Valerie Ch. 10bydweaver999©
Rebirth of Hope
Valerie woke to the sensation of being kissed lightly on the lips. Her eyes fluttered open to see Sally's face practically inside her own, lips brushing against hers. She kissed back, opening her mouth to let their tongues greet each other properly.
"How's that for an alarm clock?" Sally asked.
"Mmmm. So much better than my beeper alarm. What time is it?"
"A little after 7:00. You've got two and a half hours until your interview."
"Plenty of time. Shower?"
"Talked me into it."
They took another joint shower, the last, they hoped, where they couldn't take the time for some morning delight under the spray. They had a busy day planned. Valerie had her interview at Delgrasi Publications, they were picking up Francine, the new hot water heater was due in, and Sally was planning to call all the utilities to set them up in their name.
"Valerie, how's your back?"
"It's a little tight. I think the scars might be firming up. I should see Helen next week to make sure that they are healing properly. I'm not sure she had moving in mind when she told me to take things easy."
"Probably not. Add to that, we're getting auctioned off tomorrow after our handfasting."
"Do you have any idea what Master is planning?"
"Not a clue. He's very good at keeping things close to his chest. It'll be special, that's all I can tell you to expect."
They'd been dressing while they talked and Valerie asked, "How's this for an interview?" Valerie had put on one of her business suits, a navy blue pair of slacks, short sleeve tan blouse, and, as a nod to her submissive nature, black three inch heels.
"You look great, very professional. I like the heels. You know, after Saturday, you'll be wearing your collar 24/7. Maybe you should wear a collar to the interview, to let them know who they are actually hiring?"
"I thought of that. I'm just not sure a leather collar is right."
"It's more honest than none at all."
Agreeing, she looked in her drawers for the collar she had worn to Divine's Devils earlier this week. Just as she found it (under some boxes), the doorbell rang. Sally answered it and then called out, "Valerie, it's for you."
She went to the door and there was a man from a courier service. "Ms. Burbon?"
"Delivery for you. Sign here."
She took the form and signed. There was no return address on it. The package was heavier than she expected for its size. Thanking him, she took it to the bedroom, the only room that was livable right now, and opened it up. Inside was a teak wood box, engraved with a drawing of a naked woman, hands bound above her head and feet spread. The box alone was beautiful. The contents were even more spectacular. The collar, four cuffs, and small key lay in a velvet lining inside the box. The words engraved into the collar were simple, yet elegant, "Valerie, slave of Master Charles," with the 'of' centered in the tag space below 'Valerie, slave' and above 'Master Charles'. The O in of was a small ring that a leash could be attached to. She picked up the collar and saw the exquisite engraving of the bound women, clearly naked, but not in any sense pornographic. Tears came to her eyes as she handled the silver collar.
"Valerie, those are so beautiful. Was Rachael worth it?"
"If I'd known they were so lovely, I would've been willing to walk out of there naked. Would you put them on me? I want to see how they look on me."
"Sure. Hand me the key."
Valerie picked up the key. That simple act felt so wrong that she couldn't pass it on to Sally fast enough. Sally unlocked the collar and slipped it around Valerie's neck, noting how cleverly the hinges had been blended into the bindings between the women figures on the surface. When Sally closed it, the click sounded incredibly loud in Valerie's ears. She let out a breath she hadn't known she was holding. The process repeated for each of the cuffs. All of them fit perfectly, snug, yet not too tight.
Valerie went into the bathroom and looked at herself in the mirror. The tears that had started were freely flowing. Sally came in behind her, holding her shoulders. "Why the tears?"
"I'm so happy. I was worried about how I would feel. Nothing I've ever worn was so right on me. I love him. I want him to know how much so bad."
"He'll know, he'll know."
"I want to wear them to the interview. Can you keep the key safe? It feels so wrong for me to even touch it, let alone carry it with me."
"I'd be honored. You're right. You should wear this collar to the interview. You are the perfect vision of who you are: the submissive professional. If they won't hire you because of these, they don't deserve you."
"Thanks. I'd better control myself or I will never get my makeup right."
