Author: Das Mervin
Fandom: Fifty Shades of Grey
Word Count: 10,210
Rating: PG-13 to R, depending on your sensibilities
Inspiration: The book in general, but mostly the part where Grey admits to legitimately hurting one of his subs by tying her up too tightly during a suspension scene
Warnings: Very frank and intimate discussion of BDSM lifestyle and kink
Summary: Anastasia Steele learns the difference between a slave, a sub, and a doormat.
Author’s Note: This one’s for you, Gehayi and Ket. I admit I had to fiddle with the timeline a little so this could work, but really, I don’t feel at all bad. E.L. James buttfucks a timeline worse than Stephenie Meyer does, and if you read my rants in Eclipse and The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, you know that’s bad.
When I hear the knock on the door to our apartment, I think it’s Elliot. Or maybe another one of Kate’s friends. I’m not really sure, and I’m not really paying attention. I’m too busy thinking about…a lot of things. Graduation is one of them, sure, but that’s way down on the list. No, I’ve got Christian on my mind…and that contract…and my research…and my newly-awakened sex drive. I have no idea how I’m juggling all of this.
“Well…I’ll ask,” I finally hear Kate say, and she sounds unsure. I quickly close all of the browser tabs I had open—no way Kate needs to see what I was looking at. I get them all hidden from view when she finally peeps into my room.
“Ana? There’s…a woman here. She wants to talk to you. She says it’s important—about somebody you know.” Kate looks weirded out by the whole thing, but I know that if it were just some person trying to sell us encyclopedias, she’d have sent him packing. Or her, rather.
I’m curious now, I admit it, so I get up and walk out of my room, following Kate to the door.
She’s nothing really special—brown hair pulled up into a messy knot held together by a clip, brown eyes, I think, and glasses perched low on her nose. She’s wearing a ratty t-shirt and jeans, and is looking mildly interested at the inside of our apartment, eyeing the half-packed boxes strewn everywhere. But the second she sees us, her attention is obvious—she’s looking right at me, and the look is making me nervous already. Main thing is, though, I’ve never seen this woman before in my life.
“Hey there,” she says. Her voice is friendly and she waves at me.
I wave cautiously back. “Um…hi,” I say back. “Not to be rude, but, uh—”
“I’m Sharon,” she says, interrupting me and sensing my first question. “And I’m gonna be honest with you—I…kinda followed you here several days ago. I’ve been dithering about contacting you, but decided I needed to. I know, I know, that is total creeper material, but…” She sighs, her mouth twisting a little, her expression still apologetic. “It’s about Christian Grey.”
My stomach immediately drops. About Christian? What could—why would someone follow me here to talk to me about Christian? A woman, no less? My mind fills with all kinds of scenarios as to how this woman could possibly know him, and not a single one of them is a good one. I almost think for a second or two that she’s Mrs. Robinson, come to tell me all about him, but no, she’s way too young—she looks almost my age, in fact. Maybe a little older.
She glances down at her watch. “You wanna talk about this over lunch? I figure safe, public ground would be a good place to do this. I know how really bad I look, coming here out of the blue. I don’t wanna put you girls on edge or something. And—I understand if you wanna come,” she continued, waving a hand at Kate (who has been on edge and looking very suspicious and more than a little curious since Sharon said Christian’s name), “but this really should be between her and me.” She looks at me. “Unless you want her to come, too.”
I glance between them. Having Kate with me would be safer—I don’t know who this Sharon is, I don’t know what she wants…but if she’s here to talk about Christian Grey, there’s a chance she’s gonna talk about stuff that I not only don’t want to talk about in front of Kate, but stuff I can’t talk about in front of Kate.
I decide after only a few seconds. “I’ll go with you alone,” I say as decisively as I can.
“Are you sure, Ana?” Kate says, a warning note in her tone. She’s obviously worried about me.
“Yeah, I’m sure,” I reply. “I’ll text you when we get to where we’re going.”
“Tommy O’s,” Sharon pipes up. “It’s not far from here—fantastic Hawaiian food, but it’s got other stuff if that’s not your thing. I can give you the address.”
“Great—thanks,” Kate says, darting over to a table for the pad of paper we keep there for things like this. She hands Sharon the pad and a pen, and she scribbles for a moment before handing it back. “Any idea how long you’ll be?”
“No clue. Until we’re done talking, I guess.”
Kate and I glance at each other. “All right,” Kate says. “Remember to text me this time,” she adds, and I know she’s thinking of the night I didn’t text her when I was with Christian. She’s probably pretty serious this time, too—and I see her point. I nod.
“I will,” I agree, and then I grab my keys and follow Sharon out the door.
“Ana what?” she asks as we walk away from my apartment.
“Ana what—your name? I’m a Leibowitz, you’re a…?”
“Oh! Anastasia Steele. Just Ana, though,” I reply, feeling a little dumb.
“Better than Leibowitz,” she grins.
I tentatively smile back. If she’s planning on killing me or trying to tell me to stay away from Christian Grey, she’s doing a damn good job of lulling me into a false sense of security.
We get to her car, and the only reason I know what it is is because of Ray. “You own a classic Barracuda?” I ask, honestly impressed by the shiny green car.
“Yeah—family thing, you might say. My grandfather drove it, he gave it to his daughter, she gave it to me,” Sharon says, patting it as she loops around to the driver’s side. “It’s a ‘68. You know cars?”
“No, not at all—my stepfather loves Barracudas, though. Always pointed them out on TV or in pictures to me, so it’s kind of branded into my brain,” I admit.
“Well, I don’t know modern cars—I only know this kind. Old ones, the classics. Sort of a family obsession—we all love them, and are all of the opinion that they stopped making decent cars once the eighties hit,” she says after we’re both inside. “My brother actually owns a garage where he restores these babies.”
“Sounds like a neat hobby,” I reply.
“Indeed,” she says, turning it on. The engine roars as she throws it into gear. “We all gotta find something to do to pass the time—we just gotta make sure it’s legal and doesn’t cause anybody else grief.”
I don’t think I like the way Sharon…almost knowingly looks at me.
