The Submissive (The Submissive Trilogy #1)(10) by Tara Sue Me

She nodded. “He knows I’m taking you to lunch. He doesn’t know I know.”

I really didn’t want to keep secrets from Nathaniel. I sighed. Why did this have to be so complicated?

“Todd knows?” I asked instead.

“Yes. Linda doesn’t, though, but I’m not sure about Jackson.” She took a sip of tea. “Todd and I wouldn’t have known if Melanie hadn’t shown up at our house four months ago, crying her eyes out.”

Pearl Girl cried her eyes out to Elaina and Todd? Okay, this was too juicy not to hear.

“Melanie, his last submissive?” I asked.

She leaned across the table again. “Melanie was never his submissive.”

The waitress interrupted us. It took me three tries to get my order out. Melanie wasn’t his submissive? What the hell was she?

“I don’t guess you could call her a submissive,” Elaina continued once the waitress left. “I don’t know the proper terms for all this stuff. He never gave her a collar. Pissed her off something horrible.”

That didn’t make sense. “But Jackson called her Pearl Girl because she always wore pearls.”

“That was just Melanie. Maybe she was pretending to have a collar, I don’t know.” Elaina shook her head. “Not long after Nathaniel broke it off with her, she came to our apartment. She’s known Todd since grade school.”

I took a long sip of tea. This was too much information to process.

“Melanie grew up with them,” Elaina said. “She’s always had a crush on Nathaniel. He tried his best to ignore her, but she was persistent. She finally got him, but only for six months or so.”

I sat back and tried to decide if it was good or bad that he never collared her. What did that say about me?

“Did Nathaniel kiss her?” I asked.

“Kiss her? Yeah, sure he did.”

Damn. It was just me then. He didn’t want to kiss me.

“I thought back, after she left,” Elaina said, oblivious to my disappointment. “To the other girls. I remember Paige and Beth. They both wore collars, plain ones, though.” She waved at mine. “Nothing like yours. I’m sure there have been others. He just never introduced us.”

“Why are you telling me all this?”

“Because you deserve to know what you’ve done for him and he won’t tell you.”

I was totally confused.

“He gives you this great collar, almost immediately after you meet,” Elaina said. “He talks about you. He has a spring in his step I haven’t seen in forever and…I don’t know. He’s just changed.” She raised an eyebrow. “I hear you make mean French toast.”

He talked about me? Mentioned my cooking?

The waitress set our salads down.

“Abby,” Elaina said. “Listen to me. You have to handle Nathaniel carefully. His parents died in a car accident when he was ten.”

I nodded. I’d heard this before.

“He was in the car with them,” she said. “It was mangled up so badly, it took hours to cut them out.” Her voice dropped to a whisper. “I don’t think they died immediately. I don’t know. He won’t talk about it. Never has. But he changed after the accident. He was always so happy before they died, and so withdrawn and sad afterward.” She looked at me with hopeful eyes. “And now you’re changing him back. You’re bringing Nathaniel back.”

After that little bombshell, we talked about other things—Elaina’s work, my tutoring, Felicia and Jackson. The time passed quickly, and all too soon I had to leave to go back to work.

I climbed into a cab, thinking about what Elaina had said, that I was changing Nathaniel, bringing him back.

I wanted to believe her, but I couldn’t.

So he’d collared me quickly. That didn’t mean anything. And so what if he took me to his aunt’s nonprofit benefit. None of it mattered. He was who he was and our relationship was what it was. Nothing had changed.

I turned around. Elaina stood on the sidewalk behind me, looking in my direction and talking on the phone to someone. Her expression changed. She was screaming.

Why was she screaming?

Metal collided with metal. Horns blared. The earth spun in a crazy twirl. My head struck something hard.

And then nothing.


I was in pain.

For the longest time, that was all I could concentrate on.


Then the lights came. And the noise. And I wanted to tell everyone to be quiet and turn the lights off because the light and the noise hurt. And if it could just be dark and quiet I’d be fine. But even though I could hear, I couldn’t talk.

Then I was aware of moving and that was worse, because moving hurt. And numerous hands were pulling at me. They didn’t stop when I told them to leave me alone.

The noise got louder.

“Abby! Abby!”

“BP steady at 120 over 69.”

“Pupils equal and reactive.”

“Call CT, she’s…too long.”

“…possible intracranial hemorrhage…”

And mercifully, the darkness came back.

I woke again to the sounds of arguing.

Felicia. She was arguing.

“…heart of a f**king animal…don’t even know…”

“…don’t know anything…”

“…why don’t you…”

“…I refuse…”

“…have to ask you both…disturbing the patients…”

And again the darkness fell.

The next time I woke, I was able to open my eyes. It was dark. And there was no sound but a steady beep, beep, beep.


I turned my eyes to the noise. Linda.

I licked my lips. Why were they so dry? “Dr. Clark?”

“You’re in the hospital, Abby. How are you feeling?”

Like hell. Like utter and complete hell. “I must be badly off to have the Chief of Staff in my room.”

“Or else you’re very important.” She stepped to the side. Nathaniel stood behind her.


“Hey,” I said.

He came forward, took my hand, and lightly ran his thumb over my knuckles. “You scared me.”

“Sorry.” I wrinkled my forehead, trying to remember. “What happened?”

“Your cab was hit by a dump truck,” Nathaniel said. “Damn driver ran a stop sign.”

