A Ghoul, A Nectarine, and Pancakesbyflamekitten©
Thanks for taking the time to read my Halloween Contest entry! This story is about a young woman's exploration into the world of bondage; I vacillated between which category to post this under. Ultimately, I decided the story is more about the relationship that develops than anything. Feedback and constructive critiques are much appreciated. Please don't forget to vote!
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Izzy was lying on her back on a smooth wooden table, wearing only her bra and panties. They were not her raciest pair of under things -- the fabric was black, thick and opaque. But the cups of the bra were low enough to show the ample swells of her breasts, and the strings that tied into little bows at the tops of her thighs left only a triangle of fabric covering her mound. She hushed her inner critic -- there were more revealing bikinis on the beach, by far -- but couldn't help but be hyper-aware of her exposed skin as Alex stood over her, brandishing a rusty saw. Plus, the room was cold, and even through the thick cups of the bra, the swell of her nipples made themselves known.
"I have a confession to make, Iz," Alex spoke in low tones. The last group had just been ushered out and they had a few minutes before the next would come creeping through.
"I've been wanting to tell you all night. Well, I've been wanting to tell you for weeks. And I know it's going to sound bad, but you have to hear me out, okay?"
Izzy bit back a laugh. "I don't have much choice at the moment, do I?" Despite his dramatic warning, she wasn't too worried -- chances were, Alex was about to play another prank on her. He wouldn't bring up anything serious now, would he?
"Exactly," he said with a hint of dry humor. "The thing is...it's about Brandon," his voice turned uncharacteristically hesitant.
If Izzy could have sat up in shock, she surely would have. "How do you know about Brandon?" Her voice rose in volume and pitch more than it should have.
Alex looked her in the eyes for a long, heavy moment. It was particularly unsettling because the make-up that he wore made his eyes look gaunt and lifeless.
There was no way in the world that Alex -- her roommate, her big-brother-figure -- should know anything about Brandon. Brandon, the man that she'd been chatting online with for the last six weeks, wasn't just some random internet suitor. She told Brandon her most intimate secrets. He was the only person that knew who she ~really~ was.
Alex was having a hard time looking her in the eye. She gulped. "I know about him because I am him," he whispered.
* * * * * * *
One hair-raising breath after those words dropped out of Alex's mouth, Izzy heard faint buzzing from the earpiece hidden behind his wig. He nodded at her. The next group was on their way in.
In a way, it was for the better that their discussion was stalled; Izzy didn't have a clue on how to respond. Furious was the first response that came to mind, but there way another emotion just behind the anger that she couldn't understand. She shut her mouth and her eyes and reverted to her role. She was playing a corpse -- at least, almost a corpse -- so the act didn't take too much mental concentration. Great, her inner sarcasm went off, I can dwell.
She and Alex were acting in a haunted house. Izzy was lying a on table that was made to look like a steel examination table; she was pinned in place with a shackle around her neck. From where the onlookers stood, it appeared as if her leg had been severed at mid thigh. From the end of the severed limb, gooey bits of bone and viscera dangled, complete with a slow, steady drip of "blood" that collected in a steel basin below. In reality, her leg was wedged through a hole in the table; the prosthetic stump was made to blend in with her living flesh seamlessly.
Alex was playing a mad doctor. Naturally an imposing figure at nearly six and a half feet tall, his face was heavily made up to appear not just hollow or sunken, but...empty. He wore a stringy grey wig and a lab coat, and stood at Izzy's far side, facing the groups of Halloween revelers. He held a rusty, large-tooth saw in his hand.
The scene was eerily still as the next group made their way into the room. The steady drip of blood, aided by a hidden pump system, made the only noise in the space. The only movement came from Alex, pretending to saw her arm in a slow, methodical motion.
The guide led each group through slowly. By the time the crowd was halfway through the "exhibit", the tension was thick, every eye was peeled, waiting and wondering how they would be spooked this time.
