The Institute:Daddy Issues(3)

By: Evangeline Anderson



I’m ashamed to ad­mit I had to get most of my in­form­a­tion off dat­ing sites. Not that I had any in­terest in my part­ner that way but still—those were the places where they had the most in­form­a­tion about Rus­sian men and the way they in­ter­act with their wo­men.

I learned that your typ­ical Rus­sian man was gen­er­ous, help­ful, cour­teous and ex­tremely pro­tect­ive of his chosen wo­man. Ac­cord­ing to the sites I read, they also tend to get ser­i­ous quickly about a wo­man they con­sider to be theirs. Now that I was Salt’s part­ner, he ap­par­ently con­sidered it his job to pro­tect me and shield me from harm. Not a bad qual­ity in a part­ner, if I could get over my fem­in­ist prick­li­ness and ad­just to be­ing treated like more than one of the guys for once.

It took some ef­fort on my part and con­stantly re­mind­ing my­self that the way Salt was act­ing to­ward me was cul­tural, not in any way sex­ist or de­mean­ing. But fi­nally we fell into a routine. Salt still opened doors for me, helped me in and out of my coat and in­sisted on buy­ing my lunch when we ate out to­gether. (In Rus­sia, the man al­ways pays—it’s an in­sult to ask to split the bill.) And in re­turn, I had him over to my place for a home cooked meal at least twice a week—I know I don’t seem very do­mestic but I’m ac­tu­ally a pretty good cook. I even learned to make borscht for him which is more com­plic­ated than you might think.

The only place I really had to draw the line was when Salt wanted to de­fend my honor. I don’t know what the Rus­sian po­lice force is like, but I don’t think they get the concept of po­lice bru­tal­ity. In the be­gin­ning, any perp we brought in who mouthed off to me was likely to be pick­ing his teeth up off the floor the next minute. I fi­nally made Salt un­der­stand he was go­ing to get us both sus­pen­ded if he didn’t stop, so now he con­ten­ted him­self with simply threat­en­ing any­one who dis­respec­ted me. It was a dis­tinct im­prove­ment, es­pe­cially from the Cap­tain’s point of view.

And speak­ing of Cap­tain Douglas, I hoped he was fi­nally go­ing to ex­plain why he needed Salt and me to go to the in­fam­ous In­sti­tute.

“We need you to go un­der­cover,” he was say­ing. “Get in good with the other…ah par­ti­cipants at the re­sort, and see if you can identify the source of the Please. This new batch is the most dan­ger­ous yet so if we can catch the man­u­fac­turer and dry up the sup­ply, we can save a lot of lives.”

“Go un­der­cover in what ca­pa­city?” I asked, frown­ing. “I mean, what ex­actly do they do there, any­way?”

“I thought you knew all about it, Sug­ar­baker.” Cap­tain Douglas fol­ded his arms over his nar­row chest.

“I know it’s some kind of kinky re­sort,” I said. “Is it a BDSM thing? Are Salt and I go­ing to have to dress up in leather and use whips and chains on each other?”

Salt’s face darkened. “I will not whip Andi. She is too del­ic­ate for such treat­ment.”

In the be­gin­ning of our part­ner­ship, that kind of state­ment would have pissed me off. Now I knew it was just Salt pro­tect­ing me. Still, I nudged his mus­cu­lar shoulder and made a face at him.

“Who said you would be do­ing the whip­ping, huh? You think I can’t be the one wield­ing the paddle? I’m plenty dom­in­ant enough to be a dom­in­atrix.”

Salt gave me a coolly ap­prais­ing stare. After a mo­ment, it got hard to hold his ice-blue gaze but I re­fused to drop my eyes and lose the little star­ing con­test we found ourselves in.

“No,” he said at last. “You are dom­in­ant to many men but not to me, Andi. This I will not al­low.”

Cap­tain Douglas cleared his throat which broke my con­cen­tra­tion. I looked back at our su­per­ior, los­ing the star­ing con­test.

“A-hem. Un­for­tu­nately, though the In­sti­tute does prac­tice a form of BDSM, it’s not the kind you tra­di­tion­ally think of when you’re talk­ing about the kink com­munity.”

“Well, what is it then?” I de­man­ded. “If it’s not whips and chains, I mean.”

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