Especially for Valentine’s Day, a romantic story from Februs 24 by Sam Ramsey — the start of a five-part serial.
The room is spacious — once two smaller rooms, but now neatly converted. The alcoves are filled with books regimented in tidy rows; seven or eight modern prints hang on the walls, signed artists’ proofs in modest good taste. Heavy curtains are drawn closed. Low tables, piled with more books, carry lamps, only two of which are dimly lit. At one end of the room an open fire is glowing brightly. The man perches near the fire on one arm of a sofa; stocky, of medium height, forty-ish, his neat hair thinning, dark eyes humorous. He is dressed soberly, though his suit jacket is thrown onto the back of a chair.
There appears nothing here out of the ordinary — except for the woman: but she indeed is worthy of a second glance. She looks rather younger than the man: glossy hair, very dark, neatly bobbed, fine features discreetly made up emphasizing her startling grey eyes, a trim figure with legs long for her height. She would be striking enough even if she were not quite naked — naked, that is, apart from the erotic cliché of black stiletto shoes (which though not absurdly high, are surely not meant for walking).
She rests, not quite still, on hands and knees on the fine carpet, her breasts swaying slightly as they hang. Small gold clips are attached to each nipple, and between them falls down a fine gold chain, also swaying gently and glinting in the firelight. Her smooth bottom is now marked by two weals, sharp against white flesh: she sensuously raises her bottom further towards the man, and after regarding her tenderly for a moment, he puts down his glass of wine and reaches down to caress her thighs. His fingers move up to play lightly across the stripes, and then slowly, tantalisingly slowly, towards the crack between her buttocks. She sighs, shifts her knees to part her legs a little, and the man’s fingers move to stroke her softly. She sighs again, but he then withdraws his hand: she looks back over her shoulder, and slowly resumes her original position, closes her legs and raises her bottom.
From the floor by the sofa, the man retrieves the thin cane that has fallen there, stands and raises his arm. A pause, a moment’s stillness — then the swish of the cane through the air, the crack of cane on soft flesh, and the sound of the woman’s cries.
When Adam met Sarah, they were both at university. She was a second year student, he six years older, had just finished a postgraduate degree and was now a junior researcher. They were introduced at a party, and that (or so they later told the story) was that. They started going out together: but, both feeling that the relationship was destined to be special in their lives, it was three months before they finally slept together.
Sex with Sarah was different from anything Adam had experienced before. She made love with a kind of passionate passivity: once aroused, she would willingly abandon herself to him in every way, but very rarely did she initiate anything or express sexual desires of her own. Adam found this passivity unexpectedly erotic. But they were both young, and in some ways very innocent — so it was only slowly that he came to explore the boundaries of Sarah’s submissiveness.
One hot summer evening, a year or so after they had become lovers, Sarah met Adam from a late seminar and they went out for an Indian meal at their favourite restaurant. Happy and flirtatious, they strolled back to Adam’s flat; they kissed passionately and Adam started undressing Sarah, stealing kisses on her body as more and more became available. He laid her naked on his bed; she stretched back and he kissed her breasts again.
‘Don’t go away! I must have a shower.’
‘Mmm… Hurry back. I’m not sure I can wait,’ she laughed, fingers of one hand lightly brushing the nipples that he had just made hard. Adam watched Sarah teasingly play with herself for a moment, then collected a towel and went to shower, not hurrying but luxuriating for many long minutes in the powerful cool spray washing away his sweat and tiredness. Feeling vastly refreshed, he returned to Sarah who was still lying stretched on her back, with her eyes closed. He leant down to kiss her breast again — but this time, she brushed him away:
‘You’re too late,’ she murmured drowsily.
‘What do you mean, too late?’
‘You just are…’
Adam realised with a mixture of arousal and annoyance that Sarah’s playful toying with herself must have continued in earnest while he was in the shower — and once Sarah had come, she usually lost interest in further sex.
‘So who’s been a wicked girl?’ he asked, in a mock-solemn voice. She pouted at him and turned away on her side: Adam tipped her onto her front, and on an impulse slapped first one side then the other of Sarah’s shapely bottom.
‘Ouch, that hurt.’
‘Perhaps it was meant to.’
Adam put a hand on her shoulder, and Sarah turned her face to nuzzle it. She looked up at him quizzically with her large grey eyes; Adam held her gaze coolly, and with slow deliberation spanked her twice again. Sarah drew in her breath and bit her lip. She said nothing more but turned her face into the pillow. Adam paused, then lifted his hand again and spanked her another dozen times, very slowly, quite hard and full on her bottom. Sarah moaned slightly but still said nothing. He bent down and kissed the nape of her neck, and then ran his tongue down her spine; he scattered more kisses over her now blotched and reddened bottom, and Sarah moaned in a different way, parting her legs.
‘Kneel up,’ he whispered. And he entered her — and Sarah responded with passion, and surprised them both by quickly climaxing.
Afterwards, mild spanking became an occasional part of their love play, and they would ritually re-enact that first time. Sarah would undress in front of Adam, and then submit to his gaze and play with herself in front of him. When she had come, she would lie across his lap and be punished for her wantonness. And then he would caress her reddened bottom, kiss her most intimate places and make love to her. Once he used a plastic ruler on her bottom: but this was still all light and playful.
