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Notes and disclaimer in part one.
part two
part three

Danni's POV:

I've been unable to find my headspace all evening and that is what I blame for not wanting to perform this last bit of punishment. But it needs to be done; if I don't then it'll bubble up and boil over at Stan and that just won't do.

I watch Steve shuffle down the hall toward our hidden playroom and can tell I nearly overdid it with the spanking. While he has taken more strikes than the fifty-five I gave him tonight, he's never taken so many in such a short span of time. It makes me wonder if he'll be able to handle what I plan to give him now.

With a shake of my head, I get up from the chair and stretch my arms over my head before rolling my right shoulder to try and loosen it up. Wielding a bullwhip is much harder than most people think and takes a lot of upper body strength with most of it in the upper arm/shoulder area.

I could whip him in just his shirt but I'd be too aware of the fact that that's all I'm wearing and would likely end it early in order to push him to his back and ride him until I come apart. And while that isn't completely off the table, I do need to finish this first. So I pick my panties up off the floor where they fell off Steve's shoulder before heading upstairs and into the bedroom where I put my bra and panties back on along with my heels. They just might come off in the playroom, the flooring is for him to be comfortable when kneeling and as such is extremely thick; almost too thick for me to walk on in heels. But he likes them, I like how I feel wearing them, and so on they go.

I had left my hair down to confront him about his trying to sneak out but it's not a good idea to leave it down now. I tried it once with Trevor and got my hair so horribly tangled with the whip that I had to choose between saving the whip and saving my hair; my hair won, luckily that whip was old and should have been replaced years before. Not wanting to take the time to do anything elaborate, I pull it back into a ponytail, smoothing down the little hairs that never seem to grow and that end up making me look like I have a halo.

Downstairs I make my way to the playroom, finally finding a bit of my headspace; even if it isn't exactly where I should be, it is much better than where I have been all evening.

I push aside the false wall to find him kneeling in the middle of the room with his head bowed and the whip curled on his upraised hands. Wrapping my hand around the braided leather handle, I uncurl it with a snap. A smirk crosses my face at the shiver that races through my pet's body at the sound.

Usually I pace a circle around him before I begin any punishment but walking in these heels on this flooring is difficult so I quickly remove my shoes, then walk around him.

Steve is a very touch hungry submissive and I love to indulge his need often, even during a punishment, but today something feels different so I don't touch and I know it's just about killing him. Hell, it's just about to kill me, too. I've found myself addicted to the feel of his skin against mine.

I come to a stop behind him and gaze at the broad unblemished expanse of his back, plotting exactly where I'm going to place each and every lash mark.

He turns his head just slightly and says "Mistress" in a soft voice. I know what he's going to say and I can't let him say it because if I do I'll be tempted to take the out he's offering; and if I do that then I run the risk of everything blowing up in Stan's face.

"You have not been given permission to talk, Dog."

I can just barely see that he's chewing his lip, weighing the threat of additional punishment against his need to comfort me with words most like. Deciding to not risk it by speaking again, he snaps his fingers twice, the code for when he needs to speak but has been forbidden from doing so. "What part of no are you not understanding, Dog?" I emphasize his name knowing he still sees it more of a humiliation because of its connection to the former friend who tried to kill him. It has the desired effect of him turning back around, his shoulders slumping just the slightest bit before he sits up straight and tall.

Grace is never far from my thoughts, even when I'm deep in my own headspace, and today she's front and center. The thought of not being able to see her for a month has tears welling in my eyes. I need the feel of his skin to help ground me so that I can punish him without losing control.

"Stand up." He rolls gracefully to his feet and I step close enough to touch the tips of my fingers to a spot right in the middle between his shoulder blades, the same spot I touched when I put him in the corner earlier.

He's never asked why I touch that spot and he probably never will. While he knows he's not my first submissive he doesn't know anything about the ones who came before. I may one day tell him about my part-time submissives, the ones that came after Trevor, but I doubt I'll ever tell him about my first.

Trevor is special even now all these years later. I know I didn't love him even close to how I love Steve but he was my first love and so I find myself not wanting to spoil his memory by talking about him with someone who doesn't know him.

