Time passed, but it did so in silence and darkness.
She couldn’t begin to decide how long it had been, how long it continued to be. Hours? Minutes? Days?
Then finally a change. A noise. A series of noises and her sensation-starved mind eagerly sorted them.
A faint... not a creak, but the sound of wood moving against wood. A door opening. A set of steady clicks. Shoes, walking across a hard stone floor.
The same cold smooth floor against which her body was pressed.
A shadow passed over her, trailing light in its wake, and the clicking stopped.
Shoes. Her eyes focused, and she was looking directly at a pair of shoes, standing side by side. Brown and shiny.
Her tongue and her lips went to work, even before her mind was fully aware of it.
The leather was slick and cool, and the deliciously familiar taste of shoe polish filled the back of her mouth.
Kiss. Lick. Kiss. Lick.
Cover every inch. Nothing else mattered. Nothing else was important. Nothing else existed. Nothing-
“It went well, I take it?”
A voice. His voice. Her tongue broke off one task and began another, as she lifted her head, lifted her head so she was looking at him. A flush burned across her cheeks, down her neck and out across the rest of her body...
She found she couldn’t speak above a whisper.
“Yes, sir. It went exactly as you planned. It was easy.” She remembered and tore her gaze away from him, just long enough to confirm that there were two other women there, that they were still there, one on either side of her. Not that she really needed to look; they were all bunched so close together she could feel the tiny trembles of desperate eagerness.
“How so?”His voice drew her gaze back to him.
“I invited Khandi and Trina over to dinner, sir. I chopped up the piece of Fruit you gave me, and I fed it to them in, hidden inside a salad. They tasted it, and I could... I could just see the addiction blossoming in their eyes. They scarfed down all the salad, then asked if I had any more.” She dithered just a bit before screwing up the courage to go on. “It was... strange.”
“In what way?” Mild curiousity.
She bit at her lip.
“It’s just... it wasn’t like a normal addiction, sir. I don’t think. I mean, if a person is addicted to... to... crack or something, they are capable of... I don’t know... doing anything to get more of it. If their, you know, dealer won’t sell it to them, the addict might attack him, or something.”
“Yes. Or so I would suppose.”
“But with the Fruit, sir, it wasn’t just the addiction. I saw that in their eyes as well. It was like something in there had just... burned out. When they asked for more Fruit I... I made them work for it. Little things at first. But in the end, I had them... performing tricks for me. Horrible, dirty things. I couldn’t-” Her flush deepened.
“And they did it. In the end, they both did all of it, without any complaint. And then when we were finally done... hours later... when I told them about you, sir, about how...” She swallowed. “How utterly wonderful you are, how you’re the one who’s really in charge, not me, they just accepted it. If they had seen you, talked to you, that would have different. Like I did. Like anyone who does... they understand. But doing it even before...”
“Well, it is a very special Fruit. I should know. It took me enough years to breed it.”
His gaze possibly grew more stern, and she trembled a little herself.
“You didn’t eat any yourself, did you?”
She stared. Stared even more, even wider.
“Oh no, sir. That’s totally forbidden. I’m not allowed to eat so much as a scrap of the Fruit.”
“So you surrendered to me...?”
She blinked at the change in topic, but the answer came easily.
“I surrendered to your authority entirely of my own free will and violation. I remember this fact quite clearly.”
He waggled a finger.
“But you’ve been curious, haven’t you?”
“You’ve been curious how the Fruit tastes. When you were cutting it up, to put it in that salad. The juice must have gotten on your fingers.”
“And it would have been so easy to find out, to lick it off.”
“That’s totally forbidden, sir. I’m not allowed to eat so much as a scrap of the Fruit.”
“Yes. But you were still curious. Weren’t you?”
“Yes, sir.” The shame was a fiery fist in her tummy, and she dropped her head. Her whisper faded to almost nothing. “I stared at it. The juice on my fingers. All over my fingers. Dripping. I smelled it. It smelled so good...” She snapped her head back up again and her voice became almost brisk. “But then I washed it off. I washed it all off and flushed all the scraps down the garbage disposal. Because it was totally forbidden. I’m not allowed to eat so much as a scrap of the Fruit.”
“Good. I never doubted you.”
The compliment stroked at her brain like yard after yard of the softest fur.
“Thank you, sir.”
“And as a reward...” He reached up, and for the first time, she noticed that there were trees in the room with them, sitting in large pots.
Her mouth instantly filled with saliva.
He felt at the various offerings on display, testing for ripeness, and finally plucked one with a small tug. He held it in his hand.
“Would you like to try some now?”She felt a surge of emotion, panic tied up with something else...
“That’s totally forbidden, sir! I’m not allowed to eat so much as a scrap of the Fruit!”
“Well...” He gave the Fruit a tiny squeeze, and a few drops of juice dribbled from it, down between his fingers.
And landed on her cheek. Just in range of her tongue, maybe, but her tongue now remained rooted inside her mouth, feeling as if it was made of concrete.
She moaned thickly.
“If you just drank the juice, that wouldn’t be eating even a scrap, would it?”
“totally forbidden totally forbidden totally...” She couldn’t stop saying the words.
“I know. Here’s what we can do. After you try it, learn how it tastes, you can instantly forget trying it.”
“I...” The idea was a glorious sunrise breaking in on the world, filling everything with the most perfect light... “Yes, sir! That’s so brilliant!” Her tongue turned to flesh again, and again she was ministering to his shoes, mumbling the words around it. “So wonderful, so brilliant, forget, forget, forget, totally forbidden...”
“Open your mouth.”
She lifted her head and spread her jaws.
He slowly, slowly turned his hand, and for an eternity the Fruit was hanging over her. He squeezed harder.
The juice, the Juice splattered on her upturned face, and itWent
There was something sticky all over her face.
He spoke a word that turned her entire body to stone, and he had the other two girls slowly lick it off...
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