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At His Insistence

By´╝ÜDelilah Fawkes

"I'm waiting, Isabeau."

I glanced down at the diamond choker, sparkling even in the dim light of Mr. Drake's dungeon, perfectly juxtaposed with the black, leather collar sitting next to it on a velvet cushion.

How could I accept such a gift? And could I give myself to him when he might ditch me for a newer model at any moment? What made me, Isabeau Willcox, different from all the rest?

I looked into his eyes, so intense, willing me to speak, to say 'yes' to his proposal. I could tell my silence was grating on him, even as he held me close, the sweat from our lovemaking mingling on our na**d bodies.

"I can't."

The look in his eyes made me cringe.

"At least …  not yet."

His eyes flashed dangerously, and he stood, pushing me off him onto my feet. My bones still felt like Jell-O from the earth-shattering sex we'd just had, but now I wanted to cover up, to hide from his accusing stare.

"Tell me why."

His voice was deep and dangerous as he set the box aside, closing it with a snap. This was obviously not what he'd planned on happening, and it visibly chafed him. Mr. Drake was nothing if not a control freak.

"I … "

I reached a hand out to touch him, to comfort him, but pulled it back on second thought.

"I'm not sure. At the office, they say you go through assistants like Kleenex."

My hand darted to my mouth. I hadn't meant to just come right out and say it! I didn't mean to blurt out what made me hesitate, when all I wanted was to run into his arms and say I'd be his.

Damn it, Isabeau!

He moved so fast, I didn't have time to think. His hand was on my throat, his thumb caressing the hollow of my neck in a way that made my blood boil and fear course through me like a drug.

"So that's it, is it? You don't trust me? Even after tonight?" He shook his head, pulling me closer.

I gasped in his grip.

"Answer me when I ask you a question, Isabeau."

"I do …  it's just … "

I couldn't think with his hand on me like this, his face just inches from mine.

"Just what?"

"What makes me so different?"

I looked him square in the eyes, and blushed as I felt the tears stinging my own. Don't let him see you cry. Get yourself together.

The thought of giving myself over to him only to be discarded was more than I could bear. This whole thing felt like a dream, and maybe it was only that, and my time was always limited. But was it worth it if it would only end in heartbreak? 

Mr. Drake's hand remained on my throat, caressing me gently, but reminding me of who was in the position of power. His other hand stroked my face, brushing my hair back, the touch making me tingle. Something behind his eyes changed as he looked at me. If I didn't know better, I'd say they were tinged with sadness.

"You really don't know how special you are, do you?"

For a moment, his words took my breath away.

Then he turned, leaving me standing na**d and alone in his dungeon. I froze, stunned, for a few seconds, before hurrying after him, through the concealed door and out into the study. I called after him down the hallway.

"Wait! Aren't I sleeping with you tonight?"

He turned, and I could tell he was smirking even in the shadows. "I'll share my bed when you wear my collar."

With that, he walked away, leaving me alone with my regret.

In the morning, another note was waiting for me, this time informing me that a car was outside, ready to take me anywhere I wished to go.

Rich man brush off, I thought, frowning. I'd definitely pissed him off by not accepting his offer out of hand. Would he want to see me again? Or was I Miss Self Fulfilling Prophecy? I covered my face with my hands. How could I have been so stupid?

Mr. Drake was everything I wanted in a man, and several things I'd never even considered, but now couldn't live without. Gorgeous, confident, self-made, and dominant in a way that made things feel simpler. Calmer. Safer.

I chewed my lip, turning that thought over in my mind. Why would I feel safe around someone so dangerous? Why would I feel safe with a man who liked the things that he did? Who enjoyed inflicting pain? Imposing his will?

His words from the other night came back to me; what he'd said right before he'd shown me his darkest secret.

"I could tell you longed for someone to trust. Someone to take control."

Was he right? Did I long for someone to take control? To let me off the hook for just a little while?

I thought of those years I spent taking care of my family, making sure we had food on the table, and then caring for Grandma Rose until she passed away. I'd always had the weight of the world on my shoulders, but now that I was on my own, I felt lost. Maybe giving up the reins was exactly what I needed.

Maybe it would help me discover how to take care of myself. To put my own needs first, even as I surrendered to his.