LaPorte Caves – Chapter 10
Written by circes_cup :: [Thursday, 14 April 2016 16:39] Last updated by :: [Saturday, 16 April 2016 09:36]
SYNOPSIS TO THIS POINT: A wrong turn in a Kentucky cave landed Howard and Julia in an alien world – a world run by amazon women whose supernatural strength was derived for a mysterious drink called Nourishment. The couple made a pact to get back home as soon as possible, but Julia broke her promise by experimenting with the Nourishment, and quickly becoming an amazon herself. To make amends for this betrayal, she used her amazon abilities to discover a route back to Earth. As much as Julia may have enjoyed having amazon abilities, her overarching desire, the thing she really needs, is to repair her relationship with the man she loves. And that means going home with him to Earth.
This story contains adult sexual content. If you are not of age to read this stuff, don’t. No resemblance between these characters and real people on Earth is implied or intended.
Julia found herself encircled by Howard’s arms. He had thrown them around her in a vigorous bear hug. At least, she thought it was a bear hug. She couldn’t really tell whether he was squeezing her or not. He was so weak, and despite herself, she found his weakness adorable.
“Thank you, Julia. Thank you!” He broke the embrace and grasped her hands. “I can’t believe you found the way home. How did you do it?
“It’s right what they said about the Nourishment. I can … hold more information in my head.”
“Does that mean that you’re more intelligent than me now?” he asked, with concern.
The question caught her off guard. She ran a finger across his palm, counting several hundred of the lines there in only a moment. “It’s true that I have abilities now that I never had before, but they will fade when I go off the Nourishment.”
A look of relief crossed his face. “I’m just glad you found the way home. I can’t wait to get out of here.”
Julia felt a swell of pride. Whenever she had been in trouble back on Earth, he had always been the one that saved the day. Now, it was her.
“When do we go?” he asked.
“Not until later tonight, after the beach party.”
Julia explored his face for an objection to the delay. She found none.
She nonetheless volunteered an explanation. “Ruth has been over the moon with excitement about this party. The woman has so many responsibilities, so many people relying upon her, that she’s never giving her the chance to cut loose and have fun. Ruth has been so good to us, showing up is the least I can do. While I’m with her at the party you get our gear prepared. I’ll slip away, and find you when the party starts to wind down. We can take one of the cars to the cave entrance and leave it there. I’m sure Ruth won’t mind.”
That was easy, Julia thought. No second-guessing her judgment, no disagreements on the facts, no alternate suggestions. Just OK. Julia smiled. In this relationship, she had never taken charge before. But it felt … good.
In any other circumstances, a girl could get used to that.
“Do you have clothing I can wear in the caves? My old stuff won’t fit.”
“I managed to scrounge a few things that Mindy was planning to give away. They’re not perfect but they’ll do.”
“Leave them on my nightstand. I’ll change into them before I come find you.” Julia intentionally omitted the please.
She smiled inwardly. It was fun being in charge, if only this once.
Howard pursed his lips before speaking again. “I’m sorry that I got mad at you today. You weren’t trying to make me miserable, I know. I just had never realized how infuriating it is to be so worthless here.”
“What in the world do you mean? You’re not worthless, here or anywhere else!” He seemed so frail in that moment, so in need of her affection. She felt her nipples stiffen under the red of her cotton top. She ran a hand up his thigh. “Would you like a little reminder how I feel about you?”
He cast his eyes away from her muscles. “No thanks,” he whispered.
“Oh, that’s right. In this body, I’m grotesque to you.” The realization emptied frisky mood right out of her, like pulling the stopper of a bathtub.
“I’m sorry, Julia. That’s part of the reason I’m desperate to return home. I want the old Julia back. Our relationship wouldn’t last if I am intimidated by your power, or unattracted to the form that your body is now. I want to keep us together.”
“I understand.” Julia did, all too well. Most men back on Earth didn’t like muscles on a woman. And it was crazy to expect Howard to be any different. Howard wasn’t the freak. She was.
Julia crossed her massive arms over her massive chest, as if to hide the form Nourishment had given her.
She kissed him on the forehead and wished in vain to have Howard’s kisses touch her in return. The ache inside her grew. In place of her passion’s bright fire was now smoldering a bed of coals, the heat unseen and yet somehow greater in its intensity. How long had it been since she had allowed herself the pleasure of sex? She forced herself to put the thought out of her mind.
“We’ll be back on Earth soon,” she reassured herself out loud. “Remember the plan: Be ready when the party is over. Now, Ruth is expecting me at the beach soon. I have to go and pretend to have fun.”
