"Quite an impressive résumé, Doctor Ryan," said the man behind the desk. "PhD in psychology and an MD as well, with a background in therapeutic medicine, a very impressive list of certifications in hypnotherapy, a stellar record in private practice...really, an applicant of your caliber doesn't come along very often, especially not to a non-profit shelter like ours. I think I can speak for the entire staff when I say that you'd be an amazing addition, and we'd be very happy to have you. There normally wouldn't be any openings, of course, but your application caught my attention as soon as it crossed my desk."
He paused. "Which is what you knew would happen." He looked at the application for a long moment, then crumpled it into a tiny ball and threw it into the wastebasket. "There. Now that we've got that out of the way, why don't we talk honestly about the real reason you came here today?"
Michelle Ryan fixed her green eyes into an icy glare. "Certainly, Doctor Pollard."
"Please, call me Kyle," he said disarmingly.
"Doctor Pollard will do nicely," she responded, refusing to rise to the bait. "I've been looking into your shelter, Doctor Pollard, and I've been finding out some very interesting things about the women you treat. Of course, as a private shelter, you don't have to make your records accessible, but some of my colleagues have been recommending women to you for quite some time, and encouraging me to do the same. I'm not one to refer my patients lightly, so I did quite a bit of digging. I'm sure you can guess what I've found."
Doctor Pollard smiled engagingly. "No, actually I can't. I think I've done a very good job of covering my tracks, so I'm very interested to see just what you've uncovered. Obviously enough to anger you, or you wouldn't have come here. Obviously not enough to prove any wrongdoing, or you'd have brought police. Please, enlighten me."
Michelle frowned. He didn't seem intimidated in the slightest by her veiled threats. Instead, he seemed to be enjoying a private joke at her expense. She pressed on. She'd already shown her true colors by confronting him; no point in backing down now. "You actually have done a good job of covering your tracks. It was only my personal connections in the psychiatric field that led me to Gina Bartlett. She's doing quite well for herself, as I understand it. A genuine phenomenon in the adult film industry. Which is somewhat surprising, as I originally heard her name in conversation with a colleague of mine about rape survivors and their intimacy issues."
Doctor Pollard raised an eyebrow. "Violating a patient's confidentiality?" he said archly. "How unethical. I should report you for that."
"I know," Michelle said dryly. "Not only do I talk with my colleagues about their patients, I also watch fetish porn. I'm clearly a hopeless case. I'm also clearly the only person outside of Doctor Fischburne who would connect the patient that he referred to you with the woman who's currently taking it up the ass every day for Savage Video. But interestingly enough, I'm actually the only person who would connect the two, period. When I spoke to Doctor Fischburne, he didn't remember Gina Bartlett. The name just didn't ring a bell."
Doctor Pollard stroked his goatee. "Perhaps you were mistaken. Doesn't sound like the sort of thing a rape survivor would do, does it?"
"I could be mistaken. But I've done enough work with hypnosis to recognize the signs when I'm speaking to someone who's following a post-hypnotic suggestion. Which is the next interesting thing. All those colleagues of mine who keep trying to tell me to send you patients? They all exhibit those same signs. They also couldn't remember exactly who they'd referred to you already. Oh, some of them tried to tell me it was a confidentiality issue, a breach of therapist/client ethics to tell. But when I pressed, they weren't quite sure who they'd sent your way." Michelle folded her arms. "Now why might that be? You've got a very impressive record of hypnosis certifications yourself, Doctor Pollard. Perhaps you can tell me?"
Doctor Pollard seemed anything but upset at the implications of her question. "Now, Michelle, I'm not the only person on staff who has a background in hypnotherapy..."
"No, and that's another curious thing. All of the colleagues I talked to? None of them have backgrounds in hypnotherapy. They're all versed in conventional therapeutic techniques. My friends in the field who both knew you and had hypnotherapy certifications? They've all left their practices to come work for you, either at this shelter or in some other capacity. And 'some other capacity' is all I could find out. You have a lot of people affiliated with you, Doctor Pollard. A lot of very good hypnotists. And oddly enough, every patient who's passed through the doors of this shelter that I know of either wound up doing porn, or disappeared completely." Michelle stood up. "You're right. It's not enough to prove wrongdoing. But you'd better have a good explanation, or we'll see what CNN makes of it all."
