HTG: Donna Learns the Ropes
by Delilah Winston

Part 4

“Con-GRAT-chu-LAY-tions,” Christina over-enunciated as she proudly hugged Donna at the start of the day. “You made the start of your fourth week!”

“So what do we call it after 'orientation' is over?” Donna asked a little sardonically, though she returned Christina's smile.

Christina gave a light shrug and her smile turned a little mischievous. “That's one thing none of us ever really came to a complete consensus on,” she admitted a little sheepishly. “Carla and Karen have jokingly called it 'Miller Time' before--”

Christina paused as Donna turned her face a little to one side and gave a snorting laugh that she tried hard to suppress, but didn't do a good job of it.

“Well, I guess that's one more person who doesn't agree with them,” Christina chuckled. “Bea sometimes calls it, 'quiet time,' but she has a soft voice to begin with, and she's not that vocal when she's gagged, anyway.” She blushed a little as she added, “Not like me. I really scream into my gag.”

Donna quickly shot her hand up in the traditional HTG sign of 'me too' and Christina grinned wide, giving her co-worker a high-five.

“Aides had to peek into Bea's office three times during her orientation to make sure she wasn't in trouble. It creeped her out a little,” Christina added. “Speaking of which--”

“I'm fine now,” Donna said. “Feeling much better.”

“Donna... I'm so sorry I couldn't tell you everything at your first-night dinner with Karen and me. It's usually the last thing on a new hire's mind.”

“You and Karen did say I wasn't like most new hires,” Donna reminisced, to which Christina smiled and nodded.

“Nancy still hates it,” Christina said. “She told you that Friday night, right?”

Donna nodded. “I'm sure none at all fond of it myself,” she said a little absently, turning her glance away from Christina.

A few seconds passed and Christina realized that Donna had become lost in thought, and was starting to glance around her office. She smiled sympathetically and gently nudged Donna's chin to regain her attention. “Don't look for it, Donna,” she said softly. “If you do find it, you'll wish you hadn't.”

Donna realized Christina was right and nodded in agreement. “How do you deal with it, Christina?” she finally asked.

“Well, since Mary, Karen and I tend to be the most competitive in the betting pool, it's easier for us not to think about it,” Christina admitted. “We're focusing on trying to get free before the aides come in to untie us. As many years as this little thing has been going on without any girl ever struggling free, we're hell-bent on not giving up until someone finally does it. Because if we simply sit quietly and stare at the wall, none of us ever will.” She winked, and Donna had to smile in response.

“I hope it works for me,” Donna said in a slightly breathy voice, showing her continuing anxiety.

“Nancy and Carla try to keep focused on the fact that we're not being watched in a voyeuristic way, but to make sure we can be released immediately if something happens,” Christina pointed out. “One day the overhead lighting shorted out in Carla's office. For it to happen while she was tied and helpless, unnerved her, and she started to have an anxiety attack. Mr. Halwell saw to it that she was released immediately and allowed to get a cup of coffee in the cafeteria.”

Donna again tried to keep from changing expression too much, and again she failed. Another snorting sound made it past her guard. “And I'm still not through hearing new little tidbits that make life here at HTG feel even weirder.”

“Nor will you be, until you've been here around as long as Mary has,” Christina chuckled lightly. “She just hit the seven-year mark here at HTG six weeks before you started. In fact, most of us believe Mary will be promoted soon. She's long overdue for it, and she's starting to feel it may finally be time for her to accept.”

“She's definitely earned it, but I'll sure miss her when it happens,” Donna had to admit.

“We all will,” Christina said. “Well, I'll talk to you after--” she paused a brief second, her lips pursed in thought. “What do you think you'll call it?”

Donna froze as she considered the thought. “I'm not sure yet. Karen did say there would be a surprise today. I chose not to have them tell me what it was.”

Christina grinned. “You're braver than I was,” she said. “I had to ask.”

* * * *

Donna had the security access codes pretty much memorized by now, but she continued to go over them regularly as part of her daily routine. She'd timed herself on how fast she could type them in case of an emergency, and her fastest time wasn't very encouraging; she could do it quickly, but in the event of compromised security where every second was of the essence, Donna wasn't convinced that her speed would be sufficient.

