The Kink and How to Work It, part 2 --- by Penumbra


"Well, you canít drive with a probable concussion and I certainly wonít take the bus, so..."

"Nope. Never."

"Címon now. Donít be a sissy." This was said with a wicked smile and a gentle glint in the improbably blue eyes. With a satisfied grunt, they observed the change in the detectiveís demeanour. The feisty blonde had never been one to refuse a challenge and so, the green eyes blazed at the last word.

"Sissy?! Iíll show you sissy..." she grunted, casting an evil look at the now openly leering dark woman and grabbed the offered helmet. It was just that, well, she hated motorcycles. They reminded her of horses and other such eccentric forms of transportationa and boy, did she hate horses. And bikes. The only time she had been on a motorized two-wheeler had been at her cousin Henryís in Wisconsin. The man was an incorrigible prankster and had scared her half to death with his 125cc by driving too close to trees and fences with her on the backseat.

When she sat behind the tall woman on the shiny black classic Harley, however, it felt entirely different. The bike was wide and felt massive, the gleaming black and silvery metal warm to touch. She adjusted her position and upon prompting, wrapped her arms around Ghisí waist. The black leather of her seat and that of Ghisí jacket creaked softly and felt smooth with a light nubbly texture when she brushed her fingers against it. When Ghis kick-started the bike, she wrapped her arms tighter and rested her helmeted forehead on the wide plane of her back. The scent in the leather was now a familiar one and it comforted her so that she almost forgot the raging beast of many horsepowers that was idly throbbing between her legs.

Forgot until they took off, that is. The beast roared to life and tilted heavily and off they were. Della was again reminded just how much taller the clubowner was and for once, she was thankful of it since she acted as an efficient windshield, albeit an impregnable one. Della couldnít see where they were going, only what they had just passed. Besides, her knowledge of the outskirts of this city with 12 million inhabitants was still a bit scetchy.

They headed north, passing Regentís Park and its magificient rose gardens, ending up somewhere in Camden Town, as far as Della could tell. They screeced to a halt in front of a, well, a building. A nondescript old five-story tall office building that was markedly different from its surroundings only that it had been renovated recently.

"What is this place?" Della queried when they hopped off the bike and she managed to get control of her legs that felt like spaghetti. Ghis took off her helmet and shook her hair free, the bronze highlights catching the steely rays of the sun. She smiled at the impatient detective.

"Friends," she said enigmatically and grabbed Dellaís hand, guiding her inside. The foyer was a small one, no receptionists, just a pair of metal lift doors. They opened and Ghis pressed fourth floor. A red light blinked, indicating that a key was needed to access that floor. Instead of a key, the tall woman produced a Leatherman tool, ripped the access panel open and cutting two wires and twisting all the ends together she effectively short-circuited the panel. The bell dinged and access to fourth floor was granted.

All this Della observed with steadily rounding eyes. The clubowner seemed to be a woman of many skills, most of them quite strange ones at that. Feeling a bit disoriented, she followed the black leathered back along the dingy beige hallway, to a foreboding-looking metal door that had no keyhole nor a handle, just a number panel. Once again, the multi-purpose tool was utilized and a long sequence of numbers punched in. Without a sound, the LED light flashed from red to green and the door reterated.

Ghis put her finger to her lips , asking Della to be quiet. She was just about to protest when a dark eyebrow rose and a tentative smile asked her to trust the enigmatic clubowner. Della sighed theatrically, rolled her eyes and nodded yes. She was rewarded with a wink and a wicked smile. Youíre gonna love this, the leer said.

They sneaked down the hallway. It was markedly different from the general appearence of the building, it was squeaky clean and decorated in delicate shades of blue, black and brushed metal. Making no sound, Ghis inched one door open. It revealed the back of an executive chair, cast in a blue halo of monitor light. Ghis snuck to stand right behind the chair, folded her arms and cleared her throat, loudly.

The chair spun around, revealing a paunchy, genial-looking man with a beard, eyes wide as saucers. His eyes travelled up until they met Ghisí face and the grin plastered there.

"Jesus, woman! Youíre gonna give me a heart attack one day..." he breathed and placed his pudgy hand on his chest.

"Nice to see you too, Sal," the dark woman drawled and stepped aside to reveal Della to the man. She flicked her eyes to Della who was leaning against the doorframe, feeling a bit out of place. "Meet Salvatore Moneus, the man who never grows up. Sal, this is Det. Covington of LPD."

The man grabbed Dellaís hand in his plumpy paw, shaking it warmly. "Well, detectives are sure more attractive nowadays than when I was your age. Pleasure to meet you, Ms Covington."

"Call me Della." The man nodded, his eyes brimming with laughter. "Well, then Iím Sal." He didnít remember to let go of the detectiveís hand until Ghis cleared her throat again. He turned to look at the dark woman, bracing his hands on his hips and scowling in mock anger.

"Now you, young woman-" Ghis rolled her eyes at this, "How did you get in here then? Weíre supposed to have a security system here."

"The best. I designed it, remember?" Ghis answered with a grin that showed her even, white teeth. It was Salís turn to roll his eyes. "Listen, Sal. I need to borrow a computer and someone whoís up-to-date with Net security stuff."

"Sure. Gee-Whiz Kid is four rooms down the hall, ask her. Have you considered my offer?"

"Thanks. And as usual, the answer is no." This was said with a smile as Ghis turned away, taking Della with her. Salís voice trailed down the corridor with them.

"200k, Ghislaine dear! We could make a fortune, you and I..."

Della did some mental calculations. 200k is 200 000, a nice salary..., until it her. 200k pounds?! Not dollars? Jeez. Lotsa money. Another mystery. They seemed to be piling up these days.

One, two, three doors and Ghis knocked on the fourth one. No answer came but she opened the door anyway. A wave of music hit them, blaring out of two Genelec active speakers. Heavy bass rumbled and so did the singer, in German. Between the speakers stood a high-backed work chair, in front of a 19" flat-screen monitor and the only thing visible of the chairís occupant was a bush of platinum-blonde hair, bobbing up and down to the music as delicate hands flew over the keyboard.

"Maria." No answer. "Maria!" Ghis bellowed. At this the chair turned.

Its occupant, despite her Spanish-sounding name, had nothing southern in her heritage. She was a classic Scandinavian Viking, high cheekbones and dark eyebrows that contrasted sharply with her short silvery-white hair. Her eyes were of the most darkest blue Della had ever seen, two pools of indigo velvet. They widened at recognition and then, crincled in laughter. She clicked once and the music vanished. Della mouthed a silent thank you.

"Ghis! Why you-" and the blonde flew from her chair and gave the dark woman a bear hug that was replied in kind. She was as tall as Ghis but her build was more slender, with impeccable bone structure. There was muscle, yes definetely, but more subdued than in Ghis. Finally, she let go and held the clubowner at armís length, scrutinizing.

"Youíre certainly as stunning as ever. Damn, sister," she said and winked. The gaze travelled to Della and a mischevous eyebrow lifted. "Well..." The dark eyes twinkled as she let go of Ghis and approached Della with the flowing pace of a jungle cat, so reminiscent of Ghisí. They mustíve both gone to the School of Impressive Walking, it seems.

Introductions again, Mariaís last name was Norwegian and thus completely unpronouncable and "my first name isnít Maria either but the real one is, again, unpronouncable. So, Iím either Kid or Maria. Kid to grumpy old men-" she said, pointing at the general direction of Salís office, "- and Maria to beautiful women," she finished and with great flourish, kissed Dellaís hand. She blushed and once again, Ghis was reminded how endearing it looked on the detective.

"So ladies, what can I do for you?" Maria asked as she plopped back into her cocoon of a chair.

"I need to borrow those fast fingers of yours." At a suggesting leer and a pair of wildly wagging eyebrows from Maria, Ghis sighed and waved her finger at the blonde. "Not for that, you imp. I need to break into somewhere."

"Okey-dokey. Grab a chair."

They did as told and for their benefit, Maria plugged another monitor into her SGI Octane workstation and when the screen flickered into life, they got the same X-Windows that was on Mariaís screen. Ghis scooted to sit next to the blonde and gave her a slip of paper that had an IP-number scribbled on it.


Maria glanced at the paper, ran an nslookup on the IP and her eyebrows rose halfway to her hairline. "Here? Well go fuck a duck, you crazy woman..."

"You canít do it?"

Only one of the eyebrows descended and a dangerous gleam came to the eyes. She cracked her knuckles and purred, "Just watch me." And the hands descended on the keyboard and magic happened.

Della lost track after traceroute something and ping something else. After exactly eight minutes, Maria let a small yelp of victory. She rolled her chair back an inch, turned to Ghis and gestured at the keyboard. "Weíre in. All yours."

The clubowner licked her lips and moved closer to the keyboard while Maria made room for her. Thus, the blonde ended up in the back row with Della. She took off her black sweater, revealing a black tank top that said íemacs foreverí, whatever that meant. She entwined her fingers across her stomach and only now Della noticed the twin tattoos on her arms, black tribal-style curves covering her skin from knuckes to elbows, thinning strands stretching all the way to shoulders. The intelligent dark eyes turned to gaze steadily into Dellaís green ones.

"So, you come here often?" she asked Della. The detective just stared, dumfounded.

"Maria..." rumbled Ghislane, her eyes never leaving the screen.

"Okay, okay..." the blonde said and smiled. "Just fancied to show her my tattoo collection." This odd statement squeezed a snort of a laugh from the dark woman. "I bet."

Della shook her head at this bantering. The women were obviously old friends, though Maria couldnít be older than 23. She made even Della feel ancient with her flawless skin and nerdish dresscode, minus the tattoos.

It took Ghis all of fifteen minutes to extract the information she needed. She printed out some files that Della figured to be log files of some sort and exited from whatever system Maria had broken into. She rose from the chair and stretched her arms. "Gotta love the Net," she remarked to Maria who nodded and rolled her chair back to stand next to the keyboard.

"You owe me one. And you know how I prefer my payments." Another lascivious leer. Ghis smiled back and gestured for Della to rise.

"Yeah. Iíll send you two pounds of potatoes."

"Thatís not what íin natureí means, hon..." was the reply Della heard before the throbbing music started again, to be silenced by the thankfully thick door.

Now Ghis was the one who shook her head while they paced side by side to the elevator. "Mariaís helplessly nymphomaniac," she said in a way of an explanation. Della couldnít think of anything intelligent to say so she just nodded.

"You got what you came here for, whatever this place is?"

"Yeah. I sure did," she said and waved the printouts, ignoring the implied question. "I need to find a payphone."

It was dawning on Della that Ghislaine du Plessis was one of those people who didnít like to share their plans beforehand, not that she was very talkative anyway. Della pumped her for information all the way down and to the bike, getting only one-syllable answers. Smoke was beginning to come out of the detectiveís ears as she sat on the bike and when they reached one of the few still active red London phone booths and Ghis stalked away, she was seething, ready to explode.

The call wasnít long and when Ghis came back out, Della had her arms folded and she was tapping her foor on the ground.

"Mind explaining to me what the hell is going on?"

A genuine smile was on Ghisí face. She liked this young womanís spunk. "Yeah. Letís find a quiet spot and Iíll explain."

"I... well, letís just say I worked for Her Majestyís government a long time ago and I saw a few things now and then."

