She had planned it all very carefully. The time, the location, weather, equipment, even the phase of the moon for light; everything was perfect. Now she faced the one last decision to put her plan into action, the final moment at which she could stop, back out, and change her mind. Little did she realize how a simple weekend outing would turn into an adventure that profoundly changed her life.
It had all started months ago. During the week Sue Ann Mendel was an accountant at a bank in one of the more undistinguished office buildings downtown. But on weekends her hobby was scouting the surrounding desert for old Indian petroglyphs, a passion that often found her exploring the isolated areas well outside of town. She enjoyed a modest reputation as a knowledgeable amateur archaeologist, welcomed at seminars put on by the Anthropology Department at the University, and best of all tolerated by many of the mine owners whose vast land holdings usually included the better archaeological sites.
That goodwill with local landowners had been the seed that had grown into her plan. She had access to the remote mining roads leading to private areas fenced off from the public. Most of those sites were played out mines, deserted for years, but the roads were still in passable shape. One area in particular had caught her attention on an excursion some weeks ago. It was secluded, more than two hours away from the city, including a good half hour drive down a private road off one of the least traveled highways in the state. The mine road was unmarked, gated, on private land, and there were no other roads in or out. Even better, once past some hills the road stretched across a valley to the mine head at the far end, a valley hidden from view at the highway exit. At the far end she could see anyone else coming her way long before they arrived. All in all it would be a perfect location for what she planned.
During the week Sue Ann practically lived at her desk on the fifth floor of the downtown bank building. She had enough seniority to swing a window for her cubicle, but not enough to provide a view of anything better than the Sheriff's building across the street. Justice Center was the polite term, but everyone called it the city jail. Most mornings she would see the deputies bring out prisoners to be transported on the courthouse bus, or infrequently to the small vans which took the less fortunate ones off to the State Prison. Shielded by the cubicle walls from her fellow employees she would watch in fascination as the female prisoners were brought out, usually handcuffed in pairs for the minor offenders, but a few times she would see heavily restrained women, handcuffed and ankles chained together, led to a van or car and driven away by guards. Those occasions were the ones she studied, noting details, for they stirred something in her.
When she had first seen one of the female prisoners, in shackles and arm gripped tightly by one of the jail guards, Sue Ann had lain awake most of that following night, thinking about the scene, imagining herself in that woman's place, powerless, controlled, at the mercy of a stranger. For days afterward she had that same image in her mind. Each day while she worked she had kept one eye on her window, hoping to see more of the same. A few times women were brought in or taken to court, but it was nearly two weeks before she again saw a woman in what Sue Ann came to think of as full restraint, with handcuffs and leg chains, even a waist chain to hold the handcuffs close to her body.
As part of her work Sue Ann had to be proficient in searching the Internet’s financial websites. Now she turned those talents to finding out about her obsession. It didn't take long to learn it had a name, bondage, and there were plenty of discreet web sites which catered to those with such tastes. Sue Ann spent over a month scouring all the web sites she could find, reading stories, essays, and commentary on safety. The most exciting discoveries were the sites which would supply all the police equipment that she could ever want.
Sue Ann lived alone, with few friends and no close relatives. Her salary wasn't in the stratospheric range but her expenses were few, which left her with quite a bit of discretionary income. Carefully at first, she started to acquire some of those prisoner restraints for herself, always through a web site that offered mail order delivery in nondescript packages.
A good quality set of chain handcuffs was her first acquisition. The day the package came she had unpacked it carefully, reading the small instruction sheet over and over. Several times she worked the mechanism, opening and closing the cuffs, double locking them and then unlocking them with the key. The moment when she first closed one of the cuffs on her wrist was a memorable one. Eyes almost shut she had slowly closed the cuff, counting the clicks on the ratchet, stopping when the cuff was still slightly loose around her wrist but snug enough that she could not slip it off. Then she had opened the other cuff and set it on her other wrist, not closing it, but testing to see if she could unlock the first cuff if her hands were secured together with the two links of chain. Since she could easily reach the lock, she had closed the second cuff.
The feel of the handcuffs, binding her wrists together, restraining her, had been like the rush of some powerful drug. It didn't take long for her to build up a collection of similar items: handcuffs, waist chains, leg irons, even one of the high security covers that went over handcuffs. Within a month she had at least one of every kind of restraints she had ever seen the police use. She practiced with all of them, learning how each one restricted her movements, how to position them so she could free herself with a key. At night and on weekends she would wear some of her restraints for hours at a time, to experience the feel of the steel holding her, controlling her. Often she would have images, sexual in nature, of some man placing her in bondage, compelling her by brute force to do his bidding. Those dreams she found disturbing but strangely pleasurable, even erotic.
Sue Ann had never told anyone of her secret obsession. By nature she was a very private person; her fetish for bondage she felt was too intimate to share with anyone else. There were groups on the Internet, some even met in the city, but she wasn't ready to go public yet. For the moment it was better, safer she told herself, to conceal her desires, though perhaps one day she might participate in an Internet group, but certainly she would not meet anyone face to face for now.
So she kept to herself, searching the Internet for ideas, new restraints, and working on ever more exotic bondage scenes for herself. And that had led her to her current plan. Watching the prisoners across the street, she had wondered what it would be like to be a real prisoner, unable to free herself, perhaps one who had escaped from her guard and was on the run, but still in restraints. Was there a way she could duplicate the same situation, but also be able to free herself and not rely on someone else to rescue her?
She would need a secluded area, outdoors but guaranteed no one else would find her. She would be bound with chains, required to travel some distance before she could be released. It would incorporate some of the same elements as her fantasy, fear of being discovered, the need to reach some specific place where she could hide, or in reality free herself. That's when Sue Ann remembered one particular abandoned mine site. She had searched the area for petroglyphs once before, after the mine owner had given her a gate key and blanket permission to visit anytime. The only restriction was a request she not enter any mineshafts. The road was paved, a gentle rise from the valley to the mine itself, quite isolated, perfect terrain for an easy hike as long as she was careful to wear high boots in case she encountered a snake. The mine was played out and shut down, no one had any reason to go there now, and there were no other open mines in the vicinity.
The plan was quite simple. She would sleep through the day Saturday, and then drive to the mine that evening after a last minute weather check. It was too early in the year to worry about monsoon type flash floods but she’d lived in the desert long enough to appreciate the dangers of a sudden thunderstorm. After crossing the valley, she would stop at a small shack at the base of the hills, her starting point where the road went up to the mine entrance. She would drop off her equipment at the shack, then drive on up to the mine, about three miles further up the road. She would take along her bicycle on the carry rack so she could quickly ride down to the shack. There she could change into her prisoner outfit, and then walk back up the road to her car. The challenge would be that the only keys to her restraints would be in the car; once she locked the cuffs on she would have to go the distance. The hike would be moderately difficult, the night would be dark, the restraints would naturally slow her down, but the pavement was still in very good condition and easy to follow. There would be some time pressure: the night was cool but if she took too long the sun would come up, and then temperatures soared quickly. And there would always be that chance, however slight, that someone would find her. The likelihood was remote, plus at night she would see headlights from approaching cars giving her plenty of time to hide or try to reach her own car.
She would want a relatively dark night, no full moon, which would make it more interesting. She couldn't wear a blindfold; that would be too dangerous if she strayed off the road. She imagined herself wandering through the desert in circles for days, unable to see the road a few yards away, while buzzards circled overhead. A waning moon would give her only feeble light, she would still be nearly blind, but if she got off the road all she had to do was wait for dawn. She didn't want to be out during the day, but in an emergency she could make it before the day got too hot. The darkness would act as her blindfold.
The web sites had always cautioned about being safe. Sue Ann wanted to leave some outs in case she miscalculated. Originally she was going to put the only set of keys in the car, but on reflection decided to leave a spare set in the shack with her bike. If something went wrong she could turn around and retrieve those spare keys, though to take away temptation she would place them in a box with a combination lock, and no flashlight. If she went back she would have to wait for the light of dawn.
Came the day, she was ready. The weather forecast was perfect: cool at night, warm during the day but not dangerously hot; and only a quarter moon that night. Sue Ann selected her restraints carefully, put them in a gym bag and finished with her bicycle mounted in the rear carrier. She set off on her adventure in the afternoon; three hours later she arrived at the mine shack. Out came the bag containing her hardware, and a small metal lockbox with the extra keys inside. The box was made of heavy gauge sheet metal with a sturdy hasp and a combination lock, so bashing it with a rock wasn't going to pop it open. She placed both items in the shed before driving up to the mine entrance. She parked the car off to the side in a cul-de-sac, not visible from the mineshaft doors or immediate area.
Sue Ann took her bike out of the carrier, placed the original set of keys on the driver’s seat, and made sure the car doors were not locked. The last thing she wanted to do was hammer away at the window trying to break it with a rock when she got back. One final check to make sure everything was ready, and then she got on her bicycle to ride back down to the starting point.
When she arrived at the shack the sun was setting. After stashing the bike in a corner of the shack she began to lay out the items in the gym bag on a table bolted to the cabin wall. She had a flashlight in case it got dark before she was ready. After she changed she would put the flashlight into the lockbox with the extra keys. Without a light she wouldn't be able to open the combination lock until dawn, which would be more than eight hours away. Once the box was closed she was committed to her hike back to the car, or a long, uncomfortable and boring wait in the shack.
Time to begin; with a deep breath she began to undress. One last bit of excitement to add to her plan, she would be wearing nothing but boots and her restraints, the cuffs and chains she had brought for the hike. The cool night desert air felt good against her bare skin. She experienced a small thrill at being nude; she would be completely exposed if anyone did find her. It added to the fear of discovery, a way of simulating the fugitive’s fear of being apprehended. She folded her clothes and placed them neatly in the bag. There was an extra set of clothes in the trunk of her car.
The next phase of her plan was to transform into the fugitive prisoner. Her equipment lay before her on the table; all she had to do was fasten the steel onto her body. She picked up the leg chains first. Some thought had gone into what she would use. She needed to be able to walk, but she wanted to feel restricted, captive, and unable to run away if pursued. She had chosen to bring a set of police type leg irons, good quality ones, but these had been special-ordered with a shorter linking chain, only eight inches instead of the more common fourteen inch length. She locked a cuff around each ankle, not too tight but a snug fit against the leather of her boots so she couldn’t slip out of them. The thick socks would provide additional padding so her ankles wouldn't bruise, and the hiking boots would keep the leg cuffs off her ankle bone. She double locked both cuffs so they wouldn't tighten further, then stood and took a few steps. Her stride was cut down to less than half of normal, but she could walk slowly without too much difficulty. The leg chains would be limiting in other ways too. She couldn’t put her underwear or shorts back on, she wouldn’t be able to kick or run, and any type of climbing would be very difficult.
Satisfied she would have enough mobility to make it to her car, she continued with her restraints. Next was a waist chain. This went around her waist and locked in front using a sturdy padlock, one without any sharp edges. In the center of her back was a ring just large enough to fit a pair of handcuffs. The waist chain would serve as an anchor, holding the cuffs behind her back so she couldn't work her cuffed hands down and then step through them. Part of her plan was to not be able to use her hands, to add to the fantasy state of mind of vulnerability. She wanted to make sure her wrists were firmly imprisoned behind her back where they would be all but useless. The waist chain was tight enough that she couldn't slide it down over her hips, but not enough to be uncomfortable. Once the handcuffs were on and connected to her waist her reach would be the area around the small of her back, enough to retrieve the keys in her car but not much else.
She picked up the handcuffs and locked one end around her right wrist. As with the leg irons she had given some thought to what kind of handcuffs to use, finally deciding on the old British Darby type. These cuffs were not as secure as more modern types; magicians favored them for their relatively weak locks, but they would work well enough for what she intended. She was no escape artist; the only way she knew to remove them was using the key or a hacksaw, and neither would be available to her during her hike. The big advantage was the wide cuff would be easier on her wrists. Given that she would be wearing them for several hours, comfort was more important than security. The older design did add weight, but not enough to cause problems. The particular pair she had brought was loose fitting and non-adjustable so they wouldn’t tighten on her wrists, but from her testing at home she knew she couldn't slip them. Once locked on she would not be able to remove them without the key.
Her last step would be to place her hands behind her back, work the loose end of the handcuffs through the ring on the waist chain, and finally bind her wrists together. From that point on she would have to follow through; it was the point of no return in her plan. But before she did that, she gathered up the spare keys along with the flashlight and placed them in the lockbox. She closed the lid and placed the combination lock through the hasp. If she locked it she would still have to wait for dawn, or walk to her car with the leg chains on, but at least her hands would be free. She closed the padlock and set the box down, next to her bike. No more keys, she had to get it right the first time from now on. Her clothes went into the duffel bag which had originally held the restraints.
She walked over to the open door of the shack, looking out. She could make out the dim outline of the mountains, but no details. The last glow of sundown had faded from the horizon, leaving a clear desert sky alive with stars, but they provided little light for her to see. The road was directly in front of her, all she had to do was take a few steps to reach the pavement, and then turn to her left and start walking. It was time to begin, to turn her fantasy into reality.
Sue Ann reached behind her back, slipped the open cuff through the ring on the waist chain, and placed the cuff around her left wrist. The spring lock on this pair of handcuffs was very stiff; she closed it by pushing the locking bar against the doorframe of the shack. She tested her bonds; the cuffs around her wrists were on solidly, holding her hands close behind her back. She could move them back and forth a few inches, even sliding the waist chain sideways with some effort, but her reach was sharply limited. When she tried to move her hands down, up, or out the waist chain held, keeping her hands close together at the back of her waist. All she could manage was some movement side to side. She could turn her wrists within the cuffs, there would be no problem with circulation or pinched nerves.
Her preparations were complete. She was bound, helpless, her nude body in the grip of cold unrelenting steel; a fugitive whose only chance for freedom would be to reach her hideout before being caught. Ahead was a long arduous hike to her car and safety. Until she reached her goal and retrieved the keys she was trapped, a captive of the restraints she wore, barely able to move, exposed and vulnerable, unable to offer even token resistance if anyone should find her. A shiver of excitement ran through her; this was what she longed for. No choices were left to her, no more decisions.
She stood in the doorway for a moment more, calming herself and gathering her thoughts. Regardless of what happened next she would be irrevocably bound in chains for the next several hours. She looked down the road across the valley. Once she started her hike, if anyone came along she would be in trouble. Though she would have some warning from headlights and could conceal herself in the desert near the side of the road, she would be isolated and cut off from her rescue, the keys in her car. If someone found her bicycle and lock box in the shack, then went on to her car, she could face the choice of being stranded or revealing herself.
Any attempt to leave the paved road would be difficult. With her ankles linked together she could not step over or through the brush. Her bare skin had no protection against cactus or thorns. Even something as simple as a pebble in her boot would be disabling. If she came to a ditch or creek bed, which she could normally jump over, it would be an impassible barrier unless she could find a trail across it. If she did have to hide, she would be taking a considerable risk.
The dry desert air was scented with sagebrush and mesquite. This time of year the temperature should be pleasant all night long. She stood in the road, eyes closed, savoring the silence of the desert. She took a step. The silence was broken by the light clinking of the chain links. Opening her eyes she could just make out the solid color of the blacktop in the darkness.
Her journey lay before her. She had escaped but was virtually helpless. She had to make to the top of the hill, her sanctuary, in order to be rescued. To succeed she must learn to work within the limits imposed on her, limits she could not alter.
At first Sue Ann kept jerking against the leg chains, instinctively trying to keep to her normal stride. She stopped for a moment; she didn't want to trip and fall on her face. With her hands behind her back, she wouldn't be able to break her fall. Concentrate, she thought to herself, work within what I’m allowed. She started walking again, deliberately keeping her steps short, and staying within the confines of the shortened chain linking her ankles together. It was almost like learning to walk again; she had to think about placing one foot in front of the other.
Her progress was slow but continuous as she made her way uphill. A few times she had started to walk off the edge of the pavement, but she found it was easy to keep on track. Even with her eyes adjusted to the darkness it was difficult to see. She had a rough idea of the distance she’d covered from her knowledge of the twists and turns in the road, but it was quite a bit different walking alone, at a snail's pace, as opposed to driving or riding her bicycle. She really had no exact measure of how far she had come, how long it had been, or how much further she had to go. Fortunately the road did have a slight upward slope. She had thought about the possibility of getting turned around and walking in the wrong direction, but the incline was enough that she could easily tell if she was going the wrong way.
Even with all the careful planning, she soon became painfully aware that she had miscalculated in one respect. To prepare she had practiced at home, wearing handcuffs and leg chains for several hours at a time, but that had by necessity been indoors. What she had not counted on was the stress on her legs from being hobbled, and not being able to swing her arms for balance while walking. She had to stop far more frequently than she had allowed for in her plan. Initially she was going to bring a regular set of police type leg irons, with the longer chain between ankle cuffs. But she had decided on the shorter one instead since it would be more of a challenge. The regular length seemed too easy, almost a normal gait, though of course she couldn't run. The shortened leg chains were definitely more restrictive, which she wanted, but still allowed her to walk or so she had expected. In her planning she knew that without any chains she could manage a leisurely walk at about three miles an hour with ideal conditions. Given the darkness and in restraints, she had figured on the impediments cutting her rate to perhaps one mile an hour, or about three hours to complete her journey back to the car. In hindsight it was clear she wasn't going to make anywhere near that time.
The strain on her leg muscles required that she stop every ten to fifteen minutes. She had planned on resting only two or three times the entire trip. What she hadn’t included in her calculations was that the short chain meant more than three times as many steps were needed to cover the same distance. Her leg muscles weren’t accustomed to a halting shuffle and tired quickly. A few times she found a rock by the side of the road large enough to sit on or lean against, but most of the time she had to stand still while her legs recovered. She was anxious about the stress on her legs; if she got a leg cramp she would be in some trouble. She knew that even if she couldn't walk she could eventually reach one of her sets of keys if she was reduced to crawling. That wasn't a likely scenario; all she had to do was stay calm and not panic. She promised herself that she wouldn't be quite so ambitious in the future.
Meanwhile she had to focus on tonight, get to her car and free of what was now proving to be more bondage than she had really wanted. She considered returning to the shed, but since she didn’t know how far she had gone she might actually be more than halfway to the mine entrance, so turning around would take longer than continuing. And there would be that long wait for dawn. She didn’t want to admit defeat now.
Boredom set in, walk, rest, walk, stop if she left the pavement. Sue Ann returned to her fantasy to help pass the time, wondering about what it would be like to be one of those prisoners she saw being taken away. She now knew what it felt like in a physical sense; her own bonds were similar to the restraints she had seen on some of those female prisoners. In a way she was worse off, she had no clothes on, but like them she was helpless, completely at the mercy of her captors, though in Sue Ann's case there were no real guards controlling her. Stopping yet again to rest her legs, she closed her eyes, imagining her upper arm held in the firm, strong grip of some prison guard, a man who held the keys to her chains, someone who told her what to do and expected her to obey, someone who could coerce her to do his bidding. Her hands clenched, she pulled against the steel rings encircling her wrists, all to no effect. She jerked on the leg chains, trying to stretch her legs. The steel around each ankle proved to be stronger; the cuffs would not yield. She could struggle, try to break out of her bonds, but in the end she was still their prisoner. She could not fight; she could not flee; now she realized she could not resist either. Both physically and mentally she would be helpless, defenseless against whoever took possession of her.
Sue Ann opened her eyes and sighed, perhaps someday she would find someone like that, but for now she had more immediate concerns. She had to get to the car before dawn; she didn't want to be caught out on the road in daylight. That would be too risky; if anyone came along she wouldn't be able to hide so easily. At night just stepping off the road and crouching down behind a bush or rock was enough, but in daylight she would stand out plainly from a distance. If she were discovered at best it would be horribly embarrassing, and at worst, well, she didn't want to think about that. There were a lot of crazies in the world; just her luck if one discovered her tonight. Once again she tugged at the cuffs holding her wrists, no give, no surprise, she had picked well. Anyone who caught her like this could do as they pleased. Even a five-year-old child could easily control her in her present state.
On and on she trudged up the road, a regular routine now, walk, rest, and a few more steps, stop again. How long had it been since she started? Three hours, four, more? She was getting a little thirsty. Did that one section of the sky seem lighter from a false dawn? She was starting to feel some pressure to get to the end of the road. Just as in her fantasy, the escaped prisoner struggling to reach her hideout, now she felt the need to speed up, to move faster. The longer she was out in the open, the greater the risk of detection. Except that wasn't possible. No matter how much she wanted to pick up the pace, she could go no faster than those few inches of chain between her ankles. If she tried to run, all that would happen is a painful landing on the blacktop. If she didn't stop to rest, her calf muscles would eventually cramp and she would collapse on the road in agony.
All at once she knew where she was, the particular S-shaped curve that was just below the end of the road at the mine head. She had no more than a hundred yards left to go. Yet again she stopped to rest, looking back over her shoulder. Still no light from the dawn showed over the hills; apparently she had made better time than she imagined. No headlights either, but she was close enough now she didn’t have to worry about anyone else on the road. Even another hundred yards would take some time at her reduced pace, but she had the end in sight. More or less, she thought, since it was still dark out and she couldn't actually see the mine. Rest over, she started on the final segment of her journey, determined this time to go all the way without another stop; she was too close to freedom for any more delays. Still, she didn't hurry; it would be foolish to fall and injure herself so close to her goal.
It seemed to take forever to cross that last stretch of road, but finally she arrived at the mine entrance, where she could make out the outline of the shaft doors. Her car would be to the left around a small hill. She headed in that direction, feeling for the edge of the road, following it around to her car. And there it was, finally, her car parked right in front of her. All she had to do now was open the door, pick up the keys on the seat, and unlock the chains that bound her body. She had done it, walked the entire distance shackled hand and foot, without being caught. She did have a newfound appreciation for just how effective handcuffs and leg irons could be.
She had put some extra clothes in the trunk of the car; this late at night the desert air up in the hills was cooler than she expected. It was getting chilly with no clothes on. She had forgotten how the temperature in the desert dropped at night, even in low hills like the mine location. A bottle of water and a sandwich was packed in with her clothes too; they would taste good following her self-imposed ordeal.
But first she had to get these chains off. Sue Ann felt like she had been on a thirty-mile marathon, not an easy three-mile jaunt. Her legs burned from the unaccustomed exertions, her shoulders ached from the way her arms were pinned behind her back. Even her back felt sore from the strain of balancing without the use of her arms. She promised herself a long soak in a tub of hot water and smelly bath oils once she got home. She could stretch out in the tub and let the heat from the warm water relax overworked muscles.
Sue Ann walked around to the driver's side, her back to the door in order to reach the handle with her cuffed hands. She opened the door, leaning to one side to get the door past her. The inside light came on, bright to her dark adjusted eyes. She moved up to the edge of the door, preparing to bend down and pick up the keys, then stopped in shock. The seat was empty, no keys in sight. Frantically she looked on the floor; maybe she had knocked them off by accident when she had left earlier. Nothing. She checked the back seat, everywhere she could see, no keys.
She felt panic starting to rise, where had the keys gone? She stood next to the open driver side door, in a pool of light coming from the overhead. Sue Ann looked around, seeing nothing but empty desert around her. She was positive no one had passed her on the road, and no one had been here when she arrived. Someone had to have taken them out of her car, but how, where was this person now? Was she being watched at this very moment? Standing in the pool of light from the car she realized she was fully exposed to anyone nearby; she pushed the door shut, cutting off the illumination.
Don't panic, focus, think, she told herself, take stock of your situation. The keys were gone, someone had to have taken them, but she still had a spare set at the shack. Whoever had been here appeared to be gone now; she heard nothing, and nobody had approached her. She leaned against the side of the car, trying to concentrate. She wasn't stranded in the desert; she could still walk back to the shack, though it would take hours and leave her exhausted. No keys, no water, no food, no clothes, she felt her panic rising again. She walked around to the back of the car to see if the trunk had been opened. She backed up to the rear fender, bent down to reach under the bike carrier, and tried to pull up on the trunk but it was closed. Standing up she looked around again. She needed a few minutes to regain her composure, to calm down and assess her situation.
The breeze from the mountaintops, or perhaps barely suppressed panic, made her shiver. First thing, she needed to get out of the cold. She walked back to the driver's door, again turned and opened it with her bound hands, then sat down sideways in the car seat. It was awkward not using her hands and arms, but she managed to turn and place her legs under the wheel. Even if she had the ignition key she couldn't have driven with her wrists locked in cuffs, but at least she was warm. An errant thought, if she were a real prisoner and a guard had fastened her seat belt, she would be trapped in the car seat, unable to reach the buckle to open it. She couldn't reach the car door to shut it, and she didn't know if she could reach the door handle from the inside anyway. She was concerned about the light, but it did help to calm her.
How could the keys have disappeared? She had taken every precaution, she had been certain she was alone. But someone had to have been here, what else could have happened? There were few animals out here in the desert, and in any case she had rolled up all the windows. She looked around to make sure, and her heart fell as she saw the one rear passenger side window open several inches. It was more than enough for a packrat to get in and out, a packrat who would love something bright and shiny. Mentally she kicked herself, and then laughed. She should have known better, she had come across packrat nests all too often when searching for petroglyphs. The nests close to public areas always had bits of metal or foil. Tonight some lucky packrat had found a real treasure and inadvertently left her stuck. Bad enough, but at least it wasn’t human intervention after all. She had been frightened at the thought there was someone watching her in her present circumstance.
She smiled; those websites on the Internet always stressed safety, planning alternative escape routes. Bet they never had to deal with inquisitive wildlife. Good thing she still had her backup. It would be a long walk back to the shed, and at least partly in daylight. With no clothes she could get a spectacular sunburn if she was out in the sun for too long. The longer she sat in the car, the longer it would take to get back to the shed. At least no packrat would carry off her lockbox; it was too heavy and awkward for a small animal. Fortunately she had the foresight to put her spare car keys with the cuff keys; otherwise it was a further twenty mile hike to the highway. If she hadn’t set out that second set of keys she would be looking at walking all day stripped and in chains, somehow getting past the gate and fence, then waiting on the highway till someone drove by. And after all that the explanations of how she came to be standing there naked and heavily shackled. No, she didn't even want to think about that possibility.
She had forgotten about the fence. The gate was out of sight of the highway. No one would be able to see her. The problem was the gate was locked and the chain link fence extended up the hills into the rocks on either side. She couldn’t climb over it and she wouldn’t be able to go around it.
She swung her legs out of the car and stood up, then pushed the door closed. She would wait for her eyes to adjust to the dark again, and then start back down the path to the shack. It was still chilly but tolerable now that she had calmed down. She would be better off walking at night as much as possible. She moved around to the other side of the car to get her bearings. She had to go by the small hill concealing her car first, and then she would be on the road in the right direction. The moment she stepped away from the car she heard a metallic tinkling sound. She stopped, was it the rattle of the connecting chain on her leg irons? No, she still heard the sound behind her. She turned around just as the flashlight came on, momentarily blinding her. She heard a man's voice ask, "Would you be looking for these keys?"
Sue Ann was paralyzed with fear and shock. Her worst nightmare come true: she had been caught. She stood in the glare of the flashlight like a deer frozen in headlights, unable to move or speak. The bright beam blinded her; she couldn’t see who was standing behind it. Panic seized her, she started to turn and flee, her only thought was to cover herself and run away. The first step brought her tumbling back to reality as the leg irons grabbed her ankles, stopping her flight before it even began. In her terror she had forgotten her bonds. She staggered, off balance, and began the unavoidable fall. She tried to reach out to break the impact, but her hands remained secured behind her back.
A hand grabbed her upper arm, halting her descent. She managed to get her feet back under her and regained her balance, only to trip up on the leg cuffs again as the man forcibly spun her around and pushed her face down onto the hood of her car. The impact stunned her; she would have dropped to the ground except the stranger was holding her pinned against the car.
“Listen carefully; don’t try to talk. I know what you’re doing out here. I’ve been watching you since you arrived. This is what will happen now. You are going to do exactly what I tell you.” His voice was low but firm. Sue Ann was hypnotized by it, listening to every word. He grabbed the chain linking her wrists together, yanked on it. “Remember these? Don’t even try to defy me; you are in no position to do anything except obey. Don’t try to move or talk, keep your head down. And don’t be so foolish as to try and run away again. You’ve done a good job on yourself; you know you can’t get away.” She heard that tinkling sound again, next to her ear. “Hear this? I have the keys now. When, or if you are released depends entirely on what I decide to do. I hold your freedom in my hand.”
It wasn’t supposed to happen like this, Sue Ann thought. She had been very careful, planned in detail for every contingency. He had her bent over the hood of the car, her head turned to one side facing away from the windshield. She managed to get her legs under her again, but she couldn’t move. She couldn’t think, something deep inside her mind had roused. The man stood up, no longer holding her against the car, but she was still incapable of movement or speech. His voice had taken control of her. All she could focus on were his words; she felt compelled to obey him. In some small part of her brain a voice was saying it was just a defense mechanism because of her vulnerable condition, nude and tightly bound. It might have been something she had studied in a psychology class from college days, but it made no difference. For the moment this faceless stranger had fully dominated her, physically and mentally.
“Stand up, eyes straight in front of you. No, don’t try to look around,” he ordered. She stood up as he held onto her arms, never wavering in her gaze, eyes fixed straight ahead. He covered her eyes with a scarf or some kind of bandana, tying it in a knot behind her head. A simple but effective blindfold, since she couldn’t reach it with her hands. He checked it before turning her around to face him. She could sense his presence very close to her, a glimmer of light from the flashlight crept in from the edge of the blindfold. “Hmm, I don’t think you need to be searched, there’s very little you can conceal dressed like this,” he laughed as he spoke. Sue Ann felt her cheeks blush and lowered her head. She was acutely aware of just how exposed she must appear to him.
She felt his hand on her when he grabbed the lock holding her waist chain in the front. He pulled at it, checking to make sure the padlock wouldn’t open by itself. He turned her around to test the handcuffs on her wrists. She felt him testing the ring holding the cuffs to her waist, determining how much play she had, and the extent of her reach. He had one hand on her cuffs, she felt the other on her leg as he knelt to test the leg irons around her ankles.
“You did well in your choice of restraints. Quality make, secure, very difficult to remove without the key or lockpicking tools. You have a short chain on your ankle cuffs, an odd choice. It must have been especially difficult to walk all that distance. The waist chain is a nice touch in combination with the handcuffs. Far more effective than simple cuffs behind the back, but you already learned that, didn’t you?” His voice barely rose above a whisper while he stood close behind her. She could only nod in agreement; he had not given her permission to speak.
She heard the car door next to her open. He grabbed her arm, leading her around to the open passenger door. “Sit down,” he ordered as he pushed down on her hair so she wouldn’t bump her head. She sat down, sideways in the seat. He picked up her legs and helped her turn to sit facing forward. She felt the seat belt tighten across her waist as he buckled it around her and then pulled on the belt strap. He did the same with the shoulder strap, effectively tying her down in the car seat. “Stay here,” he told her, “Don’t give me any trouble.” Not that she could. Just as she thought, without hands the seat belt and shoulder strap made a most effective seat restraint.
