Paradise City

Now we’re getting to the really grown up bits. This isn’t the stuff that kids should be reading.

There were some scenes that I wrote while listening to particular pieces of music. I felt that they set the right mood for me. And some of them, like the next scene, are no intertwined so deeply into that music that I can’t hear the song without being brought right back to that imaginary moment.

Since everyone reads at a different speed, I can’t guarantee that the reading will match the listening… but one day, when we make Imaginary Movie, I’ll be able to better dictate the pace.

Yes, there is an Imaginary Movie…

Anyway, this is Paradise City. Kids go no further.

 

***

Darbi lay back on the cushions in the observation tent and looked out at the rain with some relief. The rain might be her only savior that day.

Aarik loved his bagat. He had his own field on the estate. Sometimes, he got so excited by the game that he would go back to the observation tent at half time, where his wives always sat, and close the curtains for ten minutes or so. Sometimes the other players had to delay the second half for him. Bagat always meant sex and that was why, when he had come into the Women’s Wing that morning, Darbi had tried to make herself invisible. It hadn’t worked. Max had just sent Michelle off to the dentist, after a lot of protest, and Darbi and the other girls had been in the main lounge, joking about it, when Aarik turned up unannounced.

It was horrible timing. Her bleeding had started the night before. On Max’s insistence, she had been required to leave her room and spend the day with the other wives –in spite of her 4 o’clock start. He wanted her to ‘blend in’. That seemed to be his new favorite phrase. She didn’t need another lecture on how unworthy she was. Yesterday was enough, and she was tired of it. She just hated the bastard now. He didn’t know what passed between her and Aarik in private and so he could just shut the hell up.

Darbi had tried to turn away when she saw Aarik in the lounge, in the hopes he wouldn’t notice her. She couldn’t even feign a headache, because he had seen her laughing with the others. When he called her over, her heart sank. For the time being, all thoughts of her father had been swept aside and replaced with a barely veiled terror. Avoiding sex at all costs was the only thing that occupied her mind.

So as she lay back twenty minutes later and looked out at her husband’s silhouette against the gray sky, she could feel the tension lift off her chest. Flags cracked in the wet and the wind. Rain meant that there would be no game today. He was furious that the weather was the one part of his empire over which he had no control. There was no cloud darker than the one that hung over his head.

Darbi smiled quietly – a little smug. She had to admit that he was an attractive man. His features were nicely chiseled, and he took good care of himself. She could admire his form from this distance. She thought back to the first time they had been intimate – on their wedding night. It was the first time she had seen a naked man, and his body had both frightened and impressed her.

It had been a flurry of activity at first – she remembered that. Almost too busy for her to be able to stop and take stock of what had happened. She remembered standing in the Women’s Wing with her arms spread in a crucifix, while the other wives fit her in her wedding dress. She had felt like a bird that couldn’t fly. She stood there till her shoulders hurt. The dress was too tight and it scratched her. The wives had bustled and giggled.

“Be careful with the green fairy,” they had repeated. She hadn’t known what they meant.

“Ouch!” (Someone had stuck her with a pin.)

“That won’t be the last time you say that today!” And more giggles.

But it wasn’t like that…

The senator looked worried. “Your Excellency, they’re saying that, even with a break in the rain now, the ground won’t be dry until tomorrow. They’re asking whether they shouldn’t put the vehicles under some shelter at least.”

Aarik just grunted. “What does the forecast say for tomorrow?”

The senator looked down. “More rain, sir. Of course, they’re wrong as often as they’re right.”

Aarik snorted again. “We can wait a while longer. Get those men some drinks – that will keep them quiet.”

With a nod, the senator wandered back down the hill to the other tent, keeping his head down to ward off the rain. Aarik turned and stalked back inside. Darbi watched him as he broodingly stared at the refreshment table, restlessly tapping his foot. She wasn’t sure whether she should say anything. It probably wouldn’t help anyway.

