The Poetics and Politics of Kink, part 2 (conclusion) --- by Penumbra

Please see part 1 for disclaimers. Comments, email me at

"Three hundred and fifty-three."


"Yep," Whitey confirmed.

"Fuck," Della sighed, while Wells settled for a disbelieving shake of his head. Over three hundred false leads had been reported, the number increasing exponentially after they had released the photograph of Allison Abbey to be distributed to police-friendly patrons and employees of every hell-hole in the Greater London area. They had called the Met every time a tall, blonde woman had crossed their path -- which was often, it seemed.

Leaning back in her seat, Della pinched her lower lip between two fingers, her brow in deep furrows of concentration. In front of her was a list of all the victims, now that number two had finally been identified, and their respective pick-up places. Della recognised some of the clubs, others she did not. There has to be a connection...a plan.

"Let's take a topological look then, shall we?" Johnson said, pulling out a map. "Lord knows, we've tried every other point of view."

"Even the weird ones," Wells added quietly, smiling one of his grim smiles that still seemed very non-threatening. What he said was very much the sad truth: they had tried everything, barring numerological analyses of the men's birthdates, though even that had been considered.

"All right. Pearse Junior at Miss Misdemeanour," Johnson began, impaling the said club's location on the map with a push pin. "Mr Monaghan, our elusive number two, had his last gin with a lemon twist at Underground. Mancour was picked up at Strawberry Suns..." She drawled on, ending with the last location of the most recent victim. "There. Any pattern?"

"Does chaos theory ring a bell?" Yang joked and slurped at his coffee loudly. The case was getting to him as well; the pale half moons under his eyes had never been so prominent and so sickly yellow. A tired round of very unamused groans sounded around the table. At such a late hour, bad jokes were not appreciated.

"Well, there has to be a pattern."

"Why so?" Johnson asked Della, her tone inquisitive.

"Well, if we assume Abbey is our lady or at least has something to do with the case," Della said and leaned towards the map, playing with one of the pushpins that seemed to be clustered around the south end of Soho and the immediate environs, "she is nothing but methodical. Between her stints at Woodley that span the better part of two decades, she studied mathematics at the IC. Quite successfully, at that."

"Go on," Johnson said, nodding.

"As my profile states, she is precise. Look at these knots," Della said and patted the crime scene photos of the most recent victim's bonds. "Or the symmetry of diamond shapes of this body harness," she continued, flipping a picture of the late Mr. Mancour on top of the pile. "Or the neatness of every scene. I mean, there's blood and more blood, but that is just rage speaking, a momentary slippage. There are two separate elements -- it's as if there were two different people at work in the case of each victim: there's the practised, perfectionistic dominating partner, and then there is the person capable of murdering someone with such cruelty. Ms. Abbey, given her personal history, certainly fits the profile."

"So you're saying she plans everything ahead, very carefully, and then at some point something says snap! in her head?"

"To put it bluntly, yes," Della smiled to Yang and snatched his coffee cup from his hand, draining the contents. Her caffeine level was getting too low; her eyelids felt as if they weighed two tons apiece, and she needed to hold on to her train of thought. "She is searching, and she is finding exactly what she is not looking for. The wrong man."

"A pattern, then."

"Yeah," Della hummed and brushed the gory pictures off the map. "Nothing linear, I'm sure. Simplistic, yet effective."

"Searching, you're saying? Well, then it's certainly not linear." Wells leaned over the map, sudden light glinting in his eyes. "Look. There's Leicester Square tube station. Starting from that..." he trailed off, drawing an ever-increasing spiral over the map. It matched the pattern of the pins. "I'll be damned."

"As simple as that. She starts at the heart of London's club land, widening the circle, searching for...what?"

Though Johnson's question had been a rhetorical one, Della knew the answer. It was painfully clear, the intricate clockwork that was the killer's mind coming into focus. It had to be Abbey. Had to be. The signs were there, the case file from decades past acting as a guide through the fog obscuring the motive.

"Her father."

The day Allison Abbey's life was turned inside out had been a day of great victory for the Conservative party. The Iron Lady's forces had beaten Labour and all the way home from school, in the battered-up Austin, Allison had listened to her father's tirade about the new order that greatly displeased him -- even then, after the elections had been lost, he wore a Callaghan button on his lapel. After his wife had left him, when Allison had been nothing but a toddler, politics --with its colourful campaigns and rousing speeches -- had been the only passion of Anders Abbey's life. Politics, and football.

"...and I bet she's going to squeeze some more sweat from me' bloody worker's back, that Thatcher woman," Anders Abbey finished his monologue with a flourish as he parked the car. Allison just smiled a small smile and nodded her head tolerantly; she was very used to her father's occasional bout of hot-headedness when it came to the government.

The air was cooler outside the car and Allison shivered at the sudden coldness against her bare knees as the wind blew up her skirt. They got as far as the front door, her father already jingling his keys in his pocket, when he suddenly stopped and snapped his fingers. "Damn. I forgot to buy celery for the soup."

"I'll run to Hart's."

"All right, sweetie," Abbey said, kissing his daughter's fair head before handing her a note. "Get yourself something sweet with it, too," he added, which was the exact reason why Allison had volunteered for the task. A tube of Smarties, she decided as she dashed off.

When she returned, crunching on her multi-coloured sweets, the celery squeezed under her arm, the door was slightly ajar. She stepped in and gulped down most of the chocolate in her mouth before setting her backpack on the floor and proceeding down the hall towards the kitchen. She got no farther than the coat rack when a large, leather-covered palm covered her mouth.

"Shhh, little one," a low voice said and Allison was squeezed into a painful embrace. She tried to scream, so hard she felt herself exhale little bits of Smarties shells against the muffling palm, but the scream came out as a mumble, nothing more. Even squirming was impossible, so tight was the hold on her.


"I said, quiet," the voice said again, close to her ear, and the embrace tightened. It squeezed all the breath out of her slender frame, the rush of air loud to her ears, the pressure on her ribs bringing tears to her eyes. She was quiet, fighting for air around the live leather gag. "That's better," the voice said and lifted her up, carrying her towards the kitchen.

Daddy was there as well, bound to a chair at the centre of the room. There were a few dark spots on the pale beige carpet of the kitchen, the same colour as the thin streak of dark blood that ran from her daddy's nose, which was swollen and strange-looking.

"Ally," Anders Abbey whispered. "Please don't hurt her. Please."

"Don't worry," the voice said as Allison was tied to another chair, a few feet away from her father. When he finally moved away from behind her, Allison could see the man that had grabbed her. Clad darkly, his face oddly distorted and flat under the stocking he had pulled over his head, he was a mountain of a man. "Don't worry," he repeated to Abbey before clobbering him behind an ear with a candlestick.

After the stranger's footsteps had faded from the hall and the stairs had stopped creaking under his weight, all Allison could hear was her daddy's pained breathing and the rush of blood in her own ears. Her head felt swollen and light at the same time, her breath coming in short gasps as she tried to say something, managing only small, quiet yelps. It took a small eternity and a conscious effort for her to take a deep breath.

"Daddy?" she hiccuped. "Daddy?"

Anders Abbey was very still, his head between his shoulders as his torso swayed forward, kept up only by the bindings on his hands behind the back of the chair. Allison could see blood slowly trickle from behind his ear and drip onto the floor, but she couldn't hear the sound of the wet, rich liquid against the worn carpet. Blood pounded in her head and she felt cold.


He didn't wake up, not even when the intruder re-entered. A bottle of scotch was sloshing in the big man's hand, the golden liquid catching the last rays of the late afternoon sun. It was a spot of brilliance against his otherwise muted form. He took a long swing from the bottle, right through the stocking, before throwing some on Anders Abbey.

"Wake up," he said and Allison's father groaned as the bliss of oblivion was shattered. "Where's your fucking money, goat-bugger?"

"Don't...have any."

"Don't give me that shit!" the man roared. Allison could see the dark stain the whiskey had made on the stocking spread as he shouted. "I want something."

