Love Has No Limits (Sample)
People can never guess my age. They always think I am much younger than I really am. It makes no difference whether or not I wear make-up. It is partly because I am Chinese and partly because I just look baby-faced and innocent.
Sometimes this is a problem. Like when going to night clubs, for example. I have to have my ID card with me so the doormen will believe that I am over eighteen.
One winter I was in Amsterdam. I was determined to visit as many night clubs as possible. There was one in particular I had heard about that was supposed to be very, very sinister. Its reputation intrigued me. I wondered just how dangerous it could be. At that time I was fascinated by leather and whips and all the paraphernalia of certain types of sex. I associated this club in my mind with that kind of dark Gothic sex and I wanted to see it for myself. I was curious to know how I would react. In my fantasies I could become very aroused at the thought of certain things. I wondered if I would be so aroused if I experienced those things in reality. I wanted to know if it was just curiosity, or whether it was a deep part of my nature that I should explore and try to satisfy. Was it intellectual, or physical? I wanted to go and find out.
I also wanted to go alone.
I happened to be alone that weekend because the girlfriend I was staying with had gone to a wedding in Denmark. I didn’t know the couple and wasn’t invited. In any case, weddings depressed me. So the situation was perfect. I could wear what I liked. I could explore in private without having to answer any questions. Most important of all, I could be back as late as I liked, with or without a man.
Amsterdam is a city where it is impossible to shock people. They have seen everything there. In the two weeks I had been there, I had seen some very bizarre sights. Almost anything was permitted. Almost anything was for sale openly.
But if it’s permitted, it’s not sinful, which was disappointing. I liked the idea of sin. I associated sin with desire.
One of the good things about this particular night club was that it still had the power to shock even the people of Amsterdam. My friend, Maria, had warned me not to go there. I had mentioned it to her but I hadn’t told her about my dark fantasies. I just happened to say that I had heard of it and it sounded fascinating in a sick sort of way.
“Don’t even think to go there,” she said.
“Have you ever been there?”
“No. You wouldn’t get me in there if it was the only nightclub in Europe.”
“Why? What’s so bad about it?”
“People have died in there.”
“Died? Really? How?”
“I am asking.”
“You don’t want to know.”
“I do want to know. Are they mugged? Asphyxiated? Poisoned? Do they die of a heart attack or something worse?”
“They die mysteriously.”
“In other words, you don’t know.”
“Look, I’ve heard bad things about it, okay! You don’t want to go there.”
I wanted to go there even more after I heard that. Mysterious deaths! I loved mystery.
I wore black high-heeled boots, skin-tight black leather jeans, a white lace vest, a white sheer cotton blouse, a long black quilted jacket and a black fur hat. Don’t forget it was winter. There was ice on the pavements at midnight. My breath frosted in the chill night air.
I showed my ID card to the doorman and went in.
The first thing to do after leaving my coat and hat in the cloakroom was to check out my make-up in the toilets. Not too bad. My cheeks had turned blue from the cold and needed a re-touch but the blood-red gloss on my lips had held.
I wasn’t interested in dancing. The music sounded like rusty cars being fed to a metal-grinder deep inside a cave. I climbed, warily, the wrought-iron spiral staircase to the third floor, pushed past the velvet curtains, leaned on the purple plastic bar and ordered an absinthe cocktail from a barmaid with a spike through her eyebrow.
I don’t have any piercings. I’m not a Goth. I don’t even read vampire novels. But I felt the barmaid looked at me affectionately and I liked it. I made a connection with her. I’m not a lesbian but I like to think I have empathy and I can make a connection with other women sometimes, even one with a spike in her face in a bondage bar.
“You haven’t been here before, have you?” she said in English.
“No. This is my first time.”
“Do you live in Amsterdam?”
“No. I’m a visitor.”
“Staying with friends.”
“Where are you from?”
“Oh, you have come all the way from China?”
“I live in Europe now.”
“Oh, Berlin is very cool.”
“Shabby but chic,” I said.
“Do you speak German?”
“Cool. Do you also speak Dutch?”
“Hardly a word.”
“No problem. Enjoy the show!”
She had to serve another customer so I took the time to look around me. The lights in the bar were low but I could make out some obscene pictures on one wall. I only looked for a second but I could see they were grotesque cartoons, at once grisly and pornographic.
I only looked for a second because something else grabbed my attention. It was a stage in the centre of the room on which two people were performing. A woman in vinyl stiletto boots was standing over a man strapped to a piece of furniture. I suppose you could call it a whipping post, except it wasn’t a post, it was more like an ironing board and it was covered in something black that looked like crushed velvet.
