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Part Seventeen: Demonstrations and Confrontations

Chapter 51: Mistress Victoria's Farm

Friday rush hour traffic doubles the time required to get anywhere in the greater DC area. Thus,the drive to the party would be at least two hours, so we left work on time for a change. Monique drove us to her home, whereupon I went to my room, and she went to the Master Bedroom. Or as we had taken to calling it, the Mistress Bedroom.

I only used this "my room" in her home when preparing for some type of scene or submission game. Monique preferred that the we be separated for those last moments before one of her carefully planned dramas - she felt that heightened the anticipation. I approached it like a sporting event - me in my locker room, and my opponent (Monique) in hers. Both of us donning our game uniforms, putting on our game faces, getting psyched up for the contest to come. I really did not much care for the "she versus me", analogy, but it was the only comparable experience I could draw on.

Under any other circumstances, I lived and loved in Monique's bedroom. In here, in "my room", Monique's bottom lived. Natalia's growing female wardrobe filled one of the two closets in the room. The other closet held the ever increasing number fetish clothes, harnesses and other paraphernalia that Monique had given me over the past weeks. My regular clothes, including the everyday feminine underwear I now wore daily (at her request, not orders) resided beside Monique's clothes in the big closet in her bedroom.

In compliance with Monique's directions, I donned a leather chest harness and black leather jeans. Comfortable boots completed the ensemble. I shivered just looking at my reflection in the mirror. The evening was chilly and I did not relish the thought of moving around outside without even a shirt to keep me warm. I hoped Monique had accounted for that in her plans.

A knock rapped at my door, which immediately opened to admit Monique. An old fashioned, sleeveless cloak covered her from shoulder to floor. She had to be wearing high heels, because she stood inches taller than me. Her hair was pulled back into one of the severely tight, scalp-stretching hairbuns that made me want to wince just from looking at it. Other than her face and neck, though, the cloak masked her entire body. Her arms and hands were encased in tight, supple gloves that ran the length of her arms. The tops of the gloves were inside the slits that replaced the sleeves her cloak lacked.

She carried my Navy Leather flight jacket in one hand, and a collar and leash in the other. I winced inwardly at the sight of the collar, but tried to hide my reaction. She caught it, anyway. Sighing, she tossed the coat onto the bed and settled beside it. "We did agree to this." she said softly, her hands working at the soft, glove leather collar.

I was again tempted by the safeword. She was uptight; I was uptight. Could anything good come of this expedition? But I had promised. "I know, Monique. Let's get it over with, okay? You know this is an aspect of my life I don't care to share with strangers, but I did agree. So let's go."

She took a deep breath, wadded the leash and collar up into a ball and then tried to stuff the leather mass into a pocket. "Well, we will dispense with this for now. It is enough that you are going and that you trust me enough to go."

Something clicked just then. Why had she had brought it in here just now? "Monique, you've taken submissives to this place before?" She nodded. "Okay, and did they put on the collar before they arrived there?"

"In the past, my sub-for-the-night has always arrived ready for admittance to the dungeon." Her voice had a wistful, longing edge to it. "But that was only because they wanted to be there, and did not want to waste any time getting into the action." She added quickly.

Yeah, I thought, and you can't help wishing I felt the same. "I need an honest answer, Monique. Will it be noticed if you collar me after we arrive?"

She looked away, refusing to meet my eyes. "It might be remarked upon. Nothing of any significance, though. It will be fine, really."

I could just imagine the 'remarks' and how she would feel about being the subject of such gossip. I shook my head. "Okay. Give me the collar. Now. Then let's get going."

Her eyes shot to mine, longing, amazement and hope shining in her eyes. Just as quickly, she shook her head as the momentary light in her eyes disappeared. "It is okay, Nathan." she said softly, "You don't have to wear it any longer than is absolutely necessary for our purpose tonight. After all, it's not like it has any meaning for you beyond being your entry voucher or admission ticket to the party."

I walked over to her and pulled her onto her feet and into my arms. "Monique, I can't give you more than that tonight. I am not that open and I do not want to have strangers watch you ...... do things to me. That is private. Trying to answer this need of yours is one way I can make love to you, and making love is something I simply can't share with strangers. But I will not subject you to gossip or condescending comments from these people by showing you up in front of them." I took the collar from her and started to put it on my neck.

"No!" She yelled as she roughly snatched at the collar I held in my hands. "For better or worse, Nathan Evans, for whatever it may eventually mean to you and for what it does mean to me, when that collar goes on you, I will be the one fastening it on you. Maybe one day, it will mean to you what it does to me, but putting it on you means a great deal to me. Please, give me the collar." I lifted the still unfastened collar from my neck and placed it in her open hands. She accepted it with great solemnity and then, with equal reverence, slipped it around my neck. As the snap clicked shut, I was reminded of other solemn occasions, when admirals pinned medals on me for some action that others had thought warranted such an award. Monique took no less pride in that collar than any admiral over any medal. "Thank you." She said simply, then kissed me with surprising gentleness and emotion. She released the kiss, but continued to hold me tightly to her, one hand still gripping the collar's clasp behind my neck. I was surprised to see a trickle of moisture tracking down her brightly made up cheek. She swung away from me, heading for the door, where she stopped to face me once more. "Put your coat on and let's go. We have a long drive yet to Victoria's place." Then she strode from the room, obviously chased by her own demons.

It was dark when we got back onto the Beltway heading south. Last week had been Thanksgiving, and December days are short on daylight in DC. As expected for a Friday night during the Christmas holiday rush, traffic was heavy. The ten minute drive to the I95 exit took almost a half an hour. Monique was unusually quiet as she contended with the traffic, but I was equally content to let the silence stand. Once on I95, she piloted us onward with her usual skill until, as we passed south of Fort Belvoir, the road ahead started to clear.

