Chapter 5

Room 107

copyright 1997 by Pat Powers

The Ambassador's Quarters was one of those upper-middle-class businessmen's hotels that no ambassador from a developed country would be caught dead in. Still, it cost about a hundred bucks a night more than any place I could afford to stay in, so it was very nice by my standards.

As instructed, I used the plastic door key to slip into a side entrance. Room 107 was just inside the entrance. As instructed I didn't bother to knock, just slipped the key into the door and walked in.

Mr. Abernathy was in the room. He was dressed in a bathrobe, sitting on the single large bed that dominated the room. There was also a large color TV set, a sofa with a coffee table in front of it, a chest of drawers, a couple of nightstands on either side of the bed, a telephone, and a small refrigerator. In short, it was a generic business class hotel room.

My nerves were so completely shot that I had trouble getting the plastic key in the door, and they weren't helped by the sight of Abernathy lounging on the bed in his bathrobe.

There was a bucket of champagne on ice sitting by the side of the bed.

"I'm glad you decided to make amends for your mistake," said Abernathy. "It's a hard thing to do, I know. But when you have character and drive, you find it possible to do hard things. I am glad to see that my estimate of your nature was correct."

"I'm here because I want to keep my job," I said. "But you should know there are things I won't do to keep my job."

"Of course, I understand perfectly," said Abernathy. "And I want you to know that if at any time you find you are unable to do something, you're free to leave. You'll be leaving a great deal if you choose to leave -- including your job -- but under all circumstances, the choice is yours."

As Abernathy spoke, he poured me a glass of champagne.

"I guess that's spelling things out," I said.

"I thought it would be wise to make things clear," Abernathy said, "although I know you are an intelligent and sophisticated woman. I imagine you have a pretty clear idea of how I expect you to make amends."

I wasn't about to help the bastard a bit.

"No," I said. "I just came because I wanted to keep my job. I really didn't give any thought to the matter beyond that."

"Well, you lie engagingly," said Abernathy. "My sales manager told me you had the stuff for the job. Very well, then, I suggest you begin making amends by removing all your clothes."

I stood unmoving, frozen by the words, even though I had expected to hear them, or something like them.

"If you aren't willing to do that, you can go," said Abernathy. "The door is open. You could walk out right now. But you won't. You wouldn't have come here at all if you weren't prepared to do what's necessary to save your job."

"All right," I said softly, trying hard not to cry. Because he was right, of course. I headed for the bathroom.

"No, not in there," Abernathy said, annoyed. "I want to watch. And take your time. There's no hurry. We have all night."

And so, slowly and carefully, I removed my watch and placed it on the dresser.

Abernathy grinned.

"Good start," he said. "Now, the rest."

I refused to cry. I refused to cry. I refused to cry.

So the hot tears ran out of the corners of my eyes and my breast heaved and my heart hammered, as the pile of clothes on the floor grew. A pair of shoes. Socks. A blouse. After a bit of tugging, a pair of jeans. A bra. And finally, a pair of pink, lacy panties.

I stood before Abernathy, naked, and I could not look him in the eye, so I looked at the floor.

"You're beautiful, all right," said Abernathy. "I'm sure you've heard that before, but it bears repeating."

I didn't respond. I was naked. Not just nude or unclothed, but naked. And I just didn't have anything to say. I wanted to put my hands over my breasts and crotch, but I knew Abernathy would just make me remove them, so I stood with my hands clasped in front of me and stared at the floor.

And my silence wasn't just out of fear of Abernathy. My nipples were becoming hard. I could feel myself lubricating. I was aroused. And I was afraid that something in my speech or manner would reveal to Abernathy that I was.

"Why don't you head on over here?" Abernathy asked. "Don't be a stranger."

I shuffled over and stood beside the bed near Abernathy. As I walked, I did everything I could to minimize the motion of my breasts, but when they stick out as far as mine do, they jiggle when you move, period, unless you're wearing an industrial strength bra, and aren't moving too fast.

I started when I felt Abernathy's hands slide up my hips and caress my breasts.

"Come on, I promise you that I have no intention of harming you in any way," Abernathy said. "In fact, I intend to bring you pleasure -- in an entirely safe way. Now, turn away from me please, and clasp your hands behind your back."

"Why?" I asked suspiciously.

"So I can put these on you," Abernathy said reasonably, holding up a pair of leather cuffs.

"No!" I said, drawing back from Abernathy, instinctively clutching my hands together in front of me.

"Very well," Abernathy said calmly. "You may leave."

