Caution: This Romantic Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa, Consensual, Romantic, Reluctant, DomSub, .
Desc: Romantic Sex Story: Chapter 1 - How does a nice, pro-feminist male deal with a woman who *wants* to be abused?
I'd got caught up in some work stuff, finishing off a report or something, so I only got to the Ferryboat just before closing. As usual, the place wasn't busy but even the lack of customers couldn't account for Gregor the landlord's downcast expression. Hell, he wasn't exactly a ray of sunshine most days, but even by his standards he was looking a bit depressed. So I asked him what was up as he was pulling me a pint.
"Funeral," he said, bluntly. I commiserated politely, wondering whether he was the bereaved party - or whether someone had just cancelled a post-internment bash in the pub. You never could tell with Greg.
"Ancient aunt," he explained, eventually, wiping a greasy cloth around a glass or two. "Hardly knew the old biddy, myself, but the family has decided that I will represent it at the ceremony." I muttered something non-committal ... even given mine host's general outlook on the world, this did not seem to be a huge imposition. I waited again.
"Problem is, the thing's in Norway, the far north thereof, take me near a fortnight to get there and back." he muttered. "And this place ... hardly a bloody gold mine, is it? And now I'm going to have to pay for cover for a couple of weeks." This was a surprise, I thought - he had a pretty much permanent bar manager in Fiona and while she might not be the sharpest knife in the block she could surely run the place for a fortnight. I said as much. Well, almost. Fi was at the till just behind him and even I can be discrete.
"Nah." he said, "The daft bessom never got her personal license. Don't suppose that even she'd be able to do that much damage, but legally its a non starter. So muggins here gets to pay for some chinless wonder to come in and scare off the few remaining customers. Or maybe I should just accept the inevitable and close the place for good. I mean, its losing money hand over fist even now..."
This last got La Fiona's attention ... and mine, too - however bad things got you never heard Greg talk about giving up. And, face it, she wasn't exactly going to walk into another job around here. So I decided that drastic action was required. I confessed that I, myself, did, in fact, possess the relevant documentation. Which, of course, neither of them believed, at first, but which was true: I'd worked for a while at the Atholl when things were really bad in the freelance world, had had to get official so I could cover for the lazy bastard landlord while he spent his days in the bookies next door.
For a second, Gregor almost smiled, Fiona seemed actually pleased. I wondered what the hell I'd just let myself in for.
A couple of days later, I thought I was a bit clearer on that point. Greg had buggered off to the aunt's introduction to daisy pushing and I was staying in his flat above the pub, which was a bit more convenient than my own place, given the ridiculously extended opening hours of the establishment. Not that I was actually doing all that many hours, myself - Fiona was doing most in the evenings and we had a couple of local girls come in and get bored during the afternoons, so I was mainly left to open up, close up and cash up - on the days we took enough money to bother, that is. I wondered how Gregor had managed to keep the place ticking over for so long, wondered why the other hostelries in town seemed to be doing so much better - well, aside from the fact that a couple did big screen sports, one had the occasional stripper - which went down well with the kirk, let me tell you - oh, and all of them felt a little less like a morgue. It wasn't my problem, of course, but I liked the place, liked Greg as far as anyone could, I guess, and, hell, I was used to drinking there. So I wanted to help, tried to think of ways of improving the situation. Then, in desperation, I decided to talk to Fiona, see if she had any ideas. I mean, she couldn't possibly be as thick as she looked, could she?
Well, maybe. Actually, she looked like the proverbial rabbit in the headlights when she realised someone was asking her opinion - or maybe that someone was talking to her about something else than another half of lager or a wee dram. So I didn't get anything really useful from her but asked her - no, told her to give it some thought.
And then, typically, thought no more of it myself. Bloody men, eh?
