Your Master Requires Your Attendance

by Jack Peacock

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© Placed in public domain by author - Jack Peacock

Storycodes: M+/f+; prison; training; slave; bond; stocks; gag; chastity; collar; punish; reluct; cons; XX

Continues from

Part 3

An Unexpected Visit

A hellish device, a machine of misery, that’s what the pillory became for Cathy. Her impression of stocks had come from movies and grade school history lessons about the Puritans. She had thought they were solely for public humiliation, the petty thief forced to stand in the village square while his neighbors laughed at him. First hand experience now taught her the reality. Whoever had built this particular version knew exactly how wide to limit her stance and how far apart her hands should be. It couldn’t have been more than an hour before every muscle in her body began to protest. The worst part was how she was forced to stand without moving. She tried to shift her weight from one leg to the other but they were too far apart for it to be effective. The height and spacing between top and bottom was just enough to make her lean forward, straining her back and shoulders. The pressure of the gag only added to the discomfort.

Her neck and wrists were imprisoned between two thick, heavy pieces of stout wood. The cutouts were padded but too small for her to slip through them. The boards were both wide and tall enough to cut off any view behind her, including the door and most of the hallway. Beams on either side held the lower board firmly in place, while grooves let the top board slide up and down. She had seen the latches that secured the top piece, deliberately mounted on the other side so she couldn’t reach them. Looking down she could see how the base was firmly bolted to the cold concrete floor. A similar design laid out horizontally at the base held her ankles. She could even see the latches holding it shut. All she had to do was reach down and open it, providing she had a key. Undoubtedly the inventor had put them in plain view for one purpose, a tantalizing freedom just out of reach.

Cathy closed her eyes, tired of looking at the wall in front of her. How long will they make me stand here? If her legs collapsed she would choke. And with the gag in place she couldn’t even call out for help. That scared her; trapped in the stocks with no one around was a real danger. She tried to yell through the gag, but all that came out was a muffled “oomph”.

Time slowed to a crawl. There had been times Robert ordered her to stand in a corner, for an hour or more, and once he had made her hold a quarter against the wall with her nose, but those time outs weren’t even comparable to the stocks. Every minute that went by seemed to be worse than the last. She tried to bend her knees, lean forward and down, but it didn’t help. Any imagined relief quickly vanished as the strain moved to a different set of muscles.

Desperate, she struggled to free herself, trying to slip through the holes, pushing up with all her strength to try to open the boards. Her eyes were squeezed shut with the futile effort. Somehow she had to escape; she couldn’t survive another minute imprisoned like this.

“That won’t do you any good.” Cathy’s eyes flew open at the sound of the familiar voice. It was Robert, standing in front of her, arms folded, staring at her. Hopes of rescue crashed to the ground when she saw the expression on his face.

Master, she wanted to say, but it came out “mffph.” It was the gag, she couldn’t speak. “Mfff” she tried again, slowly drawing it out. Hopeless, the Warden had shut her up quite effectively. Cathy looked at him, pleading with her eyes for him to help her.

“Look at you. They told me all about this morning. I was not happy to hear what you did. So I let you sleep in whenever you want? What else? Do I let you run wild, do anything you want while I stand by with a sheepish grin? You seem to have forgotten why you were sent here. No more.” He reached out and lifted up her chin, making her look straight at him. “Listen to me Cathy. This isn’t some kind of vacation. I expected when I arrived we would spend some time together, maybe even take you home if the time was right. But instead I find you being punished and a sizable negative report on your activities. This is inexcusable behavior. Whatever possessed you to talk back like that?”

Cathy balled her hands into fist, frustrated at not being able to tell him what really happened. She tried to shake her head, to tell him somehow that’s not what happened. She wanted to yell “no” through the gag, but it came out as an incoherent mumble.

Robert turned to go, then stopped and spoke to her one last time. “One more incident like this and you are here for an extended stay, understand me? No excuses. Just one more report, and you go into the remedial discipline program. From this moment on the only reports I want to read are the ones describing your outstanding example to everyone else.” He pointed at the bare gray wall in front of her. “Anything else, and that will be your view of the world for so long you won’t even remember what color the sky is.” He walked away, past the edge of her limited vision. The cell door clanging shut was unnaturally loud, as though her future was closed as well.

If only he had loosened the gag long enough for her to say something. Cathy could feel the tears running down her face. How could it have gone so wrong? It was only supposed to be a minor temper tantrum, to convince everyone I had a reason to be here. She ran through the morning once again, in her head. Now I’m in here for real, instead of acting.

More sounds from the hallway. Her heart leaped at the faint hope Robert was coming back, but what she saw was a Warden leading Laura and the other two women who had been in the cell with Cathy that morning.

After The Visit

Laura rushed to Cathy’s side and knelt down. Cathy’s lower face was covered with a wide leather strap, holding in some kind of gag. Attached to it was a harness that went under her chin and over her head, making it impossible to remove or slip off. Laura tried to open the buckles but they appeared to be locked shut. Cathy shook her head, as if to tell Laura not to try. Cathy tried to say something but the garbled sounds escaping around the gag were unintelligible.

Laura wiped the dried tears from Cathy’s face then turned to examine the restraints. Cathy’s neck, wrists and ankles were secured in some type of wooden stocks. Cutouts in the lower set of planks held her ankles while the upper set held her wrists and neck. Her arms were held wide apart, so that her hands couldn’t reach her head. Her ankles were far apart, making her stance awkward and uncomfortable.

