© Copyright 2015 - Jackie Rabbit - Used by permission
Storycodes: M/f; naked; cuffs; caught; blackmail; enslave; harness; boots; cart; outdoors; ponygirl; objectifed; denial; con/reluct; X
Part 8: Destiny Strikes Again
"There can be no going back to your apartment in the city, your two reporter friends and I cleaned it out and boxed up your things for storage." the editor stated roughly. "You're a fugitive from justice in that town now, and the authorities will look for you, or at least the you that matches your mug shot and fingerprints. You have embarrassing information that they will wish to keep out of the public eye, how exactly they have managed to keep all this hidden from those outside of Grandview is possibly the biggest part of the story, but the part you can't tell because you had to escape before you found out for yourself." the editor summarized in irritated fashion.
"I don't understand?" Beth asked, she feeling as if she had just been smacked in the face verbally, the man's words sharp and unexpected.
"Don't be dense, did they teach you nothing in that fine school you apparently attended? On that subject, when we cleaned out your apartment we failed to find your sheepskin, a great many other things of interest, but not that one."
The editor grabbed the connecting chain on his loaned Bockin cuffs that presently adorned Beth's wrists, and he lead her into his summer mansion proper by them without saying another word, but listening to the delightful clip clop of her boots over the cobblestones as she was forced to walk behind. The cuffs were a humorous gift from a friend, and had gone out of favor shortly after they were adopted due to the discovery that they could be picked by almost any bent piece of metal with little skill. He had received them without the key as part of the joke, and the man laughed to himself inwardly thinking he now had two things in his misfit collection that were no longer suited to their original purposes. Either on their own could be fun he thought, together they could entertain him in ways his lovely wife refused to even consider.
Beth sat on a hard chair at the kitchen table, and her editor asked her if she wanted anything, his kind offer suspect with his harsh words only moments earlier. The cold chair on her bare backside also reminded her of her exposure, and temporarily distracted her from the editor's earlier observations and the cold pit in her empty stomach that had nothing to do with hunger. As if waiting for the other heavy iron shod boot to drop, she expected more disturbing news besides that she no longer had a place to live. Beth consumed the sandwich and fruit juice she was offered, finding the ready made meal surprisingly similar to what the girls ate when in the fields, a coincident she didn't necessarily believe in as she pondered how her plans for a lifetime of success had fallen apart so quickly.
The man watched her eat while wearing the cuffs, he opting to leave them on her even though he could have easily picked them in seconds with all his practice. The chain's clink on her plate, or it's more subtle sounds as it was dragged across the simple tabletop were like music to his ears. The man was all smiles on the inside at the moment, (despite his gruff expression), he knew Beth was finally his, and not for an afternoon, or even a weekend, but as a material possession until he either tired of her, or his wife returned from Europe. He also knew there was the slightest possibility that he could keep her even longer, but that would depend on his lovely wife and her own desires on the subject.
"So as I was saying," the man continued, as if watching Beth eat her meal while nearly naked and bound by his own cuffs were a mere intermission at his own personal Saturday afternoon matinee. "I found it odd that your diploma was not prominently displayed on your wall as most are, so I called over to the dean of admissions at your Alma mater and introduced myself. Wonderful man, clearly remembers there not being a Beth that graduated his journalism program, let alone one with top honors. I then described you to him and he lit right up on the other end of the telephone, remembered you most fondly by another name, but you didn't graduate from there according to him. The man seemed rather surprised that I didn't know you better myself, if you know what I mean, I gathered at that point that the joke was on me in a way," the man added ominously. He was a proud man and didn't like being made a fool, most certainly by a young woman who apparently wasn't what she purported herself to be, stunningly desirable or not.
"It appears sir that you've caught me," Beth said after several seconds of thought. "How can I atone for this little transgression in a way that you will find agreeable? I still apparently need a place to live and a job, and my clothes and other things back as well, unless you plan on turning me out on the street as I am. I am also still the only one who can write most of this story, and if nobody knows, or will say how it ends, I propose we make up our own ending."
Beth knew she was in full damage control mode with the man at the moment, and one hundred percent at his mercy, her best option looking like once again trading what she was blessed with for what she wanted, or in this case needed. She had wanted to get away from such things in the big city and earn her way with her mind instead of her body. The two burly policemen and their co-conspirator from their office had however convinced her such things weren't meant to be, her subtly provocative clothing ironically intended to open doors for her, instead of closing them. Destiny looked about to intervene once again, and not on her behalf either, but could she still salvage her situation to write the perfect expose?
"This story is far too provocative for my paper's readers," the man stated as if quoting some universally know fact. It was almost as if he heard her very thoughts, instead of reading her expressions that he knew so well. "The safest thing for me to do is to call Sam and have him deliver you back to Grandview, any story you tell to explain you absence involving either of us would sound like the ramblings of a lunatic. There is no proof that you're anybody but an escaped convict with a good imagination, and I am disinclined to stick my neck out for you, especially since you lied to me."
