by Van © 2003
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OUR STORY CONTINUES
LATE MORNINGKatherine eased back on the Scarab's throttle as she approached the channel between two of the archipelago's islands. She maneuvered towards the yacht still anchored in the center of the lagoon, then to the same mooring buoy from which she had liberated the powerful speedboat during her escape. It was difficult to accomplish single-handed, but Katherine managed to idle next to the buoy, pass the bowline through its ring-cleat, and secure it back to the cleat on deck. She cut the engine and stood at the wheel, gazing at the surrounding islands.
THE NEXT DAY
NEAR THERAXOS, THE CYCLADES, GREECE
This was her first chance to examine Theraxos from mid-lagoon during the day. The largest island, the one with Thomasina's luxurious suite at the summit and Helena's dungeons buried below, was sparsely studded with balconies and plastered structures clinging like the nests of seabirds to the craggy cliffs. There was also a cluster of buildings surrounding the modest pier and beach. The architecture was... timeless, a mix of Classic and traditional Greek. The buildings gleamed in the Mediterranean sun, standing out from the rough rocks and sere vegetation of the island without dominating the landscape.
Three other islands showed evidence of occupation, although the main island housed the majority of structures, by far. There was also another island, perhaps the second or third largest in the ring (it was difficult to tell), which was heavily forested and devoid of any sign of human habitation.
Katherine squinted against the bright sun, shielded her eyes with her right hand, and did a careful scan of the main island. She could see no human figures, not on the small stone pier, nor any of the beaches, balconies, windows, or doorways. Theraxos appeared deserted. More likely, they're all smart enough to not be out in the mid-day sun, Katherine decided, and began peeling off her equipment harness. Now clad in only the neoprene one piece swimsuit, tabbies, and dive knife she'd "borrowed" for her escape, Katherine double-checked the Scarab's mooring, then dove into the sea and swam towards the main island's pier.
Negotiating the half kilometer of clear, cool water with ease, Katherine reached the pier and mounted a set of stone steps. She walked down the pier and towards the large central building that was the terminus of the elevators and central stairs that led upwards to Thomasina's apartments and suites; and found a rather large man barring her way. He was tall, with broad shoulders and the well defined muscles of a weightlifter or wrestler. His head was shaved and he had a full, neatly trimmed beard. He was dressed in combat boots, black trousers, and a black t-shirt. He was also wearing an automatic pistol (probably a Browning BDM, Katherine decided) in a black leather shoulder holster. From the hang of the holster and the way he moved, Katherine made the professional assessment that the male mountain knew his business, which was obviously protecting Thomasina Crown's person and property. Odds are, I can't take this guy, she decided.
"Good morning, Ms. Banning," Male Mountain said. His accent was American, his manner cultured and polite. "Welcome back to Theraxos. May I help you with your burden?"
Katherine's smile faltered. "Uh... burden?"
"The knife," Male Mountain explained. "I'll see that it's cleaned and returned to Ms. Crown's collection."
"That's okay," Katherine responded. "I'm heading up to the top and I can put it back myself."
"I'm afraid I must insist," Male Mountain said, his expression still polite and pleasant.
Katherine's smile froze. Really, she fumed. Does he think I'd... She gazed at the bodyguard's handsome, smiling, polite (and determined) face. A professional, doing his job. I can respect that. She knelt, unstrapped the sheath from her right calf, then stood and handed the sheath and knife to Male Mountain, hilt first. He took the knife and in one fluid motion tucked it in his belt and took Katherine's hand in a firm grip. Katherine was easing her weight back on the balls of her feet and flowing into combat stance—when he leaned forward and kissed the back of her hand!
"My name is George, Ms. Banning," Male Mountain said. "If you require my services at any time, simply press 'star-four' on any house phone."
Much to her surprise, Katherine found herself blushing. George talked like an American, but acted European. He radiated competence and professionalism, yet was personally difficult to read. Katherine found him... disconcerting... and (quite literally) disarming. "Uh... thank you, George. Katherine... please call me Katherine."
