Authors: Alison Tyler
I shoved all the cuffs and the packaging into the bottom drawer
of my battered dresser and then went out to greet Sonia. She was on the sofa,
reading the rules for her next debate. “Seven minutes. First affirmative
* * *
“A shot in the dark.”
When Jules bought his coffee the next day, he put his hand
I’d already given him his change.
“Sketch?” he asked.
Blush was apparently the new hue for me. I handed him the
napkin. The cuffs had keyholes now.
“Good girl,” he said before walking away. If my co-worker, Dan,
hadn’t been standing behind me, I would have sunk to the floor in a puddle of
arousal and shame. As it was, I stared after him, hearing the words reverberate
in my mind:
good girl, good girl, good girl.
* * *
When Sonia went out the next night, I locked myself up
once more. I’d been impatiently waiting for her departure for hours. In fact,
I’d been so nervous and jumpy that she’d given me two separate lectures on the
poison of caffeine. How could I tell her that coffee wasn’t to blame for my
excitable state—her diary was the culprit?
The clerk had said the ice lock would take an hour to three
hours to melt depending on how much water you’d frozen. I’d gone with one
hour—hiding the cuffs in the freezer behind a bag of frozen peas. I hoped I’d
gone with one hour. I couldn’t be entirely sure. As soon as Sonia left, I
stripped off my clothes and climbed onto my bed. I fastened one cuff easily on
my left wrist, and through some fairly simple maneuvers, threaded the chain
through the brass curls on my headboard before attaching the other cuff to my
right. Why did I get naked? Because Jules would have wanted me like that. Why
did I bind myself to the headboard? That seemed the appropriately kinky thing to
do.I craved knowing how this would feel—every second, every sensation. Could I
come while my wrists were like this? I didn’t know. So far, every time I’d
tried, I’d cheated. This would keep me from giving in.
Sonia was supposed to be at a debate club meeting. I ought to
have the apartment all to myself until at least midnight.
That was the plan, anyway. But plans often go astray,
especially when you are totally nude, in your bedroom, cuffed to your bed, and
your roommate enters your apartment with a guest four freaking hours before you
expect her home.
Holy fuck. Holy fucking fuck.
For a second, I think my heart actually stopped. Then my brain
began to race with questions. Well, with the same question over and over:
What to do? What to do? What to do?
Deep down, I knew
that there was nothing to do. I was cuffed—
cuffed. The chain ran through the curlicues of brass of my headboard. My heart
pounded so hard I was sure Sonia could hear the throb in the living room.
“What’s that drum beat?” she might be asking her friend. “Is someone playing Led
Zeppelin on eleven?”
Maybe she had forgotten something. She and whomever she was
with would simply grab the missing item—jacket, or purse, or note cards, or
Wesson Oil, whatever the fuck they’d forgotten—and be on their way. But if that
was the case, then what was that sound? I didn’t have to be a rocket scientist
to recognize the echo of footsteps approaching down the hall, growing closer by
Oh, God, why had I done this? Why hadn’t I been comfortable
enough with putting a single cuff on my wrist? Why had I needed to try something
Desperately I attempted to get free. I rattled the chain, to no
avail. Maybe the heat of my cheeks would melt the ice quicker than the expected
time. Nope. I bucked against the mattress.
My mind exploded with dirty words.
Sonia never knocked. Not ever. How could I not have locked the
door? Simple. This was my maybe not-so-bright backup plan. I had worried that I
might need assistance. What if I’d done something wrong? What if the lock got
stuck? The firemen could easily open the door and find me. They wouldn’t have to
break down the door.
So what could I do now? Could I somehow drag the whole fucking
bed through the room so I could block the door? Not likely.
The voices grew louder.
No hunky firemen were in my future. Right when I realized that
I ought to simply shout out, “Don’t come in!” Sonia and Eleanor, a friend of
hers from the debate team, entered my bedroom. They were talking to each other,
so they did not notice me right away. That is, they didn’t notice what I looked
like. Then Sonia sucked in her breath, her friend looked aghast, and I bit my
lip and tried hard not to cry.