But should Steve ever ask, I'd tell him that the spot I touch on him is the spot I would touch on Trevor to help ground us both while we were learning. That spot on any submissive has become my focus point and my brain is conditioned to take a step into my headspace when I touch someone there.

Normally I just barely touch Steve there, then step back but today I press a bit harder and slide my fingers up to the bottom of his neck in a gentle caress before stepping back.

His breath catches in his throat and I know that this is going to be different from any other punishment I've ever given; and not just because I've never used the whip for punishment, either. I feel like Steve and I have a deeper emotional connection starting. I know he loves me, even if he's never said it, but tonight everything seems so much…more.

"Do you want to stand or kneel?"

"I'll kneel."

I've never whipped a kneeling submissive, not really sure why I offered it as an option, so I'm not sure if it'll really be possible or not. But either way he's showing me just how much he trusts me, despite knowing that I'm not really in the proper headspace for this.

"Then kneel." He resumes his position on his knees. "Thirty lashes for each day I don't get to see Grace," I say, flicking the whip a few times in the air near his ear mostly just to watch him shiver in anticipation but also to reacquaint myself with the weight of the whip in my hand.

Using a whip takes a certain skill; one that took me months to learn and as a result it is one of my favorite implements to use. I don't use it as often as I once did but that doesn't mean I don't prefer it over other implements like the flogger and paddle just that those are easier to use.

As I settle into the rhythm of using the whip I flash back to when I learned how to wield it.

The first time I mentioned wanting to learn how to use it was after a session with Professor, Trevor a boneless puddle on the bed between us.

Professor leaned up on one elbow to frown at me over Trevor's prone body. "You have any idea what you're asking?"

"Yes, Professor. I want to know how to give that kind of painful pleasure."

He nodded his head. "Okay, I'll teach you. But we're doing this at my pace. You will not progress until I'm positive you have mastered the current lesson."

"Of course, Professor."

We started the very next day.

First he had me using a very light whip. Once I could hit the fake torso he drew a line just above where the kidneys would be. Once I could hit the upper part, he narrowed it again and again until he was just drawing a dot on the shoulder area (he claimed the shoulders can take the sting of the lash better than any other part of the back). He then gave me a heavier whip and had me start over. And so it went; as soon as I could hit the same small spot every time, he'd give me a heavier whip until I was using a professional weighted bullwhip.

After four long months Professor deemed me ready to actually use the whip on my beautiful Boy. And so the day came when Professor tied Trevor to a pole and I laid twenty lash marks across his shoulders. The rush of giving him that exquisite pain was enough to arouse me to the point where I shoved Trevor into a chair and fucked myself on his dick.

Whipping became a favorite for both of us and we did it as often as I dared considering he still had to be able to raise his arms in his Other Life. And that's another reason I don't use a bullwhip very often, it forces the person who was whipped to alter how they function.

By the time I land the last lash, tears are streaming down my face and I'm fighting to keep my sobs quiet. I messed up by letting him see earlier. I can't let him know how vulnerable I can be at times like this. I mean, sure part of his job is to comfort me but I can't let him. He needs me to be strong, not weak. If he knows this about me he'll question my ability to be what he needs and I need him just as much and if he was ever to leave it would destroy me almost as much as losing Grace did.

Steve slumps forward when he realizes I'm done. From where I'm standing I can't really tell but it appears he's braced one hand against the floor and from the way the muscles on the back of his neck are tensed, I'm guessing he's gritting his teeth against the pain.

It's time for his aftercare but this is a punishment so that has to wait, plus I need to take care of myself first. And so I wipe the tears from my face before stepping around him. I drop the whip in front of where he's kneeling as I pass. "Clean up down here then come upstairs." Snagging my shoes from the corner where I tossed them earlier, I leave the room as fast as I can without actually running. Then once out of sight of the playroom, I break into a run. I have to force myself to go upstairs despite every fiber of my being telling me to run as far away as I can; to end this before he can and try to protect my heart.

In the bedroom, I collapse on the bed and smother my heart wrenching sobs in the bedding. I know I don't have much time to indulge before Steve finishes despite how slowly he's moving. But I have enough time for me to find part of my center by chanting 'You are strong. You are confident' over and over in my head.

