While the erotica genre is expanding, it's still a divided aisle: formulaic, air-brushed covers with strong-
willed heroines for women, and harder, "grosser" fare for men. The Inferno: Las Vegas dips into a decadent world of intense but not immature sex scenes, identifiable characters and an edgy plot that will appeal to both women and men. But above all, none of its characters ever utter the words "holy cow," "oh my," "baby" or "inner goddess." I hope you enjoy this excerpt.
It was a commitment to stay at the Inferno. All guests had to agree to its contractual terms, and all accepted the financial risks of breaking that contract.
But the deeper levels of the Inferno, including the Incendium, required a contract of a different sort. It required a pactum, a pact. And tonight two initiates -- one man and one woman -- were making this pact in the dark depths far below the glittering, bustling, bright hotel and casino that the Inferno sold to the world.
Guests of the Inferno's upper levels liked to pretend that they were doing something slightly devilish, just a bit naughty and taboo, by staying and playing at the Inferno. They were pathetic. Adventurous singles living it up and vanilla couples trying to reclaim the spark in their long, dull marriages were a necessary evil. Well, at least their money was a necessary evil.
But these human sheep served other purposes, too. They were a legitimate front, a smoke screen, behind which -- or more accurately under which -- the Incendium and other lower levels of the Inferno could safely fulfil its mandate and allow its initiates to maintain their vows. They also provided a selection of subjects that could be used in a variety of ceremonial rites and rituals.
The Incendium's great chamber was dark, as usual, lit only by several candles which dripped red wax down their lengths. The black-robed initiates stood in its center, clutching pentagram pendants and reciting Latin verses they had committed to memory long ago, speaking the words as lovingly as a mother singing to her child.
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It's too easy for us women to convince ourselves to settle for less. We're so helpful and accommodating, so eager to please and afraid of rejection that we're quick to give up the things we need, including when it comes to sex. What we need to see is that doing this will leave us chronically frustrated. While it's true that every relationship requires a certain amount of compromise, going without the things that we really need just doesn't work. We'll end up unhappy in the relationship or resentful toward our partner. The bottom line is, we need to know what we can't live without, sexually, and what we just can't live with. We ignore these non-negotiables at the expense of a fulfilling sex life.
If you can't ask them for what you want in bed, you shouldn't be sleeping with them. Good sex happens when we feel safe and at ease. If we're afraid to ask for something or to tell our partner that we don't like something, sex will never be more than mediocre. This second tip follows from the first one, in that once we identify what we want and don't want, we have to express these things clearly. It's unfair to expect our partner to be a mind-reader and "prove" that they care by somehow knowing what we want without our having to tell them. Healthy sex comes out of healthy communication.
We need to be in touch with our bodies; with what feels good, what feels not so good and what feels wrong. We also really need to stop judging ourselves in terms of our weight and our shape. Only a superficial dope would give us a hard time over our imperfections. If someone makes us feel bad about our physical selves, this is more a reflection of his inadequacies than of our own. Our negative self-talk has to stop. The running commentary on how fat we are, how much cellulite or how many wrinkles we have is guaranteed to kill the mood, often before it even starts. Feeling good about our bodies is crucial if we're going to let go and enjoy ourselves. Being physically self-conscious will keep us from experiencing the joyful abandon of great sex.
In the bad old days, some women were led to believe that the way to get a man to toe the line is to offer sex for good behavior or withhold it when the man has displeased them. Most of us today recognize this as hateful behaviour and a recipe for disaster. Men don't want to be controlled or punished, especially around sex. They don't want to be made to feel like little boys. When we're hurt or angry at our partner, we need to share our feelings with him in an adult way. We can even say that we're too upset for sex, right now. What we mustn't ever do is make him feel like we're deciding when he gets to have sex, based on whether he's been "good" or "bad." On the other hand, using sex as a reward turns us into sex objects and makes sex into a commodity for our partner to "earn." It's no longer two people being intimate or enjoying each other. Commodifying sex makes it into a business transaction and our bodies then become objects for trade.
We might love Fluffy or Rover, but they don't belong in the bedroom when we're being intimate. Our pets are very territorial and could get jealous or want to play, too. Dogs might bark or even growl. Cats might jump onto the bed and start walking around. We can avoid these disasters by remembering to shut the door and leave our four-legged friends outside.
Sex is about connection and intimacy, but also it's about having fun. It can be mind-blowingly great or occasionally, things can go wrong. Having a good sense of humor about sex will keep things in perspective. Being able to laugh at ourselves and at the comical aspects of sex will take the pressure off the whole experience. We might love and adore our partner, but we don't have to be so serious about making love to them. Humour relieves pressure and is a great way to connect.
The best sex is the kind in which each person is trying to please the other one. The sharing in sex is one of the things that make it great. It can be technically amazing, but when one person gets the impression that the other person really isn't there with them, it can ruin the whole experience. What makes someone a fantastic lover is not their technical ability or their repertoire of moves but their attentiveness and their efforts to make their partner happy. When both people show that they really care about meeting their partner's needs, sex becomes something wonderful.
"Satannas dominus terra."
"Infusco ignis Satanas."
A black-hooded priest emerged from the darkness and stood before the initiates. "Had I as many souls as there be stars, I'd give them all for Mephistopheles," he said.
"As would we," responded the initiates.
The priest smiled to himself. They always answered so eagerly, so naively. But soon, the last of their naivety would be burned away, like paper in a great pyre.
The priest held out his right hand and a black-robed figure placed a hot scalpel in it, which the priest then used to cut small lacerations into the palms of both initiates. Neither made a sound or reacted in any measurable way as their blood was collected in a vial by the black-robed figure. Their resolve didn't surprise the priest. He had been caring for these initiates for a long time and they had outstanding potential. They would serve the Inferno well.
"Descensus ad infernos," said the priest.
The silent solemnity of the great chamber was disturbed by the sound of awkward shuffling as two black-robed figures led a man, who was dressed casually in a white shirt and blue jeans, into the chamber to stand before the two initiates. The man was grinning widely with amusement. "Whoa," he said. "You weren't kidding. This is kinky. I fuckin' love it!" He snickered.
As they stood before the sniggering man, the two initiates were disrobed, revealing their nakedness to him. His eyes settled instantly on the woman's breasts and he clapped his hands together before boisterously removing his shirt, jeans and underwear. "You're fuckin' hot," he said to the female initiate.
The next moment, he felt strong hands on his arms as his elbows were quickly twisted behind him and held firmly, painfully, behind his back. He was forced onto his knees on the cold stone floor. "What the fuck," he yelled, but was answered with a blow to the side of his head. It had a quickly sobering effect. He shook his head and looked straight ahead. The woman was gone. Standing before him was the naked form of the male initiate, his genitals at eye level.
The man shook his head in defiance. "No way, no way, man..."
"Down here," said the priest, "a deal is a deal."