When Renata slipped out of the car, the hairs on her arms tingled, as if caressed by a breeze. Yet, the air was still. When Lucien had told her he lived in a mansion on the hill, this wasn't what she had imagined. This isolated rambleshack of a castle with turrets jutting up in front of the yellow moon looked to be the stuff of nightmares not dreams. The gardens were well-manicured with lush green hedges and beds filled with flowers that glowed in the dark, but a menacing sense of uneasiness overtook her.
Renata felt an over-powering urge to run, but to where? It shadowed midnight-- she'd come in Lucien's car and, she recalled, she'd wanted to come. The city smoldered like a glowing ember in the distance. Whereever she ran, she'd be lost. She went inside with Lucien thinking she could call a taxi if things became uncomfortable.
He led her through a candle lit hallway which gave way to an expansive living room with floor to ceiling windows shrouded with yards of dusty, red velvet drapery. After a few moments she heard something that struck her as ancient coming from the bowels of the mansion--a sound she'd never heard in her life.
Why it sounded ancient though, she couldn’t say. A sense of pressurized steam and bellows opening, and then laboring closed, filled her mind. Visions of a dungeon, dank and smelling of musk and decay tickled her nostrils even as she enjoyed peppermint schnapps in a crystal cordial glass proffered to her by this delicious stranger. I must be … no, I am crazy to be here ready to let this man have his way with me. I just want to say to hell with it and live for once. “What is that noise, Lucien? It sounds perfectly sinister.”
“The mechanical noise. It’s faint, but I hear it rise through the floor. A bellows or some such thing.” Playing coy? Surely he knows my referrence.
“Oh. The central heating apparatus. I’m used to it. This structure is ancient. Don’t let the modern look fool you. It’s been refurbished countless times, recently by myself. I can’t say how it works, a huge boiler with gears and pulleys and such, I’d say left over from the Industrial Revolution and snuck right into the twenty-first century. It works though. Cozy?”
“Yes. Snug and toasty indeed.” Modern look? This is in bondage with the medieval. Modern if you're from the Dark Ages, if suppose. She giggled and cooed while emptying her glass. A slight pink blush brightened her face. Let the torture begin.
Renata Updegraff removed her sweater as if invited to do so. She dangled it on the end of her index finger most satisfied that Lucian admired her ample breasts. He had noticed them at the Top of the World Bar where they met, and felt them against his firm chest when they danced. His response was duly noted by Renata, and pressed into her on the dance floor pleasing her. She pressed back in acknowledgement. Lucien didn’t speak of it, or acknowledge it, nor did she. It was a simple physical exchange of approval between them, a foreshadowing perhaps, of things to come.
“May I take that?”
“Yes, it’s becoming … warm in here. I believe the apparatus is functioning as designed.” Renata offered what she hoped to be a fetching smile, and found normal breathing difficult.
"Sit. please. The couch is mid-Victorian and original. I'm somewhat of a collector of rare things. The Victorian age was one with a keen eye for beauty in all things. You adorn it well. The orange cheese is an aged cheddar, the white a French import that I guarentee will surprise you. Try some." He motioned towards the gleaming silver serving tray in the middle of the dark wood coffee table.
Mahogony and an exquisite antique, I would say. Older than the couch even. There's money here. Spooky or not, this furniture is the real deal. "Yes, I'll try some." She bent forward, careful to expose as much of her breast as possible. She speared a medium size piece of the French cheese and brought it to her lips ignoring the neat row of crackers. She rolled her tongue over it so he could observe her do so. She sat back with her legs spread slightly apart and her skirt hiked up just enough for him to see her panties. She adjusted her skirt as though unaware he might have been privy to any of this.
She paused contemplating the origin of the tray of cheese and crackers. This appeared out of nowhere. Is there a butler? I wonder, is he still here? Perhaps he arranged this on his way home or to his quarters. I don't hear any fussing about in the kitchen. "Oh my, it's quite exotic." She squeezed her thighs together as the taste reminded her of something for a moment. She ran her foot down her tense calf and drew in a trembling breath. She involuntarily clamped her butt cheeks together. "It melts in the mouth. It's sweet and bitter at the same time and just a naughty hint of salt. The scent is indulgent and not at all overpowering as some cheeses are prone to be." She exaggerated rolling it in her mouth, pursing her lips. "It's quite delicious." She leaned forward once again exposing more of her breast. She lingered over the tray making sure he got an eyefull. She ignored the fork this time and chose a larger piece. She didn't adjust her skirt this time though she still pretended to be unaware of it being high up on her thighs. She put the entire piece in her mouth savoring it. "Yes, I could get quite used to this."
"It is made in secret with an ingredient no one in the family will indulge, and they have been offered rather large sums to reveal it. Well, as long as it satisfies your taste buds, I don't suppose it matters what the secret ingredient is, no?"
"No, I suppose not when you put it like that." I'm acting like a whore. This is so not like me. What part of my brain has taken control? This, this stranger. But, dammit, I'm tired of my loveless life. I want a real man and he is certainly that. To hell with it. It's one night. I can be dull again tomorrow.
“Would you like to see what’s down below?” He gazed between her legs and with purpose looked up to catch her gaze.
She giggled, and blushed immediately. “Is it safe?” Like I care at this point.
