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Other Colors - Ch. 26

A D/s romance set in Montreal

Part 2 - Blue (continued)

 

Chapter 26

I’d fully expected the cold air to kill me. Dripping wet, I figured I’d just freeze solid about halfway up the steps, a frost facsimile of Rodin’s Eve or Houdon’s Winter. Nu ascendant un escalier. What number, now? ‘No counting tonight, Miss Foster.’ I held my arms out, balancing briskly as I trotted up the last several steps. My lips curled into a smirk. Not only was I still alive, I was warm. The steaming water, somehow, had heated me to the core.

“Easy,” he scolded from below, running his hand along my ankle, “you’re no good to me if you slip, and snap your neck.”

I turned back, still dripping.

“Are you sure?” I nettled him, lifting my leg out of reach, “you wouldn’t need to tie me down anymore, Monsieur. I’d be at your mercy. Like a bird, with clipped wings.”

“Très noir, mon piaf,” he shook his head, grinning wryly, “but even a bird with clipped wings, I’d keep in her cage.”

The Gilded Cage. The Victory of Faith. I grimaced. Saint George was no saint. The steps leveled off, and I felt his hand slide into the small of my back. Up ahead, nestled in the snow near the edge of the overhang, there stood a small Japonesque shack with a pale blue door and, but for a few panes of glass in the gables, no windows whatsoever. The stonework was stippled with wolf moss. A maxilla of melting icicles hung from the eaves. The whole scene, really, seemed stolen from some lost Warwick Goble aquarelle, and under other circumstances, I imagine it might’ve enchanted me.

But the world was much bleaker from above. Without a windbreak, without the steam to swaddle me, and with a bitter breeze now blowing, the cold quickly crept back into my bones.

“Don’t stop,” he pressed, “I like your toes, Penny. And I’d like you to keep them.”

Moi aussi, Monsieur. My teeth chattered, “I really hope that’s another sauna. Or a witch’s oven. Or a gate to hell,” I crossed my arms, and shivered, “I’d really rather burn than freeze for you, sir.”

“Go on,” he growled, and grinned again, “I’ll get some wood.”

So to speak. I didn’t wait to be told twice. I scurried onward on tiptoe, still clutching my shoulders as I slipped inside, and grabbed the first dry thing I could find to wrap around my trembling torso. It was gray fur blanket—a twin to the one draped over his bed back at Lacoste—and despite what pangs of pity I should’ve felt for the poor creature that shed it, I was honestly I was just glad to be warm.

In fact, it was downright balmy inside; heated, I could only guess, by the sweltering springs below. I glanced around, my shivers fading as I dabbed the droplets away from my nose and chest and chin. It was all one room, and not as dim as I would’ve guessed. A soft, jute rug covered the floor. Heavy joists and rafters intertwined above. A low, dark table sat in the center, flanked by a couple of square cushions. In the far corner, there stood a tall, tiled stove and an ancient blue cupboard, locked with tarnished brass latches. The walls, by and large, were bare, with the stark exception of a half dozen coils of goldenrod rope, dangling from a set of pegs, and three long, hanging scrolls, each painted with a woman in a half-torn kimono; her body lashed tightly in loops of crisscrossing ligatures. I shuddered again, and stepped closer, mesmerized by the colors, and curves; by the dark diagonals slicing across her skin.

“That’s a fine look for you,” his voice cut coolly across the room.

I flushed, and spun. His silhouette darkened the doorway, a bundle of white birch logs stacked under his arm. Somehow I’d missed it on my way in, but right beside the entry stood a rack of neatly creased bath linens, and two terry cloth robes hanging from another pair of pegs. I eyed the stony edges of his abs as he set down the wood, and wrapped a white towel around his waist.

He cocked his head, “El Greco’s mistress, no?”

“That piece is misattributed, Monsieur,” I sighed, and pulled the fur closer, “Besides, I think Déjeuner en fourrure may be more apropos.”

“That so?” his eyes flashed as he snatched a robe from the wall, “Your hair wants cutting, Miss Liddell.”

Pantoufle de verre, pantoufle de vair. Espèce d'obsédé, Monsieur. My skin burned brighter as he stalked closer, and I let my fur fall to the floor.

“So, not a sauna,” I turned as he slipped the robe over my shoulders, “Not Muromet’s oven. Not la porte de l’enfer,” I squinted again at the lurid scrolls, “I give. What is this place?”

“A tea room,” he tied the sash tight around my waist, “if you like.”

Tea room. Why not? I quelled an urge to roll my eyes. What’s the difference between a raven and a writing desk, Penny?

I nodded skeptically, turning back to the paintings, “…and these?”

“Shunga. Early Edo.”

“But why do you have them?” I squinted, “why are they here?”

“Would you prefer The Passion, Penny?” he shifted, “we’ve never quite seen eye for eye on flagellation.”

‘The impression of keen whips I’d wear.’ I rolled my eyes, rhetorically this time.

“Cute,” I glared, “but that isn’t an answer.”

“I was overseas, hawking diamonds in Osaka,” he shrugged, “She… caught my eye at a gallery,” he wrapped his hands around my hips, “What can I say, Miss Foster? I had to have her.”

Eye for eye, so to speak. I quivered as his hands fingers fell lower. It was upsetting, almost, how much and how easily the images aroused me.  In subtle saccades, I let my gaze trace the rope diamonds lashed across her torso. He kissed my neck. My eyelids fluttered. His breath alone was enough to make my blood stir. Croqueuse de diamant. Déjeuner en fourrure. Five of diamonds. Five of coins. He broke away, stooping to fill the stove with fresh wood. Four chanceux… I smiled, and sighed.

“You know,” I spoke softly, still staring, “you’ve never said much about it, sir.”

He stoked the fledgling flames, “About what?”

I shook my head, trying to clear it, “About the mine. About your business. Winding up with all of this.”

He dusted off his hands, standing to unlatch the cupboard, “If you’re really interested, you’ll want to talk with Seth tomorrow.” He filled a cast iron kettle, and set it atop the stove, “The whole fiasco was his design.”

