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Except

Five o’clock came and he left the office so fast his car clock still said 17:00 when he got in.
He only had to meet Shae at six, so he stopped to buy some flowers and a bottle of wine.

He arrived at her house at 6:03.
She took the flowers in one hand and his hand in the other.
“Come.” She led him to the lounge and dragged him to the couch. He pulled a leg up and she sat between them, her back to him. “Hold me.”
Max’s stilled any questions in his head. ‘What is this about,’ just wouldn’t work now. He simply buried his face in her hair and tried to feel spiritual. At least she wanted him here.
He kept his hands still on her womb. Not hanky-panky time.
They sat in silence through the sunset.
She stood and pulled him up.
“I got pizza, I don’t want to cook tonight.”
She had made a salad to go with the pizza.
They ate in silence.
Something was happening here.
“I want you to do something for me.”
“Yes.”
“I haven’t told you what it is yet.”
“It seems important to you.”
“It is.”
“Then yes.”
“It’s going to hurt me.”
“Yes.”
“And maybe scar me.”
Max paused.
“Excuse me a second.”
He walked into the toilet off the lounge and looked at himself in the mirror. He tried to recall the room and the creature. And the other creature.
He returned. “Yes,” He looked in her eyes, “but can I shower first? Please.”
She laughed. “Yes you can, I need a shower too.”
They showered together. He washed her body with reverence, trying to memorize it with his hands. He shampooed her hair and rinsed it.

He washed quickly while she dried off.

They dressed in gowns and returned to the lounge. She brought them each a glass of wine, he touched his to hers.
They drank in silence, facing each other.

“Wait here,” she walked to the room and shut the door.
Max stared into the night, reminding himself that he was here by choice. All that mattered was this moment. She had managed to drag him into a magical place. No not magical, this was something else…
Ah, yes. Sacred. This was a sacred place.
She returned and held her hand out to him. He took it and followed her to the bedroom.
The candles cast a deep golden light, the room flickered in their glow. Shades flitted in and out of existence, dancing around the room. The bed was covered in a white sheet, stretched tight. On a bedside table sat a tray covered in white cotton cloth.
A pungent incense pervaded the room.

He stopped. This was a temple.

She stood by the tray and beckoned him over.
She point a some slim orange packets. “These are razor blades. Please clean them before using,” she pointed at the alcohol swabs. “This candle is beeswax. It burns hotter than normal candles. You will only use this one on me. You will only cut on my back from here,” she pointed to her shoulder blades, “to here,” just above the small of her back. “I want to bleed. Then you will pour the beeswax into the wounds.”
He nodded. “Same safeword?”
“No safeword tonight.”
He nodded.
“And no sex either.” Again, he nodded.

Release.

This was not about sex. This was not about performance.

Max walked to the bathroom and scrubbed up. It was impossible to close the taps with his elbows. He eventually resorted to using toilet paper to close them. Not ideal.
She was lying naked on the bed, face down.
Should he be naked? The potential of blood on the robe. His flaccid member. Her averted face. He disrobed.

He broke the blade lengthwise in it’s packet. He unwrapped it. He ran his eye along the blade behind the swab. It was no scalpel, but it brought back memories. It would do.
Her hands were folded above her head as if she were awaiting a massage.
He incanted the words, “Blood of my blood.”
It was a mere scratch. No scalpel, this.
He pressed in and dragged down. She gasped.

He watched the rivulet trickle down to her spine and pool in the hollow of her back.
This was not about sex, but he allowed himself the pleasure of dipping his finger into the pool and raising it to his mouth.
So much different to his own blood, this taste.
“This is your flesh, broken for me.”
He cut again. The trickle ran down her side and dripped to the sheet.
He lifted the candle from the bedside. Tilting it to the first wound.
“Ugh.” The first real cry of pain.
It dripped into the wound. Then the other.
Clean the other blade. Forefinger above, thumb and middle finger bracing. Corner in and drag.
“Broken beauty, blessed are you.”
He dragged his finger though the stream and offered it to her. She suckled on his finger.
“Heart of my heart.”
The sensation of her lips were too much, he felt the swelling. He pulled his finger away.

The next cut was deeper. This wound was enthusiastic in its profusion. He staunched it quickly with the candle. It persisted and he pressed his thumb to it. After a few minutes it quietened.
It was a strange substance, this blood.
He turned her over. The coagulating blood would stain the sheet. Artifact of the evening, if not art.
Her eyes were closed. He stroked the blade across her neck. There was no temptation to press. Only the opportunity.

He bowed his head in supplication.

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