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Sex In Public

Cover: Sex In PublicAbout the book

Twelve short stories about sex in public explore all the possibilities - including my own mystic take on the pleasures of voyeurism and exhibitionism: Innana's Temple.

About the story Innana's Temple

In ancient Sumeria, Mina's life of drudgery held one consolation: her beloved Corin. When he abandoned her, she gave up her will to live, allowed the priests to buy her for Innana's temple, and vowed never to speak unless the gods themselves spoke to her.

She lives cloistered with two old women, knowing nothing about the religion she serves or her purpose. A half-glimpsed festival, from which she was hurried away, feeds her fantasies while she bathes in the hot springs deep in a cave.

Now read on...

Now, when she glimpsed one of the priests, she imagined the powerful bare skin beneath his skirts. In the hot springs, she relived those naked bodies. Her imaginings varied with the moon. Around the new moon, before and while she bled, her body longed for violence. She imagined bulky muscles pinning her down and stubble scratching her breasts - or lean strength gripping her and sharp teeth nipping at her neck. In the happy calm of the waxing moon, she daydreamed that one of them, someone gentle and only a little older than her, crept into her room at night and woke her with kisses. She painted the details patiently - her surprise, his soft lips, the slow travel of his mouth down her neck towards her waiting breasts… her shift, lifted over her shoulders, and his breathstruck wonder… She knew, theoretically, what the outcome should be. She'd heard the grunting at night, when her mother was still alive. She'd seen the shadows of the men's tools, in the fading moonlight. She knew, from animals, that when they looked like that, they were ready. But her body knew nothing, and her fantasies fizzled into confusing thoughts of skin and bodies and something that would make the ache between her legs better. At full moon, her nipples stood like pebbles and she wanted them all. In her mind, the naked dancing men advanced towards her and ripped her veil and silky gown away. They rubbed their thigh muscles against her, and passed her between their strong arms. She was queen of them all, stroking their jutting flesh, and yielding to their hands. She granted their wishes with her lips and let them suck benediction from her breasts. And then - and then…? She knew enough to think of them pushing that part into her, but didn't know enough to imagine how that might be. All this beauty, she thought forlornly, admiring her nakedness in the water, wasted. She wondered constantly what they wanted her for. She'd assumed they wanted her to be a priestess, but the chief priest called her Bride of An, they pampered her, and she was given no duties. She was also given little instruction. They seemed to assume she knew much more than she did about religion, but she'd learnt nothing. Pride stilled her tongue and her face. She'd made her vow and she'd keep it.

When the cold winter winds came, the old priestesses muttered more loudly about her trips to the spring. They hated leaving the shelter of their rooms. She ignored it, kept her face impassive, and walked anyway. Somehow she knew they wouldn't physically drag her back, and had to follow. One evening in early spring, the rain was lashing down and her body raged back and forth with the storm. She stalked from room to room until she couldn't bear it anymore, and lifted her woollen cloak with an imperious glance at the priestesses.
"Gods, isn't this enough water for her?" grumbled one. Half a year into her silence, they seemed to have forgotten she could still hear. "I'm not dragging my bones out into that, she can just sit back down again."
"Oh, let her go," said the other. "They're all up at the Temple of Innana anyway. She'll be safe enough."
The other hesitated, and shrugged. "Go," she said loudly to Mina, miming with her hands. "We stay here. You go. If you want."
Mina nodded, and left.

Alone in the cavern, she hung her single torch on its bracket and undressed slowly. Her hands ran lightly over her breasts, relishing their new weight. As her fingers brushed her nipples, she shuddered. The water lapped at her skin as she slipped in, sending new shivers through her. Already, the fantasy was unspooling in her head and it was men's admiring hands, not water, caressing her. She played gently with the slopes of her breasts, feeling how the tremors rushed and receded with each stroke. Each time, her hand drifted a little further and the newly awakened skin came alive. Then the skin just beyond that would tingle agonisingly, begging to be touched, and she would return her fingertips to her collar bone and stroke slowly down again, just a bit further. Without those two old witches here, she could do what she liked. Her head fell back, and lifted again to watch her little buds clench. One elbow supported her against the ledge while her body floated to the surface. Her fingers reached her nipples and she lurched with excitement. Her eyes closed as her hand began to trail down her belly. Her body was telling her what to do, where to touch next, how to tantalise the fleshy inside of her thighs and the little valleys where her mons met her thighs. Her palm skimmed her floating downy hair. She could feel how her lips pulsed and yearned to be parted, and let a finger nestle closer in. The shock of pleasure made her whimper. She heard it echoed, and her eyes sprang open. There, by the side of the pool, stood Corin. Swiftly, she curled into a ball, hiding herself. Her eyes shone with anger.
"I'm sorry…" he said, "I didn't mean to spy…"
She raised one eyebrow, sardonically.
"I know." He hung his head for a moment. "But I couldn't bear it any more. I slipped away from the temple to find you. I had to know if you forgave me now - now that the gods have answered my prayers."
All her old fury, lulled by comfort and lust, returned. She turned her back.
"Mina, please. Look at where you are - what you have. How could I have condemned you to life in a clay hut, scrabbling in the earth for crops? That would have been our life together. The gods told me this was better, I trusted them, they gave you everything I asked for… Isn't this better? My love?" His voice was breaking. She turned around and looked into his tear-filled eyes. She spat in the water, and swung back.
You may think food and hot water is all there is to life, she thought angrily as his footsteps receded, but I'm kept from the one thing I wanted. To know you sliding into me. To learn what my body's howling for, with you. I'd rather have lived in a cowshed with you than the finest palace alone.
The thought was grand and elegant. She repeated it to herself several times, trying to shake the feeling that it might not be entirely true. She slept on down, not hard-packed dirt. She wore flowing silk, not rough cotton stained with dirt. She wallowed every day in the hot water of the spring. Her hands were soft and her skin glowed with good health. The walls around her at night were clay, not reeds, keeping out the howling winds of winter and the baking sun of summer. And yet, for all the comfort her body was kept in, its most vital purpose was denied. She wanted to scream into the echoing chamber, What do you want from me? Silent till the gods speak to me, she reflected bitterly. Silent and unused to the grave.

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