Sunday, January 27, 2013

Fire and Ice

Every time I look at this piece of artwork hanging in my office I’m reminded of what a roller-coaster Stella Langfelder truly was. The older, stodgy lawyers in the firm do their best to avoid making eye-contact with it when they enter my space. As if a single glance at the steamy, sexual depiction might trigger a testosterone spike; set their minds reeling and their bodies charging headlong over a cliff. The truth is it didn’t fit the overall motif, but the 3’ X 4’ work was museum-type quality and until one of partners approached me directly the birthday gift would stay. Stella claimed it represented the two of us; mind, body, and soul eternally entangled.

As the fog of new romance settled, I came to see it likely represented her and any number of men. I came to the realization our relationship had to end. Not so much as a matter of choice because I didn’t possess that much will power, but more a matter of necessity. Stella overplayed her hand when she threatened to blow the lid off things in such a way that would end a career I’d spent twenty years building. I would not allow that to happen. Thinking back I should have been wary, considering the circumstance of our first meeting, but Stella was a fascinating and disarming creature; a fiery vixen whom I would have done nearly anything for.

Sleep-deprived and half hung-over she was easily the most seductive woman I’d come in contact with. She strolled past my secretary and into my office as if she already owned me. Stella wore a black-cocktail dress and fishnet stockings from the night before. Every stride in those stiletto heels allowed the hem of her dress to slide back and forth over her sculpted thighs like a piston in a sleeve. There was something devilishly enticing about the way her dark curls licked against her bare, ivory, shoulders. Subconsciously I knew the power to turn heads was an addiction for her.

I’ll never forget her first words to me. How cool and calm her voice seemed.

“I think I killed him—I’m pretty sure I did.”

Dancing on life’s razor’s edge was nothing new to Stella; she’d made a life of it. Although I don’t believe she ever suspected there would come a time for her to bleed. Those drawn to the fringe rarely do. But this time Stella knew she was in deep. A couple colorful pills, the anticipation of tantric sex with a mysterious man, and a few poor decisions set the stage for Stella to watch her own life spiral completely out of control.

Between the batting of her lashes and repositioning of her crossed legs my mind wandered. Through continued flashes of indiscretion it became obvious she wished for me to know she found undergarments unnecessary. She watched closely for a reaction. Despite my own preoccupation it seemed Stella had trouble relaying the previous night’s events in anything more than incoherent bursts.

“I specifically chose this outfit to hit the bars. When I slip it on it transforms me into something completely desirable—sleek and sultry—like a lioness slipping through the jungle. This dress was made for me—wouldn’t you agree?”

“Ummm…sure, Miss Langfelder. It is Miss, correct?”

She smiled and nodded. I understood the inquiry bordered on inappropriate but through facial expressions attempted to convey it was pertinent to the case.

“This guy at the bar kept feeding me drinks. He wasn’t a particularly attractive man, but all he talked about was these crazy sexual positions. Tantric he called it—said they had the power to drive any woman insane.”

“At any point in time did you let him know you were uncomfortable with the conversation, or that you weren’t interested in him?”

“Of course not—he was buying drinks, and who said I wasn’t interested?”

“O.K.” was all I could muster with a slack jaw.

“Well it was around midnight when the band quit playing. I swear the lead guitarist wanted me in a bad way. Between sets he stared at me intensely and although I flashed him several inviting glances he packed up his equipment and left without saying a word. He was gorgeous man—a single word would have taken me home. Anyhow, I was throbbing and incredibly horny.”

Her candidness struck me between the eyes.

“You don’t have to provide that much detail. In a courtroom setting those kind of statements are probably best avoided. Anyhow, go ahead.”

“By that time my nipples were like concrete. When he excused himself to the restroom I used my index finger to paint circles around them through the cloth.”

As she reached to demonstrate I shifted to intercept her hand.

“Stella, please. Let’s try to avoid the sexually explicit details and stick with what happened in more general terms.”

“I can’t help that I’m a sexual creature. We all are—some just never give up control long enough to discover what lies beyond.”

I swallowed hard, giving the impression I would allow things I didn’t really want to hear.

“Whatever details you feel necessary.”

“He asked if I wanted to head back to his apartment and maybe try some of the things he’d described.”

I gave him a sultry look, grabbed him mid-thigh, squeezing hard until my fingernails penetrated the cloth and pressed into his flesh. Leaning in I whispered in his ear.

“Do you think you can handle a tigress like me?”

My office suddenly became unbearably warm. I lifted from my chair, walked over and shut my office door. Stella never missed a beat.

“We arrived at his apartment…very upscale on the west side. He disappeared for a moment while I looked around the place. The Fifty-Shade’s series was on the coffee table. I hadn’t found time to read it, but heard rave reviews. He returned with a glass of wine and a couple pills. Told me it would enhance the journey he was about to take me on. That excited me beyond belief. All my sensors were on overload.”

“Stella, did you bother to ask what the pills were? Did you, at this point, feel endangered at all?

“Of course I did, silly. Without the elements of mystery and danger sex becomes ho-hum. I was determined he would never forget the whirlwind named Stella that rocked him to his core.”

This was no joke. She was as serious as could be.

“I see”, I said.

