Nipples and I agreed that we wouldn’t dress for Christmas day. Neither of us were religious, so we decided to rebel, sticking to the warm rooms of the castle, although we allowed ourselves slippers, so our feet weren’t cold on the stone floors, especially in the kitchen. Nips cooked a soufflé for our Christmas dinner, not turkey, as I hadn’t thought to order one ahead.
Well, it wasn’t entirely nude. The weather closed in during the day and a cold breeze blew in through the chimneys of the unoccupied rooms. We allowed ourselves robes while moving through the house, but at dinner, we proudly ate starkers, and drank port in the parlour until we fell over.
@ClanGoddess87: I am so fucking drunk. Can’t move. Nips wants sex. Told her to find a ghost.
@hornyredhead91: Wish I was there. Too much family around to have some fun.
@ClanGoddess87: Hop on your ma
@ClanGoddess87: gic carpet … Oops! Cn’t bluddy typ.
@hornyredhead91: are you calling me a cunt?!!!!
@ClanGoddess87: you wish!
@ClanGoddess87: good idea, send me a nekked pic and I’ll rub it on my cunt till I cum.
@hornyredhead91: sweet! Send it back when you finish, so I can do the same.
“What you doing?” Nips moaned.
“You on Thwitter? Can I see?”
Before I could say no, she passed out, saving me a lie.
@ClanGoddess87: Nips in neverland, fucking lightweight
I awoke with my iPhone buzzing against my chest. Nipples had placed my robe over me to keep me warm. It took a few moments to remember through a dense fog and splitting headache what caused that buzzing. I looked at the screen, hoping she hadn’t read it.
“It’s me,” someone whispered, “Charlie.”
“What time is it?”
“Noon. I just wanted to say I was thinking of you.”
“I wasn’t thinking of anything,” I groaned, “except sheep.”
“Sheep are for men. You should think of a warm stallion between your legs.”
“Whatever you say.”
“Oops, gotta go. Bye sweetie!”
I parked my iPhone and turned over to go back to sleep, but I smelled frying bacon. Nips was in the kitchen cooking breakfast. She’d been quiet but friendly since her encounter with her ghost. Most of all, she composed obsessively, not even taking her violin out of the case to practise. That left me plenty of time to learn Arlen’s music. I’d resolved to memorize the entire work, a feat akin committing Bach’s entire Art of the Fugue to memory, something I’d failed at while an undergraduate. It would be worth it if I succeeded, but I could resort to the printed page if I had to. There was no shame in reading modern music off the score.
Nips had become an enigma, like a ghost herself, only half there, perhaps half in love with me, while the other half pined for Arlen. The ghost had shaken her, yet she hadn’t bothered me in my room. Did they commune each night? They couldn’t converse; the ghosts in my castle were destined to repeat, although Nips could delve more deeply into the ghost’s past, if she released herself. Maybe she had found another ghost to satisfy her. There were many here, and even I haven’t found them all yet, and I’ve never even told her about the one that came to me our first night together. He would make a good story for Arlen. I owed him one, so I reached for my laptop and started typing.
I was intrigued my your last fantasy. It was much more explicit than you led me to believe at first. You may be as explicit as you want to me. You may even write a fantasy about me, if you wish … that is, if you fantasize about me … perhaps it is only with me. I must admit that I was hot for sex after reading your story. I couldn’t resist touching myself. Does it bother you if I tell you that? If so, I’m sorry, but I have no one here to slake my desire except Nipples, and I’m not inclined that way.
So now it is my turn. One of my frequent ghostly visitors was the cousin of a Laird a half a millennium ago, before the start of the feud. Perhaps he started it; I can’t be certain. He took a liking to one of the Laird’s daughters, his youngest. It wasn’t uncommon then for liaisons to begin at a young age, and theirs began very young. Still young himself, he was more than twice her age.
At the cusp of puberty, she was ripe for the picking with burgeoning breasts and an aching heart. He favoured her at family gatherings, and even attended church to sit near her. Bright and innocent, she found him intriguing, especially when he offered to accompany her on a ride to visit a cousin of the same age in the next village. She should have been chaperoned, but the Laird was a trusting father. Too trusting to a worldly relative.
