He could see a soft glow coming from the bedroom upstairs – Blair had lit candles. Music, something low and throbbing. Both boxes were gone from the coffee table, presumably upstairs also. Only his collar lay there in silent invitation – invitation, accusation, condemnation. Seduction.


He picked it up and walked upstairs.


There were candles everywhere, on every surface – in holders, in bowls, in saucers. Unscented – Blair never forgot Jim’s sensitive nose. And the music was low probably in deference to his ears, just as the clean, soft flannel sheets Blair had placed on the bed were kind to his skin. Blair always took care of him – whenever Jim would let him, at least.


Blair was sitting at the foot of the bed now, an intoxicating picture of black clothing and skin that glowed almost golden in the candlelight. He waited patiently, his blue eyes nearly incandescent, still filled with that same calm power Jim had seen before.


Silently Jim knelt at Blair’s feet, lowering his head and holding his collar up in both hands.


Blair took the collar, but Jim was surprised to feel those leather-gloved fingers under his chin, tilting his head up.


“No, Jim,” Blair said patiently. “I don’t want you to lower your eyes. Ever. Unless you’re in a position where you can’t, or you’re blindfolded, or I order you otherwise, I want you to always look into my eyes. Do you understand?"


“Yes – Master?” Jim said hesitantly, swallowing questions and astonishment.


“Not just yet,” Blair corrected. He laid the collar on the bed beside him. “First we talk.”


Jim swallowed miserably.


“Did I – “


“You haven’t done anything wrong.” Blair gave Jim another of those melting smiles. “Apart from attempting to lie to me about that box, for which I’m definitely going to punish you. But there’s a few things we need to have clear between us before we go any further with this.


“First. During my professional days I’d have had a client fill out a questionnaire about their likes, dislikes, limits. I’m not going to do that with you, first, because you’re just not that big on self-analysis; and second, since you haven’t played since your senses re-emerged, everything has changed and we’re both going to have to find out together. Which leads to my main spiel here.”


Blair cupped Jim’s chin firmly, meeting his eyes intently.


“You are the most important person in my life. There is nothing more precious to me than your safety. Your safety is the one thing we will never, ever compromise. No negotiation. That includes your safety at work, so I will never leave you in a state that won’t let you perform your job safely and with your full attention. This will be a part of our relationship and our sex life, but only a part, not a lifestyle. I’m never going to let it get out of our control. It will never be allowed to hurt our friendship, our working relationship, or our romantic relationship. It’s an addition, not a substitution. Everything I do to you will be out of love and for our mutual pleasure. If we can’t keep our games within those boundaries, then it stops.


“I’m not just your Master, Jim. I’m also your lover, your friend, your partner and your Guide. I know you not just as a slave, but as a Sentinel, a lover, a detective, a friend. That means I know you a hell of a lot better than any of those other Doms did. And that means that maybe I don’t do things the same way as they did. But my way is the way it will be done. For example, I want you to always look into my eyes so I can read your reactions, see if you’re zoning.


“It also means that we start slow and easy while we learn the lay of the land. I know you trust me, but that’s not enough. I have to be able to trust you too, because safety means that you’re honest with me and honest with yourself. If you need to use your safeword and don’t, you’re endangering yourself and I will punish you. If I’m going in a direction you really hate and you don’t tell me, if you have a problem with your senses and you don’t tell me, if I’m unintentionally hurting you in some way and you don’t tell me, you are lying to me and I will punish you. If you continue to make these mistakes, then we will never play again. I don’t want you to be brave. Detective Ellison has to be brave. James can be a total sniveling coward. Jim keeps a lot to himself, but I’m not going to permit James to hold anything back. You don’t need to push yourself. I will do all the pushing while you’re wearing this collar. Is that clear?”


Jim took a deep breath.


“Yes, M – “ he hesitated. “Blair?”


“For a little while longer,” Blair said, smiling. “Now, first of all, are there any specific problems you need to tell me about?”


Jim braced himself and nodded.


“I have a problem with – with gags and hoods and things like that,” he said slowly. “Anything that restricts my breathing.”


Blair nodded soberly.


“That’s important,” he said. “Is this something that happened when you were playing before?”


 “No,” Jim said quietly. “It goes back to Covert Ops. I really can’t talk about it.” He grimaced apologetically.


“That’s all right,” Blair said kindly. “I’m glad you told me.” He stroked Jim’s hair thoughtfully. “James, I want you to let your hair grow out a little. Give me something to grab instead of your collar.”


Jim shivered.


“Yes, Blair.”


