Possession Ch. 05bytaniarice©
After Masha's confrontation with Dmitri, the rest of Beth's afternoon passed in somewhat of a blur. Once Masha's mood had abated, surprisingly she turned out to be rather pleasant company. Nevertheless, she continued to pry and her attempts to get Beth to reveal how she had got her bruises had all the subtlety of a blunt knife.
Beth knew she would feel entirely alone had it not been for Masha's presence. Given time, she might even bond with the other woman. She could tolerate being interrogated by Masha if it meant she at least had some sort of support in this strange new world she had found herself in.
But it was still weird going through exactly what she should wear later that night. In the time it had taken to go upstairs, Masha had already decided what Beth would wear. As a result, when Masha left, Beth had been given strict instructions.
Which was why at half-past six, Beth was standing in lingerie that cost as much as - if not more than - a whole week's rent, fiddling with the zipper of her dress that had gotten stuck. Given how much that zipper had cost, she would have thought the profits would have been better invested in finding a way to prevent it snagging. Seemed like money couldn't buy quality after all. And it was insane that anyone would pay that much for panties - they were only a scrap of lace, after all.
As for the bustier, it somehow managed to cover her entire torso and hide the marks on the back, as Dmitri had stipulated, but it made her feel even more exposed. Added to the ensemble was a pair of silk stockings - the tops were elasticated so that she did not need a garter - and heels so high that Beth knew she would topple over in them. She slipped her feet out of the shoes and decided she would put them on at the bottom of the stairs - as tempting as a trip to the emergency room was, Beth was simply not prepared to break an ankle just to avoid Dmitri.
Back on firm ground, where she was less concerned about toppling over, it was much easier to wiggle the zipper free. She had the dress on in no time.
Masha had done her make-up before she had left and all Beth had to do was apply lipstick. The only one Masha had left her was a vivid, vampish red. It felt sticky against her delicate skin.
She knew she should check her appearance in the mirror. But Beth didn't dare - she didn't give a rat's arse as to whether or not she looked attractive. Not when the only man who would be seeing her was Dmitri.
Knowing it was early and wondering if Mrs Jenkins needed any help, she wandered downstairs. Leaning against the bannister, she put her heels back on and tottered around in search of the kitchen. There was a note on the fridge addressed to Dmitri saying that the dining table had been set for two, the food was all prepared and that they should leave the washing up in the sink for the morning.
Beth frowned and looked around. The table in the kitchen was bare. She figured out that the 'dining table' must be in another room and was about to go on another hunt when she spied a telephone.
Picking up the receiver, she began to dial the telephone number for home, before stopping herself abruptly. Her mother wasn't likely to pick up. Her father was.
What would she say to him? That she had effectively prostituted herself in order to pay off his debt? He didn't care for her beyond her funding his drinking and smoking habits. She didn't want to give him the satisfaction of knowing how low he had brought her.
She hung up. Then she had a sudden flash of inspiration and started punching in another number.
The dial tone sounded and soon enough, her friend Jennifer answered.
"Hi - it's me - Beth."
"Beth!" Jennifer shrieked. "Where the hell are you? You didn't show for your shift this afternoon."
"I know, I'm sorry - I hope you weren't run off your feet."
"No - the restaurant was quiet. But Robbie was pretty angry. Says he can't deal with unreliability - if you don't show tomorrow, he's going to give you the boot."
Beth sighed. Her job at the restaurant had been her best paid to date. Robbie, the manager, was a hard taskmaster, but he was fair and always made sure his staff got their share of the tips.
"He's going to have to fire me," she said. "I'm out of town. Sort of."
"What? Where are you?"
"I'm staying somewhere else for a while."
"Are you ok?"
"Yes," Beth replied, although she really wasn't as sure as she sounded. "Just a family emergency."
"No way you can get back for your shift tomorrow?"
"No, afraid not."
Beth hadn't asked Dmitri, but funnily enough she didn't think he would allow her to work twelve-hour days. She had no idea how she would pay the rent that month, but she'd just have to work something out. Dmitri might even lend her the money - even if it meant adding more time to her stay.
"What happened?" Jennifer demanded. "Is your Mum all right? Did your Dad kick you out? I knew he was a good-for-nothing dickhead!"
