The Amber Columns (The City of Dark Pleasures Book 2) (2 page)

BOOK: The Amber Columns (The City of Dark Pleasures Book 2)
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“Stop.” It’s barely a whimper now. I know he’s not going to. A words echoes in my head.
Byzantine
. It’s the wrong word. The safe code from two months ago. But I hear it in her voice. As though O’Mara is reminding me I have a way out.

What the fuck is today’s safe word? Fuck fuck fuck.

“Lab…lab…labyrinthine,” I gasp. Nothing happens. The man grabs at my face, trying to cover my mouth. I tear at his hands, pulling my head away. “LABYRINTHINE!”

The checkpoint terminal on the wall starts to bleat, lighting up.

“Stand by,” it says, reassuringly. “Guards approaching.”

“You treacherous little bastard,” the man says. He doesn’t stop, or even slow. I can tell by his breathing that none of my suffering has impeded his arousal. If I had to guess I’d say he’s seconds away from blowing his wad.

I curl my hands around the far edge of the table and try to pull out from under him. His large hand grabs me by the hair and slams my cheek into to the tabletop. As I twist my head away, two guards appear, running from the other side of the courtyard. They skid to a stop three tables away. The safe word alarm clicks off.

“He’s hurting me,” I say. My voice bounces off the concrete and steel. I hate how pathetic I sound. Not like a man. Barely even like a human. Like a dying baby animal.

The guards don’t move. Behind me the man chuckles, huffing as his thrusting intensifies.

“Please…”

One of the guards looks at her colleague, who gives a little shake of her head. Then they both look back at me, impassive, unmoved by my pain. They came running because they thought a patron had used the safe word. Since I’m only a Cull they’ll stand there long enough to make sure he doesn’t kill me – killing servants is not allowed. Pretty much anything else goes though. It’s not like I forgot that, it’s just that…I don’t know. Maybe remembering O’Mara’s voice confused me for a second. Made me think I matter more than I do.

Made me care that this thug doesn’t actually kill me.

I move my hand over my eyes, so they won’t see that fucked up kid inside my head crying and sucking his thumb.

“Oh…yeah…yeah…” The man grunts, mashing me into the table. It’s over. There’s a wild slash of pain as he pulls out, and I let myself slither down the floor, pulling up my jeans. All I see of him are his fat legs striding away, back into the dark passage way we came in through.

I curl up under the table, wiping my eyes, trying to stop shaking. The grey-trousered legs of one of the guards appear in front of me.

“Do you require medical treatment?”

I’m shaking too hard to answer her.

She crouches down, and waves a handheld scanner over me. “Minor internal trauma,” she says. “Also your implant is overdue for an upgrade. Do you want to go to the clinic?”

I look at her impossibly shiny shoes. “No.”

She lingers there a few seconds.

“He’ll be fine,” her colleague says. “He’s just a Cull. Let’s go.”

The crouching woman reaches out and touches me, turning my chin to look at her. “Do you want to speak to a counsellor?”

Oh, sweetheart, I think. Where would I start? And where would it end?

“No,” I say. “Fuck off.”

Her face hardens. Maybe she was just trying to be nice, but why should I reward her for that? If she wanted to help she should have stun-sticked that fat fucker and pulled him off me.

“Please upgrade your implant within two weeks. I’m citing you for it.”

As she and the other bitch swish away, disappearing into the dark, I lie back under the table and imagine that the concrete tabletop above me is the lid to my coffin. Then I wonder what will happen to me if I die. I’ve known servants who have died. No one really commemorates their passing. And Culls least of all. There are suicides regularly. And overdoses. Once a Cull killed a patron—strangled him with his own belt.  No one bothered to find out why. The Cull was in front of a firing squad before the sun even came up.

What if that giant-cocked motherfucker broke something vital inside me? What if I’m dying right now? Who would care? Only other sad rejects from society. No one outside the Pleasures anyway.

Distantly, I can hear the music of the East River level, part of the glitter and smoke that covers the falsehood there. We don’t bother with that on this side. All it is here is dirty desperate sex between people who hate the fact of each other.

