Authors: Nicole Dreadful
One afternoon she called up the image of her eldest brother and found him not in her father's office, nor in any of the family's warehouses. Instead he sat in a little kitchen with a curly haired boy on his knee, while a dark skinned woman moved about on some culinary chore. Beauty recognized the woman. She had come to the back door of their house in town and caused a tremendous uproar. Everyone was upset, and no one would tell young Beauty why. Even Daniel, who had always been a reliable source for information that adults didn't want to tell her, had been close-lipped, and Beauty had never learned the woman's story.
But now here she was, and Elliott sat beside her, burying his face in the little boy's hair. The woman finished her work at the stove and sent the boy out of the room before coming to Elliot with a warm smile. He put his arms around her waist and laid his face against her belly. It was a tender gesture from her hard-faced brother, a softer side that Beauty hadn't seen in many years.
The woman ran her hands through Elliot's hair, smiling at his upturned face, and then bending down to kiss him. Their faces pressed together as she sank in his grasp to sit on his knee where the child had been a minute before. There was a brief moment as they pulled apart, and Beauty saw a dark, almost feral, look in Elliot's eye before he pulled the woman to him again. She came willingly, easily, her full lips parted to meet him.
The kiss stretched on while Elliot's hands roved from her waist to her breasts, caressing and squeezing the woman's body. She wore no corset, nothing so tight as the dresses that Beauty's sisters laced themselves into, and he slipped his hand beneath the fabric to cup one breast. Now he moved his mouth from hers, running a trail of kisses along her jaw and down her neck to the shadowed hollow of her throat while his fingers pulled her breast free, playing over the pert nipple.
The woman tipped her head back, a sleek smile growing on her lips as Elliot's mouth moved lower. Though Beauty could not hear it, she saw the woman's moan of pleasure at the touch and felt a flush creeping up her own cheeks as her brother began to suck on the taut brown nipple.
The woman put her hand to the back of Elliot's head, pressing him close as he pulled his mouth away, letting her nipple slide through his lips, then returning to swirl his tongue over it. With his hand, he kneaded her other breast gently, and the woman, Beauty saw, pressed a hand down, between Elliot's legs, rubbing at the growing bulge in his pants.
Just when it seemed that Elliot would pull her second breast free, the woman directed his mouth back upwards to his. At the same moment, she moved to straddle him on the chair, her skirts making a colorful froth over both their legs, and hiding her hand sliding down between them. Now Elliot was arching forward at her touch, reaching with one hand to cup her ass and pull her hips to him while the other worked her second breast free. The woman rocked her hips against him, grinding their bodies together. She let Elliot suckle at one breast and then the other, her hands tangled in his hair. When he slipped a hand up her bare thigh, under her skirt, her whole body spasmed, and the woman abruptly pulled his face back to hers, kissing him hungrily.
She should look away, Beauty thought, call up the image of one of her sisters in the mirror, but she did not. Instead she watched as her brother stood up, the woman's legs wrapped around his waist and her arms about his neck, their faces still connected in a passionate kiss. The mirror followed them as Elliot carried her to a small bedroom, where he laid her down on the bed. The woman lay on her back, hiking up her skirts to her waist while Elliot pulled off his shirt and fumbled with his pants.
He knelt over her exposed body to lick and kiss at the soft folds of skin between her legs, making her twitch and spasm again, lifting her hips to his face. He did not linger, but moved up her body to her breasts, laving them with his tongue, while a hand between her legs kept her writhing beneath him. Soon the woman pulled his head to hers and wrapped her legs around him again, pulling him closer, and then all that Beauty could see was her brother's backside, the muscles moving in ways she had not known were possible. She let the image fade and slipped the ring back on her finger, feeling her heart beating quickly in her breast.
Beauty had picked up a few things, here and there, about how children were made. More than once she had surprised lovers in the country fields until she learned to avoid certain secluded spots while riding. It had always seemed a hurried, huffing affair, and she'd never wanted any part in whatever they'd been doing half naked in the grass. But now she wondered what it would be like to be touched the way that Elliot had touched his lover. Again she felt a flush of confusion and shame, for she didn't want to hold her brother in her mind as her imaginary lover.
She lay down on the bed, letting her hands wander beneath her shirt and loose pants as her mind wandered through the male faces she knew. She had met any number of men during her visit to town, but none of her brothers' friends had struck her particularly, nor any of the young men courting Angeline. She thought of the face in the portrait gallery, next to "Aunt Margaret." He was handsome enough, though she'd never cared for the haughty look on his face. It had been several weeks since she had been in the portrait gallery, though, and her memory softened his look. It wasn't haughty, only very serious, and she imagined him watching her body until it changed to a look of slow approval, and she felt it was his hands glissading down her ribs and skimming over her breasts.
She pulled her shirt off, letting the cool air play over her skin. Her nipples grew hard as she pinched and pulled at them experimentally, wondering what it would be like to feel a mouth there, a tongue running secret patterns over her skin, to have someone else's hands on her body. In answer to this wish, she felt the soft touch of the invisible hands, gently squeezing her breasts. Beauty was startled, for although she had grown used to their help when she dressed or bathed, she'd never felt them touch her like this. But, then, she'd never asked.
The invisible hands had drawn away, responding to her confusion, but now she coaxed them back, wishing to be touched, wanting to experience the sensations. They obliged her, gently at first, but then more boldly as her thoughts grew bolder. Hands caressed her breasts and tweaked her nipples, ran feather light fingers down her sides, and made brief excursions below the waist of her pants until she wriggled out of those as well and lay naked on the wide bed.
She felt a warm tingle between her legs and brazenly wished to be touched there, too. The invisible hands stroked down her belly, curving along her outer thighs, teasing her until she parted her legs and stretched her own hand to her secret center.
