Kitty & Teddy, LLC Ch. 05bypocketrocket©
Interlude: 25th Anniversary
"Looking back from 25 years, it seems obvious that an informal family came together that week. Well, partly formal, since Dad did propose to and marry Mom. But, many of the people that came and went through my childhood, first met that week. After all, I do call Francine Martel, star of stage and screen, Aunt Frannie. Jason Porter and Christine Collins met that week, though, of course, I called her Nanny CC. Back then, she doubled as Mom's secretary and maid."
Chapter 9 -- Slippery Little Details
Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.
For once, I was awake before the alarm, after spending time with Sean. I was laying in bed, remembering and thinking. My stars, did I actually do some of those things? If it had been anonymous, things would not be so bad, but I had called Julian over, which made certain I was recognized. If I did not feel so fantastic, I would want to crawl under the bed.
I did feel fantastic. There was something about time with Sean and getting quality sleep. Even last night, after an horrific day, I slept like a rock. I smiled, recalling waking up in Sean's shirt. As Francine had pointed out, it was literally the shirt off his back. This morning was the first time he had left me completely naked. There had to be a moral in there some where.
I could feel a small smile twitch at my face. There were blurry aspects to last night, but not everything. I remembered going for ice cream and flashing the window attendant. I remembered curling up in Sean's lap and wallowing in his enveloping presence. I remembered him pulling off his jacket (my jacket if you want to be picky, but the one he was wearing) and using it to cover me, as he half-carried me to my apartment. I remembered him standing over me, muttering to himself. I remembered the last two things he said, under his breath: "I love this woman." then "What the fuck do I do now?"
Sean is such a teddy bear.
Wednesday broke like a fine china plate. What had been a whole, recognizable life, was suddenly a jigsaw puzzle of tiny pointed shards. The only two things that I was certain about were, #1) I had fallen hard for Sheila Schwartz and #2) I had a company to run, which I could not do from bed. Through the long a sleepless night, I had been wrestling with #1. It was time to address #2, which meant I needed to start the ball rolling on #1.
Note to self: research Victorian protocols of courting and nuptials. While researching, include famous romantic weddings, and get photographs. Humorous side comment: a true Victorian wedding dress almost certainly required a corset. A wedding would also required a ring.
I wondered if I already owned a suitable ring. One of the advantages of doing substantial estate sales is a residue of quality goods, with no particular home. John could pull a visual inventory in minutes. Now that I thought of it, there might even be a suitable gown. Who could I get to vet my choices? Sheila, obviously, would be perfect for the job, and completely unsuitable. While there was a twisted irony about asking her to choose her own wedding gown, I did not think I could fool her for even a moment. However, the corset maker, Julian, might have some good ideas and she was already expecting me to contact him. I would have Helen handle it, to get at least a little distance.
Lord Almighty, I did not want to go to work.
My day was blocked out like a NASA launch. Every moment til 5:00 PM was accounted for. Much of this was from clients I had rescheduled from Monday or Tuesday, plus meetings with Justin's team and/or Sean. I would have zero time for the usual paper and photo work, which would take me well into the evening. Oh well. It was the price of being a sole proprietor.
When I arrived at work, CC was waiting outside. For some reason, my new assistant had slipped my mind. I sent her to look around the studio for a few minutes, while I called Francine.
Phone: This is Francine Martel. Please leave your name and number
"Damn it Francine, that was not funny the first time you tried it, twenty years ago. I was calling about how things went with CC last night."
Phone: Holy Shit, Schwartz. What bee got under your bra strap?
"Francine Vivian Martel, cut the bullshit. I just saw her. The look on her face is one I have only seen one other place, and that one came after a religious experience."
Phone: No shit. When?
"Monday. It was Jason. I almost cried myself to sleep, after what I did to that boy."
Phone: Ease up Sheila. All I did was strip her down, like you said, pose her, like you said, and use some clothes pins and spank her a bit.
"Clothes pins? If I wanted you to use clamps, I would have sent them. Still, that is not too bad. How much did you have her pose?"
