"You're a very brave person to come here like this," Nadia said, letting the door swing open wide and stepping aside to give Trace access to her apartment. He waited a moment, expecting her to add some kind of disclaimer about entering freely and of his own will, but she just stood there with an air of vaguely irritated patience until he walked inside.
She didn't look like a witch, or a sorceress, or a voodoo priestess or whatever she called herself; she barely came up to Trace's shoulder, and she had the kind of baby face with round, pink cheeks that ensured she would get carded well into her forties. Her long, light blonde hair was pulled back in a ponytail that might have looked severe on another woman, but just made her look like she was getting ready for a sock hop at the student union or something. Even the dress she wore didn't look particularly gothic or sinister; it was a light floral print, the kind of thing a young woman would wear to go ask Daddy if she could borrow the car for the big dance on Saturday.
It made Trace feel a little like he was bullying a teenage girl as he brushed past her, drawing up to his full height and giving her a scowl as he walked into the living room and took a seat on the sofa without being asked, but he knew better by now. Nadia Volkov was something of a local celebrity in Baton Rouge, in the social circles that thought life was more interesting with a little bit of bullshit in it. She entertained all sorts of desperate and gullible types, taking their money and giving them charms and potions that they really thought made their lives better. That innocent face of hers hid a seasoned con artist, and Trace didn't feel a bit bad about making her day a little bit worse by showing up.
Nadia followed him in with no evident signs of being intimidated, and took a seat across from him in an easy chair covered with an old pink shawl. "I assume the police already told you about what happened," she said, scooping up a block of wood from a small stack of similar blocks that lay on the coffee table. She leaned back in the chair and produced a small whittling knife, seemingly out of nowhere, and began to carve into the soft wood. As threats went, it wasn't exactly subtle, but Trace was pretty sure he could take it away from her if he had to.
"They gave me a bunch of excuses, if that's what you mean," he said, folding his arms defensively. "Said that Toya came out and told them she was here of her own free will and she wanted to stay with you, and there was nothing they could do about it. As if they didn't know you were using that voodoo shit on her." He kept his expression tightly controlled, his lips a thin line and his eyes set in a firm glare. He knew how bullshit artists like this worked, playing on body language and facial cues to tell when their patter was working. He wasn't about to give her anything.
"It's not voodoo," Nadia said mildly, turning the block off wood over in her hands and deftly carving great hunks out of it. "It's sympathetic magic. Honestly, I don't know what it is with you people. There are at least thirty-seven Crafts and Disciplines out there that utilize some form of sympathetic magic, but the second you sign a lease on an apartment in the state of Louisiana, suddenly you're a 'voodoo queen'. It's not exactly respectful to other people's religions, Mister Moreau."
Trace worked very hard not to roll his eyes. "Fine," he said, meeting her unblinking gaze with his own. "It's not voodoo. It's still just... superstition. The power of suggestion, working because gullible people expect it to work." How could anyone be fooled by her? However she tried to dress or do her hair or even smile that baby-faced smile of hers, that jaded stare always told the truth. She looked at him and saw just another mark, one more sucker like the people who came to her begging for 'magic spells' or the idiots who she fleeced for lessons on 'the Craft' or... or Toya.
It took everything he had not to glance over at the half-open door to the bedroom to see if he could spot his wife through the gap.
"Is that how you think of Toya, Mister Moreau?" Nadia said coolly, slicing away slivers of wood and letting them drift down to the living room floor. "As someone 'gullible', or 'superstitious'?" She'd cut away large sections of the block in the short time they'd been speaking, leaving a roughly oblong shape behind that she began to cut into. "I suppose you think that a black woman is just naturally susceptible to the charms of 'voodoo'. Not like a straight-shooting white man with his own business and a degree from Tulane, right?" Her lips quirked into a crooked grin, one that didn't touch her cold green eyes at all.
Trace sat bolt upright, barely managing the urge to jump over the coffee table and knock the smirk off of Nadia's face. "I love my wife," he snapped, his voice tight with anger. "I have every respect for her as a person. It's just that..." he let out a little sigh, feeling uncomfortably as though he'd suddenly been put on the defensive without quite knowing how. "She's lived in Baton Rouge her whole life. She's a part of this culture. And she's always grown up around people who believe that this, this shit you peddle, this 'sympathetic magic' bullshit works. So when you show up with a voodoo doll-"
Nadia coughed impatiently. "A poppet, darling," she corrected. "It's a completely different tradition, dating back to pre-Christian harvest magics. Honestly, you do have quite a bit of unexamined privilege in that tightly sealed mind of yours, don't you? Your wife runs off with another woman, and the first thing you can think of is that she's a superstitious native woman in the thrall of a voodoo curse? Frankly, I'm feeling better than ever about my decision to make her mine."
Trace stood up, his hands clenching involuntarily into fists. "Don't bullshit me," he snarled. "I know what happened. I heard it from the folks at the bank. You took one of those, those-" He gestured over at the wooden figurines on the mantelpiece, each one carved in intricate detail to resemble a human being. "Those poppets of yours! You took one out of your purse and you told Toya that it was time to stop being such a silly girl and come with you! And she did! She didn't do it because you were having an affair, or because she was unhappy with our marriage, or any of that bullshit you're trying to peddle. She did it because you put a spell on her!"