The man was naked from the waist up. His back gleamed orange under a smoky red spotlight. His spine was very prominent. It looked vulnerable, as if it were about to break through his skin and spring apart. I couldn’t see his face for his head was half-hidden by the velvety folds of the material but I could guess that he was burly rather than handsome. I could just make out a chunky gold earring pressed against his neck. He had tattoos running up and down his bare arms.
The woman was tightening his bonds, which criss-crossed his back and held him to the whipping-post. She was quite dainty. She moved awkwardly on her high heels. Her thighs were bare and were surprisingly thin, as were her arms. She was wearing a black basque. She looked very beautiful. There was something comical in the scene, though, because she was too small to dominate that burly man.
She flicked back her long, fine, mousy hair and stooped to pick up a whip from the floor. She stroked it theatrically and her face creased up in a wicked grin. She cracked the whip loudly and with a startling amount of vigour and suddenly all eyes were on her.
She no longer looked dainty. A transformation had taken place. She was strong and purposeful, her face set like a mask.
She cracked the whip again. She was only cracking it in the air but the noise was impressive and it sent a tremor through me. Definitely it got my attention. Something in my body was thrilled by it. Then she dragged the whip teasingly over the man’s back. She flicked it up in the air and …
I must have flinched. The sound of the leather cord striking his flesh was shocking. This was something completely new for me.
I was unaware at that moment that someone was watching me. I was too preoccupied with the performers on the stage. I suppose I must have had a look of concentration on my face. I was sucked into the spectacle.
It was only afterwards, when the whipping was over and the man was untied and helped to leave the stage, great welts clearly visible across his back under the lurid lights, that I became aware that I, too, had been part of the spectacle for one particular member of the audience.
“Have you ever been whipped?” he asked me in English. His voice was an insidious whisper. He placed a hand on my shoulder and was speaking directly into my ear. I had to draw back to get a look at his face.
What a face!
My first reaction was revulsion. He had a mottled red and white complexion as though he had some kind of skin disease. His nose was bulbous and crooked. Then, when he didn’t blink when I looked at him, I began to see something more. His grey eyes were fixed on me with mesmeric intensity. There was a powerful charisma in those eyes. I saw depths.
“Because you were certainly fascinated by the show,” he said. His voice now was resonant and precise. It was an actor’s voice.
“Yes,” I said.
He drew me towards him again with a light pressure on my shoulder. “Do you mean yes, you have been whipped?”
“No. I mean no. I haven’t.”
“Would you like to be?”
“On the stage? No. Definitely not.”
“No, I meant in private. Somewhere private.”
“By you?” I could hardly keep the tone of revulsion from my voice but there was something about him that was compelling. I was intrigued by him and wanted to keep the conversation going.
“Don’t be alarmed by my face,” he said. “You wouldn’t have to look at it.”
I took a sip of the absinthe cocktail. I couldn’t help smiling. The situation was very strange. I was asking for trouble talking to this man, I knew, but I had gone there asking for trouble.
“How did you know I spoke English?” I asked him.
“You don’t look Dutch.”
“I don’t speak Chinese,” he said.
He was very tall. Like almost everybody in the night club, he was wearing black, but he wasn’t wearing make-up or any strange accessories like chains or piercings or tattoos. He was just a tall man in black with an ugly face and tousled, straw-coloured hair.
“Do you like to whip little Chinese girls?” I asked.
He paused before answering. His eyes ate me up. He thought my question impertinent but he wasn’t displeased. “You’d be the first,” he said finally.
I laughed. There was something funny about it. It was as if I’d already agreed to be whipped by him. Maybe I had. I don’t know. Perhaps he saw something in my eyes that I hadn’t realised was there—an acquiescence.
“What’s your name?” he asked me.
“Valentina.” It was a lie but I had always liked that name. I wanted to be called Valentina.
“Valentina?” He looked at me as though he knew it was a lie. “Sounds Russian.”
“My mother came from Harbin,” I said. “There was a lot of trade with Russia.”
What followed had an air of inevitability.
We left the night club around two. I’d had another cocktail and we’d had a long and probably uninteresting chat about the relationship between pain and sex.
“Pain is just another form of stimulation,” he had said. “You don’t need intense pain, just a little, to stimulate the blood.”
“How much is a little?” I had asked.
“It depends how much you can bear. Everyone is different. You need to find your limits.”
“That takes a certain amount of courage. And trust.”
“Oh yes indeed. Trust is very important,” he had said.