Thus began Ghisí tale. Della was positive nothing could be more obfuscating than that. Ghis smiled an apologetic smile. "I canít tell you the specifics. Sorry." Della sighed but nodded her to continue. She fingered her coffeecup and rested her jaw on her palm, eyes fixed on the dark woman slouching in the chair opposite her in the coffee shop on Camden Lock. It was dark inside and some people smoked something that resembled cigarettes but the smell sure as hell wasnít that of tobacco. Welcome to Camden Town, Della had thought when they had entered.

"Anyway, I still have some friends from those times and they tend to be a bit overprotective now and then. So, when you started nosing around me and the club, they apparently took keen interest and tried to discourage you. But Iíve set things straight, they wonít bother you any more."

Della raised one eyebrow. "Thatís it? Thatís your explanation?" Ghis nodded and Della rolled her eyes. "Ohhh-kayy... letís start at the beginning. What was that place?"

"Where we just were? Oh, just some old friends."

"I know that. Please clarify."

"Well, Salís my old boss from years back and Gee-Whiz Kid is the brightest computer geek Iíve ever met, more obssessed than even I am. She and I, we have a... history. That place, Relative Gravity, Inc., itís one of the top ten companies specialized in distributed systems design in the world. Top-notch, very exclusive all the way."

"And the manís willing to pay you piles of money to work there?"

A sheepish smile and, Della couldnít believe it, a blush. "Well. Iíve picked up a few things..."

"I bet. Why donít you work there then?"

A shrug. "I like my work."

"I bet," Della repeated and returned the smile that edged to the dark womanís face at this.

"Címon. Iíll take you home."

"No, I need to get to the station."


Ghis dropped Della off a block from the precinct and sped away. Della followed the bike as long as she could, feeling oddly sad that theyíd had to part. She had enjoyed herself that morning, enjoyed Ghisí company. Though they were quite the opposite in most things, there was a certain... something about the woman that she found absolutely irresistible. Maybe it was the air of mystery and danger that seemed to follow the dark woman whenever she went. Or the action, she thought dryly, gently fingering the huge lump above her ear.

She stepped into the thankfully warm station and rubbed her hands together to restore circulation to her fingers. Sheíd had gloves but not thick enough for motorcycling. So, she had flexed them to no avail. She had almost surrendered to the thought that sheíd have frostbites, until she had felt Ghisí hand on hers. The hand had pushed her hands down and then pulled the lower edge of the motorcycling jacket on top of them.

So, for about ten blissful minutes she had travelled with her hands inside the clubownerís jacket, her fingers on the ribbed washboard stomach, fingers tracing over the valleys and mountains there. They had slid over the smooth cardigan, settling on the smooth square of her belt buckle and oh, it had been so warm. Ghisí heartbeat had been steady and strong, her breathing that of athleteís, deep and spaced far between. Della could almost feel Ghisí smooth skin underneath her fingers, a thin sheen of sweat covering the hard muscles on... oh stop it already.

She laughed to herself uneasily and upon reaching the squadroom, poured a hefty cup of coffee and retrieved the latest on the Keffen case. No new suspects but there was one lead on the ex-husband, Det. Johnson was on that one. So, Ms. du Plessis was still officially suspect number one and although she hadnít yet produced an alibi, Della had a feeling she wasnít the culprit, despite her obviously numerous and many-faceted perversions. It was just a gut feeling, a warm spot in Dellaís lower abdomen that told her there was nothing as heartless about Ghislane du Plessis as the Keffen murder required. And those eyes...

The eyes seemed to follow her everywhere. There was something naggingly familiar bout them but that was not it. She saw them in her sleep and every time she closed her eyes. Whenever the genuine article came into view, her usual eloquence just drained away, so distracting were the vivid blue orbs. Something was coming down, she was sure of that, and those eyes had everything to do with it.

When Della finally got home, it was dark again. It had been a long day and her head was throbbing again. Sheíd visited a doctor who had clucked his tongue, probed and prodded and taken a set of X-rays that clearly showed she hadnít had a concussion. The knowledge didnít alleviate the ache one bit though. So, she was dying for a snack, a pair of Tylenols and her own bed, in that order, when she unlocked her door.

Flicking on the light, she dropped her briefcase to the hall floor and proceeded straight into the livingroom. She flicked the switch and froze.

In her favourite comfy chair sat a man in a Royal Navyís uniform with gold braidings up to elbows. The man had short, military-styled gray hair underneath his hat and his uniform was spotless, his trouser creases razor sharp and boots polished to a mirrorlike shine. His face had a leathery look, the kind sailors get for a lifetime of exposure to harsh elements.

"Good evening, Detective Covington," he said and rose. "I apologize for the intrusion but this was really the only way."

Della got her muscle control back and whipped her gun from its holster, the snub nose pointing steadily at the man. "The only way to what? Who are you?"

"Please put down the gun, Detective. Iím here to tell you about Ms. Ghislaine du Plessis. And to apologize."

Deep ridges formed into Dellaís forehead and with the gun, she gestured the man to sit. She took a seat on the sofa, close enough for conversation but away from his hands. "Go on," she said warily.

"Do you mind?" he asked, pointing at his briefcase. "Slowly," Della growled. Doing as he was told, going slowly, he extracted a thick manilla folder that bore ominous-looking red stamps, the obligatory íTop Secretí and íHighly Classifiedí ones among them. From the folder the man took a photo and turned it so Della could see it.

It was, most definetely, Ghislaine du Plessis. Or, to be more precise, it was a scrubby bush that had abducted Ghislaineís eyes. Della lifted her gaze back to the man, a question in them.

"Youíre looking at Commander Ghislaine du Plessis, Her Majestyís Royal Navy, Special Ops. This is taken in a top secret training camp whose location I unfortunately cannot divulge." He put the picture away, entwined his fingers and looked intensely at Della. "Ms. du Plessis was and still is one of our most valued assets. Her skills are many, most notably those of computer hacking and cracking and martial arts and she was also the squadís top sniper. As all commandoes-" Dellaís eyebrows rose another notch, "- she has had extensive training and she has excelled in almost everything. She knows enormous amounts of extremely sensitive information and is otherwise very valuable and respected in out elite community. All this makes her position a very delicate one."

He stopped to take a deep breath. Della sat, transfixed, her gun all but forgotten. He continued. "So, you can imagine our alarm when someone starts digging up information on her, asking all kinds of touchy questions. Admittedly, our two warners were a bit over-enthusastic in fulfilling their duty but it seems they payed for their mistake," he said and smiled a wry smile.

"Anyway, on the night in question, Saturday-" he checked his watch for the correct date, "- Ms du Plessis was on duty. At the approximated time of the murder of Ms Keffen, she was sitting in a helicopter with several high-ranked officers who will remain unnamed. So you need not look for an alibi any more."

Great, Della thought. How am I goint to explain this to boss then? "I canít tell you why but I know sheís innocent." Yeah, thatíll pass just wonderfully. She was brought out of her thoughts by a polite cough. "Do you have any questions? Nothing detailed please, I cannot answer those."

"Yeah... I saw a picture of her, many pictures in fact, as a Marine. Why?"

"Ah, yes, krhm..." He pondered for a moment while Della fidgeted. "She... this is a bit awkward you see... was involved in an operation behind enemy lines in the Gulf War and her squad was transferred on location disguised as Marines, to avoid unnecessary questions."

"How about her brother? Is he why she was discharged?"

"Yes, Jean... he served in the Army. He was unfortunately killed in action and she, well, she suffered a mental breakdown. She went berserk, to put it bluntly. She extracted considerable damage on the Iraqui side and when the op was over, she wanted to leave the Navy. We let her go but she does favours for us now and then. As I said, sheís very valuable to us."

Della had a hunch she didnít want to know specifics on what íconsiderable damageí actually meant so she just nodded.

"If thereís nothing else, Iíll get going-"

"Wait. Why did you come here? I mean, really?"

He smiled another apologetic smile and stood up. "Because had I not apologized, she would have smacked me into kingdom come the next time weíd contacted her, after laughing us out." He fingered his briefcase, fiddling with the snap lock. "She broke into our system today, saw my name stamped all over everything and called me, laying down the terms. Either I stop harrassing you immediately or I get an enemy. I didnít get this old by not being smart. You donít want people like Ghislaine du Plessis mad at you, believe me."

He left Della sitting on the sofa, her hands still holding the gun with the barrel now pointed at the floor. He turned one last time before exiting.

"She must care a whole lot about you. I havenít heard her that angry since intel got false information fed to them and two of her squad got killed in an ambush." With that, he slipped out of the door and left Della to her jumbled-up thoughts.

No sleep for tonight.

No rest for the wicked either. After dropping off Della on the station, Ghis was feeling restless.

She got the urge sometimes. She suspected it to be in her heritage, nomadic blood passed down from some ancestor or another. So, after grabbing a bite to eat (and chasing off an oooohhing flock of teenage boys clustered around her bike), she set her front wheel east.

It was rush hour so for the first few miles, her pace was wormlike. After she got to Embankment and passed over Thames via Waterloo bridge, the flow of cars thinned somewhat. She made good time and by dinnertime she was in Greenwich. She parked as near as possible to Observatory hill, in the cul-de-sac inside the park.

When she turned off the engine, the silence was deafening. The cool breeze felt wonderful on her skin and the brisk air smelled of autumn leaves. It the ambiguous smell that pronounced the death of nature, yet the beginning of new life. The park was relatively empty at this hour and as dusk started to settle, she leaned against her bike and closed her weary eyes.

Damn Rear Admiral Devon. Damn him and the grovelling idiots around him. As if I wasnít capable of taking care of myself. They miscalculated and nearly maimed an LPD detective. They hurt Della. I canít have that.

She opened her eyes just in time to see the display of colours in the cirrus clouds over the silhouetted Observatory. She was rather fond of Greenwich. A small town wedged next to a sprawling monster of a city, a town that still held the charm of English countryside. It provided much-needed contrast to London.

She stretched her arms high above her head and worked out the kinks that she sometimes got from too much anger and driving. The leather of her coat complained softly. Damn, did she love that sound. She wrapped the motorcycling jacket tighter around herself, luxuriating in the feel and wild tangy scent of the material and the small sounds it made.

She remembered the little ímmmmmí the detective had made in the morning when she wrapped her arms around Ghis. She had squiggled, making the leather squeak. It was obvious the perky blonde was developing a liking to the material as well.

Leather signified power, as did uniforms, the whips and all the rubber. And power was the driving power in Ghisí life. Power and authority. She was a commanding figure in plain clothes as well, she knew it well. Her tall, dark frame spelled ítroubleí and she knew she had one killer of a Look. But the accessories, they enhanced the effect. She felt more powerful than ever, more impregnable whenever she put on her work clothes. They reflected her true self better than plain clothes and enhanced the impact she had on other more timid people. She was absolutely irresistible. No-one, absolutely no-one was immune to her charms. Not even the detective...

There was something markedly different about the detective. She had of course been the dominating partner every time, laying down the rules. Most of her partners had been submissive anyway and had been delirious with joy as she smacked and ordered them around. But with Della, she didnít get the urge to take control. Sure, her mean streak came out sometimes but with some unimaginable ability, the detective had a totally disarming effect on her. It was odd. It felt odd, too, but somehow... right.

As funny as it sounded, Ghis had to admit she had found her equal.

