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As so often happens, the trouble, when it came, was a combination of little things that built and built. Jude had come off a punishing shift schedule to be told that, despite passing all her exams with flying colours, what with the recruitment freeze and all, there would be no promotion to sergeant in the current fiscal year. She returned to her desk, where a pile of paperwork waited for her, wondering why she put up with it all, the stupid hours, the abuse from the public she was only trying to protect, the lack of respect from the male police officers, and now this kick in the face. Really, why did she bother?
When she got back home she flopped down exhausted on the sofa. All she wanted was to get into her pyjamas, take herself up to bed, curl up under the covers, and hide away for a while. She needed a cuddle; she needed, just this once, to be the one protected, not the protector. However, as a Domme, she was supposed to be the one doing the cuddling. To admit to Karen just how much she needed her would be an act of weakness, which would undermine her position. She sighed as she looked at her watch. Time was getting on, and she was supposed to pick up Karen. But the thought of slogging all the way across town and back didn’t help her mood in the slightest. She just wanted to sit there, but she’d made promises, she’d made arrangements and, as ever, people were relying on her. ‘Why is always me that does the heavy lifting?’ she asked herself.
Halfway across town she got caught up in emergency sewer works on Fowler Street. The ensuing chaos and confusion was not helped by two drivers who, by trying to push through the same gap, had had a minor collision. They had nearly come to blows before the police had stepped in and told them to move their cars. Bloody motorists, Jude thought, not for the first time. Why, oh, why couldn’t they just co-operate? The net result was that the area all around the bus station was completely gridlocked and, although she knew most of the coppers who were trying to sort it out, it still took nearly thirty minutes to drive little more than a couple of miles, and her temper suffered further as a result.
As her car pulled up outside Karen’s house, Karen came bounding out with a big smile on her face and a spring in her step. She threw her overnight bag on the back seat, got into the car, reached across and gave Jude a peck on the cheek. Normally this would have been just the thing to raise Jude’s spirits, but she had reached that point in her cycle of depression where other people’s good moods just contrasted with her own and made everything worse. And while they headed back to Jude’s house, this time carefully avoiding the town centre, Karen’s cheerful chatter was, to Jude’s ears, inane wittering, and she felt as if she was getting a headache. When they returned, Jude pointedly sat in the lounge whilst Karen cooked supper in the kitchen and, when Karen called her to the table, she sat over her meal in sullen silence.
At the club it was hardly any better. Jude seemed to sink her first pint almost before they had sat down. Before any of the others had finished their first, she was sending Karen to the bar for a refill and, when Andy gently commented that she was drinking a lot, she got told to mind her own business. By the time they were ready to leave Jude had sunk four pints Again Andy enquired gently if she felt that she was in the right mood for “playtime”.
“What’s got into you tonight?” Jude snarled. “Just because I want a drink or two for a change, you come on like I’m a right dipso.”
“I’m just saying….” Andy started but then backed off as Jude gave her look that would have scorched paintwork.
There was an uneasy air in the cab to Jude’s house and, when they arrived the atmosphere was forced. Karen was ordered rather nastily to go to the kitchen and sort out the drinks; Jude once again ordering beer. And then, when Karen brought the tray downstairs, she was so apprehensive about Jude’s moodiness that she missed her footing and the tray went over, spilling drinks and glasses everywhere. Beth and Kathy rushed over to help whilst Lucy went upstairs to get a dustpan and brush.
“You clumsy idiot!” Jude snarled as she got up out of her chair. “That’s my beer you’ve just spilt. Why don’t you look where you’re going?”
She strode off into the other half of the cellar and returned with a riding crop. She grabbed Karen from where she was tidying up and told her to bend over. Karen looked at her nervously. Reluctantly she complied, reaching for her calves as usual. As soon as she was in position Jude lashed out causing Karen to scream out loud and lose her balance, toppling forward onto her hands and knees. Scared by Jude’s ferocity, Karen stayed crouched down and reached for her backside as if to protect herself but Jude grabbed her arm and pulled it away. The riding crop was just about to fall again when….
“Jude! No! Stop now!” Mel had jumped up from her chair and was now holding Jude’s arm.
“What on earth do you think you’re doing? This is supposed to casino siteleri be fun, not assault and battery.”
“Are you telling me how to discipline my sub?” Jude retorted.
“I’m saying you’re too drunk to be holding a riding crop,” Mel replied firmly. “Karen, are you OK?”
