Amazing Grace Ch. 03-04byD_Lynn©
A Slow Start
A slow realization crept across Ethan's face. Then it was replaced by a sad expression that I could only imagine was pity.
I wanted to crawl up in a little ball. Or, better yet, disappear. I tugged my hand free from his grasp and then checked his expression. It changed from pity to something resembling anger in a split second.
"You promised." His tone came across as a warning. I knew instantly what he was referring to. I'd promised him I wouldn't run.
"I can't take your pity, okay. So, just don't."
"I'm not going to pity you, Grace. I have too high an opinion of you to do that."
I scoffed and looked away.
Ethan snatched up my hand in his and pulled it across the table in one swift movement, drawing my attention to him. He spoke in a very controlled, even-keeled voice. "Listen to me. I can't help it if that asshole made the wrong choices. It's not what I would've done. I'll never treat you with disrespect and I expect the same from you." He took a deep breath and then continued. "This shouldn't be this hard. I like you. What I know about you, anyway. I think you're a brilliant, sensitive woman."
"You can't possibly know that from this one conversation."
"Why? Because I don't know every detail of your life? Your writing says so much about you. And the way you try to say and do the right thing, even when it would be easier to lie. I'm not saying that I know things would be great with us. I don't. You could decide in the next second that you're sick of my meddling and that would be that. There's no guarantee.
"But right now, at this very moment, I know that I like you enough to take a chance and spend more time with you. Do you think that would be possible? Because if you do, then please stop making me feel like I have to slap a collar and leash on you."
I gasped and then released a tiny chuckle at his suggestion. More so because the thought was incredibly arousing to me.
"Or maybe I should. That's the first real encouraging sign I've seen so far."
"I'm sorry. I'm not exactly in the right frame of mind for any of this."
"That's okay. Although I believe you might be more ready than you think."
"I wasn't expecting this."
"Me, either. Believe me. I've got my own shit I'm dealing with."
I looked up at him curiously. "Like what?"
"An ex-submissive, for one. Holly. Apparently you don't listen to gossip, then."
I shook my head, "No, I'm pretty out of the loop."
"Well, you'll hear sooner or later. It's not that big of a deal, but people love to talk."
"What happened between the two of you?"
"We were together for quite awhile. Over a year. She kept hinting that she wanted to be collared. I think she would've preferred a ring, actually, but that was completely out of the question.
"I sort of kept putting her off. I don't know why I didn't just end it. We didn't fit.
"Anyway, she tricked one of my friends into believing I'd sent her over to him as a birthday gift. She sent me a distressing text just before she walked up to his door, asking me to come get her at Brian's house.
"Of course, it was a setup. When I got there, she was riding him."
"Oh, God. What did you do?"
Ethan chuckled. "Nothing. I just waved and walked out."
"No. I knew what had happened before I even heard Brian's side of the story. She did it to get a rise out of me."
"What happened after that?"
"I had her things pulled together for her when she got back to the apartment. Her friend Janice was there to take her to her place. I was done."
"Did she try to talk you out of it?"
"Oh, yeah. She begged forgiveness, told me how much she loved me and all. But, that's not love. That's desperation. I was just a means to an end for her. She was using me."
"I'm sorry, that's awful."
Ethan shrugged. "It happens. In this community, shit like that happens all the time."
"I don't believe you can claim exclusive rights to infidelity."
"She wasn't cheating on me. I don't know what happened with your husband, but I suspect it was far worse than Holly's little stunt. She was topping from the bottom. Trying to force my hand. Frankly, if given the choice, I'd take infidelity."
"No you wouldn't."
Ethan nodded and closed his eyes for a brief moment. "You're right. I'm sorry."
For the first time since it had happened I felt like someone understood. My girlfriends were sympathetic with me, but I always got the impression that in the back of their mind they were wondering what was wrong with me that would make my husband run off with another woman. It's how I eventually started to look at it.
"So, where is Holly now?"
"Around. You'll run into her at some point; this community is pretty small."
"I wasn't really planning on mingling."
"So what you said to John about joining the group was bullshit to get back at me?"
I shrugged. "Kind of."