Phone: Only a couple.
"Two. Oh my stars. Francine, how long was she in the poses?"
Phone: The first one was pretty long. I got caught up and couldn't get back.
"Oi fucking vey. Let me guess, you left her alone for half an hour."
Phone: Well, no. It was more like an hour.
"OK. I get the picture. If you recall, Herr Gruber would only use isolation in extreme cases, and never for more than ten minutes. What part of 'newbie on her first day' did you not get?"
Phone: Ask her about the second pose. She got into that one.
"Oi vey ist mir. I have to go."
Have I mentioned Francine is from another planet? Either that, or she was dropped on her head, repeatedly.
I found CC exactly where I expected her to be, in the studio, staring at the equipment. I needed to find out if she had been injured in any way. CC's dreamy Zen quality was a bit unnerving to me, especially after recently getting the same thing from Jason. That could wait. For the moment, I wanted to see the second position Francine had taught her. So I said, "Show me the second position."
Without a word, CC started to take off her clothing. I said, "Clothed is sufficient this time." CC nodded and dropped to her knees, then spread her knees apart, sat back on her heels, and reached behind her back, grasping both elbows. Within a second, she was settled in and looked ready to spend some serious time unmoving. I kicked off my shoes and dropped into it myself. It truly was not uncomfortable, but this was not a time for meditation.
I said, "This is good. You clearly have an aptitude for it. We will continue to call it Second Position. It happens to also be a traditional slave position. It exposes the sex, while thrusting the breasts forward and keeping the arms from covering up. I suggest spending time in it daily, as a reminder. Now, I will show you, very briefly, First Position. We do not have time to study right now, but I will expect you to become proficient with it."
With that, I rose, presented to the bar, and went through one full repetition of First Position. That done, I led her through the rabbit hole, into the vanilla world of XTreme Fitness. Our first stop was to visit Marcia, the Assistant Manager on duty that morning. I told Marcia that the General Manager had sent CC to me, for training. This was unusual, but it had happened before. I asked Marcia to put CC on the payroll, at entry salary, with paperwork to follow. That made one more thing to do, after hours.
Then, I took CC to ProShop, the gym's in house store. I outfitted CC with a workout outfit, shoes and a padlock. All this I charged to the GM account. Sometimes it can be convenient to have a never seen alter ego. At that point, I would have given CC the tour, but I had a client to meet. I pointed her to the locker room, and told her to find me when she was finished.
Martha was a workout only client, one of only two. She and I had worked together for ten years, through three gyms and two of Martha's pregnancies. For a long time, I wished she would drop me, or choose another personal trainer, so I would have more time for my dual purpose clients. Lately, I was of another mind. Until Francine dropped back into my life, Martha was as close as I had to a friend. If I ever got married, I would ask Martha to be one of my matrons. This has a downside. One look at me, and Martha knew that something was up.
Her opening remark was, "My God, Sheila, what has been going on? You are glowing, but conflicted as hell." Martha has a PhD in children's therapy, and operates one of the better clinics in town. I have never been able to hide anything from her, except my studio clients, and I am not sure about those. Rather than give background, I went straight to the point. "Sean Richards."
Her mouth did an O, but she recovered quickly. "Just how well do you know the 'Bear of Franklin Avenue', and how long?"
"Just over a week, and pretty well. He took me to a concert and dinner over the weekend, and dinner last night."
"Hmm. No and yes. There is a definite sexual element to the relationship, but it has not been formally consummated. He gives incredible massages. Oh, and he's a teddy bear."
"Not if you listen to some of my parents. He has a reputation for being ruthless. I did not refer to him as a bear for no reason. He also has a reputation for hiring people that no one else even considers. Has he tried to hire you?"
Martha dropped the weights. She sat up on her bench and stared at me. Then her gaze turned speculative. "And?"
"He is considering offering me a long term position, I think."
"Hail Mary, full of grace. Finally. Do not frighten me like that." She lay back and put her hands on the bar. "Where was I?"
