The Job Offer
I was curled up on the couch, pretending to read a magazine but actually watching Steve sitting at the kitchen table, sorting through some paperwork. I had no idea what he was working on. I knew from casual conversation he was some kind of investor. I enjoyed seeing him at work, comparing statements, entering something in his laptop, and then going back to the papers again.
My own background was in accounting, though I knew something about finance too. It can be tedious at times, getting everything to balance. We didn’t discuss money. Steve had assured me I was taken care of if anything happened to him. Otherwise I had no idea about his finances, net worth or his holdings. That’s the way he wanted it. He explained that it was his responsibility to take care of me, and to provide for me. Part of that included me not worrying about it.
I had to admit my life now was vastly simplified. My biggest concern was I might do something to displease him. I was very careful about that. In most other respects he’d taken over my life to the point where I literally didn’t have a care in the world. If I wanted something I did have to ask, but in most cases he agreed. But not always, there were occasions when he turned me down. Most of the time I got an explanation, which helped me understand why he denied me, but there were a few instances where he refused to provide any details, even to the point of ordering me not to pursue it further.
One time I asked him about my credit cards. I didn’t have a large balance on any of them but I also had no way to pay them. Steve informed me they were taken care of as soon as I arrived at the Center. He had taken over all of my personal finances from that point. The few assets I had, including my bank account, were transferred to other accounts under his control. In a very real sense I did not have a single penny to my name.
The way he explained it to me, I didn’t need my own money anymore because I was supposed to depend on him for everything. He made no secret of his intention that I should be reliant on him, and he would take whatever steps he deemed necessary to keep me that way. I worried that he took too much on himself but he just laughed and assured me it was no burden at all.
“You know, if you want to learn surveillance techniques, the first lesson is to turn the pages every so often.” He looked up at me. I had been so intent on studying him I hadn’t turned a page in ten minutes.
“You caught me fair and square, sir.” I sat up straight, both feet precisely aligned on the floor, put the magazine down and folded my hands in my lap. He gave me that familiar Warden inspection look, making sure I was in proper position. He required perfection; I wasn’t there yet but one way I did meet his demands was to sit and stand properly. He never corrected me, because it wasn’t necessary.
“I have some news for you,” he started. That immediately got my full attention. “Tomorrow morning you will accompany me to the Accounting department. At the party the head of Center finances, Ken Sorensen, asked if I might agree to you doing some work for his office. He’s chronically shorthanded, especially when it comes to accounting skills. From what he told me you are well-qualified for the position he has in mind. We’ll meet with him and if it works out you will start right away.”
Steve loved to pull surprises like this on me. One minute I’m not reading a magazine, the next I have a job interview. I didn’t miss the way he worded it either. He would decide if I took the job, not me.
“Yes, sir,” I answered. I did like the idea. I didn’t have that much to do around the apartment. It got lonely when he was out on his shift as a Warden. I wondered if there was anything else he had neglected to tell me. Much as I’d like to know in advance what’s going on, especially when I’m involved, in the end it was up to Steve to choose what I needed to know. That was one of the more difficult adjustments I had to make, trusting him to manage what information got to me.
I still have trouble getting used to the idea that someone else runs my life now. He could be irritating at times but overall I found myself relying on him more and more. Maybe I was getting lazy, or maybe I just enjoyed a stress-free life. Either way I did trust his judgement. If he thought I should take the job then I’d do the best I could.
I didn’t have too much time to worry about the interview. The next morning came all too quickly. Steve must have seen how nervous I was because right after breakfast he began setting tasks for me. When he does that I have to focus on him first.
“Now, this is what you will do.” I pushed aside worries about how I’d do at the interview. When he spoke in that tone he had my undivided attention. “You will take your shower and get cleaned up. I’ll pick something for you to wear. When you are ready we will go directly to the accounting office. I’ll talk to Ken first. After that I’ll bring you in for the interview. I’ll be with you at all times. Any questions?”
He did make life easy for me. I knew exactly what to do now. “No, sir, no questions,” I answered. I did feel better knowing he would be there. Oddly enough, the fact that Steve would decide if I accepted a job offer took away most of my anxiety. All I had to do was demonstrate I knew the procedures. I was good at what I did; technical questions should be easy.
I didn’t even have to worry about what to wear. When I came out of the bathroom he had laid out on the bed a nice looking skirt and blouse combination well-suited for a professional office. Solid colors, a conservative knee length hemline, it was something I’d pick out myself. Naturally before I started he put the belt on me. He expected me to wear it whenever we were outside the apartment. As long as I wore a skirt, or a dress that wasn’t too tight, I could get away with the belt not showing underneath. I’d never get away with jeans or a pantsuit, but since Steve wouldn’t allow me to wear either one it wasn’t a problem.
While I dressed I watched him change into his Warden’s uniform. Seeing him all in black, with the polished boots, his duty belt loaded with those handcuffs in the back, well, it pushed a lot of buttons in my head. When we left I had to suppress an urge to face the wall and put my hands behind my back. He was taking me where I needed to be. I felt like I was back in the secure area, being escorted to the next class.
