Island III - Double Standards

by Jack Peacock

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© Placed in public domain by author - Jack Peacock

Storycodes: M/f; D/s; slave; training; collar; bond; straps; bedtie; cuffs; gag; hood; chastity; chain; basement; punish; straitjacket; kidnap; cons; XX

Continues from

George and Sharon

Legal Matters

“That covers the disposition of Gary’s financial assets. Aside from the Zakat, the charity tax, and the court filing fees the remainder of your brother’s estate is free and clear. As you can see from the provisions in the will his intent was to leave a large trust to provide for Sharon’s welfare. You’re named as the sole director.” The lawyer, Ed Gleason, gathered up the papers into a neat pile.

The abrupt passing of Gary Thornton affected everyone who knew him. George Thornton was aware of the genetic heart defect; he had dodged that bullet but his brother Gary wasn’t as fortunate. Everyone in the family knew about the curse they carried in the genes, though it was never discussed. The condition had claimed their father and grandfather much too early. Even between brothers, and they were close, it was the one subject they avoided.

Gary had chosen an eccentric path in life, at least from George’s perspective. After swearing him to secrecy Gary had revealed the existence of Isla Del Sur, its history and most intriguing of all the society that flourished in isolation. No question he would fit in well; he never lacked for confidence in his abilities or his convictions. His personality was the kind that filled the room whenever he was present. Of course he was always on the management fast track; he had a natural leadership quality that encouraged people to trust his judgment.

Unlike Gary, George was never the extrovert. There were liaisons but he never married. A career in the exotic and often incomprehensible field of integrated circuit design left him with few contacts outside the insular circle of fellow engineers. He hadn’t really paid much attention to Gary’s adventures.

George wasn’t sure what to make of his brother’s Island tale. On the one hand the description made it seem barbaric, but as a hard core libertarian George also believed everyone had the right to live life as they saw fit, as long as it didn’t interfere with anyone else. Now he was thrust down the rabbit hole into a social “Alice in Wonderland” world, in ways he’d never anticipated.

“We still have one issue to resolve. What are your intentions for Sharon?” Ed pulled out another sheet of paper. “I’m sure you didn’t ask for this, but the provision in his will to transfer her ownership to you is binding and inflexible under Island law. Whether you like it or not, you must decide her fate. He trusted you to make the right choice regarding her future, though what that might be he never revealed to me.”

“The law doesn’t give her a say? I still don’t understand that part.” There was so little he knew about the Island and its customs. It left him at a disadvantage.

The lawyer explained, “There is a contract between Sharon and your brother, which extends to his estate. If it had been a limited agreement the ownership clause would be invalidated. She’d inherit half of his estate automatically, and the rest if he’d left it to her in the will. However, this is a permanent, lifetime agreement. She was, quite literally, your brother’s property. It’s a unique arrangement where she has no rights, no legal standing, and that will never change for the rest of her life, as long as she remains on the Island. It includes a provision that she can’t inherit; whatever might go to her becomes her master’s property. Since you are the estate executor and designated beneficiary, she now belongs to you. It also leaves you as sole owner of what would otherwise be her financial assets from the trust.”

George shook his head in confusion. “Okay, but what does that translate to in practical terms?”

“In simple terms, you are responsible for her welfare: food, shelter and medical, essentially all the basics essential to her welfare. You must make the major decisions regarding her daily life. She is obligated to submit to your authority, to faithfully keep to your rules, to obey you in all matters, and in general depend on you for just about everything. She can’t handle money, including coins or currency, nor can she go out in public after curfew unless you or someone you appoint escorts her. For that matter, she can’t leave the house at any time of day without your permission. She can’t own anything; quite the opposite, she is your property. As you might imagine, she can’t leave the Island either, unless you take her somewhere else.”

George stared into space, trying to sort out what the lawyer was telling him. Despite Gary’s pretensions about literally owning another human being George had never lent any credence to his claims. It had to be some kind of roleplaying game; no modern country would condone what amounted to slavery. Yet here he was, and if the legal advice was accurate, he now owned, as actual chattel, a real, live human being.

“The probate judge signed off on the will provisions this morning,” the attorney continued. “I filed the registration change immediately afterwards. You are officially listed as her owner, and she has been informed of the new arrangement. I picked her up from the Public Administrator this afternoon. She’s waiting for you in the living room.”

Now what? That was George’s first reaction. Procrastination was not an option; he had to come to some kind of resolution regarding her in the next few minutes. He stood up. “I have to admit I’m in uncomfortable territory here. This isn’t exactly the kind of situation anyone can prepare for in advance. I suppose I should talk to her first, before proceeding any further.”

The attorney pointed to George’s chair. “You might want to sit back down. There’s one more detail about Sharon you absolutely need to know before you meet her.”

A World Upside Down

Sharon sat very still, perched on the edge of the couch. Gary’s brother, who is he, and what is he like? She didn’t have much to go on except the few times her prior master had mentioned him. There were still pangs of grief every time she thought about the twelve years they’d had together. Now Gary was gone, and in a parting act he had handed her over to the one man he trusted to take care of her.

She always knew it could happen, though she did her best to push the thought out of her head. Despite her prayers here she was, waiting to meet the man who was her new owner. Was it right, morally, to pass me on to his heir? The thought crossed her mind but it was purely theoretical speculation. It had to be this way, regardless of what kind of man Gary had chosen for her.

That was her single point of stability in a world turned upside down. Her trust in Gary’s judgment was unshakeable. It was inconceivable she would ever question the direction he chose for her to follow. Gary had never hidden his genetic time bomb from her, and he had been quite clear about the very real possibility it would end his life prematurely. That knowledge only made each day with him all the more precious. The last days in the hospital, when he revealed the plan for her future without him, had been especially heartbreaking even though she could see it was coming.

I want you to rely on George, be loyal to him, and submit to him as you have to me. He’s a good man in his own way. No matter what happens, never lose faith in him. Those were his parting words to her. George, that was her new master’s name, though it would be a rare occasion for her to ever use it in conversation. He was now master or sir, whichever he preferred.

The new man in her life was in the dining room, meeting with Mr. Gleason, the attorney who had brought her home from the Public Administrator’s office. George’s home, she reminded herself, it belongs to him. Like me, it’s all his to do with as he pleases. And here I am, patiently waiting to find out what will become of me.

Her mind wandered back to that fateful day, twelve years ago, when one of the Facility staff led her into the interview room. There had been two empty chairs and nothing else. She was instructed to sit in one and wait. That had been her last day at the Facility.

There were some eerie parallels between that day and the present moment. Gary had been the unknown back then. How long had she waited, growing ever more anxious as the minutes ticked by? Then Gary had walked through the door, sat down facing her, and sort of swept her along when he began speaking. Oddly, she couldn’t recall what exactly he’d said that so affected her, but by the time he finished she wore his collar.

Sharon reached up to brush her fingers across the band of metal encircling her throat. It had been her constant companion since that day. The metal band had remained locked around her neck for their entire time together, a tangible symbol proclaiming to the world she belonged, body and soul, to her master.

Her days in the outside world, before she’d come to the Island, were a distant and hazy memory. Back then she had the freedom to turn down men who were interested in her. The ones she didn’t turn down proved to be disasters, which eventually led to her being admitted to the Facility.

From that point on everything changed. The Facility Director evaluated suitable owners for all the women who finished the program. He had been the one who brought her and Gary together. Twelve short years later it was Gary who designated her next owner. She was every bit as apprehensive about the mysterious stranger in the next room as that first time in the Facility, waiting for the man the Director had selected for her.

When in doubt rely on what you know. How many times had she heard that succinct piece of advice during her stay at the Facility? Sharon closed her eyes, visualizing what her new master would see when he walked into the living room. Everything had to be perfect, the one right way. Would her dress be satisfactory? Nothing she could do about that now. Back straight, head up, hands and feet lined up correctly, her old Facility training had never worn off. Gary had made sure of that.

Thinking about him brought a smile to her face. Just like the Facility he had his one right way too, and he made sure she never forgot it. Not once in the last twelve years had he disciplined her for failing to follow his rules, a record she was proud to claim. There would be changes with a new master, a new standard for her to follow, but that didn’t bother her. As long as he gave her time to learn, to adjust to his preference, her record would stand unblemished.

Sharon felt the tears welling up in her eyes. He’s gone, he’s really gone; I’ll never hear his voice, feel his touch, ever again. I have to be strong, for his brother. But she wasn’t ever going to be the unemotional, stoic type.

She heard chairs being pushed back in the dining room. The men must be finished with their discussion. Any moment now she would meet her new owner and learn what would unfold in her future.

A Facility Woman

“You probably don’t know about the Facility. Think of it as a post graduate level finishing school for submissive women, though that’s a gross oversimplification. The standards for both admission and graduation are very high. There is a considerable amount of respect for those women in some circles here on the Island. The entrance requirements are tough; only a handful of women who apply, and you’d be surprised at the number, are accepted. Sharon is one of those women. Your brother Gary was quite fortunate when he passed the background check and was given the opportunity to visit the Facility. The Director and his staff must personally approve every man who aspires to own a graduate.”

George didn’t get the point. Okay, he thought, she’s well educated in whatever skills Gary valued, but what was so important?

Ed saw the lack of comprehension. “Sorry, I’m not explaining this very well. Let me put it this way. Everything you know about relationships, in the outside world? Forget them; they don’t apply here, especially to someone like Sharon. Let me give you a quick example.

“Let’s imagine you ask a woman out on a date, say for dinner. You might suggest a place; ask her if she likes that kind of food? Maybe she agrees, maybe she turns you down. That’s not how it works here. To start, Sharon is your property. You start by informing her both of you will be dining out; you definitely do not ask if that’s okay with her. You decide what she will wear, or leave it to her but with some guidelines as to what you want to see. She will never refuse, and you better enforce those instructions too. Any reluctance on her part is never tolerated. It means you have to act as she would expect from her master: at a minimum a reprimand followed by some sort of punishment.

“The point I’m trying to make is you must, and I can’t stress this enough, you must act with certainty and in an authoritative manner. You lead; she follows. You are entitled to her obedience, but it’s not a one way street. In return you have to be the one person in the world she can always, always count on. Sure, you can ask her opinion on occasion, but in the end you must present yourself decisively, based on what you want. She may not like the results, but she’ll never complain. If you get it wrong, she’ll accept that too. What won’t work is compromise, especially asking her to be responsible for what she believes to be solely a choice you must make alone.”

Something about his description bothered George. “What about her feelings? I can’t run roughshod over her life, ordering her around like some robot. She should have some say about how she sees her future.”

Ed shook his head. “No, you have it all wrong. You’re in a different world here, double standards for the two of you. Does she have feelings? Of course, and you take them into account because you’re a decent guy. Do they influence your actions? Not as much as you’d think. You’ll find women like Sharon are remarkably perceptive, sometimes possessed of a miraculous mind-reading talent. Soften your approach to managing her, to be unduly influenced by her emotions, and you’ll be a disappointment when you lose her trust in your judgment. You are supposed to make hard choices, so she doesn’t have to experience the stress that goes with responsibility. You cannot afford to lose her respect.

“Roughshod? No way, unless you really are some kind of jerk. If it’s appropriate you can ask her opinion, listen to her, and find out her point of view. Before you order her around like your robot you think things through, anticipate consequences, avoid potential pitfalls. But! You command, not ask. You better learn to speak with assurance quickly, because that’s what she wants to hear. No timidity, no wavering, no suggestions. You set a standard of behavior for her to follow; you dictate in clear, unambiguous words what you want from her. Most of all, you make sure she understands what it takes to please you, because in the end that’s what’s important to her.”

George shook his head, amazed that his lawyer was telling him he had to be the very definition of the “toxic male”. Yet it did match what Gary had told him. In an odd way it all made sense. His brother would have had no problem fitting into a dominant role.

“Speaking of that double standard, you have your own moral code to guide you. You’ll find she is a precious treasure, but only if you set aside influences from outside the Island. Do not think in terms of equality. Rather, see it as the two of you complementing each other, like the ‘ying and yang’ symbol. You have a specific role; so does she. Gary counted on you to do the right thing. Here on the Island, believe it or not, the right way is for you to be demanding and selfish, strange as that sounds.”

What next, the Mad Hatter and the Cheshire Cat? There was a certain logic to it all, just not anything he’d come across before. Double Standards, an expression usually meant as an insult, but here it’s the bedrock of society.

There was also the letter Gary had given him, in the hospital. It was addressed to Sharon; he had no idea of the contents. Handwritten on the front were simple instructions: Sharon’s new master will present this to her after my demise, at the first meeting. That had to be some kind of parting instructions for her. He had every right to read it first, from what Ed had explained.

No, this time I have to trust George. Whatever he’d left for her was personal; she deserved to see it first.

“That’s all for tonight, George.” The lawyer’s announcement broke an awkward silence. “I’ll contact you next week with some additional paperwork.” George shook Ed’s outstretched hand. “Again, my condolences on the passing of your brother. And my best wishes to Sharon. I sincerely hope she can find a way forward past this tragedy.” Ed picked up his briefcase and headed for the living room.

First Contact

When George walked into the room he was immediately struck by the way Sharon was seated on the couch. His first impression was one of skilled poise, in the way she held very still except for turning her head to follow him and the attorney. Precision, that was the word that came to mind. Everything lined up, from her feet, legs, arms, hands, back, even her head. She made it look effortless, but he recognized there was real work on her part to achieve that presentation.

“Hello, Sharon. I’m George Thornton, Gary’s brother. I’m a recent arrival to the Island and its customs, so I hope you’ll be patient with me if I embarrass myself over some social blunder. I’m still learning what it entails to, umm, be your master.”

He could see her eyes shift back and forth between him and the lawyer. She must be aware I’m new to this, George told himself. How much had Ed explained to her before this meeting?

Sharon wiped the tears from her eyes. “Yes, sir. I recognize you from family pictures. Thank you for coming so soon. He spoke of you often, assuring me you were a kind and honorable man, one I could turn to if anything were to happen.” She began crying again. “Sir, I’m sorry but I don’t know what to do!”

“This is my cue to exit stage left,” Ed told George. “Don’t bother, I can see myself out.” He headed toward the front door.

Gary’s passing had hit Sharon hard. She desperately needed support, which is why he was there with her. Not just emotional support for her grief either. He reached into his jacket for the letter. This was not going to be easy, but it had to be done as soon as possible.

“Sharon, Gary left this with me. He asked me to give it to you, when the time came.” He handed her the envelope with her name on it, in Gary’s handwriting.

She took the sheet of paper out of the envelope and unfolded it. George had no idea what was in it. She started to read. Half way through she looked up at him, eyes wide in shock. “Sir, Mr. Thornton? I…I don’t…” Gary was keen on enforcing his rules including his insistence on formality; she had never been permitted to use a man’s first name.

She handed the letter to him. “Sir, in the letter my final instructions are to accept you as my master, to trust your judgment, to serve you as best I can, to give you my loyalty and unconditional obedience.” She sat up very straight, hands carefully folded in her lap. “Please, sir, tell me what I must do next.”

He could read between the lines. Indirectly she was acknowledging his ownership and all that went with it. Until he got to know her better every word he spoke had to be preceded by careful consideration as to how she might interpret it. He could see it in the way she stared at him, as if hanging on every word.

If his attorney was right, this was a pivotal moment. Stability, but it has a special meaning to her. “Listen to me carefully,” he began. “This is what’s going to happen, starting now. We are going to have a long conversation, with me doing most of the talking. Stay where you are while I get a chair from the kitchen.”

He turned to go to the kitchen, then suddenly halted and went back to Sharon. He didn’t say a word, instead studying her with his eyes. At first she looked up at him with curiosity, before suddenly straightening up and staring straight ahead. She didn’t move a muscle, doing her best to meet with his approval.

George waved a hand up and down. “Explain this, the peculiar way you sit on the couch. Is it something Gary required from you?”

“Yes and no sir. At the Facility we are trained to behave according to the one right way, whatever that may be. Before I was claimed this was the only acceptable posture when occupying a chair. We would be subject to correction if we forgot. Afterwards I was instructed to continue. By now it’s habit, sir. I can change if you wish though I might need some time to break the habit.”

He folded his arms in thought, not replying at first. The one right way, he’d have to remember that phrase. “You will not change your routine.” George smiled. “I like it. Well done, by the way. I find it very attractive.”

Details Matter

Sharon said a silent prayer of thanks to the Facility. Well done, and those words weren’t an offhand comment. She heard him pick up a chair from the kitchen table, but she dare not turn her head to look. She’d made a good first impression; to ruin it with a moment of carelessness would be the epitome of stupid. It was a tenuous assumption to believe he’d approve of the rest of her training, yet that was all she had for now. Given time she’d be able to predict what he wanted, provided he decided to keep her. That was the dark cloud hovering in the background.

One mistake on her part and she might face a very unpleasant future. If as he promised, he was going to do the talking she’d have an opportunity to learn more about him. From what Gary had described he was the quiet sort, highly intelligent and well educated, but reserved in displaying emotions. Sharon would find out for herself if all that was true. Brothers didn’t always provide the most flattering descriptions of their siblings.

He dropped a chair in front of her and sat down. Once again he folded his rams, tilted his head slightly, and repeated his careful scrutiny of her. Every woman knows that stare and what was going on in his head. Or at least Sharon hoped his lingering gaze had sexual overtones.

George unfolded his arms and leaned forward. “We’re strangers. I know very little about you, and from what I gather you know even less about me. I’m going to try to bridge that gap. Since I get to go first,” he grinned, “I’ll talk while you sit and listen…and provide me with a pleasant distraction.”

So far so good, Sharon told herself. I’ll assume from his statement I don’t have to say anything.

He reached out and laid a hand over hers, carefully crossed in her lap. “There are a few crucial points I want to go over first. To start, this is still your home, and I expect you to act accordingly. You aren’t going anywhere. I’m told I can insist on this. I don’t know what arrangement you had up to now, but from this point forward you will not step one foot out of this house without my permission. You’re my responsibility; I want to know where you are every minute of the day.”

Sharon had lived with that restriction for so long she didn’t even give it a conscious thought. His declaration was an immense relief. If he felt it necessary to keep close track of her then he wasn’t considering any future scenarios which didn’t include her. The blackest cloud of all, the one where she found herself standing on a North Island auction block, waiting for the bidding to end, was already fading away.

“The next item, don’t be anxious about the coming days. I will take care of you; that’s a promise I intend to keep. Your future is secure. I understand the way Island laws are written, you have no choice but to depend on me. Never doubt I’ll be there for you.”

Men who lived on the Island were aware of the unwritten bargain that goes with owning a woman. Her new master was a very recent arrival, so chances were he wasn’t conscious of the obligations that came with the privileges. His promise was reassuring to Sharon, always assuming he was being honest with her. I have to trust him, she thought, there’s no alternative.

“Finally, remember I am not my brother. I’ll never replace him, nor do I intend to try. You had many good years together, and I’ll never take that away from you. What I do ask of you is not to compare us. My way is not his way. There will be changes, not all at once, but you will have to adjust to what I want.

“Unlike Gary I’m what you call ‘risk averse’, in the sense that I’m cautious before acting. It comes from my background. One mistake in designing an integrated circuit can cost the company millions, if not tens of millions, of dollars to fix if it goes into production. You can imagine with those kinds of stakes I do not act hastily or rashly, without regard for consequences. I don’t know how much you know about Gary, but no one would ever describe him in those terms.”

He made a sudden, snap decision. “I want you to stand up, arms at your side, and face me.” In a flash she was on her feet. George reached into his pocket for the key to her collar. The attorney had delivered it to him along with Sharon.

He took hold of her shoulders. “Listen to me carefully. I want you to stand here, don’t move, not a sound. It’s important you do this for me.” He looked her in the eyes while using a calm but steady tone of voice.

It had the desired effect. George could see her eyes tracking him, puzzled by what he was doing. Holding the key in his right hand he reached behind her neck, brushing aside her hair. “Now hold still and not one word until I finish.” He reached behind her neck, inserted the key and removed her collar.

Her eyes grew wide in stunned shock at what he’d done, but she managed to maintain her composure. It must have taken all her willpower to obey him, considering the enormous significance of what happened. George held the open collar up for her to see.

“The first man to claim you used this more than a dozen years ago.” Slowly he slipped it back onto her neck. “Today the next man to own you will do the same.” Behind her head George turned the key in the lock. “This time I’m claiming you. It’s now my collar. You will act accordingly. There will be no more questions along those lines. You and I, side by side, we’ll face the world together. Nothing and no one will come between us.”

It was a simple ceremony, yet he was sure it was the right place and time for a new beginning. He took a step back and held out his arms. “Come here,” he whispered softly.

In a flash she was there, her arms wrapped around him. He held her close, one hand on the back of her head. She was sobbing. “Master, I loved him so much. Those last minutes he was too weak to talk but I knew what he was trying to say, when he squeezed my hand. Then he was gone, leaving me all alone in the world.” She buried her head in his chest, weeping uncontrollably.

“You’ll never be alone,” George whispered in her ear. The grief she bottled up was finally pouring out. He liked to think that Gary, wherever he was, was content knowing Sharon would be safe and secure for the rest of her life with him, and if it came to an end then someone else.

“Forgive me, sir, you are right. It is your collar I wear. I belong to you.” She sounded contrite, as if he’d reprimanded her.

I belong to you. There was a certain appeal in the way she framed it as a simple statement of fact. Maybe Gary was on to something after all, he thought. And so much for his claim to be cautious too, the decision to keep Sharon on a permanent basis had taken him all of about five seconds.

Just That Quick

That’s how George wound up in possession of a woman he’d never met before. All his firmly held beliefs in personal freedom and a libertarian attitude toward his fellow man went into the trashcan in record time. The way she looked at him, how tightly she clung to him, stirred an inner George that had been repressed his entire life.

Gary had often written to George of the ways he encouraged Sharon to depend on him. It fed his “control freak” hunger for power. He’d done an admirable job in teaching her to rely on him to make all the decisions. It was plain to see in the way she now looked to George for that same source of strength, stability, and self-assurance. Perhaps he and his brother did share some inherited personality quirks after all. I’m as much, or more, a control freak as Gary ever was.

“Sharon? You’re looking for solutions from me. I’m going to provide those answers.” He carefully worded that last part, to project a sense of certainty. “I want you to keep in mind I’m new at this. I don’t know much about the Island, so I’m going to ask you to assist me. I need your knowledge about how things work here in order to meet my obligations to you. Will you do this, help me out?”

She had a peculiar expression on her face, sort of a mix of sympathy and confusion. “Whatever you wish, sir. I should warn you that in many areas it’s traditional to withhold information from women such as myself. Details like finances are forbidden to me. Don’t laugh, sir, but I don’t even know what I don’t know about how I was managed.”

It took George a moment to work through that convoluted admission. Basically, Gary kept her in the dark on quite a few matters, and she had no idea what those might be. There might be some clues in Gary’s safe. Knowing his brother’s personality, it was difficult to figure out if he’d acted in Sharon’s best interests, or merely liked to keep her guessing. Withholding information was an effective tool in forcing her to be dependent, as well as being the source of a guilty pleasure in controlling her.

On the subject of guilty pleasure George gave in to temptation. “To start, I approve of the way you were sitting. Whenever practical you will continue with this position when you are seated. Back on the couch; I want to see it again.”

“Yes, sir.” Once again she was showing off that unique talent for entrancing him. He might be imagining it but it seemed she sat up a bit straighter, with a hint of pride in her reply.

She was a picture of perfection yet something bothered George. She was following Gary’s rules, not his. Something had to change, to remind her he was in charge now. He studied her, considering all the small nuances that added up to her impressive result. Then it came to him. Reaching down he took hold of her folded hands, straightened them out and placed one hand, palm down, on each side of her dress. “From now on this is where your hands go. Study it carefully and remember this is what I will see from now on.”

I could get used to this. It was like throwing a light switch. The moment he became assertive her response was immediate. She needs to please me, he realized. Even if it was as simple as sitting down it took only a few words to impose his will on her. What amazed him was the eagerness he sensed in the manner she responded to his orders. And it had been a command, not a request.

Up to now she’d been following her training. With his alteration it became something more, an inflexible rule she had to obey. And not just for tonight, but every day to come she would be compelled to do as he wished. She watched him, seeking approval for her compliance. George was in no hurry. A few words from me and her life is changed forever more. That’s power, real power. “Yes, that’s exactly what I want,” he told her.

George sat back in his chair. So far so good, he thought. She was shifting her focus to here and now instead of dwelling on Gary. “We’ll begin with your immediate future, the next few days. You will stay here, in your home. I should say our home. Bear with me, it will take some time for me to get used to thinking of us instead of me from now on.”

“I’m sorry, sir, but I have to ask. Will all this be temporary, living with you? Will I be returned to the Facility? Or will you sell me to a brokerage on North Island?” Being a Facility graduate meant permanent, unrestricted ownership. If not George then she would eventually belong to some other man. If he rejected her and did nothing to alter her ownership then she would be released from her collar, but it meant she’d be returned to the Facility. There was no path forward that granted her the freedom to choose for herself.

That’s what she was worried about. “No, no and no, in that order. For now I’ll keep Gary’s rules for you in place on a temporary basis. Expect changes, as I said I’m not my brother. You and I, we both need some time to learn about each other. Until I’m ready to set my own plans in motion I want two things from you. The first, you remain within your current boundaries; and the second, you report any infractions to me immediately. I have to trust you on this, since I’m not familiar with Gary’s rules. You won’t disappoint me.”

George was realistic about his present limitations. Sharon looked to him as her moral compass, defining what was right and proper, and what was wrong and forbidden. Without knowing what Gary had outlined for her he was hampered by a lack of knowledge in attempting to enforce her rules. He had some ideas about a strategy to rectify that situation, but it was going to take some time. Meanwhile, making her responsible for her own behavior, though it wasn’t ideal, might give him some space to learn a few basics on the art of domination.

A Walk Through The House

George stood up and held out his hand. “You’re going to be my tour guide through the house. C’mon, we’ll start at the front door. Fill me in on any restrictions or whatever else I need to know while we go through each room.”

Sharon took his hand when she stood up. “Yes, sir, I’ll do my best to explain. Umm,” she paused for a moment, “when we’re together I’m not allowed to leave the room without permission, unless you accompany me.”

That was something new for George to remember. “Is it only at home, or anywhere?”

“Anywhere, sir,” she replied. “I was to make sure he always knew where I was.”

George wanted her talking and especially answering questions. As long as she was concentrating on the present then she wasn’t dwelling on her loss. The way she responded was essential to keeping her focused on him.

“I’m changing that rule, effective immediately. I can see where a rigid interpretation can cause problems, so I’m adding a qualifier. In situations where I’m not nearby, or you can’t easily reach out to me, I’ll permit you to use your own judgment about leaving the room. If I fall asleep watching TV you don’t have to wake me up to go to the kitchen for something to drink. And if you have doubts afterwards about leaving a room on your own, then come to me and we’ll sort it out. I’ll trust you not to misuse some leeway.” George did like the idea of keeping a close eye on her, but he’d always been more pragmatic than Gary.

“Yes, sir, and thank you for being understanding. There were times it was very difficult to stay within the limits.”

Thank you, a simple, polite expression of gratitude. Yet in this context it felt out of place. “Stop,” he ordered. “Face me.” Sharon turned back to him, obviously confused at his abrupt order.

“From now on, public or private, you will not use ‘thank you’ to show your appreciation for something I do for you. If I’m nice to you, on those rare occasions,” he smiled, “I want you to see it as your due, not a special effort on my part. I’m serious about this rule, and make no mistake; it is one of those inflexible, zero-tolerance orders that you will not violate. If you want to anger me, then ignore this rule at your peril. I will not discuss it; you will not question it. For anyone else you can be polite, but not me. Am I clear?”

“My due…” she started to ask before suddenly trailing off. He gave her the time to think it through. “My apologies, sir, you caught me by surprise. Yes, sir, I understand.”

George felt a bit off balance too. Where had that come from? Normally he was very meticulous, planning everything in advance, performing due diligence for risk analysis, all part of his training in engineering. Yet he had spontaneously blurted out the order, essentially making it up as he went along. That wasn’t his style.

Not the old George’s style, but certainly a new George was coming out, brought on by his proximity to Sharon. Power exists to be used, be it for good or ill. He had that power, and he had used it without reservation. Was his decree serious or trivial, merely the excuse to exercise that influence over Sharon? The question wasn’t relevant. Now that he’d spoken it became a hard rule he had to enforce with unforgiving determination.

He led her by the hand to the hallway at the front door. There was a closet to one side, and a small table against the wall. Sharon noticed he was looking over the table. “It’s for mail and delivery packages, sir. We can order online, through a post office in Saudi Arabia. It takes a lot longer to get here compared to the outside world, so you need a bit of patience to use the service.”

That brought up some more questions. “You are allowed to open the door?” Ed, the lawyer, had mentioned she couldn’t leave the house without his permission.

“Yes, sir. I can’t step outside, of course, but I can sign for deliveries. Actually, I don’t sign; the driver takes a picture of me with the package. Legally, my signature isn’t valid. I’m not allowed to open mail or packages so I put them on the table.”

“Aren’t you permitted to open mail or packages addressed to you?” How much privacy had Gary granted to her? The idea of reading someone else’s mail bothered him.

“No sir, not until you look them over first. It’s your responsibility to supervise my contacts with the outside world. It’s up to you to check the contents first, or if you are satisfied based on the sender you can pass mail onto me unopened. For packages I must open them in your presence, unless you prefer to wait and inspect them in private.”

Yet more details he hadn’t thought out beforehand. No right to privacy, and no legal standing, the phrase hadn’t really meant much to him when he first heard it. George wasn’t a legal expert but he’d been involved in countless patent suits, which exposed him to the finer points of jurisdiction, custody and precedents.

“Does it bother you, the part about legal rights? Do you appreciate just how vulnerable you are?”

Sharon turned to look up at him. “Quite clear, sir. At the Facility we had a number of classroom hours on what we faced. No, sir, it doesn’t concern me at all. The way I see it, you’re the one who has to worry about all those details. I should be the one asking if it bothers you.”

He had to laugh at her answer. No rights, no responsibility, she was right about it being in his hands. She did raise an interesting question though. Was it such a heavy weight to bear, taking on the obligation to run her life as he saw fit? If he kept going there’d be no opting out later on.

George was a realist. There would be those times when it wasn’t easy or entertaining to manage her problems. Privilege is balanced by obligation. It was clear Sharon had made an informed choice; now it was his turn to face the same dilemma.

Standing behind her while she was turned toward the hall table he suddenly reached up and rested his hands on her bare shoulders. She didn’t flinch at his touch. Quite the opposite, she held very still, not even moving her head to look at him. Temptation, get thee behind me, Satan. But was it a sin? He didn’t feel any guilt; quite the opposite, he felt protective, feeding a need within him to keep her safe and happy.

Bedtime Arrangements

The inexorable ticking of the clock slowly pushed George toward that awkward moment at the end of the day. Where is Sharon going to sleep, and the toughest question of all, what would be his choice for a bed for the night? Just to make it a little more interesting, the arrangements were entirely up to him.

He already had an answer to the first part of the question. She was sleeping in her own bed; he wasn’t about to take that away from her. Gary had set her bedtime at 11pm and, according to Sharon, stringently enforced it. It applied whether or not he joined her.

George wasn’t in any hurry to make changes to her daily routine. Consistency meant stability, which had to be essential to her after the traumatic events in her life. So when the clock chimed at eleven he gestured toward the bedroom. She didn’t hesitate or protest, not that he expected any complaints.

When they entered the room George suddenly realized he had his hand on her back. It hadn’t been a deliberate gesture; she was an attractive woman so he found it difficult to keep his hands off her. The additional factor that she was available for his use sexually any time day or night did nothing to make his new life any simpler.

“Why don’t you sit down on the bed,” George told her. “As you might guess we have some things to talk about.” That was an understatement. One firm decision he’d already made is that he wasn’t going to sleep with her tonight. It was far too soon. He’d only met her a few hours ago; to jump on her now would be a mistake.

He stood near the door, watching while she sat down. Once again there was that meticulous way she lined up in a picture perfect pose. She carefully placed her hands, palms down, on her lap in precisely the way he had specified earlier. She knows I’m captivated by it, George realized when he saw how closely she studied his face.

“You’re sleeping in here tonight. For the moment we are not going to share the same bed. I’ll take the sofa.”

He was sure she would be relieved at the news. That’s not what happened. Instead her expression was one of near panic. “Please, sir, may I speak? You asked if I would point out those times when your lack of knowledge about the Island might be an issue? This is one of those moments.”

He grabbed a chair from the dresser and sat down in front of Sharon. George had missed something important and had no idea what it was. He needed more information. “Go ahead, you can speak freely. Fill me in on what I should know.”

“Yes, sir. Bear with me, I’ve never told anyone about this except for your brother. I have trouble sleeping. What I call the demons in the night, nightmares, visit me in my dreams. There were times I’d wake up screaming, thrashing around to fight off invisible monsters. There’s one way to keep them at bay. As long as someone is sleeping next to me, and I can hear him breathing, I’m safe from those demons.”

Gary had never mentioned anything like this in his letters. George could understand why. This was something very intimate, not to be shared with anyone else. Her revelation transformed everything.

“What kind of nightmares? Are they filled with real demons?” He needed more insight in order to understand what he should do next.

“No, sir, nothing supernatural. It always starts with me being alone, like on a dark street at 3am in a very bad part of town. I hear footsteps, whispered conversation; I see shadows on the walls, moving in alleys. They’re after me, I’m sure of it, but I have nowhere to run, nobody to turn to for help. I try to get away but they eventually catch up to me. It’s so dark I can’t see the faces. I do my best to fight back while screaming for someone to help. That’s when I wake up.”

Bedding down for the night on the sofa was out of the question now. George had no idea Sharon was so dependent on the man in her life that she literally experienced nightmares if he wasn’t next to her. Was this the warning his lawyer had tried to explain to him, about how different life could be behind that veneer of normality in comparison to the outside world?

It brought home how his initial impression of a lopsided relationship in favor of men wasn’t quite as simple as outward appearances made it appear. None of his own past liaisons with women had prepared George for anyone like Sharon. In place of compromise, discussion, learning about each other, he was now in a world where absolutes shaped the connection between them. Absolute trust, absolute obedience, absolute loyalty, all balanced with absolute responsibility, absolute leadership and constant attention on his part. Theoretically there might be no pressure on him to be every bit as perfect as she was, struggling to maintain her self-esteem. In reality all she offered brought out a need in him to be the ideal master for her sake.

“There will be no demons tonight. I’ll stay with you all night long. Understand though, I meant it when I said it was too early for sex.” He paused for a moment, lost in thought. “In medieval times the good knight would lay his sword between him and the lovely damsel if they were forced by circumstance to share a bed. Unfortunately I don’t carry a sword.”

She almost jumped off the bed. “Sir? There’s more to the demon story. I think it might provide you with that sword too. May I have permission to show you?”

George had no idea what she was talking about, but he was curious. “Okay, go ahead and enlighten me. There isn’t some sharpened piece of steel under the bed, is there?”

Just that quick her mood shifted to light-hearted. She stood up and went around to the other side of the bed. The room was spacious, a necessity to accommodate the large, king–sized bed. The single oddity was a bedside table only on one side.

“No, sir, no cutlery hidden out of sight. The bed is adjustable, so there are two mattresses in case you didn’t notice. The remote control is in the drawer of the nightstand.” She pointed to the table on his side. “Master, your brother, often had to sleep sitting up due to his medical condition. He allowed me to sleep lying flat.”

Why wasn’t there a nightstand on her side? He was about to ask when she continued. “This may sound a bit strange, sir. You recall I mentioned there were times I woke up while fighting the demons? Your brother took steps to ensure I wouldn’t accidently punch him in the nose or try to scratch out an eye.” She pulled back the covers on her side.

Concealed under the bedspread were a series of medical restraints crisscrossing her side of the bed. Wide belts went under the mattress at the waist, knee and ankle positions. Leather cuffs were open and ready for her wrists and ankles. More straps were in place to go over her waist and just above her knees.

“Over the years I’ve become so accustomed to being tied down at night that I have a hard time falling asleep unless I can’t move. It’s sort of a security blanket, with the emphasis on security. The buckles on the straps are the locking type. The key is in the drawer on your side, well out of my reach. Once you strap me in, sir, you needn’t worry about my trying to, umm, take advantage of you.”

George stared at the array of leather. Sharon was right about one thing; she wouldn’t be going anywhere while restrained. No, she wouldn’t try to tempt him, at least in a direct manner. The image of her next to him, held down, helpless, naked, legs far apart, that was temptation of a quite different manner. How he would deal with it, tonight and every night from now on, that was a separate question.

“You normally get ready for bed first?” He nodded toward the bathroom. “Do you wear pajamas, or…?”

“Yes, sir, I go first. And no, I don’t wear anything to bed. Is that acceptable?”

A Long Night

The last strap went across her waist. George was careful not to overtighten it, putting pressure on the diaphragm and making it difficult for her to breathe. “How’s that? Not too tight?”

When she started to squirm, trying to wriggle out of her little prison, her eyes never left his face. She was doing her best to remind him he had total physical control. The soft grunts when she strained to break free were entirely for his benefit. She was pushing every mental button in his head, sending him a silent invitation to climb on top of her.

It wasn’t going to happen, though it was straining his willpower to the limit to hold back. I already painted myself into a corner by saying it was too soon, he thought. Being consistent was turning out to be a demon chasing him. She was doing her best to persuade him to change his mind, but this was one time he had to be adamant in his resolve. Early days, I have to prove to her I mean what I say. Even if it meant he faced a long, frustrating night.

With the greatest reluctance he pulled up the covers to her neck. Out of sight, definitely not out of mind; the image of her laid out before him was not going away. He went back to his side of the bed, took off his clothes and climbed in next to Sharon.

Before he turned out the lights he turned on his side, rose up on one arm and checked her one last time. “Are you okay? Any problems, be sure to wake me up right away.”

“I’m fine, sir. Don’t worry about me. After all, I’ve been sleeping this way for years.”

She did have a point, though it didn’t stop him from feeling a little bit guilty about what he’d done to her. Without thinking he reached over and laid two fingers on her collar, under her chin. “This doesn’t bother you? Doesn’t it choke you if you sleep the wrong way?”

She turned her head slightly so she could see him. “No, sir, I’m used to it being there. It would only bother me if I wasn’t wearing your collar.”

Your collar, yet one more of those subtle ways she got to him at the emotional level. The more she worked on him the more he wanted to own her, though he should be outraged at the suggestion women should be treated as possessions, even if prized ones. “Okay then, you have a good night. And no worries, I’ll be here to keep your night terrors at bay.”

“I appreciate you staying with me, sir. I’ll try not to disturb you. Goodnight.”

George rolled over on his side, facing away from her. If he didn’t put some psychological distance between them the night was sure to end with him losing his resolve and taking full advantage the woman lying helpless and vulnerable, next to him.

Within minutes George could tell from her deep, slow breathing that Sharon was sound asleep. He was too preoccupied to follow. After only a few hours of meeting the woman next to him she had skillfully persuaded him to not only join her in bed but tie her down in a way that emphasized her sexual availability. Not that he doubted her story about the nightmares, yet there was more to it.

I’m supposed to be the one in charge, he realized, but so far she had managed to sway his decisions into fulfilling her needs. And the amazing part was he was lying in bed rationalizing his concessions as the act of a wise master, meeting his duties as her owner. Even though she was a prisoner of the restraints, trapped, unable to move until he released her, still he was the one who had to stay close by, watching over her while she slept the night away, without a care in the world. A lopsided relationship? Definitely, but in whose favor?

In the Morning

“Go to your closet, pick out three dresses and lay them out on the bed. I’ll choose the one you’ll wear today.” It’s amazing how fast one can slip into the dominant role. George thought it best to establish early on he would be overseeing her appearance. After all, she dressed to please him now. Yeah, I know, I’m a pig for treating her that way. Maybe I’ll pay for it in the next world, but for now I don’t care. That was how he justified any lingering pangs of guilt at being selfish. The idea of her as his possession was growing more attractive by the minute. “I’ll be back after I pick up some items from the desk.”

What George was really after was still some way to keep her concentrating on the moment, rather than dwell on her grief. He was looking for ways to keep her busy on some set, well-defined tasks, ones that he could easily review, which might distract her and keep away the dark clouds of her loss. Each little chore had to be something predictable, to encourage her best efforts in anticipating what he would request. In a way it represented a return to normalcy for her.

He also needed some time to process what had happened last night. How was it he was supposedly the one in charge, yet she wound up with everything she wanted? George had never thought of himself as someone easily manipulated. I bet every man on the Island thinks the same way, he told himself.

Plus there was the question of it being deliberate on her part, or was she acting on instinct? If he confronted her would she admit it, or recoil in shock at the suggestion she exerted some undue influence on him? Or was there a third possibility, that this was how Island society was able to function smoothly? It was still too early for George to answer those questions.

Meanwhile he was avoiding Gary’s name on general principles. Rather than constantly reminding her of what she’d lost he was trying to steer Sharon toward a more positive outlook about her life. That meant keeping her busy, engrossed in the work at hand, which satisfied her need for direction. Plus it gave him some time to plan his next move. From what he’d seen so far he was positive she needed the constant reassurance that came with directions from him. How he would keep up with her was a challenge.

Gary didn’t have an office or den, but there was a desk where he kept his papers and valuables. Next to the desk was a small safe. George dug out the slip of paper with the combination and punched it into the keypad. The door popped open. Inside were Gary’s financial records, returned yesterday by the lawyer. George returned the key to Sharon’s collar to its place in a small box. He wouldn’t need it for the foreseeable future.

When he returned to the bedroom she was standing at the foot of the bed, waiting with her selections. George walked over to the bed, making a show of closely examining each dress she picked out. In truth he had no idea about women’s fashions. Most everything he saw would be suitable to catch his attention.

He pointed to the middle dress. “Show me something else instead of this one. There’s nothing wrong with it, but I don’t want to see it today.” Why? It was entirely arbitrary, though he was counting on her not being aware of that small detail. He singled it out simply because it had a print design, unlike the other two, which were a solid color.

Sharon all but ran to the closet, the floral print dress in her hand. She wasted no time in returning with something in a solid color. “Yes, that’s better. Now, let’s see…” George took his time scrutinizing each dress, though he had no idea what he was looking for. The important part to the exercise is that he was involved, he was taking the time for a careful, informed decision, and most important of all, he wasn’t simply going through the motions. Sharon could see for herself he cared about even small details. He was positive the time he invested was important to her.

“Hold up this one, let me see how it looks.” He pointed to the one on the left. It wasn’t a random choice. The light, pastel green color appealed to him. While she held it up he stepped back, nodded his head in approval, and told her, “Yes, that’s the one I want. You can put the others back in the closet.”

While she was hanging up the other dresses he stood behind her, to get a closer look at what Gary had allowed her to buy. He was surprised to see every outfit was a dress. The style, cut and color varied but there were no skirts, blouses, shorts or pants. That had to be Gary’s specific rules at work.

“What’s your normal morning routine?” he gestured to the line of dresses. “Were you allowed to pick your wardrobe on your own, how did it work?” His use of past tense was deliberate, since he intended to change it with immediate effect.

She didn’t miss that subtle shift either. Looking over her shoulder she explained. “As you can see for yourself, sir, I am limited to dresses, no exceptions. Nothing below the knee, but otherwise it was up to me to do the shopping. If your brother didn’t like what I wore he had me change immediately.”

“I’ll rely on your fashion sense, but I’m making some changes, starting now.” He put his hands on her shoulders to turn her around to face him. “The first change is that you are no longer restricted to dresses. I happen to find skirts attractive too.” He paused for a moment, thinking about something more specific. “You will adjust your future choices to a ratio of one skirt and top for every two dresses. The blouse must be sleeveless for skirts, but it doesn’t apply to dresses. I’ll keep the knee length limitation for now. Will that be a problem?”

The only obvious sign was a slight hesitation before she answered. “No, sir, no problem.”

“I heard that pause, what is it?”

“To be frank, sir, it’s been so long since I wore anything but a dress the switch to something new is a bit jarring. I’m not complaining; it might be nice to have a little more variety. Sleeveless, sir, does that mean you like to see bare arms? Can I go a little farther, bare shoulders too?”

“To the first question, yes; and to the second, you choose and we’ll see.”

The Job

“Sir? We haven’t talked about this yet, but on weekdays I would usually wear what I call my company uniform.” She went to the closet and took out a two-color dress. “This is similar to the actual company outfit the women in the apprentice program wear. Compliance is not required by company policy since I’m privately owned, but your brother wanted me to fit in. It’s a common practice.”

Work, she has a job? This was all new to George. “I had no idea you held a job. Get dressed and we’ll discuss it over breakfast. Put on that work dress you’re holding. I want to see how it looks. When you’re ready come out to the kitchen.”

While she finished dressing he put the skillet on the stove, took the eggs out of the refrigerator and quickly mixed an omelet. While he wasn’t an expert cook being a bachelor he was able to fend for himself as far as fixing simple dishes. The eggs didn’t take long to cook.

He slid the omelet out of the skillet onto the plate and flipped it in half just as Sharon came into the kitchen. “Perfect timing, breakfast is served. I hope you like eggs and toast. Sit down in that chair.” George gestured toward the small kitchen table with the spatula.

“Sir? I can fix breakfast for you…” she began.

“And you will, but not today.” He cut her off abruptly. “Though after you try out my meager culinary skills we may both regret my cooking.” He placed the plate in front of her and joined her at the table. “Go ahead, I hope it’s edible. My feelings won’t be hurt if you can’t stomach it.”

She gave him a strange look before taking a bite of the eggs. “Sir, this is quite good. I think maybe you were trying to lower my expectations? I believe the term is sandbagging?”

George shrugged. “Well, I did take a few cooking classes at the community college. Now, tell me about this job. Gary never mentioned it.” He picked up a piece of toast.

“Yes, sir. Don’t laugh, but I’ve always had this ambition, growing up, to be a librarian. Not just stacking books on shelves, but the parts most people never see, archiving papers, preserving old manuscripts, and most of all indexing so researchers can find those vital primary sources. I have a B.A. degree in Library Science, though to manage a big library you really need a Master’s.”

“This was before you came to the Island?”

“Yes, sir. My professional life was going well. My personal life, well, let’s describe it as a hundred car train wreck. Anyway, your brother arranged for a job at one of the major civil engineering companies headquartered on the Island. The company name is Gulf-Indian Civil Engineering Group, CICEG for short. I’m the assistant archivist for all the technical documents and field reports. Mr. Harquist is the head of our department; I report to him in the office. I expect you will hear from him any day now about when, or if, I’ll be returning. Right now I’m out on compassionate leave.”

George could see how animated she was when talking about her work. He didn’t miss that “when or if” comment either. She needed his permission to go back to work, or even keep her job. His inclination was to let her return, but as Sharon’s owner he did have an obligation to perform his due diligence, to ensure it was in her best interest. Even though Gary must have checked the company and her duties thoroughly, he had different standards compared to his brother’s often superficial approach to matters like this. Still, he didn’t see any harm in letting Sharon continue. It was obvious she was anxious to resume work.

“I’ll contact your supervisor today. After that we’ll work out the rest of the details.” He was deliberately being vague. George wanted a meeting with this Mr. Harquist to find out how well Sharon did her job and what it entailed.

“But first, stand up and let me see this uniform. It’s not mandatory?”

Sharon stood up. She wore a sleeveless dress, with the top part all white, and maroon red from the waist down. “No, sir. I don’t belong to the company, so you can decide what I wear to work. The company uniform is a white blouse and maroon skirt, but since your brother didn’t allow skirts this dress was a compromise. Those women who are in the apprentice program must wear the uniform, with the company logo embroidered on the blouse.”

“But there’s no logo on your dress?”

“Oh no, sir, that wouldn’t be right. I belong to you, not the company. The colors identify me as an employee, but that’s all. I’m not subject to the rules for the women who are wards of the company.”

“Do other companies on the Island have similar policies?”

“Yes, sir, as far as I know it’s widespread across the Island. Not every company has the same policy, and women who are not owned can wear whatever they like, of course. Also, if there are religious requirements those take precedence. Muslim women must keep their head covered, that’s very common.”

George nodded to show he understood. Even off the Island a few companies did the same thing. Airline customer service personnel were all issued uniforms; it wasn’t all that different.

“I want you to wear that dress all day.” He paused to look her over. “Yes, I like it.” This is starting to come easily, he thought, with just a tiny hint of guilt.

Little Details

There was a nice memorial for Gary, more of a wake, with his Island friends in attendance. Sharon held up well. Some of her friends, with their owners, were there to offer support. One of her friends was there on her own, unexpected but not that unusual. The woman still retained her freedom, although from what Sharon mentioned her friends were mostly on the other side of the collar.

George had temporarily halted outside contacts for Sharon until he had a chance to find out about her local acquaintances. This was a chance to meet them in person. When she introduced each one, with their owner’s permission, he made snap judgments based on first impressions. All of them passed, including her unattached friend. When Sharon had a free moment he gave her blanket approval to resume phone calls and texting. As soon as he received her new travel permit from the Registration office he’d let her arrange visits in person.

Am I being paternalistic, acting as if she were a child? The question bothered him. The simple answer was yes, though he certainly didn’t regard her as anything but an adult woman. He took to his new role as her owner seriously, which included standing between Sharon and the rest of the world. He hadn’t discussed it with her, and in any case he didn’t plan, on general principles, to begin explaining his reasons, but he was sure she accepted it was part of any master’s job. Was being overprotective only an excuse for some new way to control her life? Maybe so, and if it was true George felt no need to apologize for it. The Island was having an effect on him.

By their fifth day together he began noticing little details. More and more she looked to him for approval, usually when asking for permission for what would be considered trivial matters, like standing up or sitting down. He didn’t discourage her, which led to what could only be described as opening the floodgates. By the seventh day he was hard pressed to keep up with her.

And there was the crux of the problem he had created. Sure, he could put a stop to it, yet he didn’t. Just the opposite, George found himself craving ways to use his power over her, to place his hand on the tiniest facets of how she lived her life. Like a feedback loop, he thought, it keeps growing. Except in engineering a positive feedback loop ultimately fails when it runs out of control. He had to be cautious in avoiding that scenario with Sharon.

And that wasn’t going to be easy. They were in the living room, watching TV when the urge came over him to break the routine. “Stand up, go to the front door,” he ordered.

She didn’t hesitate, which was only to be expected. She did look a bit confused, unsure what he was doing. This was something new and random. Sharon wasn’t able to anticipate his intentions. She does like me to be predictable, he reminded himself.

At the front door she turned to face George, following behind her. “Sir?” she asked, obviously unsure as to what I had in mind.

“We’re going for a walk around the neighborhood.” He opened the hall closet. “Put on some comfortable shoes.”

“Sir? It’s after curfew…” she began.

“I know what time it is. Shoes, now!” He pointed to the floor of the closet. Maybe George was a bit harsh in his tone but it would remind her he expected obedience when he told her what to do.

This time she slipped on her shoes without a word. “Face the wall, hands at your side.” She was in familiar territory now. Again she complied without a pause. George was on a power trip, amazed at how easy it was to control her.

She was right in pointing out the time. After curfew he couldn’t take her outside without meeting certain legal requirements. There were a few additional details that required his attention. They were hanging from pegs in the closet.

Sharon was as still as a statue. George assumed she knew what was coming next. How would she react? He didn’t expect any trouble. After all, this wouldn’t be her first time.

He picked up the handcuffs off the peg on the closet wall. “Hands behind your back, palms together.” Before he had finished speaking her hands were exactly where he expected. Carefully he closed a cuff around each wrist, not too snug, the way it was described in the manual he found online. “Tell me if these are too tight. I have to rely on you to let me know if they need adjusting.”

She yanked on them first before moving her wrists around. “Sir? They are a little too loose. One more click would be better. If I work at it I can slip out at this setting.”

She was certainly a perfectionist. If she had to be restrained, Sharon needed to be satisfied it was done properly. He pressed the cuff closed one more click of the ratchet before using the key to engage the double lock. “Is that okay?” George asked.

He watched while she put his work to the test. “Yes, sir, that’s satisfactory.”

George almost laughed. Satisfactory, good to know he earned her approval. He was taking away her freedom of movement, and she was grateful for it. He shook his head; it was one more way Island life differed from the rest of the world.

“Sir? If I may be of help? The security cover goes over the cuffs. After that, wrap the waist chain around me. The long bar with the slot in it? Slip it through a chain link first, and then through the security cover. After that take the other end of the chain, run it through the slot and lock it at my side, out of reach. That’s the most secure way.”

George already had the general idea from the manual he found. Her description was helpful, no surprise since she was the expert. He retrieved the items from the closet and following her instructions soon had her hands closely anchored to the small of her back.

“How’s that?” Sharon tried to shift her hands, reaching to the left and right. George was entranced by her struggles. He could free her anytime he wished. She, on the other hand, didn’t have that option. Power rested with the keys in his pocket.

“Very effective, sir. Even if I had the keys I can’t free myself. I’m helpless, sir. You’ll have to assist me from now on.” He liked the sound of that. Of course, she knew exactly what to say to trigger his protective instincts. Even so, it worked. He ran a hand down her arm to her bound wrist. The steel jewelry added immensely to her attractiveness.

“Also, sir, leg chains are optional when you use a waist chain. There should be a set in the closet. If you wish, they fit around my ankles. Your brother had the cuffs custom tailored for me.”

Was she asking him to use them? George wasn’t sure, though she could have easily failed to mention it. So Gary had a special set made just for her? There could only be one reason, and that was he had used them often. George wondered if Sharon had her own minimum standards when it came to being restrained. First the bed, and now she required a full set of chains for curfew.

He reached in the closet for the leg irons. Unlike the handcuffs these weren’t adjustable. There was a wide cuff with a locking bar, and a stout chain between. Opening one end he crouched down and slipped it around her ankle. It was a snug fit but not too tight. He closed the bar and turned the key to lock it. She must have anticipated this moment, because her stance was wider than normal, but close enough for the other cuff to reach.

Standing up he took a step backward to admire his work. Anywhere else the police would arrest him on the spot. Kidnapping, false imprisonment, and whatever else they could dream up for charges. Here it was just the opposite. He’d be cited if he took her outside without following curfew regulations.

“Turn around to face me.” He held onto her arm. In her condition it was very easy to trip and fall. When she finished he placed his hands on her upper arms. When Sharon lifted her head to look up at him he fully expected to see some kind of anxiety or distress. After all, she was hooked up like a violent criminal.

What he encountered was quite the opposite. Her face showed…what? Eagerness, excitement, arousal? Whatever it was, she certainly wasn’t in distress.

“Please, sir, hold onto me. I was taught never to walk on my own when it’s so difficult for me to move about.”

George wasn’t sure if that was entirely accurate, though it didn’t matter. He took hold of her arm before opening the front door.


At some point George began to question whether or not he was being seduced. Not by physical attraction, no, she was drawing him in with the far more irresistible lure of uninhibited submission to his will. Sharon was replacing her own opinions, her own decisions, even her own conscience with his views, his wishes, his sense of what was right and wrong.

George had no doubt he’d pay for his sins eventually, but until then he had no qualms about what was growing between them. Sharon would learn his way, and why all the other, wrong ways were forbidden. When she had doubts, he would be there to dispel them. Most important of all, he envisioned a future where he represented the ultimate authority in her life. Yes, George was in full megalomaniac mode, yet he wasn’t concerned. He saw himself as clearing the way for her, creating a safe, secure path to follow his leadership.

In a way he was turning into another Gary, at least in the ways she responded to him. George was starting to fully appreciate what his brother had built with Sharon. Maybe he was stepping into his brother’s shoes in some respects, but he was still his own man.

Was it a self-serving justification for the way he treated her? Of course it was, but that didn’t change the fact it was undeniably what Sharon sought from him. Was it a case of her being on the rebound, needing someone, anyone to fill the void? Very likely, though someone else would have to meet her needs if he wasn’t up to the job. George was a known quantity, from her point of view. Better the devil you know than the one you don’t, according to an old cliché.

That evening, after she was securely restrained in bed, he pulled over a chair and sat down beside her. Sharon watched his every move but didn’t say anything. She had no specific instructions on talking after bedtime. Even so, she never spoke unless he asked a question first.

He casually laid a hand on her knee. She didn’t say a word, and held very still while closely studying his face. “Okay,” he began, “I want you to be totally honest and open with me. You are doing your best to not just seduce me but draw me further into the role of your master. Now, I’m not angry or irritated at what you’re doing. I’m not even sure I want you to stop. What I do require is for you to explain why.”

“Please forgive me, sir. I’m sorry if I angered you. It’s not a conscious thing. After the fact I realize what I’ve done but I can’t seem to stop it. I want you to like me, sir, to be attracted to me. Understand you are my whole world. The thought of losing you scares me.

“It’s fear, sir. I’m terrified that one day I’ll be all alone, no one to love, no one to love me. You’ll grow tired of me; you’ll see me as boring and dull. I’ll be cast aside, spending the rest of my days in a small room by myself with no one to take care of me. It’s my worst nightmare, sir”

There were tears running down her cheeks. That was the moment the full impact of what it meant to live on the Island hit him like an oncoming train. Despite the constant temptation George had been holding back. The consequences of what he’d left undone were plain to see.

He wiped away her tears. “I’m not angry with you,” he reassured her. “I’m angry at myself for missing the obvious.”


George kept most of Gary’s rules in place. Sharon needed the stability, so he decided against any sweeping changes. However, there was an obvious need to assert his own authority to establish he was not just a clone of Gary.

The first change he implemented was a time limit on the phone and computer. No more than one hour for a single conversation during the day, and at night she had to turn off all the electronics by 8pm. That still left her plenty of time to keep in touch with her peer social group, balanced with evenings set aside for just the two of them, without interruptions.

Every man who has the power exercises it to a greater or lesser degree by dictating his woman’s appearance. George set up what he expected to be a simple procedure. Before they went to bed she had to pick out two outfits for the next day. He’d look them over and decide which one she was permitted to wear. He was concerned she might put in a ringer, something he was sure to turn down. That didn’t happen. Sharon took his instructions seriously and, as far as he could tell, put some effort into making it as difficult as possible for him to choose one over the other. Of course he always picked the right one, even if he had no idea why.

There was still the matter of her job, and what he was going to do for work on the Island. George’s current project for his employer was well along, with a first tape out completed for the chip, and they’d booked one of the simulators to run another timing verification. His team was able to handle the remaining tasks with some input from his reviews along with video conferencing. Management had been informed of his intention to leave as soon as his current work was wrapped up.

Sharon was going back to her old job. He could see that light in her eyes when she started in on all those little details about archiving documents that George had never thought about. His own career in electronics dominated his life; it was plain to see Sharon was just as passionate about her own profession. He had an appointment tomorrow to meet with Sharon’s supervisor. It would be a formality, to satisfy George’s own duty of care as her owner.

His own prospects were more problematic. His resume was circulating with the local Island headhunters, though George wasn’t optimistic given the small size of the engineering community. Between his own investments and Sharon’s trust fund there were no short term financial pressures to worry about, but he had no intention of spending his days sitting idly in front of the TV.

Then there was the matter of the car; or rather, the matter of Sharon’s car. She had yet to ask about it, or her travel card. By rights there shouldn’t be any issue for George to consider. His brother had allowed her out on her own; there was no practical reason he should change that policy. Except, and he had to admit it was about as selfish as he could be, there was that nagging voice in the back of his head that kept pushing him to be more and more controlling.

In realistic terms, assuming he found a new job she had to commute to work on her own. Reaching into the desk drawer he took out her travel permit and debit card. Both were authorized, and he’d transferred some money into her debit balance. Holding the cards in his hand George’s thoughts wandered, still amazed at how much Sharon had to rely on him.

These cards, they must be of immense value to her, yet she’d never brought up the subject. I doubt I’d have the patience to wait. It was one more way the two of them differed. Nothing seemed to bother her; Sharon had an almost boundless optimism about the future. George, in contrast, always had tomorrow on his mind. Maybe that’s why she has so much patience, he realized.

Return to Work

“We’re not a company profit center, so we don’t have a large operating budget. Management tends to see us as a necessary evil, but the people who have to produce results do value our resources.” That explanation was from Arthur Harquist, Sharon’s supervisor at the civil engineering company’s archives. “Most of the time Sharon and I are the only ones maintaining the records, though we can bring in temporary help for large documentation dumps, usually when a project is completed.”

“Where does Sharon work? Does she interact with many people from the company?” George was visiting the department, located in one of the smaller downtown office buildings operated by the company.

“We split the work. I handle incoming requests, all the administrative overhead, and generally answer questions about what services we offer. I filter out specifics and send those queries to Sharon. She has a talent for composing database searches through the file indices. For every query I can construct she runs three or four. So, you can understand I’d very much appreciate it if you might allow her to return as soon as possible. As for outside contacts, those are minimal though if there’s an extensive research effort she might work with someone from Engineering for a day or so.”

George looked around Sharon’s work area. Aside from a couple of computers there were playback machines for several media formats, including a classic Betamax home video. “You have some real antiques in here. A Betamax, and a VHS? Is that an open reel magnetic tape unit in the corner?”

Arthur started laughing. “Yeah, believe it or not, we have records going that far back which haven’t been digitized. If we get a request then we convert the media first. That’s why we have all these museum pieces. There’s a couple of retired electronic hobbyists who help us keep them running.”

“And Sharon handles the restorations?”

“She’s an expert. We don’t get a lot of requests for material that old, obviously. When we do she runs the copy process while taking notes for the index metadata. She has an uncanny sense of what’s important for future research.”

George was satisfied the job was a safe place for Sharon. She was contributing in a meaningful way, and she certainly was enthusiastic about her work. “If I could impose on you for one last favor? I’d like to see Sharon on the job. Could we bring her in here so she can show me a typical assignment during her day?”

“Of course, no problem. I’ll go back to the office and bring her here.”

While waiting George went over to the open reel tape unit. It looked familiar, maybe something he’d seen in a museum? Then it came to him. Many years ago during a consulting job at a customer site he’d seen the same unit in a computer room, connected to an old mainframe. Vacuum column, multi-density, and fast at 75 inches per second, it was top of the line in its day. That day was long past. Reel tape did not make for a good long term archival medium. Over decades the magnetic patterns would bleed through to adjacent tape layers on top and bottom, corrupting the data.

The nostalgic moment ended when Arthur returned with Sharon. “Sir? Mr. Harquist says you’d like to see for yourself what I do down here all day long?”

This is my job, my responsibility, George thought, to make sure she enjoys working here, and isn’t being overworked. “That’s right. Pretend I’m not here. If there’s a small project in your stack,” he gestured toward her IN basket, “I’d like to see what you do.”

She sat down at her desk and began looking through the basket. When she came to one she held up the slip of paper. “Sir? Mr. Harquist? May I process this one? I think I can do it quickly.”

He took the request from her hand, looked it over, took out a pen and signed it before handing it back to Sharon. “Go ahead.” Turning to George he explained, “There’s a tender for a new highway from eastern Spain to Tuscany; the bid is for subcontracting out the process of locating and surveying an undeveloped pass through the Alps into Northern Italy. The request from the civil engineering department is for any historical references to narrow down the possibilities. That might be a competitive edge.”

George nodded to indicate he understood. He deliberately hung back so as not to distract Sharon. A query form appeared on her display. Her hands flew across the keyboard, too fast for George to follow what she was typing. A moment later the printer next to her desk came alive spitting out two pages of results. She picked them out of the tray, stapled them together along with the request form, and handed it to Arthur.

“My part is finished, sir. Mr. Harquist inspects my work for accuracy. He’ll ask for corrections if I make a mistake, or pass it on if he approves.” George could hear the excitement in her voice. This was her calling, to be the keeper of the company’s long term memory.

“218 BC? And no one’s used that pass since then? Are you sure?” Arthur was staring at the top line in the search results in disbelief.

“Yes, sir. It was the route Hannibal used to cross the Alps on his way to Italy, the second Punic War. The primary sources are accounts by Polybius and Livy, contemporaries and regarded as authoritative by modern historians. Hannibal’s engineers cleared the mountain path so it was wide enough for the elephants. That’ll handle modern trucks. For some reason no one’s ever used it since then. It’s mostly pasture land.”

Arthur shook his head. “No one in engineering is going to believe this. If we’re lucky no one else has thought to check Roman history. You see, Mr. Thornton? This is why we need Sharon back on the job.”

She looked up at George, her face beaming with well-earned pride. That’s all it took for him to decide. “Sharon will return tomorrow morning.”

Long Enough

“So how was your first day back to work?”

Sharon was on her back, strapped down in bed for the night. George leaned over her, checking the leather belts to see if any were loose.

“Left knee, sir, it doesn’t feel right.” He pulled the belt one notch tighter. Although he often worried about demanding too much from Sharon, she did have her own standards and didn’t hesitate to remind him when he didn’t measure up to her expectations. She was very particular about their evening routine. If he left a strap loose she let it be known he wasn’t being thorough.

“I came back just in time, sir. My friend Luisa, she’s a technical writer in Civil Engineering, emailed a long list of search requests. I ran through the indexing all day long looking for her information.” She studied George’s facial expression, looking for little clues about what he might be thinking while he ran a hand over her bound ankle. “As I reported on, sir, we discussed some of the results on the phone. Our plan is for her to get permission to cross the street to the archives, so we can work through her list faster in person.”

She paused to check the straps one more time. At least that was her excuse. He had to admire the way she skillfully pretended to struggle. It certainly drew his attention.

“Mr. Harquist took me out to lunch, sir, for my first day back. I sent you the texts about it.”

Following his instructions Sharon had texted him before going to lunch, explaining where they were headed and how long they expected to be gone. He had sent back his okay, giving her permission to eat with her supervisor. He had to be alert for her incoming texts. Yet again he was learning to appreciate how much work was involved in owning the woman spread out before him.

Not that it was difficult work. Quite the opposite; it didn’t take long before he looked forward to the end of the day, when she crawled into her web of straps and waited patiently for him to tie her down. He ran his fingertips down her inner thigh, savoring the soft, warm flesh under his fingertips. Don’t kid yourself, George, he thought, regardless of what she says about nightmares this is a blatant attempt to seduce you.

Obvious but effective in how well she carried it off, so how long was he supposed to wait, out of respect for his brother Gary? She was watching him like a hawk who tracks the rabbit running across the field, waiting for the moment to pounce. Though she wouldn’t be pouncing in the literal sense; he was methodical in ensuring she wasn’t going anywhere.

“Sir? May I speak?”

Lost in thought he didn’t answer immediately. Giving in to an impulse he ran a finger around Sharon’s neck, first under her collar and then back across the top. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. He felt a slight shudder run through her body.

“Are you cold?”

Her eyes flew open. “No, sir, not at all. Please, may I explain? It’s important.”

George leaned back in the chair and folded his arms. “Okay, I’m listening. Go ahead.” Maybe it was one of those guilty pleasures in the way he dispensed his approval after hearing her all but begging for permission. Certainly it felt right, or at least pleasurable.

“I was honest, sir, about being tied down when sleeping. It really does make a difference, knowing you are near, watching over me, protecting me from my demons. I was not entirely forthcoming about the other reason I like being so helpless.”

That got George’s attention. What had she been holding back? From what he’d learned about Sharon it was out of character for her to conceal anything, if not actually mislead him.

“What’s this other reason?” If his suspicions were right he already knew the answer.

“In part it’s to entice you, sir, to make use of me. You’re a man, I’m a woman, I belong to you and that means I must be available to you at any time. Except I have this little quirk, where I have to be forced to have sex. I can’t really enjoy it unless I’m being overpowered and trying to fight back. Right now I’m in what you might call an ideal position, so I’m doing my best to persuade you.” She twisted back and forth in a feeble attempt to find some way out of the straps.

“One more thing, sir. When I am overwhelmed, and lose control, I can be noisy. That’s why there’s a gag in the drawer in the bedside table. With it on I can scream and shout to my heart’s content, without worrying about you going deaf.”

George didn’t comment on her revelation. He was too engrossed in watching her twisting left and right, straining with all her strength against the bonds. He could easily release her in seconds. That wasn’t going to happen.

“I held back from you, sir. It was wrong of me and I deserve to be disciplined.” She didn’t stop her efforts to free herself. “Silence me with the gag, master. Then teach me a lesson I won’t forget.”

Kurt and Luisa

Quiet Evening

Luisa leaned her head against Kurt’s shoulder and closed her eyes. She reached up to his arm, around her shoulders, and pulled it down. Oh, how I want him to hold onto me, she thought. There was some show on TV that Kurt liked, so she didn’t want to disturb him. What she did want was to be near him, to be cuddled, to be loved.

How does he do it? Why is it I can’t say no to him? The weight of the collar around her neck was a partial answer yet it was only an outward sign, an effect not a cause. Next week it would be three months the metal band had been her constant companion. Not an unwelcome companion though. Only three months, but it feels like it’s been there all my life.

“Comfortable?” Kurt asked. The TV was muted while some commercials were on screen.

“Yes, sir. Don’t let me interrupt your show.” She couldn’t bring herself to use his actual name, even in private. Kurt was always sir, no matter where they were. There was a certain irony in that, for all the power he might wield over her, he’d never actually ordered her to address him that way, at least in private. In public Luisa understood her new obligation to address all men with respect. Island law was inflexible on that point, a warning repeated over and over in those classes she had to attend. More than once she forgot, though she quickly corrected the mistake. Kurt had been very patient with her, though seeing his frown of disappointment was far worse than any verbal reprimand.

She opened her eyes to look at the TV screen. The dialog was in German, with English subtitles. “This show isn’t very original. Growing up I used to watch a German cop show called Derrick, reruns from the 1970s. It was as good as American shows, but in German. The plot on this episode I recognize from that old show. I can tell you who did it and how it ends if you care.”

Luisa lifted up her head. “I’m not watching, sir.” Kurt picked up the remote and shut off the TV.

“All these new shows, but nothing original. I suppose that’s green entertainment, endlessly recycling the old rather than create anything new.”

“Yes, sir, social awareness, that’s mandatory for production companies now.” There was a time she actually believed big business should be used to reshape society. Like everything else in her life Kurt had opened her eyes to the results. “That car chase scene, when you turned it off, does the detective catch the villain speeding away with the informant in the trunk? Does he save her? Would you race to the rescue if I were in the trunk?”

Where did that last question come from? A car chase on the Island would end in a few minutes, nowhere to go except into the ocean. And who would grab her anyway? The crime rate was so low nothing like that could ever happen.

Kurt suddenly sat up, turned and took hold of her shoulders. “Never doubt, if anything happened to you, I would not rest until I had you back in my arms.” She stared into his face, seeing in his expression how serious he was. “Never, ever, lose faith in me, Luisa. No matter what you’re told, I will come for you.”

