Smut Marathon 2019: Voting Round 7

We have arrived in the second part of the marathon – the knockout phase. As from this round, those writers who end up at the bottom of the rankings will be knocked out of the marathon, regardless of the points they have accumulated in the first six rounds. By the time we reach the tenth round, only eight writers will be competing to be the winner of this year’s edition of the Smut Marathon.

The assignment

Just like the 2018 marathon this year we also used an image as a prompt for a story. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and where the writers were not allowed to write that many words, they have crafted some lovely stories, using one of Molly Moore’s images.

Image of lock on a fence by Molly Moore

The assignment was:

Use the attached image as inspiration for your story.

Specific requirements:
– In the image you see the names ‘Jack and Lindsey’. You don’t have to use these names in your story.
– Your story is between 700-750 words. No less, no more.
– Give your story a title of 2-4 words (this is not part of the word count required)

What should you do now?

Read all entries – you have a week to do so – and vote for the three stories you like most. You have to vote for three – no less, no more. Don’t forget to click the ‘Finish Survey’ button when you have made your choice!

Please note:

  • Writers are not allowed to tell anyone which entry they have written!
  • You can only vote once.
  • The voting round closes on 16 August 2019 at 23.00 CET
  • Results of the voting round will be published on this site on 18 August 2019 and then I will announce the author of each metaphor.

One last thing

I know it’s a lot to read and even more to ask, but it would be lovely if you could leave as much feedback as possible on the entries, or to make it more manageable, please leave feedback on the three entries you chose as well as three entries you have not chose. Make sure your feedback is composed in such a way that the writers can learn something from it. This will be highly appreciated.

Enjoy reading and start voting!

~ Marie Rebelle


1) The Asshole

I’d run out of time. “Shit! Fuck! Fuck!” I said under my breath.

I grabbed my clothes left in a trail from the door to the bed and raced to get dressed in my fancy work clothes with the gazillion fucking buttons.

“It’ll be ok,” he said through a smile and a long, languid stretch. “Just leave those undone.” He motioned to my collared shirt which hung open as I leaned over to buckle my shoes.

I rolled my eyes and smiled back. “Fuck you,” I laughed.

It was actually code for, “I love you” – and I’m pretty sure he knew – but I hadn’t been able to say it just yet.

Clothes fully on, I kissed him on the mouth, the scent of my pussy on his skin, and he ran his hand up my bare thigh beneath my skirt and pushed my panties aside. His long fingers probed me until I ended the goodbye kiss.

“See ya,” I said as I walked out of his sunlit bedroom on the third floor of his walk-up. Back to my office desk and the real world of a thousand responsibilities, back to needy children and back to a loving, devoted husband who put a lock on a bridge for us.

“See ya.”

The thought that I was a complete asshole crossed my mind and something about having my cake and eating it too.

The rest of my day was a blur. I felt him leaking out of me and his aroma filled my nostrils as I thought of all I had to do until the day was over.

When I closed my eyes I saw his amber gaze boring into mine and the curls around his face shiver with each powerful thrust into me. What the fuck was I doing with a man almost half my age whose idea of “classic rock” was Depeche Mode and who wore a beanie even in the summer? Fucking. That’s what I’ve been doing.

The first time I gave myself permission after 18 years of fidelity to taste the forbidden fruit of his kisses, then his cock, then lower to his warm, pendulous sac, and finally then on to savor his tight little hole, I swelled with power. My entire body vibrated with glee when he skull-fucked me that afternoon and tears streamed down my cheeks leaving little tracks of proof that I was, indeed, still alive.

Denying myself this fundamental joy was unnatural, I liked to tell myself in the early days of our affair – usually as I straightened my hair and reapplied my makeup. What my husband didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him.

And then, over many months and many buckets of cum and screams and claw marks down his lithe, young back, I finally admitted to myself that I was just a giant asshole. I also decided that I could live with that.

I could live with that because it was worth it to have him fill me with his cock while he reached around to play with my asshole. It was worth it to be bound and used and told what a good little slut I was. It was worth it to feel his soft, wet mouth all over my 47 year old body with all the scars and stretch marks and pale neglect I’d inflicted upon it.

I had given him everything I had that no one else seemed to want. My craven desires and my silly neediness only made him want to play harder. It felt like running down a hill into a pile of pillows. This couldn’t fail.

I looked up at the clock and swore again. I was going to be late getting home and I was going to get hell for it. Shit! Fuck! Fuck! I sped along the roads as if shaving a minute off of my lateness would appease my husband.

I pulled up to our house, beautiful in its details, the little lawn and the warm lights glowing from within and felt that old familiar weight in my heart, like that lock. It might as well be a miniature Barbie-prison, my albatross, my own undoing.

I walked up to the front door and took a breath before I turned the knob and walked through. He was there across the way washing the dinner dishes, his back to me. I assumed the kids were upstairs doing whatever teenagers did – gross things, probably.

“Jack,” I said. “I’m sorry I’m late.”


2) Locked in Love’s Embrace

The bridge over the river Seine was not yet known for its locks, but something happened when Mille and Claude left their own small metal contraption. The lock clicked, and Mille knew something was different. Claude gave her a small vial of her favorite scent to remember him by when they pledged their love before Claude went off to fight in the war. That afternoon, she knew she belonged to him forever, mind, body, and soul. As they walked away, part of her spirit detached. It stayed with the lock on the bridge, swaying in the sensual heat of the Paris summer afternoon.

In those days, Mille’s spirit thrived on love. Every time a new lock clicked against the metal posts, she grew stronger and happier. She spent her time floating above the river filled with the love left there by strangers, waiting patiently for the day her lover would come home from the war. Her body, still working and living in the neighborhood, frequently came by to bask in the glow of her love for Claude.

Years later, her spirit was soaring over the river, smiling at the lovers walking hand in hand across the bridge, and her world came crashing down. She smelled the faint scent of the cologne he gave her and felt terror as the love of her life was wrenched from her. The wind grew severe and cold, and her heart cried out, “Claude!” A storm carried the scream across the city like a blast, rocking everything with its ferocity.

He was gone. Their connection, the years of waiting for him, cut off with no warning. All Mille had left was the sharp pain of her loss. Her days on the bridge became cold and shadowy. She no longer thrived on the love of the locks. Instead, she drowned herself in sorrow and filled the emptiness in her heart with lust: beautiful spirits, hers for the taking. She satisfied her grief by taking from them whatever passion they would give.

That one time she enjoyed the spirit of a porn star, his cock well trained and enthusiastic. The sweet sensual coupling with the broken heart of another war widow. Her breasts lush, full, and so delicious in Mille’s mouth. That sexy older man. She knew when he thrust deep inside her; he was thinking of his wife because she was thinking of Claude. Delicious wet vulvas, pulsing against one another, gasping with loud orgasms, shook the bridge and made people in the earthly dimension feel the heat of lust and wonder why they suddenly felt so flirtatious. Cocks, long hard and beautiful, filled her, satisfying her craving, but only temporarily. She always wanted more.

The days of lust turned into ages. The ’50s brought bored homemakers wearing nothing but aprons and their desire. And oh, the hippies, no one caring who’s cock was in whom, or which wet hole was filled. There was a punk rocker with blue hair and his curvy pink-haired girlfriend coupling in an angry threesome — a grunge rocker with long wavy hair and guitars in his heart. No-one satisfied her. Her spirit still longed for Claude.

Eventually, she felt a change. The scent of her cologne wafted by and her host body gave way, freeing her from this earth. But she had nowhere to go because her heart continued to cling to Claude’s lock on the bridge. Many years passed, filled with lust and longing but never love. Claude was lost to her, and she’d never feel love again.
It was another humid summer day when she smelt the fresh scent of her perfume once again. Everything in her spirit tingled. A glow of sensation centered on a young man standing by the river, gripping a lock in his hand. Claude! Could it be? Her spirit raced to his side, the scent growing stronger, almost overwhelming her.

He looked up startled but then smiled. A gorgeous young woman walked towards him, beaming with love. Mille acted without thought, her spirit doing what had to be done. She raced towards the woman and threw herself against her, releasing the girl’s soul and replacing it with her own. She reached out to Claude and said, “You’re late!” He replied, “Hmm, you smell great!” When they kissed, passion reignited. Mille’s love blossomed again. The scent of their eternal love wafted in the wind and locked the other young woman to the bridge in Mille’s place.


3) Cutting Loose

“Are you certain, Ell? If I do this, there’s no going back.”

I looked down, into the eyes of the only man who ever loved me. “There never was. Not to him. Do it, please.”

I held my breath as he squeezed. Not because I was scared. I was, I was terrified, but I wouldn’t let that control me. I wouldn’t let anything, or anyone, control me again. I relished the opportunity to hold my own breath, for that to be my choice. And I wanted to hear the snick of freedom when the jaws sliced through metal.

Jack caught the padlock as it fell. That was the second thing I noticed about him when we met: his slim, dexterous hands. The first was his smile. I didn’t see many smiles back then.

He flirted with me, that first time. Only that time. We met again, a week later, at another of my husband’s work affairs, and he noticed the bruises. He understood.

Other people saw, I’m sure. Men and women. But Jack was the only one who said anything. He was a lot of onlys: the only person who called me Ell, the only man who laughed at my tedious stories, the only voice to tell me I could be more than I was, the only hands to touch me with love since my wedding, the only lips ever to kiss mine with undemanding tenderness. My only future.

Jack made a point of talking to me—never for too long—whenever we bumped into each other. We began bumping into each other often. We had an almost platonic affair, I suppose: brief embraces and snatched kisses in supermarket aisles. No more than that, because of the belt.

When I told him what I wanted, and why it couldn’t happen, he didn’t say anything. He nodded, and we pushed our carts in opposite directions like always, like we were strangers.

The next day he turned up at my door holding a plane ticket, wanting to know if I had access to my passport. I could go home, he said. No pressure, no obligation. His gift to a good friend.

I asked him to buy another ticket.

He tossed the broken padlock into the wastepaper basket. I worried about what the maid would think when she emptied it in the morning. I don’t worry so much now, but I was still anxious then, especially as he unbuckled the belt. He’d see how ugly I was down there. He’d change his mind, he’d send me back to the monster.

“Oh, Ell! Such a beautiful pussy. May I kiss it?”

“No!” I didn’t believe him. I would, eventually, but not then. “I should shower, I need to shave, and besides it’s still dayli—”

He picked me up, carried me to the bed and set me down. “I won’t if you don’t want me to. I hope you know that. But I’d like to. Please.”

Do you remember the first time someone lay with their head between your legs, their warm breath almost chilling you because you were so hot? The goose pimples when they kissed your thighs, their lips softer than your skin? Shivering as their fingers traced your shape for their tongue to follow? The first time you felt devotion?

I do. I remember everything. I remember stiffness, and tension, and screwing my eyes shut, praying it would end soon. And I remember surprise, and pleasure, and whispering his name, floating on bliss, wishing it could last forever. It got easier, but it never got better than that first time.

I don’t think the maid noticed the padlock. She was probably distracted by the state of the sheets, and the stiff towel, and so many condom wrappers.

We should have slept, but we went for a walk after breakfast. When he said he wanted to buy a padlock, I panicked. It was the only clumsy thing he’s ever done. If I hadn’t been lost in memories of the night before I might have noticed we were passing a railing festooned with locks, each one a declaration of love and security.

After he’d explained, we found an engraver and added our own declaration. It’s traditional to throw the key away. He gave ours to me, and I’ve kept it, for five years. It’s in a drawer somewhere, I think. I don’t know; I don’t need it.

Ell. Jack says it’s “short for Lindsey and love.” But in my head, it’s short for liberated.


4) The Game

He knew it was what I wanted. We’d talked about it for so long after all. He knew it was important to me, but he was still choosing to tease me.

‘What do you think?’

Harry looked infuriatingly proud of himself. More infuriating because he looked so damn hot when he was smug and he knew it.

‘I’m supposed to pick?’

‘No. You’re supposed to guess.’

He had brought me to the bridge in the neighbouring town that was weighed down by hundreds of padlocks – large ones with engraved names or more delicate ones that barely fitted over the wire.

As we walked, Harry running his hands over the different sized padlocks, he handed me a parcel wrapped in brown paper. Inside was a collar. It was perfect – made of the softest leather, it was a deep midnight blue that matched my eyes. It was everything I’d wanted.

Except there was no way to close it. The clasp had been replaced by two rings with no mechanism to hold them together.

‘I’ve hidden the lock somewhere on this bridge.’ Harry told me, ‘I want to give you a collar. I want to claim you and own you and show the whole fucking world that you’re mine, but I don’t want to just give it to you. I want to play a game first.’

He pulled a small box out of his pocket.

‘The key is in here. I can give it to you now if you wanted and tell you where the lock is. Or…’

I don’t think I’ve ever felt so torn. Seeing the beautiful collar that Harry had chosen for me made me want to wear it straightaway, to feel it circling my neck and holding me, displaying my love and his ownership, but I was intrigued.

‘Or?’

‘Or you can wait. I’ll give you clues when you’re good and we can come back next week. If you guess first time, I’ll give you the key. If not, we wait another week and you can work for more clues.’

A shiver ran through me.

‘So I’d have to earn it? It’d be like a competition?’

Damn, this guy was good. He knew me almost too well.

~

Later, as he held me over his knee, Harry reminded me of our deal.

‘Count them for me, my love. The higher you go, the better the clue.’

Starting slow and gentle but building to blows that shook me to my core, I gasped out each number in order.

‘8…9…10…’

Bathing in pain and pleasure and endorphins as he worked, I counted higher until tears flowed from my eyes and all the tension had been knocked from me. I felt free.

Scooping me into his arms, Harry comforted and praised me until I recovered.

And then he handed me a map, with labels in code.

~

The next day, under the watchful eye of my camera, I slid the glass dildo deep inside me. The shock of the cold made me tense, exaggerating the swell of pleasure I’d built by stroking my clit with my thumb. Alternating between playing with my nipples and my clit, I worked the dildo in and out, feeling its inflexible length against my G-spot until I thought I might explode.

He had asked to see me come and the knowledge that he would watch this later made it feel like he was watching now. Looking into the lens, looking straight at him, I rubbed my clit harder until I came, a gush of ecstasy that washed through my whole body.

‘Good girl.’ His text arrived a few hours later and I flushed with pleasure again.

And he sent another clue – a maths problem. I had enough to work it out now.

~

I walked confidently onto the bridge, looking back to check he was following. Counting along the fence panels, I came to the one his clues had suggested.

There, hidden among the others, was a small silver padlock. It was decorated with engravings of vines and leaves, and reminded me of secret gardens or lost towers in fairy stories. It was beautiful. I reached for it, running my thumb over the raised patterns.

‘Good choice.’ His eyes were alight as he handed me the key to free the padlock.

Lifting the collar from its package, Harry looped it around my neck and hooked the lock into place. It closed with a satisfying click and he placed the key into his wallet.

‘Now you’re mine.’


5) Property of Miss Trixie

‘Your new cage has arrived, but the lock doesn’t fit, so we need to find one that does.’

I was filled with melancholy at the news that the old lock did not fit. Yes, there would be a new lock, but not the same lock that had made my cock twitch each time it had clicked into place. Nor would it be undone by the key she wore around her neck. Teasing me as it dangled above her breasts, every day, for two years regardless of whether I was locked or not. The lock felt like it meant more to me than the cage and I felt ridiculous but at the same time totally crestfallen.

‘Come on loverboy, Miss Trixie is taking you on an adventure.’

It was a little later than we’d normally head out, a few days after the arrival of the new cage, but her tone of command and use of her D/s handle saw me eagerly joining her in the car. As I obediently drove towards our destination her fingers stroked my thigh and with relish, she revealed only lingerie lay beneath her coat. My own situation was cock not caged, and her breath was irresistibly hot against my ear. Her words trickled sweetly into my mind. Causing my cock to ache deliciously with an erection that pushed awkwardly against my zipper by the time we exited the car and continued by foot onto Lover’s Bridge.

‘I have one surprise for you, one job for you and one announcement. ’

The surprise was the old lock. Making our visit to Lover’s Bridge much clearer. Freshly engraved it read ‘Miss Trixie 4 loverboy 4eva’ meaning it would fit in perfectly alongside all the other locks that graced the wire panels of the bridge.

‘You can fix the lock in place and I will take care of the key.’

I fixed the lock into position and she removed the key from her necklace, dropping it into the river flowing beneath the bridge. The understanding and love that came from her making this gesture was a wonderful thing, but still part of me ached. The new lock had not arrived on time and hence the new cage had not been used. In the absence of a new beginning, I felt bereft as we said goodbye to something that facilitated so many arousing moments.

As I turned away from the river to face her, she began to unbutton her coat. In the dim streetlights, lingerie revealed, I could see the cool autumn breeze creating goosebumps along her flesh. Instinctively my hands pulled her into my warmth and as my mouth peppered kisses against her neck, she reached into her coat pocket and pulled out a condom; reminding me that there was a job to be done.

She knew what she wanted, her hands gripped the wooden handrail that ran across the length of the bridge, as her arse pushed backwards, her fingers nimbly pulling her knickers to one side, her coat flipped upwards but not removed. Her brazen desire to fuck out in the open rubbed off on me, and my erection was soon freed from my trousers and aware that she was not looking for a slow, sensual build-up on this occasion, I slid into her, tip to balls deep in a single thrust.

She moaned breathlessly into the growing darkness as we fucked. My hands on her hips, her name falling from my lips between groans of pleasure. Her own hand fell to her clit and I basked in the sensation of her grinding against my cock for her own indulgence. We were like wild beasts, fucking out in the open with frenzied need. She came hard and fast, but as soon as her orgasm had subsided she pulled away, her hand switching from clit to cock. With a deftness I always admired, she began to claim her second orgasm.

‘When this is over and your balls are empty and your cock is soft, you’re going into the new cage, with the new lock and this time, you’ll be wearing more often, for longer’

I heard her words, the announcement, and the promise of prolonged chastity pushed me over the edge. The condom filled with spunk, her tongue filled my mouth, her words filled my head and love for her filled my heart as she slipped the new lock into my hand and I saw through bleary eyes that it too was engraved …

Property of Miss Trixie.


6) Only in Paris

I only loved her in Paris.

I can’t think of the city without thinking of her chestnut hair and calm confidence. We went in college, on a group trip, and bonded over rolling our eyes at the boys playing at being men.

Our affair started almost immediately, and it was a first for me — a foreign city and kissing another woman. What was frightening was how natural it felt. Holding hands, walking through the Louvre, showing each other our favorite pieces of art.

I remember how I let go of her hand when our friends came around and how wounded she looked.

