The Wager
The Wager

by Van ©2015

Chapter 6

Dramatis Personæ


Just about all of Alicia's experience with being bound and gagged was from the immediate past, meaning this very "free" vacation at Mistress Lynda's spa and slave-dungeon, but this was a new high... or low... or whatever.

Naked, her arms behind her back and bound in (appropriately enough) an armbinder, her ankles hobbled eight inches apart by leather cuffs joined by a leather strap, a tight leather panel-gag with a humongous rubber plug filling her mouth, and finally, a steel slave-collar locked around her neck and nervously strolling along on her bare feet at the end of a pet leash, Alicia was being led to what she'd been promised would be a terrifying ordeal.

Mistress Lynda was as beautiful as ever, of course, but as Alicia watched her lead the way, she couldn't help but think of her as also... sinister.  Not evil villainess sinister, but mistress sinister.  It was a silly thought.  Of course Lynda was mistress sinister, but Alicia was so nervous (and, confusingly enough, aroused) that all sorts of thoughts were flashing through her mind.  Strappado?  Full suspension?  Ball-tie?  The whip?  No, it couldn't be flagellation, or at least not only flagellation.  She'd been promised Predicament Bondage.  Flagellation might be icing on the proverbial cake, but the ordeal would be something else.

And then, they arrived at the library/lounge with the two Kilborn sculptures, and midway between the bronze damsels was a stand of some sort.  From the way it pressed into the carpet, its base looked to be quite heavy.  There was a vertical steel post that terminated in a large, more-or-less anatomically correct phallus of black rubber studded with silver and copper studs!  Attached to the post was a small metal box on the end of a eight- or ten-inch horizontal rod, and attached to the box was a three-foot vertical rod, and—The Bishop!

Alicia froze in place, causing Lynda's leash to snap taut.  Her eyes popped wide above her gag, rather frantic butterflies began fluttering in her stomach, and a chill rippled up and down her spine.  Alicia had realized exactly what she was staring at.

There exists a well known, even classic illustration by the tragically late artist Robert Bishop of a damsel-in-distress much like Alicia in appearance.  She straddles an apparatus virtually identical to what Alicia saw before her, with the phallus inside her vagina.  Clover-clamps capture her nipples, and a thin steel cable stretches from the center of the chain joining the clamps, through a pulley at the top of the second, thinner, vertical rod, then down to a cylindrical steel weight that hovers just above a copper pad on top of the front box.  Electrical wires join the hanging weight to the box and the box to the main pole.  The damsel is up on her toes, with a second and third box under each heel.  More wires were attached to the boxes and the central pole.  Finally, the pole itself is plugged into an electrical socket.

As Alicia remembered the one-page "story" that accompanied the illustration, the phallus was electrified, and the three boxes were switches.  If the dangling weight touched the front box or the damsel's heels tapped either of the rear boxes, a circuit would close and the damsel would receive a punishing electric shock!  And each time one of the switches was triggered, the punishment would intensify by one increment.  For that reason, the damsel was leaning back, as best she could, accepting the bite of the clamps to keep the weight off the front box and was standing on tiptoe, as best she could, so as not to trigger the boxes under her heels.

She was stuck.  All she could do was stand there... and suffer.  Eventually, her feet and calves would tire and her heels would drop, but until then...

"Nrrrrm!"  Alicia shook her head and tugged on Lynda's leash.  No!  Not me!  "Mrrrpfh!

Kimberly had embraced her from behind, as she had in the studio, and Lynda was holding the leash taut and smiling in Alicia's gagged, terrified face.

"I see you recognize my Bishop Stand," Lynda purred.  "I made it as authentic as possible; however I did add a few minor refinements."

Her eyes wet, Alicia continued shaking her head.  "Nrrrrr!"

"Silly slave," Lynda sighed.  "I told you it would be terrifying."  She leaned close and kissed Alicia's forehead.  "Be brave, Alicia," she said.  "Be brave and accept this trial, knowing it will please your mistress."

"Nrrrrm!"  Alicia shook her head, again.  She couldn't help it.

And then, Lynda and Kimberly dragged her towards the stand.

