The Greenwich Tales
by Freddie Clegg and Phil Lane

The Ownerís Tale

Part 1 : Daphne Gets Ready

This is me, Daphne. Iím going to run in the next London Marathon. Run in it and finish it. I tell everyone that. Iím beginning to believe it.

I was pretty pleased with what Larry had set up. Steve Glennis had been right, Cleggís operation seemed to know how to handle things. The Izotova woman looked as if she could do the job. She was due to come to the house on Monday. I cleared my business diary for the day and told Branca she was to stay out of the way while Katya was around. That wasnít so hard, sheíd earned some time in ropes. Sheís a bit of a bondage slut anyway. Her original trainer -- Connie, I guess -- must have used it quite a bit in her training.

Iíd got Branca settled down in the bottom of my closet just before Katya arrived; sleeve arm binder, straps for her thighs and ankles, the lether hood and a rubber plug gag. She whimpered a bit when I locked her in but I really didnít want to be disturbed. Katya and I sat in the lounge. I got her some coffee. She ignored the biscuits and looked pretty disapproving when I had a couple but she didnít say anything at first.

I took her around the house and explained about Brancaís room. A friend of mine, I said. I thought Katya raised an eyebrow but then I guessed she wouldnít be very interested in my personal life. Branca knew enough to keep quiet in the closet while we were in the bedroom. I know the conditioning means that they wonít ever try to do anything to escape but itís really hard to remember that sometimes. I showed Katya the room, down in the basement that I thought we could use for the gym. Itís actually next to a cell I can use for Branca, but I had carefully locked the door to that room! She looked at the kit Iíd bought. She didnít look very impressed.

We went back to the lounge.

"This is going to be difficult," Katya said with a thoughtful look. "We have a lot to do. Your height is -- what? -- one metre 70?"

"Whatís that in feet and inches, five feet six?" I said. I never could get this metric stuff you Europeans use. I can do weight though 20 kilos airline baggage -- 44 pounds.


"178 pounds say, 80 kilos."

Katya looked sceptical. "Are you sure?" she said. "You have scales in the bathroom we could check."

I felt a bit sheepish. "OK well maybe itís a bit more. Last week it was maybe 182 pounds."

"Hmm," Katya grunted. She pulled a clip board from her grip and turned over a few sheets, looking at a series of tables. "BMI 28.5 Let me check that." She pulled a pair of callipers from her bag and asked me to let her measure a fold of flesh on my belly. She looked at the reading and checked her tables again. "Uhhuh -- borderline obese."

"Hey," I said, trying to defend myself, "Iíve got big bones."

Katya looked at me, scornfully. "Youíve got a big mouth and you spend too much time with it full of food. Thatís not the real problem though. Sure you have too much weight but itís not just food." She was looking at my bare arms. "Thereís no muscle tone. You donít take care of your body. Cigarettes?"

"Err, maybe ten a day," I said.

Katya obviously didnít believe me. "Your aerobic capacity is poor, I am sure. There is a lot to do diet, aerobic work, weights, and grooming."

"Katya, Iím paying you to make me fit, not to make me beautiful."

Katya looked back at me as if such a task would be impossible. I must have looked crushed because then Katya looked more sympathetic. "Itís not about beauty. Itís about you liking yourself. You canít be fit if you donít like what you are."

"I like me fine," I said, folding my arms.

Katya looked squarely back at me. "So why do you do to yourself what you do?" she asked. "If you keep on doing what you do, you keep on getting what you get. We do something new. We do new things, you will like yourself better. Diet, aerobics, weights, grooming. Four things. Not difficult. Now letís look at food. Whereís the kitchen?"†††

I showed Katya the kitchen, explained that Branca does most of the cooking -- she lives rent free, I said in exchange for keeping the place clean and looking after things around the flat. I could see that Katya was making her own decisions about my relationship with Branca.

Katya was soon rummaging in the pantry and cupboards in the kitchen, in the fridge and the freezer. She was shaking her head. "Too much wrong food. Much has to go. I need a bag," she said. "Much has to go."

She started to pile food up on the breakfast bar. "Hey," I said, "is this really necessary?"

Katya looked back at me with determination. "Daphne," she said, "the kitchen is the hardest gym of all. Here it is too easy to go wrong. Too easy to slip back. Too much junk here." She picked out a pack of burgers from the freezer and tossed it onto the pile. "You cannot run on junk. Cannot train with rubbish in your body."

