Fair Trade 2.2 Twelve Hours: Before the Party

Something felt odd as she moved her hand. She brought it up into sight, and blinked.

Her palm was full of dark curly coarse hair.

She grabbed one of the washcloths, and hastily rubbed between her legs, wincing a little at the post-orgasm sensitivity of her clit. The cloth came away with quite a lot more hair embedded painlessly in the pink goop. A tentative touch found that her labia were now entirely free of any trace of hair, the skin smooth and soft, and the touch made her arousal start to climb again... or was it how her labia felt under her fingertips? How did they look?

Everywhere she scrubbed, and it did take some persistence to remove it entirely, she found that she'd lost her body hair right down to the finest. Even the dark roots from her shaved legs and underarms ended up on the cloth. From the neck down she thought she probably didn't have a single hair, and above that, only the ones on her head and her eyelashes and eyebrows.

It probably wasn't worth panicking over. Hair grew back, right? And this actually felt... rather nice. But Gary would certainly be surprised!

One thing left: she positioned herself under the spray so she could start washing the yellow goop out of her hair.

Which felt like too much hair.

That was not the short practical cut she was used to. Her fingers could comb through the heavy mass of it, helping the water carry away the so-called conditioner—although she couldn't say it didn't feel amazingly soft. While it was wet, she couldn't be sure, but she thought that it was darker than it should be, too.

All right. She could get it cut tomorrow, preferably before anyone who knew her saw her, and any change in colour she could laugh off as an impulsive moment. That wasn't a reason to panic either.

She took a moment to make sure there was nothing at all left on her skin... her so-smooth, so-sensitive skin... which, she observed, no longer had any blemishes at all. Moles had faded somewhat, and scars were the same tone as the surrounding skin and less perceptible to touch. The normal muted beige-brown colour remained, but it looked somehow less bland, and overall, her skin felt, well, younger, tight and supple and radiant. Combined with the lack of hair, she must look much better than after even the most expensive spa treatment.

She turned off the water and pulled back the curtain, stepping out onto the waiting bathmat, thick and welcoming under her toes.

Her own reflection made her eyes widen. Her less-than-athletic belly aside, she looked more than a bit fuckable. Even the skin of her C-cup breasts had tightened, and while they weren't defying gravity like a cartoon, they'd regained a firmness they'd gradually lost over the years. In the right clothes, she'd look... what? Not like a made-for-sex bimbo, not like a model, her hips were too broad and she was never going to be all willowy-slender, but... good. Really good.

Even if it had only been moments since her first orgasm, that was enough to push the hunger higher again. She perched on the edge of the tub, and found that she had no more difficulty with a quick orgasm than she had the first time. Nor was it any less intense.

Mistress is waiting.

Still quivering, she groped for the rope, and found herself stroking it, enjoying the weight and thickness, the slightly rough texture. She made herself yank on it and let go, then concentrated on standing up.

Flair reappeared through a sliding door of rippled blue and white glass panels, and smiled. “You look great! Here, let's get you dry.” She snatched up a couple of huge fluffy white towels, draped one around Jillian, and started towelling her hair vigorously with the other. “We'll be ready in time, for sure. Feel better?”

“Um... yes.” The need was definitely far duller than it had been, though she had a sinking feeling that it could rouse again all too easily. The reply came out a bit muffled, given how enthusiastic Flair was.

“That's good. I like your hair like this. It's a pretty colour. Come on, the dressing room is right here.”

Beyond the sliding door was a substantial room that held a matching suite of antique-looking elaborately inlaid wooden furniture: a wardrobe, a chest of drawers, a vanity table with a mirror, a short padded bench in front of the vanity and a longer one against a far wall. One wall, as in the bathroom, was a single unbroken mirror. A small mound of black and white fabric waited on the longer bench, with a pair of low boots with alarming heels on the floor next to it.

“Hm, clothes first,” Flair decided, and picked up a handful of thin black nylon. “Just drop the towels.”

