I seated myself opposite her, sinking slowly down into the deeply cushioned velvet luxury of the armchair she had indicated. The smiling hall porter who'd accompanied me silently placed the tray he was carrying onto the small glass-topped table between us, poured two cups from the coffee pot and departed closing the door behind him without a sound.
"Milk, sugar, anything to nibble?" She waved a hand graciously towards the tray.
I shook my head. "No thanks ma'am, quite happy with it just black". I looked at her with interest. She was small, petite and old yet there remained a definite aura of youth about her - an elfin impishness that made light of the passage of time. Wrinkles and age spots had tried but failed to eradicate the last traces what had once been a beautiful woman. The hair was silvery white now rather than the blonde of her youth but remained stylish and groomed falling softly around her shoulders. The hand that had gestured towards the tray was small and dainty, the fingers slender and devoid of rings or nail polish. Bright blue eyes, barely touched by the watery condition old age inevitably brings with it regarded me quizzically, and I thought, with perhaps a hint of amusement.
"You are aware of the agreement and the conditions for this interview and the assurances given on both sides, I assume."
I nodded. "They told, me", I replied.
"Good" She smiled, revealing a full set of gleaming teeth, almost certainly still all her own I thought then the smile faded. "I have kept and will keep to my part of the agreement, however, should you or anyone else play me false, I assure you that there will be consequences that you and they will regret, my contacts you understand...."
I nodded again emphatically this time. "Yes ma'am, I think, I mean I am sure everyone is clear on that. I have no wish to...to
"Become one of my.... well let's say one of my projects", she added with a mischievous grin, but her eyes were still cold.
"Precisely ma'am". I swallowed nervously, hesitated for a moment and then asked. "I heard or rather was told that you were no longer active yourself, that you'd retired?"
"Partly true". She sank back into her chair relaxing the rather grim and frightening expression of a few moments ago into a much softer one. "My Great Niece deals with most of the day to day things now, and she is a very efficient young woman". She laughed. "Very enthusiastic and absolutely hands on so I doubt you'd want to be introduced to her should any problems arise from this meeting! I keep an eye on things of course but only in an informal and advisory capacity. The business is now hers in all but name although I do still like to amuse myself from time to time".
I was looking at a woman who for a brief time had been one of London's most sort after and exclusive Professional Dommes until she took her business and talents in a parallel but much more profitable direction. One that I knew to be vastly more exclusive! A woman whose name was legendary but only within a minimal network of people. I knew something of her background and activities through my briefing, not a lot because I was not a member of that elite club, nor ever likely to be.
"Cat got your tongue?" she teased as I remained quiet.
"No ma'am", I decided to be honest, "it's just, just that your appearance took me a little bit by surprise that's all."
Her Face lit up in a wide smile, and she chuckled quietly. "So, what were you expecting then, a six-foot-six tall leather-clad Amazon brandishing a long bullwhip?".
"Oh at least seven foot" I retorted quickly. "Seriously though, I do admit to being a bit, perhaps more than a bit surprised.... given your reputation" I hastily added.
"Appearances can be very deceptive; you wouldn't be the first to make that mistake, not by a long way".
I thought I detected a slightly ominous tone in her words. I nodded in agreement. The petite elderly lady seated opposite was the absolute opposite of the figure my imagination had conjured up. Her depreciative description of my expectations had not been very far off the mark. Small, slight, diminutive even and dressed in a simple matching cream cardigan and jumper, modest red tartan skirt and a pair of comfortable looking cream flats, slightly worn and scuffed I noted. No makeup apart from perhaps a smidgen of pale pink lipstick and just a small jewelled brooch worn on her left breast, the only evidence of adornment.
Better make a start I thought to myself. Delicate she might look, but there was more than a hint of steel in both voice and eyes that was definitely at odds with the overall image. Not a woman to trifle with under any circumstances or to waste time with.
I coughed to clear my throat. "Pardon, perhaps we should jump straight in", I said. So, when did you first cross the line so to speak, from consensual activities to non-consensual?"
She laughed at my abruptness then paused for a moment looking towards the ceiling while recollecting her thoughts.
"Malcolm was the first," she said softly.
"He came to me one cold afternoon in early December. He'd phoned from the airport; Heathrow I think it was. I only glanced at his ticket when I threw it away, could have been Gatwick, I can't remember now. It wasn't very important at the time, and I was far too preoccupied with him!"
"You threw his plane ticket away!"
She shrugged her shoulders dismissively. "Why not, I couldn't use it, and he certainly wasn't going to make the flight, was he?"
"Who was he?"
"Just a nobody, one of the early generation of backpackers you might say. The big Boeing 747's had started to change the world back then. Travel and exotic destination were opening up to everyone at affordable prices. Places that once only the very rich could dream of visiting were suddenly available to every Tom, Dick and Harry!", she frowned for a second. "You know I can't even remember where he was going to fly to..."
"Other things on your mind", I suggested.
She laughed. "Oh yes, definitely other things on my mind as far as he was concerned".
"And no doubt he should or would have been concerned had he been blessed with the gift of foresight?"
"Oh my, yes, especially if he'd known what I had in mind for him".
"Why did he come to see you?"
"Because he was a submissive, or thought he was. No Internet back then so I was advertising in a couple of the more exclusive contact magazines that were available via mail order. Every so often the publishers would discreetly forward me a batch of letters that had been sent to them addressed to my advert number". She paused and waved one hand in a dismissive gesture. "Of course, 90% of them were just time wasters, sad losers using me to put their pathetic wank fetishes down on paper". She chuckles. "I used to think you could even see the cum stains on some of them. Even if they had included a stamped addressed envelope or some form of postal payment if they were from overseas, I never replied to most of them. Total time wasters. You either got a short half dozen lines of the 'please whip me hard Mistress' variety or a half dozen pages of near incomprehensible, misspelt complex fantasy! I remember one clown who wanted me to dress as a Disney Snow White and arrange for him to be sodomised by seven dwarves while in bondage...or fewer if seven was going to be too expensive to organise!"
We both laughed as she paused before taking another sip from her cup. "A few morons even included their telephone numbers and mind you; this was well before we all had cell phones. The idiots would give me suitable times when I could call and strict instructions as to what I should say if it were their secretary or, would you believe it, wife answered!" She said laughing.
"Did you ever call any of them?"
"Of course not. I wasn't about to waste my time and money pandering to some pathetic wimp who would probably only be interested in pulling on his prick when I called. Mind you, with one or two of those letters I was a touch tempted..." She suddenly grins impudently at me. "To call their wives that is...would not that have been fun?"
"Hello Mrs Smith" I quipped, is Johnny in, it's time for him to come for his spanking and can he bring his sexy French Maid outfit with him"
She laughed again. "Now wouldn't that have been fun....and wicked!"
"But not very profitable".
"No, back then my overheads compared to my income were quite high. West London is not cheap today and certainly wasn't back then either. Fortunately, over time I did build up a small nucleus of decent clients willing to pay my prices though".
"So, you weren't cheap? Sorry", I quickly added in response to the frosty look she gave me.
"I have never been... cheap, as you crudely put it. I charged, I suppose what some might have considered a premium price, but I like to think I gave full value for money. I took time over my appearance, plus I invested in top-class facilities and equipment. Back then there were not many suppliers of first-rate bondage and fetish gear. Even today there are not that many who manufacture really top end stuff although there are rafts of cheap trash available on eBay, Amazon and the like".
I nodded in agreement, and she suddenly laughed again before continuing.
"Had, I been some cheapskate tart we certainly wouldn't be sitting here now talking in a spacious private suite in this particular upmarket hotel. Indeed, had my equipment not been up to and beyond a certain standard I could possibly have spent many of the years between then and now as a reluctant guest in one of the countries overcrowded penal institutions!"
I nodded politely. "I can't see you in that situation".
"Neither can I", she said with a shudder. "Being rather favoured in the looks department back then and of a petite size I expect some over-sized ugly butch dyke would have claimed me for her own".
"Not just favoured back then", I said.
She inclined her head towards me at the compliment and flashed another generous smile. "Anyway, my equipment and confinement facilities were more than adequate both for their initial and later for more...more specialised usage. In fact, I doubt I would have been of interest to my future business partners and clients had my facilities been less than first class".
"Which brings us back to Malcolm" I prompted.
"Yes, poor Malcolm" she sighed.
"You feel guilt?" it was an important question I thought.
"No, not guilt" She answered firmly. "I don't think I have ever felt any guilt. Maybe a tinge of regret now and then" she mused. "Guilt, no. I have always had the knack of divorcing myself from...from what you might call the humanitarian or moral aspect. Occasionally there might have been a degree of emotional involvement developing, but I always managed to suppress such feelings, most of the time anyway".
"Most of the time?" I queried.
She paused again with that faraway look in her deep green eyes. "There were three over the years; two are still with me, I doubt that they could even function or exist now on their own".
"...and the other one?"
"He died, heart gave out one cold winter day when I was punishing him. Maybe I was being too hard on him given his age. My fault" she sighed. "I was in a bad mood that day, and he antagonised me, he should have known better, much better". She broke off and shrugged her shoulders. "Then again so should I perhaps".
"How long had he been with you?"
"Been with me?". She questioned in an amused tone. "You make us sound like an old married couple! You mean how long had I owned him?"
"Must have been about twenty years, maybe even a couple more, I forget exactly".
I blinked. "Wow, that's a long time".
She shrugged again. "Human animals tend to mirror their real counterparts in my experience. Horses and ponies can go as long as thirty years plus if well looked after, dogs and the like a lot less. I think it's something to do with the low posture and freedom of movement". She smiled thinly "I don't think anyone has ever carried out a study on it nor are they ever likely to. Not enough material and certainly no general access to it!"