"Nathan?" Monique's quiet voice startled me, and I mumbled an acknowledgement. "There is something I need to ask you to do for me. I need a favor. If anyone asks, or brings up your trip to the party tonight, would you please act dumb?"

"Act dumb? What does that mean, and why?" I was curious, now, and for the first time, diverted from the mental turmoil that had been intensifying for the past week.

Monique sighed. "You are not supposed to know where this place is." She paused, uncertainly. "First timers are supposed to arrive blindfolded. If they aren't offered membership, they won't know where the place is. It is the private home of one of the founding members, and she asked for the rule. She is a corporate vice president for a large multinational in the area, and wants to protect her privacy and her reputation."

"Will you be in trouble for this? I mean, that is not the point of all this, Monique. I am wearing your collar, partly as a gift to you, partly to protect your reputation. I don't want you hurt because you are afraid I will bolt. If it is better for you, I will wear the blindfold."

She swallowed audibly. "Thank you, Nathan, but that won't be necessary. Tory is a very good friend of mine. We socialize together so you will be seeing her and her husband Matthew occasionally, anyway. I called her and cleared it with her ahead of time. She understands what we are doing, and why. She told me to go ahead and come as we are." She laughed weakly. "You are unlikely to go pound on her door if you were passed over for membership, anyway."

We took the exit after Dale City and headed off into the country. "This friend of yours, Tory? She is a domme, then?"

"Yes. Very skilled, and very sensual. Victoria has a real talent and feel for bondage scenes, and she is unusually good with hand and paddle spankings. Very erotic. She loves to force a submissive to orgasm with no other stimulation but her hand or paddle smacking his or her bottom."

"And she knows why we are coming? She is in on the deal?" I was amazed. I wasn't sure I believed that Monique could open up that much to anyone.

"Yes, she does. It is one of the reasons she told me to come and to plan on spending the night. Evidently she had ..... a similar experience with Matthew when they met a few years ago. He submitted to her, initially, for what it did for her, not for anything it did for him. She told me that for the first year or so she lived with him, he treated her as two separate entities in his mind. One was Tory, the woman he loved, and the other was Mistress Victoria, the woman who dominated and sometimes hurt him. You said you sometimes did that with me. So, when I explained, she was very enthusiastic about helping us."

"And does he still submit to her?"

"Oh yes. They found some middle ground in the dominance and submission part of their lives together. The way she explained it, he has found the strength and confidence to give her his submission without the pretense of two different women, and she has found ways to give him gifts that he values as she does his submission. Oh, she is also willing to hold your leash for me, tonight when I have to use the convenience. She has promised not to violate any of our agreements, Nathan, but it is up to you."

"I need to meet her first, Monique."

"Fair enough." She turned off onto a small side road which turned out to be a driveway to a sprawling farmhouse backed by a large old fashioned, somewhat dilapidated looking barn. "We are here. We'll park away from the barn so no one will see that you are not blindfolded." She parked behind the large house. Once out of the car, I pulled her into a hard embrace that she returned with almost frantic intensity. She then looped the end of the leash about her wrist and led the way around the house and up to the barn.

We went to the barn's short side, closest to the house where an old fashioned, roughhewn wood split door was lit by a single, unshielded, incandescent light fixture. A moment after Monique pressed a button next to the door, the door clicked open.

The contrast between the worn, weathered exterior and the barn's interior was startling. The door opened into a large, plushly furnished room that looked more like the entry foyer of a highbrow theater, than like the inside of a barn. Heavy, velvet curtains separated the lighted foyer space, from the rest of the barn's interior.

A tall maid, dressed in a shiny latex dress curtseyed to Monique and asked if she might take our coats. The maid was male. We had arrived. I gave him (her) my coat, but did not speak. Monique thanked 'her', using feminine pronouns and gave 'her' a pinch on the butt as a tip.

Then I saw Monique's outfit for the night -and almost fell over.

She was draped from head to foot in leather - a black and white leather rendition of a traditional nun's habit. With her extremely tall heels, and her striking makeup, she looked like a white Whoopie Goldberg from the movie "Sister Act"; the film about a woman hiding out in a convent. Except, that instead of the traditional chain of rosaries hanging from her waist, Monique wore a multi-tailed flogger, several lengths of real chain (complete with leather restraint cuffs), and her favorite leather riding crop. She saw my dazed stare and really smiled for the first time that day. "I promised to be circumspect as a nun, didn't I?"

Before I could answer her, she was pounced from behind by a vision in white. "Monique!" The oddly girlish squeal reminded me of my kid sister at a slumber party. The squeal's source was anything but girlish, and easily as tall as Monique.

Monique spun to embrace the slender woman and her joyful shout of "Tory, darling!" gave away the identity of the woman hugging my woman so fiercely.

I went unnoticed as the two of them exchanged compliments, laughs and more hugs. Quietly, I covertly studied the woman that my Monique trusted enough to share our problems with. She was striking - more than pretty, but not classically beautiful - an altogether arrestingly handsome woman. Long, black hair fell loose from around a shiny coronet perched perkily on her head, it's shimmering waves standing out in stark contrast to her snow white catsuit. That catsuit was a study in vivid contrasts. It covered every inch of her, but hid little. It was tight enough to show off her subtly feminine figure, but was still designed to provide her with obvious ease of movement. I suspected that Victoria was like that suit; a woman of many moods, a woman of many facets.

They broke apart and turned to me. As I said, she was not classically beautiful like Monique, but she had the most incredible, hauntingly green eyes. Between those transfixing orbs and the smile that lit her face, I made a hasty reassessment of the Mistress, Victoria. Her Matthew was one very lucky man. "And this must be Nathan! Welcome to the party and to my home." She held her hand out in greeting and I took it. Her grip was firm; her face was open, without artifice. My concerns about this meeting evaporated under her warm, yet reserved approach. Unlike the women in San Francisco, Victoria was playing it straight, giving me a chance to see her, to meet her before going into any other roles.

