tagBDSMLa Contessa Ch. 23

La Contessa Ch. 23


Chapter 23: The Reckoning

The return journey from the hunting lodge is long and miserable. Julia and I are kept apart, so we both face the long hours along the bumpy roads alone, left to speculate La Contessa's next move. The abrupt ending of her punishments in the olive press, and the sudden departure of her entourage for the palazzo, has provided no hint as to how she will deal with either of us.

Back in the palazzo we are confined to our room under the strict instruction there can be no communication between us until La Contessa returns to Venice. The curious thing is we are not kept as prisoners; my room is not locked. When Vincenzo brings a tray of food for me the first evening after our arrival he explains that Julia and I are permitted no contact but are both entirely free to leave if we choose. I question him about this.

"You mean I can walk out the palazzo at any time?"

"Yes, my friend, that's how I understand it. If we see either of you leaving, we've been told not to stop you. It's been made clear you're not to be kept against your will. So, what will you do?"

"Oh, I've no intention of leaving," I reply. "I have to face La Contessa's judgement, and I can't leave Julia to face this on her own."

"I thought not. Good luck Roberto. I know it cuts no ice with the mistress, but the other staff are behind you. They don't want to see you or Julia thrown out of the palazzo."

"Thanks Vincenzo. Your support means a lot."

I keep to the confines of my room for two days after which La Contessa arrives back from the hunting lodge. In the evening I receive message of an appointment with her at eleven the next morning.

I'm despondent. If she dismisses me, which I'm expecting, then I'll be upset not least because my own arrogance and carelessness has betrayed us. I've loved my time in the palazzo, loved serving mistress, and I will miss being part of her twisted sexual games. But it's Julia I feel for. She's spent her adult life serving La Contessa. To lose all this will be devastating for her. And where this leaves me and Julia, I don't know.

The next day I'm taken to La Contessa's chambers. When I enter she's sitting at her bureau, her back turned, deep in conversation with two flamboyantly dressed men. Julia is already there. She looks terrible; her hair dishevelled and her eyes blood shot as if she's been crying the last couple of days. It's heart-rending to see her in this state as she usually has such an uplifting disposition and always looks well-presented and beautifully made-up. Becky is there too. The three of us are wearing our uniforms in La Contessa's livery, which is unusual for the girl as she usually wears no clothes.

La Contessa finishes off her business and, as the two men turn to one side, I recognise them. It's Viola and Lucretia, as I know them.

"Yes, Contessa, piracy is a terrible thing," says Viola.

"I know, it's simply shocking," echoes Lucretia.

"Such a shame. A whole ship's worth of goods too. The value of the cargo must have been enormous," says La Contessa.

"A veritable fortune, my dear."

"What will the Doge and the Council of Ten do now? They have such massive debts," says Lucretia.

"Indeed, they do," La Contessa smirks. "And the interest on them is considerable... and will need to be paid."

"My dear, you should dress as a pirate for the Carnevale Ball," suggests Viola.

"That would be deliciously daring, darling," Lucretia adds.

La Contessa laughs. "Perhaps I will. You are coming then, I take it."

"Oh we wouldn't miss it for anything, would we?"

"It's the highlight of the Venetian social calendar, my dear, and I believe this year's will be especially entertaining."

"Until then my friends," says La Contessa concluding her business.

What a double act they are! It's strange to think back to my chance meeting with these two transvestites only to find they act as her nefarious agents.

When they turn around they instantly recognise me.

"Well, look who it is?" says Viola.

"I hear you've been a naughty boy."

"A very naughty boy!"

Lucretia turns to La Contessa, "If you've no use for him, we'll take him off your hands."

"Yes, we can find plenty of uses for him, my dear."

I nod to acknowledge their good humoured banter.

After Lucretia and Viola leave, La Contessa spins around from her bureau to confront us. She's dressed, demurely for her, in a simple velvet dress with a cameo broach at its neck, her hair piled on her head, and held in place by two ivory combs. She's dressed for business, but is no less a formidable figure for that. The doubt and confusion of those final moments in the olive press are gone; there's clarity in her eyes and her voice is calm and authoritative.

