Suddenly, she realized how very tired she was.

“Let’s go to your place. I’m ready to crash.”

Chapter Six

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Six years ago

Dena woke to the smell of frying bacon and smiled. She loved lazy Saturday mornings at Jeff’s house. Every time she slept over on a Friday night, he’d make her breakfast the next morning.

He hadn’t collared her yet, but neither one of them played with anyone else. They’d been together for six months, ever since the night of the play party when he’d given her forty-five minutes and they’d ended up staying in the room until the party ended.

She slowly stretched her arms over her head, reliving the prior night’s activities through the slight aches and pains that greeted her. Jeff hadn’t been lying when he’d told her on their first date that he knew he could be hard to serve. He was tough and demanding, but when she gave him her best, his rewards were unlike anything she’d ever experienced before.

He wasn’t like anyone she’d ever been with. The way he looked at her while they were in his playroom, like he wanted to worship her and ravage her both at the same time, left her wanting to give herself completely to him. He’d made it clear he didn’t want a Master/slave relationship, and that was fine with her. She just wanted more than what they had now.

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Not that she was complaining. She spent most Friday nights at his house, and they went to the group meetings and parties together. She just wanted more. But she was afraid to say anything for fear of ruining what they had.

Wearing one of Jeff’s T-shirts, she walked to the kitchen and stopped for just a second in the doorway to watch him. He had on only a pair of sweatpants, which was fine by her. Situated the way he was, she had a great view of his muscular back. He transferred the bacon from the pan to a serving plate, and she almost sighed at the way such a simple act made his muscles move.

She padded over to him and wrapped her arms around him, placing a kiss right in the middle of his back. “Good morning, handsome.”

He turned around and gave her a soft kiss. “Good morning to you. Ready for breakfast?”

She set the table, and within minutes they were settled at his cozy table, eating.

“You don’t want any coffee?” he asked, nodding toward her glass of orange juice.

“Not this morning. I decided I like having enamel on my teeth.”

He scoffed. “It’s not that bad.”

“We’re going to have to disagree on the whole question of what constitutes good coffee.” She spread jam on a piece of toast. “Or maybe we could spend the night at my apartment for once and I could make you coffee. Why is it we always spend the night here, anyway?”

“Because I’m the one with all the fun toys.”

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“Right.” She perked up. “We could make my spare bedroom a playroom.”

He cocked an eyebrow at her. “I’m sure the Homeowners’ Association would love that.”

“Pesky homeowners.”

“You’re welcome to make coffee anytime you’d like. Assuming you get up before I do.”

Which would never happen on a Saturday morning. It was one of her few chances to sleep in. “I get up at five Monday through Friday to jog. I typically take off on Saturdays, but you never know.” She gave a small laugh. “You might wake up to find I’m off running down the street and there’s coffee brewing in the kitchen.”

It was supposed to be a lighthearted joke, so she was surprised when he didn’t smile.

“There’s another option,” he said. “You could move in with me.”

He was asking her to move in? Her heart began to race. “Here?”

“It’s actually a two-part request.”

There was more? She held her breath and waited. He reached across the table and took her hands.

“I enjoy our time together, Dena, and I’d like more of it. I want more of you.” His dark eyes were heavy with emotion. “I’d like to offer you my collar.”

She was speechless. She, who Jeff said could talk the bark off a tree, had no words.

“Dena?”

She blinked and realized her eyes were wet. “Jeff,” she finally managed to get out. Pushing back from the table, she walked the few steps to him and climbed in his lap. “Yes,” she said, wrapping her arms around him. “Yes. Collar me. Make me yours.”

The next weekend she arrived to the playroom early, not surprised to find Jeff inside waiting. Lit candles were everywhere: lining the tables and his cabinets, even placed on the room’s lone window ledge. They should have given the room a soft, romantic look, but she knew there was probably only one reason he’d have candles out.

He looked particularly handsome waiting for her in his black jeans and T-shirt. Dark as the devil himself, her grandmother would say. And Dena had a feeling Jeff would be unusually devilish tonight.

The thought made her smile in spite of her misgivings, and she walked into the room, her nerves at attention just thinking about what he might do to her. His eyes never left her body as she made her way toward him.

He nodded at her, and she dropped to her knees before him, moving quickly into his desired waiting position.

He brushed her cheek. “Why are you here tonight?”

“To become yours, Sir.”

When her previous Dom collared her, he’d invited his friends over. Though she wouldn’t have minded Jeff collaring her with group members present, she thought it more intimate and personal with just the two of them.

“Will you wear my collar, Dena?”

Her heart thumped with anticipation. “Yes, Sir.”

He buckled something around her throat. “It’s black leather, so I won’t ask you to wear it to work. Instead, you’ll wear this.” It was a beautiful silver cufflike bracelet. “It has ‘Property of Master Jeff’ on the inside.” He latched it around her right wrist. “What do you think?”

Her entire body somehow perceived the weight of his ownership. She felt protected and cared for. “I love them, Sir.”

“You will address me as ‘Master’ when we’re in this room.”

“Yes, Master,” she said, delighting in the knowledge that she and she alone held that privilege.

“Kiss my feet in thanks.”

It wasn’t the first time he’d asked her to do that, and she’d discovered it was something she enjoyed. There was something raw about kissing someone’s feet. She couldn’t explain why, but the entire process turned her on.

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