2.6 Panic

Jillian brought her legs together and wriggled a bit so her panties dropped down to the floor, then tried awkwardly to pick them up. It wasn’t made any easier by the lingering breathlessness and dizziness from her encounter with Henry. She finally dropped to one knee to reach them, then had to get up.

Her leg muscles protested in multiple places, since her boots kept her heels several inches higher than the ball of her foot. She wasn’t the most flexible person to begin with, but the corset further restricted her range. Her centre of balance seemed off, somehow, and she couldn’t quite work out how to compensate. She staggered, rather embarrassingly, struggling to get both feet under her and her back straight before she found herself sprawled on the floor.

A strong hand around her wrist jerked her even more off-balance, and she yelped—but instead of falling, she came up against a warm body. Arms wrapped around her tightly, taking part of her weight and keeping her upright.

And she recognized that scent, even before she looked directly into yellow eyes over an impish grin. Oh please, not now, give me a minute to recover first…

“Well, hi, there.”

“Um… hi.” Suddenly she was even more short of breath. This close, surrounded by that intoxicating scent, she kept thinking of Flair on his lap, with frustration that she couldn’t do the same, couldn’t sit down on his lap and work him deep inside and keep him there, filling her, her body keeping him warm and protected while he was doing more important things like talking to the other fae. His fur on her legs through the thin nylon mattered less than the nudging of his penis against her thigh, and she longed to just wriggle around and part her legs a bit. But Mistress would be upset if she tried to circumvent her rules, so she stayed still.

“That made for quite a nice view, from the right angle. And I’m glad you decided to give up on those panties. I bet they’re so wet by now they’d be uncomfortable anyway.” One arm still firmly around her, he took them with his free hand, and raised them for one deep sniff. “Mm, wonderful perfume, that. Natural, clean, and it means you’re feeling good. Never saw the point to feeling self-conscious about it. You don’t, do you?”

He obviously didn’t want her to. If he thought that her scent was a good thing, then presumably even the dampness she could feel on her inner thighs was a good thing, not an embarrassing one. But could she honestly say that she didn’t feel self-conscious about it at all? Lying to fae was bad.

“I… I’m trying not to.”

“That’ll do, I wouldn’t ask more than that.” She closed her eyes as he lowered his head, his lips brushing hers fleetingly, then she felt teeth nipping gently at the lobe of her ear, above the pearl earrings. “Best effort is always enough, at least for Min and I and our immediate friends.” He ran his free hand slowly, fingers spread wide, from her collarbone down over one breast and around to her side, down over the tight constricted curve of her waist to her hip, then forward to her inner thigh. Automatically, she moved her feet farther apart so he could reach anywhere he wanted. She couldn’t lose her balance, not with his other arm still secure around her, and that was probably a good thing.

Fingers explored her labia, especially the wet area towards the back, and she leaned into it, desperately wanting to feel them probe inside, parting her lips, pressing into her, thrusting in, so she could show him how much she’d welcome a much larger intruder…

“Oh, you do like this, don’t you? Yummy.” Nikandros withdrew his hand, and Jillian whimpered, but opened her eyes. Distantly, she wondered where the white panties had gone, but that thought was derailed when he kissed the side of her throat, just above her collar. “The best way to be sexy is to feel all sexy and turned on and to know absolutely that there is no shame in enjoying your own body or in making sure that everyone around you knows that. Can you do that for me? Will you do your best to stop feeling bad about feeling good?”

“Yes.” It came out as a whimper.

“What will you do?” That hand stroked the upper surface of her breasts, then a finger traced the crevice between.

“Try my best to stop feeling bad about feeling good.”

“Why?” Those fingers were moving downwards, creeping under the neckline of her dress and into the cup of her corset. She squirmed, waiting impatiently for him to find her nipple.

“Because… because it makes me more sexy.”

“Does feeling sexy feel good?”

“Yes. So good…” There. He circled her nipple with a fingertip, teasing it, though she doubted it could get any harder.

“So you’ll try to stop feeling bad about feeling sexy too, right?”

“Yes. Yes, I’ll try to stop feeling bad about feeling sexy.”

“Good girl. That’s what I want to hear. Does it feel good to know that people are enjoying looking at you?”

She blushed, although she couldn’t quite remember why. “Yes.”

“Which means?”

“I’ll try my best to stop feeling bad about liking it that people like looking at me.”

“Very good girl. You’re getting the hang of it now. I don’t think I need to go through every little variation. You’ve got the idea, right? Whenever you’re feeling bad that something feels good, you’ll remember that I don’t want you to feel bad and I do want you to feel good, and you’ll do your best to adjust how you see things to fit that.”

