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Chapter Four

They filmed the rest of the day’s scenes, and then they had to do a publicity interview for the entertainment show, TeeVee. Matt quickly changed from his Ben Harris clothes into his Matthew Lake clothes – there wasn’t much difference in their styles, but Matt tended to be more casual than Ben, who often wore suit pants and a sports jacket to work. Matt preferred tee shirts and jeans.

On his way back to the set, he was joined by Karl Morgan, who was playing the new bad guy on the show this season. He was a tall, lean man, with olive skin, blond-brown hair, and dark eyes. He was very good looking in an elegant, classy kind of way, which suited his character – the smooth-talking, sinister Jason Jarvis – down to the ground. He was also British, with a cut glass accent that half the subs in the crew kept swooning over.

“Hey, Matty. How are you?” Karl asked, falling into step beside him.

“I’m fine… um… but…” Matt hesitated and then plowed on. “I don’t want to be rude, Karl, but I prefer Matt, or Matthew. Not Matty.”

“Oh. Okay. Sorry – I thought everyone called you Matty.”

“No, only Rick, and I think he only does it to annoy me.”

“Oh, I see.” Karl grinned, and Matt tensed, wondering if he should have admitted that. Sometimes, when he told people not to do something, they did it all the more. At least, that had been his experience in high school. Karl didn’t seem like any of the mean doms he’d known in high school, though, because he just gave an easygoing smile. “I’ve noticed Rick likes to tease. He’s quite the center of attention around here, isn’t he? He’s such a larger than life kind of guy.”

“Yeah, that’s Rick. You get used to it. Or you ignore him. Or throw things at him. Or all of the above.” Matt grinned sideways at Karl. “That’s what I do.”

“Uh, Matt – can I ask you some questions about Daniel?” Karl asked tentatively. “I’ve got a few big scenes with him this episode, and I’m kind of scared of him, to be honest. I’ve seen all the movies in the Insubordination franchise, and I’m a huge fan of his. I don’t want to screw up around him.”

Matt found himself relaxing. He didn’t know Karl that well yet, but he got the feeling that he was a nice guy.

“Oh, don’t worry about Daniel. He’s nothing like Tom Duke from Insubordination – or Chief Christie, come to that.”

“That’s a relief. I used to fantasize about Tom Duke when I was a spotty adolescent – he’s the kind of tough sub that most doms would like to tame in their fantasies, but I think I’d be threatened by all those surly one-liners if I met a sub like that in real life.”

Matt laughed. “I love the Insubordination movies. They’re such action classics. I wanted to be Tom Duke when I was a kid, but I think even then I knew I was never gonna be a tough sub. Daniel is nothing like Tom Duke, though, so don’t worry. He’s really shy, and sometimes people mistake that for aloofness, but it’s not – he’s just very reserved. You’ll find him reading between takes – or at the gym.”

“Yeah, those biceps look even more impressive in real life than onscreen.” Karl grimaced. “He’s a scary-looking guy.”

“He might look intimidating, but he’s not really. You’ll do fine.”

“Great. He’s such a legend that I really don’t want to fuck up in our first big scene together tomorrow.”

“If you do, he’ll help you fix it, so don’t worry.”

Karl nodded thoughtfully. “I heard he lost his wife a couple of years ago? Wasn’t he married to Suzanna Dawson?”

“Yeah, he was. She was his manager as well as his wife, and a huge Hollywood player. It almost destroyed him when she died. I’m not sure he’ll ever get over that.”

Matt wondered if Karl was interested in Daniel in more than a purely professional sense, and he hoped not, for Karl’s sake. Daniel hadn’t so much as looked at another dom since his wife’s death. He even still wore her collar off set, signaling very clearly that he still felt he belonged to her and no other dom was going to get close. Karl was also about ten years younger than Daniel – was it possible that he had a crush on the older sub?

They reached the set and found Sharlene Milton, the petite, pretty presenter from TeeVee, standing there, microphone and camera guy at the ready.

Rick loped up a few seconds later – for once he didn’t keep them waiting, so Matt wondered if the punishment he’d taken earlier had actually done its job. Like Matt, Rick had changed out of his character’s costume and was in his own clothes; black leather pants, a tailored white shirt that clung to his body and a dramatic, floor-length black leather coat that showed off his broad shoulders to perfection. His jaw-length black hair was artfully tousled, there was a pair of trendy new sunglasses perched on his head, and he was wearing his favorite item of jewelry – a thumb ring shaped like a panther’s head, made of white gold with rubies for eyes.

Matt felt positively underdressed standing beside him in a pair of faded jeans and a blue and white plaid shirt, with a scarf slung loosely around his neck.

Petra got them all organized around Sharlene – with Rick and Daniel, as the two big stars of the show, on either side of her. Matt was placed beside Rick, and Karl beside Daniel. Cara and Casey came rushing up excitedly, a blur of squealing energy as usual. Petra fixed them with a stern look that calmed them instantly, and they took their place beside Matt, holding hands. They were identical twins with long blonde hair, big baby-blue eyes and perfect golden skin. They weren’t the brightest bulbs in the box, but their sweet natures made them favorites with everyone on set. They played undercover agents on the show, always swapping into different colored wigs and outfits and confusing the bad guys by seemingly being in two places at the same time.

