For more years that he could count, Julian Stephen Atkinson had struggled under the colossal carapace of his self-restraint. He had only a hazy, stuttered memory of what life was like before he had cinched himself up tight, but it was clear enough to live in mortal fear of the consequences of failing to do so.
And now this pretty little thing sat across from him, with her apple-red lips, her snow-white skin and her retro, arrowhead spiked collar. She blinked golden-green eyes up at him through a mesh of dark lashes and welled up with an intense sincerity.
“You shouldn’t be ashamed of who you are or what you want,” she said, in a voice that quavered with emotion.
One substantial tear slipped down her cheek and dropped, perfect and pearl-like into her crantini.
What a waste, he thought, watching the tear disperse into the pale pink liquid.
Was she crying for him or for herself? Or was it just that the pathos of the moment overwhelmed her? Perhaps this was not her first crantini or her second. He tried to care which it was, but failed, distracted by the subsequent tear that was carving a track down her delicately powdered cheek and defying gravity along the underside of her jaw line.
There was a time when it would have visibly cost him not to reach across the table, capture the tear on his fingertip and suck it off. But he was older now and he’d made a kind of peace with his urges. Now he simply wondered why the collar couldn’t be worn reversed so he could circle a hand around her pretty throat and squeeze. The subsequent bleeding, he imagined, would stripe her neck in the most attractive way.
She, it transpired, was a spanking aficionado.
Julian pondered the likelihood of a compromise.