Chapter 30: Crossed Swords

Melissa walked into the exercise studio, wearing a sports bra and exercise thong. Once her eyes adjusted from the bright afternoon sunshine to the interior lighting, she saw a wiry middle-aged woman practicing with a sword, sweeping out beautiful arcs of motion. The older woman spotted her and waved, but finished her latest pattern before stopping. “You must be Melissa.”

“Yes. You’re Pauline?

“Polly will do.”

“Okay. So, ah, is that a real sword?”

“Oh no, it’s a tournament LARP sword.”

“LARP sword?”

“Live action role playing, LARP. It’s weighted just like a real sword, but the blade isn’t steel. It’s actually an aramid/epoxy composite core wrapped in latex rubber. It’s thicker than a real blade. The edge is soft and rounded, so it won’t cut, and the tip won’t penetrate in a thrust, but it is stiff and heavy enough to leave a bruise. Also, the edge and tip are lined with little conductive wires. When this button is turned on,” she showed Melissa a button hidden in the pommel, “if the edge or point contacts your opponent’s bare skin, it’s a bit like being hit by a Taser. That part of your opponent’s body isn’t going to work right for the next minute or so.”

“Gosh,” she said dryly, “Erik, somehow forgot to mention that part.”

“It’s to keep players from cheating in a tournament. If your arm or leg gets hit, it’ll go numb, which makes it a lot harder to win your match.”


“But we won’t practice with the edge turned on – at least, not until you’ve had a chance to learn what you’re doing.”

“Um, so why are we doing this anyway?”

“Cause it’s fun,” Polly answered with a sincere grin.

“Whacking each other with swords?”

“Yep. Look, us girls, we’re brought up not to hit each other, right. I mean, we’re supposed to hold back, not hurt anybody – that kind of competition is bad.”

“Well, right, but hurting people is bad, isn’t it?”

“Sure, but the world out there is full of boys who grew up smashing into each other in football and other sports. So while I’d certainly agree that hurting other people for fun and profit is a generally bad idea, I also think being afraid of that sort of physical competition puts women at a disadvantage. Look, I’m not saying that women should go around beating people up. Trust me, my point isn’t that we should be as stupid as men, it’s just that we shouldn’t be intimidated by men. Plus, and I’m not joking – it is fun when you let yourself get into it.”

“Uh, okay.”

“And the good thing about LARP tournament play is that you can’t really get hurt. Sure, it’s intense, but that’s part of what makes it fun.”

“So did you teach Erik?”

“No, I mostly just teach women.”

“Wow, is there a big demand, I mean like some sort of exercise thing?”

“No, not really. Most of the women I teach are already involved in role playing activities, you know, like in Renaissance Fairs, or they have boyfriends or husbands who are already into LARP tournaments. Erik’s… he’s on the kinkier end of it – where the women compete on behalf of their ‘master’ or ‘owner’ or whatever. And yeah, some of that gets pretty creepy, so I stay clear of it, but Erik isn’t part of the creepy crowd. From the times I’ve met him, he’s always been a straight-up guy, so when he asked me for help, I said ‘okay.’ And I’ve helped train a couple of other women who are part of the group he’s in. They tell me everything’s cool, so I’m good with it.”

“The group he’s in?”

“Yeah, they meet about once a month for tournaments. Just the girls fight. Their costumes are… well, you know, typical male fantasy stuff for women warriors. It’s pretty over-the-top sexual, but everyone seems to enjoy it – the women included – so what the hell? Why not?”

“I see. Ah, it definitely sounds like something Erik would like.”

“Hey, if you’re not into it – I mean, I don’t want to be part of making you do anything…”

“No, no, it’s okay. With Erik, I’ve been, well, I’ve been learning lots of stuff I never thought I would be into – but hey, it turns out that I really like some of this weirdness. Now… I’ve got to admit, I had some doubts about the sword fighting thing – but I told Erik that I would try it, so I will. He’s, a… he’s got this Lara Croft fetish thing, which I mostly think is kind of adolescent and silly, but, who knows, maybe I’ll find out I really love the whole LARP thing. I fell in love with the whole Tudor period of England for awhile when I was thirteen, or so. And this summer is turning into a walk on the wild side for me. So far – that walk has really rocked my safe little world – mostly in good ways.”

“Okay, so does that mean you do want to do this?”

“Yeah, sure, bring it on.”

