HELP WANTED (Desperately!)
by Van ©2012

Chapter 9




Jillian Foxwood
              Zehetner as Cricket Clark

Jamie Rose as Jillian Foxwood

Jennifer O'Dell as Hannah Blair

Nora Zehetner as Cricket Clarke

"Foxwood," Tiffany said to Ashley.  "That's the medieval place, right?"

Ashley nodded.  "Yeah, Renfair Central."

They watched as a redhead, a blonde, and a brunette emerged from the SUV.  All were dressed casually in modern clothing: boots, jeans, knit tops, jackets, and in the case of the brunette, a turtleneck sweater and a beret.  As they approached Sarand-ip's front porch, the girls could see that all three of the visitors were older than themselves but younger than Cassie (or probably younger than Cassie in the case of the redhead).

"Oooh!" Cassie cooed, rushed to the front door, and threw it open.  Standing on the porch, she threw her arms wide.  "Cricket!" she shouted.

The brunette, the youngest of the newcomers, giggled, rushed forward, and threw herself into Cassie's arms.  "Witchie-poo!" she squealed.

Ashley and Tiffany exchanged an amused glance and whispered in unison "Witchie-poo?"

"Cassie is sooo Witchie-poo from now on," Tiffany giggled.

"Forever," Ashley agreed.

By this time the redhead and blonde had reached the porch.  All three visitors were shorter than Cassie, discounting the height added by the wedge-heels of their boots.  The blonde was the tallest, the redhead a little shorter, and the brunette was about the Lowly Clerks' height.  Oh-by-the-way, all three were gorgeous—Cassie-grade gorgeous—except for the brunette.  She was cute-gorgeous.

Smiling broadly, Cassie smiled at the redhead.  "You didn't say you were bringing my Cricket."

"I couldn't keep her away," the redhead said.  The brunette, whose name would appear to be Cricket, stepped back and Cassie and the redhead embraced and kissed.

Then, it was the blonde's turn.  "Welcome, Hannah," Cassie sighed as she embraced and kissed the blonde.

Cassie and the visitors entered the front shop and the inevitable formal introductions ensued.

The redhead was Jillian Foxwood, owner, operator, and matriarch of the Foxwood Bed & Breakfast, the medieval/fantasy role-playing destination spa.  She was forty-something and gorgeous (as already noted), with long, straight, copper-red hair, a freckled complexion much like Tiffany's, and sparkling green eyes.

The blonde was Hannah Blair, one of Jillian's employees.  Her straw-colored hair was long, straight, and parted down the center, her skin was a rich, beach-bunny tan, and her eyes blue and piercing.  Her body was strong and athletic but very feminine.

Cricket Clarke, the brunette, was another Foxwood employee and she was cute.  That is to say, she suffered from a serious case of "Sally Fields Syndrome."  When the short, dimple-cheeked, brown-eyed imp was white-haired and elderly, people would still be calling her "cute."

"Cricket," Cassie sighed, "you're letting your hair grow."  The hair in question was almost shoulder length, something between a pageboy and a shaggy crop.

"I got tired of the pixie-look," Cricket shrugged, then removed her beret and shook out her brown locks.  "A Wood Elf can have long hair."

Ashley and Tiffany shared another glance.  "Wood Elf?" they whispered.

Cricket had heard the exchange.  "I sometimes role-play as a Wood Elf," she explained, "with pointy ears and a Robin-Hood-meets-Xena costume."

"You're kinda short for an elf," Ashley inquired, "aren't you?  No offense."

"None taken," Cricket giggled.  "Foxwood's Wood Elves don't quite fit the mold of Tolkien's High Elves," she explained, "but we do get guests who want to role-play Peter Jackson-type tall, snooty High Elves."

"Tiffany, Ashley," Cassie said, "please prepare tea for our guests."

Ashley and Tiffany exchanged a smirk, them executed simultaneous curtsies.  "Yes, Witchie-poo," they answered in unison.

