Caution: This Romantic Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa, Consensual, Romantic, Heterosexual, BDSM, School,
Desc: Romantic Sex Story: Chapter 1 - He was a former Marine with a past that caused him trouble. She also had a past that troubled her. Together they healed each other. NOT a stroke story although there's a little mild sexual content.
At other times of the year the campus was green and pretty. Now, though, on this leaden-gray early December day, it could only be called bleak and barren. A cold wind carried flakes of snow, cutting harshly through the clothes of those that hurried between the buildings. A heavily starched camouflage utility jacket really wasn't enough protection from the elements, but the man wearing it took little notice of the mild discomfort. On the collar of the jacket was a tiny insignia, the three bars and rocker of a staff sergeant; on the pocket was the stenciled globe and anchor of the US Marine Corps.
Although he'd been attending classes on this campus for over three months now, no one knew the man wearing the BDU jacket and field cover well. He was not a large man, just average sized, supremely fit and not bad looking despite his short-cropped hair, but with a hard-faced presence about him that made him seem larger than he was. He was older than the rest of the freshmen, six years older in years, older yet in demeanor. Unlike every other freshman in the class, there was no lightness of tone in him, no laughing, just strictly business, dead serious about everything. He was unfailingly respectful to his professors and fellow students, but distant. Once a smartass young student just out of high school had tried calling him "Sarge", only to receive a icy glare from him that would have frozen a tropic ocean. "Sergeant" wasn't received much more warmly. "Mr. McCluskey" was safe; even his professors were uncomfortable using his first name, although they knew it from their class records. He was hard, very hard, so hard, one student had commented from well behind his back, that flint could strike sparks off his ass. No one disagreed.
While the other students were scurrying between buildings to escape the bitter wind, running in some cases, Mr. McCluskey wasn't as he carried two text books and a clip board under one arm. He was taking his time, walking stiff and erect, and anyone who saw him would think that he was marching, not just walking. The only sign that he wasn't a textbook Marine sergeant set down out of place on this college campus was that he usually wore blue jeans with his BDU jacket and combat boots. The jeans were, in fact, the one concession he would make, even to himself, that he wasn't a Marine any longer.
He marched around the corner of a building and saw something ahead of him that didn't make sense. At first, he thought it was a bundle of rags, just laying on the sidewalk as other students hurried past bent on getting out of the weather, but as he drew closer he could see that the bundle of rags was moving -- and crying. Just a little incensed at the students that had heartlessly rushed past, McCluskey broke from his steady march and double-timed closer. He could see now that it was a woman, and in sheer hysteria, laying in fetal position on the cold sidewalk, head in her arms, crying her heart out, body wracked with sobs. He could no more have passed her by than the Marines could have stormed Iwo Jima armed with squirt guns; it was a small part of the reason he wasn't a Marine any longer.
Stopping, he knelt down, put his hand on her shoulder, and in a gentle voice, asked, "What's the matter, Miss?"
He could see her raise her head to look at him, felt her grab the hand on her shoulder and hang on for dear life, as the crying continued unbroken. He noted that she was shivering, shaking, possibly from hypothermia; although fully clothed in jeans and a light jacket, she was in no way dressed to be outside for any length of time.
"Miss," he said again, trying to be gentle. "What's the matter?"
"Oh, God," she sobbed, her body wracked again. "I can't go on!"
He'd seen women with their spirits broken before, in Bhagdad and Sadr, and it was clear to him that this was another one. There was no way of telling what her problem was, but at least this time Iraqi terrorists weren't likely to be involved.
"Come on, Miss," he said gently. "Whatever the problem is, we need to get you inside before you freeze to death."
"I don't care if I die," she sobbed. "I can't go on."
The man in the utility jacket shook his head. "Miss, I don't know what the problem is," he said in a considerably harder voice. "But I will not let you freeze to death while I look on. Now, will you get up, or do I have to pick you up?"
"Oh, God!" she contined to bawl, not answering him in the slightest, and he took that as an answer. With some difficulty, he broke his hand free, and reached around her back for her opposite shoulder, mostly to try and roll her a little so he could get a better grip -- but the touch of his hand on her back brought an agonizing scream. "No!" she pleaded. "Don't touch my back! Please! It hurts too much!"
"Your back hurts?" he asked, a little surprised at the response. "Where does it hurt, Miss?" he continued, thinking it might be some sort of spinal injury. If she'd fallen, that was a possibility.