"Don't have anything," Anders Abbey said, lifting his head in defiance. It would be the last mistake of his life.

"Her father died of multiple small stab wounds. The fruit knife that the burglar used was stuck between two ribs. According to the ME's estimate, it took him the better part of an hour to bleed to death."

"And his daughter was there all the time?"

"Yeah, watched him die, slowly slipping away," Della finished the sad story in the old file. "That's why she kept on drawing eyes, dark blue/green ones, like her father's. The next door neighbours were away so Allison spent almost two days with her dead father. He died with his eyes open."

"That's...just awful," Wells said, obviously frustrated by his inability to find a more suitable word for the tragedy. Della nodded solemnly and put the manila folder down. Wells made a vague gesture with his hands. "No wonder she's unstable. Hell, I would have gone bonkers m'self."

"Why now? Why not before, when she was out?" asked Johnson, regarding Della with her cool, dark brown eyes. She was chewing on her fingernails -- for her, a sure sign of distress.

"The police psychiatrist who examined her right after the case said she was very rational, very detailed. Meaning, very controlled," Della said, switching fully into her psychology mode. "Later on in her life, she was unstable to the extreme so she's been in and out of various institutions for the better part of her life. The longest period of normal life for her was the time she studied in the Imperial College but after that, her mental condition apparently deteriorated.

"There's no middle ground to her emotions, just black and white; she has never experienced the gradients of controlled aggression that allow the rest of us to survive. She can't experience them -- sure, she must intellectually understand them, but she has no way to personally feel that middle ground because she is afraid to try it out. It would be the same as losing control for her. She experienced the volatility of emotions, all the shades of grey, when she was bound to that chair, next to her father, unable to help him or herself."

"So she's been gathering this aggression and fear all through her life and now..."

"Her cup runneth over," Della finished Wells's sentence. "She is torn with grief, perhaps unconsciously looking for the love she lost with her father. She finds the men, men that look like Anders Abbey, and loves them the only way she knows how -- precisely, perfectly, in the most flesh-bound and extreme form of carnal love. Trying to make things right and be able to feel again."

"Sado-masochism, right?" Whitey said, lifting an approving eyebrow. "Yeah. I can see that. Very intimate, very tangible. Requires great trust."

"Right," Della smiled.

"And then something goes wrong?"

"Right again. Perhaps she sees the same look in the men's eyes she saw in her father's and decides to spare them from any more pain. Or perhaps, she just finds the eyes irritable," Della shrugged. "Maybe she can't stand the sight of these false close copies of her father," she finished, tapping the case files with her hand.

"Man," Whitey said and eyed her half-eaten donut with distaste. She had just lost her appetite. The blue phone next to her rang. "I think we have our number three-fifty-four," she signed and picked up the receiver, moving around the desk for some privacy.

"According to the pattern, she should strike someplace near here," Wells said, twirling a finger around the Eastern quarter of Soho, finally settling it in the corner of Shaftesbury Avenue and Charing Cross Road. "Assuming she isn't spooked by all the attention the murders have been getting."

"I don't think she's even aware of the publicity," Della said, smiling sadly. "Psychoses resulting from severe childhood trauma are often very dominating. Single-mindedness about her task wouldn't surprise me."

Whitey peeked over Della's shoulder and lifted an eyebrow at Wells. "That's a good guess, Det. Wells. I just got off the phone with the bouncer at the Lizard Lounge -- seems we have a priority case: The bouncer's sure the lady that left the premises just three minutes ago is Ms. Abbey and she had a gentleman in tow. Got the fellow's name as well from a credit card slip."

"All right, perk up everyone," Johnson said, clapping her hands together. "Whitey, you wrangle our mystery man's address from the computer, while Wells and I head for the club. Yang and Covington, you're the trail. Take a few men with you for muscle."

"Roger that," Yang said, rubbing his hands together. The squad room, just minutes before sombre as a tomb, was bustling with frantic life as people placed phone calls and gathered their coats. The tragedy that was Allison Abbey's 's life was pushed to the background. The priority now was to catch her.

Next to the chemical bliss of the crystal meth, pride is all you have and so you cling to it. Or, perhaps, hone it; you correct yourself and step back to admire the evenly spaced knots and the pure, white coils of rope around his limbs. There is flawed shape, and then there is pure symmetry, you quote your topology lecturer in your mind, brushing your hand along the soft surface the rope makes.

He mumbles something through the gag and shakes his head, his sweat raining on you. You suppress the reflexive flinch -- after all, he is supposed to be soaked after the attention you have given him. Equally precise, equally measured and practised to the point of perfection. He is an instrument and you play him, with the flair of a natural musician. You decide to scrape the sweat off him with the blade.

He screams through the gag but you pay no attention. His skin peels back, small pearls of blood welling to the surface, little dots of crimson, gathering into bigger pools before trailing down the sweat-slicked skin and into the white rope. He screams again, the sound a muffled gurgle, but you can see he's enjoying it.

He screams again and between screams, he says something but you don't understand it.

"Shut up, dog," you say, your voice sounding oddly toneless to your ears. Maybe that last pinch of dust before you began was too much. You slap him across the face to quiet his whining. His head snaps to the side and back, and a new look enters his eyes. Fear.

The eyes. Fear. Fear. The eyes.

Now you scream, but the sound is a distant one. Dull. The pain is back but you are helpless no more. Never again.

The knife makes a soft, exhaling sound as it penetrates the flesh. His sound of pain, as muffled as the ones before, is drowned by another wailing sound.

A fire alarm? No, a siren. Fuck. The spell is broken.

The colour is wrong again, anyway. You sigh and take your leave.

"Silence that fucking siren!" Della's voice was rough and hoarse and the driver understood that the short, irritated detective would take no shit. The wailing stopped as if cut off with a knife and the silence inside the van was almost deafening. "Thank you," Della said with a voice that she, despite her exhaustion, managed to make sound both ironic and condescending at the same time. "Idiot," she added under her breath and sat back down.

"Ease up, lovely," Yang whispered into her ear, leaning close so that the Met men around them wouldn't hear him. "He's just green."

"Yeah, and most probably cost us the arrest," Della replied and snapped her teeth in irritation. The policeman on the bench opposite her jumped slightly at the cold sound. "I might've just as well called ahead to warn her."

Despite, or perhaps because of, their earlier faux pas, the Met men and women performed impeccably when they arrived. Their approach to the first floor flat that was Albert McComb's home was quiet and quick. When they reached the door, Yang pressed his ear to it carefully. Even in the darkness of the hallway, Della saw the colour drain from his face.

"Someone's in there and is not happy," he whispered and Della nodded to the Met sergeant who, in turn, nodded to the man with the hand-held battering ram.

They found McComb alive, but just barely. The ambulance arrived in mere minutes and the medics detached him from his bedroom wall in efficient but less-than-gentle movements. He was rushed off with great speed but from the few, hurried words the medic had time to say, it seemed plausible that he might survive the damage the knife inside him had done. While the policemen combed through the immediate neighbourhood, the detectives snapped on gloves and did the first surface scan of the site. The techies would come during regular office hours to dust every square inch.

"Found some more of that lube here," Yang said and lifted a small jar while unsuccessfully suppressing a yawn.

"And I have some of the same knots," Della said, dangling a piece of blood-soaked rope between two fingers. The medics had cut through it in their haste to get the pinioned man down down. The scent of blood and other body fluids was very fresh on them and Della could almost sense the departed presence in the room, the faint whiff of madness she knew so well. "So close, eh?"

"So close," Yang agreed and put the small jar in an evidence bag. His yawns were getting wider and wider. "Frustrating," he added, looking around in the small room.

Della let the rope fall back to the floor. Suddenly, she was very weary of the case. It was getting on her nerves, this elusive presence and her feelings, torn between pity and disgust. She knew such cruelty could not be justified, should not be, but no-one should have to go through what Allison Abbey had experienced. Such utter loneliness and helplessness. She was tired of it all, the blood that need not be shed, and she was physically drained as well.

