tagNovels and NovellasBeyond Limits Ch. 04

Beyond Limits Ch. 04


Chapter 4 - Conclusion

At the beginning, a break-up is almost like a relief. It feels good to be able to sever and excise those connections that have become diseased and gangrenous and have started choking you and kept you from breathing. A new honesty enters your dealings with your former lover, a new ease and openness, and there's almost a kind of delirium that seizes you and you run back and forth to her over bridges you don't realize are already crumbling beneath your feet. She's so much a part of you that you can't imagine life without her and so you don't, and at first you might find yourself eagerly discussing the break-up with her, as if it's something that's happening to someone else.

I'll be kind. No one wants to read about pain, and the pain I suffered losing Lexi was horrible, devastating, absolute. It turned out she was everything to me and I'd never known it: my reason for living, my reason for writing, for getting out of bed in the morning and for going to sleep at night. After that initial numb shock, I wanted to die, and wanted to die every day, every minute of every day. I'd lived for her eyes to see me and her ears to hear me and no one else would do, nothing else would substitute. I was used to the pain of losing women, but this was truly devastating. Lexi was the one I'd revealed myself to at great pain, and I thought that pain had purchased something. It hadn't. In the end your pain matters only to yourself.

And what made it all so much more incalculably worse than a normal break-up—what made it so insulting, so offensive and hurtful—was the fact that she had dropped me for someone new. She had someone new to love and be loved by; someone she loved better and more deeply than she'd loved me, someone who touched her in ways I'd never touched her, someone she gave herself to in ways she never gave herself to me. She was apparently his sub, his submissive. From the start, her stories about them involved him dominating her and her suddenly discovering this part of herself. All the months with me and she denied any connection to BDSM, but now, a matter of weeks with Cormac Grehan, and Lexi was deeply involved in it. It was incredibly painful. She told me all about it.

She meant well. I honestly think she meant well. She stood by me and never abandoned me even as she grew closer and closer to Cormac and more and more in love. She always wanted to remain my friend, and I, poor wretch, was desperate enough to want to keep what shreds of relationship with her that I could, my dignity be damned. But I think now there was some sadism on her part too, from the time she first told me she was his sub, that she "bent her knee" for him.

"What do you mean?" I'd asked.

"I mean that finally I've found a man I can bend my knee to. Who's worthy of my servitude."

I didn't have to ask her where this left me on the hierarchy of her status, but I did all the same. I did because already the problem of her being dommed by Cormac was becoming a separate problem, a problem apart from the pain of losing her, a problem of such excruciating pain to my ego and the very structure of my personality that I honestly feared for my sanity.

I tried to forget her and I couldn't. I tried to forget what they'd done to me, how they'd humiliated me, emasculated me. Her story was that I just wasn't the right type to bring out the submissive in her, and maybe that was true, but that's not what I heard. What I heard was a challenge to my manhood and masculinity, a threat to my very idea of who I was. I wasn't man enough, wasn't male enough. The very love I'd shown her had made me feminine and weak, cloying and indecisive. I couldn't live with myself, couldn't look at myself in the mirror. I loathed myself. My very work—my plays, my stories and poems—seemed effete, gutless, and unmanned.

I told April. Of course I told April, but there was little she could do, and how much sympathy can you expect from your lover when you break up with your wife? She was wonderful to give me what she did. Mostly she hated Lexi for what she'd done to me, for crushing my confidence in myself and utterly destroying my libido.

And yet somehow in this hell of feeling, April was able to touch me. April never abandoned me. She came and she sat with me in the empty apartment and she listened to me bitch. She walked with me down by the frozen docks under the leaden skies. She cooked for me and made me eat. She wouldn't hear me talk about being weak, about not being worthy, yet it was such a farce, to sit there and weep and have someone tell me how strong I was, how worthy of admiration.

I still talked to Lexi. I had no reason not to. There'd been no argument, no harsh words or recriminations. Besides, I couldn't help it. I honestly didn't think I could live without her, so we talked on computer and on the phone. She was concerned about me. I honestly believe she was.

