“For God’s sake, not another one.”
“You okay in there?” Sara, my assistant, called out from the waiting room.
I crumpled up the offensive sheet of paper and, with a sharp flick of my wrist, slammed it in the trash can on the floor under my desk. Stepping out of my office, I let out an exhausted sigh and dropped into one of the plush office chairs scattered around. I tilted my head back and closed my eyes, a throbbing beginning at the base of my skull. “I’m fine. Just another damn letter from my so-called secret admirer. I’ve lost count of how many I’ve received. I only know I’m so tired of them. I can’t wait to get to D.C. and away from whoever this person is.”
“I hate that some creepy stalker is driving you away.” Her words were full of hurt. I peeked one eye open to glance over at her. She was shuffling papers around on her desk, refusing to look at me.
“It’s not just that, Sara. I need a change of scenery. Things are… stagnant for me here. I’m not moving forward like I should be. Vince and I called it quits months ago. I haven’t been to Eden to play since then. I can’t bear to see him with another submissive. It’s still too raw.”
Finally, her eyes full of sadness, met mine. “You know running away from your problems never changes anything.”
“I’m not running away per se,” I replied sheepishly, because she knew I was lying.
“Your patients are going to miss you. You know that, right?” she didn’t even bat an eyelash at trying to guilt trip me.
“Man you sure know how to hit where it hurts. I’ll miss them too, but you know as well as I do they’re going to continue getting excellent patient care from Dr. Sloane. You have to admit she even won you over, albeit reluctantly.”
Sara sighed in frustration. “Yes, she’ll be a great replacement for you, even if she’s not you. I understand why you’re doing it though. It’s just that I’m going to miss you, Madeline. You’re the best boss I’ve ever worked for. Besides, who else am I going to live vicariously through? All the talk of domination and submission really makes me want to try it out for myself. You’re the only person I feel comfortable talking with about that kind of stuff. Both of which make me sound like such a selfish bitch.”
“You’re not being selfish. I’m going to miss you too, but over the last couple years I’ve felt this sense of restlessness. I’m thirty-six years old, and something is missing from my life. I just don’t know what. I have amazing friends, you included, and up until a few months ago I had Vince. When it became obvious he couldn’t give me what I needed, we grew apart. The shitty thing was, I couldn’t even tell him what I needed. He’d tried everything, but it hadn’t filled this… void inside me. I knew no matter what, I wasn’t the right submissive for him.”
Sara sat forward in her chair. “I know how hard the break up was for you.”
I nodded. “I was devastated. It’s my job to help people figure out what it is they want and need out of life, yet I can’t even help myself. You know when those letters started arriving, I was actually a little flattered. I felt admired in a way.”
I thought back to that first one. It was innocuous, bland even. Then they started coming more frequently, and I got creeped out. It wasn’t long before I was getting a new letter a few times a week. Each one more graphic than the last, professing the admirer’s love and devotion and how he couldn’t wait for us to finally be together.
“I get it, and you know, even with all my bitching, I only ever want the best for you.”
I rose from my chair and circled the desk, leaning down to give her a giant hug. “I’m so glad to call you friend, and you know I’m only a phone call away.”
We were quiet for a moment before Sara broke the silence. “So, when’s the going away party?”
* * *
Five hours later I was home and cuddled up on my couch after a long day of seeing patients. I’d just poured the last bit of moscato from the bottle when my phone rang. I smiled when I saw the name on the caller ID.
“You ready to take D.C. by storm, Parrish?” The deep, gravelly voice of my best friend soothed me in a way I didn’t know I needed. I relaxed into the couch sipping my wine.
“I’m more than ready to see this new city of mine. The movers are coming on Thursday for all my stuff. I said goodbye to all my patients this week, so there’s nothing more I need to do except head up there.”
“I can’t wait. I’ve missed your sorry mug.”
I shook my head. Leave it to Garreth to give a compliment like that.
“I’ve missed you too.” I cringed at the loneliness in my voice. Thankfully, Garreth missed it, since he continued without skipping a beat.
“You have no idea how relieved I am too that you’re getting away from that town and whatever loser has been sending you those letters.”
I stretched my neck from side to side to release the kink. “You’ve always been overprotective of me. Ever since I fully immersed myself in this lifestyle.”
Through the phone I could almost see Garreth shake his head. “You were so reckless back then. A newbie sub who had no idea what the hell she was doing. I tried to warn you about fake Doms, ones who played the part, but were really just looking for an excuse to smack a woman around. Did you listen? Of course not.”
“You have no idea how shocked I was when I discovered you were a Dom. I mean Trish and I were friends, and roommates, for two years, and I had no idea you guys were in the lifestyle. She never once hinted at it. Maybe because she was jealous of how seamlessly you and I connected.”