The other woman politely backed out of the room—I’m sure Emily
Post would have approved—but Sonia stood in the doorway, staring. Another person
than I am might have been indignant. A different kind of girl might have
what the fuck do you think you’re looking
attitude. But that chick wasn’t me.
“Are you okay?” she finally asked, her voice trembling.
“Well…” I said, thinking, “Hell, I’ve been better.”
“Did someone do this to you?”
Yeah. I did. I did because I read
your fucking diary, you nitwit. I did because I wanted to know what it would
feel like to be handcuffed, without having to go through the whole thing of
finding a boyfriend and begging him to use bondage tools on me. Men don’t
offer things up like this to me every day. I’m not you.
I shook my head.
“Do you want me to unlock you or leave you alone?”
Did I really have to explain to her about the ice lock? I took
a deep breath. “Don’t worry about me,” I said, before adding, “but maybe you
could cover me up.” She looked as if she didn’t want to step too close to me. I
wanted to tell her that I wouldn’t bite, and she didn’t have to worry anyway,
not with me bound down. Reluctantly she came close enough to spread the quilt
over my body. Then she sat at the foot of my bed and stared at me. I saw
confusion in her eyes. At least, that was better than pity.
“I wanted to know,” I said, as she seemed to expect some type
“What being bound would feel like.”
Had she made the mathematical mental connection? Her diary plus
my fantasies equaled intense orgasms.
“Well, what does it feel like?”
Wow, for once Sonia wasn’t spouting platitudes at me. She
wasn’t telling me I should get in my light and do my work. She wasn’t explaining
the dangers of kinky sex. Instead she looked truly interested in what I had to
I stammered, “I like the sensation.” I’d have liked it a whole
lot better if Jules had been between my thighs, but I kept that part to
* * *
Nothing happened after that. I waited until I could free
myself, and then I freed myself. There was no way I was going to get off
tonight. I was so mortified that I didn’t even leave my bedroom until I was sure
that Sonia’s guest had departed and Sonia had gone to sleep. Except, as I was
brushing my teeth, I thought I heard soft noises from Sonia’s room. Noises I’d
never heard before. These weren’t the sounds of a heated debate.
Not unless a heated debate sounds a lot like fucking.
“Oh, God,” I heard in a stagelike whisper, then louder, “Oh,
I paused, and then realized my electric toothbrush was still
running. Quickly I pressed the button to turn off the brush. I wanted to hear
everything I possibly could. Sonia’s normally recognizable voice sounded
extremely unrecognizable. There was lust, passion, arousal in her moans.
Should I come closer? Press myself up to her door and try to
peek? No. I’d been caught by her already today. I didn’t want to flip the
situation and catch her. Still, I couldn’t wait to read her diary the next
But when I went to look in the morning, the book wasn’t
* * *
Jules strolled up to the coffee bar as usual. I started
trembling when he approached the counter to order. “Shot in the dark,
He reached out and put a hand on top of mine, holding me still,
calming me down. Was he going to ask to see more of my sketches? I had a stack
behind the counter. Was he going to tell me he’d only threatened Sonia with
cuffs as a joke?
“Everyone knows she’s a lesbian,” Jules said, smiling.
I couldn’t believe what he was saying.”Break,” I told Dan, “be
right back.” Dan gave me the evil eye before stepping up to the counter. He
liked making money, but he hated having to work. I walked out of the small
structure to find Jules waiting for me at the back.
“What did you say?”
He took my hand again. I was extremely aware of his skin
against my skin. I wanted to tell him that usually, I touch myself through a
barrier. Only when the heat arises do I try skin on skin. To mimic this in real
life, we ought to have been wearing gloves. Those were the nervous, crazy
thoughts jangling through my brain. Luckily I was wise enough to keep my lips
sealed as he led me away from the coffee bar, down a little hill, to a concrete
planter. We sat together under a jacaranda tree. All around us were the pale,
purple blossoms, the honeyed scent in the air. Maybe this was a dream. I
couldn’t, for the life of me, understand what was happening.
