Fair Trade 2.1 Twelve Hours: Down the Rabbithole

Jillian slapped the alarm clock and stretched, blinking in the early sunlight. She felt far more rested than she had in days—finally, proper deep sleep without tossing and turning as her mind raced.

She rolled out of bed, realized she was naked, and snatched up her robe. Even living alone, she just hadn't been able to shake the discomfort with showing off that much of her body. Gary teased her about it all the time, and wasn't the first to do so. She headed for the bathroom to shower.

The collar around her throat caught her eye in the mirror. How had she forgotten about that? Blushing, she reached up to unfasten it. She couldn't go to work with it on. People had been fired for less outrageous fashion choices.

It wouldn't come off.

With her heartbeat starting to speed up, she leaned closer to the mirror, turning the collar so she could see the buckle.

The tongue was fused in place at both ends, turning the entire thing into a single smooth solid piece of metal hardware that showed no indication that it had ever been possible to move any part of it. Unless she had a way to cut through the thick band itself, which she knew she didn't, there was just no way that collar was coming off.

Hands braced on the bathroom counter, she closed her eyes, trying to slow her rapid breathing. What was she going to do? Call in sick? But she clearly remembered Min telling her to go to work today and to expect to be off tomorrow. Nothing in there about getting fired. And she wasn't supposed to come to harm, surely losing her job would count as harm? What should she do?

She should shower and get ready for work, and trust that somehow, this wasn't going to be a catastrophe. She had already waded into waters completely past her depth, and had a sinking feeling she had yet to find out just how deep they really went.

She took a final deliberate breath, opened her eyes, and stepped into the shower, trying to pretend that it was just an ordinary morning. The collar got wet, of course, and she could feel it around her neck even after the rest of her was dry. It was far more uncomfortable mentally than it was physically.

No one on the bus paid any attention to the woman in the knee-length grey skirt and sky-blue blouse with a black and green glossy snakeskin collar around her neck, but then, even in a smallish city, people ignored a lot. Walking into the office still took all her courage, and she found herself tensing up, preparing for nasty comments or sidelong looks and snickering.

Except that... nothing happened. She exchanged the same greetings as any other morning, and saw no difference in the way anyone around her behaved.

Maybe they couldn't see it? If Min could make herself look, alternately, like a goddess and like a regular human woman, then maybe she could make it so that people couldn't see the collar.

It still felt like a fragile thing to trust in, but what choice did she really have? Hoping fervently that whatever magic kept people from noticing the collar continued to function, she made her way to her desk and tried to calm herself enough to concentrate on another day's work.

An accounting degree, and she paid her bills by sending people unpleasant notices about theirs being overdue for payment and approving payment plans. Not what she'd intended to do with her life. It was reliable, though, and paid reasonably well, and had decent benefits. It was hard to want to jeopardize that security.

When she spotted her immediate supervisor, she left her desk to corner him in the break-room. That made her apprehensive on multiple levels, since he was the one who persistently ignored her insistence that he speak to her as one professional to another.

“What's up, darlin'?” he asked, opening the fridge.

“I'm going to need tomorrow off. I had to book an emergency dentist appointment. They can't promise I'll get in on time, since it's short notice. If I'm all swollen and all, I'll be no use here. So I think I should probably just take the whole day as a sick day.”

He shrugged. “Fine. Go get that tooth taken care of, babe, we can do without you for the day without the whole place falling into ruin. Can't have you running around with a sore tooth acting like it's PMS squared or something, and it's kinda unlikely you're taking a Friday off for a party.”

Jillian forced herself to take a deep slow breath. There was just no point getting into it right now, she had other things on her mind. At least she could be quite sure the collar was invisible, since there was zero chance Brett would have failed to say something about it. Almost certainly something rude. She simply nodded, thanked him, and went back to her desk.

She texted Gary to tell him she was exhausted, might be coming down with something, and really didn't feel like company tonight, that all she wanted was a bath and her bed. He told her to look after herself and promised to see her soon.

Concentrating on work was nearly as difficult as it would have been with a genuine toothache.

Midway through the afternoon, she found her thoughts drifting towards Min. That touch on her cheek that had stirred something inside. The flush of warmth in response to Min's praise. The fear of what was going to happen to her during those twelve hours. The faith in her friend that tempered the fear, and turned it into something that wasn't exactly fear or exactly unpleasant, although that roused an entirely different sort of fear. Above all else, wanting to see her. That would be easy, just walk out of here, catch the bus, go to Min's apartment. That was something she should do. Right now. She should do it now.

