I was in a foul mood.
I wasn’t dressed for running errands. In my opinion you
don’t run errands in black nylons, a long, black, stretchy
skirt and an oversized white tunic shirt knotted at hip
level. It helped that I wore white tennis shoes, but I still
felt overdressed. I also hate skirts, not to mention nylons.
This pair’s suspender-style; technically, crotchless. And
they’re about a size too small. I’m full figured so this
causes my legs to bulge over the top edge slightly. It was a
detail that didn’t matter when we were home or when I
wore pants. It became critical walking around in a skirt.
Basically my thighs were chafing.
Pearce had selected my wardrobe for the day so most of
my mood was directed towards him, which he had noticed.
As we stood in the checkout line at the market he crowded
me, his torso pressing against my back. He slipped his
arms under mine to catch the handle of the cart, pulling it
tight against my stomach as he dropped his voice to an
intimate level, his Irish brogue putting a dangerous accent
on the pronoun.
‘I’m knackered, girl, and I’m warning ye – adjust the
eejit attitude or I will.’
Leaning back against him to intentionally imply
compliance, I lay my head against the crook of his neck.
Pearce shifted his stance to support my change in position
as I spoke softly.
‘It’s a bit late ta be playing nice,’ he noted dryly, his
voice still pitched for a private conversation. ‘And
agreeing terribly quick weren’t ye now? Are ye doubting
I’ll adjust things ta my satisfaction?’
‘Not at all, at all.’
‘Don’t be sassing that fake Irish ta me. Answer honest.’
‘Emmm. Make yerself useful then.’
He tapped the counter as he straightened away, the
lilting accent threading through his words making the
instruction sound less important than it was. It had
repeatedly proved all too easy for me to get lost in the
melodic sound of Pearce’s words. Pair the musical quality
of his voice with the fact that he was filled with your basic
never-met-a-stranger Irish blarney charm and it was easy
to miss that his laid-back good humour was backed by
steel. Most people missed it most of the time, just as they
missed that Pearce was dominant in our relationship.
Granted, we didn’t wear stereotypical fetish gear. The
only fetish item ever seen regularly between us was
Pearce’s collar around my neck. To those who understood
the nuances of domination, the collar was a clear symbol
of my submission. But in general it was simply an artistic
statement. The narrow, rounded sterling band created a
unique necklace that no one realized was bolted in place.
To remove it, Pearce would have to use a special wrench.
In the same way we chose not to hide the collar, Pearce
and I chose not to completely hide our relationship. If
people paid attention it would became apparent he was in
charge. The thing was, no one paid attention. We were
hidden in plain sight.
As I unloaded the cart Pearce stood hip-shot,
emphasizing his pelvis in an utterly distracting way. I
wasn’t distracted enough to fail to notice when he picked
up a tabloid.
‘Don’t even think about buying that trash.’
‘Right, you’ll be thinking ta tell me what ta do now,
Rach?’ he shot back absently, not looking up from a story
about a potato possessed by the spirit of a dead celebrity.
‘You need to maintain some decent standards. That
Pearce rotated his hip even farther out to the side,
throwing himself off balance to bump me as he
taunted,‘Ye could maintain decent standards by not staring
at my crotch, longing fer a ride.’
‘Not so loud.’
‘Everyone in this line,’ I snapped.
His casual cheer, which put the engaging light in his
sea-green eyes and lent a captivating openness to his
features, disappeared. In a deceptively natural move he
squared his weight onto both feet. The subtle shift in body
language, like so many other things about my complicated
Irishman, was one more thing people usually missed about
him. When he squared his feet the width of his shoulders
he was, in essence, squaring off for a fight. He was also
sending a clear signal that I was not to contradict whatever
he said next.
He replaced the tabloid in the rack with careful
deliberation. Sliding one hand around the nape of my
neck, his fingers curled around my collar, pulling it back
against my throat. Stepping closer, he thoroughly invaded
all of my personal space. His lips grazed my cheek just in
front of my ear, giving his command the appearance of a
kiss as his words vibrated against my skin.
‘Stop yer chat.’