It was slick and wet, she found, sliding her fingers over the soft folds. The touch felt good, and she soon found the nexus of her pleasure, a delicate nubbin of flesh that slid back and forth beneath her fingers and made her whole body ache and shiver. The invisible hands continued their caresses as well, until she squirmed on the bed. The pleasant tingle grew and tightened into a coil of energy holding her body taut and lifting her hips upwards.
When the invisible touch reached between her legs into hidden depths she hadn't known she had, Beauty couldn't help but cry out with pleasure. She felt the fingers pushing inside her, again and again while she pressed hard with her own hand, arching her back as all her muscles tensed--and then she fell back to the mattress, a great wave of pleasured sensation rushing over her body.
When it had passed, she lay on the bed, one damp hand on her belly. The invisible hands withdrew, leaving her in a warm daze. She bit her lip, wondering if the Beast had heard her cry, wherever he spent his days. Suppose he had come running, and found her there, naked as she'd been born. Or suppose he'd been there all along, invisible as well. She flushed at the thought, but she remembered the beginning of her fantasy, feeling the gaze of the man from the portrait gallery on her bare skin. It wasn't an unpleasant thought to be watched, even if by the Beast. Perhaps, she thought, perhaps the invisible hands touched him while he imagined that she watched.
Later, she walked through the portrait gallery on her way to the library, and looked at the face of the man she had adopted as her phantom lover. He did look less arrogant to her now, and she smiled to herself and blew him a kiss before she continued on her way.
The days slipped by. Beauty was pleased with her discovery, but she wondered what it would be like to be kissed. A hand and a mouth, after all, were two different things, and the touch of lips would be different than fingers. If only Elliot hadn't interrupted the man at the wedding--but she remembered the wine on his breath, and was glad that he hadn't been her first kiss.
She also thought of the Beast's request to kiss her, and worried it over in her mind. Should she say yes, what might he ask her next? Could his great paws touch her as gently as the invisible hands? He was too much tooth and claw, she thought, and her father's words came to mind: the Beast might hurt her without trying, without knowing. But a cat could sheath its claws to play gently, and she remembered the silky fur of the barn cats at the cottage and the tickling feel of whiskers when one of them sniffed her face delicately. If she let the Beast kiss her, Beauty thought, it might feel the same.
She could not forget the Beast's riddle either, though he hadn't mentioned it again. It followed quickly on these frequent thoughts of kissing, but she had already decided she would never solve it. Each time she wondered, why would the Beast like to kiss me? she immediately thought, not because I'm pretty, for that answer's too obvious and too vain, and moved on to other thoughts.
The Beast often asked after her family, and she had told him nearly everything about them, even his status among them as "Aunt Margaret." Though she did not recount all she had seen, Beauty told him of Elliot with the woman and child, who she felt must be her nephew. She divined in her vision the reason for her brother's unhappiness at the wedding, and repeated his words to the Beast: "lucky in love, unlucky in life."
The Beast tilted his shaggy head to one side thoughtfully and said, "He must have been very sad, when you lived in the country, to be parted from her."
"If he was," Beauty replied, "I never would have noticed, for I was always playing out of doors. But I think she must be a dancing girl, for Elliot and Daniel were always gone to entertainment houses, when we lived in town."
"There are certainly entertainment houses full of nothing but dancing girls," the Beast said.
"For horizontal dancing," Beauty said glibly, for she had found the meaning in Elliot's other comment at the wedding and felt rather proud of the knowledge.
The Beast stared at her with his yellow eyes wide, two great shining orbs of surprise. "Yes," he said finally. "Indeed. For horizontal dancing."
Soon it was winter again, and the day came when Beauty had lived at the manor for a full year.
"May I walk with you in the gardens tomorrow?" the Beast asked. "I would like to show you something."
Beauty agreed immediately. She had never yet seen the Beast during the day, only during their evening conversations, and she was curious by nature.
The Beast met her at the steps in front of the manor house. Although she thought she had explored the garden in its entirety, he led her to an area she had never seen before, where a little brook ran between velvet green banks, spanned by a delicate wooden bridge. As they crossed over, she caught sight of a rose arbor, covered over with blooms of red and white and pink. Beneath the arbor were several long benches, and silken cushions scattered about.
"I thought you might read here," the Beast said gruffly. "It is my present to you."
Beauty sat down among the cushions and stretched out her legs. The stream burbled and sparkled in the sun, and the air was heavy with the scent of the roses. "It's perfect," she said. "Thank you." She reached out a hand to touch the fresh wood of the arbor. "Did you make it?"
He bowed his huge head, suddenly shy. "I planted the roses not long after you first arrived."
Beauty looked around at the well-trained bushes climbing over the arbor, and thought of all the flowers and trees in the extensive gardens around the manor. "You planted all the gardens," she suggested.
"Not all," he said. "But many of them."
"Will you read here with me?"
The Beast shook his head and held out one large paw. "I cannot handle a book," he said.
"I could read to you," she offered.
At first the Beast refused, but when she offered again during their evening conversation, he agreed, and Beauty began to read to him for an hour each morning in the rose arbor. She had begun to wear dresses more often, and occasionally the Beast complimented her. Sometimes, when he thought her attention was on the book, she caught him looking at her in a way that made her skin warm and reminded her of her speculations on kisses.
One morning she looked up from the book and blurted out, "You're a man." The Beast started from his listening reverie. "The answer to your riddle," Beauty said. "You want to kiss me because you're not a beast; you are a man."
He cried out as she spoke and toppled from the cushioned bench. Beauty let the book fall and went to his side, but he had begun to thrash and kick, and she was afraid his claws would slash her. "Beauty," he cried out as she drew back, "don't leave me!"