When we got to Accounting I waited in the outer office while Steve talked to the department head. It wasn’t a large operation; I counted three women sitting at desks either going through paperwork or entering data into a computer. All three looked up at me when I was alone but no one said anything. I was surprised to see they all wore uniforms.
The door to the inner office opened and Steve waved at me to come in. I assumed that meant he was satisfied with the job conditions, so all that remained was the question of my qualifications. Steve introduced me before I sat down. The first question was about my background.
“Well, sir, I’ve worked with quantitative analysis in managing short and long term investments using different models based on risk assessment. I’m not a mathematician or a programmer, I can’t build a model based on stochastic calculus from scratch, but I know how to extract the data needed to run existing models. I’m very good at spotting the signs of a pump-and-dump operation.” That wasn’t an exaggeration. At my last job twice I’d saved the company from a high-flying investment that suddenly crashed.
He asked tough questions but I had the answers. Through the whole interview Steve sat back, arms folded, watching me, never saying a word.
When he finished it was anticlimactic. “No question in my mind, you know your field. Steve, Lenora is exactly what we need right now. Can she join our team?”
It was strange, sitting right there next to Steve listening to them discuss me as if I wasn’t in the room. This was something unique to the Center. There was an ingrained assumption that he would be the decision maker, and I would simply accept the result. For the first time I saw exactly what it meant to wear a collar, at least in the Center. When we were together it would be Steve in front of me, figuratively if not literally, the buffer between me and the rest of the world. Maybe I was setting Women’s Rights back a few thousand years but I liked it.
“I think it’s a great idea. I suppose there’s no reason she can’t begin immediately.” Steve turned to me. “Is there anything you need to do before starting?” His ability to make snap decisions was amazing. I’d agonize over accepting the job for days, and then take a week before starting. With him in charge it was a done deal in less than an hour.
“No, sir, I can start now.” He hadn’t given me any assignments, and I had nothing planned for today. That was one of his qualities that made Steve so attractive. Once he made up his mind he moved forward at breakneck speed, without any hesitation or second thoughts. I could never do that.
Mr. Sorenson, the department head, stood up and gestured toward the office door. “I’ll turn you over to Elena, the office manager. She’ll get Lenora set up with a place to work and explain our procedures. Good to see you again, Steve, and thanks for bringing Lenora to us.” The two men shook hands. Steve steered me out of the office with one hand on my arm.
In the outer office one of the women immediately came over to us. “This is Elena. She manages the personnel side of the office. There are a few forms for Lenora to fill out, and I hope we can find some space around here for her to work. I’ll leave you to it.” Mr. Sorenson went back into his office.
“Good morning, sir,” Elena began. “To start, I’ll need to order some uniforms for Lenora.” There it was again, going to Steve first instead of me. I’d have to remember to do the same, now that I’d be dealing with our unique version of the public.
“The uniform is a department policy?” Steve asked.
“Yes, sir. If I may explain, we do deal with the public, at least our little community in the Center,” Elena replied. “We want anyone coming in to immediately recognize an employee, so we are issued uniforms.” That explained the clothes. “We can obtain something in Lenora’s size in a few days. We do ask for a neat and clean appearance to maintain a professional image.” I happened to agree with that. “Until then she can wear anything appropriate for the office.”
“If you’ll excuse me, sir, I’ll go clear a desk off for Lenora so she can start on the paperwork. I’ll be back in a moment.” At Steve’s nod of dismissal she went to the back of the office to find me a desk.
He turned to face me, hands on my shoulders. “I believe this is a good opportunity for you. The work can be challenging but not all-consuming. You have the skills to do well here. I expect you to put them to good use.” His expression turned serious. I knew what was coming next, his rules for the office.
“You have permission to use the phone and computer but only for work. While in the office you are allowed to talk to other men, as long as it’s in a professional capacity. You may visit the cafeteria for lunch. When you finish for the day you will go directly home.
“While at work Mr. Sorenson is in charge; you will act accordingly. You will report to him when you arrive in the morning, you will ask permission to go to lunch, you will report to him when you get back. And you will ask permission before leaving for the day. Is that clear?”
“Yes, sir. “ When Steve gave me instructions like those he does cover the details. I only had one question. “Will I be home before you?” I didn’t even know what my work hours were to be.
Steve nodded. “Yes, you’ll be home first. Most days I’ll run about an hour later, unless it gets busy. Shifts can be unpredictable at times.”
Elena came back for me, so Steve left for the secure area. I followed her over to what would be my little cubbyhole. I was excited at the prospect of being allowed to use a computer again. I was mindful of the limits Steve insisted on but even so, if I were assigned a research project, I’d have considerable leeway in what I could search on.
First Day on the Job
Besides Elena, the office manager, there were two other women. I was introduced to the auditor, Mei Lin, from China but she spoke excellent English; and Andrea, who did data entry. Elena was our bookkeeper. My position was to be a financial analyst, looking at cash flow, asset management and all those dull details no one cared about until the cash management accounts came up with huge losses from supposedly blue chip bonds that suddenly drop to junk status.
