The Things People Do…

                                                       A  Dariarotic Story by The Caneman

                                                    All Characters Copyrights of MTV/Viacom






    “Jane, what the hell is going on?” Daria demanded as she stood at the door of Jane’s apartment.  She was tired and angry, and Jane thought she saw dried tear stains on her friend’s cheek.


    “Look, Daria, it’s three in the morning, I’m exhausted, and I have a class at nine. I swear to God, I’ll explain everything after I get some sleep,” Jane pleaded, as she tried to pull her jacket closed even tighter than before. Her boots couldn’t be hidden as well, but she tried to keep her friend from looking anyway.


   “Dammit, Jane!  I can understand you have your own life, and to be honest, I don’t care what you do, but when Trent has to call me to find out if you’re alive or not, I think I have a right to know.  He loves you, Jane, and he’s afraid of what may be happening to you. I am too. I saw the website. And I think he did too.”  Daria stood there, arms crossed, as she stared her friend in the face. “Can I come in, please? It’s freezing out here.”


   Jane sighed and stepped back. Daria watched as she removed her black leather trench coat, revealing the outfit she was trying to conceal. Her eyes widened as she saw the tight leather dress, wide belt with countless rings, and the elbow length black leather opera gloves. Jane turned, and blushed as Daria looked at the heavy leather spiked dog collar she had loaned her several months ago.


   She was speechless for several minutes. “Are you a prostitute, Jane?” she finally managed to say, as she removed her old leather jacket and sat down. She looked around the apartment, taking stock of the things she’d ignored before.   The big screen TV in the corner and her new stereo system, the top-of-the line PC. All things an average college freshman couldn’t afford.


    Jane removed her collar, and sat down on the sofa to unlace her boots. “No, Daria. At least not the way you’d think,” she said, pulling off the stiletto-heeled creations.   Ahhhhh, that feels good! I’ve been wearing those all night!  Do you want a drink?”


   “Ordinarily, no. But after seeing you like this, I’ll make an exception,” she replied flatly. Jane grinned weakly and went to a sideboard and removed a bottle of wine and two glasses. Handing one to Daria, she plopped down in the chair across from hers and drained the glass.


   “You still haven’t answered my question, Jane. Yes or no, are you a prostitute? You’re my friend, and I care about you.”  She drained her glass as well, and Jane refilled both.


   “God, Daria, of all the people I’d hoped would never find out, you’re at the top of the list. All right, Yes, I take money from men to ‘do things for them’, but it’s not like I hang out on corners or anything! I have a small clientele that I service on a regular basis.” From the look on her friend’s face, it was the wrong choice of words. Jane cursed, and ran her hands through her hair.


   “So you’re a ‘call-girl’. I see. Well, in that case, I guess I was overreacting then, huh?”


  “Dammit, Daria! It’s hard enough having to tell you this as it is!  It’s not like I’m giving out blow-jobs in cars down on State Street, for Christ’s sake! Hell, I’ve only had sex three times since I started this, and  *I* was the one who decided, not him! I’m a dominatrix, not some mangy street whore, and I’d appreciate it if you could make the distinction!” Jane’s eyes blazed, and her glossy red lips trembled.


   Daria looked away, as she swished the wine around in her glass, unsure of what to say next.  “So, will you tell me how you got yourself into this? I promise to keep the smart comments to myself. Please?” her eyes begged.


   Sighing, Jane began. “It all started a couple of months after I came to BFAC…”




                                                                   CHAPTER TWO


       Miss Lane, I’ll be the first to admit, out of many of the students here, you have a very unique and refreshing style to all your works. It’s rare that we get a new student who’s so talented across so many disciplines,”  the dowdy guidance counselor told her, as Jane sat in her office.


    “Buuuuutttt…” Jane said silently.


 “But, we also have to ensure that we maintain our academic integrity when it comes to the rest of the curricula we offer. I understand that starting later in the year can pose some daunting challenges for a new student, and after seeing your transcripts from high school, I realize that you’ve got some problems that we need to address. Simply, you’re not keeping pace with the rest of the class, and at this rate, you’ll never make it off of academic probation. You have to bring your combined grades up by at least forty percent or we’ll be forced to consider some alternatives,” the matronly woman concluded. “Please don’t fret, dear. I know how hard it is being a college student too. Now, what are we going to do about these grades and your attendance?”


    Jane yawned, drained from her night job stocking groceries at Food Lord.  “Ma’am, I’ll be the first to admit that I never was the greatest at math, especially trigonometry, and I’m trying as hard as I can, but my student loans barely covers tuition and books, and unless you waive the fees for the dorm, I’ll be living on the street! I have to keep that job just so I can keep up with my credit card bills, car insurance, and food. No offense, but the cafeteria food here is, well, bad.” Jane pled, hands out pleadingly.


   “None taken. The food there hasn’t improved since I was a student here. And I understand about the financial realities of living in this area. But I have some fairly strict guidelines to follow, and you’re simply starting to fall behind the curve already. We need to strike a balance between work and school here, and I have to caution you that if this doesn’t improve, you may have to reconsider your choices.”  She was gentle but firm, as she handed Jane the printout.


 She showed her out, and Jane walked dazedly out of the administration building, too tired to be angry. She glanced at her watch and cursed. “Oh damn! I’ll be late for Taylor’s class!” she cried, and broke into a weary run.  A few minutes later, she pounded up to the classroom, and slipped in as the instructor emerged from his office.

   She was grateful that she wasn’t the only straggler today, and was thus spared another demerit. “Now all I have to do is stay awake,” she thought grimly, as he began speaking.


    “All right, people. Last week we began our study of the natural ratios present in nature, and how they can be defined and applied. I wanted some concrete representations of how the ancient Greek sculptors achieved balance through knowledge of the mathematical ratios inherent in Archimedes theorem…” he droned, as Jane battled fatigue.


   “Oh Gawd!  I can barely remember last night, much less this crap! I’m freakin’ doomed!” she thought desperately as one of the brown-nosers in front raised her hand and answered. Jane was glad that, at least for the moment, Taylor’s attention was directed elsewhere.  She closed her eyes for a moment, and suddenly, she heard his voice booming, “Miss Lane! If you find my class that boring, I’d suggest you consider seeing if you can make a mid-term transfer. Until then, I’d appreciate it if you remain conscious until then, is that understood?”


  Her cheeks burned with shame as her classmates suppressed titters. Professor Taylor glared, and the room fell silent. “As I was saying, I will have an assistant for the rest of this block of instruction, one of my former students and fellow artist, Alison-“


  “Just Alison, Professor Taylor. I find using my surname is pointless in the art world. Hello, people. I’ve been asked to help contribute what I’ve learned since graduating from BFAC, and see if we can make some of this stuff make sense to you.”  She smiled slyly at Taylor, who blushed a bit before clearing his throat.


   “Ahhh…Thanks, Alison. As my charming, and ever out-spoken associate here so bluntly put it, she’ll be working with us to make some sense of the abstract principles of the Golden Form. That is, if some of us can remain awake long enough to absorb them. That about wraps it up for this session, I expect to see some demonstration pieces, in a variety of media, by this time next week. Miss Lane? May I have a word with you in private, please?”


   “Dammit, dammit, dammit!” she cursed silently, as she sheepishly descended the stairs to the floor. Exhaustion and overwork had taken its toll on her faculties, and she didn’t recognize who had just been introduced until she dragged herself down to the floor. Her eyes widened in surprise, as Alison smiled mischievously. “I’ll wait until you’re done here,” she purred.


    Taylor’s harangue was relatively mild, and Jane left his office with another warning and a weary frown. She shouldered her heavy backpack, and was walking out when,


   “Hey, stranger! Wait up! Long time no see, Jane. I’d ask how you’re doing, but one look pretty much explains it all,” she smirked, “Don’t let him fool you, Bob is really just a big softie deep down. He just does it to keep the students from knowing that until it’s too late. Can I buy you a cup of coffee? You look like you need it.”


   Jane was about to let her know what she could do with  her cup of coffee, but Alison’s tone was sincere, and Jane was really in no mood for a fight. “Ahhh, what the hell. Alright, but I still feel the same way. No offense,” she said cautiously.


  Alison smiled warmly as she replied, “Hey. It’s water under the bridge, right? Come on, you look like you’re about to pass out. How long ‘til your next class?” she asked as they walked out of the room.


  Jane closed her eyes as she replied, “In about fifty minutes. If I make it that long, that is.”  They were soon sitting down in a little café in the Student Union building, and Alison asked, as soon as Jane had taken a few sips of the triple-espresso she’d bought her,


  “So, how’s it been going with you? I was kinda hoping you might get in touch with me, you know?” Seeing Jane’s warning look, she added quickly, “No, no, no, not for that! Look, Jane, I’m sorry for what I said and did back there, but that’s just the way I am. I like you for who you are, and I have a lot of respect for your work. That’s what I meant, not to ‘get in your pants’. Friends, right?”


  Jane grudgingly assented. “Yeah, friends. Whatever. I’m sorry if I seem a little out of it, because I am a little out of it. I didn’t realize that an art college would be so, so,-“


  “Hard? Well, you can’t forget that it is a real college, and not one of those poser diploma mills that advertise on daytime TV. Listen, I’ve been where you are, and believe me, I know what you’re going through. From the tone Bob had when he was dressing you down, you’re not doing so hot, huh?” she asked, as she took a sip from her cup.


Jane blearily nodded, “It’s not really the academics that are getting to me. It’s the fact I have to work so much just to keep my head above water, and try to keep up with the workload, I never have enough time for sleep. I’m not so sure I’ll be able to hold out much longer.”  She looked at her watch, and made a face. “Listen, Alison, it really is good to see you, but I’ve gotta jet now, or I’ll be late for Trig. I’ll see you next week, okay?” she said, as she hefted her book bag.


   “Jane, wait. What if I told you that I may be able to help you out,” Alison replied, as she touched Jane’s arm. “Something that’ll give you enough time to rest and study, as well as give you the time and resources to keep doing what you want to do, not what the professors here want to see. Would you be interested?”


  “Alison, thanks, but I’ve already had a job doing knock-offs already, and it didn’t take long for me to get so burned out I was ready to hang up my easel. I’d love the money, sure, but I feel a little bit of me dies when I do that kind of work. Thanks, though.”


