returned to the cottage she shared with Susie. She'd
casually poked around the Colony for a little more than an hour,
chatting with the staff and her fellow guests, but hadn't
learned anything relevant to the investigation. Of course,
she hadn't pushed very hard. It wouldn't do to arouse
suspicions. At this stage it wasn't worth the risk of
being labeled a busybody and getting nothing but the cold
shoulder for the rest of the week. She had nothing much to
report to Jane, whenever she got around to briefing her, and
figured she might as well wait until tomorrow.
Ainsley entered her key-code in the cypher-lock pad next to the
cottage door, the tiny red LED above the keypad winked out, the
tiny green LED winked on, and she opened the door... and smiled.
Naked, but for her glasses, Susie was sitting cross-legged on
the carpet in the middle of the common room. Her upper
arms were pinned to her sides by horizontal bands of rope
passing above and below her breasts and her shins were lashed to
their respective thighs. Her wrists appeared to be bound
against her spine, but on closer inspection Ainsley could tell
that the end of the rope lashing Susie's upper arms was wrapped
around her wrists and clutched in her right hand, but there was
no knot. Ainsley surmised she'd tied herself up, as best
she could, following the instructions in the open binder on the
floor at her side.
"Homework?" Ainsley inquired with a grin.
"Yes," Susie confirmed, "as best I can. Learn anything?"
Ainsley walked over and stood in front of the semi-helpless
Susie. "You know in the early chapters of an Agatha
Christie novel when Miss Marple putters around, talks to people,
does her knitting, and sips tea?"
Susie smiled. "And only later realizes that the brand of
marmalade served at the hotel is the critical clue to solving
the murder that hadn't even happened yet when she was sipping
"Exactly," Ainsley chuckled. "I'm at the
"Sweet!" Susie giggled, then heaved a mildly frustrated
sigh. "You can't really do this to yourself, except for
the legs part." Obviously, she was referring to her self
Ainsley knelt and turned the binder so she could read the
page. "Never fear, Ainsley's here."
"My hero," Susie giggled, then frowned. "Or in this
case... my villainess?"
Ainsley smiled. "I'm your study mate." She moved
behind Susie and began unwinding the rope loosely looped around
Susie let her, of course, and smiled as she felt Ainsley
tightening the bands of rope pinning her upper arms. She'd
tried looping the shoulder-yoke, the
under-the-armpits-and-behind-the-neck pass that was supposed to
cinch the horizontal ropes, but had failed. Ainsley
corrected this deficiency. "Oh!" Ainsley had given
the yoking rope a firm tug, significantly tightening the
"Are you all right?" Ainsley asked.
"I'm fine," Susie purred. Ainsley bound her wrists, then
threaded the end of the rope under the yoke-rope at the nape of
her neck. She gave it a tug and the box-tie tightened,
again. This time Susie managed to contain her response,
except for a slight smile. "You're a quick study," she
purred as Ainsley tied the final knot.
Ainsley smiled. "I gave the reading a glance before going
out," she explained. She shifted to Susie's front, then
tied the free end of the ankle ropes through the horizontal
ropes below Susie's breasts. This enforced the mild crunch
specified by the assignment. Ainsley pointed at a
paragraph in the reading. "I don't know why there's this
part about an 'optional gag' when there's nothing we can use for
one. This is a clothing free zone."
Susie pointed with her chin towards the bathroom. "There
are head scarves on the bottom shelf, below the extra
towels. I suggest we use two."
Ainsley stood, strolled into the bathroom, and returned with a
pair of neatly folded saffron-orange scarves.
"Good," Susie said with a happy smile. "Stuff one in my
mouth, fold the other into a narrow band, and tie it across the
"That should work," Ainsley agreed. She unfolded one of
the scarves and crumpled it into a wad. "This is pretty
big," she noted.
"I have a big mouth," Susie giggled.
"I'm sure Jane would agree," Ainsley purred, then stuffed the
crumpled scarf into Susie's cooperatively open mouth. Is was
a big wad and it was a tight fit, but she managed.