I found her a plastic bin liner. She carried on scooping things out of the cupboard and into the bag. I hadnít thought I had that much food in the house anyway. At the end there didnít seem to be much left apart from a few vegetables -- Iíve never had much to do with them, I guess -- and some pasta.

Katya was standing hands on hips contemplating the pile of food she intended to discard. "Ha!" she said. "Is better without all these." I was just pleased she didnít seem to have found the chocolate. Next up was the wine cupboard. "You donít need this Daphne," Katya said, peering at the array of bottles inside. "Water, fruit juice, vegetable juice, green tea, thatís what athletes drink. Iíll take these for Larry -- he deserves something for introducing us and if he has them you canít nag me for them and I wonít be tempted to hand them over."

It was odd watching her pack up the wine bottles into a couple of boxes. If youíd said to me a few days ago IĎd be content to watch as someone took my Burgundies, my Barolo, my Californian chardonnays, Iíd have said you were mad. Somehow with Katya it just seemed sensible. In fact, I was beginning to feel that the relationship an athlete has with their trainer must be a bit like Brancaís relationship with me.


Reluctantly I handed over a pack of two hundred Camels that Iíd been working my way through. Living without those was going to be difficult.

"Now, weíre going to start a diet. You say Branca does the cooking? I need to talk to her. Can she be here tomorrow?"

I was a bit worried about Katya meeting Branca and I guess it showed. Katya jumped to the wrong conclusion however.

"Daphne, Iím not worried how you run your love life if it doesnít interfere with your training but we have to get your diet under control. Look, here is a diet sheet," she passed me a printed sheet with a list of meals and foods. "Get Branca to look at this. You have to get Branca to help. This is going to be difficult Daphne. Maybe more difficult than anything you have done. You need all the help you can get. If Branca can, she should help."

I nodded. I said that Branca was quite good at doing as she was told. If I told her to use the diet sheet, she would. Katya gave me a look that said she was drawing more conclusions about our relationship.

"Now we start with something very easy. Weíll go for a walk."

"A walk?" I questioned.

"Yes. A walk. Itís not so difficult and you have to start easily. You have to get fit to be able to get fit. You arenít in any shape to do anything strenuous so we start with a simple walk."

"OK," I said getting to my feet and turning towards the door. I looked back to see Katya had her head in her hands.

"Daphne, not like that. Go put on something loose, something comfortable. And some flat heeled shoes -- you canít walk far in those."

I went and looked in the closet and checked on Branca at the same time. She looked up at me from the floor of the closet where she sat helplessly bound. Her eyes were blinded by her hood but she didnít appear to be in distress. I checked her gag she was breathing easily enough. I left her. I couldnít find much that qualified as comfortable but I found an old pair of jeans, a sweater and a pair of flat shoes. When I went back to the lounge I could see that Katya didnít approve.

"Youíll need something better than that," she said, "but we can fix that soon. That will be OK for now, I guess. Come on."

She led the way out of the building and set a slow but steady pace as we walked out along the street and down to the riverside. After five minutes I was breathing heavily, after ten, I was running with sweat, after fifteen I was coughing and glad when we turned the corner back to the front of the building again. I let us in and collapsed, sweating, on the couch. I was wondering if the marathon was a realistic objective at all.

Katya was showing no more signs of effort than if she had just walked across the room and although we hadnít walked far or quickly, we had walked steadily and without stopping. I was exhausted. "Donít worry," Katya said, "itís going to feel hard at first but it gets easier." I went to wipe the sweat from my forehead, pushing matted hair back from my face. Katya was shaking her head. She started to rummage in her bag. "I thought weíd need these," she said. She pulled out a pair of scissors, a comb and a set of hairdresserís clippers. "Sit there, Iím going to clip your hair back to a manageable length. If you try to work out with your hair like that it will be plastered to your scalp and face with sweat and thatís no good for your skin. When youíre a bit fitter we might let it grow back again."

I looked in disbelief as she plugged in the clippers. "But..." I began.