Cassie smiled and Jillian, Hannah, and Cricket laughed as the girls scampered towards the café in the back.

"They're adorable," Jillian said to Cassie.

"They are," Cassie agreed.

Jillian turned to Hannah and Cricket.  "Bring in the bags, okay?"

"And I'll keep an eye on the shop."  Cricket focused her dimpled smile on Cassie.  "It'll be just like old times."

"You'll man the cash register after you help me with the bags," Hannah muttered as she strode to the front door, held it open, and looked back at Cricket.  "Would you like to be dragged by your left ear or your right ear?"

"Jeez," Cricket muttered.  "Coming, Miss Bossy-Pants."  The diminutive, part-time Wood Elf pushed past Hannah, the grinning blonde followed, and Cassie and Jillian were alone.

Cassie smiled at Jillian.  "I can tell Hannah has grown into her new life.  She seems quite comfortable as a Top."

Jillian smiled back.  "She has and she is.  That said, Hannah-bear and my sister are now something of a Top-Bottom chimera.  One is dominant and the other submissive in turn, according to signals only they seem to be able to discern.  They're true partners."

[Author's note:  For more about life at Foxwood, see my stories Helpful Hardware Hannah, All Sales Are Final, and All Manor of Mischief.]

"That's wonderful," Cassie sighed.  "I can't wait to see Sydney again, and the others as well."  She gestured in the direction of the café, then offered her arm.

"And they look forward to seeing you," Jillian purred.  Together the old friends strolled from the front shop.  "You've said nothing to your girls?" Jillian whispered in Cassie's ear.

Cassie smiled.  "Nothing," she whispered back.

HELP WANTED (Desperately!)
Chapter 9

"I'm kinda surprised the Foxwoodies aren't in costume," Tiffany said as she readied the tea service.

"Foxwoodies?" Ashley chuckled.  She was waiting for the kettle to boil.

"Foxwooders?" Tiffany suggested.  "No, Foxwoodies sounds better."

"We prefer Maidens of Foxwood," Jillian said as she entered the café, still arm-in-arm with Cassie.

"Actually, Freckle-Face here is Lady Foxwood," Cassie said, smiling at Jillian.  "All the others are Maidens."

"We aren't in costume, as you put it," Jillian said to Tiffany, "because we're away from Foxwood."  She winked.  "It's nice to visit the 21st Century now and then."

"I can see that," Ashley said.

"Service for four, please," Cassie ordered, "and you'll be joining us."

Tiffany nodded towards the front shop.  "What about the two, uh, Maidens?"

"You'll take them the small service," Cassie answered.

"Your wish is my command, Witchie-poo," Tiffany curtsied.

"And your butt is mine for the paddling if you don't start showing the proper respect," Cassie chuckled.

"I'm sorry," Ashley said, perfectly deadpan, "but what is the proper form of address for The Wicked Witch of Sarand-ip?"

"That's two butts that need paddling," Cassie sighed, then turned to Jillian.  "I'm sorry.  They usually aren't this ill-mannered in front of visitors."

Jillian smiled and kissed Cassie's cheek.  "They can tell we're old friends."

Ashley and Tiffany exchanged a knowing glance, then completed their preparations.  Tiffany carried the large service to the table and Ashley departed with a small service-for-two for the front shop.

"I'll be mother," Cassie said with a grin and poured tea into four cups.

"And I'll be mother's helper," Jillian said as she handed the first cup and saucer to Tiffany.

"I guess that makes me a guest," Tiffany said.

"Cheeky monkey," Cassie chuckled, then nodded towards the kitchenette.  "Biscuits."

Tiffany curtsied.  "Yes, mother."  She went to the kitchenette and began loading cookies onto a small plate.

"Adorable," Jillian whispered to Cassie.

"She'll be yours soon enough," Cassie whispered back.

Tiffany returned with the "biscuits" and Ashley returned from the front shop.