“Please, Jude,” Karen said from the floor where she knelt, “not like that, please, not like that.”
“Not like this, not like that; all I ever hear from you is about the things you won’t do!” Jude wrenched her arm free from Mel’s grip but she did let her arm drop and didn’t go to use the crop again. “You’re supposed to be my sub. Why don’t you act like one? How about I get a little obedience for a change?”
“That’s unfair.” Karen got to her feet. “Just because there are some things I won’t do, some things I can’t do, some things… they’re just not right….” She trailed off, uncertain that she wanted to have this conversation right now.
“Not right! Hark at Miss Morally Superior. No one else objects. Why should you? What makes you so bloody special? Do you think you’re better than us? Do you think you’re better than me?” Jude’s anger was out in the open now.
“No! No! Of course not. It’s just … it’s just ….” Karen trailed off. It would have been hard enough at the best of times to try to explain the conflicting roil of emotions around her position, and she certainly couldn’t now, but she never, for one moment, thought that Jude or the others were wicked or immoral. Just because she couldn’t do certain things didn’t mean she looked down on those who did. Her head dropped as she realised she couldn’t answer, not now, not here.
“I’ll tell you why you can’t answer. It’s because it’s not about morality, it’s because you’re scared,” Jude sneered. “Scared of what you are, scared of what you want. You hide away behind your ‘limits’,” Jude all but spat the word, “so that you don’t have to join in, not properly. You’re quite happy to go to bed with me but won’t accept that you’re a lesbian. You hide it from yourself and you surely hide it from others. You won’t come out to anyone, not even a little bit. Take you sister’s wedding as an example, you don’t even want me as your ‘plus one’. You all but disowned me, right there in St George’s Mall. I’m surprised a cock didn’t crow. You lock yourself away in that closet because you’re far too frightened to come out into the real world.”
“The real world?” Karen looked about at the various items around the playroom. “You think this is the real world?” Karen now stood face to face with Jude. “All this stuff with Dommes and subs, it’s a fantasy, that’s all, a fantasy. I won’t deny that it’s fun, I won’t deny that we don’t all enjoy it. It’s sexy and exciting and I want to keep on doing it but that doesn’t make it real. You and me, we’re real, what we have is real, or at least I thought so.”
“Please, please, the two of you.” Lucy stepped between them. “Please don’t argue like this.” There was a muttered chorus from the others in agreement but Karen and Jude had already gone too far.
“To think that I thought….” Jude started.
“Thought what?” Karen asked.
“Thought that you could be one of us.”
“But I am, aren’t I?” Karen glanced around at the others who muttered assent.
“No you’re not, not really. You’re scared to commit, you won’t come out, you won’t join in, you just want to sit on the sidelines dithering.”
“You’re the one who won’t commit,” Karen snapped back, now quite hurt and angry. “You’re fine as long as we’re playing your games but anything more than that, anything real, you just don’t want to know.”
“Games? Can’t you see that this is part of what I am, what we all are, an important part, and now you’re saying it’s not real, you’re saying that we all live in some sort of fantasy land?”
“Please, Jude, I’m not saying that.”
“Yes you are, that’s exactly what you’re saying; don’t try to wriggle out of it. I heard you say it, we all heard you say it. Well, I’ve had enough; it’s make or break time. I’m fed up to the back teeth with you and your attitude. I’m the Domme, I make the rules, it’s my way or the highway. If you want to be my sub you should be down on your knees showing a little respect and obedience, not arguing the toss all the time. There, in front of me,” Jude pointed with the riding crop, “that’s where you belong and it’s about time you started getting past these silly limits of yours about what you’ll do and who you’ll do it with. You’ll do what I tell you to and you’ll do it with anybody I want. I’m the Domme; you’re the sub. Do you understand?”
There was a long, long silence as the whole room seemed to hold its breath.
“I can’t agree to that, you know I can’t agree to that and if you think my limits are silly,” Karen said slowly and carefully biting back the tears, “then that means you think I’m silly too. Respect works both ways, you know.”
“You’re all the same, you subs, all the fucking same. Can’t do this, won’t do that. I’ve had enough; get on your knees or fuck off.”
“Jude, please….” Karen wailed.
“Please slot oyna what? Are you my sub or not?” Jude demanded.
“Not when you put it like that, not when you make those demands. It’s not me you want,” Karen said as the tears started to fall. “I thought it was but it isn’t. You don’t even want a real person, you just want some sort of sex slave, some robot, a Stepford wife. I can’t do that, even for you. I think I’d better go.”