"Owners must also play a significant part" I suggested.
"Of course, it always amazes me, given the price such beasts command how callously some owners can behave. There are those of course that can afford such behaviour and indeed enjoy it".
"Isn't that true off all of you?" I chided.
"Certainly not" she snorted angrily. "Most of us are no different to anyone else. If you pay a lot of money for something or go to a great deal of effort to acquire a particular item, then you value it. You don't break it in a tantrum at the first opportunity".
"True, but you do have to do a certain amount of 'breaking in', like Malcolm" I suggested. "You were saying he was the first."
"Would you like a top-up", she indicated the coffee pot and the nearby plates., "Or a nibble, they bake their own biscuits here you know?"
I smiled. "I am alright thank you", then I chuckled.
"What's so funny?"
"I suppose the situation, ma'am. Here I am taking polite afternoon tea or coffee with...with, well I suppose someone who most people would regard as a complete criminal sadist and we're talking homemade or rather hotel made biscuits!"
"Maybe" she half laughed tossing her head from one side to the other. "Is that how you see me?"
"Does that offend you?"
"No not really", she replied after a moment's thought. "I suppose that is what initially started me down this road. Cruelty, if we can call it, that becomes natural, second nature even after a while in my business. I obtain, I train, and then I sell. I suppose I have looked at myself for a long time now as a businesswoman more than anything else. There is a certain demand, and I supply, simply basic business practise."
"A very specialised business", I noted.
"True, very specialised indeed, very very specialised and I specialised more than most".
"Also, pleasurable?" I ventured.
"Highly, for me anyway, that's what first got me started".
"Which takes us back to the mysterious Malcolm again" I noted.
"Ah yes, Malcolm. Strange name for an American I remember thinking. You always expect them to be called Chuck or Hank or something similar. He'd written to me from the states via one of my adverts, don't ask me whereabouts, way too long ago for that sort of detail. He sent a picture I remember, might even still have it somewhere but heaven knows where! Nice looking young man, only around twenty-three or twenty-four, recently finished college and was going travelling to see the world. Not sure why he'd only just finished his education, I thought they finished earlier than that..."
I waited as she paused seemingly deep in thought.
"Anyway, I remember that I rather liked his letter. He told me he was a bit of a submissive and was experimenting. He'd apparently had a couple of not very satisfactory sessions in New York during a recent visit and wanted to try a European Domme. He was into bondage and a bit of mild CP as I recall". She broke off with a harsh laugh. "Mild!".
I looked enquiringly at her.
She smiled wickedly, her eyes sparkling. "He may have wanted mild.... unfortunately, he got a wee bit more than that...well, quite a lot more in fact!"
I must have looked puzzled.
"Malcolm was the catalyst between my initial occupation and the one I have followed for many years now".
She shrugged again. "A fortunate coincidence perhaps. Or perhaps fortunate for one of us but not for the other." She frowned thoughtfully for a moment again. "You were sort of right a moment ago when you called me a sadist...no don't apologise; you were on the right track. One thing I had discovered was that I liked...how shall I phrased it? I liked pushing the boundaries of my clients; I got a thrill from that."
"What they call Edge Play" I suggested.
"That's what they call it today" she agreed. "I don't think we had a term back then. My cellar dungeon, my training room as I called it was virtually soundproof. I know because I took a record player down there and cranked up the volume full blast. Made an awful din but I could barely hear it upstairs. My house was an old Victorian end of terrace one, couldn't hear a thing outside". She paused again and then shook her head. "I can't for the life of me remember what record I was playing but it was loud, dam loud!"
"So down in the 'Playroom no one could hear you scream".
"Well, certainly not me. I may have raised my voice from time to time, but I was never the one doing the screaming", she chuckled.
"But Malcolm did?"
"Oh yes, I made Malcolm scream, and dance and beg and do a whole lot more..."
"We're getting ahead again".
"Quite. I found after about eighteen months that what had started more as a way of supplementing my earnings as a dancer was becoming both my main and favoured source of income. A whole lot easier than prancing around on some freezing cold stage six nights a week and twice on Sundays during pantomime season! Anyway, I was on the wrong side of twenty-five, and my legs were not quite as enthusiastic for the stage as they had been. I was also enjoying the sexual side of it. Beating and humiliating slaves made me hot and wet...very wet. I'll admit to something now, something I have never told anyone else".
She laughed again; it must have been the look on my face.
"It's not that much of a major revelation. I'm...well, I am not going to tell you how old I am, but would you believe that up to today I have only ever had one male penis in my vagina. Just the one and that only once. It hurt as I recall, hurt a lot and I remember thinking at the time, if that's sex then you can keep it. My one and only romantic dalliance, if you chose to call it, that was with one of the male dancers in our troupe. Gerald his name was. Always posing in front of the practise mirrors, vain as a peacock but I briefly thought I was in love with him. Stupid girl. Am I boring you?"
"No, not at all", I said quickly.
"Anyway, to cut a very long story short, my antics as a Domme frequently made me wet, and it wasn't long before I discovered the delights or oral sex. I have never looked back since nor had the remotest desire ever to allow myself to be penetrated by a cock again" She paused for a second then winked suggestively at me. "Not that I am totally against penetrative sex just so long as it was me doing the penetrating with a strapon! I've busted many virgin holes in my time, and not a single one was willing!"
"No", she laughed. "He got lucky at least in that sense. It was a bit later that I started down that highly entertaining road. No Malcolm served mainly to satisfy my first lust, that of using my more punitive toys to arouse myself. I found out fairly quickly that most of my sessions if not all of them left me feeling highly unsatisfied. I got hot and wet whipping the arse of some helpless jerk, but I could never go on and achieve the sort of satisfaction that I wanted. It was so damn frustrating; I wanted to whip some poor guy raw, whip him till he lost his voice and could scream and beg no more, whip him till he fainted then revive him and whip him again and again! I wanted to hear those screams and get off on them, but no...it was always, no more Mistress, please that's enough, stop I've had enough, and so on...."
I nodded in understanding.
"We digress. Malcolm rang me quite unexpectedly one afternoon long after his initial letter. I always gave the few people to whom I replied a special customer number. I remember asking him to hold while I referenced his number to his letter". She paused again for a second. "Strange how things work out. He was in transit and had quite a bit of time to kill before his onward evening flight. I'd just had a regular client cancel on me right at the last moment. If that hadn't happened then Malcolm would have had a very different life. Instead I gave him my address".
"And he came?"
She nodded and gave a slightly sinister laugh. "Oh yes the poor wretch came, we'll he visited me. I am not sure 'came' is an appropriate term under the circumstances. He certainly did not 'cum' when he was with me, nor I suspect much, if ever after he left! You look puzzled."
Sorry" I said, "I just don't understand the connection?"
"Between Malcolm and my present occupation, you mean?
This time I nodded.
"Give me a few more minutes and all will become clear." She paused again to compose herself and took a deep breath. "I kept Malcolm. I am not quite sure when the idea came to me; I think perhaps it had been growing for a while in my sub-conscious. The idea of actually having a 'for real slave', a slave I could whip as much as I wanted, my slave, my prisoner, my toy. A crazy idea and certainly an unplanned one. Going in an instant from a law-abiding young woman to a total criminal in one short jump. Does that shock you?"
"It might" I admitted if I wasn't aware of everything else.
She laughed again. "Cute, aware of everything else? I don't even think we've scratched the surface of my depravity yet!"
"So, what triggered the...the acquisition?"
"Acquisition, I like that, sounds so much nicer than kidnap don't you think? She paused yet again to cast her mind back many years. "The term 24/7 hadn't been invented back then, but that's what I wanted. We'll maybe not 24/7, but I wanted something or someone to hand whenever I wanted and to be able to do whatever I wanted and for as long as I wanted to it without any limitations."
"You could have advertised for such a slave" I pointed out.
She shook her head. "I think not. The term 24/7 is a misnomer; there are lots of submissive out there who indulge themselves with nightly wet dreams of serving a Dominant Mistress or being held captive by such against their wishes 24/7! Believe me; not a one would hang around for more than a day once they faced the reality of such a situation. I know, oh yes, I most certainly know
She paused again for a few seconds and then continued. "It was during the interview with Malcolm that your 'trigger as you put it was pulled. I prided myself on being a conscientious Domme and always satisfying my clients. Those who came for their first visit, I would always take some time to get to know them a little bit and their interests, I was fair, I never charged for that time, I wanted them to feel relaxed. I gave him a can of beer, he sat on the edge off my sofa, he was nervous, very nervous I remember".
I grinned "Well he had good reason to be didn't he or would have had he known" I quipped.
She ignored me and continued. I don't even think she heard me so focused was she on that old memory. "He was very shy, it took me a while to get him to open up but then the floodgates opened wide, and he started talking, gushing almost. In less than half an hour I knew his complete life story. He was single, no family, no girlfriend, no employer, nothing left behind. He had his plane tickets, passport, money, travellers' cheques and a massive backpack leaning against my sideboard, although in those days we called them rucksacks as I recall. He even had my original typed response to his letter that contained my phone number in his hand when he came through my front door. He'd come from the airport by public transport, not in a taxi. He wasn't even expected anywhere; not a single nights accommodation booked anywhere. Only one person in the entire world knew where he was, and that person was me. A bell sounded in my head".
I flicked a fingernail against the rim of my cup. "Ding", I added.