“And I know you’ll try to keep quiet, but we do have neighbors. If I put something in your mouth that you can easily spit out if you have to, are you all right with that?”


Jim thought about it. He’d never really considered the notion. Surprised, he nodded.


“Yes, Blair. I think I’d be all right with that.”


“Good.” Blair rewarded him with another sultry smile. “Any special likes? Anything that especially pleases you?”


Jim hesitated.

“Well – “ He grimaced. “I don’t think it’s what you meant. It’s stupid anyway.”


“Nothing that pleases you is stupid,” Blair said quietly. “What?”


“Praise,” Jim mumbled embarrassedly. “I like being praised.”


He waited for a chuckle; there was none. The sympathy in Blair’s eyes astonished him.


“I’ll remember that,” Blair said gently. “Any other limits I should know about?”


Jim shook his head.


“Not really,” he said. “I can take a lot. Always could.”


“That’s an understatement,” Blair said wryly. “All right. We’re going to use a traffic light safeword system, at least to start with. A green light is for go, all’s well. Yellow light is for caution. We’re reaching your boundaries or going somewhere we shouldn’t. If you give me a yellow light, I’ll stop long enough to find out what the problem is and then decide whether to stop, proceed or change directions. Red light is full stop, no negotiation, game over. The first thing I will do is stop whatever I’m doing to you. The second thing I’ll do is release you from whatever restraints you’re in. Then I’ll take off your collar and we’re done. I’ll prompt you for your lights frequently, but if you have a problem, yellow light or red, don’t wait, just blurt it right out. I don’t care what we’re doing, whether I’m punishing you for the most heinous misbehavior or whether I’m two seconds from orgasm, I will never, ever be angry or irritated or disappointed if you call a halt. Are you really, really clear with that, Jim?”


Jim felt a sudden rush of love that almost flattened him in its intensity, followed by sheer absolute wonder. He’d knelt before so many Doms in his life, but until this moment, never his Master.


Never until now.


“Yes, Blair,” he said simply. “Whatever you say.”


Blair picked up the collar.


“Then I think I’m ready for this, if you are,” Blair said, just as simply. “James?”


Jim licked his lips.


“Yes, Master,” he said with all his heart.


Silently Blair fastened the collar around Jim’s neck, sliding his finger between the leather and Jim’s skin to make sure it wasn’t too tight. That simple gesture brought another wave of that wondering love. Yes, Blair always took care of him.


“Master?” he whispered.


“Yes, James?”


“May I kiss your hands?” Jim said softly.


“Yes, James,” Blair said, just as quietly. “You may.”


“Thank you, Master.” Jim took Blair’s hands gently in his and kissed the backs, then the palms, then each fingertip, then reluctantly released them.


“You do that very well, James,” Blair said, cupping Jim’s chin again. “I believe I’ll have you do that every time, as soon as I’ve put your collar on. The collar reminds you that you belong to me. Each time you kiss my hands, I want you to remember that you obey me not out of fear or even desire, but out of love. Because you love me and want to please me.”


“Yes, Master,” Jim whispered.


“Stand up now,” Blair said. “I want to look at you.”


Jim stood rather uncertainly, unsure how Blair wanted him to stand. He clasped his hands behind his back and stood straight, fighting the instinct to lower his head.


“No, James,” Blair said, rising from the bed. “You look very nice at attention, but I want your hands at your sides, so I can see them. They’re a good gauge of your tension. Stand with your legs farther apart. More. Yes, very good. I believe that’s how I’ll have you stand. When you kneel, I want you to keep your legs apart, back straight, hands on your thighs. And head up, always up.”


“Yes, Master.”


Blair circled Jim slowly. He tugged one glove off and ran his fingertips over Jim’s genitals; Jim bit back a moan as he throbbed impossibly harder.


“Nice and smooth,” Blair said approvingly. “Let me see your nails, James.”


Jim silently displayed his fingernails. Blair smiled and nodded again, pulling his glove back on.


“Very good,” he said. “You did a good job preparing for me, James. I know you meant to please me by oiling yourself, and you do look beautiful, but from now on I will tell you if I want you oiled. Don’t assume that you know what I want.”


“Yes, Master,” Jim said. “I’m sorry, Master.”


“That’s all right, James. You meant well, and you’ll learn.” Blair turned to the nightstand, and for the first time Jim noticed that several objects had been laid there, covered by a towel. Blair lifted the corner of the towel and picked up Jim’s cock ring, replacing the towel and walking to Jim’s side.


