tagBDSMSanctuary Pt. 01: Aubrey Ch. 01

Sanctuary Pt. 01: Aubrey Ch. 01

byinkstand©

"Barbra Streisand that hurts!" I said, rubbing the elbow I had just banged into the aluminum window frame. That was one of my trifecta of weaknesses; toe stubbing, papercuts and funnybone abuse. All I could do was to rub the prickling sensation skittering through my arm and grimace.

The scene kept rolling past the window, an endless parade of decayed subdivisions and towns in spiraling decay, its caretakers too disillusioned to tend them.

Although I didn't know these towns, it still saddened me. Their people, their families, and communities had been in decline for a long time. It was people that were the problem, a society too afraid to speak to one another for fear of causing someone offense. Or worse, those who preyed upon them. I kept thinking of those tiny shivering dogs, who would bark at and then run from a leaf blowing in the wind. Is that all we have become? Are we just a bunch of scared little dogs, all bark, and no bite?

I was doing it again, sinking inside myself at just the thought of interacting with the supercritical, paranoid, and judgemental masses. I had become lost in my thoughts for that moment, oblivious to the rocking of the train and its rhythmic vibrations. The world seemed a touch louder in that half second my attention returned to my surroundings.

"Miss? Would you care for anything to drink?" the voice of the car attendant came again.

"Oh. Uh. The grape soda please," I said.

"Here you go dear." She pulled the soda can from her bowl of ice and handed it over to me with a napkin and straw before moving down the aisle. Pulling the tab back, I sipped the soda and shifting to slide my feet under me. I returned my gaze to the drab world beyond the window. I had been on this train for five days and desperately needed new surroundings.

The letter in my hand crinkled. Panicked, I smoothed it out gently with my palms. It was one of the very few items I had taken with me. It was a gleaming key to a door out of this lifeless existence. It was precious. I held it up to my chest and greeted with the ghost of Harold's aftershave, deep and earthy. The scent filled me with possibilities, of hope and adventure. I knew this was all thanks to Harold. I was still not sure what I was doing, or why I had walked away from everything I knew, a job, a home, everything. A line from the letter reentered my mind.

"I want you to come and stay with me, no strings attached."

At, first it seemed like an impossibility, a dream woven with a lure of hope. After all, while I lived in the decaying suburbs of Florida, Harold lived across the country in the California mountains. With the exorbitant prices of travel, it might as well have been halfway around the world.

But Harold was true to his word. In a matter of days, a large vanilla envelope arrived by courier. It contained both the cherished letter and the money needed for such a trip. Harold had always eluded in ways that he had wealth. He had offered to help me out of a few financial dilemmas, help I had intended to decline, but the offer was always there no questions asked. He could have reserved the train in my name but didn't. It was all about choice with him.

"No strings attached."

I still remember the shock at the small piles of neatly banded bills that tumbled into my lap, each labeled and earmarked; transportation, apartment lease closing costs, new apartment down payment, food, snacks, necessities, savings, miscellaneous, and emergencies. With this gift, Harold only asked for two things in return. First, that if I come, to enjoy the train and take the time to think and reflect on everything and examine my feelings. Secondly, should I chose not to come, that I use the money to somehow better myself. I had taken the train as Harold asked, In less than a week, I had just dropped everything. I was coming, and I was scared.

The problem was, I was not sure why I was so afraid. Harold and I had met by chance when he visited the restaurant where I worked. Nothing fancy, one of those "trendy" places with imitation antiques and fake memorabilia all over the walls, but the food was decent. I served him as I had all the other random people. He was no one special, just another person to sit at my table and be waited to be served. But he had these amazing eyes, blue eyes that just peered right into your soul.

He was well spoken, patient and polite, all of which are godsends to those who wait tables. But those eyes. His gaze made me self-conscious about myself. They caused me to stand up just a little straighter and move a little faster. When I would steal a glance, I would find him looking at me, with those piercing eyes, without even bothering to hide the fact that he watched my every move.

I didn't get a chance to speak with him much. Karen, the shift manager, used every opportunity to walk over to me and give me orders. She just oozed satisfaction from being able to boss people around in front of the guests to show off how "on top of things" she was. It was both embarrassing and endless.