They finished getting ready for the day and Sally drove Valerie to the Delgrasi corporate headquarters. As planned, she arrived an hour early, giving her a chance to look through all twelve publications. All of them were of the same quality as the Sappho Digest she had been shown by Rachael and Giggy. She would have no problem being associated with any of these publications, even the ones that were obviously ones she would never subscribe to, like The Gay Gentleman.
She also took hope from the receptionist. Like Valerie, she was professionally dressed, with a very erotic look to her outfit. She also had noticeable nipple piercings and a small silver collar made to look like entwined ropes. Her name badge identified her as Erika. She had noted the collar on Valerie's neck.
"That's a very lovely collar. May I?"
Valerie nodded, lifting her chin to give her a better look at the engraving.
"Master Charles must care for you very much."
"He does, though he didn't give me this. It's going to be my gift to him tomorrow at Mephisto's."
"You're that Valerie! I had no idea. Master, my sister slaves, and I are going to be there. And you're surprising him with these? You must love him very much."
"Yes, I do. May I ask who your Master is?"
"I serve Master Damien. He's very demanding and very special." The look on her face was almost dreamy when she mentioned him.
"I'll let you get back to work. I want to look over some of the publications, get a feel for them. If I get hired, would you want to talk about our experiences? I'm still new at this. I've been submitting for almost a month."
"I would love to. I'm always looking for new ways to show my submission to Master."
The hour she waited passed fast, her professional eye making observations about the magazines. She made notes for some ideas she had for improving advertising in them. The interview committee consisted of three women and two men. They gave her one of the most grueling interviews she had ever experienced. It was clear that they knew their stuff and would not accept anything but the best for the position. She was asked to explain every item in her portfolio, the reasons for various decisions made and why the item was in the portfolio at all. They quizzed her on her knowledge of their magazines, making her glad she had come as early as she had. They even had three different advertisements that she had to come up with ways to improve their presence in a given magazine. The whole process took three hours, leaving her sore, exhausted, and much fulfilled. She just knew that this job would be demanding and fulfilling.
Throughout the interview, no mention was made of her collar and cuffs, until the last questions. One of the women, a redhead with a hint of tattoo showing on her shoulder asked, "Ms. Burbon, do you believe that a slave collar and cuffs are appropriate attire for a professional advertising executive?"
Valerie took a deep breath and gave the answer she had mentally prepared. "Ma'am, for me it is. Who I am is equally made up of my identity as an advertising executive, my identity as my Master's submissive, and my identity as my lover's life partner. I intend to give my Master these as a gift of devotion tomorrow at a ceremony at Mephisto's. After that, only he will be able to remove them. So, if you decide to hire me, you'll get the submissive along with the executive. It seemed only fair that I let you know that before you hire me. I'd rather not be hired and then be fired on my first day on the job."
One of the men responded to her answer. "Are you willing to assume yet another identity, that of a public face for the magazines that you'll be representing?"
"That's why I came early to look through your publications. What I see in them are very professional magazines that I would be honored to represent in any capacity. If my advertising expertise can improve them in any way, so much the better."
"If you'll wait outside for a minute, I think we can let you know about our decision shortly."
Back out in the lobby, she paced, nervous about the process. She thought the interview had gone well, but you never know. She could get no read on them during the interview, partly because they had her racing a mile a minute with their questions. Ten minutes later, she was invited back in.
"Ms. Burbon, of all the applicants, you're advertising qualifications were second to only one other applicant. There were numerous people who had more familiarity with the readers of our magazines and their interests, but most had only limited advertising experience. Of our top five candidates, we selected the one who most demonstrated an ability to be proud of working for Delgrasi Publications. Can you start Monday?"
Five full seconds passed as she took in the meaning of her words. She was hired! "Yes. I can start Monday. When does the business day start here?"
"Normal operations start at 8:00. However, you'll need to come in at 6:00 for two weeks. You're going to get the crash course in the company. Erika knows everything there is to know about the company, probably more than we would be comfortable with if we knew the actual extent. In two weeks, you'll know as much about our operations and the publications as any of the other applicants. You'll need to hire your own secretary. Erika can provide some basic support until you do. It's a pleasure to welcome you aboard."
He shook her hand and she said, "It's a pleasure and an honor to be on board."
