I found a gold ring that transported me to a parallel world. My guide and I are being taken to the house where she grew up… the second time? (The story begins here.)
* * *
Jessica clenched her fists and started shaking. I put a hand on her shoulder to try and reassure her; she threw herself against my chest and started wailing.
She cried herself out by the time we reached Number 27. I wanted to feel protective and supportive while holding her, but mostly I felt awkward. It seemed to be enough.
Number 27 was an old colonial-style house, essentially a block with a sloped roof and small-pane windows. The outside was finished in fresh whitewash and the small lawn was, like every lawn in this town, immaculate. Jessica shuddered as we walked up the perfectly-aligned sidewalk to the perfect front step.
“It looks just like it did when I lived here.”
“Are you sure that isn’t your memory playing tricks on you?”
“No. I was held captive here for seventeen years. Trust me Boy, it has not changed. Which means it is a prison.”
One of the robots unlocked the door and gestured for us to go inside. They didn’t follow.
Inside the house had the look of one of those restored historical sites. It was laid out with a parlour and a dining room, both of which looked like someone from the nineteenth century had been given a free hand at decorating. The walls were papered in eggshell white with tiny flowers spaced regularly, a pattern which carried over onto the delicate-looking furniture. Everything that could be was carved with smooth decorated curves.
“Don’t worry Boy, the plumbing is modern. So is the sound system.”
“Yes, the house plays music. It also listens to everything you say so you can ask for the music.”
“So if I wanted to hear Katy Perry…”
“You could, if he knew who she was. House: play Jessica’s List; background volume.”
The room suddenly filled with soft music from a bygone era. Horns, trumpets, saxophones, all muted to an ambient level. I’d seen enough old movies to recognize the big band era.
“Now go have your shower. There is only one bathroom.” She punctuated it with a slap on the ass that stung through my sweats and the dressing on my wound.
In the bedroom (straight out of the nineteenth century except that the gaslamps were controlled by a normal light switch) I shucked off my clothes and peeled away the wound dressing. There was dried blood on the bandage, but a lot less than I feared there would be, and nothing too fresh. I didn’t remove the ring; I had a feeling that would be a bad idea somehow.
The shower started out bracing but quickly warmed up to just above my body temperature. The water striking my skin had an invigorating effect, not only cleaning but also providing a wonderful massage. And then a pair of arms wrapped around my waist.
I whirled. “Jessica?”
“I couldn’t wait. Make room.”
She stretched her body and leaned her head back, letting the water sluice off her athletic form. I pride myself on staying in shape; she was an athletic goddess. I found myself doing less showering and more staring. When she leaned in close I wanted her more than I’d ever wanted a woman before.
“Soap my back, Boy. No sex now, we don’t have much time.”
“The shower makes white noise; it messes with the microphones. We can talk privately here.”
Once again the day was getting away from me.
“We need to escape from this house. It is well-made and there are two robots here, staying out of sight. Sebastian can hear everything we say except in the shower.”
“So how do we plan something?”
“We do it in writing when we are in bed tonight. Together. And we will have sex.”
I thought about what she’d said earlier. “That sounds like an offer.”
“It’s not an offer, it’s an order. When I lived here he wanted to have sex with me but I escaped before he had the chance. I am sure hearing me in the arms of another man will annoy him greatly.”
“And I don’t get a say in this?”
“No. Now finish washing with me and we will get ready for dinner.”
“I have a better idea.”
“What is it?”
“Let’s annoy him now.” I pressed her against the wall, sliding her up a bit so things were closer together. Her eyes opened wide, then slowly closed as I kissed her.
She yielded willingly. When her mouth was free she said, “You’re learning, Boy.”
* * *
Much later (I’m surprised we didn’t run out of hot water) we went back to our room and dressed. Fresh clothes had been laid out for us and our old ones were nowhere in sight.
I ended up in charcoal grey dress pants and a white shirt with pink and pale blue pinstripes, topped off with black suspenders that Jessica had to show me how to put on. Black patent leather shoes and a charcoal vest completed the ensemble.
Jessica had a svelte oriental-style crimson gown that showed off every curve of her now-familiar body. The embroidered gold dragon contorted around her, one of its claws seeming to make an indecent grab. The gown would have clung to her legs if she had closed the side fasteners on the skirt; as it was her leg was visible to the hip. Her outfit was completed by black stilettos and a tiny matching purse.
As I brushed her hair she smiled. “I wonder what trap that viper plans to draw us into.”