“I can get dressed by myself.”

“Trust me, you'll need help. Here, put these on.”

Jillian untangled them, and found that they were black sheer thigh-high stockings with a rubber strip around the top inside to keep them in place, and a wide band of white lace around the outside at the top. She gathered each up, fitted it over her toes, and drew it carefully upwards, smoothing out any wrinkles. Against her hairless and sensitized skin, it felt distractingly sensual.

“Stand up. This is the bit you need help with.” Flair chose from the bench something satiny white that looked strangely rigid.

“No panties?” Jillian considered arguing, but that feeling of wrongness resurfaced until she stood up, then it turned back to the pleasant feeling of approval.

Flair sighed. “There's no need for them, and they'll just get in the way once you're all dressed. But if you really want them...”

“Please?”

Flair went to the chest of drawers, opened the top one, and without even looking pulled out a pair of white panties. Jillian tried not to grab them too rudely. All right, they were thin satiny stuff that left her hips bare, and they weren't going to do all that much to guard modesty or chastity, but they covered the area that currently felt entirely too exposed to absolutely everything including stray breezes.

“Feel better?” Flair asked tolerantly.

“Yes. Thank you.”

“If you change your mind later and decide they're in the way, you can take them off and leave them in here or in the bathroom. Move your arms out from your sides for a sec, please.” Flair wrapped the white thing around Jillian's torso and fastened eight or nine small simple metal clasps up the front. She slipped her hand under Jillian's breast to settle it properly in one cup, then repeated it on the other side, though Jillian yelped at the overly-familiar touch. Regardless of Jillian's protest, Flair stepped quickly around behind her and started to pull things that made it tighten. “You probably don't have a lot of experience wearing a corset, so I won't make it tight, I promise, but it'll look great anyway.”

Jillian squirmed in place. “I don't have any experience! Why on earth would I?”

“Why not? I'm fairly sure that some free human women that you'd consider normal and respectable just like how they feel, and not only because they can make you look and feel sexy. I'm not free, normal, or respectable, but I do. I wear one when I can.” She giggled. “I have a built-in one right now. Nice and snug, all the time. I'll miss it when Mistress has me changed again, but I miss things about other looks too. Anyway, your uniform won't look right without it, so you have to wear it.”

Jillian struggled to assess this as dispassionately as she could. A thousand movies aside, she wasn't having any trouble breathing, though she thought she might if she had to exert herself too much. The pressure around her abdomen wasn't uncomfortable, just strange. Probably it would restrict her range of motion somewhat, but she didn't think it would be too bad to work around. It unquestionably offered excellent support for her breasts, better than any bra she'd ever been able to find.

More difficult was the mental association of a corset with either old-fashioned sexist double standards or kinky fetish sex work.

“It would be better if there was time to get used to it slowly,” Flair reflected, as the tightening stopped. “Start with a couple of hours and gradually work up to longer. But that isn't an option, and I imagine Mistress will make sure you aren't in pain six hours from now or anything. That's not very tight at all, but it makes a big difference. See?”

Jillian allowed Flair to turn her to face the mirrored wall, and her eyes widened. Not a fetish-y sharp wasp waist, but it definitely flattened her tummy and created a sleek curve from the enticing orbs of her breasts down to her confined waist and flaring out to her broad hips. It was almost hypnotic: she was looking at the shape she'd wished for a long time she had.

Now that it was rapidly drying, it was clear that her hair fell to just past her shoulders in dense gleaming waves. It was no longer what she considered a rather drab brown, though; instead, it was a dark rich cherry-red that couldn't possibly occur in nature.

“Here, let's get your uniform and your shoes on, so you can see how the whole thing works. Then we'll take care of hair and makeup and you're all ready. Lucky it doesn't take me very long to get dressed.”

The uniform was black with white lace, but also what seemed to be a lot of white ruffly stuff.

