D/s. D/s. D/s.

Rating: R

Contains sexual situations,  BDSM, D/s, and power play. It is therefore not suitable for teens under the age of 18.

Also: f-word warning!

If you have a general (personal, moral, religious, whatever) problem with any of the above mentioned material, please stop reading at this point!

Huge thanks to my betareader/editor Raven Clark, who edited this story with me line by line.

Part 13 of “Leather and Lace

 

Pete. A charming cop from Denver with a sweet smile and the most polite manners she’d ever seen. Sam turned her head and focused her gaze on her brother Mark, who sat on the opposite side of the dinner table. It didn’t take a genius to know he was playing matchmaker. Or trying to.

And even though the idea irritated her a little, she had to admit, there was something about Pete that drew her in. Something so down to Earth. So normal.

“So, Sam, tell me more about you.”

“Oh…” She shook her head. “My life’s really boring. Not much to tell.” Not much that isn’t classified at least.

“Sam’s interested in science, she spends most of her free time in a lab, and she loves working on her motorcycle,” Mark said, undoubtedly trying to be helpful.

“You ride a motorcycle?” Pete asked. His brows rose as though he’d never seen a woman interested in motorcycles before.

“At the moment, I’m really still in the maintenance phase. I wanna be done this summer.” She took a sip of her wine. “You like motorcycles?”

“Nah. It’s not something I’ve ever gotten into. You could give me a ride when it’s done. Maybe that’ll change my mind.”

“I’d like that.” She smiled.

“Of course, summer’s still a couple of months away. So we could have dinner instead to pass the time.”

Wow, talk about a direct approach. “Sure.” She held his gaze. “I’d love that.” She faltered. “But I have a lot of work next week, and not many evenings off.”

“How about breakfast then?” Pete grinned. The dimples in his cheeks deepened.

“Okay.” Her smile grew wider. There was a charm about him she couldn’t escape.

“Wednesday?”

“Wednesday’s good.”

“Great.”

Sam flinched inwardly when Jack rushed to the elevator. He hesitated a short moment—almost too short to notice, except she knew him by heart—but then stepped inside. The door closed.

It had been nearly four weeks since she’d left his house that Friday evening. Neither of them had talked about it again since then. It was as though their little affair had never happened. At least it would be, if there weren’t this weird distance between them where both seemed to feel like they walked on eggshells.

“So… Daniel told me you had a date.”

Great, so much for the eggshells. Shoulders tensing, she half turned to him. “It wasn’t really a date. It was a guy my brother set me up with.”

“So… a date.”

“It’s nothing serious or anything.”

“A cop?”

Couldn’t Daniel keep his mouth shut? Sometimes she swore he was worse than the people working in the commissary. “Yeah. From Denver.”

“Ah.” He cleared his throat and looked at the ceiling as though it captured his interest. “With a gun? Handcuffs? All that stuff?”

“Yeah.” She nodded, then froze. Wait, that wasn’t a pun to… “Oh, he doesn’t take them home, if that’s what you’re asking.”

This content is property of http://www.kimberley-jackson.com.

His head snapped to her, his brows climbing.

Okay, so that hadn’t been what he was implying. And she’d just given way too much information. Awkward…

Cheeks warming, she took a deep breath and swayed back and forth on her feet. What was it about elevators that they never moved fast enough when you needed them to?

“This is kinda awkward.” She flinched.

“Yeah. It’s gettin’ there.”

“I’m not even sure I’m gonna see him again.” A lie. She would see him again. Friday.

“Look, Carter, I’m happy for you. And you’re thinking about something else other than your doohickeys for a change, so that’s great.”

Ding.

Mercifully, the elevator doors slid open. Thank God. She nearly stumbled out and turned with a weak smile. “I’ll see you at the briefing later. Sir.”

“Have fun.”

Jack lifted his beer and took a large gulp. Usually team nights were fun. Usually Teal’c wasn’t away to see his kid somewhere, and Carter… well… Better not think of her.

O’Malley’s slowly cleared out. He looked at Daniel, who’d been giving him odd glances all evening.

“So, Jack.”

“Daniel?”

“What’s new with you?”

Odd. “Not much. Everything’s swell. How about you?”

“Great.” The archeologist folded his arms, but didn’t stop looking at him with that damn scrutinizing expression he usually reserved for when he thought Jack did something stupid.

“What?” His patience ran thin these days.

“You sure everything’s swell?”

“Yeah. Peachy. Why?” Another sip of his beer. Too bad it couldn’t make Daniel disappear. He wasn’t in the mood for one of those let-me-tell-you-how-I-feel-conversations Daniel liked to engage in.

“Well, a lot’s changing.”

“Like what?”

“Sam having a boyfriend?”

Jack narrowed his eyes at him. “So? We all have lives outside the SGC.”

“So I hear.” Daniel gave him a strange look.

Jack put his bottle down with more force than intended and scowled at him. “You got something to say, say it. I don’t like cryptic hints.”

“Okay.” Daniel straightened. “I know about you and Sam.”

Somehow Jack managed to keep his cool and not move a muscle. “Know about what?” He played with his coaster, keeping his face blank.

“You were seeing each other.”

Jack faltered and looked up. “No, we weren’t. Who told you that?”

“We saw you at her house. A couple of months ago,” Daniel said, voice calm.

“We?” Jack raised his eyebrows. Playing nonchalant didn’t seem the right approach here. God, had word about their relationship gotten out? His stomach tightened.

“Teal’c and I. On movie night. When we called Sam, we were already in front of her house. You left a couple of minutes later.”

Throat dry, Jack picked up his beer again. Shit. Immediately his brain went into damage control mode. “I had to deliver a report, that’s all. She’d never do anything against the regs. Come on, we’re talking about Carter here.”

“Jack, please.” Daniel closed his eyes. “We didn’t report it. And we won’t, if that’s what you’re worried about. Nobody else knows. At least not from either of us.”

The entire Cheyenne mountain range seemed to lift off Jack’s chest. “So?”

“So… you two were together. And now she’s with someone else.” Daniel pushed his glasses further up on his nose.

“Perceptive.” His gut had been right. He should’ve called team night off.

“Jack.”

“Daniel.”

“What happened?”

Apparently, Daniel wasn’t gonna let it go until he heard something. Jack glowered at him. “Fine. We tried. It didn’t work out. End of story.”

“Come on, Jack. You two’ve had feelings for each other since…when?”

“Sometimes reality just doesn’t compare to the fantasy.” At least for some of us. A pang of bitterness stabbed at his chest. He still didn’t understand what exactly had gone wrong between them. And she hadn’t thought it necessary to tell him what he’d done wrong, thereby depriving him of a chance to fix things. He downed the last sip of beer.

“Could you stop being a condescending ass for a moment?”

“What do you want me to say?” Jack snapped, patience finally flying out the window. “She wasn’t happy. Nothing I can do about that.”

“So she left you.”

“Oh, for cryin’ out loud.” He reached behind him to grab his jacket. “I think I’ll call it a night. This conversation’s lost all its appeal.”

“Right, I forgot. Whenever things get emotionally intense, Jack O’Neill decides to shut everyone else out.”

“Better than your passive aggressive approach to…well, everything.”

The group of men at the neighboring table turned to them. Jack straightened. Not the right place to start a fight with Daniel. Actually there wasn’t ever a right place for that.

“Listen, I’m sorry.” Sighing, he scraped his hand through his hair. “It’s true, Carter and I had—“ What? A relationship? She’d said she loved him. But the way she’d left hardly made those words ring true. “—an affair. She wasn’t happy, mostly because of the dangers to her career, so we ended it.”

“Meaning, she ended it?” Daniel’s voice had a soft edge to it.

“Fine, she ended it. What difference does it make?” Huge difference. No need to let Daniel know that though.

“I don’t suppose you wanna talk about it.”

“What gives you that impression?” Despite his sarcasm, he dropped back down on his chair. “It’s complicated.”

“Did you try to get her back?”

Jack frowned at him. “Daniel, I’m her CO. I can’t force her to stay. Probably shouldn’t have gotten her into this mess in the first place. I let her go.”

“Just like that?”

“She wanted to go.” He inhaled. “I want her to be happy. If the cop makes her happy, then I’m happy for her.”

“You’re happy she’s with another guy?”

“Will you stop that?” Jack snapped.

“What?”

“This emotional crap you’re pulling. We ended it. I’m good. Is that all?”

Daniel shrugged. “Sure. Yeah. Glad we talked about it.”

Jack scowled at him. God, that guy… “So. You’ve known?”

“Yep.”

“Teal’c, too?”

“Yep.”

“You know you can get in trouble for not reporting us?”

“Hey, I’m a civilian contractor. I know nothing about your Air Force rules. Besides, we never saw you two in a compromising situation, so don’t ask, don’t tell. Isn’t that a popular policy these days?” A sneaky smile played around Daniel’s mouth.

Right. Jack knew he’d received a copy of the rulebook, and he’d probably learned it by heart. Any civilian contractor was bound to abide by the Air Force code. Daniel was a good guy, and dare he say it, friend. “Thanks.”

“For what?”

“You know… Not asking. Or telling.”

“Sure. Too bad you two didn’t work out though. Teal’c and I made a bet on how long it’d take for you to make it official and take the next step. Guess we both lost.”