"All over," she said. "Please," she pleaded. "My arms, my armpits, fine, but not my back."
"Very well," he said, beginning to wonder a little what was going on here. "Miss, please put your hands on my shoulders and hang on." It was a little awkward, but he got his hands in her armpits as she held on.
In a moment, she was standing on her feet, tears subsiding a little now, but not much. "T-thank you," she managed among her sobs.
"Miss, can you stand up all right?" he asked, looking her over a little more carefully. He didn't see any obvious marks or bruises from a beating on her face. She probably was a good looking woman, nearly as tall as he, when she was up to it, and not so hysterical. She had long, jet black hair, and it was a mess. "At least for a moment, while I pick up my books?"
"I-I think so," she said.
In a moment, his books were in his left hand. "Reach around me, Miss, use my shoulder for support if you need it," he told her. "I think I can hold onto your other arm without touching your back, if you need it. We're going to take it easy, and just go into that building over there. Is that all right?"
He didn't get much of a response, other than more sobs, but at least she was upright, and he'd have her out of the cold in a minute. That was something.
It went slowly; she obviously was hurting, not walking well. He began to have a sneaking suspicion of what must have happened, although the pieces didn't quite fit. In a minute, they were in the building, and the warmth, and just the being out of the wind, was welcome. As soon as they were inside, she turned to him, wrapped her arms around him, and just cried against his chest. "You're safe now," he said, trying to soothe her. "Just hold on. It'll be all right."
"It can't be all right," she sobbed. "Everything's all fucked up, there's nothing I can do."
"Miss, please," he said. "Try to control yourself." He took a deep breath, and went on. "Miss, were you raped?"
"N-n-n-no," she sobbed. "I almost wish I had been."
"Miss," he said. "I think maybe we'd better call Campus Safety," he said. "They'll get you to someone that can help you."
"No!" she pleaded desperately. "Please, no! They'd call my parents, and... and..."
It really was the best idea, and he knew it, but something deeper was going on, and he could tell that, too. "How about if I help you to your dorm room?" he asked, knowing that it really wasn't a good idea to have her left alone. Maybe she had a roommate, though, or maybe he could talk to the RA, or something.
"No!" she pleaded more vehemently. "They'd... they'd just come for me again, and hurt me more."
"What they?" he said suspiciously. Maybe Campus Safety was a better idea after all, whether she wanted it or not.
"They will," she said hysterically. "God, I can't face that again. Please don't make me go back there! Don't let them hurt me more."
"Miss," he said firmly. "Look at me. Do you know who I am?"
Something in the strength of his words caused her to stop crying for an instant, and look up at him. "You're... you're the one they call 'Hardass'," she said in amazement.
"I hadn't heard that name," he smiled. "But I'll take it as a compliment. Miss, no one on this campus has any idea of just how hard I can be over people hurting women. You are safe with me, and I will not let you get hurt." His voice got very stiff, and he continued, "If 'they' come for you, whoever 'they' are, they will regret it."
It wouldn't be fair to say that statement turned the tears off, but it reduced them markedly. She didn't say anything, but just stared at him, and the hope was evident in her eyes. "Now, Miss," he said. "I really think Campus Safety is the best idea. Failing that, the Student Health Center."
"But... don't leave me," she pleaded.
"On my honor," he said flatly, "I will not leave you until you feel safe."
"But... but... Oh, God, it's not that simple," she said, the tears starting to flow again. "Can't you take me with you? I'd be scared to be here without you."
"Miss, I live off campus, by myself," he said. "Please think about how safe you might feel if you were alone with me in my apartment."
"Please take me with you," she said, the tears rolling again. "I - I'll feel safer with you than I would on campus."
He let out a sigh. It wasn't a good idea. This was clearly a pack of trouble, and there was something much deeper going on than what met the eye. Perhaps if she could get off campus for a few hours, do something about the hypothermia, just pull herself together, she might be better. And, he might get a little closer to the bottom of this. "Miss, it's a walk of several blocks, if you're up to it."
"I... I can make it, if I have to," she said, calming herself.
"Very well," he said, setting his books on the floor and starting to unbutton his utility jacket. "I regret I have nothing warmer for you, but perhaps this will help."
"But... but you don't have to give me the shirt off your back," she said, just a little amazed.
