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Castle of the Heart:

A 2% Erotic Romance

Part I: The Past is Never Over

By Sapphire Jones

Copyright © 2017 Jones Media, All Rights Reserved

Published by Sapphire Jones at Smashwords

Smashwords Edition License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your enjoyment only, then please return to or your favorite retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Copyright Notice

Castle of the Heart:

A 2% Erotic Romance

Part I: The Past is Never Over

By Sapphire Jones

Copyright © 2017 Jones Media, All Rights Reserved

First Edition: December 2017

ISBN: 9780463751725

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, extant or contemplated, without written permission from the author. This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to real people, alive or dead, is purely coincidental.

Sapphjo B1 SMASH V1, 2 Sep 2018, ca. 5750 wds.

Cover Credit:

Tags: ex-lover adultery; affair with ex-lover; bdsm affair; rich lover affair; cheating wife story; secret lover romance; long erotic affair

1/52 = 0.01923 = 2%

Love Someone Eight Days a Week?

That’s a Relationship Operating at 114%+

Love Someone a Week a Year?

That’s a 2% Erotic Romance


  • Readers offended by the explicit description of sexual acts, as well as all those under the age of eighteen—or the “adult content” age threshold under the laws of their own countries or jurisdictions—should not continue reading.

  • This story is an explicit and sexually graphic depiction of power exchange relationships between characters who are all consenting adults.

  • This is not a representation of non-consensual sexual practices, which the author does not in any way endorse or condone.

  • This is a work of fiction: Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Author’s Note

This book is the first in a three-vignette set.

If you like it, and want to read more, the complete story is available in eBook format from a variety of fine online retailers—and in paperback from that-place-named-after-a-river.


No . . .

Try again.

You’ll get it; I know you will!

Table of Contents

Castle of the Heart:

A 2% Erotic Romance

Part I: The Past is Never Over

Prolog: Are You Sure?

Costs Covered

Year One


Going Up?

Same Time Next Year?

Get in Touch!

About the Author

Prolog: Are You Sure?

I gave a soft, short laugh, then heard myself emit a quick hum of assent, broken in the middle by a cartoonish-sounding gulp of trepidation, a little hiccup of anticipation, of passion, of fear.

Words?” Dov coaxed gently, his voice sleepy-sounding, the fingers of one hand tented lightly on my taut and sweat-sheened abdomen.

“I’m sure,” I warbled.

I . . . was, having had—after all—a full year to consider the question.

Or would “obsess over” be the more accurate description?

He liked that: a year to consider things.

It was an odd, it was a beautiful, it was a useful, tic—albeit one that, over a period of years now, I had often come to find more than a little frustrating.

It was, as well, an odd kind of tenth anniversary.

No doubt.

For a full decade, we had been meeting once a year, spending the week bracketing the spring equinox together, seeing, communicating with, each other not at all outside that strictly circumscribed context—a fantastically complex and meticulously designed setting that he had created solely for this purpose.

I’d believed him—ten years ago—when he’d said that for the first time, when he’d told me what he had done, told me how he had done it, told me why.

There is not the most remote possibility that I would be believed, if I tried to explain the circumstances—if I tried to explain this ritual—to anyone else; the reality that he forged for us lacks even the slightest shred of credibility.

And yet . . . here we are.

And here I am . . . trying to explain.

A warm drowsy calm enveloped me, a peaceful certainty; I smiled up at Dov.

“Please,” I said, the words quiet and sure in my own ears, “I want you to brand me.”

He smiled, gave a soft sigh of satisfaction, leaned down, nuzzled, then kissed me, on that exquisitely sensitive spot, just beneath my ear, the nexus of jawline and neck.

“As you wish, my love,” he breathed. “And— Thank you.”

Costs Covered

“All of it?”

My husband’s skeptical tone shaded into a disdainful rejection of the premise; I hated when he did that.

