Byron walks out of the bathroom and returns with a pink toy. “Lie down on the bed,” he says. “Bring that thong with you, and let me put this on.” I obey him and Byron parts me, then rests the little device on my clit — directly on my clit. “Put your thong back on,” he tells me. “And stand up.” He pulls his phone out and messes with it, waits a while, tapping his foot. I know this toy will start vibrating soon but not when, and it’s murdering me. Finally, the lovely buzzing starts, and I gasp with pleasure.
“You’ll need a better poker face, pretty,” Byron says. “I’m going to figure out which rhythm you like best. And we’re going to have dinner at Chester B. Arthur.” He looks into my eyes, his gaze intense. “Always loved this red hair,” he comments, playing with a strand. “Let’s take a break until we get to the restaurant, Kit,” he says.
“Okay.” I say. I pull my skirt on and slip into my black Sanuks.
“I do like that red polish, though,” he comments, as we walk down the hall and out to his car. As if he hadn’t ordered me to put it on.
I smiles wryly. “Thanks.”
“I’ll treat you differently when you’re playing submissive, you know,” he says. “We didn’t talk about that.”
“What do you mean?” I ask. But I think I already know.
Byron unlocks the car door for me, opens it. I slide into the seat, and catch him glancing down for a flash of my thong. Totally unlike him but not entirely unwelcome. “I feel much more protective. Much more loving. That comes out. I want to make sure you don’t — you know — I don’t know, mistake that —” He begins to color.
“I don’t think you’re in love with me, Byron,” I tell him. “I’m not in love with you, either. You’re one of my best friends. And you made a shitty boyfriend. No offense. We’ve gone over this.” I grin again. “I think that’s how this all started.”
He starts the Tesla and lets it drive. “Yeah. Well. And afterwards, especially if we’ve had a particularly hard scene, I want to take care of you. Let me.”
I’m curious about that. Because we’re still, at the core of it, ourselves, despite what we’ve done today. “Why?”
He shrugs. “You gave me something. I want to make sure you’re okay. I want to take care of you. But — I don’t know. It’s a weird line, especially with us, because we’re so fucking close anyway. Just … “ He trails off. “Yeah. Like we’re going to go play in public? I want to hold your hand and generally act like your boyfriend. It’s a basic impulse to hover over you. Just let me. It means something in that context, but not outside it. Does that make sense? I need it to make sense, before we do this.”
I think about it. Acting like this with Byron sounds strange, but not necessarily bad. More of a stretch backward. “I worry the lines would blur,” I say finally. “Especially if it keeps happening.”
“Can we agree we’d talk about it if that started to happen, no judgment?” Byron looks at the traffic instead of me.
“Byron, we’re already fucking,” I say. “What’s one more line?”
“Point. Are you enjoying it?”
I realize with a start that it’s a serious question, that he’s actually unsure. I just laugh. “Byron. You felt how wet I got. Do you think that just happens for no goddamn reason?”
He turns back to the road with sort of a dreamy look on his face. “God, you did, didn’t you? So fucking hot, you getting that wet from being tied up and told what to do.” He sits up straight. “Do you want to do it again, after today?”
I look out the window at the live oaks in the square. “Um, yes, unless tonight goes very far south.”
“No, it won’t,” Byron says. “But I’m going to make you wish I’d fuck you on the table.”
“Is that a dare?” I ask. Byron and I have a deal: no dares. That always ends badly. On an impromptu road trip to New Orleans, I ended up flashing people for beads.
“It’s a promise.” Byron parks and turns to me. “Ready to play?” he asks.
I drop my eyes. “Yes, sir. But can I please not call you that in public, sir?”
“You call me whatever makes you happy when we’re out like this, pretty.” I wait with my purse for him to come open the door. “Leave that,” he says. “You don’t need it, and I want you focused on me, not your phone.” Byron holds his hand out and helps me from the car, but doesn’t let go as we walk down the street. It’s odd, holding his hand, but pleasant. He never did it in undergrad except for those long winter walks.
“You look good in black,” he observes. “It sets off your red hair and blue eyes.” He leans close to my ear. “And you’d suck me off under that table if I used the right voice, don’t pretend you wouldn’t.” Byron’s breath tickles and makes me shiver. He laughs. “Got you there, didn’t I?”
I can’t tell him to shut up or punch him on the arm like I normally would, so I just keep walking, not looking at him. The heat hasn’t broken; the sun setting by the time we reach the restaurant. Byron takes out his phone and swipes at it; the little device in my thong begins to vibrate against my clit. It goes slow and feels good, almost comforting.