Nadia didn't stop her carving for even a moment. She merely fixed her icy green stare up at him and said, "Well, of course I did. She caught my interest while she was helping me with my financial planning, and I decided I wanted her to belong to me. But it was actual magic, Mister Moreau. Not 'the power of suggestion', not gullibility or foolishness or superstition. I took her will away and I put it in my poppet. And now she's mine."
Her knife kept moving as she spoke, carving arms and legs out of the oblong block of wood. "I'd like to stress that for you now, Mister Moreau, before this conversation goes any further. Her entire will belongs to me now, just like all my pretty little dolls. Once I take my magic dagger and carve my poppet..." She held up her whittling knife for a moment and twirled it between her fingers, displaying the sigils etched into the handle before returning to her work. "I own that person. They think exactly what I want them to think, and they do everything I want them to do."
Her eyes narrowed. The knife sank deep into the soft wood, creating the suggestion of a head as she spoke. "Everything, Mister Moreau. Absolutely everything. From telling the police that they're acting of their own free will... to walking right off the Wilkinson Bridge."
Trace kicked the coffee table out of the way, no longer even trying to hide his growing rage. "Are you threatening my wife?" he shouted, knowing that Nadia's neighbors could probably hear and not caring. Let them call the cops. He'd tell them everything Nadia said and make them take Toya out of here.
But the way Nadia's face crumpled in genuine, unfeigned confusion for a moment gave him pause. She really seemed utterly bewildered by his words-even her ceaseless whittling stopped for a moment, her hands slowing to a stop midway through carving a chin for her wooden figure. Then her eyes lit up with understanding, and she burst into laughter.
"I'm so sorry," she said, the words coming out between chuckles that sounded more like giggles coming out of her girlish mouth. "I-oh, no! No no no no no! I think your wife is adorable. I wouldn't hurt her for all the finger bones in Roselawn." Her smile calmed, became once again calculated and cutting. "No, Mister Moreau. I'm threatening you."
She gave a few more quick strokes with the knife, shaving away slivers of wood from the back of the figurine's neck. "Good likeness, isn't it?" she said idly, rounding off the head with swift cuts to give the impression of hair. "It's not done yet, of course, and it doesn't have to be. Not if you walk away now and pretend your wife is simply having a lesbian affair." Her hands worked smoothly and steadily as she spoke, shaping the face with precision into a caricature of Trace's own features.
He looked down at the doll taking shape in her hands with an incredulity that almost eclipsed his anger. "Are you trying to scare me... with that?" he asked, the absurdity of the situation threatening to make him laugh despite himself. "With a little wooden dolly you carved? You seriously expect me to believe you can, what, make me your puppet with it or something?" He relaxed slightly, feeling something like normality reassert itself. Nadia wasn't some sinister manipulator with a hold over his wife after all. She was just a foolish woman who believed her own myth, and Toya was hypnotized by that certainty. He just needed to see her and talk to her and they'd both be out of here in no time.
Nadia only sighed, carving craggy eyes under a furrowed brow into the doll's face. "Oh dear," she said, rolling her eyes in irritation. "Not brave after all, just stupid. Yes, that's exactly what I believe. Did you think I was just whittling to have something to do with my hands while we talked? I am absolutely working dark magic on the poppet I hold in my hands while I carve it, in order to enslave your will to my desires. I really don't think I can spell it out any more explicitly than that."
Trace's anger gave way even further to his confident disdain. "Oh, well, if you're going to finish up your little dolly and take over my will, please, don't let me stop you," he said, his stance changing from menacing to expectant. "I mean, I've got a few minutes before I go into your bedroom and get my wife, I'm sure I can spare a little time to watch your very impressive and certainly very real magic. Please, do show me how you're going to stop me with your little wooden dolly."
Nadia looked up at him, her face cold with fury in a way that would have been impressive if her cheeks didn't dimple when she frowned. "You do understand that I am not fucking around here, right?" she said, as her knife shaped a tiny nose on the figurine's face. "I am not a woman who takes kindly to being mocked, Mister Moreau, and I have a long memory and an infinite imagination when it comes to vengeance. I was willing to tolerate a certain amount of understandable anger from you, as an aggrieved husband, but my patience has limits and you have almost reached them. You are on my last fucking nerve, Mister Moreau. That is not a good place to stand."
Trace smiled thinly, a smile that echoed the expression on the carved wooden doll in Nadia's hands. "You're stalling," he said, "and I'm calling your bluff. Do your worst, Witchy-Poo. I'm not superstitious, I'm not gullible, and you don't frighten me." He folded his arms and stared at her, an expectant look on his face.
Nadia shrugged. "Don't say I didn't warn you," she muttered, her face relaxing into indifference as she worked the knife into the yielding wood. "I think I'll let you keep your mind, at least a little. Not enough to struggle, of course, but enough to let you remember on some level that you brought this on yourself." She dug out tiny slivers of wood here and there, turning the hair from a suggestion to a perfect caricature of Trace's crew cut. "After all, what's the point of walking you off a bridge if you're not around to know that I own your mind, body and soul?"