When she arrived at the beach, preparations for the big fish fry – or eel fry, or eel bake, or whatever the hell they did here – were in full swing.
The gaggle of guys from the fishing boat was scrambling about, collecting firewood. They were all in pretty good shape, Julia noted. Some of them were even muscular, albeit in a diminutive, male sort of way. Her gaze coursed over their healthy physiques, while her ears took in their playful voices. They look good to me, Julia admitted, the bed of coals inside her reddening with new heat. They shouldn’t look good to me, but they do.
“Hey there!” It was one of the guys from the fishing boat. He had apparently been collecting firewood with the others when he had noticed Julia wandering the beach.
“Yes?” Julia groaned silently as she turned to face him. With the prospect of leaving so imminent, it would be difficult to keep up the pretense of enjoying the party. Even now, Howard was making the preparations.
“I remember you from the boat this morning. You’re the other siren of the sea!” he laughed.
This brightened her mood by a shade. Siren-- Howard never called her anything like that. “I never thought a siren could weigh almost 400 pounds,” she joked as she surveyed the scene on the beach. “How are you guys doing with the firewood?”
“Not all that well. The beach has been picked over pretty well.”
Julia glanced at the small pile of wood the guys had managed to assemble. He was right: they didn’t have nearly enough.
“We did find one large branch …” His embarrassment continued. “… but it was too heavy to move.”
“Ok, show me.” If she was going to bide her time though the party, she might as well be helpful.
Julia followed the man back into the woods. He had overgrown salt-and-pepper hair, a wiry athletic look, and from behind, a respectable caboose. She found that she enjoyed looking at him even more than the others.
He lead her to a spot where six of the guys were trying to move a large, dead branch. It was perhaps two feet thick and fifteen feet long, one of many that were lying next to a much larger, fallen tree. Julia giggled at the exertions of the boys as they struggled with the branch. How heavy could it really be – six hundred, eight hundred pounds? “I’ll take care of this, guys.”
“Really?” The relief of her salt-and-pepper friend was palpable. “That’s awesome, thank you!”
The men immediately released the branch and backed away. Julia left it on the ground and focused her attention instead on the tree itself – five feet across and forty feet long. She placed a hand on the trunk and rocked it back and forth slightly. With every feat, she was becoming more experienced estimating weight. The tree seemed to be about twenty five thousand pounds – really no big deal to Julia’s enhanced genetics. The house had been far heavier. Julia could hardly believe the reality to which her mind had grown accustomed. “Why don’t some of you run and find an ax?”, she suggested.
A few of the men quickly scampered away. Huh, Julia thought. I tell them to do something, and they do it. Women lead. Men follow.
A girl could get used to that.
Julia pressed her fingertips on the surface of the trunk. She was greeted by a cracking sound as her fingers dug into the hard wood. To her, it felt like she was sinking her fingers into soft dough. But they penetrated the wood grain with all the gentleness of machine-driven iron spikes. By the time her fingers hand sunk down to the knuckles, Julia knew she had adequate purchase. She hoisted the twenty-five-thousand-pound mass with ease onto one shoulder. The forest resonated with the crashing of broken branches spilling off the main trunk. Men backed away for fear that the amazon might turn her torso and send the trunk sweeping across the area like a massive baseball bat. Their trepidation made Julia giggle all the more. “Think this will be enough wood?” she asked.
That got a laugh. The men were hanging on her every word, she could tell. Their mood grew lighthearted.
Howard is always threatened by my strength, resisting it, she mused. But these guys aren’t threatened at all. They seem to accept the reality that I am more powerful than them.
“Clear a path,” she ordered.
And they did.
With her long strides, Julia made for the beach, no longer hiding the heavy THUD-THUD’s her body made with each step. She adopted a brisk pace, as fast as she could walk without breaking into a jog. The men’s laughter was quickly replaced by huffing as they struggled to keep up.
The scene made Julia giggle. She was the one carrying the twenty-five-thousand-pound mass, and yet, it was the men who were struggling to keep up with HER.
As she passed through the forest, her burden would occasionally tangle with other trees, foot-thick limbs snarling together. Not bothering to lower her speed or alter her path, Julia exerted phenomenal, thoughtless power through her stride. The forest echoed with loud CRACKS as her forward progress resolved the snarls with brute force.
Before she knew it, they were back at the fire pit. Julia dropped the tree dismissively onto the sand. A massive BOOM emanated down the beach, a reminder of the enormity of the weight that Julia had been so casually shouldering.
“You guys have that ax yet?” she asked.
