The room was dark. Several over-sized, over-stuffed lounge chairs were arranged in an arc, facing a large HDTV. Only the center two chairs were occupied, one by a very attractive, middle-aged blonde woman, and the other by an equally attractive, middle-aged brunette. On the screen, Amanda Pressfield, world famous magician and escape artiste, was performing an abbreviated version of her act as a guest of the Conan O'Brian Show.
Amanda was an amazing beauty: long, straight, raven hair; smooth, fair skin; incredible eyes that were either hazel-gray or gray-hazel, depending on the light; the classic, even features of a Greek goddess; full, firm breasts; wasp-thin waist; and long, well-toned legs. She'd made People magazine's 100 Most Beautiful list last year, and her smiling face and perfect body were a perennial favorite of the countless on-line photo galleries specializing in celebrity pulchritude. On the glowing screen...
Amanda was dressed in one of her signature men's formal wear/show-girl stage costumes: black leather knee-boots; black fishnet pantyhose; black, French-cut short-shorts; and a white, sleeveless top resembling a waistcoat, starched shirt-front, and winged collar with white bow-tie. A black, swallow-tailed evening coat, white gloves, and a black top hat completed the ensemble; but the coat and hat had been removed and were waiting on the guest chair next to the host's desk.
Conan was with Amanda and Gloria Santoval, Amanda's assistant, helping with the act. Amanda's hands were together in front, at the level of her waist. Three pairs of handcuffs, all of different style and manufacture, were locked around her wrists, and three additional pairs around her booted ankles. Gloria and Conan were busy wrapping and hitching several meters of thick, white, nylon rope around her body, pinning her arms to her sides, her cuffed hands to her tummy, and her legs together. A white handkerchief was stuffed in her mouth, and a narrowly folded, black silk scarf was keeping it there.
Gloria, an incredible beauty in her own right, was dressed in appropriate magician's assistant attire: ballet slippers, fishnet pantyhose, elbow-length opera gloves, and a frilly, strapless bustier, all in dark gold with metallic accents. The Latina's dark brown hair was cut in a short, feathered bob. Comedy was an element of the act, and Gloria was making a show of "sadistically" enjoying herself as she pulled the ropes tight and and took "extra" loops around Amanda's helpless form.
Conan was hamming it up, playing the melodramatic villain, making remarks like "I've got you now, m' proud beauty!" and "You'll never escape my clutches—B'wah-hah-haa!"
Gloria rolled her eyes in "disgust" and continued rendering her boss "helpless". A heavy cloth bag was pulled up and over Amanda's head, trapping her inside, and the top secured with a chain and padlock. The bound, gagged, and bagged bundle was then placed inside a tall cage of thick, closely-spaced bars, and the door closed and padlocked.
Conan and Gloria struck the appropriate pose (with Conan still hamming it up and Gloria still feigning disgust), there was a blinding flash and a puff of white smoke... the smoke slowly cleared... and the cage was empty! No bag! No Amanda! The audience (and the camera) could clearly see through the cage bars to the blue curtains behind the stage.
"Mirrors," the blonde remarked. "The base of the cage is at an angle, and there are mirrored slats embedded in the bars that snap out under cover of the smoke. The audience sees the reflection of the side curtains, and the 'magician' is free to exit via a hidden door in the back."
"Victorian," the brunette remarked.
"Classic," the blonde agreed.
"Where'd she go?" Conan demanded.
With a bored expression, Gloria made a languid gesture towards the desk. The audience gasped! Smiling a radiant smile and completely free of all rope, handcuffs, and gag, Amanda was gracefully reclined in the guest chair. The audience clapped, whistled, and cheered, and Amanda stood and took a bow. Conan escorted her back to the stage area, and they both took repeated bows while the audience continued to applaud. Gloria watched the spectacle with bored disgust, her arms crossed under her ample bosom.
The blonde pressed a button on a small remote and the image on the screen froze, capturing a closeup of Amanda's incredible face. "Either the handcuffs were tricked or she had hidden keys. The only thing impressive was the speed with which she wiggled out of the rope. That was stage magic, not escapology. But then, I suppose waiting for her to defeat something truly challenging would have been considered 'dead air' by the network."
The brunette nodded. "There's no such thing as patience on television. The actual act is different, of course."
"Her current tour is finished?"
"Her next booking is in three months," the brunette confirmed. "Hiatus, to develop new material."
The blonde nodded. "Take her. The assistant too. Take them both."
