To make it up, I'm posting the promised first chapter of the newest Drury Jamison book. This is not a Detective Eleanor Silver book or related to Safe Words in any way. It is a mystery though and covers a bit about the journey through a BDSM world. I really hope you enjoy it.
The whip that flashed across the stage cracked like a lighting strike. The sound was sharp as hate and as startling as profanity in church. If the audience was not already silent before the sound, they would have been after.
Another flash of leather and another snapping strike. Many in the audience jumped but they didn’t make a sound. The amazing thing was, the man against whom the whip was being trained made no sound either. Just a few minutes before, he had been introduced as Devon. After he smiled at the audience he had removed his shirt and stepped up to be shackled to two crossed beams on a pallet. The beams, called a St. Andrew’s cross, resembled a large X. The man, chained to it with his back exposed to the audience, looked like a tragedy waiting to happen.
His back was red and crossed all over with the tracks of other strikes. First there had been the belt-like, leather striker. Then he had been flogged with a nine tail whip. Then the long, flashing, single tail that cracked with threat.
Between the impacts of hard leather on soft skin there had been another kind of contact. The woman wielding the whips had touched the man freely and possessively. She had pressed her lips and breasts to his back. On occasion she had asked loudly if he would do as she told him.
The answer, always, “Yes, Ma’am,” spoken by Devon, in a clear, even joyous voice, disturbed some in the audience as much as the sound of the whips striking him. Earlier, the woman had made him lick her boots and kneel at her feet quietly as she spoke. She had used him to show off the whips and a few other things that had delighted some and, as always, shocked many.
She drew back her arm and let the leather fly again. Again it cracked. Again. Again. Finally in a flurry of five ripping strikes of leather lighting she finished. She knew how much they loved and feared the whip.
It was theatrics though. All of it was theatrical, done for effect and to provoke, but that last part of the demonstration was complete illusion. Devon had not been touched. The single tail, braided, bull skin whip would have sliced to the bone if it had made contact with that kind of velocity. The other strikes, those from the flat leather striker and nine tail—those were real. As were the paddle slaps she had begun the demo with. It was fun. It was a lot of fun and sexy to do such things with an audience, many of whom were not completely comfortable with the interplay of a dominant and submissive in a bondage/flogging scene. Theatrics though, the sound, the genuine reaction of Devon, showing it all as a loving and playful expression, was what she was here for.
“Trust,” Said Seneca Graves, as she stepped away from Devon, still chained on the cross. “That is the element that everything comes down to in this world.” She coiled the whip and set it on the table beside the full assortment of other strikers, whips, floggers, and paddles. At the other end of the table were a selection of restraints in leather, metal, and high tech looking black plastic and nylon. Between the whips and bonds, an orderly array of toys was arranged about a large pink phallus, standing proud in the middle of the display.
She walked downstage taking full advantage of the light and her proximity to the audience. Her hips were liquid smooth in their movements accentuated by the tight, black, textured silk skirt that terminated just below the knee. The heels she wore, glossy red and high as a Texas oil derrick ticked on the floor. They set a steady time like a slow back beat that made each step important and telegraphed the shifting of her hips. Above, swaying in gentle counter point, were her breasts. It would have been an easy choice to strap them up and push them out to show the deep valley of cleavage under her white silk top. Instead, Seneca, always aware of the power of movement, chose a bra of filmy and sheer spandex with an underwire. Everything was kept where it should be but there was still almost nothing between her and the rest of the world. Let them look she always said. Make them look, was what she always meant.
Downstage center she stopped.
“A lot of people will tell you it’s about power. You hear words like dominance and submission, power exchange, discipline—it seems natural. It’s false reasoning based on the assumption that there is a unidirectional flow of desire from the Dominant to the submissive. The truth is, these are relationships, just as strong, as meaningful, and messy as any other in your life.”