"Quite, several loud dings in fact. Number one, he was cute and good looking in a slightly androgynous way, bigger than me but not that tall, quite slim, not waif-like but no six-pack muscle hunk. That certainly rang up the dollar sign! Number two, I had two empty cells downstairs adjacent to my 'training room, through a stout door and off a short passage. Two cells I had fitted out for the occasional 'high paying' client who booked an overnight or even longer stay. They had very secure doors, no windows and lots of firmly embedded hooks and eyebolts in the walls. There was also a small washroom down there for the post session refreshing for my clients...or as it turned out, an added convenience for me. Number three, I was feeling horny, really horny and wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to whip and whip and whip and whip and...."
"I don't quite get number one, the dollar sign" I interrupted.
She eyed me a little coldly annoyed by my interruption. "I said a while back it would become clear, didn't I"?
I nodded. "Sorry".
"Malcolm triggered something in me that had been dormant. I made up my mind in that brief half-hour interview that his global backpacking aspirations were over before they'd even begun. To put it crudely my cunt had caught fire, and he was the one I was going to use to extinguish it, no exceptions, no buts, no reprieve. Besides, he was also going to add considerably to my bank balance....no more freezing my butt off in ice cold rehearsal rooms. We were still talking, and I was smiling sweetly and telling him how much he would enjoy himself with me. Lier, he wouldn't enjoy anything, but I certainly would.
She paused again and looked at me then tossed her head back again. "Number one was something that had happened a few weeks before, and this is where the connection is. As a Domme, I always got more than my fair share of cranks writing in response to my adverts as you can imagine. Most were pathetic, one or two frightening or even threatening but occasionally one was interesting. I sent a response to a lady who wrote to offer me a large sum of money, a considerable sum of money for my services. I was ninety per cent sure from her brief note that it was another crackpot letter but only ninety because there was a baited hook along with the letter, a hook in the form of five crisp one hundred US dollar bills. The address on the return envelope was a Paris one, the French equivalent of a box number I guessed".
"A lot of money" I observed, "even today five hundred dollars is a lot. You replied I take it?".
"Naturally, I was, of course, a bit or more than a bit wary, but I did reply. I was reluctant to send my phone number out in the usual way, I wasn't overly happy and definitely suspicious, but as you just said, five hundred dollars certainly got my attention, a lot of money and back then it was one hell of a lot of money. The writer had said she would be in London on various dates. I chose the furthest one some three weeks on from when I received her mail and suggested we meet in a coffee bar that I generally visited a few times a week, a decent one, plenty of places to sit unobtrusively and yet still feel secure. I gave her a time mid-afternoon when it was usually quiet and told her where I'd be sitting. Her letter had said to keep the five hundred even if I wasn't interested. That had certainly piqued my interest. People wouldn't throw money around like that unless they were both rich and serious. Anyway, there was also a built-in safety catch. She had included a number I could ring, the number of one of my...my competitors if you put it like that who also had a dungeon a few streets away. She suggested that I might like to talk to that Mistress and ask her if Celine was genuine."
"I don't blame you for feeling suspicious," I said, "All sounds a bit odd to me. Did you call the given number, and did she actually turn up for your meet?".
"Quite, those were my thoughts exactly and yes I did call, and yes she did turn up. My professional colleague was quite helpful if a little vague. Oh my, she said yes Celine was genuine, very genuine indeed and that she had done some highly profitable business with her, but I had better keep an open mind if I decided to meet with her a very very wide-open mind and if terms like non-consensual or extreme bothered me then call your meeting off. That was all I could get out of her, she just laughed and said it's not something I can talk about, you'll find out when I pressed for more details.
Curiosity and greed got the better of me so three weeks later at the appointed time I was sitting in my usual booth sipping a cup of cappuccino when a slim very elegantly dressed young woman approached. Younger than me, much younger virtually a teenager I thought but on closer inspection realised that she must be early twenties or thereabouts. She wore a stylish wide-brimmed hat with a delicate black veil partly concealing her face but politely pushed up the veil as she approached. Straight out of Vogue, top class model looks the sort that does not need to go near a makeup pot to look sensational. I was not a fashion expert back then, my income was not large enough to indulge myself then as I can now, but I was savvy enough to smell money, class and elegance and she reeked of all three and much more. I will speak for her if you don't mind, it will be easier for me to recall things?"
"Not at all".
"You rang Madam Black," she asked, must have recognised me from my photo in the contact magazine. I nodded." I am sure she vouched most positively for me. May I sit down?" she spoke with a delightful soft French accent, but her English was top draw BBC news announcer perfect.
She sat down opposite me and lit a long black fancy cigarette without asking. People did back then; almost everyone smoked everywhere. Glancing around she espied a waiter and snapped her fingers in a very imperious way and ordered a coffee like mine.
A pair of cold grey eyes stared at me as if assessing my worth. She blew out a long stream of blue scented smoke. "May I inquire what did Madam Black tell you?". Her voice was level, neither friendly nor hostile merely curious.
"She told me that she'd done some profitable business with you in the past and that she could vouch for you being very genuine. She wouldn't give me any details". I frowned. "She said something odd, something about my not being bothered about extreme or non-consensual, I didn't understand that".
Celine said nothing and continued to gaze at me. I recall being slightly chilled by that look. She was young, but there was something about her, something frightening that spoke of confidence, of power and authority and an underlying hint of something else, something that made me feel somewhat afraid of her.
"I really should stop," she said stubbing out the hardly smoked cigarette. "It is not good for the teeth, and my doctor says even worse for the lungs. He showed me some terrible pictures in a medical book!" She looked at me with an expression half amused half sombre. "Madam Black told you just enough. I have done business with her twice; she was extremely well paid, that generous remuneration covered both the cost of the goods that she sold me and also buys her silence. Do you know why I wrote to you?"
I shook my head.
"Two reasons. One, an associate of mine who likes to switch occasionally visited you some months ago; no don't ask for his name; I won't tell you. He recommend that you might prove useful and that you had excellent facilities. Two your adverts then caught my attention. I have some suitable contacts both in shall we say the dungeon and the more traditional bedroom professions, in numerous major cities. Your adverts stood out enough to be of interest."
She suddenly laughed. My puzzlement must have been showing on my face. She leant forward across the table and smiled while looking directly into my eyes. A manicured slender finger was raised to her lips in the global gesture of silence and then moved across to my gently caress my lips in the same gesture. "You are one of us," she said quietly, "I can always tell. I knew as soon as I saw you sitting there. I always know, and I have never yet been wrong".
"One of us?"
Celine suddenly sat back in her chair and lit another of her black cigarettes, slowly exhaled a long stream of blue smoke then reached up and removed the wide-brimmed hat, placing it delicately down on the table by the menu and condiments tray.
"I buy and sell people", she said in a simple almost matter of fact way," then took a sip from her cup. "This is very good coffee, excellent in fact".
I was flummoxed and somewhat bewildered and not by her praise for the coffee although that's all I could think of to reply to. "It's the beans, they...they mix and grinds them, grind them I mean in-house, real coffee, not bought in stuff, real coffee" I stammered,
"Ah yes real," she said with a wicked smile. "Reality is always so much more pleasurable than mere fantasy is it not...or perhaps you have yet to find that out, oui?"
Once again, she paused, her eyes distant and I knew that she was no longer in this room with me but had momentarily travelled back through the years to a London coffee shop that had probably long ceased trading. Not far from where I sat there was an antique looking carriage clock on the ornate mantelpiece above the now covered over fireplace, mute testimony to the age of the hotel. I was conscious of how loud its ticking was in the stillness.
"Coffee" she suddenly said coming out of her reverie with a chuckle. "That's all I could think about; I was so...so".
"Flabbergasted" I offered.
She laughed aloud. "That's a grand word that I haven't heard in many a long year but yes very apt. Yes, I was flabbergasted as you have so succinctly suggested". She frowned a little. "Maybe I should have been forewarned from what little Madam Black had told me, but even so......"
Once again, we entered into a period of silence other than the loud ticking which somehow, I could not now block out. I let it run on for a brief period then coughed politely. "I suppose Celine then went on to elaborate somewhat?"
She flashed a wide smile at me and chuckled again. "Oh yes, I'll say she did. Indeed, more than I would have expected at such a strange first meeting. How she knew that she could trust me, I'll never know. Maybe she did possess that instinct she'd mentioned as to who would fit in with that certain unique group of people".
I nodded. "One of us?". I said trying to put some questioning emphasis on the 'us'.
"I don't think I will go into too much detail in that direction at the moment, maybe later or at our next meeting..."
I nodded again.
She chucked again. "Do you remember that 70's or was it 80's BBC comedy series, Yes Minister, Yes Prime Minister?" she suddenly asked.
"Very good, very funny and well written, one of my favourites."
"Mine too. One of us!" She laughed. "I remember there was one episode where the Prime Minister found out that the previous Head of the Intelligence service whom, everybody in the upper echelons of the extremely prim and proper private school educated British Civil Service had naturally assumed was 'one of us'. Actually, revealed in his memoirs after his death that he'd been 'one of them' all along, a Russian agent."
"I remember the episode, very amusing".
She shrugged. "It just popped into my mind then when you repeated the term that's all. In a way sort of appropriate because I was to find out that there was an awful lot of those so-called 'prim, proper, respectable and highly placed' powerful people encompassed within the term 'one of us'. Once more she trailed off into thoughtful silence.
I waited and then involuntarily glanced over again at the clock.
"No, no not at all, it's just..."
"I know, I know. The old woman is rambling yes, and you want to focus on the...well shall we say the 'meaty' bits. Well, so we shall, let me reload my thoughts for a second. Back to Celine, I think".
