Erin had never seen her husband so worn and haggard. He had dark circles under his eyes, a five o'clock shadow, unkempt hair and a wrinkled suit. “I wonder where he's been sleeping,” Erin thought to herself, before it hit her. “It was his choice to leave. I didn't throw him out. Fuck him.”
“I asked, who are you waiting for?” Ronald was starting to get angry.
Erin furtively looked around for David. She wanted... no, she needed him by her side right now, but at the same time she was afraid of the scene it would cause. “What would Master want me to do?” she asked herself. Knowing that David would support her emboldened Erin.
“I'm here with a friend, Ronald. We came out to lunch so I could get away from those four dreary walls I've been stuck in ever since you sold my car.” She was matter of fact, with just a touch of defiance in her voice.
“Who told you I sold your car?” he demanded.
Erin realized she had rattled her husband a little. “Mike at the garage told me.”
The venom with which he cursed out the mechanic frightened her but Erin stayed on the offensive. “Ronald! That's enough. If you're through...” He cut her off.
“So you abandoned my children to waste time with a friend? I though you had lost all your friends?” Ronald sneered. Erin looked for David again. He was still missing, but she saw that people were staring at them now.
“YOUR children? How long did YOU carry them, Ronald? They’re OUR children... but as involved with them as you are, I should say they're MY children!”
“Don't you dare talk to me...” Erin just about stuck her finger in Ronald's face.
“Wrong, Ronald! Don't you treat me like I'm just a housemaid!” Erin was shaking inside, but she had to do this. “I have NO friends because YOU ran them all off! You even kept my Mother from seeing her grandsons. Well, she's watching them now so I can try and save my sanity!”
Ronald raised his right arm. Erin was afraid he was going to slap her face, but she heard gasps and murmurs all around her. Ronald heard them too, and lowered his arm.
“Please leave, Ronald.”
“I am not finished talking with you!” Ronald's face was red.
“Well, I am. We can discuss this at home... that's IF you ever come home again!”
“You threw me out!”
“The hell I did! It was your choice. You haven't been home in weeks!” Erin was defiant, but inside she was quaking and praying for her Master to return and save her.
Slipping his phone back into his pants pocket, David headed back to the table. He noticed there seemed to be a disturbance in the dining room. As he walked closer, he saw a man arguing with Erin. David didn't recognize him, but he had attracted the attention of every person in the place.
David closed to where he could see Erin. She was panicked-her eyes were wide but she seemed to be holding her own with the intruder. She kept glancing around, however, looking for her Master. When she finally saw him, she just barely shook his head. David looked at the man again. He recognized him as the man who had bumped into him coming out of the rest room. Could he be Ronald?
David stopped and assessed his options. The last thing he wanted to do was to embarrass Erin in public or get into a fight. As far as he knew, Ronald wasn't aware of his being in the picture at all. He had to find a way to get rid of him without giving away his identity. He noticed an older woman, in her mid to late 50s. She was watching the scene unfold, holding her menu in one hand. His plan set, David started moving towards Erin. As he passed the woman, he snatched the menu from her hand.
Holding the menu against his chest with his left hand to conceal the fact that he had no name tag or logo on his shirt; David walked up to the man, who was in a heated discussion with Erin. He took a deep breath then put on a big smile. “How may I help you, sir?”
“Look, buddy, I’m having a conversation with my wife.” Ronald was seething.
“Well, then, why don't you sit down here so you can enjoy your meal while you chat.”
Erin's eyes flew open and the color drained from her face. “Um, actually, Sir, I was here with a friend of mine who has gone to the rest room. My friend should be back soon.” The restaurant was dead silent as everyone tried to hear as well as see the incident.
David turned to Ronald. “If you'd like, I could move your party to a table or booth that will accommodate the three of you and give you more privacy.”
Erin was shocked. “That won't be necess...” Ronald interrupted Erin.
“I don't need to sit down, I've already eaten. What I have to say, I can say standing up!”
David was concerned that the intruder was about to lose control, so he gently took him by the elbow. “I see, sir. Thank you for dining with us today. I'm sure you won't want to be late getting back to work.” He politely but firmly steered Ronald towards the entrance tightening his grip as he did.
“But I'm not finished talking...” Ronald tried to break David's grip on his elbow, but David continued to maneuver him closer to the door, keeping up the patter as he did.