“Seth,” I narrowed my eyes, “Your brother?”

“Half-brother,” he corrected, “We were both at Trinity back then.”

Please, God. Not more doctors. I grimaced, “Both of you were at medical school?”

He shook his head, “Just me. Well, me and Niti.”

“Niti?” my nostrils flared.

“Seth’s wife. It’s a long story,” he glanced back, “But you’ll meet her tomorrow, too. And I’m sure she’d be happy to tell it.”

My stomach churned with a red and irrational jealousy.

“Not medicine,” I crossed my arms, “So, what was he studying?”

“Mineralogy,” methodically, I watched him take a porcelain teapot from the cupboard, along with two cups and a pair of saucers, all glazed in a cobalt blue net, “He’d come across some kimberlite pipes on a research expedition in the Territories. Managed to keep it quiet until he could come back with a crew.”

“And… he took you with him,” my brow creased as I crept closer, “Is that why you dropped out?”

Again, he shook his head, “I’d already left. Seven, maybe eight months earlier.”

Already left? I studied him carefully, tracing the tension in his shoulders clear down to the blanching bone of his knuckles. I wanted to know. I wanted to know how thin the ice stretched beneath my feet. I wanted to know how much further out I could wander before I fell through, and froze.

I murmured, treading as lightly, “Why?”

“I was in a dark place, Penny,” his jaw clenched, “I’d rather not grate you with the details.”

Craquelure. I blinked. ‘The Wreck of Hope.’

“Darker than believing you’re possessed, Dmitri?” I tested my luck, “Darker than locking yourself up in a monastery?”

“Yes,” he growled, “if you can imagine.”

I swallowed dryly, sinking myself beneath the blue shroud of his shadow, “What I can imagine might surprise you, Mr. Caine.”

Irresistible force, immovable object. Laelaps, outfoxing a Cadmean vixen. A droplet of water fell from my hair, sizzling as it struck the stove. He’d hoped I would yield. He was counting on it, I suppose. But I didn’t. I wouldn’t. And after the part of my heart I’d already sliced out and served to him that morning, still raw, still beating, I sensed that even he wouldn’t have the nerve in this moment to tell me ‘no’. Ignis judicium. Aquae astricta. Quid est veritas, Monsieur? I gazed up at him, waiting, tapping my foot.

“Alright. Si tu insistes,” he sprinkled a handful of tea leaves into the pot, “…I was lovesick.”

My heart shriveled, and sank a little lower in my chest, “Lovesick?”

“Brokenhearted. Au coeur brisé,” he tossed the leftover leaves aside, “All octopus pots, and Antiochus I Soter.”

My fists clenched. His levity, counterfeit as it was, did not amuse me.

“Emily?” I breathed sharply.

He nodded, “I’d had a falling out with my mentor over her.”

“Your mentor,” I numbered my breaths, trying to stay calm as I combed annals of my memory, “You mean Dr. White?”

“Like a steel trap,” he smirked somberly, raising a brow.

Or a Swiss watch, Monsieur? Avec un grain de sel. I crossed my arms, struggling to contain my contempt.

“Well. What happened?”

“Anesidora,” his eyes flashed, “The lid’s loose. Do you really want to see what’s inside?”

I held my palms out over the stove, warming them, and trying hard not to let him see me tremble. The firelight flickered beneath us. His eyes were cold, and clear. I turned my hands up slowly, supinating, as I nodded my ambivalent assent.

“Very well,” he cocked his head, and sighed, “We’d been working feverishly on a fresh monograph. I hadn’t been home in a month, splitting hours between the wards and the stacks. I’d had an idea one night. Thought I’d made a breakthrough. But I needed a file from his office.” He shook his head, “I remember, I was so fucking excited to tell him. Like a lap dog. I couldn’t wait to wag my tail, and get my pat on the head,” he paused, clenching his jaw. “It was raining out. Maybe a little after midnight. I’d left my umbrella back at the library, so I was drenched, trotting up the steps to the hospital. I didn’t expect him—I didn’t expect him to be in so late,” he glanced up, gazing dazedly at the rafters above, “But he was. He was with her. And I went half-mad with jealousy.”

“…Wait,” I blinked, “Wait. Like with her, with her?”

“Shall I paint a picture, Penny?” his eyes flashed. “He had her bent over his desk, in a straitjacket. She was moaning his name. He had his trousers around his ankles,” His brow creased deeply, “I lost control. I landed one hard on his temple. He went for his paper knife, and stabbed me twice in the thigh. And Emily,” he shook his head, “the whole time—struggling, straining, the tears pouring down her face. She didn’t make a sound.” He shut his eyes, rubbing them hard with his hand, “The rest is a little hazy. But we were both bloodied, behind bars, and he was blind in one eye by the end of it.”

“Christ…” I murmured, unable to breathe.

I stared at him, unable to tear my eyes away. Could he really be that violent? With an ugly shudder, I remembered how swiftly he’d dropped Peter to the floor just a few nights earlier, and thanked the God in heaven that their squabble hadn’t squabble unraveled any further.

“What,” my voice was airy, and thin, “what happened to you?”

“Essentially nothing,” he drew his jaw to one side, “But the good doctor was ruined. There was a scandal. An ugly one. They stripped his license, and sent him to prison. I testified. And I don’t think Emily ever really forgave me for that.”

I frowned, “you mean… she wanted to protect him?”

“It’s hard to explain,” he shook his head, “and honestly, it doesn’t matter. It was all my fault, in the end. All that happened to her. I should’ve known better.” His voice softened, and receded, “Sometimes I wonder if it’s why I went back for her. A repetition compulsion. Trying to make my amends.”

I swallowed slowly, uncertain of what to say, much less how to feel. He had warned me, I suppose, not to turn the latch on this door. But like any other Fitcher’s bird before me—like any little Pandora with a box on her lap—I failed, every time, to listen.

“So… you left the school,” I rasped, almost dizzy with dread, “Where did you go? What did you do?”

“I fell apart,” he glanced aside, “more or less. I sold my books. I sold everything. I picked fights with strangers. Slept on the street. I spent every dime I could scrounge on killing the memory of her.”

