Jessie & Chelsea:
Shorty & the Cowgirl
by Van © 2002

Chapter 2

Margo leaned back in her chair, clasped her hands behind her head, and put her feet up on her desk.  Her eyes were focused on the huge, hi-resolution screen on the opposite wall.  As usual during business hours, the CEO of TESSERACT International was dressed for business: silk blouse, jacket and matching skirt, pantyhose, and hand-made Italian heels, only at the moment, the shoes were off her feet, the jacket was draped across the back of her chair, and the blouse was unbuttoned to the navel.  The wealthiest woman in the world was playing hooky, letting her empire run itself for an hour or two.

On screen, Jessie McQuade and Chelsea Brightman were in the front seat of Jessie's SUV (one of the new fuel efficient and clean models, with a hybrid power plant), and were on the road from Tucson to Copperhead Canyon.  The tall, American redhead was behind the wheel, and the short, blonde Brit was "riding shotgun".  Both were dressed in boots (Jessie's were of the Cowboy variety, Chelsea's were modern hiking boots), and both were wearing worn, faded jeans.  Jessie was in a Western-style workshirt, Chelsea in a chic, sleeveless top she'd bought in London.  Jessie had a comfortably broken-in Stetson atop her head and a pair of aviator shades shielding her green eyes.  Chelsea's head was bare, but her big blues were protected by shades of her own.  In addition, the short pixie had been (as Jessie had put it) "accessorized".

The diminutive blonde's wrists were crossed in her lap and bound together with plastic cable-ties.  More ties encircled her ankles and her denim-clad legs, just above the knees.  The vehicle's shoulder and lap belt completed the picture (snugly secured over her arms and wrists, with a final, redundant tie encircling the lap belt and wrist bonds).

Just then, there was melodious chime (the tone alerting Margo that she was about to receive a visitor cleared for the current location and circumstances), a door whisked open, and Elke entered.

"Watching the 'Shorty and the Cowgirl Show' again, I see," the leotard-clad Health Club Director said with a slightly disapproving frown.  "There's a lot of that going around."

Margo grinned.  Edited feeds of the youngsters' escapades had become popular viewing among her Inner Circle of late.  "I'm going to have to ask Eve to give the girls a little privacy... myself excluded, of course.  The Sisters can work out their voyeuristic tendencies by watching each other for a while."  The CEO's grin became a wistful smile as she took her eyes from the screen and gazed at her blonde, well-muscled friend and confidant.  "Were we ever that green?  Was The Game ever that fresh and new?"

Elke laughed.  "What's the matter, Old Crone?  Not getting your usual kick out of being the Spider Queen in her global web, controlling all she sees and hears?"  Quick as lightning, Elke's right hand shot out and pinned Margo's wrists to the chairback behind her head, and her left hand darted under Margo's open blouse and gently squeezed the "Spider Queen's" left breast.  Elke leaned close and whispered in her employer (and momentary prisoner's) left ear.  "If it's something 'fresh and new' you want, maybe I should schedule you for a few extra workouts?  ...in VR?  ...in the Dungeon Gym?  Charlie's designed a new version of the torso-twist machine that's so diabolical she made me promise never to use it... on her, anyway."

Margo turned her head and kissed Elke's lips.  "Whatever you think is best," she purred.  "You are my trainer, after all."

Elke laughed and released her holds.  "So," she said, nodding at the screen, "what's new with those two?"

Margo smiled.  "They're on their way to Copperhead Canyon."  She leaned forward and tapped several keys.  "Here's part of an earlier conversation that's interesting."

The screen flashed.  The image was virtually unchanged, but the time readout in the corner indicated this was a replay from about an hour in the past.

"I said I was sorry," Chelsea was saying, a coy pout on her pixie face, "but you never should have tried to just keep me like that, all day and all night.  It wasn't fair.  It was selfish."

Jessie laughed.  "Okay, but next time douche me after using me as an ice cream bowl, okay?  That was gross!  You're just lucky I don't have a yeast infection..."  She reached out and playfully rapped her prisoner's blonde head.  "...knock on wood."

"Very funny," Chelsea groused, "but why is it lucky for me that you don't have a yeast infection?  I don't care if you grow mushrooms down there."

Jessie laughed again.  "If I was growing a crop 'down there,' you'd have to wait 'til after the harvest before you could do any more 'spelunking', as you put it."

Chelsea smiled (a twinkle in her baby blue eyes even the shades couldn't hide.)  "There is that," she admitted with a theatrical sigh.  "Still... we have to work out some rules."

(Margo grinned at Elke and nodded towards the screen.)

"How 'bout this," Jessie suggested.  "Tucson is neutral territory.  We'll share the damsel and the villainess chores half-and-half."

