Two time zones away, at the same time the Compound was starting its day, Rhianna Anderson woke up. Blurry eyes blinked slowly as she stirred under the thick bed covers.
She tried to reach up to rub her eyes, but found her hands still bound behind her. She was so used to sleeping like that at home there was almost no discomfort from this position.
Rhianna grunted and rubbed her face against the pillow, then sat up to look for Matthew. She saw she was alone in the room. With a sigh, she realized she was also still naked under the covers, and she lay back, annoyed at being left here. No way in hell was she going to wander around THIS house in this condition looking for him. She could feel something on her thighs, and some tentative rubbing told her that the leftovers of their lovemaking were still on her.
She sighed, remembering the passion of the night before, right after she had told...Rhianna turned and buried her head in the pillow. She remembered telling Matthew about her father. Why she hadn't told her family about him, why she hadn't come here before going back to Colorado to live with him, and why she didn't want him to come here with her on this very trip! Matthew had gotten all that out of her in between their couplings, and Rhianna felt wrung out, both emotionally and physically.
She felt ashamed.
It was...not a feeling she was accustomed to having. She thought she should have felt resentful, angry at having these private thoughts dragged out of her like that. Yet Matthew had used a combination of anger, passion, love, forgiveness, and understanding that had nullified her anger and just left her sorry and slightly ashamed.
She knew it had been a shitty thing to do to Matthew, but he really didn't understand the relationship between her and her father. Hell, Rhianna didn't understand it!
Her thoughts drifted toward her father.
On the drive back, Rhianna had pounded her oldest brother with questions about their father's health. She needed to know everything, and reluctantly Geoff gave up what he knew.
The picture he painted was not completely surprising. Not a man to admit any weakness, her father had kept his failing health a secret. Yet once found out, he refused any treatment that would extend his life. The awful truth was that even taking advantage of all medical science had to offer, his cancer was so advanced and spread, that at most he would have only a few more months.
Many people would have grabbed that rope, wanting every day they could get. But her father had taken one look at what these medical fixes would do to him, and wanted no part of it. He was determined to be himself to the end, not some drugged up or radiation dosed zombie.
Rhianna rolled over again, and felt something brush against her backside. Puzzled, she used her long, well muscled legs to push back the covers, and found that the cord binding her wrists had been changed. It was a lot longer now, with one long cord coming off it. It was obvious by looking at the knot that pulling on this long cord would free her.
With a grateful smile, Rhianna grabbed the end of the cord with her toes and tugged until the knot came loose. In seconds, she was free and out of bed.
Padding to the bathroom, now dressed in a robe, she could hear men talking downstairs, and she thought she heard Matthew's voice. As she showered away the night's activities, her mind went into overdrive, wondering what hell her father was putting him through. Then she began to worry that they would actually get along, leaving her alone against the two of them. Rhianna wouldn't put it past her husband's playful nature to make her squirm a little. It would be another power trip for him, although there were times when he did go just a little too far and it stopped being fun. At least he knew when that happened, and backed off.
She dressed in their room, wondering what she was going to find when she went downstairs, but then she discovered another problem. There was something she couldn't find up here!
All her underwear, brand new panties and bras, were gone. She was left with her blouses, shirts, and skirts. No pants, because Matthew wouldn't buy her any, and a single pair of spandex shorts and a spandex sports bra for when she wanted to go jogging. Shoes and stockings completed her wardrobe.
Rhianna thought about wearing the spandex outfit under her clothes, but the bra was jet black and would show easily under whatever she wore over it, and the shorts were too long for the skirts she had.
Rhianna had to chuckle. Her husband had done a fine job of rendering her unable to wear anything but exactly what he wanted her to wear, at least for the moment. She eyed his locked suitcase, and wondered if that was where all her underwear was stored.
With a shrug, she pulled on what clothes she could, and took a deep breath before heading out to her fate.
There were voices coming from the kitchen, a loud laugh Rhianna recognized as being Matthew's. Barefoot, but dressed in a simple white blouse and gray skirt, Rhianna stepped into the kitchen.
The laughing stopped and all heads turned to look at her.