Ethan laughed and then shook his head. "I must get under your skin as much as you do mine."
"I don't know. That's something I haven't figured out, yet. It's all good, though."
"I don't know if I'm going to be any good at any of this. I've never formally done anything, and I don't own a stitch of latex clothing."
Ethan laughed, "Good. Neither do I. Anyway, we're still a along way from playing together."
"Oh. I didn't mean to presume that..."
"Okay, stop right there. I'm not saying I don't want to play with you. God, I want to more than anything, but we're not ready. As you so aptly pointed out, we hardly know each other. Especially in that way. Geez, for starters I'd like to just get through one conversation without scaring you. You are a jumpy thing. Imagine how you'd react if I pulled out my single tail bullwhip."
"You don't really have a bullwhip, do you?"
"Oh, yes I do. And I know how to use it."
Ethan smiled wickedly, "Not unless you begged me."
"I'd never do that."
His confidence sent a chill straight down my spine. It had an aphrodisiac-like effect on me. I was ashamed at myself for falling prey to it. Although I couldn't imagine any situation where I might beg to be whipped, I believed what he was saying. For some reason, I thought with him I just might do anything.
Does that thought scare me or excite me?
We sat at that coffee shop until dinner, then moved to a nearby restaurant to continue our conversation. Words were coming easier now that we had some things out in the open and settled.
I discovered he worked as a systems engineer for a company just down the street from where I worked. We'd probably been eating at the same lunchtime restaurants and passing each other on the road every day for the past four years without knowing it.
He seemed to be pretty normal to me. Stable. Fallible. Not at all like the dominant male persona you read about in so many novels. He wasn't perfect and didn't pretend to be. I think that was what drew me to him the most. He was human.
I felt comfortable enough to spill my guts about Robert's sordid affair. I expected him to try to explain Robert's actions to make me feel better. He surprised me by not doing that at all. Ethan assured me that no matter what the circumstance, he wouldn't resort to that level of deception. It just wasn't in his nature. I wanted to believe him.
No matter how much I fought it, I couldn't help myself. I kept looking for the catch. There had to be something seriously wrong with him to be that level of beautiful and be sitting there talking to me. Me. The MaryAnn of Gilligan's Island in the flesh. All wholesome and bright, not a tattoo or piercing in sight, other than my ears.
Ethan, on the other hand was loaded with tats. I only saw a sampling of them in the coffee shop, he assured me. They were true works of art and he was proud of each one. He just couldn't be any more different from me unless, of course, he turned out to be an alien. It made me more than a little uncomfortable.
Dinner went by way too fast, and before I knew it we were standing next to our cars about to say goodbye for the evening. I didn't want it to end. It was the most fun I'd had in years, sad to say. And I didn't even want to think about what that said for my marriage.
I realized only just then that Robert and I talked around things a lot. Ethan threw things on the table and talked through them. It was totally different.
A pause in our conversation signaled that the time for farewell was upon us. I looked up into Ethan's eyes for direction. He'd been doing a great job of leading so far, although I didn't consciously give him the reins.
He looked down at me, knowing what I needed. "I'm afraid if I kiss you, I won't be able to stop."
So, don't stop.
"We still have a lot of ground to cover, but I like where this is headed. Do you?"
I nodded and smiled sweetly at him. "Yes."
"Would you like to have dinner again tomorrow night?"
My smile widened until my cheeks hurt. "Yes."
"Good. Let's meet across the street at seven."
I glanced across the street. There was only one restaurant visible from where we were standing. "Okay."
"Before you let your mind go wandering down some dark path, I would pick you up for our date but I want you to have the means to run."
"Because you'll never be able to prove to me that you won't if you're trapped. Understand?"
"I think so. But I'm not going to run."
"I'd still feel more comfortable if you at least had the means. There'll be plenty of times when I won't be so generous. But that's way down the road. After you understand what I'm about and can trust me with your eyes open or shut."
"Okay. And maybe then you'll trust me, too."
"I hope so."
