LeBeau’s hands are on Flavia as soon as the door shuts and the blackness closes upon them. His lips are on her neck, and his right hand claws at her butt while his left hand cups her right breast. Flavia wants to protest, but he pulls her to him. His erection is huge through his pants. It grinds into her crotch. His lips close on hers. His tongue finds hers. He tastes like a mixture of gin and peppermint, but what fills Flavia’s nostrils is his lust; it’s desperate and consuming, like he wants to meld with her.
‘Wait,’ Flavia says.
LeBeau spins her; Flavia plants her hands into the wall to steady herself. He hikes her skirt up. One hand runs down over her panties. Flavia’s moistness greets him. She hisses, embarrassed that she is so willing. His stubbled chin brushes her neck.
‘Well?’ he says.l
He’s not asking her. It’s a challenge. And an out. She can decline him. She has that choice. But she doesn’t entertain notions of escape. Only one thing is now on her mind: she not only wants to take up the challenge, but smash it, and teach LeBeau a little something about her. Who knows how many people he’s done this to? She’s going to teach him that she’s different.
‘Let’s go,’ she tells him.
He grabs her wrist and drags her after him. Flavia almost stumbles. The ground disappears under her foot. LeBeau catches her and hoists her into a fireman’s carry. Flavia’s breath explodes from her lungs as each step LeBeau takes jolts his shoulder into her stomach. They’re heading down stairs – that’s why it’s so rough.
When they reach the bottom LeBeau lets Flavia slide from his shouldecr. A narrow hallway unfolds in front of her, defined only by dim lights from small, round portals at regular intervals on either wall. They continue endlessly on the most gradual decline.
LeBeau’s hand tightens around her wrist. Flavia must canter to keep up to him. Her skirt remains bundled around her hips. She can see her panties are askew, exposing her small tuft of pubic hair and the way the inside of her thighs glisten. She tries to adjust the hem of her dress but it’s too difficult at this pace. Their footsteps echo and Flavia sees the floor gleam in the light. It looks like marble. Then there are other sounds. Flavia cocks her ear forward. Moans, perhaps? As LeBeau and Flavia progress deeper into the hallway, the sounds grow louder and become unmistakeable. Yes. Moans – and no disputing what sorts.
‘Where are we?’ Flavia asks, but she knows. Of course she does. The stories of the basement aren’t apocryphal at all.
She digs her heels into floor. Her right heel squeaks. LeBeau tries to continue forward. Flavia won’t have it. LeBeau spins. The portal just to the right lights half of his face. The visible eye gleams. Now uncertainty once again flickers through Flavia’s mind.
LeBeau jerks her to him and wraps her in his arms. His mouth closes on hers. Flavia squirms and thrusts her hands into his chest. He grasps her by the buttocks and lifts her, shoving her hard against one of the portals. Dim light caresses her face. LeBeau’s erection prods insistently at Flavia’s crotch through his pants. His chin brushes her neck as he kisses her jaw.
She blinks owlishly. Another portal shines opposite them. As Flavia’s eyes acclimate, she realises it is not a light as she first thought. It’s a portal in a door.
Through it, she can see people, naked but for leather face masks, forming a ring around three men, glistening with sweat, suspended from the ceiling by their wrists. A woman kneels and orally gratifies the first. Another woman straps the second with a leather switch. Another woman – perhaps wearing a strap-on (it is hard to tell from this angle) – appears to be buggering the third.
LeBeau’s hand slides up to Flavia’s hip. Flavia can feel her panties tighten through her crotch and up the crack of her buttocks as LeBeau wraps his fist around the waistband, threatening to tear it.
Flavia looks down the hallway. How many portals are there? And what’s behind each? Then she realises that if she’s pressed against a portal, there must be a door behind her. She cranes her head to look, but the door gives way. LeBeau carries her inside.
The room is expansive, but featureless and empty. The floors are striped black marble. Black curtains with silver trim hang from the walls. Circling the perimeter of the room above them are three rows of black balconies – like there would be at the theatre – with gleaming charcoal balustrades. In the middle of the room is a round bed.
LeBeau drops Flavia onto the bed. She bounces, then settles. The bed’s surface is velvet, and is soft and squishy like a waterbed. Flavia looks up to the ceiling, which is ringed with lights. Directly above her is a dim circular glow – like a spotlight waiting to illuminate them. She feels now like she’s part of a show.
Flavia shrieks as LeBeau yanks her panties aside and burrows his face into her crotch. She arches her back and gasps, her hands clutching the bed, her thighs balancing on LeBeau’s shoulders, her heels digging into his back. She closes her eyes and moans.
LeBeau’s hands slide up under her dress and dislodges her bra. He cups her breasts and squeezes her nipples. Flavia shuts her eyes and squeals. She drives her crotch down onto LeBeau, and knots her hands into his hair. His stubble scratches but tantalises the inside of her thighs. It’s the most wonderful sensation. Flavia whines. This is going to be quick. She can’t help it. Dante has never been like this, never made her feel like she is flying.
