Okay, so here's what really upsets me. If a guy refers to some other guy as naïve, or innocent, or gullible; well, that's derogatory, right? There's no way any of that would be viewed in a good light personally. But if he's saying it about a girl... well, that's a whole different ballgame. Those traits in a woman... especially a pretty woman... turn men on; make them hard; make them aggressive; appeal to them.
I've had that problem my whole life. I'm too trusting, too quick to agree, too easily talked into things. I guess I learned from my many mistakes in judgment... but the price I paid for that knowledge was very, very high. Eventually, I became a recluse at the ripe old age of twenty-one... never trusting a man... or another woman, for that matter. Women tend to display a wee bit of jealousy around me. And I don't know why. I'm not a threat to them!
In all of my life, only one person has seen me for something other than a sex object or menace. Only one person has ever seen me for... me. And that, of course, was Riya. In high school, we were inseparable. But then she deserted me and left Baltimore for Cambridge. Oh, gosh, I was crushed. I ran right out and joined some new-fangled church... I guess it was really a cult. Riya saved me, actually dragging the sheriff, the FBI and a news crew out to the compound, threatening to charge them with kidnapping and plastering it all over the internet if they refused to let her take me home. I had been introduced to sex while I was with them, of course, along with some forms of "physical coercion" that they reserved for girls who tried to escape their clutches. But she saved me! And it wasn't the last time. There was another "cultish" church a year later... but I saw through their little act... after a couple of their "elders" had drugged and had their way with me. I swore off churches. Being lonely is better than THAT!
In college I was seduced by an assistant prof, and I even moved in with him for a week. It happened again with a student my senior year. The first little fling ended with a broken jaw (it STILL hurts a little if I chew tough food a certain way). And in the second case, the guy REALLY got rough. No broken bones that time, but I was in a coma for a few days. Riya came home (again), sat with me until I woke up, and then made me press charges, even though I kept telling her it was probably all my fault. (I told her that I should have KNOWN not to upset him while he was drunk. That's just the kind of person he is. Well, the kind of person he WAS. He's in jail now. He got off with probation in my case, but the next girl DID have broken bones.) Oh, man; I can pick 'em, can't I?
So anyway, after that, Riya and I made a pact. No dating. She had her studies, and I had... my little problem. And so, every Friday night... every single Friday... we got on the computer and video-conferenced. It's all I ever looked forward to in life. Period. She was all I had. She was my everything.
When she didn't finish the doctorate, I was absolutely floored. She'd published some academic paper, and evidently some dude saw it and wanted her to join "his team." And so, away she went... to North Friggin' Carolina! How could she DO that to me?! I was still stuck in the same auto distribution company office in Baltimore that I'd been in for three years. During an "economic downturn," my position as area research manager had been eliminated. They'd offered me a secretarial position as an "interim" spot until they could reinstate me to management. But when things got better, others were moved back up... that is to say, the MEN moved back up... but I did not. And every day was the same... the same parade of customers... the same sorts of guys, hounding me, asking me out, flirting. Riya and I still talked every week. I was happy for her. Really. She'd finally found a guy... someone she genuinely liked and respected. And loved. I saw it in her eyes, even on the video calls. My Riya was in love! But I was stuck. Alone.
And then, one day, out of the blue, she walked into the office. I squealed and hugged her, and I was so excited I couldn't stay still! We hadn't been together... really together... in eight months, since the last Christmas break period. The first thing she asked me was which office my boss worked in. And then she marched me right in.
"Hi there!" She said, smiling brightly. "Betty is quitting! Sorry for the short notice. She's had a better offer. You can keep her last paycheck!"
Mr. Morehead (who had made several passes at me over the past year... some of which were quite physical, despite his being married) protested rather vehemently. As a final bit of persuasion not to leave, he showed me a letter from the head of the company which offered to reinstate me to my former position. But when I noticed that it was dated nine months before, I got mad and started crying. And I allowed Riya to lead me out of there. Forever.
She had arranged for movers, she told me... for the next day! We went out that night and got drunk, and we talked and talked and talked. In my apartment, we shared the single bed... though we both wore nightgowns, of course. No hanky panky. We weren't "that way," though we each swore that we were "tolerant people." Oh, gosh, I was on cloud nine! Leaving Baltimore! Leaving my horrible "stuck" life! And once again, my savior was my best friend. We threw the entirety of my life's accumulations into seven large cardboard boxes (four of which contained only books). The movers came, and within thirty minutes, the apartment was empty. Only then did I realize that all the cleaning supplies... even the broom... had departed, and there was no way to clean. But she dragged me down to the super's apartment and struck a deal with him to clean it, counting out four one hundred dollar bills. And then she led me out to her little red sports car, and off we went!
It should have only been a five hour drive, but Washington traffic was horrid! We stopped at a motel in Fredericksburg that had a restaurant, and we split a bottle of wine and had hamburgers and French fries, and then we split a piece of Boston Cream Pie with coffee and Kahlua. She told me that her boy friend (who owned half the company!) had promised to hire me "in any capacity where I might fit." She'd already arranged for an apartment near one of the universities, and she said she would introduce me to people during a party on Friday... which was just two days away. There were lots of parties, she told me. This one was for a prospective customer... meaning a major computer manufacturing firm (in this case from Japan). And, there was to be an employee party the NEXT Friday.
When we arrived in the Durham area, she bought me an air mattress and some sheets, blankets and pillows, so I'd have a place to sleep in my new apartment before my stuff arrived. I was forced to admit that North Friggin' Carolina was a pretty place to live. There were more pines than there were in eastern Maryland; and lots of hardwoods, too. Everything was so green! That night, she introduced me to Tony, her boyfriend. Nice guy, though I was a little surprised to think of him as her "type." But the thing that convinced me that everything was going to be alright was how he treated her. He was obviously head over heels, and it cheered my heart to see her with someone that truly loved her. The day after that, I went in and did administrative stuff. You know... filling out forms, getting my security badge... things like that. I still didn't have a position to apply for, but Riya had let everyone know that that would be decided later. The people all seemed nice, but they were still pretty predictable around me... the guys flirted and the gals looked at me with a little mistrust in their eyes. Some things never change.