Laura saw the pleading in Cathy’s eyes but couldn’t figure out what she wanted. There was no way to release her or help relieve the cramped position she was in. “What is it? What do you want me to do?” Laura asked her.

Cathy thought for a moment, and then began moving her shoulders, as much as she could. Laura didn’t understand but one of the other women did. “It’s her shoulders, and her back,” the woman said, “they must be sore from standing like that.” Cathy nodded vigorously.

Laura stood behind Cathy and began massaging her shoulders. “That was a stupid stunt this morning. You were the one who told me it was so important to keep to the rules here. What were you thinking? You must have known something like this would happen, or you wouldn’t have lectured me about it so often.”

Cathy rolled her eyes and shrugged. Laura took that to mean a lecture wasn’t needed. Laura stopped the massage for a moment to rest. One of the others offered to continue, so Laura sat down in front of Cathy. There wasn’t much any of them could do for her, but Laura figured they could at least keep her company. “They put you here as an example to the rest of us, didn’t they? That’s why we were kept together tonight?”

Cathy nodded her head. Once again she attempted to speak, slowly pronouncing each word, but Laura couldn’t make out what she was trying to say. “I’m sorry Cathy but it’s the gag, I can’t understand you”

At the sound of a hallway gate opening Laura and the other two women immediately knelt at the back of the room, behind the stocks holding Cathy. Two Wardens stopped at the door, one with a cart in tow.

The one not holding onto the cart spoke up. “The three of you, turn and kneel facing the wall. No one is to speak or break position until I allow it.” He waited while they turned around and settled into a new position before he unlocked the door. He entered the cell and went directly to Cathy, in the center of the room. The other guard stayed at the open door, ready to close it at the first sign of disobedience. Unable to see what was happening, she was surprised when he began to remove the gag. He bent down to open the stocks holding her feet, followed by the ones holding her neck and hands.

While he held onto her around the waist he helped Cathy stand up. “Slowly, move your arms and legs.” The relief at being free of her wooden prison was quickly replaced by the aches and pains of her protesting body. He let her stand still and slowly straighten up before he helped her walk around. Once she could stand on her own, he took her back to the other women and told her to face the wall. He went to the door and stopped just inside the door. “After we leave you have permission to speak and move around. There is a meal for each of you.” He took the covered plates and cups off the cart and placed them on the floor before closing the door.

Once the Wardens were gone Cathy slumped to the floor, grateful for a chance to finally sit down. The others gathered around to see if they could offer some assistance. Cathy waved them off, “all I need is to stay off my legs for a while.” Laura brought one of the plates and a drink to Laura, and then sat down beside her. The other two women joined them as they all began eating.

“It wasn’t right, them putting you in that thing,” Laura began. “What are we supposed to learn from seeing someone tortured like that? I thought this was supposed to be a school, not a dungeon where we are the victims. That was cruelty, not correction.” Laura’s voice got louder as her indignation grew.

“Stop it, Laura.” Cathy sighed, she doesn’t get it.

Laura ignored Cathy and kept on. “No, I won’t stop. You should understand better than any of us. We have to make a stand, tell them this is too much and we won’t allow ourselves to be used this way.” Laura stood up and went over to the pillory, now opened up. “We did away with things like these two hundred years ago. There is no reason anyone should ever have to suffer in one again.”

Cathy shook her head and carefully stood up. Her legs were still wobbly but she needed to move around to prevent muscle cramps. “Sit down Laura, and listen to me.” The stern tone in Cathy’s voice startled Laura, who meekly sat back down in her spot against the wall. Cathy held onto the front of the stocks to steady herself and began. “Ever hear the old cliché about not seeing the forest for the trees? That’s what you are doing.

“You look at this piece of furniture and see some evil instrument of torture and abuse. Because it’s evil, anyone who uses it must have some nefarious intent as well. To think that way is to be lazy. You aren’t using your own brain to look at your assumptions critically. You made your point about what you think, now I’m going to tell you how I see it.

“All of you know what I did this morning. It’s not something I’m proud of, and I don’t want to go into the reasons why it happened. The rules here are clear, and everyone is aware that violations are severely punished. That’s a given, up front, as soon as we arrive. None of us may like it, but those are the conditions we must live by. I know we aren’t here by choice, but that doesn’t matter. Our masters sent us here, and they do have the right to make that choice for us. What the guards did was put me in that contraption, but for the why, there you have to look beyond the obvious.

“First, I have to tell you about myself. I love my husband, my master, and I’d do anything for him. He knows that too. It’s not some abstract idea. I really do expect him to tell me what he wants me to do. Just as he assumes as a matter of course that I will obey him, in turn I look forward to him using his control over me, preferably to my benefit. When he orders me to do something for him, or sets up rules for me, I know exactly what I have to do to please him, no guessing. That’s important to me. He’s special, one of a kind, and I’ll do whatever it takes to hold onto him.”

Cathy walked around the stocks, pausing a moment before continuing. “If he thinks it’s necessary for me to spend some time in this particularly nasty thing, well then I do it. There is no question in my own mind that I needed to be punished for what I did. How it is done, and the severity, are not up to me. I hope he will be fair but whatever he decides I will have to accept. I didn’t much care for this,” Cathy slapped a hand on top of the stocks, “but, bad as it was, it wouldn’t even compare to him ignoring my disobedience.

