Cross My Heart

by Eido

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© Copyright 2021 - Eido - Used by permission

Storycodes: F+/m; fem; drug; trick; bond; bedtie; rope; blindfold; chastity; resistance; hum; nc; XX

Continues from

Cross My Heart - Part 1

Chapter 1 - And Hope to Die

"I'm just saying it would be nice to play around like that once in a while," I said. "I don't think I'm asking for a lot."

Robyn smiled back at me, but with a hint of irritation. "So this isn't feminine enough for you? I have to go the whole movie star sex vamp route?" She gestured, waving both hands at her figure like a game show hostess modeling an expensive prize. Damn she'd look good as a game show hostess. Robyn was tall and lean, just a hair short of my own five-eleven. Her runner's body was toned without being hard or angular, unlike mine, which seemed to be all elbows and knees, angles and knots.

She wore an orange sundress patterned with little blue flowers. There might have been a strapless bra under the bodice. My wife can be sneaky like that, playful, when she wants to be. She watched my gaze follow her pointing hands down. As my head tilted, taking in her long, lightly tanned legs, she struck a little pose. Her knee bent as she lifted her heel, pressing the toe of her strappy, flat, white summer sandal against the tile floor.

My face, and other parts, warmed, and I doubled down on my estimation of her game show hostess potential, which I knew better than to voice out loud. "You're a babe and you know it. And I love you, which you know too…"

"Then why this obsession with dressing me up like a lingerie model, screwing around while I'm tied to a chair, or banging in the shower in a camisole and stockings, or…"

"Okay! I get it." I interrupted her interruption of me, throwing up my hands.

"… letting my damn hair grow out," she went on as if I hadn't spoken. "Andy, do you have any idea what a pain in the ass long hair is?"

Her thick blonde hair barely grazed her shoulders, and to be honest, I could imagine how sweaty it might get during the summer heat. My own mud brown hair was pretty shaggy now. I had missed a few appointments thanks to my new schedule. But picturing her warm hazel eyes peeking out from a tangle of that wheat colored hair was a favorite fantasy image of mine.

"I said I get it. Cross my heart," I said, making the appropriate gesture over my chest, "and hope to die."

"You said that the last time." She shuddered, "Well, not the 'cross your heart, hope to die' part. You know that creeped me out even when we were kids."

"Hope. To. Die." I didn't want to be creepy, but the heat in her voice let me know how she felt more than her words did. I was being stupid and ungrateful, again, and now I just wanted to be done with this subject and never visit it again. In addition to being intensely focused, smart, and funny, Robyn is gorgeous, loves to make out, loves to cuddle, and loves sex. I should just be happy and thankful for what I have.

"I just don't get the allure. And what do I get in return? What are you doing for me?" she said.

"Of the two people in this room, which one is not letting the subject drop?" The color in her face told me she had risen from irritated to angry at my question, but I poked back anyway. "But since you ask so nicely, let me see. 'Honey, I think you should cut back on the carbs.' and 'Sweetie, if you aren't using that weight set, can I put it in the basement?' and 'Babe, if we're going out tonight, can you wear that brown jacket?' and 'I love it when your hair gets curly.' and-"

"Fine! If you're so accommodating, you can wear all those outfits you like so much. Tell me what you think, and maybe I'll try them on myself. Oh, and make sure I get to handcuff you to the closet rod or some shit like that!" She stared at me, red faced and breathing hard.

I stepped back. The speed of her emotional shift really surprised me, and she didn't usually swear at me either. I chalked it up to a little bit of cabin fever. The shift to 'work from anywhere' had meant moving my office to the house, so we were together a lot more. Now it was time to work, so I couldn't go for a drive and let her cool off. This new paradigm was taking some getting used to. At least we still had jobs, but I could not get excited about saving my firm so much money by eliminating my office and transferring utilities and maintenance expenses to my own wallet.

Robyn taught math at the local junior college, and most of her classes and tutoring sessions were on line now too, so she wasn't going anywhere. I looked her square in the eye, my own temper hot now, desire to get her out of that dress forgotten.

I traced my finger in an X over my sternum. "I'll pass on trading places, if it's all the same to you. And I'll not make any further suggestions that impose on you. I have to go to work now, but I hope we can have lunch together." I walked to the stairs, heading for the home office set up in one of our spare rooms. Maybe she noticed that I had started my 'No Imposition' policy by leaving it open as to where, when, and how we might have that lunch together.

"Fine." The word shot back at me like a bullet.

I guess she had noticed.

Seated at my makeshift desk, surrounded by computers, laptops, paper files, printers, scanners, shredders, and every other gizmo my employer had decided its legion of telecommuters needed, I wondered why such a simple request set Robyn off like that.

I thought for a minute, and the question answered itself. I had brought the subject up more than a few times over the relatively short time we'd been married. Never insisting or demanding, but I guess she was tired of hearing about it. I had figured a woman who was down for skinny dipping, or sex bare ass under the stars at a campsite, or any other of a number of mildly crazy stunts she's pulled, wouldn't balk at my fetish suggestions.

We had known each other forever, growing up together in a small southern town. We had gone out a few times in high school, but nothing really sparked then. I had gone off to a big state college right after graduation. Robyn started out in junior college and transferred to the same big school after two years, but we didn't meet again until senior year.

We were engaged before we even graduated and married the following January. That was three and a half years ago, and except for the infrequent head butting over stupid crap like this, the honeymoon was still going. I love her so much, I keep my hot temper under control around her. She returns the favor by saving her sarcastic wit to make jokes for her students.

I considered her current level of agitation and decided to cover my ass. I don't waste a lot of time surfing porn, but I had a small collection of photos copied from the web. Athletic blondes in various states of bondage, usually wearing lingerie. If I could draw, I would have drawn Robyn in those positions and poses instead. Oh well.

I grabbed my personal laptop from the floor and logged in. If Robyn decided to snoop, those pictures might be a problem. I consigned them to electronic oblivion, then deleted the folder they had been in, then erased the partition. Just to be thorough, I started the disk compression utility too. I should install some kind of cleaning software on this thing, I thought.

And that was the end of covering my trail.

I leaned back in my ergonomic office chair, too distracted to open a file or start poring over pages of data.

Her parting shot still perched, front and center, in my troubled head. Suggesting that I wear the stuff I wanted to see her in was weird, bordering on insulting. I might go for letting her tie me down, but not the rest of it. Well, if I didn't do something with my hair soon, I'd be living that for myself, but that really wasn't a thing. Lots of guys had long hair, but not lots of guys wear stockings and heels and corsets.

Why was my brain stuck on this?

I pictured myself dressed as Robyn had suggested. Nope. Ridiculous.

Her words continued echoing in my head. I realized that what bothered me was the nature of the outburst. Robyn is usually funny and sarcastic, even when she's mad at me. This time was different, but I didn't know why.

Clearly, I had pissed her off for the last time on this topic. I might never be able to banish those thoughts, but I could live up to my vow to keep them to myself.

I bent to work, finally able to focus my mind on the job. I let my thoughts frequently return to my promise, reinforcing the words and the meaning. No more pestering Robyn. It became like a song in my head.

Spoiler alert: I made it almost eight weeks.

Chapter 2 - Like Humpty Dumpty, I Was Pushed

Late June, and summer, though technically just starting, made its presence known. The air had gone from sultry to intensely damp, and though the daytime temperatures promised oppressive heat ahead, nights were still pleasant.

I descended from my unchanged home office. Well, almost unchanged. One flash drive, hidden among forty or so other flash drives, now contained a single photo of some blonde actress, fully clothed, tied to a wooden chair. I just couldn't resist, though I thought Robyn would look way better in the pose. Things had thawed out between us within a day of our tense moments back in April. I had not even suggested she wear a sweater on a particularly chilly weekend that had taken the state by surprise in early May. I was certain the trouble was behind us.

Robyn was on her phone, chatting loudly with Carrie, a friend from her community college days. I listened to the half of the conversation I could hear and quickly discovered we would have company at dinner tonight.

"Would you mind grilling for four?" she asked as I stepped into the kitchen.

"No," I answered without thinking. One of my techniques for living up to my promise was to stop stressing and over-analyzing the small things. I was enjoying my growing nonchalance. It wasn't full-fledged detachment, and I doubted it ever would be, but rolling with the punches felt pretty good. The house had been a little too quiet after that last argument. I was glad the next day when Robyn was her old self again, bubbly and quick to laugh. Also, she couldn't keep her hands off of me.

She seemed more energetic and loving than ever, and I imagined it was due, at least partially, to the fact that I was sticking to my pledge not to hassle her about clothes or sex games outside her comfort zone. As the weeks went on, and we adjusted to our new economic reality, life together at home became more pleasant. I wondered why I had been so pushy about the subject.

The few kinks I'd dabbled in during my early college days excite me. I don't know why. I don't know how far I'd take them if the chance came up. Not that far, I think. I concluded that there was a lot I didn't know, and that most of it would remain a mystery.

Robyn was bouncing off the walls by the time Carrie arrived. Our guest lugged a cooler straight to the kitchen. I had wondered what I'd be grilling. My wife had gone to the store, but only brought home pasta, vegetables, fruit, a package she said was dessert that I couldn't see yet, and a lot of wine.