“You took very good care of your toys, James,” Blair said as he secured the straps snugly around the base of Jim’s cock and scrotum. He took off his gloves and checked the fit carefully, making sure Jim’s skin wasn’t wrinkled under the straps. “But I cleaned everything again anyway. Mmm. This is a lot easier to do when you’re soft. Is that too tight, James?”


“No, Master, thank you,” Jim whispered. He couldn’t manage a louder response. All the blood had left his brain to fill his cock to bursting; coherent speech was almost more than Jim could manage.


“Good boy.” Blair made another trip to the nightstand and back. “Hands, James.”


Jim extended his hands and shivered as Blair fastened a set of padded leather cuffs around his wrists.


“Lie down on the bed, James. Hands over your head.”


Jim obeyed, and Blair produced a short length of sturdy chain, looping it over the railing and clipping it to the cuffs. The chain wasn’t long; Jim had about six inches of slack. The buckles for the cuffs and the D-rings to which the chain was clipped were at the backs of Jim’s wrists, but he had enough slack that he could undo them... if he’d wanted to.


“How’s my light, James?” Blair asked.


“Green, Master,” Jim said without hesitation.


“Good.” Blair toed off his boots and settled himself cross-legged on the bed by Jim’s side. “Now I’m going to do a few tests here, and for once – “ He chuckled. “For once you don’t get to gripe and stall and dodge. And James? I don’t want you holding back your responses. I don’t want you to speak except to answer me or to tell me if you have a problem, but if you want to moan, moan. I told you, no holding back with me. And as long as you’re wearing your cock ring, you can have all the dry orgasms you like, but you only ejaculate when I give you permission. Understood?”


“Yes, Master,” Jim whispered. His heart was pounding so hard that the sound filled his ears.


Blair ran his fingertips down the side of Jim’s throat, across the top of his shoulder, down his upper arm – just the ghost of a touch, barely brushing the skin. It was a good thing that Blair wanted to hear Jim’s reaction, because Jim couldn’t have stifled the moan if he’d tried. Blair knew exactly what that light teasing touch did to Jim, how it drove him right out of his mind.


The light, sensuous brushing touch continued back up the inside of his arm, veered away from his armpit just before it could become ticklish, then swept across Jim’s chest, lighting all kinds of internal fires in its wake. Those demonic fingers trailed their butterfly touch down Jim’s sternum and his nipples contracted to diamond hardness. He arched upward, gasping as Blair’s fingers circled his navel, psychically skirting the ticklish spots a mere hairsbreadth away. Dear God, those magical fingers knew all his secrets and Jim was totally defenseless against their power.


“Good boy, James, you’re doing just fine,” Blair murmured. “I want you to push touch up a little now, just like the time I brushed you all over with my hair. Remember how good that was? Let’s try three notches again.”


“Yes, Master,” Jim gasped, and then he cried out as Blair’s fingers feathered down the inside of his left thigh and back up the inside of the right. Helplessly Jim spread his legs wide, mutely begging for Blair to extend that sorcerous touch up to where he wanted it most. He almost screamed with frustration as the light touch barely skirted his aching erection, then trailed back up his belly. Then frustration was forgotten and electric sensation, almost too intense to be called pleasure, arced through him as Blair’s fingertips circled his left nipple ever so slowly, barely brushing the hypersensitive flesh. Then back again, more firmly now, toying softly with the taut bed. Jim froze, fighting for his breath. Then suddenly Blair pinched his nipple hard, and Jim cried out hoarsely, every muscle tense and trembling, his cock throbbing wildly against the imprisoning straps as waves of sensation shook his body. It was pleasure, it was pain, it was incredible and it flamed through body and soul together.


Then the searing touch was gone and Jim sobbed with the loss. Gradually Jim reclaimed breath and awareness and he realized that Blair was staring intently down at him, one hand laying flat on Jim’s chest but not touching him otherwise. Jim blinked and Blair smiled radiantly.


“Oh, James, you’re such a good boy,” Blair said delightedly. “I thought that would zone you out for sure. That was wonderful, James, just perfect, and I’m so proud of you.”


Jim was still too breathless to say anything in response, even if a response was called for, but Blair’s words almost felt better than his caress.




“How’s my light, James?” Blair asked, his tone stern now.


Jim had to swallow several times before he could get the words out.


“Green, Master.”


“Good. Just relax.”


Jim felt Blair’s fingers gently clasp his erection stroking it very softly at first, then more firmly; then the fingertip of his other hand touched the glans, smearing the drops of precome over the head. Suddenly the blue of Blair’s eyes gazing intently into his seemed to swell, deepen, threatened to swallow him whole, and Jim gasped, “M-Master – yellow – “


Instantly Blair withdrew his hands and bent lower, his hand on Jim’s cheek.