She was deep in thought for a long time, her fingers twitching reflexively. It was almost dark when she started out of her reverie and headed back to London. All the way back the mist-green eyes danced in front of her. When she reached the club, she shook her head and let out a short mirthless laugh. As if I was 14 and this is my first crush. Glancing at her loyal scuba watch, she noticed it was almost opening time. She leaped the stairs two steps at a time.


"Yes, my Mistress?"

"Bring the long black Syren and heels."

The girl rushed to do her bidding as Ghis went to her office and took off her clothes. She rarely had time to go to a public gym so in the next room, there was a small gym and a shower. She utilized the latter and with the help of the timid brunette and talcum powder, squeezed into the long rubber dress. Viv polished the surface to a gleaming shine and helped Ghis to the matching high heels.

"Might I say, you look absolutely radiant, Mistress Riva," she said, her pupils dilated at the gorgeous sight in front of her. She hadnít believed her fortune when Mistress Riva had chosen her as her house slave. For the first three nights in her job she hadnít been able to sleep, weather it be because of excitement or the fresh lashmarks she had proudly carried in her back.

"Huh? Oh, yes... I had a very pleaseant day today..." Ghis answered the beaming girl, not being able to prevent a small smile forming on her face. She finished her outfit with a metal collar that had three-inch spikes and grabbed a short rubber lash. She was feeling schoolgirlishly giddy with excitement and that made her generous so she went to the rack on the wall and took down a rubber collar that matched her outfit and a leash. She showed the collar to the kneeling girl and crooked her finger.

"Join me downstairs."

"Yes, Mistress..." Viv breathed. This must be my lucky day, she thought as she stood and approached her Mistress to receive the collar.

As anticipated, Della slept poorly and when the alarm rang, she felt like throwing the annoying beeping cube out of the window. She got up, grumbled a bit and it helped. She was feeling almost humane by the time she reached the station. Two cups of Robertís blend, straight up, helped some more. Her preoccupation didnít lessen much, though.

Her breakfast had been, once again, a rubbery sandwich from the vending machine downstairs and her stomach protested at her third cup. She grimaged and could almost hear Sensei Epona cluck her tongue. She hadnít done much excercising lately and her diet was horrifying. She took a pill and with a heavy sigh, grabbed the updated case folder that lay in her In-bin.

The lead on the ex-husband had actually led somewhere. Dellaís eyebrows inched up. The man had been secretive but not secretive enough. They now had an address and though no-one had answered upon knocking when Johnson had visited the place, they were to try again that night. Della was on duty with Saunders.

Day went flying by for Della, when she wasnít immersed in her paperwork she was deep in thought, the blue eyes dancing on her retinas. Sooner than she realized, it was time to go.

Saunders was one of her closest friends in the precinct. He was a well-educated young man who had a passion for reggae and would have been a practicing buddhist had he not joined LPD at an early age. He had adopted the philosophy well enough and it certainly didnít make him a worse man. He was hard-working, gentle and most importantly, not constantly hitting on Della. They took a car and drove to the given address, a few blocks from Sloane square. They parked a few blocks away and approached the building from across the street.

It was an old block of flats, the stones outside brownish-black from decades of traffic and living. No doorman, no buzzers. The flat in question was on first floor, at the end of a filthy corridor with beige walls and a green carpet. The Englishmen, always with their carpets. Even in the bathroom, for cryiní out loud.

They reached number nine and Della lifted an eyebrow in question. Saunders bowed with flourish and waved Della to the door. She did a reflexive check on her gun, checked her jeansí fly and cleared her throat. The doorbell produced no answer so she pounded on the door.

"Police! Open up!"

"Coming, coming..." sounded mutedly through the door. Della winked at Saunders and assumed her no-nonsense face again. The door opened and revealed Mr. James Keffen.

Keffen was in his thirties and already balding. He towered about five inches above Della and weighed at least twice as much. He smelled faitly of something unpleasant but he wasnít unclean. He wore a gray t-shirt and dull green jogging pants with two stripes down the leg. He adjusted his horn-rimmed glasses and peered down at Della. To the detective, he looked like an epitome of a genial pediatrician.

"Yeah," he asked. His breath was minty so it wasnít that that smelled odd.

"Mr. Keffen? We need to ask you a few questions."

He answered politely, in a quiet, precise voice. His sentences were careful and pronounced perfectly and everything about him advertised meticulousness. Yes, he had read of her ex-wifeís death and was deeply shocked. He had been away at a doctorsí conference in Suffolk and was trying to cope with the enormity of the situation.

"When was the last time you saw your ex-wife? Do you remember anything that could help us?" Della was almost grasping at straws.

"I havenít seen her in almost two months now. Iím sorry, detective, I seem to be of little help," he said and took off his glasses, smiling at Della apologetically. He cleaned the glasses to the hem of his t-shirt and a glint of gold caught Dellaís attention. The man had a ring in his index finger, large and shiny. When he put his glasses back on, Della saw that it was shaped like a squared circle with a Mercuriusí staff inside it. A hexagon with a pattern. A hexagon.

"Freeze!" she screamed and whipped out her gun. The man stood transfixed, his other hand still on his glasses. Saunders was not comprehending but since Della was his senior, he followed cue. He slammed the good doctor against the front door and while Della held him at gunpoint, radioed for help. The manís face was impassive, no emotion there.

"Letís get him inside," she advised Saunders and they guided the man to the flat, into the livingroom and on the sofa. The place was immaculate, not a fleck of dust in sight and every item was in its place. But it still smelled funny, and somehow... oddly familiar.

"Watch him while backup arrives," she said to Saunders who nodded and took on his best steely look. Mr. Keffen seemed relaxed but his eyes were focused somewhere far, far away. Della took one last look at them and went to search the place.

Kitchen held nothing of interest save a complete set of cooking knives, all squeaky clean and sharpened to razors. But a cook knife wasnít enough of a reason to arrest someone. So, she went on and as she approached the bedroom, the elusive smell got stronger. Della scrounged the spartan room from floor to ceiling but nothing. The expansive wardrobes held masses of clothes in neat rows but none had bloodstains or such. At last, she opened a narrow door at the far corner and it revealed a bathroom. The smell got stronger again.

There was a toilet seat, a sink and a tall towel cabinet. All seemed normal, except for the smell. It reminded Della of Dutch tiles again, of all the timmes she had been at the morgue... and then it hit her. With shaking hands she opened the towel cabinet door and in there were rows of white towels, in neat piles. And on the top shelf stood a large autopsy jar, filled to brim with formaldehyde and it contained something elongated and clunky that had seeped blood to the dull liquid. Della felt like vomiting.

"Saund..." She cleared her throat. "Saunders!"


"Got it," she said and closed the bathroom door. "We got it alright," she said, mostly to herself and took a long shuddering breath.

The jar did contain the ten missing vertebrae that used to belong to Sinead Keffen. They were in perfect shape and stored in strong formaldehyde. The lid of the jar was loose so some liquid had evaporated, producing the odd smell. The knives in the kitchen were checked and one of the large cook knives matched the probable murder weapon. After three hours of grilling, Mr. Keffen confessed by advice of his attorney. As for the motive, he just said that "She always claimed I had no spine. Well, I got some." Della was sure sheíd never forget her first psychopath.

After getting Keffen locked up and safe, she went home and took two long showers. They removed the smell of formaldehyde and death but did nothing to fade the image of a screaming young woman and the integral part of her that rested in Mr. Keffenís towel cabinet, in the middle of the top shelf.

She sat down and briefly pondered on eating something. The thought of real food made her stomach turn so she had a pear and sat back down on the sofa, fingering the TVís remote control with shaking hands. She accidentally dropped the black plastic thing and it impacted on the floor with a resounding clang and she jerked away from her thoughts. Burying her face in her hands she sighed deeply. She was in a desperate need of a shoulder and she knew whose shoulder. Would the clubowner consider her foolish for being shocked of so little? Probably, but she decided to go anyway.

Since it was well past eight, she figured Ghis was at the club already so she got a taxi to Gerrard Street, wanting to walk the few blocks. Crossing Shaftesbury Avenue was as difficult as always and there was a lot of people on the move, heading to and from the theatres, clubs and bars clustered around and near Leicester Square. As she stepped into Soho, the streets got narrower and darker though the sun was still up, just barely. Della got to the front door of The Rapture and leaned on the buzzer. No answer so she went round the block to the back door.

The dully gleaming metal door looked very unwelcome and for a moment Della thought coming here was a mistake. She pounded on the door anyway. It seemed to take a forever or two but finally the door clicked and opened a fraction. It was again the young lady who had escorted her out that night ñ Gods, only two days ago? Feels like itís been years... -- her outfit a bit more sensible than it had been on Wednesday, leather pants and a bra.

"I need to see Ghislaine," Della said.

"Mistress Riva is busy," the woman said, emphasis on the first two words. She was miffed that someone dared address her Mistress in such a disrespective way. She started to close the door and Della opened her mouth to protest at this bluntly unfriendly behaviour.

"Sara. Away." Forcefully, the voice wafted down the stairs, followed by heavy footsteps as someone ran down. From the darkenss emerged the clubowner, dressed in a white tank top and navy blue jogging pants, a white towel around her neck. At the two words the girl backed away and bowed.

"Iím sorry, Mistress. I didnít know-"

"Shut up," Ghislaine said brusquely. Della was appalled at the cold tone. Ghis noticed and alleviated the detectiveís horror with a smile and a conspiratorial wink. "Det. Covington is a..." she searched for the right word, the blue eyes flickering over Della in a warm, friendly gaze that made the blonde detective forget whatever she was thinking. ".. A dear friend," Ghis finished her sentence. "Understood?"

"Yes, Mistress," the girl, Sara, said and bowed again.

"Good. Now go help Eppie with the new sling. If she gets psychotic, fetch me."

Yet another bow and the young woman disappeared down the shady corridor. Ghis dried her face to the towel and tilted her head, inviting the detective in.

"Sorry about that. Saraís had some trouble with the police now and then so sheís not too keen on visiting detectives either."

"Síokay," Della said and took off her overcoat. It didnít seem to be overtly warm in the club but she felt entirely too hot. She suspected it had something to do with the absolutely gorgeous dark woman that stood before her, all sweaty and heated, the well-toned abs embossed on the wet white shirt. Della had to consciously drag her eyes back up.

"I was just finishing my workout. Is there something...?"

"Nah, go ahead and finish. Iím in no hurry."

They went upstairs and to the gym Della hadnít yet seen. It was more a huge collection of weights than a properly equipped gym, it seemed the mistress of the house preferred raw iron to machines. Della sat on the edge of the bench press and started to give a quick scetch on what had happened that day and on Mr. Keffenís arrest. Ghis put her towel next to her water bottle on the windowsill and did chinups while Della talked, making an encouraging grunt now and then.

When she switched to pushups Della paused for a while, entranced by the display of muscles in the clubownerís back. Smooth shapes shifted and the fluorescent lights of the gym cast sharp shadows in the fluid hills and valleys of the bronze back. Della coughed and focused on the far wall.

"... Uhm, and so... he confessed and thatís that. Case closed."

"Hm. Thatís great, congrats," Ghis said and smiled one of the disarming white smiles. Della replied in kind. "Iíll take a shower, five mins. Why donít you wait in the office, itís much more comfortable there," she said and indicated the door with her chin.

