When Kelli came out of the classroom she was surprised to see Matt standing behind the Warden at the door. He immediately took hold of her arm and led her away from the group, out of the way of the exiting guests. She started to say hello but caught herself just in time. Unless there was some pressing need she should not initiate a conversation with any of the men.
“Face the wall, hands behind your back.” She obeyed without hesitation. The handcuffs went on immediately. The cuffs were snug but not too tight; he didn’t make an exception for her. She could feel his fingers as he carefully checked the fit. A thrill went through Kelli as she caught her breath. This was the first time Matt had been the one to restrain her. She was finally under his direct control, helpless, hands bound, required to obey his every order. And he might have the key to her chastity belt.
He offered no explanation as to why he was there or where he was taking her. She knew better than to ask. Unless he directed a question at her she had to remain silent. He was still a Warden; she had rules to follow. She had to bite her lip to keep from talking. There were so many things she wanted to tell him.
He took her through the corridor in the opposite direction from the rest of her classmates, finally stopping in a small room with only a table and a chair. On the wall there was a dress on a hanger. Below on the floor was a pair of tennis shoes and thick white athletic socks. She recognized them; they had come from her closet. Was she being released? It didn’t seem like enough time had passed.
He stopped her in front of her clothes. Standing behind her he released her hands as he ordered, “Get dressed and put on those shoes. When you are finished, face the wall.”
“Yes sir.” That was all she could get away with. Maybe he would let her talk later.
Matt stepped back and sat on the table, watching her while she slipped on the dress. When she knelt down to put on her shoes she caught a glimpse of his best impersonal Warden expression. She got the message. Whatever was about to happen they were both still operating under standard procedures. After putting on her shoes she stood up and turned to the wall, arms loose at her sides.
She heard Matt open a drawer in the table. “Face me,” came his next command. When she turned around he had a heavy leather belt in his hand. In the center was a large metal ring. He reached forward and wrapped the belt around her waist. The buckle appeared to lock as he pushed in a button on the top. She could see a slot in the top for a small key. The belt was a tight fit, encircling her waist where it narrowed above her hips so it wouldn’t slip down. She could feel the weight of the ring in the back.
When he reached behind his back she knew what was coming. Her wrists were cuffed behind her back again, but this time the connecting chain was threaded through the belt ring. Her hands were pinned to the small of her back.
“Kneel on the chair.” He held onto her as she knelt on the chair he pulled out. Reaching into the open drawer again he came out with a set of leg chains. She felt them go around her ankles. At least she had some padding with the socks on.
“Stand up.” Matt held onto her arm as it was awkward to stand with her legs chained. Matt looked at her oddly when she automatically spread her legs to the limit of the restraints. Her training had become a reflex and Kelli didn’t realize what she had done until she saw Matt’s expression of surprise. Looking down momentarily she noticed these were full length shackles, which allowed her to walk with almost a normal stride.
He finished with a blindfold, pulling the retaining straps tight behind her head. She heard him drop something else back into the drawer. “I don’t think a gag will be necessary.”
Kelli was grateful for his small kindness. Of all the restraints that had been used on her in the past few weeks the gag scared her the most. The blindfold made her nervous too, but given a choice she would take losing her sight over having that awful thing stuffed in her mouth. She still had no idea what Matt was doing.
“Because you’ve shown progress you have earned a reward for your efforts. You have permission to accompany me on my morning walk. Remember Kelli, you are not being released. You will continue to follow all rules and remain mindful at all times of your status as a guest. For now you still do not have permission to speak. Do not answer any questions addressed to you until I allow it. Nod if you understand.”
Slowly she nodded. She would have a few moments alone with Matt. It had been so long. She didn’t realize how much she missed him. A trip outside! That explained the blindfold and dress. He had to take her through the staff section to get to an outside exit.
Holding onto her upper arm he guided her out the door. She couldn’t see where they were going but she knew when the hard floor changed to carpet they were in the staff area. Sounds were muted and didn’t carry. Once Matt stopped and turned her to the wall while a group went by. From the voices it was a mix of men and women, but no one she recognized. They would know she was a guest and ignore her.
The second time they stopped Kelli knew who it was as soon as she heard their voices. Matt spoke first, “Hi Bob, Cathy.” Matt held onto her arm but didn’t make her face the wall. She automatically spread her legs to take up the slack in her ankle chains. It felt awkward to stand with her feet so far apart but no one had asked her opinion. It was a rule she was beginning to intensely dislike.
“Good morning, sir.” That was Cathy.
“Hello Matt, Kelli. Heading off for the morning constitutional?” The deep, masculine voice was definitely Cathy’s master, Robert.
“That’s right. Kelli is going to come along today. You’ll excuse her for not saying hello.” She understood what that meant. On the rare occasion a guest was in the staff section she wasn’t to speak to anyone unless absolutely necessary.
“Of course. Well, we won’t keep you then. Good to see you again, Kelli.” That was Robert. Much as she would have liked to return the courtesy, Kelli knew the slightest mistake and her reward could vanish.
Matt led her to one of the elevators. When they started going up Kelli knew the outside exit wasn’t far away. At the top he had to stop at the counter while the guard checked Kelli’s status. Matt removed her blindfold so the guard could see her face. This was the last layer of security before the desert so clearances were double-checked for any female.
The guard brought up her picture on a terminal. She was surprised when it was followed by Matt’s picture. Finally he made a phone call to verify her pass. “Everything’s in order. It’s a little windy today, Matt, but the temp’s comfortable. You’ll be alone this morning. There is a truck due in three hours. You’re clear on procedures with her?”
“Yeah. We’ll be going for a short walk. I’m sure we’ll be back before then. Thanks, Randy.” Kelli watched Matt write down the time on a clipboard while the guard typed something on the computer keyboard. Matt had warned her about the intense security at the Center, including the small detail that she would not be allowed to leave on her own. At the time she hadn’t thought much about it but now she could see he had not been exaggerating. The guard buzzed the last door. When Matt pushed it open she saw blue skies and sagebrush.
