(see header in part one)
Hallows, by Scott J. Welles
"Gail..." the Lady said, softly rolling the name in her mouth as though trying it out. Her face brightened a shade, and Gail could tell she'd guessed how the name was chosen. "Not far from your real name, is it?"
"No...it's pretty close," Gail answered her. They didn't have to raise their voices above the music, such was the proximity of their faces.
Lady Kara was staring deeply into Gail's eyes as they moved together, and Gail could feel the woman's gaze doing something within her. She'd been turned on by people she met at Hallows' before, but this was different. Not merely because it was a woman, but because it was a woman she knew. She had seen this woman outside the club, talked to her, dealt with her, worked with her. Nothing in all that time would have prepared Gail for being with her under these circumstances.
The Lady's breath tickled her lips and chin.
"Your girlfriend is watching us," Gail said.
"Dali," she said, nodding to the side of the dance floor, where the slim girl stood watching them with the same easy smile. "You know, the one you had your tongue inside five minutes ago?"
"Aren't you afraid she'll get jealous, watching us dance?"
Lady Kara smiled, amused. "Dali's not my girlfriend," she replied. "She's my property. My plaything."
Gail pulled back, looking at her in surprise. "Your what?"
"I won her from Lord Midas in a riddling game."
"Lord Midas asked me a riddle, and I answered it correctly. Then I asked him one, and he failed to-"
"So you just won a girl as your love slave?!" Gail demanded, starting to feel upset for the first time.
Lady Kara looked at her seriously. "Outside these walls," she said, "Dali would never consent to being owned, any more than I would condone such. In here, we're different people. And she can walk out at any time. Just like you or I."
She knew that, of course, but it still bothered her for some reason. "I don't get it. This isn't like y-"
Kara's eyes widened.
Gail broke off the sentence, abruptly realizing how close she'd come to breaking the rule. You could get thrown out for such an infraction.
"That's the point," the Lady in her arms said, even more softly. "What we do in here is not like what we do when we're our other selves. Would you have come in here, as yourself?"
Gail relaxed somewhat, seeing the Lady wasn't going to call her on her near-violation. But the question still made her uncomfortable. She looked away.
"Don't be angry with me, Gail. Please. We're not who we usually are, when we're here. I'm Kara, she's Dali...and you're Gail. That's all."
Something in the woman's tone made her look back. There was real hurt in Kara's eyes.
Gail understood then what had upset her so. Unlike everyone else in the club, she and Kara had an image of each other beyond what they saw tonight. They knew what the other's life outside Hallows' was like, and that lent new resonance to their company now. So why was the Lady seeking her approval? Why dance with her at all, rather than avoid her entirely?
Gail's mind returned to Kara's earlier question, turned it around and applied it to the one who had posed it. What was she looking for?
"Sorry," she said. "I didn't mean to shatter the illusion."
Lady Kara breathed out almost imperceptibly, laying her head on Gail's shoulder. "Sometimes the illusion can't completely hide the truth," she whispered.
The song ended.
Lady Kara led Gail back off the dance floor, to where Dali waited for them, her only expression a pleasant smile. "I had a feeling you two would like each other," the girl told them, handing the cane back to Kara. "You have a similar energy about you."
Gail wasn't surprised to hear this, given what she and Kara both did in their regular life, but she was impressed that the young woman had picked up on it so quickly. "I could use a drink," she said. "Anyone else?"
"I could," Kara agreed, and they returned to the bar. The bartender seemed to stand a little straighter as they approached, perhaps in deference to the Lady. "Whatever Gail wants, on my tab," she told him.
"The same, ma'am?" the bartender inquired of Gail.
"Yeah," she nodded without looking at him. She took a stool, facing out onto the floor, leaning her elbows back on the bar rail. She wanted another cigarette, but somehow didn't feel right smoking around the Lady. Too much association with that other place. So why, again, was Kara choosing to spend time with her, rather than avoid her?
"Roger, is the suite available?" Kara asked the bartender.