Flair helped her step into it and pulled it up for her. It didn't really come as much of a surprise that it was a French maid uniform. This wasn't a cheap sex-shop knock-off or Hallowe'en costume made of flimsy polyester: it was heavy soft black satin that shimmered in the light, and the lace wasn't scratchy nylon stuff, it was smooth and lustrous. The neckline was low enough for a teasing glimpse of her now-impressive cleavage, the sleeves were short and puffy, and once Flair had fastened a lot of little hooks up her back, the body of it fit perfectly against her corseted curves. The alarmingly short skirt had layers of thinner white satin ruffles under it, keeping the black outer layer extended outwards. From what she could see in the mirror, it was definitely short enough for the lace at the top of her stockings to show. Which meant that bending over would give anyone behind her a clear view of her white panties nestled among the white folds. At least the fact that it was all the same colour would make it less obvious.

“Sit so I can do your shoes?”

They were actually ankle-height boots that laced up the front. The heels were much higher and narrower than anything she was used to, but when Flair finished and Jillian stood up to take a few cautious steps, she found that it wasn't as bad as she'd feared, and the snugly-laced boots offered considerable support for her ankles.

“Perfect,” Flair said in satisfaction. “Mistress wants me dressed tonight too. Usually she doesn't say that, but maybe she wants us to match. I'll do that. You go sit at the vanity. And don't be afraid. It isn't dangerous or anything. Echo startled me when I first came here, though.”

Jillian tore her attention away from watching herself walk. The corset changed her posture, forcing her back straighter and that led to her shoulders being farther back and her chest shamelessly forward, and the uniform highlighted and exaggerated her shape. The heels added a more pronounced sway to her hips with every careful step, and those steps had to be shorter than usual.

That wasn't her. It couldn't be her. From the longer cherry hair down to the precarious stiletto heels, it just didn't look like her. She didn't have that perfect skin or those sensual curves, and she absolutely did not dress like this, and she didn't get fiercely aroused by her own reflection! What was this party really going to be like, anyway, if they had to look like this in order to serve drinks?

But Min had promised. She was safe, and sex was off-limits.

Although she wasn't entirely sure that she wouldn't be chafing at that restriction by the end of the night, if she kept feeling like this.

She made her way to the vanity. The top of it was entirely bare; interestingly, most of it had a mirror set into the polished wood. Rather gingerly, fearful both of what had startled Flair and of leaving wet spots on the bench, she seated herself.

Her reflection blinked—but not in time with Jillian.

To her utter astonishment, her reflection looked her over measuringly. One of her reflection's hands moved, though Jillian's remained laced tightly together in white-knuckled apprehension in her satin-covered lap; she could feel the touch on her chin, gently tilting her face first one way, then the other.

“It's all right,” Flair said reassuringly from in front of the wardrobe. “It isn't going to hurt you. It's just fae magic. Her name's Echo. She's a young fae without much power or much family status, so for now she serves Mistress in a couple of ways in exchange for her patronage and protection. She's actually very friendly. Just let her do what she does. If you close your eyes you might be able to pretend that it's someone right here in the room who just doesn't talk.”

“I... all right. I think she's got a challenge ahead of her with me.”

Her reflection cocked her head to one side, lips curving in a smile, then shook her head firmly in the negative before rummaging in the drawers of the vanity.

The cleanser had already left her skin with no blemishes to cover, but her reflection briskly applied a thin layer of something that dried quickly, and then with swift efficiency did something with darker and lighter tones. Jillian could feel the contact and the sensation of the makeup on her skin. It was creepy, watching her reflection's hands moving with such speed and precision while she herself sat frozen, but it was impossible to keep herself from watching. Her reflection added something colourless to her eyelids and did artistic things over it with eyeshadow of rich deep green shades and black liquid eyeliner and mascara, and finished it all by turning her lips to a metallic cherry-red a bit lighter than her hair but the same hue. Somehow, whatever she was doing left Jillian with her face subtly reshaped, her eyes looked large and exotic and striking with the green echoing her collar, and her lips looked full and inviting. And it all took much less time than Jillian was sure it would have for a human.

