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Alex had to suppress a groan when she saw Liz Donnelly in her doorway. It had been a long day, and she had little interest in hearing whatever lecture she was sure her boss had come to give her.

"What can I do for you?" Alex took her glasses off and laid them on her paperwork.

"You've been keeping secrets from me, Alexandra." Liz placed both hands on Alex's desk and leaned forward.

"What?" Alex raised her eyebrows. "Liz, you're up to date on every case I'm working. I…there's no possible way I could keep something from you."

"I'm not talking about your cases."

Alex crossed her arms and shook her head. "What is this about?"

"I received an interesting phone call from Therese yesterday."

Alex immediately opened her mouth, but she thought better before speaking. Drawing in a deep breath, she tried to bring a more composed look to her face.

"I expect to see you and your rather interesting choice of a pet tonight, Alexandra. Or is it Mistress Alex now?"

Alex stood and tugged at her blouse. "Actually, Liz, it's Mistress Alexandra."

Before turning to go, Liz raised an eyebrow. "We'll see."

*****

Alex shifted her weight as Olivia pushed the button for their floor and the doors closed. Both women stood silently, each clad in a long coat. Alex might have seemed perfectly composed, but Olivia noticed her hands were restlessly smoothing her coat and hair. She looked at the blonde questioningly; Alex's jaw was clenched tight as she merely shook her head. They were only passing the twenty-fifth floor—the penthouse occupied the fiftieth through the nineteenth—when Alex turned to Olivia. She gently pushed back a lock of the brunette's hair.

"I need you to be on your best behavior tonight, Olivia."

Olivia raised an eyebrow. "Alex, what's going on? You're…you seem nervous."

"Don't be impertinent." Alex glared into Olivia's eyes. "And don't do anything to embarrass me; you should at least be capable of that by now.

Before Olivia could respond, the elevator door opened. As she removed her coat, she shivered—clad only in black thongs, leather boots, and her collar. Alex took a moment to survey her pet's appearance. She brushed her thumbs over Olivia's already taut nipples; then, from her coat pocket Alex removed a delicate chain, which she clamped at either end to Olivia's nipples.

Alex handed her own coat to Olivia. She straightened the straps of her backless top that hung in folds revealing her chest to her navel and absently smoothed the front of her low wasted leather pants. The two walked through the double doors together, but Olivia wordlessly drifted to put the coats away. It might be minutes before Alex went to her room, or it might be hours—either way, Olivia would be on her knees waiting.

*****

Alex sipped her gin and tonic and pretended to listen to the small talk going on around her. She maintained a sense of aloofness out of habit, but tonight, it did little to hide her nervousness. And it did nothing to keep one of the club's owners away. She plastered a slight smile on her face as Therese made her way over.

"Alexandra," Therese greeted, pausing to kiss Alex on both cheeks, "you look stunning tonight, as you should. Word has it that Liz isn't particularly pleased with your current behavior." Therese, more than anyone, seemed to know the most of Liz's sensibilities. In the early days, it made Alex wonder, but she gave that up with the realization that Liz was not one to volunteer personal information, much less deign to answer questions.

"We both know Liz has never been entirely pleased with my behavior."

Alex surveyed the bar with a gaze that was too intense to be nonchalant. The crowd of patrons had thickened since she first arrived, making the air equally as dense with the desires each and every one of them was putting off till after the next drink. There was a limit, of course; Liz had written that into the rules to the dismay of some patrons. Though, most conceded that too much alcohol and their type of pleasure seeking did not mix well.

Therese brought Alex's gaze back with a dismissive wave of the hand. "Really, Alex, you should have learned to be more polite by now."

Alex let herself laugh quietly. "Perhaps if my relationship with Liz was about politeness, I'd be polite. However, we both know that's not what she wants."

"And what exactly do I want, Alexandra?"

Alex closed her eyes for a moment and drew in a breath when she heard Liz's voice behind her. She turned around and half smiled.

"Hello, Elizabeth. Lovely to see you again." Alex was more than relieved to hear the male voice behind her. She only blushed slightly as Jonas said, "If I recall correctly, the last time the four of us were together, Alexandra was much less elegantly clad and on her knees. My, she has come far."