Chapter 6

Has it been an hour?  Alicia wasn't sure.  It felt like an hour... maybe.  It was at least half an hour.

Alicia thought back to the beginning, the beginning of her ongoing, horrible ordeal.

Lynda and Kimberly had little difficulty "installing" Alicia on the Bishop Stand.  She'd tried her best to resist, of course, but other than twist and squirm, there wasn't much she could do to stop them, and Lynda seemed to be enjoying Alicia's displays of distress.  Kimberly had used a small plastic bottle to dribble some sort of lubricant on the phallus, Lynda had lifted her from behind, then eased her down onto the horrible thing while Kimberly leaned close, parted her labia, and guided the initial penetration.  Alicia could feel the metal studs on the phallus, the points where the electrical shocks would be delivered.

The hobbling strap connecting Alicia's ankle cuffs was passed through a large, swing-gate staple mounted to the base of the post, and she was stuck.  She could stand flat-footed without distress, but the phallus was thick and long and was definitely there.  Alicia knew that lifting herself off the thing would be impossible, not with her hobbled feet trapped and without being able to grab hold of something.  But her hobbled feet were trapped, and even ignoring the armbinder, there was nothing to grab.  Also, the staple and strap had help keeping her feet in position.  Wire loops captured Alicia's big toes and pinned them and the pads of her feet to copper pads flush-mounted to the stand's base.  Both the wire loops and the pads were Lynda's enhancements to Bishop's design and added two more points of electrical punishment to the predicament.

And then there were the nipple-clamps.

Lynda had taken her time applying the evil things, and had made it manifestly obvious that she'd enjoyed the process.  Her fingers teased Alicia's nipples to full erection... then closed the metal pads on the stiff nubbins of flesh—first on the left, and then on the right.  Alicia had squirmed in her bonds—carefully, of course, as she was straddling the post and phallus—and mewled through her gag, but Mistress was unmoved.  Alicia suspected Kimberly was at least a little sympathetic, but was also enjoying her fellow slave's distress.

The clamps stung, but not as badly as Alicia had feared.  When the weight on the end of the cable added its torment it would be worse, of course, but the electrical aspect of the evil system was not yet in play.  The weight was still resting on the front box.

Kimberly handed her mistress an iPad and Lynda taped and slid her way through various menus, then smiled at Alicia.  "I'm going to trigger the system, darling, so you can see what it's like."  She patted the screen, and—


Alicia's feet and pussy were jolted by a powerful electrical shock.  Fortunately, it was over nearly as quickly as it began.  It did provide incentive for Alicia to avoid a repeat performance, but like the nipple-clamps, it hadn't been that painful.

"Once I begin the program," Lynda said, "that's what will happen if you let the titty-weight or heel-pads close the circuit."

"Titty-weight," Kimberly giggled.  "That's cute, Mistress."

Lynda favored her blonde helper with an indulgent smile before continuing.  "Each time you close the circuit there will be a two-second pulse followed by a five second pause to let you regain control and lift yourself off the contacts.  Then, the system will reset the punishment scale one increment higher.  Eventually, should you tire to the point that your feet or back should fail you, the system will pulse on and off, continuously."  She swiped the iPad screen, then tapped it again.  "And for safety's sake..."

Alicia heard a whirring noise overhead, looked up, and watched a steel clip on the end of a thin steel cable drop from the ceiling.  Kimberly clipped the cable to a ring in the top of Alicia's armbinder, Lynda tapped the screen, again, and the hidden motor overhead took up the slack.

"If or when you faint or become too exhausted to support yourself," Lynda explained, "the cable will take your weight and prevent you from harming yourself."  She swiped the screen, poised her finger for another tap, then smiled.  "It's time, Alicia.  Up on your toes and arch your back."

Alicia shivered and begged with her eyes.  Please.  No.

"Follow your mistress' orders, slave," Lynda purred, "or would you like a few more circuit tests?"

