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She looks dangerous. I've sensed her near me for at least an hour. I stand talking and laughing among a circle of friends at the bar while she remains in my peripheral vision and her energy, like smoke, shrouds me. I fill my lungs with her presence but avoid her eyes.

My goal is to remain seemingly unmoved, to pretend not to notice her hungry stare -- the source of the dampness between my legs. I want to return her intensity, but instead focus on a conversation I care little about. I"m all too aware that by ignoring her I'm following her lead in a dance that may end up in a bed, or the bar parking lot, or the alley, or the bathroom. I could end it now by facing her head on and throwing a razor at her dick with a look that says "fuck off." I choose, instead, to play.

The Edge : Kelly Conway  
I can't ignore the flame of a dominant Butch, am addicted to the sound, the crack that startles seconds before a whip kisses an ass that waits in the air, straining towards more. I promise myself, time and time again, that I won't do this: I won't continue to follow mindlessly wherever my desire leads me. My body -- heat seeking, against my will -- is pulled towards the furnace I feel radiating from the bulge that rests on her thigh, teasing me with its outline, visible through black denim.

My friends remain oblivious to what's taking place between the dark and me -- they haven't even noticed her. I remain seemingly involved in their meaningless conversation, then, pretending to be reaching for an ash tray across the table, I position myself so that my black leather skirt will rise, revealing the tops of my black silk stockings.

I can't take any more of this benign discussion of Melissa Etheridge and Bar Girls, so I excuse myself and head for the bathroom. Glancing over my shoulder I imagine that she might follow me but she doesn't.

The bathroom is crowded: femmes are brushing their hair; some are reapplying make up. A lone butch looks stiff and uncomfortable with all the girl juice in the air. We look for ways to stimulate her gallantry, dropping a comb for her to pick up, smiling at each other when she offers one of us the place ahead of her in line, standing close enough for her to smell our perfume; we know our power in situations like this. I lean against the wall behind her -- third in line for the one working toilet; and I wait.

This one in front of me, she is no Top: I can tell by the way that she reacts to the attention of four femmes. A true Dom , when flirted with, would make the flirted back up her behavior, would have had one of us on our knees in the empty stall, would bruise the ass of whoever she picked, and I would make her pick me. I would spin a web; threads of glistening, sticky fear would fly from my soul and trap her. But, this woman in front of me, she smiles, and the gallantry crystallizes in the air. She is not smug, but shows a shy gratitude that we see her, that we respond to what is butch about her. Her gentle love of sweet women, her awe of all that's soft: it makes me sick. I'd stomp her with my three inch black stiletto heels if given the chance. On the other hand, my Top O' the Night who is sitting at the bar, would by now have had her fist wound in my long black hair, and I'd know what she wanted, would do what she wanted--would go as far as she wanted to push me. I crave this crash of iron against magnet, this power that feeds on the dark.

When I leave the bathroom she's waiting by the pool table. I walk past her slowly, in case she wants to approach me. She doesn't. I return to my friends and wait. This torture dance will go on until I'm wet enough to take her fist, if that's what she chooses to give me.

It's not too late to go home. I could leave now, stop this before it starts, before I wake with chaffed wrist, ankles bound, upper thighs bruised purple, wondering how I let it happen again. I could walk right out the front door. I could.

I'm getting restless, angry, but I know better than to show an attitude. Against my better judgement I order another drink; and wait. My friends have found yet another boring topic to beat into the ground. I ignore them but they don't seem to notice. She is still there, watching me.

It's hot in here, dark and smoky, we meld inside a fog of noise and want, invisible in our attempt to fit in. I look like everybody else, yet I can see the darkness. These women, talking and laughing, safe in the pretense that among women they're safe; they don't notice her, they don't know her like I do, like I'll know her by morning.

I'll give her five more minutes, then I'll leave. It's not the first time I ve told myself this lie, and it's not the first time that I ve believed it, nor will it be the first time I'm stunned when I find myself still waiting a hour from now.

I wonder if this one will stay through the night? It's unusual to wake up and find a reminder more tangible than an indent on a feather pillow, or a red welt that will fade to a thin scar. Maybe I could make her breakfast. Maybe she will warm to the sunlight and I'll hate her more than she hates me. But, maybe she will be the one to relieve me of the morning; to free me from another waking. Maybe she'll take me for that ultimate ride and dump me, crumpled, in the desert.

She is walking towards me. I like it that her leather's creased and worn. I hate it when I see some of these dykes in new leather, trying to look tough in their squeaky little vests and jackets. I want to burn it off them, show them that leather is a lifestyle, not a fashion. She's getting nearer. I move away from my friends so they won't overhear any conversation. They don't know how far I've gone -- are unable to imagine how far I'm prepared to go.

She's facing me. Her eyes -- the bruised grey of a swollen cloud -- look me over. I do not meet these eyes of hers; I'm not yet ready to give her my soul. She nods, seems to approve of how I look up close. She doesn't smile, and I don't want her to; that would ruin everything. She turns and walks to the door. I wait till she's gone, then tell my friends that I have to leave. She's waiting by a black Ford pick-up, opens the passenger door and I get in. There are no seat belts.