“I have to know he is concerned, about me and about what I do for him. My submission would be meaningless if he didn’t care about it. That’s what makes Robert stand out. He does pay attention to everything I do. He watches, and if I slip he’s on me about it. Most times it happens if I’m starting out on some new rule and I forget. He is patient but insistent on compliance. It may be nothing more than a raised eyebrow or a frown. I remember and adjust my behavior to his satisfaction.

“He is patient and understanding, but only to a point. Then he takes steps to make sure I appreciate he is serious. That’s what happened here. The Wardens put me in this but Robert knew about it and did not intervene. That’s the why of it, Laura, to prove he cares enough about me, to hold onto me, that he will resort to the harshest of measures if needed. It wasn’t cruel, making me stand here. Robert was doing his job, proving to me he is my master and that he can be strong when there is no other way.

“The Wardens were doing their job too. Their place in the Center is to oversee us, and that includes what they like to call discouragement. The rules here are not the same as at home, but that’s no excuse to ignore them. If I break those rules I will suffer the consequences. It is inevitable, cause and effect. I knew better but for reasons I won’t explain I broke the rules anyway. The Wardens determined these stocks were the appropriate punishment for what I did, so I do not criticize what is rightfully their role. It was not abusive, Laura.”

“I like to hear Robert tell me he loves me and wants me, but I need to see it too. Whether it’s just a look or I get the full lecture, or this,” Cathy gestured toward the pillory, “he cares. I mean something to him, and that’s my security. He values my submission and my obedience, the effort I put into it isn’t wasted. I’m proud of who and what I am. My self-esteem is based on how well, in my mind, I meet all of Robert’s needs.

If a guard comes back in the next few minutes and orders me back into this, I’ll do it. I wouldn’t like it, but it’s not my place to say yes or no. Submission isn’t about just the times when it’s fun. There is a serious side too. I made a commitment to my master, a promise I have to keep. I gave him my obedience, for better or worse. Now I have to live up to my promise.”

Laura stared at Cathy in awed silence. Could she ever be as devoted to Frank?

The Good and The Bad

Laura found herself at a lecture with Cathy. As usual there was no prior notification as to what the subject would be. When that same older teacher came into the classroom, the one who had been so stern at the mirrors, Laura unconsciously sat up straighter. She knew from experience that whoever this woman was, she didn’t miss anything.

“My name is Marie, and I will be your teacher today. This afternoon we are going to talk about men, and about Mr. Vader and Mr. Wimpy. Remember those old cartoons, with the imp on one of the character’s shoulders and the angel on the other? Always a struggle between wild abandon and conscience. Your master has one of those on each shoulder. To the left sits Mister Vader, a little devil in a big black helmet constantly prodding him with the light saber, whispering in his ear, telling him to come to the Dark Side. Mr. Vader is your friend, for he’s the one that tells your master it’s okay, make her do what you want, keep her in line, grab her whenever you feel like it, don’t pay any attention to what society says is right or wrong.

“We all want a strong master. Not so much in the physical sense but strong in how he acts, in that indefinable something he projects. I’ve been doing this,” she reached up to point to her collar, “longer than some of you have been alive. I still get a shiver when my master looks at me, eye to eye, and orders me to follow some new rule he just dreamed up. That’s Mr. Vader at work inside his head.

“Mister Wimpy is not on your side. He sits on master’s other shoulder, telling him to hold back, think about what he’s doing, don’t be so harsh, show some consideration, remember he has responsibilities, what will people say if they find out what he’s doing. We need Mr. Wimpy to keep Mr. Vader in check, but if Mr. Wimpy ever gets the upper hand you have lost your master. He’ll turn into one of those shy, sensitive, New Age kind of guys who talks about sharing and getting in touch with his inner self. He wouldn’t dare think about telling you what to do, that might intrude on your personal space. You like those times master gets rough, maybe he throws you down on the bed, rips off your clothes, ties you down, and makes you moan all night long? Well, with Mr. Wimpy in charge he might dare to touch you gently on the arm and ask if you would like to indulge in some quality time together. Any questions or comments?” Marie stopped and faced the class, waiting for a response.

One woman in the back raised her hand. Laura recognized her, and remembered her name was Elke. She had a slight European accent. “If my master ever heard me say anything about a personal space he’d smack my bottom till I couldn’t sit down, then put me in a cage all day long and tell me that’s as much personal space as I get.” They all laughed, with some nodding in agreement that the same might well happen to them.

In the past Laura had felt a little guilty at how much she enjoyed Frank’s aggressive bedroom style, especially the ways he would surprise her with something new and unexpected. In the few weeks she had been at the school, talking with Cathy and the others, she learned that what she considered an exotic sexual fantasy many of the other women took for granted as everyday life. Even Elke, the one who had just spoken, had one evening casually described how her master calmly ordered her to strip and then chained her ankle to their bed every night, and how she couldn’t fall asleep as quickly now because she missed the reminder tugging at her leg. Laura wasn’t sure if she could handle that, but had to admit where once she would have been shocked, now her first reaction was curiosity, what it would be like, and if Frank would enjoy it.