"Look, we're both about to keel over. Let's call in the night watch to sort all this stuff," she indicated around her with a gloved hand, "and put it in itty-bitty bags for us to look at tomorrow, OK? The Met is doing the pursuit and canvassing better than we could."

"Yeah," Yang agreed, snapping off a glove. His yawn looked capable of dislocating his jaw. "You wanna go grab a bite? At this lovely hour of, uh," he checked his watch, "Five past one in the morning, at least McDonald's is bound to be open."

"Ugh," Della said succinctly, making a face as she yanked off her gloves and pulled her overcoat tighter around her. She was feeling cold from lack of sleep and all she wanted was six feet of warm woman around her. "Thanks for the invite but I'll pass on the gourmet cuisine."

They got a lift from one returning Met squad and the driver was courteous enough to pass both through Chinatown and Soho. He dropped Della off at Regent Street and the detective hurried the few remaining blocks home. It had started to rain on the way and the small, stinging points of water prodded her onwards, the chill making her fingers and feet cold. Her teeth chattered but she locked her jaw, still tasting the dusty, coppery scent of blood at the back of her mouth. The gleaming black door of their Mayfair house had never looked so welcoming.

She tried to be quiet but as always, Ghis woke. In the darkness, two irises shone as if lit from inside, their pale blue almost violet in the non-existent light.

"Hi luv," Ghis said, her voice low and unobtrusive in the warm quiet of the bedroom. As always, Della wondered how she managed to be instantly awake when she woke up. Instantly alert.

"Hi to you too," Della said as she undressed, debating momentarily on whether to take a shower or not. She decided against it, because she was afraid she was going to fall asleep in the stall. "Sorry to wake you."

"Don't be," Ghis said in the darkness and the two gleaming eyes narrowed in a smile. "Rough night?"

"You could say that."

"C'mere, then."

As she crawled into the waiting arms, wrapping the long limbs and the covers around herself, Della sighed. The cold feeling of disappointment faded away in the warm embrace of her lover. Ghis' breathing deepened slowly as she re-entered the land of dreams and for a while, Della just lay there, listening to the strong, steady rhythm, feeling the muscled body under her expand and contract with every breath. In the darkness, she felt the brush of Ghis' hair on her back and the gentle flutter of eyelashes on her neck as her lover dreamed. Tracing the elongated hills and valleys of Ghis' forearm, Della smiled again as the rainstorm outside gathered strength, beating down relentlessly upon the city.

The morning dawned bright and sunny, the rainstorm having exhausted itself during the night. Della was on her second bran muffin when Ghis came back from her morning jog, her loose outfit moist with cold dew.

"No wonder you were beat last night," the dark woman said, and set the morning paper in front of Della, snatching her apple juice in the process.

"Hey, that was my juice," Della protested and made a futile grab at the glass. Ghis just smiled one of her brilliant, flashy smiles at her and moved around the table. After lifting an admonishing eyebrow at her lover, Della shifted her gaze on the paper. "Yeah, that was last night," she sighed and flopped the paper over so that she couldn't see the headlines about Mr. McComb and his encounter with Jane the Ripper any more. "The good news is that he'll probably survive."

Ghis took the paper and re-filled the juice glass. "Mmm-hmm," she hummed in agreement and flipped to the article. Scanning it quickly, the club's name made her dark eyebrows knit. "Lizard Lounge...that's just a few blocks from The Rapture." The pale blue eyes met Della's. "Am I to expect a police escort?"

"You've already got one," Della said, smiling. "But in all probability, yeah."

"I better dig up my matching uniform then," Ghis answered, mischief evident in her gaze. Across the table, Della rolled her eyes.

When Della reached the station, her hunch proved to be true: The Rapture was one of the clubs to be staked out next, starting that evening. Taking a short detour via the coffee pot, she headed straight into DCI Pettersson's office, pausing at the open door.

"Knock knock."

Petterson lifted his head from the papers on front of him, blowing away a tuft of blonde hair that kept falling into his eyes. "Morning, Covington," he smiled.

"How was Sheffield, sir?"

"Rainy," he grimaced. The DCI had returned just that morning from a hostage case in the coal belt of the nation. "Was there something you wanted?"

"Yeah," Della said and stepped in. "I'm on stakeout duty tonight and I was wondering..."

The DCI cut her sentence with a wave of his hand. "Pick your club yourself," he said and winked. "Though I have a vague guess which one it will be."

"Right, sir," the detective said and felt a small blush come on her cheeks. Better call Ghis and tell her I'll be attending tonight.

It's amazing, Ghislaine mused, how much power there is in a dour glare.

Next to her tall form, a woman was hastily stabbing her cigarette into the ashtray, so hard that sparks were flying. Just moments before, she had been sucking on it happily, until she had made the mistake of blowing smoke in the wrong direction: Ghislaine's.

Not that I have an aversion to physical confrontations, Ghis amended and relaxed her left hand, which had been balled into a fist, ready to make the cigarette a permanent fixture of the irksome woman's face. But she hadn't got the chance to use her hands; her murderous glare had penetrated the woman's gin-addled brain efficiently enough and she had seen the wisdom of not smoking in the club owner's presence. In the London underworld, the capriciousness of Ghis' temper was almost as legendary as her beauty -- getting the sadistic, vitriolic owner of The Rapture angry was not recommended, if one wished to keep visiting said establishment.

Having got rid of the annoyance, Ghis turned back towards the dance floor, draining the last drops of her Ben Nevis. The variegated mass of humanity, reeking of sweat and desperation, writhed in an ecstatic, trance-like state to the beat of the industrial dance music that blared from the speakers so hard that Ghis felt the bar shiver.

With her trained eyes, the four plain-clothes detectives were almost ridiculously easy to spot. Having dressed for the assignment, they looked passably like regulars, except for the way they ogled everything and everybody -- as if not quite sure if they were inhabiting an enticing dream or a disturbing nightmare. Smiling into her now empty glass, Ghis idly wondered what the detectives would write down in their reports about the club, or if the memories of what they saw here would carry over to their fantasies.

"Busy night," a familiar voice said (or rather, shouted) behind her. Ghis turned and set her glass down, winking to Salome for a refill before smiling to her lover.

"How're you doing?" Ghis asked Della, her low, powerful voice carrying over the steady, hypnotising beat of the music.

"I feel strange," Della said, leaning closer so that she didn't have to shout. "I've never been here wearing something this casual," she clarified, patting her leather-covered thigh. Besides the leather trousers, she had on a skimpy, laced-up leather vest and not much more. With a slightly prudish eye, Della evaluated the long, flaring rubber skirt hung low on Ghis' hips, and the matching gauntlets and rubber-spiked collar, all in black. "You know, you wore that on purpose."

"Wore what?" Ghis asked, almost managing a tone of virginal innocence.

"That," Della said, gesturing vaguely towards Ghis' bare midsection. "Or rather, didn't wear. You almost gave Wells a heart attack."

"Me?" Ghis asked, lifting both eyebrows in an exaggerated gesture of indignation and pressing her palm between her equally bare breasts. The skirt didn't come with a shirt, a detail of which Detective Wells had become aware half a second after stepping into Ghis' office earlier in the evening, causing him to momentarily forget how to walk. "It's comfortable, and if something goes wrong, I can run in it," Ghis said, indicating the knee-high combat boots that went with the outfit.

"Right," Della said sceptically. She should have been angry but, truth be told, she just couldn't manage it. Ghis' taste for outrageous jests was sometimes downright exasperating but at the same time very...entertaining. The expressions on the faces of Della's colleagues had been priceless, and her lover did have a body that could carry out such an outfit. Yes indeed, Della mused and, forgetting momentarily that she was on duty, leaned closer to breathe in Ghis' scent. Talcum powder, silicone, something musky.

"Incoming," Ghis whispered to Della, who straightened with a jerk. Indeed, Detective Yang was ambling towards them, trying very hard to look casual in such an unusual setting.

"Anything?" Della asked the detective.

"Nothing," Yang shouted over the noise. He was trying very hard not to stare at the half-naked woman who lounged at the bar nursing a fresh drink and scanning the crowd with her eyes. "Lots of interesting faces here."