That was the moment Luisa felt the full impact of what she’d done. The one year agreement was no trial period; that was only a formality. Kurt would never let go of her. This relationship was a lifetime commitment.

Off to Work

Kurt picked up his laptop case and headed for the front door. When the daily pipeline progress reports came in it would turn into a busy day. A new batch of emails should include the latest political analysis. Now that the Central Asia pipeline was about to cross the Azeri border with Armenia the political and ethnic sensitivities were critical in avoiding an outbreak of work site violence and the ever present risk of sabotage. The recent military action in Azerbaijan had done nothing to help with rising international tensions.

Luisa was waiting for him by the apartment’s front door. Since it was a work day she had on the “not quite” company uniform. Same colors and style, but without the company name embroidered on the blouse. Luisa belonged to him, but he wanted her to fit in with her peers, many of whom were friends from her days in the apprentice program. As he did every day he paused to inspect her appearance. He had certain values for her to maintain, standards which were mandatory and strictly enforced. She was aware of the penalty for failing to meet those requirements, and that he would, without fail, see to it she met his demands.

One set of rules for me, a quite different set for him. There was a time, just a few months ago, Luisa would have been outraged at the suggestion of anything less than full equality. Yet here she was, submitting herself to his stringent examination, and proudly proving to Kurt she could meet and exceed any restriction he chose to place on her. That’s where I was wrong. It isn’t about equality, it’s about ability. Her boundaries had to be set externally, by Kurt. His came from within, the moral code he lived by.

“From each according to their ability, to each according to their need,” a familiar phrase from Karl Marx. It was a failure as far as economic theory went, but ironically appropriate for personal relationships. Kurt and I, we both depend on each other’s abilities to fill our mutual needs.

Morning Routine

Luisa was all too familiar with the morning routine. She stood rigid as a statue, head held high, positive he would approve. He wasn’t disappointed. In fact Kurt would have been shocked if anything were out of place. He was strict with her, far more than what might be considered normal in an initial one year agreement. He was all too aware under normal circumstances such a relationship would not survive the inevitable stresses. The difference? Luisa was a special case, one that demanded substantial effort on his part. It was true he was what might be called “heavy-handed” with her, but it was a necessity.

Though he’d never really understand why, it was obvious she thrived on both his specific instructions concerning her behavior, and even more puzzling his immediate correction when she disobeyed. At first he thought it was simply to please him, a common enough personality trait for submissive women. In Luisa’s case it went beyond the norm. He was positive her obedience stemmed from an inner drive to prove both to him and critically to herself that she was as close to perfect as was humanely possible in how she sought to win his approval.

As far as Kurt was concerned she had no competition. He had no interest in any other woman but Luisa. He’d told her as much, but it didn’t seem to make any difference. That’s when he began to suspect she acted that way to sustain her own self-esteem.

“Is there anything in your purse which doesn’t belong there?” He asked the same question every morning.

“No, sir,” she answered, all part of the morning ritual. At the same time she opened the top and held her purse out for his examination.

This was no game. At a minimum he made sure she didn’t have a wallet or anything that might conceal cash. There were no keys visible either. Both items were forbidden. He took her smartphone out of his jacket pocket and dropped it inside.

“You have permission to use your phone.” Every night she turned her phone over to him. Most nights he just connected it to the charger, but on random occasions he would turn it on to check her call history. Luisa understood nothing was to be concealed from him. She belonged to him; there was no right to any kind of privacy.

“Do you need to go out today?” Kurt kept close control over her travel permit. Without it she had to stay indoors. He didn’t like the idea of her wandering around on her own, without his knowledge.

“I planned on going to the archives today, sir, for more research. They’re across the street, in the old office building.” She didn’t go into detail since Kurt didn’t allow her to talk about job-related matters at home. “Sharon, you might remember her, she recently lost her master? She’s going to help me refine those queries I sent her yesterday. I thought we might go to lunch together, if that’s okay?”

Kurt nodded in approval. “Sure, I remember her.” He took out Luisa’s travel permit and debit card from his shirt pocket and dropped them into her purse. “Lunch is a good idea; friends should be close by in times of tragedy. Extend to her my best wishes. We’ll discuss the project when we get to the office.”

At the car Luisa stopped next to her door. Kurt opened the rear door first, took her purse and placed it behind her seat. Only then did he open her door. After she sat down he fastened her seat belt. She carefully folded her hands in her lap, precisely as Kurt wished. She held still while he looked her over one more time.

She was well aware he took this little procedure very seriously. A proper place for everything, all in order, that was the key to his personality. At work he had a fearsome reputation for demanding the highest effort from anyone involved in his assignments. Few looked forward to working with him, but his attitude suited Luisa.

When she first went to work in the technical writing office it had not gone smoothly. All too often he would come out of his inner office, page in hand and a frown on his face. “You can do better,” he would announce, without elaborating on what didn’t meet with his approval. What irked her most is the annoying fact he was right. Once she rewrote the report it was a vast improvement over what she was forced to admit was sloppy, hurried work. It was a tossup whether it was his superior attitude or the clear evidence he was right that irritated Luisa the most.

His demands for better work had its effect on Luisa. She did improve on her writing skills, if only to prove to him she had the ability to produce quality work. And when it came to the painful gaps in her general knowledge, illustrated by his little lectures on history and world events, she now took the time to check the facts instead of trusting to what she’d been taught.

He shut her car door and walked around to the driver side. Others might be intimidated by him, but she had the confidence to meet his demands with the same obsession for detail. Her co-workers felt sorry for her; little did they know how fulfilling it was to belong to Kurt. He brought out the best in her. That’s his ability matched to my need.

On the way to work Kurt brought up his plans for the weekend. “There’s going to be a classic movie festival over on North Island. Saturday there’s several Fritz Lang movies from the 1930s. We can stay the night and come back on Sunday. It’s open air, on the Boardwalk next to the Channel.”

North Island? Luisa knew all about the place, though she’d never been there. The moment she stepped off the ferry on North Island the one year agreement became an unlimited lifetime ownership, at least until Kurt brought her back home. Crossing the Channel to North Island was one of the very few times she could actually refuse to obey him.

“Are they showing your favorites, sir?” Of course she’d be with him, no matter where he took her. The rumors about daily life over there were often lurid, to the point of being ridiculous. Now she’d get a chance to see for herself.

“There’s M, naturally, it’s unquestionably his greatest work, and Peter Lorre’s most dramatic role. It’s in the original German, with subtitles. And Lang’s Hollywood film, Freaks, which has to be one of the most bizarre movies I’ve ever seen.”

“Peter Lorre, he was German, sir?” Luisa was used to all the holes in her education by now. She had never heard of the director or seen those movies.

“Hungarian, that’s what makes his accent, in English or German, so unique. Anyway, we’ll catch the afternoon ferry so we can walk around and do the touristy thing first. I’ll call in our reservations today.”

Luisa turned to look out her window. Life is so simple with Kurt being in charge. She had to smile at the thought. No discussion necessary, he had already decided they were going. And it’s fine with me; that’s how I want it. A year ago she’d be infuriated at his attitude. But today, she actually looked forward to the trip.

Across the Great Divide

“Did you read the news about the referendum? What’s your perspective? It directly affects you now.” Kurt was referring to the Island-wide referendum to allow collared females a vote in future elections on local matters.

Luisa turned to look at Kurt. “I read the text, sir. I have mixed feelings about it. Back in New York I never missed an election, civic duty and all that. Referendums are non-binding, so I don’t see a problem if I were allowed to vote opinions. I’m not so sure about political offices. And I’m certain it would be contrary to established practice were I to vote on a bond issue. That’s financial; it should remain forbidden.”

“But?” Kurt asked. He recognized that slight hesitation in her answer.

Luisa shook her head. “I don’t like the wording in the proposal. Sure, I’d like to cast a ballot, but only with your permission, sir. The proposal left that part out. And the other section, about it being a secret ballot, that part I strongly disagree with on the grounds it sets a dangerous precedent. Once I mark my ballot you should have every right to review it. I have nothing to hide from you, sir.”

Kurt nodded in agreement. “I sent the sponsoring committee an email about the secrecy. My suggestion is you vote, show me your selections, and if they look okay I allow you to cast the ballot. If I believe you’re voting against your best interests then you don’t cast the ballot. No do-overs, your vote should be your opinion, not what I order you to mark. It is my choice if it will count.

“However, I also have a duty to look out for you. If your vote is detrimental to your future I stop it immediately. That’s my job. Maybe I’m wrong and you’re voting for the right proposal. Then it’s on me for the mistake. Regardless, I must have the final say in the matter.”

Speechless, Luisa stared at Kurt. He was busy driving and took no notice. His view could not be more paternalistic. There was a time she’d be outraged at being treated like a child. Those times were behind her. In his oh so annoying way he was right, as always. His job was to look out for her, whether she liked it or not. Though she hated to admit it, his opinion and the reasoning behind it were consistent with the agreement she signed.

She turned away, to glance out the side window. In her faint reflection she could just make out the collar around her neck. How did I come so far, so fast? She had arrived on the Island with all the determined zeal and passion of the true believer on a crusade to expose and destroy the very institutions she now eagerly embraced.

He doesn’t really treat me like a child, she silently told her reflection. He does listen to me, and he does respect what I have to say. It’s just that he’ll go off and act as he sees fit in spite of my objections. The problem with Kurt was his stubborn insistence on having his own way. It was a problem because his tenacious attitude was irresistible, at least for Luisa. Once he started talking she couldn’t think straight. The dominating nature of his personality seemed to overwhelm her ability to reason coherently.

Those first few months on the Island she had the absolute truth in what she’d been taught in school to boost her courage. Luisa saw herself as the warrior fighting for social justice, to rescue the women imprisoned on the Island. Then the reality she observed didn’t match up with her convictions. If oppression existed, it was only in her mind. Slowly all her beliefs began to crumble into collapse. Certainty in her righteous cause turned into doubts about her objectivity. The long diatribes detailing the abuses began to sound like childish rants.

Then she met Kurt and her life began to change. He was the personification of everything wrong with men, according to her professors. Being assigned to work for him should have been a nightmare. Instead he opened up fascinating new vistas with his educated outlook on the world, a wealth of knowledge that put her university training to shame. Somehow he drew out the very best of her writing skills, not through intimidation but encouragement, combined with pointing her in the right direction when she veered off course. Nor did he hesitate in criticism when it was warranted. Correction she deserved in hindsight, as much as she hated to admit to it.

Luisa was already halfway across the great divide in her convictions when that fateful night pushed her to the other side. It started out as dinner, but ended as far more. She’d drunk the Kool-Aid, gave into the Dark Side, and by the end of the night found herself madly in love with Kurt.

Lost in thought she continued to look out the window. They were almost at the office. She was careful not to break her position, with hands folded in her lap. Kurt wouldn’t tolerate missteps, not after she’d gotten it right so many times. Nor did she want to disappoint him. He had a way of looking at her that was far worse than verbal criticism, an expression that revealed his disapproval and at the same time reminded Luisa she wasn’t living up to her own potential.

How did I wind up like this, she wondered? Maybe Kurt could explain it to her, because she had no idea. There were times she almost believed he knew everything about every possible subject, so why not the explanation for how he’d gotten so deep inside her head she felt him looking over her shoulder day and night, watching, supervising, handing out his approval or ready with a quick word if she strayed.

In the end, this is where I want to be. Luisa had to admit she was never so happy as this very moment, sitting beside Kurt. Insufferable, persistent, overbearing Kurt, yet she’d do anything to hold onto him. He turned off the street into the underground garage entrance. That was the point where it was all business for the day. It would be a busy one; she had a pile of pipeline topics to drill down, with Sharon’s help. Once she wrote the report Kurt would review it, point by point. If she wasn’t thorough he’d spot it and make her do it over again. Luisa wasn’t worried; she’d learned how to maintain her own confidence against his meticulous scrutiny. In a way she had become her own worst critic when it came to her work.

At The Office

Kurt sat behind his desk, waiting for Luisa to bring in the tray with their coffee. She spread a napkin on Kurt’s desk before placing his mug on the makeshift coaster. Two of the plastic creamer cups followed, neatly lined up to one side of the cup. She finished with a stirrer. As he did every morning he took his time before pouring the first creamer into the cup. It was a deliberate delay, to let Luisa know he paid attention to the smallest details. He looked up at her, standing next to her chair, thoughtfully stirring his coffee.

At his nod she sat down opposite him. The morning always started with a brief planning session over coffee. She unfolded a napkin for her cup and mixed in creamer and sugar. For Luisa this was one of the high points of the day, where she had his full, uninterrupted attention.

“The archival search is only for the pipeline?” Kurt asked before taking a sip of the hot brew. On the monitor he was examining her email concerning the request for a short field trip to the company files.

Luisa picked up her own coffee mug. “Yes, sir. Given the tensions boiling over at the border I thought it would be a good idea to go through any field reports around the construction locations. There might be useful background we could send out to help the on-site team. Not everything is digitized so I have to go to the archives to read some of the original material.”

Her transformation over the last few months had been phenomenal. She hadn’t shown this kind of initiative when she first as assigned to his office. Now she was both proactive and knowledgeable concerning the news unfolding daily near the pipeline construction sites. All she needed was the right sort of encouragement, he thought. Free from the dogmatic baggage she’d brought with her to the Island Luisa’s talents were blossoming.

“I hadn’t thought of that, good idea. There should be notebooks from the original survey, and some supporting material analyzing the previous, failed attempts to negotiate a right of way. Check on anything related to the Nagorno-Karabakh region and the conflict there as well. You might take a quick look at the collapse of the Russian-brokered armistice too. The pipeline route runs well north of the disputed area but it’s the root cause of all the problems we’re likely to encounter.”

Good idea, simple praise yet coming from Kurt it meant the world to Luisa. When she first came to the Island Luisa wasn’t even aware Azerbaijan was a country; now she was fast becoming an expert on Central Asian ethnic issues. Thanks to Kurt and his patient explanations she wasn’t embarrassed about the huge gaps in what should have been a comprehensive liberal arts education. She glanced up at the clock on the wall.

“Sir, I arranged to meet with Sharon at 9:30. She cleared it with her supervisor so we can work together all day. I’ll be back by four.” Left unsaid was the request for his permission to proceed.

Since he was her registered owner the arrangements were simple. Kurt leaned forward to pick up the phone on his desk. He punched in an intercom number. “Reception? This is Kurt Goeren in Engineering. My Luisa has permission to leave the building at 9:30. Log the expected return time at four this afternoon. Thanks.” He hung up.

“You are cleared to go to the archives. I’ve already sent an email to Mr. Harquist. He’s expecting you. I want you back promptly at four o’clock. Remember, the Central Asian Pipeline is a ‘bet the company’ project, so any detail, no matter how minor, may be significant. If you don’t finish today we’ll see about extending your visit through tomorrow.”

For one moment she saw the other side of Kurt, hidden behind that stoic Swiss exterior. “Lunch, hmm, Sharon recently lost her master, so your lunch time is flexible in case she wants to talk, but don’t take all afternoon. Don’t bring it up, but if she opens up to you a sympathetic ear can do wonders to ease the pangs of grief. Your conversations along those lines will remain private, between the two of you. This will be in confidence; do not share with me.”

Luisa couldn’t believe her ears. Kurt was actually telling, no, ordering her to keep secrets from him. In addition to his seemingly boundless knowledge of the world there was another Kurt that empathized with the tragedies other people faced. Not that he’d ever display those emotions openly.

Kurt saw the expression of surprise. “Don’t look so shocked. I trust you, Luisa. There are times you need to speak freely, without worrying about reporting to me. Her personal life is none of my concern, nor do I wish to intrude on her grief. You know, I’m not quite as insensitive to others as you might think. I choose not to make a show of it.”

“Yes, sir,” was all Luisa could think of in reply. This was a side of Kurt she hadn’t seen before. For that matter, nobody saw that side of him.

“Make sure you wear your travel permit. I know the archives are just across the street. Even if it only takes you a few minutes it’s the law. Now, I want you to text when you get there, when you go to lunch, when you get back, and when you leave to come back here. Choose somewhere nice for lunch, but keep it close by. Remember, it’s important I know where you are at all times.”


There was the usual delay at Reception, to verify she was allowed to leave the building. Fortunately Kurt’s phone call sped up the process. She had her travel permit, but that wasn’t enough. The guard at the door still checked the phone log, and warned her about the return time. Once out the door it took only a few minutes to cross the street to the old office building and descend into the basement filing rooms.

“Mr. Harquist? My name is Luisa, from the Engineering department. I believe Mr. Goeren notified you that I was coming today?” She stood in the open door of Arthur Harquist’s office.

“Of course, you’re expected. One moment,” he wrote down a quick note to record Luisa’s arrival time. “Okay, let’s find Sharon so you can get started. Any problems show up, be sure to come to me right away. The pipeline is a top priority for resources.”

She followed Mr. Harquist into the archives, row after row of storage cabinets packed with physical records. At the rear of the room Sharon was seated at a desk, working on a computer. She stood up as soon as she heard them approach.

“Sharon, this is Luisa, from across the street. I know you’ve been coordinating by email. She needs your help in searching our files for old records on the pipeline route. Charge all your time to engineering support, I’ll fill in the details. Luisa has to be back in her office at four, so you need to stop by 3:45. I’ve scheduled you for two full days, in case you run out of time today.”

“Yes, sir, we can start immediately.” Sharon might be ready, but as long as her supervisor was present she made no move without his explicit instructions. Luisa noticed it right away; it wasn’t all that different than her own office procedure.

Mr. Harquist went back to his office, leaving the two women to their task. The two women weren’t strangers but to date their contact had been limited to work-related inquiries. This was the first time Luisa was able to visit the mysterious hidden corner of the company campus.

“Okay, have a seat next to me and we’ll set up a plan of action for your queries. I suggest we run through all your topics first, extract locations and summaries from the database, and then you can sort through them by relevance. I’ll have to rely on your knowledge domain; about all I know of the pipeline project is it’s huge, expensive and Engineering is sweating blood on the milestone completion dates.”

Luisa joined her guide at the desk. Fortunately it had a large display, designed for precisely this type of work. Sharon took a printout from the desk drawer and laid it in front of them. “This is what you emailed me two days ago. After looking it over I suggest we start where the pipeline is now, in Azerbaijan. We can set the search parameters to sort by geolocation to follow along the route, so you’ll get the references by construction sequence…”

The two women worked all morning, sorting through query results by relevance. Luisa suggested they call a halt at a good stopping point, since it was close to the lunch hour. “This town is right on the Armenian border. The pipeline isn’t scheduled to reach it for at least three weeks, so I think we can end the reference search for today. This afternoon we can pull the actual records to look for useful details.” Luisa stood up to stretch. “How about some lunch? I know a good place that’s only a few blocks away.”

A Visit to Fu’s

“The first visit here was a memorable one,” Luisa began. “I was still in the apprentice program, working late. By coincidence, it was the original pipeline proposal. Anyway, my future master decided we were going to take a break for dinner.”

“All the time working at the archives I’ve never tried this place. I have no idea what Manchu style food is.” Sharon studied the menu. “It’s a little different from the kind of Chinese takeout I usually get.”

“I got the whole story. The owner, Mr. Lee Fu Bai, is from northeast China, what used to be called Manchuria. When he put up his sign he didn’t know about the joke, the reference to Fu Manchu, the fictional villain. Anyway, this is northern style Chinese food, spicier and more meat than vegetables. You’re thinking of southern style, lots of veggies and sauce stir-fried in a wok.”

Sharon nodded. “I think you’re right. Okay, you’re the expert, you order for us.”

While waiting for their food the conversation shifted away from work. “Master is taking me to a film festival this weekend. It’s one of those classic cinema events, you know, old black and white movies from the 1930s. The festival is outdoors on North Island’s Boardwalk, the tourist part of the pier.” Luisa shrugged, “He does love his old German movies.”

“North Island? Wow, I’ve never been there. You hear all those stories, doesn’t it worry you? Your master, he’s from Germany?”

Luisa nodded. “Yeah, it did, for a few minutes at least. But, he’s already decided, so off I go. I’m sure I’ll be alright. My master is Swiss, the German speaking part.”

Sharon held up her chopsticks in emphasis. “What about your agreement?” She pointed toward Luisa’s collar. “You know once you’re over there it doesn’t apply. Technically you’re in it permanently, or at least as long as he keeps you there.”

“Oh, I know. The way I look at it, the one year limit is just a number. I’m already invested for life.” Luisa pointed her chopsticks back at Sharon’s Facility collar. “Just like you, better or worse, etc. If Master were to decide we should move to North Island permanently I’d go, willingly.”

Sharon smiled. “Well, I’m the last one to criticize. Actually, going to North Island wouldn’t change anything for me. Still, you’ll have to tell me all about it when you get back.”

Luisa set down her chopsticks. “Do you mind if I ask you about your collar? Is it true, you went to the Facility?”

Sharon smiled at the familiar question. “Yes I did. My first master claimed me twelve years ago, while I was a trainee. He passed away recently. I belong to his brother now.”

“I’ve seen stories online, good and bad, about the Facility. I have to say you don’t seem to be a brainwashed sex slave.”

Sharon almost choked on her food. “Yeah, there’s a lot of that floating around. What’s the difference between being brainwashed and learning to live up to your full potential? I prefer the later explanation. I have nothing bad to say about the place. It’s not for everyone, though for a very few it’s a shelter to rebuild a life. It comes with a major sacrifice, giving up your freedom. For me it was worth it, and more. I’d do it all over again, without hesitation.”

“I don’t mean to pry, so tell me to shut up. Your new master, is he much like his brother?”

Sharon shook her head. “It’s okay, I don’t mind talking about him. No, he’s nothing like his brother, yet not in a bad way. He is firm when it comes to my behavior. That I don’t mind at all. After all don’t we all hope for a man like that?”

Not at first, Luisa thought. “My master, Mr. Goeren, he’s also very strict when it comes to what he wants from me.”

It was Sharon’s turn to be caught by the unexpected. “You belong to Mr. Goeren, in Engineering? There are stories about him…”

Luisa shrugged, “All probably true, too. He can be difficult to work with, but if you get to know him he’s, uhh…”

Sharon held up her hands. “You better stop there. Anyway, we have to get back to work.”

Lunch over, after both texted they were returning to the archives, they left the restaurant and walked out onto the sidewalk. Luisa noticed two policemen in uniform standing nearby. One of the officers looked up, saw Luisa and motioned for her to come over to their spot near a white van.

When Sharon followed the two men looked puzzled. “We’re together, sir,” Sharon offered by way of explanation.

One of the men glanced across the street before turning back to face the two women.

“We’re conducting random travel pass checks today. Please hand over your cards.”

Dave and Jaime

An Unexpected Request

“Are you serious, Clancy? You want me to visit the Facility? Not only that, you’re asking me to consider one of your trainees? If this is a joke…” Dave Greer wasn’t sure he was talking to the real Clancy Yates, Director of the Facility, a secluded institution well-known to Isla Del Sur society.

“It’s no joke. Trust me, Dave, when I say I can’t believe I’m asking you of all people. I’d consider it a personal favor if you’d come. No obligations and no pressure, I promise.” Clancy Yates had been the Director for nearly ten years, taking over when the previous Director retired.

“Okay, you win. Name the day and I’ll be there.” Despite a strong difference of opinions on certain subjects Dave and Clancy had been friends for several years.

“Thanks, Dave, I appreciate it. I’ll email you a package first, so that I won’t waste your time if you think it’s out of the question. All I ask is, you look it over with an open mind. If you want to proceed, let’s pencil in next Tuesday.”

Dave hung up the phone, shaking his head in disbelief. He risked a glance out the window, into the bright sun of a subtropical day. Nope, no snow in sight; the Devil wasn’t ordering snowplows because Hell froze over. Nor were there any flocks of pigs flying overhead. Clancy extending an invitation, after all these years? And he wants me to look at a package of some kind? Considering the Facility’s purpose a “package” could only refer to one thing, and that was even more absurd than the invitation to visit.

Based on their frequent debates Dave was positive he and Clancy had diametrically opposite views when it came to owning a woman. They might agree on a few points but Dave’s views were far too radical for him to ever be considered as a possible candidate by the Facility staff. Which only begged the question; just what did Clancy have in mind?

Change of Routine

For Jamie this Tuesday morning started like any other. The moment the alarm buzzed she threw the blanket aside and immediately sat up on the edge of the bed. When was the last time I had a chance to sleep in? She looked around her small room, still only half awake. Not since I arrived at the Facility, and how long ago was that, a year, two years ago? The days when she could be lazy and lie in bed vanished long gone. Her life was closely structured now, including the provision where both feet had to be on the floor after the alarm went off.

Her roommate was just as prompt. She was already standing up, looking at Jamie. “First in the shower?” she asked. Jamie waved her hand in agreement. Their arrangement was second into the shower had to clean up the bathroom, but first in had to make both beds and straighten up their room. She took a moment to glance at the timer on the wall. It wasn’t exactly a normal clock since all it did was count down the half hour until they had to be ready for morning inspection. From the day she arrived she had never seen a real clock with the time of day, or even a calendar, in the Facility. None of the staff wore wristwatches either, and access to phones or computers was nothing more than wishful thinking. Jamie knew it was deliberate; being unable to track the time made it difficult to procrastinate. And that was what she was doing now, instead of getting ready for the day ahead. She stood up and looked around their room.

The display on the wall had one reason to be there, to remind them there was no time to sit around and daydream. While waiting for her turn in the bathroom she opened the closet. What to wear today, she thought as she looked through her wardrobe. Like everything else at the Facility that decision had already been made for her. The only choice was the approved skirt, blouse, underwear and sandals that together made up their daily uniform. She took out a set and carefully hung them on the outside of the closet door. A quick look confirmed there were no wrinkles or spots. She knew from past experience mistakes like that would be caught immediately when their room inspector arrived. There were specific instructions concerning their appearance. Ignore those rules and the penalty was simple; all her clothes would be taken away, indefinitely. Once was enough to convince Jamie never to make that mistake again.

Another glance at the timer showed it was nearing the half way mark. She knocked on the bathroom door. Her current roommate wasn’t the best at time management and needed the occasional reminder. It wouldn’t have bothered Jamie except if anything was out of order in their shared room both women had to answer for it, regardless of actual blame. It had taken some hard work and a lot of time to earn a separate room; Jamie didn’t want to lose it and start over in the dormitory bunks.

Her roommate came out, still combing her hair. A last glance at the timer told Jamie that she had enough time left and wouldn’t have to hurry in the shower. Those few minutes where she could relax under the hot stream of water were precious. She hated to lose even one moment of her allotted time.

When Jamie finished and opened the bathroom door her roommate was dressed and the beds made. The room had to be ready for the upcoming morning inspection. That meant the beds were made up to the one acceptable standard every morning. No wrinkles, no bumps, corners squared off, pillow precisely centered, it all had to be done the Facility way. If either of them ever got it wrong they had to sleep on the floor, at a minimum, or for repeat offenses they risked losing the room. And that meant being housed in the dorm cells downstairs, a deliberately unpleasant experience Jamie did not want to repeat.

She laid out her clothes on the bed while her roommate peeked in the bathroom from the doorway. Meanwhile Jamie looked over the room while she dressed. Both of them knew too well the consequences of a mistake so they checked on each other, just in case one of them missed something. There was a room inspection every day, and it was always a exhaustive examination.

The moment the timer ticked over to zero and turned off, the two of them quickly moved to the marked spots on the floor next to their beds. How long before the room inspector arrived was always random; sometimes it would be seconds later, and then other times it seemed like hours. Regardless of when the inspector opened the door both of them had to stop when the thirty minutes ran out, whether they had finished or not. If either one was out of position when the door opened they automatically lost all privileges.

That was how the Facility operated. Hard work and diligence were rewarded with the small luxuries, like her room. The catch was, earning those privileges meant there was more to lose. Even the tiniest mistake could lead to severe consequences, if not outright punishment if their attitude came into question. Anywhere else it would be unduly harsh, but they were at the Facility to prepare for a life where the expectations of their future owners would be every bit as demanding.

Today they didn’t have long to wait for the inspector. In less than a minute the door swung open. Inwardly Jamie groaned when she saw it was Mrs. Yates doing the morning rounds. Of all the Facility staff she was the most difficult to satisfy. Anything out of place, even the smallest detail, would earn them at least a verbal scolding. Or worst of all, she would call in one of the men to have them taken away for punishment. Jamie ran through the check list in her head, trying to think of anything she had missed this morning. It was too late to correct it, but Mrs. Yates was known to be relatively lenient if one confessed before being caught.

Initially the first part of Mrs. Yates’ examination went surprisingly well. Jamie’s roommate got off with only a pointed comment about her skirt being too high. A slight adjustment and she was dismissed to go to breakfast. Then Mrs. Yates turned her attention to Jamie.

As usual she went over everything, checking the bed, the bathroom, and Jamie’s uniform. Jamie had started to think this would be a good day when Mrs. Yates opened her closet door. That’s when disaster struck.

“How many times have you been told to keep this closet organized?” Mrs. Yates began. Whatever it was Jamie couldn’t see the problem. “This drawer isn’t completely closed.” She pointed to the lower drawer on the left. Jamie’s optimistic hope for a good start on the day vanished in an instant. She’d missed it, one drawer just barely open, but it was enough. Mrs. Yates pushed it in with her foot. “You were in a hurry, weren’t you? What was it, late getting up this morning?” Jamie stood still, looking straight ahead. She had no excuse to offer.

“You have to remember, Jamie, it’s these little particulars that are so very important.” Mrs. Yates shut the closet door and turned to face her. “We both know the world won’t end because that drawer wasn’t closed. That’s not the point. You and I, we are given directions on how to behave. Whether those instructions are essential or trivial it’s not our place to decide what’s important, or what we can ignore.” Mrs. Yates stopped for a moment, lost in thought.

After a long pause she continued, “Understand, Jamie, the time will come when you will answer only to your master, and to yourself. We both know a man wouldn’t pay any attention to that drawer, much less care if it was open a crack. But you will notice because you know it’s wrong, that you failed him and yourself, even if it’s something inconsequential. That’s why you have to take those extra seconds every day to see it’s done right, for your own peace of mind.”

Mrs. Yates reached up with one hand to touch the collar around her neck. “One day soon you’ll be wearing one of these. You won’t be able to take it off, for a very good reason. It’s a constant reminder you don’t get to pick and choose which rules to follow, which orders to obey, any more than you can decide to take off that collar when you want a break. Every minute of every day you’ll know it’s there. You can feel the weight, you see it in the mirror; you notice the looks of people trying not to stare at it as they pass by in the street. You belong to a man, literally, and you have promised to faithfully obey him in all respects. All respects, not just those you decide are worthwhile. You know it, and so does everyone else. If you don’t, in any way, live up to what this collar represents you…” Mrs. Yates trailed off, not finishing her last thought.

“Jamie, you simply cannot let slipups like this happen. You’ve been here long enough to know better. You’ve been trained at the Facility; that means something special. Everyone in Island society expects more from you. You were chosen to uphold the highest standards, to represent the ideal Island woman. You have been granted a once in a lifetime opportunity, one not offered to most of the women in our isolated corner of the world. You must demonstrate you are worthy of that distinction. Think before you act; look, and look again. You must prove to yourself, and to your master, you deserve his collar.”

As always Mrs. Yates was right. In a hurry to get dressed Jamie had pushed the closet drawer shut with her foot, and hadn’t bothered to check later, when she finished. “No excuses, Mrs. Yates. I wasn’t paying attention.” She had broken a rule. That it was inconsequential wasn’t the issue. The thoughtless attitude was her real fault. Jamie braced herself for Mrs. Yates’ wrath. It would likely be a week cleaning floors after hours, if she was in a good mood. Otherwise it might be a month or more of some equally dreary chore.

“Very well, off to breakfast with you, lass.” Mrs. Yates waved a hand in dismissal. “But always remember, Jamie, we must keep to the straight and narrow path laid before us. We aren’t granted the indulgence of leniency if we disappoint our masters. Even a tiny step off that path leads to our downfall. As Facility women we have a certain responsibility, to demonstrate to everyone on the Island we are the ideal, the exceptional. We define the standard that all submissive women aspire to reach.”

Mrs. Yates left the room to continue the morning inspection. Her last comment left Jamie confused. No shouting, no recriminations at all, just a short lecture. That wasn’t the Mrs. Yates who showed no patience, or mercy, for anything less than perfection. And it wasn’t the same Mrs. Yates she heard yelling at some poor unfortunate in the next room. The question of why she was singled out for a rare moment of compassion concerned Jamie. Something had changed but she didn’t have any idea what it could be.

A New Day

Dave Greer glanced at the clock on the bedside table. The car was due at 8am, in about fifteen minutes. He put on his tie and checked it in the mirror. In a way this felt like going out on a date. Her first impression of him could potentially shape both their futures for many years to come.

The package from the Director was lying open on the top of the dresser. Inside it contained detailed reports concerning the woman Dave was scheduled to meet. Although there was quite a bit of information in it he had spotted the holes, the missing interpretations. Clancy wanted him to walk in with an open and unbiased opinion of this woman. There was something unusual about her, except he hadn’t been able to pin down exactly what it was.

Although he knew the Facility Director socially he never imagined there would come a time he’d be invited to the place, much less be considered as a prospect for one of the women there. He and Clancy Yates advocated widely differing points of view on the treatment of submissive women. The phone call and subsequent information sent to him left him curious and somewhat puzzled as to why Clancy had asked him to give serious consideration in regards to one particular woman currently residing at the Facility. Now he was going to meet her in person, to see for himself what was so special about this woman that all the normal procedures were being disregarded.

Dave had planned this meeting in detail, preparing alternatives depending on her reaction. He’d done his due diligence, studying everything about her that the Facility had provided. He had every advantage going in: he knew all about her; she knew nothing about him. That was deliberate, to see her spontaneous reaction before she had time to think it through. What he didn’t want was her telling him what she thought he wanted to hear, a likely possibility given her desire to please.

He picked up his tablet from the dresser and unplugged it from the charger. Dave didn’t expect he’d need it but would be useful in redirecting her attention when he needed a pause to think. It held everything provided by Clancy and the Facility. He’d read it over so many times he knew all the relevant facts without checking.

The picture on the screen was at the end of a short video clip. He had to admire the skill of the Director’s technical staff. The audio was clear, easy to understand, and the camera was at a good angle to capture her facial expression and body language. That particular video was taken in the dining room, showing an unguarded moment between her and some of her friends at the Facility. He tapped the play button one last time.

It started with a comment from one of the other women seated at her table. “I had this wonderful dream last night. My new master was one of those internet billionaires. We traveled all over the world in our private jet, attending exclusive parties, going to the famous film festivals, vacationing on our yacht in the Mediterranean. He was so nice to me, bought me anything I asked for, and never punished me.”

Another woman spoke up, “Well, dream on. There are only a handful of men like that in the entire world, and I don’t see any of them bothering to visit the Facility.”

He hit the pause button. The next part had captured his interest the first time he saw it. It was Jamie’s answer to her table companions. If she was sincere, and he had no reason to believe it was staged, then maybe the Director was right in asking him to visit. He hit the play button to continue.

Jamie shook her head. “I wouldn’t want someone like that as a master. He’d be too busy to spend much time with me. How would I serve him if he doesn’t tell me what he wants? And not punish? What if I did something wrong? Would he just ignore it? That’s not right. I need to know he cares enough to correct me. We are taught to obey our owners, no matter what he asks, but what’s the point if he doesn’t bother to enforce discipline?” Dave hit the stop button.

For a casual conversation she had been surprisingly forceful in her reply. Later on today he would attempt to discover how honest she had been. Along with the folder he dropped the tablet into the carrying case and slung the strap over his shoulder. He’d already packed the other items last night, in anticipation of today’s interview. Outside the window he saw a car pull up. The driver was a few minutes early, as he expected given the Facility’s reputation.

He stared at his reflection in the mirror. On impulse he held up a hand, palm down and level. No shaking, no worry, no jittery nerves, and most of all no doubts. He’d debated this moment with himself all week. The decision was made based on the best information at hand. Now it was time to act. Whether the results after today turned out to be a good or bad choice there would be no second guesses, no wishful speculation about what might have been.

There would be no altruistic pretense either. He knew exactly what he wanted. His motives were self-centered, something he’d readily admit if asked. If she were really the type of woman he saw in her records she’d instinctively know what drove him. She’d also realize the pair of them could very well be an ideal match. If all went well he’d know the answer to that question by the end of the day.

The Last Breakfast

In the dining room Jamie took her breakfast tray to an empty table. Before sitting down she looked over at Mr. Lee, one of the Facility staff. This morning he was supervising the dining room. When he saw her he nodded, giving her permission to sit at her table.

That was another privilege she had worked for, being allowed to seat herself at meal times. Normally she’d sit with someone she knew but this morning she felt the need to be free of distraction while considering those parting words from morning inspection. What would it be like, when she left the Facility? Can I really uphold those high principles, the way Mrs. Yates does so well? That particular question kept coming back to her. Up to now she hadn’t thought much about when she would leave what had become a second home. The lecture this morning forced her to give some serious thought to her future.

The twin black demons of uncertainty and doubt swirled around in her head; the uncertainty of what her future master would expect from her, and worst of all doubt she could please him. The first few days after her arrival at the Facility those demons had been her constant companions. After all, she had been abandoned; convincing proof her fears were all too real. Thanks to the Facility and her training she had the self-confidence to keep the demon of doubt at bay, but uncertainty still lingered. For that she had to trust in the Director, hoping he would find the right man for her.

She knew living at the Facility was never intended to be permanent, other than for a handful of women on the staff. Jamie had seen the others come and go during her stay. Sooner or later it would be her turn to move on. Idly she thought about why it hadn’t happened already. After the talk from Mrs. Yates she considered the possibility she was being held back deliberately, no doubt due to her own flaws. Again and again she came around to the one problem she couldn’t answer. Do I really have the ability, the determination, to be a man’s property, to do with me as he pleased?

There was only one way for any of them to leave the Facility. She knew from the very first day that it would be the Director who chose someone for her. What kind of man would he find to be her master? Mrs. Yates was right; from then on she would answer only to him. And to myself, she realized, underlining Mrs. Yates point. There wouldn’t be anyone checking on her every move, constantly watching and inspecting, looking for those small imperfections, except for her owner. Jamie would have to become her own worst critic, judging her behavior with the same intolerant eye for mistakes as Mrs. Yates.

Her master would be the one to dictate her rules, define her limits, and lay out her path in life, as Mrs. Yates put it. At that point there wouldn’t be any uncertainties remaining, good or bad. But he wouldn’t be there every minute of the day. She would have to do her part to follow his lead, to stay focused and not stray from the life he envisioned for her.

Preoccupied with her future she didn’t notice when one of the staff, Mr. Owens, walked up behind her table. As soon as she saw the shadow cross her table and recognized who it was from a glance over her shoulder Jamie sat up straight, hands in her lap. Was she in trouble again? Or had Mrs. Yates decided to turn her in for punishment after all?

“Stand up, Jamie.” He ordered. Quickly she pushed back her chair, stood up, and turned to face him. No uncertainty now; her lack of attention at inspection had earned her a reprimand, or worse. Mrs. Yates must have reported her. When he took hold of her upper arm she was certain it was to take her away for punishment. Would she lose the room?

“Come with me. No talking.” The blank expression on his face, and his monotone speech, only added to her growing dread. Since he had come for her the penalty wouldn’t be something as simple as cleaning floors. No, when one of them was taken away like this it meant real trouble, with something extremely unpleasant as the consequence.

Her tray was still on the table. If she wasn’t even allowed to clean up it had to be serious. That question was answered when Mr. Owens pointed to a woman at a nearby table, a new arrival. “You will clear Jamie’s table after you finish eating. I don’t want you to hurry. You will finish eating first, clean your own table, and then come back for her tray. Is that clear?”

“Yes, Mr. Owens,” the young woman answered nervously. There was a time Jamie would have been just as apprehensive when one of the staff ordered her to do something. These days it came easy, almost a reflex, but it didn’t lessen her anxiety as to what was to happen next. Hand firmly gripping her upper arm he guided her toward the exit.

She felt the eyes of the others in the dining room, staring at her as she was led away. They all knew what it meant. She was in trouble, bad trouble. She’d seen it herself, when some other unfortunate was taken away. Her reaction was usually one of sympathy, mixed in with some disapproval at being disobedient. She saw that same look of disapproval in several of the women as she passed them heading toward the door.

In the hallway her first surprise came when he turned away from the stairs. Wherever he was taking her it wasn’t down to the basement, which was a relief of sorts. All of them were afraid of going down those stairs, because they knew what was waiting at the bottom. But this time he opened a door into a wing of the building she had never visited before. It had always been strictly off limits. Jamie had no idea what to expect.

Past the plain looking door the décor turned into something that looked like a hotel lobby, complete with a reception desk to one side. She could see daylight from the windows. Mr. Owens stopped at the desk. “Stand here, face forward, don’t turn around and keep quiet.”

Jamie stared at a painting hanging on the wall behind the counter. It was a fanciful rendition of someone’s idea of the Island’s first landing, showing an old style galleon anchored in the bay. Hands at her side she stood still, not moving, trying to see to either side without turning her head, but other than the picture all she saw was some wood paneling. She heard Mr. Owens talking to someone behind the desk in low tones. She heard “room number three” but that was about all.

Once again he took hold of her arm. “Follow me,” he ordered. He took her over to a sofa facing the windows. “Sit down.” Confused, Jamie sat on the couch, hands in her lap, both feet on the floor. She looked up at him. “I want you to stay here until I come for you. You will sit in position, in silence, but you may look around. It could be a while, so you have permission to use the restroom,” he pointed at a marked door, “if you need it. Otherwise, stay right where you are. Is that clear?”

“Yes, sir,” she replied. The moment she spoke he turned around and walked off.

The room offered little of interest, so she turned her attention to the view out the window. This must be the rear of the building since it didn’t face the shore, and there was no road. When she noticed the man at the desk watching her, in a reflection off the window, she straightened up slightly. Whatever was going on it must be important. She didn’t want to be caught slouching.

Without a watch and of course no clock on the wall Jamie had no idea how long she waited before Mr. Owens reappeared. “Stand up,” he ordered. She immediately came to her feet and faced him. He took hold of her left arm, above the elbow. “This way,” he ordered. Pushing her forward he led her around a corner to a hallway lined with doors. They stopped at the door marked with a number three in polished brass. He knocked.


Clancy Yates met him at the entrance when Dave Greer got out of the car. “We’re ready for you, Dave. Jamie’s in the waiting room. Are you sure you don’t want her restrained? We can move her to a small staging cell we use for interviews like this. Half an hour in there does wonders for her state of mind.”

“Thanks, Clancy, but I don’t think it’ll be needed today.” He had considered the “solitary confinement” option before meeting her. It was tempting but it didn’t fit with his agenda for the interview.

“We reserved room number three for you, all day. It’s furnished according to your request, nothing but a desk for you and a chair for her.” The Director pointed to the left as they entered. “It’s down this hallway. If you need anything else you can call my number, or ask at the reception desk.”

Dave replied, “At the end of the interview, what number should I call?”

“My number is in the drawer with the phone. You can stop at any time. If you believe she is being uncooperative or evasive, let me know immediately. Otherwise, you have the room to yourself. If you need something for lunch the dining room can make up a couple of trays.” Clancy took out a keyring from his pocket. “The interview area is normally off limits to trainees, so we keep the door locked on this side.” He used a key to open an unmarked door.

Inside was a hallway with several numbered doors. At the end of the hallway was another door marked ‘Exit’. “Here’s number three. You can set up first. When you’re ready we’ll bring in Jamie.” He opened the door to the room.

Dave looked toward the exit at the far end. “And where is she now? Does she know about the interview?”

Clancy shook his head. “No, she has no idea of what’s about to happen. We pulled her out of breakfast without an explanation. She’s been in the waiting room beyond that door, for, oh…” he glanced at his phone, “about an hour. There’s someone at the reception desk watching her.”

“Good, that’s exactly what I’m looking for.” Dave had planned this initial meeting carefully. It was essential she did not know of it in advance. A quick look at the room confirmed it was exactly what he wanted. “Give me five minutes and then bring her in. I think that covers everything.”

Clancy held out his hand. “I hope this works out for the both of you. Especially for her sake, because I don’t have any other options open for her. But if you don’t think it’ll happen don’t hesitate to tell me.” The two men shook hands before the Director left, heading toward the door they had come in.

Dave sat down in the chair behind the desk. Her chair was a little too close. He got up and moved it back, so he could better see her. Satisfied, he opened his tablet case and took out the computer, placing it in front of him on the top of the desk. Opening a desk drawer he saw a house phone inside. That wouldn’t do, so he tried a drawer on the other side. This one was empty. He opened the other flap on his carrying case and took out the items inside, carefully arranging them so they wouldn’t make any noise when he opened the drawer later.

Dave took one last look around to make sure everything was in place, He took a deep breath, closed his eyes for a second, and cleared his mind of all doubts. With a clear conscience and the determination to make this a success he opened the drawer and picked up the phone.

When the lobby answered he was ready. “Would you send Jamie in now?”

It Begins

“Come in, sit here.” From the doorway she saw the stranger standing behind a plain, armless wooden chair in the middle of the room. Cautiously Jamie entered and walked to the chair. Behind her Mr. Owens closed the door. Sitting down she gathered her skirt from the sides before straightening the hem, placing her hands in her lap, left crossed over right. Knees together, both feet on the floor, back straight, head high, she ran through the list from the months of practice. Satisfied she had it right she looked up at him, uncertain what he wanted next.

“Face forward.” Dave gestured toward the desk. Jamie turned her head, looking straight ahead at the empty chair. He hadn’t given her permission to speak; it was best to wait until he said something.

He stood behind her, studying how she was seated in the chair. Very precise, no doubt it came from her stay at the Facility. He had read through the briefing provided on the various aspects of her training, but seeing it in person gave him a new appreciation for her skills. She was in an unfamiliar situation, without clear guidelines. On her own she had chosen to rely on what she had been taught. It was exactly what he hoped to see.

Satisfied, he walked around her to the desk and pulled out his chair. When he sat down Jamie stared directly at him. Not in a defiant way, but with confidence. He didn’t speak at first; he knew she would wait for him to start. Looking her over from the front he noticed the small details. Her hands were crossed at right angles, carefully centered in her lap. Her uniform was clean and neat in appearance, skirt ending just above her knees, sleeveless blouse carefully tucked in at the waist. Conservatively dressed, but overall she presented herself as a very pleasant picture. Naturally that would be a given from a Facility trainee.

She didn’t flinch at his appraising stare, despite the obvious sexual nature. One more item he approved of, she didn’t try to hide or deny her physical attraction. “Well done, it appears you are thorough in applying your training.” She would need some reassurance from him, to show his approval.

“Thank you, sir.” It was a simple compliment, but to Jamie it was a relief to know she made a good first impression. She felt safe in answering but didn’t elaborate. He’d stop her if it wasn’t what he desired. She wasn’t quite sure what was happening since no one had taken the time to explain why she had been brought to this room. There was one possible explanation but she didn’t want to get her hopes up.

Dave’s plan for the interview was to begin with a few simple questions, to put her at ease. “You were brought here at my request. My intention is that we use this time to learn something about each other. You were given permission by the Facility staff to cooperate?” He knew the answer. The interesting part was how she would phrase her reply.

That was all the information she had been given. Out in the corridor, just before opening the door Mr. Owens, her escort, had ordered her to obey the man in this room, regardless of what he asked. “That’s correct, sir. You are in charge.” The unfamiliar circumstances made Jamie anxious. She had to trust the Director knew what was best.

“Good, I don’t want any confusion on that point. Now then, you will continue to follow all Facility rules during this interview.” He held up the tablet sitting on the desk. “I see you have completed an extensive program here. I expect to see what you have learned. There are to be no errors, no excuses.”

“I understand, sir.” Jamie knew exactly what he meant. Zero tolerance, she had to get it right the first time, every time. All those hours of classes, the constant lectures and practice, reprimands for the most insignificant of omissions, this was the moment she must prove the time and effort had not been wasted. It was clear to her this man was effectively sitting in judgment over her, expecting her to prove to his satisfaction she met the rigorous standards of the Facility.

He tapped the tablet screen, scrolling through her records. “Your name is Jamie?” he asked. Of course he knew all about her, at least all the information obtained from Island records, from the Facility and a few miscellaneous items from a recent background check. Still, it paid to double check the obvious now and then. And there was always the occasional insight into her thinking by the way she answered.

“Yes, sir, I am permitted to use that name.” She didn’t look away when she replied. A show of confidence mixed with the recognition that even her name was subject to someone else’s approval. He recognized Facility training in play, the way the women were taught to submit with pride. It was an honest answer, along with a small embellishment. Was Jamie showing off, to impress him? Perhaps so, he told himself, but it was a clever way to establish her deference to authority.

“You must be curious as to why you’re here, and who I am?” He held up a hand before she could answer. “Sorry, that was rhetorical. I’ll explain. I’ve come to visit the Facility today at the request of the Director. You’ve been brought in because the Director believes we might be suitable for each other. For the next few hours we’ll discover if he’s right.” Dave leaned forward, hands on the desk. “It might interest you to know I’m not the usual type of candidate for the Facility’s matchmaking efforts. In fact, I’m told my presence here required a significant change in policy. I’ll explain that a little later. For now I’d like to find out more about you.”

It took all of Jamie’s willpower to keep her composure at the shock of facing the man who might own her by the end of the day. Mrs. Yates must have known, which explained why the morning inspection went so well. Her little lecture now made sense.

She did manage to force herself to hold still. He was scrutinizing every move she made. No matter what, Jamie told herself, I have to get this right. There was no Mrs. Yates to correct her now; she was on her own and the outcome of the interview depended entirely on how she behaved.

“You moved to the Island voluntarily, or so it says in your records.” He pointed to the tablet in his hand. “In hindsight, did you really understand the consequences of coming here? Take your time if you need to organize your answer, but I expect you to focus on the question. You may respond at length if you think some background context would help.”

He knew there were several avenues open to those who arrived on the Island, including involuntary abduction, a controversial practice but permitted within the scope of Island law if there were special circumstances. There were degrees of “voluntary” as well. The question and his instructions would allow her some leeway in explaining the reasons behind why she was here now. From what he’d read her initial arrival was her own choice, though her decision might not have been well-informed. What concerned him more was the possibility of outside pressure on her to remain when she could have left.

He had read the factual details, how she had been abandoned, and the aftermath when she had been transferred to the Facility. Her decision to stay instead of returning to California had stripped her of her freedom, for the rest of her life if she remained on the Island. What he hoped to discover was the motivation behind her willingness to hand over her future to strangers.

Since he had given her some time to consider her reply, Jamie thought about the implications behind his question. He had to know about her disastrous first year on the Island; the Facility would have provided him with the details. It was still a painful memory but time had given her some perspective on the events. “When I first learned about the Island, sir,” she began, “it appealed to me at an emotional level. I have always been attracted to dominant men, men who are accustomed to leadership, who don’t apologize when they tell me what to do,” she paused. “Or correct me when necessary,” she added.

“The Island felt right, a place where I could easily fit in, to be myself. Did I think about the consequences? No, not so much. I wasn’t concerned about what might happen. I trusted Joe, he was the man I lived with, to handle the details. If he thought it was best for us that was all I needed to know.”

Jamie stopped, unsure if she was talking too much. “Should I continue, sir?” A nod of the head signaled his approval. “From the moment we arrived I knew I had found my home. I admit I hadn’t paid much attention to the restrictions. For the most part I didn’t mind. A few were difficult to follow, especially the curfew at night and not leaving the house without permission, but I adjusted. I have always believed my place is to follow the rules, not make them. I tried to be the woman Joe wanted, always making sure I asked for his permission whenever it was needed, staying within the limits he set, encouraging him to be in charge and make the decisions for both of us. Before long it became automatic, a habit, something I did without thinking about it. My new life was everything I hoped for.”

While she spoke she studied his facial expression, his body language, trying to gauge how he was reacting to her explanation. She needed to be at her best to answer his questions, without boring him. Her intuition told her he was listening and interested in what she had to say. Jamie continued. “Then Joe left on a business trip, or so he told me. He never returned. The day that letter arrived from him my perfect world came crashing down. I had no idea he wanted out of our relationship. I’m sure there were signs, but I was blind to them. If only he had said something…”

She had to stop. To this day Jamie still blamed herself for driving him away. Despite all the assurances from counselors that it wasn’t her fault at some level she couldn’t accept their explanations. She had failed him, in such a profound way he didn’t want to be near her. She lowered her head in shame, closing her eyes. Jamie was sure the man in front of her would reject her in disgust. She wanted to jump out of the chair and run away, to hide from the world. But that wasn’t possible; she had to remain in the chair until he gave her permission to stand. His instructions had been clear and specific; she couldn’t disobey.

Dave gave her time to regain her composure. Considering the emotions she must be experiencing, reliving that traumatic moment, it was best to let her calm down on her own. Far from being disgusted he believed this Joe fellow must have been an idiot to throw away a woman like Jamie. Her file mentioned him only in brief, unflattering terms, ending in his banishment from any further contact with the Island community.

Jamie quickly came back to the present. Her head snapped up, once again meeting his eyes. With all her willpower she held back the tears before they started to flow. She had lowered her head without permission, another slip. It was time for damage control. “I apologize for breaking position, sir. I offer no excuse, nor do I expect you to be lenient…”

He interrupted to halt her confession. “I understand the emotional difficulty in discussing these events. You need not apologize, but I don’t want it to happen again. Do you have anything else to add?”

He was impressed with the way she immediately admitted an infraction while under considerable stress, and without him mentioning it first. He had always placed great importance, perhaps too much, on adherence to rules. There were times exceptions were necessary, but even then he did not believe in ignoring the reasons for disobedience, no matter if it were justified or unavoidable. Lax discipline on his part would be every bit as destructive as defiance from her. In this case he felt the best course was to acknowledge her mistake but also let her know he had made a deliberate allowance due to the circumstances.

Jamie revised her opinion of the man in front of her. He appeared to be strict in enforcing obedience, but he wasn’t inflexible. He didn’t ask for the impossible, but she could sense from the tone of his voice he would not be easily swayed. “If I may, sir, I would like to add, coming to the Facility helped me recover. Even though I was in shock I did recognize that being admitted to the program was a lifetime commitment. The first option, staying on the Island and working for a company meant some loss of freedom, in that I couldn’t leave on my own if I accepted an apprentice position. I would still have a say in my future, but it would be limited. That offer didn’t appeal to me, sir. In a way it felt like a halfway measure, sort of running in place.”

Jamie continued, “The other option put to me was leaving the Island, but I never considered it as a serious alternative. This is where I belong. In order to stay I was offered one last choice, enrolling at the Facility.” It seemed like ancient history now, but she still remembered that fateful day.

“It was made clear to me if I applied and was accepted I would eventually become a man’s property, his personal possession, with no rights and no recourse if I did not agree with the Facility’s choice regarding my owner. Frankly, sir, that last part scares me, but I still believe it is the best option for me. I chose this place with eyes open. If I were allowed a ‘do over’, a chance to just walk out, I would still be sitting here now.” Of all the choices offered her, the Facility was the only one that really appealed to Jamie. It wasn’t ideal; she knew she was essentially gambling her life on the good intentions of people she didn’t know, but she sincerely believed it was the only hope she had to regain the life she had lost.

He moved on to his next question. “Tell me something about how you see yourself, after leaving the Facility. What would be a typical day for you on South Island?” He leaned back in his chair, arms folded. He had deliberately made the question vague, without any details. If his estimate of her personality was accurate she’d have difficulty answering.

Jamie wasn’t prepared for that particular question. How to answer him? “To be honest, sir, I haven’t thought about it. I presume my master will plan my day, or at the least explain what he expected from me. There would be tasks that I have to complete, whatever I’m assigned. Those would come first. If I have some time for myself then I might read, watch some TV, or work at a hobby. If I have permission to talk to friends, or leave the house, I could arrange a visit or do some shopping. I’m sorry, sir; that’s not a good answer.”

He held up a hand, telling her to stop. It was what he expected. Next he wanted to see how she answered the alternative question. “I think I understand what you mean. Now, let’s be more specific. If I were to say that you were responsible for the housekeeping, but not more than four hours per day; that you were allowed to contact friends, but only in the afternoon; and that you were permitted to drive into town and go shopping, alone or with someone you invited along, two days a week; and that I would be pleased if you learned some Spanish, how would that affect your answer?”

Framed that way the question was easy to answer for Jamie. “I’d have a set schedule, sir. I would reserve mornings for the house work. After lunch I’d check in with friends on the computer, maybe arrange for a trip to town the next day. On the days at home I’d set aside an hour a day to study Spanish, along with watching some of those soap operas on Spanish language TV.” Her mind was already racing through ways to organize how she would plan the day. She went on, in more and more detail.

He studied her face while she answered. The change was obvious between the two answers. With guidelines in place she was animated, confident and detailed in her response. Without that guidance she stumbled, unsure what she should do. It was precisely what he hoped for. He would enjoy planning her day.

“You should know I am what you might call a ‘control freak’. There is my way, and there is the wrong way.” He grinned. “Even if my way doesn’t work out, if it’s obviously so flawed only an idiot could think of it, well, it’s still the right way.”

She started to laugh, and then quickly raised a hand to cover it up. “I’m sorry, sir, but I’ve never heard it phrased so, umm,” she had to think fast for a tactful word, “bluntly before.” Considering the Island was full of control freaks his revelation was about as shocking as discovering the sun rose in the east.

Dave continued, “I make no pretense at being perfect. My point is you’ll have to live with the times I get it wrong. What I do want to stress is that I know exactly what I want from you. I’ve given this quite a bit of thought. So that it is consistent I’ve written down what I call the framework, my guidelines to govern your everyday behavior. We’ll go over them later, to make sure you have a clear picture of exactly what I expect. You should also know I take this framework, this set of rules very seriously. They will be strictly enforced, no excuses accepted, no laziness tolerated, none of that letter of the law instead of the spirit behind it.” He hesitated, stood up and leaned over the desk, staring at Jamie intently. “Punishment will be swift, certain and severe if the framework is ignored.” He sat back down in his chair.

The instant change in his demeanor, his tone of voice, gave Jamie insight into at least one more part of this man’s personality. Mrs. Yates’ words to her this morning could not have been more prophetic. Here was a man who expected her to walk a path so straight and narrow it resembled a tightrope across the Grand Canyon. She wanted to learn more about his framework, as he called it, but something told her not to ask. If he chose her she would be bound by those rules, whatever they were. Knowing them in advance wouldn’t make any difference. Then she realized what he was asking.

“Sir, I don’t know exactly what is in this framework, but I can tell you I will do everything in my power to live within it. I have a need to be guided, to be dominated, as the cliché goes. If I may, sir, I’m not overly worried about you being right or wrong. What does concern me is consistency. The fact that you take the time to carefully lay out a structure, and most of all write it down, that impresses me. The effort you put into your rules tells me you are thoughtful and take the time to consider the outcome of what you will ask, no, demand from me. I will obey you to the best of my physical and mental abilities, and I would expect you to take the steps necessary to ensure I meet all your demands.” She quickly weighed whether to add one last comment.

“And sir? I will do so even if I think they are the most outrageous, silly, reckless, selfish, perverted or idiotic tasks I’ve ever been forced to undertake.” It might be over the line but if her impression of the man in front of her was right he’d accept the comment as humorous rather than disrespectful.

It was his turn to laugh. “Touché! I’ll admit I have no monopoly on wisdom. I can promise you a fair share of foolish will creep in. And some perverted too, that sounds like fun.” He stopped for a moment, lost in thought. “To be clear, even if it is idiotic you will follow my commands. Do you have a problem with that?”

That particular situation Jamie had considered many a night before falling asleep. “Oh no, sir. Foolish or brilliant, you always have the final word. I hope you will let me speak up, if only to check on the consequences and more importantly I understand precisely what you want. But whatever it may be I swear you can rely on me. I’ve thought about this for some time, sir. It isn’t a game. It is the reason I’m here now. If I wear a man’s collar I can do no less, whatever I may think of him or what he asks of me.”

Policy Departure

“Now, I mentioned my being here is a departure from Facility policy. I’m regarded as something of an extremist. No one was more surprised than me, a pariah with the staff, to be invited here to meet you. I’m sure it’s obvious to you that I’m one of those dominant men you mentioned. I like things done my way, which shouldn’t come as a shock to you. When it involves a relationship with that one, special woman, and I’ll add it will never be more than one, I will control every aspect of her life. I see our future as a partnership, but one where I make the decisions, and one where you rely on me to use discipline when needed.” Dave paused. “In many respects our relationship would be very one-sided.”

“I’m speechless, sir, to discover such a man here on the Island.” Jamie smiled. So far she hadn’t heard anything out of the ordinary. Anyone the Facility selected for her would meet that description.

He laughed. “Nothing unusual so far? Where I differ is in degree. You see, my intention will be to strip away every last shred of your independence. I will have physical control over you, obviously, but I won’t stop there. I am determined to get into your head, to seize mental control too. I will do whatever I believe necessary to accomplish that, regardless of your feelings.” He leaned forward, an intent expression on his face.

“What I’m after is for you to wake up one morning so dependent on me to tell you what to do, what to think, how to behave, that you can’t even imagine living on your own. You and I will be bound together so tightly,” he held up his hands, tightly clenched together, “that nothing will ever separate us.”

Jamie stared at the man talking to her. What he described was terrifying, but she felt something else too. His words touched on something deep within her soul. She tried to imagine what it would be like, to be totally reliant on one man, unable to live without him. One thought kept coming back to her. What would happen if he tired of me?

He must have anticipated that question. “When I say nothing will separate us, I mean for a lifetime. You are not the only one who will change. The more you depend on me, the closer we are drawn together. Give me what I want and I’ll never let you go. That, I can guarantee.”

They were the words Jamie longed for, but still she wavered. Is he only telling me what I want to hear? He appeared to be sincere, but he might also be an expert liar.

“I can guess what you’re thinking.” Dave knew she had no reason to trust him, or anything he told her. “I’ll ask you to think about this too. You know the Facility arrangement. It is my choice, and mine alone, whether or not you come home with me. I could pick up this phone right now, tell the Director I have decided to accept you, and from that moment on you belong to me. I don’t need your agreement. So when I tell you I’ll never let you go, I have no reason to lie.

Jamie didn’t answer immediately. She realized everything he said was true. “I’m sorry, sir. It’s just that, well, you understand I’ve heard promises before. Yes, I can see you have no apparent motive to try to trick me. I can tell you are a very different sort of man compared to my last master. Please, sir, will you continue?”

She so desperately yearned to believe what he promised. He did make a good point about not having to convince her of his good intentions, or tell her anything about what he intended. There was no negotiation involved in this interview. If he preferred he could simply claim her and that would be it. Jamie had the impression he was taking time during this interview to help her understand who and what he was, as if he were actually giving her the opportunity to decline.

The more she heard, the more her confidence in him grew. He made it clear that life with him would not be easy, but that wasn’t what Jamie sought. She wanted everything he described: his framework; his demands; even being held to account if she didn’t meet his standards.

An Opinion

For the next part of the interview Dave had brought an item now resting in the drawer in the desk. Opening it he took out a pair of heavy duty, high security handcuffs. Compared to common handcuffs these had an impressive look, with thicker cuffs reinforced to prevent prying open, and had better quality, pick resistant locks. They were intended for transporting dangerous, high risk prisoners, but suited his purpose just as well. He placed them in front of Jamie, on the desk.

“I’m sure you know what these are?” he asked. Of course she was familiar with restraints. They were used at the Facility, both for control and punishment. Part of their training included sessions where they were cuffed, sometimes for hours, so they understood how their movement was restricted. And the Facility also used some very nasty creations when punishment was needed to correct a serious offense. Like every woman at the Facility Jamie had spent time in the basement, locked in rigid body irons for many painful hours, the result of misbehaving.

Jamie studied the cuffs in front of her. Their function was obvious, though they appeared to be far more substantial than the ones she had previously worn. “Yes, sir, a pair of handcuffs.” She raised her head to face him. “I’ve never seen ones quite like those before.” She didn’t think it odd he owned a set since on the Island it was a common and very effective tool for controlling women. Women like me, she realized.

“I would like to hear your opinion on the use of restraints like these,” he nodded towards the cuffs. “No right or wrong answer, only your personal view, whatever it may be. Speak freely, even if you think it might be inappropriate.” The question had a dual purpose: first, to find out if she would open up and provide more than the usual rote response; and second, to discover how she felt about bondage, at the emotional level.

Jamie was unprepared for that particular question. Surprisingly she hadn’t thought much about it. “Well, sir, as you know I don’t have a choice when it comes to wearing those things.” She nodded toward the cuffs on the desk. “It is my master’s right to restrain me in any way he believes is appropriate. Legally I have no right to refuse, or resist. In any case, you are much larger and stronger than me. I doubt I could stop you from forcing them on me.” She was stating the obvious, a delaying tactic while she considered how to best respond to his question. The slight frown on his face told her it wasn’t what he was looking for.

“The truth is, sir, I look at it as a part of my life now. I admit when my hands are fastened behind my back, and my ankles are chained together, there isn’t much I can do by myself. Simple tasks become difficult. Isn’t that what handcuffs are supposed to do?”

He smiled. “That’s true.” She stopped as soon as he spoke. “Continue,” he ordered.

“Yes, sir. I can’t use my hands at all. Walking is slow and difficult, especially if I’m wearing heels. I’m sure you know about the evening curfew rules? I’m not allowed out on my own unless closely restrained and escorted by a man. That’s been most of my experience, sir, from when I was first collared here on the Island. When Joe took me out at night he always kept me in handcuffs and leg chains, with my hands behind my back.” Jamie thought back to those times.

“I can assure you, sir, the cuffs are a most effective tool for controlling someone. Joe had to help me get in and out of the car. I couldn’t even reach the seat belt. I felt off balance while walking, as if I was about to trip and fall. I couldn’t use my arms for balance. And I had to carefully watch my step so that I didn’t pull against the cuffs around my ankles. You may not be aware they cause bruising if the chain is constantly pulled tight while walking. He had to keep a hand on my arm at all times, to keep me steady. More than once he caught me when I tripped. It’s those leg irons, sir, I would forget and try to take a normal step, or the chain would snag on something.”

She stopped, wondering if she was on the right track to answer his question. Not quite, she sensed. “How do I feel about it? Is that your question, sir?” He nodded. “If I’m wearing chains, and I’m left alone, confined, I don’t like it at all. I’m helpless, with no one to depend on and watch over me. That’s often a form of punishment here at the Facility. I do my best to avoid it.”

He’d have to remember that little tidbit of information. “And if you are not alone?”

Jamie smiled. “That’s very different, sir. I’m excited by that helpless, vulnerable feeling. I suppose that’s in my nature, the need to submit, forced to obey. I can tell you, sir, it’s scary to hear the click of the handcuffs closing on my wrists, feeling the weight, touching the cold steel with my fingers, knowing there’s no way for me to get them off. Something happens, inside my head. I become obsessed, as though my very life depended on it, to please the man holding the keys.”

“I do have to add one more comment, sir. They are your tools to control me. I would expect you to use them as you see fit, often, without regard to my preference. Thing is though, they work too well. If it were up to me I’d never put them on.”

Dave laughed. “No, I suppose not. That answers my question. You did well.”

The next part of his plan was to take physical control by restricting her hands. The prelude involving some questions served its purpose in giving her time to anticipate his next move. How she handled it was crucial to his evaluation of her suitability. “In a moment I’m going to place these on your wrists, behind your back. You are not being punished, but if you resist I will use whatever force is required. Will that be necessary?”

Jamie looked at the handcuffs. “No, sir. Should I stand and put my hands behind my back now?” She was cooperative but it was still difficult to judge her reaction.

“Not yet; I’ll tell you when.” Not only did she accept his orders but she was actively working with him, another positive sign this was the one he was looking for. “For now keep your hands in your lap.” That last was unnecessary but she needed to know what he wanted. Given what to her must seem to be an uncertain situation she needed all the detailed instructions he could provide to guide her.

Dave stood up, picked up the handcuffs from the desk and slowly walked around behind her, studying her posture as he went. She didn’t move but he was sure she tried to follow him out of the corner of her eye. Behind her he stood quietly, letting the anticipation of what he intended grow in her mind.

Jamie didn’t move a muscle. She could feel him close behind her, handcuffs at the ready. She focused on the empty chair in front of her, waiting for him, worried she might do something wrong. She tensed at the sound of the ratchet when he opened one of the cuffs, but she didn’t move. When he ordered her to stand up she quickly rose, standing still with her arms at her side.

Dave reached around to take hold of her left wrist with his left hand, gently guiding it behind her back. He held it steady as he closed the cuff around her wrist, slowly counting the clicks of the ratchet. Jamie didn’t resist, letting her arm go limp while he held it. She could feel the grip of the steel bracelet encircling her wrist.

Taking the connecting chain in his left hand he pushed open the remaining cuff. When he reached for her right wrist again she did not resist. Once again he slowly closed the cuff around her wrist, counting the clicks as it tightened. Slipping a finger between her skin and the cuff, he checked to make sure the handcuffs weren’t too tight before engaging the double lock with the key. From her own experience she knew the double lock prevented the cuffs from further tightening and cutting off circulation. She could tell he did not let go of the chain. Closing her eyes Jamie concentrated on holding still, willing her hands and arms to relax so he could see she was offering no resistance.

Dave took a step back to inspect his work, allowing himself a moment of guilty pleasure at seeing a powerless female under his direct control. Perhaps it was some primitive instinct, protecting the damsel in distress, which made the sight so attractive. He took a moment to look her over from the back, knowing she now had to trust him to release her. Reluctantly he let go of the handcuffs and walked around to face her.

Quickly opening her eyes Jamie looked up at the man in front of her. Hidden behind her back she tested the handcuffs. They were locked on, and fitted too closely for her to slip out but not so tight they were painful. He knew what he was doing, which didn’t surprise her at all. When he reached out and put his hands on her bare shoulders her only thought was to do whatever he wished.

Suddenly he pulled her close. His hand was in her hair, pulling her head back. He kissed her, full on the lips, long and passionate. His other hand found its way to her breast, cupping it firmly. Jamie clenched her fists in frustration at not being able to throw her arms around him. She returned his forceful kiss while pressing her body against his hand.

As quickly as it began, the moment of passion ended. His hands were gripping her upper arms, holding her back. She didn’t want to stop but she was helpless in his grasp. “You are quite the temptation,” he whispered. Once again he pulled her close, this time reaching behind her with one hand to take hold of the handcuffs imprisoning her wrists, with his other hand in her hair. “The sight of you, locked in steel, my chains, it’s …” he trailed off, not finishing his thought.

“These,” he jerked on the cuffs, “will be your frequent companions. Understand they stay on until I choose to take them off. Don’t ever ask me to remove them. And if I ever catch you trying to escape from them you will be punished.” He yanked on the cuffs again while he pulled her head back. He was so close their noses almost touched.