  “It’s not that, Jane. It’s something I found when I was a student here. It’s fairly easy, and you get to make your own hours. I think you’d be able to fall right into it without any problems. You’ve got the right attitude for the job, as well as some other qualifications as well.” She looked at Jane directly, with a sly smile on her face. “And you can easily make ten times as much as what you’re pulling down now. Guaranteed.”


  “I don’t know. Food Lord does pay pretty good for night stockers, and I don’t have to deal with all that many people when I work. What is it?”


   “Well, I really don’t want to discuss that right here. The way I got the job was, I knew somebody in the business, and they brought me in as a favor. I figure since our little ‘misunderstanding ‘, I owe you one. Let me give you my number, and when you have a little time, we can talk, okay?” she smiled warmly, and Jane was too tired to be suspicious. She dug out a small notepad and handed it to her.


    “Okay! I’ll be going around and tormenting my old teachers here for the day, but I’ll be at my hotel around six. Give me a call, and we’ll get together. No, that’s not what I meant,” as she saw Jane’s look again. “This is purely business. And you’ll be dealing with a lot of artists and people who can really help you out down the road. Trust me.” She gave Jane a friendly wave and walked away, leaving her holding the slip of paper, debating whether to toss it or not.


  “What the hell,” she said, and slipped it into her pocket. Checking her watch , she groaned and hurried away.




                                                                 CHAPTER TWO



     By now, Jane was working on her third glass, and Daria, her second.  During her description of the events of that day, she’d exchanged her leathers for short kimono with a dragon motif.

  As Daria had relaxed and been drawn into Jane’s tale, she had pulled off her boots, and they were sprawled on Jane’s enormous leather couch.


   As she sat back down after refilling their glasses, she looked apprehensively at her friend as she said, “Uh, Daria? There’s a few other things I do now, that I didn’t do before,” as she pulled an ashtray over and pulled a leather pouch from the pocket of the robe.


   “Oh, God, don’t tell me…” Daria exclaimed in horror. Jane looked at her oddly as she pulled a cigarette from the pouch, lighting it with an elegant golden lighter. “I know, I know. It’s a stupid habit. I picked it up from one of my clients with a smoking fetish, and I find when I drink, I get a craving,” she said sheepishly.


   “That’s not it. I thought…I thought you were going to do some drugs or something. You had me scared for a minute there. Sorry. Doesn’t that hurt your running?” she asked, taking another sip.


    “I guess. I really haven’t had time, to be honest. I don’t smoke that much. Only for him, and times like now. I figure I’ll know it’s time to stop when I start hacking like Trent,” she laughed softly. “So he bugged you to check up on me, huh? Guess I should have known that would happen.”


   Daria got up and refilled her glass, “He didn’t really bug me about it, but he did ask if I’d seen you lately. I wouldn’t have come over tonight if I didn’t lie to him and say I did. There goes that conscience of mine that I don’t have, again. I haven’t seen or talked to you in over a month, Jane. I even called the Registrars Office to see if you’d dropped out. Then I found out you were on a two-week leave of absence.” She sat down next to her, and fished a cigarette out of the pouch, and examined it carefully. “In Paris. Jane, the last time I saw you, you were barely able to keep up with your bills, school, or sleep. Then one day, you move out of your dorm into a thousand dollar a month apartment, with a big-screen TV, and this furniture. And I wouldn’t want to guess what your private studio looks like, even without seeing it, and you say you’re not a prostitute?”


   “Dammit, Daria! What I do is so much different! It’s not like I let these bastards pump me like I’m some crackhead whore they picked up on the corner! And how the hell did you find out I went to Paris?” Jane demanded, eyes blazing. Daria drew back, head bowed.


   “I’m sorry it keeps coming out like that. As for getting that information, I just told them I was your mom. They even told me your G.P.A. had risen to 3.0 this quarter. I’m impressed.” She replied flatly.


   “You told them you were my mom? And they believed you? Didn’t they ask you for some proof?” Jane demanded incredulously.


   “They know your mom. When they asked , I just started talking about butterflies, and spirits and crystals. I figured she hasn’t called since you got here.” Daria fished out the lighter, and played with it a bit.


    Jane laughed ruefully. “I shoulda figured you’d know that.  All right, I’ll admit that what I’m doing now is not what I had in mind when I went to college, yeah, but it’s not the same thing you’re thinking about, Daria.”


  “Let’s see. You’re now a dominatrix. If I’m not mistaken, that means you dress in kinky clothes, tie people up and abuse them, thus giving them sexual gratification, in exchange for money. And that part about sexual gratification in exchange for money? That’s sometimes referred to as prostitution. When you live with a lawyer your whole life, you pick up on these things, you know?”


   “All right, if it makes you feel better, yeah, I’m a prostitute. But dammit, I’m high class! I got started with the very best people in the business.  My clients are wealthy, powerful, intelligent people who appreciate my special talents.” Jane said defensively.


  “And those talents are? No wait, maybe I don’t wanna know.”  Daria replied softly, putting the cigarette and lighter back down. She sighed, and gazed at her friend sadly. “Jane. I didn’t come here to judge you. I came because, I, well… I’m worried, and scared for you. I mean, I don’t have a helluva lot of friends as it is, and when my best one becomes a, let’s say, “Adult entertainer”, I think I have a right to be.”


  Jane sat silently, thinking about what to say next. Grinding out the cigarette, she picked up her wineglass carelessly. It slipped out of her hand, splashing Daria in the lap.


  “Oh crap! I’m sorry! Here, let me get a towel,” she exclaimed, as she ran to the kitchen.


 “It’s okay, Jane. These jeans have seen worse, believe me.” Daria replied. They bumbled around trying to sop up the wine on Jane’s red leather couch. “Here, Daria, let me get you something dry to wear. It’s still freezing, and it’d really suck if you got pulled over smelling like a winery.”


  “No, it’s okay. Besides, the only thing you’d have that would fit me is your grandma’s old nightgown, remember?”


  “I still have that, you know.” Jane teased. “No, really! I’ve got some stuff that really is one size fits all. Trust me. At least until your pants dry out a bit. And besides, you’re too drunk to drive, young lady. I’m gonna have to make you sleep over. It’ll make up for all the times we missed the last couple of months, Daria. I was planning on taking the day off tomorrow, and knowing you, you wouldn’t miss a day, would you? Come on, it’ll be like old times!” she added quickly, startling Daria.


   “Uhhh, okay? I guess I could. It might help me to see where you’re coming from on this whole “dominatrix” issue. I mean, who wouldn’t love a job where you get to beat people up, and get paid for it?  I mean besides becoming a cop.”  Jane laughed, and gave her an odd look before motioning her to follow.


  “Oh my God! Quinn would have an aneurysm if she saw this closet!” Daria exclaimed, as her friend rifled through hangers. “Where the hell did you get all this stuff? There has to be hundreds of clothes in here!” Jane sheepishly handed her  a simple black skirt and shrugged.


  “It’s the nature of the beast, I guess. A lot of this crap comes from my clients, gifts mostly, but some of it is by request,” as she displayed an elaborate leather creation that under no circumstances could be worn in public. “And since you’re here, I have a little present I was gonna send you on your birthday.”


  Daria took the elegantly wrapped box Jane had produced as she gazed in horrified amazement at the closet’s contents. “ You shouldn’t have. I couldn’t get you anything for yours, remember?” she blushed.


  “There goes that mercenary attitude of yours again, Daria. You don’t have to get to give. I’ve been feeling bad about not spending any time with you lately, and I wanted to give you something, to know I still care.”


   Daria opened the box, and frowned. “Jane. I don’t want to seem ungrateful or anything, but what the hell were you thinking?” she asked, holding up a shoe. It was a black leather pump, with a graceful six-inch stiletto heel.

 Jane grinned evilly, “I wanted to get you something I know you don’t have, and would be too embarrassed to exchange.  Besides, every woman should have at least one pair of “come-n-get it’s” in their life. Besides, wouldn’t you just love to see the look on that Robert fella you’ve been seeing.”   Jane frowned at her friend’s scowl.


   “We stopped seeing each other not long after you stared doing this. Oh no, it wasn’t anything bad,” she said, seeing the look on Jane’s face. “Just went in separate ways. I don’t think either of us noticed the difference, anyway. Don’t worry about it, and thank you, Jane. These will go right along with that dog collar I’ve had since Highland. By the way, do you think I could get that back? Sentimental value, and all.”


   “Oh yeah, your little conversation piece. I forgot I still had that. You know, it’s funny, but even though I’ve probably got at least fifty of the damn things floating around, I always seem to be wearing that one when I ‘go to work’. Here it is,” she said, picking it up off the floor.


  “Oh great. I’ll be thinking of that now every time I look at it. You don’t mind, do you?” Daria asked as she held it. Jane laughed, and handed her the skirt. “If you want, I could try and dig up a pair of sweatpants instead,” she offered.


   “No, this’ll be fine for now. Your place appears to have heat, I notice. My dorm is having some furnace problems, so a night here won’t bother me. Although, technically, it’s morning.”


  “It’s not daytime until I go to bed, dammit!” Jane laughed. “You can change in there. I’ll get us some more wine, okay?”


   “Breakfast of champions. Sure, why not? I’ll be out in minute.” Jane took the shoes and dog collar and set them on the table by Daria’s old leather jacket. “The neighbors will think I’ve got a new ‘friend’ if they see her walking out with this stuff,” she chuckled to herself. A mental image of her friend in the combination appeared, and Jane felt a strange urge.

   “She’s my best friend.” She shook off the thought, and busied herself with cleaning off her couch and opening a fresh bottle of wine. She watched the sun rise above the Boston rooftops, reflecting ruddy in the clouds above. She closed the blind, unwilling to let the night slip away.

   “I have missed her. What am I doing?” she exclaimed, to the feelings and urges she couldn’t shake.


   “Doing what?” Daria asked, as she padded quietly into the room barefoot. Jane turned, and nodded. The little skirt hugged her hips snugly under the grey shirt Daria had on. “This thing feels like I’m being groped all the time. I wasn’t sure it’d fit. I’ve seen bigger outfits for Quinn’s Barbie’s, to be honest.”