"Oh, by the way. You'll be on the cover of the next issue of The Sensible Submissive. We have a man covering your handfasting ceremony. I think the article's working title is, 'Delgrasi Employee Finds Love and Domination'."
"I'll try to be early enough that he can get an interview in before the ceremony starts," she said with a smile. She though to herself, "It might also be the only clothed shot he could get for the cover."
On her way out, she gave Erika, who was on the phone, a thumbs-up, getting a little flick of the wrist, as if a whip was being struck, back. She had her cell phone out to call a cab, when she saw that Sally was already there in the car.
"Hurry up. We can just make the hospital in time to pick up Francine."
"You're a doll. I was worried I wouldn't make it in time. I got it. They hired me!"
"That's wonderful! You start Monday?"
"Yes, 6:00 am. Two weeks of intensive 'this is the company you work for' and then I get two more hours of sleep each night. Do you have the key? We should get these back in the box for tomorrow."
"Oops. I left the box, with the key, on the bed. Sorry."
"That's okay. I'm comfortable wearing them. I just don't want to ruin the surprise for Master."
The drive went fast, making all the lights. It seemed fate, or some deity, wanted them to have a good day. They found a space near the entrance and managed to make Francine's room by 1:50. Francine and Helen were there.
"Okay, Francine, you need to be careful. You're still weak from the blood loss. No heavy lifting, no strenuous exercise, and absolutely no play. Do you understand?"
"Yes, Helen. I can't be trusted to play anyway. And yes, I will see Dr. Gloush." She noticed the two ladies and exclaimed, "Valerie, Sally, you made it. Valerie, what are those? They're so lovely. Charles gave you those?"
"No, I'm giving them to him tomorrow. I wore them to my interview so they could see who they hired."
"Hired? You got the job! Congratulations. I know you'll love it there. Did you meet Erika?"
"Yes. She seems very…exuberant."
"Yes. Her Master is very different from yours. They're both good, but different."
Sally asked Helen, "Is she cleared to go? We want to get her out of here. People die in hospitals, you know."
"Yes, she's checked out. Enjoy tonight. I'll see you tomorrow."
As they were riding the elevator down, Francine explained, "I have a psychiatrist now. Charles found someone who, while not in the lifestyle, understands it and is willing to treat me. He has me started on anti-depressants. I'm not sure they're working, but I've only been taking them for a day."
They had reached the main lobby and were exiting the hospital. Valerie explained, "We got some of your stuff moved to the house. Your…"
Francine stiffened, halting them on the steps. Valerie was one step below the other two. A police officer was walking towards them, holding a sheaf of papers. Then Francine uttered a word that chilled all three to the bones. "Harv!"
Sally would later swear that time seemed to slow down, letting her observe every detail of the next three seconds. Harv pulling a hand out of his coat, a revolver swinging towards Francine. The officer dropping the papers and drawing his own Glock. Francine freezing and screaming in terror. Valerie putting her hands out, stepping in front of Francine, yelling, "No!" Sally herself shoving Francine to the side, falling as she did. Then time snapped back with the pop of the .22 and the roar of the Glock sounding in rapid succession. Sally turned from her fallen position and saw both Harv and Valerie lying on the ground. Valerie had her hand to her throat, mouth moving but no sound coming out.
Her own voice was loud, the terror wrenching from deep in her heart. "Valerie! No!" Sally and Francine, both weeping in gasping sobs, crawled to Valerie.
"Valerie, no! Don't die. You can't die. I just found you. Please God, anything, you can have anything, just don't let her die!"
"Don't you dare die on me. I can't do this without you. You brought me back. Please Valerie, come back to me."
The two women were despondent, unable to fathom their friend and lover being taken from them so suddenly. The cop, recovering the gun from where Harv had dropped it, was on his radio. "This is Officer Williams. Shots fired at County General. Officer involved shooting. Two down: perp and civilian. We need medics here now!"
The blood was seeping out of the hole on Harv's unmoving chest, the hollow point 9 mm doing what it was designed to do. Williams noted in the back of his head that the perp had used a .22. The gun secured and help on the way, he turned towards the downed lady, intending to try to keep her alive long enough for the medics to arrive. The first thing that struck him was the lack of blood. He knelt down next to her. There was a small lead plug stuck in the unusual necklace she had on. She seemed to be having difficulty talking.
