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The Mephisto Waltzes

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Tonight, the Devil reveled in her liberation. Akin to a shadow, dark victory swept over her. In the foyer, she stepped out of her polished heels that now slumbered on the red carpet. Bare feet sank onto the killing floor. With the ghost of her coat neatly draped over the rack, a great predator eased into a state of relaxation. Her flat was empty, her home barren.

Smith didn’t greet her at the back door. So, Ferguson walked, blameless and scot-free. After all, she knew the legislative loopholes; she wrote the bloody book.

Routine assumed its natural course. Scheming could wait; rest was pragmatic. Joan Ferguson began her lonely sermon. Silence filled the vast emptiness quite like an internal soliloquy contained within an empty room. There was no music. As an inky shroud, her hair fell down: loose and flowing and free.

Her metal thinking carried her through monotonous actions. In the dining room, she sat at the end of the table, its varnished wood gleaming mischievously. The chill of the glass against her hand grounded her. Joan’s lungs swelled and screamed as she downed the vodka, the ice clinking in meek protest.

As soon as the bell buzzed, her routine halted. A knock at the wolf’s door alerted her of a potential intruder. Outside, a heretic stood.


Caught off-guard, dark eyes widened. Glossy lips parted, opened, and then closed. With her hand on the door frame, her body stiffened, her posture prickly. Temporarily usurped by her apostle, there had been a failure in taming such a shrewish deputy.

She no longer sported the borrowed handkerchief. Injuries faded, healed, but the mind remembered abject trauma. Joan would never fulfill the portrait of a woman unhinged in the Kangaroo Court. Composed of thorns and sharp edges, her cruelty was bent on self-preservation.

Déjà vu. That’s what Vera felt then standing before her. Not too long ago she was here under different circumstances, and the reminder of that night stung. The awkward invitation to dinner. Actually, it was more so a command. As the ever loyal deputy she was, she went without much protest.

She was back now. She couldn’t help but feel a need to save her own ass out of fear that Joan would completely demote her, or worse. She’d worked so hard to be where she was, and it was all going to come crashing down.

All because of that one night that Joan claimed “never happened.” 

So now, she stood in front of her former mentor, seeing the shocked facial expression, quickly recovered by the hardening of her eyes. Was it too late to turn back now? This could easily be forgotten too.

Or would it? 

She found her courage, swallowed her pride and stood as tall her tiny frame would allow (even without the shiny gold crowns).

“Hello, Joan. I know this is last minute, but can we talk?”

Once upon a time, Joan trusted Vera. In a last ditch effort, she invited the little mouse into her den. After taking a moment to recollect herself, she straightened, stiffened, damn near bristled at the visible offense on her stoop. She wore her mask and she wore it well.

So you’ve come crawling back to me.

A sensuous invitation settled on her lips in the guise of a smile.

“Won’t you come inside?”

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She stepped aside, granting her betrayer access to the dimly lit foyer since Joan intended to lock the door behind her.

“Vodka to steel your nerves?”

Every question sang the tune of a command, a demand, an instruction to be obeyed.

Even in her own home, Joan Ferguson still maintained a domineering presence. Of course, she wasn’t in her uniform, but she was very much the Governor here. 

Following her inside to her surprisingly friendly invitation, Vera couldn’t help but be drawn in like a moth to the flame. Every time she came across her, she burned her wings.

It was such a pleasurable agony.

Joan’s home was dimly lit, and if she wasn’t mistaken she heard the turn of the lock from the door. She was in the lion’s den now. Not quite a prisoner, but not exactly free either.

I was stupid to think I’d ever be free of her.

Everything was once again in the same place it was the last time she was here, almost as if they were repeating that night. Even her clothing and hair were similar to what she wore that night. Vera swore she didn’t do that on purpose. Now she wondered just what was going on in her mind at the time before she left.

She slowly looked around the room before her eyes settled on Joan’s, taking a deep breath at her polite question. Let’s be real here, it was more so a command in the form of a question. 