“I will own you,” he growled in a low but determined voice. “Don’t ever defy me on this. There will be no show of reluctance, no hesitation, no complaints. When I order you to put your hands behind your back I will have your enthusiastic cooperation, no matter what the situation may be.”

He let go of her and stepped back. “Sit down, hands behind the back of the chair.” He steadied her with a hand on one arm when she sat down. She had to lean forward and hold her arms out behind her in order for her hands to clear the back of the chair. When he pointed to the desk she immediately faced his empty chair.

Reluctantly he went back to his chair and sat down. She hadn’t moved, staring straight ahead. Now that he had her in his power it would set a new tone for the rest of the interview. That was a critical point in his interview, gauging her adaptability while under the authority of a stranger.

Jamie studied the man in front of her while he picked up the tablet and scrolled through her file. She could now make a few educated guesses as to what type of man he was. The first clue was the weight of the handcuffs on her wrists. Out of sight, behind her back she explored the cuffs in greater detail with her fingers. Larger and heavier than the ones used at the Facility, plus the keyhole had an odd pattern to it. Even the connecting chain links were thicker than normal. They must be some kind of heavy duty model. That told her he was serious about restraining her. And the way he had checked afterwards was far from normal. He enjoyed it, which meant he wasn’t going to free her anytime soon. Though he’d caught her by surprise she felt the sexual attraction too. She was disappointed when he stopped.

Although vulnerable she wasn’t afraid. He was an unknown, and difficult to read given the short amount of time in the room together. Even so she could sense he wasn’t cruel. He wasn’t going to beat her or torture her in some hideous way. No, she was bound simply because that’s what he found appealing. Jamie admired him for his forthright, unapologetic manner. This was the type of man who excited her. If he wanted something from her, then he would do whatever was necessary to make sure she delivered. The way he had suddenly overpowered her, kissing and fondling her breast once she was unable to resist, that was a man who did not hesitate to take what he wanted. It was also the type of man Jamie dreamed of. She relaxed, content to wait for him, and curious as to what he might do next.

He was watching her intently. She waited, ready for his next question, but he didn’t resume immediately. If it was another test of patience she had no problem in passing. She did not look away, instead meeting his stare with her head held high. Her training served her well; she knew not to flinch when a man looked at her in an appraising way. If he found her attractive she didn’t object; and if he didn’t there wasn’t much she could do about it.

The Stakes

Jamie’s answers satisfied one of his major concerns. She wasn’t the starry-eyed idealist who first walked off the boat onto the Island. He wasn’t looking for someone who wanted to live in a fantasy world. It was time to move on to the next stage in the interview. Dave cleared the tablet screen before setting it down on the desk.

Opening the drawer in the desk he took out a polished metal collar and placed it on top of the desk, directly in front of her. Her eyes widened at the sight of the gleaming, brass-tinged oval but she said nothing. “You know what this is. At the end of the interview either we will part ways, or you leave with me, wearing this.” He put a hand on the collar. “I checked. It will fit around your neck with just a bit of room to spare so it’s not too tight.” He unlocked it with a key and held it up for her to see. “As you well know, once it goes on it will not come off. You will belong to me for the rest of your life. And have no doubt it will be a lifetime. I keep what I own.”

Jamie was fascinated by the collar in his hand. It had a yellowish sheen but she knew it didn’t come from gold plating. The color came from titanium alloy, or so she’d been told. Light in weight, stronger than steel, fitted with a high security lock, it was very difficult to remove without the key. The distinctive finish wasn’t mandatory, or used very often since that particular color and material was reserved for lifetime commitments. She’d never seen one close up, by itself and not around a woman’s neck. The brassy tinge was significant; it advertised to everyone the woman wearing such a collar permanently belonged in the most literal sense to a man. Mrs. Yates wore one very much like it. What held her attention was the fact it was unlocked, and by the end of the day she could be the one walking out of the Facility with it around her throat.

He put the collar down on the desk, but left it lying unlocked. It was symbolic of the open question between them, of whether or not he would select her. The stakes were clear. “From this point on I’m going to trust you to answer me honestly without being misleading.” He leaned back in the chair. “If you don’t want that collar you don’t have to sabotage the rest of the interview. Tell me now if you don’t think it will work out between us. Obviously your opinion will influence my decision but it will not end the interview, nor will it guarantee a particular outcome. Either way I expect your cooperation today. You may speak.”

Now she surmised he wasn’t a man prone to subtlety either. She couldn’t refuse him outright; that option vanished the day she arrived at the Facility. If he so desired he could haul her off kicking and screaming, slung over his shoulder. Except she was sure he was the type of man who would come prepared to make sure she couldn’t kick or scream, if that’s what he intended to do.

Her best course was to respond in kind. “May I speak candidly, sir?” He nodded. “I know nothing about you. I don’t think you are some psychotic monster; I trust the Facility wouldn’t let you anywhere near me if that were the case. At this moment my impression of you is that of a man who is confident in his abilities, a man who knows exactly what he wants and will do whatever is necessary to achieve his goals. I can’t deny I am fascinated by that sort of man.” Jamie paused for a moment. She had an idea to test his personality without exceeding what she thought would be acceptable. It did risk provoking him.

“I’m not afraid of you.” She paused for a moment. “I’m sorry sir, that’s not quite right. Not exactly scared, but I am wary. I don’t know you, but I don’t think you are cruel or mean. I do believe you will not hesitate to force me if you think it necessary, to obey you; or punish me when you believe it’s needed.”

He held up his hand the moment he realized what she was doing. Jamie halted immediately. He pushed away the tablet on the desk. The facts in her file weren’t important now. The woman in the chair was far more intelligent than he realized. She had neatly, and in a very subtle way, turned the tables on him. Her reason for wariness was a test of sorts. If he responded in anger, or even tried to defend his right to punish her, it would be a tacit admission of insecurity, a lack of confidence on his part.

“My compliments, I’m impressed with the way you choose your words. No, I will not make any apologies for how I would treat you. I can assure you disciplinary action will not be arbitrary; but forcing you, that will be at my discretion. You will discover I like to make you do things you are eager to do on your own. I use force because I can, and you can’t stop me. Does that answer your skillfully concealed question?”

It was her turn to be surprised. He had seen right through her carefully crafted reply within seconds. “Yes, sir. I’m sorry if I was out of line.” She looked at him with a different perspective. This was a type of man she hadn’t encountered before. He made it plain he could not be easily influenced. Any attempt on her part to negotiate with him would be a futile exercise. He was smart; he’d see right through any efforts on her part to manipulate him.

Unity of Purpose

“It’s true you don’t know me. That is intentional, part of how I will manage you. I can tell you I will restrict your access to the news, to other people, to any kind of information. I will do this deliberately, as a way to isolate you. I will require you…” he paused.

“Seems odd to say this, but would you cooperate with me to keep you insulated from the outside world? Will you work, as you’ve never done before, to become totally dependent on me? It’s easy enough to be passive, only react to what I ask of you. I need more, for you to be at my side, an active partner, contributing ideas, and showing me where I can improve, pointing out details I missed. Can you do this?”

The Facility was a secluded location, on a smaller island that was otherwise uninhabited. There were no neighbors. None of the trainees were allowed Internet or phone access. Television, newspapers, magazines, books and regular mail were heavily censored. The conversations she had with her fellow trainees were subject to numerous restrictions. All she knew of the outside world were the few items passed on to them by the review committee. From what she had overheard the female staff members were subject to the same regulations. She had seen for herself that even Mrs. Yates, despite being the Director’s wife, wasn’t exempt. Jamie knew all too well restricting information, being isolated from outside society, was an extremely effective tool.

At first she resented the censorship. Even Joe, for all his faults, had never forbidden access to outside contacts or other people. After being at the Facility for so many months she had learned to accept it as one more way the Director and his staff took care of the women under his supervision. Jamie’s initial resentment had given way to gradual if reluctant acceptance. Her cooperation wasn’t necessary; the Facility was meticulous in that respect. This man though, he was asking for something more than simple acceptance of the status quo.

“Sir, I am already subject to a very similar situation here at the Facility, as you may know. I have no choice in the matter, and no means to bypass the restrictions imposed on us. I’m not sure what you mean by my active cooperation?” To Jamie this was a simple case of forcing her to obey. Like the Facility, if he restricted the means then there wasn’t much she could do to get around it.

He considered the way she answered. True, he knew the Facility policy. What he had in mind went beyond her experience. Was she dodging the question? Maybe not, she was thinking only in terms of her current situation.

“I’ll explain.” That was to let her know her question was reasonable. “Outside the Facility you will have opportunities to find ways around my boundaries. I want you to work with me to ensure that doesn’t happen. You do not open emails, or even check your email accounts, until I read and approve them first. You do not talk to anyone else, in person, on the phone, text or social media, until you receive permission. You visit websites after asking me to review them beforehand. You watch only the TV shows and movies I approve. You submit books and magazines to me for approval before reading them. In effect you do your best to keep me between you and the rest of the world. It’s an honor system; I trust you to keep to both the letter and spirit of the law, and in the event you might go beyond the limits you tell me immediately.” He held up a hand to keep Jamie silent until he finished.

“There’s more to it. You must depend on me for everything. This is essential. The food you eat, the roof over your head, the clothes you wear, all of it has to be provided by me. Your daily activities will be dictated by my demands on your time. From the moment you wake up to the last moment before you fall asleep you must constantly ask yourself, do I have permission for this? It must become ingrained in your mind, more than just a habit, so much that it becomes an integral and essential part of your daily life.”

Once again Dave held up his hands clasped together. “I like to call it a unity of purpose: you and I, working closely together to reach a common goal. I decide what that goal will be, that’s my job. But you will be the one who makes it a success. I can’t do it alone, without you there next to me. Can you do that, for me and for yourself?”

He didn’t want much, Jamie thought to herself, just total control over every facet of my life, with me acting as both prisoner and jailer. How many nights had she laid in bed, thinking over just that kind of question? It wasn’t a matter of if; she had passed that point the moment she decided to join the Facility. The one certainty in her life now was that she would forever more belong to a man, someone who would prove himself to be her master, even if she grew to hate him. The real question was the degree of her submission. This man pushed the definition of commitment far beyond anything she had anticipated.

In retrospect, if she had known what to look for she’d never have come to the Island with Joe. Now that she knew the signs it was obvious he couldn’t handle that level of responsibility, but at the time all she could see was an idyllic life with Island residents who shared a common outlook on life. Joe was gone, but those other people were still here. This man, she didn’t even know his name, might very well be the one to restore her vision of paradise. He certainly knew exactly what he wanted, and wasn’t reluctant to claim it from her. The answer to his question was obvious to her. She took a deep breath.

“Sir, if you place that collar on my neck it is my duty to obey you in every respect, no matter what you ask of me. I was prepared for that day since I first came here to the Facility. Your question tells me you realize there’s more to it than the simple act of submission. At night I lie in bed, hoping for the day when that certain someone will come for me. Not a Prince Charming, but a man who will dominate my life. A man I can trust, a man I can depend on. And most of all I long for a man who meets his obligations to me, to be a strong, uncompromising master.

“On my honor, sir, you will have my willing and enthusiastic cooperation. Yes, I will be at your side, offering my perspective, doing whatever I can to reach our common goal, as you call it. I’d be ashamed to look at myself in the mirror if I offered less. I will do everything within my abilities, with your direction, to be exactly what you ask for. I cannot expect you to take responsibility for me and then offer nothing in return.

“There’s a poker expression, sir,” Jamie continued. “All in, bet your last dollar on the cards. I’ve made my choice, my last choice, and now I’m all in with a hole card I’ve never seen. If you choose to accept me I hope we will be happy together. Whatever the future holds, you will be my master. If you think it best to sequester me from the rest of the world, I promise you I will do whatever I can to keep you between me and that world.”

He leaned forward, arms down on the desk top. After all the years searching, this could finally be the woman for him.

At an End

“May I keep going, sir?” This was going to be risky. If she had misjudged this man she would be in serious trouble. Even if he rejected her he might complain to the Director, and she would have to answer for what she was about to do.

He didn’t respond at once. She waited, not turning away from his intense scrutiny. More out of curiosity than anything else he decided to allow it. “Very well, I’m listening.” He folded his arms and leaned back, watching her.

“I believe, sir, this interview isn’t really about whether or not you will choose me. You made up your mind before coming here today. My impression is you are a man who weighs his options, makes the best choice using what he knows, and proceeds from there without looking back, be the result good or bad. You brought that collar today,” she nodded towards the metallic ring in front of her, “because you have already decided to take me home with you. The only reason for the interview is to satisfy Facility policy, and perhaps to make sure I didn’t offer some persuasive argument in favor of rejection.

“You asked for my cooperation, sir? Well, I’m asking you to put that collar around my neck so we can get started. I…” She stopped the moment he stood up.

He picked up the collar and walked around behind her. “One point I did learn from this interview. If I allow you to speak freely I’d better be prepared for someone who won’t hold back when telling me what she thinks.” She held her breath when she felt the collar close around her neck. He did something that fastened the lock. “Just so you know, you aren’t allowed to see the key to your collar, or know where I keep it. You’re correct, by the way. I made up my mind days ago. It took some time to get a collar tailored to your size.”

She felt him take hold of the collar and move it around, checking the fit. “Excellent work, you shouldn’t have any problems with it. As you know it doesn’t come off unless there’s some special circumstance, like a medical examination.” He came back around, stopping in front of the chair. “Raise your chin.” He slipped a finger between the front of the collar and her throat. “Not too tight, but if you do experience any kind of problem let me know immediately.” He took his hand off the collar and leaned back. “It’s very attractive. Would you like to see it? There’s a restroom behind that door. I’m sure it has a mirror.” He pointed to a door to her left.

More than anything in the world Jamie wanted to see her new collar. She was still restricted to the chair; otherwise she would have jumped up immediately. “Yes, sir! May I be allowed to go look?” She still had the handcuffs on too, but that wouldn’t interfere.

He reached into his left pocket and took out the handcuff key. “One moment,” he opened the drawer, making an obvious show about checking the time on his phone. “No, not yet.” He put the key back in his pocket. “I want you to stay in that chair a while longer. Until then we can go over some details.”

Despite her excitement Jamie wasn’t going anywhere until he gave permission to stand. He had neglected to mention how much longer she had to wait. It was a not so subtle reminder he would always be in charge.

“There’s some paperwork I have to complete for your transfer. You don’t have to be present for that. Would you like to say goodbye to your friends here? I’ll ask the Director if it’s possible.” He wasn’t sure if the Facility had a policy on departures. He couldn’t see any harm in it but he didn’t want to interfere with local regulations.

“Yes, sir, I would. If I might mention it, there are some other matters you should ask about too. There was a travel bond for me, and some things from the apartment. I’m not sure where they are now.” She knew about the bond, and that it had been forfeited when Joe abandoned her. Since she had not chosen to leave the Island no one had told her what happened to the money. The Facility didn’t allow any possessions for new arrivals so she had no idea what had become of the contents of the apartment. With the collar on, and now legally his property, she was no longer entitled to own material possessions. Under Island law she had to immediately relinquish everything to him, including whatever financial amount she was entitled under the terms of the bond.

“The bond issue has been taken care of. The contents of your apartment are in storage and will be transferred to our home. I’ll go through them first. After that we will sort out what you will be allowed to keep. I believe there were some clothes in the inventory, so you’ll have something to wear besides your uniform.” The bond had gone toward her expenses at the Facility, but she didn’t need to know that. Finances were solely his domain; she wouldn’t be involved in the details.

Jamie wasn’t surprised that he’d already handled those particulars. He certainly had all that information from the Facility. She only brought it up out of curiosity. She noticed the way he did not explain about the bond. Money would be one more way he forced her to depend on him. In a very literal sense she was now penniless. With the collar on she was forbidden to handle or possess money in any form, except for a debit card he might allow her to use for shopping. It was one more way Island law ensured she had to depend on her new master. Without that card, and permission to use it, she had no money at all, and no way to earn or spend it.

He picked up the tablet on the desk and made a scrolling gesture. “Now, while we’re waiting I have a list of instructions for you. You’ll get a printed copy but you need to learn them by heart. I want you to listen carefully because they go into effect immediately.

“First, and most important, as I explained, I want you to rely on me. To do that you have to ask me for everything you need or want. I realize this will be hard for you at first, but it’s necessary. It’s your responsibility to make sure I know, even if it’s something as trivial as a new toothbrush. If I discover you have neglected to request something you need I’ll consider that to be outright disobedience.”

Those last words hit hard. Facility training emphasized deliberate disobedience on her part was about the worst crime she could commit, short of trying to run away.

“It is essential that I know where you are at all times, day or night. You may not leave the house, or my presence, without permission. For now I won’t allow you to go out on your own during the day. That’s not permanent, by the way. When I do agree to it you’ll have a phone to keep in touch with me, by texting where you are. Of course, at night there’s the curfew so you can’t go out without being escorted. And whenever we are together you will ask permission to leave the room. That includes the house, even if it’s just the two of us.

“Our house will be your responsibility. I expect it to be kept tidy, but I’m not fanatical about it. Use your own judgment. I’ll tell you if changes are needed. Oh yes, you are encouraged to decorate and furnish it as you like, subject to my review.

“Then there’s the rule about your appearance. I know exactly what I want to see. During the day you will wear a skirt and blouse, similar to your uniform but you can pick out something less austere. The skirt length should be about where your uniform is now. The blouse will be sleeveless. I want to see your arms kept bare. I’m flexible on this, so if there’s an occasion where it would be inappropriate, or impractical, you may ask for a change, but you should be prepared to explain why. At night I will allow you to wear a dress if we go out. So you understand the reason why I am so specific on this, it’s because I like it that way.

“And keep in mind that wearing clothes is a privilege. You will not dress until I approve your choice for the day. You are not allowed to ask. You will wait for me, and if I do not grant it, you will go without. Is all that clear?”

From the intent look on his face Jamie knew he wasn’t joking. She didn’t like the idea of him taking away her clothes but it was clear this wasn’t a debate. “Sir? Would you like me to remove my clothes now? I mean, the uniform I was given to wear?” She had to correct that mistake and fast. She didn’t own clothes, or anything else, now that he had taken possession of her.

He didn’t answer immediately. She could tell from the expression on his face he had spotted her mistake. For the first time Jamie realized that she had to think of herself in a new light, one where she was only another one of his possessions. Anything he gave her to use still belonged to him. In the future she would have to be very careful when using words like ‘mine’.

“As long as we are here you will follow Facility rules, and that includes your uniform. You have permission to wear it until I tell you otherwise.” He stopped for a moment. “I noticed your correction. You did well, rephrasing that question on your own without my intervention.” He leaned forward. “That’s the type of cooperation I want, Jamie. I won’t always catch those little things. Like now, you stopped yourself before I did. You know, I think we’re going to create a beautiful partnership. And you may use ‘mine’ to refer to items, like clothes, that are specifically designated for your use.”

Jamie was careful not to break her position in the chair, but she did risk lowering her eyes. “I’m sorry, sir. I’m well aware I own nothing, not even the clothes I wear.”

“I’m glad you understand what you did was wrong. With your training you should know better, and for that reason there are consequences,” he told her in a brusque tone. Just that quick his demeanor changed, becoming serious. She saw the frown on his face. “We’ll discuss this at length later on. Stand up.” He took hold of her arm.

Apprehensive at the prospect of being punished Jamie rose from the chair, slipping her bound hands over the top of the chair. He led her to the far wall, a hand behind her back. He picked up her chair with the other, taking it along. “Face the wall, stand up straight.” She stared at the wall, wondering what he had in mind. He leaned close, whispering in her ear. “Do not speak.” He let go of her arm.

From the corner of her eye she saw him carefully place the chair next to her. “I want you to sit down facing the wall. Slip your hands over the back of the chair. You will remain silent.” He steadied her while she sat down, awkwardly leaning forward to clear the back of the chair with her cuffed hands. Immediately she resumed her sitting position, staring straight ahead.

At first he said nothing. He stood slightly behind her, out of her line of sight. Even so she could feel his eyes closely examining her, looking for any mistake. There would be nothing for him to find, of that she was certain. When he walked around to stand in front of her she didn’t move a muscle, not even her hands behind her back,

She watched as he reached into his right pocket and took out a small pad of post-it notes. Peeling off the top one he stuck it to the wall, level with her head and directly in front of her. “You will not take your eyes off this piece of paper until I tell you otherwise. You will remain in that chair, in position.” He moved back and pointed to the note on the wall. “Focus on that spot, and nothing else.”

He crouched down, studying her face intently. “You wear my collar now. Think about what that means. All your work, here at the Facility, went to prepare you for this day.” He reached out and ran a hand down her leg, from her knee to her ankle. “You’re all mine now, never forget it, not for one moment.”

He stood up and went behind her. She couldn’t see him, or much of anything except that small piece of paper, but she could feel his presence. He laid his hands on her shoulders. “It’s important you know, Jamie, that today you met,” he paused, “no, you surpassed my hopes in every respect. For years I’ve dreamed of finding a certain woman, a woman I doubted even existed, yet here you are, sitting in front of me. Best of all,” he leaned down to whisper in her ear, “she now belongs to me, permanently, and no one can ever take her from me.”

Jamie heard him walk back to the desk and sit down. She couldn’t see him but he had to be watching her. “For anyone else,” he began, “it would be a simple slip of the tongue, an easy mistake quickly fixed. But you aren’t just anyone else, Jamie.” He watched her back closely. If she moved he’d have to come down hard on her. “You are a Facility woman, and that does represent something special. Your training sets you apart from everyone else. I don’t have to tell you that; you are well aware of what you’ve accomplished here.”

He paused, choosing his words before he continued. “Think about what just happened. For one moment you thought in terms of what you own, what belongs to you. When you do that you reduce your dependence on me, even if it’s only a tiny amount. That ends right now.”

He stood up and walked up close behind her. “This is what I mean when I ask you to work with me. Don’t let in ideas like that. Every word you speak, every thought in your head, it has to be based on one fundamental principle. You know what that is: you are my property, in every sense of the word.” He put his hands on her shoulders.

“You are going to sit here and meditate on what I just said. I know your mistake wasn’t intentional, and I understand how hard it can be to change the habits learned over a lifetime.” He leaned down to whisper in her ear. “I have faith in you, Jamie. I will show you how to become the woman you want to be, and the woman I desire too. I will always be there for you, but you must work with me to outline the right path for you. I will take away everything you have, but even so you will find you want for nothing.” He stroked her hair. “Now, face the wall and think about all that. You must hold still, be quiet, and wait for me.”

Jamie stared straight ahead, not even trying to see him out of the corner of her eye. At that moment there was nothing more important to Jamie than following his commands. Staring at the small square of paper she noticed a tiny imperfection in the paint on one edge. That became her point of concentration.

She relaxed her hands, letting her fingers hang down. From the way the cuffs pressed against her skirt she could tell they were properly centered at the small of her back. No matter how uncomfortable she had to make sure she didn’t move, not in the slightest. That’s how she could best please him.

In a matter of minutes her life had changed course. The man standing behind her was her entire world now. He was right; she had to change her thinking, to define everything in terms of what he gave her, what he allowed, what he prohibited. Nothing could be taken for granted from this moment on.

From his vantage point behind her he caught the small movement of her hands as she stared at the wall. The short chain linking the handcuffs was pulled taut, the cuffs sitting low on her wrists. She had nicely framed her bound hands against the dark contrast of her skirt, just below her blouse. The key to those handcuffs rested in his pocket. It would only take a few seconds for him to release her, any time he chose.

But for her it was quite different. There was no key. She had to trust him to either unlock the cuffs or help her while she was bound. That was how he wanted to shape her mind, her view of the world. She was not in charge. He would choose for her.

He walked back to the desk and sat down. He was in no hurry, which meant she was going to sit there, facing the wall, until he told her otherwise.

The Rules

For several minutes Dave watched Jamie from his seat at the desk. Her self-control was amazing. There wasn’t the slightest hint of any resistance on her part. He leaned back in the chair, studying her closely. Her arms were still precisely aligned to the center of her back, hands facing in toward each other, handcuff chain pulled taut. “Keep that back straight, head up,” he admonished her, in a stern voice.

Instantly she straightened up in the chair. He smiled, enjoying how quickly she obeyed. She was the picture of perfection, a product of the Facility’s superb training program. Try as he might he could not find any fault. His eyes lingered once again on the small of her back, where the handcuffs nicely framed her petite wrists, firmly bound together.

Business before pleasure, he reminded himself. “Now then, while I have your undivided attention we’ll go over the specifics of a few of the more essential guidelines you need to know right away. We’ll discuss them again later on, so for now just listen and try to remember as many as you can. These are important, to me and especially for you. The times when I’m not with you, these rules will define how you will behave.” He stressed that last part, wording it to let her know it was mandatory.

Restless, he rose and walked around the room, being careful to stay behind her back, out of sight. “First, and foremost, you must demonstrate to me you deserve my trust. As I just said, I won’t be there every moment of the day. Whether we are together, or you are alone, it makes no difference in how you act. I look for deeds, not words. You will take pride in who you are. Prove to yourself you are the woman you want to be. Hold your head up high when you walk past other people. Show them you are from the Facility, that you made it through the program, and now you are one of the few who have earned the right to wear that collar for the rest of your life.”

Dave reached over her shoulder to take hold of her collar from the front. “This is who you are. It will be there every moment of your life, from this moment on. There is only one Jamie, my Jamie. The collar never comes off, and the same applies to the framework. They never stop either. You’re not acting; this,” he jerked on her collar, “is the real you.”

He could feel her trembling. “Stand up,” he ordered in an abrupt tone. Pushing the chair to one side he quickly spun her around so they stood face to face. She looked up at him, tears in her eyes. “Don’t worry,” he reassured her, “you won’t fail me. And you know why?” She shook her head. “Because I won’t let it happen.”

He turned her back to face the wall. “We aren’t done yet.” He took a step back. “Stand up straight, shoulders back, line up those hands!” The sharp crack of his terse orders brought an immediate response. Once again her posture was picture perfect, the Facility way.

“The next rule I’ve told you about already. It is so important that it bears repeating. You must be dependent on me. It’s the defining root of our relationship. It has to be automatic, a habit, so deep-seated in your life that it shapes how you think, how you look at the world. You will ask me for everything, and if you hold back out of some mistaken idea you will be a burden, you will soon discover just how angry I can be.” He reached out and laid his hands on her hips. “I can’t stress enough how vital this is to me, Jamie. It’s a make or break for us. If you really do worry about disappointing me, this is where it will happen.”

Dave looked at his phone. Her wall time was up. Picking up her chair he took it back to the original position in front of the desk. Reaching into his pocket he took out the handcuff key and released her left wrist. Taking hold of one arm he turned her around so he could fasten the cuff again with her hands in front.

“Consider that a small reprimand for you poor choice of words. We won’t mention it again. I’m leaving the handcuffs on but it’s not a punishment. I like how they look when you wear them. Go back to the chair and I’ll continue.”

The List Grows

It was a relief to sit down again, but Jamie continued to feel bad about her slip. She was captivated with the concept of his framework of rules and eager to hear more. Her training had led her to expect a gradual approach from her new master, where he’d explain what he wanted as time went by. This man was very different. He had everything planned in advance, before they even met.

She was still able to cross her hands even though they were chained together. She took a chance and turned her hands slightly to better accommodate the cuffs. She risked a quick look to make sure they were centered on her skirt, in her lap. She pulled her wrists apart to tighten the connecting chain.

His first rule, about trust, wasn’t all that different from Mrs. Yates’ lecture this morning. In that sense Jamie was on her own now. The true test of her commitment was just beginning.

It was his next rule that both scared and fascinated her. Could she really surrender that last bit of self-determination, to give herself to him completely? Her very survival hinged on this man; food, shelter, clothes, everything that defined her quality of life must now come from him. It was obvious providing for her was important to him. That was one way she could work with him, to find new ways she could show how much she needed him.

Despite his warning she was concerned about becoming a burden. What he described could easily prove to be too much over time. She couldn’t disobey him by holding back, but she could watch for signs of resentment and ask to discuss it with him.

“Now then, the next rule. I won’t allow you to engage in casual conversation with any other man without permission. You can be polite, but only to explain that you are not allowed to speak to him further. You will volunteer no other information, and you will not answer his questions or respond to his comments in any way. Given your status they will understand. If we’re together you will remain silent and I’ll explain instead. Or I’ll let you know if you may speak. And to go with that if you do talk to another man you will only address him by his last name. If he asks you to use his first name explain you are forbidden to do so. That applies even if it’s someone you know well.”

He paused for a moment before continuing, “You may wonder about the reasons for that particular restriction? I won’t always explain why, but in this case there are two points. The first one, the rule is there to protect you. You have a natural inclination to be submissive, plus your training emphasizes obedience. That leaves you vulnerable, especially when I’m not around. And the second point, well, I happen to be extremely possessive, along with being insanely jealous.” He smiled at her. “I don’t want to share you with anyone else. And best of all, it’s one more way you need me.”

That one was a surprise, though his explanation did make sense. She was well aware of her legal requirement to address all men as “sir”, and the reasons behind it, now that she wore a collar. The Facility also had the same rule about last names only, for anyone on the staff. But his restriction went far beyond, forcing her into virtual solitude even in public.

It wasn’t a blanket prohibition against talking to any man; only a requirement that he choose on a case by case basis whether to grant access. The part about being insanely jealous might just be an exaggeration, but for now she’d have to keep it in mind. As for being possessive, Jamie found it reassuring. She intended to do everything possible to encourage that particular quirk in his personality. Considering how much he meant to her that possessive streak was essential to her quality of life.

“Sir? If I may ask, does the last name only restriction also apply when I talk to you?” That was a big gap in his rule, one he might have overlooked.

He didn’t respond immediately. Instead he leaned forward, seemingly lost in thought. “A good question, seems I didn’t quite think that one through. Hmmm….” The point seemed obvious to Jamie, but then she was the one who had to get it right. “Yes, it should apply to me too, but I’ll let you use your own judgment. I can see where there may be times you need to use my full name, like calling out to attract my attention in a crowd.”

To Jamie what he really meant was she would not address him by name unless absolutely necessary. “So that I’m clear, sir, when we’re talking I should only refer to you as my owner, or my master. I should not address you or refer to you in conversation by your first name?”

Dave didn’t answer immediately. She had an amazing talent for spotting the holes in his framework in a matter of seconds. For all the hours he had put into writing it all down, in hindsight it was obvious he needed her perspective to finish it. “Before I answer I want you to know you’re already doing what I asked, cooperating with me. You and I will have to spend some time going over every line so I get a better understanding from your point of view. You’ve done well, Jamie.”

His long pause had sent her off into another round of worry, that she’d upset him by questioning his rules. His reassuring words wiped away all her fears.

“Your last question does bring up one more item in the framework I want to mention today. I call it the line that’s never crossed. What I mean by that is there are certain things, between us, which are never questioned, or laughed at, or made the subject of a joke. One of those lines is authority, specifically my right to dictate everything you do.”

Jamie was tempted to lean forward, to better hear every word he said but she caught herself in time. Unless he told her otherwise the Facility rule still applied, sit up straight, in position. She could tell this particular rule was especially important to him, and from what he’d said already, she needed to be very careful not to violate it.

“There’s a danger in becoming complacent, or lazy without the fancy vocabulary. Because of who we are I won’t allow that to happen. For that reason there will always be a line, a line of respect, neither of us will cross. To you, that means acknowledging your place in our community here on the Island. Our male-dominated society requires that you will always be properly deferential toward other men and that you obey me without hesitation. And for me, I show you the respect you deserve as a woman who belongs to me, respect that includes the use of correction when necessary.”

This was something Jamie had never heard before. His rule, the way he explained it, applied to both of them, not just her. Not one training class at the Facility had ever discussed limits placed on their future masters.

“To get back to your original question, no, you will not use my name unless a particular situation warrants it. To you my name is ‘sir’ or ‘master’. I prefer ‘sir’, and so you know I’m pleased with how you’ve handled that today. If you refer to me while talking to someone else you have it right, either ‘my master’ or ‘my owner’. If anyone asks about it, tell them you have strict orders to do it my way. No one should ever question that explanation, and you certainly don’t have to justify it.”

She hadn’t thought about it but he was right. She had an all-purpose excuse for almost anything. Her unique status absolved her of any blame or criticism if she was following her master’s instructions.

A Parting Request

“That’s enough on the framework for now, but remember it went into effect the moment that collar went around your neck. Speaking of which, why don’t you go take a look in the mirror and see how it looks.”

Eager as she was to see it she had a protocol to follow first. “May I stand, sir?” At his nod she jumped up and all but ran to the door. Just as she reached for the doorknob Jamie hesitated, looking back at her new master for permission again.

“Very good,” he complimented her. “You did the right thing. Always ask if in doubt.” Dave waved his hand. “Go ahead.”

She said a silent prayer of thanks to Mrs. Yates for her reminder about the details. Opening the door she went in and faced the mirror. There it was, just as she had imagined. The yellowish color was slightly off. No one would ever mistake the collar for real gold, or gold plating, but that wasn’t the point. Anyone on the Island would instantly recognize what it meant. She reached up and ran her hands along the outside edge.

She’d be staring at it many more times in the future. Only time would tell what she thought about it years from now, but at this moment it was the most beautiful piece of jewelry she had ever seen, much less worn.

Looking out the open door she saw him sitting at the desk with a phone in his hand. It sounded like he was talking to the Director. His back was to her. On an impulse she grabbed the two sides of the collar in her hands, limited by the handcuffs, and pulled with all her strength. It didn’t budge. Satisfied she couldn’t remove it Jamie went back to her new master.

He turned around as she approached. “We’re all set. The Director will be here in a few minutes. Lunch break is starting so someone will take you to meet your friends while I finish with the legal details. I’ll come for you when we’re ready to go home. And remember everything I told you. You answer to me now, not the Facility. I tell you what to do, not the Director, nor any of the staff here.”

She liked the sound of that, going home. The Facility had been her residence for more than a year, but in no sense was it a real home. Life here was harsh and demanding, the staff was aloof, but now it was over she didn’t have anything bad to say about her experience. Still, it was only a place to stay, nothing permanent. Now she had a home once again, and someone to share it with. It had taken more than a year for her to change from disillusioned idealist to confident realist. She was starting over, older but far wiser, and she was certain it was with the right man this time.

He stood up, reached out and took her in his arms. She laid her head on his shoulder. “Sir? I don’t know your name. What should I say if someone asks about you?”

He whispered in her ear. “That’s right, I haven’t mentioned my name. You will be told when you need to know it. Until then, refer anyone who asks to your collar registration number.” He put his hands on her shoulders and pushed her back slightly, so he could see her face. “Is there anything else I’m not going to tell you?”

For a moment Jamie thought she was in trouble but the smile on his face and his soft tone reassured her. ”No, sir.”

The door opened and the Director came in. Jamie recognized him immediately, although she had little direct contact. He stopped when he saw the collar encircling her neck. “Well ,Jamie, it seems congratulations are in order.”

She started to answer but suddenly stopped. She wasn’t under his authority any longer, which meant, according to her new list of rules, without consent she wasn’t allowed to talk to the Director either. Her new master had emphasized his framework started with immediate effect. She turned to her owner, seeking his approval before responding.

He put an arm around her shoulder but to her shock did not allow her to answer. “You’ll have to excuse Jamie. She isn’t permitted to speak to other men. I’m sure she’d like to thank you for all you’ve done on her behalf.”

The Director immediately turned away from her. “Of course, I understand. There’s someone waiting in the hall to take her to the dining room. If you could release her into his temporary custody Frank can escort her. Would you prefer she remain restrained?” Jamie was a bit bewildered at the conversation. They were discussing her as if she wasn’t there.

“Yes, I think that would be a good idea.” He reached into his pocket for the key to her handcuffs.

After opening one side he took a step back. “Hands behind your back,” he ordered. Without any hesitation she spun around, hands close together in the center of her back. He closed the open cuff around her wrist. “That should be sufficient. You’re not being punished,” he explained.

“This is to make it easier for the guard to escort you. You will follow his orders and respond only with a yes or no. Since we’re guests here you will also respect Facility regulations. You are not permitted to speak to male staff members. You may speak freely with the female staff and residents.”

Holding the chain between her wrists he turned to the Director. “Will that cause any problems?”

“Not at all,” the Director answered. “If there’s nothing else Frank can walk her over to the dining room. He’ll be nearby at all times to supervise her.” He turned to the open door to the hallway. “Frank?” he called out. “Come on in.”

Jamie now knew Mr. Owens first name was Frank. Trainees, or former trainee now, were only allowed to use last names for male staff. She remembered him from the few trips where she and a handful of the others were sometimes rewarded with an afternoon, or rarely an evening visit to the main Island. There had been the incident at the movie theater with her and Elise…

“Sir? Before I go may I ask for something?” She looked at her master over her shoulder since he was the only one she could address.

He thought for a moment. “Can it wait? If not, go ahead.”

“No sir, I don’t think it can wait.” It hadn’t occurred to her to ask, until seeing Mr. Owens reminded her of that misadventure at the theater. “There was a former trainee here, Elise. Is there some way I can get in contact with her once we’re home? I don’t know her master’s name. I ask because the only link is through the Facility.” She missed their frequent conversations after Elise had left.

“This Elise was a friend? A close friend?” Jamie nodded. He turned to the Director. “What’s your policy on contacting former residents? I have no objection to her getting in touch with this woman.”

The Director thought for a moment. “Of course, we don’t release any personal information directly. In this case, since Jamie and Elise are acquainted we can act as an intermediary. I’ll present the request to her master. If he agrees I can pass on your contact information?”

“Sure,” her master replied. “You have my phone number and email address.” He turned back to Jamie. “Now go say your goodbyes.”

He handed her over to Mr. Owens, who took hold of her arm. “Frank?” the Director started, “Would you escort our visitor to the dining room? No access to male staff. She can speak freely to female staff and trainees. Keep her under close supervision until her owner picks her up. And, if Siobhan is in the dining room, take her there first.” Frank nodded to show he understood. Holding onto her upper arm he led Jamie out of the room, closing the door behind them.

“So, Dave, looks like you wasted no time in starting her on your infamous framework. Nice touch that, forbidding her to speak to other men. For a moment there I wasn’t quite sure what was going on. The Jamie I know would never dare give me the silent treatment.”

Dave Greer held out his hand. “I have to thank you, Clancy. When you first told me about Jamie I had my doubts. I’ve never been a big supporter of the Facility, but you’ve changed my opinion. She is amazing. Do you know she insisted I put that collar on her?”

Clancy Yates, long time Director for the Facility, shook his hand. “She was a wreck when she came to us. This last year she’s really come into her own. Once we figured out who she was, and the type of man she needed, you were the top of the list, though I hate to admit it. Don’t ever let up on her. Her security lies in her ability to live up to your, well, nearly impossible framework of rules. You’re off to a good start. I think she wouldn’t dare blink without asking you first.”

Dave nodded in agreement. “I gave her part of that list of rules I showed you. As you can see she took to it without any hesitation. No, I won’t slack off. I enjoy the power I have over her too much to risk losing it. I know no ordinary woman, even the submissive type, could tolerate me for more than a few months. Jamie though, I can see she’s different. My biggest worry now is if I can live up to her lofty vision of the ideal master.” Both men laughed.

“We do have some papers to sign, to make it official. Let’s go over to my office. I bet if I looked in the file cabinet I’ll find a jar of the finest County Armagh poteen, assuming Siobhan hasn’t disposed of it yet. I’ve warned her if I caught her emptying one of my precious jars again she’d spend a week in a very small cage, bound hand and foot. She assures me it’s the leprechauns that are to blame.”


Mr. Owens didn’t speak while he conducted her to the dining room, and she dare not try to talk to him. She knew the way, but he never let go of her arm. Close supervision for the visitor, everything had changed in the span of a few hours. She was an outsider now, no longer subject to Facility procedures and regulations. Idly she wondered what would happen if she demanded he let go of her arm. Nothing good for her, of that she was sure. She’d be in trouble in so many ways that a timeout in front of a wall and a verbal reprimand would seem like a vacation.

They reached the dining room doors. Mr. Estevez, another longtime Facility employee, was sitting at a table by the door. None of the trainees would dare leave the dining room without permission, but he was still there to make sure it didn’t happen. When he saw Jamie, and her new collar, he stood up and started to say hello. Mr. Owens held up his free hand to cut him off. “Her master specified no contact.” It was a cryptic statement but Mr. Estevez understood. He nodded and sat back down.

Inside the dining room Siobhan Yates sat at a table by herself, eating lunch. She glanced over her shoulder when she heard the door open. The moment she saw Jamie with a collar on she knew the interview had concluded. She stood up to attract Mr. Owens’ attention. As a favor she had asked Clancy to allow her a few parting moments with Jamie.

Mr. Owens led Jamie over to her table. At his nod Siobhan sat down, in position since he was present. Being a staff member at the Facility did not exempt her from the same rules that applied to trainees. He pulled out a chair from the table and motioned for Jamie to sit down. “The two of you may talk for a short time. I’ll come back when you are done.” He went to a nearby table and sat down, turning his chair so he could watch Jamie.

Siobhan relaxed but didn’t continue eating. “Sorry I can’t offer you lunch, Jamie. Is it close supervision?” She nodded toward Mr. Owens.

Jamie sat in the chair with her cuffed hands behind her back. “Yes, Mrs. Yates. I don’t have permission to eat anyway. I heard the Director say you wanted to talk before I left?”

“That’s right,” she answered. “And we’re equals now, Jamie, no more formalities.” She touched her own collar, a near match for Jamie’s. “You can call me Siobhan.”

Jamie smiled, “Okay, Siobh…” She stopped. No, she couldn’t do that. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Yates, but my master ordered that I respect Facility regulations. I can only use your last name.” She didn’t continue, thinking about how she had almost disobeyed her new master.

“Of course, you do what you must. But if we ever happen to meet outside the Facility grounds, and you have permission, feel free to use my first name.” She noticed Jamie had a concerned look on her face. “Something bothering you?”

Jamie looked up. “I’m not sure what to do. I almost broke a rule. Should I tell my master about it?”

Siobhan reached over and patted her knee. “Of course you tell him! If you have even the slightest doubt about anything always take it to your master. It’s his job to judge if you acted properly, not yours. If you made a mistake he’ll do something about it, and you’ll know not to repeat it. And if you weren’t at fault he’ll know you were conscientious. Either way, you don’t have to worry. Unless you really screw up; in that case it’s best to accept the consequences and get it over with as soon as possible.”

Jamie nodded and smiled in agreement. “You’re right. I don’t think I’m in trouble but it’s hard to tell. Mrs. Yates, my new master, he’s so different from any man I’ve ever met. I’m worried I won’t be able to please him. I’m afraid he’ll want more from me than I can possibly manage.”

Siobhan glanced over at Mr. Owens, unsure how much time she had. He must have understood, because he waved a hand, as if to say she could continue. “Jamie, that’s why I asked to see you before you leave us. You are right, he is different. I can’t say much about him but I can warn you he will treat you, in the most literal sense, as his personal property. He is very possessive, as I’m sure you’ve already seen. He will do everything possible to hold onto you, regardless of how you feel about it. Always remember that. Tell me, did he forbid you to talk to any other man without his express approval?”

Jamie looked surprised. “Yes he did. I can’t even speak to the Director, or Mr. Owens. Is he that jealous? I’d never flirt with anyone…”

Siobhan shook her head. “No, he’s not jealous, at least I wouldn’t call it that. I doubt he’s thinking you’d run off with another man. It’s not like you’d have the means or opportunity in any case. It’s to protect you, as he sees it, to stand between you and the rest of the world. I’d say more paternalistic than jealous. You’ll find you will have few worries from now on. He’ll see to it you have a very good life, but at an equally high cost.”

“Cost? I don’t follow.” Jamie wasn’t sure what Mrs. Yates was trying to tell her.

“The cost is your freedom. All of it, not just what we usually expect to give up. Before long you won’t trust yourself. Even for trivial matters you’ll feel compelled to go to him for either permission or his opinion, because it will outweigh your own. That’s how he will control you, by taking away your ability to think on your own. It may sound scary, but there is a positive side too. That’s what I want you to know. As much as you will grow to depend on him, in turn he’ll become so drawn to power that you will never, ever, risk losing him.

“Don’t worry too much about pleasing him. He’ll see to it you know how to accomplish that. Remember, he’s always in charge so he’ll force you, whether you like it or not. All you have to do is listen to him, do what he says, and it will all work out.” Mr. Owens got up from his chair, which put an end to her advice.

Seeing Siobhan look over her shoulder Jamie glanced back to see Mr. Owens standing. “Thank you, Mrs. Yates, for all you’ve done for me.” That was as far as she got before he took hold of her arm. She rose at his unspoken command.

“Siobhan, you are to remain here until the Director comes for you. Jamie? Show me which of your friends you’d like to meet next.” Mr. Owens gestured to the other tables, where nearly everyone was staring at her.

Going Home

Jamie turned her head to look out the back window of the car. The Facility shrank in the distance as the driver took them down the road to the dock. Will I ever see that place again? If so it wouldn’t be under the best of circumstances. She pushed those thoughts out of her head. Turning back to the man sitting next to her she noticed him watching her.

“Feeling nostalgic already?” Dave asked.

“No, sir, not in the least. It’s just that, well, it’s all happening so fast. I wonder if I’ll ever come back here.” She risked a quick look down at her hands, to make sure they were in the right place, carefully crossed on her lap, palms down, fingers together.

He reached over and put his hand on top of hers. “You’re doing fine. And as for the Facility, I can’t imagine why you would ever return. So go ahead and take a last look.”

Jamie turned to look again but the trees hid the Facility buildings. “It’s gone, sir. I can’t see it now.” She felt his fingers brush against her wrist. He must have seen her checking, but he said nothing about it.

“The car will take us to the ferry, across to South Island, and then home. We can get out and wait in the ferry lounge for the crossing. Let me know if you’d like something from the snack bar once the ferry is under way.”

“Yes, sir.” Through the front windshield she could see the dock, and out in the bay the boat was approaching. They wouldn’t have long to wait. When she looked out the side window she could see her reflection. The collar was plainly visible, for all to see. The moment she stepped out of the car onto the ferry the other passengers would immediately recognize what it meant. Unlimited ownership, she told herself, the man next to me can do as he wishes with me, and everyone knows it. Away from the sanctuary of the Facility it hit her for the first time exactly what had happened to her.

She turned back to her new master. “Sir? Will you really take care of me?”

The question caught him off guard. When Dave saw her concerned expression he knew she was serious. “Yes, Jamie, I will. You’ll have to have faith in me to decide what’s best for you, but if you do that I promise you won’t ever have to worry about your future again.” He put a reassuring arm around her shoulders. She leaned in, resting her head against his shoulder.

The driver stopped at the dock, waiting for the ferry to lower the loading ramp. As soon as the deckhand waved the driver pulled forward, slowly driving into the ferry vehicle bay. A few minutes later the loading ramp was up and the ferry was backing out into the bay. “It’s nice outside. Let’s get out and enjoy the trip,” Dave told her. “But first I’ll take off those cuffs. It’s a safety rule for the ferry.” He unlocked the handcuffs and dropped them into his jacket pocket. Strangely, Jamie felt disappointed when he released her.

Jamie didn’t want him to let go of her but didn’t protest. She watched him get out and go around the car to her door. Behind him she saw a deckhand watching them. Before her master opened the car door she straightened up, head high, looking straight ahead. After he opened the door she held still while he unlatched her seat belt. She was in public now. Anything less than the best on her part reflected badly on her new owner. As soon as he took a step back, implicitly giving her permission to get out of the car, she twisted sideways, swinging her legs out onto the deck. From her training she kept her legs together and was careful not to cross her ankles. She took his outstretched hand so he could help her up. From the corner of her eye she saw the deckhand turn and walk away.

Dave closed the car door but held onto her hand. “I saw that. You weren’t showing off, weren’t you?”

“No, sir, that’s how we were taught. Did I do something wrong?” Jamie knew it had been flawless. If he wanted something different he’d have to tell her first.

Dave shook his head. “You know very well there was nothing amiss. It was a stellar performance. I like it. I want to see the same thing every time you get in or out of the car from now on.”

One more thing to remember, she told herself. “Of course, and sir? Yes, I admit I was showing off, but only for you.” He had asked a direct question; she couldn’t ignore it or try to be evasive.

He nodded, “I thought so. No criticism, you did well.” He put an arm around her waist and pulled her close. “Any man would be fortunate to have you, Jamie. You do me proud.”

They walked over to the rail and sat down on a bench. “Sir?” Jamie began, “I have something to tell you. I may have broken a rule. May I explain?”

Before answering Dave ran through the morning interview, but nothing came to mind that he hadn’t already covered. “Alright, tell me about it.”

“In the lunchroom, when I was saying my goodbyes, Mrs. Yates asked to talk to me. She told me to use her first name, since I wasn’t under her supervision any longer. I thought it was a nice gesture on her part, so I started to say her name. It’s Siobhan, by the way, she’s Irish too. Anyway, as soon as I started I remembered you telling me to respect all Facility regulations while we were still there. I stopped immediately, the moment I realized my mistake. I’m not sure what you would want me to do in a situation like that.”

Dave saw the problem right away. “This Mrs. Yates, she oversaw your training on a daily basis?”

Jamie nodded. “Yes, sir. We were required to follow her instructions. She is very exacting in enforcing the rules and chewed us out if we made even the smallest of mistakes. We were all terrified of crossing her.”

“I don’t see a mistake here. Given your time at the Facility you’ve developed a habit of obeying her, since she had been placed in charge of you. Today was the first time the circumstances changed. You did well, catching it in time. My order to you to respect Facility regulations would naturally override anything she asked of you. I’m impressed that you caught it so quickly. And Jamie? I’m pleased you brought this to my attention. When in doubt tell me and I’ll explain what you should do.”

For Jamie it felt like a weight had been taken off her shoulders. Mrs. Yates was right again; it was his job to determine if she had made the right decision. “Sir? Please don’t hold back for my sake. If I ever do something you don’t approve of, or I’m a disappointment, I expect you to deal with me as you think best.”

“Not to worry, if I thought you had disobeyed we’d be having a very different conversation right now. It’s early days for us, but you’ll learn soon enough just how important it is to me for you to demonstrate you recognize obedience is as important to you as it is to me. Discipline is essential to preserving our relationship; don’t ever think I’ll go easy on you.”

Jamie watched the Facility dock shrink in the distance as the ferry headed toward South Island. It was symbolic of her old life fading away, to be replaced with a new life with the man at her side. When Dave pulled her close she looked up at him. “You look to be lost in deep thought,” he told her.

“I’m thinking about it being the second time around, sir. But this time I’m a little older and a lot wiser. Please, sir, don’t ever let me become a burden for you.”

He leaned down and kissed her forehead. “That won’t happen. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time preparing for this. I imagine you’re worried that being so dependent on me might hurt our future together. Just the opposite, it’ll bring us closer together. Don’t even think about holding back out of some misplaced concern for me. I know exactly what I’m doing, as I told you this morning.”

Dave reached up with his arm, behind her, to stroke her hair. Suddenly he grabbed a handful and painfully turned her to face him. “You will be mine, Jamie, in every way. Never act without my permission. Asking isn’t a formality; there will come a day when you can’t even imagine life without me there to guide you.”

Taken For Granted

Dave held open the front door to let Jamie enter first. She stopped and waited for him in the hallway. It was apparent she was nervous, no doubt unsure of herself and his intentions. It was time for him to act quickly.

“Jamie? Straight ahead is the living room. Go in there and wait for me. I’ll be there as soon as I take care of your suitcase. You may look around the room first. I want you to sit down on the sofa when you’re done.” Specific instructions were a guaranteed remedy for uncertainty. She had a set task to keep her busy until he finished.

“Yes, sir,” she acknowledged his order and turned toward the living room. The Facility had returned to him all her belongings, in the original suitcase from her initial arrival. The driver had removed it from the car trunk and left it sitting by the door. He picked it up, closed the door, and headed toward their bedroom.

When he passed through the living room she was on the couch, in position, waiting for him. He stopped and put down the suitcase. He studied her closely, not saying a word. The moment she realized he was watching her she turned her head to look straight ahead. He held out his hand. “Come with me. I want you to help me sort out the suitcase contents.”

She quickly stood up and took his hand. With the suitcase in one hand, and her in the other, he led her into the master bedroom. He laid it out lengthwise on the bed. “You recognize this?” he asked.

“Yes, sir. I wasn’t sure what I’d need when I left for the Facility, so I packed a bag with a few things. As it turned out that wasn’t necessary. I recall the driver put it in the car trunk when he picked me up. That was the last time I ever saw it, until today.”

Before he opened the suitcase he turned to ask her, “Did you have anything else with you, like a purse, jewelry, a watch?”

Jamie thought back to that first day. “I was wearing a dress, shoes, and I had a purse. No jewelry, sir, I was told not to bring any.” Within an hour after arriving everything she brought with her was gone, replaced by the standard issue uniform. As Mrs. Yates had explained it, everything she required would be provided by the Facility. No personal possessions were allowed.

“We’re going to sort out what’s in here. Behind you are your closet and dresser.” She looked over her shoulder to see where he was pointing. “Anything we keep I’ll hand to you and you can put it away.”

“Yes, sir,” she replied. It felt odd to have him go through what used to be her clothes. Jamie was well aware he had every right to choose what she could keep for her own use. She was eager to see what he would allow, since it would give her some insight into what to shop for in the future.

When he unzipped the top and flipped back the cover her purse and shoes were laying on top. He picked up the purse and looked it over. “Hmm…” he started, “this I’ll leave to your discretion. Would you like to keep it?”

It had been her favorite, although she had no precious memories tied to it. Still, she thought it went well with a lot of outfits. “Yes, sir, may I? There may be some occasion when I’ll need a handbag. I do like this one.”

He laid it down on the bed next to the suitcase. “Okay then, for now we’ll keep it, but I want to check inside when we’re done.” He took out her shoes and handed them to her. “These go in the hall closet, on the left had side when you open the door. All your shoes will be kept there from now on. While we’re on the subject, sit down and take off the sandals you have on now.” He pointed toward the chair next to her dresser. “Unless there’s a reason for it you do not have permission to wear shoes inside the house.”

She now had one more rule to follow, plus another small clue to his personality. He wanted to keep her barefoot. The reason why would have to wait. She sat down, carefully placing the shoes in her hand to one side before removing the ones she wore. Those went next to the older pair, neatly lined up. Mrs. Yates’ lecture about the drawer came back, reminding her it was the small details that mattered, as much for herself as her master. She started to stand up again, before quickly sitting down again. He hadn’t included permission for her to stand when she finished. “Sir? Do you want me to stay in the chair?” There’s no harm in asking, she thought.

He turned to look at her, saying nothing. When he didn’t answer she immediately sat up straight and folded her hands in her lap. Once again she spotted his eyes looking her over, up and down. She didn’t miss the quick glance down at where she had the shoes lined up either. Anyone else might have missed his barely perceptible nod of approval, but it didn’t escape her notice.

All those little things, he really does look for them, she realized. Her efforts weren’t being wasted. In training she had sometimes wondered if it was all that important; now she understood. He doesn’t take me, or what I do for him, for granted.

Only a few hours and he had her on his narrow path, as Mrs. Yates had described it. He’d led her to that path, opened it up for her to follow, and now she had proof he would track her progress.

“If you’re done come back here, by me,” he told her. Picking up her purse he dumped the contents out on the bed. “Let’s sort through this first.”

Not Acceptable

“Hold this up, let me get an idea of how it looks on you,” he ordered. She took the dress out of his hand and held it up to her neck. For the moment the clothes in that suitcase were all she had, except for the Facility uniform. Looking at his growing rejection pile she wasn’t optimistic about keeping any of her old clothes.

He took a step back to get a better view. “No, it’s too short. That isn’t acceptable.” He took it out of her hands and tossed it on the floor, on top of all the others clothes he had summarily dismissed. He must have seen the concerned look on her face when he said, “Jamie? Don’t worry about this.” He swept his arm over the heap on the floor. “I’m sure you were told to pick these out. In any case you had no way of knowing we’d be standing her tonight reviewing your old wardrobe.”

Her previous master had specified short dresses, one of the few times he had been insistent on a particular rule. Considering the pile on floor comprised those same dresses the rules were different now. “You’re right, sir. Those,” she pointed to the floor, “were the only outfits he permitted. I’m sorry sir, but I had no choice.”

He turned to her and put his hands on her arms. “Never apologize when you do as you were told. Understand this, Jamie,” he leaned down and looked her straight in the eye, “submission frees you from any accountability for your actions, as long as you are sincere in your efforts. I bear that responsibility, not you. I expect you to act faithfully, to put all your talent and abilities toward the task given you, but you do not, and I emphasize this, you must not concern yourself with anyone else’s opinions or comments.”

Jamie had heard this before, in training, but it took on new meaning now. It was like having one of those “Get Out Of Jail Free” cards from the old Monopoly game. No one could criticize or blame her, because she had no choice in the matter. The catch, she had to follow every one of his rules to perfection, and to his satisfaction. But if she could accomplish that minor feat he was promising her a life free of worry. She could do no wrong, if…but a big if.

Dave looked down at the rejection pile. “Seems there’s nothing here for you. You’ll have to wear that uniform for one more day. Tomorrow morning we’ll go shopping. You can fill up your closet then.”

For Jamie that was a relief. She was starting to worry he might decide she didn’t need any clothes at all. That would be a difficult adjustment, especially when leaving the house. “Sir? May I ask why it is you rejected all those dresses? If you wish for me to pick out some outfits tomorrow I’d like to get a better idea of what I should concentrate on.” She felt safe in asking, since he had told her earlier in the day she had a mandate to ask for anything she needed. In this case it was information.

The long pause before he answered left her unsure if he saw her request the same way. “Fair enough, it is something you need to know. To start, no dresses; you will choose skirts and blouses only. I will relax that rule later but for tomorrow it’s a hard limit. The skirt will be a modest length, just above the knee, nothing short or too tight. I like all kinds of styles, so feel free to look for variety. You are not dressing to please other men, only me.”

He hesitated, debating whether or not to tell her the rest. “Are you aware, Jamie, that there is a provision in Island law where collared females can be registered for adherence to a strict Islamic dress code? Strict as in you may only leave the house wearing a hijab, that’s the all-concealing black robe you often see on TV in conservative Muslim countries. Only your face and hands may be uncovered. Or for the more conservative, a burqa, that covers everything. I seriously considered placing you on the most restrictive code, where burqas are mandatory.”

Jamie stared at him, wondering if he still intended to do just that. She’d seen pictures but never encountered the Middle Eastern dress code in person.

He must have known what she was thinking when he continued. “No, I’m not going put you through all that. I’m telling you this to illustrate my point. Like Muslim dress you are not putting yourself on display. I prefer an understated look. Oh yes, I like solid colors too, but that’s not mandatory.”

Dave placed his hands on her shoulders. “Now the blouse must be sleeveless. I insist you keep your arms bare, even if we go out. There will be no exceptions to that rule, so don’t ask. The entire outfit should be suitable for an office. I’ll allow some latitude there, so if you see something you like but it doesn’t quite fit the requirements you can show me and I’ll see what we can work out. Does that help?”

He didn’t leave her much range to choose from. What he described came close to the Facility uniform. It was obvious now why he rejected every single dress she had. “Yes, sir, I think I have a clear idea about what you wish to see. I assume I should pick belts to go with the skirts?” Maybe she could add a little color that way.

He didn’t answer immediately, which she now anticipated. He liked to think through his answers before explaining. Jamie thought it was a simple question, one he’d approve at once. Instead he stood next to her, obviously considering some detail she’d missed. “Yes, you can add a belt, but I want half the belts to be wide, and they should fit through loops on some of the skirt. Otherwise you can pick out whatever you like.”

What did he have in mind? His stipulation on belt size was puzzling, especially the belt loops. Since he chose not to elaborate she assumed he’d tell her why eventually, but not today. That was one more little trick she’d learned at the Facility, don’t push if he’s holding back. She’d rather know more than less, but it wasn’t up to her.

Out to Dinner

Jamie came out of the bedroom wearing the dark skirt and white blouse he had picked for her. It wouldn’t have been her first choice but he had been very specific. There were times he asked her opinion, but when he didn’t she had no leeway to offer suggestions or ask questions. He had a certain way of phrasing things, stating instructions as if it were an accomplished fact. So tonight would be the basic black and white. They were going out to dinner, their first evening together in town.

After only a week Jamie was still learning to pick up the subtle cues from her new master. When he immediately stopped her at the bedroom doorway her first reaction was anxiety, that either he didn’t like the new outfit, or she had done something else that didn’t meet his approval. She became more worried by the second when he didn’t say anything as he stood in front of her, hands on her shoulders. She looked up at him, waiting to see what he wanted.

“Very nice, I like it!” He took his time with her, holding her at arm’s length, his eyes sweeping up and down. “You’ll turn a few heads tonight. Just so you know, normally I’d let you pick out what you wear. I trust your fashion sense more than mine. Tonight though, this is what I want to see.”

Embarrassed she looked down, but his words were reassuring. “Thank you, sir.” She spotted a small cardboard box on the hallway table behind him. It hadn’t been there when she went into the bedroom to get ready.

Dave noticed her looking at the box. “Jamie, I’m sure you’re aware of the Island laws about collared women out in public after dark and the curfew?” He let go of her shoulders and turned to the side so he could pick up the box. “These are for you.”

She knew exactly what was in the box. In matters pertaining to women the laws were extremely one-sided, and not in her favor. If anyone ever argued the Island wasn’t wholly a male-dominated society one only had to look at the curfew system to dispel all doubt. Her initial encounter with its requirements had been with Joe, her first master. Then there had been the rare trips to town while at the Facility. Now it was up to her new owner to enforce one of the more difficult aspects of Island life.

The men who had founded the modern Island society and established its culture didn’t hesitate to impose regulations that would have been considered barbaric anywhere else. As a submissive female her place was clear and unambiguous, at the bottom of the social order. There were moments when she almost forgot she was literally a man’s property. And then there were moments, like now, when her status became all too real.

Opening the box he took out what looked like a tangle of handcuffs and chains at first. Once he straightened them out she could see it was a set of what were called transport chains. At the Facility they had been trained in how to wear them, in anticipation of nights like this. It consisted of a pair of handcuffs which were attached to the center of a length of chain. That length of chain went around her waist and fastened behind her back, snugly anchoring the cuffs in place. There was a set of matching leg irons for her ankles, with a connecting chain reaching from the center up to the handcuffs. Once she was locked in she would be helpless, barely able to walk, hands held close in front with very little movement. When she was restrained that way anyone could easily control her, which fit both the letter and intent behind the law.

“Now then, hands behind your head. We’ll start with the waist chain.” he ordered. Immediately she placed both hands at the back of her neck, above her collar. Jaime held still, not moving. It was important that she not interfere while he secured her. She felt him pull the chain tight around her waist, centering the cuffs in front. The click of the padlock at her side would place it out of reach of her hands, once they were bound by the handcuffs in front.

Taking a deep breath she decided to go ahead with her plan. She’d been working on it all day after she found out they were going to dinner. She had rehearsed the exact wording so he wouldn’t misunderstand. “Sir? I apologize for asking, but may I make a suggestion?” Jamie had to be very careful in how she explained her idea. If he didn’t like it, or even worse misread her intent, she could be in serious trouble.

Dave was astonished she would interrupt him. He found it hard to believe she would try to stop him from placing her in the restraints. She knew the law. “Go ahead, but you better have a good reason.” He took a step back, his hand still grasping the waist chain.

“Yes, sir, I hope you will like it. At the Facility we were handcuffed with our wrists in front. Of course I don’t object to this, but may I suggest you put the waist chain on the other way, with the cuffs in the back? That way it’s more difficult for me to use my hands.” She waited, hoping he wouldn’t get angry. If she got this wrong there was a very good chance the night dining out would become a nightmare in the basement.

Letting go of the waist chain he came around to face her. “The reason it isn’t done that way is the additional strain it puts on your shoulders. It’s generally considered to be a hardship to be cuffed that way for any length of time.” Dave thought about it. “It could hurt after a while. Are you sure you want to go out with your arms pinned back that way?”

Jamie was ready with her answer. “Yes, sir, I do want to try it, if you find it acceptable. I know about the stress, and if I had to wear the cuffs for several hours in that manner I’d be concerned. But if it’s not for too long I’m sure I can do it.” She paused to see if he would stop her. Since he said nothing she continued.

“Remember the interview, when you asked for my cooperation? I knew you would eventually take me out some evening, and what I would face at that time. We were taught the spirit of the law was to make sure I would be forced to count on you. The way I see it, sir, with my hands behind my back there’s very little I can accomplish without your assistance. And sir, you also have a more, umm, unobstructed access to me from the front.” Jamie lowered her eyes, well aware she was openly inviting him to use her sexually.

Dave reached out to stroke her cheek. “You can be very persuasive, did you know that? Okay, we’ll see how it works out for tonight, but given the special circumstances you will tell me if your arms or shoulders begin to ache, or if you have any circulation problems in your hands. Hold still while I slide the waist chain around.” He unlocked the chain, pulled it around her waist and tightened it again, this time with the padlock in front.

“Right hand,” he ordered, wrapping his hand around her right wrist and pulling her arm behind her back. She heard the clicks of the handcuff ratchet as he closed it around her wrist. “And now the left hand,” he told her, repeating the same procedure. She felt his fingers as he tested the fit, making sure the cuffs weren’t too tight, or too loose. Satisfied, he double locked the handcuffs so they wouldn’t tighten further.

“There, that should keep your hands occupied.” Jamie took that as a cue to check for herself. He got it right; she couldn’t slip out of them, and her wrists were held close to the small of her back. Brushing her fingers across the front of the cuffs she verified the keyhole faced the other way. Even if she somehow got hold of a key it would be that much more difficult to open the cuffs. Those small details were important to Jamie, a kind of reassurance in the way he took extra care with her.

“Now spread your legs,” he ordered. Jamie quickly widened her stance to about what she estimated would be the limits of the leg chains. The click of the leg cuffs closing around her ankles was loud. “There, that should satisfy the legal requirements.” She felt him take up the slack in the connecting chain between her waist and the leg chain. Another click from a padlock would keep it short enough that her leg chain didn’t drag on the ground.

“Turn around to face me.” Carefully Jamie turned back to her master. He stepped back and looked her over. “Unless there’s something else I think we’re ready to go. Any problems?”

With one last tug on the cuffs around her wrists Jamie wondered if she would regret her suggestion an hour from now, but for the moment she was elated that he not only listened to but actually implemented her idea. “Sir, if I might ask one more question?” At his nod she turned to one side, so he could see her hands. “Do you think one pair of handcuffs is sufficient? I’m sure there’s room to add your heavy duty cuffs too.”

Dave studied her face, trying to decide if she was serious. “Can you free your hands?” If she could it would be an impressive feat, since he was positive she didn’t have any hidden keys or lock pick tools.

Jamie shook her head. “No sir, I can’t. I didn’t mean to imply I might escape. I only thought you might prefer a little more in the way of security.”

Moving quickly he grabbed her arm, pulled her out of the bedroom doorway into the hall and spun her around to face the wall. Close behind her he pinned her against the wall with his weight. He leaned in close, to whisper in her ear. “You like this, don’t you?” Before Jamie could reply he continued, “No, don’t answer, just listen to me. I think you want me to put you in handcuffs. Fortunately for you I enjoy seeing you wearing chains. To answer your question, no, one pair will not be enough, since you brought up the subject.”

He kept one hand on her back, holding her in place. With his other hand he reached behind his back to the holder on his belt. It didn’t take long to add the heavy duty cuffs above her already bound wrists. “There,” he whispered in her ear again, “I’m satisfied you won’t be able to raise any objections if I….” He reached down and slipped a hand under her skirt, between her legs.

Her gasp when he touched her, and the sudden jerk on the cuffs, told him what he already suspected. Being vulnerable and powerless was a turn on for her. He leaned down, his lips close to her ear. “You can’t fight me, you can’t run away, and you don’t have the keys to free yourself. There’s no one coming to rescue you. Whatever happens next is entirely up to me. Your only protection lies in submission to my will.” His voice was so soft she could barely hear him. With all her strength she struggled against her bonds. Even as she tried she knew she could never be free of her master’s control.

With his hands on her arms he turned her around to face him. He was very close, forcing her back against the wall. With one hand he curled his fingers under her collar, pulling it tight against the back of her neck. “This,” he pulled the collar up, forcing her to look at him, “is your world now. Tonight you will show everyone who you are. And you will get it right.” His emphasis on that word wasn’t lost on Jamie. “I expect it, and so does everyone else. Never forget who you are.”

He stepped back and took hold of her arm. “We have reservations. It wouldn’t do to be late. Is there anything else?”

“No, sir, I’m ready,” Jamie replied in a soft voice, overwhelmed by her need to be picture-perfect for the man standing before her. He held her upper arm, firmly but not painfully. She started to walk toward the front door, letting him guide her with his grip. The chain between her ankles was shorter than what she was used to, slowing her down. With her arms behind her back she felt off balance, as if she was about to trip and fall. She looked up at her master and relaxed. He would catch her if she did slip. After all, he had to take care of her now.

On the Floor

“Come here, Jamie.” She immediately put down her book and stood up. “What we’re going to do next will be difficult for you. Before we start I want you to know you are not being punished, though it may seem that way. This is something I’ve looked forward to for some time. I want you to work with me, and I’ll be with you at every step, explaining why it’s necessary.”

Jamie had an uneasy feeling what was coming might be strenuous, even painful. The serious look on his face confirmed her fears. Despite her misgivings she couldn’t refuse. “You know best, sir. What should I do first?”

“Remove your clothes, all of them. And take off your earrings. Put everything in the bedroom.” She didn’t hesitate. The skirt came off, followed by the blouse and her underwear. The earrings were last, the only jewelry she was allowed to wear. Gathering the bundle from the floor she took them into the bedroom and placed them on the bed. The earrings went on her dresser. There were no shoes; she needed his approval for that and then only if they were going outside.

Finished, she turned to face him, standing in the doorway. “You do not have permission to speak. We’re going down to the basement,” he told her. Dressed now in nothing more than her collar Jaime followed as he took her hand to lead her downstairs.

When she saw the equipment lined up to one side of the main room his intentions became clear. There was an assortment of restraints: handcuffs, leg chains, and she saw a gag. She knew she would soon experience firsthand how well they worked.

“Lie down here,” he pointed to a mat on the floor. “On your stomach, hands behind your back, legs together, head to one side, facing me.” Jaime knelt down before stretching out on the mat. She kept her legs straight, close together, and placed her hands in the small of her back. In position she turned her head to face him.