Reluctantly, Alicia arched her back until the nipple clamps tugged on the cable and lifted the weight off the contact plate on the front box.  At the same time she went up on her toes and Kimberly placed the boxes under her heels.  They had the additional enhancement of magnets to hold them solidly to the base once in position.  "Mrrrf."  Alicia's eyes were wet, again.  the pressure on her nipples was making itself felt.  It hurts.  I don't think I can do this.  The thing was... she had no choice.

Lynda and Kimberly smiled and watched her suffer for several seconds... and then, they did the last thing Alicia expected.  They left!  To watch Lynda and Kimberly settle into easy chairs and enjoy the show?  Perhaps to have Lynda send Kimberly for tea or coffee?  Alicia wouldn't have been surprised if either of those things had happened.  But, to just leave?

That had been some time ago.  At least half an hour... more than half an hour.

Twice since being abandoned to her cruel fate Alicia's concentration had faltered.  Once, she twisted her spine in a vain attempt to find comfort for her aching back muscles and in the process caused the "titty-weight" to tap the contact plate.  The result had been immediate confirmation that the Bishop Stand circuits functioned as advertised.


The second time, Alicia's aching feet and calves had caused her to lose concentration, her left heel tapped its box, and the increased intensity was also confirmed.


Alicia wasn't sure which hurt the worst, her nipples, feet, calves, or back.  She was finding it increasingly difficult to maintain her position.  It wasn't that bad for a few minutes, but for forty-five minutes? hour?  ...forever?

Finally, inevitably, one of her heels touched a box, and—


Instead of delivering the dreaded third level of electrical punishment, the phallus began to vibrate!  Alicia lifted herself back up onto her aching toes—and the vibration stopped.  She eased her heels onto the boxes and let the titty-weight settle onto the front box—and the vibration resumed.

Very funny! Alicia fumed.  Torture the hell out of me, and now this?  It felt good to rest her feet and her throbbing nipples, very good... very, very good, given what was happening between her legs, but this was just... mean!

Alicia let the vibrator buzz... and rested her aching body... and then began to squirm.  She was also sweating, panting through her flaring nostrils, and her clipped but no longer stretched breasts were heaving.  Alicia had been sweating before, but now she was really sweating.

Eventually, inevitably, the phallus brought her to orgasm.  It wasn't the best orgasm she'd ever enjoyed, but it beat the hell out of electrical torture.  Alicia continued panting and sweating... and the vibrator continued buzzing.  Her pussy was now very sensitive, and the vibration was getting to be an ordeal of its own.  Alicia heaved a sigh, then lifted herself off the heel-boxes and arched her back to lift the titty-weight off its box.  The vibration stopped.

So... phase two of Alicia's Predicament, she mused.  I punish my tits and feet, or let the phallus vibrate me to death.  Very funny, Mistress.

Alicia rested her pussy at the expense of punishing her nipples and feet for as long as she could, then carefully settled her heels onto their boxes and leaned forward, easing the titty-weight onto its box and relieving the tug on her sore nipples.

The buzzing returned... and continued... and her hypersensitive pussy was both happy and a little sore.  Eventually, something close to an orgasm rippled through Alicia's shivering body.  She waited for the wave to peak and pass, steeled herself to lift herself off the boxes, once again, opened her eyes—and found Kimberly and Gabby standing in front of her with big grins on their smug faces.

Kimberly was still in her spa uniform of sneakers, shorts, and polo-shirt.  Gabby, on the other hand, was nude, except for a slave collar locked around her neck, which looked like the same heavy model that Alicia was currently wearing.


"Help me get her off the stand," Kimberly ordered.

"If I have to," Gabby said with a shrug.

Hilarious, Alicia fumed.  In short order, her toe clamps were removed, her hobble freed from the base of the post, and the nipple clamps released.  "MRRRP!"  Initially, that was a bad thing, but it quickly changed to a good thing.  Finally, the safety cable was released, Gabby embraced Alicia from behind, and with a surprising display of strength, lifted her off the phallus.

"I suppose we should have warned her about the clamps," Kimberly giggled.

Alicia's nipples were a rather angry shade of pink, and were somewhat flushed.  "Nrrr!"  And it didn't help matters that Kimberly was giving each of them a therapeutic licking and massage.