At the sink washing something was May, wife of brother Geoff. Sitting at the large dining table laid out with breakfast things were the men, Matthew on one side, Geoff on the other, with her father at the head.
"Well, here's sleeping beauty now!" said Matthew with a smile.
Rhianna blushed, but didn't take her eyes off her father. He looked old, older than he should have been. When she last saw him two years ago, he still seemed fresh and full of energy. But now he looked...shrunken, somehow.
"Hi, dad," she said to him, trying to sound natural.
"Rhianna," replied Geoff Senior. "You look...beautiful!"
Rhianna was astounded. It was not the kind of thing she expected to come out of her father.
"Er..." was all she managed in reply.
Matthew stood up and came over to her. He held her shoulders and kissed her lightly on the cheek. "I saved some breakfast for you," he said. "I was about to come up and wake you anyway."
"Thanks," Rhianna replied, still trying to catch up. Finally in front of her father, she was tongue tied.
"Sit, sit," Matthew said, guiding her to a chair.
Geoff Junior got up. "I have to be heading to the office," he said. "It was good talking with you, Matthew. I can see why Rhianna married you." He gave his sister a wink as he said that. "Tonight you'll get to meet the rest of the crew, as dad calls us. We'll have the whole family over."
"That would be great," Matthew replied with a grin.
Geoff Junior saluted a goodbye and left the room. May smiled and whispered a hello in Rhianna's ear before disappearing after her husband.
Rhianna and Matthew were now alone with her father.
"So," said Geoff Senior, "my youngest is married, finally."
"Don't start, Dad," said Rhianna.
"Oh no, I'm not trying to start anything. But you have to admit it is a surprise. The last time I saw you, you were adamant about staying single. You wouldn't even see that fellow I invited over for drinks that last night."
"I didn't need you to set me up, Dad."
"No, evidently not." Her father nodded at Matthew, who nodded back. "But again, I have to say that it was a surprise this morning to be introduced to a new son-in-law, especially when the daughter in question is nowhere in sight."
"I'm sorry I slept in, Dad." Rhianna glanced at Matthew, who was watching her with interest, and began to blush again. She wondered why she always reverted to feeling like a teenager in front of her father. She tried to gain a little more self-control.
Matthew spoke first. "It wasn't her fault; we had a long trip and a late night."
"Yes...a very late night, from what I could hear," said her father with a raised eyebrow.
Rhianna began blushing to her toes, and Matthew chuckled. Rhianna wondered why men were never embarrassed by these things.
"I'm sorry if we kept you awake, Sir," Matthew said with a smile.
"Don't be foolish, we were all young once. And I said, don't call me sir! The name's Geoff, although I suppose you can call me dad, now that you're married to my daughter and all." Geoff Senior glared at Matthew, as if challenging that fact.
Rhianna was shocked once again. Not by her dad's request, but by his casual reference to their night time activities.
Matthew continued to smile. "I would be honored to call you dad."
Rhianna looked down at the plate in front of her. It had bread and cheese, and some cut up fruit. A Compound style breakfast. Rhianna had noticed bacon and sausages in front of the men, so it wasn't as if there wasn't meat available.
Evidently Matthew meant for her to stay on a Compound diet.
"The honor is mine, son," replied the older man. He looked over at his daughter, who was pecking at her food. "You look nervous, girl."
"I'm not nervous," Rhianna replied much too quickly. She looked up to see her father staring at her strangely. "I...er...just wanted to introduce Matthew myself, that's all."
"Sorry to steal your thunder, Pet," Matthew said, reaching over and squeezing her hand, "but the smell of coffee was way too tempting, and you looked too beautiful to wake."
Rhianna looked up at him and saw him smiling at her. A part of her was still ashamed at how she had treated him, but seeing that smile helped her realize that Matthew had well and truly forgiven her. Somehow, that was important to her, very important. She smiled back.
"Our coffee?" asked Geoff Senior, "you must be mad!" He began to get up and as he stood, he began to wheeze, almost coughing. He stood still for a moment, catching his breath, and the young couple looked at him with alarm.
"Are you okay, Dad?" Rhianna asked him.
