Just Lie Back and Enjoy By Stephen Faulkner

The woman is young, perhaps in her early to mid-twenties and clad only in a loose fitting, soft linen robe with a sash-tied closure cinched tightly around her slender waist. Her palms are sweaty with anticipation for the service that is soon to be performed for her benefit. She is led through a door marked with a plaque reading “Consummation Room.” The room is long, windowless and furnished with ten identical, specially designed chairs. Stirrups like those employed by gynecologists for pelvic examinations are a part of each chair and gleam brightly in the glare of the overhead lights. The room is white tiled from floor to ceiling; the effect is at once sterile, institutional and uninviting. Apprehensively, the young woman takes the seat indicated to her, the one nearest the far wall, and dutifully places her bare feet in the stirrups before resting her weight against the cushioned back. The chair is very comfortable; she relaxes a little as she tries to calm her anxiety.

At a silent signal the shadow lights came on around her and with them is offered the first illusion of the experience she is about to undergo – that of privacy. It is an illusion because she has been told that in the Consummation Room she will be alone, that the experience will be given her in total solitude. Forget about the other nine chairs with their similarities to the one in which you will be resting, staff members have assured her. You will be all alone is the lie she has been told and which she believes as she unties the sash at her waist and throws open the robe, baring her body to the pleasant warmth of the room. The shadow lights surround her with their enveloping opaqueness, making the small pool of light at its center of the darkness her only reality. Speakers rise from either side of the headrest of the chair and slowly converge on her to cup her ears, encase her in muffled silence. Now she can neither see nor hear the action taking place in the other nine chairs as similarly alluded, willfully gullible women take their appointed seats in the room. Each woman is led in one at a time until each individual set of shadow light comes on to mask the presence of each woman in the room from the others.

The young woman places her hands along the inside of her thighs, sliding them sensuously inward, tracing tickling lines toward her pubis that surrounds and covers her vulva like a feathered mesh as she wonders when it will all begin and what it will be like. She has known the solitary pleasures of masturbation before and so now she focuses on those memories and what she recalls of what her girlfriends had told her of their experiences in the Consummation Room, their descriptions of ecstasy unspeakably wonderful feelings flooding through them and the explosions of emotions coupled with physical reactions never before imagined. Some of the experiences those friends chose to share seemed to hold a rather violent edge with the use of words like “explosive” and “convulsive” and “near to a seizure.” So she had been apprehensive at first, uncertain even when listening to their assurance that the experience was pleasurable, all delirious, wonderful, indescribable orgasmic bliss brought to the nth degree. “Your fingers wouldn’t even know how to begin to do what their machines make you feel,” her best friend insisted. Feel like what? she wanted to know, expecting another horror story of seizures and convulsions. Her friend shook her head as she sank into a private reverie of her own last time in the Consummation Room. She looked up and shrugged. “Best way to describe it,” she said, “is that it’s like going to heaven and coming back again.” With that last, unequivocal assurance the uncertainty that had lodged in the young woman’s mind like the solid, impassible winter ice on a shallow river was broken. The balance of her indecision had been tipped and she agreed to take the chance. So here she is though still understandably apprehensive about the whole thing. And now doubly anxious for it to begin, her curiosity is heightened, nervous shudders vibrating pleasantly through her skin. Nothing to fear, she recalls the words of her friends: no fear of pregnancy or disease and no emotional hang ups. Just the glorious feeling of love (ye, love) surging through you with a flow of incredible orgasms without any emotional obligations owed to anyone.

The womblike warmth of her little private sanctuary sooths her and she closes her eyes as the volume of the speakers slowly rise, encasing her in its own little world of sound. The music she hears as a soft background is that which, on her preliminary questionnaire, she had noted as her favorite band and the voice, whispering from the shadows, ripples through her naked body like an aural caress, a fantasy coming true. Sonorous yet sweet, it speaks to her intimately, knowingly. If asked later what that voice from the speakers had so sweetly and caringly said and promised, she would be unable to recall. It would be like trying to remember a dream that has already begun to fade back into the depths of the subconscious. All she would be able to say, then, would be that it was just wonderful, say that she had the perfect lover. She would say he as if she had been with a real flesh and blood man whose words, caresses and expert ministrations were true and not simply the product of the answers she had given on a printed form – loving, considerate, gentle, deep-voiced, sexy, caring. HE as a person, a man, a human being, a lover known, knowing and real. The illusion, then, gains momentum.

A cool flat surface lowers and rests across her forehead, molding itself to the forward cranial slope above the eyes and is soon equalized to the temperature of the skin and is quickly forgotten, Sonically, it probes the pleasure centers of the young woman’s brain and, finding their particular wave patterns, it hums softly in waiting as the man-shaped phallic thing rises and patiently poises between her stirrup spread legs. Were her eyes open so she could witness its rise from its holster concealed underneath the specialized chair, she might interpret it intended use as for something vile and wicked, its thickness and length as a weapon of some kind. But her eyes are closed, the tendrils of the high frequency stimulations focusing her attention on the artificially produced sensations which are running through her body and the responses those stimulations cause: the raising of gooseflesh on the skin of her arms, lower abdomen and thighs; the gradual rise in body temperature; the tingling heat that runs like liquid fire in concentric circles around the aureoles of her nipples; the increased rate of her heartbeat; the unexpected panting labor of her breathing; the increased flow of vaginal secretions; the sudden giddy clutch and release of her abdominal and vaginal muscles.

Words are no longer heard as the wet tickle of kisses are felt up and down her naked torso, the strange sensation of a second tongue in her mouth which she accepts, invites, with which she eagerly plays and wrestles with the strength and slippery slide of her own tongue. The face she sees is of her own creation, her own beautiful fantasy lover. The illusion is now so complete that he is no longer just a notion, an idea, but a solid reality to her, a man with a face (no matter how shadowily seen) and a body with heft, texture, heat. She moans in rapturous bliss as he lowers his weight on top of her, his groin pressed to hers, his exited (exciting, inflaming) sex so near her vulva that she is overcome with the intensity of her desire to feel him inside of her. She says something encouraging that no one else hears, something mildly demanding. The stimulator on her brow also senses this and reacts, moves the progression into its next phase.

The small motors that position the dome ended dowel at the splayed pink juncture of her thighs whine and whir, unheard by the young woman who is bathed only in sounds that she has chosen, the lover’s voice which she has described. Subtly, the sonic stimulator adds the new tone which is necessary to bring her to the final, heightened need. As always with new subjects it comes quickly and the stimulator compensates for the young woman’s swift reaction by shifting directly to what the programmers of the machine call the “consummation tone.” Blood floods tiny capillaries, engorging the center of her clitoris and she lets out a weak cry at the unaccustomed sensation before sinking back into the increasing frequency and intensity of the ebb and flow of her building orgasm. “Don’t be alarmed,” says the voice soothingly as the little motors move the pseudo-penis to touch the glistening, sensitive flesh of her labia. “I’ll be gentle,” it says as the thing eases forward, achieves a slow and gradual penetration into her vaginal canal, making her a virgin no more. This is not a thought she has at that moment, only a consideration later brought to mind: virgin no more. Consummation. The upper extension of the device massages and stimulates her clitoris in a way, as her friends had promised, that she could never have managed alone with only her own artful fingers and furiously working wrist. The feeling of fullness, of being lovingly violated along with everything she had been warned to expect in her bodily responses are all there, coming at her, flooding her in a continuous barrage of stimuli and reactions: the convulsive intensity, the rapturous seizures of both body and mind, the explosive tingling running the gamut of nerve endings from head to toe though centering on the genitals, breasts and guts. They whorl and rise, expand and condense within her in an ecstatic dancing rush that seems to go on forever. Eternity must be like this, she thinks with what mind her reeling emotions have left her; heaven and hell gloriously intermixed.

The words are all wrong, she finds herself thinking as the sensations wane, the orgasmic responses lessen and die, the ersatz hard on is slowly removed from her vagina to be sterilized and housed in preparation for its next use. Her private lover of the mind kisses her his last and draws his weight and warmth, his beautiful sexy voice away. Explosions, convulsions, seizures, yes but how to describe it all without frightening away one who has not experienced it. Soft explosions? Loving seizures? Convulsions emptied of fear? Little deaths? Journey beyond self and soul into the enclosing, embracing, protecting arms of…?

A warning sound foretells the end of privacy. She draws the robe closed around her as the various pieces of paraphernalia are drawn away from her skin. She clutches the soft cloth tightly at the throat and navel as she momentarily forgets the sash-tie in her rush to cover her nakedness. The shadow lights dim, then blanch, The Consummation Room, fully illuminated now, is still white tiled and institutionally characterless, holds ten specially designed chairs once more.

She walks down the row to the exit door, is surprised when she touches a seat for balance and feels the warmth, the telltale sticky texture of another woman’s recent “consummation.” She smiles. Illusions are a humorous thing when understood, she thinks, a business after all, one which provides a necessary outlet. Soon. Her mind conjures the word unbidden as she leaves the Room and walks down the hall to the Changing Facility where her clothes and possessions are safely locked away. Soon I will come here again.