Laura turned back to face Marie as the teacher continued with her speech. “This may surprise you, but we control our masters.” There were some indignant mutters but no one spoke up. Laura looked to Cathy, puzzled as to what seemed to be a contradiction. Marie elaborated. “No, not in the sense that we can tell them what to do. What we control is the balance between Mr. Vader and Mr. Wimpy. It may not even be a conscious effort, but you do change him to suit your needs.”

Marie held up a hand to stop what was becoming a groundswell of protest. “Wait! I know you all have an ideal image, where he reigns supreme and you are the lowly powerless servant devoid of even the faintest bit of influence. It’s a nice picture, but you will do better to look at what really goes on inside his head. There is this horrible tangled web of conflicting emotions: his need to dominate you mixed in with more than a little lust; his need to control his environment, and you are part of it, stemming from a fear of losing everything he has; his instinct to keep you safe from harm but doing whatever it takes, even taking advantage of his greater physical strength, to force you to yield to his will. It sounds like a mess, and one I’d never be able to sort out, but we don’t have to worry about all that. In some way we will never be able to understand, he figures out how to make it all work together.

“Our job is to give him some feedback. If we need more of Mr. Vader, we nudge his dominance thermostat up a bit. If he’s turning into some kind of self-centered male offspring of a dog, we move the thermostat down toward Mr. Wimpy. Of course that’s easier said than done. What can we do to encourage Mr. Vader?” She looked over the class, and then pointed a finger at Laura. “You, what do you do to bring out your master’s dark side? Tell me your name too.”

Caught by surprise, Laura didn’t answer immediately. She had to think fast, for no one was allowed to pass on answering a teacher’s question. “I’m Laura. I never thought about it before,” she said, stalling for time. “I think I encourage him by doing things he likes.”

“Exactly!” The teacher interrupted, letting Laura relax. “You show him it’s okay to be assertive, that it’s what you need too. You submit to him, in simple terms. He starts out with something simple, sees that you don’t have a problem, and goes a little further. Laura, describe something you did for him, some way you had to change just because he wanted it. How did you nudge Mr. Vader?”

On the spot again, but Laura had an answer to this question. “Not long after my husband Frank and I first met, when we were dating, I sensed a sort of appreciation or annoyance whenever we would get together. I wasn’t sure if it was something about me, or something I had said or done that didn’t quite suit him on one day, but did the very next day. Then one particular evening over dinner he started talking about himself, and about the kinds of movies he liked to watch, in particular the old classics from the 1930s. In an offhand way he mentioned that he really liked the costumes the actresses wore. Not just those glamorous evening gowns, but the everyday styles popular back then. The way he explained it, a woman should strive to look as different from a man as possible, and in his mind he associated that with women who wore a skirt.

“Our next date, I wore a nice long skirt that could have come right out of one of those movies. His approval was obvious in the way his eyes lit up. Next time it was a modern style pantsuit, something that would fit in the office. I saw just the barest flash of a frown cross his face. But even more, his whole personality seemed to hold back. Frank was still very nice, but I could feel he was just a little on the distant side.

“I didn’t think that much about it, but I found myself dressing to his taste more than mine. I think it was bringing out his Mr. Vader because he became more dominating towards me. To this day Frank has never actually ordered me to wear only skirts, but that’s almost all I have in the closet now, except for a few dresses. When I go shopping I don’t even look at anything else.”

The teacher nodded in approval as Laura ended her story. “An excellent example, Laura. It illustrates how you adapted to what he likes, in a way that brought out what you saw as the best points of his own personality. You definitely lured your Frank to the Dark Side.”

Laura looked down in embarrassment but had to smile at Marie’s observation. Cathy and several of the other women turned to Laura with what she took to be a look of surprise mixed with some new-found respect. That meant something to Laura, for since the first day in the school she had been treated as something of the neophyte, with little to contribute due to her lack of experience.

“And what about Mr. Wimpy?” Marie asked the class. “This is a tough one to handle, especially for us. It’s just as easy to sprout wings and fly off into the sunset as to stand up to him and tell him to cool it. How do we get our masters to come back to the real world when they’re on one of those macho power trips? Anyone?” She looked around for someone to answer. No one seemed to have any idea until Cathy hesitantly raised her hand.

“Cathy, isn’t it? Let’s hear what you think.”

In a quiet voice Cathy explained in one short sentence, “I tell him when I’m worried or scared.”

Marie smiled knowingly, “and why does that work?”

Cathy answered. “He has this tremendous capacity for responsibility, a need to take care of me. One moment he can send me to a corner for an hours long timeout, for the most trivial infraction of some minor and silly rule. And then the next day I casually mention something that concerns me and suddenly he’s sitting down in front of me with this look of total concern, asking me all about it and planning what we should do about it.

“There was an incident a few months ago. Robert had been working a lot of overtime. That and work related stress were causing some problems for him. He was irritable and, hmm, let’s call it extremely diligent in overseeing me. Late one evening I told him I was worried, that his health was suffering and I was scared he might wind up in the hospital. I did not tell him that I felt he was being especially critical of me for the same reasons, but he saw the connection. He wasn’t able to stop the work problems immediately, but he did slow down, get more sleep, eat better, and backed off on the discipline. I did better, and I was able to approach him about some things I thought I could do to help him. Fix him a good lunch, pick out healthier snacks for those times he was at the office late, and when he was home make sure he relaxed and got plenty of rest.

“The crisis at work passed and we got back to normal. He never stopped being my master, and if anything is more demanding now than ever before. I have noticed that he adjusts more to my moods though. Not that I can get away with much on bad days.”