As she spoke she scanned the audience. The size was a surprise. Not long ago her talks were given to thirty or fifty people. Once, she had spoken to a group of only three women and an eighty year old man. The auditorium she looked out over was full. Despite the size, it was still the usual assortment for a conference crowd, practitioners, observers, students, wannabes, and the ever growing troop of haters. There were two kinds of these. The first, and easiest to deal with, were men, bondage lifestyle veterans, who found themselves for the first time, the establishment in opposition to Seneca’s brand of feminism and to the ideas in her latest book, Counterfeit Dominance.
The other group was more difficult. They were politically and personally conservative UWP’s—uptight white people. Those that seemed to think any lifestyle choice other than roast beef and mashed potatoes on Tuesday night and missionary sex on Saturdays, was wrong. There were always some UWP’s around but it was so much worse after publishing Counterfeit Dominance. In the book, she had also claimed that many male oriented dominance tropes, from military uniforms and swagger, from warfare itself down to professional sports, even rape culture, were a form of misdirected sexual display. No one had really cared, or even paid attention for that matter, until she had ended up on television. First she said publicly, in an interview on ESPN, of all places, that those displays had more effect, culturally, as homoeroticism. In football, she had said, pads accentuate the male form while skin tight clothing reveals it, then men wallow together in ritualistic activity that is both hyper aggressive and sexualized while at the same time absurdly homophobic. After that, on a late night talk show that featured both a Superbowl champion and a conservative presidential contender, she told the gleeful host that sexual displays of dominance, ultimately give power to the person to whom the display is directed. When the candidate and the footballer tried ganging up on her, Seneca calmly offered to hold the ruler if they really wanted to, get the measure of things.”
After weeks of publicity, people who had never read her book, or any book of psychology and sexuality, were loudly denouncing her and ideas they didn’t really understand. The positive thing was that it filled the halls for her talks on BDSM, sexuality, and culture. The very negative thing was that it filled them with the wrong kind of people—those who already knew their answers and had no interest in any others.
“This,” she said gesturing back to the table with the leather and toys. “Is what you all think about when we talk about BDSM and the roles of Dominant and submissive.” There was a titter through the audience that confirmed today’s crowd had many wannabes but she loved the curiosity seekers. Those minds could transform and grow. A movement off stage caught her eye. Seneca took a quick look and saw that it was Mark. He was one of a pair of rent-a-cops that the event organizer had hired. One white and one black man, just like a PC television show. They were a new addition to her appearance, brought on when the controversy around her reached the point of death threats. Never mind that in America today, publically saying climate change is a concern, or that evolution was more than a simple theory, could earn anyone death threats. Still, more than most people Seneca understood the power of passions out of control.
“But these things are not bondage. Gun freedom advocates are fond of saying that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Think of that here. Ropes don’t bind people, people bind people. And, like I said a moment ago, it comes back around to trust. Forget the toys and the accoutrements. It’s people. You would be foolish to use these things on someone with whom you would not share more common intimacies. I hear horror stories everyday of someone posting an ad on a classified site, or social networking, meeting a stranger to be bound. I’m here to tell you, that is not BDSM. It may not even be sane.”
Gesturing backward with a hand whose gleaming red nails matched the shoes and lipstick, she pointed again to the man on the cross. “Devon there, has given, through trust, his consent to allow me to treat him as I see fit. That is a responsibility that I am compelled to live up to. It is the interplay between trust and responsibility that gives both of us a power in the relationship. Yes, he has power. Forget the images of dark dungeons where someone is imprisoned and flogged. That’s brutality. Not Dominance.”
From the audience, there was a humph of derision. It came from a thick cluster of leather clad men. In the middle of them, Seneca could just make out one face with a slack jaw grin like a joker on heavy downers. Her gaze locked with his for an instant and in that time he communicated a sense of hatred and black loathing that went beyond anything inspired by the recent publicity. He reached and ran his fingers under his unshaved chin in a movement so deliberate that that it could have only been intentional. Was it a hanging motion or a throat cutting motion though? Seneca couldn’t tell. What she could tell was that the crazies were out.
