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Tannery. A place where animal hides are tanned; the workshop of a tanner.
That didn’t help.
Tanning. The art or process by which a hide is tanned; a sound spanking.
An article – Tanning (Leather)
Spanking and leather.
I felt like everything I found out about Levi just complicated things and made him harder to understand. I was waist-deep in research about his store and yet it was still as much an enigma to me as he was. It didn’t really help that I didn’t know where to look or, indeed, what to look for. I felt like the answer was staring me in the face and I just couldn’t see it.
Over the next week, Levi and I took to texting. He didn’t always answer my questions in a straightforward way, but we spoke about mundane things – the places we’d both been and liked, favorite movies, favorite foods – Levi told me about a Thai place nearby he wanted to visit with me. We exchanged music tastes. He sent me the playlist he’d made for a concert he went to; it wasn’t the sort of thing I usually listened to, but I liked it.
Wholly absent from our chats, I noticed, was Levi’s provocative behavior and the language he flustered me with. Since that day, he hadn’t said a thing to suggest he thought of me as anything but a friend. He’d done exactly as he said – I said no, and he stopped. It was an unusual feeling. I didn’t remember a time that anyone had so easily acquiesced to my wishes, had respected my feelings so thoroughly without even a word against it.
But with that came the strange sensation that I was missing something.
And the wanting it left frightened me.
Sunday rolled back around eventually. I told Levi I’d pick him up at his apartment instead of the street corner, since I now knew where it was. He didn’t argue this time.
There was a soft snow flurry laying a quiet cloud over town when I left to go get Levi. I gave myself extra time just in case the snow slowed me down, but it was barely sticking to the roads. I ended up at Levi’s twenty minutes ahead of time. I texted him and let him know I was outside. With time to kill, I pulled my coat tight around myself and wandered onto the sidewalk to take a closer look at his storefront.
The mannequin in the window held no further answers, and the display behind her was awfully plain besides. There was a wall separating it from the rest of the store so you couldn’t see inside, covered with some kind of patterned black silk.
I moved over to the glass-paneled door, hoping to get a better view, but it was pretty heavily obstructed on its own. There were stickers for whatever licenses and permits Levi needed, but most of the window was taken up by a small “Closed” sign with a movable clock face, and a larger sign in aluminum with big, blocky letters:
You must be 18 or older to enter.
Patrons will be carded.
What would you have to card people for? I’d never seen a sign like this anywhere. Right next to it was a sticker that said service animals were allowed. Animals, but not kids, apparently.
As I was trying to peer into the darkness between the window decorations, the door directly to my right opened and Levi stepped onto the sidewalk, turning to lock the door behind him. He gave me a look, but smiled all the same. “You’re being nosy again. Ready to go?”
I glanced back at the door. “Well, we’re kind of early…”
“Ash,” Levi warned, “I told you I don’t want you in there.”
“Come on, man,” I smirked. “You can’t keep me out forever. Should I come back during business hours? Say… what, five o’clock?” I added, consulting the plastic hands on the “closed” sign.
“I never change the time on that thing.” He sighed and slumped his shoulders. “Aren’t we going to church?”
“We have a couple minutes,” I needled him.
Levi rolled not just his eyes, but his whole head back, groaning under his breath. At last he walked over and shouldered me gently aside, fiddling with his keys. “You are a tease, you know that?” The door unlocked and he pulled it open, a bell sounding somewhere inside. “Go ahead. But I have a feeling you’re going to need more than a couple minutes.”
I grinned at him and stepped inside, but there wasn’t much to see – even by the muted light from the doorway, it was too dark to make out anything but the counter up front. Levi walked in behind me and shut the door. A shiver ran up my back as I heard the lock click.
“Ash, I need you to understand something,” said Levi’s voice over my shoulder. “You are completely out of your element here, and you’re going to have a lot of questions I can’t easily answer. I need you to keep an open mind, and be calm.”
Be calm… Be calm? Why? Did he expect me to freak out? As Levi made his way past me and around the counter I could barely see, I inhaled gently – and a strangely familiar scent soaked my lungs. Something warm, earthy, with a sharp tang that seemed to linger in my mouth…
Levi flicked the overhead lights on, row by row.
I really casino oyna wasn’t sure what I was looking at. Whatever it was, there was… a lot of it.
