Authors: Chloe Cox
Copyright 2012 Chloe Cox
The man’s eyes never left Lucia’s, even as he forced the other woman to her knees.
It was Lucia who had caused all of this. Lucia, the lone Bacchanal virgin amongst her small group of friends, bewildered by the bright lantern lights, by the sounds of flesh sliding against flesh, and, most of all, by the strong amberwine, had tripped and fallen against a nearly naked woman. When she’d turned to apologize, she’d at first seen only skin. Bare skin, glowing softly, and so very much of it.
Then she’d looked up and seen the collar. And the leash.
Lucia knew vaguely about the darker Bacchanal Societies, but she never really understood the particulars about what those Societies actually did. Just that it was risky, that it was sex, that it involved power and sometimes pain. And that she secretly, so secretly, wished to know more.
And it had looked like now she finally would. The red armband the woman wore identified her as a member of the Severille Society, just as Lucia’s own white band identified her as a Bacchanal virgin.
The nearly naked Severille woman, her large, pale breasts barely concealed beneath a cascade of shining black hair, had stumbled back, her hand moving to the collar at her neck. Holding the end of the woman’s lead stood a muscular man in a black leather vest. They both wore matching red masks over their eyes. The man’s mouth was set in a grim line.
“You stray, slave?” he’d said to the woman.
Lucia had trouble hearing above the excited buzz of the pre-Bacchanal crowd, and she’d been unable to move, transfixed by this couple. The crowd, happy and liquid and free with amberwine and anticipation, flowed easily around them. Lucia had no idea where her friends had gone, and wouldn’t have wanted them to see her reaction to what came next.
The man had come up behind his slave and gathered her dark hair in his hand, exposing her round breasts. Her light brown nipples puckered at his touch, and Lucia felt a dull, answering pulse between her own legs. The woman was naked except for her skirt, which was slit all the way up her leg—naked right in the street! Another hand quickly appeared from under the woman’s arm and began to toy with one excited bud, and Lucia’s cheeks burned at the sight—and not only from embarrassment. How could she let him do this? There’d been whistles from the crowd, and even some applause. The woman’s plump lips had parted in pleasure, and the pulse between Lucia’s legs grew stronger.
“It was my fault!” Lucia had blurted out. “I tripped and fell against her.”
That was when the man in the mask looked right at Lucia, and smiled. He’d spun his slave around to face him and forced her to her knees, his hand wrapped in a knot of her hair, his eyes locked on Lucia.
Now the blood rose in Lucia’s cheeks as she held his stare, and she felt her own nipples stiffen. She crossed her arms without thinking.
“You’ve displeased me, slave,” the man in the red mask said. Lucia knew he spoke to the woman at his feet, and yet she felt a twinge of shame herself. “Now please me, instead.”
There was a cry of approval from the crowd that had started to knot around their little display. The slave’s hands rose up her master’s legs to his groin and deftly freed his cock, letting it hang heavy and arrogant outside his trousers. Then the woman’s head dipped down, and her long tongue unfurled to lick the length of the shaft, coaxing it to full size in only a few moments.
The drums were coming closer as word spread, the crowd getting thicker. Lucia was still at the edge of the tight circle forming around the Severille couple, but pressed in now by hot, hard bodies.
The woman appeared to be taking her time with the head of her master’s cock, but only for a moment. Her master still watched Lucia as he twisted her hair in his fist.
And he thrust full forward, pulling the woman down on his hard cock, fucking her mouth while he smiled at Lucia.
Lucia opened her own lips and stepped forward, determined to stop it—this was too rough, too much—but then there was a hand on her arm. She turned to find an older woman with eyes as green as her own and only a few extra lines around her mouth.
“Don’t interrupt,” the green-eyed woman whispered. “You’ll ruin it for her.”
As if on cue, the slave moaned onto her master’s cock.
Lucia looked again, and this time she wondered only at the Severille slave’s confidence, at her ability to be free, to be herself, in front of all these people. To be so open and honest about who she was, and what she desired. That was a luxury Lucia knew she would never have, not in her real life, not even in the giddy fantasy of Bacchanal, and briefly the familiar grief and loneliness took hold of her.
Lucia thought to herself.
Don’t let me think about that tonight.
The drums grew louder and closer, beating out a hard rhythm for the master in the mask, and the crowd cheered with it. Both the master’s hands came down on his slave’s head, his hips thrusting hard, and Lucia swayed in time with them without thinking. She fell back, was caught by the crowd, and felt a tiny thrill at the contact. On the edges of her vision she saw other couples forming, hands wandering, the fever of Bacchanal sparking to life here, in this no-name street, all because of some mistake she had made. She felt woozy, a little drunk with amberwine, and now a little drunk with the fever.
So this is Bacchanal,
she thought, and finally understood why it was the most important week of the year.
There were unknown hands on her hips, but she swayed on, a dizzily contented smile on her face, forgetting about the white band around her arm, forgetting her own inhibitions entirely. The Severille master groaned, and the hands traveled on, someone’s hot body close behind hers, her hips rising on their own as those hands moved over her tight ass. The pounding in her blood beat in time with the drums of Bacchanal, and with the Severille master’s thrusts. She felt those unknown hands gather the ends of her dress, her carefully chosen drab dress, the one she’d picked to appear uninteresting and unattractive, and as the Severille master let out a growl and pushed his slave to the ground, legs spread, and fell upon her right there in the street, Lucia felt a hot hand thrust from behind, beneath her skirt and between her legs. Heat bloomed from the spot, and spread out to her skin, and suddenly all that mattered was that feeling.
