Reversal:Curio Vignettes 03(10)

By: Cara McKenna

“Just enjoy.” Just suffer, her tone tells me, a happy hint of cruelty glimmering.

I obey. I watch her extraordinary face, lips parted with mischief or lust, and it’s laughable that I ever worried I wouldn’t rouse for her—with just us, just Didier and Caroly. I doubt I’ve ever felt so deeply, utterly naked. Stripped of clothes and control and the safety of roles.

She moves to my side, propping herself on her hip and one hand, the other free to explore my body. The position presses her breasts together, the softest, palest flesh I’ve ever known, clad in lustrous satin. I reach for her, wanting to feel the weight of her, the warmth.

She makes an admonishing noise and plucks my hand away. “You’re not allowed to do a thing.”

But I violate this rule without thinking, not even a minute later. She catches my fingers as they brush her skin. “The maestro’s very bad at sitting back while someone else conducts.”

“My hands won’t listen to me. Or to your rules. Tie them down if you don’t wish them to wander.” I say it with a smile, body flushing at the notion. Perhaps I’m not so terrible at passivity as I’d imagined.

Caroly calls my bluff. She leaves me to go to the chest at the foot of the bed. I admire the curve of her hip outlined gold in the candlelight, the trail of her spine, all the shadows of her. She straightens with silk scarves in her hands.

“Those will never hold me,” I say, a touch cocky. “Keep digging.”

With a curious look she turns back to the chest to rummage, eventually finding what I hinted at. Two thick, tan leather cuffs connected by a foot-long strap. The buckles jingle as she holds them up. “These?”

“Yes. Those may stand a chance at keeping my hands out of trouble.”

She returns to bed, scanning for something she might secure me to. The posts rooted in the headboard are too high, and too awkward, being at the corners of the mattress. She doesn’t know all the secrets of this room yet, I think, smiling at the notion.

“There’s a spot at the foot of the bed,” I tell her. A decorative scalloped cutout in the footboard big enough to slip a fist through, which I fitted with a metal post for just these wicked purposes. Caroly finds it and, since she’s driving tonight, I let her fumble with the logistics and discover the best way to squeeze one cuff through the gap, around the post and back. If she’s nervous, it doesn’t show on her face when she turns to me. I think back to the woman I first welcomed into this flat a few short months ago. A startling transformation indeed.

“Come here,” she tells me.

I lie as she directs and rest my wrists above my head. The leather feels stiff and smooth, buckles cold, the bed foreign with me lying backward and without a pillow.

“Tighter,” I say as she threads the first cuff. “One more notch.” If I’m to feel helpless, we’ll do it properly. No chance I can slip free. This may be just the sort of therapy I can get behind.

When the task is done, she smiles and tells me, “That’s the last order you get to issue tonight.”

“This is less a seduction than a hostage taking.”

“This is whatever I feel like,” she says, smug and playful.

I tug at my restraints. In an emergency my hands could unbuckle one another, though it would take some effort.

Caroly leaves me for the chest again. What else does she want, I wonder?

It all feels very…different. I’ve had the odd client ask to tie me down, but none I’ve let do it quite so snugly. And those few times I knew if I was to fight or tremble or beg. I knew what I was expected to be. But I know Caroly wants only me, and unadulterated Didier hasn’t ever been restrained quite this way.

Without a part to play, my hands are antsy as ever.

They want a job. They need a watch to fix, a lock to pick, a meal to prepare, a woman to excite. They’ve always been that way. As a child I was a nail biter and a skin picker, whapped soundly by my mother whenever caught. Like me, her beauty had been her currency and she proclaimed my anxious habits tantamount to self-mutilation. Desperate, she had my grandmother teach me how to knit. I took to it so obsessively it’s a wonder I didn’t develop arthritis at age eight. I made great long useless rectangles, only to unravel them when I ran out of yarn and start again. My mother said she always knew where I was in our flat from “that incessant clicking”. But I never again bit my nails or savaged my skin.

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