“Good evening, ladies.” Lucian stepped through the door and smiled. “How lovely you both look. I hope you are pleased with your gowns and shoes.”
I clicked my black, stiletto-heeled shoes together three times. “There’s no place like Harrowcroft,” I repeated at each click. We all laughed at my nervous attempt at humor.
“Just one more brief ceremony,” he said, “then we can all join the rest of the guests downstairs.” He strode over to the attaché case lying on the bed and thrust a brass key into its lock. The lid popped up and I gasped. Two sets of collars and eight cuffs like the maid’s lay inside, hungering to wrap themselves around Laura and me.
“What...” I began.
“Hush, Val,” Laura said. “You don’t want Lucian to gag you, too, do you?”
“Please, Madame Vallerie,” the maid said. “It is the Harrowcroft tradition. Think of it as a costume. All the women in Harrowcroft must wear them, so you will not have to feel ashamed.”
I took a deep breath and slowly exhaled, nodding my head. I had to close my eyes as Lucian lifted my collar and closed it around my neck. I shivered instinctively when the lock snapped, trapping me in its grip. It was snug, but not uncomfortable. I felt the cuffs being locked around my wrists, then my ankles.
“Open your eyes, Val,” Laura said. I could feel her breath in my ear.
My eyelids cautiously fluttered open. In the mirror’s reflection I saw myself, and Laura standing beside me. Lucian was fastening her collar around her neck. My hand moved unconsciously, reaching up to finger my collar, and caress the steel ring. The number 1247 gleamed on the metal tag dangling from the collar ring. My other hand touched the wrist cuff, testing its merciless grip.
“How long must I wear these?”
“Until you leave,” Lucian answered. “You will be held prisoner in Harrowcroft for three months, and must wear them every minute of that time.”
I turned toward my friend, doubt and the beginning of dread welling up in my eyes. “Laura, I...”
“We agreed to this, Val. We both signed the consent forms. There is no escape from Harrowcroft, impossible for us to stop what the males enjoy doing to our bodies. It’s impossible to escape, and there are brutal punishments for trying.” Laura closed her eyes and whispered, “That’s what makes it paradise, the wonderful feeling of being horrifically defenseless and tormented physically and sexually, and knowing it will never stop, day and night, as long as we are kept as prisoners here.” She opened her eyes and smiled at me, stoking a soothing hand down my golden hair. “You will be horrified by what the men do with you; you’ll scream and struggle at first, but eventually you will just let it happen to you and enjoy the supreme wonder and joy of naked captivity like I do.”
“What are they going to do to us?”
Laura closed her eyes again and sighed. “Wonderful things!”
Lucian beckoned to us. “Come, my beautiful maidens, its time for us to join the throng for cocktails, then enjoy a delicious dinner in your honor.” He knocked on the knobless door and a man in a black uniform opened it from the other side. The word, ‘discipline’ was engraved on the brass badge he wore above his breast pocket.
We were surrounded by more than a hundred other women guests, all attired in lovely evening gowns with the long split down the center from their waist to the bottom hem. and clasped in collars and cuffs. There was a constant chime as the bells on our ankle cuffs plinked with every step. We had to walk carefully in a failed attempt to keep the split closed., The slit in our gowns separated each time we moved forward, exposing our entire legs, and came dangerously close to revealing a wisp of pubic hair from our unpantied hips as we descended the curving stairway.
The cocktail lounge was huge, and maids scurried through the gathering, distributing delicious drinks in crystal glassware. I sipped mine, nursing it slowly, so I could keep a clear head for the evening. Men in evening clothes circulated among us, introducing their selves to us not by name, but by the number on the metal tag pinned just above the pocket on their dinner jackets.
“You wouldn’t remember all our names, anyway,” one powerfully built, dark-haired man said. “Sometimes even I deliberately forget my name while I’m in Harrowcroft.” He laughed and moved on to another woman while a different man approached who was a short, Oriental-looking, swarthy chunk of flesh, grinning and offering me another drink. It made me tense, the way his dingy yellowed eyes were gazing at my breasts, positioned exactly at his eye-level.