“While we finished the wine all I could think of was him hovering over me, wild and unleashed, pounding at my naked frame like he wanted to break something loose. I sink my nails into his back, knowing the pain I’m inflicting will push him to attack me with a renewed fury and intensity. Our hip-bones clash; on the verge of breaking through the skin and creating sparks—each delightful collision sends a spray of embers closer and closer to the powder keg. A charge so massive, shockwaves break apart our molecular structure, randomly rearranging our DNA, and welding it back together. Moved to a place where eyes see nothing but shades of black, waves washing and undulating one over the other—where outside noises become muffled and are swallowed by the overwhelming ringing of silence. We collapse in a sweaty, sweet mess. Where two distinctly separate bodies came together, there is one soul resting among the twisted sheets—absorbed in peace and unaware of the world spinning around it.”

I felt like I was melting. My shirt collar soaked through and my knees weak. Short of a cold shower, I needed a glass of water.

“Whoa! Stop for a second. Am I to understand this is what’s going through your mind while you two are sipping wine on the sofa…or wherever?”

“Yes”, she responded sheepishly. “But that’s not what happened at all.”

“Let’s take a break. I need a glass of water. Can I get you something?“

Stella declined the refreshment. As I returned to my desk I picked up on the worry in her look. A hesitant and embarrassed expression; one I had not witnessed since she entered the office.

“He led me to the bedroom and nudged me through the door first. He began soft and gentle; the way a man should. From behind he bathed my neck in kisses, working at the zipper until my dress fell in a heap around my ankles. He nibbled at my earlobe and whispered, ‘Is this tiger hungry?’ Before I could respond he latched onto my ear, biting down until I felt a warm trickle of blood. ‘A tiger is no match for the king of the jungle!’ I remember him tossing me onto the bed and then everything went black.”

“Stella, do you remember if he took one of the pills also?”

“It’s all kinda fuzzy. I thought he did.”

I frowned at the lack of recollection as it would hurt the case.

“When I woke I was completely naked, lying on my belly, both wrists cuffed to the bedpost with leather studded restraints. He stood at the side of the bed where I could see him. He wore a black hood over his face and held a candle. He moved out of sight, climbed onto the bed and continued to talk. He said he needed me to know he was fully in control. That I was his slave for the evening and had not yet earned the right to see his face. When I failed to respond, he wrapped his hand in my hair and yanked backwards until I acknowledged I understood. He then placed a hand on either thigh, pushing me forward until I was on my knees and fully exposed. He explained slaves can earn privileges through learning to control their reaction to pain, but as of yet I had earned nothing.”

“Stella, at this point surely you had to be wondering what kind of freak you had gotten involved with?”

“It wasn’t what I was expecting, but I have to admit it did arouse me.”

I thrust the pen onto the pad I was taking notes with.

“I understand the intrigue of role-play, but seriously, being dominated completely, subject to any little whim of some twisted dude you don’t even know did something for you?”

Stella bit her lower lip.

“Yeah it did…to a point.”

I shook my head in complete disbelief.

“Ok, Stella. Let’s fast-forward and get to that ‘point’.

“Throughout the night I earned privileges.....going to the bathroom alone, being allowed to speak to him, expressing my desires, even having my hands untied. By the way, some of those positions were unbelievable, but it finally came to point where all I imagined before-hand was coming true. We were tigers of equal standing, lashing and pawing at each other in a euphoric dance. Then he placed his forearm across my throat. He said the lack of oxygen would only intensify things, but it came to a point where I couldn’t breathe. Pounding on his chest only caused him to lean forward harder. I started to writhe beneath him, but that too only intensified his pleasure. Things started to grow dim. I thrashed harder, grabbing at the night stand for leverage. Then I saw a letter opener lying there within reach. I plunged it into his ribs and he rolled to the side. Something inside me completely snapped. I rolled on top and straddled him. With both hands overhead I thrust downward, watching the letter opener disappear and reappear seventeen distinct times—once for every pain-endurance test he put me through. Now we were equal!”

“What the hell? You stabbed him with a letter opener?”

Stella was in tears and trembling.

“Look, you understand there’s no way I can represent you. If you tell half the things you were thinking and doing last evening you’re doomed. Any jury in its right mind will reach the conclusion that you got exactly what you were looking for. You chose to dance on the dark side, and yes, you found more than you bargained for, but you also murdered a man in the process!”

Stella spent another two hours in my office. I felt badly for her on so many levels, bad enough that when she left she did not leave alone. I advised my secretary I would be out the rest of the afternoon playing golf and we slipped out the fire exit. I accompanied Stella to this man’s apartment, helped clean-up the murder scene, and dispose of his body.

I suppose if you can handle the initial shock, being introduced to the worst of someone right out of the gate isn’t a bad philosophy. During the next year I came to appreciate the artistic influences that permeated every facet of Stella’s life. That the things and people she cared about were full-on for a time. I suppose a rare few are born true Nomads—never quite satisfied with anyone or anything for an extended period. Like a warning indicator goes off and they must obey a strange compulsion to move on. I don’t believe she meant me harm me when she threatened to go the partners of the firm and out me as an accomplice. It was simply a convenient excuse for us to part ways.

Funny how when we first met I recall being somewhat appalled by her actions and attitudes, yet I was inexplicably drawn to her. Dabbling with or even the slightest exposure to darker things sometimes leads to unexpected consequences. Stella over-played her hand. As a result she and her ‘Tantric man for the evening’ rest side by side in an undisclosed location.