I’ve never been to Tommy-O’s. I know about it, though—I’ve been around Vancouver, so I’ve passed by it a few times. I can tell as we pull into a parking space across the street that it’s a bistro-type restaurant. I quickly pull out my phone and send a short text to Kate that we’ve arrived before I unbuckle and open my car door.
“Lunch is on me,” Sharon says as we exit the car. “And you can get whatever you want.”
“Oh, that’s not—” I begin protesting, but she waves a hand at me.
“I insist—I dragged you out here to have this talk, and it’s…well, it’s not gonna be pleasant, so the least you can do is let me pay for your lunch.”
I frown. So the talk isn’t gonna be pleasant? That is rather foreboding. Maybe she was trying to lull me into a false sense of security.
“You ever eaten Hawaiian?” she suddenly asks as we cross the street to the restaurant.
“No, but I’m willing to give anything a shot,” I answer. When Sharon opens the door for me, the smell that wafts out is surprisingly good—and makes me suddenly realize that I am actually quite hungry.
A short man with a big smile greets us. “Hi, welcome to Tommy-O’s,” he says brightly. “Just two?” he asks.
“Yep,” Sharon replies.
The man—Warren, his tag reads—leads us to a table with four seats near a window, setting our menus down after we sit. “Your waitress will be with you in a minute,” he chirrups before disappearing.
Sharon doesn’t bother flipping her menu open; instead, she reaches for the wine and beer list. “I recommend the Thai beef salad or Katsu chicken, if that’s your thing,” she says off-handedly, scrutinizing the menu in her hand.
I open my own, glancing down the items available, particularly the lunch specials. While what she suggested does sound good, the teriyaki burger looks unbelievably delicious…but an albacore tuna salad would be a lot healthier…
Healthier. Somehow, the suggestion of the tuna salad is suddenly being said by Christian’s voice. He’d want me to eat that—he does always seem to serve me fish, salads…all kinds of healthy food. And the prices here—so cheap. I know that the dinner I had last night was probably hundreds of dollars…
“Seriously, Ana.” Sharon’s voice jolts me out of my thoughts. “Whatever you want.”
Her voice is very friendly and not at all commanding—but somehow, her smiling demeanor and casual insistence that I get what I want seems to send my inner Christian ducking for cover. I want that teriyaki burger.
The waitress shows up then, a tanned woman with a bright smile. “Hi—I’m Yvonne, and I’ll be your waitress today. Can I get you ladies anything to drink?”
“Black Butte and a glass of water,” Sharon says, reaching down and fiddling with her purse.
Beer instead of wine—one more stark difference between my dinner last night and my lunch today. This is almost getting surreal.
Sharon hands her ID to the waitress, who glances at it for a moment before handing it back. She looks at me next. “Coke,” I say firmly, but can’t help but feel nervous—Christian had looked so disapproving when he saw me drinking that…maybe I should change my order to just a water. Or maybe wine—he seemed to—
“You originally from Washington?” Sharon suddenly asks, once again snapping me away from my thoughts about Christian and bringing me to the present where it’s just her and me, giving the waitress time to dart off with my original order.
I cough. “Well, I’ve kind of lived a lot of places—my mom married and remarried a lot, and she has a problem with settling down. Right now she lives in Georgia.”
“I’m from Nebraska. Born and raised there, but my dad’s job moved us up to Vancouver when I was fourteen. Dunno which one I like better. Nebraska is nice—I love wide-open spaces where you can see into forever, it seems. But up here, the rain and cool temperatures are wonderful. I’m not one for heat,” she says.
“I don’t mind it too much.”
“I hate it. You can just put on blankets and more layers to get warm when it’s cold, but if you’re hot, you can’t do anything but strip down naked, and even that won’t help you sometimes,” she says with a small chuckle.
I smile with her—I don’t know why I’m so comfortable with a complete stranger right now, but she just seems to put me at ease. “I guess so. I just get cold really easy,” I shrug.
We lapse into silence, and I can feel the subject we’re both avoiding—it’s almost like it’s sitting at the table with us. But I don’t know if I should ask her about it or just let her bring it up first. Maybe she’s waiting for the right moment. I just really, really want to know how she knows Christian. I’m hoping it’s passing familiarity. Maybe just an old friend. A platonic friend, who doesn’t know all of the secrets and mysteries he has—maybe this conversation will end with me setting her straight on a few things. I think I’d like that. Well, I couldn’t set her straight on too much—stupid NDA.
While we are quiet, the waitress comes back with our drinks. She sets my Coke down in front of me and I thank her. Sharon gets her water and an empty mug first, and then a tall brown bottle with a white label is set on the table. Sharon smiles warmly and then cracks open the bottle, tipping her mug and slowly pouring the dark beer in.
“Are you two ready to order?” Yvonne asks as Sharon pours.
“I am—are you?” Sharon asks me.
“Yeah, I am. I’d like a teriyaki burger,” I order.
“And I’ll take the Thai beef salad,” Sharon says pleasantly after Yvonne is finished scribbling my order down. Sharon hands the waitress our menus after that and she goes dashing off to get our orders started.
Sharon sighs. “Well, time to stop delaying. I didn’t just invite you out to randomly introduce myself, after all.”
Crap. So we’re here now.
“May as well start at the beginning. I saw you walk out of Christian Grey’s office building weeks ago. You looked a little shaken. I…well, I immediately had a bad feeling about that, but I tried to shake it off. None of my business, after all. And he does have a particularly nasty personality, so anyone would be either shaken or stunned after spending some time in his presence,” she starts, and I’m both amazed and offended by the level of disgust in her voice when she starts talking about Christian. I can’t help it—if she just called me up to sit around and badmouth Christian, I will so walk out without my burger.
“I couldn’t help but think about you,” Sharon continues. “Not every day, but…well, often enough. And then I spotted you and Christian at the Savage Kitchen a few days ago.”
“Wait,” I interrupt, confused. “The Savage Kitchen? I’ve never—unless you’re talking about Cuisine Sauvage. I went there with him a few days ago.”