The moment the door closed behind them Matt turned her to face him. “I’ve missed you so much, Kelli.” He held her face in his hands while he kissed her. She struggled in vain against the handcuffs, trying to wrap her arms around him.
He noticed her attempt to free her hands. “I’m sorry but I can’t take the cuffs off. That’s one of the conditions. I have to enforce all the usual guest and Warden policies, even out here. I’m serious, Kelli, if you misbehave I have to take you right back. Okay?”
It wasn’t an ideal situation but she would take whatever was offered. She nodded in agreement.
“Alright, you have permission to talk. Please be careful, I don’t want to cut our time short.” His look of sincere concern made Kelli pause. No one else was watching or listening to them, nothing to stop him from ignoring policy. Nothing except his own sense of duty, she realized. She would be cautious.
“Thank you, sir. I will remember my place.” It would be difficult to forget, with her hands locked behind her back. “I miss you too.” She looked around. “Which way do we go?”
Matt laughed, “In a hurry to get somewhere?” He rubbed her back with one hand while he pointed with the other. “We’ll stay on the road, in that direction. I can’t imagine it will happen but if you see someone tell me immediately.”
They started to walk along the road. He kept the pace slow, often pausing to point something out. She didn’t really share his fascination with desert scenery but that didn’t matter today. She just wanted to be with him and listen to his voice. Her body made it clear she wanted more from him. Silently she cursed the rules that kept them apart, and the shield locked between her legs that so frustrated her desire. It might control access but it did nothing to quell the growing arousal she felt in Matt’s presence.
“Is the secure area what you expected? Any regrets in asking to be enrolled?”
She looked up at him as they walked side by side. Normally as a Warden he would hold onto her upper arm, but Matt chose to maintain contact with a hand high on her back. “No sir, it wasn’t anything like I had pictured. Don’t laugh but I had this image of a college sorority house where we’d go to seminars and generally have a good time, but under the watchful eye of the occasional kindly and compassionate Warden.”
He smiled but didn’t laugh out loud. She could tell he found her description amusing. “And when you found out it didn’t quite work that way?”
“An hour after they came for me I was ready to go home. I was scared to death, I couldn’t stop crying, I wanted you to come get me and make it all better. It was a nightmare and I couldn’t wake up.” She thought back to that first night and how Diane had tried to help her. Where was Diane now? Kelli hadn’t seen her after the fighting incident.
Matt stopped and faced her, hands on her shoulders. “Do you still feel that way?” He stared at her intently.
“No sir, I don’t.” That was an honest answer. “Once I had time to figure out the rules and adapt it wasn’t nearly as bad. I’m learning so much, about myself and how I’m not alone in my beliefs about what a woman should be. The classes are wonderful. Well, most of the time.” One class had been boring, and she had gotten in trouble because of it. She had to tell Matt what happened.
“Sir? There’s something I have to tell you.” He probably knew all about it, but she felt compelled to explain regardless.
He took her over to the covered picnic table at the side of the road. “Let’s sit down for a moment before you start.”
“Yes sir,” she said, grateful for a moment’s delay. He had to know even if she was ashamed to explain how she had failed him. They sat down.
“It happened in one of the classes. The lecture was boring, but that’s no excuse. I didn’t pay attention and was caught at it.” She hung her head, unable to look him in the eye. “I was punished for my mistake, sir. I knew better but I did it anyway. The teacher stopped her talk and called the Wardens. They took me away, in front of everyone. They kept me for, I don’t know how long, three days maybe.” Kelli was on the verge of tears.
Matt put an arm around her shoulder. He knew it had actually been half that long. “Did you learn from the experience? Have you done the same thing again?”
She jerked her head up and turned to him. “Yes sir, I learned my lesson! I won’t ever do that again. I was careless and acted in an unacceptable manner. I promise sir, from now on I’ll pay attention in class.”
“Then I think we can consider the incident closed. You needn’t bring it up again.”
“Yes sir.” The sky hadn’t fallen after all. The relief she felt was genuine. He wasn’t angry or disappointed. She leaned into him; his arm across her shoulders felt so good. There still remained one more nagging question she was compelled to ask.
“Sir? Before I went to the secure area, was I lazy?”
“Lazy? No, I wouldn’t go that far. There were times I think you could have been more focused.” That was as diplomatic an answer as he could find.
“Thank you sir, but I think you are holding back. You let me get away with too much.” She hesitated, wondering if she was going too far. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be critical.”
“That’s okay, speak up. You’re right too; in hindsight I know I was too lenient. I blame myself for what happened, Kelli. You deserve more from me. My promise to you is that I’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again.” Matt stared off in the distance, unwilling to look her in the eye.
Kelli stared up at him, confused by what he had confessed. “No sir, with all due respect my behavior is ultimately my own responsibility. I’ve learned I can’t get away with that kind of attitude anymore. I didn’t much care for the methods but the lesson was one I needed to learn. The instructors showed me that I should take pride in what I can accomplish, but only if I earn it.
“Sir, I want you to be my owner and give me the opportunity to show you what I can do. I will earn your admiration and make you proud to be my master. You asked if I had any regrets. No, I don’t, not now. ”
Matt had no doubts she meant every word. She might not realize it but she was pressing every button in his head. He wanted all she was offering, and more. The woman sitting next to him was a world away from the Kelli who had asked to be sent to the secure area. There was a confidence in the way she spoke that had been absent in the old version.
He stood up and helped her rise. “We have to start back.” He took her arm and pointed her back to the entrance.
“Yes sir.” He paused but there were no pleas to extend her time, no subtle tricks to entice him to keep her outside. Out of the corner of his eye he watched her. No sign of distress, no holding back. She knew the secure area would be her destination yet she calmly walked toward her own return to incarceration.
Back inside the above ground building Matt blindfolded Kelli before taking her into the elevator. When he ordered her to silence she offered no resistance, merely nodding to show she understood.
Error in Judgment
It had been a long day, three class sessions by herself plus another two as assistant. Cathy was ready for a long hot bath, a good meal and a soft bed afterward. Much as she enjoyed being a teacher there were days she was not at her peak, and this was one of them. She hoped Robert would be in an accommodating mood.