Adam later began sometimes buying magazines; Sarah was initially shocked. But she found herself drawn to the pictures of girls being caned or tawsed. And soon they were enticed to take the first dark step beyond playful spankings.
It was again summer, now four years after they had first met. A transparent, hot midday. Adam and Sarah had driven out into the country, up into the hills, then left the car and walked across two fields to the small ravine they had discovered the previous summer. The sides of the ravine were thickly covered with scrub oak, and it was quite safe to scramble to the stream at the bottom. Here and there, small patches of grass grew beside the stream; and they clambered down to one of these. From his large shoulder bag, Adam retrieved their picnic and a bottle of wine.
Later, half-drunk, Adam reached over to Sarah, pulled her to her feet, hungrily kissed her and then in one movement pulled down the long back zip of her light summer dress. The dress fell away and she stepped out, naked but for skimpy lace panties.
‘Those too,’ he said. And then, ‘On your hands and knees.’
Adam took the gauzy Indian scarf which Sarah had used to tie back her long hair, and made a blindfold. Then he paused to look at her, the dappled shadow on her nakedness.
‘Sarah — you know I love you.’
‘I know,’ she whispered.
Adam then reached into his bag, and brought out — dark, supple, well-made — a light two-pronged tawse. He took it in his hand, and very gently rested it on Sarah’s white bottom and stroked her with it.
‘Can you feel the smooth leather? I bought this when I was in London last week.’ Sarah did not reply, but sighed slightly: she knew immediately what it was. A couple of weeks before, when Adam for the first time made as if to use one of his leather belts on her, Sarah had stopped him: ‘No: it mustn’t be something ordinary, it has to be something… special’. And Adam had understood, and heard the unspoken consent.
‘This first time,’ Adam continued quietly, running the tawse over her, ‘I’ll give you six strokes, unless you stop me now.’ Still silence in the little grassy hollow, with the oaks rustling above in the softest summer breeze.
Adam lifted his arm, and brought the tawse down firmly across both buttocks. Sarah cried out as the pain shot through her bottom, burning, burning. Then again the sharp slap of leather, the pain jolting through her, another cry. A third time, Adam brought down the tawse on her pale flesh, her buttocks shook under the impact, the dragon tongues of the tawse bit into her with fierce heat, drawing another moan into the summer air.
He paused. Sarah was still again, her head bowed, her breasts hanging down with darkly erect nipples; her buttocks now aflame, the marks of the tawse clear. A fourth time, the leather struck her — another loud slap, another sudden flush of pain across her bottom, a sobbing moan that seemed to come from her very core. Another pause, then a lighter fifth stroke on the top of her buttocks. Then a last pause, and Adam flicked the tawse sharply a final time, lower, near the sensitive top of her thighs and Sarah cried out again in surprise and renewed pain.
For a long moment Adam looked down at Sarah, at her beautiful back, slim waist and her perfect bottom now reddened and fiercely marked. Then he threw down the tawse, and lay beside her, drawing her down into his arms: he pulled the blindfold off her glistening eyes, and she rested her head on his chest, as with one hand she rubbed her ravaged arse. They lay together like this for a long time, Sarah naked, her long dark hair wild, not speaking. At last, Adam with great tenderness washed Sarah’s face with water from the stream, then he dressed her, and took her hand and led her back across the fields.
Just before they reached the car, Sarah suddenly stopped, flung her arms around Adam’s neck, kissed him passionately — and then broke free and ran laughing on to the car.
Sarah instinctively knew that some things are best left unexamined, unanalysed. Why should rituals of punishment and submission bind her so tightly to Adam? Why should he, in other ways so gentle, be so aroused by her willing participation in the rituals? She preferred to leave the mystery intact, and when Adam at first occasionally tried to talk about these things, she silenced him.
But over time, they slowly explored further: sometimes the tawse, as that first time, fiercely licked her bottom with tongues of fire. Sometimes, a many-thonged fine whip stung her whole body with biting kisses as she was spreadeagled; sometimes, a riding crop slashed her soft thighs. And then, eventually, there was the cane: the pain, each new time, so startling, taking Sarah to the limit, the submission so total, the love-making afterwards so wonderful.
When Adam phoned from the conference, Sarah was already in bed.
‘I’ll be home about eight tomorrow.’
‘I’ve missed you.’
For once, as rarely these days, they would have the house to themselves.
‘I’ve been thinking for days about that last time, at Easter…’
‘Yes, oh master…’ Sarah teased.
‘Be ready!’ said Adam with mock sternness.
Their playful banter continued, masking a mutual seriousness. For Sarah, the waiting times, as she prepared herself — apprehension and arousal finely balanced — were themselves a delicious thrill that she craved.
Sarah lay in bed dreaming. The image of the girl in the changing room suddenly flashed before her eyes. It had been just after Easter. Sarah had gone to buy a summer dress; it was a quiet time, and she was at first the only occupant of the small communal changing room. Then a young girl had walked in. They exchanged smiles, and Sarah realised the girl was extremely pretty. The girl noticed Sarah looking at her as she changed, paused, and then — rather unnecessarily — removed her bra, as if flaunting her perfect figure to the older woman.
