The Erotic Mind-Control Story Archive

Quest for Tamara (Four).

The Mirror Crack’d.

Mrs. Salome Hawkins, widow of the late Professor Leonidas Hawkins of Sawyer Valley Community College, was standing by the front door of the Hadleyburg Regional Library when she saw a remarkable sight: Nathan Broun, owner of the Mysterious Stranger Inn, drove up in the B & B’s station wagon with a young woman in the back seat. He came to a stop in front of the library and the passenger got out, walked around to the driver’s side, and leaned in the window. Now, Salome was certainly making no special effort to overhear the exchange—that would have been rude; but it just so happened that nature had given her sensitive hearing. So no one could suspect her motives if she noticed as the woman put a finger gently on Nate’s arm and said in a confidential tone, “So you’ll be here at 11 sharp, Mr. Broun? I need to you be on time.”

Nate responded meekly, “Yes, Ms. Murphy” and drove off.

Salome was astounded. She assessed the strange woman. Medium height, buxom, thick tawny blonde hair, a face that any man might easily fall into and have trouble climbing out of. She imagined her late husband’s reaction and laughed fondly. Leo had had an eye for the ladies, though Salome had ways to make sure the old goat never even raised a finger in their direction. Now, with Leo dead these six years, Salome could just enjoy the sight of a beautiful woman—another beautiful woman—and remember the days when some said Sal herself was the belle of Hadleyburg.

She was long past woman’s vanity, or so she told herself; but she still had a style if her own—her thick straight hair had once been jet black but was now a glistening grey, flashing eyes, a figure teetering just at the border between overblown and matronly. She dressed simply—long skirts, man-style shirts—but always in well-made clothes that fit. Her shoes were well-made and elegant, if usually sadly sensible. Today, for example, she was wearing ankle boots with a sturdy medium heel. They would have worked fine in a garden or at a garden party.

Now Salome sidled up to the mysterious beauty and said, in her best librarian’s voice, “Miss, can I help you in any way?” That was not exactly claiming to be a librarian, was it? Besides, Salome knew the collection better than any of the youngsters who actually worked there.

“Ms. Murphy” took Salome in with a cool glance. As she did, Salome felt a jolt of personal power radiate from her. This young woman was someone to be reckoned with. “How do you know Nathan?” Sal wasn’t quite able to resist asking.

“Oh, is that his name?” the tawny blonde replied without much interest. “He works the desk at the Inn and he …offered… to run me downtown. Our car is—out of commission. He was most helpful.”

Nate didn’t “work the desk,” Salome thought, he owned the Inn and usually was pretty direct about letting people know that if they mistook him for a clerk; beyond that, he had gotten a bit grouchy as the years went by; whatever this woman had, it must be quite something. “I feel that I need to know you,” Salome said, offering her hand. “I’m Sal Hawkins.”

“I’m Elle Murphy,” said the blonde, extending her own hand. As they shook, Sal again felt that jolt of confidence; she realized this woman was something extremely rare—a woman completely confident in her own skin, with no need to impress anyone and with absolute certainty that the world would give her anything she asked for. Physically Elle Murphy was stunning; she managed to pack a wallop even dressed in outdoor clothing and looking as if she had slept outside for a couple of nights. As they stood in front of the library, no one passing failed to notice her—some of them, male and female, slowed down to take a close look from top to toe, and one or two nearly fell down the steps in distraction.

“You’re at the Stranger?” Sal said. “Need vacation reading?”

“No, I am looking for local maps and local history,” Elle said. “In particular, I want to know something about the history of the Inn itself.”

Sal gave her a level look. “Ms. Murphy,” she said in a low tone, “Does this by any chance have anything to do with the full-length mirror in Cabin Four?”

Sal felt a twinge of satisfaction at having impressed the stranger; Elle’s eyes narrowed, and she said, “I feel that I need to know you too.”

* * *


A Charles Winter-Milagro Hada Mystery


Cafe Traversier was the premier Sunday brunch experience in the town of Frenchman’s Bend, and Charles Winter had reasons of his own for insisting that Milagro Hada meet him there and nowhere else on this spring Sunday. As usual, it had taken some fast talk for Charles to convince the mysterious beauty to meet him for a relaxed social experience. Milagro seemed more comfortable at artistic events, magical ceremonies or, sometimes, late-night trysts in Charles’s apartment on the riverfront just south of downtown. Sometimes—increasingly often, in fact—she was as comfortable waking up with Charles as she was swarming into his bed at midnight.