“Make that three.” Jack stared at his empty bottle. With all he and Sam had been through in the field, with their level of trust and how close they’d been, he’d really thought he could make it work this time. Long-term. He’d wanted to so bad.

Well… it was over. He’d had his chance and he blew it. He could live with that, as long as she was happy. Even if it meant seeing her with another guy.

“You still wanna leave?” Daniel’s voice pulled him out of his thoughts.

“No, I’ll have another one of these. You want another one? Next round’s on me.”

“Sure.”

Jack got up and walked over to the bar. Better to spend his Friday night with Daniel at O’Malley’s than sitting home and wallowing in self-pity. She was gone, and that was that. Time to move on.

6 months later

Normalcy. Such an odd, abstract notion. Breath mildly labored, Sam looked at the ceiling. Next to her, Pete turned on his side and gave her a wide smile.

“Wow, baby.”

“Yeah.”

Thank God, he hadn’t noticed. Then again, how could he? Most of her orgasms with him in the past half year had been fake. It wasn’t Pete’s fault. He was sweet, gentle, and a gracious lover. He tried. Hard. Always. Until she started feeling guilty about taking so long. Guilt led to rush, and the resulting pressure usually drove the last chance for release away.

Her frustration at her body’s deceit had long turned into resignation, and faking an orgasm had become something of a standard procedure that didn’t even take effort anymore. So she was like most women, who had problems having an orgasm during sex.

Normalcy.

She leaned in to find his lips in a lingering kiss. “Give me just a moment.”

In the bathroom, she gave herself an encouraging smile in the mirror. This was what she’d always wanted. A normal boyfriend, a normal life. No kinky bedroom stuff. Somehow, her smile didn’t reach her eyes.

She took a moment to clean herself up and then stepped back in his bedroom. Absent-mindedly, she picked up Pete’s uniform pants from the floor and dropped them on a nearby chair. The soft rattle of chains made her look twice. His handcuffs, attached to one side of his belt, shimmered silver in the moonlight.

She reached out and touched her fingers to the cool steel. Images flooded her mind. Of Jack tying her to his bed, whispering dirty things into her ear while he took her in any way he pleased. Her core ached with need. Her pulse sped up.

“Seeing something you like?”

“What?” She withdrew her fingers as though the cuffs had burned her. What the hell was wrong with her? She was with Pete. Fantasizing about another man was wrong on so many levels. And especially fantasizing about this kind of sex.

“The handcuffs. We could try them if you’re interested.”

“Really?” Her heart did an odd little jump, her stomach fluttering with excitement she hadn’t felt in months. The kind of thrill she definitely shouldn’t feel.

“Sure,” Pete said. “But you gotta promise me not to lose the keys. Last thing I want is have to have some colleague come in here to bust me out of these.”

She stared at him, the meaning of his words slowly sinking in. “Oh… You mean when I tie you to the bed.”

“Yeah. Those are the real deal. No getting out without a key.” He lifted his arms over his head. “You wanna try it?”

Her stomach clenched in unease. “Not tonight. I’m kinda tired. It was just a general idea.” She crawled back onto the bed and kissed him. “But I’ll keep it in mind.”

Wouldn’t be much different from when she was on top. Just add in the fact he wouldn’t be able to move his hands. She could deal with that. Just not tonight.

“Pete asked me to marry him.” Sam shifted on the kitchen stool, her fingers around a cup of steaming coffee Janet had placed in front of her.

Janet froze for a moment, before she gave her a nod. “I see. And?”

“I said yes.”

“I see.”

I see?” Sam repeated.

“Well, I’m happy for you. He seems like a great guy.”

“But?”

Janet raised her brows, then sighed. “Just that… I didn’t think you two were that serious.”

“Why?”

“I don’t know. I’m surprised. That’s all.” Her face grew serious, then she looked down into her cup. “Does…um…does General O’Neill know?”

“Yeah. Why?”

“I always had the impression you two were…” Janet made a vague hand gesture. “You know. Four years ago, you almost lost your lives over hiding your feelings for each other. So somehow, I always expected one of these days one of you would resign, so you could…well, act on those feelings.”

Sam stared at her, her stomach clenching as though somebody had punched her. So even Janet had picked up the vibe? “A lot can change in four years. Ever since he was promoted to leader of the SG-C, we haven’t spent much time together. We’re friends. He’s my superior officer. That’s all. I love Pete. We get along well. He’s a good guy.”

“I don’t doubt that.” Janet took a sip of coffee. “And if he makes you happy, I’m all for it. Does he?”

“Of course.” Sam held Janet’s gaze for a while, ignoring the odd pang in her chest.

“Okay, then. I say let’s celebrate your engagement.”

Sam shook a pill out of the little bottle and swallowed it with a lot of water. Maybe these’d calm her stomach. Only a few more weeks ‘til the wedding. The closer it got, the more nauseated the thought made her.

A normal reaction. Every bride was anxious before her wedding.

The monitor flickered as the website loaded excruciatingly slow. She sighed. With all the technology they had down here, one would think she’d get a decent internet connection.

Finally, the images popped up. She straightened with a little cough. Definitely a lot of options to dominate a man. Thank God the camera was aiming at her face, not the monitor.

A little image at the side caught her attention. A woman, cuffed, kneeling in front of her Dom, a blindfold covering her eyes. Her heart jumped. She moved the cursor to the picture and clicked it.

The Submissive Guide for Beginners.

The site featured articles in several different categories. Sam clicked on the one labeled Female Submission. Just a case of mild curiosity, nothing more. Excitement tightened her stomach.

[otw_shortcode_info_box border_type=”bordered” border_style=”bordered” shadow=”shadow-outer” rounded_corners=”rounded-3″ background_color_class=”otw-silver”]

The following is a small idea of the differences. It does, in no way, give all the details that are involved with the vast array of men and women that submit. Please keep in mind that, especially in BDSM and D/s, no rule is absolute. Therefore the information given here can only be classified as a very basic generalization. In reality, every BDSM or D/s relationship is unique in power dynamics, with its very own set of rules.

Submissive
A submissive is the first level of a Dominant/submissive lifestyle. A submissive submits to his/her Dom and gives up control for short or longer periods of time. However, they have their opinions and still make all choices on their own. They lead their life, pay their bills, do their dishes. They give up control only during set times and parameters. There is also the thought of the “power balance” between dominant and submissive. In a submissive role, the power is still equally divided. Sex is usually a large part of this relationship and mostly where the submission enters in (even though there are exceptions). The intensity is still strong and the punishments and pain are real and overwhelming. However a submissive has an option to stop. The power exchange usually doesn’t spill over into the everyday.

Slave
As a slave control is largely given up. The power balance is completely tipped in the Masters direction (note the article on the difference between Dominants and Masters). However, keep in mind this is a choice the slave makes, and not something she/he was made or forced to do. Slaves are usually slaves 24/7, although there are exceptions. They may work but when they get home, there is no distinction from normal day to a BDSM day. The person is always a slave from the day they enter into the status. As a slave, sex is still very real and alive. However, it’s not always the goal and not needed for the Master and slave. As a slave the lifestyle is usually more intense in pain, humiliation and just pure pleasure. Being a slave does not mean the Master can ask you to break the law or hurt yourself. If a Master is asking you to do things that are against the law or against your moral values or hard limits, he or she is not a dominant but an abuser.

Pet
This hasn’t always been a classification of a submissive person and is still controversial in some BDSM circles. A pet is more on the side of a slave except for one large difference: sex does not have to be involved at all. In many cases it isn’t. If you have become a pet, you give yourself up and obey unconditionally. You gain pleasure from the control and obeying, not from sexual play. There can be sex, but it’s rare in this kind of lifestyle. This submission is one of the most dangerous ones, because you can lose yourself mentally as you’re not allowed to have opinions of your own. You usually don’t work and although you may discuss things with your Master he has the last say in all things.
***
Ultimately the deeper you go into submission the stronger you have to be. You have to be very sure of yourself to give up every ounce of control and thought. Taking each step is serious and should never be taken light by any person involved. Remember, always remain safe, sane, and consensual.[/otw_shortcode_info_box]

Wow. She hadn’t known there were so many layers to this. Intrigued, she clicked on the link referring to the article about different kinds of Doms.

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The terms “Master” or “Dominant” are more than just an address. They reflect a person’s involvement in the lifestyle, and can give a submissive a first idea of the personality of a Dominant.

Dominant

Self-identified Dominants (also Doms) are usually the ones directing a scene and asserting control over a submissive. Often, scenes are talked about and agreed on before. Self-identifying Dominants can still be called “Master” by their submissive, though the address “Sir” is more common.

Dominants usually allow their submissives control over certain aspects of the scene, and conditions are almost always negotiable in advance.

Master

Self-identified Masters are usually a lot more involved in the lifestyle. Their relationships can be 24/7, and they usually enjoy a larger level of control, which is why they often pair up with self-identified slaves or pets.

Even though scenes can be negotiated beforehand, some Masters prefer not to do that. While they themselves identify as “Masters”, they may still be referred to as “Sir” or “Master” by their submissive/slave/pet.

Knowing the personality of a prospective Dom is almost as important as knowing who you are as a submissive, as many of these types are simply incompatible. A Brat certainly wouldn’t be happy with a Gorean Slave Master expecting one-hundred percent obedience and devotion.