Consummation: the word surfaces in her mind as she drops the robe as she stands before the locker. Orgasm, illusion, ecstasy, all for a fixed price. Price: the only obligation and that all had been dealt with at the front desk. Yes, she thinks again, I’ll definitely be back here again. Hadn’t her friends told her that one time wouldn’t be sufficient? Such a harmless addiction, really, they said. And now her own voice would echo their wonder and certainty her face become a mirror to the looks on their faces, softened and frozen in remembered rapture.

She changes into her street clothes in silence. On her face is the same distracted, lost-in-reverie expression exhibited on the faces of the other nine nude and semi-clothed women in the room with her. The Changing Facility – nothing more than a locker room, really, as it always is after individual “consummations” have been completed, a place where modesty is superfluous, a room peopled by women momentarily blinded to their surroundings by their obsessive thoughts.

On the street again the young woman, overcome with a sudden clarity of recall and reason, realizes that the word chosen by her friends to describe the experience meted out in the Consummation Room is quite an apt on: addiction. No wonder the Center for Sexual Fulfillment turns such a handsome profit each year. Ecstasy, once proven to be a safe and available commodity, will always be in demand.

The thought is lost, however, clarity of insight hazed over as she mentally tallies her savings in order to determine when she will have enough in the bank to afford her next :consummation.” The end result quickly calculated, is that she will have to wait a full month. Not soon enough, she tells herself dejectedly as the crosswalk light turns to green.

I don’t know if he will wait that long for me to return.

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Stabbing Pleasure By Sunni Brock

I smell your desire
Inhaling your breath
As our tongues touch then embrace
And I reach downward
Smoothing the warm mist of perspiration
Over the tingling hairs of your navel

You rise suddenly and
Your arrow pricks my finger
Leaving a single drop of sticky sweetness
On my throbbing fingertip

My nipples are racing
To escape their bindings
I feel my thighs trembling
My stomach tightens

I am clenching
Moist, warm, and waiting
Engorged with the thrill
Of your immanent entry

Maneuvering my hips over yours
Freeing my full breasts
And cupping them
Into your face

Biting, teasing, nibbling
A direct nerve
Between my bosom
And maidenhead

I feel your arrow tapping
Ready to accept my invitation
I am so swollen it aches
Engorged to the edge of ecstasy

Breath held for a moment
My lips part in anticipation
Then the tip barely probing
I feel myself spreading slowly
You gliding gently, firmly in

In…

In…

Deeper,
Slowly,
Ever deeper
Until I can hardly –

Your
Arrow
Plunges
Deeply
Into
My
Open
Heart

…and I gasp as I teeter on the brink

and you retreat

then stab again

and again

and I die a little

again

and again

Until I break open
Gushing love from my legs
in a torrent release of rapture
flowing down the creases of our bodies
into rivulets over the sheets

Queen of the Black Pyramid By J. Malcolm Stewart

From the Diary of Jean Martin Samael: Isla de la Sangre, off the coast of Belize, 5th of March, 1929

After days and nights of fighting through the teeth of the wilderness, I came to the clearing where stood the Black Pyramid.

It rose from the floor of the jungle; its massive, chiseled blocks of black, volcanic stone wrapped in vanishing mist. The structure shimmered in the light of Luna, anticipated the evening ritual.

With failing legs, I ascended the steps of the exterior, leaving the sounds and smells of the untamed darkness behind me. The distant sound of drumming was lifted to my ears by the wind.

And from somewhere, I heard a wolf howl.

I paused for moment to take a drink from my canteen. The last swig of water contained within passed through my lips like a whisper. It barely touched the thirst that was within me. The dryness that spread throughout my body had less to do with sweat or dehydration and more to do with a need I did not want to put in words.

The guides and the witch doctors who had told me how to find this place had also warned me. They had warned me of the growing thirst in my body that would become a physical need. A need that had propelled me through the humid jungle nights to these steps. A need that could only met by the queen of the Pyramid herself.

I knew she was waiting there in the shadows of the main, upper chamber. The night air had the taste of her ritual and her madness. The heavy air bore the scent of her into my nostrils like an obscene perfume, damp and earthy, a touch of evergreen in the passing.

The memory of her scent brought renewed vigor to my tired legs. With a final surge, I made my way up the final steps to the Pyramid’s apex.

The rising moon’s light became muted as I made my way under the Pyramid’s archways. The semi-darkness that greeted me was punctuated with flicking flame from the torches on the wall.

I stood a moment to see my reflection on the surface of the smoothly polished walls. I saw myself bent and distorted by the curvature of the stone, like some underwater creature viewed from the surface of a turbulent sea. My brown hair showed a hint of grey at the edges and my eyes, usually the color of the sea, looked pale and washed out in the glasslike wall. A wild, stringy beard was forming on my cheeks and chin. A sad consequence of my journey away from civilization.

I marveled at myself. Only months before, I had been a respected, reputable man of industry having left my beloved Corsica to make my fortune in the newly reformed republic of Mexico. The new overlords of the country, eager to quench the smoldering fires of the revolution, rushed to embrace the progress that came with my building projects.

It was there where I first found her. In the ancient remnants of Tenochtitlan, underneath Mexico City, my workers and I found her chamber. It had waited buried and undisturbed for nearly five hundred years. The superstitious amongst my workers fear to enter into what they called in Spanish La Morada de Diosa de Bestia: The Abode of the Goddess of Beasts.

I dismissed their fears, entering into the chamber to prove myself a modern man, a man of reason. It was there I came into her presence. Not merely a feeling, but a taste, a smell of something forgotten and buried. Something ancient and primal. A presence that spoke of wild nights of bloody sacrifice and the sound of howling wolves.

For months I poured over the legends and the histories of the goddess, delving into a ritual that predated the landing of the Conquistadors by centuries. I forgot all other pursuits, my business concerns, my social standing, my family obligations. To me, the goddess was all.

The stories and rumors eventually lead me here to the Island of Blood, the last known stronghold of the Queen of Wolves. Here into the chamber of her worship.

In the side of my vision, there are glimpses of animal shapes, loping on all fours through the chamber’s corridors. This night she had gathered her children to her. To bear witness to the task for which I had been summoned.

A few more weary steps brought me to the altar. I stopped to run my hands over the smoothed stone of its black surface. The grooves and indentions all told a story to me. A story of pain and passion, of lives given and lives taken. A story old when the salons and cathedrals of Europe were young. A story written in bloody, dark stones.

All of it whispered to me while I stood there. Again in the rippling stones of its surface I saw myself transfixed by its power, seduced by its mysteries.

“What do you see there in the stones?” echoed a woman’s voice from the chamber’s darkness. “A man? Or a monster?”

The dry roof of my mouth almost prevented me from forming words.

“I… I,” I began. “I don‘t know…”

“Really, my love?” said the voice from the dark, lingering over the last syllables in her phrase with a mocking joy. “Do you know what means? To come to me in my temple underneath the fullness of the moon?”

“Yes, I do,” I said.

I heard the sound of footsteps moving purposely over stone.

“Are you truly ready Jean Martin Samael?” said her voice as it came closer to me. “Are you ready to give yourself upon this altar to me without reservation? Are you prepared to throw away your reputation, your standing, your veneer of civility to have me? Only me?”

The dryness in my mouth was unbearable. The sound of her voice alone brought my body alive with the touch of fire and ice, from the tip of head into the depths of my groin.

“Yes!” I heard my voice calling out into the humid air. “I give the only worthy sacrifice to your greatness. Myself!”

The queen entered the chamber in the fire light, her violet eyes piercing the shadows.

I saw her taught, sculpted body was covered only by the burgundy robe given to the Pyramid’s high priestess. Her hair blossomed dark against her pale creamy skin like dyed silk. Above the robe’s clasp was her string of pearls, which glittered as dark as the night skies above.

I could see the shape of her erect nipples against the fabric of her robe and her coal-painted fingertips hovered on her stomach just above the form of her trimmed vagina.

As she walked toward me, her lips beckoned a bloody red smile against her white teeth. Without the need of words, I heard my name whispered in her eyes.

She came to a halt in front of me, our bodies almost touching. With a single motion she brought the robe’s clasp undone and let it fall from her shoulders.

She stood a moment there in front of me, unveiled in the half-light, the perfection of her pear-shaped bosoms framed in my eyes. Against the nature my desire, I wondered about the fate of those who had beheld this sight across the centuries.

Her smile was wicked and her eyes danced with a darkly held desire. A desire chained and held to Earth by flesh of our bodies. Then her hands were at my chest, disposing of my coat and undoing my shirt with shredding of fabric and thread.

I felt her lips across my chest, lingering over my nipples with her tongue. In the next moment, her hand fell downward to my belt buckle and pants. With a girlish giggle, she slid to the floor on her knees.

With her nimble hands, she worked the belt and pants to the floor to reveal my erect penis. I felt the touch of her lips to its tip, joyfully rolling her tongue across its edges. With her right hand, she firmly stroked the base of it further into her mouth. Her left hand applied a light caress of my scrotum, following the course of my erection as it continued to grow against the top of her mouth.

The power of her action left me groaning and weak. I could myself building and surging towards letting go. But in manner of a woman who knew all the forms of erotic cruelty, she took her lips away from her task, sliding her body up against mine until our lips met in passion.

The same tongue that had given pleasure to one part of my body rolled and turned through my mouth like a tidal wave. Then, with a firm push to my chest, she moved away from me to lie on the altar.