"No, nothing like that. I just had to go away for a couple of days."
"Then how come you're ringing?"
"I needed a favour..."
"If you want me to talk to Robbie, it won't work," Jennifer warned. "You know what he's like with no-shows. No way will he keep your job for you until you come back."
"I know - I'll just have to hope he's got another opening." That or find a new job - but Beth had two months to get through before she had to face that particular dilemma. It was just another problem to add to her list, but at least it was somewhere near the bottom. "I just need you to get a message to Mum."
"Sure - what do you want me to tell her? I can stop by tonight."
"Not tonight - I don't want Kevin finding out," Beth said forcefully. "It's pub quiz night tomorrow - go over to my place then."
"What if he's home?"
"Just say..." Beth racked her mind for an acceptable story. "Tell him that you're collecting the make-up I borrowed from you - it's on the dressing table in my bedroom."
"Ok. Got it. What do you want me to say to your Mum?"
"Just that I'm fine. I'm safe. And that I'll get the rent money to her somehow."
"That's all? You're not going to tell her where you are?"
Beth shook her head, even though Jennifer couldn't see. "No - I don't want Kevin to know. Just call me on this number if Mum needs me - you've got me on caller ID, right?"
"Yes, I've got you."
"Great." Beth checked the clock on the kitchen wall. It was almost seven. "I've got to go."
"Ok, but keep in touch - and call me if you're in trouble. Promise?"
"Promise," Beth gave her word.
The line clicked as the call disconnected and then went dead. Beth replaced the receiver. She had never thought she would feel homesick. Although now she thought about it, she hadn't spent a night away from home after her father left. Her Mum had never been able to afford to pay for school trips and Beth was too busy looking after her to go over to her friends' houses for sleepovers.
Now she suddenly found herself longing for familiar surroundings and she hadn't even been at Dmitri's for a full twenty-four hours!
"Miss Noble," a deep voice murmured from behind, a deep and husky baritone.
Beth somehow managed to jump and trip over her own feet simultaneously. She would have planted the floor face first had his strong arms not wrapped around her waist. That only caused her to jolt again, scalded.
He pulled her up and towards himself. She felt her breasts crushed against his chest, her nipples crinkle and harden beneath the dress and bustier. Beth was all too aware of how close she was to him.
But all he did was carefully set her back on her unstable feet and step back so that she could straighten her dress. His eyes roved over her freely.
She wondered if all women were as self-conscious as her when they attracted the attention of a man. At least she wasn't overdressed - that was some small consolation. He had clearly made an effort and dressed for dinner - or perhaps he wore a jacket and tie every night.
The formal elegance suited him. Beth could hardly picture him wearing jeans or, an even more incongruous picture, tracksuit bottoms.
"Are you hungry?" he asked casually.
Beth was too mortified - both by her clumsiness and how she was sure he could see her twin peaks through her clothing - to do anything but nod.
"Then we shall eat soon. But first," his voice cooled to steel, "you will tell me who you were talking to."
"No-one," Beth replied evasively.
"No-one? Should I press redial and talk to this no-one?"
Beth didn't want him to invade her life any more. "It was just my friend, Jennifer," she volunteered reluctantly.
"So you thought you would keep me waiting so that you could exchange social niceties with a friend?"
"I didn't know you were going to be early," Beth defended herself. "It wasn't like that?"
"Then what was it like?"
His voice was eerily calm, but she could sense that beneath that calm exterior was something else - something harsher. Beth gritted her teeth. She did not like having to explain herself as if she were an errant child.
"I needed her to take a message to my mother," she admitted without enthusiasm.
"And you couldn't talk to your mother directly because?"
"She would want to know where I am. And I can't lie to her."
"Then why not tell her the truth?"
"Do you think I want my Mum to know what I'm doing?"
"Then what is your friend going to tell her?"
Beth glared at him. "That is none of your business."
"Careful, Miss Noble. Anything you say on my phone is my business."
"So I'm not even entitled to a jot of privacy now?" If it hadn't looked so petulant, and if Beth was capable of doing so without falling over, she would have stamped her foot.