The morning went fast. Mr. Sorenson brought me a stack of reports to study. He wanted a risk assessment of three different short term cash account offers from brokers. I made steady progress, though it would take a week to investigate the companies behind the offers. Finally I had an excuse to use the Internet to get caught up on the news. I did have to be careful to stay within what Steve ordered but still do my due diligence in evaluating the sales pitches.
At lunchtime Elena came out of the inner office. She informed me Mr. Sorenson had given his approval for me to go to lunch. The others were already getting up. Both of them gave me an odd look. It appeared to me that I was the only one who required permission.
We all went to the cafeteria to eat. Sitting at the table the conversation naturally turned to me as the newcomer. When they found out I arrived at the Center through the secure area the questions really started. That’s when I discovered all three of them had moved to the Center with their masters. Because of the secrecy, what went on in the secure area was a great mystery and the source of endless speculation.
Most of the questions I couldn’t answer. Steve had been very explicit in explaining the importance of not discussing details of the program. I had to apologize with the excuse that I wasn’t permitted to discuss anything directly related to operations. That was another unique aspect about living at the Center. Once I told them I wasn’t allowed they all knew exactly what that meant, and didn’t try to get more out of me.
It didn’t stop the questions though. Andrea took a different approach. “How did it change you, Lenora before versus Lenora afterwards?” That one took some consideration. I didn’t see a problem in answering it since I wouldn’t have to reveal any details.
“Ever hear that expression, I was lost but now I’m found?” It was from an old gospel song, Amazing Grace, a favorite of mine. “I was lost in the sense that I had no direction in life. I was treading water, just getting by day to day. Something was missing but I couldn’t figure out what it was.
“All that changed in an instant. Here I was, at the Center, the property of a man I didn’t even know. He took everything away from me, my freedom, even control over my own body. That’s what changed me, the moment I discovered it was exactly what I needed.” I touched my collar with one hand. “He owns me now, with my enthusiastic cooperation. That’s what I was lacking, someone who would come into my life and take it over, without even asking me.”
All three of my co-workers stared at me in disbelief. It must have been something I said, but I didn’t know what it might be. It was Elena, our supervisor, who finally broke the silence.
“You…” She hesitated. “You weren’t asked? You mean you encouraged him in some way and he assumed it was what you wanted?”
Now I saw their confusion. “Oh no, nothing like that. Steve, that’s my master, he doesn’t ask, he takes. He saw me, he wanted me, he had me brought here so I’d be under his direct control. He didn’t bother with my agreement. That was what was missing, for me. I didn’t realize it at the time but what I really wanted was for a man to force me to obey him, to serve him, to be his property. Somehow, and I still don’t know what he did, Steve figured it out. So here I am.”
Andrea added her own question. “But you still have limits, ones you set? You can end the relationship if it doesn’t work out?”
I shook my head. “No, his authority is absolute. I have a duty to obey him, whether I like it or not. The only limits are the restrictions he imposes on me. As for ending it, I suppose I could ask to leave, but I can’t see how Steve would agree to it. He has a very possessive nature.”
Mei Lin had been quiet for most of the lunchtime conversation. She finally asked a question too. “You would not walk away, if you had the opportunity, outside the Center?”
That was an easy one. I’d thought about it myself. “No, I’d never do that. For one thing, I’d need his permission first, and I’m sure he’d never give it. There are practical considerations too. I might not have this collar on, if we were in public, but I’d still have the chastity belt on and no key to get out of it. And I’d have nowhere to go, no money, no resources of my own. I wouldn’t get very far before he came after me. And when he caught me I’d be back in the secure area for a long time.” I didn’t even want to think about the punishment I’d face for running away.
My reply produced another round of incredulous looks around the table. They lived in the Center, they knew the rules, so nothing I said should be unexpected. Andrea broke the silence this time. “He makes you wear a chastity belt, a real one?”
That question made me realize using a belt wasn’t a common practice outside the secure area. They were curious because they knew nothing about it. I had assumed life at the Center outside the secure area wasn’t all that different, except for a little more freedom and more pleasant surroundings. Now I understood I was wrong; only a small percentage of women on this side had experienced the intense control in place on the other side.
I shrugged. The chastity belt was no big deal. “Yes, it’s real, made of steel, around my waist and between my legs, and it’s kept in place with a sturdy lock. I’m required to wear it any time I’m outside our apartment.” I put my hands around the waistband, covered by my skirt. “It’s right here. He puts it on me before he goes to work in the morning. He takes it off when he comes home at night; most of the time, anyway. If he decides he wants me to keep it on there’s not much I can do about it.” There were a few occasions when he left it on all night. He never explained why, and I didn’t ask. Either he forgot, doubtful since it was obvious I had it on when we went to bed, or he wanted to remind me he was in charge. I rarely thought about the belt now, since I’d been wearing it on a daily basis for so long.
“Isn’t it uncomfortable? Why don’t you take it off during the day?” That was Andrea again. Apparently she wasn’t aware of how a belt worked.