"Now," Cassie said as Ashley took her seat, "Jillie, why don't you tell the girls about Foxwood?" and for the next several minutes "Lady Foxwood" did just that.

Tiffany frowned.  "And the only time you relax the costume rule is at your, uh, Yuletide Festival?"

Jillian smiled.  "Entire families attend our feasts.  It's not reasonable to require everyone to dress in medieval costume."

"Also," Cassie purred, "the Yule crowd keeps the operation solidly in the black, year after year.  A little flexibility is logical," she smiled at Jillian, "and lucrative."

"Overnight guests are required to conform to our guidelines," Jillian continued, "even at Yuletide.  And the staff is always in character."

"In character," Ashley nodded.  "And the role-playing stuff?  You guys do... plays?"

"Our staff adopt characters consistent with their costumes and assigned duties," Jillian explained, "and some of our guests participate in scripted scenarios.  Some have what you might call recurring characters."

Tiffany frowned, again.  "Huh?"

Jillian sipped her tea.  "For example, there's Queen Xenobia of the oasis city of Dariabar.  Sometimes she visits Foxwood alone and sometimes accompanied by a loyal retainer."  She smiled at Cassie.  "When's the last time you spoke with Pilar?"

"My faithful desert warrior bodyguard?" Cassie chuckled.  "About a month ago."

The girls were staring at Cassie.

"Xenobia?" Tiffany asked.

"Queen Xenobia?" Ashley added.

Jillian smiled, still gazing at Cassie.  "Imagine: desert boots or silk slippers, and dressed in harem pants, a midriff-baring top, and long robes, all gauze-thin and embroidered with gold thread.  And, wearing enough gold and jewels to ransom a Queen—"  Her smile broadened.  "—often quite literally."

Tiffany nodded.  "Wow."  Then, her eyes popped wide.  "Wait... literally?"

"Yeah, literally?" Ashley added.

"Unfortunately," Jillian purred, "traveling royals sometime run afoul of bandits."

"Or unscrupulous minor nobility who are little better than bandits," Cassie chuckled.  She smiled at the girls.  "Don't worry.  I'm not chained in Jillian's stone tower every time I visit Foxwood."

"No," Jillian agreed, also turning to smile at Tiffany and Ashley.  "Sometimes she's chained in the oubliette under my stone tower... naked, of course."

"Wow," the girls whispered in unison.

"And the woods surrounding Foxwood Keep are infested with outlaws," Jillian continued.  "On occasion, visitors are captured by said outlaws and require rescuing.  It can get very tiresome."

"Camping in Jillian's redwood forest can be quite pleasant," Cassie smiled, "unless you're tied to one of the trees or staked out in a meadow under the hot sun."

"Naked, of course," Jillian smiled.

"Wow," the girls whispered, again.

Jillian laughed.  "Please don't get the impression that all of our role-playing scenarios are, uh..."

"Depraved?" Cassie suggested.

Jillian ignored Cassie's interruption.  "Elaborate.  Most of our guests simply relax in the period costumes of their choice and enjoy hiking our trails, skinny-dipping in our millpond, sampling my chef's gourmet cuisine, etc."

"While being waited upon by servants," Cassie added.  "Speaking of which..."  She smiled at Jillian.  "I believe Lady Foxwood has a couple of staff openings."

"I do, indeed," Jillian nodded.  "Two of my Maidens have expressed a desire to tour Europe, specifically Cricket and my cousin Alice.  The requirement isn't urgent, not yet.  I have plenty of time to train replacements."

Cassie smiled.  "At some point in their travels they are going to visit Lady Tydwell, aren't they?"

Jillian smiled.  "They both have an open invitation from Lady Jane.  I recently sent her pictures and video of the girls and she's quite looking forward to their visit."  She focused on Ashley and Tiffany.  "Lady Jane Tydwell has an actual castle in England, and we share similar interests."

"She also runs a bed and breakfast?" Tiffany asked.

