I woke in a hospital. They were evaluating me for a concussion. I’d missed my flight and my head absolutely throbbed. They told me Mari was in jail.
There was a very helpful nurse named Candice. She helped coordinate a delayed flight with my airline, no additional fee required. Shouldn’t have been difficult, but you know how airlines are even when their passengers miss planes because they got their fucking heads kicked in. Yes, on top of all her other ... talents, Mari was a martial artist and a good one, she’d fucking roundhouse’d my head several hours into the future.
Good news is, hey, brains are surrounded by bone, my brain might’ve been surrounded by slightly more bone than usual, and when kicked in the fucking head by a fucking martial fucking artist, the more bone the better. Yay!
Never been so glad to be a bonehead, I thought. Then I got to worrying. Sure, Mari’s in jail. For now. But I know how she is, and if she doesn’t want to be someplace and can look someone in the eye who can change anything at all, she will end up going wherever she damn well pleases whenever she damn well wants. So, yes, a hospital bed had been nice for the last few hours, but the sooner I got the fuck out of here, the better.
OK, that was a lot of f-bombs for a little more than 2 paragraphs ... I guess I could blame the salty language on the fact that there was an empty bag of fucking saline solution pinned to my arm through an IV, but really, I needed to get the fuck out of here. Awright, 3 paragraphs.
Bag was empty, needle was straight. Bandages clustered my cheeks. Fucking Mari ... yeah, I needed to go. Candice had already printed the revised ticket. All I needed was to get to my rental car, which was near the hotel, which was where my bags were, which was where Mari worked, or used to. And, if she wanted, she probably would again. Fuck. Yeah fine, 4 paragraphs.
I had to assume she would be at the hotel. I called the front desk.
“She’s ... unavailable right now,” said the woman’s voice on the other end of the line. She sounded a little out of sorts but not outright spacey like I thought I might’ve sounded if under Mari’s direct influence. I asked her to ship my bags to the airport nearest my home ASAP ... I could pick them up there later, and could check on them as they traveled. No sense repeating earlier mistakes. Then I deactivated the heart rate monitor, slid the IV needle out nice and easy, wobbled my way out of my hospital bed, retrieved the rest of my clothes from a cubby, traded the hospital johnny for something I could wear in public, and got the fuck (5 paragraphs of f-bombs? I’ll stop counting if you will) out of there. As usual, I had a clean paper towel in my pants pocket, a habit picked up when my children were tiny and had the unfortunate habit of spitting up every few hours. That paper towel plus a little direct pressure would make a serviceable, if not exactly sterile, bandage.
Not sure how my clothes were in a cubby in the room, actually ... I didn’t think that was hospital SOP, but at least it was convenient.
I caught a cab to the hotel parking lot, picked up my rental, drove to the airport and dropped it off, stepped onto the plane, called Joanna to leave a message that I would be later than expected after the most un-be-frickin-lievable day of my life, and didn’t relax until the doors closed and the plane started moving. Then I went to sleep—unconsciousness is not the same as sleep, and I was exhausted after the most incredible day I could’ve ever imagined. Crossed my fingers to that, literally, before nodding off.
When I woke, I already knew that if I’d been hospitalized, my address and contact info had been exposed at some point, and Mari being Mari, she would know soon enough where I lived. “DAMNit,” I mouthed.
My plane landed. My wife picked me up outside Security. We kissed. Hugged hard. Kissed again.
“Your face! What happened?!” she asked.
“Can it wait?” I asked.
“25 minutes home,” she said. “Now would be good.”
I love Joanna. I told her everything. We were almost home by the time I finished. At a stoplight I saw a bumper sticker on the back of an older economy car that read “Hypnotists Enrapture,” a spiral beneath. Joanna got a little hung up on the whole “boyfriend” angle ... “why would anyone say you were her boyfriend?” she asked.
“She wasn’t ... and isn’t,” I said. “She was just saying that to throw off everyone else.”
She looked at me hard. She seemed disappointed, sad, longing for a different present. “Was it just for sex?” she asked.
