"I know, Master."

"Then why are you acting like a petulant child? Maybe you want to be tucked in like a little girl, too? I think it's way past your bedtime anyway."

Heat surges into her cheeks at my condescending tone, this kind of humiliation obviously not her thing.

"I'm sorry, Master. It wasn't my intent to act like that."

I'm mollified by the raspy quality of her voice, speaking plainly of how much she wants to grit her teeth and curse at me but doesn't, and slide my fingers back into her, but even before I feel her relax again something else occurs to me. Grabbing her hair with my free hand I wrench her head back so that I can easily growl into her ear, and the suddenly triumphant look on her face just underlines my suspicion.

"You think you deserve some kind of mercy or leniency from me because you're hurting right now?"

She doesn't reply, just sinks her teeth into her full bottom lip, but that's enough of a response for me.

"You manipulative little piece of shit."

Definitely not the reaction from me she has been hoping for, and I can feel her whole body go rigid with indignation. Even though turning her head must hurt her scalp from the way I'm holding her, she tries to look at me directly, her gaze heavy with need and trepidation alike. We keep up the staring duel for at least ten seconds, then her lids threaten to flutter closed when I resume fucking her with my fingers. I have to admit, the fact that she doesn't just roll over and plays meek is a turn-on for me, but at the same time I'm starting to resent that double-edged game she thinks she can play with me. I know it's a very fine line between playful defiance and ungrateful mutiny, but she can't really learn to hit the right spot without me drawing the lines, right?

"Look at me. I haven't allowed you to close your eyes."

Immediately her lids open again and she glares back at me, but from the way her throat constricts convulsively I know she's trying hard to get a firmer hold on her temper. And as I keep thrusting my fingers into her, her will slowly wins over her temper, her glare soon toning down to a pleading look that is only moderately laced with resentment. Not much of an improvement, but still progress.

Placated yet not satisfied, I finally let go of her completely and take a step back, and notice with new amusement how she rolls her shoulders in discontent at the loss of contact between us. Part of me is tempted to just leave her like that and take care of my hard-on myself - or fuck her throat -

but while I love indulging my cruel streak, I think she has finally started to learn the lesson, and a little bit of positive incentive might help a lot more than pushing her to her breaking point.

I still don't hurry as I put on a condom and slather my cock with lube, stroking my shaft until I'm fully hard. Bella keeps watching me, her brows knitted as if she's afraid I will just keep her like this another day, but when I step back up to her and push the head of my dick into her ass without further ado the frown is quickly replaced by a look of bliss. Picking up a leisurely pace I push into her a little more with each thrust, always withdrawing until I'm on the brink of sliding out of her, ending up with slow, deep thrusts that make her whole body rock. Wound up as she is I feel her bear down on my cock very soon, but I keep up the slow rhythm, one hand around her hip, the other on her raised thigh, as much to steady her as hold her in place.

"Do you think I should let you come today?"

I can feel her clench harder around me as she contemplates the idea, but instead of the onslaught of pleas I've expected, she holds her tongue. I'm about to bark at her for not answering me when she drops her head, the motion bowing her back enough that for a moment it is pressed flush against my chest. I halt, buried balls deep inside of her, when I hear her voice low and husky as she's talking more to herself than to me.

"I really don't want to be so defiant, I don't want to feel like I'm fighting you every step of the way, but I can't help it! I am a spoiled little brat, so used to getting what I need in abundance that suddenly deprived of all that I can't not feel partly rejected and treated unfairly."

I wonder for a moment if she wants me to stop entirely, or at least step out of playing as she hasn't used any form of appellation, but when she goes on it's obvious that neither is the case.

"Master, I'm sorry that I can't be your meek little slut. Well, at least not the meek part." She laughs, a breathless, cut-off sound, and finally she raises her head again, pushing it against my shoulder so that her face is next to mine as she catches and holds my gaze over the mirror. "I've tried, so hard, but I just can't! If that's what you want, I'm sorry, but I'm failing by such a long shot, it's ridiculous. So if you'll only let me come if I overcome that will to rebel, you can stop right there because I know I'll never really get there. I can play meek and docile, but I'm not, and I won't lie to you, Master."