Once again she was that pathetic mouse of a woman that Joan called her, and she bowed her head meekly. Gently, she touched her cheek in memory of the slap from that day, quickly moving her hand down when she realized what she was doing.

“Vodka would be nice, thank you.”

The phantom of the prison knew her home like the back of her hand. In a casual stride, long legs carried her towards the kitchen. A cock of her head flicked aside the iron curtain, still a prominent jet-black hue with a blue undertone. Loose and flowing in her garment of choice, Joan resembled a river at night.

She retrieved two shot glasses alongside the bottle of vodka from the freezer. Deposited the unholy offering on the counter. Condensation dripped and the cold nearly scalded her closed palm. Liquor filled each glass to the brim. This marked the point of no return.

“Come back for more, have we?”

A clever taunt quirked one corner of her mouth. With a crook of her finger, she beckoned for Vera to approach this burning fire. Her backside pressed against the counter’s ledge.

The Panopticon sensed Miss Bennett’s discomfort. The tension was palpable, a fine taste on the tip of her tongue. It made her smile while she studied and assessed her former pupil, her prey, her something and nothing.

Joan held up her glass in an unspoken toast, her sharp brow quirked.

Vera hesitated, noticing Joan beckon her closer. She wondered if perhaps Joan was the type to poison her enemies. More likely though if Joan were to have done something to her drink, she’d probably drug Vera.

She always did have a flair for the dramatic. Even this very thought sounded silly to her. Joan would very much rather play with her prey instead of killing it. Even her smile now, was similar to the Cheshire Cat. 

It always took Vera longer to see through her. Joan’s actions were subtle, calculating. She could be allowing herself to be drawn into the spider’s web.

You’re already there.

Hearing Joan’s slight taunt, she knew she was correct. She’d always come back for more, and that’s what she was most afraid of.

She slowly reached for the glass of vodka, also raising it in the form of a toast. Swallowing, it didn’t take her long to feel the effects of the vodka. She was petite, and didn’t drink very often. It reminded her of how long it took her to become a little drunk during their very first debriefing.

Joan’s features appeared sharp, but there was also a softness to them. Vera pressed her hip against the counter, leaning in a little closer to Joan.

She could smell whatever perfume the older woman wore, and she tried to ignore how it made her feel.

Liquid courage encouraged her to say what was at the forefront of her mind. 

“Do you miss the way we were before?”

Acquitted for her crimes, she stood as poised as a marble statue. Joan’s no Clytemnestra though she exuded all the grace of mad, cunning queens even though Ferguson didn’t exude the black widow dynamic so perfect for Sonia Stevens. She likened herself to more of a Medb-type, righteous and a woman of fortitude.

Do you miss the way we were before?

With a swallow, the question threatened to disarm her. She skirted around the dilemma and focused on the wedge between them, all the damage done that caused her to keep on inflicting harm.

“I miss my reputation, my title, the power that came with it.”

I do, I do miss it.

Long, thin fingers dexterously caressed the counter’s ledge. Her knuckles bleached bone-white, the strain in her grip naught but a slight tremor. She smelled of a mix between the masculine and feminine, fusing cologne with a hint of orchids. Her thick, black hair, threaded with grey, obscured a portion of her face, akin to a phantasmal mask.

“Does that courage come from the pit of your belly or the vodka?”

Leaning towards Vera, Joan hummed before flashing a cruel smile, still insincerely hers.

There was always something about Joan’s smile. Rarely given when she was sincere. When animals bare their teeth, it’s to show aggression, and usually so when they feel threatened. Vera wasn’t sure if Joan was any different. 

Vera raised herself to her full height, moving her face closer to Joan’s. She couldn’t see her eyes very well since it was well hidden under the dark and silver mane. 

“Maybe it’s a little of both.” 

She pulled back, taking another sip of her vodka. Her own hair falling in front of her eyes. She looked up from beneath her lashes.

“You didn’t exactly answer my question. Maybe you aren’t ready to talk about where we left off.”