The teacher started walking back and forth in front of the class. “Cathy makes a good point here, and one worth repeating. Masters are not monsters, all Mr. Vader and no Mr. Wimpy. They do care about us, no matter how they choose to show it. In Cathy’s story, her master needed an elbow in the side to realize he had to get back on track. That’s our job, to make sure he knows if we are happy and content, if we need more attention, or if we need him to ease off for a little while.

“Don’t mistake it for trying to manipulate him. It’s nothing more than communicating to him how well he’s doing. We don’t tell him how to adjust or what to do or not do, we just indicate in a respectful, subtle, submissive way that a bit of a change might be nice. He figures out the rest. Cathy did nothing more than point out something he would have seen himself if the situation had been better. And Laura, she made changes in herself to bring out what we all like to think are a master’s best qualities.”

With The Director

Cathy, Laura, and two other women had just returned to a cell and were eating dinner when a Warden approached the door. The four of them immediately knelt in position, surprised by his visit during dinner.

“Cathy Kincaid? Come to the door,” he ordered, his voice carefully neutral to give no hint of what was happening. Cathy stood up and walked slowly to the door, uncertain and apprehensive at being singled out.

“Turn around, hands behind your back,” came the usual command. With her back to the door she felt the handcuffs close around her wrists. She was going somewhere, but had no idea why. The door opened behind her and Cathy was pulled out by his grip on her arm. While she stood in the hallway he closed the door, told the rest they could resume eating, and then still holding onto her upper arm he began leading her along the corridor.

Based on both her current and prior experience she knew it was rare to interrupt a meal, which implied that whatever reason demanded her presence wasn’t planned. Had she done anything today or in the past few days that required some kind of reprimand? Nothing came to mind, and she knew better than to ask the Warden.

A few moments later they arrived at what she came to think of as the Wardens’ room. The last time she had been there it had been a trip to visit the Director, or as it turned out his assistant. Once more she saw her clothes hanging from a hook on the wall. A sense of dread ran through her when they stopped next to them.

“You will put your clothes on immediately,” he told her as he removed the handcuffs. “You are keeping the Director waiting, so I suggest you dress quickly.”

His brusque comment confirmed her fears, another trip to the Director. It only took a minute to get her dress and shoes on. Someone had cleaned and pressed the dress, for which she was grateful. Why had he sent for her? She had done her best to keep to their agreement. Laura seemed to be doing well and neither of them had gotten into any trouble recently. What if he has decided to send me to solitary confinement anyway? Her mind ran wild with speculation. Maybe he wasn’t satisfied with her progress. Maybe she had missed some crucial point while helping Laura. Or worst of all, Robert wasn’t pleased with her attitude.

“Alright, let’s go.” The Warden’s words brought her back to the present. He took hold of her arm and gestured toward the door that she knew led to the staff area. Oddly, he had not handcuffed or blindfolded her, unlike the last time. She puzzled over the significance of that small detail as she stopped at the door, waiting for the Warden to open it. Hands at her side, and ironically feeling out of place because they were not locked behind her back, she watched as he unlocked the solid door and opened it.

The door swung open. The sight in front of her was such a surprise that she couldn’t even speak. There stood Robert, a smile on his face, arms outstretched. In the next moment she was inside those big strong arms, her arms around his neck as he bent over to kiss her in a long embrace. Tears of happiness clouded her eyes and time seemed to slow as he held her. All the long days of loneliness that she had tried to block out came rushing back now that they could be satisfied.

“I missed you, Master,” she whispered in his ear. It almost sounded silly, but she was too preoccupied with him to think of anything clever. She laid her head on his shoulder, content to enjoy being held by him while she shut out the rest of the world. Cathy wanted the moment to go on forever but knew it wasn’t possible.

“We’ll get caught up later, but right now we are keeping the Director waiting.” He reached up and took her arms off his neck. “I think we should be going.”

The Director’s office, I knew this wouldn’t be good news, she thought to herself, the sense of dread returning. I’m not going home. And if he called in Robert it was very serious. Her last visit had included an implied threat of being transferred to a remedial disciplinary unit if she didn’t perform to expectations. If Robert is here, that has to be it, they are going to punish me. She closed her eyes for a moment to concentrate on staying calm.

Robert started to turn toward the hallway in the staff area, a hand going to her back. They had all but forgotten the Warden behind them when he interrupted. “I’m sorry, but as she is still enrolled I must insist on regulations being followed.” Robert stopped and looked back over his shoulder. Cathy turned her head and saw the Warden holding out a set of handcuffs in one hand.

“Oh yeah, forgot all about that.” Robert took the handcuffs and turned back to Cathy. “Hands behind your back,” came the familiar order delivered in his familiar crisp, matter-of-fact tone. She had heard it so many times it had become an ingrained habit, an automatic response whenever she heard him say it. The cuffs were already on her wrists before she realized she had obeyed instinctively.

He does that to me every time, she realized, all it takes is hearing his voice and I can’t even think straight. In his typical fashion he took hold of her upper arm, firm but not painful or bruising, a not so subtle reminder he was in control. The Warden shut the door behind them as Robert led her into the staff area, heading to the Director’s office.