Please note: Many BDSM communities also award the official title “Master” to very experienced Dominants/Masters within their midst to denote their experience. The title “Grand-Master” may also be awarded. These titles, however, represent experience in the field of BDSM rather than involvement or style of the individual.[/otw_shortcode_info_box]

Thoughtful, Sam scrolled further down. So BDSM wasn’t all the same? Was that why her relationship with Jonas Hanson had gone South? He’d expected full control, in and outside of the bedroom—something that had been a constant source of conflict in their relationship. Of course, with him she’d never even perceived the power dynamics as anything close to D/s.

Jack had once told her the reason for that might have been that she and Jonas had never talked about, or set up fixed rules. Now she was beginning to understand what he’d meant by that.

Sam looked at the link at the end of the page.

Finding a compatible Dom.

Intrigued, she clicked the next link.

[otw_shortcode_info_box border_type=”bordered” border_style=”bordered” shadow=”shadow-outer” rounded_corners=”rounded-3″ background_color_class=”otw-silver”]

Unfortunately, the path to finding a compatible partner you’re sexually attracted to can be quite laborious, frustrating and often heart-breaking. Sadly, abuse is also a very real danger in these types of relationships. Please remember: always remain safe, sane and consensual.

Here are a few general safety rules that you as a sub should always follow:

  1. When you’ve just met a Dom/me and you’re playing with him/her for the first time, always remain in the safety of a public club if possible, especially when you’re being restrained or engaging in pain play with your Dom. Public clubs offer security personnel ready to interfere, which provides many subs with a reliable safety net.
  2. ALWAYS set up a safeword. And make sure the Dom respects it. ‘No’ may not always mean ‘No’ in the context of a scene, but the use of the safeword does. If a Dom ignores it, he or she is not a player, but an abuser or a rapist.
  3. Don’t take drugs before a scene. This includes alcohol. These substances may lower your inhibitions as well as your sensitivity to pain, which can result in serious mental and physical harm. Full consent can’t be given when intoxicated. Be aware that, unfortunately there are Doms out there looking to take advantage of intoxicated subs. So if possible, abstain from all mind-altering drugs and large amounts of alcohol when you’re planning on playing with somebody.
  4. Especially in the beginning, always talk out a scene before you play. This includes talking about hard and soft limits (things you’re not willing to do) as well as things that turn you on. A BDSM scene isn’t something you jump into. You’ll find it a lot more enjoyable if, in the initial phase of trust building, you know in advance what to expect instead of being overrun and having to safeword.

Finding a compatible partner can often present a sub with a challenge. It helps if you know yourself, your desires and what you expect from a relationship. BDSM offers a wide variety of aspects that you should be aware of. Ask yourself (and answer) the following questions:

What am I looking for in this relationship?
Do I identify as a sub or a slave?
Am I interested in a monogamous or polyamorous relationship?

Do I enjoy pain? Am I a masochist?
Many beginners or outsiders have the misconception that D/s, BDSM and pain always go hand in hand. In reality, pain can be only one aspect of the relationship. It’s usually optional, unless you identify as a sadist or masochist. Sadists or masochists require the element of pain to feel sexual enjoyment. If you’re a masochist, it’ll be important for you to find someone with sadistic tendencies.

Am I interested in occasional kink play, permanent bedroom play or a 24/7 TPE (total power exchange)?
This is another important aspect. Knowing what exactly you expect from a prospective Dom, and voicing those wishes in the phase of mutual evaluation can save you a lot of heartache.

It always helps if you prepare a list of your personal limits, safeword preferences and other aspects important to you. Think about these aspects in the safety of your home.

***

You should also determine what specific type of submissive you are. Submissives come as many different characters, each one of them with their specific needs. Some of the more well-known one are the Brat and the Domestic.

The Brat

This type of submissive is generally well-behaved, but has made misbehavior, teasing and limited kinds of defiance or disobedience an integral part of her Dominant-submissive dynamic. This usually occurs with the approval of her dominant.
The very serious question of how much disobedience or disrespect is too much can only be answered by the individuals in that relationship.[/otw_shortcode_info_box]

Sam swallowed hard. Somehow that rang true for her. She shook her head. No, she wasn’t a submissive. Was she?

When Sam came across a submissive test, she clicked the link and stared at the page. She browsed through the questions—fifty—and answered each of them.

Finally the results popped up.

 

Leather and Lace - Sam Submissive Test by Kimberley Jackson

Leather and Lace - Warrior Princess

Screenshots: domination-submission.com

 

She stared at the screen. That didn’t sound too bad. Actually it didn’t even sound like it stood in conflict with her self-reliance at all. She straightened, thoughtful. She’d always thought being a submissive meant giving up power all the time. Being weak. These articles didn’t sound like that rang true at all.

Maybe she’d been wrong all along. What if she was a submissive? Maybe it wasn’t anything she needed to be scared of. The page presented it in such a normal light.

She clicked another link, referring to BDSM practices and toys. A picture showed. A woman sat roped with her arms behind her back. No movement possible.

She tapped the pen against her lips and glanced at an overview list of practices and limits. Some of these definitely sounded exciting. Some of them she’d already tried with Jack. Others they’d already set up as hard limits.

She went through the list, mentally dividing personal preferences…

“What on Earth are you doing?”

Sam nearly leaped up from her chair and slammed her laptop shut. Janet stared at her, wide-eyed. Okay, sitting with her back to the door hadn’t been a brilliant idea after all. She’d only worried about the cameras. At this late hour everyone except for the nightshift had usually gone home. Or was sleeping.

“Nothing.”

Janet’s brows climbed higher. Yeah, nothing was a lame excuse.

“Doing a little research for…um…something.” She gulped. And had no doubt that Janet saw it.

“Sam?” Oh, she knew that undertone.

“All right.” Sam sighed. Why not stay as close to the truth as possible? “Pete and I wanted to try out some… stuff.” Not quite a lie. Pete did want to try it out, just that somehow their roles would be reversed. She wouldn’t be the submissive. He wanted her to be the dominant—a role in which she felt entirely out of place.

Janet’s eyes sparkled and she grinned. “Uh huh.”

“I’m not even sure I’ll agree to it.”

“Well,” Janet said with a grin. “We’ve all tried some of the kinky stuff, haven’t we?”

“We have?” Sam sank back down on her chair. The nonchalance in her friend’s voice put her off.

“Sure. I met a guy once who was into that kinda stuff. But he wanted me to do the dominance thing.”

“And?” Sam stared at her.

Janet’s grin grew. “I did it. It was the best two-year-relationship I ever had.”

Sam widened her eyes.

Janet shrugged. “What can I say? I like having a bit of control over guys. Nothing wrong with that as long as it’s consensual.” Her face grew serious. “I think you should try it.”

“You do?”

“Yeah. I mean…” She waved at the screen. “You’ve always been a little awkward and insecure when it came to relationships. This might put you at ease. Take the responsibility off your shoulders.”

Sam’s gaze darted back to the computer. Right, Janet thought she was thinking about taking on a submissive role. Wait, what was she saying?

“You think I’m a submissive?”

Janet swallowed and folded her arms. “Hey, I’m not thinking anything. But, I’ve met some submissive guys, and they were all very similar. Strong, self-reliant, but very self-conscious when it came to romantic relationships. Like you.”

“Guys?” As in, plural? And besides, what did she mean, self-conscious?

Janet shrugged. “Yeah. Nothing long-term.”

A thought dawned on Sam. “You know anything about this stuff?”

“Yeah, I used to play some.”

“Would you… I mean…” She swallowed. God, normally she wouldn’t consider talking to anybody about this. But she and Janet had been friends for years now. “Could you tell me more about this?” Another swallow.

“Sure,” Janet said. “Why don’t you come over this weekend. Cassie’ll be thrilled to see you. She has a party on Saturday with friends, and as soon as she leaves, we can talk about it.”

“Is it okay? I don’t wanna make you uncomfortable.”

“I don’t mind talking to you about this. What are you still doing here by the way?” Janet glanced at her watch. “Didn’t your shift end two hours ago?”

“Oh, I’m waiting for the lab results on the artifact to get back. I wanna run some more tests later on.” Sam stretched with a yawn. “What time is it?”

“Almost nine. I came here because Siler said you were still on base.”

“You know me. Can’t stay away from the gadgets. Besides, my next duty shift starts at five anyway.”

“All the more reason to get a decent sleep before that.” Janet folded her arms. “Doctor’s orders.”

Sighing, Sam nodded. “All right. I’ll just finish up here.”

Janet’s face gentled. “Good night and sleep well. I’ll see you Saturday.”

“Good night.”

She waited until Janet had left, and then turned back to her laptop. The screen flickered. She glanced at the images of the roped woman and closed the browser window. The ease with which Janet talked about her experiences startled her. As though it was the most normal thing in the world.

“Can I be honest with you?” Sam’s grip tightened on the glass of wine.

“Of course.” Janet took a sip of wine and leaned back. “I thought honesty was a requirement for this conversation.”

“My research wasn’t related to Pete.”

Her friend froze, the glass at her lips. Finally she leaned forward. “Is there another guy?”

“Yes. No… Not the way you think. There used to be.” Sam closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “Before I met Pete, I had a thing with this guy. And he was into, you know… the stuff I researched.”

“Wow. I had no idea.” Janet’s eyes brightened. “Where did you meet him? How did it go?”

