Book 4: Rapids.

Series: Light, Water, Muses. An alternate universe for a variety of television series. See disclaimers below.

Rating: NC17. Dude, it don't get any more NC17 than this!!! The subjects are kinky and fringe, so be warned.

Category: The continuing saga of Reflections/ Resurgences/Refractions.

Pairings: Not really. Just smut involving Dace and others.

Disclaimer: "ER", see Chapter 1.

Disclaimer: "The Division", see Chapter 1.

Disclaimer: "The X-Files", see Chapter 1.

Disclaimer: "Xena Warrior Princess", see Chapter 4.

Disclaimer: "China Beach", see Chapter 5.

Disclaimer: "Facts of Life", see Chapter 6.

Disclaimer: "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit", see Chapter 7.

Disclaimer: "CSI", see Chapter 11.

Summary: Dace apologizes for an old failure, making a unique sacrifice. The danger grows closer and closer.

Chapter 22

Low Ball

++ Anastasia ++

I was forced to admit that young Dace was magnificent in her intricate bondage, her slender frame exposed and decorated for other's pleasure. And, even after all these years, still well-behaved. As a lifetime Mistress, I'd been satisfied that she'd been wet the entire time she had been restrained so thoroughly. She'd barely twitched when I'd slid a couple of fingers deep in her pussy to find out, before sampling the delicate tidbits that had been placed carefully on her belly and chest. Strangely, no one had tested her readiness throughout the banquet, and that struck me as odd.

But then again, most still associated Dace with Sylvia, and few were high enough on the food chain to touch what was still commonly perceived as her property.

With that though in mind, I was only half-surprised when Dace came to me after the meal had been cleaned up. Freshly washed, and still sporting dull marks from the ropes, the blonde dropped gracefully to kneel just beside and slightly behind Tessa. The clear blue eyes that had only been raised far enough to keep her from tripping, were now focused firmly between her spread knees.

Too many years ago now, this fierce and willful creature had been sent to me by KC. Poised by her training from my old friend, Dace was calm and focused, but the smooth surface was shallow. I was the last one to train the girl, per my request. I wanted the polishing of the others on her before I dug deeper. Jesse had taught her to be handled by others, be it kindly or like livestock. She had been taught to behave for, as well as to pursue, what would become the Amazons, then just a tiny group. After that three months, she'd been sent to New York to study under KC's hard hand.

Then I had honed that rigid, military-quality training into something elegant and refined. Like gently grinding a tongue of fire-hardened steel against a whetstone, I would sharpen and silver her. Dace was a bigger challenge than I had bargained on, for I couldn't reward the girl in traditional ways. If not for the Tiger's help to figure the chinks in Dace's armor, I probably would have failed.

Just one more reason this enigmatic package was a burr beneath my saddle.

Despite that old, old irritation, I had to admit that her manners were still flawless. Damned if she didn't even remember that particular pose I taught my slaves. Hands flat on the floor, back arched, head parallel to the floor. It was an exhausting position, particularly on the legs. As much as I was curious as to how long Dace could hold it after being tied up for so long, I was more curious why she had come to me.

"Tessa," I spoke up suddenly and instantly that dark, ocean-blue gaze rose to mine.

"Yes My Lady?"

"I wish more of this fine, light honey mead of Pony's, my pet. And please give me a few minutes alone."

"Yes My Lady."

Luckily for Tessa, she restrained herself from firing Dace a curious look, ignoring the pale woman completely. Now that were alone, of sorts, I focused my attention on Dace. When long moments passed as she didn't so much as alter her breathing, I allowed her some relief. "What is you require so desperately, Leonacouer, that you would invade my privacy?"

The icy tone made Dace wince as she lowered herself until she was nearly kissing the hardwood floor. "Begging your mercy, Lady Heartsblood. I wished only to beg your forgiveness."

Damn her for leaving me confused. "Explain."

"I have failed as lifetime companion to the Red Queen. As she is your friend and peer, I feel it is necessary that I apologize to you."

What a fascinating gesture. I had to admit that I was impressed. "So that's it? You think that a simple apology releases you from such a drastic failure?"