She caught herself before she began putting her things in her purse to leave. No, she couldn't yet. She still had another hour to go.

The desire to go to Min grew, slowly but steadily.

She scooped up her phone, found Min's number, and sent her a quick text. «I can't get away from work yet. I'll be there ASAP I promise!»

Min's reply was simply, «I know.»

Jillian found herself watching the clock more than actually getting any work done. This felt like a cage, one made up of slow ticks of the clock, seconds dragging by. Illogically, she was sure that each second took several seconds to pass. She wanted, no, she needed to go. She owed a debt and it was time to pay it. The thought crept in irregularly that she should be terrified by the uncertainty of what she might have to do during twelve hours of... service. For twelve hours, you belong to me, Min had said. That thought, having formed once, kept crawling back to the surface. Twelve hours belonging to an inhuman owner who was also her kind patient friend.

She wasn't quite sure what it was exactly that kept her heart beating faster, her breathing a bit fast and shallow. While her mouth was dry, her skin damp with sweat... and not only her skin was damp. It was some side effect of the bargain, it had to be. Or a physiological response to her heightened adrenaline. Or both. That would account for it.

The instant she could, Jillian fled. She fidgeted at the bus stop, fretted on the ride to the stop nearest Min's apartment, and might well have tested whether she could run in her two-inch pumps had Min's place been any farther from the stop. She pressed the buzzer and waited.

No words, just the click of the door unlocking. She pulled it open and hastened through the foyer to Min's ground-floor unit towards the back of the smallish apartment building.

The door was ajar, so she pushed it open cautiously. “Min?”

“Come in,” Min said. “Lock the door behind you. Leave your purse on the coat-rack, it'll be safe there.”

Jillian closed the door and flipped the lock shut, hung her purse on an empty hook on the black metal coat-rack, and oriented on Min. It felt like every nerve in her body was screaming at her to get closer.

Min was currently relaxing in one corner of the soft dark couch with her feet tucked up beside her. The flat-screen TV across the room was turned off, but there was music playing from somewhere, a mellow instrumental Jillian didn't recognize.

The living room was familiar space, comfortable and tasteful, set up with enough clear space for Min to manoeuvre in her chair. Furnishings tended towards black metal and dark green fabrics, though in contrast, the walls were a warm pale cream and the hardwood floors and trim were light maple or oak. Two plants in large floor pots flanked the window; there were a few nicknacks, a beautiful framed painting on one wall showing a lily-strewn pond in a forest clearing, though no rugs anywhere.

The most striking was a life-sized statue of a woman, in a casual pose, almost flirtatious with her hips canted sideways like that and her hand hovering near as if to draw attention there. Jillian had yet to figure out what it was made of. It looked like alabaster, white with a faint lustre, but it certainly wasn't stone—Min had given her permission to explore it by touch, and she knew that it was silken-smooth but had a slight give to it, a pleasing texture that simply invited one's fingertips to continue. Some sort of resin, maybe? Inlaid all over it were designs in what looked like gold and silver. Its mid-sized breasts had spirals around them, though the nipples were bare and the colour around them had a more honey tone; its waist was circled by a corset of gold and silver filigree. More gold and silver wreathed both thighs and spirals cupped its rounded lower cheeks, but made no effort to conceal that hairless groin. It adorned lower arms and the backs of gold-nailed hands, and even its face with its full smiling honey-coloured lips and an expression that looked somehow playful. Jaw-length hair was made of something black and soft and fine. The bright cobalt-blue eyes were rather startling against the rest.

Min held out a hand. Not entirely sure why, Jillian sank to her knees on the floor at Min's feet. The moment Min's hand touched her cheek, the driving need simply stopped.

“I'm sorry,” Jillian said. “I wanted to come, I would have come, but...”

“Hush. It's all right, dear. I understand. That compulsion was not of my creation. It's an inherent part of the bargain. I didn't think you were trying to back out. So. Everything is taken care of. In return for your brother pleading guilty to possession, the charges of trafficking will be dropped, and the possession charges will lead to probation, mandatory rehab and counselling, and an otherwise suspended sentence rather than prison time. He was not involved in the assault and there will be no evidence to mislead anyone into believing he was. Does that fulfil my side of the bargain?”