Doctor Pollard leaned back in his chair. "I have to say, Michelle, I'm more than a little disappointed in you. Here I invited you to talk honestly about the real reason you came here today, and all you can give me is a little lecture on morality?" Michelle heard the office door open behind her, and even as she turned to look, she knew who she'd see. "You didn't even mention Cindy's name."
It took her a long moment, but she finally turned her gaze away from the blank-eyed nude woman who stood in the doorway. "Let her go," she said in a tone of low menace.
"You must love her very much, if you were willing to come beard me in the lion's den, as it were, to get her out." Doctor Pollard gestured, and the girl approached the two of them, still very much in trance. "Which is what I knew would happen. That's why I took her. I've been wanting to obtain your services for quite some time, Doctor Ryan, but you've proved to be remarkably hard to get a hold of. I needed to get your full attention. And Cindy, here...well, I originally intended her as bait, but I should have known that any woman you'd be attracted to would have quite a bit going for her. She's going to be a fine addition to my staff. No formal hypnotic training, of course, but you'd be amazed at what she picked up after a few years living with you."
"Goddamnit, I said let her GO!" Michelle lunged for him, wanting desperately to grab him by that ugly tie of his and drag him across the desk, but Cindy was right there, holding her effortlessly and pushing her back into her chair.
"It sounds like you've guessed most of it, by the way," Doctor Pollard said as he pulled several lengths of rope out of a drawer. "I knew that leaving a few pointers behind when we procured Cindy would work wonders." Michelle struggled, but Cindy didn't even seem to realize it was her girlfriend she was holding down as Doctor Pollard began to tie her to the chair. "But in case you need me to spell it out, yes, the shelter is a front for my real business. Human traffic. The girls who come in here are desperate, damaged. They need someone to trust so badly that it takes almost no effort at all to bind them to my will. I hypnotize them, I condition them, I...oh, it's a bit of a charged term, but let's go ahead and say it, I enslave them. Then I do with them whatever I want. Some, I keep here as personal servants. Others, I rent out or sell. And women like you, women with special skills...you become my lionesses. You find women that the shelter doesn't bring in. You'll help me enslave other women, Doctor Ryan. And you will love it."
"Not going to happen," Michelle said firmly. "You can't hold me here forever. People know where I am, people I trust. If you keep me too long, they'll start making a fuss. And I don't care how good of a hypnotist you think you are, you're not going to break me easily."
Doctor Pollard's eyes widened. "People you trust, you say?"
"So they trust you, then. Implicitly, as you say." He pushed his glasses up on his nose. "That's good. It'll make it very easy for you to hypnotize them. They won't remember any of this. And who knows, I might find a use for them." He smiled.
"It won't matter. By the time you break me--if you can, which I seriously doubt--they'll have already gone to the press. You don't have more than twenty-four hours. Even with the aid of drugs, you won't be able to do anything in that little amount of time."
Doctor Pollard sucked air through his lips. "Do you know, I think you're right. Luckily for me, I don't have to. I have someone who can do that for me, someone who knows your every weakness. As I say, very little formal training, but a lot of skill. Cindy?" he said, his tone changing to one of syrupy sweetness. "Time to be a good girl for me."
Cindy's eyes fluttered a little, and lost some of their glassy quality. "Yes, Master?" she said.
"You remember your good friend, Michelle, don't you, Cindy?"
Cindy looked down at Michelle, still testing the strength of the knots. "Yes, Master," she said. She didn't seem even a little surprised at seeing her lover there, or at seeing her tied up.
"I made sure not to remove any of her memories of you," Doctor Pollard mentioned as an aside. "I wanted to make sure she'd have every advantage when the time came to make you mine. Cindy, Michelle's got a problem. She doesn't belong to me."
Cindy's face fell. She looked like she'd just heard about a friend with cancer. "Oh, Master...is there anything I can do to help?"
Doctor Pollard smiled, like a teacher hearing a prize pupil recite the answer perfectly. "Well, you could enslave her," he said. "Then she'd be mine, just like you. Doesn't that sound wonderful?"
Cindy beamed with happiness. "Oh, yes, Master!" she said excitedly. "Can I enslave her now for you?"