True to her word, Ghis emerged from the back room five minutes later, hair still wet and dressed casually in a white manís shirt and slightly foxed black leather trousers. She was drying her hair in yet another towel and blinking her eyes rapidly.

"Damn, got shampoo in my eye... Viv get you anything to drink?"

Della lifted the Pepsi can and nodded. When Ghis had disappeared into the shower Della had wandered to her office and sat on the blue alcantara-covered divan. Almost immediately the front door had opened and Viv had tiptoed in, still wearing nothing but the rubber panties.

"Can I offer anything for you, Mistress?" she had asked and Della had inhaled a nail she was biting. After some coughing she had gotten her voice back.

"A Pepsi, thanks. And donít call me that."

"Call you what, Mistress?"

"That. That mistress-thingy," she had explained, waving her hand vaguely. The girl had nodded and disappeared, coming back a minute later with a Pepsi can and a tall glass on a steel tray. She had taken just the can and assured the girl twice that she was fine and needed nothing more, thank you very much.

"Yeah, got my daily dose of additives and artificial flavours right here."

Ghis smiled and went to her desk. She casually flipped through her mail while still fluffing her hair with the towel. A dozen letters, the usual requests for interviews, applications and mail from her contacts in the industry. Nothing special, sheíd answer a few and let Viv handle the rest. She sat in her chair with a slight oof, pleasantly tired and loose from the workout. The night was still young so sheíd have time for a short nap and some dinner befor opening time...

Her eyes lifted from the mail and focused on the detective still sitting on the edge of the spacious divan. She was leaning her forearms on her knees, fingering the can that glistened from condensated water. The look in the intelligent hazel-green eyes was very familiar. The detective was somewhere very far away and it wasnít a nice place, that much the small lines of anguish around the eyes told. Ghis sat silently for a while, the only movement in the room the slender fingers on the cool Pepsi can. Something was bothering the detecive.

The clubowner pondered for a while and made a decision. Silently, she rose and went to sit next to Della on the divan. Not used to sensitive chats, she opened and closed her mouth a few times before any voice came out.

"You... want to talk about it?"

Della blinked. She hadnít even noticed Ghis moving next to her. She had been somewhere dark and unfriendly, the fishlike eyes of Mr. Keffen following her. She felt small, lonely and scared. Címon, get a grip, Delaney Covington. Youíre all grown up. Tears welled up in her eyes and the past couple of days came crashing down on her.

Uh oh. Ghis saw the tears coming and knew not what to do. The detective twitched with silent sobs and all the clubowner could think of was to reach out. Tentatively, she touched the detectiveís shoulder and on cue, Della leaned into the taller woman who wrapped two long arms around the smaller shaking body.

Oh, it felt good. Della snuggled closer and oddly enough, she felt deliriously content and miserable at the same time, happiness slowly winning. She burrowed her head into the muscular shoulder, her tears staining the lightly starched shirt. It was again the feel of home, of belonging. She extended her arms around the lean body, squeezing softly the lean muscles on Ghisí side.

For Ghislaine, it felt just as wonderful. It had been a long time since someone had been near her. She rested her chin on the blonde hair, feeling the faint scent of herbal shampoo and something spicy emanating from the silky hair of the detective. She closed her eyes and for a moment, she was transported away. She felt clean air and clean nature around her, an immense forest, a campfire and the warm length of someone pressed against her, naked. A ghost of a thought, a flash from somewhere in her past, or farther beyond.

Their position was a bit awkward, sitting side by side so Ghis leaned back against the one end of the divan and pulled Della with her. The detective snuggled up against the half-reclining dark woman, still sobbing. They lay like that for a long time, a comfortable silence in the air, neither of them wanting to break the spell and end the moment. Ghisí eyelids felt very heavy and the woderfullly warm weight of the detective on her lap and the steadying breathing lulling her to a light dreamless sleep. Fo once, past nightmares stayed away and she slept peacefully.

Della listened to the slowing breathing of the clubowner and the strong, steady beat of her heart. Sleep was claiming her as well, not having slept well the past few nights. To the meter of the raising and lowering chest she was leaning against, she floated into dreamland.

The open air feeling was stronger now. The smells of the forest were strong and moist but the air itself smelled of sulphur, as if a thunderstorm had just passed. She was leaning against a huge tree, the rough bark scratching her back in the bare shoulderblades. The voices around her were muted and animalistic, mixed with the hiss of mellowing wind. A bird descended from the sky and landed at her feet. It poked at a pinecone and then lifetd its head. The bright orange beak opened.


Ghisí eyebrows furrowed. Birdís donít talk, she fuzzily thought. What on Earth... the bird started to melt into the foliage, its colours becoming duller and more greenish, until all was a grayish mossy green. Even that faded, to be replaced by low orange light. The voice was closer now.


Ghis started awake. Her powerful body jerked up until she remembered where and who she was. She opened her eyes and they were flooded with the image of the timid Viv.

"Yeah," she croaked.

"Itís almost opening time and-"

"Iím up," she mumbled and extracted the slowly awakening detective from herself. She was slightly embarrassed that Viv had found her so, entangled with Della, deep asleep. She filed the thought away and rolled her head around to loosen up. Her neck popped audibly and she cringed. Damn. Not a very comfortable place to sleep. She glanced at Della who had turned to her side and continued snoozing, both fists under her cheek. Nothing to complain about the company though.

Ghis rose to a standing position and stretched her shoulders, breathing deeply. OK, Iím awake. Now, what to wear... She chewed on her lower lip, mentally browsing through her vast assortment of clothes. Rubbing her neck with one hand, she addressed the kneeling Viv. "Get the new Dark Garden corset and gauntlets. And polish the buckle boots." The girl bowed and exited quietly. Ghis focused on the detective.

"Della. Della!" She shook a slender shoulder. Nothing. Damn that woman can sleep, she chuckled. Well, let her. Sheís gotta be exhausted from all this.

She left Della on the divan, after fetching the biggest towel she could find and covering the detectiveís slender figure with it. Laying there, asleep, the blonde woman looked so much younger than her actual years, and so peaceful. Ghis stood there, silently, just gazing with fondness and warmth, until Viv returned and it was time to get to work.

When Della woke, she didnít know where she was. It is usually a very disturbing feeling but she didnít feel alarmed at all. Without opening her eyes, she knew she was safe. There was again that eternal scent that brought images of warm leather, dark silky hair and blue eyes to her. When she did open her eyes, they were at level with a pair of dark brown ones, or so Della deducted in the low light.

"How are you feeling, Mistress?"

Della blinked. "Uhh... okay." The name that belonged to the eyes came to her. "Iím fine, Viv."

"Is there anything I can do for you?"

Della rose to a sitting position on the invitingly soft divan. She looked down at the still kneeling girl. "Yeah, you can tell me why you insist on calling me ímistressí," she said wryly, raking her fingers through her tangled hair.

Viv looked puzzled. "Well... Youíre a friend of Mistress Rivaís and Iím her slave."

Della shook her head. There were some aspects of this strange new world she was positive sheíd never understand. She stood up and glanced at her watch. It was well past 2 a.m. "Shit."

"Ah, if you donít want anything..."

"No, Iím fine."

"Iíll inform Mistress Riva youíre awake."

While she was gone, Della yawned the last shreds of her sleep away and retrieved her overcoat from the gym. The lights in the office had been turned low and they cast odd shadows and multiplied the intricate shapes of Ghisí ítool rackí as she had called it, and its contents. The door opened and the faint thud of heavy bass blared into the room with full force, to be silenced again.

It had admitted Ghis - No, Mistress Riva - in all her glory, dressed in a laced-up leather corset and high-heeled platform shoes that made her a tad over seven feet tall. A thin sheen of sweat glistening on her skin, she ambled towards Della. She was carrying an empty champagne glass in one gauntleted hand, the intricate metallic curves that decorated the gauntlet reflecting off the glass.

"Hi;" the giant said, towering over Della by a good two feet.

"Uhh... hi."

Ghis rounded the desk and sat in her chair, setting the glass on the polished wooden surface with care. She was again feeling awkward, unsure weather to approach the subject of them sleeping together. "Howíre you feeling?"

"Much better. Sleeping did tons of good."

"Thatís great."

A silence fell. Neither was really feeling ready to process what had happened. Something had happened, something neither had experienced before. At that moment, Della saw with frightening clarty into her soul. Something bound her to this enigmatic woman and most importantly, it was reciprocal. Friendship, and something more. After a few moments, Della cleared her throat.

"Krhm... thanks for lending the divan."

"Youíre welcome," Ghis smiled. She ran a hand down the tightly laced front of her corset, tugging a strand at her stomach and thus easing the tension there a bit. Sitting in a corset was a major pain.

"So... could I get a taxi? Iíve got tons of paperwork to finish at home and..."

"Yeah... sure. Viv!"

The girl appeared and Ghis ordered her to fetch a taxi. When the brunette was gone, Ghis refocused back on Della, thinking furiously. "So, you planning on celebrating the solved case in any way?"

Della scratched her head. "Havenít really thought of anything..." She took a deep breath and gathered her waning courage. "You have any plans for tomorrow night?" She crossed her fingers, hoping the clubowner wouldnít blow her away.

Ghis smiled one of the dazzlingly bright smiles that always did nasty tricks to Dellaís stomach and so, it was doing little flips at the moment. "Now that you mention it... thereís a big party tomorrow. Wanna join me?"

Dellaís original idea had been along the lines of a few beers in a pub but now that Ghis mentioned an opportunity, she found out she was feeling reckless and wanted to party. And the thought of going out with this strikingly beautiful woman, well... really, who could resist an offer like that?

She smiled back. "Sure, Iíd love to." A thought occurred to her. "But... I donít have anything to wear."

"No prob. Saraís about your size, Iíll pick something from her wardrobe for you."

Della wagged her finger at Ghis. "Something larger than a postal stamp please. Iím not as perfectly built as you are."

Ghis laughed, a warm chuckle that rolled from somewhere deep within. "Yes you are, but donít worry. Iíll get something suitable and more covering than a stamp for you. What time can I pick you up?"

"At ten, my place?"

"Itís a date."

Is it, now... I wonder, Della mused. She was speeding, or rather, worming, through a nightly London, the slight pitter patter of rain on the windshield punctuating her thoughts. She knew Ghisí last line was probably meant as a figure of speech but still... and it was only probably meant like that. Probably. Well, tomorrow will tell. Well built, am I... ?

Della was just having a light lunch of tagliatelle alla carbonara and salad when her buzzer rang. She went to the comm and pressed the button, hastily gulping down the mouthful she was only halfway through chewing.


"Delivery for Ms. Covington," the little speaker crackled. Puzzled, Della pressed the ground floor release button to let the man in. Soon enough her doorbell rang and through the peephole she saw a huge man who was vaguely familiar. When she opened the door and the man smiled, she recognized it to be Herc, the musclebound doorman of the club.

"Mistress Riva sent this for you," he said and gave Della a black gym bag. She thanked him and he left after nodding a goodbye. She closed the door and put the bag on the foyer table, her lunch all but forgotten. She unzipped the bag and item by item, carefully, emptied the bagís contents on a nearby chair.

There were some recognizable items of clothing and then some Della couldnít figure out what part of her anatomy they were meant for, all neatly folded inside silk paper. Two pairs of shoes, some cans and jars and a folded piece of paper were the last things out of the spacious bag. She unfolded the paper. It was a note, written in a strong, bold handwriting.