"Monique has explained why you are here, Nathan. If there is anything I can do, just ask. Matthew, too. We both know how hard what you and Monique are going through can be. We both think the world of Monique. You must be pretty special, too if she is this wound up over you." Her voice was sincere, and her words gave me hope. Maybe she and her mate could help us.

"Thank you." It seemed inadequate, but I did not know what else to say. She smiled and patted my cheek. I resisted the urge to bridle at her. I guess women of dominant nature can't resist the odd opportunity to tease.

"It will work out, Nathan. Honest. Now, Monique, am I going to be leash-holder for your man when you have to go powder your nose?"

I nodded behind Victoria, and Monique, in turn, nodded to her friend. "So long as you agree to my no-play commitment to him, and back down anyone who starts getting cute with him. He is here to see people enjoying this, not to participate."

"I understand and agree." She turned back to me. "Nathan, when we are inside and I hold your leash, just give me the normal courtesies. I normally go by Mistress Victoria..." I shook my head. "No?" Her eyebrow quirked upward in question. There was no indignation or pique in her tone, only curiosity. "Why not?"

I looked to Monique and she signaled her agreement. "Victoria, I do not know if I will ever really be comfortable with this type of role, but I do know this. I only acknowledge one Mistress, and that is Mistress Monique. That is part of my gift to her."

She nodded, smiling. "Excellent, I understand completely. Matthew is the same way. Very well, how about Lady, then? That is how Matthew addresses Monique when we are at a party or in a scene. Is Lady Victoria acceptable?" I nodded. "Great, well, I will see you inside, then."

"Victoria, where is Matthew? I had hoped to introduce him and Nathan before we got too far into this."

Victoria grinned. "I am afraid that my darling man is occupied just now, Monique, and probably will be for the remainder of the night."

Monique looked surprised. "You have him wrapped up in a scene already? And you aren't with him? I thought you never let other dommes work him without you there for him?"

"You are right. I don't. But he is not playing tonight. He is acting as Dungeon Master. You know how he hates public play where mere acquaintances can watch. Nary an exhibitionistic bone in the dear man." She shook her head in mock dismay, but then grew serious again. "And frankly, I really don't care to share that aspect of our relationship anymore, so, he is now a regular Dungeon Master for our public play parties. See? I told you I am learning how to compromise." Her grin grew mischievous and her voice became low as if sharing a special secret. "You won't believe the scene we had last night after I agreed to that concession. It was wonderful. He tried so hard. He gave me everything he had the whole night. " She sighed happily. "It is one reason I am not overly concerned about playing tonight. He wore me out last night." She disappeared through the curtain with a saucy wink.

Monique's eyes followed her friend through the curtain. The look she gave her friend's retreating back was hungrily envious. Then, she shrugged, and turned back to me. "Well," Monique smiled brightly. "Shall we join the party? We are already fashionably late."

I glanced pointedly at the leather looped about her gloved wrist. "Of course, Mistress. After you." I said bowing gallantly.

Chapter 52: Raise the Curtain

Monique took the lead and passed through the heavy curtains. The main space of the barn was every bit as unexpected as the entry foyer had been. It was large, bigger than a basketball court and filled most of the barn's interior space. With the exception of the loft area at the far end of the barn, the main floor was the only floor. Heavy beams crisscrossed above us held up by strategically placed vertical stanchions. Chains, ropes and other bondage toys hung from the beams at many locations throughout the space. There were several 'raised' daises or stages scattered about the hall. I asked Monique about them.

"If someone wants public participation in their scene, or if they particularly want folks to watch, they will often set up on one of those. It is taken as an open invitation to come see what is up. Also, sometimes we have educational parties, for novices to learn the basics or for more experienced players to learn new techniques. The stages are where each exhibitor sets up."

Sure enough, even as we spoke, a masked woman pulled a nude male submissive up onto one of the daises and cuffed his hands well above his head. He was wearing a black leather hood that covered his eyes. In his mouth, a bright red ball, glistening wetly, cut off all intelligible sound from him.

Immediately, a small crowd gathered, circling the stage. "She is a relative novice at being a domme. The man with her is one of the real spanking enthusiasts in our little group. His wife, who is also his Mistress, gave him to this lady for the evening. The wife is the woman standing over behind the stage." An older lady, dressed in formal evening attire looked on. "She does this with him quite often. He almost always climaxes from a spanking. It is encouraging for many women to learn that men can take pleasure from corporal punishment, and besides,sometimes she likes to watch."

I watched the scene with more interest. The man was obviously aroused. The stage was lighted by overhead track lights focused on the center of the dias. The contrast between the dimly lit atmosphere of the rest of the room and the harsh circle of stage light emphasized the sheen of perspiration on both players. The woman gripped the man's erection in one hand and began slowly spanking him with her free hand. Each swat was accompanied by a subtle tensing of her hand on his cock, or a slight, barely perceptible twist of her wrist. The man would arch into her grip, then bend at the waist, trying to meet her next strike with his pinkening buttocks.

After a few minutes of this, the woman in the evening dress handed the domme a leather paddle. Still gripping the man's cock, she put her lips to one of his leather-hooded ears and spoke to him. His only response was a visible shudder and a jerky nod. The spanking and fondling resumed, this time with the paddle, this time obviously harder.

