Annette came back early, more tired than the shortness of her ride justified. After the tedious business of side saddle mounting, a horse with a lame foot and some worry about the possibility of rain, the women had only been able to follow the trail to the point that it crossed the road, and there they’d been met by a soldiers’ checkpoint. They had no issues with the matter of identification or the acceptance of their papers, but the soldiers had turned them away anyway, citing danger to life and limb.
The ongoing insurrection had been particularly loud that week, derailing a train, blowing up police stations, and recently, leaving an informer crucified in the middle of the little village about eight miles away. A little gathering of respectable ladies, no matter how well chaperoned by their guards, were far too tempting a target for the soldiers to be willing to risk and the armed and armoured men made grovelling apologies, especially in light of who Annette’s father had been. She could have pressed the point, if she’d wished, but she saw the wisdom in the soldier’s caution and agreed with their decision. And so the pre-dinner entertainment was a write off and each woman retired to her own pursuits: Agatha into a fashion video downloaded straight from the runways of the capital, and Patricia went for a walk around the grounds with Pitor as an escort.
Rather than disturb Maria, Annette used the time to have her hair redone, changing the colour and getting it cemented into a full coil on top of her head, the new fashion that required padding to affect the appearance of dense fullness.
When she came to collect Phillip, she found him sitting all by himself on the floor, rubbing a circle on his thigh and staring at nothing in particular. For some reason the sight irked her, not at him but on his behalf.
“How long have you been sitting there?”
“I don’t know, My Lady,” Phillip had shot up to attention as soon as she’d walked into the room, but there was a sleepy touch of dullness in his face. “Someone came to get Miss Decovics’s fiancé a while ago.”
Annette tched. “Well then…”
Phillip shifted a little, swallowing a yawn before it could work its way out of his throat. Suffering was exhausting and his eyes were heavy hot marbles in a head that wanted to slump. Bed was a long way off, through dinner and whatever other creativity the women wanted. Annette looked irritated and restless, all the signs in the carriage of her shoulders and the tightness of her mouth.
The shove wouldn’t have beem hard enough to throw him over if he hadn’t fallen with it, down on the floor with just enough time to tuck his chin so his head wouldn’t crack open on the shellacked oak. The impact meant more pain to add to his strained joints, pinched skin and deep bruises.
She straddled him, adjusting her long skirt so she wouldn’t kneel on it. “You end up wasting too much of your time. Later I’m going to have to fix that.”
“I’m sorr…” He began but she silenced him with a hand over his mouth and shook her head.
“Don’t talk.” She kept her hand in place for a moment longer, pinching his nose to cut off most of his air. “You’ve been properly emptied, and now you need to be filled up again. I’ll have to decide with what, but your temperament gives me some ideas.”
He pulled in a breath around her hand, but kept himself from moving until she let him up. Annette gently steered him to the guest room where they had slept in the same bed and made him drink some water before she decorously and sedately perched in exceedingly ugly gilt and crushed green velvet chair. If a woman’s house was her calling card, Agatha’s was printed in a large font with a typo.
“My Lady?” Phillip stood at attention in front of Annette, arms behind his back.
“This is a new lesson, and I know it will be alien to you, but it is the first part of putting something other than patience and fear into your head,” She gave Phillip a lazy once over, appreciating her handiwork thus far. “Seduce me.”
Phillip took a few hesitating steps towards her, but she stopped him with a shake of her head.
“You’ve never made someone want you by choice, have you?”
“No my Lady.” Whores didn’t demand anything except for payment, and he was too polite to do more than compliment women of his own class. Did she mean that he was supposed to simper and flash his eyes like a debutante, or coo and declare his skill like a brothel girl?
“What do you know about what I want? Think about it and try.”
“You want me to hurt. Am I to hurt myself?”
“No.” She gave a short laugh. “Not that. What else have I told you to do? I suppose you need a hint. To seduce is to tempt and to bait. So tempt me.”
