2nd Best Ch. 06
Heather’s patience was wearing thin. This was why she rarely interacted with others since Geoffrey’s death. She had heard the lecture from her own imminently qualified psychologist daughter. She was allowing her grief to fester too long; she bordered on agoraphobia, she should get out more and mix with people. But people sucked. They got on her nerves.
After spending most of her life trying to be a good girl, obeying all of society’s rules, and masking her own autistic tendencies, the birth of Amber had begun her road to self-discovery. As the parent of an autistic child, she had started to realize just how little all those rules made sense, and especially how they were not for the good of the individual, but the convenience of others. Eventually, she had seen herself in Amber.
She had decided, though, not to undergo the daunting and completely subjective gauntlet of diagnosis. She knew that this man, as well as Morgan, would never understand that, or accept that autistic was an identity, in some ways, just like Dom or sub. It was just the way that you were born, how your brain was wired. And not a disease or a disorder.
But she was wasting her time, her words, and what precious energy she had trying to explain that to this man. She turned to Maggie once more, “It has been so wonderful meeting you. Perhaps we will see one another again this week, but I really should be getting back to my cabin.” She laid her crisp white napkin on the table.
Maggie reached across and squeezed her hand once more. “Please, dearie, stay for dessert and a dance. It won’t be much longer, and oh, the chocolate. Chocolate makes everything better.”
Heather chuckled, “Not everything. Onions. Pickles. There are a few things that chocolate does not make taste better.”
That tightness was back in her throat as she remembered the laughter that had filled their home as she, Geoffrey, and Amber had come up with a long list of things that did not go with chocolate.
“Fish,” she muttered, thinking of Geoffrey’s addition that had them all laughing so hard their sides hurt.
“Yes, but Paulo is not going to serve those. The dark chocolate mousse with raspberry coulis is my favorite. But if you don’t like dark chocolate, he makes a divine Crème Brule.”
Heather did have to admit both of those sounded lovely. She was not much for dessert, or ‘afters’ as the British called it, but both of those were among her favorites. Not that food held the same appeal for her as it once had.
“Stay for dessert and the first dance with me. Then I will walk you back.”
She should definitely run now. The thought of being held in this man’s arms once more was both comforting and frightening. But the idea of being alone with him, of saying all the things they had left unsaid for a dozen years, was petrifying.
But perhaps she owed him that. In some ways, maybe she owed him everything. If he had not been there for her, if he had not reset her sub brain, would she have had the courage to reactivate that profile on the dating website? She would have never met Geoffrey and never known true love.
Parallel universes. Alternate realities. The topic was one of the never-ending debates in their home. She, Geoffrey, and Amber discussed its validity over and over and over again. She liked to think that rather than Geoffrey being in some heaven somewhere, or quietly slipping into nothingness as he had believed, she wanted to think that somewhere there was a universe where they were still living their happily ever after – where they got that fifty years he had promised her.
But that was not this universe. She had to accept that, and what? Move on? She had listened to that argument from Morgan often enough over the past months. Her older daughter frequently pointed out that Geoffrey had done just that. After his first wife’s death, he had sought and found a new love in her.
She wanted to disinter hope, believe that life could go on. But that seemed as unrealistic as disinterring Geoffrey’s body. So she had instead climbed into the grave with him, but hers was a living death of grief.
Hers was a different story. Geoffrey and Tess had been happy for a quarter of a century, twice as long as she had gotten with him. She had learned not to be jealous of a dead woman early in their relationship, not to compare herself with his first wife. That he could love them both the same and differently, just as she did her daughters.
But the past few months that had been harder. As irrational as it was, she felt that Tess and Geoffrey were out there somewhere, reunited, while she was left to muddle through life alone once more.
She had to stop this. She was spiraling down the drain once more. Her sub brain was taking her places that she did not want to go, at the worst possible time.
She felt pressure on her hand. She looked up into Maggie’s kind eyes. Hers were grey. It was always the eyes. The old adage about the ‘windows to the soul’ canlı bahis thing perhaps was true. She found comfort in the woman’s gaze as she squeezed her hand, “Please stay, dearie. It will be alright, I promise you.”
She found herself nodding without really thinking about it.
“Good,” she smiled as Jan nodded.
“If you will all excuse me for a moment, I will be back in a moment.”
Everyone at the table nodded as he stood. He was still an impressive-looking man. She had thought at first that he had cut his long hair for this new, higher-profile promotion, but when he turned to leave, she noticed the ponytail tucked into the collar of his white starched uniformed jacket. She was glad to see that he had not sold out for a job. Not that it should matter to her, of course.
“You have to tell me the whole story, dearie? The chemistry between you and Captain Jan is literally scrooching. I have never seen the man actually taken with anyone, ever. And trust me, I have watched loads of women try. If I were twenty years younger, I might have been tempted to try myself.”
It was on the tip of Heather’s tongue to tell her the truth – that it would have been futile. That Jan was closed off. That no woman could really reach him. But did it matter? Let Maggie keep her fantasy of the dashing sea captain. It was a common enough trope in her genre.