Those occasions had given Charles a glimmer of hope that Milagro might consider the offer he was going to make her when she showed up. He was idly speculating what she might be wearing when a voice said, “You must be Charles.”

He looked up, then blinked in disbelief. Standing before him was a stranger who was eerily, intensely familiar. In fact, he had thought at first that she was Milagro somehow changed only in coloring—blonde and rosy where Milagro was brunette and pale. But of course that was impossible. “Who—” he started to say.

The stranger slid sleekly into a seat at his table. “I’m Adrielys—you know, her cousin. She must have mentioned me,” she said, looking directly into Charles’s eyes.

“Um, uh—well—actually—no,” Charles said, flustered by the surprise and the nearness of the stranger. Adrielys was like Milagro in another respect as well—she gave off a low hum like a powerful electrical generator. It was distracting; it was absorbing; it was enticing. Charles’s thoughts slowed, much as they did when Milagro turned her deep dark eyes on him. Appreciative thoughts flowed through his mind; he stirred himself guiltily, remembering that, family or not, this was not Milagro, and given what he was planning, he needed to focus on her. “Where is Milagro?” he asked.

“She is sooo sorry,” Adrielys said. “She’s been delayed, but she will be here…soon. She asked me to make sure you weren’t bored in the meantime.”

Charles was definitely not bored, but he was confused; Milagro had her secrets, but even for her a ravishing identical cousin was a big gap in his knowledge. “Is she OK?” he asked.

“Oh, darling, Milagro doesn’t tell me her secrets either,” Adrielys said, waving her hand gracefully. Her nails were flawless and blood-red, he noticed. He shook his head, clearing it once again. “In fact, she kept you a secret until recently, and I can see why.” Her eyes flashed coquettishly. “Why don’t you tell me how you two met?”

“Well, it was back just after I left Data Associates, when I was starting out as an investigator,” he began, wondering as he did so why he was answering her questions just because she asked them. “She helped me with a case—she had some—skills—”

“Magic, you mean?” Adrielys raised one eyebrow with delicate irony.

“Well—yes, I guess you’d call it.”

“Oh, has Milagro been coy about that? Of course it’s magic,” Adrielys said.

Charles was warming to this woman; her confidential manner made him feel quite at ease, as if she were not only an old friend but an ally in some way in his long and tortured courtship of her elusive cousin. “Well, I guess I’ve always wondered what—well, you know, what kind of magic she’s into, if you understand.”

She gave a musical laugh and her eyes flashed at him flirtatiously. “Oh, I understand you perfectly, darling. Black or white, you mean? You can tell me.”

Feeling a bit flushed, he nodded. “Yes, I guess that’s one way to put it.”

She held his eyes. “Let me explain,” she said. “Your obvious intelligence emboldens to me to think that I will serve my purpose best by putting my cards on the table as it were. I do not propose to discuss with you the rights and wrongs of practicing the magic art. I will confine myself to saying that, like Milagro herself, I am a practitioner of some experience.” Louis was startled; Milagro had never been so frank. He half-rose in surprise, but she held up a hand and said, “Hear me out, darling. In magic, there is neither good nor evil. There’s only science—the science of creating change in the world by exerting the human will. Many people think it is evil—but that is entirely groundless, based on superstition rather than objective observation. Many people don’t understand the true depth and meaning of the will. It’s just the power of mind over matter, or perhaps mind over mind. Think of how we are speaking now—my mind, as expressed in my words, as carried in my voice, as signaled deep in my eyes—is for this moment at least dominating yours. If fact, as you continue looking into my eyes now and listening to my voice, your will is slipping away, and you are happily falling under my influence. Although your eyes are open, and you seem aware, you are in fact asleep, your faculties dormant, your ability to act and think subservient to my will. My will. My will is your will at this point, you cannot function in the least unless I say so, can you? Answer me, Mr. Winter.”

“No,” he said. Vaguely he thought that the café had grown remarkably quiet. Perhaps they had sat here talking until past closing time and they were now in an empty room. It could be; time had seemed to expand and contract and it seemed he had been sitting in this place, listening to this woman, staring into these eyes, waiting for her commands, forever.

