Authors: Alison Tyler
How could she
have given in to
him? How could she not have said, “Yes, please”? Nothing like this had ever
happened to me before.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m no virgin. Maybe that’s difficult to
believe. Someone as shy as I am doesn’t seem like a person who could land a
date, much less a lay. But that’s the thing. You don’t need a lot of bells and
whistles to find a man. I simply hadn’t found the man I needed. My freshman
year, I’d hooked up with a partner in my science class—but we had no true
chemistry. My sophomore year, there’d been a writer I liked from my journalism
class—but ultimately he was yesterday’s news. Jules had always looked to me like
someone I could whisper my fantasies to. The ones that kept me up after normal
people went to sleep.
When you work at a café—when caffeine is freely
accessible—there is no such thing as a normal time to sleep. I’ve grown
accustomed to quietly roaming the apartment late at night, to sitting up in my
window overlooking the lights of the city, to fucking myself with my vibrator
while praying that one day I will find a lover who won’t take my quiet surface
as the end result. Who will understand sometimes the best prizes are the ones
you dig to the bottom of the Cracker Jacks for.
I raised my hips. I let go of the headboard.
“Giving up so soon, Red?” Jules was displeased that I had
broken the rules. His thumb stroked his belt buckle.
Resigned, I reached for the brass once more. My body was
begging for release. I didn’t know how much longer I could hold out. The
imaginary Jules chided me. “Don’t even think about letting go,” he said. “I want
you immobile. I want your pleasure to come at my speed. Don’t make me have to
punish you, Kate.”
“You know what I mean when I say that word, don’t you?”
A shiver. A tremor.
“I can be nice and sweet, Kate. Or I can make all your
filthiest dreams come true.”
I let go of the headboard once more. The fantasy Jules couldn’t
stop me this time.
That word always gets me
off. My fingers slipped underneath the waistband of my knickers. I began to make
those circles that flow as naturally from my fingertips as pictures emerge from
my pencil. My hips beat against my black-and-white comforter. I shivered as the
pleasure began to work through me. Hot, and wet, and stealthy.
This was ideal. The only problem was that I was all by myself.
I twisted on the mattress. My fingers worked harder, faster. I bit my lip to
keep from moaning, even though I was alone in an empty apartment. I felt as if
Jules was really there, watching me.
You cheated, Kate
, the dream Jules
Yeah, but I came
, I replied, as I
rolled over on the bed.
* * *
Sonia arrived home that night repeating the rules for
the debate team. She entered my bedroom without knocking, as usual, and she
proceeded to practice for me.
She was one of the all-star players. Sonia knew how to capture
the audience’s focus. I’d seen her in action often enough. She understood all
the tricks. A good introduction is key. You have to grab the attention and
interest of the audience from the very first line. This comes naturally to
Sonia. She’s a gifted debater. She knows how to state her opinion in a way that
makes you think its fact. But ultimately, it’s not fact. Proof? She gave me the
rundown on her vegan diet with such conviction that I tried my best to follow
her rules—until the tofurkey episode. That ended my vegan lifestyle with a
This is what I’ve learned from her: a debate is a game.
There are always two different sides.
* * *
“A shot in the dark.”
When Jules ordered his coffee the next morning, my hands were
trembling slightly. I wondered if he noticed. Luckily I didn’t spill any of the
precious dark liquid, but I came close. Could he tell that I’d come the previous
night while thinking of him? Jules put money down on the counter, and then he
reached for a napkin. Not a fresh one from the stack, but the one I’d been
drawing on. I hadn’t realized he’d noticed.
“Nice cuffs, Red.”
There were handcuffs in the picture.
Dan stopped going through the tip jar looking for wheat-back
pennies. (He was on a quest for the 1909 S-VDB—I’ve heard about the penny often
enough to have those numbers and letters embroiled in my brain. This particular
wheatback is worth an astonishing $550. “It would make the fact that some
schmuck put a penny into the tip jar so much more satisfying,” he was fond of
saying.) But the word “cuffs” clearly caught his interest. My picture had both
wrists and cuffs.
wrists and cuffs.