He asks for a table for two, and a hostess leads us into a back corner. Byron always gets a good table. I already suspect I’ll be grateful for the long linen tablecloth and relative privacy. The toy shifts on me, and when it shifts, the vibration becomes a little more intense. Byron leans forward. “You like that, darling?” he asks. “I’ll make you beg me to let you come.”
The waiter appears, and Byron jacks up the vibration. He orders for both of us: waters, wine he knows we both like. He picks up my hand again and takes my menu. “You don’t need that,” he says. “I know what you like to eat.”
He turns the vibrator down. Damn him. It felt so good. Thank god the thing doesn’t make a sound. “Turn it up for me again, baby,” I whisper.
“No, pretty,” he says aloud. “Be patient. Not your best quality, I’m afraid. You need to learn it. Don’t worry.” He actually strokes my cheek. Byron. Byron who hates all forms of PDA. Much less with me. “You’ll learn.”
I ignore him, because PDA feels like a total mindfuck, and look around the restaurant, at the people eating out on a Saturday night. Chester B. Arthur feels upscale, but not too upscale, Frenchified, but not too French. Generally a happy medium all around with fantastic food. “Are you going to talk to me, pretty?” Byron asks, amused. “Or ignore me? I wouldn’t recommend ignoring me. Just because you can call me whatever you like doesn’t mean you don’t have to listen and be respectful.” He turns the vibrator on low. The comforting setting.
“What do you want to talk about, baby?” I ask. He wants to play, I’ll play right back.
“How’s work been?” he asks.
Work. That’s easy, I suppose. I launch into a detailed description of trying to save one of Savannah’s oldest houses. Walking the floors again and again, trying to figure out what Sam Hendricks can fix and how I can draw up the plans to do it. They also want a restoration of an addition, which burnt down, so I have to do that from scratch, and he has to build it. That requires plenty of sit-down discussions about what we need to do and how we need to do it. Who we need to subcontract. Lots of hanging with Sam, who’s sweet as the day is long and takes me out to lunch half the time.
In the middle of the discussion, Byron turns the vibrator up. Presumably to see if I can keep talking. I can. But it feels really, really good. The waiter appears to take our orders; Byron gets me steak, done the way I like, a salad. He orders what I would have ordered myself. Well, then, what’s the goddamn point?
I ask him this. He responds by turning the vibrator onto some motion that mimics a tongue licking me hard. Fuck. I shift in my seat again and it only gets better.
“Bastard,” I comment. “And you did say I could call you whatever I wanted.”
“I did,” he says. “And you’ll be calling me a lot worse before dinner’s over.”
We keep talking about work. Basically all I can manage other than a straight face. Byron turns it down again and I feel partially grateful, partially pissed. Move on to politics. The salads arrive. Byron jacks the vibrator back up to licking for a few minutes, then up to some setting that vibrates hard and feels so goddamn good I’d normally rock my hips back and forth on it. I stop eating.
“You need to eat, pretty. You’re too thin as it is,” Byron comments. “You work too hard and you forget to eat. I bet you don’t eat breakfast, either.”
“You know I can’t eat through this,” I tell Byron. I think my voice sounds unsteady. My clit feels amazing. Part of me wants to stretch out and purr and the other part wants to slap him.
“Yes, you can.”
“I absolutely can’t,” I say. I can feel my heart beating faster and my pussy getting wetter. I know I’m going to soak this thong. In public. Oh my god. Byron’s really doing this. I don’t know if I believed that he would, if I actually thought about what was going to happen when we got to the restaurant. I suddenly realize I didn’t.
“Mmm, I think you can eat, pretty.”
I know my breath has quickened. “Baby, if you want me to eat, you have to turn it down.” I try to sound very, very reasonable. Like I’m asking him to hand me the salt. It doesn’t come out that way and I know it. This feels too good for me to manage it.
I somehow sip at my water, then flip my skirt up in the back so I don’t soak it. It rides high up on my thighs Thank god no one can see behind the tablecloth. But Byron notices. Of course Byron notices. He smirks.
“Shut up,” I say.
“Didn’t say a word. And sweetheart,” he says, reaching across the table and stroking my cheek, “Watch that gorgeous mouth. You know, you are talking through this.” He smiles. My stomach drops. The setting changes and it sort of circles my clit, hard, and this feels even better. I want to rock my hips on this vibrator so much. I wish I was at home. I wish I was in bed by myself, or god, with Byron. I really, really wish we were not in the middle of a restaurant and he was not trying to make me eat a goddamn salad. I bite the inside of my cheek.
“Fuck. You,” I manage.
He grins. “Pretty’s angry. Should’ve known you’d get mad instead of begging. Look at those gritted teeth. And that clenched jaw. You will have to take that salad home, won’t you?” He drops his voice. “And I would watch my mouth if I were you. I won’t ask again. You only tell me to fuck anything in one context and it’s when you’re begging. I’m being very, very kind and asking you twice this time. Tell me thank you.”