“Good boy,” she said, reaching over and patting his hand. The very touch sent him deeper into whatever dark chamber he’d fallen into, his mind open and easy and blank waiting only to know what she wanted him to do, say, think next. She held up a finger and beckoned the waiter. “We’ll take the check right away,” she said to him. “And tell the valet I need my car now.” The waiter hastened out of view. “Give me your wallet,” she said.

He did.

The check arrived. She pulled bills from the wallet and laid them on the table. “You are now officially a good tipper,” she said. Charles did not react. “Now, Charles, you are going to get up and follow me. Follow only me. You will not see or hear anyone. There will be no one else in the restaurant. There will be a car waiting. You will get in and sit back and relax. You will be driving for some time but you can remain relaxed and calm. Good. Now, rise! You feel wonderful! Follow me!”

Charles felt himself floating weightlessly behind Adrielys through a bare echoing room, then into a car. After a long time he heard a voice saying, “Follow me into the house, Charles, and sit in the chair facing the mirror. Now, let’s go. That’s good, sit here.

“Hold this,” Adrielys’s voice said. She handed him a flat square object. “It’s a sign, Charles. Hold it up. That’s right. Now open your eyes.”

The bright light dazzled him. A man’s voice spoke. “Look who we have here, Milagro,” it said.

* * *

Louis sat back with a crick in his neck. He was usually a rapid writer, but he had seldom dashed off a narrative quite so fast. Admittedly, he had cut some corners. He would have to revise it, to be sure—the hypnotic induction was directly stolen from the one used by Charles Gray in “The Devil Rides Out.” But it moved the story—and most importantly Charles Winter himself—where he needed both to go. It was important to get it done before anything more happened. He wasn’t entirely sure what would happen next; although he himself had created Milagro Hada, she was—as some literary characters can be—something of an enigma even to him. Often he hadn’t known what she was going to do until he had written what she did; but he had a feeling that she would react, and soon.

He was still mulling what would happen next when here was a knock on the door.

Louis crossed to the door. “Who’s there?”

“Housekeeping,” a voice said.

Something in the voice moved his hand without any thought; he swung the door open.

And there she was, her eyes flashing, shapely and compelling in her black outfit. “Don’t move,” Milagro said. She moved into the room. Louis felt paralyzed.

“What the hell is going on?” she said, pulling the sheet away from the mirror.

There on the other side Louis saw what he thought he would: Charles Winter—though he’d never seen the investigator except in his mind’s eye, Louis recognized him at once—was slumped in a chair, and next to him was a woman who was in every respect that he could see a clone of his wife Elle. She was resting a hand of Charles’s shoulder and whispering in his ear.

He was holding a sign. It must have been written backwards in the mirror world because from this side it read HELP ME, MILAGRO.

“Charles!” Milagro shouted at the mirror. “Wake up!”

Charles showed no sign that he had heard. Adrielys continued to whisper to the entranced man inaudibly.

“This is me, Milagro! Wake up!”

Still no reaction.

It was time to deal with this nettlesome character, Louis thought. He started to his feet, but the dark-haired enchantress turned, pointed a finger at him, and said, “Louis—SIT! Don’t move a muscle.”

Louis felt his muscles collapse. He fell back into the chair motionless. He could not move a muscle or turn his head. He was simply there, witnessing the struggle between Milagro and the woman in the mirror.

“Don’t bother shouting, darling,” Adrielys said. “He can’t hear you. He won’t ever hear you again if I don’t tell him to.”

“Bitch!” Milagro said. “Four hours ago you didn’t exist. Now you think you are all that because this silly mortal wrote you into existence?”

“Silly mortal, is he?” Adrielys said, raising one eyebrow in an expression Louis recognized. “Exactly how then did you come into existence, cousin dearest?”

Milagro turned toward Louis. “You and I both know who wrote us,” she said. “And he is mine now; I don’t need you and I don’t need Charles.” She pointed a finger at the writer. “Look at me, Louis,” she said, drawing his eyes toward hers with her finger. “Look at me, look only at me, look deeply into my eyes, you can’t look away, keep looking….”

Her eyes were dark and deep and dangerous, Louis thought vaguely. They seemed larger than he had imagined them, larger than her face, larger than the room, so large that he was falling, falling forever as a moon falls forever toward a planet it can never reach, helpless in the grip of its powerful gravity, and the eyes, and the will behind them, grew and grew and he shrank and shrank and he imagined the sheer bliss of giving himself up and burning up in her atmosphere and becoming only part of her, it was what he wanted, there was no resistance—even though he could also faintly hear a voice from inside warning him that this was wrong, she was not his real mistress, he must save himself and save Elle, but the voice grew fainter and fainter and fainter until there was only Milagro saying, “Give me your hand, now, Louis, I am taking you home.”