“Drinking?” I cringed, loathe to even ask it, “girls?”

“I used them both,” his eyes flashed, “then I found morphine. And I needed neither.”

The kettle whistled.

“You’re not serious, Dmitri,” my brow creased deeply.

He leered down at me, the kettle steaming like a censer in his hand, “Should it really surprise you, Penny?”

Should it not? My gut wrenched as I remembered the poppies he’d brought me that night I was ill; how meticulously he’d muddled the petals, and plopped them into his tea. His words echoed ominously in my mind.‘You don’t think your flowers feel pain, Penny? I do. I think they feel more than most…’

But honestly, an addict? My mind raced, though my body stayed still. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t believe it—at least, not entirely. There was something still missing; some pivotal piece of the proverbial puzzle he’d kept for himself. I heard it in the silence between syllables. I saw it in the burning, black apertures of his eyes. I watched him take a clay jar from the cupboard, and place it carefully on a tray with the teapot, the cups, and the kettle. His hands were steady. Mine, meanwhile, were anything but, and a vestigial instinct in me felt queerly compelled to scold him.

“You have questions, I imagine,” he lifted the tray, “Come. We’ll sit while it steeps.”

Yes. Yes, I’d imagine I do, Monsieur. I trailed him crossly to the table, and while I’d like to claim righteousness, and say it was only my selfless concern for him that chafed, in truth, I too was about half-mad with jealousy.

He nodded for me to kneel on one of the pads. He struck a match. I watched the sulfur flash, fuming as he lit a white taper between us. The flame danced epileptically beneath his breath. I folded my hands, still scowling. I wanted to know. I wanted to know how she broke him so badly. I wanted to know—were I to up and vanish tomorrow—whether he’d suffer half as much missing me.

“So… you started shooting up. Throwing your life away,” I drummed my nails nervously on the edge of my knee, “just because Emily jilted you.”

He narrowed his eyes, sliding a cup and saucer quietly across the table.

“It’s not quite that simple,” he tilted his head, “But, yes.”

Still hiding from me, Monsieur?

I rubbed my temples, trying to clear out all the fire, and fog, “I don’t understand,” I hissed, “I don’t. I mean, how did you get clean?”

“You’ll thank Seth and Niti for that,” he took the other cup for himself, “I ran into her one night, staggering off of Sheriff Street. I don’t know what she was doing there. But one look at me, and she knew precisely what I was doing,” he shifted his weight, “she sent Seth to come straighten me out.”

I raised a brow, “meaning?”

He chuckled darkly, “Meaning he beat the living daylights out of me, until I swore to never touch the stuff again.”

I sighed, and shook my head, no longer capable of being shocked, “and that worked?”

“For a time,” he nodded, “at least, long enough to listen for an hour without nodding off. He told me he was planning a project abroad. Something a little hazardous. He said he needed a medic,” his face was strict as he lifted the pot, “I knew it was a pity offering. Alms for the poor,” he poured, “But it meant putting an ocean between me and Emily,” the stream stopped. “Three weeks later, I was in Yellowknife.”

I dropped my eyes, gazing down at the two pools of umber-colored tea between us; their steam entangling, like swathes of half-torn spider’s silk.

“You,” I murmured, reaching tremulously for my cup, “you must’ve really loved her.”

“I did,” he stayed my hand, “once upon a time, Penny.”

I watched him again raise the kettle, and after a peculiar Russian custom, pour a splash more water atop the tea, diluting it to a coppery gold. Chrysopoiea. I cocked my head. Cleopatra, her pebbles and mud.

He stroked my hand, “Our demons. They fit well with one another. At least they seemed to. But you must find a way to believe me, Penny,” slowly, deliberately, he leveled his gaze, “that whatever I felt for her back then—whatever jealousies, whatever obsessions—it pales against what I feel for you now.”

I blushed, and glanced away, feeling the sharper edges of his stare slice me slowly in two. Are these sweet nothings, Monsieur? Still, I was haunted. Even here, at tea with him in the tundra, I couldn’t bring myself to let it go. No locks at Lacoste. I gritted my teeth. None, but one. Was there tea then, too?

“That’s fine,” my throat tightened, “But are you sure, sir,” I swallowed, “Are you sure it’s not because I remind you of her?”

He released me.

“I mean…” I breathed out slowly, sinking my incisors into my lip, “We both paint. Both have green eyes. Similar height. I’m probably about the age she was when you met her. And you—”

I bit harder, and my voice trailed off. I couldn’t bring myself to say the rest. My eyes fell. I looked for my reflection in the redolent fluid below. It wasn’t there. The tea was too dark, too mired. Huc coeamus. Echo, invisible. Indivisible. The lovers, the devil. The tower, and fall. I breathed in the steam, it’s autumnal odors, all sodden earth and scorched cinnamon; all apple boughs burning in a barren orchard.

“Go on,” his voice was hushed, almost harsh, “drink.”

This is my blood. ‘Fill a vase, Miss Foster.’ The old evasions burned in my ears. Without glancing up, I obeyed, raising the porcelain rim to my lips. The steam curled my eyelashes. The heat singed my tongue.

“It’s bitter,” I swallowed, and coughed.

“Here,” from the clay jar, he spooned a dollop of amber honey, drizzling it slowly into my tea. “Something sweet,” he stirred, “to soften the sting.”

Out of the eater, something to eat. My eyes were still watering. Why is a raven like a writing desk, Penny? I sipped again. The aroma was unchanged, still heady, still dizzying, but the taste transformed entirely. It was brighter now; more seductive, suffused with a tang of orchids, fir sap, and smoke.

“Better?”

“Much,” I nodded, warming my palms as I clasped the cup, “But you still haven’t answered me.” At last, I mustered the gall to glance up, “It’s a fair question, sir. It begs an answer.”

It begs… His eyes flashed at me, but he took his sweet time before speaking. He stroked the stubble along his jaw, staring back like Lucifer in tableau vivant. I was well-accustomed by now to his lingering leers, and my prying, I knew, had done little to lighten his mood. But somehow this glare made me more nervous than normal. He didn’t look me in the eyes. He looked through them. He studied me as one would a sculpture; aloof, appraising, and cool.

