Here is the 3rd and final part of my bondage story "In For The Long Haul" This story may be reposted, provided it is unaltered and credited to me.
Chapter 8 Now - Mistress Anna and Bob
Mistress Anna gazed out at the crowd one more time before turning her attention back to Bob.
"Yes, Mistress Anna," he answered. Bob didn't hesitate and his voice was steady and firm.
"Oh. Now that his ass is really on the line, he remembers 'Mistress' when addressing me," Anna said with a laugh.
Anna scanned the spectators again, calculating how much longer she could hold their attention. Some of the bondage lovers had already drifted to the back of the small crowd.
She noticed a figure sitting with Rachel. She couldn't even tell if it was a man or a woman. A wide brimmed fedora shaded the figure's face. For a moment Anna thought it was Kevin, finally accepting her invitation to see 'that dominatrix stuff' he had barely acknowledged since they'd first discussed it nearly two years ago.
The mystery figure picked up a phone from the table and fiddled with it. Anna relaxed her posture. She had been taut and quivering without even realizing it. Kevin didn't play with his phone, ever.
The moment was over before her audience had time to notice. She picked up the glove.
"No sense bruising my hands on Bob's hard ass," she said. She let fly, holding the glove by a finger and landing the long cuff squarely on her victim's butt.
Bob wiggled, but made no sound. Sometimes he did, but more often not, at least not in a casual setting like this.
"Oops. Am I supposed to banter more?" The question was rhetorical, and she didn't allow time for an answer anyway. "Count, Bob," she commanded.
"One, Mistress Anna."
The glove landed again.
"Two, Mistress Anna."
Anna continued, working her way up and down from the top of Bob's backside to two handspans of his thigh below the curve of his cheeks. He counted the strokes without breaking his composure.
Anna tossed the glove aside and picked up the flogger. She was in her own world now. A place she sometimes not-so-jokingly called domspace, where she was entirely focused on her art. She was not alone in domspace, but rather brought her sub with her, taking in responses and feedback, delivering sensation that would ultimately arouse her victim.
Standing to one side of Bob's bound form, she looked at the hot pink expanse of skin. From past sessions, she knew her sub of the hour was just starting to feel the heat sink into his body, transforming it into something more.
The flogger struck. The only warning was the sound of the falls as she spun the instrument once before landing the blow. She used a short, tight, sideways arc, landing the falls in a bunch, covering one thigh where it met the crease of Bob's muscled runner's ass. The hide tips wrapped around a bit of his inner thigh and he jerked.
"Have your attention now, don't I?"
"You will use your safeword if I push too far," Anna said. "Because I mean to push you tonight."
"You don't need to count. Let yourself sink into it. Do you understand?"
"Yes, Mistress Anna," Bob answered with a small crack in his voice.
Anna rested her free hand on his back for a moment, feeling his heartbeat and reassuring him, she hoped.
The flogger spun, giving Bob barely enough time to brace. It landed as the first stroke, covering half of the target presented. As before, the ends of the hide strips wrapped, testing skin that rarely suffered such attention.
Anna plied the flogger in overlapping strokes, working her way up Bob's long thighs and onto his ass. She struck quickly, over and over, reddening the skin she ministered to. Except for a strip about two inches wide on each cheek. These strips, well muscled with no bones close to the skin, she reserved for later.
Bob squirmed and gasped, his breathing accompanied by sharp whistles. Anna stopped and he relaxed, hanging limp in the web of rope she had woven about him. Anna dropped the flogger and viewed her handiwork.
"Ready to call it a night, Bob?" she asked. His ass was a field of deep red fire with a single pink, horizontal stripe. She looked at the cup shielding his private parts. He had once confided that her discipline had brought him to orgasm on several occasions. The cup was too well fitted for her to be sure, but she guessed he might be close.
"No, Mistress. I know you have some trick up your sleeve. I want it all, Mistress Anna, please."
"Your funeral, dear," she said as she picked up the last instrument. "I'll bet calling it Bad Dog doesn't seem so funny now."
The crowd was still and silent. Anna turned to her audience and winked, trying to dispel some of the mood her ominous tone had created. She saw Rachel relax a bit and ease back in her chair. The mystery guest was gone and another quick scan of the room revealed neither him nor her own hoped for visit from Kevin.
