Sitting with your arms outside of the wagon, but a rope running from your wrists to the inside of the wagon and back up to your upper arms is a very uncomfortable way to sit. The poorly finished wood bites into the skin of your arms, each jostle in the road causing a new abrasion. The fading daylight from the early evening is gone, and all that lights the way now is moonlight. It's enough for the thick mule to pull the cart along, though it doesn't hurt that the cart path is the only path running through the woods at all. Jedd and Shara both sit in the back of the cart with you, though in comparative comfort. Neither of them look like they are about to offer you comfort for your fate.
You look at your feet while waiting for Miss Kelly to come home, hoping she will have calmed down by then. You didn't mean to embarrass her in public. She sent you directly home, while she stayed to smooth things over at the club. Time feels like it is dragging, but a peek at your phone tells you it's been less than an hour. You wipe a tear from your eye as you ruminate on how hurt and upset Mistress is. Hopefully she comes home tonight at all, so you can try to start making it up to her. The night continues to pass excruciatingly slowly, and you wish for nothing more than for it to end. Finally, you hear her keys in the lock, and the door open. Mistress makes her way to the living room, and you see from her expression that trying to explain or excuse yourself would be a bad idea. “Pet,” she says dispassionately, “You need to make a decision tonight.” You nod vigorously; anything for Mistress you think to yourself. “Do you want to stay here, with me? After your display at the club, I am not so sure you actually do.”
With the last dish put away, you have finished your chores early today. Instead of spending the spare time pursuing an interest, you go down to the play room. Mistress has been busy preparing for this evening. You see some custom restraint bars by the bondage bench; they look like they have eyelets for small locks to run through, but these extend out from the metal a couple inches each. Off in the corner though is the star of tonight. A small portable forge sits heating a branding iron. Giggling with excitement, you sit on the bench and think about how tonight will go. You expect it will be painful, but even that idea doesn't help you to sit still. There aren't many ways to more resolutely prove your dedication to Mistress than letting Her brand you. With a good twenty minutes to yourself, you decide to spend them waiting here. Mistress has warned you that you must stay perfectly still, so you close your eyes and think about trying to keep yourself calm.
You sigh in exhaustion and wipe the sweat from your brow, before you is a dark cavern. The locals warned you that it was dangerous to go into the mountain, and that you should stay on the trails. Many people have entered the mountain, but you've never heard of anyone returning. You can't decide if that's a sign that the caves are dangerous or if there is something that the village that the base of the mountain would rather you not find. You hope that whatever is in there is valuable, and that you can carry it back out. It takes you a moment to dig your tinderbox from the depths of the leather pack you carry with you. You put the small box on the ground and return to the pack, now looking for the pouch of pitch. The small lined pouch slipped to the very bottom of the pack, forcing you to dig out your rations and the oilcloth you carry for your sword. The rest of the items go back into the pack while you look at the thin evergreens that dot the land. One of the trees near you has a branch thick enough to make a tolerable torch. The green pine will smoke more than you would prefer, but at least it's fresh and won't just burn to ash in minutes.
Warning, readers have found this story to trigger flashbacks around parental trauma; Please read it at your discretion.
You roll onto your side, waking yourself up. Pressing the button on your clock you see it's just after midnight. They should both be asleep by now, but you want to make sure. slipping on jeans, you quietly open your door. No lights on from their room. Walking quietly, you slink to the kitchen and pull a very small cup of water from the tap. Your throat is parched from worry, and you want to hurry back to your room. Tip-toeing back to your room, you see the light remains off. The fans in your computer spin up almost silently, but still far too loud for your preference. Seconds later they rev down to idle speeds and the dim glow of your monitor bathes half of your room. A couple passwords and double clicks later, everything starts to feel better in the world. 'hey bby was missin u,' a smile crosses your face and your heart flutters; everything is better for a little while. 'Sorry, wanted to make sure they were both asleep. Dad knows two of my classes are labs this semester and he just got upset last time I told him I was working on homework.'
You sit at the bar, and nurse a drink. Someone told you about this club while you were working. Now that you think about it, you aren't sure you remember if it was a coworker or a customer. It was some weeks ago now and you had to struggle to just remember how to get here. You were sure that the bus out to the industrial side of town was the wrong one. The only reason you even got off was that the stop had street lights. You followed the line of lights and found the club, tucked into an old warehouse. The bouncer had eyeballed you, and thought for a moment before waving you in. She was obviously torn on if you belonged on the inside or not. You were supposed to be able to have your wildest dreams fulfilled here, and while the clientèle is eclectic, you aren't sure what or who it is you actually want. The last hour, you've watched the shows and seen people come and go from the club. Someone even approached you, a beautiful woman, with brown hair down to her shoulders, and thick thighs that could break a neck.
You sit back and look at your reflection in the mirror. No fly aways, and you are getting faster at the makeup Ma'am insists that you wear while you are at work. Your closet has a week's worth of uniforms and the short skirt built into the bodice doesn't feel as revealing as it did when you started cleaning for Ma'am a few weeks ago. The white panties are just as tight feeling and the fabric pushes your girlybits forward. The small dresser in the back of the closet holds your stockings, garters and the fingerless mesh gloves that you do most of your work in.
You sit back in your chair as the small pill dissolves under your tongue, and think how fast last year has passed. Starting hormones and meeting so many cool people, people who somehow knew this was your first anniversary on hormones, friends that care that much about you, and keep track. They even said they were going to throw you a party tonight! You spin on your chair to face the closet, then rise and walk to the closet door, opening it before digging through the hangers. Several black band shirts from bands you never really listened to still occupy one end of the closet. Solid colored tops and jeans slide past your view as you pull each item to the middle before dismissing it to the far end, to join the old shirts you haven't tossed out yet, for some reason. A gray and green patterned top catches your eye; that one gets pulled out and tossed to the bed. A black mid-length skirt soon follows, before a blue dress catches your eye.
A bead of sweat drips down your forehead into your eye. Groaning, you wipe it away, like you have been all day. The deep forest was significantly thicker and deeper than you had expected. Even though the sun almost never reaches the ground, almost all of your journey has been a hot sweaty slog. You ran out of food two days ago, and now as you upend your waterskin, you find you are out of water too. That realization makes you slump forward in despair. You haven't seen anything even as substantial as a stream in days.
Your phone buzzes with a new text message. You know from the pattern that it's Adrienne messaging you from thirty feet away again. You read the message after logging into your phone: 'Hey love, I finally finished it! You should come soon!' She must have finished another of her devices she is always tinkering with. Leaning back in your chair, you think about a response for a moment then send 'You mean I should come down to the basement?'