“And just to make sure you stay in the right frame of mind, no playing with yourself or coming until I grant permission.” He leaned even closer and whispered in her ear, “And believe me when I say, you don’t want to disobey me. My punishments are a bitch.”

Jeff picked her up at her apartment the next evening at five. The elegant building was surrounded by pristine landscape and expensive cars, the whole scene just confirming his suspicion about her being a wealthy woman. He felt out of place pulling through the gated entrance to the apartment complex in his truck.

Fuck it, he told himself. It’s just dinner.

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She opened the door at his knock and smiled. “Hello, Sir.”

She looked different than she had the night before. Her makeup was softer, more natural, and her long hair flowed freely around her shoulders. She wore a simple blue dress and looked just as stunning in it as she had in the corset.

“You can call me Jeff.”

She closed the door behind her and locked it. “Thanks, but if you don’t mind, I prefer Sir.”

She wanted to keep the lines clear, and while he understood that, part of him rebelled. “Sir is fine,” he said instead.

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They walked in silence to the truck, and he opened the passenger-side door for her.

“Italian okay with you?” he asked once he’d pulled out of the apartment complex.

“It’s one of my favorites.”

Her words from the previous evening came back to him, and he smiled. “Is that so?”

Her eyebrows crinkled in concentration. “Italian? Yes.”

He dropped his voice. “I thought you said you didn’t have a favorite. That you liked all of it.”

Her laugh was soft and seductive. “How very remiss of me to forget. I did say that, didn’t I?”

“You did. I hope you didn’t forget what else we discussed.”

“No, Sir.” Her breathing had changed, becoming ragged.

He’d given a lot of thought to how he wanted the evening to go. They’d have dinner, get to know each other a little better; then, depending on how things went, he’d see if she wanted to play together. They could exchange checklists and get together in a few days.

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He had a simple playroom at his home, but he wouldn’t assume she’d be willing to go to an almost perfect stranger’s house. The submissives he knew had safety calls set up, and while he could appreciate that, he wanted anyone he played with to feel secure even without a safety call.

Still, even though nothing would happen tonight, they could have fun.

“Remind me what my command was,” he ordered.

“I’m not allowed to play with myself or come until you give permission.”

“Did you play with yourself or come?”

“No, Sir.”

He believed her, but still asked, “And why should I take you at your word?”

“Because I want our first experience together to be pleasurable. Because I want to please you. And because you said your punishments were a bitch.”

He glanced at her. Her hands were fisted on her knees. “That’s a lot of becauses,” he said.

“I had to keep coming up with them.”

“Why?”

“Because I really wanted to come last night.”

She didn’t have to say more. He knew exactly what she meant. In fact, he understood so well, he almost changed his mind about not playing after dinner.

“I found your paperwork,” he said, changing the subject. “It was misplaced. I’m sorry for the confusion.”

He’d found it tucked away in a stack of uncompleted forms, and to say he’d read through it would be an understatement. He’d pored over it, committing to memory every scrap of information about her. She’d even had the foresight to include a checklist, and he’d gone to bed with images that kept him awake long into the night.

The restaurant he’d picked was a small, locally owned place he went to often. Part of him knew he was introducing her to his world by taking her to one of his favorite places. Subtly showing her the differences between the two of them. What he wasn’t sure about was whether he was pointing out those differences so she could accept them or so she would leave.

The hostess greeted them warmly and led them to a secluded booth in the back corner of the restaurant. As they walked, Jeff kept his hand on the small of Dena’s back, subtly guiding her and noting how she responded to his touch. She swayed her hips slightly, playing into his hand.

Once they were seated, she sipped her water and handed him the menu. “I’ll have whatever you suggest.”

He looked at her warily. “You should know I’m not interested in a Master/slave relationship. I’d much rather you order for yourself.”

“Trust me. This isn’t something I do on a regular basis. And I have my reasons.”

So she was testing him? Interesting. But in light of the little he knew about her previous relationship, maybe it made sense.

“And if I order you bread and water?” he asked.

“Then I know everything I need to know.”

“Any food allergies or anything you absolutely hate?”

“No.”

“Anything you particularly love?”

Joy and possibly relief flooded her expression. He tilted his head.

Did you expect anything less? he silently asked.

She upturned her palm on the table. “I love tomatoes.”

When the waitress came by, he ordered them both a side salad with house dressing, extra tomatoes for her, and spaghetti with meatballs.

Dena’s hand was still on the table. He placed his over it. “Did I pass?”

“So far.” She laced their fingers together.

Her skin was soft and warm, and her hand felt delicate under his. He stroked her palm with his thumb and saw her body shiver in response. He couldn’t wait to make her shiver in other ways.

“Tell me how you knew you were a submissive.”

She captured her bottom lip between her teeth.

“The truth, Dena,” he warned. “I’ll know if you’re being dishonest.”

“That’s the thing about good Dominants. You guys see everything.”

He narrowed his eyes, partly teasing, partly being serious. “Are you avoiding the question?”

“Busted,” she said under her breath.

He didn’t say anything else, waiting instead for her to continue. She tried to pull her hand back, but he wouldn’t let it go.

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