"Has she?" Liz raised her eyebrow.

Therese flashed a smile. "I do hate to leave this little party, but I have promised to arranged a very particular scene tonight."

"Pity you're always so busy," Jonas said, pouting his too pretty lips before Therese took her leave. He turned back to Liz and Alex and smiled fondly. "And it's an even greater pity that I must take my leave. As much as I do enjoy teasing Alexandra," he said, brushing the folds of Alex's shirt aside and lightly stroking her nipple with the back of his hand, "I have my own pet that is waiting to be whipped."

Alex was infuriated; it had been quite some time since anyone involved in the establishment had taken such liberties with her body. Jonas, of all members, seemed to respect her status most. But any appearance of Liz was so dazzling that everyone forgot Alex's rank. She was once more relegated to a lovely piece of flesh. Her servitude had started innocently, but she quickly became aware of its uses—gaining power was as much, if not more of, a goal as receiving pleasure. Liz remained the only one who could subvert that, and it did more than unnerve Alex; it shattered everything she had created.

"Really, Jonas," Liz said, "you're much too fond of that boy."

"Am I?" His eyes were whimsical as he kissed her hand. "Well, I do hope you'll forgive me for running off like this, Elizabeth. Do enjoy your evening."

"I fully intend to." Liz smiled, keeping her lips closed and only slightly curled. She watched him walk away before saying, "Jonas still seems rather fond of you."

"We've become friends," Alex replied before taking a long sip of her drink.

Liz turned to look Alex in the eyes. "Oh, he'd like to make a more…permanent arrangement of it."

"If I wanted something like that with Jonas, don't you think I'd have it?"

"I'm sure you'd have no problem getting what you want from Jonas. He isn't exactly a challenge, now is he?" She held up her finger before Alex had gotten a word out. "Now, Alexandra, I think it's time Olivia and I were formally introduced."

With that, Liz walked towards the door, knowing Alex would follow. It was a moment Alex had lived hundreds of times; with a strange mix of fondness and bitterness, she weaved her way through the crowd after Liz. She knew mentally preparing herself for whatever Liz had prepared would have been the best thing to do during the short walk, but Alex found the only thing she could focus on was the way the crimson carpet used to feel under her bare feet.

*****

When Alex and Liz walked into Alex's room, Olivia, now barefoot, was kneeling at the foot of the bed. Alex bit her lip as she heard Olivia sharply draw in a breath. She was almost sure the brunette would do something improper; nevertheless, her nervousness was not abated when Olivia behaved very well.

Liz began circling Olivia almost as soon as Alex had closed the door. She noted how the light from the small fire rippled over Olivia's skin, shadowing it bronze and even gold. It was effect even the warmest of light could not produce on Alex's creamy skin, but Liz appreciate the pretty aesthetic package. She came to rest behind the brunette, noting the taut curves of her muscles. There was power ingrained in her body, much more than Alex's long, lean form. Liz wondered if Olivia would ever cultivate that. She could easy overturn Alex if she did; however, Liz suspected it would never happen.

"I think she may be better at this than you were." Liz crossed her arms as she watched the firelight play with a mix emotions in Alex's eyes.

Alex forced a shrug. "I was never particularly suited to it."

Liz looked whimsical as she raised her eyebrow and murmured, "You underestimate yourself." It was just loud enough for Olivia to hear, but Liz knew Alex would find it unintelligible. That would, without a doubt, frustrate the younger blonde, who was already shifting uncomfortably.

"Olivia, undress Alexandra." Liz remembered the elegance with which Alex tried to hide her nervousness on her first time in the establishment. Most members had been impressed with her natural aptitude. It was by the light of a similar fire that Therese and Liz had caressed Alex's bruised skin after her first whipping.

It was slight, but Liz picked up on Olivia's momentary hesitation; she was, however, impressed that the brunette kept her eyes lowered, resisting what Liz knew must be an urge to look at her mistress. Olivia's movements, stiff at first—Liz could only guess how long she had been waiting on her knees—contrasted greatly with the delicate way Alex slipped out of her shoes.

