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Heather brought the first bite of the salmon to her mouth. Why had she done it? Why had she allowed this man to virtually order dinner for her? Yes, she supposed it was his role as Captain to recommend items on the menu to guests. He had probably done it many times before.
But his tone of voice. She doubted it was the same. And why did the very idea of him using that commanding tone with other female passengers bother her? It was not like she had any right to be jealous of who this man Dommed or anything else. She never had. Never. That had never been part of their deal.
She tasted the fish. Even as disinterested in food as she had become, she had to admit it was excellent. That too irritated her. Why did he have to be right?
She forced another bite down. She would eat her dinner. Excuse herself before dessert. And go back to her cabin. And what? Read a trashy romance? Cry some more? She had barely written anything in months. Perhaps she would take a walk around the decks instead. That always helped. How many hours had she spent doing just that these past months?
“Do you like the food, dearie? Paulo is such a wonderful chef. Everything that man cooks is excellent. But I am partial to the salmon. I think we Scots always are,” Maggie tried once more to engage her in small talk.
The trouble was that small talk was something Heather had never much enjoyed. Oh, she loved to talk. Once she got started, she could not stop. But not ‘small talk,’ not inconsequential things. No, she liked to talk about the important stuff: the purpose and meaning of life or even books, politics, religion, philosophy, or history would do in a pinch.
“Yes, it is very nice,” she hated to admit in front of him. “How long have you been writing?” If she must settle for small talk around the dinner table, at least, it could be something that interested her.
“As long as I can remember. But it was not until my children grew up and left home that I had any real time to write. Of course, that was over thirty years ago. What about you, dearie?”
Heather smiled at that word. Everyone was dearie to this woman, and she seemed to use it liberally. But she could not fault Maggie; each one seemed genuine. “Like you say, writing seems a genetic disorder you are born with. I have been writing almost since I began to read.”
“But it was not until my second marriage started to fail that I got serious about it. It was a way of escape I suppose. I posted a few stories on the internet. Looking back, they were horrid. But people liked them and commented. It just sort of grew from there.”
“Second marriage? How many times have you been married?” asked the woman to her other side.
Heather was more than familiar with that look and tone. She had long since stopped caring what people like that thought of her. “Three. Two dudes and a stud,” she knew she was pushing the woman’s button, and she enjoyed it. “But you know what they say, three strikes you’re out.” It was Jan to whom she turned for this final comment.
Maggie, goddess love her, laughed heartily at her flippant humor. “I don’t know seems to me once a filly has a good taste of a stud she will want more.”
“Horses? Was someone mentioning horses? Ah, now there’s an excellent topic,” the woman’s husband turned from the man he had been speaking with. Heather fought hard not to spew the water in her mouth across the table.
“No, dear, no one was talking about horses,” replied his wife with another of those illegal bahis looks.
“But I clearly heard filly and stud, Margo.”
“Yes, but more in romantic terms than horseflesh, I’m afraid. Sorry to disappoint you, Gerald,” Maggie fielded this one.
“Oh, dear, terribly sorry. Most definitely not a subject that I would have any knowledge of,” he said as he stared pointedly at his wife.
“Indeed,” Margo replied as she lifted her champagne glass and smugly sipped.
Heather was not sure that she could stifle this giggle. It bubbled inside of her. The first genuine one since that night. Perhaps she had underestimated these people, or at least their value for comic relief. She bit her lower lip to hold the mirth inside. She had just about succeeded too when Maggie winked across the table at her. That was it; it erupted forth.
She quickly covered it with a cough, though. Not so much for the woman’s sake but her husband. Heather always felt a bit sorry for those hen-pecked types.
She froze when she felt his hand on her mostly bare back. The air left her lungs in a great whoosh as the tingles along her spine, bypassed her brain and went directly to other parts of her anatomy. Parts this man had once been intimately acquainted with.
“Here, perhaps a sip of water will help,” he smiled knowingly.
Heather doubted that even a cold shower would do much good at the moment, but the glass was as good a distraction as any. And an opportunity to change the subject back to something more comfortable, “You write mysteries, did you say, Maggie?”
“Oh, yes, dearie. I’m no Agatha Christie, of course. But enough people seem to enjoy the bloody things that I can indulge my little travel bug with cruises a few times a year. The old house just isn’t the same without Malcolm. Seeing new things and meeting new people give me a distraction. And quite a bit of fun,” she nodded her white head slightly and smiled at the couple who had turned their attention elsewhere.
“But I want to hear more about these naughty novels of yours? So much more juicy and spicy than some old who-dun-it. Poly and BDSM? How interesting? Do you speak from your writer’s imagination or experience?”
“A bit of both, I suppose. Not so much with the poly. That has never been my thing. While I believe it can work for some people, perhaps with the stress on the earth’s resources, it may even make sense environmentally; it has just never been my thing. I’m hardwired for monogamy. A one-man kind of woman, I’m afraid.”
The excellent food tasted like cardboard in Jan’s mouth. A one-man kind of woman. He remembered those first emails they had shared. Before they had both decided, there could be no future for them. A decision they agreed to before they even met. It had been a point of contention for them. She wanted monogamy, while he favored poly, though not her reverse harem.
All those years ago, back in his innocence, he had, like many men, thought polygamy, a couple of women, would be ideal. The years, of course, had shown him how hard it was to find a single woman you connected with. Let alone form any type of deep poly relationship where everyone gave and received something in exchange.
But what surprised him was how desperately he still wanted to be this woman’s one man.
“Yes, I can empathize with you there, dearie. It may make for a hot fantasy or even a once in a lifetime experience, but two men at once is one too many for this old girl. At illegal bahis siteleri least long term.”