“I'm glad you enjoyed your meal here at CJ Callahan's today. We look forward to having you return in the future. Don't forget, Happy Hour is from 4:30 to 6:00 PM every weeknight, and we have a special buffet every Sunday afternoon.” David opened the door with his left hand and nearly shoved Ronald out the door. Ronald balled up his fists and started to say something, then threw up his hands and walked away.
There was dead silence in the restaurant. All eyes were on David as he walked back to the woman. He handed the menu back to her.
“My deepest apologies, Ma'am. Unfortunately, I didn't have the opportunity to ask you if I could borrow this. I beg you, please forgive me.” He bowed his head slightly as he asked for forgiveness.
The woman, looking to be in her late 50's, smiled at David as she took back the menu.
“I completely understand, sir. You did what was necessary at the moment to rescue your lady from that boor. No apologies are needed, but I accept yours in the spirit it was offered.”
Erin stood up as David walked back to the table.. She ran to him and threw her arms around him “I was so scared, David, but I felt your strength within me and I... I was able to stand up to him!”
David whispered in Erin's ear, “No, little one, it was your strength you felt. I merely set it free.”
They stood there, arm in arm, embracing each other as a stern-faced woman walked up to them. “Sir, I am Beverly, the manager here. May I speak with you a minute?”
“Of course.” David let go of Erin and she sat down.
“I do not abide people who pretend to be employees of this establishment...” Then she broke into a smile. “However, I thank you for your assistance. I would have intervened but you handled that... that...”
“Patron?” David offered.
Beverly's smile widened. “Patron, as you say, much better than I would have. I... We all appreciate your rescuing us.” With that, the entire restaurant broke out in applause.
“Thank you, Beverly. I really appreciate your kind words. Now, I would like to return to my lunch with my lady friend.” David went to sit down but Beverly remained at the table with a hopeful look.
“You wouldn't, perhaps, be willing to consider a management position here, Mr...”
“Saunders. David Saunders.” He smiled as he shook Beverly's hand. “Unfortunately, I don't think you could afford me.”
Beverly gave a cute little laugh. “Perhaps not, but could you at least teach us some of your skills in handling difficult customers.”
“I'd be happy to, Beverly. If you have a card, I'll call you later next week.” The manager gave David her card, then turned and walked away. David sat down.
Erin was still worried. “I was so afraid of what he might do if he suspected you were with me.”
David leaned close to Erin. “I heard some of it. I'm proud of the way you stood up to him, little one. Did he frighten you or make any threats?”
“No, he just asked how I could be here without the babies. I told him the truth-that Mom was watching them so I could have lunch with an old friend.”
“I'm not that old, little one.” David broke into a smile and Erin giggled. “No, Sir, you are not.”
A server brought the meals and placed them in front of the couple. As she set David's steak down, she quietly explained, “We all want to thank you for what you did. He's been in here a lot lately, causing all sorts of trouble. You’re the first person who's been able to get him to leave without him throwing a major fit. Your meals are on us.”
David cocked his head. “Don't you mean the meals are on the house?”
“No, on us. The entire wait staff is chipping in to buy them for you as a thank you.”
“That's too generous. How many are there working today?”
She counted. “Ten, including Beverly.”
“Then, at least let me leave a tip for all of you, and I won't take “No” for an answer.” The server smiled, patted David's hand and walked away.
While they were enjoying their meals, the woman whose menu David had “borrowed” got up to leave. She stopped at their table and smiled. “David, is it?” He nodded. “I am heartened to see young men like you with the grace, tact and intestinal fortitude to protect your lady. It gives me hope for the world.” She then leaned over to Erin and whispered something in her ear. Erin was at first shocked, then giggled, then said, “Yes, Ma'am, I will.”
As the woman left, David leaned over to Erin. “What did she say to you, little one?”
Erin giggled. “I think it would be wise to wait until we're in the car to tell.”
As they enjoyed their meal, a number of the customers who left thanked David for taking care of the “riff raff,” as one person put it. David was gracious and modest, and Erin couldn't help but admire her Master.
After they were treated to a lavish dessert, “on the management,” David pulled out his wallet and extracted two bills, not letting anyone see what they were. He concealed them in the palm of his hand. As they headed for the door, they were greeted with another round of applause. Erin blushed and looked at David, then giggled a bit to see he was blushing, too.
