I am at the fetish fair, with a play partner.

This is nothing very unusual; we come here regularly, to look at the merchandise, expand our toy collections, and play. Playing in public generally looks a good deal like playing in private, except that we keep clear of penetration and the like, to stay within the house rules.

Today is different. Today he has decided to put me on display.

I strip slowly, nervously, down to the waist. He is being kind to me, flogging me on the back, where I prefer the sensation. I can endure impact on the buttocks, of course; I have even been known to request it. But it is impact on the back that fills my dreams and gets me hard.

I step up to the spiderweb and stretch my arms out to the sides, gripping the coarse ropes. He presses up to me, warm against my naked skin, and pulls my head back by the hair. I melt back into his grip.

“Good boy,” he murmurs, stroking my back with a coil of rope. “Hold still.”

I close my eyes and lean into the spiderweb. I love this part, the ropes winding snugly around my arms, making me helpless. Here is where it becomes real, a tangible thing, my submission written in ropes. One arm, then the other, and he steps back, and I pull hard against the bonds and relax into them again, pinned in their snug grip.

He moves invisibly behind me, and I gasp as cool leather slides over my back, the tails of a flogger. His warm hand follows them, and I lean back into it, wanting more already. He shows me the flogger then, and I shiver. It is not the heavy one I prefer, but the light one with plaited tails, the one that stings far more than I enjoy.

He stands away. I swallow. We have talked about this part.

“What are you?”

“A submissive, Sir.” I answer clear and loud, against my instinct to whisper. I am on display, and must speak for the audience.

“And what happens now?”

“You’re going to flog me, Sir.”

“Correct. I am.” I can hear the smile in his voice.

“How many strokes, Sir?”

“Thirty-nine.”

I whimper, pulling uselessly against the ropes. I hate that flogger.

“It could be worse, boy. I might have said forty.”

I shudder. “Yes, Sir. Thank you, Sir.”

“Tell the nice people why forty would be worse.”

Blushing, I stand up straighter, defying embarrassment to speak clearly. “Because thirty-nine is the last finite number, Sir. When the Romans sentenced a criminal, thirty-nine meant thirty-nine, but forty meant they would continue indefinitely.”

From my position tied to the spiderweb, I cannot see who might be listening to us. Someone murmurs in understanding, and my face burns. I am watched. I am observed.

He strokes my back again and steps away, and I brace myself for the first blow.

“Count for me, boy.”

“Yes, Sir.”

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