She stared down at her glass, feeling oddly forlorn. “I shouldn’t be surprised how you skirted around the issue. I really don’t know why I’m here, but I was hoping that we could somehow… reconnect.”

Taking another drink, she looked at Joan again as she felt even more of a warm buzz.

She moved closer. Her eyes slowly traveling up her long frame. “Do you still want me?” She paused, realizing what she said. “Me as your Deputy?” She stammered. 

Miss Bennett backed her into a proverbial corner. While Joan appreciated a little tête-à-tête, she didn’t care for the insinuation — the invitation to return to that night of painful rejection. It never happened.

But they both know that it did.

Her mouth quirked at the bold defiance. The whinging pain that accompanied the realization wasn’t enough to deter Joan’s steadfast manipulation. She played the game, not only for the long-term, but to win. With her jaw jutting forward, she shook her hair from her face, the motion smooth and graceful. Slightly canting her head, she observed how Vera must have felt emboldened by her words, the vodka goading her just as it did during their first, fated debrief.

“I admit that there were… certain advantages in your subservient role as my depuTy,” Joan said, her tongue slithered along the roof of her mouth.

Vera made it too easy.

She laughed at the rebuttal, obsidian stare glittering with mirth. In this bout, she closed the distance, her voice dropping to a low, goading whisper.

“I still have control over you. You chose to come crawling back to me. Admit it; you prefer being under me. Can you handle the pressure?”

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Flowing from her lips, it all sounded so obscene.

“You belong to me,” cooed into the shell of the mouse’s cherry red ear.

She gripped her by the upper thigh, feeling how defined, toned Vera’s body was despite the loose constraints of clothing. Pinned and mounted to the kitchen counter, pressed against Joan’s curvaceous, sturdy form, she issued the promise of a threat.

She closed her eyes at the breathy voice in her ear. A warm hand gripped her thigh, and she tried not to gasp at the sudden touch. Her heart beat faster as Joan pressed closer against her. Vera’s body trembled in a mixture of fear and desire, and she couldn’t help but angle her body a little closer to hers.

“I didn’t come crawling back to you. I chose to come here so we could maybe come to a better understanding.”

“And I d-don’t belong to anyone,” she stammered as she lowered her hand to Joan’s.

Instead of taking it off her thigh, she gently covered her hand, unsure of where exactly she wanted it to go. She looked into her glittering dark eyes, and despite how much she wanted Joan to take control of her now, she couldn’t help but remember the hurts of the past.

“I tried my best to handle the pressure before, but you decided I was a disappointment. You got rid of me, remember?” She dug her nails into Joan’s hand. Her lips were so close to Joan’s that she could feel the older woman’s soft breath.

“Tell me what those… advantages were when I was your deputy, and maybe I’ll admit it,” she whispered.

She felt bold in that moment, but also a little afraid. She’d been down this path before, and she was afraid by how much she needed it… needed her.

An impious, tempestuous snort reverberated which caused Joan’s entire body to tense. She nearly scoffed at Vera’s appeal to reason. Vera carried all the doubt of a false believer.

Vera faltered and it made Joan relish the game all the more. The sharp, cruel part of Ferguson yearned to see Vera humiliated for her transgressions. Her unwavering, black-eyed stare administered a challenge. Her former disciple’s hand clutched hers, as if torn asunder by her own crippling inability to choose. Nails pricked her pale flesh and at the annoyance, her nostrils flared. A corner of her mouth twitched.

“You’re precisely where you belong, Vera.”

Silently, Joan admired how Vera’s hair fell into her face.

“Have another drink, Vera. It won’t be the end of your… career.”

As a master of deflection, Joan goaded with vice aplenty. They avoided wine and stuck to liquor. There was no denying temptation. As a fever, Joan worked her way inside. Would another shot curb the rabbit’s dwindling nerves?

“I did not rid myself of you. You’re here with me, are you not?”

Vera stayed, she always fucking stayed. The old Governor played her by the heart strings. Insatiable and terribly cruel, Joan could swallow her whole. Bit by bloody bit, she chipped away at Vera’s petty insecurities: You’re weak, you’re expendable, you’ve the blood of a coward. Joan thought, but dared not speak just yet.