Dante … poor Dante. She cocks her right leg back, pushes the sole of her right foot on LeBeau’s shoulder, and prepares to push him away. His tongue delves into her. Unbidden, Dante’s face appears in Flavia’s mind: he mopes, the way he does, maudlin and helpless and seeking assurance. She knows he’s needy and insecure and that he’s always been worried he’ll lose her. Now that the day has come, the sudden wellspring of guilt contends with the ecstasy she’s experiencing.
Flavia opens her eyes.
And finds she’s inside the Red Lounge.
* * *
Flavia sits up and tries to push LeBeau away. The shock of where they are shunts her pending orgasm. Thoughts of Dante flit away.
The Red Lounge is muted, the sounds of the pianist, of conversation and the general ambience coming as if through water. Everybody appears dimmed. It so reminds Flavia of looking through her sunglasses in a darkened room that she touches her face to make sure they’re not on.
She turns onto her knees, pulling her dress down for the sake of modesty, but nobody appears the least bit interested in her. LeBeau’s arms wrap around her. He tries to hike her skirt up. Flavia slaps his hands away. He is unfazed. She swivels to push him away and but overbalances on the soft velvet surface, falling forward. Her hand shoots out and splays seemingly in mid-air.
‘What …?’ Flavia asks.
She struggles to her feet, her hands feeling the way in front of her like she was a mime. There is glass all around her. That’s why sounds are muted. That’s why everything seems to dim.
‘Where are we?’ she asks.
LeBeau gets up behind her. One arm folds across her chest, the way one might wrap their partner in an embrace. His chin presses against her neck. His lips are so close to her ear that Flavia can feel their warmth, can feel them tickle as he speaks.
‘We’re inside an octagon,’ LeBeau says.
‘What?’ Flavia spins in his embrace.
‘The octagons inside Prudence. We’re inside the one in the Red Lounge.’
Flavia remembers them, mirrored and ostentatious. She shivers. There is a thrill, standing here, as if part of the Red Piano Bar, as if part of the crowd watching the pianist, but with all the patrons unawares.
Two couples sit at a table right in front of her, all four seeming to look directly at her. Flavia unconsciously folds her arms in front of her, but LeBeau takes her wrists and straightens her arms. He draws the shoestring straps of her dress down over her shoulders, and pushes her dress down from her torso, taking her unfastened bra with it. His hands cup her breasts, and distend her nipples. Flavia gasps. The four people continue to stare, their eyes so fixed, their expressions so inscrutable, she is sure they must see her and LeBeau and be stunned at the display.
‘Are you sure—?’
Spinning her, LeBeau slams her against the glass wall. It’s cold against her naked back. She wants to push off it but LeBeau is upon her. Flavia lets herself be carried away in his lust. He kneels, pulling her dress, bra and panties down her legs and letting them bundle around her ankles. He hoists her right leg over her shoulder and attacks her clit. Flavia wails. She can’t help it, and has never been a wailer, but she wails.
LeBeau runs kisses back up over her pubic hair and belly, taking her right breast in his mouth, suckling at her nipple. He continues to rise, letting his blazer slip from his arms and pulling his shirt over his head. He is muscly – not sharply defined, but has the build of a man who works out often. His chest hair has been trimmed into a neat V down his pectorals.
Flavia lowers herself to her knees and unzips his pants. LeBeau is not wearing underwear, and his cock, large and hard, has a slight bend to the left. Flavia kisses its head, takes it in her mouth, then runs her lips back and forth over it. LeBeau’s hands close on her head and he urges her to quicken. Flavia lets him fall from her mouth. He may think he’s in control, but she wants him to know that’s not the case. She’ll control him just as she controls Dante in bed, just as she controlled her lovers before Dante.
She strokes LeBeau through the barrel of her hand, remembering what seemed so long ago to be her doubts, her second thoughts and a recommitment to Dante. How quickly that changed. She doesn’t know how she got up here – perhaps some pylon which rises into the octagon – but enjoys the decadence of the secret. She’s not just going to fuck LeBeau, but fuck him in this location … she’s not sure how to define it. Exotic? Mysterious? Unbelievable? All of the that and more?
Then Flavia sees her: she’s dressed in stilettos; torn, faded jeans, and a sheer blouse, but she recognises the bimbo who had been playing pool for the benefit of Dante and the others – it’s Patricia.
Patricia walks over to the bar, to a man with his back to her. Flavia recognises him immediately. Patricia pats him on the shoulder. The man turns.
* * *
Dante is taken aback at the sight of Patricia. Her sheer blouse clings to her like wax paper and shapes her curves in shades and outlines. He lifts his Bourbon & Coke up to her.
‘Well, well,’ he says. ‘I think my night’s finally beginning to look up.’
Or that’s what he imagines he would say. None of it comes out. He splutters moronically, as if the power of speech has deserted him.
Patricia signals to Providence, but her eyes don’t leave Dante. ‘Mind if I join you?’ she says.
Dante pats the stool alongside him. ‘Be my guest,’ he forces out.
Patricia sits on the stool and casually rests a hand on Dante’s thigh. Dante notes it with briefly raised brows, but tells himself to play it cool. This could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, although he knows it’ll ultimately go nowhere. People like him don’t benefit from such freakish occurrences; they fall maddeningly short, and forever lament what could’ve been. But he might as well enjoy the journey until that happens.
‘So,’ he says, ‘to what do I owe the honour?’