Life After the Sale

By Dash

9/10/05

 

My thanks to K1 for the wonderful beta and support during the writing of this story.  My thanks also to K2 and A for their support and encouragement. 

*******

 

Before I tell you my story, I feel like I should introduce you to myself and the other main players.  It might help you understand where I’m coming from a bit easier.  First off, I’m Jason Andrew Rinna and I’ll be your narrator for this little tale.  I’m just shy of 30 with, in my opinion, very normal looks.  I have brown hair and brown eyes and wear glasses for reading.  As the big 3-0 approaches, I think I really should be wearing my glasses more and more for every day actions but so far I’m resisting.  Luckily my partner hasn’t caught on to that fact yet or I’d be wearing my glasses all the time.  The role of life partner, lover, soul mate of this tale is being played by Sam Johnson Estes.  Before I continue, let me tell you that Sam stands for Samuel, not Samantha and yes, we’re both men and yes, that means we’re gay.  If you have a problem with that, you’ll have a problem with this entire story so I suggest you stop reading now.  I’d also suggest you consult a mental health professional and work at joining the rest of us in the 21st century.  Sam has already blown past thirty without a blink.  It’ll be interesting to see how he does when he hits 35 in two years.  Knowing Sam, it’ll be another non-issue.  Very few things are issues to Sam and that’s one of the things I love about him.  We’ve been together for a little more than four years now and even in that short of time, I can’t imagine life without him, life without being Us. 

 

There was a time about a year ago when I seriously questioned if we’d make it

 

Sam and I are in what is called a discipline partnership.  I’m not sure who came up with the name or how it evolved but it's how he introduced it to me and it makes sense.  It’s a relationship built both on an equal Partnership of love, support and respect between the couple and with the clearly defined roles that each person in the Partnership play.  It acknowledges that, for the couple, a relationship runs smoother if one person has the ultimate say in how the household runs, what rules are obeyed inside the household and how each person in the relationship conducts themselves.  In our relationship, Sam is the Top – the head of our household.  He makes the rules, has the final say and also has the right to discipline me when I break those rules.  To be honest, the last part is the hardest to live with and accept.  But, to also be honest, it's the part I find most comforting and find security in.  My role is as the Brat in the relationship. While I don’t have the responsibility of making the final decisions on our relationship, I am responsible for helping to keep it healthy and to do my part as an equal partner in supporting, loving and respecting Sam.  Neither one of us is overly thrilled with the term Brat but that’s what it’s called so we live with it.  They’re not terms we say often so it doesn’t matter that much.  We do live the roles 24/7 though and they are as much a part of our relationship as breathing.

 

We know a few other couples in similar relationships but there doesn’t seem to be a large community like there is for S&M or even Master/slave relationships.  Or, maybe there is and I simply don’t know about it.  In my opinion, DP couples seem to be much more private and not into public shows or display of power as other relationships that are more play.  I’ve never been much of a joiner and even growing up here in Atlanta, I’d be hard pressed to tell a visitor about the Gay Community here.  I’ve heard that it’s the largest outside of San Francisco but I wouldn’t know. 

 

The idea of a community based solely on which gender you find attractive doesn’t make sense to me and because of that, I created my own little community of sorts.  It was based on friendships, love of food and cooking and it was one that I fit into.  It was into this community that Sam was introduced by a mutual friend.  Sam’s architecture firm had been given box seats at the Brave’s Turner Field and, as project leader for the group, Sam had gotten the tickets.  He invited several friends who were told to invite a couple of people.  I was lucky enough to be one of those couple of people.  The stars were with me that night when I ended up sitting next to Sam so we were able to talk and find out we had much more than a mutual friendship with Ray in common.  Our first date was two weeks later.  He later confessed to me that it had taken him almost a week to work up the courage to ask Ray if I were gay.   I obviously needed to work on the signals of interest I was giving out.  But I never had the chance to practice on anyone else.  After the first date, I was hooked and so was he.

 

Three months after our first date, I introduced him to my parents who loved him on sight.  They had gotten over their initial shock of me coming out of the closet seven years earlier and my mom had quickly resumed her normal worry routine of when I was going to get married, settle down, buy a house, dog and picket fence.  Sam had a good job, no tattoos and clearly loved me.  That was enough for her and she was smitten with him.  I could already see her mind planning the cross-stitching design of Jason & Sam on hand towels for Christmas.  My father was, as usual, quiet about the whole thing.  Being men, we don’t talk a lot and rarely share feelings.  I knew I’d get a full report about how my dad was feeling from my mom when we talked later.  But I got a good feeling when he and Sam sat out on their screened in porch and talked about the Brave's disappointing play off show and how they manage to choke every fall.  My suspicions were confirmed when my mom reported that Sam was a ‘nice guy’ per my father’s comments.

 

A little over a month later, it was my turn to be scrutinized when Sam’s parents came to visit from their home in Louisiana.  We had dinner together one evening at a local restaurant and I got the impression that they were happy enough with Sam’s choice and with me in general.  They were interested in my restaurant, in my schooling and my family.  The two hour dinner passed quickly with polite conversation. Mitchell and Martha had continued their trip to New England to visit friends for Christmas two days later.  Sam assured me that they were glad to meet me, had liked me and he said all the standard reassuring words that boyfriends are supposed to say but I wasn’t convinced.  Meeting Sam’s Grandfather the next month pushed all doubts from my mind.

 

Joshua Estes was in his mid-70s when he and Alfred, his long-time "roommate" as most of the family insisted on calling him, drove up from their retirement home in Florida.  As soon as I saw them, there was little doubt that Al and Joshua were not roommates.  They had lived together since the mid-50s and had both retired together to Florida 10 years earlier.  Their quick wit and casual acceptance of me made me love them immediately.  I could tell by Sam’s easy interactions with them that he was far closer to his Grandfather and “Uncle” than he was to his own parents.  I learned later that he had lived with them during all four years of college and that they had held off their own move to Florida until he was out of school and settled in his own place.

 

During that visit, I was in Sam’s kitchen cooking and explaining a recipe to Al when I needed a blender but couldn’t find one in any of the cabinets.  I headed toward the back screened patio where Sam and his grandfather were lighting the fireplace to ward off the cool January air and overheard a conversation between them that left me grinning the rest of the evening. 

 

 

 

After the two older men retired to their hotel, Sam and I were sitting on his couch before I left for the night.  Even though we were sleeping together, I still kept my own home and stayed there several nights a week.

 

“That was a great dinner,” I said, leaning my head back against the couch cushion and closing my eyes.  “I tried a new scallop recipe, did you like it? You think I should add it to the menu?”

 

Picking up one of my hands, Sam began to rub the palm with his thumb in a slow, deep circling massage.  “I thought it was great, Jay.  You should add it, everyone will like it.  Granddad and Uncle Al liked it too, I saw them both eyeing the empty bowl.  I thought they were both going to cry when they saw there wasn’t any more.”

 

I laughed, “I know, I think I underestimated the amount.  I thought I made enough but obviously not.”

 

Sam laughed too before taking a deep breath and saying, “So, I’ve met yours and you’ve met mine.”

 

“Yep," I said and smiled, my eyes still closed.  “You still love me?  Now that you’ve seen my father and see what I’ll look like in thirty years?”

 

Laughing again, Sam kissed the hand he was holding, “Even more than I did two weeks ago.  How about you? You’ve seen my grandfather and his lover and if studies are right and being gay is in the genes, I’ll end up more like him than my father.”

 

It was my turn to laugh, opening my eyes as I leaned over and kissed him fully on the lips.  “Don’t take this wrong honey, but I consider that a very good thing.  Your dad’s great but I really like your grandfather.”

 

“He likes you too,” Sam confirmed.  “I know it hasn’t been easy for him and Uncle Al but they have a great relationship.  Growing up, even before I knew I was gay, I always knew they had a great relationship and I wanted the same one day.”

 

I nodded, agreeing with his assessment.  “Your parents seem very happy together too.”

 

“Oh yeah,” he said, “I think they are.  They compliment each other nicely and have really gotten better as they’ve gotten older.  I think they both developed more patience.”  He laughed and gave a small shrug, “I think they both needed that.”

 

His hand stilled over mine and I sensed him pausing and taking a deep breath.  I smiled at him, aware of what he was thinking thanks to my overheard conversation, “You look like you’re struggling to say something.  Just spit it out.”

 

Sam laughed and blushed slightly.  “Now that we’ve got parental approval …”

 

“Or at least not parental running in terror and screaming,” I interrupted with a chuckle.

 

He laughed again and nodded, “Or that too.  I was wondering if you wanted to talk about maybe making this a more permanent arrangement?”

 

I grinned at him and nodded, “I’d like that.”

 

“I don’t want to take this lightly though,” he cautioned.

 

Leaning up, I kissed him gently again on the lips and whispered, “I know.  I don’t either.”  Sam was different from most of the guys I had gone out with.  When he did nothing more than kiss me by the third date, I was convinced he didn’t like me or wasn’t attracted to me and was just being polite, unsure how to gracefully get himself out of the situation.  I had decided to break it off after the fourth date if nothing happened.  That evening, standing on my front porch, he leaned down and kissed me, gently resting his hand on my butt for the first time.  I was thrilled and took that as a sign and in between kisses whispered that we could continue this inside if he wanted.  I knew I was dealing with a rare and unusual breed of man, an old-fashioned gentleman, when he blushed and shook his head saying he had too much respect for me to rush in, use me and leave before morning.  We finally made slow, gentle and passionate love to each other three weeks later.  I used to tell friends I had had tons of lovers, after that night, I knew what I had really had was tons of sexual encounters. Sam was my first lover.

 

“Did you get a chance to read the articles I gave you or look at the websites?”

 

I made a face, suddenly remembering the file folder he gave me last week.  “No, sorry, I haven’t.  I meant to do it last night but the kitchen was busy and we were short staffed and time just got away from me.”  I glanced up and smiled, “I’ll do it tonight when I get home, promise.”  I glanced at the clock and saw it was past ten already, “I need to get going.”  Leaning up, I kissed him, “Unless you want me to stay here?”

 

He stood up with a laugh, offering me a hand as he pulled me up from the couch.  Wrapping his arms around me, both hands resting possessively on my butt, he said, “I’d like that but you have reading you need to do at home.”  He patted one cheek with a grin, “Don’t forget.”

 

Wiggling and trying to break free, I laughed, “I won’t, promise.”

 

“So lunch tomorrow?” he asked as we got to my car parked in the driveway.

 

I nodded, “Yeah, it’s Tuesday, that’s always a slow day.  Two?”

 

He opened the door for me before turning and kissing me, tongue briefly pushing its way inside to claim its territory.  “Don’t forget to do your reading tonight; I want to talk to you about it tomorrow at lunch.”

 

Nodding again, I said, “I won’t and maybe we can talk about when we want to move in together and all those details.”

 

Sam smiled, kissing me briefly again, “Let’s talk first.”

 

I frowned, hearing the emphasis he put on the words and whatever these articles were.  “Do you want to talk about them now?  It sounds sort of serious.  It’s nothing weird, is it?  They’re not like articles about your past arrests and how you’ve been investigated for like missing children or men or dogs or anything, right?”  I rapidly thought back to the articles when I glanced at them.  They looked like normal text articles and I remember one title being about healthy relationships and had assumed that’s all they were.

 

He laughed and shook his head, “No Jay, promise, nothing bad.”  He paused as if he were searching for words, “Maybe a little weird but more different then weird.  A bit old fashioned but I think it’s something that will appeal to you if you go into it with an open mind.”

 

As I slid into the car, I started it up so I could roll down the window and continue to talk.  “Are you going to be up for awhile still?  If I go home and start reading these articles, can I call you tonight and talk about it?”

 

“Yeah, if you want,” he said as he leaned in and kissed me again.  Tapping the car roof, he nodded, “Now go on, Jason.  Drive carefully.”

 

I gave a little wave as I backed out and headed for home, my mind racing about the articles.

 

 

 

To say I was shocked or horrified or disgusted or even surprised after I read the articles Sam had printed out would be a lie.  Before I read the articles from a website called Discipline Partnerships, I didn’t have the vocabulary or even the formed thoughts to put my feelings into words.  I remember sitting on my bed reading the first one and then, when I was done, looking up and smiling like an idiot, it all making perfect sense to me and touching a hidden part of my soul that I had never dared examine before.  I don’t think I had been interested in discipline, or more specifically spanking, as a kid but I remember rereading those parts of books over and over or secretly hoping that one time Fenton  Hardy would get fed up with Joe or Frank’s actions and they’d get in trouble. 'Trouble' was as far as I was consciously able to admit but looking back now, I know I meant a spanking or paddling.  As I became an adult and starting to understand more of what I was excited by, I read the classic discipline and S&M books and played casually with sex partners.  All of those attempts went off track to varying degrees, some at least hitting the target, some veering wide.  Sam’s articles hit a straight on bull’s-eye.   It wasn’t discipline or spanking so much as the care, the control, the loving domination and submission, the partnership aspect of yin and yang that struck the cord. Spanking was easy to find but it was the rest of it that was so elusive, yet desirable, to me. As I picked up the phone to call him, I wondered if some part of my subconscious had picked up this desire of his and made him more than just physically attractive to me.

 

“Hello,” he said after the first ring.

 

The caution in his voice made me smile.  “Hi Sam,” I said trying to keep an even voice.

 

“Hey Jay, you got home safely?”

 

“I did,” I said, letting my happiness seep into my voice as I continued, “and I read the first article you gave me.”

 

“OK,” he said still sounding cautious.  “You might want to read more than just one though before you make up your mind.”

I laughed, “I don’t need to, honey.  I think it’s a wonderful idea.  I love it and I really think it’s something we should do.”  Then, unable to resist teasing him, added happily, “I think things will run much smoother with me calling the shots.  There are some behaviors of yours, without a doubt, that I’d like to see changed and I think need to change.  I can’t wait to start working with you on that.  Maybe we …”  I heard him take a deep breath on the other end of the phone and couldn’t keep it up any longer.  Giving a happy laugh, I grinned at the phone, “I’m kidding of course, honey. I know what role in this relationship I’d have and which one I want.  I wouldn’t be happy being a Top and certainly not yours.”

 

The relief was clear in his laugh as he said, “God, Jason, don’t do that to me.  I was just sitting here thinking how do I correct you or approach this now?”  He paused before asking, “Were you kidding about everything though?”

 

Knowing full well what he as asking and not wanting to tease him any more about something so serious, I said softly, “No, I wasn’t.  I do love the idea and it’s something I think I’ve been looking for since I started dating.  I had no idea what a Discipline Partnership was before tonight but I’d been looking for exactly this.”

 

“I thought so,” Sam said simply.  “Just some of the things you’ve said, how you’ve acted, how you’ve reacted, I thought it might be right for you. I was hoping it would be right for us.”  He paused again, weighing his words, “I’d been wanting to bring it up to you for the last few weeks but I’ve been scared.  I was scared that you’d hate the idea, think I was some sort of control freak and leave.”

 

“I don’t think that at all, I promise.”

 

Sam laughed again, breaking the serious mood, “Good, I’m glad because I finally decided that I had to take the chance.  I couldn’t continue to be with you and not live with you.  I hate putting you into your car or driving away from your house every night and I hate one of us living out of a gym bag.”

 

“Me too,” I said with a grin, light airy bubbles rising in my stomach making me feel giddy and happy at the prospect of our future.

 

 

 

The next day as the lunch crowd dwindled in my restaurant and I began to supervise the assistant cleaning up before they broke for lunch, my assistant Terri came over and gave me a knowing look.

 

“You’ve been grinning like a Cheshire Cat all day, what gives?” she asked

 

I grinned wider, knowing she was right, and shrugged.  “Nothing really, I’m having lunch with Sam but that’s about it.”

 

“Uh huh,” she said, “and since that’s something you two only do a couple of days a week, you’re just really excited about it.  Right?”

 

“That’s right,” I agreed easily, untying my apron and unbuttoning my jacket and tossing them both into the laundry bin.  “Plus, I think we’re going to be talking about if we should move my living room furniture into his house or if I should just give it to Goodwill when I move.”

 

Terri gave an excited laugh, nodding her head, “Well damn boss, it’s about time.  You’d think you two were some boring couple like Frank and me with how you two were acting.  Definitely not the wild and crazy gay lifestyle I see on TV.”  She frowned and shook her head, “Here I am, a middle age married woman with two kids, just trying to live vicariously through a cute, single, gay guy and who do I get stuck with – a conservative who is dating another conservative.” 

 

I joined in with her laughter as Cindy, the hostess, stuck her head into the kitchen and announced Sam’s arrival.  “Well, I’d like to blow away the boring conservative image you have us but my wild and exciting lover is here and the story of what we did Saturday night would just take too long.”

 

She laughed again and waved as I head toward the door, “Go on then, you can tell me all about folding laundry Saturday night later.”

 

I waved, quickly flashing an obscene gesture that caused her to laugh, as I went though the swinging kitchen doors and into the small dining room.  Grinning as I met Sam’s eyes, I still couldn’t resist glancing around the dining room with pride.  It was small but still sat twenty tables of gleaming wood.  Brass trim, wood floors and nautical pictures filled out the décor and small round windows along one outside window let in light and made the room feel a bit like a boat.  We had been open for a year and business was growing steadily.  Statistics said that the vast majority of restaurants closed within the first six months.  I had beaten those odds and was poised to beat the 18-month curse too.  The business next to us was moving and I had begun casual conversations with the store owner about buying his spot too and expanding.

 

“Hey,” Sam said as I got closer and held up a plain brown bag.  “It’s such a great day, I thought maybe we could walk down to the river and eat down there.  I figure you needed the fresh air.”

 

I grinned, “That sounds great.”  Heading out the door and toward his car parked at the curb, I said, “Does that bag contain, by any chance, meatball subs from Lou’s?”

 

“It might,” he said with a smile as he unlocked the car and we got inside. 

 

Five minutes later, he pulled into a shaded parking area near some picnic benches overlooking a muddy but fast moving river.  In the distance, we could see a group of canoes going through a flagged obstacle course.   I grinned as Sam upended the bag next to the coke cans I carried from the car, spilling out two familiar foil wrapped sandwiches and bags of chips.  “You’re too good to me,” I said leaning over and kissing him.

 

“Before we eat,” he said, reaching for a can and opening it, “I think we should toast.”

 

I laughed, “OK, what should we toast?”  Opening my own can, I smiled at him and held it up ready to clink with his.

 

“To the wonderful future,” he said simply.

 

Echoing his words, I gently tapped my can against his and took a swig of coke to seal the wish.

 

 

 

Two years later, I slowed my car as I approached our house.  The neighborhood was dark and it was after midnight already but our porch light was on and I could see a faint glow coming from around the blinds covering the windows in the master bedroom.  Part of me wanted to turn the car around and head back to the restaurant, calling Sam and telling him that I was too busy and wouldn’t make it home that night.  But as soon as the idea entered my mind, I dismissed it.  I couldn’t do that to Sam and I couldn’t do that to our relationship.  I shifted in my seat, knowing already what his reaction would be. 

 

Opening the garage door, I pulled the car inside and gave a small wave as the door to the house opened and revealed my partner standing in the door way.  He was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt and looked tired.

 

“Hi,” I said as I got out of the car.  “I’m sorry I’m late.  I got caught up with stuff and couldn’t get out earlier.”

 

"It's after midnight, Jason," he said as he angrily hit the garage door button to close it.

 

I got out of the car and gave him another small smile, "I know and I'm sorry.  I should have called."

 

"That would have been nice," Sam said as he turned and went back into the house.

 

Watching him walk away, I made a face.  I was annoyed with myself and I was annoyed with him.  We had just talked about this last week, hell – who was I kidding, we had been talking about this for six months. 

 

Ten months ago, I and in conjunction, the restaurant, had been named for some unknown reason one of the top ten young up and coming leaders of the gay community.  It had earned a grimace from me, a huge laugh from Sam and lots of teasing from friends and the staff.  It had also thrown Jason’s Seafood into the spotlight and brought in more advertising than I could afford.  Luckily, the restaurant had risen to the change of its new reputation and performed wonderfully.  Lunch crowds were busy from when the doors opened at 11:30 until they closed at 2:30 and prime time dinner reservations for Friday or Saturdays were recommended two weeks in advance.  All of which was great from a business aspect but horrible from a personal aspect.  I was finding it harder and harder to balance work and home; harder and harder to switch from driven and controlling chef and business owner to laid back controlled lover at home.  There were days when the idea of having to compromise and listen to Sam almost sent me over the edge and part of me longed to be able to simply say "Do It!" like I could at the restaurant.  But almost as suddenly as those feelings came over me, they vanished in light of what I was saying.  I didn’t want to leave Sam, I didn’t want to be in control in our relationship, I didn’t want to be ‘independent’ but I couldn’t find a way out.  If I had stopped then and taken the time to closely look at my feelings and actions, I would have seen the missteps and stumbles in my juggling act.  But, I didn’t feel like I had the time for that and, honestly that it wouldn’t do any good.  I thought I simply needed to work on it harder and better and Sam simply had to deal.

 

Dealing though was not one of Sam’s strong points when it came to me or issues with our relationship.  Dealing was fine when it was an angry client at his design firm or a screwed up pizza order or the lawn man who once again forgot to trim the edges, but not with Us.  With Us, he was on top of everything and firmly in control.  As we moved in together and agreed to live in a Discipline Partnership, he explained to me that he saw three main areas or aspects of behavior that should be subject to rules - Attitude, Behavior and Common Sense.  We both agreed that a whole laundry list of rules and regulations wasn’t how we wanted to live; life was too uncertain and we were too spontaneous for that to really work.  We both took a notebook and over the course of two weeks, we’d each jot down thoughts and ideas on areas we wanted to improve personally, where the other person could improve, where the relationship could improve and what we wanted out of all of those.  Afterwards, we sat down together and compared them, talking and compromising and sort of ironing out an almost business plan for the running of our relationship.  It might seem a bit of an unromantic way to start a relationship but we both have meticulous minds that thrive in order and logic.  Plus, it gave us both a sense of security that we were on the same page and had similar goals.

 

Sam had seen a system of discipline that he liked and thought it would be a good one to at least start with and that we could later modify if needed.  Taking a deep breath, I had said simply that it was his decision and he could do what he felt was best.  My only request, which he quickly agreed to, was that we would not use a belt or strap for discipline.  A friend had been beaten with one by his father in front of me one time and to this day, the sound of it slicing through the air and hitting flesh makes me feel sick.  The system he had seen and that we used was an uncomplicated board with four columns and three rows.  Each row was labeled either Attitude, Behavior or Common Sense while the columns were labeled Corner, Essay, Spanking, Paddling.  When discipline was called for, a small peg was moved up a row to the next spot, when the behavior wasn’t repeated for two weeks, the peg was moved back down the row toward the lesser punishments.  In our system, we’d talk about the past week every Sunday and move pegs down as called for.  Like our notebooks, it appealed to our logically and orderly minds.

 

 

Right now as I walked into the house from the garage, my Attitude and Behavior pegs were both sitting on paddling where they’d been for the last three weeks.  I gave him another small smile as I caught his eye in the kitchen.  “I’m sorry, Sam,” I repeated.

 

He sighed and shook his head, “You keep saying that Jason but you’re not doing anything different.  How sorry does that make you sound?”

 

I shrugged, unsure what to say and hating to admit he had a point.  I walked past him toward the fridge and opened it.  Pulling out a container of cold chicken and pasta, I studied it.  I was starving but my stomach also felt in knots and I was scared anything I ate would make me sick.

 

“Did you at least manage to eat dinner?” he asked.  “God knows I’ve punished you often enough for that, I would have hoped you’d learn that lesson at least.”

 

Something inside of me snapped as I tossed the container back into the fridge and slammed the door.  Whirling round, I glared at him.  “Well then, maybe if I’m not learning anything it’s your fault, not mine.  You’re the one who’s suppose to be in charge of this damn relationship, why don’t you do something about it.  Don’t just bitch that I’m not doing something or that I’m letting you down and not learning fast enough.”  My anger and frustration bubbled out of control as I stared at him.  “This whole relationship was supposed to make my life easier and all it’s doing is making it harder.  God, you’re always looking for something to punish me for and get on my case about.  Show me how to act Oh Great One since you know everything. How about you just try understanding the pressure I’m under with the restaurant and trying to balance everything instead of just lecturing all the time?”  I could feel tears forming in my eyes and I turned back to the fridge so not to let him see.  I hated fighting with Sam, I hated knowing I disappointed him and I hated feeling as I was on the brink of having everything I wanted and was going to loose it all.  The problem was that deep down, in a place I was afraid to visit very often, I knew that all I wanted was currently standing in the kitchen with me, not miles away dark and closed for the night.

 

“So you want me to show you instead of lecturing,” he said in a low calm voice.  “You want me to make you understand, you want me to show you that I understand you, is that right? You want me to stop lecturing and bitching, as you put it and show you.  Is that right?”

 

I felt him come up behind me and I nodded, still not trusting my voice completely.

 

He wrapped his arms around me and softly kissed my neck before saying, “Stop lecturing, stop punishing and just act, right?”

 

“Yes,” I said softly willing myself not to relax into his arms.  “I’m tired of the lectures, I’m tired of feeling lost and unbalanced and I just need you to just deal with my schedule and what’s going on right now for awhile longer.  It’ll get better soon, I promise.”  I brought my hands up and clasped his hands, asking, “Can you just do that for me Sam?”

 

Turning me around, he put a finger under my chin, forcing me to meet his eyes.  “No,” he said quietly.

 

At the word, I felt my anger flare up again and I scowled, ready to release another barrage of words at him.

 

Dropping one of his hands from my waist, he quickly swatted me hard across my butt.  “Don’t say a word, Jason.  I think you’ve had your chance and you’ve made your demands known quite clearly tonight as well as the last few weeks.  It’s my turn now.”

 

As I opened my mouth again, all that came out was a gasp as he swatted me again.  “Sam,” I started and then quickly stopped, tears filling my eyes as he landed two more hard swats.

 

“I said to stop, didn’t I?”

 

Nodding but not saying anything, I shifted nervously.  My butt stung where his hand landed and I wanted to rub it away but worried about moving and annoying him further.

 

Sam took my arm and started directing me out of the kitchen and down the hall toward our office.  It was in this room that most of our discipline took place, its book lined walls, empty corner, soft sofa and wide desk making it the perfect room for such things.  Sam would often shut the door when he disciplined me, as if shutting out the stresses and distracters of our every day lives, to make it more intimate and more focused on just he and I.

 

“You wanted me to stop lecturing, you wanted me to show you that I understood you,” he said as he flipped on the light of the room and walked me inside.  “I think that’s an excellent idea.  Obviously spanking or paddling you isn’t making an impact and you seem to have forgotten your role in this relationship.”

 

“I haven’t forgotten,” I shot back angrily.  “I’m just asking you to let it go for awhile and to stop trying to enforce rules right now.  I just need you to understand everything now and just to deal with it.”

 

He shook his head, “That is forgetting your role in this relationship, Jason and not what you need, at all.”  He nodded toward the neatly organized desk, “What I understand is that you need more of a reminder than lecturing or paddling.  You need a reminder of who you are, who I am and what you want and need.  You’re fighting that reminder now but it’s my responsibility to make you accept it.”  Watching me for a moment to see if I had anything to say, he continued firmly.  “Go ahead and strip off your slacks and underwear and bend over the edge of the desk.  I’ll be back in a moment and I expect you to be in position.”