"Yeah," Della said and handed Yang a bottle of water. The man accepted it gratefully; the fake smoke and heat in the club was making everyone perspire profusely. "I'll make a pass around the dance floor, you go take a look at the foyer," Della said and grabbed a bottle for herself.

This was easier said than done, Della thought to herself as she elbowed her way through the thick knots of people milling about. Some of the people recognised her and she replied to the greetings and nods fleetingly, her eyes darting from face to face. The most recent photo of Allison Abbey they had, from Woodley, was imprinted onto her mind and now it was a template against which she evaluated every shadowed, cosmetic-enhanced countenance in the club. The ambient lights were low, casting shades of blue and deep shadows everywhere, making her task even more difficult.

The atmosphere was, in places, almost claustrophobic. The smell of human flesh, clean sweat and synthetic materials was strong and heavy in the air as the clustering clubgoers pressed around her, brushing past and bumping into her. Della felt as though she were swimming upstream, in this strange, aggregate river of living beings.

Pausing near a pillar, Della stepped up onto its ledge and leaned against it, uncapping the water bottle. Downing half of it in one gigantic gulp, she rotated her stiff shoulder. It made a satisfying crack which she more felt than heard, and she sighed as the muscle relaxed. She was just an inch too short to be able to see over the crowd, so she stood on tiptoes, squinting her eyes against the blinding strobe that winked frenetically on the opposite side. From left to right and back again, her gaze glided over the dancers. Her watch showed the time to be well past two in the morning already; if the killer didn't have the courtesy to appear soon, this would be a night spent waiting in vain.

The DJ made a seamless transition from the industrial music to a more mellow house track and Della drank the rest of her water, her eyes still flickering nervously over the dance floor. Across the room, she saw Ghis come around another pillar and into the strobe light, her lean, tall frame easily recognisable as the crowd parted slightly before her. Seeking out Della, the club owner looked serious, her angular features tight and drawn and the harsh light creating sharp shadows along her cheekbones. Della waved and Ghis nodded, then pointed discreetly to the corner of her eye, indicating that she had seen something.

Retracing her steps as quickly as possible, her heart pounding, Della returned to the bar. At the far end, Yang was deep in discussion with Ghis, who had to stoop slightly to hear the detective.

"What's up?" Della asked, a bit breathlessly.

"She's here," Ghis informed her curtly and gestured towards the raised dais next to the dance floor. "She came through here and went that way. She had a tall, rather gaunt man with her."

"You're positive it was her?"

"I read the papers, Detective Yang," Ghis said, her smile white and predatory in the semi-darkness. "She matches the illustration."

"All right. Yang, you circle around the other side and pick up Wells on your way. I'll go through there," Della said, pointing at the dais and its collection of oddball rubber-covered furniture. "Let's bag her."

The undercover cop behind the bar handed Della her Colt Python; the detective shoved it into the waistband of her trousers. The metal was cool against the small of her back and she had to suppress a shiver.

At the moment, there was only one couple lounging on the dais -- two men making out on the black rubber sofa. Della circled them warily but the lovers were too preoccupied to notice her. Pausing to crouch next to a high-backed chair, Della swept her gaze over the people milling near to the dais. Their bodies swayed and undulated to the music, allowing only fleeting glimpses of the people behind them.

Something caught Della's watchful eye.


A flash of blonde hair.

Making sure her piece was accessible, Della crept around the chair and dared a closer look. Yes, it was blonde hair, and the height was about right, but the figure's back was towards Della, and she could see only the dark, glistening face of her dance partner. Della also saw Wells on the other side of the couple, about ten feet from them. A covert hand signal, a nod in reply, and Della shouldered her way into the colourful expanse of dancers.

In the crowd, she couldn't see much farther than her own nose. She tried to approximate the direction but the tight press of bodies necessitated a series of anfractuous detours; for a moment she was sure she'd lost the blonde head she was seeking. Again standing on her tiptoes, she sought her target frantically, managing to locate Yang before her eyes caught the mass of blonde hair again. And then suddenly she was standing right next to her.

"Excuse me," Della said, tapping the woman's shoulder while her right hand went to her gun. The woman let go of the man she had been writhing against and turned to face her. Della was momentarily struck by a disturbing sense of deja-vu as she compared the face before her to her mental image of Allison Abbey's photo, producing a match. "I'm Detective Coving--"

Della got no further. The woman snarled and, with power her slender frame looked incapable of possessing, drove her elbow into Della's stomach, connecting with her midsection with explosive force. All the air whooshed out of her lungs in one violent exhalation and she doubled in pain, her half-drawn gun clattering to the floor. Tears welled in her eyes and she tried to inhale, her brain faintly registering a short, pained cry that sounded like Yang somewhere nearby.

"Detective Covington?! Are you OK?"

With great effort, Della straightened, just in time to see the last flash of blonde hair before it disappeared into the crowd. Detective Yang was lying prone on the floor, the dancers studiously avoiding trampling him, while Wells was at her side, apparently torn between following their suspect and seeing to his comrades.

"Yeah. Go on," Della wheezed, her breath coming in erratic hiccups. "Go. After. Her."

Wells hesitated for an instant, then let go of her, diving into the wall of flesh around them. Della helped the dazed Detective Yang to his feet and as she stood, she saw Ghislaine's unmistakable form run along the dais and jump off the end, disappearing towards the bar. Apparently she had witnessed to the whole encounter. Della cursed under her breath and dragged Yang to the dais, then, not pausing to check the minor wound on his brow, she dashed to the back of the club where she could still see Wells's back. She caught up with him at the club's rear exit and released the safety on her trusty Python.

"She got away?" Della hissed in disbelief.

"Missed her by inches," Wells grunted, and cautiously pushed the door open. Cold, clammy night air streamed in past them, making both of them shiver. Della's palms were sweaty against the vulcanised rubber grip of her gun and she willed down the last of the nausea from the hit she'd taken.

"After you," she said and the other detective nodded, brushing past Della and through the door, Della following closely on his heels.

The alley behind the club was a canyon between walls of tall buildings, dark and dank, reeking of unwashed rubbish bins and urine. Silhouetted against the sickly white glare of the street lamps where the alley met the street, a slender figure was running away from them, with a good thirty feet of head start.

"Freeze! Police!" Della barked and lifted her gun while she and Wells broke into a run. The fugitive didn't pause, but did steal a glance over her shoulder, thus missing the tall, lanky figure that suddenly appeared from the direction of the street. Della's heart jumped at the sight of the familiar silhouette.

Ghis' powerful voice, rough with fury, rang down the alley, shattering the quiet night. The fugitive's head snapped around but it was too late -- Ghis was already at her, gearing up for a kick.

"You psycho bitch!"

A perfectly executed roundhouse kick slammed into the suspect's blonde head with a sickening crunch, as Ghis' skirt billowed around them like a malicious, dark wraith.

"You hurt her." Her voice had dropped to a bone-chilling growl and her knuckles landed squarely in the woman's face, breaking her nose and sending blood spraying.

"You don't do that and get away with it, pouffiasse!"

A two-fisted punch connected solidly with the fugitive's solar plexus, producing a sharper crack, and her body slumped to the ground as though boneless. Ghis stood stock-still, gazing down at the crumpled form, her breath forming clouds in the near-freezing air.

Della reached her and laid a cautious hand on Ghis' shoulder, feeling the tension in the powerful muscles that were trembling from both exhaustion and emotion.

"Hey," Della said softly. "Ghis."

"Fucker," Ghis hissed virulently, her eyes two chips of ice gleaming in the low light. She turned with a sudden jerk, startling Della. "You okay?"

The detective nodded, brushing her palm over Ghis' twitching arm. Her skin was smooth and cold, faint wisps of vapour lingering about it as the sweat and heat coalesced into steam in the cold air. The energy beneath the surface was palpable, a wild beast raging inside, seeking an outlet.