“Feel good. Don’t feel bad.” The scent of him, the closeness, the sensual purr of his voice, the fingers that had moved on to her other nipple, were all maddening.

“That’s it. I love watching your own juices trickling down the inside of your thighs because you’re just so intensely overstimulated and aroused. And I’m going to love watching you enjoy being enjoyed for the rest of this party. Fae live a long time, in human terms, and we treasure novelty. Right now, you’re the new plaything. How does that make you feel, Jewel? That it doesn’t matter who or what you are outside of here, there are thirteen fae in this room, and you’re our new toy? That your owner named you, and that’s the only name or identity you have right now?”

Jewel whimpered. “It’s… it…”

“You don’t feel bad about feeling good, remember?”

“It’s… incredible,” she whispered. “But scary.”

“Good girl. It should make you feel incredible, that makes perfect sense. There isn’t anything to be scared of, not really, but being scared can feel good too, in moderation. When you get too scared, that makes some of us want to protect you instead of just enjoying playing with you, and that’s not so fun or sexy. So when you start feeling really scared, I want you to immediately remember something.”

“Mmhmm?”

“I want you to remember that, for fae, we’re mostly pretty nice people. And I want you to remember that it would make no sense for us to hurt you or be too cruel to you, anyway. Broken toys are no fun, and if it’s too bad, you won’t ever ask your mistress for anything else and then you’d never come play again. Finding wonderful toys like you isn’t easy, and that makes you valuable to us. When you’re scared, I want you to think about that and feel less scared, okay?”

“O-okay.” If she was a good toy and pleased them, did that mean that they’d just keep her forever and her whole life from now on would be nothing but being played with? Touched and fucked and looked at, dressed sexy all the time? Wasn’t there a reason that should be a bad thing, not an enticing one?

“But you know what will make tonight the best for everyone? For us and for you?”

“Not… not feeling bad about feeling good?”

“That’s it. You’ve got it. It’s going to be a much better night for us and for you if you can just let yourself feel good without getting tangled up in other stuff that isn’t relevant right now. Will you do that for me?”

“Y… yes. I’ll do my best.”

“That’s all I could ask. Just do your best. And you’ll be sexier than Helen of Troy and Lilith and Mata Hari all rolled into one. Mmm. Threesome. Fun. Anyway. Do you want me to keep touching you?”

“Yes. Please. Don’t stop.”

He pressed his hips forward, against hers, and she felt the dense plushy fur and the hardness of his penis as it slid along her thigh. He wasn’t allowed to fuck her, she thought vaguely, but he was still not going to miss a chance to rub it against her. His hand found its way between her legs again, and she parted them eagerly to give him access, moaning softly as he nuzzled at her throat and upper chest while his palm cupped her mound. His penis was against her thigh, hot and smooth and bobbing a bit. She wrapped a hand around the pink shaft, exploring it by touch, to whatever extent she could despite the distraction, and he chuckled low in his throat, hips bucking towards her encouragingly.

“Sorry, Nik, but Mistress wants Jewel,” Flair said from nearby.

Nikandros raised his head. “No she doesn’t. She just wants to make sure I don’t get carried away.”

Flair shrugged. “Mistress told me to come get her.”

“I know.” He let go of Jewel’s waist and used that hand to unwrap her fingers from around his penis. The other hand he brought to his lips, licking them clean. “Mmm, delicious. Tell Min for me that I’m being kind, not cruel.”

“I’ll tell her.”

“Off you go. Go with Flair, Jewel.”

Flair’s arm around Jewel’s waist kept her steady on the way to Mistress’ seat, but once there, she fell to her knees on the floor, shaking, head bowed, while Flair faithfully passed on Nikandros’ message.

She knew it was Mistress’ hand that stroked her hair, nothing sexual in the touch, only gentleness. “Poor dear. You’re having a tough time accepting this, aren’t you? You might not believe it, but Henry and Nik both intend only the best for you. It’s your choice to make, though. If resisting everything lets you make peace with yourself, that’s up to you.”

“Please don’t make me do this. Something else.” She didn’t know she was going to say it until it was out. Only a whisper, but she couldn’t un-say it. She bit her lip, eyes low.

“That isn’t how it works. I can make you forget anything outside here for the duration, if you want, with no long-term harm…”

Jillian shook her head. That wasn’t just a loss of control, that was being unaware even that she’d had any control to lose. It was just too terrifying an idea. “No, Mistress. Please don’t.”

