tagNovels and NovellasIn The Dog House Ch. 02

In The Dog House Ch. 02

bynicecthulhu©

Jolee awoke with a start. The answer was the moon! Well it was about every twenty-eight days, she thought. Could Roger have meant approximately once every twenty-eight days? But if they did, what did the moon have to do with me locking myself in my room for safety?

She sat up in the dark room. The moon had now risen higher into the night sky, and her room was all shadows cast from the little light that still shone in through the window. There was a noise at her door, like someone or something was scratching at it, and then that someone ran off down the hall. She could hear the thumping of heavy footsteps along the carpet and then diminishing thumps as whoever it was took the stairs in leaps.

Jolee stared at the door as her heart pounded in her chest. Without thinking she had pulled the sheets up to her chin when she had heard the eerie noise. She listened carefully and heard no further sounds outside her door or in the hall.

Jolee pushed her hair behind her ears, pulled away the covers, swung her legs off the bed and stretched her toes to the floor. There was still no noise in the hall. She pushed herself from the bed and crept to the door, ready to leap back into the reassuring comfort of her bed at the first ominous noise. However, she heard nothing but her own pounding heart. She stood before the door, unsure of what to do next.

Roger had said it was dangerous, but how could anything here really be dangerous? And if it was so dangerous, then why have the women here at all? And Roger did say I could leave any time I wanted to, she thought.

Jolee placed her open palm on the door, then brought her ear to the door and listened. She heard nothing in the hall. Her heart pounded away and she felt a little light-headed, but she also felt giddy with excitement. She slowly pushed the deadbolt back, trying to make as little noise as possible. Once the door was unlocked she opened it a crack and peeked out. The hallway was very dark, but her eyes adjusted soon enough and she saw there was no one there.

Jolee sighed in confusion. Could it have been a burglar? No, this placed seemed like it was too secure for a simple burglar and a sophisticated burglar would likely have known that there was nothing of value in the women's quarters. She wondered if this could be a test for new women in the club? Perhaps scare them a little and see if they show bravery? She didn't want Roger to think she was afraid of shadows, ghosts and goblins.

She opened the door and stuck her head into the hall, looking both ways. There was definitely no one there now. She stepped out and closed the door quietly. Then she crept down the hallway, stopping to glance into the kitchen and entertainment room. Again she saw no one.

Believing a little more strongly that perhaps Roger was testing her bravery, she walked a little less stealthily to the top of the stairs and then stopped and listened. She heard a distant howl and goosebumps rose on her naked flesh. Then she remembered that Roger had told her they bred dogs here. And then she remembered again that the moon has a cycle of about twenty-eight days. Were they trying to make her think there were werewolves loose in the building? That was just crazy.

Jolee crept down the stairs, placing her feet with great care at each step and listening for any noise on the two floors below. The second floor was pitch black and silent. She heard a noise on the floor below that and continued down.

Then there was a noise above her that made her blood freeze. She stood completely still and tried to keep her bladder from emptying. She heard the noise again and this time it was a little louder and almost sounded like a word. Jolee forced herself to breathe and began backing up the stairs, one careful step at a time.

As she reached the landing for the second floor she heard the noise again and saw a woman's dark form waving at her to return to the third floor. Jolee turned and started to run up the stairs when she heard the sound of growling on the first floor, near the stairs. She stopped again and looked up helplessly at the woman.

The woman was motioning Jolee to stay where she was for a few seconds and then, after a terrible, suspenseful wait, during which she kept glancing back down the stairs, the woman motioned for her to slowly make her way back up to the third floor. Jolee did as she was bid, cursing herself for not taking Roger's warnings seriously.

When she reached the third floor, the woman put her hand across Jolee's mouth and waved her finger in Jolee's face. A growl came from the first floor again and it sounded like a large dog or perhaps a bear. The woman held Jolee in place as they listened.

After ten seconds, the woman nodded her head in the direction of the women's rooms and removed her hand from Jolee's mouth. They crept down the hall, keeping constant watch behind them, until they reached their rooms. Standing in their open doorways, directly across the hall from each other, Jolee was full of questions but couldn't figure out what to ask first.

