I never understood the meaning of bliss until I let myself surrender. Every night, candle flames painted viscous shadows on the walls of my cell. They gathered in the corners of the room and flirted with the shreds of moonlight spilling onto the stone floor. The shadows seemed to love the sparse, enclosed space, the single crucifix on the wall, the surface of my woolen blanket. And yet they possessed devotion towards nothing save their own insubstantial alliance of light and darkness. I both envied and pitied them, cherishing my own intense dedication to the holiest of unions.
We were an enclosed order, bound by our vows to a contemplative life motivated by prayer and salvation. Our convent walls blocked us from the eyes of the laity, and by turn forced us to turn our own eye inward. And the deliberate merging of light and dark had become part of my self-scrutiny. During these late nights, after supper and prayers, after Mother Superior had walked the corridors, I kept two candle flames lit to let the shadows live.
Want pulsed in my veins, this desire so intense that it was as if my body no longer belonged to me, as if I had given my flesh over to someone else as proof of my devotion. As if I had sacrificed myself. A vaporous mist clouded my mind, leaving space only for the purity of sensation. The woolen blanket covering me felt stifling. I pushed it aside, then reaching up to yank at the tight collar of my shift.
Heat covered me like a cloak. I grasped the folds of the shift in my fists, pulling the thick material up to my hips. A crest of cool, night air brushed against my bare legs in welcome relief. I couldn't believe the fervor of emotions cascading through me, the fathomless depths of my love and desire.
As the air cooled my heated flesh, my fingers brushed against the damp curls shielding my sex. I drew in a sharp breath, then slowly parted the folds of my labia, sliding my forefinger into the hot fissure. A twinge of physical pleasure undulated outward from my touch, like the expanding ripples from a stone tossed into a pond. I stroked my fingers over the slick folds and up to the swollen pearl of my clitoris.
An unbidden thought appeared in my mind that perhaps I should be ashamed of my self-pleasuring, but such bliss filled my soul that my compunction quickly melted away. I eased a finger into my body, feeling my inner walls clench and pulse with the hunger that had begun in my blood.
With a moan, I pushed my shift up to bare my breasts to the air and shadows. An overwhelming feeling of freedom descended upon me, a stark contrast to the iron bars of my cell and the restraint of the habit I wore daily. I cupped my breasts in my hands, tracing the tight areolas, sliding my fingers over the warm crevice underneath them.
My skin was hot to the touch, moist with perspiration. I stroked my palms over the swell of my belly and the curves of my hips, marveling at how the soft, fine hairs on my skin rose at the light contact. So lost in my own pleasure, I didn't hear the door open until a gasp from the doorway broke me out of my trance.
My eyes flew open, colliding with the startled blue gaze of Catherine, the sister who had arrived here only several weeks ago.
I pushed myself up onto my elbows, trying to clear my mind from the lingering threads of sacred and profane desire. "What are you doing here?"
"I came to ask you if you would help me make herb poultices tomorrow," she said. "They say you know about the medicinal properties of plants." Her eyes darted quickly over my naked body before looking away. "What you're doing is wicked, you know."
Her quick glance made my skin prickle with awareness. Her tall frame set her apart from the other sisters, her fine-boned features infusing her with an air of controlled dignity.
I didn't make a move to cover myself. "If it's so wicked, why does it feel so good?"
"You're supposed to be beyond the pleasures of the flesh."
I gazed at her for a moment, enjoying her discomfort. "You haven't done this to yourself in private?" When she didn't reply, I pushed further. "Or with anyone else?"
Her eyes widened with both shock and an unmistakable glimmer of guilt. "No, of course not."
"Don't worry, I won't tell anyone." I allowed my eyes to track over her shift, which could not conceal the lush curves of her waist and hips and her large breasts.
Catherine's mouth tightened with displeasure. "Don't displace your wickedness onto me."
"Then why is it you keep looking at me with lust?"
"I'm doing no such thing."
I skimmed my fingertips over my hard nipple, thrilling in the shiver that skittered through my body. My eyes met Catherine's again. The air between us thickened with the richness of eroticism. "No?"
"Close the door or someone will hear you."
