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The Path of Least Resistance

The discipline of desire is the background of character—John Locke

How in God’s name is it possible to get lost in a city composed around a road as long 
and famous as the Strip?
James Wilson wondered wearily, looking up from the map 
spread across the steering wheel. He glanced through his windshield once again and 
glared at the neon glow that seemed to reflect in every direction off of the horizon. 
Somewhere out there was the Strip, his hotel room and the ten hours of sleep he so 
desperately needed. The only small favor in the entire situation was that House wasn’t 
in the car with him, acidly asking if his sense of humor had been removed along with his foreskin.


Las Vegas was rough enough without House, and for a moment Wilson was grateful 
that Greg had opted out of the yearly AMA convention as usual. He squinted at his cell 
phone, and realized the screen was dark. Great. He’d carefully plugged his charger in 
back at the hotel, then completely forgotten to stick the phone onto it. What MORE 
could go wrong? As if in answer to his lament, the moment he turned the key in the 
ignition, nothing happened.


Wilson gave a noisy sigh and closed his eyes; he opened them and tried again, twisting 
the key in the ignition. The dashboard lights came on, but the engine remained 
stubbornly silent, and he glared at the steering wheel, aware of the tension settling in 
his temples, throbbing dully with pain. He was tired, hungry, frustrated, lost and 
generally fed up with Las Vegas. As trips went, James Wilson was just about all funned 
out.


Time to appeal to someone’s better nature—if anyone in this Godforsaken town HAS one, Wilson thought dourly. He climbed out of the rental and locked it up, then looked up 
and down the street. It was on the edge of an older residential section, and the nearest 
house stood out; an imposing structure of dark brick set behind a wall. The gates stood 
open, and for a moment as he stared at the house, Wilson thought of the Addams 
family. The mansion had the same mansard roof and slightly menacing look to it, and 
the darkness of the night didn’t help. He checked his watch, chagrined to see it was 
after ten.


Ah well.


Wilson walked up to the huge double doors, his shoes crunching on the gravel. Faint 
noises reached him, trickling down from the upper windows. Music, and odd snuffling 
sounds . . . He stepped up on the porch and in the dim light pushed the elaborate 
doorbell, half-expecting the foghorn. The low exotic chimes that rang out helped him 
relax a little—until a soft scream sounded out. Wilson looked up, concerned, and 
glanced back down as the door opened wide.


He gaped.


The ebony-haired woman outlined in the light of the doorway was in a word, magnificent. 
Regal and serene, she stood with one hand on the knob, taking Wilson in with one long, 
careful gaze before starting to smile. Carefully she spoke.


“Good evening. What brings you to the Dominion tonight, Doctor?”


“Ah. I’m sorry. My car broke down just there on the street and I was hoping I could 
borrow a phone to call a taxi and a tow truck—“ Wilson muttered, not sure where to look, 
and feeling that his necktie was suddenly too tight. The woman was dressed in a sari of 
gauzy black silk, and he suspected the moon motif embroidery shot through it was 
probably real silver thread. The bangles on her wrists and the hoops in her ears were 
silver as well, but the hot bloom of glistening red on her amazing mouth was as exotic 
as a hibiscus.


“Of course,” she replied, not moving yet, her dark eyes holding a sudden small spark of something Wilson thought he recognized as mischief. Mentally shaking the absurd 
notion off, he stepped in, and realization hit him precisely at the moment he noticed the 
austere décor of the massive foyer.


He was in a dangerous place.


A little stunned, Wilson wavered, the fight or flight instinct moving through his frame. He 
blinked, but before he could do or say anything, the woman held out her hand, palm 
down.


“They call me Lady Heather and this is my Dominion. I assure you that you’re perfectly 
safe, Doctor Wilson.”


“How do you—“ he trailed off, looking down and seeing his convention badge still 
pinned, crookedly to his jacket. With an embarrassed chuff, he reached out one hand to 
her and with the other unpinned the tag, stuffing it in his pocket with more force than 
necessary. The position of her hand encouraged him to cup his own under it, and he 
did so without thinking. Lady Heather gave a tiny smile of approval.


“You’re not the first lost one to reach my doors and you won’t be the last. Not everyone 
comes here by compulsion the first time.”


“By compulsion? Let me get this straight—this IS a . . .” Wilson hesitated. To call it by 
the first term that came to mind seemed unduly harsh, so he shifted gears. “ . . . brothel, correct?”


This seemed to amuse Lady Heather; she hadn’t pulled her hand back and it was cool 
against his fingertips.


“No. Prostitution is legal only in a few counties of Nevada, and Clarke is not one of them. 
Here at the Dominion we cater to the client’s emotional and psychological hungers over 
his physical ones. It’s a common mistake though.”


“So this isn’t a brothel, it’s . . . a dungeon.” Wilson corrected himself, feeling amazingly 
surreal. If he didn’t have a headache and tense shoulders to remind him he was actually 
awake this could all be a bizarre dream. Lady Heather gently lifted her hand off of his 
and gave a tiny nod.


“I suppose that label is as good as any for the Dominion, although I regret the negative implications it brings to mind.” As if to tease her, another soft cry rang out, a ragged 
sound tinged with pleasure. Wilson fought his urge to swallow and tried to assume a sophisticated expression while Lady Heather’s smile widened.


“Forgive my bad manners Doctor Wilson. This way to the phone.”


So saying she turned gracefully and indicated the stairs; Wilson followed her up them, 
casting dubious, yet interested looks around. So far the décor was unobtrusive; good 
wood paneling and Victorian furniture, nothing out of place or erotically interesting. 
When they reached the landing, Wilson noticed the carpet underfoot was much thicker, 
muffling his steps. Among other things, he thought.


Lady Heather ushered him into a small, almost cozy room; Wilson realized it was a 
converted bedroom, without the most obvious piece of furniture. She gestured to the 
elegant phone on the little table. “Feel free to use directory assistance if you need it, 
Doctor Wilson. I have a small matter to attend to, but I’ll return shortly.”


He nodded and dug in his breast pocked for his wallet, hoping he’d packed his Triple A 
card and wondering if it was weird to want to call Julie, just for the thrill of knowing he’d 
done so from an S and M parlor.


*** *** ***


The rental company got to his call after nearly twenty minutes on hold; Wilson received 
the full apology and the promise of an upgraded model in the morning. The harassed-
sounding clerk added that they’d reimburse cab fare as well and transferred him to their associate cab company. They regretfully gave him a ninety-minute wait time, 
citing three big conventions in town.