"Yes, Lady," he replied. "Will you want it tonight?"
"Yes," she said with the voice of one accustomed to wielding casual authority.
Dali's smile seemed to light up even more on hearing this, and the gaze she cast upon Gail was a visual purr.
Gail was becoming increasingly disoriented as the evening progressed. To some degree, that was expected at a place like Hallows', but what puzzled her most was that she didn't know how she felt about all this. She was gaining the impression that Kara and Dali expected her to accompany them to this 'suite' for the night, even though they hadn't suggested it to her, directly. That wasn't the problem; all she had to say was "no, thanks" and they'd leave her alone - it was one of the club's most sacred rules, after all - but she didn't know if she wanted to say that.
No doubt it was Kara's presence that caused her ambivalence. If the Lady had been a complete stranger, Gail was certain she'd have been able to make up her mind one way or another, but this two-tiered perception of the woman, knowing her and yet not knowing her...it made it hard to think.
"Dali," the Lady said, conversationally, "Gail was concerned you might be jealous of us while we were dancing."
Dali laughed, light and musical, as though the idea were a delightful absurdity.
"Why don't you lay her fears to rest while I reserve the suite?" Kara suggested, turning away.
Gail said, "Wait, I-" and then had to shut up, because Dali's tongue was filling her mouth. The younger woman had stepped without hesitation into her personal space, between her knees, and pressed closely against her. She slid both hands up under the leather jacket, palms and fingers warm against Gail's back and shoulders. She showed no signs of ending the kiss any time soon.
Although Gail had never been tempted to try sex with a woman before - and she didn't usually care for people who came on too strong anyway - she found herself responding to the embrace, rather than struggling and pushing Dali away. The girl was light enough that it wouldn't have been hard, but... Jesus, did she know how to kiss. The same gut-level response Gail had experienced watching Kara pleasure Dali was returning.
She let her own arms wrap around Dali's shoulders, pulling her closer, and returned her kiss. Her nipples, covered only by the thin cotton of her tee shirt, could feel Dali's leather halter rubbing against them. Dali's tongue glided along her palate, leaving only the sweetness of her breath behind. The sensation was familiar, yet not. Strange and alien, yet not. It was a sensuous experience, like smoking. Or drinking...
"That will do," said Kara's voice, returning.
Dali ended the kiss and stepped back, obediently. "Yes, Lady." She showed no signs of disappointment or frustration. Gail, on the other hand, was taken aback by the sudden absence of Dali's body against her own.
"The suite is ready," Kara told them, taking Dali's hand.
The girl - it was hard not to think of her as a girl, somehow, despite the fact that she was obviously sexually mature - smiled, as if anticipating an upcoming treat.
Kara looked at Gail. "Are you coming?" Dali extended her other hand.
So, this was it. Decision time. On the one hand, Gail wasn't gay or bisexual, and had never been attracted to women. Plus, knowing Kara from the outside world lent new complication to the situation. On the other hand, nobody had ever kissed her quite like that before, and she recalled how exquisite Dali had looked as Kara brought her to climax. And there was something enticing about the mystery of Kara herself. What was she up to?
Gail considered things carefully.
Then she tugged her ball cap down over her forehead and took Dali's hand.
"Lead the way," she said.
The elevator took them upstairs, but Gail couldn't tell how many floors.
Dali stood behind her, arms around Gail's waist, her small chin propped on the leather epaulet of Gail's jacket. Feeling the warmth of the girl's slim hands against her belly through the shirt, Gail couldn't help imagining what they would feel like against her bare skin. She wanted to feel them sliding up under the shirt to caress her breasts. She wanted Dali to kiss her again. She wanted...
It was hard to enjoy thoughts like that, however, when Kara stood in the corner, silently watching them.
If there was one thing about this whole scenario that continually confused Gail, it was Kara. Without her present, Gail might have either turned Dali down flat, or perhaps she would have let the girl take her to bed by now. But Kara both attracted and disconcerted her in ways she couldn't even identify. It irked her. Why did she keep picturing Kara in her other identity, the everyday version of herself that Gail knew by another name? Why couldn't she just detach and enjoy what was happening?