'6-18-1-14-11,' Donna thought to herself. '184-3-13. 83-11-7.' She paused a second, happened to glance toward her front door.

'Oh, God,' she thought as the door opened. 'Talk about internal clocks—'

It wasn't orientation anymore, but the four burly aides definitely weren't coming into her office to install a new ethernet adapter in her computer. They looked and moved every bit as imposingly as always; the only difference today was that one of them was letting a short length of rope dangle around the back of his neck and down the front of his shoulders. This short length of rope seemed no more than twenty inches in length.

'Act natural, girl,' Donna reminded herself-- at least, as naturally as any young woman being grabbed by a group of strong men intent on tying her up tightly, could. She avoided pushing off her desk to move her chair back, avoided putting her own wrists submissively behind her back. The aides had proven more than competent at these little details on their own without spraining Donna's wrists, elbows or shoulders.

The one thing Donna did differently was try to watch how they tied her up. It was impossible to look cleanly behind her, of course, but today they were going to tie her up a little differently than before. She still had some time to go before she was as 'okay' with being bound and gagged at all, as the other women in the department were, so she was hoping really hard that whatever new twist was in store for her today, wouldn't wreck all the feelings of trust, safety, and comfort that her co-workers had so carefully helped her build toward the company.

As the aides began cinching the ropes around the loops that had already been wrapped around her wrists, Donna noted nothing different in how they'd tied her each previous day. The knot was secured in the same manner, placed against the backs of her wrists as usual so she wouldn't be able to reach it. Donna's gag was pulled tight and knotted securely in the same manner. The wooden stool was placed under her backside, lifting her up carefully into a sitting position, and they began to wrap the ropes around her upper body and ankles in the same manner. By the time they finished the knots, Donna's brow had furrowed into several lines of confusion. They'd finished tying her, she was gagged, and they were gently seating her on the floor-- exactly as they'd done each day since her first day on the job, except that she was placed facing toward her desk instead of the door to her office. This was the 'surprise?' That she was being seated with her back to her door instead of facing it? What was so diff--

Donna saw that she'd thought to herself too soon, as they seated her on the floor. Soon as her backside was settled on the rug, they gently began pushing her body down to where she was lying on her back. Light as her weight was, it pressed down on her shoulders, arms and wrists, making them start to ache a little.

But it only lasted for a couple of seconds before the aides rolled her on to her stomach. She felt her feet taken hold of and carefully pulled up and back toward her spine.

Donna figured out immediately what was going to be different today. Even before she felt an extra piece of rope being tied to her ankle bondage, she knew. 'Hogtied,' she thought to herself. 'Oh, God, I'm being hogtied!'

That explained the extra piece of short rope. One end was tied to the cinches in her ankle bondage and the knot carefully secured out of her reach. She felt her feet pulled up and back closer toward her spine as the other end of the short rope was pulled on. The aides did this carefully and slowly, as not to bend Donna's spine too quickly or sharply. Once the loose end of the short rope had reached her wrist bondage, it was looped around the cinches a few times and the knot carefully placed against the backs of her wrists. Even though she was unable to reach either knot in the short rope, her ankles had been pulled close enough to her wrists that they were probably no more than twelve to fourteen inches apart.. Although her privates were flush against the floor, and she could feel that her skirt had not ridden up her thighs, she could feel that her knees were well off the ground and her feet kicked up above her. The aides slid a cushion under Donna's chin before getting back to their own feet. They unplugged her phone cord and stowed it in her desk drawer, as usual, and then gathered up the stool and exited her office, closing the door behind them.

None of the HTG girls ever having struggled free before they were untied by the aides; suddenly that felt quite a bit more plausible.

Donna found lying on her stomach a little more disorienting than sitting on the floor with her legs out in front of her. Looking up at the door in front of her put some increased pressure on her neck; it was more comfortable to let her chin rest on the cushion they'd placed under it, which kept her neck at a gentler angle. The cushion was thin enough not to raise her head and neck uncomfortably high, but provided adequate support for her neck and chin without her needing to put her face to the floor.

