographer was here came back to me, and I decided to indulge. She was held up against the wall, and I know this annoys bound Felinzi, but would what I had planned have the same effect on Ally? How real were those ears?

I reached up and gently touched the hairs running up the outside of her left ear. It flicked. I touched again. It flicked again, with annoyance. I smiled, teasing her, tickling and itching her hair. "What's the design, girl? Where did you get such perfect ears?"

She looked up at me with frustrated eyes. "They're exaggerated Felinzi ears with a Markal nerve spread."

"Markal, eh?" I asked, tickling her. She began to toss her head back and forth. I finally relented. I was hungry.

I wheeled the cart close to Ally and removed the slivered cover. The smell of fresh-cooked venison roiled over both her and I as I sat down to eat, taking my time, carefully disciplining myself to avoid rushing things. I had all night, and the last thing I wanted was to be done long before I was tired. I had decided against an all-night hanging, although she was certainly the loveliest decoration in the room.

After I was done with my meal, I pushed the cart to the side, thinking that I didn't have the strength to go through with this. "Slave," I said.

She looked up at me. Her body, taut and sexy, strained slightly against the restraints. Her blond hair, forced out from behind her, fell down her sides. She had small, almost perfectly rounded breasts, and I resisted the urge to touch them as I reached out run my fingers through her hair. "You did poorly at the game today, girl. True, your team won," I said, placing a finger on my chin, "and I suppose that counts for something. But you yourself did poorly. Of your five times at bat, only twice did you hit the ball. And as a shortstop, you were pretty ineffective."

She started to protest. I slapped her across the face. She stopped. "Shh... " I said. She sighed gently, a small smile playing on her lips.

I stepped back and sat back down on my chair, the cart no longer in front of it. I reached to my left and under the cloth covering the cart, retreiving my dessert- a cherry popcicle. She watched me as I sat, idly sucking on my frozen phallic substitute. "It was hot today, wasn't it?" I asked rhetorically. "I'm sure you were hot out there, and it's rather warm in here too, isn't it?" I stood and approached her, weapon in hand. "What shall we do to cool you down, Ally?" I asked as I threatened her with the popcicle. She moaned as I touched her nipple with it. Her nipple hardened almost instantly, her tiny areola crinkling. I smiled as I left a small trail of melted cherry-flavored sugar-water across her chest, sliding towards her other nipple. She moaned. The liquid ran in small streams down her body, becoming imbedded in the fine fur of her Satryl hips, and I followed it down with my chilly weapon. The skin of her belly was cut across in a clean line by the fur of her lower half just above her mons veneris, and I pulled the popsicle away just as I ran it over her belly button.

She groaned, fighting against the restraints. Despite my preference for softer, more 'feminine' women, I was suddenly aware of just how sexy Ally was, just how ideal a bottom she was. Watching that body flex and fight against the bondage gave me an erection I'm glad the pants I wore hid.

"What needs cooling off, Ally? Are you hot, Ally?" I asked as I slid the popsicle lightly against her pubic region. She had kept the fur there well-trimmed and very light, and I knew that it would take almost no pressure for me to be pressing the ice against her skin and not just her fur. She moaned.

"Sounds like you are," I said, sliding the popsicle further against her, her inner lips spreading apart under its influence. They also seemed to get smaller. I smiled.

Eagle-spread as she was, her head was actually below mine, and I bent down just a little so that we were even and kissed her. Her response was desperate, hot and intense, and became even more so as I slid the tip of the popsicle into her. She gave a keening a little scream.

I chuckled gently, stroking back and forth with the popsicle slowly. It shrank, the sugary fluid and her own juices running down it, and my hand. I took it out and licked it off, savoring the taste. My hand, also wet, I offered to Ally, who quickly cleaned it off, her eyes closed as she did. I don't think she even noticed as I reached into my pocket for the little clothespin, which I attached to her bicep.

She let out a little moan and her eyes opened. "You recognize that, I take it?" I said.

She nodded. "Have you ever been clothespinned, Ally?" She shook her head. "But you know what it can do?" She nodded.

"Good," I said. These were actually very small clothespins, the kind that are usually used to hold up papers and notes and greeting cards, not clothing or heavy objects. One was almost unnoticeable.

But clothespins are funny objects. They hurt more to remove than to leave on, and the effect is cumulative. Even the tiny and gentle ones I like to use (and have used on me) are wonderful when applied by the hundreds.

I was debating with myself if I wanted to work with a plan or haphazardly. Both plans have their advantages. I decided to go with a plan, attaching the second one next to the first. Ally watched with detachment. I could almost see in her mind the phrase "This isn't so bad." You just wait, I thought.

The third and fourth ones went on, closer to her armpit, and I began to apply them quickly, running them down and onto her belly, carfully avoiding her furline, because they would just slip on the fur and be ineffectual. Which sort of frustrated me, because thighs are a great place for clothespins.

It took nearly a hundred pins to run from one wrist to the other in a straight line, and by then she was squirming. I smiled. The night was a long time coming.

In slow, careful movement, I applied one to the underside of each breast, then began working my way around, first the left, then the right, finishing with fourteen each for the first circle. Then another circle of eight, then four, and finally one on each nipple.

I began adding the rest at random to her belly, arms, and neck. She began to make little whining noises, pulling at the restraints, as the pain built. I slapped her. "Hush," I said.