The no-nonsense tone of his nearly inaudible statement
made my heart pound and my mouth dry. Our days were
filled with conversation fuelled by Pearce’s gift for gab.
He talked as automatically as he breathed. By stopping
me, he was, in effect, cutting off his own conversation.
Obviously I had irked him far more than I had intended.
Pearce tilted his head slightly to the left, the black
whiskers of his weekend beard dragging against my skin
with a shiver-inducing rasp. Brushing his lips over mine,
his tongue sought entry into my mouth. The intimate
caress tasted of the cinnamon mints he favoured,
immediately eliciting erotic memories of other cinnamon
encounters, making my heart pound and my knees weak.
Pearce lifted his head, running a thumb over my lips,
taking in my flush, effortlessly reading my response.
‘Och, ye can be so easy, Rachel Anne.’
His comment made me blush even more. It was true, I
melted at his touch and we both knew it. Pearce spent the
majority of his time guiding my reactions, the past minute
being a perfect example. After issuing an order sharp
enough to make my heart thump, he poured on the charm
so my heart thumped for an entirely different reason,
creating two opposing reactions within seconds. He was
controlling me and I knew it, but I couldn’t resist. I didn’t
The foundation of our relationship was the power of
control. Anticipating, conditioning, and controlling
responses from me was a critical part of our daily life. A
very large part of Pearce’s interest in having a relationship
with me was his ability to have control. In order to sustain
an intimate relationship he had to have authority not only
in general, but also over me. He needed to dominate.
In the same way, a very large part of my interest in
having a relationship with Pearce was his ability to be
successfully dominant. In order to sustain an intimate
relationship I had to have someone else in control. When
Pearce fastened the collar around my neck he took
ownership not only of the relationship, but of me. I needed
to be submissive.
Like yin and yang, Pearce and I were polar opposites
creating the whole.
His touch interrupted my thoughts. Carrying the bags in
one hand, he used his other hand on the small of my back
to guide me to the car. To my surprise, he elected to drive.
Having emigrated at twenty-eight, Pearce first drove in
Ireland. Eight years later he still complained about driving
in America. Five minutes later Pearce’s preference for
being a passenger was proved wise as I disregarded his
order to not talk with a sharp order of my own.
Pearce slammed on the brakes, his right arm
instinctively shooting out to brace me as the car jerked to a
stop. A truck blasted past the bumper, making Pearce
swear bitterly about focking Yank drivers. He ran a
shaking hand through his black hair, pushing it into spikes.
‘Ye all right then?’
‘I’m fine, honey. Want me to drive?’
‘No. Apparently I’m needin’ ta practice.’
Carefully looking both ways, he crossed the
intersection as I settled back into silence. Tense with
concentration, his hands at the traditional ‘ten and two’
positions on the wheel, it took him a few minutes before
he could relax enough to speak.
‘Ye’ve common sense, Rach. Ye use it against me,
makin’ me crazy. Point being, even when ye know not ta
talk ye know when ta.’
He drummed his fingers on the wheel absently, slipping
back into the rhythm of driving as he continued talking.
‘Originally I wanted – em…what do ye call ’em? –
Doormat submissive? Someone ta be seen, not heard, do
me bidding ta the letter. Before ye it was girl after girl
who woulda let me pull in front of that truck because they
were under no-chatting orders.’
He half-laughed at himself with a shake of his head.
‘I need submission, I don’t need ta be hit by a lorry. I
need a relationship, not blind obedience.’ He hesitated,
then admitted, ‘Ye’ve taught me that. And ye’ve taught
me ta enjoy someone strong. I don’t want ta change the
way we are, Rach, but I need ta temper yer ways. Ye push
too hard, or yer tone gets away.’
Pearce subsided, clearly debating what to say next.
When he went into lecture mode it meant he was stating a
case as he saw it and presenting what he felt was the best
solution. There would be no room for rebuttal. My
stomach knotted as I waited for him to continue.
‘Inna reg’lar relationship,’ letting go of the wheel, he
put air quotes around the word regular. ‘There’s no
problem, is there then? But, we’re only mostly reg’lar.
