Bella couldn’t believe what she had just done with Edward. However, it reawakened all the feelings she experienced before “him”. Despite telling Rose that she didn’t need a boyfriend but a Dominant, she never expected to meet someone like Edward. He was something that she never imagined that she needed—a partner outside of the playroom.
He caught up with her in the hallway and slapped her on the ass. “Little minx,” he growled, grasping her hand. “Let’s go to my office so we can go over our limits. Maggie said that dinner should be ready by seven.”
“What time are Rose and Emmett getting back?” Bella asked. She loved Rose like a sister, but she wanted more time alone with Edward. There was so much they needed to talk about, and she was still physically aching from their encounter a few minutes ago.
“They were going to dinner, so I figured it would be late,” Edward answered, bringing her hand to his lips and placing a kiss. “I know you are unsure about them knowing about us, but let us sit down and discuss it.”
“Okay. I know it is going to be impossible for us to hide how we feel for the next two weeks,” Bella divulged.
“I know,” he answered as he opened the door to his office. He loved this room and frequently would get his best ideas here. Of course, he also had a large office on the sixty-second floor of his high-rise building in Boston. However, being the boss meant he could be anywhere he damn well pleased. He led Bella over to the oversized leather couch with the spectacular view of the water through the floor-to-ceiling window; which brightened the dark wood of the room.
“I love this room,” Bella admitted as she looked around. The room had a masculine feeling, and every inch screamed Edward.
“I do too. Have a seat while I get our limits list.”
It shocked Bella when he said that. How did he have a list of her limits? “You have a copy of my limits.”
Edward grabbed the folder from his desk and headed back to the couch. “Yes. You submitted it to the community in Seattle.”
“Can anyone just pull that information from the database?” Bella asked, nervous at just how many people were able to access information about her limits.
Edward sat the folder on the table in front of the couch and placed his hand on her knee. He could see and feel her trembling. “Isabella, look at me,” he said, his voice full of concern. Once she looked up at him, he explained. “No, not just anybody can access your limits list. Access is restricted only to the managing Dominant and, of course, the owner of the club.”
“Oh, I’m sorry, I forgot that,” she muttered as a bloom of color broke out across her cheeks.
“I understand. We are still learning about each other,” he declared, then placed a kiss on her sweet lips. He loved the feel and taste of them, knowing he would never tire of them. It took all his self-control to pull away from them. “Alright, I have two copies of each of our lists so we can go over them together. I use the same concept as I do with your safe words. Green are limits, you have no problem performing. Yellow are limits you have no experience in, yet might be willing to try after going over your concerns. Red are limits you will never tolerate, no matter what.”
Bella’s other Dominants had presented checklists in this format before, it made perfect sense. Taking the list from Edward, she looked over it, remembering that it had been three years since she last updated hers. She had reviewed her limits right before signing a three-month contract with “him.” Instead of reviewing her green or yellow limits, she went straight to her red limits and saw that knife play was checked. She let out the breath she had been holding as a calming blanket engulfed her, knowing that she had checked it as a no-go activity. It was the verification that she needed that “he” knew, and proceeded with the hard limit anyway.
Edward had been watching Bella’s face as she looked over her list. Her pupils were dilated and her hand shook. When she got to the section that she was looking for, she calmed down. He knew it was when she had indeed checked that knife play was marked as a hard limit. “Is there anything you would like to change?”
“No,” she muttered.
“Maybe that will change after you look at my list,” he declared as he handed her his list. He had updated his list after his last submissive contract had finished.
Bella’s eyes grew large at the number of green items he had checked. “Wow, you have a lot of green checks.”
Placing his hand on her knee to get attention, he squeezed it. “I have been a Dominant fifteen years longer than you have. I have been able to experience more activities in and out of the playroom over the years.”
“But I have only a few green activities. How is this going to work?” Bella asked, concerned that she had gotten her hopes up for nothing.
“Isabella, don’t look at my green list. Look at my red list,” Edward urged. He had already compared their lists. She was correct that he had more items checked under his green column. However, their red column was almost identical. Watching her intently, he knew the second she saw he had the same hard limit concerning knife play.
When Bella saw how compatible they were in terms of the red limits, she couldn’t help but smile. He had only one item on his list that was not on her hard limit, and that was canes. Although her first Dominant took her to a play party in which the submissive was caned, she had never felt the pain of a cane. There was an eerie sound as the wooden cane sliced across the air before coming into contact with the submissive’s ass. The submissive moaned out in pure pleasure, though Bella couldn’t get past the sound. “We disagree on canes,” she said, her eyes downcast.