"Pick up that napkin. Smooth out that apron. Don't bother the guest, just get their food. Smile. Remember what I taught you!" Karen would say to the employees in front of customers.

I had noted that the man just smiled at her and then at me. Great.

I was on hands and knees picking up crumbs because the "vacuum might disturb the customers," when he had finished and merely vanished, leaving behind an overly generous tip for a modest quality salad at best. I hardly gave it a second thought. However the next day he returned.

A chef's salad and baked potato, just like the day before. I had wondered if he were a creature of habit or if it was some vegetarian thing. As I refilled his water glass, he offered that he had been in town for business and inquired if there were anything of interest to do around the area. I told him that there was a movie theater not too far. He merely nodded and smiled, and thanked me politely. As with the day before, while tending another table, he disappeared. Along with another generous tip, he left a scrap of paper, with the cleanest handwriting I had ever seen. I thought my writing was decent, but it looked like a child scribbling with crayons compared to his. I picked up the slip of paper and read it over.

"Please email me and let me know if you would like to join me for a movie tonight, my treat."

The man had included an email address with the message. I slipped the paper into the pocket of my apron and began to clear off the table. I felt confused, and then admittedly, a bit flattered. My mysterious man had been the last customer for the lunch rush. It was now my own scheduled lunch break. With a plastic bin full of dishes, I retreated to the back, only to hear the jeers of Jacob who watched the whole event.

"Faggot," he said under his breath just loud enough for no one but myself to hear.

I didn't say a word to Jacob or even look at him; I didn't dare. I was too afraid to confront his slurs and draw the attention to myself. Besides, it was nothing I had not heard before. I had long hair, often kept in a ponytail, and a soft round face and features that gave me a very feminine appearance. I admit I didn't make much of an attempt to dress overtly masculine in public. The fact that I had never had sex with any man seemed a moot point in confrontations such as these.

I figured the customer likely just thought I was a girl. It happens the majority of the time. But Jacob knew what I was. I wasn't going to give him an explanation he didn't deserve. Still, emotions rose up in my eyes, and I had to blink them away. I wouldn't give him that either.

Scurrying past Jacob, I weaved my way to the kitchen depositing the dishes for the kitchen crew to clean and process. I leaned against the large refrigerator doors and pulled out the slip of paper and my phone. Not five seconds elapsed before I was interrupted by Karen, the shift manager.

"Aubrey. I need you to take the ten tables in section three. There are customers seating."

I slumped against the wall. "I was supposed to have a break before the rush," I said. " it's four o'clock, I have been here since before open at six for prep. Jessica--"

"Jessica is doing things with the owner." She emphasized the last word. "Which is not any of your business.. is it?"

Jessica and Tiffany were friends, and for the most part, Jessica enjoyed a free ride. It was fair to say that most of the manager click were personal friends of Tiffany who brought them into the fold. They had each other's back, and their woman empowerment stance edged almost ruthless against the males. At least the boys who don't give them what they want, and I didn't.

"I can help out. Can I postpone my break until--"

The pitch of Jessica's voice rose higher as talked over me. She said demeaningly, "I can't help it if we are short handed Aubrey. Always so concerned about yourself and only yourself. It's about being a team here. We pay you for the hours you work. I don't think one day of sacrifice for this job will kill you. If it is too much for you, I can find someone else who wants the job more. You know there is a line of applicants who would be willing to give just a little bit more effort when asked."

With my back to the wall I could retreat no further, nor could I look her in the face but stared at the ground. Situations like that made my stomach hurt.I could not afford to lose this job, and Jessica knew it. I pushed any resistance aside and kept my mouth shut. I nodded and began to walk towards the dining room.

"I will take care of the customers," I said.

I quickly sent an email from my phone to the address, "Will let you know later."

