Culture Shock 22/23


Culture Shock 22/23Woodenly Elaine made her way up the stairs. She held the railing, steadying herself. Her legs were like jelly and she had to stop a couple of times. Despite the feeling of taking one step forward, two steps back, she was wiping her feet on the mat and sliding her key into the front door in less than a minute. I wish I could stop thinking. Maybe I could take a nap…Inside the apartment Elaine was somewhat surprised. Her roommates were on speed! Or at least that’s how it seemed. Before Elaine stepped two feet inside the door Chelsea raced past, handing her a glass of wine. Had she been watching from the window? Unlikely.”Thanks,” Elaine said, taking it and raising her eyebrow. Half naked in a loosely held together towel, Kendra rushed by in the opposite direction. “There’s cheese and crackers on the kitchen table and the shower is all yours!” “Um, okay,” Elaine replied as Kendra disappeared into her room. “Thank you!” What was going on?Elaine dropped her backpack by her bedroom door and sat on the side of the bed, sipping the wine. She smiled and shook her head at the commotion outside. It was like a military exercise. Someone yelled, ‘Five minutes!’ which was kind of funny because Elaine was sure Kendra and Chelsea didn’t have to be at work until seven.She sighed. Everything seemed strange. Even her room looked different. She needed to rest. After placing the wineglass on her bedside table, Elaine lay on her back and relaxed. I’ll just close my eyes for a minute. But as soon as she did, the thoughts that had haunted her all afternoon bubbled to the surface yet again.I’m closing one chapter and opening another. An ending, and a new beginning. Will I be the same person after I sign my name? Or will I become someone different? I couldn’t have been wrong, could I? I feel like a bomb, about to explode. Ticking… Ticking…Elaine glanced over at the clock. Five twenty-two P.M. Two hours and eight minutes. She took a shuddering breath. Aw, man. I don’t know if I can do this… I don’t have a life-long friend in whom I can confide. Parents? Grandparents? Aunts or uncles? No. The k**s I grew up with in high school? No. The weird k** my brother played soccer with in the fourth grade? Sighs. No. Counsellors? Librarians? Workmates? The guy on the bus? No. A complete stranger I met on the subway one time? No. A barman? A hairdresser? A taxi driver? A waitress? No. No. No. No.It’s such a personal decision. People on the outside can’t help. Thank God I have a beautiful dress to wear. If this all gets shot to hell, at least I’ll go out in style…Knock, knock, knock!Nervously Elaine sat up. Her smiling roommates appeared in her open doorway, almost like twins in their matching uniforms. “Hiiiii!!!” they said in unison.Elaine’s hackles bristled. When her roommates worked together like this, it was rarely good news. “What’s up?” she asked.Chelsea and Kendra looked at each other and giggled. Chelsea said, “We’re all done, and we’re more than an hour early. Everything is ready for you. Candles, bath is drawn, oils, the lot.”Kendra piped up. “I’ll iron your dress, where is it?” Incredulous, Elaine pointed to the bags by the door, next to Kendra’s feet. Kendra smiled and picked them both up, quickly looking in the Victoria’s Secret one and saying, “Cool,” then passing it to Chelsea who also took a peek.”Nice,” Chelsea said, smiling and placing the bag back by the door. “Now, did you think of shoes?”Elaine figured she’d wear her off-white pair. They didn’t exactly match but she didn’t have much choice. It would be fine. The dress went all the way to the floor. She certainly couldn’t afford new shoes anyway. “Yeah, I was going to wear my off-white pumps, the open-toed ones.””Oh, wow,” said Kendra, holding Elaine’s dress in front of her. “This is gorgeous.””You can’t wear off-white with this,” said Chelsea, holding out the shimmering skirt and admiring it. Turning to Elaine, she asked, “You’re a nine, aren’t you?”Elaine nodded, again speechless.”Then you can borrow something of mine. C’mon, come and choose.” Chelsea held out her hand and Elaine climbed to her feet, stiffly walking across her room.Kendra folded the dress over her arm, and the three of them stood in the doorway. Elaine finally managed to form words. “This is really weird.””Is that all you can say?” asked Chelsea, nudging Kendra. Elaine wasn’t sure what to think. “Why are you doing this?”Kendra and Chelsea looked at each other. “She never ‘gets’ anything, does she?” asked Chelsea.Kendra smiled and spoke as if Elaine wasn’t even there. “She’s incredibly literal, suspicious, and unfortunately very smart. If she were more of a dope she could communicate on our level.”Chelsea giggled. “You’re a nut, Kendra.””Yeah, well