Estelle strolled along after them. She was the grand dame of the show, a character actress in her sixties. She always walked with a slow, graceful elegance, which was completely at odds with the salty language that tumbled out whenever she opened her mouth. Estelle played Chief Christie’s boss with a quirkiness that gave the show a lot of its humor – along with Rick’s antics as Agent Tanner. Estelle had a cloud of white hair, a throaty laugh, and was rarely seen without a long, slim cigar on the end of a cigar holder.

Sharlene threw back her mane of tumbling brown hair, flashed a massive smile at the camera, and then began.

“Hi – I’m Sharlene Milton reporting for TeeVee, and you join me on the set of HBC’s surprise hit Collar Crime, now in its second season on the back of unprecedented ratings last year. The producers have promised us bigger and even more dramatic storylines this season than its barnstorming first year.”

Sharlene turned her fixed, megawatt smile on Rick. “Richard O’Shea – you play the naughtiest sub on TV at the moment,” she simpered. “But in real life you’re not a sub at all. How does it feel playing one? And how do you manage to do it so convincingly?” She fingered the plain silver collar around her throat and gazed up at him through her eyelashes. “Maybe the sub in your life gives you coaching?” she suggested throatily.

“Well, there isn’t a sub in my life right now,” Rick replied, giving her a wide smile that showed off his dazzling white teeth. “And my friends call me Rick, Sharlene.” He winked at her, and she positively melted in front of him.

Matt sighed. Rick’s inevitable and unsubtle flirting with every new sub in sight, collared or not, always grated on his nerves.

“Well, Rick, I’m sure that special sub is waiting out there for you somewhere,” Sharlene said.

“If you weren’t collared, I’d say I was looking at her right now,” Rick replied. It was all Matt could do not to roll his eyes. “As for playing the naughtiest sub on TV – this job is the most fun I’ve ever had at work.”

“Every time we watch the show my dom says to me, ‘if that boy was mine he wouldn’t sit comfortably again for the rest of his life’.” Sharlene laughed.

“Yeah, Alex Tanner does get into a lot of trouble,” Rick agreed.

“It’s strange seeing you without that big ol’ black collar you usually wear on the show.”

Rick ran his hand over his bare neck. “Well, I’m off-duty and out of costume right now,” he said, gesturing to his clothes. “I don’t think the chief over there would let Alex wear these kinds of clothes on one of his ops, do you?” Rick said, glancing at Daniel.

It was a clear attempt to direct Sharlene’s attention away from himself and onto the star of the show, where it belonged. Matt had often noticed that while Rick loved the limelight, he never tried to take it away from any of his co-stars, and often actively worked to ensure that the shyer cast members got their fair share.

The ploy worked, and Sharlene thrust her microphone under Daniel’s nose. “Daniel Mayfield, you play the chief of this motley band of Collar Crime agents – a man with a dark past and a tough way with the subs on his team.”

“I think the chief just wants to keep them all alive,” Daniel replied, with a courteous smile at Sharlene. “And he has to keep them on a short leash to ensure their safety.”

“And you, Matthew Lake.” Sharlene turned to him, looking a lot less interested than she had been when talking to Rick. “Last season your character, Ben Harris, was the newbie on the team, but I hear this season that you might finally win the chief’s trust – and even be given that much-coveted apprenticeship collar.”

“Well, it’s possible – but I think Ben has a lot of growing up to do first – and some mistakes to make as well,” Matt replied, smiling at her through gritted teeth. “He wants to wear the chief’s apprenticeship collar and really feel part of the team, but the chief will make him earn it.”

Sharlene couldn’t have been less interested. She turned back to Daniel. “It’s unusual, isn’t it, Daniel, for a boss to collar his workplace subordinates? I mean, usually a dom only collars a sub when they’re sexually or romantically involved. But the chief hasn’t taken any of his subordinates to his bed – the collars he gives them are for work only.”

“It is unusual.” Daniel nodded. “But not completely unheard of. The show runner, Petra Davies, based the character of Chief Christie on a real life guy she met a few years ago when researching a show about the Marines. That guy was as much of a hardass as Chief Christie, and I think he’s the inspiration behind the character.”

“Well, I did not know that!” Sharlene exclaimed.

Daniel nodded. “Apparently, it’s not unusual in small law-enforcement teams, or combat teams, for a boss to give their subordinates apprenticeship collars. It can create a sense of bonding and trust in a team like this.”

“So that’s why the chief collared Alex Tanner and the twins?” She glanced at Cara and Casey, who waved back at her.

“Yes, it is. We covered it in an episode at the beginning of last season, and I think it fits in well with the theme of the show,” Daniel replied. “These guys are a crack unit of federal agents whose specialty is investigating crimes involving collars in situations like fraud, espionage and coercion. I like that the show’s writers have done something unusual with the characters’ own collars – it’s a fresh look at an old cliché, if you like.”

Sharlene nodded enthusiastically. “Well, it certainly seems to work if the ratings are anything to go by. Viewers are definitely intrigued. But it also seems like the chief wants to have his cake and not eat it by collaring the subs on his team and yet not sleeping with them. What’s that about, Daniel?”

Daniel gave a secretive little smile. “Oh, you’ll find out in the episode airing tonight, so make sure you watch. We’re going to find out why Chief Christie is keeping them all at arm’s length.”

“Rick…” Sharlene’s voice became a purr again as she turned back to him. “The cast of Collar Crime is well known for being composed almost entirely of subs!” She sounded as if this was the most amazing thing in the world. “What’s it like being the only dom in the cast?”

