Emily discovered the book on kinbaku rope bondage by accident.
She woke up before Vincent that day. She spent a couple moments curled up against his broad back and inhaling the masculine scent of sleep on him, savoring how solid he felt in her arms. Morning sunlight diffused through the linen curtains, bathing the cream-colored sheets in a warm glow that flattered Vincent even as sleep caked his eyes and his jaw hung slack. Emily smiled. Vincent grunted but showed no other signs of getting out of bed, his breathing slow and even. They were still in the early stages of their relationship—they’d met a few months ago while they were both getting their oil changed, of all things—but she’d slept over a few times by that point, and she was familiar enough with the layout of his cozy studio apartment to get out of bed and put a kettle of water on the stove herself.
As she waited for the kettle to come to a boil, she browsed Vincent’s bookshelf. He had a small collection of books that matched the minimalism of the rest of his space. Only his favorites were here: graphic novels, a couple poetry books, a few plays and classics, several fantasy and science fiction books, a few reference books, and an art book or two. Tucked against the very edge and almost hidden by the bookshelf’s trim was a heavy, hardcover tome that Emily had missed on her previous perusals of Vincent’s book collection. Emily stroked its plain spine before easing the volume out of the shelf, admiring the illustration of intricate knot work on the cover. She sat on a kitchen barstool and opened the book on her lap.
The glossy pages revealed photos of women bound in various positions, rope work forming patterns across their skin. Blocks of text in Japanese accompanied diagrams showing how to reproduce the ties in the photographs. Emily flipped through the pages, intrigued by the graceful lines of the models’ bodies. She was so engrossed that she didn’t notice when the kettle whistled, or when Vincent padded into the room.
“Good morning,” he said, rubbing his eyes. His black hair was still mussed from the night before, and his boxers hung low on his hips, revealing the Vs framing his abdomen. He hadn’t shaved in a couple days, but Emily didn’t mind, even if the stubble made their kisses pricklier and left her lips heated with friction. It still stunned her how she’d gotten such a catch. She thought she was average, maybe pretty, but Vincent was breathtaking with his understated allure. Emily didn’t find herself drawn to any particular race when she was dating, but she’d be lying if she pretended like Vincent’s allure could be separated from his Chineseness. His high cheekbones could cut glass, but his softer features made him look ethereal. She loved the differences between them, her blonde hair and blue eyes contrasting against his black hair and brown eyes, the sharp lines of her nose and high bridge compared to the gentle rounding of his, the golden hue of his skin against hers.
“Morning,” she said, smiling. The book still lay open in her lap. A second passed before Vincent noticed it. When he did, he flushed.
“Ah.” He ran a hand through his hair. “Um.”
Emily laughed and set the book on the counter beside Vincent’s chicken-shaped salt and pepper shakers. She stood and pulled Vincent close, planting a kiss on his cheek.
“Didn’t know you were into these kinds of things,” she said, her tone light and teasing.
“I might be,” Vincent said, his cheeks still pink. Emily stroked his shoulder and traced down the length of his arm to entwine her fingers in his.
“So,” she said, her smile turning wicked, “you want to see me tied up?”
“No!” he said, flustered. She must have looked surprised, because Vincent followed up with a quick, “I mean. I wouldn’t be opposed; it’s just that—”
He went silent, biting his lip in a way that Emily knew meant he didn’t quite know how to talk about what was on his mind. It took only another moment for her to figure out what he was holding back. Her eyes twinkled.
“It’s just that… you want to be the one tied up, isn’t it?”
The way Vincent pressed his lips together into a tight line as his cheeks flushed a deeper red told Emily all she needed to know. She planted a kiss on the curve of his neck and nipped the skin there, eliciting a tiny gasp from Vincent. She laughed again, untwining her fingers from his. She went over to the kettle and turned off the burner.
“Coffee or tea?” she said, taking down the French press as Vincent stepped away.
“Coffee, thanks,” Vincent said, his voice carrying from the bathroom. Emily took down the coffee beans and ground them before putting them into the French press. She heard the water run for a moment, then the sound of Vincent brushing his teeth.
“You know,” Emily said, sitting back down with the book as she waited for the coffee to brew, “I can probably grab some rope from the supply store, and I’m free tonight, if you wanted to… try anything.”
