by Harold


       I was bereft. Meg, my wife of 24 years, had died of cancer. At age 45, I found myself a widower. For weeks after the funeral I would come home from work and rattle around inside the big empty house and cry and feel sorry for myself. The kids would call once or twice a week, but they were grown and moved away and had their own lives. Their occasional calls still left a lot of time to fill. Not that I didn't have anything to do. I had always helped around the house, done laundry, cooked meals, vacuumed the floor, whatever needed doing, especially when the kids were growing up. Even so, I was amazed at the number of tasks she had performed which now fell to me. As much as I had loved her, she had been under appreciated.

    About five years prior to her death, Meg and I had bought the house we'd always wanted. It was a large turn?of?the?century stone house in an older part of town. We bought it from a pair of gay guys who had spent a ridiculous amount of money restoring the interior. Since the house wouldn't appraise for as much as they had in it, we got a very good deal. The house was gorgeous. It was paneled in mahogany and quarter sawn?white oak with stained glass everywhere. There was a huge front porch which spanned the entire front of the house and wrapped half way around the south side. The previous owners had restored the interior in impeccable taste, so we didn't have to do much but move in. Unfortunately, they had disregarded some of the more mundane concerns. We had to put a new tile roof on it, pour a new front porch floor, replace the back porch, and repair one of the most incompetent jobs of rewiring I had ever seen. I didn't know who their electrician had been, but I half expected to find his body lying about wherever he had fallen when he had electrocuted himself.

    After a while, I began to get hold of myself. I would need to find someone new. (I didn't really want anyone new.  I wanted Meg.  I wanted my old life back.  But they were gone forever.)  I had discovered I didn't like living alone and I really didn't like sleeping alone.  The prospect was daunting. I hadn't dated in 25 years. Things had changed. So had I. Most of the women my age were married. Of the remaining minority, many were single for good reason. So now what? How would I go about finding someone? Where would I look?

    One of the guys who worked for me tended bar part time. He invited me to drop by some evening and check things out. I thought I'd give it a try just to get my feet wet.

    I wandered in about 8:00 on Friday evening. It was Goth night. Mike had forgotten to warn me about this. One Friday night a month was Goth night and this just happened to be it. I sat at the bar talking to Mike and watching the show. There was a live band, but the customers were more entertaining. While I was amused by the Goths, I wasn't actually laughing at them. They reminded me too much of my own days as a hippie. I talked to a number of them and except for the outfits, they seemed like normal kids. I liked them. They were less ideological than my friends and I had been at that age, but neither (thank heavens) did they have the Viet Nam war to function as a political catalyst. I was somewhat put off by the tattoos and the piercings. I thought a lot of them would come to regret the tattoos as they got older and tattoos went out of style. The piercings were more easily undone, but I found them more irritating. It wasn't the first time people had done idiotic things because it was fashionable, but the pierced tongues, eyebrows, etc. were a bit much for me. It was like when you were a kid and you wanted to do something particularly stupid but your mother wouldn't let you. "But Tommy Jones is doing it." And your mother would ask you, "If Tommy Jones jumped off a cliff would you jump of a cliff too?" These were the people whose answer to that question was 'yes'. Some of them looked like they actually had jumped off a cliff. Their survival was a testament to devolution.

    At least on this occasion, there weren't any women there in my age bracket. It was just as well. The problem with meeting women in bars is that you meet women who hang around in bars. You probably had a better chance of getting laid (and I had nothing against getting laid), but I wanted something more. I had an emptiness to fill.

    Actually, I did have a good time. I danced with a few of the girls, drank a couple beers, argued politics and the meaning of life with whoever was willing, and enjoyed the music. I was clearly out of place in this crowd, but the novelty of it was refreshing. About midnight I said goodnight to Mike and went home. Alone.

    About a week later, I got a call from Jane. Jane had been one of Meg's close friends. She was a few years younger than I and single. I had thought about her off and on, but didn't want to be seen as chasing around after Meg's friends. I invited Jane over to dinner. She agreed to come if she could cook.

    It was a beautiful evening in early June. When supper was ready, we took it outside and ate on the porch. The front porch was on the east side of the house, so it had been in the shade all afternoon. The stone had cooled down to the point where it was quite pleasant, but if you put your bare feet on the floor, there was still some residual warmth there.

    When we finished eating, we sat in the swing and drank a bottle of wine. We talked for a time and after a while we were kissing. Nothing serious, just some kissing and groping on the porch swing. It reminded me of high school. Eventually, the wine started making us sleepy, and it was time to call it a night.

    Jane drove off after I walked her to car. I returned to the porch and sat for a couple of hours. I was content to let things drift. Even though I knew Jane fairly well, I wasn't sure how I felt about her. There was no pressure. Things would work out or they wouldn't.

    There was one other little wrinkle. I had always been into bondage, and Meg and I had seldom had sex when she wasn't tied up. I had always been mildly embarrassed (but only mildly) by this predilection and had never discussed it or indulged in it with anyone except Meg.  Neither did I engage in much self analysis in this regard, partly out of the fear that if I figured it out, I might stop liking it.  Meg's attitude about being tied up had always been ambivalent. She did, however, enjoy the attention she got when she was tied up. Being bound, per se, was not her idea of a good time, but the things that happened after she was tied made it worthwhile in her mind. On rare occasions, she would ask to be bound. She had always told me that she didn't like to be spanked. I often spanked her anyway. A spanking would always be followed by a particularly intense orgasm on her part, and although she always complained, she would always submit. (For me, bondage and spanking were the same turn on.  I know this is not the case for everyone, but I tended to put them in the same category.)  Oddly enough, she was quite turned on by nipple clamps. For me, sex without bondage was almost as bad as life without sex. This was a sine qua non (Latin for 'this is not a typo') for any relationship as far as I was concerned.

    Jane came over for dinner again the following Friday.  This time I cooked and we ate on the porch again.  After supper, we opened another bottle of wine. Jane was bubbly and effusive.  She was in the middle of relating some incident that had happened at work that day when I stood up, took her hand and pulled her to her feet.  Jane continued prattling merrily along as I took her by the shoulders and turned her so she was facing away from me.  Pulling her arms behind her, I crossed her wrists and tied them with a piece of rope.  Jane stopped talking almost in mid sentence.

    "What are you doing?"

    "I'm tying you up."

    "Meg told me about this."

    "She did?"

    "Yes. I didn't expect it quite so soon. So now you can do anything you want with me."


    "Did you consider it might be unnecessary, that perhaps you could have your way with me without having to tie me down?"

    "Yes, I considered it.  But I'm not tying you up because it's necessary.  I'm doing it because I want to."

    "If you must.  I've never done it this way before.  Maybe it will be fun."

    Brushing her hair aside, I kissed her gently at the base of her neck where it joined her shoulder.  (I should mention that with the 3 foot high stone walls, large stone pillars, and attendant shrubbery, the porch is very private).  I kissed her at the same spot on the other side of her neck.  Jane leaned back against me.  She struggled a bit, testing the ropes, but she was securely bound.  I was experienced.  Reaching around from behind, I ran my hands from her navel up to her breasts.  I could feel her nipples harden through her blouse.  She had apparently forgotten to wear a bra.  I took her by the shoulders and turned her around.  As she faced me, she started to say something but I put my finger to her lips and she subsided.  I took her head between my hands and kissed her.  After a bit more kissing and some gnawing of her nipples, I led her over to the wall.  Taking her by the shoulders, I bent her over the wall.  It was a bit high for her and she had to stand on her toes.  I ran my hand up the back of her leg, then lifted her skirt, pulled down her panties and plunged into her.  Being outside, Jane tried hard to suppress her moans but was only partially successful.

    I pulled Jane to her feet and untied her.  She stood there rubbing her wrists.  I sat her down on the swing, then bound her wrists again, this time in front.  Then I removed her shoes and tied her ankles.  As I sat down beside her, Jane swung her feet up on the swing and lay down with her head in my lap.
    "It's just not my thing.  I mean, I can sort of see how it would be a turn?on for some people, but it doesn't do anything special for me.  I enjoyed it and everything, but I would have liked it just as well and maybe better if I wasn't tied up."

    "You never know till you try.  Now you know."

    "I guess I do."

    The relationship tapered off after that. I had pushed things a little too fast, I think. But it was all for the better. I had always suspected Jane was a borderline alcoholic. Getting to know her better, I learned she was farther from the border than I had realized. I didn't need a rehabilitation project and she exhibited no signs of wishing to be rehabilitated. We still saw each other once in a while, but we never had sex again.

    I resumed my search. The interlude with Jane had been a pleasant interruption, but I hadn't seriously thought it would work out. It did bolster my confidence a bit. My problem was where to look. I would have to get out more, meet more people. Jane not withstanding, women were not likely to randomly ring the doorbell or call me on the phone. I thought about joining a church but rejected the idea. I wasn't religious and didn't particularly want someone who was.  I considered joining some hobby clubs, but most of my hobbies were male oriented. I thought about dating services, but I knew a guy who had worked for one. He assured me they were scams. I thought about the laundromat, but the cheapskate in me prevented me from going there when I had a perfectly good laundry room in the basement. I finally concluded that the most reasonable thing to do would be to network as much as possible and just give it some time.

    The doorbell rang. It was Sharon. I'd forgotten it was Saturday morning. Sharon was our cleaning lady. She was also Meg's cousin, which was how she came to be our cleaning lady. She came every other Saturday. Meg had not been entirely satisfied with Sharon's work. (In fairness to Sharon, it was a complicated job. Like many old houses, there were lots of nooks and crannies and horizontal surfaces??moldings, plate rails, multi?tiered mantles, etc. But you'd think after a couple of years, she'd have it down.) We had considered getting someone else, but Sharon was a relative and needed the work and didn't charge much, so we kept her. Meg used to follow her around, cleaning the things Sharon missed. I wasn't interested in doing that. Sharon and I were going to have a talk.

    "Sharon, we need to have a talk."

    "Yes, sir." Sharon didn't usually call me sir, so I knew she was worried.

    "Sharon, with Meg gone, I'm not sure I need a housekeeper anymore."

    "Well, if that's what you want. But I thought you'd need me even more with her gone. The dust collects just as fast, and I really like coming here. Besides, whether you know it or not, you need someone to look after things."

    "I'll tell you what. I'll keep you on, but we're going to do things a bit differently. I'm going to pay you twice what you've been getting..."

    "Oh, thank you."

    "Let me finish. There will be additional requirements. First of all, you're going to have to do a very good job. I'm not going to follow you around the way Meg did. Second, you're going to have to dress appropriately."

    "Appropriate, like how?"

    "The jeans and flip flops won't do. You're going to have to wear a proper maid's outfit."

    "You mean like a uniform?"

    "Stop interrupting and I'll tell you. But yes, I mean like a uniform. Black skirt, black blouse with white lace collar and cuffs, small white apron, little white lace hat thingy..."

    "Oh, I know what you mean. Like an English maid outfit."

    "English, French, whatever. Also, black stockings..."

    "Black stockings?"

    "I suppose you could wear white hose on occasion if you're feeling frivolous, but don't overdo it, and don't forget the heels."

    "You want me to clean the house in high heels?"

    "The outfit just doesn't work with any other kind of shoe. I suppose you could take them off after a while."

    "I might have to make the blouse, but I can come up with all that stuff."

    "You'll also have to wear a couple of accessories which I will provide, but we'll take care of that next time. Now go take care of the cleaning and I'll see you in two weeks."

   Sharon scurried off to her task. I went out to check the mail.  There was a catalog in the mail from Community University. Community University wasn't really a university. It was a collection of courses taught by volunteers in their homes or wherever else they could scrounge up a meeting place. The subject matter consisted of whatever anyone wanted to teach. I browsed through the catalog. It contained things as diverse as wine tasting, beer making, beginning auto repair, various computer courses, how to buy a stereo, gardening, home health care, and various occult and new age listings.

    A course in palmistry caught my eye. I remembered some years ago reading about a guy who worked his way through college reading palms. When he started out, it was completely bogus. Although he had read some books on the subject, and did his readings as much by the book as he could, he didn't believe in it. He only did readings for women, pointing out that it was a fine opportunity to sit down with a young lady, hold her hand, look into her eyes, and tell her things she wanted to hear. He was as interested in meeting women as making money. Over time, however, he came to believe. So many women had told him how accurate his readings were he concluded that it actually worked. When subsequently relating this belief to a friend of his, the friend suggested he try telling his subjects the opposite of what he read in their palms and see what happened. It worked just as well, and he realized that his 'accuracy' had nothing to do with palmistry, but was a result of the subject's desire to believe.

     When I was in high school, I had experimented briefly with hypnosis.  I had been surprised how many girls had said 'yes' when I'd asked if they wanted to be hypnotized.  I would get them to lie on a couch or something, have them look into my eyes and talk at them in a droning voice.  The problem was that I couldn't actually hypnotize anyone.  I'd read books on the subject but had never personally seen anyone hypnotized.  I could never figure out if the whole concept was phony or I just wasn't doing it right.  I would always cover my failure by telling the girl that she just couldn't be hypnotized.  I'd try to phrase it in a way that made her feel as if she were special or had too powerful a personality to be hypnotized.  That explanation was usually fairly well accepted and salvaged the situation from complete failure.  It occurred to me that palmistry would not only perform the same function, it would not have the binary success/failure properties of hypnotism.  A halfway convincing palm reading would be accepted as successful.  Anyway, I thought it might be a way to meet some people and would also come in handy occasionally as an icebreaker.