"I suppose," Gabby agreed.  She was still embracing Alicia's sweaty, bound, gagged, and hobbled body from behind.  "Sorry," she said, and kissed the side of Alicia's neck.

"Nrrr!" Alicia complained, again.

"Let's go," Kimberly said, then led the way to the door.  Her arm around Alicia's waist, Gabby followed, shepherding the tired, sweaty brunette.  The two blondes set a pace that took into account Alicia's hobbled steps.

Chapter 6

Alicia's fellow slaves led her to a part of Lynda's estate she hadn't yet seen.  She caught a glimpse of what might have been the kitchen down a side hall, but mostly they passed a series of closed doors.  They paused while Kimberly unlocked and opened one of those doors, then crossed the threshold and trooped down a set of wooden stairs to what was obviously the basement.  It was unfinished, with dim, barely adequate lighting revealing concrete walls, periodic steel support columns, exposed joists, and plumbing, electrical conduits, and heating ducts running overhead.

The journey continued past stacks of cardboard boxes and old furniture to what was either a large wardrobe or a closed cabinet set against the far wall.  Kimberly did something, Alicia couldn't see what, and the wardrobe rolled to the side, revealing a steel door.  Kimberly tapped a code into its cypher-lock, a click sounded, then she pulled it open.

Beyond was a narrow corridor with poured concrete floor, walls, and ceiling, and with regularly spaced recessed canister lights providing more light than the more widely spaced fixtures in the main basement.

Alicia was amazed.  A secret door leading to a secret basement? ...or is it a secret dungeon?

Kimberly smiled, then crossed the threshold and headed down the corridor.

"You should see your face," Gabby teased, then kissed Alicia's forehead and led her forward.

Alicia was lost.  She wasn't entirely sure if they were still under the footprint of Lynda's residence, or even under the rest of the spa.  They came to a T-junction and corridors stretched to the left and right.  And now there were steel doors on both sides of each corridor.  Kimberly took the left turn and led the way to the third steel door on the right, unlocked and opened the door, made a sweeping gesture, and Gabby led Alicia into the chamber beyond.

The space was square, something like fifteen by fifteen feet.  Make that cubical, Alicia decided, as the ceiling was high and also about fifteen feet.  The floor, walls, and ceiling were poured concrete, like the corridors, and more recessed cans provided the same quite adequate light.  A narrow, horizontal heating and/or cooling register covered with a grid of heavy metal bars was set high on the left wall and a second and similarly barred register low on the right.  All in all, there was nothing remarkable about the space, except...

A steel cage occupied the center of the chamber.  It was also a cube, about eight feet on a side, with thick, gleaming, stainless steel, vertical bars set about six inches apart and solidly braced by horizontal bars about every two feet.  The cage ceiling was similarly barred and braced and the nearest side had a door with hefty hinges and secured by a hi-security padlock.  The floor was covered by a thick pad of unbleached canvas.

Kimberly unlocked the cage door and Gabby led Alicia inside.  Kimberly closed and locked the cage door, then, with a giggle and a friendly wave, said "Later," and exited the chamber, closing and locking that door as well.  Just to be clear, both Alicia and Gabby were locked in the cage—as well as being locked in the subterranean chamber—in Lynda's subterranean dungeon—behind the secret, hidden steel door in her regular basement.  Alicia stared at the closed and locked chamber door, then turned to Gabby.

There was a small rectangular seam in the padding in one corner, and Gabby had knelt and lifted what was now revealed to be a small hatch.  Underneath was an insulated plastic cooler filled with ice, and nestled among the cubes was a bottle of champagne and a single stemmed flute.

Gabby stood, padded to Alicia and turned her around, parted her tousled hair, and unbuckled the three buckles of the panel-gag.  She then returned to the cooler, opened the champagne, and filled the flute.

Meanwhile, Alicia was trying, without success, to expel the gag's plug from her overstuffed mouth.  It was too big, and her jaw was sore, and she just couldn't do it.

The flute in one hand, Gabby plucked the gag from Alicia's mouth.  It departed with an actual pop.  "Poor thing," she cooed as she tossed the gag away, then held the flute for Alicia to drink.