Vincent sputtered. Emily waited for a ‘no,’ but when none came, she settled in and began to study the diagrams more closely.
Emily hadn’t pegged Vincent as the type to sub or bottom, but knowing that he wanted to wasn’t a surprise, either. She’d dated a number of men who wanted to be dominated, and she was more than willing to oblige. Most of them, however, weren’t as pliant as Vincent, as ready to submit, even if he wasn’t as forthcoming about it with words—his body language told her everything.
“You’ll tell me if it’s too tight, won’t you?” she said, threading the end of the rope through a knot.
As a nurse, Emily had splinted wounds, wrapped bandages, and tied sutures before, but the knot work involved in kinbaku was new to her. It required focus and patience. Even though the explanations were in Japanese, the diagrams were clear enough to her. Vincent held steady with his knees against the hardwood floor as she finished weaving a simple chest harness around him. The harness kept his arms behind him in a box-tie position that was comfortable but still restrictive.
“As for safe words,” she said, coming around to behind Vincent and making sure his hands were still warm with good circulation, “how about ‘yellow’ for slow down, and ‘red’ for stop?”
Vincent nodded again. God, how Emily loved to see him like this, taut like a bowstring, muscles smooth beneath his skin. She was fully clothed, the V-neck of her tank top just low enough to flash a hint of lacy bra, the garter belt holding up her stockings peeking out from under her modest skirt, while Vincent was naked and bare before her, every inch of him exposed. His jewelry glinted in the warm light of his bedroom: the barbells through his nipples, the Prince Albert and frenum piercings through his cock. She loved that she was in on his secret and knew what he hid underneath all his conservative business wear.
She nuzzled the curve between his neck and shoulder, then nipped at his earlobe.
“What am I going to do with you now?” she murmured, delighting in the shiver that went through Vincent.
“Uh-uh,” Emily said, shaking a finger at him. “You’re going to call me ‘Mistress’ when I’m domming you.”
“Yes, Mistress,” Vincent breathed, sending a bolt of pleasure through her. Oh, she’d have him calling her name soon enough, crying and begging for her.
“Yes, baby?” she said, running her hands along his abs, careful not to touch any of his sensitive spots. “What do you want me to do?”
She let the silence stretch between them. They’d mostly done vanilla things so far. Vincent had generally taken the lead, though Emily had no qualms expressing what she wanted and guiding Vincent to show him how to pleasure her. But she did notice that Vincent was quieter about his own wants and how he felt. It wasn’t that he was hesitant to submit to her—his very pliancy now showed as much—but she could tell that he was used to being put together and dignified, stoic and unemotional, and didn’t often let himself come undone. On top of that, he was an introvert and not particularly vocal about sharing any of his thoughts or needs at a given time.
She wanted to change that.
“Well,” she said, “I have an idea.”
She seated herself on the bed, leaving Vincent kneeling on the ground before her.
“You’re all tied up, so I’ll have to get myself off.”
She slipped off her panties and tossed them aside, watching Vincent’s eyes follow the long lines of her legs. She hiked up her skirt and spread herself, allowing Vincent a good view of her. She suckled on two of her fingers, grinning at the way Vincent watched her, wordless, his breaths already becoming shallower. She rested a finger on the curved barbell through the hood over her clit, then stroked herself with small, circular motions. Sighing, she let her head fall back to expose her throat.
When she dipped her fingers lower, she caught the wetness already beginning to slick her skin and gently tugged at the rings on her labia before spreading herself and slipping a finger inside.
“Mmm,” she said, looking back up and meeting Vincent’s gaze. “Not quite as good as you, but this’ll do for now.”
She stroked deeper, curling her fingers and groaning, not daring to break eye contact with Vincent. She could see his hardness growing, his breaths becoming more ragged; her own pleasure swirled inside her, building languidly as she teased him.
“Mistress,” Vincent said, his voice already hoarse. Emily flushed, her heart skipping a beat.
“I…” Vincent paused, collecting himself before saying, “I want you.”
“Is that so?”
She stroked herself harder, drawing a moan from her lips. Vincent flexed against the ropes, as if testing their hold; he moved his arms, as if he were trying to free his hands from the tie so he could reach her.
“Hmm.” She licked another finger and drew circles on her clit as she fingered herself, sending a jolt of pleasure through her that had her crying out. Vincent groaned, sweat starting to bead on his skin. Emily played with herself for a few moments longer, drawing out Vincent’s torment, before pulling out her wet-slicked fingers and standing before him.
