“Is my girl awake?”

Tate’s voice rumbled from his chest and she smiled against his chest where her lips rested.


“You’re smiling,” he said.

Her smile broadened. This was the old Tate. Always so in tune with her every movement, her every thought. She closed her eyes, simply savoring the moment, drinking it in. It very nearly brought tears to her eyes but she refused to allow them because she feared he’d take it the wrong way and they’d be right back at square one.

Instead she simply nodded, confirming what he already knew. He hugged her to him more tightly and brushed an affectionate kiss on the top of her head.

“Not that I’m not loving exactly where I am and having you naked and in my arms, but I promised you a do-over of our anniversary dinner out, and if we’re going to make it, we need to get up and moving. I need to get cleaned up and I was thinking about a dual shower, one where I wash and pamper you. And then we have dinner and then come back home so I can make love to you all over again.”

“Mmmm,” she said against his chest. “That sounds wonderful, Tate.”

“I’m glad,” he said gruffly. “I owe you so much more, but I promise that you’re going to get that from me twenty-four-seven from now on.”

She pushed up to her elbow so that she looked down at his contented, sleepy eyes as they gleamed back at her.

“I believe you,” she said quietly.

Relief brightened his eyes, fire quickly replacing any signs of sleepiness. “Thank you for that, Chess. You have no idea what your forgiveness means. And your willingness to give me another chance.”

-- Advertisement --

She reached down and lovingly cupped a hand to his face, stroking the chiseled line of his cheekbone with her thumb. Then she leaned down and kissed him. For once she was in a position of control, her over him, taking the initiative.

His hand immediately went to the back of her head, tangling in her hair, but he was careful to allow her to direct the kiss. It was almost as if he were still treading in very careful waters, and if he only knew that wasn’t what she wanted from him at all. She wanted him to assert his control—his dominance—over her again. She craved it with everything she had in her heart and soul.

She was born for this man. Born to be his submissive and he her Dominant. It was a need that defied reason or explanation. Some things just were and for her that was their relationship. She hated to even use the word marriage because it was so … traditional and quaint and in a lot of ways outdated. What they had between them went far beyond the edges of most married couples’ faith and trust in each other. The things she offered Tate, the things he demanded of her, could well be grossly misunderstood by outsiders unfamiliar with the dominance/submissive lifestyle and how deeply emotional and connected—profoundly connected—those bonds were. Yes, she had a kick-ass diamond wedding set but that wasn’t what made her Tate’s girl.

She literally put her entire safety, her well-being, into Tate’s hands. And in return, there was not a more cared for woman on the earth. Well, when things were normal between them … Their relationship defied convention and neither of them gave one damn. They made the rules. No one else. And most of the rules were made by Tate.

There wasn’t a handbook on “how to be a proper Dominant” out there. Tate would have laughed himself silly over the idea that he needed some “how-to” book in order to live his life and satisfy his cherished submissive. Maybe those sorts of guides worked for other couples, and if they did, more power to them. But that wasn’t the way it worked between Chessy and Tate. It never had been.

Tate made the decisions and he didn’t give a flying f**k if he was thumbing his nose at propriety or paying homage to others who lived the same lifestyle.

In the very beginning of Chessy and Tate’s relationship he made it very clear what he wanted and told Chessy that this may not be the way she thought such a relationship would work, but he’d be damned if he playacted some cookie-cutter “Dom” scene from an instructional manual. Over his dead body would he have others directing his relationship with his wife! His cherished submissive.

“What’s my girl thinking?” he queried softly, taking in her pensive expression.

“That you don’t bear the sole blame for the current state of our relationship.”

When he would have immediately launched a protest, she gently put her fingers to his lips to silence him.

“Just moments ago you were grateful that I still loved you, that I forgave you and that I was willing to give you another chance. But Tate, the same goes both ways. I could have said something much sooner than now. I could have been honest with you earlier on. I think I should also be asking your forgiveness and for another chance to make things right between us. I let the lines of communications completely give way between us. Yes, you share responsibility in that. Communication is a two-way street. But I should have been bolder in asking for what it was I wanted—demanded—from you much like you demanded certain things from me in our relationship. I was just … afraid,” she said, her voice going lower and lower until she trailed off into a husky whisper.

“Afraid of what, baby?” he asked gently.

She found his gaze again, swallowed back her nerves. “I was afraid that if I pushed, then you’d realize I wasn’t what you wanted anymore. That you didn’t need me. That I was just a burden—an unwanted burden. I was afraid you’d walk away. And so I tried to be as undemanding and understanding as I could even though I was dying on the inside. But then it all became too much and I could no longer be that person anymore. I had to take the risk, because the reward for not taking the risk was no reward. It was hell.”