There are rules. First, I’m in charge. Second, ye submit, no
questions asked. Thing is, ye bl**dy well don’t keep the
rules. Which f***es me to correct ye.’
He sighed, the candour of his next words surprising me.
‘It’s bollocks, Rach, when ye’re not ta chat I don’t have
anyone ta chat ta, it’s punishment for me. I hate it.’
Pearce spun the car into a strip mall lot. Parking, he
turned the car off and twisted to face me as he continued
‘The whole point of a submissive is giving me pleasure.
Not chatting with ye gives me irritation. And it doesn’t
modify yer behaviour. C’mere, Rachel.’
Unwillingly I met his eyes. Pearce propped his elbow
on the back of the seat, his head braced on his hand. With
his other hand he reached out, playing with an errant curl
of my hair.
‘Next time ye smart off too much or push me authority
too far,’ he tugged the strand of hair in his hand. ‘And ye
know what I mean by too much, too far – I’m going ta
paddle ye,’ he tucked the curl behind my ear and cupped
his hand along my jaw. ‘Consider yerself fairly warned,
girl. Ye know I’m enough of a sadist ta pull it off once. Ye
push me wrong and ye won’t sit for two days.
‘I’m gonna do it until yer behaviour modifies ta me
satisfaction. I don’t care if I paddle ye six times a day.
‘Subject closed, Rach. Although I still don’t want ye
talking. Out of the car, there are things ta be done.’
After running errands at stores within walking distance,
Pearce took me to a small tattoo and body-piercing shop
tucked into the corner of the strip mall. Holding the door
open, he vaguely waved in the direction of the chairs
lining the perimeter of the lobby. Understanding the
pleasing power of instant gratification I immediately
dropped into one. He spun back, his brow furrowed.
‘That was terribly compliant, luv,’ he tucked his hands
into the front pockets of his jeans, rocking his weight back
on his heels. ‘What’s this, then?’
Careful to maintain my silence, I shrugged, surprised
not only that he was questioning that I had followed his
directions but that he was doing so in public, using a
normal tone of voice.
‘Go on,’ he amended belatedly.
Following his lead, I answered with the casual respect
we rarely used in public.
‘Em. Is this from the conversation, then?’
Although I had taken the conversation in the car
seriously, I knew he wasn’t asking me about it. He wanted
to know if I trusted him or if I was worried about the level
of correction the next time I crossed him. I rolled my eyes,
my answer dripping sarcasm.
‘Like you scare me.’
He burst into laughter, chucking me under the chin, his
brogue flaring thick.
‘Och, there’s me Rachel Anne. Just checking. Sit tight,
Slouching in the chair, I watched Pearce have a
conversation at the counter until a casual nod summoned
me to his side. Dropping his hand to my waist, he guided
me to a private room.
‘Jump up,’ he suggested, patting a padded, semireclined
Awkward in the skirt, I obeyed. Pearce claimed a seat
on one of several wheeled stools s**ttered around the
room, spinning himself lazily as we waited. Drumming my
heels, I wondered what was going on and debated
questioning his intent.
Since I had several already, tattooing wasn’t out of the
question. Pearce knew I had something of a fetish for
symbolism. Periodically the topic of permanently putting
his ownership mark on me came up, but as far as I knew
the concept hadn’t gone beyond idle conversation. I
certainly hadn’t seen him designing a mark. Not that he
needed my opinion, but he hadn’t solicited it, which was
out of character.
‘You’re waiting me out.’
‘You, the compulsive talker, haven’t said one word,
you’re trying to goad me into asking why we’re here.’
The look he shot me had me amending my statement,
correcting my flip, disrespectful tone.
‘You’re hoping I’ll inquire why, sir.’
He grinned impishly.
‘So ye’ll be wantin’ ta know then?’
‘Stubborn is as stubborn does.’
Before I could think of a snide comment about who,
exactly, was being stubborn, the door opened. A man
came in, greeting Pearce by name with a friendly
‘Ready?’ he inquired, shutting the door.
Pearce gave his stool a push, rolling over to me in one
‘Shift over, Rach. Put yer legs over the short side.’