Wriggling her wrists as much as she could, Donna found that trying to kick her feet away from her spine too much caused her body to rock back and forth almost like a rocking chair. It wasn't painful, but she could only keep it up for a few minutes at a time before starting to feel a little disoriented. She found her toes alternately kicking back and forth to try and get her ankles loose. Damn it, this was frustrating! Donna hadn't said it in so many words to the other women, but she wanted to be the first to win the 'competition' as much as any of them. A newcomer, here for just under a single month, doing what none of the other women could do in five or more years! Thinking about it almost made Donna drunk with excitement. No way was she going to let being hogtied make things harder for her!

She wriggled and twisted her bound wrists as far as the ropes would let them, pulled as hard as she could--

Wait. Something was wrong.

Donna paused for a minute; she closed her eyes and took in a deep breath. She kept her eyes tightly shut, in an effort to concentrate on her sense of touch. She twisted her wrists behind her body again.

Something was wrong. There was a bunching in one of the coils of rope. It wasn't her jacket sleeves, and it wasn't her blouse. She could feel it between and around her wrists. Donna took a deep breath and twisted her wrists again; pulled in a different direction.

“MMMMmmmMMRRRRRmmrrrrrrMMMMM!” Donna had a sudden moment of near-panic and quickly found herself using her fingers to grab the rapidly unraveling coil before her wrists snapped completely free. Her mind raced desperately as she gripped the coil with all her strength.

Donna didn't need long to figure it out. She hadn't struggled free-- she hadn't been close. The aides had left the slack in the ropes, on purpose. They wanted her to get free? Why only today, after three weeks? Was that the real surprise? Donna didn't believe it for a minute.

'They tie me tight and gag me tighter,' Mary had said on the day Christina had introduced her to Donna. 'I struggle with everything I've got. Haven't beaten them yet.'

Donna had believed her then, and she still believed it now. Yes, Mary was asthmatic, but Donna believed that she was quite able to put up a very spirited struggle unless she was feeling unwell-- and Mary had said that was rare. Donna believed that too.

Donna happened to glance up toward the door briefly and remembered. She was being monitored to ensure she was okay. The bond she'd formed with her co-workers got the better of her; she couldn't let go of the coil and let her wrists slip out of the ropes. She let her body rock back and forth to whatever degree she was able; kicked her toes back and forth to carry on the illusion of trying to kick her feet out of the hogtie. She shook her head side to side as much as she could.

“MMMMMMM mmmm mmmm MMMMMMmmmm MMMMMM!”

'One day I'm going to work my gag out of my mouth,' Donna told herself with every ounce of conviction she had. Today just wasn't going to be that day. She couldn't bring herself to use her hands, unless she wriggled them free by herself.

Presently 4:30 arrived, the door opened and the aides came in. Two of them squatted down over her and paused for several seconds. Finally Donna felt her fingers taken hold of and gently pried open. The loose coil promptly created enough slack for Donna to slip her left wrist free. The aides didn't stop her. Once she'd gotten her left wrist out, they undid the twist in the cinching and slipped her right wrist out of the remaining coils. One aide lightly pressed her knees against the floor and lifted her feet perpendicular to it by the heels of her shoes, while a second very carefully slipped the nail file into the knot for her ankle bondage and unraveled it, freeing her ankles.

'No way that was an accident,' Donna told herself. 'If they can undo those ropes every day, that precisely, without a single snag in my stockings, they're not going to leave that slack out of carelessness.'

They helped Donna to her feet and untied the ropes around her upper body. The scissors were placed in her hand; one of the aides holding up five fingers in the standard signal for her to let them leave the room and then count to five before she pulled her gag off. Donna nodded in compliance and they gathered up the ropes, putting them into the plastic bag they always brought, and plugged her phone cord back in before leaving the office. They hadn't brought the wooden stool in this time, as they would be untying her from now on in a way that no longer made use of it.

Donna dropped the cut strip of cloth into the trash bag and put the scissors on her desk in the usual spot. 'I'll talk to you after-- what do you think you'll call it?' Christina had said to her at the start of the day. More answers would be forthcoming, Donna knew. Collecting her thoughts, Donna sat down and finished the remaining paperwork for the day. She realized she was not upset or hurt this time; just pretty confused. That slack coil had been left in her bondage on purpose when she was tied up. Now she was going to be told why.

Christina came in with the usual small personal-size bottle of lotion and packet of Epsom salt. Donna accepted them with a nod of thanks and both women started rubbing the lotion into their wrists.