Again, she exposed her full body to me, displayed against the cold stone surface of the altar. She held me in place with her eyes, reaching down again to touch herself, not allowing me to release my lust.

With the laugh of an imp, she turned herself over on the slab, showing to me her naked bottom and the wolfs-head brand on the small of back.

Arching her back, she brought her backside against me, letting the smooth texture of her bottom meet my penis. As I took hold of her waist, I felt the damp touch of her vaginal walls encircle my member. A sucking gasp escaped her lips.

“Fuck me,” she demanded.

I let myself enter her. The world became a sensation of thrusting and moaning, both hers and mine. The touch of her against my body spurred me faster and harder until the chamber came alive with the sound of our slapping bodies. The scent of damp evergreen rose in my nostrils until I could remember no other thing.

Somewhere underneath me, I heard her voice repeating the same two words of before, the form of them building and rising with her excitement.

Then I heard another voice joining in with her. A distant sounding man’s voice, almost like my voice but filled with a passion I had never felt before. And that voice was close to climax, meeting passion with passion, fire with fire.

I felt myself let go with a release of ice, surging past boundaries of flesh and gravity to enter into the core of her being. The queen’s body tensed, grabbing my organ with her inner walls, receiving my worship to her with an overwhelming joy.

I heard her cry out once more and then release me. The last of my strength gone, I fell to her side on the cool stones of the altar.

After a moment of gasping and heaving, I felt the presence of her lips next my ear.

“It’s done, my love,” she said with the wind of her breath against my face, her body damp with the sweat of our passion. “You, of your own free will have come to the queen of the Black Pyramid and worshiped her body and soul under the light of the full moon. Now, and forever, you are mine.”

The weight of my deeds rested alongside the euphoria of my climax. I knew what she was saying and I knew it to be true. But I no longer cared about that. I had found her. She was mine. And I was hers.

Ven, mi amor,” she said, beckoning me to my feet with an outstretched hand. “Come and see what I have prepared for you.”

Rising, I followed her from the chamber into the adjoining throne room. There, on the raised dais, sat two thrones side by side, made of human bones. They shone like pale death in the filtered moonlight. Before the dais were the rows of her assembled subjects, the creatures of the night come to pay homage to the throne of the queen and her chosen mate.

We ascended the steps to take our place amongst our kingdom, playing the role master and mistress to the dregs of darkness.

“Now and forever, you belong to me,” said my dark queen as she stroked my cheek. “The outside world will no longer touch you. No longer will you fear or doubt. The only things that exist in your world now are the icy touch of my body, the sound of my voice, the caress of my lips.”

With that said, I took another taste of her red painted lips, the sharp taste of evergreen remaining in my mouth.

Before me on the floor of the throne room was the torn remnants of the night’s prey. Whatever it had been, human or animal now lay mangled in the half-light. It shone bloody in my eyes, the smell of it filling my nostrils and the copper taste of it already in my mouth. Against the sides of my tongue, I could feel tips of my incisors sharpening in anticipation of my lover’s feast.

“Now, my love,” whispered my queen. “Arise and eat.”

Somewhere in the darkness, I heard the growl of an animal which transformed into a howl. The sound of a beast full of rage and passion. A monster lost forever to the cold embrace of the Queen of the Black Pyramid.

Far, far too late, after my body was full of blood and flesh, I came to understand that the cry of the beast had been my very own.

Lilly White By Madeleine Pryze

Lilly looks up at a mansion of sandstone and leaded glass. Birds tweet nearby. When Lilly moves, the gravel whispers beneath her feet.

She mounts the well-worn step and reaches for the knocker. It has a peculiar shape that she can’t decipher – a bow on its side? A handlebar moustache? It makes a noise like any other knocker.

Lilly waits in the aural ocean of rustling leaves.

She starts to wonder if she has the right estate.

How long must one wait before it is no longer rude to knock again?

The door opens. It is Genevieve Reynolds, beaming from ear to ear. “Sorry I left you for so long, our manservant is on his weekend at home! Come in!

Genevieve moves like a dancer; her feet don’t make any sound on the polished chessboard of the long hallway. This is the sister of the man I’m supposed to meet? Lilly thinks. Mother wouldn’t set me up with anyone less than a proper gentleman…

“I was making a cool drink, would you like one?”

“Please.” Lilly follows.

From what must be the kitchen, Genevieve calls, “I’m dreadfully sorry that Sebastian and Bertie aren’t here. They knew we were to dine early but they’re still on one of their silly hunts in the woods. Three guesses who shall have to wash the muzzles of all the hounds when they return!”

“I can’t abide fox hunting. Those poor animals.”

In the kitchen, Lilly is passed a glass of fresh orange juice. She sips it; the glass is cold and the juice delicious, slipping down her throat.

When she lowers her glass, Genevieve is looking at her intently. “You have a lovely neck. The gown last night failed to show it off.”

Lilly swallows the last of the juice. “Maybe that’s why none of those eligible bachelors took a shine to me.”

“Oh, you don’t want any of those little boys. Debutante balls aren’t the matchmaking wonders that our parents would wish them to be. There just aren’t many ripe apples left around here anymore. Look at me, twenty-three and not married! I’m a spinster!”

She laughs, and Lilly watches her. This young woman has so much confidence, so much poise. She is so very womanly, and yet not girlish at all. Genevieve is utterly at peace with herself.

“I wondered at your accent,” Lilly reveals, “until you told me your name.”

“Mother was French. Sebastian allowed it. He was a rogue, to find himself a Parisian bride and drag her back here once I was born! You know, he wanted to pass me off as an orphaned niece? The things people feel they have to say to fit in! England is a stuffy old place, isn’t it?”

Lilly opens her mouth to speak, but doesn’t get the chance.

“I say, have you ever heard of a French gentleman named Manet? He wasn’t stuffy in the slightest. You know, he painted the filthiest picture of this girl Olympia, who was an honest-to-goodness—” She looks around conspiratorially, “—fille de joie!”

“A what?”

“A… professional, a… lady of the night!”

“Oh!”

“It was downright blasphemous,” giggles Genevieve, and leans back with her arms pushing up her breasts, blowing a kiss up to the heavens and fluttering her eyelashes.

Scandalous! Lilly thinks, but at the same time feels a trill of excitement run up her body at the naughtiness of it all. And Genevieve goes on:

“Of course your father is fun, isn’t he! I don’t think I’ve ever seen Sebastian laugh so much, not since Mother died.”

“You call him by his given name?”

A brown newt runs under a door that joins the kitchen to the garden. It tastes the air, turns around on its hooked toes, then hides in the cool shade of the iron oven.

“Father and I don’t … understand one another. We are very different. I am much more like my mother, and he didn’t understand her much either.”

“How so?” asks Lilly, and immediately regrets the question. Who is she to ask anything of this young woman, who she hardly knows and met less than twenty hours ago? To interrogate a stranger in their own home…!

Genevieve takes a glance through the window at the verdant orchard outside. The newt dashes away from her feet and escapes the way it came in with a papery rustle.

“Sebastian and Bertie could be hours. Let’s go upstairs – I want to show you something!”

A girlish pleasure takes over Lilly. She never had a sister and her mother kept away anyone who could have become a close girlfriend. To see Genevieve’s excitement is to be infected by it; together they dash, giggling, up the huge sweeping staircase that takes them from the hallway to the upper landing.

“The east wing,” says Genevieve, checking the degree of dust on a door knob before entrusting her white glove to it, “is where we keep our skeletons.”

She looks Lilly in the eye. “You aren’t scared of ghosts, are you?”

Lilly shivers.

Genevieve laughs a deep, booming laugh and slaps Lilly on the shoulder. “Come on, I’m teasing! Follow me!”

The door opens into a long corridor lit from the right by dozens of sash windows. The left side is a wall of paintings – landscapes of exotic places Lilly recognise as Prague, Paris, the Nile in Egypt – interrupted occasionally by mahogany panelled doors, all closed.

The last door in the hallway is the one that Genevieve stops by. “This was my mother’s private study. Sebastian wasn’t expressly forbidden to enter it, but… Well, I don’t think he was always comfortable here. Or wanted to think about her amongst all these things.”

Genevieve opens the door with a strange expression on her face: excitement? Or apprehension? Is it possible for it to be both at the same time? Lilly doesn’t know, but at first she is confused when she steps into the room behind Genevieve.

It looks just like a normal room. A bed, some cabinets, and two tall bookcases against the left wall. To the right, a small table in each corner display sets of curios in wood, glass and bronze. The walls are otherwise occupied by paintings and photographic portraits, an array of sepia and oil.

In all respects perfectly normal.

“I don’t…” Lilly begins, then tapers off. Genevieve is examining a large painting beside the door, positioned so that the light from the windows frames it perfectly. The painting is about as big as the door itself, produced landscape and gilded in gold-leaf wood.

In the picture, a woman lays on an untidy bed. At first, Lilly mistakes it for Titian’s Sleeping Venus, the classical depiction of that most famous Roman goddess. But in this painting, “Venus” has a bracelet, a choker, pearl earrings, and in her demeanour has something else… Something in her gaze that marks her out as different. A knowable, even forgivable sin. Everything in the picture gives off a sumptuousness: the flower in her hair, and the rich oriental blanket on which she lies.