"She has just threatened him with grave consequences if he cums without permission." Monique's voice momentarily breaking my meditations on the scene before me. "Of course, before she finishes, he will climax, and then she and his wife will take him off for some suitable punishment." She became silent as we refocused our attention on the little drama before us. If anything, the man was harder, more erect than ever. Little pearls of moisture glittered at the tip of his engorged penis. The woman released his cock and spoke to him again, her body language harsh, demanding, fierce. Slowly, with great deliberation, she rolled a condom onto his penis. Then, she resumed the paddling, no longer fondling him, but with still greater strength behind her strokes.

"Nathan, do you understand how a human, particularly a male reacts sexually if really frightened? If he really feels himself at risk or in danger?" Monique's high heels made her a few inches taller than I and her lips were right up against my ear. I shivered at the subtle contact.

"Flight or fight, you mean?"

Her voice smiled at me. "Exactly. Everything in the human body not connected with survival goes on hold; all but shuts down. Only the senses that enhance survival remain alert. Sex is a strong need, but self preservation is greater. If that man was truly frightened of what she just promised to do if he has an orgasm, he would no longer be hard and dripping like that. More than that, his responses would change, and even if the woman working him did not realize it, his wife and most of the other experienced players here would." The man was shuddering now, his cock all but twitching in need, but still he arched into each stroke of the paddle. "He wants this, Nathan, and even if he is somewhat frightened by what is in store for him, he wants that, too."

As if in confirmation of her words, the man suddenly grunted and arched his hips forward into empty air. Just as suddenly, the reservoir at the tip of the condom ballooned. It grew larger with each arch of his hips until, the force of his orgasm subsided, he slumped, limply hanging by his wrists. The woman tossed down the paddle and berated him firmly for his lack of control and training. She carefully skinned off the condom and knotted it close to the reservoir, trapping the semen in a fairly large bubble at the closed end. Then, she undid his gag, pulling the ball out and putting the bubble in it's place. The loose, open end of the condom hung limply from the man's clamped lips. A long piece of thin leather, much like a shoe lace was tied off between the condom knot and the bubble, and then was knotted off tightly behind his head. The bubble could not be spit out, nor could it be accidently swallowed or inhaled. Monique chuckled softly. "Nice touch. Care to wager how long he avoids a mouthful of cum?" I shook my head as the two women first had the sub thoroughly clean the stage, then happily led their willing victim away.

As the crowd of onlookers dispersed, Monique's tour of the barn and its facilities continued. As we walked along the outer edge of the room, I saw three glass enclosed rooms. One was obviously an infirmary. The purpose of the other two, although equally clean, escaped me. Monique filled me in. "Piercing and tattooing rooms. Every so often, we bring in an artist and let them set up in one of those rooms during a party. Some of our members even make a ceremony of having one or the other marked by a tatoo, or by a special piercing."

We moved back toward the center of action. A man wearing jeans, a work shirt and an orange ballcap suddenly descended on a man who was whipping a female. The whipper was young, maybe late twenties, much larger than the fellow in the ballcap, possessing the type of muscular physique that comes from a narcissistic disposition and hours in the gym. He was bare chested and wearing gauntlets, boots and a loin cloth.

The man in the ballcap was evidently taking issue with something the other had been doing, much to the disgust of the other man. "What is that all about?" I asked Monique.

She shook her head. "That is Matthew, Victoria's husband. The cap marks him as a Dungeon Master. He just stopped that scene over there." She took a closer look and frowned angrily. "Look at her back, Nathan. See the welts going up the small of the back and in the vicinity of her kidneys? If he was using that whip, then that is just unsafe. That whip is much too severe for anywhere but the meaty part of the buttocks. She could be badly hurt. No wonder Matt stopped him." We watched the face off for a few moments when suddenly, Monique inhaled sharply. I turned to her, surprised to see anger snapping in her eyes. "Now, he is arguing with Matt." she growled, furious. "He either does not want to admit he is wrong, or that he is stupidly unsafe and untrained. Matt will have to put a card in on this one. I will insist on it and stand as witness."

I looked at her confused. "Dungeon Master? Card? What are you talking about, Monique?"

She smiled. "Sorry. Dungeon Master is like a designated driver. He is supposed to stay out of the play, and keep a clear head. If he sees something unsafe, or outside the rules, he can order it stopped. As with that fool over there. A card is like a speeding ticket. It is a statement of failure to comply with the rules and safety requirements, and is turned in to the executive committee for final action. Not many of those are given, because usually, it is just a matter of getting into a scene too deeply and going a bit too far. Once the Dungeon Master calls someone on some infraction, they recognize the fault and back off. Usually, they are even grateful, if a little embarrassed. In this case, he gave Matt a hard time. That will have to be dealt with."

"And if he continues to play too rough?"

"The issue is not rough, Nathan. I play rough. He was involved in play that the Dungeon Master believed, and I agree for that matter, to be unsafe. He would be made to leave. And his sponsor would be called to answer for how he was vetted prior to his admission to the club."

We moved on as the confrontation broke up, the accused party freeing his partner before stomping off to the lounge in a huff. I saw several other scenes being played out. A woman used hot wax on a particularly hairy man to depilitate her initial on his hairy chest and back. Another woman was locked in a steel dog kennel, and was teased with various toys that were fitted through the bars. She could not move in the tight confines of the kennel and so was 'forced' to endure the teasing. I did notice, however, that nothing prevented her from disconnecting, quite easily in fact, the top of the kennel and escaping if she really wanted to. Several dominant women were holding a fashion show with their cross dressed submissives as the models. "Two of them are graduates of Maria's school." Monique told me. Remembering my limousine driver from Boston, I thought I something in two of the models that marked them as Maria's students, but kept that to myself.

I had slipped into deep thought when a woman came up behind us and hugged Monique. Turning, I found that it was Jennifer Danvers, dressed in a white pants suit. "Good evening, Doctor. Are you on duty tonight?"