Her reflection held up a hand, asking her to wait, then cleared away the make-up and pulled out a hairbrush and several other things. With that same deftness, she got Jillian's hair brushed and the front braided back from her face to either side with black and white ribbons. She slipped dangly earrings, multiple strands of small iridescent pearls, into her ears, and Jillian felt the sudden weight of them.

The last thing that appeared was a set of long cherry-red nails that were glued on over her own functional short neat ones once her pale lilac polish had been briskly removed.

Her reflection gave her a last detailed looking-over, nudging her chin to either side again, then smiled in delight, nodded, and made shooing motions with both hands.

“Thank you,” Jillian said, feeling more than a bit dazed but falling back on basic courtesy. Could her reflection, or the fae currently inhabiting it, hear through the glass, or read lips in reverse?

Apparently so, because her reflection winked and mouthed what was clearly, You're welcome, before it stopped moving independently and began to act the way a reflection should.

“Come let me see?” Flair said. She was in front of the mirror wall, fastening the many hooks of her own matching uniform with remarkable flexibility and dexterity. She had the same lace-trimmed black stockings and the same heeled boots, but Jillian assumed she didn't have a corset underneath—or panties, for that matter. “Just so you know, nothing you do can mess up your make-up. You could rub your eyes or wash your face and it wouldn't make the slightest difference. The green cleanser would do it, or you can go back to the vanity and let Echo do it. I assume the nails are the same, they're probably really hard to break and won't fall off for anything. It's as good as part of you for the moment.”

Jillian took a deep breath, closing her eyes briefly and nerving herself.

I look the way Mistress wants me to look. It's Mistress' decision, not mine. So there's nothing to be embarrassed about.

Yes, that felt right, although it didn't really stop her from feeling intensely self-conscious anyway.

It doesn't matter whether I like it or not. It doesn't matter whether it feels good. It only matters that I do what I'm told.

Unexpectedly, that felt wrong.

“Flair?”

“Yes?”

“Do you get... sort of a voice in your head, but not really a voice?”

“Telling you if you're doing what Mistress wants? Sort of. It isn't the same as the one that goes with a bargain, but I do know what you mean.”

“Um... why did it just tell me that it's wrong that it doesn't matter how I feel? I mean, it doesn't, right? What I want or don't want won't change anything.”

“Those are two different things.”

“Sorry?”

“It's true that whether you want to do something won't have any effect on whether you have to do it. But it's not true that how you feel doesn't matter. I told you, I think. Mistress likes to see her pets enjoy ourselves.”

“I'm not sure that makes sense.”

Flair sighed, and her tone turned patient. “To the fae, humans have short lives and very little power and a very limited comprehension of reality. But they can care about us, collectively or individually, sometimes a lot. Mistress grieved for a long time when the pet she already had when I came died of extreme old age a few years ago. They can like our company and find us useful or interesting. That doesn't stop them from making decisions for us without any hesitation, and honestly, they're usually right. Mistress could compel us to be happy and not think of anything else. It's actually kind of fun, for a limited time—I think it's probably a bit like what some humans hope to get from drinking a lot. But she wouldn't do it for long, or as anything but a game. She gets much more pleasure out of making sure her pets have what we need to be genuinely happy and healthy. If you're going to be someone's property, it's nice to be protected and loved property. No one is going to make you have fun. But if you can relax and find a perspective that will let you enjoy whatever you can out of tonight, Mistress will like that, and that means that how you feel does matter, even if what you want to do or not do won't change what you do. You see?”

“I... maybe. That's a lot to wrap my head around.”

“Try. And try to find a way to see things that will let you stop fighting everything. If you pay attention to that little hot-and-cold voice in your head, you aren't likely to do anything wrong. It's sort of like having a manual that tells you what you need to do in order to pay your debt. Now please stand up and come over here so I can see how you look.”

Right. She was supposed to obey Flair, and she'd gotten distracted.