"Are you sure you don't want to wait until after the final disposition of your current guests?"
The blonde shook her head. "No, why should I? Take them."
The brunette reached into her jacket pocket and produced an iPhone. She pressed an icon on the tiny screen and held the device to her ear. "The Pressfield acquisition is active," she said, to whoever was at the other end of the connection. "Make the delivery tonight."
|-||THE AMAZING AMANDA!||—Chapter 1||-|
A FIVE-STAR GOTHAM HOTEL
Gloria was lying on the rumpled sheets of one of the suite's two beds. Clad only in white panties and bra (which were doing an excellent job of accenting the Latina's smooth, brown skin), she was on her stomach with her hands behind her back. Her legs were folded back and her heels were nearly touching her silk-clad rump. In point of fact, she was in a strict, tight, no-nonsense hogtie, enforced by bands of white, quarter-inch, cotton rope binding her wrists, elbows, knees, and ankles. In addition, her thumbs were tied together with thin white cord, as were her big toes. She was struggling, and struggling hard, twisting her body and groping with her fingers for the unreachable knots.
The door to the bathroom opened, admitting a puff of rapidly dissipating steam and a naked Amanda. The fair-skinned beauty sauntered towards the bed, drying her long, black hair with a towel. A very self-satisfied, blatantly gloating smile curled her perfect lips. "Told ya so," she purred, gazing down at her helpless assistant.
"Yes, yes, you 're right, as always, Master Yoda," Gloria muttered. "Important, thumbs are—but I couldn't untie any of this even if I could use them... and why'd you have to tie my damn toes?"
Amanda sat on the bed, still toweling her hair. "For symmetry, of course."
"Of course," Gloria huffed. "Okay, I give. You can untie me now."
"A major demerit in your training ledger?"
Gloria made one final, struggling, twisting effort to escape her bonds; then attempted to blow an errant wisp of hair from her face. She was unsuccessful in both endeavors. The rope bands remained tight and their positions unchanged, and the strand settled back over her glowering face. "Yes," the captive conceded, "a major demerit."
"And I get to use you to try out one of my 'Inescapables'?"
"That is what a major demerit means," Gloria muttered. "You're enjoying this way too much. Untie me, Sadistic Bitch!"
Amanda smiled down at her assistant, but made no move to restore her freedom. "Yes, I have a wonderful new idea based on the plow pose."
Gloria's eyes popped wide. "The halasana position? You want to tie me up in the halasana position? Are you insane?"
Amanda reached out and began massaging her helpless friend's bound feet. "We both practice yoga. Why not use it for—"
"Torturing your assistant?"
Amanda's smile broadened. "I was going to say for inspiration." She paused in her massaging efforts to lightly rake her fingernails across the soles of Gloria's helpless feet.
Gloria shuddered and buried her face in the rumpled sheets, stifling a giggling laugh. "Wicked Witch!" she growled. "Untie me!"
Amanda resumed her massage. "Glo, Glo, Glo," she admonished, shaking her head. "How can you learn to be a world class escape artiste if you keep begging to be untied?"
"I'm not 'begging'. I've learned what I need to learn from this lesson, that I need my thumbs to manipulate the ropes. Who knew? Untie me, please?"
"If you're not going to take your training program seriously," Amanda admonished, "I'm going to get more rope and—"
Suddenly, there was a knock at the door, closely followed by a muffled announcement: "Room service!"
"It's about time," Amanda said, stood, and wrapped the damp towel around her torso. She raised her chin, shook her head, and her damp tresses fell into a semi-ordered drape down her back.
"Amanda!" Gloria whined, twisting in her bonds.
"Just a moment!" Amanda called towards the door, then arranged Gloria on her left side, placed her head on a pillow, and pulled the bedspread up to her chin, hiding her hogtied condition. She leaned close and kissed Gloria's pouting lips. "Pretend you're asleep."
Gloria stuck out her tongue. "Inhuman Monster!" she accused in a whisper, then closed her eyes and feigned slumber, as ordered.
Amanda confirmed the identity of the hotel waiter through the peephole, opened the door, then smiled sweetly and stepped aside.
The waiter pushed a large cart into the room. He successfully suppressed most of his reaction to Amanda's perfect, towel-wrapped-but-otherwise-nude body, but his appreciation was obvious.
Amanda smiled, placed her right index finger to her lips, and indicated the "sleeping" Gloria.
The waiter nodded, accepted a generous tip, and made his exit.