“You want to know what makes you different?” his words deadened the air between us, “You want to know, Miss Foster, why I’ve fallen for you?”

I almost choked, and he looked on reticently as I recovered.

“When I was with Emily,” he bent closer, “I gave her every cruelty you could imagine. And she took it. All of it. Every pain. Every insult, and degradation. She needed it. She needed my contempt to feel pleasure. To feel fulfilled,” he paused, raising his own steaming cup to his lips, “What she didn’t need was love. I gave her mine. But that piece of her—the place where it should’ve warmed her. It was broken. Maybe it was never there begin with. And once we were finally together,” he grimaced, “it was only a matter of time before I lost sight of why I was hurting her.”

I shook my head, my body tense, and my heart pounding, “What’s this have to do with me?”

He sipped, swallowed, and set down his cup.

“Everything,” he nodded darkly, “everything is different with you. I’m different. And it wasn’t until recently that I realized it.”

I squinted a him, suspicious, “How so?”

“I’m not sure I can explain it,” he ran a hand roughly through his hair, “It has to do with shame.”

Shame? I raised a brow, “Come again?”

He shook his head, “I’ve…always hated myself, in a way. I’ve always been ashamed of the things I do to women. The fixations that compel me,” a strange tic flickered across his face. “But from the first time I took you, Penny. That first kiss. You stood on your toes. You defied me. The first time I fucked you. You defied me again,” his eyes flashed, and his leer dimmed a shade darker, “I’ve never wanted to take it back with you. Every time. Every time I touch you, I want more. Every time I hear your voice, I fall a little further in love.” His words wove between the steam and the smoke, “I don’t know what it is. How you hide your sadness, maybe. The honesty of your lies,” his face was strict, “But down there in the water, when you opened yourself up to me. I’d never loved you more than I did in that moment,” he stirred again, “And being here with you now—watching you kneel, and sip your tea. Seeing the apprehension in your eyes. The dark hair damp against your temple. Lips red as rose. Skin white as snow. Your scars. Your scent. The sound of your voice,” he leaned closer, his eyes flashing violently, “I’ve never wanted you more than I do now. To strip you. Bind you. Torture, fuck, and make love to you. It’s maddening. It’s impossible” he cocked his head wolfishly, “And yet… I’m not ashamed of any of it.”

I dropped my eyes, flushing crimson, and drew the edges of my robe together. It was all I could do, all I was willing to do, to resist him. Between the inferno of his glare, his words, between the swirling steam, the lurid swelter of the air, I was ruined. Already, though he hadn’t laid a hand upon me. He didn’t need to. As I’d told him before, as he’d known all along, I was his.

“You love me,” almost inaudibly, I let the words float from my lips.

He nodded, “More than you’d care to know, Penny.”

“And still,” I murmured, folding my hands in my lap, “you want to hurt me. Torment me. Tie me down…”

His jaw tightened, “I wouldn’t try too hard to understand it.”

I wouldn’t. And I didn’t intend to. Because it made no sense, and it never would. It didn’t make sense how he could want to protect me, how he could obsess over my safety—a pricked finger, a sprained ankle, a torn coat, or a broken window; over every pale scar on my skin—and still get hard at the thought of beating me black and blue. It didn’t add up. And what worried me more was that I liked it. I did. This very thing that scared the blue blazes out me. Somehow, by some cruel operant conditioning, he’d taught me to crave it. It wasn’t a paradox. It was dissonance. A riddle without an answer. The first time he spoke of it, he’d told me it was a kind of madness. In that moment, more than most, I believed he might be right.

Why is a raven like a writing desk? I sipped my tea once more, hands trembling, and stole a glance at the sediment settling to the bottom. Paxton's ‘Tea Leaves’, Mount’s insipid ‘Dregs in the Cup’. I didn’t need a tasseographer to know what was next. The writing was on the wall.

So to speak. “Those ropes,” I whispered, nodding to the pegs along the wall, “What so you use them for, sir?”

His eyes darkened, “I think you know very well, Miss Foster.”

Again, the candle's flame writhed in between us. Slightly, subtly, I craned my neck, letting my décolletage cut deeper, and ran my fingers nervously along my lapel.

“Show me,” I breathed, “…je t’en prie.”

It begs an answer. He bared his teeth, amused, I think, to see his prey exposing her throat.

“Clear the table, Penny.”

I shivered, and obeyed, standing on tiptoe to return the tray as he stalked slowly to the opposite wall. My back was still turned when I heard the jingle of a silver chain, and a familiar chill slithered down my spine. Is that what I think it is? I smirked, though my lips were trembling, and spun around, blushing to see the clover clamps hanging from his hand. It was humiliating, in a way, how intensely that trinket aroused me.

I inched closer, entranced as he moved behind me, and lifted the robe from my shoulders. The birch wood crackled in the oven. I flushed still deeper as the robe fell to the floor, and he wrapped the sash over my eyes. Lady Grey. Huit d’épées. I felt myself melting as he clasped his hands over my chest, kneading and teasing me with his fingertips. The chain jingled again, and the clamps bit sharply into my nipples. My breath hitched, and my hips swayed.

“You do adore these, don’t you?” he growled softly, “Do you remember what they’re called, Miss Foster?”

“Mmm, kakehari?” my chest throbbed harder as he drew down on the chain, “third hand, I think.”

“A steel trap,” he snarled, and let go, “Would you like to learn another?”

Another? Already, my head was spinning.

I murmured softly, “If it pleases you, sir.”

“It pleases me,” he echoed coolly. “Kinbaku,” his breath blew warm across the nape of my neck as I felt him wind a cord once, twice, three times around my chest. “To tightly bind,” he hissed.

I shuddered, still trying to acclimate to the darkness, and now to the terrible squeeze of each cinch; to the dizzying roughness of this touch.

“I wonder…” I bit my lip, fixing my posture as he crossed my wrists in the small of my back, “Is there a word in Japanese for ‘pervert’, sir?”

