I was into my second week back, and I’d become increasingly comfortable with him. Relaxed. We held hands at home and walking down the street, we snuggled on the sofa, when we were laughing about something he’d turn to me and kiss me on the cheek and it all felt perfectly natural. I was also starting to reciprocate his sexual attraction–it was impossible not to; the pain and circumstances that caused me to leave were tremendous, but now that they were diminishing, my former feelings were coming back, and he knew it and I knew he knew it. I was still sleeping in my own room, but he was acting in increasingly seductive ways: walking around with his shirt off, pushing up his shirtsleeves to expose his arms (which he knew I found sexy), inviting me into the kitchen when he cooked so that he could show off and handle knives in front of me. We’d go to the pool and play a game where we’d throw a toy into the water and see who could retrieve it from the bottom of the pool first and then wrestle over it, our bodies touching. I admit that I’d stopped wearing the conservative one-piece I always wore when his sons visited and started wearing my bikini. I was sexually frustrated. I’d had virtually no sex in over a year.
One night over dinner (so many things happen over dinner in his home) the Collector asked me straight up if I’d been with another man since I left him, and I told him the truth: I’d gone on four dates with a nurse I met online who claimed to be a Top. He was handsome, had a nice condo, was a pretty good conversationalist, and was even age-appropriate, which is rare for me. And he was a Top. The problem was that he was inexperienced (and I know, I know, compared to me, practically everyone is inexperienced). He knew what he wanted but didn’t know how to do a lot of it well, and the sad truth is that I spent the time comparing him to the Collector, which was shitty of me, but I couldn’t help it. I stopped dating him because he slammed me up against a wall and wrenched my arm behind my back, which would have been fine except that he did it much too hard and gave me a minor black eye (it wasn’t really black, just red). But the point is, I told him on the telephone the next day, if I hadn’t turned my head to the side at the last second he would have broken my nose. Then he would have had to drive me to the hospital and we would have had to have a very awkward conversation with a social worker.
“I like you, but to do this I need to be able to trust you, and I can’t trust that you won’t damage me accidentally,” I told him.
“You could teach me!” he wailed on the other end of the line. He’d been tremendously apologetic about my face.
“I’m sorry, but I just don’t have the time and energy for that right now. I know you’ll find someone else. You have a lot going for you. Just go slower in the future,” I told him, and cut the nurse loose.
The Collector wasn’t upset that I’d been with another man–long-time readers will know that he’s not the jealous type, especially since he was the superior Dom in the story. I always felt that I really was lucky with the Collector in that regard–for most men, non-monogamy is a deal-breaker, or else they fetishize having their girlfriends fuck around.
“What about you?” I asked. I have to admit that I was honestly a little curious. I’m not jealous whatsoever and never have been, but the Collector is, surprisingly, naturally monogamous, and since he’d been
stalking pursuing me relentlessly ever since I left, I wondered if he’d been dating.
“But it would be so easy for you,” I said. It’s true. Besides being richer than Croesus, he’s handsome and knows how to dress. “You could have the most beautiful women in New York.”
“I’ve had the most beautiful women in New York. After you, they all bore me. And I have been too busy to hunt them anyway.”
“You could have hired a working girl.”
“I DID hire a working girl,” he shot back. Meaning me. The Collector was a client. That’s how we met–when I was still pro-subbing. He answered my ad on Backpage (God I miss Backpage. I miss Backpage so, so much.).
That shut me up for a minute. I couldn’t meet his eyes so I looked at my plate. Foie gras.
“I needed to leave, Collector,” I whispered.
“Let me tell you what you need, Margo,” he said, and I looked up at him, startled. For the first time since I’d come back, his voice was hard. Suddenly he looked very intense. In fact, he looked a little pissed off. “What you need is a dominant man to make your important decisions for you. What you need is for him to protect you from yourself. What you need is, despite your considerable intellect, which you know I enjoy, is to sometimes be treated like an empty-headed little child with a box of matches who is going to inadvertently burn her own fucking house down.”
First, you have to remember that the man almost never swears. The Surgeon swore like a gangster in a Martin Scorsese film, but the Collector is much more elegant. I was suddenly anxious because it’s like being a kid–when your parents were swearing at you, you knew they were pissed and you were gonna get it. His body was tense and his husky-dog blue eyes were blazing.
“I know exactly what you need, Margo, so why don’t you be a good little girl and let me give it to you?”
“Don’t speak to me like I’m a child,” I protested, trying to stand up for myself a little and keep some dignity. My voice sounded weak to my own ears.
“You are a child. You’re my child, or have you forgotten how hard I tried to make you happy and indulge you and give you the childhood you never had?” he snarled.
It was true. . He had tried. He’d put a great deal of effort into it, in fact, and he certainly knew me and understood me better than my own parents do. I suddenly felt ashamed and ungrateful.
I sat there, frozen on the spot, looking down at my plate again. I’d been through situations like this before.
He’d told me that he wouldn’t punish me for leaving him. He’d told me that he wasn’t angry anymore, only happy and grateful to have me back. Relieved to have me back. He hadn’t displayed a trace of temper since I’d arrived.
But now I knew that he was still pissed, all right. He hadn’t been displaying it–he’d kept his promise–but the anger was still there.
Perhaps when he saw I was scared, it appeased him because he knew he’d made his point, because he suddenly relaxed.
“I’m sorry, Margo. You hurt me very badly. I didn’t mean to scold you. I apologize.” His voice was gentle again. He reached out and grabbed my arm at the wrist, leaning over to look at me. “I love you. You are the most important person in my life. I would hate to lose you.”
All the tension left the room. I looked at him, and his eyes looked both sad and loving. I got out of my chair and gave him a hug. He closed his eyes and pressed the side of his face against my breasts.
“Everything is going to be okay,” I said.