 

My stomach twisted in a tighter knot at his instructions but before I could recover enough to respond, he had turned and left the room, shutting the door firmly behind him.  He had only ever physically disciplined me while I was over his knees or lap, the closeness and connection of such a position appealing to both of us.  Briefly considering refusing or leaving, I swallowed hard, dismissing the idea.  My fingers were stiff and I fumbled as I undid the button on my slacks, slipping them down and laying them over the edge of the small side chair against the wall.  Taking a deep breath, I slipped off my briefs and left them in a crumbled heap on the floor by my pant’s leg.  It seemed silly to fold them neatly.  Goosebumps sprang up on my bare legs as I walked back across the room and stood in front of the desk, looking at it.  I knew Sam would be back at any minute and, even as I rallied against his orders and control, I didn’t want to disobey him.  Out and out disobeying was different, I reasoned with myself, then disobeying because circumstances or situations were out of your control.  Taking a deep breath, I bent over the table.  I bent my arms at the elbows and used them to hold myself up so only the edge of the desk touched my stomach.  Shifting my legs slightly, I worked on getting comfortable. This position, this act of display was new and not something he had demanded of me before.  Trying not to think of how humiliating of a position it was and how I must look, I tried to listen for the sounds of footsteps and advance warning of his return.  Despite listening, I tensed in surprise but didn’t turn around as I heard the door to the office open and then close.  Unable to stand it, I glanced behind me and saw Sam.

 

He nodded firmly at me, “Turn back around Jason and spread your legs more.”

 

Doing as I was told, I felt him more than heard him come up behind me but I still jumped slightly, my skin quivering, as he laid a hand on my bare butt.

 

He patted it and then tapped one leg gently, “Spread them wider, Jason and relax.”

 

“Sam, please,” I started.  My voice quavered as I struggled to do as I was told even as every nerve ending screamed for me to resist.

 

“Hush, Jason,” he said quietly as he moved my shirt out of the way fully exposing my butt.  “I’m not going to hurt you but you will be reminded of your role in this relationship.  You seem to have forgotten and now you're fighting and trying to understand instead of simply accepting and embracing it.  I’ve let you down and allowed you to forget and that’s not something I’ll do again.”  He paused for a moment before asking quietly, “Do you agree that our relationship is too important to simply ignore this problem, even if ignoring it might be easy and what would be the quickest way to deal with the problem in the short term?”

 

Fighting back tears, I nodded.  “Yeah,” I whispered.  “But I don’t know what else to do, Sam.  I don’t know if I can do it any more.”

 

“You don’t have to do anything, Jason.  All you have to do is relax and accept my decisions and my actions.  That’s all.  You can do that, I know you can.” 

 

Still unsure of what he had planned, I nodded again and lowered my head so it was resting on my fisted hands, willing myself to relax.  Despite this, I jumped and for some reason whimpered as I heard Sam’s zipper go down and felt his hands spreading my butt apart.  A moment later a well lubed finger gently teased the outside of my opening before plunging inside briefly causing me to gasp.  “Sam,” I said.

 

“Relax Jason and accept my decisions and actions and your position,” he said firmly as he withdrew his finger.

 

A moment later, I gasped and cried out as his hard cock lined up where his finger was briefly before thrusting half way inside.  Automatically contracting my muscles against the hard intruder, I cried out again as he slide half way out before pushing back in, sliding deeply inside.

 

“Relax Jason,” he repeated as he stilled his movements for a moment.  “Let your mind go and just accept and embrace what you know you want and what you know you need.” 

 

“I can’t,” I said choking on the words as a feeling of cold and discomfort flooded through me.  “Please.”  As the words spilled out of my mouth, I realized I had no idea what I was saying.  What couldn’t I do?  What was I saying Please for?  As his hard cock stretched me further, sliding first out and then back inside, I heard myself whimper.

 

“Yes you can, Jason,” Sam said softly as he thrust in and out in a slow and gentle motion.  “Relax and accept what you want, what you need.”

 

Closing my eyes and bowing my head again, I tried to do as he instructed.  As he pulled half way out, I found myself arching my back slightly as if to keep contact.  A moment later, I moaned as he pushed in again, burying himself completely inside me.  My muscles contracted and I felt stretched and fuller then I had in a long time. 

 

“You are my brat,” he said in a firm voice even as he repeated the hard thrusting motion.  “You belong to me.”

 

Despite myself, I felt my own cock grow hard as the repeated thrusts brushed against my prostate and as Sam’s words entered my mind.  Even as part of my mind rebelled against his clear dominance of me, another part of my mind and my body embraced it and welcomed it.  This is exactly what I wanted, where I wanted to be and who I was.  I wanted to belong to Sam; I craved it even as part of me fought that submission.  My cock grew hard as my back arched, legs spreading wider to give him greater access in its surrender.  I felt tears welling up in my eyes and I cried out again as I was filled and stretched to my limits.

 

Sam groaned softly as he thrust one last time, sheathing himself completely as his cock jerked its release inside me.

 

 I cried out loudly with the final thrust as I felt him come inside me even as my legs quivered from the strain. Resting my head on my hands, I felt him pull out a moment later leaving me feeling cold and empty and alone.

 

“Stay,” he ordered firmly, a hand resting on my back even as I started to rise.  “I’m not sure that you’ve learned your lesson and think you need a bit of time to think about it.”  Pulling my shirt back down over my butt, he gave it another loving pat. 

 

Blinking against the tears that formed in my eyes, I struggled with the warring emotions.  I heard him do up his zipper and then sit down on the desk, twisting slightly so he was facing me.  “I want to get up Sam,” I said quietly, not looking at him and closing my eyes instead.

 

“I know you think you do, Jay,” he said as he began to rub my back.  “But I’ve told you No and that’s it.”  He was silent for a minute, simply sitting there and rubbing my back.  “You have a lot going on right now.  The restaurant is taking a big toll and it’s hard on you.”

 

I nodded but didn’t say anything.  My emotions were clashing with each other, leaving me adrift.  Part of me screamed to stand up and tell him off, part of me was humiliated at the position I was in and how it must look to be used, part of me wanted to sigh contentedly under his hand and attention and another part of me felt loved and cared for to be so used as if that were my ultimate goal in life – to be sexually available and willing for my partner to mark me as his any time he wanted.

 

Sam continued, unaware of the war going on inside me, “With all of that, with all the uncertainty of your job and the restaurant, there is one large and solid constant in your life.”

 

“You,” I said softly, feeling the tears welling up again.

 

“Yes,” he said.  “Me and you and our relationship.  I will always try to be consistent, I will always try to give you want you need even if you don’t want it.  What we need and what we want aren’t always the same things, are they?”

 

I shook my head, relaxing under his touch and feeling myself sink into his steady and calm air. 

 

“You need to belong to someone, to be loved and cherished by someone; you need to answer to someone and not be out there alone with only yourself as a judge and jury of your actions. You need the accountability and the consequences and you need to give all that control to someone you trust and love.”

 

A small sob escaped my lips and I nodded, feeling tears escape from my closed eyes and drip down my nose and onto my hands.  I hated his words, hated what I struggled with sometimes and hated that they were true and dead on.

 

Leaning down, he kissed my head gently before continuing.  “But that need is hard and clashes with the wants of independence and easiness and freedom to ignore problems.  It’s my responsibility, my needs and wants, to take that clash out of your hands and simply make you do what you need to do.”  He slid off the desk saying, “Tonight, that is to make you accept that you belong to me, accept that you are my Brat and remind you that you do belong to someone.”

 

I shifted as I heard his zipper unzip and sighed as his hands went to my butt again, raising my shirt and spreading me wide.  Sam had always been able to quickly regain an erection and could usually get hard and release two to three times before needing a recovery time.  The logical part of my brain admitted defeat as his hard cock slowly penetrated me for the second time and my emotional and submissive part cheered the dominating invasion.  My cock throbbed hard and hot in time to his thrusts and I cried out in frustration as he cried out in release, again shooting deep inside me, and leaving me hard against the edge of the desk.

 

“I love you,” he said gently, leaning down and still buried deeply inside me to kiss my sweaty neck before slowly withdrawing.  Giving my butt another pat, he gently helped me stand up and wiped the tears from my face. 

 

I sniffled, unaware that I had been crying the entire time, closing my eyes and sinking into his embrace.  “I love you,” I repeated.

 

“Let’s go upstairs and clean up, it’s late.”  His hand brushed my hard cock and he smiled, kissing me again, “And maybe I’ll take care of this for you.”

 

Nodding, I suddenly felt too tired and drained to talk or move without his help.  I felt sore and stretched and used like I hadn’t been in a long time.  Even as I grimaced walking up the stairs to our bedroom, a part of me realized I missed that feeling.

 

 

 

Things went well for six or so months, my attitude improved and things around the house with Sam got better and better.  We were back in-synch and flowing smoothly and happy together.  I was still exhausted though and the daily schedule was taking a toll.  The restaurant was open six days a week, Tuesday through Sunday and even on my off day on Monday, I was often there going over paperwork, reviewing recipes and general management hassles.  Plus, we were continuing to grow and get busier.  Terri and I had already begun tossing around the idea of expanding again while one of the assistant chefs was pushing for us to get into the take out business and catering business.  There were days when I wanted to bury my head in a complicated new dish and block out all the issues and problems and decisions like an ostrich.  At the same time, a little voice in my head pointed out that we all know what happens to ostriches.  Added to the mix was Sam’s increasing demands and requests for me to hire a business manager. But that decision seemed like such a waste to me, pouring money into a position that I thought I could handle part time and that I didn’t see as bringing in any additional profits.  Even after almost four years, I was still painfully aware of how few restaurants made it and how quickly tastes and trends could change.

 

As the demands for my time and energy increased at the restaurant, cracks began to show again on the home front.  I began to slip in getting home on time, a couple of minutes here, a couple of minutes there that I think Sam was reluctant to bring up because it was only a couple of minutes and at least I was home.  An edge developed to my tone of voice and my patience for normal household demands became razor thin.  My pegs on our discipline board began to climb back up yet still managed to move down every other week as I got the message usually and worked harder.  Looking back now, I can see the increasing missteps and bad catches in my juggling act.

 

Another friend in a similar relationship and I talked about this time recently and he expressed disapproval of Sam’s actions during this.  He said that Sam should have been tougher, more proactive, made me obey the rules.  I couldn’t disagree more.  Sam was enforcing our rules the vast majority of the time, he was still being incredibly supportive and tried to help me juggle.  But, I’m also an adult and Sam could only make me do so much.  He could paddle me for being late for the second time in two weeks, he could lecture me about getting home on time, he could help me set up schedules and lists to get organized but he couldn’t actually make me do them for long.  Sam gave me all the tools I needed and wanted but I was on the only one who could actually decide to use them.  I think that’s the difference between a DP and a Master/slave relationship.  Sam could give me the tools, a Master could make me use them. 

 

It all came crashing down on our third anniversary.

 

I remember the March night vividly.  I was standing in the kitchen at my restaurant with one hand plugging my ear trying to block out the noise while the other hand held the phone close to my mouth trying to talk to Sam and explain to him that I was sorry but things were busy.   Even though it was a Wednesday, there was no way I was going to be able to get home for dinner and to celebrate with him.  I could hear the frustration in his voice even over the clattering of pots as he struggled to stay calm as he reminded me that I had promised to be home.  I remember trying to make excuses even as the action in the kitchen distracted me away from the call and I hurriedly apologized before I hung up.  I had even forgotten to wish him a happy anniversary in my haste to deal with work.  When I stumbled into the house at 2 that morning, our anniversary missed, I found a fridge full of containers holding the dinner Sam had cooked and a brightly wrapped present and card sitting on the kitchen counter.  The sight made me feel sick inside.  It took another six weeks of fluctuating emotions, compromise ideas tossed around and internal wars before I finally took a deep breath and picked up the phone to call The Maine Restaurant Group concerning their offer to buy my restaurant. Sam’s reaction was not exactly what I was expecting. 

 

“I don’t have a problem with you working, Jason,” he said calmly as he began to slice bread for sandwiches.   “You don’t have to sell something you’ve worked so hard at.”

 

I was sitting at our kitchen table watching him make our lunch.  “I know,” I said softly feeling my stomach twist.  I had wanted tears of joy from him, to be showered with thanks for my sacrifice and to be told that even though it was hard, he appreciated it and was happy, not his calmness.  “But I gave it a lot of thought and I honestly can’t see myself being able to turn it over to someone, not even Terri.  She’s a great chef and has really been a wonderful help but it would be like turning over my baby to someone else to raise.  It would be too hard; I’d want to be involved and would get sucked back in.”

 

He nodded, “I can understand that.”

 

“Plus, it’s not like I won’t be working.  MRG wants me to write a cookbook to go along with their collection.  They put out a cookbook for all their restaurants.  So you can look forward to plenty of home cooked seafood while I work on the recipes,” I said, trying to put a light and positive spin on things.  “And you know that I had to turn down participation in that project PBS was doing because I didn’t have time.  Maybe I can call them and see if spots are still available.”  My voice trailed off as I watched him carefully slice the bread. 

 

“You could do that.”

 

“I’ll be making a load of money from the sale so you don’t have to worry about me being a drain or bills or anything like that.”

 

“That’s the least important aspect to this situation,” he said casually.

 

My stomach twisted as my heart sank further.  Standing up, I blinked back the tears as I walked over to the counter.  “Sam … please.  I’m doing this for us.  I know I really have screwed up with us and I’m trying my best to make it good again.  Please give me a chance to make it right.”  My voice cracked and I had to clamp my lips tightly together to stop a sob from escaping.  My legs felt weak and I was worried that I might collapse from the stress.  I had never been so afraid to hear the next words out of someone’s mouth than I was at that moment.  Telling my parents I was gay and waiting for the bank to approve my first business loan was a walk in the park compared to this.

 

Putting down the knife, he turned to me before reaching out and pulling me into a hard hug.  “I’m not mad and you haven’t screwed things up with us.”

 

I felt the ice in my stomach melt as he continued.

 

“You’re right in that things haven’t been great lately but I still love you, I still can’t imagine life without you.”  He kissed me gently before continuing, “I don’t want to tell you though what to do with your life.  I know how much you loved the restaurant and how hard you worked for it.  I love how proud you are of it and I don’t want you to give that up out of fear, thinking that it’s the only way that we’ll survive.  I’m scared that you’ll end up resenting me, our relationship, if that’s what happens.”

 

Nodding, I clung to him, afraid that my legs wouldn’t support me as relief made me weak.  “I do love the restaurant and I’m so proud of it,” I admitted softly.  “But I’ve given it a lot of thought and I’m ready for a change.  I’m looking forward to a change.”  I took a deep breath before deciding I had nothing left to lose and if this was going to work, then I needed to be honest.  “I’m looking forward to being your Brat, I want to get back to how things were when we first got together.  I don’t feel like I can continue with the restaurant and do that.  Being your Brat and having our relationship is more important.  I can’t do both.”

 

“We’ve managed to balance both our relationship, both of them, and your restaurant for years, Jay.  We can make some adjustments if that’s what you need.  We’ve been going through a rough time the last few months but we can talk about it and make adjustments and continue to balance both.  I got into this with you knowing your schedule, knowing your dreams and I’m not going to put my wishes for a relationship above those,” he said in an earnest and sincere tone. 

 

I shook my head. “It’s not just your wish for a relationship.  I want to be in a discipline relationship with you, I want for you to be in charge of me, I want to belong to you,” I blurted out.  As soon as the words were out, I could feel the blush rise on my checks, embarrassed at my own admitted desires.  “We’ve tried balancing both and I can’t do it any more.  I don’t want to do it any more.  The restaurant was my dream and maybe I’ll do it again.  But I proved that I could do it and I proved that I was good enough.  It’s gotten too hard to balance and too hard to switch gears between my public life and our private one.”

 

He nodded, indicating he knew and understood the meaning behind those words.

 

“I’ve thought about it and I think one of the reasons we’re struggling right now is because I’m feeling more and more driven.  I don’t have anything left to prove at the restaurant.  It’s a success, I did it.  Now, I don’t know where to direct that drive so I start stressing more, demanding perfection, trying to control more and that doesn’t work at all when I come home.”  I smiled at him and felt relief when he smiled back, gently kissing me.  “I need to step back and focus on what’s important again.  And, there’s nothing more important then you and us and trying to accept who I really am.”  I smiled again, “We’ll have plenty of money; you wouldn’t believe what I’m getting for the restaurant.”

 

Sam laughed, saying, “Well, maybe then I’ll take some time off when the Hanson project is done and we’ll go travel for a month or so.”  He kissed me again, “We’re good babe.  Don’t worry about that.”

 

“We’ll be better,” I said softly hugging him tightly.

 

 

 

A month later after negotiating the contract, my obligations and the buyer’s obligations, I sat down at one side of a long table and signed away my sole ownership of Jason’s Seafood Restaurant.  Per our arrangements, I was obligated to submit a collection of recipes used in the restaurant for publication, appear – upon request and for a set compensation - in two commercials over the next year and a host of small duties concerning vendors, suppliers, staff and franchising of the restaurant.  The Maine Restaurant Group had been trying to break into the south with a chain of family friendly seafood restaurants to rival Red Lobster but with a more upscale atmosphere then Joe’s Crab Shack.  Jason’s was seen as the perfect opportunity.  It was a win win situation for both of us, I remember trying to convince myself as I signed my name over and over on the documents slowly circling the table.

 

This is the story of what happened after I signed my name that June.

 

 

 

My eyes were still closed tight against the bright sunshine filling our bedroom as I stretched in bed.  Sam’s heavy comforting weight was draped along one side and as I stretched, twinges in my muscles reminded me of our actions last night.  Opening my eyes, I blinked in the brightness, my brain idly wondering what time it was before I remembered it was Saturday and for the first time in years, Saturday was mine.  I sighed and tried to relax before I woke Sam but it was too late for that.

 

Shh,” he mumbled, his voice rough and still mostly asleep.  “It’s too early, Jay.  Go back to sleep.”  Pulling me tighter against him, he kissed my head briefly.

 

As he relaxed, I could tell he had drifted back to sleep and I was happy.  My mind was racing and I needed time alone to sort out my thoughts and feelings.  Laying here in bed was the perfect place; it was warm and soft and I felt safe and protected.

 

Friday had marked the end of my career at Jason’s.  The previous two weeks had been spent dealing with different transitional situations with staff and vendors plus making sure the new owners and chefs were comfortable with everything.  Terri was staying on as was most of the staff, at least temporarily.  I was the only one leaving.  Yesterday morning I had gone in as normal, made a little speech, received a nice gift from the staff and then walked out before the lunch rush began.  Sam had offered to take off and come with me or to at least be home so I wouldn’t be alone but, like an idiot, I had allowed my pride to get in the way and said No.  Sam though, not being an idiot and knowing me too well, had sat me down Thursday and we had gone over a sort of To Do list of chores and errands for me to take care of on Friday before he got home.  The idea being, of course, so I wouldn’t just sit at home and brood and think.  I also had strict orders to call him any time if I wanted to talk.

 

Glancing at the To Do list sitting on the passenger seat of my car as I started the engine, I made a face at its length.  A brief flare of resentment shot through me as I pictured myself suddenly transformed from a well-respected and accomplished chef to an anonymous househusband running errands and cleaning all day while the Man of the House worked.  Shaking my head, I smiled trying my best to ignore the feeling and knowing deep down that it wasn’t right.  Sam didn’t expect me to be any sort of ‘50s wife and neither did I.  I still was well known and respected and still had a job.  I’d be a published author soon and on PBS and who knew where that might lead.  Plus, I was doing this for our relationship and to make it stronger.  It wasn’t all about me, it was about Us.  The happy thoughts of future fame and fulfilling relationships got me through errands to the dry cleaners, tailor to pick up some Sam’s suits that needed to be altered, Target for the usual household stuff and a local restaurant for a birthday gift certificate for one our friends.   My phone rang as I was pulling into the drive-thru at McDonald’s for lunch.

 

“Is this Carlos, my hot Latin lover,” I asked with a smile, recognizing Sam’s cell number.

 

Si, Senor,” he said in a horrible Spanish accent, “I can’t wait to show you my burrito tonight back at la casa.”

 

I laughed, saying, “Can’t wait.”

 

Sam laughed too and said, “So other than waiting for Carlos to call, how are you doing?”

 

I smiled wider, “I’m good.  Everything went smoothly this morning and I’m just out running errands.  I’m mostly done so I’m at McDonalds to get some lunch and eat at home before going out grocery shopping.”

 

He laughed again on the other end, “You know, I bet most chefs consider that stuff gross and barely food.”

 

“I like it,” I said laughing back.  “It’s hot and greasy and salty, what’s not to love?”  He laughed again and I could picture him shaking his head in amusement.  “So what are you up to for lunch?”

 

“I’m on my way to a meeting and they’re serving stuff there,” he said.

 

“So in other words, you’ll be stopping at Burger King on your way back.”

 

Sam chuckled, “Probably.  I won’t keep you but I wanted to check in and see how everything went and how you were doing.”

 

I nodded as if he could see me and said, “I’m good, promise.”  Then, changing the subject, said, “What time will you be home?”

 

“I’m going to cut out early I think.  It’s quiet today and there’s not much going on so I should be home by 5 at the latest.”

 

The car in front of me moved so I was next to place my order, “OK, sounds good.  It’s almost my turn so I should go but I can’t wait to see you and your big burrito tonight.”

 

He laughed and blew me a kiss, “Me too babe.  Love you.”

 

“Love you too,” I said before ending the call and pulling up to place my order for a double cheeseburger value meal.

 

Three hours later I was standing in the grocery store struggling with the question that plagues most of us every evening – what to fix for dinner.  We do our regular shopping together on Sunday but Sam had wanted me to pick up food for tonight and tomorrow and I had no idea what to get.  It felt like it should be something special, the first relaxed Friday night meal we’d had together in ages but I didn’t know what.  Roaming the aisles, nothing looked appealing and the sight of the seafood department made me feel sad.  I picked up a pound of ground beef and rolls figuring we could grill burgers and made some homemade onion rings for Saturday but I was still lost about tonight.  Spying the Italian sausage, I quickly latched onto the idea of making homemade lasagna.  It wasn’t something we did often because it took time but it was something we both loved.  Picking up the ingredients and some fresh bread from the bakery, I smiled as I carried it all out to the car, my mood improving.

 

It was almost 4 o’clock by that time and I wanted to be mostly done by the time Sam got home.  I had also picked up some wine and cheese and crackers to enjoy while dinner cooked.  It was like we were starting a new phase of our relationship and I wanted everything to be perfect.  Perfection and real life though seldom go hand in hand and problems started coming up almost as soon as I got home.  The screened in porch was dirty so that nixed my plans for sitting outside and enjoying the fresh air and sun; the pan I thought we used for lasagna was too big or the noodles I bought were too small and when I tried to open the wine bottle, the cork broke apart so that I ended up having to push it into the wine in order to open the bottle. It took me another five minutes to find a decanter, wash it and strain the wine over a funnel to catch the floating pieces of cork.  By that time, I was seriously behind schedule.

 

When the garage door opened at Sam’s command ten minutes before five, the kitchen was a disaster, the sink was piled high with dishes and I was tearing around like some mad man.

 

“Hey,” he called out as he stepped from the garage into the house.

 

“Don’t come in here!” I ordered sharply.

 

He laughed and walked into the disaster zone and I saw a funny expression flash across his face.  In a moment it was gone and he was back to his normal bemused expression.  Surveying the scene, he laughed again and shook his head.  “You know, when we cook at home, we don’t have a whole staff of dishwashers and assistants to clean up after the creative genius chef.”

 

“Hey,” I said with a smile, “I thought I said for you not to come in here.”

 

Walking over, he kissed me, running a hand possessively across my butt.  “And do you give the orders around here?”

 

Kissing him back, I smiled, “Sure, all the time.”

 

“Oh, do you now?”  He kissed me again, pulling me closer, his hand resting hot through my jeans.

 

I nodded again, “Yep, sure do.  You just don’t always listen.”

 

Sam laughed, patting my butt, “I don’t have a monopoly on that in this house.”

 

Laughing, I pulled free and turned my attention back to the items I was layering in the pan.  “So how was your day?”

 

“It was good; how was yours?” He came up behind me and hugged me, peering over my shoulder as he commented, “That looks great.  I love your lasagna.”

 

 “I wanted to make something sort of special to celebrate tonight.”  Moving efficiently as my years of training and experience had taught me, I barely noticed Sam’s arms around me but did feel myself calm down from my previous hyper state.

 

He kissed my neck and I could feel him nod, “That’s a great idea.  It is a time for celebration and a whole new adventure.”  He rubbed against me slightly, adding, “How long does that take to cook?”

 

I laughed as I sprinkled cheese on the last layer, easily feeling the semi-hardness of his cock against my butt.  “Why?”

 

“I don’t know,” Sam said, kissing my neck again.  “I thought maybe since we’re starting a new adventure, we could also revisit some past adventures.”

 

Feeling the blush rise on my cheeks, my mind instantly flashed back to the first few weeks after we had moved into the house.  The restaurant had been calm and I had been able to take a couple of weeks off to move and get settled.  Sam and I had enjoyed christening each room, the sounds of our pleasure echoing around the quiet house while tables, couches and rugs had been put through the ultimate test.  The memory instantly pulsed down toward my own cock, making it twitch with happy memories. “Hmmm, that might be fun,” I said casually as I took a step back to slide the pan into the waiting oven.  As soon as that was done and the door closed, I twisted around in Sam’s arms, leaning up and kissing him.  I dropped my hand to rest on his growing bulge and whispered, “Any particular place you’d like to show me your tamale?"

 

“Burrito,” he corrected with a mock growl, kissing me hard on the lips.  “It’s big and thick and full, not some little corn wrapped finger food appetizer. You’ll be lucky if you can handle the whole thing.”

 

“A full meal, huh?” I said, moving with him toward the kitchen table.  Grinning, I undid the top button of his pants and raised a challenging eyebrow at him.  “I think you’re going to just have to prove it to me, Sam.”

 

 

Luckily, lasagna is a very forgiving meal and we had plenty of time for Sam to prove to me that he was in fact a burrito, not a tamale, twice before I begged for mercy and admitted he was right.  The oven timer went off as we were sitting together in the family room and I reluctantly slid off Sam’s lap where we had been cuddling and quietly talking to retrieve the pan. 

 

“Let’s eat in the dining room,” he said as he walked into the kitchen with a glance at the kitchen table.

 

I laughed as I noticed his gaze and nodded, “Good idea.  This needs to sit for about 15 minutes before we can eat.”  Grabbing the previously prepared and wrapped loaf of bread now generously spread with garlic and butter, I tossed it into the oven and set the timer with the new setting.  “You want to set the table,” I asked Sam with a smile.  “I can make a salad too if you want.”

 

He shook his head as he walked toward me and hugged me tight.  “We can do it later, right now I just want to hold you.”  I felt him cling to me as I had often clung to him in the past, swaying slightly and slowly relaxing and breathing deeply.  “When I walked in tonight and saw you standing there, happy and cooking and teasing and just looking so amazing, this huge weight just lifted off my shoulders.”

 

“Did you think I wasn’t going to be here or something?” I asked in a low voice, scared he would think that of me.

 

“No, not at all,” he said firmly, squeezing me tight again.  “But you just looked so happy and relaxed and I just knew that things were going to be good and we’re going to be able to put the bad stuff from the last year behind us and move on.”

 

I nodded, feeling tears prickle my eyes as I burred my head into his chest.  “That’s what I was hoping for and selling the restaurant is such a small, small price to pay for that.”

 

“I didn’t want to pressure you,” he whispered.  “I didn’t want to make it seem like you had to choose one or the other.”

 

“You didn’t, I didn’t feel any pressure from you.”  I laughed, adding, “In fact, I wasn’t really that sure how you felt about the whole idea at first.  Pressure isn’t that bad of a thing, you know.”

 

Sam laughed and kissed me again, pulling back and standing up straighter so he could look at me and smiled.  “I love you, I love our relationships and I love that we’re going to get them both settled and how we need them to be.”

 

“Me too.”  Then, feeling the mood on the edge of being too serious and solemn, added, “I bet you’re especially going to love coming home every night to a partner who is willing to be taken and used for your pleasure.”