Beverly met them at the door. “David, I am so grateful for what you did.”
David reached to shake her hand. “I'm just sorry for the inconvenience. Please divide this equally among your staff as well as for yourself.” He pressed the bills into her hand as he shook it. “Please, don't look at it until we've gone,” he said modestly.
As they got into the car, Erin asked David, “So how much did you tip, Master?”
“Two hundred dollars, to be divided equally,” he replied offhandedly.
“Two hundred? You would have spent less if you bought our meals!”
“It was to show my appreciation for their understanding. I felt it was justified... and when did you stop calling me by my title?”
Erin blushed, ashamed for forgetting, but David gave her a smile. “I'll give you a pass, since the situation was so upsetting. Now, if you would answer my question from earlier. Just what did that woman say to you when she was leaving?'
Erin broke out laughing. When she could speak again, she told David, “She whispered in my ear that I was a very fortunate slave to have such a handsome and gallant Master. She told me to cherish and take good care of you.”
David roared with laughter. “You just never know where you'll run into a member of the family!” He glanced at the clock on the dash. “It's just about one thirty. We'll be right on time for Melissa.”
They turned into a driveway alongside 4720 Hudson and parked in a small lot behind the building. David picked up the envelope containing the PI's report and photos as they got out of the car. They went in through a back entrance.
Once they made it to the lobby, David went to an elevator with a wall-mounted keypad beside it. He punched in a code and the elevator doors opened. Erin and David got in and pressed the button for the penthouse. When the elevator stopped, the doors opened up on a hallway.
David led Erin to a door with a nameplate beside it. Written in script on the nameplate was “Mistress Payne.” David pressed the buzzer below the nameplate and they heard a “click,” then David turned the doorknob and they entered the home of the top femdom in the state.
“Erin! David! You're right on time!” Melissa, A.K.A. Mistress Payne, was coming out of a door on the opposite side of a parlor decorated in Victorian style. Since she was entertaining guests, not receiving a client, she wore a fluffy white terrycloth robe with her monogram on it. It showed off her legs as she walked over to greet them.
Melissa hugged David and kissed him on the cheek. “You're looking good as always, Melissa,” he told her.
“You're looking good yourself, David,” she replied.
“I have Erin to thank for that. She has excellent fashion sense.”
Melissa turned to Erin and hugged her. “You're doing a great job,” she whispered in encouragement, then kissed her on the cheek.
“Thank you, Mistr...”
“No, no no!” Melissa waggled her finger at Erin, who blushed thinking she had made another mistake. Melissa glanced at David with an icy stare. “Didn't you explain it to her?”
David smiled. “We've been a bit busy, Melissa. Do you want to tell her or should I”
Melissa turned back to Erin with a smile. “I am not your Master, so since you're my guests, please call me Melissa or Lissa, unless you are instructed otherwise by your Master... but please, don't call me Mel.”
David chuckled. “It makes her feel like an aging lounge singer.” Melissa gave him a dirty look.
Erin brightened up. “Oh! Thank you, Melissa. It's nice to see you again.”
“Let's go into my private quarters,” Melissa said as she walked to the door she had come out of. David and Erin followed. Inside her private living room, Melissa walked over to a chaise lounge and laid down on it like a '40s movie queen. David sat in a chair across from her and Erin sat at David's feet.
“Erin, you may sit in a chair if you would like,” David offered.
“I'm comfortable here, but thank you, Master,” she replied as she rested her head on his thigh. David started stroking her hair absentmindedly.
Melissa smiled at the couple. “So, what have you two been doing today?”
“We're making plans for my move into Erin's house.”
“Wow! That was quick!”
“Erin wants me there, and truth be told, I would worry about her too much if I wasn't there.” Erin nodded her agreement.
“Melissa!” came a voice from another room.
“Oh, is Sam here?” David asked, sitting up.
“He arrived last night.” Melissa turned her head and called out, “We're in the living room, Sam!”
David leaned over to Erin. “I didn't think I'd need to tell you, but please don't say anything about Sam being here outside this apartment.”
“Why, Master?” Erin asked.
A tall, sandy haired man walked into the living room. He was completely naked except for a mask that obscured his upper face and a plastic cock cage. Even with the mask, Erin recognized him immediately. “Isn't he...?” she whispered to David.