Rick grinned down at her. “Oh, it’s great, Sharlene. I love it. Who wouldn’t – being on set with all these beautiful subs?” He glanced around at his co-stars with a beatific smile, and Matt fought back an urge to stamp on his expensive black cowboy boots.

“Uh… Rick’s not the only dom in the cast,” Karl said.

Sharlene whirled around.  “Ah yes – Karl Morgan – you’re new to the cast this season. I hear you’re the new villain who knows something about the chief’s dark and mysterious past. Can you give us any clues about that?”

“Sorry.” Karl winked. “You’ll have to watch and find out. But it’s safe to say that the chief is hiding a dark secret – and Karl knows all about it.”

“And you’re a dom playing a dom – I believe your character, Jason Jarvis, is a dominant, isn’t he?”

“Yes, he is. You should ask Matt here about that – Jason has some big scenes coming up with Ben soon. I can’t tell you more except that I’m looking forward to filming them.” Karl shot Matt a mischievous grin, and Matt’s stomach did an anxious flip.

“Well, I look forward to finding out about that dark old secret,” Sharlene said, her brown eyes gleaming. She exchanged a few brief, uninterested words with the twins, looked horrified when Estelle blew a cloud of cigar smoke into her hair, and then turned back to the camera with that megawatt smile fixed firmly in place. “And that’s all we have time for – but be sure to watch the exciting new episode of Collar Crime tonight to find out what Chief Christie has been hiding!”

Matt let out a sigh of relief as the interview ended, and turned to go. He knew publicity was necessary, and he was grateful to have a job on a hit show, but he hated doing these stupid interviews. He watched as Rick leaned casually against the wall and said, “So, Sharlene, that’s a pretty collar around an equally pretty neck, but I don’t see your dom anywhere around, and my trailer is just over there, so…”

Matt rolled his eyes. Trust Rick to dive straight in there. Sharlene looked very interested, but at that moment a tall, dark, exotic-looking woman approached and snapped a lead on Sharlene’s collar with a little snarl in Rick’s direction. Rick grinned and spread his hands in a good-humored gesture of defeat.

“Hey – it was worth a try,” he said to the woman. She glared at him and led Sharlene away, one hand cupped possessively around her sub’s shapely bottom.

Matt was glad to get out of there and drive home. He did his yoga practice when he arrived home, to unwind and get himself in the right frame of mind for his date with Emily. Yoga both calmed him down and kept him supple and strong, and he enjoyed the discipline of it. After that, he took a nice warm bath and rubbed lotion into his body. Emily expected him to present himself without a hair out of place, so he took the time to groom himself thoroughly. He ensured he didn’t have one single strand of pubic hair – Emily liked him to be smooth, and he took great care in his personal appearance.

Emily was a service-oriented dom and that suited Matt fine. It didn’t really chime with his own personal fantasies, but they were full of scenarios that scared him: it was far safer to have them as fantasies than to act on them.

He was ready and waiting on his porch at 7:55pm in case Emily was early. He was wearing a vivid blue shirt that he hoped brought out the color of his eyes, and a pair of navy blue chinos. He had spent some time styling his hair, which seemed to have a mind of its own and often wanted to spring up messily rather than sit flat on his head. Emily insisted that it be neat, so he took a long time smoothing it into submission.

She drove up in her expensive car at 8pm on the dot, and he ran out to get in beside her. Emily was a partner in a big accounting firm and made more money than he did, as she liked to remind him frequently. He liked that she was hard working and focused – those were qualities he appreciated in a dom.

They went to a nearby restaurant – not a very pricey one, as Emily was a great believer in saving money and not spending it on frivolities.

“So, tell me what you’ve been doing since I last saw you,” she said, beckoning over the waitress. “How long has it been?”

“Eight days, Ma’am,” Matt said promptly. Emily liked to maintain a formality to their interactions, to ensure that Matt was always aware that she was his dom and he her sub. Sometimes she gave him permission to address her by name, but he had to earn that with good behavior first.

Emily glanced at her diary. If Matt had got the number of days wrong then he’d be punished, but Matt was confident he hadn’t – remembering numbers was his forté.

“Very good. Continue.” The waitress handed Emily a menu and then tried to hand one to Matt. He wasn’t collared, so this was normal etiquette, but Emily gave a hiss of disapproval and batted the menu away. “My sub will have what I order for him,” she said imperiously. She nodded at Matt to continue and then opened the menu and began studying it, ignoring Matt completely.

“Uh, well, I guess the big news is that Rick was late again today, so Petra ordered him to the discipline room to take licks.”

“Very interesting gossip, I’m sure, but that’s today. You seem to have omitted the events of the previous seven days, and you know I like to hear your report in chronological order,” Emily informed him, looking up sharply.

Matt took a deep breath, looked at Emily, and tried to focus.

Emily was an attractive dom, and Matt knew he was lucky to have her. She would have been completely out of his league before he got the job on Collar Crime. She was tall and slender with alabaster skin and long brown hair. Her eyes were dark brown, and she always dressed immaculately, in tailored suits that suited her slim figure. She had a flat, angular kind of body, one that held few surprises but was perfectly proportioned and symmetrical in every way. Matt liked the neatness of Emily and how completely smooth and unruffled she always was. There was something blank and restful about her. She wasn’t complicated. She was ordered and organized, and he knew where he was with her because of that.

