A Lady of Thornsbydr_mabeuse©
I don't go into florist's very often, so I never paid any attention to the one that was around the corner from my place. It was tucked between an empty storefront and another shop that repaired windows and mirrors, part of a string of little stores that had been carved out of the basements of a row of apartment buildings on Clark Street a long time ago. The front door was below street level, so t you had to walk down a half-dozen steps or so to get to it. I never saw anyone coming in or out, so I didn't pay them any attention at all. They were invisible to me, a part of the street.
Then one morning waiting for the bus I happened to notice the shop and it occurred to me that this might be a great way to apologize to Mandy, who was still pretty upset about our last play session, where I had tried the crop on her for the first time. She hadn't liked it at all, and it looked like my attempts to turn her into a D/s partner were about to hit the same old brick wall as all my others. I'd apologized, but flowers wouldn't hurt. Besides, it was so convenient. I could just stop by the florist after work, order her some roses and have them sent over. It couldn't be easier.
It's pretty rare that I remember anything of what I was thinking in the morning by the time I get home, but this time I did, and as soon as I got off the bus I trotted down the stairs to the florist and walked in.
There was the hot, humid atmosphere of a green house and the overpowering smell of flowers. The scent was so thick that the air actually seemed viscous, but it was delicious for all that. It was a tiny place, and so crammed with flowers and plants that it took me a minute to find the counter. There was no one there that I could see, but I could hear a canary singing in the back.
"Hello?" I called.
A woman's voice called out from the back. "Be right with you!"
I stuck my face in a bunch of flowers, inhaling deeply. Outside it was grey and cold, but it was very nice in here.
She was about the same age as me, a woman just losing the bloom of youth and settling into a handsome maturity, with just enough lines to give her face some character. She had mousy brown hair gathered into a ponytail and wore jeans and a tee-shirt with a gray florist's smock thrown over that. Her pockets were filled with shears, pruners, string and other florist stuff, and as she entered the shop she was absorbed in applying a band aid to her finger. There were several band aids already on both hands..
"Hi," she said without looking up. "What can I do for you?"
"I wanted to buy some flowers." I said.
She finished with the band aid and looked at me for the first time. Her eyes were dark, clear brown. She waved her bandaged hand in the air. "Sorry," she said. "I was cutting roses. The thorns always get me."
"You should wear gloves." I said.
"Gloves?" She raised her eyebrows, as if that were a novel idea. She smiled. "Yes. I suppose I should. Now what did you say about flowers?"
I bought a dozen red roses and told her where to have them sent, and she got them from the cooler: beautiful, long-stemmed flowers, with a scent that would be overpowering if it came from anything but a rose.
But the real story here wasn't the flowers I sent to Mandy. It was meeting Virginia for the first time. That was her name and she was the owner and sole proprietor. She'd been working around the corner from my apartment for five years without my knowing it at all.
She wasn't very busy that day--she was never really busy—and I was so amazed at having stumbled into this tropical hothouse in the slush of March in Chicago that I just stuck around a little bit. She didn't seem to mind, and was happy to stand at the counter and chat.
There was something about her that I liked immediately. She was very calm, very placid and self-possessed, but she wasn't at all cold or remote. She seemed like someone who had come through a very rough time and had discovered that she could survive on her own. She was pretty, and she could have been beautiful if she'd wanted to take the trouble. She was nicely built with visible curves that were visible beneath the smock; athletic. She had a way of holding herself that was wonderfully feminine, a natural grace.
I was divorced and pretty much recovered from the worst of it. I really was not looking for a long term relationship, but for the past year or so had been trying to find a partner with whom I could explore my sudden fascination with sexual dominance and submission, an interest that had appeared suddenly and unexpectedly a couple of months after I got back on my feet.
You don't have to be Sigmund Freud to come up with a theory of why a guy who's been dragged through the mud by a angry and determined harridan might find the idea of tying up a woman kind of appealing. At least that's the way I understood it at first. I figured it would pass.