"No buts. If things are wrong we change them. Thatís how we make a difference," said Katya and without waiting to hear anymore she spread some papers on the floor and started. The scissors took off great chunks of hair and then the clippers whirred as she pushed them through what was left. The sensation of cool air on my scalp was odd, to say the least and when Katya had finished I ran my hands through the short hairs feeling them spiky beneath my fingers. "Tomorrow we find some better clothes for you to exercise in," she said. "Tonight, make sure Branca gives you something from the diet sheet. There was pasta -- have that with tomato sauce. Make sure she measures quantities. Best to start right away. There is much to do. Back tomorrow, ten oíclock. Weíll work more then."†

I watched as she packed up her bag. "Bye, Daphne," she said. "Donít worry, you can do it."

I felt really odd once sheíd gone. I spent ages staring in the mirror looking at the short bristle of hair that Katya had left me with. When I went to get Branca from where she was in the cupboard, the look on her face was one of shocked disbelief.

I told her what would be happening. Told her that she needed to follow the diet sheet. Told her that she needed to meet with Katya. I told her that it was all so she could do her best for Connie. That would make sure she behaved as she should.

Part 2 : Diet Plan

Katya came back this morning. Branca behaved herself, which was just as well. I had her wear some jeans and a roll neck top to cover up her collar and the chastity belt. I guess Katya thought she was my live-in lover, which was OK. I didnít want to have to explain Brancaís collar and belt, though. I just wanted to keep things simple.

Katya went through the diet sheet with Branca and gave her a shopping list. The delivery company must have had a surprise with the change from beef and pork to chicken, whole grain foods and pulses. At least Branca is an OK cook, so I knew sheíd make it as interesting as she could.

Mind you it was all a bit of a shock when Katya started to talk me through it.

"Right Daphne, hereís how this works. This is no crash diet, they donít work or if they do they leave you weak and thatís no good to me because you need to be strong to exercise. So, we lose weight slowly; maybe one to two pounds a week. That way is practical. If you try to starve yourself thin, the body guesses that itís being starved and cuts down the resting metabolic rate. So you burn food slower and lose less weight." I nodded. I could see that made sense. "You have too much fat in your diet, we have to reduce that, so we use lean protein, carbohydrates, high fibre slow digesting foods like porridge, whole grain cereals, whole meal bread and pasta, brown rice, beans and lentils, fresh fruit, vegetables. You eat little and often. That way you donít feel hungry and you have the energy to work out. We keep your metabolic rate high and you burn much more of what you have eaten with less left over to go into the fat stores."

"Hey," I said, "do I get time to do anything else but worry about food?"

Katya gave me a look. A raised eyebrow suggested to me that Iíd better start taking this seriously. Katya went on. "So, little and often, that way thereís no craving between meals. No temptations to eat biscuits, crisps, chocolate ťclairs," Katya gave me another look that said she knew just what Iíd be off stuffing given half a chance. "In other words no going for the sugar/fat combo. Thatís what really destroys diets. Then no big meals after 6 or 7pm unless I OK it personally. The occasional evening do isn't the problem but I donít want you out having big meals every night. Change your business dinners - get the work done during the day." I felt like I was being pummelled. "And finally you need much more water. What colour is your pee?"

"What?" I was shocked. It wasnít a question I was used to being asked. Or even something I was used to thinking about.

"Your pee. When you go to the toilet. What colour is it?"

"I donít know. I donít really look. Sort of yellowy brown, I guess. Why?"

"You canít be fit unless your kidneys are flushing the body out properly and they canít do that without enough water. Your pee should be almost colourless. Maybe a very pale straw colour. Iíll want to check. Take a glass next time you go and bring me a sample. Youíll need to take a couple of glasses of water as soon as you wake up and then a couple before a meal. You need about five litres a day and," she said guessing what I was about to claim, "wine doesnít count!"

I guess I looked disappointed and embarrassed and I was. Katya ignored my concern and pressed on. "Then we change the lifestyle things. Itís not your food that make you fat, itís your life that makes you fat. To change your weight you have to change your life. We need organised mealtimes, cut out eating to cure boredom -- well, youíll have plenty to do so thereís not much risk of that -- no more eating at the TV and weíll take time eating too. You eat too fast."

"And you talk too fast," I cut in. I felt overwhelmed by the detail and all the doís and doníts.

Katya stopped for a moment and then grinned. "Sorry," she said. "ItĎs just that I know this works and I know you can do it. Youíve already made the commitment to yourself we just have to set the goals, establish priorities so you can do it and get on with it. Itís not as hard as it sounds and itís actually quite addictive once you get started."