“So, Tuesday… I had to work late because Rick was having trouble with a scene – and boy did we all have to hear about it, over and over again. I think he was having one of his ‘look at me’ moments. And then…”

“Excuse me – waitress – what are the ingredients in this dish?” Emily asked, beckoning the waitress over again. The young woman knelt beside the table, smiling up at Emily, clearly a sub enjoying the part of her job where she could offer her service to an attractive dom.

Matt wasn’t sure if he should continue or not, but Emily waved her index finger at him so he took that as his cue to go on. He wasn’t sure how Emily could possibly have heard a word he said as he rambled through the week’s events, because she was listening to the waitress the entire time. Finally satisfied, Emily turned away from the waitress and looked at him again.

“Which leads me to today,” Matt said. “And Rick taking discipline for being late. I must admit I did kind of feel sorry for him. I mean, I know -”

“You felt sorry for him?” Emily wrinkled her attractive nose. “He broke the rules and inconvenienced everyone in the process. If I were Petra, I’d have punished him severely months ago. It’s entirely what he deserves. He gives doms a bad name.”

“Uh… I wouldn’t go that far. I mean, Rick can be a pain in the ass, but he’s fun, too.”

“Fun?” Emily looked disgusted. “You just said that he caused you to work late on Tuesday because of his childish, attention-seeking attitude.”

“Well yes… but…” Matt trailed off. He didn’t know how to explain to Emily that with the long hours they worked, Rick’s energy and zest for life could make all the difference between a hard, boring day, and a fun-filled one. The downside of Rick was the bad timekeeping and occasional grandstanding during filming, but Matt thought he’d take those any day because Rick made him laugh so much.

“Very well. That appears to be your week. I am disappointed, Matthew, that you still show a lack of maturity in your approach to your work. You’re very lucky to be in a hit TV show – you should exhibit a more serious attitude.”

“That’s not fair! I am serious about my work. And yes, I’m lucky, but I do think talent might have had something to do with why I got the role and am successful at it. I work hard, Emily.” Matt protested.

She fixed him with a hard glare. “I have not given you permission to use my name this evening, and for that little show of petulance you can sit in silence for the rest of the meal while I tell you about my own week.”

She beckoned the waitress over again and proceeded to order for them both, choosing something that she knew Matt didn’t like, presumably to punish him for his outburst.

He sat and gazed at her obediently for the rest of the meal while she talked about her week. He couldn’t drift off, as she sometimes questioned him about it later during sex, and if he got any details wrong then she punished him – and it wasn’t sexy punishment. Matt liked the idea of sexy punishment but her punishments were never sexy. They usually consisted of him abasing himself in front of her while she laid on stripes with the switch – hard and cool and without any affection to lessen the severity.

Emily had been very clear from the outset about what form their sex life would take, and he’d agreed to it readily enough. It had all sounded very… sensible. In reality, he’d found it less satisfying than he’d hoped, but Emily thought that was his fault, and she was probably right. He knew he had a tendency to overthink things, and he found it really hard to relax and go with the flow during sex. At least she wasn’t overly affectionate and never tried to hug him. Matt wasn’t a hugger – he didn’t like people invading his personal space.

After dinner, Emily drove him back to his place. “I’ll come in for sex,” she told him. “It’s been several days – I trust you haven’t masturbated during that time?”

“No, Ma’am. I know my penis belongs to you,” Matthew told her. Emily hated words like ‘cock’ or ‘clit’ or ‘hole’. She insisted on the correct terms for everything.

“Good. Although I’m not sure I’ll let you come after that little outburst in the restaurant. Go inside and undress. I want to make some calls to the office first, and then I’ll come and make use of you.”

Matt went up to his bedroom and undressed slowly, trying to at least get close to being in a submissive headspace. He wished Emily would help, but she felt this was his responsibility. He tried to imagine what it would be like if a dom with the right kind of forceful personality overpowered him and made him surrender, but Emily insisted he surrender simply because she said so, and Matt didn’t find it that easy.

When he was naked he took up position in the corner, looking at the wall. He wondered if he’d find it easier to get turned on if he was on his knees, or kneeling on the bed, his head buried in the pillows and his ass in the air. His cock twitched at that idea, but he didn’t dare alter his position; this was how Emily liked him.

He was there for a long time. He glanced at the clock on the nightstand a couple of times and an hour passed before finally he heard Emily’s footsteps on the stairs. He felt his buttocks clenching in anticipation, wondering how his dom would use him tonight.

“Well, you’ve done that right, at least,” Emily told him as she entered the room. “So I will reward you by having sex with you. But you cannot come until – and if – I say so.”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“Turn around, come over here, and undress me,” she ordered.

He did as he was told, losing himself in the act of servitude. He was very gentle and eager to please and took great care of her expensive clothing, which he folded neatly and placed on a nearby chair.

When she was naked, she walked over to the toy box in the corner of the room, and, to his dismay, took out the switch.

“Prostrate yourself and accept your punishment for your rudeness in the restaurant earlier. I will not be seen out with a surly submissive,” she told him.

He got on the bed, laid face down, and then shivered in anticipation, wondering where the switch would fall. She tapped his shoulders, and down over his buttocks, and then he heard the swish of the switch falling… onto the back of his knees. He yelped and jumped – it was his least favorite spot to take punishment.

“Hold still, submissive,” she ordered irritably, and he took a deep breath and waited with dread for the next strike. It fell on his thighs this time, and he yelped again. “That will do for now,” she said, returning the switch to the toy box, much to his relief.