I still say you should have been a cheerleader.””Whoa, whoa. What are you two talking about?” asked Elaine. The girls looked at each other, then at Elaine.”It’s a special night for you,” said Kendra, shrugging.”Yeah,” agreed Chelsea.”Huh?””We wanted to do something for you,” said Kendra. “Look. To this day, even though we don’t exactly get on, Chelsea and I have never had a problem with you. You more than pull your weight. You’re even a steadying influence on us.””She’s right, you know,” said Chelsea. “We’ve both started to look at ourselves differently because of you. Seeing you get all excited about this guy has shown me how jaded I’ve become. I need to get on with my life, and you’ve shown me that.”Kendra said, “And I need to be more honest with myself and less defensive. I ah,” she hesitated and glanced at Chelsea. “I told Chelsea I’m gay.””No way,” said Elaine.”Uh huh. She’s gonna take a while getting used to the idea.” She shrugged. “So am I.””I just don’t believe it really,” said Chelsea. “I mean, girl, I’ve heard you.””And I’ve heard you, squealer. Doesn’t mean I connect, though. Honestly, I never have.””Well, anyway. It doesn’t bother me either way,” said Chelsea. Turning to Elaine, she said, “Kendra thought it would be a problem, but there are girls on the basketball team who are gay. It’s never worried me before.”Kendra was smiling now. “I never knew that. You always made fun of lesbians.””So did you!””Yeah. Well… So who’s gay on the ball team?”Chelsea shook her head and laughed. “Go do some ironing. I’ll tell you later.””Awwww.” Kendra giggled and winked at Elaine before taking off, yelling back, “I’ll hang this on your door when I’m done.” Chelsea smiled at Elaine. “Okay, let’s get those shoes, then you can have a bath.”*********************** Elaine thought luxuriating in a bubble bath with fragrant oils, while sipping wine by candlelight was about as close to heaven as she’d ever been. After twenty minutes, Chelsea even returned to top up her wine and the hot water. Elaine felt like a princess. She closed her eyes and relaxed, basking in the opportunity to shed some stress. Sometime later someone knocked softly on the bathroom door. “Come in.”Chelsea opened it about halfway. “We’re going. Everything is ready. I rang my boss and he’s okay with me leaving in an emergency, okay?”In her daze, Elaine had forgotten all about that. She couldn’t believe it. “Gosh, thanks Chelsea. That’s a big relief.””Cool. So where is he taking you, anyway?””De chainey or something, I’m not sure how it’s pronou-“”No way!” Chelsea turned to yell down the hall. “Hey Kendra, you gotta hear this!””What is it?” Kendra asked breathlessly, arriving in the doorway. Chelsea asked Elaine, “Where is he taking you again?””De chainey?” she replied, thinking her French was atrocious.”That’s awesome!” said Kendra.Elaine wasn’t sure what was going on. “Why?”Chelsea was grinning. “Because it’s where we work, you ninny!””Aw, man,” said Elaine. “I better call Gary and change the venue.” She winked.”NO!” her roommates cried gleefully. Elaine smiled and shook her head.”Wait a minute,” said Chelsea. “Can you be ready in fifteen minutes? We could take you! We still should be there by seven. We were going to be early for Kendra’s first day.””Fifteen minutes?” pondered Elaine. “I guess so. I still have forty-five minutes though, don’t I?””Yeah, but at least you won’t be late. You’d have to call a taxi now anyway, and you can’t rely on a taxi, not on a night like this!””Besides,” said Kendra. “You can wait in the car at the restaurant. You’ll even see when he arrives.””Good Lord.” Elaine sighed. Points of no return seemed to be flying by. But it was probably a good idea. “Okay. Just give me a minute.”The door abruptly closed and her roommate’s muffled chatter receded down the hall. Elaine climbed out of the bath, towelled off and powdered herself while it emptied. She brushed her teeth then quickly dried her hair and ran a wide-toothed comb through it. Wrapping a towel around herself, she opened the door then grabbed her wine and blew out the candles.Kendra and Chelsea were waiting in her room. “I called work,” said Chelsea. “And just this once we can be ten minutes late. So I’ll do your makeup.” “And I’ll do your hair. I know how you like it,” said Kendra.”Guys, you’ve done enough. You don’t have to,” Elaine protested. “I’ll be quick.”Chelsea rolled her eyes and said, “Nonsense. And make a mess of it? Tell me you’re not nervous. Show me your hands.”Elaine held out her hands and was astonished to see her fingers trembling like she’d been using a jackhammer. “Um, yeah,” she muttered. “Okay.””I told you,” said Chelsea. “Now put your ass in the chair.” Chelsea pointed to the chair that normally had laundry piled