“She is cast in such hard light,” Lilly murmurs. “It shows everything except what she covers with her hand…”

“A shame she does that, yes?” suggests Genevieve, with laughter in her voice. “That isn’t a lilly behind her ear, before you ask – a white orchid.”

Suddenly it strikes Lilly. This isn’t Venus at all – but Genevieve’s fille de joie – a prostitute!

“She’s…” Lilly chokes on the word.

“She is a real woman.” Genevieve looks with deep appreciation at the picture. “But the painting is a copy only – the original has yet to even be put on display to the public. What a stir it will cause in Paris!”

Lilly’s eye catches a small portrait next to it, rendered in rich oils. Another nude, but this lady laced in the most outrageous manner, as though those loose shifts were never intended to cover her nakedness at all! And a third picture, a photograph in smudgy sepia, of a thin young girl putting on – or taking off – her stockings. She is otherwise naked. Her lips are painted bright red; there is a wink in her eye.

“Pornography!” Lilly is embarrassed by having to state the obvious, but she cannot help it. “The police…”

“They don’t know anything about this room. It was Mother’s interest and no-one else’s business. Sebastian was very… generous to let her maintain this hobby of hers.”

Every painting, every photograph – even the lamp, which is shaped like a man’s… The size of it! And the clock on the table, with moving hands tracing invisible lines over the contours of a couple engaged in—

“I must sit down!”

Genevieve smiles as Lilly sits in a velvet-lined armchair. She hands Lilly a fan, which Lilly opens to prevent herself from fainting. The image inked into the folds is another nude woman, wearing a fur hat and covering herself with a fur glove.

“Don’t look at it,” Genevieve scratches her temple, “if that helps. Or the chair…”

Lilly’s hands grasp tighter at the chair’s arms. She daren’t look down, but she isn’t in control of her head, which swims with cool vapours. The rich velvet of the seat’s covering seems maroon at a glance, but is shades of red. In the swirls of its pattern are tiny running figures, boys and girls, grinning as they’re chased by obscene fauns and satyrs with engorged…

“My goodness.”

“Are you okay?”

Lilly takes a breath. “I’m fine. This is quite a shock. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

“Isn’t it fabulous?” breathes Genevieve. When she talks about these things, her accent thickens. This must be a little like how her mother sounded when she spoke, thinks Lilly.

…Her mother!

“This room was hers, you say? Your mother’s?”

A smile spreads like wildfire across the young woman’s soft features. “She had an interest in archaeology, much like Sebastian. But their interest diverged there, I’m afraid. Sebastian was there in Pompeii a few years ago.”

“That buried Italian city? Father mentioned it last summer…”

“They found all the buildings that those poor people lived in, right before the volcano blew up in their faces! The houses were preserved with people and furniture and all their things… Those excavators are there right now, scraping ash off the wall to reveal all their frescos and graffiti and… all sorts. Do you know what else they found?”

“I dread to ask!” Lilly gasps and then, despite herself, giggles.

“Disgusting drawings and paintings and murals, all with people doing it!

“That’s terrible!”

“The ancient Romans evidently had a different view on nakedness. They thought it was just ordinary… even fun. Not shameful at all. Eroticism was a good thing, for them – not illegal blasphemy like our good Queen would have us believe. Why, it’s the most natural thing in the world!”

A series of loud noises erupts from the lower floors.

“Sebastian!” Genevieve gasps. “And Bertie! They’re back! Come on!”

Giggling, the two girls return to the hallway. Lilly is almost sorry to leave the soft velvet of the chair, even with its hidden erotic images. It is only when she stands that she realises the arms, which she’d been holding so tightly, are the ends of long, smooth phalluses.

Genevieve pulls the doors closed and messes with her hair again. “Sebastian doesn’t like me going in there. It’s forbidden! I’ll tell him we were in the solarium…”

Downstairs, the men claim to have forgotten all about the arranged dinner, and certain distinct gestures belie their attempts to hide the numerous nips they must have had from flasks concealed about their persons; Bertie has, according to his father, suffered a fall as a result of a desperate vixen and sprained his ankle. Dinner is called off; Genevieve apologies profusely, but her words hide the pleasure at being the main attraction of the afternoon, and she winks as Lilly makes her departure.

Outside, Lilly wonders whether she should ask Sebastian Reynolds to arrange for her a carriage. It wouldn’t be out of order. But just as she is waiting in the gravel for her overwrought mind to make a decision, the front door opens again and Genevieve slips out.

“I wanted to give you this,” she exclaims, “but didn’t want Sebastian to see!”

Before Lilly can protest the young woman plants a decorous kiss on her cheek. The lipstick might not have left a mark, but the warmth remains.

As Genevieve disappears back into the house, Lilly looks down at the package in her hands. It is a large book, wrapped in soft red felt.

# # #

“How was Sebastian’s lot?” asks Lilly’s father upon her return.

“Very nice, father, and quote accommodating.”

“Did they show you a good time?”

Lilly thinks about this.

“I think they were holding back a little.”

# # #

That night, she undresses and dons her nightdress to sleep. Her bedroom is a small, lonely room in eggshell white and forest green, like her eyes. It hasn’t been redecorated since her birth. When she sleeps, she feels as though her four-poster bed is a cot and she sleeps within, like a child, protected.

She doesn’t go to sleep immediately. Lighting an oil lamp, she intends to study her gift from Genevieve. The weight and shape of the package have already revealed it to be a book, but it’s only when she unwraps it that she realises it’s something the like of which she’s never seen.

Leather-bound with no title, at first she wonders if it’s a portfolio of newssheet clippings… but upon opening it, she’s greeted with a lurid inner title page with words drawn laterally across a pair of full, round breasts.

She closes the book with a slap. The afterimage of the etching print fails to fade in her mind’s eye. White on black, it throbs in her mind: two full, round breasts. A matching pair. Nipples described in fine detail, areola and all.

Why would she give me something like this…?

Slowly, convinced that she is alone (as always) in her bedroom, she opens the book again.

The title page stares at her from atop those curved profanities. A LITHOGRAPHIC PORTFOLIO OF THE LADIES OF THE MOULIN ROUGE, PARIS. The inner pages are in turn fascinating, disgusting and exhilarating. Each lithograph, reproduced expensively yet faithfully on each of the heavy pages, produces a new frisson of excitement in Lilly.

All the portraits are women, many of whom are clearly, almost stereotypically French. They are arranged into “scenes”, each “scene” encompassing nine or ten lithographs. The first is named “1840-1845”, and seems to show a different age. But the things that don’t change are voluptuous and in sharp focus: an erect nipple or tuft of hair.

And yet, Lilly finds this not as shocking as she thought she might. Have I been corrupted so quickly?

The last section covers 1960-1864 – the book is very recent indeed – and she is stunned to find that she recognises one of the last girls.

Two pages from the back, a young blonde is reclined against a mountain of cushions. One arm is wrapped around a tall narrow bottle of green glass, whose label has been scraped away and replaced with a small card reading “GREENE MUSE”. The bottle is empty; the girl is entirely naked. Her fingernails are painted green. Her legs are spread and between them, the fingers of her right hand part the lips of her womanhood, exposing its purple depths to both the photographer and the reader.

Lilly drops the book down the side of the bed, but an afterimage of the girl’s magnetic gaze lingers in her mind.

…Genevieve!

She stares at the discoloured images within its pages, wondering at the decency of what one person might call evil, what another might call natural. How can it be anything but natural? she thinks, and jumps at something under her nightdress.

She had wondered if it were an animal – the newt from Genevieve’s kitchen springs to mind – but is shocked to find that it was her own hand. She hadn’t realised what it was doing, of its own accord. The thought occurs that she could turn a blind eye to its antics. What happens behind closed doors, in one’s own bedroom, is of course utterly private.

Mimicking, in part, the posture of Genevieve of the Moulin Rouge, 1965, Lilly allows her fingers to explore a place that had, until then, been a void of wickedness to be covered up. She finds that if this is a void, it is filled not with wickedness, but deliciousness to be savoured.

What would Genevieve think of this? she wonders, and this thought quickens her breath, quickens her wrist, quickens her first arrival of the night.

# # #

Lilly has never seen the room where Genevieve sleeps. Genevieve confesses that it bears no imprint of her personality. It is, she says, just another room.

The next time they get the chance to be together, it is November. They go instead to the secret museum of her mother, which they discover is now locked.

“My father,” muses Genevieve, fishing about in her purse. “He must have known I was in here and locked it. But I had John create me a replica.”

She produces the key from her purse with a wicked grin. Lilly’s heart leaps. You know what is in here. Lilly can’t wait for Genevieve to sweep open the door and close it behind them, sealing the boundary of their privacy. You know that this is the threshold to more than just a room.

They steps inside. When Lilly asks if they can open a window, she does so in a whisper that Genevieve teases her for.

“No-one is home, Lilly, and nor will they be until the early hours of the morning.”

“You are sure?”

“I am.” She drops her purse into the velvet-lined armchair that had been the vessel for Lilly’s introduction to this new world. Even seeing it now makes Lilly feel light-headed, as though the miniature figures frolicking within the stitches of the velvet are visions of her future.

Lilly takes her eyes from the chair and the purse and settle them on Genevieve, who looks right back at her. Without severing the link between their eyes, Genevieve peels loose the ribbon that keeps her hair in place. Blonde coils unravel around her face and neck, bouncing on her shoulders.