But it didn't go away. It seemed to have taken a surprisingly firm grip on my imagination, to the point where I was haunting online chat rooms and actually purchasing equipment and gear. My attraction to D/s seemed to be deep and visceral and connected to feelings I'd had for as long as I could remember, and I began to wonder if my first analysis of my fascination had been right. Maybe this was more than a symbolic desire for revenge.
But I was finding it very hard to meet a woman who shared my interest in the slightest. I didn't have enough experience to approach people on the internet, and my attempts to broach the subject with the women I saw socially had all been failures, of which Mandy was just the latest. I didn't want to plunge into a D/s relationship all at once, body and soul. I just wanted to see what it was like. I just wanted to try it. It was very frustrating and discouraging.
So when I met Virginia I was just about ready to forget the whole thing. And without the curiosity about D/s to motivate me, I really wasn't very interested in finding a woman for female companionship. The pain of the failed marriage was still too sharp. So no bells started ringing, no rockets went off when I met her. It was nice to meet someone new in the neighborhood, and I liked her immediately.
Nothing might have come of it had it not been raining one morning a week or two later. It was a good, solid rain, partly frozen, and it was falling on the remains of the winter's snow, coating everything with sleet and turning the streets and sidewalks into swamps of freezing slush. A nasty, nasty day.
I was standing under my umbrella waiting for the bus when I heard someone call. I turned around and there was Virginia, waving out of the door of her shop. "Nice weather, huh?"
"Yeah. Beautiful." I said, smiling bitterly..
"Come on," she said. "You want to wait inside?"
"Christ yes!" I said, and I hurried over..
The shop was warm and as fragrant as it had been last time, and now there was the smell of something else too.
"Oh God! Is that coffee I smell?"
She laughed, and as she washed out a cup for me she asked, "How'd the flowers work out?"
"Great." I said. It was early and I still didn't have my wits about me, so I added. "Well, I guess you could say the operation was a success, but the patient died."
She handed me a cup of coffee and looked into my eyes with a directness and curiosity that surprised me. "She didn't like them?"
"Oh no, she liked them fine. It was me she couldn't stand."
She smiled ruefully. "Well, sorry. Too bad I can't give you a refund."
I let one bus go by, then another. It was a nasty day, everyone would be late for work, and it was nice in there with her, sitting in the tropical warmth and looking through the steamy window at the frozen misery outside. Virginia seemed happy for the company as she puttered around with her flowers, drink coffee, and took an occasional call..
The next day I stopped at the bakery and brought some rolls as a way of paying her back, and she invited me in again, pleased to see me. The coffee was already on. It didn't take long for this morning coffee to become a daily ritual. I'd bring some bagels or croissants on occasion, just to do my part, and though Virginia hardly ate them, she humored me and acted pleased.
After a while I started stopping in occasionally after work too on one pretext or another, and then I dropped the pretexts altogether. I became her one and only regular, and I'd sit on the stool she kept next to the counter surrounded by flowers--flowers bursting from vases, flowers cascading down from above, flowers laying in bunches on the counter.
It turned out that she lived right in the back of the store. That's how old the place was; it was built in the days when shopkeepers lived on the premises. She was a widow. Her husband had died a year or so before she opened the store; that's where she got the money. She never seemed to do much business, though she said most of her money came from supplying some of the local restaurants with fresh flowers and that's what paid the nut. Still a lot of it went unsold. When I left at night I could see piles of dead flowers out in the dumpster behind her place. That always made me sad.
I even started stopping in on Saturday. By then we were so close that she let me run the register, not that the opportunity arose that frequently, but I began to feel almost like her partner. If I was expecting a package or something, I'd have it sent to her shop. It gave me an extra excuse to drop in.
I was pretty hooked on her by now, and I figured she must feel the same way about me too. Why else would she put up with me? But the relationship seemed to stop at about arm's length and go no further, though by then I wanted it to. We were good friends and that's the way she seemed to want it. She just never showed that spark for me, that fire. It just never developed. It was like trying to push the wrong end of a magnet against another magnet. I could get so close and no closer, and I couldn't put my finger on the problem.