“‘Cuisine Sauvage’?” she quotes back, sounding amused. “Is that what he called it? It’s the Savage Kitchen. He does do his best to try and make everything hoity-toity.” She snorts. “I swear…anyway.”
“Wait, I need to ask a question before you start.” I take a sip of my Coke. “Why did you…well, if everyone is, um, unsettled by Christian, why did you immediately focus on me that first day you saw me? I understand seeing me later and thinking about me—well, maybe—but…”
She looks at me strangely. “Because you look like me.”
I blink. For a second, the answer does nothing but confuse me further. I don’t look like her at all! Just because we both have brown hair doesn’t mean—well, and brown eyes, that too. We both have that, and…we are about the same height, that too, and while I think she’s older, we’re pretty close to the same age…same soft build, though she definitely works out…
Okay, I don’t like this.
I open my mouth to demand just what she is trying to imply, but she raises her hands to silent me. “Please, lemme finish. Or at least get to a point where that explanation makes a hell of a lot more sense,” she asks politely.
I close my mouth, and then I nod—fine. I’ll let her. But she better get there fast.
“That was when I followed you home and wrote down your address,” she says, picking up where she left off. “I had to keep a good distance, believe me—I’m sure Christian would’ve recognized my car, for all the comments the jerk made on it.” She scowls.
I take that opportunity to speak up. “Okay, I can kind of understand where you’re coming from there. He doesn’t like my car, either,” I throw out there.
She smirks. “Unsurprising—was yours the Bug?”
“Yeah,” I confirm, and then I add, “Her name is Wanda.” I’m not sure why I say that, but I just…I really feel like I can say silly little things like that around this woman.
She looks pleased. “Good name—and I like that you name your cars. I named mine, too. Christian actually tried to tell me to get rid of Heart out there.”
I manage to smile with her—Heart, what a silly name for a muscle car—but it’s hard. Christian tried to tell her to sell it. Making comments on her car is one thing, but now…Christian tried to make me sell Wanda, too. Kept telling me to get rid of it because it’s unsafe. And he told Sharon the same thing. Christian and I are…so what were they?
I can’t help it; I have to bring the subject to something I need to know. “Sharon, I’m sorry if this is…off-topic or something, but…” I swallow and have to take another sip of Coke. “How do you know Christian? Are you old friends?”
Her mouth twists. “To answer that, I’m gonna have to ask you a personal, intrusive, and seemingly rude question in turn.” She sighs. “Please don’t think me prying or nosey, because I’m not. Are you in, considering, negotiating, talking about, or thinking about a relationship with Christian Grey that isn’t exactly the conventional type you see in most romantic comedies these days?”
I can’t help it—my jaw drops. A flurry of emotion explodes inside me. I first want to demand to know how she knows that, but the NDA keeps my mouth shut. I never did find out what the punishment was for violating the NDA I signed—for all I know, the punishment is Punishment. Then my brain connects more dots and I am now convinced—she’s one of the fifteen. She is one of those fifteen girls that Christian had before me, and I can’t help but feel irrational jealousy and dislike for Sharon immediately, just like I did at dinner last night before any of the fifteen had names. And that’s when more confusion comes racing in—what on earth could one of Christian’s subs want to talk to me about? Well, Christian, of course.
Just like that, I blush. Oh no. If she’s here to talk about Christian, we’re going to talk about—no, I can’t talk about that!
I suddenly realize that Sharon is watching me very closely, the lights from the restaurant glinting off of her glasses. Her look is piercing and makes me squirm—almost like Christian’s gaze, only his makes me cringe, too.
“I’ll take that as a yes,” she finally says. “So we definitely need to talk about this. And before we do, I just want to remind you—the NDA says you can talk to me about your, er, relationship with Christian.”
I try to clear my head. “It does?” I blurt out, knowing that that even further confirms that I am with Christian. That doesn’t make sense; I thought I couldn’t tell anyone. Sharon could just be saying that to make me talk—no, wait. Christian said I could talk to some of his previous subs for information. And I remember that I vehemently said no—I didn’t want to talk to any of the woman, because I felt nothing but jealousy when I thought of that.
I’m still feeling it, because if I can talk to her, she’s definitely one of the subs. However, I can’t help but feel even more confused. How is this girl a sub? She may look like me, but she’s nothing like me. She’s easy-going, comfortable in her surroundings, confident, chatty—she’s more like Kate than me, and Kate is patently no sub.
I realize that Sharon is just patiently waiting for me to work everything through in my head, taking a draw off her beer as she does. I shift uncomfortably in my seat, deliberating for a few moments more, and then I finally look up and meet her gaze. “Yes. I am.”
She huffs, setting down her glass. “What paperwork have you signed?” she asks.
“Just the NDA,” I answer quietly. “We…erm…negotiated the other contract last night, but I still didn’t sign. I needed to think about it.”
I can’t help but notice she looks relieved; my irrational jealousy flares again, drawing all kinds of conclusions as to why she might look like that. Before any of them can cement, she talks again.
“That’s good. I’m gonna give you a good piece of advice—don’t sign.” She stares right through me over the lip of her glass as she takes another swig of beer. “In fact, don’t see him again. Ever.”
I bristle. “I think who I see and—and what I sign is my own business,” I snap. I know it’s partially the jealousy talking, but I hardly think a woman I don’t know has any right to tell me who I can and can’t see.
“It is,” she agrees, nodding, “but I wanted to make sure you were fully informed. Has Christian told you about the other women he’s been with?”
“I know about the fifteen, yes.”
She raises an eyebrow. “‘The fifteen’? Hon, they are all women and they all have names and are people.” She takes a breath. “I happen to be one of them.”
Just because I’d already come to that conclusion doesn’t make her announcement any less dramatic, nor does it help me to stop feeling so jealous.
“So. Fifteen now—that makes you number sixteen?” she muses aloud. Her focus is back on me. “I was number thirteen.”
Sharon leans back in her chair, getting more comfortable as she slings an arm over the back of the empty chair next to her. “You mind a little back story and history? It is kind of important to the subject at hand.”
