"Are you sure?"
Elliot looks across the room to where Anne sits, slowly rolling her cane back and forth across her knees. Not a cane for fun and games, this one, but serious business. Collapsible graphite on an elastic core. Black handle. Four white segments, with a fifth, red, beneath. White plastic tip on the end that tap, tap, taps the ground whenever they walk anywhere together now.
She raises her eyebrows at him. "Elliot, I've lost my eyesight, not my kink."
"It's not your kink I worry about, my love," he assures her. "It's your aim."
And they both crack up, because they share the same irreverent sense of humor. And really, when you're alive and well and with the one you love, just about anything can strike you funny, can't it?
She's come so far, he thinks, since the days when she first came home from the hospital. Learning to move around the house unassisted. Folding laundry, washing dishes. Slowly getting the hang of cooking again, simple things like boiled eggs, but a start. She's even using the computer again, a little bit, with the help of a program that reads aloud what's on the screen.
And now this.
"Elliot?" she prompts, and her voice holds that cool tone of command that always tugs at the base of his groin. Tonight is no exception. But there's just a tinge of hesitation there, too, as if she's not sure he wants this. Not sure he wants her.
Are you sure? he wants to ask again, but he knows better. Anne rarely does anything she's not sure of.
Greensleeves is playing on the stereo, and he takes her hand and bends low over it, like a Renaissance courtier. "Gentle lady, I am yours to command."
In the bedroom, Anne shifts from one foot to the other. She's grinning just a little too wide, and Elliot suspects that he is, too. He notices how she touches things - fingertips to the bed, back of her hand against the dresser - to orient herself within the room. He usually doesn't, any more. It's very subtle.
"Should I change?"
He studies her, sloppy in the sweatpants and t-shirt she's been wearing around the house. His heart swells, and his cock is doing a little swelling of its own. "Don't ever change. You're beautiful just the way you are."
Anne laughs. "All right, then." She beckons. "You, on the other hand..." Her fingers are deft on the buttons of his shirt front, the neatly pressed cuffs. "You are wearing far too much."
"Hmmm." He shrugs out of the shirt, balls it up, and tosses it into the hamper. No sense leaving it on the floor for one of them to trip over. "We'll have to do something about that."
"Yes." She tugs the end of his belt loose and unbuckles him. "Yes, we will."
Before long, he stands before her, naked and about as hard as it's possible for a man to be. He holds his arms away from his sides, and she runs her fingers over him, touching him everywhere. His cheeks and his chin. His shoulders. His chest, and the plane of his belly. She takes his hips in both hands, and slides one palm around to squeeze his butt cheek. He purrs and murmurs and moves ever so slightly under her touch, even though he tries to hold still.
She pulls his mouth down to hers and his arms come around her and they kiss, slow and deep.
"Shall I bring the cuffs, My Lady?" he asks when she lets him up for air.
"Will I need them?"
He drops to one knee and presses the back of her hand to his forehead. "Never, My Lady."
She's smiling; he can hear it in her voice. "Do you want them?"
"Yes, My Lady, should it please you."
She chuckles, indulgent. "Bring them."
The cuffs are black leather with silvery steel buckles and rings. Anne stitched them herself a long time ago, before she and Elliot ever met. He hands her the first one and places his left wrist in her grasp. "Can you get it?"
"I think so." Sure enough, the first strap slips through the buckle and Anne tightens it and tucks the end neatly away. "There?"
When both wrists and both ankles are snugly encased in black leather, Anne steps around him again to admire her handiwork. She traces the line where the edge of the cuff rests against his arm, runs lingering fingers over his back and ass, as if taking the measure of her target. Finally she stands in front of him once more, one knee brushing the side of the bed.
"Will you fetch the whip, please?"
"Of course, My Lady. Which would you prefer?"
"The cat, I think."
"At once, My Lady."
This cat has not the traditional nine tails, but three, each a blunt tongue of tightly braided cord. Elliot's work this time. His first attempt had a historically correct knot at the end of each lash. Being hit with it was like being pelted with a handful of golf balls, and it was retired in short order. This one carries a nice solid slap with just a tinge of sting where the ends of the lashes curl around and dig in.
Anne runs the braids through her fingers, first together and then one by one, as if she's measuring them. Or maybe she just enjoys the feel. She's very tactile these days.
When she's ready, she positions him next to the dresser, bent just a little so he can brace his palms on it. One of her hands is on his shoulder, the other holds the whip. She draws it back and brings it forward slowly, checking her distance. The lashes patter against his back and make him shiver.
The moment of truth. His throat is so tight it's hard to talk, but it always is. His shoulders tremble in anticipation of the first blow, but they always do. "Yes, my lady, if it please you."
And then there's the hum of the thongs through the air and the thud as they land squarely between his shoulders, and he can breathe again.
He nods, though she can't see it. "Right between the shoulders. Maybe a little light."
The next one is a little lower, a little harder.
"Thank you," she says again, and after that neither of them speaks for a while, the silence broken only by the whistle and thud of the cat and Elliot's gasps as it hits home.
Anne works her way down his back, up, and then down again. This time, she continues lower, smart little blows stinging his butt, the backs of his thighs. Suddenly, he yelps.
She stops, her hand firm on his shoulder. "Ouch?"
"One of the little beggars slipped in and tagged me on the inner thigh."
"Sorry. Do you need me to stop?"