“You want me?” she said, touching her fingers to Vincent’s lips. His tongue darted out to taste her, to suck her clean.
“Mmm,” he said, lips around her.
“Well, if you insist,” she said. She drew level with him, standing with her legs apart, baring herself to him. “Put that lovely mouth of yours to work, baby.”
She never quite knew what exactly he did when he went down on her, but it sent sparks through her body, made her legs tremble as his tongue slid along her slit. She liked to imagine that he was sucking at the fat lips of her pussy, his chin running with his spit and her slick, the scent of her marking his face as he tugged at her with his teeth, knowing that she could handle more than she let on.
“Vincent…” she breathed, grabbing his hair and pulling him closer, pressing him to her; he redoubled his efforts and went harder. He was so warm, focused entirely on her. She tightened her grip on his hair, earning an appreciative hum that ran through her. She brought her fist to her mouth, biting down on her knuckles to mask her mewling, until Vincent hit a stride with her that made her cry out, pleasure cresting to a peak, the orgasm rolling through her.
Head spinning, she let go of Vincent and kneeled until she was face-to-face with him, his lips shining with her wetness, his cheeks flushed. She leaned in and kissed him, tasting herself mixed with him.
“Still doing okay?” she asked, reaching behind him to check that his hands were still warm.
“Yes,” he said, tickling her neck. He kissed that delicate skin, caught her lips again when she leaned back on her haunches, surprising her. She leaned into the kiss, cupping his cheek and swallowing the sigh that slipped past his lips. When she broke away from him, his eyes were half-lidded, his lips parted; she steadied one hand on his chest, the rough rope contrasting against his smooth skin.
“You’re gorgeous, you know that?” she said.
“If you say so.”
It wasn’t that he didn’t believe it. It was more that he was used to deflecting compliments as a way to accept them, something that had confused her before she realized that it was just a cultural difference. As a White girl, moving from Ohio out to Los Angeles meant learning about people from different backgrounds: learning that Vincent, for all that he’d traveled the world, still regularly fell back into the roles and hierarchies his Chinese family and upbringing expected; learning that he was still accustomed to keeping his inner world private, to maintaining a certain façade of rigidity around others. To be the responsible elder brother; to be honorable, masculine in the appropriate ways, still boxed into the roles and hardness that the world expected of him.
She toyed with the jewelry in Vincent’s Prince Albert piercing.
“Vincent,” she said, tilting his chin up toward her. “Don’t hold back with me. You can be loud; you can tell me what you want. Anything.”
He was quiet for a moment, still as Emily looked into his eyes. They were a beautiful brown, deep and rich, almost black: a lovely shape, monolidded and perfect.
“I’ll try,” he said at last. “Openness doesn’t come naturally to me, though.”
“That’s all right,” Emily replied. She caressed the line of his hips, her fingers tracing back down to play with his jewelry, sliding his foreskin down to reveal the entirety of the ring. She swirled a finger in his pre-cum, traced it along the metal.
“Mistress,” he murmured.
“I—” His words caught in his throat as she stroked along the length of his cock and thumbed the ridge of his head. He sucked in a quick breath and tried again, breathing, “I want you to—to touch me, play with me.”
She palmed his full length, smirking as his breath hitched.
“I can certainly do that.”
He felt good in her hand: solid, rooted; she loved that she could only barely touch her fingertips to each other around him. She gave him one long, languid stroke, coaxing a soft exhale from him, a noise that was only barely audible. More strokes, a little tighter, a little faster. Vincent leaned his forehead against Emily’s shoulder and let out a tiny moan.
“That’s it,” she said, pressing a kiss to the top of Vincent’s head. “Let yourself go.”
Vincent murmured something, so quietly that Emily couldn’t make out what he said. She nudged him upright so that he was no longer leaning on her shoulder.
“What was that?” she said, slowing her rhythm and wrenching a groan from Vincent. He avoided her gaze.
Emily cupped his chin.
“Look me in the eyes and tell me what you want,” she said, her voice soft but firm.
When Vincent met her eyes, his gaze defiant, haughty almost, a thrill ran through Emily.