A couple of days later I was up early and in the bar, trying to scrape some of the nicotine off the walls in a probably futile effort to clean the place up a bit, when Fiona herself came in a good two hours before her shift. I was surprised to see her, for sure, but not half as surprised as she seemed to be to meet me. She looked startled, in fact, and embarrassed as she very obviously tried to hide a couple of bags she was carrying behind her frankly scrawny frame. I decided to ignore the last part - they probably contained home brew or some other illicit bar supplies, I thought, and just at that point I really didn't want to know about that sort of thing. So I ignored the pathetic attempt at a cover up, greeted her amicably enough - not commenting on the early arrival, either - and offered her a coffee. Which she accepted, coming upstairs with me where I kept a supply of halfway drinkable stuff rather than the rat poison Greg provided for the bar staff. Once in the flat she looked around in some confusion - she'd obviously never been up there before, despite having worked for Gregor for years - and eventually managed to sit in one of the arm chairs, none too subtly attempting to hide the aforementioned bags behind it before doing so.
Even after she was sitting and had taken a coffee from me, though, she didn't seem to relax at all. In fact, she sat right on the edge of her chair, continued to look like a frightened budgie - not a bad metaphor, to be honest, given the shape of her nose, the panicy fluttering of her eyes - and generally didn't seem to be getting on too well with the idea of a social chat with her (temporary) boss. So I tried to put her at her ease, which was a little difficult, given that I was hardly the world's greatest expert in genteel conversation at the best of times and she was giving these really strong 'I want to be anywhere else but here' signals. So eventually I just cut to the chase, asked her what was wrong, what brought her into work so early ... and what was in those bloody bags.
I thought she was going to run away, quite literally, at her shoulders hunched even more and she cast a longing glance at the door down to the bar. But then she got herself together and sat a little more calmly for a second, looking directly at the floor rather than at me.
In a very quiet sort of whisper, she said, "I've been thinking. About the pub, about how we might expand the trade a little..."
And then she tailed off, sat staring at the floor again. Well, I thought, this was a surprise - I mean, I'd got about as far as wondering whether demolishing the place and starting again from scratch might not be the best bet, but apparently Fi had come up with something more constructive. Or might have done, anyway - she sure as hell didn't seem to be in any hurry to share the idea. I could have got exasperated, OK, I did get exasperated, but I decided to play it for laughs for the moment.
"So," I said, "are you going to tell me what you've been thinking or do I have to beat it out of you?"
She looked startled, again, at that, giving me a very strange look and shaking her head suddenly, almost as if she was clearing something nasty from her mind. Then she made eye contact again, for a moment, then said, to the floor, again,
"Actually, I think it might be best if I just showed you ... the idea, I mean. Its probably easier than trying to explain, and its..."
Again, she trailed off, and I wondered what on earth was going on, what on earth she'd been thinking of ... and what on earth she had to show me. Looked like I was in for a bit of a wait, though, so I attempted to return to my earlier 'humour' and gave the side of my chair a gentle swat.
I swear she almost jumped through the ceiling, standing up as suddenly as she did, and then she was looking at me with an almost pleading look. I apologised, of course, which somehow disappointed her - as far as I could work out what was going on at all by this point - so I rallied again and suggested that if she had something to show me, maybe she should, you know, show me? I mean, time was passing and we did have a pub to open soon enough...
Instead of doing so, she picked up her bags - both simple plastic carrier bags from the local supermarket, I saw, so unlikely to be moonshine - and retreated into Gregor's pokey bathroom. Oh, great, I thought - now she's going to have a good cry and I still don't have a clue what this is all about. I wondered if she'd find it easier - and whether I would find it easier, to be honest - if I just went back down to the bar, got stuff together, pretended that none of this had ever happened. Instead, I went and stood at the window for a while, looking out over the loch and feeling oddly sad about life, the universe and everything.
I turned round when I heard the bathroom door open, mentally prepared to give a standard 'its OK, don't worry about it' sort of spiel, but the words never got anywhere near being pronounced. What came out of the closet, so to speak, was most definitely not what had gone in. The slightly frumpy, slightly crumpled Fiona who had retreated a minute or two before emerged looking ... well, slightly frumpy, slightly crumpled ... and dressed in a sheer leather minidress that only just covered her moderately sized boobs - which looked like they were receiving some heavy duty support from some sort of high tech bra - and standing a good deal taller, too, given that she was wearing about four inch high heels.
So, look: I know I'm a shit, OK? I know that I should regret the moment till my dying breath, probably deserve to be consigned to the fires of hell for ever and a day, but ... I laughed. No, I am sorry, but I just couldn't help myself. It was just so unexpected, so incongruous, so un-Fiona ... and so much of a risk for her, I realised, as she turned and fled back into the bathroom, wailing and screeching at volume, now...