I took a glass to the toilet and brought a sample back for Katya. It was probably the most humiliating thing I have ever done and I stood watching as she peered at the amber liquid disapprovingly. She sighed and gave it back to me. "Lots of water, lots of water," was all she said.

We left Branca to finish off in the house and Katya took me to buy some training clothes. It was funny, Iím used to turning up at restaurants or shops and having the staff recognise me. This way it was the other way around. Katya was obviously known to the people in the first shop we went to, the guy that came to serve us said he was sorry about what happened to her boyfriend and how he was glad that her clients were standing by her -- he nodded at me.

Katya said thanks and asked him to get a selection of track suits, exercise tops and shorts. I tried some on, surprised at how comfortable it felt and how it made me feel -- well -- serious about it all. We picked out some underwear that Katya said would work better when we were exercising and a pair of trainers that cost more than the last pair of evening shoes I bought. Katya had me try them on and then walk up and down so she could see they would be all right when I was working out. She then had me go outside the shop to try and run in the shoes. I had to go through this with several different kinds before she was satisfied. I felt a bit odd parading for her. I guess Branca must have felt the same when I first insisted on seeing her in corset and heels.

I kept the training gear on. Katya bundled up my other clothes and asked the shop to send them on with the rest of the things. Then Katya took me over to the gym, showed me the equipment and introduced me to some of the folk there. It was odd, everyone was really friendly. Nobody said they thought that what I was trying to do was ridiculous. Nobody even seemed that bothered that I looked pretty unfit and overweight. They just seemed happy to let Katya and me get on with things as we wanted to.

Part 3 : Breaking Training

I was sitting in the bedroom, getting my breath back after another brisk walk -- longer this time and quicker. I pulled out a chocolate bar from the box I had hidden under the bed and Iíd just managed to gulp down a bite when I heard Katya coming in.

"Daphne, thereís some green tea in the kitchen and... Hey? Whatís going on?" she said.

"Going on?"

"Daphne, donít try to fool with me. You werenít performing well today and youíve got chocolate around your mouth. I donít think thatís on todayís diet sheet is it?"

I looked embarrassed and tried to bluster about needing an energy boost or something.

"Not good enough, Daphne," Katya chided and before I could stop her she bent down and pulled the box from beneath the bed. The only problem was that it didnít just have chocolate in it. "Disappointing," said Katya as she pulled the bag of chocolate bars from the box. As she did so a couple of packs of cigarettes fell out too. The fact they were Camel Nummber 9ís didnít cut any ice with Katya. She was about to tear me off a strip when the pair of handcuffs fell out as well. Giving me a quizzical look she rummaged in the box some more, finding a vibrator, a leather hood, some wrist and ankle straps and a ball gag. "I see," Katya started, "this explains some things. You are tired to death. I can tell; you have bags under your eyes. You arenít making the progress you should."

"What do you expect with all this exercise and no food?"

"Thatís not the problem. You donít have balance in your life yet. You need a better balance. You have to do your work. You have to do your training. You have to stay off cigarettes and alcohol and you need at least ten hours sleep every night. And sleep is not reading in bed or watching TV or playing with Branca. I guess she wears these?"

I nodded. Things were getting complicated.

"Well, if Branca is used to doing as she is told, she can help me to help you. All right?"

I wasnít sure I liked the direction things were going but, embarrassed at being caught with the chocolate and cigarettes and at Katyaís other discoveries, I nodded. Katya called Branca in. She looked worried when she saw the toys from under my bed, concerned that perhaps she was about to be admonished for some mistake in tidying up. Katya reassured her. "Branca, donít worry. I donít mind what you and Daphne get up to. My boyfriend and I used to do some kinky stuff too. These things can help us to help Daphne though. What I want you to do is to put this hood on Daphne at ten oíclock each night and put her to bed. To make sure she stays there you strap her wrists and ankles to the bed frame. I am guessing you know how to do that." I was a bit concerned by the enthusiastic way in which Branca nodded. I tried protesting but Katya and Branca ignored me. "If she needs to get up in the night for the toilet you can take her.† But the hood stays on with the eye pieces closed. And it stays on until I call in the morning to pick her up for training. All right?" Branca nodded. Katya turned towards me. "And," she added, "if you canít stay off the chocolates and cigarettes weíll start using the ball-gag too."

