As soon as I walked into the restaurant, I was glad I had made an effort. Part of me had said that it wasn't a date, I was just meeting another woman, so there was no need to take too much trouble over my appearance. But when I saw how stunning she was, I was glad I wouldn't be sitting there feeling like a plain Jane the whole evening. Somehow she knew me as soon as I walked in and beckoned me over. She had chosen a quiet table in the corner, away from the others.
"So you're Anne," she said. "It's great to finally meet you. You're just like Tim described you."
That struck me as unlikely. What could Tim possibly have said which meant she could recognise me so easily?
"How is Tim?" I asked.
"He's very well," she said, "but very busy with work. He asked me to apologise that he hasn't been in touch."
"Oh, that's OK," I said. We'd been casual acquaintances at work, but no more, and I hadn't expected he would keep in touch when he moved to LA... what was it, two years ago? Maybe even three. In fact, I couldn't remember the last time he'd even crossed my mind. Why would he tell this friend of his that she should look me up when she was in town?
We chatted while we ate. She was good company, but she had a knack of turning every question I asked back on me. I realised after an hour or so that while she had learned a lot about me, I knew hardly anything about her or what Tim was up to these days, or even how they knew each other. What's more, I was sure her accent was pure New York. Still, that didn't prove anything. She might have grown up here and only moved to LA recently.
Towards the end of the evening, the restaurant began to empty out, and before long there was no one sitting anywhere near us. She seemed to look around to confirm this before she said to me:
"So, you must be wondering when Tim's going to come back and visit?"
"Er... yeah, sure" I replied.
"Well the thing is..." she continued, pausing for effect, "He never really left New York."
I was stunned. Why would he lie about something like that, not just to me but to everyone we worked with? She saw the question in my eyes.
"Let me explain. Three years ago, Tim inherited some money. A lot of money, in fact."
That rang a bell. I remembered that some close relative had just died at the time of the move. That was supposed to be part of the reason for it he wanted to make a fresh start in a new place he said, though he hadn't mentioned any inheritance. She continued.
"Without going into details, it was the sort of money that changes a person's life. It means you can give up the 9-5 rat race, and live a life of pampered luxury. If that's what you want to do. As it happens, Tim didn't want that."
Good for him, I thought, not wanting to coast through life as one of the idle rich. But I had no idea what was coming.
"You see, the way Tim wanted to live his life was very specific. He has certain... er... tastes. Taste which some people might find shocking."
She paused again.
"Would you say you're broad-minded?"
"Good. Because what Tim wanted, the fantasy he had always had but had never been able to live out, was to be held prisoner by a beautiful woman."
I sat there in stunned silence, so she continued.
"And now he had enough money, he was determined to live exactly as he had always wanted to. That's how we met. I used to be in the S&M game, a dominatrix if you like. Well, I guess I still am really, except that now I only have one client. Tim came to me and asked me if I'd consider working just for him. He said he had enough money to buy a dungeon exactly to his specifications and pay me a very good salary to be in charge of it. So that's what he did. From the outside it looks like a respectable townhouse. Not too far from here in fact, though you'll forgive me if I don't tell you the exact address just yet. It looks normal on the inside too, except that in the basement there's a prison cell, 10 feet by 6, and that's where your former work colleague has been living for the past three years."
"So as I say, he apologises that he hasn't been in touch, but then he hasn't really had the option."
I was still too stunned to say anything. She smiled.
"You must be wondering why I'm telling you all this."
"That's something of an understatement."
She laughed. "Well, the thing is, I soon realised that it was too much work for just me. After all, he has to be fed three times a day - unless he's being punished for something, of course - and it really was quite a bind always having to be there all the time. I felt like I suddenly had all this money but wasn't getting the chance to enjoy it. So before long, I brought in someone I knew from my dominatrix days, who was happy to help out. The two of us worked out a rota so one of us would always be there. And for a while, it worked. But even with two of us, there are times when it's not convenient for either of us to be there. We've come to the conclusion that we need to bring in a third person."
"And that's where you come in."
"Me?" I said in amazement.
"Yes, you. As a special favour to Tim, we asked who he'd like to be his third jailor, and he said he wanted you. I guess he must have had a secret crush on you all those years you worked together. So what do you say?"
I didn't know what to say. "I can't do that, I... I have a job, I have a life."
