TOP STUDENT by Amanda Usen (writing as Miranda Baker)
A Come Again Short Story (Book 3.5)
Publication date: 11/29/2016
Publisher: Balancing Act Press
Movie star Kat St. James is irresistible to everyone—except the woman she secretly loves, childhood friend Bonita Pritchard. Kat’s come home for a visit, and discovers Bonita has left town to avoid her—for the third summer in a row.
Hurt and angry, Kat heads for Come Again, Bonita’s sex-toy boutique, for clues that will help heal the rift between them. There she encounters Destiny, who gives Kat shocking news. Bonita’s become a sexual submissive.
Destiny also offers Kat a unique opportunity: the chance to learn the fundamentals of power exchange from the experts. Only then will Kat be able to reconnect with the woman she loves. But learning about hard limits pushes her past her own, leaving Kat with an impossible choice. Give up Bonita or give up control?
When they were apart, Kat drank too much and indulged in other mildly self-destructive behaviors to fill the void. It made her crazy to learn Bonita was equally miserable—and twice as stubborn. If Bonita let people hurt her to make her feel better, what else might she do? Drugs? Unsafe sex? Jump out of airplanes?
“Tell me how to find her. I need to know where she is. Is she safe?” Terror turned Kat’s vision black. What if Bonita had gotten herself in over her head and was stranded somewhere, alone and in danger? Breath shuddered in and out of Kat’s lungs, and the room began to spin. Panic pumped through her, making her gasp.
Hands forced her head between her knees and held it there. A deep voice near her ear commanded, “Breathe with me. In and out. To the count of four. One, two three, four…that’s it. Again.”
It hurt to slow her breath, but the hand on her head demanded obedience. More strong hands grasped behind her knees, maintaining close contact. Johnny’s temple brushed hers, and she realized he was kneeling in front of her while Destiny curled over her back. “We’ve got you. We’ll keep you safe. Bonita is safe, too. Just relax.”
“I can’t.” She almost panicked again when she realized how little it had taken to make her lose control. If she was this close to the edge, how must Bonita feel? She needed to find her.
“Another shot then?” The humor in his voice broke through her anxiety, and the band around her chest loosened. Johnny scooped her up and settled her on the couch between him and Destiny. It was comforting to be flanked by two strong bodies and to not have to pretend she wasn’t shattered by Bonita’s absence.
“I can’t tell you how to find Bonita.” Destiny’s voice held an apology.
Kat let the pain wash over her, sensing she wasn’t going to drown again. For some reason, these two could keep her head above the waves of pain. She opened her eyes and saw Destiny and Johnny sharing a long look.
“But we can teach you anything you want to know about BDSM, and perhaps that will bring Bonita to you. You said you haven’t seen her for three years, right?” Destiny raised an eyebrow.
“That’s about how long she’s been subbing.”
It took a minute for the implication to sink in, but when it did, she felt dizzy again. She rested her head against the back of the couch and closed her eyes, allowing memories to surface. She and Bonita teaching each other to kiss. Playing doctor…teacher…secretary. Learning how to please each other. In every scenario, Kat had been the aggressor, but Bonita had eagerly participated. Kat had never consciously recognized the roles they had fallen into so naturally.
Was Bonita using BDSM as a substitute for Kat? If so, it seemed to be working. Bonita wasn’t taking her calls, answering texts or acknowledging her existence.
I’m going to punish her for that.
Her eyes blinked open, and she raised her head. The urge was undeniable, and it was nothing new. Kat’s dominance and Bonita’s response to her underscored every facet of their relationship. Bonita thought playing power games with strangers was satisfying? Kat had news for her. If Johnny and Destiny could teach Kat about BDSM, which now seemed like a more sophisticated version of Kat and Bonita’s childhood games, she could show Bonita exactly how much more satisfying power games could be—with her. For the first time since she’d arrived in Norton and found Bonita gone, Kat felt optimistic. If Bonita was still running, then she still cared, and that meant Kat had a chance.
All she needed to do was learn the rules.
Hope rose inside her, but as she looked back and forth between Destiny and Johnny, she knew it would never work. Destiny radiated authority, and Johnny looked like he’d rather break than bend. Neither seemed likely to allow her to practice on them, and as for letting them dominate her… “There isn’t a submissive bone in my body.”
Johnny’s smile was wicked. “There is if you choose it.”
“What do you mean?”
“If you asked me to force you to your knees and make you find the submissive bone in your body, I could do it.” He held her gaze. “Not because I’m dominant—although I am—but because you asked me. Because you want it, and you’ve given consent. You aren’t submissive by nature, but Bonita is. Every Domme who plays at Upstairs adores her. If you love her, we can make you understand what she needs.”
“I know what she needs.” Jealousy licked up her spine again. Those Dommes couldn’t adore Bonita half as much as she did, yet Bonita had chosen them over her. “But apparently I have a lot more to learn about how to give it to her. Let’s do it.”
He nodded once, sharply. “We’ll start tomorrow.”
“Now,” Kat insisted.
Johnny shook his head, pointing at the tequila bottle under the table.
“I don’t do anything drunk I wouldn’t do sober,” Kat protested.
Destiny squeezed her knee. “Johnny’s right. If we’re going to engage in deviant activities with the world’s most beautiful actress, then we don’t want it to be because we got her drunk. We want your full consent. We want every sigh, every sob and every scream to be stone-cold sober and genuine. Think about it. I’ll give you some books so you can read about it. Give it your full consideration tonight, and get back to us tomorrow. Between the two of us, you can observe and experience the full spectrum of power exchange.” Destiny winked. “If you say yes, you will officially make me the best girlfriend ever.”
“What exactly am I saying yes to?” Kat asked. Her attention had paused at sigh, sob and scream.
“You are saying yes to engaging in BDSM with the two of us. That stands for bondage and discipline, domination and submission—”
“I know what BDSM means.”
Destiny nodded. “You are also saying yes to exploring conscious control over the power in your relationship with Bonita.”
“Yes,” Kat said instantly. Kat having any sort of power in their relationship would be an improvement.
Johnny stood and held out his hand to Destiny. She took it and he pulled her to her feet, pressing a kiss to the back of her hand. “You are definitely the best goddamn girlfriend ever.”
He cocked an eyebrow at Kat. “Shall we begin?”