by Van ©2008---

Chapter 12_

---red ---red

To see the actresses I would cast in AMAZING AMANDA: The Motion Picture,
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Amanda opened her eyes and beheld... darkness, mostly.  She was tied up, and gagged, and naked... still... but the details were unimportant.  There was a scent in the air—dry stone dust, old wood, cold iron—and it was... comforting... familiar.  Also, she was feeling deliciously lazy... like she sometimes felt waking up on a summer morning, when she had no place she had to be, and no compelling reason to stir from the soft, warm sheets.  Later, she thought.  I'll deal with being tied up and helpless ...later.  She closed her eyes.

Time passed.

Amanda opened her eyes, again, and this time they stayed open.

Dim, yellow light was shining from above through tiny, narrow gaps between the thick, wide boards of a timber roof.  She knew exactly where she was: the cellar beneath the main barn of the Pressfield Compound!

Amanda was home!

Unfortunately, she was not only in the barn cellar but was also inside a cage of iron bars set in a cubical wooden frame.  It was about five feet on all sides—and she recognized it, as well.  It was her cage!  She had built it!  The frame was constructed from seasoned eight-by-eights, and compound tongue and groove joints, reinforced with iron straps and lag-bolts, secured each vertex.  The bars were all one-and-a-half inch diameter round-stock, solidly set in deep holes drilled in the framing timbers.  On the roof and three of the four walls, the bars were arranged in a six-by-six grid; and wherever one bar crossed another, Amanda had first lashed the iron rods with thin wire, then fused the joint with a solid weld.  The fourth cage wall had an additional pair of vertical timbers framing a door of welded iron bars, and there were narrow grids of bars on either side of the frame.  The door had heavy-duty hinges and was secured with a massive iron bolt and a high-security padlock of casehardened steel.  The floor of the cage was a solid bed of four-inch thick wooden planks, joined tongue-and-groove.  The cage had ten-times the strength required to hold an enraged tigress, and was obviously inescapable (or so it seemed).

Amanda would deal with the cage later.  Her first order of business was her bondage.  A ball-gag was strapped in her mouth and she was lying on her right side, bent forward at the waist, with her legs extended.  Her chin nearly touched her knees, and her wrists were bound together under her thighs.  Additional rope lashed her ankles together, and bound each of her upper arms to its respective thigh.  It was a tie that would have rendered the average person completely helpless, and it could easily have been made totally inescapable, even for "The World's Greatest Escape Artiste".  If the free ends of the final knot of her wrist bonds had been stretched and knotted beyond the reach of her fingers, she'd be bound for good... but they had not, and she could feel the key knot.

Not that getting free would be easy.  Whoever had tied her up had taken multiple turns around her wrists, thighs and upper arms, and ankles, had cinched the lashings, and had finished things off not with a simple square or reef knot, but with some sort of rosette hitch.  And, while Amanda could touch the snarl of rope, the angle was awkward and robbed her hands of much of their strength.  She teased at the knot's tightly entwined strands for nearly a half-hour before she made headway—but then things went rather quickly.  Her wrist bonds surrendered, and then it was a matter of less than three minutes before the rest of the ropes were untied and she was lying in a scatter of tangled strands.  She unbuckled and removed her ball-gag.

And now for the cage.

Amanda had built a secret means of escape into the door mechanism.  The narrow grid of bars on the latch side of the door was spring-loaded.  All she had to do was grab the bars and lift, a hidden lever would release, and the door would swing outwards, padlocked hasp and all.  However, the grid was very heavy and the hidden springs in the channels were very stiff.  It wouldn't do to have the bars rattle or shake under casual inspection.  In addition, there was a mechanism for defeating the hidden lever and making the cage truly inescapable.  One of the lag bolts in the door frame was shorter than the rest and allowed the mechanism to function; however, if it was removed and replaced with a longer bolt, the lever would be locked and the grid wouldn't lift, no matter what the strength of the cage's occupant.