George smiled and released Katherine's hand, then took a step back and to the side and gestured towards the stairs. "The elevator at the first landing will take you to the summit. Again, welcome... Katherine."
Still blushing, Katherine smiled, nodded, and hurried towards the stairs; then turned. "George, I have a small suitcase on the boat."
"I'll see to it," he responded.
Katherine smiled in gratitude, then climbed the stairs and pressed the button to summon the elevator. She turned again to gaze back down the stairs. George was gone.
The THOMASINA CROWN Affair
| — Chapter 15
Katherine found the summit apartment unchanged, except the chain that had dangled from the ceiling and had been attached to her collar (prior to her escape, of course) was stowed, reeled back onto its hidden drum somewhere overhead. In addition, the bed was made and all bondage paraphernalia, new and used, was gone.
Katherine smiled at the statue of Atremis across the room (equidistant from similar statues of Athena and Aphrodite), and nodded. Hail Huntress! Katherine wasn't getting a case of That Ol' Time Religion, but had decided there might be something to this 'totem' business Thomasina had talked about. At the very least, it gave her something to organize her sparse and semi-random thoughts concerning spirituality and The Universe. Maybe I can find a nice necklace or something... either with a fawn or half moon or something else sacred to Artemis/Diana.
She turned and walked to the bathroom, unzipping her bathing suit as she went. She peeled the neoprene garment off her body, pulled the rubber tabbies off her feet, and stepped into the shower. Soaped and shampooed; scrubbed and clean; dry, refreshed, and nude; Katherine reentered the bedroom... and discovered she was no longer alone.
Thomasina Crown was seated on the bed, dressed in a low cut, short sleeve, white cotton blouse, a short skirt of gleaming butternut leather, and light brown knee boots. "Ms. Banning," she purred, "you have a pesky habit of invading my privacy, uninvited and unannounced."
Katherine carefully suppressed her reaction to the presence of the raven-haired, smiling beauty, and affected a coy grin. "You said that job offer was still open, didn't you?"
A flash of pure pleasure crossed Thomasina's face—then, her mask restored, she laughed. "Most applicants for executive positions at Crown International contact our Human Resources Department."
"But you already have my résumé," Katherine noted, "compiled by your hackers and snoops, remember? I just thought I'd cut through the red tape."
Thomasina stood and looked Katherine's firm, tan, perfect body up and down. "Hmm... 'red tape'... an excellent idea, Ms. Banning. We'll go with red." She then strolled to the walk-in closet.
Katherine remained by the bed. "'Executive position'? You never said I'd be an executive. That sounds like work."
Thomasina laughed. "The pay and perks are executive; the duties... difficult to categorize; the part of my organization you will be joining, unstructured." She emerged from the closet and walked towards Katherine. Several coils of thin cotton rope dyed a deep blood red were in her left hand, and a large roll of dark red tape in her right. "Sit," she ordered, and Katherine settled her rump on the bed. Thomasina tossed the rope beside the naked brunette, then ripped free several inches of tape from the roll. "Give me your right hand."
Katherine's heart was hammering. She swallowed nervously... and lifted her hand. She watched as Thomasina folded her thumb across her palm and taped it down, then folded her fingers over her trapped thumb and taped them as well. Working quickly and carefully, Thomasina neatly mummified Katherine's fist, finishing with several overlapping bands around her wrist. Her left hand and wrist received similar treatment, then Thomasina tossed the still plentiful roll of tape onto the bed.
Katherine stared at her neatly wrapped fists. Thomasina had done a magnificent job. The tape bands overlapped evenly and symmetrically. She tried wiggling her fingers, and found this to be very nearly impossible. The only evidence of her efforts was a barely noticeable flexing and stretching of the slightly elastic tape. Her heart still hammering, her nostrils flaring as she breathed rapidly, she lifted her gaze and locked eyes with Thomasina. "I hate being tied up," she said quietly, as if expressing a casual preference to a stranger. "I... I hate it."