"Ladies, let me in here. Ma'am, can you breathe?" Valerie tried to talk, but only a rasping noise came out. "Just nod or shake your head." Valerie nodded. "I don't see any blood. I think your necklace caught the slug."
Sally caught that last bit. "She's okay?"
"I don't know about okay, she's having trouble talking. But she can breathe and there's no blood. This is one lucky lady. Here's the medics. Let them through. Come one people, back off and let the EMTs work, for God's sake." Turning back to Francine and Sally, he asked, "Do you know this guy?"
"He's my former boyfriend. He beat me nearly to death a month ago. I guess he wanted to finish the job." As her grief was ending, knowing that Valerie was going to live, she came face to face with what just happened. She whispered, in awe, "She stood in front of him. She was going to die for me."
"Probably saved your life. Her neck was at your heart level. .22s are not great for killing, but a clean shot to the heart, if it gets past a rib, will do it. What kind of necklace it that, anyway?"
Sally didn't even think of making something up. "It's her slave collar. She's a submissive and was going to give it to her dominant tomorrow."
"Is she the same one that…?"
"She's had a hell of a week. Most people don't have two near brushes with death in their lives, let alone in a week. Tell her to be careful. I don't want to have to respond to the third strike. No one's that lucky."
"We will, Officer."
The medics had finished their work, so they went over to see what was happening. "How is she? Why can't she talk?"
"She'll be fine. We want to take her into emergency, just to be sure. It looks like the impact shoved that necklace against her larynx. Her voice is already coming back. This is one for the record books. I've never seen anything like it. If that thing had not been on her, the bullet would have hit her jugular. As it is, she should be back on her feet in an hour or two. You can go to the ER with her; won't even need an ambulance."
In the ER, they had Helen paged and she was able to check Valerie out. The prognosis was good. "I don't think I've ever heard of a slave collar saving the slave's life before. You've bruised your larynx, I don't want you trying to speak if you can avoid it for the rest of the day. It should be okay by tomorrow afternoon."
Sally commented, "It wouldn't be there if I'd remembered to bring the key with me. We were going to take it off after her job interview."
Unnoticed by anyone but Valerie, Francine had started to cry. Valerie struggled to get up, pulling Francine towards her. Holding her, she let her friend cry, as she had done so many times in the last few weeks.
Through her tears, Francine was desperate to understand. "Why? Why did you do that? You could've died. I don't understand."
Valerie's voice was hoarse. "Love you."
"But, I almost killed you."
"Forgive you. Love you. Worth it."
Sobbing in grief, from the loss of something she knew she once had, an understanding of why Valerie would do such a thing, Francine poured what she could of her heart out. "I've been so scared, of everything. Of Harv. Of feeling anything. Of not feeling. Of losing you. Of not losing you. I don't deserve to live and I'm terrified of dying. Please don't leave me. I couldn't take it if you left me."
Valerie pulled her tight, whispering, "Never."
Sally came behind Francine and hugged them both, adding her own promise, "We'll never leave you, Francine. Let's get you home."
From just outside the treatment room came an "Ahem." The police officer that had prevented Harv from getting a second shot was standing there, holding the papers he had dropped. "Which one of you is Valerie Burbon?"
Valerie raised her hand, trying to not talk. Helen stepped in front of him. "Officer, she was just shot and has a bruised larynx. Can this wait?"
"I know, doctor, I was there. All I need to do is get her signature on her statement about the night of the attack."
"It was not an attack!" Valerie yelled, sort of. A violent coughing fit ensued as her injured vocal cords protested at the violent use.
"Valerie! You shut you mouth. Absolute silence. I'll call Charles if I have to."
Valerie held up her hands in a gesture of surrender. She made a locking motion against her lips.
The officer resumed his attempt to get his job done. "Ma'am, I merely need you to read the statement, confirm that it's accurate, and sign it. Can you do that?"
Valerie nodded her head and read over the document. It was an accurate recounting of what she had told the detective. Indicating with her head that it was good, she signed the statement.