He crouched down, next to her. Picking up one of the odd looking handcuffs he held it up for her to examine. It was solid, no connecting chain. “This is an old style handcuff, called an Irish Eight Darby. It clamps your wrists close together. The wide cuff reduces the strain so they don’t cut into your skin.” He inserted a key, turning it until the two cuff bows fell open. Reaching over her he placed her wrists in the shackles and closed them. She felt him do something with the key. Her wrists were held close together, the palms of her hands almost touching. “They won’t tighten any further but let me know if you start to feel any numbness.”

He turned back to his prepared equipment and picked up a larger version of the same type of handcuff. He held it up for her to see. “Same principle for these, except they go around your ankles.” He bent over her legs, placing each of her ankles in the cuffs. Once again she felt him do something with the key. “There, that should hold you. Now, I want you to check to make sure you can’t get them off.”

He waited while Jaime struggled to free her hands. She pulled against the sides, trying to force them open. The locks were sturdy. She tried to slip a wrist through the cuff but there wasn’t enough room. Next she tried her ankles. Like her wrists they were secure. She wasn’t going anywhere until he freed her.

He brushed the hair out of her face. “I assume you can’t get them off?” Since he had forbidden her to speak Jamie had to shake her head. “Good. I was sure they’d fit properly. This was the easy part. What comes next will be uncomfortable, might even hurt, but you must get through it. Are you ready? You may speak, but only to answer my questions.”

She still had no idea what else he would do to her. Bound hand and foot she could offer no resistance, although she would never try to stop him. This time he picked up a familiar set of handcuffs, with a short connecting chain. “You know what these are. You wore them our first day together. They have other uses too. Let me show you.”

He opened one end of the cuff and closed it around the body of the rigid cuff between her wrists. Holding on the other end of the cuff with one hand he grabbed hold of her ankles. Slowly he pulled up her legs. She knew exactly what he was doing. Reluctantly she bent her legs as much as she could. It wasn’t quite enough but he used his strength to pull her wrists and ankles together, closing the other cuff around the shackle on her ankles.

The strain started immediately. She had to arch her back to relieve the pressure on her shoulders, but it didn’t help the tension in her legs. Jamie closed her eyes, trying to endure the growing discomfort.

Dave rested a hand on her shoulder. “This is called a hogtie. I’m told it’s extremely unpleasant, physically and mentally, in part because the victim is so helpless. What do you think?”

His tone was calm, almost like he was a doctor examining her. Jamie opened her eyes, looking up at him. She grabbed at her feet in a futile effort to somehow free herself. “It feels like I’m being pulled apart, sir. Right now I’d do anything to persuade you to release me. With these restraints on a three year old child could easily overpower me. I can’t move and I can’t escape. So yes, sir, if you want to see me helpless this is the way to do it.” She closed her eyes again, trying to remain calm and not panic.

He tested the tension on the handcuffs holding her wrists to her ankles. “I can see it’s effective. From your point of view, what would intensify the experience?” Jamie couldn’t believe what she was hearing. He actually wanted her advice on how to make it worse.

It was hard to focus on anything other than the growing pain wracking her body. “Sir, if I were isolated, unable to speak or see, locked in a cage or chained to the floor, left alone, I’d be close to panic. Knowing it would go on and on, no one there to eventually let me go, I don’t know how I could handle it.” She had to stop, trying once again to arch her back to relieve the strain. It didn’t help.

How many times had he told her he needed her active cooperation, how they should work together? Jamie never thought it meant she’d be helping him torture her. Still, she couldn’t bring herself to break her promise. “Beyond being vulnerable and helpless sir, it’s the sense of despair, knowing there’s no one nearby who might help me. No end in sight, the strain never ceases…”

She stopped when she felt his hand on her ankles. A moment later she was free of the hogtie. Jamie stretched out her legs, enjoying the relief. Her wrists and ankles were still bound together but she didn’t even notice.

“Is that better?” he asked. He massaged her shoulders with his hands.

“Yes, sir, a thousand times better.” She closed her eyes again, loving the feel of his hands on her back.

He leaned close, whispering in her ear. “No other woman would have the presence of mind to answer my question under those conditions. That’s what makes you so special. That’s why I own you. And it’s why I will keep you forever.”

His words made it all worthwhile. She had to do more for him. “Sir? I see you have a gag over there. If you wish we can do the hogtie again, with the extras. I’m ready.”

That caught him off guard. She wanted to try out her own advice. He picked up the gag. “Okay then, open wide.”

In went the gag, filling her mouth. He tightened the straps around and over her head, anchoring it firmly. She tried to push it out with her tongue, without any hope of success. “Try counting from one to five,” he ordered.

What came out was a garbled mess. The gag was remarkably effective in silencing her. “Okay, yell as loudly as you can. Call for help.” While he spoke he ran a finger down her spine. Jaime screamed into the gag but again it was effectively muffled.

“Huh, I didn’t expect it to work so well.” That fingertip was now running down one leg. Jamie closed her eyes, following in her mind’s eye his progress over her body. “You have my permission to speak freely. Make as much noise as you like.” From the smile on his face she could tell he was well aware she could do no such thing. With that gag in her mouth the best she could manage was an unintelligible grunt.

When he picked up the loose cuff next to her hands she knew exactly what he intended. Bending her legs back as far as possible she tried to help as best she could. He pushed her ankles closer, until he could close the cuff again. Once more she was bent into a pretzel.

The pain started, but this time she couldn’t even beg for her release. He picked up the leather hood, holding it up for her to see. “Now, I could put this on you and go upstairs for a while, to give you some quiet time to think.”

The last thing she wanted was some quiet time, or for him to leave her alone. She closed her eyes, waiting for him to slip the hood over her head. It was one thing to be so helpless yet knowing he was there, at her side. It was another to be all alone, with no one to watch over her.

When she felt his hand slowly run from her knee to her ankle she opened her eyes in surprise. “I think you have it right. Despair, fear, uncertainty, being left alone would make it worse.” He leaned down to look at her face. “I don’t think we’ll use the hood. And I’m not going to leave you, Jamie.” He sat up, next to her, his arms wrapped around his legs. “I admit I thought about it, using that hood.” He looked down at her. “But I want to see your face, and I want you to know I’m here, next to you.”

Reaching over he ran a hand along her arm, to her bound wrists. “Did you know you are very attractive, like this? I can’t seem to keep my hands off you.” His fingertips stopped at the small of her back. “I’ve dreamt of this moment, seeing a woman, a woman I own, stretched out like you. I appreciate this may not be the most pleasant moment for you, but for me it’s a wish fulfilled.” She didn’t say it but thought if their positions were reversed he might have a different opinion.

He stood up and started walking around her, lying on the floor. She was able to turn her head to the left and right to see him as he circled her. “You didn’t ask me to let you go. Maybe you knew it wouldn’t happen, or perhaps you understood this was important to me.” He dropped down to his knees again. “I want you to know you got it right. I would have been disappointed if you had spoken up. And no, I wouldn’t have let you go.”

Stroking her cheek he continued, “Why did I do this to you? I know it’s unpleasant, but that’s not why you are trussed up like this.” He ran his fingers down her spine again. “First of all, you belong to me; I will use you as I see fit, and I won’t apologize for it. You need to know I put you in this position because I wanted you to feel what it’s like to be immobilized, knowing I’m the only one who can release you. That’s physical dependency. But it’s not enough; I need more.”

He traced a finger around the cuffs on her wrists. “What I need from you is to be just as helpless in your head, as you are now in your body. That’s one reason why I impose rules and restrictions on you. My intention is that every minute of every day your thoughts are dominated by me. You must ask yourself, constantly, am I allowed to do this? Do I need permission? Am I outside my limits? What have I been told to do? Am I behaving as my master expects of me?”

He used both hands to massage her neck and shoulders. “The answers to those questions are essential to your happiness. You will be mentally incapable of disobeying me just as you now are physically unable to move. You need me to be here, next to you, inside your head, guiding and controlling you, telling you not only what to do but how to think, how to see yourself.”

He started to stroke her hair, pulling it away from her face. “Do this for me, Jamie, and I promise you I will always be there to for you. You will never be abandoned again. The two of us, we are made for each other.”

Suddenly she felt the handcuffs holding her in position being unlocked. Relieved, she stretched out her legs again. This time he removed the other end where it was locked around her wrist shackle. She hoped that meant he wouldn’t put her in the hogtie position again. He did leave her wrists and ankles in the restraints. “Would you like me to take off the gag?”

Jamie nodded, hoping he would remove it from her mouth. It was stressful and had a bad taste. Worst of all it made her drool.

“I thought so. I certainly wouldn’t want to wear something like that.” He made no move to remove the gag. Instead he stroked her hair, pulling it away from her face. “No, I don’t think I’d ever want to trade places with you. Wouldn’t that be ridiculous?”

It might be only a rhetorical question about the gag but she still nodded in agreement anyway. There was so much she wanted to say. The touch of his hand on her back was electric. In vain she tried to pull her wrists apart, but the steel of the shackles did not yield.

He rolled her over on her side, facing away from him. She felt the straps come loose before he pulled out the gag from her mouth. She started to thank him but stopped before a single word got out. Do I have permission to speak? Jamie tried to remember if he had forbidden her to talk, before he put in that awful gag. She couldn’t remember, so she remained silent. Better to err on the side of caution.

She watched him walk over to a corner of the room and pick up a chair. He brought it back and put it down in front of her. “Let’s see if you can sit up.” Putting his hands under her arms he lifted her up to a kneeling position on the mat.

“We’ll spare your knees on the bare floor.” While lowering her down he told her what he wanted. “Kneel in position, sit back on your heels, back straight, head up, legs together, and look straight ahead. You do not have permission to speak unless it’s necessary.”

That settled her gag argument. She sat back on her heels, being careful to keep her feet together, her arms centered behind her back and her hands slightly apart, fingers extended. When he wanted a set position he had little tolerance for any mistakes. That much she knew from the first moment they met. And it explained why the Facility training stressed the very same thing. She stared at the empty chair. Once she was settled he let go of her.

When he sat down Jamie raised her eyes to look directly at him. Even though sore muscles protested she faced him proudly, holding position as he ordered. She knew she had it right; he would have to work hard to find any fault on her part.

He looked her up and down, checking every detail. Satisfied, he nodded in approval. “You do that so well.” He reached out a hand to caress her breast. “I’m very tempted to put you on your back right this moment, but we have other matters to address first.” Reluctantly he drew back. There would be time for that later on. A grin crossed his face. After all, he thought, she isn’t going anywhere.

“I’m going to explain to you how it is we are here today, how we were brought together. The Facility Director and I are casual acquaintances. Over the past few years we’ve had some friendly but spirited discussions on the subject of owning a woman outright, women like you, where there are no legal limitations. You might guess that we have widely different viewpoints. I can tell you that, under normal circumstances, he would never let me near anyone at the Facility. He never once invited me to visit, until you were placed in his custody.”

This was a shock to Jamie. The Facility’s reputation was based on acting in the best interests of the trainees. If the Director thought this man was a danger, she thought, why am I wearing his collar?

“You see, you presented a special problem. As time went by and the Facility staff learned more about you Clancy began to doubt his normal procedures would work. His own people opposed him, believing that any number of prospects would suit you. I’m told his wife, your Mrs. Yates, was totally opposed to my presence. He disagreed, vetoing their recommendations. That’s when he called me, asked to meet, and told me of his dilemma.”

Jamie knew nothing about any of this. She was puzzled. Why had the Director singled her out? She didn’t consider herself any different compared to the other trainees she had met going through the Facility program.

He continued. “The result of that conversation was an invitation to come to the Facility and learn about you, Jamie. I had some reservations about it, but he was a friend so I went, mostly out of curiosity. I can tell you the reception from the rest of the staff was chilly. It seems my reputation had preceded me, thanks to Clancy.

“I looked at your records, watched you on the surveillance cameras. At first I wasn’t quite clear on why Clancy wanted to show you to me. I didn’t know what to look for, until he started explaining.”

She and the other trainees often speculated about the presence of hidden cameras. Jamie never found them. There were some odd coincidences but never any real proof they existed. Now she knew they had all been watched constantly.

“After that I understood why Clancy had so much trouble placing you. The Facility has a certain reputation for the type of women they match, as you know. That very reputation tends to limit the sort of man who comes to them. Clancy’s problem? That’s not the optimal master who would fit in with your rather unusual needs. He had to admit I was the only candidate he could find.”

It was all she could do to contain herself. What were her unusual needs? His explanation was raising more questions than answers. Hidden behind her back she clenched her fists in frustration. When would he let her talk?

He paused, scrutinizing her for any change in her kneeling position. She did have remarkable self-control. He held up a hand. “Be patient. I can see you’re bursting with questions. I think I can answer most of them.

“Why couldn’t he find someone for you? Because what you need is someone who treats you as his property first and companion second. Your master must be demanding, constantly testing your abilities. He must enforce discipline, to remind you of the cost of disobedience. If he truly cares for you he will show no leniency, no tolerance for laziness or a bad attitude. Most of all he must understand your self-esteem, your pride, stems from your unconditional loyalty and submission to your master’s will. The smallest hint of defiance, of disobedience of any kind, must be dealt with immediately, in the harshest possible terms. There are to be no excuses, no soft-hearted indulgences. Respect for authority and your rules are essential; correction must be swift and sure for any lapses.”

Jamie didn’t find anything odd in what he told her. Any Facility trainee would expect no less from her master. He was right; she fully expected him to see to it she behaved in a proper way, the way he defined for her, and to do whatever he thought was necessary to keep her in line. She often thought of it as a delicate balance: on his side to be dominant, to punish her if needed; and on her side to be submissive, to never put him in a situation where physically disciplining her was required. It was that tightrope over the Grand Canyon; keep on the straight and narrow or suffer the consequences.

He continued, “And most important of all, your master must be a man who demands nothing less than complete power over every aspect of your life. That’s why I stress the importance in how I make you dependent on me. Obeying me isn’t a choice; it must be a necessity for your own happiness.” He reached out and encircled her throat with his large, powerful hands.

“Your life is in my hands. Literally, at this moment your existence depends on me letting you live. Your very survival depends on pleasing me.” He let go of her neck and leaned back in his chair. “That’s the kind of master I am. I will possess you, body and soul, and you know you can’t, and won’t, oppose me. That’s why Clancy had to turn to me, for your own good.”

Jamie stared at him. Her first reaction was denial. I’m no different than any of the others back at the Facility, she thought to herself. She wanted to reject everything he said, but something held her back. His eyes locked on to hers, holding her rigid. She couldn’t turn away, or even move a muscle. All she could think about were his hands around her neck, and how he could so easily squeeze the life out of her. Raw power like that excited and aroused her. At that moment she realized he truly had gotten into her head. There was a mix of emotions: fear that she might fail to please him; worry about how far he might go to punish her; but most of all determination and the need to prove she would never defy him.

“Frustrating, isn’t it, not being able to speak? I can imagine you’d like nothing more than to say something right now. If you do, the least of your worries will be the gag you’ll wear the rest of the night. You need to learn, right now, that what you want comes second. What I want, from you, always comes first. Fail to obey me in this,” he leaned in close to her, eye to eye, “and all you’ve worked for at the Facility will be for nothing.”

He started again. “You may not be aware of it, but you are subject to far more restrictive rules compared to the other Facility graduates. Over time, as two people grow together, there’s a tendency to accommodate each other, to overlook the small details. It’s a natural process.

“That’s not going to happen with us. Ten years from now, if I catch you sitting with your hands out of position, or you fail to address me properly, the cost to you will be just as severe as if it happens tomorrow. If you think I’m bluffing about punishment, the first time I’m not satisfied with you it will be solitary confinement. I have a room,” he pointed to a closed door in one corner, “set up for it. And it is close confinement, none of the usual amenities.”

She turned to look at the door as he pointed. Up to now she assumed it was a storage closet. He had placed it off limits so she’d never looked inside. He had mentioned she would be punished several time, but since Jaime had done her best not to give him a reason he had never carried through on the implied threat. Suddenly it was all too real; he wasn’t just trying to scare her.


Jamie knelt on the cushion, hands clasped behind her neck. Her arms were held wide apart, legs spread open, displaying her body at his command. All she had to go on was his announcement that there was some good news for her, before he summarily ordered her to strip and kneel before him. Dave sat down, facing her. He took his time, looking her up and down, as always searching for any flaw in her presentation. She met his eyes confidently, knowing he would find no cause to criticize her.

Satisfied, he began. “The news I mentioned? You’ve done so well I’m going to allow you to use your travel permit and your debit card. That means you can leave the house, on your own, during the day. However there will be some restrictions.”

There were always restrictions, Jamie told herself. If not then he wouldn’t be doing his job. She knew Island law required any collared female to carry a travel permit if unescorted. The permit was only good during the day. It had numerous limits but even so, it meant she’d be able to leave the house on her own for a few hours.

“Your permit is registered as restricted use. That means you have to be home earlier, by 4pm, and you may not leave until later, after 10am, and there are fewer places you can visit. There’s a map that will show you the areas of town where you can go. The rest are off limits. You have to be careful not to drive through the prohibited areas, and you must stay within the city limits. You’ve been taught about checking the signs at the store entrance, to see if you can enter by yourself? Make sure a restricted pass is allowed. I will not be happy if I get reports of violations, even if by accident.”

Mrs. Yates had been the one who lectured them on the procedures for being out on their own. In her case it was from firsthand experience, which had quickly caught Jamie’s attention. Unless a store had a sign or sticker on the window indicating unescorted, collared women were allowed in she couldn’t enter unless accompanied by a man. Once inside there was a card reader for the travel permit. It had to be scanned entering and leaving, and it wasn’t optional.

“I’m also going to let you use a phone. You will be required to text me when you leave home, and when you arrive at your destination. I want to know exactly where you are at all times.” He didn’t mention the scanner in the car which would recognize her card as soon as she sat down in the driver seat. Or that he’d have a record of not only her time while in the car but a log tracking her position while the car was moving. If her text messages didn’t match she’d have to answer some tough questions.

The reporting requirement didn’t surprise Jamie. By now she understood that he must be able to pinpoint her location at any time. Even more important he would have the means to make sure she was following his instructions. She had no intention of ever violating them, but it was his obligation to her to do whatever he thought necessary to ensure she complied. Any temptation to break the rules was tempered by the knowledge she was sure to be caught at it.

A shared approach, Jamie reminded herself. The limits didn’t bother her, even though it meant extra effort. Jaime had to make sure he could meet his obligation to watch over her. After so long at the Facility the thought of being out on her own brought with it a small amount of anxiety; knowing he would be checking her every move was reassuring. Even if he wasn’t with her he’d still be supervising, governing her choices, making sure she kept to his framework. Any doubts, all he had to do was call her, tell her to stop what she was doing and return home.

It meant there was no place for laziness or procrastination either. In the past she’d had problems with both. That ended abruptly at the Facility. Considering the way her new master tracked her so closely there wouldn’t be an opportunity for bad habits to return.

Her biggest fear now was that she would disappoint him, or even worse lose his trust in her. Not intentionally but by some stupid mistake. Mrs. Yates was right. She had become her own worst critic. Her new master was everything Jamie could have ever wished for. She desperately wanted to be the ideal for him: diligent, obedient, pleasing, attentive and ready to follow him anywhere he chose to lead. The last thing she wanted to happen was to wind up kneeling in front of him, begging for forgiveness because she failed him. Now that she would be allowed out on her own she had to be even more vigilant about her behavior.

When he continued she turned her attention back to him. “If it’s practical you should tell me in advance where you plan to go. But I’m pragmatic about that, so if there’s a change in plans you should use the phone to text me. What’s important is that you make sure I’m always aware of what you’re doing. You do have to watch the curfew, so make sure you have plenty of time to get home in the afternoon. Don’t ever step out of that front door before 10am either. Island law is strict on curfews; I don’t have any leeway on changing the times. If you’re caught out after hours the police will arrest you, and then matters are beyond my control. I enabled the clock on the phone during the day so you can keep track of the time.” Jamie was glad to hear that particular item. She was forbidden to wear a watch, which often made it difficult to know the time of day. After curfew she turned her phone over to Dave so she didn’t have to worry about charging the phone at night.

Knowing how strict he was Jamie was surprised he allowed her some freedom in changing plans. But even the best preparation didn’t anticipate the unexpected. A traffic jam, closed store, anything could cause delays. She would have to think carefully if something did come up, to make sure any changes would be in line with what he would normally allow.

With that thought Jamie stopped to reflect. Wow, he really is getting into my head. Here I am trying to predict what he would tell me to do if the unexpected popped up. Am I losing my own identity? Do I even care if that’s happening?

Jamie finally had a mobile phone, but it wasn’t like any she’d had in the past. After curfew started it immediately turned off, and wouldn’t come back on until her master entered his unlocking code the next day. It was a good way to ensure she remembered to hand it over. In effect she had to ask him for permission to use it every morning. There were a few apps installed on it, selected by her master, and she couldn’t change their settings. Nor could she delete them or add new ones; only he could do that. She didn’t ask but she assumed he saw every text and email that passed through it.

“I’m going to transfer a balance to your debit card, so you can do some shopping and stop for lunch. You will let me know before you go if you have some specific purchase in mind, but I’ll let you choose how to use it. Keep in mind I will review every item on the card.” He didn’t add anything more but she understood the implication. Misuse it and he’d take the card away. Pointedly he didn’t tell her how much he had added to her spending balance; Jamie didn’t ask.

She did see one problem. “Sir? What if I want to get you a present, for Christmas, or your birthday? If I may, I’d like to surprise you.”

As usual he didn’t answer right away. She could tell he was debating the pros and cons in his head. Finally he came to a conclusion. “This is what we will do. You will tell me what dates I should skip, and I won’t review those days right away. I’ll trust you Jamie, but you must keep it to a minimum. There will be only two exceptions to start, the days you asked about. You will tell me in advance if I should skip a day, but if there’s something you see while out you can text me and ask for permission immediately.”

“Yes, sir, that will work.” She would have to be careful about planning her day but she could work within his boundaries. It had been a long time since she last visited a store on her own. Without thinking she reached up to push away a strand of hair from her face.

His reaction was immediate and jarring. “Get those hands back in place!” he ordered in a harsh tone. “I didn’t give you permission to break position. Knees wider, head up, eyes front, and don’t you dare move your head!”

Jamie instantly straightened up and did as she was told. She had acted without thinking, ignoring his direct order. Distracted by the prospect of some new freedom in the future she had forgotten to focus on the present. She would never have made a mistake like that in class, especially with Mrs. Yates watching. Now she had thrown it all away in seconds by ignoring those small details. She was sure Dave would take away her travel privileges and the phone until she proved she deserved it.

“That’s better,” he told her. “Don’t go careless on me, Jamie. You know better. If I see that again you will answer for it, understand?”

“Yes, sir, it won’t happen again.” She wanted to bang her head against the wall. Stupid, stupid, stupid, that’s what she was. No way would he allow her out on her own now, not if she couldn’t even hold position for a few minutes. She might never see those cards again.

Her hopes of redemption rose when he continued. “Now, I’ll hold onto the cards. I’ll give them to you in the morning if you are going out, before I leave for work. You will return them to me as soon as I get home. You may remind me about them in case I get busy and forget. And Jamie? Remember how important it is, how you must ask me for anything you need or want. If you go shopping I expect to approve most if not all of what you plan to buy the night before.” She anticipated that restriction. She wouldn’t be comfortable buying anything on her own without his approval anyway. There wouldn’t be many impulse buys.

“Sir? What if we go out together, during the day?” She had a good idea of how he would answer, but she wanted to make sure.

“When you are escorted you won’t need your cards or your phone.” By that he meant she had to ask for anything she might want. That made it easy; she wouldn’t have to be concerned about his approval after the fact.

“Of course, sir, that’s what I thought too.” After the curfew her cards weren’t valid so she didn’t have any questions about that particular situation. Any attempt to use the debit card after hours would set off all kinds of alarms. At the very least she’d be detained until the police came. She didn’t want to speculate on what would occur after that.

It seemed like a good time for her to ask him about something she had found online. Jamie had thought about it all afternoon, trying to look at her idea from his perspective. It seemed to fit in well with his request for her cooperation, from that first day they met. “Sir? I’d like to talk about an idea I have. If you permit me I’d like to do a search on the web too. It has to do with you still being in charge when I’m out on my own.”

Intrigued, Dave sat up and leaned forward. “I’m always interested in that particular subject. Go ahead, show me what you have in mind.”

Even though her arms were getting tired she held as still as possible, staring straight ahead. She definitely would not make that mistake again. And now she knew with certainty he would catch the smallest mistake on her part. She would be taking a chance with this next part, especially since he had reprimanded her moments ago.

“Yes, sir. It popped up while I was looking at something else today on a website you had approved for me. May I bring it up for you? I bookmarked it. It would be easier than explaining.” The risk was in how he might misread her request as an excuse to break her position. She wasn’t allowed to even ask to be permitted to move, so if he took it the wrong way she would certainly be punished for disobeying him. But she knew his curiosity would be piqued; with some luck he’d allow her to stand up and go to the computer.

Once more he didn’t answer right away. She began to worry he might get angry. Jamie held her breath, expecting to hear the worst. “Alright, you may stand up.” She could breathe again; he didn’t misunderstand her request after all. He stood up and held out his hands to help her up.

“Go to the computer and open your website. Let’s see what you’ve found.” He followed behind her as she walked over to the desk. “You sit down. I’ll watch from here.” He rested his hands on her shoulders as she sat down and brought up the bookmark.

The moment he saw the picture he leaned down for a better look. “Ahh, I see what you mean. Do you think you can wear one of those for any length of time?” On the screen was a picture of a modern female chastity belt. The hip band was curved to fit above the hips, around the waist, with a triangular center section running between the legs. It was made of metal, lined with medical foam padding, and a lock in front to secure it.

“I won’t know for sure unless I try it, sir, but from what I read online many women wear them for days at a time. You can see how it stays on, where the waistband is too narrow to slip off when it’s locked. Without a key it would have to be cut open. With the center section closed there’s no, ahh, access at all. The slit is sufficient to use the toilet, but too narrow for anything sexual in nature.

“I brought it up tonight, sir, because I thought it would be suitable when I went into town alone. Along with your collar it would be a constant reminder that you were always there with me. I’d feel safer too. As long as I can practice wearing it first I don’t see any problems.”

Jamie waited while he read the description and studied the pictures. She knew it wouldn’t be easy, locked into one of those belts for hours at a time. Or she could be confined in it for days, if he chose not to open the belt. She turned to look at him. That gleam in his eye told Jamie she would soon find out just how difficult it would be.

He leaned down and kissed her. “You did well. Go ahead with the belt. Fill out the form and I’ll approve the order.” He stroked her hair. “Jamie, when I asked for your cooperation I wasn’t sure what to expect. I want you to know how much I appreciate your, well, let’s say enthusiastic collaboration.”

Dave spun around the chair so he could look her in the eye. “The two of us working together; I want you to know how important that is to me. What you’ve done so far is beyond anything I had hoped for.” He took her hands in his. “You’re not just one in a million. To me you are that one in a billion, that rarest of women, one who can be my soulmate.” He pulled her out of the chair and pulled her close in a tight embrace. Jamie could feel the tears, tears of happiness, well up in her eyes as she threw her arms around her one in a billion man.

Try It Out

“We’re going downtown today,” Dave announced at breakfast. Jamie looked up, hoping he’d elaborate with some details on what he planned. “I got an email yesterday, seems a certain item you recently ordered is ready for your fitting.”

At first Jamie couldn’t figure out what he was talking about. Then her eyes widened when she realized he must mean the chastity belt. “Sir, the belt is ready? I thought it would take longer since they’re custom items.”

He shook his head. “No, more like semi-custom. That’s why we have to go in today. The appointment is at 10:30. While we’re on the premises they adjust parts of it to fit your curves. You’ll have to remove your clothes for the fitting, but I’m told the dressing room is private, and I’ll be there with you, of course. You can wear the belt home when they’re finished.”

“Yes, sir, I’ll be ready.” Except, she thought, I’m not ready for it at all. Pictures in the website made it look easy but she suspected the reality would be far more difficult. It had been her idea, so she had no one else to blame. Now she’d have to strip for a room full of strangers and wait while they locked her in steel panties.

When it was time to leave he opened her door and helped her into the car. Once she was seated she held up her arms while he reached in and fastened her seat belt. When he stood back up she immediately placed her hands on her skirt and carefully crossed them, left on top of right.

When he sat down next to her he glanced over and asked, “Nervous?”

She looked down at her lap. “Yes, sir. It’s a little scary, thinking about that belt.”

“Don’t worry,” he assured her, “I’ll be there right alongside you all the way. Any problems and I’ll call a halt immediately.” He backed the car out of the driveway and onto the road.

During the trip she watched the scenery go by outside her window. She would have to take off her clothes for the fitting, but that didn’t bother her as much as it might have a year before. On several occasions she had to bare all at the Facility, often in front of male staff. And for any serious violations of Facility rules the punishment started by taking away their uniforms, often for days at a time. Aside from all that her master had the right to order her to strip anywhere and anytime.

What did concern her was the aftermath, once she had the belt on. Jamie turned away from the car window to look at her master. Would he make her wear it constantly, all during the day and especially all night? The belt had seemed like a good idea at first, something he would like, but now she realized she hadn’t really thought through what might happen once it was in place. The prospect of snuggling up next to her master in bed every night, wearing that thing, didn’t appeal to her at all.

When the car slowed and turned off into a parking lot she assumed they were at the business location. She saw the storefront just as he pulled into a parking spot nearby. “This is it. We’re right on time, so you shouldn’t have to wait.”

As usual she sat in position until he opened her car door. He reached over her arms to release the seat belt. “Let’s go,” he told her, letting her know she could get out. He held out his hand to help her.

He led her to the entrance with his hand behind her back. She immediately spotted the sign on the door, warning that females must be escorted when entering. This was one of those places on the restricted list, where she had to be accompanied by a man. He held open the door for her to go in first.

It was a small place but not crowded. The purpose of the business was obvious from the display cases full of various restraints and collars. Idly she wondered if her own collar had come from the same place. She stood at her master’s side while he spoke to the clerk at the counter. “Dave Greer and Jamie, here for a belt fitting.”

The clerk gestured towards the rear. “Of course, you’re expected. Everything’s ready, if you’ll follow me into the fitting room?”

There wasn’t much to the room when Jamie entered and looked around. There was a chair in one corner, which had to be for her master. The only other furniture in the room was obviously intended for her. It resembled an old fashioned pillory, wooden stocks to hold her hands and neck, except the plank was mounted horizontally on two steel poles bolted to the floor, sliding up or down to adjust for height. At the base another set of stocks would imprison her ankles. The good news was she’d be able to stand up straight.

“It’s necessary for the fitting process that she be temporarily immobilized,” the clerk explained. “We ask that you have her disrobe, there are some hooks on that wall to hang her clothes, and then place her in the frame. When you’re ready we’ll begin.” The clerk left.

Jamie looked to her master. “This has to be done,” he told her. “Remove your clothes, everything, and hang them on the wall. No talking.” That ended any possibility of her trying to convince him to back out.

Reluctantly she reached for the zipper on the side of her skirt. It didn’t take long for the rest of her clothes to come off. Her Facility training took over once she carefully hung her clothes on the hooks. Head high, arms at her side, Jamie stood in front of the pillory, waiting for his next command.

She watched while he adjusted the top section to line up above her shoulders. Satisfied, he opened the latch and gestured for her to come forward. Jamie placed her neck in the cutout first, above her collar, and then her wrists. Right away he closed it and fastened the latch. A quick check proved she couldn’t slip her hands out.

From below she heard the latch on the bottom piece open. Since she couldn’t see he guided each ankle into the cutout before closing it. It held her legs wide apart, which made sense considering what was coming happen next.

The stocks weren’t uncomfortable. Each cutout was padded with soft leather, and from what she could see the wood was finished with a stain and sealed with a poly coating. It had the look of fine furniture, except for its function. “Face forward and don’t try to turn your head,” he ordered. Jamie immediately straightened up and stared at the wall in front of her.

Unable to look behind her back she didn’t see the workman enter with the belt in his hand. She did hear him. “Good morning, my name is Leopold and I’ll be handling the adjustments for the fitting today. If you don’t mind I’d like to bring in an assistant?”

“Of course,” Dave answered. Jamie closed her eyes, resigned to being poked and prodded by two strangers now. She heard someone walk in front of her. When she reluctantly opened her eyes she was surprised to see a young woman quietly standing with her back to the wall.

The woman was also obviously owned, judging by the collar she wore. And that was about all she had on, except for a polished metal chastity belt around her waist with a wide centerpiece between her legs. When their eyes met Jamie noticed a barely perceptible nod of hello.

“We’ll start by checking the waist measurement. As you can see it has to be a snug fit, but not overly tight or it becomes uncomfortable. Too loose and it will chafe as it moves back and forth, plus it might compromise security. It has to be completely over the hips so it will stay in place.”

“What about moving from side to side?” Dave asked.

“That’s not possible since the entire center section is rigid once it’s locked in place.” Jamie felt him wrapping the belt section around her waist. The workman came around to her side, holding the belt closed. “Very close, but it needs a small adjustment. I’ll be right back.” He took the belt off her waist.

“Mila, show our guests what the belt looks like from the back.” The young woman immediately turned to face the wall. “As you can see she has the same two strap version you ordered.” Jamie noticed the two back straps coming down over her buttocks, merging at the bottom where they attached to the centerpiece.

The adjustment must have been minor because the metal worker returned almost immediately. “The belt should be a correct fit. All we need to do is check the cover and you’ll be ready to go.” Jamie felt the band go around her waist again. She could feel a weight pulling down from the back.

“Mila, turn back to face us so she can see what we’re doing.” The woman in front of Jamie immediately turned to face her. “As you can see, the center section goes between the legs, in order to protect the genital area. Let’s see how your shield fits.”

With that he reached between her legs and pulled up the section hanging from the back. The top came up to her waist and slotted into the front of the belt. It was a close fit.

“Yes, that should do nicely. Next comes the locking plate.” He turned to Dave, watching closely from the chair. “This triangular piece fits over the pins, holding it all together. Once it’s in place, just turn the key, like so.” Jamie could feel the shackle of the lock in the cover slide into place as he turned the key. He removed the key and handed it to her master.

“And that’s all there is to it. Due to the narrow waistband,” he took hold of the belt sides and pulled down, “it won’t come off without opening the belt first. Here’s the other key.”

Jamie watched as Dave put both keys in his pocket. “Those are registered locks, so a locksmith won’t make duplicates. If you do need another, you’ll have to come here. We keep the keying information on file, unless you ask us to delete it. Any questions?”

Jamie knew that last wasn’t directed at her. She couldn’t see her belt, but the weight and tightness told her it was there. It was an eerie feeling, knowing she couldn’t take it off.

Dave ran his hands around the waist band first, checking for any pinching. “No, no questions. Fine workmanship, by the way. Did you make this yourself?” His hands stopped at the front, lingered a moment at the lock, and then ran down the edge of the front piece to her legs.

“We make all our fitted products here on the Island. Yes, I’m the head machinist, so I do most of the belts. We have a full machine and carpentry shop, so we can build most anything to order. I’ll leave you to finish here. Please see the clerk outside before you go.” He left, taking the young woman with him.

Dave stood in front of Jamie, looking over the finished product. He reached out to brush a loose strand of hair from her face. “I bet you’d like to get out of that contraption. I mean the stocks, not the belt. You’re going to wear the belt home.” He ran a hand along the waist band.

“Jamie? Before I let you out I want you to know I’m delighted you brought this to my attention. Also, I do understand it’s no small effort you make in wearing it, just for me. I certainly wouldn’t want something like that between my legs all day long. Okay, let’s get you out of those stocks.”

He bent down first, to release the catch freeing her ankles. From behind he opened the top part, freeing her hands and neck. “You have permission to speak. Before you get dressed walk around the room to make sure the fit isn’t interfering. Sit in the chair too.”

Jamie stepped back from the stocks. It was a relief to lower her arms. She turned to her master. “Sir, do you really like it? Do you think the front cover is large enough? Should there be more in the back?” She finally had the chance to look down at the belt. “May I touch it?”

Dave nodded, “Go ahead. And yes I’m satisfied with the front and back. Let me see how well you move in it before you get dressed.”

As instructed Jamie walked around the stocks in a circle. The belt didn’t pinch her skin, but she would never forget it was there. She tried to slip a finger under the waistband, in front. It was a very tight fit. Out of curiosity she tried the front shield too. As with the waist band it fit very snugly against her body. Any type of vaginal sex would be completely blocked while she had the belt on.

The last test was sitting in the chair. That’s when the belt did interfere. She had to sit up straight or it would press into her stomach, and the piece between her legs forced them slightly apart. There would be no slouching, and she’d have to watch out with a short dress on.

“Well, sir, no real change while walking, but I have to be careful while sitting. If it were allowed I’d have some difficulty crossing my legs. May I dress now?”

“Hmm, didn’t think of that but it makes sense. This one time, cross your legs and show me. Then you can put your clothes on.”

His order took Jamie by surprise. Under no circumstances was she allowed to cross her legs, not even her ankles, while sitting down. He was adamant about knees together and both feet on the floor. The same rule applied at the Facility. For the first time in years she crossed her legs, or at least made the attempt. As she expected the bottom of the center section pressed into her thighs, forcing her legs apart. She quickly abandoned the attempt. “I’m sorry but I can’t do it; the belt interferes. And sir, it feels like I’m deliberately being disobedient. My conscience is screaming at me that it’s wrong, that I’m being a bad girl and I know better.”

“Relax, you won’t have to do it again. I shouldn’t have asked, but I did want to see for myself. How about we get out of here and find a nice restaurant for lunch?” When Jamie reached for her skirt she hesitated until he nodded, allowing her to dress. “How about some Thai food, does that sound good?”

A Belt at Lunch

When they walked into the restaurant Jamie was sure everyone was staring at her. She was positive the belt stood out plainly, for all to see, under her skirt. Only common courtesy kept them from laughing and pointing at her. She held on to Dave’s arm, too embarrassed to look up.

Dave could tell Jamie was nervous but he chose to ignore it. From his own inspection he was satisfied the belt did not show. He had assured her there was nothing to be concerned about, but it was obvious she didn’t believe him. A few hours in public would be the best way for her to learn to relax.

The hostess met them as they entered. After a quick glance at Jamie she immediately turned her attention to Dave. “Good afternoon, sir. May I ask how many? And would you prefer a table or booth?”

“A table for two,” Dave answered. The hostess led them to an empty table. Dave pulled out a chair for Jamie. As she sat down she ran her hands under her skirt to make sure it didn’t ride up, and to see if the outline of the belt was showing. The pressure at her waist from the belt compelled her to sit up straight. When Dave sat down facing her Jamie quickly crossed her hands on her lap. The hostess handed him two menus and left.

Before handing her a menu he tried to put her at ease. “Does it feel like everyone is staring at you?”

She looked at him across the table, eyes wide open. “Does it really show, sir? Is it that obvious?”

Dave smiled. “No the belt doesn’t show, so if anyone is staring that’s not the reason. It’s your collar that attracts attention. That particular color isn’t so common. It’s curiosity at seeing a woman who is obviously lifetime status, and most likely from the Facility.”

Jamie had a puzzled look on her face. “Sir? I don’t get it, why should I be someone out of the ordinary?” She could see over his shoulder and to either side; no one had turned around to stare. She couldn’t turn her head unless he allowed her to break position.

He slid one of the menus across the table toward her. “You have permission to relax and look at the menu. You may choose whatever you like. I’ll order for you.” Released from sitting position she reached for the menu.

“Out of the ordinary? Well…how about I have you stand on your chair, lift up your skirt and show everyone your shiny new panties? I’m sure that’s out of the ordinary.” He opened his menu.

Jamie froze. She had to grip the menu tightly to keep her hands from shaking. What scared her was the knowledge he was capable of making her do just that. And if he did she’d have no choice but to do exactly as he dictated.

“Ever have Pad Thai? It’s delicious. I had some once in Phuket, real Thai food and very spicy, not the Americanized restaurant food. I don’t recommend the curry dishes, unless you’ve tried if before. Or any duck dish, they tend to be greasy, with a lot of bones.”

Jamie couldn’t concentrate on the menu. She might regret it but had to ask, “Sir, do you want me to do that, stand on the chair?”

Dave looked up from the menu. “No, I want you to pick out something for lunch.” He put down his menu. “You asked what made you out of the ordinary. The answer is in your reaction. Your first thought wasn’t that I was joking, but that I might seriously tell you to strip down in front of a crowd. Do you see? You knew you’d have to do it. Those women staring at you? They’d never assume I was serious. But you, you can’t say no to me, and that’s what sets you apart. They wonder what it’s like, if they could be you. So, you will sit up straight, as you’ve been taught, the way I expect, and proudly show them how it’s done. You will also pick the appetizer, one of the entrees, and something to drink, before I lose patience and order a big plate of the blandest boiled tofu they have, just for you.”

Jamie stared at her master across the table, unsure of what to say. For one moment she saw his intense, serious face appear before he picked up the menu again. He might not be serious about her standing on the chair, but a plate of tofu for lunch was no idle threat. Quickly she picked up the menu to look for noodle soup.

Special Occasion

One of the new science fiction blockbuster movies was scheduled to premiere on streaming tonight, so Dave declared it to be an in-home date night. Jamie looked forward to date night for many reasons. It was a nice break to have permission to dress up instead of the usual, somewhat drab outfits he dictated during the day. She got to pick out the dress by herself, put on some ear rings and even slip into a matching set of heels indoors. Maybe they weren’t actually going out but it still felt like a special occasion.

Her master got into the spirit of the evening too. He had on a white dress shirt, a tie, and a matching jacket. He could be quite handsome when it suited him to make the effort. Knowing it was for her benefit, that he cared enough to do something special for her, made her feel appreciated.

Nothing rivaled the smell of hot buttered popcorn, except maybe for baking bread. Jamie eyed the bowl of popcorn when Dave came in from the kitchen and placed it on the coffee table in front of the sofa. Movie with popcorn, the two were destined to be linked together for eternity.

She would have offered to make the popcorn except for a few difficulties. The rigid handcuffs clamping her ankles close together ruled out any attempt to walk, or even stand up without the risk of falling. Then there was the matter of the belt. It wasn’t the chastity belt, which she wore since it was mandatory on date nights. It was that other belt, the wide leather one wrapped around her waist, with the locking buckle nestled behind her back, well out of reach. It was out of reach because in the front was a large retaining ring riveted to the front. The chain linking her handcuffed wrists ran through that ring, holding her hands close to her waist.

Dave sat down next to her, very close, and slipped an arm across her shoulders, along the top of the couch. “I’m not sure about this movie. There’s lots of buzz, but that could just be the studio at work. You never know about sequels, though it did have a big budget. If you find yourself falling asleep halfway through let me know so we can look for something else.”

“Yes, sir. Sometimes you have to take a risk and hope for the best.” The movie started with the usual ads for the streaming service, touting how great it was despite content tilted more toward teenage boys that adult couples. It gave Jamie an excuse to concentrate on his hand around her upper arm and the light, feathery touch of his fingertips slowly moving back and forth in a sensual pattern.

She couldn’t explain why being immobilized, chained hand and foot, seemed to enhance those little sexual nuances when he touched her bare skin. From her bound ankles, to the band around her neck, to the steel bracelets on her wrists, and especially to the metal strip running between her legs, everything locked onto her body, they all combined to impose an overpowering sense of vulnerability, combined with aroused lust.

“You can relax, no need to sit in position,” Dave whispered in her ear. He pulled her in close.

“Yes, sir,” she answered. She laid her head on his shoulder. What she did not do is completely break her sitting position. Prim and proper at all times, those words pounded into her head by Mrs. Yates at the Facility would always remain with Jamie. The rules were simple: both feet firmly planted on the floor; legs straight and always, always together, never crossed; and when possible hands in her lap, left crossed over right, precisely lined up. So rigorous were the rules enforced at the Facility that it became ingrained habit. Even if he gave permission for her to ignore those rules Jamie could not help but follow them.

Dave glanced down at Jamie. “You doing okay?”

“I’m fine, sir, but there is one thing.”

Dave hit the pause on the movie. “What’s wrong, cuffs too tight?”

“No, sir. I am concerned about this.” She lifted up her hands as far as possible, to the limit of the transport belt. “You only used one set of handcuffs. Wouldn’t it be more secure if you added a second pair? Double the pleasure, double the fun?”

“You know, I get this impression you want to be loaded down with lots and lots of steel jewelry. Now I don’t mind the extra work, but are you sure it’s what you want? Bear in mind, cuffs are easy to put on, not so easy to take off.”

“I count on it, sir. Yes, I can’t explain why but I do love the feel of cold, hard steel that’s locked on to my body, providing you hold onto the keys.”

Out the Door

Jamie was in the kitchen sorting through the sacks while Dave brought in the groceries. When he finished she heard him rummaging around in the living room. As soon as she had all the perishables put away she walked over to the doorway. “Did you lose something, sir?”

Dave stopped and looked around. “I can’t seem to find my tablet. I know I had it before we left, but now it’s disappeared.” He went into his office to continue searching.

Jamie walked out into the hallway, trying to retrace their steps when she last saw it. He’d had it in his hand when they went out the door…

“Sir?” she called out. “I know where it is. You left it in the car. I’ll go get it.” Jamie went to the front door, opened it, and walked out to the car in the driveway. There it was, in the back seat. She opened the car door, picked up the tablet and headed back to the house.

When she came in through the open front door Dave was standing in the hallway, staring at her with a grim expression. Sensing something was wrong Jamie stopped where she was.

“What are you doing?” he asked in an icy cold tone of voice.

“I got your tablet out of the car…” and then she realized what had happened. The car was in the driveway, not the garage. She’d left the house without permission. She stood in the doorway, transfixed by the enormity of what she’d done. This was no minor mistake; Jamie knew she had violated one of the cardinal rules laid down for her. Outside of a real emergency, on the order of a house fire or other imminent danger, she must never leave the house without permission. One step out the door broke that rule; she had gone all the way to the car.

From the look on his face she could tell he was angry. And rightly so, she had violated his trust, right in front of him. Jaime had no excuse to offer, except for extreme stupidity. Physical boundaries imposed by their owners were sacrosanct, that’s what Mrs. Yates would tell them over and over. Since the first day she had arrived at the Facility that had been one of the lessons taught to all trainees, never go beyond what was allowed. That meant never walking past the outside door without permission during the day, and never leave unescorted after curfew. Jamie remembered how amazed she was when Mrs. Yates, for all her exalted status as head instructor, explained to them she dare not leave the building on her own, even during the day.

Jamie’s master had kept the same restrictions. The front door represented the outer edge of her little domain. Now she had crossed it, never intending to provoke her master, but the deed could not be undone. She stood still, unmoving, arms at her side, waiting for her master’s wrath.

He came forward, reached down and took the tablet computer out of her hand. “What would possess you to do something like this?” Jamie opened her mouth to answer but stopped when he held up his hand. “No, don’t say anything. I don’t want to hear it.”

He put his hands on her shoulders. “I’m very disappointed in you, Jamie. Up to now you’ve done so well. But to throw it all away like this, I just don’t understand.”

She hung her head, unable to face him. The tears flowed freely down her cheeks. A black cloud of depression settled over her, feeding on her greatest fear. She had failed her first master, driven him away; and now it had happened again, brought on by her own carelessness.

Out of All Proportion

Why? Dave pondered that question. Why had she deliberately disobeyed him, risked their relationship, gone against all her training in walking out that door? There had to be some reason she would potentially throw away her future. The Jamie he had come to know since bringing her home would never have done something so egregious, yet there she was, standing in the doorway, frozen like a deer caught in headlights.

Dave counted to ten, letting his immediate anger subside. Did she leave the house unintentionally, merely to find his tablet? That didn’t excuse what she’d done. The moment she reached for the door knob she should have instinctively stopped. The only response to her disobedience required strong measures, and some minor penalty wouldn’t be enough. But first he had to prepare her, to make sure she understood why what was to come next was necessary.

He took hold of her wrist and led her into the living room. Before anything else he had to explain to her why she was about to be punished. “You know what you did, and how important it is you never leave the house without permission. I can’t overlook this, or treat it lightly. I regret what I have to do but you must be held to account, and the consequences must be a lesson to you never to provoke me in such a way again.”

Jamie didn’t move, though his words scared her. For one moment she’d forgotten who she was. That last day Mrs. Yates had warned her never to become complacent, to always stay on her master’s path. She’d strayed away, now it was his duty to bring her back. She was about to find out how he would accomplish that.

“First I want to make sure you understand why this is so important. Restricting you to the house isn’t some rule I just made up for the fun of it. I need to know where you are, all the time. The reason should be obvious. It’s my responsibility, mine alone, to take care of you and keep you safe. Now I can’t be with you every minute of the day, but I can create a place where you can feel secure when you’re alone. That place is this house. As long as I know you’re in here I don’t have to worry about you. Well, as much as I’d worry if you were wandering around the streets.”

This was one of the few times he’d actually explained a rule. She often wondered why he wanted her at home, now she understood.

“I have to trust you, Jamie. For my own peace of mind I must believe you will do as I say, especially staying in the house while I’m gone. I understand no one’s perfect; there will be slips. But it is one thing if you accidentally forget to take your shoes off entering the house, and quite another when you walk out the door on your own, without even a travel permit. Do you understand how serious that is? If you were seen doing what you just did by the police even I can’t stop what happens afterwards.”

That’s when Jamie felt the full impact of what she’d done: standing outside, on her own; without permission; and not even a permit. On the Island for someone of her status that was a major crime, treated at the same level of severity as robbing a bank. She had placed herself at great risk by one thoughtless action.

“I get no pleasure from this, Jamie. To start, your travel privileges are revoked, and your debit card is suspended. You are not permitted to leave the house. From now on you do not have permission to wear clothes; this will be enforced. Using furniture will be off limits. You are restricted to sitting on the floor. Finally, you will spend your nights chained to the wall, in solitary confinement.”

Jamie closed her eyes. It was a harsh punishment, but in a way she was relieved to know his implied threats of correcting her weren’t empty words. She had brought it on by being careless, now she must accept the consequences. I wonder how long, she thought. In some ways that was the worst part, never knowing when it would end.

A Night Alone

It was all she could do to hold back the tears when he shut the door to her cell. It was cramped, no bigger than a closet, and hidden away in a corner of the basement. A heavy steel ring was mounted on a plate bolted to the center of the rear wall. The chain running from it to her shackles allowed for some movement but it was clear she wasn’t going anywhere, even if the cell door wasn’t locked.

Looking down she examined her body chains in more detail. Each wrist was bound in a wide steel manacle, held shut with a pin he had hammered in, riveting them shut. In contrast to the by now familiar handcuffs there was no key; these would have to be cut off. The manacles were welded together at right angles, forcing her wrists into a crossed position. Bound that way it was difficult to use her hands.

A similar pair of shackles encircled her ankles. Unlike her hands these were connected by a rigid steel bar, forcing her legs apart. At each end a swivel allowed for some movement, so she could stand and perhaps even walk a short distance with them on. Like her hands they were fastened on with rivets.

To finish it off a chain ran from a riveted clamp on her collar, to the shackles on her hands, and finally ending in the middle of the connecting bar at her feet. Her hands were at a fixed point about a third of the way down. If she stretched out her legs her hands were pulled down to her waist. If she stood up the chain forced her to lean over.

Now she understood what he meant when he said he’d enforce the clothes ban. With the body chains permanently attached it wasn’t possible to put on anything without the chains getting in the way. The one exception was her chastity belt. She did have it on, but not by choice.

He kept his word on chaining her to the wall too. There was one last chain, fixed to the wall above at one end, and the other ending at the front of her collar, fastened to her body chains with a large, heavy padlock. In a way she looked at the padlock as a good sign, meaning he would let her out of the cell during the day. Otherwise Jamie knew she was in serious trouble. The way the shackles were riveted on told her they would be a constant companion for some time to come. However long he intended to keep her this way it would not be over in a day or two.

Reaching down she checked the locking plate on her chastity belt. It was securely fastened, as she knew it would be. Jamie leaned back against the wall again. The chain running down from her neck to her hands felt cold, nestled between her bare breasts.

Looking around she took stock of her cell. The gray steel door in front of her was held in place by a heavy metal frame set into the featureless concrete block walls. The door had no handle or knob on the inside, so even if by some miracle she freed herself she had no way to open it. Looking up she studied the plastic panel above her head. The dim overhead light behind it wasn’t very bright, casting a gloomy pall over her surroundings. Steel bars below it cast a shadow on her and the floor, forming a cross hatch pattern. If not for the chain running from the wall to her collar she would have enough room to stand up.

The floor wasn’t flat. Instead it had a slight slope toward a drain in one corner. That wasn’t a good sign, since it meant all he had to do was hose her down occasionally to keep her clean. Her dignity was to be an early casualty.

Jamie cursed her own stupidity, knowing she had no one to blame for this but herself. She understood her master had no option other than to punish her. The worst part was Jamie knew better but had done it anyway. From her master’s reaction he knew it as well. “Willful disobedience,” she whispered, talking to herself.

Reaching up she took hold of the chain holding her against the wall. Awkwardly, with both hands around it Jamie jerked on the chain several times, without any result. It did not yield to her, nor would her master. She could spend hours tugging on that chain and it would still be there, unchanged. Just as her master’s stubborn attitude would still be there, unchanged, no matter how long she fought to defy him.

Over and over it played back in her head. Reaching for the door, walking outside to the car, and that awful moment coming back, when she saw his face and suddenly realized what she’d done. Why hadn’t she stopped at the door? Even with her first master she’d never left the apartment without his permission, and at the Facility any attempt to leave the building would have been disastrous.

What had made her do such a stupid thing? Was it some subconscious drive to test him, to see if he was bluffing about disciplining her? Jamie had the answer to that question. She stretched out her legs, staring at the bar forcing her ankle apart. She could see the riveted pins where a lock would normally be. No bluff, he was serious, and he had exceeded anything she had imagined he might do to her.

All her privileges were gone. Her travel permit, the debit card, using the phone and computer, leaving the house, even wearing clothes, they were only a memory now. How long would it last? Weeks, months, would he eventually restore her privileges again? How could she ever regain his trust?

Isolation, and boredom, they were both familiar techniques from her time spent in the Facility basement. How many hours did I spend down there? Many of the visits she had earned all on her own, but there were the group punishments too. Most of those had been classroom incidents, when someone acted up but didn’t admit her guilt. The staff had a simple answer for that. Anonymous only meant everyone was held to account. As much as she resented being punished for someone else’s failure Jamie had to admit it worked particularly well in discouraging any repeats.

She looked up at the overhead light. She knew it would stay on, unchanging, for as long as she was in the cell. A change was a way to mark the passage of time. Without a clock or any other way to track time her stay would seem to last far longer. That gave her plenty of opportunity to rehash all the ways she had disappointed her master, over and over again. Her shoulders slumped, pulled down by the imaginary weight of her guilt. The image of Mrs. Yates from her last day at the Facility came back again as a prophetic warning. Jamie was definitely her own worst critic, just as Mrs. Yates had predicted.

In a way she was fortunate. The Facility had taught them the consequences of deliberate disobedience once the collar went on. As bad as her current punishment was, it didn’t begin to compare to what she might face if her master had filed a legal complaint. That meant a court trial, without her being present since she had no legal standing to defend herself. Her master made a statement before a judge, the conviction was virtually automatic since only his side of the story was heard, and the penalty would be prison time. It was supposedly a “disciplinary training center”, a euphemism to hide a maximum security prison. Worse than a real prison, because there were no legal protections for the prisoners. Jamie didn’t want to even speculate on what that would be like, or how angry her master would have to be to send her to one.

Time dragged on through the night. No matter how she moved around there was no comfortable position. She couldn’t lie down on the floor unless her knees were bent, and even then she was held close to the wall. She couldn’t sleep on her side because the bar on her ankles would force her to hold one leg high in the air. The best she could manage was to lean against the wall with her legs out. It wasn’t very comfortable, especially with the chastity belt on, but somehow she managed to fall asleep for a few hours sitting up.

Next Morning

The moment she heard the key in the door lock Jamie immediately sat up as best she could, away from the wall, facing the door with back straight and shoulders pulled back, hands resting in her lap. The door swung open, revealing her master standing in the doorway, hands on his hips. Jamie stared straight ahead, not daring to move or speak, hoping somehow she could demonstrate to him her renewed commitment to serve him.

At first he said nothing while he stood in front of her. Jamie was tired, thirsty and hungry but she found the will to hold her position. When he took a step into the cell and knelt down on one knee, looking at her eye to eye, she did not turn away. “I regret this is necessary, Jamie. I can see it’s hard on you. Even so, you must understand your behavior was inexcusable, and that I cannot tolerate.”

At that moment a beep sounded from the phone on his belt. He stood up and walked back to the door. He took it out of his belt and checked the screen. “There’s something I have to do. You will stay exactly as you are until I come back.” The door closed. She heard the click of the lock when he turned the key.

Her disappointment when he didn’t release her was crushing. Apparently her time in solitary wasn’t over. Please come back soon, she hoped, eager to get out of the cell. Meanwhile she had to hold herself in position, no matter what it took. It was tempting to lean back against the wall for just a moment. But no matter what the cost Jamie was unwavering in answering her compulsion to prove to her master, and herself, that she would obey him.

Just outside the door Dave watched her on his phone screen. The tiny pinhole camera was virtually invisible in the dimly lit corner of the room so it was unlikely she knew it was there. It broke his heart to see her in that state but it had to be done. He’d been too easy on her, ignoring small mistakes when he should have acted immediately to stop it. Now she was testing him, perhaps not consciously, but nonetheless she had pushed him to the point where he had to correct her or lose her respect.

Although he hoped this moment would never come still he had prepared for it. The large, riveted shackles and heavy chain were far in excess of what was needed to hold her prisoner. But there was the psychological effect: the oppressive weight, the permanence of rivets over locks, all served one purpose, to inflict punishment for bad behavior. By the time he released her from their grasp she would never, ever want to repeat the experience.

He checked the time in the corner of the screen. Five more minutes and he’d go back in to release her from the cell. Five long minutes for her while she sat up in a very uncomfortable position, not knowing when the door would open. Every second that passed would increase her anxiety over when he would come back for her.

He paced around the basement, anxious to open the door. Time and again he looked at her while checking the countdown. She still hadn’t moved. Dave tried to imagine what she must be going through, in her head. Regret, despair, uncertainty, the full range of emotions had to be there. Uncertainty would be the worst, since he knew how much she valued her security as his property, to stave off her fear of rejection. That he would have to address immediately.

The moment the five minutes expired he opened the door to her cell. She had not moved, and did not even look up at him. “This will end your confinement for the night,” he told her. “I want you to hold still while I release you from the wall.”

It was a tight fit with both of them in the cell, but Jamie did her best not to move while he reached over her to open the padlock at her collar. Once it was open he hung the hasp over the ring behind her. He backed out and stopped at the doorway, kneeling down.

“Let’s get you out of here. I’m sure you’d like a shower and something to eat.” Grabbing the bar between her ankles he pulled her out to the door of the cell. “Okay, let me help you stand up. I’m not sure you can do it on your own.”

Dave went behind her, placed his hands under her arms and lifted her up. Jamie was finally able to get her feet under her. When she tried to stand the connecting chain pulled her hands and neck down. Dave held onto one arm to keep her from falling. “Stay where you are until you’re steady on your feet. You have to be careful since you’re off balance, leaning forward, and your feet are farther apart compared to what you’re used to.”

He was right. Jamie felt unsteady, as though she were about to trip and fall. Now that she was standing the full weight of her body chains became apparent. The bar across her ankles was the worst. With one hand she took hold of the chain from the center of the bar in order to hold it up, to relieve some of the pressure on her ankle bones.

The chain from her collar to her wrists was the most frustrating. It was just short enough, deliberately so, to prevent her from standing up straight. She would have to bend her knees to straighten her back. That made standing, or walking for any period of time a tiring experience.

“I want you to walk around the floor, to get a little exercise.” Dave ordered. “I’ll hold onto you until you get a feel for your limited movement.”

Jamie almost smiled at his choice of words. Limitation, she thought, yes that was one way to look at it. She started with her left foot, moving it forward until the swivels at the ends of the bar hit their stops. Next she swung her right foot forward until it stopped. Looking down she saw it wasn’t much progress for the effort. Obeying her master’s order she kept going until she was close to the wall.

Turning around also proved to be time consuming. Jamie now realized the spreader bar was a devious design, promising the illusion of mobility but delivering an experience best resembling wading through waist deep mud. Her attention was drawn to the stairs leading up from the basement. In her present state they were a formidable barrier. To get to the rest of the house she’d have to crawl up them on her backside, one step at a time.

He stopped her in the middle of the floor. “Come over here and sit down to rest.” He led her to a chair in the corner of the room, opposite the confinement cell. Her legs were already feeling the strain from the short time she’d been standing.

“Remember, chairs are forbidden. You will sit on the floor. Stay where you are, I’ll get you a cushion.” The chair was tempting but off limits now. He came back with a blanket and some cushions. “You may sit down on these.” He held onto her arm when she knelt down. He hadn’t ordered her to kneel, so she felt safe in sitting down, with her knees pulled up.

The body chains made it difficult to sit in anything resembling her normal position. The bar forced her ankles apart but she was able to hold her knees together. She slipped her hands over her legs and leaned forward, chin on her knees.

Dave sat down next to her. He was careful not to react at her attempt to sit in position, even though it was almost comical. “Jamie, I want you know that even though I must do this to maintain authority, I will never give up on you. You belong to me, and that will not change.” He stroked her cheek with one hand. “No matter what happens, your collar does not come off. That’s still my promise to you.”

He leaned back in the chair, arms folded. Jamie did not turn her head, looking straight ahead but she could see him. His words were such a relief that tears came to her eyes. As much as she wanted to wipe them away she dare not move her hands. She wouldn’t make that mistake again.

“Now then,” Dave began, “you are being punished, and you know why. As you can guess it will last for some time. This is how it will be from now on. At night you will be confined to the cell, and I will chain you to the wall. In the morning I’ll let you out. You will be allowed to take a shower in the basement bathroom. Afterwards you will be permitted to eat breakfast. We’ll do that when I’m finished.”

That was good news for Jamie. A shower would feel good, although she wasn’t sure how she was going to manage it. And eating breakfast would be a one-handed affair.

“During the day while I’m gone you will be restricted to the basement. Your phone and computer privileges are suspended indefinitely. If you behave you will be allowed to read or watch TV for a short time each day. In the evening when I’m home I’ll spend some time with you down here, again providing you demonstrate to my satisfaction you will behave properly. After the minimum punishment time is up I will consider reducing your restrictions if I’m satisfied with your progress.”

Dave stopped and studied Jamie’s face, trying to gauge her reaction. She showed no outward signs except for the tracks of the tears down her face. “This is a setback, but we’ll work together to get past it.”

Suddenly he grabbed her by the hair in back and pulled up her head. He leaned in close, an intent look on his face. “I will get my Jamie back. Never doubt that. I will do whatever it takes to own you, body and soul.”

Dave let go of her hair. Reaching down he took her hands in his. “Understand, Jamie, the severity is because you disobeyed me. The way you did it isn’t the issue. What does make matter is it was deliberate, and you know that alone merits everything I’ve done. This will be an ordeal for you, but I sincerely believe you will come out a better person for it. We will discuss this, but only after your sentence is over. Until then you will have plenty of time to think about how we can be sure this will never happen again.”

On the Third Day

By the morning of the third day Jamie felt as if she had reached the end of her endurance. The moment he released her from the cell she knelt in front of her master, silently pleading for him to show her some mercy. Yesterday she had sat in a corner of the basement, huddled in a ball with her head on her knees, crying off and on all day long. The prospect of another day filled with the same endless boredom, separated from her master, with nothing to do but constantly replaying that one moment, over and over again, had kept her up all night.

Desperately she wracked her brain every day, trying to find some way to demonstrate to him she would never be disobedient again. The days in the basement were bad enough, but the evenings were worse in some ways. He would take her upstairs, but she had to kneel facing the wall, away from him, as though he didn’t even want to look at her. Her black cloud of doubt came back to haunt her, the fear he would reject her and leave her on her own.

Dave crouched down in front of Jamie while she knelt. He could see the heavy toll this was taking on her. She needed some ray of hope, something to look forward to, a light at the end of the tunnel. “Jamie?” He held up her head with a hand under her chin. “If you behave properly today, do as you’re told, then tonight I’ll free your hands. If you continue to show me you are learning from this experience, then I’ll consider taking off the spreader bar too.”

Immediately her face lit up. “Now this isn’t the end of your punishment. You will still sleep in the cell at night, and none of your privileges are restored. I expect you to remain silent, no clothes, and you will remain on the floor. Is that understood?”

Unable to speak she nodded in agreement. She could manage one more day if it meant the wrist clamp was coming off. It was difficult to say which ones she hated more, the spreader bar on her ankles or the shackles holding her crossed wrists. What scared her most of all was the way they were riveted shut. There was no key to quickly release her, and she didn’t have the strength to cut off the rivets, especially while her hands were so closely bound.

Against all her fears was the one bright spot; he was thinking about her welfare. He wouldn’t act that way if he intended to send her back to the Facility. Or worst of all, he could easily take her to one of those brokerages on North Island. No matter what it took she had to hold onto him, and the only way to accomplish it was to be perfect in every way.

Dave helped her clean up and eat some breakfast. As much as she wanted him to stay with her when it was time for him to go she knelt in her corner, back straight, head held high, knees wide apart, on display for her master’s enjoyment. As he walked up the stairs he stopped to admire Jamie more than once.

Even when the door closed behind him Jamie held her position. He might come back to check, or there could be a camera watching her. She was determined to wait as long as possible. She could hear him walking around upstairs, but she had no idea what he was doing. When she finally heard the front door shut upstairs she knew he had left for the day.

Slowly she struggled to her feet again, to relieve the tension in her legs. She stared down at her hands, wishing the time would go by faster today. She’d still have the bar across her ankles, but any progress in convincing him to remove the irons was a step toward ending her ordeal. Jamie went back to her corner and sat down, leaning against the wall so she could stretch out her legs.

Resting her arms on her knees she studied the metal shackles imprisoning her wrists one more time. It was a simple design, a band around each wrist, welded together at right angle, with rivets holding each wrist manacle shut. It was simple and extremely effective, in that it took away all but the most limited use of her hands.

One of the rivets was clearly visible. He had used a hammer to flatten it out so it couldn’t be removed. Handcuffs she understood; they went on quickly and came off just as fast, if one had the key. This was different, something permanent, something that took effort to put on, and even more work to remove.

She didn’t miss those pauses on the stairs, when he looked over his shoulder at her. More than once, a good sign, she thought. Jamie leaned back against the wall and closed her eyes. This too shall pass, she told herself. He won’t leave me down here forever.

Request Fulfilled

“I have a present for you tonight, something special you asked about. You go sit on the couch and I’ll bring it in. I think you’ll like it.” Dave went out to the hall closet and brought back a package. “Care to take a wild guess first?”

Her punishment was over. It ended abruptly, four days ago, when he unexpectedly removed the shackles one afternoon. The moment she started to apologize he put a stop to it with a simple command. “You learned your lesson. We won’t speak of it again.”

Jamie sat in position on the couch. Dave stood directly in front of her, so she could see what was in his hands. It was wrapped in plain paper, no logos, so no clue there. The shape was irregular, not a box, more likely some item of clothing. “Well, sir, about all I can tell is it might be something to wear.”

She didn’t need to look down at her hands to know they were in the precise place he expected; she was certain she had it right. Nor did she miss his quick inspection when he brought the package in. It made her feel good to know he was constantly watching, and her efforts to please him were not ignored. It was a lesson she’d learned the hard way. He didn’t miss the details, and he wasn’t forgiving if she failed to obey her rules.

At the Facility Mrs. Yates had instantly scolded them for any laxness in sitting properly. Jamie doubted whoever would be her future master would really care if her legs were not precisely aligned together, or if a hand was slightly out of place. She had to admit Mrs. Yates was right once again. Her master was just as strict, but he wasn’t as limited in the type of reprimand she would receive if she got it wrong now. As much as it irritated her at the Facility to follow the rules on position, she was proud of how well she now demonstrated her skills to her owner.

“You’re right, it is something I want you to wear.” He tore off the paper. At first all she could see was some type of white cloth, perhaps canvas or denim. When he shook it out she recognized it immediately.

“I haven’t forgotten about our little talk the other night. I want you to stand up, hold out your arms.” He held open the front of the jacket.

Although she had never actually seen one the straps and closed sleeves were unmistakable. When he slid the arms of the straitjacket over her hands the canvas felt rough and slightly scratchy. At the ends of the sleeves were stiff leather mitts that completely covered her hands. “Sir, is this a real straitjacket?” she asked.

“Yes it is. I’m told it’s one of the better made versions designed specifically for bondage. It’s got extra stitching, heavier cloth, straps for upper arms and reinforced with leather sections at the joints. It also uses the locking buckles for medical restraints, so it isn’t so easy to get off. Okay, turn around so I can do up the straps,” he told her. She turned her back to him while he held onto the jacket. Jamie could feel him close and tighten the straps across her back and waist. At the top a wide strap went loosely around her neck, under her collar, closing in the back. She could feel the canvas press in on every side, over her blouse. It was a snug fit with little slack, just enough so she could breathe easily. When he finished he turned her around to face him again.

“Now we’ll take care of your arms. The sleeves go through the loop in front.” He helped guide her covered arms through the stout canvas loop stitched onto the front. When he pulled tight the straps dangling from the end of each sleeve, behind her back, her arms were pulled tight against her body, crossed under her breasts. He finished securing her arms by fixing a final strap around each of her upper arms, just above the elbow, preventing any movement from her shoulders. “How’s that? See if you can get an arm free. According to the instructions the extra straps at the elbows prevent slipping an arm over the shoulder, the usual method for escape artists.”

Jamie did her best, twisting from side to side, trying to shift her arms up and down, but the jacket held firm. She even tried to feel with her fingertips for a strap behind her back. They were out of reach but the stiff leather cover over her hands blocked her fingers, making it an impossible task even if she could reach that far. “No sir, I can’t.”

“One last adjustment and you’ll be ready,” he told her. To her surprise he unzipped her skirt, letting it fall to her feet. “There are two straps that go underneath.” She felt him reach between her legs from the back. A moment later he pulled up the straps behind her, ensuring the jacket could not be slipped over her head. Once in place he lifted her skirt back up, over the bottom of the jacket, and zipped it shut. “There, that should do it. Let me know if it becomes difficult to breathe. What do you think?”

Jamie looked down at the straitjacket holding her prisoner. Once again she struggled to escape, fighting against the canvas and leather wrapped around her body. He had done a good job; she was still held captive by the jacket despite all her efforts. “Well, sir, it seems my hands and arms are all but useless.” She tried to shift from side to side, without any result. “I don’t see how I can get it off.”