"Miss Noble - I have many enemies, and even more friends whom I cannot trust. My phone may be tapped," he said bluntly. "If word got out that you were staying here, some people might see you as a way to get to me. They would be wrong. But that does not mean they will not try."
"Oh, great," Beth said sarcastically. "So I come here to protect my family, and now I'm here, they're in even more danger from the crowd of people who want to get even with you!"
Dmitri made no attempt to confirm or deny what she was saying. No need to offer her reassurance by letting her find out that he had two bodyguards stationed in the vicinity of her home at all times.
"Tell me then," she turned on him, the challenge in her voice audible. "Why should I stay here when my Mum could be hurt anyway?"
If merciless had a personification, it was Dmitri. He saw that beneath her attitude there was genuine concern for her family's well-being. But he turned his back on it. Until that moment, Beth had never thought that anyone could be so cruel.
"Because if you leave, the threat to your family becomes a reality. If you stay, it is still only a possibility. So balance the risks carefully in your head before you make any sort of commitment."
Dmitri noticed the slight sag in her shoulders that followed his words, the downward turn of her mouth. If she hated him, he would not blame her. But he could not risk giving her hope. He would not give her any reason to think she could leave him.
Yet, perversely, he did not want to bear witness to her complete defeat. She had drawn him in with her fire and he longed to see it ignite again.
"You are hungry, da?"
The question washed over Beth. It didn't register.
Dmitri, interpreting her silence as sulking, decided to extend his version of an olive branch.
"Come, Beth, let us not quarrel about what you cannot change."
Her head jerked up. Her eyes were furious. She looked completely livid. Perfect. Exactly what he had wanted.
She opened her mouth to speak but suddenly his hand was over it, effectively gagging her.
"Careful - think what you are about to say," he cautioned.
He waited until she went limp before he released her.
"Why are you doing this?" she asked when she had calmed down.
"Your stepfather owes me a debt. You are here to pay it. That was our arrangement, nyet?" He sighed wearily. "I am tired, Miss Noble. It has been a long day. Must we go over this again and again? Come, golubushka, let's eat. I do not wish to be accused by Mrs Jenkins of starving you."
Beth been about to say she had lost her appetite, but she had hardly eaten a thing all day and the truth was her stomach was about to start rumbling.
"Remind me to give you a tour of my home," he said over his shoulder, interrupting her reverie.
She managed to accompany him to the dining room without further incident, although Dmitri noted she nearly stumbled once or twice. Pity for him, she did not need any further assistance. He could not wait to take her in his arms again.
Beth was coming to the conclusion that Dmitri's home was like a labyrinth. If it had looked large from the outside, on the inside it was truly enormous. By the time they reached the dining room, the balls of her feet were starting to hurt.
As she followed Dmitri inside, her eyes widened. A large chandelier hung from the ceiling, the light refracting around the room as it passed through hundreds of crystals. A polished mahogany table was the main piece of furniture, its length stretching the entire length of the room. It could easily seat twenty, but only one end was set for the pair of them, with tableware and platters piled high with food.
If this was Mrs Jenkins' idea of a cold supper, she was certainly a talented cook. Thick slices of cold roast beef and ham were layered with pickles and a selection of salads had been prepared as an accompaniment. True to her word, the housekeeper had also managed to whip up 'something small' for dessert - a pavlova mountain of meringue, chocolate mousse and raspberries.
Dmitri pulled out a chair and gestured that Beth should sit. As she took her seat, she was careful not to touch him, tugging down her dress to avoid flashing him her stocking tops. He unfolded a napkin and draped it over her lap before gathering her hair in his fist and sweeping it away from her face. Then he claimed the chair directly across the table from her.
"Please accept my apologies - I would have preferred to take you out for dinner, but Mrs Jenkins advised me you would prefer to stay in tonight," he said, serving a generous portion of meat onto Beth's plate.
"That was very kind of her," Beth's response was wooden.
He put down the loaded plate and extracted his mobile phone from his breast pocket. "I can still make a reservation if you would rather eat in a restaurant," he said.
"No, please," Beth shook her head. "There's no need, don't bother."
"If you are sure," he acquiesced. "Although you will have to excuse my poor manners - it has been a long time since I dined alone with a woman in this room."
"Do you usually take your dates to fancy places?"