By the end of that her voice is low and shaking, and it's obvious that it's costing her a lot to admit defeat. Yet there is no hint of dejection in her tone

- it's not defiance that's making her say this, but honesty. And with honesty I can always deal.

She is surprised when I turn my head and kiss her cheek softly, but she relaxes when she feels my lips skim over her ear.

"I'm not asking you to be all docile and meek if you don't feel comfortable with that," I tell her, letting my nose continue to caress her jaw. "Any form of your submission is a wonderful gift to me." That paints a smile onto her face, a smile that is still on her lips when I reach up and wrench her head back until she gasps. "But if you don't give me what I'm asking from you, I'll just have to take it, right?"

I don't wait for my words to sink in but start fucking her with fast, deep thrusts right away that push her hard against the counter, Bella nearly losing her balance except that she can't slip away with my body pinning her in place. My fingers still twisted in her hair I push her head to the side so that I can scrape my teeth along the side of her neck, then bite into the soft flesh there hard enough for her to cry out - and leave a hint of a mark.

Her whole body is tensed up by the time I look at her face again, but her eyes, half closed now, are dark and full of lust, showing me what I want much more than the act of subservience she has been talking about - her true enjoyment of being made to submit to me.

That as much as the wonderful sensation of her clenching so hard around my cock makes me come, and I finish with a few last, rough pumps into her. Her whole body is shaking when I sag down on her, forcing her to take part of my weight as well, adding a different kind of physical strain to the one she's been under for nearly two weeks now. She grunt in turn, the sound turning desperate when she feels my spent cock slip out of her when I pull her raised leg down, and for a minute or so I enjoy watching her war with the knowledge that yes, she will go unsatisfied for yet another day. No longer hiding her struggle I see the emotions run over her face, not for the first time feeling that sense of power that I have over her - and loving every second of it.

She grunts again and tries to turn her head away when I kiss her softly, a silent gesture that so many guys use to apologize to their girlfriends when they, once again, didn't get their needy women off, but she knows that I'm just gloating at her this way, and that doesn't sit well. But I persist, and eventually she turns her head enough so that I can press my lips against hers, and after a little prodding she lets my tongue in.

This way her cry is muffled when she feels three of my fingers push back into her abused ass, but I feel her melt into me a second later. Smirking at her for a moment as I pull my head back I see her smile at me with gratitude, but that is drowned by another yelp when I push her upper body down onto the cold, hard stone of the counter top, forcing her to lose her balance. I hold her securely enough so that it doesn't matter that she can't reach the stool anymore, and after a moment of flailing her legs she goes still, thankfully not kicking my shin or knee.

"You like that, don't you?" I hiss into her ear, then stop with my fingers deep inside of her to let her calm down enough so she can answer.

"Yes, Master!"

I laugh at her, trying to sound derisive but can't quite pull it off, and hear her chuckle between two pants. In retaliation I pull my fingers out of her and spank her hard a few times, hard enough to make my palm burn, but her shrieks are definitely worth it. Then I'm back to making her come on my fingers while I lean over over her, my nose only inches away from her face.

"I want you to hold out as long as you can. We both know that you're so close, and that you can't win this if I forbid you to come. But because you've been such a good little whore these past weeks I won't be that mean this time. Although if I feel like you're not trying hard enough not to come, I won't be so lenient next time."

Unable to really formulate a response she nods her head frantically, and her whole body seizes up when she tries to fight her impending orgasm.

Without a watch it's hard to tell how long it takes her to lose the fight against herself but it's longer than I've expected, making it obvious that I'm still going too soft on her. When she finally comes it's with a loud, drawn-out shout, her whole body bucking underneath me. While impressive in its force, I assume that one climax is not everything I can get out of her, and when I just keep on she reaches a second one a minute later. Only when she sags down in herself completely do I stop, leaving her as a shivering, spent mess, half slid down from the counter.