Dave laughed. “I’d be surprised if you succeeded. I’ve seen the magic acts where escape artists do get out, but those are all rigged jackets, from what I’ve read. The version you have on is supposed to be designed to defeat all the known escape tricks.” He put his hands on her upper arms, holding her still while he looked over his handiwork. “Very nice, but I’m not quite done. There’s still the problem of you trying to run away. You sit down while I get one more present for you.”

He held onto her upper arms through the canvas while she sat down. She had no intention of ever running away. Or for that matter any idea of how she might accomplish it. Without her hands just opening a door to go outside would be a challenge, much less trying to run without the use of her arms to keep her balance. All of which led her to the obvious conclusion his real intention was to make it difficult for her to walk, or maybe even stand up.

Dave came back with a box this time. Out came two wide leather ankle cuffs, connected with an adjustable strap between them. “These come from the same place as the straitjacket. They recommend it as a set,” he explained as he wrapped a cuff around each of her ankles. Leaning forward she watched while he closed the locking buckle on each cuff. The connecting strap, more like a wide and thick belt, was barely long enough for her to put one foot in front of the other. Walking would be slow and difficult; running or kicking was impossible.

When he finished he stood up, looking her over. Jamie sat up straight, scrutinizing the expression on his face, hoping to glean some clue as to how well he was pleased with his work. “I thought you might enjoy something other than chains once in a while. I hope this is what you had in mind for a little extra security.” He didn’t fool her. She could plainly see the avid interest on his face while he inspected the restraints.

Once more Jamie tried her best to get out of the jacket. At first she attempted to pull an arm out of the sleeve, since he had mentioned it was an escape artist technique. The immediate problem was the strap at each elbow, pinning her upper arms against her body. There simply wasn’t enough slack to make any progress at all. Trying to slide the jacket left or right didn’t help either. Satisfied she was powerless Jamie sat back and closed her eyes, savoring the feel of the canvas pressing in all around her, confining her, compelling her to depend on her master to protect and help her.

Dave waited patiently, letting her relish the moment. There was no question in his mind now; she was addicted to bondage. He was tempted to lay her out on the floor and take her on the spot, until he realized his mistake. In his haste he had left her belt on, and now the lock plate was buried underneath the straitjacket. He folded his arms, feeling like an idiot for his poor planning.

When Jamie opened her eyes he was standing in front of her, arms crossed. Her first reaction was panic. “I’m so sorry, sir. I wasn’t thinking straight. Please forgive my daydreaming.” She watched him, looking for some reaction, hoping he wasn’t too angry with her.

Dave didn’t say anything at first. She was right, but he wasn’t upset about it. An idea began to form, something they would both like. Well, I will, he thought, maybe she won’t. “We’ll talk about your inattention later on. Right now we’re going for a drive. I feel like getting out of the house for a while.”

Jamie’s immediate reaction was relief at not being punished. Just as quickly it changed to apprehension. A drive, this time of night? She couldn’t figure out what he had in mind.

Dave bent down to take hold of her arms. “Up you go,” he told her, lifting her up off the couch. He turned her toward the kitchen. “I think you’ll qualify for proper attire after curfew. To the car.” Hesitantly Jamie took a short step forward toward the kitchen where the door to the garage was located. The cuffs grabbed at her ankles, bringing her up short. They made for a very effective hobble, slowing her progress to a crawl.

“Sir, should I put on some shoes, since we’re going out?” How she would manage that was a separate problem, one he would have to solve for her.

“No,” was his clipped answer, without any explanation. Wherever they were going, she’d have to live with walking barefoot. Slowly shuffling toward the garage door she took the opportunity to look up at the man who owned her, wondering what he was thinking. He had a determined look, but she didn’t see any malice in it. Jamie cursed her momentary lapse; his comment about “later” came back to haunt her. Her intuition told her it was better not to ask, so she quietly made her way to the car, with his hands on her upper arms holding her steady.

Out for a Drive

Once he closed the buckle on her seat belt Jamie was definitely confined to the car seat. The straitjacket made it impossible for her to reach the belt buckle or the car door. Jamie watched Dave as he made his way around the car to the driver’s side. When he wasn’t looking she tried once again to get an arm loose. And once again she gave up, frustrated by the tight hold of the jacket. This was something new for her. Even with the handcuffs behind her back she still had some limited movement with her hands, but now it was as if she had no hands or arms at all.

He opened his door and got into the car. “You doing okay?” he asked, at the same time checking the jacket to make sure it hadn’t come loose. “I read a warning about over-tightening straitjackets. It can restrict the chest and diaphragm; it can even cause suffocation in extreme cases. The comparison was to a boa constrictor, slowly squeezing its victim.”

“I’m fine, sir, but please, no more mention of snakes. I never did care for them.” Jamie stretched out her legs. “Sir, in case you forgot you didn’t lock down my ankles.” She wasn’t sure if it was an oversight or deliberate, but up to now if her ankles were shackled together he always, without fail, fastened the connecting chain to the floorboard.

“Not to worry, I left your feet loose on purpose. I don’t see that it will make a difference tonight. Or were you planning on jumping out of the car at a stop light?” The smile on his face told her he wasn’t serious.

“No sir, I intend to stay right here.” Jamie suddenly had an idea of her own. Quickly she brought her legs together, both feet planted on the floor just below her seat. “Providing, sir, that you keep your hands to yourself. I was taught a proper lady must always sit with her knees touching and both feet on the floor at all times. There must be no improper liberties taken.” She held her chin up, looking straight ahead out the windshield.

Out of the corner of her eye she saw her master staring at her. “Oh really?” he asked sarcastically. Suddenly he reached under her skirt and began caressing her inner thigh, just below the bottom of her chastity belt, where the front shield forced her legs slightly apart. “Well then, if you don’t want me touching you all you have to do is push my hand away.”

Jamie closed her eyes, lost in his touch and simultaneously cursing his decision to leave on her chastity belt. “Yes, sir,” she said, wiggling in her seat, trying to reach his arm through the straitjacket. “It appears I’m unable to remove your hand. Sir, won’t you need it to drive?”

Dave sighed. “I suppose we could just sit here in the garage for a while, but there’s not much scenery to look at.” He turned back to the wheel and pressed the button to open the garage door. “You’re right, and by the way very clever of you to get rid of my hand given your, umm,” he paused, his eyes sweeping up and down her tightly wrapped body, “condition.”

He backed the car out of the garage and down the driveway, stopping before pulling out into the street. Looking out her window Jamie saw a neighbor standing close by on the sidewalk, dog leash in hand and a small terrier sniffing at a section of grass. Thanks to the streetlight overhead he had a clear view of her encased in the straitjacket.

In another life Jamie might have been embarrassed, but now it didn’t bother her at all. Instead she held up her chin so her collar was plainly visible. That small circle of metal around her neck was her symbol of freedom: free of any responsibility as long as she obeyed her master; free from any worries other than pleasing the man who now owned her; and best of all free to ignore what anyone else thought about it.

The neighbor nodded a greeting and walked on. After a car passed by Dave continued onto the street. Jamie had no idea where he was taking her but that was his choice; it wasn’t necessary for her to know. Content that he was in control she leaned back in the car seat and watched the neighborhood go by.

“There are times when I ask myself why it is I like to see you physically restrained, either with handcuffs or that jacket.” Jamie looked over at him while he was driving. “Strictly speaking I know it’s not absolutely necessary. You’ll do what I tell you either way.” He slowed down for a stop sign.

“There is something about real physical control though. It takes away any uncertainty. Like now, without the straitjacket, if I told you not to scratch your nose even though it’s starting to itch you’d keep your hands in your lap.” He pulled away from the intersection.

“But with that jacket on, no matter how bad the itching becomes, there’s nothing you can do about it. Is it really true there’s nothing worse than an itch you can’t scratch? I’ve been told it grows and grows, driving you crazy. And all you have to do is rub your nose against something to stop it, but everything is just out of reach. Worst of all you know it won’t stop until you scratch it, but there’s nothing you can do. It becomes an obsession, driving out everything else…”

Jamie had to interrupt him. “Please master, please scratch my nose!” Glancing over at her he saw her trying to lean forward, to rub her nose against the dashboard or the side window. The shoulder strap held her back. She was struggling furiously with the jacket, trying to get a hand out.

Dave pulled off to the side of the road, reached over and scratched her nose. Her eyes closed with relief. “Oh thank you, sir! I couldn’t stand it anymore.” She looked at him, frowning. “You did that deliberately, putting the thought in my head, knowing it would take hold.”

Dave reached over and put his hand on her knee. “Yes I did. And the reason why? Because I can, and there’s nothing you can do to stop me. It really does come down to power after all, the power I have over you, Jamie. To have your life in my hands, it’s like some kind of potent drug. I want to use that power, in part to do what’s good for you, but I won’t deny I relish using it to satisfy my own selfish desires.”

“I hope you do find some satisfaction for your desires, master. My worry, my biggest fear, is that you’ll get bored with me, that I’ll lose you to someone else. Whatever you want, sir, whenever you want it, I’ll be here. But please, sir, no more itchy noses!”

The Invitation

“I got a call from the Facility Director, Clancy Yates,” Dave told Jamie while they were eating dinner. “He heard back from Elise’s master. He’s a doctor, by the way, a heart surgeon, name is Ben Grimes. The Director told me Elise was in the medical field too, a surgical nurse before coming to the Island, sounds like a good match.” Jamie looked up, eager to find out what they discussed. He continued to eat. Seeing her waiting expectantly, he asked, “So how was your day?”

She frowned at him. “Well, sir, until a minute ago there wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. Since then I’ve been teased without mercy.” Jamie had learned asking outright was prohibited when it was obvious he was holding back, but if he was in a good mood she could risk showing him she was irritated by his lack of detail.

Dave laughed at her thinly disguised complaint. He held up his hands in mock surrender. “Alright, Dr. Grimes was glad to hear from us and agreed we should meet. I had a short conversation with him on the phone. We’re invited to dinner at their place on Saturday night. I’m supposed to pass on that Elise is looking forward to seeing you again.”

Saturday? That was tomorrow. She speculated on how long he’d known of the invitation before telling her. At least she had some warning. Now she’d be busy all day getting ready. “Sir? May I go out shopping in the morning? If it’s okay with you I’d like to wear a dress to dinner, but I should pick out a new one. And may I get my hair done?”

He didn’t answer right away. She expected that; he always took time to consider requests to leave the house. “Yes, you can get your hair done. Schedule an appointment in the afternoon. About the clothes…” He stopped again. Jamie waited, unsure if he would approve. He was particular about what she wore. He rarely allowed a dress since one of the rules in his framework specified she could only wear a skirt and blouse unless he approved something else. “I’ll go with you first thing, in the morning. We can leave as soon as the stores open, since I’ll be with you. You may pick out a dress but I want to see it first. And by the way, the Director tells me the good doctor is a Conservative Jew, so out of respect you will choose a modestly cut dress that covers your upper arms. If I remember right its elbows to knees. Check the Internet tonight on what’s considered respectable.”

She was glad he decided to go shopping with her. She wouldn’t have to worry about selecting something he didn’t like. Jamie was excited at the prospect of meeting her old friend again, and going out at the same time. She had a vague idea from her school days that Conservative Judaism shared many Semitic roots with Islam, but varied in degree. She’d have to do some searching. “So, no pork roast or oysters for dinner? Anything else I need to know, sir?”

He thought for a moment, going over his plans for tomorrow. “Make sure your belt is clean and ready. From now on you’ll wear it whenever we go out. We’ll leave at 6:30, should be there by 7pm.”

End of the Night

By any measure the dinner party was a success. She was back in touch with her dear friend Elise, along with a hint they might be allowed to stay in touch by phone and email. She hoped it could develop into more get-togethers, maybe for hopping or lunch.

During the drive home she talked non-stop about how much it meant to her to see a real Facility success story. Jamie desperately wanted her own relationship with Dave to stand out as another endorsement for Facility training..

“Stay where you are.” In the garage Jamie waited in her seat while he got out. Although Dave always told her to stay in the car it wasn’t really necessary since she couldn’t reach the door handle or seat belt with her hands cuffed behind her back. In his framework was a requirement that she wait for him to open or close the seat belt and car door, or any door when they were together, and that she sit still while he made sure she was secure. It was one of the ways she had to wait for him for even simple things. When they were out at night it was an easy rule to remember since her wrists were locked behind her back, held in place by both the waist chain and the extra set of handcuffs she had asked him to use. As long as the seat belt was fastened she wasn’t going anywhere.

Even with her hands free she wouldn’t get very far. She looked down at her ankles, also bound in cuffs, with the linking chain padlocked to a ring under her seat. She pulled on the chain, as she often did when he wasn’t watching, but it didn’t come loose. He was thorough when he wanted to restrain her. And if he happened to forget she’d find some way to remind him.

While she watched him go around the front of the car she tugged at the handcuffs. She knew there wasn’t any way for her to slip out of them, but she liked to check often to make sure. The last thing she wanted was for him to become careless, a sure sign he was losing interest in her. Most important of all, as long as she was helpless he had to be there to look after her.

When he reached her door she turned her head to the side to look up at him. Hoping he wouldn’t notice she leaned forward slightly so he had a better view down the top of her dress. She couldn’t ask him to release her from the car seat, but there was no prohibition that stopped her from using other means to encourage him to think along those lines.

He opened her door but didn’t immediately reach for the seat belt. Jamie waited patiently, knowing there was nothing she could do to make him hurry up. Sometimes he helped her out right away; and other times, like now, he preferred to take his time. Maybe he did like the view at night after all. Those rare times he permitted her to wear a dress she could get away with a much lower neckline, and a shorter hemline, compared to the usual blouse and skirt during the day.

She often wondered about his restrictions on clothes. Considering he could ask for whatever he wanted with her, instead of the far too short dresses she had expected most of the time he insisted on a very conservative appearance. There were times she wished he’d explain his decisions in more detail so she could better understand his intent. A direct question was impossible since he had banned questions on the topic. Although that was a clue by itself; whenever he prohibited any discussion she believed it was because he had no real justification, other than indulging in his power over her. Of course, being her owner he didn’t need a reason, nor was he under any obligation to share it with her. Jaime did not resent his being selfish, especially when it involved staring at her.

Finally he leaned in, first reaching down to open the padlock to free her ankles, and then to unlatch her seat belt. With a hand on her left arm he helped her out of the car. The moment she was out and on her feet he spun her around and forced her up against the car, her back to him. He held her in place with one hand on her back while he closed the car door.

What came next was the pretense of searching her, in case she was trying to smuggle some kind of contraband into the house. With the tight dress on she had nowhere to hide anything, but he still ran his free hand all over. Jamie had to close her eyes and concentrate on holding still, especially when his hand went under her dress.

One false move and she’d be on the garage floor, face down, with him on top of her. Nearly every night they went out it ended with the same search. For Jamie it was a potent reminder of just how easily he could overpower her. She’d never try to sneak anything forbidden into the house, and he knew it. The point of the search, at least to Jamie, was that he enforced his commands in his own way, regardless of her preferences. It was a thorough search too. She closed her eyes, loving his touch while he took his time. The small detail, that it might also be an excuse to run his hands over her body didn’t concern her at all.

Satisfied she didn’t have a ring of keys or a hacksaw hidden away he turned her toward the door into the house and urged her forward. He held on to her upper arm, to keep her steady. She had to walk very slowly, since he had chosen to use the shortened leg chains again tonight. Cut down to half the normal length they reduced her stride to little more than one foot in front of the other. She did like the restrictive feel of the chains when he chose to use them, but it was also a relief when he took them off once they were in the house.

Inside he normally freed her hands so she could take off her shoes. No shoes worn in the house, another one of her rules. But instead of placing her against the wall so he could remove her restraints he kept hold of her arm, steering her toward the living room.

“Sit down on the couch. Here, I’ll help you.” Awkwardly Jamie sat down, leaning forward since her hands were still locked behind her back. He stood close by, ready to catch her if she started to fall. After she settled into a comfortable position he sat down next to her.

“I thought we might talk for a little while.” Jamie turned to look at her master but said nothing, mindful that she was still not permitted to speak. That meant he was going to be the one doing all the talking. “First of all I want you to know you did well tonight. I watched you carefully. You participated in the conversation, helped Elise when needed, and at all times you behaved exactly as I expected. I was concerned about the lax discipline the doctor practices, and that it might influence you, but I needn’t have worried. You were at your best. Any man would be proud to have you at his side.”

Jamie had noticed it too. She knew every relationship was different, even on the Island. But Elise was from the Facility too, and that normally meant an owner who leaned toward the authoritarian side. In a way Jamie felt Elise might almost be neglected. She certainly wouldn’t want to change places.

He rested a hand on her knee. “Seeing someone else from the Facility makes me appreciate you all the more. By the way, do you know what my favorite ‘perk’ is, in owning you?” Jamie shook her head.

“It’s the way I can effectively gag you with just a word or gesture. I have to tell you, your self-control is remarkable. Countless times when I’ve shut you up I expected you to ignore me and keep going, but you never have, not once. I’ve seen the glares; I know it can take an incredible amount of effort to stop in mid-sentence. Yet you manage, somehow. I could never match your determination. And since we’re on the subject, you have permission to speak.”

Jamie was tempted to ask why he hadn’t released her, the way he normally did after they came home. But even though they’d only been together a short time she knew it would be inappropriate. She had quickly picked up that anything to do with restraining her was an extremely sensitive subject. In any case she looked forward to the times he enforced her obedience with close physical control, although her shoulders were starting to feel the strain from holding her hands behind her back.

His revelation of a favorite “perk” was something of a surprise. “It’s true, sir, sometimes I have to bite my tongue when you silence me. It can be difficult, but that’s what makes it so important for me to get it right. We were taught, at the Facility, that it’s the true test of submitting to your master. The easy commands, that’s the fun part. It’s almost a game, but the tough ones are the real measure of our commitment. I guess it’s like a reflex; I don’t even really think about it now. But it can be so frustrating!”

“And that’s precisely what I want from you, the way you do as I ask without question or hesitation, even if you have to clench your hands into fists and grind your teeth.” He reached up to stroke her cheek. “I’ve told you I want to get in your head, but I’ve discovered it works both ways. The more I control you, the more I want you. It seems you get in my head too.

“So, did you have a good time seeing your friend again? The doctor is an interesting fellow, ex-military. The two of them seem to get along well. I did notice you flinch at his comment about you taking charge. Not to worry, I know it was his idea of a joke.”

“I have to confess it shocked me, sir. Naturally I’d never criticize him but I do appreciate the way you immediately ordered me to the kitchen. For a second I was confused, unsure if he was serious. I didn’t know what to do.”

“Don’t be too concerned about offhand remarks like that,” Dave reassured her. “Did you get a chance to catch up with Elise?”

“Oh, yes sir! It was so good to see her again, and to meet Dr. Grimes. She was the first real friend I made here on the Island. More than once we had to rely on each other’s support getting through some of the difficult times at the Facility. I missed her when she left.” That brought up memories of her and Elise complaining over the lunch table after one of Mrs. Yates’ interminable lectures. Somehow just having someone to listen took away some of the sting of Mrs. Yates reprimands.

Dave pulled her close, his arm around her shoulders. “Ben brought up an interesting proposition while you two were in the kitchen.” Jamie looked up at him, curious as to what was said. “We agreed you two should remain friends. From now on you have permission to talk to both the doctor and Elise at any time, without restrictions. You may also contact Elise directly by email or the phone; I have her number. You don’t need to wait for me to approve any text or email you receive or to answer phone calls from her.”

Jamie sat up excitedly. “Really, sir, anytime I want, by myself? And it’s okay with Doctor Grimes too?”

“Yes, he brought up the idea first, although I was about to do the same. You may contact Elise on the phone, text or email, whenever you wish, but within reason. Remember, she’s working at the Clinic, sometimes at night. Hmm, I will change that slightly. When I’m home you will ask permission before calling, but when you’re alone there’s no restriction. Well, except for one.”

“What’s that, sir?” She was already looking forward to a long, private chat.

“Ben and I agreed the two of you will limit phone calls to no more than an hour a day. After that you have to ask. We don’t want you glued to the phone all day long.” You may also talk to Elise in private when I’m home.”

“Yes, sir, one hour.” She’d have to make sure there was a clock nearby so she could keep track of the time. This was one privilege she valued too highly to risk losing because of carelessness.

“Beyond that, we also agreed the two of you may go into town together. We’ll start at one day a week and see how that works out. We’ll leave it up to both of you to find a good time. You’ll still have to ask to leave the house, wear your belt, and you’ll need your permits, so allow for that and remember you have an earlier curfew than Elise.”

Jamie thought this was indeed her lucky day. “Do you want a time restriction on going to town too, sir? I mean, other than the curfew.” She was amazed her master would grant her so much leeway in leaving the house.

“Use your own judgment, but make sure you will be home on time. If I get a call from the police telling me you’ve been detained for curfew violation I won’t be happy about it. And I guarantee you won’t, either. I trust you, Jamie, to behave properly at all times. You’ve done well so far, don’t disappoint me again.”

She lowered her head. “I promise, sir. I’ll be on my best behavior, and I’ll make sure you’ll never regret trusting me. I appreciate this is a big step, allowing me to go out on my own, after what happened.” He nodded. “I’m a little nervous at the thought of leaving the house without you, sir. But when I worry I think of you, standing next to me, telling me what to do. I guess what I want to say is, you’re always there with me, in spirit if not in person.”

Dave didn’t respond immediately. It was just what he had hoped for, but he was concerned she was only telling him what he wanted to hear. Was she sincere? He had no reason to doubt her. If it was a pretense she certainly had remarkable acting skills. The simpler explanation was his own doubts, that Jamie was too good to be true and he couldn’t be so lucky in finding his perfect woman.

He took hold of her chin to turn her head to face him. “That’s what I’ve dreamed of, Jamie, to be there with you always, inside your head.”

His hand around her shoulder slid down her back, to caress the cuffs around her wrists. “No, I didn’t forget about these. I left them on because I don’t want to take them off. So, unless you have a set of keys?” Jamie shook her head. If she ever did come across a handcuff key she’d have to turn it over to him right away. “No? Then you’ll have to wait a while longer.”

She could tell he was joking about having a key. The idea that she might have a way to free herself was so ridiculous she never even fantasized about it. It was her responsibility to make sure he was always in control, and especially to let him know if there was ever any possibility she might defeat the restraints. He was careful not to lose track of the cuff keys, so the chances of her coming across one he mislaid were nonexistent. In any case, if she did find one he’d be the first to know about it.

Jamie pulled on the cuffs while his hand was on hers so he could feel for himself how helpless she was. She loved that grip of steel and the way he bound her with it, compelling her to do what he wanted. Even if the result was a dull ache spreading in her shoulder blades she’d never ask him to let her go. “Sir? May I speak freely?” Jamie had been building up her courage to discuss an idea, but it was on a delicate subject so she had to be cautious.

Dave let go of her hands and leaned back. He considered her request for a moment. “I’ll allow it, but if you intend to bend a rule choose your words with care. Abuse the privilege and you can expect to be disciplined in turn. Go ahead.”

Jamie began to regret asking for permission. She didn’t see how her question could be harmful but that would be his decision to make. Taking a deep breath she went ahead. “Sir, it’s about the way you use these,” she leaned forward, wiggling her hands held close together at her back, “to physically control me. Don’t misunderstand, sir, I’m not complaining, or asking you to release me. I’d never question your right to restrain me as you see fit. What I want to say is,” she lowered her head in embarrassment, “I like it when I’m your helpless captive. I love that feeling of unyielding steel around my wrists, my ankles, my waist, my throat. Without challenging your authority in any way, I want to ask if you would consider using your chains more frequently, and if you might consider more, umm, stringent ways to use them.”

Her request was unexpected. At times he had seen her eagerness to be put in handcuffs, but he attributed it to her desire to please him. “Well, you surprised me. I didn’t expect you to ask for something like that. It’s a reasonable request. From now on I’ll see to it that your freedom of movement will be substantially reduced. And you have my permission to mention any ‘stringent ways’ that appeal to you.”

Moving closer to her, their legs touching, he put an arm around her shoulders, holding her tight against him. “Nothing will ever separate us. You and I, Jamie, we were destined to be brought together. If I have any regrets, it’s that it took so long to find you.”

She laid her head on his shoulder, enjoying his embrace. “Me too, sir. I’m so happy you chose to own me.”

Eye of the Beholder

At the sound of the knock on his door Adam Berman looked up. Ben Grimes was standing in the hallway. “Morning Adam, are you busy? I might have some good news for you.”

Adam looked up from his display. “What’s up? I could use some good news. Reviewing our backlog on Monday mornings is always depressing.”

Ben sat down across the desk. “I think I’ve found some help for you. She’s not familiar with medical data entry, but she is smart and I’m sure she can pick it up with some training. What do you think?”

Adam leaned back in his chair. “Sounds good to me. Someone with experience would be ideal, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. We can do the training ourselves. It would be up to Samantha to determine if your candidate can fill the job, but if she’s bright and eager I’m sure we can use her. That’s if she really wants it. People haven’t exactly been breaking down the doors applying for data entry jobs.”

Ben hesitated for a moment, thinking about how to bring up the next part. “About wanting the job, there is one thing you should know. I can just about guarantee she’ll be eager, as you put it. Her name is Jamie, a friend of my Elise. They met at the Facility. I talked to her owner on Saturday about it. He’s agreed to come in and look around first. If he’s satisfied she will take the job, even though he hasn’t told her about it yet.”

Adam nodded. “Okay, I get the picture.” He thought about it. “Well, you’re the expert when it comes to Facility women. I’m sure there’s a catch. You know more about that sort of thing, what do you think?”

Ben leaned forward. “Well, there is sort of a catch, at least on the management side. First of all, she can be supervised by a woman for day to day work, but she must report to a man who’s in overall charge. That will have to be you. She must appear before you as soon as she arrives each morning, so you know she’s on time, and she can’t leave the building without your permission, unless her master comes to pick her up. I have similar rules for Elise. If you are unavailable you will have to delegate someone else to be the authority figure, and it will have to be male, to cover for you. You’ll have to be very careful about that. She will be fanatical about adhering to company policy. It sounds strange but she literally cannot start work until after she’s checked in with you. She will stand in the hallway outside your office, all day if necessary, waiting for your permission to start.

Adam nodded. “Understood, I can do that. You may not know that we already have a newly collared woman doing data entry. I just had a condensed version of this conversation last week. She also has to check with me. Anything else?”

Ben grinned. “Oh yeah, there’s more. When she shows up in the morning, you can’t just wave your hand to dismiss her. You have to do a daily inspection. Check that she has a neat appearance and you are satisfied she is ready to go to work. Ask questions about her work every so often, show that you pay attention. It’s about being useful. She has to see you take it seriously. And don’t hurry, either. If you’re busy, make her wait outside your office until it’s convenient for you.”

Adam laughed. “You know, I’ve worked in places where I’d be fired on the spot if I did something like that with a female employee. And I’d definitely be sued for harassment too.”

Ben shook his head. “Not to worry. She’s permanently owned, her master’s property, no legal status. She can’t sue anybody. Here on the Island the law is very different. She expects you to act that way, and if you don’t she’ll be upset and worried she did something wrong. That’s another thing you have to watch for, she’ll always assume she was at fault if something goes wrong. It’ll be your job to keep those guilt trips to a minimum.”

Adam shrugged. “Okay, I can live with that. What else, dare I ask?”

“Her master is extremely strict with Jamie. She has to have limited contact with others, especially men. That includes you and me, by the way. You’ll need to keep it at arm’s length, no socializing or personal questions, strictly professional attitude, and the door to your office must always be open when it’s just the two of you. She also has to stand while in your office, no sitting down. She’s to have no contact with the public, and interaction with anyone else should be limited to her immediate work area. You’ll need to fill in Samantha about all this.

“And speaking of Samantha, she has to make sure Jamie has deadlines to complete her work, nothing open-ended, and make sure she’s never idle. I can tell you from personal experience this type of woman is driven to please. They take pride in completing tasks given to them, but it has to be specific and show a tangible result. You have to be sincere about praise too. You’d be amazed at how perceptive they are. Don’t ever say something just to get by; they’ll spot fake approval immediately.”

Adam shook his head. “Wow, I can imagine Samantha’s reaction when I tell her she has to, quite literally, be a slave driver with her new employee. What about the other women working around her?”

Ben leaned back in his chair. “Not so much an issue there. She is allowed to speak to other women, even go to lunch with them. And speaking of lunch, she will have to report to you before and after her lunch hour, if she leaves the building. If she stays inside and eats at the cafeteria then she can ask Samantha instead, but otherwise you have to approve it.”

“Don’t they have travel permits for that sort of thing? Do I need to be involved?” Like most all the inhabitants on the Island Adam knew the general rules for collared females, but he wasn’t sure about women from the Facility.

“She has to have her permit to be at work, since her master isn’t around. She still can’t leave the building on her own, without the permission of someone in charge, and that’s you. To borrow an Island legal term, you are in loco magistri, Latin for ‘in place of the master’, acting on behalf of her owner. She will expect you to enforce her rules, where she can go, and for how long. Time limits are important too. If she’s ever late, or you see her outside without permission, you need to treat it as a serious matter. Issue a stern warning and then send her master an email about what happened. He’ll deal with it when he picks her up.”

Adam frowned when he heard that last part. “Wait a minute, you said ‘in place of’. Does that mean she’ll do whatever I tell her? That can’t be right.”

Ben shook his head. “No, not quite like that. Anything related to work, yes, you make the final decisions, as long as it doesn’t conflict with her master’s instructions. From her point of view you are the final authority at work. Samantha is your representative, delegated to supervise according to your policies but not act in a true administrative role.”

Ben continued, “You know how the people you manage always complain to each other about all the things you get wrong? Well, she won’t do that, and she won’t participate if the others start in. Whether you get it right or not she sincerely believes it’s not her place to criticize. If you ask for suggestions she can contribute with some constructive suggestions, but otherwise your way is the only way.”

Adam chuckled, “Now that part I like.”

“Just remember, with her you have to be aloof, formal, decisive, and most of all you have to keep track of how well she does her job. Your other employees are going to notice the way you treat her differently and may complain to you in the mistaken belief they are supporting her. You’ll have to be prepared for that. I suggest you talk it over with Samantha first, since she’ll be the one to hear the complaints before you.”

Adam nodded, “Yeah, I see what you mean. Okay, we’ll see how it works out, if her owner agrees to it. Not up to her at all?”

Ben shook his head. “Oh no, it’s his decision alone. I’m sure if it doesn’t work out for her he’ll make some adjustments, but she will do whatever he tells her. She knows it will be his choice if she works here, and she will accept his judgment, whatever it is. That I can guarantee; just ask Elise.”

First Day Jitters

For Jamie Monday morning did not start off like most weekdays. To begin, Dave had ordered her to wait on the couch before sitting down beside her. “Today you will wear one of those new outfits we picked out over the weekend. Put on the light brown one, I think it suits you. We’re visiting an office this morning, prepare yourself accordingly. You may take a purse with you. And you will wear your belt.”

One mystery was now explained. Over the weekend Dave had taken her shopping for a new wardrobe. His instructions had been simple, something suitable for working in a professional office environment. It wasn’t an unusual requirement by itself. She had quickly figured out the office look appealed to him, for whatever reason. Still it had been slow going. At first he turned down everything she picked out. With the help of the store clerk she finally found a few combinations that earned his approval. He hadn’t been forthcoming as to why she needed new clothes, and as always she knew better than to ask. He would explain when she needed to know, and not before then. Maybe she’d finally find out the reason now.

“I’m sure you’re wondering what’s going on? I’ve been asked to put you to work at the Clinic. It’s a position in their records department. Our good Dr. Grimes made a persuasive case to bring you in to help out. The job involves converting paper records to computer, and something about file management.”

Her first reaction was surprise, followed by apprehension. “Sir? I don’t know anything about medical records. Do you think I can do the job? I’m afraid I’ll just make a mess that someone else will have to clean up.” His announcement was quite a shock to Jamie. She had quickly become accustomed to relying on him for everything, including dealing with strangers. Now she’d be on her own. “Will I have to work with patients?”

He put his hand over hers, as always carefully crossed on her lap. “No, you will not deal with the public or patients. I made that requirement clear. You will be in an administrative office separated from the reception area. And you will be trained before handling actual records. One of my conditions is that you will know exactly what is required, and they will make sure you know the correct procedures.” With his other hand he brushed away some stray hair from her face. “Jamie, I’ve checked into this carefully. I’ve been out there, met the people, and looked around. I’m satisfied that you can do the job, and your workplace will not conflict with what I want for you.”

She saw his eyes narrow. His voice shifted to the “matter of fact” tone she thought of as his command voice. “We’ll give it a week, to try it out. Next weekend we’ll discuss how it went, and I’ll decide then if you’ll continue. Is that clear?”

It was all too clear to Jamie. He wasn’t asking, he was telling her what was going to happen. She now had a job at the Clinic. “Yes, sir, I understand.” There was one benefit to being kept in the dark until the last moment. If he had told her yesterday she would have been up all night worrying about today. His way, she only had a few minutes for her imagination to run wild with all the possible disasters awaiting her.

“Now, we’ll need to go over your rules for the office. You have permission to talk to the staff while at the Clinic. Outside of work if you happen to encounter anyone you know, hmm,” he thought for a moment. “You may talk to the female staff members, but a conversation with male staff still requires my permission. You will not leave the building without notifying the department head. Unless work requires you go elsewhere you will stay in your assigned area. You may visit the cafeteria for lunch, or go out with your coworkers, but it must be with two or more if you leave the building, and in a group there must be at least one other woman present. Be sure you notify your supervisor when you leave for lunch and when you return. You will also text me a message when you leave and return from lunch, so I’ll know where you are.”

Dave stood up and held out his hand. “You will wear your belt to work from now on.” That particular requirement came as no surprise to Jamie. He liked the idea of her in the chastity belt so much that she now had to wear it every time she left the house. He also took his time in releasing her when they got home. In the future she’d have to think through the consequences before coming up with more ideas like that.

He reached in his shirt pocket and removed two plastic cards. “I’ve set up your debit card so you can use it for lunch.” Jamie took them and dropped them in her purse. “You’ll need the travel card since you’ll be outside the house.”

“Now, after today you will report to Mr. Berman, he’s the department head, as soon as you arrive. You’ll meet him this morning. He’s also the one who will give you permission to leave the building, either for lunch or something work related. Unless I’m picking you up you will leave when he dismisses you. He will be in overall charge while you are working. If he’s not available he will tell you what the alternatives will be. Is that clear?”

“Yes, sir, I understand.” Left unsaid but obvious to Jamie, Mr. Berman would also be the one sending her master reports on her progress at work, and especially if there were any behavior issues. There would be no opportunity to slack off.

“Your immediate supervisor will be Samantha Gonzalez. She will handle your training and work assignments. If you eat in the cafeteria you may ask her for permission to leave for lunch. You will also report to her when you come back. No Facility rule here, you can use her first name unless she tells you otherwise. One thing, she cannot give you permission to leave the building regardless of the reason. If she does ask, although I doubt she will, explain to her you need Mr. Berman’s permission. He’s aware it’s important that your movements are carefully tracked, and I know where you are at all times.” Jamie nodded in agreement. He had anticipated all her questions, as he often did. The way he planned everything in detail, never leaving her in doubt, confirmed her belief that he really did look out for her.

“One exception, if you have lunch with your friend Elise you may leave the building after obtaining permission from Mr. Berman. With anyone else there must be two others if you go out for lunch, but your friend Elise will be a special case.”

That did bring up a question. “Sir, would it be possible to extend my lunch break if Elise and I went out? We have so much to catch up on.”

The momentary frown on his face told her that had been a bad idea. “No, you will stay within the time limits for your regular lunch hour, regardless of who is with you. During work hours you are there for a purpose; I expect you to act accordingly.”

For a moment Jamie envied Elise her extra freedom, before she realized both of them might share the same constraint on their time. For that matter, she didn’t even know if Elise was allowed to go out for lunch.

Dave finished his instructions for her. “That covers it for now. Anything that comes up during the day you handle as you think best until we can talk about it. You can text me at any time if needed. Now, go take your shower. Let me know when you’re ready for your belt, before you get dressed.”

On The Job

Jamie stared at the closed door of the department head’s office, wondering what was going on inside. This had to be the strangest job interview she’d ever been on. She glanced up at the clock on the wall. Nearly half an hour now she’d been waiting while her master talked to Mr. Berman, the department head. The discussion must be about her, but she wasn’t involved.

When told to wait she had picked out a spot on the couch directly in front of the office door. Once more she glanced down to make sure everything was in order, feet precisely aligned, hands in place, knees not quite touching, and no wrinkles anywhere in her skirt or blouse. The moment that door opened the first thing they would see was a Facility trained woman, one that was properly managed by her owner. More than anything she wanted everyone here at the Clinic to respect her master, and the best way to achieve that was for her to be perfect in every aspect.

She heard chairs being pushed back, and from the shadows on the frosted glass it looked like they were standing up. Quickly she sat up straight, head up, looking directly at the door. At first she had been worried about taking a job at the Clinic, or anywhere else, since he wouldn’t be there with her. Over the last half hour she had just about talked herself into thinking it might be a good idea after all. It would be nice to meet more people, and she was running out of things to do in the house by herself. Jamie hoped her master had negotiated an agreement that would let her stay. Whatever the outcome she did trust him to choose the best course for her. It would be a disappointment if she had to return home, but there would be other opportunities, and he would find one that suited her.

What a difference from her last job, back in Los Angeles. Besides the initial interview there had been two follow-ups, and then a three week wait before she finally got an offer after some negotiations on salary. Now he took care of all of that, including the most difficult part of all, figuring out if she should accept or not.

When the door opened both men were smiling and joking about the business district’s perpetually last place amateur basketball team. Jamie didn’t move but she felt excited, sure she had the job. Dave stopped in front of her, pausing for a moment to look her over before holding out his hand. “Stand up, Jamie. I want you to say hello to Mr. Berman.”

She took Dave’s hand and stood up, “Pleased to meet you, sir.”

“And I’m happy to welcome you to our department, Jamie. It may not be glamorous like the emergency rooms on those TV shows, but without us the Clinic would quickly grind to a stop.”

“Jamie,” Dave began, “you’ll start immediately. Mr. Berman will show you where you’ll be working, and he’ll introduce you to Mrs. Gonzalez, who will be your supervisor. There will be no changes to the rules I laid out this morning. I’ll pick you up tonight.” He held her hand for a moment to say goodbye before he headed toward the exit.

Jamie watched her master leave, for the moment forgetting where she was. “Jamie? The records office is this way.” Adam Berman gestured toward a hallway.

“Oh, I’m sorry, sir. I was distracted.” She turned to follow him.

“You don’t have to…” Adam stopped mid-sentence. Jamie looked up at him, unsure of what he was going to say. “Seems it’s my turn to apologize. I forgot, you do have to call me ‘sir’. Correct me if I’m wrong, but from what I’m told no one can tell you to stop doing that.”

Jamie shrugged. “You’re right, sir. That’s what we call a ‘hard’ rule. It can never be rescinded, even temporarily, and my master has explicitly stated there are absolutely no exceptions. If you do ask me I’m afraid I must continue anyway. I have no choice in the matter.”

I’ll have to be more careful in the future, Adam told himself. Ben warned me about that. He stopped at the door to the records office. “Here we are. After reporting to me first thing in the morning this is where you’ll go. Samantha will be your immediate supervisor, but you can always ask to see me, Jamie, if you think it best I handle something work related.”

“Thank you, sir. I’ll try not to be a bother.” Jamie stood in front of the door but pointedly did not reach for the handle.

Curious, Adam didn’t immediately open the door for her. When she made no move to go in he finally asked, “You can’t open the door by yourself?”

Jamie shook her head. “Oh no, sir! You’re in charge so I have to wait for you to give me permission to enter, when you hold the door for me. I can’t leave a room either, as long as you’re there too.”

Adam realized this was going to get complicated. Jamie had a set way of doing things, ways he couldn’t ask her to ignore, but her way was radically different compared to existing employees. He wondered how Ben managed to keep track of it all between Elise and the other nurses.

For a brief moment Adam wondered about a woman like Jamie. Being a product of corporate America’s usual management track he had learned to live with the hefty amount of political correctness required to advance a business career. Escaping from it had been a major factor in his recent decision to move to the Island. The woman standing in front of him was living proof that, at least in one isolated part of the world, the progress for that type of social engineering had been set back about five hundred years. Maybe it was time he found out more about the Facility from Ben Grimes.

The moment Adam opened the door Jamie went in first before turning to wait for him. The office manager, Samantha, heard them come in and came out of her office. “Hello Adam, this must be Jamie, our new addition?”

“That’s right. Jamie, I’ll leave you with Samantha. She’ll get you started.” Adam handed Jamie his business card after he wrote something on the back. “Samantha, all of Jamie’s orientation has been taken care of, so you can skip those sessions. And Jamie, when you leave for the day you will come by my office first.” He remembered to tell, not ask her, from Ben’s advice. “If I’m not there you will call my cell phone.”

“Thank you, sir,” Jamie replied. She dropped his card in her purse. Adam Berman turned and left, closing the door behind him.

“Nice to meet you, Jamie, call me Sam for short,” Samantha began. “Come on in and meet our team.” Besides Samantha there were two other women in the office. The younger of the two stood out, marked by the collar fastened around her neck. “Donna is responsible for document tracking and quality control,” the older woman raised her hand, “and Greta does our new records data entry.” The younger woman, with the collar around her neck, raised her hand. “You will be handling conversion data entry, our backlog, so Greta will work with you on training. Once you’re up to speed Donna will audit your initial entries to make sure they’re correct. Remember accuracy is more important than speed. Lives depend on what’s in those database entries.”

Samantha took Jamie by the arm and led her to the back of the office. “Here’s your spot. Sorry, it’s a little on the cramped side but we’re short on space right now. Have a seat,” she gestured toward the empty office chair. “Any office supplies you need, just ask Donna or Greta. They’ll show you where everything is at.”

“Is there any paperwork I have to fill out first?” There were always forms for benefits, payroll and whatever else Human Resources needed from new employees.

Sam shook her head. “Normally yes, but in your case it’s all been taken care of. HR may send around some orientation material for you, but I expect most everything will go to your, uhh, owner.”

Jamie sat down at her workstation. They didn’t have separate cubicles but at least everyone had their own desk, with a little space between them. Samantha continued, “Your first assignment, Jamie, will be to go through the online training course. Take your time, there’s a lot of information it covers. You should finish it by tomorrow afternoon. After that, Greta can run through some practice documents with you, until you feel comfortable with the process. I don’t want you to rush on this, because these are medical records for real people. Anything you don’t understand or seems confusing, ask Greta. She’ll show you how to log on and start the course. Any questions?”

Jamie sat in position, hands carefully crossed in her lap while she listened to Samantha. She kept her eyes on Samantha but did notice both the other women looking at her intently. I’m the stranger here, Jamie told herself, they must be curious about me.

“No questions, uhh…Sam,” Jamie answered. That was one of her master’s office rules, use whatever name her supervisor wanted, not the usual formalities. “I hope all of you will be patient with me. I’m not familiar with this type of work.”

“That’s okay. Here’s your user name and password to log in to the computer.” She handed Jamie a slip of paper. “Greta, can you get Jamie started? If you need me I’ll be in my office.” Samantha turned to leave. Jamie saw her open a side door near the front and go into the supervisor’s office.

Greta rolled her chair over to Jamie and whispered, “That ‘office’ is a converted closet. There’s barely enough room for a tiny desk. As you can tell, we aren’t at the top of budget priorities, although we have been promised more space, eventually.”

She pointed to her collar. “It seems we have something in common.” She lowered her voice to a whisper. “If you don’t mind me asking, your collar…were you trained at the Facility?”

Jamie nodded. “I don’t mind. Yes, I was there until a few months ago.” She considered asking Greta about her collar but decided it might be better if she volunteered the information.

Greta started at her, eyes wide. “Could we talk sometime, maybe at lunch? My husband Tom and I moved to the Island a year ago. I’ve only had this,” she touched her collar, “for a short time. I’m still learning about all I have to do now. I’d love to get some advice, especially from someone like you.”

“I’ll have to get permission from my master first,” Jamie answered, “but I don’t think he’ll object. I’ll check tonight and let you know tomorrow.”

Greta looked relieved. “Could you? It would sure help.” She hesitated a moment, “Ahh, do you think I should ask Tom, my master, about getting advice?”

Jamie shrugged. “I can’t answer that. From my experience I would always ask master first.” She picked up a post-it notepad from her desk and began writing. “Here, this is my owner’s email address. Give it to your master in case he has any questions. That way they can discuss it first.”

“Thanks, that’s a good idea. I’ll bring it up with him tonight. Okay, you log in and we’ll get started.”

Lunchtime Interrogation

The morning went well, starting with her desk assignment and an introductory training course on the computer. Once she got into the interesting part of the course she forgot about her surroundings. She didn’t realize it was lunchtime until the others got up from their desks.

Samantha came over to her desk. “Jamie, it’s time for our lunch break. Would you like to come with us to the cafeteria? I thought we might have a little get-acquainted session?”

“I’d love to,” Jamie replied. “Umm, I’m supposed to ask you first, before I go. Is it okay if I leave the office?” She remained seated, waiting on Sam. She noticed a frown on Donna’s face, watching her from the doorway.

“Oh,” Samantha seemed surprised by her request. “Sure, you can go to lunch. Sorry, Adam did warn me about your unique requirements. I forgot.”

Picking up her purse Jamie followed the group out into the hall. In the cafeteria they picked up their food and found an empty table.

“If it’s not too personal, can I ask what the difference is between your collar and a regular one?” That came from Sam. “I know that particular color represents an unrestricted agreement, but I’m not sure exactly what it means.”

Jamie realized she had to be careful how she answered. “Well, it’s mostly a matter of degree. You know about the regular Island program, where an owner’s restrictions are gradually reduced over time? The collar I wear,” she was careful in the phrasing, “is the final stage, no restrictions, no time limits. In a very literal sense I become his property for the rest of my life. There are no legal prohibitions on what he chooses to do with me, and I can’t place any limitations on how I’m treated.”

Donna stared at Jamie, eyes wide. “But…I’m sorry, aren’t you afraid he might hurt you, or worse?”

Jamie shrugged. “I suppose it could happen, but I don’t think my master would ever abuse me that way. It’s easy to play the ‘what if’ game, what if he orders me to walk off a cliff, what if he commands me to rob a bank, but in the real world those things don’t happen. He does so much for me that all I actually worry about is disappointing him.”

“What about working here? Does he have any control over your salary?” This was also from Donna.

Jamie shook her head. “Normally it depends on the agreement, but for unrestricted any questions on money are simple. Legally I’m not even allowed to handle cash, much less manage my own finances. I can’t own anything, even a bank account. I don’t really earn a wage either; it all goes to him. My master lets me use a debit card to make small purchases, but he has strict instructions on how I can use it. I don’t even know what the spending limit on it is. For that matter, I have no idea what my salary here is either.”

“I have one of those cards too,” Greta added. “I still can’t get used to the idea behind it. Tom, that’s my master, set it up for me but we discuss all our finances so I’m involved.”

“The laws are very much one-sided when it comes to me,” Jamie continued. “Here on the Island the body of law has a specific purpose, to ensure I am completely dependent on my owner for my survival. Taking away any means of independent support is a key part in enforcing how I must rely on him. I have no legal standing, I can’t sign a contract so I can’t open a checking account or sign up for my own bank card, and no store will do business with me unless I have a valid travel permit to go with the debit card.”

Samantha shook her head. “I know we’re on the Island. Men run everything here, and I’m fine with that, but I still want to make some decisions on my own.”

Jamie shrugged. “To each their own, as the cliché goes. This was the right choice for me, but that doesn’t mean it works for everyone else. Any woman here on the Island, knowing how we live, has to accept a society based on what I’d call uninhibited male domination. How much, or how little we as women want to live with that fact, well, that’s why there are laws and regulations to protect us, but also to ensure we stick with the choices we make.”

“I can’t argue with that, Jamie,” Samantha began. “I’m happy where I am now. Truth is, there are times I’ve been tempted to try the collar, at least for a year, like Greta. I’m not ready to go there at this point in my life, but I don’t rule it out. I’ve heard some people don’t like the Facility program, especially its requirements. Truth is I don’t know all that much about it.”

Donna jumped back into the conversation. “Nothing against you, Jamie, but I’m one of those people who don’t care for how the Facility operates. The idea of being handed over to a man, someone you don’t even know, for the rest of your life, I have to believe it’s inherently wrong.”

Jamie was careful in how she answered, preferring tact to confrontation. “I appreciate that may be how it looks from the outside, but there’s more to how the Facility operates. What you say is true; it wasn’t up to me to pick the man who now owns me. I did know that would happen if I entered the program. I gave it a lot of thought beforehand, and I wasn’t hasty about agreeing to the conditions. All I can say is it worked out well for me. Given a choice I’d do it again.”

Two Points of View

“Let me make sure. She asked you, you didn’t bring it up first?” During dinner Jamie had told Dave about Greta’s request.

“Yes, sir, she was the one who started the conversation. I’d never presume to offer my advice without permission. I wouldn’t want her master to think I was interfering in any way.” She stabbed the last of the green beans on her plate with her fork.

He nodded in agreement. “Quite right. Relationships are complicated enough without some third party poking the hornet’s nest. On the other hand, we can all benefit from someone else’s experience, even if it only serves as a warning on what not to do. I’ll agree to this, on one condition. I want to talk to her owner directly, before anything else. Let your friend know I need to hear from her master before you have that talk.”

“I passed on your email address, sir. I was sure you wanted to check first.”

Jamie watched Dave while chewing on her food. His approach did make sense. Greta and her master were unknowns, although Greta seemed to be friendly and not some mental case. “Sir, you should know one of the women in the office doesn’t have a very high opinion of the Facility. She wasn’t hostile toward me, but I got the impression she was uncomfortable with me around.”

He put down his fork. “Unfortunately you’re going to encounter people like that; not much we can do about it. Let me know if it becomes a problem and I’ll deal with it. What did she say to you?”

“Nothing insulting or hostile, sir. All she said was the Facility requirement, not having a choice for my master, was immoral. She didn’t elaborate. I did explain that I knew what I was doing, and I don’t regret the results.” She smiled at him. “Not for one minute have I regretted it, sir. Well, since I left anyway. There were times during my stay I had to ask myself why I ever signed up.”

“Good answer. When you come across someone like that, don’t argue. You won’t change their mind.” She noticed his expression change to thoughtful concentration. “Since your Greta is looking for advice, why don’t you include Elise in your conversation? Give her two points of view.” What Dave left out was a concern Jamie’s extreme dependence on him might need to be balanced by someone else’s more pragmatic viewpoint.

“One more thing,” he added, “why don’t you invite Greta for the afternoon on Saturday, here at the house? I have a few things to do so you’ll have plenty of time without me hanging around. You’ll have more privacy than the break room at work, and more time to talk. I’ll discuss it with Dr. Grimes tonight, to set it up with Elise. I’ll mention it to Greta’s master if, when I hear from him.” Dave stopped, but she could see he was debating something more. “Providing it works out, you have permission to speak frankly, without any restrictions, with Greta. I won’t require you to repeat your conversation to me. There will be no further discussion about this tonight.”

Jamie stared at her master, her mouth open in shock. If she understood him correctly he had just given her blanket permission to say whatever she wanted, on any subject, and not tell him about it afterwards. He’d never done that before, and she wouldn’t dream of asking approval for something like what he’d just handed her.

“Unless you’re going to eat that pork chop you might want to close your mouth.” Quickly Jamie used her fork to take a bite of meat. She had no answer, in part because he’d said the magic words. No discussion meant just that.

Tom and Greta

An Evening Out

“Tom? What do you think? Is this okay? It might be a little too dressy. Are bare shoulders too much? It is stylish now; just look at the women reporters on TV.”

Tom Cooper looked up as soon as he finished slipping on his shoes. Greta had picked out one of his favorites, a pastel green sleeveless dress ending not too far above her knees. “You look great. After all, it’s the community playhouse, not a high society opera debut. You’ll fit right in.”

“Should I change? Do you want to pick out something else? Whatever you want, sir, all you have to do is tell me.” Tom had a premonition this particular scene was going to be repeated over and over again in the very near future. Fortunately indecision was an easy problem to solve.

“Greta, you will wear your green dress and those heels you have on. There will be no further discussion. And I’ve told you before, leave off the ‘sir’ until you have a collar. It’s a sensitive area; we’ll respect others’ feelings for a few more days.”

“Yes, si…Tom. I’m sorry I forgot. It feels right, calling you ‘sir’, so I kinda slip into the routine even if it is premature. Do you wish to punish me for being disobedient?”

“I’ll let you know if correction will be necessary. Beside, you do still have a few more days of freedom left. Technically, you can tell me to take a flying leap off a cliff using colorful and explicitly detailed language.”

She had a horrified look on her face. “Sir! Uhh, Tom, you know very well I’d never do such a thing! Maybe I’m not wearing your collar yet, but in my heart it’s been there since the day we met.”

“After Tuesday morning then you can start. For now I want you to use my name. Enjoy the privilege while it lasts. After all, come Tuesday everything changes.”

Greta turned around to look at Tom. “So, I can do whatever I want for a few more days? I don’t have to be submissive and obedient?” she asked innocently.

This is a trap, was his first reaction. No matter how he answered it was going to backfire, in some way he didn’t foresee. “That’s right,” he sighed, resigned to a losing position. “I can’t order you around…for now.”

The big smile on her face was all the warning he needed. I’m going to regret this.

“In that case, sir, I’m ready to go. Let’s go see if our local Performing Arts Center is worth all those donations. The reviews are promising. And if you do fall asleep, sir, I’ll give you an elbow in the ribs before you start to snore.”

Back in Utah, before they moved to the Island the two of them had fallen into a natural sort of relationship, where Tom assumed the role of dominant partner by default. They weren’t in the LDS Church, though in that part of the country the Church’s influence permeated society throughout the state. Most of their relatives were LDS, so they were well aware of the basic tenets of the Mormon religion. How much of that influence was responsible for the way they built their marriage? Tom had to admit, though he wasn’t religious, he did respect most LDS customs, including his duties as head of household.

Greta wasn’t a church member either, yet she’d fit right in. She had a well-defined sense of her place at Tom’s side. Moving to the Island had not tempered her ideals in the slightest. On the contrary, it was her idea to begin the process where she would become his property. Tom had protested at first, though he had to admit his objections had rung hollow.

She’d won him over, a common occurrence. Greta had remarkable powers of persuasion. At least that’s what Tom told himself, to rationalize his own craving for power over her. Now they were about to embark on the one year trial period. For better or worse, Tom thought, that’s what I promised. No matter how it turns out we’ll still be together.


“You can still back out, you know,” Tom told her. “If you don’t want to do this I’m fine with things the way they are now. But once you sign on the dotted line there’s no going back for either of us.”

Greta shook her head. “No, Tom, stop trying to talk me out of it. I want to go through with this. It’s what we both worked for, or at least I hope you’re still willing to sign that dotted line too. Besides, what can happen in a year?” She couldn’t believe she was the one trying to persuade him into the agreement. After all, she had far more to lose, including her freedom.

“Yes, I’m still willing, more than ever. And not just for a year either. Once we start it will be forever and a day, as far as I’m concerned. This won’t end a year from now, or two, or ten, or even twenty.” He rested his hands on her shoulders. “All I’m asking is if you can live with belonging to me for the rest of your life, because that’s what’s going to happen.”

Greta stared into his eyes, captivated by the measured intensity she felt deep within him. His words, the tone of his voice, the way he spoke as if it was already an accomplished fact, all reached deep into her own soul, touching that need she had for a strong, determined man who stopped at nothing to accomplish whatever he set out to do. A man like that she’d follow anywhere

“Alright then, we better get going. I have everything we need in the car. Next stop is the Registration office. After that, well, I’ll tell you when you need to know.” Tom took hold of her wrist in an iron grip and led her toward the front door. She followed him, eager to sign the contract that gave him the right to lock a collar around her neck, to claim her as his property.

In the car she studied him, looking for any sign he might have doubts. While it was a big step for her, handing over complete control over her life to this man, she was positive his was a far greater burden. With total control comes an equal measure of obligation, and it all fell on his shoulders. She couldn’t begin to imagine the stress he was taking on. Tom had to take care of her, keep her fed and clothed, manage all their finances, a list that kept growing every time she thought about it. It would be his job to see to it she obeyed all the Island laws, the ones that took effect the moment that collar went on; as well as his own limits for her. He would have to watch her constantly, checking the smallest details to keep her in line and see to it she was properly obedient in all the ways he demanded, while at the same time controlling every facet of her life. And if she did fail him, he had to take the steps necessary to teach her not to repeat mistakes.

Discipline, punishment, those words scared yet fascinated her with what they implied. Greta often speculated on the ways he might correct her. To be a strong master, to fulfill his promise to her, there would come a day when he would be required to extract a price for failing to obey him. She dreaded when that day would come, yet her thoughts kept coming back to how he might act.

“If you expect me to grow a shaggy coat, long claws and razor-sharp fangs you have to wait for the next full moon. There’s a fixed schedule for masters to turn into monsters. Sorry, but I can’t change it. Rules, you know, gotta live with ‘em even if you don’t like ‘em.”

She started to laugh. “Yes, sir, rules are made never to be broken. That particular lesson I’ve learned well. I was just wondering, are you really going to turn into a monster the moment I’m in your clutches?”

“In my clutches, I like the sound of that.” He turned onto the parking lot in front of an office building. She saw the sign near the entrance. This was it, the Registration office. “It has a sinister undertone, a sense of foreboding. You just know something terrible will happen at any moment. By the way, when is the next full moon?”

“You, sir, are no monster, no matter how you try to convince me. Seriously Tom, you can’t scare me out of this. I’m certain that with you in charge I’ll be the happiest woman on the Island. Sure, I know there will be bad days, when all I want is for this to end so I can walk away, but when I calm down I’ll be wrong and you’ll be right. See? I trust your judgment more than my own. That’s why we’re here.”

He parked the car and switched off the motor. “I may not be as altruistic as you think. I’ll look after you, but that won’t stop me from being selfish too. Okay, the sooner we finish this the sooner I can start clutching you. Is that right? It sounds more like something from car racing.”

Greta shook her head while opening the car door. She knew he was deliberately keeping the mood light-hearted, and she could guess the reason why. He was worried she might be anxious, on edge, maybe even a little afraid at the momentous changes coming. If that was his intention it was working. She felt relaxed, confident this was the right decision, with no regrets.

Stroke of a Pen

“Everything’s in order, sir. All that remains is signing your agreement. There must be two witnesses aside from me, since I’m acting as the Notary. Did you bring someone to act as a witness? If not I’ll call in a couple of the supervisors here.” The clerk behind the desk was very businesslike.

Tom shook his head. “No, it’s just the two of us. If you could find some witnesses I’d appreciate it.”

It only took a moment for her to find two volunteers. “We’ll start with you,” she explained to Greta, placing an innocent looking sheet of paper in front of her. The agreement was surprisingly short and easy to understand. For the next year, it stated, she would become the property of the man standing next to her. The section on conditions had a single word, none, by Greta’s own choosing. Early on she had come to the conclusion Tom should not be hampered by any preconditions from her. There would be no half way measures, no hedging on bets. Either she trusted him or she didn’t. If she was right restrictions weren’t needed; and if she was wrong putting in conditions wasn’t going to be much in the way of consolation.

Picking up the pen she signed her full, legal name, perhaps for the very last time. The moment the agreement went into effect her signature had no legal significance. By Island law she no longer had a last name either; it was replaced with her collar registration number. She handed the pen to Tom without saying a word.

She watched as he scrawled his barely legible signature on the piece of paper. That was it, no going back now. For the next year she belonged to him in every sense of the word. He handed the agreement back to the clerk, who stamped it with a notary seal after the two witnesses signed their names. The clerk turned slightly to address Tom, subtly excluding Greta. “You’ll receive a copy of this in the mail within a week. You should keep it in a safe place, sir. You’ll need it in case you give her permission to leave the Island, as proof of ownership to authorize her exit.”

In only a few seconds her status had radically changed. Anything to do with finances, with legal matters, traveling, any decision regarding her future, no longer required her consent. She looked up at Tom. All of that was on his shoulders now.

The clerk turned back to speak to Greta. “You legally belong to him for the duration of your agreement. It ends at noon on this date, one year from now. Until then you are enjoined by law to obey his commands, to observe all Island laws pertaining to your status as your owner’s property, and to demonstrate proper respect for those in authority over you. Failure to comply with these requirements carries substantial penalties. Greta, do you understand what I’ve stated?”

Greta nodded her head, “Yes, I understand.”

The clerk turned to Tom. “Sir, do you acknowledge ownership of this woman?” Greta blinked in surprise. Was that it? No dire warnings, no sharp sword of the law dangling over his head?

Before answering he opened the box sitting next to him on the counter. She knew what it was but it still sent a thrill through her to see the gleaming metal collar in his hand. She stood still, not moving a muscle while he placed it around her neck. It locked in place with a loud click.

“Yes, I claim this woman as my own,” he answered in a formal tone of voice.

First Time Collared

Tom held open the door for Greta. At his nod she went first, with him close behind. Outside the entrance to the Registration office she waited for him, looking over her shoulder to see what she should do next. He could tell she was uncertain about her new status. “Nervous? Having second thoughts?” he asked. Hand in hand they started walking toward the car.

She shook her head. “No, Tom, no regrets. It’s too late for second thoughts anyway. Maybe I’m a little uneasy about being in public. Imagine the reaction if we were still in Utah and I had this collar on.” She stopped, realizing she’d just made a mistake. “I’m sorry, sir. I forgot to use the proper form of address. See what I mean? Not five minutes and already I’m an embarrassment to you. I do know better.”

Once more she stopped. Her apology was making it worse. “Forgive me, master, I didn’t mean for that to sound like an excuse. This is not going well at all. Maybe you should just stick me in the trunk of the car until you can find a gag to shut me up.”

Tom pulled her to a halt. “Look at me.” He put a hand under her chin to lift up her head. “You’re trying too hard. Relax, let it come naturally. As far as the trunk goes, if I decide its necessary I promise you’ll be the first to know.”

She stared at him, unsure if he was joking. “No trunk. And no, I didn’t bring a gag.” He squeezed her hand. “I don’t mind if you use my name, but it should only be done in private, as you well know.” He had a thoughtful expression on his face. “Come to think of it, I don’t need a gag.” He turned her to face him. “Listen carefully, Greta. You are not to speak or make a sound, until I give you permission. Nod your head if you understand.”

Suddenly speechless she could only nod in agreement. That was clearly an order, one she was required to obey. Ironically once he became assertive she calmed down.

He glanced at his wristwatch. “Considering how long you’ve had that collar on I think you’re doing very well. It’s a big jump from a classroom to real life. All you need is a little time to break old habits. Remember, if you are ever unsure about how to behave, or worry about what you should do, think of our agreement. You ask me, because it’s not your place to make those kinds of choices anymore. It’s my job now.”

Tom spotted the car just ahead. “The parking lot isn’t the best place for this conversation. C’mon, let’s get out of here. You know me, I don’t like being anywhere near government bureaucrats, even if they were very nice and helpful.”

His offhand comment almost made her laugh. Tom did take his politics seriously. Greta thought it boring at best, though she did find his knowledge of history and current events impressive. Like so many other things now she had to rely on him to keep up with the news. He’d tell her if something important was going on. Censorship would be a difficult adjustment, but she had faith in his good intentions.

Still holding her hand he led her to the front passenger door of their car. When he let go she started to reach for the door handle but caught herself before he noticed. This was a situation they had discussed several times prior to today. Fortunately she remembered before making a mistake; now she wore his collar he opened doors for her, ostensibly out of politeness but in reality she needed his permission to go through a closed door.

Tom was well within his rights to enforce that rule now, but in any case it didn’t bother her if she had to wait. When he had first brought the restriction up, as something he planned on implementing Greta had asked him if there was some particular reason for it. His explanation was unexpectedly honest; he readily admitted it was pure selfishness on his part. As he put it, in very simple terms it was “because I can.”

She stood next to the door, patiently waiting for him. He took out the car keys, hit the unlock button, but didn’t open her door. She looked up at him, her arms at her sides.

“I wasn’t sure you’d remember,” he told her. He reached out to push aside a wisp of hair in her face. “Any man would be proud to own you, Greta. Not that they’ll ever find out, because you’re mine. And not just for the next year. Better get used to me, because now that I own you I intend to hold onto you every way I can.” He opened her door. “Okay, you can get in.”

Once she was seated he closed her door and headed around the car to his side. She took advantage of the moment to run her hand along the front of her brand new collar. It would become either an old friend or a heavy burden by this time next year. Whatever the future might bring she could count on it being there every single day. For at least the next year, she thought, hopefully for quite a bit longer.

She watched him get in the car. The first year will be the most difficult, she remembered from the classroom discussions. Both of us will be changing. Conventional wisdom said she had further to go than he did, but she had her doubts. He was assuming nearly unrestricted supervision of her life. She wouldn’t know where to start if their roles were reversed.

When he got in she looked over at him but didn’t say anything. He’s in charge, she reminded herself. No talking until he gives me permission, I have to remember it. He didn’t start the car right away. Instead he sat next to her, silently watching her every movement.

“From now on when you’re in the car you will sit facing forwards, feet together on the floor. Hands are to be in your lap, right hand holding on to your left wrist. Do it now.”

Without hesitating she placed her hands on her skirt. She’d obeyed his orders many times in the past but this felt subtly different. It wasn’t by choice she did as he asked; she couldn’t pick and choose the ways he ordered her around any longer. She looked down at her lap. If she raised a hand now he had every right to punish her, without any regard for her feelings.

Tom started the car. “A penny for your thoughts? You have permission to speak. You seem to be fascinated by your hands.”

“Yes, sir, in a way I am. I think it finally sunk in. We’re not playing at this anymore. It became very real once you told me what to do. An hour ago I could have ignored your order. Don’t misunderstand, master, I’d never do that, but I always had the option. With a collar on either I do as you wish or I pay for my disobedience.” She turned her head to face him. “Tom, for just a moment I was scared of what might happen if I didn’t get this right.” She nodded down at her hands. “The world won’t end if I move my hands, but, well, it’s hard to explain. I have to be perfect for you, not just today but every day. What scares me more than being punished is disappointing you. Please, Tom, you have to make sure I place my hands exactly the way you expect. Don’t ignore me if I get it wrong. Don’t be easy on me. If you see a mistake, no matter how minor, don’t hold back. Do whatever it takes to correct me until you’re satisfied.”

He reached out to lay his hand over hers. There was an intent look on his face. “Greta, the leniency ended today. You’re right; it is all too real now. Don’t ever doubt I will enforce my wishes. And don’t ever think I’m not checking on your diligence in obeying me. You did make another mistake though.”

Greta looked around, trying to figure out what he meant. “Sir? What did I miss?”

He looked over at her and smiled. “What makes you assume the world won’t end if you move those hands?”

Rules and Reasons

For Tom and Greta the drive home was uneventful, though he did keep an eye on her at stop lights. After he parked in the garage under their apartment he closed the outside door with the remote but didn’t open his car door. Unsure as to what he was doing Greta turned to see what he intended, after a quick glance to make sure those hands were exactly where they were supposed to be.

Tom leaned back, turning in his seat to face her. “I want to go over a few things before we go inside. For now you do the listening and I’ll do the explaining.” He reached over and placed a hand on top of hers. “We’ll start with this.”

He saw her glance down at his hand, and then back up at him with a puzzled look. “You may have got the impression I was trying to talk you out of that collar. Just the opposite, I wanted you to be absolutely sure you understand what it means. In fact I want to own you every bit as much as you want to belong to me. And now, here we are.”

His expression told her he was in a serious, thoughtful mood. “From now on, think of me as a benevolent dictator. I really do want what’s best for you, but at the same time you’ll see me acting quite selfish when I impose some restriction on you. Your hands for instance, I admit there’s actually no reason for you sitting that way other than the enjoyment I get seeing you obey me.”

Tom moved his hand down to her knee. “Speaking of being selfish, I think you have very nice legs. So from now on you’re going to show them off. Unless there’s some reason not to, you will wear only dresses from now on, and those dresses will be above the knee. This applies any time, at home, at work, or when we go out. You can choose the style, but remember if I don’t like it then it won’t stay on for very long.”

This was new but not unexpected by Greta. She already had a good idea of what he liked, but it did come as a surprise when he made a dress mandatory all day long. It wouldn’t be easy but she could manage. She nodded to show she understood.

“There are also the night time restrictions. You know I have no choice in the matter. I’ll give you some time to practice with the chains on before we have an evening out.” Neither of them had any leeway in the Island’s curfew law. She dreaded that first time out after the deadline but there was no way to avoid it. All collared females had to be closely restrained and escorted at all times outside a building. A conviction if she were caught outside at night, alone, came with a prison sentence.

“One last item, about work. There will be several changes. Tomorrow morning I’m driving you to work so I can discuss a few things with your department manager. I’ll tell you about it after I finish talking to him. I’ll allow you to take your travel permit and debit card so you can go to lunch.”

From the classroom discussions Greta knew that a travel permit was of immense value to someone like her. It wasn’t valid after curfew but during the day she could go out on her own, unescorted, as long as she had that card. Without it she was a virtual prisoner wherever she happened to be, at home or at work.

Tom opened his door and got out of the car. She watched as he came around to her side. I can see the changes already, she told herself. And in myself too, she thought, looking down at her hands for at least the tenth time. I can’t even lift a finger without his permission.

A New Day

Greta stared at her reflection in the mirror, entranced by what she saw. Once more she reached up and ran a finger around the front of the collar fastened around her neck. After months of classes, and all the hard work that started when they arrived on the Island, there it was, her dream fulfilled.

Tom, her husband and now her new master, came up behind her. He circled his arms around her before leaning down to kiss her neck. “So, what do you think? Too tight? Too heavy? Already feels like you’re being oppressed?”

She giggled and reached up to lay her hands over his. “Not at all…sir.” She almost forgot that last part. “It doesn’t bother me. I stare at my reflection, with that collar drawing a line across my throat, but I still can’t believe it’s finally happened.” She watched his face in the mirror, trying to get some idea of what was going on in the brain behind his green, piercing eyes.

“If you ever doubt it isn’t real,” he grinned as he spoke, “all you have to do is take it off. And I heard that pause. You have to be very careful about getting the ‘sir’ right. It’s not optional. Starting right now I’m going to insist on it.”

She saw his expression change, becoming serious. “So you understand, I’m going to make this a disciplinary matter.” That got Greta’s attention. “No, I’m not going to punish you. Discipline also includes learning from your mistakes. Tell me, why must you use the ‘sir’, what was the classroom reason?”