"Untie me!" Gloria demanded in a hoarse whisper, a few seconds after the door closed.
"What's this?" Amanda said, picking up a thick envelope of expensive-looking vellum from the cart.
"It better be calamari and shrimp salad. Untie me, dammit! I'm hungry!"
Amanda used a knife from the cart to open the envelope and pulled out a multi-page letter, also of vellum, together with a printed brochure.
Gloria squirmed in her bonds and watched as her boss read the first page of the letter, ignoring her assistant's helpless plight. "Oh... you can be so... Arrr!" She bucked and struggled for all she was worth, but only succeeded in exposing her shoulders and tousling her already tangled mop even worse. "Hideous Hag!"
"This is so cool!" Amanda cooed, reading the second page. "La Roque wants me to endorse their products."
"La Roque." Amanda struck a pose and stared at her assistant in disbelief. "Haute couture House of La Roque?"
"Oh... that La Roque. How much?"
Amanda continued reading. "Umm... Wow!"
"Six figures wow!" Amanda exclaimed. "Exactly which six figures depends on whether or not the deal goes multi-year."
"Wow! Certainly worth missing our flight." This was their last night in the city that was the last booking of their current tour. Both were looking forward to a period of vacation, and were scheduled to fly home the next evening to Amanda's modest ranch in Montana, rather grandiosely dubbed "The Pressfield Compound".
Amanda nodded in agreement, and continued reading. "Umm... appointment tomorrow, nine AM, at the La Roque store, downtown. We should still be able to make our flight, and if things go well, we can certainly afford the penalty if we have to re-book. Umm... They ask us to be discrete, for security reasons. They're worried about publicity control, of course." Amanda wasn't enough of a celebrity to be stalked by the paparazzi on a regular basis, but she had been plagued by the pests on occasion. She was usually "discrete" in her movements, dressing simply and avoiding staged events (unless her current tour needed the exposure, of course).
"Maybe they're worried about rivals recruiting you out from under them," Gloria suggested. "Maybe you should start a bidding war."
Amanda walked to the bed, tossed back the covers, and began untying the rope enforcing Gloria's hogtie. "Maybe I should hear their offer before I start getting stupid and greedy and ruin what sounds like the career boost of a lifetime."
"There is that," Gloria agreed, then unfolded her legs and stretched, full-length, in her remaining bonds, smiling blissfully and pointing her bound toes. Meanwhile, Amanda had returned to the cart and was transferring the plates, glasses, napkins, flatware, and wine to the suite's small dining table. "Hey!" Gloria called, squirming in her still inescapable bondage. "What about the rest?"
Amanda was transferring the bowls of salad and the small basket of rolls. "The brochure? It's just advertising for the local store. Apparently, this one specializes in leather."
"I mean the ropes, dammit!" Gloria growled.
Amanda pulled out a pair of chairs, then took a seat. "Manners, my Paduan Apprentice," she purred. "Hop on over here and eat... or would you rather I add a gag to your lesson and tuck you in for the night?"
Gloria sighed, squirmed to the edge of the bed, heaved her bound body into a sitting position, stood, and began bouncing (her breasts, especially) towards the waiting food. "Evil... Ugly... Bitch! Just you... wait 'til... your... next... practice... session. Arrr!" She sat in the chair and cast a sullen but hungry eye towards the large salad before her. "Well... aren't you going to feed me?"
Amanda smiled, stood, shook out Gloria's napkin, and tied it at the nape of the pouting prisoner's neck, like a bib. She then tucked the lower edge of the napkin under Gloria's bra cups and resumed her seat. "I think I'll let you graze. If you want some wine, just ask."
"Monster!" Gloria muttered under her breath, sighed, and lowered her face to her plate. She used her lips and tongue to gather a mouthful of seafood and greens, then sat upright, chewed, and swallowed. "Um... delicious." Her lower face, including the tip of her nose, was now smeared with vinaigrette and green flecks of fresh oregano.
Amanda held her wine glass to Gloria's lips. The captive took a sip, then swallowed. "Thank you. Butter my roll, would you?"
Amanda tore a roll into bite-size chunks, dabbed butter on each, and arranged them on a small plate beside Gloria's salad.
"You're really going to make me eat this entire meal tied-up and helpless?" Gloria demanded.
Amanda smiled, freed the edge of her towel, and let it fall open. "Of course," she answered, "and I've thought of a very interesting place for you to enjoy your dessert."