Thomasina smiled, and her expression was at once coy and kind. "Stand and turn around," she ordered, picking up a thick coil of rope. Swallowing nervously again, Katherine stood and turned. As she did so, Thomasina shook out the coil, found its center, doubled it, and began wrapping it neatly around Katherine's taped wrists. Katherine counted a dozen intertwined, doubled coils, then Thomasina tied a complex knot. "There... you can relax now, darling. I have you."
Katherine shuddered in her bonds. "Wh-what?"
"You gift is accepted, Katherine."
Doubled bands of rope tightened around her upper body, above and below her slightly heaving breasts, pinning her arms to her sides. Katherine's eyes settled on the statue of Artemis. Oh goddess... what have I done? Thomasina continued her ropework, using symmetrical loops and hitches to cinch everything tight. Now Katherine's wrists weren't simply behind her back, they were lifted and crossed, forming a tightly bound "X" between her upper arms and just below her shoulder blades. Katherine wiggled in her bonds as Thomasina tied another knot. "What gift?" she demanded (although she knew the answer).
Thomasina leaned close from behind and kissed Katherine's right cheek. "The gift of your freedom, of course," she whispered in her ear. "I promise to return it... eventually. I offer you gifts as well," she added, reaching for another coil of rope.
"What?" Katherine asked, continuing to squirm.
"My protection... my respect... and my love."
Again Katherine shivered in Thomasina's ropes, but this time she was not testing her bonds. "It's good to know the Queen of Theraxos has the whole noblesse oblige thing down pat," she quipped, trying to cover her reaction.
Thomasina wasn't fooled. She hitched the center of the second coil through Katherine's wrist bonds, then draped the long free ends across both her shoulders and down Katherine's front, leaning close from behind and reaching around her prisoner's helpless body. She kissed Katherine again, then moved around to Katherine's front. "Stand," she ordered. Katherine did so, and Thomasina began tying a series of knots in the doubled rope, every six or eight inches.
"Kikkou," Katherine muttered.
Thomasina smiled, continuing to tie knots. "Yes, the tortoise shell harness." The rope was pulled through Katherine's crotch, and she felt more knots being tied. Next, the rope was looped through her bonds, somewhere above her wrists, and knotted. Again Thomasina leaned close from behind and Katherine watched as the still quite long remaining free ends of the harness rope were stretched around her body to the front from either side, passed through the doubled rope between the first two knots, and pulled back to the rear. This process was repeated many times, with Thomasina working from top to bottom, pulling the ropes through, and cinching them tight. The pattern tightened into a diamond lattice harness with knots centered above, between, and below her breasts, and above and below her navel. When Thomasina came to Katherine's crotch, she was careful to arrange the strands of rope to either side rather than between the captive's labia. More complex hitching and knot tying ensued, all behind Katherine's back and just below her wrist bonds, then Thomasina took a step back. "That should hold you," she purred.
Katherine tested her bonds. "That should hold me? I doubt if a captured Shogun's favorite concubine got this tied up. This is massive overkill."
"I'll take that as a compliment, but I'm not quite finished. Stay!" she ordered, pointing at the bed, then returned to the closet.
Katherine climbed onto the bed and settled into a half lotus, expecting Thomasina to return with more rope to bind her ankles and legs. Instead, her captor emerged from the closet with a small pistol-like device. She inserted a cassette with a plastic nipple and two fluid-filled tubes, one clear and one amber, and threw a small lever. Katherine sighed. "Epoxy? That's just plain ridiculous!"
Thomasina climbed on the bed and began injecting the numerous knots of Katherine's bondage. "Need I remind you of your history of escape?" Thomasina asked with a gloating smile. "I'm not taking any chances." The sweet, ketone smell of the glue's solvents filled the air as Thomasina moved behind her captive and injected the remaining knots. "There," she said, climbing off the bed and strolling back to the closet. "Please don't roll on the sheets for the next, say, seven seconds?"
Katherine sniffed, more in disgust than in response to the already dissipating odor of the epoxy. "If you're done making triply sure I don't get away again, can we discuss some of the details of my new job?"