Jillian closed her eyes. “Yes,” she said quietly. “Perfectly. And thank you.” Just maybe that would be enough for her brother to sort himself out. If not, there was nothing more she could do.

And with the first word, she knew there was nothing to fear. Mistress didn't want her to feel anxious and afraid. Mistress wanted her to feel calm and safe, because her happiness mattered to Mistress. The fear remained, but she knew it was groundless, at least.

Jillian blinked. Where had that come from?

“Good. I'm having a small party tonight, a dozen or so friends and acquaintances. You get to help with preparations for it and keeping everyone supplied with drinks and food, and otherwise keep my guests happy. That won't be such a big deal, hm? I have something here for you to wear that will be appropriate. Because I have no desire to disrupt your relationship with Gary, I've already made it clear to them that sex as such is not permitted tonight. That isn't worth being frightened over, now, is it?”

Mistress wanted her to be reassured. And it was such a relief to have an answer, any answer let alone such a reasonable one, that she actually was relieved.

That gave her a warm sense of rightness. What Mistress wanted her to feel and what she felt were in alignment, and that was as proper and expected as dropping something and it falling to the ground. It was what should happen.

Wait, what?

But the little ripple of certainty that she was on the right track had been... rather nice. Comforting.

“Help?” Jillian echoed in confusion, latching on to something concrete. It was only one question of several, since it was rather unlikely over a dozen people could fit comfortably into this space, and why was there any question about sex? What kind of party was this?

Min chuckled, and let her hand fall. Jillian only realized then that Min had been gently stroking her cheek, her hair, her throat, all along, and only because she felt a strange disappointment that she'd stopped. “Turn around, dear. Flair, time to wake up.”

Jillian obediently twisted in place, and froze, her heart accelerating again.

The statue in the corner stirred, stretched, and focused on Min instantly. “Yes, Mistress? Is it time for Jillian and I to start getting ready for your party?” The clear voice sounded entirely human, and positively delighted.

Jillian could only stare, speechless. How could that even be real? The ex-statue moved like a real person, not stiffly or slowly at all—if anything, she moved more gracefully than many humans. Her expression was animated, and her breasts jiggled in their spiralled metal cages. But the fact remained that Jillian had seen her as a statue many times, and how could anyone look like they were made of alabaster with metal embedded into it?

“Yes, it is. Jill, this is Flair, my companion, handmaid, sometimes housekeeper and cook, and all-around right hand.” The affection in her voice was impossible to miss. “You've run into her before, but I was hiding her appearance at the time for obvious reasons. Now. I want you to listen to Flair and do what she tells you. You have an hour to get yourselves ready, and three hours to make certain everything is ready for my guests. That should be plenty of time, so I expect you to be done on time without excuses. Before my first guest arrives, the salon will be set up properly, food and drinks will be ready, and you will both be dressed properly.”

“Of course, Mistress,” Flair said.

The salon? Presumably it wasn't being used in it's usual English sense. Her spotty recollection of frrench from school suggested that it meant a room, but she couldn't remember more than that. But the apartment consisted only of this room and the mostly-open kitchen and a short hall to the bathroom and single bedroom.

“Come on, Jillian,” Flair said. “I'll show you where the bathroom is. The real one. It won't take me very long but it'll be a bit more complicated helping you get ready.”

“Remember, please,” Min said. “Unfamiliar does not equate to dangerous. Nothing in my home will do you harm. Things may feel strange and almost certainly you'll be frightened by that strangeness more than once in the next twelve hours, but you will be safe.”

“I'll try,” Jillian said, hoping she sounded less uncertain of that than she felt. She was supposed to go with a woman of alabaster and metal to a room that should not exist here. She'd given up all power over her own fate for the next twelve hours. You belong to me, Min had said. For twelve hours, her own desires and discomfort were meaningless, because she was—temporarily—property.

The thought brought back that sick feeling of being not just out of her depth, but increasingly far from shore.

But at the same time, something inside felt warm and tight, and she suspected that she'd find her panties were damp. That must be something about the bargain, right? If it could fill her with a desperate need to go to her Mistress, then it could probably play with other feelings to make her... what, more receptive?

She got up, feeling oddly clumsy compared to Flair, and took a step towards her.