I wanted to scream. Instead, tears poured anew from my eyes.

"Look," I said, almost sobbing, "you don't need to tie my hands up. I'll be good. I'll be good."

"I know that," said Mr. Abernathy. "But you're not here just to be good. You're here to make amends. If I just had sex with you, it might be no different from making love to a boyfriend. But you're here to make up for a very costly mistake. So turn around and cross your hands behind your back, and perhaps then I'll give you a chance to be good."

I stood frozen again. I could tell from the sound of Abernathy's voice that he meant what he said.

"I repeat what I said earlier," Abernathy said. "I have no intention of harming you. I won't hit you or slap you or do anything to cause you physical pain while you are tied up. In fact, if at any time you ask me to stop doing something while you are bound, I'll stop. And of course, you still have the option of leaving at any time."

My hands shook and my ass twitched uncontrollably as I turned around and crossed my hands behind my back. I should have left at that point. But I couldn't for a lot of reasons, the chief one four years in the making.

So I felt the leather bands slide around my wrists. Heard the click as Abernathy linked them together. Felt them holding my wrists together when Abernathy released them.

I was bound. Naked and bound by a man I had never even dated, much less kissed. Although I was sure I would get that opportunity any minute now.

Abernathy stood up behind me and ran his hands all over my body. He caressed my legs, my stomach, my breasts, my ass, my pussy -- everything. He took his time about it, too. He was really good, and I was really responding. Not by choice, you understand. I was being betrayed by my own body, and by the deeper recesses of my mind.

It was because I was tied up, you see. Ever since I was a little girl, I had always had special feelings about being tied up. Once when I was about 13 I let some of the younger kids cajole me into playing cowboys and Indians with them. I was the cowboy's wife, kidnapped by the Indians, who tied me up and gagged me, then guarded me while the cowboys tried to sneak up and rescue me.

While the kids had a grand time whooping and wrestling all around me, I "struggled" to escape my bonds and made loud "mmmmfghh!" sounds. And experienced the strangest feelings. My heart hammered and I felt dizzy. They had tied me to a tree, facing away from it, and there was a knot on it right where my butt touched the tree. Every time my backside brushed the tree, the feelings got stronger.

By the time the cowboys rescued me, I was about ready to pass out.

"Are you okay?" asked my rescuer.

"I think so," I said. "I feel a little dizzy. Those ropes must have been a little tight."

"I guess so," said my rescuer doubtfully. He was only seven, what would he know?

"I think I'll go home now," I said.

"OK," said the seven year old.

I walked slowly home, then went straight to my room, where I sat for a long time, trying to sort out my feelings. Something led me to go to the secret place in my closet and pull out a calendar of nude hunk photos that I had gotten from a girlfriend a few months ago. We had looked at it together and giggled over its contents, but I didn't really understand its appeal then.

Now something made me stare at that calendar for the longest time. And these images started coming into my mind, which finally resolved themselves into me standing with my hands tied and my mouth gagged, rubbing my bottom against a knotlike protrusion on Mr. April, a favorite of mine.

I sat like this for a very long time, then grew tired and put the calendar away. Later I was embarrassed to discover that I had apparently wet myself.

It was years later before I put all this together. The flood of hormones that hit with puberty put me through so many changes that I forgot about the incident -- for the most part. Still, every time I saw an image of a woman tied and/or gagged, which happens pretty frequently in the movies and on television, something within me thrummed. It was like strumming a guitar on which all the strings are strung very loosely but one, which was tight as could be. You strum the instrument and all the lose strings make a dull, low sound. But that one string really sings.

Well, bondage was that singing string for me -- a sort of sexual siren, luring me to my doom. I didn't want to have anything to do with it, at the conscious level, because sex was dirty enough, but I didn't want to think of myself as some kinked-out bondage slut.

So. Back to the room with Abernathy. All that stuff that had been hidden for years was still there. Even as one part of my mind was mortified at my situation, another part was just eating it up. Tie my hands, yes, yes, now make me do bad things ...

And this heightened sensitivity made Abernathy's touch almost seem to glow everywhere I felt it. And I felt it everywhere.

I tried to remain stiff and unresponsive, tried not to moan, but when he slid his finger inside my pussy, I couldn't help it. I moved and moaned.

"Oh, my," Mr. Abernathy said as his finger probed my recesses. "I believe you are ready for some action."

What could I say. I had always made lots of love juices before and during sex, and my condition was unmistakable to any man who knew the physiology of sex. I was ready for something to slide on up there. More than ready, really. Eager.