Thomasina reentered the bedroom, this time with more rope in her left hand, but also tossing and catching a ball of red foam with her right. "Well... let's see now. For starters... you get about twelve months of special training." The ball and the additional rope were tossed on the bed.
"Martial arts, advanced climbing techniques, scuba diving, sky diving, uh... shall we say... special security skills..." Thomasina sat on the bed and pulled Katherine's head and shoulders onto her lap and began combing her fingers through the prisoner's tangled tresses.
"I don't want to be tied up for twelve months," Katherine groused.
Thomasina smiled. "Don't pout, Sweetness," she said. "I didn't say anything about you being tied up for twelve months. Your initiation period will entail more or less non-stop bondage, but after that... things may change. Escapology is part of the curriculum, but you seem to have a talent in that area. I wouldn't be too surprised if you become one of my instructors. With your experience as a professional investigator, you may complete the entire program ahead of schedule."
"How long?" Katherine mumbled.
"Pay attention!" Thomasina scolded, a coy smile on her face. "Twelve months. You can count to twelve, can't you? Or do I have to add remedial math to your curriculum?"
"The initiation, stupid!" Katherine snapped. "How long is the initiation?"
Thomasina's smile turned evil. "Did you just call your new employer and the person holding your fate in her hands 'stupid?' Consider yourself signed up for 'Tact-101'." She leaned close and kissed Katherine's pouting lips. "Initiation periods vary," she continued, "but they're usually only several days."
"Good," Katherine muttered, "...'cause I hate being tied up."
Thomasina continued stroking Katherine's hair. "I know... But I do so enjoy tying you. Surely you don't mind if I indulge myself... just a little?"
Katherine smiled up at her new employer. "I grant your induldence," she quipped, and squirmed in her bonds. "Everybody needs a hobby."
Thomasina's hands wandered to Katherine's breasts, then to her flat stomach, then to her thighs and sex. "You're very wet," she observed, "but let's not get ahead of ourselves." She unzipped the tops of her boots and pulled them off. "Now," she purred, climbing onto the bed and pulling Katherine with her towards the center, "time to finish wrapping my present."
The THOMASINA CROWN Affair
| — Chapter 15
Thomasina used the same combination of techniques to bind Katherine's legs; however, she bound each leg separately, anchoring the ropes to the strands already framing her prisoner's glistening labia. Eventually Katherine found herself on her back, her rump elevated on a pair of stacked pillows, her legs splayed and her knees slightly bent, and held that way by taut ropes stretching to several discrete lashing points recessed into the inside of the marble platform ring framing the bed's huge circular mattress.
Katherine lifted her head to gaze at the tight bands and intertwined lattice of deep red rope dimpling her flesh from shoulders to ankles. She tried closing her legs, but the ropes around her knees and ankles held them open, leaving her rope framed and elevated sex on display.
"Stop that!" Thomasina scolded. "I'll let you know when you can start escaping." Katherine's captor was busy combing out and braiding her captive's hair, pulling the long brown tresses taut against Katherine's skull and intertwining them with her final length of rope. She finished by doubling the tapered end of the braid back on itself, whipping a dozen bands of rope around the braid, and pulling the remaining very long free end through the last loop.
The rope was threaded through a lashing point on the platform ring above Katherine's head, down to a point even with Katherine's breasts on the right, across her body and through the ropes framing her breasts, to a lashing point on the left, and back to the point above her head. Thomasina pulled out all the slack and tied a complex, decorative knot; then stood, walked to the foot of the bed, and gazed down at her prisoner. "Quite possibly my finest effort to date," she said. "You inspire me, Katherine."
Katherine twisted and squirmed in her bonds. Everything was tight, but the tension was even; the hitches, knots, and crossing points symmetrical, balanced, and (she had to admit) aesthetically pleasing. She couldn't close her legs, but the position wasn't extreme. She couldn't roll her torso or raise her head more than a few inches. In fact, she was totally helpless, but had to admit (to her great surprise) she was, more or less... comfortable. Thomasina was an artist... and Katherine knew herself to be a work of art; a living, breathing, captive work of art. The tension of the ropes at once produced and contained the tension in her body (not to mention the emotional and sexual tension building within). The captive raised her head as far as her bonds would allow and gazed down her rope dimpled flesh at her captor. "I..."