Yes, that was right, she was doing what Mistress had said.

She blinked, and hoped fervently that whatever was going on in her head, it stopped at the end of the twelve hours—and that it really was only twelve hours. It only occurred to her now that there were stories of people taken by supernatural forces who were gone for hundreds of years in the real world but swore it was only a night with the fairies, and more rarely, stories that went the opposite direction. Was twelve hours the same in this weird reality of animated statues as it was in her normal one?

Flair led her towards the short hallway, and opened the door that should have led to the bedroom.

But they stepped through into an immense bright room with a ceiling that had to be two storeys high—and tall ones at that. One wall was curved outwards and made all of glass, with a collection of plants in standing and hanging pots blooming into flowers like nothing Jillian had ever seen. The rest of the room was smooth grey stone, walls and floor alike. Most of the furniture consisted of luxurious-looking long benches, some with backs, some with a single scrolled arm, some with neither, all elaborately-carved and inlaid dark wood and upholstered with rich-looking multi-hued dark fabric. Scattered among them were several tables, with cabinets under them, matching the seating.

“This is the only way in and out of Mistress' villa,” Flair said. “That's the salon there, where Mistress has company over.” She gestured to a massive pair of double doors, metal-bound solid wood, directly opposite the windowed wall. They'd come through a door of normal size, now closed, though the bedroom door hadn't been that same heavy wood on the other side. It was one of three on that wall. “I'll show you that in a bit. Right now, we need this one.” Flair opened the centre door, which was perceptibly larger than the two flanking it, and beckoned.

The corridor beyond was wider than Jillian was used to in residential buildings, and the ceiling was higher, but neither one to an extraordinary degree—six feet wide, maybe? Fifteen feet high? She'd been in old houses occasionally with high ceilings and this didn't seem much worse. The doors they passed were also wider and a bit taller. It all combined to give her the disquieting sensation of being a child in an adult space.

“Bathroom is here,” Flair said, opening a door and ushering her into another huge room. “Are you all right?”

Well, there was the question of where they were, because this definitely was not part of Min's apartment in any normal sense.

“Everything is so big.” Here, too. The tub could probably hold three people easily. She would not have been surprised if that and the sink were real marble, and she wouldn't have wagered anything on the fixtures being merely brass. One entire wall was mirrored; the others were covered with beautiful decorated blue and white tiles, and the floor tiles were a medley of small tiles of so many rippled shades of blue it felt eerily like walking on water.

“Mistress needs a bit more space, whether she's in her chair pretending to be human or in her real form. Fae come in lots of different shapes and sizes. Some are so small you could hold them in one hand, and some are giants. They can change size, of course, and they do when they need to, but some are better at it than others and the greater the change, the more tiring it is.”

“Are you...?” She trailed off, wondering whether she was being rude and what would happen if she offended Flair.

Flair only laughed. “I'm not fae. I'm human.”

That was not an answer Jillian was ready for.

“There are fae who consider modifying human appearance to be an art form,” Flair added. “They're good at it, aren't they?” She stretched, posing, then relaxed with a grin. “For a while I was all wood and leaves and flowers and Mistress called me Fleur instead. Being Felis and Filly were both fun too. I don't know which one I like best. But it isn't up to me anyway. Which is part of the fun, not knowing. Like a wrapped present.”

Jillian tried to decide what part of that was the most horrifying, but they finished in a dead heat. How could the same woman she'd considered such a trusted friend do this to the girl? And it sounded like Flair had been here a lot longer than a few days.

Flair paused to see if Jillian had anything to say, then shrugged. “Anyway, we only have an hour to get ready. You need to hop in the shower.” She reached across the tub to tap the glass bottle and two squat jars resting on a convenient ledge. “This one,” she indicated the bottle of something bright dandelion yellow, “goes on your hair. It's the best conditioner ever. Use lots and work it in really thoroughly as soon as your hair's wet, and leave it in until you're done and rinse it off last. This one,” she tapped the jar of something pale pink, “is skin cleanser. Don't get it near your eyes, but you need to rub it all over, and I mean really absolutely everywhere, and then scrub it off. There are a couple of clean washcloths in the shower for that. I'll do your back for you, and I'll show you how much of your face you can safely do. The green one,” she tapped the top of the pale green jar, “is for just around your eyes. Even if it gets in them, it won't hurt, so you can clean up the makeup you're wearing.” She regarded Jillian expectantly.

