Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray (14 page)

BOOK: Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray
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Helen was silent, folding and unfolding her gloves in her lap. Dorian searched her face for anger or sadness, but there was nothing to be found. Then she settled into a wicked smile.

“Yes, Rosemary is very generous. People are very fond of giving away what they need most themselves. It is what I call the depth of generosity.”

“Ah! Helen, your views terrify me.”

“Thank you.”

Dorian couldn't help but laugh.

“You are incorrigible, Helen! It is impossible to be angry with you, but angry or not, I love Rosemary. I want to place her on a pedestal of gold and to see the world worship the woman who is mine. What is marriage? An irrevocable vow. You mock it for that. Ah! Don't mock. It is an irrevocable vow that I want to take. Her trust makes me faithful, her belief makes me good. When I am with her, I regret all that you have taught me. I become different from what you have known me to be. I am changed, and the mere touch of Rosemary Hall's hand makes me forget you and all your wrong, fascinating, poisonous, delightful theories.”

“And those are . . . ?” asked Helen.

“Oh, your theories about life, your theories about love, your theories about pleasure. All your theories, in fact, Helen.”

“Pleasure is the only thing worth having a theory about,” she said. “But I am afraid I cannot claim my theory as my own. It belongs to Nature, not to me. Pleasure is Nature's test, her sign of approval. When we are happy, we are always good, but when we are good, we are not always happy.”

“Ah! But what do you mean by good?” cried Dorian. He stood up and resumed pacing with little self-awareness.

“To be good is to be in harmony with one's self,” Helen replied. “Discord is to be forced to be in harmony with others. One's own life—that is the important thing. As for the lives of one's neighbors, if one wishes to be a prig or a Puritan, one can flaunt one's moral views about them, but they are not one's concern. Besides, individualism has really the higher aim. Modern morality consists in accepting the standard of one's age. I consider that for any man of culture to accept the standard of his age is a form of the grossest immorality.”

“But, surely, if one lives merely for one's self, Helen, one pays a terrible price for doing so?” asked Dorian. He was desperate for her spoiled wisdom.

“Yes, we are overcharged for everything nowadays. I should fancy that the real tragedy of the poor is that they can afford nothing but self-denial. Beautiful sins, like beautiful things, are the privilege of the rich.”

Ah, she was so good at getting him intrigued. He felt he could stay here all day picking apart philosophical quandaries, holding ideas up in the light, discovering them to be as transparent as an insect's wings.

“One has to pay in other ways but money,” said Dorian.

“Oh! Yes, one pays in remorse, in suffering, in . . . well, in the consciousness of degradation,” said Helen, shrugging. “My dear fellow, medieval art is charming, but medieval emotions are out of date. Believe me, no civilized man ever regrets a pleasure, and no uncivilized man ever knows what a pleasure is. Now love away, dear Dorian, but I know you know what pleasure is,” said Helen, raising her eyebrow suggestively.

Memories of their sexual escapades rushed into his mind. He blinked them away, or as away as he could. Nowadays in his consciousness, there seemed always to be a breast here and an erection there. Sexual imagery had become a part of his mind's luxurious décor.

“Yes, I know what pleasure is,” he said. “But there are fleeting pleasures and then there are lasting ones. When you adore someone as I adore Rosemary, the pleasure is much deeper, much more real feeling than just . . .” he stopped talking. It still felt improper to say the word “fucking” to a woman. But to call it lovemaking would be wrong. They had never made love. And last night's incidents backstage? Why, that was just cruelty.

“Oh, yes, to adore. It is certainly better than being adored,” said Helen, and laughed dryly. “Being adored is a nuisance. Rosemary treats you just as humanity treats its gods. She worships you.”

“You must admit, Helen, that women give to men the very gold of their lives,” said Dorian.

“Possibly,” she sighed, “But I'm still pretty golden and I don't see old Lord Wotton anywhere, do you? Anyway, back to this issue of fleeting and lasting pleasures, I'm afraid I disagree with you. Right now, you are bewitched. You have no concept of time. Love is life, Dorian, and time dries up all life. Only the life of love dies much sooner than that of flesh. That is why marriage is so depressing. Its victims have no idea that what they are signing up for as eternity is merely a season, a brief springtime that will freeze up and starve like every other.”