She turned back to Bob. Her foray into light-heartedness collapsed, and for a moment she wanted to punish Bob, her other submissive friends, herself, and Kevin as painfully as she could. The mood passed as suddenly as it had risen.
"That's not me."
"Excuse me, Mistress? I couldn't hear you?"
Bob's voice startled her back to the moment. She hadn't realized her thought had been spoken aloud. Anna decided to use the moment and the mood. She flung her arm back, twisting at the waist. She paused just long enough for some of the audience to see the angry sneer contort her face. Several people gasped, a few made some noise, as if that might stop her.
Bad Dog descended in a blur. Bob stiffened, reacting to the commotion and, perhaps, expecting something truly terrible.
Anna checked her swing well short of Bob's defenseless skin. The implement had a little natural flex, which combined with a subtle flick of Mistress Anna's wrist to deliver a solid rap to Bob's taut flesh, exactly in the middle of the stripe she had left mostly untouched.
His reaction gratified her. She delivered a series of strokes, all to the same reserved space, using just a flick of her wrist. Bob bucked and squirmed. Anna hoped Rachel would not be too annoyed at the orgasm Bob had. He might have hidden it from the rest of the audience, but Anna knew.
She turned and bowed, waving Bad Dog like a conductor's baton. The applause tickled something deep within her, something almost as vital as the act of punishing Bob. Not that he seemed particularly punished, hanging utterly drained and relaxed in the rope harness.
With help from two volunteers, Anna quickly freed her victim. The crowd dispersed, moving to other play spaces or raiding the food table. Anna walked a shaky Bob back to his wife.
"Thank you, Mistress Anna. That was terrifying and amazing all at once," Bob said.
"I may need you to teach me how to do this for him," Rachel said as Bob staggered over to her for a long kiss.
"I would be glad to do that," Anna said when the couple came up for air.
"Really? I...oh crap. I almost forgot. Kevin stopped by and told me to tell you hi. He said he couldn't stay."
Anna's eyes flew open.
"That was the Kevin?" Rachel said. "The way he acted, I thought... Never mind what I thought. Are you okay?"
"Was he freaked out? Did he seem upset? I always invite him, just in case he wants to see or learn or... Oh shit. What a mess. I mean, I didn't plan for him to see full on Mistress Anna the first time he came to one of these!"
Rachel put both her hands on Anna's shoulders, fixing her in place. "He seemed fine, Anna. He made less than a minute of small talk, watched for a bit, and vanished while I was distracted. Are you sure he's not some other Kevin?"
"I'm sure, but I guess I'll find out soon enough," Anna said before hurrying off. This was not the way she intended for Kevin to see her.
She had rehearsed the scenario in her head often enough. They would both come to the party, casually dressed, either very early or very late to avoid the milling crowd. She would guide him through the space, answering questions or making observations.
In her heart of hearts, she often wondered what it would take for him to walk away. He had accepted her kink, but never participated. They reserved sex for each other, and love for each other, but he had never really seen what she professed to enjoy.
The car started without hesitation, but she sat still for nearly a minute.
"Damn it!" she shouted into the empty space. Before the tears could start, she pulled out of the lot and headed home.
Chapter 9 Then - Demons From The Past
Anna found a text message waiting for her when she got out of the shower.
"I know you have plans tonight, but would you have time for lunch? My place at 11:00?"
She wondered what was on Kevin's mind that would prompt his invitation only hours after an event that she knew had been trying for him. She thought about calling, but decided to follow his lead.
She texted back, "Sure. What can I bring? What's your address again?"
She received his reply and then spent the morning putting together a costume for the scene party later while trying not to think about Kevin.
Anna knocked on the door to his second floor apartment ten minutes early. She was looking out at the parking lot, noticing the complex seemed mostly full of college students, when he opened the door.
"Yum," Kevin said as he peeked under the foil covering the plate. Anna hesitated at the threshold. Her sudden timidity confused her, which only increased her unease.
"Please. Come in," Kevin looked at her. "Or would you prefer to go out for a quick bite?"
"No. I'm fine," she said, but she remained still.
"Trust your instincts, Anna. If your body doesn't want to go further, there's probably a good reason for it," Kevin said.
Anna caught a flash of something on his face. A bitter, pained, expression, maybe. She stepped into the room.
