My first attempt at making a belt, thanks to a leatherworking class. It’s not done yet, but so far, I’ve cut this, dyed it, molded it, glued it, buffed it, then stitched it. Leatherwork is freaking hard. Next week we start on a bag. Meep.

~

I’ve always had a thing for leather. Maybe it was growing up on a farm, spending so much time with the smell of tack–bridles, saddles, whips, crops, boots, saddle soap. Or maybe it’s something you’re born with, an innate attraction to the way something feels or smells or looks.

I’ve written a lot of stories about leather. Probably the one that’s been best received is “Until It’s Gone,” a story of loss, regret, and sexual discovery (You can find it in the Seal Press collection, “Dirty Girls,” or as part of my BDSM collection, “How to Spank Me.“).

Smart readers will say that some of every story an author writes has something of themselves in it. And this is a true thing. Every piece I tell has something of me. Sometimes it’s a very small thing. Other times, like with “Until It’s Gone,” it’s a bigger thing. An emotional truth that I wanted to capture, a way to articulate the choices we make as we grow older, the things we gain even as we leave other things behind.

I don’t have a lot of regrets in my life. Every thing I’ve done or not done, every mistake I’ve made, every risk I’ve taken has led me to who I am today. And I like that person. She’s not perfect. She’s often scared. She’s occasionally confused. But she’s never purposefully mean or ignorant. She gets rejected–on paper, in real life, in things that matter and things that don’t–and she goes on anyway. Stronger, even.

This weekend, I was reminded to take more risks. To say yes. To move beyond passively inviting good things into my life and actively seeking them out instead. It’s scary. There might be regrets. There will also be tremendous, delicious moments that I can hold in my hands, my mouth, my heart, and say, “I did that. That is part of me. Until my end of time.”

Kiss kiss bang bang, s.

An excerpt from “UNTIL IT’S GONE”

It’s a cliché, Maria knows, but still, she still thinks it, even as Aaron wraps the leather belt around her neck. You don’t know what you’ve got, she thinks, and then stops, tells herself to focus on the pull of the leather as it closes in on her skin. She wants to really feel the rough insides of the leather against her veins. The belt is new, as she’d requested. Not expensive. The leather of it doesn’t circle her neck in a smooth circle, but in folds, like an octagon. The places where it folds pinches her skin a little, and she focuses there, on the mean throbs in her neck.

She’s doggy style, so she can’t see Aaron. If she inhales, there would be the tanned cow-dirt smell she needs, but also Aaron, who smells, for some reason, of hyacinths and rain. Not like David, who smelled like leather himself. So she doesn’t inhale. Instead, she goes down on her elbows on the bed, lets the leather press into the front of her neck on the way down.

Her movement startles Aaron, who pulls up, probably accidentally, on the belt. There is a second of startled blackness in her brain. It’s a blackness her clit recognizes, speaks to, with steady pulses.

“Ahh,” she hears herself says. It’s the involuntary sigh of something lost, and nearly found. A gold ring glinting from the bottom of the ocean. If she leans forward into the glint, she might…

“Is this okay?” Aaron says, and he might as well have let go of the belt for as fast as it brings her back. She opens her eyes, and although the only thing she can see is the dark headboard in front of her, the pillows that probably need to be washed, she can see it all: she is just a woman of 35, ass-up on in the bed with a cheap belt around her neck, trying to recapture her youth. Talk about a cliché.

Aaron lets go of the belt so it goes slack. Anything that had begun to beat in her body shuts down. She pulls the leather off her neck in a single, slick movement. The edge of the buckle catches her shoulder, makes a small mark that she hopes she’ll feel later.

She turns and faces him. He sits in the modified lotus position, although she is sure he doesn’t know it. His hands are spread on his thighs. Between it all, his short, fat cock sits, half-raised, like a groundhog checking the weather.

“Let’s just do it the regular way,” she says.

With her words, the glint she saw before, the simmer of hope, disappears beneath sand. Aaron is happy to oblige—she knows he only does the belt thing for her, anyway—and he pushes her gently back on the bed, leans into her thighs with his mouth. She touches his short blonde hair while he works, does the breathing her therapist recommended, tries to get lost in the way his tongue feels, there and there, small circles. She can almost fall into the sensation, mentally urging him closer to her clit, making small encouraging noises when he gets close. But when he looks up at her, his face covered with juices, his eyes asking her if he’s doing it right, she loses focus, has to close her eyes against the question.

As he moves up, over her body, positioning himself to enter her, she reminds herself that he is a good husband, a careful lover, and she should be grateful to have him. Hell, she is grateful. She really is. They have a good life, and she is grateful for that too. Dukkah, is what her therapist calls it, this yearning for something she can’t have. Even that is backwards, she’s yearning for something she once had. Something from the past. Is that Hakkud? She doesn’t know, and the fact that she’s asking, even as Aaron parts her, begins his slow slide into her, makes her stomach ache.

She tries to focus on her body, the fullness she feels as Aaron enters her, hip to hip. But all she can think of is David, David and leather.

~

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