For a few minutes more she spoke. The man in the audience was no longer in view. There was no telling if he had moved or if she had lost him in the glare and the milling faces. It didn’t matter, she told herself. She was glad to be rid of him. After the applause, she released Devon from the cross but not before she slipped a hand in front of him and squeezed the erection through his pants.
“Better get that thing settled down,” she whispered. “Or don’t. It never hurts to raise a few eyebrows. I need you to get a shirt on though, then go out front and make sure everything is set up there. After that come back here and put everything away.”
Devon nodded and went to put on his shirt which he left untucked.
Seneca remained back stage. She always took a few minutes to rest and relax while Devon headed to the next room to check out the small riser on which she would be signing books and answering some audience questions.
“You don’t look convinced,” she said to Mark as she walked over to the guard.
“What do I know?” He answered. “You and me,” he pointed back and forth from his chest to hers with a thick finger. “We’re in different worlds.”
Seneca smiled. “You’d be surprised how close all the worlds are. My world, yours, the president’s, a preacher’s, or a rodeo clown, they can all be bridged with a handshake.”
“Maybe so. But my bridge leads pretty much to my wife and she is not as open minded as me.”
“Open minded as you?” The question came from Delray Adam, the second of the security guards. He was crossing the stage behind the curtains. “The only thing open about you is your mouth when dinner’s served.”
“How about you then?” Seneca asked Delray. “What do you think about all this?”
“I think you’re dead on,” he said without hesitating. “I think it’s just people. Everything else is just a way to get other people closer or keep them back.”
“You do listen.”
“Miz Adam may not have raised the smartest boy, but she brought him up to listen. And to keep his judgements to himself.” He winked as a genuine grin spread over his dark face.
Seneca upped the volume behind her smile and noticed his eyes flit to her chest once she began to turn to Mark. When her gaze came around to him, Mark’s eyes were flitting up from her backside.
Men. Predictable and wonderful.
“You could learn something from him,” she said to Mark tilting her head back to his partner. “He’s a wise man.”
“Oh, he’s something alright,” Mark responded.
Seneca laughed again as she turn away from both men walking toward the stage stairs. She let her behind sway for a moment before stopping to put each thumb under the broad black waspie belt that cinched her waist. She leveraged the belt away and squirmed under it for a moment giving herself a deeper breath of air and playing with the men she knew were watching. When she started walking again she asked, “Coming, guys?”
“Just about,” Mark said so quietly she never would have heard if she wasn’t listening for it.
The event was held as a part of a larger lifestyle gathering that had taken over the convention center. To get to the lobby atrium where the signing was being held, they had to walk through a long space packed with vendors of gear, clothing, books, and videos. As they passed, people shouted Seneca’s name trying to call her over to get an endorsement or just to be seen with her. She was embraced and selfied by leather men and body paint girls. Her shoes were kissed by men who insisted on kneeling to her. Seneca took it all in stride and with a smile. Attention was like a warm drug shot right into an artery. It felt good. It was wonderful to know as well that she had something to do with the numbers here and opening up to new ideas. She believed in tolerance and was gratified for any chance to spread the word and good will.
At one booth she stopped to admire a flock of women, wearing only tiny panties and strategic rope bonds, suspended from a steel pole structure. When she stepped into the center and posed with the women for pictures other people pushed in. After a couple of flashes more joined in on both sides of the cameras. People pressed in tighter laughing and saying her name, some trying to shake her hand or press their face to hers. Large digital cameras and cell phones popped white strobes and red focusing dots tracked her body.
Fun started to close in and darken with the crush of people. The hanging girls lost their smiles first. They were helpless in the mass. Two of them were gagged and their faces began to show the first tinges of panic.
“Okay,” Seneca said in a half shout that barely pierced the din. “Be careful!” She shouted. A new group, party boys there to gawk and fantasize, came around a corner and saw the fun they were missing. As they joined, pushing and prying their way into the throng, Seneca shouted again. This time she called for Mark and Delray.
