© Copyright 2015 - AmyAmy - Used by permission
Storycodes: F/f; Solo-F; M/f; mistake; collar; capture; bond; tape; gag; chain; cuffs; strip; lingerie; hum; blackmail; enslave; cons/nc; X
Chapter 7: An Unexpected Visitor
Erica stared across the kitchen table at Bea, then down at the collar. It sat there silently, open, speaking volumes. “You told me you couldn’t take it off.”
Bea, sitting opposite, gave a huge crazy grin. “I may have lied about that, a tiny bit.”
Erica was dressed in one of Bea’s old shirts and Erica was dressed in one of Bea’s designer dresses. Bea had even straightened her hair to match how Erica used to have hers. Erica sighed. Despite the clothes, Bea was obviously the attractive one and she was the lump.
Erica leaned forward, close to Bea. “You completely lied about it.”
“It opens with a special pin. After you put it on me, I mailed the pin to myself next-day delivery. So it was true that I couldn’t open it.”
Erica squinted at Bea sceptically. “It’s been weeks.”
“Of course,” Bea said. “That’s how long next-day delivery takes. At least, if you mark it urgent.”
Erica shook her head as if it would somehow clear the buzzing behind her eyes. Nothing Bea said ever made any sense. “Never mind. At least it’s off now.”
“I get it. It doesn’t mean anything if you don’t want it on me. One day though, you’ll understand. One day, I’ll earn it.”
Erica exhaled loudly. “Whatever happens between us, I doubt I’ll ever be comfortable with you wearing that thing, and never with my name written on it.”
“I stuck electrical tape over the engraving. It doesn’t say ‘Rica’s Bitch’ any longer. Would you give it to me without it?”
“Bea… I don’t know how to be what you want. I don’t even know how I feel about girls.”
“I think you do Rica. Now you’re being dishonest. I thought we were past that?”
Erica clenched her fists beneath the table. Why did this girl have to be so pushy? She was the one who ought to be the domme. If they were ever to have that kind of relationship there was no way that she could be the one on top. She ought to complete the swap.
“You’re the one on top here Bea, don’t you see it?” Erica picked up the collar and started to fit it around her neck.
“No!” Bea yelled. She snatched the thing from Erica’s hands.
Erica gestured towards the collar. “It would be better for both of us.”
“No! No! No!” Bea yelled. Tears streamed down her face. She got up and put the useless ornament on the kitchen counter behind her.
Erica put her hands in her lap. “Sorry. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you.” What the heck had she been thinking? She’d almost locked that thing around her neck. What a mess she’d have been in if Bea hadn’t stopped her.
Bea settled back in her chair, put her hands on the table, reaching towards Erica. “I shouldn’t have pushed you. I know I’m bad. You just haven’t seen it yet, that’s why you’re too kind to me. I need a firm hand. Strong discipline.”
Erica had no intention of acting as crutch for Bea’s defective morality. “I need to get ready for work.” Had her uniform dried? It usually had more time to dry, but she’d got in late.
She checked the clothes rack. The uniform was still damp. She hurried upstairs to get her hairdryer. There was a knock at the door downstairs, the sound of Bea scurrying to answer it. Who would show up at nine in the morning?Justified Indignation
Bea opened the door, expecting another delivery for Rica, or maybe one of Mitch’s friends. There was a woman at the door, definitely not a courier. A heavy-set woman with short ginger hair. She skewered Bea with a beady-eyed stare but said nothing.
“Hello,” Bea said. “Can I help you?” Perhaps she was here to see Mitch – why not? Though she looked a little old to be his girlfriend. A relative maybe?
“Rica?” The woman said. “You’ll have to take my word for it, but I’m Ee-Zee.”
“Oooh,” Bea said, stalling. She hadn’t heard what the woman said clearly. Her voice was a bit growly and her accent was hard to make out, some thick Scottish variant. And easy? What did she mean? Was that her name or her state of mind, or some Scottish word that might mean almost anything?
“I was worried hen. First there’s the stuff about your wee professor, and then your dodgy housemate plotting, or something. Then I didn’t hear a thing for days. I hope you don’t mind I had to come and check you were right, you know?”
“Uh, no… That’s ok,” Bea said. “You tracked me down?” What did this woman mean about her professor? Her housemate, that had to be Rica. What was dodgy about Rica?
“I’m in the right place? Aren’t I? I’ve not made a total idiot of myself just now?”
What did this woman mean? It didn’t make sense. The only thing she could follow for sure was Rica’s name. “I guess you are,” Bea nodded. “You want to come in and talk?”
“Right, seeing as I’ve come a fair way and all that. The bus just got in this morning.”
“This way,” Bea said. The woman pushed past. She was as tall as a man, but that wasn’t the memorable thing about her. With her dungarees and plain white t-shirt, she looked like a stereotypical lesbian from some old nineties sitcom. Was she ugly? Or what people called distinctive? It was hard to call it.