The next day she brought me to a bridge and showed me a shiny new copper padlock. I saw thousands of locks on the railing.

“I think maybe we’ll only have love here-” she started, but her voice broke.

My eyes welled up.

“It’s like that movie, right ‘we’ll always have Paris.’ We’ll put our lock on this bridge, and it will keep our love safe here.”

I kissed her, and I was swallowed up by the smell of her hair and the taste of her lips. We cried together and walked until the sunset.

Years later, I got an email. Her name on my phone, making me spill my coffee. It was an article: “Paris to remove locks from Pont des Arts bridge.”

Under it, she wrote: “we need to go back.”

I didn’t even think about it. I just bought tickets.

Weeks later, I got out of a cab from Charles de Gaulle to see a thinner, hipper, version of the girl I’d known in a hotel lobby. Skinny jeans and a leather jacket. Her brown hair was short and stylishly disheveled. I felt mousy but tried to walk tall. Her eyes lit up when she saw me.

“You got curves,” she said, and I noticed redness in her cheeks. It made me flush and stammer.

“You got-um-hotter,” I said back, and we laughed.

We’d hardly seen each other, even in school, but there had been letters. I held my breath, and she mercifully kissed me. The kiss I’d dreamed about.

She took my bags, and for the first time, I realized we were staying in the same room. That initial affair had been kissing and long walks, but now we were adults, and the thought made my heart race.

In our room, the intimacy of being alone with her frightened and exhilarated me. She helped me put away my things and talked about getting lunch, going back to the spots we remembered. Then, somehow, we were kissing again, falling to the bed.

She was on top of me, pressing down against me, her soft lips contrasting with her intense hunger. My hands went under her black t-shirt, hunting for more of her. She pulled off her shirt, her body lean and muscular, her breasts small and pretty.

I kissed her neck, then fumbled with my dress. She helped. I saw her hands were shaking.

“I-I’ve never-” I whispered.

Her smile was big and dashing.

“I have a feeling you’ll figure it out,” she said, taking off my dress, finally.

Her eyes were wide as she looked at me, and I saw such reverence, need, lust in her gaze.

She wrapped her arms around me, and we kissed, skin on skin, so much more than I even knew I needed.

“It feels like I’ve been dreaming about fucking you for a hundred years,” she whispered into my neck.

Our kisses became more and more desperate and wild. She was on top of me again, and she took my hands in hers and held them over my head.

“Is this okay?”

I nodded vigorously.

Her hand moved to my wrists, holding me down, her knee slipping between my legs, pressing against me.

“This?”

I nodded, and her smile grew wide and wolfish.

Hours later, sore and giddy, we laid naked in bed eating room service and sipping champaign. I got a little box from my bags and put it on the bed in front of us.

“What’s this?”

I took out two little necklaces, each with a tiny gold lock.

“I’m not a scared girl anymore. If we can’t have our lock here, we’ll have to take it with us.”

“Back to America?”

“Anywhere.”

She smiled and kissed me again.

We’d always have Paris, but we’d give having more a try too.


7) In Time

“It’s still there you know.”

Lyndsey looks at me, her green eyes bright against the charred landscape.

“What is?”

“The padlock.” I point to the warped and rusted chain-link fence on the promenade below. Entire cities were scorched by the catastrophic solar flare that wiped out much of the population two years before, yet somehow the small section of fence at the lookout where we hung our lock remains intact. “Remember when we thought the council was the only thing that threatened its existence?”

Lyndsey surveys the area, taking in the blackened trees, the ruined benches and the brittle bones that litter the ground, prodding one gingerly with the toe of her boot.

“It is strange. Not much else seems to have made it this far.”

I nod.

“That’s why we’re here: to remember all of it – the good and the bad.”

She leans against me, her cheek resting against my shoulder.

“It used to be so beautiful. Do you remember the birds?”

“The little wrens with arrows for tails?”

“Yes. The wind would pick up and toss them like leaves over the escarpment, but they always came bustling back: tiny bodies gleaming above the water.”

I run a hand through her hair, comparing the memory to the stark grey landscape around us. Where once the ocean was clear and blue, it has been choked by ash and debris, the water thick like black blood. The animals have fled, the only movement coming from the branches of the gum trees as they creak in the dry wind.

“You make it sound like a scene from a movie.”

“It was,” she replies, “though not everything was fit for the screen.”

Despite the horrors we have witnessed, a light blush rises to her cheeks and I know she is thinking of how we spent our time when last we were here. I can still recall the first glimpse of her freckled skin as she laid beneath me – the chequered picnic blanket doing little to protect us from the uneven ground – and the way that she gasped as I teased a nipple through her shirt.

“I was so damn nervous that day,” I say, guiding her toward an outcropping of rock so that we can sit and look out over our ruined haven.

“Were you?” she responds. “You seemed quite in control.”

I kiss her lightly on the nose.

“You just didn’t notice ‘cause you were nervous too.”

“No I wasn’t!”

“Oh really?” I grin at her bravado. “I reckon I can still make you tremble at my touch.”

She fixes me with her best ‘try me’ face and I kiss her mouth in response. Her tongue meets mine and I ease her onto her back, my hands peeling back the layers of clothing until her underwear is exposed. I rest one hand upon her sex, gently massaging her clit through the fabric then shift the cup of her bra with my other hand and take a nipple in my mouth.

Lyndsey gasps like she did when last we were here and my erection grows tight against my jeans. I alternate nipples, sucking them until they’re hard, then slip a finger inside her. Her cunt is warm and welcoming. I arch up and free my cock, ready to take her once more but she stills me with a hand on my chest.

“We shouldn’t do this here, Jack,” she whispers, “it’s not respectful.”

“I know,” I reply.

I watch her, waiting for further protest then slide myself inside.

She shudders as I enter, body rising to meet mine. I start slowly, each stroke measured so that I can feel her muscles clench around my cock.

“Would you like me to stop?” I ask.

She shakes her head and I increase my rhythm, feeling her body loosen as I thrust deeper inside. The stale breeze does little to cool us as I work, sweat coating my frame, but I know Lyndsey is close to coming when small tremors shake her abdomen. I pound her harder then hold myself in place as she orgasms, her body grinding against my shaft.

Her ecstasy goads mine and I fuck her faster until I come too, filling her with my seed. We collapse upon one another, bodies intertwined, and she loops a finger in my hair.

“What the fuck was that?” she asks.

“A promise,” I reply, looking out over the wasteland, “that we will endure just like that damn padlock.”


8) Bite Me

Fog swirled thick and concealing in the streets that night. She’d flung the wrought-iron gate back with an echoing clang, and fled, unseeing, along the footpath on a collision course.

I stayed her balance, holding her petite, yet softly curved body against mine, and she didn’t resist. In fact, she clung to me and in the meager gaslight, tears streaked her plump, pink cheeks.

My cock and my fangs stirred.

A distraught innocent. Such easy prey. So different from the women I usually sought to assuage my carnal needs, and feed from to maintain my strength.

‘What troubles you?’ I wiped the moisture from her face with my fingertip. A small shudder rippled through her. Whether from the chill of my skin, or a visceral response to being touched, she drew a deep breath. Her breasts pressed against my chest and my cock hardened.

‘My husband,’ she whispered, choking back a sob. ‘My husband won’t … won’t bed me. He … he said if I wanted to be a whore, I should be on the streets. He shut me out. He thinks,’ she drew a steadying breath. ‘He thinks pleasures of the flesh are sin.’

Perhaps not an innocent. ‘He is wrong.’

‘I know.’ Her hands splayed over my chest and I wondered whether she sensed the lack of a heartbeat under her palm, or felt the outline of the tiny padlock I kept close to my heart. The fine gold locket torn from the neck of my beloved Elise by one of my own kind.

The warmth of her body and her trust seeped through the fabric between us as she took my arm and came readily with me, through the secrecy of the fog. Past the murky alleys and illicit doorways where I usually nourished my needs, to my rooms.

Not since my Elise, not since my turning, had there been this simple delight of removing silk and lace rather than furtively fumbling under grubby, coarse skirts. The intoxicating scent of perfumed soap and genuine desire. Of a cunt, wet and wanting.

She gave herself willingly. Let me sup on her lifeblood as she gasped her completion when my fangs pierced her skin and my cock pierced her body. The ferocity of her euphoria flowed into me with her blood, filling me with more than just the sustenance I sought.

It took all my resolve to fight the urge to drain her completely, because I wanted more of her essence that had nothing to do with blood, but the heat of her slit as it accepted me, as she accepted me. The uninhibited embrace of her body rekindled my humanity. Something I’d thought extinguished by my maker.

After that first, frenzied coupling, we lay skin to skin and she made no mention of the unnatural coolness of my body as she languidly stroked me back to tumescence. Her presence filled me with a peace I’d not known for centuries.

I trailed a fingertip over her pink nipples, scraping lightly with my nail, relishing their instant response as we spoke of the vampire reputation for blood lust and death.

‘Why don’t you fear me?’

‘You have given me no reason to do so.’ She caressed my lip with the pad of her thumb. ‘You have given what I wanted.’ The thumb slid between my lips and traced the point of my fangs. ‘What I need.’

I nipped the flesh gently, the skin split and a drop of nectar rolled onto my tongue. Blood hunger surged through my body. I tensed against it and she held me, soothed me, until it ebbed and passed, and she fed my other craving.

I’d long since stopped remembering the joy of languidly suckling on a fat nipple, of tracing my tongue along slick folds, over a tight bud. Of a woman’s shudders and cries. Taking her, being taken by her, needing nothing from her at that moment but the pleasure of her body. The ghost of centuries spent alone began to dissolve.

That was the first of many nights and now she sits amidst our rumpled sheets, dried droplets of blood adorn her neck as I tie Elise’s velvet ribbon around it, concealing that point where life pulses, where I mark her body.

Her fingers cradle the filigree padlock of delicate gold tracery that now rests in the hollow of her throat. Her other hand takes mine, sliding under the sheet to the sticky heat between her thighs.

My beloved.


9) Serrature d’Amore

This is the first time Tim and Lara have left their hotel room since arriving two days previously and tumbling straight into the four-poster bed. Despite their insatiable hunger for each other however, it would be remiss of them to come to such a picturesque spot and stay indoors all the time. A walk to the Lovers Bridge – Ponte degli Innamorati, according to the guidebook – seems ideal. Although, regretfully, it will require getting dressed, at least for a while.

“I don’t understand the purpose of this.” says Lara after a few moments of intense concentration.
“It’s a tradition. Couples attach a padlock with their initials to the railings and throw the key into the water to symbolise their unbreakable bond.” Tim explains.
“Does that mean they have to end the relationship if the padlock is removed?”
She’s not joking or being sarcastic, Tim reminds himself silently.
“No, it’s not like a contract. It’s just… a symbol. A ritual that makes people feel good.”
“Ah,” Lara nods, light dawning. “It’s a set of actions with cultural associations that trigger the release of dopamine and oxytocin to facilitate peer bonding. Now I understand.” She walks along the bridge, studying the array of engraved, painted and plain padlocks dangling in stacks from the railings.
Okay, not the most poetic of takes, Tim chuckles to himself, gazing with appreciation at her generous curves swaying beneath her maxi-dress.

Lara sees the world with high-res clarity, is on a mission to understand the purpose and function of every pixel. He finds it endearing, educational, occasionally baffling; wishes he were smart enough to give her all the answers she seeks.

She’s stopped looking at padlocks and is staring at the ground, shuffling her feet. He reads uncertainty, vulnerability in her stance as he reaches her, waits patiently beside her for the question he senses is imminent.
“Do you…. do I…. does it make you unhappy that I’m not-“ she gestures vaguely at the hardware-festooned fence “-like that? Romantic? Is it…. is it a disappointment for you?”
Tim wraps his arms around her.
“I love you exactly as you are.” he says with absolute honesty. “When you say or do things, I know you mean them and you’re not just saying what you think is expected of you. If I ever feel disappointment about that, it’s because my expectations are unfair, and I never want to hurt you, especially for something that’s my fault.”
Her hands creep around his waist until she’s hugging him tightly.

And then, because she’s so close and so beautiful, because she smells of sandalwood and sun cream, because he adores her, Tim feels a hard-on beginning to twitch to life.
Damn! This is not the time! he scolds himself. We’re trying to have a Tender Moment here!
It’s too late. Lara has noticed.
She raises her head, looks at him with a rare direct gaze, smiles.
“I believe you.” she says, and squirms against him. “Also, I detect that you are becoming sexually aroused.”
She shifts her hips, grinding herself harder against the rapidly-swelling bulge in Tim’s jeans, sliding her hands down into his rear pockets.
“Your body is giving me pleasure; look-” Her nipples have hardened, prominent little nubs under soft cotton. Tim rolls them gently between his fingers and thumbs, spreads his palms to cup her breasts.
“You are glorious.”
“I’m very wet now, and I would like to be naked with you.”
Her clipped, precise phrasing sends a wave of desire surging through Tim’s blood. Dirty talk is so much better when every word is carefully chosen and neatly arranged by someone who only says exactly what she means.
“You make me happy,” Lara murmurs. “Dopamine and oxytocin and serotonin. That’s happiness. That’s what I feel when I’m with you.”
Tim nibbles at her earlobe, traces tiny circles on the soft flesh with the tip of his tongue.
“Back to the hotel?” he whispers.
“That is a good idea. Being naked here would not be appropriate.”
A mischievous grin dimples her cheeks. “Although it would be quite exciting.”
“Well then, let’s go and be exciting in a more appropriate place.”
“Yes. And tomorrow….. maybe we could buy a padlock?”


10) Once Upon a Time

Every night, when the sky is darkest, she creeps to the bottom of the garden. The wrought iron gates are still visible, blacker than the night. They’re tall, taller than her, and covered in heavy padlocks. Each gap that could be pulled at, widened, escaped through, is sealed.

She isn’t trying to escape though, she never is. She merely fingers the heaviest padlock, feeling its heft. Squinting into the gloom, she imagines she can almost see the life she left behind. The life she had before him. It’s fading now, like a dream, slipping through her fingers like sand in the wake of a new dawn.

The wedding ring on her finger is weighty too, a huge ruby nestled in sharp silver. She’d been poor and fatherless when he entered her life, desperate for any marriage that may give her the means to support her destitute mother. He was older, and gruff. But wealthy and refined, and he did allow her to send money home. Now she lived with him, in his beautiful house with its beautiful garden and its beautiful locked gates.

Sighing, she turns back up the garden and ventures inside. The house is silent, the only sound the dull ticking of the grandfather clock. She’s abruptly overcome with the urge to knock the damned thing over, to watch the ornate wood splinter and hear the deafening clang of the mechanism shattering. Maybe then he would talk to her again.

Their wedding night had been awkward. He’d been careful, a perfect gentleman, haltingly asking her if all was okay throughout. And it was. But she was still embarrassed. Her shyness and awareness of her own innocence had her flushing and shaking, as she lay beneath him, limp as a ragdoll.

It was the last time they’d spoken. He’d left the room before she awakened, and since then they were living separate lives. Dining alone, reading alone. Sleeping alone. Only the occasional creak of a floorboard let her know that she wasn’t completely unaccompanied.

Suddenly, the house is stifling, the musty darkness smothering her. She staggers backwards, into the cool night air, and gasps like a near-drowned woman. It takes a while for her breathing to slow, for the hot tears to be blinked from her eyes. It’s then that she sees it.

His curtain is swaying. Just slightly, enough that it could be the breeze. But the wind died earlier in the evening, and now everything is still. He was watching.

A cacophony of feelings flood through her all at once. Shock. Indignation. And longing. For the first time she realises what this misery is – an aching and painful longing. She yearns to be near him again, to smell the pungent leather of his riding gloves, to feel the burn of his beard, to taste the surprising sweetness of his mouth.

So she lowers herself to the ground, lying on her back beneath his window. The grass is cold and wet, and her arms become gooseflesh. Slowly, she reaches down to the skirt of her nightdress, damp with dew, and bunches it about her waist.

She thinks of kissing him again, his hot wet mouth dragging along her exposed neck, his calloused hands slipping between her thighs. Eyes closed, she reaches down, and begins rubbing at her clit. Gasping at the contact, her back arches, as she imagines his touch instead of her own. Bathed in silvery moonlight and writhing on the ground, she has the look of a woman possessed. Yet she feels only blessed, this exorcism of lust taking place below her husband. It’s a display. An offering.

Breathing his name like a supplicant at prayer, she speeds up, her cunt now slick and warm and open.

She comes with a cry, one hand between her legs and the other grasping at the grass, as if to anchor herself to Earth. It takes a moment for her to come back to herself, for a while there is nothing but the sound of her heart in her head and the receding waves of pleasure.

When she finally looks up, his curtains are open. He’s nothing but a shadow in the window, all she can discern is the movement of his shoulders as he breathes hard, and the whites of his eyes.

She meets his gaze.


11) The Kiss of Locks

As usual, Jean texted Esmeé at day’s start that he’d have another load for her, but arrived at her studio in the afternoon to find a note on the door, asking him to bring them to an address off Rue Saint-Dominique, this time. Puzzled, Jean wound through the streets of Paris, to the designated alley, turning into a courtyard, and stopping dead.

Rising from the cobbled ground to the third story, glinting in the lowering sun, was a reproduction of Gustav Klimt’s “The Kiss.” Composed entirely of locks.

Jean’s stare followed up a trail of sparks find Esmeé, in welding gear on a cherrypicker, fusing red locks into place in the woman’s bouquet. Speechless, Jean watched until she paused, raising her goggles to inspect her work. Noticing Jean, she beamed, and lowered her basket.

“Jean! I hope you have some green ones today – nobody seems to like green anymore, and I only need a few-“

“W-what is this, Esmeé?”

“What do you think it is, mon ami?”

“I think it’s… beautiful.”

“It’s for you.”

“I- what?

“It’s for you,” Esmeé smiled, removing a glove and wiping a tear from Jean’s cheek. “My romantic friend. Your heart is as big as the rest of you.”

Jean stood stunned.

“Last year I won a proposal to make a piece for the Année Des Arts – for this building’s restoration. I was going to paint a mural. I was going to tell you about it,” she smiled, “but that week was first time you told me about the locks, and why you hated so much having to cut them down. That moment I knew I had to do this instead of a painting.”

“That’s why you asked me to bring them to you, instead of the recycling center.”

“Oui. Et voilà!”

“Et voilà,” Jean echoed. “Esmeé, but.. why?”

“Because you are my friend, silly. I couldn’t stand how this part of your job hurt you. Parce que je t’aime.”

Jean’s eyes went wide.

Of course he loved Esmeé – friend and confidante since childhood. They’d talked about everything, including love and lovers – in the context of advising, encouraging, commiserating – never looking at each other. Until now.