"I can survive," he said. "I have survived worse, and you're the one that's chilled."
It took a while; she was not really capable of walking fast, and he did find it chilly, walking through what was now a lot of blowing snow wearing only his T-shirt with the 'USMC' logo printed on it, but made no mention of it to her.
His apartment proved to be in an apartment building several blocks away, the door was on a balcony up an outside staircase. "I'm afraid it's not much," he said apologetically as he opened the door, "But it's home."
Inside, it proved to be a simple studio apartment, and tiny. It was also quite Spartan, there was little there, no decoration on the walls, and neat as a pin, absolutely ready for inspection. There was a breakfast bar with two stools, plus an armchair and studio couch, folded up, with a rolled sleeping bag sitting on the end. She didn't really get much of a look at it; in spite of wearing his shirt, she was still thoroughly chilled from earlier, and was obviously shivering and chattering, perhaps from fear as much as the cold. "It's good to be here," she said. "I'm c-c-cold."
"No doubt, Miss," he replied, snapping the sleeping bag to unroll it on the couch, and zipping it far down. "I think we must deal with that first. Let me unroll my sleeping bag, and you can curl up in it. Then, I'll get you something warm to drink."
"Th-thank you, sir," she said, obviously shivering. She saw the sleeping bag being held open for her, and she collapsed down into it, face down.
Whatever was wrong with her back, it probably wasn't spinal, he thought, as he wrapped the bag around her, so the obvious hypothermia was higher on the priority list. Even in the sleeping bag, he could see her shivering violently. In only a few seconds, he had hot water running in the kitchen sink, and in a few seconds more, the kitchen's tiny microwave was running. In a few seconds more, he was kneeling beside her, holding a cup to her lips. "Oh, my God, that tastes good," she said, tasting the cocoa. "What did you put in that?"
"A small shot of rum, miss," he said. "Normally, alcohol is not a good idea when dealing with hypothermia, but I felt you needed the relaxing effects. Is that too hot?"
"No, I could stand it hotter," she said. "But right now, it's just fine. That way I don't have to let it cool down."
"Miss, I'll make you some soup shortly," he said. "You'll feel better with something in your belly."
"Thank you sir," she said gratefully. "Sir, you are very kind. It's... uh, not what I would have expected."
"Nothing more than the good manners I was raised with, miss," he smiled.
"It... it just seems so strange. It's not what I would have expected from a man. Especially one they call 'Hardass'."
"Then your expectations are low," he smiled. "Miss, I was raised in a very strict family. I was taught politeness, courtesy, manners, and respect for others from my earliest memory. Even though I was to rebel from my family, much of the teaching rubbed off."
"Rebeled from your family?" she smiled -- the first smile he had seen from her. "I'm sorry, sir, I can't imagine it."
"Oh, it was a quite serious rebellion," he returned the smile. "To the point where we are not on speaking terms today. You see, my family are quite conservative Friends."
"Friends?" she frowned.
"You may be familiar with the term 'Quaker'," he expanded. "Very 'thee' and 'thou' and 'thine', although I've been able to scrub most of that from my vocabulary. They are, of course, quite serious pacifists. They were less than thrilled when I joined the Marine Corps. 'Never dare to darken our doorstep again' was the phrase used."
"God, and I thought I had problems with my family," she sighed, shaking her head. "Are you really a Marine?" she asked. "I mean, uh, the blue jeans, and like that."
"I was a Marine Staff Sergeant until four months ago," he explained. "When my enlistment expired, I felt that I could not re-enlist in good conscience, but to be honest, I find it hard to give up. Besides, I have the clothes, but little money, so I might as well get the wear out of them. I'm really nothing more than a student now."
"What are you studying?" she asked.
"I'm studying to be a paramedic," he said. "It seems like a good field for me. I've had some experience in that area, and some training that allowed me to make the decision. And, Miss, what about you?"
"Business administration and television production, not that this semester has gone very well," she replied, leaning her head back to be able to finish the cup of cocoa. "Sir, may I have some more?"
"Of course, miss," he smiled, taking the cup from her. "I'll be just a minute."
"Thank you, sir," she said. "Sir, I'm sorry, I don't know your name, and it seems like I shouldn't be calling you 'Hardass'."
"I'd prefer you didn't," he smiled as he got up and headed for the tiny kitchen, only a few feet away. "Wade McCluskey at your service, miss. Feel free to call me by my given name. And, I'm sorry to say that I don't know your name."
