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.DedicationFOR STANContentsDedicationChapter 1Chapter 2Chapter 3Chapter 4Chapter 5Chapter 6Chapter 7Chapter 8Chapter 9Chapter 10Chapter 11Chapter 12Chapter 13Chapter 14Chapter 15Chapter 16Chapter 17Chapter 18Chapter 19Chapter 20Chapter 21Chapter 22Chapter 23Chapter 24Chapter 25Chapter 26Chapter 27Chapter 28Chapter 29Chapter 30Chapter 31Chapter 32Chapter 33Also by Anne RiceCopyrightAbout the PublisherLISAChapter 1My name is Lisa.I’m five foot nine.My hair is long and it’s dark brown.I wear leather a great deal, high boots always, and sometimes glove-soft vests and even leather skirts now and then, and I wear lace, especially when I can find the kind I like: intricate, very old-fashioned lace, snow white.I have light skin that tans easily, large breasts, and long legs.And though I don’t feel beautiful and never have, I know that I am.If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be a trainer at The Club.Good bones and big eyes, that’s the real foundation of the beauty, I suppose—the hair being thick, having a lot of body—and something to do with the expression on my face, that I look sweet and even kind of lost most of the time, but I can inspire fear in a male or female slave as soon as I start to talk.At The Club they call me the Perfectionist, and it is no small compliment to be called that in a place like The Club, where everyone is after a perfection of sorts, where everyone is striving, and the striving is part of the pleasure involved.I’ve been at The Club since it opened.I helped create it, establish its principles, approve its earliest members and its earliest slaves.I laid down the rules and the limits.And I imagined and created most of the equipment that is used there today.I even designed some of the bungalows and the gardens, the morning swimming pool and fountains.I decorated over a score of the suites myself.Its many imitators make me smile.There is no real competition for The Club.The Club is what it is because it believes in itself.And its glamour and its terror evolve from that.This is a story of something that happened at The Club.A great deal of the story doesn’t even take place there.It takes place in New Orleans and in the low countryside around New Orleans.And in Dallas.But it doesn’t matter really.The story began at The Club.And no matter where it goes from there, it’s about The Club.Welcome to The Club.LISAChapter 2The New SeasonWe were waiting for landing clearance, the enormous jet slowly circling the island in the tourist route, I call it, because you can see everything so well: the sugar-white beaches, the coves, and the great sprawling grounds of The Club itself—high stone walls and tree-shaded gardens, the vast complex of tile-roofed buildings half hidden by the mimosa and the pepper trees.You can see the drifts of white and pink rhododendrons, the orange groves, and the fields full of poppies and deep green grass.At the gates of The Club lies the harbor.And beyond the grounds, the ever busy airfield and heliport.Everyone was coming in for the new season.There were a score of private planes, winking silver in the sun, and a half-dozen snow-white yachts anchored in the blaze of blue-green water offshore.The Elysium was already in the harbor, a toy ship it seemed, frozen in a sea of light.Who would guess that there were some thirty or more slaves inside it, waiting breathlessly to be driven naked across the deck and onto the shore?The slaves all make the journey to The Club fully clothed for obvious reasons.But before they’re allowed to see the island, let alone set foot on it, they are stripped.Only naked and subservient are they admitted, and all their belongings are stored under a serial number in a vast cellar until time comes for them to leave.A very thin gold bracelet on the right wrist with a name and number artfully engraved on it identifies the slave, though in the first few days much would be written with a grease pen on that stunning naked flesh.The plane dipped slightly, passed closer to the dock.I was glad the little spectacle had not begun yet.I’d have a little time before inspection to be in the quiet of my room, just an hour or so with a glass of Bombay gin and ice.I sat back, feeling a slow warmth all over, a diffused excitement that came up from inside and seemed to cover all the surface of my skin.The slaves were always so deliciously anxious in those first few moments.Priceless feeling.And it was just the beginning of what The Club had in store for them.I was unusually eager to be back.I was finding the vacations harder and harder for some reason, the days in the outside world curiously unreal.And the visit with my family in Berkeley had been unbearable, as I avoided the same old questions about what I did and where I lived most of the year.“Why is it such a secret, for the love of heaven? Where do you go?”There were moments at the table when I absolutely could not hear anything my father was saying, just see his lips moving, and when he asked me a question I had to make up something about having a headache, feeling sick because I’d lost the thread.The best times oddly enough were those I hated when I was a little girl: the two of us walking around the block together, uphill and downhill in the early evening, and him saying his rosary, and the night sounds of the Berkeley hills all around us, and not a word said.I didn’t feel miserable during those walks as I had when I was little, only quiet as he was quiet, and inexplicably sad.One night I drove into San Francisco with my sister and we had dinner alone together at a glossy little North Beach place called Saint Pierre.There was a man standing at the bar who kept looking at me, the classically handsome young lawyer type wearing a white cable-knit sweater under his gray houndstooth jacket, hair cut full to look windblown, mouth ready to smile.Just the sort I always avoided in the past, no matter how beautiful the mouth, how brilliant the expression [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]