She folded the second scarf as Susie had suggested and tied it
across the wad and between Susie's teeth, then cinched it at the
nape of her neck, under her ponytail. "I suppose I better
do this right," Ainsley said with a smile as she gave the ends
of the scarf a firm tug, then completed a square-knot.
Susie was at a loss for words, which was just as well. The
gag was quite obviously effective. She could tell that
even without trying to make any noise.
"You know Jane thinks you're brilliant, don't you?" Ainsley
asked, and Susie nodded. "You're a bit of a nerd, like Dr.
Isles," Ainsley continued, "but brilliant."
Susie's eyes sparkled. She knew Det. Rizzoli and Dr. Isles
respected her professional competence, and she was proud the
Canadian detective constable could tell.
"And now," Ainsley said, "you meditate." She closed the
binder, stood, and sauntered towards the bathroom. "I
think I'll take a shower, then do the rest of my reading."
Susie watched the naked blonde's swishing legs, swaying hips,
strong back, and swinging arms. I like her short hair,
the helpless prisoner thought. It's fine, like mine,
but blond, A or B on the Fischer-Saller Scale. And her
skin is about a two on the Fitzpatrick Scale, maybe a six or
seven on the Von Luschan. She's very pretty.
The bathroom door closed and Susie settled in to meditate, but
before she cleared her mind, she gave Ainsley's ropes one last
vigorous test. The key knot was impossible to reach, and
none of the rope bands loosened or shifted, no matter what she
tried. She truly was helpless.
I wonder what's going on in Jane and Maura's cottage,
Susie thought. Is Maura bound, gagged, and helpless...
or is it Jane? She tried one final twist and squirm,
then closed her eyes. Jane, she decided. It's
|SKIN IN THE GAME
The first half
of their second full day at the Moon River Colony passed much as
the first. Upon arrival at the Meditation Lodge the
students were tied to their posts by Kate; however, she didn't
use the same technique as the day before.
She started with Jane, doing nothing to alleviate the somewhat
grumpy detective's belief that Kate had it in for her. As
instructed, Jane sat with her back to her post, raised her
hands, and allowed Kate to bind her wrists together behind said
post and with her hands palm-to-palm. At first, the wrist
ropes were decidedly loose, but this changed when Kate cinched
the bindings, took turns around Jane's hands and thumbs, then
pulled the bindings tight, enforcing a hands-in-prayer pose.
Kate then stretched the doubled rope down and took a cinch
around the post and Jane's chest, just above her breasts, then
added another pass for a total of four neatly stacked,
horizontal strands. She took two more passes, this time
below Jane's breasts, adding a tight band of four more
strands. Some sort of hitch or knot was tied behind Jane's
back and on the far side of the post, then Kate shifted position
to Jane's front. She gathered the remaining fee ends of
the rope, one strand from either side, tied a mildly complicated
hitch through the lower horizontal band of rope and between
Jane's breasts, passed the rope up and under the horizontal
upper band, pulled down, bringing the upper and lower bands
closer together, wrapped the remaining rope around the vertical
rope, then finished with an elegant knot.
During this process it was impossible for Kate to not
brush her hands against Jane's boobs, especially as she wrapped
the last of the free ends and tied the final knot. Jane
found this in no way titillating or arousing, of course, nor was
she infuriated and annoyed by the way Maura sat in front of her
post, smiling her usual bright, happy smile and being her usual
maddening, Dr. Smartypants, factoid babbling, gorgeous,
naked self. No, Jane wasn't affected by any of
this nonsense. All she had to do was bide her time and get
through the class. Tonight it would be her turn to prowl
around and see what she could discover about Mistress and her
nimble fingered Assistant. But none of this naked bondage stuff
was titillating, no siree.