"So, my slave, you have knowingly gone behind your mistress's back to indulge your own sexual desires with my most trusted personal maid. Why should I not throw you back into the alleyways of the Cannaregio where I found you?"

This is the moment of reckoning. In the days since our return to the palazzo I've been running through my head how I could reply to this very question. There's no answer I can give. I would dearly love to continue serving La Contessa but I have to face up to it; when I see it from my mistress's perspective, my behaviour has been abominable.

"I have no excuses mistress. From the moment we met there was a spark of attraction between me and Julia and, it's true, neither of us has been able to control it, despite knowing it wasn't permitted. I understand how my behaviour offended mistress and I can only say I will accept whatever judgement you reach. I do love Julia, I can't help it. But, despite what I've done, I respect mistress, and this time I've spent in the palazzo as your slave have been special. I would dearly love to continue serving mistress but acknowledge the matter is entirely in your hands."

There, I've said what I needed to. Her expression betrays nothing.

"So, Becky, I know you are not guilty of any deception, but you have unwittingly found yourself a protagonist in this episode. Do you have anything to say for yourself?"

"Only that my desire is only to serve you mistress. I do whatever mistress requires from me and surrender to her will and, in doing so, I bear no ill-will to Julia or Roberto. It's a privilege to submit to such an awesome and cruel, but fair, mistress. The staff of her household have only ever treated me with kindness and respect."

"Ah, now I turn to you my maid. You have had time to reflect. Is there anything else you have to say?"

"There's nothing I can add, madam. I've opened myself up to you and expressed my innermost feelings. I love you and would do anything to continue serving you. There's nothing else I can do or say to change that, so I can only submit to your judgement," Julia explains with dignity despite the emotional turmoil she's obviously in.

La Contessa turns back to Becky, "What would you do my slave girl? How do you think I should deal with my disobedient servants?"

Becky looks wide-eyed and startled. I doubt anybody's asked her opinion about anything before!

"Oh... me, mistress? You really want to know what I think?" she stammers, flustered because the person she submits to so completely, the person she's so used to obeying, wants to hear her view.

"Yes girl. I want your opinion on this subject. Contrary to what you might think, I listen to my servants. After all, I have to understand them to come up with the most fitting punishments for them," she smiles.

"Oh, well." she stutters hesitantly before growing in confidence. "I do have a view, mistress. You see, I've spent much of my life trying to find out who I am, trying to come to terms with my submissive nature. It's taken me into dark places and I've made poor choices or circumstances have driven me into bad places, but now I've found the mistress I can truly give myself up to. But the lesson I've learned is to stay true to who I am. Now, if Julia and Roberto truly love one another, and I believe they do, I believe they should be given the chance to express those feelings. I can see in what she says and does that Julia is devoted to you mistress. She lives for you, far more than I. If you sent me away from you I would be bereft, but I would find another master or mistress to serve because that's my nature. I've observed her, and I believe she needs you, as a benefactor and... as a friend even."

I steal a glance across at Julia. She has turned to Becky with a look of open-mouthed amazement. Neither of us expected her view to be canvassed, let alone to find such an articulate ally in her.

"And I've observed Roberto and I think he too is devoted to you, mistress, in his own way. He may not have the same submissive nature as I, but he is willing to do anything to serve you mistress. So, I believe it would be sad if they had to give up their love for one another and a shame, and loss to mistress, to lose them as servants. But, I understand mistress's dilemma. They have disobeyed you and gone behind your back and, for that, they should be punished. But whether the punishment should be expulsion from mistress's household, only mistress can decide."

I don't think I've heard Becky say more than two sentences in the time she's been serving in La Contessa's household, yet here she is with such an eloquent summing up of the situation.

La Contessa sits at her bureau, concentration etched on her face. Julia looks pensive. Now is surely the moment of truth. What will her mistress decide?

La Contessa composes herself. She stands up, the heels of her boots click ominously on the tiled floor as she takes up her position in front of the three of us, the imposing dominatrix she is.