Hope these fit, instructions are in the side pocket.

Have fun, Iíll see you at ten.



Della fished out a sheet of violet paper from the side pocket and true to Ghisí word, it contained detailed instructions on the use of talcum powder and the shining agent for rubber. Della touched the bottles and shook her head. The things I get into...

She fingered the closest garment, a skirt with a press-stud contraption in the front. The rubber felt cool and very smooth to touch. She brushed it with her slender digits, enjoying the exquisite and eccentric material. It felt odd and the scent was dry, faint and exotic, though not unpleasant. Rifling through the items she was trying to decide on what to wear. She discarded a pair of tight trousers immediately as well as ones made of leather that were two feet too long for her. Also in the ínot!í ñpile ended up a bra-thingy, really nothing more than thin strips of rubber held together by thinner strips and wishes, or so it seemed. In the middle of the pile she stopped.

It was, essentially, a dress. Short but not waterline hem, long sleeves and mediocre decollete with a wide strip around throat, closed back. The dress had a corsetlike look in the middle and a short slip. It was covering enough and already polished to a smooth, slightly oily shine. Della felt a spark of thrill travel down her spine. The dress was daring but hell, you only live once. She took the dress to living room and put it on a chair. All through the day her eyes kept returning to it, a small smile tugging at a corner of her mouth.

Evening came not a minute too soon and already at eight Della stood naked, in front of the full-lenght mirror in the bedroom. With a critical eye, her gaze travelled from the reflection of her eyes to her feet. She had some nice muscles there, espacially in the legs but there was a thin layer of softness over them. All shapes were round and feminine, unlike Ghisí. With a sigh, she squeezed her hip. Cellulite be damned.

OK, so I know what to wear. How about hair then? And makeup... She was unsure of the correct code in parties like these but she decided that classic style was always in. She brushed her shoulder-length straight hair smooth and slicked back and as for makeup, she went with her evening gown style that included black eyeliner, earth-toned shades that accentuated the green in her eyes and subdued yet beautiful plum-red lipstick. It was heavy but not stuffily so and she was happy with the result. As a huge dare, she decided not to wear underwear so the only thing left was... The squiggly wiggly part, she sighed and fetched the dress and the instructions.

The paper told to use the powder liberally but no too much and Della went for íliberalí. As a consequence, her bathroom was soon covered in a coating of white and she was giggling uncontrollably at the white clouds that puffed around. Carefully, she rolled the dress on her and did a small miracle performance in gymnastics when she managed to zip herself up without dislocating her shoulder. When done, she took a long breath of relief and went back to the mirror.

Wow. Her eyes dilated at the sight. No longer was she Delaney Covington, the sensible detective. No, she was Delaney Covington, party animal in rubber. A wide grin spread on her lips, a grin she really had little control over. Truth to be told, the dress did look wonderful on her. The middle with its corset bones squeezed her stomach in and pushed her breasts up to their full effect and black always made her look sleeker. The only downside to the dress was, as she soon noticed, bending was not an easy task. She was puffing when she managed to get the shoes on. With them she was a trifle under six feet and it felt odd, everything was lower than it shouldíve been. It was ten to ten and boy, was she ready.

Gingerly, she sat on a dinner table chair and tried to adjust herself comfortably. She found out that the only plausible way to breathe in the thing while sitting was to sit ramrod straight. She twiddled her thumbs and kept glancing at the wall clock. At two over, the buzzer rang, startling Della out of her thoughts.

It was Herc again, dressed in a chauffeurís outfit this time, hat and all. He smiled politely and took an approving look at Della. "Very nice, miss. Mistress Riva is waiting in the car so if you please come down with me...?" He produced a long overcoat made of leather and wrapped it around Della. It was heavy but felt warm enough.

Downstairs, Della paused for a moment. She knew a car was there, but what kind of a car... It was the closest she had been to a Rolls Royce and the car was huge. An old Silver Phantom II, it was a massive bulk of steel and silver and it had a separate driverís booth in the front. Della climbed inside and she was grateful of the classic carís height since it didnít require a lot of bending.

"Evening," said Ghis and smiled warmly, her eyes twinkling. "All ready and set?"

"Yeah," Della breathed. If black suited her amicably, for Ghis it was the perfect colour. She had a long shiny military overcoat made of rubber and it had silvery buttons, the gleam of the fabric contending with the shine of her hair and definetely losing to the brightness of the piercing blue eyes. She had on a heavy mask of coal-black and sparkling blue, the spiky make-up accentuating her sharp features and making her look very... Della fished for the right word. Scary? Nahh... predatorial? Yeah, thatís it. Her clothes creaked audibly when she leaned forward and tapped the window separating them from Herc. The car rumbled to life and rolled smoothly from the courtyard.

"You look absolutely beautiful," Ghis said as they glided across Oxford Street and down Regent Street.

Della coughed and tried to force down her blush with sheer willpower. It didnít work of course and she felt the blood flow to her cheeks. "Um, thanks... first time in this game," she answered and smiled back. She noted that Ghisí eyes had taken on the smoky, bedroomish-look again and she suspected it had something to do with her. The thought made her stomach do the Olympics program of flips and spins on the horizontal bar again.

The Rolls was polished to perfection and drew enough attention wherever they turned. Like an aircraft carrier, it moved onward with the grace of a ballet dancer and the crowdís heads turned. They crossed the Thames and headed southeast, to a part of London Della usually associated with ships, docks and warehouses. Not whips, Docs and whorehouses, she wryly thought when they went past a woman who was clad in a leather overcoat that ended in mid-thigh, knee-high Doc Martens and fishnet stockings.

"So, whatís the occasion?"

It took a few seconds to register. Ghis was staring out of the water-streaked window, smiling a small smile, her thoughts a milloin miles away. Or about two feet from where Iím sitting, she corrected herself. "Ah, yes. Itís Torture Gardenís anniversary party."

"Torture Garden?" That doesnít sound nice.

"Itís a..." Ghis struggled for a plausible but not too shocking explanation. "Itís a club of a sort." Della nodded and refocused outside since they seemed to be arriving. The car slowed down and drove through an opening in a chainlink fence, stopping on an inner yard of a sort, in front of a very uninviting-looking warehouse. If she didnít know better, Della wouldíve guessed it was, well, a warehouse and nothing else. The only thing really out of place was the mixed crowd that had gathered around a door.

Ghis spared a sideways glance at the detective. At this moment, she was kicking herself for bringing the young woman here. It was definetely not a nice place. Nope, quite the contrary. Perversions of most varieties were on glaring display here, people of the most eccentric kind came here. For all she knew, the detective would either run away screaming in horror or deem her, Ghislaine du Plessis, a mindless pervert. But her pounding heartbeat lessened somewhat at the detectiveís expression.

In the thick blonde eyelashes and the soft, feminine profile with a determined jaw she saw only curiosity. No disgust, no antagonism. Her appreciation of the surprisingly open-minded detective rose another notch and her own nervousness lessened somewhat. Until she remembered she had a show to do. Oh shit. And itís the one with the... Shitshitshit. She made some mental whacks and grated her teeth. It didnít help much.

As they exited the car and paced towads the throng of people, Ghis cleared her throat. "I... have a show to do." At a raised fair eyebrow she smiled sheepishly. "Itís a sort of a performance. Youíll see." She still couldnít remember how Chris had talked her into doing the show. Promising half the world plus a reciprocal performance of his Grind&Shriek group at the Rapture, probably.

When they entered the warehouse Della tried not to stare but it was so hard. The crowd was an ecclectic one, to say the least. Outrageous and over-pronounced outfits were in abundance, from semi-naked angels and nuns to many-coloured devils and demons and everything in between. Men, women and in-betweens were milling in groups or pairs, laughing and talking over the grinding music that echoed through the massive, cavernous hall. It was no-limits night and it was ecstatic.

Ghis seemed to know most of the crowd, either giving them a cool nod or a more heartfelt hello, depending on the level of acquaintance and their place in the pecking order of the inner circles. Della tried to stand in the back and follow the proceedings discreetly. A tall, serious-looking blonde in a military hat stopped them for a while and Della could distinguish a true American East Coast accent. The woman yanked a leash she was holding and promptly a meek-looking man appeared and offered Ghis a drink.

To Della, it seemed eyes followed them everywhere. She suspected it because she was a new face or... jeez, justlookitthat... the woman she was trailing was, to her and many others, the most perfect one around. Ghis.

The clubowner was dressed in riding boots again, white jodhpurs and a tight riding jacket with long flaps in the back. Topped with a white meandering necktie, gloves and a top hat, everything in rubber of course, Ghis was the twisted version of a sophisticated equestrian, lash and all. She introduced Della to some of the people but with others she just conversed a few words, making a slow tour of the room. The crowd parted easily enough in front of the tall, commanding figure that was Ghis and after a while, they ended up at a balcony of a smaller hall. There, the music was more subdued to enable conversation without coughing out a lung.

At some point of their tour when the masses had grown too thick Ghis had taken her hand as not to lose her. The clubowner was wearing short rubber gloves and they felt very slick and smooth as silk. The warmth of the hand seeped through the highly artificial material and into Della, straight to her core. From time to time, the dark-haired woman had glanced back to see if everything was OK and every time she had smiled and gazed into Dellaís eyes. And every time Dellaís stomach had fluttered. The smile was not merely warm, it was hot beyond the melting point of iron and hearts, scorching Dellaís skin wherever the smoky blue eyes had touched.

Ghis let go of the detectiveís hand and they leaned against the dull gunmetal gray railing. Ghis gave Della a drink she had fetched from a tray carried by one of the numerous slave waiters that circled the venue and Della took a cautious sip of the blood red drink and found it to her liking. It was cold and not too sweet and very cooling since rubber is not one of the most breathing materials to wear.

"So, how do you like it?"

"This is very... intriguing," Della replied, not being able to express in more words the moods, emotions and vibrations she was getting from this place.

Ghis relesed a breath she hadnít realized she was holding and allowed a smile to spread on her lips. "Yeah. Itís that." She adjusted her grip on the glass, sliding one finger under it. Condensated water on a slippery glass was a bitch if you wore rubber gloves. Lots and lots of glasses broke in every party.

Della turned and rested the small of her back against the railing. She looked straight into Ghis, admiring the strong profile. Never noticed how beautiful eyelashes she has, she thought idly, relishing in the aesthetical pleasure that came from the classic features of the clubowner. "Yíknow..." she began.

Ghis turned to face her, raising a perfect dark eyebrow. Della could swear there was actual joy and laughter in the eyes.

"Iím having fun, actually," Della confessed, shocked at her own audacity and the actual fact that yes, she was having fun. Great fun. She had a hunch spending time with Ghis would be neither boring nor unpleasant, ever.

"Me too," was the answer, rasped in the spine-tingling contralto. Ghis lifted her glass in a toast and they sipped in silence, the electric contact between the icy blue and misty green eyes never breaking.

It was nearing midnight and they had wandered from the balcony back to the main hall and near the stage. The crowd had given them enough space and when some wet-behind-the-ears dude had wandered just a tad too close, a glare and a snarl from Ghis had done the trick. The shows on the stage had been numerous and of varying level of lasciviousness. The fashion show had been nice and beautiful but when a blue-haired man had appeared on stage and started attaching weights to his various genital piercings, Della had turned away and focused on the crowd and the woman behind her.