Putting his finger under her chin, he raised it to look into her molten chocolate eyes. “I noticed. Would you mind telling me why you dislike canes so much? Is it because you don’t like the pain that it causes?”
Shaking her head. “I have never experienced being struck by a cane, but I don’t like the sound that it makes as it cuts through the air.”
“Yes, there is an unusual sound, yet when wielded by an experienced Dominant, a cane can bring you unbelievable pleasure,” Edward informed. “However, I will never use a cane on you unless you change your mind.”
“I don’t think I will,” Bella declared.
“Okay,” Edward replied, pulling out a copy of their Dominant/Submissive contract. “Here is the contract. Before you decide to enter this relationship, I would like you to read it several times.”
“Why wait? I can read this fast and if everything looks okay, I’ll sign,” Bella stated with conviction.
“Because I want this to work. Not just in the playroom, but out there,” he said, pointing outside.
“I want that also,” she answered. “I’ve never had a boyfriend.”
“What?” Edward questioned, his voice raised by several octaves. “Didn’t you date in high school or college?”
“I went out on a few first dates, but there was no connection. It wasn’t until I went to an Open House at the club that I found what I had been looking for,” she answered.
“I understand. It wasn’t until I found the community that I felt whole,” Edward admitted. Fuck, he needed to be inside of her again. Just as he was about to reach out and pull her onto his lap, there was a knock on the door. “Yes.”
The door opened and Richard stepped in. “Mr. Cullen, dinner is ready to be served.”
“Thank you,” Edward said. “Let’s continue getting to know each other over dinner.”
“I would love that. Can I leave this here?” Bella asked, pointing to the paperwork.
“Yes. The only person who comes in the office is Mrs. Cope,” Edward declares. “I do not permit the rest of the housekeepers in here or the playroom, which is locked.” Standing up, he offered her a hand.
Putting her delicate hand on his, she sighed at the electric current flowing between them. It was so warm and comforting. They walked out of the office and headed down the stairs. After reaching the ground floor, Edward escorted her towards the double doors leading to the back deck. Stepping out onto the massive deck, which ran the entire length of the house, Bella let out a gasp. Although she had seen thousands of sunsets, this one took her breath away as the daylight faded behind the clouds, the last rays of its brilliance fought against the impending darkness. The ocean resembled a mirror, reflecting the vivid oranges, auburn reds, and warm yellows. “This is unbelievably beautiful,” Bella whispered, enjoying the peaceful sound of the waves crashing onto the beach.
“Although I think you’re far more beautiful,” Edward said, wrapping his arms around her and pulling her close to his body. The last glimmer of the sun disappeared from below the horizon as they stood motionless, their chests beating in sync as they breathed in and out together. “Come, let’s find out what Mrs. Cope has fixed us for dinner and we can find out more about each other.”
Edward smiled at the table that was set up for them. The table was covered in a white linen tablecloth, china plates, and his best crystal glasses. Instead of candles, which would never stay lit in the breeze that came off the ocean, lanterns were lit with electric candles. Mrs. Cope had also set several other lanterns around the area, along with some freshly cut flowers. Richard and Maggie Cope always gave him flack about finding a good girl to settle down with and have cute babies to cuddle.
As Bella sat down, she smiled at him. She didn’t want to compare Edward to her other Dominants, but in the short time she knew him, he stood out above them all. “Thank you.”
Leaning down, he placed a quick, sweet kiss on her full lips. “You are very welcome.” As soon as he was seated, Richard came over with a bottle of wine.
“Following your request, Sir,” Richard began, holding up the black bottle of wine with a screaming eagle on the front. “This is Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon of Napa Valley.” Pouring a small amount in each of their glasses, he waited until they tasted the dark red liquid.
Bella picked up her glass, swirled the deep garnet-purple-colored wine around before bringing it up to her nose to inhale the bright, exuberant blackberries and black currants. “Smells heavenly.” She and Rose had gone to several wine tastings when they lived in Seattle, and along the way, she had picked up the art of tasting.
“It is one of my favorites, though I only drink it on special occasions,” Edward advised, bringing the glass to lips and sipping the delicious liquid. “Richard, it is perfect as always.” Edward appreciated the expertise that Isabella displayed in her tasting. He wondered if she knew about the brand or the fact that the bottle they were drinking was $14,000.00.