“Many, I’d imagine,” he chuckled darkly, drawing the ligatures tight before he twirled me twice in a circle, “But all aesthetics are perverse, Penny.”

Amor sacro e amor profano. Sacred sacrum. Callipyge. The hypotenuse of Praxiteles. He wrote his name in pencil, Penny. Was that not art? My head swirled. My chest throbbed. He’d disoriented me. He’d seduced me. I could barely move my body at all.

Venus Restored. Venus with Drawers,” he read my mind again, and left me whimpering as he batted the chain between my nipples, “Do you remember why you chose de Milo?”

I shook my head. At that moment, I could barely remember my own name, much less his esoteric interrogations. I strained toward the sound of his voice, lips pursed in pitiful supplication, but the ropes pulled tighter, and with a blue flash of fear, I realized he’d lashed me to the beam above.

“I remember,” he growled again, “I remember every word you’ve said to me. Every moan and quiver you’ve made in my arms.” At last, he touched me, running his fingertips lightly along my flank, “You said she was better off broken.”

I bit my lip harder, already breaking beneath him, “I didn’t say that.”

“No,” he lifted my chin, and let lips graze along the edge of my throat, “but you agreed.”

If it pleases you, sir. I gasped as he grasped the tether between my breasts, drawing me nearer, and moaned as he swept his hands across my chest. I could feel him, the heat of him; his breath searing over me like a mistral, and my skin caught fire as he slid one hand down to my hips, burying it between my thighs.

“I once told you about a dream I had,” he stroked slowly, his voice still as crisp as evening frost, “You and I. The Théâtre du Palais-Royal. You wore nothing,” my eyes rolled back as his hand sank deeper, “Just a band of black silk to cover your eyes.”

Birds, and bees. Pomegranate seeds. A piano in the distance. Debussy, it seemed. The déjà vu was dizzying, but it was his touch that kept me on the brink of grand mal convulsions.

“Oui, Monsieur,” I couldn’t breathe, but craned my neck to kiss him, “je me souviens.”

He took pity, kissing me, and ran his hand along my cheek, tracing out the edge of my blindfold.

“Then I suppose you know what happens next.”

What happens next? I moaned plaintively as he tore his hand away, snaring another rope around my ankle, and cried out as he yanked upon it, hoisting my leg high into the air. The ropes creaked. My body shivered, and strained. It shocked me, to be honest, how vulnerable I was, how suddenly it had happened. I dangled there, almost en pointe for him, my legs split wide in a lurid développé.

“Bozhe moi,” he breathed, drawing an agonizing line from my breastbone, across my navel, clear down to the edge of my clitoris. He caressed, “You have no idea what you do to me, Penny.”

I moaned, helpless, half-withered, and hanging on the edge of oblivion as his hand moved smoothly to and fro.

“Vraiment,” he snarled, sliding deeper, “you make a monster of me. My Ophélie. My fleur.”

God. I’d give you some violets. I’d give you some violence. But they withered all. His voice was a venom. His hand was a barb. He stung, and stung, but didn’t kiss. He let his lips hover over mine. I could taste him; the tea’s fragrant nectar still imbued on his breath. Calyx, corolla. Pistil, and stamen. Sting. Stigma. Stigmata.

“Please,” I whimpered, breaking in half for him, “Please, can I come, sir?”

“Patience, Penny,” he hissed, and like an evil rosary, the chain rattled again in his fist, “You’re going to suffer for me first.”

I bit my tongue, tormented. What wound did ever heal, Dmitri?’ Stamen, stigmata. Barb, bayonet. ‘Reach hither thy finger. Thrust it inside…’ Eve, too, was a thorn in his side. I felt the sting, sharp as two flecks of flint, as he raised the chain up to my chin. My hips quaked. My chest burned. I suffered for him. I suffered, and suffered, and I suffered some more.

“Please,” barely breathing, I murmured the word like a mantra, “Please, please, please.”

He silenced me as he pulled still higher, and pressed the silver links to my lips.

“Bite,” he snarled softly.

My jaw trembled. My toes curled. My lips parted for him, wracked by the ruinous rhythm of his touch. I took my breath, and I bit, catching the chain between my teeth. Again, his lips hovered over mine. My face and chest flushed scarlet as distantly, deep down, I felt a fresh dust of degradation settle, like tea leaves, on the cool, stone floor of my soul.

I was hobbled for him, blinded and bridled; a broken brood mare awaiting his whip. He sensed it, too. I was sure of it. I could almost feel the fire in eyes as he snatched hold of my hair, drawing it back into a ponytail. I could almost taste the adrenaline on his tongue as he laid another kiss on my lips.

“Now,” his two hands tortured me in tandem, “Come.”

I don’t think he’d even closed his mouth before it happened. I was already dying. I was writhing, athetotic; drowning under each warm wave of ecstasy as it broke—when without a flicker of warning, he pulled down on my hair, arching my neck, and ripping the clamps free from my chest.

The sound I made was scarcely human. It hurt. It hurt like hell, and for some ludicrous and infuriating reason, it made me come even harder. I shrieked as the blood rushed back to my nipples, as every muscle in my body seemed to pulsate, incinerate, and turn, at last, to ash.

Monster… My eyelids fluttered beneath the blindfold as the aftershocks quivered through my hips, and knees, and feet. The chain was still dangling from my mouth. I was panting, obliterated, babbling soft nonsense beneath each my breath. Are these sweet nothings, Monsieur? I barely even noticed as he set to work loosening the line on my ankle. I barely even noticed as he looped yet another rope around my remaining thigh, and lifted me like an aerialist—like some tangled and tormented marionette—into a tight, and agonizing straddle.

Is this real? I whimpered, feeling the imprint of every braided tether he’d tied to me press its crimson tally marks into my skin. Is it his dream? I wondered hazily. What will happen? What will happen to me when he wakes up?

His kiss brought me back again, and he slipped the blindfold from my eyes. I blushed, unable face him. He grinned wryly, clearly pleased.

“Hanging in there?” he stroked my cheek.

I rolled my eyes, and giggled breathlessly, “If that’s a pun, sir, I don’t think I’ll ever forgive you.”