"Seafood," she said.

"Like I'll know what it is when I see it?"

"No, dipstick." She grinned, letting me know the insult was meant in fun. "Carrie's got some connection who traded her some fresh seafood for an antique she found at a thrift store."

Anyway, the food had arrived but not the fourth guest. I suppressed a double take when Carrie stepped around from the kitchen breakfast counter to hand me a list of what she had brought. The short brunette wore a sleeveless red dress, white nylons, and black Mary Janes with blocky, medium height heels. Carrie looked like she belonged on a Valentine's Day card. I took the list and made a show of reading it, feeling an almost tangible pressure from Robyn's gaze.

"Wow, Carrie, this looks great. Do you guys want everything done at the same time or in courses?" I looked from one face to the other.

Robyn looked me straight in the eye, a hint of something I couldn't figure out on her face. Mild annoyance? Disbelief? "We're still waiting for Heather, so don't start cooking yet. Plus, I have to get the veggies going, and the noodles."

"Everything's ready to go," Carrie said. She looked at Robyn and grinned. "Spiced, marinaded, whatever. All you'll need to do is the grilling."

"Got it. I'll get the grill hot." I turned and got the hell out of there. Later I would hear that Carrie had come over straight from work. Work in an actual office, and she didn't have time to change. Something was off about the whole thing, and the way they were acting had the hair on the back of my neck standing up. As I shut the sliding glass door that opened onto the patio, I heard them laughing, and Carrie saying something about having a house full of people tonight. Considering how little socializing we had done lately, I guess four would make a full house.

I had cleaned the grill about twenty times before Heather arrived, carrying more wine and some beer. I got a good look at Robyn's new friend as she stopped by the door to wave at me. New friend means we hadn't gone to high school together. I had no idea how long the two had really known each other.

Heather lingered by the door, head tilted as though studying me. I raised my brush in mock salute. She was like the third corner of a fantasy feminine triangle. Tall where Carrie was short, curvy but still buff where Robyn was lean. Her long, streaked brown hair was done up in a pile atop her head.

I knew she ran a local gym and taught martial arts there too. I wondered if she had come straight from work as well. I didn't see her shoes, but I did catch the black yoga pants with revealing sheer panels in an eye-catching pattern. They went well with her cropped electric blue sleeveless top. I wouldn't call it a shirt. I don't know what to call it except tight. Along with her attractive bustline, it showed off her toned abs and discreet navel piercing.

I focused on my mission. Grill food, then find an excuse to be somewhere else.

These were Robyn's friends, not mine. Our separate circles of friends was one significant place where all the shared togetherness of married life didn't apply. So it seemed a little weird when Carrie came out to hand me a beer.

"Thanks," I said, keeping it simple.

"You looked like you could use one," she said, stepping a little closer than comfortable. "Damn! This is hot work. We'll keep the refreshment coming." Her fingertips brushed my arm before she turned back for the house.

Friendly gesture or a come on? Beer in hand, I turned back to the grill, resisting the temptation to watch her walk away. But I did take a moment to picture Robyn's long legs sporting white stockings and a taller version of those sexy shoes.

The food was still in the kitchen, but the beer kept coming, each one accompanied by a bit of friendly chat and mild flirtation. After a few rounds, Robyn came out, a brown bottle in each hand.

"Having fun?" she said as she handed me a sweating bottle.

"Loads." I drank deeply. Well, it was hot work, standing next to a gas grill, cleaning it unnecessarily over and over again. I gestured with the bottle, "I need to slow down though, or you'll have to carry me upstairs."

"Looks like I'd have some help," she said, arching one eyebrow and giving me a crooked smile. I raised my hands, a warding gesture, and she laughed. "I know you aren't egging them on. I think they're having a little laugh at our expense. One of their more pointed comments in the kitchen was about how little they see of you despite how long we've been friends."

Exasperated! I suddenly realized the word that I had been trying to think of earlier. It fit the situation. It fit the look she was giving me now, in fact.

Robyn moved close and then said, "Speaking of pointed comments, I'm surprised I haven't heard any feedback from you on their wardrobe selection and other matters of personal appearance?"

Yes, she made the statement into a question, voice rising precipitously at the end. "None of my business," I said. "None of my business what they wear. None of my business what you wear." I touched a finger from my non-beer holding hand to my chest. "Hope to die," I said before she could protest. Her mouth was already open, but I didn't give her time to get the words out.

"So you keep saying," she said with a shudder.

"I wouldn't have to keep saying, if you just let it go," I muttered. That was half beer and half my famous temper talking. Robyn was two steps toward the patio door, and if she heard me, she chose not to reply.

Carrie brought the food out, and I grilled it to perfection. Scallops, shrimp, crab cakes, and tuna steaks. She stayed outside with me for the few minutes it took, sitting in a chair and messing with the hem of her dress. I caught a flash of skin above the white of her nylons and realized she was wearing stockings instead of pantyhose.

My brain turned to beer flavored slush with a generous helping of lust, but I focused on dinner, reminding myself of the plan: make dinner, disappear. I wondered if Robyn knew. Stupid question, I thought. When I looked up, worried I had voiced my thoughts, Carrie was looking at me, measuring me.

"Need a clean platter!" I called out, not really caring who brought it.

"Right here," Heather said as she stepped onto the patio, carrying a large serving dish and sheets of aluminum foil. Was it just me or had her shirt ridden up while her pants drooped down a bit? The blue jewel in her belly button caught the evening light and glittered. A sheet of foil blew off the tray and she bent to retrieve it. Her skintight pants became translucent skin tight pants revealing her electric blue thong panties. I felt something twitch in my own pants and quickly turned back to the grill.

"Dinner. Focus on dinner," I thought. Food flew from the grill to the serving dish in a flurry of movement my muscles conducted from memory without input from my useless brain. Heather held the tray, turning it to present open space for food while Carrie quickly covered the various portions with foil. The two women crowded me, nearly touching.

"Shoo. Get that inside before it cools off. I gotta clean a bit." They left, which surprised me a little, and I spent more time than needed on scraping and brushing the grill. The heat felt good now, as if it was burning away some of the stupid that had taken root in my brain.

The women were halfway through their plates when I finally came in. Instead of sitting down, I grabbed my plate and turned.

"Where are you going?" Robyn said to my back.

I looked over my shoulder at her. "I'm sure you three have lots to catch up on. Plus, I smell like smoke, sweat, and beer."

"We've missed you too, Andy. Stay and be sociable for a while," Heather said. Carrie added an enthusiastic invitation of her own. I remained still, looking at my wife, who nodded curtly, almost making it a command. The contrary part of me hesitated. I don't like commands, but I also didn't want to rain on her first social moment in recent memory.

Carrie hefted a bottle of wine and filled the glass I had left on the table. White wine, I noted. The women were being traditional for a seafood dinner, or maybe no one wanted a red wine hangover tomorrow. I sat and ate and kept my mouth shut. I was doing a really good job of it too, I thought.

"Andy!" Robyn said, voice raised. I looked up and reached for my glass, which had magically become full yet again. "Yes, you outdid yourself with dinner tonight, but if you could tune in? Carrie's been trying to ask you a question for about a minute now. What planet are you on?"

"Sorry," I managed.

"That's okay," Carrie said. Her cheerfulness was nearly cloying now, possibly fueled by wine. There was a faint undertone of something darker in her voice as well. I hoped I hadn't pissed her off. "What do you wear for all the Zoom meetings you do?"

"Nothing." I reached for the bread. The looks on their faces told me to think about what I just said. "Shit. I mean nothing special. I don't use the camera, so jeans and T-shirt." My water glass was empty and so was the water pitcher, but my wine glass was full, so I took a long drink from it.

Heather laughed. "Must be nice. I tried some Zoom workouts with a few clients. That doesn't work so well."

"What about you, babe?" I said to Robyn. "Do you have to wear anything special for those virtual classrooms? Dress up real nice?" I only meant it to be a little tweak, but of course it came out a little stronger.

"They're used to seeing me dress like I work on a farm," she said, shooting me a look that made her usually warm, welcoming eyes into a pair of death ray lasers.

"Oh, I think that would be so awesome," Carrie said. "I could stand a break from dresses, stockings, and heels for a while. I'm in the office or the courthouse three or four days a week, and the partners expect us to 'look professional' for the clients," she said, complete with air quote gesture.

The glimpse of her stocking tops was still fresh in my head. I had not had nearly enough wine to mention it, but there was plenty of room for other stupidity to come out of my mouth.

"No one wears stockings anymore, except drag queens. At least according to Robyn. You know, if you want to change right now, I'm sure between the two of us we can find some shorts and a T-shirt that'll fit. Shoes too." I raised my wine glass to them both, wondering when it had been refilled, and drained it. Leaning back in the chair, I closed my eyes. "I'm bushed. I need to go to bed."

"I'm sure you can stay up long enough for dessert, honey," Robyn said. I was not too far gone to notice the emphasis she put on 'honey' and wondered how much shit I was going to be in tomorrow.

I vaguely remember dessert. It was something chocolate. I think I made another stupid joke or two about stockings and maybe a double entendre about bondage. Robyn and her friends had fruit cocktails, saying something about carbs or processed sugar. That should have set off some warning bells in my head. I don't remember how I got upstairs.