Greta thought back to the session on Island law and society. “The foundation for Island society is the principle of dominant male authority. As a woman it is my responsibility to reinforce that principle, the men are in charge. One way is to show my respect for our differences, by addressing all men as ‘sir’, acknowledging both their authority as well as my own place. More than that, now I am your property it becomes a hard rule, one that can never be altered. Accepting your collar carries with it a commitment to follow Island law. Your requirements first, sir, but I must adhere to the regulations necessary to live on the Island too.”

“A good explanation, but how does it affect you, personally? There’s a cliché, words have meaning; what does the ‘sir’ mean to you?” Tom held her close, keeping her in the center of the mirror, focusing her concentration on the moment.

“Me, sir? I can say the word does carry some weight. It’s not just going through the motions, I do sense a, hmm, a distance between you and me. Not in a bad way, more a distinction in how we look at the world, sort of a boundary line between us. I like that line, sir. I want to be on my side, surrounded by your structure for me, your rules, all you expect of me, how I should behave. The ‘sir’ is part of your limitations along with wearing a dress and whatever else you want from me. And I hope you’ll stay on your side of the line, doing what you believe to be right, being the rock of strength I can count on, caring but firm with me too. Does that make sense, sir?”

The smile that lit up his face told Greta she got it right. “Yes it does make sense. You did a better job than me with your explanation. You understand how important it is for you to get it right, every time? Can you do that for me?”

She could see he was serious. “Yes, sir, I won’t forget.” On an impulse she grabbed hold of the collar with both hands, one on each side, and pulled with all her strength. As she expected the collar remained securely locked on. She twisted in his embrace to look at him directly. “I can’t take it off.”

She put her arms around his neck, stood up on tiptoe and kissed him. “I really do belong to you, sir. Tom, will you look after me? Promise?”

He pushed back a strand of hair that had fallen over her face. “Of course I will. We’re both learning, so it might be a little rocky at the start, but no matter what I’ll be there for you. After all, you have to rely on me for everything now. You might not always agree, but when I order you around trust that it’s what I think is best. And remember, for better or worse, in sickness and health. I take those vows seriously.”

She laid her head on his chest. “I will, sir. No matter what, I want you to take charge. Anything you want, Tom. I mean it. You don’t have to ask. Tell me and I’ll do it.”

He pushed her back, holding her at arm’s length. “I believe this is a work day? You get ready while I see about something for breakfast.”

“I can fix your breakfast first…” she began.

He held up a hand to stop her. “That wasn’t a suggestion.” She saw his eyes narrow. “Is there a question here? Do I need to explain further what we’re going to do?”

In that instant she became acutely conscious of just how quickly that line between them came into being. “No, sir,” she replied, lowering her head. He had assumed his role as her master in record time. There was a new context at work behind the casual conversation between the two of them. Greta realized she had to pay more attention to how he spoke in the future. A simple statement of fact from him, this is what will happen, wasn’t a subject for discussion when he finished.

In the shower she let the warm water run over her face. One day and her entire world had changed. His last remark stuck in her head. Over and over again she replayed that moment. He wasn’t angry at her, but she felt the strength, the determination behind his words, and the way it had swept her away. There was no question; she felt compelled to obey him, to submit to his authority, in a way she had never experienced before.

Not Quite the Same

Tom parked the car in front of the Clinic, the Island’s hospital, where Greta had a job entering medical records into the patient database. So desperate was the Clinic for trained personnel they had offered her the job before the couple had even arrived on the Island. Her prior experience in data entry at a major hospital in Salt Lake was all she needed for qualifications.

She started to reach for the car door handle. “Just a moment,” Tom said, putting a hand on her arm. Greta stopped immediately, turning back to face him.

“In case you forgot, you’re going to need this.” He handed her a plastic card with her picture on it. She recognized it, her new travel permit. He was right; she had forgotten one of the basic regulations. She needed that permit to be out on her own, even at work, if she wasn’t with Tom.

“Oh! Thank you, sir. Tom, I didn’t think.” She slipped the cord attached to the permit over her head. “I thought you were going to wait before letting me use it?”

“Take this with you, too.” He handed her another card, also with her picture on it. “It’s your debit card, so you can get something to eat. I thought about it and realized you wouldn’t be able to go to lunch without one. I’m sure everyone in your office will want to know all the details.”

Greta didn’t expect much more than a passing interest in her new role. Tom was right though. They might want to take her out to lunch to celebrate. Then it struck her. He anticipated what I did not foresee. He’s already doing his job, looking out for me.

“I better look through your purse, in case you missed something.” The debit card had a cord, like the travel permit. She hung it around her neck before handing him her purse.

He opened it and began going through the contents. “Yeah, I thought so,” he began. Curious, she leaned over to see what he’d found. “Look here, four pennies in the bottom. Good thing I checked first. You’d be in trouble if you were found with these.” He jingled the change in his hand.

Greta did remember about not handling money. She’d already handed over her wallet to Tom. Cash, credit cards, her old ID, it was all gone. All she required now, all she was allowed, were the travel and debit cards. Her collar, with the registration number, served as her identification. Unfortunately she’d overlooked the loose change that always accumulates in a purse. Four pennies, but the amount wasn’t the issue. Island law didn’t make a distinction between a penny and a thousand dollars.

He must have seen the look on her face. Two major mistakes already and the day had just begun. “Forgive me, sir. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I know about the money, and the card, but I didn’t think. I…”

Tom cut her off. “Stop right there and listen to me. I told you I’d take care of you. Part of my job is to keep you pointed in the right direction. That’s what I’m doing. Stop worrying so much. I want you to trust me to cover these details.”

“So…so you’re not disappointed in me? Tom, I can’t get anything right! If it wasn’t for you I’d be in all kinds of trouble by the end of the day.” The classroom training had covered all the areas she missed, but somehow she kept forgetting what she’d been taught. Greta wanted so much for him to be proud of her, to prove to him she was perfect in every way. All she’d accomplished so far was to demonstrate how little she learned from the training sessions. She turned away from him, head hung down.

“Look at me,” he ordered, an edge to his voice. Greta raised her head but couldn’t look him in the eye. “I said look at me, right now. Do as you’re told.” Once again his commanding voice swept away all resistance. She raised her head to face him. He continued in that stern, forceful tone. “I know you, Greta. When you leave this car this is what will happen. You aren’t going to make any more mistakes. You will follow your rules, to the letter. You will show proper respect for authority; you will be mindful of your new status and act accordingly at all times, the way you learned in class. Most of all you will be confident of who you are, stand up straight and show the world the collar around your neck. Am I clear?”

Greta stared at Tom as his words sunk in. Was it a reprimand or a pep talk? She wasn’t sure which, but either way he’d make it clear what he expected from her. He left her no room for error; she had to focus all her energy on what he demanded. “Yes, sir,” she answered, “I understand. Should I go in now?”

“I’ll tell you when you can leave. One thing more,” he continued, “I’m coming in with you. There will be a short meeting between me and Adam Berman, your department head. He’s expecting us. You will sit quietly in the outer office while we discuss how your new status will affect your job. There will be some paperwork too. I’ll take care of that.”

She hadn’t considered the impact her new status would have at the Clinic. In hindsight it was obvious Tom would have to be involved. For one, without his approval she couldn’t work at all. Then there was her paycheck. Their agreement didn’t have any conditions about her finances. She knew it was a common practice in the conditions to have a portion of her earnings set aside and returned to her at the end of the year. Tom had offered to include it but she turned him down. For better or worse she was in all the way. The salary she earned would go to their joint bank account, except it wasn’t shared any longer. Only Tom could access it now.

Whatever the outcome about her future at the Clinic, she wasn’t going to be a participant in the discussion. As much as she wanted to be at the meeting she had to accept the fact Tom would speak for her. Still, her curiosity got the better of her when she asked, “Sir, will I be allowed to keep the job? I know it’s up to you, but I’d like to say I enjoy what I’m doing, and the Clinic does need my help. I think I’m making a real contribution.”

She studied Tom’s face, hoping for some clue about what he had planned for her. She could tell he was thinking about something, but he didn’t answer her question. She saw him start to smile. “You’ll be told about the results…”

“…when I need to know,” she finished for him. “Yes, sir, I remember.” He’d lost no time in picking up one of the more irritating habits of masters, keeping her in the dark until the last possible moment. She gave up on asking any more questions. His smile did leave her optimistic. After all, if she wasn’t going to continue working he would have left her at home.

Back to Work

In a chair outside Mr. Berman’s office Greta waited impatiently to find out if she still had a job. Following Tom’s instructions she sat quietly, hands in her lap as he required. In her head she anxiously went over the training sessions again and again, trying to remember everything. Tom had made it clear there were to be no more mistakes. She had to get it right from now on.

With her life in Tom’s hands she should have very little to worry about. Whatever the future would bring he would be the one to deal with it. Their contract might be for only one year but she was every bit as determined as Tom to make it a lifetime commitment. She trusted him to manage their life together, which should have left her without a care in the world.

That was the theory. Instead it opened up plenty of room for new worries. From now on her appearance, her attitude, her behavior shaped not only people’s opinions about her but of her master as well. She had to keep all that in mind constantly, starting immediately.

When the office door opened she straightened up. “I appreciate you stopping by, Tom. I’d hate to lose Greta, especially considering how far behind we are already. I’ll see to it those changes are put in place right away.”

She didn’t miss the quick glance from Tom. He’s already checking on me, she thought. The good news: from the sound of their conversation she still had a job. What might be bad news: changes were coming. Tom hadn’t mentioned anything last night or this morning about that.

Tom took hold of her arm to help her up. “It’s all arranged. Back to work for you, except your hours were altered so I can drop off and pick you up.”

Mr. Berman nodded in agreement. “We can be flexible about time. I’ll leave it up to you to see she gets here on time. I’m sure you can be far more persuasive in that area.” Greta could see he was joking. She had never been late to work since the day she started.

Tom took hold of her arms. “Greta, there will be some new rules while you’re here at work. The first and obvious one is you don’t leave the building without permission. If for some reason you need to go out you will ask Mr. Berman here for consent first, and you will report to him when you return. If he isn’t in you can leave word with his secretary. This rule is in place for several women here at the Clinic so it isn’t just for you. Any questions about it?”

“No, sir, it seems to be straightforward. I assume this doesn’t apply to an emergency, like a fire alarm?”

Mr. Berman answered that question. “For emergencies leave immediately and proceed to your meeting point. That doesn’t change. When you come back into the building you must report to my office first. If you have to stay outside for more than fifteen minutes someone will come around to check on you.”

Tom nodded in agreement. “Safety first, never put yourself in danger, Greta. Now, that other change will be interacting with fellow employees. All men are to be shown proper respect, as you know. That means last names only, even if you know them well. No exceptions, so if someone objects explain you don’t have a choice. Conversations with men should be restricted to business, so keep the idle chatter to a minimum, enough not to be rude. These restrictions don’t apply when talking to female coworkers, regardless of their status.”

This was new and unexpected. It wasn’t a major inconvenience since she spent most of the day in the records office, which was staffed entirely by women. On rare occasions she did have to help with database searches when someone came in with incomplete data and needed to locate old records. That case appeared to be covered.

“You will text me before you go to lunch and after you return,” Tom continued. “I want to know where you are at all times. Remember, my rules always come first; act accordingly.” He put his hands on her shoulders. “You will not disappoint me.”

Return to the Office

The moment Greta walked into the Records office everything stopped. No one jumped out of their chair since Mr. Berman, the Records Department head, was with her. Even so, there was a certain tension in the air, with everyone wanting to congratulate her. Samantha Gonzalez, the office supervisor, saw them come in through the open door of her tiny closet of an office.

“Sam?” Mr. Berman began. “Greta is returning to work today. HR sent you the guidelines for Greta’s new status? Any questions feel free to call me.”

“I’m sure there won’t be any problems. There’s plenty of case work to keep her busy.”

Mr. Berman nodded. “Okay then, I’ll leave you to it. Greta? You will take your lunch break in the cafeteria. I’m reliably informed some friends want to welcome you back. Be sure to report to my office five minutes early, before you leave today.”

“Yes, sir,” she replied. Even at work her life was changing in dramatic fashion. What used to be polite requests were now orders from higher authority. Nothing I didn’t anticipate, she thought.

As soon as the door closed behind Mr. Berman Donna leaped out of her chair and hugged Greta. “So, you really signed away your future? I’m not sure I could ever do something like that. I do wish the best for you and Tom. I can see it’s what you wanted. Lunchtime you’ve got to tell me all about what it’s like carrying that fancy necklace around your neck 24/7.”

Samantha was next. “You were sorely missed, and not just because I had to help cover for you. By the way, Adam, Mr. Berman, says we’ve got the budget approval to hire more help. He’s looking for someone right now.”

Greta went over to her desk and sat down. The pile of folders waiting for data entry seemed to be taller than normal. Samantha saw her look.

“Yeah they’ve been piling up. I went through as many as I could but I’m nowhere near as fast or accurate as you. Umm, in case Mr. Berman didn’t tell you, I have to prepare a weekly report on your entry statistics, how many per day you finish, and if I find any errors during the next day audit, or if we get correction notices from the medical staff. Don’t take it personal, HR has a policy of close oversight for all women who are collared.”

Greta shrugged, resigned to someone always looking over her shoulder from now on. “I know, Tom…uhh, my master warned me in advance. Turns out he gets a copy of that report too. If he thinks I’m goofing off then I have to answer to him.”

She sought a controlled, structured life; now she was living her dream. Accountability was an essential component of the self-discipline needed to keep her on track. No more goofing off, she sighed in resignation. Either I live up to my own goals or do some fast talking when I’m held to account for my failures. Tom was a good man, but she knew he wouldn’t be lenient when it came the important matters.

Showing Improvement

Tom shut the car door and turned to Greta. She was standing in her place, exactly as he’d taught her, facing the car, looking straight ahead. She didn’t turn her head to look at him, nor did she say a word. Standing behind her back he took a moment to appreciate his most valuable possession.

What a difference from her first day. Her anxiety was gone, replaced with self-confidence. Mistakes were few and far between, thanks to the time he’d spent with her, helping her to understand and practice all the new ways to do old things.

Greta knew he was watching her, yet she held perfectly still, head high, shoulders back. He ran his eyes up and down, savoring the moment. Even her hands were precisely centered in the small of her back, held there by the handcuffs on her wrists. Her feet were spread apart, to the limit of the chain between her ankles.

They had just come back from seeing a new movie that evening. Since it was after curfew she had to be escorted and restrained, under his close supervision. This was her first night out, wearing a collar, and she’d outdone his expectations.

He placed his hands around her upper arms, pressing her against the car. “I want your silence,” he whispered in her ear. He ran his hands up and down her bare arms, relishing the feel of her soft skin under his fingertips. “You were perfect tonight. And I don’t have to tell you that, because you know you got everything right.”

One hand held her in place while the other continued down her arm, stopping at the steel bracelet locked on her wrist. “Don’t move, Greta. Right now, right this very second, the most important thing in your life is to stand still, no matter what it takes. Close your eyes, listen to the sound of my voice.”

He took hold of the chain between her wrists in one hand. With the other he reached up and traced a line under the front of her collar, on her neck. “Here we are, the way you dreamed it would be.” He jerked on her handcuffs, to let her know who was in charge. “Feel that? Its power, the power I have over you, the power you gave me to use as I wish. That power is mine now, mine alone, power you can never take back.”

He let go of the handcuffs so he could spin her around to face him. He pushed her up against the car, pinning her with his weight. He reached behind her head to take hold of her hair, pulling her head back so they were face to face. “There’s an old saying about the eyes being the window to the soul. What should I see in your eyes? Is it a woman who is compelled to serve her master, an urge driven by the need to submit to his authority, to follow him no matter where he leads, to obey him without question, to be faithful in word and deed, never wavering in her loyalty to the man who owns her? Is that the soul hiding behind those beautiful brown eyes?”

Tom took a step back. He shifted his grip from her hair to the front of her collar. Slipping two fingers under it he raised up her chin so she faced him again. “I believe you are that woman, Greta, behind those eyes. You wanted this,” he pulled on her collar, “as much or more than me. Your wish has come true, but with it comes my wish too. There’s a new companion in your head. I see it in a corner of those eyes.”

He paused for a moment, still holding on to her collar. “That new companion? It has evicted your conscience and replaced it with a bit of me. From now on I’ll be in there with you every minute of the day. You’ll hear that little voice whispering to you, a voice no one else can hear. It will tell you how to behave, what is allowed, what is forbidden. Fail me and that voice will nag at you, a constant reminder you can’t ignore. It won’t go away no matter how hard you try to ignore it. The only way to make it stop is to come to me, admit what you did and accept the consequences.”

Her eyes were wide open, staring at him. “There’s one thing more about that voice. When you get it right it will whisper encouragement. Can you hear it now? Its telling you to be proud in who you are, to hold your head high, to show the world you are a woman who submits to her man with an unshakeable confidence, with no regard to what anyone else may think.”

He put his arms around her in a tight embrace while he kissed her. He could feel her pressing her body against him as she returned his kiss. She was struggling with the handcuffs, trying to put her arms around him. He dropped one hand down her back to seize the connecting chain. “Stop that,” he ordered, in a quiet but firm tone. In an instant her hands went limp again.

A shiver ran through her body. “Let’s get you inside. It’s starting to cool off. I don’t want you catching a cold.”

Clancy and Siobhan

Company Business

Down below the dining room was empty. Clancy’s office was on the second floor, overlooking the social center of the Facility. When everyone was present, eating, he liked to put in an appearance behind the large window, so they could all see him while he watched over his charges. They placed their faith in his best efforts to ensure their future happiness. This was one of those days when that burden weighed heavily on his shoulders.

He could see Siobhan’s back reflected in the window. Mrs. Yates, the Terror of the Facility, feared by all the women for her eye on detail and her sharp tongue when reprimands were handed out. He was one of the few who saw her other side. Fearsome, yes, but it was driven by her intolerance of anything less than the ideal. That included her single-minded compulsion to be all he desired, and a degree of self-criticism he had to constantly keep in check lest it consume her.

“Sit down,” he ordered. Their daily review always started the same way, with her standing behind her chair, waiting on him to start. Consistency, that was another one of her obsessions. He understood it, intellectually if not emotionally. When he turned around she would be in the chair, sitting in the proper Facility way, no deviations allowed. How many years had they gone through this little ritual?

When he sat down behind the desk Siobhan was ready to start. She had on the regulation Facility uniform. Her name was stitched across the upper left, marking her as one of the staff. She wore his collar, proudly displayed under her upraised chin. Clancy never tired of the picture she posed for him. She knows how it affects me, he reminded himself. I should do something to limit all those little things she does to please me. I should, except I can’t help myself.

“Okay, first order of business, what about that incident yesterday with, umm, what’s her name?”

“Katya, sir. I spoke to her at length about her outburst. She is ashamed it happened and asked if she could apologize to everyone about it. We worked through her issues and how she can avoid another occurrence. If you approve, sir, I recommend that she receive a verbal warning along with extra cleaning duties.”

In matters like this, a temper tantrum, Siobhan was the expert. “Agreed, you decide on the extra chores.” Clancy pulled out a form from a drawer and began filling it out. “Find out who’s free, request assistance and brief him on the circumstances of her punishment. He can deliver the reprimand and inform her she will be assigned to the ‘Wall of Shame’ during dining hours. We’ll make it, hmm, I think three days will be sufficient.” He signed the form before sliding it across to Siobhan.

The “Wall of Shame” was the term for anyone who had to publicly acknowledge a moderately serious behavioral incident. They had to stand against the wall while their peers filed by, in line to pick up trays. The punishment included eating last, and being segregated at a table where strict silence was enforced. It was not a pleasant experience, nor was it intended as such, but in terms of punishment it ranked near the bottom in severity.

“The next item is a change in Jaime’s status.” Jaime was something of a problem for Clancy and the Facility. Graduation from the Facility meant being transferred to permanent ownership, the owner selected by Facility staff. Normally it was a straightforward process. In Jaime’s case it was anything but simple. He had vetoed every selection the committee had recommended. Her needs were unique and complex. The men who contacted the Facility were well-suited to most all the guests, except for Jaime.

“I’m removing her from the selection committee list. I’m going to exercise my prerogative as Director to choose someone for her based solely on my own judgment. I scheduled an interview for her on Tuesday, after breakfast. See to it nothing is assigned to her on Monday night or all day Tuesday.”

He never imagined there would be a time when someone like Dave Greer would be extended an invitation to visit. There would be a cost to his decision when he had to justify it to the Board of Directors. Clancy would worry about that fight when he had to face the Board next month. The immediate problem was glaring at him from the other side of the desk. Siobhan was vehemently opposed to his unilateral choice to bring Jaime and Dave together

Consensus was fine as the oil to smooth the inner workings of a management team. Normally he’d try to persuade the rest to see his point of view, but not this time. His job as Director meant he had to make the occasional hard choice, and Jaime was one of those times he had to go with his own conviction. Was he right and everyone else wrong? It wasn’t easy to disregard peer pressure. This was one of the most difficult, since he had to disregard Siobhan’s insight, trusting only to his own gut feeling about the type of master Jaime needed.

History would prove him right or wrong. Until then Clancy Yates had to sail into the storm of disagreement, armed with only his own confidence to back him up. Goes with the territory, he reminded himself, that’s why I’m the Director.


Jaime was gone, off with her new master and what Clancy hoped would be a happy future. Whatever the consequences of his action to bring in Dave Greer, he still stood by his opinion it was all for the best. Jaime faced a life of strict supervision, and Dave’s close scrutiny to ensure she met his demanding expectations. If Clancy were right about Jaime, then she’d thrive in the environment.

Sitting at his desk he went over the papers for Jamie’s transfer one last time. Everything looked to be in order but he always reserved the last, final check to himself. He didn’t expect to find any errors; the lawyer who prepared their legal documents was very thorough. He looked over the top of the papers at Siobhan, sitting in the chair across the desk, facing him.

“They should be off the boat by now, on their way home. I expect Dave will have matters well in hand with his Jamie. Did you hear, he wouldn’t even let her talk to me? That was quite the unexpected change.”

Siobhan didn’t answer. Clancy would have been surprised if she had spoken, since he had ordered her to silence. Lowering the papers to the desk top he leaned forward to see if she was sitting in proper position. Both feet were on the floor, carefully aligned, slightly apart. Her hands were palm down, precisely crossed in her lap. He leaned back in his chair. Head held high, back straight, she stared back at him, matching his scrutiny with her glare. He could tell she was upset.

“You and the others made it clear you believe this is a mistake.” She didn’t respond. “You think Dave Greer will turn her into a brainwashed zombie. Were it anyone else but Jamie I’d agree with you.” He could tell she wanted to yell at him for making such a stupid blunder, allowing a depraved monster like Dave Greer access to anyone from the Facility.

He held up his hands. “Be patient. I’ll let you have a go at me in a few minutes. But first you’re going to hear my side, and why I think it’s the right way despite your advice to the contrary.” The Facility’s reputation was on the line with this particular match, and he knew it. Perhaps more than Siobhan he understood the consequences if it turned out badly. The Facility’s relationship with the rest of the Island community was a tenuous one at best, tolerated but not always welcomed. There was a constant risk of losing their independence, or even being shut down. Only the inconvenient fact that the Facility served a need no one else wanted to fill kept them open, and on terms that did not always suit the Island’s leaders.

“First of all, despite Dave’s views on certain matters I know him to be honest, ethical and a decent man. His only drawback, from your perspective, is one he doesn’t hide. He likes his women to be incapable of any kind of independent opinion or action. A mindless robot, as you like to put it.” Clancy didn’t think very highly of Dave’s intentions either. In his opinion it destroyed a woman’s personality, robbing her of her uniqueness, and put too much responsibility on her master.

Siobhan didn’t move; she was too well trained to show her disapproval with even a hint of disobedience. The moment he lifted her order of silence though, she wouldn’t hold back. “You look at Dave Greer and see his faults, but you don’t look closely at Jamie. After what happened to her, do you really believe she’s recovered? I don’t think so, and I don’t believe we can do anything to help her beyond what we’ve done this last year.”

Clancy pushed back his chair and stood up. “I went to Dave because he is the one man who can offer her what she really needs. She goes through the motions for us, but I can tell it’s a sham. She still blames herself for what happened. With Dave that won’t ever occur again, because she will be so reliant on him she cannot fail him, no matter what it takes to please him. That’s what will make her happy, the certainty that comes with a master whose hold on her is so tight she cannot help but be everything he wants. Her entire life from now on will be fixated on serving him, and she will be happy, content and most of all secure in the knowledge she will never be abandoned again.”

He paced back and forth, behind his desk. “Look at it from her point of view. She will have the confidence, the assurance she won’t lose him, because he won’t let it happen. It’s not her responsibility; she doesn’t have to worry about mistakes as long as she obeys him. He will correct her immediately, punish her if he deems it is necessary, but whatever it takes he will force her to be his perfect woman. Far from turning her into a robot, we’ll see the real Jamie emerge from her shell, once she knows she’s safe and sheltered as his property.”

Clancy walked around the desk, stopping behind Siobhan. He rested his hands on her shoulders. “I could tell from watching Jamie that she wasn’t happy here. The training kept her occupied but beyond a certain point it wasn’t building any self-confidence. What got to me was the realization I couldn’t find anyone for her. None of the men who come to us would fit her peculiar needs. I was at my wit’s end trying to find a solution.” Idly he stroked her hair as he spoke.

“You have to understand Jaime is a very unique sort of woman. She isn’t like you, Siobhan, or any of the other women here at the Facility. She needs someone like Dave Greer to be her rock of stability, to be both the immovable object and the irresistible force, the one man she can depend on without question or doubt. I’m positive he’ll fulfill that need, and more.”

Clancy rested his hands on her bare shoulders. His predecessor had ordered the uniform change to sleeveless top for the women. He had no intention of repealing that particular regulation. Sure, it was selfish, and Clancy was sure the rule was put in place solely to provide some eye candy for the men, though he’d never admit his suspicions. Nothing wrong with being selfish, in moderation.

“It was after one of those weekend debating sessions with Dave the idea came to me. What Jamie yearned to relinquish was exactly what he sought to take. The more I thought about it the better the two complemented each other. That’s when I approached him. No, Dave didn’t ask me to find someone for him; he knew better.” He looked down at Siobhan. The hem of her skirt was just above her knees, drawing a straight line across her legs. Her knees were together but not quite touching. He admired how she got it right every time. Of course she had several years’ worth of practice. And if she ever did get it wrong he’d see to it she remembered the right way next time.

Clancy walked over to the window, looking down on the dining room below. The staff had finished cleaning up after lunch. “You and I, Siobhan, we have a relationship that works because I listen to you. How many times have I told you, there’s no monopoly on wisdom? I did consider your objections to Dave too. But this time the final decision has to be mine alone.” He turned back to her, still sitting in the chair, facing away from him.

No point in putting off the inevitable, Clancy told himself. He went around the desk to his chair and sat down. “Go on then, you have permission to speak freely.” He didn’t permit her to break position. That was no oversight either. He might be lenient in allowing her to express her opinion, but in other respects he was determined to remain firmly in charge. The Facility operated on clearly marked boundaries designating those in authority. He was on one side of that line; he saw to it Siobhan never forgot she was on the other side. He leaned back in his chair, waiting for the dam to burst.

“Yes, sir.” Siobhan acknowledged, and then she paused. She sat there, studying him. “Clancy, do you really believe this was the only path open to Jamie? There were no alternatives?”

It wasn’t what he expected. “Yes, Siobhan, I do. A year from now, you’ll run into Jamie in town, and I’ll bet you won’t recognize the young woman who came to us for help. She’ll be vibrant, full of life. Of course, she most likely won’t talk to you until she checks with her master first. I expect her restrictions will include not speaking to anyone, even you, without his prior approval. She’ll apologize, maybe express regret in cutting you off, but she will be proud of the way she acted properly, and eager to tell her master when she gets home. No, Jamie was a special case. All our normal procedures had to be put aside. There is no alternative to David Greer.”

Siobhan sighed. “I’m sorry, sir, but that Mr. Greer, he scares me. If he owned me I don’t think I’d survive the experience. The idea that we’d turn over someone as fragile as Jamie to a man like that…” She stopped, closing her eyes.

Clancy was aware she detested Dave Greer, but even so she was careful to abide by the Facility rule requiring her to defer to all male staff, and visitors, in a formal manner. He allowed her to use his first name, but only in private when she was sure no one would overhear. “You may break your position.”

“Yes, sir.” She stretched out her arms, flexing them to work off the stiffness from the prolonged inactivity. “May I stand?” He nodded. She got up out of the chair. “Clancy? If you think it will be good for Jamie I’ll go along with you. I thought about her in terms of how I felt. In most cases Mr. Greer is the last man on Earth I would recommend to be any woman’s master, but most is not every case. Jamie is different, though. Perhaps you’re right after all.”

Perhaps? You forget, Siobhan, in your case I’m always right, even if I’m wrong.” For a moment she froze, afraid she had crossed the inviolate boundary line between them. When she saw him smile and hold out his arms she rushed to his embrace.

A Moral Question

Siobhan snuggled closer to Clancy, head lying nestled between his shoulder and chest, his arm around her. She rested her hand on his chest and looked up at him. This was her favorite time, lying in bed together late at night; an intimate moment spent quietly talking about nothing in particular.

“Sir, can I ask a question about the Facility? It’s been on my mind the last few days, a question of morality, you know, about right and wrong.”

He didn’t answer right away. She waited while he considered her request. After so many years together she was reasonably certain he wouldn’t object. As always she had given it some consideration beforehand. If she ever went too far he wouldn’t hesitate to shut her down, always involving a long, unpleasant experience she never wanted to repeat. That lesson she had learned the hard way, more than once.

“A bearing from the moral compass. eh? Alright, tell me what’s on your mind.” Asking permission meant it had to be something serious, related to how he managed the Facility. She knew better than to criticize his decisions outright, but by asking first she opened the door to at least trying to understand the reasons for something he had not explained to her. There were times he deliberately withheld his motives, and if necessary he’d put a halt to her questions immediately if it crossed into a sensitive area.

“Well, sir, it’s a fundamental question, about why the Facility exists. I know the usual reasons we hand out, but I wonder if there are times we might do more harm than good, given the conditions a trainee must accept before coming here.” The whole issue with Jamie still bothered her. “You can guess, sir, what brought it up. I know Jamie seemed very happy at the outcome, but was it really the case, or did we just talk her into it?”

Clancy dealt with the same question on a constant basis. Unlike Siobhan he had to accept final responsibility for each and every woman placed by the Facility. “The short answer, my darling Siobhan, is that I sincerely believe we do serve a worthwhile purpose here. We exist for that tiny group of women who grow and blossom in our little secluded and sheltered garden. You and I both know most women would do poorly here, and very few would accept the conditions. But for that group who do consent we offer an invaluable service.”

He paused for a moment gathering his thoughts. “Our society here on the Island caters to that percentage of people who aren’t content to live within the acceptable range of behavior for the rest of the world. Despite all the rhetoric about equality, the fact remains there are some people who are happier with a different, complementary balance. So we have a group of men who like being in charge, at least at home, and a like-minded group of women who don’t want to be in charge, more or less.”

Siobhan looked up at her master. “Like-minded, sir? I think it goes further than that.”

Clancy stroked her hair. “For you it does, but not for all the women on the Island. Myself, I see it as a mutually beneficial exchange. Men get the control they want, providing they can handle it, and women get the security they need, a nearly stress-free safe space without all the worries. Now there’s that small fraction of women who want more. Like you, my dear.”

“Me, sir? All I want is you.” She closed her eyes, listening to his deep voice in the dark.

“Yes, you and a few more that choose to go all the way to the edge. Complete loss of freedom in exchange for a life free of responsibility, what seems to be a one-sided deal but leaves open the question of who comes out ahead.”

Siobhan rose up on one arm. “But sir, it has to be you. After all, you own me now. You can do whatever you want with me, to me, and no one will stop you. I can’t even stand up or sit down without your permission.”

“True enough,” Clancy nodded, “but that’s not the whole story. I also have a moral obligation to take care of you. I know, there’s no law mandating it, but I have no intention of mistreating you. Sure, I can set rules for you, force you to behave as I like, but at the same time it has to be for your overall benefit, as I see it.”

“Clancy, do you think that’s the trade Jamie made, no responsibility?”

He thought about it for a moment. “No, not exactly. Her case was something special due to her history. Being abandoned left her deeply shaken. That guy destroyed her self-confidence when he walked away. How could she be sure it wouldn’t happen again with the next man in her life? That was the problem I had to solve.”

“And you think Mr. Greer is the answer?” He could tell from her tone she was still skeptical.

“Yes I do,” Clancy answered immediately. “Think about what it is Dave demands from Jamie. Complete dependency, total domination of her life, in a very literal way coercing her into a position where she can’t imagine existence without him. Sounds terrible, except I know Dave Greer has that same deep-seated sense of responsibility to care for her. Now I’ll concede he decides what that means, but even so I don’t think she’ll have any regrets.”

She traced little circles on his chest with her finger. “Sir? I don’t understand. I know you tried to explain, but I don’t get it.”

“You have the wrong perspective. Dave will never let go of her, no matter what. He is possessive to a fanatical degree, which isn’t all bad, if you think about it. If Jamie hasn’t figured it out yet she soon will. And that’s what she gets out of the trade, a guarantee his hold over her will never end, it will never decrease, and that he’ll never abandon her. As long as she obeys him, is loyal and faithful to his rules, she’ll never have to face her deepest fear again. Those two, and I know this sounds like a cliché, are made for each other.”

“And what about us, sir? Are we made for each other too? What did I get out of it when you put this collar around my neck?”

He propped himself up on an elbow. “Yes, we are made for each other. You aren’t Jamie, and I’m not Dave, but in our own way we have a trade too. I get you; and you, you get the authority figure you need to, well, I like to put it as the one who sets policy.”

“Policy? Now I’m lost. It sounds like some government agency.”

Clancy laughed. “No, not that bad. The last thing I’d ever want is to be a bureaucrat. I tell you overall what needs to be accomplished, and you see to it by filling in the details. Maybe you don’t notice, but I do keep an eye on what you do here. You are the ideal role model for our trainees, even if they are scared to death of you. You don’t come up with the rules for living at the Facility, but no one does a better job seeing to it our guests follow them, to the letter. Don’t you get frustrated at times, when it’s so obvious to you what has to be done but they just don’t get it?”

Siobhan sighed, “Yes sir, I do. And then they seem to resent me afterwards, but I have to obey the same as them. They aren’t my rules, I’m only explaining your, umm, policy. Ohhh….”

“That’s what you do so well.” Clancy turned to face Siobhan, reaching up to stroke her hair with one hand. “You enforce the rules, but you don’t make them, and you aren’t exempt either. They see that, so while they may be afraid of you, they don’t really resent you, because in the end you’re one of them too. You teach them respect for authority, to show proper submission as women in our little paternalistic world. They want to learn from you, from the Facility, how to be that kind of woman. And you are there as the example of what they can accomplish, the success story proving to them it can be done.”

“So, you’re my authority figure, sir?” She snuggled in close, next to Clancy.

Clancy held her tight. “Yes I am, and you better not forget it.”

Siobhan lifted up and slid on top of Clancy. “I’d never do that, master. Tell me, sir, since you’re in charge, what’s my next move?”

Not Acceptable

The moment Siobhan entered the dormitory room it all went wrong. Both of the women assigned to the room were in their place, but that was about all they’d gotten right. Even from the doorway Siobhan could see the wrinkles on both beds. Add to that the pillows were not centered, and once she took a second look the bedspread was crooked too.

She had to count to ten to get her temper under control. “I can’t believe what I’m seeing. Did either of you seriously expect to get away with this?” She swept her hand across the beds to emphasize her point. “Don’t answer that. This is inexcusable. Do you think a room inspection is some kind of joke?”

She opened the bathroom door and looked inside. The towels were crooked, she could see water beading on the counter, the shower door was ajar, and worst of all, the mirror was fogged over. It was obvious the two of them had either been goofing off or overslept through the alarm clock.

Siobhan was so angry her hands were balled into fists. She didn’t trust herself to go any further. “You two stay right where you are!” She turned and walked out into the hallway. Several other women, their inspections over, were heading to breakfast.

“Everyone! Stop where you are. Line up along that wall.” She pointed to the wall opposite the room’s doorway. At the end of the corridor Mr. Owens looked up from his desk. Whatever was going on definitely required his attention.

“Sir? Could you help me?” Siobhan waved to get his attention.

He stood up and walked toward the open door, all the while examining the women lined up at the wall. They all recognized this was a major escalation of a failed room inspection. No one wanted to attract unwelcome attention.

“Alright, what’s the problem?” he asked Siobhan. He let in just a hint of irritation in his tone to let her know he wasn’t happy being called in to handle what should be a minor issue.

“Sir, it’s the room. Please look for yourself, especially the bathroom. I believe you should decide how to proceed. I don’t trust myself to go any further.”

Mr. Owens sighed before he pointed to the far wall. “Siobhan, line up with the rest.” He raised his voice. “All of you, stay where you are, face forward, and no talking.”

When he entered the room the problems were obvious. Opening the bathroom door he stuck his head in for a quick look, which was enough. Normally he didn’t get involved with inspections but this was a serious matter. Most days it was enough to sit at the desk acting as a figurehead to remind all the trainees. This was not going to be one of those days.

“You two,” he pointed at the roommates, “out in the hall, now! Line up with your backs to the wall, next to the door.” They quickly filed past him, both with worried looks on their faces. Whatever they intended had backfired when he became involved, and they knew it.

Mr. Owens followed them out. Reaching behind his back to the holder he took out a pair of handcuffs. In a quick motion he closed one side on the left wrist of the closer woman, and then the other side on the right wrist of her companion. After checking for fit he double locked them.

They probably expected to be taken away for punishment, but he wasn’t going to push the problem up to the point where the Director might have to become involved. He had a better idea.

Siobhan and the others watched silently when he went back into the room. A moment later he came out with an armful of bedding, which he dumped in the middle of the hallway. That was followed by all the clothes from their closets, the drawers in their dressers, and the bathroom towels.

“Now,” he announced loudly, to get everyone’s attention. “The two of you will put all this back in your room, the way you’ve been taught. Your behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. There’s only one way, the Facility way. See to it all the room rules are followed from now on. When you finish, I will inspect it. If I’m not satisfied you will do it again, and again, until you get it right.”

Mr. Owens turned to face the spectators along the far wall. “All of you bear a collective responsibility to discourage this type of behavior. You will stand there and watch them work, no matter how long it takes.” He went back to his desk at the end of the corridor.

Siobhan hadn’t anticipated such a forceful reaction, but it wasn’t her place to criticize his actions. Nor did she expect it would rise to a collective punishment, though in hindsight it made sense. Mr. Owens wouldn’t make an exception for her either, even if she did belong to the Director. Her assignment was to inspect the rooms in this block; she had to share the consequences if she failed to properly motivate her charges.

Would Mr. Owens report this incident to the Director? Whether he did or not Siobhan knew she’d have to tell Clancy when she next saw him. It was his responsibility to decide how to handle her mistake.

Keeping In Touch

“You seem preoccupied, having a bad morning?” Clancy asked Siobhan while they sat at a table in the dining room. “Or is it the lasagna? I think the cook was a bit heavy-handed on the tomato sauce. Not enough oregano either.”

Siobhan poked at the food on her plate. “The food’s fine, sir. I’m the one who was heavy-handed. The room inspections did not go well this morning. It started with little things, like a wrinkle in a bathroom towel or a closet door ajar, but there were so many more than usual. Then I got to the last room. Sir, I was so angry. The bed wasn’t made properly and the bathroom was a mess. It’s inexcusable. I admit I lost my temper. I was afraid of what I might say so I asked Mr. Owens to take over.”

“Was it serious enough to warrant taking away their room?” He knew Siobhan was overly strict when she did inspections but she didn’t apply criticism unfairly. Loss of a semi-private room was a major punishment, the kind he usually reviewed.

She looked up at Clancy. “Oh no, sir, I don’t believe that harsh a response is needed, unless you wish to review the video? Mr. Owens administered a lesser punishment, though he did make us all watch while the roommates had to completely redo their room.

“Sounds reasonable to me, so what’s bothering you?” The incident would appear on the daily report but wasn’t a priority item at the Director’s level. Mr. Owens was well within his right to handle the matter as he saw fit.

“It reminded me of my days on the other end of the room inspection. There were a few times I just couldn’t get it right no matter how hard I tried. I’d get flustered, which only made it worse. None of us are perfect, sir, but I can’t bring myself to look the other way either.”

Clancy recognized the symptoms right away. Siobhan was sliding into one of those guilt complexes so common among submissive women. Moments like this had to be dealt with immediately, before they escalated into full scale depression.

“Look at me!” A stern command always brought her around to focusing on him rather than her own perceived failings. “Think back to when you had to endure those room inspections, one of those times you faced the perfect storm of the staff member who was never satisfied, combined with a sudden attack of amnesia when it came to those details you normally never missed. Who was the one person you dreaded the most when the door opened?”

She rolled her eyes when the memory came back to her. “It had to be Ms. Lake, sir. She had eyes like an eagle. She could zero in on a tiny piece of lint on my skirt like no other. If she showed up we knew instantly we were all doomed.”

“Oh yes, I remember her. She and her owner retired to Jamaica not long after I became Director. So what happened, when she caught you out?”

Siobhan shook her head. “I mopped a lot of floors and helped with the laundry more times than I could count. I started to think of myself as the Irish Washerwoman, from the old fiddle jig.”

“And Ms. Lake, did you wind up detesting her, blaming her for everything that went badly?”

“Never, sir. True, she was a real terror, but as long as we behaved she was actually very nice to us, patiently explaining the why behind all those orders we had to follow. I never really blamed her for getting in trouble; that was all my fault. After all, she was only doing…” Siobhan’s voice trailed off.

“Her job?” Clancy prompted.

“Just like me, sir. I see your point. Misplaced sympathy, isn’t it, sir? I’m better off now from Ms. Lake’s diligence, even if I didn’t see it that way at the time.”

“Speaking of success stories, I heard back from Dr. Grimes, Elise’s master, about Jamie’s request to contact her. Seems Elise and the good doctor invited Dave and Jamie over for dinner. Would you like to hop over to South Island and have lunch with Elise one of these weekends?”

Siobhan perked up at the good news. “Could I, sir? I’d love to find out how she’s doing.”

“And maybe Jamie too? I’ll check with Dr. Grimes. If he’s okay with it I’ll make the arrangements. You can use the company car so you can pick up Elise.”

“And Jaime, sir? Do you think there’s a chance I can see her too?”

“That I can’t answer right now. Dave is, well, he has his own interpretation of how he watches out for Jaime. I’ll see what I can do, but no promises.”

Even if it fell through visiting Jamie she could find out from Elise if her fears were groundless. Still, it would be nice if Clancy could persuade both Mr. Greer and Dr. Grimes to allow all three of them to get together. Siobhan didn’t have many opportunities to see the results of her work firsthand.

Ben and Elise


“Elise? Are you busy?”

She looked up from the intensive care monitors at the nursing station. Dr. Ben Grimes, the man who owned her body and soul, was standing on the other side of the desk. Out of habit she immediately straightened up in her chair, although she had very clear and explicit instructions from her owner that, at the Clinic, business came first.

She ran a practiced eye over the displays, all nominal. “Not at the moment, Doctor. I’m still on duty though.”

He looked at the clock on the wall over her head. “You have, what, another hour? When you’re done I want you to come directly to my office.”

Her first reaction was anxiety, that she’d done something wrong and he was ordering her to his office to chew her out, or worse. At lightning speed she ran through the day’s events, but nothing came to mind. Was it something else, had she broken one of his rules? She ran through what she ate at lunch to double check everything was on the kosher list. Maybe something was wrong with her uniform….

“You recall the bypass operation scheduled for tomorrow afternoon, where you’re assisting me? I just checked the patient’s vitals, blood pressure is dropping. We’re moving the operation to later this afternoon. I want to go over the procedure with you before we start. You’ll have to work overtime today.”

“Yes, Doctor, I’ll be there as soon as the next shift arrives.” That was a relief; she wasn’t in trouble. She watched her master leave, talking with the Resident making rounds on the floor.

He was her legal owner, for the rest of her life, but there was so much more. He’d captured her heart and her mind, to such an extent she was terrified of being anything other than perfect for him. She owed it all to the Facility for offering her a spot, for training her to be the woman her master desired, and for finding her soulmate.

She took a moment to look around. Her monitoring station for intensive care patients was behind a reception desk for the ward. When she wasn’t needed to assist in surgery Elise helped out on the wards as an R.N. to cover for anyone who might need time off, or if the patient load was unusually heavy. At the moment it was quiet, the early afternoon lull that usually followed lunch.

After a check on the monitors she stood up to stretch her legs. Out of habit she straightened out the odd wrinkle in her uniform. She didn’t consider Ben to be overly strict or demanding, especially compared to Facility discipline, but there was one thing he insisted she get right. Not only right, but flawless. That was her work uniform.

She sat down again, once more sweeping across the displays with a practiced eye. It had been a long road to get here, at one point nearly ending her career at one of the worst times of her life, but now she had everything she could ever hope for. She’d never trade her Dr. Grimes for anyone else, not that she had much choice in the matter these days.

Elise smiled at her reflection in the monitor. If she were nitpicking, she didn’t have much to say about anything in her life now. In reality it was never that simple. Attitude made all the difference. She would, quite literally, do anything he asked of her, without question. She’d never told him that little fact and he’d never put it to the test.

Have I become some sort of fanatic? If so, it didn’t make any difference. Whatever it took she’d make sure Ben’s collar stayed locked around her neck. And regardless of what anyone said about the Facility, she was certain her time there had turned around her life for the better.

Elise had a certain routine when the job was simply to watch for significant changes in the vital signs for the intensive care patients. She’d read through a group of displays, look away for a moment, and then continue on to the next set. It was a medical fact that intense concentration needed frequent short breaks so as not to lapse into monotony. It was a case of hours of boredom punctuated with the occasional seconds of fast action when heart rate or blood pressure suddenly spiked.

On one of those quick breaks she glanced down at her hands, resting on her knees. That was another of Ben’s inflexible orders. He refused to explain why, in unequivocally clear language. No discussion, no questions, no excuses and no exceptions, which left her with little room to probe for the reasoning behind his obsessively enforced rule. In so many ways he was thoughtful and caring in the way he led her through the necessity of a particular rule, but when it came to hands on knees he went from kindly Dr. Jekyll to overbearing Mr. Hyde.

Elise didn’t really have a cause to complain. By Facility standards her owner easily qualified as the benevolent, even lenient dictator. He did control her life, but it certainly wasn’t in a heavy-handed way. He did have rules, but they were few in number and easy to follow. Aside from her uniform and hands on knees the only other strict rule she could think of was his requirement they keep to a kosher diet.

That last one took some work in their kitchen, or more precisely her kitchen since he rarely ventured into what he joking called her sovereign domain. The kashrut dietary laws more than made up in quantity for the few restrictions Ben imposed. Even something as simple as chicken fried steak, one of Elise’s comfort foods, was complicated by making a batter that didn’t include milk. One set of pans for meat, another for anything with dairy in it; she solved that problem with two completely different styles of pots, pans, and cooking utensils. There were times she wondered if Ben secretly enjoyed seeing her struggle to come up with the grocery list every week. His order had been deceptively simple: keep kosher. Then she found out it meant a lot more than no bacon for breakfast.

The sessions in the operating room made up for any real or imagined hardship in how he ran her life. Standing at his side, watching him work, and the way she knew, without thinking about it, what he was about to ask for next, it bordered on the uncanny. The moment he barked out the order for an instrument, or any type of medical item, it was already in her hand. Afterwards, Elise couldn’t remember actually picking up the equipment from the trays; it just appeared as if by magic.

On one of the displays the vitals spiked upwards, though not to dangerous levels. Elise knew what it was, a bed-ridden patient was standing up. That was a fall risk. She motioned for a nearby nurse to come over.

“Could you check room 412? I think our Mr. Cargill is up and wandering around again. He shouldn’t be on his feet.”


“You did well today. If we hadn’t moved up the operation I doubt the patient would have made it through the night. It’s rough when we have to put in the extra hours, though I’m sure our patient’s family is thankful he’ll sleep soundly tonight.” Ben sat at his desk, exhausted by the rushed operation.

He studied Elise. She must be just as tired, yet she sat upright on the office sofa, hands carefully placed on her knees. She’d changed back into her nurse’s uniform, which was immaculate as always. Even the cap in her hair was precisely aligned. To Ben’s eye she was the personification of perfection, and best of all she belonged to him alone.

Personification of perfection, a nice alliteration, one he’d have to remember. She was staring back at him with an intensity that matched his own. She knows, Ben thought. She knows what it takes to get to me, to hold my attention. She had an uncanny ability to pick up those little poker “tells” which revealed his innermost thoughts.

“You saved his life, sir. I was on automatic, handing you what you needed without thinking about it. You were the one who acted just in time. Any surgical assistant would have done the same.”

Ben knew better. “Sure, but not fast enough to have saved the patient when that artery let go. I held out my hand, the clamp was there before I asked. Fractions of a second, but those fractions prevented brain damage, or worse. No false modesty, Elise. I don’t think I could have kept him alive without you by my side. You made the difference between life and death.”

Did she know how much her presence affected him? Of course she does, Ben told himself, she reads me like an open book. All his problems, the stresses of his job, seemed to evaporate away when she was around. Operations like the one they had just finished did take a toll on him. He knew by heart all the arguments about not being emotionally attached to patients. Fine in theory, yet in practice it seldom worked that way. Today he’d saved a life though the outcome had been in doubt when that artery ruptured. Without Elise it could easily have gone the other way.

Did she realize how serious it had been? Given her years of experience she must have recognized it had been close. Ben didn’t suffer from false modesty; his skills as a surgeon were among the best on the Island and he knew it. Even so, without Elise’s quick action at his side he’d be consoling a grieving widow instead of checking on the recovery.

He finished the post-op notes and added them to the patient’s file. On an impulse he rose up and leaned forward, making an ostentatious show of checking the position of her hands. As always, they were precisely aligned on her knees, exactly where he expected them to be; Elise never got it wrong.

He didn’t miss that brief flicker of anxiety that crossed her face when he did one of his inspections. She had to know her presentation was flawless, yet there was always a tiny seed of doubt, that she might have missed some minor detail Ben would immediately zero in on, followed by a sharp criticism. It was understandable, given the inordinate amount of attention he expended on checking for her compliance. Add to that the dire consequences he’d linked to any mistake on her part and it was obvious to anyone she would be obsessed with seeing to it those hands were never out of position.

What she didn’t know, and he’d never admit, is that his rule about her hands wasn’t really all that important to him. It wasn’t the end result but the means to get there that mattered. It was his will imposed upon her, purely to satisfy his selfish desire for control. When he first came up with the idea about her hands he actually felt guilty about being so capricious. Those doubts were long gone now, along with any hesitation in setting purely arbitrary rules for her.

A Long Day

Elise stretched out her arms, in part to keep from yawning. She was in the chair next to her master’s desk, listening while he was on the phone, still checking with Recovery about the patient’s status. It had been one of those operations that started out simple one moment, and turned into a struggle the next. For some still unknown reason the patient had heart and lung failure near the end. Doctor Grimes had fought for over an hour to keep him alive. He still was, at least from what she overheard of the phone conversation.

This was the second time in a week a routine operation had suddenly taken a serious turn. Once again his quick action had saved the patient. Elise had played her part as well, using her years of experience to predict what Ben would need.

When he hung up the phone she straightened up in her chair. Even after being with him for a year every once in a while her Facility training took over. He didn’t force her to sit in position but Elise often did it anyway. Whether it was only old habits or something else she still hadn’t figured out. As always her hands were on her knees, the one deviation from the Facility way.

She saw that slight narrowing of his eyes that told her he was paying attention too. He never said anything, yet she was sure if her hands were not where they were supposed to be he’d catch it right away. Did he notice in a good way, or was he annoyed at her? It was difficult to tell from his expression, and she was reluctant to ask.

“It’s been a long day, but we did well, Elise. What prompted you to have that extra tray ready? Did you see something I missed?” When the operation turned difficult she had an extra tray of tools and gauze ready on a side table. It saved precious minutes when every second counted.

“No sir, I didn’t see anything special. It was you. I knew something wasn’t right when I saw your concern for what should have been a routine bypass. I made an educated guess as to what you might need and had it laid out close to hand, just in case.”

“I don’t know how you do it. I hold out my hand, and the right instrument is there before I even ask for it. You’ll have to explain that mind reading trick to me sometime. Don’t ever stop though; it’s what makes us the top surgical team at the Clinic. Do you know other surgeons envy me? It’s true; I’ve heard it from several sources.”

His words nearly brought tears to her eyes. She lived for those moments in the operating room, working at his side. She was still amazed at how skillfully he made those incisions, knowing one wrong move meant certain death for his patient. It didn’t surprise her that other doctors were jealous of his talent.

“You know, of course, they envy me because I own you. Given the chance any one of them would gladly take you off my hands. Not that it will ever happen.” He leaned forward, his expression turned in an instant from carefree to serious. “You’re mine alone, now and forever. And if anyone ever forgets, all they have to do is look at that metal band around your pretty neck. You know, the one that says hands off, no trespassing, keep your distance because this one’s been claimed.”

Elise reached toward her collar with one hand. “Me, sir? But why…” she started to ask.

Ben leaned back in his chair. “Stand up, right now,” he ordered, interrupting her. Without any hesitation Elise shot to her feet. “Stay right where you are, don’t move, not a sound.” His tone of voice was stern but not angry. She thought of it as his command voice, not so very different from what he relied on in the operating room.

Long practice at the Facility took over. Elise obeyed without even thinking about it. She stood in front of him, back straight, arms at her sides, head held high, exactly the way they had been taught. She didn’t need a mirror to know her response was correct in every respect. The months spent practicing just such a move at the Facility guaranteed nothing was out of place, from the precise alignment of her feet, to the slight spread of her fingers brushing against her uniform, all the way to her eyes, staring straight ahead, never once glancing to either side.

“There’s your answer. It’s not just your unsurpassed skill assisting. It’s the way you show your man, your master, how he’s always in charge.” He tapped the side of his head. “In here I’m certain, not the slightest doubt, you will stand there until I release you. Even if I leave and come back an hour later, you’ll be right there, because it’s who you are.” Ben stood up and came around his desk to stand in front of Elise.

“Don’t worry; I’m not going to keep you there for the next hour. I think I will indulge myself for a few minutes though.” Starting at her shoulders he ran his hands down her arms to her hands. “That uniform really does look good on you. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. Order as many as you need, to be sure you always have some on hand here and at home.”

Ben was adamant about her wearing the nurse’s uniform to the extent he had forbidden any discussion about it. The first few days had been the hardest; seeing people stare at her made her self-conscious about her appearance. She still got the occasional stare from visitors but the employees at the Clinic were used to her now.

It would have been very stylish, if the year was still 1960. It was a simple outfit, common in hospitals back in the mid twentieth century. It consisted of the white blouse with sleeves to her wrists, white skirt down to her knees, white hose, those hideous but comfortable work shoes, and the white cap in her hair. If he ever spotted anything out of place she got an immediate lecture, followed that evening with some unpleasant assignment he devised to ensure she wouldn’t make the same mistake again.

At first she dreaded coming to work, afraid she be laughed at. There were plenty of stares and double takes. Whenever someone asked she simply pointed to her collar and explained with “I don’t have a choice.” Eventually word got around and the stares faded away. Truth was she actually liked it since it reminded her of those old black and white medical shows on TV, the ones she loved to watch on the retro cable channel.

Growing up her favorite character was Nurse Helen Rosenthal on St. Elsewhere, always competent and cool under pressure. The character had been a role model, inspiring her to go into nursing. When she discovered Ben Casey and Dr. Kildare from the 1960’s, the role of the strong, stubborn doctor holding to his convictions captivated her. When she found the reruns of the old Emergency TV series the character of Dixie McCall defined everything she wanted to be in a nurse.

Now she had the real thing, a doctor every bit as skilled and headstrong as Ben Casey. Her dream as a young girl had come true, working side by side with him in the operating room. She’d do anything to hold onto that dream, no matter what he asked of her. If he wanted her to stand like a statue she’d do it, gladly, for as long as necessary.

“I want you to go over to the couch, stretch out, close your eyes and get some rest. We have an hour or so before I knock off for the day. You can keep me company while I do a little reading.” He pointed toward the sofa.

Elise didn’t feel tired but she didn’t argue. Before she sat down she asked him, “Ben, would you like me to get anything for you, from the cafeteria? Coffee?”

He sat down at his desk. “No, I’m fine. Now lie down and take some quiet time. I’ll let you know when we’re ready to leave.”

Getting Together

Ben Grimes hung up the phone and leaned back in his office chair. The call from Clancy Yates, the Facility director, had been unexpected. He mulled over the request for a moment before reaching for the phone again. When the nurse’s station answered he asked the aide on duty to send Elise to his office when she finished her shift.

While waiting he gave some more thought to the request from Clancy. As far as he knew Elise had never had any contact with anyone from the Facility after he brought her home, other than a few emails between her and Siobhan Yates. He couldn’t see any harm in letting Elise reunite with her friend Jamie, as long as they had parted on good terms. He did take his obligation to watch out for her seriously though, so before responding he needed more information.

When Elise appeared in his office doorway she still had on her nurse’s uniform. “You sent for me, Doctor?” On duty she had precise instructions, always address a doctor by title.

“Come in and sit down, Elise. I just got a very curious phone call, concerning you.” The worried expression on her face wasn’t a surprise. He knew she had a tendency to assume she’d done something wrong. “No, nothing bad. It has to do with the Facility.”

Elise sat down in the chair, facing him across his desk. Puzzled, she asked, “The Facility, sir? That’s strange, was there some irregularity in my transfer documents?” Since they were in a private conversation and it wasn’t Clinic business she felt safe in switching from “doctor” to “sir”. She had no idea why the Facility would call. A legal problem was the only reason she could come up with, but even then as her owner Ben would normally deal with it without involving her. Elise had never even seen the document that transferred her to his full ownership, though she knew it had to be registered.

“No nothing like that. Have you had any contact with any other women from the Facility aside from Siobhan, anyone you met there, since you left?”

Elise shook her head, puzzled about the reason for his question. “No, sir, none at all. I would have told you immediately.” That was important information he had to know, now that he was responsible for her. He’d never explicitly ordered it but Elise assumed she would have to get his permission before renewing any old friendships.

“The call was about another trainee at the Facility. Do you remember someone named Jamie? Was she a friend, someone you met while there?”

Immediately Elise’s face lit up. “Oh, yes I do, sir! We were the best of friends all during my stay. Is she okay? Did something happen, was that why the Facility called?”

One question was answered, they had parted as friends. “As far as I know she’s doing well. The call was a request passed on through the Director, from Jamie’s new master. Seems she asked if she could get in touch with you. I have her owner’s contact information. I’d like to hear what you think about it before I decide if we’ll proceed further.”

Elise leaned forward in her chair. “Please, sir, could you talk to him? Jamie and I were very close. I never asked about her because I know trainees at the Facility aren’t permitted to have any outside contacts. I didn’t have a chance to see her on my last day there.”

Ben held up a hand. “Okay, I’ll call him, but don’t get your hopes up just yet. He may decide it’s not in Jamie’s best interests to renew friendships right now.” Ben checked his watch. “You’re off the clock?”

Elise sat up, back to business. “Yes, Doctor Grimes, my shift is over unless you need me to stay longer.”

“I’ll be done in a few minutes. We can go home after I finish up here. You go take care of signing out and I’ll meet you by the door.”

Before Dinner

“Dinner should be ready about 7:30, sir.” It wasn’t anything fancy, pot roast with potatoes, carrots, a salad, and pie for dessert. Elise glanced at Ben through the kitchen door, sitting in his chair. He looked up from some papers he was reading, nodded and returned to his work. She took one last trip around the kitchen, making sure the dairy utensils were all on the wall or in cupboards. It still took some effort to remember to keep them apart when preparing a meat dish. Ben required her to eat kosher and follow Jewish law, kashrut, but had not ordered her to convert. Some nights Elise dreamed of a large plate of lobster smothered in parmesan cheese, served with a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich and clam chowder for an appetizer, all forbidden now. She still had trouble substituting lamb for pork.

Learning the dietary laws hadn’t been easy. When she asked Ben for explanations behind some of the restrictions his answer had been a single Hebrew word, chukkim, religious laws for which there is no reason. That she did understand, ironic since her own rules handed down by her master occasionally came with no reason behind them. She often wondered if he saw the irony in it too.

Elise looked forward to dinner this evening. Jamie had been her first real friend after arriving on the Island. Her story had been heartbreaking; Elise was overjoyed to learn she had a new master. Ben had mentioned he talked to her owner on the phone but didn’t have much to say about the conversation. When she found out Jamie wanted to get in touch it was quite a surprise. Elise had assumed there would be no way to find her. She knew from personal experience there would be no outside contact while Jamie remained at the Facility so she hadn’t asked Ben about it.

She took off her apron and hung it in the kitchen closet. Fortunately she had finished shopping early so Elise had plenty of time to get the food ready. This was their first dinner party with another couple. She wanted to make a good impression and not embarrass her master.

Elise went into the living room. “Ben? The roast is in the oven. It should be okay for another hour. May I get ready now?” It still felt odd to use his first name, even though he did allow it when they were alone, in private. That was the Facility’s influence. As Mrs. Yates would remind them, over and over, all men were to be addressed as “sir” without exception. Elise could recite that lecture word by word: it shows respect for authority; it acknowledges we are the property of men; it reinforces our place in society; and on and on.

He put down the papers in his hands. From her angle they looked like patient records. “Is it serious, sir?” She pointed at the medical folder.

Ben put them on the coffee table. “No, I don’t think so. Something I came across today, a new drug going into trials. If it works as advertised it will be a major improvement in quality of life for this patient, and possibly for a few others I know of. The big question is the side effects. I wanted to make some notes to discuss with the pharmacy on Monday, to see if we can get in on the trials.”

That was her Ben, constantly looking out for his patients, just like he watched over her. “Go ahead,” he told her. “I’ll keep an eye out for smoke pouring from the oven. And I’ll get down the wine decanter and some nice glasses for the table. You take your time.”

Elise went into the bedroom. Her dress was hanging on the closet door. For just a moment she stopped in front of the mirror, looking at her reflection. Long sleeved blouse and the skirt that covered her knees, it was a regulation outfit for off days outside the Clinic; she thought of it as a kosher dress, proper modest, Jewish style clothing for a woman. It would never be something she picked by herself, not that she’d ever have to worry about it. She didn’t see Ben as an overly strict master, at least by Facility standards, but there were times he laid down the law, and her appearance was one of those times. Not that it bothered her when she saw the way he looked at her. For whatever reason it appealed to him, and in the end that was all that mattered. Stripping off the clothes she headed for the bathroom and a nice hot shower.

Afterwards, while drying and combing her hair she wondered what type of man might be Jamie’s new master. Idly she touched her collar, locked around her neck since that day at the Facility when Ben had chosen her. She hoped Jamie had found someone kind and loving, like her Ben.

While dressing Elise reminisced about the months she and Jamie had spent at the Facility. Mutual support, we wouldn’t have made it without each other’s help. Jamie had been the one friend she looked to for advice, as someone who had already worn a collar. Even Elise, during those moments when she was sure the Facility was the worst decision she had ever made, was buoyed up by Jamie’s encouragement.

Elise also remembered the times she saw that haunted look from Jamie in unguarded moments. The stigma of being abandoned had taken a heavy toll on her. Despite Elise’s best efforts she could never convince Jamie it wasn’t her fault. Had she finally overcome her depression? Elise would find out at dinner tonight.

At The Dinner Table

“So Dave, what do you think of this proposal to allow women the vote for the City Council?” Ben asked during a lull in the dinner table conversation. An old proposal to allow some collared women a vote in Island elections was being resurrected as a referendum question for the next election. Current law did not allow a woman to vote after registering for ownership.

Jamie looked over at her master. “Sir? May I ask what the proposal is?” She hadn’t heard about it, but that might be something he decided to deliberately keep from her. She trusted Dave’s judgment on what he chose to let her see about the news, but there were times she wondered about what she missed.

Dave explained the issue. “It’s been around in one form or another for years. Basically it’s a change in the law to allow any woman in a limited ownership agreement the right to vote in Island elections. I doubt it will pass, but even if it did you would still be excluded. As you know, since your status is unrestricted you have no legal standing. You would never be eligible to vote even if the referendum passed.”

That was one of the unexpected consequences of becoming a Facility trainee. Elise and Jamie both were well aware that, unlike most of the women on the Island, any Facility trainee immediately became the permanent legal property of her future master. As such they had no legal rights at all. Elise couldn’t sign a contract, couldn’t file a legal document, or vote in elections. Even the use of her former last name was banned; she was now simply “Elise, owned by Ben Grimes”, and her first name could be changed by her master whenever he wished. About all that uniquely belonged to her was the registration number stamped on her collar.

There had been a week-long class covering just what it meant to literally become a man’s property. Elise recalled one of the most bizarre, she couldn’t testify in court. She could speak, but it was her master that took the oath to guarantee the truth of her statements. There was an implicit assumption she would say whatever her owner dictated, and not even a court could compel her to do otherwise.

Jamie added her own opinion. “Well, I don’t think it’s fair, sir. It should be one man, one vote. This way he has two votes, since he can tell her how to mark her ballot.”

“That’s part of the proposal, making it a secret ballot,” Ben clarified. “She can vote in private, without his inspection and approval afterwards.”

Jamie shook her head. “Well, sir, it seems to me a secret ballot interferes with a master’s core rights as her owner. What if she were to vote for someone he didn’t support? Keeping a secret like that borders on direct disobedience.”

“And that’s the controversy in one sentence,” Ben added. “One side argues it violates the basic principles of the Island’s founding; the other side argues it’s a harmless change to diversify our little society.”

“I wouldn’t call it harmless, sir.” That was Elise again. Her hand went to her collar. “This is an absolute. I don’t want anything to come between me and my master.” She looked over at Ben. “This law, if it passes, will set a precedent allowing the state to interfere in our private lives. The basic premise behind this collar is no restrictions. I count on that, and I’m sure…” she hesitated, “I mean to say, I hope my master sees it the same way.”

Ben reached out to pat her arm. “Not to worry, there’s no argument from me on that particular point. I’m voting against it.”

“I don’t support it either,” Dave said in agreement. “And I can’t see it being passed. I don’t understand how the issue ever reached the ballot.”

“Sirs? If you’d like to set aside politics for a moment and move to the living room we’ll fix coffee and dessert. I hope you like banana crème pie.” Elise thought it time she acted the hostess for the evening and try to steer the conversation away from controversy. She turned to Ben. “May I go to the kitchen?”

He waved his hand, “Off you go. C’mon Dave, we’ll let them take charge for a while.”

Dave saw the worried look cross Jamie’s face. “Jamie, you help Elise.” He nodded toward the kitchen door.

When Jamie heard the comment about taking charge, even though she knew it was a joke, her first reaction was shock. She would never say anything that could possibly be considered a challenge to her master’s authority, not even in jest. Nor did she expect her master to make jokes about it. That was a line defining their relationship neither one ever crossed.

“Yes, sir,” she answered, looking to her master for his reaction. She could sense he recognized her concern and, by ordering her to help, demonstrated he didn’t take the offhand comment seriously.

In The Kitchen

“So, you managed to catch a doctor! And not just any doctor, the Island’s leading heart surgeon, from what I’ve read online. What’s he like?’ Jamie had a long list of questions for Elise. They were clearing the table while the men sat down in the living room.

Elise put a hand to her throat. “More like he caught me, as you well know. He’s been very good to me. He allows me far more freedom than we were taught to expect, but of course he does control what I can do. He is a doctor, and nurses are taught the doctor is always right. If in doubt the doctor will remind you, over and over. That’s true about him too. If he wants something from me he doesn’t ask, he orders. If we get a chance sometime I’ll tell you the story about how he decided I would become his surgical assistant.

“And what about you? Tell me all about your new man.” From what she’d seen during dinner Dave Greer was something of an enigma. The way Jamie always looked to him, and how he watched her constantly, wasn’t something Elise had encountered before.

Jamie hesitated a moment before answering. “Sorry, my master is extremely strict. He has a long list of rules for me to follow. He calls it his framework, like a set of guidelines for me. I had to run down the list to make sure I don’t miss any before answering.

“I’d have to say he’s quite different compared to the men I’ve met before. By the way, I’m not allowed to use his name unless it’s necessary, one of those rules, so if I sound a bit odd it’s because I have to phrase things a certain way.

“I have very little freedom, though that doesn’t bother me. We know that comes with the collar. I have to keep him up to date on where I am and what I’m doing all through the day, even if I’m home. He supervises all my outside contacts, including the phone and email, even what I watch on TV. That’s why I had no idea what that referendum was about; he rarely lets me watch the news until he checks it first. And I have to be careful about what I do on the computer to stay inside his limits.

“For the most part I can’t talk to anyone without his permission. You should have seen the Director’s face, that first day when my master took over! I didn’t have permission to speak when he congratulated me. You remember what would have happened if we had done something like that while still at the Facility? Anyway, tonight is an exception. I have permission to talk to you and your master.”

Elise couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “Oh Jamie, I had no idea! You must be miserable. Why didn’t the Facility reject him out of hand?” She couldn’t understand how a man like that had earned the Director’s approval.

Jamie held up her hands. “No, no, you don’t understand. I’ve never been so happy! Did you know he asked me to help him, to find better ways for him to keep me isolated and ensure I behave properly? More than once I’ve reminded him of little details he missed, so he can tighten his control over me. Did you notice this?” Jamie put her hands over the sides of the belt around her waist, under her dress. “It’s a real chastity belt, made of steel, a band around my waist and a shield between my legs. It locks on, and of course he has the only key. I can’t take it off. That was all my idea. He was very proud of me for suggesting it.”

Elise stared at Jamie, not believing what she had just heard. “You mean, you’re actually wearing a chastity belt, like those medieval things? And you asked for it?” She studied Jamie’s waist, looking for a sign of it under her clothes.

“Oh yes, I found it online, but naturally he had to approve it. I admit I was a little worried at first, but now I look forward to wearing it. And you know, it actually makes me feel safer when I’m alone, knowing he’s the only one who can take it off.”

Elise stared at Jamie, for the first time seeing her friend in a new light. It explained why the Facility hadn’t turned away David Greer; he was the ideal master for the woman standing in front of her. “Is this really what you want, Jamie?” She had to ask, even though it verged on being impolite. Elise knew there wasn’t anything she could do to change Jamie’s situation. If she tried the most likely result would be a sharp reprimand, or worse, from Ben.