“So, how disturbing was it, being hogtied for the first time?” Christina's tone and face showed she was asking this question fairly seriously; ready to console and comfort Donna if she was badly upset.

“Certainly didn't expect anything like it,” Donna admitted. “A little disorienting laying on my stomach.”

Christina's hand popped up right on queue and Donna had to giggle along with her, however briefly.

Donna's speakerphone chirped to life suddenly. “Afternoon, ladies,” came the voice of Mr. Stone in a friendly, warm tone.

Donna's eyebrows quirked at hearing Mr. Stone; she had thought Christina would be giving her a one-on-one 'big sister' counseling. 'And he must know what happened,' Donna thought to herself.

“Afternoon, Mr. Stone,” Donna managed to get out in a polite tone. Christina copied... but she used a tone of voice that made it sound like a question.

“Negative,” Mr. Stone said, very cryptically. Donna didn't know what he meant, but she did know he was talking to Christina, who smiled proudly.

Christina started to move toward Donna to hug her again, but this time Donna gently pulled away.

“Please, this time, just tell me what happened? Please?”

Christina nodded unhesitatingly. “Of course,” she said. “This wasn't a test of your loyalty to the company, if that's what you're wondering, Donna. And yes, we all knew about it; we all went through it on the first day of our fourth week.”

“What's special about this day, other than being the first day post-'orientation' and the first day of being hogtied instead of just tying my wrists and ankles?” Donna asked.

“To us? Nothing,” Mr. Stone said suddenly. “Other than that which you just pointed out. Like Christina said, we weren't giving you a loyalty test... at least, I wasn't. In fact, the whole idea isn't a managerial brainchild.”

“The idea came from Joyce Miller,” Christina said. “One of the founders of the 'sisterly support group' that Carla, and myself, and all the rest of the women in New Bonds have been providing for you. Joyce put the support group together in the mid 1980's... before you or I were born. Joyce was Barbara's 'big sister,' in fact. The one who worked extra hard at making Barbara's transition into life at HTG comfortable, like Carla did for me, and I've been trying to do for you.”

Donna felt her lips stretch little by little into a frown. “You were... testing my loyalty to you?”

“Not to me personally,” Christina said quickly. “To all of we women in HTG; to the sisterhood... yes.”

“But... why?”

Christina glanced down at the floor for a few seconds. Her facial muscles contracted into what Donna swore was the first expression of real anger that Christina had showed so openly since Donna met her.

“Annie Wooten,” Christina said. “She was a relatively new hire around the same time as Barbara. “One of the secretaries in New Bonds, I forget her last name, but her first name was Tracy, I think? Anyway, she was the one who started the betting pool competition. Annie had a rivalry going with Tracy, but after a couple of weeks, Joyce and Barbara noted the rivalry wasn't quite so friendly anymore.”

Donna listened with real interest. Yet another twist of 'weird' into 'life at HTG,' as she called it. Was there was as much drama here, behind the scenes, as in 'Real Housewives?'

“About a month or so after those signs emerged, Annie won the competition,” Christina said. “She struggled free and danced around her office in celebration for about ten minutes afterward.”

Donna's eyes widened. “Someone did win? And she's a pariah here becau—”

“NO,” Christina said quickly and emphatically. “All the girls working here at the time congratulated her, it gave them all real conviction in winning next time. There was one thing, though, that Annie overlooked.”

Donna looked at Christina for a few seconds; realization started to dawn on her. “Joyce had suggested to Annie's manager that the aides leave a slack in her ropes.”

“Right. Joyce overheard Annie using a lobby pay phone to tell her boyfriend that there was an $800 total pot in a little bet she and her other co-workers had going, and she'd offered up $200 to ensure she won it.”

Donna's jaw dropped. “She tried to bribe the—”

Christina nodded again. “Joyce realized that Annie had gotten careless enough as to offer up the bribe to the aides as they were binding her... not remembering her manager could hear. So Joyce suggested to Annie's manager that he instruct the aides to 'take the bribe.' All the women were excited to hear that Annie had won the competition. Until Joyce showed that Annie had fixed it in her favor and was trying to keep it under wraps. All the women knew that if Annie was fired, she'd sue the company for sexual harassment. That was her ace in the hole. The managers couldn't touch her. But she lost all respect from her co-workers, the women who'd worked so hard to support each other and to make each other-- and themselves-- comfortable with working here. Not for rebelling against being tied up in the first place, because she adjusted to that pretty quickly. But she tried to cheat Tracy and the other women working here at the time. They never forgave her for that. Without the support group, Annie left HTG four months later.”

