host to a quiet discussion of the results of Susie's
hacking. Jane stated that Korsak and brother Frankie, back
in Boston, would let them know as soon as they learned anything
about the mysterious purchaser of Giselle and Kate's surplus
rope. She'd follow up with them in a few hours if they
didn't contact her first. In the meanwhile, they agreed
there was no recourse but to simply continue going to class and
keep their eyes and ears open. At some point they'd have
to put their cards on the table with Mistress and Kate and start
asking pointed questions, but now was not the time.
Investigative matters aside, there was an undercurrent of
tension as the four friends dined together—and it was clear to
all that Ainsley had been fully accepted as both a colleague and
friend.. The atmosphere was friendly, even cheerful, but
there was a palpable undercurrent of... something.
Whatever it was, it went both unacknowledged and
For Jane and Maura, "it" was Jane—bound, gagged, naked, and
helpless—with Penny-the-pixie-masseuse running her oily hands
all over her body while Maura watched, eyes sparkling, cheeks
dimpled, and lips curled in one of her patented Dr. Smartypants,
For Ainsley and Susie, "it" was Susie waiting an extra half hour
to free Ainsley from their homework assignment. Not to
mention the fact that for Susie, "any way she wanted" had turned
out to mean binding Ainsley with three coils of rope in
a bow-like hogtie, with crotch-rope, gagging her, and adding a
totally unnecessary blindfold.
None of any of that was mentioned, much less discussed.
Susie's hacking, yes. Jane's bondage massage, no.
Ainsley's hogtied overtime, no.
Breakfast over, the students made their repressed but amicable
way to the Meditation Lodge and the course quite literally took
off. The topic of the day was suspension.
For the first time, the students weren't bound in any way.
On the first day of class, being tied to posts had focused their
minds on Mistress' instruction. Now, by day four, not
being bound accomplished the same goal.
Also focusing their attention was Kate. She was standing
on her right foot, her arms and upper body were bound in a
stringent and elaborate reverse-prayer box-tie, and her left leg
was bent at the knee and the rope from limb-loop wrapped around
her ankle stretched up to a large steel ring dangling from a
rope and pulley near the ceiling. A second rope linked the
back of the box-tie to the same ring. Finally, her long,
blond hair was gather in a tight ponytail, wrapped in a third
rope, linked to the overhead ring, and the same rope cleaved her
mouth with multiple strands. All the ropes running through
the ring were taut as the proverbial fiddle strings with the
excess free ends neatly and elegantly wrapped and knotted, as
was always the case with properly executed Shibari, as
was always the case when it was Mistress doing the binding.
Kate wasn't going anywhere. She was free to squirm and to
kick with her left leg or to go up on the toes of her left foot,
but that was all that Mistress' ropes allowed. But as
always while serving as Mistress' training aid, the captive's
eyes were closed, her breathing was slow and even, and she gave
every indication that her mind was calm and relaxed.
Also as always, Mistress' first concern was safety, so what
followed was a lecture on Suspension Trauma or Harness Hang
Syndrome. Hanging in a climbing harness or Shibari ropes,
no matter how well applied, could cause blood to pool and
gradually become toxic, and the sudden release of the pooled
blood could be very dangerous. For example, unconscious
mountain climbers who hung in their harnesses and ropes for
extended periods and were then rescued could suffer fatal kidney
damage or heart attacks unless the proper precautions were
taken. Mistress emphasized that such "Rescue Death" was
the result of extreme circumstances, constrictive
suspension for hours and hours. The danger should be understood,
but elementary precautions eliminated the threat. At the
first sign of nausea, fainting, or distress, the bound subject
should be released, and this was a hard and fast rule.
The students were walking slow circles around Kate's
semi-suspended body as Mistress talked.
Jane frowned. "Uh... what's the difference between passing
out and meditating?"
"Mistress," Maura whispered in a warning tone.
Jane favored her BFF with an unamused stare, then
continued. "What's the difference, Mistress?"