The crowd was nearer the exit, now, and Alex surreptitiously nudged Izzy into action. Her eyes popped open and she let out her best B-movie actress blood-curdling scream. At the same time, her out-of-sight arm squeezed a bulb connected to the pump, and the slow drip of blood surged to a violent spray. The audience barely had time to process what happened, and in that moment of confusion, Alex lifted up her freshly severed arm, brandishing it as a weapon. He'd perfected a hurried but stiff-legged walk that made him seem both determined and demented. The slow shuffle of the audience picked up the pace and made their way down a hallway to next scare.
And then Alex was at her side again, and they were alone. Izzy waited a beat until the group was out of earshot. Because of her staged scream, they were in the soundproofed band practice room, so she didn't wait long. "Please tell me you're fucking kidding," the hard edge to her voice was enough to make him cringe. "Because it is not funny." She spoke in staccato, as if each word were its own sentence.
He drew in a breath. "It's not a joke, Iz," he let the breath out. "I swear I didn't mean for it to get this far, but you have to know -- I did it to protect you."
"Protect me? I'm not a fucking kid anymore, who the hell do you --"
"I didn't mean to be patronizing. And I didn't mean to snoop when I sat down to the computer one day and found a IM conversation you left up. With one so-called "StrictMaster".
Izzy cringed. Just when she thought she couldn't get any more embarrassed. Now everything down to her internal organs was blushing. StrictMaster was some idiot she'd met months ago in a BDSM chat room. She was new to the scene, brand spankin' new, and he seemed charming, and smart. At first.
"I read it, Iz, 'cause I was concerned. He seemed like trouble, and you seemed...like a novice," he chose his words diplomatically. "And I was pretty damn sure you wouldn't want me confronting you about it, so I thought --" the crackle of the earpiece stopped him short. He sighed and mouthed a word she guessed was "sorry".
She could hear the new group approaching -- rowdy adults, likely drunk -- so she closed her eyes and lay down, her body placid, but her mind bubbling.
* * * * * * *
Izzy did not have a hard time believing that Alex only wanted to protect her. He'd been watching over her since her sandbox years; he cheered for her, defended her, kept her out of trouble. He was the big brother she never had. Later, in a sense, he'd saved her life.
Not that she was ever suicidal. But she had been increasingly dead on the inside, those years after high school. Kim -- her best friend, his sister -- had moved hours away, for college, but Izzy's parents had an iron grip on their only child. They were deeply religious and just as strict. Even after she turned 18 they forbade her most anything a "normal" girl her age would want to do.
So Izzy took the only work she could find -- a menial desk job in that same rural town she'd lived her whole life. She put pennies away as much as she could, but she was making minimum wage and working part time, and her parents had begun collecting rent -- she suspected to maintain control over her. It would be a very long time before she could make an escape, at that rate.
The year of her 20th birthday, both Kim and Alex Cain had come home for the holidays. Despite the cold, the three of them sat in a park on the edge of town. They each took pulls from a bottle of whiskey, passed around covertly in a brown paper bag. It was the most daring moment of Izzy's life, she remembered thinking.
They talked all night, and Izzy must have gotten pretty buzzed, because the next thing she remembered, she was waking up in the Cain's guest bedroom and, apparently, Alex had invited her to stay with him in Chicago. She didn't remember the details of his offer, but it didn't matter. She agreed without a hint of hesitation.
Then, he did even more than pull her out of that brand of hell. Alex lived in a warehouse that he'd converted to a studio/loft. He was an artist, and he knew that Izzy had always had an untapped creative side. So he hooked her up with some canvas and paint, gave her space and an easel, and made her work at it. He coached her, he encouraged her, he taught her how to deal with galleries and contracts and mission statements. Five years down the road, she had her foot in the art world door. They still shared the same home, and no matter how helpful of a roommate or friend she tried to be, Izzy felt she'd never truly be able to repay her debt to him.
Alex tapped her forearm to signal it was time. She screamed and squeezed the bulb in three quick bursts so the blood would squirt like a severed artery. There was an audible shriek from the audience.
"So I thought," Alex continued where he left off as soon as the crowd has passed, "that if you had someone to talk with, about safety, someone to ask questions of...I thought it would be helpful. Less dangerous. Dammit, Iz, the thought of you talking to wannabe's like that creep -- I had to do something. I had no choice."
Izzy bit her lower lip. "You seriously just...shat all over any kind of privacy, that I might wanted to keep. And why they hell tell me now?"