I could’ve cried. No it wasn’t for sex, and no it wasn’t for anything ... it had just happened and there was no actual sex and everything had been out of my control anyway. (I think?) Either way I was concerned that Mari might follow us home, and told Joanna so. Maybe that wasn’t the best thing to have confided.
“Why would Mari come after us here?” Joanna asked. Her eyes were wet.
Deep breath. ‘Because she’s a fucking lunatic,’ I wanted to say but didn’t, though maybe I should’ve. Or ... maybe not.
“I don’t know,” I said instead. My lovely wife was pulling into our driveway. No crazed magical-eyed maniacs awaited us inside. Certain of Joanna’s body parts were as in need of warming as was usual in winter when she hadn’t had a hot bath before bed, and I was as easily roused as ever. I warmed her, she warmed me in turn, we both came more quickly and synchronously than usual. For my part I came considerably harder than usual, with overtones of sorrow. I spooned her asleep. She rose before I woke.
I got out of bed and found the old grimoire. It’d been months since the last time I looked, but I needed answers that were notably lacking everywhere else—I was getting down to last resorts. What I discovered was as mind-blowing as everything that’d happened yesterday ... until now that book had been less than 200 pages full, its last two thirds blank. Today, 50 pages beyond what had been the last previously inked page, four more were now visible, not all consecutive. The first:
I don’t know how many years it will be before you read this, though I know it will be many. There are no men in my family, not from so many generations of foremothers and sisters, so I have little experience in knowing how to talk with you. So many men have come and been lost to me without having to know them as well as I would’ve liked—no, loved—to know you, but I am so glad you are who you are, that I helped contribute towards your making, and I hope to help more. You should know that I chose your forefather because he was such a fine man, as fine as any I’ve known, but you must not seek out his other descendants. They don’t know you exist, but would be led to you in sufficient need.
This book is almost all we have together. It will reveal much of what you need to know as you grow in wisdom. Keep learning, feeling, exploring, thinking, empathizing, reflecting. Keep trying to know your world better; it will become better the more you know it.
To begin, there are two sides to magic: light and dark. All you’ve learned until now is the light, but almost every ward from the light has its counterpart in a spell from the dark. All might fairly be called spells, but the difference between dark and light is whether magic is directed outward for gain or profit or dominance, or inward to protect, often against the same. Most dark spells have complements in a light ward, and vice versa. Knowing one will help you know the other.
Know, too, that as you become strong on one side, you will become more visible to anyone with a sense for magic, especially from the same side, so if you wish others to remain unaware, as you should, you must learn both in equal measure. Be cautious in how you apply the knowledge you gain, and I sense you will gain much indeed, as it can affect the balance of the world and we have only one, which must be shared with so many.I love you so much,G.
The second new page, 10 blank pages after the first, listed several glamours. Chant(s), ingredients, context, everything. None seemed terribly complex. The recipient could look like anyone they wanted, as desirable (or not) as they ... desired. The chants sounded kind of hot, and were described as best practiced with an interactive audience. Cripes. I tried not to think of Morgan.
The last two new pages were all about compulsion and mind control, more accurately a sort of index to spells and wards against them, and there seemed to be a shit ton of variants. Pocket watches, crystals, eyes, spirals, hands, feet, shoes, candles, a glass harp, silk, scarves, stockings, even socks(?!). Magic! Combinations! All of the above! The possibilities seemed endless, limited only by the creativity of the caster and the predisposition of the recipient. Yes, I thought of Mari. Several spells were included in detail, and one in particular drew my attention: it was about eye fixation as well as some wards against it. The key concept seemed to be moksha. ‘I should learn more about that,’ I thought to myself.
Other than my own extrapolations, there were no obvious answers to any questions I might’ve had about all this.
I thought back to the letter (to me?!) on the first new page. How many years / tears had it taken for a woman (or generations of women) to lead up to that? I couldn’t begin to imagine. I went to sleep again almost immediately after hitting the pillow. My dreams were all over the map (’There’s a map?’ I dreamed), but when I woke I had something approximating a plan, except my wife had returned to bed and was awake beside me.