This was the first opportunity she had to actually see the nicer part of the Center. The corridor was carpeted, painted in a soft shade of blue and decorated with the occasional picture. A far cry from the concrete floor and bare gray walls she had stared at day after day. Most of the doors were made of wood, all were numbered, some with names or titles as well. A few were open, and twice she saw someone inside working at a desk.

Once two women were walking toward them, talking quietly. They both stopped and quietly stood to one side when they saw Robert. Cathy noticed they both wore collars around their throats, but otherwise they were identically dressed in conservatively tailored business suits, white blouse and jacket, knee length skirt, and neither wore restraints. Except for that one discrepancy they could have been in an office building anywhere. One of the women smiled at her as she and Robert walked by. Neither seemed surprised at the sight of her hands cuffed behind her back.

Robert seemed to know the way as they quickly arrived at a door with the modest title of Director’s Office engraved in a small brass plate on the door. He opened the door with one hand and urged her forward with the other. With no choice in the matter, she walked into the reception room. Robert entered and stood behind her, closing the door.

“Mr. And Mrs. Kincaid? The Director is expecting you, one moment.” The woman seated at the desk picked up her phone. Cathy recognized the voice immediately, the same woman who had spoken to her on the last visit. This time she had a person to put with the voice, a petite woman, about Cathy’s age, with distinctive Asian features. This was the same one who had threatened to subdue Cathy if she misbehaved on the last visit. Then she saw under the receptionist’s desk the short length of chain running from the woman’s ankle to a ring embedded in the floor. It had been a bluff; she couldn’t leave her chair.

The woman hung up the phone and turned back to them. “The Director will be right out.” She noticed Cathy’s pointed look and smiled. “Yes, my master likes to know where I am every minute. I get to sound mean but anyone who sees me knows I’m pretending. Lucky you couldn’t see.”

The inner door opened and a tall burly man came out. The crown of red hair was distinctive. He reached out to Robert as they shook hands, and then he turned to Cathy. “Thank you for coming on short notice. A pleasure to see you again Mrs. Kincaid. Please, come in and sit down. We have much to go over.” He led the way back into his office.

Again? But I’ve never met him before. Cathy ignored the slip, assuming he had confused her with someone else.

Robert helped her sit down in a chair facing the desk. Looking around, she saw his face in several photographs on the wall. Obviously this was the Director. Her eyes narrowed, something about his voice and the way he had used her last name made him seem familiar. But the last time she had been called in it had been his assistant in this office.

“Thanks again Robert, I know a trip all the way out here takes up most of a busy day for you, but I felt the seriousness of this matter could only be handled in a personal meeting. And my apologies Cathy, for interrupting you. I asked your husband here to discuss your progress and what options lie open for the future. He thought it appropriate that you join us.”

Yes, it would be nice to know what fate these two men are going to decide for me, Cathy thought. It isn’t always so easy though, to let go and blindly trust someone else to choose wisely. Both of them were looking at her, as if expecting her to say something. “Thank you for allowing me to attend, sir.” A nice safe noncommittal response, but she had to be very careful here, the Director’s point in stressing how important this meeting was dictated she sit back and listen. Too, Robert was here, and she found herself slipping into the old mindset of letting him take charge.

Cathy was overwhelmed by all that had happened. This whole adventure was to be a short visit while she helped Laura adjust, followed by a passionate reunion with her master when he came to take her home. Instead she had made a stupid mistake that had turned into a catastrophe, one that would probably keep her in this place for several more weeks or months. She couldn’t see any way to avoid further incarceration either. The handcuffs pinning her arms behind her back were a constant reminder of just how helpless she was.

“Now then,” the Director continued, picking up some papers on his desk, “I’d like to start with a review of a recent event here concerning Cathy’s conduct.”

Oh no, here it comes, all over again. Cathy spoke up without even thinking. “Sir, I’d like to explain about that. When I slept in it was only to reinforce the cover story, how I was supposed to be here due to a bad attitude. I didn’t mean anything I said to the Warden. It was all part of an act…” She trailed off as both men started laughing. The Director held up a hand to stop her.

“Sorry Cathy, we shouldn’t have laughed. We both know that stunt you pulled was pure acting. Of course no one else knew that, so your punishment was rather harsh considering your intentions. Still, I’m sure you knew what would happen. Not the precise details, but that you would pay a stiff price for talking back and failing to get up on time. Don’t concern yourself with it. I’m sure your master will find a way to make up for any hardship you had to endure while quite properly obeying his explicit instructions to you.”

Now Cathy was confused. If she hadn’t been called into the office over the disobedience, then what was the reason? If her task here was complete then why didn’t Robert simply take her home? She should be sitting in the car next to Robert right now, eagerly anticipating the coming evening as they drove home. Why were they still holding her here at the Center? She had been on her very best behavior since that one time, a model student by any standards. What was the incident he was bringing up now? What had she done, perhaps unwittingly, to earn even one more day in this place?

“The incident I’d like to talk about happened yesterday. I’ve already mentioned it briefly to Robert, but you don’t know about it yet. This is a printout of an essay your friend Laura Ferren prepared. She was assigned the task of writing down what she has learned since her arrival, and how it has changed her. I’d like to read a few excerpts to you.” The Director turned to the paper he was holding.