"Why do I feel a 'but' coming on?" Chelsea murmured.

"But..." Jessie laughed, then composed herself and continued.  "...Copperhead Canyon is my family home, my turf... and while we're there, I'm in charge."

"Oooh," Chelsea cooed, pulling on her bonds in theatrical (if real) helplessness, "such a butch and macho Cowgirl!  How can a delicate, helpless, English Rose such as myself do naught but submit to your rough, raw, brutish, frontier power?"

Both girls laughed.  "Flirt!" Jessie accused, shaking her head.

"It's a deal, Cowgirl," Chelsea continued, "but... if we ever get to my family home... I'll be the one in charge, and Brightman Hall has real dungeons and torture chambers, you might recall."

Jessie smiled (as did Margo and Elke.  Chelsea didn't know about the Copperhead Canyon Mine, and its dungeons and torture chambers).  "Deal... but wherever we're playing, whoever's 'in charge', if a damsel escapes... the tables turn."

"Agreed!" Chelsea answered, playfully tugging on her bonds, fluttering her fingers, and batting her big blue eyes.  "We can shake on it whenever you get around to releasing me."

Jessie laughed.  "Flirt!"

Margo tapped another key, the screen flashed, and the camera feed from the SUV returned to real time.  The trip was continuing, with Shorty still bound and Cowgirl still driving.

"Such bright and sensible youngsters," Elke said with a coy smile.

Margo laughed.  "That remains to be seen."

Elke nodded towards the screen.  "Uh... what's the status of things at Copperhead?"

"You mean the AI, or the Archeological Institute?"

"Both," Elke answered.

"The 6900 nexus in the secure chamber in the Mine has been fully integrated and operational for several days," Margo said.  "I'm waiting for a suitable opportunity to broach the subject with Jessie.  She still needs to approve the parameters of the interface agent/avatar.  For now, the Copperhead, the Institute, and the Tucson subsystems are in standard mode.  The security system is slaved to the TESSERACT network.  A copy of Eve will intervene if an emergency should arise."

"And the ethical firewalls we discussed are in place?" Elke demanded.

"Yes, my conscience," Margo sighed, a tolerant smile on her face.  "Jessie's systems and the Seattle subnexus I'm lending her are operating in her best interests, not mine."

"Which is why you're being allowed to spy on her?" Elke asked, with a coy smile.

Margo laughed, then grew serious.  "I reserve the right to 'spy'.  I feel responsible for her... in light of everything that happened... in light of the situation with her cousin."

"And if you get to watch two attractive, randy youngsters swap bodily fluids in the process of executing said responsibility... so much the better?"

"You make me sound like a dirty old woman," Margo objected.  "They're both adults."

Elke smiled.  "What's the status of the Institute, Dirty Old Woman?"

Margo's smile returned.  "Teri Fournelle's done a bang-up job.  The conservation lab in the Lodge hasn't opened yet, but she's already started endowing graduate and post-doc projects.  The undergraduate scholarship program will come online this Fall."

"She still lives at Copperhead?"

"That's the Institute's headquarters," Margo answered, nodding, "although the professional staff she's hiring to do the grant and scholarship administration are all at Tucson, Boulder, and the other affiliated schools."

"And her escapology lessons?"

Margo smiled, coyly.  "Let's just say Delores is earning her pay and leave it at that, shall we?"

On screen, Jessie was pulling off the road.  The map beside the main video window gave their location as less than a half mile from the Main Gate of Copperhead Canyon Lodge.  The redhead produced a pocket knife with a wicked, saw-tooth, drop point blade, leaned over, and began severing Chelsea's cable-tie bonds, one-by-one.

"I assume Teri and Delores are waiting at the front door for the 'Mistress of Copperhead Canyon Lodge' to make her Grand Entrance?" Elke purred.

"There's the rub... so to speak," Margo responded.  "Jessie called ahead and made some arrangements. Delores knows she's coming... but Dr. Fournelle doesn't."  Margo tapped a few keys and a new window opened, a security cam feed from inside Copperhead Lodge showing Teri and Delores' current location... and activity.

Margo and Elke locked eyes and grinned.  "This should be interesting," Elke purred.

Teri pulled on her wrist bonds.  Delores had tied them behind her back, palm-to-palm, and had used thin cord, a lot of thin cord.  It was some sort of colorful synthetic, a braided green sheath around a twisted core.  Stiff stuff, but it held a knot.  The Director of the Copperhead Canyon Archeological Institute suspected it was some of Jessie's old climbing ropes.  Teri sighed.  The final knot was tied high on her wrists.  The wide, tight bands prevented her from twisting her wrists to any significant degree, and she knew she'd never be able to reach the knot.