I asked her out a few times but she declined, gracefully, but with a smile that seemed to stop just this side of pity for me, as if she knew something that I—poor boy—would never know. After the third refusal I stopped asking her. I figured she must still be in mourning. That's what it felt like.
It was a windy evening in April with clouds scudding across the sky, casting moving shadows on the bare streets. Spring was in the air and there was that frantic, almost frightening feeling of life getting ready to burst out again, a feeling you only get in places that have severe and destroying winters. You could just feel things changing, the world accelerating. Even the flowers in the shop seemed unusually alive, their colors vivid.
I stopped by the shop when I got off the bus and found her arranging a centerpiece in the table against the back wall. In contrast to the feeling of activity outside, she seemed unusually tense, not her usual self.
"A package came for you today." she said. "It's behind the counter."
I wasn't expecting any package and didn't know what it could be. The return label said "Specialty Products, Inc." I shook it. It was fairly heavy, but something moved inside.
Virginia walked over, wiping her hands on her smock. "You might want to take that home to open it." she said.
I didn't understand.
She said: "I know that place. I used to order things from them too."
And then I remembered. Specialty Products was the dummy name used by a manufacturer of bondage equipment. There were whips inside. Handmade whips I had ordered weeks ago and totally forgotten about. My face got red.
"You did?" I asked.
I looked at her but she had turned back to the centerpiece and was cutting down roses, again wearing no gloves. Her hands were already covered with little red spots of blood.
"For Christ's sake, Virginia! Don’t you have any gloves to wear?"
She shrugged. "It doesn't bother me. It's the price you pay for working with roses. I almost like it, really."
She looked at her hands and then looked me.
And then I knew.
I saw it in her eyes and in her sad little smile and in the posture of her body. I couldn't believe it but I knew. I felt a thrill run up from my balls to my belly, but I had to be sure.
I cleared me throat. "Remember the first flowers I sent. The ones I sent to that girl?" I asked her.
"I never told you about her. What the problem was between us, I mean."
"It's none of my business." she said.
"No, I guess not. But I'll tell you anyway," I said. "She was angry with me because I whipped her. I used a riding crop on her."
My words hung in the air for a moment. Virginia didn't miss a beat as she arranged the flowers. It was as I'd just told her that roses were red.
"A lot of women don't like that kind of thing." she said quietly.
"I know." I said. "She didn't. I was experimenting. It was something I wanted to try."
"You should have found someone who likes it." she said. "Some women do. Some women like it very much."
She looked at me and held my gaze long enough for me to see that the fire was still there. It was down to a smolder, but it was still there.
"My husband never understood." she said. "He tried for a while, but he just couldn't understand. And since he died…" she shrugged.
I got off of my stool and put my cup down. I could hear my heart beating in my ears. in my ears.
"Do you miss it?"
She looked at me and gave me her rueful smile and nodded her head.
I walked over to her and took her arm.
I said: "Come on, Virginia. Let's go in the back."
Her eyes were down, unmoving, her hands still on the counter, but her shoulders were rising and falling with her breathing
"It's been so long." she said. "I'd given up. Even now, I don't know if I should."
I picked up her hands, holding them by the wrists, then turned them over and kissed them. All the little cuts, the little drops of blood, the scrapes. She stood close to me, letting me do it, not looking at me. When I finished kissing her hands I pressed them back against her body, holding her wrists. I pressed them hard and she pressed back, as if making herself small.
I held her against me, gripping her wrists tightly, almost to the point of hurting her, and she relaxed against me with a great sigh, as if a long and exhausting fight were finally over. She bent her head and rested it against my chest.
"Come in the back." I said.
"I've got to lock the door."
I watched the wild light outside the shop windows, the shadows running down the frigid street. She turned off the neon sign in the window and locked the front door. Somewhere outside I could hear a loose piece of metal was banging against the building in the wind.