They had already begun pushing aside the new comers crowing the front of the mass. When Seneca shouted for them, they worked in greater earnest to clear a path for her.
For Seneca Graves, the hot squirming pile of humanity suddenly became a cold and isolated place. Hands, rough and forceful, grabbed at her from behind. One pulled up the back of her skirt and forced itself up to grab the soft skin at her inner thigh. The fingers were like clammy snakes touching and reaching for the secret places of her body. One finger curled under the fabric of her panties and pulled. She could feel rather than hear them rip.
At the same time as the one hand invaded her skirt another, reached around her waist. It was connected to a strong arm coiled with tattoos that were as roughhewn and hateful as the embrace.
Seneca opened her mouth to scream. She turned her head to look. Both actions were cut off by the press of a face behind her ear and the voice it carried. There was no other sound in the world. Seneca could see the people and their mouths forming words or laughter. She could see Mark and Delray, pulling at people and the read the shouts on their lips but the only words she heard were the whispers of the mouth in her hair.
“You fucking bitch,” it said. Then the left hand at her waist reached up and cupped her breast. The fingers dug like blunt knives in her skin searching for the nipple. When the found it, they twisted savagely. The hand between her legs jerked at her panties, ripping them further and pulling them to the side over one cheek of her ass before reaching deeper to stroke at the bare skin Seneca had waxed bare only the night before.
“Hairless, cunt,” the voice whispered. The words were like hammers. “You don’t know fuck all about being dominant. But you’re gonna damn well learn to get on your knees. Feminist is just a word for a whore that ain’t been fucked right yet.”
Then, in a sudden shock of noise, the hands and the voice were gone. All movement in the pile has ceased and everyone was looking at her in stunned surprise. Seneca heard her own voice, shrill and raging, scream, “Stop it! Stop it! Stop! Get the fuck off of me!”
At about the same time, Mark and Delray shoved the last couple of hangers-on aside and reached Seneca. Around the corner came running more security guards and the people on the floor and crowding around began to wander off, once again laughing. Seneca looked around for the man with the hands and the hate. It was as though he had been a ghost who faded into the mists of night.
She didn’t bother to ask Mark or Delray if they had seen him, she was sure they would say no. She was sure also, even the other people pressed against her would have noticed nothing.
“Are you alright?” Mark asked putting a hand on her shoulder. He took it away when she flinched.
“I’m fine,” she answered. “Do you have a knife?”
“I do,” Delray pulled a tactical knife from his pocket and flipped the blade open with his thumb.
“Cut these girls down. Mark, take the gags off those two.”
“Just a minute,” a man said. He was the rope master who, until that point had been grinning and happy to have the activity around his booth. “You can’t do that. I spent a lot of time on those knots and bindings. You’re not going to just cut them off.”
“Your charges were in danger and now they’re afraid. You need to take care of them.”
“Nobody’s hurt,” he said with a creeping petulance to his voice. “But those knots—”
“Shut the fuck up,” Delray said with a sweep of his hand on a support rope.
The girl fell gently into Mark’s arms. He whispered to and held the frightened girl as his partner sliced through the knots.
“What the hell is this,” Delray asked.
“This is shibari, Japanese rope tying,” the rope master said.
“If you’re going to do something as dangerous as this you need to know more about what you’re doing,” Seneca said. “Shibari is not correct. That’s just like saying knot tying. You could be talking about fishing lures or tying up the dog. Kinbaku is bondage tying.”
Who gives a fuck?” The rope master whined. “This is my business.”
“Well you suck at it,” Seneca said then pointed at the center girl still suspended. “Get her next,” she said. “Her hands and joints are red and swelling. How long have you had her in that inverted shrimp tie? You should have tied the ankles to the chest harness not the neck for a long suspension. These were originally for torture you know. There’s a reason for that.”
“You’re an asshole, Dave,” the first free girl, said to the rope master as she sat on the floor and rubbed her joints.