They were in the Lodge exercise room, Teri in one of her unitards, her long, brown, curly hair pinned up, and Delores in her maid's uniform, with her glossy black locks falling down her back in a loose French braid.  Teri's wrists, ankles and knees were already bound, and her Latina captor and "trainer" was pulling more rope from her canvas "duffle bag of tricks". 

"I tie your arms, no?" Delores suggested.  "Then you escape for me."

Teri sighed, squirming in her bonds, carefully controlling her breathing (and the thrill she always felt whenever Delores gave one of her "Escapology Lessons").  "There's always a first time," she sighed.

Delores laughed, a knowing smile on her angelic face.  "Yes... either I am very good, or you are so very bad.  Perhaps I should go easier on my pretty, smart, estudent."

Teri smiled.  "Then I'll never learn... will I?  ...if you go easy on me?"

Delores laughed again.  "As always, the good Doctor is very logical."

"Doesn't sound logical to me," a voice announced from the open doorway.

"Little Fox!" Delores exclaimed, and raced to embrace her friend, employer (and past fellow prisoner of Victoria, the former Mistress of Copperhead Canyon Lodge).  "You are back!"

"Ah, Preciosa," Jessie sighed, returning the maid's hug with gusto.

Meanwhile, her face bright crimson, Teri stared at the short blonde beside Jessie.  The tan (incredibly cute) stranger smiled sweetly.  Oh God! the mortified prisoner thought, her heart hammering in her chest, desperately squirming in her inescapable bonds.  Oh God!

"Ahem," the stranger coughed, shifting her amused gaze from Teri to Jessie and Delores.

Jessie broke the embrace but kept one arm around the smiling maid.  "Delores, this is Chelsea Brightman, now my roommate in Tucson, and soon to be my fellow student."

"Señorita," Delores said quietly, curtseying respectfully.

Chelsea took Delores hand and gave it a gentle shake.  "Con mucho gusto.  Jessie has told me you are her good friend.  I hope we can be friends as well."

Delores smiled and embraced Chelsea.  Over the short Brit's shoulder, the taller Mexican maid grinned at her employer and silently mouthed "Very cute!"

Jessie (blushing slightly) directed Delores and Chelsea to the other (furiously blushing) occupant of the room.  "Dr. Fournelle, this is Chelsea.  Chelsea, Dr. Teri Fournelle, Director of the Copperhead Institute."

"Pleased to meet you, Doctor," Chelsea said, a dimpled grin on her pixie face.

"Uh... pleased to meet you, Chelsea."  The highly embarrassed archeologist looked to Jessie, then Delores.  "Delores?" she hissed, half turning and twisting her wrists.

"Yes, Doctor?" the maid inquired sweetly.  "Oh!  How silly of me!  I am neglecting my duties!"  She turned to Jessie.  "I shall unload your vehicle, no?  And which room would you like me to prepare for Señorita Brightman?"

"Chelsea, please," the grinning blonde said (her eyes never leaving the captive Teri).  "Call me Chelsea."

"As you wish, Señorita Chelsea," the maid answered (her laughing brown eyes also on the hapless, helpless captive).

"I'll help you with the bags," Jessie said (also smiling at the blushing Director of her Institute.)  "We can catch up while we unpack."

"Oh... wait!" Teri exclaimed as Jessie and Delores turned to leave.  "Untie me!"

"Why should we interrupt your lesson?" Jessie asked, a sweet, ever-so-slightly gloating smile on her freckled face.  "Chelsea dear?"

"Yes, Cowgirl?" the grinning Brit responded.

"Dr. Fournelle is trying to learn how to escape from ropes."

"The ancient art of 'Escapology'." Chelsea noted.

"The very same," Jessie answered.  "Be a dear and help her with her exercise, would you?  I'll give you a tour of the Lodge and Canyon after Delores and I finish the chores."

Chelsea locked eyes with the still blushing Teri.  "It would be my pleasure."

Delores giggled and Jessie smiled as they turned and left.  "I bet," the grinning redhead muttered.
The exercise room door closed... and Jessie and Delores were gone.  Teri swallowed nervously and turned her head.  Chelsea had just finished pulling the last of the long rope Delores had been extracting from the duffle.  Now the short, blonde, incredibly cute Brit was coiling the rope.  Teri swallowed again.  It was more of the used climbing rope, but it was magenta, and was thicker than the green rope binding her wrists, knees, and ankles, and there was a lot of it.

"You d-don't have to do this," Teri stammered.  Chelsea smiled sweetly (and Teri felt a thrill pass through her loins.)  God she's cute, the helpless scientist thought. Jess is lucky.