One hand on the vanity to steady herself, what with the corset and the high heels affecting her centre of gravity and her stability, she got carefully to her feet and moved around the bench.

Her own reflection as she walked towards the mirror wall made her made-up eyes widen in astonishment.

“That can't be me.” It wasn't. It couldn't be. Dressing like that, all made up like that, it was all something for someone else. Not for her, with her determinedly conventional life. She had never, ever seen anything in the mirror that even approached this.

She wondered whether Gary would die of horror that his girlfriend looked like some sort of fetish fantasy model or want to toss her immediately into bed. She figured it was about even odds.

Flair giggled. “Well, it isn't as big a change as visiting the body artists, but it's pretty dramatic anyway, and I can understand it being a bit of a shock. But you look absolutely fantastic. Mistress is going to be very pleased.” She fastened a black satin choker around her own throat, slipped pearl earrings the same as Jillian's into her ears, and backed up a few steps—perfectly confident in those heels, Jillian noticed—so they were side by side. Flair studied the image, and laughed. “Yes, Mistress will like this. Let's go show her. Then we can get started on getting refreshments ready.”

“I... there's a part of me that thinks that does look amazing. Way more than I ever thought I possibly could. Although I guess there is magic involved. But there's a larger part of me that's terrified of anyone actually seeing me looking like this.”

“Well, see, there's a perfect illustration. Liking how it looks and feels is something that pleases Mistress. But whether you like it or not, and whether you want to or not, Mistress and a dozen other fae are going to see you wearing that. Are you expecting them to think bad things about you?”

“Maybe. Probably. Most humans would, even if they were getting off on looking.”

“Fae won't. They'll enjoy looking, and they'll respect what Mistress said about sex, and that'll be it. They won't think anything bad about you. It would take ages to try to explain why, but what it comes down to is, they have better and more interesting things to think about. Honestly, I don't understand why free humans don't have better things to think about than judging other people's sexuality and clothes and whatnot. It isn't like there's anything that's universal, if you look across enough human cultures.” She shrugged. “Free humans confuse me a lot. Anyway. We need to stop talking and go get Mistress' approval on how we look, then there's work to do.”

Jillian figured she'd already been awake for close to twelve hours, and she had, what, eleven to go? This was going to be a long day. And why get dressed up for a party before doing the kitchen work or whatever? Was that to give her a chance to get used to this? But she sighed and nodded.

They retraced their steps, back to the warm, comfortable living room. Jillian felt awkward and out of place, dressed like this in such a prosaic setting, and it only grew worse when Min had her rotate in a slow circle so all sides of her were visible.

“Lovely,” Min said. “I'd even go so far as to call the pair of you sensational. Well done, and it's been less than an hour. Hm, but you certainly don't look like Jillian. I think a new name is in order. Jolie? No, you are that, but let's make it something in English. You're certainly a treasure, so let's go with Jewel. From now until the end of your time with us, you aren't Jillian, you're Jewel. If you'd like me to, in order to make this less stressful for you, I can make certain that for the next few hours, you can't remember anything other than being my pet Jewel. It would, in effect, keep you focused here and now without extraneous and currently irrelevant internal distractions.”

Jillian hesitated. That had its appeal, all things considered... but she'd never cared for being extremely drunk and unable to keep track of the consequences of her own actions. And Flair had told her that Min didn't like doing that. Presumably she offered out of kindness anyway. Or because it was better than watching her temporary pet be miserably conflicted.

Jillian shook her head. Not that she was Jillian now. Thinking of herself as a free human woman named Jillian gave her that sense of wrongness; thinking of herself as Mistress' human pet Jewel, on the other hand, felt right. Now that decree had been made, she was obviously going to get constant reminders every time she slipped, until she adjusted to thinking of herself the right way. “Thank you, Mistress, but I'm all right.” She hadn't planned on saying Mistress, it just slipped out on its own, but it felt oddly easy and comfortable, and gave her that sense of rightness. But then, Jewel was Mistress' pet, and that made it appropriate.