“But you got one thing wrong,” Jules said softly, eyebrows
uplifted as he regarded the picture, and then looked at me. “You forgot the
I stared down at the sketch, embarrassed, realizing he was
He leaned across the counter. I could feel how close we were.
“How will anyone set you free if there aren’t any holes for the keys?”
I blushed hot. Dan snickered behind me. I’d never seen a pair
of handcuffs up close before.
Jules left a five-dollar tip in the jar, and he took the napkin
with him. “Do a little research,” he said over his shoulder.
* * *
I knew where the store was, a dark hole-in-the-wall type
of place. These stores are never well-lit on the outside. You have to push
through the dimness to find the glitter, the neon, the glow. How do I know? I
had to buy my trusty vibrator somewhere. I couldn’t risk having my roommate
opening a delivery box from a kinky specialty catalog. I didn’t know where Sonia
stood on sex toys, but the thought of receiving a lecture on my pleasure wasn’t
something I ever hoped to experience.
Now, I wanted handcuffs. At least, I thought I did.
The shop clerk glanced up at me, gave me a quick once-over with
obvious disinterest then returned to his book. He was reading at the counter,
surrounded by some of the largest dildos I’d ever seen. I stared at him, the
blue spiky hair, inky ribbons of tribal tattoos on his biceps. I tried to look
nonchalant, but there was no way I could pull off a jaded expression. I wanted
to explore everything. I wanted to touch all the toys. I wanted Jules.
“Do you have cuffs?” I asked, working for blasé, but channeling
Minnie Mouse squeaky instead. Minnie Mouse on helium. Only dogs could hear
“Fur-lined? Regulation? Solo use?” He might have been ticking
off different brands of laundry detergent. He sounded so indifferent.
I had no idea handcuffs came in multiple styles. I wished I’d
paid more attention to Sonia’s diary. Had she spelled out what Jules had wanted
to do to her? No, she’d only said “handcuffs.”
“What does ‘solo use’ mean?”
There was suddenly a hint of curiosity in the clerk’s eyes and
he closed his book. His eyes were ringed by dark kohl outlines, smudged and
blurred. “You can’t figure that out for yourself?” He nodded to my sweatshirt
with the University logo on the center. “College girl like you?”
“I mean, how do they work?” I tried to sound like an
investigative reporter. This information wasn’t for me. I was simply gathering
up the facts for a paper on…on…
“Ice in the lock. When the ice melts, the lock opens. You can
be bound down for one hour, two, three. Depending on how much water you add to
the lock, and how long you want to be immobilized.” He appraised me for a
moment. “But I don’t believe you really can’t find anyone to bind you to a bed.”
His apparent attraction was growing by the second.
“How do you know the cuffs are for me?” Could I trot out the
line about the research paper now? Maybe I was doing a term paper on bondage
devices in the twenty-first century. Or on kinky co-eds. Or on sneaky coffee
vixens who read their roommates’ diaries.
“I mean, why wouldn’t you think I wanted to bind someone else
down?” Right, because I have pro-domme written all over my face. Where was this
coming from? Why was I even talking to the guy?
“You have a look,” he said. I thought of Sonia. Men seemed to
had a look. What kind of look did I
have? “Novice, neophyte, ingénue,” he continued, as if reading my mind.
“What’s that you’re reading?” I asked, feeling sarcastic.
“You don’t have to be a college boy to have a big
“Give me all of them,” I said, feeling anger rise inside of me.
“Fur, regulation, solo. I want them all.”
Did I? No. But I didn’t want to walk out of the place
empty-handed, either. The smug expression didn’t leave the clerk’s face as he
rang up my purchases. When he handed me my change, he also handed me a card from
the store. “If you can’t find anyone to do the tying, angel, give me a
I didn’t make it home before I had to come. I pulled over to
the rear of a generic grocery store parking lot and shoved one hand down the
front of my jeans. The need was so intense I didn’t even worry about being
caught. Fuck the foreplay, I crushed my fingers against my clit and rocked my
hips. The pleasure was instant. I felt the wetness all over my fingertips. I
took a deep breath and pressed harder still.
So I had the look of a novice. That wasn’t an insult. It was
the truth. But I could learn. I could be taught. I could walk up to Jules with
the handcuffs in the glistening black Mylar bag and say, “Use these on me. Bind
down. Find out what
have to say.”
