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But the truth is, Selina, you'll never really become a true mistress until you learn what it means to submit."
Marcus grinned at me over the rim of his wine glass. We'd had this conversation many times before, but never in such plush surroundings as the restaurant at Fenton Park racecourse. A black-uniformed waitress appeared discreetly at the table to take away the plates that had contained our desserts, slices of a delicious chocolate mousse cake.
"Would you like any tea or coffee?" she asked.
Marcus shook his head. "Not here. We'll have it in our box, if you don't mind."
"Not at all, sir." The waitress appeared slightly flushed as she took a sly look at Marcus from under her lowered eyelashes. His silver-haired good looks and deep, commanding voice had that effect on most of the women he met. It always amused me to see how they lusted after him silently, hoping he'd favour them with a smile or a compliment.
I drained the last of my chardonnay, patted my lips with the napkin and rose from my seat. The waitress' arrival had distracted us from our earlier conversation, but now, as we walked from the restaurant-with its panoramic view out over the racecourse-to the private box Marcus had rented for the afternoon, I picked up on his comment.
"So what makes you think I'm not a true mistress?" My tone was teasing, but beneath it I bridled at the assumption. Once and for all, I was determined to get to the bottom of Marcus' reasoning. "None of my boys have ever complained."
"Because that's all they ever are, Selinaâ€”boys. How old was the last one?"
"Chris?" Now it was my turn to blush. "Twenty-one." Memories flooded back. Chris, kneeling at my feet, naked but for the wide black leather collar around his neck. I recalled the smooth young planes of his bare back and arse, the hardness of his proudly erect cock, the adoration in his eyes as he'd gazed up at me. Adoration that hadn't been strong enough to keep us together beyond the first giddy rush of excitement and exploration.
"So, an age difference of what, twelve years? And you sometimes wonder why you can't find a lasting relationship?"
"That's a bit rich, coming from someone who's been on his own for the best part of a year now."
"Hey, not fair. You know Lydia had to go back to Greece, otherwise we'd still be together."
Instantly, I regretted my jibe. I'd liked Lydia, Marcus' last live-in girlfriend and lifestyle submissive. She'd been intelligent and feisty, with long, dark curls that fell halfway down her back and chocolate-brown eyes that had captivated Marcus from the moment they'd met. Whenever I'd seen them together, either at his home or out in one of the fetish clubs, the chemistry between them had been obvious. When she'd told Marcus she had to return to Athens to look after her frail, elderly mother, their break-up had hit him harder than he cared to admit, even to me. At times like this, it was easy to believe he still wasn't entirely over her.
"I'm sorry. But I still don't see why I need lessons in submission."
We were passing the parade ring, where the horses that were about to take part in the two-ten race were making one last circuit before being led out to the all-weather racetrack. Marcus paused to watch his own horse, Montecristo-the reason we were here today. His chest swelled with obvious pride as the big, sleek bay trotted past, the jockey riding him wearing silks in Marcus' trademark colours of black and gold. Even I-who knew next to nothing about horses-couldn't help admiring the magnificent beast, fighting my urge to reach out a hand and pat Montecristo's flanks as he passed us.
"You know that old saying about not judging a man till you've walked a mile in his shoes?" Marcus asked. "Well, I really think that applies here. How long have we known each other now, Selina?"