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- dedicated to Tanagra in loving memory
Inside the cave, in the close and humid warmth, Serini stretched out her legs and flexed the muscles of her small hard buttocks. Her naked thighs, white on the white fur of the bed covering, trembled slightly. Her toes curled in anticipation. Slowly and lazily she raised her feet above her head, smiling, humming to herself, moving her buttocks on the fur.
Idly she began to play with the fine golden chain fastened around her left ankle, swinging her legs so the tiny key suspended from it dangled back and forth. Then with a long deep sigh, almost a moan, she closed her eyes and let her naked body relax once more into the warmth of the embracing fleece. Perfume hung heavy in the air and the smell of vibrant oils pricked her nostrils. She could hear the rain thudding on the stone outside. She heard the winds.
The island was circled by the open sea, remote and alone, far from charted routes. It lay silent and stark under the glowering sky, enduring, waiting. Dark and turbulent clouds crouched low over the land and the sea was whipped to anger by the storm. Rain fell slanting, driven by the wind. Serini knew the storm was building in intensity. A wild longing surged within her, a dreadful hope and she laughed aloud.
On the west coast of the island thundering waves rolled up the sandy beach, all the way to the trunks of the aspen trees. In the yellow light, branches bent and swayed and tossed their leaves. Across the wooded hills, misty fields and meadows to the east, high and rocky cliffs faced the treacherous sea, defiant and protective.
Behind the cliffs nature had hewn a series of caves into the rock, and from one of these, from an opening in the jagged roof, a thin stream of smoke fought its way upward. The fragrance of habitation, of burning cedar wood and juniper, mingled with the pungent smell of the wet earth. The opening to this cave in which Serini lay, more recessed than the rest and in the centre of the curving wall of rock, was tall and arched. A long curtain of animal hides blocked the entrance against the rain and wind.
Spread out in the fragrant warmth, Serini's body felt tingling and alive, open and receiving as the cool hands touched her flesh. Always, those hands that now pressed against her skin could calm and soothe her almost constant tension, those hands moving down across her hips. She opened her eyes.
Nada's face was close to hers. It was an astonishing face, sculptured like a statue and perfectly proportioned. The dark amber skin did not seem like skin at all, but had the gloss of polished stone or wood, as though underneath there was no bone, no blood, no living cell. That firm yet soft face contained not a single line or shadow or furrow or even dimple to mar it expressionless modelling. One ached to touch it. Great and glorious eyes blazed liquid black fire. Her strong hands grasped Serinifs legs and spread them wide apart. The moist, golden-haired vulva was fully exposed, quivering and vulnerable in the soft light of the oil lamp. Serini smelled the odour of beeswax and knew that first, there would be pain. Her breath came fast, in small gasps.
She waited. She kept her legs open. She looked up at the craggy and uneven ceiling and studied the natural patterns in the stone to quiet herself. Her eyes slid down the covered cave wall, hung with heavy woven fabrics that shimmered in the dancing light of the fire. The stone, jagged and rough behind the cloth, did not show itself in this enclosure. Lying quietly on the couch, she watched Nada dip the linen cloth into the cauldron on the hearth and wring it out, dropping another into the near-boiling water. The woman unfolded the steaming cloth, turned and laid it gently over Serini's open pelvic area. The heat flooded up, warming her entire body, all her limbs, expanding her. The lush lips of her vulva opened like the petals of a flower to a hot sun. The warmth made a flush appear on her cheeks, made her clitoris pulse and throb. She pushed her hand against it. Wait, she told herself. Wait. She watched Nada coming with another steaming cloth and as it descended she writhed in swollen longing. Cloth after cloth was laid upon her and Serini received them with stifled moans, biting her tongue to quiet her rising passion, listening to the pounding rain and the hiss of the dampened fire.
At last Nada patted the delicate hairs dry and gently, between the white and trembling thighs, across the golden mound, she dusted a soft fine powder. She crossed the cave-room to a slim table near the fire where the prepared beeswax waited, warm and ready, in a small clay bowl.
"Margarita! Go now," she called, dipping her fingers into the wax. A short and reed-slender girl rose from a fur rug in the shadows. Two huge sleek black dogs rose with her, alerted, then sank back onto the stones. Margarita had masses of curly dark hair, laughing blue eyes, and a good-natured desire to please the world. She approached Nada gracefully, taking the bowl of beeswax from the table. She began to sing in a lilting voice.
"No, put it down, bring the table closer," ordered Nada. "And be quiet. Comfort her."
Margarita shrugged and closed her pretty lips. She ran her hand down the length of Serini's thigh and up the inner part, smiling, cooing softly. Nada manipulated a small globe of wax between her nimble fingers, keeping it warm, and pressed it firmly onto a section of the almost invisible hairs, then waited for it to cool and harden. Amused at herself, with a low gurgling laugh, Margarita put her head between Serini's thighs and blew on the wax, her cheeks puffed out like a child of the North Wind.
Angered, Serini sat up. With a white flash of arm she slapped the girl viciously across the face. Startled, Margarita withdrew whimpering, and the dogs rose in excitement, moving delicately toward the couch, their small ears pointing.
