I was left holding the chair, so weak-kneed I didn't trust myself to move yet. Jean-Claude had a small many-tailed whip in his hand. Nathaniel crouched and crawled across the stage, and Jean-Claude beat him. It was like an odd version of an old-time lion tamer act, except the chair served an entirely different purpose.
"You are a very bad kitty-cat, very bad. How do we punish our bad kitty?" For a second I thought he was asking me, but he wasn't. The women around the stage started to chant, "Tie him up, tie him up, tie him up."
Jean-Claude smiled, as if that had never occurred to him, but what a good idea it was. At a gesture from him, chains descended from the ceiling. I hadn't noticed them in the welter of lights and cables. Oh, hell, I hadn't even looked up.
Two bare-chested waiters, wearing only leather pants, came up on stage and dragged Nathaniel to his feet. They chained his arms spread wide, wrists above his head.
Jean-Claude came to me, walking so that his h*ps rolled more than they should have. He touched my arm and whispered, with a smile that did not match the words, "Are you alright, ma petite?"
I nodded and whispered, because I knew he'd hear me. "Flashback."
"Not as strong as those that our Asher can give."
I shook my head.
"Interesting," he said, "are you well enough to finish this show?"
"I promised," I said.
His smile widened, and his voice was suddenly that room-filling, jolly sound, "Now, you may help us punish our bad kitty. You may make him pay for taking liberties." I got a shadow of what he was doing to the audience. When he said "punish," it was a sharp pull on the body; "bad kitty" made you think of very naughty things; "pay," and more money hit the stage; "liberties" had a lascivious lilt to it that made the audience do that nervous giggle, like what they were thinking was worse than anything they'd seen tonight.
I just nodded and let him take my hand. That one touch was both a mistake and a help. It made me feel less shaky, but it also opened me to him more. Touching just his hand was more distracting than touching so much more on most men. He led me a little dazed across the stage, until we were standing behind Nathaniel, facing the bareness of the back of his body.
Jean-Claude let go of my hand and went to him. He touched the bare back. "You may hit him here"--his hand slid down Nathaniel's back to his bu**ocks--"or here. He has been a bad kitty, but we don't want to damage him. He is far too pretty for that."
The audience agreed with him, most of them.
Jean-Claude handed the whip toward me. "I don't know how to use a whip."
"First, it is a what, my sweets?"
Most of the women yelled, "Flogger!"
"And second, it would be my pleasure," and that one word slithered over my skin, and apparently over the other women as well, for they squealed, "to show you just how it works." And every word seemed darker, more suggestive than it should have.
He tried to show me first by simply using it on Nathaniel. He made the heavy leather tails blur and blossom against Nathaniel's skin. Nathaniel reacted to every blow with a spasm that went from his fingers to his toes and everything in between. I could see enough of his face to know that those closed eyes and parted lips weren't from pain. Jean-Claude whipped Nathaniel, or I guess flogged him, until his skin was pink in places and the stage was littered with money at their feet.
He leaned close to Nathaniel's face, said something, and Nathaniel said something back, then Jean-Claude turned to me. He held the flogger out again. "He's such a bad kitty."
I shook my head.
"Shall I show her how it's done?" he asked the audience, and they yelled louder, and I wished I'd just taken the damn thing and tried, but too late now.
He put the flogger in my hand and pressed his body against the back of mine, with one arm around my waist and the other hand on the hand that held the flogger. It was the way lecherous men stand when they try to teach you how to golf or swing a bat. He swung my arm back and tried to make me give that sharp crack against Nathaniel's body, but it wasn't sharp, it was sort of flabby.
"You must relax and let me do the work, ma petite." Loud enough for the audience, he said, "Relax, my sweet, relax, and we will show him pain, and perhaps more." The "perhaps more" was like a whisper in the dark against your skin.