She watched as Olivia gingerly pulled the ties holding Alex's shirt on. As it fluttered to the floor in a languid flurry of shimmer, Liz felt the air thicken about her. It was a moment she had chosen to never relive, but its concreteness, as if where only just happening, astounded her. Liz raised her hands to hide her own nakedness, only to grasp the charm of her necklace coolly. That was over; she reminded herself of that as she realized she must breathe again. The ivory chest before her became Alex's again, but the memory lingered threateningly near.

In that moment, Liz had almost failed to notice that Olivia had completed her task and returned to kneeling at her feet. For a moment, Liz had the notion of running her fingers through Olivia's hair, but she instantly changed her mind. Olivia had performed the task sufficiently; that in and of itself was no cause for giving a reward. It would not do the brunette any good to be given treats for nothing; it would make her soft…it would make her vulnerable.

She had done better than that with Alex, who was now meeting her with an unyielding gaze. How much of that, Liz wondered, had she unknowingly taught Alex—the demanding gaze, the unabashed unwillingness to submit immediately? Or, perhaps, it had been ingrained in Alex from the beginning, as it had not been in her. Liz perished the thought as she rounded Alex in order to get to the trunk on the other side of the room.

Liz opened the trunk and immediately lifted a neatly coiled whip; she had to rummage to the very bottom to find the collar she was looking for. When she put it on Alex, the thin, worn band of leather stood out against her milky skin. Liz's initials were stamped in silver leaf and ornate script near the silver buckle. She had had it made for Alex in a moment of she considered weakness. But it always looked so painfully delicate on her pet, and Liz would not even admit the measure of pride she took in seeing it there.

"I had a feeling you'd always keep it." The statement was hard, flat; not even Alex could detect the amount of feeling Liz struggled to keep behind it. She put her hands on her hips. "Kneel."

Alex's glare was as defiant as it was questioning; however, Liz won out in intensity when the blonde lowered her gaze and knelt gracefully.

"If you keep that up, Alexandra, this is going to be a very long night." She looked at Olivia and made a motion for her to stand. Liz circled her again, running her hands along Olivia's shoulder blades and the small of her back. Finally, Liz stopped in front of the brunette; she brushed her fingertips against Olivia's nipples and briefly held each breast. They were the skillfully practiced moves of someone who had not only handled and judged the quality of many pets but also someone who had been handled in much the same manner. "Did Alexandra neglect to tell you that she made her debut here as my pet?"

Olivia was quiet as Liz walked around her and brought her lips close to the brunette's ear.

"That was not a rhetorical question," she said as she put her arms through Olivia's and began to finger her nipples. It was a position Liz was incredibly fond of. She could feel Olivia's sleek back, buttocks, and thighs through her own clothing. Olivia's skin was delightfully warm, but Liz was simply enjoying herself. She had not even begun to reach a state of arousal.

"I'm sorry," Olivia said, slightly gasping. "She…she didn't tell me."

Liz turned, her cheek touching Olivia's hair, to Alex. "Now, why is that?" She could see a blush spread over Alex's chest. Alex was still reeling between her desire to impress her former mistress and her instinct of defiance. Liz knew she could keep her like that throughout most of the night, as long as she provoked the blonde just enough.

"I…" Alex began before swallowing, "I didn't…"

"Speak up, Alexandra."

She looked up, her eyes dark. "I didn't feel it was necessary."

"I'm sure," Liz whispered huskily into Olivia's ear, "You also have no idea how much Alex enjoys a good whipping. Oh, it's been said that she gives a good one, but undoubtedly, you've never seen her on the receiving end." She squeezed Olivia's nipples before pulling her arms back and crossing them. "Get me the whip."

Olivia went to the chest and returned with the coiled whip. She presented it to Liz without taking her eyes off of it. Liz continued to stare at Alex.

"You remember how this works, Alexandra."