She had been so nervous that night, after the wedding ceremony. She remembered that she hadn’t known what to say to him all evening. He had given her champagne, and she hadn’t liked it. It was the first time she’d ever drunk alcohol. It was illegal for unmarried women to drink – and she still wasn’t sure whether it was worth the all the fuss. It didn’t taste as pleasant as she’d expected.

After the wedding dinner, they had gone back to his chamber and he had asked her to run a bath.

“How do you like it?” she had asked – meaning the bath.

“Hot and deep,” he had replied with a wink.

She’d blushed – he didn’t mean the bath.

Aarik popped a grape in his mouth and flopped down on the cushions beside her. She worried for a moment that he might mean to start something – but the front of the tent was still open and some of his team-mates were sitting under the awning, chatting amongst themselves. He didn’t speak. He looked preoccupied for a few minutes as he stroked her stomach and traced the line of her hip. She smiled at him, trying to hide her nerves.

“My back hurts,” he finally said.

“Would you like me to see to that?” she asked.

Wordlessly, he rolled over onto his stomach and put his arms up under his head. She moved over and sat astride him. She pulled up his team jersey and went to work on his shoulders.

“Thank you,” he murmured.

The bathroom in his chamber was huge. At its center was a big, deep plunge bath, with seats around the outside. You could fit at least fifteen people in it. There were steps up in order to get into it – it sat about waist high off the ground. At one end, rather than a faucet, the water flowed down a tiled wall and into the bath as a beautiful waterfall. The wall behind it was a mixture of pearlescent blues and greens and purples. It took her breath away.

He had come into the bathroom with a bottle of green absinthe and a bowl of sugar. “You must always add the sugar in order to hide the bitterness,” he noted. “Especially when it’s served neat.” He took a small measure of sugar in a large, crystal spoon, and poured absinthe over it. He had held it to her lips to drink. It smelled nice – vaguely herbal – but it burned all the way down. There wasn’t any bitterness to note; just heat. It was more like drinking lighter fluid. She choked and coughed.

Then he took some – but he gave her more. It made her head fuzzy.

They then sat on the step of the bath and talked for a while – he had asked about St. Bessus, and he knew a bit about the town himself. She remembered thinking that he did actually care about his country. He had a good memory for things that she had always found boring: established markets and historic sites and burgeoning industries. But while their conversations these past couple weeks had seemed to come easy, now it was suddenly quite awkward. The steam in the bathroom seemed to be fogging in her mind too. He told her that she was very beautiful. He had said that before. Then he kissed her.

The senator cleared his throat from the entranceway behind them. Darbi looked around, but Aarik only shifted his head. “It has stopped raining, your Excellency,” the senator announced.

“I can hear that,” Aarik muttered, putting his head back down.

“Would you like us to wait and see how quickly the field will dry?”

Aarik sighed, and thought for a moment. “No,” he declared with some finality. “I’ll come down and see for myself.”

She didn’t know if she was supposed to kiss back – she didn’t know how. She had moved her lips a little and opened her mouth. His tongue probed gently inside. He tasted warm and a little sweet from the absinthe. She didn’t know what she was supposed to do next – she was sure that she was doing things all wrong. He had pulled back as if he could sense her trepidation.

“Is this okay?” he’d asked. She nodded lightly. It didn’t hurt or anything, and she didn’t want him to think that she didn’t like him. Then he kissed her again – deeper this time. As he did, he moved his hand across her cheek, through her hair, then down to cup one of her breasts. She tensed a little, but it was strangely exciting. He squeezed it gently, like he was testing its ripeness, then he pulled back again. This time he’d stood up and went back to the bottle of absinthe.

Darbi watched the small cluster of figures wandering around the perimeter of the field – stomping on the muddy ground and obviously deep in discussion. It didn’t look like the rain would hold off for much longer. Above them all, the sky frowned down an eerie mix of purple and gray. She smiled with triumph again as she heard the first drop hit the roof of the tent. The storm was returning. There would be no game today, and she could go back to the Women’s Wing with her secret intact.

