When Clair was twelve years old she made a handful of promises to herself. She swore she’d never drink alcohol, never wear make-up, never perm her hair, never wear high heels, never get married and never cheat on a significant other. When she turned fifteen she snuck eye shadow and lipstick to school everyday. At seventeen she left the hair salon looking like a poodle -- a mistake she never made again. She tried high heels at eighteen, and alcohol at nineteen, but wasn’t crazy about either. At twenty-six she got married.
Rob was a quiet man who spent his days in the world of corporate finance. Each of them arrived home from work around six, and one would prepare dinner. They’d eat in silence punctuated by absent-minded questions. The one who’d cooked went off to the living room to zonk out before the television, soon to be joined by the other when the dishes were finished. By the time the eleven o’clock news came on, they’d head for their room, falling directly to sleep on opposite sides of the bed. Perhaps once or twice a month there would be an act of perfunctory sex before Rob’s snores arrived, leaving Claire dissatisfied and bored.
She still found Rob attractive. She thought he still found her sexy. But the spark had somehow faded between honeymoon and second anniversary.
Claire confided this only to her close friend Liz. "Maybe you two need to try new things?" she’d suggested. So Claire had bought sexy lingerie, erotic books and massage oils, each to no avail.
"Maybe you should consider an open marriage," Liz suggested.
Claire couldn’t imagine even suggesting such a thing to Rob. He was not the swinging type.
"Perhaps a divorce," had been Liz’s final idea, her tone ominous.
That seemed excessive for a couple who never argued. But the problem didn’t solve itself and while Claire was fond of her vibrator, it wasn’t the same as the hot steamy sex she’d used to have with her husband.
A solution came to her at her office’s Christmas Party. Rob hadn’t been able to make it, so Claire found herself alone in a sea of tipsy coworkers. After her one cup of spiked punch limit, she switched to ginger ale and watched the antics around her from the safety of the sidelines.
So she was sober when Peter, one of the contract graphic-designers, propositioned her. No booze marred her thinking as she considered the possibility. She thought in perfect clarity of lonely nights lying beside Rob in the dark. And she said yes. He fucked her in the bathroom, in the break room, and even bent over her own desk, and Claire was very happy with her Christmas present.
Despite her better judgment, she and Peter entered into an affair: a stolen hour here, an evening at his place. Rob didn’t question the excuses either. "I’m going shopping," or "I had to work late."
Sex with Peter was varied and exciting, more than it had ever been with Rob. One night they did it on the fire-escape of his building. One afternoon involved edible body paint. And one evening he bound her wrists with silk scarves and fucked her senseless. She enjoyed it so much that she begged Peter to try more restraints. He didn’t always comply, but Claire looked most forward to the times when he bound her, the tighter the better.
After a particularly fabulous session of sex, Claire wore home the leather collar that Peter had buckled around her neck in an attempt to carry the sexual magic home with her. She removed it before Rob got home, and hid it in her sock drawer.
A few days later, while Claire sat reading a book of erotic fiction, Rob questioned her about it. "Honey?"
"Yes?" Claire closed the book but kept her finger inside, holding her place. The story had given her an idea to try with Peter when he got back from the business trip he was currently on.
Rob held up the collar. "I was putting away the laundry, and found this."
For a moment, Claire’s stomach dropped, but she recovered well, she thought. "Yeah, in my sock drawer."
"It was Reddy’s. You remember me talking about Reddy, right?" When Rob didn’t answer, Claire continued as though to jog his memory. "The Irish setter I had as a child?" Fortunately, she’d really had an Irish setter.
She wasn’t certain if he believed her, but he walked off then.
Supper was a more strained affair than usual. Afterwards, rather than going straight for the television, Rob went to the study and locked himself in. Curiosity enticed Claire to listen at the door. She couldn’t make out the words, but she could tell he was on the phone. She put it from her mind and went off to bed. It took a while to fall asleep and when she did, Rob hadn’t joined her.
In the morning, Rob was taciturn. He dressed, ate and left, saying barely five words to her, and each of them monosyllabic. Claire just shrugged it off and went to work.
After a stressful day at the office, Claire was anxious to get home, eat dinner and relax all evening. She was surprised to find that Rob was already home, but hoped it meant that dinner would shortly be on the table.