Meanwhile, Kate had used a second coil to bind Jane's ankles and
crossed legs in much the same manner as Maura had tied them last
night. The only added refinement was a loop taken around
the post to keep Jane's butt and back firmly against the
post—not that her upper bonds weren't already keeping her butt
and back firmly against the post—and a cinch taken through her
upper bonds and behind the post, linking the two coils of rope
Maura was next, and Jane watched her BFF being bound in
identical fashion with detached, analytical interest. It
was in no way exciting to watch as the ropes dimpled
Maura's flesh and rendered her more and more helpless. Not
at all. And the manner in which the torso ropes and
vertical binding squeezed Maura's fuller, more volumetric
breasts was... uh... informative... but not
arousing. Of course, Jane could see how someone else might
actually derive pleasure from the sight of Maura naked and tied
to her post with her arms raised, legs crossed, and boobs mildly
compressed by tight bands of conditioned hemp, but not Jane
The same went for Susie.
And for Ainsley.
Finally, just as the last knot was tied in Ainsley's bondage,
The morning class was instruction in several of the basic and
common Shibari techniques: the Kimono tie, reverse
prayer, box-tie, behind-head two-hand tie, and the teppou
or "carrying a rifle" tie. Mistress explained it was not
her intent that they master all of these ties in one
session. She just wanted to expose them to the range of
possibilities offered by the Art of Tight Binding. She
demonstrated each of the techniques twice, using Kate as her
model and making sure all four of her students got a good look
from the front and back of how the ropes were applied.
The final hour of the morning class was spent in
meditation. Or, in Jane's case, trying to
meditate. She kept stealing looks at Maura's bound,
immobile, smiling form through half-closed eyes. She was
hoping for a hint on how she might improve her ability to enter
the trance state, of course. She was in no way fascinated
by her BFF's naked body or the way the tight, expertly
applied bands of rope compressed her breasts, dimpled her
smooth, tan flesh, and rendered her so very very
Finally, Kate untied the students, leaving Jane for last, of
course—Bitch!—and they went to lunch.
|SKIN IN THE GAME
class was quite literally hands on.
The students paired off and, under Mistress' and Kate's watchful
eyes, were required to bind each other using the techniques
demonstrated that morning. Mistress kept changing the
pairings between techniques, so everybody got to bind everybody
else and to be bound in turn. By the time class was over,
Jane had experienced each of the basic ties from either side of
the rope. It was exhausting. Tying up beautiful
naked women, all of whom were her good friends, was hard work
(but in no way arousing). Who knew?
Anyway, Jane was more than ready for a good dinner and a
relaxing evening of skulking around the Colony in her birthday
suit. They left class with a third set of reading and an
additional coil of rope.
Maura and Susie were not exhausted, anything but.
In fact, they were enthusiastic about their newly found favorite
meditative technique, giggling and chatting together as the four
students made their way to the dining room.
"They're something else," Ainsley said to Jane. They were
walking a few steps behind the ME and Senior Criminalist, the
subjects of her remark.
"Yes, they're something," Jane agreed in a drawl. "What,
I'm not sure, but something."
Ainsley was as tired as Jane, but was in no way fooled by her
American colleague's manner. Jane obviously thought the
world of her fellow Americans.
"I wish we could conduct a detailed search of Mistress'
cottage," Jane sighed. "And the same for Kate."
"Being in class with them all day does make it a little
difficult," Ainsley agreed, "not that I condone breaking and
entering, of course."
"Of course," Jane agreed with a sly smile. "In any case,
it would be difficult to explain it away if one of us was
discovered rifling through their things."
"Agreed," Ainsley nodded. "We should remain alert for an
opportunity. One of them is bound to leave the Colony at
"In the meantime, I'll pump the employees and guests for
"I wish you better luck than I had," Ainsley sighed.
They'd reached their destination and were crossing the
threshold. The menu board announced that the vegan
special-of-the-evening was pasta puttanesca with capers and
kalamata olives. The non-vegan special was slow-cooked elk
and venison chili.
"Not even close," Jane chuckled as she gazed at the board.
Ainsley nodded in agreement. "Chili it is."
|SKIN IN THE GAME
crossed under her breasts, Jane gazed at her BFF and heaved a
truly disgusted sigh. "You're gonna start whining and
pouting if you don't get your way, I know it."