Wilson sighed and hung up. Just as he moved to the door, it opened and an elegant girl 
with feline grace greeted him, her white teeth dazzling in contrast to her dark face.


“Doctor Wilson, I’m Lydia. Lady Heather invites you to join her in the lunarium while you 
wait for your ride.”


Wilson paused for a moment, then nodded; what choice did he have, really? Sitting 
alone in the dark, dead Camry had no appeal, and from the sound of it, none of the 
other cab companies would be any quicker.


“Um, yes, that would be fine,” he told Lydia, who nodded as she played along with the 
idea that he had a choice here. Wilson followed the girl, who was barefoot and dressed 
in a pale pink cat suit. She led him back to the stairs and towards the back of the 
mansion. Wilson followed a little uncertainly, hearing echoes of voices and sounds he 
wasn’t sure he wanted to identify.


He watched the girl ahead of him, admiring her curvy bottom through the thin material 
and wishing House was here to share the adventure, short as it was probably going to 
turn out to be. Greg would pretend to be all OVER this place, Wilson chuckled to 
himself, but he’d be uncomfortable. He talks the talk but let’s face it--his flavor is solid 
vanilla.


The lunarium was on the ground floor; an airy room of tinted glass walls with a ceiling 
that opened onto the night sky. The furniture carried the moon motif further; dark blue 
with silver stars on jacquard fabric. Wilson fought to look casual, but it wasn’t easy—the 
décor must have run several thousand dollars by the look of it. Lady Heather smiled as 
she glanced up from her sofa, and gestured to the coffee table where a tray of exotic 
cheeses and a bottle of wine stood, alongside two exquisite crystal glasses.


“Protein—and alcohol. It might not cure your headache, but it’s bound to help.” she 
offered. Wilson managed a smile, wondering how she’d known he was in pain.


“Oh! You didn’t have to . . . not the standard prescription, but I appreciate the hospitality, 
Lady Heather.”


“Nonsense. You’re a guest.”


They sat on the same long sofa, and Lady Heather deftly scooped Brie onto delicate 
crackers while Wilson decanted the bottle. He noted it was a Chardonnay with a rich 
ruby tint that reminded him of her lipstick and after Wilson poured he politely offered her 
the first glass.


“Excellent vintage—I’m no expert but I’ve had this before.” He told her.


“Then we’re both fortunate. I have my favorites, and this is definitely among them,” she 
replied, lifting her glass in a gentle toast.


For a while they ate and talked. Wilson relaxed a little; it wasn’t every day he sat with a dominatrix in her parlor and enjoyed a great glass of wine. Lady Heather asked him all 
the easy, casual questions and he found himself having a good time answering them. 
Their discussion meandered through art and books, around travels and hobbies. Lady 
Heather was a charming conversationalist, and after an hour, Wilson realized that this 
odd little interlude was the highlight so far of his entire trip to Las Vegas. His headache 
had faded along with his appetite, and he found he didn’t want to head back to the cold 
dark hotel room very much.


As if sensing his mood, Lady Heather shot him a sympathetic look and poured another 
glass of wine for them both. “I’ll confess I’m rather glad the taxi hasn’t arrived yet. Yours 
has been the best company I’ve had in quite a long time, James.”


“Thank you—although you’re the one with the phone, wine and cheese.”


“You could say hosting comes naturally to me—“ she dimpled, and Wilson chuckled 
along with her as he drank another mouthful of wine.


“So now comes the question—“


“—How did a nice girl like me get into the business of catering to men’s fantasies?” Lady Heather finished smoothly, leaning back on her end of the sofa and shrugging. “Call it a coincidence. Several years back I dated a lovely older man in Europe who was quite 
well versed in . . . alternative lifestyles. He told me I had the makings of a first class 
Dominatrix, and asked if I was interested in learning how to be one. I thought it was a 
joke—“ Lady Heather smiled at the memory, as Wilson watched her, “But he was quite 
serious. I ended up spending almost three years learning from several of the best on 
the continent.”


“Classes?” Somehow the idea utterly fascinated him. Fleetingly he thought of textbooks 
on whips, and classes in knot-tying. Seeing his expression she smiled.


“Not in the formal sense—more of a work-study program. Very . . . hands on.”


Wilson shifted, aware that he was doing so, and equally aware that she saw it too. He 
cleared his throat a little uneasily. “To be sure. Obviously you were a good student.”


“Top of my class. Generally top of everything,” Lady Heather admitted with a roguish 
smile. “Good taste is worth the maintenance, and there’s always the satisfaction of a 
man well handled.”


Wilson nearly choked on his wine; Lady Heather toyed with hers a moment, her 
expression speculative. “Tell me, James, would you have even walked onto the porch if 
you’d known what this place was?”


For a long moment Wilson considered the question, staring into his wineglass as his 
brows drew together. Very slowly, he shrugged.


“Probably . . . not.” He admitted. “I don’t consider myself overly judgmental, but then 
again, I don’t find pain very erotic.”


“No . . . “ Lady Heather agreed, turning those pellucid eyes to him. “In your profession 
I’m sure you’ve seen far too much real pain to consider the games played here to be interesting.”


She fell silent, and Wilson hoped he hadn’t offended her. He cleared his throat for a 
moment. “That’s not to say some parts aren’t . . . intriguing. After three marriages I’m not
without SOME experience in . . . things.


His face felt hot, and Wilson wondered how much the wine was affecting him. Lady 
Heather tipped her head, wordlessly inviting him to continue his line of thought. He took 
a breath. “The . . . sorts of things married people choose to do . . . “


“Bondage light,“ she teased. “A romp in the kitchen, or the den.”


“Now you’re making fun of me—“ Wilson protested, but through a smile. Lady Heather 
shook her head. Overhead, the patter of sudden rain suserrated against the lunarium 
ceiling.


“Never. Intimate trust is the first step in exploring ourselves. And when you trust 
someone enough to play with them—be it in a bedroom or a kitchen or a den—then 
you’re halfway there. My clients are the ones who don’t have that either that connection, 
or that sense of trust.”


“But they still want to play.” Wilson pointed out. She nodded.


“Most want to; a few genuinely NEED to. I won’t claim that the Dominion is a public 
service, or that everything here is done for altruistic reasons, James, but in truth, my 
employees and I do provide an alternative for men and women who seek the opportunity 
to explore their sensuality. I’m not ashamed of that.”


“You shouldn’t be,” Wilson responded automatically. He set his glass down and looked 
at her, his smile a half-quirk as he did so, his bangs falling into his eyes. “As you said, 
it’s a better alternative than being . . . unhappy, or . . . unfulfilled.”