"I don't mind," Chelsea said, knelt behind the blushing prisoner, and set to work.  "'Escapology' is fun."  She pulled one end of the rope under Teri's left armpit from behind, up and behind the prisoner's neck, under her right armpit from in front, then tied a non-compacting hitch between Teri's shoulderblades.  The short free end of the hitch was looped under the neck rope, pulled down, and another knot was tied.  Now the shoulder-yoking loop was a tight shoulder-yoking figure eight, with all the rest of the long coil of rope as a free end.  "Don't you think it's fun, Doctor?" Chelsea asked as she began dropping coils of rope over the captive's head and around her arms, first above, then below her breasts.

"It... it's fun, I guess," Teri admitted, "but it's a valuable skill... uh... in case... uh..."

Chelsea cinched the breast ropes by taking hitches between Teri's arms and torso, looping the prisoner's elbows and adding them to the pattern.  Her captive gasped a few times when her elbows were pulled closer together, and again when Chelsea went back over her work, removing the slack, but she didn't complain.  Unseen, behind her prisoner's back, Chelsea felt her smile turn slightly... feral.  It was fun indeed binding a woman ten years her senior... especially one as beautiful and shapely as The Doctor.

Teri gasped again as more rope went around her waist, pinned her forearms to her side, and was cinched tight .  She knew Jessie didn't like talking about her experiences as Victoria's ward (and prisoner), and they had all agreed to be under an informal "gag-order" about the kidnapping and rescue of Charlie and herself and the disposition of Victoria and her accomplice.  Almost certainly Jessie's new roommate (and playmate?) knew little or nothing about any of it.  I'll have to ask Jess what we can and can't talk about with her new friend.

The new friend in question eased Teri down onto the mat and rolled her so she was lying on her back and now thoroughly bound arms.  The prisoner watched as her captor rummaged in the duffle for more rope.  Chelsea found a relatively short length of thick, bright yellow rope, smiled, and shuffled on her knees until she was beside her prisoner.  Teri watched nervously as the grinning pixie began tying a series of figure-eight knots in the rope, all grouped closely together.

"I really like your unitard," Chelsea purred as she tied one end of the rope to the magenta band encircling Teri's narrow waist, directly over her navel.  "What brand is it?"

"Uh... Gaiam," Teri answered, then her eyes popped wide when Chelsea thrust her hand between her inner thighs and snugged the knotted rope against her cotton-clad sex.  "Chelsea!" she yelped.  "There's no need to—"

"Oh, but there is," the grinning blonde interrupted, then rolled Teri onto her side, pulled the rope through her crotch completely, took a turn between the captive's wrist bonds, and gave it a savage jerk.  "You see, the ropes are anchored up above, around your shoulders..."  She looked to Teri's front and adjusted the crotch rope, making sure it had parted Teri's labia and the knots were nestled in the intimate fold.  "...so it needs to be anchored down below."  The slack was removed behind and the rope tied off to the rope bands pinning Teri's forearms, well away from her wrists, and even further away from her groping, fluttering fingers.  "Otherwise you might be able to shift the ropes as you struggle."  She rolled Teri back onto her arms and back, then hauled the bound archeologist onto her lap, until her head and shoulders were comfortably cradled.

Teri gazed up at her young, beautiful captor... then gasped when the diminutive Brit's tan, petite left hand began caressing her left breast. 

"Gaiam, huh?" Chelsea said, continuing her gentle caresses.  "Yes... I really like this one.  The bra cups are lined, I see... and the panty region as well."  Her right hand began roaming over Teri's upper back, causing the embarrassed captive to squirm in her bonds.  (Chelsea noted that there were no outraged protestations or demands to be set free emanating from The Doctor.)  "I like the criss-cross strap arrangement in the back, the way it frames your shoulderblades and gives you freedom of motion..."  She grinned and playfully tugged on Teri's bonds where they framed her breasts.  "...so to speak.  Is there a store near here that sells them?  ...or in Tucson, maybe?"

"W-web site.  They have a web site... and a catalog."

"Cool," Chelsea said, then leaned down and kissed Teri's lips.  "So... what's your reward if you escape."

Teri twisted in her bonds.  "Reward?"

Chelsea grinned.  "If you escape?  You have been able to escape now and then... haven't you?"

Writhing in her bonds, her little captor's hands still gently caressing her breasts, her eyes gazing into Chelsea's smiling face, Teri slowly shook her head.

"Oh... tsk, tsk, Doctor."  Chelsea reached out and dragged Delores' duffle closer, then started rummaging through the contents.  "Motivation... that's your problem."

From her position in Chelsea's lap, Teri couldn't see what her captor was doing.  "Huh?  Motiv— MMPFH !"