She glanced down at the white uniform, then grinned at me. "I am here dressed as a dentist. I told you I was a sadist, Nathan. Want to play with me?"

"No, thank you." She laughed and fell into step beside us.

Monique groaned. "Damn, Jennifer, Did you have to hug me so hard? Now I have to go to the lady's room. Where is Tory?" Monique craned her neck and searched, but Victoria was not to be found.

"I will hold Nathan's leash, Monique. You just run along. We will be fine."

Monique looked relieved and then her face clouded. "I can't, Jennifer. I promised Nathan there would be no play involving him tonight. I also promised that I would not give up his leash without his okay."

"Well, shoot. And I had the cutest little tawse to try out on you, Nathan. Very well, give me the leash, I won't do anything more than stand here talking with him." She grimaced theatrically, and then shoo-ed Monique off towards the lounge are taking the other end of my leash with her free hand.

Monique looked at me, hope and discomfort warring in her lovely eyes. "Go ahead, Monique. I will be fine."

We stood in companionable silence for several minutes. Actually, I had developed a lot of respect and even a little affection for this taciturn woman over the past few months. Whatever her predilections were, kink-wise, I had no doubt that she would honor Monique's promise to me.

"So, Monique brought you here to observe and learn, eh? Well, have you? Learned anything, that is?"

I chuckled. Ever to the point. "I really don't know. So much, so quick, tonight, Jennifer. I have seen caring, and playfulness. I have seen some people aroused by things that I would have questioned a little earlier."

"And, you, Nathan, were you excited by anything you have seen?"

I considered that. "Not really. Maybe a little. There are some lovely feminine charms beautifully on display here, and that excites me. The scenes we have watched have been, well, sort of clinical to me, almost scientific curiosities. I have watched them, not been turned off by them, but I don't have any overwhelming desire to participate in any of them."

She asked me what I had seen and I told her. She nodded her head, and became pensive. "I had hoped... well, never mind. What did Monique hope for you to get out of this?" I explained Monique's wish for me to see the fun people had with this type of play, and her hope that I would come to better understand her and her needs. She nodded once more, understanding lighting her eyes. "And thus, the no-play zone she has built around you for the evening. Watch, learn, and hopefully, understand. And have you begun to understand?"

"I don't know, Jennifer. Parts of it are sexy, and I understand and respond to that. Some of it is great foreplay, or fun as a change of pace to our regular love making. But, from what I have seen, that is not what this is about here. The submissives, or bottoms, they seem to get off, have a climax, but their partners don't. Maybe they will go home tonight and screw like bunnies, but beyond that, well." I let my meaning hang for a moment.

"Nathan? I understand that you were a military officer before you came to Monique. Is that correct?" I nodded, wondering where that had come from. "Were you fairly senior? With a fair amount of responsibility? With the ability to make things happen?"

I shrugged. "I wasn't an admiral, or even a captain, but I have always believed that it is easier to get forgiveness than permission, and that getting the job done was the first priority. I exercised a fair amount of my boss's authority, and so long as the work got done, and no one complained to him, he was happy."

"So, it would be fair to say that you are very comfortable with using and having power?" I was confused and my face must have shown it because she smiled. "Yes, I can see that you don't even think of it in those terms. Nathan, you have spent much of your adult life exercising power in ways that most people do not understand. It is second nature to you. Trust me, I have seen you do it with me and Monique. I suspect that is one major reason you are so effective in your job with her. For these people, this play, this scene involves playing with power. Exchanging power, by consent, but it is power given and taken none the less. I suspect, that you don't think about the power you naturally wield, so that when you are in a situation where Monique wants you to give up power to her, you don't understand, and you don't understand the game. For you, power is not a game, it is what you are, what you do. And what you are trained to do with power is wield it, not surrender it."

"But, Jennifer, Monique wields power in her job, too, very effectively, too."

Jennifer grinned. "I know that, but I suspect that if you asked Monique about that, she first learned effective use of power from Sondra, when she learned to dominate men sexually. Having a powerful male stripped to his birthday suit, lay down across your lap for a spanking, or beg you for some little favor tends to build your confidence if you are already a well adjusted personality. Monique is and was. What you see in her in the office, may have it's origins in a dungeon."

"And now? How does that affect the here and now? Her and me?"

Her eyebrows lifted in mock surprise. "Now, she does it because she loves it. The power games fascinate her, enthrall her, Nathan. Except with Roselie, I have never seen her allow a submissive intimate sexual contact with her. She is in it for the rush of power, the gift of control. You have to understand that, Nathan, and deal with that because that is the key to Monique. If you can't understand that, if you can't give her power over you during scenes, power that you do not resist with your own considerable power of will, then you may be unable to overcome the differences between you. Find out now if you really can do that, Nathan. Find out before you hurt each other in ways that leave far worse scars than any whip or cane ever could."

She stood there, concern etched on her face, wrinkling her forehead. I reached out and hugged her. "Thank you for caring, Jennifer. I will try. I am trying. I would not be here otherwise, but you have given me as much to consider as anything else I have seen."

She returned my embrace and then bruskly pushed away, looking around furtively. I almost laughed. She was embarrassed. "Enough of that, mister. The very idea of taking liberties with your leash holder without permission. What is the world coming to?"

I did laugh then, and she joined me. "Seriously, Jennifer, why are you here? Do you have a submissive languishing for your attentions? Am I depriving him of your winsome smile and tender mercies?"

She snorted. "Ha! Fat lot you know. If Monique ever lets me have you... Yes, well, you'll just see. But to answer your impertinent question, no, I am solo tonight. Actually, I will be on duty later tonight. There is a fairly extreme demonstration scheduled and I will be here to observe in my medical capacity. Sort of a Doctor Dungeon Mistress. Our safety rules require that a doctor or an RN be on scene for any activities that can cause blood flow or other potentially serious injury. Tonight, that is me."

