"I'm going out for a long lunch," Mercedes says to Eleanor as she heads towards the door, "Make sure you make the arrangements withe caterer, and get the flowers ordered. I want everything to be perfect."
"What kind of flowers?" Eleanor calls out to the retreating Mercedes.
"I don't care!" her boss calls back in huff, "Use your judgment. Just make sure it's spectacular."
"I'll get right on that," Eleanor says under her breath. But while she has the time alone, she decides to take care of more personal business first.
"I miss you," she types, logging into the private chat room she and Justin shared before she knew it was Justin she was chatting for the first time since he inadvertently scared her off.
"I'm here. Talk to me."
She hesitates; it's not the same now that the anonymity is gone. She's as shy about typing the words as she would be about speaking them to his face.
He waits for her response, then sends, "Princess, I have a client in a half hour."
"Client? I thought you were a dancer?" she answers.
This time Eleanor waits for him to respond. "I'm a professional dominant, Elle. I thought you knew?"
She supposes she should have figured it out based on the bits she'd gleaned from him, but it still comes as a bit of shock. "What's that like?" she asks.
"I'm running late here," he responds, "And this conversation needs to be in person. What time do you get off?"
Today's session is simple enough, one of his regular clients. She likes to be spanked with a paddle while tells he what a worthless bitch she is.
Normally, he gets through sessions like this without much thought or effort, and never with any emotion, but today he's annoyed. He should be with Eleanor right not, not wasting his precious time with this crap.
"That was amazing, Justin," Mercedes enthuses as she pays him, "I think you put in a little more energy than usual." She tries to move closer to him; Justin backs away. "You know I'd pay you handsomely for 'extra services'," she says with what is supposed to be a seductive smile.
"You know I don't do that," Justin growls. Mercedes has pitched this offer to him several times before, and he's in less of a mood to deal with it today than usual, "Get a gigolo."
"I don't want a gigolo," she pouts, "I want you."
"You can't have me," Justin answers, putting on his shirt and leaving before she can say another word.
Mercedes fumes, all the tension her session relieved coming back as she watches him go. There is nothing in this world that Mercedes Arthag can't buy, and she's not about to make an exception.
Justin meets with Eleanor at Las Bebidas as promised when she gets off work.
"Are you hungry?" she asks as she sits beside him.
He could just say no, he thinks, and pretend to be normal. But he's made a career of pretense and lies, and what he wants from Eleanor is something real, and the only way to get that is to give her his real self. So, he tells her the truth, strange as it is. "I don't eat anything I haven't prepared myself."
She gives him the questioning look he expected, "Really? Why not?"
"Food preparation is so... intimate. I don't like strangers touching my food."
Eleanor nods, "I kind of get that," she says. She has her own little hygiene quirks, who is she to judge his? Better a fastidious neurotic than a undiscriminating slob, anyway.
Encouraged by her acceptance, Justin decides to lay it all out. "It's not just food. I don't like to be touched, not strangers, not by friends. Physical contact makes me, I don't know, antsy? Nauseated?" he says, wishing he had a word to describe the loathing he has of human closeness.
"That must get in the way of your...work," Eleanor says.
Justin shakes his head, "I wouldn't do it if there was any physical contact. Whips, paddles, chains, whatever they're into, but there's never any contact."
"And it's not sexual at all, your work?"
"Not for me, it isn't. I don't think about what's going on in the client's head." Mercedes Arthag's offer comes to mind; Justin frowns, not happy when his work intrudes on his life.
"You've touched me," Eleanor points out, "The other night, at the club. You kissed me."
Justin nods, "You're the exception. The day you moved in, I saw you from window, and for the first time in my life, I wanted human contact, to touch you, talk to you, be with you."
"Why me?" she asks.
Justin shakes his head, looks down at his fingers resting against the tiled table, "I don't know why, princess, I only know that the effect you had on me. Every day, it just gets stronger."
Eleanor smiles a tiny, rueful smile, "Stina always says I'm a freak because I'm a virgin and I don't go on dates or want a relationship."
"She doesn't know you," Justin says, "Not like I do."
She reaches across the table to touch his hand. "I'd like to go home now," she says.
"Tell me what you want" he says, his voice rough as he presses her up against the bedroom wall.
"A whip," she decides, spur of the moment.
"What's your safe word?" he asks.
"Safe word," Justin answers, letting her down gently, "The word you'll use when you want me to stop. You can't play the game without a safe word."
Eleanor presses her face against the soft silk of his bed, and submits to the sting of the whip.
"Did you forget your safe word?" Justin asks, lifting her onto the bed and laying beside her.
"I didn't want you to stop," Eleanor sighs.
"You had enough," he whispers, "Don't push yourself."
"You're the dom," she answers, smiling.
"That's just a role I play to please you," he says, his lips brushing against her neck, "In this relationship, you're the top."
Upstairs, Gavin and Tori engage in more traditional love play.
"Eleanor, so nice to see you here!" Gavin exclaims when the two couples meet the next morning at the breakfast table, and introduces Tori to his housemate and neighbor.
"You two are such a cute couple! Tori enthuses.
"They are, aren't they?" Gavin agrees, happy for himself and for his friend, who he knew had been pursuing Eleanor for sometime. Justin refrains from kicking Gavin under the table.