“Have some more.” He poured her another measure and brought it to her mouth like he was feeding a child. The third measure made her quite woozy. He poured a smaller one for himself – his second – then a fourth for her. By now she had felt distinctly drunk, but she couldn’t very well refuse him.

She watched as one of the men on the field ran over to the opposing team, huddled under their own awning. He spoke to them, and they began to assemble their gear and their bikes. It was clear now that the game was off. Another man started up the hill towards the team assembled outside Aarik’s tent.

Darbi got up and scooped up her own shawl, readying herself for the move back inside the palace. She picked up a couple of grapes and wrapped the shawl around her head and shoulders.

“I feel that I need a bath,” he’d announced. Then he started to take off his shirt. She wasn’t sure that she was supposed to stay and watch, but she was sure that she now wouldn’t be able to make it to the door without falling over, so she stayed where she was.

He had a big, barrel of a chest, a lot like her father’s, but he looked fitter and younger. He most resembled a man who might work in the fields for a living; well muscled but not to the point of absurdity. His skin was darkened from the sun and he obviously took better care of his body than he had to. It was scary. He was stronger than she first thought.

He took off his rings and his watch, and asked her for help with his boots. He sat on the side of the bath as she removed them. At least his feet don’t smell, she had thought. Then he undid his belt as he stood up, and she found herself facing the first penis she had ever seen.

“Game on,” the voice behind her declared.

“Isn’t it too wet?” came the question from one of the team.

“He still wants to play,” the first voice replied.

Darbi nearly choked on her grape.

After one frozen moment, she looked away – embarrassed to be caught staring. He’d chuckled. He stepped out of his pants and wandered back across the room, idly stroking himself. “Have you ever seen a naked man before?” he asked as he poured another drink – scotch and water this time. She shook her head, unable to say anything. “No?” he said, glancing back at her. “Ah, you’re a good girl.” It was more a compliment than anything else.

He turned around to face her, posing just a little. “What do you think?” he asked playfully.

She was trying not to stare, but the thing between his legs looked so alien and daunting. “I think there’s no way that’s going to fit in there,” she said, honestly.

He’d roared with laughter. He had a big, bear-like laugh which put her more at ease.

“Don’t you worry about that.” He strolled back to where she was sitting, sipping his drink. “Would you like to touch it?” She blushed again – she didn’t know how to respond. “It’s all right. He doesn’t bite.” She wasn’t sure but, gingerly, she raised a hand and stroked the skin along the top of his penis. She was surprised at how soft and warm it felt – like a baby’s skin. She had thought it would be rougher – more like she expected a man to feel. Her touch seemed to electrify him. He closed his eyes. “Good girl,” he repeated. “Keep doing that.”

Holding on the brake, Aarik revved his engine to a squeal – both forcing out and reining in the bike at the same time. Darbi winced like the motorcycle was in pain.

She only heard the rumble of the engines as the rest of the teams took their places. She had gone pale and sat back down on the cushions, this time facing away from the field. If they meant to play then her afternoon was far from over.

An older woman busied herself under the awning, clearing away the team’s glasses and bottles. “How can they play in this weather?” she clucked to no one in particular. “They’ll break their necks!”

Darbi hoped she was right. Maybe the rain and mud would make play too difficult or dangerous. Maybe Aarik wouldn’t enjoy himself after all…

As ordered, she kept stroking it – delicately, sometimes barely touching him. The skin on the tip was even softer, more like membrane than skin – like the inside of your mouth. Quickly, his penis started to rise up and grow bigger. She pulled her hand away, frightened. “What’s it doing?” she asked.

