Christian leads me through a corridor away from the Bat-Cave. At the end of it is a door. He opens it. I try to peek through, shivering in antici...payshun.
Hmm... another door.
Beyond that one is an aperture, after the aperture, an egress. Once through the egress, we come upon--not a door--but a gate. He opens the gate, and, once through it, he bends down and opens a hatch on the floor, like the one in Gravity, but with oxygen. Through the hatchway, I see an opening. But an opening to what? I have no idea, but I must find out.
"Christian! Where are you taking me?" I ask him, putting away my thesaurus.
"Did you have broccoli for lunch?"
"Jeez," he says, holds his nose, and enters the portal.
I follow him into a large room. It smells of oak and leather. The smell is overpowering, like a bathroom over-sprayed with air freshener. Um, not that I would know why anyone would need to over-spray a bathroom with air freshener.
I would describe the furniture decorating this room, but writing's hard work. When you combine a lack of imagination with a lack of gumption, all you're going to get is a lack of description.
I look on his bookshelf. Hmm.. The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty trilogy by A.N. Roquelaure. I look at his DVD collection. Nine & 1/2 Weeks, with Kim Bassinger and Mickey Rourke back when he used to bathe. Something familiar about all that, but I can't quite make the connection. My attention is diverted when I see...
In the middle of the room is a bed. A big bed. A huge bed. Round, like the one in the master bedroom of the Playboy mansion, except without the 90-year-old horny guy in it.
On the bed, I see something. I walk over and pick it up. It's small, and fits easily in my hand. It has a thin leather handle about eight inches long. Kate tells me eight inches are good, but she won't tell me why. At one end of the handle is a flat square, maybe four inches by four inches, also made of leather.
Christian is eyeing me intently.
"It's called a fly-swatter," he says, his voice quiet and soft. "It amuses me to see how quickly one's skin turns pink after the first slap."
"I don't understand," I tell him. "You... hit people?"
"I hit women."
"And they let you."
"Of course they let me... I'm rich!"
"And they like it?"
"I like it, and, in the end, isn't that what's important?"
"Does it... hurt?"
"Not a bit." He thought about what he just said. "Um, you were talking about me, weren't you? Because it sure does hurt the other person... a lot."
"And where do I fit into all this, Christian?"
Christian pauses. Thinks. And then says, "I... want you to be... my... girlfriend."
"You're girlfriend? Aren't you too old to have a girlfriend?"
"And aren't you too old to have never been kissed?"
I don't answer. He takes my hand and leads me to the bed.
"But I won't hurt you, Ana," he promises, and I believe that promise. If there's one thing you can believe in from a guy who's trying to get you into a round bed, it's his promise.
"What do you want me to do?"
"I'm glad you asked. This room--this bed--is yours... if you want it. You can decorate it however you like."
"Can I change the color?"
I think about that. And then it hits me.
"You want me to move in?"
"Of course not, Ana. Don't make me laugh. Ah, ha, ha, ha! I SAID DON'T MAKE ME LAUGH!" He scrapes something from the bottom of his shoe. "No, Ana, sweet Ana. What I want is for you to be at my beck and call. When I crook my finger, I want you to run. When I say jump, I want you to ask me 'How high?' "
I knew it. He does like me!
"How many women?" I blurt. Darn that broccoli.
"How many women what?"
"How many women have you... done this to?"
"Done what to?"
"Whatever it is you're talking about?"
"What am I talking about?"
"Well, I assume you want me to do something?"
"That's what I'm trying to find out!"
"Don't worry about what you're going to have to do just yet. First I have to explain The Rules to you."
"Yes, The Rules."
He pauses. Time passes. Somewhere in the distance, a dog howls.
"The rules?" I ask again.
"Yes, The Rules."
Hmm... the rules.
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