It hadn't really registered with Alicia that she was all that thirsty, what with her many aches and pains and the distraction of being electrically tortured and vibrated to orgasm, then dragged to a secret dungeon.  Her dry mouth and throat hadn't risen past the level of a general complaint.  In any case, the bubbly tasted fantastic, and had the added virtue of being cold and wet.  Gabby let Alicia drain the entire flute, then returned to the cooler and refilled it, took a sip, then turned and regarded her fellow slave and caged prisoner with her trademark saucy grin.

"So," Gabby said after a few seconds, "anything you'd like me to relay to our mistress, like, oh, I don't know, maybe..."  She dropped to her knees and put her hands together around the flute.  "Pleeeeease, Mistress!  Please-please-please-please-please!  I'm not a mistress!  I'm not a mistress!  Take me as your slave!  Pleeeeease take me as your slave!"

Despite her aches and pains, despite everything, Alicia couldn't help but smile.  "Bite me," she huffed.

Gabby's teasing smile returned.  "All in good time.  But first, we need to talk."

Alicia twisted at the waist, rolled her shoulders, and fought the armbinder binding her fingers, hands, and arms, with the expected result.  "Get me out of this thing," she demanded (begged).

Gabby shrugged.  "Sorry, Mistress says no."

"You removed the gag," Alicia noted.

"Yes, I did," Gabby agreed.  "Mistress told me to remove your gag, and specifically not to remove your armbinder."  She pointed at Alicia's feet.  "Or your hobbles.  Your feet are very cute in hobbles, by the way."  She sipped the champagne, again, then stepped forward and let Alicia drink the rest of the contents of the flute.  She returned the empty flute to the cooler and closed the lid, then turned back to face Alicia.  "Mistress also ordered us to talk."  She sat on the mattress-like pad and crossed her legs.

Alicia heaved a sigh, then also sat.  The "cute" hobble and cuffs didn't allow her to cross her legs, so she folded them to one side.
  She stared into Gabby's smiling face—reflected on how nice it was to be locked in a roomy, comfortable cage and not to be tortured on a Bishop Stand—and tried to decide whether to smile or frown.  "Okay, let's talk."

Seconds ticked by.

"So," Gabby said finally, "you realize this 'wager' you've made with Mistress Lynda is the very definition of a sucker bet, right?"

Alicia decided to smile.  "I'm not sure that's correct."

Gabby rolled her eyes.  "Mistress gets to do whatever she wants to you until you admit you're not a budding mistress and beg to be her slave.  If, and by that I mean when, that happens, you'll be her slave.  On the other hand, if you somehow convince Mistress Lynda that you're mistress material, she continues your training; by which I mean she gets to do whatever she wants to you for the indefinite future, treating you like her slave."

Alicia's smile widened.  "You're forgetting.  If I win, I mean when I win, I get to tie her up!"

Gabby rolled her eyes, again.  "You get to tie up Mistress Lynda, if she decides you're a mistress.  And when do you expect her to give you the green light?  Around the end of Hillary Clinton's second term?"

"I think Lynda's word is good," Alicia mumbled.

"That is not the issue, silly slave," Gabby huffed. She climbed to her feet, crossed the two or three feet separating her from Alicia, sat back down, and embraced her from the side.  "I have another question."

Alicia smiled and rested her head on Gabby's right shoulder, then shivered when Alicia reached around from behind and cupped her right breast with her right hand.  "What?"

"Are you crazy?"

Alicia managed not to laugh, just barely.  "Funny you should ask.  I was wondering the same thing."

Gabby's gentle massage continued.  "Are your nipples sore?" she purred.

"Now that you mention it," Alicia sighed, "and you start massaging them."

Gabby released Alicia's breast and her embrace, scrambled on her hands and knees to the hidden cooler, and opened the hatch.  She filled the empty champagne flute with ice cubes, closed the hatch, and shuffled on her knees back to Alicia.