In the past, the cage had been used for "Inescapable" exercises.  That is, Amanda had installed the no-escape deadbolt and used the cage to incarcerate a rope bound and/or leather encased Gloria.  She tried to remember when, exactly, she had last put the cage to such use... and whether she had changed out the bolt, afterwards.  She wasn't sure.

Amanda braced her feet on the floor of the cage, grabbed the grid, took a deep breath, and heaved.  Nothing happened.  She made a mental note to oil the mechanism—and tried again.  This time the grid moved... a little.  Lots of oil, I promise, she thought, and tried a third time.

This time the grid moved the required half-inch, there was a metallic click, and the door quivered.  Still straining to support the grid, Amanda gave the door a kick with her right foot.  It swung open, taking the entire latch housing with it.  She let the grid fall, fully opened the door, and crawled from the cage.

Okay, she was out—naked and a little dirty—but she was out.

Amanda looked around the dark, dusty cellar.  The walls were dry-stacked stones, ranging from skull-size to small boulders, and the floor was packed dirt.  There were a dozen very thick timber columns supporting the massive joists overhead, arranged in three rows of four.  Several of the columns and joists had dangling iron rings at convenient locations.  They were were also useful for "Inescapables".

Amanda padded to the wooden steps leading up to the main floor of the barn.  She made her way to the top and prepared to open the trapdoor.  This would be another opportunity for whoever had put her in the cage to indefinitely prolong her captivity.  The hatch-like door was heavy, set in a frame of solid timbers, and its heavy duty hinges and bolt were on the other side of the thick wood.  If the bolt was closed and/or padlocked—she wouldn't be going anywhere.

Amanda planted her feet, put her shoulder against the underside of the door, lifted—and it opened!  She stepped up onto the main floor, eased the trapdoor back down, looked around... and smiled.

- THE AMAZING AMANDA!  —Chapter 12 -
Off to the left, near the obsolete, dust cloth-covered props from her previous tours, Gloria and Fiona were seated in hardwood chairs, and several dozen leather straps were making sure they stayed there.  Both were nude, as nude as Amanda herself, at the moment.  Ball-gags prevented them from expressing their pleasure at the sight of "The Amazing Amanda", but their eyes told the story.

"Hey, you two!" Amanda said, with a wave and a smile.  "Be right with you.  Don't go anywhere."

Gloria and Fiona rolled their eyes, looked at each other, and heaved rather theatrical, long-suffering sighs.  Sidekicks and Assistants never got the priority treatment they so clearly deserved.

Directly before Amanda was a third chair-bound prisoner: Chessy Golden.  In her case, the restraints were rope—yard upon yard of rope.  Amanda smiled and walked a slow circle around her friend and fellow-escapologist.  The redhead's bonds appeared to have been applied in two stages.

Stage one had rendered Chessy completely helpless.  Her arms were folded behind her back in a tight box-tied.  Tight, neat, and well-hitched bands of rope bound her wrists, pinned her upper arms to her torso, and encircled her thumbs, hands, and shoulders.  The terminal, key knot—more an exercise in macramé than an actual knot—ran in a vertical series of coils and hitches between her breasts.  More rope bound her knees and ankles tightly together, and the ankle bondage included the soles of her feet and her big toes.

Stage two had involved the lashing of Chessy to the chair, ensuring she wouldn't be rolling, writhing, wiggling, or hopping away.  Dozens of strands of rope, in lateral and horizontal bands, from shoulders to ankles, melded her in place.  The pattern was relatively simple, but highly redundant, and it was abundantly clear that Chessy wouldn't be leaving the chair without assistance.

Amanda stepped behind Chessy, unbuckled the redhead's gag, then stepped back to the front.  The ball-gag dangled from her right hand and a coy smile curled her lips.  "So... is this another of the La Roche bitch's games?  Is a platoon of glamazons in the shadows, waiting to pounce?"

Chessy stretched her jaw and licked her lips before answering.  "'Glamazons'?"