“No thank you.” I turned away, barely escaping his reaching hand.
Laura had wandered off, chattering happily with the other men she had met on previous visits. I saw her in the distance arching her chest forward, displaying her breasts under the shimmering fabric of her green gown.
That’s not the Laura I knew back home. She’s acting the part of a seductress, and playing it very well indeed. I guess she will be sharing her bed with a handsome young man tonight.
“And what about you, my dear? Will you share your evening with me?”
“What?” I whirled around, startled out of my trance. A tall, sandy-haired man stood in front of me, smiling and offering me a cocktail. I took it, gazing stupidly into his deep, cobalt blue eyes. “Sorry, I was...My name is...”
The man quickly pressed his fingers gently on my lips. “No real names, remember?” He tapped the blue-tinted metal tag pinned to his dinner jacket. The number 166 in black-edged gold gleamed up at me. He gave me a pseudo-conspiratorial wink. “Because of what we do to each other, we must all remain anonymous in Harrowcroft.” He spoke with a slight, cultured Italian accent. “We can only call each other by our numbers. Good evening, Miss ‘Twelve-forty-seven’, I am Signor ‘One-sixty-six’.”
He bowed slightly, taking my hand and kissing it. His lips were firm and warm, and made the skin on my arm erupt in goose pimples.
What do men do to us with each other? I wonder what he is planning to do to me? Oh, damn, he is so handsome. He made me feel so shivery when he kissed my hand. “Good evening,” I replied in a shaky voice. “I’m sorry. You see, this is my first visit to Harrowcroft and I don’t know...”
“Of course, of course, Signora. No need to apologize.” He still held my hand in his, and patted the top of it with his other hand. “Perhaps you will permit me to escort you in to dinner, and sit next to you. There is so much excitement to tell about Harrowcroft, and it would delight me to hear your questions.”
He released my hand and reached for another drink from a passing tray. “Ciao,” he said raising his glass to me.
I lifted mine and drained it in a gulp. The room swayed and I pressed my free hand to my forehead.
“Signora, is there any problem?”
“No,” I laughed nervously. “I was just a bit dizzy for a moment, but it passed.” I grinned up at his princely face. “I’m okay now.”
“Splendid,” he replied. “It is the orchids, you know. They are found only here on this island, nowhere else in the world. And they have a powerful effect on us, especially the first-time visitor. Inhaling their fragrance, and drinking cocktails has a powerful effect on our minds.”
My eyes widened and I stared at my empty glass in my trembling hand.
“Do not be alarmed, Signora. The effect is salutary, not harmful at all. I swear there is no harm in it, just a profound change in your attitude and behavior. The effect grows on you as each day passes. By the time you leave three months from now, the effect will be permanent. That will make you feel happy and privileged. You will think of your former life as stupidly wasted years.”
“What kind of effect?”
“I cannot answer that question for your own transformation. I can only speak for its effect on my life.”
“What did it do to you.”
“It opened my eyes and my mind to the delights of the defenseless beauty of women in restraints; especially the physical beauty of a charming woman like yourself.” He kissed my hand again, this time his lips lingered while the tip of his tongue caressed my fingers. The sensation made me quiver all over, and a warm glow ignited in my belly.
“You see, Signora, you respond to the orchid’s enchantment already.” He bowed slightly, “Excuse me, there are other friends I must converse with. I shall rejoin you when we are summoned into the dining room.” He sauntered off, the milling guests closing off my sight of him as he squeezed past them.
When I finished my third martini, I felt relaxed enough to enjoy what surprises might come, without anxiety. Probably I was grinning like a monkey, nodding my approval to every comment made by the other women and men clustering around me.
I noticed all the men nearby gazing at my swelling breasts only half-concealed under my gown, the slit in my gown parting to expose my whole leg as I strolled through the crowd, and the now spicy movement of my hips. They nodded to each other, grinning and exchanging whispers. The only thing that made me feel uneasy about their staring was that it didn’t make me feel uneasy at all. I positively glowed under their excited attentions.
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