One of the guys motioned, and Julia turned to look. Approaching her from the gardening shed were five of the guys, working together to haul a large object, as big as a casket, to the fire pit. As they neared, its features came into view: it was an ax, but on a massive scale. A thick, six-foot-long handle connected to a huge iron ax head, perhaps six inches thick and three feet long. The men sweated and grunted with the exertion of holding and carrying it.
Julia took the ax from them with one hand, her enhanced muscles supporting with ease what five grown men could not. She hefted it experimentally – 800 pounds. Of course the tools here would be adapted to the abilities of the women that used them, Julia thought. She gave it a swing and found it to be less of a burden on her arm than a common household hammer would have been back on Earth. A world that had seemed completely absurd to Julia only days earlier was looking more and more … normal.
Facing the tree, Julia swung the ax with terrifying force, driving it all the way through the five-foot-thick trunk. The tree didn’t just sever at the ax head’s blow. It seemed to fly apart. Chunks of shattered wood flew twenty feet In every direction.
She began to wield the 800-pound tool in one hand. Walking the length of the the tree, she swung the ax at the trunk at regular intervals. Powered by her inhumanly strong muscles, the 800-pound ax head became a blur. The tree exploded as if had been hit by artillery shells, shards and chunks flying in every direction.
WHAM WHAM WHAM. Julia continued her assault on the tree, her breathing easy, her muscles unchallenged.
WHAM WHAM WHAM. Men backed away and covered their heads with their arms as wood fragments shot through the air. They are so fragile, Julia thought to herself! So adorably fragile.
WHAM WHAM WHAM. It took only about two dozen blows to decimate the entire tree, leaving behind nothing but a shattered trunk and a beach strewn with broken wood.
She reached down to start picking up the pieces when a hand stopped her.
“Please don’t do that.” It was the cute guy with salt-and-pepper hair. “Gathering firewood is menial.”
“What do you mean? Somebody has to do it, after all.”
The man regarded her quizzically. Other men within earshot stopped what they were doing and cast furtive glances at her. Whatever she said had made all of them uncomfortable.
“I’m not from this land,” Julia offered.
“Menial work is for men,” the guy explained. “We’ll take care of it.”
“Ok,” Julia said. “Maybe I’ll help get the fillets on the--”
An uncomfortable silence began to settle on the beach. “We’ll do that too,” he said.
“OK.” Julia turned toward the house. “I can go to the house and get the glasses for the--”
She felt male fingers on her forearm. “No, please. If I or any other man allows you to perform menial tasks, the other guys will give me shit for weeks. They’ll say that I’m not capable of serving your needs. Or too lazy. Or that you find my efforts unacceptable. It would embarrass the crap out of me.”
That, in turn, embarrassed Julia. “Sorry, I hadn’t realized it was like that. At a minimum, I can take the ax back to the shed. Unless you’d like to take it back yourself,” she said with a smirk, motioning at the 800-pound object.
“OK,” the man laughed. “I’ll let you take the ax back. As long as you promise to relax afterwards.”
“Since you insist.” Julia felt her genetically enhanced muscles easily hoist the 800-pound load off the sand. She propped it on her shoulder and walked back to the shed.
A sense of relief seemed to spread across the beach. Men resumed their activity, laughing and teasing each other.
The men don’t just serve us, Julia thought. They WANT to serve us. They get teased if they don’t. By letting him take care of me, I’m not imposing on him. I’m helping him.
Wow, Julia thought.
A girl could get used to that.
“Something is on your mind, isn’t it?” Ruth said. The rising flames of the bonfire turned Ruth’s complexion to gold.
Julia popped the last bite of eel into her mouth, hoping that filling it would allow her to avoid Ruth’s question for a few seconds longer. She sunk back into her beach lounge chair and closed her eyes.
Dinner had been delicious. All of the preparation and serving of the meal had, of course, been done by the men. Ruth had made Julia practice being more demanding with the men – telling them to fetch spices and condiments for her, instructing them to re-do parts of the meal that weren’t already perfect. It took some adjustment, that style of behavior. But Ruth was a good coach. The key, Ruth said, was accepting the fact that her whims were important, that men would gladly scramble over each other to make her happy. She also counseled Ruth on the perils of not making any demands – that being too-self sufficient left the men disoriented and upset.
It all turned out to be true. Whenever Julia tried to do something for herself, a palpable discomfort settled on the group. But when she began exercising her authority, the men seemed relieved … and determined to outdo one another in answering the call.
Julia had to admit, having that sort of relationship with men could indeed be addictive. It was depressing to think that she would be leaving all this behind her in a matter of hours.
“You never answered my question, You look lost,” Ruth observed, a tinge of exasperation in her face.
“I’m worse than lost. I’m found.” Tears must have welled up in Julia’s eyes, for some of the men were pausing their reveling and casting furtive confused glances in her direction.