"Not as good as this job, honey, I guarantee you that. Sure you have to be in the house sometimes, but there's very little actual work to do. When I say we feed him three times a day, I'm not talking about actual cooking. We've come up with this kind of gruel to give him. Doesn't taste too great but it's easy and cheap to make, and it contains everything he needs to keep him alive. We just brew up a big pot of that every few days."
"And that's what he likes?"
She laughed again. "Likes? No, he hates it. But he doesn't have any choice. Anyway, as I was saying, there's very little actual work involved, and of course you get free accommodation in the house as well. And in return for your time, he's willing to be more than generous."
She pushed a piece of paper across the table to me. I couldn't believe the amount written on it.
"He pays that much every month?'
"No, he pays three times that much - that would be your share."
My head was swimming as I struggled to take it all in. With so much money and no rent to pay, my life would be changed beyond all recognition. I could give up my job, lead a lifestyle I would never have dreamed of. It seemed too good to be true.
"And you're sure this is what he wants?"
"Absolutely. He came up with every detail of his captivity himself. He specified the exact size of the cell, the fact that his right ankle should be chained to the wall, the fact that she should have nothing but straw to sleep on and only cold water to wash in. We've done everything just as he wanted."
"And is it legal?"
"Don't worry about that. Before I locked him away, I had him sign a contract saying that he authorised me, and anyone else I recruited to help me, to do this to him. Anyway, there's no way anyone could ever find out. So what's to decide? You'll be making your own life a million times better and at the same time helping him fulfill his ultimate sexual fantasy. What could be wrong with that?"
"I guess. It just seems kind of..."
"Oh, by the way, if you're worried that he might be having a bit too much fun, we took care of that already. He did used to jerk off a lot when he was first locked away, the idea excited him so much. Then one day I produced a secure steel chastity belt and told him he wouldn't get another meal until he'd locked it on himself and handed me the keys. He held out for a few days but gave in in the end. What else could he do? So now that option has been closed to him."
She smiled an evil smile.
"We find it's quite amusing to hang the keys to his belt on a hook on the dungeon wall a few feet beyond the bars of his cell, just out of his reach. It drives him crazy!"
"So what do you say?"
"I'll do it!" I said.
"That's fantastic," she smiled. "Can you start right away?"
"Why not?" I said. My boss might not pay me for this month if I quit without notice, but what did that matter now?
"Great, my car's just outside. After I've settled up here, we can drive to your place and I'll help you pack a few essentials. You can move the rest of your things in whenever it's convenient."
As we drove through the streets of New York, I reflected on how suddenly life could change.
"I guess you're right," I said, "He must have had a crush on me when we worked together. I always wondered if he did."
"Well no wonder, you're very beautiful," she replied. "Then again, I'm not sure that's the whole story."
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"Well, in recent months, the two of us have come to suspect that Tim is regretting his decision. After all, it's one thing to fantasise about being locked in a prison cell, week after week, month after month, year after year, but something else to actually experience it, especially now he's in permanent chastity as well. Typical of male masochists. When I was working as a domme, you wouldn't believe the number of clients who told me they wanted to be whipped, but begged me to stop almost as soon as I'd started."
"You mean he's asked you to let him out?"
"Of course, but that's just part of the fantasy. The contract we all signed specifically says that we shouldn't set him free no matter how much he begs us to. It wouldn't be real imprisonment if he could just leave whenever he wanted to."
"So you're saying he doesn't really want to be set free?"
"Who knows, honey? I don't think he even knows himself. All I know is he's not going anywhere. I'm not going back to the life I used to lead, and I know my colleague feels exactly the same way. Of course, he promises that he'd carry on paying us if we set him free, and even that he'd pay us twice as much, but why should we take the risk?"
"So that, as I was saying, may be why he wants you as his third jailer. Maybe he thinks you'll take pity on him, give in to his pleading. And you could do it, of course. There'll be times when you're alone with him and we couldn't stop you. But you've gotta ask yourself, do you want to go back to your old life? Riding the subway in rush hour, slaving away 9-5 for a fraction of what you make in this job? Besides, look at the contract. We shouldn't set him free, no matter how much he begs. There it is in black and white."
She let the words hang in the air, and I knew at once what my decision would be. So he thought I would be a soft touch? He was soon going to find out what a big mistake that was...
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