“I know it sounds strange, Elise, but yes it is. I know what I’m doing.” Jamie put a hand on her collar. “And it’s not like we have a choice in how we live now.” And there it was, Elise thought, we can’t walk away. They took the last of the dinner dishes out to the kitchen.

At the counter Elise sliced the pie while Jamie filled the coffee carafe. “Elise,” Jamie started hesitantly, “what’s your life been like, now you’re out of the Facility? I often think about how the others are doing, what their masters are like. Was I just lucky, finding a good man?”

Elise stopped for a moment. “There are times I miss being able to do what I want, on my own without having to get permission first. I do love Ben, and naturally I’d never do anything to disappoint him. I’m so used to asking for his approval now I don’t even think about it, but every so often I get this wild urge to get up in the middle of the night, sneak out the front door and walk down the street, all by myself.”

Jamie stared at Elise, eyes wide. “Oh my god, if you ever did that and got caught…”

Elise laughed. “Oh yeah, I know. No, I’d never do it, and I do feel guilty afterwards even thinking about it. Maybe it’s just a rebellious streak. But not to worry, the Facility taught us well. I’d never try something that crazy.”

She turned to face Jamie. “You asked if we were lucky? No, I don’t think it’s a matter of chance. After all it was the Facility that that brought us together, not coincidence. If you had asked my opinion about matchmaking a few years ago I’d have told you it was an archaic and ridiculous practice. Today, well, I’m not sure what I think, but I have to say the results go a long way toward justifying it.

“Maybe it’s just us, the type of man we need for a good relationship, one that works and holds together over time. It’s especially hard for us to find someone like that, someone who’s not also abusive, or worst of all a psychopathic serial killer. The Island, and especially the Facility, it saved me from a life of misery. I really believe it will work out for us, at least most of us from the Facility, precisely because our freedom to choose is taken away. We have to accept the right man even though we may think he’s overbearing, insensitive and self-centered. Who knew those are desirable personality traits in a man?””

Jamie laughed, “I see what you mean. It’s true, too. If it was up to me I can’t imagine I’d ever go on a second date with my master, assuming I didn’t run out halfway through the first one. I didn’t do too well on my own,” Jamie paused for a moment, “but everything’s different now. Thanks to the Facility I was ready, and my new master puts in extra effort to make sure I know exactly what he needs from me. The bad times are a distant memory now. He keeps me too busy to worry about the past.”

Elise placed the rest of the pie plates on the tray, along with the coffee cups. “Okay, we’ve kept them waiting too long so we better get out there. I’ll get the tray if you can pick up the coffee and hold open the door.”

A Private Conversation

Dave watched the two women go through the kitchen door. He was pleased to see Jamie doing so well, catching up with her friend. He turned back to their host. He’d never had occasion to visit the Clinic or meet the Island’s most famous doctor, but some of his business acquaintances had mentioned Ben in glowing terms.

Ben decided it was a good time to make his sales pitch, since they were alone. “While they’re busy I’d like to ask you about Jamie.” This was Elise’s idea but he agreed it made sense. “You know about the chronic labor shortage on the Island?” Dave nodded. It was one of the hot topics for political discussion. “As you can imagine we literally generate tons of paperwork at the Clinic. We need to get more of it converted to the computer system, but we can’t find anyone willing to do the work.”

Dave guessed where he was headed. Ben continued, “The work is time consuming, and it takes some training, but I believe Jamie would be an ideal addition to our administrative staff. I’m sure you’re aware the women we own have a certain motivation to excel at any task put before them. They are very detail oriented; everything has to be just right. That’s why I’m positive Jamie would make a first rate medical data entry specialist. Do you think you could see a way for her to work at the Clinic?”

Dave’s immediate reaction was to reject the offer since he wouldn’t be there to watch over her. However, he did like the idea of Jamie being in a place where she could socialize, in a carefully supervised environment, while doing something useful. It wouldn’t hurt to find out more.

“Well, Ben, I’ll be frank. I’m hesitant, because Jamie needs to be closely managed on a continuous basis. But I’m willing to make some allowances if it’s for her benefit. What would the workplace be like?”

Ben nodded, “I understand your concerns. She would not be interacting with patients or the public, only immediate staff in the Records department. Her direct supervisor would be Samantha Gonzalez, a woman who’s been with us for ten years. I consider her reliable and very businesslike. Samantha reports to Adam Berman, our head of Records. Jamie would report to him for attendance purposes.” From his own experience Ben knew any woman from the Facility would prefer a man to be in overall charge. Considering the Island existed for the sole purpose of supporting a male-dominated society it wasn’t an unusual occurrence.

That sounded reasonable to Dave. “I’d like to see the office and meet the people first. There has to be a limit on the number of people she meets on a daily basis, and I do want her to work in one place rather than move around. Her routine would have to be well-defined so that she knows precisely what to do.”

Ben sensed he was reluctant to lose any control over Jamie. “Fair enough. We can work out something agreeable to you on those conditions. If you like she can be escorted any time she has to leave her desk. We do have some security in place; it’s a legal requirement due to the quantity of narcotics we keep in stock.”

For Dave that was tempting but he could see it would quickly become burdensome. “No, that won’t be necessary, as long as she stays in the same building.” He held out his hand. “Subject to looking around, it’s a deal.” The two men shook hands. “I’ll let Jamie know later on. For now let’s keep this between us.”

“Okay, I’ll make sure Elise doesn’t mention it.” Ben was positive he could persuade Dave once he saw the Clinic. Strictly speaking doctors didn’t get personally involved with Records, but he knew Adam was well liked by the staff. He’d have a word with the department head Monday morning about how Jamie should be supervised.

“That brings up one more item,” Ben continued. “Elise and Jamie were friends for some time. If you agree I’d like to give Elise permission to remain in contact with Jamie after tonight. She doesn’t have many friends so I think it would be good for her to have someone to share activities, someone like herself, common experiences and all that.”

Dave nodded in agreement. “Seems great minds think alike. I was about to ask you the same thing. Right now Jamie is allowed to go out on her own three days a week, in the afternoons. I can adjust that schedule if you have any specific restrictions for Elise.”

Ben thought about it. “Generally I give Elise some time off from her nursing duties during the day if she has to work nights or weekends. How about we let them sort it out?”

Dave leaned back in his chair. “I can work with that. You know, I never anticipated how much time and effort it would require to own a woman outright.” He nodded toward the kitchen. “It isn’t as simple as I assumed.”

Ben shook his head. “No, it isn’t. The same thing happened to me when I got Elise. She’s extremely sensitive to any hint of criticism from me, real or imagined. I have to be careful what I say since it’s so easy for her to misunderstand.”

Dave nodded in agreement. “I see the same thing. Plus Jamie’s far too critical of herself. Several times she’s come to me to confess she’s made a terrible mistake, and I don’t have a clue what she’s talking about. I can’t ignore it either, as you well know. So I talk her through it, ask questions while I’m stalling for time to come up with some appropriate way to respond.”

Ben laughed. “Oh yeah, been there, done that. Seems we both have hold of the proverbial tiger by the tail. Once you start you can’t let go, no matter what.”

Just then the kitchen door opened. Elise came out first with a serving platter full of pie, followed by Jamie carrying the coffee pot. Dave watched both of them, curious to see how they interacted. All evening both of them had been deferential, which was only to be expected from Facility graduates. He could see many similarities in the two women, but some striking differences as well. Elise rarely looked to Ben for permission, in contrast to the way Jamie frequently looked to him for approval.

He didn’t care for the seemingly lax discipline on the part of the doctor but Dave was well aware his own particular style wasn’t very popular. He would have to watch how time spent with Elise would affect Jamie. She had to understand that while Elise might have some latitude he had no intention of granting the same to her.

After the Party

“Come sit next to me,” Ben told Elise after he closed the front door. Their guests had left, so the rest of the evening was free of interruptions.

“Yes, sir,” Elise answered, secretly relieved she had an excuse not to start on the kitchen cleanup. She had enjoyed the evening but was feeling tired. She followed him onto the couch, sitting close. Unconsciously she reverted to the Facility position out of habit, feet on the floor, though she did remember to place her hands on her knees.

Ben put his arm around her shoulders. Her sudden change didn’t escape his notice. “Old habits die hard, don’t they? Especially when a reminder suddenly pops up to bring it all back. Is that what prompted you to go back to sitting that way?”

Elise suddenly realized what she had done. “Oh! I’m sorry, sir, I…” She raised her hands off her knees.

“No, stop that! Go back to your position, now.” He took hold of her right wrist and forced her hand back down.

Without any hesitation Elise immediately sat up straight and looked straight ahead, as she had been taught to do. Unsure if Ben was angry she didn’t speak or move.

“I brought it up because I see you copying your friend. I’ve never required you to sit this way, so what brought it on?” Although Ben liked to think of himself as primarily a hands-off type of master for Elise, still he couldn’t ignore a sudden change in her behavior.

Elise didn’t move, continuing to look straight ahead as she answered. “Sir, this is what we are taught at the Facility. It was required no matter what we were doing, even if we had free time. Meeting Jamie again, and how she still keeps to the Facility way, it made me think. I’m not sure why, but somehow I felt I might be getting lazy. Seeing her sit on the couch this way, I felt pressured to show you I can do the same. I want you to be proud of me, sir, and for others to respect you as a man who demonstrates he’s in charge of his home.”

“You don’t appear to be all that careless at the moment.” Ben got up and stood directly in front of Elise. She tilted her head to look up at him. “Oh, no, straight ahead, not at me.” Quickly she lowered her eyes. “You stay that way until I tell you otherwise.”

“Yes, sir, I…” Elise began.

He cut her off immediately, “No talking either! I want you to sit there quietly and listen to me.” He took a step back to get a better look at her. “Keep those shoulders back.” He reached down to push in her elbows. “Tuck in your elbows; I don’t want to see them sticking out. And keep your fingers together. I will not tolerate a sloppy presentation.”

She did her best to follow his instructions. This was a side of Ben she hadn’t experienced before. Elise was sure she’d done something to upset him, and now she was going to pay the price for it. She had to concentrate on holding perfectly still, not daring to move a muscle lest it make matters worse.

He backed up so she could see him plainly. The expression on his face wasn’t a pleasant one. “You know I’ve never had to prove I have total control over you. I don’t need you jumping through hoops to demonstrate who’s in charge. I don’t need to hold you up for comparison to other women either.”

Ben paced back and forth, seemingly lost in thought for the moment. Elise waited for him to continue. “I think it may be me who’s a bit lazy, not you. I can see where it is beneficial to both of us if I indulge myself once in a while. You’re going to sit like that from now on, whether we’re at home or at work, even if I’m not around. Commit it to memory, because I will be watching. If you forget or don’t do this properly I’ll consider it willful disobedience. There will be no discussion.”

His last comment, willful disobedience, shocked Elise. About the only thing worse, from what they were taught at the Facility, was running away. Or trying to run away since the success rate was zero, considering they were on an island with tight security at the only port, and they were isolated far out in the Indian Ocean. Willful disobedience was a serious crime, and all it would take to convict her was a simple statement from her master. If he filed a formal complaint she could be sent to prison for years, up to twice the duration of their ownership agreement, which in her case was a lifetime.

Whatever his reason for imposing this new rule she had to get it right, every time, and to his satisfaction. Elise wanted to ask him the reason why he had suddenly made it permanent but he had also cut off that topic of conversation completely. No discussion meant precisely that; she couldn’t mention it even in a roundabout way.

Ben sat down next to her and put his arm around her shoulders. “I’m not mad at you, Elise. This isn’t some kind of punishment either. I’m sure you’re wondering why? Well, it’s much simpler than you think. You’re obeying me solely because I have the power to make you do it. And yes, seeing you copy Jamie got me thinking about it.”

He ran his fingers all the way down her arm, to her hand resting on her knee. “I meant what I said. Don’t move an inch, look straight ahead, and don’t make a sound.” He slipped his hand between her knees, just below the hem of her dress. “I tend to forget just how much power I have over you.” With his other hand he stroked her hair. “So tell me about your friend Jamie.”

Elise relaxed a bit, though she willed herself to hold her position no matter what. “Yes, sir. I’m not quite sure what to say. She seems to be happy, but what she tells me of her life is, well, disturbing.” It felt awkward to carry on a casual conversation when she dare not turn her head to look at him, but Elise kept on. His hand under her dress didn’t help her concentration either.

“She tells me her master is very strict. She has essentially no freedom to act on her own and must depend on him for everything. That’s not so unusual by itself, except he keeps her totally isolated, directing who she can talk to, what she reads, what she can watch on TV.” She paused for a moment, debating whether to go on. “Sir, did you notice she wears a chastity belt? It doesn’t really show unless you know it’s there. Jamie told me it was her idea, and then she went on about how delighted she was he agreed to let her wear it. I don’t understand that kind of thinking at all.”

Ben leaned back and put his hands behind his head. “No, I didn’t notice the belt. But I did see how she constantly looked to Dave, and I was sure it was to see if she met with his approval. A chastity belt, hmm, I did come across an article mentioning modern versions and what type of sores to look for if someone needs treatment. They must be more common than I would expect to warrant a mention in a medical journal. Inconspicuous, a close fit, effective and very difficult to remove without the key. There are male versions too, more elaborate as you may imagine. Nope, not something I want on all day long.”

Elise couldn’t see his reaction but something in the tone of his voice made her uneasy. She wondered if it had been wise to bring up the subject.

“If she was eager to get one I’d wager it’s because she thought her master wanted it. Or maybe she likes the idea of being locked in it. You know, there are women who enjoy all kinds of bondage, especially the extreme kind.”

He stopped suddenly. Elise waited for him to continue, not daring to say anything. “Would you like one of those belts too? I can find out from Dave where he got the one for Jamie.”

Elise thought quickly, picking over his words one at a time. Did he want her to wear one of those things? If so she’d have to make the best of it, but it definitely wasn’t something she’d ask for. “Sir, if you think it best then I’ll wear a chastity belt.” That was the only answer she had, not agreeing, but not defying him if he intended to get one for her.

His response was silence. Elise wanted to turn and look at his face, to see his reaction, but that was forbidden. She continued to stare at the far wall, certain that the next time she saw Jamie she’d be asking for advice.

“Look at me,” he ordered. Elise turned her head but otherwise held still. “I know you’ll be disappointed but I’m not going to allow you to wear a chastity belt.” The smile on his face told her he knew very well she was not in the least upset at his decision. “Just think, what would I do if I happened to lose the key, especially if we were going to bed? It might be weeks before I found it. No, I’m sorry Elise, but it’s too much of an inconvenience to me.”

“You’re right, sir. It would be a problem, for you.” She’d be the one locked in the belt without a key, not him. From his perspective inconvenience was in the eye of the beholder, not the one wearing the belt. She couldn’t imagine being stuck in one for a day, much less weeks at a time.

Ben started laughing. “Ahh, Elise, you do have a way with words.” He stood up. “You may break your position.” He held out a hand. “C’mon, it’s been a long night, let’s go to bed. Leave the cleaning up for tomorrow.”


Elise was sitting on the couch, watching a movie while Ben completed some work in his office. When he came out into the living room she immediately sat up straight. Per his standing order her hands were on her knees, feet on the floor, legs together, facing straight ahead. From the corner of her eye she saw him standing to one side, checking to make sure she had it right.

He sat down next to her, hit the pause on the remote and put an arm around her shoulders. “You can finish your movie later. Right now I want to spend some time with you.”

“Yes, sir,” she answered, still looking straight ahead at the TV screen. She wanted to see his face, to get some idea of his mood, but he had been very explicit on keeping a certain position, one that didn’t allow looking to the side until he gave permission.

“First of all, I want to let you know I do understand how difficult it must be for you, sitting in such a rigid way. I imagine it can be a real burden during the day, at work, with so many people seeing you like this. I don’t want you to stop, regardless of the effort required. This is very important to me, Elise. That’s why the consequences of failure are so severe. Don’t doubt for a moment I meant it when I said it will be willful disobedience. You know what that means, both in terms of punishment and how it would affect our future together.”

“Yes, sir, I have no doubt about that at all.” That last part, about their future, scared her. One careless moment and she could lose everything. She knew all too well the sentence for willful disobedience since she’d heard it enough times at the Facility. She’d be sent to a disciplinary center, a nice euphemism for a maximum security prison without any limits on how the inmates were treated. Worst of all, she’d never know how long the sentence would last, certainly for months, maybe for several years.

“I don’t mean to frighten you, only to make you understand the importance I put on this.” He ran his hand up and down her arm. “You must be asking yourself what brought this on. Why the sudden change? I’ve never been this strict with you before now.”

“Was it the dinner party, sir?” Elise was sure that was the moment he changed. He’d seen Jamie, how much she depended on her master, how eager she was to please him. Elise was sure she had come in a poor second in a side by side comparison. No wonder he was so disappointed in her.

“No, it wasn’t Jamie. I can guess what you’re thinking, but you’re wrong.” He rested his hand on top of hers. “Listen to me. From the day I brought you home you’ve never given me cause to regret owning you. Maybe you don’t see it but I know you are every bit as obedient as Jamie, and yes that’s important to me. You’re the woman I want at my side, be it home or in the operating room.”

Elise wanted so much to turn and look at his face, to see if he really meant what he said. It was so frustrating, being forced to stare straight ahead. She didn’t mind sitting in position, except for that one requirement.

“After some consideration I think I made one mistake. I’m removing the restriction where you can’t look around. I still want you to sit this way, especially with your hands on your knees, but from now on you can look to the side if you’re in a conversation. No slouching either! I want to see that back straight and head held high.”

She turned to face him. “Thank you so much, sir! It feels like I’m being rude when I can’t move my head around. Other than that one rule, Ben, I don’t mind sitting this way at all. I can tell it means a lot to you.”

Ben put his arm around her and sat close, holding her. “You’re a Facility woman, Elise, and that does mean something to me. It’s a privilege to own someone special, one of the best. I know you’ll do whatever I ask, follow any rule no matter how much a burden it may be. But more than that, and this is what sets you apart, is the way you work with me instead of against me. I can see I’ve set a difficult assignment for you, sitting in such a rigid position, yet you still put all your drive and energy toward showing me how well you comply.”

Elise started to lower her head to hide the tears of joy welling up in her eyes. He really does understand, she thought. Quickly she jerked her head up, remembering he had not given her permission to break position.

“It’s a synergy, Elise. The two of us, together, creating something greater than either one of us could accomplish alone. In the operating room we save lives; at home we save each other from a lonely, empty existence. I depend on you as much as you depend on me. Now I might admit I have something to do with how much you have to rely on me,” he squeezed her shoulder, “but it does go both ways. I’d be lost without you.”

She could feel the tears running down her face. As much as she wanted to wipe them off she could not move her hands off her knees. She looked down at her hands before turning back to face Ben. “Sir? My hands, I can’t move them. I don’t know how to explain it.”

Abruptly his expression changed. “Did I give you permission?” She recognized that tone in his voice. She’d crossed a line or was near to it.

“No, sir. I just thought I’d wipe…”

“No, I didn’t,” he interrupted, stopping her explanation. “Those hands stay right where they are until I say otherwise, understand? Why do you think you can’t move them, Elise? The reason is simple. I want to see those hands on your knees, and that means you want the same thing. It’s two halves of a whole, you and I, with a common purpose. I lead, I define that purpose, and you make it possible.”

That was the moment it all came together for Elise. All she had learned at the Facility, her time with Ben, the collar around her neck, her hands glued to her knees, everything made sense. Two halves making a whole, she repeated to herself, over and over. In that instant she understood why she’d never be a burden to him, and why she need never fear losing him. The whole is stronger than either half, she realized, but only if it stays in one piece.

Janet and Peter


“We’re out of sight. Peter, get these things off me!” As usual the group meeting had run over by several hours. When Janet and Peter finally left it was after curfew, which meant Peter had to hook her up with the handcuffs and leg irons. It was bad enough she had to wear that cursed collar all day long. Then there was the added indignity of the curfew and its mandate to keep her in restraints in public. Janet had to play along with the charade in order to hide her identity, though that was scant consolation when she was trussed up like a common criminal.

Peter followed her through the front door, carrying the pizza. At least she wouldn’t have to put up with his feeble attempts at cooking tonight. “Put the pizza in the kitchen. Then get back here and unlock me. You know how much I hate being tangled up in chains.” To emphasize the point she jerked on the waist chain holding her handcuffed wrists against her body.

When Peter came back from the kitchen he already had the keys in his hand. He freed her hands, removed the waist chain and finished by crouching down to release her from the ankle chains. She watched while he gathered the restraints and headed toward the hall closet to put them away.

“Wait!” Janet called out. She grabbed her hair and pulled it to one side. “I want this damn collar off, now!” Peter dumped the chains in a chair and turned back to her. As soon as she heard the distinctive click of the lock being opened she reached up and pulled the collar off her neck. The key was still in the lock.

“Here,” she handed it back to Peter. She could clearly read the registration number next to her hand. The perfect camouflage, Janet smiled at the irony. The Island’s security service was looking for her, but they had one blind spot. Her goal in life, along with the Group, was to tear down the Island’s male dominated society, and especially the ownership laws regarding women. What better hiding place than to masquerade as one of the brainwashed sex slaves. She and Peter had passed the one year agreement; now they were two years into a five year contract. The beauty of belonging to Peter, at least on paper, was that it effectively wiped out her prior history. Any attempt to trace her would hit a dead end.

Peter pulled out the key but left the collar open. Janet would have kept the keys but the risk of someone seeing her with them was too great. This too shall pass, she echoed the famous words, once we’ve done away with barbaric practices and their symbols of oppression. Until then she had to keep up appearances to remain concealed.

Peter headed back to the kitchen, to put the pizza on plates and pour the wine. Janet raised her arms wide, relishing the freedom after being forced to sit in the car with her hands bound. She hated the curfew even more than the collar. But without Peter she’d be trapped indoors all night long.

Dear Peter, her little puppy dog, waved his hand to tell her supper was ready. Janet would be in a bad way without him. It had been a close thing, when Island Security raided their safe house. Janet had barely escaped; her sister Jeanne hadn’t been so fortunate. Peter had saved her then, driving away just in time to avoid the road block. Ever since then he’d been at her side.

If he ever grew a backbone she’d be in real trouble. What would happen if he’d simply left her in those chains? According to Island law she was effectively his property, to do with as he pleased. Up to now it pleased him to be her loyal follower. If that ever altered all her plans would come crashing to a sudden halt.

Janet went into the kitchen. Pepperoni pizza and a glass of something red; it came out of a box instead of a bottle but wasn’t bad. She carefully ran her hands along her skirt when she sat down, making sure he had a good view of her little show. It didn’t take much to keep Peter happy. She saw the hunger in his eyes, and it wasn’t for a slice of pizza. She’d reward him in bed tonight, but not with a collar around her neck. She had to be careful not to let him stray too far from the cause. If he ever realized he could satisfy himself with or without her cooperation Janet would lose control over him.

“It was a good meeting tonight. I think some direct action will bring new life to the Group.” Peter took a bite from his slice.

For once Janet had to agree with him. The Group was eking out a living with industrial espionage, primarily from her efforts. They were losing focus due to the inactivity and the lack of progress. Unless something dramatic happened soon the remaining members would drift away and the Group would disappear.

It was a daily struggle to keep the vision alive. The Group had shrunk to a handful of the most dedicated, and financial help from the few remaining supporters was shrinking every month. Just to survive they needed to pull off something dramatic, to revive the flagging interest in the cause.

She had a plan, thanks to the outline Jeanne had worked on before being caught. It depended on one high profile kidnapping, then deprogramming, and finally smuggling the woman off the Island. It would expose the Island to worldwide public scrutiny, something the men on the Island could not endure for long.

Sure, there were gaps in the plan she hadn’t worked out yet. If the Group wasn’t in such bad shape those holes could be filled in, but Janet was running out of time. Another two or three months and there’d be nothing left. Desperation forced her to take risks. The last of their funds had gone into renting the safe house; either the plan went forward soon or everything she believed in fell apart.

For over three years now she’d played the part of the ideal Island submissive woman. Every minute spent in that role tested her patience, but there was no alternative. She’d actually seen the face of her enemy, when he’d put Jeanne in the back of the police car. That man, Rupert was his name, was after her. Just one mistake and he’d be following the SWAT team through the door, ready to carry her off to…what?

Sister Mine

She missed the fiery passion of her sister Jeanne. No one had been more dedicated to the cause. Her loss had hit them all hard. Janet had stepped in to the leadership position, but she didn’t have the gift of motivating the true believers like Jeanne did every time the Group met. Nor did she have the fundraising contacts that were lost when her sister was arrested.

Where was Jeanne now? Was she even alive? The last time Janet saw her Jeanne was being dragged out of the safe house in police custody. Janet and Peter saw it all from a nearby hill, through binoculars. She would never forget that short, nondescript man dressed in a business suit, with his hand around Jeanne’s arm. It had taken a year before she discovered his name, Rupert Townsend, supposedly an accountant but in reality the driving force in Island Security.

He was looking for her now. Her nemesis, Rupert was dedicated to capturing her in order to preserve his precious Island society. He’d driven her underground, but she wasn’t out of the game. Direct action would get his attention.

What had become of Jeanne? Janet managed to track her to North Island and the Disciplinary Center. After that she had effectively disappeared. The Group had no sources on North Island, so any information from there was difficult to come by.

If I can pull this off, maybe it will eventually help Jeanne, wherever she is. That was Janet’s hope, to one day be reunited with her sister. Once the two of them were off the Island, back in normal society, they’d be famous. TV interviews, a lucrative book deal, the lecture circuit, they’d be the darlings of progressive circles. She’d have to find some place for Peter too, though in the end he was expendable.

But for now he was her ticket to moving freely around South Island. She tugged at the hem of her skirt, making sure Peter noticed. She had to suppress a laugh when he stopped to look. It didn’t take much to attract him. Janet had to be careful about manipulation though. On the plus side he wasn’t the brightest man she’d ever met. As long as he was eager to please she was safe; his focus was solely on sex. It was a fine line though. If he ever figured out how much power over her he could bring to bear, all according to Island law, she’d be in serious trouble.

Janet was exhausted, mentally and physically. Those endless meetings, necessary to rally her handful of remaining troops, took a toll. And she still had to entertain Peter when they finished eating.

It was a long, dark tunnel, but there was a light at the end. Jeanne would be proud of her. It was a gamble, the light at the end of the tunnel could just as easily be an oncoming train, but she had to remain optimistic. The plan would work.

Action Plan

Jeanne had been the expert at planning and carrying out their deprogramming interventions. All had been successful, at least to some degree, until that last one went horribly wrong. Neither Janet nor anyone else left in the Group had those kinds of planning skills. What she did have was a sketched out plan Jeanne had been working on. To maintain operational security they never kept records in safe houses, so it had survived the raid.

All the pieces were in place. Ed and Ralph, her “goon squad”, were as ready as she could hope for. They had the carefully assembled uniforms, untraceable, and the van to move the target to the safe house. They weren’t the best and brightest members of the Group, but they were reliable and followed instructions. The remaining members of the Group were already at the secret location, to establish a normal presence around the house and prepare it for the deprogramming sessions.

Everything was in place, everyone was ready to act. Janet went over the plan in her head one more time, looking for any last minute details she might have missed. The Group was as ready as they’d ever be.

“Peter? According to the emails I intercepted, our target will be available at noon. She’ll be out on the street, where we want her. Tell Ed and Ralph it’s a go for lunchtime tomorrow. Alert the safe house to be ready for them, and make sure the van is hidden in the garage when they arrive. There’ll be drones in the air all over the Island; we don’t want to attract attention. After you coordinate the pickup, we’ll wait in town until I get off work. Roadblocks will be up by then but we can easily pass them in the car.”

Peter nodded. “Okay, got it. Are you sure about the roadblock? What if Island Security is out there, with your picture?”

Janet laughed while shaking her head. “I’m sure. Even with a picture they’ll never recognize me. Camouflage, remember?” She wasn’t looking forward to the trip or what it would require from her, but everyone had to make sacrifices.

She and Peter were the outside team. There was nothing to link either of them to the plan, as long as she wasn’t recognized. Rupert and his Island Security thugs would be looking for her as a matter of principle, part of the “round up the usual suspects” police state mentality. Even so, she had a foolproof plan to get around them. “There are none so blind as those who don’t bother to look.” It wasn’t the exact wording from the famous quote but it suited Janet. If she was successful, and Peter didn’t panic, they’d be able to pass through the roadblocks with impunity.

The Eventful Day

A Flawless Operation

“This is a routine permit examination. Please hand over your travel cards.” The first policeman pointed to Luisa and Sharon. “Scan their registration numbers.”

Luisa took off the lanyard with her travel and debit cards. She held her hair to one side while the second officer held a scanner up to her collar. Next to her Sharon did the same. Luisa knew about random checks but had never seen one before, much less experienced it firsthand. The presence of the two policemen, in uniform, was intimidating.

The officer with the scanner handed it to his partner. He grabbed Luisa’s arm and led her over to a nearby white van parked on the street. Sharon was right behind her. “Hands on the van, now!” the first man barked out an order.

Sharon reacted without hesitation, quickly followed by a confused Luisa. What was going on? The travel permits were valid; they had permission to go out for lunch. “Luisa, owned by a Mr. Kurt Goeren?” He read off Luisa’s registration number as well.

“Yes, sir, that’s me. Is there a problem? We both have a supervisor’s approval to come here for lunch.”

“That’s not what I see here. Your name is listed as Lois, not Luisa. Something’s not right here. We’re going to have to straighten this out at the station.”

“My master ordered me to use Luisa,” she answered. “Sir, there must be some mistake. My master gave me permission to take Sharon out for lunch today…”

“Quiet!” the officer almost shouted. “Your owners will be contacted. If there’s a mistake you’ll be released. If not, then an investigation will be required. Hands behind your back, you know the routine.”

In minutes both Luisa and Sharon were seated in the back of the van, hands cuffed behind their backs, and locking seat belts to hold them in place. One of the officers sat behind them. The other pulled the side door closed, got in and started to drive away.

“Sir? If you could just call…” Luisa began.

“I don’t want to hear it. In fact, all I want is silence from both of you. Look, I know you’re scared. It’s possible there is some mix up with the travel permit; it’s happened before. We’ll get it straightened out and you’ll be on your way. Relax and be patient.”

Ed had rehearsed this part of the script several times. To his surprise it actually worked to keep them calm. The longer he and Ralph could keep up the deception the easier it would be to get them out of town.

The second woman complicated things. She wasn’t supposed to be there. Janet wasn’t going to be too pleased with her presence, but as Ed saw it there was no choice but to bring her along. If she’d been left behind an alarm might have gone out so fast they wouldn’t make it out of the city. Plenty of bystanders had witnessed the abduction, disguised as an arrest; that was a risk they couldn’t avoid. But to leave someone behind who had seen and heard everything, that was just too dangerous.

From his vantage point across the street Peter watched the entire scene. It was successful, so far, but not without complications. He sent a coded text to Janet to let her know what was going on. He also alerted the safe house that the “package” was going to be delivered soon.

Past Due

Kurt glanced at his phone when he heard the text alert chime. Luisa was leaving the restaurant, on her way back to the archives after lunch. He made a note of the time. A long lunch, but within what he’d allowed for her. He would have to remember to compliment her on her diligence in texting him when she was out and about.

Luisa’s next text wasn’t due until she left the archives on her way back to the office. Maybe it was only across the street, but it wasn’t the distance that mattered. Kurt took his responsibilities as her master seriously; that included knowing where she was at all times.

He turned back to his workstation. One of the civil engineers had sent up some revised drawings for the pumping station under construction near the Turkish border. The notes explained the reasons for the revision were some discrepancies in the soil analysis that had been performed by a local contractor known for taking bribes. Kurt shook his head and softly chuckled. Human nature was the same all over the world; someone always wanted to take a short cut to riches or glory. He opened the tracking system to begin the change order process.

About ten minutes later the phone rang. On the other end was Arthur Harquist, from the archives. “Kurt? Arthur here. Listen, by any chance are Sharon and Luisa in your office? They haven’t returned. It isn’t like Sharon to not report in when she gets back after lunch.”

Kurt got up from his desk and looked out his doorway. The office was empty. This wasn’t good. Ten minutes were more than enough to walk the short distance from the restaurant back to the archives. If something had happened at least one of them should have called. “Arthur? Something’s not right here. I’ll walk over to where they had lunch and retrace their route. I’ll meet up with you in your office.”

Kurt wasted no time in hurrying down to the street. After a quick check at the reception desk he headed out onto the street. Starting from the old office building across the street he followed their most likely path along the sidewalk to the restaurant. Inside he received some troubling news from the hostess at the door.

Luisa and Sharon had been there and left. The hostess saw them stop outside the restaurant door to talk to two policemen. After that they had been arrested and taken away in an unmarked van. When Kurt checked with the manager he replayed the same event from the camera covering the entrance.

Kurt called Arthur immediately, after seeing the video. The police should have contacted him immediately if Luisa had been detained. “Arthur? Any word on your end? No? You need to contact Sharon’s owner immediately. Eyewitnesses saw them being taken by the police, but no one’s contacted me.”

What? I know for a fact they both had their travel cards,” Arthur replied. “His name is George Thornton. I’ll call him right now and give him your number.”

Bad to Worse

George joined Kurt at the police station as soon as possible. He didn’t understand why Sharon would be arrested. The situation deteriorated when the police informed him they had no reports of either Sharon or Luisa being detained, or even any patrols being assigned to that area of the city at lunchtime.

He and Kurt were quickly seated in a conference room with two detectives. The senior, a Sgt. Keane, opened with a disturbing declaration. “We reviewed the video recording. There were discrepancies in the uniforms the two men wore. We don’t believe they were real police officers. Based on that, we are treating this as a kidnapping. At the moment we’re trying to identify the two faces we have from the camera. An Island-wide general alert is going out as we speak with descriptions of both women, as well as their abductors. The Coast Guard is patrolling for small boats, and we’re searching all ships in port as well as the cross channel ferry. Thanks to your quick notification there hasn’t been enough time for them to get off South island; they have to be hiding here. That’s all the information we have for now.”

“Any idea why they were taken?” George asked. He glanced over at Kurt, who appeared to be lost in thought.

“Not at this time,” the detective answered. “Neither of you have been contacted about a ransom demand?”

George and Kurt both replied with an emphatic “no.”

After a moment Kurt asked to speak to the Sergeant privately. Out in the hallway he reluctantly brought up Luisa’s unique status on the Island. “This may not be related, but you should contact a Mr. Rupert Townsend, he’s an accountant in Island Security, and inform him Luisa Calvaho, my Luisa, is involved. He may request her registration number.”

“Island Security? What’s this about?” The detective had worked with the shadowy Island Security department before. A kidnapping was bad enough; the last thing Sgt. Keane wanted was to have Security mixed into the investigation. An accountant? Not likely, nobody in that agency had an accurate job title.

“You’ll have to discuss that with Mr. Townsend.” Kurt could see this was not welcome information. “I’m sorry, but I can’t go into further details.”

Bill Keane showed Kurt back into the meeting room before going to his office. He shut the door before he sat down to make the call. He punched in the phone number, heard it ring, followed by an answer from a pleasant-sounding female receptionist. When he asked for a Mr. Townsend in Accounting he spotted the momentary hesitation before she transferred his call. It confirmed his worst fears. This Mr. Townsend was no more an accountant than Bill.

The man who answered did not waste any time. “Sgt. Keane? If I may introduce myself, I am Rupert Townsend.” There was a definite Australian accent. “I assume you are calling in reference to Luisa Calvaho, the Luisa owned by Mr. Goeren?” He read off a series of digits. “That should be her registration number?”

Whoever this Rupert really was, he seemed to be remarkably well-informed. “No mind reading, Sergeant. Your all-points alert came across my desk the moment it was issued. Before you ask, let me assure you I am not intruding in your investigation. My function is to make certain Island assets available to you, in addition to removing obstacles to whatever other resources you may require.”

This case was starting to escalate far beyond Bill’s pay grade. He had a premonition this case was going to rapidly explode into a media feeding frenzy, and he’d be at the center of it. If he didn’t solve the case quickly he’d be relegated to the worst possible assignment the department could find for him. Directing traffic and handing out parking tickets was not why he’d joined the police force.

A Minor Issue

Peter met Janet when she left the elevator opening into the parking garage. The moment she saw his face she knew something had gone wrong. “Not here,” Janet whispered. “Wait until we get to the car.”

Inside the car, where no one could hear them, Peter gave her the bad news. Ed and Ralph had brought back two women. One was the target; the other had on a Facility collar. Otherwise the kidnapping was a success. The women were at the safe house, the van under cover, and the police uniforms were being destroyed.

“The problem was the other woman,” Peter explained. “We didn’t expect the target to have a guest for lunch. Ralph had no choice but to take her too. The alarm would have gone out in minutes. As it was they just missed the roadblocks out of town. The police are everywhere. We thought we’d have a few hours before the alert went out. Instead it was more like twenty minutes.”

Janet rubbed her temples with her hands. It’s always the unexpected that causes the problems. “Well, forget about deprogramming the second one. Our approach, playing on emotional reaction, won’t work with her. The Facility teaches those women to think for themselves, and specifically to recognize the emotional appeal, filtering it out to get to the facts. I’m not surprised at the quick action by the police. Facility women are kept on a short leash. Five minutes late reporting in, whoever is responsible for her will start looking. Of all the women they had to grab, a Facility graduate is just about the worst possible.”

“What else could they do? The moment a passerby on the street became suspicious the plan would have fallen apart. So, what now?” As always Peter had that lost look. She had to take charge right away, before he panicked.

“We proceed as planned. Go ahead, sir. I mouthed off, definitely a poor attitude situation. Do your duty as my master.” She wasn’t looking forward to the long, uncomfortable drive to the safe house. It had to be done in order to get past the roadblocks. Hopefully Peter was up to putting on a show.

Peter reached into the back seat for a plastic bag. The first item he removed was the gag. The cuffs she was almost used to, but a gag was different. The idea of being forcibly silenced scared her almost as much as being arrested. He noticed the way she reflexively pulled back.

“You sure about this? Once the gag goes on you’ll have to wear it all the way home. We can’t take a chance on being stopped.”

He was right, and it was her idea. Reluctantly she opened her mouth, signaling Peter to install the gag. It was a massive panel gag, with a large insert that filled her mouth. The panel covered half her face, nicely concealing her features. The first strap pulled tight at the back of her head. The chin piece was next, with another set of straps at the back to make sure it didn’t slip. Finally the large Y-shaped headpiece went over her forehead and attached to the straps in back.

It felt like a large spider had grabbed hold of her face and wouldn’t let go. She wanted to reach up and tear it off. That temptation was removed when Peter pulled out the waist chain and handcuffs from the bag. Resigned to the inevitable Janet leaned forward, her hands close together behind her back.

A few clicks of the cuff ratchets and her wrists were held in place. Peter pulled the chain around her waist and used a padlock to secure it in front. A few tugs confirmed she was helpless. When she leaned back against the seat he fastened her seat belt, but thankfully left it in a loose fit. Though it was overkill Peter finished with the last item in the bag, a set of leg irons. Reaching down he closed them around her ankles. It’s a necessary evil, Janet thought, trying to justify what Peter had done to her.

Within ten minutes they ran into the first roadblock. When Peter reached the officer in the road he lowered his window. “Could you pop the trunk, sir?” the policeman asked politely. Meanwhile he looked in the back seat before coming back to Peter and Janet.

He took his time scrutinizing Janet. “Is there a problem with her?” he asked Peter.

“Let’s just say she’s being educated on the consequences of speaking in a hasty, temperamental and thoroughly disrespectful tone of voice.” Peter shook his head. “Some days it takes a little more effort to remind her of her proper place.”

“I can sympathize,” the cop replied. Janet heard the car trunk lid slam shut. “Sorry for the delay. You can go. Have a safe trip.” The officer waved them through the barrier.

“Well, your disguise worked, so far. I’m betting we’ll be stopped again, so you’ll have to hang in there a little longer.” Janet was in no position to argue with him.

One Too Many

“Explain to me again, slowly, why you picked up both of them?” Janet could barely restrain her anger. Within hours the plan had gone off track. She stared at the monitor showing the two women, still handcuffed and sitting on the bed in the secure basement room.

“How were we supposed to separate them and still get away without raising an alarm?” Peter retaliated, irritated at Janet’s superior attitude. “If we left the other one behind she’d start making calls immediately. She saw Ralph and Ed’s faces, and the van plates. They wouldn’t have made it out of town.”

Peter was right, though Janet didn’t want to admit it. Now there was an extra mouth to feed, which meant more grocery trips, and it increased the risk one of them might slip out of the house.

“It’s done; we’ll have to live with it. For now we stick to the rest of the plan. Take the one with a regular collar, her name is,” Janet checked her notes, “Lois Vallardo. She’s the technical writer. I don’t know who the other one is, but whatever you do, don’t run a query on their registration numbers. The police will be watching for database checks.”

Something wasn’t right. “Hold on,” Janet told everyone. “Why are there two names here? One says Lois Vallardo with no registration number; the other is just Luisa, including a collar number.”

“Maybe her owner changed her name.” That observation came from Ed. Janet never expected any pearls of wisdom from him, but she had to admit he might be correct this time. “I used it as an excuse to detain them.”

“Yeah, that must be what happened. Okay, from now on she’s Lois, not Luisa. We want her focused on what she gave up, not what comes with that collar.”

“You want us to remove her collar? I have all we need.” Peter picked up a toolbox from the floor.

“Yes, but just her. The other one, she’s got a Facility collar. There’s no point in trying to work with her. They’re fanatics, won’t listen to reason. I don’t think she’ll give us any trouble, but you never know. She may even try to fight us if we tamper with her collar. Keep an eye on her. By the way do we have her name?”

“According to her travel card it’s Sharon. Her owner is listed as a George Thornton.” That was Ed again.

“Well, don’t use those names if you go on the internet. Island Security has access to the central routers; they can spot name usage.” Thanks to Jeanne’s diligence Janet knew about many of the traps that might catch the Group. Social media and online searches were unsafe.

Janet looked over Peter’s shoulder, to the TV. The sound was muted but on screen there was already an alert going out, with pictures of Luisa and Sharon. There was also a blown-up picture of the two fake police officers, though the quality was so bad they could be anyone. The description of the white van matched half the delivery vehicles on the Island. To be safe she’d leave their van in the garage for now.

If only Jeanne were here. She had a knack with anticipating those tiny details that might lead the cops to their door. Janet ran over the operation again and again in her mind, looking for any mistake. Judging by TV coverage they were safe, but the police never released everything they knew.

How had the alert gone out so fast? Ten minutes later and the van would have been trapped in the city, after the roadblocks went up. It must have been the Facility woman. Their owners kept obsessively close track of movements. One missed check-in to report her whereabouts would certainly trigger an alarm.

In hindsight they should have canceled the operation rather than take both women. Too late now, we’re committed. Janet still worried about what else might go wrong with their plan.

Ghosts from the Past

“Search parties scoured the countryside all over South Island today, looking for any sign of the two missing women. Sgt. William Keane, in charge of the investigation, did not provide any details on the results of today’s activity, other than a comment that the police are pursuing several leads.”

On North Island Jeanne, Anna and Karen were glued to the TV, closely following the news about the kidnapping. Jim Lassen, their owner, was working in his den, actually a home office. Jeanne wasn’t paying much attention to the news, since she’d heard it all an hour ago. The few details released so far, especially the decoy policemen, sent a shiver down her spine. She didn’t want to admit it but in her heart there was no question concerning who was behind the crime. She sat on the couch, quietly wracking her brain for any way to not tell her master. Jeanne finally admitted defeat, stood up, and headed for the hallway. Her owner had be the one to decide what to do.

Anna and Karen looked back over the couch when she headed for his den. “It’s okay,” Jeanne told them. “I need to talk to master for a moment.” Both shrugged before turning back to the TV broadcast.

As always his door was open. Did he lock the door when he wasn’t using the office? After all their years together Jeanne still didn’t know. His den was off limits to all of them. None of them would dare try the door when he wasn’t home. She liked to believe the door wasn’t locked, because he trusted all of them. In any case, Jeanne was sure the safe in his office would be closed and locked unless he was present. She had a good idea of what it contained: cash; the keys to their collars; the ownership papers and the bills of sale, with the exact amount he paid for each of them. Practically every woman on North Island secretly longed to see that magic number, their market worth. I’ll never know, though it doesn’t stop my curiosity. Jeanne stopped at the doorway and faced Jim, who was busily typing on a laptop.

She waited patiently to be noticed. He was concentrating on something important; she didn’t want to interrupt him. When he did look up with a quizzical expression, his pause was her cue to begin.

“Sir, I have an urgent matter to discuss with you. With your permission, could it be in private?”

She could see he was annoyed at the distraction, though not angry. “It can’t wait?”

“No, sir. It involves my past history, before we met. I’m sure I have important information about this kidnapping, but I don’t know what to do. Please, sir, may we keep this confidential, at least for now?”

Jim was well-aware that Jeanne was not proud about her troubles with the law. “Alright, go to your room and wait for me. I’ll be there in a few minutes. Don’t worry, we’ll figure it out.” He dismissed her with a wave of his hand.

For Jeanne it felt like a heavy weight had been lifted off her shoulders. It was his responsibility now, not hers. The den was right next to her room so it only took a few seconds to comply with his order. Wait for me, that what he specified. She risked a quick look in the mirror first.

Trust in what you believe, she reminded herself, a tiny ritual repeated every night before she went to bed. Anna and Karen thought she was a fanatic, and maybe they were right, yet their opinions really didn’t matter. His opinion, on the other hand, governed her entire world.

She glanced over her uniform. Should I change? Jeanne shook her head. There wasn’t enough time, and in any case her blouse and skirt were clean and wrinkle free. The upcoming discussion might be a matter of life and death, yet that was no excuse for her to be lazy or careless. It was no secret he singled her out at inspection time for a closer look. Regardless of what Anna and Karen thought of her, she would never compromise on the standards she set for herself. Anything less than her very best effort, day or night, was unacceptable. Her master understood how important it was to her, which is why he judged her more harshly than the others.

She hurried to her marked spot on the carpet. Facing the door she stood up straight, hands crossed in front, waiting for the man who owned not only her body but her soul. Oh Janet, what have you done? Regardless of how her master chose to act, this affair was not going to end well for her sister.

Open Your Eyes

“C’mon, Lois, work with me. Open your eyes for once and take a look around you. You’re not someone’s property; he doesn’t really own you. Think back, before you came to the Island. You were more than capable of making your own decisions without depending on some man’s permission.”

Janet kept up a constant verbal pressure, trying to wear down Luisa’s resistance. That’s what deprogramming was all about. Break down her mindset, look to get that proverbial foot in the door to pry her away from the brainwashing she’d undergone. Drilling out the lock to remove her collar began the process of separating her from reliance on Island symbols which might reinforce her programming. Janet had also resorted to the name she used when she first arrived on the Island, taken from intercepted emails.

So far it wasn’t working, but Janet had only been at it for a few hours. They’d have to stop for the night soon. Maybe in the morning she’d make more progress.

“I’m not your enemy, Lois. All I’m asking is for you to take a step back, to look at yourself objectively. The first weeks after you arrived, you were asking questions, tough questions no one wanted to answer. Why don’t you ask them again, about your own life?”

Janet stared at the woman across from her. Luisa sat passively, not speaking or reacting to anything she said. How can I get through to her? Why was Jeanne so successful yet I can’t get anywhere? Frustration was fraying her temper, a bad sign. Arguing would only make the situation worse by hardening attitudes. Better Janet call it a night so she could cool off.

“Alright, that’s enough for today. We’ll get you something to eat in a few minutes.” Janet gestured to Ralph. “Take her back to her room.”

After Luisa left Janet went into the kitchen. Peter was at the stove, fixing supper. Tonight it was ground beef and fried rice. It didn’t look very appealing but the smell made her stomach growl. Poor man’s Hamburger Helper, economical and filling, and about all they could afford now. Aside from the risk, no one delivered pizza all the way out where the safe house was located.

Not that they could afford it anyway; this action had left them virtually bankrupt. Janet planned on contacting everyone on her donor list, hoping to raise enough to keep the Group going. As it was, in two weeks they’d be desperate, to the point where they might have to call off the operation. That would be the end of everything. Social justice is never cheap, Janet reminded herself.

“Any progress?” Peter asked.

Janet shook her head. “I don’t think so. She just sits there staring at me. I can’t tell if I’m getting through.”

“Early days, you’ll be successful. All you need is a little time. Grab some plates and we’ll fix their tray. There’s green beans in that pan,” he gestured with the spatula, “and some cottage cheese on the counter.”

A little time, how right he was. Except Janet knew they didn’t have the luxury of time. No one else in the Group knew just how bad off they were, and she intended to keep it that way. All she needed were desertions in the middle of their “bet their last dollar” operation.

The Unexpected Trip

“Everything fits, sir. The decoy police uniforms, the van, the move at lunchtime, everything was in my plan. It has to be my sister who’s behind this kidnapping. I don’t understand why Janet would pick a Facility-trained woman as the target though. There’s no way she can ‘deprogram’ someone like that. And why were there were two instead of one, that wasn’t in the original plan either? It would require a larger safe house, more people to watch them around the clock, and more food they have to bring in. It risks the garbage truck operators noticing the increase in garbage cans too. Aside from all that, I’m positive Janet and what’s left of the Group is behind it.”

Jim had an uneasy feeling Jeanne was right. Being her owner there were no secrets between them. He was aware of her early history on South Island, and of the underground group she led. Three times they had seized women in the misguided assumption they were rescuing sex slaves from some horrible fate. It hadn’t worked, with disastrous results for Jeanne. The end result was she now belonged to him.

He knew what had to be done, even though it would be a burden on everyone in his little family. “I have to make some phone calls. I want you to join Anna and Karen in the living room. Let them know as soon as I finish we’ll have a family meeting. I’ll explain what we’ll do once I talk to some people. Do not discuss this matter with them.” He hesitated before continuing. “Jeanne, you realize you’re going to be questioned about your sister. Are you ready for that?”

Jeanne understood all too well she was being disloyal toward her sister. It wasn’t really a betrayal though. She couldn’t support Janet’s decision to resort to kidnapping. “You’ll be with me, sir? Will I have to speak to them on my own?”

“Yes, I’ll be with you all the way. No matter what happens, I am your master. I won’t allow anyone to talk to you unless I’m present.”

Jeanne’s relief was plain to see. “Sir, what I’m worried about is the police might think I’m still involved somehow. When they find out it was my plan, and Janet is my sister…”

Jim held up a hand to interrupt her. “Stop right there. No one could possibly believe you’re part of all this. For one thing it isn’t physically possible.” He paused for a moment, and then continued. “Put your laptop in the carrying bag, along with your phone. That’s proof you had no contact with Janet.” He pointed to her computer, sitting on the desk behind her.

“The bag’s in the closet, sir. May I?”

Jim waved a hand in approval. He never checked Karen’s electronics, rarely looked at Anna’s, but Jeanne was a special case. Once a week, Jeanne delivered her laptop and phone to him in his den. While she sat in the hallway he carefully went through her phone, looking over her text messages and call log, and then spent considerable time reading through the browser history on her computer while Jeanne watched.

He knew it wasn’t necessary. Jim trusted all three of them, especially Jeanne. The weekly review was entirely for her benefit. The inspection wasn’t needed; the amount of monitoring and blocking software on her electronics all but guaranteed she stayed within his limits. Even so, Jeanne wasn’t content until he was satisfied she hadn’t strayed. That’s why he wasn’t concerned if the police did check on her online activity.

When she finished she handed him the laptop bag. “Okay, I want you to go to the living room. Tell Karen and Anna about the meeting. I don’t know how long I’ll be, so you all can watch TV until I’m done. None of you are to leave the living room. Tell them there will be no talk about the meeting before I get there.”


“Something isn’t quite right,” Luisa whispered to Sharon. “They’re not using my real name. I get the impression this whole operation was premature. Have you noticed? They seem unsure of what to do on several occasions. I expected them to separate us, but they haven’t. That has to be poor planning.”

Janet stood behind Peter, watching the screen over his shoulder. “Why can’t we hear what they’re saying?” she asked.

“I can’t get the audio driver to work. I called Customer Support, but the guy in India wasn’t any help. He kept telling me to reboot the computer, or buy the upgraded camera. At least we have video. These webcams were cheap; now we know why.” Sitting at the table Peter used the mouse to zoom in on the two women.

Yet more problems to deal with and they all looked to her to solve them. Irritated, Janet asked, “Is there any way we can keep the two of them apart? That Sharon, she’s undermining all our progress with her moral support.”

Peter shook his head. “We only have one secure room. We’re crowded in here as it is; I can’t clear out another room for that woman. And who’s going to watch her 24 hours a day?”

Back in the room Sharon leaned in to whisper in Luisa’s ear. “Don’t let them get to you. You know what you want; they’re trying to talk you out of it. Our masters will come for us, focus on that and nothing else. He loves you, Luisa. There’s no way he won’t move heaven and earth to find you.”

Temporary Changes

“I’m needed for an important meeting on South Island. I can’t explain what’s going on right now; you’ll have to trust me when I say there’s nothing to worry about, though there may be a slight risk for us. I’m taking Jeanne with me; Anna and Karen will remain here. While I’m gone the two of you will stay in the house. I’ll try to call when I can but I don’t know my schedule yet.” Jim leaned forward in his chair, facing his three women.

The treasures of his life were lined up on the sofa. He never tired of the sight of them together, his family, the center of his universe. He didn’t miss the narrowing of Karen’s eyes either. She’s already figured it out. There were times he was in awe of how fast her mind could piece together tiny clues to reach the right conclusions.

“I want Anna to go to my room and pack three days’ worth of clothes for me. Keep it casual, Anna, nothing formal. Jeanne will go to her room and pack a bag too, for three days. When the two of you finish you will stay where you are and wait for me. Karen will remain here.”

When he and Karen were alone Jim leaned back in his chair. “I’m guessing you have a good idea about what’s going on?”

“South Island, Jeanne and the kidnapping, sir? She knows something that might help, from her past?”

He didn’t answer, which only confirmed what Karen suspected. “Here’s the deal. The police are eager to talk to Jeanne. It looks like her sister is behind it. This goes no further. Do not discuss it with anyone, even Anna. I’m counting on you to keep her from worrying. Try to keep to a normal routine while I’m gone.”

“Of course, sir, I understand.”

“One more thing while I’m away. The North Island police are going to post an officer here in the house. It’s just a precaution. Follow his instructions, but otherwise stay out of his way.”

“Yes, sir.” She hesitated before asking, “Sir? Are we in some kind of danger?”

“Truthfully, I don’t know. I don’t think so, but I’m not going to take any chances.”

A Helping Hand

“Before we begin I’d like to once again express my gratitude, Mr. Lassen, in coming forward with Jeanne. Frankly, we’re not making much progress in tracking down the missing women. I’m positive this gang is still on the Island; but wherever they’ve gone to ground, it’s proving difficult to locate them.” Sgt. Keane was reluctant to admit the investigation was stalled, though it was obvious to the media and public he wasn’t making any progress.

The door to the conference room opened. An older man entered, carrying the bag with Jeanne’s laptop and phone. “Mr. Lassen, let me introduce Rupert Townsend. He’s from the Island government in an unofficial capacity, to coordinate resources.” Bill knew Rupert was no minor official but had to keep up the pretense in public. Jim stood up to shake hands.

There was a gasp of surprise from Jeanne. When Jim turned to her he saw her eyes wide in shock, her hands clenching tight to the edge of the table. She recognized Rupert, though Jim had no idea why she had reacted so violently. “Sir…” she began.

“Hello, Jeanne, it’s been some time since we last met.” Rupert pushed the laptop bag across the table towards Jim. “We appreciate the gesture, Mr. Lassen, in bringing these along. However, I want to stress, in the strongest possible terms, that we do not believe Jeanne has any involvement in this affair. She is not being detained; the two of you can return home anytime you wish. We would appreciate any help you might offer, but please understand you are under no obligation.”

Jim wasn’t sure what was happening. He picked up the laptop bag and placed it on the floor. Jeanne had relaxed somewhat but he could tell she was nervous. There must be some past history with this mysterious Mr. Townsend.

“If I may continue,” Rupert added, “Jeanne and I have met before, several years ago. I regret at the time our encounter was of an adversarial nature. Those days are past; I bear no animosity towards her today.”

That’s when Jim put it all together. Rupert Townsend was no “unofficial” assistant. He had to be a senior official in Island Security, the shadowy agency chartered to identify and counteract threats to the Island’s existence. Jim turned to Jeanne.

“Mr. Townsend was instrumental in capturing me, sir. He sent me to the Detention Center.” Jim saw how she was holding her hands in her lap, out of sight, trying to hide the shaking. It was time for him to act.

“Jeanne, why don’t you repeat to Sgt. Keane what you told me.” Jim turned to the two men sitting across from him. “If you don’t mind, let her finish before asking any questions.”

“Yes, sir. From what I’ve heard on TV, this kidnapping follows a plan I developed years ago. The basic idea was to infiltrate one of the big companies, gain access to emails, identify a target, and then abduct her using decoy policemen. They were to use a white van, since there were so many on the Island. The woman would be taken to an isolated safe house, deprogrammed, and then we’d smuggle her off the Island on a ship. Once I recognized the similarities I went to my master. That’s it up to now.”

Sgt. Keane was the first to comment. “That fits with our working theory, except for one detail. Why did they take two women, and even more puzzling, why seize someone with Facility training?”

Jeanne shook her head. “I think something went wrong, sir. The group I was with, we’d never target a Facility woman. It would be a waste of time. They must have been after the other one.”

Before the sergeant could follow up Rupert broke in with a simple question. “Your sister?”

Jeanne turned to Jim. He saw a tear in her eye; it would be difficult for her to answer. He nodded towards Rupert, encouraging her to tell him the truth.

“Yes, sir, it has to be Janet. The two of us went over this plan in detail, over and over again, looking for any flaws. There are too many coincidences for it to be anyone else.”

Rupert had a thoughtful expression on his face, as if something in Jeanne’s scant information had given him an idea. “Sgt. Keane, could I have a word with you? I have a suggestion…”


“The police are now convinced the kidnapping was directed toward women who are Facility graduates. Sgt. Keane declined to elaborate other than announce the investigation was now concentrating on anti-Facility prejudice from certain Island hate groups. New evidence clearly indicates there is a group on South Island who are deliberately targeting women with a Facility collar. The police are urging precautions should be taken to protect all women associated with the Facility. The Coast Guard has posted armed men at the Facility location to protect the residents.”

Janet slammed her fist into the side of the couch. “No, no, no! What are they talking about? Some other outfit is hijacking our operation!”

On the screen the usual panel of talking heads began a discussion. “We’ve all known about these dissident groups here on the Island, but this is the first time they’ve committed a major crime. This marks a new phase in their quest to return to what they think of as the good ole days.”

“That’s right, Mark. There’s an unconfirmed report the police raided a business early this morning. There were printed announcements claiming credit for the kidnapping, along with demands to close down the Facility and implement North Island law here on South Island too, effectively erasing the agreement system. The police need to act swiftly to close this clandestine organization down…”

Janet hit the OFF switch. “This is ridiculous. Our voice is being lost in the media frenzy. Bring in North Island laws? That’s headed in the wrong direction.”

“What about our donor base?” Peter looked worried.

“No one’s even going to believe we are the ones responsible. The TV news has ruined everything. Are the police idiots? Leave me alone, I have to think. Tell everyone to relax and get some sleep. The cops aren’t even looking for us now.”

Rude Awakening

Sharon and Luisa were both sound asleep in the large bed when a noisy bang woke them up. There were men shouting, and from under the locked bedroom door Sharon saw a bright flash followed by another loud explosion.

“Luisa! Come on, we have to get under the bed. I think it’s a raid.” Unable to stand, Sharon rolled out of bed onto the floor, with Luisa close behind. Their captors had fastened rigid metal shackles around both women’s ankles to prevent an escape attempt at night. With their ankles bound close together neither one could stand or walk. There was no hope of getting away, even though there was no guard on their door late at night.

There were more sounds of shouting and running feet. Luisa crawled under the bed first. Sharon pulled down the edge of the bedspread to the floor to help conceal them, before she joined Luisa in hiding.

“What’s happening?” Luisa whispered.

“Those explosions are flash-bangs, sort of a large firecracker. I saw a story about them on TV. The police use them to dazzle criminals before making a forced entry into a building. I think we’re being rescued.”

The bedroom door suddenly flew open. A man wearing a helmet and protective gear ran into the room, swinging his rifle back and forth. Sharon extended an arm out from under the bed to get his attention. “Sir? Don’t shoot! I’m Sharon. Luisa is next to me. There’s no one else in the room.”

Cautiously the man knelt down and lifted up the bedspread. “Stay where you are,” he ordered.

“Command, eyes on the prize, rear basement bedroom. Area is secured, request backup.” There must have been a reply in his ear, because he immediately returned to the doorway.

Two other men entered the room. “Ray, watch the hallway. Ram Singh, take the corner, back up Ray at the door. This is what we came for, so make sure we have no unwelcome visitors.” The newcomer issuing orders knelt down on the floor.

“Ladies, it would be best if you stay where you are for a few more minutes, until we’ve secured the house and grounds. I’m Captain Webb, tactical squad, Island police. We’ll get you out of here as quickly as possible.”

He shifted his rifle to his back, using the sling. Holding a flashlight from his vest he lifted up the bedspread again. “Are either of you injured? Do you need immediate medical attention?”

“No, sir,” Sharon answered. “Our feet are bound; we can’t stand up. Otherwise we’re okay.”

Saturday Lunch

As Equals

“Looking forward to an informal reunion?” Ben was at the kitchen table, pretending not to notice the bottle of wine Elise was to bring along wasn’t kosher.

“Yes, sir. I haven’t talked to Mrs. Yates since my last day at the Facility. From what you told me Jamie hasn’t had any contact either. I was very careful not to mention her name when I talk to Jamie on the phone, sir, as you instructed.” Elise noticed he was holding the wine bottle she had picked out. “Are you sure it’s okay?” She nodded toward the bottle.

“This?” Ben held up the bottle. “Not to worry. Just don’t bring any of it back.”

“No, sir. I’ll make sure it is disposed of properly.” One round at a time over lunch, or at least that was Elise’s intention. She wasn’t driving, so counting glasses wasn’t on the agenda..

Ben took hold of her arms while he locked eyes with her. “Now listen very carefully. You will go to this lunch party, have a good time, share with your friends, and afterwards I don’t want the details of your conversation. Am I clear?”

“Yes, sir, quite clear.” Orders were orders, and Elise would never disobey her owner.

“Good. Now then,” he wrapped the wine bottle in a plastic grocery bag. “Out of sight, out of mind.”

At the first sound of the doorbell Elise all but ran to the door once Ben waved a hand in approval. When she opened it there was Mrs. Yates, but not wearing a Facility uniform today. “Please, come in. We can go as soon as I let my master know you’re here.”

Elise turned to shout towards Ben, in the kitchen. “Sir? Mrs. Yates is here. May I leave now?”

“Elise?” Mrs. Yates whispered. “This isn’t the Facility. We’re on an equal footing here. Please, call me Siobhan.”

Ben came to the door. “Hello…Siobhan, isn’t it?” He held up the bag in his hand towards ELise. “Is this everything? Have a good time at your party. I’ll carry this out to the car for you.”

“Nice to see you again, sir. The director sends his regards. He’s out on one of the search parties today.” Siobhan raised her arm to let the driver know they were ready.

“Bad business, that kidnapping. The news reported one of the women was from the Facility. Did you know her? Elise didn’t recognize her picture.”

“Yes, sir. Her name is Sharon. I pray for both of them every night.”

“Let’s hope it turns out for the best.” At the curb the driver took the bag from Ben. “Elise will be back by 4:30?” he asked. “I’m on call at the Clinic so I might not be here.”

“That’s right, Dr. Grimes.” Ben recognized Frank Owens, the driver. “She will be escorted to and from Mr. Gleason’s home. I’ll make sure she’s back here and inside before curfew.” Elise did not have her travel or debit cards, a deliberate choice Ben had made to restrict her movements, even though he was positive she’d never sneak off during the party.

Ben handed Mr. Owens the house key. “You can open the door for her if I’m not at home.”

In the Car

“So, Elise, tell me all about your Dr. Grimes. Strict, lenient, tyrant, soulmate? I don’t have many opportunities to see how it turns out after you all leave the Facility.” Siobhan had her hands carefully placed, palms down, in her lap.

Elise found herself copying Siobhan, unconsciously following Facility rules. The exception was hands on knees, one of Ben’s inviolate rules she never failed to keep. She noticed Siobhan’s nod toward her hands.

“Well, strict in some ways but overall he’s far from an evil dictator. The hands? Yeah, his idea, and one he is, umm, quite inflexible in enforcing. Why? I don’t have a clue, though someone else with the same requirement told me it has to do with a TV show. And I’m sure you noticed the outfit?” Elise had on a white, long sleeved blouse and knee length, dark blue skirt. “You remember? Cover from knees to elbows, from that day you took away my regular clothes.”

Siobhan laughed. “Oh yeah, very unusual, I recall it as if it were yesterday. You know, at the time I had no idea why the sudden change, and only for you. The Director told me what he wanted earlier that morning, but left out an explanation. I had an idea it must be something related to religious custom, and from that I was sure you were being evaluated by a prospective owner.”

“Jewish tradition,” Elise explained. “Plus I have to stick to kosher food. You have no idea what it’s like fixing a meal when you can’t mix milk and meat.”

“I’m lucky. The Director loves a traditional corned beef, cabbage and potatoes. I don’t have to worry about any of those complicated rules in the kitchen.”

“Anyway,” Elise continued, “being owned isn’t nearly as bad as I feared. Mostly it’s adjusting to Island laws. I know, I had fair warning, you saw to that. Even so, I do miss being able to just up and go anywhere when I feel the urge. Instead there’s an elaborate procedure: get permission; make sure I’m back before curfew; don’t visit restricted locations; stay in the acceptable downtown areas; text when I get there; text when I leave, and always carry that permit.” She suddenly stopped when she realized the driver, Mr. Owens, must be listening.

Siobhan noticed her sudden hesitance. “We’re on holiday; we’re allowed some leeway to complain. Mr. Owens is the soul of discretion. I’ve found he’s an expert at hearing but not listening.”

“What’s that?” Mr. Owens asked. “You’ll have to speak up. I’m having trouble following your conversation.”

Siobhan laid a hand on Elise’s arm. “Within reason, of course. Remember, we always show respect for those in authority over us.”

That was central to Facility training. Elise had heard the phrase over and over, and did her best to live up to all it meant. Not that it was easy. There were times at the Clinic when she had to bite her tongue dealing with some of the doctors, though never with Ben.

“If I may ask, how’s the Director? He was always so aloof, far above us mere mortals. I remember seeing him at his office window during meals. He would stand up there in front of the window, like Zeus looking down from Mt. Olympus. We all wondered about what kind of man he was, to tame the ferocious Mrs. Yates.”

“He works too hard; otherwise he’s doing fine. I’m glad this kidnapping got him out of the office for a while. He’s helping search the woods above the reservoir. I do worry about both those women, but you know what I mean.” With a smile Siobhan asked, “Was I really so terrifying?”

Elise laughed. “Oh, definitely. It was the prospect of facing one of your lectures that kept us all on the straight and narrow. I have to admit, secretly, we all wanted to be like you, always so perfect, never in trouble. I envied you, especially for how effortless you made it look. And you had a collar, an owner; oh how I was jealous.”

Siobhan shook her head. “Appearances can be deceiving. I’m far from perfect; the Director can vouch for that. You saw for yourself I’m not exempt from any of the Facility rules. The only difference is that, most of the time you didn’t see me kneeling before my master, begging him to forgive me. By the way, I see many similarities between your Dr. Grimes and the Director. He’s not a dictator either, though he can be, umm, insistent on what he wants from me.”

Elise nodded in agreement. “You should see what I have to wear for the nurse’s uniform at work. I’m used to it now but the first few weeks I was so self-conscious about it. I was sure people were laughing at me behind my back. That lecture on not bearing responsibility helped, by the way. I had no choice, so I convinced myself to ignore the criticism and get on with my job.”

“All those times I had to yell at you, it wasn’t me,” Siobhan added. “Like you, I have no choice. Regulations must be enforced. I like to think it’s a case of ends justifying the means.”

“I didn’t see it that way at the time. Now, with some perspective, I have to admit you are right. All of us learned from you, perhaps not so willingly, yet today I wouldn’t change anything if I were in your place.”

Siobhan actually smiled. “Thanks, Elise, hearing success stories makes all the effort worthwhile. I hope it’s worked out well for Jaime too.”

The Get Together

Saturday morning found Jamie frantically running around the house to ensure everything was ready for her guests. After arranging for lunch to be catered Dave had left to join one of the shoreline search parties. When she watched him drive away from the front room window she couldn’t help but feel proud of her master and the way he was helping to find the kidnappers. He took his civic duties seriously, every bit as much as he treated his responsibilities to take care of her.

And now she had a duty too, to do her best while hosting her friends. Their opinions did matter, especially how well their impression of her reflected on the man she loved. Added to her anxiety was the mysterious guest scheduled to arrive with Elise. Dave had warned her to expect one extra but refused to elaborate. He doesn’t want to spoil the surprise? Just what did that mean?

Greta was the first to arrive. When Jaime answered the door both Greta and her master Tom were there. Tom was holding onto her with one hand wrapped around her upper arm. “Hello, sir. I don’t believe we’ve met. I’m Jaime; I work with Greta. Would you like to come in?” Tom had on his firefighter uniform.

“Hi Jaime. I’m Tom Cooper. I believe everything has been arranged? I can’t stay. Greta, you have your instructions. I’m on standby at the station if anything comes up.” He let go of her arm, handed her a sack and headed back to the car.

“Come on in, make yourself at home,” Jaime said. When Greta held up a wine bottle Jaime pointed to the kitchen. “You can put it on the counter for now. We can open it when lunch gets here.”

They both settled into chairs in the living room. “Elise and her guest should be here any minute now. Lunch is at noon. We get the royal treatment today. Master arranged for a catered affair, so we don’t have to do any of the work.”

Greta looked around the room. “You have a nice house. We’re in an apartment for now, but we’ve been looking at houses too. Tom, umm, my master says we should be planning for the future since we’re going to be living here on the Island for quite some time.”

“My master tells me the same thing. That’s fine by me; I don’t ever want to leave the Island.”

“Have you been following the news, about the kidnapping? I still can’t believe anything like that can happen here. It’s reassuring the way the whole community, South and North Island, has joined in to track down these people. According to reports they’re targeting Facility women. Did you know the one who was taken? Are you afraid to go out alone?”