“Lie on your back and get hard for me, so I can ride you.” She pointed in the direction of his cock.

He tried his best to think arousing thoughts – the nearness of his naked dom should have been enough, but somehow it wasn’t, and he found himself returning to his earlier fantasy of a dom who would overpower him with sheer sexiness, hold him down and…

“That’s good.” Emily nodded approvingly at his now hard cock, and then she got on the bed and engulfed it inside her body in one smooth move. She was perfectly in control as she rode him, caressing her body idly with her hands as she rose and fell.

“May I touch you, Ma’am?” Matt asked, longing to run his fingers over her small, pert, white breasts.

“No. You were very naughty earlier, and I don’t reward naughtiness,” she told him. “I’m only having sex with you now for my own pleasure, not yours.”

“Yes, Ma’am,” he said softly, and she continued to ride him hard before coming without making any sound at all – her breathing merely hitched a little.

“May I come now, Ma’am?” he asked politely when she was done.

“Not tonight, Matthew. As I said, I don’t reward naughtiness.” She got off him and disappeared into the bathroom, leaving him lying there with his cock drooping in disappointment. Ah well, Emily was the dom, and she was allowed to deny him orgasm; he just wished it had been done in a more sexy way.

He lay there, counting the shadows the car headlights made on the ceiling as they passed by outside, listening to the sound of the shower.

She returned to the bedroom a few minutes later, towel-drying her hair as she walked, and got dressed again. He felt even more disappointed by that. Wasn’t she even going to stay the night? He liked it when she stayed over – sometimes she would put a hand on his thigh, and he could almost believe he belonged to someone.

“You know, Matthew, I’ve been thinking,” she said, sitting down on the side of the bed and pulling on her shiny brown shoes.

“Mmm?” He propped himself up on one elbow and gazed at her beautiful white skin. There was a kind of perfection to her that he found mesmerizing.

“Don’t interrupt. I’ve been thinking that we’re really not very compatible.”

“What?” He sat up in surprise.

“You see, I don’t think that you’re really a service-oriented submissive – you don’t take as much pleasure from serving me as I feel you should.”

He wanted to protest, but she had a point. It wasn’t that he minded serving – he liked it – but it wasn’t his primary fantasy, and she had clearly picked up on that.

“You can speak now.” She looked at him expectantly.

“Uh… well, I do enjoy serving you,” he began, wondering what to say.

“A somewhat limp reply. I always did have reservations about you. Your profession is a disadvantage – I’m not remotely star-struck, as you well know. I’m not merely interested in having a trophy submissive, and I’m not enamored by the shallowness of your industry. I feel that anyone who wants to do the kind of work you do must, at heart, be someone with quite different values from myself.”

Matt sat there, staring at her.

“I’ve got a new secretary – a very pleasing young submissive called Eleanor,” Emily continued. “She seems much more eager to please than you are, and she doesn’t throw any of these silly dramatic tantrums that seem to be endemic to submissives in your line of work – and dominants, too, if Richard O’Shea’s appalling behavior is anything to go by.”

Emily reached into her bag, took out a hairbrush, and began smoothing it through her damp hair.

“You have a new secretary?” Matt repeated blankly.

“Yes. She’s charming. Now, of course, I have not made any advances to her, because you and I have an arrangement, but I feel that after tonight, we should end that arrangement, so I will be free to take a new submissive. Eleanor fits the bill nicely. There is the complication of the fact we work together, but we’ll negotiate some appropriate boundaries in advance. It’s the sensible thing to do.”

“Yes. Sensible,” Matt repeated.

“I wanted to give you one last try, but clearly it’s not working,” Emily told him. “You’re a satisfactory submissive, don’t get me wrong, but I feel I deserve someone who is more than merely ‘satisfactory’.”

“You’re dumping me?” Matt lay back down on the bed. He felt he should argue with her, or beg for her to stay, but found he had absolutely nothing to say.

“No.” Emily looked surprised. “I’m simply ending our arrangement. I think it’s run its natural course. Thank you very much for giving me your submission for the past few months. Goodbye, Matthew.”

She stood up, picked up her bag, and turned to go. Matt felt his temper rise. “I didn’t,” he snapped.

“Excuse me?” She paused by the door, one eyebrow raised.

“My submission – you never had it. I went through the motions, but you never made me feel anything. With you, it was all orders – ‘do that, come here, smile, eat what I say, be what I want’. Everything was about rules and it was totally soulless, sterile and boring.”

Emily’s face remained a calm mask – Matt wondered if anything could ever penetrate her utterly rigid worldview. “I’m afraid you’re addicted to dramatics, Matthew, and this kind of outburst is a case in point. I clearly made the right decision – we’re utterly incompatible. Goodbye.”

She left, closing the door with a controlled click, and Matt resented even that. Couldn’t she have slammed it shut on her way out? At least that was the kind of explosive finish that would have shown their relationship had meant something to her.

Matt sank back down on the bed, counting the cars passing by again and wondering which one was hers. He was sure he should feel something, but he didn’t.

He didn’t feel anything at all.

Chapter Five

It had been a bad day, and Rick was only too happy to swing his leg over the saddle of his beloved Harley, pull on his shades, and head out for the open road. Usually he’d go home, take a shower, get changed and then head out to a bar or party somewhere, hoping to find a sub for the night.