He isn’t joking, I realize.
“Thank you, baby,” I say as sweetly as I can when this feels so good and I want it to keep going and I want it to stop, when I want to hit him and fuck him all at the same time. This feels amazing.
He leans over. “Your nipples are hard,” he taunts. “I can see them through that shirt. Too bad that bra may hold your tits high up, but it isn’t padded. And if I can see your nipples, so can everyone else, darling.”
“You’re a bastard.” This feels so good. If it keeps up much longer I’m going to come sitting in this restaurant. I’ve gone far enough now that I want him to do it. I’m so wet and I know my face is flushed and I want to come so much, ohgod it would feel so good.
The vibrator goes dead.
I sit back. “Oh, f— you bastard,” I breathe. Because I know I can say that.
He laughs at me. “This is too much fun. It’s so much more fun that you get mad. Begging would be boring. So what do you think of all the political stuff going on right now?”
He’s actually going to attempt normal conversation. I start eating my salad, all the while with nipple as hard as they were in the clamps, my thighs slicked. We can both play this game. I pretend everything’s normal and talk. Like a person who doesn’t have a vibrator on her that’s getting turned up, very slowly, first to the comforting setting, then a little bit higher, then higher still, then to the tongue-licking setting. I push my salad away again. My steak arrives. I don’t touch it. Byron takes my plate and cuts it into small bits, the way you’d cut a child’s. He spears a piece and holds it out to me. “Come on, sweetheart,” he coaxes. “Try your steak.”
“Oh, you’re horrible,” I say, and take it off his fork. Somehow. Chester B. Arthur makes fantastic filet, smothered in butter. “And you said I could call you whatever I wanted.”
“I did,” he reminds me. “Because it’s so much more fun when I know exactly how mad you are.”
He holds out another piece, as if to a baby bird. “Here, pretty. You need to eat dinner, and you won’t do it yourself.”
“God, turn this thing up and let me come or turn it down and let me eat,” I whisper.
I take the bite of steak from his fork. He spears another. And turns the vibrator up. My clit feels so sensitive by now and I can’t stand this for much longer. My breathing quickens again. “Keep eating,” he says.
I shake my head. “You know I can’t,” I manage. “Turn it down or let me come and turn it off.”
“No. Eat your steak. Come on, sweetheart.”
I don’t know how I take a bite. He feeds me another few more that I struggle with, torn between stretching for release and trying to shutting it down. This is becoming unbearable. Finally Byron tries to feed me and I just shake my head. He slams the vibrator off. I’m soaked. I know my pupils must look blown.
I just blink at him. “Please take me home and let me come,” I say. I can’t take that again while he makes me eat.
“You ate almost half your steak, pretty.”
“You did so well.”
“Baby, please.” I realize I’m staring and lower my eyes.
“Aren’t you being good.” His voice drops into silkiness.
I want the vibrator to start again so I can come. I want him to keep it off. My pussy feels wet and open. “Please take me home and fuck me, sir.” I whisper it as quietly as I can manage while he can still hear me. I want to get off. I don’t want to get off in the middle of a restaurant.
“Was that so hard to ask for?”
“No sir.” I keep my eyes down. Ohgod, I think he might actually do it. I don’t look up as he grabs the waiter and hands him a card.
“Don’t bother bringing the tab, just run it,” Byron says. He lifts my chin up. “You okay, pretty?” He sounds genuinely concerned.
“Yes sir,” I say. Because I am okay, I just don’t want him to turn the damn thing on again. I’ll tell him to stop if he does, I decide. I’m finished.
He strokes my cheek. “You don’t have to call me that. I told you you don’t have to, pretty.” He tips my chin up at him. “You’re not alright.”
“I didn’t think you would stop and I didn’t know if I wanted you to or not.” I curl up my toes in my flip-flops. Ohgod. I think he’s done with me. My breathing starts to even out. “I want you to now.”
“You didn’t trust me to stop?” He searches my face. I wish he wouldn’t. I feel too bare in front of him: something I’ve never experienced with Byron.
“I didn’t know if you’d know when you had to stop.”
He strokes my cheek again. “I stopped when I thought you needed me to. But you can always, always, always tell me to stop. You remember that, don’t you? You can always tell me you’re done if it’s too much. If the game’s too much we don’t play it,” He kisses my hand. “We never play games that are too much for you.”
I blink at him again. I still feel out of it. I want to get off so much. But I don’t want to do it here.
“You need to go home,” he says. I nod. He signs for everything as quickly as possible, takes my hand and leads me from the restaurant. Outside, he squeezes my hand. “I pushed you too far, pretty. I’m so sorry. I should never, never have taken you out.”