“I, um...”


“I really don't like undressing with other people around,” Jillian confessed, blushing, self-consciousness overriding everything else.

It felt wrong, though, on some deep subtle level she was barely even aware of consciously. Like someone singing a favourite song off-key in the next room and mangling the lyrics, it was background noise but it was unpleasant and irritating. Mistress said to do what Flair told her, so in resisting, she was struggling against Mistress' wishes.

Flair didn't laugh. She only tilted her head sideways thoughtfully, then shrugged. “I could leave, but I seriously doubt you'll get through tonight without running into things you don't like, and most of it, you won't be able to avoid.” Her words were matter-of-fact, but her expression showed only sympathy. “Mistress wants her pets happy and safe, but she's fae and so are her friends, and right now, you're as much her pet as I am, even if for you that stops after twelve hours. And the consequences of kicking up a fuss or disobeying are more or less guaranteed to be worse than anything Mistress would actually expect from you, plus she'll be disappointed. You asked Mistress for something you wanted a lot, and the price is that for twelve hours, it doesn't matter what you want, you just do what she wants. If you can just accept that, then tonight will be easy and you might even enjoy some of it, which would probably make Mistress happy. But if you can't...” Another shrug. “It'll be harder, but it'll all happen anyway. We need to get on with this. Being late getting ready isn't a good way to start. Okay?”

Jillian closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She'd agreed to this, to keep Doug from spending much longer than twelve hours in prison, which was a worse setting—probably. She'd been promised repeatedly that she'd be safe, Min had specifically promised that she wouldn't have to have sex with anyone. And she really didn't have a choice. Any power that could rearrange reality and make a human look like Flair wasn't something she could fight, even if she wanted to renege on her debt. She rather doubted she was going to see anyone here who was a part of any other aspect of her life, other than Min herself.

Which meant she really needed to just resign herself to having to do things regardless of her own comfort level, and do them with the best grace she could muster. She'd done things before that she wasn't comfortable with, for her family, and for Gary, and for that matter, she'd gotten resigned to most of her current job consisting of doing things she'd much rather not do. This, at least, wasn't going to make anyone else's life worse. She could do this.

The sense of wrongness in the back of her mind faded into a rather pleasant warmth. Yes, that was better. That was what Mistress wanted. If she trusted Mistress and did what Mistress wanted, everything would go smoothly.

Where are those thoughts coming from?

On the other hand, they generally seemed to point her in the right direction. And they did bring a whisper of calm and reassurance that helped fight her apprehension.

With a sigh, she stepped out of her shoes and began to strip off her jewellery; Flair simply held out a hand for it, deposited earrings and necklace in a drawer near the sink, then held out her hand again for Jillian's clothes.

It got harder once she was out of skirt and blouse.

Mistress needs me clean and dressed right. Mistress said to listen to Flair.

The thoughts distracted her enough that she could unfasten her bra and peel off her pantyhose and wriggle out of her panties. The latter were damp enough to make her blush again. It had to be those intrusive thoughts and their insidious, almost subliminal, pleasant feelings, surely a way of making her more compliant. Or it was her adrenaline levels. It had to be.

But they did feel rather nice.

I belong to Mistress and I'll obey her, she thought experimentally as she stepped into the huge tub and drew the curtain around, and felt that gentle rightness.

I don't want to be here and I'm not going to cooperate, they'll have to force me.

That thought brought that sense of discord back again.

She hastily corrected herself while she adjusted the temperature and switched it to shower. Nothing is my choice right now except cooperating or resisting. The same things will happen either way. Mistress wants me to cooperate. So I will.

There, that was better.

She just hoped those intrusions were going to stop, and weren't going to leave anything behind. But for right now, anything that was going to make it easier for her to live up to her side of the bargain was a blessing.

“Am I allowed to ask questions?” Jillian asked. Hair first, Flair said, and she felt that rightness as she picked up the yellow bottle. The water pressure was higher than she'd ever had in an apartment, the many thin streams thumping against her skin. It took only seconds for her short hair to be saturated.

“As long as it's while you're doing other things, yes. Most things I can answer.”

“What will this party be like?” The yellow conditioner was thick and viscous. It was going to take some effort to get it all the way through her hair.

