He pivoted and walked out of the room, and she wished she'd left it alone. His kink was none of her business, and if it were a playroom, she couldn't imagine the painful memories that assaulted him when he ventured in. She twisted her wedding ring on the middle finger of her right hand, and questioned again whether she should give this job to another designer.
She took measurements and snapshots of the bathrooms, closets, and bedroom before following him. The second closet had been stripped—the walls still marked where the shelves, drawers, and bars had been. She'd given all of Garnet's clothes and shoes to his sister and had no idea where they'd gone from there. She wasn't sure she could live with an empty closet, much less an empty playroom, and her heart hurt for him.
When they finished the third floor she followed him down a circular staircase near the back of the house. Dana assumed the tour was over, but as they walked by the locked room, Zach pulled a key ring from his pocket, opened the door, and motioned her in.
She'd guessed correctly. Frederick did such beautiful work—she recognized one of his St. Andrew's Crosses in a corner, a bondage table in the middle of the room, two styles of spanking benches, a swing, and another of Frederick's beds—big enough for an orgy—tucked away in another corner. The walls were a muted peach, the wood a pickled blonde, and the leather padding a soft tawny gray. The hardwood floors were broken up by a variety of luxurious throw rugs scattered throughout the space in strategic places.
"This room was left open when we hosted play parties, or when we invited other couples.” He looked away, his gaze focused on something she couldn't see. “Bethany was a twenty-four/seven slave with no say in whether I took on short term slaves, or when I loaned her to trusted friends while they were here. I allowed her free rein in certain areas—she worked with the architect to conceive the house, and with designers and subcontractors to decorate it. I told her what I wanted in here and she found Frederick and made it happen; and commissioned him to create our bed."
He walked to the bondage table and turned, leaning a hip against it and looking into her eyes again, making her heart skip a few beats. He crossed his arms as he said, “I think perhaps a happy medium between tossing and keeping might be to refinish."
His eyes so mesmerized her, she took a few seconds to process his words. He looked away and broke the spell, but spoke before she could respond. “Bethany had everything in here finished with this bleached look—can you use a darker, richer, stain? Maybe swap out the brushed steel hardware for copper? I want simple changes in here—wall color and throw rugs, possibly darker leather—but the main pieces should stay. However, the bed upstairs...” He paused, uncrossed his arms and used them to brace himself on the table. “I want to keep it but give it a different look. Perhaps we ask Frederick to change out the flourishes the two of them designed?"
She nodded and he continued. “You can relocate this room but it must remain on the first floor, as we...” He stopped, closed his eyes a brief moment. “I, request party guests remain on this floor."
They finished the tour outside and she said, “I saw a laptop and tablet on our walkthrough; would you prefer I send my recommendations via hard copy in a binder, or would it be more convenient to have them in digital form?"
"I'd prefer we discuss them in person."
She tapped her tablet to pull up her calendar. “Of course. How is three weeks from today? January twenty-eighth, around two?"
"Are you a Domme or a sub, Dana?"
She didn't look up as she slid her tablet's screen to another page and finger typed him into her schedule. “I'm not sure the question's relevant to our working relationship. Let's keep this business, please. Once we decide on the majority of decisions we should be fine touching base every other week, but we'll likely be meeting two to three times a week for a while.” She met his eyes. “You're prepared for your home to be invaded by workmen for the next six to eight months?"
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* * * *
Dana thought she'd put the matter to rest, because in the seven months she and Zach worked together he hadn't mentioned kink as it might relate to her again. She redesigned every room in the house, moving furniture with heavy sentimental value into guest rooms, arranging shipment to Bethany's out of town siblings for the pieces he wasn't keeping, and making suggestions to replace the ones given away.
When they chose new furniture for the master suite's sitting area, he requested Frederick create a sturdy cage, camouflaged as a glass topped coffee table—a place to store submissives if he wished to sleep alone. It was everything she could do to keep from whimpering at the thought.