Rica was already in the kitchen, blasting her Burger Bar uniform with a hairdryer. The woman looked back at Bea. “This your housemate?” She hardly gave Rica a glance. It was a bit of an odd thing to say given that she said she was here to see Rica. She had said that, hadn’t she? Maybe Bea had been mistaken.
“Yes,” Bea said.
Rica was looking glorious. That old dress fit her better than it had ever fit Bea. It was a famous brand but the style had never caught on. It touched in all the right places. With her curves, Rica could really carry it off. Even when she was stuffing a Burger Bar uniform into a plastic bag, she was still beguiling.
“Hello.” Erica raised her eyebrows questioningly at Bea. “You going to introduce your friend?”
“You can call me Ee-Zee,” the woman – Ee-Zee – said.
Erica’s face fell. “Oh.” She gestured for Bea to follow her into the laundry. “Can we talk a second?”
“Sure.” Before the word was completely out of her mouth Erica had grabbed her by the hand and dragged her into the laundry, which was really just a passageway to the back door.
Bea’s knees went wobbly. Rica was holding her hand.
“I don’t want to talk to her,” Rica said, her voice hushed.
“You know her?” Bea closed her eyes. Rica… Rica was holding her hand. So warm.
“Yeah. From online. I don’t know how she found me, but I might have pissed her off. I can’t think why else she’d show up.”
“She does look scary,” Bea said.
“Yeah. She does.”
Bea pressed closer to Rica, took a deep breath of her scent. She had to say something, but what? Her mind was a blank. “Is she a DJ?”
“What? I don’t know what she does. Maybe she’s some kind of feminist agitator, or a university lecturer, or maybe–”
Bea doubted it. She had a two-letter name. A two-letter name meant DJ.
“She said something about a professor.”
“I was going to say, maybe she’s a hacker. The black-hat kind. I don’t see how else she could have found me.”
Bea glanced at the door to the kitchen. “Is she dangerous?”
“Very… I should think. To me, anyway.”
Bea nodded. Ee-Zee. The handle of a dangerous hacker. Not a DJ after all. It made a sort of sense. “What are you going to do?”
“I have to get to work. Can you look after her for a while? If you could get her to go away that would be perfect.”
Rica made a bolt for the back door. Bea probably should have tried to stop her, but it was too late. She’d run off and left the door open behind her. Bea pulled it closed and returned to the kitchen. Rica had smelled so nice.
“What happened to your wee housemate?” Ee-Zee said. She was sitting at the table with a frown on her face. Maybe it was a frown, or possibly her mouth was just made that way.
“She left for work. She’ll be back later, if you want to talk to her. I don’t think she’s in a talkative mood though. She’s having a rough time. Work probably.”
“I see. And did she really plan to mess with your head, or was it all innocent?”
“I don’t know exactly how she feels about me right now. She’s in denial I think.”
“She’s a perfect wee fembot, isn’t she?”
“Fembot?” Weren’t they robots with machine-gun boobs from Austin Powers? Rica didn’t look anything like a sixties bimbo-robot with machine-gun boobs.
Ee-Zee leaned in close. “Never mind. So you’re ok right? Nothing else has happened?”
“I’m fine.” The truth. What was this crazy woman on about?
“That a mark on your neck?”
“No… Oh, you mean from the collar?” No point denying it. It was sitting next to the toaster. Maybe she’d seen it already? It would make sense if she had. She’d been alone in the kitchen for several minutes, hadn’t she?
“From the what now?”
“I’ve been wearing a collar the last few weeks.” Next Ee-Zee would be telling her there was something wrong with that. What a prude.
“And who put that on you?”
“Well… You know…” Bea gave a big pantomime shrug. It wasn’t any of this woman’s business.
Bea couldn’t answer that one without saying yes. The conversation was confusing but she wasn’t going to say anything that might get Rica into trouble.
“It’s a good thing I showed up when I did. Looks as if you’re in some mess of trouble.”
“No. No trouble.”
“You don’t look fine. Your eyes are red. You’ve definitely been crying.”
“It was just a disagreement over the collar. We don’t see eye to eye on the bondage lifestyle thing but I know she’ll come around eventually. She’s such a kind person. I know she doesn’t mean to hurt me.”
“I hear this all too often,” Ee-Zee said. “I didn’t realise she had so much control over you.”
“I don’t think she understands that either.”
“What did she want to talk about before?”
“Oh… She asked me to look after you. I think she would prefer for you to leave before she gets back from work. You don’t have a reason to stay, do you?”
“I bet she does. Don’t worry yourself hen, I’ll get her to see things from a fresh point-of-view, eh?”