As I did, the man I didn’t know sat on a stool close to
the short end of the table. As soon as my legs were swung
over completely he unbuckled medical stirrups from the
sides of the bench and locked them into place. My mouth
went dry. Catching one of my feet in his hands, the man
spoke to me for the first time.
Before I could react he lifted my foot into the stirrup,
throwing me off balance. Before I could voice the s**thing
words that came to mind, Pearce spoke, sliding
dangerously on the stool as he lunged to brace me.
‘Careful there, Michael.’
A second later I was laying against the reclined back of
the table, both feet in the stirrups, my skirt tenting over my
‘I told her to lean back,’ Michael grumbled.
‘Don’t be dumpin’ her ta the floor.’
‘She always so slow to do what she’s told?’
‘Don’t be a wanker. She moves at my speed, not yers.’
‘And it has nothing to do with the discipline problems
you have with her.’
‘There’s that, too,’ Pearce agreed. ‘Especially taday.’
‘It’s been a bastardly morning.’
‘Why?’ Michael asked idly, busy doing something out
of my sight. Pearce leaned an elbow next to my hip, his
back to me as he continued his conversation about me as if
I wasn’t in the room, ignoring the hole I was attempting to
stare into the back of his head.
‘Rachel has a corporate job, sometimes her transition
back ta me isn’t smooth.’
‘How long have you had her? Two years?’
‘Her professional life still affects you? And you’re
letting her keep that job?’
‘I thought about having her quit,’ he shrugged. ‘Then
decided not ta.’
My bl**d ran cold. Moving in with Pearce meant
moving control of my life to him. Even so, I had
maintained de facto management of my career. Pearce had
the final decisions, but until five seconds ago I had no idea
he had considered anything about my professional life.
‘I wouldn’t put up with it.’
Not only was I tired of being excluded from a
conversation of which I was the topic, but I was tired of
having a stranger judge me poorly. And I was enormously
tired of not knowing what was going to happen. Before I
could give voice to my mounting questions, Pearce leaned
his head against my angled thigh and answered Michael’s
disapproval with a mild question of his own, his Irish
accent rolling heavily.
‘Ye don’t have ta put up with it, now do ye?’
‘Nope, she’s your handful, not mine.’
‘That she is.’
Listening to Pearce I had an epiphany. The only reason
I had the urge to talk was to exert control. But it wasn’t
my conversation. It didn’t matter that I was the topic, none
of it concerned me. Pearce was in control and I needed to
leave it in his hands. Trying not to draw attention to
myself, I tipped my head back and closed my eyes,
inhaling deeply, willing myself to relax.
‘Pearce, tell me placement.’
Michael pushed the stirrups to the farthest outside
point, taking my feet with them, forcing my legs to spread.
A second later his hands were on the insides of my knees,
pressing them down and out which pushed my thighs
achingly wide as he shoved my skirt all the way up.
I froze from the outside in as scissors slashed my
panties. I could feel my face flaming at being fully
exposed. Instinctively, I wrapped a quivering hand around
my collar for support and waited. Gritting my teeth I
concentrated on ignoring the touch of unfamiliar fingers
between my legs. My heart thundering in my ears blocked
all other sound. Eventually a clamp was positioned on an
outer lip and screwed down tight.
Terrified, it was all I could do not to react. Pearce knew
how negatively I viewed genital piercing. Focusing on the
fact that I trusted him, I f***ed myself to breathe deep and
slow, counting to five with each breath. A minute later I
relaxed completely, soaring into the warm silence in my
The clamp being removed without a piercing happening
pulled me back. Pearce pushed my knees together before
he lowered my legs. I kept my eyes closed, drifting, letting
the warmth of his familiar touch guide me. It wasn’t until
he started talking that I started to really pay attention.
‘Yeah?’ He echoed with a terrible American accent,
making me laugh.
‘Don’t imitate me.’
‘Och, don’t be so casual.’
‘Are ye back, Rach?’
‘So what’s this then? I was pushing, but enough fer ye
ta go inna subspace?’