“I wouldn’t unless you asked, dear. Take a few minutes, go get yourself a drink, and remember what I said about keeping your blood sugar stable. Don’t be so long I have to send Flair to find you.”

“Yes, Mistress.” Shakily, she got to her feet, stumbling a bit.

“Hm. Flair, I think you’d best make sure she makes it as far as the kitchen.”

Flair stayed at her side attentively out and around to the kitchen, and urged her to one of the stools, and got Jewel a glass of fruit juice.

“What’s wrong, anyway? They’re only playing.” Flair perched on the stool beside her, a hand on her shoulder. She’s worried about me, Jewel thought vaguely. And she’s being very patient. And she doesn’t understand at all.

“I don’t… I don’t act like this, or dress like this. I have a boyfriend and he should be the only one to touch me and the only one I should want. I have an office job, it’s boring and predictable and I know the rules except when they change them and it has no future but it pays okay and it’s safe and I can tell people that’s what I do. I have friends like me that I meet for coffee and go shopping with and we fantasize about hunky celebrities and once in a while we maybe think about buying naughty lingerie. I read bestsellers that everyone else reads. I do everything I can to live up to what my parents expect and my boss expects and my boyfriend expects and my friends expect. I work really hard at that. This, all of this, is… it’s… well, it’s not that! And they’re in my head and making me react and making me say things and I don’t know what’s me and what’s them and I don’t know what the rules are or if they’ll play by them or what they can do to me or whether I’ll still be me tomorrow or… or anything.”

Flair listened in silence until she wound down.

Then she hopped off her stool. “Stand up for a second? There.” She wrapped her arms around Jewel and hugged her. Automatically, Jewel returned it, then let herself lean into it. Alien as Flair looked, alien as her skin felt, she was still friendly and sympathetic and supportive.

“Most of that, I have no experience with. I’ve… belonged to fae a really long time. But I’m wondering whether, if it’s such hard work to be something, maybe that isn’t what you naturally are. Like trying to squish yourself into the wrong mould. What I can tell you for sure is that fae always always, no exceptions ever for any reason, always keep to the letter of what they’ve promised. Truth is very important to them, and breaking their word creates un-truth, and when you have the power to redefine reality, that’s unpredictable and dangerous all around. No fae, even the nastiest kind, will ever lie or break their word or change the rules mid-game or any variation on it, and they will always do or give you exactly what they agreed.”

“Truth’s not the same as being honest or straightforward.” When Flair released her, Jewel went back to her stool. She wasn’t sure she could stand right now, and besides, it gave her feet a chance to rest.

“You’re right, it isn’t. They’ll leave things out or phrase things in ways that are ambiguous or look for loopholes in what you say, and yes, they do that all the time. Mistress didn’t tell you exactly what to expect or you wouldn’t be here, but also your brother would probably go to jail. The laws about bargaining with humans are very old and extremely strict and they automatically keep you safe. Mistress added one extra condition and they’ll keep it. Even if any of them wanted to, they could not keep you past the twelve hours, or release you with any injury, or kill you. That would have bad consequences for them much much worse than it could possibly be worth, and I don’t mean prison. Incidental stuff, like Nikandros’ influence, at worst will linger a little but it’ll fade completely in a few days. Okay?”

Mutely, Jewel nodded.

“There are definitely rules, and they keep you safe. Tomorrow, you can be Jillian again instead of Jewel, and if you want to, you can go right back to trying to be what everyone wants. You can pretend you were dreaming or someone put something in your coffee or you had a fever or something. If you ask before the end, Mistress can make you forget all the details, or forget everything about the fae. Then you’ll just know Mistress as a human, and when you visit her and see me in the corner, you won’t remember that I’m looking back and feeling every touch and loving it, and you won’t have to think about bargains or wonder what fae can do. But you have to ask while you still belong to her, or she can’t do it, and she won’t unless you ask. But right now, we have thirteen fae out there and we have a job to do. And no matter how you feel about it, you have to do it, the same way they have to do their side. You do yours, they do theirs, and it’s all good.”

Jewel nodded again.

Flair turned away to get a tray, and began filling and arranging drinking vessels on it. “Or I suppose you could try putting it in perspective. There are fae in the world who would make you pay by deliberately finding ways to terrify you and degrade you. They might never lay a hand on you, but they’d be watching you scream and cry and they’d be loving every minute. There are fae who would make you believe you’re being physically tortured and you’d feel it like it was real, without ever leaving a mark on you. There are fae who wouldn’t bother with Mistress’ no-sex promise and would just drag you into a massive orgy, with or without any influence like Nikandros’ to make you want to. The idea of no permanent harm has a big loophole, there’s no clear definition of psychological damage or PTSD or anything. There are lots and lots of worse things that could be happening to you right now. Maybe it will help if you can think about being grateful this is all.”