Mistress smiled. "I assume that by this point in the
course, Jane, you are inquiring about differences between the appearance
of meditation and the symptoms of unconsciousness."
"Yes, Mistress," Jane confirmed.
"Before I address that," Mistress said, "remember that it is the
binder's responsibility to protect and ensure the safety of the
meditating subject, but it is also the subject's
responsibility to be aware of her physiological state and assist
the binder, as necessary. Communication is essential."
Maura was gazing at Kate's body, deep in thought.
"Orthostatic Syndrome usually has a very sudden onset, but there
are warning signs that can be communicated."
"Ortho what?" Jane muttered.
"Orthostatic syndrome," Susie answered, "like when sometimes a
soldier who's been standing at attention for a long time
Mistress was gazing at Maura and Susie. "Yes," she
agreed. "Also..." She gestured at Kate's hair and
gag-ropes, tracing them with her right index finger.
"Supporting the head in a manner that prevents all motion is a
technique for advanced practitioners. I've used it in this
instance for the added drama. However, in answer to your
original question, Jane, if Kate's head was unsupported and it
suddenly dropped, I would take that as a sign that she had lost
consciousness and was not meditating. I would, of
course, release her immediately."
Jane nodded. "I see, Mistress."
"Now," Mistress continued, pointing to a stack of neatly bundled
rope coils off to one side. "I'd like you to bind one of
your number, duplicating the techniques I've employed with Kate,
with the exception of the hair and gag rope."
Jane gazed at the waiting rope. "Uh, who... Mistress?"
Mistress smiled. "Ah, a volunteer. Thank you, Jane."
Jane's eyes widened and her fellow students laughed. She
watched as Maura, Susie, and Ainsley descended on the rope and
began readying coils for use. Jane heaved a sigh. I
guess I'm teacher's pet, she thought.
|SKIN IN THE GAME
First came the rest of the morning class, of course, during
which Jane was, indeed, bound in the same manner as Kate and
Mistress continued her lecture. And all the while, or at
least at frequent intervals, Mistress and one or more of the
students manually examined the ropes linking Jane to the second
overhead ring that enforced her semi-suspension. And
examination, of course, meant tracing the path of Jane's bondage
by sliding their hands across the bands of conditioned rope and
the adjacent skin.
Mistress continued lecturing about the negative effects of
improperly applied or excessively prolonged constriction on the
various muscle groups, joints, tendons, nerve junctions, and
major veins and arteries. This required more use of Jane
as a hands-on teaching aid. By the time the morning class
ended, very little of Jane's anatomy had not been
fondled and examined by Maura, Susie, Ainsley, and Mistress.
At least Ainsley had the common courtesy to at least act
a little embarrassed by the instructional intimacy.
Susie had grinned from ear to ear the entire time, all the while
treating Jane like some sort of classroom prop, which she was,
of course, But still...
And as for Maura, Jane couldn't be sure, but she believed that
fully half the time she'd felt a pair of smooth, soft hands
gliding over some part of her bound or unbound anatomy,
they'd belonged to Dr. Smartypants. It was infuriating.
That was it, infuriating. There was no other
explanation for the delicate shivers her BFF's caresses sent
running through her helpless, semi-suspended body. Jane
was quaking with indignation and experiencing, uh, angry
goosebumps. That was it, angry goosebumps!
There certainly wasn't any other explanation for her barely
controlled reactions. And the same went for her burning
cheeks and pointing nipples. Yes, Jane was angry...
Jane managed to calm down by the time the ubiquitous,
class-ending hour of meditation rolled around. She even
managed to actually meditate for the last several minutes.
Then, Jane was untied, class was dismissed, and lunch happened.
Jane sat next to her naked, smiling, laughing, chattering BFF
and ate in near silence while the others conversed. The
meditation had helped, but she was still... angry... or
something... just a little.
|SKIN IN THE GAME
class involved all of the students except Jane being bound in
various manners and suspended from the Lodge ceiling.