  “Oh, nothing. Just thinking out loud. Where were we?” Jane asked as she sat down, and carefully sipped her wine. Daria was looking at herself in one of the mirrors that were on the wall. “I forget. Probably me being hyper-critical about something my friend is doing, and generally being a pain in the ass,” she replied, taking a gulp of wine. “I want to see something. Hold on.” She looked around and spotted the shoebox. Jane felt her heart skip a beat as she ambled over and sat down, opening the box.


  Slipping them on, Daria got up and unsteadily wobbled over to the couch, exclaiming, ”How the hell do you walk in these things? It’s like trying to balance on a basketball!” she giggled, as she plopped down on the couch.


   “It takes some getting used to, I’ll admit. When I was seeing that jerk Nathan, I had to give myself a crash course in that area. Just take little steps, and before too long, you’ll get the hang of it. Trust me on this one, I have to wear stuff like that on a regular basis.”

   She trembled as she sipped her wine. “Stop that!” she screamed to herself, “She’s my friend, my best friend. My only REAL friend anymore, and I’ve got to stop thinking about it!” She felt her crotch moisten and she moaned softly as Daria stood up and carefully walked up to the mirror, taking tiny, delicate steps.

  Unconsciously imitating Quinn as she looked at her feet and legs, Daria whistled appreciatively. “Well, as odd as it may sound coming from me, I like them. They’re painful, impractical, and embarrassing, but, as my sister would say, “They make my legs look hot”. And Jane, if you ever catch me quoting Quinn again, promise me you’ll hit me hard. I must be getting drunk.”


   Jane was silent as Daria tottered over to the table and picked up her collar. Over her shoulder, she held it up and said, “Whattaya think? It’d probably go with the dress, too,” as she fastened it around her neck.


  “It’s you, alright.” Jane finally managed to breathe out huskily. “Oh man, you don’t know what this is doing to me. I don’t even LIKE girls!”  Daria tottered back to the mirror and regarded her reflection intently. “Well, you’re the ‘professional’, Jane. What do you think? Could I give you a run for the money?” she quipped.


  “Well, it’s definitely a different look for you, I’ll say that. As for the ‘run for the money’, I actually did have to have some ‘professional’ training,” she replied, still gazing intently. “ Hard to believe, but just whacking them with a baseball bat isn’t what you normally get paid to do.”


  “I kinda figured that. Besides, I told you about the website I saw. Max was the one who saw the pictures. By the way, you looked pretty good. Just pray Upchuck never sees them.”


 Jane cursed softly. She knew what Daria was talking about. “Look, it was a private party at on of the clubs in Framingham last month. The guy managed to sneak in a digital camera that you can plug into a cell phone. The bouncers caught him and worked him over, but by then it was too late. My manager had been trying to get them pulled ever since they hit, but you know how that game works,” she said sadly.


   “Hey, it’s alright, Jane. Compared to a lot of the pictures I had to sort through, the quality was pretty poor. I really had to look to recognize you. What’s it like?” she asked, as she unsteadily checked her reflection over her shoulder.


  “What’s what like?” Jane asked, unsure of where this was going. She tore her eyes off of her friend and got another cigarette out. Her hand was trembling as she lit it.


  “You know, being a ‘dominatrix’,” she accentuated the word with her fingers. “ Doing what you do. Tying people up, and , you know…” Blushing again as she sat down, Daria took another swig of her wine.  “How did you start, first of all? I mean, it was like , one minute you’re Jane Lane the starving art student, and then, blammo, here’s Mistress Jane! You didn’t sign any contracts in blood, did you? This is Dan Webster’s old stomping grounds, you know.”


  Jane laughed, and for the moment set aside her sensations as she explained, “ No, nothing on paper, except for my agent. She’s a real talent agent, too. She handles this on the side, and I’d appreciate it if this never found it’s way into print, okay?” she hinted. Daria looked pensive, then nodded. Jane continued, “ Anyway, she was a classmate of that girl I told you about from the art colony? Remember? Alison. She used to be student here, and believe it or not, this is what she did to get through college. I ran into her right after I got that warning from the Dean…”






                                                                       CHAPTER THREE




   Jane ended up calling in sick to work that night after finally getting home. She’d fallen asleep in two other classes and drank so much coffee she was nauseous. “There has got to be a better way to do this!” she wailed, as she wearily opened her book bag. A slip of paper fell out, and she picked it up. “I don’t have time for this nonsense,” she muttered, crumbling it up and tossing it away.


 Her stomach rumbled and she padded over to her tiny fridge. “Damn Lane family curse. Eternally empty refrigerators.” Digging in her pocket, she looked at the three one-

dollar bills and handful of coins sorrowfully. “Guess that means pizza is out, too.”


  Sitting back at her desk, she laid her head down, and remembered something. Plucking the wad of paper out of the basket, she dialed the number. “At least I can cadge a free meal off of her, anyway. As long as she doesn’t expect anything,” Jane reminded herself sternly.


   On the other end, Alison picked up her phone. “Hello? Jane! I’m glad you called!”


  “Yeah. Listen, I thought about what you said earlier, and I’m willing to at least find out what this job is. I’m not like gonna have to dump bodies in fields or anything do I?”


   Alison laughed, “No, nothing like that! I thought you worked nights? That’s what you said earlier.” She smiled as she knew why Jane called. She remembered the mind-numbing grind of school, work, and studying. “And you’ll be working in what one may say is a very artistic field, in it’s own way. Listen, I’ll tell you what, there’s this little place not too far off campus. The food’s incredible, and it’s really relaxing. My treat, since I figured that’s probably why you’re calling, right?”


   “You got me there. I’d appreciate it, and anything has got to be better than stocking shelves when I should be studying and working on my projects. Would you like to see some of my latest? I’ve got some really cool new things, Alison, and appreciate your opinion.” Jane responded carefully, trying to make it clear she was there to hear about this ‘job’, and keep it on a professional level.


   “I’d love to see what you’ve been doing, Jane. And don’t worry about any  ‘misunderstandings’ happening tonight. When I asked you if you’d be interested in this, I meant it honestly. I’ll explain when you get there. I’ll give you the address and see you there in, oh say, an hour?”


    Jane wrote it down, and agreed, “Yeah, I’ll be there. Uhhh, this place doesn’t have a dress code, does it? I’m sort of clothing-challenged at the moment,” as she peered at her over flowing laundry basket and empty closet, where a faded and torn red smock-jacket hung forlornly besides an equally sad looking dress, a leftover from her time with Nathan.


   “Yeah, it isn’t someplace you wear a t-shirt and jeans to, but they’re not that fussy. Whatever, I’ll see you in a bit. I’ve got to call ahead. See ya!”  Alison hung up and dialed another number. “Hello, Katy? It’s me, Alison. That girl I was talking about earlier? Well, I’m going to meet her for dinner tonight. She’ll be perfect for the job, I’m sure of it. I’ll let you know. Bye.” 

  Hanging up, she giggled as she thought about what the look in Jane’s eyes would be later.


   Meanwhile, Jane was having second thoughts about what she was doing. “She’s a freakin’ bisexual, for crying out loud!” the little voice in her head argued. “One who’s buying me dinner tonight, that’s all.  And if I gotta put on a little show for her at this restaurant, what the hell,” she muttered sadly. “This’ll teach me to do my laundry more often,” as she regarded her reflection in the cracked mirror. The faded black dress clashed with her favorite clodhoppers wildly, and she sighed and dug out a pair of ancient high heels.


 “Grandma, you must have been one wild woman in your day,” she thought, as she took one last look before walking out. As she left her dorm, a few of her fellow students made appreciative comments, and she heard a few wolf-whistles as she sashayed out, the heels giving her gait an unusual bump-and-grind as she got used to them. By the time she reached the restaurant, her feet were killing her, and her gaze was smoldering as she announced to the maitre’d, “I’m here to see Alison, please.”


   The formally attired gentleman raised an eyebrow at the raven-haired young woman in the classic attire. He smiled, and said, “You must be Miss Lane. Please come with me, the lady is waiting.”


   The restaurant was in a Victorian house, and in addition to a common dining room, there were private rooms, as well. She followed him, trying to seem unconcerned as she silently longed to get off her aching feet. He opened a door, and ushered her in with a casual flourish. “Madame.” He bowed slightly, and closed the door behind her.


    Framed by the high backed chair, Alison sat in elegant repose, her arm tattoos covered by a long-sleeved red silk dress, which displayed enough of her cleavage to reveal the head of an Oriental dragon peeking above the neckline. Rising to greet her, Jane could see its tail extending down her right leg, emerging from the abbreviated hemline.


   “Jane! I’m glad you could make it! You look great. Surprised?” she asked, indicating her outfit. She nodded dumbly, feeling foolish that she  may have been overdressed for the occasion.


   “You were expecting the muscle shirt and high tops? “ Alison laughed. “That’s me most of the time, kid. This.” She spread her hands wide, indicating their surroundings, “Is another facet of my life. Another shade, if you will. I’ve found that sometimes appearance really is everything, as long as it gets you what you want in the end.”


  Jane sat, and smiled weakly. “As long as it’s not my end that you’re wanting. I know you said there weren’t going to be any ‘misunderstandings’ tonight, but I’m starting to feel funny…”


  “Don’t. This is strictly business tonight, Jane. We’ll order now, and talk when you’ve got something in your stomach, okay?” Alison replied warmly. In due time, they had finished, and Alison continued, as she swished her wineglass,


   “Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get down to why I asked you to talk to me. You and I both know that with damn few exceptions, most real artists can’t live off of their art. In a way, the troubles you’re having now are a way of the school teaching you what to expect.   Even after you graduate, it’s still an uphill battle to get recognized, get the galleries to show you, and then, only then do you reap the rewards.”


   “I don’t look at my art that way, Alison. It’s not about the money, it’s about what I express. Someday they’ll see my work for what it is, and not for how well I can schmooze people,” she frowned defensively. “I don’t want to be rude, since you did feed me, but let’s get to the point right now. What is this ‘job’ you’re not telling me about right now.”


  Alison laughed deliciously, “That’s what I like about you, Jane. You’re decisive, clever, and stubborn, three necessary things to have for this job. Jane, I am a free-lance ‘personal consultant’, who specializes in providing a certain service to an elite group of people. When I’m not being Alison, the serious artist, I ‘m known as “Mistress Blaze”. I’m what they call a ‘lifestyle dominatrix’.” She paused to light a cigarette as Jane stared, open mouthed.