Ashley rolled her eyes.  "Think it through, geek," she muttered.

"What?" Tiffany demanded, then her eyes widened.  "Oh."

"Real dungeons and torture chambers," Jillian chuckled.  "Mine are only replicas."

"Don't worry," Cassie smiled, "Lady Tydwell and Lady Foxwood would never actually torture a guest."

"Or staff," Jillian added.  "In any case, Foxwood Keep is a commercial enterprise.  Tydwell Castle is a private residence."

"I see," Ashley said.

"All right then," Jillian continued.  "So... would you girls be interested in a change of employers?"

"No!" Ashley and Tiffany blurted in unison, then stared at Cassie in horror.

Cassie gazed back with a reassuring smile.  "Ladies, your starting salaries at Foxwood would be more than twice what I can pay you, and that includes IRA's, room and board, and medical and dental plans."

"But," Tiffany's eyes were glistening, "C-Cassie, we love you."

"Oh, Trickster," Cassie smiled, leaned across the table and kissed Tiffany's lips.  "I love you too, Tiffany," she chuckled, then kissed Ashley.  "And you, Tomboy, but you both need to think about your futures."

"We like it here," Ashley said.

"I'm not kicking you out, ladies," Cassie responded with a reassuring smile, "but I am suggesting you seriously consider this opportunity."

"I don't need an immediate answer," Jillian said.  "Please take your time."

"Lady Foxwood and her retainers will be staying the night," Cassie announced, "and we're all going out to eat after closing."

"The crab shack or the steakhouse?" Ashley asked.

"Little black dresses," Cassie responded.

Ashley nodded.  "Steakhouse it is."

Tiffany was in something of a daze, but she also nodded.

HELP WANTED (Desperately!)
Chapter 9

The dinner was a smashing success.  Cassie and Jillian held court while the girls got to know Cricket and Hannah.  Cricket was her intrinsically cute, bubbly, irreverent self, and the good nature with which Hannah stoically absorbed the little brunette's jibes and jokes confirmed the blonde's tolerant affection for her fellow Foxwood Maiden.

All six women were, indeed, wearing some version of the "little black dress," and their presence was much appreciated by the restaurant's staff and patrons.  That said, Tiffany and Ashley weren't vain enough to overtly bask in their share of the group's hotness.  Okay, they totally basked in their share of the group hotness.  They were hot and they knew it?  Hell yes!

The excellent food and entertaining company almost made them forget the issue at hand: whether or not they should change employers.

Cricket and Hannah gave glowing reports of life at Foxwood and their descriptions of the architecture and interiors were... intriguing.  There was no explicit discussion of the "sinister" nature of some of the role-playing scenarios, but it was no great mystery what went on in Foxwood's "dungeons" and "torture chambers."  After all, if damsels-in-distress were involved—and that was made clear—there had to be some sort of distress.  The Princess and the Pea was a humorous and satirical tale—but The Princess and the RACK was melodrama!

Yes, the prospect of working at Foxwood was intriguing.  However, there was a serious problem.  Jillian was beautiful and very nice... but she wasn't Cassie.

Over cheesecake and decaf coffee Cassie dropped a bomb.  "Girls," she said to Ashley and Tiffany, "I want you to give Foxwood a try."

"You want us to take the job offer?" Ashley asked.

Tiffany's lower lip was trembling, and she was seriously considering backsliding into her pouting habit.

"Oh, sweetheart," Cassie cooed.  She leaned across the table and kissed Tiffany's cheek.  "I said try.  I'd like you both to spend a little time at Foxwood and see if you like it."

Tiffany's lip was still trembling.  "But... who'll man the shop?"

"I will," Cricket volunteered.  "I'll stay and help Cassie."

"Cricket is a Sarand-ip alum," Cassie said, smiling at Cricket.

"You used to work here?" Tiffany asked Cricket.  "I mean Sarand-ip."  She gestured at their surroundings.  "Not the steakhouse."