Her door closed. Sue Ann couldn’t see or hear where he was, but she knew better than to try twisting in the seat to reach the seat belt buckle. He was right; she had done well, too well. Until she could somehow get out of her chains she had no choice but to do whatever he told her. The fact she had been blindfolded was actually a good sign. If he intended to murder her he wouldn’t have bothered to conceal his identity. She did look at her situation realistically. She was isolated, powerless, nude, and physically controlled by a faceless stranger, someone who seemed intent on using that control to his advantage. He could act with impunity; there was nothing to link his identity to her. He could throw her on the ground, rape her to his heart’s content, and what would she tell the police? That she had been attacked while innocently standing out in the open stripped and locked in chains, at a remote desert mine? Oh yeah, they would take that seriously, she thought to herself. That was assuming she would ever get out of this alive. It would be just as easy to toss her down the mineshaft when he finished.
She still couldn’t hear him. The car cut off sounds from outside. Somehow, she knew he was still there, watching her. Time to rethink her plan; she pondered what options she had. Her immediate course of action was simple, do whatever he told her. The immediate future looked bleak, but as long as she was alive and in one piece she could live through it. Wasn’t that the advice the experts always gave? Cooperate with your attacker, don’t fight back. That was ironic; resisting wasn’t an option when trussed up with restraints. Providing she could survive the next few minutes, she decided she would try to get him to remove some of the cuffs, or at least take off the waist chain. Any little bit of freedom she could gain from him would give her a better opportunity to escape. If she could get her hands in front, and somehow get hold of the car keys, she was sure she could drive even in handcuffs and leg irons. What she would do once she escaped was another matter.
The driver side door opened, she heard him get in and sit down next to her, followed by him shutting the door. Yet again he checked her seat belt and shoulder strap to see if they had been loosened, and examined her restraints to check for tampering. His hands touched her body as he tested her bonds, sometimes lingering a bit too long. She tensed at his touch, but found she could not draw away. Sue Ann was terrified but at the same time very calm. Nothing she could do would change what he planned for her; it was as if she had become an object he owned.
“Very good,” he told her, “you follow orders well. Continue to face forward, do not turn your head, and I don’t want any noise. For now, you will sit quietly and listen to me.” His hand went to her knee. Her heart raced, but she forced herself to remain still. “You’re afraid, aren’t you?
“You should be afraid. You don’t know who I am or what kind of a person I might be. All you know is I have the keys, the keys to your freedom. Right now, right this moment, I own you.” He put a hand around her throat, under her chin. “Your life is in my hands. Feel that? Feel the fear?” She nodded, trying not to let her inner panic and terror show through. “It’s not just fear though; you sense something else, don’t you? Something you don’t want to admit is in you. Something that drove you to come out here tonight?”
Sue Ann reeled in an inner turmoil. How could he have known? His words had torn away the illusion of calm resignation. Own, he had said, and at that moment he captured her real emotions in a single word. The secret behind her fascination with bondage, with watching the prisoners at the jail, even her adventure tonight, all came down to some feeble attempt on her part to feel owned, completely, totally, by a man whom she could not influence in any way.
Entirely by chance this man had seized not only her body but her mind, her soul as well. She felt a wave of desire sweep over her, more than anything in this world she wanted this man, to please him, to serve him any way he demanded of her, with nothing in return for herself. She wanted to be used, to be possessed, treated as property. Her own body betrayed her when her nipples hardened, triggered by sexual desire. Thoughts of escape vanished; the last thing she wanted now was to be separated from…she didn’t even know his name. Who he was didn’t matter now; she didn’t care. All she knew was that she was his prisoner, his captive love slave, his to use as he pleased.
He pulled back, laughing. “You have it bad, don’t you?” Suddenly he grabbed her breast, squeezing her nipple. She gasped uncontrollably, arching her back between the shoulder strap and seat, struggling to touch him with her imprisoned hands. “Oh yeah, you got it bad alright. Settle down, face front, no sound.” Immediately she sat up, her head pointing straight ahead. She wanted to plead with him, tell him how she felt, beg him to touch her again, to take her, but his command silenced her as effectively as a tight leather gag.
He traced a finger along her leg. Behind her back Sue Ann clenched her manacled hands into fists, struggling to control herself. His touch felt like fire. It was all she could do not to scream out her passion. He leaned close to her, speaking in a low voice close to her ear, “Lucky for you I was the one that found you. Someone else might have left you out here, or tried to help by rescuing you from your predicament. I know better. You don’t want someone to come along and take these off.” He reached behind her back and jerked on the handcuff chain. “You want someone to come along and take away the keys, but leave these on.” He pulled at her wrists again. “You have no idea what’s going to come next, and that’s the way you like it. Whatever happens, you couldn’t help yourself. No power, no responsibility. That’s what you want, isn’t it?”
Sue Ann nodded meekly. She wanted to shout out her need, beg him to take her. Everything in her fantasy had come true with a startling speed. Here she was, the prisoner tightly restrained in chains, controlled, no, dominated by a powerful yet entirely unknown man. If only he would allow her to speak.
“You want to tell me something, don’t you?” he asked. She nodded; maybe he would lift his prohibition now and allow her to talk. “Perhaps another time, but for now you will remain silent. I’m enjoying this, you know? It’s not every day an attractive woman walks up to me naked and in chains.”
“I’m not going to hurt you, provided you behave. One piece of advice, if you try something like this again, is don’t go overboard on the restraints. Your setup would be fine if someone else was here with you, but by yourself it’s too dangerous. What would you have done if the keys had really disappeared? Do you think you could make a twenty mile hike locked up like that?”
Sue Ann shook her head. He was right, except he didn’t know about her other set of keys down at the shed. He did have a point though, if she had jammed a key trying to get the handcuffs off she would have been in serious trouble, even life threatening. What concerned her most were his intentions now. She really didn’t need a safety lecture, but she wasn’t going to tell him that. In fact it looked like she wasn’t going to tell him anything unless he allowed her to talk.
“Listen carefully. I’m going to unlock your handcuffs to relieve some of the strain on your arms. As I release each wrist, you will place your hands in front of you, a palm on each knee.” Once more he grabbed her throat, forcing her head back against the car headrest. “Understand, any deviation, any hesitation, the least sign of disobedience, and you go back to hands behind your back. Not only that, you’ll have a long walk all the way back to the highway. Oh yeah, I know about the extra keys in the shed too.”
Her heart fell. He did know; so much for her half-formed idea to make some kind of escape. He unbuckled the seat belt and shoulder strap, and then made her lean forward in the seat. His hand was on her left wrist as he inserted the key and turned it to unlock the cuff. He pulled her wrist free of the steel bracelet and brought her arm around, placing her hand on her left knee. “Keep it there,” he ordered. He freed her other wrist and brought it around, again placing her right hand on her right knee. He left the open handcuffs dangling from the ring on her waist chain.
She hadn’t realized how sore her shoulders had become. It felt like she had been carrying hundred pound weights all day. She wanted to stretch, rub her wrists, but it seemed as if her hands were glued to her knees. She took his implied threat all too seriously; she dared not move either hand.
“This is what you will do next. You will remain exactly as you are now. Face straight ahead; do not turn your head to either side, and do not move your hands. I am going to stand up for a few minutes outside the car. While I do that, you will slowly count backwards from one hundred, out loud so I can hear you. If you go too fast, or if I hear you miss a number, I will make you start over. Disobey me and you will spend all day hogtied in the trunk of the car, plus I’ll leave you by the side of the highway the same way, in the back seat.” He opened the driver’s door and got out. “Start counting now, and do it slowly.”
She started counting, “100, 99, 98…” She thought about being left in her car trunk all day. The heat would be miserable, and then to be left along the highway too. No, she concentrated on her assignment, carefully pronouncing each number so he could hear it. “75, 74, 73…”
“Stop!” he ordered, standing outside her door. “Too fast, start over and go slower.”
“100.” She paused. “99.” No word from him, maybe she had the timing right now. “98.” It would take her a while to count at this rate. “97.” At least those sadistic handcuffs were off. “96.” She still had the leg cuffs on, a smart move on his part. “95.” She couldn’t run away even with her hands free, he’d catch her in seconds. “94.” She had no doubts he was strong enough to easily overpower her. For all she knew he was standing just outside her door, watching every move she made. “93.” Maybe this was some kind of test?
Sue Ann continued to count down. It seemed to take forever, but he still hadn’t stopped her. What was he doing? All she had to do was reach up and take the blindfold off. Except, she still couldn’t move. It wasn’t chains holding her now; the invisible bonds created by a few words from him held her hands down as securely as the handcuffs. “20…19…18.” She was getting close to the end. What would he have her do next? “3…2…1.” She finished. All the way through and he hadn’t stopped her.
She felt warmth on her face. A few glimmers of sunlight worked past her blindfold. It must be dawn, she thought. She waited for her next order. Maybe he would drag her out of the car, throw her over the hood, and then use her roughly. Should she say something, tell him she had finished? No, his instructions were only to count, nothing else. Best if she waited.
She had no idea how long she had been waiting, sitting immobile in the car seat. It was definitely getting hot in the car, and her bladder was making demands. She couldn’t wait much longer without making a mess in the car seat. She had to risk it. “May I speak?” she asked.
No answer, nothing but the quiet of the morning desert. “Please, may I speak? I have to go to the toilet,” she pleaded. Still no answer. She didn’t have too much time left. She took a deep breath, then reached up and took off the blindfold. The glare from the rising sun dazzled her eyes. She shielded them with one hand and looked all around. No sign of anyone.
She opened her door and stepped out. She still had those leg irons on. It was going to be a long walk back; she almost would have preferred he had taken the leg restraints off and left the handcuffs on. Looking around the mine site there was no sign of anyone else, not even tire tracks or footprints other than her own. She headed for the nearest bush to relieve herself. He had left her in little better shape than when she had arrived at the car last night. No clothes, no car keys, and no cuff keys. If he knew about the extra set at the shed it was likely gone too. Even her bicycle would be useless with her ankles chained together. Her call of nature answered, she slowly walked back to the car, still hobbled.
She did have one piece of clothing, the bandana he had used for a blindfold. It would keep the sun off her head, which would help a little. She turned to pick it up from the car seat. Underneath were her keys, all of them. Immensely relieved, she grabbed them and sat back down. Off came what she now looked on as her worst mistake in the whole plan, the leg irons around her ankles. She stood up, unfastened the waist chain and dropped it on the car seat, along with the leg chains now lying on the floorboard. Free at last, she stretched and took her first full steps since last night.
Next she needed to get dressed. She opened the trunk; everything was still there, food, water, and her extra clothes. She managed to get into her shorts and a top while eating and drinking at the same time. She wanted to get out of this place as soon as possible. She noticed the red streaks the handcuffs had left on her wrists; without a doubt she had some matching ones on her ankles. She closed the trunk and got in on the driver’s side. First thing, she locked all the doors. She figured her mysterious stranger had left but she didn’t want to take any chances. She stuffed the leg irons and handcuffs under the passenger seat.
Her car started on the first try; she was worried he might disable it. Sue Ann drove down to the shed and stopped in front. She hesitated before getting out of the car. He might be here, waiting for her just inside the open doorway. She shook her head; thinking like that could lead to paranoia. She got out of the car, opened the trunk, went into the shed and got her bicycle. The lockbox was still next to it, where she had left it last night, along with the bag containing her clothes. She threw the bag and lockbox into the trunk, followed by the bike on the carrier after she shut it. She took one last look around. The wind had come up; she saw the mesquite swaying back and forth, but nothing else, not even a jackrabbit. Whoever he was, wherever he had come from, he was gone now.
That’s when her hands started shaking. Sue Ann gripped the steering wheel, trying to hold back the delayed shock. She had been this close to becoming another crime statistic. There were plenty of old mine-shafts scattered across the desert, ideal for disposing of evidence. That man had appeared out of nowhere, and disappeared the same way. He could easily have made her vanish the same way.
The shaking subsided. She took a deep breath before beginning the drive back to the city. Had it all been a dream? No, it had happened, of that she was sure. She had the crude blindfold to prove it. Sue Ann had much to think about on the return trip.
The Drive Back
She made it back to the highway without incident. The gate was still closed, just as she had left it. She pulled onto the highway and headed back to the city and home. While driving she went over what had happened to her the previous night. Her bondage hike had been strenuous but she had been proud of herself when she reached the car. She would be sore for many days to come but she had set a goal and completed it. Wearing chains and nothing else had been exciting; perhaps she had some latent streak of exhibitionism. The relief at finding the car and her personal satisfaction at the success of her plan had given her a sort of mental high, a high that crashed when she didn’t find the keys.
What had occurred after that she still had to figure out. She had never panicked like that before, the moment when she heard the voice behind her. Attempting to run had been incredibly dumb; she was lucky she hadn’t fallen and wound up with a broken nose, or worse. That was the problem with all restraints, she thought ruefully, they didn’t know when you were done and they should stop working. In a heartbeat the chains had changed from being play toys to the real thing, putting her at the mercy of a stranger.
She was still confused over her reaction to what he had done. Although she had been terrified, he hadn’t actually harmed her in any way. But the way he spoke to her; she trembled involuntarily at the memory. He had projected such immense power that she couldn’t help herself. She had been forced to obey him, by something she still didn’t understand. Her obedience had not been out of fear, not entirely. He seemed to have sensed it, from what she remembered of his words.
What disturbed her most of all was her reaction when he had touched her. At first she had been resigned to being assaulted or even raped, but something quite different had happened. When he had grabbed her breast, she lost it. Even now she could only vaguely remember how she had reacted. She had not recoiled in distaste, determined to fight to the end. No, she wanted him to keep going. She had never had such an intense sexual experience before. Perhaps she was fortunate he had not taken advantage of her, but in some perverse way what she felt was frustration and disappointment.
Sue Ann pulled off the highway and headed down familiar streets to her home, a small house at the edge of town. She needed a bath, some food, and sleep, in that order. She would sort out her feelings later. She pulled into her garage, closed the outside door, and went on into the house. Later that evening, lying in bed, she thought about her stranger, how he had made sure she didn’t know his identity. Would she ever see him again? For that matter, would she see him for the first time? All she had was the memory of a voice commanding her, of hands touching her.
Monday morning found Sue Ann at work at her usual time. She was still confused about her adventure over the weekend. A few days concentrating on work should distract her, giving some time to put the events in perspective. All afternoon and into the night on Sunday she had gone over that one memorable moment. He had put his hand around her throat and whispered into her ear those words she would never forget, I own you. The intensity behind his words had captivated her. She had felt the conviction in his tone. He was stating a fact. He knew it, and more important she knew it too.
Sue Ann didn’t want to contemplate the implications that went with those three simple words. If he owned her, if he came back to claim her again, what would she do? Maybe that was the wrong question, better to ask if she could resist him. That night in the desert she would have done anything for him, no questions asked. What would happen if there was a second time? She wasn’t able to answer the question and that concerned her more than anything that had actually happened that night.
She picked up her morning cup of tea and took a sip. Better to get some work done and worry about her personal problems afterward. She pulled up the email client on her computer and started to weed out the list. Weekends always produced a slew of junk mail. She had enough practice to run down the header list quickly, zapping the obvious junk mail by sender or header line. One caught her eye, the sender was in her own company domain, but she didn’t recognize the name. The header was Derivatives Analysis Has Errors. She had done a spreadsheet analysis on some derivatives a few weeks ago; maybe someone had spotted an error.
She clicked on the entry to bring up the full text of the message. She expected the screen to fill with some detailed explanation of financial transactions. Instead she got one line, centered in her screen, containing three words in a small point size font. I own you, read the entire message.
Sue Ann’s hands began to shake. She had to take her hand off the mouse and hold them together in her lap. He knew where she worked. Not just that, he could insert email into the private company network. She reached for the mouse and deleted the message. She scanned the rest of her email list. The usual spam advertising, urban myth warnings, and fake credit card agency phishing emails were there, along with a few work items from senders she recognized. She deleted the junk mail and went through the business items, replying when needed. There were no more messages from her mystery man.
Obviously he had not forgotten about her. It was no longer a question of if, but rather when he would show up to claim her again. How had he known where she worked? She sat in her cubicle looking out the window, trying to figure out how he found her. Her purse was sitting on the edge of her desk. She closed her eyes, of course. She had left her purse in the trunk that night. The trunk that opened with the car keys she had left on the seat. Her wallet was in there; it contained her driver’s license and business cards. He knew where she lived too. She picked up her purse and opened it to see what else he could have found. Right next to her wallet was a slim writing book, her daily diary.
She put everything in that diary. What she did during the day, her dreams at night, all the secrets she would never tell anyone. If he had read it then he knew everything there was to know about her. All the details of her plan were in there. No wonder he had known about the other set of keys at the shed. She had told him, indirectly. He would have had plenty of time to read it all; she had spent hours walking back up the road.
There was a certain irony to the diary. She used it instead of her phone to keep her secret thoughts offline, away from any possible data theft. Her phone was locked so it was doubtful he had gone through it in the short time available. But a nicely organized, written diary was perfect for an old-fashioned spy. He’d probably snapped a picture of every page on his phone.
What next? She could go to the police and claim she was being stalked. The detective would ask who was stalking her and how she had met him. She could imagine the look on his face when she explained she didn’t know who he was because she had been blindfolded while bound hand and foot, standing out in the middle of the desert with no clothes on. Either she would get a trip to the mental hospital or the detective would burst out laughing before throwing her out.
She continued to work the rest of the day. There were no more messages. In all respects it was an ordinary day. Except for Sue Ann Mendel there would be no ordinary days in her future. Someone had entered her life and turned it upside down. Someone she could not identify. For all she could tell he walked by her every day. It might even be someone in the same office. No, she thought, not in the office. That voice she would recognize in a second.
The next day at work she came in and sat at her desk, hesitant to bring up her morning email. Finally she clicked on the icon, but all that came up were junk messages or work-related memos. Wednesday and still there was nothing in her email. Judging by appearance he had forgotten her again. Thursday she came in a few minutes early, eager to see if there was a message. Again she found nothing. Sue Ann felt a pang of disappointment. She had no way to get in touch with him. Unless he chose to contact her there was nothing she could do.
Friday passed and her email remained empty of any more cryptic messages. She went home in a mixed mood, alternately relieved he hadn’t come for her and angry for the same reason. As she went through the door and kicked off her shoes she glanced through the day’s mail. A few bills, a few more advertisements, and one envelope with no return address. Curious, she opened it. There was a single sheet of white paper. In the center, typed in closely spaced letters, the words I own you.
She sat down on the couch, staring at the piece of paper in her hand. Carefully she set it down on the coffee table in front of her. It wasn’t just a tremble in her hands this time. Her whole body was shaking. He did know where she lived. Not really a surprise, but seeing it confirmed was far different than just guessing.
She jumped up and ran to the front door, checking the lock and deadbolt. She went to every window, and then the back door. All locked and no evidence anyone had entered. The garage door, she had forgotten that one. No, she had come in through the garage; no one had been in there. She should be safe, but she didn’t feel safe at all. She peeked out from behind the front window curtains. No suspicious cars parked in front of the house. He could be anywhere, maybe even a neighbor. She went back and sat in her chair. Get a grip, she told herself, you are starting to panic again.
She put the letter back in the envelope and put it in a drawer. If this went any further she would go to the police, even if they did laugh at her. He might think it was a game but there was a law against stalking in this state. Thirty days in jail would serve him right for upsetting her like this, but she had second thoughts immediately afterward; somehow that didn’t seem right. She stood up and paced back and forth. What to do? She couldn’t decide.
She fixed some supper and sat watching the news on TV while eating. She needed a distraction. She was determined not to let some anonymous stranger take over her life. Sue Ann passed the evening watching a movie on TV and reading a magazine, deliberately forcing herself not to think about what was happening to her.
Saturday morning she lay in bed, thinking back to the previous week. The marks on her wrists and ankles had faded quickly. She held up her hands. No sign at all that last week those same wrists had been locked behind her back in unbreakable handcuffs, with the keys held by some stranger who had his hand on her neck. She closed her eyes, remembering how it had felt, his hand on her throat pushing her head back against the seat. He could have choked the life out of her, but he chose to let her live.
She got up and took a shower. She didn’t have anything planned, so she pondered how to best use the day. She did have one idea, something she hadn’t done all week. While drying herself with her big fluffy towel she decided to go for it. Back to the bedroom, she knelt by the bed and pulled out her special box. She hadn't bothered to dress to save time. She looked at the same set of handcuffs and leg irons she had worn last week. With all that had happened she hadn’t indulged herself for a while.
The leg cuffs went on first. She didn’t have socks and shoes on this time, but she wasn’t going to be hiking either. She tightened the cuffs down till they were snug against her ankles. She could still stand but she knew she should keep any walking to a minimum. Next she picked up the same Darby style handcuffs and locked one end on her right wrist. She stood up, reaching behind her back to put the other cuff on her left wrist. Using the key to close the cuff was much easier; she didn’t have the strength to push the locking bar closed by herself. She reached out behind her and set the keys on the nightstand next to the bed.
Just like last Saturday night, except she hadn’t bothered with the waist chain. She lowered herself face down on the bed, her hands secured behind her back. She wiggled onto the bed and pushed a pillow out of the way with her chin. Closing her eyes she concentrated on holding as still as possible. A few times she pulled on the handcuffs, just to make sure they were still there. If he came in right now, found her on the bed like this, and grabbed the keys before she could get up, she would be helpless, once more his obedient captive, stripped and bound for his pleasure.
Sue Ann’s eyes flew open. What was she doing? She sat up, wiggled over to the nightstand and reached behind her back for the keys. A moment later her hands were free, then her feet. She stood up and went to her closet. She had to get some clothes on right now, anything. Underwear, then shorts and a top, it made up her usual weekend attire. The chains went back in the box and under the bed. She had to do something to get him out of her head.
There was an anthropology seminar at the Natural History Museum at noon. She decided to go. Talking shop with the other amateurs like herself and picking up a few tips from the University and Museum staff would take the whole afternoon. After the seminar she might share dinner with some of the participants. The meeting usually continued on for a few hours more at the nearby pizza joint.
Sue Ann went to the seminar and spent the rest of the day talking about petroglyphs, old Indian sites and preservation techniques. She forgot all about her would-be stalker. Returning home that night she did check for any signs of a break-in, and before bed she made the rounds of all the doors and windows. Not finding any unwelcome visitors, she went to bed.
Sunday was uneventful. Sue Ann spent the day shopping at the grocery store and cleaning the house. Sunday dinner was take-out from the Chinese place, a favorite. She didn’t find any more little surprises from her self-proclaimed owner. Monday morning, she was back at work, nothing came in on email or in the mailbox when she got home that evening.
Sue Ann fixed a light dinner for herself, some pasta and a sandwich. She had just finished when the doorbell rang. Odd, she wasn’t expecting anyone. She went to the door and looked out through the peephole. A man in a suit was standing at the door. Was it him? Had he come for her? “Who is it?” she asked through the door speaker.
“Good evening, Ma’am. My name is Lieutenant Littleton, from the detective bureau at the downtown precinct. I wonder if I could have a moment of your time. I believe you might be able to assist in an ongoing investigation.” He held up his identification to the door. She could see the gold badge and identification card. Did this have something to do with her stalker, Sue Ann wondered? At least she was sure it wasn’t him masquerading, the voice was very different.
She opened the door and invited him into the living room. She sat down in her chair and motioned for him to sit on the couch. “How can I help you, lieutenant?”
“Thank you for seeing me this late in the evening. I’m part of the financial district detail. We are currently investigating some questionable funds transfers involving your employer. I wonder if you might look over some papers I brought and tell me what you know about the transactions?” He reached into his jacket and took out some papers, which he handed to her.
“I’m just a low-level accountant at the bank. I’m not sure how I can help, but I’ll tell you whatever I can.” Sue Ann picked up the papers. They appeared to be transaction records showing wire transfers of substantial sums. The sources were accounts at her bank. The destination was listed as a commercial bank in Mexico. “The transfers appear to be in order, is there something in particular I should be looking at?” She looked up from the records to the detective.
“Yes there is. Could you take a look at the origination code for all of these transfers?” He pointed to the block on the report that indicated who had requested the transfer. She looked carefully. First came her bank number and branch, then the operator employee number, then a workstation identification code. All the numbers she knew by heart, including the employee number. It was her number and her workstation. According to the printout, while at her desk she had authorized wire transfers of nearly half a million dollars from inactive accounts to some obscure bank in Mexico City. “I don’t understand. This is my number. How did it get on here? I never entered any transactions like these. Did you check with the bank in Mexico?”
“Yes we did, ma’am. All the money had been withdrawn from the account this morning. The local police have been unable to locate the account owner. The name and address appear to be fictitious. However, the bank did fax us a copy of the account application. The form is in Spanish, but your name was listed as one of the cosigners.” The detective was looking at her intently.
“This isn’t right. I’ve never been to Mexico City. I never put in any of these wire transfers. There must be some mistake here. Or someone is trying to put the blame on me.” She was worried now. Sue Ann knew enough about banking law to realize she was in serious legal trouble. In her hands was incriminating evidence of wire fraud and embezzlement, with her name all over it. She had an uneasy feeling the detective was not here for a friendly visit.
“I’m sure you are a victim here, but until this is straightened out I must ask you to come with me to the station. At this point I am required to inform you of your legal rights.” He proceeded to read from a small card. She wasn’t listening. Something was very wrong here. He finished by asking if she wanted a lawyer.
“No, I don’t need a lawyer. I didn’t do this.” She stopped with a premonition of what was about to happen. “Am I under arrest?”
He stood up. “Sue Ann Mendel, I have a warrant for your arrest on charges of embezzlement, wire fraud, money laundering, and robbery of a senior citizen. Please stand up and turn around. Place your hands behind your back.” In a daze Sue Ann stood up and did as he directed. The handcuffs closed on her wrists. Not the first time for her, but up to now she always had a key. This was for real. “Do you have any weapons, syringe needles, or anything else I should know about?” he asked her.
“No, I don’t have anything,” she answered in a trembling voice. She still had on a skirt and blouse from work. Neither one had pockets because she didn’t like the look. She preferred to carry everything in her purse. He patted her down around her waist to verify she didn’t have any concealed weapons then took hold of her upper arm and turned her around.
“I’m sorry, but we’ll have to go out the front door. There is a car waiting with a female officer who will take you to the Detention Center. After processing you will be allowed to make a call. Are your house keys in your purse? I can take it with you and have it stored at the jail as your personal property.” He gestured to her purse on the floor next to her chair.
“Oh. Yes, please. You will lock the front door behind you?” She was on the verge of crying, shaking with fear. She had never even received a traffic ticket before now, much less been arrested for multiple felonies. The detective seemed to be sympathetic. She hoped that he believed her and would take the time to be thorough and find enough evidence to clear her of the allegations.
He held her by the arm as they walked to the front door. He put her purse down to open the door, then took her outside and closed the door behind her. An unmarked car was in her driveway, but she could see the screen between the front and back seats. A woman stood waiting next to the back door of the car as the detective led her down the front walkway. She opened the rear door as Sue Ann and the detective approached. The woman took hold of Sue Ann’s other arm and held her against the side of the car. “Hold still, I’ll have to do a search before we go downtown.”
After the search the woman helped Sue Ann into the rear seat, holding her head so she wouldn’t hit it against the car. The woman straightened Sue Ann’s skirt before fastening a seat belt across her waist. The woman stood up and the detective closed the car door. Sue Ann noticed the door was locked and the inside window and door handles were missing, as was the door lock button. The handcuffs were uncomfortable but the seat belt wasn’t so tight that the cuffs dug into her back.
The female police officer got in the other side of the rear seat and sat next to Sue Ann. The detective got into the driver’s seat and started the car. He set her purse on the front seat; she could see it through the metal screen. She had a handcuff key on her key chain inside that purse. Inches away, but it might as well be a thousand miles; there was no way for her to get to it.
As they pulled out of the driveway Sue Ann had a perverse thought; she would have been happier if the detective had been sitting next to her, or if the female officer hadn’t been there at all. As they drove towards the jail the detective and the female officer talked about some common friends while Sue Ann looked out the window, watching the scenery go by. She followed the same route every day to and from work but it all seemed different now. It might be the last time she came this way for several years.
Someone at the bank had framed her. Whoever it was had done a good job too. In order to initiate a wire transfer the operator had to enter both employee number and a PIN code. Theoretically no one knew her PIN code; it was encrypted in the computer system so even a system operator could not extract it from the security database. New ones always replaced lost or forgotten PIN codes. One of the techs in the computer department at the bank had explained to her that there was no way to retrieve the original code number because they were one-way encrypted. So no one could have stolen her employee number and used it without the PIN number. That’s why they had come for her. No doubt the bank’s security director had told the detective the same story. Someone in Mexico was living the good life while she was heading for prison. Though chances were whoever had robbed the bank was long gone from Mexico too.
She saw the sign as the car pulled into the rear of the jail building. Metropolitan Detention Center Prisoner Area AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY it read on a large sign at the driveway. This was the part of the building she could see from her cubicle across the street. The detective parked near the large barred gate, the inmate entrance. He opened the rear car door for the female officer, then came around and opened Sue Ann’s door. The female officer unbuckled Sue Ann’s seat belt and then the detective helped her out of the car. As she stood up she could see the window of her office. All those times she had sat at her desk up there, watching, even fantasizing about being down here, but never did she expect to actually be one of the prisoners.
The female officer said goodbye to the detective and headed for a door further down the building. Sue Ann knew that door was for the police and jail guards; she had never seen prisoners go in or out that way. The detective led her to the main door and pressed a buzzer. Someone inside opened the heavy steel door and unlocked the barred gate. The detective took Sue Ann inside and stopped at the booking window. A jail guard took her name and address and inventoried her possessions from the purse. If either the detective or the guard noticed the handcuff key they made no mention of it. Next the detective took her in a side door where a technician was waiting to take her picture and record her fingerprints. The detective removed her handcuffs while she was fingerprinted. After she cleaned the ink off, he handcuffed her again, hands behind her back, and took her down another corridor to a small room with a table and some chairs. He pulled one chair out and helped her sit down before he sat down across from her and began to fill out some paperwork.
“Sorry about the handcuffs,” he told her. “Procedure. We have to do it for everyone now. The D.A. say it has to do with liability.” She nodded. At least he was being nice about it. It wasn’t as if she had never been cuffed before, and for far longer periods of time. The detective stood up and walked to the door. “I have to file this paperwork and then I’ll be back in a few minutes to discuss your case in more detail. Will you be okay here by yourself? I’ll be right back.” Again she nodded in agreement, afraid to speak lest he hear the tremor in her voice. She had a suspicion he had left her handcuffed as an intimidation tactic for the upcoming interrogation. It was working. She was trying to remain outwardly calm but inside she was a frightened, helpless little girl.