“But once you start exploring your pain threshold in sex, do you find your threshold rises?”
“Do people need more and more pain, do you mean?”
“That happens. But it’s good to remember that the pain is a means to an end. When I am the one inflicting pain, I always watch the surface of the skin. When the skin has a red bloom on it, that’s enough pain. It means the blood has come to the surface. It is a form of arousal. Because of that the skin is more sensitive and the sex is more intense. The orgasm is more intense.”
There was something impersonal about the way he spoke of it. The skin. The orgasm. Whose skin, I wondered. Whose orgasm? I was very curious about what he was telling me and he must have seen it in my eyes.
“The Marquis de Sade understood the correct application of pain,” he continued. Now he was making it sound like a science. “He described orgies in which the participants quickly reached the limits of their sexual capacity. After coming two or three times the man simply couldn’t get an erection again. The women too, started to feel sated. By gently whipping each other they could increase the flow of blood to the extremities. The sex could continue. Pain was the servant of pleasure.”
He talked fluently, eloquently about sex in what seemed to me an intellectual way. I didn’t understand everything he said. The noise—I don’t know if I can call it music—in the nightclub was very loud at times. But I watched his eyes. His eyes showed humanity. So many emotions were shadowed in their depths, so many expressions passed through them. Curiosity. Tenderness. Humour. Mischief. Cruelty. Confidence. Experience. Hope.
It was the last one, hope, that won me over, I think. There was an attractive vulnerability about him. I could sense his desire. He took nothing for granted, although his expectations were certainly not timid.
He hailed a taxi in the street and we went back to his flat which was outside the city centre. It was in a very ordinary apartment block overlooking a park, which was shadowy and spectral at that time of night.
He put the lights on and led me into the bedroom, which was on the top floor.
“Do you live here alone?” I asked him.
“How do you earn your living?”
“I’m a driving instructor. Can you drive?”
“No. I don’t have a car.”
It was a double bed with a cream-coloured duvet. It was simple and elegant. There was nothing unusual about the room. He had a pine bedside table with a white reading lamp on it. There was a bookcase with a mixture of books in Dutch and English. There was a pine wardrobe with a full-length mirror on the door.
“Sit on the bed and take your boots off,” he said. He said it casually, as if we had been lovers for years. I was starting to feel disappointed. This was not what I had expected at all. I wanted to be taken to a Gothic mansion where everything was draped in velvet and there were black candles burning and strange smells of incense and exotic flowers. I wanted to see iron rings on the walls that you could be chained to. I wanted to see canes and handcuffs and whips.
“It’s not definite that I’m going to stay,” I said. “I haven’t decided yet.”
I was still wearing my coat, although I had taken off my hat and was holding it in my hand. I expected him to be angry but he didn’t react. He went over and felt the radiator under the window.
“Is it warm enough for you?” he asked.
“I didn’t expect that you would have such an ordinary apartment.”
“Did you expect a dungeon?”
“No.” I was lying. In fact I did expect something more like a dungeon but I felt I had been stupid and naïve. I was feeling a bit strange from the cocktails. Normally I can’t drink very much. Suddenly I felt very tired and I wanted to sleep. I moved towards the door. “I’m going to go,” I said.
He grabbed my arm. He was as quick as a snake. “No!”
He pulled me back inside the room and somehow he managed to spin me around and remove my coat. I felt I had been robbed, like when a clever thief steals your bag and disappears into the crowds before you even realise. He threw me onto the bed. My legs flew up and he grabbed a heel and started to tug at one of my boots. I kicked him hard in the shoulder with my other one. The sharp heel went deep into the joint and he cried out in shock but he didn’t relinquish his grip. My boot came away in his hand. He flung it to the floor and grabbed my other one, the one that had struck him, before I could recover. I twisted away from him and tried to wriggle free. I was face down, which made it harder for him to remove the boot but it also made it harder for me to move. His hand came down hard on my backside and he pressed me into the bed. The palm of his hand ground against my leather jeans. He could easily cover my buttock with his hand. He squeezed and pressed down at the same time, making it very difficult for me to move my leg. The leather material was thick but I had a strong sensation of his fingers digging into my flesh. His other hand left my boot and pressed the small of my back, pinning me down. I tried to flail my leg. I still thought I could use my boot as a weapon and scrape the heel down his shin. But he evaded me.
He climbed onto the bed and sat on me, pressing my face into the mattress. I was in the worst possible position. I couldn’t spring free and I couldn’t get at him at all. He grabbed my arms and pinned them behind my back. I tried to tear at him with my fingers. He sat on my hands and I clutched at his balls but it must have been the merest tickle. He kept moving his body so I couldn’t get a grip on him.