"There must be something I can do?" Beth pleaded, her cool demeanor showing it's cracks for the first time in light of the consequences. "Do you have any idea what they will do to me?"
"Whatever it is it would be a fitting punishment for lying to me about your qualifications!" the man observed coldly.
"You don't understand, they'll string me up and give me fifty lashes with a strap before the entire camp, and then send what's left of me to a real prison for a very long time." Beth stated in frantic exasperation.
The editor expected as much, he was just taking the steps necessary to ensure he would remain free of conscience, and Beth would remain not so free in his service, as well as properly motivated to finish her book, just as Sam had opined with their brief conversation in the driveway.
"What do you suggest then?" the man asked. It wasn't presented as a question, so much as a challenge for her to offer something to make him change what Beth had been lead to believe was a decision already made.
Both parties knew this wasn't a negotiation so much as a total and unconditional surrender, Beth merely offering up what she knew she had to as a formality should the matter come into question at some point in the future, as in "I only did what you begged me to". As with all surrenders there would be signed documents clarifying the terms and conditions, and consequences should those terms be violated in the future. The consequences were simple, follow the man's orders or get shipped back to Grandview. Beth couldn't possibly imagine anything worse, but she was young, and had much to learn...
In the days that followed Beth was allowed to write out her very rough draft in peace, all to get her thoughts ordered, and down on paper before some of the finer details were forgotten. The project had grown in scope and volume from it's original intent as a multi part investigative newspaper story, and with the freedom to write without the necessary self censorship demanded of a public publication, her words were allowed to more accurately reflected the nature of her experiences that were yet to have a clear conclusion. Just retelling the story in print had an effect on her, and she wondered if reading her account could possibly not have a complimentary effect on any readers.
Beth knew her former employer was right, her story was just too provocative to sanitize enough for his newspaper's sensitivities, even with her decision to not write it in the first person to save her any implied personal involvement. One day she obviously expected her freedom from the man, and any book published in the first person could become an admission of guilt should that happen.
Her room to write for the moment was adjacent to the editors and filled with Sam's sketches, she not only using them to remind her of her experiences to date, but incorporating them into her story as the two were intended to be released together in one illustrated opus. Her words were provocative enough, but coupled with Sam's sketches little would be left to the imagination.
Her former employer was busy at the same time having one of his estates old structures modified for her needs, it was at one time a barn, and until recently unneeded as his estates grounds were intentionally left fallow as the newspaper man was no farmer. The project had a deadline, it had to be completed before the editor's wife's scheduled returned from Europe. Beth had discovered the explanation for her curious absence quite by accident when she heard two of the maids talking outside of her locked door, she not daring to even ask her whereabouts for fear of irritating the edgy man.
Beth was at best treated as a valued possession, and only if, or when she produced a publishable work worthy of the effort could her status with the man improve to that of a freelance writer. In doing so she could not only atone for lying to him about her qualifications, but prove her worth and ability as a bona fide woman of letters and published author, using any profit from her portion of the book's sales to compensate the man monetarily for what he had invested in her to date.
Why the man had not as of yet availed himself to her other offered compensations was a mystery, had he not made clear his desire for her while in his employ? Certainly her earlier offer was clear enough to any man of letters, but perhaps the man lacked the courage to act on his desires, he being the exact opposite of the two policemen who had given her little choice in her jail cell. It disturbed Beth that she found herself revisiting that brief event in her dreams over and over again, as if it was more significant than everything else she had been through.
Stripped of her clothes and the elevated sense of entitlement they provided by her own hand should have felt anything but exciting, and forced to perform for her common jailer's entertainment to earn two dollars doubly so. Were her lacking fine clothes the common factor in both, and in being without them was she then unworthy of special consideration? The men at Grandview hadn't thought so, but they were "in the business" so to speak, but then again so were the policemen. It was an unanswered question that Beth eventually had to work out...
Being used as a show pony of sorts was a logical consequence at any rate, and followed in keeping with her original intent of harsh service to earn her proverbial stripes, all to produce the perfect work to illuminate the girls inhuman treatment at Grandview. Beth knew there were Pulitzer prizes awarded for literature as well, but the competition for those was quite stiff, and her book would have to be a masterpiece to even be considered.
It was obvious to Beth that the harness would stay on indefinitely as well, it's utility without question, and the legality of it's removal by other than authorized personal at best unclear. All those days ago after Beth had signed her hand written confession the man had at least removed her cuffs, she infuriated with herself with how easy it was to do and she wished she had known such earlier. In the big scheme of things it wouldn't have changed anything though, her ill conceived escape sealing her fate long before she ever slipped them on. She realized now that her escape was foolish and put others at risk besides herself, but more importantly allowed for the man to up the ante on what she intended for herself in his possession, as well as allowing for his discovery of her "other things of interest" while cleaning out her apartment.