Without his conscious volition, his right hand reached up and clasped hers, and with surprising strength she pulled him unresisting toward the mirror.

“I am not sure what my husband is up to,” a voice said as the door swung open to reveal Louis’s wife Elle in the doorway with an older woman peering anxiously over her shoulder.

“LOUIS!” Elle screamed. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”

Milagro turned, snarling, and moved to block Elle’s path into the room with her body. “He’s mine, bitch!” she snarled at Elle.

But once her eyes turned away, Louis was freed from her control. He stood suddenly and shouted, “Elle! Watch out for her!”

Milagro raised at hand and a kind of bubble came out of them, forming a barrier across the hotel room door and trapping Elle and the older woman outside the room. “Now,” Milagro said smoothly, “look at me again, Louis. You know you can’t resist me.”

Louis covered his eyes with his hand. “You’re right, Milagro,” he said. “You can make me go with you back into the mirror. But do you know what will happen if you do? You do, if you think about it—no, I won’t look at you now!—if you take me there under your spell the first thing that will happen is that Charles will disappear. He and I can’t exist together in the same world, you know that. You will have me and lose him—and if you put me under a love spell you know exactly what will happen—you will hold me there but it will take all your will, all your power, to keep us together, and soon you will begin to just dwindle away and so will I—like Bobbi Jo and her husband, soon there will be nothing left but two shadows walking through their roles—is that what you want?”

“Quiet!” Milagro said, snapping her fingers.

But Louis had slipped her bounds for the moment and he knew this was his one and only chance to escape becoming this own creation’s mirror slave. “I won’t. You can do this, Milagro, but if you do you will lose Charles forever. Charles isn’t me. Charles isn’t in love with anyone but you. Charles doesn’t want anything but you. Charles will never as long as he lives do anything but worship and adore you and take care of you and obey your commands. He’s right there, Milagro—you can have him back—all you need to do is turn and walk back through the mirror.”

“And what about . . . her?” the dark-haired witch said, gesturing at her blonde doppelganger in the mirror with a sneer.

“Adrielys will never bother you again,” Louis said. “I have a different plan for her.” The Elle lookalike appeared startled, but said nothing.

For a long moment, the fate of Louis and Elle, of Milagro and Charles, of Adrielys and whatever fate her author had conceived for her, hung in the balance—and then, with a snarl, Milagro wheeled and dashed straight at the mirror, disappearing with a soundless crash.

Elle rushed in the door, the bubble gone, and ran to Louis. “Louis, my god, Louis, you touched her—you took her hand, Louis—”

“Yes, I did, Elle,” he said. “And you should be glad I did.”

“Oh, really? Glad? Why exactly?”

“Because,” Louis said, “I need you and your friend to go into this closet.”


“NOW, Elle!” he said in a tone she had seldom heard him use to her, and her legs carried her into the closet, with Louis pushing Sal close behind her, saying, “Here you go, ma’am, sorry for this, in the closet, that’s it, talk to you in a minute, thanks so much.”

He pushed the closet door closed, then ducked behind the room door—just as it burst open and a scrawny teenager rushed in wearing a VAMPIRE WEEKEND t-shirt and holding a pistol, which he pointed at the bed and screamed, ‘DIE, BITCH!”

He pulled the trigger. Three things happened.

First, the gun jammed.

Second, the boy looked confused to find himself where he was.

Third, Louis hit him with a chair, knocked him to the ground, took the gun away and kicked him between the legs. “Kill MY WIFE, motherfucker?” he screamed.

Elle grabbed his shoulder and turned him to look at her. “Louis,” she said. “Sit down over there and don’t move a muscle until I tell you to.” Without a moment’s hesitation, he walked over to the chair, sat, and froze.

Elle walked over to the groaning boy, and Louis heard Elle’s voice going, “Shh, shh, darling, it’s over now, give Elle the gun and just relax.” She was bent over the boy, holding his head in her hands and saying, “You poor boy, what did she tell you? What did she promise? Oh, let me see inside, oh, there she is, that vixen—she said you need her, didn’t she? Look at me, look at me, see how small she is, smaller, smaller—look! Poof! She’s gone! There’s only you and you never needed her at all! She promised to make that girl—what’s her name?”