"Hold still," she said, voice just short of commanding. "I want to put my hand on your arm. Okay?"
Kevin nodded, suddenly tense. Anna's fingertips brushed the wrist above the hand holding the plate. Then, she settled her whole hand into a soft grip on his forearm.
"Kevin, It's not you I'm stumbling over. This whole dynamic is very strange to me. I've never been so uncertain about the whys and hows of a relationship in my life." She felt some of the tension go out of him. He shifted the plate to his other hand and moved for the kitchen, taking care not to dislodge her hand from his arm.
The small counter was taken up by deli trays of meats and cheeses, with other sandwich toppings and sub rolls to hold it all together.
"How many people are coming over?" Anna asked.
"I like to have choices when it comes to food. Don't worry. None of this will go to waste," he said as he set the brownies down in the only remaining open space.
"Talk first or talk while eating?" he asked.
"Let's at least make sandwiches," Anna said. She smiled as she repressed multiple smart remarks about sub rolls and sandwiches. She wondered if there would ever be appropriate moments for such jokes with Kevin.
They moved back out of the small kitchen to a small table that occupied about a third of the living room. Anna had imagined a more spartan environment for Kevin, but was pleased to discover she had missed the mark a little.
The walls were bare, as she imagined, but books were scattered about in neat stacks. There were no CDs, but maybe he preferred digital music. A small flat screen TV took up a corner, slightly dusty. A tower PC and a pair of laptops could be seen by a chair that faced the door and the rest of the apartment.
"I know you have things to do today, but, if I can, I want to do two things: pry and show you something."
"Pry?" Anna said.
"If this is a convenient time. You invited prying, right?" Kevin said.
"Well, yes. You are just full of surprises today, Kevin. And something you want to show me?"
"Yes." He paused. "One leads into the other, but let's save that for now. It may not even be necessary."
He took a bite from his sandwich, stalling further conversation. When Kevin spoke again, it was as though they hadn't paused.
"I was up all night reading, so if I seem a little out of it," he shrugged. "I'm too old for all nighters now, I guess."
"Reading what? I see a lot of books," Anna said as she reached for her glass of tea.
He smiled and Anna could see the fatigue in his eyes now. "No books last night. I was reading on line about your secret diversion."
Anna froze, the rim of the glass touching her lips. She carefully put it down. "And?"
"And I think the internet is a steaming pile of BS when it comes to this subject. I question the veracity of nearly everything I read. But so many others seemed to accept everything stated at face value! It just boggles the mind. And the contradictions..."
Anna interrupted him, gently. "Kevin?"
He blinked. "I was getting wound up, wasn't I?"
"Maybe a little," she said. "But that's not why I stopped you. Let's take a different tack. Forget about most of what you read and just ask me questions. Be blunt. It's one of your more endearing qualities anyway," she said with a smile, trying to lower the tension level.
"What do you call what you like to do?"
"Technically, I think BDSM works. Or maybe just B&D is more accurate. Honestly, when I have to put a word to it, I just use 'kink' for simplicity," Anna said.
"What do you do?" Kevin asked. His intense stare made Anna a bit nervous.
"This answer probably did not show up in your reading. I like to play with senses in an erotic context. And I like to be the person in charge and not the subject of such attention." She looked at Kevin's face. "I'm not making any sense, am I? Let me regroup."
She paused, trying to focus her mind.
"As either foreplay, or just for fun, always with consent, I like to tie up or otherwise restrain a partner. I like to use sensations like a spanking, or cold, or heat, or pretty much anything that we normally avoid, but which in that situation is transformed into a form of pleasure. Always safe and never with an unwilling partner."
"Safe and sane and consenting? I saw those words in a lot of the less fantastic articles," Kevin said, still directing his steady gaze at her face.
"Yes. We tend to make a big deal out of those ideas to stay grounded in reality." Anna thought for a moment, then spoke again. "Let's do a little experiment. We'll pretend we're planning a scene together. Most people I've gone through this with found it's simultaneously boring and exciting."
Kevin's eyes narrowed.
"Purely hypothetical make believe, Kevin. Just to show a little of the process. Okay?"
"I can play along," he said.
"Okay. Assume we've agreed to some scene, which is actually the fun part. Now we define our limits. They could be just particular to the scene, or they could be more global and apply to any kink or fetish play," Anna said. She held her breath, wondering what rabbit hole she was about to plummet into.