Bea leaned closer, “Can you really do that?”Conflict Resolution
Erica stepped into the back to change into her uniform. Because of Ee-Zee, she hadn’t been able to finish drying it. She rubbed the cheap material between her fingertips. It would soon dry in the heat of the store.
Ellen stuck her head around the door. “Come into my office please.”
Erica held up her uniform blouse as if to say I’m changing. Ellen’s tone was unsettling. Was this where she got fired?
Ellen nodded. “Leave that. You can do it afterwards.”
Rica pushed the bag into her locker and followed.
Ellen’s office was absurdly tiny. Erica found there was hardly room to fit in there because Ellen, Andy and Barney were filling up every bit of available space.
Erica squeezed forward, reaching awkwardly to get the door closed behind her. Barney shot her a horrible stare.
Ellen had crabbed round behind her desk. “Rica… Before you say anything, you don’t have to make a complaint. Andrew suggested I check the video logs for last night. It seems that Mister Cuttle forgot that we record everything that happens in the workplace. There are multiple cameras on the front counter. Mister Cuttle has decided he won’t be working with us at Burger Bar in future. I hope that clears up any concerns you might have about your safety, Erica?”
Had Barney quit? Erica looked down at her hands. “I guess so.” It wasn’t fair. Ellen had her on the spot. He should have got the sack. She caught herself, suppressed a sigh. It could be worse.
Barney shot another furious glare at Erica. “This is bullshit. I’m worth ten of her.”
“I’ll give you bullshit, creep.” Andy cracked his knuckles. “You were spreading rumours about me too. Don’t think that’s forgotten. If anyone’s going to bear a grudge here, it’ll be me.”
Barney grimaced and looked away, bottom lip jutting out. Wow. This was a real boy thing. Andrew was threatening him with violence. Would they really fight if it came to it? Andrew had twenty kilos of muscle on Barney. She wouldn’t like to be in his shoes right now – not that hers were exactly comfy.
Barney gave an unconvincing sniff of derision. He had to force his way past her to get to the door. As he pressed past her boobs, he looked down her top. Erica screwed up her face like she’d found an old sock down the back of the sofa.
It was impossible to leave the tiny office in a dignified style. Andrew, Ellen and Erica all looked at each other. Ellen made a snorting sort of laugh in the back of her nose.
Andrew cracked his knuckles again. “What a jackass.”
Ellen shook her head in slow motion. “I thought he’d be smart enough to avoid getting caught on camera.”
“I didn’t know there were cameras,” Erica said. Why did nobody ever tell her anything? The way they did that made her feel stupid. It wasn’t fair, she wasn’t stupid in that kind of way. Were they treating her like a bimbo?
Ellen avoided her gaze. “It was in your contract. I can’t blame you for not reading all the fine print in that.”
Erica put herself front and centre of Ellen, determined to make herself clear. “So, he just walks away?”
“It’s better this way. Trust me. You don’t want to get dragged into something that goes public. If corporate got wind of it, you might end up getting blamed. Lawyers can twist things. It’s best to let him quit.”
“I wasn’t thinking about that. Sorry. I guess I’m naïve. It’s just… He really frightened me for a minute last night. I was sure… He shouldn’t be allowed to do it to someone else.”
“I saw. You’d probably prefer I hadn’t, but I watched it all. I’m surprised you made it in today.”
Erica didn’t know how to respond, so she didn’t.
Andrew’s voice carried over Erica’s shoulder. “We’re telling everybody that Barney left of his own accord?”
Ellen nodded. “Rica, you’ll keep this to yourself won’t you?”
“I suppose I have to. Do the other girls still think I’m getting special favours?”
“I don’t think there’s anything I can do to fix that situation. It might help if you picked up some of the suck shifts on a regular basis. We’ll be in trouble without Barney covering them.”
“I’ll take some too,” Andrew said. “I’ll make sure we’re not on together. At least the others won’t be able to say you’re getting special treatment.”
Erica wanted to rub her eyes, but she daren’t touch her makeup.
She turned away, opened the door to leave, looked back. “Don’t underestimate the power of self-deception.”
They both looked back at her blankly. What was she saying? Self-deception? No kidding. She knew more about that than anyone, she was an expert at it. She let the door close behind her, leaving Ellen and Andrew alone.Another Session
Today, Erica only had the lunchtime shift. She had to hurry from work to get to her appointment with Belling. When she got there, she had to wait half an hour. She’d rushed for nothing.
Belling ushered her into the ‘treatment room’. Erica settled herself in the usual armchair.
“Sorry about being late, and that I had to cancel last week. I don’t do it lightly. Sometimes a patient has a crisis that I have to attend to. I hope you understand?”
Erica nodded reflexively. “Yeah. Sure.”
“You’re looking different Erica.”
“Yes. I’ve made some changes. I began shortly after my last session actually.”
“Other than what I can see, what sort of changes have you made?”