“Nora,” the boy whispered.

“She said you wanted the girl to suffer, but you don’t want her to suffer, do you? I thought not. You love her. You want her back, don’t you?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Look at me, dear—look at me. What I tell you is true. You should go to Nora and tell her you want her back and then throw yourself at her feet and tell her you will do anything she wants and obey her in every respect.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Good boy. Now tell Elle—where did you get the gun?”

As if waking from a dream, the boy blinked once and turned his eyes to the pistol. “OH MY GOD!” he said. “That—that belongs to the manager—if he finds it missing he’ll call the sheriff—”

“Then hadn’t you better go quickly and put it back?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Right, then,” she said. Quickly, with the quiet moves of an expert, she rolled open the revolver and dropped the bullets out. “Off you go!”

The boy stood up, looked around the room, and said in a faint tone, “Um—I’m real sorry about the whole trying to shoot y’all thing—”

“Go,” Elle said again, and he did.

“Excuse me,” said a woman’s voice. “If it’s not too much trouble, could I possibly come out of the closet now?”

“Oh, Sal,” Elle said. “I’m sorry, of course—come out! Everything is fine.” The other woman emerged from the closet looking somewhat stunned. “Was that Jerry Wilmon—the boy who works at the Gaz-More?”

“I have no idea what his name is,” Elle said. “A very cute boy, he will make a very nice pet for this Nora, whoever she may be. Louis, this is Mrs. Hawkins. She’s a librarian and a local historian—aren’t you, Sal?”

“Technically, I’m a molecular biologist,” the older woman said. “Retired.”

“Oh, heavens,” Elle said. “I apologize, I had no idea—

“It’s fine, dear, I dabble in local history.”

“Anyway, she knows the story of the magic mirror, and she thinks we need to—”

At this moment, the door flew open again and the old man from the front desk rushed in. “What in heaven is going on here?” he said. “This room is a mess! I hope for your sakes you haven’t broken my mirror!”

Elle’s eyes flashed; she looked ready to put the intruder in his place, but Sal Hawkins put an arm on hers and said, “Dear, let me handle this.” She turned to the man and said, “Nathan Broun, what is the matter with you? These young people are your guests and that cursed mirror of you just came within a whisker of running both their lives. You owe them an apology, and a better room, and a few weeks of free lodging and meals, and—”

“What do you mean, the mirror?” Suddenly he seemed delighted and eager. “Some… thing… was in it?”

“Someone came OUT of it, Nate,” Sal said.

“That’s fantastic! I’ve been waiting for this for twenty years—that’s why I put the mirror in this cabin—hoping it would attract someone who could see in it—”

“You should be ashamed,” Sal said, “Using your guests for your silly magic studies! How many people over the years have told you had bad dreams in this room? Tell the truth!”

“Well—a few…”

“Yes, and enough is enough.” With that she bent down and took off one of the sensible ankle boots she was wearing. “Cover your eyes,” she said. Then she walked over to the mirror, covered her own, and with three violent blows of the bootheel she shattered it into a million pieces.

“Salome!” the old man said. “That’s seven years’ bad luck for you.”

“Well,” she said, “I’ve had enough good luck for a lifetime. But as for you, the mirror is gone, and I want you to get rid of all that other foofaw—the peep stones, the magic cards, the dream charts—all of it! You’ve spent too much time paying attention to those knickknacks and not enough to what’s right in front of you! We are too old to be foretelling the future. We need to see what’s right in front of us’”

“And what is that?” he asked.

She fixed him with a level look until he dropped his eyes. “For God’s sake, Nate. Leo has been dead six years. It’s time to stop sulking and take the second chance that’s right in front of you.”

“Oh,” he said. “Yes, Salome. Yes. It is.”


“Can we talk about it?”

“Perhaps. When?”

“Um, tonight? At … dinner?”

“I suppose so—but not at this joint, at some place where there’s decent food and service, understood?”

“Yes, Salome. I will see you at 7?” He turned to go.

“Not so fast, Mr. Broun,” Elle said. “We need a new room and some free nights.”

“Oh, yes, of course, Ms. Murphy. How long would you like to stay?”

“Just a few—” Elle began, but then Louis interrupted. “At least three weeks.”

Elle shot him a puzzled look, but told the owner, “Yes, you heard him—and I assume breakfast is included.”

“Yes, Ms. Murphy, anything you say,” he answered. “I’ll send someone to clean up and move your things to our Steamboat Captain’s suite.” With a slightly desperate look, he made his escape.