Tomorrow would be infinitely better than today. They were finally going to Las Vegas for a nice weekend getaway. They had reservations for dinner in the hotel’s gourmet room, and afterwards they were going to one of the magic shows. All she had to do was get through the rest of the day. But first someone had to take her from the break room to the staff section. Sometimes the rules really irritated her. She had to get back to the apartment and pack for the trip.
The door to the break room opened and Matt came in. She had been waiting for Robert to show up and take her home. All her assignments for the day were done but she wasn’t allowed to leave until he took her to the staff section. Normally she wouldn’t mind but today her feet hurt, her hair needed washing, she was hungry, and she just wanted to get away and relax before getting ready for the trip. She sat up and put her hands in her lap when she noticed Matt making a beeline toward her table.
“Cathy? Robert asked me to escort you out today. A Warden had a family emergency in Phoenix so he’s going to cover for two more hours. He doesn’t want you to wait.”
That explained why he hadn’t shown up. Robert had mentioned several times the shortage of Wardens meant he might have to work overtime. It appeared his prediction had come to pass. “Thank you, sir. I appreciate your taking time out for me.” She stood up, eager to get out of the guest area. Robert must have listed Matt as a delegate when he wasn’t available. He was good about planning ahead, for which she gave silent thanks. No telling how long she’d have to wait if he hadn’t foreseen this kind of situation.
The moment Matt reached behind his back she turned away from him and held out her hands. He took his time putting on the handcuffs, which bothered Cathy. She was in a hurry and wanted out. This was another of those rules that, at least to her, served no purpose other than to annoy.
“Okay, let’s go. I’m sure you want to get out of here.” Matt took hold of her arm and led her to the door. Two hours, that’ll give me enough time for a bath and a short nap before Robert gets home. We can eat out tonight, she silently planned as they walked down the hallway toward the exit. She was too tired to cook; he’d understand.
Matt didn’t seem to be in any hurry as he took his time. Cathy had to bite her tongue as she nearly asked him to walk faster. Self-control and prudence won out over impatience at the last minute. No telling what would happen if she had demanded he hurry up.
When he finally halted in front of the last security gate she was sure he was deliberately fumbling with his keys just to make her wait. After three tries he got the right one and opened the door to the locker room. At last, she could get dressed and head back to the apartment. And get to that hot bath without waiting for someone else.
Matt headed right to her locker and opened the door. Inside she could see her clothes, the blouse and skirt and her sandals. As soon as he released her hands she would be on her way. The tub was only minutes away.
But something was wrong. Matt left her standing in front of the locker, her hands still cuffed behind her. He held onto her arm but was turned away, his free hand cupped over his ear. She realized someone must be talking to him, at length too, as she saw him nod occasionally.
This is ridiculous, she thought. All he has to do is let me go and I can get dressed. It isn’t fair that he makes me wait like this. He could be a little more considerate. She moved her bound wrists slightly and looked to the side, hoping to catch his attention. But he didn’t notice, engrossed in his private conversation.
Enough is enough, I’ve got a life too. The concrete floor was becoming harder under her bare feet by the second. “Matt? Could you unlock the handcuffs so I can get dressed? I’m really in a hurry.” She frowned as she spoke; he shouldn’t need a reminder she was waiting on him.
Matt straightened up and looked at Cathy. Good, he remembered me, now I can get out of here. She started to turn to one side as she held out her hands.
The crash of the sheet metal locker door as he slammed it shut with the palm of his hand made Cathy jump. “No,” he said in a low voice as he pushed Cathy up against the wall of lockers. “No, I’m not going to unlock the cuffs. No you aren’t going to get dressed.” He pulled out a blindfold from a pouch on his belt and covered her eyes. “And no, you aren’t in a hurry. Not any more.”
“Matt, you’re hurting me! What’s wrong? Why won’t…” The rest of her protest was cut off as the gag went into her open mouth.
“What’s wrong? What did you just say to me? You forget where you are. I wouldn’t tolerate a guest speaking like that, and I won’t let it pass for you either. Remember your words, Cathy.” He pulled her away from the lockers and dragged her back in the direction they had come in. “You’re going to have plenty of time to regret it.”
The day had been long and tiresome for Kelli. After classes she and her companions had been ordered to clean one of the dormitory areas. She was to sweep the floors first, then on hands and knees with a scrub brush and pail of water, and finally dusting the cell bars. The Wardens conducted a thorough inspection afterwards while they stood in line in the hallway. One of the Wardens found a spot of dust on the bars of a cell so they had to start all over again. By the time they had finished she was sore and exhausted.
It took two tries before the rooms passed. When the Warden took off the white glove and announced the results were “satisfactory” she was too tired to resent his perfunctory attitude. It was small consolation when one of the guards announced they were through for the day and put them in the same rooms they had just cleaned.
As soon as the Warden walked away from the cell door Kelli stood up. She knew it was wrong but she also knew that particular Warden was predictable and never came back to make sure she kept position. She couldn’t take kneeling on the floor for another minute. If anyone else had been in the cell with her she never would have thought to break the rules but since she was alone she figured she’d get away with it. She headed to the back wall to sit down
She never expected him to come back, so naturally he did just that. The moment she turned around there he was, silently watching her at the door. Kelli froze in a panic. The glare from his narrowed eyes told her that he wasn’t going to be understanding.
In a flash she was back on the floor, in position. She didn’t dare look up but she could tell he was still there. Kelli knew she was in serious trouble. Worst of all she had no excuse.
Her fears were proven correct when two more Wardens arrived moments later. As soon as the door was open they rushed in and had her down on the floor, hands locked behind her back. By the time they dragged her to her feet the blindfold was in place, as well as shackles on her ankles. She knew what it meant, and where they were taking her.
For at least the tenth time Cathy cursed her big mouth. If she had waited one more minute she’d be home soaking in the bathtub right now, thinking about what to wear when they went out tomorrow night in Las Vegas. One more minute and she wouldn’t be sitting in the dark on a cold hard concrete floor with her hands and feet immobilized. She didn’t know what it was called but the cruel metal contraption fastened on her body must have come from a medieval dungeon judging by the primitive look.