 

He laughed, kissing me as he ran a hand down my jeans and rested on my butt.  “That’s right, best part about being a Top with such a handsome Brat,” he said with a wolfish grin.  “I’ve always had a fantasy of you coming out to the garage when I get home in just jeans, nothing on underneath and taking you right there on the hood of the car.”

 

Shaking my head, I laughed even as I filed the fantasy away for a future surprise.  “You’re mind is always on sex.” I stepped back with another shake of my head but wasn’t fast enough.

 

Sam reached out and grabbed my arm, pulling me back toward him.  He grinned and brought a hand down to cup my own semi-hard bulge.  Raising an eyebrow, he didn’t say a word but quickly kissed me again as he ran a thumb across the seam of my jeans making my cock twitch and grow slightly with the electric sensation.  “Hmmm…” he muttered as he released me with a laugh.

 

“Hush,” I ordered as I turned to the oven to check the bread.

 

 

The meal was delicious and the atmosphere was exactly what I was hoping for; something special and romantic and very homey, what I felt had been missing as I balanced and juggled what I thought was everything.   We cleaned up the kitchen afterwards, talking and laughing together as Sam washed the pots and I split the lasagna into more manageable slabs for left-overs.  Watching him stand in the kitchen in the old jeans he had changed into, with bare feet and soapy hands scrubbing pots, I couldn’t help but laugh as this unexpected bubble of happiness and contentment filled me.

 

Sam glanced back over his shoulder and smiled.  Wiggling his butt, he said, “I know it’s attractive but it usually doesn’t make you that happy.”

 

I walked up behind him, rubbing an appreciative hand over him before wrapping my arms around him.  “It always does, I just don’t always tell you everything.”

 

“So you’ve been holding out on me, huh?”  He paused before asking, "About things other than how cute my butt is?"

 

Feeling him move beneath my touch, I nodded.   “Yes, sometimes.”

 

He shut off the water, the last pot dripping in the sink rack and turned around to look at me.  Kissing me back, he wrapped his arms around me so we were holding each other tight and said, “Are you going to do that any more?”

 

I shook my head, “No.”

 

“Promise?”

 

Nodding, I smiled and repeated the word.

 

Sam swatted my butt gently but with enough of a sting to get my attention and make me yelp slightly.  “Good, now what’s for dessert?  It’s a nice night; I thought we might sit outside.”

 

 

Dessert was a wonderful chunk of chocolate fudge cake I had picked up at the grocery store’s bakery and we sat outside on the wide porch steps watching the light fade and the first lightening bugs of the season blink on and off over the lawn. Our backyard was wonderfully private and surrounded by trees and bushes and the neighbors on either side of us valued their privacy as much, adding to the protection with their own fences and plantings.

 

“Come here,” Sam ordered softly, spreading his legs and motioning me to the step in front of him.

 

Moving down, I sat between his legs with my back to him and sighed as he began to gently massage my neck and shoulders.  “That feels so good,” I whispered, swaying slightly under his touch.

 

“I bet, you did a lot of work tonight.  I figured you were stiff,” he said easily.  “Tonight was wonderful, Jason.”

 

I grinned at the comment, “Thank you.  I’m glad you liked it.  I wanted it to be good.”

 

“It was excellent,” he said before falling silent again for a moment before continuing.  “I know it’s going to be a transition from working full time, from having a heavy and packed schedule to a more free and flowing one.”

 

Nodding, I said, “Yeah but I’m looking forward to it.”

 

“I am too,” he agreed, “but at the same time, I know it’s going to be an adjustment.  I’ve been giving it some thought and for the next couple of months, I’m going enforce some new rules and be stricter with you then we’ve been in the past.”  His fingers continued their relaxing march across my shoulders and slowly made their way down my spine as he explained his plan.  “We’re going to sit down every Sunday night to make up a weekly To Do list and schedule and we’ll review it every Wednesday and Friday to make sure you’re on track.  I’m going to freeze your pegs for the time being where they are now, which means any attitude or improper behavior will earn you a spanking or paddling as I see fit and I am going to begin giving you a spending allowance for miscellaneous items such as lunch out.  You won’t have to account to me where it goes but you’ll only get a set amount so you’ll need to use it wisely.”  Sam stilled his fingers before leaning down and kissing me on the top of my head, “You're going to get up when I get up in the mornings and we'll go to bed together every night, I think it's too easy to sleep in late and then stay up late at night.  We're a couple and to me, that means we go to bed together."

 

"Do we have to just sleep when we go to bed?" I asked with a grin.

 

Sam snorted and muttered, "As if that would work for you."

 

"Or you!" I shot back, twisting around to smile up at him.

 

He grinned back at me and wiggled his eye brows before tapping me with his legs to turn back around before he continued. "You need and want structure and without set hours and set responsibilities, I think it will make for an easier transition if I’m providing that for you right now.  We'll try this for a few months, make adjustments as needed but I think this will work for both of us."  He paused for a minute, stilling his fingers on my shoulders and asking, "What do you think?"

 

To be perfectly honest about my reactions, part of me cringed at what he was saying while another part sang with joy.  The independent part already felt chaffed and restricted just hearing the word schedule, humiliated at the word allowance and spanking while my more submissive side cheered Sam’s dominance and control.  He was right though, in part.  I know I need structure; I need firm boundaries and guidelines in which to operate.  At the restaurant, I had that – guidelines and a schedule that were set in stone and were unmoved by whatever excuse I tried to throw at it.  In my relationship with Sam, he saw through my bullshit and excuses and called me on my behavior and made me accountable for it, which I needed.   That doesn’t mean I wanted it though.  Needs and wants are often different things and not always compatible.

 

Taking a deep breath as I had when we first started our relationship, I leaned back into him, relaxing as I felt his arms go around me, legs pressing against my sides and nodded.  “It’s your decision, Sam. Whatever you think is best is good with me.  I trust you.”

 

He leaned down and twisted slightly and kissed me on the side of my face, the only part he could reach from his position.

 

Suddenly eager for more, I twisted around on the bottom step, giving him more access to kiss as I kissed him back.  Our tongues fought for space as they explored each other, twisting and darting to tease and dominate the other.   Sam laughed softly as I pushed him back so he was laying flat on his back on the porch while I knelt between his legs.  I grinned down at him, knowing he had showered when he had gone upstairs after we made love in the kitchen before dinner. 

 

"You can never just raise one eyebrow," he said with a grin as both of my eyebrows shot up in more of an expression of surprise rather then a questioning invitation.

 

I slowly ran a finger up his leg and toward the jean's zipper as I made my way to the button.  "Want me to stop and practice?"

 

"No," he said, "it's perfect just the way it is.  It's one of those quirks that only I know about you."  He laughed, squirming slightly as my fingers teased his cock through the material, "Or at least, I better be the only one to have seen that expression with these actions."

 

Smiling up at him, I wiggled my eyebrows again as I popped the button.  "Oh yeah," I said, slowly pulling down the zipper to reveal the hardening flesh peeking out from the white cotton material.  Bending my head down, I gently kissed it and heard Sam suck in his breath.  "Plus, why would I go looking for anything else when I've got perfection right in front of me."

 

Sam started to laugh but was cut off sharply as he sucked in more air as my tongue began to tease him fully. 

 

 

 

Shifting in the bed on Saturday morning, I grinned and bit back a small laugh that threatened to escape me as I replayed last night's actions.  It had been a wonderful evening and it wasn't until I glanced at the bedroom clock around midnight that the implications and reality hit me; I was free. 

 

It was midnight on a Friday night, I was well used, sated and fully satisfied and so was Sam.  There was no rush, there was no hurry, no inner thoughts of getting it finished so I could finally get some sleep before the morning came crashing in again.  Saturday was going to come and it was going to be a beautiful day with nothing on the schedule besides Us to take care of.  I wasn't going to have to leave as the day got started; I wasn't going to stumble home to the mix of feelings of exhaustion, pride, joy, guilt, anger and resentment that had been the constant whirlwind for too long.  But even as I relished that knowledge, part of me was terrified of the seemingly endless nothingness that also stretched before me.  Saturday would come and then what?  And Sunday. And Monday.  All of them bringing with them the question of Then What?  I must have made some noise or Sam simply read my mind because even as my stomach started to clench at the nothingness, he kissed me on the back of the neck.

 

Pulling me closer, he mumbled half asleep, "OK?"

 

His touch and movement pulled me back to our bed and away from the black void.  I nodded in the darkness unsure if he could see me and concentrated on the present and the now, not on tomorrow.

 

As soon as my eyes opened though on Saturday morning, all the feelings of uncertainty came flooding back and I was again struggling to concentrate on the present and not be overwhelmed with the future.  I was happy, that much was very true.  I was also content and very satisfied and at peace with my actions.  My mind refused to simply accept those facts though and insisted on racing along to explore all the Ifs and Unknowns and potential problems.  I must have fallen back asleep because the next thing I knew, Sam was laying light gentle kisses down the length of my spine and the light coming through the window blinds was no longer as bright as the sun moved higher.

 

"I was wondering how low I was going to have to go to get your attention," he said, his voice muffled slightly by the blankets.

 

I laughed, rolling over on my stomach, "Who said I'm awake now?"  I yelped as Sam nipped at one butt check and jerked.  "OK, I'm up if that's what you're going to be doing down there!"

 

He laughed again and emerged from under the blankets, leaning on one crooked arm and looked at me.  "Last night was amazing," he said as he stroked my bare back.

 

Turning my head so I was looking at him, I smiled and nodded.  "It was," I agreed and stretched slightly, again feeling muscle twinges causing me to blush.  "I can still feel you."

 

Sam gave a very boastful and proud grin.  "Good," he said in a smug voice and I could tell he was very pleased with himself.

 

Lunging out, I knocked his arm out from him and pushed him on his back before I settled on top of him.  "You're just so proud of yourself, huh? The primal instincts just rear their head and you just feel like you've got to mark your territory, right?"

 

He grinned up at me and gave my butt a gentle tap as his smile widened.  "Something like that," he agreed.

 

I laughed and shook my head even as I spread my legs wider to give his fingers better access and to rub our two cocks together.  "Well, guess what?  I'm a guy too and I've got the same instincts." Moving up slightly, I bent my head low and locked on to his neck, kissing and sucking at the soft flesh while he squirmed underneath me.  I felt his arms around my waist as his cock hardened against mine but he never made to throw me off.  A moment later, I looked up and grinned at my handy work.  "There, much better."  I laughed and rolled off him even as he made a grab for me.  "Come on, I'm starving.  You wore me out last night and I need food."

 

Sam flopped back onto the bed, "You're the chef, why don't you go whip something up and serve me breakfast in bed?"

 

I snorted as I began to dig through my dresser drawer for underwear, "Guess again.  This chef is retired or at least on vacation.  I'm thinking donuts."

 

"That sounds good," Sam agreed as he got out of bed.  "We can go down to the new place and get a half dozen to go."  Reaching out as I started to slip on my briefs, he tapped my arm and shook his head before saying, "No."

 

"No what?" I asked, confused.

 

Nodding toward my briefs, he said in a firm voice, "No underwear, go commando for me."

 

I blushed and laughed.  "Are you serious? I can't do that!"

 

"Why not? Who's going to know?  We're just going to go get donuts and come back here."  He walked over to one of the chairs we draped clothes on and tossed me the jeans I was wearing yesterday.  "Here you go, put those on."

 

"Sam…" I started, embarrassment and uncertainty warring inside of me.  Part of me was still convinced he was kidding. He'd never gone commando, at least not that I'd known of and he'd never requested that I do it.  I'd done it years ago occasionally but not since he and I had been together.

 

Sam reached out and stroked my bare butt, sending little sparks of electricity through my skin and making me squirm.  "Are you going to disobey me already, Brat?"  His voice was low and firm as he spoke and he locked eyes with me, one eye brow raised in an expression he knows drives me crazy.

 

I grinned back at him even as my stomach gave a little flip and I shook my head.  "Of course not." I said softly, stepping out of the briefs before bending over and picking them up to put back in the drawer.

 

"Good," he said as he again patted my butt.

 

I was carefully zipping up my jeans as I saw him examining his neck in the bathroom mirror.  Laughing, I came up behind him and nodded.  "I think it looks good."

 

He laughed and shook his head as he slipped on a turtleneck.  "I haven't had a hicky since like High School, Jason."

 

"Well," I said casually with a shrug, "you mark your way, I mark my way."

 

Sam laughed again and made a grab for me but I was too fast and danced out of his way.

 

"No," I ordered, "no more marking until I get some food.  I'm starving."  Turning around, I walked out of the bathroom and toward the stairs.  The teasing and laughing filled my mind, focusing me on this morning and today and keeping me safe from the looming Unknown.

 

The rest of the weekend followed the pattern set by Saturday morning.  We ran to the donut place and brought the pastries back to the house where we curled up together on the sofa eating and watching the morning news and reading the paper.  The weather was good, not too warm for June, and we spent the afternoons together in the hammock stretched between two trees in the backyard.  We were like newlyweds in a sense but with the added advantage of knowing each other's hot buttons, pleasure points and special tricks to turn each other into a quivering mass of pleasure.  The usual household chores were put off until Monday when I would take care of them, leaving the weekends free for us to spend time together. 

 

I guess the first small drops of reality came down Sunday evening.  I was standing at the stove browning bacon while Sam sat at the kitchen table grating Swiss cheese for the quiche we were going to have for dinner that night. 

 

“Have you given any thought to what sort of schedule you’d like for the week?” Sam asked casually.

 

I glanced up from the pan with a frown.  I had honestly been trying to avoid even thinking about schedules and the upcoming week all weekend.  Shaking my head, I said, “No, not really.  There’s a bunch of stuff I’ve been wanting to do around here and just in general but I haven’t really given it much thought.”

 

“What sort of things?” he asked as he shook the grater clean, trying to judge how much more cheese he should grate. 

 

“That looks like plenty,” I said, nodding at the pile as I stalled for time. 

 

“What sort of things?” Sam repeated, turning his chair slightly so he was looking at me.

 

I shrugged, “I don’t know really.  The laundry room cabinets need to be repainted and cleaned out.  The linen closet is a disaster area, we don’t even know half the sheets we’ve got in there and matching up pillow cases and everything.”

 

Sam laughed, “If you’d stop buying sheets, that wouldn’t be such a problem.”

 

Laughing, I rolled my eyes at him, “I’ll be sure to remind you of that next time we’re at Target and you see some you just have to have.”  I studied the bacon for another second before spooning it out on top of a paper towel to drain before adding the onions to the bacon fat.  “I don’t know really what else, those are just things I know we’ve been meaning to do for awhile now and just haven’t gotten around to it.”

 

He nodded, “Those are all good projects and I think maybe you can tackle one a week.”

 

“It’s not going to take a week to clean out the linen closet,” I said.  “Maybe a couple of hours, at most.”

 

Getting up, Sam brought his shredded cheese to me and then kissed me.  “Not if you do it right.”

 

I made a face, “Are you implying that I wouldn’t do it right?”

 

“No, not at all.  I’m just saying if you’re going to go through the hassle of pulling everything out, you might as well repaper the shelves, wash everything that hasn’t been washed in awhile and paint the inside and the underside of the shelves too before organizing and restacking everything.”

 

Turning, I stared at him for a moment.  “Are you insane or just enjoying making extra work for me?” I asked in a sarcastic voice.  “Clean out the closet doesn’t have to include paper and painting everything and washing everything.  It just means you pull everything out and put it back in neatly and that doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong.”  I was stunned and annoyed at his suggestion and could quickly see my two hour project turn into an all week one just to satisfy Sam’s obsessive nature.  I didn’t know what else I was going to do next week but I knew what I didn’t want to be stuck doing.  “I’m not doing it; you’ll be lucky if I clean it out and restack everything.  You should be grateful for that and not push your luck.”

 

Sam frowned and shook his head, “Why are you against doing it my way?”

 

“Because it’ll take forever,” I shot back, “that’s why!”

 

“And what else are you going to be doing next week?”

 

I turned back around to hide my face, refusing to answer him.

 

“Look at me, please,” he said quietly.

 

Even though his voice was soft, I could easily hear the firm tone behind the words and knew that it was more an order then a request.  Turning around, I met his gaze.  “My onions will burn if I don’t stir them,” I said firmly.

 

Reaching over, he flipped the stove off, “I think they’ll keep a few minutes.”  He held out his hand, “Come here, Jay.”

 

I reluctantly took it and allowed him to pull me into a comforting embrace.  Wrapping my arms around him, I laid my head on his chest and sighed.  “Sorry,” I said a moment later.

 

“For what?” he asked.

 

“For losing my temper and snapping at you and being sarcastic,” I said.  “I know you’re not insane and I know what you’re saying.”

 

Sam laughed, kissing me quickly on the hair and stroking my back, “I hear a ‘but’ in that sentence.”

 

I laughed too, “But it just seems like it will take so long to do it your way.”  I hated the whine in my voice and felt a bit like a kid trying to get out of extra chores.

 

“It will take a bit more time than just taking everything out and putting it away again neater,” he admitted.  “But don’t you think it’s worth doing the job right in the first place?  You wouldn’t spend all the time making a salad and then not go the extra step to put it on clean plates, would you?”

 

I laughed again, “No, the health department would frown on step saving actions like that.”

 

“I’d hope so,” he agreed, swaying slightly back and forth as he held me close.  “My point is that finally projects can be done correctly.  You have all week and it doesn’t have to be this week.  You can tackle this next week or the week after, all I’m saying is that when you do decide to clean out the linen closet, let’s do it correctly and thoroughly.  You’ve got the time now.”  He kissed me again, “You know what I’m saying, Jason?”

 

Nodding, I held him tightly and knew he was right.  There wasn’t a rush any more, so what if the project took ten hours instead of two?  The shelves could stand to be repapered and the inside could stand a fresh coat of paint, we hadn’t done either when we bought the house so who knew when it had been done last.  “I don’t want to just do household chores,” I said softly.  “I want to do fun things too.”

 

“You can do plenty of fun things,” Sam agreed.  “You mentioned this project and I agreed it was a great one.  When we sit down and write up your schedule tonight after dinner, put down something fun for you to do or we’ll just block out time and you can fill it however you want.”  He kissed me again, reaching down and stroking my check.  “How does that sound?”

 

Leaning into his touch, I closed my eyes and nodded.  “OK,” I said softly, suddenly no longer caring about dinner and wanting nothing more than to curl up together and be held.

 

Sam held me for another moment before saying, “See how easy this was to deal with without the sarcasm and rude comments?  You have concerns and opinions and ideas on how you want to do things and spend your days and I’m more than willing to listen to them and work for a compromise.”

 

I nodded, knowing he was right and knowing I had overreacted to a simple conversation.  Sam was rarely unreasonable and if I could present a good argument to support my reasoning if it was different than his, he would often agree and he always listened and considered it before deciding.

 

Giving me a tight hug, Sam kissed me before releasing me a bit so he could look at me and nodded.  “Go into the office then so we can deal with this before dinner.”

 

My stomach twisted slightly at his words and I couldn’t stop the protest that popped out. “Sam! That’s not fair, it wasn’t that big of a deal. I said I was sorry.”

 

Still holding me, Sam nodded and said, “I know but I do consider it a big deal right now.  I told you on Friday that I was going to be stricter with you and I meant that.”  He met my gaze as he continued in a calm but firm voice, “This was a simple conversation about a project and how I think it should be done.  You escalated it into a confrontation and started making demands about what I could do and what you would not be doing and how I’d be lucky if you did it at all.”

 

I dropped my gaze, my words coming back to me and knowing how he felt about demands like that.

 

“That’s not how we deal with discussions, is it?”

 

“No,” I said softly.

 

Sam nodded and kissed me gently.  “No, we don’t so we’re going to go into the office and I’m going to spank you for it.”

 

My stomach twisted again slightly and I felt a flare of embarrassment go through me at the bluntness of his words.  Following him into the office, I swallowed hard as he shut the door and pulled the straight back chair we used away from the wall where it normally sat.  Sam’s calm and matter of fact attitude about this left me a tangle of emotions.  He could act like this was perfectly normal and, I guess in a way it was.  This was the type of relationship we had agreed to and that we both wanted and in a Discipline Partnership, it wasn’t unusual or weird for spankings to occur.  Thinking of our friends who were in similar relationships, I wouldn’t have been at all surprised to find out that one of them was also spanked this weekend for something.    But, at the same time, for all the comfort I found in it, I was also slightly embarrassed by it.  I’m not sure if I was embarrassed by needing and wanting this kind of relationship, or maybe that I had done something that required my partner to spank me or something totally different that I hadn’t figured out yet.  I slipped off my jeans as I mulled it over and slowly walked over to Sam.

 

He held out his hand for me and gave it a comforting squeeze before pulling me over his lap.  “Discussions don’t have to be challenges,” he lectured calmly as he pulled my briefs down to expose my butt.  “They’re a time to talk and exchange ideas not to make threats and demands.”

 

Wiggling slightly, feeling very much exposed as he rested his hand on my butt, I swallowed.  “Yeah,” I agreed.  “I’m sorry.”

 

“I am always interested in your opinion and your thoughts,” he continued, “and I want you to feel free to tell me what those are.  But I will not allow you to dictate to me in this relationship; that’s not your place and that’s not up for discussion.  If you can’t separate discuss from dictate, then we’ll stop discussing your actions and I’ll simply tell you what to do.”

 

To be honest, his words sent shivers through me and part of me felt like crying at the threat.  Another part of me though loved hearing them, loved the matter of fact calm tone and the absoluteness of his words.  It wasn’t my place in our relationship to dictate to Sam and I didn’t want it to be my place.  I wanted him say exactly what he did and to enforce exactly what he was saying and to react exactly as he was doing now.  I didn't want to be spanked but I did want him to enforce our rules however he saw fit.  I nodded silently in agreement to his words and I felt him stroke my hair in acknowledgement.

 

He raised his hand and brought it down sharply across my butt making me gasp and squirm slightly.  He repeated the action over and over, distributing the hard stinging swats across my butt and turning the area a light shade of red.

 

I was crying by the time he was finished but, in all honesty, it wasn’t that hard or long of a spanking.  My butt was sore as I slid off his lap but I think my tears were more of an emotional release then a reaction to horrible pain. 

 

“Come here,” Sam directed me softly as he led me over to the sofa and settled me down on his lap.  “You’re OK,” he whispered.

 

Nodding, I wrapped my arms around him and rested my head on his shoulder and cried.  I’m not sure exactly why I was crying so much, it wasn’t loud gasping sobs like after some paddlings but I also wasn’t able to stop the tears either.  The spanking wasn’t delivered to inflict pain but more to remind me of my place in the relationship and Sam’s place.  My butt hurt, my nose was stuffy but at the same time I felt loved and cared for and totally secure as Sam held me.  Over the previous six months, I had received plenty of spankings and paddlings for breaking our rules as I tried to balance everything but few had touched me or left me feeling as vulnerable, cared for and peaceful as much as this relatively short and simple spanking had. I relaxed against him as my tears tapered off and I felt Sam kiss me lightly as he held me close.

 

“Better?” he asked in a quiet voice.

 

I nodded and sniffled but didn’t say anything as I floated in the air of peace and calm and security Sam had given me.

 

Ten minutes later, Sam kissed me again and gave me a squeeze.  "Ready to get up?" he asked softly.

 

Nodding, I sighed as I stood up and reached for my jeans that I had laid on the desk.  My butt was sore and my nose still felt stuffy but I had certainly received worse spankings from him before.  "I'm sorry I was rude," I said as I slipped on my jeans.

 

Sam smiled, "I know, it's OK.  We talked about it and we both cleared the air and there's no reason for this to interrupt our evening."  He held out his hand for me as he opened the door with the other one, "Besides which, I'm hungry."

 

Taking his hand, I kissed him and allowed myself to be drawn in close and led into the hall.  As the rich smells of butter, onions and bacon hit us from the kitchen, my stomach growled a second later and we both laughed.

 

"I'll take that as a confirmation that you are too."

 

"Yeah," I said quietly as we walked back into the kitchen.  The onions had cooled in the pan but hadn't been ruined at all by the delay.  I checked my pie crust and saw that it had softened perfectly and was ready to be placed into the dish.  It always seemed slightly surreal to me to be in the middle of something and to be punished for something and then afterwards pick back up with what we were doing before, as if nothing had happened.  As I cracked the eggs into a bowl, I suddenly pictured the old Disney cartoon of Sleeping Beauty, where the whole castle is frozen in place and wake up once the spell is broken as if no time had passed.  But, my mind argued with itself, my relationship does happen in real time and is on 24/7 and it's not just a brief Out of Time occurrence.  It's interwoven through every interaction I have with Sam, how I conduct myself even when we're not together and simply who I am.

 

"I'll be right back," Sam said as I resumed my cooking, jarring me from my thoughts.

 

"OK," I said as he disappeared back down the hall.  The surreal feeling had vanished as I took a deep breath and concentrated on measuring the cream.  My butt hurt and felt sore underneath my jeans and part of me want to simply curl up on Sam and be petted and loved and not have to deal with the realities of every day life.  Reality loomed large, scary and dark in front of me and I wasn’t sure how I felt facing it.  I’d been lucky over the course of my life and had always had a fairly well mapped out plan for myself.  School, part time job, college, part time job, internships, traveling to learn different cooking techniques with a wonderful mentor, jobs and then taking the plunge into my own restaurant.  Even that plunge wasn’t risky or unknown.  I had done my homework, lined up professional help and worked out a business plan that would make a business major proud.  Sure, it could have failed as many well-thought out new restaurants did but the thought never really crossed my mind as a possible Reality.  Even my relationship with Sam had been carefully thought out and explored, meeting and filling our needs so we meshed together perfectly.  Up until this point, my reality had been sure and solid and well planned.  Now, it was unknown and looming large in front of me and I felt totally adrift.  Bending over to read the temperature, my jeans tightened over my butt and made me wince.  The pain instantly reminded me that I wasn’t alone and I wasn’t adrift.  Straightening up, I took a deep breath trying to once again focus my mind on the present and the lesson that Sam was teaching me and clear away the shadows.  I might not have a plan, my reality might not be mapped out but I had a lover and a life partner who was right beside me who did and all I needed to do was trust him and embrace my role as his partner and Brat and it would all work out.

 

“What are you smiling about?” Sam asked as he came up behind me.  Hugging me, he ran a gentle hand over my butt, giving it a possessive pat.  “How’s this feeling?”

 

Leaning back into his touch, I nodded, “It’s OK.  Sore but it was well deserved.  I was just smiling just because I’m not alone and it doesn’t matter if I don’t have a plan because you do and I trust you.”

 

He patted my butt again before kissing me.  “You’re right, you’re not alone and I do have a plan for us that I know will be great if we work on it together.”  He peered over my shoulder.  “Is that almost ready to put in?”

 

I nodded, “Yeah, I was just checking the temp of the oven.”

 

“Good, why don’t you go ahead and put it in and we’ll look at your schedule,” he said releasing me and walking back to the kitchen table where he put the legal pad he had fetched down.

 

Carefully sitting down a moment later, I looked at the pad where Sam had written in clear columns and rows time periods and the days of the week.  “You’re so organized,” I said with a grin.

 

He grinned back and shrugged, “Makes things easier.” Turning serious as he moved another chair so he was sitting next to me, he continued, “This is the schedule I’ve come up with for the next week.  Let’s read it over together and you can take notes and we can talk about any adjustments that you think might be called for.”

 

“I thought I was going to get to make up my own,” I said, hearing a bit of resentment creep into my voice.  Responsible chef and restaurant owner to someone who can’t do their own schedule in two short weeks, I thought as I frowned slightly.

 

Sam nodded, “I thought about it Jason but decided that for the first couple of weeks, I’d do it and then, depending on how things are going, you can start controlling it more.”  He looked at me for a moment as if waiting for me to say something or argue before continuing, “I’m interested in your opinion and I’m willing to discuss it, but like I said in the office, it needs to be a discussion and not a dictating on your part.”