He growled, tucking a loose strand of hair behind my ear, “Kidding aside. I don’t want to hurt you.”

I sighed, staring daggers, “Yes, you do.”

“Quelle petite coquine,” he cocked his head.

“If I am,” I sneered coyly, “I think we know why, Monsieur.”

“Yes,” his eyes flashed, “but such a smart mouth, Miss Foster.” He put his finger to my lips, “perhaps we’ll put it to better use.”

My eyes widened as he fell to one knee, snatching the burning taper from the table.

“Not funny,” the hair on the back of neck stood stiff, “What are you doing, Dmitri.”

He didn’t answer, and I had to watch, welling with terror, as he dripped a dash of hot wax across the back of his wrist. He looked up at me, leering.

“Open your mouth, Penny.”

I shook my head, more to plead than to resist him. He barely had to twitch a muscle before I crumbled, and complied. I shut my eyes tight as he slid the shaft onto my tongue, pushing it deep into the back of my throat.

“Now hold still,” he warned coolly, sweeping his hand along my neck, “The more you move,” he touched the tip, “the more it drips.”

He let go, dribbling a shower of molten wax onto my chest. I squealed, and thrashed, scattering still more across my skin. Admittedly, it only stung for a moment. But the predicament, the palpable sadism of what he’d done, all but paralyzed me with fury, and fear. He traced his hand lower, as if to soothe me, and laid his palm upon my breast.

“Your heart. It’s pounding, Penny.”

I can’t imagine why, Mr. Caine. My eyes crossed on the flame, flickering a scant four or five inches from the tip of my nose. Another fiery droplet fell, and I flinched.

“Just breathe,” he nodded, and knelt lower, laying a light and lingering kiss on my thigh, “You’re suffering. Suffering for me. Your body is mine. Your mouth is mine. Your eyes. Your cunt. The air in your lungs,” cruelly, keenly, he dragged his tongue higher, “You breathe because it pleases me to see your chest swell,” his breath blew hot between my thighs, “You suffer, Penny, because it pleases me to watch you writhe.”

Mon Criss. I breathed in slowly, steadily, holding myself as motionless as I could. Je suis tienne. Je ne suis rien. I closed my eyes again, trembling, ever so slightly, as he moved to my other thigh. A fresh drop of fell, singeing the still-tender edge of my areola. I felt it sear. I felt it hiss, solidify, an cool. I felt his stubble bristling softly against my skin. Then I felt something else—something slow, melliferous, and thick—tingling softly against my lips. I opened my eyes, and my skin ignited. Down there, from the still-glistening tip of his finger, he’d drizzled a fine, golden thread of honey.

“A little sweetness,” he winked, licking the residue from his fingertip, “to soften to the sting.”

His blue eyes locked with mine, flashing desolately in the firelight. He lowered his head. My muscles tensed. My breath arrested. My mind spun a few feverish circles, searching for somewhere to hide. L’Ange déchu, des larmes aux yeux. Birds, and bees. Butterfly wings. Wings of wax. Heart attacks. Shredded petals, molten metals. All, fall—

Down, he went. First with a whimper, then with a groan, I felt him. I felt him graze the aching edge of me; felt him drag his tongue heavily along the honey-laced lips of my cunt. The first touch was enough to unmake me. I burned for him. I suffered. I sighed through flared nostrils and split apart at the seams. His hands were beneath me, clutching my ass, keeping me still. The wax dribbled, and dripped, stippling me like a lost Seurat. My toes curled and my fists clenched as he quickened his cursive intaglios. A libertine watercolor. These small and innocent games. Without intending to, I tested his knots, thrusting my hips higher, just as my tongue slid, instinctively, over the warm, wax shaft of the candle.

Already, I’d left the earth beneath me. I was of the clouds now. Floating. Flying. Plumes of white paraffin feathering my skin. I felt the fiery sun above, the blue water below. Indicium aquae. Ignis judicium. I let my eyes cross again, watching the flame waver on the end of the wick between us. Jack, be nimble. Jack, be quick. He was poison. He was ether. He was ambrosia, ichor, the blood in my veins. And each time his tongue glided over the tip of my clitoris, I felt another layer of me sizzle, and dissolve. Anadyomene, in retrograde. Returned to sea foam, and spume.

“You’re close,” viciously, he let his vowels vibrate through me, “But you won’t. Not yet.”

Won’t? The word was enough to drown me. I sank my teeth into the taper, softly moaning my demurral. I could see him still, though my eyes were growing bleary with tears. I saw his jaw moving rhythmically against me, the menacing blue shadow of his brow. I saw what he was doing to me—what he'd done to me. I saw what I’d become under his spell.

“Soon,” he snarled.

My toes curled tighter. I cast my head back, stifling a sob. I don’t even remember the wax at that point, though it dripped like an ivory necklace across my neck. The ache, the tension—it was just too much. It was everything. Maddening. Impossible. I could feel it seeping from every pore of my body. Now. My breath hitched as he pressed his lips deeper. It has to be now. Please. Please, please, please. I’ll die. I shut my eyes tight. I started to fall. Petals and nettles. Nectar, and wax. Here comes a candle, to light you to bed. He pulled back, but just barely, his lips hovering hardly a hair’s breadth from me as he breathed.

“Now.”

The word. The word was enough. And the Word was made flesh. The first throbs unraveled through me, and my body wracked itself against the ropes. It was surreal in a way, and a little bit sinister. At that critical moment, I don’t think he’d even touched me. It was the gravity of his will; the sheer, stentorian violence of his voice. It was enough to send me into the air. I was gasping for breath by the end of it. Or trying to rather, until he rose, and slipped the taper slowly out of my mouth.

I gazed up at him, glassy-eyed and panting. His body was tense. He was rigid as stone.

“Make a wish,” he smirked, holding out the flame for me.

A wish. I squinted. My head was still filled with the warm, wet mist of my climax. My thoughts flailed, and fluttered, brittle as a new butterfly's wing. I pursed my lips, blowing threadily, and turned the fire to smoke.