“I hadn’t thought about that. It might.” She’d been so caught up in the internal conflict and the strangeness of everything that it hadn’t occurred to her that she might actually be lucky.

“Take your time. Finish your drink, grab a bite to eat, take a spoonful of elixir if you’re feeling tired, drop by the bathroom. You have a few minutes to get your balance back, because Mistress is thoughtful that way. Don’t abuse it, but come back when you’re ready.”

Jewel nodded, yet again. “Thanks. You must think I’m awful.”

“Why would I think that? You think you’re the only person Mistress ever bargained with? Or even the most upset or scared or confused? At least you’re trying to play fair and honour your debt. Not everyone does. Mistress knows that, too.” Flair picked up the tray of drinks. “Dagrun and Sigrun will need refills soon. Maybe when you come back you could take care of that? I can’t with this too.”

“Sure. What are they, anyway? They’re the same size but different.”

“Fire giant and frost giant. Eldthurs and hrimthurs, if you want the old names, although my accent’s terrible. This is about as small as they can make themselves without the effort of passing for human. They’ve been the fae version of a married couple for centuries, like Mistress and Nikandros. See you in a few. You’re going to be okay.”

Mistress and Nikandros were some version of a couple. Nikandros was the husband Min had mentioned in passing but never described, who was supposed to be in BC.

While that seemed particularly bizarre in light of the sexual antics, on another level it did fit the dynamics she’d observed. Maybe sex with humans didn’t count, or sex wasn’t part of their idea of commitment at all. With everything about them so unreal, anything was possible.

“Okay.”

Alone, she tried to take stock. Was she tired? The emotional storm had taken a lot out of her, and the thought of bed wasn’t appealing solely in hopes of pulling the blankets over her head. Her feet were beginning to ache from being confined for so long to a much steeper arch than she was used to and, on top of that, to being on them almost constantly; her leg muscles ached in several spots, all the way up to her hips. Her abdominal muscles weren’t happy about the ongoing constriction, either, although the corset might well be protecting her lower back from strain.

She had another spoonful, a few bites of food, finished her juice, all while trying very hard not to think at all. The elixir did its thing, and the tiredness and the aches faded away. If all of that caught up with her later, she was going to be in serious pain.

The bathroom was next door, and sounded like a good idea.

Well, peeing was easy with no panties in the way, although cleaning up meant having to negotiate with her layers of skirt. It figured: she had time and privacy and could sneak in a quick orgasm, but currently felt too unsettled.

Finished, she faced the mirror wall and her own reflection in it. Mistress was right, that didn’t look at all like Jillian the free human who worked in an office and had a boyfriend. That was Mistress’ pet Jewel.

Who was going to have to tolerate whatever came. No escape.

She could be miserable for the next few hours, and keep struggling, exhausting herself against the cage without accomplishing anything. Or she could give in.

“I like being touched,” she told the mirror out loud. “I like being wanted. I like looking like I do. I like having to obey.”

Her reflection behaved like a good reflection, not doing anything on its own. Oddly, each of those triggered only the mildest of positive hot-or-cold nudges.

“I feel guilty for liking it. But I’m going to try my best not to feel bad about feeling good.” That got a gentle sense of approval. “I’m not going to feel bad about feeling sexy and beautiful, or about liking being the centre of attention, or about enjoying being touched. I’m not going to feel bad about being turned on by any of it. I’m going to obey whatever I’m told, and I’ll let myself like it if I do. I’m not Jillian. I’m Jewel. Jewel’s allowed to like everything without feeling bad. Jillian’s not here. Just Jewel.” Each statement was rewarded. She regarded herself thoughtfully, then cherry-red lips curved into a smile. “It would be a shame and seriously weird if someone looking like that didn’t get lots of attention and lots of people wanting her. And they’re waiting for me.”

She went back to the kitchen first to fill a pair of oversized cups with mead and set them on a tray. Balancing her load with care, she sauntered back to the solar. Just outside the door, she paused briefly, bracing herself. She could do this, right? She could make herself surrender and go with the flow, live up to her side of the bargain properly without any more dramatics or hysterics, and walk away knowing she’d done the honourable thing with no obligations remaining.

Yes, that was exactly what Mistress wanted.

Right. Just surrender and have faith that she was safe.

Mistress wanted that.

Like that was the simplest thing in the world, instead of the hardest.

She took a deep breath, acutely conscious of her corset as she did, and went back into the solar.

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