“Yes,” I said, not bothering to tether my irritation. “All of it. The Institute is paying for everything: travel expenses, conference fees, food and lodging for the week. Out of pocket cost? Zero. And they’re covering everything up front; I won’t even have to file for reimbursement.”

He should have been impressed—and happy for me!

The Istituto Italiano per gli Studi Filosofici had invited me to give a paper at an upcoming, week-long, conference—Weberian Hermeneutics in the 21st Century; smack dab in my wheelhouse!—to be held in an island castle on Lago di Iseo, in the Italian Alps.

Why was he giving me grief about this?

Well . . . why did he do anything?

And why did I put up with it?

Easier to answer the second part: Lila.

It wasn’t that I couldn’t see raising her as a single parent—even then, ten years ago, when she was all of five-years-old, I remained convinced that a mediocre father was better than no father at all. Less that I extended that standard and applied it to Charlie as a husband, more, in that area, that I didn’t really see much in the way of alternatives.

Perhaps a low bar—perhaps I was simply being lazy.

But it was just easier to remain married.

“Alright, Bethann,” he’d said, tone grudging, “so I’m supposed to—”


She’s your fucking daughter!

“You’ll be on spring break; Lila won’t. Get her up, fed, and dressed: send her to school. In the afternoons: pick her up, bring her home, feed her, bathe her, put her to bed. Voila!” I said, raising my hands as if praising the Divine, and then, not entirely under my breath, “Parenting 101,” which Charlie pretended not to hear.

Good call on his part.

“Suspicion” isn’t quite the right word—and, of course, we pretzel-up hindsight in whatever way we find convenient—but, between the invitation and my arrival at the castle, some six months later, I did feel a rising tingle that I couldn’t quite explain to myself.

This was to be the “launch” of the conference, and it seemed clear the intention was for it to be an annual event thereafter.

Certainly, the phrase “too perfect” chimed in my head with increasing regularity: as I worked on the paper I would be delivering; as I made travel arrangements; as I bought a few last-minute articles of clothing to pack.

About which . . .

Charlie had the obligatory male fetish for sexy lingerie.

In a fairly straightforward—if clearly passive-aggressive—way, the longer we remained married, the more staid that had made my choices, regarding undergarments in particular.

Granted, there’s no end to what men can fetishize: Hello Kitty panties; utilitarian, plain, white, cotton panties; comically hi-cut Granny Panties!

I dressed . . . appropriately for conferences, as a matter of surface appearance: Academic Chic, which blended seamlessly with other people’s fashion choices.

Beneath the surface, my state of dress—or undress—would have made Charlie spray his shorts. Nothing earthshaking, really—lacy or frilly or translucent bras; crotchless panties; pantyless in garterless stockings—but everything I did made me feel both sexy and powerful.

Standing before a roomful of colleagues, delivering a paper, feeling the light swish of my skirt against my bare ass, there was something both soothing and energizing about being able to think:

“You have No. Idea. Who I really am! None of you.”

As an adjunct to that practice, I sometimes bought a sex toy or three as my faithful conference companions and I’ve always wondered whether or not I’ve made the day—or changed the lives!—of one or more of the dozen plus airport cleaners who, at least potentially, might have harvested these items, toys and lingerie both, after I disposed of them on my way home, neatly sealed in plastic to keep them from being contaminated by the other detritus, but still redolent of my body.

I’ve never actually fucked anyone at a conference—not since I got married, at any rate.

I’ve . . . almost.

I’ve done, perhaps, more than my fair share of . . . almost.


That tingle, as I made my last-minute preparations for the first time I attended that particular conference? Not my imagination.

I recall it with especial clarity, because I did something different. It was the first time I decided simply to eschew panties for the duration of a trip, bringing with me only a single pair: For the journey home—for my reunion with Charlie.

A premonition?

I don’t know.

And when I say it felt like the conference had been tailor-made for me?

Well—as I would discover: It had been.

Year One

It had been a long day—although, oddly, more smooth than I had expected, given what air travel has become, Post-9/11.

