By: Candace Blevins

Cara looked at him a moment, considering whether she truly wanted to take this step. Smiling, she said, “I’m earning enough to buy myself a different car if I want one but it’s only three years old and I like it. When I need another I’ll buy my own car, married or not.”

He growled in frustration. “Forget the car then, it’s not a condition. Will you marry me, Cara Jamieson?”

He was so serious, and this so important to him, how could she turn him down? She really did love him more than she’d ever thought possible. She put her hands in his hair on either side of his face and bent forward, enjoying the rare occasion to take control physically. She kissed him until he was breathless, and sat up, rather proud of herself. “Yes, but no big ceremony. Maybe we can make a quick trip to Vegas or something, and have it over and done with before the gossip catches on.”

“Really? You’ll marry me?”

“As long as I don’t have to walk down an aisle with a bunch of people looking at me, or have to deal with nosy questions from strangers before the wedding.”

Travis put the ring on her finger, stood, and pulled her up to him, wrapping his arms around the small of her back where there were no bruises or welts. “I love you so much,” his lips descended on hers, another of those soul shattering make-your-knees-go-weak moments and she was glad he held her. His kisses to her were so much better than hers to him.

When he finally rose and she could breathe again she said, “Can I see my ring now, please?”

He laughed and sat her down — gently. She looked at it, and back up to him, speechless, before looking at her hand again.

The center diamond didn’t sit high, thank goodness, but was quite large, and encircled by around twenty moderate-sized diamonds. The band was two rings set in a connected, flattened spiral, with diamonds inset into both bands all the way around. She didn’t want to know how much it’d cost, but truly hoped he wasn’t using the two months’ salary rule as a guideline. No way did she want to walk around with anything this costly on her finger.

She finally raised her head to meet his gaze. “It’s too much.”

He shook his head. “It’s not enough, but if you don’t like it we can pick another, together. I went in disguise to choose it and had my attorney pay the jewelry store so the gossip rags wouldn’t find out I’d bought an engagement ring.” He smiled and kissed her forehead. “I knew you wouldn’t want flashy so I tried to balance how much I love you with something you’d be comfortable with.”

She looked at it again and realized he was probably right. The ring was obviously expensive but not overly glitzy. It could’ve been way flashier. “I love it, even if I do think it’s too extravagant. But...your attorney? Does that mean...if he knows...” She stopped rambling, took a breath, and just said it. “Do you want me to sign a prenup?”

No smile, and a very serious face. “No, I wouldn’t dream of it. Besides, the way your art prices have been escalating you may have more money than me ten years from now.”

Cara shook her head and he said, “Don’t sell yourself short, but whether it happens or not isn’t the point.” He gently touched under her chin with a finger and tilted her head until their gaze met. “I won’t bet on our marriage failing. This is forever for me and I hope you feel the same.”

“Yes, I do, or I wouldn’t agree to it. Now what’s the second part?”

He grinned, his eyes twinkling. “I’ll show you when we’re through with our dinner.”

* * * *

When they’d finished eating he walked her down the porch steps to the cushioned swing by the pool. She still wore her swimsuit, but with a wraparound skirt cover-up, and he had on his bathing suit. He opened his electronic tablet to a presentation, the first picture of a girl wearing a leather hood covering eyes and cheeks and extending over her nose without blocking the nostrils. The woman’s hair and ears were completely concealed, with the lips and a portion of the jawline the only things visible as the hood molded under the chin and ended in a large collar fastened around the throat. He flipped to another image showing a ring gag attachment holding the mouth open. The leather was almost the same color as the woman’s skin, creating the unsettling effect of a faceless head on a female body.

“Tell me, do you think this hood objectifies this woman? Takes away some of her humanity?”

Cara’s libido blazed to life as she nodded.

“You know I have male friends in the lifestyle who know me as, well, me...instead of an alias. I’d like to throw a get-together and provide a party favor. You, in this hood, tied up for the length of the party in some artful way that makes you available to anyone who wants to use your mouth or ass. Your pussy is mine and will be plugged for the duration of the night.”