    I called the number listed in the catalog and signed up.  The first of the three classes would be held in about 10 days.

    The week passed uneventfully save that my business was more hectic than usual, but this was normal for summer.

    Ann, my daughter, called Thursday evening.

    "Hi, dad. How are you getting along?"

    "I'm doing fine, honey. How are things with you and Ed?

    "Great. We're thinking about changing the wedding date. December is so crazy. We thought it would make more sense to move it back to January or even February. It would be so much easier to organize things without all those other competing events."

    "Sounds sensible. I was going to suggest something like that, but I didn't want to intrude on
your plans. Let me know when."

    "I will. Are you sure you're alright? You never call. I always have to call you."

    "I'm doing OK. Things just seem busier and more complicated with your mother gone." This was a lie. I was spending entirely too much time brooding, but I wasn't about to burden Ann. I would solve my own problems.

    "Well, let me hear from you once in a while. I worry about you."

    "I promise I'll call more often."

    "OK. Bye, daddy."

    "Bye, sweetheart."

    Saturday arrived, as did Sharon.  She was decked out in her new uniform and anxious to show it to me.

    "How do you like it?", she asked, turning in a circle.  "I had a blouse I could use, but I had to sew the lace on it, and I made the hat out of an old doily.  The only skirt I had was this black miniskirt, but I think it works pretty well with this outfit.  I found the apron at a thrift store and I added some white gloves.  I thought that would be classy.  I'm glad you suggested a uniform since it sort of goes with the house..."

    "It was not a suggestion."

    "Well, yes, but anyway, it makes me feel different about the job, like it's more important and..."

    I tuned her out.  Sharon was a major chatterbox.  I let her jabber on as I looked her over.  I had always considered her rather plain, although she was not unattractive.  The uniform set her off nicely.  Her legs were particularly nice and I realized I'd never seen them before.  I'd always seen her in jeans.

    "Sharon," I interrupted.

    "Yes, sir.  It's funny.  I want to call you 'sir' now instead of 'Bob'.  It must be the uniform.  It makes me feel differently about everything even though I've always called you 'Bob'.  It's funny what clothes can do and I didn't even..."

    "Sharon," I interrupted again.

    "Yes, sir."

    "Be still for a moment.  I have an accessory to add to your outfit, then it's time for you to get to work.  Now hold still," I said as I walked up to her.  I fitted a black leather collar around her throat, buckled it, and locked it in place with a small padlock.

    "What is that?", she asked, lifting her hands to her neck.  "It's a collar!  And it's locked!  Why do I have to wear that?  And why is it locked?  You don't own me and you shouldn't be locking me in a collar, even if..."

    "Hush," I told her.  "Now go and look at yourself in the entry hall mirror."  I followed her to the entry hall and stood behind her.  "Doesn't it look nice?  Doesn't it go well with the uniform?  Don't you think it adds something to the whole effect of the outfit?"

    "Well, it is sort of cool looking, but it's sort of weird, too.  I mean it's like I actually sort of like how it looks, but it makes me feel sort of strange, kind of embarrassed, but not exactly embarrassed really, more like subservient or something.  And why is it locked?"

    "Do you remember what I told you last time?  You must do a very good job.  You will wear the collar until the job is completed to my satisfaction.  It's locked so that only I can remove it, which I will do only when I've inspected and approved your work."

    "But being locked in it makes me feel so... so...  It makes me feel like a little girl, like I'll be punished if I don't clean up my room.  And I don't want you getting any ideas about me, either.  I'm just here to clean the house."

    "Just so.  Perhaps you should begin.  Just do a good job and you won't need to worry about being punished."

    "Yes, sir."

    Sharon plugged in her vacuum and began doing the main hall.  I sat in the living room reading a book and watching her.  She looked sexy in her new outfit and collar in a way she never had before.  I didn't have any romantic interest in Sharon, but something made me want to fuck with her head.  I suppose I should have been ashamed of myself, but I didn't think about it.  I wasn't sure where I was going with this, but something in her or in me made me want to mess with her.

    "All done," Sharon announced several hours later.

    "Well, let's have a look."  I wandered the house, followed by Sharon.  In the dining room I pointed above the mantle.  "See those cobwebs up there?"

    "Sorry."  She got a long?handled duster and cleared them away.  We cruised the rest of the house, but I had no other complaints.

    "In spite of the cobwebs, that's a better job than you've ever done before. We can probably forego the spanking this time."

    "Spanking!  What spanking?"

    "Just teasing.  Now, hold still while I get your collar off."  I removed her collar, paid her, and saw her to the door.  "See you in two weeks."

    "OK.  Bye."

    The following Wednesday I went to the first meeting of the palm reading class.  There were 10 students, three men and seven women.  The other two guys were in their twenties, as were four of the women.  The remaining three women were closer to my age.  The instructor appeared to be in her early forties.  She wore way too much jewelry and her outfit was not quite but almost a costume.  She wore a long dress and had beads hanging from her hair.  Although she was not wearing a gown and conical cap bedecked with mystical symbols, I suspected she might have something like that in her closet.
    She began the class by telling us about the history of palm reading (most of which was highly speculative).  I had resolved to keep my mouth shut and go with the flow, but when she got to the part about how palm readers had aided British intelligence in WWII by helping to identify German spies, it was too much.

    "Wait a minute," I said.  "Before you shatter all my illusions, I need to be sure I understand about this.  I'd always thought the British had been the good guys, 'their finest hour' and all that. But you're telling us that while the Germans were putting people in concentration camps because they were Jews and Gypsies and the Americans were putting people in concentration camps because they were Japanese, the British were arresting and possibly executing people because of the creases on their palms?"

    "They didn't use it on anybody who wasn't already suspected of being a spy.  It just helped to confirm what they already knew."

    "So if they hadn't used it, they probably would have shot the same people anyway."

    "Probably, but it did help."

    "If you say so."

    As I said, I'd intended to keep quiet, but my outburst in the first fifteen minutes of class got me a reputation.  I noticed the instructor (her name was Helen) tended to watch me during class to see how she was doing.

    Helen handed out a stack of papers to everyone.  The first had a diagram of the major lines and areas of the palm.  Each line and area was discussed on a separate sheet.  She guided us through the diagram and each sheet and generally did a good job of explaining everything.  Then she thanked us for coming and said we'd go into a little more depth next time.

    The week dragged on.  Go to work, come home, go to work, come home again.  I found myself looking forward to the next class on Wednesday.

    Wednesday's class was a continuation of the previous week.  Helen went into more detail on the various aspects of the palm.  I learned more about my classmates.  Two of the three women near my age were unmarried and of interest.

    Rebecca was a widow with two children in high school.  She was 39, reasonably self possessed and came to the class out of curiosity.

    Karen was 37, recently divorced and floundering.  Her son was going to turn 18 in the fall and wanted to join the navy rather than start his senior year of high school.  She was here looking for answers.  I thought she must be utterly devoid of resource to be looking here.

    At the end of the class, Helen did a demonstration reading on one of the younger women and announced that next time we would all do readings on each other.

    It was Saturday again and time for another visit from Sharon.  She asked me if she was going to have to wear the collar again.  As an answer I buckled it around her throat and snapped the lock in place.  Sharon went about her chores.  When she finished, I found several things that she missed.  I had her correct them, cautioned her that she would have to be more conscientious in the future then removed her collar, paid her and sent her on her way.

    On Wednesday, Helen gave us an hour or so of lecture, then handed out a slip of paper to each of us.  The paper contained the name of the person whose palm we would read.  I would read Karen's palm.  Rebecca would read mine.  This is exactly what I would have chosen if I had set it up.  I noticed that the other single guy in the class had drawn single women and it occurred to me that maybe Helen had stacked the deck, indulging in a bit of match making.

    I turned my chair to toward Karen's.  "Give me your hand, Karen."  Karen extended her arm and I laid her small hand across the palm of my left hand, hooking my thumb over her wrist.  I smoothed her palm flat with my other hand, stroking and separating her fingers.  This had nothing to do with viewing her palm.  I was trying to set a tone, trying to make her feel I had charge of the situation and of her.  I looked into her eyes.  "Shall we begin?"  She nodded.

    I ran my index finger gently along her life line.  "You see how your life line is deeply and firmly etched?  That indicates an enthusiasm for life, an exuberance.  But you see how your heart line is more lightly etched and spidery?  This disparity between your life and heart line can cause you problems.  Your enthusiasm can lead you astray.  You've had false starts in your love life, and relationships have been erratic and troublesome.  You enjoy sex but seldom find it as fulfilling as you would wish.  I see similar things in your head line.  It's branched and discontinuous.  You don't always think problems all the way through and are sometimes sidetracked to the point where important issues are ignored.  Your fate line, like your life line, is strong.  This indicates an overall good outcome, but you won't achieve this fate without tribulation.  You need some structure in your life, some boundaries set to keep you on course."  I carried on like this for a while.  I spoke earnestly and with conviction.  I had locked my eyes on Karen's, glancing down occasionally at her palm, running my fingers over it to emphasize a point.  I couldn't actually see the differences that I claimed to see in the lines but it didn't matter.  This was a snow job.  I could tell it was working.  The eye contact, the physical contact, the tone of my voice, all combined to cast a spell on Karen.  This was what she wanted, someone to take her firmly by the hand and tell her it would all be alright.  I was a metaphor come to life.

    "You read me like a book.  How did you that?  Can you really see all that in my palm?"

    "I read what was there to see.  I read what you revealed."  This was true.  I'd simply fed back to her what I already knew about her, embellished by some educated guesses and common sense.  This had been easy, since I knew something about her.  I wondered how well I would do on a cold read.

    Now it was my turn.  I turned to Rebecca and held out my hand.  She took it and traced over the lines with her finger, commenting on their quality and significance.

    "You're searching," she told me.  "There have been changes in your life and you're drifting without having a clear direction in mind."

    Rebecca was trying to do to me what I'd done to Karen, but she'd fucked up.  She had neglected to set the mood, to take charge and gain my confidence.  She was fishing, trying various things and hoping for a hit.  Finally, she finished.

    "Well, what did you think?"

    "Not bad," I told her, "except I think you put too much effort into trying to read my palm and not enough into trying to read me."

    "Interesting point.  I'll have to try that."

    Helen led us through a discussion of our first attempt at palm reading.  I was generally considered to have done the best job.  I found this amusing, since I'd been the only one who hadn't tried to read palms.  I'd just faked it.

    Time was up.  Since this was the last class, we decided to continue the discussion at the corner bar over drinks and sandwiches.  We trooped out.  I was the last one out the door as Helen was locking up.  She stopped me.

    "That was a good job you did on Karen, but you weren't reading her palm, were you.  You were bullshitting."

    "So are you," I responded.  "The difference is that I'm willing to admit it."

    She seemed stung by the remark and I instantly regretted my flippancy.  Helen was not a true charlatan.  She honestly believed in what she was doing and taught a class every semester at no charge to help bring people to a greater understanding of themselves.  The fact that I thought I could see through her did not make her intentions any less honorable.  She was not deserving of my scorn.

    "I'm sorry.  I shouldn't have said that."

    We spent several hours at the bar, discussing palmistry and anything else that came up.  I had managed to sit next to Karen and maneuvered so that my knee rested against hers, but otherwise didn't push things.  I discovered Rebecca and I had some business interests in common and we exchanged cards.  Finally, I decided I'd better go while I could still drive.  I said goodnight and as I got up to go Karen pushed a folded piece of paper into my hand.  I unfolded it when I got to the car.  It was a phone number.

    I waited a couple days, then gave Karen a call.  We set a date for dinner the following Friday.  I picked her up at her house and met her son Daryl.  He seemed like a nice kid, but I could see that his parents recent divorce and his mother's current lack of direction had left him confused.  I could understand how he might find the structured environment of the navy attractive.  We discussed him over dinner.

    "I'm so afraid he'll quit school.  He's just got to finish high school."

    "No, he doesn't," I told her.  "High school won't do anything for him the navy can't."
    "But he needs his diploma."

    "He can get a GED in the navy and get paid for it as well.  He can learn a trade, earn money for college, and put some structure in his life.  He'll come out a better person with a more mature approach to schooling.  The only down side is that you'll be alone and that's what you're really afraid of.  He's grown.  It's time for him to go.  Hanging on would be bad for both of you.  Let him go with your blessing."

    "Have you been reading my palm again?  You're right.  I know you're right.  I just needed to hear it from someone else.  It's so hard to let go."

    "Just pointing out the obvious."

    We discussed other things.  Vic, her ex, was her second husband and not Daryl's biological father.  I learned that her alimony and child support, paid by her first husband, would terminate on Daryl's eighteenth birthday.  She had gotten the house, which was paid for, as part of the settlement and had a fairly good job, so while she had to watch her budget her financial situation was stable.  Her divorce had been the result of Vic using her as a punching bag.  This had been a problem off and on through their marriage, but on the last occasion her former husband had neglected to take Daryl into account.  Daryl was now a rather large young man and had responded to the attack on his mother by beating his stepfather senseless then hurling his unconscious body off the front porch.  Not long after, Vic had agreed to an uncontested divorce with favorable terms for Karen and Daryl.