The elevator came to a halt, the doors sliding gracefully aside. They opened directly into an expensive suite such as Gail might picture the President staying in. No, not the President, maybe a rock star or a movie idol. Someone with wealth and privilege, but without the responsibility of propriety.
They disembarked, Dali moving away from Gail to a nearby table. Three wineglasses and a bottle were waiting for them, and Dali poured the wine expertly. She offered the first glass to Gail.
"No, thanks," Gail replied, curtly.
The girl arched a brow in mild surprise, but didn't argue. She handed the glass to Lady Kara, took another for herself, and said, "Something else, perhaps?" to Gail.
Dali produced a bottle of mineral water, poured it into a fourth wineglass that she came up with somehow, all the while looking as though the request had been foreseen hours in advance. She handed the water to Gail, raising her own glass in a toast. "What shall we drink to?" she asked the other women.
"New horizons," Kara said, raising her own.
Gail echoed it, adding her glass, although she didn't really know what the toast referred to. What the hell, it sounded good.
They clinked musically, and sipped from their glasses.
"Well, so much for foreplay," Kara said. "Excuse me a moment." Turning away, she left the spacious living room through a doorway.
Gail turned to Dali, who was still smiling at her. "I'm glad you joined us," the girl whispered.
They were standing very close together, Gail realized. Her desire for the slim girl was a palpable force. Once again, Hallows' had provided the right person at the right time.
Gail suddenly felt sick of holding back. Discarding all sense of caution, she set her glass aside, then took Dali by the hips and pulled her in tight, one hand taking her by the back of the head - her naked scalp felt surprisingly erotic against Gail's hand - and drawing her in for another kiss. Dali showed neither surprise nor resistance, driving her tongue deeper than before into Gail's mouth. She pushed the leather jacket off of Gail's shoulders, baring her arms. The jacket fell to the carpeted floor behind her.
"Starting without me?" came Kara's voice.
Their mouths parted, and Gail turned her head to see that Kara had rejoined them again. It was eerie how she could move so quietly, and Gail realized she was accustomed to hearing the woman's distinctive walk on the tile floors of their workplace. "Sorry," she said. "Just playing with your new toy, is all."
Dali laughed easily, unoffended.
"Come in," Kara bade her, gesturing through the same doorway.
Dali picked up the wine bottle and glasses. "Did you bring your bathing suit?" she asked Gail.
Gail followed them into a large tiled room dominated by an expensive hot tub. Doors led off to showers, a sauna, and other facilities. The tub was prepared, steaming and bubbling, and the lighting was dim and indirect, lending an odd sunset color to everything. Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble, Gail thought. It went well with Kara's witchy look.
Kara propped her cane against the counter, one hand on the tub's railing, and slipped out of her shoes. Gail hadn't been aware of her footwear, because of the length of her black cloak, but now she saw that Kara had been wearing sandals that looked both comfortable and supportive. Dali stepped forward to pick up the sandals and set them on a nearby shelf, then turned back to her Lady.
Kara unfastened the cloak, and Dali slid it off her shoulders, then hung it carefully in a closet. Kara wore nothing at all beneath it, and Gail was taken aback to realize she'd been nude beneath it even in the midst of the crowd downstairs. That was so unlike the woman she knew. But then, all of this was.
Dali held Kara's hand for added support as she stepped into the hot tub and settled in, then the girl reached behind her own back to unfasten the leather halter.
"Dali," Kara spoke suddenly. "Wait outside."
Dali froze, looking surprised for the first time since Gail had seen her. There was an awkward look of confusion about her, perhaps with a little disappointment. "But..."
"Dali." Kara's voice was sharper, with the quiet, commanding tone Gail knew well.
"Yes, Lady." Dali dropped her eyes, as though apologizing for her impertinence, and walked out of the room without looking back. She didn't pout or slump, but Gail could tell she wanted to.