Chelsea had popped a crumpled, red, cotton bandana into Teri's mouth and was tying a long, narrow strip of gray cloth between her lips and behind her neck, winding turn after turn around her head, pulling the bandage-like cleave gag tighter and tighter.  Teri grunted and complained as Chelsea tied the final knot over her lips and between her teeth, and tucked the free ends of the knot out of sight.Now... what were we talking about?  Oh yes... *motivation.*

Teri watched as Chelsea looked back into the duffle.  "Now what do you suppose this is for?" she asked, an inquisitive frown on her angelic face.  She lifted her hand and what appeared to be a ball of red yarn came into Teri's view.  "Oh, I know!"  The frown turned to a perky smile as the petite blonde pulled several inches of yarn from the ball and cut it free with a pair of small scissors from one of the duffle's many side pockets.  She shoved the duffle aside and grinned down at Teri.  "Let me show you."

Teri mewed through her gag as Chelsea dumped her off her lap and onto her stomach.  She felt her captor looping the yarn around her thumbs, then yelped as the loops were pulled tight, cinched, and tied off.  God, I'll never get free with my thumbs tied!  She was rolled onto her back and her bound feet hauled onto her captor's lap.  Teri looked down her bound, cotton-clad legs and up at her captor's girlish face as Chelsea used a second length of yarn to tie her big toes together.

The final knot tied, Chelsea gave both captive toes a playful pinch.  "There are two Little Piggies that won't be going to market, will they?"  Teri sighed through her gag as Chelsea began giving her bare feet a gentle massage.  "Now... what were we talking about?  Oh yes... 'motivation'."  Teri lifted her head and locked eyes with her captor.  "How about this for motivation, Doctor?" Chelsea continued.  "If you escape before sundown, you can give me an 'Escapology Lesson'.  If you don't escape before sundown, someone will come in here and... do things to you..."  Teri's eyes popped wide above her gag.  "...naughty, nasty things... things you won't want to end... and you won't be able to stop her.  Won't that be fun?"  Teri blinked and squirmed in her bonds.  Chelsea smiled sweetly.  "Or... you can pretend an evil villainess is going to return and feed you to her pet goldfish.  When I play I like the first option... but whatever floats your boat."

Chelsea dumped Teri's feet off her lap, smiled, and picked up Delores' duffle.  "Let's see now..."  The perky blonde snapped and zipped closed all the bag's pockets and compartments, then hefted it on her shoulder by the attached carrying strap.  She then strolled around the exercise room, inspecting its contents: a treadmill for running, a Stairmaster, an exercise bike, a weight bench, and racks of weights.  "Nothing sharp in here, is there Doctor?"  She turned to smile down at the bound and gagged brunette.  "Nothing particularly rough for you to rub your ropes against... nothing for you to try and catch the knots on and pick them apart... nothing I can see anyway."  Teri squirmed on the thin mats as Chelsea strolled to the exercise room door.  "Feel free to explore on your own, of course."  She turned and smiled brightly as she pulled the door closed.  "It's been a pleasure to meet you, Doctor.  Later!"

Elke grinned and turned to face Margo.  On the screen behind her, Teri Fournelle was writhing in her bonds, desperate to free herself from the tight ropes, mewing through her tight gag, rolling her helpless body over and over on the Copperhead Canyon exercise room mats.  "If Chelsea Brightman ever visits Seattle, would you please assign me one of your bodyguards?"

Margo smiled coyly at her tall, muscled, amazonian Health Club Director.  Margo couldn't imagine Elke needing a bodyguard to protect her from anyone, much less tiny, perky little Chelsea.  "Sorry, but every Security employee in Kat's M-cadre will be forming a moving phalanx between Chelsea, myself, and the nearest pile of rope."  Margo tapped a few keys and the screen display split into two windows, one showing Teri's continuing lack of progress towards regaining her freedom, the other following Chelsea's progress through the Lodge as she casually searched for Jessie and Delores.  "Actually, Ms. Brightman is not the incredibly cute and perky little psycho-libertine Teri almost certainly thinks she is... at the moment."  Margo's grin turned feral.  "Jessie put Chelsea up to it.  They arranged the whole thing during the ride up."

"A practical joke."  Elke shook her head.  "We ought to do things like that around here now and then."

Margo laughed.  "Very funny," she muttered.  On the screen, Chelsea had found her redheaded roommate and was explaining how Teri's "Escapology Lesson" had gone, including an account of her attempts to "motivate The Doctor."  Jessie was laughing.  Delores was simultaneously giggling and blushing bright crimson.

The camera zoomed in on Jessie's freckled face as she turned to Delores and spoke.  "I assume you'll be able to find the time to get down there and 'motivate The Doctor' around sunset?"

Delores' blush deepened.  "But the dinner and the other chores, and—"

"Shorty and I can fend for ourselves."

"Is okay?" Delores asked shyly.

