Raw and Broken Ch. 02

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I was able to keep my emotions in check for the duration of my impromptu trip. I repeatedly told myself I was strong. But as soon as I stepped through the door at the end of the ramp at Philadelphia International Airport and I saw Malcolm, I was a blubbering mess.

“Oh, Daphne,” was all he said. Then, long-forgotten masculine arms wrapped around me, drawing me close. Letting me know I was welcome. Safe.

Neither of us spoke. I took solace in the silence. The firm chest that supported my body. The steady heartbeat beneath my ear. The warm hands that rubbed my back. Calming me. Assuring me.

I was suddenly yanked from my cocoon of comfort into feminine arms.

“Daphne! Are you alright? Did he hurt you?”

“Becca!” It was all I could get out as more tears spilled down my cheeks.

I thought I may never hear her voice again. See her face. Feel the warmth of her embrace. It had been way too long. And it shouldn’t have taken something like this to bring us to together. Like Malcolm’s accident in March had.

I could smell the salt of the sea in her hair. I clutched onto Becca’s shoulders while Malcolm continued to rub my back. No matter the consequences, I knew right then and there that I’d made the right decision coming here.

“It’s Jimmy,” I blurted as Becca eventually released me.

“Okay, sweetie,” Becca said, pulling strands of my hair away from my wet cheeks. By the way she glanced sideways at her husband, I could tell she didn’t know who or what I was talking about.

“Why don’t we get going? You can fill us in later,” Malcolm said, extracting his wife’s arms from around me. He took my bag off my shoulder and put his arm on the back of my shoulder, guiding me away from the gate. “You’ve had a long trip, but we still have a couple of hours to drive.”

I had prepared to unload on them once we got on the Interstate. However, both the time change and the reality of everything that happened in the past twenty-four hours seemed to crash down on me. I remember leaning my head back to take in the scenery. The next thing I knew, I opened my eyes to see we were turning down a lane flanked by beautiful green trees that led into a cul-de-sac. The latter was outlined with nine beach houses that grew larger the further you went around the circle on either side so that one at the far center was the biggest of all of them.

“Well, we’re here,” Becca grinned as she reached back to where I was sitting. I clasped her hand. She seemed like she wanted to say more, but she worried her lower lip, squeezed my hand, and then turned back around to unbuckle her belt when the car stopped.

As I got out, I stared in awe at the black door that seemed so small on the towering, white structure. The center house. It appeared to be three stories tall, but there was a large window that seemed to grow out of the roof that could have been a fourth floor. I couldn’t see them, but I could hear seagulls squawking and the waves of the ocean crashing nearby.

Once inside, Malcolm guided us both to the back of the house where we sunk down on a couch.

“Just relax and get your bearings. We’ve got plenty of time to talk.”

I nodded and had just let out a deep breath when I noticed a short, burly man with dark, buzzed hair standing at the kitchen island, watching us. I cried out and glanced at Becca.

“Daphne,” Malcolm said, “I’d like to introduce our friend, Darryl. My wife’s sister-in-law, Daphne.”

Darryl rounded the island. “Daphne, as in—”

The corner of Malcolm’s mouth turned up despite the situation. “Yes, the kinky one.”

I felt my cheeks heat up. “Uh, hello.”

“It is a pleasure,” Darryl said. He took one of my hands in both of his and clasped them warmly. “Please, do not be embarrassed. Your secret is safe with me.”

“Darryl has been visiting Ocean City from out of state and stopped by late last night,” Malcolm said. “He was going to drive back in the morning. However, given the circumstances…”

“It’s not a problem,” Darryl said. “Becca, I’ll take a raincheck on that meal. I know you’re good for it. I should get on the road.”

“I think you should stay.” Becca waved at the empty chair on the other side of the couch. “Please, sit.”

Darryl started to sit down but paused halfway when Malcolm shook his head.

“Becca, I hardly think this is the time—”

“Seriously, honey? It’s the perfect time. We need reinforcements.”

I glanced between the two of them and at Darryl who was standing again. Then I leaned over toward Becca and whispered, “Why do you think this guy—”

“He’s a Master,” Becca said.

Malcolm cleared his throat. “I think Daphne should decide.”

I laid my head against the back of the couch. They were all silent while I thought about the ramifications. It couldn’t get any worse, could it? What the hell if one more person knew my story? I took a deep breath and sat up. “If you think he can help, I don’t mind.”

