She peeked out from behind the front window curtains. Sunbeam blender, crock, etc.
Anna Gunn as Amy
As I write this, hundreds of people are converging on the streets of Washington, D. Capitol with T-shirts saying "Believe Women. The global financial world is changing, as President Trump would say, big league. This week marks the next-level escalation of the trade war between the United States and China, as POTUS attempts to roll back decades of the hollowing out of American manufacturing in favor of emerging markets in the Pacific.
A recent tour of the Balkans proved a potent reminder once again of the importance of this region to U. The Balkans are steeped in history and very much in the middle of today's geopolitical great game. We ignore the area at our peril.
Justice reform sounded like a good idea in Albania, which like many former communist countries, is dealing with the hangover from a decades-long legacy of corruption. Russia is an adversary, but they are not threatening the very existence of the United States. If I wanted to destroy an enemy society, and had a long-term focus, wanted to do it stealthily, and effectively, to make the society destroy itself and the ability to defend itself, I would do the following:.
All you know is I have the keys, the keys to your freedom. Right now, right this moment, I own you. Something you don't want to admit is in you. Something that drove you to come out here tonight?
Sue Ann reeled in an inner turmoil. How could he have known? His words had torn away the illusion of calm resignation. Own he had said, and at that moment he captured her real emotions in a single word. The secret behind her fascination with bondage, with watching the prisoners at the jail, even her adventure tonight, all came down to some feeble attempt on her part to feel owned, completely, totally, by someone whom she could not influence in any way. Entirely by chance this man had seized not only her body but her mind, her soul as well.
She felt a wave of desire sweep over her, more than anything in this world she wanted this man, to please him, to serve him any way he demanded of her, with nothing in return for herself. She wanted to be used, to be possessed, treated as property. Her own body betrayed her as her nipples hardened, triggered by sexual desire. Thoughts of escape vanished; the last thing she wanted now was to be separated from…she didn't even know his name. Who he was didn't matter now; she didn't care.
All she knew was that she was his prisoner, his captive love slave, his to do with as he pleased. He pulled back, laughing. She gasped uncontrollably, arching her back between the shoulder strap and seat, struggling to touch him with her imprisoned hands. Settle down, face front, no sound. She wanted to plead with him, tell him how she felt, beg him to touch her again, to use her, but his command silenced her as effectively as a tight leather gag.
He traced a finger along her leg. She clenched her manacled hands into fists, struggling to control herself. His touch felt like fire. It was all she could do not to scream out her passion.
He leaned close to her, speaking in a low voice close to her ear, "Lucky for you I was the one that found you. Someone else might have left you out here, or tried to help by rescuing you from your predicament. You don't want someone to come along and take these off. Whatever happens, you couldn't help yourself. No control, no responsibility. That's what you want, isn't it? Sue Ann nodded meekly. She wanted to shout out her need, beg him to take her.
Everything in her fantasy had come true with a startling speed. Here she was, the prisoner tightly restrained in chains, controlled, no, dominated by a powerful yet entirely unknown man. If only he would allow her to speak. She nodded; maybe he would lift his prohibition now and allow her to talk.
I'm enjoying this, you know? It's not every day an attractive woman walks up to me naked and in chains. One piece of advice, if you try something like this again don't go overboard on the restraints. Your setup would be fine if someone else was here with you, but by yourself it's too dangerous. What would you have done if the keys had really disappeared? Do you think you could make a twenty mile hike locked up like that? Sue Ann shook her head. He was right, except he didn't know about her other set of keys down at the shed.
He did have a point though, if she had jammed a key trying to get the handcuffs off she would have been in serious trouble, even life threatening.
What concerned her most were his intentions now. She really didn't need a safety lecture, but she wasn't going to tell him that. In fact it looked like she wasn't going to tell him anything unless he allowed her to talk. I'm going to unlock your handcuffs to relieve some of the strain on your arms.
As I release each wrist, you will place your hands in front of you, a palm on each knee. Not only that, you'll have a long walk all the way back to the highway. Oh yeah, I know about the extra keys in the shed too. He did know; so much for her half-formed idea to make some kind of escape. He unbuckled the seat belt and shoulder strap, and then made her lean forward in the seat.
His hand was on her left wrist as he inserted the key and turned it to unlock the cuff. He pulled her wrist free of the steel bracelet and brought her arm around, placing her hand on her left knee. He freed her other wrist and brought it around, again placing her right hand on her right knee. He left the open handcuffs dangling from the ring on her waist chain. She hadn't realized how sore her shoulders had become. It felt like she had been carrying hundred pound weights all day.
She wanted to stretch, rub her wrists, but it seemed as if her hands were glued to her knees. She took his implied threat all too seriously; she dare not move either hand. You will remain as you are now. Face straight ahead; do not turn your head to either side, and do not move your hands.
