Fantasy Reclaimed

By Gem Larkspur


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11 mins

Chapter 1

… The pounding surf is dark gray-green under a lowering sky. Heavy clouds roil and heave in unison with the waves. The cold sand is packed hard from the retreating tide. I pick up my pace, running faster. Trying to outrace the storm. There’s someone else on the beach. The dim figure races toward me becoming larger, more distinct. It’s a man. A large man with ice green eyes. He reaches me…
… the tide surges in. A wave grabs me and drags me down the beach. I cry out, reaching for the man. He isn’t smiling. His eyes are arctic cold as he turns away…
Beast! I wake with a start, my face wet with tears. For a moment, I’m confused, thinking I’m back on the island. My brain clears and I can make out my bedroom in the dim light of pre-dawn. Crap. Another dream. They were really bad when I first got back from the island last May. It’s been weeks since the last one. I thought they were gone. That I was finally getting over him. Knowing I won’t get back to sleep, I climb out of bed and find my workout clothes. Some heavy sweating in my basement gym will even me out and get me ready to face the day.
To my surprise, I feel good. I’ve been miserable for so long, I’d forgotten I could feel good. I’m breathing hard. Sweat soaks through my athletic bra and tank top and saturates my running shorts. Jon’s a stride and a half ahead of me as we pass the Jones Point Lighthouse and turn toward the Wilson Bridge.
It’s a beautiful, early October morning. The sauna-like heat and humidity of the Washington, D.C. summer has broken. The Potomac is a deep blue-green. The sky is high and azure blue with a few fluffy clouds. The Capitol dome glows brightly on the horizon as we clear the bridge and reach the multi-million dollar townhouses that front the river. The endorphins kicked in a mile ago and I’m flying. I feel like I could run forever. The Mt. Vernon trail leaves the riverfront for the streets of Old Town Alexandria. Jon slows and I follow. It’s only a couple of blocks to our favorite coffee shop.
I can’t believe how good I feel. It’s been over four months since the island. I’ve spent most of the time crawling out of the depression I fell into after I left the man I know only as ‘Beast.’ Or more accurately, he left me. Asleep. Without a word. Just an offer to buy another ‘date’ from me passed along by that creep Luther.
“Stop it.” Jon shakes my arm, interrupting my rapidly disintegrating mood.
“Stop what?” I reply with my best ‘innocent’ expression.
Jon scowls, “You were thinking about him. Again.”
Jon knows me so well. He’s pretty much the only person who can tell when I’m lying. I try anyway, “I was not.”
Jon frowns at me, “You promised.”
“I promised to get my head out of my butt and stop moping,” I remind him. If I could simply decide to stop thinking about Beast, I would have done it back in May. “I’m doing pretty well. I was feeling great on the run. I’m glad we started up again.”
I’m not a natural athlete. I do love the endorphin rush of a good workout, and that regular exercise keeps me healthy and looking good. If I stick to a clean diet and regular training, I’ll look as good in ten years as I do now at twenty-seven. During the steamy summer months, I mostly work out in the basement of the townhouse that holds my art gallery and small apartment. For the past few weeks, since the weather turned, Jon and I have been running in the mornings before I open the gallery. It was Jon’s idea and I’m glad he pushed.
Jon holds open the door to the coffee shop as he remarks, “I don’t know how you can stand to run indoors.”
Jon can run in any weather. The heat index can be north of three digits Fahrenheit or in the single digits and Jon will be out there.
“I’m not a fan of heat stroke or frostbite,” I smile, getting into line and snagging a chilled bottle of water. It’s almost gone when we reach the register.
“Large skim cappuccino and an extra-large raspberry chocolate full fat latte?” The barista asks. Yeah, we’re creatures of habit and the baristas know us well.
“You know it,” Jon answers her as he skims his card through the reader. It’s his turn to buy.
My empty water bottle finds the recycling bin as our drinks are called. I shake cinnamon onto my coffee and wait while Jon sprinkles a pinch of sugar on my cinnamon. As I take a cautious sip, Jon dumps the rest of the packet and a second one into the rich dessert he calls coffee. I so envy him.
Jon is four inches taller than my five-five height and as slender as a willow reed. He has light brown hair, blue eyes and the face of an angel. I suspect I outweigh him, although I’ll never admit it. He can and does put away enough calories for a rugby team and never gains an ounce. I’d hate him if I didn’t love him. And I do love him dearly. He’s my oldest friend and he’s totally gone on me. It would be great except that the willful twit between my legs wants no part of him. No, ‘twit’ isn’t a bad pun. I misheard the real word when I was thirteen and then later, well, I have certain word inhibitions, even in my own head. So ‘twit’ it is.
Lately, twit hasn’t been interested in anything male except my unruly memories of Beast. And there she goes. ‘Twit’ stuck for more than one reason. There’s no question, twit is definitely the whore Beast thinks I am. Yeah, that’s sort of a problem. Because I was. Once. For four days. That’s how I met Beast.
Last spring, I thought my gallery was finally taking off and became overly confident in my art purchases. It would probably have been okay except I got taken by a scam artist on a major piece and I was suddenly in a thirty thousand dollar hole. Since the townhouse is already mortgaged to the max, and my car is barely worth the price of its parts, I was at risk of bankruptcy. I needed cash and needed it fast. Jon has all sorts of connections through his artwork. He set me up to spend a long weekend as a high-priced whore at a BDSM fantasy camp. Well, technically a professional submissive. Except that generally means some training and skill of which I had neither.