Now, with Petra’s embargo on clubbing fresh in his mind, he decided to head for the hills instead. He often did this, usually at the weekend or during hiatus. He’d take off alone to ride deep into the heart of the hillside, loving the feel of the bike purring between his legs and the sense of calm that he got from being out on the open road, without the paraphernalia of his everyday life around him.

Rick knew he gave every appearance of being an extrovert, but there was a tiny piece of his soul that recharged by heading out alone, just him and his bike. It restored something to him, a sense of peace and contentment that he couldn’t find anyplace else except, maybe, when he was taking pleasure in a sub’s body.

He rode up to his special place, a rocky outcrop with an amazing view, that he’d found as a kid. This place had been his sanctuary then, his refuge when times were tough, and the place he’d come to when he needed to escape. As a kid, he’d always dreamed of one day bringing someone he loved here and sharing it with them, but as an adult he knew that was a stupid dream, and he’d learned to enjoy it by himself, relishing the sense of peace it always gave him.

He felt it doing its job and restoring his soul in some indefinable way, soothing and calming him after a stressful day.

When he felt better, he swung his leg over the bike and rode back down, going as fast as he could, zoning out and feeling himself merge with the bike, loving the sense of power it gave him.

He was so lost in the sensation that he didn’t initially hear the sirens. The first he realized he might be in trouble was when the police car overtook him, flashing its lights, indicating that he pull over.

He braked into the side of the road, and two police officers got out of their car and came towards him. Rick took off his helmet, grimacing.

“Do you know how fast you were going, sir?” one of the police officers asked politely. Rick glanced at her nametag and flashed her a charming smile.

“To be honest, Officer Cahill, I might have lost track a little back there,” he admitted.  Neither of them was wearing a collar, and Rick realized, from the vibe he was getting off them, that they were both doms. He suspected he wouldn’t be able to melt them with one of his big smiles and the promise of a day on the Collar Crime set if they’d be so kind as to overlook his transgression.

“Don’t I know you?” the other officer asked suspiciously.

Rick knew this could go one of two ways: either they’d be happy to let him off with a fine and an autograph, or they’d want to make an example of him to prove that big TV stars didn’t get away with anything on their patch. That usually meant a worse punishment than regular folks got, out of some inverted sense of justice.

“I don’t think so,” he said cautiously.

“Yeah, you’re on that show about collars – you play that screw-up sub.”

“Are you fans of the show?” Rick asked hopefully, squinting at the guy’s name tag.

“Nah – my sub loves it, but it drives me nuts. I like the boss guy, but you ruin it for me. Always goofing off – and you’re supposed to be in law enforcement. It makes real LEOs look stupid, and I hate that.” He scowled.

Ouch. That hurt. Rick plastered his most charming smile to his face, regardless. “It’s just a show – we have to make it entertaining, Officer Dale. The job you guys do is so important – we don’t want to trivialize that. Honest.”

“So, you’re some hot shot TV star, are you?” Cahill gave him a sour look. “That doesn’t mean you own the roads. We have laws around here, and you don’t get to break them just because you’re on TV.”

“Sorry, it’s been a difficult day, and I guess I zoned out. It won’t happen again, officers,” Rick said, trying to look as harmless as possible.

“License and registration.” Cahill snapped her fingers, and Rick fumbled in his wallet. He handed them over with a wince and watched as she ran his details through her handheld database. Her expression darkened. “Hmm, it looks like you make a habit of this, sir. I think we’ll have to take you down to the Justice Hall.”

“What? No… c’mon – nobody was hurt, and I wasn’t going that fast.” Rick had visited the Justice Hall enough to know what would happen when he got there.

“State policy – this is your third offence in a year, and the mayor is on a big drive to improve road safety right now.”

“Look, I’m sorry – but is this really necessary? You look like reasonable people, and if you ever wanted to come and visit the set and meet Daniel Mayfield then I’d be happy to introduce you.”

Officer Cahill’s eyes narrowed. “Are you trying to bribe us, sir?”

“No, I’m just saying we don’t need to make a big deal out of this, do we?” Rick spread his arms helplessly.

“Just because you’re an actor in some big TV show, doesn’t mean the rules don’t apply to you.”

“I’m not…” Rick paused, and then nodded. Clearly the day wasn’t going to go his way, and he was only making it worse for himself; it was better to get it over with. “I respect the work you do, officers, and I’m sorry for screwing up. Here.” He handed the bike’s keys over to Cahill, and allowed Officer Dale to walk him over to the police car.

The Justice Hall was a big building adjacent to the courthouse. It dealt with simple cases, clearing them through on the spot rather than clogging up the court system.

Rick was processed and then put before the duty judge almost immediately. He pleaded guilty and wasn’t surprised to get the statutory minimum of six strokes with the strap.

“Sentence can be carried out at any time in the next two weeks; just report back to receive your penalty. Here.” The judge handed back his papers with the sentence written on them. “Do you have a dom who’ll want to take the punishment for you? If so, it’ll mean filling in another form.”

“No dom,” Rick said politely. “I’ll be taking it myself. Can we do it now?”

She arched a surprised eyebrow, and he guessed most people at least gave themselves a few days to prepare, but he had a very specific reason for wanting to get it over and done with. He had no doubt that the cops, or someone in the bustling Justice Hall, would leak the details of his misdemeanor to the press, so when he came back in to take his punishment the place would be packed with observers wanting to see the big TV star get taken down a peg or two. This way he could get it over and done with before the press got wind of it.