"There was a lot made of limits and consensuality in the articles that weren't utterly absurd. But they also assumed a very broad scope of behavior," he said. His expression had changed from doubtful to a more familiar absorbed contemplative look Anna recognized from work. Inwardly, she cheered him on, excited by his acceptance of the premise she had offered, a game with limits.
"I think it would be easier to state what is allowed, rather than what is forbidden," Kevin said.
"Okay. What is allowed?" she asked,
Kevin's face shifted to a look of total concentration. "You may touch me," he said, "with your hand." He put his right hand on his left bicep in a chopping motion. "From here down my arm. And here," he said, running his fingers over his scalp to the back of his neck.
Anna nodded, trying to keep her feelings off her face. Her heart ached at his response.
"What about maybe my lips in addition to my hands?" she asked.
Kevin immediately frowned, but then his face brightened. "Ah! That's an example of pushing at a limit? There were several references to that idea, as though there is some arbitrary amount of flex in a limit."
"You don't think a limit can change with time, Kevin?" Anna asked. She continued before he could answer. "If we repeated this exercise after having a year to get used to each other, I know my limits would shift."
Instead of answering, Kevin yawned. "I'm sorry. I need to show you something important, if you have time. Maybe 30 to 60 minutes? Also, before you agree, I'll need you to do exactly as I tell you."
Anna arched an eyebrow. "Is this a negotiation and limit discussion, Kevin?"
"In a way. It's for your safety." He stared at the floor. "I don't mean to be dramatic. I just think this is easier shown than explained. It's nothing intimate. Well, it is in a way because I don't share anything, and I'm talking too much again aren't I?"
Anna smiled. "That's the most words I think you've ever said to me in one gush. I'll do whatever you need me to do, Kevin. I trust you."
He looked down. "Take off your sandals and put them by the door. They're too noisy." While she did as asked, he turned on the TV and DVD player and moved them to face the chair.
"Sit down on the sofa." She did, watching as he positioned a footrest in front of the chair.
"Now get up." She did, without comment. "No. That's too noisy too." He put two cushions on the floor. "Try those."
After she sat down and situated herself, he looked down and laughed. "I'm sorry. This is like some Simon says exercise class, isn't it? And now get up again."
This movement he pronounced quiet enough. He looked from the cushions to the door, then went out through the double doors to the little second floor porch.
He came back holding a long tan stalk of grass.
"Lemongrass," he said. "I'm going to sit down right there and fall asleep watching a movie. Thirty minutes after I'm asleep, you're going to wake me up by touching whichever arm is closer to you with that bit of lemongrass."
"And you're going to scream and chase me out the door? I already know how hyper-vigilant you are, Kevin."
"No. No you don't." He looked up at her. "Stand up before you touch me, and stay at least three feet away. If you do that, you'll be fine. Okay?"
His face emanated complete misery. "Or, you can just go now. I wouldn't blame you."
"I've got this. Take your nap, Kevin."
An hour later Anna clung to the railing outside Kevin's front door, barefoot and struggling not to vomit. He stood well to the side, shaking.
"Kevin, I know what I said, but what the hell happened to you?"
He shook his head. "I'm sorry, but you had to see. I would never deliberately hurt you, but you had to know." He set his lips in a line and stepped toward her.
Anna stood motionless, holding her breath, watching his face as he approached. The face that had twisted into a feral snarl of murderous malice a few minutes ago, when he had awakened instantly and lunged at the plant stalk and the hand holding it. He stopped with two feet of space between them.
"I've seen that look before. The therapists, when I was in college, told me to focus on having a normal life, normal relationships. I'm no virgin, Anna. I've tried. One of my ex-girlfriends made a video so I could see. That's the life I have to offer..." His mouth kept working, but the words stopped.
"So you've been kissed before?"
Kevin looked up, clearly confused.
"Give me your hand," she said, putting just a tiny bit of command into her words. Kevin didn't move, so she reached down. "Is it still within your limits?"
"Anna, you don't want-"
She laughed, and the sound banished much of the emotional darkness that had settled over them.
"Don't tell me what I want. I can make up my own mind about that."
She took his hand in hers and drew it up to her heart, and then, carefully watching his face, she raised it to her lips and gently kissed the hand that had been so close to harming her just minutes ago.