Liz motioned her up and to one of the bedposts. Alex glared at her and Olivia as she stood. She held her chin up as she walked to the bedpost, spread her legs to the width of her shoulders, and gripped the carved wood. It was a posture that Alex struck with such humiliating beauty, while somehow maintaining a regal air. Liz would not have taught it to her any other way; she would not stand for Alex to be as ungainly and sniveling during a public whipping as the pets of others could be. In fact, some said that Liz had an aversion to watching public punishments—though she had inflicted more than her share. However, if Liz were not involved in the display, she would simply walk away wordlessly, Alex at her heels. There were times when Alex would sit at her feet for hours, wondering without daring to ask what Liz's reverie was about.

Out of the corner of her eye, Liz noticed that Olivia had moved back. With the whip hand, she motioned her forward.

"Stand where you can see, but stay out of my way," she snapped before stepping up to Alex and running the coiled whip down her back. "When was the last time you were well whipped, Alexandra?"

"New Year's Eve, 2001," Alex responded with no hesitation.

Liz raised her eyebrows. "I could have sworn it was Master Jonas…on…"

"You asked for the last time I had been well whipped; there is a reason Jonas finds a way for me to do his whippings for him."

"I suppose there is, but I should not have to remind you that it's Master Jonas," Liz said as she pressed herself into Alex's back. She rubbed, with the whip still in hand, Alex's hips. The skin of her back was smooth, without a single mark from the many lashing she had endured, each from Liz. There was no one else whom Liz would allow to take the whip to her pet. It was said to be rude, but no matter how many beautiful welts Liz marked her with, Alex remained completely unmarred. With some difficulty, Liz allowed herself to remember a time when the same could have been said about her. "At least for tonight."

Liz unfurled the whip with even more fluidity than she had taught Alex. Her strokes, five or so in all, were bold and decisive. But they were barely a measure of the power she displayed in rendering the supple leather. When the precise red marks became visible on Alex's back, Liz turned to Olivia.

"Enjoying yourself?" Liz did not give Olivia a chance to respond—she had other things in mind. "Come here." She took Olivia's hand and thrust it between Alex's legs. To her delight, though not her surprise, Alex gasped and involuntarily tensed her thighs. She had often had other patrons feel how wet Alex had become during the early moments of a whipping, but she had never let a pet do it. Either way, Liz only allowed the lightest of touch, no probing or stroking. She knew all too well what that could devolve into, and she simply was not having it when it came to Alex. Liz had no doubt that Alex was wet, but Olivia's smirk amused her.

"Immensely."

"Just because you're Alex's pet doesn't mean I won't whip you twice as hard. Remember that Olivia."

Liz let go of the brunette's wrist—a gesture that was more than enough to let Olivia know she was to move back. When Liz began to lay harder blows, Alex's skin glistened in a frost of sweat, and she started to whimper. Even as she saw silent tears running down Alex's cheeks, Liz felt Alex arching into the blows, bringing herself to meet the whip. It had not always been that way, but Liz had seen Alex grow more aroused with each whipping. It was a state she sometimes envied. The sounds of the leather sailing through the air and contacting with Alex's skin combined with Alex trying to stifle her own moans, made Liz wet; she was sure Olivia was probably on the verge of dripping.

Suddenly, Liz stopped and coiled the whip. She kept her eyes on Alex as she held it out to Olivia.

"Get me a set of cuffs and a chain."

Olivia returned with a set of thin leather cuffs that matched Alex's collar—Liz had no doubt the brunette would realize those were the ones she wanted—and a silver plated chain. Alex had already placed her arms behind her back when Liz took the cuffs.

"Very good, Alexandra. I suppose you haven't forgotten everything."

Liz ran her fingers down the welts on Alex's back; it was not a violent motion…it was fond, if anything, but she still felt Alex shudder. She let her hands linger a moment on the perfect stripes before cuffing the blonde. Alex, who had been panting, sniffed and tossed back the locks of hair that had fallen from her loose bun. Liz watched her take a deep breath and straighten her shoulders as she relaxed into the position. Liz tugged the chain linking the cuffs and Alex stumbled back a bit before regaining her balance.

With her hands on her hips, Liz stepped in front of Alex. She ran her hands down Alex's chest—her touch was firm—down her stomach, and up her arms. It was the same practiced touch, a touch she had not used on Alex since the first night; she slid her palms down Alex's sides, leaving one hand gripping her hip. With the other, Liz fingered Alex's neatly trimmed pubic curls. She tugged at them and ran her fingers along and just inside Alex's labia. Liz recalled how, as a punishment, she had had Alex shaved. It was a delightfully provocative image, and the blonde had hated it.

