Everything I know about making love last I learned from my mom and dad,
My mother and father have an unbreakable bond that still inspires me every day. They are my heroes every bit as much as the hockey legends I’ve worshipped since I was a kid strapping on my first pair of skates.
The lessons they taught me about love are priceless, and are what made it so easy to give up my kinkier tendencies when the time came.
At least at first…
When I first met Hailey, she was an eighteen-year-old college kid interning for the summer with the Badger’s physical therapist. With her perky blond ponytail, big blue eyes, and easy smile, she was innocence personified. She was also confident, driven, funny, and sexy in a subtle, unselfconscious way that drove me out of my damned mind.
I asked her out the day we met, even though the logical me insisted it was a dumb idea.
She was eight years younger than I was, inexperienced, sheltered—practically still a kid in a lot of ways. But she was also a cancer survivor, a fiercely self-assured young woman determined to do great things with her life, and her smile melted me from the inside out. I was helpless to resist her. She was beautiful in every sense of the word, and when we kissed for the first time, it felt so right I knew the moment she sighed and snuggled closer to my chest that I was never going to let her go.
I also realized that I was going to have to terminate my membership to the Playground, the secret BDSM club I’d been active in since my early twenties, and box up my handcuffs and paddle for the foreseeable future.
When we first got together, Hailey was a virgin and not a particularly experienced one, at that. I was the first man to undress her down to her bra and panties, the first to make her come, the first to taste her sweet, salty heat, and the first to push inside her, taking her virginity four months after our first date.
I’d never waited that long to take a woman to bed, but it was worth it. She was worth it. I would have waited years if that were what she’d needed to feel ready.
It was always making love with her. It was never just sex or fucking or getting off. It was a mingling of souls, a sacred communion, a way to worship at the temple of her beautiful body and even lovelier heart.
And for years, that was enough.
Love was enough.
I didn’t think about the box of toys tucked away at the back of my closet. I unsubscribed from the Playground mailing list and averted my gaze when I drove past the places where our group used to meet to indulge our cravings for control or a lack thereof. I pretended that Will the Dominant was another person, an old friend who’d left on a long business trip, never to return.
My career was taking off at the same time, and the increased media attention made it relatively easy to keep that part of me peacefully dormant. As an up-and-coming star forward for the Portland Badgers, the last thing I needed was a sex scandal. I knew it wouldn’t matter that I’d had the enthusiastic consent of every woman I’d tied up, spanked, or pushed down to kneel at my feet; the mere fact that I’d done any of those things would be a scandal.
So the Dominant inside me slept, while the rest of Will Saunders made a name for himself in the NHL and fell deeper and deeper in love with Hailey Marks.
And sure, sometimes I would wake up as hard as mid-winter ice, fresh from a dream featuring Hailey with her wrists bound behind her back, or Hailey draped over my lap, her ass red from the spanking she’d all but begged for with her defiance. But when that happened, I took care of it.
I jerked off in the shower or woke Hailey with my mouth between her legs, making her come so many times she didn’t seem to notice that when I finally fucked her I rode her harder than I usually would. That I slammed into her with the force of a man who needed more than soft and sweet, who needed the sharper edges of love he’d checked at the door when he’d started dating an eighteen-year-old virgin.
I thought everything was fine—not perfect, but so much better than good.
Loving Hailey felt so right, so perfect, so meant-to-be that I never dreamt she would say no to the ring I’d offered her at the annual Badgers pre-season party. I was that certain that, by the end of the night, we would be celebrating our engagement with family and friends.
Instead her eyes filled with tears and she ran.
She literally ran away from me, jogging across the crowded rooftop dance floor and darting into a closing elevator before my brain could process that shit was not going as planned. By the time I made it down the fifteen flights of stairs, there was no sign of her in the lobby of the Nines Hotel or on the street outside.
Hailey makes her living as a personal trainer and self-defense teacher, so I wasn’t surprised by her speed, simply shocked that she’s used it to get away from me.
There had been no sign, no warning, not a single fucking clue that our relationship was on the rocks. We’d been making out in the limo on the way to the party, for God’s sake, with her giggling and whispering for me to stop trying to slip a hand up her dress even as she wrapped her arms around my neck, holding on so tight I was sure she would never let me go.
But she did.
She not only let me go, she slammed the brakes on Us so fast it gave me whiplash.
When she finally answered my calls and texts three days later, she calmly explained that she still loved me, but that she had to say goodbye. She’d moved straight from her parents’ house to the condo we shared and had never proven to herself that she was strong enough to survive on her own. She insisted she had to do that, had to prove she could make it without a parent or an older boyfriend looking out for her if she was ever going to feel like a whole and healthy person.
I tried everything I could to convince her that she didn’t need to break up with me to feel complete—we could take a step back, live separately, or otherwise alter course without flushing our love down the toilet—but her mind was made up. And after five years together, I knew damned well that Hailey was every bit as stubborn as she is beautiful.
I knew fighting for her was a losing battle, but I fought anyway. I sent her gifts and letters and a shitty painting of a flower I made in the art class Wallace bullied me into taking with him in order to find a “healthy expression for my man pain.”