I felt really uncomfortable with this for two reasons. Firstly Iím a top. Iíve always been a top. Even before I owned slaves I was a top. When I played cowboys and Indians as a kid, somehow it was the cowboys that ended up tied to the tree not the little Indian squaw that was me. Secondly I wasnít sure how Brancaís conditioning would cope with something like that. But I didnít want to have either of those conversations with Katya, so I said, "All right," when she asked if I was prepared to go along with her ideas.

I managed to call Larry to check on the conditioning after Katya left. I missed out the detail about the discipline hood but once heíd stopped laughing he said he thought it would all be OK provided I reminded Branca that this was all part of her doing her best for Connie.

So when, at ten oíclock, Branca arrived in the lounge holding the straps and the hood and I knew I had to get to bed. "It is time, Mistress," she said. "I expect you want me to get you ready now."

I tried to put as firm a face on it as I could, feeling that I wanted Branca to know she was being ordered to do this by me, but I still had my reservations. "Yes. Yes, you are quite right," I said. "You know you need to do this if you are to do your best for Connie."

Branca looked a little blank for a moment as she always did when I used those words but then she went on, "I should fit the hood now, Mistress," Branca said. I looked puzzled. "Miss Katya said there would be less distraction if I put your hood on straight away and then helped you to the bedroom and undressed you. So you get to prepare for sleep from now."

My biggest concern was that Branca went on doing as she was told, so I didnít like to contradict Katya. "Very well, Branca, you had better do just that," I said. I let her fit the hood. It was a peculiar sensation because, although I had worn hoods and masks before my hair had always been quite long previously and now I could feel the tightness of the leather across my entire scalp as Branca pulled the straps and laces tight.

"This way please, Mistress," Branca said, taking me by the hand and leading me through to the bedroom. I stood passively while she took my clothes from me, a very curious sensation at once submissive, because of the hood, and dominant, because of the way in which Branca was serving me. Once I was naked, Branca helped me into bed and fastened first my wrists and then my ankles, spread out to the corners of the bed frame. There was plenty of slack in the chains but there was little doubt that I would be unable to leave the bed. I felt the soft cotton of my duvet as Branca pulled it over me. "Good night, Mistress," she said. "There is a bell by your right hand if you need me. Now you must sleep."

A moment later I heard the click of a light switch and the clunk of my bedroom door closing. I was alone.

In the dark, without sensation other than the duvet against my body, the tightness of the hood and the pull of the straps at my wrist and ankles, it took what seemed like forever until I fell asleep. But then that was it. The next thing I was aware of was the sound of Branca and Katya talking. "So she was no trouble," I heard Katya say.

"No, not at all." It was Brancaís voice this time. "I came back at about quarter past ten and she was asleep already by then."

"Thatís good. Well it is time for her to exercise now. Youíd best get her up and get her into her track suit and trainers."

I felt my ankle straps being unfastened. "Come along, Mistress," said Brancaís voice. "It is time to get up."

Once she had freed my wrists, I peeled the sweat soaked hood off. The skin on my face and scalp felt sensitive as though the light of the day was pressing onto it. I watched as Branca busied herself, tidying away the restraints. There was no sense that she had thought anything of the proceedings other than that she was doing as she had been asked. Doing her best for Connie.

Katya said weíd start the day with a walk. She had Branca fix me a green tea while I dressed. I sat sipping it while Katya explained what weíd be doing.

"So, Daphne, today we start in earnest. I know you have your business to do and bills to pay but our work has to follow a regular regime. If you establish a pattern then it is easier to keep things up. So here is what we do. Morning we start with walk then build up to runs. This will increase your metabolism so you will burn food more lose weight and grow strength in your legs. Then you have breakfast and work. Noon we do weights work and upper body strength. Branca will do lunch for you here -- no more restaurant food for the time being. More time to work after lunch. Five oíclock gym for more aerobic work. Then back here for dinner and bed."

"Hey when do I get to have some fun?"

"The training is fun. You will enjoy that. When we see how you progress then we may change things. OK?"