"Acacia," she said. "Acacia Rose. I guess my parents had just a touch of smart ass when they named me."
"Thorny Rose, indeed," he grinned. "Being my parents' eldest son, I was given my mother's maiden name, as is the family custom. I doubt my parents have ever discovered the significance of that name. If they had, I am sure they would be quite ashamed."
"This sounds like a good one," she smiled.
"I doubt my parents would think so," he laughed. He'd said two or three things in the last few minutes he would not have normally said to a casual stranger, but it seemed to be loosening her up, relaxing her. That was good, because when he got back to her problems, he expected more trouble. With that thought in mind, he decided to tell the story: "There was a man of that name, no relation as far as I know, that commanded Bombing 8 off the Enterprise at the Battle of Midway in World War II, sinking two Japanese aircraft carriers in the morning and a third in the afternoon. I have heard it said that what he did that day may have shortened the war by a year, so I bear the name proudly."
"Yeah," she smiled. "I don't think that would go over too well with your parents."
"Thy surmise is likely correct," he said, using the Quakerism as he handed her another cup of cocoa, this time laced with a considerably stronger shot of rum. "If you don't mind, miss, I admit to being a little chilled myself. If you don't mind, I'll take a moment to get on something warmer."
"Please, go ahead," she replied, sipping at the cocoa. "You look cold yourself."
In a minute, he had on a warm-looking sweat shirt -- with the USMC logo on it, of course -- and, in that minute, she'd pretty well drained the new cup of cocoa. "That tasted wonderful," she said. "I think I'm feeling a little better."
"I'm glad, miss," he said. "Let's talk about your back a minute. It's not your spine that's hurting, I take it?"
"No," she said, cringing now. "My whole back. I think it's pretty bruised."
"If you don't mind miss, perhaps I'd better have a look. I can't do the treatment here they would do at the Student Health Center, but I might be able to get some idea of how serious it is and do something about it."
She looked on the verge of tears again. She frowned, almost crying, and said softly, "Go ahead."
"I'll try to be as gentle as possible," he promised, kneeling down beside her. He folded back the sleeping bag in the small of her back, and lifted the tails of her jacket and shirt. She could feel him stiffen as he saw the sight there. When he spoke again, his voice was filled with a flatness and hardness that made her realize why he was called 'Hardass' behind his back. "What caused this?" he asked with barely restrained anger.
"A whip," she sobbed.
He did not raise his voice a decibel, but sparks could have been struck off his words. "This goes up onto your shoulders, right?" he asked. "How far down?"
"Clear down onto my legs," she whimpered.
"All right, Miss Rose," he said, laying the sleeping bag down gently and getting up, heading for the phone.
"Wade!" she cried. "What are you doing?"
"Calling the police and EMS" he said. "I don't know how you could even walk in that condition."
"Wade! Please! Not the police!" she whimpered.
"And why not?" he said flatly. "Miss Rose, I killed the last man I found that treated a woman like that."
"Killed?" she cringed.
"An Iraqi Shiite," he said. "He was beating a Sunni woman with barbed wire. I'm sorry I shot him. I would have preferred a much slower and painful death, but at least I put him in Hell where he belongs."
"Wade! Please! No!" she sobbed. "This is different. Put the phone down and let me explain."
"How could anyone possibly explain treatment like that?" he asked. Still his voice didn't rise, but he made no attempt to cover up the restrained anger.
"Wade, sit down," she said, panting. "Let me explain. I... I can't explain it very well when you're acting like you're ready to shoot somebody."
"Very well, Miss Rose," he said, hardly less angry, setting the phone down, and heading over to the living room chair. "Please explain."
"Wade," she said. "Do you know what a masochist is?"
"Miss Rose?" he said, incredulous.
"It got a little out of hand," she said, shaking her head. "No, it got way out of hand, and it's been out of hand. Oh, God," she said, putting her face down into the sleeping bag and letting the tears roll. "I don't know how to handle it any more, I don't dare tell my parents. They'd... they'd be as ashamed of me as yours are."
"Miss Rose," he said. "I do know what a masochist is. In fact, I have met one or two from time to time. But your back is appallingly far beyond any reasonable limits. I find it difficult to believe that you would seek such treatment, or that anyone would be so low as to give it to you."