“It’s not difficult to wear, once you get used to it. It can dig into your waist when you bend over, and sitting down takes some adjustment. I can’t take it off; Steve’s the only one who has a key. If I could remove it then there wouldn’t be any point in wearing it in the first place.” It was his responsibility to oversee my belt, not me. “He has the right to control me in any way he wishes, especially in a sexual way. If I had the key it would deny him that right.” Maybe that was only overzealous dedication from the newly converted speaking, but I did have strong opinions on both my obligations to Steve and the way he exercised his power over me. It would bother me if he didn’t insist I wear the belt in public.
Elena shook her head. “Wow, I’m not sure I could handle something like that. To wear it all day long…no, I don’t think I’d agree to something like that.” From her expression Andrea didn’t much care for the idea either. I hoped they’d never have to visit the secure area. There’s a reason belts have locks; it stays on regardless of personal preference.
I didn’t say anything but her reaction irritated me. It wasn’t up to her to decide. The Center was a place where female submission to male dominance was unquestioned. To imply she had the right to refuse was disrespectful to the whole concept. But, to each her own.
Maybe it was a cultural difference, but Mei Lin did get my point. “I would do it. If he asked me I would agree. I wouldn’t like it, but it is his choice to make, not mine.”
“If you are allowed to answer, did your master force you to go to the secure area?” That was Mei Lin again.
“No, he didn’t.” Which was true but neglected the fact that kidnapping me was his backup plan. “Strange as it sounds, I came on my own. I can’t go into the details, though I can tell you it’s not a common occurrence.” And it was the last time I’d volunteer to go there. Maybe Paula enjoyed her visits but I did not look forward to a return trip.
“What if he wants you to go back again?” Mei Lin seemed to be the most curious. “Would you refuse?”
“No, I’d never refuse. I do my best to make sure he won’t have a reason to send me back.” That question zeroed in on one of those nagging worries I can never quite push away. I was well aware just how easy it would be for him to put me back in the secure area. If it did happen I’d go with the knowledge it wasn’t my fault. I worked very hard to keep to all his rules, and I never, ever disobeyed him.
“I don’t think it will happen. I trust him to make the right choices for me. I can’t imagine what it would be, but if he saw the need then I’d reluctantly go. Although, if any of us are sent there we don’t really have much say in the matter. Any woman at the Center might find herself dragged away on a minute’s notice. In practical terms, there isn’t much we can do about it if they take us away. We can’t get out of here on our own, and the Wardens are much bigger and stronger than us.” As Steve pointed out to me, in here men could do whatever they wanted with the women they owned.
All three of them seemed surprised when I pointed out the obvious. Maybe they hadn’t realized the relative freedom they now enjoyed could be stripped away so quickly. I had no such illusions. I didn’t think Steve would arbitrarily send me back, but I understood the possibility existed. It was up to me to ensure he had no reason to change his mind.
It was Andrea’s turn next. “I noticed you got permission to leave for lunch. The rest of us don’t have to do that. We can leave any time. Why does Mr. Sorenson single you out?” I noticed that too. I was shocked when the other simply stood up and announced they were going to eat, without asking. I’d never do something like that unless I was on my own and, of course, if it didn’t violate any rules.
“My master insists I ask before leaving for lunch or at the end of the day,” I explained. “I was surprised it wasn’t a rule for the whole department. I’m not allowed to go anywhere without permission.” Steve was inflexible on that particular point. He had to know where I was throughout the day, and if I did go out he set a time when I had to be back. It was one of the reasons he had ordered a phone for me. After it arrives I’ll have to send a text message anytime I’m on the move, so he’ll know where I am.
“When I was released from the secure section I didn’t realize how few rules there are on this side. Considering why the Center exists I expected we would all be subject to most of the same strict regulations practiced on the secure side. That is the case for me, but I’ve come to realize it doesn’t apply to everyone else.” It didn’t bother me to have less freedom compared to the other women. I liked the way Steve treated me, keeping me in check, always there to watch over me. If they chose otherwise, too bad for them. They didn’t know what they were missing.
Thanks But No Thanks
It had been a hectic morning. During the lunch break I decided to go to the cafeteria by myself. The others were still busy, and since I was at a good stopping point, and hungry, I decided to go early. The daily special was supposed to be pizza, and I couldn’t pass it up. I checked with Mr. Sorenson to get permission to leave.
At the cafeteria I went through the line, picked up a slice of cheese and pepperoni, and then went out to find an empty table. Being lunchtime it was busy but I finally spotted an empty place.
Since the party quite a few people now said hello in passing. I had become a sort of minor celebrity because of those ballet boots. The attention was nice but given a choice I’d still pass on wearing those shoes again. My feet were sore for days afterwards.
I had almost finished when a woman I didn’t recognize came to my table. “Do you mind if I talk to you for a few minutes,” she asked politely. I figured it was going to be another question and answer session about the boots but I had some time so I invited her to join me.
What she had in mind was something completely different. “A friend who was at your party told me you were in the secure area. I thought that since you had made it through to earn your release you must be very knowledgeable about the rules here in the Center?”
I wasn’t sure where she was headed with that question, but Steve had told me that graduating from the secure area was an accomplishment. A majority of the women at the Center had not come here the hard way, as I liked to call it. “I don’t claim to be any kind of an expert, but I’ll try to answer whatever questions you have.” If I didn’t know I could refer her to a real expert, like Paula or Cathy.
