The depravity is alluring, specially after you taste it and find it tastes sweet. I smile, a sort of malicious grin that I can't contain. Mary is quiet, resting her head on my shoulder. Maybe she fell asleep. Her wrists must be sore, I held her strongly. The other day, when she kept my arms stretched above my head, my shoulders burned, and I think hers must be burning today too. The burn feels good afterwards, it seems to say ``you are alive'', like the feeling of weariness after a long run or a match with friends. I don't know why she likes the slaps, however. They are painful, and they remain aching for two days, the red swollen skin. But to each his own. She gets so pissed off when I can finally dominate her and hold her in place. The first time I almost stopped, if it wasn't for the smiles she couldn't contain when she made me lose balance or when she escaped from me. I don't know how she went for it, after that long argument we had, when I pretty much said that she was being an idiot. Maybe she likes me. I guess so, maybe she just doesn't want to admit. Maybe there's something that is not love, a kind of sexual friendship, and we have it. But I think that doesn't explain why she went with me that day, when I had that terribly boring bureaucracy to do. ``Want to come with me?'' I said, joking, as if someone would accept an invitation to get papers stamped and signed. ``Are you going to pay me lunch?'' ``Any place you choose,'' I said, still joking. ``Fine,'' she said. ``Let's go.'' I thought it was a bluff, but when she entered my car and closed the door I knew it was serious. ``Are you really coming?'' ``Yes, I'm tired of this people. Anything to get out for a while.'' We talked the whole morning, and then I got pissed with her. She complained, complained, and didn't want to move a feather to fix anything. I told her that. I said everything I thought about her. She didn't like it at all. We went back to the car in silence, and I sat at the driver's seat for a while, not starting the engine or moving at all. I looked at her, she was trying not to cry. I touched her hair. ``Fuck you.'' Then, as I started the engine, she almost shouted. ``See, you don't even have the guts to touch me and lectures me how I don't do anything. You are a wuss.'' I kissed her then, suddenly. She slapped me, a big sting on my face. I feared that it would leave a mark, for a couple days, her fingers red on my cheeks. ``Are you going to slap the rest of the world now?'' She didn't answer. I drove for a while. I looked again at her, and she had her face turned away from me, looking through the window. I moved closer, and saw her face through the reflection, a teardrop falling from her eye. I tried to hug her, to draw her closer, she didn't let me. ``Just drive.'' I drove, but to a hotel. ``Where are we?'' she asked, when I stopped the car. ``I have one last thing to do. Just wait here for a minute, it will be quick.'' I got us a room. I only realized what I did when I came back to the car to pick her. ``Come, I need your help.'' She had dried her tears, and came behind me trying to pretend that nothing had happened. When I opened the door with my keys, she asked what was going on. ``I have the guts.'' I kissed her again, this time she wriggled but kissed me back for a moment. ``Stop it. I have a fiancé.'' We were inside the room, and the dance began. I let her kick me and slap me, I just protected myself. She was angry when she realized that I was stronger than her, but I didn't force anything, I just held her so she couldn't run away. She tried to beat me with all her strength. Occasionally, when I could, I stole a kiss, it made her even angrier. I lost balance and fell with her on the bed, and I let her flip me over and held my wrists. She thought she had turned the game around, and smiled. I let her dominate me for a moment, standing motionless. She didn't know what to do next. She was afraid to let me go and that I'd grab her again. ``See?'' I asked. ``You can't face it.'' I could see how that hurt her. I wondered if I hadn't gone too far. She punched my stomach, so fast that I couldn't protect myself. I barely managed to hold her before she ran for the door, and I still couldn't breathe. ``You asked for it,'' she said, realizing that she had punched too hard. When I could breathe again, I threw her on the bed. She didn't fight back, but didn't help either. She stood almost motionless, but the signs of arousal were obvious. She tried to resist when I started to take her clothes off, playfully this time, like a cat playing with its claws retracted. I used her bra to tie her hands, and when she started to kick about, I pulled her jeans to her ankles, and buttoned it around the bra. She wriggled for a moment, but realized that it would be difficult to untie herself. Her hands couldn't reach the button. I smiled, and took a long time caressing and kissing her body, looking at her, helpless and in that oddly arousing position. Then the smiles, which she suppressed as soon as she noticed them. The game of cat-and-mouse was set. She tried to resist to my caresses, but then gave up. ``Fuck,'' she said, when she came. I only untied her after I orgasmed, but we didn't stop. It was dusk when we left the room, tired and sore. Before that, while we rested on the bed for a moment, I asked when. ``Tuesday next week? Or sooner?'' I wanted it sooner, tomorrow. ``I can't. I'm committed.'' A bit too late for that, I thought. Unless the first escapade doesn't count. ``Are you going to tell him?'' She said nothing. ``Don't.'' We saw each other the next day, the glances saying more than I thought was possible. I thought about dragging her to an empty room and taking her right then, but the wait was part of the pleasure. Looking at her, everyday, imagining her naked, remembering the last time. The next Tuesday I grinned at her. She shook her head, imperceptibly, saying no. I got her alone in the elevator. Maybe she did that on purpose to give me an opportunity. The doors closed, and she said no. I smiled, and only pressed the garage button. The elevators opened the door, she didn't move. ``No.'' I dragged her. ``I could kiss you here, but there are so many cameras...'' She shivered. She was in the car, and looked the other way. ``I hate you. You're forcing me.'' It was such a ridiculous accusation that I almost laughed. When we were in the room, she slapped me again. ``I hate you.'' The game went on, every week. Sometimes twice a week. She's still with her fiancé, living with him, I'm seeing a girl now and it's becoming serious. But it's almost a ritual, I never thought I'd enjoy this kind of thing. She starts lightly, every time, a bit ashamed, but she grows angrier as I defended myself and she sees her blows are ineffective. Sometimes she gets one really right, and then it pisses me. She is taking her anger of the world on me, it is not fair. Then I get serious. This sort of thing never turned me on before, either side of it. I guess it's not the pain itself, certainly not for me, but the feeling of power, the fight to prove who is more powerful, who'll give up first, the game... The naughtiness of it, of having an affair that is different, that is a relief, that is sex in a way that is better than sex, that only works between the two of us and that give us strength to face the world. Funny thing, if I read that last phrase out of context I might have taken it for a definition of love.