"I wasn't looking for this," she whimpered. "Please, Wade, please understand. It's not simple, but I brought it on myself. I'm to blame."
"Miss Rose, you are not the first battered woman to insist that you are responsible for her battering," he said flatly, getting up and heading for the phone. "You could not have done that to yourself. It took others."
"Of course it did," she admitted. "But I wanted it. I mean, I did once. Wade, please. Let me explain. Don't call the police, they'll only call my parents."
"All right, Miss Rose," he said. "I'll hold the call to the police in abeyance for the moment, but you're going to have to explain." He let out a sigh, and his voice softened considerably. "If you would like, while you're telling me, perhaps I should inspect your back more closely. You have a number of serious abrasions there, several lacerations, and I did not inspect it thoroughly. I can treat some of them, and perhaps I can give you something for the pain."
"Thank you, sir," she said in relief, shaking her head.
He headed for the bathroom, and returned with a handful of medical supplies -- alcohol, sterile wipes, topical antibiotic, a couple bottles of pills. He grabbed a small glass of water, then set it before her, with a couple of pills, then knelt down beside the sofa. "All right, Miss Rose," he said. "You say you're a masochist, and you would have to be to allow someone to put your back in this condition."
"Actually, sir," she said. "More than just a masochist. I'm what's known as a submissive. The masochism is just a part of it. I - I don't know where to begin."
"I have found, Miss Rose, that it helps to begin at the beginning," he said, lifting the sleeping bag so he could treat her battered back. "How in the world did you become a masochist, or submissive, or whatever it is?"
"I don't know," she sighed, then flinched as he touched an especially sore spot. "I don't think it's a case of 'become'. I think it's more 'discover'."
It took hours for the whole story to spill out, sometimes calmly, sometimes in a flood of tears. While it spilled out, she drank more soup, more cocoa, as Wade continued to bring it to her. From an early age, as early as she could remember, Acacia had been fascinated with being tied up, locked up, whatever. It seemed the most exciting thing she could imagine. At a relatively early age, she'd associated bondage with sex; perhaps, to be fair, it was the other way around -- sex was a good reason to get tied up, chained up, or whatever, an epiphany that hadn't come to the rest of them until they were much older.
Acacia wasn't clear where those desires had come from. Once, she told Wade, she'd been poking around in the attic on a rainy day, looking for something to do, and had come across a couple of elaborately hidden bondage magazines in a box of something that was clearly her father's stuff. She was well down the road by then, though; they did excite her, but more to confirm that there was more and better stuff like she was looking for out there than she'd ever dreamed.
Acacia had come from a fairly liberal family. A loving family, to be sure, but one that was rather lax with their kids, allowing them plenty of room to grow, and little discipline. Much of that came from her mother, a textbook 'liberated' woman that believed that any woman was the equal of any man in any way, if not his superior, an attitude she did her best to pass on to her daughters. While Acacia strongly suspected that her father might have a mild bondage fetish, witnessed by the magazines and by the odd comment from time to time, she was dead sure her mother had no intention of submitting to any man in any way, her husband or not, in any form, for whatever reason.
But, well before she was out of high school, Acacia had a list of things she was looking for in a college. Her parents were satisfied with that list, indeed, had helped her put it together, but they were never told of what was at the head of the list, although totally unwritten: an active BDSM culture, either on campus, or close by.
"I had no idea there was anything like that around here," Wade commented, still working on her back. "I mean, I'm not surprised, but I didn't know anything about it."
"It's not something that's well known," Acacia told him. "I had a dickens of a time finding it out myself. My folks let me make a second campus visit down here by myself. There's a couple of adult stores, and I went in and checked out the bulletin boards, asked around, talked to some people. There are several groups, it turns out, not real large, and people know each other pretty good. Once I cracked the door open, I found out what I wanted to know." She sighed. "There may have been something like that at some of the other colleges I looked at, but I couldn't crack the door open. So, I decided to come here."
Within days after her parents headed for home after dropping her off at college, Acacia had made contact with a fairly organized local group, and she celebrated her first week at college by being chained to a St. George's cross in a semi-private "play party", and receiving a relatively gentle whipping. Her response was an eager, "That was fun, but can you do it harder next time?"
"Not all it was whipped up to be?" he asked, trying to crack a little joke in the midst of this appalling story.