She parked her car, grabbed her briefcase and let herself in the back door. In the darkened living room she set down her case and divested herself of her coat.
She jumped, startled by Rob’s voice in the shadows. After she calmed, she answered him. "Hi, hon. How was your day?" She slipped out of her shoes and started to move towards the rest of the house.
She had never heard Rob use that tone of voice. He sounded cold and distant. Angry? She humored him and stepped to just before the armchair in which he sat.
He raised a hand. "Don’t speak."
For a moment Claire complied, but she quickly grew uncomfortable under his stare. "Whatever." She turned away and started for the bedroom to change.
"I know about Peter."
That stopped her in her tracks. She turned slowly, uncertain what to do, how to escape or explain or mitigate the situation.
"You forgot that Liz has been my friend a long longer than she’s been yours."
Claire could think of no words. "Rob, I..."
"Quiet. Now." He leaned forward in his chair. "I admit that I knew something was missing from our relationship. I suppose in a way I owe this Peter my gratitude for figuring it out."
"What do you mean?" Claire asked with a nervous laugh.
Swiftly, Rob stood up and circled behind her. Felling like prey, Claire turned, but he stopped her, his strong hands clasping her wrists. He pulled them behind her and she felt the unmistakable touch of handcuffs snap around her wrists.
"Robert, what are you doing?" she demanded, beginning to panic. A little bondage was all well and good, but Rob was clearly angry.
"I’ve told you enough times now to be quiet." He forced a ball-gag past her lips and buckled it tightly behind her head. Claire continued ‘mmph’ing at him, protesting in muffled terms. "Good thing I bought more gags. This one’s not as effective as I’d hoped."
Bought more gags? What the hell did he do? Find a sex shop and buy one of everything?
Claire’s run of questions ceased as she realized that Rob was pulling at her clothes. With her hands trapped, there was no real way to stop him from divesting her of skirt and hose. She stood before him in just her underwear, glowering at him. He unbuttoned her blouse and left it hang on her like an open jacket. He stood back and studied her for a moment, and she shifted uncertainly.
He wrapped the collar around her neck and she heard the click of a lock. The next click attached a leash to the ring on the collar’s front.
She found herself stumbling along behind Rob to the back of the house. The door he opened had been designated a third bedroom by the real estate agent, but was far too small to be used comfortably for that purpose. Over the years, Claire and Rob had just stored stuff in the small room. Now, though, the room had been transformed. Gone were the old boxes and the unused computer and the pappason that Claire could neither bear to part with or to use. The space now held very little. Regardless, its new function was also clear, given the hooks on the ceiling, walls and floor. A table set against one wall held a myriad of restraint sand toys and even a whip. Claire didn’t get to look long a those implements, as Rob brought her to the far wall. He attached her leash to an eyebolt, then removed her handcuffs long enough to strip away her blouse and bra. Claire protested through the gag, but Rob ignored her and worked in eerie silence. Efficiently, he wrapped her wrists in leather cuffs, buckled them, and attached them to the wall, stretching her into a Y shape. He removed her final vestment, her panties, and then cuffed her ankles together before moving away.
Facing the wall as she was, Claire could move little and see less. She craned her head as much as she could, but could see no sight of her husband. She heard a faint creak, and she thought perhaps he’d taken a seat in the only piece of furniture the room still held; a straight-backed wooden chair.
Moments stretched like taffy and Claire grew restless from the cocktail of emotions within her. She was angry, yes and felt guilty as well. Embarrassed, too, to be standing naked and chained to the wall. She was a little turned on as well from the restraints and knowing that somewhere Rob watched her. She was also, however, growing bored and stiff.
Occasionally Rob would move, and Claire’s ears would perk up at the sound, but after half a dozen such false alarms, she grew complacent. Therefore it took several jumbled seconds for Claire to figure out what was going on after the first lash of pain hit her. By the time the second strike fell, she’d put together that Rob was slowly whipping her with what she thought might be a riding crop.
The strokes were irregular and unpredictable. She could guess neither where nor when the lash would fall. It didn’t take long before she was yelling into the ball-gag.
She’d not been counting but by the time Rob stopped Claire could not even attempt an estimate. Tears coursed down her cheeks and she slumped in her bonds, her forehead against the wall. A flutter of movement caught her attention even from the corner of her eye. "Dammit," Rob hissed. He’d thrown the crop in anger, Claire realized.