Like the turn of a long-missing key in a lock, something in Jean clicked. Without another thought, he pulled Esmeé to him and kissed her. Full on the lips. Like it was something he’d been waiting to do all his life.

She kissed Jean back fiercely, wrapping her arms around him, and they held on, until that wasn’t enough. Esmeé pulled away to whisper-

“Equipment room.”

She pointed to a Défense D’entrer sign, and Jean scooped her off her feet, eliciting a yelp and laugh. Though the door and inside. He would ask about the bins of colored locks, the project drawings on the wall. Later. He sat Esmeé on the work table, and freed her from her scorch-marked coveralls. Her athletic bra was attractive but snug. Jean grabbed a pair of cutters and turned the bra into scrap in moments.

“I’ll buy you another. Another five.” Jean murmured, ending with his mouth enveloping her nipple and half the breast around it. He was fast, bold, his tongue so hot. Esmeé sighed instead of protesting. Her hands raked his hair, then pulled him up so they could kiss as she unbuttoned his shirt.

In another minute, bare-chested Jean knelt between her legs, kissing, tongue teasing. She wanted him continue for a year, but pulled him away. There would be time for luxurious exploration later. Esmeé hopped down, Jean’s pants and boxers came off and it was his turn to sigh at the heat of her mouth around his cock. But that taste was also just for a moment.

He was strong, and she petite, and so he lifted her easily, pressing her against the postered wall, kissing her as she parted her legs. Blindly, unerringly, he guided his hardness into her, and they moaned into the kiss as he filled her that first time. For a brief forever, they lost sense of anything but each other.

Some time later, they lay on a padded tarp, hands and legs intertwined.

“You’re not going to need more locks,” he said.

“Not unless I do another project like this,” she replied, “I’m sorry.”

“No, don’t be. I… think I might be cured of sorrow forever. This sorrow at least.”

“I’m glad, mon… mon amour.”

“Mon cœur.”

What is the sound of two hearts locking together?

The kiss.


12) Piano Duet

Life has confused me recently. It has taken me by the ankles, held me upside down and given me a good shaking. Well not life as such but women. Two months ago Victorine walked out on me. I thought we were a couple with a good future. We’d even attached a padlock to the Pont des Amis as a symbol of our undying love and tossed the key in the Seine.

A month ago I decided to remove our lock but it had become just one of thousands attached to the bridge. I couldn’t see it. I started collecting keys and undoing any locks I could in an attempt to find it. That was my manic phase.

Madame Conflans, the concierge of my apartment block in the Latin Quarter, took it upon herself to restore me to my former self, though I don’t think her version of cognitive behavioural therapy will be endorsed by the state any time soon.

When I returned from work today and stepped into the cool of the vestibule, Madame appeared. Silently, as if from the darkened wings of a theatre. Her elegant and sophisticated demeanour so at odds with the dilapidated state of the building. With a slight movement of her head she beckoned me into her apartment.

‘You’re later than normal,’ she said as she ran her soapy hands along the length of my cock. ‘I was concerned you might have stopped by the bridge again.’

‘No. That’s all behind me now.’

The warm water of the shower washed the soap away and she knelt down and took me in her mouth. Madame would be the first to admit she isn’t totally au fait with all the latest urban expressions but she loves to say she really enjoys a good face fucking.

Afterwards, we sat on her sofa and enjoyed a glass of wine while she told me about the new tenant in Victorine’s old apartment. Above the fireplace a framed photograph of General De Gaulle looked down upon us with haughty disdain.

‘Her name is Florence. About thirty. You must have seen her.’

‘I have only glimpsed her on the stairs. Nice ankles.’

But it was a lie. Two days earlier Florence had caught up with me on the first floor landing. Out of breath, she’d asked me if I were the Jacques who had the apartment below hers. I was about to affect a look of weary indifference and move on but the softness of her voice and the look of need in her beautiful blue eyes weakened my resolve. She was wearing a red dress with white polka dots and a wide leather belt. White stockings and black shoes. She had shoulder length reddish hair with a side parting and a small grip holding the fringe from falling over her vibrant blue eyes.

‘I am in need of a key Jacques. For the lid of my piano. I am at a loss without my Schubert and Chopin. In the move it has somehow disappeared. The concierge says you have a small collection of keys and hopefully one of them might fit my lock.’

‘It’s possible.’

At that point the stair lights timed out. Her hand touched my shoulder to steady herself in the darkness and for a moment I was engulfed by her loveliness and wanted to hold her in my arms. To comfort and be comforted. Was I so shallow? Victorine, Madame and now Florence.

We sat side by side on the piano stool. The cotton bag, containing about fifty small keys, rested on my lap. Florence took one key at a time and dramatically tried it in the lock. And every time when it failed she would say an emphatic ‘no’. Sometimes she rummaged amongst the keys for added effect. Her dress was slowly riding up her legs and I could see the ends of the straps from her suspender belt and an inch or two of her pale white skin. I was certain she would soon be aware of my erection as the number of keys in the bag reduced.

‘What have we here Jacques? This is no key,’ she giggled

‘I’m sorry.’

‘Oh don’t be. I think you are the key I was really looking for. The missing one I had all along. She pulled up her dress and from inside her red knickers she retrieved a small brass key. She held it to my nose.’

‘See how warm it is Jacques.’


13) An American Abroad

His name wasn’t Jack but that lock has imprinted itself on my memory.

We met in a dark smoky bar with giant legs of ham hanging from the ceiling. I was incredibly jet lagged but so elated to be abroad that I’d fought off tiredness and gone out for dinner at midnight. I didn’t know any Spanish but being young and pretty is its own language, so the bartender pushed a glass of red wine over the bar and laughed as I fumbled a handful of pesetas out of my bag.

“You should be more careful with your money,” a voice rumbled above me as a long-fingered hand chose two coins from the pile and flicked them to the bartender. I looked up through the haze and saw green eyes and dark skin. His arm brushed mine and all the hairs stood up on the back of my neck.

He scooped up the rest of my money and pushed it into my hand while his friends laughed and one of them whistled. I remember the casual way he flipped them off and turned towards me. The wine went straight to my head making me woozy and floaty, almost drifting in that dark space surrounded by smoke and meat. Soon I was laughing and leaning against him.

We danced and drank more wine, my head spinning from exhaustion. He told me he was Dutch but going to school in England. He said he was on holiday from uni and he’d never met an American girl before. He laughed when I asked what “uni” was and then I laughed as he said “college” and imitated my flat American accent. I teasingly pressed his lips together with my fingers and he licked my finger tip, sending shivers down my spine.

The room got very warm and loud. As I staggered, he cupped his hand around my hip and turned me into his chest. I felt those long fingers slip gently over my back above my dress, pushing my hair aside so he could trace the outline of my shoulder blade.

I leaned into him as he guided us outside. The humid sea air brushed my face and my ears rang after the din of the bar. We walked up a hill above the ocean, surf crashing against the rocks and the sun just starting to lighten the sky. He tilted my chin up, looked at me with those green eyes and said “I’m going to kiss you, College.”

His stubble was scratchy and his mouth tasted like beer, cigarettes and something sweet. I clung to him feverishly, pulling him closer and trying to absorb him as my tongue wrapped around his. He pressed me against the metal fence and I pulled his shirt open, pushing my dress down so our chests touched, the salty air of the ocean blending with the salt of our sweat. I felt high and disoriented, ecstatic as his mouth slid down my throat and his fingers closed over my nipple, sending a sharp thrill down to my belly.

He pulled my skirt up, feeling his way up my thigh and wrapping one of my legs around his waist. I felt his knuckles slide through my wet folds as he unbuckled his pants and I squirmed closer, moaning into his mouth. With both hands on my hips and a soft insistent nudge of his cock he said, “Can I?” As I nodded, he pushed himself into me in one fluid stroke. I felt a sharp burst of pain and I stiffened and dug my fingernails into his back as he filled me. He held still for a moment and the pain receded and then he pulled out slowly with a quiet sigh before pushing in deeply again, filling me all the way up.

Minutes or hours later, I turned and faced the green hillside while he pounded me with his cock and the ocean surf pounded the rocks behind us. Love locks rattled on the metal bars underneath my hands and the dawn sunbeams glittered off the engravings, dazzling my eyes. A moment later he gasped against my shoulder and went still. His cock pulsed, I felt his quick hot breath on my skin and I sagged against the fence. Finally, our heart beats slowed and his cum and my blood leaked down my legs while the sun lit us both.

I’ll always remember that night but no, I don’t remember his name.


14) Freedom through vandalism

With the flashlight between her teeth, June put the bolt cutter to the padlock and pulled the handles together with all her strength. Admittedly, that didn’t mean much, and her small height didn’t offer any advantages either. So of course the fucking thing didn’t budge.

“Not my fault,” she growled, rattling the lock with the bolt cutter’s blades.

Behind her, someone cleared their throat. June whirled around, hiding the suspicious tool behind her back.

The flashlight’s beam illuminated someone vaguely familiar and definitely overdressed for a walk in the dark.

“Mr. Hunter,” she mumbled, unintelligible with the torch between her lips, as if she was gagged. Embarrassment flashed hot across her skin, and she quickly took the wet flashlight from her mouth. Mr Hunter blinked. She knew him because he owned the topmost apartment of their building, including the beautiful rooftop garden she envied from afar. They hardly ever spoke, however, and she wasn’t sure he even knew her.

“I’m sorry, Miss…?” So much for that.

“Fox,” she murmured, fixing her eyes on the ground.

“Right. You know these locks don’t actually lock anything?” He made a gesture including the wire fence and all the padlocks fastened to it.

Shame seethed even hotter inside her stomach now. “I’m not trying to break in. I just want to cut this one away.” She jiggled the padlock with a scornful look.

Mr Hunter took a quick step that brought him much too close, reaching for the lock. June sucked in a breath, filling her lungs with his scent. Every move could lead them to touch.

“June and Jack, forever. I gather forever didn’t work?” There was something flickering in his voice, shimmering between amusement and hope.

“Not quite. Unlike this padlock, it wasn’t made to last.”

“Did you try a key?” This time, she was immediately able to place his tone. Mockery.

“We threw the key away, of course. This was meant as a symbol of our everlasting love.”

“And you fastened it to a chicken wire fence? I’m beginning to see why it didn’t work out. Did you try to cut the fence?”

“I…” June choked. The truth was that she hadn’t. “I didn’t want to destroy public property,” she admitted. He tossed his head back, revealing his beautiful throat as he laughed.

“It’s not public, it’s mine, and I give you permission to destroy it.”

A shiver ran up June’s spine, equal parts relief and regret. This was the end, truly. She pushed the flashlight into his hand, ignoring his doubtful look as he noticed the wetness from her mouth, and cut the fence with one swift move. Mr. Hunter caught the lock before it could fall to the ground.

“You know,” he said, cocking his head, “this should have been fastened somewhere far more permanent. A collar around a throat, for example.”

June was sure he was teasing, but his words sent a wave of heat through her, and the image he conjured had her reeling. It’s been too long since she had been fucked properly. All of a sudden, her need flared up. Would Hunter fuck her if she begged for it? Her insides gave a twinge. She could feel a wet patch forming inside her panties. Would he feel her wetness, her neediness, and tell her what a wanton slut she was for wanting a near stranger? Would he take her panties, bunch them up and stuff them into her mouth before taking her hard? She swallowed thickly, the images flooding and choking her.

Mr. Hunter watched her, his eyes shimmering in the dark. He hadn’t stepped back. “Well then, Miss Fox. If you need anything other than my help with vandalizing my property, just ask for it. I’m here to help.” He straightened, a smile in the crook of his lips, and stepped away. He’d already put a few steps between them when June managed to speak.

“Mr. Hunter. Wait.” Her head was swirling, her heart pounding in her mouth. She was cold with fear, but she didn’t let it stand in her way. Not this time. “There’s something I need, actually.”

“I’m all yours. Just ask for it.”

Oh, she would do more than ask. Licking her lips, she closed the distance between them once more, and purred, “I’d really like you to show me your rooftop garden.”


15) Where We Meet

They stood on the bridge, looking over the river. They weren’t far from the harbor where the river opened up into the wider world but it was hemmed in here, buildings all around them, and the ocean was only a phantom of sea-salt air on the breeze, even with the water rushing under their feet to meet it.
Cleo tapped her fingertips nervously on the railing. “I didn’t know it was a love-lock bridge,” she said.
“A what?”
He hadn’t noticed.
“These?” She lifted one of the padlocks, brushing across the names and date etched into the metal. They weren’t all marked, but the one she’d picked was. “Couples lock them onto the sides of bridges as a sign of undying love. They throw the keys away—they’re literally ruining the structural integrity of bridges all over the world—”
“Your place or mine?”

Nathan was blue-eyed and bald, though he’d have been bald anyway, if he hadn’t shaved his head. Not the type she’d have walked up to in a bar, but bars weren’t doing it anymore and she’d decided it was time to look outside her type. He was some sort of biologist who spent most of his time tramping through swamps in the south and he had the body to back up his physical lifestyle.
Damned if he didn’t kiss like a man who’d been in a swamp for six months, too.
Oh, he was a gentleman on the walk to his hotel—he was only in the city for some conference—through the lobby, in the elevator even, and she’d been ready for him to make a move then. It wasn’t until they’d reached the hall where his room was that he pinned her against the wall like he couldn’t wait another minute, just like she’d said she wanted when they’d chatted online.
He tasted like spearmint gum and he was so strong, so obviously strong, that she had a moment of misgivings.
When he tilted her head for his kiss, not just on her lips, but her cheek and her jaw and her neck, it was everything she’d wanted and not nearly enough.
“You still in?” he mumbled, nipping her earlobe, leaving her breathless with his hand firm at the base of her throat, pushing her into the hotel’s fancy molding, suddenly aware of how she was squirming against him like a cat in heat. In a public hallway.
“Are you fucking kidding me?”
He laughed and swiped his keycard in the door, leading her in with his hand on her lower back.

And he fucked like it would be his last chance for a year, though he’d already told her there were grad students, forestry workers, and eco-tourists looking for fun even in the ass-end of the everglades. He hadn’t been wanting before he’d come to the city and he wouldn’t be wanting when he left it.
He hadn’t just been boasting, either, not the way he shoved her on the bed and held her hands above her head. Not the way he pushed her into the mattress with the full, deliciously unforgiving weight of him. He tied her wrists with nylon rope and she couldn’t have gotten away, not even if he hadn’t been the hulking, powerful, backwoods brute he was.
“Fuck me!” she panted, and he slapped her. A lot gentler than he could have been, softer than she’d asked for even, but it was something and then he was pulling her skirt up and her panties down and then he was freeing himself and then he was putting on a condom—
He checked first, sliding his fingers over and into her to make sure she was wet, and she keened at that touch from a virtual stranger, for all they’d talked online.
It was insane. It was absolute, unbeatable perfection, until he followed it with his dick, and that lived up to his late night promises too.
He smacked her left breast, and squeezed, and then he slapped her again. “Look at me,” he said. “Watch me while I fucking pound you—”

They stood on the bridge, looking over the river. It was raining, but not enough that she’d bothered with an umbrella, or even the hood of her rain slicker.
Cleo tapped her fingertips nervously on the rail, stealing a glance at Giovanni. “It’s a love-lock bridge,” she said.
“A what?”


16) Locked Out

Cassie cocked her head to one side, considering the woman standing across from her. She was beautiful, of course, and obviously brainy to be at this annual conference for software engineers. She also exuded sweetness and all things wholesome and good. Cassie detested her on sight.

She also knew she would have her before the night was through.

“I’m Cassandra,” she said, holding out her hand. The woman turned, startled from her conversation with the man standing next to her.

“Oh — hello,” she said. “I’m–”

“Delilah Thompson, yes, I know.” At the woman’s surprised look, Cassie nodded to her name tag.

“Yes, of course,” Delilah said. She smiled inquiringly. Smoothly, Cassie cut between her and the salesman who had been hitting her up, giving Delilah a line about a made-up company, and steered her toward the balcony. She didn’t know the first thing about software systems for human resources, but she could fake it.

The temperature on the balcony was just cool enough to give Cassie a reason to stand close to Delilah. Above them the stars glittered against a dense black sky; Cassie talked of constellations and fate. “I feel so drawn to you,” she said.

They walked and talked, and ended up “accidentally” on path with a bridge that crossed a little creek. Delilah was tipsy; Cassie was not, though she giggled and took every opportunity to “stumble” against Delilah. Then, at the apex of the bridge, Cassie leaned forward and kissed Delilah on the lips. Delilah went absolutely still, and Cassie pulled back. “I’m so sorry!” she said. “I thought… I just couldn’t help myself.”

Delilah stared at her, lips parted. “No,” she finally said. “It’s okay. I…” She trailed off, looking out over the water sparkling with moonlight. She played with the gold band around her finger. “It’s romantic here,” she said. “All these locks that people put on the fence.” She indicated the padlocks fastened here and there along the safety fencing on top of the railing. “True love.” She smiled wistfully. “I wonder how many are still in love?”

Cassie touched Delilah’s cheek. “May I kiss you?”

In answer Delilah closed her eyes and leaned forward, touching her lips softly to Cassie’s. With a sigh Cassie drew her close. She cupped a hand behind her head, deepening the kiss, tasting her sweetness. She slid her tongue along Delilah’s bottom lip, then drew it between her teeth and nipped gently. A small gasp came from Delilah, and then a moan as she pressed herself against Cassie. Cassie felt a throb between her legs as their breasts were crushed between them. She was surprised at the sudden, raw desire she felt. She kissed and nipped at Delilah’s slender throat, jawline and earlobes, and felt Delilah’s hands at her waist, pulling her closer. They managed to scissor neatly and Cassie felt Delilah grinding shamelessly against her, her breath panting in Cassie’s ear.

“Wait,” Cassie said. “Someone could walk by.”

Delilah, mouth swollen from kissing, met Cassie’s eyes. It’s now or never, Cassie thought, willing Delilah to make the decision this entire night hinged upon. Delilah dropped her gaze to her ring finger. “We could go to my room,” she finally said.

In Delilah’s room they stripped off each other’s clothes, all hands and mouths and tongues. They were both panting as Delilah backed onto the edge of the mattress and Cassie knelt between her thighs. Then she paused, looking up. “Are you sure?” she asked, glancing at Delilah’s ring. Delilah hesitated, then slid the ring from her finger. “What Richard doesn’t know won’t hurt him,” she said. It was all the invitation that Cassie needed. In moments her face was buried between Delilah’s thighs, her tongue lapping at her juices, her fingers buried deep inside the other woman as she writhed on the bed.