“Sure,” the judge said. “Discipline room is down the hallway, on the left.”

Rick already knew the way. It might have been a while since his last visit, but the place hadn’t changed. It still had the same old beige walls and scratched wooden flooring. The poorly maintained air conditioning made it stiflingly hot, and there was a general atmosphere of nerves and apprehension.

Rick sat down on the bench to wait his turn. Punishments were public – people had the right to see justice being done, but usually only the victim of a crime and their family showed up. There were always a few weirdos who just enjoyed watching people being punished, but Rick didn’t know why, because there was nothing interesting or erotic about state discipline. It was a fact of everyday life and not one that attracted a great deal of interest unless it was a special case.

Over in the center of the room, the state punishment officer looked completely bored as he accepted the chit the miscreant at the front of the queue gave him. There was the usual rigmarole of rights being read, and then the wrongdoer was pointed in the direction of the punishment bench. The dull thudding sounds of a swift strapping followed, and then it was over.

This particular wrongdoer stood up, pulled up his pants, and left the room without looking back. Justice might be painful but at least it was soon over, and Rick wasn’t afraid of it. He wasn’t a first timer – far from it – but he felt sorry for the woman sobbing nervously beside him who had probably never been here in her life.

“Hey – it’s okay, it’ll be over quickly.” Rick fished around in his pants pocket, found a tissue, and handed it to her. She took it gratefully, looking up at him with a sad smile – and then her eyes widened in surprise.

“Oh, shit – you’re Alex Tanner!”

“Yup.” He’d long ago stopped explaining to people that he wasn’t actually Alex Tanner – he just played him on TV. “Trust me to end up in this kind of trouble, huh?” he said, trying to distract her from her impending punishment.

“Does the chief know you’re here?” She flashed him a knowing grin, because Chief Christie never allowed any of his subs to take public discipline on the show; he always volunteered to take it for them if the need ever arose.

“Nah – where is he when you need him, huh?” Rick grinned back at her.

“He’ll be mad when he finds out.”

“I won’t tell him if you don’t.”

“I won’t – I promise.” She giggled, and he laughed, glad that he’d helped take her mind off her coming ordeal. “I love your show – you’re my favorite character on TV!” she told him. “You make me laugh so much. I wish I could be as cool as you.”

“Hey, don’t use me as a role model – I ended up here, didn’t I?”

“So did I,” she pointed out, and they both laughed at that.

“Susan Antonio,” the punishment officer called, and the woman stood up, twisting her fingers in her tissue.

“Chin up, Susan,” Rick told her. “It’s not so bad.”

She managed a nervous nod and then headed over to the punishment bench. Rick noticed her scuffed shoes and the hole in her blouse. She was skinny, the bones in her shoulders standing out, and she had the pinched look of someone who didn’t know where the next meal was coming from. Rick remembered that feeling all too well. Poor Susan was clearly one of life’s unfortunates. He had no idea what she’d done, but he hated that she’d ended up here. That had been him once, and he wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

She bent over to take her punishment, and Rick closed his eyes, unable to watch. He could feel the palms of his hands starting to sweat, not because he was nervous, but because he hated this so much. He rubbed them on his pants, trying to distract himself.

Susan was a sweet sub – he could tell she was a sub, and an uncollared one at that – and he felt sorry for her. Rick loved spanking his subs – he loved the sensation of pulling them over his knee and gently warming their asses, and he hated that the state took something he adored – something so beautiful and erotic – and turned it into a flat, humiliating, unpleasant form of discipline.

Susan clearly didn’t have a dom to take her punishment for her, and he hated the idea of her enduring it. He might not be the kind of dom that any parent would want for their offspring, but he always felt a sense of protectiveness towards subs. He understood Chief Christie’s attitude on this because he shared it. He’d never stand by and let any sub of his undergo state discipline; he’d volunteer to take it for them.

Rick mocked himself silently for that thought. Any sub of his? It wasn’t as if he ever had a sub for more than a night; he always made sure of that.

Susan sobbed throughout her punishment in a way that made his gut ache. He wondered what on earth she’d done to end up here. Most people never earned themselves a judicial punishment in their entire lives, and she didn’t strike him as some kind of seasoned lawbreaker.

He was glad when it was finally over, and only then did he open his eyes. He watched as she grabbed her bag and shuffled away towards the mainly empty seats. He wondered if she had friends or family waiting for her there, but she seemed to be alone. She put her bag down on a seat, rubbed her eyes with the tissue he’d given her, and glanced at him. He gave her a little salute and her face lit up. That made him feel happier. She might have had a crappy day, but at least she’d met her favorite TV actor.

His name was called so he got up, went over to the punishment officer, and handed over his chit.

The guy grinned at him. “Not often we have a celebrity in here – usually they have their fancy lawyers get them off.”

“Not me. No fancy lawyers. I’ll take what’s coming to me,” Rick said quietly. He didn’t like the idea of trying to weasel out of it by using an expensive lawyer. It wasn’t as if the Susan Antonios of this world had that option, after all. Anyway, it was better to get it over with and move on.

“Okay then – coat off, pants down, and bend over.” The guy pointed at the punishment bench, which had been freshly disinfected by a bored looking official.

Rick was acutely aware as he lowered himself over it that it was the second time today that he’d been in this position. He wondered if it was the worst day of his life, but decided that there had been too many other really bad days when he was younger vying for that honor. Besides, he could walk out of here and go back to his nice house and live his nice life – that hadn’t always been the case. No, all things considered it was just a regular kind of crappy day. He’d get through it.

