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Authors: Liza Gaines

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Coda

Coda

A Tangled Story

Liza Gaines

Coda

Liza Gaines

Copyright 2014 by Liza Gaines

Smashwords Edition

Cover Artist: Aimee Benson

Editor: Jenny Trout

All rights reserved.

ISBN-13: 978-0-9899034-1-7

This book is a work of fiction. The characters and
location are a product of the author’s imagination. Any
resemblances to real people, alive or dead, are coincidental.

Dedication

To Vanessa North for working so hard to convince me
Jen had a story worth telling. I wasn’t sure at first, but I’ve
discovered it’s usually best if I do what V says. And thanks for
trading me one pervy story for another. We should do that again
sometime.

And to Jeremy because everything is
always
for
him.

Coda

I’m usually pretty good at lying to myself.
Some would probably say that’s how I got myself in trouble now, and
they’d be right. But it’s time to be honest. I’m in love with a man
who doesn’t love me. That’s a hard thing to admit because I’d
always assumed things would work out in the end. Worse, I’d
embarrassed Todd and he didn’t deserve that. I owe him an apology.
Actually, I owe several people an apology, but Todd is the only
person who will get one. Not that I wouldn’t apologize to the
others if given the chance, but, realistically, that’s not going to
happen. No doubt, after the way I behaved, my call wouldn’t be
accepted and, even if it would be the right thing to do, I can’t
quite bring myself to apologize to an answering machine. So, Todd
will get his apology and the others can think whatever they like.
It’s not like I’ll ever see them again anyway.

Todd called a while ago to tell me he was on
his way home. He should be here any minute and I wish he would
hurry. I’ve been moping around feeling sorry for myself since he
dropped me off yesterday morning, but now I just want to get this
over with. It’s going to be difficult and I’d like to get it behind
me. I suspect Todd is dallying for that very reason. He wants to
let me suffer for a while, let me think about what I’ve done. Well,
I have and I’m ready to move on. But first, I want my apology to be
perfect.

Since I expect him at any time, I’m naked and
kneeling in the foyer waiting for him. He’s going to punish me, of
course, and as regretful as I am for my behavior, for embarrassing
him, I’m looking forward to the punishment. I always do. That’s one
of the things that made our arrangement so successful.

When the front door opens, I resist the urge
to look. I’d like to see his face, to gauge his mood. But I don’t
dare sneak even the smallest peek. I know he doesn’t want me to
look at him. He never wants to be looked at during a scene. He just
stands there staring at me for the longest time and I can barely
stand it. I feel itchy and anxious; it’s interminable. Did he see
my bags packed and sitting by the door? Maybe that’s why he hasn’t
said anything.

I’m about to crawl out of my skin, the
waiting is making me that crazy. The silence, too. I hear his
breathing, see the toes of his tennis shoes in my peripheral
vision. I
know
he’s here. It’s driving me a little bit mad
that nothing is happening. Words start to jam up in my throat,
trying to fight their way over my tongue in such a rush they
probably wouldn’t come out in the proper order if I let them
escape. Just when I think I’m not going to be able to hold them
back any longer, he finally speaks, putting me out of my misery. Or
rather, putting me out of one misery and tossing me directly into
another.

“Look at me.”

I’m startled by his request and it takes me a
moment to comply. When I do, my heart plummets straight to my toes.
He looks awful, tired and worried. But what bothers me most is the
look in his eyes. He’s calm, frighteningly so. Anger I can ignore,
but disappointment eats at me until I can’t stand it.

I want to ask him what happened but I’m
confused and not sure if I should. Normally, he’d say don’t speak
unless spoken to. That’s one of his bedrock rules, right next to
the one about not looking at him. But now he’s told me to look at
him and I don’t know what the rules are anymore. Maybe I am allowed
to talk? Dammit. This was one of the things I always liked about
Todd. Structure, routine. Clear rules that I could rely on.
Discipline. I don’t know why but I get so upset when I don’t know
what to expect, I can make myself sick thinking about it. So, while
some might have found Todd’s rigid expectations cold and unfeeling,
I adored it. It grounded me and removed a lot of the nagging doubt
from my psyche. But that one order—
look at me
—is like a
weight tied to my ankle, pulling me deeper in a swamp of
uncertainty.