He knocked on the door, someone opened it and he left. Sue Ann looked around the small interrogation room. On TV there was always a one-way mirror. Here were only bare walls. She looked up at the ceiling. Nothing more than a common fluorescent light panel as far as she could see. There must be a concealed camera somewhere, she thought, or they wouldn’t have left me alone. She touched the cuffs locked around her wrists. They did have a familiar outline; she must have one of the same models in her collection. He had placed them just as the instruction sheet described. The keyhole pointed away from her hand and her palms faced outward. She could just touch one of the keyways with the tip of a finger. She had always worn her cuffs with the keyway toward her hands and palms together. It didn’t really matter; without a key she couldn’t open them in either position.
The detective came back in with another man dressed in a suit. “Ms. Mendel, the District Attorney’s office has instructed us not to discuss your case with you. This is Mr. James Logan from the Public Defender’s office. Unless you decide to retain another attorney he will handle your case. For now he will explain what happens next. I’ll leave you two alone to discuss it.” Detective Littleton knocked on the door again and left.
“Good evening, Sue Ann,” the attorney said as he sat down. “I’ll get right to it. The cops aren’t going to interrogate you because they feel they don’t have to. Their evidence is solid and so persuasive they don’t want any chance of some technical violation. I’ve looked over what they’ve given me so far. To be frank, they have a pretty good case. Your name is all over the records. Your fingerprints were on paper records. All the transactions came from your workstation. Just to give you an idea, the assistant DA told me she didn’t want to negotiate a plea bargain, but she did offer to drop misdemeanor charges and not ask the judge for maximums if you plead guilty.
“As your attorney I don’t have to know if you are guilty or not. I’ll present your defense and do my best to challenge the prosecution’s case. I have to tell you; in all honesty no jury in the world will let you go with the prosecution evidence I’ve seen so far. Is there anything you can offer to refute their case?”
Sue Ann shook her head. “No, I have nothing. I didn’t do it. I knew nothing about it until an hour ago. If I had stolen all that money, why am I still in town? Can they explain that?”
The attorney shrugged. “Actually, yes they can. The prosecution will claim they discovered the theft almost immediately because of a chance security audit. Normally the transfers would not have been found for weeks, possibly months since they were inactive accounts. Three of the account owners were elderly. The other two were deceased. They believe you didn’t have enough time to get away.”
Smart move by whoever set her up, Sue Ann thought. They must have known the audit was coming. “Then where is the money? I haven’t been to Mexico and I certainly don’t have half a million stashed under my bed,” she asked. There must be something missing, some way she could prove she was innocent.
“It was a man that withdrew the money. The Federales, the Mexican Federal Police, have a blurry picture from the security cameras in the bank. Nothing useful though, he probably had a disguise on. The police think he’s your partner. Not a very bright partner, he put your name down on the account application by accident. Listen, if you tell the police who he is, and where the money can be found, I can get a better deal for you. It’s something I can negotiate with.” He looked at her expectantly.
“You don’t understand!” She was on the verge of tears again. “I didn’t do it. He isn’t my partner. I don’t know who he is, or where the money is. I’ve been set up. I’m innocent! I didn’t steal anything.” She would have been banging her fist on the table if not for the handcuffs. She did clench her fists in frustration. No one seemed to believe her. She could tell from the attorney’s expression he didn’t buy one word of her story. “What’s the worst that can happen to me? If I lose in court, I mean.”
“So far there are five counts of wire fraud, one for each transfer. Five embezzlement counts, that’s one for each account. Let’s see,” he consulted a legal pad, “and three counts of robbing a senior citizen. It seems three of the bank accounts were held by people over age 60. In this state it doubles the sentence if convicted. Assuming you get a moderate judge, five years concurrent for the fraud and embezzlement, doubled to ten years for the senior citizen rider. Worst case, fifteen years for fraud, ten for embezzling from the bank, that makes 25 years if served consecutively. Three counts would be doubled, add another 15 years for that. A hanging judge would give you forty consecutive years. All that is contingent on the prosecution not adding additional counts.”
She paled. Forty years might as well be a life sentence in prison. Even ten years seemed like forever. She would have nothing when she got out. No one would hire an accountant convicted of robbing her employer and customers. Sue Ann sat back in her chair, stunned at the enormity of what was happening to her. What was she going to do? For that matter what could she do?
The attorney cleared his throat. “You will be arraigned tomorrow. The judge will ask for a plea and set bail. If you plead guilty, there won’t be a trial. A judge will schedule a sentencing hearing where both sides present facts they feel the judge should take into account. We present mitigating factors. The prosecution remains silent or presents facts they believe justify a harsher sentence. I should tell you that a judge is usually more lenient in sentencing if there hasn’t been a trial, primarily because he may not know all the facts in the case. Also, if you plead guilty the prosecution has offered to remain silent on sentencing. No guarantees, but it usually helps if the District Attorney’s office recommends a lesser sentence or remains silent.
“If you plead innocent the judge schedules a trial and sets bail. The prosecution will argue you are a flight risk because the money hasn’t been recovered. In cases like this the judge will deny bail or set it to be very high, maybe a million dollars or more. Unless you have wealthy friends you won’t make bail. You sit in jail for six months to a year before the trial starts. Any questions?”
It looked bad. Sue Ann couldn’t come up with anything to say. She looked across the table at her attorney. “I really don’t have much of a choice do I? I have no way of proving my innocence. I can’t afford a big legal bill with investigators and high-powered attorneys. Even if I could, they might not find anything. Can I think about it tonight, and tell you at the arraignment in the morning?”
“Sure,” he answered. “What will happen next is they will put you in the pre-trial detention area tonight. It’s not ideal but better than the general population area; they will treat you decently. Tomorrow morning they’ll take you to the courthouse. I’ll meet you there and we’ll appear before the judge. Depending on what happens you will probably be brought back here. I’ll meet with you later to discuss your case. Okay?” She nodded in agreement. That part of the routine she definitely knew about; she saw it every day. Her attorney stood up, knocked on the door, and left as a guard opened it.
In the Cellblock
The guard came in and told Sue Ann to stand up before he took hold of her arm. They left the interrogation room and headed down a hallway to some elevators. They got in and the guard punched in the top floor. The other people in the elevator car looked at her oddly as she stood next to the guard, her hands shackled behind her back and his hand wrapped around her upper arm. No doubt they all thought she was a drug pusher or baby kidnapper. Sue Ann shrugged mentally; at the moment it looked like she was about to become a career criminal in record time.
Everyone else got off before the top floor. When the door opened at the top there was a small alcove with a single heavily barred gate. A jail guard sat behind a thick bulletproof glass enclosure. He buzzed open the gate and they entered. “Hi Joe, one more pre-trial for tonight. You got the paperwork?” her guard asked the man sitting at the entrance.
Joe nodded and held out a plastic bracelet, similar to the ones used in hospitals. Sue Ann’s guard wrapped it around her left wrist and sealed it. “That’s your ID bracelet. Take it off and you get an automatic thirty-day extension to your stay here. Understand?”
“Yes, I understand. I won’t remove it.” Sue Ann still held out some hope she would be exonerated. The last thing she wanted is to get off on the felonies and then get thrown back in jail for something trivial. A door opened and a female guard came out. She walked up to Sue Ann and took hold of her other arm.
“Okay Pete, we’ll take her from here. All the paperwork completed, Joe? Pete, who do the cuffs go back to?” The female guard had already started back to the open door with Sue Ann.
“Paperwork’s in order, send the cuffs back to Littleton in the Detective Bureau. See you later, Judy.” The guard who had escorted her up here, Pete as she now knew his name, headed back out the gate to the elevator.
“C’mon sister, we have a lot to do. I hope you ate, supper was an hour ago. This is women’s pre-trial, so we assume you just might still be innocent,” Judy, her new guard, laughed. “Don’t take it personal, it’s just that everyone who shows up here is innocent. Really a shame the cops never catch anyone who’s guilty.
“This is the procedure. First you take a shower. I don’t care how clean you are, all overnight guests get one. Then you get issued clothes. No street clothes allowed. Whatever you have on now goes in with your personal property. Everything is contraband unless we give it to you. We find drugs, weapons, money, a phone, anything like that and you earn an extended stay. Give us a hard time and you get solitary or worse. You don’t want that.
“I order you to jump, you start hopping till I tell you to stop. You do whatever any guard in here tells you to do. Fail to obey an order and we come down on you hard, understand?”
Sue Ann nodded, all that was about what she expected. Jail wasn’t meant to be a vacation resort.
“Good. After the shower and new clothes you get a room assignment. You are lucky tonight; we still have a few vacancies. Unless it gets busy later you will have a cell to yourself. Lights out at 10pm. The day starts at 7am, you get breakfast in your cell. If you are scheduled for court you will be transported to the courthouse sometime after 8:30. For arraignments and non-jury trial days you wear issue clothes. Your attorney will bring some street clothes if you are appearing before a jury.
“Wherever you are you will get some lunch around noon. Supper is at 6:30 again in your cell. We don’t have work details or recreation; you won’t be here that long. If you behave you can watch some TV at night. Clear on all that? Here’s the showers. This late you get it to yourself.”
They went into the shower area. Sue Ann expected the wide-open showers so common in prison movies, but to her surprise there were individual stalls. Judy removed her handcuffs and pointed to a nearby table. “Everything off. Put your clothes on that table and get into the shower. When you finish, dry off with a towel,” she gestured to a rack full of towels, “and then go to the door at the far end. You will get new clothes there. Now go!”
Sue Ann unzipped her skirt, dropped it and stepped out. She carefully folded it and set it on the table. Next she unbuttoned her blouse, took it off and folded it too. Her underwear and shoes followed, forming a neat pile on the table. She went into the nearest stall and turned on the water. There was some soap in a holder. Noticing her guard Judy was watching, she used the soap liberally, scrubbing herself all over. She rinsed off the soap, turned off the water and stepped out, looking at Judy.
“Good enough. Go over to the window for some clothes.” Sue Ann walked over to an open window where another guard asked her size. Sue Ann listed her clothing sizes; she got a pile of clothes handed to her. “You can dress here first,” Judy told her. Sue Ann put on the scratchy underwear, followed by a blue denim knee length skirt and sleeveless blouse. The words Detention Center were stenciled on both the skirt and blouse. Slippers completed the ensemble.
Judy took hold of her upper arm and they headed back out the front door of the shower room. Judy took her around a corner in the corridor to another barred gate. The guard opened it with a key from her belt, gestured for Sue Ann to go through first, then closed and locked the gate. They went past several occupied cells before stopping at the first empty one. She used another key on her belt to unlock the cell door. “In you go. No talking after lights out. Guards will come by several times at night for bed checks.” Sue Ann stepped across the threshold into her cell. As she turned back to Judy the door swung shut. She could hear the door lock engage with a mechanical click. “Keep your hands and arms inside the bars. Don’t grab at anyone passing by. We expect you to keep the place neat and clean. Like I said before, give us a hard time and you do hard time. That’s it till morning.” Judy turned and walked away.
Sue Ann’s accommodations were somewhat less than a five-star hotel. A bed, a toilet and sink combination, and a wall shelf she could use as a table. Three cinder block walls and a set of bars summed up the interior decoration. She pushed against the bars on the door; they felt solid and did not move. She didn’t really think the door would be unlocked. She grabbed the bars of the door in both hands and pushed as hard as she could. All her strength did not move the door. She was as securely confined as if she were in close bondage.
Sometimes at home she would place the keys at one end of the house, and then go to the other end and place herself in a tight bondage, legs tied together and behind her back several sets of handcuffs on her wrists. She would link the cuffs to her ankles with rope or chain, a position called a hogtie, and then crawl across the floor to the room with the keys. Here she had no mobility past the barrier of the cell bars.
She sat down on the bed, looking at the confines of her small jail cell. She had seen cages on the Internet sites. They were just big enough to hold one person. Her cage had a few amenities but in principle it was the same. She had to stay here until someone else opened the cage, or cell, and let her out. The cages she had seen were much smaller since the intent was to be as restrictive as possible. The jail cell was bad enough; she could not imagine what it would be like to spend an entire night in one of those tiny cages.
She had to make some kind of decision about her arraignment tomorrow. On the negative side, she looked guilty; had she been on a jury hearing the same evidence she would have voted guilty without hesitation. On the positive side, well on the positive side she was safe from her stalker. Otherwise there was no positive outlook. If by some miracle she did make bail she would be out of a job by tomorrow morning. There weren’t going to be many offers coming her way either. She doubted she could even get a menial job at a fast food place. There were no close friends or relatives to help. Her casual friends at the office would avoid her in fear of their own jobs. Or freedom for that matter, no one would want to be accused of being an accomplice.
Sue Ann fell asleep on the cell bunk with thoughts of her case rolling around in her head. Again and again she went over what happened, looking for some small detail the actual thief had missed. She awoke the next morning to a loud bell ringing in the cellblock. Another female guard walked past her cell, stopping to look Sue Ann over for a moment before continuing along the row of prisoners. About ten minutes later a cart stopped in front of her door. A guard unlocked a small slot in her door and passed through a Styrofoam carton. “A recent arrival? This is breakfast. Here’s your coffee too.” The guard handed her a Styrofoam coffee cup with a lid on it. “Cream and sugar are in the carton. You are scheduled for court today; we’ll come for you in about an hour, be ready to go.” The guard closed the food slot and proceeded to the next cell.
Sue Ann opened the carton to see what she had. Eggs, probably from powder, a strip of bacon, a slice of toast, a small cup of orange juice with a foil top, and packets of creamer and sugar for the coffee. There was a plastic fork and spoon included along with a paper napkin. It looked like the five dollar breakfast special at McDonald’s. She ate all of it anyway. The guard last night, Judy, had told her she would get lunch at noon. There would be no midmorning coffee break with a banana muffin today.
She finished the bland meal, even drinking all the coffee, though she usually stayed with tea. She placed all the trash inside the container, mindful of Judy’s warning about keeping the place clean. Next to the sink were a comb and toothbrush wrapped in plastic, and a small tube of toothpaste along with one of those hotel-size soap bars. Sue Ann cleaned herself up as much as possible, hoping to make a good impression when she got to court. She wasn’t obsessed with her appearance but she did try to look nice at work or in other more formal social settings. She smoothed out the wrinkles in her blouse and skirt as best she could. She would have preferred to wear one of her tailored business suits but she had to make do with whatever her custodians chose to give her.
When a pair of guards showed up at her door a short time later, she was waiting on her bunk, hands in her lap. One guard, a large man, opened the slot on her door. “We will be transporting you to the Courthouse. You are scheduled to be arraigned this morning. Stand up, turn around with your back to the door and extend your wrists out this slot.” Sue Ann complied with his order; she knew what he intended. Once again her wrists were locked in handcuffs behind her back. The male officer double locked her cuffs, making sure she was restrained before opening the cell door. He allowed Sue Ann to turn around before she stepped out of her cell but halted her as soon as she was in the hallway.
“You have been listed as a security risk,” the female guard told her. She knelt down and locked leg irons around Sue Ann’s ankles. “Walk slowly and don’t try to run or kick,” the guard told her as she checked the fit of the ankle cuffs. “Don’t try to walk by yourself; one of us will be with you at all times to make sure you keep your balance. It is very easy to trip or fall and injure yourself while hooked up. It’s best if you don’t jerk against the ankle cuffs; that will cause bruising. Now, take a few steps, try to keep it short, just like wearing very high heels.” Sue Ann smiled at the last comment; only another woman would describe it that way.
Both guards watched her carefully as the man started to lead her forward by the grip on her upper arm. Because of Sue Ann’s prior experience, she had no trouble after one first step to determine the length of her stride. Compared to her desert hike this wasn’t bad at all; they had used the regular full-length leg irons. Sue Ann supposed the average prisoner, especially a woman, would not be so skilled, if that was the proper word, at wearing chains. It explained the care both guards took to make sure she did not hurt herself. The guards seemed surprised she was able to move so well; the woman gave her an odd look. Maybe she knows, Sue Ann thought.
They took her down the elevator and out to the back of the building. This was familiar territory to Sue Ann now, but they surprised her by heading over to a van instead of the usual bus. Sue Ann looked over her shoulder at the other prisoners being loaded into the police bus, most handcuffed wrist to wrist in pairs, a few with both wrists cuffed together but still in front rather than behind the back. None had leg irons or waist chains. Obviously they were all low risk; Sue Ann supposed she wouldn’t try to escape if arrested for overdue parking tickets either.
The man held open the van door while the woman helped Sue Ann inside. She sat on a bench type car seat while the woman buckled a seat belt around her waist. Other guards brought out another woman who was placed in the van next to Sue Ann. The male guard closed and locked the rear van door. Both guards got in the front seat. The man drove while the woman watched Sue Ann and the other prisoner through the ubiquitous metal screen separating the prisoner compartment.
Under other circumstances Sue Ann would be enjoying all this. The male guard wasn’t a movie star but he was handsome. She would have preferred that he put the cuffs around her ankles, his hands on her legs; she closed her eyes for a moment, imagining what it would feel like. Better stop that, she thought to herself, this is serious business.
Out of curiosity she explored the handcuffs on her wrists. They were the high security hinged type rather than the more common chain link. Her wrists and arms were forced to stay parallel to each other. It was nearly as restrictive as the waist chain combination Sue Ann used on herself. She couldn’t touch either keyhole. She had one pair of hinged cuffs in her collection, though she seldom used them because they were so difficult to get off without someone else to help. She had never attempted wearing them behind her back; in retrospect it had been a wise choice. There was no way she could free herself in this position. He had used the police technique, palms facing out. Maybe if she could twist one wrist around the other way, she might do better. She didn’t have a key, but it would be interesting to see if she could at least reach the lock. She started to turn her right hand but didn’t get very far. These cuffs had an oval shape that fit her wrist well, but the same design prevented turning her wrist. She gave one last tug at the cuffs then gave up.
The van pulled into the rear parking lot of the Courthouse. They had arrived before the bus. The driver parked the van in a reserved spot next to the prisoner entrance. The female guard was the first out; she opened the rear door and began unbuckling the seat belts. She helped out the other woman prisoner. The two stood next to the van while the driver assisted Sue Ann. All four went into the building entrance.
They passed a guard at the door then proceeded down a short hallway to a series of barred cells. Most held men in jail uniform. They went round a corner to a smaller group of empty cells. A female guard at a desk rose and unlocked one of the cell doors. Sue Ann and the other woman were placed in the cell and the door locked. The two guards from the jail collected a receipt and left.
“This is a holding area. When you are called a bailiff will take you to the courtroom. The two of you are listed as security risks, so your restraints will not be removed. You can sit on the bench or stand. You may talk to each other but keep it down, and don’t bother me unless you need to use the toilet. You get lunch at noon if you are still here.” The guard sat back down at her desk and returned to filling out some paperwork. Sue Ann looked at her companion, shrugged, and sat down on the wooden bench against the wall. The other woman joined her. Sue Ann noticed both of them were shackled in the same manner.
“Lou Gonzalez, that’s short for Guadeloupe, excuse me if I don’t shake hands,” the other woman introduced herself as she sat down next to Sue Ann. “I have some sort of hearing on trial motions today. I have a Public Defender so I’m not expecting any miracles. He’s trying to get a search excluded. I doubt if it will help.” Lou leaned forward and stretched her arms behind her. “These cuffs sure hurt your shoulders after a while. Don’t bother asking the guard to help, I’ve already tried.”
“Sue Ann Mendel, I’m here for an arraignment.” Sue Ann leaned to one side and wiggled her fingers from behind her back. “No problem with the handshake under the circumstances.” Sue Ann shifted her arms side to side to try to reduce the pressure on her shoulders. “I know what you mean. Like I’m going to overpower a man twice my size.” Sue Ann lifted her feet and rattled the ankle chain. “Then kick open the cell doors and run off into town.”
Lou laughed along with Sue Ann. The guard looked up for a moment then continued with her paperwork. Several more female prisoners and their guards came around the corner. The bus had arrived. The holding area guard placed the rest of the women in the other holding cells; Sue Ann and Lou had one to themselves. The jail guards removed the handcuffs from the other prisoners, collected the paperwork, and left. Several women stared through the bars at Sue Ann and Lou but said nothing.
The bailiffs came through a door. Each handed a slip of paper to the guard, who selected the appropriate prisoner. Sue Ann noticed the bailiffs did handcuff the women prisoners but allowed them to keep their hands in front. One bailiff collected Lou; he left the cuffs and leg irons in place as he led her away.
Sue Ann sat by herself. None of the prisoners in the other cells seemed inclined to talk to her. Fear probably, Sue Ann thought. They must think I’m violent and dangerous. A few times she stood and walked around to stretch her legs; the other women watched her as she leaned over to stretch her arms behind her. She wasn’t sure how long she waited but finally a bailiff came for her. He took her through the door to a corridor that led to each courtroom. He stopped at a door labeled Department 5. That must be my judge, Sue Ann thought. He opened the door and led her by the arm into the courtroom. Several people were milling around; the judge hadn’t arrived yet. The bailiff told her to sit next to three other prisoners in a section walled off with transparent panels. She was the only woman in the docket; the rest were all men.
Her attorney walked over and stood in front of her. “Hi, Sue Ann. I just found out about the security risk thing. It’s a ploy to make you give up your partner. They are trying to make you as miserable as possible, to scare you. I can’t do anything about it yet, but I’ll file a motion to stop it. Did you think about our conversation last night? We will be in third place today. Usually this goes quickly but it can bog down if someone wants to be stubborn.”
Sue Ann knew how she was going to plead. She didn’t have a real choice. “Yes, I thought about it. These are uncomfortable,” she held out her cuffed hands behind her, “but I can live with it. Thanks for your help. I didn’t do it, but I can’t explain the evidence. I’ll plead guilty and hope for the best.” Sue Ann hung her head. She didn’t want to start crying now.
“You do have the option to plead what is known as nolo contendere, or no contest. It’s not an admission of guilt. You waive a trial. Instead you tell your story to the judge; he also looks at the evidence the prosecution has filed in briefs. You know what your chances will be, but at least you don’t have to admit guilt. Your chance for appeal if new evidence is found is better if you didn’t plead guilty in the original case.” He sounded sincere to Sue Ann; perhaps she did have someone on her side after all.
“I want to plead that way, no contest. What will happen?” she asked him.
“Well, you still get a chance at bail. The judge will schedule a date for you to present your story. You have to do that; I’ll be there to advise but I don’t present evidence. Both sides can file briefs before the hearing to present evidence, but there won’t be any witnesses. The judge might ask you some questions, before he passes a summary judgment. If he’d already made up his mind he might sentence you immediately. Otherwise you wait for the bad news.”
The judge came in and her attorney returned to his seat. The first arraignment went very quickly, not guilty plea and bail set. The second took a while longer haggling over the bail amount. Then her attorney came over and motioned for Sue Ann to stand up. The clerk read the charges, no change from when the detective had arrested her, followed by the judge asking for her plea. She looked at her attorney, nodded. “No contest, your Honor. We ask for five thousand in bail. The defendant will surrender her passport,” her attorney said.
The prosecution attorney, a woman sitting at the table across from Sue Ann and her attorney, stood up. “Your Honor, we ask that she be remanded without bail. She poses a considerable flight risk. There is an accomplice still on the loose and half a million dollars in missing funds. We will not oppose the no contest plea.” Sue Ann looked at her attorney to see what that meant; he held up his hand to her as the judge spoke.
“As long as the money is missing I agree. But I’ll be reasonable, bail set at the amount in question, one half million dollars cash or property. Clerk will schedule a no contest hearing.” The judge started to turn to the clerk for the next case.
“Your Honor,” her attorney interrupted, “we would like to enter a motion to have the security risk status for the defendant reduced to a normal risk category. Is it really necessary to have her appear in chains?”
The prosecution attorney started to rise but the judge waved her down. “Denied. She may have an accomplice and substantial funds. It is reasonable to take extra security precautions. Next case.” That was it. Her attorney looked at her and shrugged. He had tried. Sue Ann wasn’t surprised. They were going to squeeze her for a name she didn’t have. It was impossible for her to raise a half million dollar bail. She doubted she could raise even five percent of that amount given present circumstances. A bailiff came up behind her and took her arm.
Later that day her attorney sent a message to inform her the hearing date was set for next week. Lacking the means to raise bail she had to spend the days in her cell. As she had expected the bank sent word through her lawyer that she had been terminated. She had no visitors other than her attorney. During the day she could read the paper or watch some TV, but the nights she spent locked in her cell. There was no phone or internet access, other than scheduling for a single pay phone. Sue Ann didn’t know of anyone she could call.
The nights after lights out were the most difficult. It was difficult to sleep, the lights were dimmed but still on, and worst of all was the yelling and screaming from the men’s area. At least her section was quiet, but the sounds she could hear were frightening. Often she would sit on her bunk and stare at the bars confining her, almost grateful that they kept the crazies away from her, but still shaken and scared of what they represented. It wasn’t so much a fear of what was coming, for she had no control over her destiny now. Her despair came from knowing she would never meet her mysterious stranger again.
Sue Ann had no problem with the jail guards. She was a model prisoner, keeping quiet and following orders. All her life, even as a little girl she had tried to meet the expectations others had set for her. In school she had always done her homework and never got in trouble. Her parents had praised her hard work and good grades at school. She was diligent at work and did her best when given assignments. Her supervisor had been a glum man with personal problems and too many beers at lunch, but the few times he did remark on how well she had completed an assignment were all the more special because of their scarcity. And now she found herself unconsciously doing the same thing with the guards, trying to please them.
A week later she was back in court. Her time in jail was uneventful but boring. Her attorney had come by twice to help her with her story and to file briefs. He had won one small concession; she was allowed to change into street clothes for her appearance before the judge. And without the chains, though there would be several bailiffs in the courtroom. She doubted it would make a difference. She had rehearsed her explanation. It sounded weak. She had seen the prosecution briefs, a simple timeline of events and copies of the audit reports, plus the account form obtained from the bank in Mexico. That one she hadn’t seen before. The account cosigner name was Suzanna Mendez, with a signature in her handwriting. It was an excellent forgery. They must think she was incredibly stupid for using such an obvious pseudonym.
She told her story to the judge. He looked bored. After she finished he made a few notes but asked only one question, “You won’t reveal the name of your accomplice?” Her heart sank. He didn’t believe her. She answered that she didn’t know his name and he wasn’t an accomplice. The judge stared at her for a moment, and then shook his head.
“Sue Ann Mendel, this court finds you guilty on all counts. For each count of wire fraud, you are sentenced to four year in prison, to be served concurrently. For each embezzlement count, three years concurrent, sentence to be served consecutively.” Sue Ann added it up; she thought that meant seven years. Not as bad as her attorney had predicted. “Since three fraud counts were committed against senior citizens, the state mandates that the sentence for that offense be doubled.” The judge stopped for a moment and looked at her. “That means you serve eight years for the fraud charge, then three more for embezzlement. If you have a change of heart and decide to cooperate this court will review the sentence. Defendant will remain in custody and will be transported to the Women's Maximum Security Facility as soon as possible.” The judge stood and left.
Sue Ann turned to her attorney, “What does that mean?” A bailiff came up behind her and began to handcuff her. Sue Ann paid no attention to him as he took hold of her arms. Something hadn’t sounded right in the judge’s sentence.
“I’m sorry Sue Ann. He gave you eleven years at the supermax prison. The sentence is far too harsh. That facility is reserved for the worst of the worst, murderers, psycho cases.” He looked genuinely concerned. Maximum Security didn’t sound too good. Eleven years, maybe less if she got parole. Eleven years surrounded by the very worst society had to offer.
She panicked, “No! It isn’t right, I didn’t do it!” She backed into the bailiff behind her, knocking him down. She tried to run toward the courtroom doors but her attorney grabbed her arm, slowing her down. Then the other bailiffs were on her. The first bailiff had already gotten the cuffs on her wrists; she was powerless to resist the rest. Her mad dash ended in seconds. They hustled her out of the courtroom immediately. In the corridor she was forced to the floor until someone put leg irons on her, then she was hauled back to her feet. Sue Ann was crying profusely, pleading for them to let her go.
They put her back in the holding area cell by herself. She sat in the corner quietly crying. Tears streamed down her face; she couldn’t wipe them off as her hands were still bound behind her back. Eleven years in prison, she couldn’t do it. Her attorney had warned her that this would happen but she didn’t really believe it. Up to the last moment she had believed the system would work and she would be set free. He had said there was the possibility of parole, but she would have to serve two-thirds of her sentence first. That would be about eight years. She hated whoever had done this to her. Her life had stopped; she had lost everything. Why her, what had she done to deserve this?
Sue Ann looked up when she heard her cell door open. The same jail guard who had brought her to court this morning was standing at the door, watching her. “It’s time to go,” he said. “Are you going to give me any trouble?” Someone must have told him about her scene in court.
She hung her head, answering in a subdued voice, “No sir, no trouble. I’m sorry for what I did.” She stood up and walked toward the guard. He turned her around so her back was to him, and then replaced the handcuffs and leg chains, handing the bailiff’s restraints back to the female guard for the holding area. He turned her back to face him. She noticed he had used the high security hinged cuffs on her wrists again. They walked toward the rear door, as usual his hand tightly gripping her upper arm. He put her in the back of the prison van, seat belt as usual, but this time he also padlocked her ankle chain to the floor before closing the rear door. It had been foolish for her to try to run. Now they weren’t going to take any chances with her.
She pulled on the cuffs locked on her wrists. They didn’t let go. There was a certain irony in that, she reflected. When she had tried to run away, blinded by panic, she hadn’t even noticed the bailiff had already cuffed her hands behind her back. Between her self-bondage sessions, her desert hike, and now her arrest, being dressed in chains was becoming second nature to her; she didn’t even think about it anymore. Even if she had managed to get out the courtroom door she wouldn’t have gotten very far. She imagined herself running aimlessly down the street with her hands cuffed behind her, in the middle of a business day.
The guard drove her back to the Detention Center. She didn’t know what was going to happen next. Most likely she would be on the next bus to prison. She was taken back to her original cell. This time the guard did not remove her chains until the cell door had been locked shut. As she figured, they were going the safe route now. Another female guard stopped at her door and tossed some jail issue clothes through the bars. “Change into these and give me your street clothes. You won’t need them anymore,” she ordered. Sue Ann changed into the denim prison garb and folded her business suit neatly, handing it to the guard through the bars.
Her attorney showed up later that day. He didn’t have any good news for her. Now that she had been sentenced the Public Defender would be severed from her case. She was on her own if she wanted to appeal. He wished her luck and apologized that he hadn’t been able to do more for her. She thanked him for his effort and watched as he left. That was her last hope; she had no one on her side now. She sat on the edge of her cell bunk, her head in her hands, in despair. Quietly she started crying again.
She spent the night in her cell. In the morning the guard informed her that after breakfast she would be leaving. Not to court this time, to prison. Sue Ann ate, cleaned up, and waited. She was resigned to whatever happened now. Her life would be controlled by rules someone else set, enforced by guards she didn’t know.
