Monday, February 24, 2014

Coffee with the Artist

I watched him as he walked into the room. Of all the people who had entered, it was clear that this copper haired creature was the most enchanting. The late afternoon sunlight gleamed and glowed in his curls as he did his best to look utterly disinterested in the entire affair. His beat up jeans contrasted sharply with the neatly pressed button down shirt he wore. The worn sneakers squeaked somewhat as he strolled through the gallery with his hands in his pockets.

So this was Johnathan Winters. If his expression was that of boredom, his eyes clearly didn't get the memo. They studied each person who crossed his path and then they reached me. I found myself pinned in place under the intensity of that gaze. Then, as briefly as it touched upon me, it was gone. In that achingly brief moment, I couldn't help the feeling of a cross between dread and anticipation, as though I had locked eyes with a predator.

I turned my attention to my drink and did my best to keep my thoughts on the task at hand. I was sent to do a write up on the opening. I felt that my job was to observe the situation, not become immersed into it. As a journalist, I felt the necessity to be detached. I turned my attention to the abstract painting that hung on the wall and sipped my water. As people buzzed about happily talking about the social events going on, I couldn't help the feeling that there was something ominous.

Every painting held some sort of darkness in them. The abstract immediately before me seemed to have the most intense qualities of this angst. I thought about what I had learned at Twinsbury University about abstract art. All of my classes seemed to run aground as I looked at this thing. While it seemed to adhere to all the classical forms, it had positively Lovecraftian feelings emanating off of it. I was caught up in trying to make sense of it when a voice coughed beside me.

I looked over to find the man himself beside me. My voice stuck in my throat as I thought to myself, 'Michael, get a grip. This is just another artist. He's like all the others.' Those cat green eyes carefully considered me. After what felt like an eternity of being studied, he said, "You're different from the others.."

"I'm from the Sun," I said lamely. His sober expression seemed to have the barest hint of amusement to it as he nodded slightly. "If you have the time, perhaps we could discuss your show?" I added. I couldn't help but notice the way he seemed to exude a mixture of charisma and menace as he smiled. I suddenly realized that this artist scared me even as I was attracted to him.

I took a hasty sip of water, spilling some on my tie. I broke eye contact to look down and brush the drops away. "You want to go have a drink?" he said, placing subtle emphasis on the word you. I looked over and realized that smile had gone back to a serious look. I thought about insisting that I didn't drink while at work. I thought about telling him that now was a bad time. At the same time, my heart hammered and I wanted to ask this infamously enigmatic man a thousand questions, first of which was if he was single.

A woman of average stature and dark hair walked over. She didn't seem terribly remarkable but her face seemed to light up with delight when Johnathan looked over at her. A silver necklace of unusual design with an intricate glyph stamped on it stood out in dramatic contrast to the elegant simplicity of her outfit. "Vivian," he said, giving her a pleasant smile that actually matched the look in his eyes as he focused his attention on her, "I will be going for a drink with Mister ..." He looked over at me expectantly.

"Michael Moore," I answered. Johnathan nodded slightly.

"Let Andrew know that I'll be back in about an hour. I expect that this interview will take a little while," he said decisively and the woman known as Vivian nodded. Johnathan turned slightly and gestured towards the door. "Lead on MacDuff," he said with a smirk. I preceded him out of the gallery and as soon as we were out of sight of the gathering, he said, "Mister Moore, I have seen you at the Public Dungeon. You have been most reluctant to get involved. I suspect that there are reasons for this."

At his mention of the fetish club, my blood went cold. I made a point of going on off days when I didn't think anyone would recognize me. It fascinated me but I genuinely feared that any involvement would bring the end of my career. During a few of the play nights I had attended, I couldn't help but yearn to be part of the affair. Fear had kept me on the sidelines, quiet and generally ignored. I was so focused on being ignored, I hadn't paid much attention to who else was there.

My hands shook slightly as I did my best to keep my attention focused on where we were walking. We crossed the street and walked into the AfterHours coffee shop. The barista was busy debating politics with her chess partner as we walked in. "Your silence on the Public Dungeon has been greatly appreciated by myself and others," Johnathan said, reaching into his pocket. He pulled out a black credit card and tapped it on the counter. The barista looked over and darted up to where he stood imperiously. "Number twelve for me," Johnathan said, looking over at myself, "And for you?"

I looked up at the board where their assorted beverages were listed. I thought about it and decided on just regular coffee served up black. "I'll take a cup of regular black," I said, reaching into my pocket. As I was in the midst of pulling out my money to pay for my coffee, I realized that Johnathan was paying for both our drinks. "I..." I started when he turned his attention back to me and said something that left me speechless.