Liz could feel Alex holding her breath as she kept tugging her curls and sliding her fingers just inside her lips. Alex was becoming even wetter than she had during the whipping. She let out a jagged breath when Liz moved her hands to play with her nipples, mercilessly tugging at them and rolling them between her fingers.

"I'm almost sure you miss this, Alexandra," Liz said huskily as Alex leaned into her touch.

A small moan was Alex's response; Liz smirked. She wrapped her arms around Alex, again running her fingers down the welts that lined the blonde's back. Alex whimpered at the moment when Liz allowed her silken shirt to touch them. There was little tenderness as Liz kissed up Alex's neck to her earlobe; she was not trying to make love to Alex, and she knew Alex was very aware of that. Liz's efforts were to drive Alex almost close enough to a climax. The combination of pain and softness was exactly what Alex wanted, and Liz was not about to give her enough. She felt Alex tremble in an effort not to press into her.

"Don't you wonder," Liz whispered, her lips brushing Alex's earlobe, "how you're little pet will look at you tomorrow, Alexandra…after you've been so adept at playing her role?"

Alex had gotten entirely too comfortable in the state Liz was putting her into; she knew the question would unnerve her pet enough so that she wouldn't play close attention. A pained gasp was exactly what Liz expected as she pushed three fingers inside of her—a firm, quick motion that pulled Alex to her toes. Liz knew all too well how it would make her feel like the entire center of her being was being held up by those fingers.

"You've always been perceptive—you've always known I've never wanted politeness. But you always seem to forget, Alexandra, that I demand respect."

Liz pulled her fingers out and spun Alex around to grab her wrists. She gave the blonde a shove towards the bed. Liz enjoyed the difficulty with which Alex crawled onto the foot of the bed and knelt by one of the posts as Liz linked her cuffed wrists to it by the chain. Liz took Alex's chin into her palm and lifted it so the blonde was looking at her.

"If I see your thighs touching or a wet spot on this spread, I will whip you again…publicly."

Instead of lowering her eyes when Liz let go of her chin, Alex continued to stare at Liz, narrowing her eyes to increase their intensity. Liz's lips were closed tightly as she stared back.

"Olivia," she finally said without taking her eyes off of Alex.

Liz watched Olivia step forward and put her hands on her hips. "Yes…Mistress?" She raised her eyebrows.

"Don't start that 'mistress' bullshit with me." Liz turned to Olivia, arms crossed. She had always refused the title; it was more painful than ridiculous, and Liz knew she did not need to hide behind it as an illusion of control. If she did not use it, she would not misuse it. "Unlike some, I don't need a title to assert my position of authority. On the bed, Olivia." When Olivia crossed her arms and hesitated, Liz said in a low voice that carried throughout the room, "Now."

Olivia climbed onto the bed and lay on her back, propping up on her elbows. Liz looked on with a smirk as the brunette curled her legs under her and stared forward. It was not the same defiant, knowing stare that Alex had cultivated to an art. Instead, Liz saw uncertainty—uncertainty she intended to use. She removed her own clothing before swiftly pulling Olivia's thongs off.

Liz could feel the warmth of the dying fire on her skin, playing against the faint scars that lined her back. She did not hesitate before pushing her fingers inside of Olivia and circling the brunette's clit with her thumb before pumping her fingers quickly and forcefully. But she did not draw a moan from Olivia until she bit down on one of her nipples. She felt Olivia reach to stroke her nipple, but Liz knocked her hand away. She glared down at Olivia through narrowed eyes.

As Olivia's moans grew loader, Liz could hear Alex's whimpers from the foot of the bed. Out of the corner of her eye she saw the blonde struggling unsuccessfully to remain still and calm. Olivia, now covered in sweat, was arching her back and thrusting her pelvis to the rhythm of Liz's fingers. But Liz was staring at Alex; she watched as Alex licked her swollen lips between panting. She had almost stopped paying attention to Olivia when Alex began to struggle against the cuffs and chain, as she if she were ready to beg.