An hour later two large uniformed officers came to her cell. The male officer was easily twice her size, maybe more, and looked very strong. The female office was also large for a woman, and had a mean look. Sue Ann felt small and weak just looking at them. The jail guard unlocked the cell door and motioned for Sue Ann to step out. The two prison guards grabbed her and spun her around, forcing her against the bars of the cell, hands above her head. The female guard searched her thoroughly, finishing with a wide leather belt fastened around her waist. Sue Ann could feel her lock it in back. Looking down, she saw a stout metal ring fixed solidly to the front of the belt, with handcuffs dangling from it. Next the woman turned her around and locked the handcuffs around her wrists. Finally the guard knelt down and took a set of leg irons from the male guard. Sue Ann saw they had a shortened chain, similar to the ones she had used that night in the desert. Her ankles were locked together. The female guard finished by double-locking all the cuffs so they wouldn’t tighten.
Except for the issue skirt and blouse she was bound in a nearly identical fashion to what she had tried that night in the desert. Other than the fact her hands were in front, the difference this time was she had no car with the keys waiting at the end of the road. She also had two escorts to make sure there were no escape attempts, though that first time she did wind up with someone else holding the keys. It was too bad she never got the chance to meet her mystery man again. One on each side of her, both arms held by them, the prison officers marched her along the cellblock aisle, down the elevator and out to the rear parking lot. More than once she would have fallen had they not been holding her. The pace was too fast for her to keep up, especially with her ankles hobbled by the short chain between them. It must have been deliberate on their part; they didn’t slow down when she did stumble.
Outside in the parking lot the assistant District Attorney who prosecuted her was waiting. Behind the lawyer were a nicely dressed woman and a man in an unfamiliar uniform. Both of them looked Hispanic. The prison guards halted in front of the attorney. “Hello Sue Ann. I wanted to give you one last chance.” She held up an official looking document. “The Procuradura General for Mexico City yesterday filed bank robbery charges against you and your unnamed accomplice. Since you have been convicted we didn’t need the formality of an extradition hearing. This is a signed order to send you to Mexico to stand trial. Señora Munoz,” she gestured to the Hispanic woman standing behind her, “is with the Prosecutor’s office in Mexico City. She is here to take you back with her.”
Sue Ann was speechless. She hadn’t expected anything like this. She knew eleven years in the State Prison was going to be bad, but nothing like a Mexican prison.
“Tell me the name of your partner. I want to know where he is and how to find the money. Tell me that and I’ll tear this up. By the way, in Mexico bank robbery carries a twenty-year sentence, or so Sra. Munoz tells me. You have no more time left, Sue Ann. Tell me what I need to know right now or I will turn you over to them. You will go to Mexico first, and then return here to serve your original sentence. Come on Sue Ann, tell me, it’s your only chance.”
Everyone was watching her. “I can’t! Don’t you get it? I don’t know who he is. I don’t know where the money is. I didn’t take it. Why are you doing this to me?” Sue Ann started crying again. It wasn’t fair. No one had told her this would happen. She would have pleaded not guilty and gone through the trial rather than be sent to Mexico. She had been tricked into taking the quick conviction.
“I’m sorry, Sue Ann. Sorry for you. I hope it’s worth it. Why do you protect him? You know he isn’t worth it. You will grow old in prison while he enjoys the good life. It’s your choice.” The attorney stepped aside and handed the extradition order to the Mexican woman.
Sra. Munoz glanced at the document, and then turned to her companion. “Por favor, Hector,” she said, gesturing towards Sue Ann. The Hispanic man stepped forward. His shoulder patch read Policía Distrito Federal, the Mexico City metropolitan police. The prison guards stepped aside as Hector took hold of Sue Ann’s arm. “Gracias. Thank you for your speedy assistance,” Señora Munoz said to the assistant District Attorney while shaking hands, then turned and started toward a car with Mexican license plates. “Vamanos, let’s go,” was all she said, her back to Sue Ann and the Mexican police officer.
Another set up, Sue Ann thought as the officer led her toward the car. No wonder they had agreed not to ask for a heavy sentence. They knew this was waiting for her. A good plan too, if she had known the name she would have told them everything when faced with extradition. The guard, Hector, opened the rear door and helped her sit down. He fastened the seat belt around her waist, and then finished by shackling her ankles to the floorboard. He locked the car door and closed it, then went to the other side. Looking down she could see the cuffs on her ankles, and a chain running under the front seat. He had used oversized handcuffs, her ankles were hobbled by only a few links of chain. She could stand but little else. She pulled on the floorboard chain. It must have been locked to something under the front seat as she had little room to move. Even if she could get the seat belt and car door open she couldn’t get out of the car. Looking out the rear window she could see the Mexican woman talking to the assistant D.A.; they shook hands and the woman headed towards the car.
The woman drove as the man Hector sat next to Sue Ann in the rear seat. She assumed they were heading toward the airport, and would then board the next plane to Mexico City. She had no illusions as to what would happen when they arrived. A fast trial, certain conviction, and she would be sent to some hellhole third world prison for the rest of her short and miserable life. Even if she lived through it, all that was waiting for her was another eleven years in a maximum-security prison when she was returned here.
The two Mexicans were talking in Spanish. Sue Ann noticed they didn’t seem to be heading for the airport. In fact they were on the highway out of town. Desert had already replaced houses and stores. Were they planning on driving all the way to the border? That would take twelve hours or more. “Aren’t you taking me to the airport?” she asked.
“Callate, shut up and be quiet!” the Mexican woman told her. Sue Ann didn’t pursue it further. She didn’t look forward to a long drive in the tight shackles she was wearing, but without a key there wasn’t much she could do about it. The man next to her wasn’t as large as the prison guard, but she was sure he was strong enough to easily overpower her, even if she wasn’t in restraints. No point in struggling or trying to fight. She’d probably wind up hog-tied and stuffed in the trunk if she gave them any trouble. Still, something didn’t seem right. They weren’t headed south toward the border.
She watched the scenery roll by while her captors continued to talk in Spanish. Sue Ann knew a handful of words in Spanish but they talked too fast for her to even make an attempt to follow. The woman had put on some music on the radio, but it was all Spanish language. Traffic thinned and dropped to only a few cars as they headed out into the desert. This wasn’t right at all. The direction they were going was empty barren desert for nearly a hundred miles, followed by a few small towns before they reached the state border. The wrong border, they would be even further away from Mexico.
The car slowed as the driver took an off ramp to an overpass, turning onto a dirt road. Something was very wrong now. What were they going to do? This made no sense at all. She hadn’t seen any signs on the highway or along the dirt road. There was nothing out here, no reason for them to come this way. It could only mean one thing; they weren’t going to take her to Mexico. They were going to torture her for information; the male officer would rape her, then murder her and bury the body in the desert. Tears were in her eyes, she was going to die and no one would ever know. Her hands clenched into fists as she pulled against the handcuffs. It was hopeless; there was no way she could possibly escape.
She watched the desert scenery as they drove along, thinking of all the things she should have done with her life, the mistakes she had made, the people she had known. Her captors were still talking in Spanish, occasionally laughing, and all the while callously ignoring her. She knew there was no point in pleading with them
It must have been an hour or more before the driver pulled into a turnoff surrounded by low hills. A nondescript white van was parked there already. They stopped and the woman, Munoz, got out. A man got out of the van to meet her. Sue Ann saw him hand her two envelopes. The woman opened each one, appeared to be checking something, and then turned around and waved her hand. Sue Ann didn’t recognize the van driver. This wasn’t what she had expected. What was going on?
The officer next to her, Hector, got out and went around to Sue Ann’s door. He opened it, released her legs from the shackles and helped her get out. Sue Ann took a moment to get her balance. She still wore the transport belt and handcuffs, severely limiting her movements. Hector took her arm and marched her toward the other two. She was stiff from sitting so long and walked slowly and clumsily toward the van, urged on by the guard’s hand on her arm. Slowly she realized she wasn’t going to be killed. Something very different had just happened. From what she could see, she had just been sold to someone.
“Here you are, Señor,” the woman Munoz said to the stranger. “There will be no problem with records in Mexico. I will arrange to have them lost. If anyone inquires your friend here will be listed as an escaped fugitive inside Mexico. There will be no notification of authorities here in El Norte unless there are official enquiries. I regret but there is no, umm, como se dice? A statute of limitations, that’s it. She will remain a fugitive until tried in court. Hector, para Usted.” She handed one of the envelopes to the officer next to Sue Ann. He handed a set of keys to the man from the van, and then both Mexicans went back to their car and drove off.
Sue Ann stood in the road facing the stranger. He looked her up and down but said nothing. It appeared he had bribed them to let her go, or at least deliver her to this spot. She looked around behind her. Inhospitable desert was all she saw, and the car dwindled in the distance. She looked back to him, and after a moment’s hesitation held out her bound wrists.
“I seem to be in some difficulty here, could you help?” She smiled at him. She had no idea why he had saved her but she was grateful. She hoped he would help her hide from the police. It would be nice to get out of these restraints and the prison uniform. Finally luck was turning her way.
He stood there, looking at her, the keys to her restraints in his hand. She looked at the keys, then back at him, smiling again. He didn’t move. She was puzzled. Why didn’t he free her? She was anxious, unsure as to what she should do. An uneasy feeling that this was no rescue made her nervous. He was an unknown quantity; he could be anything from knight in shining armor to psychopathic serial murderer.
He came forward, went around to her side. She stood still as he did something with the belt. She tried to look over her shoulder but couldn’t see what it was. A moment later the belt was loose, slipping off her waist. One hand holding the belt, he unlocked the handcuffs with the other. Rubbing her wrists she watched him go back to the van, open the door and threw the restraints inside. He turned back to look at her.
Now she was more uncertain than ever. He had freed her, so it was unlikely he was going to hurt her. It was quite a relief, since she had expected a brutal murder just a few minutes before. Still he had not spoken. She was more confused than scared now. What did he want? There was one way to find out.
“Thanks for taking those things off. And I want to thank you for saving me from going to Mexico.” She hoped that was accurate. “I don’t know who you are, or why you are helping me, but I want you to know I really appreciate it. You are the first one to show some faith in me since this whole episode began. Umm, what happens next?”
“You have two choices.” Finally he spoke. There was something about his voice that was familiar. “You can come with me, or go your own way. If you choose the latter, you are on your own. But if you come with me, understand you do so on my terms.” What did he mean by that, she wondered? There was something Sue Ann definitely recognized in his voice, but she couldn’t place it.
“If you choose to come with me, that means I own you. No conditions, no limits, no guarantees. You will belong to me and I will use you as I wish. You will have no freedom, no privacy, no possessions. My word will be absolute. I will control you, mind and body.”
Realization hit Sue Ann like a physical blow. It was him, from that night in the desert. Everything suddenly made sense to her. Her diary had been in her purse, in the trunk of the car. The same car with the keys on the front seat, she realized. The keys he had taken and later dangled in front of her. He had read that diary, and that meant he had all her bank codes. He had been the one who robbed the bank. He was responsible for her being arrested, her life destroyed.
“It was you! You did this to me. Why?” She could barely control her rage. Every swear word she knew came to mind, but for some reason she couldn’t explain she held back.
“Why? Because I want you, Sue Ann. Not the woman who sits in her office and dreams, I want the Sue Ann in the diary, the one who seeks a life at the feet of her master. That’s the only choice you have. Bring that dream to life, or turn your back on it forever. You have to decide now.”
He turned away from her and opened the door to the van. Her anger evaporated on hearing his answer. She looked around, at the barren desert all around her. The car with the Mexicans was out of sight, but she could see a dust cloud in the distance. At the sound of the van door closing she turned back to face him. “Are you going to just leave me here? What will I do, where will I go?” She had nothing, except the clothes on her back. Jail-issue clothes she suddenly remembered. The first person to see her would call the police.
He started the van’s engine and rolled down the window. “If you choose to go your own way, then what you do is no concern of mine.” The van started to move as he backed into the road.
Panicked, she looked around once more. She was stranded in the desert with nowhere to go and no one to turn to for help. Even if by some remote chance the police believed a wild tale of a mysterious stranger and let her go, she didn’t want to go back to her old life. She had been more alive that night, as his prisoner, than she had ever felt before.
“Wait! Please, stop. I’ll go with you.” She shouted at him, afraid he might not hear her and drive off. But the van stopped. She heard the motor shut off, and then he got out again. She was trembling, with fear she would be left behind, and with anticipation, knowing she had made a momentous decision that would affect her for a lifetime.
“Be very sure this is what you want, Sue Ann. If you come with me you can’t change your mind and walk away. This will be the last time you ever have the independence to decide on your own. Have no doubt as to what you are agreeing to; you will surrender your entire life to me, to do with as I please.”
“I understand. Please, take me with you.” She dropped her eyes, looking at the desert in front of her feet. She couldn’t look him in the eye.
“Look at me,” he ordered. She looked up, in his hand was the transport belt and cuffs he had taken off her a few minutes before. “Show me you mean it. Put these back on. Present yourself to me as you did that night.” He held the restraints out to her. She stepped forward and reached out to take them.
He pulled back. “No, I mean the same way you were that night in the desert, at the mine, the night you came to me.”
She stopped, confused. What did he mean? She thought back to that night, when she had started to walk back down the road, when he had appeared behind her. She had turned after hearing him rattle the keys…
Of course, she knew what he meant. She began to unbutton the blouse. He watched as she took off the jail uniform, dropping the clothes in the dirt. She hesitated a moment when all that was left were the jail issue slippers, then took those off as well. At that point he held out the leather belt and the handcuffs.
She knew what to do next. She placed the transport belt around her waist, with the ring and cuffs behind her. She pulled the belt tight so that it could not slip over her hips, locking it in place by pressing the locking button on the buckle. She turned so her back was to him, reached behind and placed the cuffs on her wrists, closing them far enough that she could not slip her wrists out. Then she turned back to him and lowered her eyes silently, submitting herself to him.
When she finished, he double-locked the cuffs before opening the side van door. He grabbed one arm and forced her inside. There were no rear seats; instead the back of the van was open, like cargo models, but carpeted. She lay on her side where he had thrown her, waiting. He got in next to her. He rolled her on her stomach, face to one side. He straddled her legs, facing away from her. Immediately he crossed her ankles and bound them with some kind of strap. She recognized the feel; it was one of those nylon cable ties police used as temporary handcuffs. They had to be cut off. He dropped her now securely bound ankles and knelt by her side. She couldn’t see what he was doing but felt another nylon tie go around her knees. He pulled it tight, binding her legs firmly together.
Still on her stomach, he straddled her again, but this time facing toward her head. He grabbed her hair and pulled her head back; she cried out in pain but said nothing. She wasn’t able; he had filled her mouth with some type of gag. She felt the straps tighten behind her head. Instinctively she tried to push out the gag with her tongue but it didn’t move. She had seen many types of gags on Internet sites but never had the nerve to try one. It was effective in silencing her, the best she could manage with the gag in place was an inarticulate murmur.
He wasn’t finished. Next came some kind of leather hood pulled over her head. There seemed to be vents so she could breathe through her nose, but her sight was blocked. She felt heavy leather straps sewn into the hood tighten around her head, under her chin. It didn’t cut off outside sounds completely but the hood did make it harder for her to hear. She had never been so deprived of her senses before. This was far more intense than the crude blindfold he had used that first night. She could not slip the hood off; she might not be able to remove it at all if the hood straps had locks. She had no way to reach the straps with her hands behind her back, nor could she reach the gag without removing the hood first. No doubt that was intentional planning on his part.
He got off her but left her on her stomach. He grabbed her legs and shifted her over several inches, toward the center of the van. He dropped her legs but moved her ankles a bit to the right. She felt another nylon tie wrap around her ankles, but when he tightened it her ankles were pulled down against a ring set in the floor of the van. A cargo anchor point, she realized. He yanked at her ankles to ensure her legs were secured.
That scared her. In her self-bondage session she had never tied or chained herself to something else. She always had the ability to crawl or wiggle. She had been afraid something would go wrong and she would be trapped for days in her own bonds. Now she was truly immobilized, secured to that spot in the van. He didn’t stop with her ankles though. Two more ties went round her arms to rings next to her shoulders. As he tightened them her arms were pulled out and down, pinning her to the floor. He slapped her once on her bare behind, laughed, and then climbed into the driver seat. She heard the engine start.
She tried to twist or somehow turn on her side. He had done a thorough job since she couldn’t move. There was just enough tension on her arms to make it painful if she tried to change her position. Her ankles were solidly tied down; she couldn’t move them at all. As long as she didn’t try to turn to either side the ties through her cuffed arms were bearable. The waist belt under her was uncomfortable but the buckle was flat and didn’t hurt. Sue Ann had never been bound so tightly. Strangely, she found it exciting more than frightening.
He backed out of the turnoff and drove down the dirt road. Sue Ann didn’t know which direction; she had lost track, being preoccupied with her new captor. She had no idea where he was taking her. She was fortunate that the road seemed to be in good shape. In her current position she felt every bump the van hit. But for the gag she would have asked him to let her up. Sue Ann tried to shout to get his attention but she doubted he even heard what little sound made it around the gag.
They drove for some time. He stopped once and came back to check on her. His hands running along her body made her moan; for that she was glad he had gagged her. She was embarrassed at how easily his touch aroused her. Satisfied she was all right he drove on. For Sue Ann her world was reduced to the darkness of her hood, the pressure of her bonds on her naked body, and the jolts from the road. Even when confined in her jail cell she had never felt so vulnerable, so powerless as she did now.
The trip could have been hours or all day, Sue Ann had no idea of the distance or direction they had traveled in the van. She was relieved to hear him cut the engine when he did stop. It meant they had arrived instead of another stop to check on her. She heard him open his door, and then the side door slid open as well. She turned her head to face it but could see nothing through the hood. He worked quietly, cutting only the ties that held her down on the floor of the van. He pulled her out of the van by her legs, and then picked her up in his arms and slung her over his shoulder, head down behind his back, his arm around her still firmly tied legs in front.
A very undignified position, Sue Ann thought to herself. She heard doors open and close as he took her someplace. Once or twice it sounded like he used a key, but she couldn’t be sure. She was getting dizzy from hanging head down over his shoulder. She couldn’t see anything and the hood deadened most sounds. She thought it might have extra padding around her ears for that purpose. Finally they stopped and he set her down on the floor. She couldn’t stand with her crossed ankles tied together. He lowered her to the floor onto her side. The concrete floor was cold to her bare skin.
He reached behind her head and unbuckled the hood. When he pulled it off she blinked at the light. A look around revealed a small room with a bare concrete floor and unpainted cinder block walls. The ceiling appeared to be concrete with a fluorescent light fixture built into it. There was a pillow or cushion on the floor in front of her. He picked her up under her arms and set her down on the cushion in a kneeling position. She watched as he took another nylon tie, slipped it under the ones holding her ankles, then around her right thigh. He pulled it tight, forcing her to remain in a kneeling position with her ankles tied to the back of her leg. Then he used another one around her left thigh. He stood in front of her.
Before him Sue Ann knelt at his feet. Her legs were tied together; she could neither stand nor spread her legs. Her hands remained locked in unyielding steel handcuffs behind her back, held close by the transport belt around her body. The gag kept her silent. She looked up at him, holding very still as he inspected her. She straightened her back when she realized she had been leaning forward. The cuffs pulled her arms back, making her bared breasts stick out. She was very conscious of her exposed sexuality under his unrestricted gaze. She looked into his eyes for a moment before she immediately dropped her head and looked at the floor in front of him. Sue Ann had seen raw, feral power there. She saw his desire for her, which somehow pleased her, but something else as well. Something which she could not name but stirred an answering emotion in her. She started to tremble but forced herself to stop.
He pulled up a chair and sat down, leaning over the back of the chair while staring at her. She didn’t move, trying to focus on one spot on the floor. Somehow she knew it was important that she do nothing to challenge him.
“Very good,” he told her. “Hold your position until I tell you otherwise. You will listen while I talk. From now on you will not speak unless I have given you permission. You will wear that gag as long as I wish, but when I take it off you will remain silent. If you understand, nod your head.” Sue Ann nodded in agreement but kept her eyes focused on the floor. “Good. You will have a great many more rules to learn, but we will get to that later. For now, remember rule one: I own you. You will obey me, without question, without hesitation.
“I risked my own liberty to bring you here, to rescue you from prison and worse. I was not pleased to learn you had been arrested; I had intended to claim you for myself. When I found out about the extradition I made some arrangements with associates in Mexico. It was expensive to buy you but less risky than breaking you out of a maximum security prison. But understand this: you are now a fugitive in two countries. If you are caught you will be sent to Mexico and then back here for your sentence. You will likely get a few more years for escaping. Any idea what a Mexican prison is like? It’s worse than you can imagine. For a gringa like you it would be a death sentence.
“No one will believe your story that a mysterious stranger in the desert set you up. Think of how it would sound, and what would you use for proof? No names. No locations, a poor description, no one would take you seriously.
“You have no one but me now. If it gets out you have escaped, every hand will be turned against you. Your picture will be on wanted posters in the Post Office. The police will be looking for you. Strangers on the street will turn you in if they recognize you from the picture on TV. You have no friends, no one you can turn to for help or support. There’s just me, and only because I own you.”
Sue Ann knelt before him, careful not to move but shaken inside from his words. He was right. She had nothing now. Her survival depended solely on this stranger. She didn’t even know his name, but she did know he spoke the truth. Not that she was a hunted fugitive, but that he owned her. She felt it. It had come from within her, the overwhelming desire to surrender herself to him, to be his in all respects, mind, body, and spirit.
He stood up, went behind her and untied the gag. She worked her jaw to relieve the pain after he removed it. She did not turn to look at him, nor did she make a sound. He returned to his chair, watching her closely.
He continued. “The night in the desert when we met I saw the inner you. At that moment I decided to seize you for myself. Your arrest disrupted my plans to acquire you.” He talked about her like she was some kind of object, a commodity to be bought or sold. “Fortunately I was able to adjust my plans and now you’re here. Forget about your past life. All your perceptions of right and wrong, of propriety, how you should behave, will change. Starting now, I will teach you what you need to know.
“Every aspect of your life is under my direct control. When in doubt as to what you should do, stop and ask. I make all decisions for you. Obey me and you will learn to enjoy your new life. Defy me and you will be punished. I will not tolerate the least sign of disobedience.
“You have no rights. You have no possessions. You are the possession now. Learn to think in those terms. Even your body is mine to do with as I choose.” He stood up and pushed the chair aside. Kneeling in front of her he put a hand under her chin, forcing her head back and upward till she was looking in his eyes. “I control your mind. I tell you what to think, to believe. You no longer have a free will; I own that too.” His eyes locked onto her. She couldn’t look away; the power of his words held her mind as surely as his bonds held her body.
He reached behind her to pick something up. She heard the rattle of a chain, and then the metal collar touched her throat when he closed it around her neck. His hands rested on her shoulders as he worked to fasten it shut at the back of her neck. She could see the chain running from under her chin down to the floor and then behind her. He grabbed the chain and jerked it, pulling her head forward. Satisfied the collar was in place, he cut the ties holding her legs together, then the ones around her ankles.
“Stand up. Don’t turn around, eyes front,” he ordered. He lifted her up off the floor. Her legs were stiff and sore from the prolonged bondage but she managed to keep her balance and stand with his help. The weight of the chain pulled on the collar. Standing at her side he unlocked the waist belt, followed by the handcuffs. She wanted to rub her wrists; they were sore from wearing the cuffs in a tightly restrained position for such a long time. But she was unsure of what he wanted, so she left her arms hanging loosely at her side.
He faced her again. “So far you’ve done well. If you continue to behave I’ll leave these off for now.” He held up the handcuffs and transport belt he had just taken off. “The collar you wear is attached to the back wall. It allows you to move about this room but not reach the door. You do not have permission to leave this room. You will eat here, sleep here, and work here. I will provide everything you need.
“I’m sure you want to ask many questions. I’m not going to answer any of them. I will tell you what you need to know, when you need to know it. You are to remain silent at all times. You will not speak when I am here, or after I leave you alone. Do you understand?” Sue Ann looked up at him, nodded, and lowered her eyes again. It was frustrating not being able to talk. She didn’t like the collar tethering her to the wall either but it was a definite improvement over what she had been wearing most of the day.
“Whenever I enter this room, or any time the door is open,” he gestured to the cushion she had been on, “your position will be to kneel, sitting back on your heels, back straight, facing the door, hands on your knees. You will remain in that position unless I tell you otherwise. Assume that position now.” Sue Ann immediately knelt on the cushion, facing the door, hands on her legs. The chain on her collar hung between her breasts and draped across her left thigh. He slowly walked around her, stopping behind her. She concentrated on holding still, trying her best to obey his command. Had she missed something? He was still behind her. She was worried, what would he do if she had forgotten some detail?
He finished his inspection and returned to face her. “You learn quickly, I like that. Now remember, you will assume this position whenever the door opens. When I leave, and only after the door closes, then you will remain in position while you slowly count to fifty. At that point you have permission to break position and move around the room. You may stand or sit but you are not allowed to sleep until I give you permission. Do you understand?”
Sue Ann nodded to show she understood her orders. He was particularly strict; she would need to pay close attention to what he said and memorize his instructions. He turned and walked out of the room. At the doorway he stopped to look at her once again. Instinctively she could feel his desire for her, how he enjoyed exercising such power in controlling her. He closed the heavy steel door. She heard him engage some type of locking bolt or bar on the outside of the door. Looking up she also saw there was no doorknob on the inside. She could make out the outlines of several narrow slots cut into the door, but all were covered. No sounds penetrated the door; she couldn’t tell if he was still outside or had left.
Her New Home
He had set a time limit for her to remain kneeling. She started to count while determining what she could see of the room without moving her head. Along the far wall she could see some hinged panels with keyholes. More ominously there were some metal rings welded to plates bolted into the wall. She reached the end of her count, but decided to wait for a while longer before standing up. She would have to be very cautious. There were no limits on what he could do to her. If she provoked his anger in any way, even by accident, it could be dangerous. Aside from fear she also felt driven to obey him. She wanted to please him, to show him she would comply with whatever he ordered. Just now, kneeling in front of him, she had actually been proud that he had not corrected her position. She didn’t understand why he affected her so.
She decided to explore the room. One eye on the door she slowly stood up. He could open that door at any moment. She had to be ready to resume her kneeling position with no warning. First, she had to determine where the boundaries of her collar ended. The chain terminated on the back wall in the center, the final link welded to a heavy metal plate bolted to the wall. She backed up, stretching out the chain to its full length. Holding out one arm she could almost reach the far wall with the chain pulled taut. She could not reach the door in one corner or those panels along the other corner. She could reach an open area to the right, including a metal pole running from the floor to the ceiling, and the toilet and sink to the left. She was grateful for that much consideration on his part; she made use of the facilities. She did pause for a moment. He had not given permission to use the toilet and she wasn’t allowed to speak so she didn’t have an opportunity to ask first. But she reasoned that the alternative would be unpleasant not only to her but to him as well, when he returned.
If he returned, she had that to worry about too. She put her hands on the collar. It was about an inch wide, like a rounded metal band curved to fit her neck. There was a welded ring in front where the chain was attached. She could feel some type of hinge or lock in the back but there appeared to be no way for her to open it. It had to be locked in some way or there wouldn’t be any reason to force her to wear it. She took the chain in both hands and pulled with all her strength. The wall plate held her easily. This was simpler than cell bars and more effective. She couldn’t even get to the door, though she was sure it would be locked if she did reach it. She went to the back wall and sat down, close to the cushion, facing the door. That would save time when he came back.
She sat with her back against the wall, knees under her chin, and arms around her legs. She looked at the sink, debating if she should drink some water. She was thirsty but hesitated. He had not given permission. She looked around for hidden cameras. None were visible, but she was sure he was watching her. She had seen a few of the tiny cameras used at the bank in concealed locations. Knowing her position was precarious she decided to wait as long as she could before taking a drink from the sink faucet.
There was no bed for her to lie on. The concrete floor was none too comfortable; she wasn’t going to fall asleep on it. At least that order would be easy to obey. She smiled. He had gotten to her already. Here she was thinking about obedience, not planning an escape. Escape to where? I have no place to go, she reminded herself. If by some miracle she could get out of this place, make it to a road or house, what would happen next? Police show up, recognize her, and then put on the next plane to Mexico. She couldn’t hide out. She had no money, no friends, no safe house, none of those fugitive survival skills like in the movies or TV; she didn’t even have any clothes. She played with a bit of the chain dangling from the collar. She seriously doubted she would have an opportunity to run away.
Down the hall from Sue Ann’s room Jim Peters watched her on the monitor. Jim Peters wasn’t his real name. He had used so many aliases he had a hard time remembering what name he was born with. Jim made his living stealing from other people. Not individuals, but groups large enough to absorb the loss. He had some principles. He had done very well by Sue Ann, clearing about $400,000 after expenses from the wire transfer thefts. And he got her as a bonus. The bribes had been expensive, but it looked like she would be worth it. Her diary had been the key. She had diligently noted all the access codes he needed.
Her private musings had been fascinating too, like a window into her mind. He would never have thought from looking at her what lay beneath her façade. She was deeply submissive, desperately seeking dominance though she didn’t know it. His plan had fallen into place quickly. He would take the money, frame her, and then hide her out while the police looked for her. He hadn’t known about that security audit, but in the end it all worked out. He had been caught off guard when they arrested her so quickly, but after he had found the extradition order in the DA’s computer all it took was some of his ill-gotten gains to arrange the bribes. He hadn’t had to find some way to break her out of jail or prison; instead she would be delivered into his hands. An elegant solution, he liked that.
This way she had her old life ripped away. She would be in desperate need of something to replace it. He would be there to provide that something. It would be easier to train her without distractions. He glanced back at the monitor again. Sue Ann had finally stood up and was testing the collar. He looked up at the clock on the wall. She had remained in position for nearly ten minutes after he left. That was an excellent sign, no latent defiance. He checked to make sure the microphone was active too. Anything she said would be recorded, in case he wasn’t watching.
He checked the clock again, almost time for his customary evening stroll. Maybe he’d head back to the mine site one more time. Watching her on the screen, he thought back to when he had found her. He still couldn’t believe the way she had delivered herself to him that night. Sue Ann had no idea he lived on the other side of the ridge from the mine. While extending his dwelling into the mine shafts on his side of the mountains he had found the gallery leading to the mine site she had been visiting. He often crossed under the ridge and came out the mine entrance to walk through the desert. He had been surprised to see her ride off on her bicycle just as he had come out of the mine. Curious, he had walked over to her car. When he saw the keys lying on the seat he knew something was very odd.
At first Jim thought it might be someone looking for him. He was careful to hide his tracks when he funded his ventures with other people’s money, but someone might have gotten lucky. He searched the car and found her purse in the trunk, and a small book inside. When he opened the book and discovered it was a diary he went to the end and read the entries working backward. He had to laugh when he read the details of her plan that night. Knowing she wouldn’t be back for several hours he had read through most of her diary while sitting in her car.