Cathy looked over at Robert, then back to the Director. Something was going on here, and she was the only one who didn’t know what it was. She was certain Robert and the Director had already gone over all this and made their decisions. This was all a little play being acted out for her benefit. She turned her head to one side and studied Robert. The enigmatic smile, almost a smirk, that flashed across his face before he regained his composure confirmed it. She knew what the expression meant. He was, as he often put it, “messing with her head” and thoroughly enjoying the process. Cathy turned her attention back to the Director as he began. She relaxed and settled back in her chair. Experience had proved that if Robert was having fun she didn’t have to worry.

“Mrs. Ferren came to us under less than ideal circumstances. As her husband predicted, this school was quite a shock to her. She describes her pick up and arrival here, then follows it with her interpretation. I quote,

Everything had been so fast, one moment I was planning a trip to visit a friend, the next moment arrested, handcuffed, and taken away in a police van, all at the instigation of the man I loved. I was so frightened I couldn’t even speak. Then they picked up Cathy. I found myself sitting next to a woman who seemed so calm and unconcerned, though she was just as helpless. She acted like we were heading to Sunday School instead of prison. Her attitude was infectious, I couldn’t help but slow down even though we weren’t allowed to talk.

Without Cathy I could not have made it through that night. She told me what I needed to know and how to act. She helped me through the worst of it. I didn’t realize till much later that she had shown me how a truly submissive woman looks at the world. We had been sent by our masters, as I now know my husband, and it was our duty to obey him as best we could. The moments when I would have rebelled, she showed the other path, the one of submission to authority, and how it led to harmony instead of confrontation. In the daily lessons since then I have learned how to look for that other path, to remember my place is at my master’s side and not in his face. Now I have a name for what I am, submissive, but I have not changed for in my heart I have always belonged to him, from our first moments together.

The Director paused for a moment to catch his breath. Robert put a hand on her shoulder to have her lean forward, so that he could reach behind her and remove the handcuffs. He smiled at her as she sat back up. She was still perplexed as to the reason for this meeting. Her expectation had been an indefinite sentence to the remedial discipline section and unending misery for months to come. But after listening to Laura’s moving words there had to be a different purpose to this little get together.

Robert put his arm around her. She leaned into him, her head resting on his shoulder. Whatever the reason for her being here, it wasn’t something to worry about now. The warmth expressed in the heartfelt words in Laura’s essay, and her master’s arm around her, banished any fears. Cathy closed her eyes as the Director continued.

“I’ll skip down to a section near the end, as it has special relevance. I quote,

I have learned much from our lessons, but it doesn’t compare to what my friend Cathy has taught me. At first I envied her. She always knew exactly what to say or do, while I was so clumsy. She was perfection, I was the poor excuse. And then one morning she proved just as human as me. All those times she had told me, over and over, how important it was to never ever disobey a Warden or break a rule, and then she refuses to get up one morning, and even talked back! I was so scared, not so much that the rest of us might get in trouble, but for what would happen to my friend. I wanted to yell at her to get up, but when I saw the Warden I was frozen. I don’t even remember what he ordered the rest of us to do, but I guess I obeyed well enough. I remember walking away with Cathy still under her blanket, and wondering if I would ever see her again.

Of course I did see her again. At the end of the day they brought us back. The three of us, the ones who had been in the room with her that morning, were kept together. A Warden took us to see Cathy. I couldn’t believe what they had done to her. She was locked in stocks, unable to move, and a large gag prevented her from speaking. The Warden left us there. Cathy was obviously in pain but there was nothing we could do to help.

Eventually another Warden came back and released her. She was so sore she couldn’t even stand, we had to help her out of the stocks. I was outraged at what they had done to her! I wanted to yell, fight, make someone pay for it. But Cathy’s quiet words, whispered because her mouth was still dry and sore from the gag, brought me back to the core of who we are. No anger, she said, understand the why, not the what. I didn’t see her point at first, but as she explained it was as if a door had opened for me.

The what, that she had been punished, wasn’t so important. It was only a means to accomplish an end. It was the why that mattered. Why she needed to be corrected. Whether it was a Warden or her master, she told us how she absolutely had to know that they cared. If her disobedience had been ignored, then everything she valued in herself would be made instantly worthless. When I heard those words I had to stop and think, for what she described was the key to unlock my own inner struggle.

I love my husband. From the first day I met him, to the wedding, even now after what has happened. That night he sent me here, I thought it was over. He was getting rid of me, he didn’t want me anymore, I was a failure and a mistake he was sweeping under the carpet. Cathy proved to me how wrong I was. He acted to save our marriage. I was slipping away and needed him to bring me back. Far from discarding me, I now know his love is so strong he will risk everything for me. That first night I could only see the what, that he had sent me away, but more than anyone else it was Cathy who made me look at the why, why I was here, why I had to learn the lessons, why I was one of the most fortunate women on earth, for I have a master who will never let go.”

The Director laid the printout on his desk and looked up. “I thought, Cathy, you would like to know that Laura will be going home in a few more days. Her stay has been shortened in no small part because of your effort. You have the ability to sense exactly what needs to be said, and a way of making what you say real and immediate.”

Cathy wrapped her hands around Robert’s arm as he patted her knee and smiled down at her. Robert spoke up. “She has always been good at empathy, understanding emotional need. She is very talented at reading my mind. That’s what made me think she would do well here.” Cathy looked up at him with a puzzled expression when she heard that last sentence.

What does he mean, do well here? I hate this place, and look how I screwed up. “Sir? I don’t understand what’s going on here. I’m very happy for Laura, and glad I was able to be of some help to her. But I haven’t done nearly as well as she has.” Now it was Cathy’s turn to envy Laura, for she would be going home. Somehow Cathy sensed she would not be leaving so soon.