“Kiss me, Mistress,” Vincent said. Emily could’ve laughed at how simple the request was if it weren’t for how much she knew that asking for such affection must have been difficult for him: to admit that he didn’t just need the rough pleasure of sex, but also the intimacy of it.
So she obliged him. She touched her lips to his, chaste and sweet at first, only deepening the kiss when she felt him chasing for more. She stroked his cheek with one hand as her other hand pumped away at him. She nipped at his lip, drawing the tenderest ah! sound from him; she trailed her hand down to pinch his nipple, her own lips resonant with the soft mmm he murmured between them.
“Mistress,” Vincent said, breaking away from her, “I’m close.”
“Yeah. May I—” He let out a moan, low and rich, his chest hitching as he fought to finish his sentence. “May I come?”
“Well,” Emily said, tightening her grip and eliciting another sweet noise, sharp and inadvertent as it escaped him, “since you’ve been so good, I suppose you may.”
He leaned forward again, burying his face in her neck, his breaths ragged, tiny noises escaping him until they built up to something more raw and jagged pulled out from his chest rather than his throat—he pressed harder into her, and she cradled him there as he shuddered and let out a cry, muffled against her skin, louder than any other sound she’d ever heard from him.
“You’re lovely,” she said, kissing him again on the top of his head, her free hand stroking his hair. She withdrew her other hand from him, her palm warm and slick with his cum. She licked up a drop, then eased Vincent upright again, touching her sticky fingers to his lips, watching as he lapped himself up.
“What do you taste like?” she said, licking the last of the cum off her palm. “I never quite know how to describe it.”
“Persimmons,” Vincent said, without pause. Emily laughed.
“Yeah? I’ve never had one.”
“I’ll get you one when they’re in season,” Vincent said. “In the fall or winter.”
“I look forward to it,” Emily said, smiling. She washed her hands, then returned to pick apart the knots binding Vincent one by one, feeding the rope through until the harness around him came undone. He made a face as he freed his arms; Emily kissed his shoulders, rubbed them and his arms and hands, fingers tracing over the impressions the rope left on his skin. Not deep enough to leave red marks—just enough pressure to print the texture of the rope on him.
“How was it?” Emily asked as she continued to massage him. Vincent’s sighs of pleasure at this touch were different, less needy, but she still liked hearing them.
“I enjoyed it,” he replied. He placed his hands on her hips, the gesture steady and grounding.
“Enough to do it again?”
“Yes,” Vincent said, a little too quickly. Emily grinned and kissed him on the cheek.
“I’m looking forward to it.”
They experimented with other ties. It wasn’t always a sexual thing—both of them enjoyed the aesthetics of seeing rope on skin, of forming and unforming intricate designs that accentuated the planes of Vincent’s body. Sometimes it was about restraint, but more often than not, it was just the pleasure of it: the security of the rope for him; the secret knowledge of what was under Vincent’s clothing for her. On more than one occasion, she’d tied a hip harness on him that allowed for movement and hid easily under his suit and tie: a constant reminder of her touch, even if they were apart; a pressure against his skin that grounded him at work, where he spent all day dealing in international business.
Sometimes, Vincent would have to go on business trips, leaving him on one side of the globe and Emily on another for a week or two at a time. He was an experienced traveler who knew how to handle any mishap, but, having never flown outside of the country before herself, Emily would still get antsy. And Vincent wouldn’t show as much when they video chatted with each other, but he would admit that he missed her.
“Miss what, exactly?” Emily asked, her tablet propped up on the vanity as she changed out of her scrubs. She had a rare night off, and she and a couple of the girls were planning to go out to grab drinks.
“Everything,” Vincent replied. “I’m going touch hungry. And I miss the way you smell.”
Emily smiled. She unscrewed her tin of solid perfume and flashed it before the camera. “It’s just jasmine.”
“I know, but it’s you.”
She laughed as she dabbed the perfume on her wrists and behind her ears. “I’ll get another tin for you to carry with you next time.”
“I’d like that.”
“Would you use it?” she asked, combing her hair back into a ponytail.
“Wouldn’t it be a little too feminine?”
Emily thought about it: the light, delicate fragrance of jasmine mingled with the salt of his sweat, with that indescribable amber earthiness that was his scent alone. It was nearly enough to make her swoon.
“No, I don’t think so,” she said. Her mind wandered to the thought of the both of them skin-to-skin, the scent of jasmine rich on her and deepening on him, that persimmon-sweet taste on her tongue as she said his name.
