Chapter 4 of “Lick of the Flame”
from House of Dark Delights
A Feb. 2007 trade paperback from Bantam.
Copyright © 2006 Louisa Burton. All rights reserved.
May 1749 ● In the Dungeon
“Keep those on,” said Darius as Charlotte, having undressed down to her shoes and stockings, bent over to untie an above-the-knee garter. The stockings were the plain white ones ladies had taken to wearing of late, but the shoes were fashioned of brocaded silk with sharply pointed toes, an ornate silver buckle, and very high, curved heels. He liked how the height of the shoes shaped her slender body, forcing her back into an arc that accentuated her dainty breasts and firm, shapely derriere. “And leave the ribbon ‘round your neck, as well.”
“I prefer to take them off,” she said as she continued untying the garter. He knew why. There was something reassuringly natural about complete nakedness, a kind of purity. The shoes and stockings imparted an aura of salaciousness that unsettled her, despite her dark longings.
Darius stepped behind her and swung the riding crop at that tempting little ass; leather struck flesh with a satisfying snap. Charlotte shrieked as she fell to the floor of packed earth. “You cur!” she cried, rubbing her bottom as she knelt on her haunches. “You…you…”
Crouching so that they were at eye level, Darius seized a handful of her hair, still in its diamond-studded coiffure, and tugged her head up, forcing her to look at him. Softly, calmly, he said, “‘Tis best that we understand each other from the outset, my lady. You may remain here, in which case you will abandon yourself to my will and comply without hesitation to my demands, no matter what they be. ‘Twill be a compact between the two of us, a binding covenant.”
He stroked the riding crop lightly down her throat and over a trembling bosom, giving the nipple a sharp little flick. “Or you may put those back on.” He nodded over his shoulder at the heap of finery and underpinnings on the iron chair, which she’d laboriously divested as he’d watched, making no move to assist her. “I’ll even help you with the laces and hooks,” he continued. “And then you may leave here, and we shall be quit of each other. Which shall it be?”
She stared at him for a long moment, then lowered her gaze, licking her rouged lips. “The first.”
“I…I suppose I shall stay.”
“And enslave yourself to my will? Say it.”
“And enslave myself to your will.”
“Look at me.” Darius tilted her chin up. He was no mind-reader—he sensed desires only, not other thoughts or feelings—but a human’s eyes revealed much, if one searched thoroughly enough. Charlotte’s revealed a frisson of apprehension at this rough handling…as well as a breathless surge of excitement.
She craved this rough treatment, she thrilled to it. Did she not, he would hardly be doing it. It was she who had set this particular caprice in motion, not he. He was just a peaceable, reclusive djinni who’d had the poor fortune to brush up against this rather complicated human when all he’d wanted was a bit of slumber in a dark, quiet place. Now, having sensed that human’s hunger to be mastered and punished, he had no choice but to appease it, to play the role in which he’d been involuntarily cast.
Ah, but if only it were a mere performance, a simple matter of acting the brute in order to satisfy the lady’s predilection. It was the curse of Darius’s kind to absorb a human’s desires to the point where one was not just willing, but eager to act upon them—to become, if only temporarily, a different man, the kind of man who would, for instance, relish the opportunity to abuse and degrade a woman such as this.
Darius could feel it already, as he knelt staring into Charlotte’s eyes, sensing a riot of wants and needs—cold chains, tight ropes, the crack of his palm, her tears of shame and relief at being whipped, bound, caged, penetrated, used. She didn’t just want this brutal treatment; she wanted him to want to inflict it, and so, God help him, he did. He wanted to make her writhe and groan and suffer, he wanted to spank that pert little ass of hers raw, he wanted to force his cock into every part of her that could take it, but most of all, he wanted to make her submit. She needed to bend to his will, utterly and completely, to be thoroughly chastened and taken to task. He wasn’t quite sure why she craved this as she did, but the need for punishment consumed her—as, now, did Darius’s need to be the instrument of that punishment.
Pointing with the riding crop to the whipping stool, he said, “Mount it.”
She made as if to rise. He planted a booted foot on her shoulder and shoved her back down. “Did I tell you to stand?”
“I… No, I just thought—“
“Don’t think,” he said. “Just do as I say. No more, no less.”