She decided to forego the first question—in the spirit of honesty. Not saying anything wasn’t really a lie, was it? “I ended it.”

“Why?”

“Because I got scared.” What a stupid move that had been.

“I see. Why?”

“It’s not the kind of woman I wanted to be. I worked so hard for everything I have, everything I am. I always considered myself strong and independent.”

“So? You think being strong and independent, and sexually submitting to someone is mutually exclusive?” Janet shook her head. “Sam, do you have any idea how many independent, successful people are sexual submissives? That has nothing to do with being weak or strong. Sex is about feeling comfortable and being able to let yourself go. We usually don’t have much control over what turns us on.”

Sam swallowed and stared at her. “You make it sound so normal.”

“Because it is.” Janet chuckled. “Most people won’t admit to having a kink, but believe me, almost everybody has one. It’s a normal part of a healthy sex life.”

Normal. Janet though those urges were normal?

“My point is, as long as there’s mutual consent, there’s no problem with any of it. Not psychologically. There are a few excellent articles addressing the subject.” Janet rolled her eyes. “Socially, that’s another issue. You’ll always come across an asshat who’ll tell you there’s something wrong with you. Especially as a woman. Men will tell us we’re too liberated. Women’ll tell us we’re too slutty or prudish, wearing too much make-up or too little, too thin or too fat. Feminists will tell us we’re not liberated enough while imposing a whole new set of rules on us that take us further away from having choices. You’ll never make everybody happy, so the best thing you can do is just stop trying.”

Sam chuckled. “You make it sound so simple.”

“Because it is. If you’re at peace with yourself, you won’t care what the rest of the world thinks.” She leaned back and studied her. “So, what about Pete? Can he be persuaded to give you what you need?”

Sam flinched. “Pete’s… He kinda wants me to take on the dominant role.”

Janet’s brows climbed. “Wow. Is that something you’re interested in?”

“I… I don’t know.” Sam got up from the couch and paced the room. “I think I could manage.”

Manage?” Janet said. “Sex isn’t something you should think of as being able to manage.”

“To be honest, I feel like I don’t know anything anymore. Everything feels out of place. The man I was with before… The only reason I ended it with him was the BDSM aspect of our relationship. I thought I wanted something else.” She closed her eyes. Jack.

Janet took a deep breath. “Oh my God, you still love him.”

She released a long sigh. “I’m marrying Pete in three weeks.”

“That’s not a no.” Janet took a huge sip of her wine. “What a mess.”

As if she didn’t know that. “I love Pete. I really do. He’s all I ever wanted, you know. A normal guy. We’re thinking about buying a little house after the wedding. And he wants a dog. I’ve dreamed of this since I was a little girl. But now that I almost have it, it scares the hell out of me. I feel like it’s not me.”

Janet set down her wine. “Well, you know what they say. Careful what you wish for; you might get it.”

God. She sat back down on a couch. “What am I supposed to do?”

“The question is, do you love Pete enough to compromise? Will you be happy spending the rest of your life with him?”

“I don’t know.” Her heart grew heavy.

“If you did, you would know.” Janet held her gaze. “It’s not too late. You still have three weeks to figure out what you want.” She got up from the couch and went to the kitchen.

When she returned, she handed Sam a little Post-it with a phone number and an email address on it. “Here. That’s the contact for the Colorado Springs Submissives and Slaves Meeting group.”

Sam held her breath. Her heart pounded in her ears. “I can’t go there.”

“Why not? They welcome newcomers who just want information. Send an email to this lady. The group’s very discreet and access is on RSVP only. Tell her you got her contact from me. Doesn’t hurt just to listen to what they have to say, right?”

Sam didn’t know what she’d expected when she opened the door to the small room located in the community center. But a small group of men and women happily chatting definitely wasn’t it.

She glanced down at the sheet of paper in her hand. Room 185. No, definitely the right room. These people didn’t look like BDSM at all.

A woman in her fifties arranging some food on a small table at the side of the room glanced up. Her face brightened when she saw Sam.

“Hi.” Sam gave her a cautious smile. “I’m not sure if this is the right place.”

“Sam?”

“Yes.” She took a step into the room.

“You’re in the right place, hun. Come on in. I’m Laura. We talked on the phone.” She shook her hand and turned to the group. “Feel free to look around and talk to people. You can ask questions, or just listen. Whatever you feel most comfortable with.”

Sam counted twelve people in total, four of them men, the rest women. God, she hated these group scenarios. She smiled insecurely at the unknown faces who now eyed her with curiosity. Luckily the interest didn’t persist for long. Two women began chatting to Laura about some BDSM club-related incident, and the rest turned back to their conversations.

Sam fiddled with her hands. This was way out of her comfort zone. She didn’t have much to talk about with non-scientists. Or people not working at the SGC.

“Hi.” A woman almost the same height as her approached her and handed her a cup. “You must be Sam. Coffee?”

“Thank you.”

“I remember the first time I came here.” She turned to the group. “Pretty intimidating, isn’t it?”

“Yeah.” Sam took a sip of coffee, her fingers clenching the cup like a lifeline.

“I’m Sheila. It’s nice to meet you.” She gave her a smile. Sam liked her immediately. She had something warm, welcoming about her. “You’re a submissive?”

“That’s what I’m here to find out.”

“Ah.” Sheila’s dark eyes sparkled. “Haven’t really decided yet? Or are you a Switch?”

“A what?” Sam asked.

“A Switch. You know, someone who likes to do both, submitting and dominating. Laura’s a switch. We have another one, but he isn’t here today.”

“No.” Sam shook her head. “No, I’m definitely not a Switch.”

Sheila grinned. “So you’re a submissive, but you’re not sure whether you’re comfortable with that?”

“Something like that. What about you?”

“Proud sub. Have been for almost three years now. Not full-time though.”

“How did you find out?” Sam studied her. She looked so…normal. Like the girl next door. No kinky clothes, or special jewelry. A high cut pink sweater and a blue jeans. Her black hair encircled her head in a wild cloud.

“I knew very early, I guess. I got a kick out of guys spanking me or tying me up. I really knew I was a sub when I realized I get off on being ordered around. I needed it to have good sex. Don’t get me wrong, my boyfriend and I do the gentle stuff, too. But I always let him be in charge.”

“Doesn’t that bother you?” Sam sank down on one of the chairs.

Sheila shrugged. “At first it did I guess. I mean, us women are told we gotta be self-determined and strong, right?”

“Right.”

Sheila sat down on the chair next to her. “What do you do for a living, Sam?”

“I’m in the Air Force.”

“Hey.” Sheila’s face lit up. “Navy veteran. I left the service three years ago. What branch?”

“Sciences. Deep space radar telemetry. You know…space stuff, up in the Cheyenne Mountain base.”

“Intriguing.”

“What division did you serve in?”

“When I started, I wanted to make it into the Navy SEALs. But you know how it is. The Armed Forces are still largely a man’s club. So I ended up in the JAG corps, and served as the assistant to a JAG on a carrier.”

Sam laughed. “Wow. What do you do now?”

“I’m finishing my degree in law. If all goes well, I’ll take my bar exam in a year or so.”

Sam stared at her. She definitely hadn’t expected that.

Sheila folded her arms. “What, you think just because I like a Dom tying me up in the bedroom, I can’t be a successful woman in other aspects in my life? I used to be a lot like you, you know? I mean, I made it all the way up to Ensign, so I kept asking myself, how could I be a submissive?” She leaned in to her. “That guy over there, Marcus, he’s looking to run for office in the Colorado House of Representatives next year. The woman over there, Denise, is a cop. And Laura owns her own company. Of course we also have Marian and a few others, who are a housewives.”

Sam held her breath. Such normal people and normal lives. If she’d met those men and women on the street, she’d have never guessed they were into submission.

Sheila leaned back and took a sip of coffee. “When people hear I’m a submissive they always assume all I do in my free time is kneel in front of my boyfriend, and let him make all the choices. And when I misbehave he’ll whip me. People have such a weird idea about what D/s or BDSM means. Largely thanks to the mainstream media.”

“Well, what does it mean?” Sam asked. Apparently all she’d thought she knew was wrong.

“Submission isn’t giving up control. It’s handing control over to a person you trust. This can be either temporary or long term. In the Navy, and the Air Force, we do it all the time. You call your superiors ‘Sir’ or ‘Ma’am’. That doesn’t make you weaker than them, does it?”

Thoughtful, Sam held her gaze. “No, it’s just efficient. And gives you a sense of security, I guess. Clear rules, clear chain of command. You always know what to expect.”

“Exactly. But a good superior officer will still value your opinion. You give up a certain amount of power, but only according to a clear set of rules.” Sheila turned her head and looked out the window. “It gives us a sense of security not to have to shoulder all the responsibility. To me, submitting to a man is really no different. I’m giving him control in certain areas of my life that we both agree on. We defined clear boundaries. So I know, as soon as I’m in the bedroom, I don’t have to think about what I have to do next. I can just let myself go, and he’ll take over.”

“I’ve never thought about it that way.” Sam sipped her coffee. “To be honest, I always thought there had to be something wrong with me to want to submit. Aren’t we supposed to be self-determined as women? Take responsibility for our life and pleasure?”