Finally my sobs taper off into the occasional hiccuping breath and I lie there for a long moment trying to catch my breath and calm myself from my panic attack. When I hear the stairs squeak as Steve climbs them, I roll from the bed and make my way to the bathroom, snagging his shirt from where I dropped it earlier and pulling it on over my head as I go. In the bathroom, I use the toilet and then wash my hands and face. I press the towel harder, and for a minute longer, than necessary while still chanting my mantra.

My parents never let me get away with using my gender as a reason for not doing something. If I tried and failed because I just didn't have the skills, which can be learned, or the physical strength, which can be acquired with training, then that was one thing. But if I flat out refused on the grounds I'm a girl, well, it didn't go over well. Both my parents believe that there isn't anything in the world that a man can do that a woman can't and I was strongly encouraged to do anything and everything I wanted.

That encouragement is what drove me to be the star of my high school gymnastics team which led to me getting a full-ride scholarship to Rutgers. It also had me graduating third in my high school and college classes and first in my police academy class (while going to college full-time, no less) along with being the first woman and youngest member of the homicide squad for Newark PD and the youngest to take (and pass) the Sergeant's exam.

But sometime after I met Stan that all changed. It's like he came along and I lost myself. Why else would I willingly give up custody of my child? He must have made me feel like less than I am in some way that went unnoticed by everyone around me, including me.

But that all changed when I met Steve. He gave me back to myself. And yet I still find myself deferring to Stan more oft than not; and hating myself for it a little more each time.

Like a light bulb going off, I know yet another reason why I've been distracted tonight: my dominant side is reasserting herself and not liking how I am around my ex. I make a decision that that is all gonna change come Monday morning and put the towel down on the counter before turning to face the open bathroom door to find my beautiful, naked submissive kneeling at the foot of the bed.

I can hardly believe he gives me his submission so freely and often find myself wondering what I did to deserve it and him. I pause in the doorway and let my eyes devour him from the top of his head with its close cropped black hair that's starting to go grey at the temples, down his broad shoulders that have carried me on numerous occasions, across his well-defined chest with its pert nipples that I love to torment, and finally down his chiseled abs to his gorgeous cock which is half hard at the moment. Pain always has this effect on him. It's something I'm having difficulty getting rid of but that could be because I don't want it to go away completely because sometimes the pain is its own form of pleasure.

"On your stomach in the middle of the bed." I don't have to explain the reason for this order, he knows. I never let him sleep in the bed with me after a punishment, there's a bedroll in the closet that he uses. And since the point of punishment is for it to hurt, giving aftercare so soon is just not the norm. His eyes snap up to mine and I see the confusion in the blue depths.

When he doesn't move fast enough, I raise one eyebrow and shift my weight to the balls of my feet. That seems to snap him out of whatever trance he was in because he blinks and then is instantly on his feet, scurrying for the bed.

He settles in the middle of the bed in the ordered position: on his stomach with his feet crossed at the ankles and his head pillowed on his crossed arms.

I grab the jar of Aquaphor and join him on the bed. Kneeling next to his left hip I can see that the two lash marks on either side of his spine have bled a little, not much more than if I had scratched his back during sex, but still I'm pissed at myself for being so distracted that I was careless with him.

"Damnit!" I mutter, swinging one leg over his back to straddle his hips, making sure to keep most of my weight on my knees but with my thighs gripping his flanks tightly. I can feel some of the remaining tension seep out of his muscles at the touch of my skin against his. "Did you safeword?"

He shakes his head. "No, Mistress." He had better be telling the truth. Just the thought that I might have missed him using his safeword because I was too fucking caught up in my own shit terrifies me.

I open the jar and begin applying a thin layer of the ointment to the lash marks. "Why not?"

"Because you required me to submit fully to the punishment."

"A punishment that is not yours."

"And yet you still required it of me."

At his softly spoken words, I feel myself slip that much more in love with him and know that it'll be that much harder to leave when the time comes. Because the time always comes for one of us to leave.

"What is your safeword?"

He presses his lips closed into a tight line. I know he hates the word I gave him; it's why I gave it to him because I know he'll only use it when he truly means it. "Army," he says the word as if it leaves a bitter taste in his mouth.