Wheels up in New York at 6:00 p.m.; touch down in Milan at 8:00 a.m., local time; a three-hour limo ride to Sulzano; a ten-minute skip across to the island, on a private power launch; a final fifteen minutes, in another limo—this one smaller, slimmer, and more lithe, better able to navigate the winding cobblestone streets—and I was at the castle and quickly ensconced in my room.

I had gone First Class all the way.

Although that’s not what I’d booked or paid for.

Fourteen hours or so, door-to-door: I was on the receiving end of more than my share of dismissive, bored, or irritable Italian shrugs.

They were bumping me to First Class on the flight.



I was the only one in the limo to Sulzano.



And so on . . .

I didn’t work too-too hard to question my “luck.”

Why would I?

Gorgeous corner room—really more a suite—on the top floor?

Didn’t question that either.

One in the afternoon to the locals; seven in the morning to me—after more sleep than I would have got in coach or in an airport van, but still not enough; I surveyed the room superficially, then took a quick shower.

One of the closets appeared to be locked; I’d have to ask someone about that.

The bathroom more closely resembled a luxury waterpark; I’d have to thank someone for that.

Toweling off and falling into bed, I was asleep almost before my cheek brushed the—brilliantly white, high thread-count, Egyptian cotton—pillowcase.

I awoke to the archaic, jangling sound of an old-fashioned telephone, the digital clock on the night table flashing 5:00 p.m., and immediately exhausted virtually all of my telephonic Italian by saying, Pronto?

Dottoressa,” a crisp voice announced, “the Direttore would like to meet with you. Are you available at this time?”

I was still pretty travel and sleep fogged.

“Where?” I asked.

“He will come to you.”

That was a little odd.

“Might I have ten minutes to—”

“But, of course!” and he clicked off the line.

I washed my face; I rinsed out my mouth; I brushed my teeth.

I put on a black, knee-length, rough-weave, cotton skirt, with a little fringe at the hem, and a white camisole that was sufficiently opaque—with nothing beneath either.

I briefly considering remaining barefoot, but then I slipped into a pair of casual sandals—il Direttore, after all!

There was a soft knock at the door.

Taking a deep breath, I strode across the room and opened it.

It wasn’t possible!

It just—



Dov! How did—?”

“Hey Bethann,” he said softly—that slightly cynical, mischief-tinged, smile; that disturbingly mellow and seductive voice; fuck! “How ya been? Perhaps I could come in, and we can maybe talk a little?”

I blinked and gurgled my assent, numb with shock; he gestured me to the small couch, by the window that overlooked the harbor, and waited for me to sit.

I was dizzy.

This could not be happening.

He was supposed to be running his father’s—

Whatever it was!

He was supposed to, supposed to, supposed to

He wasn’t supposed to be . . . here.

If I sat down, panty-free, I was going to wet my—unlined!—skirt.

I sat down.

Dov followed suit.

Closing his eyes for a moment, he took in, then released, a long, deep, breath; I had not the slightest doubt that he could smell me.

Like a fox scenting a rabbit.

This time, I thought to myself feverishly—thought at him, with fervent, near hysterical, intensity—I’ll let you catch me.

I will!

“Wondering why I brought you here?” he asked, waggling his eyebrows, delivering his film noir line with relish.

I was going to ruin the fucking skirt!

I was going to damage the damned couch!

I was going to simply die of embarrassment.

My strong preference would have been for us to just fuck each other to death.

There had been more than one period—in college and after—during which we had attempted that on a regular basis . . .

And we had come perilously close to success.


“You have to try the prosciutto,” he urged. “It is to-die-for. Plus,” he added, with a grin, “it’s from kosher pigs. So, y’know, no worries there.”

When he’d suggested food, I had been thrown into a minor panic: there was the matter of my skirt . . . and then there was the matter of the other conference attendees, many of them colleagues; I couldn’t let them see me interacting with Dov.