And I hated that. It ran counter to all my beliefs in being independent and finding a career in which I could use my intelligence and talent, to find that I could be reduced to a hungry pussy by any jerk with a pair of handcuffs.

But it was true.

Abernathy sat on the bed and carefully pulled me over in front of him by my navel ring.

"Navel ring," Abernathy said. "Are we into piercing?"

"No," I said. Getting your navel pierced was just a cool thing to do -- a lot of people I knew did it. No use trying to explain that to someone like Abernathy.

"On your knees," he said, grasping my shoulders and applying a little downward pressure.

Obediently, I dropped to my knees. I had completely lost control of the situation.

Abernathy removed his bathrobe, and much to my non-surprise, he was naked underneath it. I had felt his erection brush against me when he had been pawing my body, so I was not surprised to see an average-sized pink dick swollen and standing straight up.

Abernathy scooted to the edge of the bed, and the dick hung before me at mouth level. Neither of us said a word at this point. It was crunch time. Abernathy seized my head in his hands as if it were a vase, then brought my head towards him. Towards his dick.

I could have kept my mouth shut. I could have left. The part of me that loved having my hands tied behind my back was in control. Another part of me that had been watching all that happened and remained cool and calm thought, "If I can bring this bastard off with a quick blowjob, I might be outta here in 15 minutes."

I didn't really believe that, but I did know that men changed when their erections went away, generally for the better.

I took Abernathy's dick in my mouth because of the strumming, and for my mom. It was easier to give a man I despised a blowjob than to hurt someone I loved.

I imagine a lot of women have wound up with dicks of men they don't care for in their mouths for the same sort of reasons.

For a few moments, there was silence in the room, except for Abernathy's heavy breathing and my occasional muffled gasp and moan from me. I was working him hard, I wanted him to come in my mouth. Better there than elsewhere.

I didn't think about much except getting Abernathy off fast. I was overwhelmed by sensation -- the taste of his cock, the feel of it sliding in and out of my mouth, the fell of pubic hair against my nose, the smell of him, the way the cuffs tightened against my wrists as I leaned forward, Abernathy's hands running through my hair and over my back, the feel of my breasts against his knees. And most powerfully, there was the THRUMMING that now focused powerfully in my pussy.

That kid who had been tied to a tree and having a wonderful time with a knot in the tree and then locked in my subconscious for such a long time was now out and having a wonderful time, even as the rest of me shrieked in horror at the way I was being used. It was rape, pure and simple, except that instead of a gun at my head, there was a job at my head.

Abernathy did not oblige me by coming in my mouth. I felt his dick quickening, and so did he, for he pushed me backwards.

"Oh, that was really good," Abernathy said. "Now, up on the bed."

"On the bed," I said.

"Don't worry, I'll use a condom," Abernathy said, as though anything he did to me was all right, as long as he wore a condom while he did it.

"Please don't..." I said,

"Don't please don't me," Abernathy said, grinning. "I can smell your pussy from here. You are ready to be mounted.

I could have said no, but there's something about kneeling naked at a man's feet with your hands cuffed behind your back that makes you feel helpless. I didn't help, but I didn't fight when Abernathy dragged me onto the bed and laid me face down on it. When he spread my legs wide apart, I knew what his intentions were.

I didn't anticipate -- at a conscious level I didn't anyway -- that he would tie my legs apart. Apparently, he'd tied ropes to the side of the bed with slip knots in the end, so that all he had to do was slip the ends over my feet, cinch them down, and adjust the length of the ropes until he had my legs just the way he wanted them -- which is to say, spread way apart. It happened so fast I was tied down before I could protest.

At one level, it was terrifying to lay their naked, bound and splayed out like that. At another level, the thrumming was getting really intense, overwhelming me with waves of raw lust. It was as if a dam had burst and pent-up sexual passion was flooding my mind, threatening to submerge it entirely.

Things got even more intense when Abernathy crawled on the bed with me. I had expected to feel his dick prodding at my pussy in short order. Instead, he proceeded to stuff a cloth in my mouth and wrap a tie around my head, securing the cloth in my mouth -- gagging me, in short.

For some reason, this was really terrifying to me -- much worse than just having my hands and feet tied. I imagine it was the loss of my ability to communicate with Abernathy, and what that said about his level of interest in my feelings about the proceedings.

I started moaning in panic through the gag -- I couldn't form words or anything like them, just make distressed noises. I struggled in the bonds, mindlessly. I know that my eyes must have been wild over the gag.

