Chords that Bind Ch. 13

bypoeticlicense91©

The woman behind the desk smiled blandly. "I'm sorry sir. There are no other rooms I can give you."

"Is there a couch I can sleep on? Something?"

The woman shook her head. That's when James felt a tap on his shoulder. It was Mae. "James? What's wrong?"

"I just—wanted to see about switching rooms..." He nodded his thanks to the desk attendant.

"Oh?"

He could tell Mae didn't believe him. "There's an extra bed in my room." She offered.

"You don't have—"

"It's better than a couch in the lobby."

After the day he had, James reluctantly agreed.

***

Abraham sat in his armchair, not paying attention to the game on his laptop. Clara had contritely told him about Cecilia's date. She expected another spanking, which would have been fun for Abe, but Clara hadn't meddled further in the affair, so she wasn't to blame. In fact, secretly, he wished that Clara had somehow un-meddled this evening. Cecilia was perfectly entitled to go out and see people. But it felt wrong. Abe wasn't overly happy that it was the Spaniard taking Cecilia out. It was healthy and wise for her to go out on her own. But Abe didn't like him, probably due to his loyalty to James more than anything else.

But James was another problem altogether. He seemed to be moving on. And that sounded healthy, but Abe was doubtful that Natasha Dubnikov was the right woman for James.

He heard his wife and Cecilia come down the stairs. Clara entered the den looking sheepishly pleased. He saw why when Cecilia followed her in. Cecilia had enlisted Clara's help in getting ready for the night. Instead of her leaving her ringlets long Clara pinned Cecilia's chestnut hair in a sophisticated updo. The jewel-cut heliotrope cocktail dress didn't need lots of accessories; the cleanness of the cut was enough to be extremely flattering on Cecilia's physique.

"What do you think?" Clara asked with the vague air of a mother sending her daughter off to prom.

"You look lovely Cecilia."

"Thank you." Cecilia was still self-conscious and looked down at her strappy heels as she accepted the compliment.

Somehow everyone in the room was aware that this was the first time that Cecilia was really venturing off on her own. A silence that no one knew how to fill began. Mercifully, Cecilia's clutch vibrated and she checked her phone. "Oh, that's him. Well, have a good night! She waved awkwardly and quickly left the room. A few moments later Abe and Clara heard the front door open and close. Clara sighed, troubled.

"What is it sweetness?"

"I feel like we're betraying James."

Abraham nodded. He'd thought the same thing. "I know. But you already tried that once, Clara. It's not our place. Besides, we haven't heard from him since he left. He's dating Natasha. I was sure he'd call and check in on Cecilia at least... Maybe... this is for the best." He didn't sound convinced.

Clara nodded. "I know. Besides, she seemed really excited. It's surely good for her to be taking this step."

"Come on, let's watch a movie and order a curry."

***

Cecilia stepped into the cool night air. Sebastian was leaning against his white Range Rover Evoque waiting for her. His eyes lit up when he saw her. She cinched the belt on her midnight blue trench coat and daintily walked down the steps to the street.

"Hola Sebastian," she said timidly.

"Good evening, Cecilia. You look beautiful."

"Gracias." She didn't know what else to say, but was spared as Sebastian took her hand and opened the passenger door to his SUV. "Ready to go?"

"Sure. Um. Thank you."

"Relajate querida. You'll love dinner. We're going to Pizzaro. It's the place I told you about at the cocktail party. A friend of mine from home is the head chef. You like seafood I hope?" He started the engine, and shifted into gear.

"I do as a matter of fact."

"Perfecto. You see? I promise this will be an evening to remember."

***

Cava bubbled, and threatened to spill over the rim of the flute. Just as Cecilia was afraid it would overflow she quickly brought the glass to her lips and swallowed the extra effervescence. She giggled, looking sheepish at the breach in etiquette. She couldn't believe she was sitting across from a world-renowned dancer who was looking at her like she was some great beauty.

For his part, Sebastian was enchanted. He didn't notice the faux-pas. When she broke into a smile he couldn't take his eyes off of her. She was as tiny as the ballerinas he danced with everyday, but she didn't have the air of fragility that came with classical training. Something about her was healthier. He particularly enjoyed the way she relished food. When he made his reservation he asked his chef friend, Santiago, to prepare a tasting menu for them.