What would I have to say?
I couldn’t be sure, but I had a few ideas. I thought I might
say, “Fuck me, Jules. Please fuck me.” Or maybe, “Do me, baby. Oil me up and
take me. Anyway you want. Anyway you like.” I’d never talked like that in my
life, but the thought of the cuffs unlocked a new wave of passion inside me.
A battered blue station wagon pulled next to mine, and I
stopped what I was doing, frozen. Should I pull my hand out of my jeans or stay
still and pretend I didn’t exist? I removed my hand and reached for my satchel,
rummaging through the bag as if looking for something. Something like my
What sort of rabbit hole had I fallen down? I’d walked into a
sex toy store and been offered bondage. I was now in a very public location
fantasizing to images of myself being cuffed by my roommate’s date. A date she’d
. I had to stop. I had to get
myself under control. I had to…
The middle-aged blonde driver of the car in the next spot
locked her car. She had a bad dye job, I thought meanly. And her acid-washed
jeans were too tight. She would never go to a sex toy store and buy three sets
of handcuffs, would she? But was that an insult or praise? I watched in my
rearview mirror as the woman walked toward the grocery store. I relaxed and
immediately slid my hand back down my jeans. I didn’t care if I was stroking
myself to fantasies about Sonia’s sex life. She didn’t deserve a man as hot as
I squeezed my eyes shut tight and thought about the handcuffs.
Thought about Jules. Wondered what he’d say if I showed up at his apartment with
all three sets in the bag and asked, “Which one is right? Which one do you
The problem with my fantasies was that I didn’t know Jules’s
dialogue. I had to put words in his mouth. But I could do that.
“Let’s try each one,” the fantasy Jules said. “We’ll start with
the steel. Cold metal on your skin. We’ll bind you down, and then we’ll see. I
want to watch you come, Kate. I want to see your body change.”
Oh, fuck, I wanted that, too.
“And then we’ll try the ice lock,” he continued. “I’ll do my
work in the other room, leave you all by yourself with your own dirty fantasies.
And when I come back, you’ll have to tell me each naughty one. If you don’t,
I’ll have to punish you.” A laugh. I’d heard him laugh before. But this was
different. Darker. “And maybe I’ll punish you anyway.”
What would that mean for him? I knew what the word meant for
“I’ll put you over my lap,” Jules promised. “I’ll spank you on
the bare. I’m sure a spanking will make you wet. Am I right, Kate? Am I
Yes. Yes, he was right.
“I’ll use my hand first, and then my belt. I’ll make you cry
hot tears, and then I’ll fuck you so hard, so fast.”
My head back against the seat, my body trembling, I let the
wave of pleasure slam through me and recede before I even thought about turning
on the car once more.
* * *
At home, I spread out my new prizes on the bed. I
started to manhandle each one, to stroke my fingers around the curves of the
steel, to pet the fabric of the faux-fur-lined set, to investigate the ice lock.
Jules had wanted to handcuff Sonia. I wanted Jules to handcuff me. But I wanted
to know what handcuffs would feel like first. What if I couldn’t stand the
sensation of being bound down? Or what if I loved the feeling so much I never
wanted any other kind of sex again?
Either way, I didn’t need three pairs of cuffs. Did I?
Slowly I ran my hands over the pink, leopard-print set. These
were silly—a gag gift for a bachelorette party. I would feel ridiculous wearing
them. I held the steel ones. They had a good, solid weight. The keys were sweet
and small. I wished I could put the cuffs on, but I was scared. What if I
couldn’t make the key work while my hands were bound? I put on one cuff and let
the other hang loose. I liked the weight.
God, why had Jules asked Sonia out? Why hadn’t he asked me?
The sound of the front door opening made me start. Quickly I
tried to undo the cuff with the key, but my fingers were slippery. I climbed off
my bed and kicked the door closed, the sound of soldiers marching in my head.
Leaning my body weight against the door, I fumbled with the key some more. My
breathing was ragged, as if I’d been running. What if Sonia came in? What if she
figured out that I’d read her diary and that I wanted what she didn’t want?
Finally I got the key in the hole, turned the right way, released myself.