Much later, after Cassie had made Delilah beg and scream and shake with pleasure, she’d dressed silently in the dark while Delilah slept. Looking down at the other woman, she reached into her pocket and pulled out the padlock she’d cut from the fence earlier. She ran her finger over the front, staring at the words scratched on its face. “Rich & Cassie, 4ever.” Forever until someone new came along, she thought. With a bitter smile she placed it on the bedside table, making sure to turn the front toward the bed.


17) The Wait Is Over

Dear Lindsey, my bride-to-be,

Twenty-eight years, ten months and sixteen days ago, my heart skipped a beat in Kalispell when we first met in the rain. By the time I reached Potter’s Field, a charcoal sky had opened and the drizzle soon gave way to a deluge. While others in the park darted for cover, we stood silently in the rain, gazing deep into each other’s eyes. The connection we shared was deep and immediate, one of those ‘love at first sight’ moments frequently seen in movies, but hardly ever in real life. Of course, the preceding months of texts, emails, and phone calls made me feel as if I’d already known you, but I’ll never forget our first meeting face to face, and especially our first kiss.

My love for you grew stronger year after year – every kiss, every touch, every glance we shared was better than the last, and melted my heart until the next. Each time I would hear your voice on the phone, I came alive again. It’s been almost three decades now, and nothing else on earth compares to this life we’ve spent together.

I remember the first time we made love, so exciting and romantic. Your brown hair crested the right side of your face, and a galaxy of freckles dusted your shoulders. You looked into me with your loving green eyes and I’d never seen anything so beautiful.

On the floor in front of the fire place, the blanket was warm and soft, and we kissed deeply as our hands explored each other for the very first time. I caressed your breasts, and distinctly remember how supple your skin felt. I knelt down in front of you, and we held our nakedness tightly together with an embrace that touched the depths of my soul. You picked a yellow rose from the vase on the coffee table, and traced the petals across my face, down my cheeks, around my neck, and continued across my chest. You took a deep breath and slowly blew the lukewarm air onto my naked body causing chills to form from the mixture of the air and moisture. You kissed my neck and worked your way down, breathing in my scent from my head to my toes.

The vision of you was amazing, seconded only by the feelings you stirred within me. I touched your soft skin and slowly worked my way down your body – as I did, you put your foot on the mantle and twisted your hips slightly to open yourself up to me. A small moan escaped your lips and I barely got to your clit when your body shuddered, as you came with great force. I held you tightly as you climaxed and it was the most intense feeling I’ve ever experienced. We each came several times that night, fulfilling many of each other’s fantasies. After hours of sensual bonding, we held each other and talked for hours. I felt your passion. I felt your love for love. Most importantly, I felt myself falling in love with you.

In the years since, we’ve lived a wonderful life. You are an amazing woman, and we’ve seen the world, leaving locks inscribed with our names across this globe representing our unbreakable bond. You are the source of all of my happiness, you breathe your spirit into my lungs, and you can’t possibly imagine my gratitude. Over the years, I’d cry periodically because we were treated differently than other couples. Dozens of times since that initially gloomy day, the sky glowered as the clouds hid the sun, and the rain began to fall. And I’d be reminded how cruel our archaic laws could be. Until now!

We celebrated the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges with our friends as it was announced, toasting the end of our lengthy cultural and legislative battle that finally resulted in legalized same-sex marriage. When you dropped to your knee and proposed immediately after the announcement, I was over the moon and never happier!

Today, our marriage will at long last seal our hearts for good, not only symbolically but legally too, and we can finally enjoy all the benefits that most other couples take for granted. I can’t wait to exchange rings with you, and proudly display these symbols of our everlasting love to the world. I love you more than the world itself!

Forever yours,
Jacqueline, your wife-to-be


18) I stand alone

I stand alone. On a bridge. Eyes shut. I hear my breath, louder than the rumbling of bicycle traffic and voices. I try to hear water. I am down-wind of the Bloemenmarkt; the breeze, thick with pollen, conjures blazing sunflowers, brazen tulips, golden narcissus, fragile orchids, delicate peonies. Fragrances my racing mind would usually negate. There, I wait for you.

I stand alone. A single stem, feeling the July sun descend behind me. I edge-back, against the padlock you placed there; warmed by the sun, radiating heat between my shoulder blades. A trace of sweat dribbles from my hairline, passing the nape of my neck, under my thin leather collar. It trickles down the gutter of my spine to pool between the cheeks of my ass. Still I stand still. I behave. I comply. I do not wipe the sweat away. I am to feel all my bodily fluids and cherish them all.

I stand alone. In my pussy, a We Vibe Jive Love Egg. I am app-linked and accessible.

I stand alone. Sudden downpour. Rain runs down my throat, across my collarbone, circling my nipples. My dress is intentionally thin fabric. It clings to my breasts, my stomach, and rides into my ass, adheres to my softest tissues. Wet folds within wet folds within wet folds. My hands remain by my sides. Hungrily, I drink up all sensations with closed eyes, unaware if anyone is staring at me. I sense auras: they flee across the bridge as rain pours. Only I am siphoning-in the pleasure of petrichor. I tip back my head, stick out my tongue. Slutty-smile with mouth wide-open. I’m being intentionally bad as I realise you haven’t told me I’m not allowed to do this.

I stand alone. A flower glorified by sunshine, embraced by raindrops. I hear the distant carillon of bells in the Munttoren. Three o’clock – permission to open my eyes, if I choose. I choose to keep them shut. Rain subsides. Still I obey you. Knees gently bent. You warned me, to lock my legs may result in fainting.

I stand alone. Goosebumps gather between my thighs. I stretch out against the balustrade to dry. I feel the comforting square, simple padlock bearing your name and mine, and today’s date. To future prying-eyes it will be romanticised, or tutted at; lovers’ promise versus eyesore. In this moment I feel it’s pressure and think of you. Only you.

I stand alone. I feel it. Low hum of the vibrator activating. I comply with your request to be quiet, to enjoy, to endure. The itch of sex rises up from in my loins. Vibration increases. I’m not allowed to audibly moan, not allowed to touch an inch of flesh. I must simply absorb the vibration, my response, my breath. You play me like a cello: vibrations hollow me out. I want to exclaim. I want to open my mouth. I want to touch myself, but know the cost. If I do those things I disappoint you. Every sensation is amplified. I’m getting wetter; clearly not the rain. The
love egg reaches the pattern that makes my body bloom. The sensation swallows me, as I swallow raindrops and sweat. I’ve been so good. I’ve learned to listen to my body. I’ve both come, and obeyed.

I stand alone. My heartbeat returns to resting. I wait for you, relishing the sensation of the padlock.

One single warm hand, presses on my chest, fingertips like a delicate leaf touching my collar. I do as I am told. I don’t open my eyes. I wait. I breathe adrenaline into those fingers in anticipation of what is yet to come.

“Eyes open now,”

Your voice low, commanding, just as I want it.

I do not stand alone. My eyes adjust to the light, meet your dark eyes and broad whimsical smile.

“You have done so well to obey me.”

“Thank you, Master,” my voice breaks.

“Time for your reward. Step forward from the padlock pressing at your back.”

I step forward. One step. A second. A reassuring hand at the base of my spine, he walks me off the bridge, toward my reward at our flat in Nieuwmarkt. I will be postured to stare at blue sky through the skylight, and feel his crop.

I stood alone on the bridge, wearing my collar and a padlock at my back. But there was no chain connecting them. I was bound only by my will and my obedience, his pleasure and his wishes.


19) Three Weeks, Four Cities

“I can’t believe you’re doing this.”

I glance down at my knuckles, angry white knobs surrounded by skin that has both tanned and freckled over the long European summer. Behind me, Madison’s sigh is loud enough to carry over the traffic crossing the Danube.

“Be realistic, Nath. I fly back to Chicago tomorrow. You’ll be half a world away. I’m sorry – I just can’t.”

Three weeks earlier

We meet-cute in Krakow. If cute is 4zl shots in a backpacker bar and 3am sex on a bottom bunk in her empty hostel dormitory, that is. She’s lithe and loose-limbed, and almost unnervingly cheerful; she walks like her face is always tilted towards the sun. When we leave the bar, she pushes me against a wall and slides her hand into my shorts, ignoring my squeak of surprise and curling her fingers tightly around my cock. There are only six months between us, but I feel five years younger – or like I’ve grown up in a smaller, greyer version of whichever world she’s just burst out of.

Sometime around sunrise, after we’ve fucked our way through the three-pack of condoms buried in her rucksack, she pushes her nose into my chest hair and mumbles words that I feel rather than hear.

“Huh?”

“I said I have a boyfriend. I hope that’s ok.”

Two weeks earlier

I write and delete the text a dozen times before finally hitting send. ‘In Prague. Think you said you might come here too? Free tonight if you’re around.’

It takes her less than a minute to reply. ‘Oh gosh, I’d love to see you! Meet at 7 – Café Marnice? I have no chill haha.’

We spend four hours talking and the next six fucking – this time, I’ve come prepared. We upgrade from a communal dorm to a private room, though the walls are thin enough that I’m sure half the hostel can hear us anyway. I’ve had sex before – teenage fumbles with girls from the school next door, and two short, earnestly experimental relationships at Oxford – but Madison quickly makes me realise the redundancy of that claim. She fucks without restraint or any visible hint of self-doubt, and each time she comes I watch astonished as she dissolves into helpless, weepy laughter.

The next morning, we walk hand-in-hand along the canal. I don’t ask about the boyfriend, and she offers no details. Instead she reaches up to kiss behind my ear whenever we stop, and rubs herself against me like a cat. We talk about our futures, not the lives we’ve left behind. I tell her I’m wavering over a grad placement at a big London law firm. She’s starting med school in the fall.

By the time we’ve circled back to the hostel, it’s time to check out.

“I’m leaving tonight for Salzburg,” I say, hoping I sound more casual than I feel. “Why don’t you come?”

One week earlier

She guides my fingers inside her cunt and sighs contentedly as I brush my thumb across her clit. We’re spread out and slowly baking under the skylight that turns our tiny AirBnB loft into an oven, but after five nights in two unremarkable hostels it feels like the luxury. I never want to leave, especially when she leans down and takes my cock in her mouth like it’s a year since she last tasted it, not 45 minutes and a nap in the afternoon sun.

Later we walk to dinner across the Makartsteg Bridge. I lift her like we’re at the prow of the Titanic, bringing her down in front of a startled couple tearfully fixing a lovelock to the chain railing. I raise an eyebrow as we walk away, only to shake my head before the look of horror on her face has fully formed.

“Kidding. We’re not wankers.”

~
From Salzburg we take the train to Vienna, then Bratislava and – finally, as it turns out – Budapest. Each night she pulls me into her with the same relentless vigour, but during the daytime it feels like the fierce heat is burning away the rest of the connective tissue that holds me in her orbit. Until, one muggy day on the Pest side of the river, the final thread breaks.

On tiptoes, she kisses my forehead. I swallow the urge to resume sulking and take her hand in mine.

“I’ll never forget this,” I tell her. “I’ll never forget you.” And I mean it.

Because some things – some people – you really don’t. Padlock or no padlock.


20) Unlocked fantasies

Getting lost in Venice was easy. It was her favourite pastime. Marianne thought she’d never see these old buildings again, but then her elderly friend passed away and bequeathed her a key with an amusingly phallic symbol etched into it.

To Marianne I leave this key for 14 Calle Fantasia, Venice. Somewhere belonging to my family for generations. Enjoy!
Joan Newhouse

Succinct, yet deeply curious. Joan had once mentioned a famous Venetian occultist ancestor. His place, perhaps?

Marianne – adventurous, recently divorced and desperate for distraction – couldn’t resist. Months later she stood beside an unassuming door in this city renowned for flamboyance. Centuries had passed since it had been carved from wood and slotted into the stone edifice.

Inside was a room, empty but for a small fountain filled with water, and another door in the far corner. Behind this was nothing but wall.

Quench your desire had been chiselled into the burbling fountain. Marianne wondered if the water was fresh. She tasted it, then drank deeply.

The wall door opened. How…? In walked several handsome men, dressed in perfectly-tailored suits.

“Isn’t she remarkable?” Said one, nodding at Marianne. The others murmured agreement.

Marianne tried to comprehend the situation, curiosity mixing with nervousness when the men approached and began removing her flimsy dress and underwear. Their hands roamed her body. When they reached her bared lips she screamed and they immediately withdrew.

“Should we stop?” The ringleader asked, confused.
“Yes! Erm…wait…”

Wait. This was her fantasy, wasn’t it? Beautiful, besuited men appreciating her naked flesh with their eyes, hands and mouths. Plus they seemed safe and respectful.

“…no, continue.”

Again they approached – slowly now – and her pleasure receptors fired at their touch. They lowered her onto the hard flagstones; she enjoyed the discomfort. She was their toy, her body their joy and her ecstatic moans their triumph. Surrendering herself to them, the many fingers and tongues drew out dizzying rapture.

The men silently retreated back through the door, leaving Marianne unclothed and perplexed. Still beside the fountain, she drank.

Henry. Her dishy colleague walked through the mysterious door. He smiled and flashed perfect teeth, ran a hand over his strong, stubbled chin and gazed lustfully at her from intelligent, dark eyes. He wore nothing but tight, black shorts which betrayed an excitement that matched hers. Mmmmmf.

“You look incredible Marianne.” He had a deep, refined voice.
“Henry! What’s happening?”

Marianne glanced down and was jolted by the sight of her nudity. She began covering herself, but her fantasy man took her hand and placed it on his waistband. Marianne forgot her embarrassment and excitedly unwrapped him.

His cock was exquisite. Thick, smooth and the perfect length. The feel of him in her mouth was exactly as she’d dreamed, the feel of it inside her cunt even better. This was a dream; a bizarre, wondrous unreality into which she’d been transported. Why else was Henry here? And those other men? What was in the water?

Just then the curve of his rigid flesh touched the core of her euphoria. Hazy with desire she grasped his firm ass, pulled his warm body against hers and accepted his slick tongue into her yielding mouth. His cock seemed to possess the very fibre of her being, her release only possible if…

Oh. OH!

Henry accompanied her tremors with a kiss, then withdrew and padded wordlessly out of the room. Wanting more, she drank again.

Now she wore only a leash and padlocked collar. Each drink unlocks another of my fantasies, Marianne suddenly realised. She loved this one. Sure enough, three men entered, two her age and the third older. He grabbed the leash and spun her around, displaying her for the others, their eyes drinking in her nudity.

“A real beauty, gentlemen. Start bidding.”

Marianne was eventually bought by the black-haired, brown-eyed man. She exulted in her body becoming someone’s property, surprising herself with this submissiveness. He grasped her leash and stroked his purchase, her bare flesh against his elegant clothes. All yours, whoever you are.

“You enjoy my place?” He was Italian.
“Your place?”
“Si. I create in 1754, to forever enjoy ladies and their fantasies.”
“Who are you?”
“Giacomo Casanova. Now, may I taste my prize?”

Casanova. Joan’s occultist relative. New-house, Casa-nova. Of course. He’d created this fantastical room. The ancient yet un-aged lothario bent Marianne over the fountain and put his famous tongue to work.


21) Symbols of Love

As we walk across the Ponts des Art, I run my finger over the engraving on the lock in my pocket. Izzy walks next to me, flicking the locks attached to the bridge so they make a loud bang-clatter sound.

I want to give Izzy this lock to symbolize our engagement, and as I pull it out, she starts talking.

“Did you hear that they’re starting to remove all of these next week?” Another lock crashes back against the bridge.

“No. Really?” I shove my hand back so hard, it threatens to push the lock right through the bottom of my pocket.

“Apparently parts of the bridge are starting to crumble under the weight of the locks. Plus, can you imagine how many keys are littering the Seine? For what? A symbol of love? Give me a break. Humans are so stupid.”

I chuckle nervously, not sure what to say. Shit! This was the whole reason I brought her here! Luckily, she doesn’t notice my discomfort.

“Want to know what I think we should do? As a hot symbol of our love?

I look at her and raise my eyebrows.

She pulls me close to her and kisses me, running a hand from my cheek, over my breast and down to the waistband of my shorts.

“Fucking on this bridge. Now that would be a story! What do you say?”

I grab her wrist.

“Wait Izzy! This is a tourist trap! People are bound to walk by and see us. What if a police car cruises by?” I try to push her hand away, but she is relentless.

“Come on, Lina. Tourists will just think we’re crazy Parisians. And this isn’t ‘Merica.” Her voice dips an octave at the last word. “Cops aren’t positioned on every corner.”

I look around and start to back away from Izzy, pulling her with me.

“You’re such a spoil-sport!”

“No, over here. The light is out and there are more locks, so people won’t be able to see us until they stumble over us.”

I pull her close and kiss her, lowering her to the ground and making my way down to her neck, her shoulder. I pull the straps of her tank top down, revealing her round, luscious breasts. Wrapping my hand around one, I tweak her nipple with my thumb before I start to circle it with my tongue. Her nipples harden at my gentle sucking and biting.

My hand finds its way down her pants to her clit. I slowly rub circles, feeling it swell under my fingers. She moans softly as a press harder and then squirms when I slide a finger inside. I bring the finger to my mouth to taste her sweet juices and then pull her shorts off so I can have full access. I eat her pussy and finger fuck her until her body shakes with orgasm and then settles back down.

“My turn.” In a swift move, she flips me on my back and pulls my shorts off, throwing them on the bridge with a loud clunk.

“What was that?” She reaches for the shorts and, before I can stop her, pulls out the lock.

“Are you serious?” Her face is a mixture of amusement and annoyance. She flips the lock over and reads the engraving: Isabella & Carolina May 25, 2015.

I hold my breath, waiting for her to decide which emotion to settle on. She swings the lock around her finger and pushes me back down. She places the cool lock against my clit and presses hard. She slides first one, then two, then three fingers inside me and pumps. The pressure on my clit builds until I can’t stand it anymore. My orgasm rocks through my body and I try to keep from screaming out my pleasure. She slowly brings me back down and removes her fingers from my cunt.

She rifles in my shorts for the keys, puts her shorts back on, and walks to a part of the bridge with only a few locks.

I dress and follow her.

As I reach her, she is snapping the lock shut around a thin metal post. She hands me one of the keys.

“We’re not throwing them in the river.” She undoes the clasp of her necklace and slides the other key on. I follow suit.

I grab her hand and pull her in for another kiss before we walk back to our hotel.


22) A Little Help, Please

“Is trust really risk masquerading as a promise? Or more a confident relationship to the unknown?