“Yeah,” Delray said as he cut the next girl down. “You’re an asshole, Dave.”
“Whatever,” Dave said as he wandered into his booth and began tossing out the girl’s clothes.
“Why do people do this? Mark asked as he lowered another girl to the floor.
Seneca was not watching them. She was scanning the pushed back crowd and faces that passed on the floor. “It looks sexy,” she said as she picked through men one by one. “It can feel sexy as hell if the rope master knows what he’s doing. Not just being tied up and vulnerable, that’s a part of it for some, but being a part of a living piece of art that is beautiful inside and out. That can be…” For an instant, a face flashed through a gap of people. Seneca felt the eyes on her like a small violation, an echo of something greater. Then it was gone. “It can be something… transcendent in a way. Beauty, sensation, giving and possession.” She gave up on the crowd and turned to the men cutting through the knots. “It’s meaningless without trust though.”
When the girls were all released from their bonds and dressing, Seneca and her guards finally left them. They didn’t go without a final picture that they made Dave take though.
Before leaving the main floor Seneca stopped at a restroom. She pushed open the door and looked around before she asked, “Do me a favor, guys? Don’t let anyone in. I need to pull myself together.”
Inside, she stood before a mirror and looked into her own eyes. She breathed, slowly and deeply finding a center and the balance that went with it before really looking at herself. Make-up was alright. Hair, would serve. She didn’t have her purse or anything to fix it so it would have to do. Finally she took a hard look at her clothing. The top was pulled up a bit and bunching out over the top of the waspie. She tucked it in and buttoned the top one button higher. When she looked again at herself flattening the wrinkles in her pencil skirt she noticed the button. It had been an unconscious action—defensive. She took it back, opening the button. After that she ran her hands again over her hips feeling the skirt and the clothing underneath.
With a quick tug at the hem she uncovered her knees and thighs up to the tops of her stockings and the lace covered clasps of the garter belt. Reaching under she pulled and shimmied out of her torn panties and tossed them in the trash. She felt better no longer having them against her skin.
Three minutes later Seneca was walking into the book signing with a confident smile on her face. It was pleasing to see though, the calm and orderly line of people. It was long too, always good. When the stepped up onto the small riser and pulled out her chair, the line bubbled with applause. She waved and smiled then gestured for the first person to come up.
“Can you sign it to, Andi?” The young woman asked handing over the newly purchased book. “With an I.”
“Is that you?”
Seneca smiled warmly. The girl was small, and pretty with big brown eyes. Girl-next-door sexy. “What brings you here today?”
“You,” the girl said. Then she leaned in close, and took a conspiratorial glance around. “And curiosity. A lot of curiosity.”
On the front endpaper of the book, Seneca wrote—
You have such an adventure waiting. I envy you.
As she handed the signed book over the happy rumble of voices in the room was replaced by the crack of a whip and the scream of a woman. In single movements people turned to and stepped away from the sounds. The steps became a rush of feet as the scene that produced the sound was revealed.
On the tile floor was a naked girl kneeling in a full submissive, kiss-the-floor pose with her arms fully extended. Seneca noticed immediately that the girl was an amateur. Her ass was raised too high and her back was arched downward rather than flat. Worst of all, her head was up so she could peek over her arms to watch the action or anticipate the next strike. On her back was the reddening streak of the whip’s contact. On her face was a look of joy.
The whip flashed and cracked again, this time not nearly as loudly. Most of the effect of the strike was taken by the floor beside the girl. Still she writhed and quivered under the contact. The man using the whip was standing between Seneca and his target but she didn’t have to see his face to recognize the man who’d had his hands on her.
When he turned though, it was still a shock. He was the same man she had noticed in the audience earlier. The fact that he’d been stalking her was made even clearer when he raised his free hand to his face and took a long breath from the panties he held. They were the same black panties he’d torn and Seneca had discarded.