I am going to stand up for a few minutes outside the car. While I do that, you will slowly count backwards from one hundred, out loud so I can hear you. If you go too fast, or if I hear you miss a number, I will make you start over. Disobey me and you will spend all day hogtied in the trunk of the car, then I'll leave you by the side of the highway the same way.
She started counting, ", 99, 98…" She thought about being left in her car trunk all day. The heat would be miserable, and then to be left along the highway too. No, she concentrated on her assignment, carefully pronouncing each number so he could hear it. For all she knew he was standing just outside her door, watching every move she made. Sue Ann continued to count down. It seemed to take forever, but he still hadn't stopped her. What was he doing?
All she had to do was reach up and take the blindfold off. Except she still couldn't move. It wasn't chains holding her now; the invisible bonds created by a few words from him held her hands down as securely as the handcuffs.
What would he have her do next? All the way through and he hadn't stopped her. She felt warmth on her face. A few glimmers of sunlight worked past her blindfold. It must be dawn, she thought.
She waited for her next task. Maybe he would drag her out of the car, throw her over the hood, and then use her roughly. Should she say something, tell him she had finished? No, his instructions were only to count, nothing else.
Best if she waited. She had no idea how long she had been waiting, sitting immobile in the car seat. It was definitely getting hot in the car, and her bladder was making demands. She couldn't wait much longer without making a mess in the car seat. She had to risk it. No answer, nothing but the quiet of the morning desert. I have to go to the toilet," she pleaded. She didn't have too much time left. She took a deep breath, then reached up and took off the blindfold.
The glare from the rising sun dazzled her eyes. She shielded them with one hand and looked all around. No sign of anyone. She opened her door and stepped out. She still had those leg irons on. It was going to be a long walk back; she almost would have preferred he had taken the leg restraints off and left the handcuffs on.
Looking around the mine site there was no sign of anyone else, not even tire tracks or footprints other than her own. She headed for the nearest bush to relieve herself. He had left her in little better shape than when she had arrived at the car last night. No clothes, no car keys, and no cuff keys. If he knew about the extra set at the shed it was likely gone too.
Even her bicycle would be useless with her ankles chained together. Her call of nature answered, she slowly walked back to the car, still hobbled. She did have one piece of clothing, the bandana he had used for a blindfold. It would keep the sun off her head, which would help a little. She turned to pick it up from the car seat.
Underneath on the driver's seat were her keys, all of them. Immensely relieved, she grabbed them and sat back down.
Off came what she now looked on as her worst mistake in the whole plan, the leg irons around her ankles. She stood up, unfastened the waist chain and dropped it on the car seat, along with the leg chains now lying on the floorboard.
Free at last, she stretched and took her first full steps since last night. Next she needed to get dressed. She opened the trunk; everything was still there, food, water, and her extra clothes.
She managed to get into her shorts and a top while eating and drinking at the same time. She wanted to get out of this place as soon as possible. She noticed the red streaks the handcuffs had left on her wrists; without a doubt she had some matching ones on her ankles. She closed the trunk and got in on the driver's side. First thing, she locked all the doors. She figured her mysterious stranger had left but she didn't want to take any chances.
She stuffed the leg irons and handcuffs under the passenger seat. Her car started on the first try; she had been afraid he might disable it. She drove down to the shed and stopped in front. She hesitated before getting out of the car. He might be here, waiting for her just inside the open doorway. She shook her head; thinking like that could lead to paranoia. She got out of the car, opened the trunk, went in to the shed and got her bicycle.
The lockbox was still next to it, where she had left it last night, along with the bag containing her clothes. She put the bike in the trunk, closed it, and went back to get the box and bag. Those went in the back seat. She took one last look around. The wind had come up; she saw the mesquite swaying back and forth, but nothing else, not even a jackrabbit.
Whoever he was, wherever he had come from, he was gone now. She drove back to the highway without incident. The gate had been closed, just as she had left it. She pulled onto the highway and headed back to the city and home. While driving she thought about what had happened to her the previous night. Her bondage hike had been strenuous but she had been proud of herself when she reached the car. She would be sore for many days to come but she had set a goal and completed it.
Wearing chains and nothing else had been exciting; perhaps she had some latent streak of exhibitionism. The relief at finding the car and her personal satisfaction at the success of her plan had given her a sort of mental high, a high that crashed when she didn't find the keys. What had occurred after that she still had to sort out in her head.
She had never panicked like that before, the moment when she heard the voice behind her. Attempting to run had been incredibly dumb; she was lucky she hadn't fallen and wound up with a broken nose, or worse. That was the problem with all restraints, she thought ruefully, they didn't know when you were done and they should stop working. In a heartbeat the chains had changed from being play toys to the real thing, putting her at the mercy of a stranger.