Sitting in his wheelchair facing their bed, Amanda’s latest philosophical ponderings replayed in Drake’s mind. Just last week they’d lain there — her reading from Phillips and Botsman, and he enchanted by the curls falling over her glasses. Now, though, the mood was decidedly wanton. She sat naked on their bed, tawny legs tucked beneath her, and winked at him.

Amanda’s playful spirit, that jubilant confidence, had always encouraged his lust for adventure. Drake allowed himself an instance of sentimentality before focusing on the hands gliding up and around her to grip each of her breasts. When he’d invited Jerome to join them, he’d taken care to explain what they needed in a conduit.

“I’ll understand if you say no,” Drake had assured him. “But I’d rather it be you. I trust you.”

It hadn’t surprised him when Jerome didn’t hesitate. Jerome had always been there for him, even through the worst of times. There was symmetry in him being there for some of the best of them, too.

Amanda’s whimpers stirred Drake from the memory.

“Go easy,” he instructed. “She needs to be warmed up.”

“Oh, but I’m so warm already, love,” she insisted while lacing her graceful fingers over Jerome’s hands, guiding them harder onto her dark nipples.

Amused, Drake knew she was ready when she’d eagerly undressed earlier to reveal the veracity of her arousal as evidenced by the delicate trail in her panties. He wanted to pick her up like he used to and take his time with her impetuousness. But this — this was good, too.

Jerome’s bulky frame belied an elegant touch as he massaged Amanda’s breasts with one hand while using the other to explore her fleshy belly. He pulled the generous curve of her abdomen back against his body and then slid his fingers between her thighs, prompting her gasp.

“Please!”

Drake willingly relented.

“Bring her to me so I can feel how warm she really is.”

Amanda squealed with glee as Jerome scooped her up and placed her gently onto Drake’s lap. She landed with familiar warmth, the force of her exhale strong on Drake’s face as he kissed her nose and caught her brown eyes with his gaze.

“Do you remember that time we were fooling around in your Dad’s tool shed and your brother thought it’d be funny to lock us inside?”

“Of course, I do,” Amanda replied after a beat. “I wanted to kill him because he never owned up to it and we had to wait so long for my Dad to get home with the key! But, why are you…”

“Well, that’s because your brother didn’t do it,” Drake confessed, grinning. “I did. I saw the padlock just hanging there and, when you weren’t looking, I locked us in.”

Amanda opened her mouth to speak and then closed it. Realization struck as the memories flooded back and inspired a wide smile of her own.

“You wonderful, sneaky bastard!” she exclaimed while bouncing on his lap. Her appreciation for his naughty streak was always the perfect aphrodisiac. He kept his voice steady when he spoke again.

“I want to have you like I did when I bent you over that toolbox.”

Wide-eyed, Amanda nodded enthusiastically. Looking up at Jerome, she entreated, “a little help, please, handsome” and gestured to Drake. Jerome nodded as well, made his way behind the wheelchair to engage the brakes, and gripped the handles to offer more support. Amanda flipped herself around, tucked her legs on either side of Drake’s hips on the chair, and bent over the edge of the bed to present her rear right up to Drake’s face.

What began as long, slow licks to her labia soon became insatiable laps between her engorged lips. Drake relished in the musky sweetness of her scent as Amanda dripped from nostalgia and the novelty of being watched. She eagerly reached back with one hand to part her pussy and undulated her hips to help him better reach her tender places. Later, still trembling from the force of her climax, she turned to kiss her beloved.

“That was even better than that time in the shed,” she gushed.

“Remember what we did next then?” Drake asked, with mischief and pride in his expression.

Swallowing hard, Amanda looked up at their friend.

“Oh, Jerome, we’re going to need more than just a little help with this!”


23) Magnesium & Oxygen

Jennifer came in a rush. She’d longed to be filled by Jack’s cock all day. Now that he’d entered her, the real feeling was much more intense than she’d imagined behind her office desk. Jack’s handsome face was blurred as she watched him through her lashes, occupied by the sensations in and around her pussy. He placed his large hands under her buttocks, spreading them and lifting her for a better angle to penetrate deeper. Her orgasm came as he repeatedly thrust himself inside her with gentle force. She wanted more of him now. She swung her legs forward, leaning them against his chest. He instantly heaved her up higher and she wriggled up until she could bend her knees over his shoulders. It gave her the leverage to push herself against his pelvis harder and to encourage him to pound her. They craved to fuck like this for as long as they could manage.

Jack kept telling her to take the long route to his house, but she insisted to go through the park. He’d called it her self-imposed walk of shame. But for Jennifer, it wasn’t about anyone’s gaze. It was about mirroring herself in them, the ordinary people. They were unaware, guiltless.

The first time Jennifer and Jack had fucked, they’d found that their chemistry was explosive as soon as their naked bodies touched. Like magnesium and oxygen, their thermosynthesis created a brightness that could penetrate all darkness. Even the kind they both carried.

She could avoid the path alongside the fence. But she needed to confront herself with the couples lingering around the love locks. To watch them read the inscriptions and whisper about how they too could secure their love.

“Motherfucker, why did I stop going to the gym?” Jack uttered out of breath. Jennifer pushed him off her playfully, grinning. She climbed on top of him and started to rub her clit against his pubis. She held his face in her hands and delved into a kissing spree. Their darting tongues acted as an ADHD-kid stuck in a classroom for too long. Their saliva, their sweat and their sex juices lubed their bodies and faces. Jack’s cock had gone a bit limp but it was growing hard again as she kept rubbing on him. Jennifer had come on him like this before and she wanted it again. Every time she shoved backwards his growing erection slid against her ass brushing her anus. She could have him in there today, but not directly. She needed another orgasm first and wanted to taste him before suggesting an anal fuck. Jack cupped her boobs and pulled her nipples with his thumb and forefinger. As she upped her pace, he tested her pain threshold. It got her nearer the orgasm she was sprinting to. It built like a leaping pole bending before springing to its full length again with double the force. The rapture created Jennifer to collapse on Jack’s chest, lapping his mouth and face like a puppy. He held her tight as she quivered through spasms of pleasure.

She knew the love lock’s exact place amongst the many. Without touching it, she always inspected it thoroughly. In the corner of the ‘L’ she noticed a speck of rust. Scrutinising the lock was her way to defuse the knot of mourning in her stomach that tangled with her excitement of going to Jack for another ravenous fuck.

“You want to fanny?” Jennifer whispered into Jack’s ear. It was her anal pun for Jack being American and she being English. Had Lindsey ever thought of this? Had they ever…? Jack answered by flipping her over. She pushed her ass up in full view for him. He positioned the tip of his cock against her wet star. She spread wider and waited for the sting of him entering. As Jack slowly pushed his length in, a tear formed in Jennifer’s eye. And others followed. While Jack buggered her, she experienced an outlandish feeling of utter delight mixed with grief and guilt. Jack’s semen burst into her rectum. Jennifer relished it and screamed into the wet pillow.

Jennifer believed that her sister Lindsey observed them after leaving her mortal coil. Sharing Jack in this afterlife was hurting what was most vulnerable, but it felt sacred and right too. They were evoking Lindsey. Lost in the desire to dwindle in the past they resembled the engraved love lock secured to the fence in the park.


24) A New Love Song

Katherine pulled against the chain, testing the strength of the bonds that tethered her to the post in the village square. The metal chinks sang to her, a rusty melody of clinks and clangs that spoke of what was to come. They thought they were punishing her, the elders in their ridiculous tattered robes and musty powdered wigs, a farce of judge and jury. They roared out her sentence with obvious joy, their aging yellow eyes glowing with excitement. Thirty lashes and a night tied to the whipping post wasn’t much of a punishment to Katherine. She could already feel the coals of her desire smoldering, threatening to catch fire at the slightest breeze.

Katherine kept her eyes trained on the old rusted padlock that bound her to the post, not wanting to meet the eyes of her friends and neighbors who happily watched her public shame. Right up front were Mr. Abernathy and his wife, Jilly; her red-rimmed eyes bore into Katherine, hot with anger. Mr. Abernathy would not make eye contact, not like he did when his cock was inside her, rutting like a mindless bull. It was his fault she was here, it was his words that seduced her, his cock that speared her, and it was his guilt that made him confess.

Katherine could feel the slick stream of wetness coating her thighs, and she could barely contain a moan that threatened to bubble up from her chest. Judge Conner called out her crime and her sentence, the crowd answered back, a cacophonous bark of disapproval. The town whore would get what she deserved, what she craved. She waited, the hairs on the back of her neck prickled and the heat between her legs intensified. The first lash hit her back with a sharp slap, the sting bit into her skin and spread, snaking its way down to her cunt. They kept coming, kissing her back, her soft thighs, the rounded globes of her ass. She arched and cried out as the leather stroked her, the music of her cries echoed in the clanging chains, and the crowd roared with appreciation.

A song came to mind as she sunk into the rhythm of her beating, a love song of all things.

He carved a key
To unlock her heart
Her hardwood heart…

Katherine’s mind drifted, she floated away like the words of the song she no longer recalled, and then it was over. The crowd dispersed as darkness began to fall. She wondered if any cowardly scoundrels would sneak away from their beds to fill her bared cunt with their spunk, a dirty anonymous fucking under the cover of darkness. For Katherine, it would be a welcomed intrusion.

Later that night, the heat on her back had cooled, but she could feel the delicious ache deep in her muscles with every slight movement. The ache in her cunt grew with the appearance of each new star, but no man came to douse her fire with his seed. The moon was high when she heard a muffled footstep, delicate as a skittering mouse. The smell of lilacs filled the cool night air around her, and a vision of angry red-rimmed eyes flashed through Katherine’s mind.

“Jilly?”

“It should have been me instead of him!” an angry voice whispered into her ear.

“What?”

Katherine heard the familiar sound of heavy skirts falling to the ground in a heap, the unfastening of stays, and the feminine sigh of relief as restrictive undergarments were loosened and removed.

“I thought you loved me,” Jilly whispered, her soft hands rubbed the tender skin of Katherine’s backside.

“I do lov…”

“I made something for you. I carved it myself.”

Jilly wrapped her arms around Katherine, pressing her warm naked skin against Katherine’s cooled body, and her small fingers found the hardened nubs of Katherine’s nipples, rubbing, pinching and pulling. She felt Jilly’s hands slide down her naked body, slipping into the slick wet between her thighs. Katherine arched into Jilly’s embrace as she felt the hard shaft of a wooden cock press into her dripping cleft. Katherine’s heart swelled and tears filled her eyes as her greedy cunt grabbed at the handmade gift.

She carved a key
To unlock my heart,
My hardwood heart.

Katherine melted as Jilly claimed her, and her heart bloomed with the first pangs of love as they fucked in the moonlight. Their cries mingled with the clanging of the chain, and a new song rose to the sky.


25) Letting Go

My husband placed the lock in my hands, a tiny shock zapping my fingertips. I barely noticed because our connection was always electric. The sturdy metal was a promise to return, a whisper of what the future would hold for the two of us bound together. I looked down at it and smiled to see our initials carved into the surface. He took it from my hands and locked it around the narrow metal rail of the bridge where we’d met a year ago. We kissed and as I leaned into him, I stared down at the water moving away from us and shivered.

Two months later, I received a letter of condolence from the United States Army. The war had claimed another life. What they didn’t realize was that it had claimed mine as well. The pain shattered my soul, left me gasping for air and aching to see him one more time. Desires are often left alone in an empty room. Mine were no different.

A month after that, I continued living in a pit of despair. I tried to dream the future, but my heart kept shutting me down. There was no end to the desolation. Misery would last as long as it needed to. That’s when I remembered the lock.

For a brief moment, the thought gave me joy. I remembered the look upon his face, his kiss and his hand in mine that last day together. It soon gave way to anger. How could he leave me this way? He’d promised me forever together, not forever apart. All of my pain poured into thoughts of that lock on the bridge. I hated it and decided to destroy it.

The moon had risen above the water when I arrived at the bridge. I brought a lock cutter from my father’s toolshed and brandished it like an implement of war. I was going to battle with my pain and I was determined to win.

On the bridge, some of my energy evaporated. I wanted to touch the lock and remember my husband one last time. When I touched the cool metal, a charge raced up my fingers and I was lost in a memory.

It was our wedding night. His hand slid over my cheek and behind my neck. He pulled me in for a kiss, his body pressed against mine. I could feel his hardness between my legs and his hands slid down to cup my ass. I wrapped my legs around his waist as he lifted me into the air and slid inside me. My body resonated with a mindless need for him. He pounded into me as I held onto him, our bodies and hearts connected in the fever of our lovemaking.

I could feel the climax threaten to overcome me when the vision disappeared. It had felt so real. I wasn’t sure whether I could touch the lock again. The vision left me aching and wanting more even though I knew it wasn’t possible. I grabbed the cutters and placed them on the lock. Another sizzle of electricity and a new vision filled my senses.

We were in the middle of a field of flowers on a bright, sunny day. It was a picnic lunch and he was chasing me with a little frog. When he caught me, we fell to the ground where he kissed me while his hands parted my dress. I worried about who might see, but he slid his fingers into my heat and I was lost. My husband watched my face while he played.

“You are so beautiful,” he’d whispered.

He bent his head between my legs and slid his tongue over my clit. My hips arched to meet his touch while the joy of climax blossomed inside. I missed him so much. Tears slid down my cheeks and I fell to the ground. I couldn’t do this anymore. I looked down at the water and wondered if I could join him.

Someone touched my shoulder and I cried out with surprise. I turned to see a man with dark hair and kind eyes. He held his hand out and when I took it, a small shock went up my arm.

“Are you alright?” he asked.

Wiping my tears away, I looked over at the lock. It had opened up. Maybe it was time for me to let go too. I let the man help me stand up.

“I think I will be.”


26) The Willing Prisoner

By day, Alexander Levitsky was a diplomat in the Rezidentura. Tall, unremarkably handsome, and empathetic, he completed his assignments with discipline.

By night, and bimonthly, he relinquished that control to lock and key. Tonight was such a night.

Ignoring the capital’s nightlife, he turned down a quiet, dark street. Approaching the townhouse’s grey door, his pulse quickened.

After he knocked, the intercom crackled in the humid night air. “Name?”

“Jack, asking for Lindsey,” he answered, using the long ago agreed-upon pseudonyms.

There was a loud buzz and a heavy click; he let himself inside, kicking off his shoes. His host didn’t tolerate dirt on the floor.

“Go to your room, Jack.”

A tingle shot down Alexander’s neck. The disembodied, modulated voice echoed through the dimly lit space. His room was upstairs, decorated to resemble a doctor’s office: leather table in the center, small wheeled chair, and a desk at which his host would occasionally take notes.

Or pantomime taking notes, whichever.

He removed his dull, grey suit from his body, stripping down to bare skin. As his host required, he stood next to the table, his back to the door.

A bead of sweat formed between his shoulder blades and traveled down his back. Alexander inhaled deeply, indulging in selfish focus.

“You’re looking well since your last checkup, Jack. I’m pleased that you’ve been following my instructions. Lie on your back.”

“Yes, Doctor Lindsey.”

Alexander climbed atop the examination table and stole a glance at his host. The figure wore a stark-white lab coat, black latex gloves, blue surgeon’s cap and mask, and large goggles upon which small headlamps were affixed. Any gender signifiers were removed: no jewelry, no perfume. The individual also used a voice modulator, so while the voice sounded slightly male, Alexander could never be sure.

Exactly as Alexander liked.

His host stood at the end of the table by Alexander’s feet. “Safeword?”

“Kotik,” he answered. His first lover had called him “pussycat” in Ekaterinburg; the endearment followed him everywhere.

“Thank you.” S/he reached beneath his legs and pulled out the two stirrup bars. Silently, Alexander pressed his heels into the plastic cups and shifted towards the end of the table.

“Arms behind your head, Jack. You know the procedure.”

Alexander did as instructed, fingers intertwined. Brutal metal cuffs wrapped around his wrists. When he heard the click of the padlock, Alexander grunted in appreciation.

Finally, he could be still.

“Let’s begin your treatment.”

His host squirted cold lubricant on his torso and slowly rubbed it into his skin, proceeding further down his body, ignoring the bulge between his legs. When his thighs were as covered as his chest and belly, the massage ceased.

Abruptly, the doctor produced a burning candle and dribbled wax on Alexander’s chest. He groaned and thrust upwards, arms straining against his fetters. Another line of fire dribbled down the center of his belly, miraculously avoiding his thick tuft. Tiny orbs splashed his thighs, their heat leaving an extra sting on the thin, sensitive skin.

Hot wax fell on the imprisoned patient as the doctor commanded, “Move further down the table.”

Panting, Alexander slid his ass forward. He watched with half-open eyes as Doctor Lindsey changed instruments.

“Are you relaxed?”

“Yes, Doctor,” he answered.

“Good. We don’t want this to pinch.”

Alexander groaned as the doctor’s thick, gloved fingers worked lubricant all over his puckered hole. He strained against the cuffs, the lock jingling against the metal. When his hole was breached, Alexander pistoned upward and then back down on the doctor’s finger.

“You’re greedy tonight, Jack. You’ve made progress since our first appointment.”

A firm yet yielding object was positioned at his entrance. Deliberately, the doctor inserted the object into him, twisting it as it proceeded further.

Alexander clenched and unclenched his fists. Hardened wax cracked and fell from his heaving chest. Suddenly, a magnificent rumble rolled through him.

“I’m eager to see how you react to this new treatment, Jack,” Doctor Lindsey muttered.

Alexander struggled against his restraints. He craved these forced sensations coursing through his body, bound without hope of escape. He writhed and moaned as the instrument vibrated within him. It was too powerful, too overwhelming. He didn’t think he could—

Moments passed. The doctor released him from his shackles. The familiar afterglow of danger washed over him; if anyone at the Rezidentura found out, he’d be finished.

Doctor Lindsey seemed to read his mind. S/he caressed his cheek with a gloved hand and whispered, “Doctor-patient confidentiality.”