Oh god. Am I even going to be myself at the end of this? Are these weird things in my head going to go away? I hope so I hope so I hope so...

Min nodded acceptance. “If you find that it's too much and you change your mind, be sure to tell me. I know you already spent a full day at work. In the fridge there's a red glass bottle. When you get there, take a tablespoon of it immediately. It won't taste bad. Any time tonight you feel you're starting to tire, visit the kitchen as soon as possible and take the same again. For this long, it won't have any side effects, it's a fae potion, not a clumsy human drug, but you will sleep rather heavily to catch up once you do get to bed. You need to keep your blood sugar reasonable while using it, so make sure you nibble on anything that appeals to you while you're working. Don't let yourself get hungry.”

“Yes, Mistress.” It was even easier that time, the most natural thing in the world.

“There's a guest list in the kitchen on the fridge door. Flair, you know everyone coming and what they need. I expect everything to be prepared in no more than three hours. Nikandros will certainly be here by then, and possibly the giants and Roshanak, so do theirs early.”

“Yes, Mistress, no problem at all,” Flair said cheerfully. “Is there anything I can get you before we go immerse ourselves in preparations?”

“No, it's fine. I can get myself some tea and a snack. I'd rather you concentrated on what I've told you to do.”

“Okay. Back where we just were, Jewel, but the kitchen's a different door.”

Jewel nodded silently, and fell into step with Flair. Back through the door to the huge bright room, through the other door to the corridor, and through a third door into a kitchen.

The shift in her balance, her weight being so far forward on the balls of her feet with her heels at least four inches off the ground, the pressure of the corset, were all starting to feel more natural now, as were the shorter steps the heels forced her into and the sway of her hips and the way the satin of her petticoats caressed her upper thighs as it rustled around her. The weight of her hair was easier to adjust to than the apprehension about inflicting damage on herself or someone or something else with these long nails.

But this was Jewel's reality, right? Jewel dressed the way Mistress wanted her to dress, and Mistress was pleased when she felt sexy and beautiful. It was perfectly understandable for Mistress to want to show off her pets to her friends and for her to choose a look that would display everything to best advantage. Jewel's first responsibility was to follow the orders she was given. Her second responsibility was to do so, at a minimum, calmly and without resentment, and if possible, cheerfully and with pleasure. And she was Jewel, because Mistress said so. No other identity in other times and places, no other name, nothing associated with any other identity, had any relevance.

All of those thoughts were accompanied by that whisper of approval somewhere in the back of her mind.

It was frightening to know she was being... what, trained? conditioned?... in a way she couldn't escape or shut out or ignore. Yet it also made the fear lose ground, because there was something intensely comforting in the certainty that she'd know if she was letting Mistress down or going in the wrong direction, with no ambiguity. Feeling less frightened was frightening, since she was sure she should be scared out of her wits of being manipulated... but she'd gotten herself into this as surely as Doug had gotten himself into his current legal trouble, and no one was going to rescue her.

As usual.

If she let her mind dwell on being Jewel, being property, all the rest of it that triggered that sense of rightness, experience so far suggested that it would gradually bring her fear down, maybe low enough to be manageable. Right now, she wanted that. Badly.

The kitchen, of course, was enormous, with gleaming pale marble counter-tops and warm polished maple cupboards everywhere, including a long island in the centre.

Flair pulled a sheet of paper off the industrial-sized stainless-steel fridge where it had been secured by a magnet shaped like a glass flower, and scanned it quickly.

“Nikandros, Dagrun and Sigrun, Nechtan, Sati, Henry, Alkippe, Eluned and Owain, Roshanak, Zipporah, Taiki... hm, not Hyld, but all the rest of Mistress' closest friends plus a few. You're going to see a lot tonight that's going to feel very, very strange. Try not to be afraid of them, none of them will hurt us. Mistress would be furious. And most of the people coming are pretty kind to humans, although they can be kind of playful sometimes. All right, Mistress said Nikandros and Dagrun and Sigrun and Roshanak first. But before anything else...” She opened the fridge and took out a red glass bottle that could hold maybe two cups of liquid or so. “Spoons are in the drawer to your left... next one. It tastes sort of minty. I wouldn't drink it for fun or anything, but it isn't so bad.”