I chuckle just like I did when I gave it to him all those months ago. "Army," I repeat, leaning forward enough to nuzzle behind his right ear with my nose.

He relaxes further at this sign that things are still good between us. I then remember that I haven't restated his rules in a while so I sit back and resume applying ointment to the lash marks.

"So, tell me, Dog, what are the rules?"

"No touching without permission. Especially not at HQ." I flick his right ear at that one and he just hunches his shoulder. "No talking unless asked a direct question or otherwise told to speak. If I need to speak, I am to snap my fingers twice. If permission is denied I am to accept it and move on. If it is an urgent need I am to snap three times.

"I am to be naked in your presence unless otherwise told to wear clothes. Likewise, I am to always kneel unless given other instruction.

"While you will not make me go hungry, I am to always make sure I have eaten before we begin a scene.

"Your pleasure and your pleasure alone is what matters. I am nothing but your fuck toy to do with as you wish.

"The quicker I obey, the better my reward. On the other hand, the more I hesitate, argue or disobey, the harsher my punishment. You do not like punishing me but will when I need to be because you want me to be the best I can be."

I turn around so I can apply ointment to his ass and thighs and turn the healing caress into a loving one. I fell head over heels for this man over the barrel of a gun; it'll be quite the story to tell our grandkids someday. That thought has me sitting up and blinking. I've never considered having children, Grace was most definitely not planned, so for me to be thinking in those terms about Steve…

I can feel another panic attack building so I finish making sure his wounds are all cared for before climbing from the bed. In the bathroom I wash my hands and stare at my reflection in the mirror. "You got it bad, Danni-girl," I whisper, splashing some more water on my face. After several minutes where I stubbornly refuse to admit I'm just stalling, I take and release a deep breath then go back out into the bedroom.

Pulling the covers up, I fold them back so he's covered from the waist down the way he likes. Then I run my fingers through his hair. "Sleep." He blinks at me sleepily and scoots over a little to give me room to join him in the bed. I give him a small smile before turning and walking out of the room. I'm sure he probably thinks I'm leaving but I'm not, and I don't owe him any explanation, ever.

Downstairs, I grab my phone from my jacket pocket and head outside to curl up in one of the chairs near the surf line. I sit there for a long time, just staring out at the black water that is broken occasionally by the white of the cresting waves. I haven't liked the beach in a long time, when I was young I found it quite soothing and tonight I find that it is soothing once more.

Eventually I pick up my phone and dial a number from memory, I have no use for it these days and so do not have it stored in my phone. It rings once, twice without being picked up. I know he's not asleep because it's the middle of the day for him. When it rings a third and fourth time without being answered I fear I may have called during his class time.

It has just begun to ring for the fifth time when a breathless voice says, "Daniel, my girl. How are you?" The affection he still feels for me is evident in every syllable.

I can't help the smile that crosses my face at the sound of Professor's voice. I was never completely sexually attracted to him, not like I am to Steve, but there was something there and if I wasn't a Domme I'm sure I would have been content to be his submissive. "Professor." Despite the lack of sexual attraction on both our parts, we do have a mutual affection for one another.

"I know that tone. Tell me."

I sigh and slouch down in the chair to rest my head on the back. "I got careless."

"Did you hurt him?"

"Not any more than if I had scratched him with my nails during sex."

"Huh. And yet it has you distressed."

"I was so distracted I not only made him bleed, I lost track of him."

"Hm. Did he safeword?"

"He says he didn't."

"Do you believe him?"

"No."

"Why would he lie?"

"I don't know. Maybe he's sensing my distraction?"

"Tell me why you're so distracted."

I sigh and start picking at the cuticle of one of my toenails. "I don't really know. I wasn't able to truly find my headspace tonight. I mean, I found it enough to give his first punishments but by the time I had to give the big one…" I let my voice trail off.

"Tell me about your day."

"Well, first he touched me inappropriately at the office."

"Meaning?"

"He reached under my skirt and fingered me until I climaxed." The noise he makes tells me that if a submissive of his had done that they wouldn't be able to sit for days. "He's not allowed to touch without permission and definitely not allowed to touch me at work."

"So you work with him?"

"Yeah. It's been difficult keeping our personal feelings out of the office."

