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Part Eighteen: Laying it on the Line, Laying on the Block

Chapter 53: Preparations and Readiness

For several reasons, we decided Monique would whip me on a Saturday, before Christmas. I wanted it over with. Monique might consider a long, drawn out period of pre-scene anticipation a consummation devoutly to be desired, but I did not. Secondly, and from Monique's perspective, the holiday season would provide me the opportunity to take sufficient, unquestioned holiday vacation for a complete recovery. Ultimately, I selected the date, the Saturday ten days prior to Christmas, because I did not particularly want my first Christmas with Monique colored by residual hurts and aches.

Don't ask me why, but we invited Jennifer and Roselie to attend the event. It was Monique's idea to ask them and, although I really wasn't sure why Monique wanted anyone else involved, I did not contest her. Did she want Dr. Jennifer there to perform the safety function that she had at Victoria's party? Was Monique really concerned that she might go that far? If so, why include Roselie? I simply did not understand her thinking in agreeing to this. On the other hand, I hoped that Roselie's presence might cause Monique to pause for reflection during the scene.

The closer the day came, the less I understood about the entire setup for this scene. And that was part of the problem - certainly, it was part of my problem. I did not a clear picture of Monique was planning for this session - and this time, at least, that was mostly my fault. I was brooding.

One of my great faults is that I tend to close down, emotionally and mentally isolating myself, when dealing with very stressful or very unpleasant situations. Not that Monique and I stopped talking to one another. We certainly did, every day at work, and at her house, but we did not talk about the whipping - because I could not talk about it and she did not try to force the issue. We continued to make love, but it was different than it had been - more frantic with just a tinge of desperation. Would better communication with Monique have changed what was to occur? I really don't know, but my thinking was, and still is, that nothing would have changed. Monique had her plans and agenda, and she was going to see them through, come hell or high water. Single minded determination is one of her greatest strengths, but it is also one of her greatest faults.

My side of Monique's bed was empty that Friday night - not because I had been banished, or because she wanted to be alone to get her head together for the big event the next day. She already had that all planned out, and so far as she was concerned, nothing out of the ordinary would happen until the morning. Her schedule leading up to our appointment in her dungeon would begin when Roselie and Jennifer arrived and they were not expected until sometime between nine and ten o'clock in the morning. I did not sleep with Monique simply because I could not sleep. Since she could, I left her to it, not wanting my restlessness to disturb her. If I had to go through with it, I wanted her completely alert, and in full command of her faculties.

I roamed the shadow shrouded house like a nervous cat, startled by every creaking floor board, by every whispering draft. Her home seemed very cold, very dark and very sinister that night. And that night, it was definitely not my home, only hers.

In the den, I approached her fully stocked bar, and briefly considered getting drunk, but I had come too far to fall back into that trap. Regardless of what the new day brought, I would face it unimpaired. I might humble myself to her, but I would never surrender my dignity to a bottle again.

Dawn's first light found me sitting in a chair in the den, staring out the windows at the sunrise. Early winter sunrises come late here abouts and shortly thereafter I heard her stirring about in the kitchen. If my absence from her bed had made any impression on her, she did not mention it.

Monique made and served a sumptuous breakfast that I could not eat. I sat there at the breakfast nook table - drinking my coffee and wanting to ask her how could she blithely sit there. How could she simply eat her breakfast, make the usual Saturday morning small talk, as if the fact that in a few hours she would be using a whip on me was completely inconsequential? I wished she would say something, anything to make me feel that I was important - more important than this damnable test of hers.

She finished her meal, made no comment when she picked up my untouched plate, then rinsed the dishes for the dishwasher. Once everything was tidied up, she started to leave the room, but turned back to me at the last moment. "I am going up to my room now, Nathan. You will not see me again until you are brought before me. Ask Jennifer to come to me when she arrives, please."

I wanted to yell at her, to ask her "Can't you even tell me you love me? For god's sake, can't you even give me that?", but all I did was promise to do as she had asked.

Shortly after that, Jennifer and Roselie arrived. Both were somewhat somber faced, but smiled when they saw me at the door. Jennifer gave me a hug and headed up to Monique as requested.