Before I could quiz her more, Monique came up and took the leash back. Jennifer looked at her watch, then waved. "Well, I must go get my little black bag. See you later, sweeties." And she swept off toward the main entrance.

"Well, you two were certainly chatting each other up. Anything I should know?" A fine eyebrow arched in playful challenge.

"We were talking about you, of course. One of my favorite subjects."

"Mine too. So what did you say?" We resumed our stroll around the barn, moving closer to main stage which was situated on the opposite side of the room from the main entrance.

"Quite a bit, all of it informative, most of it flattering." I grinned up at her.

"Only most of it? What wasn't flattering?"

"Just that you are a little bit power hungry." I said in an facetiously off hand tone. Monique did not take it as a joke. She stopped and turned to face me.

"That is more true than you might know, Nathan. It is what I am, you know. Power feeds something in me, especially power that does not have to be given to me."

I took her hand and held it. "I am beginning to understand that, love. Jennifer helped. She told me some things about me that I had not thought of before, especially in terms of our relationship. We need to talk some more about all that, but not here."

Her eyes locked on mine. Damn, but she was magnificent. "Soon?" she demanded.

"Soon." I promised. I looked up at the main stage where a woman dressed in scarlet stood in front of a microphone. Behind her, a very large man and a medium sized woman stood beside a large wooden framework. The man and the woman were dressed in long flowing robes. He looked relaxed and at ease. The woman was standing rigidly to attention. "What is up?" I asked pointing to the stage.

Monique glanced up and then her eyes went wide. "Damn!" She cursed. "I had forgotten that they were here tonight."

More cautious now, I asked "Monique, what is wrong?"

She shook her head. "Nothing's wrong. It is just that I want to see this demonstration. As I said, I almost did not come tonight."

Before I could ask who and what this was, the woman in red spoke into the microphone. "Your attention, please. We are about to start our keynote presentation of the evening. Master Nicholaus and his slave, Alexandra will begin in a few moments. If you wish to continue your own scenes, please do so, but be considerate of those who wish to watch by keeping your own sound level down."

She need not have worried. If anyone remained away from the stage, I could not see them. At the invitation of the Mistress of Ceremonies, the man, Nicholaus stepped up to the microphone. He was a large man. He was easily four or five inches over six feet tall, and the width of his shoulders beneath the robe indicated he was a very big man indeed. He gestured to the woman and she let her robe drop. She was completely nude. She was average height, maybe five feet five or six, and was about 140/150 softly rounded and feminine pounds. She had shoulder length brown hair that was pulled back into a braid. A white collar, decorated with golden chains was the only ornamentation she wore. She returned to attention once she had removed the robe.

"Thank you for coming tonight." The man spoke with a quiet, deep toned voice. "Tonight, I will demonstrate the use of several corporal implements, from my hand up to and including a cane and a heavy whip. During the course of the demonstration, I will discuss technique and of course, safety. Please hold your questions until afterwards, because this requires my full concentration and because I do not want to disrupt my slave's mental state during the session. Alexandra!" His voice changed to a stern, sharp tone of command. "Position."

She moved silently to the strange frame they had originally been standing by. Built like a very tall sawhorse, the frame stood maybe six feet tall with the top crossbeam measuring about three feet in length. Braced between the four legs, about three feet off the ground was a padded plank about one foot wide that was perpendicular to the cross beam on top of the frame. It sort of looked like a child's swingset, except this 'swing's' 'glider' did not move. Alexandra laid down on the padded plank so that her bottom faced the audience. Leather straps hanging near the bottom of the two forelegs of the frame were strapped tightly to her respective ankles. This spread her feet to nearly the full width of the frame, forcing her to lock her knees, thus forcing her bottom to arch up slightly from the plank. Leather bags were attached at the bottom of the rear legs, and her hands were inserted into these. Evidently, these were actually fingerless boxing gloves, because Nicholaus carefully laced each one tightly over her wrists. Once he finished, her arms were just as stretched and ineffective as her legs. A very wide strap, much like a weight lifters back belt was cinched down around her waist and the plank. Finally, a large pillow was strapped around her, below the waist, but just above her buttocks. Nicholaus checked each strap, each lacing one more time before returning to the microphone.

"The apparatus you see here is one I copied from descriptions and drawings I found in the newspapers. To the best of my humble ability, it duplicates the device used in Singapore by their penal authorities for punitive canings. It is bolted securely in place for safety. This leather pillow," he pointed to the thick pad that now framed his partners bottom, "prevents any strikes from hitting bone or nerve centers. With the half inch punishment canes that their people use, that is a vital concern. It makes sense for me, too, and besides, I like the authenticity of having one. It also," and now he grinned impishly, "nicely highlights the target area." That drew a chuckle from the assembled group. Mostly from the dominant partners, I noticed. "Alexandra cannot so much as twitch in these restraints, so no accidental or uncontrollable movements on her part will cause me miss my mark and injure her. So, let us begin."

Nicholaus removed his own robe. He was dressed simply in black denim jeans and a loose fitting white linen shirt. He was every bit as large, physically, as I had originally thought. He started with a hand spanking. My own growing experience with this told me that he was gradually increasing the force of his blows. Monique and I stood off to the side of the stage where we could see both players faces.

Throughout the spanking, Nicholaus kept up a running monologue about the technique in use, the temperature of her ass, the color changes and their meanings, and how best to judge a submissive's condition and readiness to proceed. Alexandra's bottom had turned a dark pink when Nicholas changed to a paddle which he used to bring a bright red blush to her entire backside. To this point, she had been fairly quiet, maintaining a stoic silence except when directly questioned by her Master.

