tagMatureIn Loving Memory Pt. 03

In Loving Memory Pt. 03

byTara_Neale©

Claire stared once more into a mirror as she splashed cold water on her face. She studied her reflection. Reluctantly she admitted the kid had a point. She was not the type that looked good thin. Her sunken cheeks gave her the garish appearance of Dickens's Miss Havisham. But that was beside the point at the moment. What was she going to do?

He was waiting out there. At a table. Chatting like old friends with the waitress. A young woman that was disgustingly obvious in her interest in the man. She was reminded of her blog...Have Some Dignity, Bitches. It was not cool to chase a man like that.

She frowned. What did it matter to her? Maybe if the sweet young thing passed him her number then he would just turn the car around and take her home. And if he would not, then she was getting back there, one way or another. She rummaged in her purse until she found her wallet. Opening it she found all of her cards and the small amount of cash that she usually kept just for emergencies. Of course, it was silly to think that he had taken it, but you could never be sure with strangers.

She shook her head as she sighed. But that was the damnedest thing. He did not feel like a stranger. He had used the word 'friend' and as strange as that was it fit perfectly. It was like she knew this man. More shocking yet, like she trusted him.

She tried playing it all back on the small screen of her mind. Their conversations, everything he had said. But when she got to that kiss, she blushed. For certain there was nothing friendly about that. The way her nipples ached and hardened within the tight confines of the corset was mortifying.

The corset! It was all she had on under her coat. What was she going to do? Eat breakfast in her coat? "Shit," she exclaimed. Not that she had not done this sort of thing before. She smiled weakly at the memory of one of His challenges: wear nothing but suspenders and stockings under her coat on the train to His house. It had been the middle of winter and she nearly froze, but she was dripping wet by the time she got there. But this was different. It was not some silly challenge from her Master. She was stuck; practically naked beneath this coat in the middle of nowhere with a man whose name she did not even know.

Holy god, she did not even know his name! That realization hit her like a knockout punch from the World's Heavy Weight Champion. Her knees buckled and she gripped the counter top to keep from falling. Of course, she had thought of it last night. But she was so confused and exhausted from that whole ordeal. From the past few months. Honestly from way longer than that even. In the bright morning sunlight, it just seemed...worse somehow.

Squaring her shoulders, she stood up. She lifted her chin and looked at the hag in the mirror once more. Her hair had come out of the ponytail as she slept and was falling about her face. She dug deeper into the oversized bag and found her make-up case. Pulling out her brush, she focused all her attention on righting her abysmal appearance. Once that was done, she dabbed a bit of concealer on the dark circles under her eyes. She would have liked to blame a poor night's sleep cramped up in his car, but truth was that even in her bed at home she had not slept in a long while. That led her to add a bit of mascara, a touch of blush and some lip gloss.

When she was finished, the woman staring back at her was only moderately more presentable. But it would have to do for now. She had business to take care of. Top on that list...getting back to London. With or without his help. This place might appear nothing more but an island in the middle of nowhere but one thing she had learned: every poe-dunk town in this country had a train station. If necessary she would bribe that sweet young waitress to help her find it. Hell, the woman would probably fall all over herself to be rid of her and get him all to herself.

She had wasted enough time. Squaring her shoulders for battle, she turned and opened the door. She ran straight into him. His strong arms once more wrapped about her waist.

He steadied her before releasing her from his embrace, but his hand remained at the small of her back. "It took you long enough." His eyes travelled up and down her face and body. "You could have done without the makeup." He leaned in and whispered, "It doesn't put nearly as much colour in your cheeks as my kiss did."

Claire tried to shove him away but it was as futile as the fly swatting at the fly swatter as he guided her back towards their table by the window. "I came to get you because our food is here," he added as he held out the chair for her.

She wanted to argue but decided it was best to bide her time, come up with a plan and get the hell out of here and away from him. She took the chair he offered and picked up the cup of steaming, black coffee as he went around the table and took the seat across from her. Her eye brows shot up as the hot liquid scalded her throat. Its sweetness assailed her. Strong, black and sweet just the way she took her coffee.

But how did this man know that? Few people knew her personal habits, likes and dislikes. While her blog appeared completely open and transparent, the truth was that it contained very few identifying markers. She kept it that way for this very reason. The Internet was stalker heaven.

But this man knew things that no stalker would be privy to. How she liked her coffee. The fact that He would never recognize her to His family. Her mouth fell open. Only a handle full of her closest friends knew that. The shame of it something she shared only when she was at her lowest and then only with the ones that she could trust the most.

Her fingers trembled as she sat the cup back on the table. She drew in a deep breath and lifted her eyes to his. Grey-green. How had she not seen it before? Or was she simply seeing things that she wanted? Reading things into the situation that she had no right to? Goodness knows she was expert at that.