“If it's like the usual ones, it'll just be a few of Mistress' friends getting together, maybe a few others she has some debt to. I haven't seen the guest list yet, but her friends are not the sort who are cruel to humans just because they can be. Different kinds of fae like or need different things. Our job is to make sure they have the right food or drink or whatever they want. I've done it alone lots of times, although I get pretty tired by the end and I usually beg Mistress to let me be a statue for a day or so straight so I can rest. With two of us serving, it'll be easier. If any of them were invited because of a debt, they probably won't bother talking to us at all. If they do, be extremely polite and respectful, and never ask them questions other than clarifying orders if you don't understand. And never lie to them, they'll know if you do. Um, and don't stare at them, no matter what they look like and no matter what they do. They aren't going to be pretending to be human in looks or behaviour. Tell me when you need extra hands.”

“I, um, I will. Tell you, I mean.”

“Anything else you want to know? A lot, I bet.”

“Yes, but I don't know where to start. How long have you been here?”

“With Mistress, you mean? Ten years, maybe? Twelve? I'm not allowed to talk about anything before that with anyone unless Mistress gives me permission. But I'm happy living with her and I wouldn't want anything else. She promised me that I could stay with her forever. Which means as long as I'm alive, because fae live a really long time. She won't send me away or give me to another fae or anything.”

That couldn't be a genuine free-willed desire, could it? How could anyone honestly want to be property for life? Was that what happened from too much of those internal murmurs, the little nudges that encouraged the right thoughts? That was an alarming idea.

She'd made a huge mistake, doing this. She just needed to endure tonight, then life could be normal again.

“Are you okay? You went quiet.”

“I think I'm going to stop asking questions,” Jillian said with a sigh. “I'm mostly regretting asking them after I get answers.” The yellow conditioner was coating as much of her hair as she could manage, so she set the bottle down, rinsed her hands, and unscrewed the top of the pink jar, giving it a cautious sniff. It did smell lovely, without being eye-wateringly perfumed. What was that, vanilla? No, it was mint. Or was it chocolate? She liked it, anyway. She used two fingers to scoop some out and spread it on her forearm. That triggered that little voice again, and the corresponding feeling of doing the right thing, which was by definition anything Mistress wanted her to do.

“I don't understand why,” Flair said, “but all right. That skin cleanser feels really incredible, and it makes your skin feel all soft and moisturized, and it smells nice too. Get it all over every inch of you. Down between your legs and all. Some fae have a really acute sense of smell, you need to be extremely clean.” She giggled. “Although no matter how clean or not, humans still smell good to Nikandros.”

The pale pink goop tingled on her arm, warm without discomfort—something less disturbing to concentrate on. She used her palm to spread it farther, and discovered quickly that it was persistent stuff: the water's spray didn't rinse it away like soap, though it was possible to spread it into a very thin layer that made her skin look pale pink. As she worked, that feeling of rightness lingered, strong enough to tickle disturbing feelings between her legs. She lifted the collar with one hand so she could get the skin underneath with the other, though it made her even more acutely aware of its weight and texture.

The pink goop's tingling only grew stronger the longer it was in contact. It felt as though every touch receptor in her skin was active, the contact with the water exacerbating it on those areas, a thousand drumming fingers. It felt... good. Very good. With a shaking hand, she smeared a palmful between her legs, over her outer lips, then hesitated. Did she really want this stuff on territory that was sensitive and private?

But if there was any chance of her own body odour being an issue... and Flair had emphasized more than once that it was to go everywhere... and that was what Mistress wanted.

Gritting her teeth, trying not to think about what this was going to do, she parted her lips with one hand, and slathered cleanser over the whole area between them, across the mouth of her vagina but not inside, across her inner labia and clit.

She would not have believed it was possible to feel so aroused.

I belong to a fae mistress, I'm in a shower that might not be anywhere on a map, I'm covered in some kind of stuff that could do anything but is certainly making me feel much too good... How the hell can I be so turned on?

It's just the pink gunk. Or the adrenaline. Or the stuff being put in my head.

“How are you doing?” Flair asked. “Tell me when you're ready for me to do your back.”

“Um... I think now?” Any reluctance to be seen or touched was shrivelling in the heat. Her heart was pounding too hard, her breathing was heading for fast and shallow, and the wetness on her inner thighs, she was humiliatingly certain, was not all water or pink goop.