"The leather-clad bitches with the helmets and shock-batons?  What do you call them?"

Chessy smiled.  "Oh, you mean the 'Power Rangers'.  They may have us under surveillance of some sort, but they said they were leaving."  She nodded towards the far side of the barn.  "There's a note for you to read after you untie me, over there."

"After?" Amanda purred.  She dropped the ball-gag, spun on her heel, and sauntered towards the area indicated.

"Oh, very funny," Chessy huffed.  Amanda continued walking away.  "Amanda?  C'mon, we've been tied up for..."  She glanced at the patiently waiting Assistants.  "Two hours?"

Gloria and Fiona exchanged a gagged glance, then nodded.
Her back was to the chair-bound captives, so Amanda missed this exchange.  She was approaching a neat stack of more than thirty packing cases, varying in size from large suitcases to steamer trunks.  All were brushed aluminum with stainless steel reinforcing bands, similar in style to the "coffin-cases" that had supposedly been used to transport the captives from the La Roque Tower to their present location.  Prominent, atop the nearest case, was a parchment envelope.  It was the same expensive vellum as the invitation that had been delivered to Amanda's Gotham hotel room, back at the beginning of this "adventure".  She broke the red, Donjon-logo wax seal, extracted the single sheet within, and began to read:

My Dear Ms. Pressfield,

I hope you enjoyed our first "Direct Consultation" as much as I.

The cases you see before you contain copies of the entire Donjon line, as well as several prototype ensembles not yet in our catalog.  All are in your size, of course.  Your "homework assignment" is to test each outfit, for a minimum of six hours.  You will receive a bonus for each certification, and a double bonus if you manage to escape.

My staff will begin sending you documents and plans as we continue to develop our Las Vegas and Caribbean projects.

My regards to Ms. Golden.

Until we meet again,        
Petra La Roque

P.S.:  Your charming Assistants have a "homework assignment" of their own.  I would appreciate your professional supervision of all relevant activities.

THE AMAZING AMANDA!  —Chapter 12 -
Amanda returned the sheet to the envelope, dropped it back on top of the case, then sauntered back to stand before Chessy's chair.  Arms crossed below her breasts, she smiled and gazed at her helpless friend.  "You okay?" she asked.  "Well enough for me to deal with those two, first, I mean," she clarified, nodding at Gloria and Fiona.

Chessy sighed, and affected a much-put-upon pout.  "Yeah, sure, why not?" she muttered.

Amanda turned, walked to the assistants, stepped behind Gloria's chair, then unbuckled and removed her ball-gag.  "So," she asked, "did you enjoy New York?"

Gloria stretched her jaw and licked her lips before answering.  "Not especially.  People are rude, it's dirty, noisy, it smells... oh, and the super-wealthy psycho-kidnappers...  I can do without."

Amanda smiled, and attacked the straps binding her assistant to the chair.  The arrangement was rather clever, she had to admit.  All of the straps were thin, narrow, and butter soft, like chamois ribbons; and all were doubled.  That is, each strap was actually a pair of straps, one overlying the other. Numerous leather loops linked them together.  Her captors had encircled the chair with one of the straps, often interlacing it with the chair's frame or slats, and then had bound some part of Gloria's anatomy with the other.  All were tight, dimpling the Latina's brown skin from shoulders to ankles.  Amanda worked her way down the chair, releasing the leather bands holding Gloria in place, but not bothering with the straps encircling the chair.

"I... I'm sorry for all the horrible stuff that happened," Amanda said, quietly.

"Horrible stuff?" Gloria asked.

"The torture?  The punishment?"

"Oh, that stuff," Gloria responded.  "Remember when she gave you that song and dance about how my version of that first leather outfit was sadistic?"

Amanda nodded.  "The last time we were in the same place at the same time, 'til now."  She paused the process of unbuckling Gloria's bonds.

"She was lying," Gloria muttered.  "There was nothing 'sadistic' about that suit, other than those spiked booby and ass pad things.  She punked you."