Not long after they were out of sight, the cousin voiced his bawdy intentions, and she, believing he loved her, indulged him. As he gently fondled her breasts, the fire took her, and she swooned into his arms. Seeing an opening, he loosened her bodice, but that wasn’t enough, for she imagined she loved him. Stroking his cheek, she invited a kiss. There in the field and in the sight of God, he deflowered her …
I paused. This was a little too Jane Austin, but perhaps that might fire Arlen’s passions.
“You hungry?” Nipples asked from the door.
I was hungry for more than food, but it was perhaps fortunate that I hadn’t explicitly described the ghost’s advances. That would only be conjecture, but Arlen didn’t know that. The cousin’s ghost couldn’t know what the girl felt, only his own desire. I closed my laptop and leapt off the sofa for breakfast. Nips was a much better cook than I, who was useless without a chip-pan. Indeed, she was as fine a cook as she was a composer. I would have liked her to stay with me, if only for the cuisine. She wasn’t much company when she was as mad for composing as she was this holiday. With her as my chef, though, I was likely to gain a considerable amount of weight.
As was her way these days, Nips wolfed down her breakfast, half-dressed, and retired to her manuscript paper, leaving me to continue my email.
(Eirica Johnstone, cont’d)
… Their visits became regular, and the ruse of meeting her cousin was never discovered. After several months of weekly passion, they became more adventurous, stealing hidden caresses in dark corners of the castle. He was a favourite of the Laird, so his frequent visits were not uncommon.
One day the cousin arrived earlier than has normal time, finding the daughter alone in the stables. The Laird had ridden to the village to mediate a dispute. They stole into the castle, which was otherwise empty, to her bedroom, the room in which I slept as a girl. Afforded the luxury of a warm fire, he undressed her slowly, gently caressing her private parts, her breasts, then her thighs while releasing the knot on his breaches.
Meanwhile, her father returned. Finding that she had neglected her duties, he came looking for her, entering her bedroom moments after her cousin’s penetration. The Laird’s rage was unbridled, as he threw the cousin off of her with a single blow, sending him crashing into a stone wall. If you lift the rug there, you can still find a dark stain where he bled to death.
When I was a girl, his ghost visited me often, touching me as he touched the girl, forever destined to repeat his crime. I have never seen him his shade, yet even now the memory of his tender advances fires my lion. He caresses, and when I am ready to receive him, he penetrates. Alas, he left her then, as he does me now, yearning for the touch of a man.
I’m sorry. That is perhaps too intimate an admission for this conversation. I must go now. I look forward to our online rendezvous tomorrow evening.
Did the gore at the end ruin the mood? To be completely honest, the cousin was discovered at the moment of climax – where he also leaves me – but I thought that I would leave Arlen wanting more at the end.
“What are you doing?” Nips asked from the door.
“Writing an email. I just sent it off.”
“You interested in reading down a new piece?” she asked.
It wasn’t just a new piece. It was one that she had written for us to play together, and she wanted me to travel down to York later in the year to première it. After a few notes, I saw in her what Arlen did. She was brilliant. Every note made sense and sounded new, like no piece I had ever heard: mildly tonal, but fresh, not traditional. I loved it, and heartily agreed to perform it as soon as we could agree a date. After my recital all I had left was my thesis, which wasn’t due until next September. Spending so much time alone, I was ahead on it, having already turned in my first draft to my supervisor.
After a couple of hours playing, we walked into the village for some supplies. Nips was inspired to cook a large meal the next evening, to be accompanied by a serious amount of alcohol.
You certainly have some interesting ghosts there. Are you making them up for my benefit, or are they fantasies you have dreamt up for your own … how shall I put this discreetly … night-time desires?
Aoife is away with Sandra tonight reading some of her poetry at a local bookshop, so I’m on my own here, thinking of you. Why do I think of you? I don’t know. I remember your friend Sinead, and then I think of you. Do I have fantasies about you? I won’t go there. I do have a fantasy about Sinead, but I won’t tell you about it. Explicit wouldn’t begin to describe it. It is simple really: she plays me like her harp, cutting off my clothes with her fingernails. The sex is rough, and the fantasy takes over. I can’t control it. That is why I must stop.
I will understand if you won’t tell me any more of your stories, since I haven’t kept up my side of the bargain.