As it turned out, I underestimated the amount of shit I was in by orders of magnitude.

Chapter 3 - The Day of the Dina

The alarm clock chirped. The sound was mild, nearly melodic as alarm clocks go. It stabbed my ears with ice picks.

No, I remembered. That was all the beer and wine I had last night. I opened my eyes, but the room was still dark. The pressure in my bladder was enough to keep me from going back to sleep, so I swung my legs off the bed. They moved a bit and stopped hard, held by something at my ankles.

"What the fuck?" I muttered, pulling my arms down and sitting up. Well, that's what I ordered my muscles to do, but my arms moved a few inches and sitting up was suddenly impossible even if I could move my arms further. Something was wrapped around me, tight and a little heavy. I also finally realized that the darkness was something covering my eyes and not necessarily the light level in the room.

"What the fuck!" I doubled down on the obscenity.

"Hey sweetie," Robyn said, practically straight into my ear. "Looks like you figured out you're tied to the bed. Don't panic…"

"This is not funny, Robyn. Let me loose right now!"

"…really wanted you to get a firsthand feel for all those charming things you think I should be doing for you. You'll find…"

"RIGHT FUCKING NOW!" I shouted as loud as I could. Her voice just kept up its calm recitation,

which is when I figured out it was a recording. Lucky me, it was set to loop, so I gritted my teeth and lay still, listening to the whole thing and then the bits I had missed. The little audio gizmo shut off after two repetitions, but it started again every time I spoke loudly enough. I had bigger fish to fry right now though.

I learned that I was bound and blindfolded, but that my hands could reach the knots that would free my arms, and I could then free myself from the bed. She assured me this would be the easy part of my day, but didn't want to give everything away in this message. Further instructions awaited me once I was out of bed. She was out of the house, but keeping an eye on me. But she felt that wasn't enough for safety's sake, so she had other backup too, whatever the fuck that meant.

Oh, I can't leave out the part where it was my behavior last night that was the final push, prompting her to embark on a lesson I would not soon forget.

The darkness that appeared before my eyes thanks to the blindfold turned red at that pronouncement. I paused to concoct the vilest, meanest, worst retribution I could exact on her and her friends, who had obviously been a part of this steaming pile of bullshit. I tore at the ropes with frenzied energy, making a mess out of them. She might have arranged it so I could get loose, but she didn't make it easy.

I relaxed and tried taking a deep breath. Something was interfering with my breathing, and my body felt weird. Struggling to keep my temper in check, I methodically felt my wrists. Something was wrong with my fingers too. Even without being able to see them, I realized my nails were suddenly longer than they had been last night.

Multiple knotted ropes encircled my wrists, connecting my arms to various places on the bed frame. I swore, again, and her recorded message started. I was deep in concentration, almost done with one arm when I heard a noise. I froze, certain someone was in the room with me.

Was that what she meant by having safety back up?


"Hey sweetie. Looks like…"

I thrashed my almost free arm, trying to find the offending device, but I was one knot short. When I finally got my hand free, I reached for the blindfold. In my hurry to pull it off, I scratched the side of my face.

I was alone.

It helped to see the ropes remaining on my bound arm. I found out the joke was on me. Some of the ropes were false trails, just loose ropes tied to my arm.

"Very funny, darling," I whispered, teeth gritted, trying not to set off the voice activated gizmo.

I freed my remaining arm, threw the sheet off, and sat up, with difficulty. I was still swearing about this stupid prank when I got the next surprise in this morning's series of unpleasant surprises. The tightness and weight I felt around my middle was a hot pink corset tightly laced around my body, which had been augmented with a set of tits.

I felt a moment of utter terror until I jabbed a finger into what little bit of cleavage showed beyond the confines of the stiff pink fabric. Soft plastic yielded to my bright pink fingernail. My sigh of relief would have been louder if I had been able to inhale properly.

"What the fuck?" I would lose count of the number of times I uttered those words. Distracted by ropes and corset, I had forgotten. My nails had been enhanced, extending well past my fingertips and shaped, with the addition of bright pink polish and what looked like a clear coat of sealant. My face burned, and not just from the scratch I had given myself with my new talons.

My gaze wandered past my nails to my new cleavage. Well, what guy can resist such a nice rack, right? I received another shock when I saw the little padlock nestled between my fake boobs, locking a zipper tab to a metal fitting.

Freeing my ankles turned out to be a bit more challenging than I expected. I couldn't sit up properly or see my target easily with the corset and tits in the way. This would turn into something of a chant for me: corset and tits, corset and tits, can't see shit for the corset and tits!

Yes. I am prone to tangential digression. But I was starting to get mad. Not the swearing, frenzied, hot and cold mad of my confused hungover self of a few minutes ago, but a slow infusion of rage, growing and spreading through my body and mind, building to what I knew would be blinding fury. I breathed and focused.

At least I could see the outline of my predicament. There were no decoy ropes this time. Instead, the ropes were tied to my ankles with layers of knots. I started picking them apart. They eventually yielded and I swung my feet to the floor. Surprise, my toenails were the same shade of pink as my fingernails. When I tried leaning forward to get a good look at my feet, heavy locks of brown hair flipped down past my neck and around my shoulders.

I shouldn't have been surprised, but I was. My fingers probed cautiously at my scalp and followed the trail of what had to be hair extensions. I was now the proud owner of a head of hair that reached the middle of my back. That, at least, should be easy to fix. I grabbed a short piece of the rope scattered all over the bed and tied the tangled mess back.

When I stood up, I felt a weight and a pull around my waist and crotch that could not be from the corset. My fingers flashed downward and found fabric that would turn out to be bright pink panties, in the tanga style, I would later learn.

But the panties didn't account for the weight or the tightness. I made for the bathroom, skinning out of the underwear as I moved and leaving it on the floor. The mirror revealed a metal belt tight around my waist connecting to more metal covering my crotch. A metal strap divided my cheeks below my tailbone and something that felt like cables ran from down under there somewhere up to the belt.

"What the fuck?" How had I missed all the weird sensations this fresh hell was now plainly causing? My bladder explained how, sending more urgent messages along my nervous system. My bowels also chimed in. I sat down on the toilet to do my business. It took forever to convince my bladder and dick that it was safe to pee. Messy, but safe. I'll stop there and save myself further indignity regarding the morning's necessities.

I noticed the big bath towels were gone, and the shower curtain, and the bathroom rugs. I noticed something else too, a new tissue box holder on Robyn's vanity. It was a huge bathroom with a sink and counter space for each of us. I vaguely, fuzzily, recalled that in the last week she had been doing some of her periodic redecorating. Some new pillows had appeared in various places. Some nick-nacks had been replaced, and family photos had been rotated to more recent shots, that kind of thing.

Only this Kleenex holder had a small hole on the side of the box that was angled toward the entire room. I filed this suspicion away and got up, taking inventory of the room. My toothbrush was still there, so I could make a shiv when I needed to. I laughed too loudly at my own joke, and Robyn's voice started up from the speakers on the bed.

The back of the toilet tank was also still there, and a quick check revealed it was not glued down. I noted the mirror, again. The first time I had looked I was a little distracted. I made a more thorough examination.

A male chastity belt. Of course I had run across a few pictures online, but it wasn't something I investigated in depth. Nor had I read up on female chastity, for the record. I like having immediate access to my wife's sexy bits.

I had to pull my stomach in hard just to barely fit a finger under the padded steel belt; it was that tight. It sat above my hips, which made it unlikely I could just push it down, and who knew how my poor penis was entrapped within? I would have to research, which meant I would need a computer or smartphone, which was appearing less and less likely.

The mirror had revealed something else, which got lost in the shuffle of outrage over the chastity belt and the discovery of what looked like a hidden camera in the bathroom. A second strap, or little belt, wrapped from the back of the corset to the front, and was also fastened with a small padlock. The laces were completely covered by a stiffened fabric panel and locked in what turned out to be three places, top, middle, and bottom.

The wheels in my head were already turning, but I needed to understand the full scope of this disaster. I left the bathroom and continued my investigation in our bedroom. There was a note taped over the framed photo of me and Robyn that I kept on my chest of drawers. It simply said "Start Here" in big block letters with an arrow pointing down toward the drawers.

I opened the top drawer. It was empty. No socks. No underwear. No $500 in twenties that I kept for emergencies.

All the drawers were empty, save the bottom one, which had a sheet of paper with an arrow pointing at the closet door. I opened the closet door. All the clothes were gone, as were the shoes. Even Robyn's stuff was gone. I suppose I could have worn her sweats in a pinch, maybe a T-shirt, but why did she take her shoes? She was a size seven and I was a size ten. A plastic tote sat on the floor, pushed all the way to the right, and I saw something hanging from the rod, wrapped in plastic.

And a note, of course, telling me to look on the back of the closet door. Dutifully, I turned. There was another mirror. Great. More glass to make mayhem with if the rest of the house turned out to be as empty as the master suite. I got another good look at myself too, and noticed my legs and arms had been shaved, or something. Waxed, chemically de-haired, who knows what they did to me? Yes, I was sure now that Robyn had the aid of friends in her twisted little game. The point is, the hair was gone. My face was smoother than it had been in months.