I nod—I want to hear all of the details. My inner goddess just wants to pull her hair and slap her face, but for once, I make her be quiet and ignore her hisses and ranting. I’m jealous, yes, but—I just want to hear.
Sharon swirls her beer. “I am not exactly a newbie to the whole Lifestyle scene. In fact, I’ve been a fetishist for a while—read my first kinky fiction and porn when I was sixteen, and it was like lighting a fire in me. I couldn’t get enough of the stuff. Once I hit college, I managed to experience my first mild bondage. Just restraint and begging, is all, and some spanking. My God, I couldn’t believe how much I liked that. Reading about it was one thing, but actually experiencing it?” Her grin is wry. “Talk about awakening the Bondage Monster within.”
I can’t believe how comfortable she is telling me this. I can’t believe how young she was to discover all that—to be reading porn about it. I can’t believe she calls restraint, begging, and spanking mild. I don’t think it’s mild at all.
“So, by the time I was twenty-two, I was kind of in the market for not just a Dom, but a Master. I like total subjugation,” she continues.
That’s when I finally have to stop her. “What’s a Master?” I ask.
Her eyes narrow and she frowns. At first, I think she’s mad at me for interrupting and asking a question, but then she speaks. “Master is the counterpart to a slave relationship.”
“Slave relationship?” I blurt, disbelieving. “You wanted to be a slave?”
She nods, looking like she gets this reaction a lot. “Yep. That’s the works—the Master tells you what to eat, wear, drink, what you’re allowed to do, what you’re not allowed to do…it extends beyond just bedroom scenes. Submissives have a much bigger degree of power—they have all kinds of rights while a slave doesn’t. ‘Course, both the sub and the slave have some degree of power, no matter what,” she explains.
I slowly turn that over in my brain. All of what she just described is…disturbingly familiar. All of that and more was in the contract I just read last night. Except…no, that was a submissive contract. Christian never said the word slave…
“Good Masters you wanna keep for more than three or four scenes are hard to find. Well, to me, they are,” Sharon says, bringing me back to now as she continued her story. “You gotta find someone you really trust and who can read a person well. I managed to get a few scenes in—the longest one I had lasted a week with a guy I found in a leather club. He was a nice guy.” She smiles fondly. “He was so good with a blade.”
I shiver, my stomach twisting unpleasantly. Unbidden, a sentence from Christian’s hard limits jumps into my mind. No acts involving needles, knives, piercing, or blood.
“But then I entered into a bit of a dry spell. Went for three years with pretty much nothing. Then, last year, I met Christian.”
She picks up her bottle and pours the last of her beer into her glass. “I was at the Heathman. I was rather fancy at the time, because I was with a wedding party; a friend of mine had just gotten married, and they were having the reception there. I went to the bar to get a drink and suddenly, he was right there next to me ordering white wine and asking my name.” She pushes her glasses further up on her nose. “I was flattered, and we started talking. He told me who he was and seemed surprised that I didn’t actually know his name or recognize him—yes, God forbid I not know who Christian Grey is. That’s like not knowing who the President is!” She rolls her eyes. “God, when I think of all the warning signs…anyway.” She shakes herself. “We had our conversation, and at the end of it, we’d exchanged numbers. I went back to the wedding party and didn’t think too much of what had happened. I was honestly surprised when he called me the next day and invited me to lunch.”
I’m staring at my Coke, fiddling with the straw. Her tone whenever she talks about Christian directly confuses me. It’s not hatred, not jealousy, just…distaste. When Christian mentioned the other women, he seemed just careless; he never hinted that any of them might dislike him after their three months were over. And the way he talked, he was the one who always broke it off with them. I just…I don’t get that impression with Sharon. Then again, I don’t get the impression that she enjoys being a—a slave, either, so maybe I just can’t read her well.
“We went out, did more talking, and we both started skirting around a subject—BDSM. We were both using coy innuendo and that sort of thing, because you can’t just march up to someone and ask if they enjoy being tied up and having hot candle wax dripped on their stomachs. You especially can’t ask that if you’re a guy like Christian Grey—an esteemed businessman who has trouble enough keeping his personal life out of the papers, because gossip rags will latch onto anything. Guaranteed, his stocks would take a nosedive if it got out he was into BDSM.” Sharon glances out the window. “There’s a reason he requires an NDA, and that is most assuredly part of it.”
She looks back to me. “We talked for a week before we both finally came out and admitted that we were into BDSM, and he said he was highly interested in me. When I said I was the ‘s’ in the D/s, we were both thrilled—it looked like we were opposite sides of the same coin, after all. Perfect match. I figured it’d be awesome—he was hot, after all, and he did seem prone to giving orders. I love being bossed around. Granted, he wasn’t so much bossing me around as being…pushy at the time, but I let it slide. That’s about the time he hauled out the contracts.”
She takes a big drink of beer. “My daddy always taught me to read every single line of any contract I’m handed, right down to the fine print. So I did. I took them home and read them. I brought back the NDA signed the next day, and had the clause about being allowed to talk to other subs for information circled in red pen. I wanted their names and addresses—all of them. He agreed, and gave me the list of all the ones he had,” she says.
“Why would you want to talk to the previous subs?” I interrupt softly.
“Why wouldn’t you?” Sharon replies. “The D/s contract was for three months, and a lot can happen in three months. I wanted to know just what I was getting myself into. I wasn’t signing on for a boyfriend—I was signing on for a Master, and a week or two isn’t enough to decide whether or not he’ll be decent. I wanted to talk to people who had been in those situations with him. That’s the best way to find out if he’s good at what he does.”
“I still don’t understand—why are you saying Master? The contract I read says Dominant and Submissive,” I interrupt again.
She nods, her grin lopsided. “Yeah, I know. Said it on mine, too. Again—should’ve paid attention to all of those warning signs. I gave him the D/s contract back with a lot of stuff highlighted and circled, as you’re supposed to do. List of my hard limits, wants, do not wants, that kind of thing, and also highlighted that part. Tell me—does the contract still say he controls pretty much every aspect of your life?” she asks.