The device that imprisoned her body was simple but highly effective. It started with a ring around her neck, above her collar. Two rigid steel straps went down from the front and terminated in loops that held her ankles wide apart. A bottom bar was fastened between the ankle loops, forming a sturdy triangle. About halfway down on each steel strap was another loop that held a wrist. To ensure she didn’t wander around the room a short, heavy chain ran from one ankle shackle to a ring embedded in the floor. She could just reach the back wall to lean on, but that was about all. She couldn’t stand, turn on her side, or reach anything with her hands.
She stared at her fingers. One last time she strained forward with her head, trying to get one hand close enough to try to pull out the gag that covered her mouth. And again she came up inches short. Makes sense, she told herself, they measured this thing just right.
A shadow crossed the small square of light coming from the observation slit in the room’s one door. Cathy looked up, hoping it would be Robert, come to take her home. She knew if someone was out there the chances it would be him were slim. More likely one of the guards was going to make her life just a little more miserable.
When the door swung open the bright light from the corridor hit Cathy full in the face. Blinking she tried to cover her eyes with a hand, but was reminded all too quickly by the steel around her wrist that wasn’t going to happen. She had to turn her head to the side until her eyes adjusted.
Her initial fear that they had come for her gave way to relief when they brought in someone else instead. The Wardens worked efficiently, forcing her new companion into a matching restraint. Cathy’s dazzled eyes still couldn’t make out who it was but the muffled sounds confirmed it was another woman, and she also had a gag.
Cathy watched but made no sound as the Wardens quickly locked their new victim into the body irons. The woman made a token effort to resist but against three strong men she didn’t have a chance. As soon as they finished, two of the men filed out the door and disappeared from Cathy’s sight. The last man was one Cathy recognized. Joe was his name, one of the senior Wardens. He stood in the doorway, surveying the two women before him.
“I’ll make this short. Neither of you should be here. You know the rules, and you know the consequences if you choose to ignore them. No excuses and no leniency. I suggest you adjust your attitude starting right now. If you do, your situation might improve. Remember this, no matter how bad it is it can always get worse. Think it over.” With that he turned and went out the open door. It clanged shut behind him.
A grunt from her roommate drew Cathy’s attention. The new arrival was attempting the same maneuver she had just tried, straining to reach the gag with a hand. And meeting with equal success as Cathy watched. In the dim light she finally recognized the other woman, Kelli. The same Kelli she had encouraged to become a guest.
Kelli spent a few moments testing her bonds before giving up. The gag wasn’t going to come out either. The triangle of steel held her body in a rigid sitting position and there wasn’t anything she could do about it. Resigned to paying for her own stupidity she turned her head to study her cellmate.
With a start she recognized the other woman. It’s Cathy, how did she wind up here? When she cocked her head to one side, silently questioning what had happened, Cathy just shrugged and looked away. She doesn’t want to talk about it. And maybe I don’t really want to tell my story either. Kelli had no excuse and no one else to blame. Worst of all she couldn’t explain why she had done it.
Unable to speak or move, neither woman could do more than sit and wait. There was no clock to measure time but the aches and pains from being restrained grew by the minute. Behind the gag Kelli wanted to scream out to the Wardens to release her but she knew it would be useless to try. They would come back in their own time, regardless of her pleas.
Leaning back and lifting her legs she jerked against the chain anchoring her to the floor. It was solid and unyielding, symbolic of the men who ran the place. She could be obedient and follow their orders, or she could be defiant and ignore them. But either way the result was the same. Kelli ran a finger along the cuff that held her left wrist. It’s not a game. They get their way whether I like it or not. She closed her eyes and leaned her head against the wall behind her, contemplating just what it meant to be submissive.
Cathy’s worries were less philosophical. What’s Robert going to think when he finds out? She couldn’t bear the thought of facing him, much less trying to explain what she had done. Twice she had gone through the ordeal of the secure area. Now she was an instructor, supposedly setting an example for the guests. She had thrown it all away by opening her mouth. And to top it off she had ruined their trip.
She pushed against the gag with her tongue. If only she’d been wearing it while waiting for Matt to release her. What? You’re going to walk around all day with a gag on? Cathy shook her head; that was no solution. Robert was good at keeping her in check. When she was with him it was so easy; on her own she couldn’t seem to muster enough self control to keep in line.
He was right; she was pushing him to be more controlling. It wasn’t just to please him. Oh no, the real reason is because I’m too lazy, she admitted to herself, too lazy to pay attention and watch my mouth. I’d rather let him keep me in line.
Time dragged on as the two waited in silence. When their cell door finally opened the break from boredom was welcomed by both of them regardless of what it meant.
There were three Wardens in the hallway. One, Joe, came in and stood over the two women looking down at them. “It’s been decided,” he told them, “that you will be remanded to disciplinary training. You,” he pointed to Kelli. “You willfully disobeyed when you broke position. Your behavior was inexcusable.
“And you,” he turned to Cathy, “words fail me. You of all people should know better than to tell a Warden what to do. Do you think you are in charge here? You are supposed to be a role model, someone who sets the standard for the rest to follow. Some example.
“Both of your masters should be ashamed of you two. I thought about calling them in to talk to you but I’m not going to do that. Neither of them deserves the embarrassment you’ve brought on them. I’m not going to make it worse. No, what I’m going to do is see to it you learn to behave before they get you back.” He motioned for the other two guards to come in. “Since you can’t be trusted on your own you will now be supervised non-stop, every minute of the day.”
Robert sat with Matt at a table in the cafeteria. Both had just finished a long shift at the same time and had decided to share dinner before heading home. The meal had started with casual small talk but gradually turned to the subject both of them really wanted to discuss.
“I should never have allowed her in there,” Matt began. “She wasn’t ready. If I’d done a better job as her master she wouldn’t be having so much trouble now. I didn’t give her enough structure…”
Robert held up a hand to interrupt. “Don’t beat yourself up so much, Matt. You did what you thought was best at the time. Hindsight won’t let you change the past. Think about it; did you really cheat her of your time and attention? Did you ignore attempts on her part to tell you what she needed?”