kocaeli escort bayan up on it. Kendra was standing behind it; tapping it with her fingers and smiling. Elaine’s laundry had been folded up in the corner. She hoped it didn’t smell funny. Chelsea was behind her computer chair and the two chairs were facing each other in front of the mirror on her dresser. They weren’t taking no for an answer. Shuffling over wrapped only in a towel, Elaine slumped in the offered chair and sighed. Chelsea sat down in front of her and started rattling off questions about what she wanted. Kendra’s fingers were in her hair doing God knows what. It all became a bit of a blur. She wanted to see herself in the mirror but was side on to it. Each time she tried to look, Chelsea or Kendra would admonish her and guide her head forward again.So instead she stared at her dress. Her glistening, deep purple dress. She could hardly believe it was actually hers. The guy at the store was surprised it didn’t need altering. ‘It’s like it was made for you, sweetie!’ She smiled.She couldn’t see a wrinkle in the silk. Kendra had done a fine job. Elaine’s eyes kept wandering to the bodice. It was awesome with the delicate lace stitched into it in a Celtic-like design. It was subtle and pretty, and at the same time, ageless. It wasn’t the kind of thing she normally had the chance to wear. She prayed it wouldn’t be the last. She had thought the dress would be the one good thing that would come out of it, if it all went belly-up. But now she’d changed her mind. Now she thought it would be a reminder of her failure. She blinked away a tear before it could form. Chelsea hadn’t noticed. Elaine sighed.If tonight is a disaster, I’ll never wear it again.What a shame that would be…”I’m done here,” said Kendra, tugging gently at the twin tendrils hanging down either side of Elaine’s face. “I’ll be done with her lips in a minute,” replied Chelsea.Kendra came around from behind Elaine and leaned on the back of Chelsea’s chair. She smiled and shook her head, examining Elaine’s face and hair. “You look great,” she whispered.Elaine breathed hard. Her mouth was open and Chelsea was painting her lips after outlining them. Elaine hadn’t even noticed what colour she had chosen. Kendra’s words were encouraging, but barely enough to make Elaine smile. Without moving her head, she glanced over at the clock. It was almost seven. SEVEN!Oh. My. God.”Elaine?” asked Chelsea.”Huh?” she responded, a million miles away.”Are you okay?””Um… Yeah, I guess.””You look a bit green. And you’re breathing hard.””Do you want a glass of water?” asked Kendra.”Yes, please. I’ll be all right. Keep going.”Kendra hurried off while Chelsea finished Elaine’s lips. She seemed satisfied as she held Elaine’s chin and turned her face from side to side. “Perfect,” she decided as Kendra returned. Elaine took the offered water and drank almost half of it before putting the glass on her dresser.”Wow, that’s better” said Kendra, standing back. “You’ve got your colour back. You look fantastic.””She’s stunning,” said Chelsea, smiling. Elaine’s hands felt sweaty and she wiped them on the towel wrapped around her. “Can I see now?””Sure you can,” said Chelsea. Elaine’s roommates beamed at her. She took a deep breath and turned toward the mirror and for a moment, she stared. Elaine’s heart pounded in her ears. She hadn’t been sure what to expect, but the vision staring back at her from the mirror certainly didn’t reflect her mood. What she saw looked like something out of a magazine. Her makeup was subtle and toned to her skin. Her eyes seemed wider and intent, yet darker. The brown irises looked almost black. Combined with the thin mascara and light lash enhancer, the slightly reddish tone of the eye shadow gave Elaine a mysterious, almost Gothic look. The corners of her mouth bent into the beginnings of a smile, revealing the hint of gleaming white teeth. Elaine noticed her lips. They were lustrous and dark red like blood. She ran the tip of her tongue across the lower one and was amazed at how full they looked. She smiled a little more, looking back up to her eyes, then to her hair.For a few months now Elaine had kept her shoulder-length dark brown hair in a manageable ‘shaggy’ style, though lately she’d become a bit bored with it. Somehow Kendra had performed a miracle with it, teasing it and shaping it with just gel, a comb and a blow dryer. She’d swept most of it back, apart from two twisted tendrils that hung down either side, framing Elaine’s face. Her roommates were now standing behind Elaine, admiring their work as they all looked in the mirror. Elaine had to admit she was impressed. What they had done was perfect. Taking a deep breath, she whispered, “Thank you.” She couldn’t hold their gaze, despite their tender smiles. She