‘I didn’t mean to –’
‘I know,’ he caught my wrists, pulling me to a sitting
position. Kissing my brow, he rested his forehead against
mine. ‘I was focking around. Ye wasn’t ta go all soft.’
‘You were just fucking around?’
‘Don’t take that tone,’ he warned, framing my face in
his hands. ‘I’ll fock with you when I want, Rachel Anne.’
‘Yes, sir,’ I agreed without conviction.
Understanding the implication of my tone, his jaw
muscle knotted and his hands clenched, his wrists
tightening against my chin.
‘Ye’ll be recalling what I said in the car?’
I held absolutely still as Pearce studied me for a long,
silent moment. Finally, in a lightning-quick change of
mood, he banked his simmering anger, his hold softened
and his tone became gentler.
‘That’s yer only warning. Now, ye don’t melt like that,
help me with the how come and why now. Put me in yer
He sank down on the stool, supporting his crossed arms
over my knees as I protested, ‘Not like this.’
He snapped his fingers and conditioning took over. My
eyes locked onto him, my mind and body going still as I
refocused on him, the small impersonal room fading away.
I wasn’t allowed to look away, but I couldn’t meet his
gaze. I slid my attention to his eyebrows. On one hand I
hated this sort of intense interest in my thought process.
On the other hand, this was exactly why I chose to be
submissive. I needed him to know me inside out, I wanted
to submit to this kind of stripping away of privacy, to not
even have my thoughts be my own. It was unbelievably
difficult and unrelentingly intimate.
‘I relaxed, sir.’
‘Over talking about ye like ye weren’t in the room, aye,
but body piercing?’
‘I didn’t know about that.’
‘But ye never reacted.’
I wanted to shade the truth, to be less vulnerable.
‘It was you,’ I declared, meeting his eyes.
There was a second of incomprehension then
‘What’s the rule?’
‘If I can’t say it then I’m not ready for it.’
He cocked an eyebrow, waiting. A long minute later I
swallowed and began to speak,
‘I decided to relax because you control everything.’
‘Everything,’ I repeated helplessly. ‘I love you. I trust
you. I agreed to submit to you. So I decided to stop
‘Just like that?’
I shrugged, giving up and relaxing into the inescapable
honesty he demanded.
‘It wasn’t that easy, but yeah, just like that,’ I smiled, a
feeling of relief spreading through me as I admitted, ‘I’m
yours. You own me. And you don’t have to look so
‘Ye do this now?’ he protested, burying his head in my
‘Honey, I told you: not like this,’ I reminded him, my
fingers playing in his hair.
His voice was muffled in my skirt as he spoke, ‘I didn’t
realize ye were finally admitting me ownership.’
‘You’ve been taking ownership since the day we met.’
‘I know that, ye eejit. It’s slow because you, luv, fight
accepting my control.’
‘I know that,’ I echoed his words. ‘But you put up with
it and you’re everything to me. So I got with your
He kept his head down in my lap for several minutes
without speaking. Lifting his head, he stroked the back of
his fingers along the line of my jaw.
‘Right, so ye’ve stopped fighting, have ye now? I’ll be
believing it when I see it, but it’s the thought that counts,
I opened my mouth to protest then thought better of it.
Pearce watched me make the decision and laughed at my
final conclusion, tapping my nose as he stood.
‘Careful, that was a decision based on how yer owner’ll
react. Ye may want ta ease inta that thinking, not over-tax
yerself the first half hour of it.’
‘Rude, sir,’ he corrected good-naturedly, holding me
captive with his assessing gaze. ‘Yer mine, eh Rach?’
He dug a hand into the front pocket of his jeans.
‘Hold out yer hand.’
I obeyed, unable to still my trembling fingers. Pearce
supported my hand in his, raising it to his mouth to kiss
my palm. Lowering my hand he dropped a smooth, round
silver charm onto the spot he had kissed. The interlocking
engraved letters centred on the charm were his initials.
Flipping it over I found three delicate lines of engraving,
my name, the word owned, and a series of numbers.
‘You planned this,’ I accused as I realized the numbers
were today’s date.
Pearce laughed at me again, the lilt of his accent
turning his words to music, ‘Of course I did.’
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