He smiled. “That just means he likes you. Come on.” He helped her to her feet and started to unlace her dress. It fell away to the floor and he stood back to admire her in her underwear. She had never been so naked in front of a man before, not even a doctor. Her skin goose-bumped. Her first response was to fold her arms across her bosom, but she didn’t – she didn’t think he would like it. “You really are a beauty,” he had said, appreciatively. Her head was swimming. He moved in and kissed her again, wrapping his arms around her and pressing their bodies together. She could feel his penis pressed firm and hot against her belly. He moved one hand up behind her head as he pushed his tongue deeper inside her mouth. With the other, he moved around and cupped her breast again, this time gently squeezing her nipple between his fingers. With a whimper, she pulled back. She knew where this was leading and she wasn’t ready.

She had never understood the rules of this game. It vaguely resembled polo, only on motorcycles, and with a flag rather than a ball. It was a noisy, violent sport – something between a race and a jousting tournament. She knew that teams scored points by completing certain complex runs on the field, and she knew that it was okay to knock your opponents off their motorbikes or force them off the field. Beyond that, she could never tell how the game was scored or who was in the lead. However, the scoreboard kept the crowd up-to-date and betting was encouraged, meaning that important games always had a big turnout.

Spectators yelled appalling things at the teams. “Get him, Conrad! Tear his nuts off!!!” “Aw! Ref, you’re crazy! Boooo…” “Kill that cunt!” She abhorred these men – Aarik’s friends. People who talked about sport like it was war and war like it was sport.

Aarik was apparently quite good, or so Darbi had overheard others saying. But then, it was always difficult to tell whether they were being honest or just ingratiating. Whenever she needed to appear interested, she would simply clap when the rest of the crowd clapped. They always clapped louder when the Emperor did something, so it was easy to tell when she was supposed to look pleased. He certainly did seem to be ruthless player – often scoring some big hits against opposing team members. He had never been seriously hurt either, which must have meant he was doing something right.

But Darbi wasn’t sure that she wanted to watch this game. She stood in the doorway to the tent, watching the teams struggle through the mud down below. The cold wind blew the rain in her face and made her clothes wet enough to cling to her. She wondered whether she should go further back inside the tent, but the rain made it harder to see the field.

Perhaps that was for the best. She watched as her husband and a teammate tackled another man off his bike. Only it wasn’t so much tackling the opposing player as physically lifting him between them, bike and all, and carrying him backward several feet before hurling him down into the mud. She saw the wide open smile on Aarik’s face as he turned his head back towards her. She withdrew quickly into the shadow like she had been stung.

“Shh, it’s okay.” His tone was gentle, coaxing. He moved to her again, holding her head between his hands as he kissed her, and then shifting one hand under her brassiere, then the other. His hands were strong and firm. He rolled her erect nipples between his fingers, and then pulled her bra down to expose her breasts. Wordlessly, he sat her down on the edge of the bath and bent over her to take one of her nipples in his mouth. She gasped and squirmed – what was she supposed to do? She felt for a moment as if she needed to pee. He sucked hard, lashing his tongue against her nipple, then moved to the other breast as if he meant to devour her. Darbi’s loins tightened, but her brain was trying to shift into a panic. With a hand against his shoulder, she tried to gently push him away. He just pushed harder against her, using a free hand to pull her chest towards him. She felt something hot drip onto her leg, below where his penis was hanging. She imagined for a crazy moment that he meant to urinate on her. With more force, she pushed him away and stood up, aware that he had let her push him back. She had to blink a few times to steady herself. Her head was full of cotton.

Perhaps she could pretend to be sick. Darbi wondered if she could force herself to vomit or faint in order to be sent back to quarters. But getting even a little sick would mean that a nurse would be called, and any check on her “baby” was sure to expose her secret. Darbi was sure that she couldn’t ask for Mika specifically without arousing suspicion. She restlessly paced about the tent, frantically trying to think what to do.

How could she escape?

“It’s okay,” he repeated – passively, comforting. “I won’t hurt you.”