Her father nodded angrily, as if tired of the question, then found his feet and moved to the coffee pot on the stove.
"You don't..." Rhianna began to say, but Matthew put his hand on her arm and motioned for her to stop. Rhianna did so, but she wanted to ask her father why he wasn't getting treatment. Why he was letting himself die. She bit her lower lip.
"I'm afraid, Sir...sorry...Dad, that we don't get good coffee where we live," said Matthew.
Geoff turned. "And where is that? I know that wanderlust has struck my daughter again, and she no longer lives in New York, but no one has told me where she lives now!"
"Well, you can blame me for that; Rhianna came to live with me in my family home in Colorado."
"Colorado? Can't you get good coffee in Colorado?"
"Not where we live," Matthew said with a shrug.
"Figured as much," muttered the old man, who wasn't impressed with any place not in sight of the ocean. He walked slowly around the table until he stood next to Rhianna and took her by the shoulder. Rhianna could see that he was a little out of breath from this short walk, but tried not to let her despair show on her face.
"Rhianna," said her father, "I'm really glad you came to see me, to introduce this young man of yours. I know that...you and I have had our differences in the past, but maybe this time things can be different." Geoff squeezed her shoulder, a look of concern on his face, then he let go and turned toward the door. "I'll chat with you young people again soon, but I want to take a nap. Go show him the town, girl, show him your roots. I'll see you both later." He walked through the doorway.
"Dad?" Rhianna said, stopping the old man in his tracks. He turned. Rhianna had so much she wanted to say, but she also saw that her father much preferred not talking about what was happening to him. Perhaps he was happy having someone around now that supposedly knew nothing about his condition. Rhianna didn't know, but she knew this wasn't the time to burst his bubble. "I'll...see you later, Dad," Rhianna said.
Matthew held his wife's hand as they watched her father shuffle away.
Back in Colorado, where no good coffee was to be found, Sheriff Kinkade pulled up at the Carson City high school. He stepped out of his patrol car and looked up at the imposing building.
Carson City was a small town, too small to have a child population big enough for this school, so kids from other towns were bussed in. It made sense financially; several towns could join forces to give their kids a decent education, rather than go it alone and not be able to afford everything. So the school was well filled, close to five hundred students divided among four grades. The middle and elementary schools were in a different building across a small park.
Kinkade walked inside and went to the administration office, where he got his son's schedule and directions to that classroom.
The Principal saw him in the office and asked in a worried voice if there was an official reason for the visit, but Kinkade assured him it was an important family issue.
Mollified and very relieved, the Principal let him go.
Heavy in heart, Kinkade made his way along the halls of learning. He knew he should have had a deputy with him, but Kinkade hoped to keep his son's involvement off the record if he could. While there was no love lost toward the people of the Compound, the town's population still hadn't been happy about what the boys had done. For the son of the Sheriff to have been involved was even worse. He had a hard time getting the folk here to trust him in good times, and he was worried about the upcoming election. His views on tolerance toward the community on the mountain were dangerous things to voice; there were bound to be repercussions. Yet he had another year before he really had to worry about it.
Still, he felt a little selfish worrying about his political career at a time like this. It was just one more burden on his back.
He reached the classroom and took a moment to look through the glass-topped door. It was a history class, definitely not one of Sean's strong points, his father knew. Kinkade searched until he found his son, and grunted. The boy was in the back row and looked like he was half asleep.
Kinkade knocked on the door, and in moments, his son joined him in the hallway.
"What's up, Dad?" said Sean.
Kinkade sighed and pulled from his pocket the bundle of photos. Sean's eyes widened, and he looked up at his father's disappointed face. "Dad..." he said, no other words available at the moment.
"Why, son?" Kinkade asked him softly.
Sean looked down, unable to articulate his reasons.
"Come on, Sean, you had to have a reason for invading these people's privacy like this."
"Not really," Sean replied.
"Not really? For God's sake, boy, what the hell were you thinking? Are you STUPID or something?"
Sean looked up. "Don't call me stupid, Dad."