There was a struggle. I could feel his weight shifting and I tried to take advantage by breaking loose but he kept reining me back in. He was reaching over to the bedside table. He wanted to get something from his drawers. But I was like a wildcat. I fought and fought every time he moved and he was panting from the exertion of trying to keep me under control.
In the end I heard him slip his belt out from around his jeans and wrap it around my wrists. Then he got something out of the drawer. He tied my feet. I was jerking on the bed like a seal. He removed the belt from my wrists and tied them with cord. All the time he was sitting on me and using his powerful hands to restrain me.
“You can scream all you want,” he said. His mouth was against my ear, just as it had been in the night club. I hadn’t realised I had been screaming. I stopped at the sound of his voice. I listened to him. His voice was so quiet and insistent it somehow made you listen. “My girlfriends are always very noisy,” we went on. “My neighbours are used to it.”
“I know where we are,” I told him. “Tomorrow I will go to the police. I will tell them you raped me.”
“Will you now?”
“This is rape,” I said, as if there might be some doubt.
“Not yet,” he said. “Right now I am simply making you … comfortable.”
He pulled off my other boot finally. I was able to twist round so I was on my back. I even tried to sit up but he was too quick for me. Although I was tied, he was not complacent. He used his body weight to keep me under further restraint.
Our eyes made a connection then, just as I had made a connection with the barmaid in the night club. I knew suddenly that I wasn’t going to resist. He knew it too. He relaxed his grip.
“I don’t want to rough you up,” he said in a quiet, sorrowful voice.
“I thought you did.”
“You came here with me because you wanted something from me,” he said.
He backed away from me slowly. He got off the bed completely and stood looking down at me. He was tall. Even though he wasn’t extended to his full height but was stooping slightly with his head bent towards me, he was incredibly tall.
I lay there like a stranded fish. I couldn’t take my eyes off him. He went over to the wardrobe nonchalantly and opened it. He touched a few things, I heard some boxes scraping on the wood. I couldn’t see what he was doing because of the angle. Then he came back to the bed and he was carrying a whip. It wasn’t a long whip like the woman on the stage in the night club had used. It was short and businesslike, like a riding crop.
I was afraid but it was a complex sort of fear. I was excited by it. I didn’t know exactly what was going to happen but I knew there would be pain and I didn’t know if I would be able to endure it. It was an unknown situation. I was unable to escape from it but at the same time I knew I was there through my own choice. The fear had an erotic edge and the eroticism had an element of danger.
“My friend told me people die in that club.” I said.
“I have a friend who I’m staying with in Amsterdam.”
“You don’t live here?”
“Where is your friend?”
“She’s at a wedding.”
He came up to the edge of the bed and knelt down. He reached out an arm slowly. He touched my foot. I drew it away from him and he reached out again and grabbed it, showing those fast reflexes he had shown before. He held it securely but gently in his large fist, the way you might hold a nervous cat.
“Not her own, I hope.”
“Why do you hope that?”
“Because getting married is such a dull thing to do.”
“She might get married one day.”
“Does she have a boyfriend?”
“Yes. They went together.”
“Why didn’t you go with them?”
“I don’t like weddings.”
He gave my foot a gentle squeeze. I was wearing white socks. Suddenly he pulled one off. I twisted my ankles. I thought I could get my feet free but he grabbed my legs and pulled me down the bed towards him. He flipped me over and pressed his palms against my buttocks. I arched my body trying to move back up the bed and he pressed me down again. He pulled off my other sock and I was conscious of the creamy smoothness of the duvet against my bare toes. I stifled a moan. I felt terribly exposed.
He touched my feet, rubbing them gently like an antique dealer rubbing dirt off a brass lamp that he was thinking of buying. I twisted my body so I could look at him.
“Is it true?” I asked him.
“Is what true?”
“That people have died in that club.”
“I don’t know.”
“Your friend is a fantasist,” he told me.
“She believes in fairy tales. Like weddings.”
He reached up and grabbed the waistband of my leather trousers. I resisted his grip. I tried to twist away from him. He took a firm grip on my hips and controlled my movements with a powerful shake of his wrists. His fingers dug underneath me and felt inside the waistband at the front of my trousers. His fingernails scraped the tender flesh of my belly. He tickled and probed, finding the way my trousers were fastened and then he started to yank them open.
I was not going to allow him access. I put up a fight. I could feel his force. I knew that if I resisted strongly he could smash me to pieces, so I resisted in stages, testing him to see how far I could go. I needed to surprise him. If I was too wild too quickly he might strike me with a bitter blow that would crush the life out of me.