“Yes—in fact, we argued a lot over whether or not he could control what I eat,” I admit.
“Then that confirms that no, it wasn’t a silly misunderstanding or an accident. He’s doing it on purpose.” She looks at me with that intense stare again. “That isn’t a Submissive contract, Ana. It’s a Slave contract. There is a huge difference, and if you do see him again, you need to call him out on it. I certainly did.” She snorts. “He put on such a surprised act, too, like he just had no idea. Again, I let it slide. I let a whole lot of shit slide.” Her expression is knowing again, and it makes me uneasy. “The things you overlook and ignore when you’re horny.”
I feel my face heat up again. How does she—it’s like she knows, or something.
She continues. “I went down the list he gave me. The first three women I talked to thought he was the berries. In fact, they said that they’d wanted the relationship to last longer than the three months, but he wouldn’t allow it. Then, I went to the fourth. She wasn’t as keen on him. She mentioned he was okay, but said he could be a little rough. But hey, I figured it was okay—I had three for him already, and just going over his hard limits and taking a look around his playroom told me that Christian Grey is pretty much a white chocolate S&M player.”
“What?” The word bursts out of me, because I can’t believe that she would call him white chocolate. I read that contract and that list, he’s—no way—
Sharon laughs. “Ana, Christian Grey is not hardcore. I’ve done bloodplay, knifeplay, sensory deprivation, two medical scenes, have fun with pervertibles during scenes and by myself, love cages, got choked to the point that I almost blacked out, and once had a session where my Dom made me piss myself. Every bit of it was enjoyable to me, and all part of the game,” she patiently explains.
I know I’m openly gawping, but I can’t help it—I can’t believe that she—I almost feel sick, knowing that the girl across from me has done all of that. I remember my research, and—holy crap, I don’t even know what pervertibles are! Frankly, I don’t want to know!
Sharon chuckles again. “Ana, do you have any experience with BDSM? Like, at all?” she asks.
I force my throat to unlock. “Not—not much. I did some research, but I’ve never…done a lot. I also apparently don’t know a lot. Christian has…” Shit, I can’t believe I’m about to start talking about my sex life to a virtual stranger. “…tied up my hands and blindfolded me, and we’re…rough. But that’s it.”
Sharon drums her fingers on the table. “You seem like a pretty innocent girl. Not to be insulting,” she adds quickly.
“I’m not insulted. You’re right,” I admit.
“Well, all the more reason why you shouldn’t sign that contract,” Sharon sighs. “But I’m getting ahead of myself. We need to go back to the other subs—the ones I talked to.
“I got in contact with two others, and they were both fine with him, too. They weren’t crazy about him like the first three, but they didn’t have anything really bad to say about him—though I did get another person saying he tended to be pushy. Again, I brushed it off. These girls didn’t seem to be as into it as I was, so I agreed to a second appointment with Christian to go over the contract with him this time.” She closes her eyes, shaking her head. “That second meeting is when I should’ve known this wasn’t going to go well.”
Her eyes snap open when we both hear the waitress approaching our table. Yvonne is back with our lunches, and she sets a delicious-looking salad in front of Sharon, but her salad is nothing compared to my burger, I decide. Holy crap, that smells amazing. I can’t wait to eat this. I waste no time in digging in, squirting out a little blob of ketchup for my fries and taking a healthy bite out of my burger. I think I could die right now with no regrets.
“I’ve never had the teriyaki burger,” Sharon remarks as she dresses her salad. “How is it?”
“‘Mazing,” I slur, my mouth still full as I chew. That’s rude, but I don’t care.
She grins. “It does smell good. But I’m a creature of habit—I almost always order the beef salad or the Katsu chicken when I come here.” She picks an onion out of her salad and pops it into her mouth before using her fork and spoon to start tossing it.
I swallow and add, “I can’t believe the pineapple they put on this thing mixes so well with everything on the burger.”
We eat in silence for a few minutes, just enjoying the meal and, strangely enough, each other’s company. I am a little startled to realize that I am enjoying her company. Despite my initial jealousy, she’s just…she’s nice. She’s unbelievably kinky—kinkier than even Christian Grey, and I didn’t think that was possible—but she’s nice and sweet and makes me feel so comfortable. Already I’m wondering if maybe we should exchange numbers or something, because I wouldn’t mind meeting her for lunch again. Or just having a phone conversation.
“Question,” she asks, getting my attention. “You wanna wait to finish the conversation? You looked a little green around the gills when I mentioned my kinks, and I don’t want to put you off your food. We can talk about movies instead—I recently saw Thor and Rango, so if you’d rather talk about how awesome Loki was or discuss Johnny Depp as Hunter S. Thompson as an animated chameleon, I understand completely.”
I chew, contemplating her question. I certainly didn’t want to talk soft limits last night over dinner with Christian…then again, being around Christian makes my stomach knot up to the point that I don’t want to eat anything, sick or not. Sharon makes talking about kink over lunch seem…well, not normal, but bearable.
“No, you can keep talking about…this. Though if you can, try to soften the blows.” I pause, realizing what I said. “Excusing the pun.”
She giggles. “I’ll do my best, but remember, I like it really rough and so often forget.” She takes another bite before continuing her story.
“So, like I said, I went back for a second meeting so we could go over the contract together. I figured it was for clarifications or something, or maybe he couldn’t read my handwriting. Known to happen. When we start talking, though, I knew it wasn’t for that.” She pokes at the salad in front of her. “I agreed to almost everything on that list—I was actually looking forward to some of it more than I usually do, particularly the parts about being told what to eat and drink and wear. I’m not poor, but I’m not some kind of rich bitch, so getting to live like a queen for three months and eat fancy food and drink expensive wine and wear some seriously nice clothes? That was gonna rock. The personal trainer thing didn’t bug me—I already worked out twice a week and still do, so adding an extra day or two along with said trainer wouldn’t be much difference. Again, might be an improvement. However, there was something I didn’t want. I hate anything anal.”
I blush—I can’t help it. She’s so frank about it, so blunt. She doesn’t dance around the word at all.