It seemed like a good idea at the time. It would be only the one guy. I could save my gallery and discover if the kinky sex I’d fantasized about was any good. It was all anonymous. The man I knew as Beast knew me as Sapphire. It didn’t work out quite as I planned. Oh, I got the money. The sex was amazing. I also fell for the forty-something twisted rich dude who’s only interested in me as a hired submissive.
“Moping alert,” Jon intones. “Mo-ping!”
Jon’s right. “You’re right, sorry.”
“You know, maybe you should have taken Luther up on one of his offers,” Jon suggests.
What? I choke, gag and my mouthful of pricey coffee spews onto the Old Town cobblestones. He did not just say that. “Are you nuts?”
Luther’s the ‘Managing Director’ for the island club where I met Beast. Yes, he’s the pimp. Luther hounded me for weeks afterwards to ‘entertain’ at another event. ‘Entertain’ is his euphemism for whoring. Not that I find anything intrinsically wrong with the concept of sex for money. I think prostitution should be legal and regulated. It would protect the prostitutes and the customers, and increase the tax base. More importantly, law enforcement could concentrate on taking down the scumbags involved in the ugly and growing business of forced sex trafficking.
No, the problem is that I wanted what happened between Beast and me to be about more than money. I thought we had a connection. Stupid me. He left me without a word and passed a request for a return engagement through Luther, the man Beast considers my pimp.
“Well you won’t try the local BDSM clubs,” Jon reminds me as he hands me a napkin. “So you don’t know if it’s really this Beast dude you’re into or the kinky sex. The island’s safe enough and it’s anonymous.”
“Jon, we’ve discussed this.” We have. “I can’t imagine doing what I did with Beast with one of those other Lords.”
Lords. Yep. The filthy rich guys are pretty high on themselves. Lord wealthy. Lord horny. Lord Beast. A few of them were kind of attractive for all the gray hair. Beast was the only one I considered ‘hot.’
“That was months ago,” Jon’s referring to my refusal to entertain Luther’s offers. “Are you sure you still feel that way?”
Of course, I do. “Jon, we’ve been over this. Why would today be different?”
“Maybe because the last time we discussed this you were clawing your way out of a hellacious case of sub-drop?” Jon snarks.
Not this again. “Jon, that has nothing to do with it.”
“How would you know?” Jon fires back. “You didn’t even know what sub-drop was. Those novels of yours are pretty useless.”
“That’s not true!” I defend myself and my kinky reading habits. Those novels gave me sufficient information to pass the screening for the island, but not the training to come through the experience unscathed. “I’d read about sub-drop. I just didn’t think of it in terms of me.”
Sub-drop is something that can happen to a submissive after an intense scene. The heightened emotions, intense physical sensations and powerful, often multiple, orgasms release a huge number of endorphins. The high can be incredible. It can even create a sense of euphoria known as sub-space. The crash when the endorphins fade is proportionally as deep as the high. A good Dominant knows this and helps ease the submissive down. My four days were so intense I didn’t really start to drop until the day after. I was so depressed when I got back from the island that I was crying all the time and could barely function. Jon was beside himself when he realized what was going on. And really pissed at Beast.
“That Beast of yours damn well should have thought about it!” Jon is still pissed at Beast. “Which, is another reason you need to find another Dom, someone responsible enough to take decent care of you.”
“Beast took care of me,” I insist as I have before. Yeah, he broke my heart, but it’s not really his fault. “It’s not his fault that I didn’t understand he was only acting responsibly. That I thought those times he took care of me meant something more.”
“Bullshit,” Jon gets a mouth on him when he’s pissed and he’s been protective of me since we met as adolescents. “Dude’s clearly an experienced Dom. Any idiot could have seen you were a rookie. He should have done better.”
What Jon means is that Jon would have done better. Yeah, that was my biggest surprise of all. Jon and I have been friends since we were twelve. He knows everything about me. I only found out after the island that he’s been in the lifestyle for years. He’s a switch, which means he can go sub or Dom depending on the circumstances and the other players. In his mind, it makes him an expert on the D/s dynamic.
“Jon, this isn’t going anywhere,” I say as gently as I can. “I don’t want to be with Beast as a who-”
At Jon’s glower, I stop myself. Fine, whatever, “Professional submissive, and that’s the only way he wants me. I can’t see doing the D/s thing with any of the other Lords I met on the island. So the island’s out even if Luther was still calling, which he isn’t.”
“And you don’t want to go to the clubs because you can’t risk the exposure and what it would do to the gallery,” Jon repeats the discussion we’ve had for weeks.
“I’m still open to having you fix me up,” I remind Jon as I unlock the back entrance to my townhouse.
“I’ll keep looking.” Jon gives me a quick hug and a kiss on my cheek in goodbye.
For a minute, I stand on the threshold and watch Jon disappear around the corner. I’m not optimistic. I trust Jon and he won’t suggest anyone he doesn’t trust. We’ve even discussed having Jon monitor so I wouldn’t be alone the first time. So far, he hasn’t found a candidate. I’m not sure he can bring himself to watch me with someone else.
Which leaves me where I’ve been for the past five months. Pretty much nowhere.