Jane's role was to act as Kate's assistant while she did the
actual binding. Mistress supervised. This was also
Jane's opportunity to manually examine the bonds of her
classmates, her chance to slide her hands over Maura, Susie, and
Ainsley's bonds (and helpless bodies). Academically, it
was Mistress making up for what Jane had missed that
morning. But for Jane, it was her chance to show her
fellow students exactly what it felt like to be a teaching aid.
Actually, Jane controlled herself and did not gloat as
she caressed the ropes binding her friends and her palms and
fingers inevitably slid across their adjacent skin. That
was especially true in the case of Maura, who received the
majority of her attention. She did not gloat as
she gave her BFF's bondage a very thorough
examination. Jane noticed that Maura's smile was a little
forced and her overall demeanor suggested a degree of
nervousness. Jane had a lot of experience gauging Maura's
Revenge was sweet, but strangely, for Jane found it was not
As the end of class approached, Jane realized she was wound up
like the proverbial spring The meditation period was the
most difficult to date and she never managed to achieve a true
meditative state. Jane just sat there with her half-closed
eyes and focused on her still bound and suspended fellow
students. Finally, "meditation" over, she helped Kate and
Mistress release the others and class was dismissed.
Dinner was tense. That is, Jane was tense.
She wasn't sure what she was eating, she'd let Ainsley order for
her, and didn't really care. The others were as relaxed
and at ease as ever and chatted as they ate, but not Jane.
She chewed and swallowed her food in near silence.
Maura continued to be her bubbly, know-it-all self, but Jane was
sure Maura knew that she was getting to her. Jane
was doing a masterful job of totally concealing
her feelings, of course, but she suspected Maura knew.
Finally, the meal over. The students took an evening
stroll along the river, then returned to their cabins to tackle
The assignment was for whichever student's turn it was to feel
the embrace of the ropes to complete her evening toilette.
Her cabin-mate would then tie her to her bed, The point of
the exercise was to explore the element of time. The
bindee was to remain bound through the entire night, so the
emphasis was on safety and simple rope-work, but the exact
manner of the bondage was left up to the second student.
In cabin seventeen, of course, that meant Jane would do the
binding and Maura would spend the night lashed to her bed.
"Okay, I'm ready," Maura announced as she emerged from the
bathroom, her eyes sparkling and smiling her usual dimpled
"About time," Jane muttered. She had no legitimate reason
to be grumpy. Maura hadn't dawdled and there was no reason
to rush, but she wanted to get on with things.
Still smiling, Maura strolled into her bedroom and reclined on
the bed. Jane already had four coils of Homework Rope
ready for use, and she soon had Maura spreadeagled on her back
with her arms and legs splayed and was lashed in place.
Jane used the limb-loop technique, but took several extra turns
to capture Maura's wrists and ankles in wide, neat bands of rope
for added security and comfort. Maura could tug and kick
as vigorously as she wanted and for as long as she wanted
without incurring rope-burns.
Jane pulled the ropes from each limb taut, wrapped each around
the appropriate bedpost, and tied the key knot down near the
floor. As a result, Maura's naked body formed a taut "X"
atop her still neatly made bed. She had some
wiggle room, but not a great deal.
Jane took a step back and smiled a very satisfied
smile. "I think that'll hold you," she purred, gazing down
at Maura's stretched limbs, naked body... boobs... flat tummy...
pubic bush... strong thighs... shapely feet... etc., etc.
Maura tugged on her bonds and fluttered her fingers, trying and
failing to examine the ropes binding her wrists. She could
touch and even grasp the ropes linking her wrist bonds to the
headboard posts, but there was no knots to untie and it was
obvious that no attempted manipulation would produce slack and
allow her to extract her hands. Surrendering to the
inevitable, Maura stopped struggling and locked eyes with her
BFF and fellow student. Her smile never wavered.
Jane smiled at her naked prisoner.
Maura smiled at her naked captor.
Just then, there was a knock at the cabin door.
"Right on time," Jane chuckled, turned, and left the bedroom.