The corner of his mouth turned up. "I thought I might have better luck actually having a conversation with you if you couldn't get away."
The way her leg fit into the hole in the table, she couldn't easily get out without help. "Just more proof that you're an asshole," Izzy spat, but her tone lacked venom. "I can buy that you wanted to help keep me safe. I'll even concede that I probably needed some small, tiny amount of that help," she held her thumb and forefinger a centimeter apart, "but --"
The earpiece crackled; another crowd. She closed her eyes.
* * * * * * *
In the silence she realized that her heart was thumping in her chest. The enormity of what had transpired between her and "Brandon" washed over her.
It was true, for the first three or four weeks, "Brandon" had spoken with her as a mentor to the lifestyle. They talked about how and why things worked, terminology, standard practices, that sort of thing. He'd spent a lot of time coaching her on the best way to find a Dom, what to look for and what should raise red flags, all in a manner as if he himself wasn't interested in filling that role for her.
But the closer they became, the more Izzy knew she wanted to lose her bondage virginity to him. It was Izzy herself who began to change the direction of their conversations. She tried to egg him on.
She began to tell him about her preferences. She asked him personal questions, intimate questions. Then it was his name featured as the protagonist in the stories she wrote him, in full blown erotica. For a few weeks, he didn't encourage her, exactly, though he certainly didn't stop her.
Finally, he showed a sign of cracking. He wrote: Do you know what I love most about nectarines? I like how they make you wait. You buy one, and it's always still hard when you get bring it home, right? And you have to set it aside, and check it every day until it gets softer. And after a week or so, you know that it's ripe and you can start to get the scent of it. But you also know that if you wait one or two more days, it will be so sweet and ripe that when you bite into it, the juices will roll down your chin, and that perfect scent will fill your nose, and the flesh will dissolve in your mouth like cream and honey. Nectarines are like rewards for patience.
Her screen name was Nectarine. Izzy knew in that moment that she had him hooked.
Alex signaled her with a tap; her eyes popped open. This time she turned to face him, to search his face for something behind the layers of thick make-up. She screamed and squeezed the bulb, and waited until they were alone again.
"Why didn't you stop it?" She blurted out before she could stop herself. Her voice sounded more haunted than the scene they were playing. "Why did you let it go on so long?"
His eyes flicked to hers, and then away. He let out a thick breath, and then brought his eyes to hers again. Held them there. "I got carried away... I couldn't stop."
There was no trace of jest in his voice, yet Izzy couldn't quite believe what she thought she was hearing. ~No. I must be making it up. My brain must be fevered,~ she told herself.
Izzy first developed a crush on Alex when she was a teen. Back then, she knew there was no way a twenty year-old man would be interested in a thirteen year-old girl, so she filed it under fantasy. Later, when she moved in with Alex, she firmly decided that no way, no how would she allow her physical attraction to him interfere with what had to be the luckiest break a girl from her cow town had ever gotten. So, again, it was fantasy realm; she was so resigned to it that she'd practically forgotten it. Almost.
"What do you mean?" Izzy's voice was a dry whisper.
His eyes were still on hers. Her visual memory filtered out the theatrical make-up and filled in the charming, handsome features of his face. "I realized something, Iz," his voice was warm and steady. She could see he was fighting a smile. "You are mine." The way he pinned her in place with his eyes left her no doubt to what degree he meant it.
The rush started in her throat and coursed through her body in a heartbeat. When the tingling waves settled, she felt the heat of her being, centered in the wet flush of her core.
A voice crackled in his earpiece. "Dammit," he muttered under his breath.
* * * * * *
He leaned over to whisper in her ear, quickly, before the next group filtered in. "Only two more groups for the night, kitten."
A fresh shiver of heat spread through her body. She was glad that the room was dim and her panties were black, or her wetness might have been found out by a room full of strangers. She shut her eyes tight and willed them to move through quickly.
She became aware of another sensation. Her left arm, the arm that was dangling over the far edge of the table, was being touched. Stroked, really. Alex used the tips of his fingers to taunt her with the lightest, slowest sensation, hidden from view by the table. He was tracing the veins from her wrist to her inner elbow. And her every nerve ending was on fire from that simple touch.