Took me half an hour to coax her out of the bloody bog. Had to give her the day off, too - didn't really expect to see her the next day, either. Frankly, I wouldn't have been too surprised if the next thing I'd heard was of her being dredged out of the loch in a few days time. Instead, though, she was there on time next morning. I was polite, of course, even tried an apology until I saw that bringing up events would only lead to another heroic burst of lamentation and so decided to let things rest. I mean, Greg would be back in a week, we were adults, we could scrape along until he was. I did wonder where she got the fancy dress from, though, wondered if her boyfriend was into that sort of thing - I assumed she had a boyfriend, though I realised that I'd never heard her mention one. Anyway, it was, I was sure, something best left in a box in a corner, to be studiously ignored for all eternity.
Except that Fiona herself brought it up, a while after we'd removed all three drunks at closing time on the Saturday night. OK, it had been another quiet evening, not really enough to justify both of us working. I couldn't exactly lose her a shift, though, - god knows, Gregor hardly paid well - and it seemed a little uncharitable to bugger off upstairs and leave her to it, so we both, well, scraped along. Not a big bar, the Ferryboat, or at least there isn't a lot of space behind it - but its big enough for punters to always seem to be at the other end when they actually decide they want to be served, so we were forever colliding or tripping over each other. And I discovered that she was quite a tactile sort of person, Fiona, with a soft warmth that I had to admit that I found quite attractive. So I was quite happy when she agreed to stop for a swift drink at the end of the shift, and then another after that. And so on.
So maybe it was just the alcohol that made Fi look a bit more relaxed, a little less world weary. She was back in her standard working gear, of course, a round necked jumper over a high necked blouse, sensible skirt over heavy black tights, flat shoes designed to be stood in for hours at a time. She'd had her hair tied in a tight bun but it had come loose sometime while we were talking and now her hair - mainly auburn, a few premature streaks of gray - was hanging free over her shoulders. So, yeah, maybe it was the alcohol, maybe it was the frankly gloomy lighting in the bar, but she looked a lot more attractive than she had before, was talking more freely - and more sensibly - than I'd ever seen her do before. She even laughed a few times, telling me stories of Gregor's long suffering wife and her eventual decision to up and off with a man who might not have owned a pub but did at least possess smile muscles. I asked her about herself, whether she was keeping a boyfriend up wondering where on earth she'd got to?
"Ach, no," she said, evenly, "I was never one for boyfriends. Had a few, of course, but losers to a man - or boy. Either drunk or idle or both, went on their various ways many years ago. Me, I stayed with my ma till she passed on, since then ... well, I keep myself to myself. How about yourself? Bright guy like you, own business, must have a few lassies on the go? How come we never see them in here?"
It was definitely the alcohol, I thought, even at the time, that caused my mind to wander, even as I was recounting my own sorry tale of loves unrequited or simply un-required. Specifically, I was wondering about the leather sheath thing she'd so briefly donned, where it had come from if not a gross out present from some gross out bloke? She surely couldn't have bought it specially for the pub, could she? I mean, where from? Not a lot of fetish shops hereabouts...
Well, anyway, I pulled myself together long enough to finish my tale of woe and sat there with her in a friendly silence, both of us finishing our drinks at about the same time. She moved to stand up, looking for her coat, I thought, started to say something about it being about time she made a move and - alcohol again - I surprised both of us by reaching out and pulling her back into her seat. Except that I half overbalanced and ended up being a lot rougher than I'd ever intended to be. I started to apologise, again, but she was sitting quite still on the barstool, licking her lips and looking at me with quite a feral expression. I stopped, looking at her intently and she leaned forward and kissed me.
"Oh, I do like a strong man", she muttered as she leant into me, arms looping around my shoulders, "not like the wasters around this place". I returned the kiss, of course - it would have been impolite not to - let my hand wander off her shoulder, down the swell of her breast. Laughing, she brushed it away.
"Oh, no," she said, "you'll be thinking I'm a bad wee girl and anyway you'll only regret it in the morning when the drink has gone and you realise what it is you've been carrying on with..."