"Jane?" Maura called after her. "Who is it?" She had
a pretty good idea of the answer, but asked anyway.
Jane smiled but kept silent. Halfway to the door her
iPhone's ringtone sounded and she made a side trip to pick it
up. It was Detective Sergeant Korsak, calling from
Boston. "Hey, Vince," Jane said as she continued to the
cabin door. "Hold on a second, okay?"
"Sure thing, Jane," Korsak's voice answered.
Jane opened the door and found Penny waiting, burdened with the
usual towels, massage oil, and rolled mat. The brunette
pixie smiled and started to enter the cabin, but Jane blocked
her way. The tall American also used her free hand to
relieve the mildly confused little Canadian of her bottle of
oil. "You got more?" Jane asked.
"Good," Jane said with a smile. "You know Susie and
Penny nodded. "Cabin fifteen."
"The massage is for them," Jane explained. "Bye."
Then, the door more or less slammed in Penny's face.
"Okay," Penny said to the closed portal. "Cabin fifteen
it is." She spun on her heel to return to the Main Lodge
for a new bottle of massage oil.
|SKIN IN THE GAME
Jane said into the phone as she strolled back to the bedroom,
"What ya got?"
"What I've got is a closed case," Korsak chuckled, "or Burglary
Jane smiled. "The Mystic Avenue address was a good lead?"
"The mother lode," Korsak confirmed.
"Who is it?" Maura asked from the bed. "And who was at the
"Maura's here," Jane said. "I'm putting you on
speaker." She tapped the iPhone's screen and placed it on
the mattress about a foot from Maura's right armpit.
"Hello, Dr. Isles," Korsak said.
"Hello, Sergeant," Maura replied. Her eyes widened a
little and her smile faded as she watched Jane pop the cap on
the bottle and pour a dollop of the clear oil onto her left
"You were telling me that lead about the secondhand rope payed
off," Jane said. Eyes locked with Maura, she placed the
open bottle on the night-stand and began rubbing her hands
"It did," Korsak confirmed. "Burglary sent a team to the
address and found a boutique specializing in erotic toys.
The owner cooperated and they established the identity of the
purchaser of the surplus rope as one Rona Bieser."
"Rap sheet?" Jane asked. She was still kneading her hands
and smiling at Maura.
"B-and-E arrests all the way back to juvie," Korsak confirmed,
"but only one conviction. She did a nickle at
Farmingham. Anyway, they went to her last known, knocked
on the door, and she bolted."
"But she didn't get far, of course," Jane said.
"Of course," Korsak chuckled. "And they didn't even have
to wait for a warrant to search her place. Loot from the
latest robbery was in plain sight. She's singing like a
"Is there any evidence pointing back to Giselle Pierson or Kate
Harris?" Maura asked.
"Your rope-happy Canadian friends?" Korsak chuckled.
"Nothing. Bieser says she was working entirely on her
own. Burglary will follow through, but right now it looks
like the link to the Boston spas is nothing but a coincidence."
"Coincidence," Jane muttered.
"I know, Jane," Korsack said, "but it happens. What does
your gut tell you about Pierson and Harris?"
Jane smiled. "My gut? My gut says they didn't have anything
to do with the robberies." She placed her oily hands on
Maura's abdomen and began it gentle, deep massage.
"What about your gut, Maura?"
"Ah!" Maura gasped, her eyes locked with Jane's.
"What was that, Dr. Isles?" Korsak asked.
"N-nothing," Maura answered. "I agree with Jane."
She stared at her smiling BFF. It was both a plea and a
Jane continued her massage with a wolfish grin, her hands
gliding over Maura's stomach. "Anything else?" she
asked. Obviously, the question was for Korsak.
"No," Korsak responded. "Enjoy the rest of your
"Vacation," Jane corrected her Sergeant. "It's a
vacation. Thanks for the good news. Burglary owes us
"They do, indeed," Korsak agreed. "Goodbye, Jane.
Goodbye Dr. Isles."