Cecilia's face as she tasted Santiago's spherified gazpacho (a tribute to Ferran Ardria's famous spherified olives) was magical.

"I've never tried anything like that! It was amazing." That was when most of her nervousness melted away and she started to let herself enjoy Sebastian's company. She asked him about his dancing career and how he came to be in London. Sebastian started to regale her with stories.

It wasn't hard to keep the conversation going. Sebastian filled all the silences with anecdotes about his travels, his antics growing up, his childhood home...

The courses of food kept coming, all paired with rich Spanish wines. This next course was langoustines in a saffron tomato broth.

Cecilia made to discard the heads, but Sebastian shook his head. "No, you're wasting the best part." He took one of the crustaceans and sucked hard at the head. He laughed at the shocked look on Cecilia's face.

"Seriously. Try it."

Cecilia looked faintly disgusted. "I don't know..."

"I promise. If you don't like it, just wash it down with the cava."

Cecilia did like the cava. "Okay..." She didn't sound convinced, but she took one of the heads and sucked hard. She was rewarded with a rich briny flavor. "Oh! That- that is good."

"See? You can trust me. I wouldn't lead you astray." He watched hungrily as she sucked on another. Errantly, his mind wandered to what it would feel like when she gave his cock the same treatment.

The arrival of the next course interrupted that line of thought. The oysters were ever-so-slightly smoked and served with a beautiful mignonette. The delight on Cecilia's face as she continued to try the new and exotic flavors was well worth the wait to take her to bed.

"So what brought you to London, Cecilia?"

She froze. She hadn't thought about answering questions like that. She couldn't tell him the truth. What could she say? She racked her brain for some sort of appropriate response. When she came up empty she took a sip of wine to buy more time.

"Oh, I j-just always wanted to visit." That much was true. "So I-I-I just hopped on a plane, and I've loved it so much... I haven't managed to leave yet." Some of that was true.

Sebastian nodded. "And how did you end up staying with Clara?"

More questions? Cecilia didn't know how she was supposed to keep answering them. "Oh, well, Clara's a friend of a friend." 'Friend' might not be the right word to describe her relationship with James though. "She and her husband and their friend James have graciously let me stay with them." There. That was all the tricky questions. Or so she thought.

"You seem to know James very well too."

That couldn't be further from the truth. She understood so little about James. "Well, we're... housemates."

"He seems... very close to you."

Did he? Cecilia cut off the hopeful line of thought. Sebastian's questions were making her uncomfortable. "Well, I haven't been here that long. He's helped me... adjust a bit."

"Are you planning on staying in England permanently?"

Would these questions never stop? "I'm not sure how long I plan on staying to be honest."

"Well, I'm happy to show you around London too. I'm sure we can find reasons for you to want to stay." Sebastian's flirtatiousness made Cecilia feel as bubbly as the cava. Her annoyance at his questions evaporated. He was just being conversant after all.

"I may take you up on that."

The rest of dinner flew by and suddenly they were on the dessert course. They shared a silky crema Catalana. Sebastian's eyes studied her intently. Spending time with Cecilia was easy, especially as she became more and more herself, talking about her love of poetry, art, and how she enjoyed watching company rehearsals.

"Don't you dance Cecilia? You look like you do."

"Oh no! I can't dance. I've seen enough to know that."

"Come dance with me." He was feeling spontaneous. "I know a good dance club. I'll show you. Unless, you'd rather go back to my flat..." Sebastian truly didn't know which option he wished she'd choose. Something about her form called to him on both fronts. He was sure she'd be a great partner at either activity.

Cecilia hesitated.

"I'm not ready for the night to end," Sebastian purred. He started tracing circles on her outstretched hand. She wasn't ready to go back to his apartment. That was awfully fast as far as she was concerned, but they'd had so much fun... She gave in.

"We can go dancing..."

***

Cecilia didn't know what she'd expected, but after seeing so much classical ballet to such traditional music it was a shock to her system to jump the line at a posh club blasting techno and electronica. The bouncer recognized Sebastian and let them in immediately. He must come here often. Before checking her coat and bag, she texted Clara to let her know they'd gone clubbing and she'd be in later than expected.