There were walls and standing shelves and glass cases, all displaying a different variety of things. There was one wall full of objects that seemed to all be made of leather – straps and rings and buckles in different configurations, and in colors I never thought leather could be. Dog collars like the one on the mannequin, decorated or completely plain… Small pairs of straps like bracelets, zip-tied together by the steel rings they hung on… And some things whose makeup I could only guess at…
Further down the wall was an assortment of things that looked at once familiar and strange to me . Some looked like riding crops, others like whips out of Indiana Jones, and others unlike anything I’d ever seen before… One was like a leather horse tail with a handle. I reached out and touched it. The “tail” turned out to be made of a multitude of thin leather strips, and I wondered at its use.
“Do you know what any of this is, Ash?” asked Levi.
I was startled, almost forgetting he was there. “I… don’t know.” I looked over the riding crop things, thinking. “Horse riding stuff?”
“Not quite,” he said slowly. He unzipped and shed his jacket, tossing it onto the counter behind him, and came across the shop to where I stood. His boots were heavy and his gait was careful, but I didn’t feel anger or annoyance from him… that put me at ease somehow.
Come to think of it, a lot of things here reminded me somewhat of horses… Some of the stuff on the one side of the wall looked like horse bridles or bits. None of it seemed to be made to fit a horse, though. And as I watched Levi pull one of those weird pairs of bracelets off the wall, my stomach turned in realization, knowing what he was going to say before he said it.
“They’re for humans.”
I looked from him to the leather cuffs he held – cuffs… they were cuffs! “What do you… use them for?” I asked cautiously.
Levi smiled sympathetically. “For fun,” he said simply, turning the cuffs in his hands. “And for sex.”
My thoughts were a blur. I couldn’t take my eyes off the cuffs in Levi’s hands. The work was clean, the edges smoothed and shiny, the insides finished . The large rings on them were linked to triangular metal fixtures sewn into the belting, and it all jangled cheerily whenever they moved, though they were zip-tied loosely together like the rest.
“You… Levi, did you make all this?” I said slowly, gaping at the wall.
Levi smirked proudly. “Almost all of it,” he said. “Most of everything that’s made of leather or wood. The metal, I order in… Pretty much everything else is wholesale.”
I began to wander. Things jumped out and caught my eye… A spiked purple dog collar. A spool of scarlet rope. A shelf of clear bottles with brightly colored labels, though none of them looked like drinks. I didn’t actually see anything made of wood until I reached the glasstop counter, which seemed to double as a display case; inside were several curvy, strangely shaped things, some of polished wood, some in shimmering steel. Alongside these were more leather cuffs and collars, these with gorgeous and intricate patterns tooled into them. One that caught my eye, a wide cylinder with curves at its top and bottom rim, had a pattern of roses and thorns in sharp relief against the warm brown leather.
“You, um,” I started, my throat dry. I swallowed and tried again. “You use all this… for sex?”
“Well, not all at the same time,” he smiled. He traced a hand over the glass – over the sticker that said “Please do not put hands on glass – Ask for assistance”. “These are tools used in BDSM play.”
A familiar word. “Like… like a whips and chains thing?”
“That can be part of it. And obviously, it’s the part you hear about the most.” He leaned back against the counter, turning the cuffs over his fingers like bike pedals. “BDSM, as in bondage and discipline, domination and submission, sadism and masochism. Three sides of a complex and interweaving dynamic, none of which can be summed up in a word or two, and all of which can be done in countless ways. Really, it comes down to expression and how we interact and relate to one another. The things in this store are simply tools to that end.”
I frowned, looking across the shop. “That… doesn’t really make it sound like you’re talking about sex.”
“It doesn’t have to be about sex. Some people don’t involve sex at all. The power exchange between Dominant and submissive, Master and slave, can be based in chastity, or simple control and subservience.”
I found myself eyeing the cuffs again, which Levi continued to turn in his hands. “So… How would you use those?”
Levi stopped. A gentle smile spread over his face. “Do you want to try them?” he asked. “On me.”
My heart leapt inside my throat. “Why on you?”
He laughed. “Because I don’t want to restrict you right now.”
It canlı casino was tempting. Levi held out the cuffs and I took them gingerly, though they were anything but delicate. The leather was smooth, soft, but supple. I glanced back at Levi… He was holding his wrists out expectantly, hands gently closed, palm-up.