“Douce coquine,” he leaned in, kissing me fiercely, and under a pale tachisme of melted wax, I felt my chest flush red beneath him.

Maybe it was just my imagination, but I swear I could taste it. I could still taste the honey on his lips, all sticky, and sylvan, and sweet.

He stroked my face softly, “Tell me your wish, Penny.”

I dropped my eyes, suddenly embarrassed, “...I don’t think that’s how it works, Monsieur.”

“No?” he cocked his head, “And if I were Mephistopheles, granting you your heart’s desire. No strings attached,” he reached up, loosing the ropes from the beam above, and lowered my feet to the floor, “What would you ask of me, Miss Foster?”

More puns? My legs tingled terribly as they touched down, as if they’d been asleep for a hundred years. I staggered, unsteady, and flushed still darker as I stumbled down into his lap. He chuckled again, pulling me upright by the tethers on my chest.

“With you, Mr. Caine,” I whispered, dropping my eyes, “I think there’s always some strings attached.”

For a moment, neither spoke. My hands were still tied behind me. I opened and closed my fists. My eyes fell shut as he lowered his hand, tracing out the aching edges of my wax-dappled breasts.

“Such a lovely mess,” he growled, sliding inward.

“Mais oui,” I nodded timidly, “…you made an encaustic of me, sir.”

He chuckled, and I stirred as he plucked a paraffin teardrop from the tip of my nipple, stroking his thumb along tender, tingling nub beneath. …One wish? Ein tropfen blut.

I sighed, swallowing tensely, “For more.”

“More?” he narrowed his eyes.

“My wish,” I breathed, “I’d wish for more. More of this. More of you. You bring me to my knees, Dmitri. Literally. I died for you twice already. I can barely even stand up. But,” I clenched my teeth, “I still want more. I want the rest of you. J’en ai besoin. J’ai envie de toi.”

“Petite cochonne,” he snarled savagely, stroking my chest, “Never satisfied, is she?”

“I wish,” I blushed furiously, wetting my lips, “I wish you’d let me… return the favor."

His hand stopped cold, “We’ve been through this. Have we not?”

“I know,” I breathed, shrinking beneath his glare, “it’s just, I kind of liked the candle,” I glanced down, eyeing the imprints my teeth had left in the taper. “I um, used to smoke. Did you know that? Still do sometimes. When I’m upset.” I bit my lip, and batted my eyes, “What do you think?” my skin seared, “Do I have an oral fixation, Doctor Caine?”

He glowered down at me, drumming his fingers against my shoulder, “I will consider it. Since you’ve asked so sweetly,” his brow creased. “But not now,” his eyes were stern as he raised up the candle, rolling it back and forth in his fist, “For now, Penny,” he growled, “I’ll just raise you a rung on Freud’s ladder.”

My eyes widened. Does that? Does that mean what I think it means? A fearful smirk flickered over my lips.

“You wouldn’t dare,” I whispered.

I’m not sure why I said it. I knew, very plainly, he would. It happened fast. I hardly saw him move before he’d already forced me to the floor, face down on the pale fur blanket, and lashed my knees up against my chest. Vraiment, ta petite cochonne; ses pieds et poings liés. The fur tickled against my cheek. My backside swayed helplessly, degradingly, high into the air above me.

He wasted no time. He touched me just once in prelude, letting his palm glide between my thighs, then held my hips firm as he thrust the full length of him through me. Stinger, and stamen. Petals and nettles. I parted my lips, and groaned, half-delirious as his cock swiftly split me in two. I don’t know if it was the extremity of the angle, or just the torrent of monoamines and lightning still lingering in the blue thicket of nerves in my skull, but immediately, and all at once, I was seething for him. I was alight, all over again. And every maddening motion he made just drove me deeper, and deeper into the flames.

He still had the candle in hand. I felt him rolling it slowly along the ridges of my spine, a little bit higher each time he impaled me. I might have wondered why. I might of wondered what he was concocting, had my brain still been capable of cognition. But it wasn’t. And I didn’t. I only moaned, and begged, purring like an animal in heat as I sank my teeth into the fur.

Then I felt it. He had his hand upon tailbone. My knuckles went white, and eyes shot wide. He didn’t slow for a moment, as he pressed the shaft, gently, into the tight, mauve meridian of my ass.

“Just breathe,” he echoed his earlier assuage, “Tu m’appartiens, Penny. My porcelain moon. My pale fire. Breathe.”

What doctrine do you call this? Divinity, adieu. I tried. I tried to breathe. I tried to stay calm. I tried my hardest not to look back. Pillar of salt. Pillar of fire. Sodom. Stamen. Stigmata. Stay calm… He slowed his strokes. He stroked my thighs. He pressed again, a little bit harder. A warm wave moved through me as my body suddenly slackened, and what air was still left in my lungs expelled as the taper’s end, still slick from where I’d sucked, slid deeper.

He growled again, “keep breathing.”

Honestly, had he not reminded me, I might’ve stopped altogether. He sank it lower still, his cock and candle penetrating me in tandem. I felt myself begin to shatter beneath him. My toes and fingers trembled. The tip of my nose went numb. The moans I made were so black, so jagged, I think they might’ve torn off and took with them a feathery slice of my soul.

Eddowes and Stride. Allantide. Two sticks and an apple, said the bells of Whitechapel. Jack, be nimble. Here comes a candle. Here comes a candle. Here comes a candle, to light you to bed.

He fucked me viciously. He fucked me, and he fucked, and he fucked me some more. Harder, and harder. Deeper, and deeper. But the fullness—the surfeit, and swell—that’s what alarmed me most. I’d never felt anything like it. I’d never known something so sinful; so dreadfully, deliciously depraved.

Adam’s malum. Venus Verticordia. Divinity, adieu.