Her thumb spidered along the column of her former deputy’s throat, until she lightly gripped the woman by her jawline. She paused to intake a deep breath, her forehead nudging the smaller woman’s.

“Wouldn’t you rather feast on my praise?” She inquired, removing her lipstick with a steady swipe of her tongue.

She wanted more.

Made from her rib, the kill trembled beneath her. Refusing to have their lips meet, she teased by canting her head, allowing a caress of her breath. Their bodies twisted together in the way serpents coil, testing and besting each other. A single night could never remedy all the hurt.

Mephistopheles in the glaring kitchen light became intent on turning herself into a living myth. She reigned claim over her home, laid claim and glory to every room here within.

Vera felt the warmth of Joan, in the touch of her hands on her jaw, so close to her throat. Would she squeeze it? Joan wanted control, to conquer, which combined with an almost insatiable need to inflict pain.

Joan’s breath ghosted over hers, and she watched as she licked her lips. It was erotic the way her tongue slithered out. The predator gearing up before it would pounce on its prey.

It felt like Joan was slowly coiling her body around hers, and she couldn’t help but to allow it. Yes, she would rather feast on her praise. She hated that she still wanted that, but couldn’t help what came naturally. The need to please, the need to be acknowledged. The need for someone like Joan to notice her.

Strong and powerful women…

Vera turned her head away from her and grabbed another shot of vodka. The warmth hit her then, all the way down her throat and into the pit of her stomach. She almost coughed at the taste, not used to having this much. The vodka eased even more of her tension and anxiety, and she found herself turning towards Joan and offering her another drink.

“Will you join me in another?” She knew she would be heading into dangerous territory with another shot, but right now she didn’t care. She licked her lips in a similar way, staring up at her. 

“I’m right where I belong… here with you,” she said quietly, her voice catching at the end.

In times like these, the venerable Joan Ferguson ought to be commemorated for her self-restraint. She could have displayed her strangelove with a stronger hold, a firmer grip, yet something prevented her from doing so. Although her forearm quivered faintly, her thumb continued to rove down the slope of Vera’s jaw, her nail venturing along the younger woman’s throat before twisting her wrist away.

Always, Vera proved to be her foil.

The initiative from her former disciple testified to Vera’s personal growth. Perhaps swayed by Joan’s influence, Vera reached for the bottle. A flicker of amusement ignited her obsidian stare, offering a warmth often hidden, often repressed.

“Is that so, Vera? You’ve come here to talk, to defend your court, and now you reminisce. You yearn like a maiden from a fairytale with a happy ending.”

As a child, Joan knew those stories to be false. Her father, ever the impervious commander, taught her how to be a well-tuned machine.

Joan accepted that offering despite the rift between them, a festering wound that had never been tended to. Their misunderstandings left behind a tangled web.

Maintaining composure, Joan quirked a brow though her mask gave away not a single thought. Even now, Vera mirrored her antics, the swipe of her tongue to wet her swollen mouth in a lethal invitation. 

“Serve me,” she quipped in expectation, the steady thrum of her heart a reminder that she was alive and not some automaton operating on military precision.

Vera raised her brow at the command. “Yes, Gov-” she stopped herself on that slip, clearing her throat. “Of course… Joan.”

Her face was beet red now and she looked down in embarrassment. As she picked up the bottle of vodka, she was reminded of their first debriefing. She smirked while she poured a little more vodka into her shot glass.

“Do you remember some of the debriefings we had after work? I don’t exactly yearn like a maiden in a fairytale anymore, but I do sometimes miss those old times.” She sighed and handed the glass to Joan, letting her fingertips gently brush across hers.

Vera wanted to stop herself but realized she enjoyed the physical contact, no matter how fleeting it was – the soft caresses of their fingertips, and she missed the warm feeling of Joan’s hand on her throat. She raised her hand to her neck, remembering how it felt and gently trailed her finger down her chest before letting her hand fall to her side. 