A neon sign would have conveyed the situation with more subtlety.

And whatever I was going to do—about Dov, about Charlie, about my life—I was not going to set off a nuclear chain-reaction carelessly or frivolously.

He’d been a step ahead of me.

A quick, fluent, musical, stream of Italian into his cell phone and a small army descended on us: a door to the adjacent suite popped open and four uniformed staff members trooped in with two tables, setting up one for us and the other as a sideboard to hold the food—which then rained down like manna from heaven; a small, round table appeared and was immediately provisioned with a range of beverages.

I barely had time to process what was going on and the army had withdrawn.

“Get you the full menu if you’d like,” Dov had offered, “but I thought—long day; grueling trip—maybe you’d prefer something lighter: drinks and antipasti.

I’d nodded, murmuring, “Perfect,” which . . . it was.

We had been grazing and sipping for almost an hour; I was finding it difficult not to gulp, but, to the degree that it was possible, I wanted to keep my wits about me.

I tried the prosciutto, making the requisite expression of ecstasy—which was not at all difficult. Dov grinned and nodded.

The bare bones of what he explained to me were clear enough; getting my mind around what he had done, however, was proving difficult—as though I’d bitten off too big a piece of steak and was having trouble swallowing.

I’d never met his father, who—Dov had made abundantly clear—he had neither liked nor respected, “love” being a word that never even came up in that context.

I’d known his father was rich, but that word was really more of an empty placeholder than it was a meaningful descriptive: lots of different tiers and gradations of “rich.”

Apparently, he had died two years earlier.

With Dov’s mother either dead or simply someplace out in the ether—having abandoned the family when he was seven—and (now ex) wives two through four “locked into absolutely bulletproof pre-nups . . . You are now looking at the CEO of, and principal stockholder in, the world’s fourteenth largest software company!” he finished up.

“So, you . . . bought yourself a fucking castle?”

It wasn’t that I wanted to be flip or accusatory. I just . . .

Too much; too fast; too weird.

It was . . . both daunting and disturbing.

Dov looked momentarily embarrassed, then just shrugged.

“Company already owned it. Corporate retreats, that sort of shit. Rent it out for events, now and again—keep the staff sharp, pay the taxes, maybe. Not really a ‘room at the inn’ sort of place.”



Then . . . the darker question:

“And the Istituto Italiano—”

Reaching across the table, fingers light on my forearm—he must have been able to feel the goosebumps that popped up instantly, those fine, sparse hairs leaping to rigid attention—he stopped me.

“I’ve never lied to you,” he intoned, voice soft but serious. “Isn’t that right?”

He knew exactly what I was thinking—as he always had.

I nodded hesitantly in response.

“The Istituto was looking to increase their reach, make more of an international impact, bring in higher caliber scholars.” I nodded again, anxiety rising. “I did push them to focus on Weberian Hermeneutics—I have,” he cleared his throat, “kept track of your career. So, let’s just say I did a great deal by way of,” he waved his free hand in the air for a moment, “incentivizing them—gave them an incredible rate on a fantastic venue. But! I mentioned nothing about you. I intervened there in no way whatsoever. You’re here for the same reason everyone else is here: you applied, you were peer-reviewed, you were accepted.”

Did I believe that?

Could I?

And if I didn’t . . .

Dov had never lied to me.

That was true—although I hadn’t always been fully honest with him—or, perhaps more accurately, with myself, when it came to the two of us.

But he also—I knew—had never been much of a gambler.

He wouldn’t have built a Potemkin Village just to suck me in; he would have calculated the risk of discovery and failure to be too high.

That he had instead built—maybe better to say midwifed?—an academic conference, ironically: that was easier to believe.

“Okay?” I said, my own voice sounding oddly tentative to me. “. . . Thank you?”

He made no reply; the tips of his fingers remained on my forearm; our eyes remained locked on each other; my heart hammered painfully in my chest.