13 comments

  1. Wow! I’m very impressed with so many of these stories! Nice job everyone and good luck with the voting!

    1. The Asshole- I love the irony at the end of her calling her teenagers gross. I also really like the metaphor of the lock as an albatross. Well done!
    2. Locked in Love’s Embrace- very interesting take on the prompt. I found it a little confusing over what her body was doing vs. what her soul was doing.
    3. Cutting Loose- wow! Very powerful short story. I like Ell, but would like to hear more about Jack. I feel like there are holes that need filling in.
    4. The Game- This felt like a story that one might read in a smutty magazine. Good job!
    5. Property of Miss Trixie- this had great pacing and didn’t feel like 700+ words. Nice job!
    6. Only in Paris- I think this definitely needs to be expanded. Love the characters, but “years” seems like a long time to pass to just buy a ticket to Paris after getting an email.
    7. In Time- very hot! Love the setting! One of my favorites in this round!
    8. Bite Me- this is beautiful, but I’m not sure the title really fits!
    9. Serrature D’Amore- this is very cute, but I’d like to see more smut!
    10. Once Upon a Time- very interesting take on the prompt! I love the characters you create in such a short space. Very nice!!! One of my favorites in this round!
    11. The Kiss of Locks- this was very beautiful but needed another read through to pick up on the missing words and errors.
    12. Piano Duet- I think this piece would have given more of a punch if you had picked either Madame or Florence as the live interest. You don’t devote enough to either to make the story compelling.
    13. An American Abroad- wow! Very hot way to lose your virginity!
    14. Freedom through vandalism- I’d really like to see more smut in this!
    15. Where We Meet- I love how you bring the end back to the beginning. Very well done. Be careful with some of your prepositions, as they seem to not fit with the sentence… “it was perfection, until…” for example.
    16. Locked Out- wow! That was pretty scathing! Nice twist!
    17. The Wait Is Over- I like the idea of the letter- very unique! And I like the setting in time, but I think you could amp up the smut a bit.
    18. I Stand Alone- I liked the setting and your descriptions of what she is doing and why. I also liked the repetition. I don’t know if the shift from “you” to “him” was purposeful, but it was a bit jarring.
    19. Three Weeks, Four Cities- I really liked this! Maybe try playing with the progression of the story… telling the whole thing backwards might work really well.
    20. Unlocked Fantasies- I really like the idea behind this story. Very unique take on the prompt.
    22. A Little Help, Please- very interesting story. I like premise and am impressed with your unusual take on the prompt.
    23. Magnesium & Oxygen- I think I get the point of the story, but the way it is broken up doesn’t work well for me. Also, some of the words you chose seem out of place.
    24. A New Love Song- I kind of want to know what’s going through Jilly’s mind. By her words, I would think it was an angry fuck- that she’s want to punish Katherine.
    25. Letting Go- awwww very sweet ending and some nice, hot parts!
    26. The Willing Prisoner- wow! This was very hot and different. Loved the story… very unique take on the prompt!

  2. For once, I had the “luxury” of being unwell and there being torrential rains in Scotland. This allowed me to escape work and read all the entries in one sitting. The quality of romantic and erotic writing meant that this was really rewarding. Something about relaxing, my fuzzy head, and the non stop rain and thunder and lightening means my feedback may be a little”stream of consciousness”, but I hope still worthwhile. It was a pleasure… EVERY STORY HIT THE SPOT AND RETAINED THE MOOD. I always get horny in thunder and rain anyway 🤣 Thank you ALL.
    So here goes:
    1. the acknowledgement of age difference, the effects of aging in the body… the smut and the complexity of both wanting sex, and the possible realities of a long term relationship. Feels like part of an epic story. Generates many ” what if?” questions. Nice rounded, if brief, use of specific padlock…but great characterisation of someone “locked in life”.
    2. Historic period drama. Very dark, beyond its gentle surface of love and longing. Loved the penis and vagina through the ages element! Enjoyed not liking the main character/protagonist’s actions. Great and focussed use of locks on a bridge.
    3.A story that touches on domestic abuse, liberation…a first time of enjoying one’s body in sex. Focussed use of the padlock as integral to the story. Left me wanting to know more…
    4. Love the quest element. Was stunned that this story could have easily been a prequel to my own! Use of sex toys and technology making it contemporary, game playing. The linking of minds and bodies… Great admiration for the padlock being truly specific and truly being integral to the story. I want to know the mathematical problem😂
    5. Wonderful portrayal of D/s relationship, exhibitionism and the longing to be “in it”. Enjoyed the blunt fucking, the payoff of reward. Cock cage and padlock used well in story.
    6. Loved this story… It has the wonderful quality of fulfilling the “what could have been” story AND the “first time” story without either being a trope. Extra props for it being a same-sex story representation with a happy ending too! We need more of these! Locks beautifully incorporated multiple times… AND also including an historical accuracy of their removal to set the dates… although this is a story of freedom. Loved the epic, cinematic “across the years” elements.
    7.Padlock clearly part of story. Unexpected apocalyptic narrative. Simple (and good) fucking scene. Epic sense of story before and after… Great start to a novel with sex! Left wondering if in a longer story the site and the padlock would come into play again… curious to know why having sex THERE is disrespectful?
    8.Vampyre!!!!! But lovely shift from damsel distressed trope to a full relationship. When will she ask to be turned? The locket being padlock-shaped? Gentle, lovely story telling… Social commentary on women’s rights to pleasure and this being subdued. Love that we are more frightened for her than she ever is. And I like the potential promise of a happy ending ❤️
    9. Like being challenged… Needing to investigate what serrature meant… and loving it means lock in Italian and is a feminine word! Love the instigation of challenge as regards what is romantic, gender roles, expectation (mainly built from cinema and literature). A sense of a couple that is “other”: exploring the thoughts and processes of an autistic/Asperger’s woman? Or is that just my interpretation. I love this story for (I think) edging into new territory of attempting to portray and make visible another aspect of capability in sex and love Locks are included but like the poignancy of how little this kind of symbolism can matter to some people, in a freeing way, where it has taken me years to “get over” worrying about traditions of buying cards and gifts to “evidence, to prove love” I think there MAY be tense issues and grammatical issues at the beginning of this story…but its uniqueness makes me forgive that. I Openly declarate its in my top three this round, I like this story so much!
    9. I want to know so much more, I have so many questions about sex and love here, that I want this to explore, that I have had but have been unable to ask… A sense of perception about being locked in (emotionally) in the normative sense… BUT also free as well as the physical lock. Only remember one other attempt to address this ever. It got a second and third read. Yup. I like this story, its gentle humour and both it’s characters.
    10. Beauty and Beast/The Haunting/Chaucer-type scenario…so much going on, so much more story to come, and so much more “coming” for her… Padlock clearly there… literal and metaphorical. Really enjoyed this period drama…again wanting to know so much more and loved the challenge of the trope about love and sex between two people of different ages being possible… So many wonderful questions… A whole novel?
    11. Beautiful romantic, sexy story. Love the roundness of it, the inclusion of padlocks on multiple layers… the implications that maybe these are two slightly older lovers experiencing each other for the first time after a long friendship. The story makes me happy.
    12. Historic humour-filled story. Loved Madam Conflans. Gentle period feel… lovely characters and quirks… Plenty of locks and keys!
    13. Great quick hard fuck. The stimulus of padlock was not used as integrally as in many stories. Would question a reworking maybe as regards consent issues. I know he asks and gets a nod, but ideally after the power imbalance there would be more? So much I like about this story and this isn’t about pain, or the mention of blood. Just another look at symbols and indicators? I like sex to sound dangerous…but I can’t quite get passed all these men laughing as she receives a drink…and her getting very drunk one glass of wine as if it’s drugged. I like to think we have all enjoyed great sex from dubious decisions… just writing about it requires a real precision and balance in theme or narrative resolution.I wrote this after reading the story five times… more thought and time than I gave any other story, because I also liked so much about this story as a “first time” experience, but could not let this pass without concern. This is honestly about a discussion, rather than a closed judgement…
    I have some stories in me that I want to consider but exploring this balance of exploring the pleasure “darker sexual experiences” is something I could not pass without noting this.
    14. Loved Fox and Hunter…lots of humour that made me laugh out loud, and tension and play…I saw a sexy Scooby Doo style cartoon come to mind. Was that the torch? Great use of padlock, enticing use of what might (and who might come). Love their sarcasm and mockery of one another….Velma and Fred or Velma and The Hooded Claw🤯?
    15. One of the best pieces of writing based on sex alone. Great character description. Mentions and includes padlocks.
    16. Sound revenge sex that includes link to padlock.
    17. Wonderful historic, specific pin-point in time. Emotional gentle narrative exploring a love that at its beginning was considered (relatively) forbidden. Maybe the most romantic story in this round. Gentle mention of padlocks.
    19. A sad and beautiful snap shot of a summer romance. Plenty of well written sex and intimacy with some link to the padlock image. Maybe needed the metaphor or motif a little more to truly fulfil its role?
    20. Great fantasy group sex story…a sense of more to come in an epic sense… and Casanova! Usual, but full narrative use of lock and key from stimulus.
    21. Ultimate exhibitionism! Nice “green” and romantic take on using padlock. Great use of stimulus as sexual stimulation/sex toy in the narrative.
    22. A complex threesome. A snapshot of sex, sexuality, and reminds me of real life stories of sex workers supporting couples…I applaud this…more should be written on this! Again interesting use of a padlock in the story, adding a roundness to Jerome as long time facilitator. Creates lots of questions and potential discussion… and what happens next… But I enjoyed the fact that this was an apparently guilt free celebration of love, sex, support and trust in a relationship changed by disability.
    23. Interesting piece opening thoughts and discussion about how mourning can affect people, and the relationships that can form, including sexual ones after someone, mutually loved, has died. Some great, blunt, raw sex. Like the use of the padlock in the narrative. I think the story may be stronger with a restructuring, especially some of the information given to the reader in the last paragraph. Asked a few people’s perspective about the one line that seems to come out of all context and so bothers me (and all those I spoke to): please reconsider the metaphor about an ADHD child.
    24. Great use of padlock/key stimulus. Beautifully duplicitous story. Questions about whether she survives? The wonderful twist of the wife’s involvement… and a celebration, if dark celebration, of bisexuality… maybe the only one explicit in this round. Great all round period-specific scene setting, uncomfortable reading… and nastiness, for all the right reasons. Historic dialogues created about women, their rights, their “role” as possessions in and out of marriage. A wonderful deviant, defiant lead… great all round characterisation…some hope by the end… well written sex, and darkly sexy…and a use of a sex toy! What more could you want from a story? I want to hear much much more!
    25. A terribly sad story of love, loss, mourning and eventual hope. Lovely snapshots of sex and intimacy. Loved it ended with some little hope. Padlock as key story element and metaphor worked very well.
    26. Ok. I loved this story…lots of sexual contact, BDSM play…a very different take on the padlock theme. Medical play laced with a little palpable erotic fear in the part of Alexander. Left me wanting to know far far more about his bi-monthly visits. Again, felt like this passage could play out as part of a much larger story (that may or may not be about sex) AND ever more extreme sexual experience and reasons behind that want. Props for positive representation of a skilled, professional sex worker too!

  3. My top stories were: (in no particular order)
    9 – Serraire d’Amor
    11- The Kiss of Locks
    18- I stand Alone
    26- Willing Prisoner

    I have to admit that this round there were more than one story that as I read it and finished I was very confused. I didn’t see how the story flowed or connected to itself. That surprised me, usually that only happens maybe once…

    Overall the quality of the stories was awesome as usual… Nicely done folks! I am always happy to be counted with this talented company!!

  4. 1 – “The Asshole”
    I’m not sure I love the title, but I get it. The opening catches attention and the dialogue builds the plot and characters well, as does the narration. My favorite paragraph begins with “The first time I gave myself permission…” It is perfectly written and truly gets at the conflict of the entire story. I also like how the expletives in the dialogue at the opening are used again in the end to tie the story together. While the situation described in the story (infidelity) may not be unique, the story is nicely written and the main character was easy to identify with and empathize with. The sex compliments and supports the story without overpowering it. And it felt complete. This was my second choice.

    2 – “Locked in Love’s Embrace”
    This one felt terribly disjointed and left me feeling confused throughout. I wasn’t sure at first if Mille was a ghost, or what? And the narrative jumped around too much. I never had a sense of Claude or their relationship, just a series of unrelated events that left me dazed and my brow furrowed.

    3 – “Cutting Loose”
    The opening dialogue instantly pulled me in a had my mind wondering! Good technique. And I like how the author holds back information, slowly doling out details just enough to keep me wondering and reading. A very unique narrative, slightly veiled. I wondered a bit about the padlock and the life that Jack was liberating her from, and that caused my mind to wander a bit with questions and confusion, wondering if I’d missed something, but overall, the story worked. The final line was quite satisfying.

    4 – “The Game”
    This one does a similar thing to #3…that teasingly slow unraveling of details (this time through snippets of vague dialogue) to keep the reader guessing and following (What is “it”? What is she supposed to pick?). And I must say I was quite intrigued by the game he created for her. And while the idea was a good one, I felt it really lent itself to a longer story.

    5 – “Property of Miss Trixie”
    The context of the story was unique and the angle worked well for this prompt. The main character came across in depth, but, for some reason, I didn’t feel as engaged in the story once the sex scene began. Though, the story came together in the end with the lock, however sappy it might have been.

    6 – “Only in Paris”
    I love this opening line! But, I felt, by the end, it didn’t quite fit…because she obviously had the opportunity and impetus to love her elsewhere. The story itself was good, though. I found myself fully caught up in the conflict of the lost lock and the apprehension over the two characters meeting again and finally having sex. The final line tried very hard to tie into the first, but it was clumsy and left me wanting. It just didn’t live up to the opener, which seems to beg another story, altogether; but to change the opener to “I’d only loved her in Paris” would have ruined it. I feel like the story should have stopped with “…we’ll have to take it with us.”

    7 – “In Time”
    Another that begins with dialogue! An awesome way to immediately draw the reader in with questions. And I love how this author sets the scene: blackened trees…ruined benches…brittle bones…and the image of the birds. The narration, dialogue, and description blend seamlessly, and the language flows effortlessly (though I know that takes a lot of effort to create!). The erotic pieces fit in without feeling forced or overdone. I love how this story is both nostalgic, unique, and ends with promise. It leaves the story feeling untethered by its boundaries. This story is perfect, in my opinion, and is a clear front-runner. I chose this one over “The Asshole” because the situation was much more interesting than infidelity. This was my first choice (pretty much from first reading).

    8 – “Bite Me”
    Scene-setting, especially focusing in on one element of the scene, is another way to effectively begin a story. My immediate question in this story was, why is she unloading this confession to her captor? Why does she trust him? Have they been together before? Do they know each other? But the story is, nonetheless, constructed of beautiful language, and I do love the gothic romance of it all. Even though I wonder was has transpired before the story (between these two characters), there is a sweetness between them that develops naturally, and the pace of the story works. I do find the title silly and beneath the quality of the writing. I’m pleasantly surprised that I liked a vampire story, which I normally do not.

    9 – “Serrature d’Amore”
    I found myself wanting to understand the female character in this story more…why she doesn’t seem to understand or follow cultural predilections or social expectations. That left me feeling unfulfilled as a reader, though I did find her intriguing and wanted to know more about her.

    10 – “Once Upon a Time”
    This story felt disjointed, not only because of the shifting tenses, but also because of the bits of action and story that don’t quite blend together. It’s almost as if the story was written and then chunks were taken away to meet the word count. It feels clipped and not quite done.

    11 – “The Kiss of Locks”
    I like this story. It’s sweet and romantic and takes the concept of the locks to a whole new place of art. I felt, however, that the erotic moment was forced and shoved in unnaturally. I’m not sure if that was to save space or if the writer felt a sexual encounter was necessary. Either way, it wasn’t quite satisfying. And the last two lines, while good, felt tacked on and unrelated to the preceding dialogue. I tried to picture Jean’s sculpture and would love to see it actually done. It’s sounds woefully complicated, considering the intricacy of Klimt’s mosaic style, but I’m definitely intrigued.

    12 – “Piano Duet”
    While I find the concept of the seduction in this story to be sexy in a cute, game-like sort of way, I thought the beginning of the story was clumsy and disconnected and that the build-up of the piano scene moved too quickly. The final line is delicious, however, and creates a very sultry image. What a minx!

    13 – “An American Abroad”
    A fluid beginning, blending narration, dialogue, and setting beautifully. All of the basics of the exposition are lined out nicely. I was a little bothered by the repetitive sentence structure (most begin with “the” or a pronoun…subject/verb construction) and I wondered how his mouth could slide down her throat…and the story kind of fell apart from there, going nowhere fast.

    14 – “Freedom through vandalism”
    This story does a nice job of building momentum from start to finish. The characters come through in detail and sense of mounting possibility remains in the current of their dialogue. I like that the author doesn’t force sex into the story too quickly, but simply brings it up in the character’s mind, so it doesn’t feel rushed or out of place. I think it’s the only way it could work for this piece. Nothing amazing or memorable happens in this story. No twist or mystery unveiled, but it’s still nicely done.

    15 – “Where We Meet”
    So, I’m assuming this is just where this girl takes her men before she fucks them? At first, I was totally confused, wondered if she was just dreaming the sex scene in her head, but I went back and checked the names…Nathan…Giovanni. Okay…but there’s little story here. Mostly, it’s just a sex scene with a few bits of detail losely holding it together. And for me, that’s not enough. I do like the idea of the wrap-around, though – going back to the bridge and repeating the same scene.

    16 – “Locked Out”
    Huh…interesting twist. I did like that. But I felt this story’s pacing was off. It seemed so unbelievable that a stranger could just walk up to a “sweet, wholesome, good” married woman and have her in bed within hours. I just didn’t buy it, and the characters didn’t make me believe it, either.

    17 – “The Wait is Over”
    This is sweet, and I like the letter concept. But…it didn’t really feel like a “story.” I felt no sense of conflict, even though the problem was obviously the inability to freely marry and the court decision solved that. I left this one feeling like…oh – that’s all?

    18 – “I stand alone”
    The clipped sentences and deluge of listed details immediately give this story a sense of momentum and suspense, as does the repetition of words and phrases. It isn’t quite a story (more a scene, I’d say) in the sense that many of the others are, but there is still conflict and resolution, dialogue and characterization. And it definitely gave me cause to bite my lip a few times, so the erotic bits were successfully written from start to finish!

    19 – “Three Weeks, Four Cities”
    It’s a bit of a clipped beginning, but I understand, considering the word limit. The initial description of the characters’ meeting is spot-on, very well-written. I especially like the narrative structure, end to beginning, though it does take paying attention to follow. No major plot twists or anything…just a good story with well-developed characters.

    20 – “Unlocked fantasies”
    This one is built on a pretty cute idea, but it felt rushed. Maybe too many fantasies, not enough time? The Casanova bit made me smile. I think this would work for a longer story, but I couldn’t find a way to connect with this short version. It jumped from fantasy to fantasy before I had a chance to really get a grip on anything.

    21 – “Symbols of Love”
    Maybe it’s personal, but I had a hard time liking Izzy. That doesn’t make the story bad, but it caused me to struggle with the connection between the characters. Plenty of good stories are built on unlikeable characters, but I think my biggest battle with this story is that it felt as if the sex scene overpowered the “story” (even though it takes up less than half of it)…and the story faded into the background. Also, the end sort of fizzled…better to have ended with “I follow suit.”