 

“Ok,” I said as I took a deep breath and studied the paper in front of me.  A moment later, I smiled, looking up and laughed, “This isn’t bad at all.”

 

He smiled and shook his head, “What did you picture? Slave labor?  If I wanted that, we’d hire a maid.”

 

I smiled, nudging him with my foot and gave an embarrassed shrug, “I didn’t know what to expect.”

 

“It’s OK but let’s take it from the beginning and make sure that you’re clear on everything.”  He looked down at the paper and pointed to the first row, 6am.  “Like I told you on Friday, you’re going to get up with me in the morning, take a shower, get dressed, your normal morning routine and we’ll have breakfast together.”

 

“We don’t do that now,” I said, not relishing the idea of early mornings.

 

Sam nodded, “I know and that’s going to change.  I think it’s important to eat together and start the morning off together.”  His voice was casual and even but did nothing to disguise the firm and matter of fact way in which he expressed his views.  There was no doubt in my mind that there was nothing to discuss and he was set in his opinion of on the matter.  “After breakfast and after I leave, you can clean up breakfast dishes and make sure the kitchen is tidy.”  He tapped the schedule and the next row labeled 9am and one further down labeled 3pm.  “I’ve left plenty of time for you to read the paper, do emails if you want, whatever you’d like until 9.  At 9 and 3, I’ve assigned specific chores to be taken care of during the week.”

 

I read across the row and saw something different assigned for each day.  Laughing, I pointed out tomorrow’s 9am chore.  “The library,” I asked with a grin, “my chore is to go to the library?”

 

He smiled, “What does it say?”

 

“Go to library and check out 2 books for pleasure reading.”  I laughed, instantly flashing back to the library books that I had checked out over the years that had been mostly left unread because of lack of time.  “That’s great,” I said with a smile.

 

“It goes with 1:30,” he said as he pointed to the paper.

 

Reading it, I instantly made a face and started to protest.  The words froze on my lips and my mouth shut as I saw Sam raise an eyebrow at me.

 

“Before you say a word, let me tell you this is not up for discussion Jason,” he said firmly.

 

“But naps are for kids,” I said, the words coming out harsher then I had intended.

 

Shaking his head, he said, “No, they’re a good way to relax.  I don’t say you have to sleep, I say you need to undress and lay down in bed for an hour.  You can read if you want, you can lay there and stare at the ceiling, it’s all the same to me.  You can use the extra sleep for sure.”

 

“But I won’t be so tired since I’m not working,” I said as if stating the obvious to an idiot.  In this case, the idiot was me.  This item should come as no surprise to me. Sam loved taking a nap on Saturday and Sunday afternoons and believed that they were a great way to refresh the mind and spirit. And, usually, I loved joining him even if I didn’t believe in them as much as he did.  I just loved the sex that usually accompanied such daytime breaks.  Even as my schedule got more hectic and Saturday and Sunday afternoon naps turned from sex to actual sleep to rest up for the upcoming dinner rush, I still loved spending that quiet time with him in the cool dim light of our bedroom.  But it was a much different story when I’d be spending the time alone and not curled up with my lover.

 

Sam shook his head, “Drop it Jason.  As I said, this isn’t up for discussion.  This is set in stone for at least the next month.  If you get up with the alarm every morning, aren’t tired or cranky in the evening and I think you look more rested, I might change my mind.  Until then, this is a rule.”  He tapped the paper, “Is that clear?”

 

I nodded hearing the unspoken words and consequences in his tone but still unable to resist adding my own bit of independence.  “And you said we can talk about it in a month, right?”

 

He shook his head, “No, I said that I might change my mind.  This is not going to be up for discussion.”  Pointing to the paper, he said, “What’s next?”

 

“Lunch at noon,” I read, “and then more chores from 3 until 4:30 and then nothing.”

 

Laughing, he leaned over and kissed me, “I thought that was a full enough day.  I’m also going to make a point of leaving the office at 4 so I should be home by 4:30 or 5 on most days.  When I get home, we can go for a run or work outside or do something or …”  His voice trailed off as he shifted in his seat, hand going and resting on my cock, and he grinned at me.

 

I looked at him for a moment before giving a small grin as I glanced at the timer on the oven.  “You want to show me exactly what you mean by that? You know, in the spirit of being thorough and everything?”

 

Sam laughed, giving my cock another loving stroke before he reluctantly withdrew it, “Tonight, I promise I’ll be very thorough with you.  But right now, I think we should finish this up and make sure we’re on the same page about expectations and how you’re going to spend your week.”

 

“Ok,” I said reluctantly, shifting toward him as I sighed. 

 

“Come here,” he said, pushing back from the table and urging me over so I was sitting on his lap with his arms around me.

 

Feeling slightly foolish, I squirmed and mumbled, “Sam…”

 

“What?” he asked, twisting so he could look at me.

 

I squirmed again, causing Sam to laugh as I unintentionally rubbed myself against his cock.  “I feel stupid sitting on your lap.”

 

“Why?”

 

“Because,” I protested, laughing.  “We’re in the kitchen!”

 

“So?”

 

I laughed again, suddenly not sure why I felt stupid.   God knows we’d been in more intimate positions in the kitchen and at this table and it wasn’t like there was anyone else here and honestly, it felt good to be so close and to be held by him.  “I don’t know,” I admitted.

 

“Well, it can’t be that important then.  And since I don’t see anything wrong with it, and I’m the boss,” he said with a laugh as he kissed me again, “I think you should stay right here.  Shifting slightly, he turned more serious as he continued, “I left this part open,” pointing to a line at the bottom that read Groceries.  “Do you want to keep doing them together on Sunday mornings or do you want to do them by yourself during the week some time?”

 

Thinking for a minute, I shrugged, not relishing the idea of another early morning but not wanting to give up something I enjoyed doing with Sam.  “I don’t know really.  What do you think?”

 

He shrugged too and laughed.  “I don’t know either.  It’s been something we’ve always done together but we can do other things together not just grocery shopping.”

 

“Can we maybe say that I’ll do it alone on Monday but if I don’t like it doing it by myself or if you don’t like missing it, we can switch back in a few weeks?” I asked.

 

“That sounds like an excellent idea.  Do you want to be in charge of the menu for the week and everything?”

 

I grinned and laughed, “Sure, no problem.  It’s what June would have done, right?”

 

Sam must have noticed the bit of edge that crept into my voice with those words because he kissed me and said, “Well, since you’re Jason, not June, I don’t think those rules really apply.”

 

“Just your rules, huh?” I said softly, leaning back into him, loving how his arms felt around me.

 

He kissed me again, “That’s right and I don’t have a rule that says you must do all the cooking or cleaning here.”

 

“Good.  So what else is there?” I asked looking at the sheet and instantly spying the money.  I made a face and twisted around slightly so I could look at him.  “Were you serious about an allowance? I’m not a kid and god knows we have enough money.”

 

“I know you’re not a kid and let’s not call it an allowance then since that seems to be a loaded word,” Sam said calmly as he scratched out the word with his pen.  “Let’s call it a budget, that’s much better.”

 

I snorted, “It’s the same thing basically.”

 

“That might be the case, but regardless, we’re going to have one.  I think $20 a week is more than fair for lunches out, CDs, movies and whatever other little things you want to buy,” he said.  “You can still use your credit card for gas, big items, stuff that’s for the house or for both of us I don’t expect you to use your money on, of course but nothing else.  You have cash for everything else and that’s it.”

 

“Of course not,” I muttered.

 

Sam kissed me as his voice took on a firm tone, “Don’t start Jason.  We’re going to try this and if it’s too little, we can talk about it and I’ll adjust it accordingly.”  He paused, “But you probably don’t spend that much now so I doubt it will be a problem.”

 

“But that’s because I didn’t do anything before.  I usually ate at the restaurant or here and rarely went out with anyone but you for lunch so there wasn’t anything to spend money on.”

 

He laughed, “So this will be a treat then.”  Tickling me gently against my ribs, he nibbled on my neck.

 

Squirming against his grip, I laughed and tried to escape.  “Stop!” I ordered.

 

“So bossy,” he said as he tickled me again and laughed as I squirmed, trying to escape his fingers. 

 

“So dominate,” I shot back between very unmanly giggles as his fingers reached the sensitive skin of my sides.

 

Sam nibbled at my neck, “That’s right but you know you love it.”

 

I smiled, leaning my head to the side and exposing more of my neck to him in a primal submissive pose.  “You know me too well.”

 

Quiche isn’t as forgiving as lasagna when it comes to being ignored while the cook is occupied elsewhere. So, giving in to the insistent beeping from the oven, we reluctantly got up from the table, panting lightly, clothes and hair slightly messed and smiling broadly.

 

 

Later that night, I laid awake in the darkness, still floating gently in the aftermath of Sam’s very thorough and gentle explanation of his expectations for what would occur when he returned from work in the early evenings and what my role would be, and my mind for some reason jumped back to the night months ago in the office where Sam had thoroughly dominated my body and I had willingly submitted.  I’m not sure why I thought of that night and his actions and my reactions then because it wasn’t something that had been weighing on my mind or haunting my dreams at all.  I think, looking back on my actions and words that night, before he took me into the office, I was in a way asking him to do something, to step in and to be the Top in the relationship.  I was asking him to take me in hand, to make me submit to him, to do more than just talk to me and disapprove and more then just cause me pain.  Pain, while not something I enjoy or would call remotely pleasant, is something that can be endured, can be gotten through.  Typically, when Sam is physically punishing me, I make an effort to not simply endure it or grit my teeth and get through it because that would defeat the purpose.  It’s like I embrace being spanked or paddled, submitting to his rule and control, I allow myself to feel the punishment, to feel Sam’s displeasure at my actions and remind myself why I want to follow his rules, follow the rules of our relationship and to avoid repeating the mistake I just did.  That night and probably the weeks prior to it, I don’t think I was in the frame of mind that would have allowed me to willingly submit myself to him.  I was fighting our relationship too much, even if that fight was mostly internal and subconscious.  That night, I think it came to a head and he finally picked up on the internal war I was battling and did exactly what I needed – he made me submit to him. 

 

“Sam,” I whispered in the darkness.

 

“What?” he whispered back, shifting against me as his arms tightened around my waist.

 

I paused, suddenly embarrassed at what I wanted to say and suddenly unsure of exactly what words I should use.

 

“Hmmm?” he said as he pulled me closer, kissing the back of my neck lightly.  “What’s wrong?”

 

“Nothing,” I said quietly.  “I was just thinking about the night in your office months ago.”  My voice faltered a bit as I struggled to find the words and finally gave up and decided to just say what was on my mind.  “You know what night I mean? You know, when you fucked me over the desk?”

 

Sam seemed to hold his breath for a moment before saying, “Yeah, I remember.”

 

“Where did you get the idea to do that?” I asked, chickening out of what I really wanted to say.  “Did you just come up with it or did Josh tell you about it or something?”

 

He gave a short almost embarrassed laugh, shifting again in bed, “I actually read several articles about it or similar actions. They talked about how sometimes it’s an excellent and very efficient way to establish control, remind the sub or Brat or whatever exactly who is in charge and can be an effective not punishment as much as .. I guess a reminder.”  Sam paused, “Why? Do you want to talk about it? I know you cried at the time but afterwards, you seemed fine and much more peaceful than earlier.  I remember your behavior improved at least.”

 

I shook my head in the darkness and then took a deep breath and rolled over, twisting in his arms, so that I was facing him.  Stretching up, I kissed him briefly but lovingly on the lips before moving back down so my head rested on his chest.  “No, nothing really to talk about, I'm fine with it.  I just wanted to say thank you, it was exactly what I needed.”  I paused for a second before continuing, “I wasn’t sure if I said thank you that night or told you how perfect it was, how much I really needed you that night and how what you did was perfect.  It really focused my mind and made me do what I wanted to do but couldn’t make myself do so you made me do it and I really needed that.  I just wanted to make sure you knew that.”  I buried my face in his chest, totally aware I was babbling and probably making no sense.  It had sounded so good in my head, the emotions so clear but it came out of my mouth in a mindless jumble that couldn’t come close to conveying how I felt.

 

Sam leaned down and kissed the top of my head.  “You’re welcome, babe.  It was very good for me too and exactly what I needed then too.”  He dropped a hand from my back to my butt and gave it a gentle squeeze.  “I might not be perfect or be able to read your mind all the time but I do try to give you what you need, even if you don’t know what that is.”  He kissed me again and then said, “Go to sleep, it’s late.  I’ve got you though and I’m not letting go.”

 

“I’ve got you too,” I said softly, kissing his chest in front of me.  “And I’m not letting go either.” I smiled and closed my eyes as Sam laughed softly.  Relaxing against him, I drifted off to sleep feeling secure that everything would turn out perfectly.

 

 

I’d like to say that when the alarm went off the next morning, I was wide awake and eager to fix Sam breakfast with a smile on my face and then cheerfully, passionately and understandingly kiss him good bye as he headed off to a hard day’s work.  But, I have to be honest and say that even though I fixed breakfast and kissed him good bye, it was hard to drag myself out of bed a little after 6 and I hit the snooze button at least twice before my morning-person of a lover swatted me across the butt and told me to stop.  I hate mornings that start before 9am; 10am is even better.

 

But by the time he came down to breakfast, I was in a better mood and wide awake thanks to my shower. Dressed in my jeans and t-shirt and bare feet, I don’t think I looked anything like June even as I caught myself whistling as I flipped over the omelet I had made for us.  It was a great breakfast and it was only with the smallest of twinges that I kissed him good-bye in the garage and waved as he pulled out.  Saying good bye and parting ways in the morning wasn’t that unusual or different, of course.  We’d always been your traditional two-career couple, until now.  The thought hit me as I went back into the house and began to clean up the kitchen and get started on my day that for the first time in as long as I could remember, didn’t involve my or any other restaurant.  Pushing those feeling aside, I took a deep breath and smiled as I worked on convincing myself that my new freedom and new role was a Good Thing.

 

That afternoon, when Sam came home as promised around 4:30, I had managed to convince myself that everything was going to be good.  I had actually enjoyed running errands and cleaning up the house and having the day to myself.  Browsing at the library had taken me 45 minutes as I wandered the stacks and the carts of new books before I finally settled on two for myself and an unabridged Book on CD for Sam to listen to during his commute.  It was actually sort of fun not to worry about anything that wasn’t on my To Do list and to focus on dinner for two instead of 62.

 

Peering into the oven to check the sheet of chocolate chip cookies I was baking, I heard the garage door open as Sam pulled in and I felt my heart leap with an unexpected excitement.  It was a feeling I hadn’t had since we first moved in together.  There was no edge of annoyance with him interrupting my little private time or flash of impatience that he was running late and messing up my schedule or apprehension as I braced for telling him that something had come up and I was going to be leaving in a few minutes.  There was just happiness and excitement at seeing him after being apart for almost ten hours and the eagerness of pride in sharing with him what I had done that day.

 

“Hi Honey!” he called out as he stepped into the house, “I’m home.”

 

I laughed as I turned around with a shake of my head, “You know, I just knew you were going to say that.”  I smiled at him as it rapidly turned into a broad grin as he grinned back. 

 

“You know me too well and that’s …,” he said coming over and kissing me.  His words died off as he spied the cookies and I was quickly forgotten as he reached for one.  “Wow, these smell great.  Just what I needed after work today.”

 

“That’s right,” I said with a laugh as I reached for a couple more from the cooling racks, handing him a second.  “Don’t ask me how my day was or anything, just start eating my cookies.”

 

“Cookies!” he said in feeble attempt to imitate the Cookie Monster, as he devoured his second cookie in three bites.

 

I laughed, kissing him again, “You’re too funny, you know that?”

 

“That’s why you keep me, huh? Not to mention feeding me cookies all the time.”

 

“Yep,” I said, “you’ve got me all figured out.  I keep you around because you’re funny and I’m trying to make you fat so that no other gay guy will want you.” I patted his flat stomach and laughed, adding, “I think I better step up my baking.”

 

Sam laughed, scooping up several more cookies from the rack and then kissed me again.  “Come on, let’s sit outside and you can tell me all about your day. I can’t wait to hear how it went and what you did.”

 

Swiping a couple more cookies for myself, knowing full well that Sam wouldn’t share his stash, I followed him out onto the porch, eager to share my day with my lover.

 

 

 

By Wednesday morning, our routine was much better established and I was able to get up after only hitting the snooze button once, a wonderful accomplishment in my opinion and an acceptable one in Sam’s.  It was still a struggle though and I rarely allowed myself to delve too deeply into my thoughts.  I could still feel the Nothingness looming dark and empty on the sidelines and I wasn’t sure how to make it go away.  But, for right now, this week, today, one day at a time, I was putting my full concentration into our home, Sam and our relationship. 

 

Later that evening as Sam finished cleaning the kitchen, I got my To Do list from my desk in one of the guest bedrooms and carried it down to him.

 

“Here you go,” I said, smiling and feeling more then slightly foolish over my pride in my neatly checked off accomplishments.

 

Wiping his hands dry on the kitchen towel before hanging it back up on the bar on the stove, Sam took the legal pad of paper and smiled.  “You’ve been busy,” he said glancing at it.

 

I nodded and shrugged, “Not really, just doing what’s on my list.  I haven’t felt too busy or anything.”

 

“Good,” Sam said with another nod as he opened the door to the porch.

 

Following him onto the porch and its swing in what was becoming a fast after dinner habit, I said, “Yeah, I think it’s gone really well.”


He nodded, sitting down on the swing and holding out his arm for me to curl up under.  “I’m really proud of how well you’ve done this week,” he said.

 

I have to admit, I felt a stupid rush of pleasure at his words and I grinned, chuckling slightly.  “Gee, honey, did you think I was going to fall apart into a sobbing mess after being off work?  It hasn’t even been a week yet, there’s no telling what will happen when we hit a month.  You might be concerned about coming home.”

 

Kissing me loudly on the top of the head, he bopped me on the arm, “Never and don’t be silly.”

 

“A silly goose?” I asked, laughing that turned into a yelp as his left hand came up around as he twisted and began to tickle me.  Falling onto my side so that my head was resting on his lap, I brought my feet up so I was laying like a shrimp, curled up on my side with my head cradled in his lap.  I sighed as he brushed my hair off my face.

 

“Well,” he said softly, “at least you’re my silly goose.”

 

“It does seem strange though Sam, you know?” I asked softly.  “It’s like I’m on vacation but I’m not.”

 

“No, you’re not.”  He stroked my hair a bit and gently rocked the swing for a moment before continuing, “This is real life and a real relationship and we’re real and all the problems and issues and great things that go along with that.”

 

I smiled, kissing his leg before I said, “No vacation could be better.”

 

Sam laughed, leaning down and kissing me before he resumed his gentle stroking, “I don’t know, that trip to Mexico was pretty great.  Remember that room?”

 

“Oh my god,” I said with a laugh, feeling the blush rise on my face as I sat up to look at him.  “And the hot tub and our own private deck?”

 

He grinned, “Well, you’ve always been a bit of an exhibitionist.”

 

“Me?  What about you?” I shot back with a laugh.  “If I remember correctly, I was just laying on the lounge getting some sun and you’re the one who decided to get all hot and heavy.”

 

Raising an eyebrow, he laughed, “Just laying in the sun, huh?  If I remember correctly, you weren’t wearing anything but a grin and asked me to put sun tan oil on you.”

 

I laughed, remembering that vacation two years ago fondly.  Shrugging, I said, “Well, you wouldn’t want me to burn now, would you?”

 

“Of course not, babe,” he said leaning in and kissing me chastely on the lips.  “Maybe you can check out vacancies there in a couple of months?”  He kissed me again as his hand dropped to my crotch, “Don’t forget to put in a room request.”

 

Feeling my cock harden beneath his touch, I grinned.  “I think before we go, we should check out the sun tan oil, make sure it’s still good and all.”

 

Sam laughed as he stood up, holding out a hand for me, “Of course, wouldn’t want you to burn anything important.”

 

 

 

Pulling into the parking lot of the restaurant the next afternoon, I glanced down the long narrow lot to see if I could spy Greg's bright yellow car.  Seeing the tell-tale bumper of the car peaking out from behind a drab gray Accord, I smiled.  I had to give it to him, the car was always easy to spot and instantly recognizable in a parking lot.  Parking my own less flashy red Civic a few spots away, I headed up the ramp into the café.  Greg was seated along the back windows in a booth and waved as he saw me come through the door.

 

"Hey," he said with a grin as I slide in.  "How's it going?"

 

I nodded and gave a half shrug, not bothering to reach for the menu, "It's going good.  I was happy you could meet me for lunch."

 

The young waiter came over before Greg could answer and quickly took our orders.  I wouldn't say we were known in the restaurant but we came here often enough that there was no sense looking at the menus.  We both ordered cheesesteaks, Greg's full loaded, mine with just onions and cokes to drink.  The other man nodded, quickly writing and then disappearing, leaving us alone to talk.

 

"I was too, I'm thrilled that you're going to be around more.  It’ll be fun to be able to get together for lunch or whatever.”  Greg smiled as he continued, “Josh is too.”

 

I laughed, “Because then he doesn’t have to take you out for lunch?”

 

Greg nodded, “That’s right.”

 

Josh was Greg’s partner and they had been together for almost 11 years now, longer then I had known Greg.  He and I had become friends about six years earlier after we met during a charity event.  The restaurant I was working at had agreed to supply food for a charity work day at a children’s shelter Greg volunteered at.  He was on the host committee board that I met with to work out the menu, needed supplies and set up duties.   We had worked well together and I had honestly considered him a potential lover until I found out he was in a serious relationship.  A thank you lunch had revealed we had some common friends and acquaintances and interests.  He invited me to a party a friend was having and our friendship just effortlessly took off from there.   I couldn’t really explain it because on paper, we looked completely different but in person, we just clicked and complimented each other well. He was almost five years older than me and I had seen him as a bit of a mentor on relationships and later in ‘alternative relationships’.  It was almost two years into our friendship, after I was dating Sam but hadn’t moved in together that Greg began to let me into the personal details of his relationship with Josh.  I had known that there was something, but I didn’t know enough or have the vocabulary to figure it out on my own yet.  He told me that Josh was his Master and they were in a sort of Master/slave relationship.  That revelation took me a bit by surprise because their loving, supportive relationship wasn’t how I had pictured such an arrangement that until then I had only read about.  In stories, those type of relationships had always seemed harsh, humiliating and deliberately degrading to the slave to me.  Greg and Josh’s relationship was nothing like that and I couldn’t see my friend wanting or allowing some of the treatments portrayed in books.  Their relationship was closer to DP than the M/s ones I’d read about but there were differences in roles, expectations and requirements that suited them both.

 

“How’s his book coming?” I asked as the waiter brought our drinks.  Josh was a horror story author, not in the league of Steven King but well known and established enough to make a wonderful living and regularly enjoy seeing his new book on the New York Times Top Ten List.  That financial freedom coupled with Josh’s wishes meant that Greg only worked three mornings a week at a local bookstore that specialized in mystery and horror stories and spent the rest of his time volunteering or helping Josh manage his career. 

 

Greg took a long sip of his coke and nodded, “It’s coming along nicely.  I’ve actually got a conference call this afternoon with the publishing house, the bookstore here and a couple other people to map out a book signing tour this fall when it’s published.”  He grinned, “But I don’t want to talk about Josh or me, tell me how’s it going with you and Sam?  How have the first three days of being a boy toy gone?”

 

Flicking my straw wrapper at him, I made a face, “I’m almost 30, I don’t think I qualify as a boy toy any more.”

 

He laughed, “Guess again.”  Turning serious, he eyed me as he continued, “But how are you feeling? How’s Sam?”

 

I looked at him, really not sure how to answer.  Did I confess to my friend that when I stopped moving for more then a few minutes I could feel this looming darkness or that I was terrified Sam was going to lose respect for me or that I’d grow boring and stop being interesting and attractive to him? Or maybe that I was scared I was going to turn into some 50-style housewife and that the more or less equal footing our relationship had been built on was going to crumble beneath me? Or that this week had been great not doing much, but admitting that scared me too. Taking a sip of coke, I did what any other guy would do, I smiled and nodded, “It’s actually going great.  I’m really happy with my decision; it’s the best thing I could have done for me personally and for Sam and me as a couple.”

 

Greg laughed, shaking his head as he eyed me.  “That’s such bullshit but it’s OK.  You don’t have to tell me, I understand.  But if you do ever want to talk, let me know because I know what you’re thinking probably a lot better than you imagine.”  He took a sip of his coke as he changed the subject, “So are you finally going to get some decent set of wheels now that you’re rolling in it?”

 

“Hey,” I protested, happy the subject was changed, “I happen to like my Honda! It’s a good car and it gets good gas mileage.”

 

“It’s a Civic and it’s five years old.  Go out and get yourself something fun …”

 

“Like you did,” I shot back with a grin.  The bright yellow Boxster convertible had been a ten year anniversary gift from Josh and I knew how much he loved it.

 

He nodded, “That’s right but you can’t get something like me.  Can’t be a copy cat, you know.  But the new Jags are nice or I saw a bright green SAAB convertible that was beautiful on the lot a couple of weekends ago.”  Greg grinned, leaning back as the waiter appeared with our food, “Let’s go look at cars after lunch.”

 

I laughed but shook my head, “Sorry, can’t.  But I’ll think about it.”

 

“Oh, come on,” he said after the waiter left, “it’ll be fun and it’s a beautiful day.  You’re not buying anything, you’re just looking.”

 

“It’s not like I could buy anything without Sam,” I protested, not wanting to give the real reason for not being able to go.

 

Greg shook his head, “Of course not.  God, you’d be killed for something like that.”  He paused, thinking and then gave an exaggerated shudder, “Hell, Josh would kill me too for encouraging you.”

 

“And we can’t have that,” I said, taking a bite of my hot sandwich.

 

He eyed me, “Is there another reason you can’t go? Because honestly, I’ve never known you to say no to just goofing around.”

 

The open acceptance in his voice and the knowledge that he would understand, sympathize and probably had dealt with the same thing over-rode my primary instinct to deny and I shrugged.  “Sam sort of has me on a really strict schedule right now and I need to be back home by 1:30.”

 

Greg nodded and stuffed a ketchup soaked fry in his mouth.  “OK,” he said casually, “no big deal.  If you feel comfortable, ask him if you can go when we have lunch next time or whenever you have some free time.”

 

I nodded, feeling the small knot of embarrassment that had formed in my stomach melt over his easy acceptance of my reason.  I don’t know why I was embarrassed or why I thought Greg would think anything bad or weird about my explanation but it was something that I struggled with.  While Greg wasn’t constantly talking about his relationship with Josh, it wasn’t uncommon for him to drop comments like ‘I have to get permission from Josh’ or ‘Josh has me on a tight leash right now’ into the conversations at lunch like they had no more importance than any person’s comments on their lover.  I guess for him, they really weren’t any more important.  They were just the normal status comments about his relationship, a relationship that I knew about and fully supported, so why try to pretend it was something else?  Why just say ‘no’ to something we both knew he’d like to do when the real answer was ‘Josh won’t let me’.  I think I felt embarrassed sometimes because I like to pretend that my relationship with Sam is different than his is with Josh.  It is different but not all that different and, in all honesty, most of my ‘no’ answers were really ‘Sam won’t let me’ answers.  Greg knew it, I knew it, but he was honest with his answers and I wasn’t. 

 

“So what are you doing this weekend,” I asked, changing the subject.

 

 

An hour later, we both put down credit cards to pay our bills with and finished up our drinks while the waiter ran them.  “Sam’s being really strict right now,” I blurted out before I could stop myself.  As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I wanted to yank them back in or pretend it was the start of a sentence that I was about to finish to turn the meaning into something completely different.  Maybe Sam’s being really strict right now at work about vacation time as the kick off sentence to a discussion about upcoming vacations?