“Wonderful, Sir,” Richard replied and filled their glasses. As soon as he stepped back, his lovely wife was coming out of the house carrying two fresh salads.
After placing the bowls in front of Edward and Bella, they went back inside to plate the main course. Casual conversation flowed between them during the meal. As they enjoyed the luscious piece of Mrs. Cope’s homemade carrot cake for dessert, Edward wanted to talk some more about their possible arrangement. He turned towards Richard, who was standing by the door to see to their needs. “Richard, please go and enjoy the rest of the evening with your lovely wife. Isabella and I will bring our plates and glasses in when we finish.”
“Certainly, Sir,” Richard answered, before heading back into the house with a smile. He had seen the interaction between the couple and hoped that this was the beginning of the happily ever after that Edward deserved.
When Edward was sure that they were alone, he began. “So, are you still sure that you want to sign the contract?”
Without hesitation, Bella answered. “Yes. Do you still want me to wait until tomorrow to sign?”
“Yes, I want you to wait. However, I wanted to talk to you about getting the information concerning your expenses, so I can arrange to pay them,” he advised. This was something that he did for all his submissives during the time they were in a Dominant/submissive contract.
“You don’t have to do that,” Bella muttered, lowering her eyes.
“If you are agreeing to be my submissive, then it is my pleasure and duty to take care of you,” Edward said, his voice coming out harder than he wanted. He knew immediately that it had affected Isabella because he saw her flinch. Placing his fork on the table, he reaches over and put his hand on her arm. “Isabella, I am sorry for my tone.”
“It is fine, Sir,” Bella whispered.
“Edward, please call me Edward when you are not collared,” he urged.
“Of course. Edward, you don’t need to pay my bills,” Bella insisted.
“Emmett said you just purchased a condo. I am sure that the mortgage payment is substantial and you haven’t started working yet.” Edward explained.
She hated that she had paid for her condo with fucking blood money. The blood she lost during the attack and the scars as a reminder that she carried to this day. “I paid cash for the condo and other bills are set up to come out of an expense account. It is correct that I haven’t started working yet, even though I wouldn’t necessarily have to work.”
Edward was a little confused by her statement. She had just recently graduated from college. How could she not need to work? “I don’t understand.”
“I can’t talk about it, or I could be liable. Rose doesn’t even know the full extent of the arrangement,” Bella said, hoping that he wouldn’t push the issue any further. She hated to ruin their evening by talking about “him.”
“Isabella, I need to know. If our relationship is going to work, we have to be open and honest about everything, including that horrible arrangement that they pressured you into signing,” Edward expressed. “I figured they offered money for your silence.”
Sliding her chair back, she laid her napkin on the table and stood up. After stepping over the railing, she took a deep breath and tried to calm herself as tears formed in her eyes. Could she trust him not to tell anyone about the legal agreement? God, what will he think when he hears the amount they paid her to keep her mouth shut. She would have rather had the asshole thrown in prison, but mommy and daddy dearest had made sure that wouldn’t happen. So lost in her thoughts, she didn’t hear Edward come up beside her until she felt him place his arms around her and pull her back.
“Talk to me, baby,” he encouraged, hating that she was carrying this horrible burden around.
Taken in a deep breath, she slowly let it escape, taking the last bit of resistance. “Twenty-one,” she whispered, as her body shook from admitting the number.
“He cut me twenty-one times.”
“Motherfucker,” Edward growled. This information was just one more thing that made him want to hunt the fucker down and kill him.
Turning in his arms, Bella looked up into his eyes. The candlelight from the lanterns reflected off his dark green irises. Her tears were falling down her face, and there was no way she could stop them. Then he reached up and swiped them away with his finger. An action that gave her courage to tell him the secret that she had carried. “I received a million dollars for each one of them.”
Edward gasped at her confession. This strong, loving woman had been not a victim once, but twice. Once by the fucker who attacked her and then by his family. They knew the amount would always remind her of the number of scars she carried from that night. God, he wished he could take away the pain. Brushing the last tears away, he then cupped her face, tilting it up so he could look into her eyes. “Thank you and I promise that this will go no further than the two of us.”
“I trust you,” Bella admitted, as she gave him a small smile.
“We are going to be so good together,” he hummed, lowering his mouth towards hers, just as their lips were about to touch, a voice echoed from inside.
“EDWARD, BELLA, we’re home,” Emmett boomed.