"So," Amanda grinned, "what you're saying is this was just an inconvenient delay in the start of our vacation?"

"Either that," Gloria said, "or we both get all dramatic and weepy.  Let's not go there."

Amanda's eyes were welling.  "That's what I love about you, Glo," she said, softly.  "You make me laugh, even when I want to cry."

"No crying in the barn!" Gloria ordered.

"Okay," Amanda laughed, and resumed her unbuckling duties.  "Now, what's this about you two..."  She nodded at Fiona.  "...having 'homework'?"

Gloria frowned.  "Homework?"

Amanda nodded towards the cases.  "It was in the note."

"Oh!" Gloria responded.  Her arms were finally free, and she lifted them overhead in a back-arching, spine-popping stretch.  "Yeah, one of the goons said something about us having a new 'responsibility'.  That must be it."  She frowned.  "It was kinda strange."

"Strange?" Amanda laughed.  "What could possibly be strange about any of this?"  She unbuckled Gloria's ankles, then took a couple of steps back.

Gloria stood, smiled, and stretched, again.  This time it was a full-body stretch, and she groaned with pleasure.  "E-yah!  Yeah, strange.  I'm serious.  She, the goon I mean, was... strange about it.  Warned us to be careful and do a good job, or we'd be sorry... like it was personal.  She said there were instructions in the house."

Amanda smiled.  "So, strange and serious.  How ya doin', Glo?  C'mere."  She opened her arms and they hugged, squeezing each other in a tight embrace for several warm, close seconds.

"I'm okay," Gloria answered, finally.  "A little sore, a little stiff, a little terrified and freaked-out...  I'm okay."

Amanda laughed, kissed Gloria's lips, then released the hug.  Her head swiveled as she turned and examined the barn in detail, concentrating on the shadows.  "They're really gone?"

"Geez, boss," Gloria answered, hands on hips, "how the frakk do I know?  You expect me to keep track of our kidnappers' schedules?  That wasn't in the job description."

Amanda cocked an eyebrow.

"Okay, yeah, they've gone."  Gloria shrugged.  "They said they were going, and then they left, and that was somethin' like... two hours ago."

Amanda nodded towards Fiona.  "Get her into the house, okay?  Then you better look for those 'instructions' and sort out this homework/responsibility thing."

"No problema," Gloria purred, smiling at Fiona.  "I assume you'll be..."  She shifted her gaze to the still tightly roped Chessy.  "...otherwise occupied?"

"Hello, Gloria!" Chessy shouted, from across the barn.

Gloria waved at Chessy as she moved to release Fiona.  "Hello, Ms. Golden!"

"Chessy, please!" the helpless redhead called.  "Call me Chessy."

Amanda sauntered to Chessy and began the process of untying the outer layer of Chessy's bonds, the ropes binding her to the chair.  She was careful not to untie the ropes that actually bound Chessy's upper body.

"How 'bout you, Little Amazing?" Chessy said quietly, her eyes on the process of Gloria freeing Fiona.  "Are you okay?"

"Couldn't be better," Amanda muttered, as her fingers dealt with the first knot.  Untying the ropes was a great deal more involved than the release of a couple of dozen buckles, and she had only freed Chessy's upper body from the chair when they were joined by Gloria and Fiona.  The ropes of Chessy's box-tie remained intact.

"Let me help," Fiona said, knelt at Chessy's feet, and reached for her ankles.

"No, go with Gloria and help her check out the house," Chessy ordered.  "We'll be okay."

Fiona's gaze shifted from Chessy, to Amanda, then back.

"We'll be right behind you," Amanda reassured both assistants.

Fiona stood and brushed the dirt from her knees.  "You sure?" she asked.

"We'll be okay," Chessy reiterated.  "Go."

Fiona smiled, leaned close and took Chessy's head in her hands—then delivered a long, deep kiss to her mouth.

Amanda and Gloria smiled and watched as the pairs' lips puckered and their tongues slid and probed.