“Come,” Ruth said, rising out of her lounger. “Let’s go somewhere we can talk privately.”
Once the women were standing, Ruth spoke to the men in a tone soft but commanding. “Disrobe us.”
The men did. Quick fingers unraveled the knots of Ruth’s sarong and bikini. Julia’s borrowed cotton top and denim shorts, ripped and dirty after the day’s activities, apparently deserved less respectful treatment. Ruth ran a dismissive finger vertically down both garments, tearing them down the middle and leaving the men to slide the ruined scraps off her limbs. “When you’re ready to get dressed again, there’s a replacement outfit on your nightstand in the guest bedroom.”
The heat of the bonfire, only a few feet away, warmed Julia’s skin. It was the second time she had been naked in front of these men, and she still felt a bit bashful about it. Her looks had received a positive reaction from these men earlier, and an even better one at the beachside bar. But Howard was unambiguous in his dislike for her appearance. Her hands fumbled in via to create some coverage. “Where are are you taking me?” she asked.
“Right here.” Leading the younger woman by the hand, Ruth stepped directly into the fire, resisting Julia’s hesitation with a gentle tug. Ruth’s bare feet crunched through the hot, red coals. Once the flames enveloped the older woman from head to toe, she turned to face Julia.
“What are you waiting for?” Ruth said through the wall of yellow and orange.
Julia had no answer. She tentatively poked a toe toward the scorching bed of coals. It was warm and pleasant to the touch. The rest of her foot followed as she stepped with her full weight onto the seething bed of embers. They hissed in protest, but the protest was futile. The crimson coals did not harm her.
“How hot is this fire?”Julia asked, not trusting what her elevated senses had already measured.
“About twenty three hundred degrees Fahrenheit.”
Julia finished her beer and rested the bottle on one of the burning logs. The bottle’s shape quickly succumbed to the heat, slouching over like a clock in a Salvador Dali painting. Hot indeed.
My skin should be blistering in this heat. My flesh should be disintegrating. I should be dying, she thought. I can feel the flames against my skin, but it’s just a satisfying warmth. Julia dug her toes into the pleasing intensity of the coals. I’m invulnerable, Julia reveled. It’s yet another thing I’m giving up to go home.
“Do you always do this at bonfires?” Julia asked.
Ruth wrapped her thick arms around Julia’s waist and brought their iron curves together. The woman began to sway gently to the a tune the men had struck up. Julia found that her own body wanted to join in.
“I find the heat really helps my muscles relax. And it’s nice to have a private space right in the middle of the action, somewhere we can talk just girl-to-girl.”
Ruth was right about the privacy. From the middle of the ten-foot-wide pit, the flames formed a cage of light, blotting out the outside world. The loud cackle of the fire drowned out all but the steady rhythm of the ocean waves. Men occasionally approached the fire to add a log, but the heat stopped their frail bodies several feet away from the edge of the ten-foot-wide pit, forcing them to toss the logs rather than place them. The women had their own private sanctum inside the inferno.
“I also like to dance for my men before I enjoy them.” The sway of Ruth’s hips accentuated the music. “It teases them, makes them all the more aroused, which means they perform even better when the time comes.”
Men … Julia’s body ached at the idea having a man’s hands on her skin right now, feeling his hard … no, stop, she exhorted herself.
“I need to leave,” she declared. “Leave this world. Before it destroys whatever relationship Howard and I have left.”
“If you truly love each other, how could being one place or the other for a short while destroy anything?”
“Our relationship has always been built upon mutual respect, treating each other like equals. But here, Howard feels that he is inferior to me.”
“His body is inferior to yours. And his mind too,” Ruth affirmed. “So, yes, in a certain sense, he is inferior.”
“And that’s what’s destroying us.”
Ruth thought about this. The beer bottle in her grasp had now melted like Julia’s. The red-hot liquid was pooling in her hands. She twirled some of it between her digits, lost in thought. “Being a man can be hard,” she finally said. “Sometimes, I don’t know how they do it. But let me ask you a question.” She jutted her chin at the men gathered on cooler ground. “Do these men seem depressed? Do they appear to suffering in some way?”
Julia glanced at the revelers, her superhuman eyes penetrating the bright flames far better than a man’s. “No, they’re celebrating.”
“Their record catch. Their big accomplishment.”
“But did they really accomplish anything?” Ruth prodded. “We did everything for them. We herded the eel and beat them into submission. We all but threaded the hooks through their mouths. The men’s catch would have been zero today if we had not intervened.”