“Yes, but here we call him Sam.” Erin looked confused.
“Sam and I are old friends from college, Erin.” Melissa smiled as Sam knelt by the side of her chaise lounge. “He comes here a few times a year to, as he calls it, 'decompress'.” Erin was about to ask a question when Melissa said to Sam, “You may speak freely, Sam. They are our guests.”
Sam flashed the big smile Erin had seen many times before. “Permission to remove my mask, Mistress?”
“Sam, why don't we call a 'time out'?” Sam smiled and removed his mask, revealing the face Erin knew from any number of blockbuster movies.
“It's nice to meet you, Erin,” Sam beamed at her, then realized his mistake. “David, I'm sorry! Is she your slave?”
“Not officially, Sam. It's a bit complicated. However, right now, we're just all friends here.”
Erin just stared at Sam. “I can’t believe you're sitting there!”
“Let me explain.” Sam leaned back against the lounge as Melissa put her hand on his shoulder. “As Melissa said, we're friends from college. After college, I made my way to Hollywood and lost track of her. When I was doing research for a movie where I played a male submissive, my manager arranged for me to experience living as a submissive. He said he had found a good female dominant who would give me a true to life experience to build my character on.”
“What movie was that?” Erin asked.
“Thankfully, it's probably not one you've ever seen. It was just about a “direct to bargain bin DVD” release. I think it opened in 500 theaters the first weekend. By the second, it was in 27, all dollar theaters. The next week, it had disappeared.” Sam grinned. “However, because of that disaster, my career turned around.”
“It must have, but how?”
“My manager wanted to keep me as far away from the paparazzi as he could, so the pro-domme who agreed to take me as an exclusive client for a week was in another state. When I arrived at her place, I didn't know what to expect, but what I really didn't expect was to come face-to-face with Melissa!” He laid his head on Melissa's hand as she nodded.
“You're kidding!” Erin exclaimed.
“I had majored in Anthropology and minored in Sociology,” Melissa explained, “but back then I couldn't find a job that allowed me to pay my room and board, much less my student loans. I ran into a classmate of mine soon after I graduated who persuaded me to 'assist' her with a special project she was working on. Little did I know she was a pro-domme needing an assistant. When I found out how much she was making a month, I jumped at the chance.”
“That was about four years before I ran into her again,” Sam continued. “By then, Melissa had become Mistress Payne and was getting quite a reputation for being at the top of her, er, profession.”
“But how could you go through the week with an old friend?”
“Lissa and I dated for a while in our Junior year.” Melissa touched Sam's shoulder.
“No, Sam, it was my Junior year and your Senior year,” Melissa corrected.
“Right, right! We were kinda wild and crazy when it came to sex. I guess you'd might say we were a couple of switches back then, but only in the bedroom, so I was comfortable with Melissa. She also didn't believe in the “man hating, women superiority” stuff, so she gave me a realistic view of a healthy femdom/malesub relationship.”
“That was good, wasn't it?”
“The director didn't think so. We fought constantly and it came out on the screen. On top of that, since it wasn't the stereotypical BDSM relationship, the critics panned the film. My career was declared over.”
“Oh no! But they were obviously wrong.”
Sam nodded. “I had become a real egocentric asshole even as my career was self-destructing.” Sam put his left hand on Melissa’s hand and patted it. “But that week with Lissa made me realize that I had lost the self-discipline I had in my early career. I came back here on my own and asked her to take me on for a month. I told her I couldn’t pay anything. I... I poured my heart out to her...” He stopped talking and Melissa continued the story.
“I could see that Sam needed to get his head back on straight, so I agreed to help an old friend. It was a tough month for both of us. I was starting to get jaded about being a pro and had almost become the caricature that I had despised in the beginning. Sam helped me remember what I wanted to do as a dominant. I helped him get his discipline back. His career took off from there and he became the mega-star he is today. I became a much better pro-domme.”
“So why are you back here? Are you doing another movie?”
Sam smiled. “I discovered that I did my best work on screen when I would come back for a “refresher” a few times a year. I'm only here for a week and I don't interact with Lissa's clients, so the only ones who know about me are our friends.”
Erin was deep in thought. “But aren't you married? What does your wife think about this?”