    "That's always been a problem for me.  I always seem to be attracted to guys who are way too controlling.  They're very charming at first, then after a while they beat the crap out of me."

    "So now you're out with me.  Aren't you worried about making the same mistake again?"

    "Yes, a little, but I'm so afraid of being alone.  I need to be with someone."

    "That's exactly why you need to live alone for a while.  Once you learn to be independent, you'll be attractive to men who value that."

    "That's what's different about you.  No one's ever encouraged me to be independent before.  You don't seem to be the jealous type, just the same I think it turns you on to control women."

    "Now who's reading whose palm?  You're right, I enjoy controlling women in certain contexts, but knocking them around the room isn't control.  That's loss of control.  It would be embarrassing to be so inept.  Women should be made to want to be controlled."

    "Let's change the subject.  You're frightening me and turning me on at the same time."

    "Thanks for the compliment.  Have you been to the art museum recently?  There's a traveling exhibit of ancient Greek silver..."

    After dinner we went walking and window shopping in the neighborhood around the restaurant.  We sat for a while on a park bench and watched other people walk by.  Eventually, I took her home.
    "Would you like to come in for coffee?" Karen asked after I'd walked her to her door.

    "Thank you, but not this time," I said, turning to leave. I was not going to make the same mistake I'd made with Jane.  I was going for the longer term with Karen.  Things would proceed slowly.

    "Does that mean there'll be a next time?"

    "I'll call you," I told her and departed.  She was still standing in her doorway watching as I drove off.

    I was awakened the next morning by the doorbell.  I pulled on a pair of jeans and a shirt and went downstairs.

    "I'm sorry," said Sharon.  "I'm a little earlier than usual.  I didn't mean to wake you up.  It's just that I thought it would be nice to get an early start and I didn't think it would hurt anything but if you want I could come back later although that would be a pain because I'd have to drive all the way home and back again and besides I'm here now and you're up so I hope it's alright if I ..."

    "It's OK, Sharon.  It's OK.  Spare me the explanation and just get on with it."

    "Thanks.  I'll get started."  She headed off down the hall.

    "Sharon, come back here."

    "What?  Oh, yeah.  I forgot," she said as I buckled her collar in place.

    "I'll tell you what, Sharon.  From now on, you're only allowed to be in the entry hall without your collar.  You're not allowed in the main part of the house until you've been locked in your collar."

    "OK, if that's what you want.  It's your house and..."

    "Yes, it is," I interrupted.  "Now get on with it, if you please."

    After she finished, we inspected her work.  I found about seven things she missed.

    "Sharon, this is not acceptable work.  If one of my guys at the office did a job like this, he wouldn't be one of my guys anymore."

    "I'm sorry.  I'll do better next time."

    "I will expect you to, but I think some sanctions are in order this time."

    "What do you mean by sanctions?"

    "What did your mother do when you misbehaved?"

    "Usually I'd get grounded."
    "Not practical at the moment.  How about when you were younger?"

    "Sometimes I'd have to stand in the corner.  If I was really bad I'd get spanked."

    "We won't consider you to have been really bad on this occasion, so this time you'll only have to stand in the corner."  I led her to a spot wall in the main hall and positioned her against the wall.  "Now, feet together, stand straight.  Good, now press your nose against this spot on the wall," I said, indicating a spot in the wallpaper pattern.  "Now clasp your hands behind you, pretend they're tied together.  Good."

    "This isn't fair.  I'll clean the spots I missed, but I shouldn't have to..."

    "Sharon, you don't have to come here if you don't want to.  But if you do choose to come here, I expect you to do a proper job and if you don't I expect you to accept correction without complaint.  Do you understand?"

    "Yes, sir."

    "Good.  You are to keep your nose on that spot and not move.  I'll return for you in an hour..."

    "An hour!"

    "Yes, an hour.  Now keep quiet.  You are not to speak again until your time is up.  I want you to spend this time thinking about how you can do a better job, then you can go back and clean the spots you missed."  I went to the living room and sat down to read.  Sharon wasn't turned so she could see me, but she could hear where I had gone.  She didn't know that I had sat down where I could see her in a mirror.  After about 10 minutes, she unclasped her hands, stepped away from the wall, scratched her nose, then returned to her previous position.  I walked up behind her.

    "Sharon, you're not doing a very good job of pretending your hands are tied," I said, cinching a length of rope around her gloved wrists, "so I guess we're going to have to resort to the real thing.  Also, since you decided to take your nose off the wall, we're going to add fifteen minutes to your time here."  Sharon groaned but didn't otherwise reply.  She behaved herself for the rest of her penalty period.  I untied her wrists and sent her off to clean the things she'd missed, then paid her and sent her home.

    I still wasn't sure where I was headed with Sharon but two things were obvious.  I was becoming more turned on by her and this meant events were likely to escalate.

    On Tuesday, I got a call from Rebecca.  I owned a small delivery company.  We ran a few regular routes, but a lot of our business came from regular customers who needed only occasional pick up or delivery.  We ran a number of econoline vans and a couple of box vans with lift gates.  Rebecca needed a box picked up at the airport.  I ran the call myself.  I did this whenever possible with new customers.  You can tell a lot more about a customer's needs by actually going to their place than you can by talking to them on the phone.

    I wheeled the box into Rebecca's office and closed the door.  When I turned back around, Rebecca was standing beside her desk with her skirt pulled up to her chin.

    "Like what you see?"

    Now here was a woman who knew what she wanted.  Unfortunately, she was a bit fuzzy on how to go about getting it.  "I like what I'm looking at, but I don't like what I see."

    "What’s that supposed to mean?"

    I walked over to Rebecca and pushed her gently down into her chair, then perched on the edge of her desk in front of her.  "You're a beautiful woman, Rebecca, I like looking at you.  But there's a lot wrong with this picture.  First of all, if you go around pulling your skirt up in front of strange men, and I qualify, I assume you're ready to accept the consequences of your actions, whatever they may be."  I reached down and grasped her ankle, removing her shoe.  Then I slipped off her other shoe.

    "And whatever might they be?" she asked coyly.

    "You're about to find out.  Stand," I said, taking her hand and pulling her to her feet.  I positioned her in front of her desk and put my hand in the middle of her back, pressing gently forward.  "Bend over the desk, Rebecca."  I grabbed her wrists and pulled them to the far side of the desk, wrapping her fingers over the edge.  "Don't let go," I told her.  I pulled her skirt up around her waist.

    "Not here, someone might come in.  Let's go someplace."

    "I don't think it would be an altogether bad thing if someone was to come in and see us."

    "What do you mean?"
   "I'm going to do to you what you would do to your daughter if she behaved like that."  I picked up an eighteen?inch ruler from the chalkboard behind her desk.  "I'm going to count to ten.  If you release your grip on the desk before I finish, we'll have to start over."  The ruler landed on her butt with a loud crack.  Rebecca shrieked and struggled to get up, but my hand was firmly planted in the middle of her back.

    "Stop it!  Stop.  I'll scream."

    "So scream.  As I said, an audience might not be a bad thing.  Now hold still."  I gave her an even harder blow.  Her panties and panty hose offered little protection against the heavy wooden ruler.  Her breath caught in her throat on the third blow.  I quickly delivered a fourth and fifth.

    "Rebecca, put your hands back in position.  You still have ten strokes to go.  I don't think you're going to want me to have to start over again, so hang on tight."  She meekly complied.  The fight was gone out of her.  I gave her the rest of her spanking.  Her knuckles were white, her breath came in gasps, but she endured and managed to keep her hands in position.  I let her up and helped her to her feet.  Tears were streaming down her face.  I dried them with my handkerchief, then kissed her on the forehead.  Then I helped her into her seat.  "Gently," I told her, "gently, you're going to be sore for a while."  I shoved my paperwork in front of her, had her sign it, and departed.
    "I never knew..." Rebecca said softly as I left.  I wasn't sure which one of us she was talking to nor did I know what it was she had never known.

    When I had arrived, I'd gotten the impression from the guys on the loading dock that Rebecca was the office bitch.  As I left, the guy in the office next to hers was out in the hall.  I figured he had heard at least part of the commotion and had some idea what had taken place.  I winked at him.  He gave me a thumbs up.  Just as I thought.  If Rebecca had managed to summon an audience, they would have cheered.

    I was glad I hadn't been called on to read Rebecca's palm.  There were some dark little corners to her I would never have guessed.  I had no plans to call her in the future, but I suspected I hadn't heard the last of her.

    On Friday, I took Karen out again.  We did dinner and a movie.  When I took her home, I again refused her invitation to come in.

    "You're the first guy who hasn't been all over me on the first or second date."

    "Your taste in men is improving."

    "Do I at least get a kiss?"

    "Certainly."  Karen was a most pleasant armful.  I briefly considered accepting her invitation, but decided to stick with my plan.  I bid her goodnight and went home.

    This was the off Saturday for Sharon.  I was looking forward to my next encounter with the hapless Sharon (that was how I had come to think of her) and thought about changing her schedule to weekly.  I still was not serious about her and treated her as sort of a diversion but finally decided against weekly visits from her.  Nonetheless, I was restless and in need of diversion.  I gave Helen a call.

    "Hi, Helen.  This is Bob Canfield.  The last time I saw you I made a rather unkind remark.  It's been weighing on me and I finally decided to call and apologize.  Could I make it up to you by buying you dinner?"

    "Why thank you, Bob, that's very kind.  It just so happens I'm free this evening."

    "Great.  I'll pick you up about six."

    "Fine.  By the way, I'm a vegetarian."

    "Doesn't surprise me.  See you then."

    I spent a pleasant evening with Helen.  She was fun to talk to because she and I were so different.  Her years reading palms had made her a keen observer of people.  We took turns speculating about the other people in the restaurant.  I was more analytical in my approach. Her approach seemed random and disorganized but she popped up out of the blue with insights that were completely unavailable to me.  It was fascinating to watch her work.  I could only get from A to C by way of B.  She could go straight from A to C, but was often unable to get to B.  Weird, but fascinating.

    I asked her if she had stacked the deck the night we read each other's palms.

    "Of course.  Karen needs an upgrade from the type of guys she usually dates.  You'd be good for her.  She wouldn't do you any harm either.  You're a bit more lost than you pretend to be.  I can't tell about the long term, but short term I think you'd both benefit."

    "You know I've been dating her?"

    "Yes, she told me."

    "You've been talking to Karen?"  Great.  All I needed was a third party meddling in the relationship.

    "I know what you're thinking.  I won't meddle in your relationship.  Nor do I carry tales.  I won't tell you what she says and she won't hear of this evening."

    I was only partially reassured, although I suppose Karen needed to talk girl talk to someone and Helen would probably be as good as any.

    "One other piece of advice," Helen continued.  "Be careful of Rebecca.  She seems to be an attractive confident successful woman, someone right up your alley.  There's a strangeness there.  I can't put my finger on it, but there's something about her.  Caution is called for."

    I told her about my encounter with Rebecca.

    "You spanked her?  That's great!  I love it.  I wouldn't have thought of that one, and it was probably your best option.  If you'd turned her down or just ignored her she would probably raise the stakes.  Going along with her game and taking her to a motel would have been even worse.  Yes, I'd say you handled her as well as possible, especially considering the time in which you had to react.  But then, the idea of spanking her would naturally have occurred to you, wouldn't it.  So tell me, have you spanked Karen yet?"


    "Have you given Karen a spanking?"

    "Wouldn't you know if I had?"

    "Of course I would.  But you are planning on it, aren't you?"

    "Well, I wouldn't want to..."

    "Bob, I'm not being judgmental, at least not in the way you think.  What you two do together is your business.  I know you wouldn't harm her."
    "So if it's my business, why are you asking?"

    "Just curious.  I know you like to dominate women sexually."

    "Everybody keeps telling me that.  Is it that obvious?"

    "It's hard to keep it a secret when you go around spanking people, but there is something about you.  It's not obvious to the casual observer, but women who like being dominated pick up on it pretty quickly.  Anyway, I assume Karen is in for a spanking if she continues seeing you. Just don't do it around Daryl."

    "No shit! But I'm curious, too. You seem more interested in whether I'm spanking Karen than whether I'm sleeping with her. Do I detect some prurient interest here?"

    "You might."

    "And what might be the nature of that interest? Are you interested in giving Karen a spanking yourself, or are you imagining yourself in her place?"

    "The second choice definitely has more appeal. My turn. Why do you ask? What have you got in mind for me this evening?"

    "I'd like to take you home with me, tie you up and spank you really hard for being so nosy and then fuck your brains out; but I won't."

    "I suppose it's just as well. That would probably be more excitement than I could stand in one evening."

    We'd been in the restaurant for some time at this point.  The staff was starting to set chairs on top of the tables around us to clean up.  Our waitress came by about every sixty seconds to ask if there would be anything else.  We finally took the hint.