"I have done some research on you, Mister Moore," he said pleasantly, "My associates and I would be interested in recruiting you." I stared at him open mouthed in shock for a moment when he smiled. It was not a comforting smile, though it was delightful. "While I myself am not inclined towards men," he said conversationally, turning to take his coffee from the barista, "I have an associate who is. He is actually most interested in meeting you."

"I... I don't know what you're talking about, Mister Winters," I stumbled. He handed me my coffee and frowned slightly.

"You're known on the site as AmbigiousRumors," he said, "You have professed an interest in being a service sub and you are currently a member of the public face of the organization I am in. You have been so for the last four years, joining while enrolled at Twinsbury University. You work for the Twinsbury Sun as a reporter, though your expertise is really being wasted on them."

I swallowed nervously, suddenly extremely uncomfortable as Johnathan spelled out one of my dark secrets and a fair amount of my details in blunt language. "I am offering you an opportunity to actually experience what you have been writing about in your fiction, Mister Moore," he said, "You have already proven yourself discrete."

AmbigiousRumors had been my pen name on the fetish site. I was writing stories about my alter ego's fictional adventures as a submissive to a wealthy gay man. It had gotten me a fair amount of popularity.

[...]

Well, I tried but I just can't seem to get into this. Perhaps I'll do something else later this week. Or come back to this and try again.

Cinderella (pt. 3)

I woke at the sound of the horses of my stepmother's carriage clattering in the courtyard. The rain continued to pour down as my unwanted family made their way to the entrance. I moved as quickly as I could to reach the door before they did but found myself arriving there as my stepmother was opening it. She looked at me with a scornful look of disapproval.

My damp clothes made her scowl deepen. As she straightened her head and strode in, my stepsisters loftily nattered on about the men they had danced with. They then suddenly began to speak of the lady who was dressed in silver that fled the ball. My stomach lurched and my hands refused to work properly as I struggled to assist my stepmother in removing her cloak. She slapped my hands away with a harsh sigh.

"Stupid girl," she snapped, "Standing out in the rain waiting for us is not what you were supposed to do. And now you can't do the simplest thing." I swallowed past a lump that rose up in my throat. "Go attend your sisters," she said, "Then bring a light and make me tea."

"Yes, m'am," I mumbled and I turned to my taller step-sister. Her pasty complexion was made even more so by the lead powder that was caked on her. The mole painted on her cheek was a black smudge in the dark. It seemed like some sort of insect in a wet pastry. The sight of it made me shudder even as she breathed her wine soured breath in my direction and increased my revulsion.

I took her cloak and hung it upon the peg, doing my best not to make a noise that would draw her attention and sharp tongue in my direction. I listened as she speculated on who the strange woman they saw at the ball could be and what kind of person of high society didn't know how to dance. To her right, stood her comically short and grotesquely fat sister. Where the tall sister had all the charm of a gatepost and the features of a slab of limestone, the shorter one seemed a mound of dough on a good day. She wheezed and sighed rather then laugh, as though the weight upon her rendered her unable of that most human of actions.

One would have thought that my short step-sister would have been a weak thing by virtue of her ill health. Indeed, she was not weak at all. Instead, she was my chief tormentor in the way of physical abuse. I regularly found myself not merely pinched but rather beaten by my ham handed step-sister, often for the amusement of her stick like elder sister, who would pepper me with acerbic comments as this happened.

I wasn't terribly surprised when she shoved me aside. "Useless thing," the skinny one said, "Always in the way." The shorter sister took off her cloak and dropped it to the floor. As I stooped to pick it up, I bit back a yelp as two unexpectedly bony fingers were jammed into my ribs.

"You are in the way, girl," the owner of those fingers wheezed at my side.

"Sorry, m'am," I mumbled. I hung up the cloak and skirted around my stepmother, who shook her head with disapproval. The sisters resumed their cheerful banter as I returned with a candle lit from the kitchen fire. My stepmother raised her eyebrows with an incredulous look.

"What," she said, "No lantern?" My heart sank. I only wanted them to go to bed. Instead, I had the terrible feeling that they were going to stay up later and be contrary.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Cinderella (pt.2)

I bit my lower lip as he took another tiny step towards me. I fell back a pace and he moved forward again. "Left," he said softly. Together, we stepped to the side and then he began to mince backwards as I clumsily followed him. "Close your eyes," he said, "You're thinking too much." I thought about responding that I wasn't thinking of anything but changed my mind as he gave me a solemn look.

