CHAPTER 28: THINGS FALL APART
That afternoon Mariah still basked in the high of the morning's small rebellion. As she kneeled obediently, knees wide, butt on heels, hands palm up on her thighs, she focused on not glancing at Tabitha or Gino, who were kneeling on either side of her. She sucked in her cheeks, hot with pleasure, to keep from smiling.
Mistress Dominique was punishing a new girl, Erennia. Mariah had not been listening and did not know what her supposed crime was. It didn't matter.
She was suddenly aware of a change in the air around her. Mistress Dominique had left Erennia tied to a footstool and was scanning the other slaves.
Cold premonition, like so long ago in the fields, when Rolanda's mistress had laid eyes on Mariah. Desperately she looked down, at Mistress Dominique's feet pacing back and forth in front of the group. It did no good.
When Mistress Dominique called her name she had no choice but to look up, and when ordered to do so she had no choice but to stand and approach.
Mistress Dominique was placing a whip in her hand. The carved wood of the handle was warm and damp from the human woman's grip. For a split second Mariah did not react, but as she felt the handle's solidity she dropped it and took a step back. She willed herself not to protect her body from the punishment that must surely follow. But Mistress Dominique smiled at her. "Is this your first time with a whip?" she asked.
"Yes, Mistress," Mariah answered, her voice shaking, the joy of just a few moments ago obliterated.
"It's okay," Mistress Dominique said. "Pick it up." When Mariah again held the whip handle, Mistress Dominique said, "Feel it's power. You know what the other end feels like. This is where it begins, pain surging from your body through the instrument and into the prostrate slave waiting for it."
Mariah, sickened, concentrated on remaining expressionless, but Mistress Dominique seemed to be speaking more to herself than to her. She moved behind Mariah, close, until her front was touching Mariah's back, much as when she had forced Mariah to orgasm at the Exchange. She slid her palm down the outside of Mariah's arm, until she had engulfed the back of her hand. Slowly she drew Mariah's hand up and back. "Ready?" she breathed in Mariah's ear.
"No!" Mariah said inside her head. "Never!" But out loud she said, "Yes, Mistress."
"Watch the rebound," Mistress Dominique said. "It's common to slash your own face when you're still learning." Mariah wondered whether she could manage to hit Mistress Dominique, but dismissed the thought. She hadn't the skill.
And then Mistress Dominique was directing her arm back and forth, and the leather of the whip snaked, and its end snapped Erennia in the lower back, just above her buttock. It left a small mark, maybe an inch long, and as Errenia grunted the thong came back, going wide of both Mariah and her mistress.
"Nicely done," Mistress Dominique said. "Again!" And again she directed Mariah's arm, forward and back, and the whip hit Errenia and Errenia groaned as the whip came back.
"You try it," Mistress Dominique said. She stepped away from Mariah, far enough that she could not be hit by the backlash. Mariah took a breath, tried to imitate what Mistress Dominique had done, and ended up hitting Errenia much harder, square across her buttocks. Errenia screamed. The whip came back and hit Mariah in the shoulder, cutting her. "Try again," Mistress Dominique said. "Watch your angle."
Mariah tried again. It was a sweet stroke, the end of the whip hitting Errenia in the crack between her spread legs, not hard enough to do any real damage but hard enough to make Errenia cry out, "Please! Please!" Mariah drew her arm back wide, to direct the whip away from her own body.
"Feel the power," Mistress Dominique said. "Feed on her pain."
The lash was still swaying. Mariah looked over to Mistress Dominique, wondering if she was done. "Go on, girl," she said. "Beat her as she deserves."
Mariah looked back at the spread figure in front of her. She gritted her teeth as she raised her arm again. "Not for my pleasure," she said to herself. She snapped the whip, trying to do it gently. The lash hit Errenia midback. Errenia shuddered but made no sound.
"Harder," Mistress Dominique said. "Make her feel it. Enjoy it."
"Never for my pleasure," Mariah said again to herself, as she snapped the whip harder, hitting Errenia lower down, making her cry out.
"Again!" Mistress Dominique said. Mariah whipped the girl over and over, each time telling herself, "Never for my pleasure." Each time, Mistress Dominique commanded her to continue.
Mariah gained some control of where the lash landed. When Errenia was marked from her knees to neck, and Mariah's arm ached, Mistress Dominique said, "Enough." Gratefully Mariah lowered the whip.
But Mistress Dominique was not done with her. Once again she stood behind Mariah, snaked her arm around Mariah's middle, and put her fingers on her sex. "You're practically dry," Mistress Dominique said, astonishment mixed with disapproval.