Elle turned to Salome Hawkins. “Mrs. Hawkins, are you going to be okay—you broke the magic mirror—”

“Elle, honey,” the older woman answered, “you don’t really think I would do that if I didn’t have the … skills… to deal with whatever mischief that broken mirror may try?”

“Oh,” Elle said, her mouth falling open in surprise. “You’re a ….”

“Let’s not worry what I am, dear. But I know who you are—you are that girl from out of town who got mixed up with the coven over by Coué Creek back in the day, aren’t you? Tamsin Holroyd’s friend?” She laughed at Elle’s expression. “I surprised you that time, didn’t I?”

Elle nodded. “We do need to talk.”

“Tomorrow,” Salome said. “I need to go home and change. I haven’t been out to dinner since—well, it’s been a long time. And I finally have Nate where I want him. Luckily I have a few of the old dresses tucked away. And some … nicer… shoes. And you’ve got this darling boy to attend to, don’t you?” She nodded at Louis, who was still unable to move a muscle. She turned to go and then turned back with a sudden thought. “Did you say you did hypnosis training, Elle?”

“For you, private lessons,” Elle said. “I’ll call you.”

“Now, as for you,” Elle said to Louis, as the door swung shut behind Salome. “Stay there, don’t move. I need to check you over.” She walked over until she was standing over her paralyzed husband. “Look at me, Louis,” she said. “Only at me. Deeper. That’s right… Hmm. This is odd. She touched you. You took her hand.”

“Elle, I tried—”

“Shh, darling, I know, I know, you’re a good boy, you didn’t want to go with her. But something … happened, didn’t it?”

“Yes, I think so.”

“You saw something—you said something about Bobbi Jo putting a love spell on her husband.”

“No—I mean, yes—I did—but that wasn’t something I learned from Milagro. I already knew it.”

“Really?” She arched an eyebrow. “Don’t look away, darling—you can’t look away, can you? Good boy! If you already knew, why didn’t you say something?”

“You didn’t ask me. Wait—that’s not what I mean—what I mean is, Bobbie Jo told me but I didn’t know she had told me—I didn’t know I knew but I could see what Milagro had in mind and I knew what would happen because it has happened to Bobbie Jo and it’s why she’s in that big house wasting away—”

“Fascinating. But we will save Bobbie Jo until later, shall we? I need to know about you and Milagro. She had you, didn’t she?”

He could not look away, but he flinched and his face flushed red. “…May … be …”

“Tell me now, Louis!” She snapped her fingers.

“Her eyes … yes, they had me, I wanted to do what she wanted, I would have done … anything she told me …. But, Elle, I didn’t want to want to do it, I knew it was wrong, inside I was screaming for you to rescue me, and when you and Sal showed up the spell was broken.”

“Yes? Are you sure she isn’t inside you now, waiting to come out and take over?”

His eyes rolled back and to the left as he searched inside. “No, she tried that. She wanted me because I created her—and we fought and I won and she is afraid to try again.”

“But she may change her mind, yes? No, Louis, I said Look. At. Me.”

“She … may—she’s out there. But she doesn’t know how to find us now that the mirror is gone. And anyway, I have a plan. If I get three weeks to write, she will never bother us again.”

“Is that why you asked Mr. Broun for three weeks room?”

“Yes. It’s all I need—if we stay safe until then, the problem will be gone.”

“You may explain.”

Remarkably, Louis now smiled at Elle the kind of smile—fond, distant, somewhat condescending—she was accustomed to smile at him. “Elle, trust me. This is my turf—novels and characters. I have her where I want her and I can keep her there if I have this time.”

“Are you going to kill her off?”

“Heavens, no, Elle—that’s rule one: if you kill off a character before her time, she will haunt. You think Milagro was bad this time, wait till you see her ghost.”

This remark clearly gave his wife something new to think about. Louis was still held motionless, trapped by her will, but he was watching now as she thought about it, her teeth biting her lower lip in an expression so enchanting that had he not been hypnotically paralyzed he would have been impelled to take her to the floor and make love to her on the spot—she was so formidable, so sexy, so smart, and so cute, all at once.

“All right,” she said at last. “This is your turf. But what will we do meanwhile? I don’t have other clothes—and I can’t wear these clunky hiking boots in public, it would devastate my … public image.”