“I’m not sure what to do,” she began. “I was checking my husband’s pockets, for the laundry, when I found this.” She placed a napkin on the table and unfolded it. Inside was a handcuff key. “I’m not sure what to do with it.” She pushed it toward me. “Your master is a Warden, isn’t he? Could he take care of it?”
It might as well have been a coiled rattlesnake, tail rattling, and ready to strike. Yes, I knew the answer to her question. It was to run away as fast as possible. Possession of contraband like that was treated as willful disobedience of the worst sort. “Look, you have to take this to…” I started to tell her.
That was as far as I got. A shadow crossed the table. I looked up to see a Warden standing next to us, and the key was in plain sight. I had noticed he was sitting a few tables away from me, also eating lunch, when I sat down. Apparently Wardens never took a break when it came to watching for those little details. “Both of you, stand up, right now,” he ordered.
I was out of my chair and standing in position as fast as possible. My table companion obviously didn’t understand what was happening. She slowly rose, with an uncertain expression. “Sir,” was the only word she got out before the Warden grabbed one arm, spun her around and pushed her down on the table top. Before she could react he had his handcuffs out and on her wrists.
“Stay right there, don’t move and don’t make a sound. You are being detained for violating Center regulations.” I saw panic setting in but she had the presence of mind to obey him. Then he turned to me.
He saw I was standing in position so he must have assumed I wouldn’t give him any trouble. “Stay where you are, and keep quiet,” he told me. I understood I might be in serious trouble, but I was sure once I explained it would be cleared up. Unfortunately for me I didn’t have a chance to tell him my side of the story.
It didn’t take long for another Warden to arrive. “This one,” the first Warden pointed at me, “she comes with us too.” That wasn’t what I wanted to hear, but I couldn’t speak without permission.
The second Warden was behind me. “Hands,” he ordered. I complied, putting my hands behind my back. He locked the handcuffs on my wrists and immediately took hold of my arm. “Let’s go,” he told me, steering me toward the cafeteria door. Don’t worry, I told myself, Steve will come for me as soon as he’s notified.
I didn’t want to face it but I knew where we were headed. The Center has a large area that’s ideal for detaining women. A secure area, as it’s better known. It didn’t take long to arrive at the entrance.
Inside I recognized the lockers, and that ominous door to the other side. The other woman went against the wall so they could process me first. I knew the routine. As soon as the cuffs came off I was ordered to strip. Everything I had went into a locker. I already had on the regulation uniform, a collar and chastity belt, so the Wardens only had to add the missing accessories, matching handcuffs and leg irons.
I didn’t see what happened to the other woman. One of the Wardens took me through the door into the corridor on the other side. Out of sight a hood went over my head, blinding me. That scared me, because I knew the hood was reserved for visits to a place I did not want to go.
Sure enough, when the hood came off I was in front of one of those cages again. In I went, for the full treatment. When I was safely confined, just before the Warden left, he made a point of letting me know what was happening.
“You are in more trouble than you can even imagine,” he told me, looking into the narrow view slot. “You can look forward to special attention from all of us, for as long as you are here. Oh yes, it will be a long time. Every little mistake you make, we’ll be there. Even if you are perfect, it won’t be good enough. You will regret the day you ever touched a handcuff key.” With that he slid the cover shut, plunging me into darkness.
I was shaking after the Warden’s lecture. In their eyes I had committed a mortal sin, a deliberate attempt to defeat one of their most important tools used to restrain women like myself. They had the means to make my life in the secure area unbearable. I had to find some way to explain, to clear my name, and to get back to Steve. In the dark, desperate, I wracked my brain, trying to come up with a way out.
I could break the rule of silence and start telling them my story. Would they believe me? I had serious doubts. If I did speak without permission it would only confirm their suspicions that I was out of control, recklessly disobeying even simple rules of behavior. The only outcome I could see left me still in this cage, but with a gag to keep me quiet.
My one real hope for rescue was Steve. They would have to notify him. He knew I’d never do something like this.
That’s what kept me going, the knowledge Steve would come for me. He was responsible for me, he had to come. And there’s always a bright spot in any situation. I didn’t have those thumbcuffs on.
I couldn’t see but I finally heard the door open. My prayers were answered when the cover over my eyes slid aside, and Steve was standing in front of me. I came very close to spilling out everything to him but caught myself in time. I waited for him to unlock the cage.
That didn’t happen. I was so happy to see him I hadn’t noticed the frown on his face. “Do you know just how much trouble you are in? I’m told you were caught trying to give a handcuff key to another woman? I can’t believe you would do such a thing. And where would you even get a key?”
Something was horribly wrong. I was being blamed for everything. If only he would let me speak.
Steve paced back and forth in front of me. “This is very serious, Lenora. I can’t get you out of there. An investigator has been appointed to review what happened. Until he turns in his report you have to stay in the secure area. It depends on his findings to determine if you will ever get out.”
My last hope came crashing down. Even Steve couldn’t rescue me. I felt the tears running down my cheeks. I hadn’t done anything wrong. If only someone would give me permission to speak!