After the experience with the skin cleanser, Jewel found herself hesitating over actually swallowing something that sounded like a stimulant of some sort. Mistress said there were no side effects, but everyone was different, and besides, what if there were effects that weren't unintended but that she wasn't expecting? What if it had been an outright lie?

But, like everything else... there really was no choice, was there? Especially not with a rider in her head telling her that she was being bad for resisting.

Reluctantly—aware that she was failing her second responsibility by being reluctant, but unable to quell a life of training regarding candy from strangers and unidentified substances—she found a spoon that she was sure was actual silver, not stainless steel, and came to Flair to take the bottle.

Flair was right, the taste wasn't as bad as human medicine. The aftertaste made her think of green tea, not a favourite drink but tolerable. She put it back in the fridge, and Flair took the spoon to toss in one of the two broad double-basin sinks.

“There we go. If you aren't already feeling tired, the effect is slow and mostly will just delay starting to, especially if you keep up with it. I'll warn you about anything that it isn't good for humans to eat or drink, but anything else, you can grab bites while we work, that's almost always allowed and that's usually what I do when I have a lot of preparations so I don't have to stop. Plus corsets make eating a big meal a bit uncomfortable, and it's worse if you do it fast, so nibbling a bit at a time is good. All right. Let's get to this.”

Within minutes, Jewel had discarded any thought of Flair being, well, less than intelligent and possibly a bit of a bimbo, with a considerable degree of shame for ever thinking it.

Flair knew exactly what each guest would need to eat and to drink and how they would need or want to have that served, which was obviously an extremely complex set of criteria. This was not a matter of having a white wine and a red wine and a complete set of appropriate glassware: it involved about eight different drinks that would have to be served in a variety of vessels. That included huge ones the size of a pitcher, of amazingly delicate metal and porcelain, and small ones that could hold little more than a shot glass could but shaped like a graceful goblet. No formal sit-down meal, but there were things to be left on a side table as a buffet and trays of finger foods to prepare that would ensure that anyone present could find something that was to their tastes. Apparently that ranged from vegetable matter even a vegan human would find questionable through to nearly-raw seasoned and marinated meat—Jewel didn't ask what animal it came from. Some were things she'd never heard of and wasn't sure what to make of—were they just from other human cultures, or something specific to the fae?

Flair directed the whole overwhelming task with calm efficiency, reminding Jewel frequently to eat some of it, the way she was doing herself.

Caught up in the job at hand, Jewel had only intermittent moments to spare for thoughts about what she was wearing or what was going to happen or her own helplessness to affect events. She had work to do, and a lot of it. Right now, only that mattered. As they filled trays and platters and bowls, she took them to the salon, trip after trip. That turned out to be another large room that looked like a mirror of the one with the curved wall of windows but with only one door and different furnishings, but she didn't have time right now to look at much except the long tables against one wall, where the food was supposed to go.

Finally, Flair stood back to look things over, and nodded in satisfaction. “If anything else comes up we can take care of it on the fly, but that should cover everything other than maybe the odd special request. We need to make sure the salon is all set up properly, and then we're done.”

Why wasn't it a surprise that nothing clung to her clothes, no matter how unavoidably messy a given process might be? Everything just brushed or wiped off, leaving the heavy satin as black and pristine as when she'd first put it on.

After all those trips to the salon already, the changes in the way she walked and carried herself no longer felt forced or unnatural, although she was aware of a certain amount of strain in her calves and hips, and some mild protest from her abdominal muscles.

“How are you feeling?” Flair asked.

“A little sore. My mind is doing okay, but my body isn't used to this.”

