Wishing On Embers
Confessions of a Mistress (Part II)
by Gwen Masters

Tiny embers spun out of the fire to land on the old stone hearth. They burned brightly for a moment, then they were gone, the fuel of their passion carried on in the flames. The warmth of the bed enveloped us both just as his arms cradled me like a child. Orange and red danced in his brown eyes. Together we watched as the embers flew and tried in vain to salvage themselves, throwing their tiny bodies toward the edge of the hearth and the vulnerable hardwood. They all fell short with a dying trail, like that of the finest star falling through a midnight blue sky.

"Wish on embers, like wishing on stars," he mused. I burrowed deeper under the covers that held out the cold February night. His body was just the right kind of warmth against my skin.

"I don't wish on stars anymore," I whispered. His lips touched my forehead and his breath drifted across my hair. Outside the snow fell but here in this cocoon of passion we were safe and unaware of the impending storm. Occasional slivers of ice ticked against the windowpanes as if trying to invade our humble shelter. His old shirt wrapped around me in a way that made me feel protected and sacred. Protection and adoration were new to me. Strange, that I should find them in such an unlikely place.

"When did you stop wishing on stars?" The question came on the end of a sigh as his fingertips trailed down my belly.

I thought about lying beneath the canopy of stars on an island just south of nowhere. I thought about loving Aaron, a man who swore he loved me but could not trust me. That night, two months ago, I wished on every star I could make out, until the universe got the best of me and slid behind the horizon. Perhaps if there had been one more star, he would not have ended us. Three days after wishing on the stars he told me he would always question what kind of person I really was. Then he cried because he felt guilty for making me feel guilty.

If only he could see me now, Aaron would feel more than justified.

"I stopped wishing on stars about the same time I stopped believing in fairy tales." My hands delved into his hair. Soft and thick, it curled around my fingers like a beckoning force. His eyes were the lightest brown graced with strands of green. Amber light danced in them, the reflection of a fire in need of tamping. I could see myself there within that fire, my trust thrown into a man whom couldn't be trusted simply by the virtue of being here with me.

I briefly wondered where his wedding band was. Then I wondered exactly when he took it off. Was it in the pocket of the slacks on the floor? In the glove compartment of his car, tucked away into darkness? Or was it hundreds of miles away in a little Mississippi town, discarded into the bottom of an old dresser drawer? I couldn't help but wonder where that image of reality that eroded fairy tales resided.

I would not ask. My rights extended only to the threshold of that cabin door and the threshold of his heart. No further could I venture without throwing up defenses that would tear down the smoke screen of denial I had so carefully erected. To err is human, and to justify without logic is even more so. His skin was warm under my palm as I pressed against his chest. I curled into him like a trusting little cat and purred when his fingers caught in my hair and pulled my head back.

He knew what I needed. I needed to be the one not responsible. I needed to escape from the knowledge that this was of my own volition. We were both fooling ourselves. No matter what she had done to him and no matter how lonely I was, this was nothing but feeling all the right things for all the wrong reasons. He had a way of making thought escape the confines of morals.

So when his lips found my throat and his teeth bit down, my gasp was one of not only pleasure, but the release of pain by giving in to it. Two long satin strips found their ways around my wrists, and I went willingly, wanting to be able to say, I had no choice. I had no choice but to partake of the hedonistic pleasures he could give. The truth shone in my eyes. I knew that he felt it, that he saw it. I knew that when he suddenly yanked hard on the satin, sending a shaft of pain through my arms and making me cry out.

His voice was pensive and low. The thrill cut through me like a serrated knife. "Fairy tales do still exist. Ever wonder what the wolf would have really done to Little Red Riding Hood?"

I had to smile at that. "That wolf was one scary bastard." He smiled back as he slowly unbuttoned one little pearl button after another, finally leaving me bare and displayed before his hungry eyes.

He rose above me and let the blankets fall to the foot of the old carved bed. The firelight became one with his skin and made the gentleness seem menacing, the kindness seem cruelty. His hands were rough on a body to which he had paid homage. He knew what I needed.