Now, I could have protested innocence, that my hand had merely strayed by accident, but actually I was taken by a sudden fierce tide of ... well, of lust, basically. I said as much, honesty being, if not the best policy, then certainly the simplest. She laughed again, pulling away from me, looking sad.
"Well, maybe," she said, "but you didn't seem quite so appreciative when I tried to show you a little more of me the other day..."
I flinched, I think - and she laughed positively mournfully this time, presumably thinking I was flinching in revulsion rather than, as was the case, extreme embarrassment. I started trying to explain, realised that I was digging myself into a hole and changed tack instead, asking her where she'd come by a dress like that.
I thought for a moment that she was going to simply ignore the question, that the evening was well and truly over, but instead she said, speaking to the scratched veneer of the bar top, "I just like leather. Always have done. And you said we needed ways of getting more customers, our punters are invariably male and, well, sex sells. Only not when offered by me, obviously..."
And she was off crying, again, as I poured us both a dram and went and sat beside her, gently stroking her hair and making reassuring noises. Eventually, she stopped sobbing, took a tissue from me and dried her eyes. I took the opportunity to gently take her chin, turn her face towards me and spoke to her as calmly as I could.
"I was not revolted by your display, not disapproving, whatever you might think. OK, I'm not sure that its a perfect idea for this particular pub, but that's no way a reflection on you. I was just surprised, you know - I've been drinking around here for years, remember, and you've always been so quiet, so respectable, so ... Hell, you let everyone think you're clueless, dress like a spinster aunt and generally, well, blend into the background, you know? So it was a bit of a surprise - to say the least - when you suddenly appeared looking like every schoolboy's fantasy. And that's why I laughed ... not because I didn't like what I saw. And not because I wouldn't like to see it again."
I thought the last bit was maybe a bit of a risk - or maybe just the alcohol, again - but in fact she brightened a little and looked at me a little more hopefully.
"I don't know if I believe that," she said, "but its nice of you to say so, anyway..."
Actions speak louder than words, sometimes, so I decided not to wait for whatever she was going to say next and instead pulled her into me, again, as forcefully as before but deliberately this time. She pulled back in surprise, at first, then she went a bit wild, throwing herself at me, forcing us both off of our stools so that we ended up in a clinch on the floor.
Which, of course, meant that we were keeping close company with a load of fag butts and such like, so I managed to push her away for a second and then pulled us both upright. Of course, breaking the clinch caused all of Fi's anxieties to resurface so that I was trying to drag her gently towards the stairs and she was quite gently resisting, one hand playing with a silver chain around her throat. Well, no problem, I was within reach of the light switches by that time so I whacked them all off and, navigating by the even dimmer light from the display fridges, stepped in quite smoothly and swept her off her feet. Not completely successfully, of course, - I'm no action hero - but she sort of grabbed me instinctively, we didn't fall over and I ended up with her in a reasonably competent chair lift. Except that I'd somehow got my right arm under her skirt, so that the rest of it ended up ruffled up around her waist. Interestingly, it turned out that the tights I'd imagined were in fact stockings, supported by antique looking suspenders. Luckily, she didn't notice me checking this out, being a bit busy hanging on for dear life as I manoeuvred her towards the door to the stairs. Which, of course, opened outwards - it being preferable, in the event of trouble, for assistance to come down rather than problems to go up - and I didn't have a free hand. Or a free elbow, come to that, with Fi still showing a degree of nervousness about being swung around like this ... and my arms were already getting a bit tired. So, taking the bull by the horns, so to speak, I growled - yes, really growled - into her ear - a rather fetching ear, I noticed - an instruction.
"Open the fucking door!"
She shuddered slightly, looked up briefly at my carefully stern expression, then quickly unhooked an arm from around my neck, swung the door open and hurriedly grabbed my neck again. I just caught the closing door with my foot, kicked it open, again, and proceeded to carry her upstairs. Actually she half squirmed out of my arms in the process so it was more like dragging her upstairs ... but neither kicking or screaming were involved.
I plonked her down on a sofa rather than hitting the bed directly, partly because my arms were sore but mainly because I'm not that blatant. And then I stepped back, watching as she noticed the state of her dress - well, her skirt - and the fact that her slightly unusual underwear - leather panties, I noticed - was openly on display. I thought for a second that the old Fi would re-emerge but then she grinned and looked at me knowingly.