"That would be lovely, Cindy," Doctor Pollard said. "And now, if you'll excuse me, I have to leave you two alone for a bit. I'd love to stay and watch, but I think Michelle will submit more readily to you if I'm not here to remind her exactly what she's resisting. I'll be back in an hour or two, when I'm sure you'll have her all obedient." He walked past the chair, out of Michelle's field of vision.
"You're insane, Doctor Pollard!" she shouted, making one more effort to loosen the ropes.
"Please, Michelle," he said, "call me Master." She heard his laughter recede as he walked out of the room.
Cindy looked down at her. "You will, you know. It feels so good, Michelle. I can't wait until we're serving him together. I've missed you so much these past few weeks. The only thing that kept me going was Master reminding me that I would be used as bait to capture you." She shivered. "It feels so good to be used."
"Cindy, listen to me," Michelle said, trying to keep the urgency out of her voice and find an easy, hypnotic cadence to her words. "Listen to me and remember what it was like before you came to this place."
Cindy smiled. "I know what you're trying to do. Master told me you'd try this. He said you'd try to hypnotize me out of his control, and that it wouldn't work, because all I have to do is remember how good his control over me feels, and everything else would just wash away under that pleasure." She reached down and tweaked Michelle's nipples. "It feels better than sex, Michelle. It feels so good to serve Master that I can't wait to share that pleasure with every woman I can. That's why I'm going to hypnotize you, not the other way around. I've been both free and enslaved, and I know that slavery is better. You only think that freedom is better."
"Freedom is better!" Michelle shouted, knowing she was failing utterly at being soothing and hypnotic. "Come on, Cindy, come back to me! Remember all the wonderful times we had together? Remember the trip to Venice, getting drunk on cheap wine and making out in the back of the gondola?"
Cindy just smiled again, pinching Michelle's nipples rhythmically through her clothes. "I remember. We'll have many more wonderful times soon, Michelle, and they'll be even better because we'll both know the bliss of slavery. You're only afraid of it because you don't know what it feels like yet. Once you're a slave, like me, you'll wonder why you didn't beg to submit to Master's will sooner."
"Cindy, please stop." Michelle heard a trace of fear in her voice. "Please don't do this. You know it's wrong."
"It can't be wrong," Cindy replied, as if speaking to a very slow child. "It's Master's will. He told me you'd try to fight it, and he was right about that. Just like he's right about everything. He told me what would make your will melt away, though." She leaned in, running her tongue down Michelle's neck in a way that made her shiver despite the terror of the situation. "You're getting horny, aren't you, Michelle?"
Michelle didn't want to answer. She'd been so worried about Cindy the past few weeks, worrying about where she was and what she was going through, that masturbation hadn't even been on the agenda. And now Cindy was right here, looking so good and touching her in all the ways she loved to be touched, and even if she knew she couldn't give in to Doctor Pollard, she wanted very badly just to let Cindy keep on doing what she was doing for a while longer.
"Oh, Michelle, I don't need to hear it. I can tell by the look on your face." She slid to her knees, her head gently resting near Michelle's crotch as she just kept tweaking and touching and pinching. "I can smell it, Michelle. I know you like this. I know you want more. Just like your birthday last year, Michelle, remember? The way I teased you, teased you for hours and hours until all you could think about was wanting to cum?"
Michelle squirmed in her bonds, but she wasn't sure anymore if it was from a desire to escape or just from desire. "Yes," she whimpered. She hadn't meant to. It had just slipped out. She hadn't meant to say anything, but she was getting so horny she couldn't even think straight...
"Remember how hard you came, Michelle? Remember how lost in pleasure you were? That desire, that need just built up until you couldn't think anymore, couldn't think at all and then I released it all, and your brain just shut down as you came and came and came..."
"uh-huh," Michelle panted. Cindy had pushed her skirt back to expose her panties, and her face was so close that Michelle could feel her breath with every word.
"That's what it feels like to serve the Master, Michelle. Every second of every day feels that good. All you have to do is give in, submit, obey," each word accompanied by an extra-hard pinch, an extra-long breath, "and you will feel that bliss forever. I'm just holding your pleasure back until you're ready to understand that. I know you're not ready yet, Michelle. That's alright. I'll keep teasing for a while longer."