"Bye, Vince," Jane answered, then clutched Maura's breasts and
"Ahh-g-goodbye, S-sergeant!" Maura managed.
Still grinning, Jane tapped the iPhone with one oily finger,
then gingerly transferred it to the nigh-stand.
"You dirty rat," Maura accused, then gasped again as Jane began
massaging her breasts. Her nipples were now fully at
attention, as, she noticed, were Jane's.
"Dirty rat?" Jane purred. "Not 'begrimed rodent' or
"Jane," Maura sighed. Jane's hands continued gently
squeezing her breasts, as well as taking sidetrips to glide
along her ribs. Maura quivered and tugged on her bonds in
"At a loss for words?" Jane teased. "That's a
first." Jane was enjoying her revenge. Okay,
'revenge' was a bit strong, but she was enjoying showing Dr.
Smartypants what it was like to have someone running their hands
over her helpless body for a change. She continued
her massage, replenishing the oil as required. Her hands
roamed over Maura's shoulders, breasts, ribs, breasts, abdomen,
breasts... Apparently, Maura's breasts required a great
deal of attention.
And then, everything changed.
"Kiss me, Jane," Maura sighed.
Jane's eyes popped wide and her hands froze in place (the place
in question being Maura's breasts). "What did you say?"
"Kiss me," Maura repeated.
"I..." Jane stared at her spreadeagled, nude, shining
BFF. Then, she leaned close and granted Maura's wish.
It started out as a simple kiss, but soon their lips were
smacking and tongues probing and the kiss went on and on.
Jane was now fully on the bed and lying against Maura's
side. Even as they kissed, her hands continued sliding
along Maura's body.
They came up for air, but Jane continued her oily exploration of
her BFF's slowly writhing, helpless form. "I don't know
why I'm doing this," she confessed in a whisper.
"Because I asked you to?" Maura suggested.
"No," Jane responded, "I mean yes, I mean..." The kiss
resumed. It was as if a floodgate had opened. All of
Jane's "anger" and frustration poured out and magically morphed
into love and affection for her precious, irritating, wonderful,
They came up for air, again.
"Maybe it's the place," Jane mused aloud.
"Canada?" Maura asked with a teasing smile.
"Yes, Canada," Jane said dryly, "or maybe it's the nudity and
the ropes and... stuff."
Maura grinned. "My money is on stuff," she chortled.
Jane's smile became rather coy, and her right hand slid down
Maura's stomach. "Do you remember Mistress' lecture on
erotic stimulation as a impediment to meditation?"
"I remember all of Mistress' lectures," Maura replied.
"Of course you do," Jane chuckled, rolling her eyes. Now
her hand was gliding between Maura's navel and the upper margin
of her pubic bush.
"Anyway," Maura said primly, "now is hardly the time for medi—ahh!"
Jane's hand was now gliding between her legs and a thrill
shivered through Maura's entire body. She tugged on her
bonds and froze as Jane began a gentle massage of her labia.
"Meditation is the last thing I have in mind," Jane purred.
"J-Jane?" Maura whispered. "What does this mean?"
Jane kissed Maura's lips, all the while continuing her slow,
gentle massage. "It means nothing." She kissed
Maura, again. "It means everything." She extended
her middle finger and it slid between Maura's labia and rubbed
against the gasping, wiggling captive's clitoris.
"Besides," Jane continued, "what happens at the Moon River
Colony, stays at the Moon River Colony."
Before Maura could correct her BFF (and now lover) and remind
her that that particular aphorism applied to Las Vegas, Jane's
tongue was back in her mouth and her lips were sucking Maura's
lips. And now that glorious hand was frigging her
|SKIN IN THE GAME
responded to the knock on the cabin door to find a diminutive,
fair-skinned brunette with a devilishly cute, lopsided grin on
her pixie face. She was holding a stack of towels and a
brand new plastic bottle of massage oil with a rolled mat under
"Hi, Jane sent me," the pixie said, then sauntered past Ainsley
and into the cabin.