But Heather knew the truth. Bad boys don’t change for a woman. Real women learn to look for good men instead of boys. And those sparks that fill the pages of millions of romance novels, that’s not love. Not real love. Real love is loading the dishwasher. Real love is morning breath. Real love is when you can fart with a person. But no one wants to buy those books.
Too many women spent lifetimes looking for that chemistry this woman was talking about. But chemistry is not enough to build your life on. No, that takes commitment. Something that Jan and boys like him knew nothing about and would do anything to avoid.
Jan made a brief stop at the sound booth on the way to the kitchen. It was not that he needed to check on dessert. His kitchen, like the rest of this floating love boat, ran on autopilot. That was part of his problem. No one needed a captain, except the older women who fawned over what he knew were his fading Viking good looks.
But discontent with his career, or what had become of it, was not what he needed to escape for a few moments. The revelations of this night were weighing on his mind.
She was single again. She was on his ship. And for the next ten days, she was back in his life. So, what now? And what did he want?
When he first received that email twelve years ago, he figured it was just a matter of time. This was not the first relationship she had since they met. She had ended their ‘friends with benefits’ relationship once before because she thought she had found a ‘real’ relationship. But a few months later, he had received another email. Things had gone wrong, terribly wrong.
She needed him. His Domination, pain, and the most spectacular sex of his life, and he was not being overly arrogant to believe it was for her as well. He had, of course, agreed. The woman was a drug. His favorite. He could never pass up a hit of Heather.
They had agreed that this time they were going to make this a more regular thing. Not just the once every year or every two affair that it had been. But every time he was in Tilbury. Once a month. He would taste heaven. Hold the woman that was everything he wanted and needed. Then send her back to her life, while he went back to his. It should have been perfect, just what he wanted. But it wasn’t; it would never be enough.
When he was thirty-five and had just made first mate, he had taken every Krona and Euro he had saved and sunk them into a two-hectare island in the Aland archipelago. It was little more than a skerry, but it was his. His home. Or the first he had had since the sea called to him at sixteen.
He was a loner. He always had been. Even in his family, his parents and two sisters were lovely people, but he had never felt he fit. School had been a nightmare. Only the fact that he was a big child kept him safe from bullying. But he had never enjoyed or gotten much from school. So at sixteen, he had been ecstatic to get his first job on a ship.
That was easy. You did your job, you let other people alone, and they left you alone. Some people might think that was an unhealthy or abnormal way to live, but it worked for him. Oh, he could put on a show as this job required. He knew all the right things to say and do, but he found the whole thing terribly pointless and draining.
An island suited him perfectly. An isolated place all his own where he could go when not on duty. His life was routine, twenty-one days onboard, and ten off. He used those ten to make improvements on the island, clear land for a house that he had built himself. Then a couple of other outbuildings. bahis siteleri
The whole time he thought about the woman that he would share it with. His sub. That, too, was another reason he detached himself from others.
For as long as he could remember, he had known that he was different. That his needs sexually were different than others. Oh, he had tried to be vanilla. He had worked damned hard at it when he fell in love at twenty-two. But he could not be satisfied with that kind of relationship. And she was not willing to even try his ‘perversions’ as she called them. She had walked out and taken his heart with her. He had decided then that he would never love again.
But that did not mean he wanted to be alone for the rest of his life either. And with the advent of the internet and kinky websites, doors had opened to him in terms of finding a woman who could accept who he was and what he had to offer. Two decades ago, when he bought the island, he had been so hopeful.
He might not want the traditional family, a wife and children, the way his sisters had, but the world was full of subs. He would eventually find one that was right for him. One he clicked with. She would not mind living on the island; she would crave the Domination and pain he had to offer. She would make the island into a real home. A place he looked forward to coming back to, knowing that she was there.
He had looked hard. Too hard. And in twenty years, he had only found one woman who he could imagine filling that role. One woman that got under his skin. One woman that he clicked with on such an intimate level.
But she was a package deal. She came with an autistic child. Jan had never seen himself as a pappa, certainly not to a special needs child that required more care. So, they both agreed it would never work out.
Except he had been stupid enough to meet her once for coffee, just as friends, of course. That day had been his undoing. It was ironic. The one thing that kept them apart, her dedication to her child, only made him respect her more. And the chemistry? It was unlike anything he had known before or since.
He knew he was stupid, that he would regret it. But he could not resist. He had negotiated her submission that day. Over the past fifteen years, those couple of hours had played through his dreams so many times, and each time he woke hard and reached for a woman who was not and never would be beside him.
He had thought that perhaps that would be it—all he ever had of her. But a couple of years later, she had emailed him. Just to let him know that their afternoon had inspired a book she was writing. It was a good laugh among old friends. But like an addict, the temptation was too much. He had invited her back for seconds.
They carefully negotiated the terms of that scene, too. He was sure that it would not be as good as he remembered. He would meet her, spend the afternoon with her, that would be it. He would be disappointed. He would work her out of his system, and that would be that. He could put her in his past and concentrate on finding a sub that he could have.
Except that was not how it had worked out. If anything, it had been better. The awkwardness and uncertainty of first times were gone. It was two old friends, comfortable with one another. They had laughed and lain together afterward in his bunk talking and cuddling, something he swore he hated.