“Huh?” Emily glanced back at the screen to see Vincent giving her a knowing look.
“Miss me too?” he said. Anyone but Emily would’ve missed the edge of mirth on his voice. She stuck her tongue out at him.
“Always. Anyway, I should get going. I’ll talk to you later, baby.”
Their reunions followed the same ritual: Emily fussing over Vincent when she picked him up from the airport—“I’m fine, really, the flight was very smooth”—before she pulled him close and kissed him on the forehead, something that felt oddly more intimate than a kiss on the lips.
As soon as they got home and the door clicked shut behind them, Vincent spared no time closing the distance between them, his lips on hers, eager and hungry. She put the same energy back into the kiss. She wound his tie around her wrist and gave it a tug as she broke away from him and trailed her lips instead on the line of his throat, the sharp angle of his Adam’s apple. He groaned, the sound of it needy as she slipped off his suit jacket.
“What will it be today, baby?” she asked.
“Do you want to try the tortoise shell one around the chest?”
“Whatever you’d like,” she said. She let Vincent finish taking off his clothing as she rooted around for their rope. This particular tie left his arms and legs unbound, a convenient base to add other restraints on top of. She unwound a length of rope and folded it in half to form the bight.
He nodded. The act of tying him was meditative: always a stickler for details, Emily followed the diagrams precisely, bringing the rope around his waist to form the lower belt before knotting the rope at equal lengths along his sternum. Vincent was quiet as she worked. She didn’t mind the silence. They settled comfortably into each others’ presence; she could feel that he was at ease.
She threaded the ends of the rope through the gaps between the knots, forming a design with three diamonds that rested on Vincent’s torso. Swaths of his skin peered through the straight angles of the rope.
“I think this is one of my favorites,” Emily said, stepping back to admire her work. It wasn’t the most complicated design—they’d have to work up to that—but it was still satisfying. Vincent ran a hand along the harness, fingers skipping from skin to rope to skin again.
“I like it too,” he said after a moment. “Though I wouldn’t be opposed to something more restrictive.”
“Oh, I can do that too,” Emily said, smiling as she pulled another length of rope taut. “On the bed.”
“How do you want me?” he asked. His seriousness, his readiness to listen to her every command, exhilarated her.
“On your back.”
He complied. The bedposts were convenient for looping rope through; she quickly had him spread-eagled with single-column ties holding his wrists and ankles in place.
“Not too tight?”
Vincent tested his fingers and toes.
“Good,” she said, her gaze appreciative. She leaned in again, pressing a kiss right over his heart. His chest rose and fell evenly, his breaths regular as he watched her, waiting to see what she would do. It struck her then, the trust that he put in her: the ease with which he allowed himself to be vulnerable with her, to surrender himself to her whims. Vincent was good at keeping his work and life separate, and Emily was discreet, being sure to keep the details of their relationship private so that Vincent could maintain his image as a conservative business man, especially before his clients from overseas. So to have him laid out here before her—her head spun with the power of it, the knowledge of how much control he was giving her. She would never betray his trust. Still, she knew that she could still coax more from him, too, push him harder, unravel him.
She kissed a line down his sternum, down until the firmness of muscle and bone gave way to the softer flesh of his stomach. He was already getting hard. She knew just how to bring him cresting over the edge—and also how to get him right to the precipice and let him hang there, anticipating the drop.
First, she took him into her hand, the rise of his inhalation echoed in her as she followed his movements. Gentle strokes, building that soft hum of pleasure on his lips: warm, the steady ripple of rolling waves building along a distant horizon. Just this could be enough for both of them, and some mornings it was all they did, build an eddy of pleasure that swirled without going anywhere.
But she wanted more from him this time. She quickened her pace, tightened her grip, watched as his expression turned from comfortable to wrought with feeling.
“Mistress,” he murmured, followed by shallow exhales and sharp inhales, tiny groans pulled from the back of his throat. His hands grasped at the air, helpless to hold on to anything. He rocked his hips, unhurried and slow at first, until he bucked against her, close, so very close—
She stopped and took her hand away, grinning at the keening whine that escaped his lips. He blushed, as if embarrassed the sound had come from him; he bucked again at the empty air, huffing in frustration.