 

Before I could figure it out, Greg nodded. “I’m not surprised but I’m sort of glad to hear it,” he said easily as he sipped at the last of his coke and poked around at the ice with his straw.  “I hope you’re paying attention to him.”

 

“Why are you glad to hear it,” I asked quietly, curious as to what he’d say.  Greg was the first person I told when my relationship with Sam developed the DP twist and the first person I admitted to being ‘sore’ at after the first time Sam spanked me the day before a lunch and Greg noticed I wasn’t flopping down as easily as I usually did. I trusted and admired him and I think part of me also longed to develop his easy and casual acceptance of his unique relationship.

 

He shrugged and gave me a smile, “Don’t be mad or anything, ok?”  When I nodded, he gave me another quick smile before saying, “I just think that a really tight leash and heavy hand from Sam will do you a lot of good right now.  You’ve been struggling for a while, coming off a really emotional time and it’s going to take some adjustment.  Sam and his structure and support are the best things to help you get through all that.”  Greg looked at me for a moment to gauge my reaction before continuing. “It’ll be a good thing for both of you.  Not easy and probably painful, especially on your end, no pun intended,” he said with a laugh, “but it’s for the best and what you need.”

 

I nodded but didn’t know what to say to his statement.  I was saved by the appearance of the waiter and our credit card slips.  As I signed my name and kept a copy to record at home, I glanced at Greg who glanced up at the same time and gave me a smile.

 

“Trust me, Jason, I’ve been on the receiving end more times then I can count and it always helps both of us.”  He paused for a second as if thinking on how to phrase something before continuing, “When I’m struggling or going through a rough time for whatever reason, it affects Josh too.  He wants to help me and he wants to give me what I need even if he doesn’t always know exactly what that is.”  Taking a sip of coke, he continued with a small shrug, “So maybe the easiest way to figure out exactly what I need is to clamp down on my actions and really focus on my behavior and my attitude on doing exactly what he tells me and submitting to him.  It makes me feel secure and comfortable and if there’s a bigger problem going on, I’m better able to tell him about it.”  He paused again and gave a small laugh, “Does that make sense to you?”

 

I nodded, thinking about to Sunday evening in the office and my feelings after my spanking.  “Yeah,” I said softly, “it makes a lot of sense.”

 

“Good.”  Sliding out of the booth a moment later, he laughed, “Come on, it’s a little after 1 and you’ve got to get going.”  He patted me on the back at we walked out of the restaurant and into the sun.  “I know it’s hard, God knows I know how hard it is sometimes,” he said with a laugh, shaking his head, “but just believe me when I say that you should just let Sam do his Top thing, don’t fight him because he’ll end up getting his way anyway and you’ll be in a much better place in six months then you ever thought you could be.”

 

“I’ll try,” I said, giving him a slightly embarrassed smile as we got to my car and I unlocked it.

 

Greg laughed, giving me a hard whack on the shoulder.  “Don’t try, idiot.  Just do it.”  He turned serious as he said, “And don’t be embarrassed about it.  I’ve been in the same place you’re in and I’ll probably be there again with Josh.  It’s just the nature of these relationships, who we are and who they are and we wouldn’t want to change any of that.  Would we?”

 

I shook my head, “No, not at all.  I’ll give you a call and maybe we can go some place else next week.”

 

He smiled, turning around and walking backwards toward his own car, “Sounds good.  We’ll do lunch.”  Flicking his wrist, he fanned himself with one hand and then pretended to play with a string of pearls around his neck.  “That will just be so much fun, darling,” he said in a fake high pitched voice. 

 

Glancing around to make sure we weren’t being watched, I blew him a big kiss and then in my own fake voice called out, “So good to see you again darling, kiss kiss!”  I heard him laugh as he disappeared around a car and a moment later, heard his own engine start up, the radio blasting some country song from the open top. 

 

As I watched him peel out of the driveway, putting the car’s excellent turning suspension to good use as he rounded the corner, not bothering with the brakes, I couldn’t help but shake my head at my friend's confusing mix of contradictions and how he seemed to be at total ease with all of them.  Greg had gotten his MBA by the time he was 23 with Josh’s full support the last year yet he was perfectly happy to work part time in a book store.  He loved to volunteer twice a week as a tutor for kids yet never wanted any of his own; liked to plan and organize everything and was always five minutes early to any lunch or dinner yet said he was always happiest with Josh in total control.  He could talk and laugh and become almost instant friends with virtually anyone from waiters to clerks to random strangers standing in line and seemed to always have a smile on his face and a ready joke yet seemed the most at peace and comfortable when he was with a small quiet group of friends or standing quietly at Josh’s side during a party and never saying anything.  Sliding into my own car, I wondered if my friends saw me as the same sort of confusing mix of contradictions.   At one time, I would have said no but now I wasn’t sure.  I was sure though that no one would ever describe me as totally at ease with all or probably any of them.

 

The phone was ringing as I opened the garage door and I picked it up just as the machine clicked on.  “Hello?” I said as the answering machine beeped, shutting itself back off.

 

“Hey Jay,” Sam said, “how are you?”

 

“I’m good; I just got in from lunch with Greg.  I was just walking in the door when I heard the phone ring.”

 

“Good,” he said, “I knew you were having lunch with him and wanted to see how your day was going.”

 

I glanced at the clock, seeing it was 1:25 and laughed.  “And maybe make sure I got home on time?”

 

Sam laughed, “Yes, that too but I was also calling to see how you were doing.”

 

“Yeah, OK honey,” I said, confident I knew which was the main reason for the call and not minding him checking up on me.  “Lunch was great and Greg is doing well.  How’s your day going?”

 

“I’m already counting down until the weekend,” he said softly. 

 

I grinned, “Me too.”  Glancing around the kitchen, the roll of parchment paper I had been looking at before lunch caught my eye.  “Oh, is fish OK for dinner tonight?  I was flipping through my recipes and found one for parchment lemon pepper fish.  I thought it might be good with potatoes and green beans. I’ll pick some up at the store this afternoon if you’re good with it.”

 

He laughed, “You’re turning into a regular househusband.  Can I expect to be welcomed home in pearls and heels tonight? Sort of a change from the jeans and t’s you’ve been wearing.”

 

“Not even for you,” I shot back, shaking my head.

 

“Fish sounds great and I’ll be sure to leave on time.  I need to get going but I’m glad you’re doing good and had a good lunch.”

 

Lying in bed ten minutes later, I stretched out against the cool sheets and yawned.  My mind replayed Sam’s comment about turning into a househusband.  Last week, the thought and comment would have both horrified and angered me but now, I wasn’t so sure what I was feeling.  It had been a very satisfying week so far and I felt more relaxed and in control than I had in a long time.  It was actually sort of fun to cook breakfast and do stuff around the house, run errands and have lunch without always being in a rush or watching the clock.  It had been nice to spend the evenings out on the porch with Sam, sitting on the swing together talking or just being quiet together and reading.  He made little sounds when he read that I hadn’t noticed before and last night, I had actually pretended to read just so I could watch his face while he read his own book.  The constantly changing emotions made me curious exactly what it was and I finally asked him to read it out loud.  The sound of his voice and the gentle rocking of the swing made me wish that the moment could be frozen in time.  When we first moved in together, we’d take day trips in the car to the mountains to see different waterfalls or secluded picnic sites along creeks.  To pass the time in the car, we’d take turns reading out loud to each other.  Listening to Sam’s voice reminded me how much fun that had been and I vowed to dig out our old guidebooks and plan something after the heat of the summer had broken.

 

I reached for my jeans I had tossed on the floor when I got undressed earlier and froze.  I had taken my wallet out of my pants and tossed it onto our dresser as usual.  Along with was the signed credit card slip from the restaurant Greg and I had been to.  Sam’s rule about using cash for anything personal and the knowledge that I had a $20 bill in my wallet still unbroken flashed through my mind and I swallowed hard, trying to ease the cramp in my stomach.  I honestly wasn’t sure what to do as I sat down on the edge of the bed, staring at the receipt.  Tell him, confess to him and he’ll understand it was an honest mistaken – a forgotten new rule or Hide it, he’ll never know and even when the charge comes in, he still won’t connect the two because you go there a lot together.  I honestly didn’t know which option to take.  I did know what I should do, what the adult and responsible thing was to do but I also was equally sure I couldn’t do it.  Even if Sam understood, I was sure he’d spank me for it and I couldn’t willingly ask to be spanked.

 

Crumbling up the receipt, I tossed it in the half full garbage can next to the dresser. My stomach sank slightly as the small ball hit the rim and then disappeared behind an old copy of Time and other trash.  As soon as it was gone, I regretted my decision and almost got up to retrieve it.  The thought of having to tell Sam I’d screwed up, disappointed him and maybe him thinking I’d deliberately done it as a way to thumb my nose at a rule I didn’t like made my stomach twist uncomfortable.  I took a deep breath and stood back up, concentrating on making myself believe that I wasn’t hiding something from Sam and there was nothing in the rules that said I had to confess to every little screw up.

 

I was standing at the sink of my restaurant washing and trimming a head of lettuce.  But I kept trimming off too much and left with nothing but the solid white core which I then threw away as garbage.  Reaching into a huge bag filled with lettuce heads, I grabbed another one and began to trim it too when Sam spoke up from his seat on the counter behind me.

 

“You’re doing it wrong, Jason,” he said.

 

I looked up from the sink and shook my head, “No I’m not.  I’m just trying to trim away the extra stuff.”

 

“That’s what you’re doing,” he said in a patient voice.

 

“I know, but I’m doing it wrong and I keep trimming away too much.”

 

“No, you’re doing that right,” Sam said in a calm voice, “but you’re doing the rest wrong.”

 

“No, I’m not,” I protested, even as I looked at the lettuce head trimmed away to almost nothing in my hand.  I sighed at the mess in my hands as I tossed the heart into the garbage pale.  “See, I told you, I’m not doing it right.”

 

Sam frowned and shook his head, “You’re doing it wrong, Jason.”

 

“Then tell me how to do it correctly, Sam,” I said in an annoyed voice, feeling my anger at his lack of help rise up.

 

He shrugged, “You know what to do; you just don’t want to do it.”

 

“Tell me!” I said in a loud voice.

 

Shrugging again, he looked at me.  “I have.”

 

I woke up with a start, unsure where I was and what was real and what were the echoes of my dream.  My heart was racing even as I felt my anger and frustration drain away as I took a deep breath as I thought of the crumpled receipt in the trash can.

 

Behind me, Sam stirred and moved closer to me, mumbling quietly for a moment.

 

With his movement, I felt Sam’s cock, harden more against my thigh, pinning me in place and adding his weight and warmth to my body.  I sighed, relaxing even more as a feeling of total security chased away the last remnants of my dream of frustration.  Rising my head slightly, I could see the alarm clock across the room on the dresser.  The bright green numbers read 5:20 and I sighed, putting my head back down on the pillow.  The morning news would click on in ten minutes, summoning Sam to get out of bed and go through his usual morning exercise routine for thirty minutes before the second alarm would go off and summon me. 

 

“You awake?” Sam whispered in the darkness, his hand running down my leg.

 

“Good morning,” I said as an answer.  “I had a dream and it woke me up about five minutes ago.  I’ve just been laying here wanting it to be Saturday or Sunday.”

 

He laughed, kissing me as he moved closer.  “One more day, babe.”  He kissed me again and I could feel his cock hardening more as it rubbed against me.

 

As encouragement, I moaned softly and spread my legs a bit to give him easier access.  “This is one sure way to make the mornings more pleasant,” I said softly.  Reaching a hand out, I snagged the bottle of lube and passed it back to him.

 

“I always love waking up this way, feeling you so close,” he said as he quickly spread the liquid on his hard cock.  Tossing the bottle back onto the bed, he repositioned himself and pushed the head of his cock inside. “God, you feel so tight,” he sighed as he sank in deeper.

 

I moaned and squirmed against the invasion.  No matter how welcome it was, my muscles still spasmed slightly, sending chills through me for a moment before my body adjusted to being stretched and filled.  Relaxing, I spread my legs wide and rose up on my knees, lifting my butt higher when Sam patted my hip.  I could feel him settle over me as his cock was pushed in deeper with the better angle.

 

“That’s it, babe,” he said in a low voice as he began the timeless in and out motions, his breathing starting to come in short pants.  “You’re so beautiful like this, spread wide and wanting and taking all of me.”

 

My own breathing was picking up and my hands spasmed, clutching at the pillow near my head.  “That’s perfect, Sam,” I said as his cock brushed past my prostate over and over again, sending tingles of electricity and excitement through my body and settling in my own hard cock.  I could feel his thrusts picking up speed as he pushed in deeper and deeper with each one, driving himself inside me and filling me as much as he could. 

 

He groaned and pushed in a final time, his body covering mine and hands gripping my waist.  Coming hard, I could feel his balls tighten against my opening as his cock twitched and jerked its release deep inside me.  “Yes,” he said in a low voice, mixed with a sigh.

 

My own hand went to my leaking cock and began to stroke it, Sam’s passion and release bringing me to the point of my own. 

 

Sam reached down and around me and for a moment, I thought he was going to bring me off himself as he often did.  “No,” he said in a low voice as he leaned down and kissed my sweaty back. 

 

“What?” I asked him, my brain confused and the pounding blood in my ears making it hard to hear.

 

Closing his hand around mine, he stilled it on the throbbing cock.  “No, don’t come,” he said, kissing me again as he began to pull out.

 

“Why not?”  My cock throbbed almost painfully, begging for its release.

 

Sam rolled off me with a satisfied groan and immediately reached for me.

 

Flopping over on my side, I looked at him.  My cock was still hard against my stomach and ached.  “Sam, please,” I panted, my hand hovering, wanting the release of coming.

 

He closed his hand gently over my cock, cradling it but being careful not to add any more stimulation.  Moving closer, he kissed me gently as his tongue parted my lips and swept possessively inside. 

 

It was a sweet kiss, slow and deep and I sighed, bringing my arms up around him to hold him close.  I could feel his hand, hot and heavy but still, on my cock.  Moving my hips, I tried to encourage him to bring me to release but he resisted.

 

Pulling back from the kiss, he grinned at me and raised an eyebrow.  He moved down my body, slowly kissing his way down my chest until he reached his prize.  Gently kissing it once, he looked back up and grinned again before he sat up.

 

I groaned again, “Please Sam, just do it.”  My legs were spread wide and my skin felt tingling all over as if tiny bolts of electricity were still running through me.

 

Giving me another kiss on the lips, Sam shook his hand.  “No, I want to picture you like this all day.  I want to think about you hard and waiting for me to get home tonight.  I want to think about you being eager for me to come home tonight.  And me taking you hard in the kitchen and making you come over and over again because you’ve been wanting it all day.”  He gave me a wolfish grin as he brought his hand back to my cock and gently stroked it, making it jump again in response even as he bent back down to kiss me.  “So no playing today,” he ordered in a low voice.  “This belongs to me today and I’m the only one who can give you want you want.”

 

Dimly nodding, I felt my blood stir hotter at his words.  “You’ll be home early, right.” I asked with my own grin as I got into the game and his mood.

 

“If you’re lucky,” he said, rising his eyebrow and giving me a grin as he got off the bed and headed into the bathroom.

 

Lying there, listening to the radio and the sound of Sam’s shower, I closed my eyes and concentrated on all the wonderful sensations that my over-stimulated nerves were still sending up to my brain.  My cock throbbed slightly, starting to soften gradually and deep inside I could still feel my muscles ache slightly from being stretched by Sam’s cock.  I decided this was a wonderful way to wake up in the morning.

 

 

 

The day flew by as I picked up the house, did a little cooking and organized my desk in one of our guest rooms.  I had all my files and recipes in a filing cabinet up there and I would need an organized place to work once I started preparing the cookbook for the restaurant.   The house was cool and calm with a stack of instrumental CDs playing over the speakers in the living room and the sound drifted up the stairs.  Sitting in the guest room, I listened to the music and allowed myself to get lost in the simple joy of organizing my two filing cabinets and then my computer files.  When I was done, I leaned my head back against the chair and looked out the window, watching a bird hop around the stone birdbath in the back yard.  Smiling slightly, it dawned on me how happy I was and how totally content I was with how things were going.  I don’t think I had ever really understood how Greg could be happy only working part time but now I think I was starting to understand the appeal.  The nothingness that had stretched out before me had receded, at least for the time being and I was finding my new routine and satisfaction in it and in Sam’s reactions.

 

The thought of Sam caused my cock to stir and I shifted in my seat, feeling my jeans get tighter in response.  Dropping my hand to my lap, my fingers lightly traced the hardening outline through the material for a second before I reluctantly pulled them away.  I shifted again and gritted my teeth, silently cursing my lover even as I smiled at his game.  The whole day had been spent slightly on edge, the smallest thought of him or moment that caused my muscles to contract sent my mind instantly back to our bed that morning and my cock to stir to life.  Laughing out loud as I forced myself to turn back to the computer and the mundane task of organizing the files, I shook my head.  I was feeling like a teenager, never knowing when the next random thought would send the blood pumping again and feeling as if the slightest tough would bring about the desired release.  Glancing at the clock, I reached for the phone and dialed Sam’s office number.  It was a little after 4 and he should be finishing up his day and ready to come home.

 

“Sam Estes,” he said into the phone.

 

At the sound of his voice, my blood pumped hotter and I smiled, “Are you on your way home?” I asked.  I could picture him in his office, tie slightly undone and feet probably propped up on his lower drawer.

 

“Have you obeyed me today?” he asked in a low voice.

 

I laughed and nodded, “I have but it’s been very hard.”  Dropping my voice a bit, I added, “Very very hard, all day.”

 

He laughed, “I bet it has.  But I’m glad to hear that you’ve obeyed me.”

 

“I always obey you.”

 

Sam laughed again, “Yeah, OK Pinocchio. Obviously you’ve got a couple of things that are growing now.”

 

“So are you on your way home soon?” I asked, grinning at his joke.

 

“I was going to be leaving in a few minutes, want me to stop and pick up anything on my home? Or run any errands?”

 

“Sam!” I protested with a laugh. 

 

“I’ll be home in about forty-five minutes,” he said and then added, “And we’ll see just how good of a boy you are then.”

 


Wearing just one of Sam’s casual button down shirts, I shifted anxiously on the table as the garage door opened forty minutes later.  My cock jumped, hardening further, as the door opened and I heard Sam step into the house.

 

“Hi honey, I’m home!” he called out before he stepped into the kitchen and saw me sitting there.

 

I held out my hand, “You did say the kitchen, didn’t you?”

 

He laughed as he came closer.  Grinning at me, he raised an eyebrow and said, “It depends, have you been a good boy and obeyed me today?”

 

Spreading my legs, I grinned wider and tried to raise an eyebrow, failing as usual.  “Why don’t you tell me?  You’re the one in charge of this relationship and I trust your judgment.”

 

Sam laughed as he leaned in and kissed me, tongue thrusting inside and while one hand dropped to my hard cock.  “A very good boy, I see,” he whispered before gently laying me back on the table, spreading my legs wider and resuming his dual exploration and claiming of my body.

 

 

 

I wish I could say that everything continued on its wonderfully in love way but that’s not life and reality, at least for me.  I read somewhere that life’s a roller coaster with its ups and down and thrills and lulls and that seems a pretty fitting way to describe my life with Sam. 

 

 

 

On Sunday afternoon, another long week of Sam working and my days filled chores and errands and what at times seemed like slave labor was looming depressingly ahead of me.  I had been off work for three weeks and the novel appeal of time and freedom had started to wear thin, as had Sam’s rules and lists. 

 

At times I was able to capture the right mood and easily accept my role as Sam’s Brat and all that went with it and all I wanted it to mean.  During that time, I was happy doing things around the house, enjoyed the freedom to grocery shop on Monday morning, have lunch with Greg or Sam, time to organize my files and begin the challenging work of compiling recipes to be used in the upcoming cookbook.  When I was at peace with who I was, my days were full and I felt happy and satisfied.

 

At the times when that peace and acceptance eluded me, I was restless and cranky with a short temper.  Our rules were stupid, Sam’s expectations were too high and I felt lost.  I blew off my schedule or was rude to Sam and both times I crossed the line in those three weeks, he calmly yanked me right back over it and set me firmly in my place.

 

“We talked about this last night,” he said firmly, “and I thought it was clear.  Should I have spanked you then instead of giving you today?”

 

I bit back a sharp comment, painfully aware of the wooden paddle Sam had placed on the floor near his right hand, shifting a bit over his lap and clamping my mouth shut.  My embarrassment and regret was only starting to slightly eat away at my anger that was preventing me from talking.

 

Raising his hand, Sam delivered a sharp swat across my bare butt and said firmly, “When I ask you a question Jason, I except some sort of answer or at least acknowledgement that you heard me.”

 

“You were clear last night,” I said softly, blinking back the tears that sprang up.

 

“Should I have spanked you last night then when you didn’t cut the grass yesterday instead of giving you today?” he asked calmly.

 

For that, I honestly had no answer.  I don’t know why I didn’t cut the grass yesterday and I didn’t know why I didn’t cut it today.  It was on my schedule and cutting the grass had been my job for years now, even before I stopped working.  It wasn’t hard and I didn’t mind but for some reason, this week it had seemed like the most hated job in the world and a clear example of everything that was wrong with being off work.  “I don’t know,” I said honestly, my anger fading a bit under Sam’s heavy hand and calm, firm voice.

 

“From now on,” he said, “even though it’s not a day we review your schedule, if I notice that something hasn’t been done on the day I tell you to and you don’t have a good reason for why not, you can expect to be punished for it.  Judging by your behavior tonight when I asked you about it, giving you an extra day to get a job done is akin to giving you more rope to hang yourself with.”

 

I squirmed against his legs as if I could some how move enough to avoid what I knew was coming and what, if I was still being honest with myself, I deserved.  I had blown off my schedule and then when Sam had rightly pointed it out, I escalated the situation by being rude and defensive. I felt Sam shift slightly and heard him pick up the paddle and my stomach clenched.

 

“This is not how I planned to spend tonight, Jason,” he said as he laid the paddle on my bare skin before raising it, “but there are consequences to breaking the rules of our house.”  Bringing the wooden board down sharply across my butt, he tightened his grip on my waist as I instinctively jerked away.

 

Clenching my teeth, I still was angry enough to fight crying out as the board rose and fell with hard, sharp cracks against my skin. 

 

“I will not allow you to drift all day, Jason,” he lectured as he paddled me.  “We sit down each week and make up a schedule and we discuss it.  If you feel that something is unfair, you may bring it up then but I will not allow you to ignore what I tell you to do simply because you don’t feel like doing it.”

 

The pain in my butt was crashing over me like waves and I was shaking with the effort it took not to cry out.  Sam’s words and the firm tone were pushing me as close to the breaking point as the pain was.  On the seventh stroke, a cry escaped from my lips and I squirmed hard against his grasp as if I were fighting once again to free myself.  “Stop,” I said, “please.”

 

Ignoring me, Sam continued to paddle me, saying as he did so, “Our relationship is too important to be disrespectful to each other, Jason and I will not allow it.  You might not always agree with me, you might not always want me to be firm and stick with our rules but you and I both need me to do exactly that, no matter how unpleasant we might find it.”

 

I’m not sure exactly what it was about his lecture that got through to me.  Maybe it was the knowledge that I was making him do something he didn’t want to do?  I was in pain but he wasn’t having any fun with the situation either.  Maybe it was him saying – again – that our relationship was valuable and worth all the hard work it takes and he had no intention of letting it go. Or maybe it was a combination of the last few minutes, the firmness, the control, the pain, the determination and the confidence that everything would happen exactly as it was happening that finally allowed me to let go of the anger that had been building over the last couple of days and sob loudly.  Gripping his leg, I closed my eyes, allowed myself to let go of all the anger and resentment, sank into the certainty of our relationship and cried as the paddle continued to rise and fall.

 

 

 

“The linen closet?” I asked, looking up from my weekly schedule on Sunday evening.  “Why is that on here?”

 

Sam turned around from the stove where he was heating up the pasta sauce I made on Friday.  “What do you mean why?  It was something you had mentioned needing to be done a couple of weeks and I agreed with you.  I didn’t put it on your schedule before because I thought you should take it easy, decompress a bit and relax.”

 

“So why is it on now?” I asked, feeling annoyed and not really sure why.  There was no reason not to do it, it was something I had mentioned and in reality, it did need to be done.  Pulling out sheets today when we changed the linens on our bed made that painfully obvious.  It had taken me five minutes to find the matching pillowcase in the clutter.  Struggling to keep my tone at a respectful level and not allow my feelings to come through, I looked at Sam, “I’m not sure it needs to be done now.”  I remembered how the discussion over the damn linen closet ended last time and I had no intention of this one following the same path.

 

Giving the sauce another stir, Sam lowered the heat, put the lid on and came over to the table and sat down next to me.  “Let’s go over this together and we can discuss it.”

 

“I don’t know why,” I muttered, “it’s not like it’s going to change.”

 

Sam kissed me, pulling my chair closer to his, saying, “We’re going to do this because I said so and I think it’s important.  Even if we don’t change anything, it’s good to make sure we’re on the same page.”

 

I sighed, “I’m sure we are.  I just don’t think I like the page as much as you do.”

 

He laughed and began to review my upcoming schedule with me.

 

To be honest, it was another very fair and balanced schedule.  It was clear that Sam didn’t consider my time off to mean that he suddenly had a free cook, maid and grounds keeper.  He wasn’t asking me to do all the housework and he did the same amount of cooking and cleaning that he had done before I retired if not more.  Since I had more time now and cooking was once again fun, I was enjoying making more complicated meals which always leads to more dishes. Gone, at least temporarily, were the days of grilled cheese and canned soup eaten standing in the kitchen while flipping through the mail.  Trying to find that inner peace and acceptance I had found earlier, I concentrated on his words and tried hard not to let my emotions run wild with assumptions and fears.

 

Finishing up ten minutes later, Sam kissed me again.  “You good with this?  I think it’s fair, Jay.  But is it too much for you to handle this week?”

 

I laughed and shook my head.  “No, I think it’s good.  You’re right,” I said with a sigh, adding, “as usual.”

 

Sam laughed as he stood up to check on the sauce, “Now if you’d just remember that I’m always right, I bet you could save yourself some problems.”

 

Laughing, I stood up and did an exaggerated bow at him, “Oh please forgive me Oh Great One for ever doubting you.”  Bowing over and over with my arms outstretched in front of me, I saw him smile and shake his head.

 

“You know, if you were good and truly repentant for your past sins you’d be on your knees doing that and trying to make amends.”

 

I laughed again, walking over to him and wrapping my arms tight around his waist, head resting on his back.  “I’ll do it if you step away from the stove.  I’ll make you forget everything bad I’ve done,” I whispered.

 

He patted my hands resting in front of him before twisting slightly around and kissing me quickly before turning back to the stove.  “Jason, babe, you’ve never done anything bad that I have to forget about.  You’re perfect.”

 

“Practically perfect in every way,” I said with a smile even though I didn’t believe it.

 

 

Monday dawned cloudy and rainy with a chill in the air, all of which felt appropriate for my mood as I made breakfast for us in the kitchen.  Peering into the oven to check on the biscuits, I glanced out the window and frowned, feeling restless, useless and totally lost.

 

“Smells good, babe,” Sam said as he came into the kitchen, hanging his suit jacket with its hanger on the doorknob to the garage door.

 

Turning around, I smiled and nodded at the suit pants and tie.  “You look great.  I love seeing you in a suit.  Why are you all dressed up?”

 

“The AWA Group of investors is coming in for the presentation on their project.  Their lead men really love it but if they can’t get financial backing for it, then the whole thing’s been a waste.”  Pouring cups of juice, he smiled, “The biscuits smell great.  I’m starving.”

 

I laughed, “You used up too much energy last night, burned off all the calories from dinner.”  Opening the oven and releasing the smell of hot buttery bread, I pulled the pan out and put it on the stove.  “And don’t be too impressed.  Pillsbury’s been in the business for years now.  They should have it right.”