After he put everything back he had waited in her car debating what to do. He could go back home, or hang around and watch her return. A third possibility had started forming. She worked at a bank. She had put all her codes in her book. This was the type of work he enjoyed. It would be simple to just take her when she arrived later that night, but she would be a reluctant participant. Better if she had some additional motivation, and he could make a tidy profit in the process.
He had put her keys in his pocket and sat down a short distance from the car, out of sight. The wait was longer than he expected. She must have misjudged her abilities. He had been ready to go look for her when he heard the quiet rattle from her ankle chain dragging on the ground. Turning on the little pocket starlight night vision scope he always carried during his evening walks, he saw her image slowly crossing the road at the entrance, heading toward her car. He had been careful to keep the viewer against his eye so she wouldn’t see the telltale green glow.
She had reached the car and was opening the door. Jim switched off the viewer as the interior dome light came on. He had to stifle a laugh when she realized the keys were gone. He watched her close the car door, wander around confused, and then clumsily sit down in the car. He knew when she had calmed down she would head back for her backup keys. He was tempted to sneak ahead of her and take them too, but it was getting late. Better to begin the game now.
When she got back out of the car he stood up and headed for her. When Jim got close he held up her keys and shook them. She stopped, and then started to turn. “Would you be looking for these keys?” he asked innocently as he turned on his flashlight. The look on her face had been priceless, one he would fondly remember for years to come.
He looked at the monitor again. She was washing her hands. She started to take a drink but stopped. Better than he had hoped, she was extending his commands to further limit her actions. She was both intelligent and perceptive. He decided to take a short walk and then feed her. He had to plan out this phase of her education carefully. For the moment she was cooperating but he expected that might change once she fully understood his intentions.
Idle curiosity took him back to the mine site for his evening walk. As usual it was deserted. There were no signs anyone had been there since her visit. Jim knew that back in her room Sue Ann would be hungry and thirsty by now, tired and sore, and starting to get bored. He sat on a handy flat rock and looked out over the desert. This was one of his favorite places. He often came here to reflect and plan. She would start thinking about what had happened, what the future would hold for her, and she might even become sullen and resent his seizing her. For this part of her training he intended to deprive her of even the most basic freedom and dignity, slowly giving them back, but in such a way that she became dependent on him. That would bring her submissive instincts to the fore, leaving her little time or incentive to battle him. She would associate asking permission with each activity. It would become a habit, a mindset that linked each little creature comfort to a privilege she must earn. A privilege he could withdraw on a whim. That would reinforce her need for external reassurance, by knowing through praise and rewards that she was pleasing to him.
He shifted on his improvised seat overlooking the valley below. The sun was setting at the far end. He watched the shadows slowly advance along the valley floor, heading toward him. Was it morally right for him to take her this way? No, but he wanted her, and when he looked at her all he could think of was owning her, whatever the consequences. He would have to live with the knowledge of what he had done. Would she hate and despise him for taking her life away? It was a very real possibility, but he would see to it she had the life she really wanted. She might still turn against him, and if so he would deal with it then, but for now he would risk everything he had to keep her.
Jim returned to his side of the ridge. He had purchased the old mine in an uninhabited valley, building up the galleries and shafts to be used as his real home, behind the false front of a tiny, rundown house at the mine entrance. He had installed extra bracing, concrete floors and walls, ventilation, plumbing and electricity. Fortunately the previous mine operator had brought in power and water, that was the deciding factor when he went shopping for his hideaway home. Unused shafts he closed off for later use. Some leading to the surface he sealed off to prevent a casual hiker from discovering his hideaway. Sue Ann was in a room created from one of the original mining galleries. He thought of it as his remedial training room, one devoid of comforts or distractions.
He checked the monitors first. She was sitting against the wall. The water gauge showed no additional usage. Jim ran the video back and then fast forward to see what she had been doing. The recording showed her standing a few times but nothing more. No sound, she had been sitting quietly. No rules broken so far, he was pleased at that. He went into the kitchen and fixed her some food for supper. While preparing a plate for her he watched her on a laptop. No signs of panic either, which meant she was adjusting to the situation.
He wheeled the dinner cart past the door and left it in the corridor out of her sight. He worked the locking rod he had built across the door. He had deliberately made it noisy so she would have some warning before he opened the door. Sue Ann was settling into position on the cushion when he walked in. Jim knew she must be very tired by now, but still she had followed his instructions to the letter. He walked around behind her and waited for a few moments. There was nothing to criticize in her posture; he delayed solely to increase her anxiety.
“Hands behind your back,” he ordered. She complied immediately. She even had her palms facing outward, a nice touch. He locked the handcuffs around her wrists, turning each hand to face inward as he fastened her wrists together. Jim wasn’t concerned with her picking the lock. She must have learned that position from her stay in the county jail. For what he had planned next it was important that she not be able to use her hands, but this way the cuffs would not cut into the tender skin on the inside of her wrists. From the hallway he brought in his chair and set it in front of her, then wheeled in the cart so he could reach it. “You have permission to eat your supper. However, you are not allowed to use your hands. I will feed you.” He put a straw in a glass of water and held it out for her to drink. She looked up at him first, and then sipped greedily when he nodded approval. He cut up bits of the meat loaf and spoon-fed it to her, followed by some mashed potatoes. The meat was bland and the potatoes unseasoned, but she ate everything he gave her. He let her drink the whole glass of water, afterwards wiping her face with a napkin. While he had fed her she looked up at him, but once finished she dropped her gaze to the floor again. He sat in the chair, saying nothing, enjoying the moment. It felt good to have her quite literally eating out of his hand.
He put the empty dishes on the cart and took out a pad and blankets from the bottom. He put them in the right hand corner of the room where she could reach. For a moment he was tempted to leave her kneeling and in handcuffs for a few hours, but tonight was not the time. He removed the cuffs and gestured to the bedding. “You will make a bed for the night. Do so now.” Jim watched as she took the pad, laid it out against the wall, and arranged the blankets over it. When she finished she looked at him, unsure what she was to do next. When he gestured toward the cushion in front of him she returned to her kneeling position, facing him. He made a show of inspecting her work, though he didn’t really care how she had made up her bed. He wanted her to see that he paid close attention to what she did.
He pushed the cart out into the hallway and started to close the door. Half way through he stopped. “You have permission to sleep in the bed tonight. When you wake up in the morning you will fold the blankets neatly, roll up the pad, and place them in the sleeping corner. Do not linger.” He closed and locked the door. He rushed back to the monitors to see what she would do.
She was still in position. Jim had been concerned she would be too tired to remember. She didn’t wait as long this time before crawling over to the bed and getting under the thin blanket. He adjusted the room temperature down slightly and dimmed the lights; she would sleep easier if it were cool and dark. He could make the room freezing cold, stifling hot, or anything in between. He could close the air vents and shut off air circulation to give it that “stuffy” feeling from low oxygen content. He could dim the lights to total darkness or increase the brightness to a painful glare. He could even modify the humidity, from swampy tropical wet to desert arid dry.
Tonight he would let her sleep. Tomorrow he would begin the compression, using the room controls to confuse her perception of time. She would naturally align to light and dark periods, to think of them as days. What she didn’t know was he intended to gradually shorten the length of each of her ‘days’, slowly cutting back the hours between light and dark. Without the means to keep time she would lose track of the exact date. It was essential that he keep her off-balance, confused, and unsure. Sue Ann would naturally turn to him as the constant in her new life; she would grow more dependent on him each day. He could see her responding already.
Sue Ann would be a full time project for the present. He had to closely manage her in order to instill the association of asking or waiting for permission prior to each activity. With repetition it would become a habit but for now he had to provide the reinforcement, linking her self-esteem and pride to her ability to serve and obey him.
Jim knew it was important to instill in her the concept that there was a fixed structure to her life now, rules she must follow and duties she must perform. She must have the perception that he was strict and paid close attention to detail, that she would not get away with being careless or lazy. That way she would value her obedience, by knowing that he noticed her every act and was alert to any unacceptable deviations. Since she would concentrate on pleasing and serving him, he had to provide a way for her to accomplish that, and she had to know her service was important to him.
The First Day
The next morning found him watching her on the monitor again. She was still asleep, or carefully faking it, he thought. He moved the temperature back up and brought up the lights to normal. He decided to watch her for a while, and then bring in some breakfast.
Sue Ann was awake but did not open her eyes. She was positive he had a camera on her, hidden somewhere. She felt the temperature start to rise; she thought it must be morning. She wanted to stay in bed but remembered his orders. She stood up, did a few stretching exercises, then finished by folding up the bedding as he had commanded. She stood near the cushion, anticipating he would come in soon.
She couldn’t decide on how she felt. There was relief at being rescued from prison, but some trepidation as to what would happen to her now. Sue Ann understood her situation all too well. She could be her unnamed captor’s property, or she could waste away in a Mexican prison. Before the extradition she had the hope, however slim, that the system would come through and clear her name. She had a fundamental belief that the legal system was honest. But not in Mexico, all she knew about that system were the stories of horrendous prison conditions and widespread corruption. In fact she had seen the corruption first hand, when he had bought her.
The metal collar was heavy on her neck. It served as a constant reminder that for the moment any planning on her part was moot. Her self-styled owner seemed to be very thorough. Unless he decided to release her she would be staying in this room. She had little choice but to obey him too. All he had to do was ignore her, then hunger would force her to behave to his liking. The real complication was that she knew it wasn’t just fear that drove her to obey this man. Something else deep within her had awakened, a desire to please him, to serve him, to make him want her, to see her as valuable. When he was in the room, touching her, talking to her, she couldn’t think straight. Her own desire overwhelmed her ability to think clearly.
The bolt on the door rattled when he unlocked her cell. Quickly she knelt, checking her position to make sure she had it right. She lowered her eyes to focus on a point on the floor in front of her knees as the door opened. She smelled food out in the hall as he entered. Once again he stood quietly in front of her. Sue Ann had to concentrate on not fidgeting, holding still under his inspection. It made her anxious when he stood close by. “Hands behind your back” she heard, and immediately placed her hands behind her back, wrists slightly apart, palms facing inward. She remembered how he had turned her hands the previous night and thought it best to change to what he seemed to want. As he had done last night when she was fed, he once again locked handcuffs around her wrists.
He brought in the chair and sat in front of her. This morning it was oatmeal, warm but bland. She ate each spoonful as he fed her. No salt or butter in it, she thought. Even so she ate it all again; she had no idea when or if she would get another meal. She knew what he was doing, making her be dependent on him for food. It was working too. She had to rely on him for everything. She recognized it as a form of psychological manipulation, but still she could not help responding to it. Her life was in his hands, to do with as he wished. The collar and chain weren’t necessary to keep her in this room; she literally had nowhere else to go, no one else to turn to for help.
She had no illusions about being a fugitive. She wouldn’t last more than a day or two before being caught. Whatever this man wanted she would do her best to give him. Her master, she corrected herself. A thrill went through her at letting out what she had been trying to suppress. She was owned now, mind and body, by someone she didn’t know, someone to whom she had never even spoken a single word. She glanced up at him as he fed her, a momentary eye contact she did not prolong. She had no idea how he would react, if he would see it as some kind of challenge or defiance. Sue Ann could not afford to take a chance that he might misinterpret anything she did.
What she did see in that fleeting contact delighted her. She knew what it meant when a man looked at her that way; he wanted her. She must be doing something right; overall he had actually treated her quite well. While he had chained her to a wall, taken away her clothing, and didn’t even allow her to speak, he hadn’t beaten or raped her, and he was feeding her, though she would have preferred to do it herself.
He finished with her breakfast, wiped her face with a napkin, and then put the bowl and spoon out in the hall. She couldn’t see where he put them but it had to be close to the door, perhaps a table or the cart he had used before. Because he had covered her eyes when he brought her here she had no idea what was outside the door to her room. She assumed it had to be isolated since there were no street sounds, cars, trucks, planes, and no sounds of people talking either. Most likely it was the basement of a house, away from the city.
He came back in and stood behind her again. If he followed his routine from last night, he would release her hands and then leave her alone for some period of time. She waited, careful not to move or look around, hoping to feel the touch of his hands on her arms as he unlocked the cuffs. She heard him crouch down close behind her. He put his hands on her shoulders, and then slowly ran them down her arms, stopping at the steel bracelets enclosing her wrists. He held her wrists in his hands, but did not free them. Instead he let go and stood up, leaving her hands bound behind her back.
He sat down in the chair, in front of her. “Look at me.” She looked up at him, expectantly. “Today I will talk and you will listen. I’m sure you have questions. You will be allowed to ask them at another time, but not right now. So pay attention and don’t bother trying to remember what you want to ask. What is important right now is that you learn what I want.
“First, I’m not going to allow you to talk, so any questions you have will be irrelevant. Your task is to listen and understand what I explain to you. The better you follow my instructions, learn what I am going to teach you, the better your life will be. Fail and you will be encouraged to do better, but I don’t recommend you look for that kind of incentive.” He smiled at that. Sue Ann knew what he meant; he could make life much worse for her. Looking at him though, she didn’t want to disappoint him. She wanted to do everything he told her, perfectly, and get it right the first time.
“You did well last night and this morning. I am pleased that you have followed all my orders so well. Remember your standing orders as to how you must behave while in this room.” She caught the meaning in that last sentence. It implied she would not always be kept here, hopefully a sign she would be given something better. But there was also an implied threat she could return to this room. Still, hearing that he approved of what she had done so far somehow made her feel warm inside.
“Now, I’m sure you would like to know why you are here. In very simple terms, you are here because I want you, so I decided to seize you. Your police troubles did complicate matters but it worked out for the best. No legal niceties to worry about. I want you Sue Ann, more than anything else in this world. When I first saw you, after reading your diary, I knew I had to have you, whatever the risk or the cost.
“I know you’re here because of what I did. I’m the one who put you in jail, and I’m the one who kidnapped you on your way to prison. So one last time I’m going to give you a choice, right now. You can stay here, entirely on my terms, and consider carefully what that means. Or I will let you go, give you some money, clothes, a bus ticket to any town in the country, but you will have to take your chances with the police. If you get caught, I can’t get you out again. And you won’t be able to lead them to me; I’ve made sure you have no credible evidence that I even exist.
“This will be the only time I let you decide, so think carefully. If you stay here, you do so as my property, and all that it implies. You will have as much or as little freedom as I grant you, but don’t count on very much. Your time will not be your own. You will have no privacy. Your life here will be closely regulated, intensely controlled by me. You will be subject to punishment, severe punishment, if you fail me for any reason, and I will be the sole judge, with no appeal. I will take care of you, but in return you will give yourself to me, without limits or reservations. If you choose to remain with me, you will have no recourse. Do you understand what I’m asking from you?” He leaned close to her, holding her face in his hands, staring deep into her eyes.
She did understand, now more than at any time in her life. She knew what she desired. There was no real choice, but that didn’t matter. Even if she wasn’t wanted by the police she would choose to be his. It was right, for her. If she had to argue the finer points, she couldn’t justify it, she didn’t even know this man’s name or anything about him, but she trusted her instincts, this was the man who would master her. She nodded, in answer to his question. She wanted to scream out her answer, beg him to take her, but she couldn’t, not until he gave permission.
“Think carefully, Sue Ann. This decision will shape your destiny. The course for the rest of your life will be set by what you choose to do now. And remember, if you choose to stay, it will be the last decision you make on your own. For this one question I allow you to speak; tell me yes if you stay, if you give yourself to me, if you submit willingly and completely, with no limits or conditions. Or tell me no and I will let you go. But if you say yes, I will never let you go, and I will never let you make a choice like this again. Do you want to stay?” He held her face close to his, his eyes stared deep into her own, as if they were peering into her soul.
His eyes were so compelling, she could not look away. “Yes” she whispered, the first word spoken to her new master was ironically her last as a free individual. He leaned back in his chair, letting go of her face. She had done it, given herself to him, to her new master, her owner. Sue Ann felt as if a great weight had been lifted from her shoulders. No more worries about her fate; her only concern from this moment on would be to serve the man facing her.
“That’s settled then. You do not have my consent to leave, which should be obvious to you, but I’ll make it clear as to what you are permitted. For now you will remain in this room.” He reached out and took hold of the chain attached to the collar around her neck. “I’m sure you would stay here if I removed this, but I prefer to make it easy for you to obey.” He jerked the chain down, pulling her head after it. “This way you aren’t tempted. More important, I like how it looks on you.”
He leaned back in his chair, watching her, his arms folded, a smile on his face. Sue Ann knelt in front of him, wearing nothing more than a metal collar locked around her neck, chained to the wall, her hands securely bound in steel handcuffs behind her back. She waited, conscious of his eyes on her, but she did not move. Though he had said nothing she knew this was some sort of test. She wasn’t sure what he expected next. She thought about his words when he had told her to wait, ask permission if in doubt. That was it, she realized, he wants to see if I can be patient. In that case she would kneel all day long without moving if it was what he wanted.
It had only been a few minutes but to Sue Ann it seemed like hours, kneeling on the cushion, concentrating on her position, trying her best not to move a muscle, while he just sat in the chair watching her. Her nose began to itch. She tried to ignore it but that only made it worse. She badly needed to scratch the side of her nose, but it was impossible. She was under orders to remain in position, and in any case her hands were locked behind her back. She looked up at him, trying to beg with her eyes and the expression on her face. Maybe he understood it, because he did lean forward.
“Something the matter?” he asked. She nodded, hoping he would let her explain. “Hmm, can you tell me without speaking?” Darn, he wasn’t going to let her talk. She thought furiously, how to show him? No words, no hands, her means of communication were limited. Then she smiled and nodded, looking up to him for permission to continue. “Alright, show me,” he said. She leaned forward and rubbed the side of her nose against his knee. Instant relief, and he laughed loudly while putting his hand in her hair. “Your nose itches, eh? I’ll have to remember that.”
He stood up, went behind her and removed the handcuffs. Immediately she placed her hands on her knees, recalling how he had explained her position last night. “Excellent,” he told her, “you remembered. That’s all for now. Remember to keep to my rule on how you behave after I leave, then you may stand and move around the room.” He took the chair out into the hallway before he closed the door. She heard the heavy bolt close on the outside. Mindful that he might be watching, she slowly counted down while continuing to kneel on the cushion. The count complete, she waited a while longer for good measure before standing up. She cleaned up at the sink, stretched and did a few exercises, then sat down to think and wait, her back against the wall.
She had so much to sort out in her mind. Her feelings toward him, a tinge of fear at her unknown future, concern over what he might demand of her. She was grateful he had given her some time alone. Rested from a night’s sleep she could think over what had happened the prior day, the resignation at being sentenced to prison, the sudden shock of her extradition to Mexico, and then her rescue by her new owner. If it could be called a rescue, she thought. It could just as easily be called a kidnapping. Her current circumstances were little better than what awaited her in prison.
Except…except the way he looked at her, and how it made her feel. How did he take away her ability to think with just a word or a touch? What drove her to obey him? What was it that made her sit calmly while confined and chained to the wall?
Sue Ann was sure it had been several hours before she heard the door bolt again. She knelt in position, anticipating he would open the door. He came in and set a box on the floor in front of her. From the label it appeared to be a jigsaw puzzle. “After I leave, you will assemble this puzzle on the floor. Do it as quickly as possible. You have a time limit.” He left, closing the door behind. She started to reach for the box, then stopped. She had almost forgotten to wait after he left the room. She did her countdown again, closely studying the picture on the box as she knelt in position. She looked at the box in front of her, a typical puzzle of the kind she often saw at the department store. Why did he want her to do this?
Sue Ann kept to the minimum time in holding her position, then opened the box and dumped the pieces on the floor in front of her. She didn’t know how much time he would give her, so she would have to work as fast as possible. First she sorted out the border pieces, assembled them into an outline, and then sorted the remaining pieces by general color. Fortunately she had put together puzzles like this a few times before, though they had not really caught her interest. She worked as quickly as possible, matching color then shape. In a way she was grateful for something to do, but the time limit made her anxious to complete it as rapidly as possible.
As Sue Ann completed sections of the puzzle it became easier to look for the pieces by the color scheme. She started to really worry about the time. While solving the puzzle she listened for the door, hoping it would not open before she was done. She put the pieces in as fast as she could match them. By her estimate it took at least three hours, but she made it, putting in the last piece and still he had not come back. She breathed a sigh of relief; she had finished her assignment in time.
She sat back on the cushion, checking over the puzzle. All the pieces were in place. She looked around the room, positive he was somehow watching her, but no matter how closely she examined the walls and ceiling the cameras were hidden too well for her to find them. She stood up and moved around to get the stiffness out of her legs.
It was about half an hour later she heard the door. Immediately she knelt in position, the completed puzzle in front of her. He came in, first walking around her. He stopped in front, crouched down to inspect the puzzle. “Excellent, you completed the puzzle on time. I want you to remember, always do precisely what I tell you. Don’t try to anticipate, wait for my command first. By that I mean do not act in advance on what you think I will ask. Up to now you have done very well. If you continue to obey me and do precisely as I say your conditions will improve. Now, put the pieces of the puzzle back in the box.”
She broke up the completed puzzle, putting the pieces back in the box. He took the box out of her hands when she had finished. He carried the box out into the hall and returned with his chair. Sitting in front of her he began to speak softly. “Sue Ann, I’m sure you are concerned about your future with me. I may seem to be harsh, keeping you like this, but I have reasons for what I am doing. You will have to trust me when I tell you everything is for your benefit, though it may not be obvious to you now. I imagine you are quite frustrated because I won’t allow you to speak?” She nodded. “I thought so. Nevertheless you will remain silent for now. I’m not going to explain the reason why. It is enough that I want it and I tell you to do it.
“As long as you are with me you will be safe. I won’t let you go hungry. I will provide for you, and keep you hidden from the police. Except for your duty to me, you now have no other responsibilities, no other worries. But never forget…I own you, I run your life, I control everything you do. Do not ever think of defying or disobeying me. Everything you have from this moment on I give to you, and I can take it all away.”
“Stand up,” he ordered. Sue Ann rose to her feet, standing in front of him, arms at her side, head down. “Face the wall.” She turned toward the rear wall, the chain attached to her collar making a faint rattle. “Hands behind your back.” She complied, wrists slightly apart. He crossed her wrists, wrapping a wide nylon tie around them twice before cinching it tight. “Lie down on the cushion,” he told her quietly. Unsure as to what he was doing, she turned toward her cushion on the floor and knelt down next to it. He helped her to straighten out, lying with her head and stomach on the cushion, her legs on the bare floor. He crossed her ankles, then bound them with a nylon cable tie as well, pulling it tight so there was no play. Another longer tie went around and above her knees. Now both her legs and wrists were secured.
“Lie still, don’t try to struggle, you will only hurt yourself.” She felt him do something at her ankles, she couldn’t tell just what it was, and then he bent her legs back, lifting her feet up. She felt his hands on her wrists, again she couldn’t tell what he was doing. Then her ankles and wrists were being pulled together as she heard the ratcheting sound of another nylon tie being closed. As he slowly tightened the hogtie, her body was pulled back, arms raising as her hands got closer to her feet. He stopped before the tension became painful. As long as she kept her knees bent her arms didn’t hurt. He trimmed the excess from the ties and took them out into the hall. He came back, laid her on her side, still on the cushion, and turned her to face the rear wall. He took up the slack in her collar chain, then padlocked it, effectively shortening the chain to where she had to stay within a foot of the wall. After checking her bonds one last time, he sat down in his chair and opened a magazine.
Sue Ann had never felt so helpless in her life. She tried to straighten out her legs; the tension pulling on her arms was too much, she had to stop. She couldn’t even try to sit up; her collar was too close to the wall. She could see him sitting by the door, reading and apparently ignoring her. She tried to separate her wrists, pull them apart enough to slip out of the loops of the nylon tie. She wasn’t strong enough, and the ties were too tight on her wrists and legs.
Lying on her side, arms and legs behind her, she looked up at him from the corner of her eye as she faced the wall. Why had he tied her up this way? And then to sit in that chair reading a magazine, ignoring her? For some reason it didn’t bother her. He was making one point clear; he could do whatever he wanted to or with her. In fact she was beginning to enjoy it, her bound nude body at his feet, at his mercy. She felt herself becoming aroused at the thought. If only he would touch her, use her. She wanted to beg, to plead for his attention. She started struggling in her bondage, arching her back in an attempt to reach her ankles with her hands, just to see if it was possible.
That got his attention. He put the magazine down and stood up. She stopped, afraid she had angered him. He grabbed her ankles and forced her onto her stomach, then pulled on the nylon tie linking her wrists and ankles. Her wrists and ankles were inexorably drawn together as the loop of the cable tie between them shrunk in size. When he stopped she could touch her heels, but it felt like her arms were being ripped out. She closed her eyes, breathing heavily to try to block the pain. “I told you not to struggle, didn’t I?” The tone of his voice sounded like he was annoyed, but all Sue Ann could think of was the pain in her shoulders and back, the ties cutting into her wrists and ankles. It was impossible to struggle now. He held her up by the ankles, so she couldn’t roll on her side.
It seemed like hours but after only a few minutes he cut the tie between her hands and feet. She was still bound hand and foot but the relief from the strain of being hogtied felt wonderful. He left her on her stomach as he sat back down and continued to read. She lay quietly on the floor at his feet, facing him. Unable to move she studied him as he sat in the chair. By all appearances he was ignoring her, but she knew better. Every so often she would catch him glancing at her. He might be reading but he wasn’t paying any attention to his magazine. He was reading her, watching how she reacted. Sue Ann closed her eyes, imagining he was holding her tight instead of her bonds. She imagined she could feel his hands on her…
Her eyes flew open. She really could feel him touching her. He was crouching down at her side, a hand on her hip, slowly moving down her leg, ending in a lingering caress at the back of her knee. She had to take a deep breath to control herself and stifle a moan of pleasure. She felt as if her universe narrowed down to the spot where his fingers rested on the back of her knee. Somehow being so vulnerable intensified her sensitivity, forced her to focus on minute detail.
He reached over her head and released the padlock holding her close to the wall. She felt him cut the straps around her ankles, her knees, and finally her wrists. He gathered the severed ties and placed them to one side. Sue Ann lay as he had left her on the floor, waiting to see what he would do next.
He took the chair and his ties into the corridor and returned with a box in one hand. She could see the label, another jigsaw puzzle. He set it down on the floor in front of her. “Assemble this puzzle. Work quickly, you have a time limit.” He left the room, closing the door behind him. She heard the bolt lock. She rose to her hands and knees and began to reach for the box. Then once again she remembered, he had left the room. She knelt on the cushion in the proper position, facing the door, and began her countdown.
Why had he stopped? And why the puzzles? She had no answer for either question, but she knew he must have a reason for it. Her wait complete, she opened the box and began another jigsaw puzzle. Like the last one it wasn’t too complex. She used the same strategy as before, sorting by color, assembling the border, and finally filling in by shape. Her legs and shoulders ached from the unfamiliar strain imposed by his hogtie but she worked as fast as she could.
She was sure it took about two hours to finish, though she had no clock to measure time. She did finish before he came back, so as a reward she stood and did a few stretching exercises. There were marks on her wrists and ankles from the ties he had used, but they were fading. She washed her face in the sink then sat down to wait for his arrival. Why did he make her do these puzzles? What lesson was she supposed to learn from them? It made no sense at all.
As it turned out she had plenty of time to do the puzzle. He opened the door long after she had completed it, giving her quite a bit more time compared to the first puzzle. If his intent was to keep her from getting bored he would have to come up with more challenging games. She knelt in position when she heard the door open. He came in, first inspecting the puzzle, then walking around behind her. “Hands behind your back,” he ordered. She complied, holding still as he placed the handcuffs on her wrists. Must be dinnertime, she thought.
It was. After he put his chair in front of her he brought in a plate of spaghetti and began to feed her. The sauce was bland but she ate eagerly, only realizing how hungry she was as she smelled the aroma of food. He filled a plastic cup from the sink tap and gave her some tepid water along with her meal. He fed her in silence. After she finished he took out the plate and cup, and then returned to sit facing her.
At first he merely sat there, enjoying his ownership of her, seeing her nude body, hands bound behind her, chained by the neck to the wall, kneeling obediently before him. A living picture he would cherish again and again. He indulged himself for a few minutes more, then removed the cuffs from her wrists. “Put the puzzle pieces back in the box.” She immediately broke up the puzzle and started gathering the pieces. He sat down and watched her work. She finished putting the puzzle back in the box and closed the lid. She resumed her position on the cushion, hands on her legs. He nodded approval at seeing her remember.
The mealtimes and jigsaw puzzles became her daily routine. She lost count of the number of days he had kept her in the cell, chained to the wall. There were times he would sit and read while she knelt before him, a few times he talked to her, but always he handcuffed her before every meal so she could not feed herself. And there were more of the mysterious jigsaw puzzles. Each time he would tell her there was a time limit but she always had enough time to finish. She was sure the puzzles were to keep her occupied, but why did he persist in keeping her in the cell for so long? Why didn’t he allow her to read, watch TV, anything but those puzzles? Sitting against the wall gave her too much time to reflect about where she was, and what was happening to her.
She had no contact with the outside world. No news on her own status, or any news for that matter. Thinking about it, she realized she didn’t even know the date. She tried to count how many days she had been kept in this room, but she wasn’t sure. The days seemed to blur together with little to distinguish one from another. She wondered how long he would keep her in this room, chained to the wall, and what she could do to prove to him it wasn’t necessary.
Another day began for Sue Ann as the door opened and he came in. Per her standing orders she was kneeling in position, her bedding folded neatly. As he did every morning he inspected her, the bedding, everything in the room. Then came the familiar command, “hands behind your back” and once again he locked the handcuffs on her wrists. This morning breakfast was a bowl of cereal, it looked like cheerios, in milk with sliced bananas. She actually liked that combination and ate as fast as he fed her. It was a change from the usual tasteless diet.
After she finished he cleared away the dishes and released her hands. Without a word he set down a box on the floor and left. She heard the door lock behind him. As before, she waited after he left, then reached down and opened the puzzle box. This one had far more pieces than any of the previous ones; she didn’t see how she could get it done in time. Still, she had to try. She sorted by color, picking out the borders with straight edges as she went through the puzzle pieces. She had only gotten as far as assembling the border when she heard him at the door. She panicked, the puzzle was nowhere near done, but she knelt in position on the cushion as the door opened. How could he expect her to finish it in so short a time? It wasn’t fair, setting an impossible task like that for her to do.
He stopped in front of her, looking at the partially complete puzzle. “You did not listen to me, Sue Ann.” This time she could hear the anger in his voice. “No, not because you didn’t finish. Think, what have I told you?” She was confused, what had she missed? She didn’t understand what he was asking. “Remember? Be patient till I tell you what to do. When in doubt, wait for my orders. Do not anticipate me.” He didn’t raise his voice but she could tell from his clipped tone he was angry with her. She still couldn’t figure it out, what was he talking about? He had brought in the puzzle just like all the previous times, then left while she put it together. What was different? He continued, “What were my final words to you after I left, the last time?”