"Well, yes and no," she told him. "I mean, I was real nervous the first time. I didn't know what it was going to be like. I mean, I was just going to check it out, not do it at all, but the next thing I knew, there I was." She let out a sigh. "Yeah, I knew it could have been better. It wasn't all I'd been expecting."
The next time it was harder, but even better. Although much of her action was in semi-private "play parties", she fairly quickly gained a reputation as "Supersub", a serious pain slut that could take a licking and keep on ticking -- but she also gained an interest in some of the more formal forms of submission, real obedience to a master that went far beyond being bound, gagged, beaten, or whatever. By the time she reached the end of her first semester, she'd gladly come under the influence of a somewhat older master, a man she knew only as Sir Klingon, who was glad to teach her some of the formalities, some of the particular mindset of a person that wanted to give her life to submission to a master.
"I really don't know where that came from," she told Wade. "You were talking about your rebellion with your folks. Maybe that was mine, at least, the way I rebelled from my mother. But, it doesn't matter. I mean, everything I learned made sense to me. That was what I wanted to do, serve a master."
"Do you still feel that way?" Wade asked.
"Yes," she admitted. "I mean, even with what happened today, I still feel I need to serve a master. Not just any master, I realize now. Just the right one."
"Not one that beats your back like this for the fun of it," Wade commented.
"Yeah, I guess," she said ruefully. "I mean, the right master, well, if that's what it takes to serve him, I guess. I mean, I was taught at the Institute that I'm supposed to serve my master's pleasure. I really believe that, Wade. God, they got so much right at the Institute, so much made sense."
"Institute?" Wade frowned. "What's this?"
"A special school," Acacia explained. "It's out east someplace, Connecticut, I think, but I never knew for sure. We were picked up at the airport, and taken there in a closed van."
"How did this come about?" Wade asked.
"Sir Klingon," she explained. "He was so impressed by my desire to serve that he offered to send me to the Institute. It's sort of a finishing school for subs. It cost him several thousand bucks, I guess. I took him up on it, and I'm glad I did. God, I learned so much there."
"Miss Rose, I'm getting to the point where I'm going to have to pull your pants down to work on your buttocks," he said. "Do you mind?"
"Oh, no sir," she said, loosening her pants and scruncing around to pull down her pants, giving Wade a view of a bruised and lacerated bare bottom. "My back feels better already. Thank you for doing what you're doing."
"What did they do there?" Wade asked, shaking his head.
Acacia began to tell him, and the more he heard, the more appalled he was. Wade had been through Marine boot camp at Parris Island; it was and is a hell hole that a man can be proud to have survived with honor. As Wade heard the story, his conclusion was that the "finishing school" had been sort of like Parris Island with manners instead of rifles, and considerably more brutal.
The school was located in a large house on the outskirts of some city -- Acacia was not allowed to know the exact location, and was even unsure of the state. It took virtually the full four months of her summer break -- she presented it to her parents as an unpaid internship, which it was, but in a considerably different subject manner than she'd told them. Eight girls started the summer session with her. Six broke badly, just couldn't hack it, and begged to leave; since it was obviously not a true vocation, they were allowed, although, of course, there were no refunds. The other girl and Acacia ate it up. Basically, it really was was a finishing school, in which the girls were taught their manners -- but in a specific way, in the art of serving a master; in a sense, they were being taught to be very well-polished slaves. The most minor transgressions were punished with savage beatings, being chained or tied uncomfortably and painfully, and even worse horrors; words of kindness were few. For all that, the school was honorable, at least in its own way; the girls were in no way sexually assaulted, or even touched. A little to Acacia's surprise, in fact, the school was entirely run by women; the girls did not see a man for most of those four months -- and the women were all submissives themselves, that had been through the school, and considerably more advanced if more mysterious ones, as well. At the end of the summer, Acacia dreamed of attending the more advanced schools. She'd found her calling, and was as happy as she could be.
Pride was something that she'd been carefully taught was not allowed, but still, she couldn't hide it all, for she knew she'd done well in a very tough school. A little to his amazement, Wade could almost understand. He'd survived Parris Island, had done well there. It was something to be proud of. A very different thing, but...
"Then everything fell apart," she said sadly. "I got back here, expecting Sir Klingon to be waiting, so he could be my master. But I got back here, and he wasn't around, and no one seemed to know what happened to him. It was like he'd vanished one day."
