Novel Name : Checklist J, K, L

Chapter 8

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After less than four hours of sleep, and enough cups of coffee to make himself feel vaguely ill, Grif’s
decision-making capabilities were low enough that something he objectively knew was a terrible idea
now sounded reasonable.

He was going to text Davina.

They’d exchanged numbers eighteen months ago, just after he and Davina had made their relationship
official in the eyes of Las Palmas. They hadn’t planned on exchanging numbers—a phone number was
a very personal and easy to investigate piece of information, but then he’d been late to a planned
weekend with her.

He’d already been running late, having been stuck in a prep meeting for what had ended up being a
successful investor pitch. The meeting had run long, then he hit traffic on PCH, so he’d called the club
and asked that they let Davina know he was twenty minutes out.

Five minutes after that, he’d been rear ended by a British tourist who’d been trying to do the scenic
drive along the coast. In the crash his cell phone had slid under the passenger seat and he hadn’t been
able to find it. By the time he finished exchanging information with the guy who hit him, talking to the
CHP, and checked that his car was drivable if rather sad looking, he’d been almost two hours late to
meet Davina.

When he hadn’t arrived after the stated twenty minutes, she’d panicked, thinking he’d been in an
accident—which he had. Given that he hadn’t called the club, she assumed it was a serious accident,
and had been calling hospitals, and demanding the club pull strings with the CHP for information.

When he’d walked in, she’d reamed him up one side and down the other for several hours, and then
they’d switched up the scene so he could sheepishly accept a flogging as an apology gesture for
worrying her.

At the end of the weekend, she’d tucked a small piece of folded paper into an interior pocket of the gym
bag he always carried.

“For emergencies only. It’s my cell phone number,” she’d said.

He’d quickly written out his own and given it to her, and then watched her tuck it away.

In all that time since then, all the nights he’d wanted to call her just to hear her voice, or use her cell
phone number to search online and learn more about her, he’d resisted. That number was for
emergencies, and neither his curiosity nor falling in love with her were emergencies.

But yesterday…yesterday had been an emergency.

If the sick feeling in his stomach was any indication, their relationship was still in a state of emergency,
and he wasn’t going to wait until next weekend to talk to her about it.

The urge to take care of her, to make sure she was safe and happy, was overpowering. That was a
huge part of what being a top was about—caring for the submissive partner.

And she was his. His submissive. His Davina.

Cursing, he leaned forward, elbows on the kitchen counter in his loft, phone in one hand, that little
piece of paper in the other.

He typed in the number and composed a text message.

Davina, I need to know you’re okay. - Grif

Was that too formal? Should he put in an emoji? No, that would be stupid. There were a thousand
other things he wanted to say. He started typing.

Let me take care of you. That’s my favorite part—the aftercare, when you’re soft and limp in my arms. I
hate how much I loved yesterday, since clearly it hurt you. We’ll never play like that again, just
remember you’re still mine. Always mine.

Grif started frantically deleting everything he’d just typed, going back to the original Davina, I need to
know you’re okay. - Grif

Heart in his throat, he hit send.

He’d done it. He’d used the emergency number.

Letting the phone clatter onto the counter of his small kitchen, he dumped the remaining coffee into the
sink and instead put the kettle on for tea. While it was boiling, he opened the fridge door, stared at what
was inside, and settled on a prepared salad, which he ate standing over the sink with his fingers.

There was a reason he lived alone. His dislike for bothering to use a fork when he’d only have to turn
around and wash it was one of them. The fact that most of his warehouse loft was taken up with two
long rows of tables and several shelving units full of tiny, expensive bits of computer hardware.

He set a timer for the tea to make sure he didn’t oversteep the leaves and looked around for something
else to do. It was Saturday afternoon, and he hadn’t planned to be home. He was supposed to be at
Las Palmas with Davina, which meant for once he didn’t know exactly what he was supposed to be
doing. Normally his days were carefully organized into blocks of time, designed to maximize his
productivity, while also allowing him the mental down time necessary to be creative in his development
of new tech.

He looked back at the refrigerator. Maybe he should clean it out. Did he have to unplug it to do that?
Maybe best to leave that to his cleaning lady.

He could always work out in the small home gym in the corner. No, working out was thinking time. He
needed a distraction. He was trying not to pick up his phone, which lay on the counter, taunting him.

Mug of tea in hand, he wandered over to one of several workbenches, and grabbed the large tablets
he’d left there, propped up on a cardboard box of parts. He started tapping the screen. He had a few
personal projects he could mess around with today, and—

His phone beeped.

Grif damn near spilled tea onto a half-assembled motherboard in his rush to get back to the kitchen and
his phone.

If this was a spam message or his mother, he was going to throw the phone against the wall.