    22 – “A Little Help, Please?”
    Thoughtful opener! (But how do you lock a shed with a padlock from the inside?) This is a unique story. I quite like the conflict that Drake’s disability presents and how the author handled the sex scene by adding a helping hand to make it happen. I wanted to know if this was a usual occurrence or if she was just so damned horny that having a third in the room just didn’t factor in for her. She behaved as if this were normal for them. That was the only detail that didn’t quite work for me. But maybe that is because I am putting myself in her shoes. I’d be a little more reticent. Overall…this was a good story.

    23 – “Magnesium & Oxygen”
    “Their darting tongues acted as an ADHD-kid stuck in a classroom for too long.” This was a jarring metaphor for me and brought me right out of the sexy scene. And how do you resemble a lock? I had difficulty with that image. I take it she’s fucking her sister’s lover/husband after her sister has died, and that works, I suppose. But I felt the story was secondary to the sex (after all, the story is really just in the italics), and that left me wanting. In erotic fiction, I feel the sex should compliment and bolster the story, adding to it, rather than subduing it or overpowering it.

    24 – “A New Love Song”
    Nicely done! It’s well-written, describes an interesting conflict, and twists things up at the end. I like how the strand of the song pulls things together. I was a little confused about the relationship with Mr. A/Jilly. While I love that she ends up with Jilly (the twist), I’m wondering why she would have been with Mr. A. And I had a sense that, with her characterization, she would have been the seducer, not Mr. A. In a longer story, I feel these details would have come to light.

    25 – “Letting Go”
    This is another where the subject/verb sentence structure impeded my enjoyment of the story. Maybe I’m a grammar nerd and I need to get over it, but the repetitive nature of “pronoun and article” beginnings take power from the language. The lack of transition phrases leave the sentences feeling stacked and unconnected. But the pieces of the story are stacked and unconnected, as well.

    26 – “The Willing Prisoner”
    Lots of decadent little details in this one, which is hard to do when under the wire of a word limit. The story presents a unique scene, and though it isn’t a story in the sense that it has a climax/turning point and resolution to a conflict, it does present the problem of his tenuous position as a diplomat seeking “alternative” sexual pleasures. I was confused by the title, though; the image of prisoner doesn’t fit with his chosen fantasy of doctor/patient. Satisfyingly witty ending.

    I had a lot of trouble ranking these stories (aside from #7 and #1). I ended up having to print my top choices out and physically put them in place. My third through 9th choice all had similar strengths and weaknesses, so it sort of came down to which ones I liked better than others. #19 ended up being my last choice, namely because the non-linear narrative structure loosened it an made it harder to follow. I put #26 and #18 at the top of my pile because they didn’t leave me with any questions. #24, #22, 14, and #8 all left me with a few unanswered questions, and therefore ranked lower in my top ten.

  5. I think this prompt is a love hate thing. Some people love the picture prompt and others hate it. I was excited to see what you would all come up with and the result is a delightful mix of really fabulous work. I will say again though that to stay in the game at this stage you really do have to stand out from the crowd, not just with good writing but with a story that captures the attention and so the key here (excuse the pun) was to do something different than the traditional retelling of the lock on the bridge love story.

    My feedback is in story order but I have marked the ones I voted for. As always if you want to discuss your piece more feel free to get in touch.

    1. The Asshole (10 points)
    Brilliant.

    I love how you twist this round on the reader. At first you assume the guy is going to be the asshole but then it becomes clear that is not the case. You have told us a whole story, why and who and what and the sex is all the more filthy and hot for being so taboo. Also the padlock image whilst not being front and centre is absolutely core to the story. Really great writing.

    2. Locked in Love’s Embrace

    Really not at all sure what is happening in this story. Does she die when Claude leaves, why would her spirit leave her body? And I really don’t understand what happens in the third paragraph to change her from love to lust. The story just does not flow and as a result the sex is not sexy at all.

    3. Cutting Loose (8 points)

    Really unique take on the prompt. I admit to being a tiny bit confused at the first mention of the belt and the lock but you did a good job of keeping me engaged and revealing the rest of the plot. The description of him going down on her made me crave that, so well done and it is all woven into a tender love story. Not the most sex filled piece but a really good story that gave me feels.

    4. The Game
    I really like this. It is definitely a unique take on the prompt but there is also something about it that doesn’t work for me and it actually took me 2 or 3 reads to figure it out and I think it is that the plot of overly complicated for the word count. This is something I have said in previous rounds, to not fall into the trap of basically writing a synopsis of a longer story and I think that is the problem here. It is a great idea for a story but it needs to be longer, so that there is more time for the tasks and we get to be party to the clues and her attempts to crack them. Otherwise the tasks and her getting the clues seem barely related and so the story is missing any real tension

    5. Property of Miss Trixie
    This is a lovely sweet story and I did really enjoy the wonderful fuck on the bridge but overall I feel this piece has some awkward sentence structure issues that make it tricky to read at times such as
    “As I obediently drove towards our destination her fingers stroked my thigh and with relish, she revealed only lingerie lay beneath her coat.”

    6. Only in Paris
    Be careful of making simple mistakes like this
    “sipping champaign.” It should be Champagne and with a capital C

    This is a sweet story but the gap between their times together and the way they fell instantly back into it with no tension or recrimination about the years lost just didn’t work for me. It was all too easy.

    7. In Time
    OK maybe this is me but I need to know how they survived the last 2 years, just one or two lines to give them that history. There is no reference to them starving or scared or alone, only to what has happened to the earth and without that it feels like it has had little effect on them. Also why shouldn’t they fuck there? I didn’t get what was the significance to that spot apart from the padlocks which surely made it the ideal spot to fuck?

    8. Bite Me
    This is a really good line “Let me sup on her lifeblood as she gasped her completion when my fangs pierced her skin and my cock pierced her body.” But overall I feel like this story rambles and nothing much really happens. There is no real tension or even much connection between them, it is all about his lust/love. She might as well be a doll.

    9. Serrature d’Amore (4 points)

    This is a really brave piece but I think you totally nailed it. The connection between these two really works, despite her not seeing the world quite as others do you captured her innocence and vulnerability beautifully and how he loves her for her. It is more a romance piece than smut though but it is very well written

    10. Once Upon a Time
    I really liked her offering but I really don’t understand what happened between them that meant he stopped talking to her. Because the wedding night sex? And also I couldn’t quite get a handle on the passage of time. In some moments it feels like they have been married a while and in others like it was a very recent thing. I think this one needs some work to flesh it out a bit more.

    11. The Kiss of Locks
    A great take on the prompt. Imaginative way to bring the locks into the story and bring these two lovers together finally.
    I do love this line
    For a brief forever, they lost sense of anything but each other.
    However watch out for mistakes
    “She wanted him continue for a year” it is missing a word.
    There is some good writing here for sure but the sex is slightly he did, she did, descriptions rather than how it felt, sounds, tastes. I feel like that part of the story needs a bit of work to make it flow more and feel more urgent and passionate.

    12. Piano Duet
    I do like this tale. You definitely told us a story and gave us some fabulous characters to engage with but the ending is lacking something. It really does just seem to stop and so maybe some editing to tighten up earlier parts would have given you more space to play with the ending.

    13. An American Abroad ( 9 points)
    This is possibly the sexiest first time PIV story I have ever read. I really like how you wove consent into this story in a way that it was very clear but also really hot. The whole sense of adventure at her trip and that abandoning of self and doing something out of character while traveling totally worked and I love that she remembered the name on one of locks and not the name of the man who fucked her, that was a lovely touch that really connected this piece to the prompt. The only reason you missed the 10 points is because the sex in that piece was just slightly hotter to me than in this.

    14. Freedom through vandalism ( 6 points)
    I do really like this one. His little comment about the collar that catches her off guard it brilliant and then her wonderings are supremely hot. The way she is flustered by him but also drawn to him is done really well. He comes across as very sexy and you achieve that without even describing him which is testament to your writing and excellent dialogue. The only reason this didn’t score higher is the ending just doesn’t fit and her suddenly taking control loses the tension created by her being slightly on the back foot.

    15. Where We Meet (5 points)
    I really like this one and the sex is fucking hot but I was very confused by the ending. Is it suggesting she does this regularly with different men? It took me a little while to fathom that out and if that is the case then this piece needs a tiny bit of reworking to make that twist a bit more obvious and maybe some reason for why. Apart from that though, bravo

    16. Locked Out
    I totally didn’t see that coming although I guess I am a tiny bit confused how taking her to bed is revenge for her stealing her man? As a result the end feels really unsatisfactory.

    17. The Wait Is Over
    It is perfectly fine writing but I just didn’t connect with this story. It is obviously meant to be a love letter but it just doesn’t feel like one. Sorry

    18. I stand alone
    I love this line… “It trickles down the gutter of my spine to pool between the cheeks of my ass.” But there are also a fair few sentences where I really don’t understand what they mean or what is happening such as
    “I sense auras: they flee across the bridge as rain pours.”
    and
    “I breathe adrenaline into those fingers in anticipation of what is yet to come.”

    It is a hard piece to read, I just found it didn’t flow very well and nothing about it really turned me on either.

    19. Three Weeks, Four Cities (2 points)
    There is some excellent writing here and the description of the sex is full of urgency and lust and I love it but I did find the thread of the story a little bit hard to follow that required me to read multiple parts of it more than once to understand what was happening when but the real problem in this story is this whole paragraph

    Later we walk to dinner across the Makartsteg Bridge. I lift her like we’re at the prow of the Titanic, bringing her down in front of a startled couple tearfully fixing a lovelock to the chain railing. I raise an eyebrow as we walk away, only to shake my head before the look of horror on her face has fully formed.

    “Kidding. We’re not wankers.”

    I genuinely have no idea what is happening here which is such a shame as otherwise this piece would have scored really highly.

    20. Unlocked fantasies
    Very unique take on the prompt so much so that the link to it is very tenuous indeed and leaves me wondering if this story really does fit the brief but I do very much like it and I would very much like to drink from that fountain. However I also feel like this is one of those stories that really needed more words to create a bigger build up and slide into the fantasies as it all felt a bit abrupt at that point in the story where it just starts happening.

    21. Symbols of Love
    It’s a nice story and you have definitely tried to do something a little different than the lock on the bridge love story by making it f/f and also by creating the bit of tension with one of them thinking it is silly but it’s not enough in my opinion at this stage to really make this story stand out from the crowd.

    22. A Little Help, Please
    This is beautifully done. The connection between the couple is loving and tender but also sexy however I found Jerome’s role a little confusing. One moment he is touching her and then he is mostly forgotten about and then reappears again. I just feel like that dynamic and maybe the build up to this moment between the three of them and any nerves they had were needed to give it more context. It is a great story but maybe overly complex for the short word count. 1500 words and I think it would be extraordinary but like this it just seems to be missing too much.

    23. Magnesium & Oxygen
    “Their darting tongues acted as an ADHD-kid stuck in a classroom for too long.”
    I am sorry what?
    The whole opening paragraph is an overly complex description of the sex that had me drawing diagrams to work it out rather than getting off on it.

    The one bit I really did like though is “You want to fanny?” I was confused at first but the explanation made me smile and was my favourite part of this piece.

    24. A New Love Song (3 points)
    This is damn good writing. Her totally acceptance of her perceived depravity and punishment is really fucking hot and I totally didn’t see the twist at the end coming. The only reason you didn’t score higher is the link to the prompt feels a bit weak.

    25. Letting Go
    You definitely tried something a bit different by making the lock magical but it is all too neat and tidy with the arrival of a man at the end of ‘save her’. To be honest it would have been a much more powerful story if she had stayed on the bridge reliving all their sex over and over until she wasted away, or maybe that is just me being a bit dark. However it would have made this story really stand out and that is what you need to do in Smut Marathon.

    26. The Willing Prisoner (7 points)
    This is really good writing. It ticked my medical play kink in a big way and is most definitely smut with a capital S but I can’t decide if you have strayed too far from the prompt or not. Having said that there is nothing in the rules that says it has to be about the lock and you have used the names from the lock in a way that works absolutely seamlessly within the story. Update….Having now read this a couple of times I have decided that actually you have done what we all keep advising you to do; something different and actually you have taken just one part of the image prompt and run with that and as a result you have written a piece that stands out from the others as being unique. Bold move but one I think that has worked.

  6. As the standard now needs to be even higher I’ve been more particular with my feedback, which has less sugar-coating, but wanted all the writers to know that I think that these are all great, high-quality stories – thank you for such enjoyable stories. I often find critical feedback hard to take and so totally understand if you don’t wish to read it, however well-intentioned it is (I even fed back on my own piece having subsequently seen errors and room for improvement). That said…locks on a bridge stories were a bit too common! I’ll check back here again in case you want to feed back on my feedback.

    1) The Asshole. “I grabbed my clothes which had been left in a trail” would have read better and not started the story off with confusion (but I know that word counts can be restrictive). I think “47 year old” should be hyphenated, i.e. “47 year-old”. The smut in this was also too brief.

    2) Locked in Love’s Embrace. “the Paris summer afternoon” – this may have read better if it had been “the Parisian summer afternoon” or “a Paris summer afternoon”. The third sentence could do with some punctuation. “Her body, still working and living” – this confused me; why was her body being described in this way? The “spirit” part of this paragraph was too separate from the “body” part. From the fifth paragraph the hit of eroticism is powerful, excellent, in fact it reminded me of the brilliance of Anaïs Nin. “no one caring who’s cock” should have been “no one caring whose cock”. The final paragraph was confusing, perhaps because you’ve packed a whole lot in to this denouement.

    3) Cutting Loose. “me—never for too long—whenever” – I think this needs spaces before and after the dashes. “Do you remember the first time…” – no, not really, and I therefore now feel a little removed from the story. The commas before the ‘ands’ in the sentence beginning “I remember stiffness” really slow the pace down when I would have liked it to be much faster. A lot of the sentences here have a comma before an ‘and’, which seems unnecessary.

    4) The Game. “More infuriating” would have read better as “Particularly infuriating”. “building to blows” – blows to where…? “He had asked to see me come” – I have no preference on the spelling of ‘cum’ vs ‘come’, but the latter spelling here made me initially wonder where he’d asked her to come to. “give it to you now if you wanted and tell you” – I think this sentence could have done with a comma before and after “if you wanted”. Loved the story!

    5) Property of Miss Trixie. Because this is written as the main character’s thoughts, it would have benefitted from contractions (e.g. “Yes, there’d be” instead of “Yes, there would be”) to make it less formal. “It was a little later than we’d normally head out, a few days after the arrival of the new cage” – this sentence implies to me that they usually head out earlier whenever a new cage arrives. “her D/s handle” – may want to be careful using terms such as D/s as some of your readers may not know what it means (I do and so it didn’t detract for me!). “and with relish,” should I think be “and, with relish,”. “My own situation was cock not caged” – this didn’t really make sense. “into my mind. Causing” should be a comma, not a full stop.

    6) Only in Paris. “I can’t think of the city without thinking” – I think (!) this repetition of ‘think’ would have worked better if you’d put “without also thinking”. “thinner, hipper, version” should be “thinner, hipper version”. The last line seemed a bit clumsy and I wonder if it could have been better phrased. Great characters though, and an excellent story idea, well done!

    7) In Time. “gently massaging her clit through the fabric then shift” – this needed a comma after ‘fabric’. ““What the fuck was that?” she asks.” – this sentence jarred, it was an unexpected reaction. Superb story, which had me skimming through on first read to see how it ended.

    8) Bite Me. “she clung to me and in the meager gaslight” – think this would have read better as “she clung to me. In the meager gaslight”. “needs, and feed from” – no need for a comma here. The sentence beginning “It took all my resolve to fight” seemed a bit jumbled. Really enjoyable read though.

    9) Serrature d’Amore. “insatiable hunger for each other however” – could do with a comma before “however”. “high-res clarity, is on a mission” – putting “is” like this after the comma is a bit clunky. “purpose and function of every pixel” – this reads as though she’s studying pixels rather than the world. “reads uncertainty, vulnerability” – again, using the comma like this seems clunky. “Damn! This is not the time! he scolds himself. We’re trying to have a Tender Moment here!” – Some of this is italicised and some isn’t. ““I believe you.” she says, and squirms against him. “Also,” – should be a capital ‘s’ on “She”. Although imaginative, this story didn’t contain much smut.

    10) Once Upon a Time. This is probably personal preference, but the second paragraph contains a lot of “she”s. Good story!

    11) The Kiss of Locks. Really long sentence to begin with, could perhaps have worked better if broken up. I think the second sentence would have read better if written “Puzzled, Jean wound through the streets of Paris to the designated alley, turned into a courtyard and stopped dead.”. “Jean’s stare followed up a trail of sparks find Esmeé” – this didn’t make sense. “that week was first time you told me” – this needed a ‘the’ between “was” and “first”. “For a brief forever” – not sure about this, maybe a bit too poetic! Beautiful story, great job.

    12) Piano Duet. “Well not life as such but women” could possibly done with a comma or two to break this up. “She had shoulder length reddish hair” – this sentence would have benefitted from some punctuation. “She held it to my nose.’” – superfluous quote mark. Not really much smut and the ending seemed a bit abrupt.

    13) An American Abroad. “surf crashing against the rocks and the sun” – this needed a comma after ‘rocks’.

    14) Freedom through vandalism. “her need flared up” – this may have been better without the ‘up’. I like how the smut is contained within what she’s imagining, but the smut to story ratio was a bit too low for me.

    15) Where We Meet. “bars weren’t doing it anymore” – bars aren’t doing what? “Damned if he didn’t kiss like a man” – think this should have been “Damn” rather than “Damned”. “from a virtual stranger, for all they’d talked online” – this didn’t really work for me and I wonder if there may have been another way to get across that he wasn’t really a stranger, even though they’d just met. “until he followed it with his dick” – the “until” makes me think that something is going to detract from that perfection. The ending was confusing, why are they repeating the conversation? Why has he forgotten what sort of bridge it is?

    16) Locked Out. “on path with a bridge” – missing an ‘a’ between “on” and “path”. ““stumble”” – I’m not sure about using quotation marks around actions, especially when the speech uses double quotation marks too. Clever ending.

    17) The Wait Is Over. “texts, emails, and phone calls” – not sure this needed a comma after “emails”. “warm and soft, and we kissed” – a lot of “and”s following (sometimes necessary) commas, I think the “and” is unnecessary here. “felt your love for love” – a bit of an odd sentence. “across this globe representing our unbreakable bond” – makes it seem as though the globe represents their untreatable bond (perhaps a comma after “globe” would have helped).