"Well, I seem to be revealing a lot of secrets this evening," she said, "I hope it won't make you think too badly of me."
Well, no, of course it didn't. I was tempted to ask her about the leather thing - I'm spectacularly fetish free, myself - but instead I concentrated on the view: Face it, she was never going to make the cover of a fashion magazine, probably a good 10 kilos under her ideal weight, a face lined and worn by years of ... what? Worrying? Scrimping and saving? I was ashamed to know so little about her, given the length of our casual acquaintance, me one side of the bar, her the other. Now, though, as she watched me watching her, there was a bright interest in her eyes I'd never seen before, even the nondescript clothing seemed more becoming, the swell of her breasts under the woolen jumper positively enticing. The fact that her skirt was round her waist and her legs splayed widely probably contributed to the re-evaluation, of course, but I was still left at a loss as to what to do next. I mean, I was about as out of practice as you could get at this sort of stuff and, I realised with a start, I really didn't want to hurt her ... or make this a one off. So I sat down beside her, squeezing onto the couch with my hip more or less by her waist, stroking her hair and continuing to look at her. I could almost sense her wanting something but I couldn't get a handle on quite what...
Things didn't actually improve all that much even when I started to take things more seriously. I mean, I eventually got into gear, moved from stroking her hair to stroking her breasts, kissing her lightly and then more passionately, lying beside her as I wormed my way under the jumper, the oh so prim blouse and finally managed to divest her of both. Got the skirt off, too, leaving her in those odd suspenders - like something from a fifties pin up - and a matching bra and pants set. Yup, both leather, both decorated (accessorised?) with chrome chains - very unlike anything I'd ever imagined Fi wearing. And once I'd got that far, it seemed unfair not to - umm - press home the point, continuing the kisses, nibbling her ears, playing with her nipples, gradually moving my hands downwards until one was inside her panties, stroking her labia under the cowhide.
Which seemed to be all according to the general scheme of these things - my memories weren't totally fossilised on this point - but the whole thing was odd. I mean, she reacted well enough, in a way - clearly her ears were pretty sensitive, she liked her nipples pinched rather than stroked, one could tell, and when I finally got there, her pussy was soaked. Problem was, throughout the whole process she was completely passive. Or not completely - it wasn't necrophilia, I mean, she did react with appropriate shudders and moans, seemed quite happy with the whole process, in a way - but at no point did she initiate anything so much as a kiss. So that by the time we'd moved through to the bedroom and I'd got to the stroking the clitoris stage, her first orgasm definitely on the horizon and all that, I was still fully clothed, still half sitting and half lying beside her on the bed. And it wasn't shyness, either - she made no attempt to cover herself up, no objection to anything I suggested or did, but she didn't actually do anything herself. It was frustrating, more so than I might have expected, and also off putting - I mean, she was enjoying this, I knew, but more like you might enjoy a good massage than anything like passionate engagement. I might have been making love to her but not even I could pretend it was with her.
Nonetheless, whilst I was clearly missing something, it seemed impolite to stop - and somehow I knew that pausing to ask her what was up was not the way to go - so I carried on regardless, did eventually give her a small orgasm by hand and a much bigger one by going down on her. After which I sort of cuddled her for a while and we eventually fell asleep like that, me still very much clothed.
When I woke up next morning there was no trace of her.
Sundays were Fi's day off so I opened the bar myself, spent a couple of hours or so providing a couple of redundant fishermen with halves of lager, listening to stories that I could have recited by heart and then handed over to one of the casuals to handle the afternoon's excitement. After which I had a few hours to spare before taking the evening shift so I took myself home, for a while, sorted some stuff there and ended up going for a walk in the hills behind the town. I did think of calling in on Fi - see if she was still talking to me, whether I could get some hint as to what had gone so wrong the previous evening - but thought better of it. Aside from anything else she'd never actually told me her address and while Gregor obviously had a note of it, that somehow didn't seem fair. So I went for my walk, came back, took over the bar and did a few hours work. Boring as shite, of course - in fact, the only excitement was explaining to the occasional tourist that we were a bar, not a restaurant and no we bloody didn't do food - but I kept at it for the advertised hours, even if I knew that Gregor probably wouldn't have in the circumstances.