“And the other managers have been helping all of you ladies, without whom this company could never run smoothly, keep your sense of community as strong as possible, in honor of Joyce,” Mr. Stone said. “Since Annie, we've had about half a dozen other ladies who were ready to betray their co-workers, and grab a 'quick and easy' shortcut to get ahead. There's nothing we, as managers, can do about it ourselves, especially since we aren't really even the ones giving you a 'loyalty test.' But it shows the rest of you who is really with you and wants to make working here, really work.”

Donna thought about it a few seconds and finally gave a smug look. “I take it this means I'm really one of you now,” she smirked.

“Damn right you are!” Christina spouted. She pulled on Donna's hands. “Come on, get up and let me congratulate you already!”

Both women laughed as Donna stood and finally accepted the hug. “Don't tell me we're celebrating again already?”

Christina grinned. “Friday night was nothing,” she winked. “This evening the whole department's coming along. There's about ten others you haven't met yet.”

“I'll say good night to you both then, so you can start getting ready,” Mr. Stone said. “Enjoy yourself tonight, Donna, you've earned it.”

“Oh! Mr. Stone...” Donna had something else on her mind.

“What can I do for you, Donna?”

Donna let out a short breath and hesitated. This kind of talk generally didn't cross the gender lines, but Mr. Stone was the only one that Donna could really ask, and who could get it done.

“Take your time, Donna,” Mr. Stone sounded like he was smiling as he said it.

Donna huffed slightly. “I know. It feels awkward. I just need... Darn! I can figure it out!”

Mr. Stone chuckled lightly. “I'm not going anywhere. Unlike the rest of you, I don't leave at 5:00 sharp.”

“I was a little uncomfortable with one thing,” Donna said. “Before I felt the slack unravel, it was...”

Donna felt a tinge of warm blood creep into her cheeks. She closed her eyes and counted to three, pushing as hard as she could to spit it out.

“I was trying really hard to keep my knees together. For... modesty purposes.”

Donna felt her teeth grit. She almost wanted to crawl into a hole.

“Not a problem at all, Donna,” Mr. Stone said agreeably.

Donna's eyes snapped open in surprise.

“Fixed, tomorrow,” Mr. Stone promised.

Donna felt herself starting to smile. 'THAT was... easy?' she couldn't help but say to herself.

“Th-thank you, Mr. Stone,” she finally said, her voice sparkling with gratitude.

“Good night, ladies,” he repeated, again his voice sounded like he was smiling.

Donna smiled a little broader as Mr. Stone clicked off. A slight noise from her right turned her attention back to Christina.

The brunette stood with her left hand pressed down on Donna's desk, her right hand pressed over her mouth as tightly as she could cover it. Her eyes were squeezed shut; the 'laugh lines' around her eyes looking a quarter of a centimeter deep. Her shoulders shook up and down lightly. Finally a snorting laugh forced its way past her self control and filled the air with a trill of amusement.

Donna blushed again. “Let me guess... how many of you didn't need to ask for that same favor.”

Christina finally lost control and burst into an unrestrained peal of mirth. Her right hand came off her mouth and slapped the surface of Donna's desk several times.

“Not hard to count to zero, girl friend,” she sputtered, barely controlling her giggles.

Donna sat down again and put one hand over her eyes, chuckling quietly to herself. “I think now I really get your point, how the weird just keeps coming.”

Christina patted Donna's shoulder comfortingly. “They'll handle it. They'll bring an extra length of rope. Two or three coils just above your knees to keep them together. No upskirt peeks.”

Donna had to giggle again, but inwardly she was heaving a sigh of great relief. She logged out of her workstation and turned to her purse. “Okay, I guess Jackson's is calling us.”

“Let me log out and I'll be right with you,” Christina smiled.

End of part 4

Copyright© 2014 by Delilah Winston. All rights reserved. I welcome your comments. Email me at