She didn't stop, but instead grew louder. I would have thought it impossible, but I could have sworn I heard the frame creak. I slapped her again, and moaned. "Please," she begged me. To stop or go on, I have no idea, but I decided it meant more. I slapped her again, this time a little harder.

I applied a few more pins, her squirming increased. She began to pant and I began to worry. But I kept a smile on my face as I added yet more pins.

I stepped back to watch her writhe. Her eyes were closed as I reached forward for the first one I had applied under her breast, the little red one, and pulled it free. A little scream escaped her.

I can't explain why I felt reassured by that scream, but I did. With each pull, another clip fell to the ground, leaving behind it a little white patch that filled with angry red quickly.

She finally gave up the silent routine, screaming wholeheartedly as each clip flew free. I left the two on her nipples for a while and asked "Promise to try harder next time?"

"Yes sir," she said, plaintive. Tears were running down her face. For the first time I noticed the fine fur that crept ever so slightly down the back of her neck.

"Will you be a good girl if I free you?"

"Yes, sir, please sir," she said. I slapped her face, and she moaned.

"Good girl, but a simple 'yes sir' would have done." I tugged at the clothespins, distending her nipples as I did, and they let loose, flying free. Little peals came from her voice.

I freed both her feet first, then reached up to her left arm and with little flicks pushed free the small latches that held the restraint closed. She sagged as she came free and I let her lean against me as I freed the other hand. Small sobs came from her as she leaned against me, and I stroked her long hair. I finally decided that my best option was to carry her and gathered her into my arms. She wasn't that awkward to handle as I carried her to the bed and crawled onto it, settling down in such a way that she sat between my legs. "Easy, easy," I said. "It's over, Ally girl. You were such a good girl, you did so good today."

"Did I really, Master, did I really?"

"You did really good," I said. "I'm very proud of you."

"Thank you, oh thank you, thank you," she said, her voice muffled against my jacket. It suddenly occured to me that I was still fully dressed. I smiled at the thought. And I also knew that, come tomorrow, I wanted to talk again. With Ally.

"Master?" she said quietly, her voice still a little pained.

"Yes, little girl?" I said.

"Can I sleep with you tonight?"

I thought about it for a few seconds. "You can sleep on the bed, at the foot."

"Thank you sir, thank you."

I ordered her to attend to her needs in the bathroom, and while I waited I sat and thought about what we had just done. I realized I really needed someone to talk to tomorrow. Not now.

She came out and I went in, releived myself and undressed. I walked out into the bedroom to find her curled up at the foot of the bed, a blanket pulled up around her. She looked so adorable I said "Ally, you can sleep up with me."

She crawled out of bed to my feet and kissed them. "Thank you," she said with such profound honestly I was almost embarassed.

"Come," I said, holding the covers aside for her. She crawled up and over me, lying down next to me. She snuggled close, her arm over me, her head on my chest. The gesture was both protective and needful, and I felt good being there. I reached with my left hand and turned the light off.

The next day I arose early. Ally was curled up asleep next to me, sleeping soundly. As I opened the door to the shower I heard a voice behind me. "Master?"

She was kneeling on the floor. "Good morning, Ally."

"May I wash you?" she asked.

"Of course," I said, smiling. She rose and joined me in the shower. With a handful of soap she lathered my entire body completely, rubbing hard enough to provide a massage in some cases, especially when she did my hair. I love having my scalp rubbed like that.

I reciprocated, washing her, enjoying my first real chance to actually touch her, feel her body with my hands, stroke and touch her. She cooed softly as I washed her. She seemed to like having her head massaged too.

When I had dressed I handed her a black leather leotard and skirt. I also had a new pair of boots in the same color. I completed the image with a leather armband. She looked down at the armband with a small smile, and I said "Hate to say this, Ally, but it's time to come level."

She looked up at me and nodded, rising from the kneel she had been in. "I kinda figured."

"Howcome?" I asked.

She shrugged. "Lots of reasons, mostly because you're too busy too have a slave right now. Other things."

I nodded. "I'm sorry if it seems short. I really wanted to get your mind off-"

She interrupted me. "I know. You did good. I do not believe those little clips hurt so much."

"Trust me," I said. "They do."

"So, where for breakfast?" she asked.

"I was thinking, Parma."

"Let's do it." We left, arm in arm.

"So?" she asked around a mouthful of grapefruit.

"So what?" I asked.

"You've got a lot on your mind," she said.

"It's my turn to ask, 'did I do good?'"

She thought for a few seconds. "What you wanted to do, you did really well. I feel a lot better now, thanks to you. But you should probably put in some time with a trainer before you begin to top regularily. If you want."

"Not sure," I said. "I was terrified last night. Afraid of pushing you too far, afraid of missing a safeword, afraid of not doing enough. Dammit, being a dom isn't supposed to be that hard. It's supposed to be the fun job."

"But it isn't. You're really on the spot, Ken. Trust me, I know."

I nodded. "By the way, what did you mean when you said, 'I'd really like my ears decorated.'"

She swallowed and said, "I don't know why I said that. I'm afraid of needles, to the point of calling safeword almost. I don't know what I meant. I would like them decorated, but I keep thinking about how much it'll hurt."

I nodded. "Well, if you ever really want them decorated, I know of some good people."

She nodded. We chatted genially. All through the conversation my one major thought was that she really is beautiful.

When I got home, back to Rhysh, I had the photo of Ally posterized, framed, and permanently placed on my wall. Even the photograph takes my breath away.