(This is the final installment in a serial story.
To read “Magic” from the beginning, click here.)
When the group of women arrived at Sarah’s door, it was locked, as she had left it. But while Sarah fumbled for her key, Lupa reached out and turned the knob as easily as if it had been left open. They stepped inside.
“Oh, this is beautiful,” someone said. And it was. The fire was blazing and the room was warm. There were dozens of white pillar candles on the mantle, on the coffee table, on the kitchen table, and even on the kitchen counter. The room flickered in their light.
“Can I offer you something?” Sarah asked, suddenly, painfully aware that she didn’t have much on hand.
“It’s okay, Sarah. I bought another bottle of my bubbly, and even some glasses.” And with that, Lupa began to take myriad things out of her rather average-sized market basket: flutes, a giant bottle of her elixir, a linen cloth, linen napkins and corked bottles of a shimmering powder and a dark oil.
“First,” Lupa said, glancing at the kitchen clock, which showed it was nearly midnight, “formal introductions are in order. Sarah, this is Jacinda (the red-headed woman smiled), Myke (the piratey woman nodded), and Artemis, who sometimes talks to much.” The silver-haired woman grinned. “Let’s go to the fireplace and make sure Sarah’s year is a good one.
Organizing them into a semi-circle in front of the fire, Lupa passed in front of each and dabbed a bit of oil on their foreheads. It smelled heady and rich, like sandalwood, cocoa, and wine. Then, in a low voice, she said some words in a language Sarah didn’t understand. Artemis joined her and together their voices chanted softly with a cadence. They were finished almost as quickly as they had started. Lupa uncorked the bottle with the shimmering powder and poured a little into her palm. She blew the powder into the flames, which blazed up in all the colors of the rainbow and then died back down.
Then turning to Artemis, Lupa gently placed her hands on either side of the woman’s face and kissed her long and deep. Sarah fought the urge to look away. But then Myke kissed Jacinda. And Jacinda kissed Artemis, and Artemis kissed Myke. Jacinda’s lips brushed across Sarah’s gently and sweetly, and Artemis kissed her with a firm press. Myke and Lupa were kissing and when they broke apart, Myke turned to Sarah and kissed her deeply. Sarah felt her mouth open and the tip of Myke’s tongue brush across her teeth. She started to swoon.
“Easy girl,” Lupa steadied her. Sarah turned to face her.
“What is this Lupa?” she asked woozily. “Am I selling my soul to the devil?”
“Oh, no, honey. I’m helping you make your soul entirely your own. Remember – I’ve got you,” Lupa said, still holding her arm. And with that, she leaned into Sarah and kissed her with an enveloping that seemed to consume Sarah as it poured into her from the wellspring of Lupa’s lips. Immediately, Sarah felt she was back on steady ground.
“Well, that’s it for me,” Artemis said. “I need my beauty sleep. Thank you, Sarah, for the use of your lovely home and best wishes in the coming year. I’m sure our paths will cross again.” With that, she winked at Lupa and left, the door clicking quietly behind her.
“Let’s have a toast,” Lupa said, “to the first best year of Sarah’s life.” And she produced the flutes, already filled with elixir. They raised their glasses and took a sip. Sarah could feel the sparkle of the drink reach deep into her, including some places she hadn’t expected it. Her nipples hardened, and embarrassed, she immediately crossed an arm in front of her chest.
“It’s okay, baby. It does that to all of us,” Myke said, taking Sarah’s hand and running it across her own nipples, stiff and braless under her starched white shirt. Sarah smiled. It suddenly seemed like the most natural thing, to be rubbing Myke’s nipples.
Lupa took her basket to the coffee table and sat on the couch, tucking her feet beneath her. “Please, sit.” She gestured to the cushions. The three women gathered cushions by the fire.
“Here,” Jacinda said, and pulled Sarah back to lean on her. She smelled very lightly like honeysuckle and her red hair fell over Sarah’s shoulders. “You must be tired from moving. Myke, massage her legs.” And with that, Myke began to massage Sarah’s calves. “These are beautiful pants,” she said. “This velvet is so soft.”
“This silk is gorgeous, too” Jacinda said, stroking her hand down the front of Sarah’s blouse.
Suddenly, Sarah realized this was a seduction and her heart began to pound. She looked to Lupa, sitting on the couch, watching the three of them. Lupa smiled at her gently. “Just turn your head off, Sarah. Enjoy yourself and lose yourself in the night and the fire. You’re perfectly safe here.” Sarah nodded. “And if it’s okay with you,” Lupa said, “I’ll just keep watching. I like to watch.”
Sarah was vaguely aware of Lupa reaching into her basket and pulling out art supplies, which she was arranging on the coffee table. Myke’s firm hands continued to massage her calves and were moving upward toward her thighs. She moaned a little and closed her eyes, feeling Jacinda begin to unwork the delicate jade buttons of her blouse, letting it fall open.
“Oh, this bra is gorgeous,” Jacinda breathed. “Just perfect on you.” Her hands began to dance across Sarah’s nipples, clearly visible through the gossamer fabric. Myke slid the velvet trousers down, and without volition, Sarah lifted her hips so she could slide them away. Myke drew in her breath
Sarah looked past Jacinda’s hands at her breasts, down down to her legs, encased in the pale, crocheted stockings and delicate black boots. She looked Victorian and sensual and ridiculously decadent – like a delicately wrapped, perfect gift.
“That’s what you are,” she heard Lupa say softly. “A perfect gift. It’s your birthday and you’re the gift you’re giving yourself.” With that, she pulled a large pad of paper out of her basket and uncorked a bottle of ink, dipping a quill pen.
Myke began to kiss Sarah as Jacinda held her, the sound of their breaths punctuated by the scratching of Lupa’s ink pen. The fire continued to crackle and it crackled throughout the night as Sarah simultaneously learned to share and claim her soul. No one needed to stop and stoke the enchanted fire, and when it finally died out, Sarah could not say.
She awoke the next morning in her bed. The cat was curled next to her, tucked into her side, purring contentedly. She could tell by the angle of the sun streaming in her window that it was late, but she wasn’t sure how late. Nor was she sure when she had gone to bed, or even if she had gone to bed before sunrise. A flood of sweetly erotic images washed over her, and as her hands explored her nude body under the sheets, parts tender and damp, she realized the night had been both truth and magic.
Cradling the cat, she sat up in bed, and leaned back against her headboard. On the wall opposite the foot of her bed was the white dresser that exactly matched the carved moldings in her apartment. On top of it was a bowl of peonies in full bloom. But most amazingly, above the dresser hung a large framed piece of art. Rendered in ink and watercolor, it was a voluptuous tangle of bodies. Climbing out of bed, Sarah walked closer. There was a tumble of red hair, the glint of gold loop earrings and the curve of biceps. There were nipples, and hands, and the delicate trace of her lace stockings. The subjects of the painting were oblivious to the artist, engaged in acts so intimate that Sarah blushed looking at it. And yet, she recognized herself in the center of it, a pale wash hinting at the firelight playing across her skin and hair, her head thrown back in ecstasy.
The corner of the painting had been signed:
“To Sarah with love. Happy Birthday – Lupa.”
************* The End *************