The nervous part of her mind -- the practical side that, for years, had blocked any thought of Alex in any realm beyond friendship -- was trying to break through the heat of her sensations. But her mind was flooded with drunken fog, her body was swelling alive; there was no place for cold logic amidst the delectable tension of that moment.
Too soon, his touch changed to a light tap. This time, her terrified scream sounded more like a frustrated squeal. She was a terrible actress, but it didn't matter. It was a stupid haunted warehouse. And the night was almost over.
When the footsteps retreated, and Alex was at her side again, she turned to him. Her eyes darted nervously around his grotesque face. "How much of 'Brandon' was real, Alex?" she asked softly.
"Almost all of him."
"So you...you are...you like --"
She recognized his wry smile even under the face paint. "Are you trying to ask me if I'm as kinky as Brandon was?"
Slowly, she nodded.
"Every bit as. His words, his tastes, his fantasies -- all 100% mine." After 'Brandon' had broken down, he began to admit his desires in achingly lucid detail. Izzy suddenly knew ~a lot~ more about Alex than she did two seconds ago.
Alex traced her collarbone lightly with his forefinger, the touch something between a tickle and a promise. "How does that make you feel?" He asked lightly, but with grin of a smug devil.
Her body shivered, she licked her lips. She was searching for the right words when the message came through Alex's earpiece.
His hands left her skin; he slipped back into his role with a slight nod.
* * * * * * *
Izzy could have burst through her skin, right then and there. It was so overwhelming, she briefly distracted herself with the image of it. ~Would literally bursting through my skin create a more terrifying gore than the scene I'm in now? Maybe if I could burst on cue, right in front of the onlookers.~ Oddly, the morbid thought helped her steady her breath, these images lighter and easier to handle than what was really happening.
She wasn't afraid of what he might do to her, physically. She didn't doubt that, in this moment, he wanted her as much as she did him. What weighed heavily on her mind, she realized in a sudden flash of clarity, was that this would change everything.
Her best friend would become something else.
No turning back.
She had a choice. She could cower away in an attempt to keep their friendship out of danger. ~Things hadn't gone so far that they couldn't recover, right?~ Or she could be brave and rush forth in what could be a foolish moved based on lust and little else. Her body was already hungry, starving for the next step. Any sort of middle ground she imagined she knew would be a fiction.
* * * * * * *
Alex tipped his hand at his own eagerness by giving her the cue to scream far too early. He chased the final group of the night out of the room with urgency.
Alone. They were alone.
Alex lifted the wig from his head to reveal his dark, mopish curls beneath. He bent the arm attached to his earpiece so the mouthpiece was in place. He tapped his foot as he looked at his watch for sixty long seconds. They were the second to last room of The Very Spooky Warehouse of Maniacal Horrors; he was waiting for the guests to be clear of the building entirely.
"Okay, that's it for the night," his voice broadcast to the all the crew leaders. "Thank you all, once again, and we'll be seeing you here next Thursday at your appointed times. Just leave the costumes and props behind, I'll worry about tidying up over the week. Cheers."
His eyes were plastered on her through the whole speech. Normally, Alex had his crew help with the clean up before leaving for the night. But he wanted them gone, now.
He removed his lab coat and switched the channel on the talkie. "Dan? I'm headed to the entrance now to grab the bank, okay?"
Alex paused in front of Izzy before he left the room. "Don't move," he teased with a smile.
* * * * * * *
He'd only be gone for three or four minutes, but still, Izzy cursed him for it. She'd been laying in the same position since the last break, two hours ago. Now he was making her wait longer. She knew he was doing it to tease her, to make her stew in her desire.
To let her ripen. Like a nectarine.
Her mind swirled with thoughts as her body squirmed, flashing images and daydreams like slides through a carousel. Bondage was something she lusted for since she began to have sexual thoughts, and it was true that Alex had played the leading man in many of her fantasies. She never even dared to hope that he might have the same tastes as she did. A part of her still expected this to be a grand gag. ~No, Alex isn't that cruel~ she thought. The sounds of his foot steps approaching ripped her back to the present.