He’s mine? He was thinking of me? My heart fluttered. That was the closest he had come to saying he loved me. But I knew he didn’t. I was reading too much into it. I didn’t love him either. Wanted him? Yes. Love? No.
I’m not sure why you insist we fire emails back and forth instead of chat. I’m at home alone in my bed (naked), and you are home alone, too, waiting for my replies.
The ghost fantasies are real. This castle is full of ghosts, real ghosts, who I have gotten to know well, since I was young. They come to me when I am bored. They pleasure me. They keep me from becoming lonely here, as you do. Shall I tell a fantasy about you? No. That would be too revealing.
What is it about Sinead that possesses you so?
I prefer email so I can collect my thoughts and send you careful replies. To be honest, I had a bad experience with chat. I said things that I would never say personally. She got the wrong idea, and what started as sexual banter became a virtual love affair, although neither of us was in love with the other. She started sending me lurid pictures and urging me to reciprocate, but I couldn’t do that. And I can’t do it now with you. I would go too far, and that isn’t fair to either of us.
Sinead reminds me of Aoife. They look similar, both being Irish, and what I don’t get from Aoife, I imagine I can get from Sinead, and it goes much too far, further than I could imagine going with a real woman. She haunts my sleep, and my only antidote is you, thinking of you, your honesty, your innocence (whether true or imagined). I am consoled by the idea of you.
What do you mean by the idea of me?
A chat window popped up. Charlie wanted a video chat.
Charlotte Weeks: You decent?”
Eirica Johnstone: I’m in the middle of something.
A message from Arlen hit my inbox.
Charlotte Weeks: Maybe later?
Eirica Johnstone: Might be very late.
Charlotte Weeks: Poke me when you are done. Doesn’t matter what time.
I opened Arlen’s message.
Arlen Stewart: The idea of you is just that. We hardly know each other, but we choose to confide our darkest secrets to each other. Yet neither of us can know if the other is telling the truth. I like to believe it is the truth, but we will only know for sure next time we meet. The rest of you I create for myself in my head, just as you do for the idea of me, although you have additional interpretations from Nicole and anyone else who has contacted you, Amelia, Sandra, maybe Liz or Charlotte. They have the most web presence of my students. You would like Liz. The two of you are quite alike in some ways. She is a fabulous bassist, and I’ve composed several solo works for her. It’s sad that she has all but given up composing. She showed promise. You and she look somewhat alike, too.
I took a quick look at Liz Lamm’s website. Maybe she looked a little like me, but older, of course. I delved into her photos and found one with Arlen from her university days. Her hair was shorter then, and yes, she did resemble me then. Her daughter, however, looked more like me. That was scary.
Eirica Johnstone: Maybe. Would you like another story?
Arlen Stewart: If you wish. I like your stories, even if they have gruesome endings.
I considered for a moment, then typed.
Eirica Johnstone: A Lady of the castle partook of many affairs, while her husband was off fighting the English. She had one lover in particular who visited her on a regular basis. The Lady looked a lot like Nicole, although her corset kept her nipples in check …”
I attached another nude photo of Nicole that featured those nipples.
(Eirica Johnstone, cont’d):
… Her lover was enthralled by them, much like you are enthralled by Nicole’s. In time, he sired twin daughters, but the war ended while they were still infants. The lover was cast out in favour of the returning Laird.
After many years, the lover met a pair of twin sisters at the house of a nearby nobleman, and unable to decide which he loved most, he slept with both of them. Both were infatuated by him and summoned their mother to decide who would marry him, not telling her his name. Thinking them too young to marry, she put the girls off, using every ruse she could to delay meeting this stranger.
Just before their sixteenth birthday one of the twins fell pregnant. The other, however, was again visiting the nobleman, awaiting the arrival of her mother and pregnant sister. The lover stole away with the sister during the afternoon for a few moments of intimacy in the library, giving in to their carnal lust. The height of their thrall penetrated the door to the foyer just as the mother and sister arrived. Recognizing the voice, the party burst into the library catching them in the act.
To her horror, the mother recognized him as the father of her twins as well as the father of her daughter’s unborn child, entirely unknown to the lover. The Laird, who was late arriving, was enraged. He struck down both the lover, his daughters, and his wife with his sword.