Somehow working in a deadly dull bar can actually be more tiring than working in a busy one and I was definitely knackered when I finally got the door shut and bolted, deciding to leave the cleaning for the morning and just have a coffee before bed. At which point, the phone rang. The bar phone, I mean, not my mobile or anything. God knows why but I answered it.
It was Fi. She did at least introduce herself before going very quiet or, to be precise shutting up entirely, so that all I could hear on the line was a hint of her breathing. Which was great. I mean, there I was, standing alone in a deserted bar, really, really looking forward to going to bed and it looked like I was going to be spending the odd half hour listening to someone not talking on the phone. Or maybe not ... leave that to the bloody Samaritans, I thought, interrupting the pregnant pause - if that's what it was - to somewhat sarcastically enquire whether there was anything I could actually do for her or whether she was somehow earning loyalty points on her phone bill?
All I got in response was a sort of slight squeak, what sounded like the start of a new wave of crying and the very firm click of the line being cut. I stood and stared at the phone for a while, then I went to bed. Feeling really guilty.
Monday morning, I was outside the pub watching a drayman look a bit confused as he compared the size of the building (large) with the size of the order he was delivering (small). Which was fine, I thought - as far as I was aware there was at least enough in the bank to pay for the bloody stuff, which was probably not going to be the case soon enough - and, hell, I was only the relief. But somehow the guys attitude pissed me off, a bit, so I was kind of leaning against the wall, watching him shift stuff around rather than offering any sort of help, when Fiona arrived to do her lunchtime stint. Once again she looked surprised - and not actually all that pleased - to see me, even if I greeted her pleasantly enough both outside and when I'd signed all the paperwork and finally come back into the bar.
Fi was bottling up, dressed in another long skirt / jumper combination, hair back in a tight little bun. Somehow I knew that leather underwear was not part of the get up, today.
We got on OK, I guess, probably helped by the arrival of a whole bus load of tourists - well, students on a field trip - who for once didn't seem the least bit bothered about the lack of food and instead spent a quite gratifyingly large amount on beer, wine and even some of the single malts that had been gathering dust for years. Anyway, they kept both of us busy for the duration and left just before the afternoon girl, Morag, was due on - else I'd probably have had to stay, actual work somehow not being part of the accepted job description of the part timers, hereabouts.
As it was, I was able to remove myself to Gregor's nook behind the bar - he called it his office but it was actually just a place to hide from some of the more tedious customers - just as Fiona was collecting her coat. Yet again, she seemed startled to see me - despite the fact that it was (sort of) my pub and we had just been working together for three hours - and did a little surprised leap when I came through the door. Then she looked at the floor - I wondered if I should try writing things there if I actually wanted to communicate with the woman - then she looked at me like she was going to say something, eyes glistening with tears once again, before shrugging and making to push past me.
Well, sorry, but I was getting a bit fucked off, by this point, and I really needed to find out what was going on, so I stopped her - by grabbing her arm, none too gently - and pulling her round to face me. Instead of pushing me off or, in fact, objecting in any way, she ... collapsed against me, wrapping herself very tightly around me and letting out a very brief sob. Then she laid her head down on my shoulder and did a fairly good impersonation of a boa constrictor. OK, I thought, she needed to be held, so I held her. In fact, we stayed standing like that long enough, probably, for Morag to be wondering what on earth was going on, which thought spurred me into taking a bit more control of the situation. So I broke the embrace, sat Fi down on the single chair and told her to wait while I got a coat, after which we were going somewhere else, and we were going to talk. Not that she objected ... she just nodded ... and sat down as instructed. Was that a look of relief I saw pass across her face?