"What is your name?" she strangled past the tightness in her throat. It came out nothing more than a croaked and broken whisper. She was not certain he could even hear her.

She stared into those eyes, searched his face deeper. It had been years since she had seen a picture. She had never been much of a visual person, preferring to see people for their hearts and not their outward appearance that could be deceptive.

But the resemblance was undeniable. His dark blonde hair was longer. His unshaven face more craggy, having lost some of its boyish charm as he matured. But it suited him well. He had grown into the remarkable man that she always knew he would be.

Her eyes clouded over once more as she steadied her voice. "I asked, what is your name?"

He leaned back in his chair and smiled, "How about you guess, princess?"

She lifted the cup once more. Downed half of its contents in a single gulp with little thought to the pain its heat ignited in her throat or belly. She wished it was more of the nasty amber liquor from last night. But even that would probably not be enough Dutch courage for this situation.

Why now? After eight years when she was finally comfortable, resigned to the realities of their friendship. Hell, she had reveled in them. She had shared things with James that she had not with anyone else, safe in the knowledge that she would never have to face him. Anonymity gave her more Dutch courage than anything else. But that was not true anymore. He was here. Now. Why now, screamed her heart in symphony, echoing off the precipices of her mind.

But she knew. Knew why. Because she needed him. He had always been like that. Been there when she needed him the most. Whether to comfort or to confront her with truths she did not want to see, he seemed to just know when she needed him the most. No matter what.

"Eat. Your. Breakfast." His soothing Baritone caressed and calmed her fractured mind.

Her fingers still trembled but they lifted the heavy fork automatically. She opened her mouth and chewed without tasting. For several long moments, bite after bite, she simply obeyed without thought. In obedience she found the peace and solace that nothing else had given for months. She sank deeper into it until she stared at an empty plate. Like someone coming out of hypnosis, she looked around. What had happened?

He smiled, "That's my good girl."

She shook her head as if a fly trapped in the spider's web trying to free itself from the beautiful silken strands. "I am not your anything," she protested.

"Yes, yes you are. You always have been. My friend. My salvation. A pain in my arse. And a hell of a lot more." He raised his hand and like a servant awaiting her master's command the young waitress jumped to do his bidding.

Claire sat quietly as they chatted and transacted business. The obvious way that the waitress leaned in towards him, her coy smile was disgusting. The girl might as well crawl up on the table and spread her legs for how subtle she was being. But what the fuck did it matter to her? How long had she tried to get James laid?

She was reminded of another young woman, one that he worked with. That had chatted for months about her. James was attracted to her and from what he said it was definitely mutual. He simply could not see that though. He lacked the courage to make his move, any move. Until finally the young woman moved on. She studied him now. Did he even notice the waitress's interest? Did this man have any idea how attractive, how magnetic, how down right sexy his calm demeanor and rugged good looks made him to women?

It was a stark realisation. After His arrogance. A man that did not lord his looks, intelligence or innate dominance over women was...refreshing? But that had always been her James. Like a walk along a deserted beach, he simply calmed her and renewed her spirit. From that first email all those years ago there had been a connection.

She smiled as he handed the young woman a twenty pound note. He had called her his salvation. But that was a two-way street. She had been newly separated after almost twenty years of marriage. Her sons were both in secondary school and always out with their friends. She was alone in their small flat. Alone with her mind was never a good thing. She had played over all the mistakes of her marriage until insecurity and failure gnawed at her spirit.

She had been depressed and alone. Her 'happily' married friends had deserted her, as if divorce was a flu that could be passed from one marriage to the next. Although her boys were protective and supportive, they had lives of their own...as they should. So she spent most nights alone. She had been as pathetic then as perhaps she was now.

So pathetic that she had placed an advert for platonic email friends upon a dating website. Of course, she had gotten scores of men looking for easy sex, but there had been a handful of genuinely nice guys that she started to correspond with. But one by one they had all fallen away once they saw that she truly meant platonic friendship. Except James.

A young man only slightly older than her boys, but so incredibly different. While he had only finished secondary school, not going as her sons would to university, there was an undeniable intelligence to him. A depth of soul. An understanding of human nature that astounded her in one so young. He just simply got it; saw through facades to the core of the matter.

They had bounced dozens of emails back and forth each night after she got home for work, cooked and her sons either retreated to their rooms to revise or disappeared with friends. Some of them casual: how was your day shit. Others of them deeper.