“Please, do not feel obligated to tell me anything you don’t want ataşehir escort to,” Darryl said. He sat down and patted my hand that was resting on the arm of the couch. “I am only here to help.”

I nodded and settled further into the corner of the couch. “Where do I begin?”

Becca opened her mouth. I’m sure she would have said, “the beginning,” if Malcolm hadn’t spoken first.

“Wherever you feel most comfortable.”

Before I could say anything, I heard the muted sounds of the “Imperial March” from Star Wars. I smirked as Malcolm pulled his cellphone out of his pocket and stared at the screen. I’d forgotten how much he loved those movies. But my joy was cut short when I saw his smile change to a grim, straight line as he glanced at Becca.

“Hello, this is Malcolm. What? Slow down.” Malcolm stood and walked over to a set of French doors.

I turned and looked over the back of the couch to the outside as well, fully noticing the view out the wall of windows on the east side. It was breathtaking. Beyond a porch that seemed to span the width of the house were wild grasses swaying in the breeze. On the other side was a sandy beach and finally the dark blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

Above that, the sky was still bright despite being after seven o’clock. There were some white, fluffy clouds off on the horizon, but otherwise you could see nothing but water. It was surreal to think that beyond the miles and miles of no land was Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. And while the same was true when I stared out at the Pacific Ocean in California, it seemed even more awe-inspiring—and just as intangible—here for some reason.

“Yes, she’s here. She’s fine.”

I snapped my head around to see Malcolm watching me. My chest tightened.

“Are you sure that’s a good idea? No, I understand. No. I’m sorry, I have to tell her. Yes, I’ll text it to you.” Malcolm glanced at his watch. “We’ll see you in the morning. Goodbye, Drake.”

“No.” I cringed, trying to back away as Becca reached for me. “No!”

“Shh, it’ll be alright.” Becca succeeded in wrapping her arms around me and pulling me against her in a hug. A couple of silent tears trickled down my cheek when she whispered in my ear, “We’ll get through this. Together. I’m glad you’re here.”

“I’m sorry, Daphne. I really am.” Malcolm sat on the ottoman and hung his head. “I know you don’t want him here, but maybe it’s best that we can all talk together.”

“Drake is your husband, correct?” Darryl said.

“Yes,” Becca said, releasing me. “And my brother.”

I nodded in agreement and wiped the side of my thumb under my eyes.

Darryl sat back in his chair and crossed one leg on top of the other so that his right ankle rested on his left knee. “Why don’t you tell us what’s going on so we know better how to help you?”

“I guess I better start with Jimmy.” I exchanged a long glance with Malcolm. He gave me a soft smile and a nod of encouragement. “I dated him for almost two years before I met Drake. While he introduced me to the world of Dominance and submission, he was also very abusive. Both physically and verbally.”

“Oh, Daphne,” Becca said, her hand on mine for a moment.

“I met Malcolm at the end of that relationship. He saved me from a downward spiral. The police got involved, and Jimmy was arrested for domestic battery. When he got out of prison, he moved away from Illinois. California, I think. I thought it was the last I’d seen of him. I didn’t even think about him until after we had moved out west ourselves. It had been four years, and if he was still living there…well, California is a big state.”

Malcolm had gotten up and returned with a glass of water. I accepted it gratefully and took a long gulp.

“As you know,” I gestured toward Malcolm and Becca, “Drake wanted to try 24/7 living. He never said where he got the idea, just that he thought it would suit us well. I was on board, and it seemed like a good fit. At first. After we came back from seeing you in March, he started going out more on the weekends. Without me. I never questioned where and what for.”

“Is that how it’s always been?” Becca asked. “More physical than verbal communication?”

“Not at first. We used to talk all of the time. I loved to listen to his voice. But since we got married… Well, now he leads, and I follow. It doesn’t take a lot of direction since I know what he wants. I trust him to have my best interests at heart. It’s not entirely because of BDSM, though. I’m wired that way. I could be happy without it…I was for a long stretch between Jimmy and Drake. I just choose to be in a relationship where the guy has all of the control, and I obey.”

“There is nothing wrong with that,” Malcolm said. “As long as it’s done right.”

“Are you involved at all out west?” Becca asked. “With other couples? Co-workers? Friends?”