There was some odd reassurance in the fact that when, after a seemingly endless pause, he spoke again, his voice was a little creaky with emotion, utterly undermining the breezy, set-piece phrase: “After-dinner drinks on the roof?”

I nodded my assent.

We ascended together.

Going Up?

We ascended in an elevator barely big enough for the two of us, which had been concealed behind what I had taken to be a locked closet door.

Dov gave me a key.

Or, more precisely, he gave me a ring—I wear it still—slipping it onto the ring finger on my right hand.

“RFID chip,” he said, with a smile, placing my palm flat on the center of the door, his hand, warm and dry, over mine.

There was a hum and a click! and the door opened.

We stepped in and, once the door closed, the elevator went into smooth, silent motion.

“Only two stops,” Dov said quietly. “You and me.”

The door opened on the living room of a duplex penthouse—clearly his—which we breezed through, Dov hooking a bottle of Sambuca, and two glasses, off the coffee table, as he led me to the spiral staircase in the middle of the room and up two flights, onto the roof.

I found myself in an expansive, square, stone, landscape, atop one of the castle’s four towers, crenelated battlements all around, through which I could see the lake below and off into the distance and—getting closer to the edge and peering out and down—the bucolic little village that took up most of the island.

Dov poured us generous slugs of Sambuca, raised his glass in my direction and took a long swallow.

I followed suit and immediately began to cough:

Licorice-inflected jet fuel!

“That’s— Wow! Little bit of a kick, huh?”

“Yeah,” he nodded, smiling. “Helluva view, though. I’ve been haggling with my board of directors,” he added, face going serious. “Really feel we ought to have at least a little bit of artillery up here, just—y’know—just in case the villagers go rogue, decide to pursue a little class warfare.”

I punched him on the arm.

Side by side, the two of us looking out over the water quietly for a moment, he put his arm around me; I reflexively let my head tilt sideways, drop to his shoulder.

And then we were kissing each other.

We’d turned simultaneously?

I had grabbed a fistful of hair and wrenched his face toward mine?

His hands had fallen to my hips, gently turned me, then fluttered at my waist, like indecisive humming birds, hungry for nectar but wary of boundaries?

I don’t—

I don’t know.

I can’t remember.

I don’t care.

We were kissing each other.

We had always been kissing each other.

Through a thousand tomorrows we were never going to stop kissing each other.

Throngs of mad villagers, waving pitchforks, could burn the castle to the ground—the board having denied Dov’s request for artillery—and the last image they would see would be the two of us through the flames, the two of us aflame, still kissing each other.

I wasn’t just wet; I was sodden; I could feel twin trickles, like trails of viscous tears, wending their way down my inner thighs; my clit burned, throbbing in rhythm with my heartbeat: hungry, demanding, angry.

With the fist not twined tightly in his hair, I pounded on his collarbone, swearing at him through the jumbled chaos of our lips and our tongues, then, opening the smallest of spaces between us, reached down and began to fumble with the waistband of his jeans.

We were going to discuss nothing!

We were going to work out nothing!

We were going to ponder nothing!

He was going to bend me over the parapet, flip my skirt up onto my back and with just joyous violence ram into any and every

There was a fast flash!

There was a brief moment of lost continuity—

And then—

I awoke.

In his bed.

In his arms.

Clothing rumpled—

But intact.

I was still blinking in confusion when I looked up and saw him staring calmly at my face.

“I— No! Wait! Did we—?”

He shook his head and gently ran the back of his hand down my cheek.

“No,” he said softly. “And we’re not going to. Not this year.”

I sobbed in disbelief.

What!? No, that’s not— That can’t— We have to— You bastard! You lousy, fucking— How could you do— Why would— No!”

He palmed the back of my head and brought my face down into the hollow of his throat; his other arm curling around my shoulder, he let his hand drop down to rest on my hip; pressed against me, through his jeans, I could feel that he was hard.

He shifted slightly, trying subtly to break that point of contact.

I wouldn’t let him.