This was… harmless. It wouldn’t mean anything.
The cuffs weren’t difficult to figure out. Each was made up of a sort of belt and a wider inside part, meant to layer over itself. I unbuckled one and let it fall open, its twin dangling below. They looked somehow inviting. With Levi’s encouragement, I wrapped it around his left wrist, fumbling momentarily with the buckle. I yanked and pulled it tight, jerking his hand with me.
“Careful,” Levi said. “Not too tight. You don’t want it cutting off circulation.”
“It’s okay. Make sure you can fit two fingers between the cuff and my arm.”
I loosened it and slid my index and middle fingers along the tendon of his wrist, and the leather tensed over my knuckles as I adjusted accordingly. A strange tremor licked inside my stomach.
With both cuffs in place, I really had to marvel at their construction. It seemed impossible that these things were crafted by human hands rather than simply factory-pressed. But the thick braces fit to Levi’s hands in a way that seemed natural…
He lifted and pulled his hands apart sharply, so that the zip-tied rings snapped taut between them. “See? Nice and secure.”
I traced the metal with my fingertips. The cuffs only allowed his hands four inches of freedom between them, but he wore this restriction like diamond jewelry. “What does it feel like?” I asked.
Levi grinned and unbuckled his wrists. “Well… I’d say it incites a different feeling in everyone. Submission is a deeply personal experience.”
I was still staring at the cuffs when he redid them and placed them on the counter.
“Ash, aren’t we going to be late to church?”
I started slightly and checked my phone. It was already past nine. I chewed my lip, thinking. “Well, I… we don’t have to go every week..”
Levi raised a brow. “You don’t wanna go now?”
I shook my head slowly.
“Got something better in mind?’
I met his eyes somewhat reluctantly. My pulse was thumping in my throat. “Can we… I want to try this. With you.”
“You want to tie me more?”
“No… I… want to try it on me.”
Levi’s mouth opened, but he seemed lost for words momentarily. He tapped a finger on the counter.
“Let’s talk upstairs, Ash.”
Levi’s apartment was small but laid out well, and seemed to have been heavily renovated just like the shop. He’d apparently ripped out all the carpets, as well as panels of drywall in the hallway where the exposed brick was newly painted, and the floorboards were fresh and new. He brought me up to the kitchen after we’d discarded our jackets on a peg in the hall, and was now sitting at the kitchen table, catty-corner to me with one leg crossed over his knee. His dark jeans were tucked into his boots today.
“So I’m assuming you want this to be nonsexual,” he said.
I nodded, shifting in my my seat. “Is that… okay? You said people do it.”
“Well, I don’t have any issue with doing that for you. There’s a lot of submission someone can explore without elements of sex. The question is what you want to try.”
I folded my hands on the table, feeling the pulse between my fingers. “Okay… So what does submission involve?”
Levi smiled warmly, but there was something sharp in his eyes. It was like something had been… awoken in him. “That depends entirely on those involved,” he said. “Whatever we agree upon will determine how you serve.”
“So… You keep saying ‘serve’. That makes it sound… well… like I’d be a servant. Like, doing chores and junk.”
“That could honestly be a part of it if we chose. Some nonsexual submissives take on the role of maidservants in a way. But above all, what I ask is respect, devotion, and subservience. What I offer is control and release. And whatever we agree to will be in keeping with that.”
“Okay,” I said, at least starting to understand.
“So what exactly did you want me to show you?”
I chewed my lip, thinking. “Well… The um… I guess tying me. I don’t mind the… subservience thing, I think. But… I don’t know. Can you just show me what it’s like? Being… Being a submissive. Just nothing too crazy.”
“I can do that for you.”
“So that’s it?” I asked, surprised. “Well… Okay. Where do we start?”
Levi leaned back in his chair, arms crossed and ankle bobbing on his knee. “Before that, I’d like you to get me something to drink.”
I blinked, then looked around the kitchen. I’d never been asked to get something for someone in their own house. “Okay… um… what do you want?”
“Something fizzy,” said Levi. “Over ice, in a glass.”
“Okay… sure.” kaçak casino Seems easy enough, I thought. Glass, ice, something fizzy. Now I just had to find them.
I took a cursory glance around the kitchen as I got up. It was narrow, but efficient. The glasses would probably be in one of the overhead cabinets. I checked three before I found them in the one closest to the fridge, two sizes in dark glass. I picked the taller one.