This was a tough one. If she agreed, she would be arrogant, and worse, assuming things. If she disagreed, she was asking to be punished. Not that I wouldn't mind tanning that fine, strawberry and cream complexion of hers. The woman's skin was an artist's palette, delightfully showing every bruise and welt.

"No one can release me from my failure but the Red Queen. But I can certainly try."

She flinched when I stood, but didn't move from her vulnerable position. "Your arrogance has eternally tired me, little girl. I abhor pride in a slave. Yet, you seem to be unable to resist being flippant and sarcastic, no matter how carefully you try and hide it."

Discreetly balancing myself on a chair-back, I planted one foot on the back of her neck, feeling her forehead clonk lightly onto the hard floor. Tessa chose that moment to reappear and hand over my refreshed wine glass before fading away. Such a gem, that woman of mine was. I sipped, while feeling Dace breathe heavily beneath my shoe. Eying the golden liquid, I spoke conversationally, putting a tad more pressure on my new toy. "I think, perhaps, that I shall take strips from your worthless hide. After all, isn't that what you wanted in the first place?"

Now I had her. No matter what was said now, I would beat her senseless. There was a long pause before Dace's voice reached me, barely loud enough to be heard. "Yes, Lady Heartsblood."

"That's what I thought. Go to the horse and wait for me."

"Yes, Lady Heartsblood."

++ Dace ++

It had been surprisingly easy to fall back into this role. Padding across the room, I shivered in the air-conditioning. It was a little strange to be parading around naked, but this was old hat to me. As much as I wasn't looking forward to what I knew Anastasia was going to do to me, but I knew that it would help pave the way to Sylvia's forgiveness. Jane's bondage had been proxy to Jesse, and after this was over, I'd hand myself off to Fenris before heading off to my old Mistress' feet.

It was going to be a long, long night.

Anastasia was right, I shouldn't be flippant, it made me appear arrogant and manipulative. She was also right that it was a stubborn part of my personality. The imminent beating would remind me to behave. The cat grumbled in confused irritation at this old game and I chuckled. These fringe mental and sexual games made little sense to her, that much I understood. But those extremes were also calming to both of us, that much we could both understand. Casting out with both hearing and smell, I zeroed in on the Coyote, warm and safe nearby. Sara was with her, with Bane hovering over them both. As much as part of me wanted to hide these extremes from them both, I knew that wouldn't be fair.

Las Vegas wasn't really that far from San Francisco. Right, Candace, just keep tellin' yourself that...

With false calm, I draped myself on the padded horse, feeling its solidness beneath my chest and hips. Linking my hands at the back of my neck and straightening my legs away from my body as best I could, I waited.

There's a strange state one reaches when you are forced to wait for what you know is about to happen. Making yourself a willing victim can be difficult for some. It was for me. I was a take-charge, hated-to-wait kinda gal and this behavior didn't naturally sit well with me. Which is why, of course, I had been forced to do it constantly as a Sub. It built character.

As for the beating itself, that was a whole different skill. I didn't habitually like pain, that would be just weird and destructive. However, causing me pain had a two-fold effect. It was a turn-on to my tormentor, when in context, like now. Secondly, my nerves and arousal cycle had been well-trained to turn this contextual pain to wet need. Shit, I'd been dripping ever since Olivia had used me a punching bag. With no sexual relief for a whole day, I was primed and ready to take whatever Anastasia could dish out.

Or so I hoped.

I was so lost in thought, that the first blow took me surprise. Jumping like a startled filly, I only just managed to keep myself on the padded horse. Damn, that stung!

"Thought that might get your attention," the Lady drawled mockingly. The tip of her most famous weapon trailed stiff and narrow over my asscheeks. The things that this little woman could do with a narrow length of wood or bamboo was legendary. I was far to out of practice to identify the material on my skin, but I remembered how this was going to hurl like hell.

And this was only a switch. The nasty toys would follow this warm-up session.

"And what do you think that such a serious failure might merit, Leonacouer?"

Damn her... there was no answer to that question and she very well knew it. Forcing myself to not grit my teeth and to answer the question calmly, I replied, "whatever you see fit, Lady Heartsblood."

"We'll see," was the cryptic reply. It was all the warning I had that the punishment was beginning.