After placing one kiss on his fingers, she tugged him along as she walked back into his apartment.
"Get some sleep, Kevin. No reading the internet about me. Anything you want to know, just ask. We both have a lot to think about. I'd love to have dinner with you tomorrow. Can I call you around 4:00?"
He just nodded.
"See you soon."
Chapter 10 Now - A Brief Misunderstanding
Anna drove home first, but Kevin wasn't there. Six months ago they had swapped keys instead of moving in together. That had been six months after they had worked out how to share space and do things like wake up together without provoking what they both now called the 'demons.' Six months after the first 'I love you' had been uttered.
She checked the kitchen table. Kevin left a note if he visited the house while she wasn't there. No note. She checked her room, half expecting his small collection of things to be gone.
"I can drive around all night, or I can do what I should have done at the club," she said to the empty room. She pulled out her phone and texted him.
"I'm at Shakie's, the one by the interstate. Do you want to come by?" Kevin texted back with little delay.
Anna read the message several times. She noted that he didn't ask if she was still at the scene party, and he didn't ask if she wanted to meet somewhere else, or if she wanted him to come over to her place. Then she wondered why she was reading so much into two sentences.
"Be right over," she messaged back. She exchanged her tank top and boots for a t-shirt and sneakers and got back in her car.
Kevin met her in the parking lot with a kiss and walked back into the diner with her.
"Hungry?" he asked.
"Actually, yeah. I am," Anna said. She halfway expected an observation from Kevin about needing to eat after her exercise, but she was also not surprised when he didn't mention it at all.
They walked to the table he had already claimed, which had the remnants of a meal and a tall glass of chocolate shake, still frosty. A book on the history of flight was held open by a folded newspaper.
The place was fairly busy, but the waitress was right over to take their order and promised their food would arrive shortly.
"What's on your mind?" Kevin asked. Anna had taught him the usefulness of that question to start conversations.
After two years with Kevin, Anna knew to get right to the point. "Rachel tells me you stopped by tonight. I thought I saw you, but you were in disguise. Then you were gone before I could see for sure."
"You were already on stage when I got there, and I didn't want to disturb your flow. You looked really nice, especially that red top," Kevin said. Anna filed that detail away for future use. Before she could speak, Kevin continued.
"I couldn't stay with your friend. She was too agitated. And there were so many people around, and the noise-"
"And your girlfriend was thrashing some strange man's ass?"
Kevin shrugged. "It's not like I didn't know the elements of a 'scene party' as you have described it. I moved to a corner that still allowed me to observe. I stayed until your demonstration was over."
"My demonstration?" Anna asked, voice cracking as she spoke.
Kevin blew a breath out through his mouth, a rare signal of frustration. "I don't really know what else to call it, Anna." His voice dropped to a whisper, in consideration of her and the other diners. "You bound your friend very tightly and beat his ass and legs until they glowed. And that was after a brief impromptu experiment with four truly complete strangers."
His face contorted for a moment, an expression of anguish that she had seen two or three times before. Anna's heart thudded as her cheeseburger threatened to come back up.
"And now? I can never give you those things, Anna. I know this down to the bone. As much as I love you, as much as I want this to work. There's not enough therapy in the world...
"I'm sorry, Anna. I can never be a part of that side of you."
"So this is it? In an all night burger joint?" she asked.
Kevin shrugged. "I guess. I would understand if it was."
"You would understand?" Anna hissed. Her memory flashed back to the night he walked out on her dinner.
"Wait a second. You're not dumping me."
"Of course not. But I didn't think you would want..." he started.
"You didn't think, you... you... I don't know what you are. No, don't say a word. I'm not dumping you either. Not over this. Do you mind if I go to the odd party or run off with Natalie once in a while to be my domme self?"
"You know I don't, but..."
"And you don't mind if I occasionally tease you about being my pet or paddling your sexy ass?"
"Well, mostly not," he grabbed her hands as she started to speak again. "Let me finish. Are you telling me you don't resent me, even just a little, for my... issues? That you won't start hating me as the years go by, blaming me for cutting off this vital part of you?"
"Resent? I don't know. If you mean do I wish you were perfect instead of almost perfect? Sure, I'm guilty. But you've gone out of your way to leave avenues for that part of me to come out. But hate you? Not happening."
