“It’s you again, isn’t it?” I managed to release the speaker button, but in a clumsy movement, my hand accidentally flung through the flickering flame beside the intercom and crashed against my stiff leg, the stinging of the burn vivid in my palm.
“Yes,” he said. It wasn’t a dream.
Though our voices were electronically altered—for “security measures”—his blunt tone came out clear, hinting that he wasn’t in the mood for a friendly chitchat. My finger went for the button again, preceding my urge to explain the situation, “It’s weird…I was—you were the only green door.”
I gulped, awaiting his response, but none came through; and the longer his glacial silence lasted, the quicker my heart froze. He obviously didn’t want me here, and to be honest, I couldn’t blame him; it was his right as a shacker to have different partners each week, a promise that Philippe’s AI hadn’t fulfilled tonight.
“Okay, I’ll just go,” I broke disappointedly, and turned around in search of a way down. A red button glimmered on the rail. Whatever it was, I pressed it. I had nothing to lose, except for a bit of dignity, maybe. The platform throbbed upward, and when the parapet clicked open, inviting me to step off the balcony, the intercom behind me shouted, “Please, don’t!”
Something felt…off. 666 didn’t sound like the self-confident man who’d guided me through the steps of our love-making the previous week, but rather conflicted, as though wavering between his promise to remain emotionally uncommitted in The Love Shack and his desire to have me again. I walked back to the door with a twinge of mixed feelings. I’d felt like that all week, too.
I already had a plethora of reasons not to open that door, and for once, I didn’t need Philippe to list his stupid rules. I wasn’t more skilled or talented than any other woman here, and surely anybody could play the temporary-healer part. Yet, against all odds, he chose me. Me.
“Are you still there?”
“I’m here,” I sighed, relaxing my head against the wall, and a slight smile curled in the corner of my mouth, “Coming here was risky, you know. You could have ended up with a man…1308.”
“And you with a woman, 666.”
His voice vibrated inside my rib cage with such intensity that it forced a sneer out of me, the wordless admission of going through his quiz. Wondering if he’d read mine, I teased, “Maybe I like women,” but his habit of distributing awkward, stomach-flipping silences riled me up, and my body decided to work against me when he finally made his move, “You have something of mine,” lust profusely dripping down my thighs with each word.
“Then come and get it,” he whispered daringly.
My nipples drilled through the small holes of my lace bra. He was in for a game; I desperately craved a win.
“Wait!” I cracked. He was still there, betrayed by his hysterical breathing. I needed to know what kind of man he was, “That place, The Basement…Do you…Do you go there?” I closed my eyes, waiting for the bomb I’d just dropped to explode. It didn’t. With an honest answer, he warded it off, “I don’t have sex outside The Love Shack’s bedrooms, if that’s what you’re asking,” his voice darkly musical, the way cinema villains spoke over the phone with their most devious smile. The intercom shut down just as I pounced on the handle. Alright, 666. Enough talking. Time to play.
Tonight’s blind room was a goddamn furnace. I freed myself from my sticky dress in mere seconds, and when my bare feet met the burning mosaic tiles, I crossed yet another one of The Love Shack’s rules, “Shit.” It escaped before I could slap my mouth shut, an accident that didn’t go unnoticed. The acoustic sensors that hung from the ceiling flashed a bloody red, warning me to remain quiet, and faded back to icy blue.
“Shh,” a cool minty wind blew through my braided hair, and a cold palm grazed down my spine to rest on the two small holes at its base, slightly pulling on the string of my thong. I could feel his shaft harden against my butt as his other hand ventured across my collarbone to drum the beat of my heart in between my breasts. Powerless, I sank back into him and lost myself in the intoxicating melody that our unique connection composed for us.
As soon as his percussion show ended, we both gave in to our most primal instincts, hands ripping off each other’s mask. I jumped on him and dived into his face for a kiss, savagely gripping his hair. I’d been longing for his fleshy lips to dance with mine, for his tongue to ravish every corner of my mouth, for his hands all over my back. Every part of me quivered.