I invited Roselie into the den for some coffee. She came with me, but declined the coffee. We sat in thick silence - Roselie watching me stare at the walls.

"I almost refused to come." Her quiet voice still startled me out of my reveries. I looked over to her. "I almost did not come this morning."

Interested now, if only for the distraction, I asked her why she had wanted to refuse? "Because I don't think this is going to be much fun for any of us, Nathan. Do you?" Her eyebrows lifted in challenge.

"Not for me, but this is what Monique wants. If I give her this, she will be happy. Right?" That is what I had been telling myself, anyway. Hell, that is what I had to believe.

Roselie did not answer immediately, then shook herself. She crossed her arms and rubbed her hands up and down the exposed skin of her arms as if she were suddenly cold. "God, I wish I still smoked. To answer your question, Nathan, I hope so. I hope it makes her happy. God knows what will, if this doesn't."

Shaken by the dull tone of her voice as much as by the words, I turned to her fully now. "Why wouldn't it?"

She smiled ruefully. "Excellent question, Nate. I can't think of a single reason. You have given her everything she has any right to ask for. More than she has any right to, if you want the truth of it. You ask why I came. To be here for you, my friend, that is why." She walked over, settled in my lap and kissed me. "Damn, but it would have been so much better if you had seen me first. I would have had you wrapped up before she had a chance."

That made me smile. She would have been a much easier love than the one my heart had chosen. I looked at her, sitting there. In an earlier age, she would have been called a "pocket venus". She would have been the measure by which other women around her would have been judged, but she wasn't the one who made my heart race.

A thought struck me. "Rosie?" Her eyes rose to mine in response to the question in my voice. "Has she ever...." I hesitated, then forged on. "I mean, have you ever faced..... hell.. has she ever whipped you?"

She smiled ruefully and shook her head. "No, not by Monique."

I heard the qualification in her voice. "Have you been whipped? Like she is planning to do to me?"

She hesitated, then answered. "Yes. By my first Master - the one before I found Monique."

"What was it like?"

"What do you think it was like, Nate? It hurt. A lot. He cut me quite badly, but I cut easily and I bleed a lot. Monique cut me with her crop early on in our time together. I think it is why she uses her paddle and strap on me when she wants a heavy session with me. Less chance of slicing me again. I never made not using the whip an explicit limit in my negotiations with her, but I think she knew it really is a limit for me. I think if I ever saw her come at me with a whip, I would probably safe word. Do I trust Monique? Yes. Do I think she would hurt me, really hurt me with a whip? No, at least, nothing beyond anything she has done to me with her strap or paddle. But I remember that whip, and that last time with the whip, and I don't think I can ever trust a whip."

I tried to grin at her. I failed. "Damn, Rosie. Don't you know when a guy is asking for some encouragement?"

With a cry, she launched herself off my lap and knelt beside me. Her hands rested on my knee as she looked up at me, her brow furrowing in her concern. "Nate.. whatever happens today, no matter how terrible it seems, it will be over - you can and will get past it. Learn from this experience. Use it as a basis for negotiation - force Monique make some real compromises for a change. So far, you've made all the real concessions in this relationship."

I started to ask her what she meant, when Jennifer strode into the room. "Roselie." Her tone was sharp and demanding. "I need you. Please go to the guest bathroom. Mr. Evans. Please go to your room and wait for us there." She looked at me and must have seen something of what I was feeling. Her face and tone softened. "We will get you in a moment, Nate."

I sat on the edge of "my" bed, looking around "my" room. Roselie's interrupted line of thought filled my mind. Thus far, the only concessions that Monique had ever made in this relationship, other than to have one in the first place, had been made after she had stepped over the line in some way. Suspending any corporal punishment under go-no go rules had come about for that reason, as had the concession on cross dressing and public play. As had the "slow down and go more carefully to find out what we both like" plan of more recent days. Was I conceding too often and too much to her? Other than that first night, when I had pulled out my laughably inadequate list of limits, had I ever truly negotiated with her? Sitting alone, preparing myself emotionally and mentally to withstand the pain to come, I could not remember any negotiations. Either one of us conceded something, and the other accepted it.