"I bet. He the big white guy with the tattooed shoulders?"

"He is."

Professor huffs a laugh. "You don't have a type, do you?"

I sigh deeply. "No. He is so very much everything Trevor is not."

"This also distresses you." I hate that he knows me so well that these are statements and not questions.

"Trevor was - is - special. My current pet is not the type I've ever been attracted to."

"You know that sexuality is fluid. The type you were attracted to as a teenager is not the type you'll be attracted to as an adult. Especially as a mother. You'll go for the type that can provide the best for you and your offspring."

"Yes, I'm aware."

He outright laughs at my tone of exasperation. "You hate yourself for falling in love with him the moment you met him."

"He's such a man!"

"What did you expect? The man's a former SEAL."

"I know!"

"Ah, Daniel. Don't ever change." He clears his throat and I hear the faint squeaking of his office chair. "So tell me the rest."

"He wiped his fingers on my thigh. That shit itches like fuck as it dries. Plus I was wearing a linen skirt because I had court. It kept catching on that one spot causing me to fidget on the witness stand. The defense lawyer implied that I was suffering from 'feminine itch'. In open court." I shift around until I'm curled sideways on the seat. "I was released from court early so I went and got my daughter from school to spend the afternoon being girls. I got her back to her father five minutes late. My daughter told him about an accident that had us running late and said that 'Uncle' wouldn't be working it because he's not a traffic cop like I used to be. My ex asked when I started spreading my legs for him again."

"You broke his nose."

"No. But I wanted to. My daughter was there and I try to set a good example of how to deal with conflict. I waited until she was in another room before I slapped the shit out of his face."

"Felt good, yeah?"

"Made me wonder why I never tried to top him." I know I need to finish but I'm not too proud of what happened next. The silence stretches until I can't stand it any longer. "He took away a month of visits. I totally broke down and let my pet see. He should never see me like that. I messed up."

"Being emotional is not a weakness, Daniel."

"Says the man." I sigh again and get up to pace a circle in front of the chairs. "I cannot be seen as female even a little. If I show even the slightest hint of having emotions my detractors would be on me like stink on shit."

"What is your main job as a Dominant?"

"To take my pet down when he needs it and to take care of him until he can handle things on his own again."

"And his job as your submissive?"

"To submit to my dominance and to take care of me when I need it."

"So why are you still fighting this? You chose this man for a reason. Let him do what you need him to do."

A snarky comment jumps to the tip of my tongue but I bite it back. "You don't understand, Professor."

"Do you allow your submissive to argue and backtalk you?"

I stop pacing and stare down at where I'm drawing small circles in the sand with the big toe of my right foot. "No, Professor."

"Then why are you arguing with me?"

"Apologies, Professor."

"Are you-?" I hang up before he finishes his question because I know what he's going to say and it won't do to make him have to punish me from so far away.

Professor didn't tell me to go to Steve right now so I curl back into the chair while absently rubbing my belly, something I've managed to forget about for the day, and try to not think about the other reason for my distraction. A reason that is locked in my desk at the office; that innocent piece of plastic that has the power to destroy my life.

I continue to sit there staring at the water until it's light enough to tell the sea from the sky. Then get up and head back upstairs, so tired I don't think I'll be able to sleep. In the bedroom, I find Steve exactly how I left him: sprawled on his stomach with his head pillowed on his crossed arms.

Even though his eyes are closed I can tell he's not asleep, dozing perhaps, but definitely not sleeping. I set my phone down on the bedside table then run the fingers of one hand through his hair and don't resist the urge to kiss his temple. He sighs and when I lean back I see a smile on his face. A gentle shake of the hair in my hand has him scooting over enough for me to join him under the covers.

He comes eagerly into my arms and I scoot down enough to tuck my head under his chin like he usually does to me.

"You smell like the ocean," he murmurs, brushing a kiss to my hair.

"Yeah, I needed some fresh air." I wiggle until I'm more comfortable with my head pillowed on his chest right over his heart. "You're not asleep."

"Never have been able to sleep without you when I'm in my headspace."

"I'm here now so you can sleep."

"'kay."

He slips quietly into slumber and I press close enough to breathe my secret into his skin.

Part five

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