“What’s the matter, James? Tell me, Baby.”


Jim could feel the world receding into those eyes.


“Zoning – “


“Okay, James, it’s all right,” Blair said calmly, slowly stroking Jim’s cheek, his chest, his shoulder, never letting any one sensation become predominant. “Nice deep breaths, you know the drill, James, follow my voice back, focus on my voice and follow it.”


Jim teetered on the edge a moment longer, then slowly relaxed as the world solidified around him again. He was trembling.


“Okay now?” Blair asked softly.


“Yes, Master,” Jim said shakily, surprised himself that he’d remembered the correct response at that moment.


“You were a good boy to tell me,” Blair said, still stroking Jim’s chest gently. “Now, what went wrong? Too much sensation?”


Jim shook his head, then remembered.


“No, Master,” he said hurriedly. “It was your eyes, they were so blue – “


Blair frowned.


“Okay, James, visualize your dials. Where’s touch right now?”


“Uh – three, Master.”


“Good. Where’s sight?”


Jim swallowed.


“Three, Master. I’m sorry, Master, I didn’t mean to – “


Blair’s frown deepened.


“I know you didn’t do that on purpose, James. Turn touch and sight both back down. Can you do that? Everything back to normal?”


“Yes, Master,” Jim said apologetically.


“Good boy. Okay, you’re getting crossover. That’s not good.” Blair was silent a long moment, then nodded. “Let’s try something else, then.”


His weight vanished from the bed for a moment; when Blair returned, he was holding a set of tweezer-style nipple clamps connected by a chain.


“Watch my eyes, James, and focus on my voice,” Blair instructed. “We’re going to do this really, really slowly. Tell me when these clamps are as tight as you can handle.”


“Yes, Master.” Jim shuddered at the first hint of pressure; it was all he could do to keep his gaze on those calm blue eyes watching him so intently and not watch Blair’s fingers tightening the clamp ever so slowly on his left nipple.


Jim gasped as the pleasure mingled with discomfort and edged into pain, but he said nothing, and to his credit Blair never hesitated, continuing until Jim gasped, “Enough, please, Master.”


Blair glanced down, then raised his eyebrows.


“You were right, James, you can take a lot,” Blair said softly. “All right, James, that’s good to know, but I’m going to back off some here. With the clamps this tight I can’t leave them on long.”


Blair released the clamp and Jim cried out helplessly at the rush of sensation. Blair smiled and bent down, his warm lips sealing around the aching bud of flesh, his tongue soothing it wetly until the pain faded and Jim was a shuddering wreck. Blair’s kindness was as devastating as the pain he inflicted.


“Now that I know your limit, we’re going to start over,” Blair said softly, sitting back upright. “Turn touch back up, James. Three notches. Watch your dials. Nothing but touch, James.”


Jim closed his eyes and tried to concentrate.


“Yes, Master.”


“Good boy.” Blair picked up the clamps again. “Now we’re going to try this again, nice and slowly. Watch my eyes, nice deep breaths, and tell me if you have any problems.”


This time he started on Jim’s right nipple, tightening the clamp slowly. With Jim’s sense of touch turned up, he knew he couldn’t take nearly as much, but it didn’t matter – Blair tightened the clamp just enough that Jim felt a nice bite, deliciously distracting but easily tolerable, before he repeated the action on Jim’s left nipple.


“Light?” Blair prompted.


“Green, Master,” Jim groaned, trembling.


“Good.” Blair smiled, and then those warm fingers enfolded his aching cock again, stroking it to throbbing agony cautiously at first, then more firmly – then abruptly Jim shuddered and moaned as Blair plucked at the chain connecting the two clamps, sending a little electric jolt from the aching buds straight to Jim’s cock.


“Ahhhhhhhhhh – “ Jim’s hips pumped helplessly, thrusting his cock into Blair’s hand, but Blair released him just before he could go over the edge again.


“Mmmm, beautiful, so beautiful,” Blair purred. “You’re so responsive, James. I love it. I think I’m getting this figured out – you need your stimulation varied so you don’t focus too much on one sensation, or else your senses go off looking for distractions on their own. I can work with that. Okay, let’s move on to something else for the moment.”


To Jim’s confusion, Blair unfastened the chain from the cuffs on Jim’s wrists, and Jim stifled a protest. Surely they weren’t done already?


“Turn over, James,” Blair said, getting up off the bed. “Head down, ass up, and hold yourself open for me.”