I didn't beg. I didn't lower myself. I wanted to know what happened but she couldn't say for sure. She'd fallen in love with another man, that was all. It happened, and who could explain love? She still loved me but someone else had come along who touched her differently and more deeply. It seemed to make sense to her, or it seemed to make enough sense. He gave her something she needed. She was shocked too and terribly sorry, but there it was.

The best explanation I ever got from her was when she told me that she always felt like she was fooling everyone else. She felt like Cormac was the one person she couldn't fool, who saw her as she was, and somehow that was an immense relief to her. I'd just have to accept it.

And maybe it was the talk of seeing herself as she really was that got to me. Or maybe it was that April was off for a long weekend entertaining Brandon, or the stress of what had happened just got to me, but at a certain point I became convinced that I wasn't seeing myself as I really was either, that my failure to conquer Lexi and to win her allegiance meant that maybe I wasn't really the dominant that I'd thought. Seeing how I needed her now, seeing how completely I'd fallen apart, I became convinced that I must, in fact, actually be a submissive, a submissive who was so ashamed of his submissiveness and who worked so hard to suppress it that he hid it by playing a dominant.

I became convinced, in other words, that I was a massive fraud, and that I'd been unable to conquer Lexi because I wasn't capable of it. I was a submissive pretending to be a dominant.

What did I know about anything anymore? I still had the soliloquy to write for the play but that was out of the question now. I sat at my desk and hurt, physically hurt, watching the flat, bright sun on the shattered snow in the park, swollen with gin some mornings, the television on all the time, commercials droning for car insurance and long distance service, news, talk. I read about voudun—Voodoo—and the idea that we're all possessed by spirits, gangs of spirits, warring personalities inside us that battle for control, and I believed it. I saw my life as a parade of observers standing behind my eyes, a mob shoving and scuffling with each other for control, confused and selfish. I liked that image of myself, but it frightened me that I didn't know who was really in control. I began to list these observers:

Russell the Writer

Russell the Sexual Being

Russell the Sufferer

Russell, the Extension of Lexi

Russell, the Good Man, the one who tried hard.

Russell, confused, tormented, lost; abandoned and drowning, not worth saving, contemptible, incapable, weak and loathsome in my own eyes.

Even my own capacity for self-pity made me sick with revulsion. Even my grief was disgusting.

In such a state I became obsessed with this submissive idea. Stirred together in a seething mass with my heartbreak and the insanity of the Voudun mythology I was reading, the idea began to loom over me like some tidal wave of fate. Suddenly my salvation seemed to lead through the road of submission and it seemed to me that maybe what I'd wanted from Lexi was not her obedience to me, but her own engulfing presence, soaking me up, holding me inside herself. How else could I explain how low I'd sunk? What was I doing if not waiting for some mistress to come along and take hold of me?

I discussed it with April. She was angel enough to listen to me discuss my own hurt. I wasn't April's first D/s partner. She'd had a virtual master online, a much older man she called Master K, and she'd done such things with him as were possible on computer. He'd been a switch—dom most of the time but he taught her how to dom him too. She hadn't enjoyed that as much, but he'd taught her some tricks, she knew the idea. When I first told her I thought I might be a sub she just looked at me.

"You, Russell? Oh no. No. No way you could be a sub. Not even a switch. You just don't have it."

"How do you know? You don't know what I feel inside, April. How weak I am, how dependent, how uncertain. There's nothing I want more now than for someone to come along and take control of all this. Take control of my life and everything so I can have some peace."

"Yeah. I know what you want, and that's not what subbing is about. You think it's going to fix your broken heart but it's not. That's not how it works. Being a sub has to do with giving yourself away to someone, being willing to give your pleasure and sensation to them, of placing your soul in their hands and trusting them completely. It's not just 'take-care-of-me-I-can't-cope'. That has like nothing to do with it."

"I know what it means," I said, but I was lying. I was lying because I was hardly hearing what she said after the bit about placing your soul in their hands and trusting them completely, because that obviously referred to what April had done with me that first night in her apartment when she'd offered me everything she had, everything she was, and I'd been too stupid to appreciate the generosity of her offer.