had to try not to cry. She reached for a tissue and dabbed the corners of her eyes, just in case.”We better go,” said Chelsea softly, patting Elaine’s shoulder.”Do you need a hand with your dress?” asked Kendra.”Um, no,” replied Elaine, remembering she wasn’t to wear underwear. She didn’t really want to share that. She could feel herself blushing at the thought. “Just give me a minute. You guys can go warm up the car if you want.”Chelsea asked, “Are you sure?” “Yeah,” answered Elaine. “I’ll be fine. I’ll be right down. And thanks again.” Turning back to the mirror, she fixed her eyes on her reflection. “I can’t believe it.””See you downstairs then,” said Chelsea, taking Kendra’s arm. “You’ve got five minutes,” Kendra said as they hustled out.Elaine closed her door and carefully laid the dress on her bed. Sinking to her knees, from under the bed she pulled out her overnight bag. It was mostly packed. In moments she’d added her toys and her folder and notes and two textbooks to her clothes for the weekend. Her bedroom wear was in there. She blushed. She zipped it up and tried to think of anything she might have forgotten. But there was only one thing on her mind.No underwear. Elaine was already squishy and hot. Thinking about going naked under a beautiful silk dress only made it worse. She just knew she was going to stain the back of it. Setting her jaw, she stood and dropped the towel. She had to check and was horrified by the slickness she encountered. I can’t go like this, she thought, grabbing some tissues. Not sitting in the car all the way there! Her heart started hammering. I’ll make a fool of myself! Then she had a brainstorm. She’d wear her black bikini knickers until she got there. Once her roommates had left and she was waiting for Gary, she’d slip them off and hide them in her purse. Finding them at the bottom of the underwear drawer, she slipped them on. They were a bit tatty and tight, but Elaine didn’t care. They did the job.Gary wouldn’t want me to embarrass myself. All I have to do is remember to take them off.Stepping into the dress, Elaine fitted the bodice and zipped up the hidden zipper in the skirt. After lacing up the back, she checked that it looked okay. She slipped on the low-heeled, black sling-backs Chelsea had let her borrow and held up the hem of the dress to admire them. They were suede and pointy and had little sparkly diamantes on them. She swirled her foot under the light and watched them glitter. I better hurry up.Remembering she wanted something pretty around her neck, Elaine turned around and her jaw dropped. In the reflection of her mirror, she saw someone else. Not Elaine Milanovic. Not Elaine the wannabe rebel. Not the college student with grandiose plans for changing the world. Not the standoffish half-girl, half-woman hell bent on self-control. Here was someone different. She wasn’t sure if seeing herself as someone else was good or bad. Her hands shook and she wrung them out. Maybe she wasn’t someone new. Maybe she was someone more.She wished she had time to think. But she had to hurry. In moments Elaine was trolling through her jewellery box, finding her gold diamond studs and matching gold necklace. Her chest rose and fell rapidly as she clicked closed the short, thin gold chain around her neck. The tiny gold heart at its centre barely hung to the notch between her collarbones.All right, she thought, on the verge of hyperventilation. I’m ready.Elaine grabbed lipstick, cell phone, some tissues, money and cards, and fumbled to put them all in her little black purse. Picking up her overnight bag, she stopped to take one last look. One way or another, she was about to learn a hell of a lot more about herself. I’m off to see the wizard, she though strangely, feeling a hot blush creep up her cheeks.************************* “If he’s here already, I’ll open and close the curtains in that window, okay?” said Chelsea, pointing through the windscreen. Elaine nodded from the backseat. Chelsea had parked virtually under a streetlight in the parking lot, in clear view of the front door and affording little anonymity. It was a comfortable night, neither warm nor cool; yet Elaine could feel the perspiration forming on her top lip. She’d never been more nervous in her life and her mouth felt like it was full of cotton wool.Kendra twisted the rear view mirror toward herself, checking her hair and makeup. She could see Elaine in the corner of the mirror. Elaine looked down at her hands. “Hey,” said Kendra.Elaine looked up. “Y… Yes?””Wish me luck?””Jeez. I’m sorry. I forgot it was your first day. Good luck, I’m um… I’m sure you’ll do fine.””You’re forgiven.” She smiled. izmit escort bayan “I promise I won’t spill anything on you.” “That would be good.””C’mon,” said