“I called the front desk while you were away this morning,” he said. “There’s an outlet mall 12 miles north at the Interstate—60 shops, including outdoor shops, women’s fashion—six shoe stores…

“You may stop now, Louis,” she said, kissing his forehead. “You had me at ‘outlet mall.’ I have decided that you may take me shopping there, you may carry my bags, and you may buy me whatever my heart desires.”

His face flushed a bit more. Shopping-slave was one of his favorite roles, and usually led to fashion shows at home that then led to further romps. “Thank you, Elle,” he said.

At that moment there was a knock at the door. “Ms. Murphy?” said Nate’s voice. “We are ready to move you to your new suite—don’t bother to pack up, we will take care of everything. While we do it, why don’t the two of you enjoy lunch and a cocktail in the restaurant—with my compliments, of course—please? As a favor to me?”

“Oh, very well then,” Elle said magnanimously. “Make sure no one steps on pieces of glass.”

“Of course, Ms. Murphy. You too, Mr. Wentworth. Thank you for staying at the Stranger.”

As they went to a long, somewhat tipsy and flirtatious lunch, they left old Mr. Broun on hands and knees with a whisk broom.

After that lunch, and a walk on the woody trail behind the inn, Elle and Louis, hand in hand, entered the Captain’s Suite in mid-afternoon, feeling relieved and content and a bit sleepy. “I need a shower—and you need a rest.” She touched his forehead and dropped him on his back on the bed. He had not moved when she emerged from the bathroom, wrapped in a towel; his breathing was soft and rhythmic and his eyes were dancing behind his lids.

“Louis,” she said, softly stroking his forehead, “you can stay asleep as we talk, because I have a dilemma and you are going to help me resolve it, aren’t you, darling? Nod—that’s right, now sleep deeper. On the one hand, you fell under the spell of that nasty little Witchcraft Barbie, didn’t you? Yes, you did. That was very naughty of you, you belong to me, Louis, you are my property like my shoes or my purse, aren’t you, yes you are, so that must be punished, mustn’t it—yes—but then again you fought free and you saved your mistress from the bad Barbie and also from the crazed convenience-store clerk, and that was terribly terribly good of you, wasn’t it? You pleased your mistress very much, darling—go deeper, that’s right—and that deserves a reward. So here’s what’s going to happen. Listen carefully, darling, every word I say becomes the absolute truth the moment I say it, everything I tell you is true, my will is more powerful than yours, and now I want you to think and picture in your mind my breasts. Can you see them? Oh, yes, I see you smiling, go deeper now, picture them in your mind, you love them, don’t you, yes you do, they are more powerful than you, they rule you, you serve and obey them and you think about them and you yearn for them, the way they taste, the way they smell, the way they feel in your mouth, it’s what you want more than anything, there is nothing else—good boy, and in a moment I will wake you and you will see my breasts—go deeper, deep sleep, because here are some more suggestions that are true, when I snap my fingers you will wake but listen carefully to my suggestion, because when you wake you will want to kiss and caress my breasts but when you try, Louis, you will not be able to touch them. When I wake you, you will want to kiss my breasts and caress my breasts but you will find that no matter how close to them you get you cannot touch them, remember, when I snap my fingers and wake you, you will want to kiss and caress them but you will not be able to get close enough to touch them but you will try and try and try until I tell you to stop, now sleep and let my suggestions take hold of you, they are true because my voice says they are true. Sleep now until I snap my fingers.”

Louis’s eyes were dancing as Elle unpacked her things and laid out the few garments she had with her. She carefully surveyed her legs, then with great care exfoliated them with a loofah. Louis was still breathing softly as she wet her legs, then shaved them, covering each patch with shaving cream before doing so. It went on for quite a while—Elle believed that a woman’s legs were entitled to the best of care at all times—and at the end she thoroughly moisturized them. Having relaxed herself even more by this ritual, she positioned herself naked on the king size four-poster bed, raised her arms above her head, and snapped her fingers once.

Louis’s eyes opened at once, and an ardent smile crossed his face as he caught sight of his wife, naked and available, on the bed. He gave off a faint growl as he climbed up next to her. “Remember that line from PRINCESS BRIDE?” he said. “’There’s a shortage of perfect breasts’?” Smiling, he leaned forward to kiss her nipple. Then a puzzled expression came over his face as his mouth stopped a few inches from its target. “Wh—wait,” he muttered, and tried (and failed) again to kiss it.

