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TARA SUE ME

THE TRAINING

The Submissive Trilogy 3

To Cyndy, Danielle, and Kathy.

So much of this story wouldn’t be what it is without you.

Thank you will never be enough.

Acknowledgments

First and foremost, many thanks to my husband, Mr. Sue Me. I’m not sure what he expected when he married me seventeen years ago (we were five when we got married, just in case you were wondering), but I have a strong suspicion it wasn’t what he got. Thank you for your support. I know it hasn’t always been easy, but you’ve been by my side through it all. Or at least you were when I finally confessed what I like to write . . .

Hugs, kisses, and love forever to my two children. My most fervent hope is that you aren’t scarred for life by all the takeout, paper plates, and, “Yes, Mommy is editing. Yes, again.”

Much love and thanks to Danielle and Cyndy. The story wouldn’t have been the same without you (the blindfold was all you, Danielle, and it was perfect!). Without you, I hate to think of what it would have been.

Thank you, Ccchellesss, for the envelopes.

To Amy, who never gave up and to Gereurd for carrying on.

My deepest thanks, respect, and awe for everyone at Penguin for being the most amazing group of people to work with.

Jhanteigh, I’ll never forget getting your e-mail in the car and pulling into the nearest parking lot so I could read it. I’m forever grateful you saw something in me (and I’ll never pass a Burger King without smiling).

Claire, you’re an anchor in this crazy world. Thank you for your patience, guidance, and direction.

To everyone who has in any way, shape, or form supported me, I wish my memory was good enough to remember you all. There is a piece of you in everything I do.

And to Ms. K, once again, there are no words. Thank you for being a true friend. I am blessed to have you in my life, and you’re stuck with me forever.

Chapter One

—ABBY—

The drive back to Nathaniel’s house took longer than it should have. Or maybe it just felt like it took longer. Maybe it was nerves.

I tipped my head in thought.

Maybe not nerves exactly. Maybe anticipation.

Anticipation that after weeks of talking, weeks of waiting, and weeks of planning, we were finally here.

Finally back.

I lifted my hand and touched the collar—Nathaniel’s collar. My fingertips danced over the familiar lines and traced along the diamonds. I moved my head from side to side, reacquainting myself with the collar’s feel.

There were no words to describe how I felt wearing Nathaniel’s collar again. The closest I could come was to compare it to a puzzle. A puzzle with the last piece finally in place. Yes, for the last few weeks, Nathaniel and I had been living as lovers, but we both felt incomplete. His recollaring of me—his reclaiming of me—had been what was missing. It sounded odd even to me, but I finally felt like I was his again.

The hired car eventually reached Nathaniel’s house and pulled into his long drive. Lights flickered from the windows. He had set the timer, anticipating my arrival in the dark. Such a small gesture, but a touching one. One that showed, like much he did, how he kept me firmly at the forefront of his mind.

I jingled my keys as I walked up the drive to his front door. My keys. To his house. He’d given me a set of keys a week ago. I didn’t live with him, but I spent a fair amount of time at his house. He said it only made sense for me to be able to let myself in or to lock up when I left.

Apollo, Nathaniel’s golden retriever, rushed me when I opened the door. I rubbed his head and let him outside for a few minutes. I didn’t keep him out for too long—I wasn’t sure if Nathaniel would arrive home early, but if he did, I wanted to be in place. I wanted this weekend to be perfect.

“Stay,” I told Apollo after stopping in the kitchen to refill his water bowl. Apollo obeyed all of Nathaniel’s orders, but thankfully, he listened to me this time. Normally, he would follow me up the stairs, and tonight that would be odd.

I quickly left the kitchen and made my way upstairs to my old room. The room that would be mine on weekends.

I undressed, placing my clothes in a neat pile on the edge of the twin bed. On this, Nathaniel and I had been in agreement. I would share his bed Sunday through Thursday nights, anytime I stayed over, but on Friday and Saturday nights, I would sleep in the room he reserved for his submissives.

Now that we had a more traditional relationship during the week, we both wanted to make sure we remained in the proper mind-set on weekends. That mind-set would be easier to maintain for both of us if we slept separately. For both of us, yes, but perhaps more so for Nathaniel. He rarely shared a bed with his submissives, and having a romantic relationship with one was completely new to him.

I stepped naked into the playroom. Nathaniel had led me around the room last weekend—explaining, discussing, and showing me things I’d never seen and several items I’d never heard of.

At its core, it was an unassuming room—hardwood floors, deep, dark brown paint, handsome cherry armoires, even a long table carved of rich wood. However, the chains and shackles, the padded leather bench and table, and the wooden whipping bench gave away the room’s purpose.

A lone pillow waited for me below the hanging chains. I dropped to my knees on it, situating myself into the position Nathaniel explained I was to be in whenever I waited for him in the playroom—butt resting on my heels, back straight, right hand on top of my left in my lap, fingers not intertwined, and head down.

I got into position and waited.

Time inched forward.

I finally heard him enter through the front door.

“Apollo,” he called, and while I knew he spoke Apollo’s name so he could take him outside again, another reason was to alert me who it was that entered the house. To give me time to prepare myself. Perhaps for him to listen for footsteps from overhead. Footsteps that would tell him I wasn’t prepared for his arrival. I felt proud he would hear nothing.

I closed my eyes. It wouldn’t be long now. I imagined what Nathaniel was doing—taking Apollo outside, feeding him maybe. Would he undress downstairs? In his bedroom? Or would he enter the playroom wearing his suit and tie?

Doesn’t matter, I told myself. Whatever Nathaniel has planned will be perfect.

I strained my ears—he was walking up the stairs now. Alone. No dog followed.

Somehow, the atmosphere of the room changed when he walked in. The air became charged, and the space between us nearly hummed. In that moment, I understood—I was his, yes. I had been correct with that assumption. But even more so, even more important, perhaps, he was mine.

My heart raced.

“Very nice, Abigail,” he said, and walked to stand in front of me. His feet were bare. I noted he had changed out of his suit and into a pair of black jeans.

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