"In the café?"
She nodded and began to talk again.
She sat there quietly smoking her second cigarette and watching me with a calm slightly quizzical look. I wasn't at all sure what to say. My brain sort of tumbled things over like clothes in a washer. What had she said, and that other mistress told me, extreme, non-consensual, buying and selling people, generous remuneration, buying silence? "Buying and selling people," I eventually repeated rather blankly.
She nodded and smiled a slightly sinister cruel smile and then chuckled. "Well, maybe not quite. In the crudest form yes. To perhaps be a touch more accurate I buy people and then sell slaves and animals that once were...shall we say those very same people."
My brain was still in neutral. I did not understand what she meant at all and my incomprehension must have shown for she laughed again. I remember she had a rather deep roguish laugh somewhat at odds with her elegant appearance and seemed easily amused.
"Surely in your profession, you have heard rumours? Non! Well maybe not, security is taken very seriously, but of course, there are always whispers perhaps in the general fetish world. Whispers that not all fantasy is fantasy! Not advisable of course to repeat such whispers and action has had to been taken in the past to...to ensure such whispers grew no louder. Did you ever hear of Divine Valentine, American, quite well known a few years ago, used to be very active in New York?"
I shook my head.
"No, almost anyone who was anyone had shared her bed, for a price" Celine stubbed her cigarette our rather forcibly. "Well, as I say, used to be very entertaining company for those who could afford her prices but the stupid whore decided to whisper a bit too loud even though she'd been very well paid and even granted the privilege of visiting some of her ex-clients. That sort of visit should always guarantee that lips remain tightly sealed." Celine snorted. "She got greedy, stupid bitch and wanted to do more than whisper she decided she wanted to talk, unfortunately for her; she made the usual mistake of trying to extort money before she tried talking to the wrong people. It doesn't happen often but sometimes it does, and action has to be taken, quickly! They never seem to realise that whatever precautions they have taken can always be negated if you have the appropriate contacts. Strange I think!"
I didn't have a clue what she was talking about, and my confusion showed.
"She's not dead," Celine said simply then laughed again. "Your face, such a picture". She turned and snapped her fingers again. "More coffee s'il vous plaîte."
A waitress came over to take the order. I found that I was trembling slightly, I was afraid, afraid of this waif of a girl in front of me. Somehow there was something about her, something frightening and hadn't she just said, "She's not dead". What had I got myself into?
Celine was amused. "Don't worry Cheri" she chided. "As I said, I always know at once who I can trust". She broke off frowning. "Who or whom" she mused. "Sometimes English can be so confusing".
"Your English is perfect, but." I took a deep breath. "Are you saying, I mean are you telling me that you actually...sell people, real people, sell them - like old time slaves I mean and that American girl, I don't understand?"
There was a pause while the waitress brought the two coffees over to us. Celine paid her with a note and impatiently waved her away indicating to the gratified woman to keep the generous amount of change. She looked at her watch, a very expensive looking one I noted.
"I do not have a lot of time; it was convenient for me to meet with you today as I needed to be in London yesterday. I will, therefore, be briefer than I had planned so I will explain if you will listen".
I remember nodding. I recall a part of me was screaming at me to stand up and get out of the café, but another internal voice was saying no, sit, stay, listen and that one seemed louder. I sat and stayed.
"I work for my father in France. He is a very important man, a politician; you might even recognise him were I to show you a picture...no don't interrupt me" she held up a hand. "Yes, I know you were going to say that 'you are not that well acquainted with French politics', that matters not. My father is also wealthy, very very rich and I could say very many times over. He was not always a politician, but money can buy anything especially votes. He was and indeed still is...how you say a bandit, a criminal, yes, I know, all politicians are criminal yes...but he is highly respected these days and has influence, much influence and power, power in politics and even more power from his numerous lucrative enterprises."
She paused to take a mouthful of coffee and light the third cigarette. "One of those lucrative enterprises, indeed by far and away the most profitable involves dealing in slaves". She stopped abruptly to look at me intently, one slender finger absently raised to remove a shred of tobacco from her lower lip delicately.
"Slaves?" I said somewhat incredulously and even went as far as giving a little laugh. That wasn't appreciated.
"Slaves" she repeated a little coldly but quite calmly.
"Oh yes, and how many of these so-called slaves do you have?" I inquired in a slightly condescending tone.
"Six, but that's not counting my animals" the answer came straight back at me then she took another sip of coffee, placed the cup carefully back on its saucer and looked me full in the face to await the next response.
"Of course, that is my main interest. My father, he prefers his boys; he always did even when my mother was alive. I forget how many he has now, five maybe six down in the cellar of the Chateau I expect."
My bewilderment must have shown on my face for she smiled and then laughed again. "Slavery has always existed you know since the dawn of time. The strong and the rich have always enjoyed the ownership and servitude of those less fortunate. People assume that such a thing ended years, eons ago but not so. It exists in the world today especially in many parts of Africa and the Arab world, often quite openly in some places. In our case, that is to say, those of us who have both wealth and power can also enjoy the same privileges of ownership and servitude. It is our right, our destiny just as it is the destiny of certain others less fortunate to serve us as we desire."
I spoke slowly. "Are you telling me, telling me for real that you own slaves, I mean for real slaves...like, olden days like on the plantations, like in Roman times I mean, it's crazy, crazy!"
"Do I look crazy?" She frowned and then suddenly smiled again. "Well maybe this silly hat was a crazy choice, I was in a hurry, but I do like the veil. No, I am not crazy or mad or insane or anything else. I am just a wealthy sensual perverse woman who happens to be in the modern slave trade business, a business I very much enjoy. Much more fun than typing, teaching or nursing" she added with another friendly grin and far less tedious, "and you are getting interested are you not?"
She was right. I was interested. A small part of me was still screaming to head for the exit, but most of me was beginning to find this ridiculous scenario rather fascinating. Here I was sat in a West London coffee shop calmly or relatively calmly having a conversation about modern slavery, buying and selling people!
"I...I still don't understand. Animals, boys, what do you mean? Are you talking about people...people trafficking? I appended a term I remembered from a recent newspaper article about illegal immigration.
She pursed her lips. "Not in the sense you mean. I am not talking about little brown men from India or Pakistan trying to get across your English Channel for an assumed better life. She looked through the plate glass windows into the busy street outside her eyes momentarily following a red double-decker bus. "I wonder how many of them do feel that they have found a better life" she mused.
I waited toying with my coffee cup. I had a sudden yen for one of her cigarettes. I'd given them up a couple of years ago more for financial than health reasons. Strange, I hadn't felt the urge to smoke for ages until now. I resisted the temptation although I was sure I would have found it somewhat calming and calming was what I felt I needed right now.
"People it is not a term I recognise, not as you might mean it. That fat ugly waitress over there she is people likewise those two old businessmen by the door. People they are and will remain. Now instead take that couple sitting by the middle window. Young, attractive and very healthy looking. I like that long blond mane she's got and those muscles he's showing." I noticed her pink tongue flicked out to lick around her ruby red lipstick lips briefly. "Yes, I do like them. To me, they are merchandise, not people. Once they belong to me, they are no longer 'people' but merely property to be bought and sold, then used as desired. People as such no longer enters into it. Cruel maybe but that is how it has always been and for some of us and always will be. I have no feelings, no sentiment, no pity". Her voice trailed off as though for a moment as if she was reassessing herself then she turned back to me.
Her eyes looked at quite frankly. "My...my associate shall we say who visited you noticed you got a little too carried away during his session. You enjoyed beating him; he could see it in your eyes, sense it, even smell your desire to go that much further. Now tell me" She jerked her head in the direction of the couple by the window. "Tell me that you wouldn't love to have him or even her or even both screaming under your whip, begging to satisfy you in every way you could ever desire. That little blonde bitch going down between your legs desperate to please you lest you reach for your whip again. No don't answer I can see it in your face."
She was right. I did suddenly feel a sharp attack of the hots, and for a second or so I gazed at that innocent couple imagining having free rein with them in my dungeon. My fantasy ended abruptly as she laughed again.
"You are far to open" she scolded. "Your face tells me everything just as it did to my friend."
Wow" I retorted, you are serious, aren't you?
"Naturally, my time is valuable of course, but suitable new contacts are always worth my time".
"Not sure about the blonde though, not my scene but the muscles in the t-shirt"? I joked.
She shrugged indifferently. "A well-trained submissive tongue is just that, male or female may matter little as long as it serves and strives to the utmost to please its owner. However, we all have our little peccadillos; mine is primarily with my animals my fathers with his boys."
I must have looked a bit alarmed at the latter because she suddenly laughed and quickly qualified what she meant.
"No, I am not talking about my love of animals in that sense, well not for me anyway nor of male children. My father's private sexual preferments are for handsome young men but of a petite size and stature. A total contrast to himself. His old nickname was Bluto you know the Popeye cartoon villain." She laughed. "He does look similar especially on his yacht with his captains' hat on and a day's beard decorating the big brutes chin. He calls the young men 'his boys' and does so enjoy playing with them. I am always on the lookout for fresh ones for him" She broke off to laugh again. "I do believe that is why he lets me do this job; I know better than anyone else just what type to get for him".
"What does he do with them," I asked way to naively I realised immediately for she roared with laughter this time.
"My all this time in your profession and you have asked me that! Maybe you are a soft pussy cat, after all, Oui? What do you think he does with them? Play football on the beach, take them out for a few beers to chat up the girls in the cafes?" She laughed again and leaned across the table towards me. "He fucks their tight little bottoms until they squeal like the piglets they are of course, silly!"