“Helen, you are dreadful! I don't know why I like you so much.”

“You will always like me, Dorian,” she said. Her eyes were lit with an exquisite fire. There was a radiance about her. Her parted lips were smiling over some secret of their own. “Because I will always tell you the truth.” She hesitated. “Why did you not open the package I had delivered to you?”

“I apologize,” he said. “I shall do so later.”

“You may want to open it before you go,” she said.

“It contains an important truth that, based on what I am hearing, is rather pressing.”

Dorian shook his head. Helen was getting into his head again, and he would not have it, not when his mind was made up for Rosemary.

“Helen, this behavior we've been engaging in, it was perhaps, in some blasphemous way, necessary to me. It awakened my soul. But my soul is one that wants to do good. It wants to be with Rosemary, for she is the pinnacle of all that is good. I must insist that you go now as I have to go find my love and repent.”

He did not wait for her to respond, and fled his own home as if it were infested with vermin. When he got into the warm air, he believed he was free to love the woman he wanted and for his soul to do good. His was a beautiful existence. Even the portrait must be smiling for him.


osemary badly wanted Dorian's cock inside her— more badly than ever before. How ever had she taken it for granted, so much so that she'd been refusing it all these weeks? She lay in a thin chemise, turning on top of her ruffled bed. She had just read his letter for the sixth time before tossing it in the air so that its pages could land at random all over her—his apologies and promises to be read by her needy flesh. She closed her eyes and willed a dream of him.

After she'd stormed out of his house, her virginity dripping its scarlet loss down her stockings, she stumbled toward home in a kind of vertigo, still dizzied from the heights she'd fallen from—heights of unthinkable pleasure, and unbearable pain. Halfway to her house, she became queasy and ducked into a hansom. She blurted her address in a sob, then lay on her side to avoid the fire that was burning along her bottom. Her crotch felt mutilated and she dreaded whatever inspection she was bound to give it in her lonely insomnia later that night. Once home, she lay in bed for a day, getting up only to relieve herself—acts that made her cry out and relive the wreckage her love had dealt her all over again.

She vowed never to see Dorian Gray again. The days that followed were the worst she could remember. She received a pile of letters from her father that she returned unopened. Then the letters from Dorian started popping up, frenzied notes that she opened slowly, all of them disappointing her. He explained that what he had been showing her, when he spanked and strangled her (though he used the neologisms “love-smacked” and “life-clutched”), he had been performing age-old moves of love that couples had shared throughout time. He insisted she was too naïve to understand, that in time she would learn. He apologized for giving her too much too soon.

But this latest letter was different. His handwriting was a frenzied sprint across the pages, troubling itself to keep within the margins. He assured her that he had never wished to harm her and that he, too, had been shaken by his violence. He wrote of his mother, a beautiful blue-eyed Englishwoman with chestnut hair, much like hers. Rosemary was moved to learn that they had both lost their mother as infants, that he carried around in that magnificent soul of his a sorrow much like hers. He wrote that he was telling her something he had never told anyone: that deep down, he loathed his mother for leaving him, that part of him just wanted to hurt her for the pain she'd caused him with her absence—voluntary or not. Rosemary bore such an uncanny resemblance to this exquisite woman upon whom he'd built a life of missing, Dorian wrote, that she had been fated—just that once—to take Mother Gray's beatings.

And he told her he loved her.

“I love you, I love you. My Rosemary. You're my life.

” And he asked her to marry him.

“Marry me, marry me. My Rosemary. Be my wife.”

Oh, the poetry! She kicked her legs and squealed.
Mrs. Dorian Gray!
She leaped up before the dressing mirror and did a pirouette, then curtsied to herself, imagining she was at a lavish ball where she and Dorian were the most talked-about guests, the most anticipated.