"You were at ten, but do an extra five to balance the pause." CC came into the room. "By the way, Sean sent me CC as an assistant. I am training her in training. Martha this is Christine Collins. CC, Martha Douglas. Martha is one of my longest continuous clients."
Martha said, "CC, take note of how she said that. Most fitness coaches would have said 'oldest clients'. Diplomacy is never a bad idea. She is a slave driver, but you knew that, did you not?"
CC colored brightly, but said nothing.
Maratha looked back to me."Richards can certainly pick them, and he obviously knows you well, already."
"Enough talk Martha. Save your breath for correcting my anatomy references. You will, in the next 30 minutes, be demonstrating every major muscle group, starting with pectorals. CC, notice how this exercise works the pectoral muscles, here and here. Secondary benefit is to the abdominal muscles, here, and to the forearms. Push Martha. I need you to show some muscle definition, for CC's sake."
Once I arrived at work, things improved. I received good news from several directions. My University Chancellor was much more encouraging. While he had initially been interested in period documents, such as the Marquis' letter, his social science departments were gaga over the ritual and fetish pieces. At least two of the pieces, were referenced in period writings, but had never been examined. Professional quality, measured photographs, would be well received. The Chancellor also had people that wanted to discuss virtual books, so I referred his people to my people.
On the licensing end, we had only a couple of hold outs. Much of the written erotica was unpublished, so copyrights had run in the shortest time possible. This made the intellectual content part of the public domain. Of the relatively few that still had copyrights in force, most were willing to allow photographic reproduction rights. As a bonus, each item was getting "Reprint rights transfer with sale" added to the item description. No one expected this information to hurt the selling price.
On another front, Harold Johnstead, my printer, was overjoyed to get off square one. He was requesting a formal meeting of with the photographic team. I informed him that I had hired an Art Director, with full creative control, but said she would not be available til Thursday. This received a mixed reaction. Harold 's people were reluctant to accept a meeting with a veto power absent, but they were overjoyed that the veto was no longer in my hands. The tentative meeting was moved to 11:00 AM, on the hopes that Sheila could swing by.
Justin and Peter informed me that the layouts were basically ready to go, but that final choice of shots needed to be made. Peter was adamant that Sheila do this in person. In his words, Sheila was "a freaking genius at this. I could not do it half as well." I informed Justin and Peter that they were meeting with the printers and that Sheila would likely not be able to attend. Peter was unfazed. He said that it was normal for "the Boss Lady" to attend, but the real decisions were still down the road. I told them that George would pick them up at 10:45 AM.
Curtis called with contract language for me to approve. Jordan Hayes called to finalize monetary exchange protocols. Gerald called concerning extra security, which we were hiring for the date of the sale. The caterers and rental people called, to finalize set up and tear down times. One thing after another fell into place.
Suddenly, I had time on my hands, relatively speaking. My thoughts went to Sheila and I realized that I had decided to propose marriage. Odd, that I had not noticed the decision, at the time. Something, from the conversations that morning, had jarred my memory. Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning had spent their married life in Italy. Some years before, a collection of personal items and papers had gone to auction. My firm had handled the American releases and acted as intermediary for some of the successful bidders. I still had contact information in my files.
Several phone calls later, I had the opportunity to purchase a folding fan, which Elizabeth Barrett-Browning had carried in Italy and one of Elizabeth's personal datebooks. From another source, I was able to obtain a good photograph of her favorite choker brooch. I considered buying the fan, but Sheila did not play coy. The datebook was nice, but it was from later in Elizabeth's life, and not associated with her wedding. However, the choker brooch was central to many of her images, both painted and photographic.
I emailed the image to Francis, my jewelry expert and asked about getting a good reproduction made. On a whim, I asked about vintage Claddagh rings. Within minutes, he called me back, saying that a famous ring was up for sale. It had been given by William Trent, 3rd Earl of Clancarty, to his bride Sarah Butler, in 1832. I told him to buy it and send it to me, overnight delivery. I also told him to make a good reproduction of the Barrett choker, unless he could find a comparable period piece.
