Afternoons of a Woman of Leisure (9781101623565) (11 page)

Chapter Twenty-four

“You'll never guess what happened to me today,” Joanna says over dinner. Curtis passes her the salad bowl and she helps herself. “I had the strangest adventure.”

“What?” her husband asks. “Tell me.”

“I went to the city,” Joanna says. “I don't know why. I suppose I was just bored, and I got it in my head to visit a museum. So I got dressed and took the train in.”

“How nice,” Curtis says, sipping his wine. “How nice for you to have a change.”

“Well,” says Joanna, “I went to the art museum near the park, and I walked around there for a while. And while I was sitting in the Impressionist gallery, this very nice woman came and sat next to me, and we started talking. She's an artist.”

“Really!” Curtis says, cutting his lamb chop.

“Yes. Well, anyway, we started talking about art. And it turns out that she studies at this place called the . . . um . . . Art Student something.”

“Art Student's Institute,” Curtis says knowingly. Joanna smiles in gratitude.

“Yes, that's it. The Art Student's Institute. They have classes, you know, and the teacher comes and talks to you about your painting, and everyone paints the same thing, like a bowl of fruit. And it sounded wonderful and I just thought, this is what I need!”

“Hm,” says Curtis.

“So,” Joanna continues, “I went right over there and signed up for a class!”

Curtis puts down his fork. “You did?”

“Yes,” Joanna nods excitedly. “Tuesdays and Thursdays, in the afternoon. I've already bought a sketchpad and some paints. I can't wait to begin!” Curtis is silent, watching her. “You know, I've been spending so many afternoons at the beach lately, and it's been nice. But I got to thinking how much fun it would be to be able to paint. Then I could drive around and make pictures. Wouldn't you like that?”

“Of course,” Curtis says, smiling fondly at her. “It's just that the Art Student's Institute often has classes with nude models. I don't think I really like the idea of you drawing some naked man. Frankly, I don't think it's proper.”

!” Joanna gasps. “I wouldn't do that.” She giggles. “I'm not very interested in naked men. But I thought it would be nice if I could learn to do landscapes. Then I could sit here on the porch and draw the ocean. Wouldn't that be nice?”

He relaxes into his smile. Joanna has, after all, simply refined his own vision of her, waiting for him on the porch, occupying herself till he comes home. She knows that he will now embrace the idea.

“Of course,” Curtis says. “How lovely.”

After dinner, he brings her art books from his library upstairs, spreading them open on the coffee table and pointing things out for her, humoring her newfound interest. Joanna struggles to look interested, to nod, to praise and admire his expertise. She can't wait until he says he is ready for bed, so that she herself can go to bed. The sooner she falls asleep, Joanna thinks, the sooner she will wake up, and the sooner she can telephone Pauline to say that she will accept the assignment.

Chapter Twenty-five

“I thought you might,” Pauline says simply, then pauses. “I mean,” she adds, “because you were an actress. I thought it might appeal to you.”

“It does,” Joanna says. “I might even enjoy it.”

“Good,” Pauline says. “You know, Joanna, an important part of what I do is the matching up of clients and employees. Which combinations of people will provide the most pleasure for all concerned.” She laughs. “I've made marriages, you know. I expect Rochelle told you how she met her fiancé.”

“Yes,” Joanna says.

“Sometimes, to be honest, people are surprised. Their horizons are broadened. They discover talents they didn't know they had, desires they didn't know they had, and then when those desires are satisfied, the pleasure is intensified.” She pauses. “Take yourself, for example.”

“What?” Joanna says.

“Your initial experience with anal penetration was unpleasant, wasn't it? Or so you told Mr. Stephens. And yet several of the men you've seen since have reported your taking some pleasure in it. Is that true?”

“Yes,” Joanna says, blushing. She prefers not to think about the intimacies exchanged by Pauline and her clients. There will be no privacy, she recalls being told by Mr. Stephens.

“Well, in any case, I'm pleased,” Pauline is saying. “I sensed an aptitude for this kind of work. I thought you might rise to the challenge.”

“I will,” Joanna says. “I'll try.”

Pauline gives her instructions, confirming times and dates. A key to the apartment will be left for her with Pauline's doorman. The rear bedroom of the apartment is full of appropriate clothing—she should wear whatever fits, whatever feels right. If she has questions, if she wants anything, if there is equipment that needs to be replaced, she should get in touch. If she wants to take on other work, she should get in touch. “But do call me anyway,” Pauline says. “Just to keep in touch, to check in now and then. It's always a pleasure to talk to you, Joanna.”

“Thank you,” she says.

“And you'll keep in touch?”

“Of course.”

“All right then, good luck. Joanna? I think you will enjoy this job.”

Joanna hangs up the phone. “I think you're right,” she says to the empty room.