The smirk he gave her was practically sinful. "Sometimes. Usually we skip dinner and head straight to the bedroom."
Beth tried not to look affected. But Dmitri saw the way her breasts rose as her breath hitched in her throat.
"Would you like some wine?" he asked her smoothly.
On the sideboard, two empty glasses and a bottle of red were placed on a tray. Beth went to fetch it.
"Stay," Dmitri insisted. "Please - let me."
He took the bottle from her hands, uncorked it and poured them each a glass of the ruby red liquid. He passed one to Beth.
"Hold it by the stem," he suggested. "Or else the heat from your hand will warm the wine and change the taste."
"Oh," Beth stared at the glass. "I don't drink wine often."
"You prefer cocktails?"
She made a face. "Hardly. I don't really drink."
"Try this. It's a Malbec. Excellent vintage. And light on the palate, for a red."
Beth took a cautious sip.
"Well? What do you think?" He urged her.
"It's good?" she commented uncertainly, taking a second taste.
The expression on her face gave her away. she looked like she was sucking on a wedge of lemon. Dmitri was about to offer to fetch her some juice but thought better of it - if she forced down the glass of wine, the alcohol might relax her. That would definitely make it easy for her - and for him.
"Let's eat," he said.
Their conversation for the rest of the meal wasn't as awful as Beth was expecting. Dmitri seemed to be genuinely interested in getting to know her. He asked her questions about her favourite books and films. He skirted around any of the topics that made her feel uncomfortable, like her family, and nothing he asked was too intrusive. He could have been anyone - anyone except the man who had threatened and coerced her.
But at some point, Beth simply forgot how she had come to be at the table with him. She didn't realise it, but she was actually enjoying it. She even had the good humour to laugh at one of his jokes.
It wasn't until dessert that she remembered why, exactly, she was there.
Beth was eying the remainder of the pavlova. She had already had one helping, but was tempted by another. Sweet things were one of her weaknesses.
"Go on," Dmitri pushed the dish towards her.
"I shouldn't," Beth said remorsefully. "I've had enough."
Dmitri chuckled. "You are allowed to have fun here, you know? Your stay here is not a sentence of forced labour at the gulag - I intend to bring you plenty of pleasure while you are my guest."
"Well, what would you call it? You are here of your own volition, are you not?"
Beth suddenly felt a chill. Her stomach churned and she placed her fork in the middle of her plate. The pavlova had lost its appeal.
"I'm done," she said.
"Good. In that case - shall we retire?"
Beth chewed her lip. Was this it? Did he expect her to go to bed with him?
She wasn't ready! Desperately, she searched for an excuse, a way out, anything that would postpone what seemed to be inevitable.
"I haven't finished my wine!" Her voice was louder than she intended.
Dmitri glanced at the nearly empty glass. He filled it again, picked it up and tucked the half-full bottle under his arm.
"We can take it with us."
Uncertainty was etched on Beth's face. Dmitri almost felt sorry for her, she looked so lost. He had hoped to put her at ease, hoped that she would relax and open up to him as they dined together. But it was evident to him that it would take more than a couple of glasses of wine to loosen the tension in her shoulders.
Yet he wanted her. He was so close to getting her. She was his - and he could scarcely comprehend what he had done to achieve her. Seeing her standing before him, naked and trembling, had only fuelled his desire. And when he came across her in his kitchen, dressed up in his home, he had made a mental note to fuck her against the refrigerator before he let her go.
"Go to the bathroom," he ordered, granting her a brief reprieve. "Make whatever preparations you need. Then go upstairs to the top floor. I will wait for you there." He looked down at his watch. "You have ten minutes."
Beth wished she could wake up and discover that everything that had happened was a dream. Somehow she had managed to bury all her fears over the course of the day. Now they had made it back to the surface and were close to overwhelming her.
She went to the bathroom in a trance, where she spent most of the ten minutes he had granted her staring at the white enamel tiles. When she estimated that her time was up, she started the long walk upstairs. It was like trying to climb an escalator going the wrong way. Every step she took brought her further from her destination, not closer.
From the top landing was a single door. It was ajar. Dmitri must have heard her approach because he opened it fully from within before standing aside to admit her.
Wordlessly, without greeting, she crossed the threshold.