"Kim!" Abernathy said. "Kimberley!" I looked up and saw him bending over me from the side of the bed. "You seem distressed at being gagged. Don't be. It means you can scream and cry just as loudly as you wish. If you find anything we're doing too distressing, just make a sign like this" -- he held out his hand in front of my face with his thumb and pinkie fingers extended wide apart, and the three middle fingers bent downward -- "and when you do that, I'll take the gag off. That's your safe sign. Do it for me, if you would."

I obediently copied his gesture.

"Ok, now if you still want the gag removed, just make your safe sign," Abernathy said.

I laid there for a moment. Of course I wanted the gag removed, and the bonds removed, and I wanted to put my clothes on and get out of there immediately. But not until my job was safe. I had come this far, might as well go the rest of the way, so long as I didn't get maimed. And there was the thrumming. So I shook my head "no" and lay still.

"I thought so," Abernathy said. "Now, remember that safe sign. If you find yourself choking or cramping or being hurt in some way, be sure and make it. I'll ungag you."

From the friendly and helpful way Abernathy spoke, I guess he thought that giving me a "safe sign" made this consensual sex. I had had plenty of consensual sex. This was nothing like consensual sex.

Abernathy made a point of standing in my field of vision while he pulled a condom over his erection. I have to admit, I was glad to see it.

I couldn't see Abernathy as he climbed onto the bed and mounted me, but I didn't really want to. I just laid with my head pressed into the mattress, moaning softly into the gag. I could feel his hands running over my legs, my ass and my pussy, then I could feel him thrust his way inside me -- an easy task, because I was really wet. He then proceeded to give me a brief but very, very vigorous fucking.

When he came, he groaned and collapsed atop me, shoving my face deep into the mattress. He rolled off me after a moment, which was a good thing because I couldn't breathe too well, and he couldn't see my hands frantically making the safe sign beneath him.

"That was GREAT!" Abernathy exclaimed. He sat up on the bed and casually ran his hands over my ass, fondling me like a favorite piece of furniture. I just laid there -- what else could I do, anyway?

"I'm going to watch TV for a few minutes while my batteries recharge," Abernathy said as he fondled me. "But I know you're ready and willing to do more, so we will. I'll recharge faster if you help. So I'm going to untie your feet. I'll leave you gagged and your hands tied, though. I like you that way."

For the next several hours, I lived the life of a sex toy. "But while I'm resting, you can entertain me, I think," Abernathy said. "Lessee ..." He got up from the bed, walked over to the dresser, opened a drawer and pulled out some rope. A lot of rope, actually. He tied my wrists behind my back with it, then tied my ankles together with it, then pulled my wrists and ankles together so that my body was bowed backwards, painfully so, and connected my wrists to my ankles with a cord. Only then did he remove the cuffs on my wrists. Finally, he ran a rope around the back of my neck, then down the front of my body and between my legs, making sure that the ropes passed right between my pussy lips, then tying them off at my wrists, so that my slightest motion made the ropes between my pussy lips move.

"You're secured in what's called a hogtie," said Abernathy. "I guess you know what that makes you. Now, the interesting thing is that you're secured with rope, and it's possible to escape from rope, if you wriggle and twist enough. Of course, why should you wriggle and twist? Well, I suppose I could get you to wriggle and twist in a very lively manner with a whip, but I believe in positive rewards ... if they work, if they don't, I go on to, shall we say, other motivators. So I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll let you go if you can get free of those ropes in twenty minutes. No more sex, no more anything. Get free of the ropes, you can walk out of the room, everything is back to even between us."

I looked up at him. I nodded. I wasn't particularly interested in finding out what the "other motivators" would be.

"OK, I'll call off the time so you can pace yourself if you want to," Abernathy said helpfully. He was such a helpful rapist. "And let me give you a tip. The key is using your whole body to give you leverage against the ropes. Don't just twist your hands and feet against the ropes -- you don't have much leverage there. Try rolling from side to side, twisting at the waist -- anything to use the large muscles of your body against the ropes. And one more thing ..."

Abernathy slipped a pair of padded blindfolds over my eyes and buckled them in place behind my head.

"It'll help you concentrate," he said. Like I said, helpful. "Now, go!"

I began working my arms and legs against the ropes, feeling for a sense that they were yielding. At first, I didn't feel a thing -- they might as well have been chains, for all the yielding they did.