Sheila shrugged. “I am self-determined. Nobody forces me to submit to my Dom. It’s a choice I make. And I am taking responsibility for my pleasure by accepting that submission is what turns me on. If I started trying to abide by all the rules society tries to impose on us… dear Jesus.” She laughed. “I mean, look, my boyfriend’s a white guy. I’m a black woman. My family’s always been against our relationship. They think I shouldn’t be with a white guy. But ever since my friends learned I also submit to him when we’re having sex, they make everything about us political. ‘Sheila,’ they say, ‘how can you let that white man treat you like his slave? Why do you enjoy that? Why do you betray your heritage and everything our race has fought for?’”

Sheila put her cup down with considerable force. “Well, first of all, I’m nobody’s slave. It’s my choice. And if I wanna end it or if I tell him no, there’s not a chance in hell he’s gonna have a say about it. If you wanna make that political, that’s your problem. What it comes down to for me is, I wanna feel comfortable in my bedroom. I wanna have sex that blows my mind. I don’t want some political activist telling me what I can and cannot to do. I’m fed up with this obligation to label myself: am I black, am I a woman… where does it end? I’m a human being. Not a politician. How can it be a political statement if I enjoy my boyfriend being in charge when we have sex? It’s my bedroom for heaven’s sake. Not congress. Shouldn’t I be allowed to make my own choices in the private aspects of my life?”

Sam straightened. All of that made perfect sense. Why was this even an issue? Sexually submitting didn’t diminish her accomplishments. She was a colonel in the US Air Force. She had a degree in astrophysics.

Hell, she’d blown up a freaking sun.

Why had she ever thought that sexual submission diminished any of those accomplishments, or stood in the way of future ones? It didn’t make her any less of who she was. Jack had never treated her with anything but respect. He’d always talked about what they would do, and insisted on her consent.

God, she’d been so stupid. They’d never been anything less than equal.

“The way I see it, it’s much like being introvert or extrovert,” Sheila said. “Not much you can do about it, except make your peace with who you are and embrace it. Isn’t that what being liberated is all about? Having the courage to stand by who you are?”

“You’re right,” Sam said. “I’ve always thought, as a modern woman, as a feminist, I shouldn’t want to be a submissive.”

“Isn’t it ironic? Wasn’t feminism the movement advocating the right for women to choose for themselves? And now we use it as an argument to limit our options.”

“Yeah.” She laughed.

“So, moment of truth.” Sheila leaned forward. “You have a Dom?”

Sam swallowed. “No. I used to have one. We played for a while.”

“Here? In the Colorado Springs club?”

“No, we always went to Denver.”

“Hey, me too,” Sheila said. “My boyfriend’s from Denver, so we moved back there about two years ago.” Her face grew thoughtful. “Wait a minute. You went to the Black Rose club?”

“Um, yes.”

“I think I’ve seen you there before. Your Dom, is he a tall, older guy with grey hair?”

Sam straightened. Her heart pounded. “He’s not that old. But yeah, that sounds like him.” Oh God, this Sheila person didn’t know who they were, did she?

“Dan and I saw you two. You were doing a public scene in the club. On one of the beds.” She stared at Sam. “We were watching because the power exchange between you two fascinated us. It looked like he was pushing you to a limit, but the way you trusted him… You two seemed to be so in tune. We both thought you must’ve been together for years.”

“No.” Sam shook her head, her cheeks burning. What on Earth were the odds she’d meet someone who had witnessed that scene? “Just a couple of months back then. And I ended it that night.”

“Oh.” Sheila looked awkward. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s fine. I didn’t really know what I was doing back then. Something I want to change now.”

Sheila’s face lit up. “Have you done a sub test, yet? And compiled your list of limits? All that fun homework stuff?”

“I did a test. Apparently, I’m a warrior princess sub.”

“Same here. Well, I’m fifty-two percent warrior princess and forty-two percent brat, so…” She nodded at another woman. “Marian over there’s a domestic. She and her husband have a full-time relationship, and she identifies as a slave. They have a little house just outside of town and two kids.”

“Kids?” Sam’s eyes widened. “Is that even possible? I mean, how do you have a relationship like this and…” She cut herself off and swallowed hard when she saw Sheila’s bewildered stare.

“Jesus, Sam. You think he makes her run around half naked in a leather harness?” She started laughing again. “They’re a normal couple. She’s just handing control over to him and lets him make the decisions. He tells her what to cook, when to do the laundry, what to wear. He’s in charge of the finances and maintenance. It puts her at ease not to have to think about these things. When you’re at their home, they’re a normal couple. All you’d think is maybe they’re a bit traditional in their gender roles. But submission really isn’t about gender. Marcus is a sub. He works, and his wife and mistress stays home. She’s six months pregnant with their first child. Dana over there is a sub, but once they leave their house, the games stop. And their living room is a game-free zone. It all depends on what rules you set up, and what you and your Dom need.”

“I didn’t know…” God, didn’t she feel stupid now. Why the hell had she even assumed that being into D/s and having a family was mutually exclusive?

“Most people seem to think we always run around in kinky clothes with our whips and chains. The BDSM part is only the sexual component. D/s is so much more than just sex. It can be a total power exchange, or an exchange agreed upon under certain conditions. It can be just sexual, or include everyday activities. There’s no fixed rule. Every couple, and every person who’s into this has their unique desires and set of rules. Which is why it’s so hard to find a compatible partner.”

“But how do I know where D/s ends and abuse starts?” Her experience with Jonas Hanson definitely hadn’t been pleasant. “And how do I know which rules work for me?

“Usually, the setup of rules is a fluent process. You’ll always find that your rules are different for different Doms. With some, you might feel comfortable doing certain things, and with others you don’t. Some Doms have limits that others don’t. Finding a common ground is an interesting and exciting, but sometimes a frustrating process. Abuse starts when your Dom ignores your rules. Or your safeword. Or tries to push you into things you really don’t want.”

Then Sheila shifted in her chair, her face growing serious. “Which is why it’s so important to know both your hard and your soft limits. Never, ever negotiate your hard limits with a Dom. If one tries to do that, it’s a red light. Your hard limits stand. The only person who can change your hard limits is you. Your soft limits, on the other hand, are there for your Dom to have fun with and push you occasionally.”

“What do you mean?”

“Doms can use those limits, either in punishment scenarios, or to push you to the edge and just an inch beyond.” Her eyes twinkled. “Such as your Dom did with you at the club. If done right, it can be an enlightening experience. You know, broaden your horizon and allow you to discover something new about yourself.”

“Yes.” Sam nodded, biting her lower lip. God, she’d never known she’d find having an orgasm in public so exiting.

“Of course, communication is a key element when pushing a limit.” Sheila refilled her cup with coffee. “Whatever you feel, you gotta be honest about it. Fear, anger, humiliation… All those feelings often come with pushing your limit. A good Dom knows that. But if you don’t open up to him, he can’t guide you through them.”

Communication… honesty… Sam closed her eyes. She hadn’t been very honest about her feelings, had she? She’d never told Jack about her shame, her fears about submitting. Their relationship had gone south because she’d been unable to open up. Why hadn’t she gotten into this research a year ago?

“Has anybody given you the info file for new submissives?” Sheila got up from her chair.

“Not yet.”

“You need to get one. You’ll find safety advice, contact info, templates for a limit list, and a lot of other useful info in it.” She folded her arms behind her back. “We should exchange phone numbers. Always useful to have someone to talk to who can relate. And you’re the only sub who’s anywhere close to my type. Most of the others here are way too obedient to relate to the issues of a brat like me.” She grinned.

“Sure.” Sam got up. She glanced at the people in the room. Anybody looking in through the window would just see a normal group of people, socializing, laughing, having fun. And that’s really what they were. So normal.

Jack opened the door of the office that still didn’t really feel like his own. Kerry Johnson gave him a wide smile, and her chestnut eyes sparkled. “Okay, we’ll do that then.”

“Great.”

“So…” She stopped and turned in the doorway, her fingers brushing one of the locks of her long, curly hair out of her face. “See you tonight?”

“You betcha.” He grinned. “When do you have to be back in Washington?”

“Tomorrow morning.”

“Not much time then.”

“I’m sure I’ll have half an hour to spare.” She leaned in. Jack’s breath lodged in his throat when her warm, sensual lips brushed along his mouth.

Clearing his throat, he put his hands on her shoulders and brought an inch of distance between them. “Careful there. We wouldn’t want any awkward situations.”

She bit her lower lip and ran her hand down his chest, a flirtatious glint in her eyes. “We could always, you know, close the door to your office.”

He smirked. “I’m known for insubordinate behavior, but that’d push it a little.”

“Aren’t you the boss around here?”

“Which is why I should set a good example. I’ll see you tonight.”

“I’ll be there.” She gave him another lingering glance, then turned and left the office with a gentle sway of her hips.

She was quite something. Different from his usual type, but definitely intriguing. He closed the door, turned back to his desk and froze.

Carter stood in the doorway to his office, face pale. His gut wrenched. Crap. Had she seen them? Who cares? She’s about to marry the cop. Why would she care? Why did he care?

He cleared his throat and walked over to his desk. “Carter, what’s up?”

“Sorry, sir, I didn’t mean to…” She fiddled with her hands and stepped closer. “Who was that?”

“Kerry Johnson.” He looked up, studying her.

“The new CIA liaison officer?”