"I always had the secret hope that the big bad wolf would catch that little redheaded bitch," he murmured. "And then do all sorts of things to her before he devoured her alive."

He bent his head to my skin. His teeth found the hardness of one nipple and bit down without hesitation. One hand pushed my thighs roughly apart and he settled between them while a flood of white-hot desire began to flame deep within me. The tears that stung my eyes were not born of pain. Rather, they were a release from guilt. In some dark corner of my mind I craved the punishment his body could bestow on mine. It would balance the scales of what I had taken so unjustly.

His hand in my hair tightened and he yanked hard. The pain shot through my shoulders. I moaned under his tongue as the wetness of it washed over my throat. His lips found my chin, my lips, my forehead. Then his body was above mine and he was forcing my head down. Never had he been so demanding as that. His erection slipped past my lips and deep into my mouth, making me arch by instinct and cough. He moved steadily and quickly, while my tongue moved around him and my lips welcomed him inside. He did not touch me other than to hold my head in place by the long red hair curled about his fingers.

The spillway inside my body gave way, and I whimpered in need. I tasted the first drops of what he could give and the bitter sweetness made my heart pound as if I had just taken a dangerous drug. The sounds that fell from him shocked me in their depth and unconscious rendering. The quiet man I had known for two days was now replaced with a man unleashed. My bonds released his. His deep baritone echoed from the open rafters of the cabin.

The satin around my wrists lent a sort of permission to be what I needed to be. I closed my lips over him and sucked hard. My fingers wanted to touch him and so I wrapped them tightly around the headboard and closed my eyes. As he pulled back I fought to keep him inside my mouth. The pressure became enough to make him gasp. Then he shoved himself back into me with a viciousness that made tears spring to my eyes and slide down my temples.

"Is this what you wanted?" he growled from above me, already knowing the answer.

My body trembled. His manhood slid out of my mouth and I licked his swollen head, tasting the drops of his essence that had escaped his body in the heat of desire. He watched, his eyes lit from within with his own special kind of fire. He slid into my mouth once more. His eyes were intent on the scene before him as he moved back and forth, savoring the thrill of watching what his body was feeling.

His hand in my hair began to shake. His chest heaved with the pressure of drawing a simple breath while his body approached that sweetest point. I sucked deeply as if drawing on a fine cigar. He suddenly clenched the headboard above us, making the bed rattle and the springs creak. A log in the fireplace snapped as if encouragement. He came with a shudder and a deep groan that seemed fitting to the musky taste that flooded my mouth. I let it ride over my tongue and sampled it as if it were wine. His eyes never left mine as I took his essence into myself with a low moan of satisfaction. The look in his eyes was one of such possessiveness that it made my heart pound almost as hard as his own.

His breathing was strident against my temple as he moved down my body, leaving a trail of wetness and heat between my breasts and across my belly. His tongue followed. The winter air rushed in and left those trails as something refreshing and cool, a respite from the near-hellish fires that burned within. My knees were roughly pushed apart by his broad hands. His fingertips slid up my thighs and I relinquished all control with a sigh.

Butterflies came to life in my stomach. His mouth was gentle but his hands were not. I lifted my hips to the sleek sensation of his tongue exploring just how ready I was for him. One finger plunged deep into me with one swift motion, making me cry out in surprise. I closed my eyes and the images came back then, the battle within myself of a trusting woman with green eyes and this man with me in the act of betrayal. His tongue moved over me and I opened my eyes to the feeling. I focused on the silken touch and the crackling of the fire and the taste of him that lingered in my mouth.

Two fingers made me squirm and buck hard against his hand. His laugh resounded from deep within him and vibrated on my belly. "That's it, baby. Get greedy. Tell me you want more."

I thrust harder and he spread my legs wider. He sat back to watch me. I felt entirely exposed and sweetly vulnerable under his watchful eyes. "Take more," he whispered, and I began to ride his hand, driving myself deeper into the abyss of pleasure and wanton seeking. He did not move, just simply watched my body undulate against his palm, watched the eagerness that I could never hide.

