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Joey W. Hill“How do you get your ideas?” It’s the question most often asked by readers, and one I’m never sure how to intelligently answer (grin), because a story comes to me in flashes or snippets. A bit of overheard dialogue, the way someone turns their head, even a scent, can unlock a scene idea or a character possibility, and then my story usually builds around that. Unrestrained is unique in that it was spawned by a lively debate at a conference. I was with a group of authors and readers venting about the BDSM romances where the heroine starts out as a Mistress, but the moment the “right” Master walks in, she throws all that aside to become his devoted submissive.

Book Cover

Most felt this storyline does a disservice to the motives of real-life Dommes. They also saw it as a contrived situation, much like a TV series character who, after being straight for six consecutive seasons, suddenly becomes “gay” to satisfy the network’s need for diversity without hiring a new actor. I agreed with them on those points. However, the writer in me started thinking, “What realistic, legitimate reason could a Domme have for deciding to embrace submission, not as a temporary switch, but as a true change of sides?” One way I’ve learned to brainstorm story ideas is to play devil’s advocate with myself.

I’m a submissive who is sometimes mistaken for a Dominant personality because I’m highly organized (or I was, before I hit my forties and developed chronic CRS – lol), disciplined, career-driven and assertive about pursuing my goals. But what I actually am is deeply service-oriented, and deeply service-oriented subs can be some of the most assertive, goal-driven organization nazis you’d ever want to meet, even if we wrap it up in a cotton cushion of Southern courtesy (grin).

So it occurred to me, if a deeply service-oriented sub had a husband who needed her to perform as a Mistress, she would do it. And she’d do it well, because excelling is part of her successful service. Hence, Athena was born. As was Dale, a retired Navy SEAL and actual through-and-through Dom who recognizes her service orientation as a form of submission and helps her claim that identity fully.

Here’s a snippet from their book where she’s taking the first steps toward that with him. He rescued her from a mugging last night and she’s at his place, sharing morning coffee in his potting shed (he gardens and serves as caretaker at a dog shelter – he’s awesome – grin). Enjoy!

 * * * * *

“Yes, I do want to ask you for something,” she said. “But I need to think about it.”

“Fair enough.” Dale put down the coffee, settled back against the bench, crossing his arms over his chest, a relaxed pose that highlighted the easy power of his body. “Have you been looking for a new sub since your husband’s passing?” he asked. “Is that why you were at the club?”

“Are you offering?” She tossed the smile his way, the tightness of it matching the feeling in her chest.

He chuckled. “Not hardly. But when you were watching last night, your focus seemed different . . . for a Domme. Technique interests me. Maybe you just need to talk it through with a fellow Dom, someone you know you’re not intending to top. Removes the pressure. Like an actor going over his lines with a neighbor, rather than having to do it with his costar right off.”

“Perhaps.” She needed to move the conversation away from this direction. She hadn’t denied she was looking for a new submissive, but in truth, such a thought hadn’t crossed her mind since Roy’s death. Not once in those two years, not once since she’d returned to the club, no matter how many unattached male subs had met her gaze briefly, extending the invitation. She’d been an amazing Domme, yes. With Roy.

Never again. She’d had that thought last night, hadn’t she?

He set aside the coffee. Before she could anticipate what he was doing, he removed his shirt in one fluid movement, set it aside. When he put his hand to the belt of his jeans, she wondered if he was going to strip it all off, but he was merely resting it there, shifting his weight to one hip. “Okay, no pressure. Take a look, evaluate me. Pretend I’m a sub. Let me feel it, the way you take control.”

If her tongue was currently functioning, she’d say the same thing she would if he’d offered her a shot of Jack at nine in the morning. It was too early in the day for this. Of course, maybe the Jack would help her. She was in a different environment, with an unpredictable and overwhelming man. There was no way she could summon the focus, the control, for what he was suggesting.

However, she routinely handled herself in demanding board meetings, at the podium of fundraisers attended by well over a thousand people. She knew how to genuinely smile for hours, remember a hundred different names and the key details about the people attached to them. She could coordinate or defuse complex situations, put people at ease, draw them to her with warmth and direct them toward her goals. She knew how to connect to them in ways that brought out their better sides. She took personal pride in figuring that out for each individual, so that they felt so good about signing a contract with her company, or writing a check to make the world a better place, they’d do it again.

But this wasn’t like that. It wasn’t even comparable to how she’d been a Mistress to Roy. Then she’d had his pleasure uppermost in her mind. Dale was asking her to treat this as an exercise, no one to please or understand but herself. She had no precedent for that.

From his demeanor, she was sure that any attempt to politely distance herself from the situation would be met with a frank response that left her as vulnerable as if she were sitting naked at the Garden Club. She heard the clank of the collar and tags of one of the dogs scratching outside.

She’d faced unexpected situations where she needed to adapt, evaluate and organize her response quickly. She could think on her feet. That, and the earlier feeling, the one that made her think she could tell Dale anything she was thinking, gave her the courage to test these waters, to see if she was right about what she was truly wanting.

She slid off the stool. The shed wasn’t large, but she could circle him at close quarters. He was beautiful. Sculpted with hard muscle, as she anticipated. He had some scars. When she was behind him, she lifted her hand over one, but she didn’t touch him. Her fingers hovered several inches from a mark that was likely caused by a bullet. She’d noted there was a similar one on his front side, somewhat lower. It had punched through him from a vantage point above, perhaps from a window. Or maybe from the ground, an enemy trying to deflect his charge. The thought of him facing that made her anxiety about this seem absurd.

Did he have scars below the denim as well? If he did, they hadn’t hampered him last night when he threw her attacker onto her car hood.

With his shirt off, the jeans belted so they sat at his waist, his ass was molded nicely by the fit. She imagined catching her fingers in his belt loop, closing the area between them to dare one kiss between his shoulder blades. She’d press her body against his so the curve of the firm buttocks pressed against the tight coil happening in her abdomen.

“You can touch me, Athena.”

His permission perversely made her draw her hand back to herself. She returned to his front. When she looked up into his face, he was regarding her with that unsmiling look. Her legs quivered, and she realized she was feeling a little lightheaded. She should move back to the stool. Instead, she sank down to her knees in front of him, wanting to study and absorb him from this angle. Feel.

As a girl, she’d gone to see Saturday Night Fever with her mother. She recalled the opening scene, where John Travolta was clad in nothing but a pair of snug dark briefs while styling his hair. The camera angle had been shot from the floor, practically from between his feet. The girls in the audience had squealed at the provocative angle. Her mother had laughed at their reaction.

To capture that view, the camera person had to be kneeling, looking up at him. What if, when the scene was over, the person on their knees stayed there, until he reached down and bade her to rise? Even at that tender age, the idea had captivated Athena. As it did now.

She put a light-as-a-feather hand on his right leg, above his knee. Her gaze coursed up the terrain of his powerful thighs, to the curve of cock and testicles beneath the denim. He didn’t wear his jeans tight, but they held to his shape and moved with his body as needed. Just right. She slid her attention to his belt and the layers of muscle above, then lifted her eyes to his chest. He had a mat of fine dark hair, not too thick, but not thin or nonexistent, either.

His thigh muscle flexed beneath her hand as he shifted his weight to his right hip. His buttock muscles would tighten from that change in position. She wouldn’t mind having her hand there, feeling that transition.

He reached down, brushing a finger underneath the wisps of hair across her forehead. “It’s interesting where you ended up, isn’t it? On your knees?”

She tensed, but his tone made it a neutral observation. He wasn’t mocking her. “Does that have anything to do with what you want to ask me?”

“Yes. Maybe.”