She goes on. “In fact, it’s so bad that that is the only part I dread about my physicals. The Pap smear is no problem—in fact, it’s awesome. Doesn’t help that my doctor is a very no-nonsense man who looks fabulous for his age…” She shakes herself. “Sorry, digression. Anyway, the only part of the exam I hate is when he’s gotta, you know…” She makes a prodding motion with her fingers. “Stick a finger up there. I hate it.” She chuckles a little. “It ruins the mood.”
I can’t help but laugh a little with her.
“So, I made that a hard limit and I underlined it. I always make it clear that anything anal is out. I don’t want anything up there, from a dildo to beads to my partner’s dick. You can slap my butt all you want, but you can’t get in it. Christian…didn’t like that. In fact, he started fussing about it,” she went on. “I should’ve immediately known that was bad—when a Dom or a Master starts complaining about your hard limits and what you don’t allow and starts trying to make you change your mind, that’s a warning sign.”
“Why?” I ask.
“Because if he starts arguing with you and demanding something you don’t want over, say, dinner, you can keep saying no. You can get up and walk away.” The hard look is back. “You can’t do that when you're gagged and bound to a table.”
I swallow hard, feeling a cold shiver go down my spine. The implications she just made are…I’m not sure if I want her to continue or not.
“We argued, and he tried to lecture me on what the word ‘submission’ means. I told him that the definition of the word ‘submission’ and the definition of the word ‘submissive’ in terms of BDSM are two very different things. I made it clear that I was not some kind of first-timer to this particular rodeo, informed him that just because I don’t like anal doesn’t mean that he’s somehow magically kinkier than I am because he loves it. I reminded him that, as the sub—or slave, rather, as I made him correct the contract—I first outline every single rule and thing he can’t do to me, and then once I sign, we go from there. I only sign away the rights I want to sign away, and I told him he’d better respect my right to my own ass. He agreed, but very, very grudgingly. In fact, he was downright mad that I had made him concede to my wishes.”
She pauses, setting down her fork and taking off her glasses to rub her eyes a little tiredly. “Again, so many warning signs, but I was horny, I figured it’d only be for three months…I wasn’t thinking. It was dumb and I know it.”
“Well, if it makes you feel better, I—I didn’t even think to…talk to the other subs. In fact, I didn’t want to,” I throw out there.
She smiles kindly. “I don’t think you’re stupid, Ana. Just naïve. There’s a difference.” She drinks her beer. “We negotiated a few other things. One of the other things I asked about was what he’d be ordering me to do first thing, and he announced that one of his first orders would be for me to sell that junker of mine so he could give me a much better car. His words, not mine.” Sharon looked pissed just thinking about it.
“I told him exactly what he could do with that, and said that selling my car was officially a hard limit and there would be no negotiations on it. I just sat there and stared out the window the whole time he tried to talk to me and tell me to ‘be reasonable’, pretending he wasn’t even saying a word. He eventually agreed—again, though, he was mad. After that, it just fine-tuning the contract, but eventually I found it satisfactory to my wishes and, after we both did our obligatory STD testing, I signed on the dotted line. The second we both put down our pens, I was in slave mode. I asked him what he wished of me, when he desired to begin, kept my head down, all that good stuff. He told me we’d do our first session that night, and gave me permission to go home with strict orders to arrive back at his place at six-thirty for dinner and dessert.”
The story has to pause again when Yvonne shows up to refill our drinks. Sharon declines the offer for another beer but asked for another water while I get my second Coke. After we get our drinks, Sharon picks up again as if there’s been no interruption.
“I was prompt, because that’s what you do. He had dinner waiting, and I showed him that I was very good at what I did. I asked permission to eat, he gave it, and things were going great. I was enjoying myself. After we ate, though, we went to the playroom. And that is where I had my first and last session with Christian Grey,” she says grimly.
“You only saw him once?” I ask, a little stunned.
“One day. That is how long our little relationship lasted.”
“Did he end it after the session?”
Sharon snorts. “Like hell—I ended it. And this is why. We started pretty standard, but then he announced he wanted some suspension play. I went with it, letting him ball-gag me because I’m into that. I won’t give you the gory details and all of that, but, to put it simply, I got tied up, and then he started hoisting and tightening the ropes. And by hoisting and tightening, I mean he damn near ripped my arm out of its socket.”
I stare at her in horror, my mouth agape and my meal forgotten.
It’s her. Just last night, Christian off-handedly mentioned that he’d hurt someone with suspension. But he’d told me…he’d told me it was a long time ago. And the way he’d talked about it, he’d made it out like it was nothing, just an accident…
Sharon continues, her voice quiet. “I was gagged, so I couldn’t say the safe word. I started using hand signals instead—we worked those out. And he…paid no attention to them at all. After that, he started doing the usual. He was whipping me, using the riding crop—he hauled out a cane…basically did a lot of beating. But the beating didn’t bug me—what he said did. He kept saying that I was his, and I was going to obey. I was too defiant, and he didn’t like that in his slaves. So he was correcting my behavior and punishing me. Punishing me for being defiant, and showing me what happens to those who don’t obey him in all things. He reminded me that I existed for his pleasure, and so I had better get used to it. And when that was over, he took one of his toys and…essentially threatened to push it up my butt. I won’t go into details, because you look sick enough as it is.”
I can’t seem to get my voice to work to thank her for pausing her story, because yes, I do feel sick. I can’t seem to comprehend what she’s saying—the idea, the notion…Christian’s blasé and shorthand version of what happened had horrified me enough, but now that I know details…and how can she possibly be so calm about it?! The way she is talking about it, it's like it hasn’t affected her at all! And this was barely a year ago?!
After I get my breathing under control (and stop looking so pale, I imagine), she continues. “He kept me like that for twenty minutes. He sat on the bed and watched me, masturbating the whole time, then he finished himself off by using me. Once it was done, he untied me and let me down. I stayed quiet because my arm was killing me, and I knew better than to start being aggressive and violent when he clearly had the upper hand. He didn’t do much aftercare for me, and then told me which room was mine and sent me to bed.” She stirs her salad. “I waited until I knew he was asleep before sneaking out. I drove straight to the ER because I knew something had happened in there. I thought maybe he dislocated it. Yeah, he dislocated it, all right—and tore one of my damn ligaments. I had to have surgery to fix it.”
