A bottle of ethanol, a lighter, candles, a torch, balm, four sections of nylon rope, two large flame-retardant blankets, a weighted blanket, and last but not least, a knife.
Her lips purse as she stiffens by the bag. The worst thing that could happen is that I scare her off. I’ve never wanted anything more than I want this right now.
“Don’t be scared,” I tell her softly with a bit of humor I know will challenge her.
“I’m not,” she bites back, even though she is. I can see it.
“If you could supply a bucket of ice, I think you’ll be grateful for that.”
At my words, she turns her head slowly toward me.
“What exactly is this?” she asks softly, backing away from the bag.
“I’m going to show you.”
Her eyes move to the digital clock and she says, “Eight fourteen…”
“We’ll start the clock at eight if you’d like,” is all I offer her.
When I stand up, the coffee table now repositioned, her arms are crossed and she’s staring down at the bag.
“Your reluctance is understandable, but I promise you, you want this.” My last word hisses in the air, the tempting snake that led Eve to the apple.
“I want at least one question answered first,” she tells me, lifting her gaze from the bag to meet my own.
“What kind of business is done at The Red Room?” she asks and a glimmer of a smile pulls at my lips.
“Once you’re tied up with your hands behind your head, I’ll allow you to ask the question again, and I’ll answer it completely.”
The skepticism is there, the hesitation, but slowly she stands tall and leaves the living room, heading to the kitchen. Presumably she’s getting the ice.
I lay down the first flame-retardant blanket and leave the second within reach.
Beth makes her way back into the room holding a glass wine decanter filled with ice. “I don’t have an ice bucket,” she admits to me while I’m still on my knees, fixing the corner of the blanket.
“You nervous?” I ask her, reaching for the decanter.
“You fucking know I am.” She rushes her words like she can’t get them out fast enough, and a deep, rough chuckle leaves me.
“I’m going to need you naked for this,” I tell her as I set the ice down next to the folded-up blanket.
“Of course you are,” she says skeptically, turning away from me and breathing out deep as she shakes out her hands.
“If you want to stop, it stops. I’ll learn your limits. You’ll still get your answers and your debt paid.” I start with addressing her logical concerns, but move to the other side of her thoughts. “The exotic becomes the erotic. Have you ever heard of that?” I ask her.
“I understand temperature play and that this is meant to be …” she trails off and swallows as she turns to face me, her features riddled with a mix of nervousness and fear. “Why like this?”
“Because I crave this,” I admit to her without thinking twice. “It soothes a part of me that isn’t easily kept at bay. I will enjoy every second of this. It’s worth more to me than secrets and a debt.” I didn’t realize how much I needed this, how much I coveted her body beneath mine as I brought out the most intense reactions from her until those words were spoken.
Her eyes close and her body trembles.
“Does this excite you?” I ask her and when I do, her hands move under the hem of her baggy shirt, to the top of her sweatpants and she slowly pushes them down, stepping out of them and then opening her eyes.
Her lips part slightly, ready to answer. But she closes herself off, shutting her mouth and balling her hands into fists at her side. Clearing her throat, she looks away and I remind her, “I’ll answer your question tonight, the single question. But after tonight, it’s tit for tat. Tonight is so you can see what I want.”
She nods her head once and then again, standing only feet from me in nothing but her socks and a t-shirt. “Yes, it excites me,” she finally answers and as she does, the radiator kicks on behind her, making her jump slightly.
“And it scares you?” I ask, although it’s more of a statement. She doesn’t waste a second to answer, nodding furiously.
“I don’t like not being in control. Tied up and…” She doesn’t finish her thought, and swallows thickly.
“You’re thinking too much,” I tell her and her gaze narrows. All the jitters leave her in that instant and I have to smile. “There you go, just remember how much you hate me and this should be easy.”
With her lips pressed in a thin line, she removes her socks first and then reaches behind her back to unhook her bra, revealing a simple white cotton bra with no lace, no frills, no padding.