I'm sure Abernathy had a good time watching me twist and turn in the ropes, and the rope he'd run between my pussy lips at times was pulled deeper between them, making me moan through the gag. I know he enjoyed watching that. All I cared about was getting those damned ropes off, because I suspected that Abernathy would be true to his word and let me go once the ropes were off. I also suspected that I didn't stand much chance of succeeding. But if there were a chance, I would take it. I certainly had nothing to lose by trying. Well, I did run out of breath pretty quickly, as the gag prevented me from sucking in oxygen as quickly as I needed to.

But after twenty minutes of rolling and writhing and pulling and tugging and twisting and panting, all I had to show for my efforts was about two inches progress on the ropes binding my wrists -- I'd pulled them up to the fleshy pads at the base of my wrists, but getting them to work over my wrists was hard, painful work.

"Time!" Abernathy called.

I gratefully allowed my body to go as slack as the ropes would let it, just lying on the floor, breathing hard through my nose and sweating.

"My, it WAS fun watching you," Abernathy said. "Care to know how much fun? Of course you do."

I felt something hard and fleshy pressed against my butt. Abernathy's dick, ready for action. Great.

"I brought a new pack of condoms tonight, and we just might use them all up," Abernathy said musingly as he untied my feet and pulled them apart. But he didn't untie my wrists, or remove my gag or my blindfold, and all he did with the ropes in my pussy was pull them out and let them sink into the flesh between the outside of my labia and my legs.

Then he condomed me.

I don't know what time it was when Abernathy finally packed up his things and sat down on the bed. It had to have been several hours -- maybe as many as eight. Wee hours of the morning.

I kneeled in front of him. He removed the gag from my mouth and pulled my head forward so I could take his half-erect dick in my mouth -- a very familiar sensation by then.

"OK, you've been a very good little slave, Kim," Abernathy said. "I think we're now fully squared up. When you come into work Monday morning, it will be as if you'd never made that mistake. However, if you ever make another one like it, I will have to let you go, and no amount of begging or cock-sucking will save you. Not that I think you'll make such an error again.

"We'll also forget that tonight ever happened," said Abernathy. "I realize that is probably OK with you. I'd like us to continue to have a sound business relationship, and bringing this stuff into the office would only disrupt it. OK? Nod your head."

I nodded, his dick still in my mouth.

Abernathy got up, zipped up, picked up his various bags and things and left me alone in the room. I had been amazed at how many bags he's brought for such a short stay when I came in -- that was before I learned how many toys he had to play with.

The hot-eyed slut departed with Abernathy, and I was left trembling naked on the floor of a strange hotel room. I couldn't stand to stay in the damned place for another second more than I absolutely had to, so I hastily pulled on my clothes and dashed out to my car.

As I drove home, tears ran down my cheeks. I sat rigid behind the wheel, clenching it in both hands. I turned the radio up loud and thought very hard about driving well. In my emotional state, I did not need to be pulled over by a cop, or I'd probably wind up wearing handcuffs again.

I dashed into my apartment. At that hour, no neighbors were nosing about, thank goodness, because I was in no mood to talk. Besides, I knew I must have looked awful with my tear streaked face. God knows what kind of expression I was wearing.

I took off my clothes and went straight to the shower, where I stood under the hot water and cried until the hot water ran out. Then I dried off, went to bed, and cried some more -- until I went to sleep. I was beyond thinking. I was just really, really hurt and I needed to cry, so I did.

When I got up the next morning, I was depressed. Dragged around the apartment. Watched TV and ate junk food. There were problems. I didn't want to cope with them.

I got bored with that by mid-afternoon. That's what has always saved me from depression -- I get bored with being depressed very easily. Hell, it's a boring experience.

So I got angry. Real angry. I spent a long time fantasizing about what I would do to Mr. Abernathy if I had him handcuffed with his legs tied apart. Most of it involved mutilating that dick of his in various slow, painful ways, but I also thought about other body parts, particularly his eyes.

After a couple of hours of this, I got bored with revenge fantasies, too. So I did what I do when I get bored, and I don't have anything in particular at hand to end the boredom -- I turned on my little 13" TV. I pulled my favorite beanbag and a big bowl of popcorn (comfort food -- I needed it) up in front of the set and did a little channel surfing. It was a Saturday afternoon. Sports. Junk sports. Bad movies. Cooking shows.

I settled on the cooking shows -- in fact, I drew great comfort from them, from their cheery normalcy. Here were these middle-aged men (mostly) who were prattling happily about the virtues of olive oil and fresh vegetables and fruits, stirring this together with that, turning up the heat, turning down the heat, adding stock, reducing stock, adding spices, simmering ... it was all tremendously, reassuringly normal, an ordinary world like the one I'd lived in until yesterday.