"I don't know what you're talking about," Maura said
primly. "I only need a few minutes of your precious time,
and in any case, it's not yet dark enough to start your
nocturnal prowling." She was sitting cross-legged on the
floor in the center of the cottage's common room. Her
notebook was open on her left and to her right were three neatly
bundled coils of "homework rope." She smiled a somewhat
coy, somewhat wounded smile at Jane.
"I don't need darkness to stretch my legs and have a friendly
chat with the Colony staff and our fellow guests," Jane
Still smiling, Maura nodded towards the rope. "You'll have
to do it anyway. Why not now? Homework is
homework." To Maura Isles, there was no refuting that last
Not so with Jane Rizzoli. "Homework is homework? Oh,
Now, Maura was both scandalized and gravely
disappointed. "Jane," she admonished.
Jane rolled her eyes, then squatted on the floor in front of
Maura. "All right already. Let's get this over with
so I don't have to listen to you whimper."
Maura chuckled, her amber eyes sparkling. She knew Jane
was kidding. "Tonight's assignment calls for a combination
kimono-tie hogtie," she said, pointed at the open
notebook. "The illustration is very clear."
Jane regarded the drawing on the page with a jaundiced
eye. She had to admit, the illustration was clear.
She picked up a coil of rope and released its restraining
hitch. "I swear," she huffed, "you're like a five-year old
on Christmas morning."
Maura chuckled, again. "I am not."
Jane moved behind Maura and set to work. She positioned
Maura's hands behind her back with her wrists crossed, then
lashed them together. She then passed the still
substantial length of doubled rope around to Maura's front
between her torso and left upper arm, passed under her left
breast, up and over her right shoulder, then back down to take a
hitch through her wrist bonds. She pulled out the slack,
then made a complementary pass under Maura's right breast,
across her left shoulder, and back to her wrists. She then
took a third turn, this time around Maura's upper torso, under
her armpits and above her breasts, then wrapped the remaining
rope around the "V" of ropes between Maura's wrists and neck,
pulling the doubled strands together and tightening the entire
arrangement. The final and key knot was tied just below
the nape of her neck. Maura's crossed wrists were now
solidly lashed against her spine, and the neat, symmetrical
harness made sure they'd remain there.
Step two was to lash Maura's crossed ankles together, ease her
onto her stomach, then lash her ankle and wrist bonds
together. It was a hogtie, and following the illustration,
Jane made it a somewhat stringent hogtie. After
she finished wrapping the free ends around the wrists to ankles
ropes and tying the final knot on the far side of Maura's
ankles, the helpless but still smiling captive was balanced on
her stomach, thighs, and semi-quashed breasts.
"There," Jane huffed, then stood, took a step back, and resumed
her arms-crossed-below-her-breasts pose. "That should hold
Maura squirmed and struggled, testing Jane's handiwork. It
was obvious she was not going to be able to free herself.
"Excellent, Jane," she said. With something less than her
usual grace, Maura half-rolled onto her side and smiled up at
her study-mate. "Enjoy your covert investigative
"Uh... thanks," Jane drawled. "I'll certainly try."
She had been staring at Maura's rope-framed breasts, flat tummy,
and hips—or rather, had not been staring at Maura's
rope-framed breasts, flat tummy, and hips. She turned and
headed for the door. "See ya later," she said as she made
Maura smiled at the now closed door, then called after
Jane. "Wait! My gag!" Seconds passed and Jane
didn't return. Apparently, she hadn't heard. "Oh
well," Maura sighed, rolled back onto her stomach, and settled
in to meditate. She could try reading the new assignment,
but turning the pages in the notebook would be somewhat
difficult. The reading would have to wait. Best just
Suddenly, Maura heard the doorknob rattle and rolled back onto
her side. "Jane?" There was a figure standing in the
open doorway, but it wasn't Jane.
|SKIN IN THE GAME
she'd had a little more luck getting the residents and guests of
the Colony to open up than Ainsley, but not by much. She
learned that Kate was more social than her Mistress, but both
were well regarded. Everyone seemed to chalk up Giselle
Pierce's standoffish manner to her devotion to the art of
meditation. Kate, on the other hand, was devoted to the
business end of Mistress' Shibari Meditation
enterprise. Neither had been out and about this evening,
but all agreed that if anyone was the more likely of the pair to
share a little wine or hoist a few beers, it would be Kate.