After a moment’s thought, she turned and crawled on all fours toward the stool.
“Good girl,” Darius said as she slid herself onto it, its sloping top canting her buttocks upward—quite the tempting target. She gripped the front legs of the squat bench as Darius circled her, tapping her with the crop as he issued instructions. “Head up. Keep your gaze on that bullwhip up near the ceiling. Spread those legs,” he said, slapping her inner thighs with the crop. “Your knees should be as wide apart as the back legs of the stool. That’s it.”
He stood behind her, admiring the pose, which displayed in frank offering her hotly blushing, completely hairless vulva. She burned with lust, quite literally, since cantharides excited lust by inflaming the body’s most sensitive flesh. The red-hot tingling and itching stimulated the genitals to a fever pitch, leaving one desperate for sexual release.
“You shave?” he asked, stroking the tip of the crop over the slick, rosy petals of her labia.
“Y-yes,” she said with a little shiver. “Bridget—my ladies’ maid—she does it during my bath.”
“My…my husband was an art collector, and he wanted me to look like the women in his paintings—the nudes. You know.”
“And you obeyed, like a compliant little wife? I can’t quite fathom it.”
“I was fifteen when we were wed, and I’d lived a sheltered life.”
“In the seminary, yes?”
“How…how could you know that?”
She yelped as he smacked her ass with the crop. “’Tis I who ask the questions, Charlotte, you who answer them. You are not to speak except to respond to me, and then with the most sincere and humble demeanor. Do you understand?”
She nodded. “In…in the seminary, yes. I knew nothing of men or marriage, or…anything, until Lord Somerhurst and I were wed.”
“Your father arranged the union?”
“Your husband, he was older?”
“Much. And…” She looked over her shoulder at him, as if asking permission to continue.
“And a very commanding sort of man. Very particular, very set in his ways. He would brook no disobedience.”
“Did he hit you?”
“No. Well, once, but…not as a general thing. He didn’t have to,” she said with a sort of bitter weariness. “I was completely cowed by him. Everyone was. Even other men.”
“Was he faithful to you?”
She shook her head. “He had his mistresses. And his whores.”
“All very young,” Darius said.
“Yes. How…” She glanced warily at him, as if worried she’d overstepped herself by starting to ask a question.
“It strikes me that a man’s fondness for hairless quims might reflect a penchant for those too young to have sprouted any hair there.” And yet Darius, who had never, in his long existence, been attracted to a female of tender years, found Charlotte’s naked gash deeply arousing—because, of course, she wanted him to. The smoothness of it made him want to stroke and lick her, bite her, fuck her. Without hair to obscure his view, he could see, between the pouting lips, every detail of her female anatomy, blood-flushed and sheened with moisture.
“Your husband has been dead for—how long?” Darius asked.
“During which time you’ve become adept at giving orders rather than taking them. And yet you continue to shave.”
“It takes weeks to grow out, and the itching maddens me. And, too, I’ve found that men, most of them, rather like me bare there, especially when they…well…”
“This Bridget, is she pretty?”
“Yes, of course,” he said as he grazed the crop up and down her bare vulva. “A pretty little Irish girl with milky skin and freckles. You like spreading your legs for her, making her lather you up and take a razor to your most private, secret parts. You relish your power over her, and the way the razor feels as it scrapes you clean. It excites you, doesn’t it? And she can tell. She can see your cunt swelling, your clit stiffening, just as I can now.”
He tucked the crop’s little paddle into her gaping slit and turned it on its side, spreading her sex lips wide open. A little whimper rose from her as he stood there, scrutinizing her most secret flesh, his cock pulsing at the sight. “Do you make her lick you, this Bridget?” he asked. “Do you make her shove the handle of the razor in you as she rubs your—“
“N-nay,” said Charlotte, squirming in evident shame, and perhaps arousal, at being so exposed.
“But you do it to yourself after she leaves, don’t you? You send her away and finger yourself and imagine it’s Bridget being forced to attend to your basest needs. Either that or she gets the cane. Isn’t that right?”
Darius dealt her ass another taste of the crop, harder this time. “Isn’t it?”
He slapped the crop down on the small of her back. “Back arched, head up, ass high. You’re getting sloppy.”
“I…I’m sorry,” she said as she corrected her pose.