During the fashion show Ghis had wrapped her arms around Della and whispered something into her ear about a particular outfit. She had nodded in agreement but had no idea what the question had been about. All her senses were focused on the two hands on her stomach, smoothing the rubber with small circular motions and the warm breath on her ear. Amongst a rough crowd of violent, perverted people, she felt utterly safe. Another deja-vu hit her hard but she let it slide pass her, focusing with little effort on the ball of warmth inside her, the warmth the mere presence of Ghis seemed to be able to generate.

Now, the clubowner was gone. She had left Della under the protective presence of Herc and over the din of the industrial music the detective chatted in clipped sentences with the jovial man, now dressed in a green army-style rubber uniform. Ghis had gone backstage to prepare for her performance. She had been quite tight-lipped about it, just repeating íyouíll seeí and smiling enigmatically when Della tried to pump her for more info.

The music paused, signifying a new number. The MC of the evening, an oriental-looking woman that someone had called Midori, stepped forward. Della felt her head buzz slightly and she was feeling comfortably light-spirited. At least three glasses of the excellent punch had found their way into her and the effects were starting to show.

"Ladies and slaves," the MC began and a small round of laughter passed through the assorted people. "Torture Garden proudly presents a couple of cats... and the unimitable, unforgettable... Elektra!" At this, the music came to life again. It was a grinding, moody beat and strobes lighted up and pulsated to the fast thudding music. Two semi-naked muscular men pushed a cage to the stage and inside the chainlink-and-dark-wood ñcontraption two women writhed. They were clad in tiger striped corsets with tails, stockings and platform shoes. The flickering light made them look like they were in a too slow cartoon and they switched from a pose to another in the blink of an eye. It was stylized and reminded Della of a mime show.

Then another person strode to the stage with long, confident steps and a proud posture, a coiled bullwhip in hand. It was Ghis. She was still in the same clothes except that the necktie was replaced with a bowtie and... Dellaís breath caught in her throat. A big black rubber penis hung between her legs, proud and erect. The familiar tiger tamer uncoiled the bullwhip as she ambled around the cage and the ítigersí bared their teeth at her, attempting to claw at her between the chains. Ghis, or Elektra as she was known in this performance, smiled a cruel, theathrical smile and lashed at the cage and twirled the six-meter snakelike piece of leathery work of art in gracious arcs while she meandered all over the stage.

Della felt her jaw muscles go slack. This woman, Ghis, that pranced on the stage with long strides and graceful moves, was truly magnificient. Now and then, Della caught the piercing eyes and the silvery blue in them seemed to drain all light from the room, they were the only thing Della could see. The posture of the woman was one of arrogance but the eyes and the fluidly moving body were carnal to the core. Hot waves traversed through the detective at the thought of this woman that had stood so close, so hot next to her. This primal creature oozed with sensual power as she released the ítigersí and kept them back with some elaborate whipwork.

The ítigersí came nearer and nearer until they were at her feet, worshiping the ground she stood on and licking her boots and legs. She kicked one of them farther away and with a few flicks of the whip, guided the other one to the roof of the waist-hight cage. With neglicent ease, she jumped there herself and slowly lowered herself on the tigress. The other cat crawled nearer and kissed the one on her back as Ghis ñ Elektra ñ slowly... penetrated her. The look of utter ecstasy on the tigressí face was enough to make Dellaís abdomen cramp in a sudden flash of desire.

The show continued so, the tiger tamer having wild scenes of sensuous sex with her subjects. Della didnít even blink, so engrossed she was. The catlike, animalistic moves and the faces of all three displaying ultimate pleasure were enough to make Della forget breathing. Itís a show, she kept repeating to herself but couldnít help being drawn into it. The vision of the utterly sensuous, dominating Ghis and the masks of rapture she wore made Dellaís brain flash some very disturbing images onto her retinas.

The most fascinating thing about Ghis was that she dominated, absolutely but not in a negative sense of the word. It was her nature, the core of this primal predator that demanded everything and also gave all. Dellaís mind flashed with images of this wondrous woman near her, the slitted bedroom eyes focused onto her and seeing deep into her soul. So close, next to her, in her and under her skin, with all she had. She wanted to feel what the tiger-clothed women were feeling, being under Ghisí rule and the sole focus of her attentions and her lust.

She felt the blood rise into her head and it made her dizzy. It was clear as crystal. She wanted this woman, bad. So bad she felt her life depended on it. Her skin felt sensitized and she could sense the electricity and see the aura around and between them. When Ghis refocused on Della, the look in her eyes was not hard to interpret, she felt it too. They were bound together in an eternal marriage of fate, destiny and desire.

Ghis returned a quarter after the end of the show and during that time she had changed into a long rubber dress in black with swirling curves of bronze and matching long gloves. Without a word, she grabbed Dellaís hand and led her away from the stage. In daze, Della followed her, through the hall, up a stairway and to a door. Ghis exchanged a few words with the masked, corseted dominatrix that stood on the door who flicked her gaze to Della and nodded her head. Ghis smiled a thank you and the other woman winked. The clubowner opened the door and pulled Della into the room. She pulled the door close, shutting out the music and they were in pitch black darkness. Della started to panic until she felt a breath on her ear.

"Wait here," it said and then her companion was gone. The darkness was broken by the strike of a match and a candle was lit. With it, Ghis circled around the room, having memorized the locations of the candles during her previous visits here. When lighting the other candles her hand shook a bit. Weather it be from nervousness or desire, she couldnít tell. A new experience, being nervous. She rarely was but there was something markedly different about this time.

The candles bathed the dark room in a soft glow of light. Besides the bare matte black walls, there was little else. A table that had several objects on it and in the centre of the room, a queen-sized bed with black satin sheets and high bedposts. Long leather strips trailed from each pole and on every stip there were many a metal ring and the length of the strip was adjustable. Next to the massive bed stood Mistress Riva. There was a moment of utter stillness as they just looked into each othersí eyes and then Ghis stepped forward.

She stopped a hairís width away from Della, so close the detective could feel the heat radiating from the dark-haired woman. She was fragrant with the odour of sex and she was unconsciously flaunting with it. Nearing sensory overload, Della swore she had never been so aroused in her entire life and they hadnít even touched.

Ghis took a breath to say something but Della caught her first. She placed a finger on the red lips above her and made a shhing sound. She traced the finger across the lower lip, marvelling at the softness that was in so much contrast with the true nature of the woman. She reached the corner of the mouth that curved into a smile and when she started back, the finger was deftly captured by the lips and sucked into waiting mouth.

At the exquisite feeling of the gentle suction on her digit and the incinerating heat in the velvety smooth mouth Della made a small whimper and her knees buckled. Ghis caught her drew her close, wrapping her long arms around Dellaís waist. She gently clamped her teeth around the slender finger in her mouth and slowly, let her tongue wander around the slightly curving digit..

With a sigh of regret Della extracted her finger and looked deep into the blue eyes. Her mouth felt phenomenally dry. "May I kiss you please," she managed to whisper. As a response, Ghis tightened her hold and rubber squeaked as she bent forward. Slowly, painfully so, the ruby red lips neared Dellaís. A breath caressed her lips and when they were closer than close, Dellaís eyes drooped shut. It felt as if an eternity of waiting had ended. And then their lips met.

At touch, Dellaís eyes flew open again. With the icy and hard exterior Ghis projected, she had the most divine lips. The eyes so close to hers were tinted deep violet in the low light, the pupils completely dilated. They were very steady and electricity crackled in them. Della released a small sigh and parted her lips slightly. She was instantly rewared with the clublowners delightfully textured tongue on her sensitized lips. The room faded as they embraced more tightly, tongues dancing.

This is insane. Sheís dangerous, this place is dangerous, I barely know her... Iím not gay, Iíve never... A hundred and ten thoughts flew in Dellaís head. But nevermind what her mind was saying, her body betrayed her. It trembled with anticipation and fear and heat, the small hairs on her skin lifting wherever the clubownerís hands wandered. From the small of her back, they travelled up to stroke her between the shoulderblades and onwards to shoulders, lightly caressing the slick material of her dress. Strange sensations of feeling both cool and hot at the same time coursed through Della and when the hands slipped under her arms and gently brushed the undersides of her breasts, her breath caught. She tried to force herself to relax and when she managed to do so, a small satisfied growl escaped Ghis.

The taller woman broke the embrace. She searched and found Dellaís eyes. "You donít have to do anything you donít want to, remember that." When Della nodded, she smiled and slid her arms around the detective again. "Is this what you want?"

The voice was an octave lower than usual and Della could feel it vibrate inside her. She swallowed, trying to get her speech control back. "Yes," was all she managed to rasp out.

"Good," was the answer and the clubowner rested her forehead on Dellaís. This way, their eyes were closer than close. The tip of Ghisí tongue meandred across the hills and valleys of Dellaís lips and her hands reached back and up. Della swore she could feel her own frantic heartbeat against the dark womanís breasts and it increased twofold when the zipper of her dress inched a hairís breath downward. It continued, letting out a slight buzzing sound and Della could feel the cooler air hit her skin in her neck, shoulderblades and lower back. Until the zipper ended, right above her behind.

So slowly it felt like torture the hands went back up and around. The eyes didnít waver the slightest bit and didnít even blink. They held Della in an iron grip, with pure willpower. With her fingertips, Ghis lowered the collar, exposing one shoulder. The violet blue gaze broke away and Ghis lowered her mouth on the fluttering pulsepoint next to Dellaís collarbone. She bit down and sucked the fair, pliant flesh into her mouth.

Della turned her head to a side for Ghis to have better access. She ran her hands through the silken black hair that billowed across her throat and shoulder and when Ghis gently bit the tender flesh of her throat a small keening sound escaped her throat. When Ghis heard it, she smiled against the skin under her lips and inched down the dress some more.

The dress rolled down with slight rubberish sounds and the feeling of cooler air on her heated, sweating skin that was still silky smooth from the talc, it was refreshing. Goosebumps rose wherever Ghisís fingers touched and finally, the dress was off. It fell on the floor into a heap and with half a mind Della stepped out of it. Ghis reached around her and wrapped her arms around the detective tightly, one palm cupping a buttock. Della was now completely naked save her shoes and her body pressed with all its length on its rubber-encased reciprocal. She was gently lifted into air and settled on the satin sheets of the bed. When the protective arms left her and she was alone, she opened her eyes.

Ghis was standing ramrod straight next to the luxurious bed. Under the dark eyebrows the blue eyes gazed at Della with a loving stare.

"You are truly beautiful," the clubowner hummed. Della blushed and tried to hide it by turning on her stomach, head towards the dark woman. Ghis smiled a white smile and took a small step back. First one, then the other shoulderstrap came off and the tops of Ghisí breasts came into view. Lower and lower she rolled the dress and without conscious thought Della held her breath. It took a small eternity to roll down the five feet of rubber tube. Finally, it was off and all the clubowner wore were long rubber stockings, platform boots and the long gloves. Silhouetted in the warm candlelight was probably the most perfect body Della had ever seen, completely devoid of body hair and the strong muscles underneath the warm bronze skin rippling in the flickering light of the candles. The body in question rolled into motion and with slow catlike steps, circled around the bed, coming to a full halt on the other side. Della rolled over to be able to look at Ghis.