She thought back. He had put the box down, then told her to…. No, he hadn’t said anything. He had not told her to start, no warning to finish it in the time limit. She realized what she had done; he had not told her to put the puzzle together. She had not been paying attention to what he said, or did not say.
“Stand up,” he ordered. He grabbed her wrist and pulled her up, then dragged her over to the pole set in the floor. He took out the set of handcuffs and locked her hands together in front, around the pole. “How many times have I told you, wait for me to tell you what to do? I’m not playing at this, Sue Ann. This is not some game where you can walk away if you decide not to participate. You will learn to do what I tell you, no matter how long it takes. Quitting is not an option.”
He picked up the cushion she had knelt on and took it out into the hall, along with her bedding. He came back in with leg chains in his hand. “Sit down,” he told her, pointing to the floor. Hands on the pole she slid down on the floor. He grabbed her ankles and pulled them in front of her, placing the leg irons around her ankles. Without a word he closed the door. She heard the bolt close, and then the lights went out, leaving her in total darkness. She could sit or stand, but bound hand and foot she was trapped by the pole.
She stood up, holding onto the pole to keep her steady. She had enough slack to stand up but the leg chains quickly hit against the bottom of the pole. She sat back down, folding her legs into a sitting position. She reached down and straightened the cuffs on her ankles, testing them. Double locked, she had no way to remove them, or the handcuffs. Because both her arms and legs were around the pole there was no truly comfortable way to sit or stand. She hoped he wouldn’t leave her this way too long.
It seemed to be getting hotter too. Her arms and legs were damp and she couldn’t feel any air circulating. At least the floor felt cool. She closed her eyes, to keep out the sweat. It was definitely getting warmer; she could feel drops of sweat run down her side. She was getting thirsty too, but the water faucet was far beyond her reach now. Awkwardly she reached around the pole to move the collar still on her neck. Sweat was gathering underneath it.
She couldn’t see a thing, the door sealed off any light from the corridor outside. She tested the bonds on her wrists and ankles again. No way to get them off; she would have to wait for him to return. She thought about calling out in case he was listening, asking him to lower the temperature, but then she would violate his order of silence. No need to compound her transgressions; she was in enough trouble now. The heat and lack of fresh air was making her lightheaded and dizzy. She might enjoy bondage, but not in conditions like this. If she had the means she would have released herself by now.
The heat was oppressive, made worse by the lack of any moving air and the darkness. Her brooding over what she had done only made it worse. She knew it was her own fault. She had been lazy, not fully paying attention to what he had been saying. She had been trying to do everything he asked, as best she could. His expression had revealed his anger and disappointment. That hurt the most, knowing she could have done better. Tears ran down her cheeks. She reached around the pole with her cuffed hands to wipe them away.
And then she felt it, cool air coming from the room vent. She felt relieved; she had managed to hold out, to take his punishment. No doubt he would come in soon and free her. Maybe a stern lecture afterwards, but anything would be better than the heat. The cool circulating air actually felt cold as it evaporated the sweat from her body.
The floor was definitely colder on her bare skin. The temperature in the room continued to fall. She was starting to feel a chill. The air was too cold. She tried to turn her back to the vent to minimize heat loss. She started to shiver. He must have turned down the temperature, or something was wrong. She tried to bring up her legs, instinctively curling up to conserve body heat, but the pole got in the way. All she could think of was the cold, the uncontrollable shivering, dimly she heard a noise but didn’t realize it was her own chattering teeth. She huddled as best she could, the pole between her knees, head to one side, arms around her legs.
The door opened, light flooding in from the hallway. She was so cold she hadn’t even registered the sound of the door bolt. He released her ankles and wrists, then picked her up and wrapped a blanket around her. It was soft and warm; he must have heated it in a dryer. He put her back down on the floor, wrapped in the blanket. He sat down next to her and held her, one arm around her shoulders. She leaned against him, her head on his shoulder as he tenderly stroked her cheek. Sue Ann sighed and closed her eyes; this felt good, very good. She snuggled up against him as best she could. Dimly she could hear him murmuring in her ear, quietly reassuring her. She seemed to be floating, detached. She didn’t process his words, only the soft tone of his deep voice. She was so lost in the moment she didn’t even realize he had removed the collar around her throat.
She was dimly aware when he picked her up and carried her down a hallway. He went into a room and set her down on a bed, one that had the covers pulled back. He unwrapped her from the blanket before covering her with a sheet and light blanket. “You will sleep here tonight. Do not leave the room. I will come for you later.” He leaned over and kissed her forehead, then tucked in the covers around her head. He smiled down at her, “sleep well and the best of dreams, for you have no worries now.” He went out, closing the door behind him. The lights went out immediately after the door closed. Sue Ann felt warm and sleepy. Somehow she knew everything would work out as she drifted off to sleep.
Change of Scene
Sue Ann woke up the next morning feeling relaxed and lazy. She stretched out in the bed, luxuriating in the feel of sheets after the crude bed she had endured for days. She got up to explore her new surroundings. Besides the exit to the hall, which she remembered from the night before, there were two other doors, one to a small bathroom with a shower, the other to a closet with some clothes. There was a note on the bathroom door, instructing her to take a shower and then put on the clothes provided for her. The floor was carpeted with an odd pattern, a circle about three feet in diameter in the center of the room.
The shower woke her up. She luxuriated in the steamy hot water, finishing with a jolt of cold water. The large fluffy towel made her skin tingle as she dried herself. It felt good to wash off the grime after being confined for so long, first in the county jail and then here in his house. After finishing in the bathroom she looked in the closet to see what she could wear. She had to laugh at the selection; he was true to his word when he said she would know exactly what he wanted. Inside was one set of underwear, a mid-length skirt, and a sleeveless blouse. She didn’t have to guess at what he wanted her to wear. She dressed quickly, underwear, then the blouse, and finally pulling on the skirt. Not an exact fit but close enough, and best of all it wasn’t jail-issue. She looked in the bottom of the closet but there were no socks, hose, or shoes. She doubted it was an oversight. She checked her appearance in the bathroom mirror. It felt good to have some semblance of normalcy return to her shattered life.
She looked at the door to the hallway. She hadn’t tried to open it yet so she wasn’t sure if it was locked or not. Since he had ordered her to stay in the room, she thought it best not to even try the door. She looked around but as always there were no obvious places for cameras or microphones; Sue Ann had no doubt they were there somewhere. One day she would find one, just to satisfy her own suspicions. While waiting for him she made the bed and checked to be sure the bathroom was in order. Then she sat down on the bed to think.
Her first concern was what to do when he opened the door. In the other place she had been required to kneel on the cushion facing the door. She decided that since he wanted her to present herself in that manner she would do the same here, kneeling in the middle of the room facing the door. That explained the circle pattern in the carpet. Then she remembered, he had not allowed her to sit on the makeshift bed without permission. She stood up and walked to the center of the room. Better she sat on the floor, just in case. The last thing she wanted was a return trip to that cell.
The room had no windows, so she had no idea where she was or the time of day. The walls were bare and the lighting was in the ceiling behind translucent panels. There were no light switches to turn the lights on or off. Yet one more reminder she was not in control. She was just beginning to realize what it meant to be owned. Even something as simple as a light switch could no longer be taken for granted.
She heard the door start to open and immediately assumed her kneeling position. He came in and closed the door behind him. At first he stood in front of her, before he crouched down and lifted her chin with one hand. “You did well,” he told her. Sue Ann started to reply but caught herself, remembering he had still not given her permission to speak. He stood and walked around her, apparently an inspection, suddenly stopping behind her. “Hands behind your back,” he ordered. She complied immediately, holding her hands behind her, slightly apart, palms facing each other. She felt the handcuffs close on her wrists followed by leg irons on her ankles. She held still while he double locked them. For a moment she was afraid he was still mad at her, but quickly realized she wouldn’t have slept in the bed last night if that was true.
Finished with the restraints he took hold of her arm and helped her stand. “I believe you are ready to move forward, even though there was the unfortunate incident yesterday. If you behave I won’t put you back in that room. You should remain quiet, do not speak until I give you permission.
“I fixed some breakfast for us,” he told her. “It’s a nice day so I thought we would eat outside. But first,” he suddenly grabbed her arms and roughly pushed her against the wall, “do not move, spread your legs as far apart as you can. Hold still.”
Sue Ann stood facing the wall, her feet spread to the limit the chains allowed. He held her against the wall with one hand while he searched her with the other. He ran his hands up and down her body, searching for any hidden object. She had to close her eyes and concentrate on not making a sound as he lingered over first her breasts then between her legs. She had no idea what he would be looking for but the search would have uncovered anything she tried to hide. During her time in jail she had been searched but not like this. In jail it had been impersonal; here he had made it very personal indeed.
One hand on the chain between her wrists, the other around her throat, he leaned close and whispered in her ear. “Remember this, any time, any place, I may search you. If I find something you are not allowed, you will answer for it. Don’t ever try to hide anything from me.” With that he stepped back and took hold of one arm. “Now, let’s go eat.”
He led her out the door into the hallway. They turned to the left and walked to the end of the corridor, where it opened into a living room. At the far end she could see sliding glass doors and a patio overlooking the desert floor. As they crossed the room she saw a kitchen to one side. He opened one of the sliding doors and took her out to a wooden table on the patio. He pulled out a chair for her and helped her to sit down, her hands behind the back of the chair. “Wait here while I get the food” he told her as he headed back toward the kitchen.
Sue Ann watched him go into the kitchen, and then turned to examine her surroundings. From what she could see the patio was on a hill overlooking a desert valley. She could see mountains ringing the valley on every side. Except for a single road along one edge she could see no other man-made structures. Overhead was a typical clear blue desert sky, not a single cloud, but of more significance no contrails from aircraft. Aside from the kitchen the only sound was the rustle of some nearby sagebrush from a slight breeze. Wherever she was, it was isolated.
She could jump up and dash off into the desert right now, while he was busy in the kitchen. But between her bare feet and the ankle chains she doubted if she could make twenty feet before he would catch her. No wonder he had neglected to provide her with shoes. In bare feet the desert itself became a kind of moat of sharp rocks, cactus spines and thorns, an effective combination to keep her from escaping. Not that there appeared to be any place to escape to; the only road she could see ran down the entire length of the valley and was lost in the distance as it came to the mountains. She knew from experience distances were deceptive in the desert. It would take an entire day just to cross the valley on foot, and she had no idea what lay beyond.
She heard noise from the kitchen and turned to see him bringing out the plates. He set one down in front of her, the other in front of a chair to her right. Pancakes, eggs, and a cup of fruit. She didn’t realize how hungry she was until she smelled the food. He went back in then came out with two glasses of orange juice and silverware. He sat down beside her but did not remove her handcuffs.
“Smells good, doesn’t it? Before we eat we’ll go over some rules for meals. You are not allowed to eat or drink until I give you permission. You are not allowed to touch anything on the table unless I permit it. If you must leave the table you will ask first. You will not speak when we sit down at the table until I permit it. Do you understand these rules?” Sue Ann nodded in agreement. He reached over and picked up her fork, cut off a small piece of the pancakes, stabbed it with the fork, then held it in front of her mouth. “Eat” he ordered. She leaned forward and took the bite of food off the fork. Was he going to feed her by hand again?
He watched her for a moment, then placed the fork on her plate. He stood up and went behind her. She could feel him placing the key in the lock then her left wrist was free of the handcuffs. He took the cuff off her right wrist and sat back down, setting the handcuffs to his right on the table. He nodded toward her plate, “you may eat”, and then started on his own plate. She picked up the fork and began to eat slowly. She often skipped breakfast but she was very hungry and the pancakes and eggs smelled wonderful. The bland food he had been serving her was no comparison to this meal.
While she ate he talked about his love for the desert, how he had lived there all his life. She recognized many of the places he mentioned. She had explored some of the more remote areas herself pursuing her amateur archaeology hobby. As she listened she was very self-conscious of her table manners, the handcuffs on the table next to him, and the leg chains locked around her ankles under the table. Every time she shifted in the chair she heard the slight metallic sound of the chain scraping on the patio’s concrete floor.
He finished his plate and took a drink from his juice glass. Sue Ann stopped when she saw he was done, unsure if she should continue. She looked over at him. “You can continue eating. You are doing quite well, Sue Ann, and I’m satisfied with your progress so far. I do appreciate how confusing and difficult this transition in your life must be. You don’t understand many of the things I’ve done. You want to ask me questions but you are frustrated by not being allowed to speak. You aren’t sure what I want; you worry you might do something wrong.
“For now you will have to live with the restrictions. I will not always explain my actions to you. I have certain goals in mind. Some I will tell you in advance, some I will not. Don’t try guessing, that’s a mistake. Try to focus on exactly what I tell you to do, nothing more. Don’t try to predict what I want; you don’t know me well enough yet to do that.” He leaned back in his chair and sipped on his juice, watching her. Sue Ann finished her food and carefully set her knife and fork on the plate, where he could see them, then took a drink from her own glass. Unconsciously she reached down and straightened her skirt across her knees. His eyes followed her every move.
“I’ve set aside today for us to get to know each other better. At the moment I have the advantage of you,” he smiled at that. “I found your diary that night in the desert. I read of your dreams of finding the perfect master, your fantasies of being kidnapped and carried away. I know about your experiments in bondage, especially that night.” Everything he said was true but she still felt embarrassed to hear it spoken out loud. “It’s reality now, Sue Ann. This isn’t a dream where you are going to wake up and have it vanish. I know you’ve worn these many times before,” he held up the handcuffs, “but from now on you won’t decide when to take them off or put them on. Every detail of your life, when you eat, when you sleep, the clothes you wear, even your own body, it’s all under my control. You live by my rules, you answer to me for your actions, no one else. There are no laws to protect you, no one to rescue you, no place for you to go. Defy or disobey me and you face the consequences. Obey me, serve me, and I will make all your dreams come true.”
Sue Ann sat in her chair listening to him, unable to look away as his words took hold of her. She wanted this man and what he promised her. Wanted it more than anything in her life. She wanted to drop to her knees in front of him and beg him to command her, to use her for his pleasure, most of all she wanted to plead with him to let her belong to him, to be owned by him body and soul. But all he permitted was for her to sit silently in her chair, hands folded on her lap.
“Stand up,” he ordered, abruptly changing his tone to a commanding mode. She immediately pushed back her chair and stood up, facing him with her hands at her side. While still sitting in his patio chair he reached up and unbuttoned her blouse down to where it was covered by her skirt, then leaned back in his chair staring at her. She didn’t flinch, holding very still so as not to interfere with whatever he chose to do next. “I like that” he smiled, as he reached out and ran one hand down her arm. “Leave your blouse unbuttoned for now. Also, when you have your ankles chained? When I order you to stand I want your stance to be with your ankles as far apart as the restraints allow. Do that now.”
She shifted her feet till the chain on the leg irons was tight, as he had ordered. It felt awkward to stand that way but it wasn’t uncomfortable. She concentrated on remembering to do the same thing in the future. She worried about keeping track of his rules and hoped he wouldn’t give her too many at once. If he gave her a few at a time, let her get into the habit of following them so it became automatic, then there would be less likelihood of her forgetting one and making a mistake. He seemed to know what he was doing since she wasn’t overwhelmed yet.
“Hold out your hands in front of you, toward me, slightly apart.” She did as he ordered, a good idea of what was coming next. He opened the handcuffs and placed them on her wrists, then tightened them to where they were snug but not uncomfortable. He double locked them so they would not close further. “Put your hands down.” She lowered her hands till they were touching her skirt. The combination of her open blouse, her bare feet on the patio concrete floor, and the chains on her hands and feet made Sue Ann feel especially vulnerable. “Turn around, so your back is toward me.” She turned, facing away from his chair. At first he said nothing, then as he reminded her with “check your stance,” she corrected by moving her feet apart to the limits of the leg irons. Already she had made a mistake, broken one of his rules. But as she waited for harsh words or worse, he said nothing. This time at least he let it pass, but she would have to be more careful and concentrate on learning.
She heard him take another drink of juice and shift in his chair, but she couldn’t see what he was doing with her back to him. Sue Ann thought it must be some kind of test; was there anything else she forgot? She tried to remember everything he had told her this morning, in addition to their first encounter when he chained her to the wall. The only part that seemed to apply was his instructions on waiting when in doubt, so perhaps she was doing what he expected.
Concentrating on his instructions she was distracted and was startled when he put his hand on her leg. She flinched in surprise but managed to stand still as he traced a line along the side of her thigh. He lingered behind her knee, lightly running his fingers across the sensitive area. Sue Ann had to close her eyes and focus on breathing slowly, so overpowering was his touch. After a moment he stopped, then stood up behind her, placing his hands on her shoulders.
“You will keep me company while I clean up the kitchen,” he told her as he led her back through the patio doors and into the kitchen area. In a corner next to the refrigerator was a straight backed chair. “I want you to sit here. Don’t get up until I tell you and don’t touch anything.” He helped her sit down, and then went back out to the patio for their dishes. Her blouse was starting to fall off so she awkwardly pulled it back up over her shoulders. The handcuffs on her wrists made it difficult to reach. Since he had unbuttoned the blouse she dared not button it up again. While he was out on the patio she straightened her skirt and then sat with her hands folded in her lap. He came back in with the breakfast dishes stacked in his hands.
“I want you to think of one question to ask me, something you feel you must know, something that would be important to you. No limit on the subject, it can be anything. After I’m done here,” he was rinsing off the plates while he loaded the dishwasher, “then I will allow one question. But only one, so give it some thought.” He gathered up the pans and began rinsing them as well.
What should she ask him? His name? That would be nice to know but not essential, at least not right now. What he was going to do with her? No, she could figure that out by herself. He was turning her into his willing slave. Ask him why he wouldn’t let her speak? Again no, she could guess that one too. He was imposing his control over her. Same reason he kept her in restraints. Ask how he was able to rescue her from being sent to a Mexican prison? She would love to know how he managed that, but he might not want to tell her and in any case it wasn’t really relevant to her situation at the moment. What did she need to know, right now?
While she was pondering his question, he finished in the kitchen. After starting the dishwasher he came over to her, took her arm, and helped her stand up. “We’ll go sit in the living room,” he told her. Holding the chain between her wrists he led her from the kitchen into the living room area. When they reached the sofa he stopped. “Wait,” he told her, then let go of the cuffs. To her surprise he began buttoning her blouse, though he did leave several buttons open at the top. “Sit here, the corner of the sofa,” he gestured toward the couch in front of them. Sue Ann sat down, placing her bound hands in her lap. He sat down next to her, placing one arm on the top of the sofa behind her. “Now, you have permission to speak, but only to ask me your one question.”
Sue Ann didn’t ask immediately, but she didn’t think it a good idea to make him wait too long. She looked down at her lap and her hands locked together, then back up at him. What did she need to know right now, from him? “Please tell me how I may best serve you,” she said. She had thousands of questions, but this one was the most important. Her life was in the hands of this stranger, she needed to know how to make him happy, not just for her own survival, but she found inside herself a growing need to obey him, to submit to his control and authority, to serve him in any way she could. And maybe she was attracted to him too.
She should have been terrified of him. He had kidnapped her, stripped and chained her to a wall, fondled her at will, and even now she was bound hand and foot, helpless to resist him. Yet she had no fear of him. She sensed he would not seriously harm her, but there was an undercurrent in his words that implied he would punish her if she did not follow his orders. She did have some concern about that, but so far he hadn’t shown any signs of being unreasonable or mentally unstable. If he proved to be some sadistic monster she would be in serious trouble as she had no out, no avenue of escape. In a way it was ironic; since she could do nothing about it, she didn’t have to worry about it.
Considering her question he leaned back, absentmindedly rubbing his chin. “The simple answer is that I want you to obey me. But I think you are asking more than that, aren’t you?” She nodded in agreement. “The best way to serve me is to be true to yourself. I read your diary that night in the desert. I’m looking for the woman who wrote it. No pretense, no concealing your inner nature. Show me what you’ve kept inside, hidden away. I want that idealized Sue Ann.
“I’m not going to change you into some other person. I want to bring out the real you, the one that’s uninhibited and free to be what she longs for. You will have to live within the boundaries I choose to set for you, but in time you will find you are free to grow and pursue your own interests within those limits.” He reached over and took her hands in his own. “We are going to be together for many years to come. Both of us will inevitably change as we grow to better know each other, I hope for the better. My promise to you is that I will take care of you, provide for you, and to do my best to see you enjoy your new life with me. I will insist you stay within the boundaries I set for you, the rules that govern your behavior, the orders you must obey. I will make the final decision for everything we do, but in return I will expect you to tell me what you think and how you feel, about anything and everything.
“I keep my promises and I take my obligations seriously. I expect you to do the same.
“I understand this is all very new to you. I expect you are nervous and unsure, maybe even a little scared? Don’t worry about it. I don’t expect perfection overnight. I know you are doing your best. If you forget something I’ll remind you, but try not to forget the next time.” Sue Ann lowered her eyes, looking at his hands covering her own.
She needed to hear those words. She couldn’t explain it, maybe it was just the soft caring tone of his voice, but she started to relax as he talked to her. The physical contact, holding her hands, was reassuring. His close proximity made her feel warm inside. She knew what was happening. He was pushing all her buttons: touching her, skimpy clothing, the chains on her wrists and ankles, everything designed to make her conscious of her sexuality. She knew he was doing it deliberately and didn’t care; it felt right. Besides, if he wanted the woman in the diary, why not let go and allow those feelings to surface?
“Don’t think I’m never going to let you talk. I have reasons for what I’m doing. I’m not going to explain to you right now, but in the future I will give you an explanation for the rules and restrictions. Right now, today, it’s more important that you learn obedience. While you are learning I will be lenient, but afterward I will be strict.” He reached up and took her chin in one hand, turning her face to him so he could look directly into her eyes. “Understand this, Sue Ann. I am not cruel or sadistic. I won’t beat you senseless on a whim. But I will not tolerate a bad attitude, disobedience, or laziness. Don’t ever try to hide anything from me or trick me, or deceive me with half-truths. Don’t try to make excuses when you do something wrong. I’ll see through it immediately.
“And once again, don’t try to anticipate my orders. Wait until I tell you what to do. Every day is a new day, whatever I had you do yesterday may not be the same today. Remember that. I’m not going to be arbitrarily changing rules on you, but neither do I want you to become complacent or sloppy. Don’t try to take control away from me. I won’t stand for it, and I will take whatever measures I deem necessary to make sure you don’t forget it either. Your quality of life depends on it. Do you understand?”
His sudden intensity caught her off guard. She realized there was a core of steel in this man. No matter how caring he seemed, he expected to have things his way or else. She would have to be very careful never to cross that line. This was not pretense; he was serious about demanding her submission to his desire to dominate. She had dreamed about a life like this but never thought it would become real, and never to such a degree of control as he now had over her. She wasn’t free to leave nor could she limit what he did to her. He could easily leave her chained to the wall to starve to death and no one would ever know. She had no idea what he would do to counter any intransigence on her part but she had no doubt whatsoever it would be unpleasant.
Unable to tell him she nodded to show she understood what he meant. If only he would let her talk, there was so much she wanted to tell him! Everything he wanted from her she yearned to give him. She needed to hear his orders, to show him how obedient she could be. Most of all she longed for his touch, to have him use her body as he wished, for his pleasure. She wanted to demonstrate how she could serve him, cooking his food, doing his laundry, and making him comfortable in his home. No, she thought, our home now. She belonged here.
“Stand up,” he ordered. Sue Ann stood up immediately. He held onto the chain between her wrists, leading her to one side of the living room. He took a key out of his pocket and removed the leg irons and handcuffs. “Strip, remove all of your clothing, now.” She hesitated for just a moment before unbuttoning her blouse. This wouldn’t be the first time she was forced to appear nude before him. It was likely to be a common occurrence from now on, she told herself, so best she get used to it. As she took her blouse off she looked around for a place to put it. “Drop it on the floor,” which solved that problem. Next she unzipped her skirt and let it drop, ending with the removal of her underwear. She stepped back, the clothes in a heap in front of her. “Stand over here, lean forward, put your hands against the wall, feet back and spread apart.” She knew what he wanted; she had been searched several times during her stay in jail. This was the same position the police and jail guards used. Since she had no clothes on she was puzzled as to what he would search. “Face the wall, don’t look around” came another order from him. Dutifully she kept her eyes forward as she heard him open some kind of drawer behind her.
She heard a rattle of chains, then her curiosity was answered as he placed a waist chain around her, above her hips. She felt him secure it behind her back with a padlock. Glancing down she could see a pair of handcuffs attached to the waist chain in front. She recognized it, a prisoner transport waist chain. She had seen them at the jail on some of the prisoners as they were made ready for the move to the State prison. He took hold of her right wrist and brought it down to her side. He slipped some type of leather mitt onto her hand before locking the handcuff on her wrist, over the mitt. He did the same for her left hand, then double locked both handcuffs so they wouldn’t tighten further. She looked down at her hands. The mitts were made of stiff leather and had no fingers. There was a rolled edge at the wrist, so they could not be slipped off when cuffed. She tried to flex her fingers. The mitts didn’t bend. The thickness prevented her from using her hands at all. This was something she hadn’t seen before. Her hands were effectively useless while restrained this way.
“Come over here and sit in this chair, you will need some shoes.” He helped her to sit down in a nearby chair, and then proceeded to put thick athletic socks on her feet, followed by a pair of sandals. He folded over the socks to double the thickness. She saw the reason why when he locked the same leg irons around her ankles again. She didn’t understand the shoes, what did he have in mind?
“One more item and we’ll be ready. Stay in the chair, face forward.” She did as he ordered, watching from the corner of her eye as he went behind the chair. The last item proved to be a blindfold when he covered her face. It was softly padded around the eyes, wide and close fitting, with a cutout around the bridge of her nose. She felt him tighten it with a buckle behind her head. Whatever it was made of was opaque, not a glimmer of light reached her eyes. With his hand on her arm he lifted her out of the chair. Even for the few seconds she had the blindfold on she was already feeling disoriented, not sure which direction she faced.
“This way,” he told her as he guided her across the living room. A few times he stopped her using his grip on her upper arm. He would pull or push her to one side, then continue. She heard him open the patio door, and then they were on the patio where they had eaten. “I thought we would take a little walk in the desert. I’m sure you would like some fresh air and a chance to get some exercise. The weather is nice and we won’t be out long enough for you to worry about sunburn.” He led her off the patio and onto a well-worn path into the desert.
A Desert Stroll
Sue Ann was grateful he kept the pace slow. The chain between her feet allowed her to keep up a normal walking pace if she was careful and concentrated on keeping her steps short. Not much different from her adventure that night, except these leg irons had a longer connecting chain making it easier to walk. Allowing her to keep her hands in front made a difference too. She didn’t feel the strain in her shoulders like she had that night when they were locked behind her back. But not being able to see made her far more helpless than the handcuffs and leg chains. That night she had flirted with the idea of a blindfold, keeping to the road purely by the feel of the pavement, but she thought it was too dangerous. Experiencing the real thing emphasized that she had chosen correctly. She had no idea of the direction he was heading or how far they had gone from the house. For all she knew he had been walking her around in circles only a few yards away.
Suddenly he stopped, letting go of her arm. She stood still, not moving, waiting for him to take hold and continue leading her. And waited. She couldn’t hear him, but dare not call out as that would violate his order of silence. The sun was warm on her back. She turned her head from side to side, trying to hear him. In the distance there was the faint call of quail, but she couldn’t sense him anywhere nearby. Where had he gone? Had he left her here alone, abandoned her? Was it some kind of test? Don’t panic, she told herself. He wouldn’t just leave her alone in the desert in such a helpless condition. Without thinking she started to raise her hands to take off the blindfold, but the grip of the handcuffs kept her wrists close to her waist. Now she realized why he had covered her hands. She couldn’t try to pick up a stick and use it to somehow push off the blindfold because she couldn’t use her fingers.
His words came back to her. When in doubt she should wait for him to tell her what to do. That was the whole purpose of this little excursion. She relaxed, calmly waiting for him to return. She was right, this was some kind of test, one of trust. If she called out to him, or moved, she would fail. He was probably standing a few feet away, waiting to see what she would do. He was forcing her to be dependent on him, to see how she would react. She was proud she was able to figure it out, but still she was standing there helpless and blind. The smell of the mesquite was strong, carried by a light cool breeze. The only sounds were the rustle of the brush and an occasional bird call. Knowing what he was doing didn’t really change how it affected her. She was a little scared and wanted his hand on her arm to reassure her, to let her know he was there beside her, to take care of her. But however long it took, she would stand there, not moving, till he took hold of her again.
“I love the desert. The quiet, the wide open spaces, the isolation.” His words startled her. He was very close to her, only a few yards away. “Tell me what you are thinking, feeling, right now Sue Ann. Quick, don’t think about it, tell me.” He was behind her, his hands on her shoulders.
She started to speak without hesitation. “I feel vulnerable, powerless. I need you. I want to feel your hands on me, pointing me in the right direction, showing me what to do. I feel…” She had to pause for a moment, to find the right word. “Passive, that’s it. Waiting to see what happens next, what you will choose for me.” She couldn’t see the smile on his face or his nod of approval. Finally allowed to speak, the words seemed to pour out on their own.
Sue Ann continued, “I thought I would be afraid, being your prisoner and now your slave. I’ve never done anything like this before. I have wondered, fantasized about it, but I never thought it would happen. Now you’ve kidnapped me, forced me to serve you without even asking what I want. I should be angry, resisting you, plotting some way to escape, but that’s not what happened. The truth is, I like this, I want it.”
He interrupted her. “Enough for now, I want you to be quiet again. Let’s head back to the house. You lead the way and I’ll follow you.” He let go of her shoulders and stepped back. Which direction? She didn’t have a clue. How was she supposed to find her way back? She turned around and slowly started walking back in the direction she thought they had come. Within a few steps his hand was on her arm, halting her. “Stop! Any further and you would walk right into a barrel cactus full of sharp spines. We’ll go this way instead.” He turned her to one side and led her back to the house. At the patio door he took off her sandals but left her blindfold and restraints on.
A Chance to Talk
Inside he took her past the living room into the hallway. She heard him open a door. He took her inside a room and then removed her blindfold. It was the same bedroom she had slept in the night before. “Stand in that circle and do not leave it without permission.” She stepped across the line in the carpet as he let go of her arm. She watched him while he brought in a folding chair and sat down. He looked at her intently. “Face me,” he ordered in a commanding voice.
At an angle, she turned to face him, looking into his eyes. “You forgot something,” he reminded her. She looked to either side, careful not to turn away from him. What had she forgotten? Looking down she remembered, her stance. She had missed it again, his rule that she always stand with legs apart when her ankles were shackled. Quickly she corrected herself, pulling the connecting chain taut. This was the second time she had made that mistake. As if he had read her mind he said, “that’s twice now. Next time I’ll make sure you remember.” Those words worried her. She didn’t have any idea of what he would do to make sure she remembered but from his tone of voice she could tell he wasn’t pleased. She didn’t consider it to be an idle threat.