When Olivia's body went rigid with her orgasm, Alex tossed back her disheveled hair and her whimper became a moan. Liz slid closer to Alex and ran her wet fingers along Alex's lips. She nodded and Alex began to lick her fingers clean; she could see Olivia watching lazily, but the brunette's eyes widened at the sight of the way Alex delicately took Liz's fingers into her mouth. Liz remembered a time when Alex would not so readily beg; she would fight only to tire herself, which made her punishments harder to bear. But she had eventually learned to beg Liz even if it was only from a look in her eyes. When she finished, Liz pushed a stray strand of hair behind Alex's ear before unchaining her.

Liz motioned toward Olivia, and Alex, hands still bound behind her back, managed to gracefully get herself to a kneeling position between Olivia's legs. She lowered her face and began to stroke Olivia softly with her tongue. Liz nonchalantly hooked two fingers around the back of Alex's collar as she watched. It was a vantage point she had watched from many times, but this was different. No matter how much Alex wanted to please her mistress, Liz knew she resented being put in this position with her own pet. It was probably a luxury she had never afforded Olivia; it was certainly one Liz had never allowed her.

"Are you enjoying yourself, Olivia?" Liz asked only to get an incoherent response mixed with a moan. It was not long before Olivia was moaning and squirming with another orgasm. Liz narrowed her eyes as she jerked Alex's head up. "You are more than finished." She slid off of the bed, pulling Alex with her. Liz forced the blonde to kneel, and she grabbed Alex's robe from the chest. She felt she had dealt with Alex's insolence enough for one night. "Really, Alexandra, you should know better."

Liz heard Olivia mumble confusedly before curling into a ball. Her guess was that the brunette would be asleep before she and Alex left the room.

*****

By the time they entered the Great Room Liz was pulling and pushing Alex along by her collar. She paraded her through the center of the room to the bottom of the grand staircase that led to the upper floors. She barely noticed the tinny sounds of a harpsichord playing continuo against two violins and a viola. Alex, however, did; without thinking, she paused, struggling to turn her head in order to catch more of the concerto that she wanted to label as a presto movement of something Sammartini had written.

Liz only noticed that the crowd's attention had turned from the small ensemble towards her pet. She jerked Alex out of the moment, and did not hesitate before dragging her the entire way up to her third floor suite.

Alex had been displayed and publicly punished before, but Liz had never made such a scene of bringing her up the staircase. The curved and curling Y shape in which it was rendered allowed everyone below, not to mention anyone standing on an upper floor landing, to watch the spectacle. She knew even the sharpest eye could see the way Liz shoved her into her suite.

*****

The sound of Liz slamming the heavy door made Alex wince involuntarily. She had fallen to her knees as a result of the force Liz used, and collapsed onto her side to catch her breath. In the prolonged moment, she realized the soft Persian rug was most painfully pricking the results of her whipping.

"Get up."

Alex stood with no attempt at looking graceful. "Really, Liz…"

Liz stepped so close to Alex that their faces almost touched. "What the hell was that? I know damn well you haven't forgotten everything I taught you…how this works."

"It was only Olivia."

"I don't care if it was you and me or half of Manhattan, Alexandra; I expect more from you than to blatantly misbehave!" Liz yelled in response.

"And I expect you to be able to control a scene," Alex said calmly.

For a moment, it seemed to Alex that Liz was about to completely loose her temper. She could hear her mistress's sharp inhale, but instead of a torrent of words, she heard only Liz exhaled smoothly.

"Have you forgotten how I punish insubordination?"

Alex stood so still she felt that her heartbeat was audible. Her lips were slightly parted as she stared at Liz, but Alex could not find her breath. She knew all too well what was coming next.

"Choose."

Alex swallowed hard and pursed her lips. No words would come out, and her throat felt painfully dry; so, she swallowed again before taking in a shallow breath.

"Over the edge of the bed," she answered quietly," with the strap on."

Liz nodded in what Alex knew was approval before she motioned her to the bedroom.