"I get it," Cricket giggled.  "And yes, I used to slave for the Wicked Witch."  Her dimpled smirk shifted to Cassie.  "So to speak."

Carrie smiled at Ashley and Tiffany.  "Trickster, Tomboy..."  She gestured towards Cricket.  "Meet Jester.  Now, let's go home."

HELP WANTED (Desperately!)
Chapter 9

Ashley and Tiffany were in their room removing their dresses.  Cricket and Hannah were in another bedroom, presumably doing the same.

"So," Ashley said, "where do you suppose Jillian will be sleeping?"

"I don't know," Tiffany sighed.  Her thoughts were obviously elsewhere.  "Cassie's room?"

"Meaning Cassie's bed," Ashley chuckled.  "That's what I think."

Just then there was a quiet knock, the bedroom door opened, and Cassie appeared.  She was smiling and wearing a black silk robe, probably over one of her baby doll nighties.  "Finish undressing and report to Mistress' room," she ordered, then the door closed and she was gone.

Tiffany blinked in surprise.  "Tonight?  With the Foxwoodies here?"

"That's Lady Foxwood and her Maidens to you," Ashley corrected, "and apparently... yes."

Minutes later the girls were pattering down the hallway in their birthday suits and desperately hoping this was the correct protocol for one of Cassie's bondage lessons with visitors present.  That they were doing this spoke volumes of their love and trust of Cassie and the favorable impression that had been made by Jillian Foxwood.

Ashley knocked on Cassie's door, then opened it without waiting for an answer.  With eyes lowered they tiptoed to their accustomed positions in the center of the bedroom (with their hands atop their heads, of course), knelt, then lifted their chins and gazed towards the bed.

Cassie and Jillian were sitting side by side on the foot of the bed.  Jillian was also wearing a silk robe, but hers was a beautiful shade of dark jade that perfectly complemented her freckled complexion, ginger hair, and green eyes.

Jillian beamed (and both girls experienced an actual thrill between their legs.  "Oh Cassie," Lady Foxwood sighed, "they're even more adorable au naturel."

"They are treasures," Cassie agreed.  "Ladies, Jillian has brought some items from Foxwood to show me, with your assistance.  Please come closer."

The girls exchanged a quick glance, then shuffled to the foot of the bed, still on their knees.  When they settled their bare rumps back down on their heels, Tiffany's knees were close to Cassie's bare feet and Ashley's were close to Jillian's.

Jillian reached behind her, into a suitcase that was open on the bed, and produced a pair of leather mitts.  They were a gleaming golden-brown and stitched along their margins with matching leather thongs.  A gunmetal steel ring about an inch in diameter dangled from what would be the fingertips of a hypothetical wearer of each mitt, and wide, cuff-like flaps were ready to wrap around the wrists.  Jillian handed one of the mitts to Cassie, then smiled at Ashley.  "Right hand, please," she said.

Ashley extended her right hand and Jillian fitted her with the mitt.  It was a tight fit and donning it required some squirming effort on Ashley's part.  "There are, uh, finger-channels on the inside," she noted.

"A glove within an outer shell," Jillian confirmed.  She closed the wrist flap around Ashley's wrist and began threading a thong through a series of grommets to secure it in place.  "The fingers of the inner glove are stitched together and to the interior of the shell," she explained.  Her Ladyship tied a final knot in the thong, then accepted the second mitt from Cassie and set to work on Ashley's left hand.

Tiffany and Ashley gazed at the right mitt as Ashley slowly turned her hand.  The fit was tight, but not too tight; however, Ashley's right hand was now what could be called a totally useless flipper.  The encasement's construction was heavy-duty but not at all inelegant, and the slightly pebbled finish of the outer shell was pretty.

Tiffany shifted her gaze to Jillian.  "Is that butternut?" she inquired.  "The color, I mean."