She's still breathing hard when the sound of a door falling loudly into a lock downstairs startles us both, and the deer caught in the headlights look on her face makes me laugh.

"Fuck! Do you think Jazz, ah, heard any of that?"

I have no doubt that that is the case if he got here minutes ago already and just slammed the door now to let us know, but I don't state the obvious. I don't even mind him hearing us, as it's just a way for me to mark my territory, although I don't think it needs to be marked. My home, my girlfriend I can bang in the bathroom, after all. And because I'm still not quite down from my high I don't even hide that knowledge from Bella.

"Why, want me to ask him right now?"

"Don't be such an ass!" she grunts in return, then tries to shove me off her, but to no avail. I still enjoy letting her struggle for a while before I pull away.

Bella sneers at me before she stalks over to the shower, slamming the door in my face to keep me out. Grinning at her through the hazed over glass I turn around and go back to the sink to clean myself up there instead. Bella is still fussing around in the shower when I'm done treating my tattoo, although from the sound of it she's no longer under the spray but just keeping the water running until I'm done. Not really intent on angering her for real I finally retreat to the bedroom, although I leave the door ajar so that I can watch her strutting around from the bed.

When she finally joins me she seems mollified again, although she still tenses up as if to shove me away when I curl myself around her, spooning her body with my own. In a silent peace offering I kiss her neck where I've bitten her, noting that my teeth have barely left a bruise worth being called a hickey. For a moment I'm tempted to suck on her skin until she has one for real but then refrain from acting that childishly. As much as she seems to appreciate certain souvenirs from our play time, 'normal' marks don't seem to count.

A few minutes into my musing, Bella derails my train of thought when she clears her throat.

"Are you going to punish me for that bit at the end?"

"You calling me an ass?" I ask, already laughing against her shoulder.