And that evening was the party at the big mansion for the client. It was nice the way Tony had it all set up. He had hired a bus that went all around the area and picked up the company people that needed to attend... you know, like the marketing folks, the sales manager, key R&D people, etcetera. That way, nobody would have to worry about drinking and driving. Riya came over and picked me up. She'd gotten me a dress and some shoes to wear for the evening, since my stuff hadn't arrived yet. I soon figured out that I was to be window dressing for the event. I didn't mind... not really. I tried to tolerate the men who stood too close; and while I did NOT tolerate the four different hands that caressed my butt, I never made a scene about it. I got tired of smiling. And in the end, I was very happy when the bus took us all back home.
The following week, I interviewed with several of the managers for executive assistant positions. One or two were sort of lecherous, and I was surprised when one female director showed obvious sexual interest. Riya mentioned several times about interviewing with the other owner of the company, William Smythe (whom she only referred to as "Billy"), but I hadn't met him yet. I picked up a few tidbits of gossip about him around the cafeteria and waiting rooms from some of the secretaries. None of them had ever actually seen the man, and a few expressed doubts that he even existed. Smythe was supposedly the brains behind the invention that launched the firm. "Quantum computing," they called it. I asked Riya about the rumors later in the week.
"Oh, yes," she said, laughing. "Billy exists alright! He's become one of my best friends here. You're just going to love him!" And so, I let the topic drop.
On that next Friday, I called Riya and tried to beg out of the employee party, but she told me that would be extremely bad form. And once again, I didn't argue. She had gone to SO much trouble to get me this job (whatever the job ended up being), and I didn't want to appear ungrateful. I was awfully tired, though, and my things were scheduled to arrive that day. Also... I sort of dreaded wearing that skimpy little dress from the previous week's party, knowing that I'd be feeling more paws on my derriere before the evening was over. Riya picked me up again... and she'd brought ANOTHER dress; this one bearing an awfully fancy label. It must have cost a fortune! But it was, if anything, even more daring than its predecessor. The matching shoes sported four-inch heels... something that I was NOT comfortable in. It all fit perfectly. Riya was especially excited by my wearing it. And so, off we went.
The party was in full swing when we got there. The booze was flowing, and everyone was having a great time. Riya handed me a tall cranberry cocktail, and I was so nervous that I drank it down pretty quickly. I started feeling the effects of it, and went in search of hors devours. They helped a little, but made me thirsty; and before I knew it, there was another drink in my hand. People were nice, overall... even the letches. The woman who had interviewed me earlier in the week took me aside and made some small talk before asking me the question that I'd half expected. She was very nervous, and I think I did a pretty good job of letting her down easy; telling her that I was flattered, but that I didn't go in for relationships like that... but I truly wished her luck in finding someone who did. She held my hand (just a little too long) and thanked me, before going off to stalk the new girl in the secretarial pool.
By now, I had regretted drinking the two tall cocktails. I really needed to pee; and as if by magic, Riya was at my side. She led me across the lobby and pointed up the far staircase. Third door, she said. Can't miss it. I hurried up as fast as my wobbly heels would allow, but when I got to the top and looked down the short hallway of closed doors, I couldn't remember if she had told me it was on the left or right. Also, a couple of the doors obviously went to closets, and I didn't know if those were supposed to count. I approached the third door on the left and listened. I thought I heard a noise, so I knocked lightly. When no one said anything, I cracked it open and peeked inside. It was a bedroom. There was a man sprawled on his back in the center of a queen-sized bed, and the naked woman who was straddling him was moaning so loudly that it was no wonder they hadn't heard my knock. I watched them for several long moments until my guilt (and the urgent need to relieve myself) drove me to softly close the door and continue my search.
I tapped again on the door across the hall. Again there was no response, so I took a deep breath and opened it, ready for just about anything. It was a living room of some sort. Did bathrooms in mansions have sitting rooms outside of them? My need drove me to explore further, so I went in and let the door close softly behind me. There was light coming from an inner doorway (with an open door) to my left, and I tentatively wandered in that direction. When I finally reached it, I looked in and observed a very odd sight. It was a big room... really big... with one wall covered entirely with full bookcases. The other three walls were completely covered in white dry-erase boards, and there was odd mathematical scribbling everywhere I looked. In the center of the room were four desks, which all faced each other, each with a computer monitor, so that four people could work simultaneously, I guess. But only one man was there... a BIG man, sitting with his back to me.
"Excuse me," I said. "Can I use your...?" And he turned toward me.
He turned to his right to do this (that's sort of important in my narrative); and immediately, I took a step back, away from him. My mouth was open because I was in the process of asking him a question, and it stayed open. I can remember thinking to myself: He's wearing a mask. Why is he wearing a mask? But then a couple little things began to register in my brain. This mask made his head look huge... and it only had one eye, right in the middle of the forehead. And... the mask had no mouth whatsoever... and... no nose, either. In fact, the only thing that WAS on the mask, other than the single bulging eye, was an ear that looked too small, and was positioned generally where the right cheek should be. And then that one eye... that single huge eye... blinked. And I realized that there was no mask at all.