Thomasina sat on the bed and cupped Katherine's glistening sex (causing the panting prisoner to shiver in her inescapable bonds). "You hate being tied up," Thomasina said quietly, her manner neither gloating nor flippant. "A huntress must be free to pursue her quarry." She began slowly stroking Katherine's sex and the captive bit her lower lip and moaned softly. "But a huntress also needs to understand her prey, and how better than to be hunted herself; to be stalked; captured, made helpless, and—"
Suddenly, Thomasina was interrupted by a melodic chime, followed immediately by the voice of Helena Quinn. "Excuse me, Tommy. Dreadfully sorry to interrupt, but the German Minister of State for Culture and Media is on line one. It has to do with that Neorealist exhibition you've been trying to get off the ground?"
"Damn!" Thomasina swore, lifting her hand from Katherine's sex and wiping it on the bed. "I bet it's that idiot at the Kreuzberg Museum. He would get the BKM involved. Please tell the minister I'm swimming in the sea and will call him back in five minutes."
"Yes, Tommy." There was a second chime and the hum of the speaker ceased.
"She sounded entirely too pleased to have an excuse to interrupt," Thomasina muttered. "I'll have to do something about that." She retrieved the foam ball and roll of red tape, began snapping six to eight inch strips from the roll, tacking them by one corner to the edge of the marble bed frame. "I'm afraid you're going to have to simmer for a while, Katherine," she said. "Duty before pleasure."
"As if I care," Katherine muttered, squirming in poorly disguised frustration.
Thomasina smiled evilly. "Hmm... I think I'll give you something to remember me by," she purred, reached under her leather skirt, and removed her panties. She gave the white, silky garment a delicate sniff. "Oh my... they're rather pungent, I'm afraid. You have that effect on people. Did you know that, Katherine?"
Katherine watched, glowering (and suppressing a smile), as Thomasina delicately flipped the panties inside out and wrapped them around the foam ball. She locked eyes with her captor (but opened her mouth without prompting) as the silk-covered sphere was pressed against her tongue and into her mouth. It filled her oral cavity completely, more so when she closed her jaws and pursed her lips.
Thomasina affected an amused moue of concentration as she taped Katherine's mouth. She started with a horizontal strip compressing and covering her lips, then two strips in an "X" from across her cheekbones to under her chin, and finally three overlapping horizontal strips to cover her lower face from just under her flaring nostrils to just under her chin. "There," Thomasina said, her eyes still locked with her captive's. She reached down and used the nails of her right hand to give Katherine's pubic bush a delicate scratch. The prisoner shivered in her bonds and forced a mournful moan past her gag. "I hate to leave you in the lurch like this," Thomasina whispered, "but this exhibition is very important. Some very talented and under-appreciated artists are counting on me." She scratched the margins of Katherine's sex with her nails, and again the captive shivered. "Hmm..." Thomasina mused, continuing her delicate, teasing. "Perhaps you need something to help you pass the time 'til I return." Her gloating smile turned decidedly feral. "I have just the thing," she whispered, and headed for the closet.
Katherine lifted her head as best she could and watched Thomasina depart. 'Just the thing?' That sounds ominous.
Thomasina returned with (of all things) a butterfly in her cupped hands. The creature had a slightly oversized body and stubby legs; but its wings were magnificent. They were predominantly black, striped in iridescent blue with yellow-gold countershading, and with a large pair of black and white false eyes at the tips. "It looks almost alive, doesn't it?" Thomasina asked, holding the thing close to Katherine's face for her inspection. "It nestles between the folds of your labia," she explained, "slowly opening and closing its wings. Its legs are tiny clamps." Katherine's eyes widened and Thomasina couldn't help but laugh. "Don't worry, darling. This is one of my toys, not Helena's. The clamps will hold it firmly in place, but they're not at all painful."
Katherine glared at her captor (embarrassed to have shown even the slightest hint of fear).