She turns around.

Lilly sees the laces of her dress. Her hands have a life of their own. They find the bow and untangle its strands. The laces hang free. Without turning, Genevieve pinches the shoulders of her dress and spreads the fabric. The laces loosen, slipping from the eyes of the rich fabric, which then slides free from the delicate scaffold of Genevieve’s shoulders.

She turns within the sliding cylinder of the dress. It drops as she reaches up, running her fingers through her hair. When the dress is a velvet puddle around her feet, there is only Genevieve’s bodice and stockings. There is no skirt support or bustle, no under-petticoat.

“I am overdressed,” says Lilly, embarrassed. It could take an age for her to reach Genevieve’s state of bareness.

“Layers,” replies Genevieve, “are like hor d’oeuvres.”

“Whore’s what…?” Lilly’s smile, she hopes, is voracious.

Genevieve takes her time with Lilly’s dress. The outer layer is peeled away, then a silky under-petticoat, then the crinoline. It rests on its curved wires in the corner of the room, quivering, as Genevieve tackles Lilly’s corset.

“When this is removed,” says the voice behind Lilly, “you shall breathe a new air.”

“I know it.”

“And I… shall keep the lace as a bracelet.”

Lilly giggles as the corset breaks open like a pecan shell. There is little loose flesh to sag free; she gasps as two slim hands arrive under her chemise and stroke the ticklish lines of her waist.

“I want,” breathes Genevieve, “to lay my lips on this white skin.”

Lilly murmurs, “I want to let you.”

But her heart beats in her chest like a drum. Genevieve admits to hearing it and guides her to the bed. “Lie here. Don’t worry. One does not need to be afraid when one knows the procedures are in the hands of an experienced professional.”

“A professional like your Olympia?” Lilly teases.

“If I were,” Genevieve drapes herself over Lilly in a single fluid motion, “I should be far richer than I am.”

The girl on top works her fingers into the neck of Lilly’s chemise. Its hem dips between her breasts; so do the girl’s fingers, which stroke lines that Lilly can feel like they were scored with a knife. Those lines burn as Genevieve describes new ones, down the curve of each breast, then up, then between her prominent collar bones, where Genevieve kisses, taking Lilly’s breath away.

The chemise comes away and flutters to the burgundy carpet. Genevieve’s breath trickles over her nipples. They stiffen; Lilly murmurs something unintelligible; muscles contract within her that she has rarely exercised.

“May I?” whispers Genevieve, with her fingers hooked into the hem of Lilly’s drawers.

“Don’t ask me. Undress me.”

Are those my words? Lilly wonders, squeezing her eyes tightly shut. Without this sense, another has room to grow: she gasps at every kiss that is imprinted on her breasts, stomach, the curve of her pelvis. Genevieve’s fingers stroke her as they tug the drawers away. Lilly has never been naked with anyone but Orpha, many years ago. And yet I’m not nervous, or—

A warm kiss, directly on her sex, throws all words from her mind.

It was brief, but the warmth remains. In fact, a fire has swept through Lilly’s loins and stomach. She opens her eyes to see Genevieve kneeling over her, her thighs forming an arch over Lilly’s belly. Sunlight streams behind her and through her hair.

A nightingale alights the windowsill and trills in two voices. The sunlight appears to brighten.

Lilly is reaching up to run her hands over Genevieve’s elaborately decorated bodice. It is deep blue, bone-ribbed, and adorned with silver birds and butterflies sewn into the silk. Similar butterflies made of ribbon are attached to the garters; the suspenders are silken elastic that Lilly slides her fingers beneath to grasp Genevieve’s hard thighs.

“The stockings are from Paris,” intones Genevieve, biting her lip, “the bodice is haute couture from Worth and Bobergh. I have never worn it.”

“It’s beautiful.”

“Unclip the stockings.”

The clips are tiny silver hourglasses. The elasticised blue silk springs back and in a sudden, elegant movement, Genevieve is no longer on her knees but on her back between Lilly’s legs, with her own legs straight as arrows up in the air; the stockings are peeled away in a second, revealing white lustrous skin and ankles like pearls.

When Genevieve coils into a sideways sitting position beside Lilly, it is a momentary ballet that is less seen than existing only as an afterimage in the mind’s eye.

“You’re like a dancer,” breathes Lilly.

“I was a dancer. But not the kind you’ve ever seen.”

She is over Lilly now, her hair tickling Lilly’s face, arms planted either side. Over her shoulder, Genevieve’s bodice is seen to shrink and disappear between the orbs of her pale buttocks.

Lilly cannot admire them for long. Genevieve’s kiss is long and hot. Before Lilly knows what is happening a tongue is snaking into her mouth, and its muscular intrusion arouses her intensely. She responds, and their tongues intertwine.

Then Genevieve rolls aside, onto her back. Her eyes stare upward at the roof of the bed, and her hands rest palms-up beside her face. Lilly understands that she is to do something, so she moves onto her side and slowly unfastens the front of the bodice. Its laces are tight but once the clasp and first knot are out of the way, they loosen themselves so that a pale strip of flesh is shown: Genevieve’s sternum, her belly button, a tuft of blonde public hair.

The bodice is spread. Only the garters remain. “You can leave them on, if you like.” Lilly’s mind reels from the lessons she is learning, lessons she had never expected.

Then Genevieve is pulling her close, with the bodice opening like a flower to admit both their slim lengths. Two hot bellies press against each other, transferring warmth. Each girl feels the other’s nipples as small hard objects between them.

“Let me—” begins Genevieve, but she needn’t finish. Lilly has already made enough space between them for Genevieve’s slender arm to lower. Just like the time in the bath, her expert fingers both spread Lilly and touch the soft flesh between the folds. Her longest finger strokes slowly, slowly, and when it encounters moisture, enters.

Lilly feels herself close around the finger. It is slick enough to move in and out even under the pressure of Lilly’s muscles. Genevieve knows when to crook the finger and when to straighten; it is as though she draws shapes on Lilly’s inner wall, inveigling powerful jolts of pleasure.

Another kiss, this quicker and harder than the first. Between their pressed lips Genevieve breathes, “Do me.” Lilly’s hand is already groping embarrassingly at Genevieve’s flat stomach, now slick with sweat, in its attempt to find another place.

There: it has found it. Lilly hasn’t learnt the configuration that will allow her outer fingers to spread and inner finger to stroke, so she uses two to furrow through Genevieve’s soft down, and then the softer silken passage beneath.

Genevieve gasps; Lilly lets the gasp become a kiss, and they are breathing each other’s air, breathing each other, their gasps their breaths.

The speed of it shocks Lilly. Not already! She contracts and her whole body wants to curl toward the sensation quickly building in her loins. She cries out, sheets sticking to her bucking body, and comes hard in waves. A spurt of clear fluid jumps between Genevieve’s fingers, and she giggles naughtily.

Shocked, Lilly pulls back. “Is that not normal!?”

“It is for some girls.” Genevieve licks juices that are running down the side of her hand. “You taste delicious.”

“You are positively filthy!”

“I am told I taste sweet.” It is an invitation. Genevieve waits for instruction, a look of amused patience on her face. Nervous and unsure, Lilly says, “You could kneel.”

“Would that be nice?” teases Genevieve.

“You tell me!”

Genevieve rises to her knees and throws aside the bodice, which has collected their sweat. Upright, her body is lithe and very slender. Her ribs are just discernible down her side. The arc of her clavicle, the sweep of her underarm down to her breast, is exquisite to Lilly.

Slowly, almost excruciatingly slowly, Genevieve kneels. She dips her back and elevates her buttocks, which – I can’t! But I want to… – Lilly nips with her teeth, eliciting a gasp and a giggle. Genevieve’s small but shapely breasts hang like ripe fruit. Lilly cups them in her hands. To do this she must press her thighs against Genevieve’s, her pubis against her exposed sex.

“Your body is so hot,” whispers the kneeling girl. The girl behind relishes the weight of the breasts in her palms, admiring the stunning beauty of the one who is almost prostrate before her.

Lilly is jealous of this girl’s beauty and sexiness. But she is pleased, empowered, by the thought that she owns that beauty and sexiness.

“You are mine,” she whispers, unintentionally, and then winces when she feels Genevieve’s body tense. Genevieve does not look around. Then she lowers her stomach again and shifts her balance, so that she can use one hand to brush her hair away from one side of her face.

There is a smile there.

Lilly breathes a sigh of relief. Thank goodness!

“Yes,” Genevieve replies, pouting. “I am.”

Unexpectedly, there is no puzzle about approaching Genevieve here, no mystery of how to unlock the potential pleasure awaiting in this engorged diamond of pink flesh. It seems natural for Lilly to take it in her mouth as though drinking from a small jug, and sucking gently.

This elicits an immediate gasp and low moan from Genevieve. Lilly smiles, and this reshaping of her lips produces further effects. It’s working… She uses her tongue to lap at this supple cup, exciting the outside as well as the inside. Genevieve is breathing hard; she has rebalanced again so that she can massage her breast with her right hand.

By the window, the nightingale chirrups and flutters away.

Lilly has to control herself. The greatest pleasures that Genevieve has shown her were derived from patience and tenderness. She will not suck too hard; she will not employ a finger her when her tongue will do.