She settled back in her chair smiling at me. "Always, they always start squealing long before they get any loving from his big...how you say in English slang, prick, dick, cocky?"
"All of those would suffice."
"Bon, one is always learning and improving. English is such a good language for dirty words" She frowned. "Try swearing in German, and you've forgotten why you were swearing before you've finished pronouncing the words! But now I forget my...what you call it?"
" Thread" I prompted.
"Ja das ist gut". She laughed again and winked. "I tell a fibber, that's about all I know" she admitted. "Yes, they always squeal for him. He has hands like...in English?" she paused again frowning then made a motion downwards with both hands.
"Hands like shovels or a spade, for digging," I said mimicking the motion.
"Ah oui, huge, first he catches them, they cannot escape him, no escape ever from his fun room and no clothes on them. No escape and then he drags them to his chair and over his knees then very big long painful spanking. No escape, no release, just big hands up down up down and lots and lots of squealing. He needs no whip just his hands. Very amusing for him and for me to watch but very painful for them".
She looked at me and laughed again. "My English is not so good when I get excited, I think, but I suspect, no I see that you are also feeling the same, non?"
I remember nodding. I did feel something of a hot flush and a definite stirring in my pussy. This was a window into a very different world, a world apparently without rules where the norms were permanently suspended. A frightening world but also a fascinating one and one that was beckoning to me and I suddenly shivered. Cold, no. Anticipation, excitement perhaps, because I already knew that where that opening led, I would follow. Was this girl for real? Instinct told me she was.
"But none of them are willing" I exclaimed.
"Of course, not silly. Where would the fun be in that! They are not even the sort that like the love of other men if they were so that way then they would not amuse my father. He is like them, he likes women and not men, but for special fun, he also loves his sweet little boys, I think he sees them different, not as men perhaps. He is very big, huge, they are like little...little delicate dolls in his hands, and he loves to play with them. But of course, he plays rough, too rough sometimes when he gets excited, and then his toys get broken especially those that find his cocky a bit too grand, big I mean and with too, what is the word, too much...?". She held both of her hands out palms toward me and made a quick repetitive pushing gesture.
"Vigorous" I suggested then frowned. "Broken? How do you mean broken?
She gave a casual shrug. "They are small and weak, he is big and powerful, always much too strong and big for them. They break like all toys. I tell him be careful, be kind, be gentle but he gets excited and forgets and so..." She broke off, picked up a rolled-up serviette in both hands and twisted it. "they break, they scream, they bleed too bad to be fixed up". She sighed. "It keeps me busy finding new toys for him, too busy I think, too much travel, I miss my animals".
I remember there was or seemed to be a long silence while I took in the full meaning of that phrase 'they break'. It was so...so casual the way she said it and with such indifference. Did she mean...surely not?
I looked across at her, so young, so chic, so composed sitting there taking a sip from her coffee cup and gazing at something through one of the large plate glass windows. Yet, had she just been talking about kidnap, rape and savage sodomy and even what sounded unless I was mistaken, cold-blooded murder?
"Animals?" I asked partly to break that silence, partially to cover the confusion I felt and somewhat out of curiosity.
She turned back to look at me gently placing her cup back on its saucer. Her eyebrows raised in a question. "You are still seated?" she asked then chuckled. "Not running away to find one of your nice pointy hat gendarmes to tell about me?"
I shook my head.
"Voila" she exclaimed triumphantly clapping her hands quietly together. "You see, was I not correct, I was right, I am always right, I told you I always know at once those who are like me and my... my special friends?" Her teeth flashed in a huge beaming self-satisfied smile.
I sat there quite still breathing deeply, hard to say I suppose what I was feeling. Curious, definitely curious but what else? Horrified, appalled, disbelieving? Strangely not. I suddenly felt calm, quite calm and realised that I did believe her and that at the same time I wasn't undergoing the emotions that perhaps I should be experiencing. Horror, shock, outrage! If anything, the very opposite. I was conscious of a keen desire to learn more mingled with a growing feeling of excitement that was stimulating more than just my imagination.
Celine looked at her watch again. "Time is how you say...passing, but I still have a little". She picked up her cup again, drained the contents, looked thoughtfully towards the serving counter then shook her head. "Enough I think".
"You have someone else to see?"
"Non, no, I have a flight later, to Paris. I must, no is not a must, but I like to be back home to my father's chateau by tonight. There are new ponies due to arrive tomorrow, so I wish to be there to welcome them to my stable".
"You like horses?"
"Non" She laughed that roguish laugh again and shook her head her eyes sparkling with mirth. "No, mon Cheri, not horses, I have no interest in real horses, too big, too clumsy, too...too boring, too wrong to be cruel to such simple creatures, yes?" She reached into her small elegant black leather handbag. I recognised the Chanel logo on it. Expensive with a capital E no doubt! A moment later she'd found a large wallet that bore the same symbol and extracted a photograph.
"Look". She leaned across the table towards me in a conspiratorial fashion, glanced quickly around the café and then thrust the picture at me".
I recognised Celine immediately. She was younger, several years younger late teens perhaps. She was smiling directly at the camera and looking very chic in her stylish jodhpurs, riding boots and a white blouse with a very deep cleavage showing almost to her waist. However, it wasn't her that had caught my eye and made me draw in my breath and gasp. Like Celine, I flicked a quick look around the café, but no one had noticed my little outburst, or if they had no one cared.
Celine chuckled at my reaction and winked cheekily. She seemed very amused and leaning back comfortably in her chair lit another of her cigarettes. "Two of my special ponies".
My hand was shaking a little as I glanced back down at the photograph I was holding. It was I suppose what you'd call a group pose. Three people, people? Celine stood in the centre both her bent arms were raised, holding onto what looked like straps. On either side of her stood a man and a woman, bigger than her quite a lot bigger especially the man. Unlike Celine, both were completely naked, no not naked; they wore some type of bondage body harness that looked to restrain but left most of their bodies uncovered.
The woman's large heavy breasts were prominently displayed as was her hairless pubic area. The man was similar except his penis looked to be covered by something resembling a smaller version of a medieval cod-piece! I remembered seeing something like it on a suit of armour during a school museum visit that had sent my friends and me into fits of giggles.
Boots, clunky, awkward looking things covered their feet and lower legs compared to the stylish riding boots Celine wore. You couldn't see their faces properly because their heads were also covered in harness, no bridles, those things were horse bridles I could see the bits in their mouths, and they had blinkers by the sides of their eyes.
Those eyes. They stared right back at me. The man looked angry, but the woman looked lost, hopeless, helpless. I realised then that those were not straps Celine was holding but reins, reins attached to their bits.
Celine had rummaged in her bag again and passed a second picture to me. "Back view," she said quietly.
Whoever had taken the first picture must have moved around to the rear of the group to take this second one. The trio was as before except Celine had twisted her head around to smile at the camera from this direction. The two people beside her still faced forwards, and I noted that they both had their arms pinioned behind their backs. I gasped again. Their thighs and buttocks were covered with a vicious crisscrossing pattern of nasty looking welts. The photos were black and white, but the image clarity was excellent. If they'd been in colour what sort of colour would those buttocks have been? I'd flogged a fair few sets in my time but never anywhere near to that cruel extent!
I looked back at the first photo. Yes, not quite as visible maybe due to contrast or the light or something but I could discern more whip marks on their thighs and oh...and on that woman's big plump breasts, that must have been painful!
There was no doubting either who'd done the flogging or more than one flogging probably. As well as the reins in her right hand I now noted that Celine was holding up a very long thin riding crop. Perhaps more of a cane than a riding crop. I looked again at the first photograph. The look in those people eyes, Celine's wide, cheerful smile and then at that whip or whatever in her hand. The expression 'enfant terrible' suddenly came to mind.
Celine leaned forward again to retrieve her photos. "Croissant and Truffle," she said casually as she returned the photographs to her bag. "A keepsake. Not quite my first animals but the very first ones I ever trained all by myself" Did I even detect a note of pride in her voice. A note also spoken with chilling callous indifference?
"Who...who are they?"
She shrugged again "You mean who were they? A German couple, married, bankers, they tried to cheat someone they shouldn't have and so ended up in my stable. Bad for them but good for me".
I suddenly realised now what she meant by animals and just how deadly serious she was. I knew about such games, of course; I'd indulged more than one client's fantasies at the end of a dog leash, pet playing they called it. This was on a different level and looking at those marks it certainly wasn't playing! I was about to make some remark as to how long had they stayed in the stable and how had they felt about it when I realised what a stupid thing it would be to say. This was undoubtedly not the consensual games I played you only had to look at those poor tits in the second photo to realise that!
Celine rechecked her watch and rose to leave. "I must go find a taxi. I will need to talk to you again, soon, I think. I need to explain much and what I am looking for and how you can help me to find it". She opened her bag again to produce a pen and a small book plus a long thin manila envelope. "A little deposit for my first order. Please give me your telephone number and address; I will contact you". She hovered expectantly. "I assure you that you will find working with me very safe, very profitable...maybe fun as well, I think for you, like me, fun will be much more important than money, perhaps?"
I gave her my details, how could I not. That photo, those buttock cheeks, those helpless eyes, that whip!
Celine blew me a kiss, placed the envelope down on the table and hurried to the door. I saw her wave frantically to someone or something, and a second later a black cab pulled up. I watched her climb in, and it pulled away to vanish in the London traffic quickly. I looked at the plain envelope then slit the end open with a fingernail. There were a thousand dollars in crisp brand-new notes.
"What did you do then," I asked.