His words hung in the air between them, weighted slightly. Lady Heather understood.


At that moment a soft knock on the lunarium door broke the mood; Lady Heather called, 
“Yes?”


“The taxi is here for your guest, my lady.”


“Thank you, Lydia—“ Lady Heather rose gracefully. Wilson followed, feeling lighter. He 
followed her out of the lunarium. When they reached the front doors of the Dominion, 
the cold gust of wind blew through the foyer; the taxi stood beyond the iron gates in the 
rain. Lady Heather reached beside the door to the umbrella stand.


“Please take it and stay dry,” she murmured. Wilson hesitated, but the rain was coming 
down harder, and without it, he would be soaked before reaching the taxi. He took the 
umbrella, his fingers brushing hers.


“Thank you. It’s been an interesting evening. A very good one—“ he amended with a 
quick smile. Lady Heather smiled as well, and the wind made her sari float around her 
tall figure.


“That it has. And perhaps you’ll be back sometime, Doctor James Wilson. I would like 
that a great deal. Good night.” She reached out and straightened his tie gently, then 
watched him step out and open the umbrella. Carefully Wilson picked his way around a 
few puddles in the gravel. When she shut the door, she took a moment to lean against it 
and think about the last hour.


She smiled to herself.


*** *** ***


For the next two days, Wilson focused his concentration on the panels and 
presentations at the convention. He took notes, caught up with colleagues, schmoozed, 
boozed and cruised, as the saying went. He kept himself as busy as possible, and yet 
every time he caught a glimpse of the umbrella sitting on the dresser in his hotel room, 
a little pang went through him.


I really ought to return that.


Wilson considered the matter, knowing deep down that it was a convenient excuse to go
back to the Dominion. He could always mail the umbrella, or send it via UPS. He could 
forget about it, leave it in the hotel room when he checked out. It wasn’t a particularly 
fancy umbrella; just a black folding men’s umbrella with a wooden handle.


Still . . . he realized he enjoyed toying with the option it provided to return. And finally, 
late on the last night of the conference, when far too many of his peers were determined 
to drink each other under the buffet tables or lose second mortgages at the craps tables, 
Wilson found himself flagging a taxi and muttering the address he’d memorized from the 
rental report.


The driver raised an eyebrow but said nothing. Wilson sat back in the shabby upholstery 
and closed his eyes, preparing himself to be disappointed. Various scenarios crossed his 
mind.


She’ll be busy. She’ll have the night off. She’ll take it and send me on my way. She won’t remember me at all . . .


And those warred with other scenarios in his head. Wilson bit his bottom lip indulging in 
those darker images for a moment as well.


She’ll know. She already knows.


The taxi pulled up much sooner than he was expecting, and Wilson climbed out, eyeing 
the imposing mansion once more as he absently paid the driver. When the car rumbled 
off, he squared his shoulders and walked across the gravel once more, feeling his palm 
sweat against the handle of the umbrella. He stepped up on the porch and looked down 
at the little squares of light shining through the frosted windows of the door, debating.


I could leave it right here. Wilson reasoned, knowing he meant more than just the 
umbrella. For a moment he considered just propping it against the door, no note, no explanation. He knew she’d pick it up and smile with that beautiful mouth, accepting 
what it meant.


The problem was that he couldn’t do it. The umbrella felt heavy in his hand. He 
hesitated.


Once in my life. I have a chance to do this. Just once. Tomorrow it’s back to lab reports 
and MRIs and consultations. Back to the daily grind of my days but the difference will be 
that I’ll KNOW if I really have this need within me. I’m not afraid of it. I’m afraid of never 
finding out the truth.


Wilson impulsively used the end of the umbrella to ring the bell. He waited a moment, 
listening for approaching footsteps and when the door opened he looked into a pair of 
familiar eyes.


“Doctor Wilson, come in. Lady Heather has been expecting you,” Lydia murmured softly. 
She opened the door wider, bowing a little and Wilson hesitated a moment, then 
stepped inside the big foyer once again, feeling a sense of déjà vu. Lydia turned with 
the grace of a panther.


“Please follow me—“ she led him once again towards the back of the mansion to the 
lunarium. Wilson trailed behind her, feeling his pulse speed up, hyperaware of his 
surroundings.


I’m not afraid. I’m just . . . alert.


When they reached the door, Lydia knocked softly. Receiving an affirmative sound, she 
opened it and ushered Wilson in; he stepped through as Lady Heather rose from the 
sofa, smiling softly as she set down a small leather-bound book.


“Welcome back.”


“Thank you. I . . . brought your umbrella,” he added as Lydia quietly slipped out and 
closed the door. Lady Heather took it from him, her elegant fingers stroking the nylon 
folds gently. Wilson didn’t miss the symbolism and fought his smirk.


“Thank YOU. It’s one of my favorites. Wood handles are hard to find these days.”


“I never considered the matter,” Wilson admitted truthfully, and she laughed.


“Probably not. I have a fondness for natural materials over manmade or synthetic ones 
though. Silk over nylon, leather over Naugahyde, fur over plush—“ she murmured, 
gesturing to the sofa. Wilson accepted her unspoken invitation, drinking in the sight of 
her.


She wore fur. A sleek sable bustier laced with silver satin ribbon encased her chest, 
revealing glorious cleavage between the panels of silky fur. Her floor length skirt rode 
low on her beautiful hips, and was trimmed with matching sable, the fur dark against her 
pale skin. Lady Heather wore short lace wrist length gloves, and tassel tails of ermine 
hung from her shoulders. Her lipstick was darker, rich plum on her enticing mouth.


“Fur is politically incorrect—“ Wilson pointed out regretfully. Lady Heather laughed.


“So is managing a fetish den, and yet somehow it works for me. Someone in society has 
to stand outside the norm.”


“The norm is overrated. And too many of us spend our time looking beyond the limits, wondering if being part of the status quo is worth it.” Wilson told her in a quiet voice. 
Lady Heather nodded, but before she could say anything more, a loud thumping noise 
broke into the conversation. Swiftly she rose, moving to the door, Wilson following her. It 
was only a few steps across the foyer to the main staircase, and at the bottom of it, a 
man lying on the tiled floor, clutching his head. Someone hovered over him.