"Got the wind knocked out of me, that's all." Della grabbed Ghis' forearm gently, feeling the play of muscles under her fingertips. "Ghislaine, relax now."

Closing her eyes, Ghis inhaled slowly, willing the red rage down. It crawled back into its den reluctantly. It was unpredictable and violent, its existence ephemeral in nature, but she was used to controlling it, grasping its evanescent shape and pushing it away, back to its little cage inside her. When she opened her eyes again, Della was relieved to see the murderous glint was there no longer. In its place was only concern.

Detective Wells knelt on the ground and turned the prone form of the fugitive over, checking her pulse before snapping a pair of handcuffs on her wrists. It was indeed Allison Abbey, and while she had a nasty gash on her temple where it had met the steel cap of Ghis' boot, and her nose was definitely askew, she was breathing steadily and strongly.

"She's alive but out cold," Wells said quietly and rose, dusting off his trousers. "Ms. du Plessis, that was both reckless and stupid," he said to Ghis.

"I know, detective," Ghis replied, her voice low and subdued. "I'm not recalcitrant, believe me. But when I saw her attack Della, I just...well, you understand."

"Remind me never to cross you, Ms. Du Plessis," Wells said and dug out his mobile phone. "Impressive footwork, by the way," he said, indicating the prostrate form of Allison Abbey, before punching in the dispatch number and requesting a pick-up and an ambulance.

"Thanks," Ghis muttered and exhaled loudly.

"You stay here, I'll go check on Yang," Della said to Wells. "C'mon, let's get you inside before you freeze to death," she then told Ghis and wrapped a trembling arm around her lover's waist. The adrenaline rush of the pursuit was slowly draining away, leaving Della light-headed and painfully conscious of the white-hot ache in her diaphragm.

"Yeah," Ghis whispered and laid her arm across Della's shoulders. "I feel like a cup of hot tea right now."

Della chuckled. "Darjeeling or Assam?"

"You know what I like at this time of night," Ghis said and squeezed the slender shoulder she was holding, a sudden wave of affection for the woman she was holding suddenly overwhelming her. Her voice became soft and gentle. "Only Assam."

"Assam it is, then."

You are so cold, inside and out. The bench is hard under your seat and the bobby, probably the only source of heat in the van, is keeping his distance. You are bleeding, thin rivulets of cloying, dark blood inching along your cheek, but you don't notice.


The steel bracelets that adorn your wrists jingle softly, whispering to you -- telling you that you will not find him. Not for a long time. Fucking fascists, taking away the last of your few reasons to live. And you were doing so well, the pattern was honed to perfection, your memories of him becoming more and more vivid as you sifted through the impostors.

You feel like crying and killing and raging and shouting to the bobby in blue to let you go, but you won't. They just don't understand.

They can't understand.

Della couldn't help but sigh she exhaled as she closed the file and switched off her monitor, thus putting an end to the Allison Abbey case. Outside, the first traces of the rising sun were colouring the edge of the otherwise dark sky a pale pink, foretelling another cold day. The ground was almost obscured under the thin blanket of frost the night's coolness and moisture had bestowed upon it.

Across the narrow lane between their desks, Yang yawned so wide his jaw cracked loudly. Della winced and kicked his chair to get his attention.

"Hey," Della said softly. "Go get some sleep."

"Yeah. My head's still killing me," the detective said, gingerly touching the bandage that covered the three stitches he had received on his brow. Allison Abbey had smacked him with her glass there in her determination to get away. "See you on Monday," Yang said and rose with a grimace. He grabbed his coat and shuffled quietly out.

Della sat still for a while, her eyes turned towards her blank monitor but not seeing it. She was thinking of Allison Abbey, of the quiet sorrow she had seen in her eyes in the interrogation room, and the barrenness of her flat in a Chelsea high-rise that she had rented under her mother's maiden name. And of the eye in the jar, turned opaque by the formaldehyde solution in which it had languidly floated.

The saddest part was that while they had captured their murderess, her creator was still on the loose, still as faceless and nameless as he had been to little Allison on that fateful day in 1979. The innocence of youth had been taken from her with one swift, impulsive action and as far as Della was concerned, that stupid, contemptible burglar was as responsible for this latest string of deaths as their prisoner, if only by proxy. Allison Abbey was one messed up human being, her soul bleak and dry, and for that crime she would spend the rest of her life in a yet another mental institution with no hope of release.

"Excellent work, Covington," DCI Pettersson said, startling Della. The detective rotated her chair to face her boss and smiled tiredly.

"Thank you, sir. You'll have my full report on Monday afternoon."

"All right," Pettersson said and perched on the edge of her desk. "You look like hell."

"Gee, thanks," Della said and made a sour face. "I feel like it, too."

"Go on, get out of here," Pettersson said and inclined his head towards the brightening dawn visible through the squad room's dusty blinds. "It's a beautiful Saturday morning. Isn't there someone you're supposed to be cuddling?"

"I do not cuddle," Della replied indignantly, lifting an outraged eyebrow at her smirking boss. "Sir."


With that last droll remark, the DCI retreated back to his office. Della, on the other hand, felt too tired to move a muscle. After a moment's contemplation at to how she could sleep in her work chair, she nixed the idea. Cuddling sounds good, she encouraged herself and, with a groan, hauled her ass out of the chair and retrieved her overcoat.

It was cold outside and Della vainly fished for gloves that were not in her pockets. Cursing mildly, she shoved her hands into the spacious pockets and hurried to the nearest tube station.

When she finally reached the gleaming black front door of their townhouse, Della was shivering uncontrollably from the cold and from pure exhaustion. With numb fingers, she fumbled for the correct key and, finally managing to take control of the elusive sliver of metal, got inside. The shivers wouldn't stop, not even when she exchanged her coat for one of Ghis' old, oversized shirts that she found on the foyer chair.

"Morning," said the familiar voice as Ghis emerged from the kitchen, carrying a mug of something steaming and fragrant.

"It's still technically evening for me," Della corrected her lover through chattering teeth and accepted the tea, sipping it carefully. "Thanks."

"You're cold."

It was a statement rather than a question, and Della delved into the offered embrace gladly. Ghis' arms around her were warm and solid and slowly Della's chills died away. Nuzzling into the tickling wool of Ghis' shirt, she closed her eyes and let the day's horrors fade away, feeling only the warmth of the newborn sun streaming in through the hall windows, upon her face, and hearing only the slow, steady breathing of the woman in her arms.

"What are you doing up, anyway?" Della asked when they finally parted.

Ghis shrugged. "Too much adrenaline. Couldn't sleep with the sun coming up and thought of going out for a jog." A dark eyebrow rose. "I don't suppose you'd want to join me."

That earned her a true Covington glare of utter disbelief.

"Didn't think so," Ghis said and winked. "Finish up your tea and get some sleep, then."

"Yes, mom," Della grunted, giving her adorably contrite lover a playful punch to the stomach before heading upstairs. She was fast asleep in ten minutes, oblivious to Ghis' pacing quietly around the flat and pausing at her bedside before heading outside where the frigid morning was transforming into a beautiful day.

"Stop. Stay right there."

Ghis froze in her tracks and hissed out her breath. This submission stuff is going to be the death of me, she thought, and pressed her fingernails into her palms. The pain helped her concentrate, if only momentarily.

"Close your eyes," Della added, licking her lips. Her lover's glowing blue orbs disappeared behind heavy lids, providing Della a welcome relief from the heated scrutiny they had put her under. Sometimes the sheer intensity of Ghis' gaze was enough to make her knees buckle and that wouldn't do. Not now.

Just suck it up, Covington, and play your game, she reminded herself and breathed in, trying to calm her raging libido. Truth be told, all she wanted to do was to go to her lover, who stood in the middle of the room smirking slightly, that very sexy quirk of a dark eyebrow somehow managing to make her look both amused and sarcastic. Della could see Ghis' nostrils flare as she tried to deduce her surroundings with her four remaining senses, a twitching muscle in her cheek speaking volumes as to her impatience.