"It is," Jillian confirmed.  She finished securing Ashley's left hand, then reached back into the suitcase, produced a second pair of mitts, and handed them to Cassie.

Cassie winked at Tiffany.  "I guess you're mine."

 Tiffany blushed.  "Always," she answered in a whisper.

Cassie leaned close and planted a kiss on Tiffany's lips.  "Sweet girl," she purred, then set to work encasing Tiffany's hands.  Soon, both Lowly Clerks were wearing mitts.

"Useless Hands Disease," Ashley sighed, gazing at the butternut shells and flopping steel rings.

Tiffany was also turning and examining her mitts.  "Advanced cases," she agreed.

Jillian wasn't finished.  She reached back into the suitcase and produced four steel cuffs.  They were the same gunmetal color as the mitts' rings, opened on hefty hinges, and closed on what appeared to be some sort of cylinder locks.  A steel ring identical to the mitt rings dangled from the hinge side of each cuff.  The closed cuffs appeared to be hand-forged, but when Jillian opened one it was clear they'd been manufactured with modern machines to tight tolerances. Their medieval exteriors were a style statement.

Ashley watched as Jillian fit a cuff around each of her leather-encased wrists, clicked them closed, then turned their locks with an ornately engraved barrel key.

"Wow!" the girls said in unison, gazing at the mitts and cuffs on Ashley's hands.

"Adorable," Jillian beamed, then handed the remaining two cuffs and the key to Cassie.

Cassie smiled and locked the cuffs on Tiffany's wrists, then handed the key back to Jillian.

"These are heavy," Tiffany noted.

"But not too heavy," Ashley added.

"And certainly inescapable," Jillian said.  "Just the thing for slavers to use while transporting captives to market."  She smiled at the girls.  "I'm speaking in terms of one of our role-playing scenarios, of course."

Tiffany was blushing again.  "Uh... yeah, sure."

Ashley nodded.  Her eyes were still on her mitts and cuffs.

Cassie stood, walked to her walk-in closet, and returned with a double armload of synthetic hemp rope.  "Now, lets show the girls what else can be done to secure fresh-caught slaves."

HELP WANTED (Desperately!)
Chapter 9

Several minutes passed and both Ashley and Tiffany found themselves bound in reasonably tight, identical box-ties.  Their arms and encased and cuffed hands were folded behind their backs and a neat, symmetrical web of doubled rope strands pinned their upper arms against their sides, framed their breasts, and yoked their shoulders.  Both Cassie and Jillian had done the deed, with Cassie doing the honors for Tiffany and Jillian for Ashley.

The girls tested their bonds, twisting their upper bodies and rolling their shoulders.  Both the mitt fingertip and cuff rings were incorporated in the rope bondage, and to describe the tests as failures to escape would be the very height of understatement.

"It would appear they're helpless," Cassie stated.

"Indeed," Jillian agreed.

"Now, ladies," Cassie said, "I know you have some thinking and talking to do, so I'm going to let you do just that.  But not here."  She turned to Jillian and gestured towards the French doors that led onto the deck.  "Why don't you enjoy the hot tub while I put the girls to bed?"  She stooped and picked up four of the remaining coils of synthetic hemp.  "It's not your Roman Bath, but I'm sure you'll find it pleasant."

"Such a considerate hostess," Jillian chuckled.  She shrugged out of her robe and draped it across the foot of the bed, then began removing her nightie.

"There are hairpins in the top drawer to the right of the sink in the bath," Cassie said, preparing the rope coils still on the floor for eventual return to the closet.  She was taking her time.

Jillian peeled down the matching panties of her sleepwear and was as nude as the bound clerks.  She ran her fingers through her long, red hair and went up on her toes in a full-body stretch, reaching for the ceiling and arching her back.  Forty-something Jillian might be, but her body was toned and athletic, her breasts full without being large, her tummy flat, her waist thin, and her thighs firm.  Add to that millions of freckles distributed in a manner that strongly suggested a habit of regular nude sunbathing, coral-pink nipples and areolas that matched her smiling lips, her sparkling green eyes, and Lady Foxwood was a Celtic Goddess!