"Uh, by all means, come in," Ainsley muttered. "Jane sent
you for what?"
"Massage," the newcomer said.
Ainsley raised a skeptical eyebrow. "Massage." It
was a statement, not a question.
"Actually," the pixie chuckled, "massages. Plural.
Like I said, Jane sent me. I'm Penny."
Ainsley smiled. "Ainsley."
Penny gave the blonde customer before her an appraising
look. "You don't look like a cop," she said, "but then,
neither does Jane."
Ainsley managed to control her surprise. "What makes you
think I'm with the police?"
"Oh please," Penny chortled as she deposited her mat, towel, and
bottle of oil on one of the common room's easy chairs.
"The entire Colony knows about you guys. We were tipped
off that you were coming and Maura paid for everything with a
credit card. Betsy, one of the admin staff, Googled 'Maura
Isles' and a whole bunch of hits popped, some of which included
Jane. Did you know Jane got a medal for valor for being
shot while apprehending a dirty cop? Also, Maura has a
mobster father and was framed for murder a couple of years ago,
but Jane found the real murder and saved her. It's all in
the Boston Globe online. Fascinating reading."
"I see," Ainsley sighed. Obviously, the spa's powerful
patrons had done more than just warning them to stay away.
"Don't worry," Penny continued. "Nobody cares. We
all know Zelle and Kate. They're straight arrows.
Zelle's a little standoffish, but she's not a cat
burglar, and neither is Kate. They're cool with it too, by
"Giselle and Kate know we're undercover?" Ainsley asked with a
rather weak and embarrassed smile.
"Oh yeah," Penny confirmed. "Now, where's
CSI-Susie? Unless you'd rather go first."
Ainsley heaved an exasperated sigh. "Susie's in her
bedroom." Her smile returned. "She's tied up at the
"Oh, goodie!" Penny grinned, then grabbed a towel and the oil
bottle. "Show me."
Still smiling, Ainsley led the way to Susie's bedroom.
"Hi, I'm Penny," Penny said as she entered the bedroom, "and
I'll be your..." Eyes wide, her voice trailed off to
shocked silence. She turned to Ainsley, who had remained
in the doorway. "Isn't this the homework assignment with
the all-nighter?" Penny demanded.
"I see you know the course," Ainsley noted with a smile, then
nodded at Susie. "She insisted."
Penny turned back to the bed. Susie was on her back, arms
folded behind her back and arms pinned to her sides in a
box-tie, and with a series of ladder-tie hitches binding her
legs together from ankles to thighs. Additional ropes
lashed her to the bed, threaded through her bonds and tied to
the bedposts and side rails.
"Simple is boring," Susie said. "You were saying
Penny was still staring at Susie's abundantly roped and utterly
helpless naked body. "Massage," she muttered. "I'm
"Jane sent her," Ainsley explained.
"How very nice," Susie said. "All this rope won't get in
your way, will it?"
Penny shook her head. She seemed to have regained her
composure. "No, I'm used to this sort of thing when
Zelle's holding one of her classes."
"Excellent!" Susie said, wiggling her bound body with
"Yeah, excellent," Ainsley chuckled. "Now, if you'll
excuse me, while Penny runs her oily hands all over your body, I
have to make a phone call." Without waiting for a reply
she turned and made her exit, went into her bedroom, picked up
her smartphone, and placed a call to Jane.
The phone rang... and rang... then rang some more. Ainsley
was afraid it was going to go to voice-mail, but Jane finally
"Hi, Jane," Ainsley said. "I have some troubling
news. Our cover is blown and—"
"Good," Jane interrupted. "I have news too. Talk to
you at breakfast. Gotta go. Bye." And with
that, she terminated the call.
Ainsley stared at the phone in her hand. "Good?" She
shook her head as she put down the phone. "Americans can
be so strange," she muttered under her breath, then turned and
headed back to Susie's room to watch Penny give her fellow
student a bondage massage. She certainly didn't have
anything better to do.
|SKIN IN THE GAME