Only a few stripes into the event and my skin was already starting to howl. It was a nasty, sharp stinging, like broken glass dragged over the skin to bring up the faintest line of blood. It was too fast to count and I knew I was in trouble.

Soon, I was a battlefield of burning stripes from tailbone to knees, the pain pulsing like fire under my skin. The burn dripped like molten glass to pool deep in my cunt, dripping and empty and needy. Lost in the primitive sensations, I felt the cat growl and hiss, but pace quietly in the face of my conflict of pain and pleasure.

Someone whimpered, a strangled bark of sound.

There was a pause, a cool breeze over the prairie fire.

And then the trees began to fall. Like a whole damn forest of timber, crashing and splintering, the hard, thick blows of the wooden cane bit deep into my muscles. Every hit threw me deep into the padding, sent the pain and need climbing like huffing up a steep flight of stairs, oblivion beyond.

And then all I could to do to save myself from being burned and buried alive in the forest fire... was to beg for mercy.

++ Michael ++

There is reassurance in ritual. Humans are obsessed with the nuance and fabric of our rituals. I had built my entire life on humanity's ceremonies and needs. I provided my clients with safety to let them concentrate on their lives, their rituals. Be it a bodyguard or an elaborate Scene that cost thousands or tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, it all came down to safety. When people felt safe, they were themselves.

I had remained a rich woman because I could deliver that safety.

It was a tough call which half of my life I loved more, the ruthless boss of a security company that was admired in the most dangerous and shadowy of circles, or my role as Mistress with power that most could only dream of. I had a secret love for some of the old-school props, jodhpurs and silk shirts, cravats, riding crops made by loving hands. There was a barn on the estate in Long Island that held my most prized possessions. Though I hesitated to call Freewind and his herdmates 'possessions'. My horses, both flesh and iron were a source of great pride and joy to me. That same barn held props for smaller and more delicate creatures than the horses!

Shaking off my musings, I focused on what my hands had been doing with no input from my conscious mind. Since this was a public event, I had kept my preparations out in the open and every eye in the place was on my hands. The little nail clippers had already been tossed back onto the pristine silver tray that Pai held in unsteady fingers. Now I was on to the next step, the rasp of the tiny metal file loud in the room as I filed my nails blunt and smooth. Twenty perfect half-moons of keratin were lifted to the bright spotlight for inspection. Satisfied with my work, I tossed the file carelessly to the tray and picked up the pair of latex gloves that lay there. Both went over the same hand, offering double protection against tearing. They were a special brand, that hugged my arm nearly to my elbow in a tight sheath of surgical quality latex. Then it was time for the little ceramic container that contained a hot towel moist with water and an inert cleaning solution that would cause no harm to extremely delicate membranes. I was ready.

After watching Pai, Bootstrap and Junkie this night, it was becoming more and more obvious that we had all been isolated in New York for far, far to long. The poor Subs hardly knew what to do with themselves, having been removed from their insular life in my care. They were getting a hell of an education courtesy of Dace and the Four Suits! My old pal stood proud and silent beside the exam table, where the stirrups glittered evilly in the bright light. She was magnificent; slender, strong, still glistening from the recent beating, marked from Tarzan's rope bondage and the Lady Heartsblood's touch. The venerable Mistress was famous for her abilities with cane and switch. She'd been ruthless, the whirr and whistle of the stiff rods making every hair in the place stand on end. Even seasoned Tops shuddered deliciously when the Lady Heartsblood wielded the tools of her craft.

Poor Dace would be feeling those marks for weeks. Now it was my turn. I had watched Dace limp to me, her expression and muscles set stoic against the pain. It hurt to watch, but she accomplished it, even managing to bow with that peculiar, stiff grace that only an accomplished, well-beaten Submissive could do. She was showing up every Bottom in the place, and those that hadn't known her as long as I were shocked at how well she played the role. The conflicted look on the Red Queen's face was indescribable.

"One more time," I suddenly ordered loudly and several people jumped, including Pai. "Explain to us why you are doing this."