    We pulled into Helen's driveway. I turned off the engine and turned toward her. "I've changed my mind."


    "Yes." I clutched the back of her collar and pulled her across my lap and flipped up her skirt. "You're a meddlesome wench after all, Helen," I said smacking her sharply on the butt.

    "Ow. Bob, you turkey. OWW! That hurt."

    "It's a spanking, Helen."

    I gave her a few more swats and let her up, then walked her to her door. "Thank you, Helen. I enjoyed the evening immensely. I hope you'll forgive my little outburst of a moment ago."

    "It's been fun, even the last few minutes. You're leaving? What happened to the 'tie me up and fuck my brains out' part?"

    "Sorry, haven't changed my mind about that yet."

    "Story of my life."

    Sunday morning. Time for a bit of introspection. Here I was with 3 different women who had indicated a desire to have sex with me. So far I'd spanked two of them, kissed one, and slept with...none? I've already stated my feelings about sex without bondage, but bondage without sex?  Perhaps Helen was right. Maybe I was a little more lost than I thought. For a brief moment I considered therapy, but that insanity passed. I had even less confidence in therapists than I did in fortune tellers. (Recently, a student at a local high school had blown the door off his locker with an M?80 (a very large firecracker in case you're not familiar with them). No one was injured. The school was inundated with therapists wanting to counsel the 'victims' of the 'tragedy'. Here indeed was a pack of charlatans. The only 'victims' were those afflicted with therapy.)

    Once I took the problem apart, it didn't seem quite so crazy. Helen was right about Rebecca. I wasn't really interested, although if she wanted to continue to play games I intended to see to it that we played my game by my rules. Helen I liked as a friend. I wouldn't mind having sex with her sometime but right now Karen was the one I had the hots for. As far as Karen was concerned, I still thought my long game approach was valid, although I had plans for her in the near future. And then there was the hapless Sharon. So far I had made her dress up in a silly outfit and collar, clean the house in high heels, stand in a corner with her hands tied behind her. What was next? I hadn't decided yet. Why was I doing this? I enjoyed toying with her, having control over her. This worried me a bit when I thought about it, so I didn't think about it. It was as if I was watching myself from a distance, curious to see what affliction would next be visited on the hapless Sharon. Of course she could avoid all this silliness by doing a proper job of cleaning the house, but then she wouldn't be the hapless Sharon.

    Friday evening. Another date with Karen. The week had dragged slowly by. I had half expected to hear from Rebecca but so far not a peep. Fine with me. Karen and I had a nice evening out. We made plans to go to the art museum on Sunday. I took her home and kissed her good night, once again declining her invitation to come in for coffee.

    Saturday. The hapless Sharon arrived not quite so early as last time. She was all atwitter over her previous experience. I would have thought she'd be over it by now, but I suppose being here had reignited her feelings.

    "I was really mad when you made me stand in the corner last time, but then I thought that well, I hadn't done a very good job so maybe you were right to do something to make me focus on it but then when you tied my hands I was really scared, I thought you were going to do something to me but you didn't and standing there being punished with my hands tied and my nose against the wall made me feel all sort of squishy inside so I hope you won't punish me anymore since it makes me have these mixed up feelings but if you do I don't suppose there isn't anything I can do about it, is there."

    "Sharon, you can leave any time you wish. You don't have to stand in the corner if you don't want to, but if you ever leave with the house not cleaned or before completing a penalty you may not come back. Do you understand?"

    "Oh, yes sir, I understand. I like coming here and I want to do a good job but there's just so much to remember and so many places to clean that sometimes I just lose track of it all."

    "I may be having guests tomorrow so I want you to do an extra good job. Now please proceed."

    "Yes, sir. Right away."

    "Sharon, come back here. Didn't I tell you that you weren't allowed out of the entry hall until I had locked you in your collar."

    "I'm sorry, I forgot. It's just that I was in a hurry to get started since you needed the house extra clean and ..."

    "Sharon, there's a price to pay if you break the rules. For the rest of the day you are not allowed to speak."


    "Hush, not a word. You are not to speak another word in this house today. Pretend you're gagged. As I said, you can leave if you like. Otherwise, come over here so I can put your collar on you." The hapless Sharon approached me and I locked her in her collar. "Fine. Now, on with it."

    Sharon headed off to her chores. About 45 minutes later she was back.

    "Do you want me to wax the kitchen floor? I did it last time so it probably doesn't need it but if you're having guests maybe...Oh, I forgot, but how am I supposed to ask if I can't talk?"

    "Use sign language, write a note, any of the things you would have to do if you were really gagged. Since once again you're not doing such a good job of pretending we'll have to once again resort to reality. Open your mouth. Wider." I stuffed a ball gag into the hapless Sharon's mouth and buckled it behind her head, adding a small padlock. "Sharon, if you choose to stay here you're going to spend the day gagged. Would you rather go home?" The hapless Sharon hesitated a moment then shook her head. "So you're going to stay?" She nodded. "Good. Now remember to do a good job." She scurried off to her task.

    The doorbell rang. It was my son, Mark. I'd forgotten he was to be in town on business. "Hi, dad." Mark was in the house before I could stop him. Sharon was dusting in the hall. She took one look at Mark and fled toward the back of the house. Mark just stood there, his jaw hanging nearly to his navel. I was afraid it was going to require surgery to get it back in place. Jesus, how was I going to deal with this? Obfuscation would be futile, denial even more so.  Full speed ahead. I'd known Mark all his life. I could handle him.

    "Did I see what I think I saw? Was that Sharon? Are you crazy?"
    "Calm down. You're gibbering. Yes, you saw what you thought you saw. Yes, that was Sharon. No, I'm not crazy."

    "So what was that? That outfit, the collar, the gag. That's not the Sharon I know. What have you been up to? Why did she run away?"

    "She was running from you, not from me. You embarrassed her by gawking like that."

    "I embarrassed her? I'm not surprised that she's embarrassed, but how did she get like that? What have you been doing to her?"

    "Your mother was never able to get Sharon to do the job properly. I've instituted a training program to correct the problem. She takes the job much more seriously now that she dresses correctly. Sanctions are imposed when she fails to meet expectations. She's making considerable progress."

    "I don't doubt that, but I think you're employing a level of coercion here that's way out of bounds."

    "Did you see Sharon's car outside?"


    "How do you think it got here?"

    "I assume she drove it."

    "So she brought herself here."

    "Yes, but..."

    "Son, she's an adult, a status for which you just barely qualify. What she voluntarily commits to is her business and none of yours. Neither her activities nor mine are subject to your scrutiny or approval."

    "Maybe so, but you've got me worried.  This isn't like you.  I've never seen you like this before."

    "And what do you hope to accomplish by worrying? Will your worry change anything? Will it make you any happier to waste time worrying?"


    "Then don't. You have no understanding of the situation, neither Sharon nor I have asked for your input, and it's none of your business."

    "OK. Your attitude is certainly clear. Anyway, I just stopped by to say 'hi' on my way to the airport. I'd better be going."

    "It was good to see you, Mark. I'm always happy to see you, but you might want to call first before you drop in."

    I was sorry to see Mark run off like that. I didn't get to see enough of him, but I had to make it clear which one of us was in charge of my life. I loved him very much, but didn't require his oversight or approval of my activities. I headed for the kitchen.

    Sharon was sitting at the breakfast counter weeping. I removed her gag and held her.

    "I didn't want anybody to see me like this."

    "I see you like this."

    "I mean anybody else. I don't mind if you see me like, I do mind when you see me like this, but I can't help it, but I like it, too, but...I don't know what I mean."

    I held her until she was calm and quiet. "Do you want to finish the job?"

    "Yes." I led her back to the main hall and held the gag to her lips.

    "Do I have to be gagged?"

    "Yes, if you're going to stay."

    "What if somebody else comes?"

    "I won't ever let anyone in again while you're here."

    "Alright." I buckled the gag in place and locked it. Sharon returned to her task.

    When she finished I could only find one small flaw (cobwebs above one of the mantles again). "That's much better, Sharon. Next time let's try for 100%. Now remember not to speak until you're out of the house." I removed her collar and gag and sent her on her way.

    The hapless Sharon was becoming acclimated to the fact that she would be punished if she broke the rules. Rule enforcement was about to increase.

    On Sunday, Karen and I went to see the Greek silver exhibit at the art museum. It was worth the trip to see the beautiful objects fashioned by hand all those centuries ago. We ate a late lunch in the museum café then went driving aimlessly around town, just talking. We found ourselves driving through one of the older parts of town. The street we were on was lined with large older houses similar to my own. All were masonry, either stone or brick. Many had been restored, others were crumbling, all were impressive. Karen was enthralled.

    "I just love these old houses. Wouldn't it be great to see inside of them."

    "I think that could be arranged."

    "Yes, I know someone here."

    I parked in front of a three story stone house on a corner lot. It was just sunset and there were lights on in the house. It had an impressive set of leaded glass doors and the interior lights glittered and danced in the beveled pieces of glass as we mounted the stone steps.

    "There's no one home at the moment but I can show you the house anyway." I opened the front door.

    "It's unlocked?" Karen asked.

    "Think about it. If someone were going rob this place, would you want them to have to break in? You can get a new VCR but they don't make doors like this anymore."

    "But someone could just walk right in."

    "And so we shall," I said, punching numbers into a small keypad just inside.

    "But, but..."

    "It's OK. I've turned off the alarm."

    We stepped inside and I closed the door, resetting the alarm. We were in a small entry hall. In front of us was another set of leaded glass doors which opened into the main hall. The entry hall floor was ceramic tile with a small oriental rug in the center. On our right was a small ornate table with a burled wood framed mirror hanging above. It was obvious even from the entry hall that the house had been restored to its original splendor.

     "There is one little problem before we go on inside," I told Karen.  "I have to tie your hands."


     "It's the house rule," I told her.  "Women visitors are only allowed inside if their hands are tied
behind them."

     "You're making this up.  You just want to tie me up."

     "So why would I want to tie you up?"

     "I don't know.  Guys like to tie women up sometimes.  It makes them feel superior or like they're in charge or something."

    I stepped very close to her; my sport coat brushed against her breasts.  "Karen, is there any doubt in your mind which one of us is in charge?", I asked, speaking softly.

    "No," she replied even more softly.  "No, there isn't."

    "So where then is my need to tie you up."

     I opened the drawer on the table under the mirror.  It contained three pair of handcuffs and a couple short lengths of rope.

     "Oh, my," Karen said.  "What are those doing in there?"

     "They're provided for the convenience of guests."

     "You really weren't kidding."

     "No, I wasn't."

     "Couldn't we just go in anyway?  There's nobody home.  How would they know?"

     "I wouldn't want the owner to find you wandering around loose, so to speak.  You don't have
to go in. We can leave now if you want."

     "But I really want to see the house."

     "Then you'll have to be tied.  Would you prefer rope or handcuffs?"


     "Cross your wrists behind you."  Karen complied and I tied her wrists snugly.

     "Bob, this is so weird.  Why did you bring me here?"

     "You were the one who wanted to see a house.  This is the only one I have access to."

     "You have some very strange friends."

     "Yes, I suppose I do.  But then, so do they."

    "Huh?  Oh, I get it.  Yes, they do, don't they."

    "Shall we go in?"  I opened the doors to the main hall.  Karen gasped as we stepped inside.

     "Oh, it's so beautiful!"

     And so it was.  The marble threshold gave way to a thick rose colored runner which extended
down the hall, flanked by the dark oak flooring.  Polished brass and crystal chandeliers hung from the ceiling. The walls were covered with antique wallpaper above the waist high mahogany wainscoting.

     On the right was a drawing room or library.  There was a fireplace in the far wall under a massive mahogany mantle as wide as the room.  On either side of the fireplace were bookcases with leaded glass doors.  Above the mantle were stained glass windows.
     On the left was the living room.  Unlike the rest of the house, it had white maple flooring. Ornate plaster crown molding rimmed the ceiling.  Also unlike the rest of the house, the woodwork was  painted.

     Karen was practically spinning in circles, trying to look at everything.  She was wearing 4" heels, and with her hands tied behind her, she was tottering a bit.

     "Careful," I cautioned.  "You don't want to crash into anything expensive.  And don't wander into any unauthorized areas."

     "Unauthorized areas?  What are you talking about?"

     "Don't go into any private areas of the house.  There's a penalty for intrusion."

     "Bob, is there something you're not telling me?"

     "I am telling you.  If you intrude into private areas of the house, you'll have to be punished."

     "Punished how?"

     "You'll be spanked."

     "Spanked!  By who?"

     "By me.  If you prefer, I could arrange for someone else to do it."

     "I don't want to be spanked by anyone, Bob.  This is getting way too weird."

     "Come on.  I'll take you home.  Coming in here was a bad idea."

     Karen softened when I suggested leaving.  "Oh, but it's so gorgeous.  I'd like to see the rest of it."

     "OK.  As long as you behave, you won't have to worry about being spanked anyway.  Just don't open any doors."

     "Why, what's behind them?"

     "That's why they're closed.  It's none of your business what's behind them.  You can wander freely in the open areas.  There's plenty to see there.  You might want to take your shoes off before you go roaming around, though."