“When I position you, Charlotte, I expect you to maintain that position until I give you leave to move. You expect discipline in others, but you lack it yourself. Discipline cannot exist without humility and a willingness to obey. You must be punished when you falter in your obedience, else you’ll never learn. You’re like some wild, wicked little mare that bucks and kicks whenever someone tries to saddle her. You must learn to be ridden, Charlotte. You must be broken to the whip. Like so.”
Stepping back, Darius set about thrashing her with the crop, a rapid battery of smacks alternating in direction so that each backhand struck the left cheek of her ass, each forehand the right, as if he were whipping a horse into a gallop. She greeted every blow with a little high-pitched cry that excited Darius on a primal level, the level of the beast. Each slap of the paddle left a rosy little stain in its wake. He found himself aiming his blows so as to form two hot blooms of color, one on each alabaster globe.
“Hold the position,” Darius ordered as she squirmed, instinctively trying to avoid the blows.
“Did I ask you a question? Did I say you could speak?” He shifted the direction of the crop, giving her quim a slap that was sharp enough to shock her but light enough to do her no harm.
“Oh, God.” She squeezed her legs together, stammering, “Please, I…I…”
“You’re hopeless,” Hurling the crop aside, he knelt behind her and wrested her legs apart. “Spoiled, headstrong… There’s only one thing for it.”
She drew in a breath, trembling in anticipation, as she envisioned him ramming his cock into her and fucking her, fast and furious, slapping her ass as he did so. The image was so real, so clear, that it took Darius a moment to realize that it was coming from her rather than him. Not that he didn’t want to fuck her. He did, desperately. His erection pushed against the front flap of his breeches, nearly popping the buttons from their holes; if he didn’t take her soon, he’d end up spurting in his drawers.
It would be so easy to give her what she hungered for, and so gratifying, too; because she wanted it so badly, so did he. Yet her deepest, most compelling desire right now was for him to punish her for some unspoken sin by mastering her, bending her to his will. Were he to give her the good, hard spank-fucking she secretly craved, at least in this moment, he would be doing her bidding, instead of forcing her to do his.
“You’ve asked for this.” Lifting the leather strap attached to the lefthand leg of the whipping stool, he buckled it around her thigh, good and tight, then bound her other thigh in the same manner. He leaned over to secure her upper arms to the stool’s front legs, his loins pressed to hers as if he were about to take her from behind. The suggestive nature of the pose, and Darius’s erection, weren’t lost on Charlotte, who rubbed against him in a way that urged him perilously close to orgasm.
“Feeling a bit ruttish, are we?” he murmured in her ear as he reached around her to squeeze her breasts.
“Yes?” He grasped a hard little nipple in each hand and pulled, coaxing a breathy little moan from her.
“Please… Oh, God, please…”
“Please fuck you?”
“Yes. Oh yes, do it,” she begged, thrusting against him again. “Do it now.”
“Charlotte, Charlotte…” Backing off her, he buckled the waist strap around her, which had the effect, in concert with the leg straps, of forcing her rear end up and keeping it there. “You speak when you ought to hold your tongue and move when you ought to be still, forcing me to restrain you. And now you expect to be rewarded for your defiance in dictating when and how I shall take my pleasure? I think not.”
Rising, he came to stand before her, unbuttoning his trouser panel from the waistband. “You must earn the right to slake your lust, Charlotte. In the meantime, I shall slake mine, but not in that greedy little twat of yours.” He knelt and pulled his rampant cock through the slit in his drawers as he gripped the back of her head. “Can you swallow a lob whole, like Lili?”
“I…I can try.”
“Do more than try, Charlotte,” he said as he pushed himself into her mouth, “and I just might let you come.”
She proved herself an accomplished fellatrix, employing a firm, rhythmic suction without once scraping him with her teeth. The way she looked, bound to the stool in a posture of submission as she sucked him in and out of her mouth, only heightened the sensation. On the verge of spending all too soon, he pulled himself out and told her to lick just the tip, then the shaft and balls, lightly, teasingly, as he fought the urge to shoot, letting the pleasure mount higher, higher…
“Take it in your mouth again,” he ordered her, in as calm and authoritative a voice as he could muster, under the circumstances. “Deep this time, as far as it will go.”