We walked up along the pier. There was the usual summer drizzle in the air, and the morning ferry had left a while ago, so it was just us and the gulls ... so not a bad place to talk, I felt. Except that Fi didn't really seem to be in the mood. She came along willingly enough, but the body language was all wrong. She was sort of huddled up in her self, keeping a definite distance between us, replying to anything I said in monosyllables. I wasn't sure how to react to this, how to push the situation towards some sort of resolution. Partly, the problem was that I didn't really know what I wanted to achieve - I mean, I'd seen a very different, and engaging, side to the Fiona I thought I 'knew' on the Saturday night and although the sex side of things had been a bit of a farce, at least from my point of view, I didn't want to rule out a repeat performance at some point. On the other hand, I had the feeling that there was something deep and dark going on in her head and, while I didn't necessarily want to get too deeply involved with it all, I definitely didn't want to exacerbate any problems she might have. So although I felt it would have been nice to put my arm around her, engage in gentle banter, relax the situation, make it fun, I did none of these things. In fact, I thought, we must have looked like a couple of distant relatives stepping outside from a funeral or some other solemn event, sharing space and time but very little else. I began to think this had all been a mistake, that I should just have let her get on with things her own way.
Of course the problem with piers is that they have ends and soon enough all there was before us was the grey water of the loch, speckled with the rain and looking oily and foreboding in the gloom. I guided us both into the partial shelter of the pier-head huts, lit myself a cigarette, handed one to Fi. She took a drag, leaned against the peeling paint of the wall, stared out into the waves in silence, still keeping 50 centimetres or so of space between us. She clearly wasn't in any hurry to speak so I decided to let things ride, pretty much resigned to giving up on the whole affair, just trying to enjoy the scenery, the environment that had brought me up here in the first place.
I think we could probably have stood there like that for the rest of the afternoon, getting damper and colder and achieving precisely nothing, if it hadn't been for the arrival of Wee Tam, a seasoned veteran of the Ferryboat and occasional fisherman of these parts. He was carrying a stack of creels, whistling tunelessly to himself as he wandered round the head of the pier - presumably also seeking shelter - and almost walked into us. With typical Scots perspicacity he took one look at us and leapt to entirely the wrong conclusion.
"And, my its yourselves," he said, cheerfully, "Two young lovers out for a day in the rain. And how long has this fine romance been flowering under our very noses?"
I snorted, I think, but Fi quickly responded that we'd had things we'd needed to talk about and that - I paraphrase - he could keep his ... imagination ... to himself. Tam gave her a look which suggested that he'd not heard a lot of talking as he'd been walking up the pier, then a leer and a wink, said something about her - our - secret being safe with him and walked on, whistling more vigorously than before.
Fi turned to me and confirmed my immediate thought that safe was the last thing any 'secret' would be with Tam, then to my surprise she laughed and took my hand.
"Still, there are things we need to talk about, but maybe this is a bit public after all. Perhaps I could offer you a cup of tea back at the house? Then," she paused again, gave another, altogether grimmer, laugh, "I might be able to show you the stuff I can't find the words for..."
I couldn't think of an immediate response to this - memories of that morning still being only too painful - so I just nodded, kept her hand in mine and followed her back into town.
Fiona's house - it had been her mother's, she told me - was in the back of the town, in the Telford grid, a small two bedroom cottage. It was nothing like as drab and dated as I'd expected - somehow I'd had the idea that little would have been done to it since Mother's day, that it would be full of old furniture, dark patterned wallpaper, flowery curtains and all that sort of stuff. In fact, it was bright and airy, walls plain white, Swedish furniture, a lot of books around the place, some abstract paintings on the walls ... and yet another side to Fiona I would never have imagined. I sat on a surprisingly comfortable chair while Fi busied herself in the kitchen - a Scots offer of tea is never rhetorical - and perused the bookshelves for a while. Its a bad habit of mine, but I was impressed by what I found - a lot of feminist texts, pretty much all of Angela Carter and quite a few books in Gaelic, which I hadn't known she spoke. I was still idly prying into her tastes when she returned with the tea, on a tray with the inevitable biscuits, and sat opposite me. She was smiling, I was pleased to see, and seemed a great deal more relaxed than I think I'd ever seen her. Only it wasn't exactly relaxed - sure, she was at ease with herself, with me, but there was more to it. She was resolved, I thought, suddenly, some sort of decision having been arrived at while she was communing with the kettle.
I accepted a cup of tea, even a biscuit - they were home made, of course - and politely waited to see what would happen next. Which was that Fi settled herself along the couch she'd been sitting on, looked carefully over the rim of her tea cup ... and spoke.