"How can I stop when you keep pulling dumb-ass stunts like this!" Kinkade's voice had risen slightly and he could see that a few of the kids in the classroom had heard him. He made an effort to control his temper and began to move his son away from the door.
"What does it matter, anyway?" Kinkade was surprised to hear his son say. "So I took some pictures, big deal, Dad. It's not like they're hiding anything up there."
"You invaded their privacy, Sean. They own the mountain, and you purposely trespassed to get these pictures. What they do up there is not your concern!"
"Who cares?" Sean said, surprising himself even with the sudden anger he was feeling. "Those retards couldn't care less anyway, they probably don't even know what a camera is! Only you and a few others here even care that we took those pictures! It's not our fault those pervs run around bare assed all the time!"
Kinkade felt his anger flash at his son's outburst, but held tight control of it. "Sean. I'm not sure where I went wrong with you. I thought I taught you better about respecting people."
"People, yeah. But those perverts don't want to be a part of the human race, do they Dad!"
Father and son glared at each other for a moment. "Sean, you're going to tell me who else was involved."
"Don't tell me NO, kid!"
"That's bullshit, Dad, I'm not telling. I'm not a snitch!"
Kinkade began to feel like he was fighting a losing battle. "You WILL tell me, or else..."
"Or WHAT, DAD! You going to ground me?"
The bell rang at that moment, signaling the end of the class period, and in seconds the hallway was full of teenagers.
"You're coming with me!" Kinkade yelled over the din, but when he reached out to grab his son, he was given a hard push instead. Caught completely unawares by Sean, Kinkade fell over backwards, and by the time he got back on his feet, his son had vanished into the crowd.
"SEAN!" he yelled, making the young people around him stare at him.
"Fuck!" he said under his breath, and he began to wade through the traffic.
Sean was faster, he made quick time through the building to where he hoped to find a friend.
"Kale!" he yelled as he approached the industrial classrooms.
Kale Boyd, the unofficial leader of the group Kinkade was after, turned away from the girl he had been chatting with to see who had yelled at him. When he saw who it was, he grew concerned. "I'll see ya later, Babe," he said to the cheerleader and he met Sean halfway. "What's up?"
"It's my dad, he found me out!" Sean said worriedly.
"Shit," replied the bigger kid. "Does he know everyone?"
"No, but he's here in school! He'll find me and I don't want to talk."
"Fuck, okay...so we need time. Let's skip." He poked his head into the classroom. "Andy, Ed, come on!" he called out.
"What's up?" Ed asked, getting out some tools in the classroom/metal shop.
"Trouble, we're skipping!"
"Fuck, Man! I wanted to finish this today!"
"Too fucking bad, let's go!"
Sean felt better now that Kale was in charge. Even though Kale had been caught already by his dad, Sean still trusted him. Kale, like the others, had not said a word about who else had pictures of the sluts on the mountain. He had honor in Sean's eyes, and even though Kale was actually younger, Sean was happy to follow him.
The four boys snuck out into the rapidly thinning crowd and made their way to their lockers. They narrowly missed Kinkade, who had just been there and was roaming the hallways, pissed as hell.
Dressed in their snow gear, the boys headed outside to the parking lot. Many kids drove to school in cars, but a lot of kids up here also used snowmobiles to get around, especially if they lived out of town. Ed had his and so did Sean, so they drove while Kale and Andy rode shotgun.
Ten minutes after leaving the building, they were out of town and out on the trails.
"Where are we heading?" Sean yelled to Kale who sat behind him.
"Go up the mountain!" was the reply.
Sean grinned and gunned the engine to greater speed.
Rhianna Anderson had to wait until Matthew made a few phone calls, but then he was ready to be shown the town. They strolled down the block to the highway that ran along the waterfront, and then walked huddled together towards what passed for a shopping district. It was ironic, but in their modern winter clothing, both Anderson's were thinking the same thing. 'My furs are warmer, I wish I had them.'
They survived the walk into town, and after stopping at a few tourist shops, they saw the grocery store. Matthew and Rhianna looked at each other and grinned.
It is very true that one of the things people transplanted to another culture miss the most is the food they grew up with. Local food is fine, but there is nothing like the nostalgic taste of something you hadn't been able to get for a long time.