“Sonia’s a lesbian. You know that. I know that.”
“She doesn’t know that,” I said. Then I backtracked. “Well, I
mean, I don’t think she did until last night.”
“What happened last night, Red?” He stroked my hair out of my
eyes, and a fresh tremor ran through me. He was gazing at me in a way that men
generally admired Sonia. Which reminded me in a heartbeat that he’d asked her
“I think she hooked up with Eleanor. But why on earth did you
ask her out if you think she’s into women?”
He stared at me with the same expression I’d seen on his face
in class, a look that said he knew something more than the instructor did, had a
concept that had yet to be explained.
“You really can’t guess?”
I shook my head.
“You can, but you want me to say the words. That’s fine. I can
say the words. I asked her out because I wanted you…”
“But…” I wanted to believe him. My heart felt too big in my
chest. He had his hands on my wrists now. I gave a test tug, pulling. He held on
I saw that word again—this time
written in my mind instead of in Sonia’s notebook.
“But why didn’t I ask you out from the start?”
I swallowed hard and nodded.
“I wanted you to
what I was
going to give you. I wanted you to be consumed with need. There are rules in a
debate,” he said, “but there are always people who cheat.”
Oh, Christ. He’d played me so well. Knowing how jealous I was
of how men responded to her, knowing somehow that I was kinky. How had he known
that? How had he known I wanted someone to tie me up?
“But what if she’d said yes?” I needed to know the answer to
“She wasn’t going to say yes.”
“What if she had?”
He shrugged. The lady or the tiger? I would have to choose the
decision for myself. Would he have postponed the encounter, or tied her up and
fucked her? Did either answer make me want to run? No.
I stopped tugging. His grip did not relax. He squeezed even
tighter, before finally releasing me.
“Do you know where I live?” he asked.
I nodded without telling him I’d stood outside his apartment
before, staring up at his windows. Considering begging him to handcuff me.
“Come to my place after work,” he said.
He would have no debate from me.
* * *
I burned myself twice in the next two hours.
Exasperated, Dan finally told me to call it a day. I must really have been
driving him nuts if he were willing to man the coffee shack by himself. I untied
the apron and grabbed up my battered messenger bag. I knew I ought to go home
and change clothes—the aroma of coffee permeated my whole being. I could go and
snag one of Sonia’s little dresses from her closet, put some emphasis on my
figure, something different from my standard uniform of faded jeans and a plain
But when I went to her room and looked in her closet, I was at
a loss. How could I put on a costume when all I really wanted was for Jules to
see me naked? I headed back to my room. At the very least, I could capture my
hair in a flirty ponytail. I might even slick on my one shade of lip gloss, if I
could find the tube.
On my bed sat a book—a book I recognized immediately. Sonia’s
diary. That’s why I hadn’t found the journal in the morning. She’d cottoned on
to the fact that I was a snoop. Guilt flickered through my body. That didn’t
stop me from perching on the edge of my mattress and cracking the spine once
more. Her latest entry was written differently this time. It was written
directly to me.
When I saw you on your bed like that, I couldn’t get the
image out of my mind. I went and told Eleanor what I’d seen, and Eleanor
spoke to me differently than anyone ever had. Do you want that? she asked
me. Want… She hesitated.
To be tied down, or tied up?
It’s no coincidence, is it? You read my diary. You saw what
he said. You knew what he did.
The guilt was back. I was shivering all over.
But I’m not angry, Kate. Because last night with Eleanor
was the best fucking night I ever had. The best night fucking, too.
Now, I smiled.
Oh, yeah. And do you think we could borrow your cuffs
I put down Sonia’s diary and grabbed the pretty faux-fur,
leopard-print cuffs from my bottom drawer. She’d like these best, I thought.
They went with her style. I set both the cuffs and key and diary on Sonia’s bed.
Then I looked at my clock. Jules had said to meet him after work. Maybe I ought
to have changed—turned myself into someone else. Like in one of those fairy
tales I used to read when I was a kid. But I didn’t have a godmother.