“He slipped on the stairs—“ A petite girl in a fairy costume told Lady Heather miserably, 
“The last four, it wasn’t far—“


“Get the first aid kit. Lydia?” Lady Heather was already looking at the man’s face, and 
Wilson cleared his throat. Moving carefully he dropped to one knee and turned the 
man’s head, checking the pupils. The man moaned a little. Wilson fished a penlight out 
of his breast pocket, flicking it into each of the man’s eyes and noting the reactions.


“No concussion, but a pretty hard knock to the temple. There’ll be some swelling, so 
he’ll need ice. Can you hear me?”


“Yeah, I fell, I didn’t go deaf—“ the man groused, clearly embarrassed. Wilson ignored 
that and examined the bump along the right side of the man’s face where the reddish 
purple lump was rising fast. He shot a look of thanks to Lydia and opened the case she 
held out.


“Good for you. Let’s get this cleaned up and on ice. You’ll need to sit quietly for about 
half an hour just to be on the safe side and then you can go.”


“Okay, but--who the hell are YOU?” the man demanded, wincing as Wilson dabbed the 
lump with a disinfectant pad.


“House doctor. Hold still.”


*** *** ***


It had ended well. The client had been bandaged, consulted and sent on his way 
discreetly. Lady Heather had informed both her lawyer and insurance company of the 
incident, and now she and Wilson were back in the lunarium, sharing glasses of dry 
sherry and relaxing on the sofa. Clouds passed overhead, filtering the light.


“I can’t thank you enough for stepping in. It was very gracious of you James. That’s the 
second debt I owe you.” She told him. He said nothing.


I could ask. Now would be the time . . .


He looked up as Lady Heather caught his gaze and for a moment something clear and 
bright passed between them; a glimmer of recognition and acknowledgement, an 
unspoken agreement. She rose up off the sofa and set her glass down.


“James, do you trust me?” she breathed, in a low, slow voice. He leaned forward, setting 
his own glass on the coffee table a little more sharply than he’d intended.


“Yes. I’m not completely sure why, but yes, I do trust you.” He replied in a voice equally 
low. There were implications in these words; he felt them overlaid heavily on every word. 
Lady Heather inclined her head.


“Thank you. I would like to be worthy of that trust. I want to help you find out what you 
want to know, James.”


“And—“ he spoke carefully, his pulse loud in his ears, —what is it I want to know?”


She knows.


You want to know if you can let go.” She replied calmly, in a tone of such perfect 
self-assurance that he could only blink. Very carefully she looked him up and down as 
she spoke again. “You, the concise, responsible, cautious, reliable authority figure in 
your own world want to know if you can ever just . . . give it all up. Let someone else 
take responsibility. You want to taste freedom, James.”


Yes.


“What?”


Lady Heather said nothing more and stood waiting for him. Wilson tightened his jaw and 
stood there for a long, long moment, feeling himself pulled between the two impulses. 
Finally, he gave a quick nod. She smiled.


“Good. And since this is the case, I’m the one who CAN help you.”


Wilson spoke up, his voice slightly choked, unused to the liberty of the conversation. 
“How? How when I’m not even sure myself? It’s not as if I’ve given this a lot of thought.”


Liar.


But she looked at him, through him; Wilson felt Lady Heather reach out to take his 
unresisting hand.


“Step by step. Door by door. Just as you would with anything new, James. Two 
questions come first. I need your true answers for those first and foremost.”


A heartbeat.


“All right.”


“I need you to be completely honest with me. If you feel the need to slow down, or even 
stop, you must tell me so. You and only you will know your limits, James. This must all 
come from you.” She told him in a serious voice. He nodded again, a quick, jerky 
movement this time and she squeezed his hand.


“Good. So if you need release, say ‘umbrella’ and I’ll know. Do you promise me that?”


“Umbrella?” he tried to keep a straight face, but it was difficult. Lady Heather waited, and 
Wilson cleared his throat. “Right. Umbrella.”


“Good. And the second question—this one is much more . . . complicated. How 
committed are you to your marriage?”


Seeing his eyes widen, Lady Heather continued. “Going through a session is a very 
intense experience, and despite the laws and vows we promise to follow, there are 
inevitable choices that present themselves. I want you going into this with a clear 
conscience. You need to consider all the possibilities.”


The easiest part. I’m glad.


“I’m . . . in the process of getting divorced.” He admitted, a flush on his high cheekbones. 
Wilson couldn’t tell if it was shame or excitement that heated his face, but Lady Heather 
didn’t smile. She gave a nod herself and let go of his hand.


“I see. So in many ways, this is the perfect time, and the perfect opportunity to turn 
inward and find an answer to your question.”


Another little breathless pause. Wilson pursed his mouth.


“Yes. I hadn’t thought of it that way, but—yes.”


“Good.” And then Lady Heather DID smile, a rich and relaxed expression. “Are you 
willing to begin?”


Wilson took a deep breath as jumbled images and arguments flashed through his mind: schedules and information and memories and duties. He closed his eyes.


For once in my life. Maybe the only once I’ll ever get---


“Yes, Lady Heather. I’m ready.”


*** *** ***


The bedroom was warm, decorated in plush grey velvet the color of pale ashes. Slender 
white candles stood on the fireplace mantel and on a few tables around the room, 
shedding a golden light. Wilson glanced around as Lydia ushered him in.


“Shower. Wear the bathrobe when you are done. Take your time.”


She left, closing the door, and Wilson stood a moment, surveying the room. It was far 
nicer than his hotel, he noted ironically. Moving in measured steps on the soft carpet, he 
circled around, getting used to the place, and stopping at the foot of the bed, gazing at 
it.


I’m not sure what I was expecting but this . . . wasn’t it.


An ordinary bed with a heavy velvet bedspread in plush grey. Pretty, but not 
extraordinary by any means. Wilson noted that the silver metal frame extended on each 
end. The mattress was moderately firm when he pressed it. Sighing, he walked into the adjoining bathroom and began to undress.


The shower felt good; the water was perfectly hot and loosened some of the tension in 
his shoulders. His stomach remained slightly knotted, however, and he stayed in longer 
than he’d intended. When the water finally began to cool Wilson knew he couldn’t put 
off the moment any longer, and stepped out, reaching for the towels. They were warm, 
and blissfully he dried himself, glancing in the mirror at his physique, his cautious 
expression.


Dear Diary. Went to Las Vegas and took a shower at an S & M parlor. They had hot 
towels.


He hung the towels up neatly, and pulled on the bathrobe, enjoying the sensation of the 
heavy cotton terrycloth on his clean skin.

Even if the rest of the evening is a bomb, at least the bathrobe’s nice—he wryly thought 
to himself. I wonder if they have a gift shop?