It seems to work. Genevieve pressed her body into Lilly’s face, and for a panicky moment Lilly cannot breathe; then there is a hot rush of thick liquid on her tongue and yes, Genevieve hadn’t lied: she tastes very sweet.

# # #

It is the eighth day of September 1866 and today is Lilly’s birthday.

A gift in a small box awaits her between plat principal and dessert. She deftly pulls aside the ribbon – she has become an expert in using her fingers deftly – and lifts off the tiny round lid. Within the box is a necklace: a small bird, in flight, on a silver chain.

“Genevieve, it’s beautiful.”

“There was a bird in my mother’s room,” Genevieve purses her lips to receive her wine glass, “the first time we were together.”

“I hadn’t thought you’d noticed!”

Genevieve swallows crisp white Sauvignon Blanc. “Of course I noticed.”

“Thank you.”

The maître d” is correcting someone’s order, “Il n’y aura pas de charge, bien sûr,” and a waiter tops up somebody else’s glass. The clatter of crockery and cutlery is audible only when the kitchen doors swing open.

“You look sad,” Genevieve observes.

“Sometimes my mother would buy me gifts like this.”

“I understand. But your mother only wanted to show you her world. She wouldn’t have stood for me showing you another.”

Lilly nods. “Perfectly true.” She smiles. “Whereas yours…?”

“Mine,” says Genevieve, raising her glass, “would be willing me back to our apartment to bathe and then…”

“And then?”

Genevieve bites her lip. “I would like to see you wear your gift. And nothing else.”

A laugh cuts through Lilly’s sadness. It always does. Genevieve is always the one to do this: her tutor, her lover, her guiding star. The orange light of dusk strikes the curve of Genevieve’s face, and Lilly thinks, she is everything I want to be.

The Cost That Lies Between Heaven and Earth By Matt Piskun

The sweet perfume wafting from the grape vines was strong that morning, making one dizzy despite the fruits lack of fermentation. Isabella studied the figure before her, its features hidden in the shadows of the mid-summer sun.

“Do you know what it means to call me, child?” The beast’s growl was deep and rhythmic.

“I do.” Isabella was not afraid. The young girl moved slowly forward, struggling to contain the anxiousness brimming inside her.

“I sense a kind heart in you. It is merely buried under several layers of venial sins. Why do you seek me? ”

“My brother, Henry, has stolen my inheritance left to me by my father, the King.” Her olive eyes narrowed. “He leaves me with nothing. Am I to beg for crusts of bread? Furthermore, the family fool, Alfonzo now threatens my path to the throne. Spain is my birthright, but he desires it as his own and would toss me aside as one would a barren cow.”

Sensing her ambition the figure in the shadows smiled, its breathing now faster. “I don’t know if I’m drunk from the nectar that drips off these vines, but I think I am falling in love with you, child.”

Isabella’s cheeks flushed pink as she moved toward him. “Let me see your face.”

Emerging from the darkness came a young male demon. The sunlight made his skin, the color of ripe plum flesh, all the more brilliant. He was slender and muscular with two small horn buds protruding from his forehead. Two majestic wings of burgundy leather were folded neatly behind his back.

Isabella smiled and extended her hand to be kissed.

“I may be a youthful demon but I am no fool. I can help you reach the throne.” He looked into her eyes of lime-colored sea and knew this was what she was waiting for. “Although royal blood may course through your nubile body, it’s you who will be subservient to me.” The young hell-spawn spread his great wings and hovered above her.

Isabella took pause. She had vowed to never let any man hold dominion over her. Surrounded by incompetent males trying to prevent her ascent to the throne, she knew in her heart that she would still one day be queen and any man that was lucky enough would be her king. However, this was no mere man that floated above the earth before her. A feeling spread through her that she’d never known before. An ember of admiration and desire lit inside Isabella and the beating of leather wings now fanned it to flames. Isabella took a knee and bowed before his floating body.

“Save yourself for me, girl.” He grabbed hold of his horns. “When you become a woman I will come back for you. It is with your first blood that we will consummate our arrangement.”

Isabella, looked up into the swirling ash of his eyes and told him, “For my rightful place, I will wait for you…”

“Ingot, my name is Ingot.” With that being said he sailed up above the clouds and out of sight as Isabella clutched her pounding heart.

# # #

Father Juan de Valera watched with pursed lips, shaking his head back and forth. He pulled his beard, dotted with black hairs drowning in a chaotic sea of grey, into a fine point. His queen spoke through clenched teeth of sheen ivory and cruelty.

“Whore!”

A young woman kneels before her, nude and covered in binding chains. Long, red hair sticks to her face as she trembles with fear.

“I can smell your sex, that which you give so freely and without commitment from God. Whip her again!”

The high priest, whose fat and swollen face is hidden beneath a brown hood, cracks his whip. It sounds like thunder and the young girl whimpers as the lashes tear thin, scarlet lines into her milk-white flesh.

“Again!” Isabella commands, her fist raised.

The priest snaps his whip repeatedly and the wooden cross hanging from his neck swings back and forth wildly. Large droplets of sweat fly from the darkness of his hood.

Every cry from the naked girl elicits a small burst of excitement from Isabella. She presses her thighs together tightly, enjoying the hot pleasure building between her legs. When she can no longer endure the mounting desire she commands the high priest to take the girl away and convert her to God. “If she does not admit to believing, make her do so! Spare not one inch of her!” A sweaty smile spreads beneath the hood of the priest.

Isabella, Queen of Spain, tries to hide her lust as she speaks but her eyes, wild with desire expose her growing passion. “I’ll pray for your success, priest.” Father de Valera, his tanned and wizened face looking all the more angular from his sharpened beard, watches as she turns and enters her private quarters. He makes the sign of the cross, whispering the names of the holy trinity as he turns to leave, unseen.

Closing the door behind her, the Queen loosens then drops the purple ceremonial robe she wears exposing her scarred skin. A myriad of criss-crossing magenta scars decorate her breasts and abdomen. She runs her hands over them and shudders as her fingertips play with the grooves in her skin.

“I yearn for you,” Isabella moans. A small flame deep inside her flickers, reminding her of the first time she laid eyes upon him. She thinks back to that day as a young girl in her garden, but she can no longer remember the sweet smell of the flowering vines.

# # #

Her scars writhe as if alive in the candlelight that illuminates her bedroom. Ingot sits in a chair with his arms resting on his now sizeable belly.

“You are a wicked woman, Bella.”

“I need satisfaction, my lord.” Isabella kneels before him.

Ingot stands and strokes the great, curved horns that sit upon his head. “So be it.”

She takes the demon’s member in her mouth and works it feverishly until her pleasing him results in the monster’s orgasm. He releases his semen upon her chest and it sizzles leaving a new pattern of fresh scars that ooze bright red in their infancy. Isabella moans with pleasure and writhes in pain, unable to tell the two apart.

Ingot sits back down in his chair and sighs. “Must I always please?”

“I’ve another favor to ask of you.”

“You’ve such greed in you! Did your brother, Alfonso, not suffer from an unfortunate case of poisoning, along with a slit throat for good measure? You were there grinning in the shadows as he choked, gurgling on his own blood, knowing I did this for you, for your crown. And what of your other sibling, Henry? For wronging you I removed any chance he could have to bear children. Like grapes his manhood were in my talons, oozing from the palm of my hand.” He ran a long black fingernail across her face racing her cheekbone. “And yet you need more?” The swirling embers that made up his eyes grew a little brighter. “I suppose this is why I love you.”

“My kingdom needs land. The people demand it from their Queen and I am not accustomed to disappointing my citizens.”

The demon smiles with jagged, yellow stained teeth and waves a hand in Isabella’s direction, causing his stomach to shake. “You are a good Queen. There is a man who prays to my black kingdom for fame and discovery. He’s not a Spaniard but he will suffice if you will have him. His name is Columbus. I will deliver him to you and he will discover new lands in the name of Spain, allowing you to keep hold of your coronet.”

Isabella winced as she put her ceremonial robes back on. “I will do as I must. Now I must return to the business of running my kingdom.”

“And I think I will pay a visit to mine.”

# # #

Father Juan de Valera finishes his tapas of chorizo and bread then puts on the surplice and purple stole he wears for the sacrament of confession. He’ll confront her today. He has finally seen enough and will tell her that he can no longer sit in silence as she performs atrocities in the good lord’s name.

The torture, the sacrifice, and the experiments must come to an end.

His Queen comes to him in a simple green dress, her straight, brown hair, tipped with gold, flows over her bare shoulders. She likes to appear a simple woman when confessing to him.

“Good afternoon, Father.”

“Blessed to see you, Isabella.”

She will not allow herself to be called Queen during penance. Isabella takes the velvet, padded seat across from Father de Valera who twirls the grey hair of his beard between his thumb and forefinger.

“I no longer love my King.”

“We must meet together, the three of us.”

“No. He is more of a house pet than a man. I no longer know what to do with him.”

“We can annul the marriage if you feel the relationship can’t be mended.”

“That carries risk, father. The people grow restless and I do not want to give them further cause with the belief that I have chosen an impotent and spineless king who can’t handle his woman. I will pray for an answer.”

Isabella rises to leave but the priest quickly stands and raises his hand, signaling for her to wait.

“What is so pressing that you choose to waste my time?” The gold of her hair twinkles as if full of stars in the candle light of the tabernacle.