“You have a moderate concussion, Abby.” Linda typed something on her laptop. “I’m keeping you overnight. You were more deeply unconscious than we’d usually expect in concussion cases. But there’s no internal bleeding. Nothing broken. You’ll be sore for the next few days.”

I tried to nod, but it hurt too much. “Did I hear Felicia?”

Linda smiled. “New hospital regulation. Nathaniel and Felicia aren’t allowed within twenty feet of each other.”

“We had a slight misunderstanding,” Nathaniel said. “She’s with Elaina. They’ve been talking to your dad.”

“Can I—?”

“You need to rest,” Linda said. “I’ll go let the others know you’re awake. Nathaniel?”

Nathaniel nodded.

When she left, I looked up at him and waved him close. He leaned over for me to whisper in his ear.

“I missed yoga class this afternoon.”

He brushed the hair back from my forehead. “I think I can overlook it this one time.”

“And I’ll probably miss my jog tomorrow morning.”

He smiled. “Probably.”

“But on the upside,” I said, feeling slightly dozy again, “I seem to be getting lots of sleep.”

“Shh.” Long fingers skimmed along my forehead right before my eyes closed.

They were whispering about me. I kept my eyes closed so they wouldn’t know I was awake.


I opened my eyes. Felicia.

“Don’t you think I know you well enough to know when you’re faking?”

Yeah, she did. “Hey, Felicia.”

She squeezed my hand. “Scare me like that again and I rip you from limb to limb.”

“She’ll have to stand in line,” Elaina said from behind her.

“Hey, Elaina.”

“Thank God you’re okay. Honestly, when I saw that truck run the stop sign…I lost it…I kept thinking…” Her eyes misted. “And Nathaniel was yelling and I thought you were dead.” Tears ran down her face. Even Felicia wiped her eye. “You wouldn’t wake up, Abby. Why wouldn’t you wake up?”

“Sorry,” I tried to sit up, but gave up. Sitting up hurt. “I’m awake now.”

And hungry, I was hungry.

Felicia pushed me back down. “I don’t think you’re supposed to be up yet.”

Nathaniel. Nathaniel was here earlier, wasn’t he? Had it been a dream?

Linda walked up behind Elaina. “Nathaniel went to get you something to eat. He said he wouldn’t feed Apollo what passed as food around here.”

Yes, that sounded like Nathaniel. Make a meal plan and stick with it.

“I ripped your boyfriend a new one earlier,” Felicia said. “He took it like a man. You have my blessing.”

“Blessing for what?” I asked.

“To continue seeing him.” She rolled her eyes.

“Thanks,” I said. “But I wasn’t aware it was up to you.”

She shrugged her shoulders.

I rearranged my blankets. Wait a minute—

“Where are my clothes?” My hand went to my throat. “Where’s my…”

“They had to cut your clothes off,” Elaina said. “It was wild. They used these huge scissors.” She winked at me. “I have your necklace in my purse.”

“Thanks, Elaina.” It felt odd not to have my collar on, my neck felt so light.

“Did Sleeping Beauty wake up?” Nathaniel walked into the room, carrying a tray, and still wearing his suit and tie. He sat the tray on the rolling table by my bed, pushed it to me, and lifted the lid off a bowl. “You should see what they call food in this place. They serve chicken broth out of a can.”

I pointed to the broth. It smelled delicious. “Did you make this?”

“No.” He crossed his arms. “They wouldn’t let me. But I dictated.”

I just bet he did.

He glanced around the room. “Did you tell her?”

Linda shook her head. “No, she just woke up. Come on, Elaina, let’s get something to eat.” She looked back. “Felicia, would you like to come?”

Felicia waved them on. “I’ll be down in a minute.”

Once Linda and Elaina left, Nathaniel unwrapped a spoon and put it beside the bowl. He adjusted the bed to lift me into a sitting position. “Eat.”

“Damn, Nathaniel,” Felicia said. “She’s not a dog.”

He glared at her. “I know that.”

“Do you?”

“Felicia,” I warned.

Felicia scowled at Nathaniel and stomped out the door.

“I’m sorry about that, Felicia is…” I sighed. “Felicia.”

“Don’t apologize.” Nathaniel sat at the end of my bed. “She cares for you and is looking out for your best interests. There’s not a thing wrong with that.” He pointed to the bowl. “You do need to eat.”

I took a sip. “This is good.”

He grinned. “Thank you.”

I ate half the bowl before talking again. “Elaina has my collar.”

He rubbed my leg over the blanket. “I know. She told me. We’ll get it later.”

I took another sip. We’ll get it later. I liked the sound of that. Another sip. I’d pretend we were sitting at the kitchen table. After all, we’d never talked about proper hospital etiquette. “What did you mean earlier—had they told me? Told me what?”

He was still rubbing my leg. “About the weekend. Tomorrow, Felicia and everyone will head on to Philly as planned. But since you shouldn’t be alone this weekend, you’ll stay with me.”

But I stayed with him every weekend.

And then I remembered. Jackson’s game.

“I’m sorry. You’ll miss Jackson’s game because of me.”

“Do you know how many times I’ve watched Jackson play football?” he asked.

“But this is the play-offs.”

“And I’ve seen him in the play-offs too many times to count. I don’t mind missing this one, we can watch it on TV.” He grinned again. “But I am disappointed you’ll miss it.”

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