Okay, let's talk about screams. When people write a scream, it's usually "Eeeek!" or something ridiculously similar. In my case, a scream should probably be spelled: "Mwuaaaah!" only in the key of G, and as far right as you can go on the keyboard. I took another step backward, but my right heel slipped on the hardwood floor, my feet both jackknifed out in front of me, and I fell hard on my ass. Now he was moving toward me. He was just a wee bit shorter than I would describe a "giant"... at first guess, I'd say maybe six-six and well over 250 pounds. I tried to use my feet to scoot back along the floor away from him, but my heels could find no traction. His hands were coming up from his sides, toward me... and he said: "Cor, girl! 'Y okay?"
I took a breath. It was the first one since the scream, and it was nowhere near adequate to return the required amount of oxygen to my system. And so, I began to pant. Every part of me was tingling as if I'd just stuck my finger in an electrical outlet. I raised a single hand toward him, palm outward, and he abruptly stopped his advance. Still gasping, I rolled to my left until I could get my knees under me. I was looking at the floor, trying to get my breath back, swaying slightly on my hands and knees, and I finally decided to attempt speech. "H... H... How... How... How...?"
And the man without a mouth said: "Crikey, love. Take a breath! How how how WHAT?"
I gulped and managed to inhale deeply. I forced myself to look up at him so that he could see that I didn't appreciate his sarcasm. "How are you talking?" I asked firmly.
"Ah. That. Sorry," he said. And he turned his face further to the right.
Immediately, it all became apparent. I'd only been seeing half of his face. Most of what was supposed to be on a face was on the left half. There was the other eye... but it was substantially smaller than the right one, and it was about two inches lower that its mate. The nose was there, but it was immensely broad, stretching from the center of his face to his left cheek. And there was his mouth, too, but it was so far to the left that it was practically against his shoulder. The mouth was actually of average size... but because his head was about fifty percent larger than a normal head, it appeared to be abnormally small. And the line of the mouth wasn't parallel to the floor... it was canted at about a twenty degree angle to the left.
Now remember, I was on my hands and knees, looking sideways up at him. I studied him for several long seconds, and then looked back down. "Your right eye is dominant," I observed. That made sense to me. His eyes were spaced so far apart that he couldn't focus both of them on something at the same time. That's why he'd only been displaying one profile.
I had to look back up when he began making sharp, grunting sounds, and it took me a moment to realize that he was laughing. "Blimey, girl! I've 'erd a few comments about m' looks in m' day, but that's the first time anyone's ever said THAT!"
I took a deep breath and ignored him. I got my left foot under me so I could stand, but the damned heel was too high, and I twisted my ankle. My body jerked around when I accomplished that little maneuver, and I wound up sitting on my ass again with my legs in his direction and they were splayed apart. He twisted his head back to the left a little, and his larger, goggling eye widened even further in shock. He was blushing, and I realized that he couldn't look at me without seeing directly up my skirt. I allowed my shoulders to slump in resignation, and I burst into tears.
That REALLY had an impact on him. He closed his eyes and moved slightly away before opening them again and once more giving me a view of his deformed left profile. "Eer, now! Don't do that! Please, don't cry like that, Betty! I couldn't stand if it you... "
"I peed!" I sobbed.
He blinked. "Wot?"
I tried to corral my crying without results. "I peed," I told him between sniffs. "I came in looking for a bathroom, because I had to go so badly. I STILL have to go! Do you have one I can use?"
And he said something like "Lewsorer," and moved his left shoulder a little.
I studied his face carefully, and the thing I remember most vividly about that moment is that he was studying my face... not my crotch, but my face. I said: "What?"
"Loo's over there," he jerked a thumb this time, indicating a door. When I didn't reply immediately, he said in slow, Americanized English: "The water closet. The toilet. The Bath Room."
"Don't make fun of me!" I barked. "I'm trying really hard here!" And he shrank back away from me a little. I tried to get my right foot under me, but again the heel slipped on the slick floor.
Suddenly, he reached for one of my feet; and I said urgently: "Don't!" Yet again, he shrank away from me, this time with real emotional pain lining his face around his eyes. My heart went out to him, and I let my shoulders slump again. "I don't want you to get your hands wet," I explained softly. "There's a puddle." I took a shaky breath. "Oh, I can't BELIEVE I did this! I'm SO embarrassed!"
Before I could do anything else, he'd dropped to his knees and he was unbuckling the accursed shoes, setting them aside when they were off. Then, he stood and offered me a hand, which I took gratefully and let him help me to my feet. He continued to hold it as he led me to the door of the bathroom. "Thank you," I said softly, smiling shyly up at his face. And I went in and closed the door.
Once inside, I stripped out of the dress and quickly relieved myself. Then I peeled off my soaked panties from my ankles; and not knowing what else to do with them, I wrapped them in tissues and threw them in the trash can under the sink. Of course, there was no bra with this outfit, and so now I was completely nude. I found a washcloth and cleaned myself, then I set to work on the dress. It was massively stained on the back, and smelled strongly of urine. I washed it out... at least the bottom half of it, using soap from the hand dispenser... over and over, and then tried to wring it out as best as I could. I found a huge, soft towel in a cabinet and wrapped it securely around me, tucking the thing tightly into itself just above my breasts. I opened the door and found him kneeling where I had previously sat on the floor, rubbing the hardwood with another towel. When he heard the door, he stood, shifting nervously. He appeared very startled by my appearance, and he couldn't keep from raking my body with his eyes... though he was obviously trying hard not to. I somehow found that kind of cute.
"Do you have a hair dryer?" I asked him, before realizing my mistake. He was completely bald. He blinked at me. "Do you think you can find one?" I persisted.
"I... um... 'Ere may be one in one of the bedrooms down th' 'all."
"Could you go look for me, please?"
He glanced nervously toward the door I'd entered from. "I... um... Yeah. Okay." He began to walk slowly in that direction.
"Wait!" I urged. He turned back while I asked: "How did you know my name?"
"You're Riya's friend, ain't cha? You were at th' party last week."
I tried to figure that one out. "Were you there?" I asked him. But he only smiled... rather sadly, I thought... and started for the door again. Startled, I blurted: "You're Billy, right?"
