Other women cloy
The appetites they feed, but she makes hungry
Where most she satisfies. – William Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra (II, ii)
“I’m looking forward to seeing you at seven-ninety then. Thank you, Lord Zolan!” Marilith covered the glass and settled back onto the cushions of the divan; the feelings of a new patron were often overwhelming at first, and she would need much of the next hour to sort through them. “Tea please, Cynthia,” she said when her handmaiden appeared in response to the bell.
“Red lotus as usual, mistress?”
“Yes, and the incense too.” Then as the servant turned to go, she added, “And you’ll need to stay close for this one, I think.”
Cynthia’s face remained as impassive as ever, but she asked, “Do you think he’ll be dangerous?”
“Dangerous? No. Very ardent, though; I can feel his intensity even now, and I’ll need your capable hands if I lose myself in so deep a pool.” No answer but a deep bow was necessary, so Cynthia gave no other, and a moment later she was gone. Though she had been here for six months now, Marilith was still impressed with her efficiency; she had indeed been a wise investment, just as Dr. Galen had promised.
This house, too, had been a wise investment; its proximity to the palace and the spectacular view of the cloud-piercing Tower of Heaven would have justified its expense even without the space and amenities it offered. As a child, she could only have dreamed of living in Yian, much less owning a lovely mansion and the finest servants human ingenuity could produce…but that was before her talent had manifested itself, and before she had recognized how she could improve her situation by its use.
A wave of lust spread through Marilith’s body, momentarily startling her with its intensity; her new client was presently transacting some business in the Tower, and by looking toward it she had inadvertently opened the empathic channel more widely. She inhaled deeply of the calming incense (when had Cynthia brought it in? As silent as she was quick!) and explored Lord Zolan’s feelings, gliding through them as though swimming in a strong current, not fighting them yet not allowing them to carry her away, either. He was an important man, high in the Imperial bureaucracy, and such men usually have powerful passions; once she had mapped the rugged and complex landscape of his desires and fully learned how to appeal to them, he would be an excellent and loyal client. Today he would only be here for an hour, but that was almost too much for the first time with such an intense lover.
The tea helped her to master the invading emotions, and when she was done she went to her closet to dress. The contact was more than strong enough for her to divine how best to appeal to him, and by the time his heightened anticipation told her that he was on his way she had dressed, made up and had her hair arranged for maximum effect. All that remained was her customary prayer at the small shrine adjoining her boudoir, and she was ready; when she sensed he had touched down on the landing stage she moved into the parlor and artfully arranged herself on the cushions.
“Lord Zolan of Orissa,” Cynthia announced, and he entered the room in a burst of excitement which sharply increased the moment his eyes fell upon Marilith. He crossed the room in a remarkably dignified fashion considering his emotional state, and raised her hand to his lips with something closely akin to awe.
“Your images fall utterly short of the reality,” he said in a hoarse whisper. She knew that this was a totally sincere statement; no image, still or moving, could adjust its posture and facial expressions to appeal to the viewer’s individual preferences as she had learned to do. She pitied courtesans without her gift; feigned lust and interest, no matter how perfectly imitated, could never match the real ones she borrowed from her clients. She was the perfect dance partner, and followed as effortlessly as a shadow.
Some of her callers relished the anticipation, their passions mounting as she prolonged the preliminaries until the point they could stand it no longer, but Lord Zolan was not one of them; his need was a raging fire, and there would be ample time for conversation once it had been temporarily quenched. For now, only two words were needed: “Take me.”
It was as though she had thrown a lever to release some mechanism powered by a tightly-coiled spring. Her own passion rose in tandem with his as he literally tore the gown from her body and covered her bosom in rough kisses, all hope of self-control lost to her now; she wanted him as badly as he wanted her, and there was absolutely nothing artificial about the ecstasy she felt as he entered her, nor about her synchronous climax when he reached his own within a very short time as all her lovers did.
When her senses eventually returned, Marilith glanced at the wall clock and saw it was just after eight; that left ninety minutes of their appointment, so there was no need to awaken her guest right away. While he slept peacefully she could regain her composure and get a better look at him through eyes unblurred by the intense emotions she had felt while he was awake. He was a well-built, good-looking man with strong features, every bit the son of a sirdar; according to the peerage records Marilith had consulted last week when he first contacted her, his mother was a great-great granddaughter of the royal house of one of the Outer Worlds. So in addition to the generous fee and the undeniable physical and emotional pleasure she would gain from his visits, he had good family connections on both sides which could prove very valuable to her; his patronage might provide the means by which she eventually secured a title, an advantageous marriage in a class far above that into which she had been born, or both.
But there would be plenty of time for that later; right now she was enjoying her life as the most sought-after companion in the capital…the attention, the intense pleasures, the comforts and most of all the wealth. Political power would come as easily and naturally as the rest had.
She smiled, and began to kiss and caress her noble visitor’s head.