Michelle could hear the tiny little moans at the back of her throat, the subvocal grunts of pleasure that she knew were letting Cindy know her technique was working. "I, Cindy, please..."
"Yes, begging is good," Cindy said. She flicked out the very tip of her tongue for just a moment, pressed it against Michelle's damp panties. "Begging is submissive, and submission is just one more step closer to slavery, and slavery to Master is so good, it's so perfect, it's where you belong. It's where you need to be. It's where you always needed to be."
Michelle tried to speak, but all that came out for a moment was a long, growling moan. "I won't," she finally said. "I won't, I won't, I won't!"
"Oh, but you will," Cindy said, standing again. "I know you will." She sat on Michelle's lap, facing her, slipping her legs through the armrests to straddle Michelle's waist. Michelle could feel the heat of Cindy's pussy pressed against her body. "Because I know--" She kissed Michelle, a long, slow, tender kiss as their breasts pressed together in a way that made Michelle whimper into Cindy's mouth. "That you--" She nuzzled Michelle's chin, right at that sensitive spot where it met her neck, that spot that always made Michelle just melt into a puddle of lust every time Cindy touched it. "Need. To. Be. Here." She pulled back abruptly and looked Michelle straight in the eyes. "Remember your bliss."
And Michelle felt her mind soften. She barely had time to recognize the sensation, to wonder when Cindy had tranced her before and why she didn't remember it, before the bliss unfolded in her head and suddenly she did remember. She remembered all sorts of things. She remembered why she needed to stop resisting and let Cindy enslave her completely.
It was very important, and it felt so good to sink into it and obey as Cindy explained things to her. Eventually, she came, but she'd long since lost track of the passage of time by then.
Michelle walked into the apartment she'd left only a few hours ago, but the look on Hope's face told Michelle that it had been a lifetime of agonizing waiting for her old friend. For just an infinitesimal moment, seeing the absolute and total compassion on her friend's face, Michelle almost felt like she could say something. She almost thought that she could gasp out, "Help me," and let her friend know that something was wrong with her, that she wasn't herself, that Master had gotten to her after all.
But then she heard the voice in the back of her head, saying, "But wouldn't it feel better to lie?" And Michelle was lost. Because she knew that it would. She knew that obeying Master's commands would always feel better than freedom, that every time she obeyed it would cement that truth deeper and deeper into her. Resisting wasn't just hard, it was impossible. That sweet, treacherous, sensual pleasure would always carry her back under Master's control, like an undertow, dragging her down. And giving in felt good in and of itself. Pleasure made her obey and obedience was pleasure. The perfect endless cycle of deepening slavery, and she was losing to it. Had lost to it. Would always lose to it.
So she just held up her hand and said, "It's OK, Hope. It's still me," and she knew by the look of utter relief on Hope's face that she had been totally convincing. That sparked a deeper pleasure in her clit, but she knew that she would feel more pleasure if she didn't betray the first pleasure. And all of these things were obedience to Master's will, and that felt so pleasant in and of itself.
"What happened?" Hope asked. "Was...was she there?"
"I don't know," Michelle said, sighing in frustration. No actress had ever played a role better. "I didn't even get in to see Doctor Pollard. Got the runaround all day, shuttled back and forth to different functionaries. I think they might suspect something." She rubbed the back of her neck as she went over to the couch and sat down. "I've got more appointments out there tomorrow. Hopefully, I'll be able to get a little closer to the elusive Doctor Kyle Pollard then." She did hope so. She knew that if she did a good job hypnotizing Hope and covering her tracks, then Master would fuck her tomorrow.
Hope sat down next to Michelle and gave her a long hug. The two of them had never been intimate in that sense; Hope was straight, and always had been. But their friendship had made them as close as sisters. Some part of Michelle struggled with the need to obey Master's commands, but she couldn't break free of his will; besides, all she had to do was still Hope's mind and make her forget about any "hypnotic conspiracies" and "slave trafficking rings" that she might have mentioned. Master was wise enough not to test the limits of his control over her so soon. "I know this must be hard on you," Hope said as she released her friend.
"It is. I just...oh, I felt like I was getting so close, and to spend the whole day kicking against red tape!" She sighed. "I'm sorry, but I just need to relax myself a little. I hope you understand." She leaned over and lit the candle that sat alone on the center of the coffee table.