He looked back at me. "Yeah. I'm Billy. How d' y' do." And he was gone.
I went back to work on the dress, rubbing and patting the wrinkles out with another towel. I was immensely distracted from my chore by my thoughts. I had a hundred questions, but I didn't want to ask any of them to HIM; at least, not right now. A few minutes later, he was back with a hair drier.
"Found one in the loo down the 'all," he muttered, handing it to me. I reached out and took it, but before he could let go, I had laid my other hand on his.
"Billy! You're trembling! What's the matter?"
He released the dryer and snatched his hand away. "Nuthin'. I'm fine, thanks."
I studied him carefully. At long last, I realized what I'd done wrong. "Oh. You don't go out. You never leave these rooms, do you? You never let anyone SEE you!" He took a step back and shuffled his feet. I dropped the device onto a chair and advanced the step he had retreated. As I reached out and laid both my hands on his arms, he suddenly took on the countenance of a startled rabbit.
But before he could bolt away, I said gently: "Oh, Billy... I'm SO sorry for all of this! I invaded your sanctuary and turned your whole evening upside down! I've been horrible, imposing on you, and asking you to help me, and sending you out, and... "
"Cor, blimey, Betty! Stop! Everythin's fine! I'm glad I could 'elp."
I tried to give him my sweetest smile. "Well... thank you." I picked up the hair dryer and eventually found a place to plug it in. I had draped the dress over the back of a chair, and when the dryer roared to life, it killed conversation for several minutes.
At last, I turned it off and picked up the garment to examine it. I held it out to him. "Do you smell anything?"
He dutifully sniffed it. "Naw. It's fine."
I gave him another smile before taking it into the bathroom and putting it back on. I primped a little in front of the mirror, but because I'd left my purse downstairs, there was little I could do. I glanced at the door, wondering. Why was I so nervous? I went out and held out my arms, letting him inspect me. "What do you think?" I asked.
"Good as new," he declared. He turned a little to the right and let me see his smile. We stood, staring at each other. I had returned that smile, and now it just seemed to fix itself as a permanent resident on my face. He shifted nervously, obviously trying to think of something to say. Finally he muttered: "So... I guess yer gonna give Riya what for!"
I kept smiling. "Why?"
He swallowed nervously. "Why, fer not warnin' you about me. About THIS!" He waved a forefinger around in front of him, indicating his face.
I contemplated him for another moment. "Can't you see, Billy? This is the way she wanted it to be. This is the only way it COULD be!"
He blinked at me for a long fifteen seconds before shaking his head slowly. "Sorry. I don't catch yer drift."
I grinned even more. "If she had told me about... that, how do you think I would have felt BEFORE I met you? What emotion do you think I would have had?" His brow creased in thought for a few moments. Finally, he just shook his head, questioningly. So I answered. "I would have felt pity, Billy. Before I ever met you, I would have felt pity toward you. You don't deserve my pity... or ANYONE'S. You deserve respect. And this way... the way she set it up... that's the first emotion I have toward you."
"Well," he said thoughtfully, "... right after the emotion of scarin' the piss outta 'y."
I gasped and fixed him with a stare that contained as much indignation as I could muster before we both burst into laughter. When I finally stopped, I protested "Billy, you can't tell ANYONE what I did, okay?" He rubbed the bottom of his face thoughtfully, as if considering it. "Billy, please! You have to promise me that you'll never... "
"Alright, alright," he laughed. "Yer secret's safe w' me, love, I swear."
"You won't even tell Tony?" I asked, smiling. "You're best friends, right?"
He crossed his heart. "And yeah, 'e's m' mate... but just between you 'n me, 'e can be a bit of a wanker sometimes."
"What's a wanker?"
He cleared his throat and shuffled his feet a little. "Uh... y' know. A tosser... a plonker." I guess my face must have looked pretty blank. Finally, he gave an exasperated grunt. "A bloke who just sits around an'... " He made a fist and pumped it in front of his groin in what I would call a rather... crude gesture.
I felt my cheeks go hot, and I laughed again. Then I sighed. I had so many questions, and when I finally launched into a few of them, he answered readily. About the three walls full of equations, he said: "I don't wanna look at 'em right now. When I do, I start thinkin' in numbers instead o' English. Sort kills a conversation." When I asked about the computers, he showed me that he could tap into several different servers... including the mansion security setup. When I had walked in on him, he had been "monitoring" the party downstairs. That's where he had first seen me, he said... during the previous week's party on the security monitors. And, after I asked, he told me that, no (smiling, while I blushed), he could NOT tap into what was going on in the guest bedroom, across the hall. The cameras were only mounted in the "public areas," such as outside, and the hallways and major rooms downstairs. No bedrooms or bathrooms.
As he flipped through the various cameras, showing me the views, we caught sight of Riya climbing the stairs toward this upper wing. I glanced at him, and he at me, and I could tell that we both wished we had a little more time alone. Bowing to an overwhelming urge, I reached out and gently grasped his upper right arm with both of my hands. "Billy, I... um... I just want to apologize for the way I acted when I saw you... and to thank you again for everything you did." He blinked down at me, obviously trying to read whatever signals I was sending. I wasn't entirely sure what kinds of signals I was TRYING to send. Suddenly, I felt like crying, but I held myself back, and took a shaky breath, instead; then I smile up at him.
"You realize that you had me captive here... in your personal castle. I was a damsel in distress, naked... wrapped in a bath towel, without anywhere to go. And you saved me. You're my hero!"
He cleared his throat. Nervously, he reached up with his free hand and placed it tenderly over mine on his arm, then he slowly led me into the living room, where he plucked a long-stem red rose from an arrangement in a vase and he handed it to me. I took it, smiled, and automatically held it to my nose. "You keep flowers in your apartment?" I asked him.