Matt frowned, going back over the relatively short time he and Kelli had been together. “No, I don’t think so. I’m new at this, Bob, but I know better than to assume I’m always right. I listen to what she says. I even try to pick up on subtle clues, but I’m not always sure what to look for. When she asked to be a guest it hit me like a sack of bricks falling from the sky.”
Robert leaned back and took a sip of his beer. “So why did you let her do it?”
Matt shook his head. “At first I fully intended to say no and stick to it. But she was persuasive. It took all night and part of the next day before I got it.
“Kelli told me she wanted to prove to herself she could measure up, that she was a real submissive and a little training would bring her true self out. I didn’t buy it for a minute. She doesn’t need any training to be submissive; I saw that as soon as we met.”
“And the real reason was?” Robert asked.
“Competition. On the outside she didn’t have any, as far as I was concerned. She knows I’m the dominant type. I want a certain type of woman, a type increasingly rare these days and difficult to find. Kelli is that type, and she knows it. I’m not going to wander. Her submission to me is her security.” Matt paused to take a bite from his plate.
“But in here, circumstances changed the equation.” Robert picked up on Matt’s explanation. “Instead of standing out from the crowd she’s just one more among the many.”
“Exactly. What she really wants to prove is that she’s still someone special to me. Many of the women she met here in the staff area, including your Cathy, went through the secure area. In Kelli’s mind she thinks they have some special skill earned from the experience, so she has to go through the same thing.” Matt frowned. “Problem is I don’t know if she’s right or not. No question the Center changes them, and for my own peace of mind I hope for the better.”
Robert nodded in agreement. “So you enrolled her despite the misgivings. For what it’s worth Matt, I’d do the same thing given similar circumstances.”
“Thanks, Bob. You’ve been at this a lot longer than me. I value your opinion. Uhhh, by the way, no hard feelings about the incident with Cathy? You saw the recording? Wasn’t anything I could do. The control room kept talking in my ear.”
“Don’t sweat it Matt, you did right. Cathy can be impatient at times. When I’m not there she loses her temper even though she knows better. A few days of remedial discipline might encourage her to be patient next time. Did I ever tell you about the time she ran away? It earned her the first trip to the Center...”
Gang’s All Here
The group was composed of four women. Cathy looked down at the wide steel cuffs locked on her wrists, with a bar between them. She stretched out her fingers but couldn’t bring her fingertips together. Another set of cuffs secured her ankles. Again, a steel bar between her ankles forced her to stand with her legs apart. A connecting chain ran from the middle of the bar on her wrists to the middle of the ankle bar. She couldn’t raise her hands above her waist while standing. She had been first in line to receive her restraints; the guards were now finishing with the last woman of the group.
There was more to come. Another guard brought out a length of heavy chain and padlocked one end to the middle of her ankle bar. He then proceeded down the line until all four women were linked together.
The Warden in charge, Cathy knew his name was Joe, began. “In case you haven’t figured it out by now, all of you have managed to make it right to the top of our special attention list. You are here because you pulled some kind of dumb stunt. Maybe you thought you’d get away with it, maybe you didn’t care. Whatever the reason, it won’t work here.” He folded his arms and sat down on the edge of the desk, facing them. The other Wardens left.
“The four of you are now collectively responsible for each other. What’s that mean? Real simple, anyone makes a mistake, you all make the same mistake. I don’t care whose fault it is, you will all be punished if any one of you disobeys. I suggest the four of you become good friends real fast, because you are going to be spending a lot of time in each other’s company. Those chains stay on as long as you are here.”
Cathy turned to look at her new companions in misery. Kelli was next to her, looking scared. With good reason, Cathy told herself. Even I don’t know what’s going to happen to us. On the other side of Kelli was a woman Cathy didn’t know. At the other end she recognized Diane, who had been in one of her classes.
“Look at me when I’m talking to you!” Joe slammed his hand down on the desk. “I can see why you are all here. Okay, this is how it works. The rules are simple: do as you are told. Do it immediately, get it right, and don’t forget. To make sure you pay attention you will be personally supervised 24 hours a day. Let me introduce you to the first shift.”
Joe went to the doorway and gestured to someone out of sight. When he came back he was escorting a woman dressed to the usual standards, collar, belt, and hands cuffed behind her back. In itself that was no surprise to Cathy, but when she recognized who it was she almost blurted out the name. Only the frown from Joe stopped her.
She stood in front of the group and began speaking with a nod of permission from Joe. “Hello ladies, my name is Paula and I will be your supervisor.”
Cathy, Kelli and the other two women knelt in a line, facing Paula as she sat at the supervisor’s desk in their cell. Paula had gone down the line, correcting all of them over and over until she was satisfied. Then she had gone back to the desk to read through their records.
“Diane and Cindy?” Those were the two on the other side of Kelli. Cathy knew better than to look at them. Paula might be an old friend but she wasn’t showing any favoritism in a situation like this. “You were fighting. Is that correct?”
“Yes, Miss Paula.” Both answered, Diane first. Paula had established a hierarchy, starting at Diane’s end of the chain.
“Kelli, you failed to observe position?” Paula looked at her over the top of a sheet of paper.
“Yes, Miss Paula.” Kelli’s answer was so quiet even Cathy could barely hear her.
“I can’t hear you. Did you not stand up and turn your back to a Warden while you were supposed to be kneeling in respectful attention?”
This time Kelli spoke up, “Yes, Miss Paula.”
“And you, Cathy. You spoke out of turn in a disrespectful manner to a Warden?”
“Yes, Miss Paula.” Cathy saw the steely glare in Paula’s eyes as she answered. There was no hint of compassion or sympathy.
Paula arranged the papers in the folder neatly before closing it. “When I ask a question I expect an answer, not mumbling.” She pressed a button on the desk. “All of you stay where you are.”