“Did I serve you well?” She looked into her eyes and felt a warmth. Her face felt hot as she blushed more, and she wasn’t sure if it was all from the vodka. Her nipples hardened in anticipation, and it was both frightening and exhilarating at the same time.

The slip wasn’t unnoticed. A ghost of a smirk caressed her thin lips which pursed together.

“Mm. You should call me Governor again. It’s only a matter of time until the board reinstates me.”

For emphasis, she tapped Vera’s shoulder, right where the crowns would be. 

Shockingly, Joan did not recoil from the touch. She felt a pull in her muscles, an indescribable yearning that her father would berate her for. Her cheek spasmed, her nostrils flared. Head tilted, her fingers comb through the iron curtain. Their glasses clinked in a wordless toast. She threw the shot back rather than sipping it as she was wont to do while alone.

“I do recall. Tell me, what did you dream of in that vast, empty bed of yours after our... sessions? Did you think of me?”

That swollen ego begged to be stroked. She inched closer, her presence damn near suffocating. She observed Vera touch herself in a startling sensuality. Her breath died within her chest, rattling there. 

“Once,” she confirmed, refusing to feed her former Deputy any additional affirmations. 

From side to side, she rolled her head. Cracked the joints. She leaned in, leaned down. Her body burned and burned; it wasn’t just the vodka, but the steady thrum of arousal building within. She invaded Vera’s personal space with a sinister whisper, her lips coasting along a cherry red ear.

“Can you take more?” Joan rasped, her voice thick from her own sick longing, her breath hot and wet.

Vera shivered at the hot lips over her ear. She could feel the closeness of Joan’s body, her hips and breasts. She turned her head and her lips barely brushed her cheek. 

“I thought of many things,” she whispered. “How often I was ready for you, and that you ached for me. I always gave myself to you.”

Her lips were now close to the corner of Joan’s mouth. “I think about you every night, and how frustrated it makes me.”

“Do you feel frustrated too? I can always take more, Governor,” she said, allowing her lips to brush her neck.

What a voracious, little sprite.

Her hand snaked into Vera’s hair. How strange to see it down, devoid of the French twist or militant bun she soon adopted as a result of Joan’s manipulations.

In a tale of mutual obsession, she omitted some semblance of truth.

“My, someone’s thirsty.”

Supposedly, seemingly, she recovered and uttered such a cool inflection. 

“Do you require another taste?”

Refusing the sanctity of a kiss, she hovered too close, their lips separated by a mere breath. She taunted with her thigh wedged between coltish legs, the burn of vodka searing her tongue alongside such a brazen display of insubordination. 

Vera shivered as she felt Joan’s thigh press warmly between her legs. She is thirsty, desperate for feeling more.

She moved firmly against her thigh, and let Joan tilt her head back, feeling the gentle pull on her hair.

Her lips were so close now, and she took in her warm breath. The fire in her belly grew stronger along with the tingling throughout her body. The vodka just helped to enhance these secret desires.

She ached, her lips just barely skimming Joan’s full mouth. She wanted to kiss her, to touch her. She never wanted anything more badly.

Her breathing was heavier, and she lifted her hand. Her fingers touched Joan’s lower lip, and she’s surprised at how soft it feels in comparison to her sharp tongue. 

“Yes, I need more,” she whispered, finally pulling her down for a kiss. 

Joan grappled between keeping her turbulent emotions under lock and key and succumbing to more primal urges. The ghostly friction of lips against her own allowed her to experience a jolt of electricity. From sadistic denial, she grinned.

Her tongue darted out to taste the salt and sweat from Vera’s proffered finger. Joan considered nipping at her flesh, as a rose with thorns was wont to nick. Her heart burned. She wanted blood, she wanted more, but denial was a powerful thing.

“I win,” she declared, although her voice assumed a rather gravelly inflection.

She swiveled her tongue around before taking the digit into her mouth, her cheeks hollowed, never breaking heated eye contact.

Until, at last, the mischievous, the infernal spirit broke free. 