Ruth was right, Julia knew. Julia watched several men using a stick to reposition a log that had fallen away from the fire. The log was smoking only a little bit, but the men still could not touch it. They are so weak, Julia thought. She wiggled her toes in embers hot enough to turn a male foot to ash. “You’re right, we did everything for them. So what exactly are they celebrating?”
“Men are slow but they are not stupid,” Ruth continued. “They know something happened beneath the waves today, and they strongly suspect we had something to do with it. But knowing this doesn’t bother them, doesn’t damage their egos.”
“That IS different than Howard. He would chafe at the idea that someone was tilting the odds in his favor. He wouldn’t be celebrating a catch that wasn’t truly his.”
“Men here do not distinguish between their own accomplishments and those of women. It is all the same thing. You doused those guys with water and nearly sunk their boat. They responded with a lot of class. And in so doing, they won your favor. Only an hour later, their holds were filled with a record catch. So, sure, hauling in the eel took some skill. But their greater accomplishment was winning your favor.”
Be kind to the Nourished and the winds of good fortune will fill your sails. That was what the bartender had said to her. He wasn’t making idle talk, Julia realized. For the men here, this philosophy was real.
“We call it the dance.” Ruth’s beer bottle had melted to the consistency of molasses. She cupped in her palms and absently twirled the red hot mass around her fingertips. “The men know we did something to assist them, but we keep the details a mystery. We let them celebrate their ‘accomplishments’, and do not rub their impotence in their face. And they, in turn, readily acknowledge that we women have enormous power over their lives.”
“You make us sound like deities rather than people.”
“In a way, we are.” Ruth pressed her palms into the fullness of Julia’s breasts, the molten glass spilling over her softness. The crimson liquid should have bored a hole straight through her flesh, but instead it only made her nipples stiffen. “We’re nearly invulnerable to harm. Feats that men’s minds can barely imagine are easy for us. Our superior strength means that women make dozens of times a male salary in physical labor jobs. And our far superior intelligence means that 97 percent of the world’s patents are held by women, 100 percent of the executive positions at large companies are held by women, and 100 percent of the high-level political offices are held by women. We make all the money. We make all the laws. And the natural environment, not matter how many perils it presents to men, is nothing but a playground for us. So, yes, in some ways we are deities.”
The words coursed through Julia’s system like a drug – one that obtained its power not through some hallucination, but instead through the truth. The truth, however, was so foreign to her that she had to repeat it out loud to believe it. “Women control everything. But this left unsaid. Nobody rubs it in men’s faces. And the men, in turn, seem to know that, to the extent they accomplish anything in life, most important ingredient of their success is winning the favor of a woman. And this – this you call the dance.”
Ruth answered only with a nod and a smile. The beat of the music flowed through Ruth’s body, a serpentine sway that was sure to mesmerize the male eye. She wrapped her arms around Julia, guiding her into the slow dance. Their breasts pressed into each other with thousands of pounds of pressure. Liquid glass squished out of their embrace and made scorching rivulets down the sides of their invulnerable bodies.
Julia closed her eyes momentarily. Her body enjoyed the feel of an embrace that would have turned cinderblocks to dust. Her mind however, was less content. Who could dismiss the allure of possessing such immense power? And she was leaving it behind.
Ruth continued, her voice was soft, like velvet. “But the dance works only if the men are mature enough to make it work. They need to accept the fact that winning our affection is accomplishment enough, and that there is nothing they can do with their bodies or their minds to make them more worthy of admiration than they already are. But some men can’t seem to do this. They become ensnared in the idea that they can somehow accomplish something that would be impressive to a woman. They develop a delusion that they can somehow, someday, through endless hard work, possess some skill that is comparable to ours. When they do this, their life becomes a nonstop series of disappointments. This is the route to misery, for everyone. Women cannot avoid the truth. Our bodies and minds are superior. And the men, they cannot avoid the truth either. Their bodies and minds are inferior. It’s that simple.”
Julia sensed flames hot enough to incinerate male flesh crawling up her backside. Her genetically enhanced skin delighted in the warmth.
“If Howard is miserable,” Ruth continued, “it’s not because of a swim lesson gone wrong or an unintentional dunk in a pond. He’s miserable because he believes that his skills should add up to something, that his accomplishments should make him worthy your admiration. And so he is trying desperately to prove that he has some sort of skill that comes remotely close to yours, that he is not vastly inferior to you in every respect. In short, Howard doesn’t know his place.”
He doesn’t know his place, Julia thought. POP went one of the logs as the heat cracked it wide open. It was all so simple. The men here accepted the truth of their inferior capabilities. Howard constantly ignored it, denied it, wished it away. And that was making him miserable.