“Yes, my Lady,” tentatively, Phillip unbuttoned his vest and put it aside, and pulled his tie loose from his neck. Annette made no motion to stop him, and so his shirt followed, revealing all the marks from the previous night as he slid off the white linen. The clamps had left small scratches where they’d dug and worried his skin, while that morning’s mishap was still under a bandage. As a matter of personal taste Annette had left him with the hair on his chest and the light covering on his stomach. In her opinion the extra touch of darkness only emphasized his slimness.
“Touch yourself,” Annette cocked her head to the side. “No, not poking your shoulder, do it like you’re stroking yourself.”
With a few more nudges, Phillip figured out the jist of what she was looking for, taking his time removing the rest of his clothing. He had stopped being surprised at the transformations she’d forced on his body, first gaunt from starvation and now a streamlined version of the male ideal, disciplined and built up without the full bulk made popular by capital city gymnasiums. His shoes were followed by pants and socks; each put aside according to the well remembered training she’d already given.
In the time before his arrest he’d been fuller in shape, with a soft stomach that came with a soft life. In university he’d done his share of sports, more out of the expectation for it than a love for physical activity, as it was an easier thing to be a middling runner and a fill-in quality lacrosse player than spend his time refuting claims of homosexuality, but upon graduation he’d been drawn to more cultural pursuits and from there, to physical decay. Jail had been a sharp awakening, and in some ways a chance to refute the slide into decadence.
Annette saw the burn on his thigh, and recognized Maria’s own clumsy brand of brutality. There was a different sort of thrill there, an autograph from a friend. She knew, because of the peculiar trick of human psychology, his fear for Maria would make him cleave all the closer to the person he identified as his owner and protector.
He stood a little awkwardly, posing for her consideration. She demanded he pivot, and show off all sides of his body, stretching lazily and running his fingers through his hair. There was no part of him that she wasn’t intimately acquainted but he did his best to mimic coyness. At last, when she made no effort to hide her hunger in the way she leaned towards him and he could tell he’d succeeded in whetting her appetite for sex, he moved closer to her her, sinking down to his knees and crawling his way to her feet.
After Annette’s aborted attempt at the ride, she had dressed for dinner, choosing high necked dress of burnt umber velvet, tight at the waist in the fashion of the decade, but loose at the shoulder. A tulip cut bisected her skirt so the front panels tucked up higher than her customary calf length, an unusual touch of open sensuality given her typical sartorial choices. This gap of exposed, pale leg was the first place Phillip touched, lifting one foot to his mouth so he could kiss the pale flat place where her foot joined her ankle. He kissed the round swell of her calf and gently slipped off the soft brown leather shoe off her foot so he could kiss her sole.
The slit in her skirt opened like curtains as his mouth followed the line of her leg from heel to the inside of her thigh, all the way up to the warm, silk covered split of her crotch and back across the other side. She let him do his own exploring, fingertips lightly brushing his neck and shoulder. Ever careful of her reactions, he caressed his way up her body, this time through the fabric of the dress. She initiated the kiss but he kept it light, lip to lip contact until she forced more, grabbing the back of his head and slipping her tongue into his mouth.
Annette stood up, briefly breaking the kiss and pushing him a few steps back. Upright, he still has to stoop a little to kiss her and found himself held in place when she grabbed a handful of his hair. He felt for and found the back fastener of her dress and pulled the zipper, opening the dress in a v that terminated just at the start of her buttocks. When he lifted her arms free, the dress dropped to the floor and she stepped out of it, standing in her underclothes.
The jump surprised him, but he bore her weight without falling over as she wrapped her legs around him, supporting herself on his shoulders. They ended up on the foot of the bed, with their legs off the edge and her fingers digging hard into his skin. Following her cues, he ground his groin against hers until she flipped them and mounted him. Mindful of his recent ordeals, she allowed him some relief and restrained her impulse to further maul him with her fingernails, compromising by holding his arms over his head and laughing when it adversely effected his ability to thrust from below. Friction did its work and though he did his best to work around it, eventually he had to beg her permission to let go and allow the tension to wash out in a quick flash of warming pleasure.
Annette didn’t let him rest after he finished thrusting, dragging him further onto the bed and making him work with his mouth and fingers until she had her own orgasm. In the end they were both later for dinner, and they were completely unable to locate one of Annette’s shoes, necessitating a full change in costume.