She was still confused over her reaction to what he had done. Although she had been terrified, he hadn't actually harmed her in any way. But the way he had spoken to her; she trembled involuntarily at the memory. He had projected such immense power that she couldn't help herself. She had been compelled to obey him, by something she still didn't understand.
Her obedience had not been out of fear, not entirely. He seemed to have sensed it, from what she remembered of his words. What disturbed her most of all was her reaction when he had touched her. At first she had been resigned to being assaulted or even raped, but something quite different had happened. When he had grabbed her breast, she lost it. Even now she could only vaguely remember how she had reacted. She had not recoiled in distaste, determined to fight to the end.
No, she wanted him to keep going. She had never had such an intense sexual experience before. She supposed she was fortunate he had not taken advantage of her, but in some perverse way what she felt was frustration and disappointment.
Sue Ann pulled off the highway and headed down familiar streets to her home, a small house at the edge of town. She needed a bath, some food, and sleep, in that order. She would sort out her feelings later. She pulled into her garage, closed the outside door, and went on into the house.
Later that evening, lying in bed, she thought about her stranger, how he had made sure she didn't know his identity. Would she ever see him again? For that matter, would she see him for the first time?
All she had was the memory of a voice commanding her, of hands touching her. Monday morning found Sue Ann at work at her usual time. She was still confused about her adventure over the weekend. She needed time to put it in perspective.
A few days concentrating on work would distract her. All afternoon and into the night on Sunday she had gone over that one memorable moment. He had put his hand around her throat and whispered into her ear those words she would never forget, I own you.
The intensity behind his words had captivated her. She had felt the conviction in his tone. He was stating a fact. He knew it, and more important she knew it too. She didn't want to contemplate the implications that went with those three simple words. If he owned her, if he came back to claim her again, what would she do? Maybe that was the wrong question, better to ask what would she be able to do about it? That night in the desert she would have done anything for him, no questions asked.
What would happen if there was a second time? She could not answer the question and that concerned her more than anything that had actually happened that night.
She picked up her morning cup of tea and took a sip. Better to get some work done and worry about her personal problems afterward. She pulled up the email client on her computer and started to weed out the list. Weekends always produced a slew of junk mail.
She had enough practice to run down the header list quickly, zapping the obvious junk mail by sender or header line. One caught her eye, the sender was in her own company domain, but she didn't recognize the name. The header was Derivatives Analysis Has Errors. She had done a spreadsheet analysis on some derivatives a few weeks ago; maybe someone had spotted an error. She clicked on the entry to bring up the full text of the message. She expected the screen to fill with some detailed explanation of financial transactions.
Instead she got one line, centered in her screen, containing three words in a small point size font. I own you read the entire message. Sue Ann's hands began to shake. She had to take one hand off the mouse and hold them together in her lap.
He knew where she worked. Not just that, he could insert email into the private company network. She reached for the mouse and deleted the message. She scanned the rest of her email list. The usual pyramid schemes, urban myth warnings, and multi-level marketing opportunities were there, along with a few work items from senders she recognized.
She deleted the junk mail and went through the business items, replying when needed. There were no more messages from her mystery man.
Obviously he had not forgotten about her. It was no longer a question of if, but rather when he would show up to claim her again. How had he known where she worked? She sat in her cubicle looking out the window, trying to figure out how he found her. Her purse was sitting on the edge of her desk. She closed her eyes, of course. She had left her purse in the trunk that night.
The trunk that opened with one of the car keys she had left on the seat. Her wallet was in there; it contained her driver's license and business cards. He knew where she lived. She picked up her purse and opened it to see what else he could have found.
Right next to her wallet was a slim writing book, her daily diary. She put everything in that diary. What she did during the day, her dreams at night, all the secrets she would never tell anyone. If he had read it then he knew everything there was to know about her. All the details of her plan were in there. No wonder he had known about the other set of keys at the shed. She had told him. He would have had plenty of time to read it all; she had spent hours walking back up the road.
She could go to the police and claim she was being stalked. The detective would ask who was stalking her and how she had met him. She could imagine the look on his face when she explained she didn't know who he was because she had been blindfolded while bound hand and foot, standing out in the middle of the desert with no clothes on.
Either she would get a trip to the mental hospital or the detective would burst out laughing then throw her out. She continued to work the rest of the day. There were no more messages. In all respects it was an ordinary day. Except for Sue Ann Mendel there would be no ordinary days in her future. Someone had chosen to enter her life and turn it upside down.
Someone she could not identify. For all she could tell he walked by her every day. It might even be someone in the same office.
