It was him, definitely; she would have bet the farm on that.
The last time she had seen him he had been shirtless, his torso coated in a thin sheen of sweat both from exertion and the oppressive heat of the club itself; here, he looked neat and respectable – almost bored, in fact – in a business suit that lost some of its composition since leaving the office. His jacket was folded over one arm, his tie was loose at his neck, his sleeves rolled up to just below his elbows.
He carried a basket filled with a few basic staples: a pint of milk, a half-load of bread, a couple of frozen meals-for-one. The last time, he had been holding a fierce-looking cane and the attention of the room.
She caught his eye, trying not to stare, but also eager to check her first instincts. Was it him? Could it be?
He looked back at her. Oh, it was him alright. Without a doubt.
She smiled in the manner of a casual acquaintance, just someone trying to get by with her weekly shop. He smiled back, then went back to deciding between two competing packages of ravioli, trying to figure out if today was a spinach and ricotta day, or if he was in more of a mind to push the boat out and go for the black-packeted prosciutto and goat’s cheese.
He doesn’t have the faintest clue who I am.
Then again, how could he? The theme of the party was Venetian Masquerade – or at least, Venetian Masquerade with a little twist of kink; the great Enrico Dandolo might have gone blind all over again had he seen the outfits (or lack thereof) they had chosen to go along with their masks. At the start of the evening, she had been dressed in a corset over delicate lace panties, but they hadn’t lasted; the corset was new, and a little too restrictive to be entirely fun, but the panties had been sacrificed to a greater goal. She had felt him shimmy them down her legs as he bent her over the leather bench, displaying her ass to everyone assembled. She had watched him take a deep sniff of them – to the playful laughter of the crowd – before wadding them up and stuffing them into his pocket, safe and sound. Her face had burned with embarrassment – but of course, the flush of blood to her cheeks was nothing compared to the feeling of his cane against her flesh.
She still bore the slim, streaked bruises across her buttocks, even four days later.
She wondered if he had kept the panties. She hoped he had. It would have been nice for him to have a souvenir to match her own – something that he would find a day or two after the fact, when the memory of the brief, anonymous connection they had had begun to fade like a dream in the morning. Something he could raise to his nose again in the quiet stillness of the night and use as a way to transport himself back to the club, back to the noise and the sweat and the bustle of it all.
Something to remember her by.
She had wondered in the past what it would feel like to run into one of her partners outside of the club, out in the real world – whether it would be like seeing a tiger in the wild, as opposed to safely behind glass at the zoo. She had wondered if she’d get the same thrill from seeing one of them in a business suit rather than leather pants, or seeing one of her fellow subs walking around in a summer dress rather than being led by collar and leash into one of the club’s back rooms. Now it had happened, she wished it hadn’t. He wasn’t the tiger in the wild here. This wasn’t his natural environment. It was in the dark, sweaty embrace of the club that he seemed most at home, a predator stalking his prey. She had yielded to him in an instant there, with the trappings of their mutual desire all around them. She couldn’t imagine him doing anything like that here. If he reached across from his basket to take a handful of her hair, pulling her head back to expose her throat to him in a way that had been so hot, so fucking hot at the weekend, it would have been horrific, not sexy; if he had barked that same order that she could call him Sir, that she should thank him properly for the strokes of the cane he planted with expert precision across the meat of her ass, she might very well have laughed in his pretty little face.
Same man. Different world. It mattered, somehow.
Then again, had she not benefited from that too? There was a strange thrill to not being recognised. Less than half a week ago, he – anonymous he, nameless he; a perfect stranger in every sense – had had her strung up like a puppet for his amusement. She had watched him lose himself in her, giving himself over to her as she gave herself over to him. Outside of the club, would he have even paid her the slightest attention? She doubted it, somehow; not a man like him. A little too young, a little too handsome, a little too cool. She had sensed it even at the club, but that was a different world; the normal rules didn’t apply, the limitations of the Great Wide Out-There seemed petty and small. She was in her forties now, on an inevitable downhill slalom to the big Five-O, and she had accepted that. In the world, in the wild, she didn’t draw attention. She looked respectable. She looked responsible. She looked mature – and that was she looked like much of anything at all; a first glance was rare on the outside, and a second glance rarer still.
But behind the mask, she could bare herself. In the dark of the club, all eyes were on her. The sag, the wrinkles, the tiger-stripe stretchmarks that covered her thighs and belly (stomach, she chided herself; be kind to yourself, even if it isn’t strictly true)… none of it mattered. All that people cared about was her willingness to present herself freely, unashamed – even temporarily – about the impact of the years on her body. All they cared about were the moans as a finger or a strap-on or a cock slid inside her, or the whimpered moans as she debased herself happily for their entertainment.
Yes, it might not have been much – but it was hers.
And for a little while, for a few brief moments, he had been hers. It had been her body that had driven him to the edge, had made him positively insensible with pleasure as he had thrusted himself to an orgasm inside of her. Still got it, she thought. Maybe it was rarer now, but she could still perform when needed. Maybe she wouldn’t draw a stare in a supermarket aisle (Oh, for another swing at her twenties…), but what did that matter?
The bruises ached behind her, and she smiled as she passed him. He didn’t turn to see, but that was OK.
Perhaps the club was her natural habitat too.