“That young girl today…”

“The harlot being whipped?”

“Yes. What became of her?”

“Are you spying on me father?”de Valera twisted his beard into a fine point. “All that concerns our loving God finds it’s way to my ears.

The Queens eyes looked black in the deep shadows of the church. “I don’t know yet, but whatever happens will surely be God’s will and then I’m sure it will make its way to your foolish old ears.”

“You talk of God’s will and yet I heard her cries of torture,” he looks Isabella in the eyes as he speaks, “as I have the screams of all the others.”

The queen’s expression does not hide her surprise at the priest’s audacity. The sparkle in her hair vanishes as she stands. “The Lord knows what I do in his name and he allows it.”

“It is not God’s place to forbid you, it is your choice. Also, I respectfully disagree that God would want his teachings forced upon others.” Father de Valera bows his head and stares at the deep wrinkles around his knuckles in silence.

“You dare! You crusty, old eunuch! You may spread his word but the Lord speaks through me.”

The priest sighs. His highness’s reaction is expected. He looks at the silver cross that adorns the bookcase beside him. Its rubies sparkle in the candlelight as his Queens hair did moments ago. The images of Christ dying on the cross, the spear poking through his ribs, the briny rags stuffed in his mouth, fill his mind. He can feel his lord’s last breath across his cheek and finds the courage to truly speak his mind. “What sort of sins are you atoning for? What possesses you to produce converts in such a manner?”

“I do what I must.”

“You serve the devil when you act this way.”

Isabella’s olive eyes narrow and her hands ball into ring covered fists. Her chin quivers as she speaks. “Wrong! You are wrong! What I do, I do to fight the devil! You may have read of him in your texts, but I have met him, touched him! I create an army of worshipers whose belief in God’s kingdom will oppose such evil. I do what needs to be done!” Spit sprays from her thin, red lips, “Cross me or speak out against me again and you will meet God much sooner than you desire!”

The Queen turns and leaves, slamming the wooden door of the church with such force the stain glass windows quiver. Juan de Valera sighs long and hard then picks up the silver cross next to him. “You do what you must.” He pulls the top of the cross off, unsheathing a steel blade. He looks at his reflection and frowns. “Now I must do as I must.”

# # #

Isabella tosses and turns on her bed. The silk cloth that adorns her canopy sways as if alive. She sweats into her cotton sheets as her heart races. Her king sleeps alone in an adjacent bedroom, but her thoughts are not of him, they are of Ingot and Father de Valera.

A bead of sweat slowly slides down from between her breasts onto her stomach. Isabella feels as though the aged priest saw right through her. Maybe he knew her secrets, but who could read his withered old face? It hardly mattered if he did. The price of her throne was Ingot and Christ forgive her she loved the foul beast. Ingot was the only male she had ever been with that truly understood her. Despite loving as only a devil can; she thinks his feelings are genuine nonetheless. It’s with great sadness that she builds a kingdom of Christians to combat her lover’s dark realm, but the web of power stretches wide and is taught with deceit. Just as her sovereign duties must be necessitated, so too must the obligations to her soul be met. Her sheets are now soaked with sweat as she wonders how much more her conscious can take. A decision must soon be made and tomorrow she will make it. Satisfied with this resolution, Isabella closes her eyes to sleep, but as she does Ingot appears before her.

# # #

It’s dark. He can smell the wisps of smoke from the recently snuffed out candles that line the hallway to the Queen’s quarters. Father de Valera shuffles quietly across the stone floor his blade gripped tightly in one hand, the other stretched out before him feeling into the shadows. He stops as the darkness shifts before him. The priest flattens himself against the wall and hears what sounds like the scrapping of claws against stone. The air moves around him and he feels a cold, heavy darkness pressing upon his skin. He prays to God the almighty for courage then continues forward. He pictures, for fortitude, his lord carrying the True Cross, whipped and bleeding as his crown of thorns tears into him. Finally he comes to the Queen’s door made of carved cypress. De Valera hears talking inside and puts his ear to the door. In between beats of his heart he can hear Isabella shouting. “I love you! I love you! You are a part of me!”

Father listens for a response, but hears no answer to the queen’s admissions. He presses his ear more tightly against the sculpted wooden door. If she were with someone else he would have to terminate his holy mission. The priest is old and tired. He does not have the strength, physically or spiritually, to take two lives, but he fears he will never have the courage to get this far again. He holds his breath to hear more clearly and is quite sure he hears only Isabella’s voice inside. He presses his hand against the door, finding it unlatched. After making the sign of the cross he slowly pushes Isabella’s door open.

The door opens with a slight creak that may as well have been as deafening as canon fire. His Queen spins around to see who has entered. She is naked and the priest gasps, not at her nude form but at the great maze of scars that covers her flesh in various shades of scarlet.

“You abandon me now?” She turns and shouts to a fluttering shade of black silk that hangs over an open window. A small vase of citrus scented oil is heating on a black iron stand in the fireplace, making the room smell fresh and sweet.

Still lost in the labyrinth of maroon gashes that decorate her peach colored skin, Father de Valera keeps his knife at his side. Isabella grabs hold of the poker that lay across the hearth and swings it across the priest’s face. He screams, dropping his knife and covering his face with his hands. He gags as blood pours out from between his clamped fingers.

“You dare, priest, to invade my privacy? First you question my motives then you come to me uninvited?” She looks down at the jewel-encrusted blade on the floor. “And you have come to kill me.”

Father de Valera reaches out for the blade but Isabella brings her weapon down across his hand snapping his fingers. The priest shouts out in pain and brings his gnarled fingers to his chest. Blood drips steadily from his beard. He gets to his feet and charges her, hitting Isabella in the chest with his shoulder and knocking the poker from her hands.

She lands on her back by the fireplace, the priest on top of her, his one good hand pressing down on her throat. Isabella puts both hands around his wrist to remove it but can’t. Blood from the father’s nose falls steadily on her naked torso filling the scared channels in her flesh. De Valera’s eyes flicker with the fires roaring light. The Queen reaches behind her into the fireplace, grabs hold of a smoldering log and brings it down across his head, knocking him off with a showering of embers.

The priest rolls onto his back, consciousness coming and going, with Isabella standing over him. Her breasts heave as she struggles for breath. Queen Isabella’s body is sticky with blood and ash. She holds the smoking log overhead as the priest weakly covers his face. Suddenly, Isabella drops the wood in her hands. The Queen turns as she hears the beating of wings.

“Coward, you come to me now that the fight is over?”

Ingot comes in through the open window, the black window shade across his shoulders resembling a cape. “I can not lay hands on a holy man. It’s a treaty older than time itself.”

“You disappoint me, Ingot. For that you will pleasure me.”

The demon flies in on outstretched wings and lands in front of the fireplace. Isabella approaches him on her knees. ‘This disappointment is the end’, she thinks, ‘I will launch a grand inquisition today, forcefully shaping, as if from clay, an army of Catholics. Their faith will save me. I may give my body to hell but my soul is still Gods!’

Father de Valera opens his blood-encrusted eyes to see Isabella on her knees talking to herself. Her hands stroke the vase of boiling citrus oil as she pours it onto her chest, searing the skin where it hits causing more wounds to bubble and blister. She wails and writhes in ecstasy.

de Valera starts to crawl towards the blade that is still on the floor. He inches forward and grips the jeweled handle, but when he does he sees Isabella’s reflection in the blade. “Don’t worry, lover, I will take care of the priest.”

With blade in hand he turns over to face Isabella who is holding the iron poker in her hands. He points the blade at her. “You’re mad! There is nobody here but you and I!”

Whispering she tells him, “Tell God I do what I must.” Then the Queen drives the poker through his ribs.

With his hands wrapped around the iron protruding from his chest, Father de Valera’s vision begins to fade as shadows start to ebb out the light. He gasps for air as his punctured lung collapses. Isabella turns and walks toward the fireplace. Once more she appears to be talking to no one. From within the encroaching darkness the priest hears the rhythmic beating of his dying heart; or is it, he wonders, the beating of wings?

 

Temptation: The Anthology is out now!

Temptation: The Anthology. is out now!

Temptation: The Anthology, a diverse collection of erotic fiction from around the world. From the sensual caress of a lover, to S&M torture, fantasies and filth… A wild ride, a passionate embrace, all of it awaits you…

Featuring:

Seven Foot Two, Fur of Blue By James Hartley

Charlie’s Room By A. A. Garrison

Sister Patience By Jerome Brooke

Bird of Paradise By Jax

Finding Elsbet By Peter Baltensperger

Don’t Go By S.L. Johnson

For The Love Of Rachel By Laura J Campbell

Shoot Me By Albert Tucher

A Pound of Flesh By Charles Langley

Inspiration By Ken Goldman

A Little Bit of Lovin’ and a Bushel of Winter Wheat By Charles Langley

The Collar, The Leash and The Wife By Aiden Mulane

Nympho Librarian By Mike Sharlow

A Good Night’s Sleep By Franklin Sr.

Down By Ralph Greco

Barbara’s Waterboarding By Sandy George

The Art of Women By Jerome Brooke

For The Love Of Legs And Feet By Michael F.