"Go." Liz's voice was equally as quiet; almost, Alex felt, haunting in its tone. There was understanding in the older woman's eyes. It was a punishment Alex hated above all others, but, given the choice, she always took it. Liz had taught her that, the way to gain strength from fear and pain.

Alex disappeared into the bedroom, knowing Liz would be soon to follow. She took a moment to smooth the comforter on the bed— a simply framed piece, not a Victorianesque four poster like she and most other members had. It was an ingrained reaction, and Alex did it even with knowing that Liz would do it again as soon as she entered the room. It had always been that way; Liz kept her apartments impeccably neat, but Alex knew they were more lived in than Liz's own place.

Alex made her way into the closet, noting that Liz was waiting when she reemerged; she knelt before Liz with the strap on and a bottle of lube. It was elegant and practiced. Even so, Alex found it hard to control her nervousness as she held the harness for Liz to step into. She flinched when she went to buckle the harness and her nose and strands of her hair brushed against Liz's thigh. When she finished, Alex looked up at Liz to see if she approved.

Liz nodded, and Alex knew she was to begin thickly lubricating the dildo. When she finished, she stepped to the side of the bed and bent over it, holding herself up on her forearms. Alex tried to look as composed as possible even in the position of such exposure. Even with the impending punishment, Alex could not control her growing wetness as a response to Liz running her hands down her sore back and parting her ass. The penetration came as no surprise, but Alex quickly realized that Liz was only going far enough to keep the dildo from slipping out of place. She felt her mistress's strong arms wrapping around her stomach; this, of course, prevented her from moving while giving Liz stability.

Alex gasped, suddenly feeling the dildo filling her and Liz's stomach and thighs flushed with her own body. Alex sucked in a breath, but before she could exhale, Liz began to move and she could not keep the delayed exclamation from becoming a moan.

"Was it worth it, Alexandra?" Liz whispered. "Do you think Olivia got whatever it was you were trying to prove? But it isn't really about Olivia, is it?"

Alex tried to answer, but she found that she was only able to whimper softly. Tears began to stream down her cheeks as Liz continued to hold her firmly. No, it was not worth it; she knew that even before she did it. In trying to prove herself to Liz, she only showed how little she had mastered her own defiance and temper. Her disappointment with herself was only minimal to what she felt Liz's must have been. Fresh tears began to form in her eyes with each of Liz's slow, deliberate thrusts. Alex closed her eyes and licked her lips, tasting her own tears and sweat. She knew the punishment was coming—perhaps she had really been asking for it the entire time. Liz did not even have to indicate that this would be the harshest one. Alex felt it, and she wondered if Liz had ever had to endure it in such a way.

"You can stop now, Alex."

Alex felt the raw strength as Liz pushed the dildo in with as much force as she could. Of course, she had not been prepared for the intense pain, the utter violation of the movement. But her breath was truly taken away by Liz's words.

"I'm proud of you."

Alex arms buckled and gave way, and she let herself sob. She felt Liz's breath on her neck and her lips softly kissing underneath her ear. Before she realized, Liz had pushed off or her and pulled slowly out. At the sound of Liz unbuckling the harness, Alex, not even taking the time to wipe her eyes, was on her knees taking it off. While she was taking it away to clean it, she only just caught Liz's raised eyebrow.

When Alex returned, Liz had already climbed into bed. Her eyes still red from the tears, Alex knelt on the floor and waited, knowing that Liz was waiting as well.

"You can go back to Olivia now," Liz said after a moment.

Alex was still a moment before she stood and removed her cuffs. She rubbed her slightly reddened wrists gently before touching her collar with both hands, caressing the leather with her fingertips as if it were the first time she'd felt of it. When she had unbuckled the clasp, Alex hesitated before pulling off and sitting it and the cuffs almost reverently on the nightstand. Instead of leaving, she crawled onto the bed and gently pushed Liz down to the pillows.

She ran her fingers through Liz's hair before kissing her softly. For the first time Liz let Alex kiss her instead of taking over. Alex was surprised by Liz's low moans; however, that did not stop her from trailing soft, wet kisses down Liz's neck. She continued, making her way down Liz's body, wondering how far she would be allowed to go. When she flicked her tongue over one of Liz's nipples, Alex felt Liz's hands in her hair, but there was none of the usual force that Liz would have used to push Alex further into her chest.

