“It’s what she wants.”
Impatience turned the words brittle. Marcus arched an eyebrow and gave me one curt nod, then relented. “And it’s what you want or you wouldn’t be here. Would you?”
Meanwhile, the twenty-something girl bent over the bench and cuffed to its legs craned her neck to face me and scowled. I’d been introduced to her and told her name but had promptly forgotten it. Probably by design. All I knew was that she didn’t do women and was only interested in the cropping. Her ankles wobbled in the six-inch stilettos. Her plump ass glowed white under recessed ceiling lamp. The club’s lighting seemed designed to offer a vista of spotlit porn dioramas.
I stood just beyond the bright circle of one, crop in my sweating fist, hesitant to step inside. Inside that circle of light was another world: one I’d hungered for, one that had fueled a thousand frenzied wanks and a number of disembodied fucks.
Marcus stepped behind me, laid his large hands on my shoulders, stooped to whisper. “I’m not going to give you a supportive hug. She doesn’t want a beating from someone weak. If you can’t do it, give me the crop and I will. This is what she wants. It’s our job to give it to her.”
“It’s not her I’m worried about.”
He pressed his lips to the top of my head and inhaled deeply once before kissing me. His palms slide down, over my bare arms. Fingertips brushed the sides of my breasts, settled over my hands and closed. “You’ve been on the receiving end this crop. You know how good it makes you feel. What’s stopping you?”
“Not in public. Not with a stranger.”
“This is the best place to start,” he said. “She’s ready. She’s willing. I’ve done her before, myself.”
My throat dried. The bright white ass was blinding me. “What if I can’t stop?”
“The agreement is ten strokes to begin with. So you’ve got to stop. There’s no choice.”
“No, I mean what if I can’t stop wanting to do this? What if I just turn into some awful sadistic monster?”
I felt him nod. “Am I am monster?”
“No. Of course not. You’re everything to me.”
“God, I want to take you home and fuck you so badly. I want to watch you take pleasure in striping her ass and then punish you for liking it. You’ll be tight and flooded with the pleasure of having hurt her. Soaking fucking wet. And that’s a good thing. Because I’ll take you hard.”
Marcus released me and stepped back. “Now, will you just get on with this so I can do that?”
The words were silvery drops of molten lead, dribbling down my spine, pooling in my cunt. That’s what did it: his words. They reminded me how little this was about what was rational. How much it was about swallowing every sensible thought and stepping through the door.
And so I did. I stepped into the circle of light and gazed down at the prone girl. All quivering, desiring five and a half feet of her. “I apologize for the delay.”
Perhaps it’s what she saw in my face, but all the impatience was gone. “That’s okay,” she said, all mousey and aflutter.
Look at the flesh. The doorway it makes. Touch it, I told myself.
I trailed my finger over fevered skin, over the plump little dimples caught up in the laces of her corset, over the inviting and exposed globe of one ass cheek. Before I knew it, the crop was slicing through the air as if it had a mind of its own. The soft suck of vacuum it left pulled me in its wake to make a date with that pale flesh.
It wasn’t the sound of the strike that cupped my cunt like a lover and left me suddenly wet. It was the echo of it I ripped from her throat. The harsh, dry gasp. The almost imperceptible tremble in her thighs. The real percussion of her pain. Not the crop, but what it left behind.
Adrenalin screamed up the sides of my neck and kicked my heart into a canter. “Count them,” I said.
“Yes ma’am,” she said. “One.”
Maybe I heard a note of defiance in her voice, or maybe I just wanted to hear one. But it made the second strike so much easier to deliver. Even as it landed I noticed the faint red welt left by the first.
A brittle moment of ecstatic joy lanced through my heart. It spoke to me. I mark, it whispered. I mark here on this piece of unknown flesh. Here is proof of my pleasure written on skin.
Still I heard the defiance, burrowing its way into my chest, into my blood, into my muscles.
Laying the third stripe, I heard myself groan.
That stopped me. The shock of how quickly I was lost in the act. How fast and hard the tugging rush of it took me. How eagerly I plunged down into the singular delight of the moment.
The sweetness of the adrenalin curdled, souring in my veins. It was like a massive hand had grabbed me from behind and pulled me backwards. Out in to the hubbub of the club, the feint smell of spilled alcohol, the glare of the downward spots. I looked around, panicked. But my eyes latched onto the tall figure in the warm gloom, beyond the circle of light.
Marcus. My Marcus. He didn’t speak. He sucked his bottom lip into his mouth, scraped his teeth against it as he released it slowly and shot me a wide, wide smile. His turned-on, evil lecher smile. Even at a distance, I could breathe him in.
After number eight, the girl over the bench whimpered. The feint welts on her ass didn’t form a neat series of lines, but overlay each other and, where they intersected, the flesh was ruddier. She’d kept on with her count. Whatever trace of defiance I’d once heard in her voice was gone, replaced with something more autonomic. Above the cuffs, her hands were balled into furious little pink fists, threatening an elaborate manicure. It was a posture I recognized, and seeing it from that vantage point fed my urge to lay that crop down again and again until her hands relaxed. But ten strokes weren’t going to get her there. Resistance moves around the body, staging barricades against the slip beyond civility. It starts in the eyes, the voice, and the muscles of the neck. Then it moves to the thighs, the arms, the hands, the feet. As the ordeal goes on – whether pain or pleasure or a mixture of the two – it finally gives up the ghost. For me, the last place it lodges is in the mind. It sits there like a harpie, bitching away nonsensically.
What surprised me most about the experience, between the gusts of hot, feral exultation, was a growing sense of oneness with the unnamed woman. The desire to get her over the lip I knew so well: to take her past that resistance and on into the sweet, dark, airless void beyond.
Ten crop lashes were not going to get her there. As she spoke the last count, I dropped my arm. Prickly with sweat, despite the lack of real effort the cropping took me, I panted out my praise.
“Good girl.” I caressed her unmarked hip. “Well done.”
I watched Marcus kneel to undo her cuffs. He spoke to her in his deep, soothing undertone. Checking to make sure she was calm and settled. As he helped her upright, I felt a strange sense of failure. Like I’d let her down. Like I’d taken pleasure from someone without true reciprocation.
She teetered on her heels and grinned at me shyly. “Thank you, Mistress.”
The urge to laugh was almost insurmountable. It might have been the word, or the residual adrenalin bouncing around my brain.
“Oh, no. Thank you…” I stalled.
“Sandy,” she offered.
“Thank you, Sandy,” I said. I didn’t have the focus to be ashamed of not knowing her name while I beat her. My nipples were so tightly seized they stung, wasp stings on my breasts. Under my skirt, the tops of my thighs were drenched. The familiar nutty scent of my own arousal was an assault.
“Can I…” Sandy spread her arms a little.
“God, of course,” I replied, stepping into them and enveloping her with my own. She was a little taller than me in the heels. The power dynamic between us evaporated: a construction of drinking straws annihilated in a puff of breeze.
“Come on, girl. Homewards,” said Marcus, threading his fingers through mine once the young woman had released me and toddled off towards the bar. “Time for a payback. You’ve made me wait too fucking long.”