Thomasina smiled, moved down the bed towards her captive's elevated and pinioned sex, and continued. "It has a long, curled proboscis, like a real butterfly, but when it flails around and feeds on your 'nectar', I'm afraid you'll find it rather tickles... not a great deal... but it can be most distracting." She lay the long "abdomen" of the device against Katherine's sex, snuggled it between the pink, glistening folds, and gave the body a gentle squeeze. There was a quiet click (Katherine started in her bonds), and the "insect's" legs embraced the folds of her labia, holding them ever so slightly open. "Perfect," Thomasina purred.
Katherine looked down her body and gave her hips a tentative shake. The "butterfly's" wings shuddered, but it did not dislodge. She could feel the thing's weight against her sex (heavier than she expected), and the coiled "tongue" at its "head" brushed against her clitoris as she moved.
Meanwhile, Thomasina trailed a thin, insulated, nearly invisible wire from the butterfly, and down to the bed's platform. She knelt and did something near the floor, out of Katherine's line of sight. There was a snap and a quiet click, then Thomasina looked up and smiled. "Feeding time," she purred.
Suddenly, the butterfly came to life. It fluttered its wings, strong enough to actually stir the longest wisps of Katherine's pubic hair, but not enough to defeat the grip of its legs; but worst of all, its abdomen began to vibrate, and as promised, its tongue began flailing like a tiny whip. Katherine squealed through her gag and squirmed in her bonds; but evading the attentions of the "feeding" butterfly was as impossible as escaping Thomasina's ropes.
And then it went still.
Katherine panted through her flaring nostrils for several seconds, then glared at Thomasina and forced an extended and unmistakably angry tirade through her gag.
Thomasina laughed. "Don't have kittens," she said. "That was 'full intensity.' I've set the controls for random, long intervals of inactivity, and random bursts with the intensity varying from 'low' to 'medium.' It will keep you entertained while I'm taking care of business." Katherine continued glaring. "I'm afraid it probably won't be enough for you to be fully entertained... but if my butterfly isn't enough, Helena has a pair of 'wasps' that are similar. They're designed for nipples, of course, and I'm afraid their legs are rather sharp, not nearly as gentle as my butterfly. Would you like me to send her up? I'm sure she's most anxious to welcome you back."
Katherine continued glaring for several seconds, then gave a disdainful sniff and studiously ignored her captor.
Thomasina laughed again; gave her prisoner's left thigh an affectionate pat; slid her long, firm, pale legs into her boots; zipped them up; and walked to the suite's main door. Katherine lifted her head and watched as she opened a camouflaged panel in the marble wall across from the open doorway, and began throwing a set of switches. There was a series of mechanical rumbling noises and Katherine turned her head and watched thick iron rods rise from concealed holes in the floor and bar the entrances to each of the balconies, one-by-one. Also, thick slabs of marble sealed the walk-in closet and the bathroom.
The Mediterranean breeze continued stirring the bedroom's gossamer drapes, untroubled by the closely-spaced, wrist-thick bars now making the marble chamber a luxurious prison cell. Katherine swiveled her gagged and hair-tied head to gaze at Thomasina.
"I'll probably only be a few hours," Thomasina explained. "I suspect my conversation with the Minister will lead to others... possibly even a few conference calls." She thumbed a final switch, and a thick slab of marble began slowly rising from the threshold of the suite's entryway. "Welcome to the Crown International family, Katherine," she added, and the slab thudded closed, sealing the door.
Katherine relaxed in her inescapable bonds and allowed her head to settle back on the firm mattress. Twelve months of training... maybe less. Krippendorf! I forgot to ask about Krippendorf. Will she be 'training' too? Suddenly, the butterfly began buzzing, fluttering, and "feeding." Katherine lifted her chin, hummed through her gag, and pulled on her bonds. It felt good... very good... and then it was over; and as promised, it hadn't been enough to "fully entertain" the helpless prisoner. Rats! Katherine sighed and willed herself to relax once again. I hate being tied up!
The THOMASINA CROWN Affair
| — Chapter 15