I’m tired. I pull my jacket down from the table and ball it under my head like a pillow. I could sleep here I guess. It’s quiet. I’m alone with my lingering pain and the ringing voice in my head. I let a minute tick by, wondering if it will fade. But it doesn’t.


I love you too, Tully
,” I say to the dark, finally. “
I love you with all my heart
.” It feels good to hear it again, even my own voice saying it.

O’Mara didn’t mean it, of course. It was part of the dream I gave her. A lie, like everything else.

A beautiful shining lie. I stole an old harem wife’s bracelet, got caught, arrested, lost my license, all my money, lost my place in the Obsidian Stairway and my wonderful dream machine, all because I wanted something to give as a pretty gift.

To a lie.

 

Chapter Two: O’Mara

 

Falling.

I’m falling, shooting through the dark, arms and legs flailing, searching for something to grab onto. My mouth opens to scream but no sound comes out. I have no breath in my lungs. I gasp. Gasp. If I can just take a breath I can suck myself out of this.

Breathe. Breathe now.

B…b…b…

“Byzantine!”

I shoot upright. The dim light of a Sentinel drone flashes past my window.

The dream again. Only a dream. I pull my hands out from between my legs.

“Sentinel? Status report,” I say, feeling my heart rate slow. “Perimeter check.”

“Status neutral. The perimeter is secure.” The robotic voice of the security terminal sounds exasperated with me, as though it knows how ridiculous it is to be paranoid about intruders one hundred stories in the air. There are at least ten checkpoints between here and the crumbling and dirty surface roads. Twenty checkpoints between my bedroom door and the entrance to the City of Dark Pleasures. And yet every night I wake from a fever dream thinking that a disgruntled servant is standing in the shadows, plotting my murder.

It’s only at night that I’m scared of him. During the day I think about his golden eyes, his warm skin and his velvety voice to the point of distraction. I will no one to notice how stupid and mindless my reports have gotten. I could lose my job if I don’t get my shit together. A lost job means a lost income. If I can’t pay my rent I could lose my citizen status. And then what? Then I join him, working in the Pleasures?

I could go and see him. I should go and see him. I can find the money somewhere and go and get him to hook me up to that infernal machine of his and lose myself in his beautiful dreamscape. The one in which we are lovers. If I can just spend another moment in that forlorn and hopeless dream I might be able to get him out of my system.

As it is I’ve been masturbating until my fingers ache, and the skin of my clitoris is burning and raw. Whenever I climax I hear his voice, saying my name. Or I say his name.


Tully
…”

Maybe before the Expiation people knew that the love of a good man was a powerful, devastating intoxicant. It weakens you, distracts you, makes you prone to obsessive thoughts and lost productivity. Maybe that’s why they did it. To increase productivity.

I lie back on my pillows and stare at the ceiling, letting the terror of the dream dissipate. Love, I think. It must be the most potent force on earth, if it can fuck you up even when you know it’s not real.

 

“Mister Kay will see you now.”

I look up from my tablet, folding it and slipping it quickly into my jacket pocket. As I stand an impossibly tall and beautiful woman exits the office, glancing at me as she strides past, a reproachful look on her face. She’s dressed much better than I am, in a fitted red suit with high heels and silver stockings. I’m wearing a loose skirt with a media jacket. One of the headphone cables no longer retracts into the collar properly, and the grey color is two years out of style. I know I look a little shabby, maybe even shabbier than I normally look. Maybe that was intentional. It’s not like I didn’t take time getting dressed this morning.

I take a breath and step through the doorway the tall girl just vacated. A man looks up from a large desk.

“O’Mara Tanner?” he glances down at a folder, one of a dozen on his desk.

“Yes,” I say, wondering what would happen if I just turned and ran out of there. But I don’t.

“Come in, come in. Close the door. Take a seat.”

I sit in the chair he points to. Try to cross my legs in a way that’s not too suggestive while still being ladylike. However one does that. Probably I end up looking like I need to pee.

“So. O’Mara. You’re twenty years old?”

“Yes.”

“Are you a virgin?”

“No.” I’ve been told to answer truthfully. Honest answers equal a better match; that’s what they say.

“Have you had a relationship before? Anything outside the Pleasures? Man or woman.”