In the state I was in, I was realizing how stupid I'd been about a lot of things, how I'd taken her for granted. "Is that how you felt with me?" I asked.

She just looked me straight in the eye and then looked away. It gave me chills.

"But why?" I asked. "You didn't even know me."

"I knew you from your writing. You're so apparent in your writing. And I knew you from watching you. It was love. Who can explain love? It's simply fucking terrible, Russell."

There were spirits fighting with spirits within me, I swear, and I must have gone through three or four personality changes as I stood there, trying to think of something to say. How badly I'd treated her as she'd stood by me through this ordeal; how I'd taken her for granted and leaned on her, fed off her love like a vampire, moaned to her about the way Lexi had hurt me. April was a beautiful woman, exquisitely made, and she would indeed do anything I wanted of her. She could have done so much better than me, especially the way I was now. I'd never found the limits of what she'd give me or even come anywhere close, and what had I given her in return? I was flooded with guilt and shame.

"April, I want you to be my mistress. I want to serve you."


"I'm serious. I want to be your sub. I want you to train me to do your bidding."

She looked at me flatly, angrily. "I knew you were going to get around to something like this! I just knew it, Russell! I can't do it. Really I just can't."

"Yes you can, April. You can start. Just like you used to do with Master K—"

"With Master K it was different. And that was on computer. I'm not a domme, Russell, and you're not a sub. It's not just a matter of me picking up a whip."

"I'm not asking for miracles. I just have to know what it feels like, that's all. And I owe it to you. We just have to try it. You can do it April. You know how."

"Honestly, Russell, it's not like that. It doesn't work like that and you're not the type—"

"How do you know? How do you know what type I am? I don't even know anymore and that's why I have to find out. I need you to help me find out."

I went up to April and took her in my arms and she didn't resist. She knew it had already been decided. I would dom her into domming me.

"Russell, really. It doesn't work like you think. It's not just a matter of letting me do things to you. It's not like me and Master K. That was different, more like a game. I have feelings for you. When I sub for you, there's a givingness and sense of trust and I don't know if you can feel that for me. I don't know if it's in you. And I don't know if I'd feel right taking it from you."

"There's all sorts of doms," I said. "There must be all sorts of subs too. I'm just asking you to try, April. Just so I can see what it feels like. This is important to me, April. Come on. I'll get the stuff."

"Now?" she asked.

"Now. Just to try it."

We were in my apartment. I started to go into the bedroom to get the equipment when April said, "You know, I think it's this language that you get hung up on, this 'sub' and 'dom'. I don't like the labels and I don't think of myself as a sub and you as a dom. I think of us as lovers who do certain things we like. We don't know what we 'are', and what we 'are' doesn't matter. If we look at it that way, if we just keep that in mind, maybe we can try. You know what I mean, Russell? You have to promise not to get mad at what I do, though. No matter what happens, promise you won't get angry with me."

"Of course I promise," I said. "Now tell me how you want me."

April looked at me worriedly but I was already taking my clothes off, stripping off my shirt and boots.

Looking back on it now, it strikes me just how sick I was, how hopelessly insane. I undressed for her the way you undress for a doctor, as if she were going to give me some sort of treatment, and that's the way I looked at it. For me, the whole thing was like a kind of therapy treatment I needed to be cured, cured of my uncertainties and my doubts, cured of Lexi, cured of my sickness and returned to the real me. Despite what April had just said about sub and dom being labels, I was convinced I was an overcompensating submissive, and that once I faced up to it, I'd be cured. It was simply my stubbornness, my selfishness, my pride that stood in my way.

April no doubt needed to be loved and reassured before she could attempt this risky exchange of roles with me, but I was oblivious to that. I was oblivious to everything. For me, domming came as naturally as breathing and I couldn't imagine she'd have any problem with it. All you did was let your emotions take over, your natural greed and lust for your lover. You just did what felt right.

But April was nervous and uncertain. She started to take her sweater off, then stopped. I stripped down to my shorts and she watched as I buckled one set of cuffs around my wrists and another around my ankles. She hadn't told me to do that, but she didn't stop me either. She just watched.

I found a collar in the box and handed it to her.