As he carried me through the room like he knew it by heart, I couldn’t help but wonder how many women he’d fucked in here; but he sat us both on a wooden bench in a much drier, hotter, and smaller space, and the thought of his numerous conquests disintegrated along with my upper lip between his teeth. I was the one he was spending the night with, after all.
Water endlessly sizzled in a corner, diffusing a fresh aroma of pine essential oil, and the temperature around us increased substantially. Desire sweat through every pore.
His face went for my breasts, but I clicked my tongue disapprovingly and tilted his chin up for one last tender kiss. We were granted a second night together, and we both knew there was no way this would happen again. I wanted to make the best of it. To have him whole, tattooed under my skin, even. To leave him with an unforgettable memory to jerk off to for the rest of his life.
If he lost his mind every time his dick was in a woman’s mouth, then I’d make him crumble inside mine. With the firm intention of erasing the oldest traces of past endeavors from his memory, I glided down his strong legs and rubbed myself between them for access to his groin. Knowing what was coming, he grunted before I could even touch him; I had to shove him back twice. The man fought his pleasure, fiercely, like he’d never had it delivered at his door. He was more likely used to leading and taking it himself.
The first few licks of my tongue up his bulge made his heart go wild under my palm. I slid his cock inside my mouth—slowly—tongue twirling around it and spit mixing with his pre-cum, and gripped its base to keep it erected every time I played with his sensitive top. My blood pulsed down to the tip of my knob, and the touch of my free hand on it made me come undone. His taste was as exhilarating as his instant feedback: He breathed, louder and deeper to the ruthless rhythm of my bouncing head.
His hands timidly wandered through my hair, refusing to give in to me in blatant fear of revealing his wild nature. I wanted to meet him. To know him. Body and soul. His hips jerked up—thrusting me deeper—and in the heat of the moment, he grunted alluringly, stroking my cheek with a gentle, almost loving hand. The warning of his upcoming bouquet final didn’t intimidate me, but I appreciated his offering me a way out before his inevitable eruption. Cute.
Without a flinch, I went on pumping and sucking, mustering all the rage I’d accumulated these past few days in each strike, for all the men that had recently hurt me. That blow was for Mathew, for telling me what to do with my body. I gagged on the next, 666’s cock so deep in my mouth the few hairs of his pubis tickled my nose. This one was for Isaac and his half truths. I couldn’t stop. I was tripping on his addictive sex, plundering my way to his release, to our release. My eyes were stinging sunk in sweat, and my lungs quickly ran out of air, but I couldn’t care less. If I had to pass out on him, then so be it. I’d do it on a full stomach.
666 abruptly sat up, urging me to pull out. As much as his respect for my body fired up my heart, I was determined to go all the way, and showed it to him in a most despicable way: I scraped my teeth up his delicate limb. That must have aroused a much kinky thought, for he held his breath and finally, forcibly pushed me down with both hands, impaling my head on his spike as deep as I could take. With a thump against the wooden wall, the animal let go of all tension and ejaculated his warmest cum in the far back of my throat. I gladly swallowed the glorious essence of his being, my well-needed cure, and sprang back up. This one was for Aaron, for seducing me, for breaking my heart, for his mind games, for not apologizing. Fuck them. Fuck them all.
When I reached his face, my forehead connected with his like a magnet, and his thumb thankfully brushed my lips as we both struggled to catch our breath. He sucked on them to have a taste of his salty seed, and his hand spanked my ass in an outburst of fury. I didn’t have time to gasp. He’d already heaved me up as if I weighed nothing and switched places. Forcing my legs up and apart, he firmly planted his forearms under my knees. Oh, he’d read my quiz. He knew.
Like the parched animal he was—because of me—he tore the thin fabric of my thong aside, restlessly lapped my pussy, and shoved three of his largest fingers inside. Oh, my—my toes curled in the air, mirroring his fingers as they scraped the back ceiling of my steam room in a hysterical in and out movement. He wasn’t hungry, he was starving, and I was his favorite food.