“Looks like you’re already been in trouble once today,” the punishment officer said, coming to stand behind him and looking at the stripe marks from his earlier punishment.

“Yeah, well, trouble’s my middle name,” Rick muttered, bending his head and bracing himself.

The first stroke took his breath away. This was going to be a lot worse than the licks he’d taken at work – judicial punishments always were.

In stark contrast to earlier, he didn’t play up to the audience this time. He took each painful lick without saying a word, just like he had when he was younger, standing in this same place, mute and angry, not wanting to give anyone the satisfaction of seeing him hurt.

At least it was quick. He stood up after the sixth stroke, pulled up his pants over his now very tender ass, shouldered himself into his coat and put his sunglasses back on again for some degree of privacy. There was a little buzz going around the hall, and he noticed several people had come in to watch – mainly staff – so clearly word had got out that Rick O’Shea from the TV was taking licks in here today.

Usually, he’d give them their money’s worth and sign autographs and put on a show, but he was tired, humiliated, and in pain, so he just pulled up the collar of his leather jacket and headed for the exit.

As he walked over to the door, he noticed that Susan was standing, watching, her cell phone in her hand. He hoped she’d called someone to come and get her. He gave her a little smile and a wave and then left the building.

He had to go through the long-winded rigmarole of getting his bike back, which cost him a ridiculous sum of money – and his ass was so sore that he had to force himself to ride it home. He could have left it and got a taxi, but he loved his bike, so he gritted his teeth and bore it.

He was so tired when he arrived home that he couldn’t be bothered to put the Harley away in the garage. He just parked it on his drive and slid off it, wincing and cursing under his breath, and then he stomped into his house.

He took off his long black leather coat, got himself a beer from the fridge, and took a few deep gulps before wandering into the living room and turning on his giant TV. He’d had it specially installed, and it took up nearly one wall of his enormous living room.

He thought about eating and went back to the fridge, only to find it empty. He usually ate on set or when he was out clubbing, so all it contained was a slab of moldy cheese and a six-pack of beer. He wished he could unwind in a sub’s willing body, but even if that were possible, he was too tired and sore right now.

He put the beer down on the floor, threw himself face down onto the sofa, and turned on the TV.

It really had been a very bad day.

Chapter Six

Matt lay on the bed for a long time, gazing into space. It took him a while to realize that he was moping more for the loss of the relationship he’d wanted it to be than for what it actually was. He wasn’t sad Emily had gone. He hadn’t even liked being with her very much. He just felt stung that she’d dumped him when clearly he should have dumped her, and he wondered why on earth he’d stayed in such an unsatisfactory relationship for so long.

“Idiot,” he berated himself.

Emily hadn’t let him come, so he decided it would be an act of minor triumph over his departed, unlamented ex-dom to jerk off.

He reached for his laptop, feeling furtive and naughty, and clicked on one of his favorite porno movies about a young sub who goes to a kink house seeking her ideal dom. The idea of having anonymous sex with a stranger at a kink house horrified Matt, but as a fantasy it turned him on, and he stroked his cock as the sub undressed and knelt to meet her master for the night.

Kink houses arranged for two people with compatible kinks to get together and play. A lot of the kinks listed on the average kink house website scared the hell out of Matt, but this movie was more about domination and submission than any kind of hard edge-play, and Matt loved that about it.

The sub was breathlessly in awe of her dom and the pair had a good chemistry – apparently it was acted by a real life couple who devised their own porno movies, and Matt liked how they played together. The dom wasn’t strict or rules-oriented, but he was very forceful. He swept her up and overwhelmed her, ignoring her half-hearted protests and pleas. He was very tender with her, though, even as he dominated her completely, and Matt liked the contrast.

He watched as the dom placed the girl on her hands and knees, then wrapped his fist in her hair and pulled her head back as he entered her from behind. She squealed and panted, and the dom slapped her ass.

“Keep still while your dom is fucking you,” he growled, but he stroked her calmingly and then reached under her body and played with her breasts until she began mewling with pleasure.

Matt stroked his cock harder as the dom pumped into his helpless sub. He wondered what it would be like to be held in such a position, head back, a dom’s hand wrapped firmly in his hair as he was taken mercilessly… and came over his hand.

“Fuck you, Emily,” he snapped when the haze of his orgasm had passed, but he didn’t feel any sense of victory.

He took a shower, pressing his head against the wall and letting the water pound onto his shoulders as he wondered why his relationships always seemed to end like this. He hadn’t had many relationships, but they usually ended with his doms dumping him, often to move on to a sub they said they felt more compatible with. It was the story of his life.

“Why are none of them compatible with me?” he asked as he soaped himself. He tried to give service willingly, to be thoughtful, obedient and to accommodate all their desires in the bedroom, and yet he always seemed to fall short in some way he didn’t understand. What was he doing wrong?

He dried himself, pulled on a bathrobe, and then trudged back into the bedroom and turned on the TV. He threw himself on the bed and watched it distractedly, still brooding on his lack of dating success, when a news item suddenly caught his attention.

“Oh, shit.” Matt rolled off the bed, pulled on his clothes from his date with Emily, and made a run for the door without even stopping to think about it.

Chapters 7 - 8

You can buy Ricochet from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr, Amazon.es, Amazon.jp, Kobo or in various different formats from Smashwords for only $5.99!

December 2015

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