Sam chuckled. “Lissa was a classmate of hers, too, so they are good friends. In fact, after we stopped seeing each other, Lissa introduced me to her. It's just another thing I'm grateful for.”
“And she puts up with this?”
Melissa nodded. “I don't have a sexual relationship with Sam any more. He comes here strictly as a service submissive. It's almost like therapy for him.”
“Is that why you have that cage on your cock?” Everyone but Erin roared with laughter. Erin blushed and said, “What'd I say? What'd I say?”
“Little one,” David said, wiping tears from his eyes, “orgasm denial is part of the submission. Melissa and Sam did that even before Sam got married. This is about submission and inner discipline, not sex.”
“Being here and serving Lissa helps me to remember my place in the world.”
“Couldn't your wife do the same thing?”
“That's a good question, but the answer is no. Part of this... exercise is getting away from the illusion, the fairy tale that is Hollywood. Actually, and I didn't have time to tell you, Lissa, but Dawn and I are progressing into more of a Dom/sub relationship.”
“That's great!” Melissa had a big smile on her face.
“Wait!” Erin exclaimed suddenly. “Does that mean I can't tell Mom I met Sam?”
“That's right, little one.”
Erin pouted. “That's no fun!”
“But Erin,” Melissa said, “Just think of the big secret you have that your mother doesn't know about.” Erin broke out in a grin.
“Melissa, would it be alright for Sam to give Erin the nickel tour?”
“Sorry, David, he can't.”
David was surprised. “Why not?”
“Because the nickel tour is now a quarter.” Melissa gave him a wicked grin.
“Come on, Erin, let's go explore,” Sam said. “I think the adults want to talk shop. Besides, I'll show you where Lissa keeps all her personal toys!” Now Sam had a wicked grin.
“Stay out of my nightstand!” Sam and Erin ran out of the room, giggling.
“He's in a great mood,” David observed.
“Don't tell anyone else, but Sam just found out that Dawn is pregnant.”
“No! Isn't that their first?”
“It is, David, and want to hear something funny? They've figured out she got pregnant right after he returned home from his last visit here.” Melissa sat back, smiling.
David laughed. “That's great news.”
“Yes it is,” Melissa agreed. “Now, what is it you wanted to talk to me about that you couldn't say on the phone? You're usually not this mysterious, David.”
David picked up the envelope he had laid on the side table. “I need your help, Melissa.”
“Has it been that long?”
“Oh, for cryin' out loud, Mel.” She glared at him. David became serious. “Oh, I think you're going to be madder than that when I ask you my question.”
“David, you know I would never get mad at you.”
“Well, let's see if that's true after I ask my question.” David pulled a photo of Ronald out of the envelope on his lap and showed it to Melissa. “Melissa, do you know this man?”
Melissa stared at David. “You know I can't confirm or deny if I know that person, David. If, and I emphasize, if he is a client of mine, I would never admit it.”
David had spotted Melissa's pupils opening wide when she first saw the photo. David pulled out the four surveillance photos of Ronald entering and leaving the apartment building and handed them to Melissa. “I believe that's your building he's entering and exiting.”
Melissa stiffened and her stare turned icy. “There are eleven other floors in this building, David. I do not appreciate where this conversation is going.” She tossed the photos on the floor.
“Melissa, I respect your integrity. I know you run the best operation in the city and that's why you don’t get harassed. If there was a faster way to confirm this, I promise you I would have done it, but I need to know. Is this man your Tuesday and Friday eight PM client?”
“This conversation is over, David. Please find Erin and leave. Do not come back.” Melissa got up from the lounge.
“I'm sorry, Melissa. I can't. I should have been upfront with you., but I know you too well.”
Melissa became livid. “What does that mean, David?” she screamed. “I told you to get out!”
David held up the photo of Ronald again. “I'm sorry I have to tell you this, but this is Erin's husband.”
Melissa stopped, a shocked look on her face. “He's what?”
“This is Ronald Donnelly, Erin's husband.”
Melissa dropped to her knees, tears flowing down her face. “OH GOD, NO!” she screamed. Erin and Sam came running in the living room as Melissa fell in a heap on the floor, sobbing. Erin stopped short when she saw the photo, then ran over to Melissa. Sam squared off in front of David. He balled up his fists, ready to fight.
“What did you do to Melissa, David?”