Alison continued,

   “One of the professors at BFAC introduced me to the scene, and soon I discovered a way to support myself very comfortably while still learning, and doing my own work. At first, I did it because it was strange, dangerous and wonderful. There are a lot of artists in the scene, and I got a lot of work modeling.”

  “ Then, one of the upperclassmen, a wonderful lady named Katy, got me introduced to a select group of people, and soon I was dominating professionally. How do you think I can afford to live like this? I travel all over the world, stay in four star hotels, and I own three houses. You don’t get that working eight hours a day doing ads for catalogs or newspapers.  When I started, I was making two hundred dollars an hour. Before I knew it, I was pulling down a thousand or better, as word got around the circle. Katy did for me, what I’m doing for you now.” 

    “She opened up the door to a whole new world for me, one where I made the rules, and men who ordinarily would have looked through me, were more than willing to pay to have me treat them like the pigs they are. Are you interested?”


   Jane sat back, absorbing her speech. She knew what a dominatrix was, from the pornos she'd steal from Trent and Max for life models. Sneering, snarling women, leather clad, with nude men groveling at their feet. She remembered rolling her eyes at the ridiculous poses and scenes as she wondered what kind of pathetic losers would fall for this nonsense.


   “I’m not sure. Alison, are you trying to say you’re a prostitute or something? And you’d like to know if I’d be interested? What do you think my answer was gonna be?” she answered slowly, as she prepared to leave.


  “Jane, does a common prostitute dress like this? Does she eat at restaurants like this? Travel, houses, cars, connections…The list is endless as to the differences between a prostitute and a domme, sweetheart. For one thing, I’m the one who sets the rules. Time, services, whatever. They do as they’re told to, or I never service them again. I have a waiting list for the next two years of men who yearn to have me be their domme. Most of them will never get the chance before I retire from the business, and I plan on retiring soon. That’s why you’re here.”


   “Me? I don’t want any part of this. Look, it’s nice and all, but I don’t want to risk going to jail or having some pimp slap me around ‘cause I didn’t make enough or something. Thanks for dinner, and I’ll try to pay you back when I can.” Jane said quickly, rising from her seat.


  “Doing what? Eighty hours a week at school and stocking shelves, where they take nearly half your pay to buy five-hundred dollar hammers? Give me a break, Jane. I’m offering you a chance to make absolutely insane amounts of money to basically be your normal self!’ Alison snarled.


“And that is?” Jane challenged angrily. Alison smiled again, and laughed as she replied,


 “A snotty little bitch who thrives on seeing the suffering of others. To you, pain and humiliation is an amusing pastime, which you justify as ‘expressing your artistic nature’. It’s the same excuse I used when I was where you are. This line of work has no schools or training centers, it’s all within the person. You either have it or you don’t, and you Jane Lane, have it.”


  Jane sat down, “And what exactly is this mysterious “It” I have? So far all I’ve heard is some vague ramblings about ‘clients’ and ‘circles’. What are you, a madam or something? I don’t put out unless I damn well feel like it, and I don’t appreciate someone coming along and trying to exploit my weaknesses, Alison.” She was too tired to be angry anymore, and her voice was tinged with bitterness.

   “ I may be having a hard time now, but I’ll get myself out of it , my own way, without having to get on my back to do it.  Thanks for the meal, and good luck with finding someone for your circle or whatever. Good-Bye!”


    “Jane! Wait! Just listen to me for a minute, will you? This isn’t like turning tricks at bachelor parties, or streetwalking, Jane. These people, mostly men, but there are a few ladies as well, don’t come here for a casual fuck, they’re here to realize an erotic vision they have. It’s not as much sex as theatre. I’ll give you an example: I have a ‘client’ who is the CEO of a large bank. He has a great job, houses, cars, trophy wife; the whole nine yards. In his everyday life, Billions of dollars, and millions of people’s livelihood depends on him being in charge, all the time. At home, he’s expected to be the dignified, powerful man his much younger wife married.

   These people expect him to be ‘The Man’ twenty four seven. His problem is, deep down he releases himself through a fantasy character he’s created for himself. Someone who isn’t the ‘Man’, who doesn’t have to make decisions, someone who he isn’t.

    *I* make him that person, for those few hours of his life he has to himself, Jane. He surrenders ‘The Man’ at my doorstep, and I give him some release from the realization he’s some over bearing obnoxious SOB who lords over his company like a medieval fiefdom.

   He’s never been here for the sex, though he often gets *my* version of it occasionally. This man  comes  for the release he needs.” She took a sip of wine, and sank back in her chair, looking intently at Jane.


  She sat dumbfounded by Alison’s twisted logic, head buzzing from fatigue, confusion, and a good portion of wine. “So you’re saying, you’re almost like a therapist, or something? Let me ask you, if this guy was so unhinged, why didn’t he quit? Or see a shrink? I’m no rocket scientist, but getting your ass kicked by a chick in boots doesn’t seem all that healthy to me.”


   “I like your description. On the one hand, men like that don’t just quit when they’re having a hard time. On the other hand, he did see a psychiatrist. Want to know what he told him?” Alison teased. Jane merely shrugged.


 “The good doctor told him to see me,” she concluded, with an air of smug superiority. “Jane, I’m not trying to say I’m Mother Theresa, and to be honest, it is a form of prostitution.  When you sit where I do, you can get a thousand dollars an hour for locking some sorry asshole in a little steel cage while you call him names and occasionally abuse him.”


  Jane laughed. “That sounds like something Daria’d be good at. How do I know you’re not setting me up? I mean, your story’s one thing, but…”


  “Don’t tell me, show me? That sounds fair, Jane. And smart. Even as tired as you are right now, you still want to maintain control. A hundred other girls would have stopped listening after I said ‘a thousand dollars an hour’. And you didn’t, because to do that would be to give in, and the women in my circle aren’t known for that.”


   “And what would you have done if one of those hundred girls were sitting here right now, and not me?”


   “That would never have come to pass. I chose to invite you because I knew you had it. Back at the art colony, I knew it. You don’t need to make any decisions right away, but I’ll need you to be thinking with your head straight, Jane. I’m going to give you a thousand dollars tonight. I repeat, GIVE you a thousand dollars. It’s not a loan, and I’m not going to come back and say because of this…

   I want you to take the week off if you can, and if you can’t, quit. If you see what I have to show you, and still want no part of it, I’ll help you get another job.

  This weekend, I’m hosting a ‘party’ at a friend’s house. It would be quite an educational experience, to say the least. Jane, I swear, there are no strings attached. Will you come?”






                                                                        CHAPTER FOUR



   “So, I take it you went.” Daria asked, sprawled comfortably on the couch. Her new shoes were on the floor, removed when the novelty wore off. Jane wondered if her friend was that drunk to notice she’d forgotten to remove the collar as well.


  Cradling her wineglass, Jane continued. “Yeah, I went. And she wasn’t kidding, either. It was an educational experience, to say the least. It was strange at first, but then I started to really enjoy myself. I wished you were there! I asked if you could come. You know, that promise to drag you to parties and stuff? She said not then, but maybe later. You just haven’t lived until you see a sixty year old man dressed as a French maid serve you hand and foot,” she chuckled.


   “Thanks, I’ll pass! Just hearing about it is bad enough. So are all your clients tough guy transvestites? Or just the ones you talk about? It seems stupid to me, the way you describe it.” Daria asked, as she brushed at her lap. “Damn, this is sticky. I need a washcloth or something. Jane. That wine soaked me good.”


 “If you want, you can take a shower. I’ve got one of those waterfall showers that you just have to check out!” Jane exclaimed happily. She escorted Daria to the bathroom and explained the workings before retreating to her bedroom. “Dammit , Lane! What the hell are you doing? She’s closer to you than your own freakin’ sisters!” she screamed at her reflection in the mirror.


   She darted into the living room and finished her wine, as she heard the splash and tinkle of water coming from her bathroom. She closed her eyes and pictured what she must look like, standing nude under the cascade of warm water, hands cupped prayerfully to her face, eyes closed like delicate clamshells, her long auburn hair streaming down her arched back as the door opened, ever so quietly…


  Jane stopped, her hand on the doorknob, trembling slightly. “I take who I want, when I want, but what if who I want is her?” she silently confessed to herself. Now she knew why the men came to her to satisfy their desires. The water stopped, and she hurried back into her bedroom and returned with a bathrobe, and tapped on the door.


   “Yo, Daria! I have a bathrobe here. Do you want I should just toss it in?” Jane asked huskily.


   “Naw. You can come in, I’m *hic!* decent.” Daria giggled, obviously intoxicated. Jane entered to find her friend wrapped in a bath towel, trying unsuccessfully to wrap another about her head. She was still wearing the dog collar. “I can tell you don’t drink all THAT much, do you?” Jane chuckled, as she helped her friend.


 “Nope. You must be a bad influence or something,” she swayed slightly, as Jane got the towel in place. “Damn! That’s something I’ve never been able to do, all my life! Quinn, she can toss them damn thing in the air and it’ll practically fall in place,” she griped. “Same thing with my mom. Hell, I’ve even seen my DAD wearing a towel like this! Ain’t it a bitch?” she giggled again, and sagged slightly against Jane as she led her out.


  “Dammit Daria! This isn’t helping!” Jane screamed silently. “I hope you’re not planning on passing out yet. We’ve still got a lot time to make up, Daria. Weren’t you reading me the riot act when you got here?”


  “You’re right. But, wouldn’t be hypocritical of me to slam you for all this, seeing as I’ve just now fallen in love with a plumbing fixture? I’ve got to admit, Jane, when I came here, I was expecting a lot worse.”


  “And what do you mean by that?” Jane purred as she deposited her friend back on the couch.


  “You know. Stereotypical hooker things, like needle marks, used rubbers, things like that. Or a pimp named Antwoine or Rico. Back in Highland, some of the girls were turning tricks out of the parking lot and it was a real hassle just getting from the curb to the door without at least on indecent proposal.” Daria replied, as she tried to adjust the towel around her body, with little success, as it kept slipping off and revealing her breasts.