The performance was so theatrical that Trace had to smile. She was really determined to go the full mile in trying to hypnotize him with her little act, wasn't she? He stood patiently, waiting for her to try to 'command' him so that he could laugh in her face, but she kept carving and talking almost as if he wasn't there. "Perhaps a clothes rack? Toya could certainly use something to hang her clothing on, it winds up on the floor so often when I'm playing with her. And I have just the spot, in the corner of the bedroom with a nice good view of the bed. It'll mean having sex with the lights on more often, but I think I can get used to that."
Nadia seemed to be getting off-topic, her voice softening into arousal as she began to daydream out loud about Trace's wife. He knew she was just trying to rile him, though, and he shrugged it off as he listened to her ramble. "Oh yes, a very nice good view, every single night. I'll have to make her come more often, too. Good, long, loud orgasms that make her moan until she's hoarse. Get out the strap-on, have her ride my great big cock until she can't see straight and then eat my pussy and beg me for more. I think a year or two of that should remind a certain someone that I'm not to be mocked."
Strangely, something about Nadia's strange diatribe was starting to stir an erection between Trace's legs. He didn't think he'd ever be interested in watching his wife with anyone else, man or woman, but as Nadia shaped the doll's crotch into a perpetual, priapristic erection and continued her muttering rant, he felt himself getting harder and harder. "I wonder, do I want to hang her panties from your cock, or from your head? They're going to be good and wet by the time I take them off, and I think I want you to know how horny Toya gets for me. That's probably an argument for head. But on the other hand, the thought of that silky fabric dangling from your shaft, and you frozen in a constant agony of arousal... hmm. It's a dilemma."
Trace's features settled into an expression of patient amusement as he waited for her to figure out that her dire threats of vengeance were more sexy than anything else, but it didn't come. He didn't care. He could stand here as long as it took. "I don't think I want you in my bedroom all the time, though. During the day, you can go off to your business and make yourself useful for me. Maybe buy me the apartment building next door, I'm sure I could use a little more storage space for my good little dollies. I might even let you play with yourself at your desk when nobody's watching, so long as you don't come. And so long as you think about my cunt when you do."
She chuckled. "The only time you get to think about Toya's cunt anymore is when you watch me pleasuring it. That's fair, isn't it?" Trace nodded, humoring her. He really just wanted to get this over with, now.
She carved the hands, then went over the neck and chin to make sure they resembled him perfectly. "Hmm," she murmured, looking down at the vague shape of the torso. "Can you just take those clothes off for me now? I need to see what the rest of you looks like." With a patient sigh, Trace undid his shirt and tie and shucked them off, then slid his undershirt over his head. His pants and boxers followed, then finally his socks. He couldn't wait for her to finish so that he could finally have a chance to show her how her magic poppet had no effect on his willpower.
"Thank you!" she said, her face breaking into a smile that finally touched her eyes at last. "Not bad, Mister Moreau, not bad at all," she purred lustily as she began to give definition to the chest and stomach of the figure. "I might be able to hang a couple of scarves on there along with those panties." Her eyes roamed over Trace's body, and he felt himself getting harder in response to her appreciative stare.
The fact that she was carving the doll's penis into a perfect likeness of his erection was pure coincidence, of course.
Trace stood there, his arms hanging loosely at his sides, as she finished carving the poppet. A few times he turned to give her a better view of his body, his expression placid and patient while she worked her dagger over the wood with deft strokes. It didn't really matter whether he was looking at her or not, or what she was saying to him. He just needed to let her create her doll, so that he could tell her that it wasn't affecting him at all. Once she gave him a command, he would show her exactly what he thought of her sympathetic magic.
At last, Nadia put away her knife. She blew a few wood shavings off the finished figure. Then she slipped her dress up and over her head in a single smooth gesture to reveal a slender, naked body. "God, just thinking about this is making me wet," she said, her voice slightly strained with arousal. She set the poppet on the mantelpiece, her fingers lingering on it as she spoke. "Come on, let's go into the bedroom. Your wife and I have some sixty-nining to do, and you're going to watch."
At long last, Trace's moment had arrived. He just needed to... he just needed to, to... Trace's eyes locked onto the doll that Nadia held. It really was a perfect likeness. An absolutely perfect image of him, looking blank and peaceful and obedient in Nadia's hand. Almost like she was holding him right now, on some level deeper than the physical. Almost as though her mind had his in her grip and refused to let go. He gazed at the poppet for what felt like an eternity, his expression placid and smooth.
Then he spoke. "Yes, Mistress," he said in a vacant monotone, following her obediently to the bedroom. There was a place in the corner for him, one that gave him a perfect view of the bed. He took it. As Toya and Nadia began to embrace, his arms rose out to either side in a perfect cross. His mind settled into a haze of arousal. His gaze locked onto the two women in front of him. His cock strained forward, his only motion its tiny twitches.
They hung the panties on it. For that night, at least.