Jan found himself the one stifling a giggle at Maggie’s bluntness. He had always liked the woman, and he knew when he saw her name on the manifest that she and Heather would get on as well.
“But the BDSM? Is that something you have a bit more experience with, dearie?”
He held his breath; he knew that Heather had never been one to hid her kinks. She was out of the closet. She made no apologies, gave few explanations, and defended her lifestyle to no one.
Should it matter so much to him what she replied? ‘Oh, yes, that’s how I met Jan. On a kinky chat board,’ was not exactly something that would be career-enhancing. Then again, did he care anymore? And why did that idea of her admitting their ties appeal so damned much to him?
And why was his mind stuck on another time this woman had sat at the Captain’s Table? They had finished their scene early. He had suggested that she join him for lunch before he took her back to shore to catch her train. She had dressed, except for her panties. He had kept those. He still had them, in fact.
He had escorted her proudly to his table before a room of almost fifty somewhat rough sailors. They had sat there, eating and laughing, her without her underwear and wearing his rope burns around her neck and wrists. Never in his whole life had he felt prouder, more a man or a Dom.
She laughed, and it was like pouring oil on rough waters, “Oh, yes, most definitely. For a few years between my second husband and Geoffrey, I explored most of that scene. Some of it, I would not recommend to anyone. Others felt right at the time. I certainly not ashamed of or regret anything I have done. But it was not until I met Geoffrey that I understood any of it.”
“He taught me that it is not so much what you do but with whom. That love and trust are the only things that matter in a Dom/sub relationship. Hell, many of the people in the lifestyle would have considered us vanillas. We certainly did not rely upon whips and chains as I once had with others.”
“But Dom and sub underlaid everything we were and did in our life. It was who we were, not what we did. I’m not sure I can even explain.”
Jan’s jealousy grew at the way she glowed when she spoke of the man. He had lived with that jealousy for twelve long years, but it was some vague thing, some unknown Dom that had stolen her from him. But her words and that glow brought home just how real it was. As she said, perhaps more real than anything they had shared, as intense as that had been for him. But now was not the time to process those emotions.
“Yes, but weren’t you worried about what people would think?” interrupted a man across the table. Jan tried to remember his name.
“I’m sorry I was eavesdropping. David McAllister, Dr. David McAllister. And I must say I am fascinated with the subject. Do you realize that the DSM-V still lists such deviations as a disorder?”
Heather sat taller in her chair. Jan smiled and waited, and she did not disappoint. “Yes, Dr. McAllister, I am well aware of the DSM-V, not only for its inaccuracy in terms of what it calls deviant behavior, but its complete bollocks regarding autism.”
She did not even pause for a breath before continuing, “Not only am I proud to call myself a submissive, I am also honored to be the mother of a multiply-neurodivergent young woman. If I had listened to half the bullshit that canlı bahis siteleri you and your colleagues had to say on autism, she would not be the confident, independent, and caring human being she is today. Might I also point out that your illustrious DSM once listed homosexuality as a mental health condition?”
The man had the dignity to blush, “I’m sorry if I sounded judgmental. I did not mean to be. It is more curiosity, actually. It is as you must be aware of something that most people do not discuss around the dinner table.”
She interrupted him, “And maybe they should. One thing about being the parent of an autistic person, and actually autistic myself, is that you see society and its rules differently. Notice, I did not say, polite society. In my experience, it is anything but. Whether you are sexually deviant or autistic.”
“I am truly sorry I am botching this terribly. What I am trying to say is that I would love to hear more. About your experiences with both. Autism and this BDSM stuff. As for my colleagues, yes, we do not always get things perfect, but no science does. Perhaps I might be the one to point out that accepted science once ostracized Gallo for believing the Earth was round.”
She laughed, “Yes, that is certainly true, but I would hardly consider that good defense. It sounds much more like an argument for the prosecution if you ask me. I am always happy to share my experiences. The good goddess knows there are enough of those and my opinions on the internet. I will be happy to share the links to those blogs with you.”
“As I said, being autistic myself, I don’t tolerate fools well. If, after reading the blogs, you have specific questions you would like to ask me, then I am happy to discuss them with you. But my life is not some cadaver for dissection in the name of pseudoscience.”
“My degrees may not be in psychology, but in my humble opinion, if people practiced more understanding and acceptance, there would be no need for your profession. Whether that is submission and Domination, autism, or even something like schizophrenia.”
“Oh, now, I must read your writings. You have me imminently intrigued,” the man smiled at her, and Jan felt that demon of jealousy raise its nasty head even higher. Now it was not merely some dead, perfect Dom and husband that he was competing against, but this educated, if annoyingly arrogant doctor.
One of the obstacles that had always eaten at the back of his mind with this woman was his lack of education. Yes, he might be the Captain of a ship. But he had gotten there by hard work, not learning and privilege. He had left school at sixteen and found his first job and love on the sea. Forty years later, not even those accomplishments made him feel worthy of a woman like this.
He had always secretly feared that she would grow tired of him. Once the sex and play were over, what would they find to talk about? She was a writer. She had more than one degree. How could he ever hope to hold her attention outside of the bedroom? Her marriage to the successful and educated millionaire only reinforced that.
Of course, his demotion to gigolo on this floating love boat after failing the test, which would have meant certain promotion to a bigger ship, did not help. It had not been that he did not know the material. But rather that reading and writing did not come easy for him.
Even in his native Swedish, he had struggled with such things, which was one reason he had left school so young. He might have a bit of talent with languages, speaking four fluently and getting by with half a dozen more. But reading and writing in any of those were almost impossible. Yeah, what did someone like him who barely could read at all belong with a writer?
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