The hired workmen had repaired the old cart first on the orders of the editor, it was in good overall shape as it had been one of the items left inside the old barn years earlier when farming had ceased, and made stoutly to last a lifetime by the craftsmen of the age. Neither the workmen, nor those old craftsmen many years earlier likely could have anticipated it's re-purposing though, with Beth being hitched to it by her prison farm harness mostly by her own hand after the workmen had left for the day, the editor unfamiliar with such things himself and needing to be tutored. The irony of hitching and cuffing herself to the wagon wasn't lost on her either, it was analogous with placing herself in this situation in the first place many weeks earlier when she had accepted her assignment from the man.
The editor sat in his human powered cart for the first time, reins in hand, thinking about how perfect this was from his point of view both figuratively, and literally. The editor was in command, and his underling was to follow them less she experience immediate consequences at his hand. The bit and reins were made locally after he had received Sam's first sketches, along with a new pair of boots and a harness to match the ones Sam faithfully and accurately drew. His initial intention was only to coerce Beth into posing for Sam to further sketch her at the end of her sentence, he thinking at the time he would be fortunate just to see his haughty reporter in her harness and skin once. The man had no idea Beth would arrive wearing her old authentic things and little else, nor so soon after her sentencing, at least until he had received her desperate letter committing him to help her.
The shake of the reins attached to the bit Beth had willingly put on herself should have had both he and the cart moving, but Beth had never pulled such a cart all by herself, nor anything since the day of her escape. The cart she was hitched to was designed for a single donkey, and was therefore much smaller than the one she and the team had pulled at Grandview, but still apparently too heavy for one so small to move all on her own despite her physical conditioning. A second sharp snap of the reins made Beth flinch as she strained to move the cart forward, her inexperienced driver possibly thinking she was being belligerent with him and about to apply the whip, and she wondered for not the first time why she had escaped her relatively easy incarceration at Grandview in the first place.
Her shoes slid on the hard packed dirt as the cart rocked ever so slightly, and her cuffed hands clenched at the two staves she was both attached to by her harness, and chained to with her own leather cuffs by her own hand as well, they found in her apartment along with so many other things she never intended to see the light of day. They were a gift from a man friend with a wicked imagination, and custom made to fit her precisely, and intentionally quite comfortable to wear for hours at a time.
The editor hadn't picked up the whip yet despite his desire to, he realizing that it was no toy and could inflict serious damage in his unskilled hands. He had practiced on tree trunks away from the workmen during the day, knowing it would be some time before he used it on any human target, or even the deserving beast harnessed in front of him at the moment.
Belatedly he realized that the workmen had left the wheel brake on so that the cart didn't roll away on it's freshly greased wheels, and once he released it Beth was able to move the heavy cart forward toward the path along the perimeter of his summer estate. The pace was slow, but the man found the sight of Beth's straining muscles employed for the soul purpose of his whim to explore his estate's perimeter by human powered cart simply delightful.
Her efforts should have inflamed his desires beyond his abilities to contain them, but still somehow he resisted taking her even though she had starred in his dreams many times wearing his cuffs. She was his for the taking whenever he wanted, both knew it, but to his way of thinking taking what was already yours wasn't nearly as much fun as chasing what you shouldn't want instead.
She was struggling just to move the cart at a fast walking pace, but that just meant he would have longer to enjoy the ride, and the view from his seat behind her. Her silence was almost as wonderful, she having the potential to be compelled to do all manner of things without the slightest verbal complaint, less she end up strung up and strapped in accordance with her own written words. The man knew that was something else he would have to become skilled at, wondering where one acquires such skills without attracting too much attention, and therefore an official investigation of some kind. He knew his activities wouldn't survive such scrutiny, even with Beth's signed confession stating that she acted alone in her escape.
The natural conclusion was for the man to look for his answers in the written word, he was after all a man of words. It wouldn't look at all strange for him to research such things in book form, especially since he may one day actually have to publish such a book if and when Beth ever produced a manuscript worthy of publication. He thought to have one of his reporters look for any complimentary publications on the subject after he had received his first sketches and heard Sam's wild tales of the happenings of Grandview, he expecting any such books to be waiting on his city office desk when he returned.
Beth for her part knew this was better than the alternative, and in a way what she had told Sam she intended for herself, but still humiliating for this particular man to have this kind of power over her. Had Sam told his employer of her desires, thinking he were saving her the need to humble herself further by making such a provocative request herself? The editor read her words every day, and then asked relevant questions, proving once again that he was a fast study. There would be no secrets from him in the end, and when he asked about her personal collection of "things" she had little choice but to explain what she did with them, as well as the other things she had hidden away in her drawers with much more obvious purposes.