“Well. It might take a while to go through everything.”
Belling smiled. “I see. Shall we come back to that?”
“If you like.”
“What’s bothering you right now?”
“I was sexually menaced last night. Then, unrelated, this morning, a person I met on the internet tracked me to my home. I guess you could call them a stalker. Also, my housemate is basically blackmailing me into spanking and humiliating her. The people I shared a house with ran off and left me with their debts. Then my housemate invited in these new housemates who … I really wish she hadn’t invited them, they’re trouble for me.”
Belling raised her eyebrows. Belling had some well-defined eyebrows. Erica hadn’t realised how much eyebrows mattered until she started putting on makeup. Belling’s professional image was probably as fake as her own appearance. What was she like at home?
“That sounds like a busy couple of weeks.”
“I left some things in my professor’s office when I ran out in panic. I really need them back. I’m afraid to go there. You think you could prescribe something to take the edge off when I meet him?”
“I really don’t think it would be a good idea.”
“I knew it. I should have made something up instead of telling the truth. You’ve given me things before to reduce anxiety, haven’t you?”
“As part of a structured medication plan. What you’re asking now is different.”
“I don’t think I can face him otherwise.”
“Perhaps you shouldn’t face him then?”
“I need my tablet back. There’s work on there I need. I need my gym things.”
“You don’t have to face him you know? You could ask somebody else to get it for you. Or you could wait until he’s away and ask his assistant. He’s a professor, he must have an assistant?”
“I guess. I’m stupid aren’t I? I’ve been feeling like an idiot a lot recently.”
“You’re not stupid Erica. If you look back at the things you’ve achieved you’ll see that’s true. Is it possible that you want to face him? That’s why you decided you need your things?”
Erica looked down at her knees. “I don’t think a smart person would have got into any of the messes I’ve made the last year.”
So it went on. Erica never did get around to mentioning her plan to start an internet porn site.An Unexpected Welcome from an Old Friend
Erica half-dozed on the bus ride back from her session. Could she face Rimkoff without doping herself up on tranqs? Belling hadn’t been forthcoming. She’d written a bunch of repeats for the other drugs. Maybe Bea could help, or Mitch? Mitch could probably get her a couple of pills. If he was buying pot he probably knew where to get other things. She’d had people offer her all kinds of pills one time or another. Dealers were mad for that stuff.
Ee-Zee popped back into her head. She’d almost forgotten about her. She checked her phone but there were no texts from Bea. Was Ee-Zee still there? Surely she must have left by now?
Erica pulled out her phone and called Rimkoff’s office.
Later, Erica let herself in through the front door. She’d barely closed it behind her when Ee-Zee stepped out of the living room.
Without a word of warning, Ee-Zee grabbed her by the hair and pulled her close. Erica was stunned by the pain. She let out a shriek, batted ineffectually at her larger, stronger, attacker.
“Stop that you wee pest,” Ee-Zee said. Erica’s pain redoubled.
“Hands behind your back,” Ee-Zee said in her thick accent.
Erica knew she ought to struggle but what would it achieve? More hair pulling probably.
She kicked out at Ee-Zee. Missed. Stumbled. Nearly fell. Only the rough grip of the hand buried in her hair held her up. Again, more pain, but she was getting used to it now.
Erica screamed. She screamed like she’d never screamed before. She let rip from the very depths of her lungs.
Ee-Zee slipped a big soft ball into her wide-open mouth, silencing her. No, it wasn’t just a ball. There were straps on it and Ee-Zee was fastening them. They pulled tight, cutting into Erica’s face. It had to be one of Bea’s bondage toys. Her captor yanked on another strap under her chin, tightening it further.
“Or we can do it this way if you like. All the same to me,” Ee-Zee said.
Erica felt a knee in her back, forcing her to the floor, pinned under the big woman’s weight. She could barely breathe with the ball in her mouth. How come she was so weak? There was a rip of tape and then a burning, tugging sensation around her wrists. Another rip, the sound of duct tape being pulled off a roll, and then her elbows were pulled tight together. Her skin was burning and she couldn’t separate her arms.
Her ankles were taped next, and then her knees. All she could do was make quiet whimpering noises. Was Ee-Zee going to kidnap her? Was this crazy stalker going to drag her off to who knows where for reprogramming? Would she end up as a Patty Hearst, Unabomber, feminazi, sacrificing herself in the war against the evil Patriarchy?
Strong arms lifted her and she found herself hanging in Ee-Zee’s arms, a sickening bridal carry. Where was her kidnapper taking her?