She was not silent when he switched to the cane. The first blow brought forth a squeal, followed by a whimpering moan. By the third stroke, she was in tears and fighting to keep from crying out. I started getting upset. Monique sensed my emotions and gripped my hand tightly. Purple welts were forming a pattern on her buttocks against the red left by the paddling. By the time Nicholaus had finished out a round dozen with the cane. Alexandra was sobbing audibly.

My hands were fisting and unfisting as emotion welled up in me. Every instinct fighting against the rational mind's knowledge that this was being done with Alexandra's full consent. Monique hissed a warning to relax in my ear and I took several deep breaths, trying to do just that.

It was all for naught.

Nicholaus switched to the whip. It was a wicked looking thing, thick and made of braided leather. A tassel of leather strips flared at its tip as he flicked it with his wrist, getting the feel of it after using the cane. I don't remember much of his discussion of the design and safe use and handling of the whip. All I really remember was the scream that Alexandra let out when he hit her with the thing. That, and the red line of blood that flowed down her leg after the second blow hit.

The only thought in my head was that I could not do what every cell in my body demanded that I do. I could not demolish Nicholaus, so I took the only other action I had available. I took off.

I felt a snapping jerk at my neck as I started storming through the crowd towards the curtains on the far side of the barn. Monique's leash was still attached me tightly to her wrist. Unfortunately for her, in those spiked heels of hers, she was unable to gain a solid foothold and either had to follow me or fall on her face. She told me later that she'd yelled at me to stop, but I did not hear her and I did not stop. The shocked crowd parted for me without a word being said.

As I burst through the curtain, Monique's "Dammit, Nathan, stop! You are making fools of us!" broke through to me, but I kept going.

We weren't alone in the entry foyer. The man who had been carded by the dungeon master was still fuming.

Monique's yell alerted him, and he turned in time to see me dragging her towards the door. He was quick for a big man, and he stepped in front of me in time to lock the door. After removing the key from the lock, he turned to face me, grinning maliciously. "You are disobeying your Mistress, slave. Now turn around and go back in there like a good boy so you can get the punishment you deserve. I might even be willing to help with his discipline, Madame, if you would like. I would just enjoy the hell out that. In fact, I insist upon the pleasure of it."

That did it. The tenuous hold I had on my control snapped. I grabbed the wrist holding the key before he could even react. A twisting snap move on his wrist combined with a palm heel strike to his opposite shoulder sent him spinning face first into the wall. He screamed in surprise as the hand holding the keys twisted behind his back, up between his shoulder blades in a vicious hammerlock that had all my weight leaning into it. "Now look, asshole." I whispered behind his ear, "If I stay, that son of a bitch on the dias is going to need an ambulance. You may need one in any case. Now, either give me the damn key that opens that door, or I will use your head to open the damn thing. Head first the hard way! Do I make myself clear?!? One way or the other, I am going out that door. It is your choice, but just now, I hope you won't give me the key." He disappointed me. The key fell into my free hand, and I flung him away from me in disgust. I was out the door in seconds, still dragging a furious Monique behind me. I reached up and unclipped the leash, tossing it away from me, as well.

Fifty feet from the door, I finally stopped and let the cold rush of air fill my lungs in an attempt to cool the furies burning inside me. I wanted to break something, to hit something. I needed to hit something. Unfortunately, the closest something was Monique, who heedless of her own safety, stormed up to me and got into my face. Raw fury blazed in her eyes, too. "Damn You, Nate, what the hell do you think you were doing in there? You dragged me about like a dog. What do you think those friends of mine in there are going to think? I cannot believe you would be so inconsiderate of me as to humiliate me like that. Damn you! How could you?"

I took a step closer to her and got into her face, startling her. I was deadly calm as I answered her in deliberate terms. "Fine, Monique, let me ask you just what would happen to your reputation here if I had demolished that son of a bitch with the bloody whip like I really wanted to and was one more stroke of his whip from doing? Answer me that, Monique!"

Her eyes widened, and then blinked convulsively a couple of times as she considered that, then shrugged slightly. "Nicholaus is a very powerful man, Nathan." She was trying to dismiss the very concept of me confronting the man. "Hell, he is almost six inches taller and fifty pounds heavier than you. You would never take him on."

"Monique, never make the mistake of underestimating me. Remember that fool in the entrance foyer. Don't ever forget that I am first and foremost a warrior. Your friend in there may be big, and he may look really tough in all that black finery of his, whipping a bound woman half his size, but, he would never know what hit him with me. Believe it. He would be on the floor in the fetal position before he or anyone else could stop me."

Shocked by my outburst, Monique took a couple of steps backward, trying to gain space. "Perhaps. Perhaps not. But in any event, you can't just stomp around here dressed like that. You will freeze, or someone will attack you."

I almost smiled at the thought. "I am more than warm enough, Monique. Besides, we are out in the country, not downtown DC. There is no one out to attack me here, Monique, although at this point, I almost hope someone would try to jump me. Go inside and do whatever you need or want to do in there. I will stay out here." I strode off, and then started to jog down the dirt roads surrounding the old barn and house. I could see Monique watching me as I finished each of the first couple of laps. She had seen me deal with anger at work this way. The third time around, she was no longer there. I guessed that she had gone back inside after she had assured herself that I was not leaving.

The exercise felt good, and I could feel the excess adrenalin leaving my system. After about twenty minutes, I rounded the house to see that Monique was back. Two robed figures stood beside her: One tall, one not. Nicholaus and Alexandra. I did not stop, but continued my run. I wondered idly if those were their real names, or if they used them like stage names.