Mark was the first one to move. He rushed at the man who swept the whip around his head and flicked it at Mark’s face. It caught him across the left eye running from the brow down to the cheek.
“Stop it!” Seneca screamed as Mark fell to the floor clutching his face.
“Oh, you think you’re in charge again?” The man with the whip asked.
Out of the corner of her eye Seneca could see Delray beginning a slow creep around the man to try and take him from behind. The man saw him as well. He lowered the hand with her panties and pulled at the handle of a long knife sheathed in his pants making sure she saw it. “Don’t do it Delray,” she said. “Call the police.”
“Call who you want,” the man snapped back. “I’ll be gone by the time they get here.
“What do you want?”
“I want to teach you.”
“Teach me what?” Seneca stepped from behind the table and off the riser to come closer. She walked slowly but steadily toward the man keeping her gaze tethered to his.
“Everything a bitch should know.”
He drew back the whip and struck it again across the back of the prostrate girl. “Place,” he said. Then added, “And posture.”
“How are you going to teach me that?”
He swung the whip around his head a couple of times and flicked it in Seneca’s direction but failed to get the crack from the tip. In anger he lashed out at the girl again tracking her back and hips with red ribbons.
“Get on your knees,” he said to Seneca.
“You don’t have any power here,” Seneca told him. “Certainly not over me. I don’t think you really have any over that girl.”
“You don’t, huh?” He threw the whip to the floor and pulled the knife before straddling the back of the girl. With three quick stabs, he pricked the skin of her back drawing bright, crimson flow of blood. The three trickles formed a single line and flowed to the floor.
The girl moaned softly but to Seneca it sounded like something more than pain.
The man laughed.
“That’s enough,” Seneca said.
“It’s enough when I say so.” He put her panties in his other hand and shook them out before touching them to his nose. “Pretty, pretty panties. Not wearing any now are ya? It feel good? Free air on your hairless snatch? Yeah, I know. I could feel it. And I can smell it.” With his knife hand he jerked the girl’s head up by the hair and stuffed the black fabric into her mouth. “Now she can smell you and taste you too. She’d eat your panties, if I told her. Cause she’s my slut, ain’t you girl?”
He rose up from the girl and stepped back. He slapped her ass hard enough to leave a rising red print on the pale skin. “Ain’t that right girl?”
She nodded her head and screamed through the panties in her mouth but she stayed where she was even raising her hips for more rather than moving away. The man obliged, slapping harder even then punching with his closed fist.
“See that?” He asked Seneca. “She does what I tell her. She takes what I give her. You and all your crap about trust. Trust don’t mean shit when you got fear. And it’s about time you learned a little fear.”
“You don’t understand anything, do you?” Seneca responded. “You don’t understand what you’re doing any more than you know what you want.”
“I know I can do anything I want to her.” To punctuate his point he ran the point of the knife across the girl’s bare hip then twisted it, curving into a slashing cut that opened a dark wound. She started to cry through her gag but made no motion to get away.
“Is she drugged?” Seneca asked. “Or did you threaten her?”
When the man didn’t answer she took a step then crouched to pick the discarded whip from the floor. He tensed, gripping his knife tighter.
“Let me tell you what I know. You’re confusing command with coercion and fear with respect. I know a little bit about fear myself.” With an effortless flick Seneca cracked the whip in front of the man’s face. “That’s what you’re feeling right now. Fear.” Again she brought the whip around, this time putting more of her arm into it. The lash cut across his ear cracking like a gunshot.
Outside the building the sounds of sirens faded in getting closer and from both directions on the street.
“Time’s up,” Seneca said. “Time to run.”
The man looked from her to the doors then up the hall. He was ready to run, she was sure. Seneca decided to have the last word. “Maybe you would rather get on your knees.”
His face changed, dropping the indecision. It solidified with purpose as he nodded at Seneca’s words. Then he smiled before he bent and shoved his knife into the girl’s ribs and side three times.
Her screams were genuine and barely muffled by the panties in her mouth.
That was when the man ran.