Chapter Twenty-six

Arriving early at the apartment, Joanna explores the chamber. She tests the straps on the low table and chair, and practices snapping and unsnapping the manacles. Each whip is lifted and examined, tentatively flicked in the air so that she can learn its sounds and weight and potential pain. The drawers in the black bureau are full of interesting things: lubricant, studded collars, curious leather pieces meant, she supposes, to be tightened around genitals, an astonishing array of rubber phalluses.

In the rear bedroom, Joanna finds an ample collection of clothing, and chooses for herself a black bustier like Rochelle's but with garters attached, black stockings, heavy boots. She fits a black wig over her own gossamer hair, not because she is afraid that Curtis will see her but because she wants to create a new physical self for the new bitterness seething within her. Red lipstick, dark eye shadow, drops of musk essence beneath her arms and between her breasts. Joanna, considering herself in the mirror, sees a breathtaking stranger, hardened and cruel and ready to inflict severe pain. She smiles at this new woman, liking her, wanting to know her better.

The front door clicks. Joanna sits on the bed, listening, readying herself. She hears the familiar sounds of Curtis undressing, a comfortable groan as he stretches. The door to the chamber opens and shuts. Joanna listens to the sound of his tread over the carpet, then the crackle of stiff leather, a hood coming down over his head. Joanna breathes deeply, steadying herself. When she is ready, she walks to the chamber door, and enters.

Curtis stands facing the wall, his hooded head bowed forward, his hands at his sides. Joanna paces behind him, letting him listen for a moment, letting him feel the newness of the tread, the slight unfamiliarity. “Turn around,” she says at last, in the strained and husky voice she has been practicing for days. “Your back against the wall.”

She walks towards him and raises his arms over his head, snapping them into the manacles. Her fingers tremble slightly when they touch his skin, but Curtis is lost in his own trembling, and does not seem to notice. When he is locked into place, Joanna lets herself touch him, a finger sliding down his stomach and lightly over his cock, making it harden inside the silk underpants. She steps back and finds a seat, a few feet away from him.

“I am your Mistress,” Joanna says softly but firmly. “I want you to understand that I consider you my property and my slave. You are here to please me and for no other reason. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Mistress,” her husband says.

“If you please me,” Joanna continues, “I will reward you with pleasure. But if you displease me, I will punish you with pain, more pain than you can imagine. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Mistress,” he whimpers.

“I will do exactly as I wish with you. Whatever you do beyond the walls of this room, whatever status you have, is worthless to me. To me, you are nothing. Less than nothing. Here you exist only to give me pleasure. Your worth is entirely dependent upon that, and nothing else. I will learn what you can bear, and what you cannot bear. Your life is in my hands. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Mistress,” Curtis moans.

She stands and without warning reaches between his legs, squeezing the stiffness of his cock through the silk. “Why are you hard?” Joanna demands. “Did I tell you to be hard?”

“No, Mistress,” says Curtis.

“Get rid of it,” she hisses, leaning close. He moans. His cock pulses in her hand. “Get rid of it immediately,” she tells him, “or I will be forced to punish you.”

Joanna steps back and watches carefully, seeing the beginning of perspiration over his chest. The bulge between his legs only grows. She shakes her head.

“I see we are not off to a good start,” Joanna says, resigned. “I had hoped you would at least try to obey me.”

“Please,” Curtis groans. “Please, I can't help it.”

She reaches for a whip. “Bullshit,” she says softly. “You're not trying.”

“Please,” he says again. “Don't hurt me.”

“Be quiet,” Joanna says. “Don't make me punish you for impudence as well.” Lightly, she taps the end of the whip against the bulge.

“God,” Curtis moans. Joanna cracks the whip loudly in the air. He flinches.

am your God!” she shouts. “No one else can help you here.”

“Yes, Mistress,” he mutters, his chest heaving.

Joanna steps close to him and rips at his underpants, pulling them down to his knees. Then she kneels at his feet to examine him, letting her breath ruffle the grey hairs at his crotch. A drop of semen glistens at the tip of his straining cock. Joanna considers.

Crossing the room, she lubricates her finger, then returns, telling him to spread his legs. Curtis does, as far as the underpants stretched between his knees allow. Then, without preparing him, she deftly pushes her finger into his rectum.

Curtis moans with undisguised pleasure. His cock jerks in Joanna's face.

Her mouth drops open in shock. She is astonished by his reaction, had meant to cause him pain. Then her astonishment turns to rage, that she has pleased him, that he dares to be pleased in this way. She jerks her finger away and detaches Curtis' wrists, grabbing them and pulling him forward into the center of the room. There, she hooks him again overhead, his hands together, snapped into the manacles which dangle from the ceiling, then tightening the chain until he is stretched to his full length. Joanna inserts her boot between his knees and calmly steps, pushing the silk underpants to the floor, letting him feel the leather. She hears his sigh as he is stripped.