"Ordered another coffee of course then begged a light off someone so I could salvage and smoke one of Celine's generous butts while I replayed everything in my mind and to stop my hands shaking! Talking of coffee let me get this coffee pot refreshed, then maybe you'd like to hear more about Celine, and of course, we mustn't forget poor Malcolm, should we?"
"No," I replied. "He's been waiting a while, and I sense that he's going to play a big part in the next instalment. Plus, the talkative lady from New York, what happened to her I wonder?"
I took advantage of the brief interlude to visit the bathroom. Service in the hotel was excellent because when I returned, there was a new ornate silver tray on the small table complete with a fresh pot of coffee, cups, cream, etc. The biscuits had been replaced by a two-tier cake stand replete with a half dozen or so tempting buns, tarts and a chocolate eclair.
“Those look very tempting.”
She wagged a finger at me. “Not the eclair, off limits I’m afraid,” she said, picking it off the stand and placing it on a plate ignoring the tongs supplied for that very purpose. Then she laughed and licked her long fingers.
I grinned at her and coaxed a large jam tart onto a plate with the aid of my index finger and added cream to my freshly poured coffee. We both took a few moments to appreciate the talents of the hotel’s pastry chef.
“My wishes and desires come first and foremost,” She said wiping some cream off her lips with one finger and then licking it clean. “I learnt that lesson from Celine a long time ago – but I am sure the jam tart would also have been delicious”.
“Excellent” I smiled politely, swallowed the last few crumbs and brushed a few escapees from off my chin and waited for her to resume the story.
“I could not get those two photos that she had shown me out of my mind. I drifted home. Indeed I don’t even remember leaving that café and going home. All I could think about were those two photographs. They hadn’t even been all that big, basically snapshots as we called them back then although the quality was good I recall, better than the average you got back from the chemist in those days. No cheap Kodak Brownie camera for her given what she had said about wealth, something more substantial, Swiss or German I fancy?”
“So, they made an impact.”
She nodded and gently placed her empty plate on the table. “They certainly did. I think on reflection perhaps more than anything else. “They say to hear is to forget, to see is to remember, to do is to learn. I am not sure I would have forgotten what I’d heard from Celine, but if I had I would still have remembered every feature on those photos that I’d just seen, and I did so desire to do and to learn”
I must have looked puzzled for she smiled at me. “You must realise that for someone like me those photos were like…like an invitation to something that had only lurked deep down in the depths of my most hidden and darkest fantasy’s. Imagine say you dreamed of being a top soccer player or perhaps a daredevil racing driver and suddenly you saw an open route onto the football pitch to play in the cup final or to drive a Ferrari in the Monaco Grand Prix. That’s is how I saw those photographs, like an inconceivable hidden door suddenly opening wide in a hitherto impenetrable wall that you knew had no openings”.
“That must have been a powerful feeling”.
She nodded. “More than that, call it a compulsion if you like, a craving that I half knew existed within me but had never realised to what extent. It was as if those images were imprinted on my brain. Strange as I’d only had a few seconds to see them. Even today, I can see that smile on Celine’s youthful face. That sweet smile so totally unabashed by what she was doing or judging from those whip marks what she had recently done! The way she stood there so casually and yet so totally in control holding those reins that controlled the two…two creatures, she so clearly owned!”
“You wanted to do the same,” I asked quietly.
She shuddered. “Oh yes, oh, yes, so very much. Celine was right she’d read me like a book, cover to cover in an instant. I wanted to be the one in that photo, the one in the middle and once the pictures had been taken to take those hapless creatures somewhere private and use that long thin whip she was holding, use it hard. Even now, all these years later, I tingle every time I think back, which is strange given how many times that lust has since been sated!”
“No guilt, no thoughts of…what was it…rushing off to find one of London’s pointy-hatted gendarme’s”
She laughed. “None whatsoever. I suppose that made me an evil person, but I didn’t feel that way, not for one single moment. Nope, I can truthfully admit it never even crossed my mind!”
“What did you feel?”
“Excitement, anticipation, impatience, as I recall. I wished I’d asked Celine for her telephone number. She was right; I was suddenly a thousand dollars richer, and that had barely registered on me. The money suddenly wasn’t important, not the least bit important; it was the action that I desired, or fun as she’d put it”.
“I’m curious,” I said. “That couple, the German couple in the photographs, did you feel nothing for them especially as you realised that what you were looking at was real, that they certainly were not on the end of those reins Celine held out of their own free choice. Were you truly not shocked in any way?”
Once again, she went quiet and seemed to stare unseeingly into the distance for a while before answering. “I’ve sometimes wondered about that myself. I should have been shocked, of course, and I mentioned emotions before that, perhaps I should have experienced when Celine was talking. I think my brain was listening to all that she was saying but still not taking it all in fully. I don’t think it was till I looked at those photographs that all she had said fully registered.”
She paused to take a sip of coffee. “I think it was a bit like a jigsaw, I had bits of the picture and the straight edges together, but it was happening to fast for me, it wasn’t till the end when I saw those images that suddenly I saw the complete picture on the box.”
“And liked it?”
She nodded. There was a tiny chink as she carefully returned her cup to its saucer. “No, I wasn’t shocked. I gasped initially when I saw those whip marks on them as I realised just what it all meant. On reflection, that wasn’t pity or sympathy though. Astonishment perhaps and maybe envy. They were quite plainly so helpless and so…so available. You could do anything you wanted to them. No pathetic annoying little voice would be whining; please stop now I’ve had enough, no safe word, no session limit. No, I felt absolutely nothing for them, only a sort of lust for me.”
“They might also have had, well not so pathetic little voices shouting no more they’d had enough” I quietly pointed out.
“True” she conceded “but then they weren’t in a position to do so, and I don’t suppose Celine would have taken any notice anyway. Probably the very opposite, I know I saw her at work and play enough times. Fun and profit as she said, and for her, it was almost always fun, hers!”.
We were briefly interrupted by a polite knock on the door. A visit from management I surmised judging by the smart suit after the visitor had been granted admittance to enquire if everything was to madams satisfaction deferentially. Evidently madam carried quite some weight in the establishment. I knew that just a single night in a suite like the one we were in would probably cost almost as much as a family of four spent on a weeks package holiday including flights to one of the new Spanish resorts!
Once the door had closed behind him, she resumed her narrative. “It was all about power. Power and control. The power that the ordinary person cannot comprehend. No big global conglomerate CEO sitting in his deluxe sixty-something floor huge office wields that sort of power, no Western politician either nor the richest industrialist. Maybe the odd third-word despot or Arab Prince does” She paused. “Well actually I know of more than one Arab Prince or Princess that does come to that, but then again slavery and all its attendant cruelty has never completely died out in that part of the world. You understand what I mean, though?”
I nodded to show that I did. “Absolute power and they say that absolute power… corrupts”
“That is true.” She gave a sort of shiver that was neither from cold nor fear but something else entirely. “You have no idea just how it corrupts and how quickly once corrupted” she fell silent for a moment. “…and once corrupted there is no going back not ever. I have never had the desire to experiment with drugs nor even been intoxicated, but I fully understand addiction. Once you have sampled your own particular nirvana, there is no way you would ever wish to descend back down to the banal limits of normal behaviour, no way”. She gave a sort of half sigh then abruptly switched again and pointed to the cake stand. “Please, eat up, they are very good….and expensive!”
I laughed, and we both refilled our plates before I asked. “So, I assume then that Celine contacted you again?”
“Of course. I was, as I recall somewhat impatient after our meeting. I let my own business go completely to hell, almost. Suddenly I was no longer interested in pandering to the pathetic fantasies of various submissive wannabe’s! Apart from realising how bored I was by such, I was a little afraid, afraid that in my mood of the moment I might actually go too far with some wretched client and get myself into a whole heap of trouble. My deep yearning to see those captive pathetic hopeless dull, broken eyes and a well whip marked body might get the better of me! I lived in a sort of ‘limbo’ for the better part of a fortnight until she phoned me as promised”.
“Another cafe meet?”
She shook her head. “No, this time she suggested we meet at a house belonging to an old friend of hers in London and certainly not the best part which surprised me a little. She told me that it might be useful to see at first hand why she had contacted me, so she gave me an address and asked me to meet her there at three pm the following day”.
“I’d imagine that you were somewhat impatient once she’d called?”
“Impatient!” That hardly covered my mood. I’d been in a frenzy of frustration…. I wonder if you can have a ‘frenzy of frustration’? Anyway, you know what I mean? I’d been wound up for two weeks wondering if she really would get in touch and if she did, where would it lead?”
“I’d have thought a thousand dollars in a brown paper envelope would have been a substantial indicator that she would get in touch” I observed.
She laughed. “Probably but somehow in my eagerness that had virtually slipped my mind. Strange since by nature up to then I’d been quite an avaricious bitch! I spent the afternoon, night and following morning in a mood of impatient anticipation until it was time to head out for the meeting. No need to dress up Celine had said, come as you are, nothing formal. We just need to have another chat, and I want you to see how I operate”.
“Well, as you can imagine I was there in good time, actually twenty minutes early. I had to double check the address, more than once I recall as I walked towards it. It was in the middle of one of those long bleak rows of soot-stained tall, narrow and begrimed old Victorian terrace houses somewhere behind King’s Cross railway station. Seedy I thought, seedy and run down and certainly not the sort of properties I would have associated with a rich, elegant girl like Celine, or at least the Celine I’d met previously. I kept wondering if I’d got the address wrong, written down road instead of avenue, something like that perhaps, but I also knew I hadn’t done that. No way would I have made a simple mistake like that”.