The aforementioned fridge was a side-by-side deal like mine at home, with a built in water and ice dispenser. I pushed in the glass for ice, but nothing came out. The ice buttons gave me the same result.
“The ice thing doesn’t work,” Levi said dismissively. “You’ll have to get it from inside the door.”
The bin in the freezer was full, and I fished out a handful of ice. As for the “something fizzy”… I immediately checked the fridge for soda, but I didn’t see any. His fridge was awfully tidy, though. Veg in the crisper, bread with the tie kept on, glass storage containers in stacks… Cartons of milk and orange juice, yogurt cups, butter and eggs… And in the door, a couple tall green bottles. I picked one up and checked the label. San Pellegrino. Not soda… sparkling water, unflavored. Not the kind of thing I pictured Levi drinking, but it was definitely fizzy.
I set the glass down on the table in front of Levi and uncapped the bottle. He kept his eyes on me while I filled his glass, keeping the bubbles in check… I felt strangely small, even standing over him. When I had the bottle put away, he wordlessly picked up his drink and sipped.
“Good,” he said finally. “Would you like something?”
“No, thanks. I’m good.”
“All right. Go ahead and sit down.”
I hadn’t even realized I was still standing. Sheepishly, I sank into my seat.
“Now,” said Levi, “before we get too far, we should talk about your safety.”
I blinked. “Safety? You’re… not going to hurt me, are you?”
“Not intentionally. But there’s always a possibility of harm when you’re subjecting yourself to another person, physically or otherwise. But that’s why we talk – to ensure that everything we do is safe, sane, and consensual. For example, you’re a tennis player. So I assume I should be careful with your arms and legs if I’m binding you.”
My pulse was rising. I hadn’t considered how this could be… dangerous in any way. “I… I don’t know. Yeah, I guess just… don’t make it hard for me to go to practice,” I laughed weakly.
Levi folded his hands on his knee. “That’s easy enough. But otherwise… know that communication is going to be absolutely essential here. If something hurts that’s not supposed to, talk to me. If I’m doing something that’s scaring you or making you uncomfortable, say something. I will listen to you.”
I nodded. “Okay… But how do you know when to stop?”
“That’s why you’ll have a safe word.”
He switched legs, resting right ankle on left knee. “Think of it in terms of pain tolerance… If you’ve reached a threshold you don’t think you can exceed, you’ll use your safe word. At that time, we will immediately stop and I’ll make sure you’re all right.”
I frowned. “Why can’t I just say ‘stop’?”
He smiled indulgently. “Because you may say it out of instinct or without meaning to… And some submissives enjoy the struggle.”
My stomach fluttered.
“Basically, I need to be sure you really need it,” he said. “Your safe word will end anything we’re doing right then and there, no matter how deep you go. You’ll also have a ‘slow down’ word, to let me know you need me to go easy. Are you following so far?”
I was slightly dizzy keeping up with everything. “I think… just seems like a lot for… this kinda thing, y’know?”
“Goes a little beyond whips and chains, huh?”
“Just a little,” I laughed.
“So,” said Levi, “this will be a bit like a stop light system. Some people actually use the words ‘red’ and ‘yellow’ – I prefer it to feel more natural. Your ‘yellow’ word is mercy.”
“Mercy,” I repeated softly.
“Yes. Your safe word – your ‘red’ word – I’d like you to choose.”
“I like for it to be personal to you. Something that you’ll reach out to when you need it.”
“Okay…” I put my elbows up on the table, thinking. Safe word… like a password? “What kind of word should I use?”
“Something that you’ll remember,” Levi smiled. “A word you like… A favorite color, birthstone, maybe a flower.”
I didn’t even know what my birthstone was. My favorite color was green… That would probably just make the “stop light” thing confusing. A flower? I couldn’t remember ever having a favorite… I thought of early springtime… Of tiny, persistent little flowers announcing themselves from the hard earth, in purples and yellows and blues…
“Bluebell,” I said.
Levi’s brow raised. “Bluebell?”
My ears burned, but I nodded. “Well… yeah. I like them. They’re nice.”
His eyes warmed with his smile. “All right. We’ll make your safe word bluebell.”
There was a pause in which Levi took another long drink. I kept fidgeting with my hands, feeling strangely vulnerable… But not, even more strangely, afraid.
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