  “Well, that does explain your attitude earlier. And I guess I should apologize to you for attempting to rationalize it away. If it walks like a duck… I’ve forgotten that you DO see things as they are, and no fancy clichés are gonna change that. I am a prostitute. A very highly paid one, but a prostitute nonetheless. And now I’ve got another problem.”  Jane poured another glass. Daria held hers out as well.


  “And that is?” Daria asked, before taking a swig.


  “You know. And more importantly, you know some pretty damaging details, as well. There were things I told you that never should have been repeated aloud.”


 “You know I’d never tell anyone, Jane. It’s not like I’m Quinn. And let’s face it, I’m probably going to forget half this stuff by the time I wake up anyway, so don’t worry,” she assured, giggling again as her towel slipped back down.


  “Daria, if I’m not mistaken, you ARE a journalism student, correct? And journalists make their living by finding exciting stories that sell newspapers and magazines, do they not?”


  Daria nodded her head, with a slightly confused look. “I don’t see where you’re going with this, Jane. I’m a journalism STUDENT, yeah, but all that means is I get to assist with a column once in a while, and learn now the business works. They’ve never even run one of my stories, Jane. I’m basically a glorified proof-reader there. Not that most of my classmates would notice, as I also have the dubious honor of collecting the unread papers for recycling.:


   “Still, don’t you think that a lurid tale of college co-ed dominatrixes servicing the upper echelons of polite Boston society wouldn’t sell papers? Especially with a first person interview? At best, I’d be out of the business. At worst, well, we won’t go there now,” she replied sadly. Daria’s eyes widened as she realized what Jane was saying.


  “Jane! I didn’t come here to ‘interview’ you! I came here as your friend! I’d never breathe a word of this to anyone, especially the apes I have to work with! Even if I did, I wouldn’t have submitted it, because it could only hurt you, and I’d never do that. Jane. I’m your friend, and you’re mine. When we had the Tom thing, it probably hurt ME more than you. I can’t go through that again. Jane, I, uhhh, dammit! I love you! You’ve been the best friend I’ve ever had in my whole rotten life, and I came here because I thought something was going to take you away from me, again. That’s all.”  She drained her glass, and Jane thought she saw a  tear slide down her cheek.


“Daria. Nothings going to ‘take me away’ from you, now or ever.” Jane said quietly, eyes staring into space. “Tom didn’t. Evan didn’t, and Nathan didn’t. Sure, what I’m doing now does take away what little time we did have together, but that was going to pass, as I got more firmly established. I was going to be more available soon, anyway. Summer is when our ‘season’ more or less ends, as our clients have other priorities in life to attend to. I was going to ask you if you wanted to come travel with me. See some things we might not have seen before, or ever. I’ve had an opportunity to make some obscene amounts of dough, and I wanted to spread the joy with you.”


  “Huh! Well, Jane, I wouldn’t have said no, to be honest. When I heard you’d gone to Paris, I’ll be honest with you, I was jealous as hell. You probably don’t know it, but that city has been a dream of mine. I mean, what life is complete until you’ve been snubbed by the rudest waiters on the face of Planet Earth?” she replied, giving up on the towel, and sitting there bare breasted.


 Jane couldn’t resist anymore. “Hmmm, Amiga. You’ve grown a bit since the last time I showered with you,” she commented, referring to the locker room at Lawndale. Daria wiggled her chest, smiling maliciously.


  “Yeah, I know. You should have seen the look on Quinn’s face when she saw ‘em over Christmas break. By the time I left, she was already bugging mom for a boob job. Next time I go home, I’m wearing a Wonder Bra.”


 Jane laughed at that, then spoke seriously.  “Daria, I know you’d never consciously do anything to hurt me, that’s true. But the circle I run in has some very good reasons to remain more secretive than Skull and Bones. These people simply can’t afford to have their private fantasies exposed, and they’ll go to any means to keep their secrets.”


 “So what you’re telling me is that now I’m gonna be fitted with concrete shoes? I thought you said you were your OWN boss. Or was that a lie, too?” she pouted, crossing her arms.


  “No, Daria. No one’s sleeping with the fishes, and I didn’t lie. It’s just these people can and will destroy your life before you’d be able to do the same to them. They can make the Mob look like boy scouts, if they so chose. They’re everywhere, in the courts, legislatures, and businesses, especially the news media, for obvious purposes. They know how to kill a story and make that writer wish they’d never written it, and all without one broken kneecap. Even though I am my own boss, the circle does keep an eye on each one of us.”


  “What? Like there’s a car full of goons watching your house? Or do they just bug your pad while you’re away? What are you getting at Jane? If you’re trying to scare me, it’s working. And I don’t like being scared, you know.” Daria shivered, and Jane handed her the bathrobe, forgotten in her hands. Standing up, Jane stretched and yawned.


  “Well, maybe not a CARful of goons, but the circle does employ a few people to keep an eye out for funny business at our homes. Y’see, I very rarely ‘entertain’ here. I rent a dungeon at one of the private clubs in the city, or use the client’s own location. It’s for everyone’s protection, just in case we do have some overzealous cops decide to come in and ruin the party.

   These people have contingency plans that’d make Uncle Sam green with envy. Chances are, when you knocked on my door, whoever was on watch last night saw you, and by now, my ‘agent’ has got a dossier on her desk with things about you even your mom doesn’t know.”


  “Like that’d be hard to do.” Daria chuckled mirthlessly. “As I asked before, what are you getting at? Do you want me to sign something? Even if I could remember enough of what you told me, whatever I put out wouldn’t be believed, so your ‘people’ should just relax.”


   Jane licked her lips as she thought of what she was going to say next. “Daria, the only way they could be sure is to either: A. Completely destroy any credibility you have now and will ever have, or: B. Bring you into the circle to ensure your silence, by the fact that you’d be in it yourself. To be honest, that’s really how I came to be where I am now. When Alison took me to that first session, I was pretty much in the game, like it or not.”


  “Wow. That’s a hell of a choice. I don’t know what to say about that. Are you telling me you’re beholden these people forever? What happens later on? Or is there a later on for you?” she asked fearfully. Jane smiled warmly, as she patted her arm reassuringly.


  “There is a ‘later on’ for me. Alison brought me in because she was getting ready to take herself out of circulation and focus on her art. By the time she recruited me, she had assured the circle that the secret was safe. For her to reveal anything now would be career suicide, not to mention opening herself up to everything from solicitation to tax evasion. She’s still ‘in’ the circle, but she’s transferred most of her clients to the rest of us.

  From what she told me, a dom’s career is generally only a couple of years or so, and she’d passed that by long ago. That’s why she took that crappy assistant instructor position at BFAC, to get access to ‘new blood’. I found out that she’d been keeping an eye on me ever since that art colony fiasco, remember?”


   For a long time, Daria sat silently, absorbing the information. “So, what you’re saying is, either I become a member of your ‘circle’, or risk becoming a nobody overnight? How do you know I couldn’t have done that all on my own? Becoming a nobody, that is.”


  “Daria, I’ve been reading your stuff for what? Close to four years now? You, my dear, aren’t about to become a ‘nobody’, at least not by your own doing. And by now, my agent has probably read most, if not all of your published work. I wouldn’t be surprised to get a phone call ten minutes after you’ve left, do you know that? You’re now a threat to the circle, and your options are limited, Amiga. Sorry,” Jane replied softly, as she cradled her wineglass.


 Daria still had her old dog collar dangling limply from her hands. She played with it absent-mindedly as she mulled over what her friend had just told her. Setting her glass down, she fished a cigarette out of Jane’s pouch and lit it, coughing lightly. Jane’s eyes widened.


  “What the…? I thought you hated smoking? That anyone who did deserved what they got?” she asked in surprise. Daria set it down and took another swig of her wine.


  “Yeah, but after that, I figured, what the hell? If my career’s going to be ended before it begins I might as well start my descent into Hell like everybody else does,” she replied sadly. “Besides, when I was seeing Robert, he’d smoke like a chimney when we went to the clubs, and I’ve tried it a few times, especially when I get drunk.” She picked up the bottle and peered into it. “Speaking of which, since your little speech just left me stone-cold sober, I need another drink, and this bottle appears to be empty.”


  Jane relieved her of it, and went to the kitchen to get another. Peering at the label, she remarked, “Well, at least you won’t have to worry about a hangover tomorrow. They always say the good stuff doesn’t do that, and I’ll bet you don’t realize that we’ve both consumed close to eleven thousand dollars worth of wine since you got here.”


   “And I suppose when you order pizza now, it comes in by air from Italy, too?” Daria said, flatly. “Eleven thousand dollars for three bottles of wine? Maybe getting into your circle isn’t such a bad idea after all. Too bad that once they see me, they’ll just opt for plan A, anyway.”


  “Don’t sell yourself short, sister! Remember when I was telling you about my dinner with Alison, and I mentioned your name? Well, I meant it. You probably give out more effective abuse before noon than I can during a whole week of sessions. And you do it for free.  As for your looks, you’ve been frumping yourself for so long you CAN’T see how beautiful you really are. All you’d need is a little work to smooth out the rough edges and you’d be head and shoulders with the rest of us.” Jane said, sitting next to her and taking her by the arms.


  “Thanks. But what does my keeping my classmates in line have to do with what you do? And for a minute there, you almost sounded like Quinn on one of her make-over fits. I like how I look, because I don’t CARE how I look.” She  took another drag and put it out before taking another sip.

“What I plan to do doesn’t require ‘a look’ of any kind, you know that. Besides, there’s no way I could just ‘do it’ with some strange guy. I’m still kinda funny about anyone touching me.”


 “And that’s the beauty of it all, Daria. Sex and touching are the LAST things these guys want or need. Basically, they need to be reminded of what low class pieces of corporate, legal, or governmental jerks they are, and you’re there to remind them of that. Sure, there are exceptions to every rule, but let’s face it, when he’s chained to a pipe or locked in a pillory, it’s not as if he’s gonna wrestle you to a standstill and dork ya.  I’ve only ‘given it up’ a few times since I’ve started, and each time it’s because I wanted to, not them.”


  “That’s an interesting way to put it. What about if your client’s a woman? You mentioned that you had one. Doesn’t that creep you out? Or are you over that incident with that Alison chick?”