Jaime leaned forward. “No, I didn’t recognize her. She looks older than me, probably left before I started at the Facility. It is scary; master won’t permit me to leave the house unless he’s with me, just in case.”

They were interrupted by the doorbell. “That should be Elise and our unknown guest.”

The Fun Begins

When Jaime opened the front door the sight of Siobhan with Mr. Owens standing behind her was totally unexpected. After regaining her composure Jaime remembered to greet Mr. Owens first. “Hello sir, this is a surprise. It’s nice to see you again.”

“Hello Jaime, you’re looking well.” He handed over a small sack. “With the Director’s compliments. I’m told it’s full of some exotic cheeses, olives and pickles, along with sesame crackers, for an appetizer. Elise, Siobhan, I’ll pick you up about a quarter past four. Now, off you go and have fun.” He turned and headed back to the car.

“Well come on in. Stinky cheese, huh? That’ll be an adventure. Be sure to thank the Director for me, Mrs. Yates. Have a seat, directly ahead. Greta is already here. I’ll put this in the kitchen.” Jaime pointed toward the living room.

“Jaime, like I told Elise, it’s Siobhan now. Facility rules certainly don’t apply in your home.”

Elise held up a wine bottle. “Dr. Grimes sent this along. The good news, he let me pick it out so it’s not kosher. For today I get an exemption. Anyway, the label says from South Africa, hope it’s good.”

In the living room Jaime made the introductions. “Greta, her owner is Mr. Cooper, a dashingly handsome fireman. She works with me at the Clinic. You know Elise from work. Meet Mrs. Yates, Siobhan. She belongs to the Facility Director. Elise and I owe much of our training to her efforts.”

“Hi Greta, don’t let them scare you. I only bite on the job.” Siobhan pointed to Jaime and Elise. “Those two I had to chew out all the time. I’m told you’re looking for the benefit of our experiences. We all had to start from scratch, so feel free to ask questions about anything.”

“So what would you like to talk about first, Greta?” Jamie asked. “Anything in particular? By the way, you should know my master gave me permission to keep everything we talk about private. No one was more surprised than me to hear it. My master is, uhh, let’s say he keeps a close eye on everything I do. Normally he’d never permit me to withhold a conversation with someone else.”

“Same for me,” Elise added. “I ‘m sure it‘s a conspiracy among the men about this afternoon. My master gave me the same instructions, word for word according to what Jamie just said.”

Greta had been a little apprehensive about getting together with the other two women but the lunch had gone so well she was starting to relax. “I think you’re right about the collusion. Tom, that’s my master, said the same thing to me just before he dropped me off here.” She hesitated a moment before continuing. “This may sound strange, but I’m dying of curiosity. Jamie, I’ve noticed you always sit in a certain way whenever you’re not busy working. All three of you do almost the same thing. Is that something you were taught at the Facility?”

Jamie and Elise looked at each other. Elise went first. “Yes, it is. At the Facility we’re taught there’s one right way for everything, even sitting in a chair. We have to sit up straight, head high, legs together, both feet on the floor, hands crossed on your lap. Jamie is a good example. If you were caught slouching, or your hands weren’t precisely crossed, you got a reprimand the first time, usually from Siobhan, who never missed a mistake. After that you were in real trouble. My master made one change, as you noticed. I have to keep my hands on my knees, but you can see how Jamie stays with the original version. In case you’re wondering it’s a rule to sit this way, all the time. My master is adamant on that point.”

Siobhan elaborated. “The Facility philosophy is based partly on consistency, the stability of knowing in advance there is a right way to behave no matter the situation. Of course it’s not up to us to determine what that right way is, but that’s not really important. The Facility also stresses repetition, so that we develop a habit of acting without thinking about it.”

Jamie added to their answer. “When I first came home with master I sat this way out of long habit. He decided he liked it so it’s part of my framework now. The framework is his set of rules for me.”

“What happens if you forget, and your master sees it?” Greta asked.

“I make sure I don’t forget,” Elise answered. “I know, that sounds like a formula response, but my master has made it clear if I don’t deliver he will treat it as willful disobedience. That’s about as bad as it gets. I don’t even want to think what he’d do to punish me. I don’t intend to find out.”

Greta held a hand up to her face to cover her surprise, Eyes wide, she asked, “Willful, you mean like trying to run away? In class we were warned about willful disobedience. As long as I wear a collar he can send me to one of those disciplinary centers, a prison, if I go too far.”

Even Jamie was taken back by what Elise had said. “I’m sure I’d be punished too, Greta, but I hope my master wouldn’t react quite so strongly. Of course, I don’t really know, and I don’t want to find out either.”

“What’s important to remember,” Siobhan added, “is that we don’t let matters get to the point where the men have to correct us. Like Elise I have my special change too, as you can see.” She lifted her hands, where they rested at the edge of her lap.

“Do you ever worry about what might happen, if he becomes really angry because you’ve disappointed him one time too many?” Greta had a worried look. “I agree with you, Siobhan, but I’ve made so many inadvertent mistakes already. Tom’s very forgiving with me, but there must come a point when he’s going to lose his patience. I tell myself it’s only for a year so what’s the worst that can happen? You three though, with no limits, I’d be terrified if I faced a future like that.”

Siobhan was the first to answer. “I hate to say this, but you’re making a mistake. When you tell yourself you only have a year you’re setting yourself up for failure. There’s a word that sums it up, commitment. Whether you wear a collar for a year or a lifetime the moment it goes around your neck you must act like it will be there forever. That’s why it locks on, and why you never even see the key. That collar represents the commitment you promised him: to be dependent, to let him provide for you; to cooperate, to work together under his guidance; and faithfully keep your place by submitting to his authority. This is the man who owns your heart as well as your body. Never let fear come between the two of you.”

Jamie jumped in. “I know for a fact my master will punish me if I misbehave, and I know he won’t hold back either. Even so I’m not scared. I do my best to obey the rules because that’s who I am. If I fail I have to take responsibility for it and accept however he chooses to correct me. I hope he’ll appreciate my good intentions, but he’s the one who will decide if something more is required.

“Siobhan, Elise and I have a lifetime commitment to the men who own us. You don’t, not yet anyway, but how long you will belong to him is a state of mind, not days on a calendar. Chances are you’ll keep going, until the day comes when you don’t need a time limit anymore. I don’t know your master, but I’d wager he has no intention of stopping with something short term. You’ll soon learn dominant men become very possessive. They get a taste of owning a woman; they don’t want to give it up. He’ll do everything he can to hold onto you, Greta, regardless of the mistakes. You’ll do better in time. He knows it, too. A year from now you’ll look back at today and wonder why you ever thought it was so difficult.”

Up to now Siobhan had held back, primarily to see how Elise and Jaime applied their Facility training. Elise was clearly a success story. Her attachment to Dr. Grimes wasn’t forced; she obviously loved him, her career and how her life had turned out. Despite Elise’s description of the dire consequences should she fail him Siobhan suspected the good doctor would never take drastic action because Elise forgot to put her hands on her knees. This was a case of a “selfish desire”, one Siobhan was all too familiar with when it came to dominant men.

Jaime was the real surprise. By all appearances Clancy had been right. Siobhan had never seen her so animated and full of optimism. She was thriving under conditions that would normally be considered intolerable by Facility standards. Clancy got this right and I couldn’t see it. Why did I ever doubt him?


“Are you ever concerned about how we have to depend on our masters for almost everything? The way the Island laws work I’m forced to ask his permission for even something as simple as leaving the house, and you know about how we can’t even support ourselves, hold a job without his approval, buy food, or go out at night. I worry about what a burden I must be every time I have to ask for something. How do you handle that?” Greta looked at the other women for advice on what she considered to be a major problem.

Jamie and Elise exchanged glances before Elise answered. “I think I can safely answer this for Jamie as well as myself. We don’t handle it. You’re driving the wrong way on a one way street, Greta. While we may be a burden it’s one our men are eager and willing to bear.”

Siobhan decided to join in. “They sat through many a lecture on this subject,” she began, pointing to Jamie and Elise. “One of the main goals at the Facility is teaching that dependency is a virtue, not a character flaw. Those laws you mentioned? Ask yourself, why are they in place, what’s the reason the men burden us with so many restrictive laws? They exist to ensure we have no choice but to rely on our men to run our lives. Trust me, he craves those moments when you come to him in need. Those are the times when he knows how much he controls you, and that’s something a dominant man can’t live without. He might say no, but it’s been my experience almost always you get what you ask for, one way or another.”

“Every time I ask about it Tom tells me not to fret,” Greta explained. “But I’m never quite sure if he says that just for my benefit. I can’t imagine how he handles the extra pressure I must put on him.”

Jamie shook her head. “Don’t even try to think like him. We see the world in such a fundamentally different way that it can be impossible to really comprehend there is no actual difficulty, no pressure in owning us. It’s true though, what we see as stress and anxiety only feeds their thirst for influence over us. Speaking for myself, more power to them, literally, not just a figure of speech; in the end I’m the one who benefits from it”

Elise added, “And don’t fall into the guilt trap. Hand over all your problems to him and enjoy the freedom that comes with it. If you absolutely have to have some kind of angst to be happy, well then worry about how to please him.”

Greta laughed and held up her hands. “Oh no, I don’t have to be miserable to feel like I’m successful. You’re right about that guilt trap. I just can’t accept he wants me to dump it all on him. Equal partners, share the burden and all that, you know?”

Elise started before Jamie could comment. “Nothing wrong with equal, but to me it doesn’t mean split everything down the middle. I have my responsibilities, and privileges; he has the same in equal measure. They complement each other. He leads; I follow, and I’m content to leave it that way. I bring him my problems; he solves them, one way or another. Maybe I don’t have as much freedom to act as I’d like, but what I get in return makes it all worthwhile. If he thinks he gets the better part of the bargain, well, I’m not going to argue.”

“So you deliberately take all your problems to him to fix?” Greta sounded confused. “I still don’t get it. There’s no way he can handle all that pressure by himself.”

This time Jamie spoke up. “Don’t sell your master short. It doesn’t affect him the same way it would us. My master in particular, if he ever caught me holding back he’d come unglued. I see the way his face lights up when I come crying to him over what I think is some major crisis. He tells me what to do and all of a sudden the tension is gone.”


“There is one thing that bothers me, now I’ve had this collar on for a while. I sort of expected Tom to become a little more, you know, aggressive now that I belong to him. It hasn’t turned out that way. If anything he seems to be more cautious, like he’s holding back.” Greta looked down at her hands, resting in her lap. “Am I doing something wrong?”

Siobhan answered right away. “No, I doubt it’s you. We change once the collar goes on, but so do the men who own us. If anything, it’s a sign you’ve found a good one. He understands just how much power he has over you now. It could be nothing more than caution on his part.”

Elise added, “Tell me, are there times, when you’re talking, just the two of you, and he mentions in passing something he might like you to do? More a suggestion, not an outright order?” She leaned forward. “Think about it, some little cue, maybe an approving look, or he pays more attention than normal?”

Greta thought for a moment. “Hmm, there is one thing I’ve noticed. When I get ready for work in the morning, some days he looks me over, that look men give you, while I was dressing. Other times he seems a little distracted.”

Jamie and Elise both laughed. “He’s telling you what to do, what he wants, but he isn’t ready to make it an order. Sometimes you have to give him a little bit of encouragement.” Jamie explained. “Think back, those days he paid attention, what was different?”

Greta went back over the last week in her head, looking for some common factor. “On Monday, I wore that light blue dress, and on Thursday a floral print. Those days he took an interest. The other days I wore either a skirt or pants and a top. Do you think that might be it?”

Elise nodded. “I think you have it. Trust me, men notice our appearance.”

“Okay, what do I do next? I can look for the clues, but I’d be much happier if he told me rather than hinting.”

Jamie cut in. “That’s the easy part. Monday morning, before you get dressed, show him the outfit you picked out and ask for his permission to put it on. If he says yes, then he’s now in charge of your wardrobe.”

“And if he says no?”

Jamie replied, “He’s still in control, except now he’s exerting his power over you. Men, especially the dominant kind, can be unpredictable. You might have every reason to expect him to agree to something you ask for, but he’ll be stubborn and refuse, just because he can. If it happens, you learn to live with it, go back to the closet and pick out something else.”

“I do have one more question, but I’m not sure how to ask. I don’t want to intrude if it’s too personal, or if I cross into what might not be allowed.” Greta hadn’t planned on even bringing it up, but she’d learned so much during the afternoon she decided to go ahead.

“You ask, we’ll let you know if we can’t answer,” Elise replied. “We do have different rules in place, so you have a good chance one of us can come up with something.”

“You wouldn’t believe some of the questions I get,” Siobhan added. “I doubt you can shock me.”

Greta looked down, almost embarrassed to go on. “It’s, well, it’s about who we are. More than anything else I want to belong to Tom, in every way, but I can’t seem to find the words to tell him. I’m sure he wants to hear all about how I feel, what I think, how I see our relationship. But when we start to talk I seem to lose myself. I hear his voice and it does something to me. I can’t concentrate on anything but him. I thought, maybe I could write down what I want to say ahead of time, but when I sit down at the screen I can’t get started.”

“It can be difficult to put emotions into words,” Elise told her. “What is it you want him to know?”

“It’s all these thoughts spinning round in my head. If it’s okay, let me ask you. Why are you here, on the Island? What drove you to accept the Facility terms? Most of all, what’s important to you, as a submissive in your relationship with your master?”

Jamie spoke up first. “That’s one I can easily answer. To start, I came here for what turned out to be the wrong reasons. My ‘perfect in every way’ master brought me here and then abandoned me. Turns out he was far less than what I thought I saw in him.”

Greta put a hand to her mouth. “Oh…my…god. You mean he walked away, stranding you on your own?”

Jamie nodded. “He left on a business trip, sent me an email, and never came back. There I was, alone in the apartment, with a collar I couldn’t take off. I called a friend of his where he worked; told him about the letter. He can over right away and made the calls to get me some help. I fell apart, but the one conviction I never lost was my belief in the Island. This is my home. I can’t function without someone in authority over me.

“I was offered a spot at the Facility, with the understanding that would be the last decision I ever made about my future. I didn’t hesitate, even though I had to trust total strangers. Truth is, I had no confidence at all in my own judgment. That last choice turned out to be the best one I’ve ever made on my own. Even while I was at the Facility I had doubts I’d ever find happiness again.”

Siobhan listened intently to Jaime. Her words seemed to confirm Clancy’s reasons for exercising his right to ignore the staff advice. Siobhan had no clue Jamie had been so depressed about her future.

“And you don’t think they forced you into it?” Greta asked. She turned to Siobhan. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to imply anything.”

Jamie smiled and shook her head. “Not at all, despite what Donna may have told you.” She turned to Elise and Siobhan. “Donna works in our office. She doesn’t have a very high opinion of the Facility. She doesn’t say it outright, but she’s of the opinion I’m really a brainwashed zombie.”

“But what is it that made you choose the Island, to be a man’s possession? I ask because I’m trying to figure out why I have this need to belong to Tom.” Unconsciously Greta reached up to touch her collar.

“That’s easy for me to explain,” Jamie continued. “I’ve had a lot of time to think about it at the Facility. It comes down to one word, structure. When I have a tightly organized life I know exactly what to do in any situation. I have my rules, we all do. Master had a complete framework ready for me. Those are my rights and wrongs, my moral code. And not just the rules, but how they should be applied in different situations. Master has well-defined boundaries for me, but nearly all are common sense ones so they’re easy to remember. What makes the difference is the time he takes to explain the intent of his instructions, and how I can apply it to many different circumstances. It’s like a scaffold used to construct a building. When the building’s done and the scaffold gone, it can stand on its own. I can do that too, stand on my own to think about how to best apply what he teaches me, when I encounter some new situation. That’s what he calls it his framework.”

Greta shook her head. “How do you remember all those rules? So far Tom has only given me a handful. I still struggle to remember them. I don’t want to disappoint him, even though he’s been very patient with me. And then there are all the Island laws to worry about. The classes covered them, but I’m scared to death I’ll forget one while I’m out with Tom, or at work.”

Elise broke in. “The trick is to look for the patterns. Island laws are actually the easiest. Four things you have to remember: never go out alone after curfew, never handle money, address all men as sir, and most of all always, always ask yourself if you have your master’s permission for whatever you’re doing, whether out in public, at work or at home. All the other laws your master takes care of, so rely on him to enforce them.”

Jamie added, “That pretty much covers it. Master has me registered for restricted status, so I have a few more items to worry about. I have an earlier curfew, plus I have to constantly notify him where I am all through the day, usually texts on an hourly basis, when I’m alone. He does allow me out on my own, but I have a limited area in town where I can go. My phone is also on restricted access. If he doesn’t enter some kind of code every morning it won’t turn on.”

Elise’s Story

“What about you, Elise?” Greta asked. “How did you come to the Island? Do you have a lot of limitations imposed on you too?’

‘What happened to me is similar to Jamie in some ways, but quite different in others. There was a doctor at the medical center where I worked in Los Angeles. At the time I’d do anything for him, including lying when he was investigated by the Medical Board for being drunk during an operation. What I didn’t know was that he set me up to take the blame, to save his medical license. It destroyed my career and left me abandoned like Jamie. No hospital would ever hire me again. My life was in ruins. I had no family, no friends left after the scandal, and not much left in savings in the bank.”

“How did you get to the Island?” Greta asked.

“That’s the mysterious part. I still don’t quite understand what happened. The woman who handled my exit interview at the hospital gave me a business card after we had finished. I called, was told I could start over in a remote part of the world. In hindsight believing what the man told me was the height of gullibility, not to mention dangerous. No matter, I was in such a state I accepted. I was put on a ship, sent to the Island, and taken directly to the Facility. I suppose I’d be a prime example for your Donna, for all practical purposes tricked into coming here with no idea what would happen next.”

Greta’s eyes were wide with shock. “So…you had no idea you would be given to a man, a stranger? You weren’t allowed to leave the Facility?”

Both Jamie and Elise laughed. “No one is ever allowed to leave the Facility,” Elise answered. “At least, not on her own. I wasn’t too happy about it, at first. The Facility though, it grows on you. After a while I got with the program, so to speak. They had answers to questions I’d thought about for some time. Jamie and I,” she nodded toward the woman next to her, “we became friends in adversity, kind of a mutual support group. You have to understand, the Facility has one way for everything, like Jamie’s framework. They enforce that one right way policy without mercy. Our greatest fear was a confrontation with Mrs. Yates, Siobhan.”

Siobhan took up the conversation. “It’s true that attendance at the Facility is not optional once you start. No one leaves without completing the training, and no one leaves except as a man’s property. Sure, it sounds harsh, even brutal, but the policy works. It’s not a secret, as I’m sure you’re aware. Your Donna, she doesn’t see the results, only the potential for abuse. I’ll admit it’s not perfect. To be honest, one of the reasons I’m sitting here today is to see for myself if Elise and Jamie are well off with the choices made for them by the Director. For what it’s worth, both of them,” she gestured toward Elise and Jamie, “are success stories.”

“Greta, my job at the Facility is to both enforce the regulations and be a role model of sorts. If I have a terrifying reputation it comes from the emphasis on teaching all the newcomers the importance of what they learn. It’s true, there is only one right way, and the Director decides what that will be, not me. I am not exempt, by the way. The trainees see that, how I have to follow the same rules.”

“That’s true,” Elise agreed. “We had what was called collective responsibility. Anyone got out of line we all suffered for it. More than once Siobhan was punished along with the rest of us, for something neither of us did.”

Jamie nodded in agreement. “She lives for the moment you have a wrinkle in your skirt, or your hands aren’t lined up properly while sitting. She has a way of talking up the most trivial infraction into a huge catastrophe. In reality, all she could do is assign a few extra cleaning chores on her own. Any real punishment she had to call in one of the men to decide what was appropriate. We knew that, but no one ever wanted to face her sharp tongue.”

Siobhan laughed. “All true, I can’t deny it. In my own way I’m a perfectionist. I suppose that’s why the Director made me a supervisor.”

“Then one day, without any warning, I was sent to a room.” Elise went on with her story. “There was a man waiting for me, Dr. Grimes, my future master. Short story, he decided he wanted me, and here I am now.”

Greta stared at Elise, eyes wide in shock. “So…you were kidnapped, brought to the Island against your will, and then handed over to a stranger?”

Elise laughed and shook her head. “No, nothing quite so dramatic. It’s true I didn’t know exactly what would happen, but I got on that ship all on my own. At the time I most likely would have backed out if I’d known about the Facility. Today, I like to think I’m older and wiser. I have a good life, with a man I love. He really does seem to know what’s best for me, pushing me where I needed to go, back into nursing. He can be unpredictable at times,” she nodded toward her hands, resting on her knees, “but I don’t really mind.”

“Would you go back to Los Angeles, if you had the opportunity?” It was a very personal question, but curiosity got the better of Greta.

“By myself? Never. Jamie has her framework; I have my doctor and my career. I like some rules too, but they have to come from that one man who is unquestionably in charge of me. No surprise, I want that man to be a doctor. Nurses are taught never to question doctor’s orders. We may be convinced the doctor has it wrong; it makes no difference. I suppose that spilled over into my private life. However it happened, that’s what drives me to submit, to wear his collar. I have to trust him, to obey him, even if I believe he’s way off track.”

“Did you have to make a lot of changes?” Greta asked.

“Not all that many, and I doubt my orders are anywhere near the quantity Jamie has to follow. I have to sit this way, and at work I have a special uniform I absolutely have to wear. Those are hard rules, ones I must never break, no exceptions, no excuses. He’s obsessed about enforcing them.

“Along with those I have to follow Jewish religious laws, or mitzvot in Hebrew. Those are the a complex moral code, if you want to label them that way, and there are a lot of details but not nearly as many for women as men. My master is Jewish, though not always the most observant. But he tries, so I’m included. It’s complicated, but he’s teaching me all about it, and he is patient with me.”

Jamie turned to Elise. “Are you Jewish? You never mentioned it.”

Elise shook her head. “No, and master doesn’t require my conversion. He does insist I follow traditional ways though, what’s called shalom bayit, translated as harmony in the home. I’m still learning how it works. There are three duties, mitzvahs, for women: challah, niddah and hadlakat neirot. That comes out as breaking bread, or in general keeping kosher; refraining from sex during a woman’s period; and lighting candles for Shabbat, the Sabbath, which essentially means preserving tradition in the home. Right now I’m working on the kosher part when I’m cooking. Set your clock back about three thousand years for some of those food restrictions.”

“Sounds like you’re going to wind up with more rules than me,” Jamie commented.

“Yeah, but he doesn’t load me down with everything at once. I get specific instructions on a few at a time, so it isn’t that bad. There’s a sort of logic that makes it easier to remember. Understand the why, you can easily figure out the what and the how.”

Worst Intentions

“You’ll have to excuse me for just a minute,” Jamie apologized while picking up her phone. “I have to text an update. If the doorbell rings that should be our lunch. Can someone get it if I’m busy?”

“Go ahead, Jamie. I’ll get the door if the delivery shows up.” Siobhan pointed to Jamie’s phone. “Take care of your obligations first.”

Jamie might well be prescient. Halfway through her typing the doorbell rang. When she looked up Siobhan was already on the way.

“C’mon, you two can help carry it all to the kitchen.” Greta and Elise rose to follow Siobhan to the front door. The delivery driver wasn’t allowed inside the house so they’d have to carry everything inside from the door.

They were still unpacking the boxes when Jamie joined them in the kitchen. “Mediterranean lunch, this is a treat! I wasn’t sure what master had ordered. He was in one of his ‘minimal information’ modes, you know what I mean?” She went to cupboard to get some plates.

Elise held up a container. “Stuffed grape leaves, judging by the aroma. That one has some hummus, sliced pita bread, and the one over there is couscous with veggies.” She picked up another carton. “This must be lamb. It goes with the couscous. So we have Greek, Algerian, and Lebanese so far.”

“You’ll have to help me out. This is all very exotic to me.” Greta looked over the offerings, unsure as to where to start. Siobhan stood next to Greta, to help her out.

“Start with some of the couscous. It looks like rice but it’s made from wheat. That’s a sort of pilaf. It’s commonly served with a few pieces of lamb on top. Try this. Hummus is a spread, like butter or cream cheese. Put some inside a slice of pita, and then fill it up with the couscous and lamb. Think of it as an Arabic taco.”

Great laughed. “Tacos I get. Okay, I’m game. I’ve never tried any of this before.”

“Check out the grape leaves too. They may look like fat cigars but it’s what’s inside that counts. That looks like Greek dolma. The filling is usually rice and chicken.”

“Ahh, sort of a burrito, except made with leaves instead of tortillas. Don’t mind me, I grew up on Mexican fast food.” All the women began loading up their plates.

Back in the living room they used the coffee table to hold the plates. “Master sent me a text in reply, after I mentioned the lunch had arrived. He says we are not to clean up afterwards. When he gets home he expects to see a mess of dirty plates, empty wine bottles and general untidiness. We are to have fun, enjoy the food and not worry about cleaning up.” Jamie shrugged. “Orders, what can we do except see to it they are carried out.”

Elise shook her head. “I wish I was subjected to the same hardships as Jamie. It would be a terrible ordeal, but somehow I could find a way to be lazy with the cleaning…”

Greta almost choked on a bite of her pita when everyone burst out laughing. “You should warn me first before sharing moments like that while I’m eating! Anyway, are you sure we can’t help clean up Jamie? He isn’t serious, is he?”

“Oh, he’s quite serious.” Jamie turned to Siobhan. “Mrs. Yates? I believe Greta would like to see how the Facility operates in person. Elise and I have heard this far too many times. I’m sure Greta would like to participate?”

Siobhan stood up. “If you insist, Jamie. Greta, this is a subject I lecture on several times a year, every time we get a new arrival.” She turned to Elise and Jamie. “Ladies, what am I talking about?”

Both of them suddenly sat up straight, in position, staring straight ahead in classic Facility position. “The worst of good intentions, Mrs. Yates,” they replied in unison.

Greta stared, openmouthed in surprise. Somehow Siobhan had transformed into something more than the woman who was sharing lunch with them a moment ago. “Put down that plate! Straighten up girl, do you want your master to see you slouching, lazy, not paying attention? Close that mouth, we aren’t interested in your dental work. He expects more from you, make it happen.”

Greta didn’t argue. There was an aura of authority in the way she stood there, hands on hips. “I’m sorry, I…”

“Quiet! I’m not interested in excuses.” Siobhan reached down and adjusted Greta’s hands, folded in her lap. “At the Facility there is only one acceptable way. Look at Elise. Hands must be crossed at precise right angles, with the tips of your little fingers barely touching.” Siobhan tapped the back of Greta’s leg with her foot. “Straight up and down from knee to ankle.”

She took a step back, all the while checking on Greta. “Much better, you’re a fast learner.” She turned to face Elise and Jamie. “And look at you two! Some example you set. Elise, how many times do I have to remind you to tuck in those elbows? And Jamie? What’s your problem? Pull back those shoulders, right now!”

Greta had a newfound respect for Jamie and Elise. This is what they faced every single day? I wouldn’t last a week.

Siobhan shook her head. “How quickly they forget.” She backed up so everyone could see her. “Now, about good intentions, and how they lead you into a hidden trap. I’m sure you mean well, Greta, but your offer to help is misguided. Jamie is our hostess; we respect her house rules. If Mr. Gleason says no cleaning then we acknowledge his authority in this matter. Don’t ever question if he or any other master is serious. It’s not our place to judge. You owe Jamie an apology.”

Given the way Siobhan explained it Greta realized she’d committed a major social blunder, at least by Island standards. “Jamie, I’m so sorry…”

That was as far as she got. Jamie was shaking her head, trying to warn Greta to stop. “Were you given permission to speak? I’m not finished.” Siobhan stood there, slapping one hand against her hip. “Tonight, you will report this incident to your master. Do not leave out the part where you spoke out of turn. He’ll decide how to deal with it.”

She pointed at Jamie. “That goes for you, too! I saw you shaking your head. That’s inexcusable, and you know it. I will ask the Director to send Mr. Gleason an email about this. You know better, Jamie. A lapse like that, for a Facility woman, words fail me.”

When Jamie and Elise described Mrs. Yates as terrifying they weren’t exaggerating. Greta didn’t know whether to worry more about how her master would react, or the consequences Jamie faced. It never occurred to her not to tell Tom about it. What would he think? She had no idea, but she would find out soon enough.

“Now, Greta, I was about to give you an example of good intentions and how they can ruin your life if you don’t check with your master first. Let’s suppose, for example only, tomorrow morning there’s a knock on your door. You open, to find a dirty, hungry, cold Jamie begging for help.”

Both Jamie and Elsie were smiling. Apparently they’d heard this story before. Siobhan continued, “Jamie tells you, while sobbing, she’s run away from her evil, cruel master. She has nowhere to turn except you, her close friend. What do you do?”

Siobhan spun around to pint a finger at both Elsie and Jamie. “You two, wipe that smile off your face right now. Dear lord, give me strength.” She went back to Greta. “Those two tried my patience so many times I lost count.”

While it was fascinating to peek into daily life at the Facility Greta wasn’t so sure about being a participant. Underneath a semblance of normality Siobhan was friendly and someone she was grateful for meeting. But strip away that façade and Mrs. Yates emerged, a fanatical perfectionist whose obedience to her owner was unquestioned, regardless of circumstances.

“So, being a Good Samaritan, you help out your friend.” Siobhan continued on with her story. “You give her a blanket, hide her in a closet, tell her to get cleaned up and fix something to eat once you and your master go to work. You’ll call as soon as you can.”

It did sound like the right thing to do, which bothered Greta. It must be the wrong answer, though she couldn’t see the reason why.

“Then the unexpected. Someone sees Jamie standing in the front room window and reports her, after the bulletin went out on the news. The police show up, your master is brought in, and you are arrested. Aiding and abetting, serious charges, and it’s all your fault.”

Jamie shrugged, as if to say “sorry”.

“What do we call that, ladies?”

“Interference, Mrs. Yates,” both answered in chorus.

“That’s right. Greta, you interfered when you offered to help clean up. If a runaway shows up asking for assistance, your first act is to call your master. He’ll likely bring in the police. Jamie made it clear her master was serious when she announced he’d inspect the house to make sure his order was carried out. Would we all help? Sure, but only if it was allowed. The one right way, Greta, the path set by your owner.”

“Enough of the serious stuff. That’s your glimpse of the Facility, Greta. Not every day is that bad.”

“The rest are worse,” Elsie and Jamie added, once more in harmony.

The Fatal Glass

“That finishes off Greta’s bottle. We still have a jug of something from South Africa. Want to try it out?” Jamie emptied the last of the wine bottle into Greta’s glass.

“Is it the bottle I brought? Technically, kosher means you have to drink wine made with Israeli grapes, but even master is somehow lax in checking. Anyway, I’m exempt from kosher today.” Elise put down her glass and, a bit unsteady, placed her hands on her knees.

Elise kept going. “All I know is it came from grapes and it aged in the freighter crossing the Indian Ocean. How far or how long I have no idea. By the way, do either of you know exactly where we are on the map? I have no idea.”

“Me neither. All I remember is several days at sea heading south. Beyond that, not a clue. And yes, I’d love another glass. After all, I’m not driving. That’s Tom’s problem. He ordered me to have a good time, so I’m being properly obedient.” She finished off with a giggle.

All three women laughed. “My mother warned me not to drink too much, especially wine. She said it makes you lose your inhibitions. Boys know it too so they like to get you drinking on a date.” Jamie had to hold onto the chair when she got up. “Thing is, I don’t have permission from master to have inhibitions. Somewhere along the line I forgot to ask after he put this thing around my neck. Not that it matters; I’m sure he wouldn’t allow it anyway.”

“Isn’t it terrible, the news about the kidnapping?” Jaime asked. “Master said he was going to join a search party this morning.”

Greta nodded. “Yeah, it’s all over the news. Those poor women. Tom…he’s a fireman…he’s on alert in case they call in Search and Rescue. Seems like the whole Island is turning out today. I hope they catch whoever did this. Think of it, snatched off the street, in broad daylight. I’m not sure I want to be out alone until this is all over.”

“What scares me is it’s some group targeting the Facility. A least, that’s what the TV news is saying, though the police didn’t confirm it’s true. I’m terrified at the thought of leaving the house on my own.” Jaime voiced a concern shared by Elise and Siobhan.

“As far as I know there hasn’t been any formal warning sent to the Director. The Coast Guard did place two men at the Facility pier. As a precaution he’s keeping everyone on the island for now. The only reason I was allowed to come to lunch today is having Mr. Owens along.” Siobhan added, “I’m still worried; I’m not going out on my own.”

That’s when Elise’s phone began to beep.

Breaking News

The moment Elise read the message on her screen she all but yelled, “Quick! Turn on the TV. The police found those women! There’s a press conference about to start.”

Jaime grabbed the TV remote. “…repeat, both women have been found and are uninjured. Early this morning police conducted a raid on a house located in a remote section of South Island. News of the raid was withheld in order to apprehend members of the gang who showed up later in the morning. Sgt. Keane, in charge of the investigation, announced moments ago that all members of the group are in custody. Both women were found in good health and are being returned to their owners. We will be back with further details as they are announced.”

Outside Jamie’s house Mr. Owens got the same text message on his phone. After dropping off Elise and Siobhan he’d driven around the block before parking on a shaded corner where he could keep a discreet eye on the location. Now that the threat was removed he could relax his vigil. Siobhan wasn’t aware he was nearby, watching over her and the lunch party.

All the men at the Facility, from the Director on down, took their roles in these women’s lives seriously. No one had asked him to keep a watch, nor was it necessary. The Director hadn’t insisted when he handed out the driving assignment, but it was understood, given the situation, it would require a constant presence in the background.

No one wanted to spoil Siobhan’s visit either. His presence a block away was deliberately kept from her, so she wouldn’t be distracted. Mr. Owens picked up his tablet and opened it to send a message to the Director that all was well. Siobhan would never be told he was acting as her bodyguard.

The Drive Home

“That’s the whole story, sir. Siobhan, Mrs. Yates, was doing me a favor with one of her Facility lectures. I was supposed to remain quiet until she finished, but I interrupted her. She told me to report the incident to you.”

Greta and Tom were standing by her side of the car. He didn’t react immediately. Instead he opened her door and helped her in. Her hands were held close to her waist by cuffs attached to a waist chain. “You okay?” he asked the same question every time.

“Yes, sir, I’m fine.” The moment he closed her door she tested the cuffs by trying to pull them open or slip out a hand. As usual he’d done a good job to ensure she was properly restrained. Satisfied she couldn’t escape she sat up as straight as possible, head held high, her legs close together, and her hands crossed on her lap, though still held close to her body by the handcuffs.

The moment Tom sat down he noticed the difference. “This is new,” he told her. “Is it something you learned today?”

“Yes, sir,” she answered. “This is part of Facility training. Both Jamie and Elise had to follow it precisely. Siobhan also has to follow the same rule. Jamie still keeps to the original, but Elise’s master had her make one change. She has to keep her hands on her knees. And Siobhan has to keep her hands flat at her sides.”

Tom started the car and pulled out into the street. “So I see. What prompted you to copy them?”

She turned her head to face him but was careful about holding still otherwise. “While watching them this afternoon I was entranced by how motivated they were to sit this way, for hours at a time. It’s not uncomfortable but it does feel a little awkward. That could just be me, since I’m not used to it. Anyway, it got me to thinking. If you approve, sir, I’d like to do the same for you. With your help I’m sure I can get it right. It would mean a lot to me if I have your permission.”

Tom brought the car to a halt for a stop light. “No, I don’t think permission is appropriate here.” Greta looked at him in surprise. She was sure he’d agree. “What I will do is order you to sit that way from now on. I expect to see a hundred percent compliance, no excuses, and no momentary slips. I will not tolerate anything less than your very best, Greta. Fail and I will be extremely disappointed with you. Is that clear?”

Greta stared at Tom, still taken aback by his sudden change. She could tell by the tone of his voice he wasn’t joking. “Yes, sir, I understand.” That was all she could say. What had started out as a whim had turned into something far more significant, and completely out of her control. She knew he would be constantly watching her now, looking for any mistakes. And this time he was emphatic that if she did not obey him to perfection she would be disciplined, something he’d not done before now. Maybe he was becoming more aggressive after all.

“So far I’ve been going slow, taking the cautious approach.” He turned onto the street for their apartment. “That ends todays. I’m going to make some more changes. I like seeing you sit that way, especially since you portray it so well. This is for real, Greta, not a game. You will obey me to my satisfaction or I will take the necessary steps to demonstrate just how serious I am. I’m not kidding about this.”

He turned into the driveway, heading toward their parking spot. “Sir, I…” she began

“No!” He cut her off abruptly. “Sit there quietly, not a sound. You will wait for permission to speak. We’re going to work on that. Thanks to you the beast is out of his cage. This is what I want. As far as I’m concerned you belong to me permanently, and that’s how you will be treated from now on, up until the last minute of our agreement. You know the terms; there’s nothing you can do to stop me for the next year. Perhaps I can’t prevent you from not renewing, but what I will do while you are under my control is to make it as difficult as possible for you to say no when that moment arrives.”

Greta stared at her master, mesmerized by the force of his words. There was so much she wanted to say, but not a whisper escaped from her lips. This man owned her body and was well on the way to claiming her soul as well.

Day Is Done

“So, how did the afternoon go? Was it a success, or a bad idea?” Ben had just arrived home after waiting on standby for any injured from the morning’s police raid. “You don’t have to go into details. All I’m after is if you thought it was worthwhile or something you’d rather not repeat.”

“I think it went well, sir, except I drank too much wine. Greta asked lots of questions. She wanted to know all about the Facility, something I expected. You know, there really aren’t any secret brainwashing experiments going on there, despite the rumors about how it turns out mind-numbed sex slaves being auctioned off to the highest bidder.”

Ben laughed. “What? You mean you didn’t reveal the satanic ritual where you’re all sworn to eternal secrecy?”

Elise shook her head, a mistake when the wine made the couch feel like it was spinning around. “Now Ben, you know very well even joking about something like that is the stuff the conspiracy theory loonies thrive on.” She stopped out of concern she might be going too far in criticizing her master.

She gazed out the front window, watching the last rays of the sun fade away. The handcuffs forcing her to hold her hands behind her back were a hard, physical reminder of her status. For some unexplained purpose he had fitted her out in full curfew mode, chained hand and foot, even though they were in the living room. There were times she almost forgot how much she depended on him. And then there were times, in particular when they were out after curfew, when she appreciated just how much she needed him.

“You’re right. The Facility has enough problems already. I wonder exactly how many men call the Director every week, thinking all they have to do is pick out a woman from the catalog and write a check. I bet Clancy must have some kind of rejection form letter.”

Elise leaned forward so she could shift her hands to a different position. Ben noticed and asked “Are you having some trouble with the cuffs? Too tight?”

“No sir, they’re okay. Ben, tell me if I’m going into forbidden territory here, but it bothers me that I can’t sit with my hands on my knees, the way you want. I remember you telling me no further discussion, and I’m not trying to get around it. It’s just, well, sitting this way, hands behind my back? It feels like I’m disobeying you. I realize my wrists are bound for a reason, but it still feels wrong.”

Ben didn’t respond immediately. This was something he hadn’t anticipated. There must be some way to keep within the legal definition of close control while she was sitting in position. There might be one way…

“You’re right to bring this up, Elise. I think I know a way to fix it. We’ll try one of those waist chains to anchor your cuffs in front, with enough slack between cuffs and waist for you to reach your knees. For the moment you’ll have to stay as you are.”

“Of course, sir. I’m sorry if it sounded like a complaint. I didn’t mean it that way.” It was easy to agree when she didn’t have a choice. “Ben, I think it was a good idea, me being there this afternoon with Greta. Jamie is my closest friend, but she is something of a, umm, I guess the word fanatic fits more than anything else. Siobhan helped too. I’m not criticizing; I can see for myself she loves where she is now. But anyone who only heard her story, without any balance, might come away with some strange ideas about the kind of woman who graduates from the Facility.”

Ben nodded in agreement. “I get what you’re trying to say. Those two are ideal for each other, but they wouldn’t be my first choice as best role models for anyone else. I trust you made it clear there can be more to wearing a collar than blind obedience and total dependency.”

“More, sir? I didn’t know that. I’ve no idea…” Elise started laughing. That was the wine at work.

Ben interrupted her. “Okay, you know what I mean.”

“Sorry, sir, I couldn’t resist.” She could tell from the tone of his voice he knew she was joking. It was nice to know she could still make him smile. “Anyway, I did try to show her a relationship can evolve in different ways. I think she did understand there are differences between Jamie and me, even though we both came from the Facility.”

One Last Look

Dave watched while Jamie used her spoon to dig out the last bit of ice cream from her mug. “This was a wonderful idea, sir. I can’t resist a root beer float. This place really knows how to make one the proper way. Start with an ice cold glass mug, fill with root beer, and a big scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. No one’s ever improved on it in over one hundred years. It’s heaven in a glass, no other way to describe it.”

They were finishing dinner at the retro “burger and fries” 50s style diner. The booths were all chrome and red vinyl; authentic malt shop mixers lined the back wall; and oldies music playing from a classic period Wurlitzer jukebox loaded with real vinyl 45rpm records. In many ways it was like going back in time to 1958.

When Dave didn’t answer Jamie looked up to see him staring at her. Immediately she sat up straight, hands in her lap. “Sir? Is there something…”

He held up a hand to stop her. “Relax, nothing’s wrong.” He leaned forward.

“You know, sir, I wouldn’t have minded living back in the 50’s. The movies today portray women back then as miserable, oppressed, held down by their men, but I don’t believe it. Maybe it’s just me but I like having the freedom that comes with someone else taking care of me. I don’t know how you manage. I’d go crazy with worry if I had to take your place. That was something we talked about among ourselves, at the Facility, and at lunch today.”

Dave took another French fry from his plate and dipped it in ketchup. “That’ll never happen. You wear a guarantee around your neck. For the rest of your life there will be someone watching over you. I intend to be the one doing that, but if the worst should happen you will always be looked after.”

She dropped her spoon into the empty mug. Finished, she carefully crossed her hands in her lap and sat up straight. “Something like that came up this afternoon, sir. Greta asked about how being at the Facility helped Elise and myself. She’s been struggling with her new status, especially how we all manage to keep within the boundaries you set for us.”

Dave frowned. “I meant it when I told you your conversation today was to be just between the three of you. I don’t need to hear the details.”

Jamie shook her head. “Oh no, sir, I wasn’t going to bring up anything specific. When Greta asked about the Facility I told her the single most important benefit from being there was attitude. I learned the value of looking at the world in terms of what I believe, not what I was taught before I came to the Island. The one right way, that’s very important to me. Just like you, sir, the Facility has one, and only one, answer to any question. That’s how I want to see the world, the absolutes of brightest white and darkest black, and no shades of gray. Thanks to you, sir, my wish has come true.”

Dave studied Jamie across the booth table. “So how did the Facility change your attitude? Was it really a major shift in attitude, your view of the world?”

Jamie nodded. “Yes it was, though it didn’t happen all at once. At first I had a hard time with being loaded down with all those prohibitions and mandates. There were a lot of them, and they piled up fast. I cooperated but I can’t say I showed much enthusiasm. I showed a bad attitude, doing just enough to get by.”

Dave nodded. “Yeah, I get the picture. I can’t see that lasting very long.”

“No sir, it didn’t. Mrs. Yates was on my case all the time. I’m sure she singled me out for special attention. The most minor infraction, something that would earn anyone else a few words of warning, quickly escalated into a long lecture. If I was lucky I’d only be yelled at. If not, one of the men would be called in to decide if I had earned some form of punishment. So I put in the extra effort hoping to avoid Mrs. Yates wrath.”

“And something happened?”

“Oh yes sir, it did. One day Mrs. Yates called me up in front of a class. I was sure I’d gotten into trouble again. Instead she used me as an example to the rest of the group, explaining to them how diligent I was in working within Facility guidelines, and urging them to follow my lead. I have to admit, I felt rather proud of myself.”

Dave reached out and stroked her cheek. “You should be proud. Hard work deserves to be recognized.”

“It was later that night, sir, after I’d gone to bed. I hadn’t really noticed it, but in hindsight Mrs. Yates harsh, heavy-handed treatment of me had stopped. The reason was a change in attitude, on my part. All those rules weren’t so bad after all. In fact, keeping to them was easy. I actually enjoyed staying within my limits. All those restrictions became a sort of comfort zone for me.”

Dave began stirring his root beer float. Seeing Jamie’s quizzical look he explained, “I like a little more vanilla in my root beer.” He stopped stirring, lost in thought. “How was your comfort zone today, seeing Mrs. Yates again? Did she make you feel a little anxious, maybe more self-conscious with her being there?”

Jamie grimaced. “Yes, sir, I did, at first. Old habits, they’re hard to shake off. Siobhan, that’s her name, wasn’t at all like I remember. She’s older than me, and I’m sure wiser, but we aren’t so different. I’m glad Elise brought her along. Oh, it is okay if I use her first name, sir? We aren’t at the Facility, so I assumed normal rules apply?”

“No problem,” Dave assured her. “You heard the news? What do you think of those women being found?”

“The moment it was on TV, that’s all we talked about. Sir? The one from the Facility, Sharon is her name, she was friends with Siobhan when they both went through training. Mr. Clancy, the Director, he’s arranging for Siobhan to visit her tomorrow.”

Dave got the impression she was preoccupied with something. “Was there a problem today? You seem worried about, what?”

“Okay, sir, I have to report this to you. Mrs. Yates, she was demonstrating to Greta what it was like at the Facility. During her little show I was disobedient. I was supposed to sit still during a reprimand for Greta, but when she started to speak without permission I tried to warn her by shaking my head. Mrs. Yates saw it, so she told me to inform you so you can decide what should be done about my lapse.”

Dave leaned back. This wasn’t serious, but it couldn’t be ignored either. “Mrs. Yates had no explicit authority over you, so it’s not disobedience. However, it was a moment when you should have upheld traditional Facility values. I’ll deal with this when we get home.”

Evening Conversation

Jamie slipped off her shoes next to the front door closet. Normally she’d pick them up and put them away but Dave hadn’t released her yet. It had been a perfect ending for a long day, other than the small matter of how he chose to discipline her for her self-confessed failure.

It was still early in the evening but after her curfew, so she was handcuffed in front, with the cuffs attached to a waist chain threaded through the belt loops around the waist of her skirt. As usual he had fastened the shortened leg irons around her ankles, slowing her down to less than half her normal walking stride.

“Here. I’ll get your shoes,” Dave volunteered. Jamie watched while he picked them up and put them in the closet. That was out of the ordinary. Their usual routine was for him to release her as soon as they were inside. “Let’s go sit on the couch.”

As usual he would have to do all the talking, since it was a standing rule for her to remain silent the moment she got out of the car, until he gave her permission to talk again. Hopefully tonight’s session would not be one-sided.

Jamie looked forward to their intimate conversations, although she wasn’t sure what he had planned for tonight. He took hold of her arm and slowly led her into the living room. The restraints made it difficult for her, but then that was their purpose. Jaime had quickly figured out her owner liked to leave her in chains when the mood struck him. She had to admit it had a pleasurable effect on her too. He helped her sit down on the couch.

Dave sat down next to Jamie, putting one arm around her shoulders. “Before we start there’s one thing.” With his free hand he reached over and began unbuttoning her blouse, until it hung loosely from her shoulders. “If you keep still it won’t slip down and fall open. I want you to make sure that doesn’t happen.” Being sleeveless it was precariously balanced. Any movement might cause it to fall off her shoulders.

He put a hand on her cuffed wrists, “I’m not going to take these off. You have permission to speak.” With his fingers he slowly traced around the cuffs circling her wrists. “If there’s anything you want to ask me, this is a good time.”

She decided to ask the obvious question. “Sir, you asked before about how I feel when I’m restrained, under your physical control. May I explain, in more detail?”

Dave didn’t answer immediately. Of course he wanted to hear what she had to say, but he did enjoy moments like this when she had to wait for his approval. The longer he delayed answering, especially when it was something that didn’t involve discipline, the more anxious she became. It helped that he hadn’t released her from the chains either. It was a tangible and very real remainder of how little freedom she had, something that could not be ignored.

Shifting his arm behind her on the couch he reached up to touch the collar encircling her throat. “It’s obvious to me you like wearing chains and cuffs. This collar,” he ran his fingertips around the back, between her neck and where the ends met, “doesn’t seem to bother you at all. Oh yes, I’ve seen the way you show it off, lifting up your chin so people take notice it’s there. I would like to know what you think, so go ahead and tell me.”

“It started that first day, sir, during the interview. The moment you took out those handcuffs I was scared, but also excited. Once you put them on me the fear went away. I was your captive, but it didn’t terrify me. Whatever happens next, I told myself, is completely beyond my ability to resist, so I didn’t have to worry about it. I was confident you wouldn’t hurt me, as long as I didn’t give you a reason to punish me. I knew I had to behave as you expected, obviously, but that was the end of any responsibility on my part. I could relax, because as long as I did exactly what you wanted, with a positive attitude, I couldn’t make a mistake.”

Dave thought about her comment. “What about that ‘behave’? Didn’t that give you pause? You knew nothing about me, so how could you figure out what I wanted?” It seemed to him she was glossing over what he thought was an important point.

Jamie started to shake her head no, but stopped when she remembered her blouse. “Not at all, sir. I have the Facility to thank for that. They did a good job teaching me the correct way to conduct myself. You told me you knew all about my training. I admit it was an educated guess but since you knew the details of the Facility program you must generally approve of the principles behind the courses or you would have said something. From then on I knew I could fall back on what I’d been taught. If I did something in particular that you didn’t like you’d stop and explain to me what to change.”

She nodded toward her hands. “More than that, even today I have to say all this just comes naturally, or maybe out of habit. When you lock these chains on my body I can feel you controlling me, forcing me, not asking but demanding. And I’m so helpless, unable to offer any resistance if, no when you make me do whatever you want. That’s what I crave, sir, for you to take, not timidly ask. Most of all I want you to order me, use your strength to overpower me, use the cuffs to restrain me. Even though I don’t know what you’re going to do with me, or to me, I still trust you.

“Your framework helps too, sir; it’s so much a part of my daily life now that I don’t even consciously think about it. I can figure out what you expect of me in most any situation. I follow your instructions as best I can, not just because I want to, but also because I know you will be there watching to make sure I do it your satisfaction. I know it may sound odd, but I need that, you checking on me. I have to get it right, sir, and if I don’t I can rely on you to correct me, swiftly and severely if necessary. If you don’t then everything I do, well, it becomes pointless, no value to me or you. Does that make sense?”

He ran a finger over her bound wrists. “Yes it does. Don’t you ever wonder why I require you to do certain things? Like your hands,” he reached up and pulled her blouse together, “or this? You seem to accept whatever I ask of you, without question.”

“I’m always thinking about those things, sir. Of course I do as you ask,” she lifted her chin. “I wear your collar; I’m your property. It’s not really a question of ‘ask’ either. I know you’re telling me, not really requesting. When you lead by exercising your power it’s like I become obsessed; all that matters is getting it done. And not just going through the motions. It has to be flawless, nothing out of place, completed to your standards, with no excuses.

“Yes, I’d like to know your reasons, but it’s not my place to question. You will explain to me if I need to know; I remember that from our first day. If I don’t need to know why, then I assume it’s for the best. In the meantime I admit I do speculate about your motives, constantly. The better I understand you, the better I can serve you.”

Dave leaned in and whispered in her ear. “I’ll tell you a secret. Those motives behind holding back explanations from you? It’s pure selfishness. I like to keep you a little off balance, guessing rather than knowing.”

She could feel his fingers tracing a line where the handcuffs circled her wrists. His revelation came as no surprise to Jamie. Right from the first day she had been sure he enjoyed that extra measure of control over her through her own uncertainty.

“Then don’t stop, sir. You certainly deserve some rewards considering all the work needed to take care of me.”

“One last little detail we have to finish off. You know very well the obligations that go with a Facility collar. They aren’t optional. I’m disappointed you would ignore your training, even if it was a lighthearted moment. I think a reminder is needed. You will sit in the approved Facility style and remain in position until I come back for you. No talking, look straight ahead, no deviation.”

Dave got up and left the room, turning off the lights on his way out. I deserve this, and more. That was her first thought while staring into the darkness. It was ironic, Mrs. Yates lecture was on the dangers of good intentions, and Jamie had fallen into the same trap.

Master is being lenient with me. Maybe he doesn’t want to spoil the day. In retrospect Jamie was actually disappointed her punishment wasn’t worse. Double standards, more is demanded of me because of my Facility collar.


Back to Normal

“It’s good to get back to normal routine, sir. I had a terrible time trying to get some sleep.” Sharon jerked on the strap holding her left wrist. “Sir? That one seems to be loose. Can you check it?”

George pulled the strap tight, the way she liked. Despite his concerns about delayed shock or some other reaction from the ordeal of her kidnapping, Sharon had won him over with her pleas to return to normalcy, or at least her version of it.

“Every night I prayed I’d be here, sir, with you.” She began her well-practiced twisting and turning in the straps. George knew she had no desire to escape; her make-believe struggle was entirely for his benefit. The moment he laid a hand on her thigh all her struggles ceased.

After all she’s been through, our first night together again and she’s back to seducing me. He ran his fingertips up and down the soft skin of her leg. She closed her eyes and took in a deep breath.

“There’s an old adage, about how you don’t appreciate what you have until you lose it. When I discovered you were missing it was like the world suddenly came to a stop. Hour by hour, waiting at the police station for some word, I was going crazy. Then that police sergeant announced you were the target of some hate group. I was so angry it was all I could do to control myself.”

“It wasn’t me, sir. For some reason they were trying to deprogram Luisa. They left me alone. Did you notice they cut off her collar? That was cruel. The whole thing about targeting the Facility? I think it was manufactured by the police as some sort of trick.”

“That’s what the detective told me later. I can understand why the cops did it, but I worry it might have a long term detrimental side effect. It puts a spotlight on the legitimate groups that oppose the Facility.”

“Those people have been around for a long time, sir. The Director knows how to handle their criticism. In any case, I don’t have to worry about it. That’s your job, right?”

George smiled and nodded. “Yes it is.” He dug into the night stand and withdrew her gag. “It’s also my job to determine when the subject of conversation changes. Open wide.”

Sharon lifted up her head while he fastened the straps around her head. She hated that gag, but still looked forward to what was coming when he used it. When George finished he turned out the lights. In the darkness she felt the feathery touch of his fingertips, lightly tracing patterns across her bare skin.

When he suddenly stopped she tried to beg for him to continue. That was his way of testing the gag. As usual it was all too effective. All she heard were muffled, garbled noises. Soon enough those sounds would grow into uninhibited screams of passion.

Two Sisters

Janet sat on the wooden bench, staring at the bars confining her. How had the police found them? She went over all the details in her head but couldn’t spot where they’d made a mistake. Frustrated, she leaned her head back against the wall. There was always a chance this day would come. She knew the risks when she embarked on her crusade. Others would rise up to take the torch of righteous outrage and carry on the crusade against patriarchal oppression. For Janet, she would have to be content with becoming a martyr.

Moments before the police had burst through the door Peter had grabbed her, thrown her to the ground and snapped his collar around her neck. “Trust me,” he had whispered in her ear. Then the police were on them forcing a halt to any further talk. Janet had been furious at what Peter had done. She still wore that hated metal band, thanks to Peter.

Once she calmed down she figured out why he had acted so quickly. Quick thinking on Peter’s part, though it will make his situation worse. Thanks to Island law, the law she wanted to destroy, there was no legal liability attached to her actions. Peter broke the law, but she was only following his orders. Her collar might well prove to be the proverbial “get out of jail free” card.

The door to the cell block swung open. When Janet stood up to see who it was she was puzzled by the sight of a woman being escorted in by a guard. Her first thought was another prisoner had arrived, until the guard stopped in front of her. There was something familiar about the woman on the other side of the bars…

“Hello, Janet, it’s been a while.”

It couldn’t be, but it was. Janet approached the woman until only the bars separated them.

“Jeanne? What are you doing here? Last I heard you were on North Island, how did you get across the Channel? Did they arrest you too? You weren’t involved.”

“Stay behind the blue line, or you’ll be chained to the wall,” the guard warned. Janet glanced down at the floor, for the first time noticing the wide blue stripe running inside the bars. She backed up. There was no point in antagonizing her jailers.

“No, I’m only here to see you.” Jeanne touched her collar. “I live on North Island, with my master. He gave me permission to see you. Despite all that’s happened, we’re still sisters; I do care about you. I’m sorry for what’s in your future, Janet. You should have left the Island when you had the chance.”

Janet turned around and went back to the bench. She sat down, folded her arms and leaned back, staring at her sister. “Sold out, did you? At your master’s beck and call? I’m the one who’s sorry for you. Don’t worry about me.” She lifted up her chin. “I was just following my owner’s orders. I’m not responsible.” Janet started laughing. “That’s the law, isn’t it? What am I guilty of, being obedient? Since when was that a crime here on the Island? You’re the expert, dear sister, you tell me why I’m still in here.”

Jeanne shook her head. “Oh Janet, it’s not going to work. Master told me Mr. Lapin is cooperating with the police. This was all your idea, wasn’t it? No one’s going to believe you.”

Janet pointedly stared at the guard listening to their conversation. “I have no idea what you’re talking about. I’m a good girl; I listen to my master and follow his instructions. It’s not my place to pass judgment on whether my actions are right or wrong; that’s for my owner to determine.”

She leaned forward again, for emphasis. “You can’t even say Peter’s first name, can you? Show proper respect for all men, always use last names, keep it formal. You never were one for halfway measures, Jeanne. I bet you’re a good little sex slave for your owner. You’re well-trained, dedicated, loyal, a fanatic about your rules?”

Jeanne placed a hand on her collar. “That’s the difference between us, Janet. You try to hide behind your collar.” She pulled back her hair and held her chin up. “I’m proud to show the world I’m owned. All those things you accuse me of? All true, he’s a good man and it’s the least I can do for him. You’re not going to bait me into losing my temper.”

Janet again looked at the guard standing behind Jeanne. “Good for you, sister. I’m just as dedicated to my Peter. I’d do anything for him.”

“Give it up, Janet. No one is fooled by your charade. You have Mr. Lapin wrapped around your finger. You planned it, you carried it through, and the police know it. There’s no way he accomplished all this on his own. Didn’t you consider I’d recognize my own plan?”

Janet began laughing. “I see you know about my little puppy dog. Yeah, he’ll never amount to much. How he ever managed to wash ashore on the Island I’ll never understand. You’ve heard the old cliché, the ‘useful idiot’? That describes dear Peter. In the end it doesn’t matter. Island law is clear; he’s responsible for everything I’ve done.”

The Useful Idiot

That was the moment Peter walked through the open doorway to the cell block. He passed by Jeanne, being led out by the guard.

“Peter! Uhh..sir?” Janet had not expected to see him anytime soon. “Are they treating you well? Do you have instructions for me, sir?”

Peter didn’t reply. He stood in front of the bars, silently staring at Janet. She began to worry; this wasn’t like the Peter she knew.

“I have to give you credit for some brilliant foresight, in case you were caught by the police. You’re right, by the way. They’re charging me with kidnapping and false imprisonment. You can relax; I didn’t give them permission to question you. You can’t be compelled to testify either, thanks to that collar. Nothing you say can be used against you. Congratulations, you’ll get away with this without any consequences.”

Yes! It worked! Peter had come through for her one last time. She was going to walk. It meant she’d have to flee the Island now they were on to her, but that was a small price to pay. Poor Peter, he’s left holding the bag. She did feel sorry for him, but sometimes collateral damage was unavoidable. What mattered was the Cause, to free the Island’s women from tyranny.

“Is there anything I can do for you, sir, once I’m released? Anyone I should contact?”

Again Peter didn’t answer immediately. This didn’t feel right to Janet. For once she couldn’t read the man on the other side of the bars. I’m sure I covered all the contingencies, what did I miss? Her puppy dog had disappeared; the Peter standing before her now was a different man.

“You can drop the pretense, Janet. No one is listening in. Anything you say is inadmissible in court. I don’t know what’s going to happen to me. I’m sure I won’t see the outside of a prison cell for quite a few years, thanks to you. Y’know, I never did believe in your great cause. I did believe in you. I loved you, Janet. If the only way to be near you was to support your crusade, so be it. I went in eyes open; I’ll pay the price for my stupidity.”

She didn’t miss the past tense. Their relationship was dead. Not that she really cared; he’d served his purpose. She’d move on, find others to rebuild the movement.

“Look, Peter, we all knew the risks. I’d help you out if there was a way, but I don’t see how. Anyway, as soon as they let me go I’m heading back to the States. Maybe I can accomplish something from there.”

It was Peter’s turn to start laughing. “You’re so clever, Janet. You thought of everything, didn’t you? Did you forget about our agreement?”

No, she hadn’t forgotten. Once he was convicted and sentenced he couldn’t function as her owner, to provide and care for her. The agreement, since it was time limited, would be annulled. Janet counted on that clause to regain her freedom.

“I know what’s in the agreement, word for word. You’ll be sentenced to prison. The agreement will be cancelled. This collar will be gone; I can do as I please.”

Peter continued laughing. “Oh, Janet. Correct in every detail, except for one tiny little loophole. See, I haven’t been convicted yet, which means you still belong to me. That’s why you have that collar on.”

Janet had an uneasy feeling she’s missed some critical aspect in all her contingency planning. He was technically correct, though it wasn’t clear to her why it was important. Worst case, she’d have to sit in jail until his trial was over. Until then she’d have to wear that damned collar.

“I signed a complaint against you this morning, Janet. The charge is willful disobedience. All that’s needed is a deposition from me regarding the events leading to the charge. I can make up anything I want. Remember, you don’t have legal standing? You can’t challenge my statement. The judge and I will decide on your punishment after he declares you guilty. No trial, no jury, all it takes is your little puppy’s testimony. Care to speculate on what will become of you?”

She stared at Peter, her mouth open in shock. She assumed Peter would never betray her, in what now turned out to be a fatal flaw in her plan. She did the math: they were two years into a five year agreement. The judge could sentence her to twice the agreement span, or ten years at the Women’s Disciplinary Center. She wouldn’t be informed of the length of the sentence, but she had no doubts the judge would impose the maximum. Justice might be denied for the kidnapping; the system had other ways to exact penalties. Ten years of my life, wasted. Janet sank back against the wall.

Peter grabbed the bars with his hands. “It doesn’t end there, Janet. After your conviction, I’m not going to disown you, before my trial starts. Any idea what that means?”

Disown me, what was that? Janet tried to remember the laws governing agreements. If he kept her then she’d leave the Disciplinary Center with three more years on their agreement. The catch, he wouldn’t be around to care for her. There’d be nothing to prevent her boarding the first boat off the Island.

“Yeah, I can guess why you’re puzzled. Did you know the Disciplinary Center is on North Island? I won’t be there to claim you when your time is over. Our agreement will be cancelled, as you expected. You’ll walk out the door without a legal owner. However, you’ll be on North Island when that happens. I bet you didn’t plan on that.”

Janet’s eyes went wide when she realized what he was saying. There were no legal circumstances that granted a woman her freedom on North Island. Without a legal owner she was in the worst possible situation.

“You will go to the Public Administrator and from there to a brokerage. Just like your sister Jeanne. You’ll be auctioned off to a man you don’t even know. That collar you’re wearing? It’s going to be your constant companion for the rest of your life. I hope you memorized your registration number. You don’t even have a name from now on.”

A Family Once More

“What I’m about to tell you goes no further than this room.” Jim had sent Jeanne to her room, leaving Karen and Anna on the sofa facing him. “Jeanne had some knowledge about the kidnapping on South Island. She immediately told me about it, and I acted as I thought best. I’m not going into details because this was a very difficult, emotional moment for her. You’re both curious, that’s only natural, but in this case I’m asking you to keep it to yourself. If Jeanne choses to talk about it then don’t press for details. Otherwise you will not ask, nor will the two of you discuss it between yourselves.”

From Anna’s expression it was plain to see his announcement was unexpected. Karen’s lack of reaction also confirmed his suspicion that she’d made the right guess as to what had happened. “You all know I do my best to be fair with the three of you. This is one of those special occasions where the needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many. Jeanne is going to receive special treatment the next few days, for the best of reasons. I don’t want you two to feel slighted by this. We’re a family; there are times we have to pull together and make some sacrifices. I’m explaining this in advance, so you’ll understand. It is temporary; we’ll get back to normal soon. Until then I’m asking for your patience and compassion. Jeanne is hurting; we have to support her.”

The arrest and subsequent fate of her sister Janet had hit Jeanne hard. It would be several years, if ever, before the two of them could meet again. Now it was up to Jim to get her back on track, focused on her part in his family, not dwelling on what had happened. He had a plan, and now he was acting on it.

When he went to her room and opened the door she was in her spot, waiting for him, precisely as he had ordered. There were no tracks from tears on her face, but overall she had a tired, haggard look from the trip to South Island. He held out his hand. Jeanne hesitated before reaching out to slip her hand in his.

Back in the living room he steered Jeanne toward the couch. Once she was seated he took a step back to look over the three of them. In a flash they all sat up straight, hands carefully folded in their laps. Good, a bit of formality always helps, he thought.

“I have to go into the office tomorrow. Jeanne will be in charge of housekeeping. I’ve been gone for a few days, so I want to find the house tidy and in good order when I come home. I want baked chicken and scallop potatoes for supper.” He had to pause in order to remember who was in charge of the groceries. “Karen, do we have everything for the dinner?”

“Yes, sir,” Karen answered quickly. “Do you want a vegetable too?”

“I’ll leave that up to all of you to decide what else to fix. We will eat at 5:30. This is a celebration to commemorate life returning to normal. Use the nice plates and glasses. Dress code will be day uniforms for everyone.”

Fixed assignments, clear instructions, a hard deadline, they’d be kept busy all day. It was the environment tailor made for Jeanne. She’d be obsessed with making sure every little detail was perfect.

Jim was never overly concerned with how clean they kept the house. And while he did like chicken and potatoes it wasn’t a particulate favorite. None of that mattered to the three women though. He’d made his wishes known in a simple, unambiguous way. It was up to them to deliver.

At The Facility

Clancy stood in front of the office window, gazing down at the women below, busy eating lunch. Siobhan was at his side, held close with his arm around her waist. Every so often he caught a glimpse of one of the trainees below when someone glanced up at him, plainly visible, watching over them.

“Sir? What about the threat to the Facility? Are the police continuing to investigate? Even though the gang was caught I still feel uneasy leaving our island.”

Clancy shook his head. “Don’t be concerned. What I’m about to tell you goes no further than this office. There was no conspiracy against the Facility. The real target was that other woman, Luisa. The gang planned to deprogram her and then stage a major exposure of the Island, using her as the star witness. Island Security came up with the Facility angle, in part to discredit their attempt. I knew about it and went along.”

Siobhan looked up at him. “Why keep it secret now that the affair is over?”

“There’ll be an announcement in a few days about an investigation, and the result will be there’s no longer a credible threat. The decision was made to keep to the misdirection, to discourage copycats from trying that kidnap/deprogram scheme again. Even those who don’t care for the Facility rallied to our defense. I’d say overall we came out the better for it.”

Siobhan frowned but accepted her master’s explanation. Matters like that, protecting her and all the others living at the Facility, was his job, one he took seriously. “I talked to Sharon on the phone, sir. She’s fine, a little shaken but holding up. Sir, she’s sure she wasn’t the target. She must know the announcement was a trick.”

“I spoke to her owner. He’ll handle the matter. You will not discuss this with Sharon, or anyone else, in the future.”

“Of course, sir.” That order she expected. Yet one more secret taken to the grave, she thought.

“Sir? About coming home drunk, I’m so sorry. You told me to have a good time. I think I took it too literally. It was unforgivable. I’m ready whenever you wish to punish me.”

Clancy saw the contrite expression in her reflection. “Don’t forget where you are. You have a responsibility to all those women down there. Where’s the stern, inflexible attitude they expect? We’re standing here for a reason, so don’t slack off.”

Startled, Siobhan immediately switched to her role model persona. He’s right again. Why do I ever doubt him? More than one of the women eating down below suddenly looked away when they spotted her scrutinizing them.

“Don’t be concerned about the wine. I’m certainly not going to punish you for following orders. The lunch party was a success; you got to satisfy your curiosity and enjoy a break at the same time. Don’t worry about your reputation either. I made sure no one saw you when you got back.”

That was yet one more crisis she didn’t have to think about. Trying to be the intimidating Mrs. Yates when she was followed everywhere by snickers of laughter would destroy her effectiveness. Nor did she have to suffer Clancy’s discipline for disobedience.

He hit the button to close the observation window blinds. “Okay, back to business as usual. Sit down and we’ll go over the trainee roster for the end of month review. Anyone in particular merits my attention?”

Sufficient Time

Luisa took her place by the front door. She looked forward to getting back to work after her ordeal. Kurt was still gathering some papers into his laptop bag.

She wore a shiny new collar to replace the one that had been cut off. Finally she could go out in public again and not feel ashamed of her bare neck. Kurt seemed to understand, since he had let her stay home until it was ready. The police still kept her old one in their evidence room. It was damaged beyond repair; the people holding her had proudly displayed it, assuming she’d be relieved to be rid of it.

When Kurt came to the door Luisa was ready to begin the morning routine. She had her purse ready for inspection. He also had a new cell phone for her, after the gang smashed her old one. She opened her purse so he could inspect the contents.

He nodded in approval and reached into his jacket for her phone. It was the same model so she shouldn’t have a learning curve in using it. He was about to drop it into her purse when he suddenly put it back in his jacket pocket.

“Your appearance is not acceptable. Change into another work dress immediately.” He pointed towards the bedroom.

Luisa was caught off guard by the sudden deviation in a familiar routine. Kurt never waited until they were at the door to suddenly express his disapproval. “Sir? I’m worried we might be late to arrive at the office if I change now.”

His frown told her that argument wasn’t a good idea. “When you are with me you are never late to work.” His scowl deepened into something worse. “Are you contradicting me?”

That was enough to end any further discussion. “I’ll change as fast as I can, sir.” Luisa headed for the bedroom.


She stopped immediately and looked over her shoulder. “You will not hurry. There will be no ‘fast as you can’. You will be thorough and use as much time as necessary to complete your task without any compromises. How many times have we gone over this point? If you don’t make the effort to get it right the first time, where will the time come from to do it over?”

Luisa didn’t trust herself to answer. This was the Kurt who had won her heart. He was infuriating, mostly because he was always right. Half of Luisa wanted to wrap her hands around his neck and shake some sense into his thick head. The other half wanted to wrap her legs around him and beg to be taken right there on the hallway floor. “Yes, sir. I will do my best.” With her head turned away she smiled. Kurt and his double standards; we’re definitely back to business as usual.


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