A moment later a Warden appeared at the cell door. Paula asked for permission to approach the door, and then whispered something to him. He nodded and left. Paula came back to her desk and knelt next to it, facing the door.
When the Warden returned he was carrying a bag. Another guard stood by the door as he opened it and came inside. Cathy being the nearest he started on her, shoving a gag into her mouth before covering her head with a tight fitting hood. She could hear him do the same with the rest of the group before leaving.
“If you won’t answer me then you won’t answer anyone,” Paula lectured them. “Perhaps a little quiet time to meditate will encourage you to speak up next time. You will all remain in position until I tell you otherwise.” Cathy heard her pull out the desk chair and sit down.
The hood was hot and the gag uncomfortable. Being forced to kneel while in the chains didn’t make it any easier. And Paula was watching them. Cathy knew it because there was a steady stream of reminders. “Straighten up”, “Don’t slouch”, and “Keep those knees apart” came every few minutes. Paula never mentioned anyone by name, so Cathy had to respond to every one, unsure if it was directed at her or someone else.
Cathy had not forgotten the circumstances under which she had first met Paula. They had both been guests then, but Paula had been in the secure area for more than a year, waiting for her master Mike to be released by his kidnappers at a mine in South America. During all that time she had been steadfast in her belief he would come back for her, no matter how long she had to wait. Many a time while talking she had made it clear to Cathy she believed in absolute obedience to the man she called master, no matter what the circumstances. She never knowingly broke her promise to him, and didn’t tolerate it in any other submissive woman. Putting her in charge of the four of them was far worse than any Warden. Undoubtedly the Wardens knew it too.
Cathy heard the desk chair slide back, followed by Paula’s footsteps as she walked back and forth in front of the four of them. “You all have one last chance to make good. I’ve been tasked to see to it that the four of you straighten up and behave. Those of you who know me,” she stood in front of Cathy, “also know I take assignments seriously. We will start from the beginning. Anyone falls behind, we’ll start over again and again till you get the message.
“And get this straight too. There’s no way out of where you are except to do better. No one is going to come and rescue you. None of you are going to see your masters until we’re finished here. You can’t quit and walk away.”
Cathy missed Robert already. She had no idea how long it would be before she would see him again. Even if she did everything right from now on she still had to count on the rest of the group to do just as well.
Paula started again. “Let’s begin with something simple, which appears to be all you can comprehend. Speak only when spoken to, and answer in a clear voice. Keep mumbling and you can kneel there all day with those hoods on. Do what you are told, right away. When a Warden is here you ignore me and pay attention to whatever he says, even if he contradicts me you do what he tells you. Pay attention, and don’t think for one minute you can get away with anything.”
Cathy heard the door being unlocked. She could barely make out Paula talking to someone. Soon after she heard the Warden’s boots on the concrete as he approached the group. She couldn’t tell what was happening at first, but when he reached her and took off the hood she was able to see the rest of the women had their heads uncovered too. He removed her gag, putting it into a bag he carried. He stood up and went back to Paula, kneeling by the desk. “Showers in five minutes,” he told her as he passed by the desk on the way to the door. From the corner of her eye Cathy could see another Warden in the open doorway.
A shower! Cathy was dirty and sweaty from wearing the stifling hood. A chance to take a shower would be heaven. Maybe they’d even take off the chains for a few minutes.
As soon as the Warden left and closed the cell door Paula stood up. “Alright, you heard him. You are going to get a chance to clean up. I want you to stand up one at a time, Diane first, and line up to be escorted.”
They were all stiff and sore from kneeling so long. The additional encumbrance of the chains didn’t make it any easier but Cathy and the others managed to get up off the floor and line up. The chain between hands and feet forced them all to stand with their hands at waist height.
Paula wasn’t impressed. “I said line up. Diane, face the door, the rest of you line up behind her. Space yourselves out, take up the slack in the chain between each of you. Back straight, head up, eyes front. Keep your arms down, hands open. If you can’t get it right by the time the Warden comes back you won’t get a shower today.”
Cathy backed up until the chain linking her to Kelli was off the floor. She tried to do everything Paula was yelling at them but it seemed nothing could satisfy her. Either they weren’t in a straight line, or someone was standing improperly. Cathy received a jab in her back when Paula went behind them to check alignment. “Keep your eyes front,” Paula warned her, “or you all get hoods again. Want to sleep in them tonight?”
When the Warden came back they were lined up to Paula’s satisfaction. The four of them were marched out into the corridor and led to another room with a tile floor. Paula stayed behind.
The Warden placed them in the middle of the room and told them to remain there. Cathy knew something wasn’t right because there were no plumbing fixtures on the walls, though there was a drain in the center of the room. How were they supposed to take showers?
That question was answered by the first blast of cold water from behind her. Another Warden had a hose in his hand and was spraying them down. When they all reflexively turned away from the stream he stopped and shouted at them. “Back in line! Now!”
When he finally stopped they were all soaking wet. The door opened and Paula came in, escorted by another Warden. In her arms were rolled up towels. “Each of you take one as I go by. You may dry off.” Being last in line Cathy took the final towel. She wasn’t surprised to see that Paula wore handcuffs. She would be the last to insist on any special treatment.
“I can’t do this anymore,” Kelli sobbed as she pulled at the chains, trying to free her hands. “It’s too much.”
The four of them were sitting against the wall in their cell. They had been given a short rest by the Warden currently supervising them. He had gone out into the corridor to talk to someone, giving them a rare moment alone.
Cathy grabbed her wrists. “Listen to me! You can’t give up, Kelli. Think, why are you here?”
“I broke a rule. They came for me…”
“No!” Cathy shook Kelli’s hands. “Why are you in here, as a guest? Why did you ask to be put in here?” From the corner of her eye Cathy saw Diane and Cindy look at each other in surprise at Kelli’s secret.
“I…to prove I could do it. But Cathy, I can’t! I just want to go home and be with Matt.”
“You can do it, and you will! You wanted to see if you have what it takes? This is the moment, Kelli. Right now, right this minute you succeed or fail.”