  Jane gave her a resigned look. “Damn Daria, you sure know how to ask the hard questions. Yeah, one of mine is a woman. I won’t tell ya what she does, but let’s just say you’ve definitely seen her before. And yeah, I do sexual things to her, as part of the session. As for Alison, let’s just say that she did more than just get me into this profession…







                                                            CHAPTER FIVE



       Jane had done as Alison suggested, and called in sick for the rest of the week. She spent her time catching up with her studies and sleep. Friday afternoon rolled around and she found herself back in her dorm room working on a she’d begun when she first arrived, when the phone rang.


    “Hey Jane! It’s me, Alison. Ready for your initiation tonight?” she laughed into the receiver.


   “Sure. Whatever. So, what kind of party is this gonna be? Do I dress casual, preppy, or what? I hope I don’t have to dig out what I wore when we talked, cause I haven’t had a chance to take that to the dry cleaners yet.”


    “Oh, Janey, don’t worry about what to wear. I’ll pick you up at seven and we’ll get you properly dressed for the occasion! Be out front, I don’t like to be kept waiting!” she warned.


    “Oooookay. I’m not gonna have to, you know, DO anything tonight, am I? ‘Cause I don’t think I’m quite ready for that yet, Alison.” Jane set her brushes down, and wiped her hands, phone propped on her shoulder.


    “Oh no! You’ll just be a ‘guest observer’ this weekend. Just follow my lead, keep quiet, and you’ll see what I was talking about. You’ll be with me the whole time, and my clients know better than to ask. Don’t worry about taking anything more than lipstick and gum, either. You won’t be needing much more than that. Oh, and you can leave your camera home as well, that’s a big no-no where we’re going. See you at seven!”


   “Damn!” Jane muttered as she hung up. “And I was hoping to get some good shots for blackmail! Did she say the whole weekend? Crap! I was supposed to meet Daria in Cambridge Saturday! Dammit, I hope she’s there, I hate blowing people off on their answering machines.”


   She’d left two messages, and had just stepped outside when a dignified black limousine pulled up, and Alison’s face appeared in the window.


    “Let the driver get the door for you, Jane. It’s what he’s paid to do, and you’ll need to get used to it,” she grinned. Jane felt her cheeks redden as her dorm mates stared at her getting in.


   “Well, that’s gonna really help me blend in here. Why all this for a stupid party, Alison? I could’ve just met you there, you know?” Jane asked, after climbing in. She looked around at the fittings and furnishings inside. “Wow! This doesn’t look like any limo I’ve ever been in!”


  “Of course not, Jane. This is a ‘real’ limousine, not some stretched out, glorified pimpmobile that they rent to kids for proms. Wallace is my personal chauffeur, and I own this car. It has features you’d never find on one of those tacky things. Drink?” she inquired, indicating a small wet bar.

 Jane sunk into the butter soft leather seat and looked at Alison. Instead of the red silk of the evening before, or her usual tank top and jeans, she was attired in an abbreviated “A” front leather dress, obviously tailored to her, stockings with garters, and a pair of knee high laced boots with cruel six-inch heels. Her arm tattoos were concealed beneath the sleeves of a short leather jacket, and around her neck was a sparkling diamond choker. Once again, the dragon head tattoo peered out from her bust line, and its tail snaked around her leg.


    “Like it? It’s all hand made, including my boots. If we had more time, I’d take you on a proper shopping expedition, but we’re a little pressed for time. Here, this is a little something I had kicking around. It should fit you, and these shoes, too.” Alison indicated a small bundle on the floor. Jane opened it and peered in.


  Blushing, she said, “Alison, there’s no way in hell I’m gonna wear that in public! What’s wrong with what I’m wearing now?”


   “First of all, Jane, you’re not going to be ‘in public’, and what you’ve got on now, simply isn’t what the clients expect. It’s either that, or you go nude wearing a dog collar. The choice is yours, dear.” She sat back and sipped from a champagne flute, smiling sadistically.


  Jane pouted, then sighed. “Okay, I guess. I suppose this would be a little less embarrassing than that. I guess I can change when we get there, I suppose.”


   “No, you can get dressed right now. In fact, I insist.” The tone of her voice indicated the matter wasn’t subject to dispute. Jane looked sheepish.


   “If Wallace makes you uncomfortable, I can take care of that right now,” Alison said, as she pressed a chrome button, and a screen rose, shutting off the view out front. “The tint in these windows is enough to stare directly at the Sun. No one can see you now. Now, strip!” she commanded, setting down her drink, and picking up a riding crop.


   “And then I suppose you’re gonna get what you wanted back at the colony, huh.” Jane replied coolly, not terribly impressed with her choice of weapons. Alison just smiled, and tapped the bundle with the crop.


  “Perhaps, perhaps not. It all depends on how you react to the session I have planned for tonight. Look, Jane, all of this is part of the theatre of the absurd, and to observe it, one must look as though one belongs. Humor me, put the outfit on, and maybe I’ll overlook this little hiccup.”


   “Humor you? Listen, you told me that if I came, I’d have the last word on what happened there. Now you’re telling me to give you a little striptease in the back of your car before putting on an outfit Barbie would catch a cold in. You can let me out anywhere, I’m outta here!”


  Alison brought the crop down on the bundle fiercely. Jane looked up, fear in her eyes.


   “Jane, Jane, Jane. Here I am, offering you a chance at becoming a very wealthy and well connected artist, and you throw it back in my face. I’d let you out, but that’d just mean that  I’d have to inform the circle that you’ve decided to decline the invitation. And you had such a bright future too. Oh well,” she trailed off sadly.


   “What do you mean, ‘had such a bright future’? I don’t need you or your stupid ‘circle’ to make it! I’ll do just fine, thank you! Now tell your driver to pull over!”


   “Jane, there was something I neglected to tell you when we had dinner the other night. This ‘stupid circle’ of mine includes some of the most powerful people on Earth, much less the country. As it is, you know far too much to be allowed to just skip away, free to reveal what little I’ve told you. Have you ever heard of Lise Bloom?”


    The color had run from Jane’s face when Alison had mentioned the phrase ‘you know too much,’ and her question confused her. She shook  her head.


   “And you never will. You see, she once had the same opportunity as you, but she chose to decline it. She was a great artist, daresay better than you or I, and she was destined to go far. She made it to the next step, where we’re going right now, when she decided it was beneath her and her abilities. She walked away, thinking nothing of the consequences.

   And no, she didn’t mysteriously ‘disappear’, or anything melodramatic like that. No, she just started to have a run of bad luck. Really bad luck, if you know what I mean. Little things like her loan paperwork suddenly developing problems, before being withdrawn entirely. Her grades plummeted before that, despite some of the best work of her life. To make a long story short, she ended up right where she began: in a hick town where the cows outnumbered the people, and hope comes in a twelve-pack. Last I heard, she was pouring coffee to horny truck drivers at the greasy spoon near the trailer park she’s living in. On the plus side, it IS a double-wide, so maybe your future isn’t quite so grim.”


    Jane looked at her, eyes blazing. Alison had spoken quite offhandedly, and she could sense that she wasn’t kidding.  The restaurant, this limo, everything…She closed her eyes, and pulled out the tiny leather outfit.


    “God, you’re a bitch.”


     “That’s what I get paid for, honey. Now, shuck those duds and show momma the goods,” she smirked. Jane slowly began to remove her clothes as the heavy automobile drove on into the night. They finally pulled up to an ornate mansion overlooking the Atlantic. As she dismounted, Jane looked at the angry grey breakers, as the cold wind cut into her nearly naked flesh.


    “Oops, I almost forgot!” Alison exclaimed cheerfully, holding up a long leather leash. “Since you’re here as a ‘guest’, we have a few rules as to how they’re permitted to observe. Should anyone question your presence, you are to merely say ‘I am Alison’s slave’. No one questions a Mistresses decision to bring along a pet to a session. Relax! If it makes you feel any better, look at it as just another way people choose to express themselves. Trust me, it’ll be fun. If you let it, that is.”


     “Alison’s slave. You know, I’ve always thought I had an open mind, but if mine opens any more, my brains are gonna fall out.” Jane replied as Alison snapped the leash to the collar of the harness she now wore.


  “Come along, now, and mind your manners. ‘Slaves’ aren’t allowed to speak unless spoken to, you know,” as she strode in, tugging the leash gently.


    Jane stumbled, but caught herself, and walked behind her, teetering on the stiletto-heeled shoes that were locked to her feet by the ankle straps and tiny silver padlocks. The huge double doors of the Victorian mansion swung open at their approach, and a heavy-set man wearing the uniform of the Waffen-SS announced loudly, “The Dread Mistress Blaze enters! All who await her beware! She has arrived!” He clicked his heels smartly, and let them pass inside.


    Jane unconsciously bowed her head in embarrassment at the announcement and the doorman’s ridiculous get-up. “Very good, Jane! Just keep doing that and you’ll blend in splendidly!” Alison assured her in pleasant tone. Another man, dressed  in a midnight black poet’s shirt, leather pants, and knee-high riding boots, greeted her warmly.


   “Ahhhh, Mistress Blaze! When I heard you were coming to my humble soiree, I was overjoyed! Please, come and refresh yourself before we begin. And this, I take it, is your new protégé? If you desire, I can have her put in the dungeon until you require her services.” He snapped his fingers, and two women attired in heavy leather outfits appeared at his side.


   Jane’s eyes bugged out, and she was ready to bolt out the door as Alison replied, “That won’t be necessary, Lord Darksoul. She’s quite the virgin, and I’ll be keeping her close to me this weekend. Perhaps later, after the festivities commence, will the young lady be gracing your  ‘guest’ facilities.”


    With a flourish, he led them into the house, as the two women regarded Jane appraisingly. “What the hell was that all about?” she hissed, as Alison led her inside. “Dungeon? Protégé? Virgin? And what’s with all this ‘Mistress Blaze’ and ‘Lord Darksoul’ crap, anyway? And all these people?” she trailed off, self-consciously, suddenly very aware of her own nakedness.


   “That, my pretty little slave, is the Master of this house. He’s really an investment banker from Patchogue originally, but after the first hundred million he can run around in a pink bunny suit declaring himself the prom queen for all it matters. He’s on of the major male dominants in my circle, and it’s his turn to host our monthly ‘house parties’.” Alison explained as she led Jane past a group of naked men chained together, as a diminutive redhead with a bullwhip led them away.