Ruth tightened her embrace by just a thousand pounds – just enough to get Julia’s attention. “Don’t leave, Julia. Stay. Give Howard a chance to learn to learn how to believe in his own innate worth. The process will build his character, and make him a better man. You owe him that much.”
Julia regarded her friend through air made turbulent by the heat. The fire was consuming everything – the logs, the glass of the bottles. And perhaps even her common sense. Her brain rebelled. “You have no idea what you’re asking me to do.”
“Don’t do it for me. Do it for yourself.”
I can’t, Julia knew. I can’t do it. She averted her gaze from Ruth’s, only to have it land on the men that encircled the fire, dancing and carousing.
Unfortunately, the men looked even better to her now. Not only were their bodies in good shape, but their personalities were appealing as well. She knew this because her enhanced auditory functions had overheard everything every man had said while she and Ruth were in the fire. And her enhanced mental capabilities recalled all of it with perfect clarity. Yes, she thought, reviewing her memory of each conversation at lightening speed, these were good guys, all of them. Some were loud and gregarious. Some more reserved, and yet with an impish sense of humor. And some were downright shy, which Julia found most endearing of all.
No matter the differences between them, one thing they had in common tonight was a relaxed sort of cheerfulness. That was such a contrast to how Howard had been these last few days, by turns angry, insecure, argumentative and who knows what else. Their cheerfulness was so refreshing that she found herself wanting to wrap herself in it.
Ruth was following the progress of her gaze over the men. “How long has it been since you’ve had sex? Twelve hours? A day?”
“Since before I Nourished,” Julia admitted.
“Oh, honey. You must be about to explode.”
A soft moan escaped Julia’s lips, voicing her body’s agreement
“A half dozen men ought to help you get through the night, as long as you follow it with more tomorrow.”
The suggestion was absurd, Julia knew, but … a half-dozen men! She felt her body come to life at the thought. “I wouldn’t want to cheat on my boyfriend.”
“I don’t know what you mean. If you still love him, then it’s not cheating. Howard is your Claimed,” Ruth explained. “He is exclusively yours. But though he may be exclusive to you, you are not exclusive to him. You cannot be. Your body needs more than that. You have the strength of many, many men. The intelligence of many, many men. Why would your appetite be any different?”
The seductive simplicity of Ruth’s logic only stoked Julia’s fire further. “Howard would be devastated,” she objected.
“So, devastate him. He needs to learn humility remember? To accept the fact that he doesn’t always have the upper hand?”
It sounded too good to her.
“Besides,” Ruth continued, “the worst cases of domestic abuse in this land are when Nourished women try to be celibate. They get so frustrated that they take it out on their men. One angry gesture from you, in a moment of weakness, could tear a guy in half.”
Julia closed her eyes and tried to take a deep breath. But in came only smoke, and it was black.
Tear a guy in half, Julia thought. Ruth was being literal. The thought sent a cold shiver through her. She had already been inadvertently rough with Howard long before she was as horny as she was now. What would happen when they were alone in the caves together, if he cast her one of those adorable smiles? Would she be able to control herself? If he further thwarted her need, would he survive?
Ruth seemed to sense Julia’s problem. “You cannot allow your frustration to grow beyond its current levels. You cannot expose Howard or any other man to that danger. It’s your responsibility, every woman’s responsibility, to make sure her sexual needs are satisfied.”
Satisfied. Julia squeezed her eyes shut and shuddered with need. When she opened her eyes, they had adopted a will of their own. They sought out the salt-and-pepper guy who had earlier asked her help with the firewood. She found her gaze coursing over his wiry limbs, that very respectable rear-end, those shy eyes, and oh!, an impish smile. He was adorable.
“You can have dibs on him if you like. In fact, you can choose all six of your favorites, and I’ll just take the remaining six. There’s not a bad one in the lot.”
Her insides burned with an intensity that even the flames could not imitate. She fought back the consuming heat with every shred of her will. How can I possibly cheat on Howard? And yet.…
Ruth took Julia by the hand and led her back out of the fire. The sand felt cool on the soles of her feet. She looked down at her limbs, blackened by the soot of the fire. “I look disgusting.”
“The men will clean us up,” Ruth explained. And indeed, two buckets had been set aside, with several washcloths draped over their rims. Beside them, thick layers of wide palm-like leaves had been laid out on to form two beds of green on the sand.
As Ruth laid herself down on one of the foliage beds, Julia followed suit on the other. The green leaves smoked and blackened wherever they came in contact with her skin. I must have been heated to several hundred degrees, Julia realized. And yet, her genetically enhanced skin had withstood the furnace without even a twinge of pain.