Chelsea. “We better go in.”Kendra said, “Okay.” Twisting back the mirror, she turned and addressed Elaine directly. “Just remember you are special. Make sure he treats you with respect.”Chelsea smiled. “That’s good advice. I’d also suggest you have a couple of glasses of wine to settle your nerves, and then drink water. You don’t want to ruin things by getting too tipsy. Stay completely alert. It feels fantastic, Elaine. You’ll want to remember every moment.””I’m not sure if I can eat or drink anything.””He seems like the kind of guy who knows what he’s doing,” said Chelsea. “Just let him take control.””Y… You’re probably right.” Elaine was sure Chelsea had no idea she was so perceptive. “Okay. It’s nearly quarter past. We gotta go. We’ll see you inside.” The interior light flashed on as the girls opened the doors. “Wait!””What is it?” asked Kendra. “What’s up?” asked Chelsea, waiting for Elaine to speak.”What if it doesn’t work out? It’ll be awkward. What will I do?””You’ve got your phone, don’t you? Call one of us from the ladies bathroom,” said Chelsea. “We’ll figure something out. Don’t worry.””Um. Yeah. Okay. I guess.””Everything is going to be fine,” said Kendra. “You’re beautiful, and he’s going to love you.”Elaine swallowed. “I hope so.””See you inside.””Okay.”In moments they’d left, closing the doors with twin thuds and reintroducing the comforting darkness and shadows. Elaine watched her roommates walk to the front door and wave back before entering Déchaînée. In seconds the curtains in the designated window opened and closed twice.Shit. He’s here.All Elaine could hear was her ragged breath. With her heart thumping, she hesitated. She had to slip off her knickers yet. Wishing it were darker, she glanced around and hoped she was alone in the parking lot. With difficulty, she worked her underwear over her hips, but in the restricted space of the backseat, she simply wasn’t able to get them off without seriously wrinkling her dress. It was a blessing in disguise really. If she’d managed it, she’d almost certainly have left a wet spot on the back of her dress. Instead, she opened the door and got out, leaving her overnight bag to be collected later.Standing beside the car, purse in hand and giving her surroundings a fleeting once over, she shimmied out of the soaked and uncomfortable panties, letting them fall to her feet. She stepped out of them and looked around again before looking down. “Oh, my,” she mumbled. They were useless and she wasn’t putting them in her purse! Kicking them under the car, she decided she’d excuse herself and go to the bathroom to ‘freshen up’ before doing anything. After that, all she could do was hope.A lone car drove past. For a moment Elaine wished she were somewhere else. Someplace safe. Someplace away. She shook her head to clear it. I AM safe.Weakly reassured, she took a step and her knees buckled. She caught herself, leaning on the hood of the car. It was still warm. She blinked.He’s going to fuck me on the hood of his car!Again Elaine looked up at the restaurant. She felt faint. Somehow it looked further away. Taking deep breaths, she tried to confront the rampant anxiety ambushing her.Get a hold of yourself!It’s just dinner. I’ll be okay. I can pull out any time. She clenched her fists in determination.C’mon, it’s just nerves. Rolling her shoulders, she stood up straight and huffed. Everything is going to be all right. It’s a learning experience. I want to know.I NEED to know.Putting one foot in front of the other, in no time Elaine found herself at the door of the restaurant. Here goes nothing, she thought, pulling it open.Stepping inside, she found it unnervingly warm. Chelsea hung to the side, hands behind her back and sporting a huge smile. The Maitre’d stepped in front of Elaine and in a thick French accent asked if she had a booking. Almost choking on her words, she managed, “Duke.””Ah, oui,” said the Maitre’d, straightening a little. “Monsieur is waiting for you. He requested a booth in the back.” By his tone, Elaine was certain this was somehow inconvenient. “Follow me, Mademoiselle.”Taking the side of her skirt in her hand so she wouldn’t trip over it, she followed the feisty little man, noticing Chelsea right behind her, grinning madly. Elaine continued to take deep breaths. She wished her roommates knew what she was getting into. Then they’d understand. Or could they? Maybe they had no way of understanding what turned Elaine on. Maybe they lacked the ability to perceive the mental freedom and physical ecstasy possible in D/s. Well, duh. As if they would. They were vanilla, through and through, trapped by the world as it appeared to be. What was it my mom always used to say? ‘You can do anything.’ Well, does ‘anything’ include choosing how I live my life? Does ‘anything’ include deciding to do something different to the norm? To break the mould? To be truly and actually independent? To me, the choice is physically, mentally and emotionally valid. It’s what I want.Yet even now, following this strange man into the dark recesses of the restaurant, Elaine felt the ‘press’ of the vanilla world. Like Chelsea right now, it would always be with her. Trailing her. Dogging her. She’d never be free of the vanilla expectations of the world around her. Ever.And that’s okay. It’s not something everyone has to know.It was private. It was between Elaine and Gary. As if by magic her destiny loomed in front of her, standing and smiling as she approached. He looked sexy and commanding in his dark suit. He seemed larger than she remembered. He positively towered over her. Or perhaps she shrank in his presence. “Hello, Elaine,” Gary said, his deep voice slicing her right down the middle.”H… Hello, Gary,” Elaine replied, avoiding his eyes. She knew she’d be lost if she fell into them.”You are on time.”She swallowed. “Yes. I… I promised I would be.””I like honoured promises. Yours and mine.” He held out his hand.Elaine knew she was supposed to take it in hers. So reluctantly she did. But she hedged her movement, staying put in front of him. Nervously glancing around, she wondered whether it was the exit or the ladies room she was trying to find. “I just…” She swallowed and damned her dry mouth. “Please let me use the bathroom before I join you.””Of course,” said Gary, pointing into the darkness. “It’s through there.” Sticking to her plan, Elaine found the bathroom and headed for the first cubicle. It wasn’t easy, but she managed to clean up. While washing her hands, she checked herself in the mirror provided. Kendra came flying through the bathroom door like it had been wedged closed. “Is everything all right? Chelsea said you’d hardly talked to him at all!””Yeah. Everything’s fine. I’m just, you know, freaking out…” Elaine checked her appearance again and dabbed cold water on her neck. It felt better than anything. “Is there anything I can get you?” asked Kendra. “No. I’ll be okay,” Elaine answered.”As long as you’re sure…””I’ll be fine. Honestly.” She was feeling better. Smiling at her reflection, she dried her hands and said, “I just needed a minute.” “All right,” said Kendra, still sounding unconvinced. “Let me know if you are in trouble.””Really, Kendra. You can stop worrying.””Okay.”Behind her departing roommate, Elaine watched as the door swung slowly closed. Taking another deep breath, she leaned on the sink. Okay, take two.************************** Gary stood and stepped out from behind the table. He greeted Elaine again and offering his hand, palm up. Elaine slipped her own into it and thanked him. Naturally he drew her closer and this time she stepped forward. Without raising her eyes, she asked, “M… May I say something?” She glanced around and made sure no one was within earshot. Lowering her voice, she added, “Please, Sir?””Of course,” said Gary softly. “But look at me when you are speaking.”She gulped. “Yes, Sir.”For the first time that night, Elaine looked right at Gary. In an instant she was gone. Everything melted. Inside and out. Melted away to nothing. Gone was her concern over the presence of her roommates. Gone were the booth and the table and candles. All that existed was Gary. Somehow simultaneously there was a hardness and a softness in his eyes that was riveting. Almost hypnotising. It took her breath away. And when he spoke, his words became her world. “What troubles you, little one?””I… I’ll probably stain this beautiful dress as soon as I sit down,” she confessed. He smiled down on her and she couldn’t help but smile back. “You are dazzling.”Elaine’s breath caught in her throat, and she emitted the barest peep. “Oh…””I’d like to hug you.””P… Please,” she managed.His strong arms enveloped her and she sighed, resting her cheek against his chest and closing her eyes. She could hear his beating heart. It sounded almost as fast as hers. He leaned down a little, and his cheek brushed against her forehead lightly. His cologne was intoxicating. Elaine’s arms held him tightly and she could feel his muscles right through his suit. She swooned.He whispered, “Better?”Elaine nodded. “Yes. Th… Thank you.”Lifting Elaine’s chin with his fingertip, their eyes met as Gary spoke deliberately. “My pleasure.”Elaine held on as her heart fluttered. It was all she could do. Her body flushed hotly and her gebze escort legs felt weak. Five minutes ago she wanted to be somewhere else, and now she just wanted to be alone with him!”What am I going to do?” she pleaded.He smiled gently. “About what?”She couldn’t help