Gloria nudged Amanda's side with an elbow.  "We'll do some of that later, okay?" she suggested with a saucy wink.

"Only for an hour or two," Amanda answered with a grin.
Fiona broke the kiss.  "From now on, no room service!  We eat every meal down in the hotel restaurants."

"I don't think that'll help," Chessy laughed.

Amanda glanced at Gloria.

"They got nabbed by the La Roque goon-squad right out of their Vegas hotel room," Gloria explained.

"Oh," Amanda said, "as opposed to walking in and volunteering, like us."  The period of extended kissing finally over (for the moment), Amanda resumed untying the rope bands binding Chessy's lap to the chair.

"C'mon," Gloria said, and put her arm across Fiona's shoulders.  "I think my clothes'll fit you."

"Clothing..." Fiona said.  "I remember wearing clothing."

Amanda and Chessy watched as their assistants walked away, side-by-side.  Gloria slid open the barn's main door, they made their exit, and the door slid closed.

Amanda stopped untying Chessy's bonds and stood before the chair that still imprisoned her friend's naked, rope-bound body from thighs to ankles.  She crossed her arms under her breasts, once again, and her smile faded.  "Okay, now we can talk," she growled.

- THE AMAZING AMANDA!  —Chapter 12 -
"First of all," Amanda said, "I want you to know that the whole thing about my Dad's death has absolutely nothing to do with any of this.  I was wrong to blame you, in any way, and—"

"You were angry," Chessy interrupted.  "I should have done more to help you work your way through it... but I was angry too.  It's part of the process."

Amanda gazed into Chessy's eyes.  "That's true," she admitted.  "There's more than enough blame to go around.  We both handled things pretty damn poorly—but at least we're over it now."

Chessy nodded.  "Yeah."

"Yeah."  Amanda stepped forward and kissed Chessy's lips.  "Now that that's behind us...  Give me one good reason I shouldn't drag you down to the cellar and lock you in my cage 'til Variety runs a 'Whatever Happened to Chessy Golden?' article."

Chessy grinned.  "Huh?"

Amanda cocked her head to the side.  "You think I just fell off the back of a turnip truck?  You think I don't remember any of the stuff we used to brainstorm about when I was a kid, Chester?  Two thirds of the pages in that La Roque bitch's Vegas and Fantasy Island binder might as well be stamped 'Copyright Chessy Golden'.  Was it your idea to kidnap me?  Did you brief her on all my escape tactics?"

"Little Amazing," Chessy sighed, "I'm surprised at you.  You know damn well that once the one with the rope gains a certain skill set, the balance shifts almost totally away from the escapist, regardless of her skill set.  I think Petra La Roque reached that level sometime before her sweet-sixteen party.  She didn't need any briefing, which I didn't give her, in any case."

"Okay," Amanda conceded, "but you're not off the hook.  Just tell me.  Are you my fellow-damsel, or Petra's co-villainess?"

A blush colored Chessy's freckled cheeks.  "Okay... I'm her junior assistant subsidiary under-villainess—but not by choice."


Chessy sighed.  "I was approached about La Roque's grand schemes more than a year ago, and agreed to participate.  I wanted you in on the deal from day one, but Petra was cagey.  She kept putting me off, and I'd already signed a non-disclosure agreement.  Anyway, I didn't know that part of her scheme was for me to 'volunteer' to be a Special Apparel Consultant, or that Fiona would be involved... other than as my consultant... and I sure as hell didn't know you and Gloria would be kidnapped.  I helped her with the planning for the theater, resort, school, and the rest; but I actually was kidnapped, like you."

Amanda sighed, then resumed untying Chessy's ropes.  "You can fill me in on the details later.  That bitch!  I don't suppose there's much point in even trying to get her prosecuted."

"You mean Petra La Roque?"

"No, the Pope's girlfriend!  Who else??" Amanda demanded.  "Bitch!"