Oh my. This was just like something from that book. Oh no. Was it all a game? She felt herself starting to moisten, despite the abuse. Ee-Zee headed upstairs, dragging her along. She hadn’t expected that.Unsatisfactory First Experience
Ee-Zee dumped Erica onto her own bed, but it wasn’t comfortable or familiar. And where was Bea? Had Ee-Zee done something with her? If this crazy bitch had hurt Bea she was going to regret it. Erica might be helpless now but she could bide her time. Whether she was her old self ‘The Flake’ or ‘The Slut’, people always underestimated her. Not that she could blame them, she did some pathetic things sometimes, but Ee-Zee was still making a mistake.
Bea didn’t underestimate her though, did she? Bea saw something she couldn’t even see herself. Maybe if Bea hadn’t believed in her she wouldn’t have been able to change anything at all.
She felt something cold and metallic close around her neck, a close fit. Too close. The nagging tightness held her on edge, as if she was about to choke. She had to focus. Terror that was trying to overwhelm her.
There was a rattle of chain and she felt a tug on her neck. She glanced up to see Ee-Zee padlocking the taut chain to the bed-head with a length of Erica’s own chain.
Something cut through the tape on her arms.
“Funny wee knife for a lassie to have in her bag,” Ee-Zee said. “Are you some kind of hooligan?”
If only Erica could explain, but it was all she could do to breathe, air whistling through the tiny gaps at the sides of her mouth and between her teeth.
“Don’t struggle hen, you’re not going anywhere. I’m going to cut your legs free so I can strip your pretty dress off. If you kick up a fuss I’ll have to cut it off instead. It’s up to you.”
Erica only had a couple of feet of chain between the collar and the bed-head. Even if she got the better of Ee-Zee, she couldn’t get off the bed. No point ruining Bea’s nice dress when it was coming off her one way or another. Easier said than done though, as soon as Erica felt the anger fade, she felt the embarrassment rising.
She flushed hot as Ee-Zee clumsily undressed her. She found herself helping. Soon she was down to her panties and bra. At least she was wearing proper panties today and not the horrid thong.
Ee-Zee climbed onto the bed and straddled her. She was heavy. Erica might be crushed to death if the woman wasn’t careful.
First one of Erica’s wrists was pushed up and cuffed, then the other. Using her chain, and her padlocks. The irony. Then Ee-Zee climbed off her, merciful release, and cuffed her ankles.
“How do you like that? How does it feel to be on the receiving end, eh? Did you think about how poor Rica felt when you did this to her? Well, we’re going to have a nice time here for a while. You can wear that collar you put on her and see how it suits you.”
Erica couldn’t believe her ears. This was an abysmal farce from start to finish. This oaf of a woman must think that Bea was her. It ought to be impossible. No. The video images Ee-Zee had seen were probably fuzzy and badly lit. Erica had hidden her face, and she’d changed her hair completely since then. Ee-Zee had really only had the clothes to go on.
But what had Ee-Zee done with the real Bea? What had she done with the girl she thought was Rica?
Surely, Bea could have set her straight? But what if Bea was going along with it for her own reasons? No, she couldn’t have. She’d stopped her putting the collar on this morning. She had hated the idea. Had she changed her mind? Maybe she’d got so scared she’d run off. It would be understandable.
Ee-Zee gave Erica’s nipple a pinch. “Get yourself settled. I’ll be back before you know it.”
Erica tugged at the chains. Moaning into the gag. Her captor closed the door behind her. Erica tried her bonds again. It was futile, all it did was chafe her wrists and ankles.
Erica sighed through the gag. Bea had enjoyed this, but she hadn’t been at the mercy of a confused and dangerous fanatic. How far was Ee-Zee willing to go? If she was lucky, the crazy woman would stop after administering a little scare and let her go. If she was unlucky… She could end up with Bea and Ee-Zee double-teaming her until she couldn’t tell up from down. In those books, the women’s personalities disintegrated, crumbling at the first touch of a macho penis, or the first brutal whipping. Surely, in real-life, she wouldn’t crumble for Ee-Zee and Bea so easily? Would she?
The collar was a constant nagging irritation, but it was a minor issue compared to the gag. Erica’s jaw was cramping up. She’d be in agony if she didn’t get that huge ball-gag out soon. She bit down hard, but it hardly gave way at all. Her eyes teared up and mascara stung her eyes.
Her thighs ached. Her legs were spread wider than she was used to. She did a few stretches every day but this was too much. Did Bea really enjoy being trapped like this? It was nothing but discomfort. What did anyone see in it? It was a good thing she hadn’t put herself at Bea’s mercy this morning. She might have been tied into days of this. Literally. She was too stubborn to back down. She’d have had no choice but to go with whatever Bea wanted, until she’d proved her point. Now she’d tasted bondage, it definitely wasn’t for her.
Her arms began to ache as badly as her legs. She tried to move the ball in her mouth, anything to ease the jagged spikes of pain in her jaw. It was useless. She couldn’t push it out. It was strapped in tight.
