I like to set my stories in real places, places that I know. So what would be nicer than seeing some of these places in the flesh. Here’s the coffee shop in Kendal, Cumbria, featured in A Hard Bargain. This is where Freya and Nick came to hammer out the terms of their deal, or rather his terms for training her.
Here’s an excerpt from that bit of the story…
In the event, it takes me forty minutes to throw some decent clothes on and scurry down into town to the Costa coffee shop. I know he won’t take kindly to me being late. Doms tend to get distinctly shirty about things like that, and I’m already flustered as I rush through the door. At first, I think I might have somehow managed to get here before him as I gaze frantically around and he’s not there, only to spot him lounging on an outside table in the alley next to the coffee shop. There are two cups in front of him—looks like he might have ordered for me already. I take a deep breath, hoping to steady myself a bit before facing him again, and I step back outside.
As I approach, he uses his foot to nudge the spare chair at his table out for me to sit on. I nod my thanks and take the seat, earning myself a few more moments respite by gesturing at the spare coffee then at myself, asking if that’s for me.
“Yeah. I remembered you like it white, no sugar. That right?”
I nod then take a sip. I replace the cup carefully in its saucer and meet his eyes. Slate grey, icy, piercing. And not at all amused. I’m puzzled—he invited me after all. He didn’t have to be here. I swallow nervously, and wait for him to tell me what this is all about. He bides his time, taking a sip of his coffee himself before leaning back in his chair to watch me squirming in front of him. Eventually he speaks.
“So, do you still want to be trained? In the fine and noble art of submission?”
A good question. Do I? Yes, in a manner of speaking, but my parameters have changed. I want him to train me—I want to learn from him, for him. Only him. Is that what he’s offering? A long term Dom/sub relationship? I seriously doubt that. But, ever the pragmatist, maybe I just need to take what I can get, accept the limits of what’s on offer and live for now. I’m a natural optimist, and I can’t help but hope for more later. Maybe I’ll end up being disappointed. I accept that possibility, but I have to try.
So I nod. Slowly but definitely. I’m in.
He sits up straighter, leaning in towards me, his gaze holding mine. In that moment he reminds me of my bank manager, the one I used to have to persuade when I was a hard-up student begging for an overdraft at the Nat-West, obviously. Dealing with Max Furrowes and his colleagues at Lloyds Private Bank is a whole different kettle of fish, it goes without saying. Nicholas—Nick—Hardisty is of the Nat-West variety.
“Okay. I’ll give you a month then. One month of exclusive, intensive one on one tuition. You’ll spend that month with me, at my home. It’ll be hard. Very hard. And you’ll hurt in places you never even knew you had. You’ll have no privacy, no secrets. Your body will be mine for that month, your time, your life, all mine, willingly given up to me.” His voice is curt, business-like, formal. My knickers are dampening just listening to him.
“You’ll do exactly as I say, however difficult it is, however scared or humiliated you feel. And it will be bloody hard. You’ll think I’m brutal at times. You’ll be frightened, embarrassed, tired, sore. But I’ll thrill you too, delight you. I’ll make you feel so fucking good, Freya, you’ll think you’ve gone to heaven. And there’ll be no respite, no let up. Once we start, you’re mine for the duration, or unless you decide to end it. You once asked me what I’d consider a fair price for training you. Well that’s it. That’s my price. Whatever I ask, whatever I instruct you to do, you do your level best to deliver. No excuses, no delaying. You just do it. If you decide my price is too high, you can walk away at any time, but if you do decide to walk, that’s the training programme finished. Over. So, are you up for that, Freya?”
In truth, I’m his forever, if he did but know it. I hadn’t expected the one month twenty-four-seven arrangement, but I don’t object to that. In theory at least I know what’s involved, although I can only imagine how some of it could make me feel. Degraded? Powerless? Helpless? Delirious? Those emotional aspects rather than the physical pain are the issues which concern me, but they come with the territory. Don’t they? I’m turning all this over in my head, although I know already, knew from the outset, that I’d accept whatever terms he put before me.
He leans in again. “For a natural submissive—and, honey, after the evening we spent together, I do believe you are a natural—submission to a Dom you trust is intensely satisfying. Liberating.” Now his tone has become gentler. Lower, more seductive. ”You hand over control, and in exchange can expect all your sensual, emotional and physical needs to be met. I’m offering to show you that, to take you there if that’s what you want. If you’ll trust me, if you’ll let me take care of you as you explore what’s deep within you, and make your journey. So, will you trust me, little Freya?”
Put like that…
I nod. Yes, of course I’ll trust him, I always did. So, I’m still in.