smiling too. “About, you know… messing my dress.””Your dress?” he asked with a cheeky smile. “I’m sorry. I don’t know what you mean. You’ll have to be much more explicit.”Elaine looked around. Her roommates were standing by the entrance to the kitchen about twenty-five feet away. They both had huge grins on their faces. For a minute she’d completely forgotten about them. She smiled back, then thought she’d better inform Gary of their presence. “My roommates…” she began.”Yeah, I remembered them from the coffee shop. And they introduced themselves. They seemed… like college girls.”Kendra and Chelsea abruptly headed into the kitchen as though called away. Elaine leaned back and looked up at Gary. “But I’m a college girl.””You’re not the average, garden-variety college girl, Elaine.”With a sheepish grin, she responded, “You say the sweetest things, Sir.” Suddenly remembering she hadn’t answered his question, Elaine broke his gaze. “And um,” she whispered. “About my dress… I just meant when I sit, I’m going to leave a wet spot at the back of it.” She blushed crimson. “Much better,” said Gary. “Good girl.” Elaine slid her arms from around him as he took her shoulders in his hands. “Look at me.” She did. He was smiling warmly.Gently he took her hand. “Come and sit with me.”It wasn’t a question. She nodded breathlessly. “Yes, Sir.”Gary guided Elaine into the booth before sliding in beside her. The booth itself was designed to hold four, but only two settings had been placed and the lighting was intimate. A single, tall slim candle lit their faces in a soft, flickering glow. Candles and dim sconces high on the walls were all that lit the cosy restaurant, and in the background traditional French music played. In moments Kendra arrived offering water nervously. Elaine nodded appreciatively when Kendra glanced at her, pouring the glasses. Chelsea glided to the table and asked Gary if he’d like his wine opened, an aperitif before dinner, or to wait. He asked for the wine and Chelsea disappeared with Kendra close behind. She soon returned with the bottle and bucket of ice and proceeded to professionally uncork and pour a taste of the sparkling liquid into Gary’s goblet.Elaine smiled. She always thought it was a funny ritual if you brought the wine with you. But she also thought Gary was sexy doing it. He caught her eye and winked. Realising she was staring, she blushed a little and thanked Chelsea as she filled her glass and left menus. Chelsea said she’d return to take their orders shortly. And they were alone again.Gary picked up his wine and nodded to Elaine, encouraging her to do likewise. Proposing a toast, he said, “To journeys… May they never end.”Elaine softly repeated, “To journeys.” She took a small sip of the wine and was surprised by how good it tasted. She nursed the glass in her slender fingers and looked up at Gary. They were so close their shoulders were almost touching. He put his glass down and turned toward her. Tilting his head a little, he smiled knowingly. Elaine blushed more strongly. Her skin was tingling. When Gary grinned openly, she couldn’t help but ask, “Do I have parsley in my teeth?” She stifled a giggle.Gary chuckled and shook his head. Elaine took another sip of the smooth dry wine before he asked, “In your dreams and fantasies, was it ever like this?””Y… Yes.”Gary reached up, his fingertips barely brushing Elaine’s cheek. “This is real.”Elaine nodded.”Letting go is the hardest part. It’s not a light switch. It’s a process. And it starts here. Tonight. Now.”Elaine swallowed. “I… I understand.””I’m going to make your dreams and fantasies seem insignificant.” Elaine shuddered. Her pussy clenched and she almost dropped her wine. Gary took it from her hand and put it on the table in front of her. “Are you okay?” he whispered, taking her hands in his.”Y… Yes,” said Elaine. “I think I just ruined my dress.”Gary chuckled again and said, “That’s all right. I’ll cover you when we leave.”To Elaine, his reference to leaving ‘together’ was unnerving. Surely he’ll give me another chance to back out…”That is,” he said. “Together or apart.”The almost invisible hairs on Elaine’s arms stood up, as though a cool draught had braced her skin. She drew a calming breath, once more amazed at Gary’s ability to read her mind. She opened her mouth to say something but was halted in her tracks by Gary’s intent stare. She watched as he examined her silently, his gaze roaming over her cheeks and nose and eyes, then down to her lips. He lingered there. He was going to kiss her. She just knew it!But he didn’t! He drew back and sat up, reaching for his wine. He took a sip and Elaine couldn’t take her eyes off him. Somehow she knew Gary was forming words. She waited as he put down his glass.”I’m