We’d played before. Top. Bottom. I’d become particularly enamored of the middle toe of her right foot and once spent five minutes making love to it. “Red.” That was my safe word. I’d never had to use it.

But this was different. We’d always . . . she’d always used silk scarves to bind me to the bed’s four posters. When I came home that night, she dangled a pair of handcuffs as she sat on the couch in the living room. I looked from them to her to them. Her eyes were uncompromising. Her voice silent.

I too was silent. I turned and walked nervously to the bedroom. Was this a step too far? In the bathroom, I looked at me in the mirror. Stared into my eyes.

With a final, deep breath, I went to the bedroom and undressed, taking care to put everything away so the room was bare of anything but the essential. There was one of the scarves we normally used, and just one, placed in the center of the sheet. The blankets were removed, neatly folded in a corner. I was naked. I took the scarf and wrapped it around my eyes. Then I lay down on the bed, more excited than I had ever been. I spread my legs and I spread my arms above my head. I had trouble breathing for a moment until I heard the click-click of her heels in the hall and the clang-clang of what she carried. And then I couldn’t breathe at all.