Kelli turned away, unwilling to look Cathy directly in the eye. “Then I’m a failure.” She jerked her hands away from Cathy and held them up, yanking on the cuffs imprisoning her. “No more. I won’t wear these chains and this chastity belt any longer. I’m finished with all this. All I want is to go back to what I was before they brought me here.”
Cathy grabbed the bar between Kelli’s wrists and yanked on it hard. “And how do you plan to get these off? You think you can waltz over there, knock on the door, and ask to go home? It won’t happen. Don’t you get it? They aren’t going to let you out. About all you’d accomplish is getting the rest of us in trouble. Is that what you want?”
“No, I don’t want any of you to take the blame. I’ll ask for Matt. He’ll get me out of here.”
Angry, Cathy grabbed the collar around Kelli’s neck. “And are you going to give up on this too? When you ask Matt to take off the chains, will you include the collar around your neck? How about the one around your heart? Do you want to be free of him too?”
Kelli’s eyes went wide. She didn’t answer immediately.
“How about it?” Cathy pressed on. “What do you tell Matt? Close your eyes, imagine he’s standing in front of you right now. Explain to him how you didn’t really mean it when you said you’d do anything for him. Tell him how much you want to submit to him, but only if it’s fun and easy.”
Kelli pulled loose from Cathy’s grip and drew back. “It’s not like that at all. He knows I meant everything I said.”
“I’m sure he does, but do you?” Cathy held up her own hands, bound by the chains that held them all. “All of us, we have something in common, something special. We picked a certain type of man, a man we can trust with our lives, a man who takes charge, a man who takes it seriously when we promise him our obedience.” She tapped the front of the belt, where it covered her sex. “We give him our bodies, we give him our heart and soul. And we know he is the type of man who will take what we offer and use it, all of it, for whatever purposes he deems best for us.
“Do I enjoy being stripped, locked in steel and thrown into a cell? Do I think it's fun to have someone jump all over me if I break some silly rule? No, but I do it anyway. I have to believe that somehow, some way Robert thinks it’s important I do this. I’d give anything to get out of here, but I trust him even if I can’t understand why this is happening to me. I owe him my allegiance, to put my faith in his judgment even when I’m tired and miserable.”
All three women were staring at Cathy. “I’m no different than any of you,” she went on. “We can all make it through this. Kelli, you wanted to prove to yourself you can match any woman in here. I know you can do it. Reach into yourself, look for that hidden resolve. Show Matt, show yourself, you have what it takes.”
Kelli leaned down to wipe the tears from her face. “I guess I can go a little longer.”
Cathy put her hands on top of Kelli’s. Diane and Cindy joined in. “We’ll all go a little longer,” Diane said.
“Kelli! Over here!” Cathy waved from the cafeteria table.
Kelli carried her lunch tray over to the table where Cathy and Paula were sitting. “I didn’t want to intrude…”
“Nonsense, sit down. Paula, Kelli is the dietician for our little enclave. Ask her why you can’t get jello with fruit cocktail in it.” Cathy nodded toward Paula. “She likes that awful yellow stuff.”
“I can work it in, Miss Paula, if you really like it…” Kelli began.
Paula held up a hand. “It’s just Paula out here. Keep a secret? I hate assignments like that. Sorry if I was rough on you, but you know how it is. Master’s orders, I didn’t have a choice.”
“And it was just our luck to draw the one graduate of our dear alma mater who’s probably the most fanatical about obedience.” Cathy shook her head. “I was so happy to see you, but then I realized what it meant with you picked to supervise us.”
“Now Cathy, you know where I stand…” Paula frowned.
“I know, I know,” Cathy interrupted. “No criticism. I think Kelli and I learned to appreciate your view of submission. Not that I’m eager to repeat the experience.”
“Second that,” Kelli added. “So how’s the trip to Vegas? Is it on again?”
“We’re leaving tomorrow. Robert has it all planned out. We’re going to see Hoover Dam in the afternoon, and later dinner in the gourmet room followed by one of the magic shows. Maybe I can get him to let me play the poker machines afterward.”
“What, no lounging around the pool to get a nice tan?” Paula asked.
“I asked, but he won’t take this thing off.” She put her hands on the belt around her waist, underneath her skirt. “No way I can hide it under a swimsuit.”
Paula nodded. “I know how it is. Mike won’t take mine off either. At least he’ll be back sometime next week. He’s in western China, of all places. Some godforsaken desert called the Takla Makan, doing a geologic survey for a possible mine site. He says it’s worse than Death Valley in the summer, that’s why he wouldn’t let me come with.”
Kelli had a curious look on her face. “Both of you, you have to wear those, uh, those chastity belts all the time?”
“Most of the time, yes,” Cathy explained. “Men, once they get these things on you they are very reluctant to take them off. You’d think they were some kind of control freaks.”
“Perish the thought,” Paula added with a smile.
Cathy eyed Kelli, noticing she seemed nervous. Unlike the other times they had lunch together this particular day she was wearing a dress instead of her usual jeans. “Kelli? You too?”
She nodded, too embarrassed to answer.
“Hey, it’s not so bad. You get used to it after a while.” Cathy reassured her. “All it takes is a little practice. No better place than here to get used to, uhh, being covered.”
“Covered? Is that what you call it?” Paula laughed. “Kelli? Don’t be so self-conscious. You aren’t alone. And those times it gets to be a real hassle? Think about what it will be like when he takes it off.” Cathy and Paula giggled. Kelli turned red.
“Cathy’s wrong about one thing though,” Paula continued, “you don’t get used to it. It’s like a constant low level turn on. Funny thing, it’s more of a distraction out here in public, wearing a belt under clothes, than it is on the other side when it’s about all we get to wear.”
“I know,” Kelli said. “Matt surprised me this morning. He wanted me to come with him on his walk in the desert. Then he takes a cardboard box out of the closet and there it is, the same belt I’d been wearing on the other side. He said it makes me look sexy so he wanted me to wear it again. You know how it is; I couldn’t say no. I figured we’d go for the walk and then he’d take it off afterward. No such luck; he kissed me goodbye and went to work, leaving me standing in the middle of the living room with no way to get it off. I almost decided to stay home and not go to work today.”