“No.” I say it, though of course my heart is grieving a love I never really had.

“Do you think you’re too young to get married?”

“No.” I look up at him, assessing his appearance properly for the first time. He’s probably forty at least. Slim but soft around the edges, his neatly cut hair is peppered with gray. When he leans back in his chair I can see that his vibrant blue shirt is untucked, wrinkled at the bottom as though he had it tucked in earlier today.

“I don’t think you’re too young either,” he says, leaning forward. “My youngest wife is only seventeen. You two might become great friends. What do you think O’Mara? May I call you O’Mara?”

I nod.

“You can call me Wilton.” He glances down at my file. “Your fertility looks good. I have many children, but I always want more. How regular is your cycle?”

“Um…very, I guess. I don’t know.” That’s the wrong answer, but it’s a stupid question. If he really wants to know he can find out. “You can check my implant records. I think I signed the waiver, didn’t I?”

“Yes, you did. That was very helpful. Thank you.” He smiles at me. He’s not very handsome, but he’s not monstrous. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad being married to this man. He has nearly a hundred other wives. I would only have to fuck him once a month at most. At least it would keep me out of the spinster houses. And I could keep my job after I turn twenty-five.

“Have you ever had sex with a woman?”

I remind myself that these are standard questions.  “Yes, a few times.”

“Do you like it? Many of my wives love having sex with each other. I encourage it.”

“Okay.” The window behind him begins to look attractive as an exit strategy. We’re only twenty stories up. I might survive. “I mean yeah, I like it.” So much for not lying.

“So, you know how to make a woman come? You have to lick their clit and finger their cunt at the same time. That’s what my wives like.” He moves one hand below his desk as I watch him. Why would a man with a hundred wives need to jerk himself off in his office? I guess I really don’t understand men at all.  Is he trying to get a reaction from me? If so I have no idea what it is. I try a little smile.

He smiles back, his hand moving under the desk. “Do you want to fuck me?”

Sometimes, in the dream, instead of fucking me, Tully hits me. And I don’t mean in an erotic way, I mean violently, with fists. I don’t know why I would dream this unless maybe I want him to. It’s clear I want something. Maybe this is it. Maybe I want to be humiliated, debased. Used. I’m pretty sure I don’t want to get married. Not to this creep. Not to any harem man.

“Okay,” I say. I slip my media jacket off. The data jack pops out of my wrist monitor and retracts back into my sleeve as I fold the jacket over the side of my chair.

Wilton pauses. I don’t think he expected me to answer this way. Maybe that’s why the tall girl was looking reproachful. Maybe he propositioned her too and she had too much pride to accept.

“You want to do it here?” I ask.

Wilton removes his hand from his crotch and lays it on the desk again, standing up. I stand too, and we stare at each other. He bends and gathers the pile of files, moving them to one side, clearing a spot on his desk. I have a vague sense that this is happening too fast, that I’m not thinking straight. Maybe that none of this is real. Maybe I’m dreaming again.

I bend down and gather my loose skirt, lifting it up over my hips.

“Leave the panties,” he says, as I lean back, ass on his desk. “Turn around.”

I turn and face the desk, feeling him approach me from behind. His hands slide up my bare thighs, over the bunched up skirt, skimming my stomach and ribs before finally coming to rest, cupping my breasts in the black camisole.

“Do you like it hard, little girl?” he whispers. His lips are cold for some reason. Goosebumps rise on my neck. I rest my hands on his desk as he exerts pressure on my back, pushing me. His fingers tear down the front of my cami before he bends me completely over, mashing my bare breasts into the cold wood of the desk. “You’ve got nice little tits. I hope they stay little after I breed you.”

“Fuck,” I whisper into the polished wood. I can’t even process what he said. Should I be appalled? Insulted?  This could be the way men are supposed to speak to women for all I know. All I feel is heat pooling between my legs as he slips his fingers into my panties. He’s not gentle as he shoves the cotton aside and pushes his fingers in.

“You’re tight,” he says. “I hope you stay tight—”

“After you breed me?” I supply. I’m fighting not to laugh now.  I wonder whether this man has any intention of adding to his harem, or if he’s just discovered a clever way to fuck a new woman every day. He withdraws his fingers and I hear him unbutton his pants.