She squeezed her eyes closed to stop the room spinning – she groped for the towel rail and held on.

“Are you okay?” He sounded genuinely concerned. She didn’t respond. “You don’t have to be frightened – here.” He helped her sit on the edge of the bath again, but Darbi still held onto the towel rail. He gently undid her bra and let it drop to the floor. “Come sit in the bath with me,” he said. “Maybe it will clear your head… If you feel like you’re going to throw up, just tell me. Okay?”

She nodded.

An angry roar from the crowd snapped her out of her daydream. She moved to the entranceway to see what had happened.

Aarik had been knocked down and stayed down a bit longer. Her heart leapt. Perhaps he had been hurt!

Then she admonished herself. He was her husband – she wasn’t supposed to hope that he would be injured!

A few others were also showing obvious, wide, red streaks of blood down their faces and arms – mingling with the mud and rain to flow freely. Aarik was checked and helped up from where he had landed. “Walk it off!” someone in the anonymous crowd shouted.

The referee blew the whistle for half time. Aarik limped off the field towards her.

He stepped up into the bath and let himself sink into the warm water. She watched as he lowered his head under the surface and then come back up with an explosion of breath. “Come on,” he repeated, wiping the water off his face. She slowly stood up, steadying herself with the rail and slipped off her shoes and stockings. “You’ll have to take off those,” he smiled, indicating to her panties. She hesitated for a moment, but he was right. She lowered her eyes and rolled down her underwear. When she looked up again, he was grinning. “Very nice,” he said. She didn’t know whether to be flattered – it was really nothing of her making. She tried to step into the bath as demurely as possible, without losing her footing. The water was warm and soothing. It didn’t clear her head – just made it mistier. He lay back and let his feet stretch out towards the other side. She sat opposite him, unsure of what to do next. He wouldn’t stop looking at her.

He wore a peaceful smile as he sipped his drink and stroked her hair. Darbi was kneeling on the floor of the tent, holding a cold compress to the inside of his left thigh.

“Mmmm…” he intoned, “it’s so much better when you do it.”

It hadn’t escaped her attention that she was just inches from his groin.

“Are you sure you haven’t torn anything?” She tried to sound more worried than hopeful. “This muscle doesn’t feel right… Perhaps you could sit out some of the second half. I would hate to think of you ending up with a serious injury.”

Aarik just kept smiling. “Don’t worry, I’ll be fine.”

She fell into silence.

Her hands were shaking. She was hoping he didn’t notice.

“I liked your father,” he said. “Interesting man.”

“Thanks,” she had mumbled.

“Was he a good father when you were younger? Was he kind to you?”

“Yes, always,” she replied.

“I’ll bet you were his favorite,” the Emperor smiled again.

Darbi was confused – he already knew she was an only child.

She shook her head. “There was only me.”

“Oh, that’s right…” He kept gazing at her, now with some kind of sympathy. “Sorry, I’m just used to everyone having siblings. I have 39 brothers and 36 sisters. I can’t imagine growing up without them.”

The rain began to ease off in the second half, but by now it wasn’t offering Darbi much hope anyway. Steam rose up off the players and their engines. She really was feeling ill now. She wanted to burst into tears again, and just wished they would get the game over with. It was starting to feel like she was waiting for her own execution.

Maybe she was.

“Was your father kind to you?” She was sure, as soon as she’d said it, that it wasn’t an appropriate question to ask. Her mother would have been horrified.

He seemed a little surprised and amused by her question. “Most of the time… Once, when I was eight, my older sister pushed me to the ground – I forget why. My father saw this and took me inside and beat me across the back of my legs with a cane. He told me that he did this to teach me that he was the only one who was allowed to raise a hand to me.”

His story disquieted her a little. There was an awkward silence.

“But most of the time he was kind,” he continued. “He was a very great man and I still miss him… You will make me sad now – talking about my father. This is my wedding night, I should be happy.”

“I’m sorry,” she replied disjointedly.