“Eagar but accurate”, I murmured.
“I knew I was early, but I decided to ring the bell of the right house anyway. Somehow, I couldn’t bring myself to wander aimlessly around the block for twenty or so minutes. The door was painted a horrible purple colour I remember, garish! The bell was also too loud, a medley of chimes that seemed to go on and on. No need to press the button a second time with that racket blasting out!
Even so, I almost did. I seemed to be standing there for ages before I heard someone sliding bolts and unlocking the door to admit me. I found a pair of dark eyes staring at me curiously through a narrow gap betwixt door and frame, and a quiet low voice requested my name. I confirmed who I was, and the door swung wide to admit me.
It wasn’t Celine who had opened the door; it was a much older woman. I immediately had a vague feeling that I knew her or that I had seen her before, but where or when eluded me, but the feeling was very strong. She was attractive in a severe hawkish way, probably in her late forties, maybe even older but looked as though she kept herself in shape from what I could see through the semi-transparent black negligee she was wearing.
“You are early aren’t you,” she said and then smiled her face softening . “no doubt eager to join our merry little band”. She laughed. “Come in please, close the door behind you, push it hard till you hear the catch lock it sometimes sticks. Upstairs, please follow me”.
“I did as she requested and followed her up to the first floor and into a large room with a big bay window that overlooked the road outside. It was comfortably furnished with a lot of old heavy furniture, the chairs and sofa’s looked to have been extensively refurbished with more modern materials in a variety of light pastel colours mostly shades of pink. It was definitely all very feminine and rather girlie. Along one wall, there were several shelves which upon which stood or sat a large collection of dolls. There was also a couple of glass display cases that also contained a variety of dolls that ranged from modern Barbies to old Victorian pot or paper mache ones but with a common theme. Pink. Every outfit was pink, ranging from dark reddish to ultra shocking. There were even a few ancient playworn Teddy bears but again dressed in waistcoats and trousers that followed the common theme.
“The boudoir my little place for rest and relaxation,” My host told me gesticulating with another laugh and graceful wave of one slender white arm. “Please be seated, Celine will not be long, she is dressing, you caught us…” She laughed again. “Well, let’s say we were entertaining ourselves with a newly acquired toy”.
“You’ll see” she smiled, gestured again to the comfortable chairs and disappeared through a door into another room while I took a seat and thoughtfully racked my brains, where had I seen her before. Tall, late forties maybe even fifties, natural, ageless beauty, severe even harsh expression till she smiled, tall, slim, a cascade of raven dark long curling hair down her back. Where had I seen her before?
“Ah, there you are, early I think are you not” Celine came through the same door the older woman had just used. She smiled at me and wagging a finger as she spoke, then quickly bent down to embrace me and gave me a quick peck on both cheeks continental fashion before seating herself in a chair opposite me. She reached into the pocket of her jeans to withdraw cigarettes and lighter, lit one and nodded her head back towards the closed door behind her.
“She, she will tell me off”, she shrugged her shoulders, “she always does, but we all have our bad habits, some of them much naughtier than others!” she winked and laughed then exhaled a long plume of blue smoke. The sparkle seemed to fade from her eyes a little, and she looked at me both with curiosity and…and I thought, a slightly challenging expression.
“So, you came and…” she glanced at a nearby wall clock, “came early, so eager perhaps?”
I nodded. I was suddenly nervous. This girl was frightening in a way that I could not describe. She was smaller than I was and more lightly built. Younger but so assured and still so damn elegant even in a simple shirt, old faded blue jeans tucked into a scuffed pair of black low heeled knee boots. Her short hair was tousled as if she’d just got out of bed, yet! Damn her. I wasn’t dressed all that different, but where she looked fresh and chic I was probably more borderline scruffy!
Celine still regarded me quizzically while she took another long drag on her cigarette and slowly exhaled another cloud of smoke. “I think,” she said. “I think that you were very eager for my phone call, yes she asked shrewdly?”
I nodded again and swallowed a little nervously. “Yes, I think it was those photos that you showed me more than anything else, I couldn’t get them out of my mind”.
Celine laughed with delight and wagged her finger at me again. “Ah so, my two old beauties, the keepsake for my memory my…my what you call it, my …?”
“Reminiscence, remembrance, souvenir…” I offered.
She shrugged. “Whatever, I like to keep that one anyway”, She suddenly giggled. “Had I known I would have brought some others for you to look at, much more wicked I think”. She laughed that deep laugh of hers that seemed such a contrast with the rest of her sophisticated persona.
I jumped in my chair as I heard a muffled scream from the next room then someone was shouting, angry and shouting but I could not make out the words The walls must be quite substantial and the doors I’d already noticed were old and solid wood, not your modern plywood veneer and cardboard bracing flimsy things. There was another muffled scream and then silence.
I looked back to Celine who did not appear the least bit disturbed then again to the door and finally back to Celine who just smiled at me. She took one final puff on her cigarette which by now had a long pillar of grey ash dangling precariously off the end, looked around for a non-existent ashtray then left her chair to cross over to a row of pot plants on the window ledge, burying her butt in one of them.
“Sshh” she put a finger to her lips as she resumed her seat pausing briefly to rub some discarded ash into the carpet with one small booted foot. “So, you wish to know why I ask you to come here today?”
Again I said nothing but merely nodded.
“You met my friend Darcia” she jerked her head again towards the other room. “This is her house, one of them anyway”.
I was about to nod yet again, but recollection abruptly smote me. Darcia! I did know her. She was an ex-dancer, a choreographer and quite a well know one. Something of a mystery woman as she tended to shun publicity unlike those so-called talentless celebrity Bimbo’s that seem to beam at you from every tabloid newspaper these days”.
My face creased into a smile at the sudden quizzical expression on her face, and I shifted slightly to find a more comfortable position in my chair and waited for her to continue her narrative.
“I’d met her once some years before at an audition in the West End. They were doing a revival of some old musicals but with a modern update and she was the main choreographer also doing the dancer recruitment. Heck, I even made it through the first three rounds but got culled on the first trial of the second day. That’s where I knew her from. She did a lot of stage work but never hung around for the glamour of opening nights and the like. Same with awards, she’d won a few but never collected them in person. One of those glamorous people who appeared pretty bland and uninteresting to the press, so they left her alone. I remember thinking she was perhaps not quite as bland and uninteresting after all?”
Celine continued. “Darcia has been recruiting for us for a long time, a very long time before I even started. She’s been my friend and mentor since I was in my mid-teens. A very close friend” Celine winked and chuckled. “I learned a lot from her”.
“Does she live here?”
“Non. This is her place for privacy and where she brings the sweet little innocent packages that I buy” She laughed again. “Also, she likes to play a little first. This house, this street is very, very how you say, invisible? No, that is not correct?”.
“Nondescript” I offered helpfully. “It means it does not stand out, unexceptional, ordinary, blends in with the background, and so forth.”
She clapped her hands together. “Perfect. Non, nondayscrypt, is a perfect word, I think. I shall remember it, so perfect for much of my world and how it must always be. Ordinary. Yes, she keeps this house just for her fun and for business with me. Most times, she lives with her husband and children in a big country house. He is a big executive in the TV business, he….”.
She broke off at a noise from the next room that sounded as though something had been knocked over. I heard an angry female voice shout “Idiot”, this time loud enough to hear distinctly and it was immediately followed by the loud squeal of someone or something in pain. The door opened, and as per my first meeting with Celine, I was to gasp again in a mixture of shock and surprise.
Darcia entered a tall picture of mature long legged stylish, sensual femininity still dressed in that flimsy black transparent negligee loosely belted at the waist. She was undoubtedly a beautiful woman, but that was not what had elicited my reaction. In one hand she held a long thin bamboo cane and in the other a short leather leash.
“Heel bitch” Darcia snarled and at the same time flicked the cane quickly up and down to crack sharply across the bare bottom of the girl on the other end of her leash. “and head down, keep your damn eyes on the floor and not on your betters as you’ve been taught. This lady is no concern of yours, she is not the one who will be buying you, and she’s certainly not here to free you!”.
Celine laughed at me. “Close it Cherie” she gestured to her mouth with one finger and giggled.
I knew what she meant. My jaw must have dropped a mile, well that’s what it felt like, not very ladylike as I’d gawped so I promptly close my mouth as Celine chuckled again. She turned to Darcia perhaps you should show the fat bitch off a little darling. I know she’s nowhere near fully trained, but you have taught her so beautifully well in such a short time”.
A thin smile formed on Darcie’s lips. A long shapely naked leg capped with a high heeled sandal emerged from the negligee to deliver a quick, vicious kick to the crawling girl who yelped in pain. Darcia strolled to a circular mat in the centre of the room callously dragging the girl along with her.
“Sit, bitch, beg.”
I watched open mouth as the girl abruptly, unmoving knelt upright, back straight, ridged and holding her bent arms out in front of her palms and fingers down in a perfect parody of a begging dog. Her terrified eyes flickered in my direction once, caught my fascinated gaze but only for a brief second before they quickly looked away and downwards.
Darcia smile became a touch warmer as she also looked at me. “Susie, with no zee” She laughed and nudged the girl with her foot. Mind you; I expect her new owner will find a more appropriate name for the fat bitch. Miss roly-poly too much puppy fat here who imagined she could actually be of interest to me in my latest production.” She gave the girls thigh a kick with one pointed toed sandal.