The Truth.

Or . . . some of it, anyway.

Before, through, and after college, we had come together and come apart, like feuding band members never quite able to “make it through the tour,” but unable to hit the same high notes with anybody else.

And—not always, but often—when we weren’t together, I had . . . teased him; not really anything else you could call it.

I had figured out how to “Not Quite” him with exquisite precision and excruciating intensity—after which I would go home and masturbate myself to explosive orgasms, feverishly imagining him to be doing the same, or—even better!—imagining that I had thrust him into an all but unbearable agony of blue-balled pining and unspeakable frustration.

I’m really not sure why I . . .

Well . . . I’m really just not sure.

“Is this your revenge?” I murmured into his shoulder.

He pulled back briefly, so we could look at each other, and he laughed.

“Am I trying to get even with you? Is that—?” He gave me a cockeyed grin, then his face went serious. “There’s no way—” He stopped again. Then he sighed, leaned toward me, kissed me tenderly on the forehead, then coaxed my cheek back down onto his shoulder once more. “No,” he said quietly. “This is not my revenge.”

I was somewhat reassured by that but—even though he’d never lied to me—I wasn’t sure that I believed him.

It was confusing.

My entire body felt swollen, felt bloated, with frustrated desire.

And yet—as I always had, in his arms—I felt not “merely” loved, I felt cherished.


Same Time Next Year?

I spent the week of that first conference emotionally off balance and feeling like I had multiple personalities.

Perhaps I did.

Perhaps I still do.

More than one colleague asked me if I was coming down with something; several said nothing, but looked at me askance, as if suspecting there was something I was concealing.

I was.

Of course!

But—hand it to Dov!—concealment was seamlessly “baked in” to the very fabric of the conference, or, at any rate, the structure of the castle.

I saw him not at all during any activity that was conference-related, meals included.

No one ever saw us together.

No one ever saw him enter my room.

No one saw me do anything other than enter my room at an appropriate evening hour and emerge from the same room the next morning in time to head down for breakfast.

I had my magic ring.

I had my own elevator.

There were only two stops: Him and me.

There was also the internal door to the adjoining suite—which Dov had kept empty.

“If I want to . . . provision you in some way,” he’d said—as he had on that first, surreal, evening, “I’d like to be able to do that discretely.”

We were discrete.

I spent every night, and not a few afternoons, in his bed, in his arms, in—as I came to think of it—his care.

And while he . . . touched me—and I touched him—this was done in a manner that, if not exactly chaste, put me in mind of one of Lila’s camp counselors lecturing about how any contact on her “bathing suit areas” should be immediately reported.

It was torture.

It was agonizing.

It was . . . beautiful.

We listened to a lot of music.

When he met my stringent requirements—a lot of Sambuca; not much in the way of light—we danced: sometimes in the living room of the penthouse, sometimes on the roof of his castle tower, beneath the stars, in the cool night air.

We were “good at,” or perhaps “good with,” silence, as well; not my husband Charlie’s forte; he’s always had this nervous need to fill silences; Dov and I were content, often enough, to simply inhabit them; we didn’t find them in any way threatening.

Chuck-Chuck always was a talker,” Dov said one night: We’d all known each other when we were in college.

I didn’t have to shush or reprimand him; a quick glance and he immediately understood:


“I was so sorry about Alice,” I whispered one evening—the reciprocal crime—the two of us together, sandwiched between blankets, on the tower roof, in the gloaming, him spooned behind me.

Less that I felt his body grow rigid or pull away, more that I sensed him working to not allow those things to happen.

“People die,” he said quietly, after a long pause—no need for him to overtly chastise me about my transgression either.

People die.


Rare, in advanced countries, in the 21st century, however, for a woman to do so in her late twenties, as the result of a miscarriage.

Increasingly, I understood perfectly well why he wanted to “wait until next year.”

But it upset me; it niggled.

What he kept saying: he wanted me to be sure.


“Because you don’t have any doubts?”