Anna suddenly realized what Kevin had just said about years going by. As fast as her heart had plunged earlier, it now soared.
"And never is a very long time, Kevin. Who knows? In twenty or thirty years you might let me spank you!" Anna laughed at the image. Her laughter died at the solemn look on Kevin's face.
"Geez, Kevin. It was just a joke,"
"I never thought I would say this." With a flourish of his hand, he produced a black velvet box seemingly from thin air. "Anna Carson, will you marry me?"
Anna sat, stunned.
"I would take a knee, but then I'd be out there at the end of the booth," he said.
Anna folded his hand between both of hers and slowly leaned across the table. Right before she kissed him full on the lips, she whispered, "Of course I'll marry you, Kevin."
Chapter 11 Later - Beings of Legend
"What's your word, Kevin?" Anna asked from the bathroom where she checked her make up and hair one more time.
"Stop. Also no, quit, cease, unh-uh, and negatory Ghost Rider," Kevin answered from the bed, where he reclined naked and waiting.
"Demons?" she said as she walked out. She was dressed in red. A red camisole hung from her shoulders, dropping just far enough to cover the fact that she wore no panties. Red stay up stockings covered her legs. A red scarf held her hair in a long ponytail, though she didn't plan to keep that for long. Her black wedge heel ankle boots were the only break in the red color scheme. From his position, she knew he couldn't see them yet, but she already knew he liked them.
He watched her approach, eyes wider than she had ever seen.
"The doors are locked and the windows are closed. The room is locked and the security system is armed."
This was literally true. Their house was buttoned up as tight as they could make it, but Anna wondered if he also meant the inside of his head was secured as well. She had never learned who or what had hurt him in those long gone days, and she no longer wasted time worrying about it. They belonged to each other now.
"Three second rule?" she asked.
"Three second rule in effect."
"Are you absoposilutely sure you want to do this? Because I'm still good with letting you have your way with me until the sun comes up."
"Are you sure?" he asked instead of answering.
"Yes. I think we'll have fun." She climbed into bed, and caught his eyes wandering over her body.
"Judging from this," she brushed his hard cock with the back of one hand, "you approve of my look tonight. I do have one little request. It's just a small thing," she said with a dramatic pause, enjoying her role.
"What might that be?" he asked. The quaver in his voice is probably real, she thought.
"The ingredients and techniques that went into making your restraints must be protected. I ask that I be allowed to cover your eyes with this translucent scarf. " She pulled the red scarf from her hair, letting the dark brown locks fall. She knew he liked her long hair too. "Your vision will only be partially obscured, not entirely blocked, and only long enough for me to fully restrain you."
"Yes. You may push that one boundary, Anna," he answered.
Anna simply dropped the scarf on his face, covering his eyes. She waved at him from her position over him and he waggled the fingers of one hand in return. Anna hopped off the bed, carefully, and opened a drawer in her vanity. She pulled three bags from the drawer and placed them on the bed.
From one bag, Anna drew a set of four unfinished leather cuffs. The basic cuff, two layers stitched together, edges rolled for comfort, was easily recognizable. But aside from the single D-ring in the middle, and the two garment snap fasteners near each end of the cuff, there were no other fittings, no buckles, no straps, no locks, no way to close the cuff and fasten it.
Anna had commissioned them from a friend, and even with a friend discount, the careful attention to every detail had set her back a little bit.
She placed two cuffs at the foot of the bed and the other two at the head of the bed. From the second bag, she drew a long piece of black chain, dropping it at the foot of the bed. From the rattling, clattering sound it made, it was clear the black links were forged from plastic, not steel.
Anna waited a moment to let Kevin absorb the sounds of the chain, then she opened the final bag. A ball of black yarn was removed and deftly tossed to the join the chain. As Anna drew out her final treasures, Kevin squirmed slightly and tried hard to see through the red mist before his eyes.
Four rectangles of black silk emerged from the bag. Anna walked around the bed placing one each at Kevin's ankles and wrists.
"Now, we must get you into position," she said ominously. "Are you still alright, dearheart?"
"I am fine, my love," Kevin answered quickly and clearly.
She climbed back onto the bed and straddled his chest, making sure her calves and thighs touched and rubbed his flesh as she leaned forward to position his arms.