Then it was off to see the printers. For once, I went to a meeting feeling that I had accomplished something.
After Martha, the morning passed without much fuss. Since all my other appointments were for dual purpose clients, they assumed that CC would handle most of the gym side of things, while I handled the studio. It was an idea with some merit, though I was not yet ready to commit to it. For one thing, it was painfully clear that CC would need considerable training herself. Also, her fitness was not at level I demanded of my clients, much less the gym staff.
However, through the course of the morning, I did come to know CC much better. To say she was shy and quiet was an understatement. She reminded me of Sean's assistant Helen, who thought three words was a long speech. Under all that quiet lurked a fierce drive. No one had taught her about goals, and goal planning, but she would perform any assigned task exactly, or pass out still trying. I told her that she would spend much of the afternoon bound and gagged, while I handled clients. CC's only response was a flaring of the nostrils and deepening of her breath.
At 9:55 AM, I had a moment to check my messages. One was from Sean, saying that the meeting with the printers had been moved to 11:00, in the hopes that I could make it. That almost worked. I messaged back that he could have a car pick me up at 11:30, if it also brought lunch. At 11:25, I gave CC ten dollars and told her to get lunch, something light, and meet me at 12:15 in front of my studio.
At 11:35 AM, I was in the back of Sean's Mercedes, putting the finishing touches on my young executive look. Lunch turned out to be a Cianfrani sandwich, with a side of cut veggies, nonfat yogurt and two bottles of water. When George let me out, I told him that half the sandwich was his, as well as a bottle of water. The other bottle, mostly empty, I carried with me.
Sean met me at the door. On the way in, he explained that this was a meeting for the basic layouts, which Peter had handled quite well. Hopefully there was nothing left but rubber stamping. Fortunately, given my time constraints, this proved accurate. I was introduced to all the players in the printing staff, except the owner, and they to me. Somewhere along the way, my empty bottle was exchanged for a full one. I officially gave my approval of the work to that point, then begged off for my afternoon clients.
On the way out, Sean introduced me to Harold Johnstead, the owner. Harold happened to be one of my long term clients. I winked at him, when he did not recognize me. When he turned red, I explained to his aides that we had met at XTtreme Fitness. He had not recognized me, I suggested, in business attire. I left the meeting confident in improved cooperation from the printer.
Once back at the studio, I let in CC and sent her to strip naked. While she was gone, I readied the whipping horse, which is much like it sounds. It is an oversized carpenter's horse, with sides that spread the legs, and lots of places tie things. It would not be comfortable for CC, since I had five 30 minute appointments, but I could afford to leave her there the whole time. Once she was gagged and mounted, I went to fix my look for the first session.
The whole afternoon was a success. Rather than conceal CC, as I originally intended, I informed everyone that I had a new assistant, in training. Then I led them out to meet her, which introduced CC in a non threatening manner. Considering the nature of my business, emotional security is critical. It also gave me an interesting read, on how each client viewed his relationship to me. Some viewed CC as protected, since I had laid claim to her. Others viewed her as inferior, since she was bound and they were not, yet.
My favorite reaction came first. Reuben wanted to be mounted face to face with her. That was physically impossible, but I managed a reasonably good imitation. As a reward, I stuck two condom covered fingers into CC's cunt, and placed it under Rueben's nose, while I administered his caning. What interested me was watching CC's eyes, while I beat Reuben to orgasm.
Eventually, the client sessions were all complete. I removed CC's gag, but CC said nothing. I put my hand against her face and she pressed into it like cat, waiting to be stroked.
I shook my head and said, "I just do not have time for you right now. So I am going to treat you to a taste and then ask you a question. I am leaving the gag off, but the gym is through that wall. I think you understand what I a saying." CC's eyes got impossibly wider, but she nodded. "Last chance. After I do this, if I do this, you will be going over to the warehouse. You know the nature of the work there. This will make it very difficult to sit down." CC nodded, without hesitation. Was I ever that young? "OK then."