“Take off your robe,” he orders.
“Take off my robe?”
“Yes. Take it off.”
“You want me now?” I wonder.
“Don’t talk, Anna.”
I shed the silk. Still sticky with Ian between my thighs, I wonder if Heinrich can tell. I certainly hope so. This will be the end of us—an end I often manufacture in my dreams. I want him to hurt like he’s hurt me. To feel the blade of despair cut inside his heart, the way his has cut at mine. As much as I relish the thought, however, I can’t think of hurt now, not when he stares at me the way he does. I didn’t expect this response and it has my heart beating so fast, my stomach so on edge I’m nauseous.
“On your knees.”
I obey, without thinking, a command I’ve obeyed a hundred times in a marriage that lives for desperate times. When we practice our dark sexual secrets, we seem to know each other best. These moments define who we’ve become, and suggest we have no other way to give, no greater gift to share than these sadomasochistic rituals.
I bend to the floor and clasp my hands behind me, below the small of my back. I wonder how I look. Once, he took a picture of me like this, so suppliantly posed. There are graceful lines, a trim kind of beauty Ian would say. I’m not sure what Heinrich thinks of me like this.
Then too, Ian would never see me so reposed—I don’t play these games with him. Sex with my lover is relentless but not the dark feast of beauty it is with my husband. Ian wouldn’t have me this way. He loves looking into my wide-open face, loves seeing how my smoky eyes spark. I think my face too flat and plain, my features too small. But he sees a gentle beauty there—I can tell by the touch of his tender hand. He runs his thumb on my pink skin as though he’s trying to wipe away a smudge of rouge. I wonder if I could be more sultry if I grew out my brown hair. But I like it short, this inch or two of sass makes me feel young and kid-like, sometimes boyish. Ian never complains, and neither has Heinrich. Ian never would, but if Heinrich thought it stupid or unattractive, he’d be sure to tell me. I wish I were more voluptuous, but in the one scant compliment I recall from my indifferent husband, he says my body is simple, which makes it all the easier to adorn in whatever way he chooses.
Heinrich’s on his feet at my side and I feel a lash tickling the skin at my hips. I keep my hands pressed tightly to the small of my back, my naked ass slightly raised. It took some time to learn this pose for punishment, but I know it well now.
Perhaps I’ve misjudged my husband. Perhaps he won’t throw me out, but looks only for compensation, penance, retribution, vengeance. And if that is so, if all he wants is to punish me, I know we’ve set in motion a lengthy period of atonement. I’ll feel this blessed pain for weeks, even months until he’s satisfied. I’ll give up Ian, and be a more dutiful wife. But what then? Start over again with another lover when Heinrich’s finally pacified and I’m bored and lonely?
The lash darts about my skin, licking the side of my thighs, running along the crack of my ass, teasingly stroking my shoulders. I shudder as the feelings move toward my crotch where a beautiful pulse of energy begins.
Heinrich snaps the leather hard, and I shudder as a bright burst of pain settles in me like a shower of sparks inside my body. Another and the sensation deepens. Another and I moan.
“I rather you were silent, Anna,” Heinrich’s voice cuts as keenly as his lash. This is not an opinion, but an order.
It splats across my raised ass and I struggle to get away. Heinrich makes me settle before he begins again, and then he doesn’t care whether I squirm or fight. He punishes me hard, letting his fury flow through his hand into the brutal leather. I fight this misery, and attempt to contain it, but it’s all so erratic. There’s little to delight in, though I know that when he’s finished my cunt will be on fire, clenching for something to fill the void. It would astound me if he gave me any physical release in the aftermath. I clench in hopes that this lash alone might bring me off, but I am so far away, shrieking—much to Heinrich’s dismay. He strikes harder.