He slid his fingers out with a gentleness that almost pushed me over the edge. Then he pushed them in again, slowly, leaving my body swollen and dripping as he pulled them out. Long strokes designed to bring me to orgasm made me arch and cry out in a voice I hardly recognized, so desperate and needy it was. His eyes never left the motion of my body. His intention on branding the memory into his mind sent my desire soaring.

The sweet spiral of near-pain built deep within. My legs shook around his. My eyes were open as I came, watching the expression of pleased contentment on his face as my body convulsed and clenched around his hand. The sensation made my body tingle and my heart pound with the blissful clarity of pleasure. My voice was exciting to my own ears as I called his name into a room in which even the fire had banked itself in deference to what I needed to feel.

Then he was between my thighs and my legs were twined around him. He thrust into me with a power that flirted with the line between pleasure and pain. The pressure was almost frightening yet welcome, both pleasure for the man and well-deserved pain for having him. All gentleness was long gone. His hands dove into my hair and his teeth found my shoulder. He bit down harder, the fury of his body making him groan with every plunge into what I offered. The satin bit into my wrists. My hands clenched the headboard. My legs fit nicely around his waist as he drove downward, harder, filling me as full as he possibly could.

I rocked to meet him with every thrust. His mouth claimed mine with a confidence that took my breath away. His hands clenched over mine on the headboard. And thus he took all I could give, leaving his mark on my soul as well as my body. I would leave this cabin a new person. I would be wiser and more honest with myself. And I would come to terms with what I had done, and with the fact that I would come back again and again to taste the sweet nectar of illicit passion that I wanted to drink only from him.

We approached the edge of reckoning at the same time, just as he had intended. Whatever we were doing, it would be done together, as equals. His motion slowed as we found the pinnacle. He loosened the straps around my wrists. And then I was holding him, partaking just as fully in our joining as he was. This time there was no escaping sound of passion. This time there was simply the crackling of the fire and his gentle sigh.

The slow and easy turn our lovemaking had taken brought the tears to the surface. I cried into his shoulder as my body pulsed around him. His own silent tears fell and made comforting trails down my skin. Still he did not stop moving. Now that the cataclysm had passed, he still knew what I needed. The motion was sweet and unbroken and totally healing in a way that I was beginning to believe that perhaps, one day not far into the future, I would deserve to feel.

The fire burned low in the grate. We cuddled together under the blanket in a room suddenly grown chilly. The coldness was not within us. We were reverent and silent in the understanding of what line we had crossed, the acceptance at which we had both arrived. His eyes delved into mine as if discovering something new and enticing and wholly intriguing.

"Hi," he whispered softly.

"Hello," I whispered back. He smiled.

"I wished on an ember."

His eyes were clear and uninhibited. His hand on my belly belonged nowhere but there. His shoulders were made for my arms to circle in just this right way. I looked at him for the first time with no reservation, no ghosts of green eyes, and no questions, save one.

"What did you wish?"

The gentleness of his smile ran through me with the most delicious of indulgence. "I wished that I could erase that worry from your eyes. That I could take the guilt and leave it with that ember that was dying, right where it needed to be. Don't regret me," he suddenly said, his voice pleading.

"I don't regret you."

He looked at me for a long moment, as if pressing the honesty of us into his memory. Then his head slowly lowered to my throat, where his lips simply felt the pulse within me, the life the flowed through my veins. His whisper was soothing balm for my battered soul.

"If a wish on an ember can come true, then surely a fairy tale can, too."

As the sun rose, we held each other. I watched the last of the flames die with the light that rose through the curtains. The light breathing on my back made me feel as if this bed were the only anchor in a world gone slightly crazy outside those doors. Still the snow fell. Somewhere, lives went on. Another workday cranked into motion. Yet here we were.

An ember jumped from the grate. My eyes followed it eagerly this time. The childish promise and belief surged anew within me, vigor I had thought long dead and left abandoned on a beach just south of nowhere.

In harmony with his gentle breathing, I made my wish.

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