Polly nodded, then handed Melissa the sword, then positioned her fingers around the hilt, saying, “Here’s how you hold a sword.”

For the next hour, Melissa learned to parry and thrust, including all the footwork needed to maintain balance, while delivering powerful strokes of the sword. Once the lesson was done, she was sore in completely new places, not yet discovered by Mistress Amy in her exercises or by Mike in learning hand-to-hand self-defense, or even by Serena in their messing around. Fencing, it turned out, required an exhausting combination of intense focus, very fast movement, and high muscle strength. As Melissa returned the borrowed sword and padded armor, her abdominal core muscles felt completely worn out. Her right arm ached from swinging and thrusting. Her left arm was numb from holding a shield and blocking sword blows.

After Polly packed everything up and left, Melissa stumbled into the shower, still in her exercise clothes. Her arms had screamed in pain when she tried to reach up to pull off her sports bra, so she had given up. After ten minutes under pulsing streams of water, with the temperature set as high as she could tolerate, her muscles finally stopped complaining. Her skin was pink and tingly. Tentatively, she reached up and was able to peel the wet sports bra off and slip it over her head. She dug her thumbs under the slippery waistband of her sports thong and slid it off her hips, allowing it fall. It landed with a sodden thwap. Thus freed, she finished washing and turned off the water, then gathered up her wet clothes.

Her skin was so sensitized that toweling off was painful, so she only used the towel on her hair. After standing quietly for a minute to regain her strength, she tossed her wet things in a hamper and walked to the door, looking out to make sure that Abigail and Chuck Grady weren’t in sight. Seeing nobody outside, she set out, naked, wet, and somewhat sheepish, for the main house.

As she walked, she let the warmth of an early June afternoon sun soak into her body. Thinking back on her day, however, her mood darkened. After seeing the Sunstone workers yesterday, the contrast of being a rich man’s play toy left her with a guilty sense of indulgence and idleness. She couldn’t see what she did as work, even if it could be physically exhausting.

She stopped suddenly, with a wry grimace, realizing that the simple act of dumping her towel and wet clothes into the hamper had kicked-off her current round of guilty feelings. Living on her own for the last few years had corrected her teenaged expectation that discarded dirty clothes would magically reappear in her room, washed and folded. Now, she hated it every time she left a mess for Abigail to clean up, no matter that Abigail truly seemed to enjoy being Erik’s housekeeper and took real joy in taking care of them.

Melissa laughed to herself, knowing Erik was right. ‘Being a good little Catholic girl’ explained far too much of her behavior. Her desire to follow the rules and please others felt annoyingly strong. Even now, having been somehow reborn as a crazed sexual deviant, she felt a powerful drive to be the best possible sexual deviant.


*   *   *


The sun was low in the sky as she trudged tiredly back up to the house. Mike had left her with dozens and dozens of boxes of ammunition, along with a thick sheaf of targets and instructions to fire at least five boxes of ammunition every day. With that duty accomplished for the day, she had stuffed the empty boxes and used targets in a small leather backpack she had scrounged up in her closet. The leather was so nice, it looked as though the backpack was really meant to be a purse, but she couldn’t find anything more practical, so she had used it, even though she worried about scratching it up.

Her new gun was tucked into a shoulder holster that Mike had left for her. She was glad that at least the holster was made out of practical black woven nylon and molded plastic. Mike didn’t seem to share Erik’s fetish for expensive leather.

Erik hadn’t gotten back from Sunstone when she went down to shoot, so she had put on a blue tank top that was moderately practical and supportive, along with khaki shorts and her hiking boots. Even though it was close to evening, the day had still seemed too warm for blue jeans. She had been amused, however, that the shorts Erik had gotten for her had less than an inch of inseam. At least they were reasonably comfortable, although, without any underwear, the crotch seam did have a tendency to pull upwards between her labia. She had needed to pull it back out a couple of times. As she walked, she reminded herself that this problem with the shorts could be awkward if she ever wore them out of the house. She definitely didn’t want to wear them around Mike. She was reasonably sure, on the other hand, that Erik would find them very appropriate.

Coming up the slope to the patio, she was startled to see Erik sitting on a chaise lounge, wearing jeans and a t-shirt, with a laptop and a drink. She called out, “Hey, I didn’t know you’d gotten back.”

He looked up, “Yeah, I…” Then he burst out laughing.