 

Sitting down at the table five minutes later, Sam said, “So you’re going to get started on the linen closet today?”

 

I sighed as I took a bite of my scrambled eggs, “Yeah, I guess so.  It’s going to rain though so I’m not sure if I can actually start to paint or not.”

 

“That’s OK, you have all week,” he said, “there’s no rush to get it all done today.”

 

Rolling my eyes, I felt a flash of annoyance, “I know but really Sam, I think I’m capable of cleaning out a linen closet in one day.”

 

Sam glanced over at me and raised an eyebrow in a clear warning over my tone.  “This isn’t a question of being capable, Jason.  It’s about taking your time and doing the job right.  It’s also about pacing yourself, having fun with it and not turning it into something that you rush through just to get it done.  Follow your schedule, that’s what it’s there for.  Do a little bit and then go do something else, have lunch with Greg, go the library.  We’re still looking at Mexico in a couple of months right?  Starting to research that is on your schedule for this week, I know. And you’re going to submit the first 20 recipes for the cookbook in a couple of weeks, right?  Plus, I hope you’re still meeting me for lunch on Wednesday.”

 

“Yeah and I’m really happy about that, it’s been a couple of weeks since we had lunch together during the week.”

 

He smiled, “Me too.  You’ll be a wonderful break in an otherwise probably long, boring day.”

 

Blushing slightly, I carefully buttered a biscuit and didn’t look at him.  “OK,” I said quietly, “I know, you’re right about doing the job right instead of just fast.  You’re just always right sometimes and it’s annoying.”  The last part came out with a laugh and a humor that I mostly felt.

 

He laughed, reaching over and ruffling my hair, knowing I hated that but it was also almost guaranteed to make me smile.  “Boy, do I have you fooled if you’re still under the illusion that I deserve to be up on any sort of pedestal.  It’s not about being right and I’m not scolding you.  I’m just saying that we did a schedule and you should follow it.  There’s no need for you to stress about it or rush.  I expect you to follow our schedule and for it to take you the three days we laid out for it.  You have plenty on your schedule to do.”

 

I nodded even as I sort of brushed off his words, thinking I could prove that the stupid linen closet could be done ‘right’ and still fast. 

 

My face has always been an open book to Sam and this morning was no exception as he frowned at me.  “I’m serious, Jason.  There are plenty of things for you to do and you might not agree with the timeline I wrote out but we talked about it last night and agreed to it.  I expect you to follow it and not insist on doing things your way.  Clear?”

 

The tone of his voice was crystal clear and I nodded.  “I know Sam, I’ll do it.”

 

Finishing up his eggs, he stood up, kissing me as he did so.  “Good, I know you’ll do it but if you have any problems or feel confused about what you’re suppose to do and what you’re not, call me and we can talk about it.”  He carried his plate to the sink and flipped on the water to rinse it off as he continued, “This was great but I need to get going.”

 

“Have a great day,” I said smiling, “and good luck with your presentation.”

 

He kissed me again, “Thanks.  See you tonight.”

 

“Bye,” I said, watching him walk out the door and feeling my mood sink as the door shut behind him.  I can’t really explain what I was feeling, just a general annoyance at life.  Glancing at the rest of my breakfast, I was suddenly no longer hungry and pushed it away angrily. 

 

An hour later, I pushed my cart through Home Depot, preparing to get the paint and roller I needed for the linen closet.   My mood darkened as I turned into the paint aisle and saw three construction workers all with lists and their orders, all either bosses getting ready to start a new day’s work or workers there on their boss’s orders.  As I passed them in my clean jeans, clean white sneakers and button down, I could only imagine what they thought of me.  In reality, I knew they probably thought very little, if anything of me.  Why should they? They were all focused on their jobs and lists and none of them even gave me a second glance but I still imagined they wondered what a healthy, young guy obviously not in the trade was doing there on a Monday morning.

 

“Hi,” a sales associate said as I caught his eye, “can I help you?”

 

Before I knew what I was saying, the presence of the workers and their thoughts heavy on my mind, I said loudly, “Hi, yeah.  I’ve got the next couple of days off from work .. just finished a big project and taking some down time so I’ve decided to do some stuff around the house.”  I glanced around before continuing, “Yeah, it was a really big project, lots of overtime, never any time at home and I just needed a couple of days off before jumping right back into the fire.”

 

“Great,” he said, his lack of interest in my story clear.  “And you’re going to do some painting?”

 

“Yeah,” I said, knowing how lame I sounded even to my own ears.  Then, struggling to come up with something to justify this whole conversation, I said, “I wasn’t sure what kind of paint to get.  I’m going to be repainting a closet.”

 

The associate nodded, “I’d recommend just a basic white interior flat paint.  Behr’s got a rebate for the next week so you might want to consider that.”

 

I nodded, suddenly eager for the conversation to end, “Sounds good, thanks for all your help.” 

 

The workers never even looked in my direction.

 

As soon as I was out of the store carrying the paint and supplies I needed, I called Greg.  “I just made a fool of myself in Home Depot,” I said as he answered the phone.

 

He laughed, “Lesser men have had the same experience, Jason.  What did you do?”

 

I explained my sudden obsession and fear of what the construction workers were thinking of me and how I felt the need to publicly and loudly explain my not working.  “And you know, it wouldn’t be that unusual for me to be somewhere on a Monday morning even when I was working.  I never had to be in before ten, so I used to do errands in the morning and never had this issue.”

 

Greg laughed again, “I know exactly what you mean.  I use to have the same struggles when Josh and I got together.”  He paused, “I even had business cards made up with my name and title as something like Literary Representative for J. L. Barker Inc. and our address and phone numbers.  I use to feel out of place when everyone was passing around business cards and I didn’t have one or a title or company to put down.”

 

Even as he laughed at his actions, I could still hear the old feelings and fears in the words.  “Maybe that’s what I need to do,” I agreed with a laugh.  “Think I could put down COO of S&J Company?”

 

“Josh suggested Sex Object for mine but I nixed that as too hard to pass out at meetings and bound to give the old betties that seem to always be on Boards heart attacks.”

 

Starting up my car, I said, “Good idea, don’t want to be held liable for that or anything.”

 

 “So did giving the Home Depot guy a big song and dance about why you were there and not working make you feel any better?”

 

I thought for a moment and then chuckled, “Sort of.”

 

“Then I wouldn’t worry about it.  I think right now you should do what you need to do to help youself in this adjustment.  If that means telling a few lies to someone who doesn’t care, so be it.  Sooner or later you’ll feel more comfortable and you can proudly walk into Home Depot on a Monday morning confident in your manly status as Kept Man.”

 

Laughing, I shook my head, “You’re too funny.  I can’t believe you’re telling me to lie.”

 

Greg laughed back, “Hell man, I’m not telling you to lie to Sam or to me or to any friends or anything.  I’m telling you that the Home Depot guy doesn’t give a shit what you tell him so if it makes you feel better to give him some line, why not?  Sort of like going into a bar in a borrowed leather jacket, doesn’t matter if it’s yours or not but if it helps you walk through the door, it’s fine.”  He paused for a second before continuing in a more serious tone, “Plus I’m betting that it won’t be an issue in a few months.  You’ll get into the swing of things with your book and the restaurant and you’ll figure out exactly your place and you won’t even care.”

 

“Is that what happened with you?”

 

“Yeah,” he said.  “One day walking into a meeting with people I figured out that I was suddenly unashamed to say that I worked part time at a bookstore and with my partner and that was it, no business cards, no title other then Mister and that was it.  They just nodded, shrugged and went on to the next person.  It was quite a let down, I have to say. But you know what you could say that’s even better?”

 

“What?”

 

“Tell them, ‘I just sold my restaurant to a chain and have more money in the bank than some small countries.’ ”

 

I laughed again, “Thanks Greg, I appreciate the pep talk.  I’ve got to get going though.  See you tomorrow for lunch?” 

 

Hanging up with him a moment later, I put the car into drive and headed home, feeling significantly better.

 

 

But like my mood swings of the morning and the past weeks, my good mood didn’t last.  I’m not really sure what triggered it, if it was having to stop working on the linen closet before I wanted to, the five wrong numbers in the space of an hour that I would have been blissfully unaware of if I had been working, the boring turkey sandwich for lunch while watching a television show I had seen five times already or something else that I hadn’t yet figured out.

 

With the linen closet completely emptied and all the sheets and towels sorted into their own piles ready to be put back in on Wednesday, I turned my attention to my recipes in hopes of lightening my mood.  It didn’t work, instead my mood got darker and I got more restless.  Flipping through my recipes just reminded me of the times I had cooked them and the fact that unless Sam and I suddenly morphed into social butterflies, I wouldn’t be cooking them for a crowd again.  I ended up like I did during these dark moods, sitting on the couch flipping through the tv channels and feeling sorry for myself and looking forward to Sam coming home.  The black void of nothingness that I had been dreading for a month seemed like it was finally starting to swallow me.

 

 

Carefully slicing potatoes into thin rounds for the gratin I was making, I gave myself a pep talk.  I had shaken off the depression and dark mood of the afternoon and instead tried to focus on all the reasons I had sold my restaurant.

 

“Number three,” I said out loud, having already ticked off more time with Sam and to have a better relationship with Sam as One and Two, “to have more time for myself.  I’ve already contacted the PBS people about their show and Greg said that Meals on Wheels is going to be doing a Taste of Atlanta charity thing in the fall and he’d love for me to cook there.  If I still had Jason’s I wouldn’t be able to do either one of those and I want to do both of those.”  Nodding as if agreeing with myself, I smiled and laughed softly at my actions.  “Not only are you talking to yourself now, Jas, you’re starting to agree with yourself.”

 

“I think you only have a problem if you start arguing with yourself.”

 

I spun around at the sound of another person’s voice, my heart beating wildly and a half scream caught in my throat.  “Good God Sam!” I yelped as I spied him.  “Don’t do that!”

 

He laughed, dumping his brief case and coat on a kitchen chair and walking over to me for a kiss.  “Sorry babe, I couldn’t help it.  I was just about to call out when I heard you talking to yourself and couldn’t resist.”

 

Kissing him back quickly before shaking my finger at him, “You didn’t want to resist, I know you.”  Then, glancing at the garage door, I said, “You didn’t come in through the garage?”

 

“No, it’s broken or my battery is dead in the opener or something because I tried it a couple of times before giving up and coming in the front door,” he said.  Opening the door, he pressed the control on the wall.  The door remained firmly shut.  “Hell,” he muttered.

 

“Broken?”

 

“Looks like it, it’s not opening this way either and I don’t hear anything from the motor,” Sam confirmed.  “I guess we need to get someone out here to look at it.”

 

“Reason Number Four that I sold Jason’s,” I said as I turned my attention back to my potatoes, “so that I can meet repairmen at the house and Sam doesn’t have to.”  Glancing up at him, I grinned and winked, earning another kiss.

 

“At least you’ve got your priorities right,” he whispered, nibbling at my neck and rubbing up behind me.  Dropping a hand lower, he caressed my crotch, “Did this rank in the Top Three?”

 

Laughing, I shook my head, “Nope, not even sure if it’s going to make the Top Ten list.”  I tried to ignore his hands and concentrate on my potatoes.

 

Hmpf,” Sam snorted, giving my neck one last kiss before heading to the fridge.  “I guess I’ll just have to try harder tonight then.”

 

“I guess you will,” I confirmed, trying hard not to smile, Sam’s presence doing more to lighten and brighten my mood than any list and pep talk.  “So how was your day? How’d the meeting go?”

 

“It went great,” he said, peering into the cold space for a moment before pulling out a wedge of cheese and a soda.  “They were very impressed, asked for some changes, asked for some explanations of different things but nothing we can’t handle.”

 

I turned around, smiling, “That’s great, I’m sure that’s a huge load off your mind.”  Spying the cheese, my smile widened.  “Are you making cheese and crackers?”

 

He nodded, “I was thinking about it.  Want some?”  Holding up the small block of cheese, he waved it enticingly in the air, knowing how much I loved the simple snack. 

 

“Yes, please,” I said with a grin. “Let me finish up with these first though.”

 

“No rush, take your time,” he said, putting the cheese on the table before giving me another kiss.  “I’ll be right back, I’m heading upstairs to change.”

 

“I’ll be done by the time you’re back down here,” I confirmed, turning my full attention back to the potatoes and my knife work.

 

 

Pushing against the porch floor with his feet, Sam made the swing glide back and forth gently while I kept my feet tucked underneath me, the plate of cheese and crackers balanced on a tray on his lap.

 

“So the presentation went great today,” he said in a slightly hesitant tone.

 

I nodded, picking up the tone but unsure what it meant and not sure I wanted to find out.  “That’s what you said but I hear a ‘but’ at the end of that sentence.”

 

Sam laughed, delaying his words by popping a cracker into his mouth and chewing. A moment later, he continued, “But there’s still a lot of work to be done with it which means I’m going to be putting in some longer than normal hours over the next week or so.”

 

“That’s OK, I understand,” I said in what I hoped was a perfect supportive partner tone, “it’s a big project and I know you’ve put a lot of hard work into it.”  Reaching out, I snagged another cracker and bit it in half, chewing quickly and swallowing before continuing.  “It’ll be good and it’ll give me a chance to practice some of my Late Night and Easy to Reheat recipes,” I said, giving a laugh I didn’t really feel.  The thought of even longer days and nights without Sam loomed as a large shadow in my mind, threatening to tip me back into the dark mood of the afternoon.

 

“I always found the chicken and noodles and spaghetti and meatballs seemed to heat up well for you,” he said casually, chewing on another crackers.  “Filling but not heavy and heats up in the microwave in two or three minutes.”  Swallowing, he smiled at me and kissed me quickly on the forehead, “And you make the best spaghetti sauce.”

 

I nodded, forcing myself to smile and eat the last cracker.  It tasted like paper in my mouth as I replayed Sam’s words over and over, struggling to decipher their meaning.  Did he say what he said about heating meals up for me as a reminder of all the late nights I put in? Was he just reminding me that it was my turn to spend evenings alone while he was working? Or was he just being helpful and telling me what he found easy to heat up and meals he liked?

 

“Jason?”

 

“Hmmm? What?” I asked, looking up, suddenly aware Sam had been talking and I hadn’t heard a word.

 

He smiled as he put the now empty plate on the floor by the swing, “What are you thinking about so hard?”

 

I shook my head, unwilling to actually voice my fears and afraid of what he’d say, “Nothing really.  I was just thinking about my recipes and what treats I can make to tempt you home at a decent hour while you’re working.”  Smiling, I said, “What were you saying?”

 

Sam eyed me for a second before saying, “I was just saying that this schedule won’t be a problem for Mexico in a couple of months, it’ll last three to four weeks at the most.”

 

“Oh good, I’m really looking forward to that.  I should go check on dinner, I think the potatoes take a good 30 minutes to bake.” Sitting up, I kissed him, “I’ll miss you while you’re working late.”  I stood up so that I was standing in front of him.

 

He grinned, “Oh yeah? What will you miss?”

 

Leaning down and kissing him softly, I said quietly, “I’ll miss you coming home and I’ll miss talking to you about your day and I’ll miss talking to you about my day.”  Punctuating each part with a kiss, I continued as I moved closer, feeling Sam’s hands around me pulling me down, “And I’ll miss sitting out on the porch with you and just enjoying the evening and I’ll miss eating ice cream with you and I’ll miss you making cheese and crackers for me.”

 

Sam laughed, pulling me completely on his lap, “All of that will still happen.  I’m just working late, not working out of town, babe.”

 

“I know,” I said with a shrug, struggling to get free for a moment before giving up and settling back against him, “it’ll just be different.”

 

“Yeah, it will be for a few weeks, that’s all.”

 

“I know,” I repeated, feeling unexpected tears form in my eyes.  Blinking them away, I leaned my head back on Sam’s chest and closed my eyes.  A moment later, I said softly, “I’ve just had enough things being different for awhile right now.”

 

He didn’t answer, just kissed my hair and held me close.

 

A few minutes later, I shook myself out of my stupor and sat up with a sigh.  “I better go check on dinner if we want to eat at a reasonable time.”

 

Holding me close, Sam nibbled on my neck, “I think I could make a dinner out of this.”

 

I laughed, “Would you stop?”

 

“Nope,” he said, moving down my neck to my back, “and I’d like to eat on the floor if you’d let me.”

 

Laughing again, I pulled away, “Later honey, right now I have potatoes to worry about.”  I stood up and walked toward the kitchen door, looking back and smiling at him.  "We can have dessert on the floor."

 

“You know,” he said softly, glancing at me, “I wouldn’t mind some of the simpler meals we used to make; burgers or sandwiches or just a casserole.”

 

“I thought you liked my cooking?”

 

Sam nodded, “I do, babe, it’s nothing like that.  I was just saying that you’re not required to cook a real meal all the time.  That I didn’t have a problem when we’d just throw a couple of burgers in a pan and have them with chips, just something easy and simple.”

 

“We can do that if you want,” I said, trying to keep my voice light and easy.

 

“I guess …” he paused as if searching for the right words, “I guess I just sometimes miss throwing a frozen pizza into the oven and crashing in front of the TV when I get home or making a fried bologna sandwich with lots of ketcup.”

 

Despite myself, I made a face, “Yuck, Sam, that’s disgusting.”  But, even as I said that, I knew how much he loved that dinner and it was a staple several times a month when I was working, usually on a Friday or Saturday.  I’d come in late and the aroma of hot, greasy fried meat would still be in the kitchen, despite the open window.  “I’m not sure about fried bologna but I’m sure I can manage a frozen pizza or something if that’s what you really want.”

 

He smiled at me, shaking his head, “It’s OK, Jason.  Go on, go check your potatoes and forget I said anything.  I was just trying to make things easy for you and forgot how much you like to cook, how it’s not work or an imposition for you.”

 

I nodded and gave him a smile, “It’s not a problem but I appreciate you telling me.” Giving a small laugh, I shrugged, “Maybe I have been sort of going over board on the cooking lately.”

 

He laughed, “At least when you go over board, it’s on something really good.”

 

“The kitchen has noted your request, sir,” I said in a formal voice, bowing slightly, “and will pass it along to management.  We are sure that we will have no problem honoring such a request in the future.”  Turning back toward the kitchen, I winked at him to insure he knew I was kidding.  When I stepped into the kitchen though, all pretence of kidding and laughing vanished and I suddenly felt stupid.  Before I had sold the restaurant, we ate the normal meals that most dual income couples ate, simple and normal.  Even when we ate together a few nights a week, it tended to be something in the crock-pot or a casserole that could be made and had for left overs later in the week.  Spaghetti or at least something Italian was always easy, sandwiches, soups, normal simple food instead of the complicated dishes I was now preparing. 

 

Opening the fridge, the large bowl of sliced potatoes soaking in water to prevent browning suddenly seemed ridiculous for a Monday evening.  It was just Sam and me, why was I making a large potato au gratin?  The scene from this morning at Home Depot flashed back to me and, like my story to the clerk, I wondered if I was trying to justify my existence somehow.  To Sam, it was to cook great meals; to myself it was to prove that I still could cook and was still a chef despite the lack of restaurant. To simply cook burgers and open a bag of chips would be like admitting that I no longer cooked and I wasn’t ready to lose that part of myself yet, not when it felt like so many other things were being lost.

 

“You’re letting the cold out,” Sam said softly, coming up behind me.

 

“Sorry,” I said automatically, reaching in and pulling out the offensive bowl of potatoes.

 

Taking the bowl from me, he put it on the counter before hugging me tight and whispering, “Talk to me, babe.”

 

I shook my head, not wanting to look at him, “Nothing to talk about.  I’m fine, really.”  Trying to pull away and bury myself in cooking the stupid meal I felt that I had committed to and now had to cook, I glanced up at him and smiled.  “Seriously, Sam.  I’m fine and totally understand what you’re saying.  Burgers sound great, why don’t we have them tomorrow night?”

 

Not letting go, he held me tight and dropped a hand down to my butt, patting it in a possessive warning.

 

Trying to pull away again, I repeated myself, “Really Sam, I’m fine.”  Even as I said the words, I knew how hollow they sounded to my own ears.

 

“Do we need to go into the office and review what happens when you lie to me?” Sam asked gently, his hands still holding me tight against him.  “We’re in this together for the next fifty or so years and I expect you to be honest with me when I ask you a question.  We both agreed that honesty is important, didn’t we?”

 

I nodded but remained silent even as I brought my own arms up to embrace and hold him close.  I wasn’t trying to be stubborn about telling him, the problem was I simply didn’t know what to tell him, how to give voice to the emotions swirling around today and the last few weeks.  They sounded stupid and whining in my own head and actually vocalizing them would make it a thousand times worse.

 

“You can trust me, Jason,” he said softly.  “You can tell me anything and I won’t get mad or upset or angry with you.  But I can’t help solve the problem or even help you deal with whatever it is if you don’t tell me what’s going on.”

 

“I know,” I said softly, feeling my throat closing up.  “It was just a crappy day, that’s all.”

 

“What was so bad?” he asked, swaying slightly with me in a gentle rocking motion, his hand still holding me close, resting on my butt.

 

I shrugged, “I don’t know really.  I’ve just been in a crappy mood and feeling sorry for myself and feeling stupid about everything.”

 

Pulling back, Sam looked at me, “Stupid about what?”

 

Feeling like a broken record, I said, “I don’t know.”

 

“Just life?” he supplied.

 

“Yeah, I think so.”

 

“Is life that bad right now?” he asked softly, pulling back again so he could look at me.

 

I smiled and shook my head, “No, it’s not really.”

 

“What’s number five?”

 

“Huh?” I asked, confused by his question.

 

Sam smiled and kissed me, “This afternoon, you were giving yourself reasons you had sold the restaurant.  You said number four was so you could be at home to meet workmen.”

 

I laughed, “Oh yeah.”

 

“So what’s number five?”

 

Thinking for a minute, I relaxed slightly into his arms, finally saying, “Number One was to have a better relationship with you.”

 

“Always good,” he confirmed, patting my butt with a chuckle. 

 

“Number two was to spend more time with you, Number three was to have more time to do what I wanted and that’s as far as I got,” I said.

 

“So what’s number five?” he repeated.

 

I laughed again and shrugged, “I don’t know.”

 

Sam patted my butt again before kissing me.  “Ok, why don’t you get some paper then and sit at the table.  You can think about it while I fix dinner.”

 

Looking at the bowl of potatoes sitting on the counter and then at Sam, I tried, and failed as usual, to raise one eyebrow at him.

 

He laughed, “I think I can manage to follow a recipe just fine, Jason.  You don’t have to look so shocked.”

 

“I’m not!” I protested with a laugh.  “But you know, they can just sit in the water overnight and I’ll cook it up tomorrow.”

 

“Maybe that would be easier,” he said, eyeing the large bowl.  “I’m sure I can find something to cook without too much trouble.”  Patting my butt one last time before letting me go, he nodded toward the table.  “Get paper and have a seat.  You've come up with four reasons so far, let's see if you can come up with any more.  Or maybe you want to just expand on the ones you've come up with."

 

“Is this sort of the same idea as a schedule for me?” I asked, not really surprised.  Sam is always a fan of lists and writing things down.  It was a trick he'd used on me since the start of our relationship and I had to admit, it often focused my mind and helped me center my thoughts.  I had often done it before I met Sam in relation to work decisions or to solve problems I was struggling with but had never used it to sort out personal problems.  Part of me still felt that the act of actually writing something down lent a certain permanence to the problem and, in relationships, that was something I had tried to avoid.

 

Opening the kitchen junk drawer, I pulled out the small spiral notebook and pen we kept in there and then sat down at the table, trying to clear my mind.  I could hear Sam starting to hum softly under his breath as he reviewed the contents of the fridge and it made me smile.  Even though he didn’t do it for a living, I would be lying if I said he didn’t know his way around the kitchen or how to cook.  In all honesty, he had done at least half the cooking for us while I worked.  It was usually basic food but it was good and filling and something he took pride in.  As I watched him putter around, the thought that me being home was denying him something he enjoyed crossed my mind.

 

“Are you thinking or procrastinating?” he asked with a smile as he caught me watching him.

 

I laughed, “A bit of both I think.”  Picking up the pen, I quickly wrote out the four reasons I had come up with and then paused, trying to go back to how I felt four months earlier when I had begun to think about selling Jason’s.   My mind was a blank though.  I could easily remember the exhaustion, the bone weary tiredness and how I had to sometimes drag myself home at 2am, resenting the fact I couldn’t just crash on the couch in my small office.  I could also easily remember how wonderful it was to pull into the drive, shower, undress and slip into bed with Sam, who would be fast asleep but who also managed to wake up, kiss me hello and hold me tight while we both fell asleep again.  The first two reasons on my list stood out on the paper as if they were written in neon and summed it all up for me.  Those two sentences were all the reasons I needed to sell the restaurant and fully commit to Sam, to our relationship and to my role in that relationship.  I just wasn’t sure why something I was so sure of, so happy about was making me so unsure and so unhappy.

 

Walking over twenty minutes later, Sam stroked my hair as he sat down, saying, “So how’s it coming?”

 

I jerked myself back into the kitchen and smiled.  “All done?”

 

“I found some rice in the cabinet and with the chicken you had already, made a nice casserole.  It should be ready in about 30 minutes so plenty of time to talk,” he said.  “You looked lost in thought; want to share?”

 

Sighing, I nodded, “I guess so.”

 

He laughed, “That’s the spirit!  All your enthusiasm is just blowing me away Jason. Maybe you can tone it down a bit?”

 

I laughed, “Do you want me to tell you or not?”  At his exaggerated hand gestures to continue, I took a deep breath and plunged in.  “I couldn’t really come up with any more reasons because the first two really say it all.  Number three is important too but not nearly as important as One and Two.  I sold the restaurant mainly because our relationship is more important to me and it wasn’t working with my job.  Maybe some couples, some people, could do it; I know they do but I couldn’t.  I felt we were drifting apart and I didn’t want that.”  Looking at him, I tried to gauge the effect my words were having and relived when he smiled at me.  “When I first started cooking and then got out on my own and started Jason’s, I felt that I had something to prove.  I needed to prove to myself that I was good enough, talented enough, to make a success at something that most people fail at.  And I did it.  Jason’s was a success, without a doubt.”

 

“It still is,” Sam said, interrupting with a nod.  “The Maine Restaurant Group bought it but they’re just managing it; they are doing it all on a foundation you built.  They bought it because of how successful it was and for its reputation.”

 

I grinned at his words, “Yeah, exactly.”  Then, turning serious again, I continued, “So that was done and a success and I felt it was time I turn our relationship and my private life into a success.  When you brought up the idea of a relationship built on set roles, on discipline and expectations and structure, it appealed to me so much.  Both because how it made me feel to be with someone like that, with those expectations, and to see if I could do it.”  I dropped my voice, suddenly feeling embarrassed by my feelings but pushed on, determined to get them out.  “I like the idea of belonging to you, Sam.  I like the idea of being submissive to you and to you having the final say in our relationship and in my life.  I like not being out on my own and I like the idea that there are firm and definite consequences to disappointing you or not doing my best or letting our relationship down.  I gave my cooking and the restaurant 100% for so long and now I really want to do that with you and us.”

 

Leaning over, Sam kissed me gently on the lips.  “And that’s what you’re doing, babe.  I know it’s hard but it’s working.  I’ve never doubted that you’re giving us 100% of your effort, I’ve never thought you’ve failed at it or let me down.”

 

His words gave me courage to go on as I continued, “So I want to be your Brat and for our relationship to be good but I’m just scared of it too.  I’m scared what it’ll mean about me and what people will think and I’m just sort of lost right now.”

 

He nodded, “I understand that, Jason, I really do.  That’s why we’ve been doing a schedule for you and I expect you to stick to it and to obey me on it.”  Smiling, he kissed me again, “Trust me babe, you know I am aware of what you’re doing and if you’re sticking to our schedule.  And you know I won’t hesitate to sufficiently warm your bottom if I think it’s necessary or called for.”