If at all possible, Dace pulled herself even more tightly into military-perfect attention, despite being on her knees. The ex-Marine in me was pleased. "I have long been the property of the Suit of Diamonds. That time has passed. I have offered my body and my obedience to the Suit of Clubs, to the Suits of Hearts and now to the Suit of Spades as penance to my failure to the Queen of Diamonds. When you deem me redeemed, King of Swords, I will beg forgiveness of my former Mistress."

"Accepted," I praised coldly. "Hands on the table and get your ass out. Let's see how those marks are coming up." She obeyed instantly, standing awkward and displaying the purpling welts on her abused ass, lines zebra-striping down her thighs as well. The place was absolutely quiet, the only background music some soft Mozart and the symphony of breathing. "My compliments, Lady Heartsblood," I demurred with a deep bow in the woman's general direction before returning to the work at hand. "Get up on the table, Leonacouer," I instructed, and Dace obeyed. "Bane Shidhe? May I request your assistance?" Karen melted out of the twilight at the edges of the bright spotlight to shine magnificently in the white glare. "Gabriel?" He appeared at my right shoulder, flashing the most discreet of grins. "She will need help from you both."

Imagine my surprise when Bane sidled over to whisper almost soundlessly in my ear. "You should have the Wildcat here. There's a strange bond between her and Dace. She'll help keep things calm. Trust me."

Now, Bane wouldn't bring something like this up in the middle of a scene unless it was really important. I trusted her judgment implicitly and nodded my acceptance. Wildcat seemed to appear out of nowhere at Bane's elbow and I had to grin.

"Let's give you a new high, shall we?"

Wildcat was petting Dace's hair fondly, ignoring the rest of us. There were faint speckles of blood on the white towel I had laid down to protect Dace's punished rear end. Wanting this to be as pleasurable as it would be intense as it would be painful, I ran both hands over Dace's flat belly. Gabe and Karen also reached out to stroke her skin, teasing the hard pink nipples. Since I had a front-row seat to just how wet and swollen our prey was, I was hardly surprised that Dace was moaning and writhing in moments.

It wasn't easy for Dace to do this, it never had been. She was an extremely tight fit, challenging both of us. While I liked wielding pain for pleasure just as much as any Top, this trick was a particular delight to me. There was something about being so deep inside a trusting, excited woman, feeling the hard, beating pulse of her deepest pleasure, that was transcendental to me.

The moans went guttural as Dace easily accepted two fingers into the soft, warm channel of her body's entrance. But just beyond that softness was our challenge. The implacable barrier of bone and muscle that I would ease my hand beyond. Grabbing the squirt bottle of jelly-like lube, a concoction of my own design, I eased another finger in. Dace's noises were pleasure-high, waiting for the orgasm building in her guts. Her release was my entrance, when her body would let me in. All I had to do was time it. Stroking her clit soft, then hard, alternating the strokes, I played my best bet at how this would play out. My pinky tucked in with her fellows, and Dace's cries became grunts, her hips rocking as I moved shallowly within the grip of her cunt. The knuckles made her convulse, a warning of the earthquake to come. She was moving now, writhing beneath the caresses that were death-grips of her keepers. Karen shoved a leather glove into Dace's mouth, instructing Wildcat to make sure that Dace didn't chip her teeth, but I was barely aware of any of them.

This was the art of fisting. When it was a challenge like this, it was timing and expertise and an artist's touch. I was obsessed with the pink vulnerability of her cunt so tight around my hand, the barrier of bone and sphincter muscles invisible but all too obvious, the tornado of orgasm bearing down on us both.

It happened in slow motion, the flutter of release, her clit swelling, the crushing grip around my fingers and palm. Between one wave and the next, I tucked my awkward thumb up, relaxed my hand, and slipped into her boiling depths like a dark dream. It washed over me in time to the pulses, the burst of screaming that was pushed up and out by my hand. Pressing my free hand to her abdomen, I could almost feel the impalement, and pressing my cheek to her body was even more intimate.

I was panting like a racehorse from my own orgasm, re-focusing on the reality of the feel of my old pal connected to me so intimately. Kissing Dace's tense-hard belly, I reached out blindly for the instrument tray beside the table and grabbed a square of the protective latex. Any guy that whined about using a rubber was a wuss. Plenty could be felt through the barrier, for both parties. Tucking the square against Dace's stretched cunt, I hunched down to wrap full lips around the hard shaft of her pleasure. Crying and cursing, Dace fought the multiple hands on her body, and the leather straps keeping her feet restrained. Barely moving inside of her, I suckled gentle but implacable, coaxing another release from her.