I went to bed that night knowing I wasn't going to get a wink of sleep. I replayed the bits and pieces of our conversation in my mind. I could vividly picture his smile, his scowl, the deep line that creased the center of his forehead when he concentrated on what I was saying. I lifted his stocking cap to my face when he went to the restroom just so I could breathe in his scent. That is, until the waiter returned to our table and gave me a strange look.
It was all surreal. A dream. Not perfect, but perfectly real. I felt more comfortable telling him things about myself in that first meeting than I'd felt after four years of marriage to Robert.
I tried to recall our early courtship. With Robert, everything had seemed so perfect in the beginning. We dated. Made out in the backseat of his car like teenagers before we had our own place. His parents liked me and my parents loved him. Even our first time was straight out of a fairy tale, complete with picnic lunch and all.
We dated for a year before he asked me to marry him. I thought for sure it was the real thing. Another year and we would've tried for children. It was all in the plan. Our plan. Or my plan, anyway. Somewhere along the line Robert's plan changed.
I chuckled at the thought of Ethan and I sharing a picnic lunch and making love beneath an old oak tree. Somehow I knew that Ethan's idea of a picnic lunch would probably include me being tied to the tree. You won't find that in Grimm's Fairy Tales.
And I shuddered to think of my mom and dad's reaction to his tattoos. They'd most certainly think I'd fallen off the reservation on that premise alone. They had no idea that I wrote erotic BDSM fiction on the side, or that I'd gotten such ideas from my boyfriend before Robert. Hell, even Robert didn't know that.
It didn't matter. Ethan wasn't a meet the parents kind of guy. Marriage and settling down in the traditional sense wasn't in his repertoire. He'd so much as said so when he referred to his ex-girlfriend, or sub, or whatever she was. And that was fine with me, actually. I was still a far cry from stable.
By the time Friday rolled around, we'd been on four dates. The only night we missed was Wednesday and that was because Ethan had to work late upgrading some software or something. I tried to follow along but he tended to geek out on me at times. He called me when he got home and we talked until bedtime.
Things remained pretty tame with us. We hugged at the end of each date, and Ethan would kiss me on the cheek, but that was about it. I was getting worried.
But Friday started out differently.
For the first time, he picked me up at my house for our date. I felt so special when he opened my door for me and ushered me to the passenger seat of his car. It was such a small thing, but it felt more like a date than any of the other nights.
He was just plain Ethan in the restaurant, though. The man whose face I'd come to know better than my own. Even with the thousand expressions that came along with it. He had become my best friend. My confidant. And as the night wore on, I wondered if that's all we were going to be.
When he walked me up to my house, leaving the car running in the driveway, I couldn't hide my disappointment. What started out different was going to end the same as every other night.
He noticed my change in demeanor right away. "What's wrong, baby?"
I wanted him to leave it be and go on, so I just shook my head.
He tilted my chin up until my eyes met his. "Don't leave me now. Talk to me."
"I thought maybe you'd, you know, stay."
"You wanna have sex, is that what you're saying?"
"I thought we could give it a try, yeah."
Ethan frowned in amusement at me. I couldn't quite figure out where he was coming from. My first reaction was to become hurt by the refusal that was about to cross his lips. So, I did the respectable thing. I let him off the hook before he could break my heart.
"Look, forget I mentioned it. It's okay." I turned toward my door.
My shoulders dropped as I heaved a sigh.
"Why don't you ask me why my car is still running?"
I spun toward him. "So you can get away faster?"
"No. So I can get a head start while you pack your things for the weekend."
"I was about to ask you to come to my place."
"I know what you thought. And I understand why your negative thoughts can't help themselves. It's why I've waited until now to even suggest this. But I'm tired of waiting. I need to know how this is going to work out. I want you to drive to my place, though."
"Why? Do you still honestly think I might run?"
He clasped my arms in his grip to hold me still. "This isn't going to be all rose petals and wine. I don't have some secret Dom radar that magically turns me into a super-human lover, you know. I'll be getting to know you just like you will me. It may not be perfect at first. I need to know that you're willing to talk to me, not blow me off like you almost did here a few minutes ago. You know what I'm saying, Grace?"
"I know what you're saying. I'm sorry I did that. It wasn't fair. Especially after how honest you've been with me. But do I have to drive?"
"Why is that an issue with you?"