But nothing I said, did, or gifted made a difference.
Finally, after the saddest six months of my life, I stopped calling, stopped texting, stopped driving by the gym we co-own in hopes of catching a glimpse of her through the window. I stopped being a pathetic, love-sick asshole and started back down the road to the man I was before, a man who knew how to control his body, his mind, his emotions, and the submissive woman in his bed.
I wasn’t actively looking to get back into the scene, but the thought was definitely rolling around in my head, slowly becoming a temptation I didn’t want to resist.
That’s why I kept flipping the pages of the Portland Alternative free weekly until I reached the Love Wanted section, why I kept skimming until I reached the sub-seeking-Dom ads and came across a gem tucked away between several less imaginative offerings.
Wanted: Discreet Dominant gentleman to teach inexperienced,
maybe-submissive woman the rules of the game.
No whips, chains, paddles, handcuffs, ropes, or toys.
No creepy stuff.
No butt stuff.
Just the facts, Sir.
Serious inquiries only.
“But what if I can make you like the butt stuff, Curious Cat?” I murmur, a smile curving my lips as I flip open my laptop, create a new email account suitable for the occasion, and whip up a response to the ad.
Subject: Maybe submissive?
Hello Curious Cat,
I saw your ad and was intrigued…
Why are you “maybe” submissive?
I could be interested in applying for the position of your Discreet Gentleman, but I don’t have the time or patience for voyeurs. I do, however, have a significant amount of experience as a Dominant and a familiarity with the Portland scene that could prove useful if you decide you want to give any of the off-limits items on your list a whirl.
Several of them can be a lot of fun with the right person.
Care to tell me a bit more about where you’re coming from?
And just FYI, I’m thirty-one, in top physical condition to meet the demands of my job, drug free, disease free, creepiness free, and I don’t send people running in horror when they see my face, so you can be assured of an education from a well-kempt human being who flosses regularly. I also have three little sisters, a mother who means the world to me, a number of close female friends, and a healthy respect for women. You’ll be safe learning the ropes with me, and I’m willing to meet in public for as long as it takes for you to feel comfortable taking things to a more private venue.
I’m sure it doesn’t need to be said, but just in case—please insist on a public meeting with whomever you choose to be your guide. There are a lot of shit-weasels out there in the D/s world, and I wouldn’t want you to get hurt.
P.S. I’m not actually gluten-free. If that was a real condition and not added for comic relief, we might have a problem. Bread and I are in a serious, long-term relationship.
I send the email and go about my life, not thinking of it again until I get home from my last beach weekend of the summer to find an intriguing response waiting in my inbox.
Subject: More on my maybe…
Hello Discreet G,
Thank you so much for your lovely, gentlemanly response. It was appreciated, especially in light of the number of dick pics my ad inspired. I don’t know why I didn’t anticipate an influx of genitalia, but that’s why I placed the ad in the first place—I realize I have a lot to learn.
So, more about me, and my maybe…
I can’t go into too many specifics for confidentiality reasons—I don’t like to kiss and tell—but the broad strokes are that I used to find the idea of being tied up or spanked by a lover disturbing and even a little scary. But now, after several months carefully considering the possibility of submitting to a Dominant man, I’m starting to find it…interesting.
But I repeat that I’m SERIOUS about the no sex or toys part of my ad. That wouldn’t be part of our relationship. I’m just looking for someone who can explain the lifestyle in more detail and what would be expected of me as a submissive. I’ve done online research, but there’s only so much a person can learn from a chat room.
And I confess I would like to meet a Dom in person to prove to myself that you’re not all weirdos with unresolved mommy issues.
Sorry if that was offensive…
Like I said, I have no idea what I’m doing.
I’m probably crazy to even be considering this, but it’s important to me to find out if I can make the submissive thing work. There’s someone special I would like to be able to please in this way.
That’s probably not a smart thing to say, either, is it? That I’m hung up on another man? But I want to be honest with you, Discreet. It sounds like honesty is a big part of the whole D/s thing.
And FYI, I’m twenty-three, also in excellent physical shape for my job, and attractive in a girl-next-door kind of way. Not that it should matter since our relationship will be purely platonic, but maybe knowing what I look like will put your mind at ease about meeting me in person, as well.
Thanks for reading,
P.S. The gluten-free thing was totally a joke. Bread and I are also in a long-term relationship. I run every morning so bread and I can be together at dinner every night ;).
Subject: Bread lovers unite
Thank you for your honesty. It’s appreciated, and you’re right—honesty is vital in a D/s relationship in order to keep the experience safe, sane, and consensual, which is the goal of any Dom worthy of the title.
And I don’t mind that you’re hooked on someone else. I recently got out of a relationship myself, and I’m not looking for anything serious. That’s not to say that if you enjoyed our training and changed your mind about getting tied up that I wouldn’t oblige you, but I would absolutely make you beg for it first. ;)
Kidding! I’m kidding, I promise.
I get that you’re SERIOUS about the platonic nature of this relationship, and I fully respect that.
I have to confess, however, that your commitment to bread is pretty sexy.