After a year and a half at the Compound, Rhianna and Matthew looked at the store as if it were the larder of the Gods!
"Peanut butter," said Rhianna with a smile.
"Captain Crunch cereal," Matthew replied.
Rhianna gave him a strange look.
"Hey," he said defensively, "you have your cravings, I have mine!"
Rhianna laughed, her first that day, and kissed him on the cheek. "Okay, Lover, just don't go overboard. We can't take this stuff back with us to the Compound."
"I know, but it will be nice to get a few things, just for old times sake."
Rhianna nodded. "I'll see you at the checkouts in twenty minutes."
"Fifteen, and no meats!"
"Oh come on, Matthew!"
"No meat, Wife!" Matthew said with mock seriousness.
Rhianna grinned. "Yes, Husband of mine, Protector of the family, Holder of the binding cord, Drinker of the beer, Stainer of the sh...Ow!"
Matthew gave her a swipe on the butt, and they entered the store.
It was as Rhianna wandered through the frozen food section that she met them. She was trying to decide on a small tub of ice cream, and she wasn't looking where she was going.
She figured that ice cream would do wonders for her mood; it had always helped before in times of stress.
"I feel so stereotypical," she murmured to herself, yet the mud pie ice cream with pralines and chocolate chips still looked good.
Rhianna took a step sideways to look in the next freezer and bumped into someone. She looked over and saw she had walked into a woman who was dressed much like her, only more so.
Her coat ran almost to the floor, and was buttoned all the way from hem to neck, her hands hidden in her coat pockets. A large wool hat was pulled over her head, and her face was almost obscured by a wool scarf that only left her eyes uncovered. The woman stood staring at Rhianna.
"I'm sorry I bumped into you," Rhianna said with a friendly smile.
The woman said nothing, although her eyes widened a little.
Rhianna could see them clearly, for she and the woman were both the same height. Her eyes were deep and quite expressive. It was almost as if the woman was trying...
"Rose!" called a man a few freezers down. "Come over here!"
The woman blinked and looked away from Rhianna, then she slowly turned to the man and began to take what looked to Rhianna to be very cautious steps in his direction. She moved slowly and Rhianna wondered what was wrong with her.
The man, who looked to be in his forties, looked up at Rhianna, and couldn't quite contain his surprise. He attempted to cover it by speaking "Don't let my wife's illness disturb you," he said with a sad smile.
"I'm sorry she's unwell," Rhianna replied.
The man nodded slowly and took his wife's arm. Rhianna could see that he had recovered from whatever it was that had surprised him, yet he still stared at her. "Nigel March," he said, extending his free hand.
"Rhianna Anderson," she replied, taking it.
They shook and he let go. Rhianna held out her hand to Rose, but she just stood and stared at her.
"Have you lived in Gilberts Cove long?" March asked her.
"The family has. My father owns and runs five boats here."
"Geoff Summer?" said March.
"You know my father?" Rhianna asked him.
"Not to meet, but I know of him. Well, it was a pleasure to have met you."
"Nice to meet you too," said Rhianna.
March turned to his wife. "Let's move on, dear." They began to move slowly away.
Rhianna looked away, a little embarrassed at watching this poor woman go through whatever it was she was going through. Yet as she continued her search for the perfect ice cream, she couldn't help notice the almost painful way the woman walked, as though she could part her legs only a tiny amount.
Something about THAT thought made her glance back at Rose, but when she saw how tenderly Nigel March held her arm and led her slowly away, Rhianna shook that idea out of her head.
Her old job had to be affecting her mind, making her think things like that. It wasn't like this was New York. This was Gilberts Cove, Maine. Home of the most honest and down to earth people she had ever known! Her experiences as a bondage submissive had to be clouding her perceptions, hadn't they?
Still, as she watched the March's walk slowly away, she wondered.
"You ready yet?" said a voice behind her, making her jump.
"Yeah, let me just grab this." Rhianna grabbed a tub of ice cream and the couple headed to the checkouts to pay.
The March's soon fell out of Rhianna's mind.
End of Part 5