I shook my head. “We never got into a club scene like we did in Chicago. Even when he isn’t working, we mostly stay at home. ataşehir escort We have a room in our basement.” I felt my cheeks heat at the thought of our private room—at revealing its existence. And at what we had done just last night in that room despite my anger after the fiasco. I shifted my gaze to Malcolm then Becca. “I miss having the companionship that we all had.”

Malcolm clasped his wife’s hand. “Becca and I miss you, too, Daphne. And Drake, of course.”

“Thanks. Drake never talks about it, but I can tell that he isn’t interested in the social circle like he used to be. So I was surprised when he told me two weeks ago that he had been going to munches on Saturday mornings for almost six months and had met another Master who also used to live in Chicago. He said the munches were specifically for Dominants and Masters. They mostly discussed techniques and how to improve the relationships with their subs and slaves.”

“I’ve attended conventions like that,” Malcolm said. “Back before we met. They can be very effective. But regular meetings? It sounds very risky. The power exchange could easily go to the dominant partner’s head.”

I gave him a wry smile. “While I had told Drake about my experience before him, I’d skimmed over a lot of details at his request. He said our past partners were exactly that, and we didn’t need to dwell on what couldn’t be changed. So he hadn’t even known Jimmy’s name. It wouldn’t have mattered though, because Jimmy was going by JD now.”

“I take it Jimmy is the guy he met?” Becca asked.

I nodded.

“As sly as ever, I see,” Malcolm said, shaking his head.

A shudder ran through me. “They started hanging out together. Not just at the munches but private sessions with Jimmy’s latest partner. Drake was applying the lessons at home. It explained why he was demanding more obedience from me. Inflicting punishment more often for minor infractions. I should have figured it out. I’d been there before with Jimmy. The name was just too coincidental.”

“You’re being too hard on yourself,” Becca said.

Malcolm laid his hand on my hand that I’d rested on my knee, and I tried not to cry. He would know what was going through my head. We’d been here before. “Daphne, no one could have expected you to imagine Jimmy was behind it.”

He was right. But still… I looked up at him, my vision blurry. I blinked, sending tears trickling out the sides of my eyes. “I should have known something was up when Drake told me two months ago that I should stop modeling and stay home instead. He didn’t give me a reason. I trusted that he had a good one, even if he didn’t voice it. So I quit my part-time job like he asked. It was classic Jimmy, though. An easy way to monitor my movements. Control me. Even if he wasn’t home all of the time.”

“That’s not what being a Master is about at all,” Becca said. “Where did he go wrong?”

It took a moment before I could speak again.

“After he finally told me about his secret outings, he said he wanted me to meet his friend, JD. To get to know JD’s partner, Monique. It would be good for me to have another submissive to talk to. It was the first time he’d mentioned me having a friend—outside of my co-workers, whom I never see anymore—and a kinky one at that. I was overjoyed. But that was three weeks ago, and he didn’t bring it up again. I almost had a heart attack when the doorbell rang last night and I found Jimmy and a woman standing on our doorstep.”

“I’m so sorry, Daphne,” Becca said, her voice cracking.

“Drake was right behind me and invited them in. I felt outside of myself for the next thirty minutes as they sat drinking and chatting like they were old buddies while I scrambled around the kitchen trying to stretch our meal to feed four instead of two. I still couldn’t comprehend that JD was really Jimmy. That he was sitting in my house and I couldn’t find a single minute to steal Drake away to explain.”

Malcolm shook his head. “As you should be.”

“While we ate, they talked about how Drake’s training with me was going. How much he enjoyed the 24/7 lifestyle over the occasional scenes we used to have. It sickened me that Jimmy was acting like this was an everyday occurrence and my abusive ex-boyfriend wasn’t swapping sex stories with my husband. I felt like the maid the entire time. There but insignificant. I’d barely touched my food I was so upset.”

Becca was crying now, her face in her hands. Malcolm rubbed her shoulder with one hand and clenched one of my hands in the other.

“When Jimmy finally left, I told Drake I was sick. He said I should be, he’d told me about the dinner date two days ago and I must have forgotten. I’d made him feel like a fool, as if he couldn’t handle me. That I’d embarrassed him when he was only trying to introduce me to our new friends. He wouldn’t even listen to me when I tried to explain who JD really was.”

“Let me guess, Drake already knew.” Darryl’s voice made me jump. I’d forgotten he was there.

“Yeah. anadolu yakası escort Jimmy had told him outright.”

“And he hadn’t said a word to you?” Malcolm’s voice was closer to a growl than anything human. It made me shiver. “He hadn’t told Jimmy or JD or whatever the fuck his name is now to get lost?”