No she thought, not in the office. That voice she would recognize in a second. The next day at work she came in and sat at her desk, hesitant to bring up her morning email. Finally she clicked on the icon, but all that came up were junk messages or work-related memos. Wednesday and still there was nothing in her email. It seemed he had forgotten her again. Thursday she came in a few minutes early, eager to see if there was a message. Again she found nothing.
Sue Ann felt a pang of disappointment. She had no way to contact him. Unless he chose to contact her there was nothing she could do. Friday passed and her email remained empty of any more cryptic messages. She went home in a mixed mood, alternately relieved he hadn't come for her and angry for the same reason.
As she went through the door and kicked off her shoes she glanced through the day's mail. A few bills, a few more advertisements, and one envelope with no return address. Curious she opened it. There was a single sheet of white paper. In the center, typed in closely spaced letters, the words I own you. She sat down on the couch, staring at the piece of paper in her hand. Carefully she set it down on the coffee table in front of her.
It wasn't just a tremble in her hands this time. Her whole body was shaking. He did know where she lived. Not really a surprise, but seeing it confirmed was far different than just guessing.
She jumped up and ran to the front door, checking the lock and dead bolt. She went to every window, and then the back door. All locked and no evidence anyone had entered. The garage door, she had forgotten that one. No, she had come in through the garage; no one had been in there. She should be safe, but she didn't feel safe at all. She peeked out from behind the front window curtains.
No suspicious cars parked in front of the house. He could be anywhere, maybe even a neighbor. She went back and sat in her chair. Get a grip , she told herself, you are starting to panic again. She put the letter back in the envelope and put it in a drawer. If this went any further she would go to the police, even if they did laugh at her. He might think it was a game but there was a law against stalking in this state. Thirty days in jail would serve him right for upsetting her like this, but she had second thoughts immediately afterward; somehow that didn't seem right.
She stood up and paced back and forth. She fixed some supper and sat watching the news on TV. She needed a distraction. She was determined not to let some anonymous stranger take over her life. She passed the evening watching a movie on TV and reading a magazine, deliberately forcing herself not to think about what was happening to her.
Saturday morning she lay in bed, thinking back to the previous week. The marks on her wrists and ankles had faded quickly. She held up her hands. No sign at all that last week those same wrists had been locked behind her back in unbreakable handcuffs, with the keys held by some stranger who had his hand on her neck.
She closed her eyes, remembering how it had felt, his hand on her throat pushing her head back against the seat. He could have choked the life out of her, but he chose to let her live. She got up and took a shower. She didn't have anything planned, so she pondered how to best use the day.
She did have one idea, something she hadn't done all week. Drying herself with her big fluffy towel she decided. Back to the bedroom, she knelt by the bed and pulled out her toy box.
She hadn't bothered to dress to save time. She looked at the same set of handcuffs and leg irons she had worn last week. With all that had happened she hadn't indulged herself for a while. The leg cuffs went on first. She didn't have socks and shoes on this time, but she wasn't going to be hiking either. She tightened the cuffs down till they were snug against her ankles. She could still stand but she knew she should keep any walking to a minimum.
Next she picked up the same Darby style handcuffs and locked one end on her right wrist. She stood up then reached behind her back and put the other cuff on her left wrist. Using the key to close the cuff was much easier; she didn't have the strength to push the locking bar closed by herself. She reached out behind her and set the keys on the nightstand next to the bed. Just like last Saturday night, except she hadn't bothered with the waist chain. She fell face down on the bed, her hands secured behind her back.
She wiggled onto the bed the rest of the way and pushed a pillow out of the way with her chin. She closed her eyes and concentrated on holding as still as possible. A few time she pulled on the handcuffs, just to make sure they were still there. If he came in right now, found her on the bed like this, and grabbed the keys before she could get up, she would be helpless, once more his obedient captive, stripped and bound for his pleasure.
Sue Ann's eyes flew open. What was she doing? She sat up, wiggled over to the nightstand and reached behind her back for the keys. A moment later her hands were free, then her feet. She stood up and went to her closet. She had to get some clothes on right now, anything. Underwear, then shorts and a top, it made up her usual weekend attire. The chains went back in the box and under the bed.
She had to do something to get him out of her head. There was an anthropology seminar at the Natural History Museum at noon. She decided to go. Talking shop with the other amateurs like herself and picking up a few tips from the University and Museum staff would take the whole afternoon. After the seminar she might share dinner with some of the participants. The meeting usually continued on for a few hours more at the nearby pizza joint. Sue Ann went to the seminar and spent the rest of the day talking about petroglyphs, old Indian sites and preservation techniques.
She forgot all about her would-be stalker. Returning home that night she did check for any signs of a break-in, and before bed she made the rounds of all the doors and windows.
Not finding any unwelcome visitors, she went to bed. Sue Ann spent the day shopping at the grocery store and cleaning the house.
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