It was loud and dark and she could barely hear herself think. If it weren't for the black lights lining the bar, she wouldn't be able to see much of anything. Cecilia was intimidated. She'd never been in a place like this. Sebastian looked right at home though. "Come on. Dance with me." He had to shout to be heard over the music.

Cecilia wasn't pretending or being modest when she said she couldn't dance. To be fair, she didn't try very often, but she was sure it wasn't one of her talents.

She was rigid stepping onto the club floor. Sebastian didn't share her concerns. His body moved of its own accord to the pounding music. Cecilia had never been so uncertain of herself. "I don't know what to do!" She tried to shout over the music. He tried to grab her hips to guide her, but she jumped at the sudden contact.

Sebastian didn't understand her flinch or her apprehension. Most women couldn't wait for him to get physical with him. "Let's get a drink."

It seemed like a reasonable suggestion. Cecilia was mad at herself for being so nervous, but the hot room and intense throbbing music was more than she was used to. She shuddered at the thought of what her mother might say if she knew Cecilia was in a place like this.

A cocktail sounded like a good idea.

She went up to the bar and ordered a greyhound. She was jealous at how easy it was for the other girls in the club to move with the music. She must be such a disappointment. It was so hot in the club that she downed the icy drink rather faster than she usually did. When she stood up she noticed that the wine from dinner and the vodka had caught up with her. The room was a bit unsteady, but her body seemed more responsive and less uptight. Sebastian steadied her, grabbed her hand and spun her back to the center of the floor.

He leaned over to her and spoke loudly into her ear. "Aprendo. Midas. Just do what I do. Follow my hands." He put his hands on her waist again. This time she didn't jump away. The alcohol was helping. "Close your eyes. What does your body want to do? Answer the music with your body." She listened, and let the pounding pulse have its way with her. Soon her shoulders and head were relaxed, tilted back, exposing her neck in such a provocative display. Her hips followed Sebastian's circling hands. "That's it!" He shouted over the music. "Now have fun with it!"

She tried. Dancing to this music didn't require the technical training Sebastian had. But this wasn't her scene. She decided to have fun with it, in spite of how ridiculous she felt. Sebastian was such a natural dancer. She thought she must be embarrassing him.

Sebastian twirled Cecilia around, and guided her back to the bar. "Two vodka Red Bulls please! Put it under Echevarria."

He handed Cecilia the pink tumbler.

In no time at all he'd downed the cocktail. Cecilia sipped at the drink feeling breathless. The cocktail was nice and cold, and even though she knew she should drink some water, she had no intention of taking a longer break. Sebastian was already beckoning her over with her eyes. There were women at the bar eyeing Sebastian with interest and her with jealousy.

The dance floor filled up and Cecilia was pressed close to Sebastian. The second track in, she started to feel very wobbly indeed. She didn't see an easy path away from the throng of people and looked back to her date. He was lost in the music.

"Sebastian! I need a breather! Sebastian!" Cecilia called to him, finally gaining his attention. "I need to sit one out!"

Sebastian couldn't really hear Cecilia, but she was tugging at his arm, and he liked her sense of urgency. He was ready to be alone too. He draped an arm around her waist, holding her firmly. All the seats at the bar were full, so he guided her through to a dark hallway.

"Are you okay?"

"I-I th-think so. I'm just-"

Sebastian didn't let her finish the sentence. His lips crushed her own, surprising her for a moment. She was shocked at the forcefulness of it. She hadn't counted on this.

Suddenly his hands were all over her and she was pushed against the wall of the dark corridor. It wasn't altogether unpleasant. She returned the kiss, imagining James in Sebastian's place. It wasn't the same though. She was confused about what she was feeling.

"Jame—Sebastian..."

"Mmm. You taste so good." He wasn't listening. His foot was between her legs, his muscular leg pressing into her. His arm leaned possessively against the wall, caging her in. He had her. The position was so familiar, and not at all the same.

All night Sebastian had wanted to get to this moment. Since he'd first seen her, especially at the company cocktail party he'd fantasized about winning her. She was his type and he'd loved seducing her.

She had to brace her arms against the wall to keep everything from spinning. He was kissing her again. She needed air. And space. She felt his long eyelashes against her check. It was different, a good kiss, but the wrong man. She didn't want her hands up like this, pinned to the wall supporting her. It was too much like the time James kissed her. She tried to relax, even enjoy his attentions. But, no, this wasn't right. She didn't want him the way she wanted James. This was a poor substitute. "Sebastian..." Maybe he couldn't hear her? Was she even speaking out loud?