Monique forced the issue on my next pass, stepping directly in front of me and forcing me to stop or run her down. Nicholaus gripped the leather strap of my chest harness, but made no other move. Monique tapped me in the chest with her gloved finger. "We would like to speak with you, Nathan. Please." I could have, would have resisted almost anything else, but in the face of that simple plea, I was helpless.

All the anger left me, leaving me unbearably weary. I looked to the big man, standing quietly to one side of me. "Let go of me, please." It was a command, perhaps even a threat. He understood, considered for a moment, then let go. Immediately, the woman stepped between me and Nicholaus. If I still wanted to take him down, I would have had to go through her.

I took two steps back, putting distance between us. To my surprise, Monique moved to stand beside me. "Mr. Evans." Alexandra said. "Monique told Nick and me how upset you were when I cried out, and when he cut me. I am sorry you were so angry, but tonight was advertised as a demonstration of the extremes of such activities."

I shook my head. "I did not know about the advertising of it, I did not know about it until you started it."

"You do understand, don't you, that nothing happened in there that I did not permit to happen? That it was done with my full cooperation and consent?" Her voice was soft, reasonable, yet firm with conviction.

I nodded jerkily. "Lady, if I did not know that, I would have been on that dias instead of out the door. I don't understand it, I don't think I will ever understand it, but I know that you do and that you accept it. But even knowing that, I could not have stayed in there for another blow without doing something to stop it. So I left. Somewhat precipitously, but you do what you have to do."

Nicholaus smiled. "And I imagine what you would have done would be something in the line of what happened to our musclebound young self styled master inside the door?" His voice was filled with surprising good humor.

"Something like that." I admitted, "Although in your case, I would have been more direct and not given any warning or any choices. I gave him one. He took it. That is why he is still awake."

Nicholaus laughed. "I see. Well, just so you know, Jennifer just reset his dislocated elbow. He will hurt for quite awhile, I should think." Remembering the young woman with the welts on her back, I decided that I did not much care if he could not swing his lethal little toys for awhile. "Mr. Evans." He started to speak once more. "You do not know me, but I would never do anything to her that she did not want to give me. And if I saw a dom abuse a slave, I would react much as you did. I understand that this may seem.... contradictory to you, but it is nonetheless true. I deal in pain, yes. I deal in hurt, yes. But I also deal in pleasure, and with Alexandra, one feeds the other. That is not true of every submissive, but we have been together as mates, and as Master and Slave for fifteen years now. Hell, man, I would die before I ever caused her real hurt."

I knew it was true. Hell, I had known it was true when I had stormed out of there in a blind fury. It did not make it any easier to understand, but my lack did not affect the simple basic truth of the matter. "I accept that, Nicholaus. I am sorry to interrupt your presentation, but that could not be avoided, I think, except if I had not been here at all. Thank you for coming out to talk to me. I am sure you are both cold. Please, go back inside, now."

He stood there, staring at me for a long moment. "All right, but before I go, let me offer you this. Monique knows my home phone number. If you need to talk, call me. I like you, Mr. Evans. You chose to avoid causing real hurt when your instincts told you to hurt. Let me know if I can help, maybe answer questions, maybe just listen." He held out his hand. I took it and shook it firmly. Alexandra surprised me with a hug, and then the two of them left, heading back for the warmth of the barn.

"Well, now what, Nathan?" Monique's quiet question startled me as I watched the pair receding into the light of the door.

I did not turn to her. "I can't go back in there, Monique. Not tonight. Maybe, not ever. If you wish to stay, maybe you could give me the keys to the car? I will pick you up tomorrow."

Soft arms covered by hard leather enveloped me from behind. "No. I think we have both had enough. I will go make our apologies to Tory and get our coats. I will be out in a few minutes." A soft kiss on my cheek, and she, too, walked back to the door, leaving me alone with thoughts and with demons in the dark.

The drive was silent until we were pulling off the Beltway, heading towards the house in Great Falls.

"You are going to want to do that to me, aren't you, Monique?" My voice was flat, without inflection.

Heavy silence answered me for interminable seconds. She sighed softly. "Yes." Her voice was as toneless as my own had been. "You need to see that from me, to feel that from me before you can make a final decision about us. I do not do it often, but every once in a while, maybe once or twice a year, I feel the need of that kind of power, for that kind of worship. You must know the full extent of my need. You must see and feel what I guess you would call 'my worst'. You may not be able to accept that, Nathan. But, I cannot accept you unless you know it all. If I give myself to you, and then you leave me because you can't accept that, it would destroy me."

Silence prevailed again as she maneuvered the sleek car up the driveway to her mansion in the woods. In the darkness, I could almost feel separate from what fate and Monique had in store for me. I turned away, as if not facing her made it less frightening for me, less final. "You told me all that already, haven't you, Monique? I just never believed for a moment that it would be like that. It is a go-no go, too. Isn't it?" I turned to look her in the face as she responded.

She did not answer immediately, but with a soft exhalation of breath, she nodded. "I promised you once that there were no more corporal go-no goes. But I need this, Nathan, we need this. It is part of who I am. It is part of what I expect to be. Somehow, you will have to find a way to give it to me, to try and give it to me. I can't make it a go-no go, I have promised to honor your safe word, but still..."

"Still, it is the same thing. You need this, you want this. You are not able to compromise on it. Very well. I will try, Monique. I will go as far as I can." Too much for one night, I thought, too much. I was losing control.

Monique spoke again. Her voice made more ominous by the stillness of the night. "You will need to plan some recovery time, Nathan. For someone who is still really a novice, what I want to do will be a very severe and demanding test. Three or four days at the least. A week might be better."

The sooner the better. "We will plan it for the week before Christmas, so I will recover in time for the holidays." If there was to be any holidays this year.

Part Eighteen: Laying it on the Line, Laying on the Block
Previous Part Sixteen: Deeper Play