There’s blood on his shirt. Not too much, I
can see right away it’s not his. I swallow hard, not wanting to
think about whose blood it might be. There are too many
possibilities, none of them good. But I have to ask. I have to
know.

“What happened?” I cringe, not knowing if he
will reprimand me or simply answer the question. And I’m so mixed
up, I don’t know which I’d prefer.

“Lee was shot. Again. He’s going to be all
right, the lucky bastard, and far as I can tell that fucking mess
with his ex-wife is over.”

I wince at the sound of that name. Shot? My
stomach cramps so hard I gag and start shaking all over. I’m having
difficulty breathing, too, and my vision might be blurring. Oh, no,
those are tears.
Fuck
.

Lee’s ex-wife, Cara, is a pretty well-known
journalist. While working on an investigative story she got into an
awful jam with some very unpleasant people and Lee was trying to
help her out. Unfortunately, that got him shot and his girlfriend,
Savannah, nearly abducted last weekend.

I could ask Todd how the situation was
resolved, and how Lee got shot again, but I don’t really want to
know. I’m relieved it’s finally over but I don’t need or want the
specifics. As it is, I’m struggling with my own emotions; anger,
worry, heartbreak, and regret. They’re all mixed up in one big
quagmire. The particulars would only make it worse.

Todd steps closer and puts his hand on top of
my head, a surprising gesture of reassurance from him.

“It’s okay, Jen. Promise.”

I don’t know what he’s thinking, but he looks
sad, which bothers me a lot and makes my heart feel tight. I lean
forward and rub my face against his thigh. His jeans are rough on
my cheek. It’s not unpleasant, rather a tactile sensation that
holds me in the moment: keeps me from getting lost in a jumble of
worry and sadness.

“You want to get this over with, don’t you?”
His voice takes on that husky quality it has during a scene and my
skin breaks out in goose bumps. I shift on my knees, squeezing my
thighs tight with a thrill of excitement.

I do want it now. I’ve been miserable waiting
for him to get back, driving myself crazy with it. And I want to
leave. The future seems like a dark, empty cavern. I don’t know
what’s waiting for me, but I’m not going to start feeling better
until I take the first step into it. Because the one thing I do
know for certain, there’s nothing for me in the past. So I nod,
unable to give voice to my thoughts.

“Go wait in the bedroom. I’ll be right
there.” He glances at my bags and I wonder if he would’ve asked me
to leave if I weren’t already going. I can’t really take the time
to think about that though, because he’s just standing there
waiting for me to move and I don’t want to test his patience. I
start to stand but he pushes me back down on my knees with a shake
of his head. He wants me to crawl. He’s not usually big on
humiliation but I guess he’s trying to prove a point today. A point
that, if I’m being honest, I probably have coming.

I turn on my hands and knees and make my way
down the hall to the bedrooms, my head hanging low with
embarrassment. I know he’s watching me go because, for one thing, I
haven’t heard him move. But also, I just know. By now, we have
enough of a history together, enough of a connection. Even when I’m
bound, blindfolded, and wearing earplugs I can sense him and his
movements which means now, with my senses unimpaired, I’m
hyper-aware.

The foyer is tiled and my knees are sore from
the time spent kneeling there. At first, the carpeted hallway is a
nice, softly-padded relief, but it isn’t long though before the rug
burn sets in and my skin stings with it. Fortunately, I haven’t far
to go, and when I reach the bedroom, I sit on the floor next to the
bed to examine my knees until I hear Todd coming down the hallway.
I scramble back into a kneel and arch my back a little to show my
breasts off to their best advantage.