My mind flitted back to April, when Robyn had angrily suggested I try on the clothes I wanted to see her wearing. I looked every bit as ridiculous as I had imagined I would.

I refocused and saw a large envelope taped to the door, at eye level next to the mirror. My name had been scribbled on it in heavy marker, along with the initials R.I.P. and a very nice line drawing of some lilies. Understandably, this shook me a little, which may have contributed to the excessive force I used tearing the envelope off the door, which swung nearly closed as I pulled at the tape.

This was more than a short note, Robyn had written me an epistle, longhand, covering several pages. I started reading, turning so the low wattage closet light shined on the page.

Dear Husband,

Andy is, temporarily, no longer with us. Maybe he crossed his heart one too many times. In his place is now Dina, the tall, willowy, dusky vixen who loves her lingerie and heels, her short dresses, make-up, and all the accessories of the fairer sex.

Yes, you are Dina for now. Face it love, you have a bosom, no visible sex organs, and you sit to pee.

I stopped reading and crumpled the pages in my hands, compressing the multiple sheets of paper into as small and tight a ball as I could before dropping it to the floor. Backing out of the closet, I scanned the room, searching frantically for some sign that this was all an elaborate joke that would end soon. My breath was coming in ragged, jerky gasps and my heart pounded inside my pink prison. With barely any warning, I felt the first spasms start.

I raced to the bathroom, only five or so steps to the toilet. My knees slammed painfully against the floor as I vomited into the porcelain bowl. If you've never thrown up while wearing a tight laced corset and chastity appliance, it's a chore. Between episodes of barfing, her recorded words and the start of her letter kept coming back to me.

Fuck her.

The smell was horrendous, and my abs ached in ways I'm not sure I had ever felt. When I thought I was done, I flushed and sat back on my haunches. My brain had just told my legs to stand me up when my stomach flip-flopped again and sent truly nasty globs of something spewing into the clean water. I stayed down this time, waiting until I was certain the nausea had passed.

The phone beside the bed started ringing. Believing it was Robyn, fantasizing that she was calling to release me, having seen the results of her warped game being forcibly ejected from my guts, I raced to the phone, diving across the bed to grab it. I heard her voice and felt a gush of relief.

It was the little black sound player and speakers on the bed, activating at the sound of my voice.

The call was a fucking phone scam about my credit card rate. I clicked the end call button and then clicked talk. No dial tone. Somehow, the phone had been rigged to allow incoming calls but not outgoing. I looked at it again. The damn thing was new, silver instead of our trusty black cordless handsets.

"FUCK!" I threw the phone as hard as I could. It exploded against Robyn's dresser, gouging the wood. Fragments of plastic sprayed the room.

"Hey sweetie-"

I yanked wires apart and the little audio player and speakers quickly followed the phone, though with less spectacular results. My vision swam and alternating waves of hot and cold ran over my skin and through my flesh.

I was beyond pissed, and there was no way in fucking hell this day would end with me still trapped in Robyn's fucking game. I put the sharp edge of one pink tipped finger against the skin of my chest and dragged it through the two strokes of an X. The scratch was deep enough to draw blood, which oozed slowly from the vivid mark.

I took as deep a breath as the fucking corset allowed, then started playing a game of my own.

Chapter 4 - Seeds of Destruction

The first thing I did was sit on the bed and calm down. I breathed, trying to oxygenate my air starved body. My mind wandered, gathering data and planning without conscious input. Also, unless she was rushing home to release me, I didn't want Robyn here. I figured her arrival would signal intensification of her plot, not abandonment of it. Mindful of the cameras probably watching me, I sat, and I breathed, and I thought.

My eyes flicked around the room. There was a little stuffed toy atop her chest, angled to take in the room. That was new. Something else tickled my memory. I turned to look at the alarm clock. It read 7:19. It was also not our old alarm clock, and in fact had a tiny black dot in the lower left of the face plate that looked a lot like a camera lens or lens window.

I wondered where the video was going. I assumed there was audio too. It occurred to me the devices might have onboard memory as well. That could be handy. Questions flooded my mind in rapid succession. How many of her friends were in on this? Neighbors? Who were they? How was I getting out of this fucking corset, and worse yet, the fucking chastity belt? Who was downstairs, as her messages had twice hinted? Was Robyn cheating on me?


The question came out of the blue, bubbling up from my fertile imagination. The more it rolled around inside my skull, the more sense it made.

My wife was cheating on me, and decided that humiliating the shit out of me in front of friends, neighbors, and total strangers would be the perfect way to get rid of me. Funny. I always pictured her as a murder-me-over-dinner kind of woman, quick and merciful, possibly not even seen coming. The picture clarified. She must think there was no way I'd take her to court or go to the cops or do anything other than slink away in mortified shame after this. Short of murder, it was the perfect out. Most guys would agree to any settlement just to be away from a psycho bitch capable of this kind of shit.

Most guys.

No. It made no sense.

I reconsidered. She wouldn't do that. I could practically see the tiny angelic version of me perched on my right shoulder, trying to talk sense into me. Robyn had never shown this level of cruelty, right? I was listening, but the seeds of destruction had already been planted.

I stood up, reminding myself to breathe. I had to breathe constantly, in short quick cycles, to keep enough oxygen running through my system. I went back to the closet. The object hanging from the rod was heavily wrapped in plastic, but I thought I could see a black dress. I took it off the rod, laying it on the bed.

Looking at the plastic, it occurred to me that if I could barely see the dress for the plastic, the plastic might make an adequate cover for me. I carefully removed the wrapping and considered the dress. It was black with a round white collar and white trim on the openings of the sleeves. When I saw the separate white apron, I realized it was a maid's dress. Would wearing this to escape be more humiliating than the pink corset or less? I could wrap it around my waist, and that was about it. Useless.

Well, maybe not totally useless, I thought as I considered the amount of fabric. I wrapped the dress around my waist, covering my ass, securing it with knotted sleeves, which provided some cover over my crotch. Then I wrapped the plastic around the corset, partially concealing the pink fabric and obscuring the shape of my new hourglass figure.

I retrieved the tote, my new shirt squeaking annoyingly the whole time, and emptied it onto the bed. It was also getting warm under the layers. Anyway, a lot of little boxes, packages, and a book, fell out. I ignored all that shit, but I thought a plastic tote might come in handy. From the bathroom, I retrieved the tissue box hidden camera combo and took it apart. Paydirt. Well, if paydirt was verifying that your cheating sack of shit wife had been broadcasting surveillance footage of your new career as a transvestite lingerie model and projectile vomiter, then I had hit the mother lode.

The tissue box pieces got tossed on top of the bed. I yanked the alarm clock free of the wall outlet, smashed it against the nightstand, and tossed the broken bits onto the pile. I grabbed the little plush toy from the dresser, holding it in a death grip. I would have my own record of the day's events, from my perspective.

Then I took stock of the two rooms. I had a toilet tank lid as an improvised blunt force weapon. The thick glass of either bathroom mirror would make a fine knife when combined with a hand towel. I could set the house on fire from here, any number of ways actually, but a curling iron, blow dryer, makeup mirror, or just plain electric current from any number of sources were close at hand. If I wanted a flood instead of a fire, I could also turn the water on in the tub, shower, both sinks, and toilet, and direct the outflow to the floor instead of a drain.

I filed all but the mirror glass under 'Plan Last Resort' just in case. The glass was looking like 'Plan A' for getting free of the damn corset. I was fairly certain cutting the stiff fabric of the corset would leave me a bloody mess though.

Fuzzy friend in hand, I toured the rest of the second floor. The two spare bedrooms were as barren as my own room. No curtains, bed linens, blankets, pillow cases, and so on. The other upstairs bathroom was the same. All three rooms had spy cams in them. I closed the doors as I left. True to her word, Robyn had left me less than nothing for covering up and escaping. I searched thoroughly anyway. I found a penny as I shut the last door. It was heads up.

I picked it up and dropped it in my decolletage.

My office door had been replaced. What had been the standard light weight, hollow core, bedroom door was now a dead-bolted solid wood affair (there was that word again) with no key stuck in the lock for my convenience. The little devil popped up on my left shoulder and commented on how long Robyn must have been planning this little charade.

I agreed.

Okay, there was no little devilish me on my shoulder. I may have anger issues, but I'm not hallucinatory. The notion was sound, though. I didn't just piss her off last night and find myself in girl's reform school on a whim. This was a long term plan, executed with help, and it must have cost a good bit too. I don't know what a corset and chastity belt cost, but I could tell you to the dollar what that door and lockset ran these days.

Just to be sure, I gripped the knob and pushed quietly. The frame had not been replaced, so I could probably bust the door out of the frame if I had too. Was I going to find an empty room for my trouble, or a set of keys, or my wife? I would save that as a last resort too. It would give me something to do while the house caught fire.

I wanted to see what was waiting downstairs, but I didn't want to come back upstairs before making whatever getaway I was about to make. This left me with a few decisions to make. I stepped back into the bathroom and realized I could just take a hand mirror if I needed sharp glass, so I picked up the larger of the two Robyn had next to her vanity, and I grabbed a couple washcloths for improvised handles, should it come to that.