“I’m okay,” I tell him. “I was just done, baby.” Weirdly, I want to press close to him. I want him to cuddle me. I remind myself: this is Byron and we are playing a game. I like the game a lot. I do not want actually want Byron to fucking cuddle me. The role I’m playing wants to the role he’s playing to cuddle her.
“You’re not,” he says. “You’re not okay. You felt completely out of control and didn’t trust me to take care of you. Which means you were emphatically not okay, even if you feel okay now. You need to go home, you need to take a rest, and you need —.”
“I need to get off,” I interrupt. I remember I’m nor supposed to do that. Fuck.
But instead of punishing me he smiles faintly. “Do you, pretty? What did you ask for? Remind me, darling.”
I start to get wet again. Because i know he’s going to do it. “I asked you to take me home and fuck me, baby.”
He kisses my forehead. “You were such a good girl. You tell me exactly what you want and how you want it.”
I don’t have to think. “I want to lay on my stomach while you pin my whole body to the bed and fuck me. Hold my arms down and bite my neck. Pull my hair if you want.” One of my exes, Byron’s coworker Alexander Culliver, used to do this to me all the time, and I fucking love it.
Byron smiles. He opens the car door for me, and I slide in. He gets behind the wheel. “I think I can manage that, pretty. Is that what you want?”
“Yes sir,” I say. I know I have to call him that now that we’re alone again.
“Good girl,” he tells me, and I know he’s glad I picked up on that. He touches my face. “What a good girl you’ve been today.” He leans over and kisses me. Byron and I haven’t kissed in fifteen years. His lips move gently on mine; he holds the back of my neck, but cradles it rather than grabbing. It surprises me but I kiss him back until he breaks it off. He looks into my eyes. “You were so good,” he says again, then turns away and starts the car. I blink a few times and put on my seatbelt.
One thing to play all the games. Kissing feels different. Kissing feels real. It’s not real, I remind myself. Byron and I talked about this. He’s going to want to treat me like his girlfriend.
“Hey Byron,” I say.
He picks up on it immediately. “What is it, Kit?” he asks. He glances at me. “You okay? What’s wrong?”
“That was kind of weird.” I don’t really look at him. I look out the windshield instead, at the flashing headlights of oncoming traffic.
“Just, I don’t know.” I struggle to explain it. “More intimate, maybe?” Which sounds stupid because we had sex. And I just finished telling him exactly how I want to have sex again.
“You mean more real?”
Fuck. “Yeah, I think so.”
He shrugs. “Makes sense. I won’t do it again, if you don’t want me to.”
“It felt over the line,” I tell him.
“Okay,” he says. “I won’t do it again, Kit.”
“Are you okay with everything else.”
“Yeah,” I say. I sort of laugh. “I didn’t know if you were going to know when to stop that goddamn vibrator though, and no way did I want to come in the middle of Chester B. Arthur.”
He sort of smiles. “No way was I going to let you.”
“You really are a bastard, Byron,” I say, sort of admiringly. Much like I’m still impressed he managed to get me to flash people for beads. “But I don’t know how the fuck you’d have managed that if I decided I was going to.”
“You think I can’t tell when you’re about to come? Kit, seriously?” He sounds totally disbelieving.
I give him a look. “Wasn’t aware I was that obvious, no.”
“You’re not. But I can tell, trust me. I’ve always been able to tell. And you faked it in undergrad a few times.”
I turn red and smack his shoulder. “You bastard! You never told me you knew that!”
“Didn’t think it was relevant.” He grins. “You weren’t the only one keeping secrets about our sex life, were you?”
“Goddammit.” I cross my arms and slam back in the seat.
“Shut up.” I’m totally mortified and, even though I don’t want to admit, about to laugh.
“You think it’s funny and you know it.”
Double fuck. “Goddammit, Byron.” I do actually start laughing. “You motherfucker.” It feels good, cathartic, easy. I’m so grateful for the normalcy, suddenly. “I still can’t believe,” I say through the laughter, “I let you put me in restraints and fuck me and call me a slut.”
He stops laughing. “Why not?”
I stop laughing when he does and stare. “Because. We’ve known each other forever. It’s just … different. Not what I really expected when I woke up this morning, thanks.”
He shrugs. “Me either. But I’m not objecting. Are you?”
“No. Not at all.” I shift in my seat. “Do you want to keep playing?”
“Yes,” he says. “I very much want to keep playing. Do you?”
“Yes,” I tell him. Because I realize again that I really, really want him to fuck me.
“Then we’re playing again, pretty.”
“Yes sir,” I say.
“Are you ready for me to take you home and fuck you, pretty slut?”
“Good.” He parks. Walks around and opens my car door. I know enough not to do it myself. “Come on, then.”