There were about four hours worth of cooking shows on that Saturday afternoon, and I watched every one of them, enthralled by their sheer mundane ordinariness. Life was so simple and straightforward on them. You bought the meat and vegetables. You chopped it, sliced it, diced it. You heated it up. And you ate it.

I could see how people got into cooking and eating until they ballooned into blimps. It was so straightforward. So calm. And so calming.

After the cooking shows came the home repair and remodeling shows. How to hang a door. How to wallpaper. How to build furniture. I watched it all, and as I watched it, I felt myself becoming myself again, instead of the hurt thing that Abernathy had left in that motel room last night. Tomorrow I might be able to think about it without doing the mental equivalent of curling into a ball and screaming. Today, however, there was much to learn about cooking and home repair.

* * * *

Abernathy relaxed in his bedroom and lit a cigar. He had a lot of gear to unpack, but before he did, he wanted to spend some time savoring the moment. It looked as if all his planning and effort had paid off big time, and he was sure, would pay off big time ... because he had more plans for Kim.

He thought back to the beginning of his search for an actual sex slaves ... not the whores he rented by the hour, but someone who would belong to him, period, the way his car belonged to him.

As so often seems to be the case when you look everywhere for something, Abernathy found what he was looking for right under his nose. He was in fact in charge of a business that generated what were in essence work slaves in huge numbers. If he had thought about it differently -- if he had first asked himself, "Where would I find people who allow themselves to be treated like slaves, whether they are called slaves or not?" he would have tumbled to it right away.

Journalists. He was a publisher. He knew what the score was with journalists -- or to be more accurate, editors and writers. They performed hard work for long hours, starting out at the kind of wages you'd expect to find at a fast-food restaurant. They could be fired for any reason at all, or for no reason, and woe betide the one who was fired, because it would take forever to find another job in their field that paid diddly.

Abernathy himself was at a loss for why anyone would want to find a job in journalism in the first place. If you were extremely lucky, or extremely persistent, you could hang around in journalism long enough to become an editor, you could actually earn a salary that a beginning salesperson might find acceptable, although any experienced salesman would sneer at it.

The only editors who ever made diddly were the ones who got in thick enough with the publication's advertisers that a substantial number would walk away if the editor got fired. Such editors could bring you a lot in ad sales, because they built a lot of good will among advertisers. The problem was, you had to put up with them once they got to that level, treating them almost as equals, giving them extra staff members to do the editorial scut work that they should have been doing. And you had to pay them a reasonably good salary, good enough to keep them from being tempted to leave and start their own publications, taking their advertisers with them. It was a real threat -- Abernathy knew publishers who had lost almost their entire advertiser base when they let an editor become entrenched in the industry, who then left and started their own competing publication, forcing the publisher to start over again, almost from the ground up.

That's why Abernathy made a practice of churning his editorial staff every five or six years at the least, more commonly, every two or three years. It kept the editor from becoming entrenched, and it kept the rest of the editors in line. Suitably servile. Slavelike, really.

And every year, the journalism schools churned out hundreds more would-be editors, hitting the job market with nothing more than a degree and a smile. If the editors were slaves, these were naked slaves, with no bit of experience to give them a bit of dignity, just that tiny scrap that came from the degree. And what a pathetic little sex cache it was.

And there were those even lower than editors -- writers. Abernathy's opinion of writers was that they were on par with something you scraped off the bottom of your shoes when you stepped in it. He thought of them as lost, wraithlike beings, hovering somewhere Out There, moaning piteously, begging for a chance to write something ... anything ... for chump change, or for free, just give them something to write ...

Well, of course, they had no money. They were writers, engaged in the lowest, most pathetic form of work that didn't involve a shovel. Anybody who actually sought such work was either unemployable or utterly clueless, or as usually was the case, both. God knows how they managed to survive on the pittances they got paid -- Abernathy sure didn't want to know.

One of the real services that editors provided for publishers was that they dealt with writers, sparing the publisher the necessity of dealing with such pathetic beings. Editors, being so low on the scale themselves, had no idea of the service they rendered in this respect.

The fact was that prostitution would be a step up for most writers and editors. At least prostitutes were paid well, and were not so indentured to their employers. Their work was illegal, true, and they were lower on the social totem pole among people in general. But Abernathy thought prostitutes would outrank editors and publishers if you polled people who knew the publishing industry well.