"Hmm. You are too long. Now I have to move your legs." Her body slid along his as she slowly worked her way to the foot of the bed, touching every square inch of exposed skin along the way. Kevin had become accustomed to Anna's touch, and now welcomed every opportunity to feel her against him.
"Goodness," Anna purred. "I think you like my touch as much as I like yours," she said, letting one finger trace its way from his thigh to his knee while her eyes focused on his straining erection.
"You know I do," Kevin replied through gritted teeth.
Anna decided against teasing him further and slid off the end of the bed. She gripped his ankles and pulled. Without being asked, he responded to her pull by scooting his body down toward her.
"There we go. Nice and stretched out. Look at those beautiful muscles, all taut and straining for me, awaiting my pleasure," she said.
Kevin was taut, partly because he had stretched in response to her words, and partly because his whole body surged with the suppressed energy of his instincts to fight or flee.
His leg twitched as Anna's fingers encircled his right ankle.
"Easy, Kevin," she said, pausing for a half-expected safe word. His breathing evened out and a little tension left his body.
She wrapped the cuff around his ankle and held it in place with one hand while her other hand unwrapped the black silk to reveal a three layer strip of construction paper with four snap fasteners glued to it. She snapped the paper to the cuff, completing the circle.
With slow and deliberate movements, she performed the same steps on Kevin's left ankle. After snipping two pieces of the yarn from the ball, she wrapped the chain around the baseboard of the bed with considerable and intentional racket. Each end of the chain was tied to an ankle cuff D-ring with a piece of yarn.
Anna moved around the bed to Kevin's outstretched left arm, carrying two more strands of yarn with her.
"If I know you, and I think I do, you're probably wondering what's going on," she said. His red veiled face turned to her, expectation visible even through the fabric covering it.
"In all the great legends, whenever someone has to bind a dangerous creature, or contain some extraordinary being, they couldn't use ordinary ropes or chains and such. No. They had to build their restraints from scratch and include rare and difficult ingredients in them. Things like unicorn hair or a dragon scale, and a baby's laugh or a mother's love.
"That's what I have done here," she said. She unwrapped the object by his left hand. Kevin struggled in vain to turn his head far enough to see it.
"These cuffs are an incomplete circle by themselves, though very powerful. They are crafted by a most exotic temptress, completed by the light of a full moon and washed in tears of joy."
Kevin squirmed again.
"Don't worry, my pet. I will let you see them soon. If you look before we are ready, the magic might be ruined."
Anna snapped the construction paper closure to the cuff. The paper was layered blue, red, blue, and the visible layers were covered in writing and drawings in various colors of ink. "And now the circle is closed by a seal of subtle yet profound power, scribed with symbols of love, of trust, of endurance, and of the blessings of God and man alike."
"And finally, the link that connects such a creature as yourself to this place, so soft and fragile in comparison. What else could imbue this bit of black wool," she held up the yarn, "with the strength required? The word of the one it holds, his promise. The love of the one who fastens it." She tied the yarn to the D-ring and to the corner post of the bed. "Years of laughter and a few tears. A touch of hope for days to come."
She crawled over him to reach his other arm, sliding off the bed and silently repeating the process of cuffing his wrist and attaching the yarn, until she held the end of the string that would join the cuff to the bed.
"You have words of power yourself, Kevin. And you could have shattered these bonds at any time. But I have not asked for a word of assent."
She paused, gauging her husband's mental state and feeling a moment of uncertainty. She reached down with her free hand and tossed the red scarf aside.
"Do you, Kevin, accept me, and give me your word of assent to tie the final bond?"
Kevin's whole body shook and vibrated with tension. Anna stood her ground, unwilling to give up or to move too soon to finish.
"Yes, Anna, my beloved, cherished, and trusted wife. I accept you, now and forever, and accede to the final bond."
They both held their breath without realizing it. And neither of them noticed how time slowed to a crawl as Anna bent to loop the yarn around the bed post and knotted it.
She stood up, and they both inhaled. Their gazes locked to each other as she climbed once more onto their bed. Anna straddled Kevin's hips, feeling the heat of him against her. Slowly, she settled herself onto him, accepting him within herself.
When she had reached the limit of her descent, she smiled down at Kevin.
"I love you."
"I love you too," he answered.
"Then hold on tight, babe. We're going wild tonight!"