She shouldn't be here right now. It was too much. His fevered kisses were accompanied by the sensation of his hand crawling up her thigh. She wasn't ready for this.

Her mind slid back to her time in the white cell. Everything was happening to her and around her. She felt powerless. Why didn't she say something? Her voice was lost. Her mind flashed back to the countless violations she experienced. She heard the whistle of the cane, and familiar music played in her head. She heard her own voice cry out her status as slave. She heard herself begging.

She shook her head.

She spiraled into full-blown panic. He needed to let go of her. Her body went rigid. "Stop! Please stop!" She started crying. "Let go! Please!"

Sebastian stepped back, confusion written all over his face. "...Cecilia?"

Instinct took over and she ran. The red exit sign glowed in the darkness and she pushed through the door and out into the London night. Her sweaty skin prickled with goose bumps immediately. The cool air momentarily broke through her alcohol-dulled system. The pounding music was muted. She gasped between sobs. She tried to shake her panic and fear off, but that upset her precarious balance. She'd had too much to drink.

Apparently, she'd run through the back exit of the club. The only thing she wanted was to be home, and she didn't mean Philadelphia, she meant the townhouse with Clara and Abe and... She didn't want to see Sebastian, let alone say goodbye. She wanted James. Everything was spinning. She tried to collect herself enough to get back to the main street, collect her things from the coat-check and find a cab home. This date had been a terrible idea.

She rounded the building, noticing how much her feet hurt from dancing and running in her heels. She got back inside, quickly retrieved her trench and clutch and walked away from the club, thankful that the masses of people meant she didn't have to see Sebastian.

The air was thick with mist. It wasn't properly raining but Cecilia was soon chilled to the bone. She tried to concentrate on walking towards a street where she could hail one of the black cabs that would bring her back home, but she didn't know where she was, and the street wouldn't stop tilting. She knew she could called Clara, but she was so humiliated. She couldn't handle a night out; she was so fragile and traumatized. The nightlife was swirling around her and she wanted nothing more than quiet and peace. She hugged herself and pulled the belt of her trench tighter. She breathed hard, trying to overcome the alcohol in her system.

She turned off the main strip of clubs and restaurants. This street was quieter, almost deserted. Her heels echoed ominously on the pavement. She decided to turn around and head back towards the bustle of the clubs. She wasn't going to find a cab here.

That was when two dark figures emerged from the alleyway. Seeing this, she turned around again. A taller man had walked up behind her, and she nearly walked into the stranger's chest.

"Pardon me. Sorry." Cecilia said quickly and kept her head down.

"You dropped something." Cecilia paused. She hadn't dropped anything. She felt her phone in her pocket, and was holding her clutch. Her head was fuzzy and the words sounded like they were miles away. Her moment of hesitation allowed the other two men to catch up to her.

"Where're you going?" The voice behind her was too close. She detected a rough accent. It was like Master—no, Lace's voice, but younger. A shiver crawled up her spine. She didn't like thinking of him. She couldn't bear to turn around, afraid she'd see Lace again. The third man came in front of her, further blocking her path. He answered the other's question. "You look lost, love." This voice was patronizing.

"Excuse me. I'll be off thanks." Cecilia tried to step around the two men, but the one behind her grabbed her arm.

"Not so fast there. We'll help you find your way back. Won't we Mitch?"

"Of course we will. Won't we, Geoff? Come with us, love." Cecilia bristled at the false endearment.

"No. I'm fine. Let me pass." Cecilia tried to pull away, but she backed up into the other one. They had her surrounded. Trying to find a way between them she turned quickly and turned her ankle, stumbling into the tallest one again. He grabbed her by both arms. "See? Easy there. Wouldn't want to hurt yourself now." It was all eerily familiar to Cecilia. The threat hung in the air. "Let me go!" She shouted and tried prying his fingers off her arms but he her gripped harder.

"Quiet!" The one called Geoff growled in her ear. She saw a glint in the dim light. She swallowed her next scream, registering the blade near her cheek. "Yell again, and I'll cut you. Wouldn't want an ugly scar on that pretty face... Now, you're coming with us, and you're coming quietly."

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