No sound or other indication drifted up the stairs, which surprised me. By now, I imagined I would have an audience of Robyn's shithead friends, taunting me or whatever. On the other hand, there were probably still active cameras enabling my every move to be examined in detail and recorded for posterity.

I put the mirror and the washcloths in the tote.

The room looked wrong. It was sterile. A motel room that had been stripped for cleaning, devoid of any hint of the people who had lived in it, however temporarily. For a moment, sadness replaced my anger. I looked around and had more thoughts. I grabbed the balled up letter and the MP3 player I had thrown across the room. They might be needed in court later, I thought as I tossed them in the box. I put the lid on the tote and placed the little stuffed horse on top, camera eye pointing up at me.

Walking down the stairs was a bit of theater, since I couldn't see my feet that well.

"Can't see shit! Can't see shit! Corset and tits!" I sang the line in a whisper to myself as I carefully descended.

I turned right at the bottom and into the den, which was a quaint word for a room with a big screen TV and comfortable seats. Two women lounged in my sofa and chair as though they owned the place. They both had their phones out. Carrie sat on the sofa. Gone were her Valentine's card duds. Today she wore a ripped black button up shirt over a ripped black t-shirt that showed a generous amount of her midriff. Her dark hair was tousled and wild, and her make up was dark and intense. Black cargo shorts, cut off to make most of the pockets useless, covered her hips, barely. Black fishnet stockings and a pair of black army boots finished the look.

In the chair, sitting up straight and looking like she meant to be in charge, was Stephanie. Her dark red hair was cut pixie style, and she was decked out in gym clothes closely mimicking Heather's from last night. Cropped tank top, green. Skin tight yoga pants with a wavy line pattern on them, gray. Her shoes were those clunky white sneakers like the high school girls wear to stroll about the shops downtown.

They burst into laughter when I entered the room, but quickly composed themselves. I ignored them.

"You are being a very naughty girl, Dina," Carrie said sweetly, her tone at odds with her goth thrasher outfit. She turned to Stephanie, "Maybe it's good she's plastic wrapped? We do need to get her hair done."

"Get back upstairs and get properly dressed, Dina. You don't want to disappoint your lovely wife. Robyn went through a lot of trouble to arrange today's education for you. When you return, bring your hair care supplies with you." Stephanie ordered. She projected friendly confidence and control, but there was a hint of wariness to both of them. Then I realized they had been watching a video feed of me having my assorted meltdowns, at least until I destroyed or moved some of the cameras.

I'd have to keep an eye on Stephanie. She was one of Heather's martial arts students, and pretty damn good as I recalled. I noted with interest that the couch cushions were still in place, though I'd have to wrestle them out from under two angry women. The dining room set was still there. Chairs and table, cherry, or something hard and heavy stained cherry. Either way, I added makeshift clubs to my list of assets. Even the karate chick might think twice about having a chair swung at her head.

I walked past them into the dining room on my way to the kitchen. They didn't move. I noticed the china cabinet was empty. No plates, stemware, cake dishes, and so on. But I saw the back of the couch. The biggest swath of fabric I had seen in the house so far was the upholstery on that piece of furniture. Clearly, desperation level had been reached. I also noted the number of disguised web cams scattered throughout the three rooms. Whatever happened here in the house today, it would be well documented.

I probably don't need to mention how utterly devoid of anything useful the kitchen was. Of course the knives were gone. Forks as well. And plates, glasses, canned goods. Pretty much anything that could be thrown or turned into a cutting tool or weapon was gone. Though the bar stools at the breakfast counter were still there. I looked down the hall. The key that usually resided in the deadbolt lock on this side of the basement was gone. That door was steel, set in a steel frame. I wouldn't gain entry to the basement that way.

"There's nothing in there for you, Dina," Stephanie called, apparently still not moving. I believed her.

I continued foraging. The cabinets were well stocked with paper plates, plastic cups, plastic spoons, and sporks. There were still a number of non-hazardous utensils as well. Or at least what the amateur mayhem artist might think of as non-hazardous. I noted a nice serving spoon with a thick handle. That would make a good tool for busting the fucking locks off the corset.

"Get back in here, Dina. You're just making this harder on yourself!" Carrie added a moment later. "Don't think we won't tie you to the table and spank your ass!"

"Coffee." I said, finally deigning to acknowledge their presence. It was tough to pull off, ignoring their threats and acting like I didn't give a shit what they saw. As far as I knew, they had already seen everything, so why should I give a fuck? They could stare at my ridiculous appearance all they wanted, if that's what kept them out of my way.

"On the counter. There's styrofoam cups." I wasn't sure which one said that. The promised coffee was one of those pod machines. My phone was there too, plugged into the charger as promised. My wallet was also there. I checked it. It held my driver's license and health insurance card and nothing else. Even my small collection of photos was gone. Into the tote it went. My PIN didn't unlock my phone. I clicked the emergency call button. I could call Robyn or 911. The phone joined my wallet in the tote.

"I hate that soy latte foamed crappacino double shot latte shit," I said. I didn't shout, just spoke and let them decide if they heard me.

"You said 'latte' twice." That was Carrie. I had never been on the receiving end of her reputedly acid wit, but I thought she might be warming up to give me a taste. 'Fuck you' didn't seem like constructive repartee, so I just kept looking. Finally, in the pantry, I found a battered old multi-piece pot and some filters that didn't fit but could be pressed into service. The coffee grounds were there, but not much else useful. I noticed that even the garbage bags were gone.

That triggered a pleasant memory. Me and Robyn at a concert when we were first dating. We had no rain gear, fancy or otherwise, to deal with the soaking wet outdoor venue. We had garbage bags and the tiniest pocket knife ever, which had been ignored by the security check. I shook my head and got back to business, but the memory persisted, ricocheting around my tired brain. How had it all gone so wrong?

I started the water to heating. The stove worked. The gas stove, in case you thought I was kidding about burning the house down. The toaster was still on the counter, which was weird, I thought. The room was like an arson kit, which sparked a thought.

I opened a cabinet tucked into a corner and presto, a few bottles of booze, mainly used for cooking. I grabbed a bottle of brandy and set it on the counter next to the coffee grounds and sad little stack of filters.

As the water heated, I looked around, noting the sliding glass door leading out to the patio and back yard. There was a shed out there, and a basement access door. I was certain they were locked or empty, or maybe both, but I knew a couple things I doubted Robyn did.

The door slid open, letting the warm air flood in, triggering the AC to start. Both women were instantly up from their seats, still keeping their distance. I saw Stephanie scan the room, noting my coffee preparations.

"Little early, don't you think?" She tilted her head at the counter.

"Just a splash," I said.

Carrie was more confrontational. "You go out, we lock the door behind you. And believe me, you'll pay with more than a little spanking to get back inside." The look on her face dared me to test that pronouncement. I shrugged, picked up my trusty bin, and stepped out onto the patio.

The door slid shut hard, and the latch snapped into place. I strode across my lush green lawn. Erin Campbell was looking out her kitchen window, straight at me, thanks to the fact that her tri-level house put her kitchen above my fence. Another friend of Robyn's. I waved and kept walking. I swear she smiled before twitching the curtains closed. Bitch. Tomorrow's headline would read "Insane Transvestite Goes on Murder Rampage in Quiet Middle Class Neighborhood" which suited me fine for a moment before my surge of anger evaporated.

There were three things I needed from the back yard. First was a pair of flip flops that had been abandoned near the wood pile after I stepped in some dog shit last summer. That stray dog's habit of crapping in my yard was the reason we had a new fence, by the way. I also needed the broken shovel head that I had hurled into the holly bushes that grew inside the corner of the fence, and a brick.

I could probably have executed my plan with one of the bar stools as my persuasion, but I really wanted something on my feet, even cheap plastic sandals.

The flip flops were gone. I doubted Robyn had done that last night. I might have tossed them and forgot, run over them with the mower, or they might have been buried under fallen leaves and grass clippings. The shovel blade, with a foot of handle still attached, was deep in the holly, and it cost me more scratches to retrieve. But I did get it. All the scratches on my arms, face, and shoulders reminded me of the X shaped scratch on my chest. Neither woman had commented on my self-inflicted mark. Maybe that little bit of craziness was why they were being so circumspect?

Armed with a potentially lethal weapon and a stuffed animal spy cam, I went to collect my final prize, a brick. Not just any brick, but a red brick colored landscape border stone that weighed the same as four or five regular bricks. I tucked the brown and white toy horse camera into my hair and held the tote under my left arm.

The little horse needed a fitting name. I stopped, noting the sudden expression of uncertainty on Carrie's formerly smug face. I decided on May, short for Mayhem. Together we stepped onto the patio.

Both women were now talking into their mobiles. I thought they looked a little frantic, but I might be giving myself too much credit. Who would be afraid of a corseted, dick armored, plastic wrapped specter of pink hell striding into battle with a piece of shovel and an oversize brick? Whatever they thought of me, Stephanie finished her conversation, reached past Carrie, and unlatched the door just as I began the awkward wind up with the brick.