    18) I stand alone. “Still I stand still” – the repetition of “still” was a bit jarring. “a We Vibe Jive Love Egg” – this is potentially confusing for the audience, who may have no idea what one of these is (I’m not entirely sure I do!). “rises up from in my loins” – didn’t like the “in” here. “Vibration increases” – the lack of definite article in this sentence stands out because the rest of your writing does have definite articles. “Eyes open now,” – I think this needed a full stop rather than a comma. Great idea for a story.

    19) Three Weeks, Four Cities. “meet-cute” – hyphenated in this way it seems as though meet-cute is a single word. “4zl shots” – I’ve never heard of zl as a measurement, maybe other readers won’t have either and so perhaps this would have been better without the “4zl”. “walks like helr face” – typo. “feels like the luxury” – no need for “the” here. The ~ above “From Salzburg” seems unnecessary, plus there should probably be a line space.

    20) Unlocked fantasies. “since it had been carved from wood” – makes it sound as though Venice has been carved from wood. ““Isn’t she remarkable?” Said one” – I don’t think the “s” on “Said” should be capitalised. “she enjoyed the discomfort” – discomfort of being lowered, or the flagstones? “fantasies,Marianne” – missing a space after the comma. “by the black-haired, brown-eyed man” – should maybe have been “by a black-haired, brown-eyed man”. The sex scenes ended too abruptly.

    21) Symbols of Love. “engagement, and as I pull it out, she” – I don’t think this needed the second comma. “”As a hot symbol of our love?” – this is missing the closing quotation mark. “I tweak her nipple with my thumb” – wouldn’t tweaking require a finger too? “She moans softly as a press harder” should be “She moans softly as I press harder”.

    22) A Little Help, Please. “her reading from Phillips and Botsman” – who are Phillips and Botsman? “Drake relished in the musky sweetness” – can you relish in something? I think the “in” may be superfluous. Really, REALLY hot scenario.

    23) Magnesium & Oxygen. A couple of excessively long paragraphs, which makes it harder to read. The italicised paragraphs are confusing, I’m not sure why they’ve been formatted this way. “but she insisted to go through the park” should possibly have been “but she insisted on going through the park”. “Even the kind they both carried.” – I think this would have worked better if you’d used a comma after “darkness”, as a standalone sentence the ‘kind’ could relate to the brightness or the darkness. “Their darting tongues acted as an ADHD-kid stuck in a classroom for too long.” – bored? “The rapture created Jennifer to collapse” – should have been ’caused’ rather than ‘created’? “dwindle in the past they” – needed a comma after “past”.

    24) A New Love Song. Perfect (apart from maybe an excessive use of the Oxford comma!)

    25) Letting Go. “I brought a lock cutter from my father’s toolshed and brandished it like an implement of war. I was going” – this should perhaps have read “I had brought a lock cutter”, as otherwise you’re switching tenses. “slid down to cup my ass” followed by “slid inside me” – would have been better if you’d found another word for the second “slid”.

    26) The Willing Prisoner. Supremely imaginative, perfectly written.

  7. When I receive the stories before the voting round goes live, I very briefly read the stories to make sure the required elements are there, and to make sure there is nothing illegal in the stories. Once the voting round is live, I start doing my feedback, using the same anonymized file I send the jury. Then I tend to read the stories a couple of times, and do my feedback.

    1) The Asshole: What I really like about this story is that for once it’s the women who’s the asshole and not the men. Another thing I like is how you have woven the lock into the story. Yes, you mentioned it twice, but you also crafted a story which showed how locked up she feels in her perfect little life. This story is one of my favorites.

    2) Locked in Love’s Embrace : This started out promising, but you lost me from the third paragraph. Somewhere further on in the story I thought I understood it, but then you lost me again. Even after a third and fourth reading the story didn’t become clearer. Sorry, but I might be missing somewhere along the way.

    3) Cutting Loose: I simply love this story. You have crafted something beautiful here, something tender and loving, but also sexy. I like your writing style, the way you tell a story. This story also counts as one of my favorites. I also like how you have worked with the names on the lock.

    4) The Game: A nice way to use the prompt, with not another lock added to the bridge, but taking one from it for a different locking purpose. Nicely done.

    5) Property of Miss Trixie: The way you have used more than one lock here is nice. I just didn’t find the story erotic, but that’s me, not you. Sorry.

    6) Only in Paris: A sweet story of love, and yes, Paris is all about love. Where I really liked this story, in some places I found it difficult to read. Maybe if you combine more sentences in one paragraph it will read less ‘staccato’. With all the white lines now (which to me also indicates a pause), the story sometimes doesn’t flow as well.

    7) In Time: I always like stories where there is a kind of dystopia, or the imaginings of a world that’s not as we have known it. You have managed to sketch a good picture of that world, and you have used the lock, and there is sex here, but still this story leaves me with questions. Why are they the only two left? If the ocean water is thick like blood and everything has been destroyed, where do they get their food and water from and even have energy to have sex?

    8) Bite Me: I read the first four paragraphs and each of them felt like the beginning of the story. In my opinion you could have left these out of your story and started with the dialogue. There are some more confusing paragraphs further on in the story. I think it would’ve been clearer had you elaborated a bit more about the significance of the padlock and Elise.

    9) Serrature d’Amore: I really like the clip-clear way in which Lara talks. It reminds me of Sheldon on Big Bang Theory, but also the pure honesty of my autistic son. This kind of dirty talk really IS sexy!

    10) Once Upon a Time: I like the way the lock comes back in this story not only as a padlock, but also the way she is locked in with him and her feelings. I also like how she steps out of that by masturbating in front of him, and wish I know how he reacts to that.

    11) The Kiss of Locks: A beautiful, playful, sexy story. I don’t speak French, and where I only recognize some of the French in this piece, it didn’t take me out of the story like usage of foreign language mostly does. This means the story is strong enough even when the French is not understood. Well done.

    12) Piano Duet: Such a naughty little girl. At first I thought that the part of Madame Conflans could’ve been left out of the story, but it’s because of knowing about her and what she did that the part about Florence is so strong.

    13) An American Abroad: Oh the things we did when we were younger, to be in the moment and not think about the consequences, not even think about proper consent. This story took me back to my early twenties, where I had one-night-stands which, now looking back on them, shouldn’t have happened. This story is well written, with no lose ends and I like the way you have used the prompt.

    14) Freedom through vandalism: I like the setting for the story, but to me the story is not a smooth read. One thing that instantly took me out of your story is how you use ‘Mr. Hunter’ at first and then ‘Mr Hunter’ which made me watch for the ‘.’ in the rest of the story, and had me having to go back and read the story from the beginning and trying to ignore this. I also don’t think someone would just talk about a collar without ‘testing the water’ first.

    15) Where We Meet: I have read this story several times, and I still don’t get the last paragraph. I think I know what you tried here: to show that she meets one men after the other and bring them to the bridge? If so, I think you have to make it a bit clearer in the middle piece, as now the middle piece is all about Nathan and then suddenly there’s Giovanni…

    16) Locked Out: Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Great story, and well written too!

    17) The Wait Is Over: Where I like to read a story told in the form of a letter, some of what is here felt unnatural, as ‘Jack’ was telling ‘Lindsey’ about things that happened while they both were present. It felt strange to read that, and I think it would have been better if ‘Jack’ have written only about her own feelings in all that they had gone through. You could still write about all that they have done together, but just in a different way.

    18) I stand alone: Normally I am not a fan of so many paragraphs starting with the same words, except when it’s something like this, where those words emphasize the rest. This story is almost poetic, and you did well painting a picture of her obedience, and his dominance. In some places you might have chosen to give less details, or to shorten some sentences, but all in all this is one of my favorites because of the creativity.

    19) Three Weeks, Four Cities: I like a story that is told backwards, and where this story is well written, there are some things that took me out of the story, and where I had to do a lot of effort to read on. For instance, I don’t know the phrase ‘meet-cute’ or ‘4zl’ and the Titanic reference further on seemed a bit ‘misplaced’. Also, what does ‘I have no chill’ mean? Like I said, the story is well written, but sadly it’s not one of my favorites for this round.

    20) Unlocked fantasies: I am sorry to say that this story confused me for the better part. Once I have read the full story, I understood that the fountain had some magic, but I think it would’ve been better if this fact was disclosed earlier in your story. I think it would’ve made the story stronger. Sorry.

    21) Symbols of Love: A sweet story, and I like her Izzy’s change of heart about the lock, and the way she wants to keep the keys. You missed some closing dialogue punctuation.

    22) A Little Help, Please: It took me a moment to understand what is happening here, and when I did, I really loved this story. It’s special and very original!

    23) Magnesium & Oxygen: I like a story told in a story, which I assume is what you did with the parts in italics, but there were too many things here that took me out of the story, and made me have to go back to the previous parts to understand what I am reading. Sorry.

    24) A New Love Song: I love the setting of this story, love the punishment, love the ending. I love the story.

    25) Letting Go: A tender, sweet and sad story. Well-written and with a good usage of the prompt.

    26) The Willing Prisoner: I do like me some medical play for sure! Great story. Sexy and hot!

  8. 19 (10)
    What I liked: This manages the rare feat of being a fairly original take on the prompt, well-written, sexy and succeeds in incorporating the prompt into the heart of the story, which is why I gave it 10 points.
    What I thought could be improved: ‘angry white knobs’ isn’t quite working, I don’t think. Also, the chronology takes a moment to figure out – it wasn’t instantly apparent that the two weeks earlier is two weeks earlier than the present, not two weeks before the three weeks earlier. Finally, aren’t they wankers for doing the Titanic thing? Or perhaps that irony is intentional on your part.

    13 (9)
    What I liked: The description! The legs of ham! The fact he calls her College!
    What I thought could be improved: I assume she lost her virginity, but the image of there being so much blood it ran down her legs detracted from the sexiness a bit! Also, the love locks felt slightly too tangential to the story for this to be my highest scoring story in this round.

    14 (8)
    What I liked: I laughed out loud at ‘And you fastened it to a chicken wire fence? I’m beginning to see why it didn’t work out.’
    What I thought could be improved: I liked so much about this story – I guess I would just have liked the ending to be a little more surprising.

    9 (7)
    What I liked: That you’ve included a character type who I don’t think we get to see much in erotica – great work!
    What I thought could be improved: I know that Lara is supposed to be emotionally detached from things/super rational, but to me, her dialogue could have achieved this and still read a little more smoothly/naturally.

    18 (6)
    What I liked: Your descriptions are very good – the bit about the risk of fainting, for example, and the whole of the fourth paragraph.
    What I thought could be improved: Although this stands out for being well-written, it’s not doing anything very new or surprising – perhaps consider how you could add a further surprising element?

    6 (5)
    What I liked: I LOVED the ‘You got curves’ vs. ‘You got um-hotter’ exchange.
    What I thought could be improved: Some of the phrases, like ‘calm confidence’ feel a bit generic. Could you add more specifics, perhaps? Also, it’s not really clear why they can only love in Paris.

    4 (4)
    What I liked: The writing is solid here and the scenario is classic erotica, so it works.
    What I thought could be improved: The ending felt a little rushed, in terms of her working through the challenges, and you might consider adding more of a twist/surprise element.

    24 (3)
    What I liked: God, I thought this was hot, especially paragraph two.
    What I thought could be improved: As with some of the others, I didn’t feel that you’d used the prompt image quite in the context that it was intended, which is why this didn’t score more points from me.

    7 (2)
    What I liked: That you’ve approached the prompt from a Dystopian/Sci-fi perspective – it’s not necessarily my thing, but it makes your story memorable.
    What I thought could be improved: I found the consent thing a bit hard to work out – it seemed like your female character said no, and then after the guy is in her, agrees that he doesn’t need to stop.

    1
    What I liked: I very much liked the paragraph about the beanie and Depeche mode.
    What I thought could be improved: The lock on the bridge aspect feels as if it’s been added just to make the story fit the prompt, I’m afraid.

    2
    What I liked: That this had a happy ending and the lovers were reunited
    What I thought could be improved: I was cofused at some points as to whether she was actually having sex with these people or could just see/feel their spirits.

    3
    What I liked: That you’ve tackled a tricky topic – I assume the bruises are supposed to show she was in a violent relationship.
    What I thought could be improved: I was a little confused as to the role of the padlock – was it on a collar at the start?

    5
    What I liked: The fact that you’ve taken the time to show us what the character is thinking.
    What I thought could be improved: I wished that the emotional resonance that you create in the second paragraph had lasted a bit longer/throughout – I felt that it was lost to the sex, really.

    8
    What I liked: Some of your descriptions – ‘fat nipple’, ‘grubby, coarse skirts’ – are really lovely.
    What I thought could be improved: I’m afraid to me that this felt a bit generic vampire/locked D/S – I’d have preferred to see the padlock included in the same context as in the prompt image.

    10
    What I liked: This is a very well written piece, in terms of the prose, and it’s sexy, too.
    What I thought could be improved: I think you’ve maybe been a bit ambitious with a limited word count – I wanted to know more about why your characters have lived such separate lives for all these years.

    11
    What I liked: Well, there’s no doubt Esmeé really loves Jean, is there? Super romantic, plus the sex is hot!
    What I thought could be improved: As with one of the previous pieces, I think you’ve perhaps been over ambitious with a limited word count. The idea of someone making a sculpture from padlocks is super clever – I wish you’d dedicated more of the story to it.

    12
    What I liked: There are some nice lines in this piece, and it’s well-written.
    What I thought could be improved: I’d have liked to see the bridge be more central to the story, to be honest.

    15
    What I liked: I thought the sex in this was really hot.
    What I thought could be improved: Who is Giovanni? That came a bit out of the blue and I couldn’t quite follow.

    16
    What I liked: I’m glad you had the padlock feature again at the end – it made this story seem like it was properly trying to incorporate the prompt.
    What I thought could be improved: There’s a little too much going on, plot-wise, and that leaves questions for the reader – when is Delilah supposed to have cut the padlock from the bridge, for example? That’s not something that’s easily done, I don’t think.

    17
    What I liked: That you’ve done something very different, by using the letter format. That, and the fact that your prose is very smooth and easy to read.
    What I thought could be improved: I’m afraid this story doesn’t feel to me like it was written specifically with the prompt in mind – I know they’re mentioned, but they’re not crucial to the story, which is one of my personal marking criteria.

    20
    What I liked: You’ve certainly managed to write something sexy
    What I thought could be improved: I didn’t think this story quite fitted the prompt – I would have liked to have seen the padlock feature more in the context it was in in the prompt image.

    21
    What I liked: It was great to see a cynical character after reading so many romantic/upbeat ones, to be honest!
    What I thought could be improved: There are a handful of small errors in this that I found distracting, sorry. Also, I didn’t quite buy that they would get away with fucking there – it is too much of a tourist trap.

    22
    What I liked: I’m always very pro seeing disability in erotica, so that was great!
    What I thought could be improved: As with some of the others, I didn’t feel that you’d used the prompt image quite in the context that it was intended, which is why this didn’t score points from me.

    23
    What I liked: There are some clever bits of dialogue in this – you’ve certainly given your characters their own unique voices.
    What I thought could be improved: At times some of the description is either not very sexy, e.g. ‘Jack’s cock had gone a bit limp,’ or just porny, e.g. ‘Jack’s semen burst into her rectum,’ – which isn’t a turn on for me personally.

    25
    What I liked: This is nice, well-written, easy to read prose.
    What I thought could be improved: I didn’t buy how quickly she seems to get over her grief at the end, I’m afraid – it doesn’t seem plausible to me.

    26
    What I liked: This is an unusual take on the prompt, so well done for looking for an original angle.
    What I thought could be improved: As with some of the others, I didn’t feel that you’d used the prompt image quite in the context that it was intended, which is why this didn’t score points from me.

  9. Reading over some of the comments on my story before I got this posted, I have to agree with pretty much all the critiques. I definitely needed an extra edit pass or two on the story, and it shows in missing words and missed cues here and there. Also, some of the other things readers picked up on were the too-great sacrifices made chopping the story from its twice-as-long as allowed size to fit. I sacrificed some meat and bone as well as fat to get it done.

    1) The Asshole – It was hot in the hot places, but the primary emotion that I came away from the story with was sadness. I think the writing was excellent.

    2) Locked in Love’s Embrace – I fount it a little confusing with the drifting spirit, and more than a little horrific. I don’t mind some horror with my erotica, but this was for me not enough of the latter to hold the former.

    3) Cutting Loose – This one was also sad, but also quite beautiful, and definitely erotic. I think it pulled it off quite well in a small space.

    4) The Game – A fun D/s game story that played well on the theme.

    6) Only in Paris – Probably my favorite of this round, but then I’m often a besotted romantic. Love lost and found, and beautiful eroticism.

    7) In Time – Sex in post apocalyptic landscapes can work, but it felt to incongruous for me here.

    9) This was ain interesting take, and I think it almost works. I get what Lara is supposed to be, but it makes her very difficult to relate to. We see Tim does, but we don’t go deep enough inside him to know why he loves her. The present tense doesn’t serve the story, I think.

    12) I couldn’t follow the thread through this one very well. From Victorine to Confians to Florence makes a progression, but not really a story.

    13) An American Abroad – I kind of liked the idealized sexual freedom and fearlessness of this story. Naïveté without consequence is a fantasy of sorts.

    16)Locked Out A good revenge story. Hot, and cruel. The seduction was well handled, I think

    17) The wait is Over – It’s sweet, but I think the sexy parts are too far removed to be erotic for me. 2nd person is a real challenge to do – not so much in a love letter, which this is partially, but definitely in erotic writing.

    18) I Stand Alone – Ambitious story that plays a good game and mostly works. The refrain is revisited, I think, a little too often, but the piece conveys its mood and eroticism powerfully.

    19) Three Weeks, Four Cities – This was too hard for me to follow, I tried, but couldn’t get the chronology of the story to click.

    20) Unlocked Fantasies – A nice, compact fantasy of fantasy fulfilment. It manages to have multiple ‘scenes’ in a short space, well done.

    21) Symbols of Love – I didn’t like it the first time I read it, but the second time through, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why. It’s romantic and hot.

    24) I’m not the biggest fan of period pieces, but this one had a couple nice twists in it, and was well done. AL little uneasiness, a little poetry, a little transgression – ok a lot of transgression.

  10. I think reading the commentary is almost as intriguing as reading the stories themselves. We all have such different takes on the stories and love and dislike stories for very different reasons. This shows that, as a writer, even if you write a perfectly great story, someone may not like it for a dozen reasons, and even if you write a flawed story, someone may see a gem within it. So the best you can do, writers, from here on out is to write the best story possible and not worry about what the audience or jury will think. Because, as you can see above, what one person loves another person will skip right over our downright dislike.

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