Gloria's gaze darted to the cups of pudding-like panna cotta topped with fresh berries, waiting on the table, then to Amanda's full, perfect breasts, flat tummy, neatly trimmed pubic bush, and strong, firm thighs. They'd played this game before. "Cruel Seductress!" she accused, but was unable to fully suppress a smile.
|-||THE AMAZING AMANDA!||—Chapter 1||-|
THE NEXT MORNING
La Roque sent a company limousine to the hotel. The driver was a polite, very attractive blonde female, dressed in boots, jodhpurs, uniform jacket, and cap, all in black.
Amanda was wearing black heels and a creme trench coat over a charcoal skirt, white silk blouse, and dark gray jacket. Gloria was wearing brown riding boots, black tights, a wool skirt in a bronze and black tartan, a dark brown cashmere sweater, and a camel coat. In an effort to impress, they had agreed to pull out all the stops, fashion-wise, to the limits of their traveling wardrobe, and fervently hoped that whoever would be conducting the interview wouldn't consider their outfits to be "sooo last season".
The limo deposited them at the door of the La Roque store. It occupied at least two stories of one corner of a huge skyscraper in the toniest, most exclusive part of the shopping district. The windows displayed a variety of leather attire: coats, skirts, vests, and corset-belts; as well as the usual accessories: belts, handbags, and luggage.
They were met by an attractive, middle-aged brunette. She was dressed in a smart, dark red business suit, and was tall, made more so by the high heels of a pair of black riding boots. Her piercing blue eyes were rather cold; but Amanda sensed intensity, rather than hostility. She decided the brunette was probably a classic "Type-A" personality.
"Ms. Pressfield, I'm Mercy Dench," the brunette said, shaking Amanda's hand, "Ms. La Roque's personal assistant." She turned to Gloria. "And you would be?"
"Gloria Santoval," Gloria answered, offering her hand, "Ms. Pressfield's personal assistant."
"Yes, of course," Mercy responded, giving Gloria's hand a perfunctory shake. She turned back to Amanda. "This way, please." She gestured towards the interior of the store. "We have private viewing rooms on the upper floor."
Gloria silently mouthed the word "Bitch", behind Mercy's back. Amanda waited until Mercy's head was turned, then gave her "personal assistant" a warning glare.
"Forgive me," Amanda said, as they walked through the store, "but I didn't know there even was a 'Ms. La Roque'. House of La Roque is a family business?"
"Petra La Roque is the third generation to lead La Roque Internationale," Mercy explained. "She cultivates a very low profile, so I'm not surprised you've never heard of her. House of La Roque is world famous. Petra La Roque is not."
"I see," Amanda responded. The store was huge, with rack after rack of leather clothing. The smell of tanned leather was strong but not overpowering, the sign of efficient ventilation and expensively cured merchandise. There were a few patrons wandering about, all well-dressed women. The sales staff were all young women in boots, leather skirts, and black sweaters, with gold name tags pinned above their right breasts.
Music was playing throughout the store. The volume was low, but the sound quality was very good. Amanda recognized the current selection: "1234" by the artist, Feist. The video was playing on several flat-screen monitors, mounted on ceiling brackets throughout the store. Amanda glanced back, over her shoulder. Sure enough, Gloria was bopping blissfully along, nodding her head, rolling her shoulders, and waving her hands in time to the music. Amanda suppressed a smile, and sent Gloria another warning stare.
Gloria stopped her dance moves; but an impish, impertinent grin curled her lips.
Still in the lead, Mercy had missed the entire exchange. A clerk opened a door as the party approached, and they entered an elevator. "I assume you've had a chance to study the outline of our proposal?" she asked, as the elevator began to rise.
Amanda nodded. "I've never done actual modeling, other than photo-shoots for publicity and a couple of magazine articles."
"Our research department has copies," Mercy responded. "We're quite confident you'll make an excellent spokesperson for La Roque."
"There was one thing," Amanda said. "The letter mentioned my becoming a 'Participating Consultant' for your 'Special Apparel' division? What's that about?"
Mercy smiled. "I can rely on your discretion, of course?" Amanda nodded. "Our Special Apparel division," Mercy continued, "caters to a very wealthy and, shall we say, eccentric clientele. Their personal interests parallel your professional interests... as an escape artiste."
"Oh, I get it," Gloria said. "Super-rich bondage-freaks."
"Gloria!" Amanda hissed, glaring at her assistant.
Mercy laughed (much to Amanda's relief). "A somewhat discourteous description, but essentially correct."