     "I see.  Anything else you want me to take off?"

     "Much, but this isn't the time or place.  Besides, you can't do it with your hands tied.  I just thought you might be a little more sure footed without those heels."

     Karen slipped her shoes off and I set them out in the entry hall.  She padded off to the dining
room in her stocking feet.

     The dining room was done in white oak, stained dark.  It had shoulder high wainscoting with a
plate rail, beamed ceiling and ornate brass chandelier.  On the south was a bay window with stained glass windows and a huge window seat.  The west wall had a fireplace with a multi?tiered oak mantle. Above the mantle were windows of leaded bevels.  It was mid?summer and the sun was on the western horizon.  The sunlight was refracted as it streamed through the bevels, splashing miniature rainbows about the room.  Karen was delighted.  The rainbows danced over
her body as she moved about.

     I had seen it before.  I still found it beautiful, but right now I was more interested in looking at Karen than the house.  Karen was an attractive woman under any circumstances, but her bound
wrists seemed to magnify her allure.  It was all I could do to keep from pouncing on her.

     Karen was oblivious to my state of arousal.  She meandered about, looking at things. Occasionally, she would forget she was bound and her elbows would jerk as she attempted to pick
up some knickknack or bauble for closer examination.

     "I'm beginning to understand why my hands are tied," she commented.

     I followed along behind her, admiring the view.  She eventually found her way to the staircase.
As in many old houses, there was a grand staircase.  This one came down from the side rather
than being on the same axis as the hall.  The hall ran east and west, while the staircase was on the
north side of the house.  Karen stood in the hall, facing the stairs.  There was an intricately
carved newel post on the left, a large mahogany veneered pillar on the right.  The stairs went up
between them three steps to a small landing, turned left, up two steps to another small landing,
then right and up eight steps to the main landing.  There was a small carved table supporting a
bronze bust of a woman on the first landing.  To the right of the pillar was a door which led back
under the stairs.

     "What's back there?" Karen wanted to know.

     "Perhaps a closet.  It's none of our business."

     "I was just curious."

     I knew what Karen was going to do.  I didn't want to be around to stop her.

     "I have to go to the bathroom," I announced.  "I'll be back in a couple of minutes."

     I went back to the butler's pantry, where a half bath had been added.  A few minutes later I
returned to the main hall.

     "Bob, look.  There's a whole room under here."
     It was true.  Karen had opened the door next to the stairs, revealing a room which was hidden
under the landing.  It was trimmed in oak, with a beamed ceiling and a window of leaded bevels
spanning the north wall.  It was being used as an office.  A desk with a computer on top sat
against one wall.  A couple of filing cabinets and a bookcase stood against another wall.  There
was a fax machine and a copier.

     "Karen, didn't I warn you not to open any doors?"

     "I couldn't help it.  I just had to see what was in here.  What a cool room for an office!  How
many offices have a window like that?  Are you going to spank me?"

     "Yes, I am."

     "Oh, please, Bob.  Don't.  I won't do it again."

     "You won't need to do it again.  You've already earned your spanking."

     "Bob!  No."

    "Sorry. After all, you were warned." Karen had a scarf tied in her hair. I untied it and wrapped it around her eyes, blindfolding her.

    "Bob, don't. I can't see."

    "I know.  That’s why I’m blindfolding you." I scooped her up in my arms and headed off through the house. Karen waggled her legs and squirmed a bit but didn't really struggle very hard. I carried her down to the basement and set her on her feet. Then I untied her hands and retied them in front. I ran the end of the rope over a small hook in the ceiling and tied it off, pulling her arms overhead. I tied her ankles with another piece of rope.

    "This is going to be more than just a few swats over your knee, isn't it," Karen moaned. "I've done it again, haven't I. Most guys at least make love to me a few times before they beat me."

    "We'll get to that soon enough," I said as I unhooked her skirt and let it drop around her ankles. I pulled her panties down and picked up a ruler. "Remember, this was your choice. You were warned not to open that door and what the consequences would be if you did. It required some effort on your part to get it open with your hands tied behind you."

    I swung the ruler. It produced a loud smack and a louder screech from Karen. I didn't spank her anywhere near as hard as I had Rebecca. Even so, I gave her a thorough and competent spanking. Karen screeched and pleaded throughout. She would know she'd been spanked. I finished and pulled her panties back up.

    "Who made these damn rules, anyway," Karen wailed.

    "I did," I said. "This is my house."

    "You bastard! You tricked me."

    "Yes, I did."

    "God damn it. I should have known better than to trust you.  Looking at beautiful old things in the museum, then driving around these old houses, the whole thing was a setup."

    Karen was quick.  I hadn't realized she'd figure it all out quite this fast.  "Before you get yourself too worked up, let's think about this for a moment. Suppose I hadn't tricked you. Suppose I'd called you and said, 'Karen, let's go to the museum then afterwards I'll take you to my house and tie you up and spank you', what would you have said? Would you have said, 'no, I'd rather stay home' or would you have said 'sounds great, take me away'?"

    "I'm not sure."

    While I'd been talking I'd been unbuttoning Karen's blouse. I unhooked her bra. "Not sure, huh. That's revealing in itself. Well, let's be sure," I said, kissing her gently. I rubbed my thumbs lightly over her nipples. "Tell me true," I said, kissing her gently again, smoothing her hair back behind her shoulders. "Would you rather be right here right now or at home."

    "Here," she whispered. "Definitely here. But even if I said 'no' at first, you could have talked me into it."

    "I know that. So let's look at the other side. Suppose you'd said 'Museum! Spanking! How thrilling! I can't wait.'" I had her giggling now. "Wasn't this more fun, more exotic, more romantic? Wasn't it more exciting, walking through this strange house, hands tied behind you, exploring, not really sure if you were even supposed to be here, wondering what was going on, wondering what was behind that door? Would you really have wanted to miss that?"

    "No, I guess not."

    I untied Karen's wrists, then retied them behind her.

    "Wait a minute. I've had my spanking. Don't I get untied now?"

    "Certainly not," I said, picking her up and cradling her in my arms. "What makes you think this little adventure is over? Here you are bound and helpless, being carried off to an unknown fate."

    "I know very well what fate I'm being carried off to," she laughed. "Carry on."

    I set her on her feet in the master bedroom and removed her blindfold. The room was dominated by a huge four poster bed.

    "You're going to tie me to that bed, aren't you."

    I untied Karen and got her out what clothing she still had on. "OK, wench, on the bed. Assume the position."
    Karen hopped onto the bed and lay on her back, spreading her arms and legs toward the bedposts. I tied her down so she was completely immobile then blindfolded her again.

    "Hey, don't I get to watch?"

    "No, when I take your blindfold off it spoils my surprises."

    I slowly undressed, then stood just looking at Karen. The sight of her there was just too wonderful not to demand at least a few moments of rapt contemplation. This was going to take a while. I'd put too much planning and effort into getting her here to let it be over in ten or fifteen minutes. I began slowly exploring her body. I wanted to know all about her. What turned her on? Was she ticklish? What happened if I nibbled her earlobe, nuzzled her neck, gnawed her kneecap? I spent 45 minutes or more stroking, prodding, kissing every part of her body that was exposed in this position. She was extremely ticklish. Finally, I ran my hand up her thigh to her crotch and worked a finger into her. Karen moaned and thrashed. She was more than ready. I climbed on top of her and entered with a sudden thrust. She tossed and screamed, struggling against the ropes. Sated, I rolled off her and untied her. Karen squirmed around for a moment to relieve her cramped muscles, then snuggled up against me.

    "Enjoy your evening so far?" I asked, fishing for compliments.

    "I liked the museum. At first I was really mad that you tricked me, but now I think it was a pretty good trick. It was fun, except for the spanking. I didn't like that part."

    "Then why did you ask for one?"

    "I didn't ask you to spank me."

    "I told you very explicitly under what conditions you would be spanked.  At the first opportunity you fulfilled those requirements."


    "I know what you were doing.  You were testing me.  I drew a line in the sand.  You needed to know if I'd really enforce that line, if I'd really spank you if you crossed it."

    "You're reading my palm again.  Helen told me you'd probably spank me, maybe tie me up, too."

    "Meddlesome woman.  I must have a little talk with her.  But speaking of tying you up, turn over and cross your wrists behind you."


    "Have you forgotten the house rules?  If I don't get you tied up soon I'll have to spank you again."  Karen complied and I bound her wrists and ankles.  She snuggled up against me again.

    "How did you know I liked being tied up?"
    "You do?"  (Oh, Karen, you're a dream come true.)

    "Yes, ever since I was a little girl.  It didn't happen often, though.  It makes me feel secure."

    "You're certainly secured, but I'm not sure that I see how that makes you feel secure."

    "I like the feel of the ropes on my wrists and ankles.  It's like you're holding me and I have to stay where you put me until you come for me."

    This was the first time since I'd lost Meg that I hadn't slept alone. In the morning, we showered together, then made breakfast. I dropped her at her house early enough for her to get to work.

    Another week was dragging by.  I would see Karen again Friday evening.  It had been a long time since I had looked forward to weekends.

    We went to dinner, then a movie. On the way out of the movie, we were in the middle of the crowd bunched up around the exit. I pulled Karen's hands behind her and tied her wrists. Karen looked around nervously, but no one had noticed.

    "I know I said I liked to be tied up, but I didn't mean all the time," Karen complained as I opened the car door for her.

    "But that's the fun part. You are not the one who gets to choose when you are or aren't tied up."

    "Fun for who?"

    "Ask me again later."

    On the way home, we stopped at a small piano bar for a drink, taking a table in the corner just inside the door. Karen's predicament went unnoticed. I decided to make things more interesting.

    "Would you bring a straw for the lady," I asked the waitress when she brought our drinks. "Her hands are tied." This resulted in a really dirty look from Karen. The waitress looked at Karen, trying to decide if it was true or I was putting her on. Karen's back was to the wall and the waitress couldn't see her wrists. She headed off to the bar. I could see her talking to the bartender. They were both eyeing us.

    "Please unwrap it and put it in the drink for her," I said when she came back with the straw. The waitress complied and went away. Both she and the bartender were watching us whenever they weren't busy with anything else. I excused myself and went to the bathroom.

    "I see you're still tied up," I said when I returned.

    "The waitress asked if I was alright and wanted to be untied. I told her I was content as I was."

    "I thought it might be a good idea to let her assure herself that you were OK. I also wanted to see if you would choose to remain bound, although I didn't really have any doubts about that."

    On the way out, I winked at the waitress. She winked back.

    Driving home it finally dawned on me what was going on. I was living out all my unfulfilled fantasies. I had always wanted to take Meg out in public bound but never had. I had always wanted to dress Meg in an outfit like the one I was making the hapless Sharon wear but never had. I think part of it had to do with my age. When I was younger, I had all the time in the world. Meg's passing had made me much more aware of my own mortality. If I was ever going to do any of these things, the time was now. But there was something else. Meg had been the love of my life. She was now gone nearly a year. Her departure had certainly not been her choice; nevertheless, the irrational side of me felt abandoned and angry. I thought perhaps this anger was expressing itself through these fantasies.  "What the hell," that side of me seemed to say.  "What does it matter what I do to these other lesser women?"

    I took Karen to my house. She wanted me to untie her, but I reminded her of the rules. After taking her up to the bedroom, I did untie her long enough to get her undressed. Then I locked leather cuffs on her wrists and ankles.

    "What are those for?"

    "Convenience. You'll also find them more comfortable over the long term than being bound with rope," I told her as I locked her wrist cuffs behind her. I pulled her into bed and once again began a slow exploration of her body. She moaned and purred as I unhurriedly worked her into a state of intense arousal.

    When morning came, I got Karen up, washed her, dressed her, bound her wrists with rope and fed her breakfast. We were just going out the door when the hapless Sharon arrived. (This wasn't Sharon's usual week but the place was a bit of a mess so I'd asked her to make an extra visit.) I introduced Karen and the hapless Sharon and told her to wait for me while I walked Karen to the car.

    I returned to the entry hall and locked the hapless Sharon in her collar.

    "Who was that?"

    "A friend of mine."

    "She had rope marks on her wrists."

    "Yes, she did. You're very observant. Now please do a good job so you won't have to go home with rope marks on your wrists." I returned to the car and drove Karen home.

    When I returned, the hapless Sharon seemed rather pouty and distant. After she finished, I did my usual inspection. She had done the worst job ever.

    "Sharon, I just don't understand. Last week you did such a good job and this week it's terrible."
    "I'm sorry, but sometimes I have things on my mind and it's harder to concentrate. I just don't know what gets into me but..."

    "Sharon, Sharon, hush. Am I going to have to gag you again?"

    "No, sir."

    "Well, I'm afraid this is going to call for a more severe punishment," I said as I pulled her wrists behind her and tied them. I placed her in her former position in the hall. "Now, nose against the wall until I return." I went into the back yard and cut a stout switch from one of the trees. The hapless Sharon eyed the switch fearfully as I led her into the living room. I knelt her in front of an ottoman, removed her shoes and bound her ankles.