To this day I often hear the lover and one of the twins consummating their love in the hallways, forever banished from the bedrooms. She screams, and then it is all over for them.
That is sad.
It is. May I ask you a personal question? What do you really see in me? You seem to be enamoured by nipples and breasts with most of your students. Mine aren’t much to look at. You must think me hideous.
Eirica, I would never classify myself as a breast man. You have more intangibles than any of them, except perhaps Amelia. But to be completely crass, I love the way your hips move when you walk. You have pretty eyes, and I think I’ve mentioned your legs and ankles. Talent goes a long way, too.
I think that’s it for me tonight. We have some visitors this week, so I’m not sure when I’ll be back on. Maybe we can finalize the details for my trip up there next time.
All the best,
My hips? That was unexpected. I would never have thought any man would like my hips! I looked at the time and opened Facebook to see that Charlie was still on. I poked her. It was almost 2 am.
Eirica Johnstone: Can’t sleep?
Charlotte Weeks: My brain is doing flip-flops. Video?”
Eirica Johnstone: Sure, why not?”
I draped my robe around me before sending the picture. “What’s up?”
“I’m feeling really weird about what we’ve been doing,” she confessed.
“We have gotten a wee bit carried away,” I agreed. “I’m not sure I would act the same if you were right here in front of me.”
“Me, too. I like you a lot, and it feels so natural when we do it online, but then I spend the whole next day thinking about it, that is isn’t right, but that I want it to be right. I just keep going around in circles.”
“Maybe we should stop,” I suggested.
“No, but if I’m thinking about you more than I’m thinking about Jamie, something has got to be wrong.”
“I won’t be offended. I don’t beat myself up about things like you do, but I do feel strange about it.”
“No. It’s just fucking with my head, but I don’t want to stop.”
“Prude!” she cackled.
I loved her. Not the physical kind of love: wanting to hold her, touch her, make love to her. I thought we inhabited the same wavelength, the same psychological space, despite our age difference. “What do you want to do about it then?” I asked.
“I want to be friends, not cyber-lovers. I’m not saying that we have to stop the sex, but I’d rather be virtual fuck-buddies than pine over you every minute we aren’t online.”
“You like that word don’t you.”
“I like to fuck, actually.”
“Jamie must be away,” I sneered.
“It’s that obvious?”
“You’re being careful, aren’t you?”
“You’re one to talk, virgin!”
“Abstinence avoids mistakes.”
“Abstinence is a mistake!” she howled at me.
“Hopefully, I’ll find out soon.”
“Have you two been sharing more fantasies?”
“We were just on. He fancies my hips – not my hips in particular – the way they move.”
“He told you he fantasized about them?”
“He won’t tell me any fantasies regarding me. But I asked him point blank what it was about me that attracted him.”
“And he said, ‘I love the swing on your back porch, baby!’” she joked in an American accent.
“Not exactly,” I scowled. “He said he liked the way my hips moved when I walk. And he likes my legs, eyes and ankles.”
“He thinks English women have stumpy ankles. He told me that a few weeks ago.”
“So he thinks I have stumpy ankles?” She waved one in front of the camera.
“He didn’t mention you in particular. They look fine to me.” I heard a noise in the servant’s hallway. “I think Nipples might be having a walkabout,” I whispered.
“You realise I’m never going to be able to call her Nicole again?” she cackled.
“I find it hard, too. Anyway, sleep well, and don’t think of me … or don’t think of fucking me … or do. Whatever helps you to sleep.”
“I know who you’ll be thinking of.”
“Maybe.” I heard another noise. “I’d better go. She could walk in any second. Bye.”
I waited. Nothing. I tweeted,
@clangoddess87: Had nice chat with hornyredhead91 tonight. Nips’ is spying on me. Wish she’d just come in.”
@hornyredhead91: You love her, silly.
That began an avalanche of comments, speculating on whether I was a closet lesbian, whether I really loved her, or was using her, or loved Arlen, or was using him.
I was trending, but I didn’t want to hear any of it, so I slapped my laptop shut and climbed under my duvet. The floorboards creaked as Nipples stole back into her room.
For the first time in ages, I felt alone.