Catherine shut the wooden door with a heavy click, but remained standing where she was. Her hands clenched into fists at her sides. "How did you know?"
"You just told me with your eyes," I replied.
"You'll do penance for this."
"So will you." My body continued to hum with arousal, like the taut strings of a violin still resonating with vibrations. I lifted my arms above my head, stretching out in a posture of utter submission. "Are you going to tell Mother Superior, or do you want to punish me yourself?"
Two spots of color appeared like blossoms on Catherine's cheeks. She hesitated, appearing to engage in the age-old battle between lust and faith. "Your vow of chastity forbids voluntary sexual pleasure."
"What if my sexual pleasure is involuntary?" I asked.
Catherine's eyes darkened to deep indigo. She strode across the small space between us, reaching down to yank the blanket off my bed. She grasped my knees and pushed my legs apart, exposing the spread folds of my sex.
"Do it, then," she hissed. "Touch yourself in front of me. Prove to me that your pleasure is involuntary."
Her anger fueled my hunger. I splayed my hand over my sex, rubbing it until a waterfall of shivers spilled through my body. My clitoris pulsed against my fingers, tightening a ribbon of pressure in my lower body as I began to sink once again into the web of sensations created by my own touch. I delved my fingers into my vulva, exploring my womanhood the way I had been taught to explore my soul.
Catherine put her hand over mine, and for a brief instant I thought she would join with me in this pleasuring. Instead, she pushed my hand resolutely out of the way, shooting me an acrimonious glare. Her fingers probed with questing force into my damp crevice, prying apart the folds so that she could immerse herself in me. I stared up at her, part of my mind aware that the balance of power had shifted, that my taunting challenge had slipped into something far more momentous.
Catherine pushed her finger into my cunt. Her blue eyes seared me. "You're a wicked slut, aren't you?" she said, her voice trembling with both anger and desire as her fingers manipulated my pliable sex with an expertise that unmistakable.
Her words caused another swell of arousal to rise in me. I lifted my arms to remove my shift, letting it drop onto the floor. Catherine's hot gaze went to my moist breasts. She bent and grasped one of my nipples between her teeth, conveying a conduit of sheer pleasure down to my loins. Her tongue swept with sumptuous tactility around my aerola. I twined my fist through her hair, letting the blonde strands slip through my fingers like polished silk.
Her muscles tightened visibly as she went to the small armoire that held my clothing. She removed the belt of my habit.
"Turn around," she ordered.
My heart pounded wildly against my ribcage, but I rolled onto my belly. Catherine grasped my wrists and tied the belt around them. It took me a moment to realize exactly what she had in mind. An innate fear cracked open inside me, momentarily submerging my intense excitement. I gasped and pulled against the restraints, but Catherine swiftly lashed my wrists to the iron bedposts.
"Shut up," she interrupted coldly. "You deserve this."
Her hand grazed over my damp back, pressing against the ridges and bumps of my spine. My pulse pounded violently inside my head, leaving me unable to think a rational thought. Then without warning, Catherine's hand slapped my buttocks so suddenly that I let out a startled cry. My body jerked forward, even as Catherine's hand came down hard again. She grasped the short length of my hair and jerked my head back, causing pain to clench thin fingers around my neck.
"Virgin or whore, Teresa," Catherine snapped, her breath rasping against my ear. "We both know which one you are, don't we?"
She bit down hard on my earlobe before releasing my hair and landing another slap on my buttocks. I shrieked and squirmed, pulling futility at the restraints to escape the inevitability of another blow. Confusion bit at me with sharp teeth, bringing up images of martyred saints and penance. Catherine's breathing grew rapid from exertion as she spanked me again and again. Pain spread like a rash over my buttocks. I couldn't imagine how I must look, spread out and lashed to the bed with another woman punishing my naked buttocks. My eyes brimmed with tears of discomfort and humiliation.
I turned to look over my shoulder at Catherine. Her pale skin bloomed reddish color, her tight nipples tenting the material of her shift. The disheveled sight of her, the evidence of her arousal, caused my sex to surge anew. I let out a moan, writhing and shifting my hips to urge her to delve her fingers again into my swollen vulva.