    "Now, Sharon, bend over the ottoman." She obeyed and I raised her skirt. "I'm not going to tell you this will hurt me more than it does you. The truth is, it's probably going to hurt you more than a bit." I swung the switch and the hapless Sharon shrieked and burst into tears. By the eighth stroke she was begging me to stop.

    "Please, stop it. Please. I want to go home, I want to go home."

    I untied her ankles, replaced her shoes and helped her up, then led her into the entry hall. I dried her tears then untied her wrists and removed her collar. I opened the door and kissed her gently on the forehead.

    "Goodbye, Sharon. I'm sorry to lose you." The hapless Sharon walked slowly to her car, giving me a last reproachful glance over her shoulder.

    On Tuesday, the hapless Sharon called me in the evening and tearfully asked if she could have her job back. I told her to report on Saturday, but cautioned her that she must still undergo the punishment which she had not completed.

    On Wednesday, I got a call from Rebecca.

    "Bob, you've been avoiding me," she cooed.

    "Thank you for informing me, Rebecca. I hadn't known that."

    "Don't be coy, Bob. When I call for a delivery, you send one of your drivers."

    "Of course I send them. They're delivery drivers. It's their job. If I could run all the calls myself, I wouldn't need them."

    "I don't expect you to run all your calls, just mine."

    I was going to have to be careful. Rebecca was undoubtedly more skilled at this sort of verbal footsie than I was. "Sorry, Rebecca. It doesn't work that way. You haven't sprung any surprises on any of my guys, have you? No, you wouldn't have. I'd definitely have heard about that. By the way, next time you pull your skirt up in front of somebody, you might consider wearing stockings rather than pantyhose. Most guys find stockings more of a turn?on."

    "I know that, Bob," she answered in a low breathy voice. "But I want you to like me for myself, not my stockings."

    I burst out laughing. "I'm glad to know you have a sense of humor about all this. I was worried about that."

    "Thanks a lot. See if I tell you any more jokes."

    "I'll tell you what." I was getting an idea. "Would you like to come to dinner with me?"

    "Yes, I think I would like that."

    "Good. Phone me at home tomorrow at 7:30 PM precisely and I'll give you your instructions."


    "Well, let's say I'll disclose the details of your invitation."

    "I must say, you're definitely different from most of the guys I go out with."

    "So what's typical for you."

    "I get two reactions. They either try unsuccessfully to ignore me or follow me around like puppy dogs until I tire of them."

    "Which do you prefer."

    "I think I'll answer that by pointing out I'm still single."

    "I see. And do you leave any of them happier than you found them?"

    "I fear not."

    "Well, don't forget. Tomorrow night at 7:30. Goodbye Rebecca."

    "Goodbye, Bob," she replied with just a little too much syrup in her voice.
    That evening, I gave the hapless Sharon a call. "Sharon, rather than clean the house Saturday, I'd like you to do a special job for me. If you agree, I'll grant you a pardon on the spanking you have coming." I gave her a rundown on what I wanted.

    "OK, I'll do it. It might even be fun. I'm glad you're getting your sense of humor back. You've been so morose and stern since Meg died that I was sort of worried about you."

    "Thank you, Sharon. I appreciate your concern. So, six o'clock on Saturday then." Me, morose? Hmm.

    Rebecca called at 7:30 PM as instructed. "Hello, Rebecca. I wasn't sure I'd hear from you."

    "I must admit to being intrigued. You're being very mysterious. So what are these details or instructions or whatever."

    "I want you to come to my house for dinner on Saturday. You are to arrive at precisely 7:00 PM. Ring the doorbell once, then step inside. You will be in the entry hall. Put your purse on the side table, on the doily, not on the wood. There is a medallion style oriental rug on the floor. Stand precisely in the center of the medallion, feet together and clasp your hands behind you and wait until you are escorted inside. Do not enter the main part of the house. Did you get all that?"

    "I think so."

    "Repeat it back to me, please."

    "You want me to arrive at seven, ring the bell once, and stand at attention in the middle of the rug with my hands clasped behind me until you come for me."

    "Good. Now don't forget. By the way, this is a formal occasion so dress appropriately."

    "And what would you consider appropriate?"

    "I assume you have a little black dress in your inventory. That would do nicely. Gloves would not be out of place."

    "I see. It all sounds pretty weird, but intriguing. I'll be there."

    "I'm looking forward to it, Rebecca."

    Friday I took Karen out again. Afterward, I took her back to my house, tied her up and took her to bed. I was beginning to fear we were getting into a rut, although as ruts go this was probably as good as it gets. Saturday morning, we went out for breakfast then I did some shopping with her and took her home.

    Saturday evening, the hapless Sharon arrived on time at six. I prepared her, instructed her on exactly what I wanted her to do and say, then she helped me get dinner in the oven. We waited for Rebecca to arrive.

    At seven, the doorbell rang once. I waited until five after, then went to retrieve Rebecca. I opened the doors to the entry hall. Rebecca was standing there exactly as specified.

    "No, don't move," I told her. "I want to look at you. You've arrived looking so beautiful the least you can do is give me a moment to admire." She was wearing a black dress, cut low both in front and back. It ended just above her knees. Over the elbow opera gloves, black pumps, suntan hose, an amethyst necklace with matching earrings and brooch completed her ensemble.

    I had dressed as well. I was wearing my tux, double breasted with tails and striped pants. It was an outfit from the twenties I'd found in a junk store for ten bucks. It was in perfect condition and I'd had it tailored. It went well with the house.

    I completed my inspection of Rebecca. "This time I like what I see. Please come in," I said, offering my hand.

    "This is quite a place. I wasn't expecting anything like this. No wonder you wanted me to dress up."

    "Let me get you something to drink, then I'll give you a tour."

    "Sharon," I called, "attend."

    The hapless Sharon emerged from the far end of the hall. She was wearing her usual outfit and collar. Leather cuffs were locked on her wrists and ankles. Her ankle cuffs were linked by a short length of chain, severely limiting her stride. Step, step, step, she approached taking short quick steps, her ankle chain taut then slack then snapping taut again with each step. Rebecca stared at her, then stared at me.

    "What would you like to drink?"

    "Oh...uh...a vodka collins would be fine."

    "Sharon, a vodka collins. Bring me the usual."

    "Yes, Mr. Baxter."

    "Sharon!" I said sharply, glaring.

    "Oh, I'm sorry. I won't do it again."

    "I think a reminder is in order.”

     “Please, no...”

 “See to it.”

    "Yes, sir." She said and headed off.

    "She called you Mr. Baxter, but your name is Canfield," Rebecca said.

    "You and I know that. She does not. I hope you will be so kind as not to disillusion her."

    The hapless Sharon returned bearing a silver tray with two frosted glasses and a short stack of napkins. She was gagged, a ballgag being buckled tightly around her head and padlocked in back.

    "She's ga...She wasn't supposed to call you by name, was she."

    "It's quite alright. As you can see, the immediate problem has been corrected. I can address her inadequacies in greater depth at a later time." The hapless Sharon cast her eyes down and shivered as I said this.

    I took a drink and a napkin from the tray and handed them to Rebecca, then picked up my own. "Thank you, Sharon. That will be all for now." She shuffled off toward the kitchen.

    I led Rebecca on a tour of the house. "You'll have to see it in the daytime," I told her, "when the sun is up the windows are beautiful."

    "I had no idea you lived in such a place. Servants and everything. Has she been with you long?"

    "Now you know what becomes of my former lovers."

    "Normally I'd know that was a joke. It's a joke, right?"

    "We'll let you find out the hard way, shall we." I noticed Rebecca wasn't drinking her drink.
 "You don't need to worry about the drink. It isn't drugged," I said, taking her chin between my thumb and forefinger, tilting her face up toward mine. "I want you conscious and fully aware of your circumstances, not drugged."

    "You sound like you're trying to frighten me."

    "Sorry. Sometimes I get carried away."

    "Well stop it. You're succeeding."

    A bell tinkled from the direction of the dining room. "It sounds like dinner is served." I offered Rebecca my arm. The leaves had been removed from the table so that it was at its smallest size. Two places were set, one at the head of the table and one at the adjoining corner. I seated Rebecca at the corner seat and sat down at the head. "You may begin, Sharon."

    The hapless Sharon served the soup and salad, then stood at attention next to the door. When we finished, she cleared the bowls away and brought the main course, steak and lobster.

    "Well," said Rebecca, "there was certainly no need to go to a restaurant. I don't know of anywhere that could match the food or service."

    "We have Sharon to thank for that. She's very talented." Dinner progressed. Rebecca and I talked small talk and the hapless Sharon attended to our needs. When we finished, the hapless Sharon brought Rebecca a small dish of sherbet. "Dessert," I told her.

    Rebecca was nearly finished when she realized I wasn't eating. "Aren't you having dessert?"
    "Yes, I am. Mine is nearly ready," I told her as she finished.

    "Oh? What are you having?"

    "You, of course. Sharon, please prepare Miss Collins."

    The hapless Sharon walked up behind her. "Please cooperate with Sharon. She's only doing her job and things will go much more smoothly that way." Sharon pulled Rebecca's arms gently behind her and locked a pair of handcuffs on her wrists.

    I had caught Rebecca by surprise. She knew I was up to something but had been lulled into complacency by the dinner. She had felt safe as long as she was at the table.

    The hapless Sharon buckled a collar similar to her own around Rebecca's neck, locking it in place.

    "Bob, aren't you going a bit overboard here," Rebecca complained. "Please, I can't see." A leather blindfold was being buckled on.

    "That's intentional. You've been blindfolded."

    "I don't like it. I want you to take it off."

    "Rebecca, please be silent. You're only making things more difficult."

    "Bob, this is crazy. Let me go."

    "Rebecca, I asked you to be quiet. Sharon, will you please gag Miss Collins."

    "No, don't," Rebecca gasped as she turned her head from side to side trying to avoid the ball Sharon was trying to force into her mouth. "I don't want to be gagged."

    "Now, Rebecca, Sharon is gagged and none the worse for it. It won't hurt you either."

    "No, stop it. I want out of here. Let me go. I said don't. Dammit, let me go."

    "Sharon, please lead Miss Collins to the door. I'll meet you there in a moment and release her."

    The hapless Sharon led Rebecca away. I waited a moment, then met them at the door. I removed Rebecca's blindfold.

    "Oh, we are at the door. I wasn't sure that was really where she led me."

    "It's alright, Rebecca. I'm going to send you home," I said as I removed her collar.

    "Sharon, please clear the table." The hapless Sharon departed. I pulled Rebecca to me and gave her a lingering kiss. "I'm sorry you won't be staying. I was looking forward to entertaining you further." I picked her up and carried her out to her car, then set her on her feet and unlocked her handcuffs. I opened her door. "Goodnight, Rebecca. Please remember to drive carefully."

    Back in the house, I removed the hapless Sharon's gag and handed her a glass of wine. "Thank you, Sharon. You did a wonderful job. I'm very pleased," I told her as she sipped the wine, clearing the taste of the gag from her mouth.

    "I know you scared her away on purpose, but it seems like you might be a little bit disappointed that she's gone."

    "Yeah, a night with Rebecca would have been fun."

    "If you want to, maybe... I mean, I know I'm not as pretty as she is, but if you want to, now that she's gone...I could...I mean if you want me to I could take her place, if you'd like maybe you could do to me what you were going to do to her...if you want to."

    I was taken aback by her proposal. "Thank you, Sharon, but..." I stopped. Sharon had stammered forth her proposal with great difficulty. I suddenly realized her halting manner was not the result of reluctance to do what she was suggesting but rather fear of rejection, which I had been on the verge of doing. "'re wrong. You're quite as pretty as Rebecca. Now finish your wine. You have a long night ahead of you."

    Sharon (suddenly she was no longer the hapless Sharon) finished her glass of wine. I took the empty glass from her fingers then backed her against the wall and kissed her. I began unbuttoning her blouse. "As much as I like you in this outfit, I think I'll like you out of it as well." I got Sharon out of her blouse and bra, then fastened her wrists behind her. I pulled a short length of chain from my pocket and clipped the center of it to her collar. The ends dangled between her breasts.

    "What's that?"

    "Hasn't anyone ever put nipple clamps on you?"

    "No. Do they hurt?"

    "If done right they hurt just enough."

    I teased her nipples to hardness. Sharon inhaled sharply as each clamp went on. "Come with me." Sharon followed slowly and carefully. Walking was difficult enough with her ankles chained and her wrists fastened behind her but she also had the problem of the dangling chain tugging on her nipple clamps with each step. Eventually, I got her up to the bedroom where I removed her shoes and skirt.

    "Well, how do you like them?"

    "They sort of hurt, but it's not like it's really painful. It's more like I want to squeeze them even harder and make them hurt more except hurt isn't quite the right word. I can't really explain it."

    "Sounds like I got them adjusted about right. I'm going to take them off now. That does hurt, but you are to make no sound."

    "Yes, sir."

    Sharon grimaced as I removed the clamps but remained silent. I slid her panties down her legs and she stepped out of them.

    "On the bed," I told her. "No, no, face down. Good." I grasped her ankles and pulled her down toward the foot of the bed so her ankles rested on the footboard. With a piece of rope, I bound each ankle to the footboard so they were about two feet apart. "I'm afraid you're going to get that spanking after all. You don't have to remain silent for this one, but I am going to gag you. Open up." I stuffed the ball in her mouth and buckled the straps.