Chapter 2

Chapter 2
My cell phone warbles jazz piano as I close the door. A quick glance identifies the caller as Beth Miller, Old Town’s top interior designer and a friend I made through St. Stephen’s art show over a year ago. At the moment she’s all business, “Sweetie, I’m sorry for the short notice. Can you open a half hour early today? I’ve got a new client who wants to check out some of your pieces.”
“Sure, Beth. No problem. I’ll see you then.” I’m running up the stairs as I ring off. The converted townhouse holds my gallery on the first two levels. Storage is on the third floor and my attic apartment is on the fourth. The basement holds the gym equipment that I bypassed in favor of today’s run with Jon. Usually, I run up the stairs for the exercise. Now I’m racing because I’ve got barely twenty-five minutes before I need to open.
There was no way I was putting Beth off. The gallery does all right from walk-in trade. Old Town Alexandria gets a lot of tourist traffic. But those are mostly small purchases – prints of oils, small watercolors, that sort of thing. The big money comes from the high-end of the market, which comes from the high-end interior designers. The Washington D.C. area is home to a small, insular, and very well-heeled crowd of influence peddlers, lobbyists and assorted carpetbaggers who use Beth, and those like her, to decorate their plush offices and homes.
It was Beth who brought in Riviera Woman, as we call the scam artist who almost put me into bankruptcy. Beth’s been trying to make it up to me ever since.
As soon as I reach the fourth floor and my apartment, I start peeling out of my sweaty running clothes. I’m out of my tank and bra by the time I cross the living room/kitchen. I’m kicking out of my shoes as I enter the bedroom. Four steps later the shorts are on the bathroom floor and the shower is warming.
I take a quick look in the mirror as I peel the elastic tie out of my hair. Definitely not a super model, but thanks to my regular workouts I’ve got good muscle tone, a tight tummy (I so hate ab work) and an okay butt. It’s a little long and round, but it’s well-toned. Nice enough tits. Not porn star, but not mosquito bites either. There are definitely curves under the light olive skin that is a gift from my maternal grandfather. He gave me his dark brown, almost black eyes, too.
My confused, delusional mother gifted me with a face that looks like it should be gracing some Italianate painting of a Madonna and my birth name, Seraphim. I think she was looking for an esoteric version of Angel when she selected Seraphim. Since it’s the plural of Seraph, I wound up as Heavenly Host. Needless to say, I changed it as soon as I legally could. These days Jon’s the only one who knows this, and he calls me Phim.
My shoulder length hair is lank with sweat when I pull it free. Clean, it is full, wavy and a glossy walnut brown. That’s medium dark brown. Although thanks to Jon’s harassment, I’ve spent enough time in the sun this summer to streak it with blonde highlights. It will go dark again by New Year. For lack of another explanation, I accept the sun blonde as the legacy of my unknown father.
It’s nice to be pretty. It was essential to Luther taking me on at the island. And my thoughts are once again drifting toward Beast. Enough. New client coming. Maybe I’ll sell Jon’s latest oil. With that bright thought, I step into the steaming shower and scrub.
There’s no time to dry my hair, so I pull it back in a fancy enamel clip I picked up at the Torpedo Factory, the local artists’ colony. I try to support artists and the local businesses in any way I can. My black silk trousers, pale blue, draped blouse and medium heels are elegant and professional, but not quite ‘artistic’ enough. I consider my limited accessory choices while dusting on blush and applying lip gloss. The outfit needs a little more color. I reject the freshwater pearls and go with the small amethyst studs for my ears and the matching drop on a slender gold chain.
It will have to do. Grabbing my phone and bag on the way, I hustle from the apartment and down the three flights to the main floor. Most of the first floor is taken up by the gallery. A small kitchen and office are tucked behind the stairs. I deposit my bag and its contents in my office, tucking my phone into a pocket.
A few touches to the dimmer panel bring up the lights. Jon’s landscape takes up a large section of wall. Heavy dark clouds churn over windswept wetlands as a storm is about to break, the dark greens and grays broken by slashes of gold and red. I love this piece. Every time I look at it I can feel the cool, moisture-laden wind, scent the brackish air. It’s like with another step, I can walk right into it.