“Mistress' potion doesn't just work on being overall tired, it helps with overworked muscles too. It's been a while anyway, and it's better not to wait until you're exhausted to use it.”

Obediently, Jewel had another spoonful, and that felt right.

By the time they left the kitchen and strolled down to the big bright welcoming lounge and through the huge now-open doors and along a short hall to the salon, the aches had faded away. If that caught up with her later, it wasn't going to be much fun, but the important thing was that she could get through the party without being a limping and exhausted wreck.

“There's a bathroom for guests, we just passed it, it's the door between here and the lounge,” Flair said. “There is no need for you to be in there, so if anyone tries to get you to go there, tell them you aren't allowed to. It isn't impossible that someone might try to get away with something if they think Mistress won't see. Not Mistress' friends, but there are some coming I don't know well. They can't go in the private part of the villa where the kitchen and our bathroom are, so unless you're making a trip over there, stay in the salon, okay?”

“Okay.”

The furnishings in the salon were as wildly diverse as the food and dishes. The chairs ranged from child-sized to enormous, and every one of them had a gap in the lower part of the back that crept forward into the seat, generally narrowing at the front into a rounded V. Some had low backs, some high, some none at all, a couple had high narrow backs that narrowed further at what was probably shoulderblade-level.

There were a couple of basins, like an oversized circular bath.

Some of the furniture consisted of low platforms, mostly quite large, with padded upper surfaces and one side raised and upholstered, though Jewel couldn't imagine what for. While most of the furniture was of wood, those platforms and the basins seemed to be stone, though just as beautifully-worked as the wood. Flair looked it over, and had Jewel check that cushions were shaken out and that everything looked clean and neat. Both basins had to be filled with water, but since the bucket held an impossible volume of water without weighing more than a bucket of water should, it wasn't that onerous a task.

“All good,” Flair pronounced. “We have a few minutes for a more substantial snack and a drink, even. Mistress won't mind. Looking after ourselves matters to her. And it means we can follow orders better.” She contemplated Jewel thoughtfully. “You've had a chance to get used to it, I could probably tighten your corset a bit more now without it being uncomfortable.”

That wasn't a necessity, not an order, and she could refuse without consequences.

On the other hand, the image she'd seen in the bathroom lingered in her mind's eye.

Slowly, she nodded. “Sure.”

“Let's stop in the bathroom.”

It didn't take Flair long to undo the hooks down Jewel's back, untie the corset laces, and tug them tighter, taking care to get the tension evenly distributed. Jewel took a deep breath, acutely conscious of the increased pressure. It felt good. Supportive and sensual at once.

“Comfy still?”

“Yes. I think I could get used to this.”

Flair giggled. “See? I knew you'd change your mind. I don't want to do it too tight so you start thinking corsets hurt or something. This'll do.” She tied it off and fastened Jewel's uniform again.

Despite the change, the black satin still fit close against her body—but the curves on display made her smile in delight. She ran her hands down her sides, just to feel the graceful sweep of it, the firmness and hint of boning under the satin that was such a contrast to bare flesh covered by even the most glorious fabric.

“That looks amazing,” Flair said, and gave Jewel a quick kiss on her lips. Jewel blinked, certain that she should be objecting to that from a woman and from someone other than her boyfriend, but right now, it just didn't seem to matter. She wished she had time to venture into the warm wetness between her legs and see whether the erotic feel of corset and heels and satin could rival the sensitization effects of the pink goop in provoking a spectacular orgasm, but there just wasn't time. Jewel resigned herself to just living with being aroused and her white satin panties being damp. And Mistress' no-sex rule meant there wasn't going to be any help for it at the party no matter what, either.

They had simple sandwiches of sliced meat and cheese and vegetables and a glass each of fruit juice, eaten perched on a couple of stools at the kitchen counter.

Next time: let's get this party started! How bad can it be, serving drinks and snacks and generally being respectful to a dozen or so very different fae?






 

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