"Riya put 'em 'ere. Said it'd brighten the place up."
"Thank you." I couldn't keep the blush off my face. And Riya was suddenly there, grinning broadly, looking at the two of us. I considered taking my hand off of his arm, but I didn't.
"You need to go downstairs," she said, looking at me.
"Me? Why? Can't I stay here and talk for a little while?"
She shook her head. The smile never left her lips. "Nope. You're the entertainment. I promised Tony I'd find you and send you right down to him."
"Entertainment?" THAT didn't sound good.
"Yep. I don't think I've ever mentioned it to you, but Tony's an amateur hypnotist. When the parties are small, friendly gatherings, like this one, he sometimes tries it out. People laugh and have fun. He's put me under... lots of times. It's really kind of nice."
I was seriously startled. "Hypnosis? Riya, no way! I'm not going to let him do that! Especially not in front of a crowd of people I've just met!"
She shrugged. "Well, it's your official introduction to the employee group, anyway. You have to go down. Now."
I looked up at Billy, sighed, and gave his arm another affectionate squeeze. "I guess I have to go," told him quietly. "I wish I didn't."
I saw his mouth draw up in a crooked smile. "I 'ereby release you from m' castle," he said formally. "D' y' promise to come back?"
I suddenly had a huge desire to kiss him. (What would it be like?) But he was too tall, and even if I stood on tiptoes, I'd be unable to do it unless he bent down. I realized suddenly that I'd let my smile slip away, and I couldn't keep my eyes from misting. "I promise, Billy."
"Where are your shoes?" Riya asked. And the spell was broken. A minute later, I was walking down the hallway toward the staircase alone. Riya had said she wanted to talk to Billy for a minute... but Tony couldn't wait; I needed to get downstairs right away. I looked down at the rose in my hand. It was the only real link to the surreal thing that had just happened to me. I clutched it more tightly and descended the steps as quickly as my heels would allow. Silently, I hoped that I could get through this administrative ordeal and fulfill my promise to Billy as quickly as possible.
I found Tony in the center of the huge living room (sort of a ballroom, I guess) surrounded by chattering people. As soon as he saw me, however, he said something and everyone sort of scattered, leaving me in sole possession of his attention. "Betty!" he said excitedly. "I'm really glad you're here. I'd like you to help me with this evening's entertainment."
"Yes," I said to him. "Riya told me. I'm sorry, Tony, but I'd rather not."
He looked at me questioningly. "That really saddens me, Betty. Couldn't you try it... just for me? I KNOW that you'd be an excellent subject."
"No," I answered firmly. "I'm sorry, but I don't think so." He looked crestfallen, but shrugged resignedly. "But... Tony," I said, "could you answer a few questions about Billy?"
He seemed to study me carefully. "I never talk to anyone about Billy," he said, almost sternly; but then his brow creased in sudden thought. "Have you... met him?"
"Yes," I said sincerely. "Just now. Upstairs."
A queer look flickered across his features. "If I... talk to you about him, would you help me out here by...?"
I didn't let him finish. "Quid pro quo?" I shook my head. "I don't think so."
I started to turn and leave, but he reached out and grabbed my arm. "I'm sorry, Betty. What do you want to know?"
I regarded him curiously, but he seemed sincere. "Does his condition cause him pain?" I asked.
A smile slowly spread across his features. "Now, that is NOT the first question people usually ask," he said. His face let me know that he believed that little fact to be meaningful. When I didn't respond, he said: "No... he's not in pain... and it's not really a medical condition at all... not like a disease or syndrome."
I nodded, suddenly realizing that this was going to be a game of "twenty questions." He wasn't going to relinquish his answers easily. But that almost made sense... he was being protective of a friend. "Okay," I said patiently. "I guess I'll have to stoop to the common questions, then. What IS wrong with him?"
His faced softened, and he took my hand. "I'm sorry, Betty. You... care about him, don't you?" Again I didn't answer, and he said simply "He has a cleft face."
And THAT threw me for a moment. "I... I've heard about cleft palates," I said, as much to myself as to him. "There are charities... like the 'Smile' one for kids." I puzzled for a brief moment in silence. "Is that what 'Elephant Man' had?"
He gave me a look to let me know that I was now in the realm of "common questions," and that I didn't really know enough to ask something meaningful. Then he shook his head. "Joseph Merrick DID suffer from a medical condition... probably some form of fibromatosis... or something else that caused multiple tumors that led to deformities. However, he wasn't born with them... they developed later in his life. But facial clefts develop in the womb. They're birth defects."
"Is it genetic?" I asked, before realizing that he might read some secondary motivation into the question. Sure enough, he smirked... just slightly. It was enough to upset me, though. "Oh, for goodness sake!" I added harshly. "Just answer me!"
His countenance immediately softened. "Of course, Betty. I'm sorry. I'm not really into medicine, but I've researched it online for obvious reasons." He took a breath. "It's sometimes very difficult to figure out genetic links about things that happen so rarely. Orofacial clefts... that is, clefts in lips or pallet... are, by far, the most common... and they still occur in less than one in a thousand births. It wasn't too long ago that people tried to hide such deformities; and so it's hard to track something that could skip fifty or a hundred generations and still be tied genetically. Make sense? They haven't found specific genetic markers, but they don't really know."