"Is an order!" Jessie answered with a laugh.  "I hereby add hauling The Doctor's ashes to your list of official duties."

"Crude, Cowgirl," Chelsea giggled.

All three giggled... then Jessie seemed to notice something in Delores' expression.  "You're already doing that... aren't you."

"I-I 'haul her ashes', as you order, Mistress," Delores stammered, blushing bright crimson (and evading Jessie's direct question), "but now I must prepare lunch, yes?"

"Please," Jessie answered (enjoying her compadre's embarrassment), then turned to Chelsea.  "Tour?"

The short, blonde Brit smiled, brightly.  "Super!"

Margo tapped a key and both windows shrank to a single icon which migrated to the margin of the display, joining the several dozen other active tasks currently running on Margo's office system.  The tall, grinning brunette then smiled up at her even taller blonde friend.  "I've just had one of my patented wonderful ideas."

"Oh joy!" Elke muttered, a sardonic grin on her tan face.  "And human progress takes another giant leap towards Paradise-on-Earth."

Margo smiled but otherwise ignored Elke's jibe.  "Eve?"

"Yes Margo?" the disembodied voice of the Eve-6900 Artificial Intelligence answered.

"Two tasks.  First, please arrange Lourdes' schedule and free her up for an impending 'Special Project'."

"Yes, Margo."

"Second, handshake with the Brightman Hall system and schedule a vidchat for me with Lady Brightman, at her convenience.  Routine priority.  Flag it 'Personal'."

"Yes, Margo."

"What are you up to?" Elke demanded, a suspicious smile on her face.

"I'll explain later," Margo answered.

"Margo," Eve announced, "Lourdes will be returning from a flight in six hours.  Factoring in mandatory crew rest, she will be available for duty in thirty, and I have amended her flight schedule to place her on hold."

"Excellent," Margo stated.

"Your vidchat with Lady Brightman is tentatively scheduled for midnight, Seattle time."

"Also excellent."

"There is one more thing," Eve intoned.

"Yes?" Margo answered.

"Kat has requested a moment of your time.  She says she's captured an intruder and would like your guidance as to how she should proceed."

Margo raised an eyebrow and turned to Elke.  Kat (Katherine Mayfair, her personal bodyguard, Director of her Special Security Department, sensei, and a senior member of her Inner Circle) was still supposed to be in the doghouse, serving the last several days of the sentence Margo had imposed for Kat's brainwashing of Penny Brightman.  Kat was supposed to be bound twenty four hours a day and in the constant custody of one of her fellow Inner Circle Sisters.  The Red Queen locked eyes with her Harem Keeper and frowned.

Elke shrugged and offered a single word in explanation: "Jodi."

Margo's smile returned (slightly) and she sighed.  "Show her in," she ordered.

One of the office suite's doors opened (one of the secret, camouflaged doors leading to the 'Biosphere') and two females entered.

The first female was dressed in a skintight catsuit of thin leather, a catsuit designed to showcase its wearer's feminine charms and lithe, athletic figure.  Her hair was dark brown and long, and swayed around her smug, self-assured face in elegant, silky sheets.  Her eyes were hidden behind mirrored shades.  Her feet were in tall, slender boots with high heels.  Her hands were covered by thin, skintight leather gloves.  Catsuit, boots, and gloves glistened like ebony mirrors.  The catsuited beauty walked with an exaggerated feline grace, swinging her hips and mincing her steps.

The second female (slightly taller than the first) was dressed in (of all things) a cheerleader's uniform: skintight V-neck sweater (hemmed short to show off its wearer's toned abs), pleated miniskirt, white crew socks, and two-tone sneakers.  Her hair was blonde, and cascaded around her head in loose, brassy curls.  A large "T" was emblazoned on the front of her sweater, and everything was either "TESSERACT Blue", black, or a combination of the two.  In addition, her arms were behind her back and apparently (almost certainly ) bound, her ankles were hobbled with black rope, and translucent Dermafoam covered her lips and lower face.  A black rope lead was around her neck, the other end in the first figure's right hand.

The catsuited figure was Jodi Weber, and the *captive cheerleader* was Kat Mayfair! Margo and Elke gasped in amazement, then were instantly, helplessly, doubled over with laughter.  The catsuited figure was Jodi Weber, and the "captive cheerleader" was Kat Mayfair!

"I was on one of my Ever Vigilant Patrols..." Jodi announced, removing her shades.  Margo and Elke's mirth doubled.  Elke's aerobics instructor sister was wearing bright, impossibly emerald green contacts, completing her caricature of her prisoner.  "...and I caught this Sweater Monkey lurking in the Biosphere.  What should I do with her?  Should I take her to my trophy room and mount her? ...so to speak?  Or should I take her to one of my interrogation chambers and make her divulge all her secret cheers?"