Flair drew back one end of the curtain far enough to reach. The water spray slid off her altered skin the way it might off stone or metal, trickling along the edges of the metal inlay before dripping off. “Hand me the jar and turn around.” Briskly, she began to rub pink cleanser on Jillian's back with a hand that was just a little too firm and smooth, though very gentle. “It feels good, doesn't it? Too bad Mistress said no sex, or I could help. Get my tongue right down here,” with no more warning than that, she ran her slippery hand between Jillian's legs, two fingers sliding between her labia. Jillian gasped and flushed as, without any conscious decision, her legs parted wider invitingly. “And lick to get some of the edge off. Good, you got there too. Turn around, I'll do as much of your face as it's safe to do.”

Sure that she was bright red with embarrassment, Jillian turned around and closed her eyes, submitting to having pink goop spread delicately everywhere except the orbits of her eyes—Flair stayed just outside her eyebrows, though she came closer underneath, and right up against, although not directly onto, her lips.

“What's wrong?” Flair asked.

“I shouldn't be... shouldn't feel like this.” She definitely shouldn't be wondering what Flair's tongue would feel like, or contemplating whether Min's no-sex order included acts she initiated herself!

“Why not? It's not hurting anything. The cleanser's harmless. It's made for fae, though, and sometimes things made for them have a different effect on us. It feels good while it's on, and it'll make your skin feel nice afterwards, not dry or greasy, and it's certainly quicker and more pleasant than other wayus to get rid of extra hair, and otherwise it just gets you really thoroughly clean. So why is it bad? Once I finish this, I'll go get your uniform together and you can have a few minutes to help yourself, since I can't. Just remember we only have an hour and you need to clean around your eyes and lips, and it'll take you a little time to scrub it all off and rinse your hair, and we still have to do the rest. Okay?”

“Um... yes?” That light precise touch was only making things worse. So was that feeling of everything being right, because she was obeying Flair's instructions on Mistress' behalf.

“Good. Turn back around and I'll scrub it off your back for you. Be careful when you do your face so it doesn't go in your eyes. It takes a bit to get it off, but it's worth it.” Flair went at her back vigorously with one of the thick washcloths, Jillian bracing herself and trying to pretend that her clit wasn't throbbing dully. “There we go. There's a rope at the far end of the tub, just pull on it when you're done. I'll be next door in the dressing room.”


Flair rubbed her hands vigorously together under the water to get the pink cleanser off, then pulled the curtain back into place. A couple of fast heartbeats later, Jillian heard a door slide open, then closed again.

She slumped against the tiled wall, even the coolness of that, the subtle rippled texture, screaming messages to her brain. How was she supposed to function?

Was she really going to masturbate, here and now, like this?

She was in an impossible place, talking to an impossible woman who claimed to be quite happy as a lifelong fae slave, and had no choice in anything that was going to happen to her. She was coated literally head to toe in goop of unknown nature, with a little voice in her head rewarding her for thoughts about obedience and discouraging thoughts of rebellion, and her nervous system seemed to be in overdrive, making it hard to think about anything but how desperately turned on she was. And all she could do was hope desperately that everything she'd been told was the truth and she was going to get out of this intact without the voice in her head or these odd reactions persisting and that she didn't also end up as property.

Maybe Flair was right and it was possible to make it less overwhelming.

She braced both feet, as wide apart as she could while staying steady though the wall was taking much of her weight. With thumb and ring finger, she parted her engorged outer labia, giving access to the hot wet space between. Her index and middle fingers found her clit to be swollen and hard, and she heard herself whimper softly as she stroked it lightly.

This was absolutely mortifying, doing this, here, but it felt so good, and she couldn't bear to stop, she needed this so badly...

It didn't take much at all.

Her breath caught as every muscle clenched, shuddering in bliss with the gradually decreasing waves surging through every nerve.

Panting, she let her head drop forward with her hand still around her vulva, waiting for her heart to slow and her trembling to stop. She was quite certain that she'd never in her life had an orgasm that powerful.

And while she still felt aroused, it really was weaker now, easier to think past.

She had to get everything washed off and call Flair. She didn't know how long it would take to get dressed, or how much time Flair would need for herself.

Next time: getting dressed, another fae, an astonishing mirror reflection, and the last of the party prep work before the guests start to arrive. Things are not getting noticeably less peculiar!