He was perfectly aware that he was whistling in the dark and that despite all his 
facetious thoughts his body was still poised. Wilson brushed his teeth numbly, rinsing 
and checking them once more in the mirror.


It’s not a date. It’s more important than that. Why the hell am I so . . . freaked?


He stepped out into the room, noting that a blaze was now glowing in the fireplace, and 
that the faint sound of a violin sonata was playing softly in the background. Something 
slow and lush. The carpet felt good under his bare feet.


“Good evening, my tyro,” he heard from behind him. Wilson fought the urge to spin, and 
slowly turned to face the voice. His skin flushed hot then cold in keen anticipation. Lady 
Heather stood looking him over, her expression speculative.


In the time Wilson had showered, she’d changed; now she wore a catsuit of black lacy 
silk, a filmy creation that covered her from palms to toes. The effect against her pale skin 
was undeniably erotic, and he felt himself tense, blood surging south. Lady Heather 
took a step forward.


“You are a very intelligent man, James Wilson. I respect that you’ve used your brains to 
get where you are in life. But tonight is not about thinking, it’s about feeling. 
Experiencing without the filters of analysis or consideration or judgment. For you, there 
will be only one choice for the rest of the night. Stop, or keep going.”


He blinked, feeling her words brush his skin, shiver along his spine, swirl in his ear, like 
a whisper delivered so closely that it tickles. Wilson fought to hold still.


“Yes.”


“Yes, my lady.” She corrected him.


He hesitated, but she wasn’t smiling, merely looking at him with those intensely blue 
eyes. Finally Wilson nodded. “Yes my lady.”


It was easy to say. One corner of her mouth went up and she took another step forward, reaching for the belt to his bathrobe. Wilson let her undo it, too surprised to stop her. 
Lady Heather let it fall open a bit, and studied him.


Wilson instantly tensed.


GODWAITI’MNAKED---


“Delectable. Yes, the very word for you is . . . delectable.”


“I—“ he spoke, then found her hand tapping his mouth lightly as she made a shushing 
gesture against it. Lady Heather shook her head.


“No speaking unless spoken to. Don’t worry, I’ll ask you many questions, but for our 
purposes tonight, all you are going to do is feel. Now I want you to turn around.”


He did, gratefully, taking a quick hard breath, trying hard to stay calm, but it wasn’t 
easy. He heard Lady Heather step closer, felt her breath on the back of his neck just 
above the collar of the robe. Wilson’s chest flushed; his nipples hardened despite the 
warmth of the room.


“And now we negotiate. I want to tie you down, James. Is that acceptable to you?”


YES


“That . . . would be . . . uh . . . fine . . .” he managed in a shaky voice. Wilson felt two 
hands on his shoulders, kneading through the terrycloth. He fought the thrill that flared 
through his spine at that knowing touch.


“Yes, I thought it would be. The first step to letting go is accepting discipline. So, I will 
tie you down, James. Securely, and safely. And after that . . . what would you like?”


Everything.


“I . . . don’t know.”


“Hmmmm. Well, I’m very interested in your skin. You have such a fair complexion for a 
man, and I suspect you’ll respond very nicely to touch,” Lady Heather purred, delighted 
to feel the square shoulders under her fingers begin to relax. She loved the way the 
damp hair at the nape of his neck curled, and the clean scent of him.


“I’m ticklish—“ Wilson admitted sheepishly. Lady Heather chuckled.


“I’m gentle. And when I’m not gentle, I’m slow and careful.”


Wilson sucked in a quick breath.


I’m hard. She’s barely touching my shoulders and I’m up. I can’t believe this—


“Don’t be alarmed, James. Our bodies know things about ourselves before our minds 
do. I want you to lie down.”


Awkwardly Wilson moved over to the bed, but before he could pull the cover back, Lady Heather clucked softly.


“No. Lie on the spread, face down. Leave your robe at the foot of the bed.”


Wordlessly Wilson did, grateful to pin his unruly dick out of sight, but self-conscious to 
be bare-assed, particularly in front of such a beautiful woman. He tried to look over his 
shoulder; Lady Heather caught his chin in her hand.


“Relax. You are very tense, and you don’t need to be. Nothing happens without your 
say so, James. Lie back. Lie still.”


He did. After a moment, he felt the touch of Lady Heather’s hands again, on his 
shoulders, moving down his back in slow, light strokes. Wilson drank in the sensation, 
focusing on the glide of those hands along his muscles.


Good. I . . . good, so good . . .


Lady Heather rubbed, watching carefully, and after a while she saw the signs; his soft 
sigh, the general unclenching along his deltoids and jaw line. It certainly wasn’t hard to 
look at Wilson, but she hid her appreciation of his trim form and firm ass. With a casual 
sweep she ran her nails lightly over the back of his scalp through his baby fine hair and 
Wilson’s spine arched slightly with pleasure.


“So you’re a masseuse as well . . . “ He tried to make light of it.


“Shhhh—“ she chided, “I’m many things, James Wilson. We haven’t even started to 
play—“ He said nothing, focused on the light scratch of her nails at the back of his neck. 
He gave another little sigh.


My God this isn’t as weird as I assumed it would be. It feels . . . amazingly nice--


“It’s time to go through the next door. Roll over, Tyro. You may close your eyes if you 
wish.” She murmured, counting the seconds of his hesitation; if they stretched beyond 
eight, she knew he wasn’t ready. The seconds pulsed as Lady Heather watched 
Wilson’s shoulders. A flex; a little chuff of breath, and awkwardly, he turned, shifting his 
body, eyes tightly shut. He looked so beautifully vulnerable, pink with embarrassment, 
the long lines of his frame curling slightly as he settled on his back.


She hummed softly, matching the melody of the sonata, and a small corner of his mouth 
turned up.


Okay. I’m naked on a strange bed with a beautiful woman who’s probably staring at me 
and while I should be disturbed by the understanding we’re not going to have sex, I’m 
not. I’m . . . fascinated.


Lady Heather took a long moment in the pleasure of just looking at him. Wilson had 
silky dark chest hair that lay in graceful calligraphy across his sculpted chest. He was 
trim, without any extra weight, and she appreciated the long lines of his arms and legs, 
the dusting of hair on them light and masculine. The ridge of glossy fur extended down 
his chest to his flat small navel and continued under it, thickening and growing coarser 
between his hips, forming a tangled bush around his semi-hard shaft and over his balls.