Arching my back, I bit my burned hand at each thrust and each stroke of his raspy tastebuds against my swollen clit. Don’t stop, please don’t stop, I prayed, and grasped on his bicep, begging him to continue as the heat of the room built an insufferable pressure inside my core.
Yet, when I thought my insides were about to explode in a billion sparkles, his free hand landed flat on my belly, and I flipped. My whole body convulsed. My heart ached. My lungs broke down. This wasn’t an orgasm at all. This wasn’t ecstasy nor pleasure. This was terror.
Kicking his shoulders away from me, I jolted back into a corner and whimpered for dear life. What’s happening to me? I braced my chest, trying to make sense of all the raw emotions roiling inside, but my brain was on fire. Everything burned and boiled within. It suddenly became hard to think. His hand on my belly. On my stretch marks. On my scars. I’d screwed up again. Why?
The darkness of the room gave way to the clear Alberta sky. Stars. Spinning. A wide, calloused hand on my shoulder. Dad’s voice, “You’re fat.” It played in my ears like a broken record. I closed my eyes, cradled by 666’s panicking arms, and consciousness deserted me the second Aaron’s face popped up in mind. “Your belly’s weak.” The man whose words had effectively wiped out the little confidence I’d gained since I’d lost weight. Because of Aaron, I couldn’t give myself to 666 the way he’d just given himself to me; entirely. Damn, those dimples.
I woke up to Elena’s distress and the clinking of metal all around me as I stretched my legs out. From the moment I rubbed my eyes, my temples made it their mission to hinder the dissipation of the haze on my mind with a constant, annihilating drub. It was painful to breathe, to move, to think, but Philippe’s unique voice made the listening part considerably easier, “She’ll be fine. She blinked twice and called me a moron back there. She’s just asleep.”
Back there? I sat up, taking in my messy environment. I was on the backseat of a moving car, buried in a mountain of empty pop cans and takeout boxes. Each flash of a street light through the window pricked my eyes, and the cherry on top of all this was Elena’s squealing and deathly clapping from the passenger seat, “She’s back! She’s back! She’s back!” I didn’t hesitate once and hurled the nearest can at her with a drunken “Shhh.” If only she could be as quiet as earlier in the lobby.
As I sluggishly recalled the events of the night, my head tilted down for a body check. A large white towel covered my dressed-up body. I let out a sigh of relief at first, but then the memory of me, naked under 666’s tongue resurfaced, and I squeaked, “How did—”
“Your dress was still on when we arrived,” Philippe said, “Thank God we didn’t see your woohoo.” Charming.
“Didn’t even have time to go to dreamland, huh?” Elena’s pity dribbled from every bat of her lashes.
If I was dressed when they found me, then—I covered my shame with both hands, punishing myself for passing out at the worst possible time. Lee unraveled me in an instant, “Dio Mio, you did go to dreamland. He’s the one that dressed you up!”
“Technically, I didn’t—”
“What?” Philippe yelled at the same time, “It’s not—”
“Just tell me what happened, please!” I begged, voice hoarse, and bent over my knees to listen.
“We were in the lobby, waiting for you. Phil’s phone rang,” she wiggled her brows, “666 called through the intercom, all panicked, saying you’d just had a heat syncope and you wouldn’t wake up.”
I peeked at myself in the mirror, in shock. A miserable lion stared back at me with its shaggy brown mane, and my makeup was a soaked watercolor painting. A heat syncope? No shit.
“We rolled there, the lights were on,”
“He must have opened the door before we arrived. The lights automatically turn on when one of the two partners leaves,” Philippe explained, but it didn’t reassure me the least.
“So, he dressed me up and left,” I tried to talk some comfort into me, “Alright. I can do with that. Perfect. I’m fine.”
None of them uttered a word, and two pairs of widened eyes buried me deeper into my pile of trash, “No,” I shook my head, “Uh-uh. Don’t—don’t tell me he was there, too.”