Ghis sat on the bed and took possession of Dellaís foot. She unstrapped the high-heeled shoe and dropped in negligently on the floor. The other suffered the same fate but this time, Ghis didnít let go of Dellaís ankle but brought the foot to her mouth and slipped the second and third toe into her mouth. For the umpteenth time this evening Dellaís brain was close to shorting out. She was already breathing heavily and erratically and when Ghis released her toes and lowered herself on top of Della, the detective thought she was just going to die right then and there. Her nipples were usually rather sensitive but now, the delicious weight of Ghisí perfect breasts on hers nearly made her pass out. She felt the hard nipple and something colder... furrowning her brows, she looked down and when Ghis lifted her head from Dellaís throat, she saw what it was. The clubowner had pierced nipples.

The look on Dellaís face was so comical Ghis wouldíve laughed had the situation been less intense. So, she just raised an eyebrow and favoured the detecive with a crooked, knowing smile. She knew the signs so well, the uneven breathing and the gentle flush on the detectiveís neck and shoulders. She was getting the fever as well but with well-honed self-control, banished all thought of just ravising the detective right then and there. Make it last, she ordered herself. But it was so hard. She took a deep breath and collected her composure while licking the taut skin between Dellaís rosy breasts.

When Ghis moved from centre to a side and the miracle-producing lips and tongue approached one nipple, Della was unable to help herself. She buried her hands into the dark hair again, gently guiding the head to its intended target. She could feel Ghis smile against her skin but all thoughts of shame were banished from her head when the mouth reached its target. She closed her eyes and arched her back, pushing as much of her flesh against Ghisí as possible. A gasp escaped her mouth as the sensations that zipped straight to points south intensified.

Ghisí hands travelled from Dellaís sides to her arms and finally stopped at her wrists. Grabbing a gentle yet firm hold she pushed the hands under Dellaís head while at the same time pushing a powerful thigh between Dellaís legs. The hold on the hands gave the detective no choice, she had to arc up further, pushing her chest out. Ghis licked the protruding ribs and felt the well-toned abs quiver under her lips. She was absolutely positive the woman under her was powerfully aroused, so smoothly she slid down her rubber-coated thigh. Ghis relesed the hands and slid down.

Her skin was on fire, Della was sure. As Ghis inched slowly downwards, aided by Dellaís hands that pushed the top of her head, wherever the masses of dark silken hair glided her nerve endings sparkled. When the clubowner reached the curve of her pelvis and breathed hot moist air over it, trailing from side to side following the top of her pubic hair, all rational thought escaped Della. She was thrumming with arousal and she wanted something, anything to touch her. But when the touch moved down, it passed the spot where her need lay. She moaned in protest and opened her eyes.

Ghis was kneeling between her bent legs, caressing her thighs with both hands and smiling. The intense eyes held Dellaís for a beat and then turned away. Ghis leaned to a side and kissed a convenient knee and then took a bit of the soft flesh of the thigh between strong white teeth as the hands continued trailing up the thighs, leaving a feeling of molten lead behind them. But again they stopped millimetres short of their target and Della gasped in frustration. She tried to bring her legs together to provide some much needed friction for her centre but of course she couldnít do that while Ghis was sitting between her legs. It was equal parts maddening and arousing.

"Please..." she whimpered.

Ghis smiled at the impatient woman. She put one finger, the rubber now slick with the fine sheen of sweat Della had on her, to the detectiveís mouth. "Shhh. We have lots of time." She removed the finger and leaned over Della. "Would you like to play?" was the question.

Dellaís heart jumped. With this woman, she couldnít even imagine what playing meant but hell if she wasnít ready to find out. Yessir, anything just as long as it involves Ghis. She nodded.

Ghisí smile intensified and her eyes took on a darker, predatorial look. "Good. Verrry good..." she purred and slithered off the bed. Della rose to lean on an elbow and with slightly wary eyes followed Ghis who had apparently transformed back into Mistress Riva. The dark woman picked up two pairs of restraints and something else from the table and climbed back to the bed. She dangled the pair of leather wrist cuffs from one finger and lifted one eyebrow in question. Dellaís throat felt phenomenally dry as she cast a mental dice. It returned a snake eye so she nodded yes.

Ghis settled the restraints down and with negligent ease, lifted Della to a sitting position to lean against the metal poles between the bedposts. For a while the metal felt cool against her shoulders but it warmed quickly. Ghis spread Dellaís legs and once again, sat between them and put the ankle and wrist restraints on with quick, practiced moves. The leather was padded and it felt soft and pliable. The added weight was not much but the thought of what they were for, it felt odd enough to make small shivers of excitement course through Della.

The wrist restraints were fastened to the strips of leather hanging from the bedposts and tightened. Dellaís hands rose to her side but not too wide. It wasnít uncomfortable, just that she had a very limited freedom of movement. Her legs were fastened as well and so, Det Delaney Covington was effectively spread-eagled on the black bed.

Ghis settled to sit between the detectiveís legs and almost on her lap, the still rubber-encased thighs resting on top of Dellaís. She moved a fraction closer so that their pubic arcs brushed against one another. So close, Della could feel the heat and the faint scent of musk and spices coming from the woman touching her. Locking her eyes with brilliant blue, she pleaded without words.

Ghis placed her hands on Dellaís sides and went serious for a moment. "At any time, if you donít like something, just say so and Iíll stop immediately. OK?" Della nodded and was rewarded with a devastating kiss that was rough enough to bruise but not to hurt. She was ready to melt into a puddle right then and there as she felt the clobownerís body slide against hers. The mouth left hers and she reopened her eyes.

Ghis rolled down her gloves and threw them to the floor. She reached behind her and came up with a long, very thin chain she had brought with her from the table. She dangled one end in front of Dellaís eyes and traced the gentle curves of the smaller womanís shoulders and neck with it. Dellaís breath was erratic at the glare of the bedroom blue eyes.

With a humming murmur the raven-haired Mistress in her lap issued her command. The voice was hot enough to melt lead in its intensity.


And Della did as she was told.

The chain was threaded through one nipple ring and after that, the other. Ghis grabbd the ends of the chains tightly and when she was sure Della was watching every move, pulled out and to her sides.

The feeling was exquisite. Her nipples went taut instantly and as pleasure and pain mingled, she had no choice but to moan deep in her throat at the sensations that shot from her breasts to her brain. She threw back her head in rapture and pulled some more. Over her haze of white hot pleasure she could hear the small whimpers coming from Della. She gave a little slack to the chain and when the wave passed, lifted her head back upright.

The green eyes were bright and shone passion and lust. Ghis steadied her breathing and picked up two small objects that she attached to the ends of the chain.

"Close your eyes."

Della did so and for a moment nothing happened. Her blood pounded in her ears and she saw the red echoes inside her eyelids. The mere presence of this woman was nearly enough to bring her to the edge and then... she exploded. All sensations were one big ball of intense pleasure, shooting from her nipples to her groin. It was a release that somehow only increased the tension inside her. Her eyes flew open and she looked down.

There, in strark contrast to her skin and the fair pink of her aureolas, were two metal clips, squeezing her nipples. Funny, she though it would be painful but all she felt was this... undescribable feeling. The chain swung and another wave of pleasure shot through her. Every small move and swing of the chain brought out a small gasp. She was now truly connected to Ghis.

"Look at me."

The voice made Dellaís head snap up. Hypnotized, she gazed into two pools of azure blue water and as Ghis slowly leaned back, the pleasure came as well. The chain went taut and Ghis growled, a low primal purr deep in her throat. Della, head drooped back as the chain went tighter and tighter, creating a buzzing sensation of floating in a deep haze of red passion. They both leaned back and both could feel the tremble of the chain as they struggled to remain still. The room was filled with low, continuous moans. Ghis started to swing from side to side, bringing out a different sort of pleasure from Della, one that made her sure the sheet under her had soaked through. Never had she felt anything so intense.

She brought her head up and locked her gaze with the blue one. Ghisí nostrils flared and her eyes were wild. Small blue flames danced in her black pupils as she gazed at Della, slowly swinging from side to side. Enchanted like a snake was of its charmerís flute, Della stared.

Slowly, Ghis straighened back up, lessening the tension. She took off the chain from one clamp, unthreaded it from her piercings and refastened it to the clamp. She lifted the chain and brushing Dellaís lips with a finger, ordered her to open her mouth. She did and was rewared with the chain. It was cool and slippery as she rolled it around with her tongue, trying to catch her breath. With trepidation, she waited for what was to come next. Sweat from extertion and self-control was beading on her forehead.

The straps that bound her hands to the bed were loosened and Della rolled her shoulders around, grateful for the change. She watched Ghis pace to the end of the bed and grab the straps that held her legs. With one steady, powerful pull she tightened the slack, making Della slide down onto the bed.

Next, the dark woman stepped back on the bed and produced a black silk scarf. She sat across Dellaís stomach, gently rubbing herself against the slick muscles there. Della held her breath and bit her lower lip in an attempt not to cry out. When Ghis lowered herself on the detective, the attempt proved to be futile. Restraints groaned in strain when Della tried to embrace the woman on her, the woman that made her sure that heaven was a place on Earth and it was this room. They were connected, on a more deeper level than the large areas of heated skin that was between them. She was as turned on by the womanís own arousal she swore she could feel in her soul, than her actual administrations to Dellaís need.

The silk scarf was placed on the detectiveís eyes and tied snugly to the back of her head. The presence that was Ghis left her and she could hear the quiet footsteps that padded around the room, smal clinks and a scraping sound. The she was back.

The first drop landed on her stomach. It felt burning hot for the barest of seconds and Della inhaled sharply. The blazing hot and suddenly cool feeling trailed from her stomach down, to the edge of her pubic hair and back up. Up towards her breasts and as the white hot touch circled her aureola, she arced her back to it. This made the chain that was still in her mouth go taut and electricity shot from her nipples, down, up, everywhere. The heat went away and someone flicked at her nipple clamps, making her pulse jump at the sudden sensation.

Hot breath trailed on her skin and towards her breast. Suddenly, the clamp was released and the battered flesh was free. Another new sensation and then, the nipple was sucked into a cool mouth and something very cold and hard was on her nipple. The other clamp was undone as well and the nipple treated in the same manner. The extremes of hot and cold were something unbelievable, all made more intense by the fact that Della couldnít see so she had to rely on her other senses. She felt the blood pound in her ears as it rushed from her frantically beating heart to her head and to her groin. She ached for a release, a touch, anything. But the damn woman didnít touch her where she wanted to be touched.

The cold wetness moved down and down and still lower. It stayed for a while at her bellybutton, making her squirm at the slightly tickling sensation and then it came back up. It wanished for a while and then, she heard Ghisís voice purr next to her ear, a low growl that made the hair at the nape of Dellaís neck raise up. The coldness was back again and this time, it headed straight down. It stopped at her hip and made small circles there.

Ghis was reclining next to the detective, a small smile playing on her lips. Through half-closed lids, she gazed at the lovely sight of the fair detective writhing on the bed, sweat glistening on her flushed skin, chest rising and falling rapidly and erratically.

"Now, remember..." Ghis purred to the woman and dipped the ice cube she was holding briefly between the spread legs, caressing with it along the length of sensitive flesh between the detectiveís nether lips. She was rewared with a sharp intake of breath and a convulse that made the bedposts groan with strain. The candle wax had already hardened and flaked off at the squirming Della made.

