Here it is, the end of the story. There will be two more parts but then it is over. We'll see what you will think of the end but at least I have written a longer story to the end. This is, actually, an achievement for me. I usually lose interest somewhere in the middle and go off to start another story...or two...or three.
'Will you come to Italy with me?' He said, a week later.
'To Italy, is it some conference or meeting?' I said, trying to figure out what I really felt, trying to overcome my surprise.
'No, just you and me, no duties.'
'Why do you ask me?'
'Because I want you to come.'
'No, I wondered why'd you ask me, why don't you just order me.'
'Who said I wasn't interested in your opinion?'
'No, why,' I said and felt bewildered.
He scrutinised me for a while.
'What is it that bothers you?'
'Why do you suddenly care about what I think, you didn't care when you let Jonathon touch me.' My cheeks became red and hot at the memory.
'I didn't say I would respect your opinion. I may still be interested in it.'
'Of course,' I said.
'Don't be grumpy, and you haven't said if you want to go to Italy with me.'
I looked up at him and saw him smile. There was no way I was to change his mind about anything. He was a force of nature and if he didn't want to budge he wouldn't. I could stand my ground but I would have to take the consequences of that.
'I'd love to go to Italy with you.' I smiled at him.
'Are you sure?'
'Yes, I am absolutely sure.'
'You will come as my woman, sit at my feet.'
'I'll kneel at your feet by Fontana di Trevi, if that is what you want.'
'Then we are going to Italy.'
'And from now on, you will address me as Sir.'
'Yes, I like that. And you will do it in public.'
'No one will think of me as your partner, I will be like your PA or secretary or something.'
'Do you mind?'
'Yes, Sir, I do mind.'
'But you will do it.'
The sense of pride that filled me surprised me. I had begun to be proud of my achievements but it was still surprising that I should be so happy putting my own person to the side and accept whatever humiliation he chose for me.
I was warm and tired as we arrived at the airport of the small town he had chosen for our trip. The sun stood high on a clear blue sky and despite the fierce traffic and ugly suburb, Italy managed to smile at us.
He had insisted on shopping for me before leaving so my bag was full of new clothes and shoes. I wore a light summer dress and a hat that made me look as if I was on the Grand Tour sometime around the beginning of the 20th century rather than living in the contemporary world. I knew it was quite deliberate since he had chosen a very timeless suit that well matched my outfit.
The city centre was ancient and hadn't it been for the advertising boards and the youngsters on their scooters, it could have been a hundred years ago.
The hotel was small and the interior did nothing to bring us back to the 21th century. We got our key and went to our room. I was tired, it had been a long journey. I had been true to his command and called him 'Sir' but I had made my utmost to not address him in public. He knew this and seemed to find it amusing.
'Now I need something to drink,' he said as I put my bag on the bed to unpack. 'I think I'll go down to the bar.'
'You want me to change?'
He stopped short, waited.
'...Sir,' I said.
'No, I don't want you to change and I want you to stay in the room.'
'Yes, Sir,' I said, a little bewildered and quite disappointed.
He opened his bag and rummaged through it. He smiled as he pulled something from it. It looked like a narrow belt or a leather strap but as he held it out I saw that it was fitted on a metal ring. The strap was threaded through the ring so that the leather formed three loops, like the petals of a flower.
'Strip,' he said in a soft voice.
It was easy. He told me to strip and I obeyed him. It was a hot day and it was quite nice to slip out of my clothes. The French window was slightly ajar so the sounds of the street below filled the room. This made my undressing seem a bit more public.
I enjoyed taking my clothes off for him. He looked at me and I knew he wasn't looking at the Doctor of History but at an obedient woman, a woman who was exposing her body at his command. I felt attractive as he stared at me, attractive and excited.
He made me sit on the floor, quite close to the window. I could feel the soft breeze on my body as I sat down. He knelt in front of me and now it became clear what he wanted with the leather strap.
He put two of the loops around my legs and moved them up to just above my knees. The third loop contained the buckle which he opened. I leaned forward and leaned my upper body against my knees as he buckled the strap shut around my neck. When he was
done I sat folded forward, with my chest on my thighs and my neck strapped to my the leather around my knees.
He then took another strap out of his bag and applied them around my wrists behind my back. When he was done I was quite bound. Two quite short leather straps made sure I wouldn't go anywhere.
'I'll go down for a drink. Stay there,' he said and chuckled to himself.
'But if anyone comes?'
'Yes, what if anyone comes?' he said and smiled.
'Will you be long?'
'As long as it takes.'
He turned to me when he had got to the door.
'This is not a good place for whippings, the walls are too thin. We will have to do without them for a while.'
Then he left and shut and locked the door. I was left on the floor, naked and bound.
I struggled with the sense of humiliation he had left me with. I was different from him and nothing could show that more clearly than him sitting in the bar, enjoying a nice something to drink and me, naked and left on my own in the room.
I was disappointed and wanted my freedom to explore and experience this new place. I was even angry.
Maybe it was the soft air coming in through the door, the sounds from the street that made me feel close to the world outside, the place itself, the fact that it was different and new to me, maybe it was all of that which made me suddenly very calm. I took a deep breath and I knew that this wasn't an ordinary trip. I wasn't there to study Italian culture and life. I was still inside a bubble, his bubble. I was his woman, the woman who was sitting by his feet.
This was who I was. This was me with him, naked on the floor, bound and helpless. I was at his mercy. This was the life I had chosen and it was petty to be disappointed that I couldn't sit in the bar or go walking outside. I was here because of him and with him and I had to accept where he put me. Or rather I chose to accept it, not in that very moment, but as the basis of our relationship.
There was meaning with my nudity, my bonds and my being left alone. It was what he had chosen for me and in binding me, he had touched me and the leather around my limbs were his touch. He was there with me.
I felt childishly happy at that thought. I wasn't sitting there because he was superior to me by nature, not because he had the right to do so, but because he wanted it that way, and I wanted it that way, and because I loved him.
I felt sexy. I wasn't used to that. I felt suddenly very soft and vulnerable, all those things I had been scared of, things that had threaten to expose me to danger. Now, inside his bubble, they seemed attractive and something sought after, asked for and wanted.