"Yes, sure," I responded. I liked Katyaís no-nonsense approach, her breezy, confident manner. It was just the sort of style I liked in the people I worked with. Letís get on with things, it said, get things done! My only reservation was that maybe she was taking charge a bit too much. I needed to make sure Branca remembered who was her Mistress and I needed to make sure Katya knew who was the employee and who was the boss. But there would be time for that later.

Part 4 : Progress

That was how it started. I think Katya and I got on really well. It was almost like the first -- well -- friend that Iíd had. Of course sheís a bit bossy and while the business with the night time hood and straps seemed like a bit of a joke at first, it has become a part of the regime. Branca got all too amused by it in the early stages and Iíve had to give her a few thrashings just to remind her of whatís what but now weíve got things running (if youíll excuse the expression) nicely.

So after the first day my diet was carefully controlled, the booze was completely replaced by water and green tea, and the exercise programme was the only thing I had time to think about in between work and keeping Branca in order.

Katya introduced a proper plan of weight training.†† It helps to be Ďcross trainingí, she says. If we just run I only get to work my legs and lungs the weights mean I work my body.† It gives us a change in the routine and I find it quite "intoxicating" once we really get into it. I mean we arenít talking a good claret here but itís got its own high. Katya said the work with the weights helps build up strength and stability in the core muscles of the stomach and back and chest. Katya said that helps my Ďrunning economyí plus shoulders, neck and arms are all in motion when running and get tired if they are out of condition.

The more we did of the weight training the more weight I lost. If anything that seemed to get the fat off quicker than the running. Katya said it was because I was upping my metabolic rate, burning calories faster than Iím taking them in.

The other thing that happened was that Branca became a whole lot friendlier. It used to be a real fight to get her to go down on me, a real battle of wills even though she was well schooled in that as part of her prep. Then it was different. She seemed much more affectionate and much keener to play with my body. I didnít blame her; even to me it looked better. It was nice.

Katya wanted me to get more active generally so, in addition to the training, I was supposed to take the stairs instead of the lift, get off the tube one stop early and walk the rest of the way. Walk up a floor or two to speak to a colleague rather than sending an e-mail. That made things a bit strange at work they thought Iíd turned into some kind of health freak but I didnít care, it was better than some of the other kinds of freak they used to think I was.†I even had one of the guys at work complement me on how my exercise routine was obviously having a beneficial effect and would I like a drink sometime?† I turned him down, mind. That was a complication I could do without.

Katya got really bossy in the gym where weights are concerned. "First we worry about getting muscles in shape," she said. "Worry about technique, donít worry about the weight. Your muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints all need to get accustomed to the new work load. We build overall strength, but keep development in balance, better endurance, better cardio-vascular fitness." Ha! The first time we did anything we stopped after half an hour. I could hardly lift my arms past horizontal - and we hadn't really done that much!

But after a while you get into it. Soon I knew all the equipment and how it works your muscles. Katyaís exercises alternate between the major muscle groups, itís all very ordered and structured. I have to try for full range of movement and keep worrying about the technique. If I can't achieve that, the weight is too heavy.

So thatís what we did. Gym three times a week. Work-out time 45 minutes plus the warm up and cool down and stretches. She insisted I rest for 45 - 60 seconds between each set. We went around the circuit of exercises twice. Rest for 2 minutes between each circuit. Keep the tempo; lift to a count of two - lower to a count of three. It got to be like a mantra. I can do it in my sleep. I dream it in my sleep.

Then she started on the road work. Walking slow became walking briskly. That first sweating and wheezing mile walk became easier, then three miles, then six, then eight, then ten. I didnít really notice when we started running. "Hey Daphne," Katya said, "letís just jog for a minute and walk another five to recover." and this was repeated and repeated. The walking bits got shorter, the jogging bits got longer. We got back one day and Katya said, "You know that last run, Daphne? That was 5 kilometres -- three miles." And I really hadnít realised.

Three miles became five; five became eight; eight became ten. Passing each milestone gave me a real high and Katya was really supportive. "Another mile," sheíd say. "Well done!"†††

As I became more used to running, Katya began to modify my running training. We always take one long run each week, but during the week she varied my other running quite a bit. One day we would keep changing pace; then another day we would run off-road in one of the London parks; another day we would do slow/faster/fast intervals. On another day weíd do hills. You probably think London is flat. Well in parts it is and in parts it certainly isnít. Katya seemed to know all the hills personally. They probably sent Christmas cards to each other. Sometimes we would tackle small hills several times. Then we would tackle large steep hills once and then maybe once more.

