"This is a case of who I know more than anything else. I love the food and hoped you'd feel comfortable discussing kinky things this afternoon, so I opted for a place with privacy."
Dana smiled, feeling a bit of a tease as she said, “Kinky things? I'm sure I have no idea what you might be talking about."
He grinned back, but more serious. “We've spent a lot of time together and you've learned a great deal about me. You know my tastes, you even sensed when I was about to lose patience and you needed to get the contractors on the ball and moving faster."
He gently placed his hand over hers. “You're very good at your job, but I don't know much about you, personally. You have wonderful vision, you're efficient, you hire the best artisans, and you're not easily flustered—but that's the business side. I saw glimpses of the personal when you schooled your face to keep from reacting to the cage, or to the additions I had Frederick arrange for the bondage table, but I want to get to know the rest of you, and I learned just enough from my friend to whet my curiosity. He told me of a demo where your Master put four large hooks into your back and left you suspended for hours—perfectly still, no sounds. Living artwork above the other activity."
He glanced at their joined hands, raised his eyes to hers. “I find myself both disturbed and turned on by the idea. I researched the practice, read some first person accounts, but I have to ask what goes through your mind during such a powerful scene. And how often you need something so intense."
Dana looked away, focusing on one of the wall murals. A knock sounded as she opened her mouth to answer, and four waiters came in—two with soup bowls, another with a bottle of wine, and a fourth with a basket of warm bread. The latter spoke while the others arranged table settings and poured wine, giving them a rundown of the exotic cheeses and spices in the broccoli soup, and an explanation of why this vintage was chosen.
The wait staff trailed out as a group and she tasted a spoonful of her soup, moaning as the tastes mingled before exploding in flavor. It was subtle at first, but different flavors burst through as they slid their way down her tongue, various taste buds experiencing the same bite in distinctive ways.
Zach grinned. “Yes, I love this soup. I've tried to get a recipe but they won't consider it. I even offered an outrageous sum of money once, but... no."
Dana savored another bite before attempting to explain why it was unlikely she'd sink so far into subspace again. Not so long ago, she couldn't have talked about her submission to Garnet without crying, but she'd finally progressed past the bottomless despair to the point of bittersweet memories.
"He began preparing me days before an intense scene. I was stripped naked, my closet locked, and he was the only one with a key. He'd store my laptop and e-reader, the power cord to my desk computer, my drawing supplies, TV remote, cellphone —— all my work and leisure stuff. He had a cage built in his closet, so he could store me away when something else needed his attention."
Zach smiled when she mentioned the cage and she grinned, a little of her tension flowing away. He didn't look judgmental and seemed interested and accepting, so she took a breath to settle her emotions and continued. “I wasn't twenty-four/seven, but scenes lasted for days, as did punishments. If I needed correction, he added the time onto our original agreed upon session, and there was no way to end the power exchange until the he deemed the punishment over. We'd have a scene maybe once every three to six weeks with his control pretty much total for the duration."
Her grief threatened to surface and she sipped her wine, working to keep a lock on it. Crying over her dead husband on a date would be bad form. His fingers folded over hers and she looked up, the warmth from his hand and eyes giving her the bolster she needed, allowing her to continue. “Besides denying clothing and leisure activities, he'd occasionally take away the right to use furniture, and...” she paused, not sure she wanted to share so much, but quickly inhaled and plowed ahead. “He kept me cleaned out so I could wear a plug for extended periods. My liquids and calories were closely monitored—sometimes there was little food and I was hungry, other times he provided plenty, but only things I disliked. Or, maybe it'd be a favorite. I never knew what to expect."
She looked for signs of disgust but saw understanding. “Over the course of a few days I became someone else, something else—no worries, no decisions, just his. Sometimes loss of choice is frustrating, but it can also be freeing, and he usually helped me find the place where I was relieved to let him be in charge."
She turned her hand over, reaching for his and giving a brief squeeze before finally answering his question. “For public demonstrations I was often blindfolded before we left the house, occasionally my hearing was blocked, too. Sometimes I had no idea where we were. If you researched the practice of using hooks in the body for suspension, you know it was historically a Native American ritual and they fasted for days beforehand. Garnet had withheld all food, so I was in the same type of meditative state. I remember the pain and euphoria, but almost as if it were a dream. I was so far into subspace, or... I don't know, another kind of space—more a mystical experience than a sexual one. He didn't often go for spiritual over carnal but when he did, he managed a darn good job of it."