“Yeah.” He kept his gaze locked on her. Why did she look like the world was about to end? He dropped his pen. “What’s up?” he repeated, gentler.

“I… I wanted to… um…” She blinked and looked back at the door as if she needed to remember why she’d come. “Major Davis called. They wanna talk to you about the device on Dakara.”

“I’ll have Walter make the arrangements.” Since when had she taken on Walter’s administrative duties? “Was there something else?”

“Yes. No. I…” She closed her eyes. “I wanted to take a personal day off. On Monday, Sir.”

“Granted.” Everything inside him wanted to get up and pull her into a hug. He tensed. No, she wasn’t his anymore. “Anything else?”

“No, Sir.” She shook her head, then turned and rushed out the door.

Jack stared after her. She’d been off for quite a while now, handing in reports too late, holding sloppy artifact briefings. Plus she never confused him with any scientific nonsense anymore.

Concern pulled at him. He’d never seen her like this. So out of it. Lost. Almost miserable.

Wishful thinking, O’Neill. He sighed. Pete was a good guy from what he’d heard. Surely, she was just a little sidetracked with the wedding. Besides, it wasn’t his place to get involved in the affairs of a subordinate.

Because that’s what she was. A subordinate and nothing more. He had to learn to remember that.

Kerry Johnson. Beautiful. Feminine. Sensual. Everything Sam herself was, well, not.

She should have known Jack wouldn’t stay single forever. At least not after she’d accepted Pete’s proposal. There’d always been the sense that both of them waited for each other during the past years. But her upcoming marriage with Pete made that pointless for him.

But seeing him with Kerry Johnson…

And then the thing with her father. He’d die. Maybe in a few days or a week. There was nothing the doctors could do for him. Pain made her throat constrict.

The infirmary room swam in front of her eyes as she looked down at her father in his sickbed. At least she’d gotten a few more years with him. He should have died four years before from cancer. But a Tok’ra symbiont had saved him.

Next to her, the door to the observatory compartment opened. Sam turned her head as Jack entered.

She gave him a weak smile.

“You okay?”

“I’m fine.” As if. “Strange as it may sound. I thought I lost him four years ago. Since then we’ve been closer than we were my whole life.” She turned her head back to her dad. If only things were that simple.

Jack sat down next to her. “C’mere.” He wrapped his arm around her shoulders and drew her closer. His familiar warmth surrounded her, promising a kind of comfort she hadn’t felt in a long time. She leaned against his shoulder, into the embrace, her thumb gently caressing his hand.

“Thank you, sir.”

“For what?”

“Being here for me.”

He turned his head to look at her. “Always.”

His sincere tone made her eyes sting. His dark gaze held hers tenderly. After all that had happened, after how she’d left him and planned to marry Pete, he still looked out for her. He was so much better than she deserved. Why had she ever let him go?

Pete bought a house. A house!

For the past two days the thought had haunted Sam, chasing away sleep and peace of mind. Yes, the house had been an almost exact duplicate to the description she’d once given him, but he’d never even asked her. Again, control seemed to be slipping away. Was that what their marriage would be like?

She couldn’t do it. It had to stop. If anything, that dream house showed her the little girl who’d once dreamed about a house like this had grown up and knew what she really wanted now. A house wasn’t enough if it didn’t come with the life that made her happy.

Pete didn’t make a scene. To be honest, she had expected him to be a lot more emotional. When he got up and stomped off to his car, guilt battled with unbelievable relief inside her. This was goodbye.

As he drove off, she inhaled deeply. As though she came up for air after a long dive in a deep, dark pool of water. The first breath one took when breaking through the surface always offered an absolute awareness of being alive.

She was finally free.

Sam had sat in her car for over half an hour before she finally gathered enough courage to approach the front door. She pressed the doorbell, and then waited, arms wrapped around herself.

For a long time nothing happened. She was almost ready to leave when the door opened. Jack stared at her, brows raised, not moving for a few seconds. He still wore his dress uniform, so he’d probably just gotten home from his briefing in Washington. Or he’d been getting ready to leave again.

He cleared his throat. “Carter.”

“Sir.” She flinched. Not really a good start.

“What’s up?”

“Do you have a minute?”

He studied her. “Sure.”

“Inside?”

“Oh?” He hesitated visibly.

“Unless you have company. I mean, Daniel told me, you and Ms Johnson aren’t… you’re not… seeing each other anymore.”

“He did, did he?” Jack’s face remained blank.

“But if you’re with someone—”

“Carter, what’s going on?”

“We need to talk.”

“Come on in already.” He opened the door wider to let her in.

She stepped inside. Everything was the way she remembered it. Nothing had changed since she’d run out on him almost a year ago. One year. To her it felt like it had been yesterday, and the entire past year was only a weird, distorted dream. God, how did one pick up a relationship after a year? His interior design might not have changed, but what if he had?

“Want a beer?”

She turned and gave him a smile. “Sure.”

He entered the kitchen. “How’s Pete?”

“I don’t know. I haven’t seen him in over a week.”

When he left the kitchen, he wore a quizzical expression. She glanced at the kitchen table, and her cheeks heated when she remembered the last time she’d been here. How she’d let him push her up on that table…

Her fingers grazed his when she took the beer he offered her.

“We’re not seeing each other anymore. The wedding’s off.” Why hadn’t he heard the news yet? Usually stuff like this spread like wildfire around the base.

“What happened?” Shock and concern flickered in his eyes.

“I broke off the engagement.” She gulped down some beer, enjoying the cold liquid that ran down her throat.

He just stared at her.

She shifted from one foot to the other. “But that’s not why I’m here.”

“Why are you here?”

Another gulp of beer. Her fingers tightened around the bottle. How was she supposed to start this? Maybe it was too late anyway. Maybe there was an expiration date on feelings.

“Sam?”

The intimate address made her look up. His dark gaze deepened, and she swallowed hard. “I—I wanted… I’ve been sitting in my car for half an hour…”

“Oh?”

She bit her lower lip. “I needed to tell you… I wanted… I’m sorry. For everything.”

Silence.

The knot in her stomach grew harder. “I know we can’t just act as though the past year never happened. I—I should have never left you.”

He remained unmoving. “Why did you?”

She took a shaky breath. So he was gonna make her take the hard road. Fair enough. “I panicked. Everything was so new and overwhelming. I thought…” She closed her eyes. “It turned out I was wrong. The family, the house, the dog. It’s not what I want. Or not all, at least.”

He folded his arms.

Sam’s eyes stung as the pressure grew to almost unbearable levels. “Please. Say something.”

His face gentled. “So what is it you want then? Now, here, from me.”

“You.” She held her breath. “I want you.” Fear clutched her stomach with an iron fist. Would he ask her what the hell she was thinking coming here after over a year?

Her eyes widened as he crossed the distance between them. He held her gaze for a few seconds, his face so close his breath fanned her face. Then he inched closer and his mouth found hers in an unexpected kiss, long and lingering. Her lips parted for his tongue. He tasted like alcohol, breath mint and something so familiarly him it almost hurt. Her fingers trembled as she touched the coarse material of his uniform jacket. A sigh escaped, muffled by his lips.

Way too soon, he broke the kiss and withdrew. “Want me like that?”

She chuckled, relief flooding her. “Yes, Sir.”

“Sir?” He raised his brows. Only the ghost of a smile betrayed his amusement.

“I did a lot of research during the past four weeks.”

“You did?” He cocked his eyebrows, apparently not understanding the change in topic.

“I should’ve done that a year ago instead of running away. I read into D/s and everything related to it. A friend referred me to one of the local sub communities.” Maybe someday she’d be able to thank Janet for all she’d done.

“And?” Barely a rasp.

“I’m a submissive. In the bedroom. It’s who I am and what I want. And I want it with you.”

The silence grew almost unbearable. At last, Jack linked their fingers. “Come with me.” He drew her with him down the stairs to the living room. “We’re gonna have to talk about this.”

“Okay.” Her voice shook. She sank down on the couch. Her concern grew as he studied her.

“We can’t have the same arrangement as before.”

Her heart sank. “I see.” She took a large sip of beer. Well, she’d known this was a possibility. They had both changed, and just because she still felt the same about him didn’t mean he felt that way about her.

“If we’re gonna do this, we’re gonna do it right this time.”

She blinked at him. “What?”

“One of your reasons for leaving was you didn’t wanna risk your career. And that was a valid point. I should’ve never expected you to jeopardize your career in the first place. So we’re gonna clear our relationship with the Air Force.”

She stared at him. Relationship? Her heart jumped. And then dropped when she processed the rest of his statement. “What?”

“I’ll hand in my resignation. If that’s not accepted, I’ll hand in a transfer request and pull some strings. I’ll tell them what’s going on.”

“Oh, God.” Blood drained from her face. “You’ll tell them what we did?”

“Carter.” He drawled her name, a slow smirk pulling at his lips. “Of course not. I’ll tell them we have feelings for each other. And that we’d like to act on them, but we don’t wanna break the regs.” He reached out and took her hand. “I don’t care about my career. I’ve had a long and good one. But you shouldn’t feel like you have to decide between one and the other.”

“Okay.” Her breath caught. “What if they expect us to get married?”

“Then we’ll diplomatically tell ‘em where to shove it.”

She laughed. “You wouldn’t.”