"Julia...," she pauses for what seems like an age and Julia looks as though she's about to burst. "I took you into my service many years ago when you were a young orphan and you have served me loyally since then. There are times when I have truly valued your companionship over those years though I may never have said so. For that reason I cannot find it in my heart to dismiss you. You may stay as my maid."

There is an outpouring of relief and emotion from Julia, "Oh, madam. Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you for your forgiveness."

"Wait, there is more. I have listened to what you say and respect that you have exposed your innermost feelings for me. You may love me if you wish, my maid, but I cannot vouch the love can be returned in the way you desire it. I can involve you in my play perhaps, but you must understand you cannot be an equal; you must always be subservient to my needs. Do you understand that?"

"Yes mistress, I accept what you say. I'm so relieved mistress has given me another chance."

"And the boy," La Contessa says waving her hand dismissively at me, "do you still love him?"

"Yes mistress, I do, though in a different way."

"Listen to me Julia. I will not have any jealousy or rivalry in my household. I will use my slaves however I see fit, and for whatever tasks I wish. So, such envy of my slave girl you hold must be cast aside. Can you do this?"

"Yes, yes, madam, I can find it in my heart to do that."

She flings herself at Becky and throws her arms around her. The girl doesn't know how to respond, but eventually closes her arms around Julia to give her a hug.

"Thank you, Becky. I shall always be indebted to you for your generous words. I see you never intended me or Roberto any harm."

Becky looks bemused, "My mistress asked me and I gave an honest opinion. What else would I do?"

I smile. Now, that's the mark of a true submissive, to define all you say and do in terms of servitude to your mistress.

"Ah, now we come to my slave, Roberto. What am I to do with you? You are too cocky for a slave; which is a lesson you will have to learn for the future..."

"...for the future," I gasp.

"That is an excellent example, interrupting your mistress before she's finished! Yes, despite all, I have rather come to enjoy your company. You amuse me. Also, I am pleased with the rapport established between my slave and slave girl. So, yes, I will retain you in my household."

"Thank you, mistress. Thank you so much. I'm speechless."

"Well, that will make a change. There is one final thing. I have toyed with you over these last months. I could have brought your liaison to an end at any time but I chose not to. I do not object to sex as such. There are lessons I will take from this whole affair. Consequently, I will allow you and Julia to continue your relationship, though of course your needs must be subservient to your mistress's at all times. Is this clear? And to be fair I will extend this relaxation of my rules to the rest of my household staff."

"Madam. I don't know what to say..."

"I've made my judgement; I need no fawning exclamations of gratitude. Let us draw a line under this episode. I want us to move on in the context of this new understanding of my wishes. There is the Carnevale to prepare for. I want my staff and slaves focused on that. You will all have a role to play. Julia, I will give you and Roberto this afternoon off as you will, no doubt, wish to share your reactions to my decisions. But I want you back this evening to discuss my costume for the Carnevale. I like the idea of a pirate... a debauched, dominatrix pirate. It amuses me... though I doubt the Doge will enjoy the joke. You are dismissed for now."

With a wave of La Contessa's hand we troop out of her boudoir.

Once outside, Julia is jumping up and down, ecstatic with joy.

"I can't believe it! I was expecting the worse. I can still serve her and keep my lover. I thought I'd end up with nothing."

"I'm shocked. I don't know what to make of it," I reply.

"I'm pleased for you both," interrupts Becky. "I did not want to see your chance for love taken away."

"We are the best of friends, Becky," says Julia. "I understand you are only ever serving madam as loyally as I do. I see you did nothing to drive a wedge between me and Roberto. I'm sorry if I've ever treated you badly. But why did she have us back? Why would she let us carry on seeing one another?"

"Julia, you have to remember she was playing with us all along, watching us carry on like we did amused her. I think your declaration of love shocked her though. I was watching her reaction, and it was like a jolt went through her. She didn't realise... and she didn't know how to react. In a strange way, I actually think she's grown fond of us."

Julia grabs hold of my hand and pulls me along the corridor.

"Enough talking! Sorry Becky," she calls back, "if you'll excuse us, Roberto and I have got an afternoon to do some catching up, if you know what I mean..."

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