"Uptight bitch," he growls, pushing down against the hood of car, still warm from the drive back from the gallery. She struggles beneath him, trying to shove him off her, but he's so much stronger than she is, and holds her down easily, opening her legs to press himself against her as he leans down to scrape his teeth across her neck.
She tries to hold it back, but a moan of deep pleasure escapes her lips, and trapped beneath him, she rocks her hips against him, expecting him to take her here, on his car parked in their garage.
"You like this?" he growls in her ear, menancing, and then pulls away from her, grabbing her arm to lift her off the car, "This is just the start." He gets behind her, pushing her forward as he pulls her arms behind her back and walks her back into their house. Her heart beats wildly now, hovering on the threshold between fear and excitement. She has no idea what he has planned, he could do anything to her...
Inside the house, he tears her clothes off, clothes he'd bought for that morning for this gallery show. On abrupt shove has her bent over their dining table. He pulls her arm back again, holding her prisoner as he shoves himself roughly inside her.
It was a month ago when she told him she wanted this, and he said nothing in response. She thought maybe it was too much, even for him. But, he'd obviously filed it away in his head, waiting for the right time to give it to her.
Despite having wanted it, asked for it, he makes the fear real, and that fear thrums though her desire, so that she trembles, losing her balance as she climaxes, falling into him. He catches her fall, supporting her as her legs give way beneath her.
"You're almost too good at this," she sighs when he lifts her up, as tender now as he was rough before, "I was actually terrified of you for a moment there."
"It's not easy," he says, "When you know how to stop me with a word."
It's true, she thinks. She's never had to use her safe word while they indulged in their games; he has an excellently tuned instinct for when it's enough, and has never pushed further than she cared to go, always stopped just as she's reached the edge of what she can handle, leaving her both satisfied and wanting more. She did use her safe word once, when she walked in on him brushing his teeth. He stopped immediately, like a Pavlovian response, she thought, and looked at her quizzically, toothbrush suspended in his jaw, and waiting for her permission to continue.
He carries her to their bed, lays her down and lies beside her, holding her.
"Did you plan this all along?" she asks, caressing his chest, toying with his nipple rings, "Or was this an impromptu performance to distract me from asking you about what happened tonight?"
"Yes," he says, leaving her unsure of which question he's responding to, "Why can't you just leave the past alone?"
"Because sometimes I feel like you're a stranger," she says, "I know almost nothing about you."
"You know what's important."
"It's not enough. I want to know why you stole that woman's money, why it was so important for you to get out of New York." He doesn't respond, he just pulls on her hair as she pulls on his nipple ring. "I'm not letting this go, Justin," she says firmly.
"All right, princess," he says, "I'll tell you the story."
"Lance and Jacob were pretty boys, art students. You know the type. I was 18, and had just gotten into doing shows in fetish clubs. That's how I met them. There weren't so much into the scene as they were curious, excited by the danger. They saw my show, got up the nerve to talk to me, and before the night was over, I got a place to stay with them, rent free. Their roommate, Alison, wasn't too thrilled by this, but she didn't kick me out."
"The game started accidentally. We were out one night, walking from one bar to another. I stopped inside a bodega for cigarettes..."
"You smoked?" Eleanor interrupts.
"I did. Quit when I moved to L.A.," he says, and then carries on, "Lance and Jacob were waiting for me outside. When I came out, they were being harassed by some tough guys looking to beat up on a couple of gays. They had no idea what they were in for. I took them both down, gave them a beating like they'd never had before. That was the first time. After that, the three of us would go out to the kinds of seedy straight bars where guys like that hung out. I'd wait outside, and Lance and Jacob would go, and just be themselves. It never failed, someone, sometimes group of them, would follow my boys out of the bar and try to beat up on them. Instead, they got me."
"That's kind of heroic," Eleanor sighs.
"I wasn't doing it for them," Justin says, "I was using them as bait. And if I ever got taken in one of those fights, those two were dead."
"Did you ever lose a fight?"
Justin thinks back, and is surprised to realized that in all the fights he'd been since his first schoolyard brawl, he'd never fallen, not once. "Never," he says.
"Most of the time, it was more than one guy. They tend to move in packs. But this one night, it was just the one. I was disappointed, because I liked taking on two or three at a time. One guy wasn't much of a challenge."
"But, something happened during that fight. There's always a rush, you know? But I always knew when to stop, when I'd beat the guy down and finished him. That night...I didn't stop. I had him down, he wasn't getting up, but I kept at him. I knew I was going too far, but I couldn't stop myself. Even Lance and Jacob could see I was losing control, and it scared them."
"It was Jacob that got up the nerve to try to stop me. Lance was a wreck by this point."
"Jacob grabbed my arm, and I...I turned on him. Grabbed him by the neck, pulled him off the ground. That got Lance off his ass, he was crying, begging me to let Jacob go. I don't remember how they talked me down, but I did come down before Jacob got hurt. The guy, the one I'd beat on, he was unconscious. We ran, leaving him there. I don't know what happened to him. Lance and Jacob were afraid of me now, and I was afraid of myself. I'd lost control, for the first time since...well, I lost control, and that was enough. I couldn't stay with them any more, even if they couldn't get up the courage to tell me to leave. And the guy I beat up, it had gone way beyond a bar brawl. If he lived, and I don't know that he did, Elle, he could identify me to the cops. And I wasn't going to jail. While Jacob and Lance slept that night, I took their rent money and Alison's car keys, and left. I abandoned the car halfway through Connecticut; it was a piece of shit, anyway, and by morning the cops would be looking for it. I cut my hair, changed my last name, and moved on."
Eleanor lays quietly beside him as he finishes his story.
"Am I less of stranger to you now?" he asks her.
"No," she says, "You're still a mystery. But I'm glad you told me."
He lets that sit for a moment, and then asks, in a voice so low it's almost inaudible, "Do you still love me?"
"Yes," she says, without hesitation, "Whatever you've done in the past, that won't change. I want it all, tiger, I want all of you."