As badly as I wanted to break that door, I checked my throw. The two women had stepped away from the door, but were still close. I dropped the rock just as I reached the entrance, giving it a little spin so it would hopefully not land on my foot. The door opened easily and I walked in. No one jumped me. Carrie did not produce a gun from her purse and start barking orders, which was a possibility I had considered. Sirens were not howling in the distance.

I wanted to hurt them. I wanted to hurt anyone right now. The fantasy frothed wildly in my brain. I told my brain to shut up and get with the program. I am not a psychopath. It was a compelling fairy tale, though, prevailing over such personal evil by sheer force of will and martial prowess. Fantasy bullshit.

I shut the door behind me and returned to my coffee prep, leaving my possessions on the counter. The water boiled furiously in the little pot, as I had intended. I put May on the counter, pointing the camera toward the waiting women. Boiling water really would make a good weapon, I thought as I glanced at the two women who stood at the edge of the dining room entryway.

"For fuck sake," I said silently, imploring my aching head to work with me. I was finessing my way out of here. Violence was the last of a long line of last resorts, assuming I could even do it. Miracle of miracles, my tired mind refocused rationally on the problem at hand.

I turned away from them for a second and poured the boiling water into a cup, or so I hoped they thought. I had filled the cup with tap water before going out the door. Turning and stepping at the same time, smiling as I clutched my cup as though I planned to drink it, I made sure Carrie was actively texting and then I threw the water at her.

She yelled as she jumped, arms flailing, obviously expecting scalding hot coffee. I grabbed her phone.

"Shit! Dammit! Give me that!"

So much for her acid wit. Stephanie, who was also having a love affair with her phone, started toward me. I moved fast to the counter and grabbed the shovel, while continuing to press letter keys to enter text and keep the phone from timing out.

"Drop it, Dina." Stephanie said from about six feet away. I hefted the shovel blade like I knew how to use it and glanced down long enough to get the menu to the little phone icon. The phone vibrated, an incoming call. Gee. I wonder who that could be?

"It's Andy, you fucking bitch, and don't come any closer. You may be a bad ass, Stephanie, but I have nothing to lose right now. If I land one lucky shot, I won't stop. I won't be able to stop."

She paused then, and I think it was that last sentence that did it. Carrie was edging closer as well, at a loss for words.

"That goes double for you, Carrie. I actually want you to try something." My brain disconnected from my mouth, focusing on the phone. I punched a number in from memory. "I will beat you bloody and when my future ex-wife gets here, I'll give her the same."

Carrie blanched. Her mouth popped open but nothing came out. Stephanie inched forward, but I was ready, turning the burner up to high and dropping a kitchen towel very close to the flame. I picked up the bottle of brandy, pouring a little onto the towel to demonstrate my intent.

"I have no problem setting this dump on fire," I said. She stopped.

"Hello," the voice from the phone answered.

"Deacon! It's Andy and I need your help right now. It's an emergency. I'll be on the curb in front of the house."

"Got it," he said. The call disconnected. I punched in another number, Henry Arnold, attorney.

"Carrie? I thought you were off today?" Henry said, probably from his office downtown.

Well of course Carrie would be in his contact list. What a dumb fucking move calling him was. I looked from face to face, but the women were frozen in place.

"Henry, it's Andy Simmons. I had to borrow Carrie's phone. Mine is busted."

"Oh. Good to hear from you, Andy. I thought you'd be on your way to the mountains or the beach. Aren't you off next week?"

"Yes, but, we didn't plan ahead and now every place we like is booked solid, so we're staying home this week. Listen, I had a problem come up that I don't want to discuss on the phone. Do you have an open spot in your calendar early next week?" There was a moment of silence as he consulted whatever oracular device kept his calendar.

"Tuesday at 9:00."

"I'll take it. And Henry, this one is carved in stone. I will be there and if I'm not, it won't be by choice. Do not accept any cancellations for this meeting, especially text or email. I will be there, in person."

There was another longer pause. "I'll be in the office from 3:00 until 5:00 this afternoon. Just come by." I heard him take a deep breath. "What have you done, Andy?"

"It'll have to keep, Henry. Thanks. I'll see you in a while." As much as I wanted to keep Carrie's phone, which had not stopped vibrating with incoming calls or texts the whole time I had it, it was of limited use now. I tossed it at her. Surprised, she fumbled the phone and it fell to the floor, still buzzing. I picked up my tote, my toy, and my shovel. Belatedly, I realized Henry might think that Carrie and I were up to something. Oops.

Stephanie still waited, like a coiled spring. "You have no idea what you've done, you stupid, fucking, asshole."

Wow. I will have to make an effort with my next wife's friends. I did not think I was so universally despised.

"You didn't have to do this, Stephanie," I said, taking the high ground by not calling her a cunt like I really wanted to. "Clearly, you think I'm a sub-human piece of shit, so did you really expect me to come flouncing down the stairs as Maid Dina with a smile on my face and a song on my lips? You're supposed to be smart. Back up and let me by."

"What happened to you?" she said. I thought she was looking at the scratches on my chest, but looking back, it might have been a more general question. At the time, I was sure she meant to jump me, expecting me to look down. I watched Carrie out of the corner of my eye, but she was engrossed with her phone.

"Didn't Robyn tell you?" I said, deliberately answering her question with nonsense. No one moved. "Get the fuck out of my way," I said.

"Robyn wants you to wait for her. She says she can explain," Carrie said. She looked sick, suddenly pale and a little sweaty.

"Are you on the phone with her? Or are you just texting?"

"On voice," she answered. She held the phone against her chest, as though that might keep our chat private.

"That ship has sailed," I said. A cold dread filled me when they didn't move. Last resorts loomed over us all.

"Please," Carrie said. "She's calling the house. Just talk to her."

"Fuck her. And fuck you. And fuck all your absent friends who helped with this idiocy. I will see you all in court. Now get out of the fucking way, or I will cut you down where you stand."

And just like that, the women were out of words. I could hear a voice, tinny and small, issuing from Carrie's mobile. The house phone started ringing. The two women finally moved out of my way. I walked past them, wanting to show dignity and control, but really afraid of tripping and killing myself with my own improvised weapon. They stayed back, keeping ten feet away at least.

"Tell me, Carrie, who's she with now? What's his name?"

Her brows knit together, and an utterly vapid, uncomprehending look clouded her face. Really, why had I ever thought she was hot?

I left the house through the front door, and I could see Deacon's truck coming down the street. Behind me, the phone was still ringing.

I recalled the stunned expression on Carrie's face, the total disconnection, as though I had asked her what starlight tastes like. Now I knew one thing with utter certainty. There was no other man.

Well. That drained a lot of the old time righteous fury right out of me.

Chapter 5 - The Nuts and Bolts of Escape

I waved down Deacon. Understandably, he was not slowing down for a half-naked street walker. The flash of recognition on his face will be etched in my mind forever. I dropped the tote in the already crowded bed of the massive diesel crew cab and climbed into the passenger seat.

"Go," I said.

He went. We were out of the subdivisions when he finally turned to look at me. "Andy," his surprisingly deep voice filled the cab. "What happened to you?"

"Robyn," I answered. "And her… friends." I kept my voice down and my temper in check. Deacon was the best example of humanity I knew. He would give a stranger the shirt off his back, run into a burning building to rescue a dog, and might even be up for giving you a kidney. On the other hand, he had a low tolerance for swearing, drinking, blasphemy, stupidity, and shenanigans of all kinds. Right now I pretty much checked all the boxes. I really didn't want him to leave me on the side of the road.

"Robyn," he said. "Could you be a little more detailed?" We were approaching a fork in the road and he put his right turn signal on.

"Don't go to your place," I said. He took his foot off the gas. "Please. I need some tools to get out of this…" I bit my tongue. "Out of this predicament, and some clothes, and a ride downtown."

"That's all you need?" he asked.

My head drooped forward. I discovered it was possible to want to scream and to cry at the same time. I did neither. "Thanks, Deacon. Does this put you up by one or by two?"

"I quit counting years ago," he said. "I will do whatever I can to help, but I really do need to know what I'm getting into." The truck turned right anyway, but then turned onto a dirt track at the edge of his place instead of continuing toward his house. His phone started singing about angels.

"Yes, Miss Maddie," he said to the air. He must have installed a hands free device in his ancient diesel beast of a truck.

"Where are you?" his wife said.

"In the truck. Andy's with me, and you're on speaker," he said.

That's the fundamental difference between Deacon and most of the rest of the world. I could think of twenty smart-ass things to say to Robyn in such a situation, or, I might have neglected to tell her I wasn't alone and seen what kind of laughs that sparked.

"But where are you?" she reiterated. I was shaking my head and waving my arms, but Deacon wasn't lying to Maddie, not on my account, probably not ever.

"Heading to the barn."

"Alright. See you shortly," Maddie said and the call ended.

"Stop here, please," I said.

The truck slowed to a stop. Deacon turned to face me.

"I apparently upset Robyn. Upset her a lot, though I didn't realize how much. Last night, she had a couple friends over to the house, and I grilled dinner. She got me drunk, probably drugged my food. While I was out cold, she fixed me up like this. Well, not exactly like this. There's a corset under this plastic and a metal belt under the black cloth wrapped around me."