“Bo,” she said, using her nickname for me, “when you said Mari could make you do whatever she wanted just by snapping her fingers and commanding you, what was that like? Do you really think she’ll come after you just because you seemed to be able to resist her? I’m worried about this.”
I took a long breath in, then out. My wife is a famous worrier ... if she didn’t have anything major to worry about, she’d find something minor that neither of us had any control over. I had some of my own coping mechanisms for this, mostly having to do with helping her get to sleep, which sometimes seemed like the only way she could sleep at all. These involved progressively guided relaxation. Sometimes rubbing her forehead helped, other times it seemed to be a distraction. I hadn’t really puzzled out what worked best or when was the best time to use any one technique, but she almost always thanked me later, saying it’d helped, so I kept on.
In all our years together I still hadn’t quite gotten ’round to mentioning that an extended session of massaging her tended to be arousing for me, but I’d also noticed that such an extended session sometimes seemed to elicit the same sort of soft moans that often resulted in an orgasm for her, which, when I then involved her sexy bits, usually resulted in a bigger one. When we were younger I used to get her off just by rubbing her back, then focusing on her hipbones as her lower back flowed into her still-wonderful ass. A place I’d learned recently was more concisely labeled as her sacrum.
“Jo,” I began, “what exactly are you worried about?” I was kinda regretting confiding this concern to her—soothing her to sleep had lately been contributing to my own sleep deprivation, both from less time available for sleep and also from all that unfulfilled arousal I would experience while rubbing her to sleep. Others have said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again, but aging sucks.
She breathed out hard. “It’s not that,” she said, “at least not right now. It’s ... well ... when she was commanding you and you had no choice but to obey ... is that still something you ... we ... need to be worried about?”
“I really don’t think so,” I said. “By the time I was leaving (and, oh yeah, just before she punted my skull) her commands didn’t seem to be working any more.”
She took another deep breath. “That’s not exactly what I mean,” she said. “I mean, I don’t want her to be able to command you again, but ... well ... what if you could still be commanded by ... someone else?”
I raised myself to my elbows, leaned toward her. “Who else are you worried about?” I asked. I was ... um ... rousing again.
“It’s not that I’m worried about anyone in particular, I’m just wondering.”
Deep breath. “I don’t know,” I said. “I feel like I kinda sorta got to the bottom of whatever influence she was using and found a way to get past it.”
“Could someone else do the same thing to you? Maybe someone you didn’t feel threatened by?” she asked.
I thought back to the grimoire and one of its most recent advisements: “Keep empathizing.” I’d already learned from a very few conversations with First Peoples elders that there was a time when shutting up and listening was really the only way to have a meaningful conversation.
“Do you mean ... you?” I asked. If the bedroom light had been on and she didn’t tan so easily, I might’ve noticed her blush.
She took an unsteady breath. “Yes,” she said softly.
“Um ... lemme think about that,” I said.
Jo draped her leg across mine, moved her knee and shin to squeeze my balls further up. I liked to think that I hated it when she did that, because it so often meant I would massage her for an hour before she went to sleep and I was left basting in my own precum. Except it always ALWAYS felt so damn good.
“Uhnh,” I said.
“Just ... think about it,” she said. I expect she knew exactly what she was doing to me.
And I did think about it. Jo’s leg pushed my balls up every few seconds, which was A LITTLE DISTRACTING (thank you, Jo), but I did indeed focus. Would it be possible for someone else to re-establish control over my involuntary response? Preferably someone who hadn’t forced it in the first place? And whom I already loved and trusted?
“Keep doing that,” I whispered. Gratefully. “I’m thinking.” Uhnh.
The pressure she applied every few seconds might’ve helped put me deeper into some sort of trance state; my focus was good. I went deeper. Deeper. Uhnh. Damnit. Uhnh.
“Slow down,” I asked, ’cause I was getting close, or maybe I was just begging. She put her hand on my forehead and started massaging, which I’ve always loved as much as she does. She was still pushing my balls up a few times every minute.
I drifted off again and it was a good drift. If some random superbitch like Mari could put me into a state where I was totally at her mercy, could Jo? What had Mari done to get me so ... suggestible, amenable, so goddamn hard, so ...”