She lapses into silence then, just calmly eating what was left of her salad while I just stare at her, trying to wrap my brain around the idea…the image…the everything of what I’ve just been told.
Christian told me he’d hurt a submissive. At the time, I’d thought it…I don’t know, good that he’d told me. I thought that meant he wasn’t keeping secrets. That this was a honest relationship. I thought he was just mysterious. I like mysteries. But this…this isn’t a mystery. This is keeping secrets. This is…I know what it is. It’s lying. Christian lied to me by omission.
And you never thought to ask or dig deeper, my subconscious sneers at me, her “I told you so” voice loud and clear. My inner goddess is currently hiding in a corner, unable to even protest or feebly defend herself. I have zero desire to defend Christian. In fact, I don’t have any desire for him at all right now. Just thinking about him is making my skin crawl. He did that to the nice girl sitting across from me…he did all of that…
Just thinking about that happening to me, someone who isn’t experienced, makes me feel sick again. I think I’m going to have to get a to-go box for my burger at this point.
“They set my arm that night at the ER, but I had to make a follow-up appointment for the surgery,” Sharon continues quietly. “I was at home when he called me. I didn’t answer—I wanted nothing more to do with him, and so I did what I always do when I am making it clear that I’m done with someone: I blocked his number. No more calls. So, he emailed me instead. I deleted them and ignored them. Finally…the day before my surgery, he showed up at my front door.”
I’m shocked when she smiles. “My brother was taking care of me at the time, so he was the one who answered the door. Greg tells me that Christian’s face was hilarious—my brother is 6’7” and plays rugby as a hobby. He offered to kick Christian’s ass, but I said no. I let him in, and told Greg to stay with me. I value my safety, especially when I’m facing down someone who just hurt me so bad I need surgery.
"So, first thing Christian starts demanding is why I left. I tell him exactly why, and inform him that the relationship is over. Contract violated, we’re done, I don’t want to see him anymore. His response? To blame me. He told me he couldn’t tell I was in pain, and I should’ve been clearer in my hand signals, and that it won’t happen again. He also had the nerve to say that I wasn’t honest with him. He accused me of over-estimating my limits. Basically, he was trying to say he was just too extreme for me. Yes, I'm the lightweight. He won’t even give his subs a bloody lip.”
She sets her fork down, her plate finally empty. “That’s called victim-blaming, Ana, and I do not put up with it. Ever. I told him so, and said we were done. I told him to get out, and if he tried to contact me again, I’d have Greg break his legs.” She smiled. “And then I showed him that I’d recorded our conversation on my phone, so I had plenty of evidence to make it clear that I wasn’t interested in harassment and had made it quite clear that I didn’t want him near me. That, Ana is my experience with Christian Grey as my Master. I just want to try and make sure that the same thing doesn’t happen to you.”
Sharon gives me a very sympathetic look. “You okay, Ana? Still with me?”
I nod, my mouth dry. I’m with her. I am definitely with her.
“There’s one other thing you should know. The last thing that makes Christian Grey bad news,” Sharon suddenly says.
“There’s more?” I whisper, unable to believe that there can possibly be more. What, is Sharon going to tell me he has a body in his basement?
“Yes, I’m afraid so,” she says, reaching across the table and patting my hand. “When I was talking with the previous subs, there was something bothering me every time I met a new one. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but it was just a niggle in the back of my head. I finally figured it out when I was sitting in the hospital, waiting for them to wheel me into surgery. I guess the tranquilizer they put me on made me lucid or something. It was…that all of the subs? Every single one of them?” She lifts her hand and starts ticking off her fingers. “Shoulder-length brown hair. Dark eyes—brown or dark blue. Pale skin. No blemishes. Softer build. Relatively short. Early twenties. We all look alike, Ana. Christian has a type. I don’t know why he likes it, but that’s what he goes for.”
I keep my eyes on the table, trying not to cry now. Everything Christian said to me now just…all of his lines about how he just had to have me, how he couldn’t get enough of me, how I was unique, how he’d broken all of the rules with me…
They’re all tainted now. Because I know I’m not. I’m just his type.
No, I’m not just his type. I’m defiant. I remember what he said to me. And what Sharon just told me…she was defiant, too. And it nearly got her arm torn off.
“Ana? Hey—you still with me? We need to leave?”
Sharon’s voice is soft and soothing. I swallow hard, squeezing my eyes shut. I shake my head. “No,” I manage. “No, just…just give me a second. It’s…”
“A lot to take in,” she finishes for me. “I understand. I’m sorry I had to be the one to tell you all of this.”
“Don’t be sorry,” I say fiercely. “Better you tell me than me never knowing it at all.”
“I suppose so.”
Sharon doesn’t talk, letting me quietly compose myself and try to come to grips with the fact that I just found out I was being…conned. That is really the only word for it. While I’m struggling to get a grip, the waitress comes back to take our plates.
“Need a to-go box?” she asks, and I know she’s talking to me, but I can’t speak.
“Yes,” Sharon answers for me. “And could I get a chocolate haupia? Bring two forks.”
“Of course.” Yvonne vanishes again, taking Sharon’s plate with her.
“I’m not sure I can eat anything else,” I mumble.
“It’s fine if you can’t. But chocolate is the best comfort food,” Sharon shrugs. “And the chocolate haupia is to die for.”
“I just…” I swallow, blinking rapidly to avoid crying. “I can’t believe this happened to me. I—I’ve never even been interested in a guy before Christian. I’ve never dated, never done anything when it comes to guys, and my first everything has to be…him.”
I feel Sharon squeezing my hand again. “It’s okay. Nobody ever expects it to happen to them. I mean, I didn’t expect it to happen to me.”
“Dammit,” I mutter, sniffing a little. “First José, now this.”