Gradually, my "form" and my stamina improved out of all recognition and with increasing strength, the long runs became longer. I found they were becoming more enjoyable, too.

I was amazed. My weight fell steadily; my BMI slowly approached what it should have been, and it was all down to Katya. Well and me, a bit, I suppose.

Katya was just as bossy about food; even though I was losing weight steadily, dropping it off at a couple of pounds every week. She had me keep a food diary (well, actually it got to be one of Brancaís tasks). "Eat when you are hungry, not when the clock says so. Eat a little, often rather than a lot with big gaps between," she said. "Donít eat out of boredom, find something else to do instead. Donít bury your emotions in food; deal with problems some other way." She could go on for ever about it. In the end it was easier to control the eating than it was to turn off Katyaís nagging. "Donít wait for meal times. Donít put off eating if you really are hungry but know the difference between hunger and desire." (food isnít the only place I have trouble with that one.)

But when it comes to desire there was a whole other problem. Mainly, I felt really horny. And I mean all the time. Poor Branca was getting the worst of it. She was being called to perform most evenings and given the fact that Katya has got practically every minute of the day divided up between work and exercise, I was having to sneak Branca off for a quickie whenever I could grab a moment. The poor girlís tongue was getting worn out. I canít remember when Iíve wanted sex so much.† But then as Katya had said, "Donít eat out of boredom, find something else to do instead"!

And, as if that wasnít enough of a problem, I began thinking that Katyaís kinkiness was a bit more extensive than she had let on or maybe sheíd just always sublimated that in training and coaching. I mean the thing with the hood and the straps was one thing and her general bossiness is another but now sheís started wanting to take photographs of me. And not just snaps. After each of our weight sessions in the gym she has me stand naked and then takes a series of photographs. One from the front, one from the back and one from either side. I asked her why. She said it was so she could see my progress. Each week she put the latest one up on the door of my fridge, alongside pictures of female bodybuilders, telling me that was what I was aiming for. In the gym room at home she pinned them up one after another along the wall. Goodness knows what Branca thinks about it all.

It all seemed a bit odd, but I didnít think too much about it at the time. I was just caught up in the whole training cycle.

Then I got a fright. I was getting dressed after one of the sessions in the gym. As I went to fasten my skirt I felt something hard under my hand, beneath the skin over my navel. I panicked, rushing off to find Katya. "Quick," I said, "Iíve got a lump. Feel!" I grabbed her hand and pushed it against my belly.

She felt carefully across my stomach. I was really scared. Katya looked very serious. "Hmm," she said gravely, "I think I know what this is."

"What is it? Do I need to see a doctor?"

"Well," said Katya, "itís not a rare condition but it is unusual to see it like this."

"What is it? Katya, Iím scared."

Katya, seeing my anxiety, relented. "Itís muscle, Daphne. What you can feel beneath the fat is muscle. Donít worry, it was there all along. Itís just that now that itís doing some useful work itís firming up. Youíll find that youíve got quite a few of them."

She laughed and I did too.†††

She went on taking photos. With a private client in her private weights room -- she said it was too good an opportunity to miss. As time went on I could see I was making progress, clearly visible in the growing portfolio of photographs on the gym wall. My abs made a modest appearance, peeping out from underneath the blanket of tummy fat which had hidden them for so long. My shoulders and arms have got firmer.

And something else Iíve noticed. As weíve worked on my pectorals, my breasts have become more pert. Needless to say, Iím not the only one thatís noticed. More things to worry about at work!

Part 5 : Getting In & Getting On

The other thing I hadnít realised was how hard it was going to be to actually get on to run in the London Marathon. We had to start that almost as soon as I started training. Katya went through what weíd have to do. Katya could get a place as an elite athlete but that wasnít the problem. It was me.

"But Katya," I said, "Thousands of people run. How hard can it be to get in?"

"Daphne," she said, "last year about 100,000 applied and about 35,000 got a place. Do you fancy those odds? They reckon if you go for the balloted places you might come up lucky once in five years. No, getting into the race needs a plan just like your exercise plan."

"What do you suggest? Seducing the race organisers or the sponsors?"