He paused before continuing. "Billy's case is obviously very severe. His is a 'lateral cleft,' that departs from the facial median. That's very rare. He told me that his parents, in England, put him through a lot of dental surgery when he was seven years old. Five operations, at least. He evidently didn't really communicate at all before that; but they sure did a great job, considering all the damage he must have been born with. If you spoke to him upstairs, you know that he can speak normally now... if you can get through the accent. His parents were both laborers in Lambeth, and though I haven't met them, I assume they have pretty thick Cockney accents. They evidently kept him pretty much indoors, away from the taunts and stares of others, and he was primarily self-taught. He had tutors and social workers teaching him, of course. At first, I bet he was too advanced for them to realize that he wasn't stupid. Know what I mean? They'd ask him a question, and he didn't answer right away because he was thinking in terms of the next chapter... or the next book... or the next course. I know everyone was just trying to help him. But, when it came to more reconstructive surgery to correct the other things, he refused outright. I'm not going to tell you about the professors that helped him... or how he came to the U.S... . or how he met ME. You can learn all that later. Okay? I WILL tell you that spending three years in this country has softened his accent considerably. You should have heard him when I first met him!" He looked tenderly at me. "Is there any other question I can answer?"
"Yes. What does 'Cor' mean?"
He threw back his head and laughed. "Damned if I know!"
I nodded. I was hooked. I understood now. I knew what Riya saw in this man. Jeez, he was bright... and helpful, and articulate, and sincere, and yes... handsome. I was happy for her. "Okay," I told him so softly that he had to lean toward me to hear. I sighed. "How can I help you with... the hypnosis thing?"
He smiled hugely. "Really?"
I nodded. If Riya could trust him, then so could I. "Are... Are you going to make me bark like a dog?" I asked.
"You know," he told me calmly, "it just doesn't matter."
I studied his face. "It doesn't?"
"Nope. I am going to put you to sleep, and you're going to go into a very, very pleasant dream-state. I will give you suggestions. And, if you accept those suggestions, you will convince yourself that it's okay to do those things. Everybody that's watching will understand that. They'll know that you are reacting to what I say. And... they'll know that whatever it is that you are doing, it's not your fault... it's not what you would normally do. It'll be ME and not YOU. You are completely blameless in this little production. Does that make sense?"
"Um... I guess." I was a little startled when he took a step closer to me. We were touching now. Both of his hands were on my arms.
"Just relax," he said in a normal voice. "I realize that I'm very close to you right now, but that's for your own good. I don't want you to fall."
"Yes. Very soon now, you're going to be asleep. Just relax and don't worry about that. I'll catch you when that happens."
"Um... " I didn't know how to respond to that, or what to say. He continued to speak in a normal voice. In fact, his voice was much louder than it was when he had been talking about Billy.
"Close your eyes, please," he continued. "That's it. Very good. Now relax. I can feel the tightness in your arms, and I want to feel them relax now. Yes, perfect. Very good. And now, I want you to tell me... where is it that you feel the most relaxed? Where do you look forward to relaxing?"
"In the bathtub," I said immediately.
"Wonderful. That's a great place to relax. And so, now I want you to relax even more... and I want you to think about being in the bathtub. Completely relaxed and limp all over. And the water is warm and it feels delicious on your skin... and all over your body. And that's all you can feel now... just the water. You feel warm and safe, and you can no longer feel my hands on your arms... "
"They're going to catch me," I said.
"Yes... they'll catch you, but you can't feel them anymore, can you, Betty? Take a deep breath and relax even more in the warm, wonderful water, and tell me... What can you feel?"
"The water. It feels wonderful."
"Excellent," he enthused. "Take one more deeeeep breath for me... that's it... and relax even more. Yes. And in your dream, you open your eyes and look down at yourself in the bathtub... at your lazy, lazy, totally relaxed body. And... what do you see?"
"My nipples are hard, peeking up above the surface," I answered, because they were.
I heard a woman's giggle that was suddenly stifled; but as I puzzled over this, he said: "And can you hear the bathtub tap dripping, Betty? That's all you can hear, here in your wonderful, relaxing bath. That... and the gently sloshing water in the tub. Isn't that so?"
Maybe I'd just imagined the giggle. "Yes," I said.
"And that's all there is in your world now. Just you and the bath. And you're SO relaxed now, that you know you're going to nod off... take a little nap... go to sleep. And there's nothing to keep you from letting this happen, is there? And there's no reason why you shouldn't allow yourself that pleasure. Is there?"
"And so, when you hear me snap my fingers, you'll give in... and you'll experience the total pleasure of just letting go, and surrendering to sleep. You're so sleepy and relaxed now, that that is what you want the most... more than anything else in the world. Isn't that right."
"Wonderful, Betty. Good girl."
SNAP! I was having a dream now. And that made sense; I'd fallen asleep in the tub. In my dream, I was looking into Tony's eyes. Tony the hypnotist. When I did that, and when he told me to relax and feel tired, it happened. I wasn't really sure WHY it happened... but it did. Every single time. And I fell asleep when he snapped his fingers. Every single time. And I never, ever fell down, because he was always there to catch me. And then, after awhile, he'd count to three, and I'd wake up. It happened a lot. Lots of times. I liked it when he snapped his fingers the most. That's because the feeling I got when I surrendered and fell asleep for him was... good. No, it was great! Better than great... fantastic! The best feeling in the world! Holy cow... I could really get used to THIS feeling! Mmmmm.
"One two three." He said it very matter-of-factly, but I dutifully woke up. "How do you feel now, Betty?"
I smiled up at him. "Great! I feel great!" I was mildly surprised to find that everyone in the room was looking at me. "Did I bark like a dog?" I asked. There was a smattering of laughter.
"That doesn't really matter, does it?" Tony responded.
I blushed a little. "No. People know that it's not my fault."
"Right," he said. He looked very happy with me, and so I felt happy, too. I must have done well. "You are an especially good hypnotic subject," he added, beaming. "You are wonderfully suggestible."
"Um... thank you."
"You're welcome. And now, I'm going to put you to sleep one more time, okay?"
"And this time," he continued, "you're going to feel an overwhelming compulsion to tell everyone the truth."
"I always tell the truth," I informed him.
"And... you'll continue to be wonderfully suggestible. In fact, there won't be a suggestion that you WON'T follow."