It hit like a tsunami, breaking over the whole lot of us with that kind of force. The most extraordinary sound exploded from Dace, a shattering, inhuman cry that was somehow familiar. The force of her climax carried my hand smoothly from the temporary haven of her body and Karen and Gabe were thrown clear away from the table, leaving Wildcat wrapped around Dace's skull for dear life.

Goodnight ladies and gentlemen! Fade to black.

++ Sylvia ++

My throat was so tight that my breathing was harsh and strangled to my own ears. The lump lodged there felt like I had swallowed an emu egg. Only my damnable, implacable stubbornness held the suffocating tears behind my eyes, but they poured like a waterfall over my scarred heart. Rachael leaned against my knee, her adoration a palatable thing. I left one hand in the dusky hair as I watched Dace. The part of me that still loved this woman so cried in sympathy to what I forced myself to watch in absolute stillness.

It was an extraordinary gesture, what my sweet and ferocious Lioness-hearted was putting herself through for me. She was curled up tight on her side, wrapped around the overstimulation that pulsed inside and out, the fierce blonde companion wrapped around her head and shoulders.

The crowd was gradually losing interest in the show, despite the fact they knew that there was more. Sensing that, Dace gathered herself, sitting up stiffly, her face a mask of pain and stubbornness. Leaning heavily on the smaller blonde, Dace limped her way over, every eye in the place once again glued to the canvas of her sacrifice.

My sweet little lion did not drop her eyes to me. Proud and strong, she petted her companion's head and limped the last few steps to me. Hissing in agony, Dace knelt at my boots, lowering her forehead to the pointed toes.

"My Queen," came her voice, strong yet soft. "I have failed you as a lifetime companion. By apologizing to your oldest companions, I have begged for your understanding and compassion. Please," her voice cracked and tears welled up against my will. "Please. I'm so sorry. Please release me, my Queen. Please..."

"Damn you Dace," I whispered. "How I loved you then, how much I don't want to give you up." A matched pair of tears slid free from the rising flood, and for once I was woman enough to not brush them away. Then I was finally resigned to what had to happen, and sighed heavily. "Sit up, Leonacouer, and look me in the eye."

Those crystal irises met mine, and I felt both better and worse that she too was feeling the press of tears. Along moment of understanding passed between us, a silent goodbye that made me adore her for doing this for me. Now, I had to make the break final.

My gaze dropped to the red diamond I had so carefully tattooed over her heart all those years ago.

Now, it was up to me to destroy that sign of ownership without destroying her good looks.

"I never cut you, my sweet Lioness. That will be my last gift to you, and then our ties will be severed. Puppy?" Startled at being directly addressed by me, the big man glanced up from where he knelt beside Racheal's tightly bound body. "Bring me a scalpel and a vial of black tattooing ink."

"Yes, my Queen," he squeaked and was off like a shot. The Amazons would take care of him, so I returned my attention to Dace. She understandably looked a little pale. Voluntarily sitting still while someone dragged a scalpel through your flesh was a daunting project.

"Come closer," I demanded. "Let's see if I remember how to please your body. My boots miss the taste of your honey."

++ Dace ++

Oh, I knew what she wanted. Even though my pussy and ass ached like a car accident, I was much more pleased with her suggestion then the things that my own imagination had conjured up. It couldn't hurt to play up the theatrics of this event, and I pitched my voice a little alarmed, shaken. It was only partially an act. "I don't know if I can. I'm so sorry, Mistress..."

There were no words to explain how grateful I was for the faint glimmer of amusement in her flashing green eyes. Even after all of this... I could still make her laugh.

"Don't whine, you weak-willed slut. You've been trained by the best in this business." Sylvia's opening salvo made me swallow a grin, enjoying the perverse banter. She knew how to get my body to move past the pain and back into pleasure. The nasty words were already working their magic. Leaning forward, Sylvia glowered at me with half-mocking menace. "Don't you dare embarrass any of us, you worthless shit. You will do as I order, and you will do it now."