I adjusted so I could pull my knees up to my chin. Closing up, building my defenses. I felt so small inside already it wasn’t hard. “He said Jimmy thought it would be better not to say anything to me.”

Darryl snorted. “For six months?”

I shrugged. “I don’t know how long Drake knew who JD really was. And I don’t know what all Jimmy told my husband about the two of us. But whatever they did discuss, Drake…he just said Jimmy didn’t act anything like what I had described. That he must have matured and changed since I’d last seen him. People can do that. Especially if they’d been to prison. I should give him a second chance to be friends. And wasn’t our relationship better now that we were fully committed to it all of the time? All thanks to Jimmy’s direction?”

“What an ass,” Darryl said. “Nothing against your brother, Becca, and I don’t know this Jimmy, but that’s a load of bullshit. I’m not sure if I want to meet this man now.”

Becca sniffed and roughly wiped at her face. “My brother seems brainwashed. He never used to be like this. He was kind. Loving. Protective, even. Especially to you, Daphne.”

“I know.” I pressed my forehead against my knees. “And I still love Drake. I want to be with him. He’s just not the same guy I dated. The guy I married.”

“But Daphne, this can’t all be because he met Jimmy,” Becca said. “He had already started to change last winter after your wedding. Back when he wanted the collaring ceremony. Not that the ceremony was wrong, but his mindset about it was off. Very selfish. It wasn’t like him, then, even. Something started him down this path to destruction. Meeting Jimmy was just a shove further down that road.”

“Was anything going on with his job last year?” Malcolm asked.

I looked up to see him running his fingers through his hair. Shaking his head as if in disbelief. I could understand why it was perplexing to him and Becca, and they knew him longer than I did.

“Was there anything at all that would explain his irrational behavior?” he continued. “You decided to move quite suddenly.”

I hugged my knees tighter. “He just came home from work one day and said he got the promotion. We decided to wait until after the wedding to make the move. But we had talked for months about the collaring ceremony. We just weren’t sure when to have it. The move pushed up the date because he insisted you be there, Becca. I’m sorry it turned out the way it had. But honestly, if I had a kinky sister, I would have wanted her there to witness it. Despite the circumstances, it was a very important day for us. I’m sorry it turned out like it did.”

“I know.” Becca sniffled again, and Malcolm moved from the ottoman to sit on the other side of her.

Everyone was silent for a few minutes when Becca spoke again. “Daphne? How controlling is my brother? You said these past two months he wouldn’t let you work. Do you get to sleep in his bed with him? Wear clothes? Have access to money?”

My cheeks were warm again as I stared across the room at the empty fireplace. “He doesn’t treat me like an object.”

Darryl snorted softly, and I shot him a dirty look.

“Yes, we share a bed. We’re married. And I get to wear whatever I want unless we’re in a scene. He gives me a weekly cash allowance to buy us groceries and incidentals. I take the bus since we only have one car. I have a license, but I’ve never owned a vehicle myself. I go to the gym a couple of times a week. But since I don’t have any friends, I usually stay at home otherwise. Especially now that I’m not working, either. Whenever I do go out socially, it’s with him.”

“How did you pay for your plane ticket?” Darryl asked.

“I had figured out the code for the safe and grabbed my passport before I left this morning. I hadn’t thought about money until I saw his emergency credit card for work in there, too. So I took it. As well as a large envelope with two cards,” I looked up at Becca before shifting my gaze to Malcolm, “and a couple of short letters. The hand-written kind.”

“So he did get my Christmas and birthday cards!” Becca closed her eyes for a moment. Then she turned to her husband. “Wait, what letters?”

Malcolm sighed. “I tried to get him to reconcile. To let him know we still cared. He never responded.”

“I didn’t know you’d sent anything.” I swallowed heavily, the lump in my throat making the action a little painful. A fresh tear slipped down my cheek when I blinked. “I thought you’d cut us off.”

Becca’s voice seemed strained as she clutched my hand. “Never! I didn’t want you to go. We had our differences. But that didn’t mean I wanted you out of our lives. Even if you were thousands of miles away, I wanted to keep in touch. I couldn’t call him though. It was too hard. I tried you, once…”

I shook my head, feeling more miserable by the minute. “I lost my phone during the move. He bought me a new one…with a new number. Now I wonder if it was intentional. What other signs did I miss?”

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