"Because it feels more like you're in control when you drive."
"Oh, honey, I'll be in control once we get in the house. Trust me. Why do you think I want a head start? I've got bindings and cuffs to lay out..."
My jaw dropped and I'm pretty sure all the blood drained from my face.
"What? You didn't actually think we were going to have vanilla sex, did you?"
Ethan pulled me toward him and kissed me on the cheek. Then he whispered in my ear, "Just call me if you change your mind, otherwise, don't be long. I've been looking forward to this all week."
His whispered words weakened my knees. I felt a rush of warmth in the crotch of my panties. The wait had placed me right on the edge of release.
A Night of Firsts
My mind was one jumbled mess the entire drive to his house. I was too excited to even focus on being nervous. Or vice versa, I'm not sure.
He opened the door and was standing in the threshold by the time I turned off the car. He held out his hand for my bag as I approached and I handed it to him without hesitation.
"This is your last chance to run tonight, Grace. I can't guarantee you'll have another opportunity after we get inside. At least not until tomorrow sometime."
"What are you planning to do with me?"
Ethan smiled, "Everything. Anything I can think of that my heart desires."
"Well, more like my dick at this point. I want you to promise to be honest, okay? When I ask you if something hurts, you have to tell me."
"Now you're starting to scare me."
"Good. You should be scared."
"This isn't at all how I thought it would be?"
"Yeah, well, don't believe everything you read." Ethan winked and smiled. "I have a feeling that after this weekend, your writing is going to change dramatically."
"Oh, God. Ethan..."
He pulled me into his house and shut the door behind me. "You'll be fine. I'm telling you all this to prevent you from getting hurt. Not the opposite. Come here."
He pulled me toward him and pressed his lips to mine. Sweetly at first, gently coaxing me to relax and open to him. His tongue very softly swiped my lower lip until I dropped my jaw, then it moved past my lips and invaded my mouth. I moaned and the corners of his mouth curled slightly into a smile as he continued to kiss me.
That little speech he'd given me outside about the first time not being perfect must've been some kind of joke. He was positively brimming with confidence in his ability to please a woman.
His palm curled around my neck to hold me in place while he ravished my mouth. After a few seconds, my head was spinning with lust and I was gripping his arms to keep myself standing.
He pulled away, holding me up by the back of my neck until I got my bearings and stood upright on my own. "Come with me." Ethan led me by my wrist to his bedroom.
I don't know what I was expecting, exactly. A St. Andrew's cross? Shackles hanging from the ceiling? A stockade headboard?
His bed was completely normal. Boring, even. Plain white sheets and a solid green comforter atop a regular mattress. No mirrors on the ceiling, no suspicious wedge in the center of the bed.
Ethan chuckled at my expression and the way my eyes darted about the room looking for signs of kink. "Disappointed?"
"No. Well, kind of."
"What were you expecting?"
"I don't know. Something out of the ordinary, though. This is so...plain."
Ethan laughed out loud. "Sorry to disappoint you."
"No, I'm not disappointed."
"Yes you are. I have all sorts of medieval devices if you really want me to bring them out. I thought it would sort of ruin the mood if you were scared out of your wits."
"I see your point."
"I like that we're taking things slow, Grace. I'm enjoying getting to know you."
Ethan kissed me several times in a row. Little chaste kisses like he was teasing me. Then he pressed harder, forcing me to yield and easing me backward toward the bed until my calves were against the side of the mattress.
"Besides, kink isn't really measured by the number of devices one uses."
Ethan's hand moved over my breast through my shirt. He held my gaze as he palmed first one breast and then both. A hot rush crawled up my neck and over my cheeks. The lustful way he looked at me as he worked my breasts in his hands dumbfounded me completely. It was so ... intimate. Invasive. And such a turn-on.
He lifted my shirt over my head and released my bra before I even realized what was happening. Then his bare hands were on me, kneading my flesh and tugging at my nipples.
I needed him to kiss me. I tilted my head upward and he chuckled.
"You're not getting away that easy. I'm not going to let you hide behind a kiss, baby." I whined my displeasure. "I wouldn't do that if I were you. I don't like whining."