I passed Jacob who's sneer let me know he heard everything. Embarrassed, I tried to ignore him as I walked through the serving area and into the main room. In the corner, three of the serving girls were laughing and chatting idly while taking their time rolling silverware into napkins. Three tables in my new section had already seated. I hurried to fill water glasses and take customer orders before checking on my original serving section. There, four tables were waiting impatiently for service. No one had tended to my customers while I tried to take a break, and I realized there would be no help from those in the girls club over in the corner. I couldn't help it. I teared up in frustration as emotions welled up inside and in my hurry I turned and walked straight into the man who had left earlier. I was to find out later that he had accidentally left his briefcase behind and had returned a few moments later to retrieve it.

It was my fault. I wasn't paying attention and walked straight into the man. He was graceful enough to take a step back to keep us both from toppling. His arm went around me and held me to his chest for just a moment, stopping the momentum. He was much taller than I thought he was. At five foot four, I had to look up at him as he was at least 6 foot or taller.

"Whoops," he said with a smile.

"I am sorry Sir!" I said hurriedly.

"It's all right, no harm done," he replied. His smile wavered ever so slightly. He peered at me expressing a look of mild concern.

It was then I realized that the teardrops I had been fighting had escaped, sending one down each cheek. Mortified, I looked away and excused myself quickly; the words so rushed that they didn't even seem intelligible even to myself.

Jacob caught my eye and mouthed the words, "Fucking faggot."

I couldn't quite look at the customer in the face as I stepped back and around him. I sniffled as I retreated into the server's alcove. I hate when I sniffle. There is nothing less manly than sniffling.

I didn't cry. I didn't want to be the crybaby too. I just pushed everything I was feeling deep down inside and tended my tables. My smiles were my mask to the feelings of merely wanting to run away from it all. No one needed to know how I felt. No one wanted to know. Well, almost no one.

+++++++

The train lurched as it slowed into a station. Once stopped, the train gave up the few passengers it held but boarded no others, leaving myself the only person in the train car for the final leg of the journey.

Knowing the next stop was the final destination made each mile stretch into what felt like an eternity. With each mile, I felt my anxiety growing. Was it the fear of the unknown? I had now, enough cash to get back home, find another apartment and carry me until I found another job. Harold had taken complete care of me in that regard. It felt alien to be taken care of and looked after. I hate depending on people as a rule, and more so owing debts. However, I had to admit deep down, that Harold's generosity and complete transparency was both comforting and endearing. I was still resolute to find a local job and pay him back to keep the ledger clear. If that is, Harold was the sort to be paid back. There was much I had yet to learn about him.

The train pulled away and slowly returned to its rhythmic sway and clacking course. I found it funny how much I grew accustomed to it until it had stopped. Again I curled up to stare out the window. It reminded me how that night, following that horrible shift. I had seen my mysterious customer outside the restaurant through the windowed front door. He was sitting at one of the outside tables, an ice tea, laptop and paperwork taking it up entirely. His suit jacket draped over the back of his chair, his tie, expensive looking, hung loosely matched his rolled up sleeves giving off a relaxed manner.

I wasn't sure if he had lost track of time or needed a cab or something of that sort. "Sir? It's 10 o'clock. is everything all right?" I asked carefully, not to startle him.

He smiled and then turned to me, leaning back in the patio chair. "Hello there. What? It's ten already? Goodness, time must have gotten away from me." he said, stuffing paperwork into his briefcase. "I suppose work can wait until tomorrow. By the way", he turned to me. "Did you decide to join me for a movie?"

I cringed. I had forgotten about the offer. It would have been better to say I had no chance of doing much of anything other than attending his patrons. I bit my lip and shook my head, "I am sorry I did not email you back. Today was a hectic day. It's already very late, and while I am thrilled you offered, I think I am going to pass and head home."

"Ah, well I certainly understand. Though to be honest, I was going to use that as an excuse to have you help find my car. I left it in a lot of Tenant Avenue," he said pointing down the street.

I smiled and pointed the opposite direction. "It is this way, down two blocks a left I think, and two streets over."

He gave me an awkward smile and nodded but with a note of confusion. I had a feeling he would roaming the streets for some time lost.

"Or, I can walk you down there. The bus stop is near there, so its kind of on the way," I said.

"Oh, would you? That would be fantastic," he said, drawing on his jacket and grabbing his briefcase. He stood and moved to my side for me to lead the way. He introduced himself as Harold Lockwood and explained that he was in town on some projects, but would be leaving town to return home in the morning.