    I took my belt off, doubled it over, and gave Sharon a good hard stroke. Bound as she was, Sharon could only thrash a bit from side to side (which she did with vigor) but to no avail. She was exposed and helpless. I spanked her until I was finished spanking her.

    I untied her ankles, turned her over, and removed her gag. Kissing away her tears, I stroked her thighs lightly with my hand, then mounted her.

    When we were finished, I hooked her ankle cuffs together. "Are you going to keep me tied up?"

    "All night," I told her. "Tell me, what changed your mind?"

    "About what?"

    "The first time I locked your collar on you, you made it clear that you were only here to clean the house."

    "That outfit you made me wear was sort of sexy especially with the collar and everything and I'd never really dressed like that before and with wearing it in front of you it made me all self conscious and then sometimes I'd see you looking at me and you never really looked at me like that before in fact you hardly ever looked at me at all before. Then when you would punish me for not doing a good job I was embarrassed and didn't like it except that I liked the attention and when you made me stand with my nose against the wall and you touched me and moved me around so I had to stand just the way you wanted me to, it was like my insides were melting and making this big ball in my stomach and then you tied my hands and it was even worse and I was afraid you were going to do something but you didn't and that made it even worse yet. When I came here tonight I was really embarrassed to be dressed like this and chained and gagged in front of another woman and then I had to serve you and everything and when I put the handcuffs on her I imagined I was putting them on myself and I thought for sure you would see my hands were shaking but then she left and I was afraid that if I didn't say anything you would send me away too so I'm glad I said something but I was so embarrassed and I would have felt really awful if you had sent me home then."

    "So why did you go home when you got spanked and why did you come back?"

    "It really hurt a lot and I just couldn't stand it and besides the way you tied me up and made me kneel down and bend over that ottoman and then you pulled my skirt up and spanked me just like a little girl was so embarrassing and it made me feel so bad I just had to cry and I just had to make it stop and get away. I could hardly sit on the car seat on the way home and when I got there it still really hurt and I was so mad at you for doing that to me that I was never coming back but then the next day I realized I wasn't coming back and I knew I wouldn't have any reason to wear that outfit anymore and you wouldn't look at me the way you do anymore and you wouldn't put me in my collar anymore and I have mixed up feelings about wearing it but I like it when you put it on me in fact I like it anytime when you touch me except for the spanking so I thought about it and then called you the next day and you told me you I would have to finish the spanking and I was afraid but I knew I'd let you do it and then I realized if I came over here I'd let you do anything you wanted and I wouldn't be able to stop you because I wouldn't be able to stop myself so here I am."

    "Sharon, you haven't spent near enough of your life gagged."

    "Oh, you mean I talk too much. I suppose I do but it's just the way I am and I can't help it but I do it more when I'm nervous and you make me nervous so...I'm doing it again, aren't I. Are you going to gag me?"

    "No, I don't want you falling asleep with the gag in but if you speak again before morning I'll think of some devious punishment to inflict upon you."

    In the morning we showered and dressed. I locked Sharon in her collar again.

    "You know," she said, "I could probably do a better job on the house if I came every Saturday."

    "Alright, every Saturday then."

    It was a beautiful morning and not hot yet so we ate on the front porch. When we finished, I kissed her, removed her collar and sent her on her way.

    After she was gone, I sat on the porch for a while, just thinking. My first thought was 'two down, two to go'. Helen shouldn't be too difficult. She'd certainly hinted at her willingness. Rebecca was now an unknown. I didn't know how badly I'd frightened her, but I was sure I was now in a different category in her mind. I'd probably been reclassified from potential paramour to major wacko. Oh, well, three out of four isn't bad. I gave Helen a call.

    "Hi, Helen, it's Bob."

    "Yes, it is. I was wondering if I'd hear from you again."

    "I wanted to let you know I've changed my mind. Perhaps you'd be willing to come by for dinner. I have some nice vegetarian hamburgers."

    "What are they, soy?"

    "No, beef. They're made from vegetarian cows."
    "Bob, all cows are vegetarian."

    "That's how you can be sure it's the real thing."

    "Did you call just to fuck with my head?"

    "That's all I have access to at the moment, but if you'd come over I could expand my horizons."

    "Let me see if I understand. You've changed your mind so you want me to come over to your house so you can feed me vegetarian beef then tie me up and fuck my brains out. I don't think I've ever been asked out quite like that before."

    "You left out the spanking. The one I gave you last time really didn't amount to much and I'm anxious to give you a proper one."

    "You're having trouble getting the hang of this dating thing, aren't you."

    "How 'bout around six."

    "Well, forget the hamburgers. I wouldn't mind a nice white wine."

    "I'm looking forward to your appearance."

    "I'll try to remember to bring it with me."

    The doorbell rang at exactly six. Women these days were not only unusually willing but uncannily prompt. I opened the door and Helen stepped in.

    "There is one thing before we leave the entry hall..."

    "Yes, I know about the rules. Karen told me. I prefer rope, please."

    "Karen told you about that day?" I asked as I bound her wrists.

    "Yes, she was actually rather thrilled with the little trick you played on her."

    "I thought you didn't carry tales."

    "I was pretty sure you already knew about the trick you played on Karen."

    "I was afraid she was still sort of pissed about that."

    "Once she realized your intent was to entertain rather than deceive, she was flattered that you went to all the trouble."

    I opened the inner doors and we entered the main hall.

    "I can see Karen didn't do the place justice. This is very nice."

    Meg and I had bought the house because it was beautiful. I had never dreamed it would also be useful for seduction. I gave Helen the tour, then got a bottle of wine and some glasses and led her to the front porch. I retied Helen's hands in front and handed her a glass of wine.

    "I thought I had to have my hands tied behind me."

    "We aren't in the house."

    "Then why am I tied at all?"

    "I like you that way."

    "Have you ever thought about why that is?"

    "I make a point of not thinking about that."

    "What if I didn't like it?"

    "Then you wouldn't be here, would you."


    We finished the wine. "OK, Helen, time for the main event," I tied her hands behind her and led her back into the house then up to the bedroom, then untied her long enough to get her undressed. I tied her to the bed as I had Sharon, face down with her hands behind her and her ankles bound about two feet apart to the footboard, her feet hanging over the end.

    "Now what?"

    "Now you get your spanking, but first you have to ask for it."

    "You want me to ask you to spank me?"

    "I want you to ask me to spank you really hard."

    "Good luck."

    I began tickling Helen's feet. She giggled and gurgled and shrieked, but I was relentless.

    "Oh, Bob, don't. Stop it. You're driving me crazy. I can't stand being tickled."

    "You know what you have to do."

    "Alright," she gasped between shrieks, "alright. Spank me, spank me. PLEASE spank me. Spank me really hard."
    I gave her a few minutes to catch her breath, then retrieved the switch I had cut for Sharon.

    "Oh, god, you are going to spank me really hard, aren't you."

    "I told you you were a meddlesome wench. You're lucky you don't have to spend the week in a scold's bridle, but for now I'm just going to gag you. You've been noisy enough already."

    Helen opened her mouth and I pushed the ball in and buckled the strap. I began Helen's spanking. I was pretty sure I wasn't the first person to spank her, but I gave her what may well have been the spanking of her life. She screamed into the gag and thrashed helplessly.

    I untied her ankles and removed her gag, then dried her tears with a small handkerchief. I had never spanked Meg hard enough to make her cry, but since her death, I had spanked four different women and made them all cry. Had Meg been unusually tough or was I overdoing it?

    "I think you're overdoing it," Helen sobbed.

    "It's OK," I told her, kissing her gently. "It's over, and you've been persuaded of the error of your ways and have resolved not to earn another."

    Helen nearly choked. "I think you're the first person to make me laugh and cry at the same time; but you scared me. I was afraid you were out of control for a minute there."

    "I am always in control.  Always."

    "So you say."

    I slowly explored Helen's body, trying to discover all its little secrets. She sighed when I kissed her neck and yelped when I bit her nipples. Finally I worked her into what I considered the proper state of readiness and proceeded, to the best of my ability, to fuck her brains out.

    "I know what you're thinking," she said. "You're worried about how this will affect your relationship with Karen and how to call things off with me without hurting my feelings. It's not a problem. We're friends, not lovers. It's like we had to do this to find out about each other, but having done it, the pressure is off. We can be friends now without thinking about what it would be like with the other person. Sex between us is recreational, not serious. Maybe we'll do this again sometime, but I don't see it in the near future."

    "You're very wise. I understand why Karen likes to talk to you."

    "Have you ever heard back from Rebecca?"

    I hadn't planned on telling Helen anything about my last contact with Rebecca but found myself telling her the whole story. Helen giggled throughout.

    "I'm sorry I let you off the hook a moment ago," she laughed. "It would be a lot of fun to see what antics you would dream up to make me go away."
    I crossed Helen's ankles and tied them together. We drifted off to sleep.

    Helen woke me about five in the morning. When I was fully conscious, she dived under the sheet and gave me a blow job.

    "A parting gift. Now untie me. I've got to do some things at home before I go to work." I helped Helen dress and saw her to her car.

    Sometime during the morning, Laura, my receptionist and bookkeeper came into my office. "I've got some strange woman on the phone who wants to speak to Mr. Baxter. I've told her there's no Mr. Baxter here, but she insists. I'm not sure what to do with her."

    "I'll take care of it. What line is she on?"


    "Hello, Rebecca. I'm a bit surprised to hear from you so soon."

    "That was a really dirty trick you played on me Saturday. It makes me angry that I fell for it, but nobody had ever pulled anything quite that elaborate on me before. Whose house did you use and where did you find Sharon? She was very convincing."

    "It was my house, Rebecca. Sharon is my regular housekeeper."

    "Damn, I did it again, and I was determined to stop underestimating you."

    "Thank you for the admission. Coming from you, it's very gratifying. So tell me, why have you called."

    "For one thing, I wanted you to know I didn't stay fooled. About half way home I realized I'd been had. I can't believe I ran away like that."

    "You shouldn't be too hard on yourself. You're probably used to guys pursuing you, not running you off. I'd counted on that."

    "Yes, but just the same, you made quite a fool of me."

    "You're looking for a rematch, aren't you."

    "That's as good a way as any of putting it."

    "OK, we'll go for two out of three. Call me at home tomorrow evening at 7:30."

    "Not this crap again."

    "Rebecca, you're used to being a seller in a seller's market. You're now in a buyer's market. You've got to learn about dropping your price."
    "Dropping my ... You do have a way with suggestive metaphors."

    "I'm glad you understand. Tomorrow. 7:30. Goodbye, Rebecca."

    The phone rang at the appointed time.

    "Hello, Rebecca. I'm glad to hear from you. I wasn't entirely sure you'd call."

    "It's nice to know I'm not being completely taken for granted. What would you have done if I hadn't called?"

    "I'd have said 'Oh, well' and gone on with life. What would you have done if you hadn't called?"

    "Felt like I'd given up and let you win. So what's it to be this time."

    "Same thing. Come to my house..."

    "Your turf again. You want home court advantage..."

    "Would you prefer your house? What about your daughters?"

    "I was thinking neutral ground."

    "You mean a motel or something? Tawdry. No, my house it is. Sharon won't be there. It'll be just you and me, one on one."

    "OK. When?"

    "Thursday night, 7:30. Same drill, ring the bell once then stand on the middle of the rug. Wear exactly what you wore last time."

    "You liked that, didn't you. OK. I'll be there. You won't get rid of me so easily this time."

    "Give yourself some credit. It wasn't all that easy last time and I had help. I was rather disappointed when I succeeded."

    "This is about the weirdest thing I've ever gotten myself into. I'm not entirely sure where this is going."

    "I'm not sure it matters where it's going.  The journey is more than half the fun. The destination is likely to be anticlimactic."

    "Very sage. Well, we'll just have to see about all that."

    "We will, won't we."

    Rebecca arrived as specified. She hadn't worn the same thing but she looked even more delightful than last time. She'd bought new shoes and had a new hairdo. Her gloves were cerise instead of black. Her jewelry this evening was set with rubies. If they were real (and I suspected they were) they represented a considerable investment, although not necessarily by her ("Don't be nasty, Bob.  If you can't say anything nice..."  "Quiet, mom, I'm busy".). Upon closer inspection I saw she was wearing a new dress as well. It was similar to the previous one but a little tighter fitting with a slit on the side about half way up the thigh. It was obvious that this encounter was a bigger deal to her than I had thought. She'd had her hair done and bought a whole new outfit. It struck me that I had no idea what game she was playing. I'd been cruising along playing my own game with Rebecca with little or no thought as to where she might be headed. No help for it now. I would just have to go on playing my game. It might or might not mesh with Rebecca's. I was uncertain of the consequences in either case.

    "Rebecca, you've outdone yourself. Once again, you're just going to have to stand there so I can look at you." I walked slowly around her. There was much to admire. Rebecca was skillful and knew how to amplify her already considerable beauty.

    "So what's on the agenda this evening?"

    "We pick up where we left off," I said as I tightened the handcuffs down over her gloves. "If I remember correctly you were handcuffed and blindfolded and about to be gagged."