going to take out the contract and have you sign it then put it back in my pocket.” He turned to her. “It’s not a good idea to have something like that loose on the table for very long. So I don’t want you hesitating to sign. I want you to do your hesitating now, not when I put it on the table in front of you. Understand?”Elaine gulped. “Yes, Sir.” Her mouth was dry again and she reached for her wine, taking a quick sip. “I’m going to outline what you are doing, so you can make a clear decision. Okay?””O… Okay.””All right then.” He held her hands and whispered in intimate tones. “You are being very brave. You are accepting that you are different, and that’s not easy. You are allowing yourself to tread a path many before you have taken. This path leads to a door. Not everyone goes through the door.”Many turn back. It is no disgrace. You are entitled to choose not to follow the path. And you are entitled to be unsure, or unready or unprepared to go through the door. This is not a make or break moment, Elaine. I have faith in you, and I’ll give you a few chances. If you flee tonight, I won’t hold it against you. Your courage has led you all the way here. I’ll always admire and respect that.”One of his hands released hers. He reached up to touch her face again. “There is much I want to show you, to tell you, and to be for you. And there is much I want you to be for me. We haven’t talked much about ‘being mine’. It’s been at the back of our conversations. It’s an assumption we’ve both made. We always knew that in order for this to go forward, you had to be mine. The whirlwind of emotions that have brought us to this moment must now be addressed, for once and for all.”By signing, you will be mine. And I will be yours. From that moment and until Sunday night, I will accept the responsibilities I’ve outlined in the contract, as if our relationship were to continue…” He took a deep breath. “As that is my wish.”Elaine was battling to hold off the tears. Gary’s hands were so warm.”I would be honoured to take you as my submissive, Elaine. For the weekend. Who knows how we may feel at the end of it. Every hour, every minute will help us decide. But without taking this step, without taking this risk, we can’t know. “But if we do, we will.”We’ll begin to learn everything there is to know about each other… how we tick… how we react, and why. We’ll use our time well and explore all aspects of our relationship. And we’ll know if the promise it has shown is real. By the end of the weekend, we’ll know whether or not we want to continue, together or apart. “Also you will learn about yourself. Your capabilities… What you want, and need, and desire, and like… and love.” He glanced at her.God, does he love me? He continued and Elaine listened. “The way we’ve done this has been virtually ideal. There is only one question that remains. And you should realise that the answer is an important one. More important than any you have ever contemplated in your life. You are giving your gift, Elaine. The gift of your submission. You are placing it in my hands. Is that what you want?” he asked, staring into Elaine’s eyes. “Do you wish to be mine?”To Elaine, there was no question. This man, in his smart suit and tie, freshly shaven and cologned… His thoughtfulness, his patience and his nature, at the same time gentle and strong… His face, his eyes, his hands hard from work… His passion… It all added up. Here was a man she could serve with pleasure. Elaine took a deep breath. “I… I want that… To be yours… More than anything.””Are you ready to order?”Gary and Elaine both gawked at Chelsea as if she had two heads. She’d arrived so silently that neither of them had heard her approach.What did she hear? Elaine wondered.Thankfully, Chelsea gave no indication of having overheard any of their conversation. The two diners looked at each other and almost laughed. Gary turned to Chelsea and said, “Give us ten more minutes, please.””Yes, Sir,” Chelsea said, and was gone.”Good manners, your roommate,” Gary quipped, with a grin.”She’s nicer than I thought,” said Elaine honestly.”Always a pleasant discovery,” replied Gary. “Now… Where were we?”Elaine took another sip of her wine and placed it back on the table, a little to the side. “I was about to sign the contract.”The conviction in her words surprised them both. Elaine’s heart started beating wildly as Gary reached inside his suit jacket and took out the contract. He looked around. Their privacy was assured. “Okay?” he asked softly, unfolding it and producing a pen. Elaine nodded. So did Gary. He signed. Holding out the pen for Elaine, he turned the contract toward her and said, “This is it.””I… I know.” And she took the pen.

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