“You have a contraceptive implant?” he says, breathlessly.

“You know I do.” I’m done playing games. I want the same thing as him—a mindless, meaningless fuck with a stranger.

“My wives would mutiny if I started knocking up gutter bitches.”

The tip of his cock nudging my thighs feels as cold as his lips. I curl my fingers around the edge of the desk as he enters me.

It’s pressure and friction. And a kind of bliss, mixed with revulsion. I open my lips on the wood as he starts to move, his cock stretching me, pressing on nerves that make me gasp.

“I share my wives with my friends,” he says. “Does that bother you?”

“Uh…”

He thrusts hard as he continues, reaching up to grab a handful of my hair. “Only the young ones...oooohhhh yeah…your pussy is hot…we get together…about five or ten of us with a few wives each and pass them around…making them suck and fuck until they’re begging to stop.”

I don’t say anything. What could I say? Stop, I suppose. I could say stop but if he doesn’t, then what happens?

“Does that sound good to you? Huh, gutter bitch? Huh?” He slaps my ass cheek, hard. And more than anything I’m mortified by the idea that his receptionist heard it. Mortified and aroused. “I said, does that sound good to you?”

“Yes.” I gasp it, lips pressed on the desk. My scalp burns where he’s pulling my hair. My head aches with the effort of trying not to think. Not to think of him.

“Do you like getting fucked in the ass?” Wilton says. His thumb grazes over the skin of my lower back, sliding in between my cheeks.

“No!” I say, though I wouldn’t know. Part of me wants him to do it, against my wishes and my will. Because then that would turn this into something else. And maybe that would hold my thoughts away from him.

But he only strokes there, pressing gently with his thumb, but not breaching. “Too bad. We’ll make you learn to love it though. My wives have incredible skills with lady-thrusters.”

He pumps, pulling my hair, his thumb swirling over my anus but none of it is enough to keep my mind in this world. Tears pool under my face as I tumble back into the dream that tore me from sleep last night.

Tully.

Me and Tully on the roof of my dorm.

“Oh yeah, bitch…that’s good. You’re a good little girl.” Wilton’s close. My body trembles with need. I’m thinking about Tully. Tully with his face between my legs, me perched on the barrier at the edge of the roof.

“Yeah…yeah…oh fuck…”

Tully’s lips on my clit and my pussy, licking, sucking, his fingers inside me.

“Take it! Take my cock. You fucking love it, don’t you?”

“Yes,” I say, though I’m speaking to Tully. The familiar burning begins in my feet. I’m moments away from climax. “Yes, yes. Don’t stop.”

Tully’s tongue inside me, flicking, licking, his fingers pulsing, my cunt spasms against him.

“Come for me, gutter bitch. Let me see that ass shake.”

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I’m pretty much doing both as my body betrays all three of us—me, Tully and this creep who will never know it wasn’t him who broke me down. It takes me like a winter storm, sudden and cold and bleak. I moan into the desk, feeling my hip bones crack against the wood as Wilton slams into me, and I come, exquisitely, tragically, closing my eyes and seeing Tully outlined by the blue sky behind him. His face was covered in blood, because I realized at that terrifying moment, that he’d bitten me open, that he’d been drinking my blood like an old world vampire.

“Oh…oh…fuck…” Wilton’s fingers tighten in my hair, yanking my head back until my neck strains.

Tully grinned down on me, wild and vengeful and blood-toothed, as he pushed me off the roof.

My orgasm falls with me, tumbling into the dark swallowing chasm that was my passage out of the nightmare.

The fall seems to last forever.

A moment passes in silence, and I feel my whole body flushing with shame. Wilton strokes the skin on my back, almost affectionately. “You’re a good girl,” he says, as I stifle a sob on my hand. “Are you crying?”

“No.”

He pulls out abruptly. I hear his zipper. “You consented to this.”

I don’t say anything as he tidies my panties and pulls my skirt down.

“Sentinel. Access code Kay, 68564. Please put a permanent copy of the last thirty minutes into the private legal sub-folder.”

BOOK: The Amber Columns (The City of Dark Pleasures Book 2)
12.46Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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