"Wow!" the girls gasped, then both blushed.

Cassie and Jillian chuckled as Jillian stepped forward, hugged Ashley and planted a kiss on her startled lips, then did the same for Tiffany.  "I'll see you in the morning, ladies," she said, "and I really hope you'll have good news for me."

"G-goodnight," Ashley stammered.

"What she said," Tiffany added in an awed whisper.

"Goodnight," Jillian responded as she strolled to the French doors.  "Sleep tight."

"You had to go there," Cassie chuckled.

Smiling sweetly, Jillian shrugged and made her exit.

"Let's go," Cassie laughed, then led the girls from the bedroom.  The coils of rope were draped over her left arm and a keyring dangled from her right hand.

Padding along in Cassie's wake, the girls exchanged yet another shared look and a silent "Wow!"

Cassie passed their bedroom door and Tiffany stopped.  The others continued.  "Uh, Cassie?"  She nodded towards the closed door.

"Keep up, Trickster," Cassie chuckled.

Ashley smiled and looked back over her left shoulder.  "C'mon, geek."

Tiffany hurried to catch up.  "I'm coming."  Her breasts bounced as she skidded to a walking pace beside her fellow prisoner.

Cassie led them down the dark stairs, through the dark kitchen, paused to flip a light switch, then led them down the stairs to what would otherwise have been an even darker basement.

Sarand-ip's basement is not a finished space.  The girls visited the place on a regular basis as the washer and dryer were tucked against a wall near the stairs.  The walls were poured concrete.  The fixtures dangling from the exposed rafters provided light, but only over the stairs and above the laundry area.  During the day a few window wells added additional light, but at the moment they were black as pitch.  Several steel columns helped support the bones of the house and old furniture, cardboard boxes, and a decrepit old wooden cabinet formed a modest clutter in the gloom on the far side of the basement.

"Have you girls ever been back here?" Cassie asked as she strolled into the darkness.

"Back here?" Tiffany asked as she padded after their Mistress.  "Why?"

"That's the geek's way of saying no," Ashley sighed.

Tiffany glared at her BFF.  "Why would we?  There's nothing back here but...  Oh."

To the left of the old cabinet and masked by its shadow the girls beheld the outline of a doorway.  It was painted a mottled gray to match the concrete wall and was studded with bolts.  The hinges were heavy-duty and its substantial throw-bolt was secured by a high-security padlock.  Tiffany and Ashley watched as Cassie unlocked the padlock and drew back the bolt.  As she opened the door the girls could see the portal was steel and faced on the inside with thick, gray timbers held in place by the bolts.

Cassie flipped a switch on the outside wall next to the door and light flooded the ten-by-ten foot space beyond.  The room was paneled with the same thick barn-wood that faced the inside of the door, and that included the ceiling.  The light was coming from a recessed, overhead can protected by a hefty grid of iron bars.  Old cobwebs draped the corners and the room appeared to have a dirt floor.

"Inside, ladies," Cassie purred.

Tiffany was dubious.  "It's filthy in there, Cassie."

"Mistress," Cassie corrected her student.  "I turned up the thermostat before we went out, so you should be quite comfortable."

"Yeah, comfortable... Mistress," Tiffany muttered, then gingerly padded through the doorway and into the room.  Ashley sighed and followed.

"Down, please," Cassie said as she also entered the space.

The floor wasn't dirt.  I turned out to be concrete, like the rest of the basement, but covered by a thick layer of dust.

Tiffany knelt, then settled back on her rump with her legs tucked to one side.  "Yuk."

"Roger that," Ashley huffed as she assumed a similar pose.

"It is a mess in here," Cassie agreed, then knelt and began binding Tiffany's ankles together.  The openly sulking redhead's knees were next, then Ashley's ankles and knees.  "What did I tell you about pouting, young lady?" Cassie asked Tiffany.