“I’m not going to go easy on you today,” Emily said, cupping Vincent’s cheek. The glare he threw at her wasn’t hateful—more resentful, in a way that excited her, a way that she knew didn’t bear any real ill will.
She tugged at the jewelry in his Prince Albert piercing and pulled on one of the frenum barbells.
“Did you touch yourself while you were away?” she asked.
“A few times,” he replied. “Almost got walked in on once.”
“Yeah? What happened?”
“I was thinking of you,” he said, the lust already creeping back into his gaze, making her flush. “About fucking you: about telling you all the things that run through my mind when I’m in you. How beautiful you are, how good you feel.” She wanted to hear more, but Vincent paused, smirking. “Then, someone knocked on the door. I didn’t have a chance to say anything. I dove under the covers as the door opened and had to pretend my dick wasn’t still hard under the sheets when the housekeeper walked in.”
“Pfft.” She kissed the peak of his hip bone, on one side and then the other, before kissing the tip of his cock and swirling her tongue around it, eliciting an adorable anh noise. She ran her tongue along the length of him, metal and flesh alternating against her and eliciting a guttural moan from him. She took him into her mouth, her every movement pulling another sweet sound from him.
She looked up at him as she worked at him. He’d closed his eyes, his whole body tense beneath her; he’d turned his head to try to muffle his cries with the pillow. But he couldn’t bury the noises he was making, little obscene sounds that were growing in volume. By the time he was squirming beneath her, thrusting up into her mouth, he was chanting Mistress, Mistress, Mistress beneath his breath, shudders racking through him.
But she didn’t let him come, not just yet. She took her mouth away, earning a strangled cry.
“Fuck, stop being such a tease,” he hissed.
Emily tilted her head.
“Yeah? What do you want me to do?”
“Please, please let me come,” he pleaded. Emily could swear he was pouting. “I’m going to lose my mind.”
“Okay, okay, I won’t tease anymore,” she said, kissing him. She got off the bed and stood, pulling her top off over her head, tugging down her skirt. She unhooked her bra, smiling at the noise of appreciation Vincent made when he saw her breasts; she slipped off her panties, leaving her stockings on, then got back on the bed and straddled him.
“You’re wet,” he said, her slickness meeting the warmth of his stomach. She rolled her eyes.
“As if I wouldn’t be after watching you and hearing all those filthy noises coming out your mouth.”
Vincent hummed, rocking his hips beneath her.
“Please what?” she said, voice lilting and teasing. Vincent huffed.
“Goddammit,” he said, “I want to fuck you, I want my cock in you, I want you to ride me until we both come.”
“Well, since you asked so nicely,” Emily said, chest fluttering from his obscenities. She leaned forward to kiss Vincent’s neck before she spread herself and sat back onto him, taking him inch by inch, coaxing moans from both of them.
“God,” she said, burying her face in his chest, the rope rough against her skin. “Fuck.”
He had always been a bit big for her, but two weeks with only her fingers to pleasure herself had made her almost unbearably tight. She took a moment to just be there with him, the two of them skin-to-skin, the aching sensation of fullness washing over her. Finally, she pulled away from him to sit up straight, driving him deeper into her. She threw her head back and let another Fuck! escape from her.
She took the lead and was the first to move, slowly driving her hips before building into a more steady rhythm. She toyed with her nipples, toyed with her clit, letting whatever moans and babble fall from her lips.
“Fuck, that’s good…” she said before murmuring a string of curses.
“Vulgar, aren’t you?” Vincent said in between groans.
“Only when I’m enjoying it,” Emily replied.
He bucked at that moment, hitting her in just the right spot. She cried out, one of her hands flying out to hold on to him. She rode him harder as he thrust up to meet her, driving himself into a deeper core of her, thudding pleasure through her as she delighted in every drag of his cock, every time the ridge of his head slipped past her pussy lips. Emily found herself tipping her head back, her clit flushed and hard, reverberating with wave after wave of hot, overwhelming sensation as her cunt made obscene, sloppy sounds against him. She felt as if he were opening her up, driving her closer and closer to the brink as their hips slapped together harder and faster, her ass and her breasts bouncing with the impact of it all.
A sudden orgasm took over her before she could say anything: crest after crest of pleasure crashing over her, making her shudder and squirm, making every additional thrust that much more intense.