Something about that terribly still, serious look made me shiver deep inside. My cheeks suddenly began to sting and I felt a warmth moving down from my face to across my chest. I dropped my gaze and he chuckled softly. "Close your eyes," he said again, a low, suggestive note creeping into his voice, "Let me guide you, maiden."

I did as he said and his hold upon me tightened. As he stepped to the side, he ever so lightly pushed me to move with him. We moved in what felt like circles and spirals about the floor. I could hear the sound of fabric swishing as others joined us on the floor. As though sensing my sudden burst of anxiety, the Prince said quietly, "None shall dare draw nigh us. You are fearful, maiden. Why?"

"I should not be here," I whispered, the words sticking in my throat even as I spoke them. He made a thoughtful noise. The great bell of the clock tower at the abbey tolled. Panic shot through me. I had to leave. My eyes opened and the Prince frowned slightly as I took an unexpected step backwards. I bumped into another pair of dancers. "I must go," I said.

Kilting up the skirts of the gown, I turned and I ran. I had barely gotten out of the sight of the party goers when I felt something akin to water washing over me. I looked down and discovered that the silver silken gown had reverted back to the plain and worn rags that I was wearing at the start of the evening. I sighed and made my way out of the building. One of the guards noted me and glowered.

"What are you doing here, girl?" he muttered as he took me firmly by the elbow. I put on my best look of contrition. I looked up at him and thought about stating that I was lost. Instead I found the taste of bile at the back of my throat. "Followed your mistress, didn't you?" he grumbled. I nodded. His expression stern, he marched me through the corridors and out the building.

"Find your way home," he said firmly, "If you come back, I'll not be responsible for what happens to you." I nodded and thought about the cabbage and mice. I wondered if someone would note that the gilded carriage that had brought me when I was in my enspelled finery had vanished. A soft rain began to fall and I sighed as I started walking through the town.

After a time, I came back to the house that was both my home and my prison, I was soaked through. I made my way in and to the kitchen. As I sat before the smoored fire, I sighed. It was intoxicating, exhilarating, and terrifying to have a man look at me as he did. So many strange feelings whirled through me as I thought about it. Confused and delighted, I realized that I hadn't paid my stepmother or her brood the least thought for the first time in a very long time. I couldn't help but smile at that.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Cinderella (pt. 1)

I've decided to retell an old favorite. Don't you worry, there'll be adult content soon enough.

I stood on the balcony and looked down at the garden. It was an elaborate affair and neatly manicured. It was like something out of a story. The stiffened fabric of the collar of my gown did little to resist the cool evening breeze that was freshening out of the west. The glass of champagne in my hand was warming up but I decided to have a drink of it anyways.

The corset and stays were as uncomfortable as I feared. This was the first time I had ever worn them and I questioned how someone could do so everyday. Behind me, dancers swirled about on the ballroom floor in perfect time to the music. My silver slippers pinched my toes uncomfortably and I questioned again if I should have even come.

My half sisters moved amongst the throng blissfully unaware of my presence. My stepmother was comfortably ensconced in a conversation near the musicians. They did not see me enter. If God was kind, they would not see me leave. As I tore my gaze away from the lushness that I could glimpse from where I stood, the movement of a figure nearby caught my eye. I turned to see a short man dressed in an impeccably pressed and tidy uniform.

The man made a slight 'come hither' gesture. I walked towards him, my heart hammering as I found myself certain that someone had discovered my illicit attendance and I was to be ushered to my stepmother for summary judgement. I kept my gaze down and unintentionally attempted to make myself as small as possible. The small man started to move through the press, clearly expecting me to follow.

I did so, feeling my palms begin to turn clammy and my stomach clench with dread. The man before me abruptly came to a halt. I stopped and swallowed hard past the lump that rose up in my throat. A linen and lace clad servant came up on my right, spiriting the glass of champagne out of my hand before I could spill or drop it in my rising anxiety. The uniformed man gave a deep bow and I dared to raise my eyes.

Before me, there stood a tall man dressed in what appeared to be a military uniform. The crimson of his coat seemed almost lurid compared to the pale white of his gloved hands. Two rows of gold colored buttons marched up the center of the coat. A wide sash of a deep, dark blue relieved that scarlet expanse as I looked from his feet up to his eyes.

His square jaw was cleanly shaven, unlike the men who stood attentively to either side of him. Intelligent, curious eyes met my gaze with their pale blue depths. The intensity of his look made my cheeks sting and I looked away. The soft buzz of conversation stilled as the small man moved aside, keeping himself bowed low. Deciding that I should also show obeisance to this man, I did my best to give the deepest curtsey I could in the unfamiliar gown I wore.