The sound of footsteps coming up the stairs… Was Ee-Zee back? She couldn’t have been gone long, though it felt like an age. The bedroom door opened. A face peered through the gap. Erica tried to shriek. It was no good of course. The gag muffled that too. Mitch was looking at her through the door.
He came all the way in and closed the door behind him. His gaze drifted down Erica’s body. At least Ee-Zee had let her keep her underwear. She still flushed red with humiliation.
He gave half a smile. “I thought so.” He moved closer and held out a hand towards Erica’s face. “I could fry bacon over this. You don’t look like you’re enjoying yourself.”
Erica thrashed her head from side to side, trying to force words past the gag. She ended coughing, choking on her own spit.
“You want this off?”
Erica nodded quickly and repeatedly.
He reached behind her head. His fingers found the buckle. He pulled the ball from her mouth, sending a bolt of agony through her jaw muscles. The gag was gone but she couldn’t close her mouth properly. Her tongue was a numb lump.
“Thanks,” she said, the word barely intelligible.
“That tall chick did this?”
“What’s the deal?”
“She’s crazy. Jumped me.” Erica’s mouth was still numb.
“You’re not into this kind of thing then?”
“Do I look like I am?” Erica’s jaw didn’t want to move. The words came out more like, “Dith iff, luck lithe eye-am.” Her eyes started to tear up again. She was losing it. Her emotions were getting away from her. She had to hang onto the anger.
“Padlocks. Where are the keys? Has she got them?”
Erica couldn’t shrug, bound as she was. She said nothing, still working her jaw.
Mitch stalked around the room, flipping stuff over, looking for keys. Apparently, none were forthcoming.
“The keys were on the desk.”
“Not there now,” Mitch said. “Don’t go anywhere. I’ll be right back.”
He left, closed the door behind him. A few minutes later she heard yelling. A crash. Heavy thumping noises. It went quiet again.
A couple of minutes later, she made out the heavy tread of feet coming up the stairs. The door slammed open. Mitch had Ee-Zee over his shoulder. He gripped one of her wrists with his right hand. His left was stopping her from kicking. She was punching vigorously at his back with her free arm but he didn’t seem to notice.
He dropped Ee-Zee’s bulk onto the floor and pinned her, face down. Using the duct tape that she’d used earlier, he bound her wrists together behind her back. He seemed to be applying a generous amount of tape. Erica’s view of it wasn’t clear at first. He moved, and blocked her view completely.
Ee-Zee was making a desperate, muffled sound. He must have taped her mouth. Mitch stood, jangling a bunch of keys. Her padlock keys!
At first, he couldn’t match key to lock, but with each one he opened, the choice grew easier, and finally only one lock remained. The chain was still locked to the collar. Thankfully, Ee-Zee had used a different lock to fasten the chain to the bed, and that one was open, so she could get free and stand up. She still had the collar on, and the collar had several feet of chain hanging from it.
This’ll teach me to read those stupid books. Erica checked through the keys again. The final key was definitely missing. Ee-Zee was another character from those books. Two bound girls. Ee-Zee’s dungarees had been removed, probably so Mitch could tape her legs properly. She was trussed like a chicken, hogtied with tape, mouth sealed with a generous X of tape.
“I can’t find that last key anywhere,” Mitch said.
Mitch considered Ee-Zee sceptically. “We could ask her.”
“No point. If she had it, it would be on the same ring as the others. It must have got lost. It won’t matter if I can get the collar off.”
“I don’t see a lock on it.”
“There’s a thingummy. Bea can open it.”
Mitch knelt down and poked Ee-Zee in the ribs suspiciously. “Bea’s not in.”
Erica’s attention followed Mitch’s gaze. Ee-Zee’s skin was pale, puffy, blotched in places where her soft body was squeezed and trapped by the tape. Her hands had turned a dark red.
Mitch reached for the spit-soaked gag lying on the floor. “Tape won’t hold. Whose is this?”
Erica made a grumpy sound. “Don’t ask me. Never seen it before.”I Was Just In the Neighbourhood
Bea put down the bag of take-away and fumbled for her keys. Where were they? She wasn’t used to having pockets. Now she had too many places to put things.
“Excuse me, Miss?” It was a deep male voice. One she’d never heard before.
Bea would have panicked if the voice hadn’t been so refined and musical. Each word was perfectly formed and accentless, the way her parents spoke. She turned to see who it was. Her teeth were on edge. She would be naïve to judge a person by their voice alone.
A middle-aged man with remarkable eyebrows and a pair of those rectangular, dark-framed glasses that hipsters always wore, was at the gate. He had a green, re-useable supermarket eco-bag in one hand. Bea looked him up and down again. The bag didn’t match his clothes, and his spectacles didn’t suit a man of his age. There was something off about him, but he was probably harmless nonetheless.
“Are you a friend of Erica’s? Erica White?” He said.
“Do you know her?” Bea glanced around. Was he really alone?