“Ah, yes, the name is Lady Dorian Gray,” said Rosemary to her reflection, extending a hand to the glass. “Thank you, ah, you look lovely, too! Yes, it's been a splendid spring.” She patted her stomach and gave a bashful smile. “Oh, yes, this gown doesn't hide a thing, does it? The child is due in August!”

Yes, she would see him. After all, could anything be worse than a life apart from Dorian Gray? So he needed to hit his mother every now and again, and she happened to look like her and was thus destined for those blows. What of it? Sex, she was learning all too quickly, was terribly complicated, and she was no saint either. She'd let him have her when he wasn't even courting her. Besides, he'd promised that he would never hit her again, and she believed him. Oh, with all her heart she believed him.

But she would have to wait to see him. She lifted her chemise and grimaced at the bulky diaper she wore. The monthly occurrence of bleeding from her womb was upon her. No man would want her in this condition. And she well knew what could happen to women who became upset by a man during this time. They could go mad. Gushing blood and prone to hysteria . . . no, she would have to wait to see her love, her husband, the father of her unconceived child. They would have many children, she would insist upon that. Any child with a drop of Dorian Gray in him or her would be in terrific luck, but Rosemary was not so bad herself. She appraised herself approvingly in the mirror. Yes, with her chestnut hair and his hooded gray eyes . . . oh, they would be such a beautiful family!

She returned to her bed. It was the middle of a gentle summer day, but it was mandatory in her condition that she remain in bed until the blood-letting was over. She mustn't get too excited either. Peace and quiet—that was what was prescribed for this monthly malady.

As she was dozing off, her butler tapped on her door.

“Yes?” she said, covering herself up. “You may enter.” Parker peeped in. He seemed to know of what Rosemary suffered at this time and regarded her with trepidation, scarcely making eye contact with her and always keeping his gloves on.

“Miss Hall, I have Mr. Dorian Gray at the door. Shall I send him away again?”

Oh, dear. This was a dilemma. If she sent him away, he would likely interpret that as another rejection. She felt that she may be running out of rejections. Dorian Gray was a gorgeous young man with all of England—and probably America, too, if he so chose it—at his fingertips. How long would he wait around for a painter who was not getting any younger and who was, in fact, two years older than him? If she didn't accept him now, she could lose him forever.

“No, Parker, send him in, please.”

“To the sitting room?” asked Parker.

Ah, yes, it would be inappropriate to have him come in here. Ah, yes, this bleeding womb was causing some crazed thoughts indeed!

“The sitting room, thank you,” she said. Parker bowed and left, giving the knob an extra turn to be sure the door was securely shut.

Rosemary scrambled out of bed and ran to her wardrobe.
She felt a warm glob of blood drop out of her.

She chose a royal blue satin gown—a gift from her father last Christmas—that she had been saving for a special event. She had fantasized that she would wear it on a date with Dorian to the theater, particularly to a performance of
Romeo & Juliet
, her favorite play. Oh, back then, just the thought of leaving her painting studio with him seemed an impossible thing. What a fairy tale it all was! Rosemary Hall, the shy painter who had banished herself to a lone life of art, would marry a wealthy and beautiful man, the very man of her, as it turned out, very real dreams.

When she emerged from her bedroom, she felt as if she were in the future, and she was coming out to meet her husband and off they would go into a night of enchantment. If only she didn't have this cumbrous swaddling around her bottom. She could hear it rustling under her petticoats.

Dorian was sitting at the piano. How many times she had come to greet him there! And all to lead to this moment: when she would promise to never leave him again.

“Dorian,” she said.

As he turned to look at her, his mouth dropped. She felt him taking in her beauty, becoming more pleased with the choice to make her his wife when he could have any woman in England. And, Rosemary reminded herself, probably America, if he liked. The thought of American women gave her a quick pinch of anxiety. They would swarm all over him! She remembered something Helen had said when Rosemary remarked how true it was that all American women were beautiful.

“They only behave as if they were beautiful. It is the secret of their charm.”

Rosemary had a heavy feeling in her chest that no matter where she was in life, no matter how far from Helen Wotton she got herself—and Dorian—that cold voice would always be with her, chucking its cruel insights at her every experience.

BOOK: Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray
11.81Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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