She had been eyeing his suit since 59th Street. When the train emptied at 14th, she took the sudden exodus as an excuse to sit next to him.
“I’ve never seen working sleeve buttons up close. It’s such a beautiful detail,” she said, her fingers hovering over his light gray glen plaid.
The buttonholes on his sleeve were stitched in orange, a delicate but striking accent against the light gray of his cuff that implied bespoke.
“May I?” she requested, looking into his dark eyes.
He nodded, trying to suppress a grin.
She felt the fabric, examined it more closely. Her leg pressed against his as she leaned in.
“Gabardine? So soft,” she whispered.
He took a greedy gaze of her curly hair and her naked shoulders and the cleavage exposed by the deep dip of her summer dress.
“I’m Henry, by the way,” he said, extracting his sleeve from her intense examination.
“Sorry, I’m Lisbeth, I’m quite fond of fabrics.”
Two nights later, they met for drinks.
She had never been to a bar that was so fancy and secret. She rang a doorbell in front of what looked like a brownstone apartment in midtown. A man in a tuxedo answered and asked for her name. He then closed the door for a full minute before letting her in and guiding her through dark halls of red and black damask flocked wallpaper to a small booth hidden by a thick red curtain.
Henry sat with his legs crossed, sipping some yellow-green liquid from an old fashioned champagne coupe.
The maître d’ showed her to the seat next to Henry and then closed the curtain on them.
“It’s lovely to see you again,” he said coolly, then he pulled a small brass chain that hung against the wall.
A waitress popped her head in.
“Lisbeth, do you enjoy gin?” Henry asked.
She liked the occasional martini, so she nodded.
“Would you like to see a menu, or may I order for us?”
“Your words, Lisbeth. You should use them,” he said, his eyes darkening.
His look made her back straighten, and her heart pick up its pace. It was odd that a stranger’s small disapproval should have such an effect. She demurred, wondering if he could tell her nipples were hardening.
“Yes, please order for me,” then rather instinctively, she added, “sir.”
He smiled. The waitress smiled.
“I’ll have another Corpse Reviver, No. 2, and you can bring the lady one as well.”
And so it was.
She watched, cat-like from the doorway, as he hung his suit up carefully. In the closet was a row of suits, brown and black and blue, pinstriped, windowpaned, chalk striped.
He laid his tie on a neat metal rack that hung from the wall.
She walked into the room and folded her short dress under her as she started to sit down on his bed, the only place available in his bedroom beside his rather futuristic desk chair, which seemed impolite to move to.
“No, no. You have been on the train, running around town in the heat, it just won’t do. Will you be a good girl and go to the bathroom and wash up for me?”
She was conflicted. She didn’t like the insinuation that she was unclean, but when he said “good girl,” a little spark blazed in her heart. She did want to be a good girl. She wanted that more than anything. If that meant a little soap and water, that was easy enough.
“If you don’t mind, of course,” he added.
“Yes, sir. I’ll go clean up.”
She walked down his long hall and closed the door behind her when she entered the old Manhattan bathroom. A thick porcelain sink with a delicate pattern of tiny veined cracks, crooked tiles that were probably once perfect but were now a different kind of beautiful in their chipped lived-in elegance.
She glanced at the claw food bathtub and wondered if he meant for her to take a bath. The thought was tempting.
What did clean up mean?
She saw a neat pile of folded washcloths on the windowsill. She picked one up and soaked it in water. She washed her hands and arms. She dabbed at her face, not messing up her make up. She looked at herself in the mirror.
Where are you dirty?
Back in the bedroom, he was busy putting his things away. She sat on the bed and saw there was now a large glass of ice water and a small glass of whiskey waiting for her on the bedside table.
He was at his desk, opening a dark wood box. She sat up to see into it. Looking around the room, she noticed that he had many cases and boxes and containers—a place for everything.
Inside the box on his desk were a collection of cufflinks, collar stays, tie bars, pins, a pocket watch, a cigarette case, and other items she couldn’t place. He hung his watch on a little oval stand in the box and placed his cufflinks neatly with the others.
Then he unbuttoned his lovely shirt. There was something significantly arousing about watching his fingers undo buttons, pull at sleeves, expose skin.
He wore a simple but perfectly white a-shirt underneath.
He turned on her with a grin.
“Well, now, let’s see how well you’ve cleaned.”
She was taken aback by the sentence.
“I want you to get on your hands and knees on the bed and pull off your panties for me. Will you do that for me, Lisbeth?” he asked with a calm voice as if he were asking her to fill out a form in an office.
She really wasn’t sure. Things were not going how she expected them to go, but she did want to be a good girl.
“Wh-what are you going to do then, sir?”
He clenched his jaw for a moment, then relaxed.
“I’m going to inspect you. In fact, in the next few minutes, if you agree, I’m going to look over every inch of your pretty body and see exactly how I want to use it,” he explained both coolly and concisely.
She swallowed. The thought of doing what he said instantly made some kind of strange sense to her. It made her squirm. It made her heartbeat so fast and hard it sort of hurt.
He stood with his hands behind his back, somehow still looking very fancy even though he was just in an a-shirt and his lovely gray pinstriped trousers. His suspenders hang at his sides, a detail that made her even more aroused.
“We can talk a bit and relax instead, but I thought you might like this kinky game, perhaps as much as I do. To use you like a little doll or a toy. You see, I very much enjoy collecting pretty things. You see all my ties and cufflinks and etchings and bobbles,” he said, waving his hand at the various objet de art on his wall and bookshelves.
“But before finding the perfect use for something, I have to examine it. I have to see how it works. Sometimes I even have to be rough with it, see how durable it is. Do you understand?”
She wanted to say yes, but the word got stuck in her throat.
So he waited.
She took a sip of water. It was very cold and very refreshing.
“Alright, sir. That all sounds very nice,” she said, her voice like a little mouse.
He smiled wide and then clapped his hands once, which made her jump.
“Excellent. I’m delighted you are up for that. Now, do you remember what I wanted you to do?”
She took another sip of water and then got up on her hands and knees on the bed, feeling a little foolish, but also a bit dizzy from the knowledge of what he was planning.
“On my hands and knees, sir?
“And, um, pulling down my panties, sir,” she said, pulling up her dress a bit, trying to pull down her panties without exposing herself too much, then chiding herself because he was going to see everything soon enough.
The thought made her face get even hotter. Then the thought of how wet she was getting and how he would soon know!
She got the panties down her legs and slipped them off, putting them neatly on the table next to her water.
He moved forward, standing next to the bed, and put his hand on her back. His touch, even so, simply a touch, made her stomach tighten and her hips roll a little involuntarily.
He leaned down, pushing her hair away from her ear.
“That was excellent. You are being a very good girl so far. I want you to make sure to let me know if you want me to stop doing anything I’m doing. We won’t need any fancy safewords, a simple ‘no’ will do. Do you understand?”
“Yes, sir,” she said, hyper-aware of the subtle smell of his cologne.
He had said it. He had called her a good girl. She couldn’t help but smile.
“Yes, sir. I understand. Um, sir? Before you examine me, could you, um, kiss me first? Sir?
He reached up and brushed her cheek with his manicured nails. He smiled warmly.