“I cannot guarantee you’ll ever return, if that is what occupies your thoughts. But it will be your choice. It is titillating some have said. You may find it mesmerizing … enticing, even deliciously erotic like the cheese you so enjoyed. Of course, you may find it just a bunch of noisy old junk.” He smiled and laughed in a light hearted way.
She joined in kind, though she felt nothing of a light hearted nature. He turned and headed towards a dull beige door. It stood out amidst the garish light yellow hue of the walls. It seemed to have been skipped when the room had been painted. It gave it the look of being detached as though it were a portal. The beige matched the dusty drapes and in truth the fresh coat of yellow enamel seemed out of place. She hadn't noticed the carpeting. It boasted an amazing intricacy adorned with detailed scenes of men on horseback jousting, soldiers in battle and even damsels in distress or so they appeared. Renata had no time to study the images in detail. It struck her that they seemed to be moving, but the notion left her as she attributed it to the libations and her aroused state.
The smell upon opening the door was pungent but not unpleasant. It reminded of a cheap motel room untended for days where lovers had dwelled and imbibed in alcohol and each other to excess. She drunk in the scent permeating her body with it, and it intoxicated her. I can satisfy you as well as any whore. I won't disappoint. I dream about this often, a virile man using my body for his own pleasure. It will be my pleasure as well I know. The more you feel, the more I feel. My husband doesn't understand such a concept and won't in a thousand weekends of our scheduled fumblings. I'm doing this for him. Maybe this little bit of happiness will get my marriage back on track. Who am I deceiving? Not myself, I know why I'm here, and I'm prepared to live with the consequences. I don't give a damn about my husband or I wouldn't be here. If I thought he cared about me ... well.
A soft purring sound reached her ears as they descended the stairway. “Cats?”
“No, I’m allergic.” He offered no elaboration.
A steady moan could be detected and as they moved further down the wooded staircase it became clear it was several moans of varying intensity and pitch. None sounded distressed. She didn’t speak of them and they did not slow her descent. If I didn't know better, I'd swear those are people down there moaning. But what can I do? Am I the new girl? The next girl? This is starting to seem like a terrible, terrible idea.
“Much hotter down here ... suffocating, stifling.” Hot as hell is more like it.
He turned and unbuttoned her blouse. He removed it, and let it drop to the steps. She removed her bra, and his lips brushed over her bare breasts before he turned and continued down the staircase. Why wait? You can have me right here on these rickety stairs. That smell though. It's not steam. No, it smells more like something's on fire.
"Is that normal, Lucien? It smells like something's happened down there. Maybe we should leave and call someone. I think there's a fire down there."
"No, it's fine. That's how it smells. I'm sure everything's fine. It always smells like that. It's part of where we are I think. Now, stop worrying. You'll see everything once we get down there."
The journey down the staircase continued. The journey kept getting more and more strange. I would have run long ago, but this man has me seeing double with passion for him. But those moans are louder now.
The moans turned into words and she could make them out now.
“Lucien. Lucien, please. Is it me tonight?”
“Lucien. Will it ever be me again?”
“Lucien, just touch me. Only brush by me for a moment.”
Renata turned walking back up the stairs, gathering her blouse and bra along the way. “I’ve decided I’d rather not see the ancient boiler. It’s much more cozy up there.” What in hell have I been thinking? This is this crazy bastard's view of what freedom is. I've got to get my ass out of here while I still have one attached. I can get laid anytime. This dude's trying to enslave me.
“I won’t be up there, Renata. I won’t be up there.”
She paused. “But, I’ll be trapped. I hear them, Lucien, calling your name. They once followed you down there. Now, they are trapped and you ignore them.”
“Nonsense. No one is trapped. You’ll see. I neglect no one. I make no offer. A chance to see the boiler room, nothing more. Come and see, or not, your choice. But know this, I am down there. That’s where I will be.” Lucien turned and descended the staircase.
Renata stood there watching him. Her head spun and she could feel his thoughts, and his fingers inside her stroking her, each thrust simulating what was to be. Remember the dance floor and what we shared between us. That is what awaits you. She could hear his voice as though he stood next to her whispering in her ear. Even his breath warmed her neck. She could feel his fingers plunge inside of her as though his hand had reached inside of her panties. “No! I don’t know how you are stimulating me like this. But, I won’t become one of those poor souls who beg for a moment of your attention.” Very well, as I said, your choice.
Renata continued up the stairs. The pleasure she felt was considerable. Her husband Jerry never bothered to use his fingers for her pleasure. The television remote never left his hand. Jerry, is that what I rush home to, and abandon the passion awaiting? He’ll be soooo appreciative. Maybe I can enjoy a couple minutes of his lovemaking. Lovemaking. HA! But he takes care of me and he’s faithful. Why would I give myself to this stranger?
She stood at the door with her hand on the handle. I’m waiting, I won’t give you a second chance. She pulled her hand back and turned to descend the steps. She looked back at the door. There was no door there any longer. She rushed down the stairs and pounded on the door she had seen Lucien enter. “Please, I’m here, I didn’t leave. Let me in, please, I’m here. Take me.”
The door opened and shrieks and moans flooded out of the cavernous expanse of the room behind the door. A wall of heat washed over her. A stench she could only describe as decadence and indulgence filled her airway. She shook as she entered. “Lucien!”
An old creature, a grotesque, foul-breathed man spoke to her. “Yes? Are you ready now?”
“What? Hell no. Where’s Lucien?”
“Hell, yes. I am Lucien.”