Elena pressed her lips together compassionately, but burst out laughing, unable to contain it any longer, “Who do you think carried you to the car? It’s not like any of us could have done it!”
Making note that I was still too heavy for my best friend to drag me in and out of an elevator, I fell back into my seat and one of my fingers found its way between my eyebrows—as if opening my chakras would be of any help.
Fuck. 666 had seen me. All of me. The real, broken, carved, stretched-out, flawed, and passed-out me. The worst in all this? I wasn’t there to decide whether or not to drop the veil. All the things I wanted him to see. All the things I wanted to keep to myself. Everything I was, good and bad, had been stolen from me, ripped away, in a short moment of blackout, shed into the room’s light. I didn’t even get to say goodbye; and whether I liked it or not, I couldn’t take it back. He’d seen me.
Before I could huddle into my seat and lament, an uncontrollable shot of curiosity propelled my body forward, “Did you see him, Lee?” She nodded proudly, then winced. What the hell?
“Didn’t see much.”
“What do you remember, then?”
“He was…tall, broad-shouldered. White mask, a cap and a hood, jeans…Nothing fancy.”
I frowned, remembering Philippe’s words about white masks. 666 sounded pretty ordinary for a VIP—not to my distaste, though. Caps were a turn-on; manly voices, too.
My hand slapped her shoulder, “Did he speak?” She shook her head while brandishing a black velvet mask at me, “At least you’ve got this back.”
Unlike my body to 666, the road revealed itself to us bit by bit under Phil’s led headlights. Awfully silent, our chauffeur only opened his mouth to yawn in between the weary, automatic pushes and pulls of his hand controls. I had no idea what time it was, but his glassy eyes testified of a long, exhausting day. Cleaned up, I had to admit that he looked smart, although his suit and tie clashed with the outrageous disguises he wore at the shack.
“You know I have to report you to Taara, right?” He tramped on my growing esteem, and offered me an apologetic glance in the mirror, “You screwed up, Avery.”
“I didn’t. The elevator brought me to The Basement!” I poked my left boob. It itched me more and more as we approached our destination, and it only added more pressure on my bottled-up frustration.
“You stole a white mask.”
“He left with mine last week! Man, it’s not my fault your AI machine matched us together again!”
Elena’s jaw dropped open in admiration, “You gave it a name? You’re a genius.”
I rubbed my arm against my breasts again. Something stung me. Literally. Discretely, I slipped a hand under my bra. Something sharp, slick, and soft was stuck between my nipple and bra. Paper. I took it out in one sudden pull. It was a folded note. Who—Gaze up, I checked for prying eyes, but the two love birds had launched into a debate on the history of Feminism, something to keep them busy for a while. My heart raced as I opened it, and all my doubts lifted as I read the pointy handwriting.
Sorry I killed the game for you. Not sorry I saw you—6
I turned my head to the infinite rows of buildings, filled with remorse. 666 had nothing to be sorry for. I did. I was the one who’d put him in this position. He’d taken care of me like a man only would have, and he’d been kind enough to leave me with a thoughtful note, although I doubted that he’d liked our unconventional meeting—he was just being polite.
“Please, Philippe, don’t tell Taara. Unless it’s on camera, too…” I pleaded.
“It’s not. We took the tunnels.”
“I don’t want him to get in trouble because of me. It’s not our fault, I promise.”
He turned right into our street and looked back at me. I had to tell him, otherwise I’d be waving The Love Shack goodbye by tomorrow morning, “He was the only green door.”
His hand hit the brake, and he parked his car wildly on the side of the road, right next to mine.
“The only one, are you certain? Impossible.”
I nodded, and his eyes flickered from left to right, finding nothing to rest upon, as he muttered, “It hasn’t happened since…Tabernacle!” His hand met the wheel, and he bolted on his seat to face me, “I’ll keep it to myself on one condition.” His index finger pointed at my face, “You promise to never get involved into things that don’t concern you, ever again, and swear to me you’ll give those videos to Taara.”