He smiled again. “Come here.” She waded across the bath and sat next to him. He handed her a sponge and turned slightly away, pointing to his back. “Would you?” She nodded to acquiesce. She took the soap and soaped up his back, making big circles on it with the sponge.

The scoreboard showed a thin lead for Aarik’s team as the game moved into its final minute. The opposition was trying hard, but they were starting to look frustrated. Darbi watched the clock counting down.

The rain had stopped now, and the early-evening sun was even starting to peek through.

The horn sounded for the end of the game, and the crowd let out a grateful cheer. Darbi’s whole skin began to ache.

“What’s this?” She indicated to a small, deep scar on his back.

“That’s where I was thrown from a horse when I was sixteen, and I landed on a fence. Broke three ribs and almost punctured my lung… I don’t like horses.”

“They don’t always do what they’re told,” she said softly, sadly.

He turned to look at her again. He was curious and a little challenged. After looking her over for a few moments, he took her hand and kissed it. “You don’t have to be afraid of me. Remember?”

His touch made her break into goosebumps again. She was afraid of him.

As the group wound their way back to the palace, Darbi was in a full panic, but trying hard not to show it. She felt like she couldn’t breathe. The Emperor boomed with passionate explanation as he critiqued a play to one of his team-mates, but Darbi could only force a sympathetic smile. Inside, every thread of her soul was screaming and praying. If only she could get to Mika somehow. She needed a plan, and she needed one fast.

Still holding her hand, he pressed it flat to his chest. She could feel his heart beating. “You feel that?” he asked. “You see? I am a man; I live and breathe like any other.” He then put his hand on her chest, placing it flat between her breasts. “And you are a woman – not a girl anymore. You are married now.”

The team marched into the hall, leaving muddy footprints all over the stone floor. The Emperor excused himself and ushered Darbi into his private changing room by the entrance. The changing room was all bleached wood and tiles, with its own showers, massage table and exercise equipment. A tray of small cakes and fruit, a jug of juice and a pot of hot coffee had been set up on a table as one end, and the smell combined with the scent of the disinfectant he sometimes applied to his bagat wounds. He collapsed happily onto one of the benches, and continued his story to Darbi as she unbuckled his shoulder pads. She wasn’t listening – he was mostly just talking to himself. He had wet mud layered through his hair and down the back of his shirt. She stripped off his shirt and wiped away the excess mud. Then, as he kept talking, she knelt at his feet and removed his knee pads, boots and socks. He stood up and removed his shorts himself. Darbi helped him step out of the shorts and tried not to glance up at his genitals as he scratched himself. He moved past her to the table and helped himself to an apple, ignoring the rest. She collected up his gear from the floor and began to lay it out for cleaning. He then moved back as she stood up, and held the last piece of the apple to her lips. She gingerly took a bite. He stroked her hair and breathed in its smell. He was becoming aroused.

He moved to kiss her – softly, tenderly this time. His hands slipped around her waist and he gently pulled her into his lap. One arm encircled her back and held her upright. She could feel his penis lapping against her thigh as it moved with the water. He kissed her again. He kissed her lips, her cheek, her neck and her shoulder. He caressed her breasts – gently now, carefully. Darbi’s loins tightened again. Her nipples were erect and upright. “Does that feel good?” he asked, kissing her shoulder again. She nodded. It felt very good. He kept caressing her breasts – letting his fingertips pass over each nipple and giving each a tender squeeze. He let his fingers move between her breasts and traces lines down her stomach, under the water. He traced circles around her navel. He kept kissing her shoulder, her neck, and then up to her ear. That made her tingle all over. His hand traced down from her navel and between her legs. Darbi caught her breath. The grip around her waist tightened a little. His fingertips explored into her slit. They found the small pip of her clitoris and he rolled it between his fingers. She jumped like she’d been hit by lightning, and let out a little moan. He held her firmly. He was still kissing her ear. “That feels good, huh?” he whispered, continuing to roll the nubbin around. It felt amazing, but she almost wished he’d stop. It was so sensitive that she thought she might be clinging to the ceiling in a moment. He pushed past her clitoris and further down, letting his fingers find the way to her opening. He gently pushed one finger inside her. Darbi gasped again, but it didn’t really hurt that much. “Nice,” he breathed. His finger explored the cushiony softness inside her, then he withdrew. He took her hand and brought it down to encircle his penis. It was now hard and engorged again – it looked slightly purple under the water. It was very hot to the touch. He put her hand around to grip it, and then moved it up and down the shaft, like she was milking a cow. He groaned. “Just like that”, he said, letting go of her hand. She figured that meant that she was supposed to keep going, so she did.