Privately, Wade thought it likely that he might have vanished while wearing cement overshoes after a father of some girl like Acacia got hold of him. If that was the case, well and good. But, by now, he'd learned enough about Acacia to keep a thought like that to himself. What in the name of God would possess a woman... "So, what happened?" he asked.
"I didn't know what to do," she said. "I mean, I came back from the Institute, just all excited about the chance to serve my master. I... I don't know how to describe it, Wade. It seems like such a noble thing, such a right thing, to serve my master. I mean, it wasn't just that I wanted to serve my master. I needed to. But I had no master to serve. The group here is small, Wade. There aren't many unattached masters around. My roommate tried to help. She's a lesbian, and a domme, and well, it helped some, but it wasn't the same thing. I mean, she's not a man, and while she's a domme, she didn't seem like the master I was prepared to serve. But, she knew this guy, Sir Phillip, and he proved to be a bastard. But... but... but at least he was a bastard that could treat me a little like I wanted to be treated. He just overdid it. A, uh, a couple of people I knew in the first group I'd been with said to stay away from him, but Wade, I had to have something. He and a couple of his friends, Sir Lawrence and Sir Charles... Wade, I could serve a man like Sir Klingon gladly, but all these guys did was use me. I mean, they came up with stuff that even I think is sick."
"They were the ones that beat you up this morning?" he asked.
"No," she said, now in serious tears again and she relived the experience. "Just Sir Phillip. He came for me this morning, and my roommate told me to go with him. So I went, and God, he just kept hitting me and hitting me and hitting me..."
"Miss Rose," he said sharply. "You're all right now. You're with me."
"He just kept hitting me and hitting me," she continued, barely hearing him. "I was chained up, I couldn't do anything about it. I finally came to, I was back in my room in the dorm, I don't know how I got there. I mean, I knew I couldn't stay there. I can't take it any more, Wade," she said. "I still want to serve a master, but I want to serve him properly, the way I was taught, not just be something for somebody to whip. But, my God, I can't go back to my dorm room, or Melissa will just turn me over to him again. I can't go home and admit what I've become, and I can't even lie about it, with the whip marks on my back. And if I don't, let it go on, Melissa will call my folks and tell them anyway. I don't see any way out," she whimpered. "Maybe I should just kill myself."
Wade thought a word that he would not allow himself to use with a woman present -- even with the hell this woman had been through. Especially not this woman. What a mess this girl had made of her life!
She was now bawling nearly as bad as she had been when he found her on the sidewalk this morning. What a pack of trouble, he thought. But, he knew, as he had known then, that there was no way he could turn his back on her, not whan she was in this state, anyway. But, she was a hurting woman, physically, spiritually, emotionally, and if Acacia had an insatiable need to submit, he felt like he had an insatiable need to care for her.
"Acacia," he said slowly, his hand on his shoulder. "I told you that if they come for you, they will regret it. I will not let them hurt you," he said flatly.
"But... but what am I going to do?" she sobbed.
"I don't know," he said. "I think the best thing you can do right now is to not worry about it. Let's get you healing some, first. Once we do that, we can confront the other issues. But," he said as he stood up. "Them coming for you is not an issue. Now, let me think about this a bit. You just lie there, and try to sleep a little if you can. It'll help you."
"But... where are you going?"
"Nowhere," he promised. "I just need to get some things from the closet, and I'll be sitting right next to you."
He was back in a minute; he sat down on the floor next to her, his back up against the couch. She had to scrunch around a little to see what he was doing, and was just a little shocked to see a large knife in one hand; he was working on it with a whetstone.
"What... what are you doing?" she said.
"Thinking," he said. "Just thinking."
"With a knife like that?"
"It's a combat knife," he replied seriously. "Marines call it a K-Bar. Miss Rose, I smoke a cigarette once in a while, but I will not do so with a lady present. This is just something that I do to help me think."
"Sharpening a knife?" she said.
"A knife can never be too sharp," he replied enigmatically. "I doubt this Phillip creature knows where you are, but if he comes here for you, he will regret it."
"Wade, I hate him with all my soul," she said. "But I don't want you killing anyone for me."
"Miss Rose," he said quietly. "Do you remember me telling you about that Shiite?"
"Yeah... " she said thoughtfully.
"I learned one thing from that," he said. "Sometimes just killing isn't the right answer. Now, you relax. Get some sleep. I'll give you a pill if you need it. But you may be confident that you will sleep safely."