The room settled again into silence, broken only by Claire’s muffled tears. Her back, butt and thighs no longer screamed in agony, but settled into a painful ache.
"Why Claire? Why?"
One part of her still remained coherent enough to be cynical and asked herself how she could answer him. However, her mind churned in a million directions and she didn’t know what she would have said if she were free to do so.
Wordlessly, Rob disconnected her from the wall and led her shuffling to the wooden chair. He pointed and Claire obeyed. She sat, wincing as her sore back and ass hit the hard wood. He tied her wrists to the chair’s back. Next he released her ankles, but only long enough to tie each one to the outside of the chair legs, keeping her spread. He unbuckled the gag and removed it.
For just a moment Claire worked her aching jaw then took advantage of her relative freedom. "Rob, please. I’m sorry. So sorry. Please..."
He had turned to the table and at the sound of her voice and snapped over his shoulder. "Quiet!"
"Let me make it up to you, Rob. Please?"
He approached her with a large black thing with straps. "Open."
Claire stared up at him for a moment, her mouth firmly closed. Then in a moment of clarity she opened her mouth wide and patiently waited for Rob to insert the penis gag. She knew then that she had to communicate by obeying and by her eyes. Somehow Rob had to know that she’d made a mistake, yes, because she’d been at the end of her rope. That thought gave her pause, but she forced herself on. She never stopped loving Rob, she knew. And somehow he needed to know that, too.
"Think about it from my position, Claire."
She broke from her internal monologue and looked up at him, eyes wide above the thick straps of the gag.
"I love you, Claire. Do you know how much it hurts me to know you were in the arms of another man?" He paced in front of her. "I treated you like a lady. I never forced my way. Hell, I never bothered you about sex until you made a move." Rob walked around behind her, one hand then rested on her shoulder, his fingers playing along the edge of the collar and tickling her neck. Claire squirmed at his touch, craving more. He complied, his other hand slowly trailing down to her left breast. He rolled the nipple between his fingers. "Living with you was agony. I wanted your body constantly! But I tried to be a gentleman!" On this last word he squeezed her nipple harshly. Claire gasped as best she could with her mouth stuffed and sealed.
Rob crossed around her and knelt to be at eye level. "We’ll talk. I mean, I’ll even let you try to explain yourself. Later." He stood. "I need a drink." He left the room, leaving Claire somewhere between pain and arousal, with a million things to say.
She had no way of knowing for sure, but she guessed he was gone for an hour. Long enough for Claire to go past mind and butt numbing boredom and into dark fantasies about what kind of toys might still remain unused on the table. Dozens of curious shapes taunted her.
The door opened and Rob entered behind her. "I’ve given it some thought. Have you?"
He untied her wrists then reattached them to each other behind her back, her ankles still tied to the chair. He wrapped another length of rope around her torso, binding her breasts until they were swollen and round shaped. He finally untied her ankles, but their freedom, too, was short lived as he tied them together. He helped Claire to lie on her stomach; the carpet bristling against her now super-sensitive breasts, then brought her ankles to her wrists in a hog tie. Only then did he remove the gag.
Claire didn’t need to be told. She remained silent as her husband paced around her.
"All right," he said finally. "You have two minutes to explain yourself."
Claire’s mind raced but she knew excuses and pleas were likely to fall upon deaf ears. "I love you, Robert. And despite my efforts, you never touched me. A girl gets lonely, but you never seemed interested." She stopped talking then and did her best to stay still and not squirm against her bonds.
"Do you love Peter?"
"Do you expect me to trust you?" he finally asked.
"Not right away," she answered truthfully.
He knelt so that he was closer. "If I understand you rightly, you don’t want to be treated like a lady?"
"Not if it means you won’t touch me."
This was a conversation they should have had years ago. Instead it had festered between them and it could only take place with her trussed like a turkey.
"What if I treat you like this?"
He grinned broadly, then, and cut the rope that held her feet and hands together. Before she could stretch, he had her spread-eagled, tied to hooks he’d installed in the floor. "Very well."
"Do you forgive me?" Claire asked in the last minute that she was herself as her husband plunged in.
"Let’s see if you please me this weekend," he grinned. "And don’t forget to call me ‘sir’!"
Claire floated in the euphoria of climax and thought perhaps every vow should be broken just once.