He leaned back in the chair, his arms folded. She saw his eyes sweep up and down, appraising her. Embarrassed by his frank stare at her nude body, she blushed and lowered her eyes, but carefully did not block his view. Granted there was little she could do to cover herself, but she couldn’t even turn away lest she appear to disobey him. “All my life,” he began, “I dreamed of this, to see a woman stand in front of me, stripped of her clothing and bound in chains, obedient to my every command, powerless to resist me. Just like you, Sue Ann, my fantasies have become reality. I should be ashamed of myself, treating you like a slave, forcing you to obey me. But you know what? The truth is I enjoy it.” She had to smile, hearing her own words quoted back to her. “I’m not going to stop. I’m not going to let you go. Neither am I going to give you a choice as to what I do with you. Don’t ever forget I own you. The only control you have left over your life is to choose how well you will cooperate with me.”
He stood up and began walking around her circle. She started to turn to keep facing him. “No, face the chair, eyes front, and stand still. I don’t want you to move or make a sound.” She stopped and turned back to the chair. He stood behind her, just outside her circle on the floor. “Our relationship will be based on complementary roles. We each fulfill the other’s needs.” She could feel him very close behind her. His arms encircled her, his hands on the cuffs around her wrists. “I need you as much as you need me, Sue Ann,” he whispered in her ear. She closed her eyes and leaned back into his arms. She longed to touch him and hoped he would free her hands, but she knew better than to ask. He held her for a moment longer, and then walked back in front of her and sat down again. She watched him, this time mindful of her proper stance. “You have permission to speak.”
Finally! But what to say? She thought for a moment while waiting to see if he was going to continue talking. “May I ask questions?” she asked. He nodded but said nothing. She had to choose her words carefully, at least for now. Although he hadn’t yet set any limits on what she could ask, still she didn’t know him and couldn’t anticipate how he would react. Given her present circumstances she definitely did not want to anger him. “What is your name?” Sue Ann asked him. If she knew his name he wouldn’t seem so much the stranger.
He answered right away, “I’m not going to tell you that just yet. For the moment you may address me as ‘sir’. When you need to know my name then I’ll tell you. I won’t explain why.”
The finality of his answer ended that line of inquiry. He made it clear he wasn’t going to allow her to go any further with that question. “Yes, sir. What’s going to happen to me?” It would be nice to know his intentions; maybe he would talk about what he wanted.
“To a certain extent, that depends on you, Sue Ann. I know what I intend to do with you, if that’s what you are asking?” She nodded. “I am going to be your master, and to be that I am going to make you my slave. You understand what that means? I am going to teach you to be dependent on me. I will dictate every facet of your life. Your future is one of rules and limits. You will learn to ask permission, in time you will come to realize you need my consent, my approval, for everything you do.
“You have no property, no money, no possessions. Even your body now belongs to me. And I won’t stop there, I want to possess your mind as well, to define and direct your thoughts. I will be in charge of any contact between you and the outside world. You will eventually meet and talk with other people, but on my terms. Remember you are a fugitive. Naturally you are not allowed to leave the house unless you are with me, nor are you allowed to contact anyone except through me.
“That’s what will happen. If you cooperate, show me you are serious and diligent in learning, that you will serve and obey me as I wish, then you will have a good life with me. If you choose not to cooperate, I will force you to do it anyway. Your life won’t be so enjoyable. I would rather not do it that way, but make no mistake you will become mine, no matter how long it takes.”
The way he spoke made it sound like a foregone conclusion she would become his slave. And maybe he was right. There was no escape from this place, and nowhere to go if she did. She’d be in that Mexican prison within a week if she were on her own. Too, she had to admit what he described was appealing. She had thought about being sullen and uncooperative, but hearing his voice triggered a desire in her to please him, to do whatever he asked of her. She liked the self-assurance she saw in him, the way he was assertive and decisive but not overbearing. He had kidnapped her, but it was really more of a rescue.
She tugged at the handcuffs on her wrists, holding her hands close to her waist. He had kept her in chains since he first took her. He noticed the movement and pointed to her hands. “You are probably wondering why I keep you in restraints. There are a couple of reasons for it. First, and most important to you, is that I want to. I adore seeing you dressed in nothing more than chains. It makes you look sexy and attractive. Think of it as a sort of jewelry.” He laughed, and she had to smile. “Second, it’s for your own protection. No, I’m not being sarcastic.” The expression on her face must have given away her thoughts. “Those cuffs make it very difficult for you to try to fight back or escape. So difficult you won’t try it. Without them you might try to defy me or attempt to run away, and then I’d have to get physical. The result is you would get hurt.”
That made sense to her. It was easier to follow his commands if she had no alternative. To her surprise she realized she liked that too. Maybe that was the reason she had become so fascinated by bondage in the first place. As for his first reason, the way he looked at her when he made her display herself left no doubt he was pleased with his new possession. She knew what it meant when a man looked at her that way. That didn’t bother her either, in fact she felt some satisfaction in knowing she could hold his attention. She realized it was important to her, that he desire her.
She had many more questions she wanted to ask. “I don’t want to oppose you, sir. I’ll be cooperative and try my best to obey you. But I don’t know what to do, can you teach me, instruct me on how to serve you? What will my life here be like?” She had read about domination and submission, even about master and slave relationships on the Internet, but all she had learned was that she didn’t know very much about it.
He answered immediately. “Don’t worry about not knowing what to do. One thing I promise, you will always know exactly what is required of you. I will tell you precisely what I need and how you will fulfill my desires. Remember what I’ve said before? Don’t try to guess. If in doubt, wait and ask.
“What will your life be like? At first it’s going to be difficult for you because you must adjust to a new and very different lifestyle. Once we are past that we will talk about what you would like to accomplish, and then I will set some objectives for you and work out a plan for you to reach those goals. I want you to have a life essentially worry-free, with a minimum of responsibilities. But before you reach that point you must learn what I expect.”
Sue Ann wasn’t sure what to say, so she stood quietly while thinking over his answer. This was the classic offer she could not refuse. In a very literal way, she thought as she looked down at the handcuffs. He had already made it clear it wasn’t really an offer, more of an accomplished fact. One the one hand she felt trapped, irritated that he was forcing her into this relationship. But the prospect of being truly owned excited her. Her secret fantasies were coming true at a breathtaking speed. Even to being kidnapped and forced to serve a strict demanding master. Besides, there was nothing he could do to her that was worse than a Mexican prison cell.
“Right now I want you to stand in the circle on the floor, facing this chair. I have something I need to do, so I will leave you here until I’m done. Do not step outside the circle, do not turn or look around. You understand what I want?” He waited for her answer.
“Yes sir, I understand,” she answered him. It was simple enough, she thought, stand there until he came back. He stood up and left, closing the door behind him. She couldn’t tell if he locked the door or not. Not that it made any difference, she knew she would not, could not leave the circle without his permission, even if she collapsed and fell to the floor.
Time to Think
The moment he was gone the doubts began. Could she really belong to this man, be a dutiful and obedient slave, allow him to take over her life? What of her accounting career? She had to laugh at that one; she certainly had no chance at ever working as an accountant again, not after a fraud conviction. And what about this man who would be her master? Did she want him, did she love him? She knew at least part of the answer to that one, the physical desire was there, no question she felt lust for him. If he proved to be a decent person then no doubt love would follow. As for being her master, she was already responding to him, without even thinking about it. He had all the right qualities: decisive, dominating, he definitely had confidence in his own abilities. He had that certain presence she had seen in a few men before, the ones who could walk into a room and take it over, often without even saying a word. He didn’t have any problems taking from her whatever he wanted either.
Sue Ann stared at the chair and the wall in front of her. Though only his spoken words held her, she could not look away. He might never know if she did disobey and steal a quick look to the side, but she would know. And that held her as no physical restraint could. The invisible bonds phrase meant something now. She wanted to hear his voice telling her what to do, to faithfully complete the tasks he set for her, to take pride in knowing she could do it. She wanted a master; she wanted him to be her master, her owner.
The walk in the desert had left her puzzled at first. When she thought about it the events began to make sense. He had left her standing, alone, to impress upon her how she must depend upon him. The moment he had let go of her arm she had felt lost, unsure, afraid. But all that had vanished as soon as she knew he was there once again. Making her walk alone had a purpose too. When he stopped her from walking into a cactus it was to show her he would not let her come to harm.
He came back into the room about fifteen minutes later. While checking his email he had watched her on the monitor. Not once had she turned around or stepped out of the circle. Even when he walked back in her eyes glanced his way momentarily but went right back to the wall in front of her. He sat down in the chair and placed her bundled clothes, the ones she had removed in the living room, on the floor in front of him.
“Very good, Sue Ann. You are doing exactly what I want.” He reached forward and unlocked the handcuffs, removing the mitts covering her hands. “Turn around.” She turned at his command. He unlocked the chain around her waist and removed it. “You may put on the skirt and blouse, but stay inside the circle.”
Sue Ann turned back to face him and picked up her clothes. She put on the blouse first, buttoning it only up to where he had left it open previously, then awkwardly stepped into the skirt and pulled it up. He had not removed the leg shackles. When she had finished dressing she stood facing him once again, hands at her sides, but this time she remembered to keep her legs apart. She tried to remember if she had permission to speak, but since she wasn’t sure she thought it better to wait before saying anything. It was nice to have clothes on again, even as little as he gave her. She hoped he wouldn’t put the handcuffs back on too soon.
“I’m going to allow you some time to yourself before lunch. After I leave you will wait in the circle, counting down from fifty, then you may leave the circle. You have permission to use the bathroom, to walk around the room, or even sit in this chair if you like. You may not sit or lie on the bed. Is that clear? You may answer yes or no.”
“Yes sir, I understand.” His instructions were simple enough. He stood and left, closing the door behind him. Sue Ann began slowly counting down, just like the times she had been chained to the wall. Apparently this was going to be standard procedure whenever he left her alone in a room. She wasn’t sure if there was a reason for it, or if he did it just as some sort of exercise in obedience. The reason didn’t matter; it was part of the structure he was building around her. Finished with her countdown, she decided to wait a while longer, as she had done before.
Satisfied she had waited long enough, she went into the bathroom. She needed to use the facilities, and she wanted to wash her face and hands. Still there from earlier in the morning was a brush and comb, which she used to touch up her hair. She checked her wrists for any marking but only a fine line of red remained, and it was fading. He hadn’t over tightened the cuffs, and she hadn’t tried to struggle in them. She knew to occasionally move her wrists back and forth to keep down the irritation. It seemed to be working. Finished she straightened up the bathroom, and then went back out into the bedroom. She sat down in the chair to give her legs a rest. She had been standing or walking most of the morning.
She lifted her arms above her head, stretching, then waved them about, working her shoulder muscles. The prolonged bondage had made them stiff. She looked down at the leg chains still on her ankles, over the socks. The padding from the thick cotton socks had protected her legs so there was no sign of bruising. She had been careful when walking not to pull them taut, jerking the cuffs against her ankles. To satisfy her own curiosity she tried to pull one leg cuff open. As she expected it didn’t budge. She recognized the type he used on her; they were of very good quality and not at all easy to remove without the key. She doubted she would ever have the keys again.
Sue Ann sat back in the chair, stretching her legs out, pulling the connecting chain taut. About 15 inches apart, that was her limit. Enough to walk, not enough to run, climb, or kick. He had removed the handcuffs, but she was sure it was no oversight on his part: she still wore the restraints on her legs. It was a reminder of her status, a reminder she couldn’t ignore. He had referred to them as jewelry, telling her it made her look sexy. She smiled at that. There was no doubt he thought they looked attractive on her. His unguarded looks of pure lust, the times he had made her display herself standing or kneeling before him, told her what was on his mind. To her surprise she was happy to please him in those moments. She wanted him to be attracted to her. Those times he had touched her, intimately, had triggered a corresponding need in her, to please him, serve him in any way he wished, including sexual. A need so strong she couldn’t seem to think straight.
She stood up, stretching again, and then did a few knee bends to work her leg muscles. Without even thinking about it she walked over to the circle and turned to face the door. When he came back in he would want to see her there, kneeling in position, waiting for him to return. He had not told her to do so, but somehow she knew he would approve. And it would fall within the rules he had set for her earlier. She looked over at the chair, had she moved it or was it still in the same place? It looked the same, so she left it where it was.
She thought about what she had learned about her new master. He seemed to like order, the kitchen and living room had been clean, everything in its proper place, a sure sign of the neatness freak. He had immediately cleaned up the kitchen after breakfast. She laughed to herself, not a typical man at all. But not at all bad, she liked a clean house herself.
The kitchen provided another clue as to his personality. She had noticed the gourmet utensils. That plus he had fixed all the meals told her he liked to cook. She hoped that didn’t mean he wouldn’t let her fix some of the meals too. She looked forward to cooking for him. The types of dishes he prepared would be important. If they were simple, like the pancake breakfast this morning, then she would know he didn’t go in for extravagance or the exotic. On the other hand, if they had roast squab for lunch she would have to spend some serious study time with cookbooks.
The greeting, making her kneel facing him, and the departure, making her wait in the same position after he left, must have some significance too. The obvious answer, to her thinking, is that they were exercises in obedience, the departure especially, since he wasn’t present. If there was some other underlying reason it wasn’t obvious; she would have to ask him the next time he allowed questions. She reminded herself that he did not think like her. There would be some things she probably would never be able to understand.
There was no mystery in the bondage. It was all too clear her bound and helpless body excited him. The adventure this morning, making her walk out in the desert stripped and shackled, blindfolded, was primarily for his enjoyment, of that she had no doubt. She smiled at the thought. At least that was something very easy for her to do. Being open, exposed and vulnerable, powerless, was simple. She couldn’t move except as he allowed, so she didn’t have to think about it. If her wrists were locked behind her back she didn’t have to worry about where he wanted her hands. If her ankles were chained together she knew to stand still until he told her where to go. Even that first night in the desert, when he had found her at her car, it really hadn’t been difficult for her to follow his commands after the single moment of panic at being discovered.
She looked down at her feet. She had forgotten her stance again. Immediately she spread her legs to take up the slack in the chain, so that she stood in the circle with her feet as far apart as was possible for her. At least she had caught it in time, before he came in. From his look and tone of voice the last time she could tell he was disappointed when she forgot his instructions. That was another clue as to his temperament. He was rigorous in his rules, and he noticed the details. He would expect her to get it right every time, and wouldn’t be impressed by weak excuses. Sue Ann nodded, that would be good for her. She wasn’t conscientious at self-discipline. She did better when someone else set the goals or deadlines.
She heard the door opening and turned to face it while kneeling. She kept her eyes lowered, hands on her knees, and as he had ordered her legs apart. She faced the door but made sure she was within the circle on the floor, her boundary line. He came in the door, leaving it open behind him, and stopped in front of her. He said nothing as he walked around her once. Sensing it was his usual inspection, she didn’t move.
He reached out and lifted up her chin with one hand, so that she faced him, eye to eye. “You are extraordinarily perceptive, Sue Ann. You have presented yourself exactly as I instructed. And you kept within my prior orders to you. I knew you would be the one for me. Now, hands behind your back.” He let go of her chin and went behind her as she obeyed, placing her hands behind her. His words of praise warmed her as she felt the handcuffs on her wrists.
“Stand up” came the expected command. His hands were on her arm, lifting her up and keeping her steady as she rose with some difficulty, unable to use her arms as a balance. “I have lunch ready for us. It’s warmed up outside so we’ll eat in the living room.” He started toward the open door, as usual leading her. She tried to remember if she had permission to speak but being unsure decided to remain silent. They went down the hall and into the living room.
The Dining Room
The dining table was already set for two places. He stopped in front of one chair and pulled it out, but did not tell her to sit down. Instead he turned her to face him. She looked up momentarily, unsure what he was doing, and then quickly dropped her eyes when she saw his face.
“Look at me” he commanded in a quiet yet stern voice. He took hold of her upper arms with his hands, pulling her close as she lifted her eyes. He caught her by surprise, bending down and kissing her full on the lips, his hands pulling her body close to him in a tight embrace. She closed her eyes and melted against him, swept away by the passion of the moment. Without thinking she tried to put her arms around him but her bound wrists did not allow it. She didn’t even notice.
He held her close for a long moment, and then backed her up, his hands still firmly gripping her upper arms. He turned her around and unlocked the cuffs. “This is your place, sit here and wait for me while I bring in the food.” Sue Ann sat down at the table, still dazed from his sudden display of affection. He went into the kitchen, giving her time to recover. She turned to watch him as he gathered up some bowls. She folded her hands in her lap, mindful of his instructions that morning at breakfast.
He placed a salad bowl on the table first, and then returned with a plate of sandwiches, grilled cheese by appearances and the delicious aroma. He sat down next to her and began dishing out the salad. He placed one sandwich on her plate, and two on his. Then he stopped, watching her intently.
The food looked appetizing. She was getting hungry, and was glad it wasn’t squab. He did not go in for exotic meals, for which she said a silent prayer of thanks. She looked at him, mindful she must wait for permission before eating. He picked up her fork, speared a piece of lettuce, and held it up for her. “Eat” he ordered. She ate the lettuce off the fork, careful not to move her hands in her lap. He put the fork on her plate.
“You may eat, and you have permission to speak.” He took a bite out of one sandwich and began on his salad. She noticed that the handcuffs were plainly visible to his side on the table, just as they had been at breakfast.
“Thank you, sir. May I have some salad dressing?” she asked. There was a cart with several bottles of salad dressing sitting on the table. He passed the cart to her. She began eating, unsure as to what she could talk about. She would let him start.
“You have two assignments this afternoon,” he told her. She looked up at him as she ate. “First, we have to get your measurements. No, not your dress and shoe size. This will take longer. I’ll explain what it’s for at another time.”
“Yes, sir. Is there anything I need to do to prepare first?” She was more confused than apprehensive, curious as to what measurements he wanted.
“No, it’s actually very simple, but it takes some time. I want to take measurements of key points on your body. All you have to do is stand or sit, I’ll do the rest.” He took another bite out of his sandwich. It sounded like he was going to make or order something tailored to fit her, but she couldn’t imagine what it might be.
“Your second assignment will be to do some shopping.” She brightened at that, but again had no idea what he had planned. She certainly couldn’t go to a mall or the grocery store without the risk of being recognized. And somehow she didn’t think he would be sending her to the store with her legs shackled together. “I want you to go through some catalogs and pick out a wardrobe. I have prepared a list of the items you may consider, and some guidelines as to the style. You are free to choose within those limits. I will review your choices and place an order online for the items I approve. Until then you will have to make do with the clothes I have already obtained for you. By the way, how well does that blouse and skirt fit?”
“Yes, sir, I enjoy shopping for clothes, even if it is a catalog,” she answered, pleased he would allow her some clothing, and that she could pick them out. She wondered what his guidelines would be. “These clothes are my size, the skirt fits well but the blouse is too big. This particular brand I usually order one size smaller. May I ask what some of your requirements will be?” Sue Ann finished her salad and began on the sandwich.
He laughed, “that’s why I’m letting you make up the list. I got the sizes off the clothes you left in the trunk of your car that first night. I only got a few things for you myself, I figured you could do a better job.
“For the most part I want you to pick out some casual clothes, similar to what you have on now, but you may choose something more to your own taste. Try to keep to solid colors, sleeveless or short sleeve, and hemline no more than a few inches above or below the knee. Something that would be more appropriate in an office than a nightclub. If you see something special I may make an exception, you are allowed to ask.” He paused, “oh yes, skirt or dress only, no pants or shorts. Don’t be concerned about anything for cold weather.”
“Yes, sir. Anything else I should look for?” She was pleasantly surprised. She had half expected miniskirts, see through blouses, and high heels would be all she could select. Instead he had been very conservative; it wasn’t too different from what she would normally pick out for herself.
“Yes, at various times I will require you to dress for dinner, something more formal. I have the particulars written down but in general you should look for full ankle length dresses, and sleeves may be longer. You will be required to wear earrings, and you may put something in your hair if you like. No other type of jewelry is allowed, at any time. You can pick out matching shoes and whatever else you may need to go with it. Think of it as a semi-formal occasion, as if you were going to one of the better restaurants.”
Sue Ann was impressed. He knew exactly what he wanted and had taken the time to detail it for her. He must have worked on his guidelines for several hours to come up with something so specific. It would still be a challenge to find something that met his preferences but in a way it was easier for her. She wouldn’t have to guess at what he preferred.
His semi-formal dinner sounded intriguing. Dinner for her had usually been take out or throw something in the microwave, then plop down in front of the TV still dressed in work clothes. She knew she should eat better but never seemed to have the willpower to actually do anything about it. She hoped he had planned for one of those dinners soon; she was looking forward to it.
“One last restriction, and this is an important one. Whatever you pick out must not have any pockets, none whatsoever, not even fake ones that are sewn shut. I won’t make any exceptions.”
“Yes, sir, I understand.” That struck her as odd. “May I ask the reason why?”
He didn’t answer immediately. She guessed he was considering if he should explain. She was concerned for a moment that she might have irritated him but he didn’t seem upset by her question.
“I want you to look to me for anything you need. I am going to encourage your dependency on me in every way I can think of. If you do not have pockets, you cannot easily carry anything, except in your hands. You have to depend on me to carry it for you.
“The second reason is, if you put something in a pocket you are concealing it from me. That I will not allow, not even symbolically. Remember that, Sue Ann, I will not tolerate lies, deceit, half-truths, or holding back. Your first duty to me is to be obedient, but your second duty is to be open to me at all times. And I don’t mean just sexually, I mean open your emotions, thoughts, feelings, and intuitions, show them to me. I will be very disappointed, and angry, if you do not do that. To do my job, meet my obligations to you, I must know what’s going on in your head.”
She could tell he meant it, by the way he stared at her and the emphasis in the way he spoke. He was right in that she would only hurt herself if she held back from him, though she would never have linked pockets on a dress to such an abstract idea. In any case picking clothes with no pockets wasn’t really a major burden. Thinking back, she couldn’t remember a time when she used them anyway. She usually kept everything in her purse, so nothing would get lost or misplaced.
They both finished their meal at the same time. He picked up the plates and took them to the kitchen. She watched him, hands folded in her lap. It didn’t seem right that he cleared the table, she felt she should be doing it, but he had not asked her. He came back and sat down at the table.
“Sir? Would you like for me to clear the table and clean up the kitchen from now on?”
“Not today, no, but you will take over running the house in the future. For the next few days you are on vacation.” He smiled at her. “You won’t be doing all the cooking though. I like to cook so we’ll share that particular chore.”
For the next hour they sat at the table, going over how she would be responsible for the house, alterations she could make, and what he wanted to remain unchanged. As they worked on what her household tasks would be, she found he listened to her, asked questions, and even changed his original plans to incorporate her suggestions. When they disagreed he would override her idea but usually explained the reason behind his decision. She liked that, he was not being heavy-handed by summarily dismissing her input out of hand. A few times he would not explain his choice, but those times were rare. She realized that he would not be entirely forthcoming if an explanation would interfere with some of his other plans for her.
She was in the middle of a question when he held up a hand to stop her. “That’s enough for now, we’ll work out more of the details later. We have to get you started on your assignments for today.” He stood up and went behind her chair. “Stand up,” he ordered and pulled back her chair as she rose. He gestured to the side of the table, directing her where to stand. She took a few steps away from the table. Those steps reminded her that she still had her ankles chained together. She had forgotten about the shackles, being engrossed in their conversation. As she turned to face him she remembered to stand with her legs apart. She saw his eyes glance down, checking. He didn’t comment as he pushed her chair back against the table but she was pleased, as much that he had noticed as that she had not forgotten.
“Turn around, hands behind your back” came the by now familiar order. As she obeyed she saw him pick up the handcuffs off the table. She heard the ratcheting sound as they opened, then again as he closed them around her wrists. “This way” he said as he took hold of her arm and headed toward the hallway. He stopped at the same bedroom door and opened it, leading her in, directing her to the circle on the floor. The folding chair was still there from before lunch. Holding onto her arm he positioned her facing away from the chair this time. “Stand in the circle, do not leave it or turn around, face the wall.” He let go of her arm and walked out the door. She heard him close it.
This must be her first assignment, his measurements as he called them. It was only a few minutes before the door opened again. She heard him enter, place something on the chair, then he was behind her, kneeling as he unlocked the leg irons around her ankles. Standing he removed the handcuffs as well, and then came around to her side where she could see him.
“Remove all your clothing, fold and place it on the bed, then resume the same position in the circle. You do not have permission to speak except to answer questions.”
Sue Ann began removing her blouse, followed by skirt and socks. As she folded them she could see he had placed a laptop computer on the chair and was typing in something while she got ready. She finished quickly and went back to the circle, facing away from him. She heard some keystrokes, then he was at her side with a cloth measuring tape in his hand.
“I want you to stand very still as I take some measurements. I’m sure you are curious as to why I’m doing this. You will find out soon. Hold out your right arm.” For the better part of an hour he recorded virtually every dimension of her body, even to the lengths of her fingers and toes. As he took each reading he would enter it in the laptop. Sometimes he would repeat, she assumed he was verifying the more important ones. It was difficult for her to stand passively as he handled her breasts, or when he began measuring around and below her waist. He had her stand with legs spread, hands behind her neck, then kneeling, then on the floor face down, and finally face up with her legs and arms fully extended, almost a spread-eagle position.
“That’s it, you may put your clothes back on. Stand in the circle and face me when you are done.” He sat down in the chair, working on the laptop, but she noticed he kept looking up at her as she dressed. When it came to putting on the socks she started to sit on the bed, then stopped as she remembered it was off limits. She sat down on the floor to put them on, then stood inside the circle, watching him at work on the computer. She couldn’t see the screen but he seemed to be satisfied when he turned it off and closed the lid. If he kept to his lunchtime plan then her next assignment would be catalog shopping.
He stood up, placing the laptop carefully on the chair so it wouldn’t fall. “Hold out your hands,” he ordered, while picking up the handcuffs from where he had dropped them on the bed. She presented her wrists to him, slightly apart, with palms facing each other. He fastened the cuffs on, this time double locking them. She watched as he held her wrists, using a key to secure the double lock. It looked like she would have to go through the catalogs with handcuffs on but that wouldn’t be so difficult. The way he insisted on restricting her explained much about his personality. For the foreseeable future her choice in jewelry would be cold steel. He put the key back in his pocket, then suddenly jerked her wrists up over her head while pushing her back against the rear wall. He used his body to pin her, one hand holding her bound hands high above her head, the other on her neck, under her chin. He had moved so quickly she was still reacting as he kissed her hard, his hand around her throat.
“Look at me” he commanded, his voice low, almost a growl. Startled at his sudden ferocity, confused by the surge of emotion and desire within her she obeyed him without thinking, staring into his eyes, feeling the barely restrained power projecting from him. “Who is your master? Answer me, now.” His stare was so intense, her eyes were locked to his, holding her as surely as the strength in his arms.
Sue Ann heard someone saying “you are. You are my master, my only master.” Dimly she knew it was her own voice, but she couldn’t seem to focus clearly on what was happening. Her whole body seemed to be growing weaker, she could hardly stand, much less struggle in his iron grip. And his eyes, she couldn’t look away, even if he didn’t have hold of her neck. Then that hand went down to her breast as he kissed her once again, even more passionately. He squeezed her nipple, hard, almost painful. She heard a quiet moaning escape around his kiss, vaguely knew it was her own. Her leg was raised, rubbing against his as her body seemed to melt into him.
And then he stopped, backing up but still holding her against the wall. He gave her a moment to recover, catch her breath, then lowered her wrists and let them go. She looked at him, wide-eyed. Once again he had caught her unawares, but she was even more surprised at how she had responded. Domination was no longer the abstract concept she had seen in discussions on the Internet. In one brief moment he had stripped away her veneer of cool detachment, forced her to see herself as she truly was, his possession, his slave, unable to deny him anything he demanded from her.
“Are you okay?” he asked, genuine concern showing on her face. He kept one hand on her upper arm, as if to catch her should she faint.
“Yes sir, I’ll be alright. Please give me one moment.” She felt warm, she was sure her face was flushed. She reached up to brush away a loose strand of hair from her face, being careful not to hit herself with the handcuffs on her wrists.
She looked up at him once again, standing close to her, holding on to her arm. She wanted him; even her body was telling her what she already knew. Her hardened nipples were rubbing against the blouse, and the dampness between her legs was no surprise. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She didn’t know why he was waiting to claim her, but it was his decision to make. “I’m ready sir, do you want me to start the next assignment?”
“I have a room fixed up as an office for you. Let’s go.” Still holding onto her upper arm he headed for the door. He picked up the leg irons off the bed as he went by. She had thought he would have put them on her right away but apparently he had other plans. They went out into the hall and across to another door. When he opened the door she saw a room of about the same dimensions as the bedroom but this one had a desk, some filing cabinets, and a chair. There were several catalogs on the desk.
“Sit down and you can get started. You will find paper and pen in the desk. Under the catalogs is a print out of your guidelines, the details of what you are looking for. Read my instructions first, then leaf through the catalogs to get an idea of what each one has. After you do that, then I want you to make a list of what you would like to order. You can make a note of anything I forgot that you think you might need. When you are done I’ll go through your list and order the items I approve.” He pulled out the office chair and held it for her while she sat down.
“I have some things I need to do, so I will leave you alone while you work on this. You can take your time. If you don’t finish today you can work on it tomorrow. However, I must insist you stay here till I return.” He knelt down next to her and locked one end of the leg irons around her right ankle. The other end he fastened to a metal ring embedded in the floor underneath the desk. Standing up he opened the top desk drawer and took out a small black box, with one button and a small light on top. “If you need me, push the button, I won’t be very far away. Is there anything you are not clear about?”
“No, sir, I believe I have everything I need. I can page you if I don’t understand something in your guidelines?” She briefly considered asking if he would take off the handcuffs while she worked, but thought better of it. She could manage even though it would be clumsy.
“Yes, for anything you might need, don’t hesitate. Hold up your hands.” He took a key out of his pocket and removed her handcuffs. “No point in scratching up the desk. Okay, you get started, and I’ll be looking in on you every so often.” He reached out to stroke her hair once, then turned and went out the door, closing it behind him.
She watched him leave, already missing his presence when she turned to her task. She moved the catalogs to one side and picked up his printout first. It described the number and types of outfits she should look for, and his restrictions on the style. She had a good idea of what he was looking for, so she opened the first catalog and started looking through the women’s wear section. She took a piece of paper out of the desk drawer and began making a few notes about items to look at again.
Every time she shifted in the chair she felt the tug of the leg chain, reminding her of her status. She stopped and looked under the desk. Below the bottom shelf on the floor was an unobtrusive ring that could fold down when not in use. Right now it was upright, with one of the leg cuffs through it, anchoring her to the desk area. Standing up, she pulled on the chain to test the length. It came out far enough for her to stand next to the desk but that was all, far short of the door, but she could reach the filing cabinets. A quick check showed the cabinets were empty; apparently they were for her use.