Still laughing, Margo bounded from her chair and went to examine the captive "Sweater Monkey."  Kat's hands were indeed bound.  In fact, her wrists, hands, and interlaced fingers were completely encased in stainless steel "mutant cuffs", a strong, rigid, close-fitting, metal shell pumped full of gel resin.  If Kat found herself in a room full of lock picks, she still wouldn't be able to free herself (or untie any of her other bonds). 

Margo next examined the prisoner's face.  (She tried to stop laughing, but couldn't help herself.)  Kat was heavily made up: too much mascara, too much blush, too much eye shadow... and all the shades used were (ever so slightly) wrong.  Also, Kat was wearing bright, baby blue contacts, with gold flecks (but how Jodi had managed to persuade her prisoner to wear them Margo couldn't imagine).  The sullen, long-suffering captive ignored her amused employer's inspection, her tired, dignified eyes focused on the distant wall.  Margo examined Kat's gag... and guffawed. Chameleon Dermafoam had been used (the latest from TESSERACT R&D's ongoing project to develop tape that mimicked the skin tone of its wearer).  As usual, the match was close but far from perfect; however, someone (Margo presumed Jodi) had painted big, luscious red lips over Kat's actual lips.

Margo finally was able to control her mirth (more or less).  "I'm sorry, Katherine," she whispered.  The captive sighed, and continued to ignore her surroundings.  Margo turned to Elke.  "This could be a first," she muttered (struggling to not resume laughing), "the first Inner Circle prank requiring the perpetrator to be put in the Federal Witness Protection Program."

Jodi smiled brightly.  "That good, huh?"

Elke laughed and gave her little sister a playful (but business-like) thump up the side of her head.

"Ow!" the catsuited Trickster complained.

Elke smiled at Kat (the real Kat).  "Oh, I think Katherine will be able to keep the situation... in perspective."

Kat's gaze met Elke's and there was a flash of amusement in the prisoner's "blue" eyes, then she resumed staring into the distance.

"So...?" Jodi demanded.  "What should I do with her?"

"What are Harem Keeper's orders?" Margo asked.

"Turn her over to Lourdes when she returns from Brazil," Jodi answered.

"Argentina," Margo and Elke said simultaneously, giving Lourdes' correct itinerary.

"Whatever," Jodi said, gazing at her prisoner.

Margo laughed and gave Jodi a kiss.  "Full marks, Trickster," she purred.  "Just make sure she doesn't escape before Lourdes signs for her."

Jodi spun on her booted heel and gave her captive Sweater Monkey's leash a tug.  "I'll be sulking in the Katacombs," she announced (her voice pitched unusually low, imitating Kat's husky alto), "in my broody, feline way, idly toying with my helpless victim.  Come, Sweater Monkey.  You have an appointment with a TIKLER wand."

Kat sighed as she was led away.  Margo and Elke waited (politely) until the door closed... then doubled over with laughter.

Jessie flipped the steaks one last time, then picked up a knife and made a small exploratory cut in the one she had earmarked for herself.  The interior of the thick sirloin was just cooked through, still juicy, and with a hint of pink.  She moved them off the fire and to the edge of the huge grill, where they'd stay warm.  The salad was ready, as were the roasted corn, squash, chilies, and diced potatoes.  The freshly baked bread was waiting under wraps atop a heated stone, and the wine had had enough time to breath.  Everything was timing out perfectly.  So why am I so nervous? the tall redhead wondered as she untied her apron and hung it from a convenient peg on one of the timbers supporting the barbecue area's pergola.  A simple Mexican peasant blouse, designer jeans, and bare feet now her costume, Jessie turned towards the pool to summon her guest... and her intended shout caught in her throat.

The late afternoon/early evening sun was bathing the sandstone of the upper cliffs of the canyon.  As always, this time of day and year, shafts of indirect light bounced through every fold of the rocks, banishing all (or almost all) of the dark shadows that would swallow the entire canyon in a few hours.  Rippling reflections from the natural pool and waterfall danced on the rough underside of the tawny rock face, and in the pool itself.

Naked as the day she was born, Chelsea was standing under the waterfall, her tan back, dimpled rump, and shapely legs towards her admirer.  A thrill passed through Jessie's loins. That's why I'm nervous, she thought.    Water streamed down Chelsea's body as she gazed up at the cliff... and laughed!   Hanging baskets of flowering plants with large, attached nectar feeders were artfully suspended beside the cascading waters, over Chelsea's head, and a dozen or more hummingbirds were buzzing around, hovering and feeding, squabbling, twittering, and fanning their tails in display, then swooping close and feeding again. Tanking up before sunset, Jessie mused.