“That’s two…conditions, but—Cross my heart,” I said, and quickly turned the page, “Phil, The Basement…”
“Don’t even think about it,”
“Do you know 666, I mean, person—”
“Alright,” I opened the door, “Does that mean I’ll be paired up with him again next week?”
“Betty always finds the best match, trust—”
“Trust the process, I know!” I recited while hopping out of his car. Elena did, too, and he pulled his window down to see us inside.
“Thank you, for driving us back,” I bent over the window, “Listen, I’m only saying this as a…friend. I know you eat lunch in your car because it’s easier to hide, but I think it’s time you demanded some respect from Taara and had her adapt your workspace to your needs. She certainly doesn’t know the struggles little people face on a daily basis. Besides, you can’t use that backseat as a trashcan, where will I sit next week?” I finished with a genuine smile. Judging by the fluorescent white of his face, he didn’t expect me to pick up on his insecurities. I thought he’d send me packing, but instead, he blinked his eyes with a thankful, tired nod.
“I guess I’ll have some cleaning to do, then,” he said, and drove away.
It took Lee and I both some time and effort to walk up the stairs to our apartment. We even fell down and laughed at ourselves, sprawled in the staircase, letting all the fright, anger, worry, and frustration out of our systems. We were home, safe and sound, and that was all that mattered.
Lee invited herself into my bed, because it was warmer, she’d said, but we both knew it was closer to the front door than hers, and she didn’t have the strength to crawl there. I didn’t want to spend the rest of the night alone, anyway. When I turned on my starry-night lamp, we started a long conversation about our adventures of the night, holding nothing back, just like old times.
“You know, the douchebag was in The Basement. His name’s Conor,” I said, but I could feel her doze off next to me as her body sank deeper into the mattress.
“Mathew saved me.”
“What?” She sprang up, stiff.
“He did. Thanks to his tongue—”
“Ew, I was thinking about Conor. Did he hurt you?”
“No, but…I’ll need to train harder next week. Next time he lays as much as an eye on me, I’m breaking his jaw.”
She plopped back down, and turned to her side, her back to me, taking half my duvet between her legs, “So, how’s Mathew doing? It’s been a long time. I know he’s a cop in the city, but…” her voice lowered to a whisper, and the word cop got me leaping on her, “Can you repeat that?”
“Skip it, you said he’s a cop?”
“Lee,” I shook her fully awake. This couldn’t wait for tomorrow. “After telling me how much of a slut I was, he said he was working there.” She shifted back to me and wiped the drool off her lower lip as I went on, “That’s what Taara’s glances were all about. These men in The Basement, they’re all policemen!” I thought she’d be as transfixed as I was, but instead, she grunted and disappeared under the sheets.
“What does the police do in an illegal, sinful place? They’re supposed to shut it down, aren’t they?”
“Oh, no, Ave, we’ve learnt our lesson tonight. Forget it. Take all the pleasure you can and close your eyes on the rest. Sweet dreams.”
I sneered, “Huh,” refusing to close my eyes on any of this, but Elena yanked the rug out from under my feet, “You promised Philippe, Ave,” and I lay down to comply, “Fine,” letting my mind wander to the cute note on my nightstand.
I didn’t sleep at all that night. I was so obsessed by the presence of the police in The Love Shack, Taara’s secrets, and 666’s identity that my mind went wild, imagining the craziest stories, scheming my next investigation.
Once Elena snored all sleep out of me, I got up and rushed to our toolbox in the living room in search of a screwdriver. With that in hand, I determinedly pierced my mask right under the feathers. Starting next week, I’d be recording every single moment spent at The Love Shack with my infrared camera.
A couple hours later, Lee’s cold hand slammed on my shoulder, “Psst, are you asleep?”
“Hmmm,” I groaned.
“I’ve just had an epiphany.”
I kept my eyes closed, knowing she’d spit something about the alignment of the stars on my ceiling, “Please, share,”
“What if 666 was Mathew?”
My eyes blinked open. They were the only part of my body that wasn’t paralyzed.