The editor cut his cart ride short, Beth sweating profusely with her efforts and thinking to herself that this was the hardest thing she had physically ever done. With the cart parked back in it's spot Beth was unhitched and sent into the shower, she hardly able to walk with her exertions, but at the same time not uttering a word of complaint, even once the bit was removed.
The editor thought to suspend the "no talking outside" rule at his mansion, but he now saw the wisdom of such policies. Beth would shower and fall into bed exhausted that night, but when the workmen were done with the barn she would do so out there instead. Eventually the man knew he would give in to his temptations, but he used all the willpower he could muster not to before her book was complete, less he develop some sympathies toward the handsome woman in his possession and give her the easy out she didn't want, nor deserve.
The package had arrived in his overlarge post office box, it's return address indicating it's origin was his own city office building. Inside was the usual business, requests for this and that, approval of more sensitive stories, and a book. The man wasn't upset that his instructions weren't followed this one time in regards to the book, he suspecting it's subject based on the cover alone.
"How To Select And Train A Champion Mount" written by J.M. Smith, three time I.P.R L. grand champion jockey.
The editor thought the title just a little self congratulating and lacking in humility, an odd point of view for him all things considered. Not that one can ordinarily judge a book by it's cover, but to explain what the book was about without spelling out the acronym, (as was done on the title page), embossed in fine thread on the leather cover was an elegantly dressed woman sitting in a trotters sulky wielding a jockey's whip. Her long hair was blowing back as if she were traveling at great speed, but it was what powered her cart that drew his attention. She was a muscular and bare chested woman, harnessed and bitted just like his former employee had been hours before, wearing boots to match and looking back with a terrified expression over her shoulder at the whip in her jockey's hand.
The editor opened his book and started reading while walking down his long driveway, his summer house staff knowing not to get in his way nor ask too many questions when his intensity was such. They couldn't help but to notice that somebody was staying in one of the extra rooms upstairs, as well as the man's sudden interest in the old barn and the various old farm things housed inside. The man paid his staff fairly, presently made up exclusively of middle aged rotund women in his employ for years, and not the least bit desirable to him physically, with one notable exception. The staff had either been selected personally by the lady of the house, or in his employ since long before her marriage to him, and as he would find, quite adept at keeping secrets from him. It was not such a stretch of imagination for them that he might like a mistress of his own to pass the time with the lady of the house and her personal maid traveling as they were, she also chosen by the lady of the house, but not based on her domestic skills alone as the others were.
As Beth wrote her book in her temporary day room, the editor read his in his study, they both distracted from time to time by the sounds of construction coming through their open windows from down by the barn, even though it had been placed quite far away from the main house intentionally to keep the smell of the animals away from any humans. The workmen had noticed the wagon they had serviced earlier was parked in a slightly different location from where they had left it, but of most interest to the curious skilled men were the "shoe" prints near it's draw bars in the tight soil. There was no logical explanation for the tracks, at least not before the barn was completed, it being appointed far too nicely for any ass in their opinions.
When everybody had gone home after dinner was served, he then allowed Beth to come down and eat the still warm leftovers, he still wishing to keep her away from his staff should they carry tales back to his wife when she returned. They would naturally assume some form of infidelity, but as of yet the man had not committed that act, despite his opportunity.
He knew his life would be easier once Beth was properly put up at night, she having an environment more like the one she left at Grandview to encourage her writing, and he free to visit her down there whenever he desired. The barn would be separated from the main house by a tall fence, as would the field side of the estate from the roadway by planted berry bushes.
At first the editor thought J.M. Smith had to be a man, and the book's fictional cover made purposefully provocative to encourage it's readers. There was no such thing as a competitive female jockey, trainers yes, and good ones at that. But only men were allowed to actually race, the mere thought of anything else being taboo to horse racing. The International Pony Racing League, or the I.P.R.L. of the book however had little to do with racing ponies in the traditional sense, so it made sense that tradition could be skewed in this fictional case as well.
In any event J.M. spoke of specific things that the editor knew he needed help with, such as discipline for your mount in general, and proper use of the crop and whip, not to mention how to get the most out of your "pony". There were examples, but being a city man through and through the author spoke casually of things he had no experience with. The book had to be pure fiction, he was after all a man of the world and had never heard of racing pony girls, competitively, or not. There again the man thought, he hadn't heard of human work farms using harnessed criminals until just recently.
It sounded as if J.M. had specific experiences with things he realized he needed help with, no matter where those skills were obtained in the real world. He at least wanted to talk with the author and ask some questions, but first he had to write him or her to introduce himself so as not to appear rude. If they ever talked in person he had every intention of asking about the I.P.R.L. though...
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story continues in The Investigative Reporter 9: Finding A Winning Mount