Chelsea turned, found her friend and lover watching, and pointed up at the busy cloud of tiny, buzzing, iridescent wonders, a dimpled grin on her wet, pixie face.

Jessie smiled back (the thrill coursing through her again.)  She's so beautiful, the freckled redhead mused, then gestured for the object of her affection to join her.

Chelsea gracefully dove into the pool, swam towards Jessie, then pulled herself from the water.  Toweling dry as she came, the diminutive blonde pattered over.  "They're wonderful!" she gushed, "so tiny and beautiful and full of life!"

Jessie's smile broadened.  "Just like you, Shorty."

Chelsea laughed, then tossed her towel over a chair and sauntered towards her hostess, a coy grin on her tan, pixie face.  "Why Cowgirl," she purred, "you think I'm beautiful?"  She went up on her toes and kissed Jessie's lips.

Jessie hugged her close and returned the kiss with gusto.  "Well... tiny, anyway.  Quit fishin' fer compliments."

"I think you're beautiful," Chelsea whispered, a girlish pout on her angelic face.

Jessie felt her cheeks color, and gave her lover a slap on her naked rump.  "Flirt!" the blushing redhead mumbled.  "Shut up and eat."

Chelsea smiled and gave Jessie a final peck, then broke their embrace.  "I'd argue, if I wasn't starving, and everything didn't smell so good."  She wandered over to the side table where she had tossed her borrowed robe (light cotton, predominantly blue, but also a dozen other bright colors, woven in a bold Indian Blanket pattern).  She lifted the robe and began donning it... then gasped when she saw what had been hidden underneath.

Lying on the table was a set of chains: collar, manacles, shackles, and belt, all joined (in some manner) by a jumble of heavy links, all in stainless steel, all edges filed smooth, all surfaces oiled, burnished, and gleaming.

Her robe hanging open, Chelsea stood beside the table, running her small, tan hands over the cool, steel objects... then flinched when she realized Jessie was standing close behind her.  "I was wondering when you'd start... uh... being... 'in charge'," Chelsea whispered.

Jessie embraced her short companion from behind, resting her cheek on Chelsea's damp, blonde mop.  "Everything's munchkin size, so it'll all fit you close and tight.  The manacles are attached to the back of the collar, the shackles to the front, and the shackle chain passes through that ring in the belt ... and the chains are all short, so you can only walk in an awkward crouch.  It's not quite a frog march, but it's challenging enough... especially on the stairs."  She hugged Chelsea tight, savoring the smell of clean, damp skin and hair.

Chelsea swallowed nervously.  (Jessie could feel her petite friend's pulse pounding.)  The short blonde squirmed in her lover's embrace as she shrugged the robe off her tan, freckled shoulders.  "I assume you want me to—"

"None of that!" Jessie interrupted, tightening her embrace, her voice a husky murmur.  Keeping Chelsea's arms and body pinned with her left arm, she pulled aside the folds of the robe and fully exposed her short friend's small, round breasts.  She then toyed with the pert, increasingly erect nipples, causing Chelsea to shudder and bite her lower lip.  "If I chain you up before we eat, I'll have to cut up your steak for you... and that's too much like work."

Chelsea squirmed and giggled.  "You're a big meany, Cowgirl," she accused, her voice a girlish whisper.  She shuddered again when Jessie ever so lightly squeezed her left breast.  "...a meany."

Jessie laughed (evilly) and hugged Chelsea even closer.  "I have a trip planned for tomorrow.  We're going up into the mountains and spend the night.  It's a bit of a hike, so you'll need your rest."  She released her hold, spun Chelsea around, and kissed her lips.  The robe fell to the stone flags, unnoticed, and Chelsea returned the kiss with enthusiasm.  Finally, their lips parted, and Jessie gazed down into Chelsea's shining blue eyes.  "I'll chain you after dessert.  If you're a good girl, you'll sleep in my bed... but if you're bad... you sleep on the hard, cold floor."

"Oh... I'll be good," Chelsea promised, a coy smile on her face as her hands slowly, lightly slid over Jessie's denim-clad rump and loins.

Jessie shuddered, laughed, and stepped away.  "C'mon," she mumbled.  "The food's gettin' cold."  She looked back to find Chelsea still at the side table, half turned, the robe a crumpled pool of brightly dyed cotton at her bare feet, her gaze and one hand resting on the steel links and bands waiting to be locked tight around her naked limbs and body.  (The thrill coursed through Jessie, again, and she sighed.  So beautiful!)  "C'mon, Short Stuff," she called.  "And fer cryin' out loud, get dressed.  Ain't ya got no cooth?"
THE END of Shorty & the Cowgirl—Chapter 2

Chapter 1 _
Chapter 3