“I could take another drink, Vera. Do indulge me with your hand.”

Vera’s mouth dropped open slightly, mesmerized at Joan sucking her finger. 

There was an unmistakable wetness between her thighs and she blushed at what this little game was doing to her. 

“You like to win, don’t you?” She asked quietly. She let her fingertips trace her strong jaw, moving her hand to play with the ends of Joan’s hair. 

She lowered her hands slowly unbuttoning her blouse to reveal her breasts. Her nipples strained against her bra, and she tried not to blush at the obvious display of her arousal. She stepped back and leaned against the counter, shrugging off her blouse to leave her only in her bra. Drinking always did make her a little more sexually daring. 

“Stop playing games,” she said, and crooked her finger towards Joan. 

The residue of gloss accentuated her thin yet shapely mouth which pursed in a mild bout of bewilderment. Her stern mask, however, took hold. In silence, she observed every move, every gesture, and analyzed every little tic. With the gentleness of an angel, Vera touched her. She stroked her mane, caressed her lips with the promise of hers, and allowed for the teasing trace of fingertips along her firm jawline. 

And then that seductress dared to undress herself, to shed off her second skin in order to reveal her blouse, her heaving chest, her honeyed skin that was begging to be taken. A sordid stare vowed to eat dear Vera alive.

Uncharacteristic to Joan’s cool, collected demeanor, her throat tightened. She played her hand and with the royal flush revealed, Vera appeared to care little for the ongoing game. That liquid haze cast a veil over them both, merciless in the outcome that Joan should have undeniably predicted.

“I never lose,” she confessed after a particularly deep exhale. Her eyes traced her former disciple’s décolletage before rising to meet a tumultuous storm.

For once in her life, Joan faltered. Her deterrence paid tribute to the uncertain woman, the wishful girl, she used to be. 

With the true Governor rendered speechless, the beast inside threatened to come alive and so, self-restraint subsided. Sealing the distance, she engaged in a rather ferocious kiss. Blunt, manicured nails dragged along Vera’s ribcage, intent on leaving a mark. Her lips became swollen from the constant assault of kissing and lingering pecks. Unable to contain herself, Joan pinned Vera against the counter and hitched her thigh higher to deliver a little more friction.

Her tongue slid along Vera’s bottom lip before demanding eager entry, hungry and wanton. A firm hand rested along the curve of the smaller woman’s back. She felt the delicate weight of her spine and knew how easily bone was wont to break.

Vera tasted of vodka infused with sweetness and it was wholly divine. 

“Give yourself to me,” Joan crooned, her words accompanying a sensual nibble. 

Vera let out a sharp inhale, almost startled by Joan’s sudden change in mood. Her body tingled under Joan’s passionate kisses. Goosebumps erupted on her skin as she felt her fingernails along her ribs. 

The sharp edge of the counter gave her a dull ache, but she enjoyed it with the contrast of Joan’s soft and warm body. Cupping her face, she kissed her back just as passionately. 

Joan’s hand pressed warmly against her back, leading her in a waltz of awakened desire. She took charge just like she always did, making Vera clutch her closer as she wrapped her thigh around her hip.

Joan teased her, making Vera bite her lip gently in return. She wrapped her arms tightly around her, suddenly feeling a need to be consumed by the taller woman. She ached with an undeniable need, placing a kiss against the hollow of her throat.

“You have me,” she whispered hotly against her skin, moving up to kiss her again.

From the far recesses of her twisted mind, Ivan Ferguson berated her for this moment of weakness. His snide remarks dug under her skin, nearly made her wince as she lost herself – succumbed to the animal within – to this licentious kiss. She used her teeth, lips, and tongue to prolong their mutual pleasure, pinning her disciple to the counter like a butterfly on a mount. The inner sadist hoped that Vera would bruise. She would relish in the purple haze left behind.

That slight palm cradling her cheek nearly made Joan sigh, but she caught herself. She had cut out the softer, kinder parts of herself years ago; her foolish yearning died alongside Jianna. At least, that was her attempt at rationalization.