The dark haired man's gloved hand came into my field of view. He placed two fingertips beneath my chin and lightly pushed upward. Taking the sign as it was intended, I lifted my gaze. At the edge of my view, he motioned me to stand. I did so and a few voices whispered behind me. He held offered his hand and I tentatively set mine in it.

He moved purposefully towards the center of where the dancing was going on. As the people parted like water, my eyes widened somewhat and I restrained a gasp. He turned and faced me. "I..." I stammered quietly, "I don't know how to dance. It.. It was forbidden." The Prince arched an eyebrow with a wry smirk.

"She speaks," he said, taking my right hand in his left. I inwardly shivered at the sound of his voice. It sent a thrill through me that I had never encountered before. It both delighted and terrified me. "I shall teach you," he said, "If you would tell me your name." My mouth went dry.

"I.. I can not," I said, my voice coming out in a terrified, tiny squeak, "I'm not even supposed to be here."

"Oh?" he said, giving me a charming smile. "That is a strange name," he continued in a droll tone and I blushed. "No one but my father might tell you to leave now," he said, "And if you speak, none will hear you. You are so very quiet, I should have to step closer to hear you even." He let go my left hand and stepped closer to me. As he set his hand at my waist, I found myself terribly uncertain of what I should do. "Move the skirts aside so that I do not tread on them, maiden," he instructed.

Awkwardly, I took hold of my gown and lifted it slightly so that the billowy silver silk did not spill over his polished black boots. I realized as I did so that the music had stilled. Realizing that I was about to look away, the Prince said, "They await for us to begin. I await your name."

"Please," I breathed, "I can not say it." The wry look turned wary as he looked me intently in the face. After a moment he gave a small nod. He took a tiny step towards me and the musicians played. I stumbled back a pace and his sober expression turned to a controlled look of amazement.

"You truly do not know how to dance?" he rumbled.

I colored and gave a tiny nod, afraid that this would incur his displeasure. Instead, his hold upon me subtly became more firm. "I shall teach you," he said, "A woman as fine as yourself must know such things. Move with me and do not fight me." I stumbled a bit more and bit my lip as the whispers of conversation became slightly louder. "Close your eyes," the Prince said, "It will help."

Deamon's Kiss (pt. 4)

He lifted his head, licking her blood from his lips like an animal. His pointed, almost canine looking teeth made the smile he gave her horrifying. Astrid inwardly begged the gods to rescue her from her situation. She closed her eyes, finding this was the extent of the control she had over her body. She dove deep within herself as he laughed softly.

Astrid attempted to put her mind to focus on moving through the sword forms that her father had taught her, that she drilled herself on each morning. She had very nearly succeeded in separating her awareness from that of her body when the terrible, terrible cold that wreathed them suddenly stormed through her awareness. She opened her eyes to see her dark haired 'husband' shift his attention from herself to a blond haired man walking through the frozen forms towards them.

Astrid dared to hope that it was a savior coming. The blond man looked down at the pair with a dispassionate look on his face. He delivered a savage kick into the ribs of the man over her. As he rolled off of her, the man snarled at the interloper, who drew the sword at his side. The cold, unnaturally black metal seemed to steal the light from about it, somehow making the environment become dimmer. "Go Byroniac," the blond man said, "Leave this place."

Byroniac rose up to his hands and knees, giving his brother a dire look. "She's mine," he hissed, "Mine, Maigren." Maigren turns his cool gaze to Astrid, watching as her skin turned mottled and her lips moved towards an almost orchid color from the cold. Byroniac reached to pull Astrid over towards him when Maigren moved. Burning fluid splashed across Astrid's chest as Byroniac's hand fell to the ground. The wounded deamon howled.

"Not any more," Maigren said, stepping forward. Byroniac scrambled back away from his elder brother. As the elder made ready to bring his weapon to bear again, the younger made his way to his feet and retreated. Maigren sheathed his blood dewed blade and took the cloak off of his shoulders. Carefully, he helped Astrid to her feet and wrapped the heavy, fur lined fabric about her. Astrid shuddered in the chill, noting that the blood that had come from Byroniac's wounds was liquid still despite the bone gnawing cold.

"Come," the deamon prince said, "your place is with me now." Astrid allowed Maigren to gather her close, allowing the first of her sobs to escape. As the Maid began to weep against his shoulder, the deamon prince allowed himself a smile. His plan to capture this prize had gone far better then he had anticipated.

~ Fin ~