She walked past me without a word and led me into the back, where I’d never been. There was in a small apartment there with the same hot and humid atmosphere as the shop out front, the smell of flowers. We entered the living room: a television, a daybed, a table, some lamps, and flowers in vases everywhere.
Virginia stood in the middle of the floor. She took off her florists' smock and dropped it in a chair. She hadn't looked at me since I'd touched her, and her eyes were down now.
"What do you want me to do?" she asked softly.
I had never done anything like this in my life. I had never seduced a woman, like this: both of us sober and fully aware of what we were doing and why. My experience with D/s was almost entirely theoretical, and I don't have an especially assertive or domineering personality. So I find it hard to explain my actions that day.
"I want you to take off your clothes." I said.
Virginia stood for a moment in thought. I realized that the mere act of following my orders would have an emotional impact for her. She wasn't deciding whether to obey me or not, she was deciding whether to give in to her desires to obey me, to re-enter a world she'd been away from for so long.
Finally she turned away. She took off her tee-shirt, folded it, and set it down. She stepped out of her shoes, then opened her pants and slid them down over her hips and stepped out of them. She folded her pants and laid them down on the chair.
She turned to me in her bra and panties and her socks., She didn't look at me. She had made her decision and had put herself in my hands. She was focused on her own feelings.
Time seemed unnaturally slow, prolonged. The air seemed thick and heavy. I was hard and I hadn't even noticed it. The feeling of power was intoxicating and yet felt vaguely silly or unreal, as if she might suddenly quit the game and we'd laugh about it. But she had no intention of quitting now.
I had just told her what to do and she had done it, but at the same time, it had hardly been me speaking. It was someone else, some other part of me and when I realized this, I suddenly didn’t know what to do.
Virginia held her hands over her breasts as if cold, although we were both perspiring. The furnace for the building was just outside her door.
She must have seen that I didn't know what to do. She kept her head down and said: "I need you to hold me. I need you to push me against the wall."
I didn't know what she meant. I went to her and put my arms around her naked shoulders and held her awkwardly for a moment. Then I suddenly understood. I pushed her back a step, two steps, until she bumped into the wall, and I pressed my body against her, leaning my weight on her and trapping her. I caught her wrists in my hands and pressed them back against the wall, pinning her like that, holding her. I reached my face to her and she let me kiss her, and then she started to struggle.
She tried to free her arms but her strength was no match for mine. She broke the kiss and pushed at me, arching her back away from the wall for leverage. Her struggles were real, but they lacked the frantic desperation of someone really trying to get free. She could have bit me, could have kneed me in the groin, could have screamed or just told me to let her go and I would have, but she didn't. She just kept twisting and writhing, trying to get her arms free
I realized it was something she had to do. She had to try her strength against me, feel me use my strength against her. It excited her. It was part of the ritual. She wanted to know that I was serious, that I wanted her that much that I was willing to take her.
It was a tense and strangely subdued struggle, no screaming, no cursing or crying. I held her there as she twisted and tugged, and all the time she was getting more and more aroused. Her hair fell into her face and her breasts began to slip out of her bra. Still she persisted, grimacing and grunting a little with the effort, arching her body off the wall, until finally she was exhausted and I felt her relax.
We stood like that while she caught her breath. I leaned my head against the wall next to hers, still holding her wrists. I was panting myself but it was not all from exertion. She lifted her face to me, her lips open, and I kissed her. There was surrender in her kiss. There was something beseeching in the way she accepted my tongue, a kind of willingness that intoxicated me. I'm ashamed to say it, but I felt powerful and masculine. I felt virile.
I had a glimpse of sanity for a minute, and I couldn't believe what I saw. What was I doing? I was overcome with sudden embarrassment and I let go of her wrists. But if I were trying to regain some control over myself, Virginia was not. She was flushed with excitement and she stepped over to the daybed, knelt down, and dragged out a cardboard box. I could see it was filled with rope and chain and leather implements.
I was shocked. The thought of her having this stuff hidden in her living room bewildered me, and my face showed my surprise..