She struggled to obey him, eyes watering as he shoved deeper, deeper…
“You can do it,” he said. “Open your throat. That’s it….”
He withdrew when she began to gag, waited a moment for her to regain her breath, then said, “Again—deeper,” and pushed himself in even farther before retreating. “Again. Take it all the way to the root. Good girl.”
He fucked her mouth, thrusting faster and faster as the pleasure sizzled through his veins, surging in his loins like lava ready to spew. “I’m coming,” he rasped. “Swallow it down. All of it.”
He gritted his teeth to keep from crying out as he exploded in her mouth, pumping it full as he hunched over her, clutching her head. Breathless and sated, he slid out from between her lips and tucked himself back into his drawers with unsteady fingers.
Charlotte dropped her head, her back heaving as if she were struggling for air.
“Charlotte?” he said gently as he crouched down.
There came a sound like a cough as she spat her mouthful of come onto the floor.
He stood and rebuttoned his trouser flap.
She looked up at him, her eyes wide and contrite. “I…I couldn’t,” she said. “I never could. I just can’t bear the thought of—“
“Silence,” he roared. “You refuse to follow commands, refuse to keep your mouth shut. You claim you want to be here, that you’re ready to bend to my will, yet—“
“I do,” she exclaimed. “I am. I…I just…”
“You just need a little assistance in overcoming your natural willfulness, is that it?”
“I had hoped you wouldn’t start out quite so obdurate,” he said as he crossed to the shelves next to the bed. “I must say, I’m disappointed in you, Charlotte. It seems you’re going to require much in the way of external restraint before you can be trusted to exercise that restraint of your own accord.”
Darius stood for some time, examining the various implements of punishment on the shelf. From the corner of his eye he saw her watching him fretfully.
He paused to contemplate the brank, a hinged, skull-shaped framework of iron welded to a heavy band meant to encircle the lower part of the face. Dangling from the front was a chain with which to control the movements of the wearer. There was a triangular opening for the nose and mouth, the bottom of which was fashioned to accommodate one of two iron appendages designed to serve as gags; these, Darius examined one by one. The most benign was a flat tab. More sinister by far was a fat little shaft studded with spikes.
“No,” Charlotte begged as Darius scrutinized the latter, even going so far as to fit it speculatively into the mouthpiece. “Please don’t, not that. I won’t speak out of turn, I promise.”
“And yet you’re doing so right now.” Removing the spiked bit, Darius inserted the iron tab. “Calm yourself, Charlotte. My intent is not to maim you to the point where you can never speak again, but rather to teach you to master that insolent tongue of yours on your own.”
Kneeling before her, Darius pried the brank open and fitted it around Charlotte’s head, shoving the tab over her tongue as he snapped the device shut. He secured it with the attached padlock and slipped the key into his trouser pocket.
Standing back, he admired his captive, now not just naked and bound to the whipping stool, but gagged with an instrument designed as much to humiliate as to silence. Emitting muffled little mews of distress, Charlotte twisted her head about like a puppy trying to divest itself of its collar, her little breasts bobbing and swaying with her efforts.
Darius felt a heaviness unfurl between his legs as his arousal reasserted itself. She was entirely within his power, this iron-masked strumpet, and of her own volition, no less. He could do with her what he wished, his excitement, and hers, escalating in direct proportion to her suffering.
It was a heady, even thrilling sensation, yet at the same time unsettling. This wasn’t the first time Darius had been compelled through casual contact with a human to change into something he was not, to feel things he wouldn’t ordinarily feel, to do things that, when recalled later, would appall him. Experience had taught him that the longer such an episode lasted—and it would not end until the human was ready for it to end—the deeper his immersion in the sensations and desires he’d been forced to embrace. Right now, there was still a part of him that was Darius, the real Darius, with his familiar ideology, principles, likes and dislikes, self. Before Charlotte was done with him, however, he might be so consumed by this new, casually brutal persona that his old self was barely a memory.
She had ceased struggling, and was regarding him warily through the iron bars of the brank, wondering, no doubt, what further indignities he had in store for her. Her eyes were a golden green, and quite fetching, really, or would have been but for all that ridiculous paint.
“So much for your training,” he told her. “Now for your punishment.”