My door opened without a knock. Jennifer and Roselie, both in white terry cloth bathrobes walked in. Roselie had another of the robes draped over her arm which she handed to me. "Nathan, Roselie and I will prepare you for Mistress Monique's pleasure." Jennifer said in a quiet, authoritative voice. "Please strip completely and put on this robe. We will return for you in five minutes." And with that, both women left me alone once more.

I admit some surprise that I was afforded the privacy to strip down. On reflection, I decided that there was something symbolic about it. Maybe I was leaving my freedom behind with my clothes. Maybe it was just simple courtesy on the part of two women who understood my own misgivings and were giving me time and space to get past them. I hung my clothes up neatly. I did not think that Monique would use such ploys to drive today's scene, but neatness was part of her training, and I complied with her edicts on that score, too. I donned the heavy robe and sat back down on the bed, once more. I did not have to wait long.

Jennifer knocked this time - in deference to my modesty? I did not know, but I bid her enter. She led me down the upstairs hall, past Monique's room to the main guest room at the other end of the house. This room was almost as plush as Monique's room, but not as femininely appointed as hers. Roselie awaited us inside the room, standing next to the entrance to the huge, private bathroom. Similar to the master bath in Monique's room, it included a very large jacuzzi-type bath instead of Monique's antique clawfoot, and a large sink and counter in place of Monique's bathroom vanity table.

Jennifer preceded me into the bath. Roselie followed us in and closed the door behind her. The tub was filled with hot, florally fragrant water. The jacuzzi jets were off. "Nathan, today you are facing a trial of body and soul. We will commence your rite of submission with a cleansing of your body." It was then that I noticed the red rubber bag hanging a hook above the commode. A padded stool stood beside the toilet. Horrified, I looked first to Roselie, who would not meet my eyes, then to Jennifer. She read my intent instantly. "Don't say a word until you hear me out fully, Mr. Evans." Only the sharpness of her words prevented my safewording. "The enema is for your benefit. I do not intend to give you a high colonic cleaning, or to strain you. Dammit, man, I am a doctor before I am a dominant. Do you wish to lose control of your bowels on the block? This" and she indicated the bulging bag and tube, "will be over in a few minutes. We will leave you alone to relieve yourself, if you wish. Either Roselie or I can attend you, at your choice."

"Is this her idea?"

Jennifer eyes went wide at the fury she heard in my voice. "No." Her voice was firm, but very soft. "No, the idea was mine. This is not part of the scene your Mistress specified for you. I told her I would do it, and she said that she had no objections, but it is my idea."

"Then I am not going to submit to that." My tone was as steely as my backbone.

Jennifer tried playing stare down with me and lost. Finally, she nodded. "Very well. She did not think you would tolerate it, anyway. Please, give Roselie your robe and step into the tub, Nathan. We have much to accomplish in a short period of time."

Shedding her robe, Roselie joined me in the tub while Jennifer took a seat on the stool. Every part of me was lovingly soaped, washed and rinsed. The scent of the bath oil was elusively familiar, and finally, I placed it. The scent was the same as the perfume and cologne Monique had bought for Natalia.

With her knees straddling my thighs, Roselie lathered, then meticulously shaved my face. She gave similar attention to my groin and ass, leaving both as hairless as my face. The bath was reminiscent of the one I got the night that Monique and I had jointly dominated Roselie, including her efforts to arouse me.

This time, it did not work. I remained limp, despite her best efforts to get me hard. The longer it went, the more tense I became. Finally, I snapped and stood up, water streaming off me. "Enough!" I bellowed. "I have had enough! Can't we get this over with?"

Jennifer spoke for the first time since I had refused the enema. Her tone was softly chiding, as if explaining manners to an erring youth. "You do not rush these things, Nathan. Everything must be done just so to make the ritual complete. The ceremony, the pomp and circumstance are at least as important as the actual event. It is the anticipation that makes the scene memorable, the interaction hot."

I grabbed my robe and began to briskly rub down my arms and chest. "Not to me." I growled. "I want it over. As quickly as possible."

Jennifer's eyebrows rose in challenge. "Oh. Is the scene for you, then? I had not realized." The small grin was meant to defuse my temper. It didn't.