Two men emerged to assist with the cleaning. Ruth shook her head. “I don’t care which of you does me. But my friend would prefer him.” She motioned toward the salt-and-pepper haired man.
“Damn you,” Julia protested as she watched the man in question. An adorable smile crossed his face for only a moment before he smothered it in shyness, which made him only more adorable. He came to his feet, brushing the sand off his delectable ass, and walked over.
“You don’t have to trouble yourself with this, you know,” she said as he arrived.
“It’s the opposite of trouble,” he said, wringing the washcloth out. “It’s the natural order of things. Men always enjoy serving women.”
“How can you enjoy waiting on someone hand and foot?”
“Women are greater beings than men.” He donned gloves the thickness of oven mitts. “Women are like the clouds or the mountains or the sun. Imagine how incredible you would feel if you could walk outside, and with your own actions, turn stormy weather into a bright, sunny day. That’s how I feel when encounter an unhappy woman and find a way to make her smile.”
Wow, Julia thought. Howard would never talk like that. “What’s your name, sailor?”
“Benjamin,” he laughed. “And I’m not a sailor. I do landscaping.” He moved the washcloth over her left arm. It hissed, the steam billowing off as he moved wet rag over her superheated skin. The purpose of the oven mitts was clear to her now: to protect his frail body. The realization left her with a reminder of the immense invulnerability she possessed.
His breath hitched as he spread the rag wide over her upper arms. It failed to circumscribe even half the girth.
“Is everything ok?” she asked.
He had to inhale before responding. “It’s been a while since I felt a girl’s muscle.” His voice was awestruck. “I’d forgotten how large they were. And how hard.”
His eyes were wide with admiration as the coarse terry explored the extreme swells and furrows of her arm muscles – first the left arm, then the right.
“Simply incredible,” he whispered.
Howard wouldn’t have said that, Julia realized. “Would you like me to flex it for you?”
He nodded for about the same length of time that it took Julia to wonder what the hell she was doing. But flex she did, the granite swell of her bicep balling into something every bit as large as a volleyball. Howard would have found it frightening or disgusting, but not this guy. With speechless awe, he ran his mitts slowly over the muscle. “Even more incredible,” he whispered. “I wish I could feel it with my skin.”
I wish you could, too, she thought. I would like that.
Benjamin moved to her neck, the rag sliding diagonally down the mountainous slopes. She sat up for this, better allowing him to work. He ran the rag through the strands of her hair, and then dabbed it over her cheeks, nose and forehead. His own face was only a few inches from hers, and the blue of his eyes had a pleasant sparkle to them.
“You’ve got a beautiful face,” he observed.
“Aren’t all Nourished women are good-looking?”
“Yes, but the Nourishment was especially generous with you. Your features are, well, stunning.”
Upon hearing that, her insides became flush with warmth. Howard never spoke to her like that. The wet terry ventured lower now over her collarbones, sending an unexpected tingle through Julia. She could feel his hands tremble.
“Your hands are shaking.”
“Sorry. It’s … it’s just been a while since I’ve … I since I’ve touched … and you’re so … so …”
Julia felt lightheaded at the effect she had on him. “You think I look nice. Is that what you’re trying to say? A girl always likes to hear that.”
“No, not nice. Perfect.”
Julia felt her nipples harden to something stiffer than oak.
His rag hesitated just below her collarbone. Her breasts were covered in soot, and needed to be rubbed down as much as any other part of her body. But he was clearly too much of a gentleman to touch them without her permission. And that only added to his charm.
Julia arched her back, an unspoken invitation for him to take the fullness of her bust into his hands. His eyes went wide as his mitts began to traverse the expanse, another reminder that her power over these man was more than just muscular. Against the immensity of her dimensions, the palm-sized clothes seemed like little more than flower petals floating on a pond. The cloths had to be refreshed in the bucket several times to clean the entirety of her ‘girls’, thick clouds of steam rising into the air.
She closed her eyes as the cloth dipped into the deep chasm between her breasts. “If my boyfriend saw where you hands were, he’d be livid.”
“Your boyfriend?” The man paused. “You make it sound like you have only one.”
“I do. That’s normal, where I come from.”
“He is responsible for satisfying your appetite, all on his own? I feel badly for him. How does he have the endurance? I’ve seen men wind up in the hospital trying to accomplish less.
“I’ve been holding back,” Julia admitted. “Abstaining, actually.” She groaned as an errant corner of the washcloth scraped over her distended nipple.
“But your libido-- it’s so much more powerful that an man’s. How can you stand it?”
I’m not sure I can, she thought. The man had cupped her breast with one hand. His muscles strained visibly as he lifted its twenty pounds to run the washcloth underneath. She found herself sliding an affectionate hand over his knee cap.