"Just look right in my eyes. Yes... that's it. And relax. Yes, just like that. And be sleepy for me. And... " SNAP!
Gosh, this felt great. Better than great. "And now," he said, "open your eyes." I did. "Say hello to everyone... and tell them how you feel."
"Hi," I said. "I... I feel like I'm still dreaming... but I'm awake, too. At least... I'm sort of awake. And, I'm really... fuzzy." I blushed because everyone was looking at me. "But... I feel GREAT!" A few people laughed and there was some light applause.
"Betty," Tony said casually, "I've had a lot of people comment to me that they think you are very beautiful."
I blushed even more. "Thank you... I guess."
"You don't think you're beautiful?" he pressed.
I shrugged. "I don't know. I guess I'm pretty. Guys keep hitting on me." There was more laughter.
"Well," he said, "I think you're perfect."
That made me frown. "But... I'm not! Nobody's perfect."
"Well... I think you are."
"I'm NOT!" I persisted.
"Just name one thing about you that's NOT perfect," he challenged.
I didn't have to think about that one. "My breasts. There. I told you. My breasts aren't perfect!"
He openly looked at my chest. I guess everybody in the room did. "They look perfect to me," he said stubbornly. "What's wrong with them?"
Now I was REALLY blushing. "I... I don't want to tell you."
He smiled at that. "I suggest that... now that you've mentioned them... you HAVE to tell us what's wrong with them. And... show us."
I gasped. "Oh, no Tony! I... I really don't want to do that!"
"I suggest you do."
I looked down at myself... then up at the crowd. "I... I have puffies," I explained.
Tony canted his head and gazed harder at my chest. "You have... WHAT?"
"Puffies," I said resignedly. A few people were laughing, but others were clearly as puzzled as Tony. EVERYBODY was staring! "Oh, gosh!" I muttered. I knew that I'd never be able to explain... I'd have to show them. I reached behind my neck and undid the halter. A sudden hush fell over the whole room. I closed my eyes for a moment, then lowered the top of the dress to my waist. You could hear a pin drop. Silence. I swallowed. "See?" I persisted. "Puffies."
Tony was seemingly just as uncomfortable as I was. "I... uh... don't see the problem," he stuttered, still staring.
I sighed in exasperation and poked at the offending area. "There!" I told him emphatically. "See?"
"Uh... you mean... your areolas?"
"Well... duh!" I said, irritated. "Yes! They're all puffed up!"
"Oh, you dear, sweet, innocent fool!" a woman in the audience said quietly. I looked at her curiously, trying to remember her name. She was somebody's secretary. "Half the women here would KILL to have tits like yours, honey," she told me.
I blinked at her. "Really?" I asked.
Tony cleared his throat. "Tell me, Betty," he said contemplatively. "Is there any woman here this evening that you think has BETTER breasts than you?"
That one was easy. "Yes. Absolutely. HER!" I pointed. The girl I had singled out suddenly smiled nervously at me.
"You seem pretty sure of yourself," Tony commented. "What makes you so certain?"
"I've seen them," I explained to everyone. There were some snickers. "No," I said emphatically, "I HAVE! Upstairs... while I was looking for the bathroom. She was in one of the spare bedrooms, making love to her boyfriend." And... in an instant, the room was silent again. I looked around nervously. "I... um... didn't look for very long. Just for a moment. Honest."
"You goddamned son of bitch!" a woman in the back of the crowd exclaimed quietly. "Just had some business to talk over, huh?"
A male voice answered: "Honey... now, let me explain!"
I looked back to the woman I had seen upstairs, and the smile had been replaced by a look of abject horror. It took me a moment to comprehend. For some reason, my thought processes weren't quite up to par. "Oh my gosh!" I said in despair. "He wasn't your boyfriend! I... I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to... "
"Betty," Tony barked, "I suggest that you should shut up now. And... that you should just stand there, and... relax... and feel good."
"Okay," I replied, smiling, and I did exactly that. Most of the men in the room continued to stare at my puffy tits.
"Gladys!" Tony shouted to the woman in the back... the one with the son of a bitch husband or boyfriend or whatever he was. She had just started walking toward the door, but she stopped and looked patiently back at the company president. "Gladys, could you please stick around for just a few more minutes? I have a feeling that we might be able to straighten out a few things. They may not be QUITE as bad as we think." She was crying, but she nodded her silent consent and stood her ground.
Tony then strode over to the dark-haired hussy with the great boobs. She... for her part... looked like a mouse that had just seen an eagle swooping toward her with no possible means of escape. "M... Mister Bionicci... Sir... I... "
He silenced her with a single upraised finger. "Belinda, we have some hard feelings here. I don't like that. I need you to help me solve that problem."
"Mr. Bionicci, I'm SO sorry! We... No, I... I just got carried away. But please... PLEASE... I love this job! Don't fire me, sir! Please... "
"That's enough, Belinda. We'll talk about that later. Right now, I was hoping that you could help me with the entertainment. Betty and me, that is."
She blinked a few times. "What?" She blinked a few more times. "You... you mean... you want to hypnotize me? Like... like HER?" She pointed at me. I smiled delightedly back. Oh, Miss Sweet Tits was just going to LOVE this! "Sir," she continued, "you don't have to do that. I'll show everybody my breasts right now!" She began unbuttoning her blouse.
Tony put a hand on her shoulder, and she stopped. Then, he leaned purposefully forward and put his lips next to her ear. Obviously, I couldn't hear what he was saying, but this Belinda girl nodded. There was a long pause, and she nodded again... then said "Yes, sir." He obviously kept speaking to her, and a few people near them sort of leaned in their direction, attempting to overhear. Every now and then, she'd nod again. Obviously a very agreeable girl, Belinda. After about a minute, I saw her eyes flutter. Ooohh, it was happening! He was doing it to her! I wished it was me... I knew how good she was about to feel. And then her eyes closed and her head sank to his shoulder, her arms hanging at her sides. He kept talking for another minute while a few people near them chuckled every now and then.