Sarah smiled at the girl again, and as they both tried on their dresses, it seemed like a silent flirtation. Sarah removed the dress she had been trying on, and on a sudden impulse turned her back to the girl, and bent over slowly over from the waist to pick up her own clothes. She knew that as she did so, her tiny lace knickers would ride up, showing the cane-marks, still quite clear from the night before. She heard the girl gasp slightly with surprise and felt her stare. Eventually Sarah straightened, turned and smiled again, looking the girl straight in the eyes. Sarah quickly slipped on her own dress, gathered up the two she had been trying on, and as she left, she said softly to the still half-naked girl ‘One day, you must try it.’
Now, lying in bed, Sarah found herself wishing that the encounter hadn’t ended there. Aroused by the memory, she started stroking herself. And as her hands wandered she let the images come one after the other — the pretty girl lying naked as Sarah carressed her. Then the scene changed to one like in a video the Adam had recently brought home from abroad: the girl lay on Sarah, breast to breast, as Adam applied the cane, so that Sarah could feel the strokes through the girl’s body as she held her. Finally, as her climax came near, Sarah imagined that the strumming fingers were now the girl’s…
When Adam’s key turned in the lock, Sarah was waiting in the living room, naked under her silky wrap but for the tiniest, laciest thong. She threw her arms round his neck when he arrived, and his hands strayed all over her.
‘It’s so good to see you.’
‘You too: it seems weeks not days.’
They embraced and caressed: after a time, her wrap fell more and more open.
‘Mmm, that reminds me…’ said Adam, as he kissed her breasts. ‘I’ve brought you a present from the sinful metropolis.’
Sarah open the box; a fine gold chain, and at each end little clips.
‘Is this what I think it is?’
Sarah knelt in front of Adam, shrugged off the wrap and put her hands behind her head, lifting her small breasts to him. She sighed as he placed the clips on each nipple.
‘You look wonderful!’
Sarah got up to look at herself in the mirror over the fireplace: unbidden, the thought of the girl in the changing room rushed back into her mind — part of her wished that she was placing clips on that girl’s breasts, hearing her gasp again.
Adam sat on the sofa, still formally dressed: Sarah knelt at his feet. They drank wine for a while, desultorily chatting, the sexual tension mounting between them. Then Sarah said: ‘I have a confession.’
And she told Adam in vivid detail about the girl, about her fantasies, about the previous night’s indulgence. Adam was aroused.
‘I go away for five days and you turn into a lesbian sadist!’ he said quietly. ‘I think punishment is due, don’t you? Sarah… fetch the cane now.’
Sarah walked across the room, her legs and bottom so taut from the height of her stiletto heels, and retrieved the cane from behind a long row of books. She slowly returned, handed it silently to Adam, and went to stand in front of the fire, her hands outstretched to hold the mantle shelf, her head bowed, her beautiful behind framed by the lace of the black thong and now thrust out towards her master.
Adam removed his jacket, and weighed the cane in his hand. At last, weeks of waiting were over; the moment — the darkly wonderful moment — had come. The room is silent but for the crackling of the fire. And then the first fierce stroke suddenly bites into Sarah’s bottom. She moans but holds still. Then another crack of cane on her soft flesh, another blaze of pain.
Every time this ritual is performed, Sarah is shocked again by the hurt of it. Her bottom has become the centre of all sensation; the fire, the pain seems beyond measure. She rests her head on one of her outstretched hands. Adam pauses, and watches the stripes he has drawn develop — he the painter, her arse the canvas. Then he moves very close behind her, and she presses back, feeling his hardness. After a moment, he reaches down and slips off her thong:
‘Kneel down,’ he murmurs gruffly.
Sarah slowly sinks to her hands and knees in front of the fire. The cane drops to the floor by the sofa, as Adam pours himself another drink.
The man canes the woman six more times, hard whippy cuts, with long pauses between. At each new stripe, she cries out as the pain courses through her. She makes no attempt to muffle her moans: for she knows that such sounds of submission are a gift that he cherishes. Her arms and legs are trembling slightly, and the man pauses again to caress her shoulders and waist and swell of her breasts until she is still again. Then two final strokes of the cane where her bottom meets her thighs — she calls out his name and then lies prone on the carpet.
The man regards the woman for a moment, then he sets down the cane and gathers her into his arms and holds her: as once long ago by a remote stream, time stands still in a moment of perfect harmony. After a while, he carefully places some soft feather cushions on the carpet and gently lies the woman down. He takes the clips from her nipples, and places her own hands there. She begins to move her hands, first on her breasts, and then she spreads her legs, the man watching as he undresses. When she starts to moan more and more, he turns the woman onto her front: she raises her bottom for a final act of submission. There is a last moment of pain, then the woman relaxes and what is still so hurting also becomes the centre of all delight.Could it be that one day the magic, the dark mystery, will go out of their rituals of punishment and submission? All things must pass. But today the old magic is as powerful as ever, and in the end, as so often before, the woman fills the room with wild cries of abandoned pleasure.