"But..." I protested halfheartedly, and was rocked by her open hand cracking across my cheek and mouth. That did it! The aching wet between my legs morphed from pain to need again and I sighed deeply in relief. Letting the tears collected in my eyes to trickle, I scooted forward, feeling the brush of the pointed boot toes ruffle my soaked pubes. Fenris hadn't bothered to mop me off, and I was unutterably grateful to that miracle lube of hers as I reached down to spread my pussy lips and let them delicately curl around the brutal toe point. If I hadn't been so sore, I would have nestled into the intricate tooling covering the top of her feet and sloping back onto ankle and up her shin.

Instead, this would be a much more delicate operation. The smooth tickle of well-loved leather against the raw, over-stimulated point of my clit was a myriad of sensations. Positioned now, the pleasure starting to curl in my belly, wrapped one hand under Sylvia's arch, the other tight around her ankle. It was still gonna be hard to get off this way, my nerves confused by all the attention, but there was more ways to grab the brass ring. Digging into years of training in the extremes of human sexuality, I reached out my sensitive senses and let my surroundings wash over me.

The crowd was half caught up in my drama, and half uninterested. That was fine. I could work with the heavy heartbeat of their arousal and attention. Smell and taste, musky and sweaty, swamped over me, and I tossed my head back with an animal sound.

"Yessssss..." Hissed out guttural and raw, the words awkward in my mouth. Drenched in sweat, every muscle aching, I was the focus of their need, and the whole room spiraled down to that tiny spot where I touched the crimson leather.

Close... close... the wave was rushing me again, crackling up my rigid spine.

Sunset broke over me, the wildfire consuming me.

But not before I felt it...

And was afraid.

++ Catherine ++

Something was wrong. Still tense and uncoordinated with orgasm, Dace tried to shake it off, coiling and turning, dropping into a threatened crouch. The room seemed to slow, as though no one but me could see the change. The rivers of sweat on her skin were golden fur, her eyes gleamed yellow, lips pulled back from razor-sharp teeth. I danced around the frozen crowd, skidding to an awkward halt beside my magnificent feline, grabbing her shoulders, startled when she really was just naked skin.


There! Above us! A flicker of movement, a growl, a flash of red-gold eyes.

It was the interloper, the predator that hunted outside the law of this all-to-human jungle. The cat shivered in my hold, angry and afraid.

There was a wrenching sensation, like a bullet impact, the slam of one car into another, tripping and falling heavily to the ground. The reality of the room poured over me, the mass of humanity vulgar and familiar.

Yes, I was clinging tightly to a trembling Dace. Yes, we were staring at the darkness of the ceiling high above us, wreathed in deep darkness. Yes, something important had just happened. "He's here," I whispered around the fear swamping off us both.

"He's gone," Dace whispered and her arms coiled around me. "But not for long."

It wasn't easy to drag my eyes away from the darkness above, but I forced myself to meet her wild-eyed gaze. "He knows you now."

Dace looked alarmed and a little queasy.

It was a strangely intimate affair, even in the center of all of these attentive strangers, as I knelt with Dace pressed against me and we watched the Red Queen carefully wield the deadly scalpel. Even as a part of me railed against what I was witnessing, I was fascinated at the sight of the razor edge bringing up thin stripes of Dace's red blood. Hissing in response to every cut, whining, but utterly frozen still, Dace took the punishment, turned her face into me and clung to my thighs until I was a part of her pain too. The red diamond was outlined perfectly, then bisected down the center and then across in a cross held within the geometric shape. Black ink mixed with the crimson blood, and Sylvia gathered up one of the trickles. Examining the liquid, she sat back and was silent for a long time while Dace remained pressed into me, panting and tense. I had never felt so... needed in my life.

At last the striking green eyes looked to Dace, and I could understand the thinly hidden pain there. To have the love of this striking golden woman and lose it...

"I release you, Leonacouer," Sylvia's voice carried over the crowd with seeming no effort and the whole place grew eerily silent. "You are no longer of my service. Now, go away."

To be continued…

Return to the Information page
Go back to the last chapter
Go on to the next chapter