 

I laughed and blushed slightly at his words and nodded, “I know.”

 

“Is there something I’ve missed?  Since I paddled you two weeks ago for not cutting the grass, it seems like you’ve been right on track.

 

Shaking my head, I said, “No.  I think I’ve done OK and I’ve stuck to our schedule even when I think it’s stupid.”

 

Sam smiled and chuckled, “Good.  I expect you to.  I don’t consider it stupid and that’s what counts, right?”  At my nod, he moved closer, picking up my hands and giving them a gentle squeeze.  “Jay, I know this transition is going to take some time.  It’s a big adjustment for both of us and I need you to be honest and open with me.  You can trust me to do my best, both as your Top and as your partner but I need the same from you.  If you feel that I am being too lenient about something or just that you need me to be in more control, even if you can’t pin point exactly where, I need you to tell me.  Let me worry about how to give you the control you’re looking for but I need to know to do something.  If you don’t say anything or if you just send out signals, I might not pick up on them and that’ll just frustrate us both.”

 

I stared at him, admitting softly, “I’ll try but I don’t know if I can.”

 

“It’s OK if you can’t but I need you to try.  I told you when you first sold the restaurant that I intended to be strict with you and firm and I’m not backing off on that.  I think it’s something you need right now and I think it’s also something you want.”

 

Nodding, I dropped my gaze feeling suddenly embarrassed about the whole conversation and my roller coaster emotions. 

 

“Like you said on the porch, lots of changes right now,” Sam continued.  “But we haven’t changed, you haven’t changed and I haven’t changed.  We’re still wonderful together and you’re still totally competent and able to handle anything you put your mind to.  I think we both still need to get used to the changes and that’s going to take time.”

 

“And I guess it really hasn’t been that long,” I said, looking at him.  Sam’s constant ‘we’ and his stance that he too was struggling with all the changes we’d gone through in the last month was making me feel less like a wimp and less alone.

 

He kissed me again, “No, it’s not.  Hell, you haven’t even submitted your first group of recipes yet.  It’s only been a few weeks.”

 

I nodded again, feeling better and less critical of myself, “Yeah but I am working on them.  I’ll meet their deadline.”

 

“Oh, I’m sure of that,” Sam said with a smile.  “Meeting deadlines was never a problem for you.”

 

“Except for getting home on time,” I added with a smile, remembering those semi-frequent discussions.

 

Sam laughed and raised an eyebrow at me, “And I think I managed to nip that in the bud pretty quickly.”

 

“Oh?” I asked, “Is that what we’re calling it now? The bud?”  Laughing, I leaned over and kissed him, hugging him tight.  “Thank you,” I whispered.

 

 

 

“I’m sorry I ever doubted you,” I said as I scooped the left over chicken and rice into a plastic container after dinner.  “You did a great job with dinner.  It was perfect.”

 

Sam grinned as he rinsed the plates and put them into the dishwater.  “I’m glad you approve.  Coming from a true Chef, that’s a compliment.”

 

I laughed again, feeling better since our talk and my confessions.  “So when are you going to start working late? Next week?”

 

He nodded as he closed the dishwasher.  “Probably and it won’t be every night or probably that late.” Glancing at the clock reading almost 7:30, he said, “I’d imagine around this time or a little later.  I’m sure I’ll be home by 9 every evening.”

 

“Oh that’s not bad,” I said honestly, feeling relived it wasn’t going to be extremely late.  "Late for me used to be 2am."

 

Sam laughed, reaching out as I passed and pulling me close, lying a loud kissing my neck while I struggled to get free.  "I remember those late nights but think this is much better."

 

"Stop," I ordered, "you're going to make me drop the food."

 

Nipping slightly at the sensitive skin of my neck just above my shirt collar, Sam muttered, "Uh huh, babe.  You don't give the orders around here, remember?"

 

I laughed, pulling away and grinning as Sam gave a disappointed groan.  Walking to the fridge, I slid the container inside and wiggled my eyebrows at him.

 

"You look like you're having facial twitches when you do that," he observed, still grinning.

 

Snorting, I frowned, "And here I was going to be nice and ask if you were interested in a little …"  I paused as I smiled sweetly at him, making sure the emphasis on the word would be just right, "dessert."

 

"And what did you have in mind?" he asked, his grin taking on a more wolfish air as he walked closer.

 

I closed the refrigerator and leaned against the door, still smiling innocently.  "I don't know, maybe brownies?"

 

"Never really cared for girls," Sam dead-panned as he cornered me.

 

Despite the seductive and serious atmosphere I was trying to create, I laughed and shook my head.  "That was bad, you know."

 

Leaning in, he kissed me gently, his hand running down my hip and back to my butt.  "You're not the only one who's bad in this relationship, Brat."

 

"Is that so?" I whispered, kissing him back, feeling my cock begin to harden.  "I thought Tops were suppose to be Good and Pure and Straight Arrows."

 

"Great maybe," Sam said between kisses, "you seem to think so at least but definitely, not straight."

 

I laughed again as Sam began to laugh too.  "Those lines are just going to kill the whole Dangerous Seduction thing I was trying to go for."

 

"How about a Fun Romping thing instead?"  His hand played with the button on my jeans as he effortlessly raised an eyebrow.  "I think that sounds just as good."  Undoing the button, he inched the zipper down over the growing bulge of my cock.  "It looks like you agree."

 

I laughed again, bringing my own hand to his cock and giving it a gentle squeeze.  "Judging by this, I'd say you do too."

 

He grinned, kissing me again as his hand undid my zipper further.

 

 

 

Lying in bed that night, feeling Sam's warm breath on my back, I felt safe and loved.  It wasn't just the sex, even though I'm sure that added to my feeling of contentment, but it was more the fact that I had told him how I was feeling and he understood.  It wasn't dismissed as stupid or brushed off as silly and even though I was embarrassed admitting what I wanted, what I needed, Sam wasn't.  He didn't blink or cringe and certainly didn't see it as a negative.  It was interesting though that he so easily accepted that part of me of me and those feelings when I was still having trouble with it.  Was it that they weren’t his feelings so they were easier to accept?  Or was it because he was in the power position, if you will, in our relationship so they weren’t remotely negative to him and in fact enhanced his position? Or was it simply that, like Greg, he was more at peace with his needs and mine and accepting that they had no more greater meaning toward the worth of a person than a favorite color or food?  That peace is what I was desperate to grab onto and hold tight to my chest.  Over the last few weeks I had been tantalizingly close to it, touching it and briefly holding it but it had always slipped through my fingers.  When I was able to hold it, touch it, the world was good and I felt calm and happy.  When it slipped through my fingers, it was as if the motion sent me spinning out of control and I was unable to stop myself.  Only Sam’s firm control, sometimes found over his lap but other times just in his words and small touches, brought me back in control  Tonight though, it felt as if finally finding that peace and keeping it was possible and easily within my grasp.

 

 

 

I brought that idea up to Greg at lunch the next day to see his reaction and see if he thought it was something I would eventually be able to manage on my own.

 

“Do I count on Josh to keep me under control?” he asked as we sat down with our drinks.

 

I nodded, “Yeah.  It’s like right now, I can sort of feel this maybe .. acceptance of my role in my relationship with Sam.”  I was stumbling over my words but, judging by his expression, he was understanding what I was saying.  “It’s like some days or weeks, everything will be fine and then something will set me off and it’s like I’m spinning out of control and I need Sam to grab hold and make everything right again.  Even if he’s not really doing anything, like solving a problem or something.  Does that make sense?”

 

Greg nodded just as both our vibrating pagers went off to signal our orders were ready. 

 

Grabbing his, I said, “I’ll get them.”

 

As I sat back down a minute later, he nodded. 

 

“I know what you’re talking about Jason and it makes sense.  For me at least, it’s one of the aspects of my relationship with Josh.  I still go through what you’re talking about but probably not as frequently as you right now, but I used to, especially in the beginning.”  He laughed, shaking his head while he took a bite of his sandwich.  “I swear to you Jason, I think there were times a few months after we got together that I saw more of the corner in our guest room and the carpeting in there than any other part of the house.”

 

I laughed, “I don’t think it’s that bad yet.”

 

“I’d hope not,” he said in an honest sounding voice.  “But, I need different things than you do and for me, it worked.  I needed Josh to have that much control and to discipline me even if I hadn’t done anything specifically wrong, just to show me and prove to me that he could and would.  I needed that almost constant pressure and control from him.”

 

“Yeah,” I said softly, not really sure what else to say

 

“There’s no magic fix to this adjustment, Jason,” he said a moment later.  “You just have to sort of muddle through it.  Listen to yourself and trust Sam and be as honest and as open about what you need, not just what you want, as possible.”

 

“That’s the hard part,” I said.

 

He nodded, “It is but it’s also what makes it work.”  He laughed again, “Do you think it’s always easy for me to be honest and open with Josh about stuff?”

 

“But you seem to be!” I said, surprised when he shook his head in answer to his own question.  “You seem totally comfortable with everything.”

 

Greg laughed again, leaning in closer, “I’m comfortable with it and I accept who I am but, trust me, Jason, it’s still ungodly hard to tell Josh that I’m feeling lost or slipping out of control and that I need him to crack down on me.  As much as I like the feeling and the security, I hate being punished or being reminded of my place in our relationship.”  He leaned back with a grin, “I’m not that into S&M.”

 

I blushed at the words and quickly glanced around the small restaurant to see if anyone else heard his words.

 

 

As usual, my head was spinning and I replayed the conversation with Greg for the rest of the day.

 

 

The next two weeks went by smoothly.  I’m not sure if my talk with Sam made the difference or if I was finally starting to find my own routine and rhythm for life again or a combination of both.  I was busy around the house and with all the weekly things that needed to be taken care of so that we didn’t have to do them on the weekends while Sam was off.  The first submission of recipes for the cookbook were due soon and that project kept me busy several hours a day and made me feel like a professional again. 

 

I had also been contacted by an old co-worker who taught adult education classes at the local community college about helping him with a short series of classes this fall.  It was a 5-week class one night a week for three hours.  I checked with Sam and then told him I’d love to help.

 

 

 

We had gotten through the first two weeks mainly by me telling myself that soon it would be over and everything would be back to normal.  The first two weeks his predictions for how late he’d be had been on the mark and he called the three times he was than he expected.  I had been an understanding, considerate partner, having nice easy-to-eat or re-heat dinners waiting for him when he got home, ready to hear about his day, rub his shoulders, or to give him some quiet time to unwind and relax before I tried to talk.  My job was to be there as his support, just like he had been there for me many times in the past.  I didn’t mind at all.

 

This week though had been different.  Monday had rated no call but he was only thirty minutes late, not rolling in the door until just after eight.  Tuesday was the same and I had gently mentioned that I was worried and asked that he try to call if he was going to be later then normal.  That had earned me a kiss and an apology and a promise.  Now, Thursday was following the pattern of the rest of the week and I was furious.  Glancing at the clock in my upstairs office for the third time in less then an hour, I seethed and swore out loud.  It was after nine already, no word from Sam.  Angrily closing out the proposal I was working on for the Maine Restaurant Group's presentation due tomorrow, I stormed out of the office, feeling my anger build with each step.

 

Stomping into the kitchen, I glared at the clock again as it innocently clicked over to 9:18.  The bright red numbers seemed to match my mood instead of giving it the cheery uniqueness that had originally appealed to us.  I jerked open the oven and glared at the casserole.  It was covered with foil and still warm when I pulled it out and all but threw it on the stove.  In all honesty and if I had been thinking with my head and not letting my actions be controlled by my emotions, I'm sure I would have known the casserole wasn't ruined and could still be eaten by Sam whenever he got home. No harm, no foul and not that big of a deal. It was a simple baked ziti with Italian sausage slices.  There wasn't anything in there to be ruined and it wasn't especially heavy.  But, in my mind, it was now totally wasted.  Bubbling silently just below the surface was the small desire to punish him for breaking his promise to call and being too inconsiderate to care about me.  Selfish? Rude? Disrespectful to him? Overly emotional and blowing it way out of proportion? Yes, I'm sure to all of that but --- what can I say? That's what I was feeling and those were the emotions I was reacting to.

 

Dividing up the warm food into four servings, I scooped one out for myself, and put rest away into the refrigerator for later.  I carried the bowl into the living room, flipped on the TV and pretended to watch while I mindlessly ate my dinner.  I’m assuming it was good; it could have tasted like potting soil and I’m not sure I would have noticed.

 

Ten minutes later, I gave the dish a quick rinse in the sink before putting it into the dishwasher and heading back upstairs.  It was only 9:30 but I didn’t want to be up when Sam got home.  I wasn’t in the mood to talk, to make nice or to ask questions about his day – all I wanted to do was yell at him for being inconsiderate and not calling.  Thinking back on it, the thought of him being in an accident never crossed my mind. I know it was possible but I just knew that wasn’t it.

 

The garage door, fixed thanks to my service call and sitting around the house waiting for Hank the Serviceman to finally show up, opened 45 minutes later.  I was laying in bed pretending to read and pretending not to be still fuming when I heard it.  In the silence of the house, I heard the kitchen door open and close and saw the faint glow the kitchen light flipping on.  I knew what I was supposed to do, I knew what a Good Partner would do but instead I angrily rolled over, tossed my book on the nightstand and flipped off the light.  Laying in the darkness, I heard him moving around the kitchen, water running for a moment, the scrape of a chair and then silence again.  Five minutes later the kitchen went dark as Sam made his way upstairs. 

 

Coming into the bedroom quietly, Sam whispered slightly into the darkness, “I am so sorry I’m late.”

 

Not bothering to pretend I was asleep since he surely saw my light and knew I wouldn’t fall asleep this early without him, I said in a normal voice, “It’s fine.”  I could hear him getting undressed in the darkness but stubbornly refused to roll over and look at him or to turn on my light.

 

“I need to take a quick shower and I’ll be right out and you can tell me just how ‘fine’ it really was,” he said softly as he made his way into the bathroom, shutting the door before he turned on the light.

 

I wasn’t interested in talking; I wasn’t interested in finding out where he was or how his day had gone or anything like that.  He was home and safe and the small knot of ice that had been growing ever so slightly with each click of the clock was gone.  I don’t think I had really thought I was worried until I felt it melt with the sound of the garage door.  The shower ran for several minutes but when the bathroom door finally opened  I stayed firmly on my side of the bed, facing away from him and refusing to say anything.

 

“I’m so sorry I was late, babe,” he said as he slipped into bed, his bare skin still slightly damp from the shower.  “I went to call several times but each time, something came up or I kept thinking we were wrapping up and I’d call as soon as I got into the car.”  Rolling over next to me, he ran a hand down my back, wisely not going any further then my waist.  “I’m sorry though.”

 

Knowing full well he was waiting for me to say something, tell him it was OK, tell him I understood or at least move beneath his touch – accepting his apology without words – I stubbornly stayed quiet.   I know it was silly and childish but I was mad and angry and wasn’t in the mood to be a Good Partner.  Let him lay over there alone tonight and feel guilty about it.

 

Sam moved closer and kissed my neck. “I’m sorry Jason,” he said in a sincere voice.  “It won’t happen again.  I’m sure you were worried and I should have made more of an effort to call you.”

 

“It would have been nice,” I said coolly, rolling slightly away from him and his hands.  “There’s dinner in the fridge if you’re interested.”

 

Not moving any closer, he said, “I am hungry.  We were so busy we worked straight through and no one thought to even order pizza.”  His fingers brushed my shoulder lightly as his voice dropped, “I haven’t had anything to eat since a bag of pretzels around 3.  Maybe you want to come down stairs with me and keep me company while I eat?”

 

“It’s baked ziti and Italian sausage.  You can microwave it for a few minutes and it’ll be good.  I’m sure you can manage that on your own,” I said, still refusing to look at him.  “I ate an hour ago when I finally accepted that you weren’t coming home at a normal hour and you weren’t going to call.  It’s late now, I’m tired and I want to go to sleep.”

 

Sam rolled off the bed and sat up, “Fine. I said I was sorry, I meant that I was sorry but you can lay here and sulk if it makes you feel all superior, Jason. It’s such a pleasant thing to come home to after a long day at work.”

 

I could hear the annoyance in his voice and could easily picture the expression on his face as I heard him grab his robe from behind the bedroom door and stalk back down the stairs.  Resisting the urge to sit up in bed and yell at him that I wasn’t sulking and I would have been pleasant if he had remembered to call.  Instead I rolled over on my back and glared at the dark ceiling and listened to Sam reheat his dinner.

 

 

In the morning, there was still a chill in the air between us even as we both tried to act normal.  It was a strange thing and something that hadn’t happened since I sold the restaurant.  Even when I was working, it was rare for us to carry a fight over into the morning or at least this late in the morning.  The fact that it was still going on was, in all honesty, my fault.  Sam had come back to bed about thirty minutes later and kissed me lightly on my head, whispering good night.

 

I could have rolled over against him, snuggled up and forgiven him.  But instead, I stayed firmly on my side, facing the window and pretended to be asleep.  I could have curled up against him during the night and I could have touched and submitted to him in the morning, allowing him to reciprocate before we both got out of bed.  Sex and the required submission, dominance, touching and closeness had served before as an unspoken make up session after previous fights.  But not this time.

 

“So what’s on your schedule today?” Sam asked as he came into the kitchen, yawning.  “Do you need some help?”

 

Pulling two plates out of the oven where they were heating with the baking biscuits, I shook my head.  “No thank you, I’ve got it.”  I tried to keep my voice even, neither condemning or forgiving, just matter of fact.

 

Sam ignored my comment and pulled out the carton of orange juice, pouring us each a glass.  “Smells great,” he said as he sipped at his juice, handing me my own glass.

 

“Thank you,” I said as I took a small sip before putting it on the counter.  I was still hurt and furious with him but I also didn’t really know why.  Yes, he should have called; yes, he promised to call; yes, he broke that promise but it’s also life and the mistakes that go along with it. The logical side of me understood that and accepted that.  The emotional side though, the side that was currently ruling my actions, demanded something else.  I just wasn’t sure what that something else was

 

“Your biscuits smell great,” Sam said as he peered into the frying pan with the cooking sausage.  “I swear, people who get sausage egg biscuits from a drive thru don’t know how great the real thing is until they have one made at home.”

 

Brushing past him, I lifted the sausage patties onto paper towels to drain.  “These are ready if you want to sit down, the eggs are in the other pan.”

 

Sam opened the door and pulled out the cookie sheet with four beautiful biscuits on it.  “Perfect.”

 

A minute later we were sitting at the kitchen table quietly eating.

 

“I asked you earlier,” he said, breaking the silence, “what you were doing today and I don’t remember what you said.”

 

Fighting the urge to shoot back that he was obviously having trouble with his memory lately and knowing full well I hadn’t answered him, I said instead, “I’ve got a meeting with the restaurant people at 9:30 at the restaurant and then I’m having lunch with Greg.  After lunch, I’ve got some errands to run for us and have to pick up that gift certificate for your Aunt.  You remember her birthday is next week, don’t you?  We said we’re getting her a certificate from the bookstore.”

 

He nodded, chewing his biscuit for a moment before swallowing.  “Yeah, I remember that’s coming up.  I’m sure I’ve got it on my calendar at work to remember to call her.  If we get it in the mail by Saturday, she’ll get it in time.  It only takes a few days to get mail down to Florida.  Are you going to get a card too while you’re out?”

 

I nodded, “I’m not the one who's having memory problems lately.”  The words popped out of my mouth and I was instantly ashamed of them when I saw his hurt expression.  Biting my tongue, I held the apology, not wanting to look weak or give him any quarter when I was still mad and felt justified in my anger.

 

“I said I was sorry, Jason,” he said quietly, looking at me.  “I meant it both times when I said it last night and I mean it now.  I know it was rude, I know it was inconsiderate and I’m sure it hurt you.  I’m sorry for all of that but it was a mistake on my part and just carelessness.  It wasn’t done to hurt you on purpose.”  He looked at me, forcing me to meet his gaze for a long moment before he continued, "Obviously you want to talk about it more.  Do you want to do that now? I've got a good fifteen minutes.  Or do you want to do it tonight when I get home?"

 

Meeting his gaze, I said evenly, "And what time do you think that will be? It's getting later and later so tonight, should I expect you around midnight?"

 

Angrily jerking back and standing, the chair scraping loudly across the floor, he glared at me.  "That's enough from you.  I said I was sorry, I've offered to talk about it with you but you're having too much fun throwing it back in my face with oh-so-witty one line comments like an ass.  I'm done."  Picking up his last biscuit, he wrapped it in his napkin and put his plate in the sink next to the sausage pan.  "This kitchen is a mess, I expect it to be cleaned tonight before I get home around eight.  I also expect you to be in a better mood and if you'd like to talk about last night, make a list of your complaints and my sins so we can review them together.  If not, I'll consider the matter closed and expect you to drop it and the wonderful attitude."  Picking up his food, he walked over and roughly kissed me, "Call me if you want later and good luck with your meeting."

 

I didn't turn around or react to his kiss, sitting stiffly in my chair until I heard the garage door close behind his car.  "Bastard," I muttered to myself, pushing back from the table and stalking upstairs to shower and begin my own day.

 

 

My presentation went well and everyone seemed happy with the preliminary recipes I had picked out and with the publisher’s suggestions for cookbook design and lay-out.  Watching my name and the logo I had designed go on a book filled with my recipes was sort of bitter sweet and as I left the meeting, part of me wished I had gotten it together enough to have put out my cookbook while the restaurant had still been mine.  As I slide into my car, the reality of that hit me, causing me to laugh out loud.  “That’s right, Jason; in all your free time you would have been able to put together a cookbook.  That would have gone over like a lead balloon and looked just as attractive,” I said to myself. 

 

The anger I had felt earlier at Sam had subsided a bit and I toyed with my phone while I was stopped at a red light.  Part of me really wanted to call him, tell him how great it had gone and to just say hello.  I was probably over reacting to him being late and he had apologized for it a couple of times, I reasoned with myself.  But, another part of me chimed in, would that have gotten you out of trouble if it had been you that had forgotten to call?  The answer to that, of course, was no.  So, the defiant part of me continued, you’re suppose to be the good little Brat; submissive to the Top’s wishes, allowing him to have the final say and accepting his discipline when he feels it’s called for.  But what happens to him when he screws up?  Isn’t his punishment then you being angry at him?

 

 

 

“So, Greg,” I said after the waiter took our orders, “can I ask you a sort of personal question?”

 

The other man nodded, “Sure.  What do you want to know?”  Dipping a chip into the bowl of salsa he shoved the whole thing into his mouth as he looked at me.

 

“Do you ever have a problem with the idea that when Josh does something wrong or upsetting you can’t do anything about it?”  I leaned closer, my voice dropping to an almost whisper as I continued.  “You know, it’s not like you can do what he does to you when you screw up.”

 

Nodding, he ate another chip, “I know what you’re saying but I haven’t had a problem with it really.”  He thought for a minute, “It was something that bothered me a little years ago and took me a little bit of time to wrap my mind around it but it’s not an issue now.  Why?  Did Sam do something that’s pissed you off?”

 

"He was late last night and didn't call me.  It's the third time it's happened this week and he promised he'd call after he was late on Tuesday and didn't."

 

Greg made a face, eating another salsa laden chip.  "Yeah, I'd be pissed too.  Did he tell you why he was so late?  What time did he come home?"

 

I nodded as I ate my own chip, "He said he got caught up at work and kept meaning to call but then he'd be interrupted or thought they'd be done in a minute and just one thing led to another, I guess.  He got home a little after 10, about two hours late."

 

He thought for a minute before nodding slightly, "Yeah, I'd be upset too and I think you have the right to be upset and angry about it.  He made a promise and broke it."  Pausing for a minute, he looked at me and gave a small shrug, "But you know, those sort of things happen.  Best intentions and all that, you know?  Did he seem sorry?"

 

"Yeah, he did," I said honestly.  "He apologized a couple of times last night and again this morning."

 

"But you didn't accept it? You're still mad?"

 

Nodding again, I agreed, "I am and I'm not sure why really but I'm furious with him and just think it's so unfair."

 

"But what's unfair," Greg asked, sipping at his coke.

 

"That he can just do that and nothing happens to him!" I said, my voice rising a bit.  "That I can't do anything really to him, I can't tell him how mad I am at him and hurt that he didn't call."  I glanced around the crowded Mexican restaurant and saw that no one was even glancing our way before lowering my voice again and leaning in, "I'm mad that if it were me that did this, I'd be in trouble but with him, nothing happens.  Then this morning, I tried to tell him how upset I was and we ended up getting into a bit of a fight and he acted like a total bastard, as if he weren’t the one who was causing the problems."

 

Greg eyed me and then smiled slightly, "Don't take this the wrong way or anything, Jason and I may be totally wrong, but did you actually tell him verbally how upset you were? Or were you just sitting around with a frown and hissing, wanting him to figure it out on his own?"

 

I was saved from answering for a few moments while the waiter delivered our lunches.  The good smells coming up from the melted cheese and crispy chimichangas made my mouth water and taking a large bite delayed my anticipated response another few seconds.

 

"So?  Is that pretty accurate?" Greg asked around his own bite of taco, not forgetting his question for a moment.

 

"No," I shot back defensively.  "I wasn't sulking and I wasn't hissing.  I made breakfast for us as usual and I didn't say anything until he said something."  Looking at Greg's bemused and obviously unbelieving expression, I shrugged, adding, "For the most part at least.  I might have been a little quiet this morning and I didn't really speak to him last night."

 

"So when you say that you can't tell him how you feel," he said, "did you actually try or is this an assumption or what exactly?  I mean, I don't know Sam anywhere near as well as you do of course but he's never really struck me as someone who wouldn't let you tell him you're upset.  You told him you were hurt, disappointed, whatever and he held up his hand said Stop? Or Talk to the hand? Or something"  A smile twitched across his face as he looked at me.

 

Glaring at my friend for a second, I said, "No Gregory, that's not what happened."  I shook my head, taking another large bite of fried tortilla, "If you're going just make fun of me, forget it.  I'm sorry I said anything."

 

Greg laughed, "Oh get over it, Jason.  I'm teasing you and you know it.  I'm just trying to get you to be honest about what happened."

 

I thought about his words for a long moment before giving him a shrug.  "Yeah, what you said earlier was fairly accurate.  Sam didn't actually tell me to stop or anything and I don't know if I've actually said the exact words that I was hurt and disappointed that he didn't call.  This morning after I sort of made a rude comment, he did tell me that if we wanted to talk, we would this evening and if not, he expected me to drop the attitude."

 

"So which is it?"

 

"What?" I asked, totally confused by his question.

 

"Which one are you going to do tonight – talk to him about it and have your say or just drop the issue?" Greg clarified. 

 

I shrugged again, honestly unsure of my answer.  "I don’t know," I said softly, taking another bite of my food as I thought.  "I don't know if there is anything to say really but at the same time, I don't know if I can drop it.  I'm so pissed at him, Greg and it's so unfair."  My voice rose again as I thought about the situation, "I mean, if it had been me, I would have been paddled within five minutes of getting home.  I would have barely been able to offer up any excuses, not that any short of kidnapping would have been accepted."

 

"I know," he said with a smile, "I do understand what you're saying.  I guess for me though, I've rationalized it ..."

 

"How?" I asked, interrupting him.

 

"I've thought about it and accepted that 'Fair'," he explained, doing finger quotes around the last word, "doesn't always play a big part in this kind of relationship.  Really it's not in most relationships.  I didn't agree to my relationship with Josh under the impression that it was always going to be 'Fair'.  Did you?"

 

Shaking my head, I waited for him to continue.