"Hey!" Alicia complained.  Gabby had settled with her back against the cage bars and pulled Alicia close, then made sure she'd stay close by straddling her hips with her legs and crossing her heels over Alicia's tummy.  Alicia's leather-encased arms were now pressed against Gabby's breasts and tummy.  She could wiggle a little, but that was about it.  And then, Gabby gave her a very good reason to wiggle, and she did.  "No!"

"This will make them feel better," Gabby purred.  She was holding the ice-filled flute against Alicia's right nipple, and was rubbing her left nipple with an ice cube.

"What it makes them feel is cold," Alicia complained.

"Also throbbing and erect," Gabby giggled.

"Stop it!" Alicia ordered.  "Stop it now!"

"Maybe you are a mistress," Gabby purred, continuing to rub Alicia's erect nipples with the cold glass and the ice cube.  "Or maybe you're just bossy."

"I'm your mistress, slave," Alicia huffed as she squirmed and shivered.  "Stop it."

Gabby kissed the side of Alicia's neck, but didn't stop her frigid massage.  "What kind of a slave would I be if I didn't do my best to make my mistress' nipples feel better?" she purred.

Alicia couldn't think of a snappy comeback.  Also, the ice did feel pretty good... for the moment.  "Just you wait," she promised in a hoarse whisper.  "Just you wait."

Gabby kissed Alicia's neck, again, switched the flute to her left hand and the ice cube to her right, then resumed her nipple therapy.  "This also works on sore pussies," she whispered in Alicia's ear.  "A little later... I'll show you."

Alicia's smile turned to her own version of a saucy smirk.  She continued shivering and squirming, but didn't answer.

Chapter 6

It turned out that Gabby's ice therapy did work on sore pussies, especially when the owner of the pussy in question is helplessly bound and hobbled and unable to prevent her "therapist" from massaging her labia with rapidly melting ice cubes and then sliding said cubes inside said pussy and letting them finish melting.  This made Alicia's poor pussy too cold, of course, so Gabby rectified the situation with a gentle massage from her warm, wet tongue.

Protests were made, howls yodeled, a crashing multiple orgasm rippled through Alicia's much put upon pussy, and all was well.  The pouting (and smiling) brunette patient even found the strength to return the favor to her blond therapist.  This time ice cubes were not involved, as Alicia's arms remained bound, but her tongue was free, and Gabby was thoughtful enough to aid Alicia's efforts by grabbing a double handful of her hair and guiding her to the optimal position between her splayed legs.

Afterwards, they spooned, as best they could given Alicia's bonds.  They also slept, pausing only to consume the remaining champagne before settling down for a nice nap.

– – – – – – — — — ——— ——— — — — – – – – – –

Alicia came awake to find Gabby unbuckling and releasing the wrist and elbow straps of her armbinder.  She was face down on the canvas pad with her head turned towards the cage door, which she could see was open, with Kimberly standing in the threshold and smiling.  Kim was now as naked as her fellow slaves and was wearing her collar, the same "choker" she'd worn the first time she led Alicia and Gabby to dine with Mistress Lynda.  The slave was clean, including the long, golden, neatly brushed hair framing her smiling face.

Clean did not describe either Alicia or Gabby, especially Alicia.  Also, Alicia was starving!  She hadn't eaten all day, and what with being tortured on the Bishop Stand and boinked by Gabby in the subterranean cage... she could eat.

Gabby finished unbuckling, unlacing, and unzipping the armbinder, then pulled the now sweat-dampened sock-binder from Alicia's arms, helped her sit up, and attacked the buckles of Alicia's hobble.

Alicia managed to remove her black opera gloves, then rolled her shoulders and stretched her arms.  "Eeeyah!"  It felt good to be able to move her arms.  It felt very good.

"Enough coddling,"Kimberly said, clapping her hands.  "We'll be late for dinner."

"I'm already late for dinner," Alicia muttered as Gabby helped her to her feet.

"Actually, you're late for breakfast and lunch," Kimberly giggled.

Alicia could tell Kimberly was teasing, rather than being a little bitch, so she contented herself with a slightly exasperated smile.

"Hey, I missed lunch," Gabby noted as they exited the cage and padded towards the chamber door.

"It's not a contest, silly," Kimberly giggled.  "And if it were, you lost."