Amanda continued to stare at Gloria. "Umm... leather bondage goods, for, umm, recreational use?"
Mercy nodded. "Certification by the world's greatest escape artiste that the items in the La Roque Donjon line are, in fact, inescapable? I can't think of a better endorsement."
"Flattery will get you everywhere," Gloria muttered.
"And I am flattered," Amanda said, giving Gloria yet another warning stare. "Exactly what kind of items are we—" The elevator door opened and Amanda stared in amazement. "—Oh!"
|-||THE AMAZING AMANDA!||—Chapter 1||-|
They stepped into a large, circular room with stone walls and a domed ceiling. In the center was a low, circular platform, surrounded by several comfortable chairs, and connected to a curtained alcove by a catwalk. A sign above the alcove read:
The setting was opulent and tasteful, but Amanda's reaction had been caused by the dozen or more manikins arranged on low pedestals against the walls. All were realistic and anatomically correct in their proportions, but had matte-black "skin", as if regular store manikins had been dressed in tight-fitting body stockings with faceless hoods—and all were further dressed in tight, elaborate, leather sheathes, binders, and/or harnesses, as well as hoods, helmets, and/or harness gags! The leather restraints varied in finish and texture from smooth, glossy patent leather to richly pebbled and exotically creased animal hides. About half were dyed natural, traditional colors: black, various shades of brown, and oxblood; and the rest were in more unusual colors: blood-red, slate-blue, thyme-green, eggplant, etc.
One particularly striking ensemble, near the elevator door, was a creme color that almost exactly matched Amanda's trench coat. It was a combination of a harness-gag, posture collar, single-sleeve arm-binder, body harness, corset, and thigh-boots. All the metal hardware was finished a dull nickel-black, and every buckle, zipper, and clasp was secured with a tiny padlock in the shape of a castle chess piece.
"Wow," Gloria gasped.
Female attendants stepped forward and helped Amanda and Gloria remove their coats. They were dressed like the sales staff on the first floor, right down to the gold name tags; but in addition, all were wearing gold chokers with pendant rook charms dangling from rings on the front.
Mercy gestured toward a grouping of chairs. "Please forgive the drama of my bringing you directly to our Donjon showroom, but I wanted to gauge your reactions to this aspect of our offer."
Amanda settled into a chair. "I thought the compensation figure in your letter was rather generous for a simple ad campaign."
"Rest assured," Mercy said, "we do intend to produce the campaign for our... as they say... 'vanilla' line, but we neglected to mention Donjon out of... discretion."
"I understand," Amanda nodded. Her gaze kept wandering to the various manikins, then back to Mercy.
Gloria watched Amanda trying very hard not to stare at the display of leather restriction. "Talk about your kid in a candy store," the grinning Latina whispered under her breath.
Mercy laughed (before Amanda could glare at her impertinent assistant yet again). "I'm curious, Ms. Pressfield—"
"Amanda. Please call me Amanda."
Mercy smiled. "Of course. Tell me, Amanda, what are your first impressions?"
Amanda smiled back. "Excellent design. With few exceptions, most such... apparel lines are poorly sized and rather pedestrian, to the point of self-parody. Your designs are visually pleasing, with unexpected details, all of which look functional, rather than superficial and decorative."
Amanda pointed to one of the manikins. It was dressed in a black hobble-skirt and "restrained" by an arm-binder and harness that mimicked the self-hugging, arms-crossed-in-front pose of a standard straitjacket. "The angle and placement of the harness straps would defeat any attempt to extract the arms, even if the wearer dislocated her shoulders. Yet, the overall design is understated and esthetically pleasing."
"It's like the difference between 'Country' and 'Shaker' or 'Arts and Crafts'," Gloria said, "to use a furniture analogy. 'Less-is-more' and 'simple' doesn't need to mean boring. Your stuff is... very cool."
Mercy gave Gloria an appraising smile, as if she was truly noticing her for the first time. "I see. Thank you, Ms. Santoval."
Just then, an attendant arrived, pushing a cart laden with a demitasse service and coffee press. She was a slender redhead with freckled cheeks and striking green eyes. Her name tag read "Julianne".
"Coffee?" Mercy offered.
"Thank you," Amanda responded. Gloria smiled at Julianne and nodded.
Julianne poured and distributed three cups of dark, rich coffee. Offers of cream or sugar were declined, and she departed, leaving the cart.
All three sipped their coffee, then Mercy gave Amanda and Gloria a beaming smile. "So... would you like to try something on?"