Alex worked Liz's nipple, but she was unsatisfied with the lazy way Liz was running her fingers through her hair. She kissed across Liz's chest and, without warning, bit the other nipple. Liz's hand tightened on her head, and with a moan, she arched into Alex. She smiled a bit, still holding Liz's nipple in her mouth.

"Watch it, Alex."

Alex's smile widened. Liz's voice was stern, but she felt the older woman swat her hip playfully. "Yes, Mistress."

Then she felt herself being dragged into a kiss by the nape of her neck. Scarcely had Alex adjusted when Liz pushed her back down. Alex ignored the instruction and started to kiss Liz's stomach softly. She trailed the kisses down to Liz's thighs, deliberately ignoring the way Liz parted her legs and positioned her body for Alex to taste her. Liz moaned, almost softly growled when Alex began to kiss her labia, deliberately prodding with her nose.

She ran her hands down Liz's legs, caressing the muscular curves. Alex slowed her hands as she caressed up Liz's thigh, taking the utmost time before running her fingertips softly along Liz's labia, feeling the prickly hair that had only just started to grow after being shaved that morning. She teased, opening the slit a little and running her fingernail along the wet skin just inside. Liz began to squirm but only slightly; with a smirk, Alex sought to intensify that by nipping at Liz's inner thighs.

"Alexandra," Liz growled.

Alex knew Liz had reached her limit of tolerance; she settled on her stomach and opened Liz's lips with her fingers. For a moment, she simply enjoyed the utter freedom to breathe Liz's scent. When she began to lick softly, she savored the way Liz tasted before circling her tongue around Liz's clit. She flicked and rounded as softly as possible before Liz placed her hand on Alex's head and wound some of her hair through her fingers. Liz did not push, and it was not a threat; Alex knew it was simply a reminder.

She began to apply herself to working Liz the way Liz wanted it, but Alex could not resist pushing even more. Liz was close, and Alex held her there by backing off just when she was about to climax.

"Alex," Liz began—Alex could hear the breathlessness, "you really should know better."

Alex chanced rolling her eyes before focusing back on Liz. She held onto Liz's thighs and stroked her clit more firmly with her tongue. Liz began to tremble slightly; Alex could just barely see her grabbing at the comforter. She applied more pressure with her tongue before nipping at Liz's clit, making Liz raise her hips and tremble with the waves of her mounting orgasm. Alex watched the older woman's chest heave, her body stiffening and going slack in a silent but strong moment of climax.

When Liz was still, Alex smiled; she crawled up Liz's body and began to kiss her softly. The feeling of Liz's fingers entwining in her hair was strangely affection, and Alex found it to be slightly alien. She let kiss disintegrate slowly, but instead of pulling directly away from Liz as she was accustomed to, she gently laid her head on Liz's shoulder.

When she felt Liz begin to take down the remnants of her bun with one hand, Alex knew she would be able to lie there a bit longer. She leaned into Liz's touch, murmuring softly when Liz began to comb her tangles with her fingers. Alex was content to simply stay that way, but she shifted when Liz propped herself on one elbow. This gave her leave to slip her arms around the older woman's body. She ran her hands up and down Liz's back before gingerly tracing the uneven scars with her fingertips. They were so faint that her fingers lost them at points; still, Alex knew from memory where the haphazard marks slightly discolored the skin. She had long memorized them; even though she had never been allowed to touch them, Alex knew each one intimately.

She was not unnerved when Liz gently pulled on of her arms away; it was not a gesture of control—Alex could feel something deeper. She parted her lips, but before she could even draw in the breath to speak, Liz placed Alex hand on her chest. As Alex felt her hand warming between Liz's beating heart and her palm, she knew better than to defile the hush. When she looked into Liz's eyes, clear tears gathered there—gathered and refused to fall.

"It's time for bed," Liz whispered before Alex felt her hands almost reluctantly disengaging from her hair.

Alex slipped out of bed and went about turning off the lights. She instinctively found her way back in the darkness, and, almost as if the moment had not happened, she curled up at Liz's feet.