    "I thought you were done with that act. I was hoping for something more original."

    "When you left last time, I was denied my dessert. Now that I have another opportunity I intend to enjoy every last morsel. You do look delicious."

    "I really didn't expect anything quite this corny. Are you going to uncuff me? You certainly can't be expecting me to take this seriously."

    "Not yet, but you will. You didn't quite figure the whole thing out. The best disguise is no disguise. What I pretended to want to do to you last time is what I actually wanted. Sharon was there to help convince you it was an act.  And you don't have to be worried about running away this time.  It will not be permitted."

    "So what are you going to do to me."

    "As I said, I intend to enjoy my dessert. You're going to experience pleasure, apprehension, surprise, embarrassment, pain, ecstasy, fear, relief, release, and anything else I can think of. I intend to taste each of your flavors."

    "What about boredom?"("Don't you be nasty, Rebecca."  "MOM, knock it off.")

    "That's first on the list. I wanted to get that one over with." I locked a collar on Rebecca and led her into the main hall.

    "One thing before I put your blindfold on." I slapped her. Not hard, just enough to sting a bit. "Just tasting. Surprise, a pinch of pain, perhaps a dash of fear." I buckled her blindfold on. She stiffened. "And now apprehension as you're blindfolded. You are a most flavorful woman, Rebecca. I wonder if I could possibly be skillful enough to make you enjoy this night as much as I will. Now open wide, it's time you were gagged."

    "No, I don't want to be gagged, Bob. I hate that."

    "Kneel down," I said, pushing her to her knees. I took her head between my hands and tilted her face up toward mine. "Listen to me, Rebecca," I said softly, "ten minutes from now, you will already have been gagged for several minutes. You now have the opportunity to choose how we get there from here, but that opportunity is rapidly slipping away. Choose." Rebecca hesitated a bit, then slowly opened her mouth. I buckled the gag in place.

    "Defiance, followed by submission. Sour and then sooo sweet. How can I stand it?" I gazed upon her kneeling before me, gagged and submissive, so beautiful. How, indeed, could I stand it?

    I helped her up. "Come with me." I guided her toward the back of the house. "I'm going to carry you down the steps, since they would be dangerous in your current condition." I carried her to the basement and set her on her feet in my special room then locked leather cuffs on her ankles and hooked them together and removed her shoes. I dangled a rope from the ceiling and hooked it to the link joining her handcuffs.

    "It's time for the boredom I promised you. I'll return for you later. In my absence I want you to think about three things. First, I want you to think about the fact that you came here voluntarily and that your current predicament is a result of your own choices." As I spoke, I pulled the rope attached to her handcuffs. Her wrist rose up her back until she had to bend over to relieve the tension. I continued until she was standing on her toes. "Second, I want you to think about the fact that although you got here by your own choice, you no longer have choices. No matter what you do, you will be here exactly like this when I return for you. Thirdly, I want you to wonder when that will be and what will happen when I do. By then you will have been here long enough to lose sense of time and you won't know whether you have been here for an hour or many hours or longer."

    Rebecca was making noises but they were unintelligible through the gag. She finally realized this and desisted. "Yes, I know it's uncomfortable. Boredom is so bland, so I've added some spice. You have your thoughts for salt and your discomfort for pepper. Enjoy." I left the room and went upstairs and stomped around so she could hear, then returned noiselessly and sat in the doorway, watching her. I intended to savor every moment of Rebecca. I was fascinated, not bored. She danced about a bit on her toes, occasionally lowering her heels to the floor to rest her legs then rising to her toes again to relieve her arms. I was entranced by the lines of tension in her body and how they would shift as she raised and lowered her heels.

    I left her there about thirty minutes. With the blindfold, the silence, and the discomfort of her condition, she would have lost all track of time. I walked noisily into the room. She turned her head toward me, about the only response possible at the moment. There were two vertical 4x4's (lumber, not vehicles) in the room about three feet apart. I fastened a pair of stocks horizontally between them, creating a pillory.

    I released the rope suspending Rebecca's wrists. She slowly straightened up. I unlocked her handcuffs, then removed her blindfold and gag. She saw the pillory, glanced quickly toward the door. I was between her and the door. She was still too stiff to put up much of a fight anyway. She sighed. "How long will you keep me locked in that?"

    Fear, hope, resignation in rapid succession. Very tasty. "However long it takes. This is not a timed event. Now it's time to remove your dress. It seems a shame. I like you in it very much, but we must peel back the next layer. Take it off, please." Rebecca demurely removed her dress. "Now the bra." She removed it even more bashfully. It was an act. She was teasing me. She knew she was beautiful.  Pride, coquetry, combined with desire.  She blended them so perfectly they were nearly indistinguishable as separate flavors.  Her breasts were as lovely as I had imagined. I wrapped my arms around her and kissed her, sampling the broth she had blended. She pressed herself against me. Her hand sought my crotch and wrapped itself around my erection and began stroking.

    "Oh, no you don't." Rebecca was an experienced woman. She knew an orgasm on my part would diminish my resolve and blow the whole setup.  She was seizing her chance to take control of her situation. I took her by the shoulders and turned her away from me, guiding her toward the pillory. I raised the top board and Rebecca reluctantly placed her neck in the center notch. I positioned her wrists alongside her neck and lowered the top section, locking it in place. The stocks were just slightly above waist level so that Rebecca was bent over at a ninety degree angle. She wiggled her hands about experimentally exploring the helplessness of her position.  I stepped behind her, pulled her panties down, and worked a vibrator into her, turning it on low. She moaned, then yelped as I began working a smaller greased vibrator into her anus.

    "No, not there. Don't. Stop it."

    "Surely a woman of your experience has been taken anally before."

    "No, I haven't. Not ever. Stop it. NO!"

    "I suppose it will be embarrassing to lose your anal virginity to an implement, but that's how it will be." Rebecca struggled, but didn't really have anywhere to go. I finally got it worked into her and turned both vibrators to medium and pulled her panties back up. I gave the vibrators a couple of minutes to work their magic on her, then applied the nipple clamps. They were much tighter than the ones I'd used on Sharon. They were intended to cause pain and each had a small weight dangling from it. Rebecca squawked loudly as each clamp bit down.  Pain, anger, humiliation, despair, all being slowly overcome by the expanding pleasure emanating from the vibrators. So  flavorful.  I ran my hands over her breasts, her back, her legs, just wanting to touch her, to feel every bit of her body.   I knew that as she approached climax, the effect of the nipple clamps would be to heighten her orgasm. The pain wouldn't really convert to pleasure, but would somehow intensify it.

    I walked back around in front of her and unzipped my fly. "You can't be a virgin at this end." I guided her mouth to the end of my cock. I was right about that.  She performed very well and enthusiastically despite her distractions. A few minutes after she finished with me, she exploded in an orgasm that left her shrieking and jerking in the stocks.

    I removed the vibrators and clamps then released Rebecca from the stocks. She slowly unkinked her back, then stood quietly while I locked leather cuffs on her wrists and fastened them  behind her. I snapped a leash on her collar. "Come, Rebecca. It's time for the next course." I led her up to the bedroom, then removed her panties. She now wore only her gloves and stockings. I found this incredibly sexy. She would spend the rest of her visit in this outfit. After I unhooked her wrists, I positioned her sitting at the head of the bed and fastened a heavy chain from her collar to the headboard.

    "Now, Rebecca, I want you to play with yourself."


    "Masturbate. I'm sure you know how."


    "Don't worry about the gloves, I'll buy you a new pair."


    "OK, I know what's wrong. This is not nearly embarrassing enough." I opened the closet door, pulled out a video camera on a tripod and focused it on Rebecca.

    "Oh, my god."

    "Proceed, if you please."

    "NO! Absolutely not."

    I crawled onto the bed, my face inches from hers. "Rebecca, we will either make this video, or we will make one of you being fucked in the ass then performing a blow job."

    "Oh, god, please don't make me."

    "NOW, Rebecca."

    She licked the finger of her glove till it was moist, then slowly worked it into herself. Tears were streaming down her cheeks. Her humiliation combined with her submission to produce a salty piquant taste, like barbecue sauce. After a few minutes her tears were gone and she was breathing hard. In a few more minutes, she was lying on her back, legs splayed, panting, shrieking, and flopping about. The barbecue sauce was replaced by the sweet frosting of her pleasure. I turned off the camera.

    "That was glorious, Rebecca." I opened the camera. There was no tape in it. She burst into laughter. The sound of her laughter was so light and bubbly. Champagne. I kissed her, trying to inhale the bubbles, running my hands over her body again and again.

    I rolled Rebecca onto her stomach, fastening her hands behind her, then pulled her down the bed and tied her ankles to the footboard as I had Sharon and Helen. She lay there, her arms encased in the bright colored gloves and bound behind her, her stocking clad feet bound to and hanging over the footboard. Oh, yumm! I began tickling. After a few moments, her laughter took on a hysterical tinge. This wine lacked the bubbles of her previous laughter. It was darker, drier, and more intoxicating. I kept on and on, Rebecca laughing, choking, gasping, pleading. I did eventually stop when I thought I had exhausted her endurance. I freed her hands, then I lay down beside her, kissing her shoulders and neck, slowly tracing the outline of her back with my finger. She finally caught her breath and purred as I gently stroked and kissed her.

    Time for tabasco. I locked her wrists behind her again, her ankles still bound to the footboard. I connected a short chain from her wrists to her collar, pulling her wrists high up her back, away from her butt, then blindfolded her.

    "You're going to spank me now, aren't you."


    "It's going to hurt a lot, isn't it."

    "Yes, a lot."

    "Is there any way to talk you out of it?"


    I had purchased two cane switches for the occasion. I got them out of the dresser. I ran the tip of one over Rebecca's body, tracing her feet and ankles, her legs, her butt, brushing it along her skin ever so lightly. I paused.  She was afraid now and I tasted her fear, bitter, pungent.  Then I began. Rat?tat?tat. With a switch in each hand, I beat a rapid tattoo on her backside. She jerked and thrashed but was utterly helpless. I worked my way down her legs to the soles of her feet and back again. I drank in her screams. They were bourbon, burning as they rolled down my throat and warmed my innards. They drove me on. I couldn't get enough, gulping them down, afraid one would escape me. Finally, she stopped screaming and just lay there. She had crossed some kind of threshold. For a moment I thought she was unconscious, but I was wrong.

    I released her and dabbed at her tears, but new ones appeared as fast as I wiped the old ones. She clung to me, quivering. She hated me, she loved me, she needed me, she feared me, she wanted to run away, she couldn't let go. The complex of emotions emanated from her and washed over me.  So, so delicious. I began licking the tears from her face. I kissed her eyes, her mouth. She clung tighter. I laid her carefully on her back and locked her wrists together. Raising them over her head, I clipped them to the headboard. I sucked her nipple into my mouth, thrust at it with my tongue, then bit down just enough. I kissed her ankles, her knees, her thighs. I explored every inch of her body. This was a sorbet, a cleansing of the palate. Slowly, slowly, I worked Rebecca over, preparing her for the final course.

    I thrust into Rebecca, bathing in the sounds of her orgasm.  This was the nectar, the ambrosia I had been in pursuit of.  It left me drained, exhausted, shattered.  I had tasted all of her flavors, inhaled, imbibed, and absorbed all she had to offer.  Why wasn't it enough?   My earlier comment had proved prophetic. The destination was anticlimactic compared to the journey. I unhooked her wrists and she rolled against me. I held her to me all the night, inhaling her perfume and watching the experience of this night slowly recede into the past like standing on the track watching a train roll away.

    In the morning I saw her to the door.

    "Goodbye, Bob. I won't be back."

    "I know." I kissed her. "Have a good life."

    "You, too." We both knew we had created an emotional cuisine that we would never be able to duplicate. Better to cherish the recollection than trash it by bungling an attempted repeat. I watched her walk to her car in those clothes. Part of me wanted to run out and drag her back, but I knew better. Whatever games we had been playing had meshed for a night and now we were once again spinning off each in our own direction.

    Friday night I took Karen out again. Karen had been the one I really wanted, the one I was trying to build a relationship with. We went out, had dinner, etc. I took her home with me as usual, tied her up, fucked her. The evening was somehow flat, lacking in zest. No spices, no flavor.

    Had Rebecca done it again? Left one more man just a bit more miserable than she'd found him?

    Sharon was just arriving when I returned from taking Karen home. I decided to make things more interesting. I gagged her and made her clean the house in nipple clamps and ankle chain. When she finished, I took her to bed, spanked her, fucked her, and sent her home. No good. It just wasn't exciting the way it used to be.

    Sunday, I sat and tried to review my situation. I thought about calling Helen, but wasn't really interested. The thought of calling Rebecca generated slightly more interest, but I didn't. I knew how foolish that would be.

    I was now having sex with two different women on a regular basis and could probably call in a third if the first two needed reinforcements. Why was I bored? Why wasn't I happy?  I'd been content with only one woman when Meg was alive.  I'd been happy then.  Why had she left me?

    I had a box of M?80's in the basement. If I blew the door off my locker the therapists would come and save me.

Copyright 1999