Here was the right place to find a sex slave. And Abernathy knew just where to begin his search. With the naked slaves, the kids just out of journalism school. Then he thought about it a little more. The newbies were actually the poorest crop to be picking from -- they still had hope, they still had all that crap the journalism schools stuffed in their heads. They still thought they'd be Bob Woodward or Cokie Roberts or Peter Jennings or Wolf Blitzer. They wouldn't have figured out how badly they'd been scammed yet.

No, what Abernathy needed was someone who'd been at it awhile. Somebody whose desire to work in journalism hadn't been burned out by the experience of working in journalism, but who'd had experience looking for work, lots of it -- all or almost all of it unsuccessful, so they'd know how up against it they were even before she started work.

What he needed to do, Abernathy suddenly realized, was to be a Samaritan, to pull up someone whose resume had been languishing in the files of his publications for years. Abernathy generally avoided such actions -- anything that smacked of altruism was almost invariably a poor business decision, he'd decided long ago. But this was different. Oh, there was definitely some self-interest going on here.

Dig through the personnel files. Look for resumes with female names on them that showed up repeatedly. Then sniff them out carefully, and when the right one appeared, strike.

Abernathy was not really worried about the possibility that his chosen slave would quibble about changing status from journalism work slave to sex slave. He knew she would go for it. It was, after all, a leg up -- a good career move.

Most people would have found this idea strange, but Abernathy had seen plenty of whores, and he'd seen plenty of editors, and he had come to some pretty firm conclusions about which had the better lot in life. He trusted his experience and his judgment.

He had patronized many whores all over the U. S. He had asked a lot of them how they liked their work. Almost to a woman, they said they loved it. And the interesting thing was that most of them were clearly sincere when they said it. He had asked a couple of the more sincere-sounding whores why they loved it.

"Well, look at me," one of them had said, a bouffed up blond, a little skinnier than Abernathy liked, who was sitting on the edge of the bed waiting for Abernathy to find the keys to the cuffs that had kept her hands pinioned behind her back during their sexual encounter. "I'm pretty, but I never did well in school. I know what I would have if I tried to make it through some other kind of job, say in an office or waiting table -- I'd have diddly. I've got a lot of friends who've gone that route, and they all have pretty much the same thing -- a couple of kids, a lot of bills, and no money or free time, period. It would drive me nuts to live like that.

"I was always taught that being a whore was evil and bad and that it would destroy you. Well, lemme tell you, honey, I haven't seen it. The thing I see destroying people is drugs. The whores that take drugs always go under, those who don't live a pretty good life. We make a lot of money, we get to travel if we want to, and we can live a pretty respectable life if we want to. Nobody knows you're a whore unless you tell 'em. Hell, my neighbors think I work for an airline."

"Thanks, honey," the whore had said when Abernathy found the keys to the cuffs.

"What about us johns?" Abernathy asked. "Don't you get some pretty disgusting clients? And don't you get asked to do some disgusting things?"

"Well, I never said it was the perfect job," the whore said. "It's got its drawbacks. But the fact is, the vast majority of my clients are businessmen like you, either looking just to get a little, or to get a little something that their wife won't give 'em. Of course, I do get all kinds of men -- real old men, real ugly men, real weird men. But I guess my tastes have kind of broadened. Men are mostly OK by me. You just have to watch for the weirdoes."

Abernathy knew what the whore was talking about when she talked about drugs. A lot of the young ones did drugs "on the job" as it were. Probably started out as a way to numb themselves to what they were doing -- and more importantly, who they were doing it with. They probably all started out with dreams of meeting strong, successful, handsome young men who would support them in luxury as they moved from triumph to triumph in the world.

Such dreams rarely come true for girls who start out on the wrong side of the middle class, as was once almost uniformly the case with whores. Nowadays, the whores came from all of the middle class, including upper middle class families that had fallen on hard times. Downsizing, they called it. Well, it definitely broadened Abernathy's options in the world of pussy-for-sale. (Once he'd even fucked the daughter of a former publisher, a competitor of his whose publication, Swimming Pool News, had gone belly-up several years earlier. He'd tied her ankles to her wrists and gagged her with her own panties and fucked her right up the ass. He'd loved it, knowing who she was. Cost extra, but it had been worth every penny.)

The girls took the drugs because the world they found wasn't even close to their dreams. Being disappointed about the world was a natural thing. Women brought up on Barbie dolls and stories about princesses and handsome princes could hardly be blamed for turning up their noses at a world so full of trolls and sorrows. And they could hardly be blamed for looking for short-term fixes to solve their problems.