No words will be exchanged; this is my only rule. We can each speak, but we can't converse. She seems to know this; I don't have to teach her. Maybe she really is the one I have been waiting for.

I don't want to know where we're going, that would spoil the surprise, but, I'm getting scared. This one seems real, like she's been working up to my desire, has been preparing for my arrival. I see her lightly -- almost imperceptibly -- stroke her dick. It seems that she can smell my fear. I work to hide it, this fear that dampens me when I'm in a crowd, this traitor fear that's failing to keep me aroused right now -- alone with her. We're exiting the freeway, turning onto a road off the I-5 that I've never seen; a road that is surely a dead end. It's late, the darkness beckons her vehicle, veils it. She turns to look at me, and I avoid her eyes. She backhands me the second the truck stops, and I fall soundlessly against the door, the armrest becoming a part of my ribs. She's not fucking around, she's a real top, not like the fakes, the wanna-be's at The Rack where they want to know my "safe words and boundaries. They make me sick.

The gleam in her eye as I wipe the trickle of blood from my lip reminds me of him. He used to get that same look when, at eight years old I would sob, and when, at nine, I would scream. By ten, I learned to take it silently, and at eleven I stabbed him. He cried as his guts spilled, and that's why I stabbed him a second time. He might have lived if he had just shut up, not pleaded, or attempted to apologize.

She has a handful of my hair and is forcing my face towards her lap. I know how to do this -- I ve done this lot's of time. I hear her knife snap open, she cuts my face, a small nick at my eyebrow so that I'll follow her direction. I start to undo her zipper, to take her in my mouth, but I've wrongly anticipated her order. She shoves me to the floor of the truck, and binds my hands around my back. Oh, so this is how it's gonna go? She wants to restrain me first? Okay. I can do this. She attaches the end of the rope to the steering wheel, leaving me kneeling on the floor, half hanging by my wrists. She gets out of the truck and leaves me alone. I hate this! I don't want to be alone right now. I am scared. My arms hurt. I hear her moving in the bed of the truck and she's gone for what seems like a long time. I trance myself, wait for what comes next. Don't think, don't try to imagine what she is preparing to do. Stop wondering! Stop caring! Meditate -- do it now -- my mantra; do it now. Is this it? Is she the one? Kill me! Now!

She's back. She unties me, yanks me out the door and throws me down. The gravel -- cooled by the night air--finds a home in my cheek. She kicks me, rolling me over onto my back. I'm crying now; the mud of tears and dirt slides down my cheek, and I want her to stop, to go away. It's not supposed to happen this way. I'm supposed to like it. She's supposed to fuck me first, make me come against my will. I roll away from her, try to get under the truck. She grabs my leg and drags me back, my skirt pulls up, exposing my skin to the sharp stones. This is not what I expected. I imagined that I'd embrace her, the one I have been seeking, the one who would be guided by his ghost, the one who would be my restitution, my redemption.

Kneeling over me, her eyes force mine to their center, and I recognize what I have summoned. There is a scream made of wet concrete hardening in my throat that I gag on, try to swallow, then the let roll from the corner of my lips to spill down my chin and mingle with the blood. I cannot rip my eyes from hers, she will not let me. She looks like him, smells like him. He has slithered back from hell to bring me home. She stands and reaches for something in the truck bed, then traces my temple with the stark hardness of cool metal. It feels good, this first caress, this gentle stroking. I did not anticipate tenderness at the smooth, cold barrel of a gun "This is what you wanted?" she whispers. He used to tell me that I wanted it. I did not want it. I do not want her. I do not want this? I go limp. I will play dead, like I used to with him.

"Shit!" I hear her say. She's angry; but I can tell she's the type who will find no pleasure in infliction without reaction. She needs me to participate, she needs my permission and will try to find a way to bring me around. I remain limp and wait.

She moves away from me. I hear her rummaging in the front seat of her truck, and I make my move. The area to my right looks too open. On my left, there are several yards of emptiness, then trees. I roll--scramble to my feet. I am running before she sees that I have moved. There is no moon and the dark shelters me. I stumble, twist my ankle, then continue on. I feel her, hear her calling me back. I hesitate while the nearest trees strain their limbs in an offer of envelopment. I accept their arms and keep running -- weaving among the tall saviors -- and finally find an area dark enough to hide in. I sit as quietly as I can and wait for her pursuit. None comes. By her absence I know that I am her redeemer. I've saved her from my desire. She showed me mercy, agreed to grease the ledge of the precipice so I could slip to my end, instead of jump. I showed her mercy. I showed her that the dark is insatiatable and my soul would not quell it's hunger but would turn to devour hers.

My feet are bleeding and my ankle is swollen. My heart is loud, I can hear it booming out into the night. My breath is shallow and my throat dry. I have sought out darkness, rolled in it, smeared myself with all that lies puddled and ready to drip over that proverbial edge between what is safe, and what is real. For the first time in my life I make a conscious decision to live as I rise slowly, straining to hear her approach between each step I take but there's only silence and I'm relieved. I find a large rock and sit down, sheltered from the wind under a moonless sky where I will wait till dawn and then walk home.



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