Chessy smiled.  "I'm no lawyer, but I doubt if we could get the cops to do more than have a talk with her... or, more probably, with her staff.  No judge is gonna issue a warrant based on a wild story about her kidnapping us for fun, not with all her wealth and powerful friends.  They'll think we're pulling a publicity stunt."

"Yeah," Amanda agreed, "and her staff will have a dozen witnesses, all ready to swear we were trying to kidnap her, or were trying to rob the place, and they'll have bogus security-cam footage to back it up.  We'll be the one's going to prison."

Chessy smiled.  "And after we get out, her dream team of international lawyers, solicitors, and whatever the hell else they call them, will slap us with civil suits for breach of contract."

"Bitch!" Amanda reiterated.

"On the other hand..."

Amanda paused in the act of untying Chessy's ankles, and focused on her smiling face.  "What?"

"Wait 'til your next bank statement arrives in the mail."

"Ha!"  Amanda attacked the ropes binding Chessy's lower legs and knees.  "Like that matters!  That bitch can throw around all the cash she wants.  She's still a bitch, and I hate her smug, oh-so-cultured, euro-Bitch ass!"

"What's love got to do with it?" Chessy laughed.  "You're rich, I'm rich... rich-er, anyway... the bitch is willing to bankroll all our fantasy projects... and... we get free, VIP admission to her Damsel-World theme park, anytime we want!"

"And maybe when we don't want.  Ha!" Amanda scoffed, again.  "I hate her!"

"The heroine is supposed to hate the villainess," Chessy purred, "isn't she?"

Amanda had finished freeing Chessy, from the waist down, but the grinning redhead was still inescapably bound, from the waist up.  Amanda helped her stand, then tied a slip-knot in the end of a length of rope, formed a loop, and dropped it over her head.  "I'm never going near that bitch again," Amanda growled, as she snugged the noose around Chessy's throat.

"Never say never, Little Amazing," Chessy laughed, as she was led towards the barn door.
- THE AMAZING AMANDA!  —Chapter 12 -
Gloria and Fiona made their way to the "Pressfield Residence", Amanda's ranch house home.  The front door was locked, but Gloria knew where the spare key was hidden.  While she retrieved it from under a large rock near the porch steps, Fiona walked to the side and gazed down at the valley below.

"It's beautiful up here," she said, watching a red tail hawk ride the thermals.

"It is that," Gloria agreed.  "When I first moved in with Amanda, I though I was gonna go stir crazy; but now I love it."

"And her," Fiona said, with a broad smile.

"Well, duh!" Gloria laughed, and opened the door.  "C'mon."  She led her friend through the house and towards the guest room that was hers when "The Amazing Amanda and her Beautiful Assistant Gloria" weren't on tour.  "Showers, I suppose, then I'll see what I can find in the kitchen.  I doubt if the goons shopped for us, but there's always canned and dry stuff in the pantry."  She opened a door, revealing a well-appointed bathroom.  "You go first.  The towels are in the linen closet."  She continued down the hall.  "I'll lay out some clothes."  She opened the door to her bedroom—and froze.  "Uh... Fiona?  You better get in here!"

Fiona pattered down the hall to stand beside Gloria, in the bedroom doorway.  "Oh!" she gasped.

On the far side of the bedroom, against one wall, was a large steel cage.  It was similar, if not identical, to the cage Lizette La Roque had used to incarcerate Fiona, back in her bedroom in the La Roque Tower.  Inside the cage was a naked woman... naked but for leather restraints... shocking pink leather restraints—and that woman was Lizette La Roque, herself!!

"Oh, indeed," Gloria whispered, and clasped hands with Fiona.  They walked to the cage.

Lizette's fingers and hands were encased in tightly laced mitts and her wrists locked in broad cuffs.  A leather and steel chastity belt was locked around her waist and through her crotch, cuffs were around her ankles, a collar was buckled and padlocked around her throat, and a harness caged her head, clamping a rubber ball in her mouth.  Short lengths of steel chain linked all elements of Lizette's pink leather bonds, and enforced a semi-crouched, hands-and-knees stance.