"No, if it was for me it would never happen. And you know it, too."

Jennifer's temper flared at that. "Then either give the gift freely and fully, or not at all. Either give me your safeword right now and be done with it, or let her derive as much out of this experience as she possibly can. Anything less cheats her. You did not have to agree to this, Nathan. You could have negotiated out of this, made it a limit. Either do it as she has asked of you or not at all. Now, which will it be?"

Roselie turned away. Again, my eyes locked with Jennifer's. I wanted to tell her how little choice I felt I had in this. How poor a negotiating position I felt that I had in all this. Why I did not, I don't know. I stepped out of the tub. I saw the reflection of my ass, bright red from the hot water and the irritation of the shaving. "I am done in the tub. What is next?"

It was not the yes-no answer that Jennifer wanted, but it was all I could give her and she recognized that. "Roselie, dry him off, anoint him and then bring him into the bedroom." She turned on heel and left the bathroom.

Roselie dried me from head to toe, including a thorough blow drying of my hair. The anointing hurt. The cream she rubbed into my freshly shaved buttocks was highly astringent and it stung the abraded skin. "What the hell is that?" I demanded. Roselie merely shook her head and refused to answer. A light went on. "Have you been ordered not to speak to me?" She nodded. "So you can't give away the game, eh?" Again, she nodded. I was alone. Yet again. "Are you done?" I asked, my patience slipping more with each second.

Gracefully, she rose to her feet and went to the door. Opening it, she motioned for me to proceed.

Jennifer was seated in one of the bedroom sitting chairs. She had discarded her robe and was dressed in black slacks, a black blazer and medium length heels. "Rotten trick, Jennifer, isolating me from Roselie like that."

She blew. "Dammit, Nathan. Are you going to fight this every damned step of the way? Are you going to do this or not? Tell me now. I have better things to do than to waste my day with a smart assed sub who is going to do his level best to make this experience miserable for everyone involved. All right. You don't want to do this. Acknowledged. I, for one, am looking forward to this. Your Mistress, your lover, the woman you profess to love, is looking forward to this. Roselie is.." Jennifer's voice stopped in mid spate. "Very well, then. Monique has told me what she wants. Are you going to stop bitching and go do it her way, or not?"

It was then I saw the cuffs, collar and leash on the bed. Too much, and I could not take any more. God, why did it have to be this way? "Better call her in, Jennifer. I am not wearing those. I walk to her unencumbered, unbound, or not at all. She wants them on me once we get there, okay, but I walk into that...." words failed me. "I walk in there free."

She threw her arms up in the air, looking heavenward. "You are damned lucky I am not the one wielding the whip. Come here." I walked to where she stood and she pulled out a mass of straps. It was the chastity. "This is for your safety, Nathan, the cup will protect those manly balls you are so fond of. I want it on you now, so that you move with it to the dungeon. Then, any residual looseness can be adjusted out of it prior to the whipping." She saw me look at the ring where an anal probe or plug could be fitted. She grinned grimly. "No ass plug, Mr. Evans. And that is per her orders. This is not part of the test. It is, as I said, for your safety."

Chapter 54: The Whipping

As the big clock in the hallway struck noon, Roselie and Jennifer escorted me out of the guest room. Roselie preceded me, still nude. She carried the leather cuffs I had refused. Jennifer walked one step ahead of me, to my left. I had been denied the use of the robe, but that was not unexpected. Emotions roiled up in me as we passed the den and headed for the doorway to the basement. Who was I angry at? Monique for asking this of me, or myself for acquiescing? I never found the answer.

In the end, all I had was Roselie's advice. Get through it. Get it over with. I would use every bit of strength, every bit of will power to see this through to the end. I had done things like this before - at the Academy, in the Navy and lately, with Monique. As long as it had an ending, as long as I could count down to a finish, I could take it. I could tolerate anything that had a finite ending. I could and would tolerate this, for Monique, and for the future I wanted to have with her.