“Oh, Louis, yes, Louis, kiss my breast, Louis,” Elle said with a predatory smile. “You know you want to, you’re almost there, try harder, Louis, try—ah!” Louis was still failing, but the effort had brought his lips within a few millimeters of the nipple, and Elle could feel his warm breath as he tried vainly to reach it. “What’s wrong, darling?” she asked, stroking the back of his head with one hand. “You don’t like my breasts? You don’t want to kiss my nipple? What’s wrong—ah!” His breath came again and she felt herself quiver at the idea of what he would be doing at this moment if she had not taken away his will, and then she quivered even more at the power she had over this lovely man and her ability to make him perform absurd and endearing tricks out of love and submissiveness, and then it got to be too much for her.

“Louis!” she said sharply. “Forget about the breasts.” The hand that had been fondling the back of his head now took firm hold of it and pushed it down between her legs. “There, darling, please your mistress now—and don’t hurry—ah, that’s right, no hurry….” She leaned back luxuriously on the pillow, looking up at the ceiling while Louis’s tongue slowly moved between her legs, bottom to top slowly, then again bottom to top, then halfway up, then up and down more quickly, and even faster and then—“LOUIS!” she cried as a rolling orgasm, powered by all the sexiness and excitement and fear and wonder of the day, passed through her as like a powerful deep swell in the open sea.

“Oh,” she said after a minute. “That was … nice. Louis, you’ve pleased me.”

Her husband’s mouth continued to nibble and tease her, as she stroked his head. “Louis, do you remember those stories we found on about the ‘pleasure cruise’ where every passenger is either a hypnotist or a submissive?”*

“Yes, Elle,” he said faintly as he flicked at her with his tongue.

“And do you remember the scene where the stage hypnotist asks the wife if she ever wants to have sex with her husband and he doesn’t—so she gives the wife a trigger that makes the husband her sex slave?”

“Mmm,” he said from somewhere below, clearly listening but not closely.

“And then she asks the wife if there ever come times when her husband is eager for sex but she just wants to relax?”

He raised his head to look at her curiously. “I think so. Why?”

“Well,” she said. “I thought that was such a good idea I have done exactly that with you. You don’t remember but I programmed you with triggers in your sleep. And right now—” She leaned down next to her husband’s ear and whispered a command, then snapped her fingers. As she watched, his eyes rolled back, his face went slack, his body collapsed and he was dead to the world. It took (she had been counting off) 12 seconds for Louis to go from avid swain to sleeping beauty. A speed record.

There comes a time when the most intrepid hypnodomme and witch must take a break from ghosts, witches, love spells, and mirrors, and simply catch up on couture. Elle carefully freed her legs from Louis and stretched out beside him. She picked her reading glasses off the bedside table, along with the latest issue of GLAMOUR, which had a must-read spread on “satin skirt style.” She dawdled over the pictures, wondering which of the filmy slip dresses would look good on her. She was capable of being objective about questions like this. She decided that most of them would look smash.

After a while she dozed; still later, she woke and used the other trigger she had implanted in her husband, taking him in 12 seconds from sleepy sluggard to sex machine. It was a long and lazy afternoon.


Fans of the popular Charles Winter-Milagro Hada supernatural mystery series by author Louis Wentworth last week received a present and a setback with the debut of his new title, THE MAGIC MIRROR MURDERS. It is no spoiler to reveal that, at book’s end, the somewhat goofy but intensely loyal “paranormal detective” at last wins the hand of the seductive and elusive Milagro; after another adventure that nearly costs them both either their lives and their souls, the two decide to spend their lives together. Contacted at his home in the Tri-County Area, Wentworth confirmed to BOOK MONTHLY that this would be the last Winter-Hada mystery. “These two have found each other and the last words of the book are ‘happily ever after,’” he said. “Those words for characters are like the word heaven for the human soul. Once you write that, they never come back—why would they?”

Disappointed fans, however, can rejoice that a new series has begun, also set in the rich supernatural streets of Wentworth’s fictional river port, Frenchman’s Bend. The new stories star Milagro’s cousin Adrielys Merveille, a former big-city policewoman who has, for reasons the reader will learn over time, given up her law-enforcement career for a practice as a “love psychic” advising humans, witches, and assorted supernatural beings in their affairs of the heart. “It’s a bit more romantic than the stories of Charles and Milagro,” Wentworth said of the first title, due in six months. “But there’s enough excitement to go around.”

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