He was so different from her boys. The outcast. Bullied at school, he had retreated to his room once he finished secondary. He came out only to work at the job his mother had gotten him at the warehouse where she worked. Otherwise he stayed in his room and played video games about which Claire knew only the names from her boys. Her mother's heart ached for his pain. She wanted to take him into her arms and heart, teach him the skills that she had her boys. Mend his broken wings and watch him soar as her sons were.

But not all of her feelings for him were so maternal. She felt the blush rising from her chest; her nipples pebbled once more even as she shifted nervously on her chair trying to scratch the itch between her thighs that had burned unquenched for eight years as she remembered how he had not stayed platonic for long.

The waitress came back with James's change. She leaned over a bit too far when she handed it to him. Had she undone a button or two on her blouse while she was in the back? Claire crossed her arms and frowned, looking away in disgust.

To give him credit, he did not tarry long. "Time to go," he said as he drained his cup of tea and placed it back on the table.

Claire debated her course of action. This conversation was intimate, too much so for a public place. But regardless of who he was, she was not getting back into that car with him until something were settled, namely taking her back to London. She drew in a deep breath and lunged ahead rashly. "Back home."

He shook his head and frowned. "No, Claire. I meant it. You need a rest. You have holed up in that flat for over three months. Not eating. Barely sleeping. And you are killing yourself. Slowly just all that coward did."

Claire's felt her cheeks redden as her anger rose once more. "Don't you talk to me about Him. You made your feelings clear a long time ago. Which is why I am not going any place with you," she pouted.

"Oh yes, Master saint. For a smart woman you sure can be a dumbass when it comes to the men you pick."

She stared at James and chuckled. "You aren't the only one that said that. He used to say I was the dumbest smart person he had ever met."

His jaw flexed as his hands tightened into a fist on the table. "Do me a favour...never compare me to that man."

"Or what?" Claire bit her lip as the words emerged from her mouth. She hated how childish she sounded. But he always seemed to bring out the worst in her...and the best.

"I have warned you once. If you act like a brat, I will treat you like one. That is twenty-five with my belt. Do it again and that doubles," he replied calmly. His eyes held her gaze until she could take it no more.

She chose instead to stare into her empty coffee cup as she spoke again. "You can't do that. You are not my Dom."

"Look at me, Claire," he commanded.

She fought herself. Obedience was the most natural thing for her, but not like this. In the end she lost the battle. As she got lost in those grey-green depths, she feared she had lost the war as well.

"That's better," he crooned. "Do you remember what you told me once upon a time? That you owed me. You called it a marker once." He paused.

Claire could never forget. It was another bad time. When James had rescued her. Again. Her first dom/sub relationship had ended very badly. The man had taken her so deeply into her truly submissive nature. Then he had abandoned her, tossed her aside for a new toy. She felt a sharp pain near her heart. Not just at that remembered pain though. Something deeper that she was not ready to face stirred in her mind and she turned away. Turned to him as she always did. She knew her voice was too weak to answer so she merely nodded her head.

It was enough of a response as he began again. "I am calling that marker now."

He waited. This pause stretching out for what seemed eternity. Claire played his words over and over in her head. Like a thousand piece jigsaw puzzle, they lay in disarray upon the table of her mind. She tried to make sense of it, but it was futile. "What do you mean you are calling it in?"

"I mean that I am not going to let you self-destruct. I am not going to stand back and watch as you climbed into the grave with that selfish bastard. I earned this marker as you call it by domming you through another asshole's mess. And that is what I am going to do again." He sighed as he shook his head, "You really do have shitty taste in men, but that is beside the point."

"My rules are simple. Until I think you are recovered, I am domming you through this. So, yes, that makes me your Dom. And you will start acting like the good little submissive we both know you are. Now," the command was clear.

Claire's mouth dropped open with shock. How many times over the past three months had she erased those words from her phone? 'Dom me through this, please.' It was exactly what she wanted, no, needed.

But did she have the strength to accept his offer? She had sworn no more. She was walking away. No more of these games. No more submission. It was too powerful a drug. Stronger than heroine or crack cocaine. It gave an Ecstasy that no chemical compound ever could. And like any drug, it robbed you of your faculties. Overrode your better judgment. And in the end left you nothing more than a broken junkie looking for your next fix.

And that was what James was offering her. Her next fix. Another high. Another rush. But she was not deluded. It would not last. It never could. She had faced that fact long ago. They would never really work.

But she remembered that crone in the mirror. She was not oblivious. She needed something. She needed this. Maybe James could be her Methadone. A less harmful alternative to the street drugs. A carefully measured dosage that would wean her from her addiction. Was it possible? Was this a blessing or a curse? Was he the best thing that had ever happened to her? Just what she needed right now? Or was he going to be the worse? The one that could destroy her as no other eve could. Not even Him.

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