In addition, Lizette's bondage was a minimalist costume... a minimalist dog costume.  A short, stiff tail with a fluffy ball of pink fur on the tip protruded from her rear—six-inch long, canine ears, covered with short, tightly curled pink fur, drooped from either side of her head-harness—and a pale pink tongue dangled from the front of her ball-gag.  She crouched on the pink, fake-fur pad cushioning the bottom of the cage, and stared at Gloria and Fiona with sad, brown eyes.

"No," Gloria said, shaking her head.  "Hell, no.  I'm a cat person."

Fiona released Gloria's hand, walked to the bed, and picked up a vellum envelope.  "This is addressed to both of us," she said, breaking the seal.

Gloria joined Fiona at the bed.

Behind, in her cage, Lizette rattled her chains and forced a whining, mewling complaint past her gag.

While Fiona read, Gloria picked up a small, iPhone-like device.  She touched the screen and a menu appeared.  A smile curling her lips, she pointed the device at Lizette and tapped an icon.  Lizette's "tail" began to wag, and her dangling "tongue" began to shake, as if she was panting.  "Hey, check it out," Gloria laughed, nudging Fiona with one elbow.

"Cute," Fiona chuckled.

"Watch," Gloria said, her finger poised above another icon.  "This should be good."  She tapped the icon.

A shudder passed through Lizette's diminutive frame, her eyes rolled up in her head, and a quiet, modulated hummm could be heard, coming from the general direction of the cage.  Lizette shivered and shook, her chains tinkled, and her tail and tongue continued to wag and shake.

"Apparently, there's a vibrator built into that belt," Gloria said.

"Apparently," Fiona agreed.

"There are higher levels," Gloria explained, indicating the menu, "but I suggest we let her simmer... for a while."  She nodded at the note still in Fiona's hand.

"Our services have been retained as 'Escapology Counselors'," Fiona explained.  "In the opinion of Lizzie's loving mother, the little dear is somewhat... spoiled."

"No!" Gloria objected, in mock outrage.

"Yes!" Fiona responded.  "Also, she lacks empathy and compassion."

"Empathy and compassion?"

"Her exact words."  Fiona favored her friend with a rather coy smile.   "I never really met the broad, but I rather suppose Petra La Roque recognizes, uh, different levels of that sort of thing.  Recreational cruelty may be her favorite hobby, but I don't think she's a true sadist, and it would appear she wants to make sure Lizette doesn't become one."

"And we're supposed to teach her to care about her playthings?" Gloria scoffed.  "Like I said, I'm a cat person.  Poodle training is not my idea of a good time."

Fiona pointed at a paragraph towards the end of the note.  "Not even at this level of compensation?"

Gloria snorted in disgust and read the passage.  Her expression changed to one of mild shock.  "Oh...  Poodle training...  Poodle training might be fun."  She continued reading.  "It might be a lot of fun."

They turned and watched Lizette shiver in her cage.  Her quaking body was beginning to glisten with sweat, and the vibrator continued to buzz.

"She really isn't that bad." Fiona whispered to Gloria.

"You have got to be kidding," Gloria whispered back.

"I was her 'Fifi' for a lot longer than you were her 'Glowie'," Fiona stated.

"True," Gloria conceded.  "You really think there's hope for the little monster?"

Fiona shrugged.  "Worth a try."  Her smile broadened.  "Besides... does the phrase 'revenge is sweet' have any meaning?"

Gloria's smile broadened, as well.  "Oh, yeah!"


Gloria and Fiona turned to find Amanda and Chessy standing in the bedroom doorway.

- THE AMAZING AMANDA!  —Chapter 12 -
Chessy was still box-tied, her arms folded behind her back and rope bands yoking her shoulders, pinning her arms to her sides, and framing her breasts. The end of the rope leash around her throat was in Amanda's right hand.

Amanda nodded towards the cage.  "And that would be...?"

Fiona did the honors.  "The Amazing Amanda Pressfield, allow me to introduce... Lizette La Roque, only daughter of Petra La Roque."