Todd will enjoy the view. I’ve assumed his
favorite pose of submission, my bottom resting on my heels, my
palms flat on my thighs, and my head bowed. I’m careful to keep my
long black hair over one shoulder so my body isn’t obscured behind
a curtain of it. He likes to touch my hair, but he’d rather look at
my body.

“Get up, come on in the bathroom with me.”
Todd sounds amused. Sort of smug, actually, which means I’m
probably not going to like whatever he has planned. He’s always
been creative and takes it as a personal challenge to push my
boundaries.

His condo is older and small, so while it
does have a master bathroom it’s not very large. I’m a little
squished against the vanity once we’re standing there together.
Todd tosses a quart-sized Ziploc bag and a paring knife on the
counter next to the sink and looks at me expectantly.

It doesn’t take much guesswork to figure out
what he intends and he’s overly optimistic if he expects a little
ginger to send me running from the room. We’d done it before and,
while it isn’t my favorite thing, it doesn’t warrant the wicked
glint he has in his eyes now.

“I’m going to jump in the shower.” Todd
points to the paring knife as he adds, “You get the ginger
ready.”

I nod, uncertain. It’s the only response I
can manage and the only one he’d accept, anyway. I’ve never
prepared ginger for figging before and it’s a bit of a fine art.
Peeling it is easy enough, but you also have to carve a notch in
it. That’s the part that makes me nervous. If I carve the notch too
deep, it could become fragile and break. If it isn’t deep enough,
it won’t hold the ginger in place. Either scenario is not good and
I start to freak out a little, my palms sweating and my heart
racing. He wants
me
to do this?

“You’ll be fine.” Todd takes a step away from
me, which isn’t very far in the confines of the close room, and
tugs the blood stained T-shirt over his head. I gape at him
because, well, he’s got a damn fine body and watching him undress
is a hell of a lot easier than tackling the chore he’s just
assigned. Todd’s a retired Army Ranger, though from the looks of
him, you’d never guess he isn’t active duty. He keeps his brown
hair buzz cut and his body in peak shape, always ready for action.
Head to toe, he’s a military stereotype. Until he looks you in the
eye, anyway. His warm, chocolate brown eyes belie the softy hiding
under the hardass image he works so hard to maintain. But I don’t
have time to contemplate that now because he turns his back to me,
reaching into the shower to turn the nozzle on and adjust the
temperature, and says, “Now, get busy. I don’t plan to be in here
long and you’d better be finished when I am.”

With a deep, bracing breath I remove the
ginger from the bag and turn it over. A big piece like this is
called a hand of ginger and each of the protrusions a finger.
Concentrating on choosing the right one, and doing my level best to
ignore the sight of Todd in my peripheral vision as he finishes
undressing, is doing a fairly decent job of distracting me from my
worry about messing this up.

I pick the largest finger. I know you want a
good-sized piece and if I start with the largest one it gives me
more room for error. I pick up the knife, my hand trembling a
little, and with one decisive cut sever it from the larger root. I
turn the water in the sink on cold, give it a good rinse, then
start peeling. Ginger is tough, woody almost, and it’s hard to
leave a nice, smooth surface when peeling it. I keep rinsing it
under the running water, almost obsessively, after every two or
three cuts and carefully feeling it to look for uneven spots.

I’m not doing so well distracting myself now
because all I can think about while I work is that I am getting the
ginger ready for him to use on me. I had so underestimated him.
Preparing the instrument of my own torture was ramping up my
nervous anticipation for the events to come. By the time I finish,
I’m clamping my thighs together trying to find some small measure
of desperate relief and my hands are shaking so hard it’s
impossible to cut the notch. Todd likes his showers scalding hot
and the small bathroom is becoming fogged with the steam. The
excessive humidity makes the smell of the ginger unusually intense.
It seems like it’s invading all my senses and before long it’s
going to invade me.

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