“Mistress, Mistress, Mistress…” Then, in one burst, he said, “Mistress, I’m going to come—please, may I…”
“Yes,” she said, breathless, riding out the last of her orgasm. “Come for me.”
Vincent shook beneath her, crying out loudly enough that she was sure whoever was next door or in the hall would hear.
“Mistress,” he murmured. “Mistress…”
She laughed, feeling his cum drip down her thigh as he withdrew from her. She leaned down and kissed him, swallowed his lingering babble, the last of his worship.
She parted from him a moment later, returning with a warm washcloth for them both, wiping him down first before she cleaned away the mess between her legs that so satisfyingly marked her as his. She tossed the washcloth into the hamper and came back to untie him.
First, she undid the four points holding him in a spread-eagle. As she undid each tie, she rubbed his wrists and his ankles in soothing circles. Then, as he sat cross-legged on the bed, she undid the tortoise shell tie, careful to ease the rope out gently so that the friction of pulling it wouldn’t burn his skin. She wound the rope into a neat coil when she was done and set it aside before rubbing his shoulders. She kissed between his shoulder blades, kissed the nape of his neck.
“I love you,” she said into the shell of his ear. They’d been dating for almost a year now, and the words had come naturally to her.
He was as still as when he was tied up and restrained, quiet save for the sound of his breathing. For a second, Emily wondered if she’d said something wrong—if it was too early to express such a thing. Or maybe he didn’t feel the same way. The possibility made her chest tighten.
“You mean it?” he said at last, his voice hushed. She came around to sit before him and nodded.
He peered at her, the darkness of his eyes catching the light in a way that her blue eyes didn’t. He seemed to be looking into her, his expression serious until it softened into something else: something she couldn’t quite describe, a tenderness that she’d never seen on him before.
He drew her into a tight embrace that took her by surprise. She relaxed into it, rubbing circles into his back.
“I love you too,” he murmured, the four syllables yielding himself to her in a way that nothing else had before.
Their one-year anniversary was on New Year’s Eve. It was Emily’s fault, really: she had been the one to kiss Vincent last year while everyone else was busy drunkenly singing “Auld Lang Syne.” The level of debauchery at Vincent’s office party promised to be similar this year, but when they arrived still early into the night, the lounge was almost empty, with just a few people setting up snacks and entertainment.
Vincent put a container of cut fruit down on the snack table.
“Go ahead and help yourself,” Vincent said.
“What kind of fruit is that?” Emily said, peering at the container. “Canteloupe?”
“Persimmons,” Vincent said as he took a seat by Emily on the couch. “Fuyu persimmons, to be precise. Try one.”
Emily speared a cube with a toothpick. She thought of herself as an open-minded person, but she still often hesitated before trying new food. She hoped that Vincent wouldn’t misread her hesitation as reluctance, or tease her for it. She went ahead and took a bite of the crisp fruit. It tasted somewhat like an apple, but not as sweet nor as tart. It was almost like a delicately spiced peach, but there was definitely another flavor that came to her mind.
“A little sweeter than I expected, but I’d say you’re right about the taste,” Emily said.
Vincent snorted, then cleared his throat.
“Anyway,” he said, his expression suddenly turning a cross between shy and embarrassed, “I have something for you. Come with me?”
Interest piqued, Emily followed him down the hall to his office, where he took a small, gift-wrapped box from his desk and presented it to her.
“Happy one-year anniversary.”
Curious, Emily took the gift and unwrapped it. She took off the lid to reveal a dainty necklace with a golden lover’s knot charm.
“Oh my God,” she said, taking the necklace out and fastening it on herself. “You nerd.”
“Do you like it?” Vincent asked, clearly trying to mask his nervousness.
“Of course,” she replied. “I have something for you, too.”
Her gift for him was also a tiny, wrapped box. Vincent undid the twine and unfolded the paper, revealing a tin of Emily’s favorite perfume. A slow smile spread across his face.
“‘These flowers are like the pleasures of the world,’” he said, circling a finger in the perfume and dabbing a touch to his skin. “Shakespeare.”
“You’re a hopeless romantic, you know that?” Emily said, laughing.
“You love it,” he replied, his voice coy. He leaned in and kissed her. She smiled against him, delighting when she felt it returned.
They still had a few hours before they had to be presentable in front of the others. Until then, she let the scent of jasmine and the taste of persimmons take over both of them.