Garreth groaned. “I tried explaining to her there was nothing between you and me. That you were like my sister, but she never believed me. It was what eventually destroyed our relationship.”
I sipped my wine. “I figured that’s why she ended our friendship as well. She didn’t give me a reason, she just ghosted. In the end, I guess it doesn’t matter. You turned out to be a far better friend than she ever was to me. Meeting you was the best thing to happen to me. I’m so glad you’re my friend. And I’m even more glad that you and Hadlee convinced me to move to D.C. I’m so excited to see what the city, and Black Light, have to offer.”
“The men here won’t know what hit ‘em. You’re going to love this place as much as I do. When do you start work again?”
“I took two weeks off, so I’ve officially been on vacation for”—I glanced at the giant antique grandfather clock I’d inherited from my mother—“almost six hours now.”
“Perfect. I’ll be over on Friday to help you unpack. Then we’re going to play tourists, and we’ll take you to see all the monuments and memorials. Saturday, Hadlee and I are taking you to Black Light. We’ll get you a visitor’s pass at the door. You’ll also need to sign a non-disclosure agreement. I’ll go over the rules of the house before we get there.”
I shifted in my chair before taking another swallow of wine. “I don’t know if I’m ready for that yet,” I said cautiously.
“I can’t believe you’re going to make me talk about feelings,” Garreth sighed in mock-disgust. “Look, I know you’ve been having a hard time since the breakup, but I think Black Light will be good for you. Find yourself a Dom to scene with. You need to release all the frustrations you’re bottling up. It’s not good for you.”
There was the slight command in his tone at the end. Damn it, he’d pulled out the Dom voice. Even though we’d never scened together, he was too much like my big brother, my inherent submissive side couldn’t help but obey, and he knew it, the jerk.
Still, I couldn’t help but chuckle. “I thought I was supposed to be the psychologist. Shouldn’t it be me dishing out the advice here?”
“If that were the case, you’d be stuck living in Pinegrove, bemoaning your sad state of loneliness, and not moving on with your life. That’s why you have me. I give out awesome advice, like moving here, and the best part is, it’s free.”
This was why I loved Garreth. He didn’t bullshit me and always told me like it was.
“I know, I know. You’re right. I’ll go to Black Light and have the best time. Who knows, maybe I’ll meet the Dom of my dreams there.”
He laughed. “That’s the spirit. Now get some sleep, and call me when you get in town Thursday, okay?”
I saluted even though he couldn’t see me. “Yes, Sir. Love ya. Tell that beautiful sub of yours I said hello too.”
“Will do. Drive safe, and I’ll see you when you get here. Night.”
I disconnected the call and tossed my phone on the coffee table before finishing off my wine. My eyes scanned my living room and all the boxes stacked against the wall. I was going to miss my house, but I truly was excited to see what D.C., and Black Light, had to offer. I rinsed out my glass and headed to the bathroom to get ready for bed. Once in my sleep tank, I crawled under the covers, all the while knowing I’d never get to sleep. I’d been hoping the wine would help, but I was too wound up thinking about what the future held.
While I lay there, my mind drifted to the letter I received today. Of course Garreth knew about them. As did another Dom friend, Connor, who owned a security firm. He recommended I take them to the police, which I did. Unfortunately, they told me that since they weren’t threatening in nature, merely a tad creepy, there wasn’t much that could be done. I didn’t know who’d written them so I couldn’t get a restraining order. It was purely a wait and see if something happens and go from there scenario.
There was something I’d noticed in the last few months about them though that I don’t think even Connor noticed. The ‘voice’ of the notes had changed slightly, right around the time Vince and I broke up. Whereas when they first began, they were almost child-like in their ardor. But these last few were more… I don’t know, educated I guess. And much more graphic. It was so subtle though, I don’t think anyone would notice if they weren’t really studying them. But that’s what I did. I studied the human mind. Which meant I analyzed each letter, trying to discover something about its author.
What type of person was sending them to me? And why me? Why did he — which wasn’t an absolute that the author was a male, but I was pretty positive it wasn’t a woman — why did he become so fixated on me? At first, I wondered if it was one of my patients, but I dismissed the thought. Chances were great it was someone I knew though. Regardless, I was glad to be leaving town.
When Garreth suggested moving to D.C., I practically jumped at the chance. Especially when he mentioned Black Light. I loved my local club, but I’d never developed a real connection with any of the Doms there, not even Vince. Was there something fundamentally wrong with me? I shook off the self-damaging thought.
I hadn’t told anyone besides close friends where I was moving, which made me feel a little safer. I shivered a little at the sense of dread that suddenly crawled across the back of my neck, sending a chill through me. Ignoring the sensation, I flopped over onto my side and adjusted my pillow before closing my eyes, hoping sleep would come for me.