Anyway, Jane thought, mission accomplished.
She heaved a sigh as she approached the entrance to cottage
#17. Yes, it was mission accomplished, but without
a lot to show for her efforts.
Actually, Jane wasn't worried. Legwork often started off
slow. Facts accumulated, intelligence was gathered, and
finally, something snapped into place and the guilty
party or parties were revealed. No, Jane wasn't
worried. She entered the door code in the cottage door's
keypad, opened the door—and Jane froze in
amazement! See was also outraged!
"What the hell is going on in here?" Jane demanded.
Penny the masseuse was sitting cross-legged on her open massage
mat in the center of the room with Maura's head and shoulder
cradled in her lap. Maura was still bound in Jane's ropes
in the combination kimono-tie and hogtie. She was also
smiling. And Penny was smiling. They were both
Oh-by-the-way, Penny's hands were oiled and she was running them
over Maura's stomach!
"Oh, hi," Maura said, still smiling—and not at all
embarrassed to be discovered by her BFF having a naked
youngster—Penny was little more than a teenager—sliding
her oily hands over her naked body.
"Hi," Penny added.
Jane continued staring. In addition to her stomach,
Maura's shoulders and breasts glistened with oil.
Apparently, Penny had been busy.
"What is it, Jane?" Maura asked. She was still smiling,
but there was an undercurrent of concern in her voice.
"Uh..." Jane stepped into the cottage, closed the door
behind her, then stood over her bound BFF and the tiny, grinning
masseuse. Okay, Penny was giving her a massage. Big
whoop. Why was it a problem? Why was it a problem
for Jane? It wasn't, she decided. Not
really. "You ordered a massage?" She was addressing
her BFF, of course.
It was Penny who answered. "I was free for the evening and
thought I'd drop by. You two are a lot of fun."
"Thank you, Penny," Maura giggled, then resumed smiling at Jane.
Jane closed her mouth—which she hadn't realized was hanging
open—then rolled her eyes. "Whatever." She went to
the easy chair where she'd left her binder and flopped down into
"Penny and I were talking about Kate," Maura said.
Penny continued massaging Maura's tummy... and smiling at Jane.
"Kate?" Jane asked casually... very casually.
"Did you know she uses the Colony's servers to make all
arrangements for Giselle's classes?" Maura asked, "student
reservations, booking accommodations at the Colony, payment
processing? And she does the same at the spas in the
Boston area, when Giselle takes her course on the road."
"I see," Jane nodded, gazing into the distance. "So... she
has every opportunity to conduct background research on all
the guests at all the spas, determine who's loaded,
their home addresses, everything she'd need to know."
"Need to know for what?" Penny asked.
"Uh, who would make good students, of course," Jane
responded. "Who she should invite to the course."
Penny's response was a skeptical frown. "That makes no
sense whatsoever. The students come to them.
Why should she need to do research?"
"Yes," Maura agreed, "but by doing research she'd have
everything she needed to know to optimize their course
experience. That's what you meant, isn't it Jane?"
"Uh, yeah," Jane agreed. "That's what I meant." Why
am I babbling like an idiot? Jane wondered. It's
not like I'm distracted, or anything.
Penny replenished the oil on her hands, leaned low across
Maura's bound body, and began massaging her hips and upper
Jane stood and pointed towards her bedroom. "I'm going to
read on my bed," she announced, then headed for the door.
"Would you like a massage?" Penny offered. "I'm almost
finished with Maura."
"No, no, I'm fine," Jane answered, then crossed the threshold
and closed the bedroom door.