“Yes. Indeed. I’m her tutor.”
Bea forced a smile. “You’re looking for her?”
“She left her bag in my office a few weeks ago. I’d quite forgotten about it until she called today. I had to come this way for other reasons. Is she about?”
Bea discovered her keys. They’d been in her bag all along. “She was at work when I went out. Not sure if she’s back. Can you wait?”
Bea opened the door “Do come in.” She gestured to him to join her with a nod, added a smile, just in case. He smiled back. Creepy.
She closed the door, offered a hand. “Bridget. Please call me Bea.”
He shook her hand. Just right. Not too firm. Not too limp. “Professor Sergei Rimkoff.”
Bea smiled again. For real this time. “Ooh. Professor. You should have said.”
“She didn’t mention me?” He sounded surprised. His eyebrows took on a downcast look.
Bea led the way to the kitchen. “The living room isn’t ours, so it’ll have to be here I’m afraid.”
Rimkoff’s eyebrows made a puzzled expression. He put the bag down in the middle of the table. A used gym towel was poking out of the top. It might conceal anything, though it probably didn’t.
‘Bea, is that you?” Rica’s voice came from upstairs.
“Yes. In the kitchen. Got Chinese. You want some?”
There was a noise of feet on stairs, and a moment later, Rica barged in, all knees and elbows. She registered Rimkoff standing next to the table and pulled up sharply. Her hands flew to her mouth. Bea anticipated the scream coming, but it died, swallowed into something. No scream. Anticlimax. Bea released a breath she’d been holding. What was it about Rica’s professor that had shocked her so?
“Oh, this costume will never do,” Rica said. What costume? She had that old dress on, perfectly ordinary, but Bea’s collar was locked around her neck, and a length of cheap chain dangled from it. Rica had the excess chain looped and grasped in her hand. “I hope you’ve got the thing for this?”
Bea looked up at the ceiling, noticed a cobweb. “Mmm. Yes. I need to find it.” Whatever had Ee-Zee got up to with Rica while she’d been out fetching food?
“No panic. No panic,” Rica said.
Bea suspected there was some small amount of panic.
“As you see, your professor is here. He brought you a bag.” Bea said, redundantly. Rica had clearly noticed the visitor. Bea gave a grin. There was something going on with those two.
“Professor Rimkoff,” Rica said. She edged a step away from the table.
“I thought you might like to talk about your re-admission, and that other little problem. In private of course,” Rimkoff said. He gave a small, dead smile and raised his impressive eyebrows a notch, questioning.
“I see.” She looked over her shoulder at the open door behind her. “You better come up to my room then.” She yelled the last part, loud and wooden, like a badly delivered pantomime line.
“Of course,” Rimkoff said.
Rica stepped around him, keeping a wide gap between them and peered into her bag. She reached in, pulled out the towel, and dropped some bright pink running shoes onto the floor. She dug deeper in the bag, then held up a tablet like a trophy. She tried the power button.
A single Rimkoff eyebrow raised itself. “I would imagine it’s flat.”
Rica gave an odd smile. “Oh dear. What a pity. Well…”
She turned and led the way up the stairs to her room, her steps measured and heavy. Rimkoff followed with a loose, nonchalant stride.The Devil You Know
Erica clasped the tablet to her chest and pushed her door open. Mitch was just getting up, as if he’d been looking under the bed. Ee-Zee was nowhere to be seen. Good.
Mitch put a hand on her shoulder. She flinched, but only a little. “I’ll get that key for you.” He pushed past Rimkoff on the landing then vanished down the stairs.
Erica ushered Rimkoff into her room. Once he was in she closed the door and put her back to it so that he couldn’t block it. “What do you want to say that needs privacy?” She was surprised how hard her voice sounded, loud and angry.
Rimkoff lifted his bushy eyebrows again, a satisfied smile came and went. Or perhaps it was a smirk. “Miss White, you seem more forthright than last time we met. And you certainly dress differently off campus.”
“You’re after something. I can guess what. Please, don’t pretend it’s anything else.”
“My original offer still stands.”
“No chance. I can’t do that.” She didn’t even hesitate to think about it.
“Of course. Don’t you remember me running from you? In tears? How do you think you make me feel? Do you think girls like to be blackmailed into sex? But if I could have given you what you wanted, I would have. You lost my letter on purpose, stole a year from me.”
“I couldn’t help noticing how pleased you were that the tablet battery was flat. Of course it’s flat. I stopped charging it after you remotely wiped it. That was after I saw the video, I recall.”
“A message came up. I thought it might be something you needed to know about, so I copied the URL.”
“No way. You’re lying.”
Rimkoff continued, unperturbed by Rica’s comment. “There was a girl in the video. I had no idea who she was. Until now that is. I took a copy of course. I thought you might be open to a new negotiation. Does this change your decision?”