She stopped, hands on her hips. “And what’s so goddamn funny?”

He tried to stifle his laughter, squelching it into something that was almost giggles. Finally, he choked out, “Lara Croft, indeed. Oh my God, I’m sorry for laughing, but I so needed a good laugh today. Please, come over. Sit down; tell me how your day went.”

She snorted, looking down at herself. “So, having succeeded in turning me into your sick little fantasy of a tomb raider chick, all you do is laugh?”

“Please, it was perfectly clear to me that you didn’t mean to dress up like Lara Croft. I know how much you despise the archetype. But, seeing you in the whole outfit, gun and all, looking so casual… and so beautiful… and so fucking competent – it was truly, mind-blowingly, wonderful.”

She walked over to sit down next to him and leaned over to kiss him. When she sat back up, she looked down at herself in amusement. She said, somewhat sardonically, “You’re welcome.” Then, shifting to a more sympathetic tone, she asked, “Rough day?”

He looked at his drink, swirling the ice cubes in his glass. “This is the second one of these, so yeah, it truly sucked. I can’t believe what an asshole John was. He didn’t do anything to keep the company going. Between helping Helen with the Chin Ho deal and taking afternoons off to perfect his golf game, he wasn’t doing diddly-squat about managing the real business of Sunstone.”

“But I thought things have been getting better, haven’t they?”

“Yes, that’s the thing. Our bank covenants are hugely restrictive, so trying to grow the business within the available cash flow is incredibly tough. It’s like threading a needle, a moving bouncing needle. I can’t go any later on our payables to suppliers, or else they’ll hold up delivery. Our raw material inventory is so tight that within a week or two, production would have to shut down. And we can’t miss payroll. Morale is already at the edge of a cliff. So I spent the day negotiating discounts with some of our distributors to move payments forward.”

He took a long sip, then grimaced a tight smile. “I think I’ve got enough cobbled together to get past this quarter. I should get the final word from two of them tomorrow.”

Melissa smiled at him reassuringly. “I’m not sure I got all that, but it sounds like you’re fixing stuff.”

“Yeah… so when a business is growing, it needs to buy more raw supplies, hire more people, maybe pay some overtime – in general, costs go up. But the revenue side always lags behind. Most of Sunstone’s sales are through distributors. They’re supposed to pay within thirty days after selling our products, but in practice, they measure sales monthly, then pay thirty to sixty days after that, so they don’t pay for forty-five to seventy-five days, on average. Added to that, they want to keep a thirty-day inventory on-hand, so we’re actually getting paid seventy-five to a hundred and five days after we ship product out the door. That means there’s a three month lag between when our costs go up and when we get to see our revenue go up. Right now, we could run out of cash because we’re growing too quickly.”

Erik’s face turned angry, “The thing is, I was talking to John every week about it. I was really worried about managing the cash flow. He kept on telling me he was on top of it, but he was lying his ass off. He didn’t care if he was running the company into the ground because he was going to get his million dollars and walk away.”

Melissa was dumbfounded. “How can people behave like that? It’s… it’s… wrong!”

“Well, he thought he was going to get away with it. But of course, now he’s fucked. Completely fucked. Hey, I was going to give him a pass, in return for giving me his passwords and leaving without a stink, but after what I found out today, no way. I’m going to put out the word about what he did. He’s going to have a hell of a lot harder time finding his next job.”

“But, he’s evil. He should go to jail or something like that.”

Erik gave her a long, assessing look. “You know, you’re sort of scary, all pissed off like that, in your Lara Croft outfit, with a real pistol in your holster.”

She snorted derisively.

He took another sip, smaller this time. “John’s more lazy and selfish than evil, although, in this situation, it pretty much amounts to the same thing. He must have figured, ‘why go to the effort,’ since he was certain the company was going to get flushed down the drain anyway.”

Erik contemplated his nearly empty glass, then asked, “Want to drive me to dinner? I’m starving. I sort of missed lunch, and these two drinks have gone straight to my head.”

“I’m sorry. I would have made something for you, but I didn’t know when you’d be home.”

“Sorry, I was on the phone most of the drive home. And I was in a really pissy mood. I didn’t want to be an ass to you on the phone.”

“Well, let me get changed. Then we can head out.”

“You’re pretty cute like that.”

“Yeah… no fucking way. I’m wearing a gun, for Christ’s sake. Besides, I’ve got to clean and oil the pistol real quick before we go out. Mike would yell at me if I left it dirty.”