He blinked, once, and stared at me like I had lost my mind.

"I don't know how many of her friends helped, but at least three of them did. They also removed or locked away everything from the house that I might wear to cover this mess, anything I could use as a tool to get out of this mess, my car, keys, credit cards, and money. They disabled my access to phones and computers." I stopped for a breath.

Deacon just sat, watching me unload. For a brief second I wondered if he was in on the plot too.

"Robyn left me an outfit to wear. I will spare you the details, but I decided not to cooperate. Oh," I lifted May, "she also spread little spy cameras all over the house to record the festivities."

"Then how'd you get away?"

I was barely keeping my shit together, the enormity of the day now landed on my shoulders like a ton of bricks.

"Without leaving a trail of broken bodies in my wake," I said. Deacon twitched a little at my answer.

"Did you hurt anyone?"

"Only their feelings."

"Then how'd you do it?" he asked again.

"I snatched Carrie's phone after she unlocked it to make a call. I threatened them both with my trusty shovel here, and they didn't try anything. I grabbed my stuff and ran out of the house before anyone could change their mind about stopping me."

"How'd you come by that shovel, Andy?"

"Can we play twenty questions while I use a set of bolt cutters, please?" I asked.

"Please answer me. I just want to know what I'm getting into," he said, evenly and reasonably as ever.

"I remembered that I had thrown it into the bushes in a fit of snit after I broke it trying to pry up that rock. You recall? The rock that turned out needing a backhoe to dig up?"

He laughed. "Yes. I remember that. Y'all kept me all day, but you fed me lunch and fed the whole family dinner too. Okay, hop out. Mind your feet though."

I hesitated, and he read my mind.

"I don't need a shop for this, Andy. I carry tools with me. Though I don't know what we'll do for clothes. I have boots and a rain suit in the box," he pointed at the truckbed tool box. "That should be enough to get you to the dollar store. I'll spot you the money for some new clothes."

The step down from the truck cab was long and a bit treacherous, but I relished the thought that it would be the last step I would take wearing a fucking corset and chastity belt. Deacon looked up at me as though he could hear my mental obscenities. He tossed the plastic pants and jacket at me. Then a pair of rubber boots that I prayed would fit.

"Stay put. No sense getting this far with just a few scratches only to step on a rusty nail or piece of glass." He wrestled with boxes and waterproof bags, looking for something.

In my plastic tote, I could hear my phone buzzing. It was Robyn, I imagined, and I wasn't sure I wanted to talk to her right now. Less than an hour ago, I had imagined murdering her, and voiced that proposition to one of her friends, who I also threatened to kill. Not exactly a firm foundation for patching up our differences.

I opened the box and dug out the phone anyway, dropping my shovel to the soft grass of the old pasture. The blade broke in two when it hit the ground. I laughed hysterically, holding the buzzing phone and sliding to the ground, back to the truck. Tears of relief, humor, and sadness fell freely, watering the ground, wetting my plastic wrap, and stinging my scratches. Deacon rounded the back of the truck, a huge set of bolt cutters in his powerful hands.

Deacon is not tall, but he is big. I had him by four or five inches height-wise, but he outweighed me by at least sixty pounds, all of it dense muscle. He waited for me to figure out what I was doing. My phone would not stop buzzing. I decided to answer it, then maybe I'd have a moment's peace to plan the rest of the day.

The video chat icon was flashing. I put my thumb over the lens and accepted the call.

"Oh, thank God," was the first thing out of her mouth.

"What is it, Robyn? I'm a little busy right now."

"Please just come home," she said. Her face filled the viewing window, and I couldn't tell where she was. "I'll meet you there. We can fix this if you'll just come back."

"I'll be back later tonight. I've got a lot of errands to run today."

"Deacon? Don't let him talk you into trouble," she said. This pissed me off, for no other reason than her friends could treat me like shit and my friends were supposed to kiss her ass.

"What's the PIN for my phone now, Robyn?" I asked before Deacon could respond. She just looked at me. "My new PIN, Robyn. You were the one who set it, right?"

"I can't…"

I hung up. It was buzzing again in seconds, so I turned it off. I would dump it later and get a new one. Well, maybe. I had to see what was left in the bank account first. I could be penniless now for all I knew.

"You should try…" Deacon stopped when I looked up at him from my seat in the grass. He didn't flinch or react in any other way to whatever expression was on my face. He just pursed his lips and blew out a breath. "Okay. Stand up, and let's get this done."

I stood. Plastic and a black dress quickly fell to the ground. The bolt cutters made short work of the padlocks. Naturally, it couldn't be that easy. Yes, I'm guilty of asking Robyn if she would try a corset. The only thing I knew about them, before wearing one today, was that they shaped a torso and had laces, and I wasn't sure about laces. I just wanted her to wear something sexy and different and, I don't know, fitted?

Now I was learning that in addition to the laces that had been concealed in the back, there was a zipper and some hook closures that had been concealed in the front. And everything had been locked, or covered and then locked. My fingernails made opening the various little fasteners insanely difficult.

"Andy," Deacon said quietly, clearly noting my frustration. I looked up and he handed me some nail clippers.

"Thanks." After turning my long pink fingernails into short pink fingernails, I had the thing off in a jiff. I held it, studying it. Part of me was deciding how many pieces to cut it into. Part of me was learning something that Robyn maybe wanted me to learn, and that was happening despite my resistance to learning anything at all. I inhaled deeply and threw the offending garment into the tote.

The motion set my tits to jiggling, which snapped me back to the moment.

"What size would you say these are?" I said without thinking of my audience.

"I don't know. More than B. Maybe more than C. I think D," Deacon answered.

I looked over at him. He was, of course, totally serious. "Are you making a joke?"

"No. It depends on a combination of two measurements. Don't forget, I got married in high school, so it's not like Maddie's clothes and sizes are a mystery."

I gripped one prosthetic breast with both hands and slowly tugged. It was glued on firmly, and my actual skin beneath began to sting in protest. I pried at the edges of the plastic with my fingers, but no gap or crack appeared. Well, I wasn't about to wait for them to fall off.

"Any idea what would take these off?" I asked. Deacon did what all good modern folks do, he pulled out his phone and started a web search. While he searched, I continued probing for weak points.

"It depends. There are a variety of adhesives available." He went back to his phone

I was thinking about turning my phone back on, but didn't really want to hear more of Robyn's bullshit. I was a little surprised not to see her cruising by. That was one reason I had asked Deacon not to go straight to his place. The other reason was he has five kids, and I did not want them to see me. Finally, I really didn't want to deal with Maddie.

"This says some kind of hydrated naphtha, which I don't have in the truck. Another one is isobutane and some silicone compound I can't hope to pronounce. There's others, but none of them are things I have on the truck. I have some WD40, propyl alcohol, anti-freeze, and acetone. I wouldn't recommend using any of those on your skin, except maybe the WD40."

"Let's try it," I said. "And the acetone too, if you don't mind. That should take the nail polish off, right?"

As it turned out, WD40 does not dissolve boob adhesive, and industrial strength acetone is hard on the skin. It dissolved the nail polish, and it dissolved the nail extensions, or press-ons, or whatever Robyn had done. Later I would learn that the process is called a gel nail, and it is meant to be very durable. My skin was utterly dried out where the acetone had touched it. However, this did prevent me from trying acetone on my fake breasts, which was probably a good thing.

"Just give me a knife, please. I'm wasting too much time messing around with this stuff," I said. Deacon stopped rummaging in the truck bed and looked at me.

"You're just going to hack them off? Those things must have cost some real money," he said.

Now it was my turn to stare. "And I'm going to return them for a refund, you think? Or maybe I'll just bust them out and glue them on for old time's sake next year. Or this winter. They have been so nice and warm."

Deacon bowed up a bit, and I was afraid I had run someone else off with my mouth. Then he relaxed and paused before he spoke.

"Andy, I have a wife and five kids, and I work as a handyman for the area churches. Penny pinching is second nature to me. I'm sorry that my mouth got ahead of my mind. I can't imagine how stressful today has been for you."

"No problem. I should be apologizing to you for being such a smart - uh - smarty pants. If I hadn't gotten hold of you…" I left the words hanging in the air. He held out a utility knife.

"Fresh blade. Don't hurt yourself."

I could go into the details of the procedure. The short story is I hacked the damn things until there was about a quarter inch layer of plastic or rubber or whatever the fuck it was still bonded to my skin.

"Next," I said, feeling more buoyed by the minute, but also aware of the amount of time this was taking.

"How do you want to do this?" Deacon asked, uncertainty in his voice for the first time.

"Can you cut the waistband?"

"I don't think so, well, not in one go at least. The cutting head needs a lot of room and that thing looks pretty tight."

I thought for a few seconds. "Let me see where it's loosest. I sucked my belly in and worked a finger under the belt at my right hip. I thought it would be loose at the crack of my ass, but that was not the case, at least not while standing up. After a couple good breaths, I tried again, working from the side toward the front.

As it turned out, the damn thing was the loosest right below my navel, perilously close to where I keep vital parts of my anatomy. Finally, I hit upon a plan. I leaned back against the truck and pressed my fingers into my abs, pushing the tissue in and a little down. Deacon made three cuts in quick succession, and the belt was severed. I bent the belt away from my body and looked down at the cup-like shield pressing on my cock and balls. My junk had been stuffed into some kind of downward pointing tube and my balls were just squished into the cup beside the sheath.

