I spent my nineteenth birthday at a hospital in Ill., next to the bedside of my ten-day-old daughter as she fought for her life amidst tubes and machines the likes of which I’d never seen. By then, she’d already had surgery to bypass the malformations in her heart while they rushed her name to the top of the transplant list. The severity of her condition coupled with her otherwise excellent health made her the perfect candidate for a transplant. Just five months later, after they’d ripped out her tiny little heart and replaced it with one from an infant car accident victim, she was gone. I wasn’t even old enough to drink.
At the time, I had no idea my life had begun to spiral out of control. I enrolled in college to try and make something of my broken life, but it was one of the few good decisions I made for myself. A lot of that time in my life is fuzzy, blocked out by the unbearable pain, but I remember guys, I remember wanting to give up, I remember my best friend trying to put me back together before he took an internship half-way across the country. My parents were at a loss, grieving themselves after the loss of their first grandchild. While I would never again take the chance on children, my sister eventually gave them two beautiful girls.
My tunnel had no light at the end.
Then, I met a girl. Well, a woman, really. I was barely into my twenties and she was in her early thirties. At Purdue, we had a chat system called bitnet relay (raise your hand if you’re old enough to remember the original IRC) where kids could talk to each other and collaborate through a command prompt-style interface. That is where I met Lisa. While she was no longer a student at IU Bloomington, she still had an account through an administrative friend. We talked for hours about everything and nothing. She emailed me pictures of herself, and I reciprocated. God, she was beautiful and brilliant and sweet. One weekend, she invited me down to her apartment in Bloomington. I scraped up enough from my minimum wage job for gas and the barest essentials of food, climbed into my beater, and jumped onto I-65 South.
While I’d understood for a while that I was bisexual, at least in the abstract, we proved it over and over that weekend. We loved each other in ways I don’t think I’d ever even heard of at that point in my life. During our time together, she introduced me to her Dom, Master Andrew. He and I talked over the phone and clicked almost instantly. We talked about BDSM and how it could help me to channel the horrible hopelessness in my chest into something else. I could get out of my head, at least for a little while, and let someone else be in control. It was Lisa’s way of helping me to heal. She had her own issues that she dealt with through submission and thought maybe it would help me too.
For a couple of months, I saved and scrimped, and fought to buy my very first airline ticket. After all of the hot, whispered late night phone calls where I got into him having me bind my hands or spank myself (thought I felt completely ridiculous afterward), I would be meeting my Dom. We spent that weekend essentially closeted in his tiny campus apartment where he introduced me to bondage, pain, discipline, and submission. We were kids, and it’s nothing like what I do now, but it helped. While I didn’t graduate college, I got a great job in IT during the tech boom of the 90s and learned as I went. Eventually, I became a programmer and I’ve enjoyed my career.
Andrew and I saw each other probably half a dozen times in total. At that time, I couldn’t separate sex from love, I didn’t know how. I thought because he dominated me, because we had amazing intimate sex, that we were in love. He was gentle in his explanations, probably more than I deserved, but I ended up walking away from him and that relationship because I wasn’t getting what I wanted. But I still think of Master Andrew often, when I try and when I win because he taught me that I was a source of pride for him. I was his.
Since then, I’ve had other lovers and other Doms—each has taught me a different lesson through their patience and their control. With a successful career in software development and over a dozen published books, I think I turned out okay under their hands. They took a broken girl and used a flogger to make her strong. So, while falling in love with Master Andrew probably wasn’t my best idea, it started in motion a chain of events to make me J. P. Barnaby and I’ll always be grateful for his guidance.
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Award winning romance novelist, J. P. Barnaby has penned over a dozen books. As a bisexual woman, J.P. is a proud member of the GLBT community both online and in her small town on the outskirts of Chicago. A member of Mensa, she is described as brilliant but troubled, sweet but introverted, and talented but deviant. She spends her days writing software and her nights writing erotica, which is, of course, far more interesting. The spare time that she carves out between her career and her novels is spent reading about the concept of love, which, like some of her characters, she has never quite figured out for herself.