"... you may not come without my permission."

She left the detective to process that, retrieved another ice cube and repositioned herself between the quite perfect thighs that beckoned her. The muscles in them quivered under her touch and when she pushed the legs so that they were bent at knees and went down between them, it was clear that Della was more than slightly turned on. Every lovely pink fold was glistening with moisture, the red-blonde curls soaking wet. Oh honey, you havenít seen nothing yet... Humming contently to herself, the clubowner placed her mouth on the trembling taut flesh.

The touch that finally came almost made Della explode then and there. She trembled with pleasure as she felt the cold, hard feeling on her clit, the stark contrast making all differences between pleasure and pain, hot and cold, heaven and hell disappear. The sensitized nub was teased with small, circular moves that left the detective gasp for breath. Her head flew from side to side and she was quite beyond intelligent thoughts. Low, primal groans emanated from somewhere deep within her when the hard coldness went downward. Down it went and paused at her entrance. At that moment, she felt like she was going insane. She was nearing the bounds of her self-control, nearing the edge and again she was denied.

She took a breath to voice her displeasure but just at that moment, the coldness was thrust inside her. Instead of the disappointed sound she had thought to make, a strangled keen was produced. The hard, cold item was thrust deeper inside her and her throbbing clit was attended with what she recognized to be Ghisí tongue. All her attention was focused on the few square millimetres between her legs and she tried to obey her commands but it was so hard.

Just as she thought the arteries at her temples were about to explode from self-restraint, the tongue ceased its tormenting moves and the coldness slid from her. She took a few gulps of cool air inside her lungs and tried to will her legs to stop shaking.

"Good." The voice purred again near her and she was, again, left alone. She was unsure of how many times of almost coming her heart could take. Not many, she suspected. It was killing her. Her ankle restraints were fiddled with and then the now-familiar feeling of the leather on her legs vanished. She bent her knees some more but was stopped from bringing her legs together.

Disembodied hands had again appeared on her thighs. Somehow, she recognized them to be Ghisí, the short nails raking over the sensitive skin on the insides of her thighs and pressing her legs furter open. The skillful fingers probed her folds and spread her open, not that she wasnít ready anyway. And stopped again. She tried to look up but of course, she couldnít see anything for the blindfold was still on.

Something pressed against her opening. It was neither cold nor hot but something blunt and pliable. The warm hands grabbed her hips and Della couldnít help but moan out loud as Ghis pressed in against her, entering Della all the way to the bottom. The blindfold was removed and what Della saw made her tighten against whatever was inside her.

Ghis was kneeling between her hips, the blue eyes sparkling and bathing Della in a warm glow of passion. A small, sexy smile played on the ruby red lips. A pink tongue appeared and licked them slowly as Ghis moved her hips back, pulling almost completely out. Dellaís eyes wandered down between her legs and next to her honey-gold curls she saw something long, black and elongated. It pushed back into her, painfully slowly. She tried to wiggle her hips to engorge more of the slick shaft but her pelvis was held in an iron grip.

When it was all back in, Ghis stilled and at a begging glance from Della, she smiled more widely, her eyes totally concentrated on the body writhing in vain between her hands. When she roteated her hips slightly, grinding the dildo in further, Dellaís head pressed down on the pillow as she groaned in uncontrolled pleasure. Ghis shifted her position slightly, coming to half rest on top of the detective, her breasts brushing against Dellaís abused nipples. The blue eyes swallowed Della whole.

Another torturingly slow grind of hips and Dellaís knuckes went white. She was intensely aroused by the fact that she was unbale to do anything but to surrender to the woman above and inside her. The weight of the dark woman between her legs, the firm grip on her buttocks that held her absolutely still while the pliant shaft slind inside and out and the warmth that penetrated her inside and out, it was soon becoming too much for her. The pressure in her was mounting, she could feel the familiar tightening in her lower abdomen and boy, was she ready.

Ghis bit down on Dellaís breast, marking her. She buried her head on the groaning detectiveís neck and felt the detectiveís legs wrap around her hips. Smiling, she let go of the hips that took a life of their own then and stopped her motion. A desperate moan of disappointment escaped the detective.

"Please...," she panted. "Oh please...."

Dellaís world was the sensation in her. She was beyond caring, beyond shame now, all she wanted was this woman to love her.

"Please... may I come," she whispered, closing her eyes.

She heard a satisfied, intense growl emanate from the clubowner and the delightfully raspy tongue found the sensitive hollow of her throat, licking there.

"Yes. Come," the voice thrummed and she more felt it than heard it. It vibrated inside her, a wave of heat shooting through her. Ghis ground her hips in a deliciously slow circular motion and Della was closer than close. The smooth shaft pressed her in all the right places at the motion and it took just another nudge to send her over the edge.

"Come for me..."

With the low words, Della became intensely aware of the slide of the black shaft inside and out, the exquisite pressure and friction it was creating and the feel of the woman on her, the hot breath on her neck and the low erotic moans that were white hot in their intensity.

"Ohgodohgodohgod...," Della breathed and the lights exploded on the insides of her eyelids. She was transported somewhere far, far away where she was floating in utter bliss, the waves of ultimate pleasure raking all over her body. She had been denied for so long and now, she felt it like never before. Arcing her back, she screamed out her release.

It was another eternity and a half of pure joy. She fervently wished she could just stay there, flying in the infinite sky of pleasure, held by the incedible woman that made her feel like this. But she was brought back on Earth, to the bed she was reclining on, soaked with sweat and other bodily fluids. Her convulsions diminished and she found herself in a warm embrace. It was the oddest place for a deja-vu but it was there. The last of restraints were undone and she was grabbed by strong hands and held in a glowing embrace. Oh, if only she could stay in this perfect cocoon of contentment forever.

"Mmmm," and a smile was all Della managed to produce.

"Me too," was the answer that floated from somewhere far away and the embrace was tightened.

When the fireworks in her brain toned down a bit, she opened her eyes. She was on her side, facing a massive candelabrum and two bronze arms were wrapped loosely around her middle. She turned around and met the sparkling blue eyes whose corners were wrinkled in a huge smile that Della had no choice but to echo in kind.

Epilogue, 8 months later


"Oh, pardon!"

The boy had ran straight into them, chasing after his ball and as children tend to, without paying attention to his surroundings. So, he had collided with Della who managed to stay upright due to her quick reflexes and a firm hand on her elbow that now steadied her. The boy was turning beet red when his mother rushed to the scene and started berating him with a flow of babbling French. The hand on Dellaís arm patted her shoulder reasuringly and the deep, thrumming voice Della loved so much sounded.

"Ce níest pas grave, madame." The hand ruffled the boyís hair. "Les garcons, ca ne changera jamais..."

The boyís blush deepened and his mother hummed in agreement. They trailed away and Della turned to the voiceís source. The blue eyes twinkled at the look in the blonde womanís eyes as she wrapped her arms aroung the muscular, lean body. Della brought the other woman close, basking in the wamth the body projected even through layers of clothing. She looked up and transferred her hands to Ghisí neck, nudging the taller woman to lean down.

"Do you have any idea..." A kiss. "... how hot you make me..." Another kiss. "... when you speak French?" A raised eyebrow and she settled her head on Ghisí chest.

She felt the deep chuckle against her cheek and smiled against the thick leather.

"Yes, I do," was the answer, spoken an octave lower than usual. Della was amazed at how that same voice could be gentle and loving at a time, full of passion and carnal lust at other and now and then, it spelled ice-cold rage and death. Not towards her, never, but against anyone who dared lay a finger on her. It was the most wonderful feeling in the world, to have someone for her, to protect her and also, to laugh and experience life with her as an equal spirit.

Della lifted her head and smiled a flashing smile at the woman she was holding. And when that someone is gorgeous beyond beautiful, well... you get no complaints from me.

"Is that a promise?"

A ringing burst of laughter and they disentangled and continued their afternoon walk that had been so abruptly halted.

It was a crisp spring afternoon in Paris, the trees not yet in leaf but the sun was already warm. They were pacing languidly in the Jardins du Luxembourg and Della was feeling pleasantly stuffed from the late lunch they had had just moments earlier. Now, there was nothing to do before their date with the French National Opera besides walking around and enjoying each otherís company.

The last months had been a whirlwind of change and action. The club was successful as ever as fetishism gained popularity among the mainstream ravers and the place was jam-packed every night. The huge New Yearís Eve ball had lured over three thousand people to a warehouse they had rented just for the purpose and everyone had had great fun. Time and again, Ghis had gotten a mysterious call and she had disappeared for a few days on ía jobí. Della had no doubt the person on the other end of the line had been Rear Admiral Devon. Ghis came back intact every time, the fire of battle raging inside her making her eyes look like two glowing embers of rage. A few new scars were the only souvenirs and in a few days, the fire inside her settled, as did life.

The winter had also been more than busy for the detective, cases flowed in and out and when she had transferred to Scotland Yard after her training period, in December, she had had some very difficult cases but had succeeded in most of them. All this action was of course very pleasant but in the early spring Della had felt exceptionally tired. Ghis had pronounced it to be stress-related and Della had agreed. So, a vacation was in order.

They had taken the TGV to Paris and left all beepers, cell phones and Filofaxes across the Channel and now they had three weeks of peace and quiet in the self-dubbed city of romance. They stayed in a flat Ghisí family had owned for over three centuries, a luxurious four-bedroom item with high French windows and a newly-installed jacuzzi, in the 9eme arrondissement, right around the corner from the Place de Opera. They had shopped, sat in cafes watching people and taken long, leisurely walks around the city. They had also talked, laughed, kissed and made love a lot.

They traversed to the centre of the park and retrieved two green park chairs. Ghis de-shouldered her backpack and sat into one chair, propping her feet on the stone parapet that encircled the central depression in the park. A few kids were floating model ships in the pond and peace was all around.

Della sat into the other chair and closed her eyes to better feel the rays of the warming sun on her face.

"This is nice," Della murmured.

Ghis smiled, her uncanny hearing catching the words that were pronounced in a puppydog-like content hum. She gazed at the woman sitting so close to her. The small wrinkle that formed to the ridge of the detectiveís nose every time she smiled was positively endearing.

"Yeah. Which reminds me..." Ghis straightened up and rummaged through her backpack, coming up with two flute glasses and a demi-bottle of Moet&Chandon. The cork popped audibly in the lucid air and she poured the pale yellow champagne into the glasses. She nudged the detective and handed over a glass. A blonde eyebrow rose.

"Whatís the occasion?"

"Now, címon. I can play the detective too. Itís your birthday."

Della grimaged in mock consternation. "Ouch. Caught me there."

"Donít worry. I wonít tell anyone how young you are." That brought out a chuckle from Della. Ghis leaned over and grabbed her free hand in her bigger one. She squeezed the slender fingers lightly and locked her gaze with the green one.

"Now, your present will have to wait until tonight..." A suggestive eyebrow at this made Della blush. "... but the least I can do is sing."

And she did. The voice was rich contralto with a rasping timbre and it sung Happy Birthday in French. The simple song vibrated inside Della, echoed across her soul and settled as a ball of warmth into her stomach. The kids at the pond lifted their heads and a flock of pigeons were startled by the powerful voice that carried across the park. The gray-white birds fluttered into air and took to the sky but they could not possibly soar higher than where Dellaís soul was at that eternal moment.

-- The End --

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