Drugs never solved any whore's problems, in fact, they made it harder for them to solve their problems, but Abernathy didn't think there was much he could do for them if they were that stupid. If their brains worked so badly that they thought drugs were some kind of a solution to their problems, they were probably incapable of using any information he could give them.

It wasn't a moral thing to Abernathy. It was a question of intelligence. He used the drugs that worked -- moderate quantities of caffeine and alcohol, for example, could be helpful in a variety of ways. But walking around stoned to the gills on coke or crack or Quaaludes or speed left you less capable of coping than you were before you took the drugs.

And what other reason could there be for taking drugs?

Abernathy knew his chosen victim could be bent to his will, ultimately, because sex slavery was a better deal than working at a low-end journalism job for any length of time. It was more fun. The hours were much, much shorter. And it was less degrading.

He knew it from experience. The whores who didn't do drugs were all healthy, affluent young women, sleek-looking, well-dressed young things who were enjoying life while they still had the youthful capacity to absorb all it had to offer.

Compare that to the worn-out, drab, cynical, tired creatures that were assistant editors on his trade magazines. God knows how they survived on the kind of money he paid them. God knows why they bothered. They were uniformly miserable-looking creatures, hunched over their computer screens, or hunched over their copy, growing fat from innumerable snacks consumed out of sheer physical boredom, their eyes growing dimmer and more hopeless through ever-thicker lensed glasses as the glare of the CRTs blinded them.

Sometimes Abernathy just wanted to kick them for being such hopeless creatures.

Allowing a person with a beautiful body and healthy sexuality to become such a creature would be truly evil. He thought of all the healthy young whores with their sleek bodies he'd fucked. All the beautiful young women dancing naked in night clubs for tips, their smooth skins glowing with health.

The notion that theirs was somehow a worse fate than that of an office drab was absolutely incomprehensible to Abernathy. The whores talked about their new cars, their rich boyfriends, their vacations in other countries. The editors talked about the general lack of attractive men, their broken-down old cars, and the movie they saw over the weekend.

Abernathy supposed the writers talked about the chicken bones they'd found and gnawed on in the dumpsters, the coat they'd found on the curb, and the warm place to sleep over by the park, where you could get free water. The writers were so poor, they gave Abernathy the creeps. They were like some burned-out crackhead gibbering to himself on the sidewalk, too far gone for human contact. Or the AIDS victim on his deathbed, staring into the distance. They lived on nothing but the hope of having their words and ideas published, and most of the time, they didn't have anything interesting to say, or any thought worth having in their heads. And in any event, trade publishing wasn't a venue that allowed a writer to say anything. It was all about moving products and services. Why such people were always the ones who had a burning desire to write was beyond Abernathy.

So whoever Abernathy picked should be glad for the chance to live the life he offered her. It was a choice between health and sickness, strength and weakness, success and failure. Abernathy knew that most journalism graduates were blinded by the ideals they'd learned in the slave training pens ... or journalism schools, as they're also called. He couldn't have asked for a more effective, thorough program of indoctrination to create low-paid, long-suffering, thoroughly servile workers than the one that journalism schools provided for free. (Of course, the job market in journalism was what really did the trick.)

But Abernathy figured that he could first use a long-searching would-be journalist's desires and ideals concerning journalism to thoroughly enslave her. Then, once he had her well in hand, so to speak, he'd show her the advantages of her new life over her old one.

Once he had had her often and well enough, and totally on his terms, she would come to accept their relationship as the way things ought to be. She would begin to expect him to command her, use her, overpower her.

That was the key that Abernathy was counting on, that he wouldn't be attempting to enslave her with just his words and his deeds and his will -- he'd have the active assistance of the slave's own mind and body.

There WAS the fact that the slave was being forced to have sex with him, rather than by her own choice. But Abernathy considered this the least of his problems. If you are forced to do something for a protracted period of time, you eventually find yourself wanting to do it, even if it's something you initially didn't want to do -- and especially if it's something you actually enjoy doing. It becomes part of your identity.

That was what would happen to the slave candidate over time. Being Abernathy's slave would become part of her identity.

And Abernathy would be doing Kim a favor by enslaving her, leading her to a life she could barely comprehend from her experience as a waitress, college student and junior editor. Life had so much more to offer than people with her background were able to obtain.

Abernathy sighed and rose from the bed. Time to get that gear unpacked.

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