Carefully, Joanna studies him, the sheen of sweat over his chest, the wet and open lips visible through the hole in his hood, the engorged cock sticking out at a right angle from his body. The cock, especially, enrages her. Joanna goes to the bureau and removes one of the leather bonds she had examined earlier, this one with pointed silver studs protruding from it. Smiling, she fastens it about his waist and legs, then slowly tightens the silver studs around his erection, letting the metal rub into his skin. Curtis moans with pain.

“Good,” Joanna says. “Remember this. Your cock is at my disposal. You're hard when I want you to be hard, and only then. If you disobey me, you will wear this, to remind you.”

“Yes, Mistress,” Curtis says.

She stands back and lets the whip drift over his body, avoiding his groin. It glides through the hair beneath his arms, over the skin of his neck, across his chest. Then she pokes the tip through the hole in his hood and tells him to suck it. “Pretend,” she whispers, close to his face, “that this is my breast. Show me how you would like to suck me. Think of my nipple in your mouth, hard and pointed. Show me what you would like to do to it.” Curtis sucks, his mouth greedy. Joanna yanks the whip away and turns him at the hips. “You
,” she sneers. “Don't you just
But you haven't earned it yet, have you?”

“No, Mistress,” he whimpers, hanging his head.

“Not by a long shot,” she confirms. “And now I have to punish you, don't I?”

“Yes,” she hears him say.

“And how do I punish you?” Joanna asks her husband.

“With the whip.”

“And where do I whip you?”

“Everywhere,” he moans. “I deserve to be whipped.”

“All right,” she says, obliging him.

The whip lands squarely across his ass. Joanna loves the moment of contact, the sound of smacking, the miraculous red lines that appear out of nowhere. Over and over she lets it fall, breaking the skin. Curtis yelps in pain and she loves that too. Then the tender insides of his thighs. She would like to get him on his back, she thinks, and make him spread his legs in the air, then let it fall between his open legs. Abandoning the whip, she begins to slap him with her hands, feeling the buttocks ripple as she makes contact, flushed with heat, then softly caressing the skin she has just punished. Curtis moans, his hips moving slightly, lightly thrusting into the cruel studs. “All right,” Joanna says softly. “I'll tell you what we're going to do.”

She unfastens his wrists and they fall limply to his sides. She takes his left hand between her palms and rubs it, twisting the gold wedding ring between her fingers. “What is this?” she asks.

He stammers, confused. “A ring. I'm married.”

“Oh,” Joanna breathes. “Married. Tell me,” she whispers, unbuckling the straps around his groin, pulling them away, “do you fuck your wife?”

He pauses. “Yes, Mistress.”

“Good,” Joanna says. “Then show me. Show me how you get yourself hard for your wife.” She smears lubricant across his palm and brings it to his cock. “Show me,” Joanna whispers. Slowly, he begins to touch himself, taking himself in his hand and rubbing from root to tip. The cock recovers from its contact with the metal studs, lengthening, stiffening. “Good,” Joanna croons. “I want you hard, as hard as you can get. But don't come, I'm warning you. If you come, I will give you unbearable pain. Do you understand?”

“Yes,” he gasps, visibly aroused by her threat. She steps back to watch him masturbate, luxuriating in his moans, his frustration, his fear of coming.

“Listen to me,” Joanna says quietly. “Before I see you again you will fuck your wife and make her come. You will remember everything about it, the way she smells, the way she tastes. And when you come back here, you will tell me what you did. You will leave nothing out. Do you understand?”

“Yes,” Curtis moans.

“Let go of yourself,” she says, her strange voice ringing huskily in her ears. Immediately, he stops. Joanna steps up close to him, close enough for her breasts to brush against his chest. Reaching down, she calmly fingers his pubic hair, and watches his mouth open in longing. “Don't move,” she tells him. “Don't move, and, above all, don't come. Do you understand?”

“Yes,” he says, his voice barely audible.

Joanna kneels at her husband's feet. With the tip of her tongue, she collects the drop of semen from the end of his cock and noisily tastes it. Curtis trembles, holding himself back. She opens her mouth and washes the underside of his cock with her tongue, lightly stroking his scrotum with her fingers. “Don't,” he cries, and immediately she brings the flat of her hand up between his legs in a smack, making him jerk in pain. Before he can recover, she takes him deep into her mouth, sucking him lovingly. His stiffness over her tongue fills her suddenly with regret, a whiff of the affection she once felt for him. I would have done this for you, Joanna thinks as she sucks her husband. I would have done this, if you'd asked.

Curtis moans, involuntarily making small thrusts into her mouth. Then, without warning, he comes, gasping in horror. Joanna clamps her teeth in rage. Getting roughly to her feet, she pushes him down, his head to the floor, chest folded against his knees, whimpering in terror. She stands over him, his head pinned between her ankles. “Get ready,” she whispers fiercely, taking up her whip. She smiles at the quivering crack of his ass. “Get ready,” Joanna tells him, seething. “Here it comes.”

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