Pushing herself up from the bed, Della walked slowly around her lover, her heels clicking sharply on the parquet floor. The heels provided her with some much-needed extra height, bringing her almost even with Ghis. When she laid her hand on Ghis' shoulder, the woman jumped slightly.

"Remove your tie and undo the two topmost buttons of your shirt," she instructed quietly. The rustle of the crisp cotton of Ghis' shirt was almost imprudently loud in the tense atmosphere, punctuated only by the sounds of their breathing and the distant sound of Anna Bolena coming from downstairs. Ghis' necktie slid to the floor and, when she had unbuttoned her shirt, her hands went back to her sides. Della noted that she was fingering the seam of her trousers nervously, and bit her lip in an effort to curb her smile. Ooh, hon, I think you're rather excited about this switching thing.

"This excites you, doesn't it?" Della whispered out loud, her lips so close to Ghis' neck that she could feel the small, delicate hairs there lift at her words. She wound Ghis' braid around her hand and pulled it steadily. Ghis resisted at first but relented upon receiving an impatient tug. "Answer me," Della said and brushed her lips along a jutting tendon in her lover's neck.

"I admit nothing," Ghis said through clenched teeth.

Della chuckled -- a warm sound, yet it made Ghis shiver. "I'll make you admit that and a whole lot more," Della promised, tightening her hold on Ghis' braid. She kissed the juncture of Ghis' neck, inhaling the sweet scent of arousal on her lover, pulling the shirt off of one shoulder. The skin shone bronze in the candlelight, resplendent in its smoothness, tense muscles cording under that thin surface.

She felt hot, and she had trouble remembering to breathe. Being at eye level with her usually formidable lover, having the upper hand in a charged situation like this, was somewhat frightening for Della. And arousing; her lover had willingly acquiesced to this arrangement, and that quiet admission of a love so great she would do anything for her was making Della's heart full.

"I'm getting impatient," Della told her lover, and kissed her shoulder. "I wanted to draw this out, but I'm afraid I can't." Her lips trailed toward Ghis' neck, pausing to suck on the pliant flesh, marking it as hers. Ghis let out a small, keening sound of need that Della knew meant she was having great trouble controlling herself.

The pulse under her lips was frantic and Della smiled as she felt the jumping heartbeat. Grasping Ghis' shoulder roughly, she forced the dark head to one side, giving herself better access to the long, graceful neck. Ghis pressed against her as she latched onto the sweet, taut skin, her breathing growing heavy.

"Tonight, you exist for my pleasure only," Della hissed. "You are otherwise irrelevant."

Letting go of the braid, Della walked around her lover, her hand never leaving Ghis' neck. She came to a halt right in front of her dark lover, watching intently as Ghis' eyes moved beneath her eyelids while she stood attentively, ramrod-straight.

"You are here to please me."

Brushing softly across her neck, Della let her hand wander towards Ghis' cleavage, feeling the fine sheen of perspiration that covered the beautiful expanse of Ghis' heaving chest.

"Yes," Ghis replied tightly. Della couldn't decide which was more arousing: seeing Ghis in this lovely state of excitement, or her lover's apparent difficulty with maintaining her composure. She decided on the latter.

"Good. Open your eyes, and undress me."

Her eyes, deep violet in the candlelight, focused intently on Della, who met the gaze unwaveringly. Theirs was not a battle of wills but instead a game between two equal spirits who fought on such different terms that they could have been from two separate realities. Her eyebrows lifting in an unspoken question, Ghis extended a hesitant hand towards Della's shoulder strap.

"Yes," Della smiled, her hand still resting lightly between Ghis' breasts.

Ghis nudged the strap off Della's shoulder. The other followed suit and when Della let her hand drop, Ghis slowly pulled the top half of the cocktail dress down, revealing her lover's breasts, their skin soft and creamy in the low light. She exhaled quietly, her hand hovering over the enticing flesh, awaiting permission.

"No, not yet," Della whispered, smiling. "Go on."

Della was sure Ghis was biting her lower lip to blood, so serious was the look of concentration on her face. Her eyes, gone dark blue, now blazed hotly, their expression both desperate and impatient. Small shivers of delight traveled down Della's spine when Ghis kneeled in front of her, pulling the dress lower and lower, over her hips and down, the silky fabric slithering against her thighs with a soft hiss. Ghis' hot breath tickled her stomach, the sweet lips hovering a hair's breadth away from her skin, as she continued pulling the garment down. Mmm, no underwear, Ghis noted with delight. Still further down, the hot breath and the ghost of a touch.

"What the..!"

"Surprise," Della said, her voice light and full of laughter. The look on Ghis' face was priceless and Della had to struggle not to giggle.

"It's beautiful," Ghis whispered, and pressed her lips to the small beaded ring. "You are beautiful." Her hands moved around and slid up Della's thighs, their touch eager. Suddenly her prize vanished and she leaned forward, seeking the lost contact. Her progress was halted by a foot against her chest that shoved her violently backwards, so hard that she sprawled on her backside. Ghis could feel the heel of Della's shoe digging into her chest and she looked up, dragging her eyes past the stockings and the gleam of steel at the apex of Della's legs, to her face.

"Impatient, are we?" Della scolded, and ground her heel further into Ghis' chest. "Not good," she said and lifted her foot from her lover. Pacing around the prone form, Della hummed in thought, concentrating on the luxurious feeling of the warm air on her bare skin and the slight pull of her new triangle piercing. It wasn't uncomfortable, apart from the near-constant pressure it put on her most sensitive part, but she still felt as if she were about to burst from the desire that had been building all day long.

Still humming, she circled around Ghis and paced slowly to the bed, feeling Ghis' eyes on her back. She smiled as she realised she had developed a bit of a swagger, born of her delight in her newfound confidence and power.

She seated herself slowly, knees primly together, and let her eyes meet Ghislaine's.

"So, you want..."

Slowly, deliberately, Della parted her legs, settling each high-heeled foot carefully on the floor. In the soft light of the room, her skin shone a fair shade of gold, the elongated lines of her thighs bisected by the sharp, black edge of the stockings. That span of soft flesh, between the black band and the smooth, silken skin of her mound, she brushed lightly with her fingers.


Ghis, now kneeling again, tilted her head to the side.

"Do you need to even ask?" she whispered, her voice thick with desire. Leaning forward, she paced closer on all fours, her moves loose and limber, silent. A dark eyebrow curved in question and upon Della's smile, Ghis laid her fingers over the sensitive skin on the insides of Della's thighs, feeling the pulse pounding rapidly there. Her fingers slid over the surface and around Della's hips, gently cupping her buttocks.

Della's chest ached and she tried to calm her breathing, vainly. Lifting Ghis' chin with a finger, she sought out the blue depths with her eyes, and offered a reminder of who was in charge. "No hands," she hissed and guided Ghis' mouth to her mound.

Ohh, it felt wonderful. Purring deep in her throat, Della squeezed the dark head to herself, her eyes turned towards the heavens, as the white-hot jolt of pleasure shot through her. Ghis' tongue was on her centre, tracing the delicate folds, teasing her clit and gently prodding the newly punctured flesh.

"Careful, darling," Della hissed, entwining her fingers into the ink-black strands of hair that floated over her thighs and hips.

"Of course," came the muffled reply and Della could almost feel Ghis smile against her, the hardness of teeth fleetingly pressing against the jewel before it was nudged against her clit. Della almost jumped off the bed.

"Ohh, honey...just like that."

Her growl was low and her fingers dug sharply into Ghis' scalp, pulling at her hair in desperation. The feeling was indescribable, the still-tingling, engorged flesh around the piercing hypersensitive to every touch. Throwing her head back, Della groaned with her pleasure, the coil of her impending release tightening in her abdomen.

It didn't take long before the pressure became unbearable. All day long she had been expectant, fidgety, both anticipating and fearing this moment. She was incredibly aroused at the thought of playing the dominant, and unbelievably nervous at the notion of actually trying to keep herself in control while in the presence of her lover, a woman whose lives must have spanned millennia for all the wisdom and grace she had gathered, concentrated in just over six feet of inconceivably beautiful, arresting womanhood.