She was almost lost to the Bacchanal when David found her.
“Lucia!” he shouted, and grabbed her arm, ignorant of the magical hand beneath her skirts. Instead David pulled her away, through the crowd, which was now full of couples, and toward a tavern on the corner. They stumbled across the cobblestones to the relative shelter of the tavern’s nondescript backdoor, where Lucia stopped suddenly and steadied herself against the wall.
It was all right for normal people to let themselves go like that, but Lucia Lyselle was not normal. She had too much to lose.
.” David grinned, mistaking her disorientation for a happier state of mind. “Not compared to the Dance of the Seasons.”
“Come on,” her best friend needled her, reaching for her hand again. “Paolo Ramora keeps asking about you, and I’m afraid he’ll stop buying wine if I don’t deliver.”
Lucia sighed, and looked up to the tavern’s second floor balcony. That was Paolo’s usual place. Unlike Lucia and David, whose fathers were both master amberwine distillers in the Vintner’s Guild, Paolo’s family was in banking. Paolo’s family was also absurdly wealthy. And connected. And they owned the debt on the Lyselle amberwine business, something that Paolo never let her forget.
He’s not nasty about it,
and he could be.
It was more that he simply
how much power he had, and so he didn’t need to flaunt it. But this Bacchanal might be the occasion when he at last chose to wield that power. Paolo had always had an eye for Lucia, and it had become clear that Paolo was her best chance for the sort of wealthy marriage her family needed—
he’d have her.
It was the last thing that Lucia wanted, although she would never tell anyone that, lest they suspect how truly different she felt inside. All the other young women of their small circle aspired to exactly that: marriage to a wealthy man, a man who would one day be powerful. But Lucia watched the wives of men who were already powerful, and none of them seemed to be leading lives that she wanted to live. They’d be trotted out for all the important festivals and events where Lyselle amberwine was served, and expected to make a precise form of limited conversation: nothing of importance, nothing of consequence. Then they’d be sent back to their respective homes while their husbands pursued their own interests. They’d always reminded Lucia of the trained seals she’d seen one year in a traveling circus: miserable, humiliated, out of their element, barking for food and a stray pat. Awful.
And yet, she had her father to worry about. They were almost out of money.
She shuddered. The only thing worse than getting married would be
getting married, and a man like Paolo Ramora would never marry her if he knew what she really thought about, well, anything. Or if he thought he could have her whenever he pleased. Her grandmother had always been very clear on that point:
Keep yourself to yourself. Don’t let them in. Always be attractive.
to focus on the future.
“Paolo is coming with us?” she asked David, her mind just returning to the present. She’d assumed that Paolo and his money would get in to a better class of party for the Dance of the Seasons. The Dance was the opening of the Bacchanal, the most important ritual in the city of J’Amel. Most people watched the official ceremony from the hills, and joined in with their own inauguration celebrations. Only the most important luminaries—and their beautiful escorts—gained entry to the ancient amphitheater where the rite was held. It was rumored that things happened there, that people were…overcome. Lucia was glad that she would be watching from the hills.
“So he says.”
Lucia frowned. That certainly complicated an already complicated evening.
Paolo’s confident, musical laugh trickled down from the balcony. Lucia imagined the other girls of her circle fawning over him: Jesella would squeeze her breasts together, Marina would touch his arm. None of it made her jealous. She wondered why Paolo wanted her above all the others.
And she feared it, too, because she feared that she was different, and if Paolo knew her, he’d want nothing to do with her. Lucia tried not to worry about it too much, as no man she’d ever met had seemed to sense what she held inside of her. Except, perhaps, for the Severille master. Watching that display had reminded her of the darkness she sometimes felt deep inside, but was afraid to explore. It had been like swimming in the ocean and feeling something unknown brush against your leg. She wasn’t sure what she was, and she wondered if the Dance would force her to see, once and for all.
“Have you ever seen it?
seen it?” she whispered, stopping David just before he opened the door to the tavern. “The Dance of the Seasons?”
David laughed. “Of course not.”
“Do you think the stories are true?”
David studied her for a moment, his eyebrow arched in that expressive way of his.
“Well,” he finally said, “we’ll just watch from far away, and see if we can come up with any blackmail material.”
And he held open the door to the darkened tavern.
~ ~ ~
Paolo twisted out the cork of yet another bottle of amberwine, and Lucia groaned. Her tolerance was pathetic for a vintner’s daughter.
“What’s wrong, Lucia?” Paolo’s voice flowed over the noise of Bacchanal, smooth and slick, like spilled oil. It made Lucia nervous. “Not as good as the Duke’s?”
Not this again. Lucia’s father John had won, for the first time, the contract to make the Duke’s Bacchanal Blend. It should have made his career. With any luck, it might help bring them halfway out of debt. And it was an incredible accomplishment; Lucia herself had helped to distill over a hundred different varietals, and she’d watched her father balance the final blend. It did all the things amberwine was supposed to do—enhance sensation, erase inhibition, and aid virility, while protecting against pregnancy (or so the local whore’s association assured them)—but this vintage brought with it a peaceful euphoria unlike any other. They had gambled everything on its success. And breaking the seals before the Duke did, on the final night of Bacchanal, was still very much considered a capital crime.