Tiffany's lower lip was trembling and her blue-green eyes glistened with tears.  "I can't help it," she muttered.

Cassie knew the lack of cleanliness of their surroundings wasn't the issue.  "Working at Foxwood is a wonderful opportunity," she said with a reassuring smile.

"It's not that," Ashley said, gazing sadly at her BFF.  She than focused on Cassie.  "She doesn't want to leave you."

"Oh, sweetheart," Cassie sighed, then sat beside Tiffany and pulled her bound body into a tight embrace.  "It's for your future... financially and as a couple."

"A c-couple of what?"  Tiffany sobbed—then her eyes popped wide and she stared at Ashley.  "Y-you mean we have to..."

"You don't have to do anything, Tiffany," Cassie reassured her.  "You can say no to anything at anytime.  If you decide you don't like Foxwood, you'll always have a place at Sarand-ip."  She smiled at Ashley.  "And that goes for both of you."

Ashley smiled at her BFF.  "Well, what do ya think?"

"I think I'm scared," Tiffany muttered, then managed a weak smile.  "You really want to go?"

Ashley shrugged her rope-yoked shoulders.  "No, but I think we should give it a try."

Tiffany nodded.  Then focused on Cassie.  "Jillian is, uh, okay?"

Cassie kissed Tiffany, again.  "She's more than okay.  Jillian has been my friend for a very long time.  I would trust Jillian Foxwood with my life... or the welfare of my precious Trickster..."  She kissed Tiffany's forehead and released her embrace, then shuffled over and embraced Ashley.  "And that includes the welfare of my clever, beautiful, blue-eyed Tomboy, of course."  She kissed Ashley, then stood and made a futile attempt to brush the dirt from her panties and legs.  Her bare feet were a lost cause.

"Mistress, you're a mess," Tiffany noted.  Her eyes were still wet but she was no longer crying.

"No worries," Cassie chuckled, "I'll take a quick shower before joining Jillian in the hot tub.  Now, I'll expect an actual answer from you girls in the morning."

Cassie strolled to the doorway, then turned and smiled.  "Consider this what might be your first role-playing scenario as Foxwood Maidens.  You've been captured by slavers and are up for sale.  Word is Lady Foxwood is in the market for a couple of thralls to do drudge work at Foxwood Keep, so you're to be taken there for her consideration.  You'll remain in bondage and safely locked away until then, of course, but you won't be gagged tonight because I want you girls to chat, if you desire, and—"  She started slowly closing the heavy door.  "—no one can hear you in my basement dungeon, no matter how you scream."

Thud.  The door was now closed.  Thunk.  And the bolt thrown.  They assumed Cassie had also relocked the padlock, but the door was too thick for them to hear the click.

"At least Mistress did turn up the heat in here," Ashley muttered.  "It feels like this place has sub-floor heating."

"Yeah," Tiffany sighed.  "Now we get to sweat like pigs and roll around in filth all night."

"Could be worse," Ashley responded.

"Could be raining?"

Suddenly, the overhead light winked out, plunging Cassie's "basement dungeon" into total darkness.

"Could be dark," Ashley sighed.

Just then, a weak blue-green light began glowing from overhead.  The recessed fixture had a second, much smaller bulb, a nightlight.

"I love Cassie," Tiffany sighed, squirming in her bonds and smiling at the closed door.

Ashley sighed as well, then fully reclined on the floor and relaxed in her bonds as best she could.  "Some people are easy to please."

Tiffany was still sitting on her now very dirty butt, legs, and feet, and gazing down at Ashley.  She swallowed nervously, then gazed at her BFF.  "Ashley?"

"Yes, geek?" Ashley responded.

Tiffany swallowed, again.  "Are we a couple?"

HELP WANTED (Desperately!)
Chapter 9


Chapter 8
Chapter 10