My eyes were already rolling back when his strokes again grew faster, more murderous. I felt the ache; the tingle, and throb. I felt every flooding blue Nile that hardened him, every notch my incisors had etched in the wax. I won’t say it felt good. I’m not sure that it did. But it was intense. It was passionate, prurient. And with each vicious thrust, I think he drove me a little bit further from heaven, deeper into his dismal, Dantean Dis. Pas de tout. Folie à deux. Adieu…

My little death drew nearer. I could hear her scythe, freshly whetted, scraping the ground behind her; tearing a fresh gash in me with every miniscule step she took. I waited for her; moaning shamelessly, prostate, on bended knees, tied, tearful, twice-impaled. I craved the end she could bring me, the blissful brutality of her coup de grâce. Here comes a candle. Here comes candle. Here comes a chopper, to chop off your head… He slapped my ass hard, and it started.

I started, yes, but there seemed so little of me left, I’m not sure I entirely understood I was coming. I was a shade of myself, a shadow, cast on the ground between between two vales; a dappled sunbeam, split amid rustling leaves. Then the scream left my lips, and a faint spatter of rain soused the fur below.

I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t know what was happening. My brain had boiled dry, and my first stray thought was that we’d somehow knocked the teapot to the floor. But then something else occurred to me as a warm, wet trickle tickled its way down my thigh. My heart died in my chest, withering like a west-facing violet.

“Oh, my God,” I breathed frantically, “Oh my God. Dmitri, I didn’t. Did I? Did I just pee?”

He ran his hand along my spine, his voice still rasping after his own receding spell of spasms, “No,” he stroked my hip, gently withdrawing as he freed my knees, “you didn’t pee, Penny,” he paused, “…Is this your first time?”

First time? My brow furrowed.

“There’s not a kind word for it,” he squeezed, “You came.”

I came? “But what,” I shook my head, “how..?”

He chuckled dryly, “I wish I could tell you,” he untied my wrists, “Anatomists still argue over where it comes from. By royal decree, I think, it doesn’t even exist in Albion. But you should know,” he growled, “you’re special. Not every woman can do it. Not every woman can let go like that.”

One final time, he slid his hand between my thighs, caressing my cunt, and moving the taper’s end in a few slow and sinister circles. My face dropped back against the fur, and I groaned a sort of death rattle as he gradually withdrew the candle.

“Wish granted,” he snarled softly, “a dream come true. We’re doing quite well today, my dear.”

My cheeks burned as I chanced a glance at him, and right away, I wished that I hadn’t. At some point in our frolics, he’d re-lit the wick without my realizing. Like some votive Callipyge, I’d been aglow for him in the firelight, with long tendrils of wax glazing the pale curves and cleft of my ass. He leered at me as he lowered the flame, extinguishing it in the glistening stain on the fur. Indicium aquae. Ignis judicium. I shuddered, dying of shame as he touched my cheek, and worked loose the knots that tethered my chest. I didn’t think the world would ever be right again. But then he smiled. He kissed me, and all was well.

“I think…” I breathed, crawling sheepishly, sleepily, to curl myself in his lap, “I think it did happen once before, sir,” I swallowed softly, and sighed, “I’m not really sure.”

He smirked, combing his hand through my hair, “Do tell.”

“I was, um,” I hid my face, “I was masturbating. In the shower. It was back in high school, maybe freshman year. I liked to lie down, and let the water hit me just right.” I bit my lip, “but this one time, I turned over. I didn’t know what was happening,” I shook my head, “But it scared me half to death.”

“Poor thing,” he teased, holding me closer, “what I wouldn’t give to see the look in those eyes.”

“You’re cruel,” I furrowed my brow, nestling lower, “It’s…so powerful, Dmitri. That last one. I swear, you nearly killed me.”

“I did,” he nodded darkly, laying a ghostly kiss on my temple, “But just a little.”

Ugh. I scrunched my nose, and yawned, “Your puns. They’re getting worse. Worse than my Dad’s, almost.”

Arden of Eden. He didn’t speak a word, and I don’t think it dawned on me until later what a strange thing it was for me to have said it. I was not, after all, in my right mind. He’d torn too many holes in my head. As from some Aquarian amphora, all the thoughts that should have stayed hidden were liable to leak out without warning. Ganymede. Gamine. Gammon. Cochonne. My Rosaline in the sand…

I must’ve dozed off for a while, still curled like Flaming June in his lap. His kiss, again, returned me to the living, and I sat by drowsily as he tidied me up, peeling away the milk-white wax from my skin. I closed my eyes. I crossed my legs. He’d come inside me again. Neither of us whispered a word of it.

He kissed my wrists. He kissed the scar on my shoulder. He put the robe around me, and set me down beside the stove, stoking the flames a few times before he went out to gather our clothes. I hugged my knees to my chest, watching the door slide shut behind him, then turned to stare at the crackling embers.

Their color; it was that of my rope burns, like elaborately tattooed all over my skin. Out, out brief candle. How came she by that light? I glanced back to the glistening stain on the fur. I thought of the Scotch Lady, sleepwalking, scrubbing her hands raw. Never clean. Out, out damned spot. I clenched my teeth, gazing deeper into the oven. She swallowed coals, didn’t she? Or was it a different dagger?

Even after he returned, I was quiet. He watched me dress. He made me blush. My body was warm and numb as I clung to him, and kept my eyes closed on the cold ride back to the cabin. He slowed before we came into the clearing. I perked up, peeking over his shoulder.

“What is it?” I murmured, “Something wrong?”

“It’s Niti and Seth,” he nodded.

I squinted. Off past the treeline, I could just make out a white station wagon stopped near the cabin. My stomach dropped, and my breath went shallow.

“I thought…” I stammered, “I thought no one was coming til tomorrow.”

His shoulders tensed, “Seems they’re early,” he revved the engine again, and shook his head, “I’m sorry. I ought to have guessed. Seth has a strange contempt for schedules.” He glanced back, “growing up in abbey will do that.”

Come again? My brows arched.

“It’s fine. I’ll take you in around back,” he cocked his head, “I’m sure you’ll want to clean up a little before playing the part, Penny.”

Wash your hands. Put on your nightgown. Look not so pale.’ I bit my lip, brooding, and nodded nervously. All the perfumes of Arabia.

“Yes,” I breathed, “At the very least.”

 

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than Lushstories.com with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

Copyright © © M. Thomas Ashe, 2018. All rights reserved.

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