Gingerly, I pulled the thing loose. Nothing more than my pride and my emotional stability were damaged. I put the belt, dress, plastic wrap, and chunks of my fake tits into the handy plastic tote Robyn had so thoughtfully provided.

"You mind getting dressed," Deacon said. "Or should I drop you off at the nudist camp?"

I turned in shock. "Was that a joke, buddy? Did you just make a joke at my expense?"

"Well, I didn't want to discuss how you are just strolling around my truck in the buff. I thought you would respond better to humor."

"Two jokes! I am a bad influence on you," I said as I pulled on the plastic rain suit.

I picked up the broken pieces of my shovel and carefully placed them in the truck. I know it's an inanimate object, but it deserved better than being left in a field or thrown in the garbage. I looked into the tote, seeing the belt in a new light. "Can I see those bolt cutters for a few minutes?"

When I finished, Deacon took the heavy tool and put it behind the driver's seat. Then he picked up his phone from the top of the dash.

"I've got over thirty missed calls from your wife, eleven voice mails, and eight text messages."

The words 'fuck her' nearly escaped my mouth. But Deacon deserved better. Not that his ears would catch fire, but because I owed him. I opened my mouth to disavow her and was struck by one of those tangential thoughts that bounce through my head periodically.

If I could avoid swearing around Deacon because I owed him, what did I owe Robyn?

Chapter 6 - The Rest of the Show

The drama was over for a while. I had a pair of carpenter's jeans and a blue work shirt, underwear, socks, and sneakers. I had Deacon's utility blade in one pocket, my wallet in another, and May in still another. Carpenter's jeans have lots of pockets. We had cut my hair in the dollar store parking lot. First, I hacked as much of it off as I could with a pair of scissors, then Deacon buzzed it with the electric clippers he had just bought.

After I promised to pay him back promptly, and he promised to take good care of my other worldly possessions, still in the plastic tote in his truck, Deacon dropped me off downtown at the bank, within walking distance of Henry's office. I hoped he wasn't in trouble with Maddie. I'm pretty sure I was.

The bank showered me with sympathy and courtesy, a welcome reception. Though, one of the tellers kept glancing my way. I didn't know her more than to say hi, but that was hardly conclusive. She might have objected to the small stuffed horse peering out of my pocket. I reported my credit cards and debit card as stolen. Take that, bitches!

Our joint accounts were untouched, which I thought was odd, but welcome, news. Just to be safe, I withdrew a hefty sum, setting some aside in an envelope for my friend. I also opened a Christmas savings account in just my name and transferred some money into it. Never too early to be ready for Christmas, right?

I walked to a gas station and bought a new phone and some first aid supplies. My first burner phone. I tried to think of a good use for it. My old phone was still in the box, on its way to Deacon's. I stopped long enough to cover the scratch on my chest with ointment and a large, rectangular adhesive dressing. Three o'clock was still hours away. All the walking around I had done, combined with the slow subsidence of the stress of the day, had made me hungry.

There were a number of restaurants in the few blocks around the courthouse. I picked one I had eaten at before. The dining room was full, as were the few sidewalk tables. A number of customers stood around, waiting patiently for a table or a to-go order.

As I moved toward the to-go window, who would I find sitting at one of the outdoor tables but Heather and two of her gym rat pals, who I recognized as acquaintances of Robyn, if not friends. Once she recognized me, Heather speared me with a really ugly stare and spoke a few quiet words to her friend across the table. The woman's back was to me, but I thought it was Bobbi, a real bruiser of a lady. I could see the muscles in her back and shoulders. I chose to ignore the women, but be wary. On the other hand, my plan for a quiet lunch was in peril.

I foolishly decided not to change my course, which had me walking right past their table. As I walked by, Bobbi's hand shot out, straight at my crotch. I reacted with an instinct borne of a typical guy's lifetime of guarding against nut shots. My left hand shot down to grab her wrist and my right hand gripped her elbow.

She started to twist and get up, and I realized I had a tiger by the tail and was in jeopardy of getting my ass kicked even if Heather and her other friend didn't join in. All the day's stress and anger flooded back into me. Without thinking, I doubled down. I twisted harder on her wrist and put my weight down on her arm, pushing her elbow the wrong way.

"Sit. Down!" I hissed into her ear as her ass hit the chair. "All of you. You may fucking kill me right here, but I will break her arm backwards and laugh myself to death as she bleeds out!"

Bobbi grunted, but gave no other hint of the pain I knew she had to be in. Heather and friend sat, but they weren't done.

"You have no idea how completely you've fucked this up, you stupid dipshit asshole!" Heather spat at me from across the table. I don't just mean that her venomous words shot out at me with heat. I mean she literally spat at me.

"I think that's an act of terrorism, bitch. Assault with a deadly cock sucker." Oh, I was feeling all the pent up rage now. Heather came back up out of the chair, so I bore down on Bobbi's arm. She let out a sharp little cry.

Before I could say anything, a new voice joined the fray. "Sit down! And you, Andy Simmons, release that woman and step back!"

I turned toward the voice, which came from the street. Deputy Jenny Bellafont stood just off the curb, one hand on the butt of her holstered sidearm. I complied without hesitation, adding an extra step of separation between me and Bobbi for good measure.

No one spoke. The deputy approached the table and eyed us all, one at a time. "Tell me that was some kind of friendly martial arts demo and not an assault."

I was stunned speechless and could only nod. Heather seemed willing to accept this solution too, but Bobbi had other ideas.

"This dickhead nearly broke my arm. He threatened to cripple me! He…"

"She tried to hit him in the sac!" one of the other patrons yelled. I looked over to see a table with a couple delivery drivers about halfway through their lunch, regarding the altercation with expressions that proclaimed their hope for shots to be fired.


"I wasn't trying to hit him," she blurted.

"Oh, that makes it all better then," Deputy Bellafont said as she approached the table. She pulled up a chair and sat down. "Sit down," she said, looking up at me.

"Yes, ma'am." I nodded. I barely knew her, and had very little contact with her, despite the small size of my home town. Unlike most of the other people within my view, she was a newer resident. That also meant she had an unbiased opinion of us, for now.

"Is there something you all need to share with me? Something that might explain some of the really weird calls I've been getting today?" she asked with a sweetness that did not match the expression on her face. I had the feeling she already knew at least part of the story.

Her gaze flicked from face to face, stopping on mine. "How'd you come by all those scratches, Andy?"

"Gardening, Deputy."

"You fall into a blackberry thicket? Naked?"

This made me wonder if someone on my street had called about a naked man, or woman. "Holly, Deputy, but I had clothes on."

"Just Jenny, if you don't mind me calling you Andy," she said.

I assumed she was trying to put me at ease, playing good cop, but I went along.

"You good, Bobbi? Need some ice for that arm?" Jenny asked.

"I'm fine," she said, sinking into her chair.

"Great. So now you can start explaining yourselves, right?"

No one said anything. Where would they even start? Jenny did not look inclined to go anywhere. This was probably her most interesting encounter in months. Finally, I spoke up.

"Me and Robyn are having some problems. Messy divorce in the works," I said. To my surprise, Heather's expression suddenly became alarmed. Shaking her head, she started to object.

"I'm talking to Andy now, Heather. Be quiet." Jenny said. Her eyes never left mine, even as she addressed Heather, but now they bored right into me. "There's a fine line between a messy divorce and a domestic violence situation. Do you understand?"

"Yes, ma'am. I think the shouting's over. Just got to clean up the mess we made now." My own gaze shifted to Heather and her pals. "I'm seeing Henry in a little bit. That should calm things down."

Jenny sat, silent now, just watching. I'm pretty sure she was waiting for someone to say something stupid and hang themselves, but we were all quiet.

"Sorry to hear that, Andy. I hope everything works out for the best." She stood up to leave. I saw her eyes drop to my pocket and take in Mayhem, but she didn't say anything else. She stepped over to the two delivery drivers. I discovered I was still hungry and got up to order some food.

"Wait, Andy!" Heather said, starting to rise. "It's not…"

"Fuck you, Heather," I said quietly, not wanting to get Jenny back on the case. "Rot in hell, you fucking cunts. All of you." Heather's ass hit her chair, again, with a solid thud as she recoiled from me. Bobbi looked ready to fight. The one I didn't know simply sat, eyes wide. Do I know how to make an exit or what?

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Jenny looking back over at us. I smiled sweetly at Heather and turned my back on them all. The restaurant was busy, and my order took a while to fill, leaving me waiting uncomfortably at the scene of the crime. When I walked away from the window with my food, having decided I didn't really want to sit at one of these tables, Heather was deep in conversation with someone on her mobile.

I finished half my lunch before my guts rebelled. It was an odd sensation. I felt hungry, but at the same time, the thought of eating any more made me sick. I left the unfinished food under a tree, immediately attracting birds and a squirrel. My new phone told me it was barely noon, but I didn't have much else to do, so I headed for Henry's office figuring I'd wait it out in a safe place.


Continues in

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