“You need a shower,” she teased with false playfulness, trying desperately to hide the fact that she was quaking all over.

“First maybe you need to get a little dirty,” he growled back.

He pushed back her hair and started to kiss her neck. Oh God, she thought, this is it! He moved his hands to her breasts. She put her arms around his neck. His skin was cold from the mud.

He leaned back and reached for his drink again. He sat back, sipping from his glass and watching her as she stroked his member. Then he moved his hand between her legs again. She could feel the blood pulsing through her pelvis. His fingers rubbed her clitoris, then pushed inside her again – first one finger, then an attempt at two. Two fingers felt very tight and a little painful, but it was bearable. She had the sudden, new feeling that she wanted something in there.

Suddenly, a plan jumped into her head. It was a stupid plan, but it was all that she had.

He withdrew again and stood up. He helped her up to sit on the edge of the bath, where the water flowed down, and then he had her lie back. The water tickled around her back and buttocks and flowed through her hair. He knelt on the seat in the bath, positioning himself between her legs, and leant over her, covering her body with his. He kissed her face while his hands caressed her breasts. Then he moved his mouth down and gently sucked on her nipples – first one and then the other. She gasped with pleasure. He leaned in closer and kissed her neck. She felt his erect penis pushing lightly into her slit. It slid back and forth against her clitoris – that felt really good.

He was still kissing her neck, while his hands moved down and started to pull up her skirt. “Oh Max,” she breathed.

He stopped and jerked his head back. “What did you call me?”

“Uh… I…” she stammered in a rush. The hair on her scalp prickled. Her eyes were wide. Her fear was genuine. “M… I mean Aarik.” He just stared at her. “It’s not what you think… I’m so sorry, Aarik… I didn’t mean to…”

His eyes grew narrow. “I knew it. You little…”

“Please forgive me…” she blurted out. “I’ll… I’ll go if you want.”

Then he pulled back slightly and pressed the head of his penis against the opening to her vagina. At first it felt like there was no opening there at all – that he was just pressing against the skin. Then, with one firm push, he was inside her.

Out of instinct, Darbi ducked, causing his first blow to glance off her shoulder. Jerking her up and holding her, his second and third blows found their mark.

She gasped. It wasn’t the sharp, stabbing pain she’d expected – more of a sudden, over-stretched tear, like pulling a muscle.

For a crazy moment, she thought he’d hit her with a piece of wood. She never knew a hand could hurt that much. Dizzy, Darbi gripped her face as he threw her back and pinned her against the wall. Blood streamed from her nose as she sobbed.

“WHAT DID YOU CALL ME?” he yelled again.

Darbi just sniveled and shook her head, trying to catch her breath. Another flurry of strikes saw her shriek in terror and try to protect her head with her arms. “I’M SORRY!” she kept repeating. A backhand across her eye sent her sideways and a sharp kick put her sprawling to the tiles.

He withdrew a little, then pushed in again, and again. Just like a pulled muscle, each time he repeated the movement, it burned. But despite the pain, it wasn’t entirely unpleasant. In a strange way, it also felt good – like she needed it inside her. He gently thrust in and out, breathing audibly with each stroke. She tried to focus on the good feeling and force out the pain as he continued carefully pumping.