So this is an emergency?

Davina. She’d texted him back. That was a start. He set his tea down, and hunched over his phone. He
knew exactly what he wanted to say this time.

Yes, it is. I didn’t get to take care of you after.

A brief pause, then another ping.

Get to?

Grif hopped up to sit on the counter, elbows braced on his thighs as he cradled the phone. He had no
idea what the tone of her words was, and because he didn’t know that, he didn’t know how to interpret
her message. Was she deflecting? Angry he’d texted her? Surprised?


Before he could figure out how to reply, his phone pinged again.

I’m fine.

I’m fine. Two words that technically answered his question, but meant absolutely nothing.

Fuck this conversation.

Grif tapped the upper corner of the screen, then hit the little video icon. His own face appeared as the
video call clicked on and started to ring.

He realized this was not a good angle—she would be looking up his nose—and hopped off the counter.
It rang again. He was nervous. This was a risky move, and broke many of the limits they had on their
relationship. But he was also nervous-excited, the same sort of jitters he got on a first date.


How many had that been?

Not that he’d been on a first date since he’d been bonded to her, but he remembered the feeling
enough to identify it now.

His phone chimed as she answered.

A surge of relief and happiness rushed through him in that split second between her answering the call
and her face appearing on the little phone screen.

The instant he saw her—dark hair, full lips, golden brown eyes—the relief morphed into desire. And
happiness into something he couldn’t name—a feeling that was both sweet and dark, possessive and

They looked at one another in silence for a moment, and then Davina exhaled, her lips parting enough
to expose the soft, damp skin of her inner lip.

Grif’s cock twitched. “Davina.”


He walked over to his bed and sat on the side. “I’m glad you answered.”

“I’m surprised I answered. We were only supposed to call each other if it’s an emergency.”

“You don’t think what happened—how we left it—is an emergency?”

She looked to the side, giving him a view of her elegant cheekbone. Her hair was loose around her
shoulders, and she was wearing a dark lipstick—either maroon or aubergine, he couldn’t quite tell. She
looked just different enough from how she normally appeared that he was highly aware of the fact that
by calling her, he’d broken a barrier, intruding into her life outside the club.

When she looked back at him, the corners of her eyes were pinched up in a frown, but that melted into
a smile before she said, “And here I thought you went shirtless at Las Palmas for my benefit, but it
appears you don’t own a shirt.”

He looked down at himself, clad only in PJ pants. “I think I own a shirt. Maybe.”

She chuckled, but it faded quickly. Heavy silence fell.

“I’m sorry, Davina,” he said softly. “The last thing I ever wanted was to hurt you. To push you to the
point that you had to use your safe word.”

She exhaled between compressed lips. He saw her throat work, and waited to see if she would

When she didn’t, he kept going. “I wish I could say I’d never do it again, but I don’t understand why you
safe-worded out.”

“Does it matter? We did our part of the game. It’s done. Let’s just go back to the way it was before.”

“No, it’s not done. We will talk about this, because that’s what we do. We communicate with each

“Don’t use your Dom voice on me.”

He ground his teeth. “I’m not using a Dom voice. I’m just talking.”

“Grif, I don’t want to talk about this.”

His frustration flared, bright and hot as a freshly lit match. “What the fuck, Davina? This isn’t like you.
Running away, refusing to talk to me.”

“Not like me? So you know what I’m like. Who I am.” Her nostrils were flared, her eyes narrowed in

The hand not holding the phone clenched so hard on the mattress that his knuckles creaked. “I’ve been
your partner for two years. Yea, I do.”

Her face relaxed. No, that wasn’t the right way to describe it. Her face seemed to crumple, her anger
replaced by sadness. “I wish that was true, because if you did, then you’d know why I ran.”

Now they were getting somewhere. “Will you tell me?”

The picture whirled for a moment as she got up. He got only glimpses of a floor to ceiling window, white
walls, as she walked while holding the phone. She was looking at where she was going, not at him.
“We already broke one of the rules. Given that, I want to have this conversation in person.”

“You mean wait until this weekend at Las Palmas.” Damn it.

“No. Now. Meet me at the Getty Center in an hour.” Davina glanced once at the camera, then the
connection ended.

He was going to see her. Outside of the club.

Grif grinned and leapt up, looking for a shirt. He was tempted not to wear one, but was pretty sure they
wouldn’t let him onto the tram that took museum visitors from the Getty parking lot up to LA’s most
famous museum without a top.

An hour wasn’t much time for him to get from his place in Los Feliz to the Westside, but he still tried on
three shirts before settling on a blue dress shirt with the collar open and the sleeves rolled up, along
with jeans and his favorite boots.

Shoving his things into his pockets, Grif raced out the door.

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