She made a low sound of appreciation and sat on the edge of the bed. “So this is what 
you you’ve been hiding under that button down Oxford shirt and Nordstrom suit. How marvelous—“ Leaning forward, Lady Heather again rested her fingers on Wilson’s fine 
lips, stopping his protest. “Shhhhhh. No speaking unless you need to use your safe 
word. What is your safe word, darling James?”


“Umbrella,” he murmured, a little dazed, finally opening his dark eyes. She nodded, 
noting the sparkle in them, the look of mingled dread and delight passing over his 
aristocratic face. He was a natural—they were rare, and always a special thrill to awaken 
them to sensuality. Carefully Lady Heather leaned over him, her long hair sliding down 
to brush his shoulders.


“Perfect. How good you are; how very, very good. You take direction beautifully, James, 
and for that you will be rewarded. But first, I must tie you down. You need to put your 
arms up over your head and grip the bars of the headboard. Do that now, please.”


This is it—


Slowly Wilson extended his arms up, fumbling a little to reach the bars. His fingers slid 
around their cool surfaces, curling in a tight grip. Lady Heather bent closer to his face, 
her warm breath mingling with his.


“The next door. Are you ready?”


Wilson nodded.


Yes


Carefully Lady Heather reached up and beyond Wilson’s grip along the bars. As she did 
so, her chest brushed his face and he gasped at the touch of warm lace on his nose 
and cheeks, pliantly sheer lace barely restraining sweet flesh that smelt of roses and 
musk.


GOD!


So caught up was he in the press of skin, Wilson barely noticed the wrap and click 
around his right wrist. When Lady Heather shifted, he turned his face, eager to keep the 
contact. She laughed, low in her throat.


“Yes, definitely a man attuned to touch,” she commented, carefully fastening the 
second cuff around his left wrist. The restraints were padded and plush, lined with fur. 
The links connecting them to the bars of the headboard were not since Lady Heather 
knew the sound of the chains clinking and rattling would enhance the experience.


She sat back, pulling away from him. Wilson watched her, his dark eyes wide. Lady 
Heather lifted her chin.


“And so now . . . you are mine.”


Wilson opened his mouth, but caught himself in time. His breathing was quick, the 
muscles along his arms tense. Lady Heather rose up off the mattress and stood back to 
admire the sight of him secured to the headboard, lying supine on the grey plush 
bedspread. Around them the music pulsed softly, and the candles flickered. 
Experimentally, Wilson tugged at his bonds, making the muscles of his flat stomach 
tense. Lady Heather walked slowly to the foot of the bed and gripped the rails there, 
leaning over them to gaze at his body.


“Test them all you want, but they’ll hold, darling James. Until I unbuckle the straps 
holding those cuffs, you’re powerless. Accept that. For the here and now, your body is 
mine to play with, mine to touch and excite and seduce.” Her eyes glittered and she 
smiled naughtily, “I can’t wait.”


Oh God


Slowly she leaned farther forward and let her fingers touch Wilson’s toes; he flinched 
slightly but she was proud of him when he didn’t shift his foot. Lady Heather sent one 
cool hand up the inside of his furry shin, feeling the long muscles and tendons of his leg 
under her fingers and palm. Wilson didn’t watch her stroke; instead he pushed his head 
back against the pillow and thrust his jaw forward, fighting his tremble.


God if she touches me THERE I’ll go off like a rocket—please no, not so sooon--


Carefully Lady Heather used her other hand to stroke his other shin, her touch light.


“Your skin is warm, James, and you’re very aroused. Don’t worry. I won’t let you come 
until you’re good and ready.” He tensed at her words, looking down the length of his 
body at her, blinking desperately. She smiled. “Yes?”


“It’s just--I might . . .” he whispered in an urgent croak. She shook her head, dark hair 
gleaming in the candleglow.


“Oh no. And to make sure—“ she reached down into the neckline of her cat suit, pulling 
out a length of something dark from between her breasts. Wilson stared, his forearms 
flexing. Lady Heather took the leather strap in her two hands and swiftly slipped it 
around the thick base of his cock, the soft scrunch of the Velcro almost blending in with 
the sonata. Wilson sucked in a surprised breath.


Oh! Yes, that will do it, ahh! Tight but not bad, breathe, breathe—


“There. That will keep you from worrying about your pretty prick for a while. And it IS 
very pretty, James, all flushed and filled like this—“


Her nails lightly caressed the thick veins along his shaft and before he could stop it, 
Wilson gave a low groan of pleasure as he strained against the cuffs, arching his hips 
up.


Yes, ohGodyessjustlikeTHATjustlikeTHAT


“—but for now we have to leave it alone. There are so many lovely places on your body I 
want to torment first.” she inquired lightly, climbing up on the bed near his left hip and 
arching over his body. “Shall we play?” Lady Heather’s proximity galvanized his skin; 
Wilson licked his lips and nodded.


She began.


*** *** ***


I can’t, I can’t more please more ohhh good, so perfect, so damned—yessssssss 
lovethis, lovethisTOUCHmeoohIwant that right there, just so yes I-I-I---


The gleam of sweat on his body made Lady Heather smile. Wilson lay sprawled on the 
bed, flexing his fists as he dreamily closed his eyes. She ran the tiny spikes across his 
ribcage and down over his abdomen; in the candlelight the Wartenburg wheel glistened.


He gasped.


“You’re a glutton for sensation, James. Utterly lost in what I’m doing to your hungry 
body here,” she cooed. “And you ARE hungry for this, aren’t you? Prickles and tickles, 
all over your naked skin. Tell me, what do you want?”


He sighed restlessly, his temples damp, the faint shadow of beard beginning to show 
along his jaw line. Very slowly the words leaked out of him. “Mmmore. Please—“


“More please, Mistress—“ Lady Heather corrected, pulling the wheel up from his 
stomach. The loss of sensation made him twitch.


“More please, Mistress.” came his rapid echo, thick and dazed. Lady Heather blew a puff 
breath over his skin. She could see that Wilson was close to overload; that his breathing 
was erratic now and his nipples were pebbled up and must be aching. She leaned down 
and lightly traced her tongue over his lips, enjoying the warm salt on the softness there.


“Oh darling James. You’ve been such a good, good man. But we have to stop for a 
while. You need to relax. You need something to drink.”


No! Don’t stop, please, don’t!


Wilson stared at her, confused. Lady Heather pressed a kiss to his mouth, savoring the 
quick delicious taste as he obediently opened his lips to hers. No hesitation, no self-consciousness now in James Wilson.


“A little water with ginger in it, darling. To soothe your throat,” she urged, reaching for 
the crystal goblet and cradling his head up so that he could drink. Wilson swallowed the 
water, blessing the cool sips sliding down his throat.