For a moment Jim froze in sheer erotic shock; then he flipped over hastily onto his stomach – and yelped with pain. He’d forgotten (a) the clamps on his nipples, and (b) an erection of pure tungsten steel, on which he’d just landed. He glanced guiltily at Blair, who looked amused.


“Excuse me, James,” Blair said sternly, although Jim could see his eyes twinkling. “I thought I made it clear earlier that while you’re wearing that collar, I’m the only one allowed to cause you pain. Do you have a problem with that instruction?”


“No, Master,” Jim said quickly. He positioned himself obediently. “I’m sorry, Master.”


This time the corners of Blair’s lips twitched suspiciously.


“I’m sure you are. Disobey me again and you’ll add to your punishment. Legs wider, please. Very good, James. Mmmm, you look just beautiful. You have such a gorgeous ass, it’s hard for me to keep my hands off it. But then,” Blair said thoughtfully, “I don’t have to, do I?”


Abruptly Blair’s hand smacked down hard on Jim’s left buttock. Jim moaned and held perfectly still as Blair’s stroke seemed to ricochet off every nerve in his body.


“Beautiful,” Blair repeated. “One of these days I’m going to see if I can make you come just by spanking you. I bet you would, too. Where’s touch right now, James?”


“Three, Master.”


“Very good. Keep it there, please. Now relax.”


Jim shivered as a slick finger slid gently but firmly into him, and once again he felt confused. Was Blair going to fuck him already? Hell, he hadn’t even taken off those gorgeous leather pants.


A second finger slid into him and Jim moaned, fighting hard to hold still. Blair was being careful to avoid his prostate, but with Jim’s sense of touch turned up it hardly mattered; the sensation of his Guide’s fingers moving inside him was driving him completely insane. The fingers withdrew, and Jim stifled a moan of disappointment; he waited for them to return, probably with a third finger added for good measure, but a moment later something thicker, cool and hard, entered him, and Jim realized it as one of the dildos from his shoebox.


“Let’s do a little test now,” Blair said, easing the dildo deeper inside him. “This is one of your old friends. Can you recognize which one from the feel?”


“Yes, Master,” Jim said, fighting not to push back against the gentle thrusts. “It’s the blue one, Master.”


“Very good,” Blair said approvingly. “Which one’s your favorite? You seem to have quite an assortment.”


Jim felt his cheeks heat, but there wasn’t the faintest hint of mockery in Blair’s tone, only aroused interest.


“Uh – the black one, Master,” Jim mumbled.


“Which black one?” Blair asked. “The short one, the long one or the one with the ridges?”


Jim’s face was flaming now.


“The long one, Master. Without the ridges.”


One hand continued to play the dildo gently in and out of his ass, but Jim saw Blair peep under the corner of the cloth covering the tray.


“Wow,” Blair chuckled. “You’re an ambitious fellow, James. I’d need a lot of warmup for that one. Mmmm, good, nice and relaxed and open now. Time to move on. See if you can recognize this one.”


The dildo was drawn out of him. Then Jim gasped as a plug slid into him. It certainly wasn’t one of his; he didn’t own one quite that long and thick. It wasn’t as thick as some of the dildos he owned, but it was enough to startle him with the sudden sensation of fullness. For a moment he had to fight for the breath to answer Blair.


“It’s not one of – of mine, Master,” Jim panted.


“You’re right, it’s not.” Blair sounded pleased. “Very good, James. Comfy?”


Jim bit his lip. His erection and gained an impossible additional degree of hardness.


“Yes, Master,” he said helplessly.


“Good. Kneel up, James.”


Jim obeyed with some difficulty; his arms didn’t want to support him to push upward. Blair fastened a leather strap around Jim’s hips, and Jim realized that the plug inside him was attached to a harness. A single strap came down from the waist strap at the back to hold the plug inside him, then split into two diagonal straps that skirted his scrotum and angled up to attach to the harness in front.


“Lovely,” Blair said approvingly. “You look good in leather, James – especially just a butt plug harness, a leather cock strap and your collar. But after all your time in Vice, I bet you’ve got some nice tight leather in your closet somewhere, don’t you?”


“Yes, Master,” Jim mumbled.


“Sometime soon,” Blair mused, “I believe I’m going to have you put on a nice tight pair of leather pants over your cock strap and harness, maybe a tank top or maybe just a vest, I don’t know, and your collar. Then I’ll put a half mask on you so nobody will recognize you, and a leash on your collar, and I’m going to take you to this special club I know, and we’ll have all kinds of fun, and I can show off my beautiful slave. Would you let me do that, James?”