Steve stopped pacing. “Alright, suppose you give me your version. Remember, there were witnesses. The investigator has the key too, it’s the real thing. I can’t understand where you found it. Go ahead, you have permission to speak.” He folded his arms, waiting.
After how many hours I finally had a chance to defend myself. Tearfully I told him what happened. I ended with a tearful plea. “Sir, I swear, I never touched that key.”
He leaned forward, reaching through the bars to put his hands on my shoulders. “You’re absolutely sure of that? You never touched that key, not even one time? Think carefully, this is important.”
I didn’t have to think about it. I’d never even come close to any kind of restraint key. “No, sir, I did not touch it. I didn’t even touch the napkin she used to cover it.”
He thought for a moment. “Okay. Lenora, I believe you. I’m going to ask the investigator to talk to you. Tell him exactly what you told me. One more time, you are absolutely sure? If you are wrong you’ll be caught in a lie. That will be the end of it. No one will believe anything you say.”
“I’m not afraid, sir. I did not touch the key or the napkin. I’ll swear to it.” I didn’t quite understand why this one fact was so important, but Steve seemed to think it was crucial.
He took a step back. “I can’t make any promises, but don’t give up hope. This changes everything. For now you’ll have to remain in this cage, but I may be able to improve your condition soon.” With those words he closed the cover over my eyes.
I heard the door close. He was gone but I had something to hold onto now. Steve believed me, and he was fighting to get me back. Hope is a wonderful thing. I felt like I could stand in that cage all day long, if that’s what it took to get back to my master.
I don’t know how long I waited until I heard the door open again. When my eye cover was opened I saw two Wardens in front of me. One of them was unlocking the cage. It didn’t take long to free me. They left the handcuffs and leg chains on, but that was normal practice in the secure area, so it didn’t worry me.
“You are going to be questioned regarding your case. You will answer the investigator’s questions honestly and in full detail. If he is not satisfied you will be returned to the cage for the evening. It will not be a pleasant night for you.” One of them took hold of my arm while the other followed close behind.
In the office a man in a suit sat at one of the desks. I was taken to a chair in front of him. This must be the investigator, so I was on my best behavior, sitting in position, my hands behind the back of the chair. He looked at me for a moment before starting. “You have been accused of a serious offense. Some of the evidence does implicate you. Your master has decided you will be allowed to explain your actions. Tell me what happened.”
I explained everything to him. I did not know the woman. I have never had access to a handcuff key, and would never attempt to obtain one. Mindful of what Steve kept asking me, I told him I had never touched the key or napkin. When I finished he made some notes but didn’t respond immediately.
When the phone rang I jumped in surprise, but quickly recovered. The investigator took the call. He turned away from me and spoke in a low tone, so I couldn’t hear what he said. The conversation went on for a while. He abruptly hung up and came back to the desk.
He didn’t say anything but he studied me carefully. I’m not sure what he was looking for. I had been allowed to tell my side. I trusted these men would treat me fairly now they had all the facts.
“The investigation will conclude tomorrow. Your master will be notified of the results at that time.” With that he stood up, spoke briefly to one of the Wardens, and left. I didn’t hear what he said.
I sat there, watching him walk out the door, not sure what was happening. A Warden took hold of my arm. “Stand up,” he ordered. I was resigned to returning to that cage, grateful for the short break. There wasn’t anything left for me to do but wait, with the hope the investigator, who had never told me his name, would believe me.
I didn’t go very far. The Warden took off the cuffs and allowed me to sit down at the office table. There were two Wardens in the room, the one handling me and another working at a desk. The one next to me left, without telling me what to do next. I sat in position, quietly, trying not to draw attention to myself. It was a vast improvement over that cage.
I don’t know how long I waited until I heard the door open behind me. I couldn’t see who it was but the moment I heard the “stand up” command I recognized Steve’ voice. I jumped up and almost threw my arms around him, but his stern expression stopped me. This was still the secure area and I had to act accordingly. “Turn around, hands behind your back.” For once I was eager to feel those handcuffs on my wrists, because this time it would be my master in control.
“You’re coming home with me,” he whispered in my ear. It was everything I wanted to hear. He took me to the exit, where my clothes were waiting. Steve kept his arm around me the entire time while we walked back to the apartment. I held on to him as if my life depended on it.
The next morning Steve let me sleep in. It had been a long day and night, but in the end I was vindicated. I was exhausted emotionally but I was home and that’s all that mattered.
Steve sat me down on the couch. “I want to talk about this incident. You can relax, you’re not in trouble. I want you to sit and listen to me first.” Without even thinking about it I sat in position, all the while trying to read his expression when he pulled his chair over to sit in front of me.
“The most important lesson from this is for you to know I never doubted you.” He put one of his large hands over mine, carefully folded in position on my lap. “When I first heard the report, what struck me was that nothing added up. Why would you pass a handcuff key to a woman you didn’t even know? And how, or even why, would you even have a key? I know it wasn’t mine, and there was no other way you could possibly obtain one.”