Monique awaited us outside one of the rooms in her basement of dungeons. I cringed when I saw her. She could not have chosen a more horrifying costume for this. Other than the high heeled pumps that had replaced the gym shoes, her outfit was identical to the one she had worn when she had sought retribution for the scene in San Francisco. "Welcome," she said, her mischievous smile lighting her face. "to the Colonial Hall of Justice and Correction, Mr. Evans. Since you enjoy that historic period so much, Mr. Evans, I was sure it would help make your trial more meaningful and memorable for you."

Roselie and Jennifer handed her the restraints they carried. She accepted them without comment. "Present yourself, Mr. Evans. I wish you to wear my collar during your whipping, sir."

I kneeled before her. "Mistress, may I have permission to pay you homage?" Surprised, she hesitated before presenting her hand for my kiss. I don't know about her, but that contact helped me in some way. At least, my emotions calmed when my hand and lips touched her hand. The collar clicked shut about my throat and I was led into the room.

The head and neck pillory had been lowered, so that the head and hand stocks were in front of a bolster. I was placed on my knees, bending over the cushioned block with my head hanging over the pillory. Quickly and efficiently, Jennifer and Monique saw to my restraints. The stocks were locked over my wrists and neck.

Roselie rolled a large screen video monitor into my field of vision. The video camera that fed it was positioned to show every detail of what was going on behind the stocks that held my head. The cuffs I had refused before were locked on my wrists, further preventing my premature escape from the block. A pair of spreader bars were cuffed to my knees and to my ankles. Jennifer clipped a short, stout chain to the bar between my knees and locked it to a clip embedded in the floor beneath the bolster. The chain was tightened, drawing my knees under the edge of the bolster, forcing my hips to hug up to it. Monique turned a hand crank on the bolster. My hips rose as the back of the bolster expanded upward with each revolution. Another crank, turned by Jennifer, raised the stocks upward so that there was no strain on my neck, but my buttocks were being stretched tight as a drum. Finally, my spread feet found purchase on the floor. Another chain, this one connected to the bar between my feet was hooked to the same floor clip. Both chains were adjusted to remove any slack and any possible freedom of movement. A wide, thick strap was fitted about the small of my back and my hips, just above my tailbone. The belt connected to the sides of the bolster and once tightened, held me firmly down against its cushiony surface.

The video monitor went dark. "We wanted you to see how careful we are being with your safety, Mr. Evans." Monique's voice was just behind me, but I could not turn to find her. "This bondage serves a dual purpose. First and foremost, it is to prevent you from moving and causing me to miss my target. That could cause you unintended, as opposed to intended, injuries. Secondly, you have agreed to be tested by me. I like having you helpless at my disposal. I do apologize for not having one of Nicholaus' Singapore caning frames. Maybe next time." The last was said in the faintly mocking tones she knew got to me. I had to maintain control this time. Emotion would only leave me all the more vulnerable once the adrenalin surge passed.

She stepped around the stock, and crouched in front of me. "Before we start, Nathan, I want you to understand something. I wore these clothes for the same reason as last time and for another, yet different reason, too. They give me the freedom of movement and improved control I will need today. And this is not about sex, is it, Nate? Not today. So that is why I am attired as I am. Next time, I will be the leather bitch or rubber goddess or whatever that makes this easier for you." She kissed me gently on the mouth.

She stood back up. Her hand came down to lift my chin, forcing my head back against the stock to look up into her eyes. "Do you know why you are here, Mr. Evans?"

That answer was easy. There was only one thing that could have gotten me here like this. "Only because I love you."

"You are here to be whipped, sir. Not as discipline, not as punishment for any real or imagined offense, but for no other reason than that I want to do it. Because I will take pleasure in the gift of your submission to my gift of pain."

I tried to smile. It was hard and I don't know if I succeeded. "I think, Mistress, that is what I just said."

"As you like it, Mr. Evans, but that is not the point for the experience we are about to share. You love what you have seen so far, and that has not been all there is to see of me. You are here to taste, to feel, to hurt and likely, to bleed. You are here to find out if you can love what you would call the worst of me. Do you accept, freely and of your own will, the gift of my whip?"