Katya pulled a face. Somehow I had a vision of her sprawling on a bed, smothering a man with poly-unsaturated spread. I giggled and she gave me one of her puzzled but slightly disapproving looks.

Thereís four ways we can get in," said Katya. "One, you can be an elite athlete." I pulled a face. "Two, you can be a celebrity, someone that the sponsors think will attract attention to the event."

"I donít think thatís me either," I said.

"Three, you can join the ballot. I think weíve already agreed thatís too chancy."

"Four, you can get into one of the charity teams. Charities buy places from the organisers and then get runners to apply for them. The runner raises sponsorship for the charity. I donít suppose youíve got any involvement with any of the official marathon charities have you?"

I must have looked blank. Iíve never been much of a one for giving my money or time away. Iíve always had plenty of use for it myself.

"I thought not. Look how about this. Nicky was involved with New Start 2012. Theyíre promoting sport as a way of helping reduce poverty in the East End, using the London Olympics to give it all some focus."

"Not much poverty in the bits of the east end I see," I said.

"Youíre not looking in the right places," Katya replied bluntly. "Some places look worse to me than back home in Russia."

"All right," I said, "if I have to be Lady Bountiful to get a run, then fair enough. How much do I need to send them?"

"Itís not quite as easy as that. Theyíll want to be convinced youíll be raising good enough sponsorship to make more from your place than if they give it to someone else."

"Well, thereís plenty of folk in my office I can squeeze," I said, "they made enough in bonuses last year to build a new Olympic stadium. Hey, maybe, I can even get Freddie to pitch in."

"Freddie?" Katya looked puzzled. I remembered she had no idea of who had procured Branca or for that matter, her.

"Oh, just a business associate," I said. "Rick works with him."

"Well, thatís whatís needed. Look why donít you draw up a sponsorship plan. A bit like the business plans youíre always telling me these companies you get involved with have. Show how you might get the money. Iíll take it to the charity. They know me as a runner. We should be able to swing it. Howís that?"

I nodded. I certainly didnít have any other ideas and I had plenty of experience in drawing up business plans. That bit was a whole lot easier than the rest of the training.

Well to cut a long story short. It seemed to work.

I canít tell you how thrilling it was when the two envelopes turned up with the logo of the London Marathon on the front and the confirmation inside that weíd each been accepted. Somehow the whole thing seemed suddenly a lot more real. The furthest Iíd run at that point was 10 miles. Now I was going to do more than two and half times that distance.

Katyaís kinkiness continues to intrigue me. I guess Iíve been flirting with her, playing up to her bossiness with the occasional fluttering eyelashes and the faux-submissive, "yes maíam". Well itís fun, I donít think Iíve ever really had the chance to flirt before and weíre spending a lot of time together.

This morningís session, for instance. Katya had me working on the Smith Machine. "Squats," she said, "today we work on your leg muscles. This time try three sets of ten with 25k on the bar."

By repetition six in the third set, I was definitely struggling but I thought my technique was still quite good. Katya insisted that I should be sticking my bum out more as I come down before pushing back up for the power stroke. It was clearly just too tempting for Katya.

"Daphne, letís help you along there." Whaap! She had found one of my riding crops from the toy box. Whaap! It landed squarely on the sweet spot of my left buttock. Out of surprise and trying to put distance between my bum and the crop, I moved the bar swiftly back up in the power stroke of the exercise.

"Oww!" I yelped. "I didnít deserve that."

"Better," said Katya. "Keep working! Keep technique!" She kept up the whacking whenever I looked like flagging. She wasnít hitting me hard but it felt pretty odd all the same. After all Iím usually on the other end of the crop. Somehow we both got the giggles and the session ended up with both of us laughing. "There," Katya said, "all you need is the right sort of discipline."

I became aware that Branca was watching us from the door to the gym and grinning. I was guessing that she was amused by the fact that her mistress was being disciplined. I made a mental note to make sure she was reminded of who was the boss as far as she was concerned later.

Katya called her over. "Branca," she said, "take Daphne now and see she showers."

"Hey," I said, "I can do that myself."

Katya ignored me, carrying on talking to Branca. "Then can you trim her hair, give her a manicure and pedicure and a massage. And then weíll all have something to eat before its Daphneís bed time."

Branca just nodded, and took me by the hand to lead me away. Somehow it seemed the right thing to do just to follow. I was all just part of the routine.