“Watch me. I learned one or two things about diplomacy in the past year. We’ll do this on our terms. And I won’t ask the Air Force for permission. I’ll tell them the facts. If they don’t accept my resignation, they’ll have to come up with a solution that’ll work for us and those damn regs.” His eyes gleamed as he took a sip of beer. “Now, we’re gonna have to set up some parameters for our relationship. The general one, and the kinkier parts of it. To define, you know, comfort zones.”

She nodded. “Yes, S—Jack.”

He leaned in. “Rule number one: Communication. Any feelings, anger, fear, doubt, happiness or whatever, will be communicated. Generally, and especially during scenes. So will any problems. I’d like a chance to fix things if I mess up.”

“Yes, Sir.” She squeezed his hand. “But that’s gonna be a two-way street. I’d like the same courtesy.”

When he raised his brows, she swallowed.

“You have a habit of shutting people out and withdrawing when…” She cleared her throat. “…things get emotionally intense.”

“I do.” He nodded. “I’ll do my best.”

“Fair enough.” She smiled and he returned it warmly.

Then his face grew serious again. “Rule number two: The original weekend deal’s invalid. We’re gonna have an actual relationship. Full-time. I’m not saying we gotta move in together, but I want the real deal.”

“Okay.” She put her beer down on the table. “Rule number three,” she then added. “The Friday evening rule is off the table, too. Any day of the week goes.”

“Amendment to that: Games are restricted to bedroom activities.”

Sam leaned back. “I put in a request for rephrasing: games are restricted to sexual activities. Cause, you know, just the bedroom is kinda boring.”

His gaze heated. “Seems somebody needs a reminder of just how exciting a bedroom can be.”

She swallowed against the sudden dryness in her mouth. “Rule number four.” Her voice trembled. “The submissive has the right to vanilla sex at any time instead of a scene.”

“So does the Dom.”

“Agreed.” She nodded. “Rule number five: The relationship will be exclusive and monogamous.”

“No argument from me.” He took a sip of his beer and leaned back. “Let’s talk about the parameters for our D/s activities. You said you did some research?”

“I did. And talked to a few of the subs in a local group. And I did a couple of tests. Apparently I classify as a Warrior Princess sub, with slightly bratty tendencies. Do you know what that means?”

“Lots of fun?” His eyes darkened, and a smirk played around his mouth.

Her pulse sped up. “I’m independent, I’ll fight my own fights and I don’t need a man to protect me. I’ll be yours in the bedroom under the agreed-upon conditions. But outside of it, I’m a self-reliant woman and a soldier with a career. I won’t give any of that up. We’re equal partners.” She straightened. “And during a scene, I may occasionally talk back or disobey an order just to push you. Or push myself.”

“Well.” He leaned forward until his lips almost touched hers. “You’re just my type then. Pretty sure I can handle you.”

Her gaze dropped to his lips, then returned to his eyes. “We’ll have to test that theory, Sir.”

“Oh, we will. Later. Anything else?”

“Limits. We set up a working basic limits list a year ago. But we should sit down and compile an actual list where we both define what we will or won’t do,” she said.

“That list won’t be set in stone though. Limits may be renegotiated should either party consider it necessary.” When he saw her smile, he raised his eyebrows. “What?”

“You’ve really gotten into the whole bureaucracy thing, haven’t you? I remember a time where you didn’t even read your memos. Or our reports.”

“Hey, you learn a lot when you deal with those goons in Washington.” He grinned. “What’s next?”

“That’s all from me, I think.”

“I got one more,” Jack said. “After every scene, we’ll talk about what we did. At least in the beginning. Also, your safeword will stop a scene immediately without consequences. The safeword will be designated as Quarks.”

“Accepted.”

“Now, since you gave me a speech about your classification, let me give you mine. I don’t care about standard rules in D/s relationships. I make my own according to what works for me—or us. I can be a huge ass at times, sometimes consciously, sometimes not. I’ll probably forget anniversaries. Just not something I care for. Oh, and I can be rather impatient. Are you aware of what that means?”

“We’re gonna have an occasional fight?” She gave him a cheeky smile.

“For starters.”

“I don’t care about anniversaries. I usually forget them, too.”

“Do tell.”

“And we’ve been in the field together for almost seven years. I know all about your impatience. I guess that means working overtime when we have a date is out of the question?” She just had to challenge him.

“You betcha.” His face grew thoughtful. “Unless of course there’s an emergency. Like our buddy Thor dropping in. Or beaming one of us up to his ship without notice. Ba’al threatening to destroy the galaxy. That kinda stuff.”

“I can live with that.” She slid closer, her fingers linking with his. She studied him for a moment. His hair had gotten greyer, and the fine lines around his eyes had deepened. To her, if anything, he looked even more attractive than ever. “One more thing.”

“What’s that?” He inched closer, and his breath mingled with hers.

“I know it’ll take a while for you to forgive me. I love you and I promise I won’t run out on you again.”

“Sam. There’s nothing to forgive.” His nose brushed hers. “I’ve never stopped loving you.”

“Not even when I was with Pete?”

He cleared his throat. “Well, I can’t say it made me happy. But it never changed my feelings for you. Besides, it was what you needed at the time. And you never returned the bracelet.”

She stared at him. “What?”

He grinned. “Apparently your research didn’t include collars?”

“Not really.”

“Since you let me collar you with the bracelet, standard procedure would’ve been to give it back. You never did. So, strictly speaking, you never stopped being my submissive.”

She swallowed hard. “Jack. I swear I… I didn’t know… I was supposed to give it back? If I’d known…”

“Relax, Carter. I’m teasing you. Just enjoying your awkward babbling.”

She smacked his shoulder. Her breath hitched when their lips finally met, soft, rediscovering each other. When they broke apart, his eyes gleamed. “What do you say we make it formal?” He put his beer down on the table.

“As in writing it down and signing it?” She stared at him. Did he really want her to sign a written sheet of paper?

“I was thinking more along the lines of dragging you into the bedroom and claiming what’s mine.”

“Or that. I like that much better.”

He pulled her to her feet and drew her against the hard planes of his chest. She wrapped her arms around him when he buried his face in her neck. Home. Finally home. Her head swam.

Jack grazed his lips along her jawline, never quite kissing. Her skin tingled with awareness of him. He stopped at her ear. “Choice is yours: scene or vanilla?”

Her heart raced. “Scene.”

He nipped her lower lip. “Go into the bedroom. Undress. I want you kneeling on the floor next to the bed. You’ve got five minutes.”

She flinched. “I have to take a shower first. I’ve come straight from work, and I didn’t expect we’d…you know.”

He chuckled. “Fine. Ten minutes. Your soap’s in the cabinet next to the door.”

She withdrew and stared at him. “You kept my stuff?”

Her heart swelled, and before he could answer she pulled him close. Her lips opened under his and his tongue delved deep inside, leaving her wanting so much more.

He withdrew way too quickly. “Go. Shower. I’ll be there in ten.”

“Yes, Sir,” she said throatily.

Sam brushed her fingers through her short hair and straightened when the floor right outside the bedroom creaked. She lowered her head and placed her hands on her upper thighs, hiding the bracelet she held in her hand. The standard submissive position she’d found online.

Jack entered and closed the bedroom door. She remained unmoving even as he approached her. His hand tangled in her hair, his touch warm, loving, caressing.

“Sam, look at me.”

She lifted her head and held his gaze.

“I see you weren’t kidding when you said you did your research. Here’s a new rule, though. I never want you to lower your gaze.” His thumb brushed along her lower lip. “I wanna see your beautiful eyes.”

“Yes, Sir.” Her voice came out almost toneless. She swallowed and lifted her hand with the bracelet. “I brought this, Sir.”

He took the jewelry from her, a smile playing around his mouth. “You want me to put it on you?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Later.” He took her hand and pulled her to her feet. She trembled when her naked breasts brushed against the coarse material of his uniform jacket. Her nipples bunched as they grazed along the fabric. God, she was naked—and he was wearing his full dress uniform. Arousing and so scandalous at the same time.

She sighed when he took her lips in a tender kiss, exploring, reclaiming.

“Get on the bed.” His breath fanned her face.

She sank down on the bed and slid to the middle of the mattress, her eyes never leaving his.

She watched as he shrugged off his uniform jacket, then undid his navy blue tie. With a glint in his eyes, he kneeled down on the bed next to her. “Give me your hands.” The relentlessness in his voice sent a pang of need through her abdomen.

When she held them out to him, he tied her wrists together. With his blue Air Force tie. Oh God.

Heat stabbed at her. When he pulled her hands above her head to tie the other end to his headboard, she released a groan.

“You know, technically, we’re still acting against the regs, Sir.” Goosebumps spread along her skin.

“I thought of that.” He got back up and undid button after button on his shirt.

Sam twisted her hands. Where had he learned to tie a knot like that with his tie? Definitely not Air Force training. She couldn’t get out of this even if she wanted to.

He dropped his shirt onto the wardrobe. Then he pulled his undershirt over his head. Standard uniforms didn’t allow for easy access. He undid his belt and the button of his pants, and then knelt down on the bed again.

“I’m gonna have your sweet little body now. You got a problem with that, colonel?”

“Yes, Sir.” She bit her lower lip, trying (but undoubtedly failing) to give him a defiant stare.

His eyes gleamed. “Well, too bad you can’t do anything about it.”