The whip came out from behind her to dangle in front of my eyes. I shuddered to look at it. Thank God, it was not like the thick, heavy braided one that Nicholaus used. It was shorter, maybe three and a half to four feet long. It was also much stiffer, like a long, thin cane, but with a short tassel of leather streamers flexing on the end as she waved it back and forth in front of my eyes.

I closed my eyes and swallowed. "Yes, Monique." The absence of 'Mistress' was intentional, and we both knew it, but she also understood what I was saying, and did not denigrate that. This was not a scene in the sense of our other times together. This was different, and we both knew that, too.

"Very well, Mr. Evans. Now, speak your safe word, so that all attending can hear it, and know that you remember it."

"Mistress Monique, I am here because I believe that we are SoulMates, and that is my safe word. My safe word is 'SoulMate'."

Monique released my chin and turned to face behind me. "Did you hear and understand his safeword, Mistress Jennifer?" She asked.

Jennifer's voice sounded clearly from the direction Monique faced. "Yes, Mistress Monique, I did hear it. His safeword is "SoulMate"."

Monique turned to face the other corner of the room. "Roselie, did you hear and understand his safeword?"

Roselie's response was barely audible to me, but Monique accepted it and lifted the whip in her right hand, and began to lightly slap the palm of her left hand with it.

"Very well. I will now pronounce sentence on the supplicant. Mr. Evans, I sentence you to twenty strokes of the whip. Twenty strokes, Mr. Evans. Whatever else happens, whatever follows this, I want you to know that this is given to you with my love."

The monitor flared back to life, giving me close up view of my leather gilded ass. Monique stepped into the camera's field of vision. I would be able to see what was happening to me as it happened. If I wanted to see it, that is.

The first stroke was flush across both cheeks and burned. I tried the clinical approach, comparing this thrashing with others I had received from Monique with other implements. Not as heavy or as wide a blow as the strap, this was much more localized, sharper. The stingers on the end were evidently weighted. They wrapped around my buttock and felt like a dozen knives, cutting into me. The second stroke burned into me, making me wish I had something in my mouth to bite down on besides my tongue and lips.

By the fifth stroke, I couldn't watch anymore and closed my eyes. The look of concentration and detached pleasure in Monique's face was painful to me, in and of itself. Moreover, seeing the whip fall was like being hit twice. I already knew what it would feel like when it struck and was anticipating the new line of fire across my backside.

I counted each stroke, and not because I had been ordered to do so. I counted them backwards, like a missile launch countdown. I remembered Roselie's promise - it will be over, and I prayed the litany of "19 more strokes and this will be over", "15 more strokes and this will be over.", telling myself that I could do this. I could and I would, for myself, for Monique and for our future together.

But, even with every trick I could think of, every mental diversion I could devise, it was hell. The eighth stroke cut me, and as I felt the trickle down the back of my thigh, a new, completely different burning seared me. I lost control and broke, screaming in surprised pain. It felt like acid had been poured into the small cut where the blood welled before dripping away. The whipping stopped momentarily and Jennifer moved into the camera's vision to check the cut. It must have been inches deep to hurt like that.

"It is not deep, Monique." she said to my utter disbelief. "The antiseptic lotion we spread on him burns and it is a ragged cut. It is not serious. You may continue if you wish." Jennifer said with a clinical detachment I did not share.

"I promised him twenty, Mistress Jennifer. Only he can stop me before I reach that number." Her tone was like nothing I had ever heard from her before. She said without words that I would halt this before twenty, and I gained new resolve. I did not want to be here, but now that I was, nothing would make me quit.

At some point between the 10th and 15th, I fainted, losing control of my bladder at the same time. Jennifer brought me around with smelling salts amid the stench of my urine drenching the leather cushions. And still, I counted downward, promising myself that it would soon be over, fighting to hold my concentration and to see this through. I remembered a time when I was wrestling at the Academy. I had gotten caught in a sucker's move right at the start of the period and had spent the entire two minute period in an excruciatingly painful hold, fighting to not get pinned. The hold was called a guillotine, and it was agony. I had not gotten pinned then. I would not get pinned now.

I fainted again. Roselie brought me back that time and I had to ask her the count when the ammonia ampule under my nose snapped me back to the red fire of wakefulness. "Eighteen, Nathan." Two more.. Just two more...