Finally, she stood up straight and opened her eyes. Then, she looked around and smiled while unbuttoning her blouse and removing it. She idly handed the garment to a guy next to her, before reaching behind her back and unclasping her bra... which she also handed to the guy. Finally, she walked over and stood beside me. I decided that I'd ignore Tony's suggestion not to talk, and I told her: "I'm sorry I got you into trouble."
She smiled at me. "That's okay. I deserved it. My bad."
Tony was beside us now. "Betty... Belinda here is going to help me convince you that your breasts are really very nice."
"She is?" I asked. "How?"
"I'll show you. But first, I think that there's something Belinda wants to say to Gladys, in the back there. Isn't there, Belinda?"
"I am SO sorry, Mrs. Rodman. PLEASE don't blame Eric! It wasn't his fault! I'd had a little too much to drink... and I've always thought he was an attractive man. But let's face it, he's just a man. He didn't stand a chance!" She reached up and cupped her breasts to illustrate her point, and a several people in the audience laughed; but Belinda kept a serious face. The husband in question buried his face in his hands while Gladys, in the back, beside him, looked from him to the half-naked brunette beside me. Finally, she nodded and hooked her arm through her husband's.
"Wonderful," Tony declared. "And now, Belinda, please tell Gladys what else you've decided to do."
"Well," Belinda stated, dropping her arms back to her sides, "tomorrow, I'm going to come back here and let Mr. Bionicci hypnotize me again. All day, if he needs to. That's so he can prepare me for my new job! I'm going to transfer out of Eric's division; and now, I'm going to be working as a secretary to the Cellini brothers, in accounting. All three of them! And I promise that I'll never see Eric again! I won't even be working in the same building. But anyway, I'm SO happy that I still have a job! I'd do ANYTHING to keep working here! Anything! Honest!"
"Good enough, Gladys?" Tony asked, loud enough to be heard in the back.
There was a moment's silence before she answered. "Yes, Tony. Thank you." And she led her husband away.
"And now, Betty," Tony continued, turning back to me. "I've decided that your problem is that you are judging the quality of your breasts when your nipples aren't erect. I bet THAT will make them really beautiful."
I felt my forehead crease as I thought about that. "I... um... How are you going to do that?"
"Oh... it wouldn't be appropriate for ME to do it! I've asked Belinda to help me."
I thought some more. "No. I don't want that. I don't really CARE if they're beautiful or not." I shrugged. "It's never really been important, anyway. I don't care WHAT people think about me. I was just pointing out that there was SOMETHING about me that was... um... "
"Isn't there SOMEONE that you'd like to show your breasts to?" he asked. "Isn't there SOME man that you hope will find your breasts beautiful?"
Without meaning to, I turned and looked up the side staircase, thinking. Was HE watching me right now? Would it matter to HIM? My thoughts were SO muddled! "I... I don't know, Tony."
"I suggest that you DO want to know, Betty. I think that it's an excellent idea for you to find out... for HIS sake. Don't you?"
Well, when he put it like that, it sort of made sense. I was SO glad that Tony was here to help me think while I was so confused. "Okay."
"Wonderful! Alright, Belinda, see if you can make Betty's nipples erect. That way, we can see if her breasts look better."
I turned toward her, and she toward me; and immediately, her hands came up and began to stroke my breasts. I gasped, and then took a deep, ragged breath. After only thirty seconds, she changed tactics, and her fingernails began tracing circles all over my puffy areolas, all around my nipples. Little lightning bolts of pleasure began radiating from my breasts up and down my chest and spine. I started to pant. Everyone was quiet, watching intently. Without warning, she bent forward and sucked my left nipple into her mouth. I gasped again and tried not to moan, but when she shifted to the right one, I couldn't contain it. My hand went up involuntarily to the back of her head.
"That's enough for our little experiment," Tony said sharply, and she pulled away from me.
"Can I kiss her, Mr. Bionicci?" she asked urgently. "Please? Just once?"
I imagine that Tony was contemplating this for a moment, but I didn't turn toward him to see. Belinda was looking into my eyes with a hunger that was startling. "Well... alright, I guess" he answered. "Just one... in the name of science."
I started to draw back away from her, but she followed me. "Just pretend it's HIM," she told me directly, but loud enough to be heard by everyone.
And then, her lips were on mine. They seemed urgent, needy, and very, very soft. But then, they were gone. And oddly, the only thing I could think of to say was: "But... that's not where I want to kiss him!" The room was hushed for one second, and then everyone laughed. Everyone. I considered explaining my comment... I considered telling them: "But... that's not even where his mouth IS!" However, I did NOT say that, because it wasn't any of their business. It was private. A thought. A fantasy.
Tony called for order in the room. "And finally, as Betty looks down at her breasts, I suggest she is going to be very happy to find that, now that her nipples are erect, her breasts are perfect. Just perfect. And... if HE ever sees them, I'm sure that he's going to think they're beautiful, too. Just like the rest of her." He bowed and held out a hand toward Belinda and me, and everyone clapped and cheered. I didn't pay a lot of attention. I was too busy looking down at my breasts. They really were pretty this way. Beautiful, really. Why had I been so self-conscious about them?
"Time to get dressed, girls! Demonstration's over!" he cried. For a moment, I didn't really want to cover up my perfect breasts, but I did as he said, putting the halter strap back around my neck. I had a bit of trouble with it, and Belinda turned me and tied it for me. Somehow, the guy that she'd handed her clothes to had lost her bra, so she had to put on the blouse without it.
And then, Tony counted to three.
TO BE CONTINUED
May 11, 2018 in romance