The girl flinched but made no sound, but she did twitch with nervous fear and maintained the position she’d been commanded to adopt. On closer inspection, I noticed that she was trembling her body slightly shaking with fear. I could see the tremors, and I knew why she shook. That cane in Darcie’s hand was not for show the girl's breasts were covered with vicious red and purple wheals presumably from that same cane.
“Down, walk, heel” Darcia commanded. Instantly the girl dropped back to hands and knees and obediently crawled to heel behind her towering tormentor as she was paraded backwards and forwards before my awed gaze.
It wasn’t just her plump breasts that had received some painful attention. Her bottom I’d noticed was likewise covered with cruel marks from that threatening cane but to a far greater extent. God, those must be painful. She was quite pretty and probably no older than nineteen or twenty I thought. Maybe five feet four with short blonde hair. Nor was she fat. She’d probably been pushing her luck with her figure and particularly her bust, trying to make a career as a dancer. Shapley yes but fat no. A lovely little thing I thought and quite an eye catcher under the right circumstances.
“Not bad is she” Celine commented as if reading my mind.
“Who, who is she?”
“Nobody important” Darcia answered. “She moved over to the sofa and took a seat next to Celine. One finger pointed down, gesturing toward the floor by her feet. “Down, curl up” she commanded, giving the leather leash a savage jerk as she spoke.
I watched as the girl hastened to the spot and quickly curled herself into a tight ball, head tucked in and knees drawn up so that Darcia could conveniently rest her feet on the terrified girl as if such an action was a mere matter of course.
“You have been smoking” Darcia’s nose twitched, and she addressed Celine rather coldly. The latter pulled a face, shrugged and then pouted. “So, what” she answered cheekily.
Darcia said nothing for a second and then with an abrupt motion she raised the thin bamboo cane and brought it down in a brutal stroke on the already battered bottom of the girl beneath her feet. The unfortunate thing screamed in agony and briefly made as if to move to grasp her tortured rump then as if remembering something abandoned the move and resumed her former position.
“That’s what, my nicotine-addicted little French pussy licker,” Darcia said and pointed to the most recent welt on the girls bottom. She then waggled the cane at Celine. “You want to smoke in my house then you pay the price, six I think this evening”.
“Six” Celine protested, but I noticed she didn’t seem too perturbed.
Darcia suddenly turned to me. “What do you think, six or maybe a few more for this naughty girl who so flagrantly breaks my house rules. You think she deserves more?”
They both looked at me. “Ah well” I floundered. “Depends how hard I suppose”.
“Mmmm, that will be for me to decide I think,” said Darcia. “Anyway, I need to put this bitch away for now, and you two need to discuss business. Up!” she ordered, dragging the girl back into a crawling position. “Heel. Back to your kennel bitch, you can come out and play with us both again tonight”.
They left the room, and I didn’t think that poor beaten puppy girl looked over happy at the idea of providing further ‘entertainment’ later that day. I turned back as the door closed to gaze at Celine.
“Bitch” Celine muttered. “I know she will hurt me tonight now.”
“Do you like that?”
Celine laughed and considered for a moment. “Sometimes it can be fun. I like the kiss and make up afterwards. Anyway, it reminds me to be careful when I play with my ponies” She laughed once more. “I am how you say the total pervert, no?”
I decided it was time to change the subject. “That girl, who is she?”
“You mean, who was she?” Celine replied, then shrugged her shoulders. “A nobody. She had dreams of becoming a dancer on the West End stage. Came down from the North for some auditions. The foolish girl poured her heart out when she was interviewed, perhaps thinking it would improve her chances.” Celine laughed a cold, cruel laugh. “Well she was right but not as she imagined, it did improve her chances of finding a new role in life. Grew up in a Care Home, no family, no address other than a temporary bed in a London hostel, no one anywhere to ask questions.”
“So, you kidnapped her?”
“Non, not me, Cherie. Darcia does that for me” She giggled. “Oh, all those poor little bitches with stars in their eyes, all so eager to become famous and instead they just find Darcia and her cane, never more to be seen. Well, only seen by a privileged few”.
“How, how many?” I asked.
Celine shrugged again. “I don’t know. She was doing it before I meet her. Quite a few I suppose, it depends on many things, I think. What project Darcia has going and how many apply and of course only a few a very few will be suitable.” Once again, she laughed. “Sometimes she gets so mad. She gets the hots for some little cutie but can’t touch her because it would be far too dangerous. Poor Darcia, so hot and so ready to be cruel but so helpless. I love it when she gets like that!”
“This, this is what you want me to do, isn’t it?” I asked.
“Of course. Occasionally you will get a suitable candidate, someone, to interest me. Someone who can disappear while paying for their fantasy only to find it becomes a reality. Never to be seen again just like little Susie going down to the cellar. That why I invited you over today. I wanted you to get a little taste”.
I shook my head. “I hardly get any women clients,” I said probably rather naively.
Celine laughed yet again. “I know that silly. It does not matter; the market is extensive and, in some case, not too fussy. Supply and demand, and as you can imagine, demand is the greater that makes it very very profitable” She paused and jerked downwards with a thumb. “Do you think Darcia just deals in girls eh? She sees a lot of male dancers as well. Men dancers are usually very athletic, and sometimes very pretty and pretty boys also sell for a good price. Very popular with certain rich men” She brought both of her hands together and made an obvious but obscene gesture a couple of times. Then giggled. “Especially those that are virgins and are not liking other boys!”
“How, how much…?”
Celine screwed her face up thoughtfully. “It varies every time. No two are ever the same. Sometimes I have a particular request. I usually then tell my suppliers what I am looking for when that happens. Of course, those are always the most expensive deals. Other times I buy whatever is available. You'd be surprised; everything has a price. She gave me several examples, and I realised what she meant. Even the low price was way beyond anything I would ever have expected to lay out on a single purchase, and that included buying a small house one day.
“Wow” was all I could say then a thought struck me. “That girl what is going to happen to her?”
Celine shrugged with total indifference. ” She’s been sold. I had an enquiry. I called Darcia; she already had her eye on that bitch. It was all too easy. An offer to the stupid little cow, a three-month contract as a dancer for a pop movie being shot in Spain, was she interested?” Celine laughed. “Like the fish that is greedy for the big fat worm and bites without thinking about a possible hook. “She checked out of her cheap hostel the same day with all her pathetic possessions. Darcia picked her up at a bus stop and brought her straight back here to fill out the paperwork and organise a flight ticket.”.
“But there was no paperwork”.
She smiled and shook her head. “No, no paperwork, no ticket and no job. Just Darcia and her playroom in the cellar and Anne of course, Anne and her whips.”
“Bad, a very bad woman” Celine gave a shiver. “A friend of Darcia’s a very good friend. I think perhaps her lover many years ago when she was young, but now, now she is old, old, and very…how you say,…I forget, these lines?” She screwed her face up and pointed to the corner of her eyes.
“Old and wrinkled”.
“Oui?” She looked puzzled. “Wrinkled! Is like crinkled?”.
I remember that I laughed. “Sort of but different. Crinkle is, well more, well you might say more used for inanimate objects, crinkled up paper for instance.”
It was absurd, and as I was too experience similar situations on so many future occasions till they became so commonplace, I no longer noticed the incongruity. It was slightly surreal to be sitting there having that discussion only moments after a terrified and beaten young woman had been led from the room like a dog on the end of a leash and then who was this mysterious Anne and whips?
Celine answered my unspoken question. She lives here, looks after the house, dolls and dogs for Darcia as well as anything Dar has acquired for me, or maybe for herself. As I said, Dar lives in the country with her family, so is only here perhaps one or two days a week. Someone needs to feed her pets and keep an eye on things, make sure all is right, and she is just the type to make sure there is no trouble. No one I think makes problems for her unless they are foolish!”
The door opened, and Darcia hurried back in. Apart from losing the girl somewhere, she’d also changed into a simple but expensive looking roll neck jersey dress and a pair of high heeled knee boots. She smiled at me and said. “Nice to have met you but I must run I am already late. Your fault darling” she chided Celine as she bent down to kiss her, and it wasn’t just a quick peck on the cheek I noted. “I will be back around eight; you will be ready and waiting for me, won’t you, my pet, or….” Her voice took on a colder, more ominous tone, “maybe I will let Anne play with you a little first!” She laughed at Celine's expression. “Anne will do the necessary when you’re both ready”, she tossed back at the pair of us.
Celine muttered something quietly in French that didn’t sound very complimentary and raised one hand in a languid half-wave as the woman whom I now presumed to be her lover, or maybe one of her lovers, made a hasty departure pausing only to snatch up a leather shoulder bag and a bunch of keys. I turned questioningly to Celine. I wondered what ‘necessarys’ this Anne had in store for us, and I was still somewhat unsure as to why I was there. Clearly, she had wanted me to meet Darcia and to see that poor girl and was this what was expected of me? To become a procuress in a similar fashion.
“Let’s go downstairs and meet Anne; she can show you the cells, playroom and kennels.”
“Darcia like dogs, what breed?”
Celine who’d arisen to open the door squealed with laughter as though I’d just made the world’s funniest joke. “Come see’ she chortled and led the way downstairs to the ground floor and then down a passage through to a spacious well-equipped kitchen and then via a stout door and a flight of stone steps to the basement.
A muffled scream suddenly sounded from behind another substantial wooden door that I assumed would lead into the old cellar area. It was repeated even louder and more anguished. It was a man who was screaming, and I had never heard anyone scream in pain like that. I’d had many of my clients scream at times, but none had ever screamed like that, not in what sounded like total agony of the worst imaginable kind
Celine giggled and raised a forefinger to her lips. “Shh, I think Anne is busy, no? Let us go see the fun” she added, opening the door.