Erica bared her teeth and hissed. She ought to bite his face off. “You bastard. You’d use Bea like this. Can’t you see she’s an innocent?”
Rimkoff pulled an odd face and gestured to the chain. “What’s all this?”
“It’s none of your business. Don’t ask about it.”
“Obviously, you two are playing bondage games. She didn’t look like an innocent to me in that video. She looked highly experienced. As do you. Almost too experienced for my tastes.”
“Why don’t we start over? I’ll sort out your course problems. You’ll get a pass for last year. It won’t be a distinction, which really, I think you deserved, but there’s only so much I can do. You enrol for your third year and I’ll be your project supervisor. We’ll have a wonderful year. At least, if you can get past your obstructive attitude.”
“And if I don’t agree?”
“Last year is a total loss. Your friend goes viral. I imagine you will fail your repeat year too. Such a pity. So much potential wasted without a chance to flower.”
“Isn’t this unfair? Why me? What do you want? Really?”
“Is it so hard to understand? I’ve hardly been cryptic. Don’t worry, I’m not a demanding man. I’d expect your company on certain evenings. I’m interested in other things besides your body, you know? Though of course, there would be certain intimacies. Nothing too onerous. Not like the perverse games you’re playing now.”
Erica sighed, looked down at his pale brown loafers. She hadn’t been able to do it before, but it had never been a point of pride, or morality, it had just been a barrier of fear. She searched inside herself but there was no trace of panic. The fear was gone. Instead, there was only a numb sense of unreality. This couldn’t be real, could it? Why did these things have to happen to her? This, Ee-Zee, Bea, the whole mess… Why couldn’t she have a nice quiet life, like a normal person?
Apparently, a quiet life was not her face. So be it.
“I’ll do what you want, but I have a condition. You’ll destroy your copies of that video. All of them. All the backups and you made, or gave to other people for safe-keeping, or whatever you did. And if you ever try to use Bea against me again, there’ll be no discussion. I’ll go public with the whole thing. I’ll throw so much shit that enough will stick so that even you will stink.” She paused for breath. “Oh, I don’t doubt you’d win in the end, but it would cost you dearly.”
He adjusted his glasses. Was he nervous? “If I comply, you’ll do anything I want?”
“Anything. As long as it stays private. But you can’t afford it to be public either, can you? Blackmailing a student to be your sex-slave isn’t exactly good advertising for the department is it?”
Rimkoff chuckled. “I would say not. You do have a dramatic turn of phrase, and an over-active imagination. It won’t be anything like that.”
“Your friend’s secret is safe with me. In return, come to my house tomorrow, at five. Wear something pretty. Don’t bring a phone. Don’t bring any hidden recording devices. You can bring your toothbrush if you like. Do you follow my meaning?”
“I need to hear you say it. Do we have an understanding?”
“Yes. We have an agreement. I’ll do as you ask. I’ll see you at… At five tomorrow.”
“You know where I live?” He sighed. “You have somewhere to write it down?”* * * * *
Erica locked the front-door behind Rimkoff, turned and headed to the kitchen.
Bea was eating a plateful of spicy-smelling Mongolian beef.
Erica fetched herself a plate and sat down opposite her. “You’ve got that key? Right? Otherwise I’m going to look pretty silly taking this into accident and emergency.”
Bea pushed over a pin with a handle on it. “Here. You keep it.”
“Bea. This is just a pin. Like for the SIM slot on a phone.”
Bea didn’t look up from her plate. “Really?”
Erica sighed. She found the hole inside the collar and pushed the pin into it. The collar clicked open. “I could have used a bent paperclip to do that if I’d known. Honestly Bea.”
Bea chewed her takeaway food in silence.
Erica dropped the collar and chain on the floor and began spooning Mongolian beef and fried rice onto her plate. “Ugh. This is nearly cold.” Erica sighed. She hadn’t had anything but cereals and apples to eat all week. Even lukewarm, the salty, spicy meat was delicious.
Erica took a long look at Bea’s plate and froze, a forkful of rice poised. “I thought you were a vegetarian.”
“That horrible woman told me to get vegan food, so I got this.”
What did she mean? Given the track-record for getting sense out of Bea, it was best not to ask. Instead, Erica concentrated on eating for a while, and Bea did the same.
Was it worth it? Was it worth selling her soul to save Bea? Tomorrow, she’d go to Rimkoff’s house to become something he wanted. She ought to dread the experience, but there was nothing but disinterested curiosity, as if all the absurd things were happening to somebody else. Some Rica girl in a story would go to Rimkoff’s tomorrow and do whatever she had to. Erica would watch from a distance, untroubled by the soap-opera playing out.
“I’m sleeping in your room tonight,” Erica said.
Bea grinned. “Am I sleeping there too?”
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story continues in The Secret Life of Rica 8: Inevitable