“Uh oh,” Cathy cautioned her. “Sounds like it’s going to be a permanent part of your wardrobe from now on.”
“Permanent?!” Kelli asked, panic showing in her expression. “You mean he won’t ever take it off?”
Paula answered first. “Don’t worry about that. He’ll let you out from time to time. Naturally it’ll be on his terms. Besides, you can always ask him for the key.”
Cathy shook her head. “Yeah, right. Better have a good reason if you do ask. And be prepared to do a little begging too. Making us wear these belts is a real power trip for guys.”
“I guess I can live with it. I can tell Matt likes it.” Kelli thought for a moment. She didn’t want to ask Matt for a key. “As long as it’s just around here. I wouldn’t want to wear it when we go to the city.”
Cathy and Paula looked at each other, silently debating who would break the news. A slight shake of Paula’s head told Cathy she was the unlucky winner. “It doesn’t work that way, Kelli. Think about what you just said. And remember what you learned these last several weeks.”
Kelli puzzled over Cathy’s words. “What do you mean? I certainly learned to live with wearing a belt, if that’s what you’re referring to. But I’d be too embarrassed to wear this thing in public. What if someone saw it? Matt will understand.”
Cathy sighed as she shook her head. “No and no. You miss the point. It’s not up to you to set conditions. Sure, you can tell him you don’t want to wear it in public, but you better have a good reason why. A good reason, not a lame excuse. Trust me, he will not be very sympathetic or understanding.” She nodded toward Paula. “Both of us wear belts in public, quite frequently. Yes it can be a hassle, but it has to be done. Robert wants it that way so I do my best. Truth is I get a kick out of it now. Like Paula says, it really is a constant turn on, especially when in a crowd. No one knows the intimate way Robert owns me.”
“We were talking about a three day weekend in Los Angeles next week, shopping and maybe the beach.” Kelli frowned. “You think Matt might make me wear the belt while we’re there?”
“Probably not at the beach,” Cathy answered.
“And I’d be very surprised if he leaves it on overnight,” Paula added with a wink.
Cathy could tell there was still an unanswered question. “C’mon Kelli, what is it that’s really bothering you? Go ahead and ask.”
Kelli hesitated, stalling for time by taking a drink from her glass. “Uhh, I know this sounds silly, but do either of you think they make you wear a belt because they suspect you may be cheating on them? Could Matt be doing this because he doesn’t trust me?”
Cathy had joked about the same subject with Robert but never considered it a real possibility. She couldn’t imagine having some kind of clandestine affair with another man. Glancing across the table she could see Paula was just as surprised at the question.
“No Kelli, I don’t think so, and here’s why. Think of what you just went through. There’s no way you would have volunteered if you had something going on the side.
“I’m not going to ask if you’re seeing someone else because I know the answer. We all have something in common. Once we find the right man, the one who really is our master, he gets our unconditional loyalty. We swear allegiance to him and no other. Unless Matt is the insanely jealous type, and I find that hard to believe, he knows you’d never betray him.”
Paula picked up on Cathy’s answer. “I can vouch for what she’s telling you, Kelli. Mike didn’t give me a choice either. Same as you, he put it on and didn’t take it off. I’ve had mine on since the day he left for China, and it won’t come off until after he gets back. But I know he didn’t do it because he’s worried I might be sleeping around. He did it for a very simple reason, to let me know he’s controlling me even if he can’t be here. You have to admit it’s difficult to forget he’s in charge when you have that little reminder pressing against you all day long.”
“But still, what if someone sees the belt? Did it ever happen to you? What did you say?” Kelli knew she couldn’t refuse Matt, but she was scared of being caught out.
“What you do,” Cathy told her, “is you look that person right in the eye, tell her yes it is a chastity belt, no you don’t have the key, and yes you wear it for the man you love even if he is a sexist, domineering pig.” All three women burst out laughing.
“Her? What if it’s a man?” Kelli looked back and forth between her two table companions. Equals now, she realized, united by a common purpose in life. She had been impressed by the confidence Cathy showed when she spoke; now she understood where it came from.
“Men won’t say anything. And if a guy did say something, it probably would be how lucky that sexist pig is with the key. Look Kelli, don’t worry about it. You don’t have to answer to anyone but Matt. You know you’re doing the right thing, for the two of you. It doesn’t make any difference what someone else thinks or says.” Cathy paused for a moment before continuing. “You just put yourself through what anyone would agree is a most unpleasant experience, and you did it for Matt as much as for yourself. When you tell him you’ll do anything for him, he has no doubt you mean it.”
“One other point,” Paula added, “if someone criticizes you for being the kind of woman we are, ask yourself what’s behind it. Envy, that you can do what she can’t? Or jealousy, because you’re right where you want to be, with the man you love, and she can’t find the same?”
“Envy me?” The idea had never occurred to Kelli. “Why would anyone be envious of me?”
“Because you have a great guy in your life, and the two of you grow closer every day? Who wouldn’t want the same?” Paula pointed her fork at Kelli. “Don’t underestimate what you bring to the relationship. You’ve learned how to fit your own life with Matt’s, not to compete with him but blend in your strengths with his. You, me, Cathy, all of the women here have made choices that a big part of society doesn’t care for. Why would anyone envy you? For the courage you show to not listen to those who would turn you away from what you believe in.”
“A heavy conversation for lunch. Sorry to break it up but I have a class to teach.” Cathy stood up and picked up her tray. “And some packing when Robert and I get done tonight. I’ll see you two when we get back.”
“Bye, have a good trip. Hope you hit one of those big jackpots.” Kelli waved as Cathy left.
“Have fun,” Paula added before turning back to Kelli. “How about you? Now that you’ve been through the program, are you ready for what comes next?”
“Next? I don’t know what you mean.” She had no idea what Paula was talking about. Matt hadn’t told her there would be more.
Paula leaned back in her chair and crossed her arms. “Isn’t it obvious? You made it out. You’ve joined an exclusive club. With the membership comes a certain obligation. When are you going back, to be an instructor?”