“And the way it was delivered, in a napkin, that made no sense either. Your clothes have no pockets, not even hidden ones. They were carefully examined. So how did you get it to the cafeteria? No one saw you carrying anything in the lunch line, before you picked up a tray. Everyone in the cafeteria at the time was questioned.”
I didn’t know that, but of course no one would tell me. Someone had decided I didn’t need that particular bit of information. I hadn’t even known about the accusation I supplied the key. Steve was right; I had no way to carry it without being seen.
“While you were being questioned, you recall the investigator had a phone call? It was to inform him your fingerprints were not on the key. There wasn’t time to test the napkin for DNA, to see if you handled it, but it seems your accuser didn’t know a DNA test takes a week or more.”
That’s why it was important when I told him I never touched the key. I was so rattled I didn’t even think about it. A DNA test? On TV shows the detectives never had to wait for results. I had no idea it took so long.
“When he left you he went directly to the other woman to question her again. After she was told only her DNA was on the napkin, and only her prints on the key, she confessed it was all her idea and you had no part in it. She panicked when she was caught. To save herself she told everyone it was all your idea.”
That explained why I was left at that office table instead of being put back in the cage. The investigator must have intervened on my behalf.
“As soon as I got the call from the investigator that your detention order was lifted I came for you. You know the rest after that.”
He stopped. I still didn’t have permission to speak, so I waited to see if he had something else to say.
“You also need to know one more thing. Regardless of the evidence, even if there had been nothing to clear you, I would still do everything in my power to save you. You belong to me, you and I both know it. You would never disobey me.” He reached behind his back and took out a pair of handcuffs. His other hand was still on mine.
“You understand why I use these. They are a tool, an inanimate object no different than a spoon or a screwdriver. This is a tool that has the sole purpose of restraining you. Are they necessary? For physical control they are effective but if I told you to hold one wrist with the other hand, behind your back, I know you would be every bit as helpless. What this tool does is prove I will not take you for granted. It is my right to force you to obey me, a right you will not deny me.” He leaned close. “They are your guarantee I want you on my terms.”
“You see how important it is that you don’t try to defeat the restrictions these,” he held up the cuffs, “place on you when you wear them. The lock is there so you can’t take them off. The key represents my authority, my right to limit you. If you have a key the tool is useless. It would give you the ability to resist me. It takes away that absolute you rely on, the knowledge I am always in charge, every minute of the day.”
He was right. As much as I had grown to hate those things while in the secure area they did serve a purpose. Since he owned me he had a right to force me to submit. Restraining me was one way to demonstrate he would be obeyed with or without my consent. I relied on him to do just that, to prove to me he had the strength and determination to dominate my life.
All in the Details
Now that we were both working Steve had established a routine for the mornings. After we ate breakfast I’d get ready first, and then he’d start. While he took a shower I waited in the living room. We both started at the same time so he normally would escort me to the accounting office first.
When he came out of the bedroom I was ready for his inspection before we left for work. As usual I stood in position, looking straight ahead, while he walked around me. I never took this part for granted, but I was confident I would pass. I had a checklist in my head that I went over every morning to be sure I hadn’t missed anything. Even so it was up to him to decide if I required a correction.
Knowing I would be subject to his examination before leaving every day left me no room to be lazy or careless. I was certain if I didn’t pass I would have to answer for it. In the secure area the Wardens had a similar policy, checking us after we were allowed to shower and clean up in the morning. They had a zero tolerance policy for any mistakes. Steve wouldn’t let me get away with being careless either. That’s why I had my checklist. Hair combed, no wrinkles in my blouse, top two buttons open, skirt just above the knee, it all had to be perfect. I was proud of the fact he never found any mistakes.
Normally Steve would release me from position when he finished looking me over, but today he changed the routine. After his last look walking around me he stood in front of me with a distracted look, as if he was thinking about something. I was frantically running down my checklist again, afraid I had missed something. I tried to remember that last look in the mirror. Did I miss a wrinkle in my skirt? Did I have the right number of buttons closed on my blouse? Was there something he didn’t like about my hair?
Finally he broke the silence. “Today, when you get home you will immediately remove your office uniform. When I walk through the door you will be kneeling on the floor, displaying yourself for my inspection.” That was a tough one. From the moment I got home I had to be ready before he opened the door. No warning ahead of time, which meant I had to be on the floor as quickly as possible in case he came home early.
“Yes, sir,” was all I could say. Once I thought about it his assignment wasn’t really as bad as it sounded. Even though I’d have to wait on the floor I could get into position quickly, as soon as I heard the door start to open. As for displaying myself in such a sexually explicit way, that was easy for me. Steve didn’t know but I’d been practicing that very position in the mirror when I was alone. I could tell from the way his face lit up when I knelt for him it had a special appeal. I’d make sure every hand and every knee would be exactly where it was supposed to be. When he walked through that door I would be in the precise position he demanded.
After that we left for work. He didn’t elaborate on his assignment for me. I tried a few carefully worded hints that I’d like to know more, but he just shook his head. One thing I’d quickly learned about Steve; on some matters he’d tell me when I needed to know and not a moment before. I also learned not to pursue it further. He wasn’t going to explain, but irritating him with more questions, even those subtle hints, would earn me an order to be quiet if I were lucky, or something far more unpleasant if I provoked him.