"I . . ." Mariah began, but there was nothing she could say. Fear gripped her as she realized her miscalculation.
Mistress Dominique pulled away from Mariah. She pointed at Tabitha and Gino, sitting among the other slaves, and crooked her finger towards them. As they approached she said to Gino, "Untie her," indicating Errenia. When he complied, Mistress Dominique said to Errenia, "Go," and waved vaguely toward kneeling slaves. With a gulp of relief Errenia scurried to them.
Mistress Dominique had already turned back to the three slaves before her. She squinted at Tabitha, deliberating. "Untied, I think," she murmured mostly to herself. She gestured Tabitha over to the footstool, still wet with Errenia's sweat. "Make sure you keep your knees wider than the legs of the stool."
With one dark glance at Mariah, Tabitha did as she was bid, assuming the same position that Errenia had been in, but with no ropes to restrain her.
Mariah still held the whip limply in her hand. Mistress Dominique forcibly spun her into position behind Tabitha, and kicked her legs apart. She pointed at Gino. "Knees," she said. Gio knelt before Mariah.
Mariah did not need to hear her mistress's words to know what she would say. "You'll whip her until you orgasm." She added, "Mind the backswing; they'll be no stopping just because you slice your partner's ear."
Gino had already seized Mariah's buttocks and pulled her closer, trying for a headstart to save Tabitha some misery. He placed his tongue on Mariah's slit and his upper lip on top of her clit and began to suck. Mariah was not prepared and involuntarily took a half step back. Mistress Dominique smiled. "Begin," she said.
As Gino pulled her towards him again, Mariah raised her whip arm and twitched it. The lash hit Tabitha midback. "Harder," Mistress Dominique said, "unless you fancy the rest of the day on the sawhorse." Mariah flicked the whip again, harder, without aim. The lash crashed into Tabitha's left inner thigh. Tabitha inched her legs together, only for an instant, but Mistress Dominique noticed. "Move them again, and we'll finish this while you're wearing a buttplug coated with hot pepper oil." Although Gino had pulled back for a moment, Mariah felt the tightness begin.
She flicked the whip again, trying for an impact that was not so soft as to arouse Mistress Dominique's ire, and not so hard as to make Tabitha move her legs again. As the blow landed Gino put his fingers in her crack, one of them resting on her asshole. He tongued her in wide circles below her clit. But Mariah was nowhere near ready.
She flicked the whip again. Tabitha cried out. Gino moved his thumb down and gently penetrated her vagina with it, circling her clit with his tongue, not touching it. The whip, again, and Tabitha's groan, and Gino's thumb moving up her slit. The whip, again, and Tabitha's pain, and Gino's thumb just below her clit. The whip, again, and Tabitha in a blur, and Gino using his tongue to push her clit onto the hardness of his thumb.
It is not enough. Mariah is panting, from Gino, from her exertion, from the confusion, but she is not ready yet. "Aim for her crack," Mistress Dominique commands her, and Mariah does, and as the lash lands, Gino is pushing his finger into her ass, and now his thumb is in her cunt again, and he is pushing his finger in and out of her ass and his thumb in and out of her sex as he licks her clit. Mariah whips Tabitha. Tabitha cries out, her body wriggles, struggling to keep her knees wide. Gino sweeps his tongue from the entrance to Mariah's vagina to just below her clit and stops.
Mariah whips Tabitha again. Again the cry, the wriggle, the struggle, and Gino's tongue on her. Again, and again.
And then, every time the whip connects to Tabitha, Gino licks her clit. On the backswing he pulls back. She whips again, he licks her clit again. Lightning behind her eyes, but only when the whip connects. The whip, the tongue, the whip, the tongue. She is close now. She accidently flicks the whip harder, and Tabitha cries out louder. Gino draws her clit into his mouth. His tongue continues to circle. Mariah hits Tabitha hard again, and Tabitha out again. The whip, the cry, the tongue circling.
The crash is about to overtake Mariah. The whip goes wild; it wraps around Tabitha to the side of her breast squished into the footstool, and Tabitha shrieks, and Mariah shrieks, and Gino fingers her ass and her cunt harder, deeper, and sucks her clit, and Mariah brings the whip down one more time and Tabitha cries out one more time, and Mariah is pushed over the edge, into Gino's mouth, spasming, and as she does she whips Tabitha again, again, and her cries are louder than Tabitha's. And then she can barely hold up the whip, or herself. Gino has pulled back, and Tabitha is quiet and still, bleeding where the whipmarks have crossed. And Mistress Dominique says to them, "You are dismissed." Gino helps Tabitha up. Mariah staggers and no one catches her.