"Whatever," Gabby sighed.

Kimberly led the way down the hallway to the secret door, across the basement, up the stairs, and through the estate to the shower room off the gym.  "Chop, chop!" she said, clapping her hands, again.  "Get cleaned up and ready to meet Mistress."

Quick showers, followed by the use of towels and the shared use of the hairdryer and the brush and comb set ensued.  In short order, nude, collared, their hair clean, loose, and shining, and their teeth brushed and light makeup applied, Alicia and Gabby were ready.

Kimberly led the way, with Alicia following and Gabby bringing up the rear.  Their destination was the same garden venue where they'd eaten with Mistress Lynda the night before.

Lynda was waiting, already seated at the low table and sipping a glass of red wine.  She was wearing another of her strapless gowns, this one more-or-less the color of her wine.  Her lustrous brown hair was loose about her bare shoulders and she was absolutely beautiful—about which Alicia could care less.

Alicia's stomach was exercising its hunger-enhanced veto power and directing her attention to the large pan of steaming paella resting on the table.  Saffron-flavored rice, diced green and red peppers, diced onion, flat green beans, sliced plum tomatoes, minced garlic, tomato paste, large shrimp in the shell, clams (also in the shell), either chicken or rabbit meat (or possibly both), chorizo sausage sliced into one inch pieces, and all simmered in chicken stock, sprinkled with fresh herbs, and topped with lemon wedges—paella!  And quite obviously Mistress Lynda's chef knew how to do it right!  Alicia gazed at the large, flat, well-seasoned pan filled with Spanish ambrosia, savored the complex, delicious aroma of the steam wafting from the feast, and idly wondered what the rest of them were planning to eat.

Suddenly, Gabby leaned close and whispered in Alicia's right ear.  "It's rude to ignore your mistress."

Still mesmerized by the waiting food, Alicia blinked in surprise.  "Huh?"

"As I was saying," Lynda chuckled, "please be seated.  Your timing is perfect.  It's just about cool enough to eat."

"Sorry, Mistress," Alicia muttered as she sat on the cushion to Lynda's right.  Gabby say on Mistress' left, and Kimberly sat across the table, next to a low side table with wine glasses and open carafes of red wine.  Alicia's eyes were still on the paella (and her mouth was watering like crazy) but she did have the presence of mind to accept a full glass of wine from Kimberly without spilling it.

"A toast," Lynda said when Gabby and Kimberly also had glasses.  "To friendship, and the courage to face one's true destiny."  They clinked glasses, drank, then Lynda indicated the paella with a smile and a graceful gesture.  "Enjoy."

Alicia did not need to be told twice.  She managed not to wolf down the entire paella, but her first few bites were decidedly enthusiastic.

They dined in the traditional manner, directly from the pan and using their right hands.  They each had a small waste bowl for the shrimp and clam shells, and managed to consume the delicious concoction with minimal muss or fuss.

Conversation was also minimal, which was just as well as far as Alicia was concerned.  She wasn't angry, and she wasn't scared.  Also, she felt no compulsion to complain about her treatment or excoriate Lynda for her "cruelty."  The atmosphere was warm and friendly, and not only did Alicia not want to be a party-pooper, but she wasn't at all sure what she was feeling.

Finally, the pan was virtually empty, all four stomachs were comfortably full, and Kimberly passed around finger bowls of water and small towels.

As they enjoyed the rest of the wine, Alicia decided she was finally ready to speak, and she'd learned in the courtroom and the boardroom that the best defense is, indeed, a good offense.  "So, Mistress," she said to their hostess, "I've passed your test.  Do you admit defeat?"

Lynda smiled, Kimberly giggled, and Gabby almost choked on her wine.

"No, slave," Lynda chuckled, "I do not admit defeat.  Your little sojourn on my Bishop Stand was only your first trial."

Alicia's stomach dropped, despite being full of paella, but she managed to hide her reaction.  "Is that so," she said quietly, then paused to sip her wine.  "So... what comes next?"

Lynda's smile widened.  "Silly slave," she purred.  "That would be telling."

Chapter 6


Chapter 5 Chapter 7