Full, shapely hips rocked forward, as if she were a ship sailing to port, and Vera just so happened to fit in place.

The caress of lips gracing the hollow of her throat compelled Joan to grip the ledge of her counter on both sides, trapping Vera between her titanic grip. The iron curtain cascaded and consumed them both, her hair perfect yet on the verge of becoming disheveled.

“Expose yourself for me,” she commanded, hoarse and wanton, still demanding control with a penetrative stare. Strip down to flesh and bone. Make yourself a morsel for me to feast upon.

Vera welcomed the weight of Joan against her, even if she could feel the hard edge of the counter pressing into her skin. Vera breathed heavily, looking up at Joan through her dark tresses, running her fingers through it and lifting her hips in response.

She allowed Joan to take command of her then, using her body to hold her close in such a way that reminded Vera of exactly where she needed to be. Joan represented everything she loved and hated, and everything she wished she could be. She felt a sudden yearning she couldn’t explain, it was more than just desire… it was a hunger, an obsession that only she and Joan could understand. Vera’s eyes didn’t leave hers as everything blurred around them. She raised herself on her tiptoes, moaning softly as she felt her lips and tongue, the sharp edge of her teeth through her kiss. 

She squeezed Joan’s ass in response, as she pressed her even harder against the counter, and she didn’t care if she’d have bruises the next morning. She bared her throat, hoping that Joan would take the hint. She wanted her to mark her, bruising her with her kiss in a way only lovers can.

Vera shivered at her command, nodding her head in response and reached back to undo her bra, letting the straps softly fall around her shoulders. Her nipples hardened in the cool air and under the dark intense gaze of her former mentor. She felt vulnerable for a moment, blushing as she looked down for a few seconds. 

Slowly she unzipped her pants, shrugging them down until she was left in her underwear. She had never felt more exposed, not even when she was with Fletch. She swallowed and took Joan’s hand to place it over her breast. 

“Is this enough?” She asked, not yet willing to give in to being completely naked until Joan was willing to do the same. Vera lifted her hand, hesitating before she undid the buttons down Joan’s shirt. She would not be the only one exposed here.

“I want to see you,” she whispered, as she slid off Joan’s shirt.

Ivan Ferguson’s influence hung over her like a thick, heavy curtain. It was difficult to overcome that shadow of oppression and the soft memory of beloved Jianna Riley, who she had opened herself to before donning the suit of armor she adorned now.

The art and act of watching never grew stale for Joan. She felt the steady thrum of desire warm her cold body as she studied Vera in the midst of her deliberate strip tease.

While her lips with a glossy sheen parted to afford a slight exhalation of breath, her eyes raked over Vera’s form, scouring any vulnerabilities, studying the imprint of her ribcage covered by her thin skin. She acknowledged the risk in exposing herself to her mousy, sniveling underling. Coming together, she licked at the patch of exposed skin before nipping at Vera’s lithe, sinewy neck.

A deep grumble - nearly a growl trapped within her throat - asserted her approval. She imprinted a feral grin against Vera’s flesh. Her hand sat heavy on Vera’s chest. There, she felt the smaller woman’s heart, not so demure anymore. She generously cupped a pert breast before allowing for her nail to flick across a stiffened nipple. She hummed her approval in a low, throaty intonation. 

“Saving this for me?” She mused wryly, her thumb hooking into the waistband of Vera’s panties before snapping the elastic.

After a moment of deliberate stalling, Joan shed the garment from herself as though it was a second skin. She folded and laid her top over the drawn out kitchen chair. Her parted blouse revealed the gentle slope of her stomach, her pale, round breasts, and a glimpse of sensuous curves. With delicate precision, she unfastened her trousers and tugged down the zipper to reveal a glimpse of deep red satin. She arched a brow, taunting and tempting.

“Well?” Joan inquired, voice hoarse, an uncertainty embedded in her stare that was gone in a flash, replaced by her pride and ego. “Have you come to take your pound of flesh?”