He slapped me hard on the buttocks and stood up. I stopped resisting. He slapped me hard again, two, three times. He hadn’t succeeded in undoing the leather jeans. The blows stung but were endurable.
Suddenly I drew my knees up and twisted around so he couldn’t strike me any more. I scooted up towards the pillows, away from him. He was red-faced and panting. He didn’t seem angry but his face was set hard, as though he were prepared for battle.
He picked up the riding crop. For a moment I thought he was going to strike it across my face. I protected my breasts and face with my arms and that’s when he grabbed my legs and pulled me towards him.
This time he was more determined. I could feel more force being used. He flipped me over and reached under and undid my jeans. Before I could offer further resistance, he was pulling them down over my hips and buttocks.
The small thong I was wearing came away with them. He wrenched everything down with decisive force, trapping my legs with the material so that I couldn’t squirm away from him.
He pulled me right off the edge of the bed so my knees touched the floor and I was bent over the edge of the bed. He clamped his massive hands over my buttocks and pressed me down as if trying to glue me to the spot. He was kneading my flesh. His fingers fanned out and tickled between my legs. The combination of force and gentleness sent shivers through me. I squirmed but not deliberately. It was an involuntary reflex. I felt helpless and small.
Then he stood up and there was a moment when I knew I could have rolled over and moved away but I was frozen there as if I really were glued in place.
The next thing I was aware of was sudden, searing pain. I shut my eyes tight. It was blinding pain. Across my buttocks. Something thin and hard had lashed me. The riding crop. Fierce white light glowed under my eyelids.
Another blow. So fierce I was pinned by it. Paralysed. I knew it was in the same place, across my buttocks, but at the same time it was everywhere, like a sickness in my whole body. I clenched my fists. I braced myself for another blow.
Across my legs this time. My thighs. Whipped hard and straight. It was a terrible, terrible pain. Stinging. That was going to be the last. I didn’t want this. I opened my mouth to shout but no words came out. I was like a dead fish, useless, open-mouthed, quivering.
I tried to make a gesture with my hand. Enough. Enough.
He was doing something to my legs. Untying them. He pulled my trousers off. He pulled hard, digging his fingers into me because the leather was tight against my skin. I could feel his nails scratching me, his hard fingers bruising my tender flesh. I rolled off the bed, came crashing down onto the floor. He was lifting up my trousers and my legs. I was so relieved that he wasn’t beating me any more that I let him do it. He could do whatever he liked. I had no resistance.
He held my bare ankles and threw the jeans aside. He was so much bigger than me that I felt I was looking up at a giant. My vision was blurred. The pain was still shooting through me. I was dimly aware of the flesh on my thighs trembling. I felt embarrassed and humiliated.
His hands possessed me. He brought his hands down my legs slowly, working towards my inner thighs. I felt like a mermaid flipping about on the beach. My legs were a useless part of me but they were tingling with raw sensations as if all my nerve-endings were on fire. I strained to look at my open thighs. His hands were crawling towards the dark wisps of hair there. I closed my eyes. I could feel him touching the most sensitive part, very gently, stroking the edge of my lips. A finger tip went in.
I moaned. There was a burning sensation in my chest. I couldn’t breathe. I squirmed away from him.
“You are so wet,” he said.
I moaned again. I couldn’t contradict him. His finger penetrated me deeply.
A flame went through my body and I squeezed hard on his finger.
“You are so wet and so tight. I want to fuck you to death.”
His words scared me. I tried to get away from him but he wouldn’t let me. He grabbed my hips with both hands, brought me closer to him and clamped down hard on my pussy with his mouth as if trying to suck the life out of me. First his tongue and then his fingers penetrated me again and again.
I was trying, trying to get away from him but he was too strong. His passion grew more violent and insistent. He became more animated. His hands were all over my body, pressing against my ribs, tearing at my clothes. He untied my wrists, got my blouse off me and pulled up my vest. He stared greedily at my nipples then bit on them and licked them like a wild dog gobbling at scraps.
He kept me under him with his weight, his warm hands pressing under my frail ribs.
When he stopped I lay panting. He was exhausting me with his passion. Although I had hardly moved, I had been tensing my body while he was kissing me, resisting him and resisting the sensations that coursed terrifyingly through my body.
I lay lifeless on the floor.
I thought perhaps it was over. Maybe he had come in his jeans. Something had happened, I thought. A climax. But I was wrong. He was only removing his clothes.