“Okay. Can’t argue with Mike. He’d wump my ass; that’s for sure.”

“Ah, how should I dress? Where are we going?”

“Someplace where I don’t have to change first.”

“Got it. I’ll be back in five.”

“I’ll be here, watching the sun set.”

Melissa hurried into the house, a little worried about Erik. He seemed more morose and vulnerable than she had ever seen him before. The alcohol had also affected him more than she had seen before either. Even though he was far from drunk, he had never allowed himself to get even a little tipsy around her. He’d sometimes have a glass of wine or some beer, but rarely any hard alcohol.

Once she got to her closet, she quickly pulled her pistol out of her hostler and disassembled it on a counter top, just like Mike had shown her. Opening up the cleaning kit she had left on the counter top, she swabbed the barrel out with an oiled wire brush, then a cleaning pad. She reassembled the weapon, wiping it down with a slightly oily rag as she went.

Finished, she ran into the bathroom to wash the oil off her hands. Looking at her reflection in the mirror, she laughed at how much she did look like Lara Croft, except that her hair was strawberry blond instead of dark.

She wiped her hands dry and hurried back to her closet, trying to figure out what would be casual, but sexy and fun. Of course, almost everything in her closet was insanely sexy. Getting the right balance of casual was the hard part.

On a whim, she grabbed a pair of black silk chiffon harem pants. Pulling open a drawer, she found a white silk chiffon sleeveless top with deep-cut arm holes that looked like it would match. The white top’s chiffon fabric looked far more transparent than the pants, so she also grabbed a tan linen bolero jacket to wear over it. The white chiffon top was cropped at the waist, so she was reasonably sure it wouldn’t hang below the jacket.

Finally, she snatched up one of the most comfortable pairs of the many ultra-high heeled black sandals in her closet.

Stripping out of her Lara Croft outfit, she felt sweaty and grimy. Not wanting to make Erik wait, however, she skipped showering and threw on the clothes she had picked out. She stepped in front of the mirror to double-check that the white top was indeed short enough to be covered by the jacket. Seeing herself, she grimaced a little as she realized the pants were more transparent than she had thought. Shrugging her shoulders, she decided the restaurant would likely be dark. As she walked out the door with a smirk, she reminded herself not to stand where she would be backlit.

Going back into the main part of the house, she saw Erik waiting for her. He gave her a smile, “Wow, you clean up nice.”

“Thanks.” She walked over to him and gave him a quick kiss. “I thought you were going to wait outside. I didn’t take too long, did I?”

“No, I’m just hungry. I had to grab a pair of shoes anyway.” He stepped back, looking at her with a smile, shaking his head. “You are just amazingly sexy.” He laughed, then complained, “I’m getting hard already.”

She laughed along with him. “Need a quick blow job?”

“Argh! I’m starving, and you tempt me thus, you cruel, heartless fiend.”

“Fuck my throat. I’ve been practicing some more with that soft dildo – I want to show off. Besides, that way you won’t have to be all horny on the drive to dinner.”

He looked at her dubiously.

She whined, “I haven’t had you inside me all day long. Please, Master…”

His eyes rolled upwards toward the ceiling in mock exasperation. Taking that as a ‘yes,’ she quickly knelt down and undid his pants. Surreptitiously, while she worked to free his penis from his pants, she pressed her tongue repeatedly against the roof of her mouth, activating her saliva glands to fill her mouth. As soon as his erect penis sprang free from his pants, she plunged her head forward, shoving his penis all the way into the back of her mouth, then down into her throat, in one desperate motion. Pressing still harder, she slid him even deeper, until her lips were wrapped around the base of his penis.

Her practice with the dildo was indeed paying off – it was far easier to suppress her gag reflex than it ever had been before. After a moment, she pulled back, sucking hard against his retreating penis, until she could flick her tongue across its velvety head, before thrusting forward once again, shoving him back into her throat.

He groaned loudly as she picked up the pace of ramming him in and out. Surprisingly quickly, he grabbed the back of her head, while he was deep inside her, holding her in place, with her lips pressed firmly against his torso. With a roar, he shot his semen down her throat in spurt after spurt.

Finally, he collapsed backward, sliding out of her mouth. He stumbled back a step or two before regaining his balance.

She looked up at him, with a demure smile. “Ready to go now?”