"Oh gods, Ghislaine..."

The white light was blinding, her centre tight and hot, her need overwhelming.


The name of her love was but a quiet whisper, a ghost of a song, before the fury of her release washed over her. She came forcefully, her juices drenching Ghis. The dark woman lovingly drank all that was bestowed upon her, riding the waves as she clung tightly to the thrashing form of her lover.

It's rather...ironic, I think, Della mused dazedly as she fought to catch her breath, how much power the submissive has. She had not given much thought to the complicated question of which partner ultimately dictated the rules in these games. I must've been too busy enjoying myself, she thought wryly, her mind still a bit fuzzy as the last aftershock shuddered through her. True enough, whatever the situation, in the past she had just done what came naturally to her, not pausing to wonder about the deeper ramifications of her actions -- for if it felt good, it couldn't be that bad, right?

This scene of hers, the game of power they were playing, was just something she felt she needed to experience first-hand. Della knew Ghis had been an apprentice in the art of pain in her younger years -- a slave, learning about power and the influence of the distribution of pain first-hand. That was what made her such an exceptional lover, her ability to understand and relate the feelings Della was experiencing to what she had experienced in her past. And now, this game was giving Della a whole new appreciation of the talent her lover commanded.

"Whoa, are hell on wheels," Della managed out loud. She was staring at the ceiling, the warm presence of her lover still between her thighs, Ghis' breath caressing her most intimate place.

"Glad you approve," was the amused reply, and Della felt Ghis' hands trail down her legs, all the way to her ankles, before heading back up. They reached her centre and brushed at the swollen folds.

"Nuh-uh," Della said, suddenly sitting up, taking possession of the wandering hands. "No hands, remember?" With one foot, she pushed Ghis away and stood up. "Being disobedient, hmm?" she asked the kneeling form.

"No, ma'am."

"I think you are," Della said and couldn't help the smug, delighted smile that bloomed on her lips. The smile was clearly audible in her next words. "You're such a glutton for punishment, you know."

"Yes, ma'am," Ghis replied, her sonorous voice equally full of laughter.

Still chuckling to herself, Della paced past Ghis, around the bed and to the nightstand. From the box, she pulled out a set of restraints that were bound together with a long rubber thong, and threw the package to Ghis. It smacked smartly against her hands.

"Undress and put those on."

The great expanse of bronze skin that was revealed fairly glowed under Della's gaze, tight muscles shifting inside their taut sheath, soft shadows gathering and fleeing along sinuous limbs as Ghis attached the restraints, first to her ankles and then to her wrists. The left one was the most difficult and Della could see that her hands were shaking. Stepping closer, she reached out and helped her lover with the last catch, brushing the thick rubber with her fingers, tracing the high-strung tendons inside Ghis' wrists.

"Not disobedient," Della corrected herself and, smiling knowingly, touched the fine sheen of perspiration that was dampening Ghis' hairline. "Just impatient."

As she leaned in for a light kiss, she could smell herself on Ghis and taste her own essence on the full lips that met hers. Mingling with that heady scent was the heavily industrial, acrid tang of the rubber, as well as a hint of the musky aroma that was her lover's own particular brand of passion. The mix was heady and she breathed it in deeply, sliding her arms around Ghis' waist before guiding her onto the bed.

"Kneel," Della whispered quietly and when Ghis complied, she took out a pair of panic snap locks. Jingling them in her hand, she smiled to Ghis. "Patience is what you must learn, then."

"You're enjoying this, aren't you?" Ghis murmured, a wistful smile gracing her lips as Della attached her wrists to their respective ankles. Her pose was a bit uncomfortable but not too much so; inching her legs apart, she could sit back on her haunches.

"Perhaps," Della acquiesced and reaching down, drew a finger along Ghis' slit. It came out wet. "And so are you," Della added, placing the glistening digit in her mouth and humming at the deep, musky taste of her essence.

Ghis' answer was a dangerous-sounding growl that was born somewhere deep in her chest, a dangerous voice indeed. Her bindings groaned in distress as she flexed her biceps, trying vainly to free her hands -- but of course, the restraints held. Della was sure her lover was going to sport chafe marks on her wrists come morning, but she also knew that wouldn't deter Ghis from trying to free herself. She was walking a thin line here, not knowing the exact limitations of Ghis' patience or tolerance, but courting danger was, after all, part of the fun.

Brushing her knuckles down the tense, veined arms before placing her palms over Ghis' breasts, Della sighed. The feel of the silky, glabrous skin was divine, the two nipples that hardened at her touch more so. The metal of Ghis' nipple piercings warmed quickly under her touch and she threaded her fingers through the small circles. Though Ghis was obviously trying very hard not to react to her actions, the tightening of her jaw muscles and the quiet grunt that she made were signals easily interpreted. Della smiled.

"Do you know how beautiful you are?" Della whispered close to her ear, pulling gently at the rings. "How desirable?" Another slight tug and she disengaged her left hand from the pebbled flesh, only to trail it down the length of Ghis' midriff and down to her sex. "How sublime?" she finished and captured an earlobe as her prize, biting down on it as she slid her fingers over Ghis' clit, pressing the small circle of steel there against hot flesh. The dark woman jerked upright, exhaling explosively.

"Please," Ghis said, grinding her teeth, her eyes flashing menacingly.

"Oh, come now," Della said, realising her unintended pun a millisecond after she said the words. "No, not meant that way," she smiled, correcting herself. "I meant, you're supposed to be learning patience."

With that, her finger made one last circle around the small, throbbing nub of nerves, before retreating abruptly. In one smooth move, Della had rolled off the bed and was pacing towards the door. Ghislaine took a moment to register the fact that her lover was no longer with her. But when she did, her voice was full of outrage and desperation.

"Hey! Where are you going?"

"I feel like a snack," Della said, winking. But just as she reached the door, she stopped and twirled around, tapping the bridge of her nose with a finger. "But before I go..."

The kiss that she gave was searing in its intensity, speaking of Della's heightened state, containing all the love and passion she possessed. It left Ghis reeling and as Della departed, she looked after her in a daze, licking her lips.

"I don't have enough patience, huh?" Ghis muttered to herself, casually testing her bindings. "I'll show her patience all right..."

While it took Della mere minutes to return, to Ghis it seemed far longer. Her need was strong, the desire pulsing demandingly between her legs, and she was aching for release; every small move, every twitch caused by her uncomfortable position, set her clit piercing swinging, increasing her agony.

Upon returning, Della climbed back on the bed and took her hands from behind her back. She was holding a gleaming bunch of plump green grapes. Ghis' heart sank; this was going to take a while. Della got comfortable, stretching her compact frame on the covers stomach down, her head resting between Ghis' thighs. Placing a light kiss on each long expanse of flesh, she tugged the first of the grapes off the bunch and dipped the fruit in the juice that was flowing copiously from between Ghis' legs.

"Want one?" Della asked, offering the fruit.

"Yeah," Ghis agreed shakily, figuring the more she ate of the depressingly numerous grapes, the sooner they would be done with them and the torment would end.

Della plucked another grape for herself and treated it the same way, the mix of sweetness and saltiness quite delicious on her tongue. She moaned in pleasure, her eyelids drooping nearly shut, and extracted yet another grape.

The eating progressed slowly, each grape drawing a cool, hard line along her sex, and Ghis was sure she was going to go mad. The touch was just long and lingering enough to stoke the fire in her, make her ready for more, until it disappeared, only to return in the same manner. The ebb and flow of her desire was unbearable and her clit was throbbing almost painfully now, from the prolonged stimulation it was forced to endure.

"Two more left," Della said, dangling the almost bare stem. "Hmm. Let's try something different, then," she continued and sat up, mirroring Ghis' position.

"If you don't kill me first," Ghis muttered, biting her lower lip in concentration. Della found the look most endearing.

"Kill you?" she asked, leaning in close and cupping the two last grapes on her palm. "Perhaps." With that, Della captured Ghis' mouth in a kiss, her tongue probing, while her hand found its way along Ghis' sex, pausing at the opening. The pale blue eyes, so close to hers, widened in surprise but before Ghis could utter a word, Della slid the grape into her.