I let out the breath I was holding and tried to relax, never my best thing. But I also knew that if I didn't relax, this part of the show would last longer, and I wanted this part over. It was sort of demeaning, like I was a girl who couldn't swing at the ball without help. Okay, maybe I didn't know how to use a flogger, but I really didn't need this much help.
We got a couple of good blows in, enough to make Nathaniel shiver in his chains. Then Jean-Claude stepped away from me, leaving the flogger in my hand. "Give the bad kitty what he wants." And what he said was not what it felt like in my head, or on my skin, or deeper in my body. The women around the stage and farther into the room made small noises. Shit.
I threw the flogger at Jean-Claude the way you'd throw a baseball bat when you want someone to catch it. He caught it by the handle like I'd known he would. "I know what the bad kitty wants, and I am going to give it to him."
The women made "ooh" and "aah" sounds, and several said, "you go girl!" One yelled, "lucky bitch!" I walked to Nathaniel and stood in front of him. His eyes were only partly focused. He'd liked the flogger. I'd known sort of academically that he would, but seeing it in his face was different. It bothered me, and I wasn't sure if the entire thing bothered me, or if what bothered me was that this was something he liked this much, and I wasn't sure I was willing to do it for him. I let the doubts go, because what I was about to do was something I could do, and wanted to do, and had promised to do.
I looked up at the chains and just wasn't familiar enough with the concept to know, so I asked Jean-Claude, "Does this swivel?"
"It can," he said, "why?"
"Because they'll want to see his face."
The audience liked that, and they shouted more encouragement, but I didn't need it. I don't know why, but suddenly I was calm. I wasn't bothered that we were in public, or that we were on stage. It was very peaceful inside my head, very calm.
The waiters turned Nathaniel around so that he faced the audience. His eyes had gone back to almost normal. I could see his face reflected in the distant glass of the far wall. I'd never really noticed how much shiny surface there was all around until that moment, when I could watch Nathaniel's face and mine.
I grabbed his ponytail, grabbed it and wound it around my hand, tight, tight enough that he gasped. I think the audience screamed, but the sound of them was receding, pulling away, and leaving me in a well of silence, where the only noises were Nathaniel's breath and mine.
I pressed my body along his back, tucked him tight against me, so that his ass pushed against my stomach and my br**sts pressed into his back. I kept my hold on his hair, and used it like a handle to keep him from moving, pulling harder if he shifted his weight, until he hung suspended, afraid to move, eager not to. I had to go on tiptoe to get the angle I wanted for the smooth expanse of his neck. I put my free hand around his upper chest, holding us tight together. I used his hair to stretch his neck to one side, to give me as much of that smooth, delicate flesh as possible. His breathing had already changed, already sped in anticipation.
I licked his neck, a quick flick of tongue, and he gasped for me. I licked harder, and he shuddered. I kissed his neck, and he made a small noise, not of protest, but of eagerness. I opened my mouth wide, and let my breath touch hot upon his skin, and then I bit him. No more foreplay, no more games. I bit him.
He struggled against me, he couldn't help it, and I used his hair and my arm around his body, and the press of my body against his back, to hold him in place. I felt his skin under my teeth, felt the meat of him in my mouth, and underneath that was that frantic beating pulse. I could taste his life underneath his skin, taste it, and know that it was mine, mine if I wanted it. Mine because part of him wanted to give it up to me.
The sensation of that much meat in my mouth was almost overwhelming, and I fought not to bite down and take away all that flesh. I fought not to take everything that he offered in that moment. I bit down, held him as he struggled, held him as his wrists jerked on the chains, as his body began to spasm, and still I sank my teeth into his flesh. The first sweet taste of blood like salt and metal and something so much sweeter filled my mouth, and I felt him convulse against me, heard him cry out. And I fed, I fed the ardeur, and hadn't even known it was coming. I fed on his blood, fed on the meat of his body, fed on his sex, fed on all of him. I fed, and when I looked up from his body, I saw my eyes reflected in the mirror. Black light, with that flash of brown light, my eyes drowned with power.