Steve dropped me off at the accounting office. I reported to Mr. Sorenson first before going to my desk. I tried to concentrate on work but what was coming later on kept intruding. My little voice whispered nonstop in my ear, a constant reminder there was no room for error. Over and over I rehearsed it in my head, exactly how far apart my knees should be, how my hands and fingers should overlap behind my head, and the angle to the door where he would first catch a glimpse of me. Plus there was the poke in the back from my lesson with Cathy, reminding me to keep my shoulders pulled back. I don’t know why but I was obsessed with the most trivial of details.
The work day finally came to an end. After Mr. Sorenson gave me permission to leave I hurried home as fast as I could. I wasn’t allowed to run but I could walk fast. Once through the apartment door I started unbuttoning my blouse the moment the door closed. Before anything else I had to get the uniform off.
I risked a quick check in the bathroom mirror before finding my spot on the living room floor. I did cheat a bit. I brought my hair brush with me, gambling that I’d have enough time to run a few strokes through my hair and hide the brush under the couch afterwards. I wasn’t as anxious now. If Steve did surprise me by coming home early I wouldn’t be caught standing or in the wrong place.
As ready as I could be I settled in to wait. I lined up with the door, making sure I was also in the middle of the room. I left my arms down so they wouldn’t be tired. I was sure I could get them up in time, as long as I kept a careful watch on the door. Every so often I rose up to give my knees a break. I wanted to be prepared for a long spell in position, since I didn’t know what he intended for me.
The moment I heard the doorknob start to turn I snapped into position, arms up, head high, and back straight. I risked a quick glance down to make sure my legs were lined up before starting that eyes front stare. I held my breath when the door started to open.
Steve took his time at the door. On the other side she would be waiting for this moment. He had deliberately been vague as to when he would be home, for the sole purpose of increasing her anticipation. He put his hand on the doorknob and slowly turned it. She might need that extra second of warning to get ready for him.
When he did open the door there she was, exactly as he expected. She didn’t move when he closed the door and turned to face her. He took his time, both to enjoy the picture of her kneeling before him, and to make sure nothing was out of place.
Steve stood over her, carefully checking the angle of her legs, if her back was straight and head up. Her eyes never wavered, staring straight ahead as she had been taught. He went behind her, checking her hands, the angle of her bare feet. Try as he might, he could find no fault.
He knelt down on one knee, still behind her. Taking her wrists in his hands he moved them down toward her thighs. “Hands down,” he ordered, “you know where they go.” Lenora did know; she placed them exactly where he wanted. Leaning in close Steve whispered in her ear, “Close your eyes. You will hold this position. Do not speak, do not answer me. I want you to concentrate on my voice. Put all other distractions out of your mind.”
Steve placed his hands on her shoulders, holding her in place. “The day I found you was the turning point of my life. The more I learned about you, the more I knew I had to have you, whatever the cost, no matter what the risk. Now you belong to me, body and soul. No man could ever hope for more than a woman like you.
“Right now, right this very minute, this is what you need to know. I’m not a man who is accustomed to sharing feelings, emotions, or my innermost thoughts. You often see through me anyway, but on this occasion I’ll share with you.” Steve ran his hands down her arms, stopping just above her elbows. “You give my life purpose. Without you I was just as lost as you were before you came here. With you I have a purpose. Never doubt that I will always take care of you. I am here to shelter you from the rest of the world. I will see to it whatever you need will be provided.”
He ran his hands the rest of the way down her arms, to her hands. Close behind her he took hold of a wrist in each hand. “I promise you I will never take you for granted. Being special much is required from you, more than what is expected from other women. It may be difficult but you have proven, to me and to yourself, you are capable of meeting and exceeding those demands.
“I will be there to ensure you live up to those obligations. I will not tolerate anything less than your very best effort. I know what you can do; there will be no room for less than a full commitment from you.”
He leaned in to kiss her neck. A tremble ran through her body. Steve felt it in her arms. He tightened his grip. “Do not move. Show me you have the will, the self-control, the discipline to obey me. Keep your eyes closed. Don’t move. Listen only to me.
“Know this too. I will do all that is within my power to hold onto you. I will be relentless in finding ways to make you depend on me, mentally and physically. I will not be satisfied until it is impossible for you to even imagine a life without me in charge. I will never let you go. This is a lifetime commitment for both of us.
“From the moment you wake until the moment you fall asleep I will be there, setting your rules, defining your goals, dictating how you behave. Every moment of the day your first thought will be, am I allowed to do this? Do I need permission? Is it within my boundaries? Will I break a rule if I do this? You will know the answer to those questions, because you know me. That is what makes you so unique.
“ I will not ask you, I will tell you. You and I both understand it is essential that you have a strong hand to guide you. Given an assignment no one is more diligent than you, working tirelessly to meet and exceed every expectation. But we both know that task must be set by someone else, by me. It must come from without, not from within.
“That’s my promise to you. I will be there to tell you what you must do. No should, but must. There is only one way forward, my way, the way you must follow every time. I require your perfection.”