The word but a whisper against her lover's throat, Della made her way down, pausing to nibble at the hollow of Ghis' throat and along one collarbone, before moving to cover a hard nipple with her mouth. She pulled at the jewel with her tongue, capturing the bead between her teeth. With the last remaining grape she retraced the path of the one before, gathering up the plentiful, sweet moisture, before pausing at the puckered skin of Ghis' anus.

"Oh no, you're not going to..."

"Two," was all Della said, smiling against the soft breast, and pushed the small fruit past the tight opening. The grape disappeared, leaving visible only about an inch of the stem Della had left intact

"De-la-ney," Ghis said, her voice a menacing purr, the tone somewhere between alarm and arousal. Della, however, paid no attention to the carefully pronounced syllables of her name, but instead got off the bed and walked around it to stand behind Ghis. The strong muscles in the broad back were alternatively bunching and relaxing, the play of light fluid and elusive upon them.

With Ghis in her current posture, tipping her over took only a slight push. The dark woman fell forward, her face deep in the mattress. Unsnapping the catches that bound Ghis' wrists to her ankles, Della got on her knees behind the lovely behind that was thrust high in the air.

"And now for the snack," Della said, grabbing the twin globes in front of her and burying her face between them. Ghis, who had been arranging her arms under her chin, jerked violently and her head shot up.

Della's mouth was insistent, the tongue probing past her ring of muscle, teasing at it. Then she moved downward, her deft tongue darting to lick at her clit before she moved her mouth to her opening and sucked hard, her tongue slipping in to assist. Ghis was on fire, her breath coming in short gasps; she exhaled with a loud moan when Della's fingers found her pulsating clit and stayed on it, the friction exquisite. And then the fruit shot out of her and Della rewarded her with a long, meandering caress from her tongue.

"One," the smaller woman murmured again and swallowed the slick grape before moving up to retrieve its mate.

"Oh fuck, Della," Ghis hissed and grasped the sheets around her head, her back arching like a bow pulled to its limit.

Della alternated between sucking and licking the smaller hole, coaxing the muscle to relax, while her thumb found Ghis' clit again, drawing languid circles around it. With the tip of her tongue, she could feel the elusive grape and she poked at it, gently teasing the sensitive opening. "C'mon hon, push," she murmured against one delicious buttock and pressed her finger against Ghis' clit, feeling the small bead dig into her flesh.

"Gracious gods..." Ghis said, her words surprisingly coherent, and then the grape popped out, aided by Della's slight tug on the stem. Ghis' vocalisations were no longer actual words, just an incoherent growl that gathered strength, turning into an outright scream as the orgasm hit and swept her away.

Gracious gods indeed, Della thought hazily and dug her fingernails into Ghis' buttocks, determined to keep her mouth where it was, her fingers drawing out every wave with skill. Ghis' wavering nearly sent them toppling over, but in the end Della managed to keep control of the tall, powerful frame thrashing beneath her.

When her climax finally relented and the violent spasms died down, and Ghis' outcry lowered to a contented sigh, Della let go and rolled onto her back. Her neck popped sharply but she disregarded it and slid back onto Ghis, smoothing her palms over her heaving ribcage under her. Ghis' skin was sticky with sweat and come, her muscles quivering with exhaustion.

"Two," Della murmured quietly and kissed a convenient shoulderblade, before dragging herself up and nuzzling into the wild mane of dark hair. Ghis' reply was a primal hiss as she unclenched her hands and released the wadded-up sheet.

The two lovers lay entangled with one another, breathing heavily, unwilling to relinquish the moment, letting the heat of their passion gradually dissipate into the air. The bedroom was quiet save for the faint rustle of sheets and the occasional crackle of wax as the candles lived their last moments in a blaze of glory before their flames were extinguished. Finally, Ghis lifted her head and nudged Della off of her, before squirming farther up the mattress and taking her lover with her.

"Help me with these?" she queried softly, her voice hoarse. She jangled one bound wrist in front of Della, who turned in the loose embrace and set her head on Ghis' shoulder before starting on the buckle.

"You've got marks," Della noted when the restraint came off. Throwing the heavy circlet of rubber and metal to the floor, she gently kissed the angry, red flesh around Ghis' strong, corded wrists.


"No regrets, then?" Della asked, smiling, as she loosened the other wrist restraint.

"None whatsoever," Ghis replied, her low alto warm and strong in the tranquility of the bedroom's. "Thank you."

"No, thank you," Della said, dropping the other restraint to the floor. She gently pushed back a wet strand of coal-black hair that clung to Ghis' cheek and smiled at the languid look in the twin oceans of blue that met her eyes. "I realise this was hard for you."

"Hey...anything for you," Ghis said and tweaked Della's nose. "Anything."

"Yeah," Della murmured and winked impishly. "I know."

A dark eyebrow rose. "Don't count on this being a regular occurrence, though." She paused for a beat. "Though I'm willing to believe that isn't the point."

"Nope," Della answered and sighed contentedly, before snuggling deeper into the embrace. "Quite the contrary."

"I know," Ghis whispered and kissed the fair head on her shoulder. "I know, love."

The mist that rose from the field was a delicate shade of pale pink as the rising sun caressed through its fragile vortexes and slopes. Only a few stalks of hay peeked over the delicate haze, swaying in the slight wind. The moor was quiet, the few obstinate birds that spent their winters in the harsh, wind-beaten fields of England not yet stirring from their slumber.

At the edge of the moor, between the sea of brume and a small brook the colour of copper and dead earth, stood a lone motorcycle and its two riders. The two figures, clad in dark leather and heavy gloves to war off the chill of the early December morning, were leaning against the sturdy machine. The occasional pop from the cooling engine was the only sound to pierce the quiet.

"Remind me again why I agreed to wake up at three in the morning?"

"Shhh..." Ghis said, smiling, and wrapped her arms tighter around Della. She was comfortably warm inside her long leather coat, as was the woman leaning cozily against her. "You'll see soon."

"I'm cold."

"No, you're not," the dark woman dismissed and pushed one of her gloved hands inside Della's coat, feeling around. "All warm and fuzzy here."

"All right," Della grumbled and shifted in her stance.

The air was brisk and the promise of snow hung heavy around them. Nature seemed to have at last conceded the battle with time and succumbed to the change of seasons, curling up into itself. It would live again in all its splendour after a few moons of torpor, but now as it awaited the comfort of its white blanket, it only appeared tired and grey.

The sun climbed from its berth beyond the horizon with confidence, its arc increasing steadily. The first rays rose above the mist and sliced through the grey mist, bathing the whole field in a warm yellow light. The beams caressed every small particle of evanescent vapour and made the entire span of open space shine like a vast plain of golden fleece.

"It's...beautiful," Della whispered, feeling the sudden warmth of the sun prickle on her face.

"Mornings here are always beautiful," Ghis murmured, not wishing to disturb the frangible moment. "The mist warms up quickly."

True enough, in mere minutes the haze thinned and revealed the sullen-looking moor covered with the shriveled stalks of heather that had been beaten down by the elements over the harsh autumn. The newborn sun gathered strength and climbed higher, grasping vainly for the higher planes that it reached only during the summer. It would stay low and disappear come afternoon, giving way to another cold, cloudless, star-spanned night.

The two lovers would not see the stars, however. Ghis mounted the cycle with one fluid move, pushing the long flaps of her coat to either side of the saddle, before handing Della her helmet. A smile and a kiss later, Della sat behind her lover, wrapping her arms around the solid, muscular body in front of her, and squeezed gently.

"Thank you."


"Yes," Della said and rested her head against the expanse of black leather. The coat's scent was rich and musky, undeniably bestial in origin. They sat in silence for a long moment. Then the sudden, brazen bellow of the engine disturbed the tranquility of the early morning, and the bike sped off toward the horizon, carrying the women back to the metropolis beyond.

--- The End ---

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