Need that. Trembling. Ultimate stimulus/response. This is the edge—fascinating. Naked,
cuffed and not the slightest bit fazed by it now. Acclimation? Or acceptance? Don’t care. 
I’m alive. Alive—


“Slowly Tyro, or you’ll choke. That’s NOT a sensation you want—“ Lady Heather teased 
softly. She set the goblet on his flat stomach and the cool bottom of the glass chilled his muscles. Wilson fought to hold still, and she brushed his damp bangs back from his 
forehead. Her gaze traveled down his body in one long sweep.


“You’ve handled a lot of stimulation already, James. Feathers and fur, beads and now 
the wheel. So many sweet places on your elegant body respond to me: the crooks of 
your elbows, the insides of your knees, this sexy little spot between your jaw and 
shoulder . . .” Lady Heather dipped her finger in the water glass, then touched the patch 
just under and behind his ear, letting the wetness seep against his hot skin. Wilson bit 
his lips and the water in the glass on his stomach shivered.


“But it’s time to touch other places, James. Time to focus where you REALLY want to 
feel things, isn’t it?” She dropped a hand over his mouth. “You want to be at my mercy 
when I caress you . . . there. When I play with your prick.”


“Unghhhh . . .” his nostrils flared; his eyes glittered brightly. Lady Heather laughed, a 
flirtatious, feminine note in her voice.


“How good can you be? I’ll play with you, yes, I will . . . but I’m leaving the glass on your stomach, James. Do. Not. Spill.”


And carefully, she shifted, kneeling between his spread knees on the end of the bed, 
running her hands along his thighs. Wilson tugged once more on his bonds, being 
careful not to flex his stomach.


I can’t. Don’t move, she’ll stop if I spill ohh, still, very stillllllll


Lady Heather lightly cupped her fingers around his straining shaft, tenderly touching 
the searingly hot satin flesh of his cock. She stroked upwards, her nails barely touching. 
Wilson bit back a grunt.


“You want release so much, too. So hard, so eager, James. It feels so alive in my hands. 
Would you like feathers or fur?”


Stunned, he blinked several times, his hips beginning to rock forward and up, the water 
glass shaking very slightly.


Touchtouchtouchplease . . .


“Fur!” Wilson blurted, “Please, ah, Mistress—“


Lady Heather wiggled her nose at him. Very slowly, she reached to the edge of the bed 
and picked up the long sleek tail of black mink. She dangled it over his hip, letting the 
cool fur glide on his skin, and down one thigh. Wilson watched raptly, and she could 
see the long cords of his forearms straining against the cuffs again; his ribs hollowing 
out as he drew in his breath. The goblet rocked a tiny bit.


“Careful, Tyro darling.” She warned him, and then lassoed the sable in a soft, tickly loop 
around his prick.


FuckOHGodmoremmoreMORE----


“You like this, the soft sweet kiss of fur on your big cock, don’t you? Because, darling 
James, under your lab coat and careful calm demeanor you DO have animal drives. 
Strong nasty urges that MUST be kept under control. Well you are under MY control, 
and if I want to let you come, I will. Do you want that? Will you beg for a chance to let 
your aching balls empty against my silky pretty fur?”


Wilson wet his lips.


“P-Please—“


“Please, what, darling hungry horny James? Please what?”


“Please let me come—“


She tightened the glossy fur noose and slid it up and down on his shaft, while gently 
pulling off the Velcro ring that had held Wilson’s orgasm back. His thighs tensed; the 
cords stood out on his throat while his hips thrust up in a vain attempt to increase the 
pleasured stroking of that soft brush around his heavy cock.


The goblet began to fall; swiftly Heather pinned it with one hand, still moving the furry 
loop snugly with the other with calm coordination. Wilson yanked on his bonds, his 
spine arching now, deep groans rising out of his throat. His eyes were clamped shut and 
his heels pushed down for more leverage, more friction.


“OhhGOD!“


ComingcomingAhhhhhgoodmoreYESNOWNOWNOWOHHHHHHH


And then there were no words, just whitehot flashes going off behind his closed eyelids, 
the creak of the bed and Wilson’s slow pleasured groans as his cock pulsed, erupting in 
a thick torrent that overflowed and cascaded down over the snug sable loop around his 
dick, splashing on his hips and stomach. Lady Heather smiled, gently letting him slow 
down, savoring pleasure in seeing him so utterly caught up in his orgasm.


When Wilson finally stopped, lying back against the bedspread, replete and quiet, she 
moved. Carefully she gripped the goblet, lifted it and poured the rest of the cool water 
over his still-turgid cock.


Wilson gasped happily, his long lean body tensing in a final spasm of nerve-tingling pleasure/pain.


Yes. Alive, yes.


*** *** ***


She didn’t let it get awkward, and Wilson marveled at how easily Lady Heather did that. 
Gently she uncuffed him, kissed his wrists and praised him, helped him to the shower 
and stepped in with him, keeping her arms around his waist, steadying his clumsiness.


“I . . .” he kept trying to speak; she kept shaking her head. In the steamy flow of the 
shower she looked like an exotic mermaid, big blue eyes crystal bright, dark hair 
plastered by the spray. The water soaked her catsuit, made it fully transparent so she 
braced him against the wall and carefully took the soggy thing off, draping it over the 
shower door before turning back to him and smiling.


“Come here—“ Lady Heather held out her arms, and Wilson slid into her hug, holding 
her as the water pounded down on the pair of them standing there, swaying under the 
heat. They stood there for a long time, and finally she reached behind him and turned it 
up, muffling her laugh against his collarbone.


Wilson felt pretty good himself.


It was only natural to kiss then, and move gently under the flowing water. She was light; 
easy to pick up. The cold tile made her gasp and arch her hips against his; Wilson 
pinned Lady Heather against the wall and took her, savoring the nip of her teeth into the 
muscle of his shoulder, the hot luscious drive deep into her hungry body. She was 
trembling with every stroke, and when she came, he did too, this time slow and sweet 
and drenched.


*** *** ***


There were two robes waiting in the bedroom, and his clothes had been freshly pressed. 
A cold buffet stood waiting on a little cart just inside the door. Wilson arched an eyebrow 
at Lady Heather, who—


--Blushed. She tightened the belt on her robe, and glanced down for a moment before 
looking up to meet his tender gaze.


“I like you, James Wilson. You are . . . a special man.”