 

"I went into it knowing the rules, so to speak and knowing my role and also what Josh's role is and that there is an inherent unbalance there.  I've given Josh the right to make all the final decisions in our relationship; I've given him the right to have all the final says in my behavior.  Is it 'Fair' if he says that I can't wear a favorite pair of jeans because they're too small in his opinion even though I find them comfortable?  Is it 'Fair' that even though we have plenty of money in the checking account and I have a nice chunk of my own in savings, that I'm on a strict $200 a month allowance while he can spend whatever he wants?"  He paused for a second, giving me time to think about his words, while he took a sip of his drink.  "To an outsider looking in, the answers are No, it's not fair.  But to me, having agreed to the relationship, loving the relationship, I think it is.  It's not really an issue of Fair, is it?  To me, it's more about Sam apologizing for his mistake and making it up to you by not repeating it."

 

Nodding my head, I heard and understood the truth and wisdom behind the words but still said in a quiet voice, "But I'm so mad at him about it, Greg.  I don't know why and I don't know how to get over it."

 

Greg nodded, saying, “I know, it’s tough sometimes.  I think the only way to get over it is to talk to Sam, tell him that you’re upset, let him apologize again and then you just have to accept it.  You have to accept that he made a mistake, that he’s human and that none of that changes your relationship at all.”  Taking another bite of his food, he chewed for a minute, watching me think.  “What else can you do, Jason?  Do you want to spank him?”

 

I blushed at the idea and shook my head with an embarrassed grin, “No.”

 

He laughed, “I didn’t think so but I figured it’d make you smile.  So if you don’t want to spank him first, then you might as well just go ahead and forgive him.  Whatever you do though, I’d suggest you drop the attitude.  Josh might feel I’m justified in being upset with him but he draws the line at disrespectful and just being belligerent and rude to him.  That will get my butt in trouble quicker than almost anything else.”  He laughed again, and shook his head as if ridding himself of a memory, “Trust me, you’d much rather have the conversation about what he did wrong without a stinging butt to remind you of what you did wrong too.  It makes the forgive and make up session afterwards much nicer.”

 

“You’re probably right,” I said with a small smile.  Greg usually was when it came to relationship issues, especially the delicate ones in relationships like ours.  He and Josh had been together for so long now that they had mostly moved past the early struggles and issues that Sam and I were still working on.  They had both settled into their roles, molded them to fit their own personalities and what each wanted and needed to be happy and now probably just had to make the small adjustments that all relationships made over time.  That didn’t mean they were without their problems or didn’t fight or anything like that, of course.  Just that Greg had accepted his place in the relationship and had embraced all that came with it, the good and the bad.  Being able to do that was my dream and what I wanted.

 

Taking a long sip of his drink, he smiled, “I usually am.”

 

I laughed, feeling better as I finished my food.

 

“So did you ever tell Sam about what you did in Home Depot?” Greg asked a few minutes later.

 

Shaking my head, I grinned at him, “No, I think that needs to stay just between us.”

 

He had the good manners to blush slightly, saying, “Oh..”

 

“You told Josh, didn’t you?”

 

“You didn’t say not to,” he said, his voice rising indignantly.  “He’s my partner, I tell him pretty much everything.”  He laughed, “Besides which, I’ll lay money on if it had been me and my story, you would have told Sam.”

 

I shrugged, “Of course.”

 

Flicking a piece of corn chip at me, he grinned.  “Anyway, as I was going to say before I was so rudely interrupted...”

 

I made a continue gesture with my hand, “Please, do tell.”

 

“Ass,” he commented with a loving grin before he laughed and turned more serious again.  “I do think, when you’re talking to Sam tonight and after you’ve gotten his mistake out of the way, you should tell him what you did at Home Depot …”

 

“Why?” I asked, interrupting again.  “Do you think I should get in trouble for that?”

 

Greg frowned, “If you’d shut up for ten seconds and let me finish a thought, I’d tell you.  I swear Jason, Sam obviously needs to beat some manners into you or maybe get you a nice ball gag until you learn to hold your tongue.”

 

From the way he rolled his eyes, I could tell he was mostly kidding but clamped my mouth shut and waited for him to finish.

 

“You should tell him what you did at Home Depot and how you were feeling.  I can’t help but think that some of your anger over Sam’s actions is being maybe magnified because of how you’re feeling about a lot of things these days.”  He paused as the waiter came over to clear our plates.  When the man was gone, he continued, “You’ve been through a lot of changes the last couple of months, a lot of adjustments and you’re putting a lot of pressure on yourself about it.  I know Sam’s been helping, you said he’s been really strict lately and I’m sure that’s helping and I know you said you’ve been talking to him about how you’re feeling.  Him being firmly in control has got to make you feel better and has got to be helping.”

 

I nodded and muttered, “Yeah, it does.”

 

“So maybe him making a mistake was upsetting to you on two levels.  One, as a partner – he broke a promise to you and was inconsiderate.  Most partners in relationships would be a bit pissed over that.  But, two, as your Top – he broke a rule that your household had, at least for you and an implied one for him.”  He shrugged, toying with his almost empty glass, “I don’t know but to me it just seems like that might make you feel a bit unsettled and as if the stability you’ve been expecting and needing the last few months especially has just been given a serious jolt.”

 

I nodded slowly, for some reason ashamed to meet Greg’s gaze and I instead played with the ice in my drink.

 

“What’s wrong?”

 

Forcing myself to look up, I shrugged, “I don’t know.”  When he didn’t say anything, just continued to sit there patiently waiting for me to continue, I said, “I guess I don’t like to think that I’m reacting like a Brat.”

 

“Why not?”

 

“I don’t know,” I said honestly.  I really had no clue why the idea of that bothered me so much.  I had been struggling to be a Brat, embrace the whole idea of our relationship and to live it as it was supposed to be and now that I was acting like one, I hated the idea.  Spying the checks on the table, I reached for mine.  “Want to get going?”

 

“Yeah,” Greg agreed with a smile as he reached for his wallet for his tip, “Josh should be done with his latest chapter and he wanted me to give it a read through to see what I thought before it goes in the Completed pile.”

 

Happy about the change of subject, I asked, “What’s this book about?”

 

“Vampires,” he said with a grin.  “I told him to be careful about stepping into Anne Rice’s territory; that woman scares me and I’ve heard she’s a bit of a loose canon if she gets wind that anyone is even remotely touching what she considers her writing genre.”

 


Walking into the house thirty minutes later, I saw the mess still in the kitchen and made a face.  I had stopped at home to change clothes before I ran errands and had managed to block out the memory of the kitchen. The grease from the sausage had congealed on the stove top and the pan was full of greasy water.  I had always prided myself on keeping a spotless kitchen at the restaurant and my employees had all known that the quickest way to get on my bad side if not out and out fired was to leave the kitchen a disaster area.  Being neat, clean and orderly was the sign for most chefs of a well run and organized kitchen, not to mention one free of Department of Health sanctions. 

 

As I turned on the hot water, Sam’s comment as he left this morning about how the kitchen better cleaned flashed through my head.  I’ll be honest and admit that I was very tempted to shut the water off and forget the whole thing, to let Sam deal with it when he got home.  The problem with that plan was that I knew how Sam would deal with it and me getting in trouble would just detract from the issues that I wanted to address with him tonight.  Plus, I can’t stand for the kitchen to be a mess.  Of course, I reasoned with myself as I sprayed degreaser on the stove, it wouldn’t be a good idea just to get it dirty again in a few hours by cooking dinner.  We could have left-overs tonight and if Sam didn’t want that, there was always canned soup in the pantry.

 

Strange as it may sound, the simple task of cleaning the kitchen cleared my mind totally.  You might think I'd be mulling over my conversation with Greg or my reactions to it or even planning my conversation with Sam tonight but that would be wrong.  Or, maybe more accurately, you might be right and you might be wrong.  I could easily lose myself in a task like cleaning the kitchen while my mind roamed free and worked out whatever was bothering it almost subconsciously.  Then, when I was ready to sit down and think about the issue or deal with the problem, the solution seemed much easier to find than it had been earlier. 

 

The phone rang just as I was wringing out the washcloth into the clean sink and I ignored it.  Until I started staying at home, I had no idea the vast number of solicitation and wrong number calls we got a day.  Shutting off the water, I strained my ears as I heard Sam's recorded voice play as the answering machine picked up.  A moment later Sam's live voice came over the speaker and I briefly considered picking up the line and begin to work on our making up.

 

"Hey, it's me," he said and then paused as if he knew I was home and waiting for me to pick up.  "OK, I guess you're not home from lunch yet.  I just wanted to say that I'll be home normal time tonight, if not a little earlier.  Everyone is tired from the late nights and it is Friday night.  I think I'd have a riot on my hands if I suggested we work late again.  I hope everything went well with your meeting and if you want, you can give me a call and let me know or just tell me tonight."  He paused again and then added, "It's almost two now so that gives you about three hours to clean up the kitchen before I'm home to inspect it. If you pass, maybe we’ll go out and get ice cream tonight after dinner."

 

All feelings of closeness, love and the desire to make up that had been slowly building all day disappeared in a flash of red haze over my eyes as anger flared inside at his last comment.  What exactly did he mean, 'inspect it'?  Was I suddenly some little kid who needed to have their work approved by a teacher? Or some kid waiting for daddy's approval of their chores before allowed to watch TV in the evening?  Was that the whole reason for his call – to give me fair warning that I only had three hours until he got home, not the six he has implied at breakfast?  I was so furious I could barely see straight.  Throwing the washrag over the sink divide to dry, I swore out loud at him.   A few minutes later, I pulled my car out of the garage to finish up my errands for the day and also to kill time.  I had no intention of being home when His Royal Highness decided to inspect and grade his lover’s work.

 

The bookstore is a great place to kill time.  I browsed the stacks for awhile and then, because I was still fuming, bought a small cheap journal and pen I really didn’t need and carried them into the attached coffeeshop.  Over two chocolate chip cookies and a carton of milk, I began to write out my feelings and my list of complaints with Sam.  The list started, of course, with the easy stuff – mostly how annoying Sam had been the last two days and going back to his sins of the past years.   But, gradually by the end of the first page, I had begun to move into the more difficult and personal areas that I wanted to talk about with him.  How scared I was of being off work, how scared I was of not having money even though we were richer then either one of us had dreamed of thanks to the sale of the restaurant, how much I craved submitting and surrendering to him completely and how much that craving scared and embarrassed me.  Greg was right, I think, in that I was unsettled and maybe a bit disappointed by Sam’s actions last night.  I was unsettled about so many things right now and had counted of Sam to be the one to magically keep everything balanced for me.  While he could help a lot, the ultimate responsibility for keeping myself balanced was on me.  Just like deciding to sell the restaurant and balancing those two parts of my life, it wasn’t Sam’s job or responsibility to tell me how to do it, it was solely up to me. 

 

Looking down at the page in the notebook where I had just written the words “Solely up to me”, I nodded, agreeing with the words and the feelings that had come out almost unconsciously from my pen.  I put the pen back on the paper and continued to write out my thoughts.

 

An hour later, my cookies and milk long gone, I glanced up from my journal, blinking a bit as I dragged myself back to the bookstore and away from my own thoughts.  I had reread what I had written and gone on to make a more organized and rational list of items and issues I wanted to talk about with Sam when he got home.  Even though I was still mad at him, I was no longer so irrationally furious as I had been earlier. 

 

 

 

As I hit the button for the garage door to open when I pulled into our driveway, I made a face as I saw Sam’s car already there.  Glancing at the clock, I saw it was only 5 and he was an hour early.  I have to admit, if I hadn’t already loudly announced my presence with the opening of the garage door, I would have been tempted to pull away.  I had counted on the last hour to calm down further and prepare my notes, go over what I wanted to say and how, before talking to him.

 

Before I was even out of the car, he had opened to door to the house and was standing there with a small frown on his face.

 

“Where have you been?” he demanded in a tight voice.  “I get home early and find the house empty and dark and no note.  When I called this afternoon a couple of times, there was no answer.”

 

Getting out of the car, I struggled to keep my temper in check and concentrate on the list in my notebook.  “Where would I be? I told you this morning I was going to run errands.  You said in your message that you’d be home around 6 and it’s just now five.”

 

“So you were here when I left that message?” Sam asked, his voice clearly annoyed.  “Why didn’t you pick up the phone then?”

 

“I was in the middle of cleaning the kitchen when you called,” I shot back.  “Are you now expecting me to drop everything when you call, regardless of what I’m doing? You're the one who said it better be done and that you were planning on inspecting it when you got home.” 

 

“That was a joke!” he shot back.  “I was trying to kid with you and make a joke about inspecting the kitchen and then going out for ice cream.  That’s all!”

 

“It didn’t sound like a joke, Sam.  It sounded like a command from on high and one that I better obey or else.” The last few words dripped out of my mouth in contempt.  "I do hope the kitchen met your high standards and was all you wanted."  Brushing past him into the kitchen, I yelped as Sam grabbed my arm and swatted me hard across the butt.

 

“What I want is for you to leave a note when you leave so I know where you are and when you’re going to be back,” he said.  “That’s been a long standing house rule now and one you haven’t had a hard time remembering for awhile.”

 

“So obviously we both have a hard time remembering to do the things we’re suppose to do,” I said, all intentions of being calm fleeing from my mind as I jerked away from him.  Stalking into the kitchen, I tossed my notebook on the table and headed toward the refrigerator for a bottle of water. 

 

Sam followed me, “I thought I said that when I got home you should be either prepared to discuss last night or drop the shitty attitude, Jason.  I said I was sorry for not calling you, I explained, I promised it wouldn’t happen again, I don’t know what else I can do.”  He glared at me, his hands folded on his chest, “But I do know one thing I won’t do and that’s put up with snide comments and a bad attitude from you.”

 

I glared right back him, meeting his gaze even as I drank deeply from the bottle of water.  “I came home in a fine attitude; you’re the one who jumped all over me before I was even out of the fucking car.  So if you want to be talking about people with shitty attitudes Sam, why don’t you look in the mirror?”

 

“I’m not playing this stupid game with you,” he shot back.  “You’re out of line and you know it.  I apologized and that should be it.”  Turning, he walked out of the kitchen.

 

Slamming down the bottle on the counter, causing it to tip and spill into the sink, I stalked after him.  “Game?” I yelled down the hall, “You think I’m playing some sort of fucking game with you?”

 

He stopped in the doorway to his office and glared at me, “What would you call it then?  The pouting, the sulking, the frigid act last night in bed and again this morning?  God forbid you just tell me you’re pissed instead of freezing me out and acting like my one mistake was so unforgivable!”

 

“I wasn’t pouting!” I yelled back, my voice almost echoing down the hall. 

 

“You were too,” Sam yelled at me before he disappeared into the office, slamming the door behind him.

 

Glaring at the spot where he disappeared, I marched down the hall and threw open the office door.  “We don’t slam doors around this fucking house, Sam!”  I turned around and marched out.  I made it half way toward the stairs before Sam stormed out of the office.

 

“I didn’t slam it!” he yelled, “I shut if firmly and I was hoping you’d take it as a sign that I wanted to be left alone!”

 

“You did too!” I shot back.  “So now not only are you forgetting everything, you’re having a real break with reality!”  My voice was rising as I stood my ground in the hall glaring at him while he glared back at me from just outside the office doorway.

 

“Is what I did so unforgivable?” he shot back. 

 

I shook my head, “I never said it was, Sam.  You’re the one who’s making that assumption.  But also don’t start nailing yourself to some cross just because I don’t immediately accept your apology after a half-ass muttering and pawing at 11 o’clock at night after I’ve been worried for hours.”

 

“You’re acting like it is though,” he said angrily.  “You’re acting like it was a serious betrayal of our relationship instead of a simple mistake.  You’re acting like one screw up from me will shatter everything.”  He shook his head and snorted, “You’re not the only one who has to make adjustments around here, Jason.  You have to adjust to not working. Well guess what - I am too.  When you were working, I never had to even think about what time I’d be home or that I needed to think about stopping and letting you know if I was running late. It didn’t matter, you were never home!  Now you’re home all the time!”  His voice rose in slight frustration.

 

“And that’s a problem?” I yelled at him.  “Do you want me to go back to working 15 hour days and us only seeing each other for a few hours?  Do you want to go back to me eating over the sink at midnight?  Is that what you’re saying?”  I was hurt and frustrated and didn’t care how loud my voice was any more.  “If that’s what you want Sam, tell me!  I’ll start a new restaurant or go to work for someone else! That’ll keep me really busy and maybe if we’re lucky, it’ll keep me out of the house 18 hours a day instead of just 15!”

 

“Don’t be stupid, Jason!” Sam yelled back.  “That’s not what I’m saying at all!

 

“Stupid!” I said, “Here I am, asking what you want, offering to give you what you want and you call me stupid!”

 

“That’s not what I’m saying!” he repeated.  “All I’m saying is that we’re both adjusting now but you’re acting like you’re the only one!  I love having you home when I get home but I swear, Jason, sometimes I really miss coming home to a quiet house and relaxing in front of the TV for a little while.”

 

“So I’ll go back to work if that will make you happy!  I stopped for us, I stopped so we could have a better relationship and because I thought it was something we both wanted,” I yelled.  “I want to submit to you! I want to belong to you but if you don’t want any of that, if that’s just keeping you from relaxing in the evenings and putting too much pressure on you when you get home, tell me now!”

 

Sam glared at me, “That’s just wonderful, Jason.  That’s not what I was saying at all but you aren’t listening.  I swear sometimes I think you’ve got to be bare butt over my lap for you to really hear me.  They say that guys think with their cocks so maybe you listen with your butt!”

 

We glared at each other for a moment while the words and accusations that had been hurled around the hall sank in and settled on us. “God!” I muttered, shaking my head in frustration.   

 

“You can call me Sam,” he said evenly, meeting my gaze.  “No need to be so formal in the house.”

 

I stared at him, not totally understanding what he was saying as my mind raced for the counter argument against whatever he threw at me next.  As I watched, he casually raised an eyebrow and the corners of his mouth twitched slightly.  In spite of the anger still bubbling in my veins, I felt myself give him the faintest of smiles.

 

Taking that as a welcome sign, he uncrossed his arms and walked toward me.  “That’s not what I was saying at all, Jason,” he repeated in a calm quiet voice.  “I don’t want you to go back to work.”

 

“That’s what it sounded like,” I said, crossing my arms as I tried to glare at him but knew I was failing.

 

As he got to me, he pulled me into a hug and kissed me gently.  “But that’s not what I was saying.”

 

“Don’t touch me,” I growled even as I closed my eyes and struggled to keep my arms crossed and him at a distance.

 

“But I like touching you,” he said, kissing me again softly on my forehead.

 

“I have a list,” I said quietly, my eyes still closed and my arms relaxing slightly.  “I went to the bookstore for your aunt’s birthday present and I was mad at you …”

 

“I never would have guessed,” he said softly, still holding me tight.

 

“Shut up,” I ordered with a smile and allowed my arms to come up around him, holding him tight.  I could feel us begin to sway slightly together and I loved the feeling.  “I wrote down a list of things I wanted to talk to you about.  Things I was afraid of and scared of and worried about and how I was feeling.”

 

“Do you want to tell me?” he asked, softly.

 

Even though my eyes were still closed, I blushed and shook my head, “Maybe you can just read them?”

 

“Maybe we can read them together?”

 

Nodding, I relaxed further into his arms and swayed gently with him.

 

 

 

We ended up in bed together, both naked, me on my stomach reading from my list in the notebook and Sam on his back next to me, watching me.  I’d occasionally get too embarrassed to read the words I had written and would hand it over to him where he’d read out loud in a clear voice.  I’m not sure if he wasn’t as embarrassed as I was because they weren’t his words, his desires and needs being talked about or if he, like Greg, was simply more comfortable with them than I was.  Whatever the reason, we slowly got through my list and talked about each one.

 

Sam had also made his own list, mental though, so he was on his on his own to struggle through the embarrassing and difficult ones. 

 

I helped as best I could by holding his hand or holding him close as he choked on some of his own feelings and fears.  I was shocked to find out that when he had come home tonight and found the house dark and quiet with no note from me, he was honestly afraid that I had gone.  He was afraid that I had left him, that his mistake had truly been so unforgivable that it had condemned our relationship.

 

“I really thought that, Jay,” he said softly, holding me tight.  “Even as I kept telling myself not to be stupid, I couldn’t shake that fear.”

 

I leaned up and kissed him softly, brushing away a stray tear with my fingers.  “I swear to you Sam, I would never do that.  I would never just leave.  In fact, I’ll swear to you that if you want me gone, you’re going to have to kick me out yourself because I have no intention of giving up you or this relationship.”  I smiled at him, “Or this house for that matter; there’s too much of my blood, sweat and tears in that tile backsplash in the kitchen.”

 

He laughed, kissing me back.  “When you said you were selling the restaurant, I was so happy to have you around here full time and to get our relationship to the level we both wanted it to be.  I guess I didn’t realize how much of an adjustment it would really be, not just on your part but on mine too, getting used to coming home to someone every night, not feeling as if I could just go out with people from work on a second’s notice, to have to think about coming home at a normal time even.”

 

Nodding, I said, “You can still go out after work, Sam.  I swear, I don’t mind.”

 

“I know but I also want to come home to you and to be with you.”  He shook his head and gave a small shrug, “It’s just something to adjust to and not something we have to make hard and fast rules about or anything.  I know things will settle down some and we’ll both get through this just fine.”

 

“I didn’t think about you having to adjust,” I confessed softly.  “I was just looking at what I was going through and not how it was affecting you.”  I took a deep breath and plunged onward, “I know I’m the Brat in this relationship and you’re the head of our house but I’m also an adult and your partner.  I’m sorry I didn’t think about you, I should have, regardless of our roles.  I was just being selfish.” 

 

“And I wasn’t telling you how I was feeling,” Sam said easily.  Kissing me, he continued, “How about we just say we both dropped the ball a bit with each other and promise to do better?”

 

I nodded, eager to accept my share of the blame and also to allow Sam to accept his and his solution.

 

“And we’ve established that you’re mine, right?” he asked softly, eyes locked with mine.  “Even when you’re scared about what that means and even when you’re worried you’re not doing it right and even when you don’t feel like it and even when you’re not happy about it and even when you’re afraid of what the consequences are, you’re mine.

 

The strength of that look and his question didn’t allow me to break his gaze as I nodded silently.  “And you’re mine.”

 

Sam shook his head as he sat up straighter, sheet falling to his waist, as he put a finger under my chin and forced my head up a bit more.  “Not this weekend, Jason.  This weekend, you belong firmly to me.  There is no equality, there’s not even going to be lip service done to equality.  You are totally and completely mine.”  He patted the notebook, “You’ve made it very clear what you want and what you need.  It’s been a struggle so, like our rules in the house right now, I’m taking it out of your hands and you no longer have a choice.”

 

My stomach knotted slightly and I swallowed, giving him a small nod. Like he said, even when I was afraid, I belonged to him.  When I was afraid, I needed to belong to him.

 

Moving down a bit, Sam stretched out along side of me and motioned with his finger.  “Come here babe,” he ordered softly.

 

I leaned in hesitantly, almost afraid of him and his plans. 

 

He met me half way, kissing me hard and rolling half on top of me as he pinned me to the bed.  His tongue flicked in and out of my mouth as he tasted it and dominated my own tongue that was fighting for space.

 

Unable to simply give in, I fought back slightly as I struggled beneath him and grabbed at his arms.  “Sam…” I breathed out, jerking my head away from his and arching underneath.  I could feel his hard cock against mine and I was sure my movements were adding to his excitement.  I groaned again as he moved up, dragging his cock over mine and against my stomach as he once again claimed my mouth.

 

“God, you taste good,” he said between kisses as he broke away and began to kiss down and across my neck even as I squirmed and cried out.  Stopping for just a moment, he leaned up and snagged the bottle of lube off the bedside table and smeared it liberally on his cock.  As he bent down to kissing me again, he grinned, “I want to make sure you’re nice and slick so I don’t have to stop again for more.  I plan to use you over and over tonight; there will be no doubt in your mind who you belong to, how much you’re loved and how much you love your position.”

 

“What position is that,” I whispered between kisses.

 

“Which ever one I want you in,” he said, wedging a hand between us as he stroked my cock.  “Whatever position I can tease this in and,” he whispered, pushing his hand deeper between my legs and thrusting a finger slick with lube inside me, “and whatever position I can fill and stretch this to your limit in.” Bending his head back down, he forced his tongue back inside to continue his lesson.

 

Moaning against the assault of his tongue and the finger thrusting in and out of my opening, I finally relaxed and sank into the experience and the joy of submitting to his body.  My hands gripped his arms to hold him in place and I spread my legs as I felt him begin to kiss lower as he moved down, his finger sliding free as he used both hands to hold me in place and spread me wide for his enjoyment.  My cock was throbbing in time with his and the heat and friction of his body on top of mine had almost sent me over the edge several times.  Each time though Sam must have sensed I was ready to come because he would lift off or stop rubbing and deny me the pleasure of release.  “Do it, Sam,” I panted out, arching against him, trying to urge him on.  I brought my legs up around his waist as he positioned his cock against my opening.  Laying my head back, I closed my eyes and pleaded, “Sam, please.”  A whimper escaped from me as he pushed the head of his cock slowly inside.

 

Leaning down, he stilled his movement and kissed me again deeply.  “That’s right, take it all,” he ordered firmly as he resumed his penetration.  He sank in half way, stilling again as I cried out.

 

“God,” I said, shuddering as the chills of being so stretched and filled coursed through my body.  As much as I loved the sensation of Sam deep inside of me, it always took a few moments for my body to remember that this was enjoyable and fun and something it wanted to allow.

 

Sam groaned as he pushed all the way in, his balls resting against my body for a few seconds before he began to pull out and push in again with urgent, hard thrusts.

 

My body caught up and began to respond as it remembered how much it loved this act.  Arching against him in time with one of his thrusts, I drove his cock deeply inside and I cried out again as I was stretched wider and touched deeper inside.  Each thrust of Sam’s cock brushed almost painfully over my prostate and sent jolts of electricity over each nerve ending of my body, all concentrated in my own throbbing cock.  One hand dropped from Sam’s arms to it and my fingers stroked it in time with his thrusts.

 

“Yes,” Sam said, leaning down, kissing me again as his thrusts stilled for a moment before he began his final assault.  Groaning and driving himself deeply inside one last time, he came hard, slowing his thrusts as his cock pumped and jerked its release inside me.

 

My internal muscles tightened around his cock, holding him deeply in place as my own cock jerked its release onto my stomach and hand.  Panting and breathless, I sighed, holding Sam close to me as he relaxed.  “No,” I said as he began to soften and pull out.

 

“You don’t give the orders around here, Jason,” Sam said as he kissed me again and pulled his cock free of my body.

 

I whimpered again but this time at the loss of contact and his body. 

 

“Shhhh,” he whispered as he quickly and easily rolled me on my side and settled in behind me, hugging me close to his body.

 

Closing my eyes, I relaxed against and savored the feeling of him pressing up tightly behind me.  I could feel his still semi-hard cock settle in and press lightly against my opening.  Squirming slightly, I sighed and stilled as Sam rested a hand against my stomach, holding me tight.

 

“Stop,” he ordered.  “I’ll do it when I’m ready and not before.  Right now, I want you to close your eyes and relax and if you’re good, I’ll fuck you again before dinner so hard you’ll want a cushion to sit on.”

 

I laughed and ducked my head at the threat and felt Sam laugh silently behind me before going still again.  Closing my eyes, I tried to do as I was told and relax. 

 

 

 

And there you have it.  No great resolutions, no pat ending---no real ending at all, in fact.  Sam and I continued on, as most couples do, balancing this and juggling that, moving forward one step at a time.  What I came to realize was that I didn't need an ending.  I didn't need to wake up one morning and see all of the pieces fitting perfectly into place.  That it was okay to keep working on the puzzle and there was no deadline.  Sam and I would make it just fine and that’s all I really needed.

 

Oh, and remember that credit card?  Sam never did find out.  I mean, isn't that life?

 

 

The End