Amanda blinked, uncertainly. "Umm... I..."
"Like I said," Gloria purred, "kid in a candy store."
Mercy turned to Gloria. "The offer is for both of you, Ms. Santoval. Now that we meet, face-to-face, I'd like to extend the contract to include your modeling and consulting services as well. Ms. Pressfield would be our lead spokesman, but I'm sure the photographers could do wonders with The Amazing Amanda and her lovely assistant."
Gloria's eyes popped wide. "Really?" She turned to Amanda, who beamed a happy smile, reached out, and gave her friend's hand a squeeze. "Okay!" Gloria exclaimed, then regained her composure. "I mean, we can talk."
"Excellent," Mercy responded. She motioned to a pair of attendants, and they stepped forward. "Cynthia and Darcy will assist you with the outfits I've chosen."
"You really want us to try something on... right now?" Amanda asked.
"I've been instructed to be sure you're, shall we say, comfortable with the Donjon line before we proceed," Mercy explained. "We can talk about the details of the campaign after you've changed."
"Well..." Amanda turned to Gloria, who shrugged. The circumstances were unusual, but they were used to demonstrating Amanda's skills in professional settings, to booking agents, stage managers, and the like. Of course, it was always Gloria who rendered Amanda "helpless", not strangers who would be rendering them both truly helpless. But still... it was a professional situation, and a lot of money was at stake. "All right then," Amanda said, finally. "I confess I am rather curious to examine your designs, closeup."
"Don't forget, we have a seven-forty-five flight," Gloria reminded her boss. "We can't get too carried away."
"Not to worry," Mercy said, with a reassuring smile. "In the highly unlikely event that our negotiations cause you to miss your flight, La Roque will handle all necessary arrangements and any added expense."
"That's most kind of you," Amanda beamed, then stood and allowed Cynthia, a petite blonde, to lead her towards a door hidden behind a curtain. At the same time, Gloria finished her coffee with a quick gulp, then was led to another door by Darcy, a brunette with fair skin and pale blue eyes.
Mercy watched her guests depart, then turned to the service door beside the elevator. "Julianne!" she called.
The redhead hurried to Mercy's side.
Mercy indicated the cart with a languid gesture. "The coffee press is not to be plunged until you are in the presence of Ms. La Roque's guests. I believe that is standard procedure?"
"Yes, Ms. Dench."
"Maximum freshness. Understand?"
"Yes, Ms. Dench." Julianne took a step back and turned to leave.
"You are not dismissed," Mercy said quietly.
Julianne spun on her heel and returned. "Sorry, Ms. Dench."
"That was a stupid, thoughtless mistake," Mercy said, sipping her coffee. "You know I require strict adherence to established standards of service."
"Yes, Ms. Dench."
Mercy refilled her cup. "You may take this away. Our guests' cups, as well. They won't be needing them when they return."
"Yes, Ms. Dench." Julianne returned Amanda and Gloria's cups to the cart, and prepared to depart. "Will there be anything else, Ms. Dench?"
Mercy took a final sip, then handed her cup to Julianne. "Yes, after you've cleaned up the cart, report to Ms. Dojack for manikin duty."
The cup rattled in Julianne's suddenly unsteady hand, and the color drained from her freckled face. "Y-yes, Ms. Dench. How long—uh—What should I tell Ms. Dojack will be the length of the reassignment? The remainder of my shift?"
"I'll tell her myself, when next I see her," Mercy answered. "Attempt to influence one of my punishment decisions again," she continued, in a quiet, matter-of-fact tone, "and I'll make the assignment permanent, and transfer you to Special Apparel R&D, in the Tower. Go!"
"Yes, Ms. Dench." Her face still pale, Julianne gave a delicate, involuntary shiver as she turned and pushed the cart away.
Mercy reached into the jacket of her pocket and produced her iPhone. She opened the La Roque intranet and began perusing files. "All right, ladies!" she said in a loud voice. "You all did very well. No attempted vocalizations, please, but you may move."
All of the "manikins" began making small squirming movements, revealing themselves to be helpless women, completely shrouded in black body stockings, but very much alive! A quiet chorus of creaking leather and the tinkling of miniature padlocks filled the room as they struggled, testing the limits of their inescapable costumes and attempting to find some level of comfort for their no doubt aching muscles and joints.
Mercy continued navigating her way through various schedules and memoranda, ignoring the surrounding spectacle of leather-restrained, writhing, twisting, female helplessness.