I didn’t think he was considering his response; it felt more like he took a strategic pause.

“Because I know what I want,” he said, finally. “And I know what I will—and what I will not—do.”

On the one hand: I knew that pressing wouldn’t get me any answers I was going to be happy to hear.

On the other hand: I . . . wanted.

I wanted him.

I had always wanted him.

And we had just never really been able to “get it right.”


There’s my end and then there’s his end . . .

“You don’t trust me,” I said, a little glum—trying not to sound sullen.

Lacing his fingers at the back of my neck, he drew us together, began to kiss me, to nip at my lips, to suck on my tongue, to caress my cheeks with his thumbs, to press his body against mine.

“I want you,” he said breathily. “I need you,” he said, when he next came up for air. And then, queering the Meatloaf song lyrics, “I love you. I’ve always loved you.”

But—Silly-Selfish-Foolish-Girl!—I couldn’t leave it alone.

“But you don’t trust me.”

I tried not to whine.

I really did.

He gave a little sigh and an understated grunt of frustration, kept his fingers at the nape of my neck, but brought our foreheads into gentle contact, disengaging our lips.

“No,” he breathed, with obvious regret. “I don’t trust you. That hasn’t tended to . . . work out well in the past.”

To which I could say . . . what exactly?

Don’t worry!

This time we’ll get it right!

I’ll leave my husband.

I’ll ditch my daughter.

I’ll forget about my academic career!

I will have no interest or concern or priority above Us.

This time—really, really, really—we will ride off into the Wild Blue Yonder.

Always and forever.


I had a fast, nauseating, flash of the end of The Graduate: Dustin Hoffman and Katherine Ross, winded and victorious, in the very-back of the bus.

He’s rescued her!

And they are together!

And . . .

Now what?

“Hey?” Dov said, thumbs now brushing away tears I hadn’t allowed myself to realize I was leaking, “I know what we can make work. We can make this work. We can carve out a week. Every year. Every. Year.” He stopped for a long moment, and it looked like he was trying not to cry—which ignited a little flare of pain and guilt in my chest. “But,” he said, regaining his forward momentum, “But. If we do this? If we really do this? You need to—” He closed his eyes, took a breath, opened them again. “You need to commit. You need to make me trust you. Because—” Now there was no pretense and no ducking; he was crying. “Because I can’t,” his voice faded to a hoarse whisper, “if this doesn’t— I can’t . . . not again. I just . . . I can’t. I won’t.”

I felt just . . . gutted.

I felt like he had accused me and convicted me and dumped on me.

I felt like he had completely—

“You take the year,” he said, clearing his throat, retreating a little, back into that protective shell I hadn’t thought about—that I hadn’t remembered—for some time. “Take the year. Decide what you can, what you will—and what you can’t . . . do. Decide.

I bit down on, I swallowed, my own upset.

I gently flicked away his tears.

I nodded, forehead to forehead.

“Alright,” I said, my voice ringing a little hollow in my own ears. “I will.”


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About the Author

Born in Marin County and raised in Sausalito, by a single father, Sapphire Jones is open to the possibility that she has Daddy Issues.

“I don’t think anything we feel is wrong,” she shrugs. “And, when it comes to sex—and the intimate details of how we really live our lives—as long as what’s going on is between consenting adults, I don’t accept that anyone else gets to define morality.”

She is similarly unapologetic about her, erotically-inflected, romance writing.

Is it kink?

“‘Kinky’ is weird-shit-other-people-do. Whatever you do? That’s just sex. But sex is always about power,” she argues. “We can— Some people try to deflect or deny that, but . . . it’s just a fact. And—look—people who don’t like the way I write, or what I write about? Plenty out there to read . . . hope they find something more to their taste.”

A graduate of San Francisco’s Karpinsky Academy of Modern Ballet, Jones subsequently studied under Toni Bentley, in New York, eventually returning to the Bay Area to work as a freelance tech writer.

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