With a final look, I pull myself back to business. Quickly, I straighten the display of limited edition prints next to the landscape. They’ll bring a fraction of the price of the oil, but they’ll sell fast and Jon needs the money. He’s brilliant, but he works slowly. He doesn’t yet have the recognition to command prices he can live on while he paints, so he wastes precious hours as a private driver and my occasional gallery assistant to pay his bills. Maybe Beth’s new client will help change that.
I hurry past the large empty spot where Sandoval’s new piece will be displayed in another week and unlock the door. Sandoval’s the hottest sculptor going. My gallery doesn’t normally rate artists of his caliber, but he’s a friend of Jon’s. The first piece he gave me to place was stolen by Riviera Woman. It still hasn’t surfaced, which hurts almost as much as the theft. It’s not the money. The credit card company made good on the sale, eventually. I needed that piece prominently displayed in a McMansion to advertise my gallery among the wealthy set.
Bang the –itch sideways, I’d really like to kill her. I can feel myself smiling at that thought. Yes, this is me. I can’t say certain words even in my own mind but contemplating murder can put me in my happy place. Which is crazy weird on all sorts of levels, but I’ve long since stopped worrying about it.
All set and no Beth. She’s running late. I doubt it’s her fault. Clients are notoriously cavalier about time when they are spending the big bucks. Loitering anxiously by the door will not help my negotiating position. The bell will alert me when they arrive, I may as well keep busy. I head up to the second-floor galleries where I relocated several pieces to make room for the Sandoval. I’m still not completely happy with how I worked out the displays.
I’m in the process of moving an abstract glass sculpture in blues and gold when I hear the bell followed by Beth’s voice calling my name. The sculpture has a five-figure price tag and the gallery is safe with Beth. I call out, “I’m upstairs, I’ll be right there.”
By the time the sculpture is safely situated near a window, I can hear Beth talking on the stairs, “Go ahead and take a look around. I’m sure she’ll be right down.”
Beth wouldn’t leave the client alone without good reason. I meet her at the top of the stairs.
“Hey, Beth, sorry to leave you hanging,” I start to apologize and stop at her shushing motions.
“What is it?” I ask in a super soft voice. I learned long ago never to whisper. It only attracts attention.
“The client,” she replies with a conspiratorial smile. “He’s good looking and he’s rich.”
Beth leans in a little closer, “He has a diamond credit card.”
Okay, I get it. With one of those he could pretty much buy my entire gallery with a side of McMansion.
Beth’s not done, “And best of all -- not married.”
Crap. Jon’s not the only one trying to fix me up. Beth doesn’t know about Beast. Only that I met someone and it didn’t work out. I really appreciate Beth’s friendship and I don’t want to hurt her feelings, but I’m not about to tell her about my kinky leanings. I try for a teasing smile, “Sounds good, but I was really hoping for a big spender with a taste for fine art.”
“Oh, don’t be silly,” Beth giggles. Beth’s north of fifty and she giggles. “Of course he’s a big spender. He’s one of my clients.”
“Well let’s go then,” I say ushering Beth down the stairs while mentally crossing my fingers that Mr. Big Spender will buy Jon’s oil.
I follow Beth into the gallery. There’s a tall man with sandy gray hair standing facing Jon’s painting. I hope he’s feeling the wind.
“Here she is,” Beth says to the back of Mr. Big Spender’s head. “Let me introduce you.”
There is something about the guy. The shape of his head. The set of his shoulders. I know him.
“Interesting piece,” says a familiar voice and my stomach drops through the floor.
It can’t be. He turns around and we come face to face.
“Matthew Comstock,” Beth continues, oblivious to my reaction. “Sera Windhover.”
He’s coming toward me. I’m rooted to the spot, frozen with shock. This can’t be happening.
“Hello Sera,” he takes possession of my hand, giving me a charming smile.
Dear sweet Jesus, protect me. Orion.
As much as I have longed for Beast, I’ve been grateful that I would never again see the man who called himself Orion. He scared me then and he scares me now.
Orion. He’s here. He knows where I live. He knows my name.
I am totally screwed.



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