"Aubrey, Aubrey Fuller," I said. I am not sure why I told him my last name. I didn't even know him. The rest of the trip I did my best to make small talk. I never know what to say to fill the space. Fortunately, Harold was able to fill most of it himself talking about the weather and asking a few light-hearted questions about the area.

Reaching the parking lot, he followed along the edge over to a red sedan parked on the outer row and leaned against a waist-high bricked wall running perpendicular.

I hopped up on the wall's capstone and tried to give my throbbing feet a quick breather. They always hurt after a long day, and this was a long day. Fridays were the worst. I chalked up the mad day for it being a Friday the 13th on top of that.

I always eat at your restaurant when I am here for business trips. I prefer sitting in the back where it's a bit quieter. However, you caught my eye and I thought it would be interesting to sit at your tables and get a chance to meet you, so I asked to be in your section.

"You asked to sit in my section?" I asked.

He nodded. "I am a people watcher. I watched you. I happen to think you have quite a bit of grace about you," He laughed lightly at himself. "I supposed people don't talk like that anymore. It doesn't make it untrue though. I mentioned I handle a lot of projects. One of the projects I am working towards is an enormous endeavor and quite frankly, having good people around me makes the task so much more enjoyable."

"I... I am just a waiter," I said. I was unsure what he was implying.

"To some maybe, but I like to look at the whole picture. The sum of one's worth is not one's station in life, or what they do for a living. I am cautious with those I associate myself with." Harold paused, and when he spoke again, his voice was soft, quieter and careful. "I looked into you because I was curious."

I felt my stomach drop like lead. I froze there perched on the wall, staring ahead and not daring to look at him. "W-w-what do you mean?", I stuttered.

"Your name was easily obtainable from the restaurant. And with your email, it was not too hard to find what sites you were registered to, frequent and what kind of things interest you. It's a problem with social media I am afraid. It is all out there if you know where and how to look. Cross-platform advertisement cookie tracking, search engine metadata reporting. It has always been a problem for privacy. Where that fails, one can always purchase information for a price..."

I could feel the panic rise in my throat. It caused my heart to race and stomach to tighten. I was terrified of what would come next. If I could have stopped the next words from being spoken into existence, I would have given anything.

"I know," he said softly, and I could have sworn the tone was a bit sympathetic.

"Know what?" I asked, voice cracking as the words spilled out frantically past my trembling lips.

"Everything," he said. "I know so much about you. I know you are a closet girl. I know your age, address, how much coffee you drink, what sort of groceries and food you buy. I know you frequent a virtual game with a femboy and a female avatar account. I know you are a member of a BDSM community website under the username 'tea tray'. I know the books and stories you read, the pictures you look at, your porn... bondage, gay, sissy, rough, music, hobbies, interests, dreams. I have seen your Kink-List activity preferences and interests. I have also seen the girl clothing you buy online on the Real-Tel shopping site. I know everything you wear down to the color of your panties."

I could only stare at the ground, wide-eyed. I could not breathe. Sitting there on the short wall, I pulled my legs up under my chin and wrapped my arms around my knees. I could not think. My whole life and all its dirty little secrets were just spilled out into the night air in complete transparency. What could I say? I felt completely exposed. Was this blackmail? The tears fell, silent and stricken with horror. I felt myself retreat inwards away from the situation.

The short silence between us weight heavy enough to hurt. Harold's voice softened further as if he was afraid I would bolt like a deer. I may have if I had not frozen on the spot and thought of it.

He spoke again, and though I had not realized it at first, he took tentative steps towards me with each sentence. "I know you," he paused a moment, "like poetry. I know that you like mint tea with honey... and love flowers. I know you are at least curious about being with men. I know you have a tender heart, and put up with a lousy job and terrible people with grace and gentle submission.", he said, his hands cupping mine, which snapped me out of my stare. "I know you hurt, and are scared. I know you desire security and more from this life. I know there is a sweet girl hidden in there desperately wishes she could come out... I know you so much better than most," he said staring me right in the eyes. "And I accept you, all of you and I want to know you better."

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