He blinked a little, touched deeply by her words, and the intimate underlying message 
in them. He smiled, and gallantly pulled out a chair for her at the small linen covered 
table near the fireplace. She slid into the chair with feline grace, amused and touched 
by his gesture. Wilson lifted lids and examined the spread: cold roast beef, cheeses and 
grapes, chilled ambrosia with mango and pineapple in the whipped cream and a chilled 
bottle of sparkling wine. He gave a low whistle.


“This is . . . magnificent.”


“And necessary,” Lady Heather laughed. “Take a moment to consider yourself. Are you
hungry?”


Ravenous.


“Ravenous.”


“That’s because you’ve expended a great number of calories during the scene. It’s to be expected, and you should keep that in mind.”


Wilson hesitated. He picked up a plate and looked at her, gesturing to the banquet and 
she dimpled at his offer.


“A slice of the beef, two of the cheese, and four or five grapes please.”


Carefully he served it up, setting the plate before her with a flourish, a habit from his 
waitering days. Lady Heather gave an approving nod and held off until he’d loaded up 
his own plate and sat down opposite her at the table. She took a bite and sighed.


“Now comes the chance to talk, James. How do you feel?”


He focused on slicing the roast beef for a moment longer before speaking up. “Better 
than I have in a very long time. I’m still trying to sort out the rest of it, but physically I’m 
fine.”


Lady Heather gave an understanding nod. “Good. You’ve been ready for this for a while 
I think. I suspected as much on the first night you were here.”


Wilson shot her a sharp, questioning look and she continued gently. “You weren’t . . . 
shocked. Or judgmental. Which told me you’d either thought of or considered some of 
the practices we do here and of course the first step is always consideration. So I made 
you more comfortable and let you see that setting your desires into action wasn’t as 
difficult as you might have thought they were.”


“A seduction of sorts,” Wilson agreed. “But why make the effort?”


She looked at him for a moment, a tenderness in her smile. “Because I sensed your unhappiness, James. I saw a man with all the outer trappings of success and 
professional success trapped with an inner loneliness he couldn’t share with anyone. A 
man wondering if he was normal, or even sane at times. A man with a need.”


Wilson was quiet for a moment, letting her words sink in. He looked over to the bed, and 
back to her, his expression troubled.


“I’m not sure I really understand any more than I did before we started. I mean, I had an amazing experience—“ he rushed to reassure her, and Heather softly laughed, “—the 
sheer intensity was beyond anything I’ve experienced in regular sex, but I don’t think I 
could handle this all the time.”


“And that’s part of it James. It’s like chocolate.” He blinked, and she reached over to 
take his hand, her cool ones engulfing his bigger, warmer one. “An analogy. Most of us 
are happy with vanilla in our lives. It’s good and rich and soothing. But some of us crave 
a little something more every now and then; we have a need for a flavoring beyond 
vanilla. Not all the time, not every time, but the yearning is there and real. You’ve had 
years of vanilla, James, and you’ve tried to convince yourself that vanilla is all you 
SHOULD be wanting. Then you walked into my mansion of chocolate, and took the 
chance that maybe, just maybe—“


“—I might like another flavor once in a while,” he finished, his smile amused but still 
troubled. “And yes, chocolate is damned good. But I have a life, and I’m not sure just 
where . . . chocolate fits into that.”


Lady Heather let go of his hand and cocked her head.


“That I can’t answer, James—you’ll need to work that out for yourself. All I do know is 
that you ARE normal, sane and very special. Wanting to be submissive once in a while, 
to be tied down and sensually tortured is one of the most common fantasies we cater to 
here.”


“Really?” Wilson looked pleased. Lady Heather nodded.


“Really. There are more chocolate lovers out there than you’d think.”


They finished eating, talking with an easy give and take. By the time they were done, 
another discreet knock sounded on the door. Heather answered it, accepting the freshly laundered and pressed suit. She turned and handed it to Wilson. He regretfully began 
to get dressed, and when he was nearly done, Heather stepped up and tied his tie, her 
voice low and pleased.


“And now the hour of departure, darling James. I have three pieces of advice for you 
because you ARE a special man.”


“Please.”


“First of all, I’d like you to take the time to re-evaluate what you really want. Tonight was 
very good, very . . . liberating for you, but it would be all too easy to dismiss it once you 
return home.”


“I don’t think I’ll ever dismiss it,” Wilson reassured her in a serious tone, watching her 
long fingers slide a perfect Windsor up to his collar front. She nodded.


“The second piece of advice is this: you can enjoy chocolate at home. Find a nice . . . 
chef to play with. A man as charming and sensual and kind as you are is rare, James. 
And if you have the added intimate talent for receiving as well as giving, you’ll have no 
END of cooks in your life.”


He looked a little doubtful, and cleared his throat. “It’s not as easy as that. Even giving 
in here, to you, took . . . trust.”


“Exactly. It’s harder to get your needs met if you don’t think you can even express them, 
James. Take your time, and if you find someone whom you can trust, heart AND soul—
that’s the time to consider things beyond vanilla.”


He nodded. Lady Heather gave his tie a gentle pat then stepped back eyed him 
affectionately. Wilson ran a hand through his hair. “And your last piece of advice, Lady Heather?”


“Ah. Well, because I know life isn’t always easy, it’s this. Should you find yourself 
needing another session with someone—myself preferably, but even if it’s not—then a 
token of appreciation for lovely services rendered is always de rigueur. Most specialists 
have a preference for jewelry.”


Wilson blushed a little, but kept his chin up. “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend?”


“Diamonds are a lovely tax write off,” she responded softly. “In our case, please don’t 
feel obligated, awkward or anxious because tonight was a gift to myself as much as 
anything else. I haven’t had such a personally rewarding time in ages, James. Thank 
you.”


“But—“ he began, but she shook her head, laying gentle fingers on his chiseled lips.


“Shhhh. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again. You are a special man, Doctor James 
Wilson. And I’ll remember you for a very long time.”


*** *** ***


The package came by private courier several days later, showing up in the smooth grip 
of a tall delivery man unfazed and discreet. Lady Heather noted it had no return 
address, but bore a postmark from Princeton. When she unwrapped it, two items came 
to light. The first, a lush palm-sized blue velvet box, opened easily, and resting on a bed 
of satin lay a pendant in diamonds and sapphires.


Heather laughed softly, and picked the piece up, admiring the tiny jeweled umbrella 
that twinkled in the light.


She glanced down at the second box, and this one brought a sigh of even deeper 
pleasure as she picked up the gold-wrapped heavy brick of Valrhona Carre de Guanaja chocolate.


End.

 



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