"I'm Megan. Who are you?" the woman whispered.

"Jolee. What's going on? Something was at my door a short while ago and I thought maybe Roger was playing a joke on me or something." Jolee's eyes were fixed on the stairway at the far end of the hall.

"Don't you listen? Weren't you warned? You bolt your door one night out of every twenty-eight. The rest of the time you can prop your door open or sleep naked in front of your room and no one will molest you. But tonight...!"

"I'm sorry. Thanks for coming to warn me. I didn't think I made any noise getting up so I guess I also owe you an apology for waking you up, Megan."

"Don't worry about it. I'm pregnant." Jolee turned to the woman and did indeed see the telltale bulge in her abdomen. "This one keeps me awake every night when there is a full moon," she said with her hand on her stomach.

"That's kind of weird. Did the Doctor make sure the baby is healthy?"

"Yes..." both women paused when they heard a growl come from the stairway. "That's one of them on the stairs. We've been overheard. Bolt your door, now!" Megan stepped back into her room, closed the door and then Jolee heard the click of the deadbolt.

Jolee heard another growl, this time from the end of the hall. She stepped inside her room, shut the door and fumbled with the deadbolt. Fear made her fingers clumsy and while she kept fighting with the lock, she thought she could hear something that breathed deeply slowly making its way down the hall.

At last there was a click as the deadbolt slid into place and Jolee backed away from the door until she fell backwards onto her bed. As she lay there something leaned heavily against the door, perhaps testing it she thought. Jolee scrambled to the head of her bed and hid under the covers, perfectly aware that whatever would be able to get through that strong wooden door with its silvery bracings would find her bed sheets no obstacle.

Jolee remembered cowering under her sheets until whatever or whoever it was had slowly made their way back down the hall to the stairs, but she didn't remember falling asleep. She hadn't thought she would fall asleep, with her heart hammering away in her chest, but evidently she had.

There was a rap at her door that made her jump. Her heart started thumping in her chest again. All night she had been plagued by nightmares about being chased down a long dark hallway by all varieties of movie monsters. There was a rap at her door again and she jumped again.

"Y...yes?" she called out timidly.

"Good morning, Jolee," called out Roger. "We were going to have breakfast together, if you're still interested."

She leapt out of bed, eager for some human contact to soothe her nerves after the disturbing night, especially if it was Roger. Then she remembered she had slept in the nude. She scooped up some of the sheets and quickly pulled them strategically across her front. Jolee made her way to the door, hesitated for a second before finally unbolting the lock and then opened the door.

"Good morning, Jolee. I..." his eyes drifted down and when he saw the sheet covering much of her torso, he covered his own eyes with his hand. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to intrude, Miss Rider."

Jolee gave him a puzzled look. "Why are you covering your eyes, Roger? And for that matter why did I bother to cover myself? I have no mysteries left to reveal to you, do I?" She dropped the sheet to the floor.

"I...well, that is...I'm not sure if I can explain." He kept his eyes covered and took a deep breath. "The regulations allow you to wear whatever you wish in your own room. But seeing you covered means I might see you undress and that just seems a little too intimate, even if I have seen you naked."

"Well, you can open your eyes again. I've dropped the sheet." Roger obeyed her, but purposefully stared at her face. She saw his eyes flit as far down as her chin a couple of times and then with great self control he forced himself to return his gaze to her eyes. "I really don't understand the difference between undressing and being undressed, Roger. Could you explain it to me? And you must have watched me undress through the camera when I came into your building."

Roger looked at her nervously. "Well...you know, you look like you're still tired. Maybe I should let you get some more sleep. We can have lunch together if you like."

"Eep! I must look a mess!" exclaimed Jolee. She turned and ran for the bathroom. "Stay right there, Roger. I'll just be a few minutes."

He waited patiently while he listened to the sounds of the toilet being flushed, the sink being used and then the shower being turned on. Jolee had the fastest shower that she had ever had because she didn't want to make Roger wait on her. Roger was amazed at how fast Jolee seemed to finish her morning routine.

"I'm sorry I'm taking so long, Roger. I should have woken up earlier," she called from the bathroom.