Next thing she knew, he was kneeling on top of her, ripping at her blouse. “YOU’RE NOT GOING ANYWHERE!” he screamed, splitting buttons and seams but the silk still held surprisingly firm. She bawled, disoriented and shielding her face like a terrified child. She tasted blood.

Switching his attention to her skirt, she suddenly wailed with realization. “NO!” Darbi didn’t know where the movement came from, but she found herself thrashing and fighting him. Her nails and teeth tried to get purchase in skin, yet her effort felt pitiful against his strength. He was so much stronger than she’d ever imagined. She screamed and pleaded again, sounding more animal than human.

He hooked an arm around behind her leg and pushed her thigh up against her chest. Moving to be more upright, he pushed into her as deep as he could go. She cried out in pain.

Even with her wrists held down, Darbi bucked and twisted her legs, trying to get him off her. She sobbed the whole time. As they struggled, her teeth eventually found flesh, and she bit down onto his arm as hard as she could. Aarik bellowed and socked her clean in the jaw.

He leaned forward again, still thrusting in deep. His breathing was heavier now – hers came in little whimpers with every thrust. He was going in too far – it hurt now more than it felt good. Tears welled up involuntarily but she was afraid to ask him to stop. He pushed on and on. Oh, please God, she thought, just let him be finished quickly.

For a moment he let her squirm out and crawl away, choking and coughing on her own blood. Her hair hung down over her face. Her head rung. Aarik stood up, panting and nursing his injured arm, before crossing to her.

“Wasn’t I always good to you?” he barked. “Why would you make me do this?”

She spat onto the floor. “I’m sorry.”

“You ungrateful little whore! GET UP!” When she still didn’t respond, he let the rage boil up again. “I SAID GET UP!!!” On the last word, he kicked her hard in the kidney and sent her to the ground again. Darbi curled into a fetal position, sobbing loudly as he kicked her several more times, her head bouncing off the tiles with each blow.

“Please stop!” she tried to scream but the air just wouldn’t come.

Instead, he shifted position again. He knelt more upright and pulled her pelvis towards him as he worked. His gentleness was gone now – he was sweating and straining, pounding into her. She was panting like an injured animal. She clenched her fists so hard that her acrylic nails dug into her flesh. One of her fingernails bent back with the pressure. She tried to focus on that pain instead of the pain in her abdomen. She looked up at him pleadingly, but he didn’t seem to see her. He was groaning now. “Oh yeah,” he breathed. “That’s a good girl!” She couldn’t say anything. She opened her mouth but his thrusting just pushed the sound out in short, wounded barks. She didn’t know whether he noticed, or whether he just thought she was gasping in pleasure.

He got hold of her hair, hauling her up to her knees again and over one of the hard wooden benches in front of him. Darbi fought back, kicking and twisting her body the other way, clutching at his wrist and trying to claw for his face. She was dazed but some primal, cold, lizard instinct in her brain still seemed to know what he wanted. Aarik responded by taking her by the throat.

Suddenly, his breath caught in a stuttering moan. He pushed faster and deeper into her than ever before. She cried out again, arching her back and straining to pull away – it hurt so much – but his grip around her hips tightened. He held her against him for a few moments, and then released her. His whole body seemed to melt, exhausted. He collapsed on top of her.

She dug her nails in and silently pleading as he throttled. Her face felt tight. There was a howling, doughy sound in her ears, set to the fast rhythmic thump of her heartbeat. He was yelling something but she could no longer hear him. Everything was far away.

She lay there for a moment, hoping that that was the end of it. He was heavy and sweating. Her vagina throbbed with pain and he was still inside her. They were both panting.

“Mmmm,” he had rolled his face over and kissed her cheek. He was smiling. “Good girl… That wasn’t so bad was it?”

Darbi let out a sob.

Then things went mercifully black.

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