Serini lay back, covering her eyes. She could hear the storm raging outside, the roar of thunder, the crashing of trees, the pelting rain, and her breasts quivered the nipples hardening. Perhaps this time... with luck... "Be quick, Nada, be quick!"
She must be ready.
At once, getting her nail under the edge, Nada slashed off the lump of wax, and Serini gasped and arched her back in pain. Margarita crept close to hold her hand while Nada pressed another ball of wax onto the next section of her golden pubic hair, pushing it down firmly with her thumb. And again she tore it off.
Again and again the process was repeated until Serini's mound was smooth and hairless, flushed scarlet around the hungry pink lips of her desire, her back flat with relief against the coverlet, Nada touching a soothing salve to the tender flesh. But almost at once the woman brought forth the steaming cloths again, and fragrance expanded on the air as their heat was laid on her armpits now, and the sparse hairs removed there too. Margarita held her arms up while Nada worked, whispering sweet words into Serini's ear, endearing love words to calm the pain. And Serini listened, comforted.
At last they were done, and the two women helped Serini rise, swaying, from the embracing couch. By the light of the spitting oil lamp they led her, white and glistening, past the fire on the hearth, past the damp and misty opening in the roof, along the slanting floor where the cave walls narrowed and no rugs were laid to hide the stone, down toward the depths of her home, to the cave's back wall, to the inner stream to bathe her. And the sleek dogs followed.
Already the sound of dripping water overcame the sound of the rain outside. There in the depths of the hollow cave, against the jagged wall, a small stream ran in one fissure and out another. The steady and endless flow of water had eaten a trough into the rock. The stream ran into the cave constantly, day and night, summer and winter, and where it flowed out had formed a wider trough to make a kind of pool. Here Serini bathed.
From the high and uneven ceiling above the pool water dripped and trickled from some unseen and hidden source onto black-green shadowed moss and spraying fern, gushing down against the mottled wall that formed the back limits of her home. The constant sound had become one with her, as natural to Serini as her breathing, or her pulse.
The two women led her over the smooth soft stone and crouching, she slid into the dark and icy water of the pool. At first, she lay face-down on the water like a leaf, her long and golden hair spread out, her arms wide, her legs apart, then closing, pressing the wet coldness into the hot flesh of her mound, the delicate pink bud of her clitoris drinking in the jarring, soothing moisture.
Then she stood up, the water just under the fullest curve of her thighs, her arms circling her breasts like a water-nymph. Her skin was tight and firm, contracted, every pore closed. She shuddered and shook herself and the women went to her, splashing the icy water, and rubbed her with textured cloths until her whole body was rosy and glowing. Then Margarita wrapped her quickly in a long robe of finest wool, wrapped her from head to foot, while Nada held the oil lamp high. So Serini walked lightly up the age-worn stones, the dogs whining and sniffing fondly at her knees, back to the fleece-covered floor, the furry couch and the warmth of the hissing fire, where now the pounding of the rain was loud and constant upon the stone outside and the shriek of the wind slid down the cliffs.
Suddenly, through the storm, there was heard a distant and muted sound that seemed to well up from the core of the earth itself - a deep and guttural roar - then another and another, filling the cave, half angry, half pleading. Serini trembled on her couch, wrapped in her woollen robe, and roiled her head from side to side. Secretly, the two women exchanged a glance and quickly lowered their eyelids to the floor. The dogs sat still with flattened ears until the roaring stopped. Then Serini let out an anguished cry. "Nada! Why do you leave me here alone, untended! Unloved! How can you do this to me?"
Swiftly, scurrying like a ferret, Margarita flung back the woollen robe, exposing the twitching limbs, and Nada smiled a patient smile and slowly, with her cool strong hands, she lifted Serini's head and shoulders from the bed, swept up the cascade of wet and darkly shining hair and poured it back out of the way, so that the ends curled into the fleece that lay upon the floor.
Margarita brought the ivory table close, lined with the many vials of scents and oils, sweet-smelling and warmed by the fire, and uncorked them one by one. She shook the oil jug, fat-bottomed, curving into its long thin neck, and held it ready. Nada turned Serini over onto a soft linen sheet and into her cupped palm Margarita poured the mixture of olive and almond and pungent herbs and the woman spread the rich oil down the length of Serini's body, from the neck to the soles of the feet, from her shoulders down the arms to the upturned hands.
She began to massage with long deep strokes, slowly following the flow of blood along the veins, always in rhythm with Serini's breathing, kneading, loosening the muscles in the back and shoulders, manipulating the fingers, sliding up the arms and across to the neck. Into the toes she worked the oil, up the long and slender legs, circling the muscles of the 'buttocks, sliding around into the anal crevice. And Serini sighed deep sighs of relaxation.
Nada wiped off the excess oil and turned Serini over. She smoothed back the hair from her brow and the rippling mass flipped and danced, drying now in the heat of the fire. She moulded the oil into the skin of her face with delicate fingers and, dabbing an aroma of laurel onto Serini's lips and still massaging, she proceeded to perfume each of her orifices with a separate scent -essences gained from the pressing of herbs and the petals of flowers that grew on the island.
to be continued…