Gloria struck the required Magician's Assistant Pose.  "Tah-dah!"

"You're kidding!" Amanda gasped, striding towards the cage.  Chessy's leash snapped taut and she had no choice but to follow.

Lizette was a pitiful sight in her inescapable, pink leather bonds, shivering and quaking as the vibrator hummed away between her legs.  Her artificial tail wagging, her fake canine tongue panting, and her furry pink ears flopping as she turned her head, the sad little "puppy" gazed up at her captors.  Sweat beaded her shoulders, breasts, arms, and flanks, visible evidence of the little blonde's erotic "suffering".

"We're supposed to teach her 'empathy and compassion," Gloria explained.

"For how long?" Amanda demanded.

Fiona pointed to the note still in her hand.  "Four to six months, with an option to extend the contract."

"Four to six months in a cage?" Amanda demanded.

"Don't be silly," Fiona laughed, waving the instruction letter.  "We can take her out any time we want.  Grooming, exercise, inescapable bondage, erotic torture... that sort of thing."

Gloria took the letter and started reading.  "As long as we teach her 'empathy and compassion', right?"

Fiona nodded, and pointed to the final paragraph.  "Supposedly, there's a binder around here somewhere, with more detailed instructions."

"A pink leather binder, no doubt," Gloria chuckled.  "We'll find it... eventually."

"Kinda puts things in a different light," Chessy suggested, nudging Amanda with her hip.

Amanda shook her head in disbelief.  "Petra Le Bitch gives us her only daughter as poodle puppy hostage..."

"It really is a world class game to her," Chessy said, "and if there's better evidence of the high level of esteem at which she holds Amanda Pressfield... I don't know what it could be."

"I still hate her," Amanda growled, "and I won't play her stupid games... not for several months, anyway."  She glanced at Chessy, and a blush colored her cheeks.  "I'll have to think about it."

"And what about Lizette?" Fiona asked.

Gloria grabbed her boss' arm, and kissed her lips.  "She followed me home.  Can we keep her?  Please?  Please?"

Amanda patted Gloria's hand, but her eyes were on Lizette.  "Okay," she said, after several seconds, and returned Gloria's kiss, "but you're responsible for her care and feeding, and if you don't take care of her—back she goes to the pound!"

Gloria squealed with delight and kissed Amanda, again.  "It's a deal, boss!"

"Now," Amanda continued, "I noticed what appears to be our luggage, lined up to the left of the front door in the living room."

"Ours, too," Chessy said, smiling at Fiona.

Amanda took a step away from Gloria and addressed both assistants.  "You two gets showers and sort out the room arrangements."  She focused on Chessy.  "Ms. Golden will be sharing my bed, by the way."

"I take it we're your house guests?" Chessy inquired.

Amanda's smile turned rather coy.  "Unless you escape, of course."

Gloria and Fiona winked and beamed at their bosses.  "I think maybe we'll share a bed as well?" Gloria suggested.  Fiona nodded, and took her hand.

Amanda smiled.  "Okay, meanwhile, I'm going to call and book us a table for four at the Depot."  She smiled at Chessy.  "You've been there."  She shifted her focus to Fiona.  "Steaks, Prime Rib, etc., but not that fancy.  Nobody dresses in Missoula."

"Other than Cowboy Chic," Gloria interjected.

"Anyway," Amanda continued, "black dresses.  We'll blow them away.  Probably make the social page of The Missoulian."  She turned back to Gloria and Fiona.  "Chester and I will be taking a nap, then we'll take our shower."  She took in the slack of Chessy's leash and led her towards the bedroom door.  "We'll leave... seven-ish."

"Let's get the luggage," Gloria suggested, and the assistants also headed for the door.

Back in her cage, Lizette whined through her gag as the room emptied.

"What about the puppy?" Gloria asked.

Amanda's voice answered from down the hall.  "Doggie bag!"

—Chapter 12

Chapter 11