Before anyone could do anything to stop her, she rushed upstairs to the kitchen to find her dress which was still draped over the back of a chair. She was busy putting it on when Lucy joined her.
“Are you OK?” Lucy asked.
“Yeah, I guess… Yeah, I’m fine,” Karen replied. They both knew she was anything but.
“Here, you’d best have this.” Lucy held out her hand and on it Karen saw the key to her collar. Somehow it felt like this was the end, the very end. Her hand shook as she took it from Lucy and she tried to unfasten the lock but she didn’t seem able to fit the key in the hole.
“Here, let me,” Lucy said and, taking the key from Karen’s hand she unfastened the collar. “Shall I keep this?”
“No, no, please, I’d like to….” Karen didn’t want to give it up. It might be all that she had left but it was hers and would forever be a special part of her.
“Of course,” Lucy replied, handing it over. “Look, give us five minutes and Mel and I will share a cab with you. We’re all going more or less the same way.”
“You don’t want to stay?” Karen asked.
“No, it’s over for tonight. No one is quite in the mood anymore.”
“I’m sorry,” Karen said, and she meant it.
“Well, don’t be. You’ve done nothing to be sorry about. It’s Jude who should be sorry. Look, hang on and I’ll get dressed.”
Karen became aware of a general bustle in the hallway as the others gathered and taxis were called. She stayed in the kitchen praying that Jude would give her the space. Despite Lucy’s assertions, Karen still felt as if she had let the group down, that it was her fault that everyone was so down. Then Lucy appeared at the kitchen door and told her the taxi had arrived.
As they were ferried across town Lucy tried ever so hard to be upbeat but there was no hiding what had just happened. Karen was, understandably, quiet and withdrawn. Mel just looked pissed off. Lucy’s attempts to keep the conversation going faltered and they continued in an uncomfortable silence until, eventually, Karen felt she really had to say something.
“Mel, Lucy,” Karen started. “I’m really, really sorry. I feel like I’ve messed it all up. Just because I don’t want to do certain things doesn’t mean…doesn’t mean….”
“Doesn’t mean you think we’re a pair of immoral sluts.” Mel finished off for her. “Well, if ever there was an immoral slut it was this one,” Mel gave Lucy a nudge and a smile, “but that’s why I love her so much. Seriously, don’t worry, we understand, we all understand. If anyone was out of order back there it was Jude, not you. The first rule of D/s is you never play drunk and Jude had had more than a few too many. The second rule of D/s is you always respect limits, whatever they are.”
“Please, Karen,” Lucy cut in, “please don’t let this come between us. Just because you and Jude… just because… Whatever happens it would be awful if we stopped being friends just because you and Jude fall out.”
“Friends?” Karen looked at them. “As long as you don’t expect me to….”
“Friends,” Lucy confirmed, “and we wouldn’t expect you to do anything, well, except come round for your tea tomorrow. I’m making shepherd’s pie and we’d love it if you’d join us.”
“Yeah, come on over,” Mel added. “You’re one of us now, one of the crowd.”
Karen looked at the couple and was almost overcome by the warmth of their affection. Lucy, effervescent, bubbly Lucy, was open and obvious and had always been friendly right from the start, but even gruff Mel was smiling. These were special people, people Karen had come to care a great deal about and she accepted Lucy’s invitation with gratitude.
Meanwhile, on the other side of town, Beth, Kathy, Andy and Sarah were also sharing a taxi.
“You’ll have to sort her out,” Beth said to Andy. “It’s just like Sharon all over again.”
“Why is it always down to me?” Andy complained.
“Because she respects you, because she listens to you,” Beth replied.
“When she’s in this mood she doesn’t listen to anyone. As you said, it’s just like Sharon all over again. She’ll sulk and she’ll moan, she’ll drink herself stupid and she’ll hurt anyone who goes near her. Why does she have to do it, why does she have to always push them away?”
“I really thought this one was the real thing,” Sarah added. “I’ve never seen Jude so smitten.
“That’s what makes it all so awful,” Beth said. “It was the real thing, it is the real thing. Karen’s the best thing that’s happened to Jude in ages but Jude’s too pig-headed to recognise true love when it jumps up and smacks her in the face.”