“Sorry Cathy, but you are wrong on that one point.” The Director picked up on her comment and continued. “You have exceeded our expectations, both your master’s and my own. What you do not know is the real reason your master required your attendance here. You were told it was to help Laura, and while that was true, it wasn’t the primary cause of your return to the Center. Robert?”

She turned to look at her husband as he spoke. “Cathy, as you know any school, even this one, depends on the people who run it. The Director contacted me several months ago, to ask about the possibility of you becoming an instructor. I wasn’t too keen on the idea of sending you off again, but the Director can be very persuasive as well as accommodating. We eventually reached mutually agreeable terms, but one question remained.

“Teaching, especially in this environment, can be a very stressful experience. It is essential for everyone on the staff here to remember the ultimate goal, to draw out what exists within every student, to help them see what they need, even if it is emotionally or physically painful. It’s easy to lose sight when someone is in distress. That’s the test the Director set for you, Cathy. To throw the worst at you and see how you coped.”

Cathy’s eyes widened in sudden realization. It all made sense, how she could do no right, yet she always seemed to have the time and opportunity to talk to Laura.

“And you passed that test, Cathy,” the Director told her. “Better than we had hoped, in fact. Not only did you keep to your ostensible assignment, helping Laura, but you also endured what appeared to be a mean and spiteful punishment far in excess of your transgression. You set an example not only for Laura but everyone else. I don’t think you comprehend how many of the others were influenced by your role model.

“That’s why I would like to formally offer you a position on the staff as a Teacher, effective immediately or whenever your master makes you available to us. You should also be aware that Robert has graciously volunteered to serve as a Warden here on a temporary basis to help us with a manpower shortage. We would be grateful, and honored, if you would accept.”

Cathy stared at the Director, not believing what she heard. Could she stand in front of a class, with all those eyes on her, and lecture them? Apparently both men thought so. They were looking at her, waiting for an answer. She could do it, but she could not answer them. That wasn’t her place. She looked to Robert.

“Master? Should I do this?” There was one distinct advantage to being the submissive partner, Cathy told herself, and that’s the privilege of passing on the difficult choices. If she asked, it became his problem to solve. She waited patiently for him to decide her future.

It only took a moment. Robert took her hands in his, looked her in the eye, and answered with that tone of absolute certainty she found so attractive. “Yes, you should. You have the talent, and the inclination to do it right. I have no doubt at all that this is the best course for you.” He let go of her hands and folded his arms, leaning back. “I knew you’d ask me too, which is why I told the Director you would accept. All the arrangements have been made.

“I came for you Cathy, but not to take you home. For the next few months, this is our new home.” Once more he took her hand as he stood up. She followed, standing beside him. His arm slipped around her waist.

The same old Robert as always, she thought. He set this all up knowing exactly what she would do. He was in control of her all this time, and she didn’t even realize it. He’s a manipulative control freak, and oh how I love it.

The Director stood up and offered Robert his hand. “Welcome aboard, I think you’ll both find this a memorable experience and a rewarding one as well. Now, I must apologize for ending the meeting so abruptly but duty calls. Your apartment in the living quarters is ready, and I believe Robert knows the way. Once again, I want to add my personal welcome to you both.”

“Thank you sir,” Cathy answered. “One thing, your assistant, has he been informed, about how I was disobedient purely to keep in character? At our last meeting he seemed quite upset with me.”

Robert and the Director started laughing. “Don’t worry about that, Mrs. Kincaid. You see, I have no assistant. You were not the only one acting that day.” The Director smiled. “Wheels within wheels, as the saying goes. You knew I, as the Director, was aware of the reason for your presence so I had to be someone else. Someone who could send you to that entirely imaginary disciplinary section. I deliberately dangled the sword over your head, all part of the test.”

“But…” her voice trailed off. Then she understood. No wonder his voice had sounded familiar when he used her last name. Dominants, she shrugged, they always had to be one step ahead.

The Director saw them to the hallway door of the outer office. Robert took a moment to figure out the way before they started down the corridor. His hand slid across her hip and pulled her close as they walked. His hand resting on the belt under her dress reminded her that she still had that infernal chastity belt locked around her waist. And with that reminder came a surge of lust that almost overpowered her. Suddenly her only concern was to get it off by any means at hand.

It took only a few minutes to reach the door to their apartment, but to Cathy, burning with pent up desire, it seemed an eternity. No sooner had Robert closed the door behind them than she had her arms around him, pressing herself against him. But how could she ask?

He took hold of her upper arms and held her back. One hand lifted up her chin till he could see her face. “Is there something you want? Something you need to tell me?” The serious look on his face almost made her laugh. He couldn’t be that dense. But she had to be careful how she phrased her request. He had a long standing order that she was not permitted to ask this particularly delicate question directly.

“I’m sorry master, and I know I shouldn’t mention it, but I still have on the chastity belt.”

His brow furrowed in mock concentration. “Hmm, you want me to take it off?” His hands slid around to her back as he pulled her close. She felt one hand going to the zipper on the back of her dress, slowly pulling it down. Cathy knew exactly what he was going to say next. “Convince me.”

She did.


Cathy returns in the third "Your Master Requires" tale: Your Master Requires Your Allegiance

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