“Grip this instead.” She felt the man pull his knee away and guide a cool, rounded object into her hand. A rock. “When a woman goes too long without sex, she can be a little bit … Rough.”
“You’re worried about me shattering your kneecap?”
“It wouldn’t be the first time something has happened. The man seemed to crouch over by instinct, as if protecting his ribs.
“You got hurt there, didn’t you, by a woman?”
“She was young and, well, horny. She didn’t mean it.”
“Did she bruise you badly?” Julia asked.
“No. Broke four ribs.”
“I’m sorry to hear that.” She didn’t mean it – his words rang through Julia’s head. What if I did that to Howard?
“As we always say here, if a woman truly loves a man, she makes sure to bring home many sexual partners, so that the man she loves will live to an old age.” He removed his oven mitts now. Apparently her skin was no longer hot to the touch.
She laid back down now and focused on the distant blue of the sky, hoping that it would distract her from the sensation of being touched. But the wet cloth had now left her bust and was excavating soot out of the narrow gorges between her abdominal muscles. It tickled. And it enlivened her over-charged nerves all the more. The end of her fingers trembled, and her limbs tensed, as her body tried to shake off the arousal.
Julia thought – as much as conscious thought was possible – about what Benjamin had said. Men here didn’t just tolerate the multiple couplings of their women. They welcomed it. She regarded Benjamin’s cute smile, his admirable ass. She could make love to him, right here, right now, for the asking. She would be held to no commitments, and he would know full well that additional men would follow him. And everyone, everyone in this society would approve. She felt the cloth traveling lower now, beginning to explore her thighs. His touch on her outer thighs was teasing enough, but his touch on her inner thighs … Oh my! The smoldering embers of her sexual appetite erupted into a bright new fire.
I have to be good, Julia exorted herself. Howard suffered betrayal enough when I decided to take the Nourishment. This would add insult to injury. “You have to resist, Julia,” she whispered, in a tone so soft that even the man kneeling next to her would not hear it.
“Why?” came a whispered reply. The voice was Ruth’s.
Julia slitted her eyelids open, her eyes unfocused. The woman was twenty feet away, but with her superhuman hearing, it may as well have been inches. She was sprawled across the other bed of palm leaves, her legs spread slightly. A man’s head was between them, the color of his hair distinctly different from that of her husband’s. In fact, her husband was at her side, whispering in her ear and hopscotching gentle kisses down the slopes of her muscled neck. He was seemingly unperturbed by the presence of another man between his wife’s legs. She had run a hand over her breast, and Julia could only imagine how many thousands of pounds of force the woman was applying to her own engorged nub. She grit her teeth, felt her muscles tense and heard the soft wheeze of her own voice, nearly moaning with need.
It was then that Julia felt a strange sensation in her hand – the spilling of dust between her fingers. She looked. In her hand lay the shattered rock, much of it ground to a fine sand. Oh no, she thought. I didn’t even notice I was crushing it. That could have been Benjamin’s knee! This madness had to stop.
“I need a cold shower,” Julia announced abruptly. She stood up, the movement of her juggernaut body knocking her attendant off balance. “Something to clear my head.”
The man at her feet cast a plaintive look at the washcloth in his hands. The other men on the beach seemed to take notice.
“It was nothing you did,” Julia assured him. “I just need to clear my head before I do something I regret.”
She watched the torment on his face. She now knew that his social standing among the men would be determined by whether he succeeded in serving her adequately. And by all appearances, he was failing.
Julia checked the small clock in hanging in the kitchen, two hundred yards away. Howard should be almost ready by now. She glanced again at Ruth: the woman was lost in a sexual oblivion. Good, Julia thought. It is almost time.
“I have a new task for you,” she announced to Benjamin, making sure to inject authority into her voice. “There are some clothes my boyfriend left me on my nightstand. If you could bring them to the women’s guest bath, that would make me happy.”
This seemed to set Benjamin at ease. She knew that a trip to the nightstand would have been just as easy for her as for him. But that’s not how things work in this world. Julia reminded herself. Women are in charge. Men do what they are told. And everybody is happier if those roles are respected. Julia tried to imagine a life where she never had to clean her own house, run her own errands, even cook her own meals. The thought sent an uninvited thrill through her body – one she tried to ignore.
With quick, forceful strides, Julia thundered her way back to the house, eager to calm her body down and begin the journey home. She was also looking forward to washing away everything that had accumulated on her today – the sand and the pond scum and the salt and the heartache and the desire and the guilt. She was ready to wash it all away, leave it all behind.