Hopefully this guy you’re hooked on appreciates your loyal heart and the lengths to which you’re willing to go to in order to please him.
Shall we discuss potential coursework before we meet?
Subject: Course Work
All right, Discreet, let’s do this.
Lay it on me. What’s the syllabus look like for something like this?
Anxious, but intrigued,
P.S. If you get gross, I’m not going to respond. I just had to cut another potential Gentleman loose after he sent over erotic fiction featuring a lady robot sex toy with four breasts and two vaginas. *shudder*
Subject: Zero sex robots
Glad you cut that other guy loose. Sounds like a nut job. Seriously, if you choose not to meet with me, you should probably find an alternative means of recruiting your submissive professor. Not to discourage your curiosity, but most of the men reading the Portland Alternative are ghoulish bottom feeders. I am the rare exception. ;)
Yours is the first ad I’ve ever responded to, if that gives my claim any street cred…
In any event, on to the potential syllabus:
Lesson One: Who’s your Daddy? In this first segment of our course, we’ll explore the many different flavors of Doms available for your submissive enjoyment. There are Master Doms who Top full time and expect 24/7 submission from their bottoms, Doms who keep the power exchange in the bedroom, Doms who like to be called Daddy and enjoy age play, Guide Doms who get off on helping their subs achieve personal and professional goals through the use of sexual discipline, Sadistic Doms who want to make you hurt and not always in the fun way, and a few fringe types who keep slave harems and shit that we probably won’t need to go into in any depth.
That doesn’t sound like what you’re looking for with your special guy.
For my part, I’m a power exchange in the bedroom kind of Dominant. I like topping my girl when we’re naked and keeping the power balance equitable the rest of the time. I enjoy a strong woman who knows her mind, and I honestly find it hotter to top someone like that than a person who spends her life as a slave to my every whim. I have a couple of friends who are really into the full-time Master gig, but I knew from the beginning that it wasn’t for me.
If your special guy ends up being a 24/7 Master, you’ll have to decide if you’re up for that sort of situation. It’s definitely a more intense commitment, though opening yourself up to being Dominated in the bedroom can be intense, too.
Which leads us to…
Lesson Two: Safe, sane, and consensual. We’ll cover how to keep yourself emotionally, mentally, and physically safe, the use of safe words, and other etiquette you should know before you start playing around with power exchange.
Lesson Three: Exploring the nitty gritty of obedience to your Dom. We can start with some easy, non-sexual exercises that can be done in public if you don’t feel comfortable meeting me in private at this point.
Lesson Four: Depending on how Lesson Three pans out, we can discuss punishments for disobedience and what some of those might be. We can also do some light role-playing to help you discover if you’re the kind of submissive who enjoys being punished (most do) and how to balance obedience with your craving for punishment. (If this sounds crazy, don’t stress. It will either make complete sense by the time we get to Lesson Four, or you’ll have decided being a submissive isn’t your bag and moved on to other things. No need to worry too much about this part right now.)
If all goes smoothly, we’ll proceed onward from there until you feel ready to hop out of the nest, little sub, and go looking for the Big Bad Dom of your Dreams. Or the Daddy Dom of your dreams, or whatever Dom punches your particular buttons.
How does that sound?
It sounds like a blast to me. I’m looking forward to ushering you over to the dark side, Cat. I think you’re going to love it here.
Subject: I’m in.
All right. I’m in.
Let’s set a time and place to meet before I chicken out.
How’s Friday afternoon at six o’clock at the beer garden on Lombard? It’s big enough we should be able to find a private table in a public setting.
Yikes, I’m nervous!! Please don’t be weird in person, okay? You seem so nice via email. Please continue to be nice and don’t show up looking like the crypt keeper or smelling like steamed broccoli or wearing a “I have the dick, so I’ll make the rules” T-shirt. I saw a guy wearing one of those the other day, and it was all I could do not to dump my coffee all over his chest.
Sincerely and anxiously,
Subject: See you Friday
Friday at six is perfect. I’ll be coming straight from work and will have just showered, so I shouldn’t look like a corpse or smell like steamed broccoli. And my mom raised me better than to buy a shirt like that, Curious, so no fear.
I’ll be the guy wearing two watches on my left wrist. How will I know you?
Subject: I’ll be the girl with the…
…daisy in her ponytail.
Unless I chicken out.
Subject: Don’t chicken out
I’m harmless, I promise. I also have a fairly recognizable face around Portland, so if you see someone familiar wearing those two watches, don’t worry, it’s me. And please, remember our mutual commitment to secrecy. I definitely need to keep our lessons on the down low for work reasons.
Subject: Just between us
My discretion is assured, Discreet. This will be our secret, and I promise you won’t regret taking the time to teach a newbie the ropes.
My sincere thanks,
For some reason—the guileless tone of her emails, perhaps—I believe her. I believe that Cat is who she says she is and that I won’t regret the insane decision to meet up with a complete stranger for Dom lessons.
I believe it right up to the moment the beer garden gate swings open and Hailey walks through it, a white daisy tucked into her hair and an anxious expression on her pretty face.
My Hailey is Curious Cat, and this experiment just got a hell of a lot more complicated.