“I think that’s the root of the problem,” canlı casino siteleri Sarah said ruefully. “Karen was right, Jude’s scared of commitment. If only she’d open up and let her in then she’d have the perfect partner in Karen, you can see how much they love each other, but she’s so scared of being hurt she puts these stupid rules in place, rules she knows full well that Karen couldn’t agree to. That way she can persuade herself that it was Karen who left and not her who pushed Karen away.”
For a moment or two there was silence as they all mulled this over.
“Do you know, from a really selfish point of view I’m going to miss Karen. I know she has her limits but, despite that, she fitted in really well and wasn’t there just to make up the numbers. If she and Jude really have split then I guess we’re back to having Frankie join us or, god help us, any of the other waifs and strays Jude tends to go for.” This was Kathy’s contribution.
“I’d rather not play than have Frankie back. It’s not that I don’t like her but, well, she’s not one of us,” Andy said.
“Yeah, it wouldn’t be right playing with anyone else, anyone but one of us.” Sarah put in. “I mean, we all know each other, we’re… we’re….”
“Family?” suggested Kathy.
“Well, that would make it incest, wouldn’t it, but, yeah, we’re us,” Sarah continued. “That’s what was so good about Karen, the way she fitted in so well, the way she so quickly became one of us.”
“So, what do we do?” Andy asked.
“What do we do about what?”
“What do we do when Jude wants to include Frankie, next Friday for example?”
The four women looked at each other.
“I’m going to miss Karen,” Kathy repeated, “Bloody Jude and her pig-headedness.”
“So why don’t we stop her? Why don’t we show her what she’s throwing away?” Sarah said.
“Because she’ll never admit she’s wrong; that’s Jude’s problem, always has been, always will be,” Andy said firmly. “As I said, it’s just like Sharon all over again.”
The taxi rumbled on though the night taking the four women home.
Once the taxi had dropped Karen off, she let herself into her house, went through to the kitchen and put her handbag on the table. She felt hollow, empty, and even putting the kettle on for a late night cuppa seemed like far too much trouble. She sat and stared at the wall too weary to do anything else. She couldn’t help but let her mind wander over the past few months, the way her life had been turned up-side-down, how much she’d changed, how much she’d grown. It wasn’t just her sexual awakening, although that had been very much part of it, it had been a voyage in self discovery, and she was now far more confident in what she stood for. Just those few months ago Karen could never have stood up to Jude in that way; it had been Jude who had given her the strength to assert herself and, ironically that had been their downfall. It was still hard for her to comprehend why Jude had turned on her so. Jude had always been so understanding, so protective, so caring and now, just because…
Maybe she should go back, apologise to Jude, make it up with her, go and do all the things Jude demanded but, were she to do so, then she wouldn’t be her any more. If she didn’t have opinions, standards, reasons, places where she drew the line in the sand, then she wouldn’t be Karen, she’d be an empty shell. Surely Jude didn’t want that. What also hurt was that she had made so many compromises, had made real sacrifices, but it seemed as if she did all the giving whilst Jude did all the taking. And, in the end, for all that she was far more open minded nowadays, her core hadn’t changed. It couldn’t, that was what it was that made her who she was. For all the aching pain inside, for all that she was going to miss Jude terribly, she really had no choice; she couldn’t be the person that Jude told her she wanted, she really couldn’t. There had to be a limit, a place where you said enough is enough.
With a sigh that seemed to come from the bottom of her soul, Karen took herself off to bed, knowing that sleep was not going to be easy but what else could she do?
Back at Jude’s house the whiskey bottle was open and Jude, sitting at the kitchen table, was making serious inroads. For reasons she simply couldn’t understand she was angrier than she had ever been before. ‘Stupid little tart!’ she spat and took another gulp. ‘I’m better off without her. There’ll always be others, others that understand, others that know the rules, others that….’
A wave of nausea rocked through her and it was all she could do to keep her whiskey down. Why did she feel so bad? It wasn’t as if… yet another wave came and, with a sense of better safe than sorry, she staggered off to the bathroom taking the bottle and glass with her.
‘No one unnerstands…” she slurred as she knelt down next to the toilet, carefully placing the whiskey on the floor next to her and wrapping her arms around the rim of the bowl. “Ain’t no one unnerstands. They all just… they all just….” Several pints of lager and half a bottle of Bushmills roiled inside her and her insides seemed to revolt. She felt so ill, so incredibly ill, so… and during the next few minutes Jude was reminded of the very real consequences of mixing her drinks.
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