Was he watching her right now? She looked around, up at the ceiling. No sign of a camera, but she had yet to find any. Despite the lack of evidence she was sure he could see her. Just from the short time she had known him it made sense he would be watching over her constantly. She sat back down in the chair and straightened her leg, looking at the gleaming steel cuff encircling her ankle. She smiled, thinking of all the jokes at work about being chained to her desk. Never in her wildest daydreams had she ever thought it might actually come true. Meanwhile she still had her assignment. Even if he hadn’t set a time limit she should be working on it.
She turned the page on the catalog in front of her, looking at pictures of what the labels called “classic” fashions. She had not bought any long dresses for herself; somehow she associated it with being old-fashioned. Now that she didn’t have a choice she paid more attention to the models and found some actually did look attractive. She made a note of the pages and the category. She closed her eyes, trying to imagine what she would look like in some of the outfits.
Jim Peters watched her turn back to the catalogs on the monitor in the machine shop. He was glad to see how well she was adjusting. No hysterics, no attempts to fight him or escape. Most surprising was how she reacted to being kept in chains. Not once had she demanded he take them off. Not that he would have anyway, but he had expected her to at least ask or hint in some way. He turned back to his project, checking the mechanical measurements against her computer database. Both items should fit perfectly, with just a few more finishing touches. She might be expecting the one in his hand now, but the other would be unexpected.
He hefted the object in his hand, light for its size and composition. Titanium was expensive and difficult to work with, but the results would be worth it. Titanium was lighter than steel, stronger than aluminum, and chemically inert too; it wouldn’t discolor or cause a reaction against her skin. The two items he had made for her would have been cost prohibitive to produce commercially, both because of the labor involved and the materials cost. This represented a labor of love so the investment wasn’t important. That phrase, ‘labor of love’ was ironic in this case. He would have to remember to mention it to her.
On the monitor she was diligently going through the catalogs, compiling her wardrobe. He thought that it would be interesting to see her selections and how well she followed his instructions. Over time he would relax some of his restrictions, but for now he wanted to see how well she did within highly structured rules. Jim was still amazed at how fast she had progressed. He had been prepared for a power struggle lasting for several weeks, where she would be argumentative or at least uncooperative, fighting against his assertive control. Most of his planning had been how to counter all the resistance he had expected. Instead she had adapted to her new life with unexpected speed, leaving him scrambling to keep up. His plan called for the items on the workbench to be ready before she was out of the confinement room, but her responses had forced him to accelerate his schedule, moving her into the small bedroom last night.
From the angle of the hidden camera he could just make out the shackle on her ankle. It wasn’t really necessary for security as the door to the room was locked from the outside. He still wasn’t certain about trusting her not to run off or explore on her own. And aside from the rationalizing he preferred to see her in chains. He had expected some protests, or at least questions or requests to take them off, but so far she had said nothing about it, even when he gave her the opportunity. After he had left her alone she had tested the leg chain once, and then seemed to ignore it after that. He had been watching her constantly on the monitor, glancing at it every few minutes. She had stood a few times, stretching, but did not appear distressed at being chained to the desk.
During the test earlier that morning, the walk in the desert, she had shown no hesitation even though he had deliberately made it as difficult as possible by forcing her to strip, then restraining and blinding her. He had expected some signs of panic when he left her standing alone, but she had surprised him by waiting calmly. This evening would be the final test, when she saw the items he had made for her. If she had a positive reaction then he could relax some of his precautions. Still, he thought, better to err on the cautious side.
He decided to take a break and see how she was doing. He took off the overalls, stained from the machine cutting oil, and cleaned his hands. Before checking on her he went out to the kitchen and cut up two chilled apples, putting the slices in a bowl. He headed back to her work room and unlocked the door. When he entered she turned and started to stand.
“No, sit down. I thought you might like a short break. I hope you like fruit, I fixed an apple.” He set the bowl of apple slices on top of the filing cabinet.
“Thank you, sir. Would you like to see what I’ve found so far?” She started to turn back to the catalogs.
“In a moment, first I want you to face the wall and put your hands palm down on the desk.” She did as he ordered, placing her hands flat on the desktop, after pushing the catalogs to the side. “Listen carefully and do exactly as I tell you. You may not raise or move your hands until I give you permission. Touch the tips of your thumbs together, and keep them in that position. Keep your eyes on the spot where your thumbs come together, do not look up or to the side. And no matter what, do not move your hands. Do you understand?”
“Yes, sir,” she answered. She could feel him standing behind her, his hands on the back of the chair. Her gaze was focused on her hands, flat on the desk, fingers slightly spread, her thumbs barely touching. Then his hands were on her bare shoulders. She could feel the warmth of his breath on her neck as he leaned down.
“Sit quietly, don’t fidget, you do not have permission to speak. Do not move your hands.” He whispered quietly in her ear, barely audible, but loud enough for her to understand. Once again she felt captivated by his voice, calm, low, but deliberate, each word carefully chosen for her. His hands slowly glided down her arms, sending tingles through her. He stopped at her wrists, his hands around them, gripping her firmly. She felt the strength in that grip, knowing she could never break away from it. Then his hands were over hers, pressing them down against the desktop.
He stood up and picked up the bowl of apple slices. Setting it down in front of her, he picked up a slice and held it in front of her mouth. “Eat,” he commanded. She took a bite out of it. The apple was delicious, cold and juicy. He took one for himself too. As he alternately fed her and himself he continued. “Here is the plan for the rest of this afternoon. I have a project I need to finish while you work on your assignment.” He gestured toward the books on the desk. “After I’m done we’ll stop for dinner. I’m cooking tonight but you will keep me company in the kitchen. Before dinner I have another task for you, but we’ll discuss it then. After dinner we can relax for a while, maybe watch a movie. Any questions? You have permission to speak.”
Sue Ann finished taking another apple slice from his hand, thinking about his plans for the rest of the day. “Sir, for dinner tonight? Is there anything I can do to help? Will this be one of the semi-formal occasions? Is there something you want me to do before we eat?” She had just finished picking out several of the long dresses, according to his guidelines. “Also, sir, I have some questions about these.” She nodded toward his printout on the desk.
“Save your questions for later. You can tell me about what you’ve found over dinner.” He thought for a minute. “Yes, I would like this to be one of those occasions. I did obtain a proper dress for you and a few other things, but I’m not sure if it fits. You can try it on, and if it’s not right we’ll do something else. After I get dinner in the oven you can have some time to get ready.” He picked up the empty bowl. “I’ll be back soon. Meanwhile, you continue and if you need anything you can call me with the pager. You have permission to move your hands. Are there any questions you need to ask me now?”
“No sir, it can wait. Is it okay if I stand up once in a while? Also, you should know I opened the filing cabinet and looked inside.” She couldn’t remember him telling her not to stand or touch the filing cabinet, but thought he should know in case he disapproved.
“Yes, it’s okay to stand but be careful and don’t fall. The filing cabinet and this desk are for your use. This room will be your office from now on. I already have a computer for you too. The wiring and the rest of the furniture aren’t ready yet. Remind me and I’ll tell you about it tonight. Anything else?” He turned toward the door.
“No, sir. I’ll continue with this until you return.” He went out the door, shutting it behind her. She looked around the room once again, this time seeing it as her office now. That explained the empty wall plate and space against the wall. It was just the right size for a personal computer workstation. She had been concerned that he wouldn’t allow her to use a computer. She hated working with pen and paper, a word processor was so much faster and easier. It also explained the presence of the retaining ring on the floor, the one that kept her tethered to the desk. It seemed that when he gave her tasks to do in here she wouldn’t have any problems with the self-discipline needed to get it done. He would make sure she kept to her assignment. She tugged on the leg chain again. She decided she liked it, in an odd way it symbolized how he cared for her.
Jim headed right back to the workshop. He had a few finishing touches on the two items for tonight. Entering the shop he went to the monitor first, to check on her. She had another catalog open, slowly paging through it. He picked up the smaller object on the bench, wiping it clean. Except for the tag this one was done. The slightly yellowish tinge of the polished titanium alloy gleamed in the light. He set it down on a clean cloth and got out the epoxy glue mix, setting it next to the small coin sized radio frequency tracking tag. A clever invention, a small electronic device that was powered as it approached a sensor, then sent back a digital serial number, all wireless and very low powered, a range of only a few feet. He had wired the transmitters in the ceiling of most of the rooms, then experimented by carrying the tag around in his pocket. The computer had accurately tracked his every move, noting location and time of day whenever he entered or left one of the connected rooms. The device had no batteries, theoretically it could operate indefinitely. He mixed the epoxy and mounted the tag to the back of the item, on a small flat area he had machined in for just this purpose.
The larger item still needed a few adjustments. He checked the database of her measurements one more time, comparing it against the waistband. He would have to expand it by about half an inch. Fortunately he had made the original design with size adjustment in mind. He took down a mallet and punch from the tool wall. The adjusting segments used pins, so he could add an extra one on each side by knocking out the pin and adding in an extra segment. The waistband had to be an exact fit to work properly. The rest of the adjustments he had finished before the break.
While he worked he watched her on the monitor. He still couldn’t believe his good fortune in finding someone like her. She was proving to be everything he dreamed of in a lifetime companion. On the monitor she stood and lazily stretched, then sat back down. She had to know there were cameras and he was watching her, but she didn’t seem to be self-conscious about it. Was she attracted to him as much as he was to her? It was difficult to tell, but the times he had caught her off guard, how she had not pulled away, were good signs and he felt encouraged by it. Then there was the speed at which she adapted to being under his control, even to actively cooperating in how she broadly interpreted his orders and applied them to new situations. He couldn’t understand her mindset but he had no reason to doubt it was genuine.
He checked the time, then began cleaning and polishing the waistband. He wanted to have everything ready before he took her out of her office room. There should be enough time to finish in the shop and clean up before he started dinner. Once this last item was done he had to box them before he got out the dinner clothes for her. He looked at the monitor again. She was looking through a catalog again. He figured she was probably done with her assignment and keeping busy.
He completed his work in the shop, cleaned up the work area, and packaged the items. He took them to the small bedroom and put them in a cabinet just outside the door. He took out the dinner dress and a pair of earrings he had picked out for her, carrying them into the room and placing them in the closet. The handcuffs he had been using were still on the bed. He picked them up and went to get Sue Ann, closing the bedroom door on his way out.
He opened the office door. She turned to face him, a smile on her face showing she was happy he had come back for her. “We’ll start dinner now. I want you to sit in the kitchen while I get the food started. Stand up and face the wall, hands behind your back.” The handcuffs were in his hand. Without a word she stood up and waited quietly while he locked her wrists behind her back. He knelt down and reached under the desk to unlock the leg cuff in the retaining ring. He left the right side cuff on her ankle and locked the left side to her other leg. Standing up he took hold of her arm. “Okay, let’s go out to the kitchen.”
Sue Ann followed as he led her to the kitchen. He put her in the same kitchen chair from breakfast, but this time her hands were behind the back of the chair. While she watched he opened a bag of potatoes and put several on the counter, then proceeded to peel them in the sink. “I’m going to fix a favorite of mine, cheese potatoes, something like a casserole. Do you like different kinds of cheese?”
“Yes sir,” she answered, “Cheddar of course, and mozzarella, Monterey Jack, all kinds.” She shifted in the chair, trying to find a comfortable position with her hands behind her.
He stopped peeling the potatoes, staring at her. Had she done something, said something? Was he angry with her? She was about to ask when he put the potato peeler down and came over to her. Starting with the top button he undid her blouse slowly, while looking directly into her eyes. He stopped at the skirt, pausing before he pushed back the open portion of the blouse over her shoulders, exposing her breasts. She was acutely aware of her bound hands, her inability to stop what he was doing to her. He went back to the sink and continued preparing the food.
“Sir, may I ask a question?”
He rinsed off the potatoes and began slicing them. “Go ahead, but remember I may not give you an answer.”
“Yes sir. May I know why you did this, took off my blouse?”
He took down a casserole dish from a cupboard and began lining it with potato slices. He didn’t answer immediately, concentrating on mixing the cheeses in the dish. He turned to look at her. “Because I can, and because I wanted to look at you. Because you can’t stop me. Think of it as a lesson, Sue Ann. Anytime, anywhere, no matter what you are doing, in public or in private, first and foremost you belong to me and you will do whatever I tell you.” He continued to layer potatoes and cheese in the dish.
She twisted her wrists inside the handcuffs. He was right about not stopping him, but she liked to think even without her hands being bound she would not have tried to resist. He didn’t seem to understand she was more than willing to do anything he asked; he certainly did not have to force her. “Sir, another question?” With some difficulty she reached around with her cuffed hands so he could see them. “Why must I wear these?”
He turned to face her, but didn’t answer. Had it been a mistake to ask that last question? Was he going to punish her for it? Suddenly worried, she lowered her eyes, not looking directly at him.
“Strictly speaking, you must wear them because you can’t take them off. At least not without this.” He held up a handcuff key and laughed. “But to answer your question, you wear them as a reminder. A reminder you are not free to choose for yourself, that even your own body is mine to command. I think you already know better than to ask me to take those cuffs off, just from the way you phrased the question. Just so we are clear, don’t ever ask me to take off those handcuffs, or anything else I put on you.”
He finished the potato dish with a few spices on the top, covered it, and put the casserole in the oven to cook. “That should take at least an hour, which should be enough time to get you ready for dinner.” He pulled up her blouse but left it unbuttoned. “Stand up, we’ll go to the other room. I have something for you.”
“Stand in the circle, face the rear wall, eyes forward, you do not have permission to speak.” Sue Ann crossed into the circle on the carpet floor and did as he ordered. She stood very still, legs apart to the length of the chain on her ankles, hands locked behind her. He knelt, removed her leg chains, and then took off the handcuffs. “Remove your clothing and put them on the bed, then return to your same position.” She took off the blouse and skirt, carefully folding each one and placed them on the bed, checked that they were neatly arranged and then returned to the circle. She saw the box sitting on the folding chair and knew he had something planned, but she had no clue as to what it was.
“Hands behind your back.” That command she had heard so many times it was becoming an automatic reaction to hold her hands behind her for the cuffs.
She heard him open the box and the sound of metal on metal as he took something out. He was directly behind her so she couldn’t see what it was. “Spread your legs further apart.” His foot touched her right ankle. She changed her stance, widening the distance between her feet.
“More,” he ordered and she complied. What was he going to do?
The first clue came from the cool metal waistband as it touched her skin. It was some type of metallic belt, about two inches wide, just above her hips. He reached around her from behind and somehow hooked the ends of the band together. It was a close fit on her but not uncomfortable. It seemed to be lined with some kind of padded material. She could feel something hanging from the back. “Don’t move” he ordered as he came around to face her. She could see the smile on his face, whatever he was about to do he was enjoying immensely.
He reached down between her legs and pulled the rest of chastity belt up and over her sex, covering her tightly as he fastened the front metal shield to the waistband. She could feel two chains running back from the bottom of the shield to the rear of the belt. He locked the front together with an odd-shaped circular key, then stepped back to look at it. He checked the fit of the belt, along her waist and between her legs. Satisfied, he lifted up her chin so he could look in her eyes.
“In case you don’t know what this is, it’s called a chastity belt. That was the reason for the measurements. They have to be custom fitted, as you can see. The material is a titanium alloy, I made the belt myself from some plans. It is lighter and thinner than stainless steel but stronger, and titanium won’t irritate your skin. The lining is a type of foam padding used in medical prostheses, artificial legs and such. It’s durable and doesn’t cause an allergic reaction.” He reached down and pulled on the top front of the belt. “Everything locks here.” He held up the key. “This key opens it. This one is mine. There is only one key.” He did have a spare key in the safe, but thought he didn’t need to mention it to her.
“Turn around, face the chair.” She turned as he ordered, feeling the front cover rub against her as she moved. He took off the handcuffs then sat down in the chair. “Walk around the room, see how it fits. Tell me if it starts to pinch or chafe your skin.” She walked back and forth in front of him. Slowly she ran her hands around the waistband, moving it slightly. It was tight and didn’t allow much movement. Same for the front, it was close against her, rounded to fit her curves. There was a single long slot cut in the front. She could relieve herself without removing it, but it was too narrow for her fingers. The locking plate didn’t move at all. She couldn’t see any way to remove it, the band was too tight and stiff to slip over her hips.
Something snapped inside her head. She had to get it off, no matter what. She pulled at the belt, trying to separate the ends or somehow push it down and off. She could not give up this last bit of herself to him. Sue Ann could take the chains, even being deprived of clothes, but she could not surrender to him what this represented, the ultimate in sexual control. Frantically she tried to get it off.
“Please sir, take it off. I can’t wear this, don’t make me do it. Please sir.” She was so desperate she would even resort to begging him. She put one hand over the front, pressing against it. She couldn’t feel anything. She tried to get her fingers under it, from the side, but it fit much too closely.
“Stop it, right now. I’m not going to remove it.” His voice was stern, but she barely heard him. She was preoccupied with finding some way to get off this thing he had locked around her. She continued to pull at it, scratching her skin as she dug her fingers under the waistband. When he grabbed her wrist and dragged her toward the door it caught her by surprise.
He moved so fast she could barely keep from stumbling as he pulled her along the hallway. He stopped at a door and pulled open the locking bar across the door. Sue Ann trembled in fear, recognizing where she was, outside the room where he had first confined her. He threw open the door and roughly pulled her in after him, to the pole. While holding onto her wrist he reached into a rear pocket with his free hand and took out the handcuffs.
One cuff went around the wrist he was holding, and then he pulled her arm up to a ring on the pole, above her head. He threaded the open end of the handcuffs through the ring, then grabbed her other wrist and pulled it up, locking both together. She pulled at the cuffs, tears in her eyes. “Please sir, I’m sorry, but I can’t do this. Please, do anything you want, punish me, but don’t make me wear this belt.”
He grabbed her hair and pulled her head back. “Quiet! You are going to wear it, you can do it and you will. I don’t care how much you hate it; you are going to wear it. You can’t take it off, so get used to it. Do you understand? No matter what you say or do, it will stay on, and there’s nothing you can do about it.” He turned and went out the door, closing it behind him. She heard the bolt close across the door.
She looked up at her clenched fists locked to the pole above her head. He didn’t understand. She had to keep something for herself, some little bit of control over her life. He couldn’t see he was taking that last shred of dignity from her. This belt took away the most intimate part of her body and put it in his hands. It was humiliating; she would be reduced to begging him for sex, pleading with him to release her from the belt so she could be used.
She tested the cuffs holding her hands. There was no way she could get them off, she was stuck fast to this pole until he came back. She pressed up against the pole, between her legs. All she could feel was a slight pressure against her waist and groin. The belt did its job well, she was securely covered. Sue Ann jerked at the handcuffs again. She had to get the belt off.
Except she couldn’t. Even if her hands were free she knew the belt was on to stay. She leaned against the pole, quietly crying. She couldn’t face having to beg him, but she knew the longer she wore this belt, felt it pressing against her, reminding her that he now owned every bit of her, the more she would want him. Calling it a chastity belt was a cruel joke, for if it was intended to keep her free of lust it was having the opposite effect. She wasn’t strong enough to fight the need; sooner or later she would be reduced to pitiful begging, doing anything he asked to get him to open this belt and take her.
It had gone so well up to this point, she thought to herself. Now she was back in this room once again bound to the pole. And rightfully so, she knew it had been her fault; she deserved to be here. In one moment she had undone everything. She had disobeyed him, demanded he take the belt off, even yelled at him. All for nothing, she still wore the chastity belt, except now she was being punished for her attitude.
She looked up again at her hands, locked high above her head to the pole. She held onto the retaining ring for the cuffs, trying to give her arms some rest. Her shoulders were already aching from the strain. She shifted her weight from one foot to the other, trying to give her leg muscles a rest. At least he hadn’t tied her ankles. Looking down she could see the shiny metal shield covering her in front, between her legs. A barrier she could not remove without her master’s permission. With a shock she realized she literally could not have sex unless he allowed it. Erotic control was the phrase she had come across in her research. She hadn’t thought much about it, since she thought she would never be in a position where it would apply.
It was no longer some abstract theory she could ignore. Reality was the belt around her waist and between her legs, and the fact she could not hold back that last little bit from him. He wasn’t asking, he was taking, and she couldn’t stop him. She leaned the side of her head against the pole, softly crying again. She didn’t want to stop him, but she couldn’t admit to herself what that meant.
She stood up straight, wiping the tears on her arms. No more pretending. These past few days she had been playing out a fantasy, going along with him because it had been fun. The excitement of being captured and held by a strong attractive man had blinded her to the basics. Now she had to face the one fundamental question, could she surrender her life to this man, beyond any doubt give him unlimited control not just of her body but her mind? Could she let him in the deepest recesses where she kept all the fear and pain, the intimate secrets she never told anyone?
She was so lost in thought she didn’t hear the door until it swung open. She was startled at the sight of him coming in then, remembering where she was, stood up straight with her head down. She knew the answer to her questions. He owned her heart, body, mind, and soul. There would be no more doubts, no more holding back…and no more play-acting.
He could tell something had changed but wasn’t sure if it was for the better. She was calm, but did it come from resignation or something else? He took a handkerchief out of his pocket and wiped her face. “I’m sorry it had to be this way Sue Ann, but I could not let it pass. Do you understand how you forced my hand? No matter how close we become, there is a line neither of us can ever cross.
“This evening you crossed the line and so I had to bring you back. That’s my job, as your master. There is an absolute that will never change. I am the one in charge, the one who leads. You are the one who obeys, who follows my guidance.
“You have permission to speak.” She had been dreading those words, now she had to explain. She couldn’t hold back because she knew it was important he know everything.
She began by telling him why she had rebelled, the real reason behind it, how she hadn’t been serious before now, everything that had gone through her head. Once she started she couldn’t seem to stop. All through her speech he stood in front of her quietly, listening to what she told him. She was so intent on opening up to him she forgot all about being bound to the pole. It wasn’t until she finished that she realized how sore her arms were.
He reached up and unlocked the handcuffs, freeing her wrists. Relief was instantaneous when she was finally able to lower her arms. She rubbed her wrists where the cuffs had left marks. Her legs were stiff from standing still for so long. She hoped he would let her sit down soon.
He reached out and put his hands on her upper arms. “Look at me.” She heard the calm, soothing tone of voice and knew he wasn’t angry with her, but she was still too ashamed of what she had done to face him. He lifted up her chin so she had to look him in the eye. “Neither of us is perfect, Sue Ann. I have my demons to face as well. There will be a day I share them with you, but not tonight. Come on, let’s go back and finish. I still have some surprises for you. Don’t worry; I think you will like them.” He took her hand and led her out into the hall. He closed the door to the confinement room and took her back to the bedroom.
“Put your clothes on, see how they fit.” He gestured to her skirt and blouse on the bed. She put on the blouse first, then pulled the skirt on over the chastity belt. Like the belt the skirt’s waistband was just above her hips. It fit and she couldn’t see any telltale bulges to indicate what she had on underneath. She walked around to see if there were any problems.
“Excellent, not visible anywhere. You could wear it in public. Maybe not with jeans or shorts, but that won’t be a problem.” In public? There was no way she would wear this thing in public, someone was sure to see it and she would be so embarrassed. Though it was a good sign he was thinking about letting her go out. She didn’t miss that nuance. Then she remembered the lock on the belt. If he didn’t take it off she would have no choice but to wear it, in public or anywhere else.
He stood up and pointed to the chair. “Sit down, see how it feels.”
She sat in the chair. It wasn’t uncomfortable, but the front shield tended to force her legs slightly apart. She tried crossing her legs to see if the belt interfered.
“No!” came his swift response, “you do not cross your legs. I forbid it, no discussion. You will be punished if you ever do it again, no exceptions. You sit with legs together, ankles crossed. That’s the proper way, don’t ever forget it.” She jumped at the sudden change in his tone, quickly uncrossing her legs, caught by surprise at the ferocity of his reaction. There was no question in her mind he was inflexible on that rule. In any case it wouldn’t be practical with the belt on, the front shield dug uncomfortably into her thighs.
“Stand in the circle, I’m not done yet.” She stood up and went to her place on the floor once more. Every step she felt the belt holding her, pressing against her underneath the skirt, a tangible reminder of his ownership. “There is one more item for you, something special.” He put his hands on her shoulders, looking down at her face.
“I demand much from you, Sue Ann, your obedience, your submission to me, and I hope one day your love and affection. I may seem harsh, even cold and unemotional at times, but I want you to remember one thing, something of paramount importance.” He reached into the box and withdrew a brightly polished metal collar. He opened the back and placed it around her neck.
“As much as you belong to me, so I belong to you. I will not turn you away, or abandon you, or replace you with anyone else. We will be together for a lifetime, no matter what happens. This collar,” she could feel him doing something at the back of her neck, “is my promise to you that you will always be first in my heart, that I will do my best to love and care for you, provide for you, and never hurt you. Your place forever more will be at my side.” He took something small out of a pocket. “And your place will include being my wife as well as my slave.” He took her left hand and placed the ring on her finger, a gold engagement ring with a small diamond in the center.
She could feel the tears flowing down her face, tears of joy. Her arms went up and over his wide shoulders as he pulled her to him in a close embrace, tenderly kissing her. For the first time in her life she felt safe in surrendering to a man, to her master, trusting him with her life, knowing she had nothing to fear now or in the future.
He held her close for some time, stroking her hair as she clung to him. “Dinner is late but will be ready soon. You will find earrings in the bathroom, and I left some new clothes for you in the closet, a dress for dinner along with some other items you might need. I’ll leave you for now, so you can get ready. Dinner should be in about thirty minutes, I’ll come for you then.”
When he opened the door half an hour later she was waiting for him, standing inside her circle on the floor, facing the door. She had found the long black ankle length dress in the closet, along with the hose and heels he had put there. He noticed that she was wearing the earrings, small gold rings that matched the golden tinge of the collar around her neck. The engagement ring was prominent on her left hand. She stood straight, quietly, eyes down, awaiting his approval.
He was astonished at the change in her. She seemed to glow with life. As he walked around her she did not turn to follow him. He completed his inspection by stopping in front of her and reaching out, placing his hands at her waist. He could feel the metal waistband underneath. She looked up at him as he touched her, pride and devotion shining in her eyes. “Dinner is almost ready, let’s sit down at the table,” he told her, holding out his hand. She looked surprised for a moment, then took his hand. She seemed to move with a fluid grace as he took her out to the dining room, the only sound the soft rustle of her dress around her ankles.
He pulled out her chair and motioned for her to sit down, then pulled out his own chair. On the table were a fresh-tossed salad and a cart of salad dressings. Two bowls were stacked next to it. “We’ll start with the salad in just a minute. I have to take out the potatoes to cool first. As he went into the kitchen she turned to watch him. He took out the casserole dish and set it on a hot pad on the counter. On his way back he passed by the stereo in the living room and turned on some soft background music. She recognized it, classical, a concerto by Vivaldi. He lit a candle on the table and went to the wall to dim the overhead lights.
He sat down next to her and began dishing the salad into the bowls. He put the first bowl in front of her then prepared his own. She did not reach for her fork or the dressing, remembering that she must wait for his consent first. Instead she kept her hands in her lap, left hand over her right, so she could see the ring on her finger. She did shift slightly; it would take some time to learn how to sit while wearing the belt. He stopped, noticing her squirm, but continued as she sat silently. He picked up her fork, stabbed a bit of lettuce, and held it out to her.
“Eat,” he ordered. She ate off the fork, carefully keeping her hands in her lap. He put the fork down in her salad bowl and picked up his own. “You have permission to continue, and to speak” he told her before he began eating his own food.
“Thank you, sir. May I have some dressing?” At a nod from him she poured some dressing on her salad and began eating. “Sir, the music, I think I’ve heard it before, is it Vivaldi?” She took a sip of water from the glass on the table. The table was set with real porcelain china, a linen tablecloth, and cut crystal glasses. She saw that he had changed clothes too. Not a suit, but a clean shirt and slacks. The atmosphere was perfect, understated elegance. It was intimate and romantic, just the two of them.
“Yes it is, one of his lesser works, called La Cetra. I like to play it at dinner; it’s quiet and subdued, not as energetic as some of his better known chamber music. Good for the digestion,” he smiled.
She twisted again in the chair. “Sorry sir, I’m not accustomed to sitting with the belt on. Once I’m used to it I won’t wiggle so much.”
“I understand. Don’t worry about it, Sue Ann, wiggle as much as you need. You look beautiful in that dress. I hope it fits okay? As you know I had to guess on dress and shoe sizes.”
“Thank you sir, dinner is so wonderful, I’m glad you decided to make it more formal tonight, as it is a special occasion.” She held up her left hand and the ring. “May I ask why you decided we should marry?”
“I’ll answer that as soon as I get our main course.” He rose and went to the kitchen with their empty salad bowls, returning with the cheese potato casserole. He dished out a portion for each of them, then sat back down.
“I have asked you to make a lifelong commitment to me, Sue Ann. You agreed, and here you are. I wanted to show you that I am dedicated to making this work too. I know we will have conflicts in the future. Whatever they will be, they will not separate us. That ring you wear is my promise to you that we will be man and wife. It won’t happen right away, but when I think it is safe for you to venture out then we will get married.”
The conversation lulled as they ate dinner, both lost in thought. His marriage proposal had been so unexpected she still didn’t know what to make of it. No, she thought, not a proposal. He had informed her of his decision, not asked her. It wasn’t necessary to answer yes or no, he had already chosen for her. And he would pick the date too. As it should be, she realized. He was an extraordinary man, someone she would never have found in her previous life.
He was still dumbfounded at how fast she had changed. He had no concerns about her running away now; he could see in her every move and word how she had surrendered to him. The moment he had seen her, calmly standing in her circle, standing proudly with his collar securely fixed around her neck, he knew he had won her heart. Now would be the most difficult phase of all, keeping her.
A year later, long after the world had forgotten about Sue Ann Mendel, a car pulled into the parking lot of the county building in a remote Nevada desert town. A man got out, went around and opened the car door for a woman. She was dressed very conservatively in a knee length business suit and jacket, with a wide scarf tied around her neck. The couple went into the tiny marriage bureau and asked the clerk for a marriage license. The bored clerk watched as they filled out the forms, noticing how she handed her form to him after she finished and his nod of approval after he read it. James Peters and Susan Mendez were the names the clerk typed on the license. The man picked the papers up, read them over as his bride to be looked on, and then asked the clerk where to find the marriage commissioner. The clerk directed him to the Justice of the Peace down the hall and returned to her desk. She was always pleased at seeing a couple so much in love getting married, but thought it strange he didn’t at least show his bride the marriage license.
Later that day the secretary for the Justice of the Peace came in and over lunch she told the clerk about how a very nice couple, well-dressed and polite, had gotten married, but just before the civil ceremony the bride had asked the J.P. to include “honor and obey” in the vows. The secretary swore that under the woman’s scarf she could see what looked like some kind of metal choker or collar. Even stranger, after the ceremony, as they were leaving the secretary had asked the wife where they planned on going next. She had enigmatically replied “I think he wants us to spend a night in the desert.”