She inhaled deeply when he ran his warm palm down her front—from her collarbone down between her breasts and along her stomach. Then in a whispering caress over her abdomen, barely brushing her labia.

Anticipation and tension mounted, growing almost unbearable. Her body trembled under his tender caress, every fiber of her being coming back to life. God, how she’d missed this. How she’d missed him.

He leaned down and his hot lips wrapped around one of her nipples. She gritted her teeth against the onslaught of pleasure. Her body arched against him, but he took his time with first one nipple, then the other.

“Don’t move.” His eyes darkened.

Breath labored, she tugged at her restraint.

He flipped her over on her stomach in an effortless move. Sam gasped in surprise and lifted her head, but that was about all she could do in this position with her hands tied. Jack nibbled her earlobe and then his lips seared a path down her neck. “Let’s make one thing very clear. In this bed, you’re not in control.”

His mouth trailed down along her spine, then he grabbed her hips, pulling them up. His fly unzipped behind her.

She fisted her hands. He was gonna take her from behind. Her legs trembled with anticipation. God, yes, so fast. She needed him. After all this time, she couldn’t take the overload of senses anymore.

He seemed to hesitate, and then leaned down over her. His chest hair tickled her back as he nuzzled her ear. “You want me to use protection?”

She lifted her head. Why did he even ask that? Then it dawned on her. Kerry. But since he’d been given a clean bill of health… “No. Please don’t, Sir.”

He grabbed her wrists as if to remind her just whom she belonged to. “In that case, brace yourself. I’m gonna fuck you. Hard.”

“Yes, S—” The words died on a grunt as he thrust into her. God, he wasn’t kidding. She panted. So big, so hot, so deep inside her. She’d forgotten just how deliciously her muscles stretched around his size.

He gave her a few seconds before he pulled out only to thrust back in, even deeper. She couldn’t muffle her outcry. He gave her another leveled thrust, then picked up a fast pace.

Sam tugged at the tie, her skin heating as she panted on every thrust. “Sir… Sir… please…”

He groaned against the back of her neck. “God, I’ve missed you.” He pressed a kiss against her nape. “So much.”

He started thrusting harder, deeper. She muffled her grunts and screams in the pillow. How was this even possible? All these months she’d had sex with Pete she’d had to work so hard to get anywhere close to release. And now… So easy…

His hand slipped around her and sure fingers found her clit, taking her even faster to the edge. Just the right spot, just the right angle. She clutched the pillow as pressure mounted, growing almost unbearable.

She arched her neck. “Sir. Can I…?”

His quick breath fanned her neck. “Come for me, sweetheart.”

Sweetheart. Her head spun. She’d always loved when he called her that, especially because the only time he ever used it was during their scenes.

Her body shook as her muscles clenched around him. Ecstasy swept her away. She pressed her head into the pillow, screaming her release, her hands tugging at the restraint so hard it had to leave a mark. Well, who cared?

He didn’t stop thrusting. Not even when she whimpered and writhed against him to ease the sensation of overstimulation. Too much. And yet, she didn’t want him to stop.

He kept going for a moment longer, before he shuddered and collapsed on top of her. His chest heaved, his skin hot and damp against hers. She closed her eyes, reveling in his warmth, his weight, and his softening length inside her.

“God, I needed that so bad.” Panting, she dropped her head to the pillow. Satisfaction spread through every cell of her body.

He chuckled and his hand tangled in her hair, playing with the short strands. He lifted and rolled off of her. His eyes sparkled when her gaze met his. When he leaned in to drop a kiss on her shoulder, his mouth tickled her skin. Sighing, she arched her neck as he seared a slow path to her nape.

She closed her eyes, reveling in his tenderness. Somehow he always seemed to be aware of what she needed. Rough first, then gentle… Or did he just happen to need the same things at the same time?

“C’mere.” He drew her into his arms. Contented, she wrapped her legs around his hips as he nuzzled her neck. Then she twisted her hands.

“Sir, could you…”

He grinned. “I kinda like you like this. Mine. Tied to my bed.” He captured her lips, his tongue delving deep inside. “In the truest sense of the word”

She giggled. “I’ll be yours without the tie.”

Smirking, he undid the knot around her wrists. When he looked up, he flinched. “Oh, for crying out loud.”

She turned her head. Red streaks lined her wrists where the coarse material had rubbed against her skin. She shrugged. “Worth it.”

He took her hands and rubbed her wrists gently. She flinched against the mild pain.

“Remind me not to use the tie on you again.”

She played with the garment, running it through her fingers. “I really like it. General O’Neill, taking off his dress uniform and using his tie to bind my wrists to his bed. Do you have any idea how hot that is?”

His eyes gleamed. “I’ll keep that in mind. But your next medical’s due in three days.”

“Janet knows.”

“She what?”

“Not about us. She knows I’m into this. I’m pretty sure she won’t mention it in any official reports.”

“How the hell does she know that?”

“It came up. In conversation.” She flinched and placed the tie on the nightstand. “I really can’t tell you more. You’re still her commanding officer.”

He narrowed his eyes. “She’s a Domme, isn’t she?”

Sam blinked. How the hell? “Jack.” She pushed his chest gently.

“Come on, Carter. I’m gonna resign anyway. I always had this feeling about her. Just don’t say anything if I’m right.”

She sighed and rolled her eyes, but remained silent. Technically, she hadn’t said anything. Jack had figured it out by himself.

Triumph flashed across his face. “I knew it. Napoleonic power monger.”

“I’m gonna enjoy your snarky exchanges. Just promise me you won’t tell her you know.”

“I won’t. Promise.” He drew her close and pressed a kiss on one wrist, then the other.

She slid closer and buried her face in his neck. His skin was hot, and his heart pounded fast under her hands. He wrapped his arms around her. God, how she’d missed him. “So that means our contract is official now?”

A smile pulled at his lips. “Yeah sure, ya betcha.”

He rolled onto his back and reached for the bracelet on the nightstand. Sam smiled when he linked his fingers with hers. He put the bracelet around her wrist and snapped the lock shut.

“You wanna be able to take it off?”

She bit her lower lip and shook her head. “No, Sir.”

A thrill spiked through her belly when he pressed a tiny button at the underside and a little click sounded. “You’ll need the key to open it now.”

She studied the piece of jewelry. “I’m yours.” She placed her head on his chest and linked their fingers again. “Can I ask you something?”

“Anything.”

“You and Kerry…did you…ever…you know…do this?” She didn’t dare look at him. After being with Pete for so long she didn’t have a right to be jealous. She could handle the thought of Jack and Kerry being together. But Kerry submitting to him?

His hand tangled in her hair. “No.”

She lifted her head and looked at him. “Not even once?”

“It never came up.”

“You didn’t ask her?”

“Wasn’t interested in doing it with her.” He dropped a kiss to her temple, and then raised his brows. “Did you and Pete…?”

“No.” She shook her head, and flinched. “God, no.”

“Right. You wanted a normal relationship with him.”

She hid her face against his shoulder. “I was an idiot.”

“Normal didn’t work out for you?” She heard the smile in his voice.

Her fingers tugged at his chest hair tenderly. “As you once said, normal is relative.” She lifted herself on her forearms and inched closer. “I think we’re pretty normal.”

“Oh yeah. As normal as they come.”

 

The End (March 26, 2015)

Next chapter: Kidnapped

Author’s Notes:

Okay, pretty long chapter this time. With lots of information in the middle part. But since you all enjoyed the educational aspect of this story, I figured I’d give it a try and let you take part in Sam’s little online search. First of all, all the research is sound. I inserted links to the book I referred to, as well as the submissive test Sam takes. (Links removed upon request.) Those are actual real things, so those of you who are curious, you can find more in the actual book or take the test yourselves. ;)

I also ran both tests (the submissive test and the dominant test) for Sam and Jack. Sam turned out to be a Warrior Princess/Brat, which fit so perfectly it was scary. While Jack turned out to be an Ineffable Dom (also rather fitting for how I set him up). It was kinda interesting to put myself into the heads of the characters and ask myself: Okay, what would Jack/Sam say here? (Also, it occasionally made me wonder whether I was taking the whole research thing a bit too far. :D )

As I said before, I really wanted to show BDSM in a different light in this story. Not the sensationalist stuff you always see on television (which also exists, but does in no way reflect all the facets of this subculture or lifestyle). I hope I somewhat succeeded. 

It was important to me to show Sam’s change of character in this chapter. And yes, I know, technically Janet isn’t alive anymore. I’m in total denial about that. So I guess this story has moved along the lines of AU with that, but let’s face it, it kinda was an AU all the time, so… :D

An important thing I didn’t want to do was stamp Pete as the bad guy. I guess he still kinda comes across as such, since I had to work with what was on screen. But I wanted to show him a little weaker than Sam. And the fact that Pete actually wants her to take on a ‘dominant’ role by tying him up is kinda where it wrote itself. Pete isn’t into BDSM, though. I wanna make that clear. Just the occasional kink of being tied up in bed isn’t really BDSM or D/s. 

But it’s important that Sam still has submissive urges. Pete’s idea of her ‘dominating’ him (or rather tying him up) makes her uncomfortable. Which is the usual reaction a sub would have when asked to take on the dominant role. S/he’d feel out of place. Just as a dominant would if s/he were to take on the role of a submissive.