“Slower,” I said as if from a dream, thinking I might be onto something. Uhnh. Jo’s soft leg slowed. I was getting spacier. Even hornier. “This has been a crazy week”, a thought drifted across my mind as if ... over a frozen pond. A teensy alarm went off in my mind.
I was pretty thoroughly out of it, but maybe that was what it took to make a few connections: Mind control. Compulsion. Eyes. Grimoire.
I came, all over the underside of our sheets. Shit, that hardly ever happens. It usually takes a lot longer, needs a lot more stimulation.
Gasps. “I think ... I know ... how to do ... what you ... want,” I said. Gasps.
Both of us had to clean up ... I’d made quite the mess. She was ... expectant? I was back from the bathroom into bed first, almost immediately retreating (regressing?) to a trance state. Jo put her hand on my chest, played with my nipples a little. She hadn’t made a habit of that before, and it was ... stimulating, but then she’d already taught me so much about what worked for me, sometimes totally out of the blue. I was always so happy when she repeated something that worked, which didn’t happen nearly as often as I wanted. Welcome to married life, y’all.
“So what is it?” she asked.
She was warm, I was warming. I’m sorry, I love this woman. She’s always been as warm as I might’ve wanted, even when she might’ve thought she wasn’t. Pause. The space heater outside our open bedroom door was blasting. Loud. Background. Warm.
I thought back to Mari, to when I’d closed my eyes in the conference room just half a day ago, her fending off various thralls but taking long enough, barely, that I could return to ground[edness]. I thought about her eyes and how supernaturally compelling they’d been. Uhnh. (Wait ... again? Already? Really? OK, it’s Jo ... bring it.)
Deeper. Deeper. My balls got compressed upwards, and you know what? ... Deeper.
I was pretty deep. Yeah, pretty deep. Deeper and deeper.
“I know how,” I whispered. “Let me make it so,” I said.
Jo, for one of the few times in her lovely, loving life, didn’t say anything. But my balls got squeezed upward again. Sigh. Again. Moan. (That would be me moaning, for those keeping track.)
I thought back. Her leg’s movement was a distraction my mind could tune out even if my body continued responding. I thought of the grimoire. All that pleasure (and potential frustration) she was making me feel was background now. Deep background. Deep ... conscious(less)ness. I could let Jo control my involuntary response to her words. Did I want that? It was kind of a ... deep question. Did I want to let someone I loved get me off whenever she wanted, whether I knew it was coming or not? Well ... hell yes! OK, decision made.
Her leg, moving, compressing my balls. The back of her hand, now caressing my cock and balls. After coming twice in the last 12 hours, I was ready again. Don’t try this at home, fellow old guys, unless you are fortunate indeed.
OK, do try this at home if you have as loving a wife as I, and count your blessings the while. Then, when you catch your wind, respectfully, lovingly ask her to do it again, as many times as she will, and hope for the best.
I came again. All under the fucking sheets, which were already pretty goddamned slick from her prior ministrations and my predictably copious response(s). My side of the bed, of course.
I’ve slept in worse.
“So what is it?” she asked.
“Nuh ...” I managed to say. Then I felt her hand on my forehead, gently massaging. She breathed a hot breath into my ear. I went deeper still, into deepest headspace.
“Let me ...” I began. “Let me ... make it so ...”
My hand went to her leg, massaged her quad, her knee, then (trying not to tickle) her waist. She moaned. Then ...
I found the switch, no, switches, in my mind that Mari had flipped. They were obvious when you knew what to look for. And I was going to let my wife take control of them. Deep breath. Yes, of course I would.
I doubt these had seemed like switches to Mari, but mine was a different perception than hers (thank goodness). To me it was a couple switches, and I’d just given Joanna control over them. Except ...
“For one day.” I said, somewhat spacily. “You snap your fingers, I will heed. Each time you snap, I will feel more pleasure. Do it enough and I’ll come, but ... please don’t. Give me a command when you snap and I will obey it.” I sighed.
Jo breathed deep, in and out. “Make me come,” she said, smiling, and snapped her fingers.
I did, she did, we did, she did did did, and eventually I did again.