My ass felt like it was two feet further behind me than when we started. An unwary glance at the video monitor made me cringe. My backside looked like it had been broiled on a charcoal grill. The symmetric, cross hatch pattern of welts and cuts were stark color against a mottled canvas.

The last blow was the worst yet, and it too, drew blood. I screamed again, with what voice I had left, and then collapsed against the bolster. Every muscle giving up with the ending of the battle they had fought over the previous, uncounted minutes. I felt like boneless flesh, but at least, it was over. The timer buzzer had rung. The match was over. I had not been pinned.

I screamed so hard my throat hurt as a new line of fire seared across me, just where the thighs meet the buttocks. Had I lost count? Had Roselie lost count and given me the wrong number? Another agonizing stroke followed immediately after that one, and that one was followed by another. And another.

And another.

And another.

And blackness.

Ammonia did not rouse me this time, voices did. I was awake, but it hurt too much to open my eyes, so I did not. I simply laid there, and tried not to think.

"Monique, for the love of the Goddess, that is more than enough. What are you thinking of? His ass is hamburger, for god's sake! Every one of your last six blows drew!"

"Rouse him, Roselie. Now!" Monique's voice was thready, breathy, and it sounded like she was sobbing.

"Monique, no! That is enough. No more and I am speaking as a doctor, now. I don't know what this man's limits are, and I do not care. You have exceeded mine for what I planned this day."

"But he hasn't..." I could hear Monique's tears, now.

"He has done everything you could possibly have expected, Monique. Now, we have to take care of him. It is over." Jennifer's voice was soft, now, gentle.

"But, he hasn't safeworded. He has to safeword so I can acknowledge it and accept it, Jennifer." Her words were frantic, almost hysterical now. "I won't have that be the reason he uses to leave me when he finally decides he can't stand this or me anymore. He has to know - he has to trust that I will recognize and respond to him when and if he safe words me."

"My God, Monique." Jennifer's voice was disbelieving. "Is that what this was all about? To force him to give up, so that you could play grand domme and accede to his desire not to be whipped anymore?"

"Either that or to make him leave now instead of later." Her voice was dead, lifeless. It mirrored my soul at that moment. "He is getting more important to me by the day, Jennifer. Soon, he will be everything to me, and when he leaves then, it will destroy me. He had to see the very worst in me."

"The worst in you? God, I expect he did. And as if he isn't already that important to you, you stupid fool. Enough. Help me get him unbound and into a decent bed. He won't be going anywhere for the next forty eight to seventy two hours at the minimum."

The straps came free and the stocks were unlocked. I fought my way to my feet before the women could stop me, holding myself erect on the cross bar of the pillory with my arms alone. My back could not support me. My ass felt like the hamburger Jennifer had described it as and too many of my lower back muscles were out of commission. "Damn you, Monique. You said twenty. I trusted you. How could you do that to me again!"

She had been moving to support me but stopped dead under my furious glare. "It.... it wasn't a limit, Nate." She stuttered. "I did not exceed a limit. You had your safeword. We never specified a limit. I stretched rather than broke, Nathan. There was nothing to break."

"I was already stretched, dammit. I gave you everything I had to get to that damned twenty. You know I do not deal well with shades of grey, lady. I thought we had agreed to that. Your grey is my black." I turned to face Jennifer. "Did you know of this plan? Are you part of this .. this.. this..." Words failed me for the second time that day.

She shook her head, as did Roselie. "The answer to your question, Nathan, is no, but it is not unusual to include a few more of what a sub has agreed to accept in the course of a scene. It is done to show them they can go further, to help them grow further, so what happened did not seem out of the ordinary. At least, it did not seem so initially."

I could not handle it anymore. I tried to use various pieces of furniture and bondage frames to hand walk my body out of there - away from them and this room. They stopped me easily. "The cuts have to be treated, Nate." Jennifer said softly. I tried to refuse, but was stopped in mid sentence by a burning sting in the arm held by Jennifer followed by a metallic taste in the back of my mouth. The last thing I remember is seeing her withdraw a syringe from my upper arm.

Part Nineteen: An Ending
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