“José?” Sharon asks, curious.
“Nothing, long story, just…what do you think I should do?” I sigh, because I don’t know what to do.
“Well, break it off with him, if you want my advice,” Sharon says bluntly.
“I don’t know if I can,” I confess. “When I get around him, he—that’s why he said he went after me, you know. He said I looked like a natural sub. When I get around him, I just…fold. I already have a tendency to let people walk all over me, but—”
“Hon, I’m gonna stop you right there and set you straight—a tendency to let others walk all over you is not the same thing as being a natural submissive and Christian Grey needs to be kicked in the nads for even suggesting it,” Sharon says firmly, startling me a little. “Take me—do I look like I let people walk all over me?”
I shake my head.
“Thank you,” Sharon says. “I like to think I don’t, and yet I am seriously into the slave lifestyle. No—meek and mild does not a submissive make. In fact, I personally think a sub needs a stronger backbone than the Dom, because the sub is the one who says no. The sub is the one who sets the rules and says exactly how it’s gonna be.” She smiles. “But that’s just my opinion. I know it’s not a universal rule. There are no universal rules when it comes to things like sex, kink, and fetishes.”
There’s a pause, and I ask, “So you really think I should…not see him?”
“Absolutely. He’s bad news. He’s a terrible Dom. Hell, he can hardly be called a Dom at all—he’s just abusive. I’m already considering having him blacklisted on forums, forget the NDA. I don’t want to see anybody brought to ruin or anything like that, but after what he did to me and seeing what he was going to do to you—I don’t even know what he already has done to you. He needs to be stopped. I value saving more women like you from him over his precious career.”
I nod absently, looking down at the table again. Sharon thinks I should break it off, and frankly, so do I. Kate hasn’t exactly been keen about him, either. But…he doesn’t take ‘no’ very well. I can’t imagine calling him up or emailing him to tell him that I think our relationship should be over. After all, I emailed him as a joke that I didn’t agree and he—
I poke a fry around in my ketchup. When I had that sex, I thought it was amazing. Now, it doesn't seem so great. Now that my hormones are quiet and I have new facts, my head is clear. I jokingly said no-go on the relationship, so he…broke into my apartment, tied me up, and—
It no longer sounds like kinky, playful sex now. Now I can’t believe I had it. And I sincerely wish I hadn’t.
“I should tell him it’s over, I’m not signing, and I don’t want to see him anymore,” I say quietly. I meet Sharon’s gaze. “But I don’t know how. I want to do it, but…he’s pushy, and he scares me.”
“Take someone else with you,” Sharon offers. “Does Kate take a lot of crap from people? She seemed pretty protective of you when I was asking for you at the door.”
“No, Kate wouldn’t take anything from Christian, but I don’t think I should take someone else. It’s a private matter, after all.”
Sharon snorts. “Ana, Christian scares you. Don’t do this alone. Don’t put on a big macho act because you have to be a strong woman and turn down the abusive guy on your own. After all, I had my brother with me when I told him to hit the road. Just because you’re taking support with you doesn’t make you weak or something—it makes you smart, because you’re taking precautions. If you know yourself well enough to know you might cave and know him well enough to know that he won’t take your ‘no’ seriously and might try to…persuade you to change your mind, take company with you. Believing in safety in numbers is not something to be ashamed of.”
Not something to be ashamed of. Sharon doesn’t want me to be ashamed. She wants me to be comfortable. It’s kind of amazing, really—I realize that for her to tell me not to be ashamed of something is pretty serious. After all, this is someone who just openly admitted to…to peeing on herself in front of someone else without batting an eyelash, like it was just something she did and enjoyed. I can’t imagine doing that. But she did, and is telling me not to be ashamed of something.
So I’m not going to be.
I sit up a little straighter in my chair. “I’ll take Kate with me,” I say firmly. “We’ll meet him in a restaurant. Public place—that’s safer.”
“Smart move,” Sharon agrees. “Don’t let him decide for you where you’re going. You pick the location, and make sure he understands that.”
“I will,” I say, infusing my voice with more conviction, but I can already feel myself caving. “But what do I do if he refuses to accept my wishes? He’s…already done that before.”
Sharon’s gaze darkens when I admit that. “That’s when you threaten him with legal action. Don’t be afraid to tell him you’ll call the cops or expose his proclivities to the world. Don’t let him back you into a corner because he’s got money. God knows he loves trying to convince you how powerful and wonderful he is just because he’s got a massive bank account. It doesn’t work that way—you’ve got plenty of evidence against him.”
We’re interrupted once more when dessert and my to-go box arrive, and I have to admit, even with my diminished appetite, it looks amazing. It looks like some kind of chocolate crème pie. I take the fork when Sharon offers it to me, setting it aside and slowly packing my burger into the Styrofoam container.
“Okay,” I say slowly. “I can try to do that. With Kate with me, it’ll be easier. Actually…” I trail off, an idea sparking in my head. “I have…a request.”
“Of me?” Sharon asks.
“Yeah. I don’t want to, but…I mean, I really, really hate to ask…I don’t want to put you out. I don’t—”
“I’ll go with you,” Sharon interrupts lightly, twirling her fork in her fingers.
I blink. How did she know…
“I will,” Sharon repeats. “Two women against one guy is good odds, but three against one is even better. Can’t hurt.” She smiles.
Though I’m still dreading the prospect of having to tell Christian Grey that we’re over, knowing that Sharon will be there somehow makes me feel infinitely better. I don’t know why it should—she’s practically a stranger. But…still, she was someone who did say no, so having someone that I know can tell Christian Grey where to stick it is just better.
“Thank you,” I say in a small voice.
“Don’t mention it. Now here.” She pushes the small plate towards me. “Try that.”
I do as I’m told, getting a small bite onto my fork and slowly eating it.
“Holy crap, that’s good,” I exclaim.
Sharon smiles. “I know. Go ahead and eat as much as you want.”
Just a regular, casual statement—she’s telling me to eat up. She’s not ordering me to eat. It’s an offer as much as anything.
The second bite somehow tastes like freedom.