Jan chuckled as he looked across the room to the Captain’s table, where she was buried in conversation with Maggie. That was the first time she had sat at his table. It was something he had never done. Not with the other women, other subs, that he had occasionally seen.
But something about her, that innocent white sundress that she had sewn herself. Yet he had demanded her panties, he knew her cunt was deliciously bare, and she wore his rope marks on her wrists, ankles, and even throat. It was perfection, a lady at his table, and a whore in his bed. She was equally comfortable and proficient in both roles.
He had run. He had told her that day they would meet the next time he was in port. He had holiday coming, so it would six or eight weeks before they saw one another. He had spent every single moment of that holiday thinking about her. While he cleared more trees and built what he believed would be a playroom, the big people kind.
Even those few days in Amsterdam, not a single one of the whores he visited had come to close to her expertise in bed. None of them could ever be her. No one could.
So by the time he was back on the ship, he had made up his mind. He was not going to see her again. Ever. He would forget her and get on with his life. Torturing himself like this was not worth it. She was one sub he could never have. That was that.
Except it was not. She filled his dreams. Even the couple of other subs that he had tested out just could not measure up. So, he came to a decision. He would settle for what he could have. bahis şirketleri A couple of hours once a month or so was better than nothing at all, right?
But she had found someone else. Another single parent of a special needs child. Someone who was not scared of her life or unwilling to commit to her and her daughter. Her email was painfully polite, but she wanted more than he could offer.
He had slammed the laptop closed, and he had tried to drown himself in vodka and other subs, though never at the same time. But it did not work. She still came to him most nights in his dreams.
So when six months later she emailed asking his help, he jumped at the chance. Things had gone terribly wrong. The Dom that she had trusted had abused not just her trust but her. As always, she was more than strong enough to protect her daughter. But rather than being the kind, involved, role model, and daddy she had thought him to be, the man had proven to be controlling. Domineering to both her and her child. When she had called it quits, he had become violent with her.
She had tried going to the police, but as was so often the case, the authorities were unable or unwilling to understand the difference between consensual Dom/sub and abuse. In the end, she had been raped again by that whole process. She and her child investigated and exonerated by social services and psychologists.
Between the rape, mental and physical abuse, and the whole system, she knew that she was spiraling the drain as she called it. Heading deeper and deeper into depression. She could not afford to succumb to it. Her daughter needed her too much. She had to get on with her life.
She did not want to medicate her pain, and she had seen first hand that traditional therapy did not understand her need for submission. They saw submission as weakness. This woman was anything but that. He was not sure that he could have managed half of the shit she had been through. Yet she remained caring and open.
She had an idea, a crazy one. But if subspace was the release of chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin in the brain, then wasn’t it just possible that she could reset her brain chemistry, bounce back from this experience and depression? If she could get enough pain and Domination to send her into subspace?
She was sorry for asking; she knew she had no right to, after tossing him aside as she had. But after what happened, she could not just trust anyone. He was the only one she trusted. Would he help?
He had strutted around like a peacock for days as his ship made it closer and closer to Tilbury. They once more negotiated what she needed. That day had not gone as well. The person she had arranged to care for her child ran late, the train was off schedule, and she had lost her whip out of the bag. She had texted that since they would only have a couple of hours, maybe it better that they do it another day.
But he was not waiting four more weeks to see her. He commanded her through the whole hour and a half journey. When he met her at the train station, his heart stuttered to a stop. The Dom in him wanted to do as the hero in her book had, capture her, tie her to his bed, and take her home to his island where he could keep her safe. Make sure that no one ever hurt her again.
He knew he couldn’t, though. So he did the only thing he could – he gave her the pain she needed.
By the time he took her back to the train station, she was a different woman. After the scene, she had told him the whole story. She had broken down in tears, and he had held her while she cried, reassured her that it was not her fault. That no matter what those shrinks said, there was nothing wrong with her. There was nothing weak or sick about being a sub.
Once more, they had agreed to meet on his next trip. Maybe ‘friends with benefits’ was all that either of them had to offer, she had said. Perhaps she was right. Maybe a couple of hours with this woman every few weeks was as close to his dream as he would ever get. But somehow, it just did not appeal to him. So again, he had run.
The pattern repeated itself. Another email from Heather. Another man. She had thanked him for giving her what she needed. Told him that if he had not helped her to reset her sub brain, she would have never had the courage to meet Geoffrey. He would always be special in her heart, and she hoped that he would find what he was looking for. He deserved it.
It was so final. But still, he held out hope that she would come back to him. He scanned her profile on that website at least once every couple of weeks. Both hers and the man’s profile shared the same status. Worse, neither seemed to show much activity.
After two years, Jan was tired of torturing himself. He sent a final message to her. Wishing her the best and telling her that he was taking a break from it all. But she knew how to reach him if she ever needed him. He would always be there.
But she hadn’t. Hadn’t emailed him. Hadn’t sought him out. Even when her husband died. For more than a decade, he had waited for an email that had never come. At first, he had tried to do as she asked. Thrown himself back into the search for the ‘perfect’ sub.