    “As for the ‘stupid names’, they’re our ‘handles’ when we’re in our little world. Who’s gonna tremble at the might of Mistress Mary Sue, huh? Or bow to the power and might of the Dread Lord Steve? It’s a freakin’ fantasy world we’ve created here, and it’s all part of the game. Pull your thumb out of your ass and just try to enjoy it, willya? Oh, before I forget. Unless I put you somewhere under lock and key, you stay with me wherever I go. You say nothing, you do nothing, unless I tell you. When I sit, you kneel next to me. If someone tries to talk to you, you bow your head and keep quiet. Understood?”


    Jane nodded weakly, “Yeah, I understand. This just seems so weird, though!”


   “It’s ‘yes, I understand, Mistress’ from now on, okay? Remember, I’ve got a rep here, and it just doesn’t do to have a ‘slave’ casually chit-chatting with a ‘Dread Mistress’ now, would It?” Alison corrected her, giving the leash a firm tug. Jane scowled as she replied,


   “Yes, Mistress. May I ask a question?” she asked, with exaggerated politeness.


   “You may. I may even answer it, too. What is it?” she haughtily replied.


   “Are you gonna be feeding you lowly ‘slave’ soon, or am I just gonna have to gnaw on one of the other victims in the dungeon?” Jane asked softly, her stomach growling.


    “Dinner will be served soon, and yes, you’ll be fed. However, you might have to be a little creative in how you eat, as ‘slaves’ aren’t normally allowed to use utensils. Just remember, it’s all part of the game, okay?  Now, keep quiet and just watch what happens.” Alison explained, as she gave Jane’s leash a sharp tug.


   “Oookay, whatever you say, boss lady.” Jane murmured, earning her a dark look from Alison, a.k.a. “Mistress Blaze”. They walked over to the bar, and Alison snapped her fingers. The gorgeous blonde bartender nodded and began mixing a drink. She delivered it, receiving a gentle stroke of the cheek in lieu of cash. Jane’s eyes widened, but she said nothing. “She wasn’t kidding! This is freakier than one of Trent’s pornos!” she thought silently, as she fought the urge to guffaw at the sight of a forty-ish man approaching, wearing what looked like a short legged wetsuit, high heel, and a Farrah wig.


   Alison noticed her stare, and beckoned him over. “Why, hello Slut-Boy! I’ve heard you’ve been serving Lady Diabolique lately. I don’t see her tonight? Or are you currently seeking a Mistress?” she asked pointedly.


 “Oh no, Mistreth.” The paunchy man replied, in a comic lisp. “She’th in Loth Angeleth! Unfortunately, tonight I therve Mithtreth Louwanna! Buuuuut, thince she’th buthy now, may I therve you?” the apparition tittered. Jane was dying to laugh at the heavily made up man as he pranced and minced about, waitin for Alison to speak.


  “Why, yes you can, Slut-Boy. My slave and I just came in, and haven’t had a chance to wipe the dust from our shoes yet. Clean them. Now.”


 She snapped her fingers and he fell to all fours as if struck by lightning. Jane watched in sick horror as he enthusiastically slobbered and kissed Alison’s boots, including the soles, before she gave him a soft kick in the side if the head, and pointed at Jane’s feet with her riding crop.


  “EwwwwwwwwwwwwHey!” she exclaimed, as Alison whacked her on the ass with the riding crop. “When I say ‘be quiet’, I mean it! Just do as I say, Jane!” she hissed.


  He had pretty thoroughly gotten her shoes soaked, and was now sniffing her toes. “I wonder what you’d do if I’d stepped in that big pile of horse-shit I saw outside-ooh, maybe I don’t wanna know!” she thought, pulling a face. Alison looked at back at her, and tightened up on the leash.


  “And you want to know something, Jane? The guy who just masticated all over our shoes? Does he look familiar to you?”


  “Nooooo, but then again, not an awful lot of guys I’d know dress like that. Should I?” she asked nervously, her face inches from Alison’s.


  “Understandable. I suppose that you really haven’t really seen your Dean of Students all that much, being just another lowly freshman, and all. Just don’t call him ‘Dean’ here. He gets flustered easily, and he’s such a bitch when he gets in one of his moods,” Alison chuckled as she let Jane’s leash out, and turned away.


   She led Jane into a large room, dominated by a huge wooden table. Two professionally attired caterers were laying out silverware and glanced casually at the two young women before returning to their task.


   “Okay, Jane. What you just saw and heard never leaves this house. That’s Rule Number One. The next thing you never do is laugh at a client, or more importantly, a potential client. By the way, good job back there. Right now, he doesn’t even know your name, but he’ll remember your face ‘til the day he dies. I don’t know if that was disdain or nausea back there, but you one thing you gotta know is, compared to some of the people you’ll meet tonight, he’s considered on of the milder ones. Who likes to think he’s a teen-age girl when he’s out for the evening,” she added, with malicious giggle.


   “I thought I was gonna piss my pants when he started sniffing my feet.  That is, if I HAD any pants to pee in, that is. And since we’re on the subject, show me where the little girl’s room is, cause I gotta go.” Jane replied, with a bemused smile. Alison giggled again, as she said,


 “Follow me. You’re in for a special treat now!” She quickly led Jane down a beautifully paneled hallway towards a room where two husky women wearing executioner’s masks stood guarding the door. “One for the water closet!” Alison chanted, as she handed the leash to one of them. Jane looked in terror at her as she winked. “You’ll love it!” she mouthed as she strutted away.


  “In there, you!” the muscular woman grunted, shoving her inside. “Full service on Mistress Blaze’s slave!” she barked, as a thin man seized her leash and pulled her forward. Jane screamed as a ball gag was jammed into her mouth, and her wrists were seized and pulled behind her. Panicked thoughts raced through her mind as she felt the restraints being fastened to her wrists. “She’s secured!” an androgynous form covered in red latex cried out as they dragged her to the toilet.


  “Has anybody told you…whatevers, it’s not polite to stare,” she found herself saying to herself as she sat on the exposed fixture. Four sets of eyes watched from holes in their thick rubber hoods. One was rubbing it’s crotch until another heavily muscled women struck it, and it whimpered pitifully.


  “Oh, is Alison so getting it when I get out of here. Love it, my ass!” she seethed as she finally voided, cheeks burning with shame. The rubber-people lifted her off and cleaned her thoroughly. “Too thoroughly!” Jane thought nervously as her rear was rinsed off yet again. One of the rubber-people(no matter how hard she looked, she couldn’t tell if they were male or female beneath their thick costumes) bent forward and began to clean her with it’s tongue. She closed her eyes as she felt it stroking and exploring her.


 “Enough!” the burly woman barked, giving the rubber-person a brutal blow to it’s back. Jane’s eyes blazed at the woman’s cruelty. “How’d you like to get it like that, bitch!” she snarled silently, as the hooded ‘guard’ dragged her away from the toilet. She pushed her through another door, and two heavily muscled men stood waiting, hooded like the women, teeth bared in lusty grins as the ‘guard’ announced, “Clean and dry! This one’s Mistress Blaze’s, touch her and die!” as she slammed the door.


 “Alright, now it’s time for me to freak out!”  She screamed in her head. Squealing as they seized her, she kicked at them vainly as they threw restraints on her ankles and spread her legs wide. One disconnected the cuffs behind her back and kept her struggles to a minimum as the other slipped the end of a chain through the padlocks. Soon she was spread-eagle in the center of the room, a blindfold firmly bound around her head. She could hear their guttural laughter as they slammed the door behind them, leaving her alone.


  “Now what? I could have just blown her off, like I should have done, but no! I’ve gotta be stupid and go with that fruitcake to this stupid fucking party! Dammit! If I get out of this I swear…”


  Her wild thoughts were cut short by the sound of a door opening and closing. She heard the lock click, and the sound of boot heels on the hard wooden floor approached her. She froze in terror as they stopped in front of her.


  Jane felt the slightest brush of soft leather across her breasts, and she shivered. “Please no!” she tried to shriek through her gag, but the thick rubber ball allowed only a muffled squeal. The owner of the boots remained silent, as they played the flogger’s strands across her nude body, pausing to stroke her nipples and her vagina, before moving on. All over her, she felt the sensation of the many thin fingers of soft leather as they traced her figure.


  “Oh God. They’re gonna torture me first,” the voice in her head whispered, tiny and far away. The strands fell away, and she heard the whisk of air as whoever it was swung the implement around. She heard the boot heels move behind her, and she clenched herself involuntarily. She began to hyperventilate, the air rushing in and out of her nose with an urgent hiss.


   She felt the air move as the flogger swished by her, and she shuddered. Over and over again, she heard the swish as the implement just missed her. Each time, she held her breath, waiting for the blow to fall. Alone, naked, and blind, Jane had never felt so exposed and helpless.


   “This is turning into a freakin’ horror show! I swear I’m never seeing another horror flick as long as I live,” she thought desperately. Boot-heels stopped, and Jane froze as she tried to place where her tormentor was, listening for the sound of his/her/its heels on the hard wooden floor. “Think rationally, Lane,” she calmed herself. “It’s a game, right? That’s what Alison said, right? Just play along until whoever this is gets bored. It’s probably her, anyway.”


  As she reassured herself, Boot-heels walked away, and the door slammed shut. She waited for a few seconds before trying to slip her thin wrists from the restraints. “Ohhhh! Is she so gonna get it for dragging me to this freak show!  I’ll teach her a thing or two about fear and pain!” she seethed, as she struggled with the cuffs.


  “Dammit! Whoever did this, knows what they’re doing!” she thought, giving up. “Duhhh! This is a hobby for these clowns, of course they know what they’re doing. Oh well, guess I just have to wait until whoever gets bored. I wish I’d have gotten some chow first though,” as her stomach growled again.


  The door opened again, and Boot-heels approached. Jane didn’t react as they began to swish the leather thing past her. She heard a snort of laughter, and suddenly her blindfold was removed. Alison stood there, a smug grin on her face as she removed the ball-gag.


 “And just what the hell was that all about!” Jane fumed. “You assholes scared the shit out of me! I thought that this was it! You…you…Ohhh!” she was speechless with anger.


