I held Sarah’s* hands over her head with one hand, her back pressed up against the wall. My fingers didn’t actually reach around both of her wrists, but we both let the restriction expand to limit her, even if we knew she could move if she wanted to. She moved her spine against the wall, pushing her hips toward me, then thrusting her chest out, those sensitive places begging for attention.
Kissing her neck, I gently touched my fingers on her inner thigh, at that place where her stockings end and the garter framed her skin, as softly as I could, and slowly — and then half as slow as that. Making her wait. Drinking in her eager willingness. Feeling her body relax even more as we tuned into each other, breath synchronized. Not in any hurry. I liked things slow, I liked to draw things out. It made everything last longer, and that much more delicious.
And I had no idea what the fuck I was doing.
When Sarah and I had been together about six months, we started to have more intense negotiation talks about what we would or wouldn’t do in bed. Meaning, how I did or didn’t have permission to dominate her.
I was used to checking in about everything. “Is this okay? How does that feel? Are you okay? Do you need me to change anything?”
I’m sure in the beginning checking in that way was useful — I was gathering information about her body, and Sarah was building her trust in me slowly, offering up a little bit more and seeing how we both handled it. But after six months, perhaps we didn’t need to do so much of that. Perhaps I didn’t need to do so much of that. What I’m saying is, Sarah was getting annoyed.
“Can you stop checking in with me so much, please? It can just ruin my headspace,” she told me at a late brunch at one of our favorite diners one weekend. It was after noon, but they still served fresh seasonal fruit pancakes and excellent veggie scrambles. “I appreciate that you want to make sure I’m okay,” she went on. “But you know me. I promise, if I’m not okay, I will tell you.”
I chewed my lip and looked at her. “I just don’t want to go too far,” I said. “I get, you know, nervous.”
“I know you do,” she reached over our half-eaten food to cover my hand in hers. “I appreciate that, I really do. But you have to trust me. I can advocate for myself.”
“Okay. I can try.” It felt like pressure. It felt like I wasn’t doing it right. It felt like when I was careful, I wasn’t ruthlessly pursuing the dominance, but when I was ruthless, I wasn’t a careful enough dominant. How could I hit that fine balance?
I sipped my coffee and took another bite. We chewed in silence.
“You know what I like,” she said, thinking aloud. “I mean you could probably make a list of all the things that you do that I love. We’ve talked about that so much.”
I nodded, ticking off some items in my head: growling commands, anal sex, playing with knives, rough body play, making her crawl, blow jobs, restricting her hands… I could easily add ten or fifteen more. “That’s true. I do have this permission list, in a way, of things you’ve told me I can do pretty much at any time.”
“Right. And it’s not just a static list, more like a wide range of feelings and ways we play.”
“More of an artist’s palette than a to-do list,” I offered, thinking about the list of things she desired and enjoyed most, and how I could stay and play within that, completely assured that she wanted to do those things, without much risk.
She smiled, dropping her voice and squirming a little. “I like that. I like being your canvas. I want you to take what you want,” she said. I’d heard her say that before. It thrilled me every time. “Which is why it’s hard when you keep checking in with me. I don’t want to assure you that I like it; I want you to like it.”
I was reaching to cut a bite of the pancake on the plate between us and stuck my fork through a couple of berries, too. But then I set it down, and instead I swallowed the growing lump in my throat.
There is always a risk in kinky play — these activities and are edgy, and the psychological places they touch can be intense. Even playing with something we’ve played with many times before can suddenly bring panic or pain that is overwhelming. But I had to also trust that if that happened, she would tell me. And if she told me, I would, of course, stop and check in, and do whatever I could do to support and help.
What if I only played within that palette? What if I stood tall in the confidence that any of those things are fair game? “I want to try it,” I said decisively. “I have some ideas.”
“Oh? Like what?” She looked at me sideways, sipping coffee.
“I think… I want to surprise you,” I said, already a little nervous, but thrilled to take more control.
So, four days later, when we had a date on Wednesday night and she came back to my house, I followed my impulses and did what I wanted. I walked her slowly back against the wall. I kissed her, biting her lip. I growled in her ear, “I’m going to take what I want tonight.”
I still had to decide what was next. But I had infinite combinations on my palette, I just had to pick one, to choose, and to ask myself: what is it that I want, right now? My mind ticked through the options, fluttering my fingers over her bare skin and the edges of her panties under her short skirt, until I got a mental image of my good knife over on top of the dresser. Yes, I thought. That’s it.
*Sarah is not a real person; she’s an amalgam of various lovers, fantasies and relationships I’ve had.
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