"You do it," I said.

She took it nervously. The collar didn't mean much to me, but for her I knew it had deep significance. I knew because I'd wanted her to wear one for me once and it was one of the few times she'd ever objected, begging me not to make her wear it. It had implications of deep commitment and belongingness for her, things she felt we'd be mocking, the way our relationship was.

It didn't mean that for me, though, and this was my scene. I wanted to see what it felt like, so I held the collar out to her. I suppose I was a little sadistic too, making her put it on me. I knew it would affect her, and at the same time I realized that I had another motive. Secretly, I was going to prove to myself that I wasn't submissive at all, that none of this affected me..

She took it and hesitated.

"Come on, April! Do it," I growled.

She had some trouble fastening it around my neck.

"Do you want it so loose?" I asked. "Shouldn't it be tighter?"

She inhaled and seemed beside herself, agitated and excited by the unfamiliarity of being dressed and in charge while I was naked except for my shorts and cuffs and collar. She reached up and tightened the collar a notch and I felt a weird thrill in my groin. The collar had more than symbolic meaning.

"The leash," I reminded her.

April brushed her hair back out of her face and found a chromed dog leash in the box of equipment and fastened it to the ring in the collar with the chromed clip. I raised my head and looked at her, but she wouldn't meet my eyes at first, and then when she did, her eyes were guarded. She held onto the end and stared at the clip that fastened the leash to the collar, her breath even. Then she took the leash and tugged on it.

I bowed my head, following her.

A look of nervous fear crossed her face. "Is it too tight?"

"Of course not."

"Oh, Russell..."

She was breathing hard, her eyes wide, uncertain what to do with the leash. Uncertain what to do with me.

"I think you want to tie me, April. Maybe tie me in the doorway?"

"Yes. Yes. Come here. Over here."

The doorway between bedroom and living room had thick screw eyes set in the frame. I'd put them there for Lexi, but of course had never used them for her, and now April used them on me, clipping my wrists at head level and my ankles to eyes on the bottom to keep my feet apart.

As soon as she got me clipped in place I felt different—a prisoner, April's prisoner—and she felt it too. I could see something edgy and predatory emerge in her face, a hungry gleam as she witnessed my own helplessness and captivity.

"You promised you wouldn't be angry," she said as she spread her hands on my chest. "You meant it, right?"

"Yes. I meant it."

"You know your safe word? It's the same one you gave me."

That surprised me. For the first time I felt a little nervous.

"You won't need it, baby. It's not going to be like that. But you're going to give me everything if I want it, Russell. That's what this means. You agree to let me do anything, right?"

"Yes." I pulled on the cuffs and the clips jerked taut. The cuffs were thick, eighth-inch leather. They weren't going anywhere. I was trapped.

April stared at me, her eyes going liquid. She still held the leash, still was dressed. She put her hands against my chest and pressed her lips against me there in a long, lingering kiss and I felt my cock lift in my shorts like a hydraulic ram.

"God," she said. "It's exciting, having you bound like this. I don't know what to do first."

And it was exciting. All I had to do was stand there as April kissed and caressed me, running her hands and lips over my chest, giving me love bites, getting carried away with the access she had to me and my own helplessness. I was soon rock hard and she grabbed my shorts and stripped them down, unclipped my ankles so she could pull them off me and throw them aside, then reattached my ankles to the screw eyes in the door frame.

"Oh, Russell, Russell!" she gasped as she kissed me, her lips sliding over my chest, her nails scratching me as her right hand slid down to take hold of my cock. She started pumping me slowly while her other hand slid around me and her nails dug into my ass.

I knew the relationship was strange. She was in love with me and I suppose I loved her, though with my heart still shattered by Lexi it was hard to say for sure. But April had another man, Brandon, who didn't know about me. He was vanilla and rich, and she planned on marrying him after law school. He was taking her to Cozumel soon for a vacation and it bothered me that I wasn't more jealous. I was using her, using her to try and heal my broken heart. She was my nurse and I was using her. She was a beautiful woman but for some reason she didn't engage me on that level that Lexi did, down where things were painful and scary.

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