 Alison crossed her arms and replied, making no move to free her. “I’ll bet we did. Doesn’t it feel good to know it was only a game? Just for second, stop being mad at me, and go back over your feelings for a moment. Think about it, Jane. You love horror movies, right?” Jane nodded uncomprehendingly. “Okay. Now why? You like to be scared, as long as it isn’t real, right? Now, didn’t you just get that same thrill, magnified, because you really thought you were inside one of your “horror movies”? Or maybe it was like the first time you rode a roller coaster. I’ll bet you felt like it was the end for you the first time, right?”


  Jane listened, and tried to recall the first time she’d rode a roller coaster. She was eight, and had just barely been able to reach the minimum height. Trent had gone on with her, but he wasn’t much help, asleep as they crested the hill, and she looked down at the bottom. Her tiny body had filled to bursting with sensations she’d never experienced before. Fear, excitement, and dread had blended into one long tumultuous event. When she got off she…”


  “Alison, I have to warn you, the first time I rode a roller coaster I tossed my groceries from all the excitement. But I get what you’re saying. Now, would you mind taking me down, and just possibly letting me get something to eat? I’ll be more interesting when my blood sugar is out of my socks. Uh, please, “Mistress”?”


  Alison snorted again as she disconnected the restraints and helping her down. “Tell you what, you can drop the “Mistress”, for now. I can almost see the exclamation marks when you say it. And sorry about the shock when you got pulled in, I thought you needed to experience what these people need to feel. In a way, they’re all excitement junkies, and we are sorta like your roller coaster. You have to admit, you were terrified there for a minute, weren’t you?”


  “Damn straight! By the way, remind me I need to give you a good beating when this is all over, okay?” Jane snarled sweetly, as Alison removed the last cuff from her ankle.


  “Oooh! Maybe I will!” she giggled evilly, as Jane blushed.


 “Ahhh, that’s not what I mean, oh, hell!”


   Laughing as she took up Jane’s leash loosely in her hand, she said, “Come on! They’re serving dinner now, and later the real fun begins! I promise, no more surprises tonight, Jane. I’ll be servicing a few of my clients later, and you’ll be able to watch, okay?”


  “Uhhh, ‘watching’ is something I don’t know if I’m ready for yet, Alison. You’re not gonna “do it” with anybody, are you?” she asked nervously.


  “Maybe, maybe not. It all depends on what I feel like doing. Remember, I control the action, all they do is make suggestions beforehand. But let’s get dinner out of the way first, huh?” as she patted Jane’s ass. Jane didn’t flinch, which surprised her.


  Alison leered, “And then, dessert will be sinfully good!” Laughing, she led Jane from the tiny room.






                                                                      CHAPTER SIX



  “So, somehow, being abducted and terrorized  converted you from ordinary art student into Whips-n-Chains Jane, dominatrix extraordinaire. I was expecting a radioactive spider or something.” Daria replied flatly after Jane had described the party.


  “Well, no, not really. I was planning on tearing her lungs out with a spoon as soon as there weren’t any witnesses around, but when I saw her getting paid, I think that’s when I started to go over to the Dark Side.”


  “Oooh, now that sounds ‘dominant’ to me. You said you were there three days. How’d days two and three go over?”


  “Interesting. Some of the things I saw were just plain silly, like the ‘drag’ race. Now that was a Kodak moment! A bunch of executives in dresses running like maniacs in front of a bunch of leather geeks on the lawn of a million dollar mansion.”


  “So, did you ‘make’ anything at this ‘party’? Daria inquired tipsily. “Or was it ‘pleasure before business’?”


  “Nahhhh, neither actually. The episode with the bathroom had kinda freaked me out, and dinner didn’t help much either. See, while Alison and the rest of the ‘Alphas’ were in the dining room, me and a bunch of the other ‘protégé’s were sorta  ‘doing it doggy style’, in a fashion.”


  “More information than I care to hear, but, by all means, elaborate.” Daria replied flatly.


  Jane laughed, “Oh, no, nothing like THAT! We just had to eat out of doggy dishes in another room. Let me tell you, I’ve never felt so stupid doing anything before in my life! Later on, though, all the weird crap started to make sense, in a nonsensical way. Everything there was about symbolism, power and weakness, richer and poorer. Alison gave it a fitting name: Theatre of the Absurd. As an artist I could appreciate the rituals these people created for themselves, the dance of their own creation. And it doesn’t hurt that now I get paid stupid amounts of cash to further their rituals!” she chuckled.


   The afternoon light fought through the overcast, and Daria peered through the chinks in Jane’s blind. “Damn. What time is it? I’ve got a couple classes this afternoon that I really can’t afford to miss.”


  Jane snorted, “Don’t worry about them. And I’m still not letting you leave in your condition. I’m gonna have to ask you to lie down,” She gasped, as she realized she’d unconsciously used the same pick-up line on Daria that Alison had.


  “What’s the matter, Jane? You look like you just ate a bug.”


  “Nothing! Just the wine talking to me!” She looked at her hands and silently willed them to cease trembling. “As we were saying, the second and third days did sorta blend together, and by the time I left, I was actually staring to like the absurdity of it all. And the cash didn’t hurt either.”


   “But it’s still a form of prostitution, Jane. How do you sleep at night? I mean, that industry chews people up and spits ‘em out. You know that.” Daria prodded again. “And, I seem to recall that by me showing up at your doorstep, I’m supposedly doomed to leap into its jaws. There are a lot of things I’ll never be ready for in life, and this is definitely one of them.”


 “Yeah, I did say that, didn’t I? Well, you know what they say, “Misery loves Company,” and all that. It’s not like you’re gonna have to wiggle your ass down on State Street or anything, Daria, Katy and her people take care of all the arrangements for me, and I only have to cough up ten percent of what I get. I mean, hell, look around you! In a little more than four months I’ve gotten all this, and by the time I’m done at BFAC, I’ll have enough to open my own gallery. I’m not saying it’s a bed of roses, because there are still thorns here and there.”


  “I have to admit, the money end sounds intriguing, but I’ve still got that ‘physical contact’ problem to overcome. I mean, it’s not like I’m a virgin anymore, but still…I don’t think I could do that, at least not with a straight face. So I guess it’s the concrete shoes for me, huh?” Daria replied sadly. Jane shook her head as she poured them both more wine.


  “Jeez Daria, get off the ‘concrete shoes’ kick! I already said this ain’t the Mob! Yeah, I shouldn’t have freaked you with the solemn pronouncements of your career destruction, but it’s a lot easier than you think! And how many times do I gotta tell you it’s not about sex? In it’s simplest terms, they pay you to physically and verbally abuse them for whatever sins they think or know they’re guilty of. It’s a game, and I’m offering you a playing piece. If you decide to, before the end of next year, you can have college paid for! And a lot of nice stuff on top of it, too. You’ll have the luxury of waiting for the right opportunity, rather than scrabbling along in some dead-end jobs until when, or if, that opportunity comes along. That’s what it all boils down too.” Jane pleaded.


   Daria sat there, cradling her glass, thinking. She’d discarded the bathrobe and towels, and was wearing the dress Jane had loaned her and her sport bra. The collar had been tossed atop the shoes, now back in their box. She looked at Jane, with a bemused smirk.


  “And was that the only reason you wanted me to come along?” she teased.


  “I’m not sure what you’re talking about, Daria.” Jane replied uneasily. Daria rose and retrieved the shoes and collar. Putting them on, she carefully strode in front of her friend and put on her best “Quinn” pose.


  “Or was there ANOTHER reason you wanted me to, hmmm? I may be a little introverted, but I do know when someone is getting hot and bothered about something. I saw the way you were looking at me earlier, Jane. And after hearing how you and Alison spent three days in a mansion together with little else but teensy leather straps and inhibitions, I figured you’ve been a little ‘freer’ about your relationships of late,” she said, as she took her glasses off and tossed her luxuriant mane of auburn hair back. Cocking her hip, she smirked and asked,


   “So, what do you REALLY want to say about how I look, ‘Amiga’? D’ya think I’d ‘make the cut’?


  “There’s definitely something going on there,” Jane replied, shakily. “It’s not gonna be easy, you know. I’ll have to ‘introduce’ you to the circle properly.”


  “I think I’d like that, odd as it sounds. Dominatrix. Quinn’d turn her self inside out if she found out, you know.” Daria said as she turned and checked her reflection in the mirror.


  “She can’t. It’ll take a little while before you can establish your own clientele, you know. I’d have to sponsor you as my assistant, at first.” She could hardly believe what she was hearing. And seeing.


  “Well, it’d definitely beat being a paper pusher, I’m sure.” Daria remarked, cradling her glass again.


  “That’s true, Daria. I mean, look at the alternatives, it’d better to be in your own dungeon than be stuck in some lonely outpost stirring up the scorched remnants of your life before getting put in some rubber room, right?” Jane replied, rising.


  Daria teetered over, a smug grin on her face. “I suppose you’re gonna have to teach me some things, huh? It’s not like they had a class back in high school on this?”


  “I’m sure Li probably tried at some time or other. Sooo, when do you wanna start?” Jane said, taking her around the waist. Their lips brushed, and Jane felt a thrill run through her body.


  “Well, seeing as how I’m blowing off the rest of my day, now would be a good time, right?”


  Jane shuddered, as the last barriers to her secret longings were thrown down. “Daria, do you remember what you told me about that dream you had, after you had that wisdom tooth yanked?”


   She blushed, as she recalled the awful dream of being kidnapped by Li, “Yeah, I do. What’s that have to do with this?”


  “You said that in your dream, I, uh, was forced to do something to you?” she ventured slyly.


  “Now that I recall, yes.”


  “You never did tell me if I was any good, did you?”


   “No. I didn’t. Is that a problem?” she pouted a bit, as she stared into Jane’s eyes.


  “No, it isn’t. I guess I’ll be finding out soon enough, eh?” Jane smirked, as she maneuvered her friend back to the bedroom.


    “I guess you will at that.” Daria giggled as she pulled the door shut behind them.



                                                                    THE END





        Author’s note- the asterisk (*) in chapter three represents the information gleaned from my sister on how to walk in high heels. I hope you’ve enjoyed this story as much as I’ve enjoyed writing this highly off-canon piece. In all likelihood, this will be the last of this ilk from yours truly, barring any sudden flashes of perverse creativity. Thanks to the Dread Mistress Thea for allowing me a dark and dangerous place to unleash my peculiar urges.  

                                                                                        The Caneman