She sighs as if my mirth is answer enough, but then nods. "Yes, that.""Do you think I should?"The fact that she gives the question some thought makes it easy for me to decide not to go for it, as I feel like we have stopped playing the moment it got apparent that we're not alone anymore, but I like that she doesn't just jump to conclusions."Not really. But I won't protest if you think otherwise.""Good.""Good?" she hedges, then turns around enough so she can steal a glimpse at my face. "Good as in we're good and you will let the matter slide, or good as in it's good I won't make a fuss if you tan my hide?"I let a lopsided grin be my answer for a few seconds, but then lean in to kiss her languidly."Good as in I'm too tired to do anything now, and tomorrow morning I would probably feel stupid about still insisting on it."That makes her laugh and snuggle back into my embrace, although she still makes sure that her shoulder blade isn't pressed into my chest."Does my little admission mean that you won't go on with pushing my mental boundaries now?"I shake my head."No, unless you want me to?""Not particularly, no. But will that still work? I mean, me not being all meek and selfless and all that shit."As usual, her blunt words amuse me to no end."There are so many ways to play this game, I don't think that will be a problem. And I can still keep you hanging dry for weeks at a time whether you grovel for my appreciation or curse me to my face. In face, the latter makes it so much easier for me."The way she stays pointedly quiet makes it obvious that she's only now realizing just how much she's been playing into my hands with being honest - but when she finally answers with a sigh I know she doesn't necessarily consider that as a bad thing. Neither do I."So what, you'll now tease me into losing my calm, then you punish me for being a brat and don't let me come because I haven't been a good girl?""Pretty much, yes.""I can only repeat myself, you're such an ass!""I know," I chuckle, then rub my crotch over her ass until she's giggling and I feel my cock start to get hard again."There's no real way I can win this, right?""There's never a way to win for the sub of the Dom doesn't let her. You know that."Bella nods, then quiets down in a way that's nearly alarming."Something wrong?""No, it's just -" she sighs, then shakes her head. "Nothing. I'll just have to wait and see.""See what?""How I can handle disappointing you like that."My mind grinds to a momentary halt, and it takes me a few seconds to come to the same conclusions as she must have. It has been quite a while since I've been on the other side of an arrangement like ours, and I think the fact that things have been going so well between us has let me become complacent about catching any possible pot holes in the road ahead.Nudging her softly at first, I wait for her to look at me again, and when she doesn't I roll her over so that she's facing me. Her eyes are fixed on my chest rather than my face, and I nudge her chin up gently until she's really looking at me."Bella, you're not disappointing me. This game is set up for you to lose, not win, being unable to best me doesn't mean you're disappointing me."I want to add that as long as she doesn't deliberately fuck up she won't be able to disappoint me ever, but I know that I won't help her by admitting that. I still remember the psychological woes of being an overachieving type of submissive, your own worst enemy."But it feels like that, you know? Maybe I've gotten too used to trying to get everything right, but -"I silence her with another soft kiss, this one lingering as she doesn't seem too intent on continuing to speak. When we finally part she looks a lot less dejected, but doubt is still lurking in her eyes."How else should I handle things if not like this?" I try a different approach."Either you excel at bowing yourself to my will, you enjoy submitting to me body and mind and find satisfaction in being selfless. Or you don't, you like every step to be a challenge, a battle of wills where eventually I force you to give in and yield. If you know a third way, please tell me, but you giving in grudgingly doesn't leave me with the feeling that you've failed me, but instead that I've pushed you into giving something to me that you don't fling away easily. Just two sides of the same coin."Although she obviously agrees with me she still mulls things over until she shakes her head."Can't think of any option C here. But I really don't see us playing in that meek and gentle way. I just love you acting like a mean, domineering bastard too much. And you can never go wrong with hair pulling, down holding, rough sex!""Yeah, for some reason whenever I do that your protest isn't really all that convincing."She laughs at my dry remark, her previously glum mood lifted."So, how do we handle it if Jazz really heard us?""We just ignore it and pretend it didn't happen? I don't really think he'll be gloating at us; at least from the way he's been avoiding us today I'd say he's trying hard not to appear as a nuisance.""True. Let's just hope that our attempt at don't ask, don't tell works better than it does for the Army. And it's not as if he doesn't know how we sound when we fuck."That doesn't deserve an answer and I kiss her good-night without commenting on her abashed look, either, before I close my eyes. Not much I could say to that, as quite frankly, yes, he knows.Chapter 24As usual, I wake up before Bella. A look at the alarm clock at the nightstand tells me that it's early even for me, only 5:30, but try as I might, I can't go back to sleep. My whole arm itches, and the only thing I can think of that might distract me from that is waking Bella to pick up where we've left off the night before. But I know that she will not really appreciate that - of all the people in the world I have to be madly in love with the worst morning person there is. And as going down on her to pacify her is off limits right now, I decide to let her sleep and jerk off in the bathroom instead.But of course the tatt is itching just as much when I'm done cleaning my hands and cock afterwards, and slathering the skin with lotion only helps so much. Restless and frustrated I slink back into the bedroom and don my running clothes. It's still dark outside and the heavy November mist is less than inviting, but I have to burn off energy somehow. The sleepy grunt I get in return when I kiss Bella's shoulder underlines the wisdom of my choice.Until I come face to face with Jazz downstairs I've nearly forgotten about him staying over. Or not quite forgotten, more like having been very successful in ignoring that fact. Before I can stop myself I feel my shoulders tense up in expectation of some jibe or other - while he has probably never said anything to Bella when she stayed over at our house, I've gotten my fair share of snarky remarks from him, and dealt out at least twice as many myself - but he only mumbles a tired "Good morning," around a spoonful of yogurt. At least now the mystery is solved why he hasn't eaten breakfast with us the day before, if his behavior today is any indication.