Ms. Welsh After the Interview By Paul Henry

Devil’s Delight By Matthew Wilson

The Muse By Jerome Brooke

Kamalia By Kara Leigh Miller

The Hangover Cure By Holly Day

Olivia’s Ordeal By DirtyMartini

Grey By Caitlin Hoffman

After Dinner By Jerome Brooke

Original fiction and the very best reprints from the successful Temptation Magazine blog: https://temptationmag.wordpress.com/

The book is available now!

The printed book is available here:

http://www.lulu.com/shop/temptation-magazine/temptation-the-anthology/paperback/product-20528099.html

The ebook version in several formats is available here:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/257622

Coming soon to Kindle!

The Hangover Cure By Holly Day

Pete was at the door, banging louder than anyone had a right to at nine in the morning. Anna ran her fingers through her knotted hair as she marched to the door, feeling horribly and defiantly unattractive as she marched to the door in her sweat pants and faded t-shirt. “That was quick,” she said as she let him in, rubbing at some of the cat hair that was sticking to her clothes. As if on cue, Max poked his head from around the corner and proceeded to slithered around her ankles, putting even more cat hair on her than she had just removed.

“That’s a nice cat,” said Pete, leaning down to scratch the big orange tom. Max arched his back in delight and rolled over on Pete’s feet a few moments before running off to hide in the kitchen. Pete straightened up smiled at Anna. “So,” he said, clapping his hands together like he was about to do something important and organized. “You ready for my great hangover cure?”

“Sure,” shrugged Anna. “So long as there are no eggs or tomatoes involved, I’ll try anything.”

“Good,” he said brusquely. He waved at the couch and ordered, “Go ahead and sit down. I’ll be just a minute.”

Anna obediently went to the couch and sat down as Pete went into the kitchen and began opening and closing refrigerator and cabinets doors noisily. “You need any help in there?” she called out, nervous as to exactly what this hangover cure would entail, since she was sure there wasn’t anything but a couple of cans of soup and half a carton of milk left in the kitchen.

“Nope!” answered Pete, poking his head around the corner, waving a frying pan at her. “I’ve got it covered.”

“Sounds good,” said Anna. She was so tired she could hardly keep her eyes open. She wondered if Pete would be angry if she just fell asleep while he was making whatever the hell it was that he was making in the kitchen.

“Put this on,” said Pete, suddenly close by. Anna opened her eyes blearily and saw him standing in front of her. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a strip of black fabric. “Put it around your head so that your eyes are covered. C’mon,” he said when she started to protest. “It’s part of the cure.”

“Oh, God,” said Anna, taking the piece of cloth from him and tying it around her eyes. “What in the world could you be getting ready to feed me that you don’t even want me to see it?”

Pete laughed and patted her gently on top of her head, like she was a puppy or a stupid child. “Don’t worry,” he said. “This is guaranteed to work.” Anna could hear him walking away once more, heard the front door open for a moment, then close again.

“Shit,” sighed Anna, closing her eyes. The blindfold made everything nice and dark, just like it was nighttime. At least it would be easier to fall asleep with it on than without. “Did you go home already?”

“Nope, I’m still here,” said Pete, very close this time. “I put my bag outside the door so that the cure… ingredients…. would be a surprise. I wouldn’t want you poking around and discovering all my secrets this early on.”

Suddenly, cold hands slid up under Anna’s sweatshirt, up her stomach and gently cupping her breasts. She jumped back a little bit, suddenly very awake. “Whoa,” she said, reaching up to pull off her blindfold. One of the hands moved away from her breast to stop her hand and push it gently back down to her side.

“Shh,” said Pete. “It’s my world-famous hangover cure.” He kissed her, prying apart her sticky lips and licking all the early-morning fuzz from the inside of her mouth and even her teeth. His tongue filled her mouth to capacity, his kiss sucked the air out of her until she felt light-headed and empty. She closed her eyes and lay back against the couch  feeling his mouth move from her lips to her neck, his gigantic hands squeezing her breasts almost too hard.

“This is your cure?” she giggled when she could catch her breath again. “I have to warn you, I’m a real lousy lay when I’ve been drinking, and even worse the next morning.”

“Shh,” said Pete again. Anna felt him tug at her pants, and instinctively grabbed one of his hands. He stopped tugging and said, close to her ear, “Any time you want me to leave, just take the blindfold off. Doesn’t matter what I’m doing it, if I’m in the middle of it and you take it off, I’m gone.”

“Okay,” answered Anna. She let go of his hand and let him tug her cat-hair-covered sweat pants all the way off, sliding them down to her ankles and slipping them off over her feet, one at a time. Anna waited to feel the hands that would pull her t-shirt up over her head, preparing herself to help keep the blindfold from slipping off with the shirt, but it never happened. He left her socks alone as well, so that her feet were warm and comfortable while the tiny hairs on her legs stood up in goosebumps from the drafty apartment, making her feel a little like she did when she was at the gynecologist’s, naked save for a paper gown and a pair of rolled-down tube socks.

“Open,” Pete ordered, pulling her knees gently apart with his incredibly warm hands. Everywhere he touched on her skin grew warmer simply from being in contact with him, and Anna wished he would touch other parts of her that weren’t so warm, like her chilly calves, or the naked parts high on her thighs that seemed to catch just about every breeze in the apartment. She could just imagine how wonderful it would feel to have him simply rub her legs up and down with those gigantic, warm hands, like the way she’d seen people do to hyperthermia victims on TV, how they would warm her whole body up, put her right to sleep.

She was so engrossed in thinking about how nice it would feel to be so comfortably warm that when he put his finger in her, she actually jumped a little in surprise. The finger disappeared, and Pete asked, “Did I hurt you?”

“No, no,” waved Anna, angry at herself for scaring him and his finger away. “It just startled me. I wasn’t expecting it, for some reason, although that sounds like a really stupid thing to not expect.”

“Good,” said Pete, and this time, she felt his mouth on her cunt, his tongue pushing the lips of her labia apart and finding her clit. She floundered with her arms until she found his head between her legs. Her immediate impulse was to push him hard into her crotch, but, instead settled on patting the top of his head, tousling his hair a bit in the confusion, before putting both her hands behind her head and burying them in her hair where they couldn’t get into any more trouble. She grabbed her own hair tightly and pulled until her fingernails dug into her palm, spreading her legs apart to that nothing down there could possibly be neglected.

Pete continued his steady lapping, settling into an obvious but pleasant reinterpretation of the alphabet, moving fluidly from a distinguishable “A” to a slightly-muddled “B” and an almost useless “C,” and back again with a very effective “D.” Around “G”, he stuck his finger into her one more, a little rough, a little fast. Anna winced, immediately trying to make her expression look more like ecstasy than mild annoyance, trying to ignore the jagged hangnail she could feel dragging against her insides as he did so.

A few moments later, the finger disappeared. Anna could hear paper rustling, some shuffling, more rustling. The tongue disappeared, and something thin and cold slithered inside of her, about as thick as a finger but much longer. Pete pushed against he until the thing as deep as it could go, warming up as it retracted, and back in again, deep enough that Pete’s knuckles pressed against her clit, his fist wrapped around the thing inside her. Then the tongue was back, picking up where it left off, and Anna clenched her muscles around the hard, cold object, wishing she had more.

Almost as though he could read her mind, Pete pulled the thing all the way out of her, and replaced with another cold object at least twice as big as the first. Anna felt her insides spreading around the thing, wider until she was almost positive that whatever the thing was, it wasn’t supposed to go inside her. Pete pushed her legs open even more, throwing one of them over his shoulder as he worked, and resumed licking at her engorged clitoris, gently pulling and pushing on the oversized object lodged inside her just a little bit in, just a little bit out, until she was wet enough to take the whole thing in.

Anna felt the orgasm starting up deep inside her, felt the walls of her cunt  bucking helplessly, her head full of fireworks as her muscles exploded. Pete held the object in place as her body tried to push it out of her with the force of her climaxing, held it in place until she was lying back against the couch, hands twitching, toes digging into the short acrylic carpet fibers. “You want another one?” he asked from somewhere far away. “Are you ready?”

“Gu,” said Anna, waving one of her hands vaguely, unable to speak. “Hm,” she added. Pete apparently took this as a yes and set to work all over again, patiently reapplying lube to his fingers and the dildo as Anna drifted in an out of consciousness, exhausted, wondering if he would take offense if she just fell asleep while he was diddling her. After a while, she came again, not as explosively this time, but longer and more beautifully. A sunrise flooded the corners of her tightly-closed eyelids, cartoon birds twittered in her ears, and Pete was gently shaking her shoulder, asking if she was okay.

“I’m fine,” she said, nodding emphatically. “Why?”

“You just got so quiet there,” he said. Anna felt him touch her hair, and then the blindfold was off. “I thought maybe you’d passed out or something. Girls do that sometimes, you know.”

“Yeah, yeah,” I know,” she said, grinning. “Nope, I’m here. I’m okay.”

“How’s your hangover?” he asked. He leaned in and kissed her long and hard, and if she hadn’t been so completely worn out from the waist down, she would have totally fucked him.  “I find cunilingus really is the very best hangover cure,” he added.

“So much better than tomato juice or raw eggs,” agreed Anna. She put her arms around his neck and hugged him as gratefully as she could without giving the impression that she actually wanted to have sex. “I do so love being a girl!” she whispered in his ear before falling back down on the couch and drifting off to sleep.