"That's okay. I guess you were tired from everything yesterday. Oh, by the way, I didn't watch you undress when you were in the entry room."

That's a pity, thought Jolee with a grin, I'm sure you would have liked it.

"Hello, Roger," chorused some female voices.

"Hello, ladies. And how are each of you this morning?" he replied.

"Never mind that," Jolee recognized Megan's voice, "are you actually waiting for the new female, Roger?" Jolee could hear a teasing tone in the woman's words.

"Miss Rider and I are going to have breakfast together, ladies. You'll meet her later today. I think you'll like her very much."

"Any female that you think is special enough to share a private meal with has to be very likable," said a woman that Jolee hadn't met yet. "And you're waiting on her! I've never seen you wait for anything: you're so busy all the time. I'd begun to think you didn't actually eat or sleep, Roger."

"Now why don't you ladies just go on to breakfast and stop teasing me," chided Roger.

Megan spoke up again. "Maybe we should just wait around and tell this new female what a great guy you are, Roger. We all know you're too modest to do so."

"As Den Master I am ordering you off. You all know the regulations." Den Master, wondered Jolee, he's just in charge of one room? Or do they refer to this club as a den? I guess this club is sort of the ideal den for a guy, with women walking around naked. Although, that seems more...common than I expect from Roger.

"Good luck, Den Master," the ladies chorused.

All was silent as Jolee quickly brushed her hair. She looked at herself in the mirror and frowned. She would have preferred to spend more time on her hair, but she had to go meet Roger before too much time passed. She left the bathroom and saw Roger leaning against the door frame with his arms crossed. He was staring down the hall.

Jolee struck a pose with a hand on one hip. "So what do you think, Roger?"

Startled out of his thoughts, he uncrossed his arms self-consciously and turned to her. "Wow. I mean you were beautiful when you opened the door, but...wow."

Jolee's cheeks flushed pink. "Maybe we should go have breakfast, Roger?"

"All right. We're eating at my desk again, I'm afraid. I'm on duty." He offered his arm and she wrapped her own around it. They walked to the foyer silently, each deep in their own thoughts. They didn't meet anyone along the way, but Jolee still felt as if the building was full of life somehow.

Once they arrived in the foyer, she observed that Roger had set out the chairs again so that she had the more comfortable seat. As well, there was a large, gold-plated platter on the desk. Before sitting down, Jolee lifted the cover and took in the aroma of the breakfast. It looked much like French toast, but was made from thick, soft slices of bread and was folded over with some type of cream cheese in the middle. Atop the food was a generous spoonful of a warmed blueberry jam and a variety of fruits was set along the edge of the platter.

"It looks scrumptious. You eat breakfast like this all the time?"

"No. The cook guessed I was having breakfast with someone," Roger showed the two plates to Jolee, "he told me he wanted to make something special. I usually have oatmeal, day in and day out."

"Well, have a seat Den Master and I'll be the obedient female and serve you," said Jolee looking at Roger slyly.

"I can serve myself and as senior person here I should serve you."

"Sorry. I thought having to walk around naked and wearing the collar meant I was supposed to be a slave of some type. I just thought I'd get started in my role."

"What? You're not a slave. None of the ladies..." he glanced up at a camera, "none of the females are slaves. Please don't think you are here to serve the whims of any man. That's not what everything here is about."

Jolee handed him his plate and she began filling her own with what remained on the platter. "Oh, then perhaps we can begin our breakfast with you explaining exactly what everything here is about, please? I think I deserve to know after staying here overnight. If you want to swear me to secrecy then I will take whatever you tell me to my grave."

"I think I'll begin with discussing the difference between being undressed and undressing, if you don't mind?"

"I'm patient so you can answer my important question later. I'm curious about the difference between those two terms as well, Roger."

"Well, to begin with being nude, naked or in the buff, as some say, is not overtly sexual. While it is true that a certain amount of clothing must be removed for sex, being naked does not equate with the sex act in every circumstance. Undressing does. Undressing is an intimate act that has connotations of revealing what is concealed for a specific purpose. People usually undress to engage in sex, to get ready for bed which is the prime locale for sex, to change into other clothing appropriate for meeting other people and, on a much more subtle level, meeting other sex partners. You change for a party, to go to the beach, for a business meeting, etc."