"She seemed nervous about something," Penny purred. Her
hands caressed Maura's inner thighs, then slid back out to her
"She's fine," Maura sighed, then smiled at Penny's grinning face
as the tiny masseuse sat upright and began cleaning her hands
with a towel. "That was very nice, Penny. Thank
"You're welcome," Penny responded, then eased Maura off her lap
and onto her side and began rolling her mat. "I still
think a massage would relax your friend," she said, nodding
towards the closed bedroom door. She stood, gathered her
towels and bottle of oil and tucked the mat under her right arm.
"Come back tomorrow, if you can," Maura suggested. "I
assume the next homework assignment will include more bondage,
and it'll be Jane's turn."
Penny smiled. "That's wicked... and fun. Just don't
get me in trouble, okay?"
"Of course not," Maura chuckled. "Jane is always
up for merry pranks, clever jests, and frolicsome
jocularity. She won't complain."
Penny smiled as she strolled to the cottage door.
'Frolicsome jocularity,' she thought. What a
nerd, but I like her. I like them both.
"Goodnight," she said as she made her exit.
"Goodnight!" Maura called after the little pixie, then rolled
onto her stomach. She waited several seconds, then shook
her head in a somewhat futile attempt to clear the hair from her
face. "Jane?" she called out. "Jane? You can
untie me now!" Several seconds ticked by with no
response. "Jane? I have to do my reading!"
More time passed. "Jane?"
On the other side of the bedroom door, Jane was reclined on her
back on her bed with her head and shoulders propped up on a pile
of pillows, and was reading her homework, or trying,
anyway. She was also studiously ignoring her BFF's
plaintive voice. Getting a massage while I do all the
work, she thought. Letting that little...
hottie run her oily fingers all over her body...
A smile curled Jane's lips. She can just... meditate.
|SKIN IN THE GAME
comfortably seated in one of the easy chairs in the common room
of the cottage she shared with Ainsley. Her notebook was
open before her and she was reading the evening's
assignment. She'd already completed the practical portion
of her homework, with Ainsley's assistance.
Ainsley was on her stomach in the center of the room and bound
with two coils of conditioned hemp in the manner prescribed: a
combination kimono-tie and cross-legged hogtie. She was
also gagged in the manner Susie herself had been gagged the
night before: one saffron-orange scarf crumpled into a wad and
stuffed in her mouth, and a second scarf folded into a narrow
bandage and tied as a cleave-gag. She was facing away from
Susie and her chair at about a forty-five degree angle and was
doing her best to meditate. Ainsley had considered telling
her cottage-mate and fellow student that they only had to pay pro
forma attention to the instructions in the assignment, and
that a full hour of meditation for the bound and gagged
participant was unnecessary; but once Susie had her bound, and
especially gagged, it was too late.
Susie realized she was having difficulty concentrating on her
reading. Her eyes kept straying to Ainsley's hogtied,
helpless body. Also, she kept thinking about all the
things she could do to embellish tonight's assignment.
After all, between the two of them they'd been issued a total of
six coils of rope. It seemed like such a pity to let four
of them go to waste.
The kimono-tie was nice, but left to her own devices, Susie
would have made it a reverse-prayer kimono-tie, with
rope strands binding Ainsley's hands, fingers, and thumbs.
Also, instead of a simple crossed-ankles tie, she would have
added neat bands around Ainsley's thighs and shins, locking
her legs into their current folded position.
And why stop there? A third coil of rope could be used to
pin Ainsley's upper arms to her sides, converting the kimono-tie
into a combination kimono-box-tie. Then, a cinch
could be taken around the Detective Constable's narrow waist and
through her crotch to anchor both the upper and lower
That would have left three coils of rope free... for someone to
do the same to Susie... either Maura or Jane. Yes, that
would be perfect.
Susie shook her head. She'd "read" the final three
paragraphs without comprehending any of it, and decided she had
no choice but to start over from the beginning. She didn't
glance at the travel clock she'd left on the side table to time
Ainsley's hour of meditation. Ainsley would understand if
she lost track of time and the session went a little long.
|SKIN IN THE GAME