"Back in the pub you said we needed to talk, and I think you're right. At least, I think I owe you an explanation for a few things that have been going on, and probably an apology or two. I think I maybe led you on a bit, maybe gave you a false impression or two, certainly wasn't as frank as I might have been, nor as honest as you might have expected. Thing is, I think you're a really nice guy, and I think you maybe think the same of me. So there are things I need to tell you ... difficult things, for me, things that will probably just make you want to walk out the door. Which is OK, I guess, or at least better than if you stayed, if we carried on seeing each other - even working together - without me telling you."
She paused at that point, didn't drink her tea or anything, just sat looking at me, watching for a reaction to what she'd just told me. I kept my face carefully non-committal, said something anodyne, but broadly encouraging, wondered where on earth this was going. I'm pretty broad minded, so I wasn't sure what she might have in the closet that could upset me all that much, but then I realised that a lot of this had to be to do with her, her guilt, her ... confusion ... about whatever was bothering her. So I waited patiently for her to continue. Hell, she was right, too, that I could always just walk away...
While such thoughts were grinding away, Fi sat upright again, reached behind her to pick something up from behind the couch and then thought better of it, facing me again as she said,
"I thought maybe I'd just show you something that might explain but I want to try telling you first, then ... well ... we'll see." She paused, again, and I waited. It was almost as if she wanted me to take control of the conversation, I thought, which would have been difficult, but - well, actually control was definitely part of it. As became all too clear when she continued.
"I'm not like other women," she said, breaking away from looking at me and staring at the bloody floor again. "I have... needs ... emotionally, physically ... needs which I'm not happy about, which I'm not proud of," she laughed, "and don't actually politically approve of, but, well, which I have." Another pause. Another wait.
"I like to be dominated," she said, "I like to be controlled, ordered around, constrained. I need to be told what to do, forced to do things, made to break the rules, transgress the boundaries. I'm an intelligent, capable woman, for god's sake, could have gone to university, made something more of myself than a skivvy in a dump of a pub, but all my life I've just wanted this, someone to take over, to be in charge. And - until now - I've never told anyone about it. Not that my previous 'lovers' would have understood, the bastards just wanted to stick it in and dump their load, probably didn't even notice that I wasn't being particularly active. But I know that you did, and I thought I should probably explain ... should let you know how I am - who I am ... and ... well, see if you were at all ... interested..."
I gave up on the non-committal stuff, tried instead to stop my evident confusion being mistaken for anything more negative. I wasn't revolted, upset, just surprised, very surprised ... and, yet, not all that surprised. Looking back ... when I'd been rough with her - even just assertive with her - however accidentally, that was when she'd been most ... affectionate. Then there was the leather underwear, of course, the way she'd reacted when I'd joked about beating the truth out of her. So the clues had been there, it was just ... just a bit much to take in. I mean, what was it that I might be interested in? The chance to take over her life, to use and abuse her? OK, so I knew enough men who'd have had her out of her clothes and doing stuff before she'd finished speaking but that just wasn't me. I didn't do this sort of thing, didn't like controlling people, let alone hurting them. My mind, as they say, boggled.
Fi took my silence for a rejection, of course, but she didn't start to cry or anything, she poured herself another cup of tea. When she offered me a refill it was with a distant, almost resigned air; she'd laid her cards on the table, I thought, I'd turned them down, now all she could hope for was that I wouldn't exploit the information, do her harm that way. My mind, however, was still coming to terms with what she'd said and began to focus on the specifics.
"Umm," I said, intelligently. "I don't know what to say ... this control you crave ... would it involve physical ... punishment? You know, someone causing you pain? I'm not sure I could do that..."
Her face lit up in almost ecstatic joy and I realised, belatedly, that I'd just implied that I would be willing to do the other stuff. Would I? I really didn't know but I knew, instantly, that I couldn't disappoint her when it seemed that I'd made her so blissfully happy, if only for a second or two. She looked at the floor again, not evasively but... demurely.
"I don't know," she said, "Its kind of contradictory if I set limits, after all, and this has only ever been fantasy up till now. And the fantasies tend to resolve around being ordered around, definitely being tied up and that sort of stuff ... but only rarely real physical pain. I'm not really a masochist, just very submissive ... but you'd set the rules, so..."
She smiled at me, a very open, sincere smile, trusting and looking for me to accept her as she was ... as she is...
I could hardly refuse.