"I'm not sure I entirely agree with your logic, Roger."

"I'll swoop in for the coup de grace then. Have you ever been to a strip club?"

"So, my being partially covered was very sexual to you because you knew that I would be removing my 'clothes' in just a few minutes and you covered your eyes because my stripping would be too much...what?"

Roger bit his lip. "You're a very beautiful and attractive woman and I would have to be in my grave if I didn't think about you sexually. Let's leave it at that."

Jolee gave him a warm smile at his admission. At last I've made some headway with this guy, now it's time to play with him a little, Jolee thought. "This French toast is delicious. I love the way the cream falls onto my tongue when I bite into the bread," she said with an innocent look on her face.

Roger coughed and some food lodged in his throat. He dropped his fork, picked up his napkin and had a brief coughing fit. After managing to discretely spit out the offending food into the napkin, he then wiped the tears from his eyes.

"Are you all right?" asked Jolee. When Roger nodded he saw a look of real concern on her face that did make him feel much better. "Are you up to telling me what is really going on in this place?"

Roger swallowed some juice. "Haven't I told you everything?"

"No. What or who was that prowling the building late last night?"

He stared at her. "What do you mean?"

"Well, I was woken in the middle of the night by a noise in the hall. When I went to investigate..."

"You left your room?" Roger looked at the camera in the corner of the room. Then he turned back to the young woman. "Jolee, you were specifically instructed to bolt your door and not leave your room until daybreak. This is a serious breach of the Club rules. You could have been killed."

"I didn't actually see anything, Roger. It was dark and when I went downstairs I just heard some growling. Something followed me back upstairs, but I returned to my room and bolted the door just like you said to."

He put his face in his hands. "You could have been killed, Jolee. Don't you understand? I told you it was very dangerous. And now...now I may have to expel you from the Club. The other Den Masters will see this as a serious breech of protocol on my part. I doubt I'll keep my position much longer when this gets out." He raised his face and looked at her. "You have no idea what you've done. All the work I've done to make us more civilized and less brutal, the work of all those before me, and now it may all be undone by you."

"I'm sorry, Roger. I was just curious. I didn't think it was really that serious. I even thought it might be some sort of test you were putting me through to see how brave I was. Have I really caused so much harm?"

"Yes."

Jolee reached across the desk and put her hand on Roger's. "Then is there something I can do to make things right?"

"Nothing within reason. Pandora's Box has been opened, again."

"I should have trusted you more, Roger. I am truly sorry. I guess I'd better be going then."

"Yes, it would be for the best. I'll get your clothes." Roger rose from the table and slowly walked over to the leftmost of three closed doors. Jolee knew that the middle one led to the rest of the Club. She watched as Roger stepped into a large storage room. A few seconds later he stepped out into her view again, holding a black box in front of him.

Once he reached the table, he held the box out for Jolee. She looked up into Roger's serious face, then looked down to the floor to hide her frown and took the box from his hands.

"You'll likely want to change in private. The bathroom is the door on the right."

"Do I get to keep the collar?" she asked, as her hand reached up to it protectively.

"I'll say I lost it, Jolee. Keep it out of sight as much as possible. There are some nasty people out there who would try to acquire it through...very aggressive means."

Jolee stood up and slowly walked to the bathroom door. At the door, she turned and looked at Roger. He was seated at his desk with both hands flat in front of him and doing nothing, as if he didn't know what he should do next. As she reached for the doorknob a buzzer sounded on the desk.

Both of them jumped. They looked at each other and the buzzer sounded again. Jolee watched as Roger pushed a button and then typed something on the keyboard. He examined the monitor.

"Yes? What can I do for you?" he asked.

Jolee heard a voice issue from a hidden speaker on the desk. "I am an attorney representing one Charles Sundock, who is also present. We also have a Ralph Wilson and a policeman here. You are holding one Jolee Rider against her will and we are here to see her returned unharmed."

Roger and Jolee exchanged looks, then Jolee dropped the box and ran over to the desk. She looked at the image on the monitor.

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