The List - Part 1

[Comment: "The List" by Nurse Jones is a true story, written by an anonymous nurse from Indiana who published it several years ago. I'm not the author. I have saved it from a website that was discontinued years ago, lightly edited and polished it, in order to re-publish it here on noveltrove.com, which I believe has an audience that will enjoy it. As far as I know, this story is copyright free, but credit should be given where it's due.]

 

Dear Everybody,

I imagine that most prologues are the last part written. This one was. I wrote it at the last minute. If I can make this thing work, the next several parts will contain a nearly true account of what happened to me. I say "nearly true" because I have changed details that might identify us. I'll just be "M". Our physical descriptions are accurate. And I am really a nurse from Indiana, but everything else that might identify us is false. Please, as a favor to me, don't take it as a challenge to try and trace it back to me. I'm not ready to come out of the closet yet. I don't think J (I'll call him that) is either.

-*-

He's at work now, but he told me to start writing this while he is gone. So here I sit, not knowing where to begin. So I made the big "H" at the beginning just for something to do. I want you to understand that I am doing this because J told me to, not because I think anyone should know what happened last night. He says I am to write it in the first person, just like I were telling it to a stranger, rather than to him. It is, ultimately, part of the bargain we made.

Okay, I said that. What next? I just don't know where to start. Earnest Hemingway said always start with the first true thing. I guess I'll begin at the beginning, and when I come to the end, I'll stop. Hey, it worked for Alice in Wonderland, someone I have a lot in common with at the moment.

Six months ago, we were living together in Chicago where I was working as a nurse. He got a terrific job offer and had to move. I didn't want to give up the security of my job, so we split up. We said it would somehow only be temporary, and I stayed behind in the windy city.

Neither of us was particularly happy with the separation, and we wrote to each other almost daily. The mails got pretty steamy, and we began trading fantasies--fantasies we had never discussed when we lived together. We started with pretty tame stuff like being on a tropical island together, or in a snowbound cabin, but gradually we escalated to fantasies of being each other's slaves, B&D, and so forth.

Every mail I wrote included comments on his last email and a new fantasy of my own. He did the same. We became a two-person literary critics circle. I think it was easier to write about these things than to talk about them face to face, maybe because broaching a subject like this for the first time requires such delicacy. You have to be absolutely sure you get the words right before you say them. You can't go back and edit a conversation the way you can a mail.

The months wore on; he became assured of success at his new job and bought a house, while I began to feel more and more isolated and left behind. I was working three 12-hour night shifts a week, sleeping days, exercising less and less, reading his mails, and doing little else. I saw no-one, didn't even go to the movies. Our fantasy life grew until, as I became more and more lonely, it occupied most of my waking thoughts and I came to want to act out those fantasies. I wanted desperately to get back together with him. Move in with him and live with him again. I could quit my job--I would be able to get a nursing job anywhere. But he didn't ask me to, and I couldn't bring myself to ask him. Midwestern pride, I guess.

After we had explored our fantasy life pretty thoroughly he wrote a fantasy in which he came to visit me and we arranged to get back together and live out the fantasies we had written about. In my next email I commented that I thought that was the one I liked best, and we began to write seriously about actually doing it, planning explicitly to get back together. The character of our mails changed: we wrote more practical fantasies, things that we could actually do, and how we would do them. And we planned for the future. I was to quit my job and get a job where he lived. Nurses are in demand everywhere, although salaries are lower in the South. I was getting pretty tired of Winter in Chicago anyway. You could freeze to death on the way to stand in line to sort out the phone bill the company screwed up if it wasn't for the muggers being so tightly crowded onto the streets that you didn't have room to freeze in the first place.

Besides, I was tired of being lonely. Once I had made the decision, my mood changed dramatically. Suddenly, instead of being lonely, sexually frustrated, and obsessive about getting and writing emails, I was optimistic, lonely, sexually frustrated, and obsessive.

We got together briefly before I left Chicago. J had written a mail telling me he would visit. Our last few emails had carried a long list of fantasies back and forth between us. We added to the list every time it changed hands. Ultimately it contained nearly everything we had written about and some new things we hadn't. In his final email he told me he had a chance to come back to Chicago on a job- related trip and wanted to see me. About that list.

 

Below is a part of the email, copied verbatim:

"I want you to understand something clearly before I arrive. We have been very close, but the last four months have put a distance between us that our messages have only partly bridged. When you come [down here] we will be trying something neither of us has done before. The newness will perhaps be the best and most exciting part of it. We may be starting something new for us in a larger sense, too. When you come, I want you to feel that you are coming to something new, and I want to feel anticipation--maybe even a little apprehension?

"For this reason, even though I will be visiting you in a few days, I don't want to just start up where we left off. I don't know if I can adequately explain this, but I don't want my visit to act as a transition from our old relationship to the new. Instead it should be a break. A point of demarcation. I don't want my visit to be 'business as usual' for us.

"The fantasies we have written about are part of what is pulling us back together. I don't know if an active fantasy life is a sound basis for a relationship, but if we are going to do this, I want to do it right. Fantasies are killed by reality; fortunately the time we have spent apart has removed some of the reality from our relationship. Fundamentally, I know you are the person I love and trust. That is still the most important reality. But almost as important: we have learned new things about each other through our emails, things that make each of us, to a certain extent, strangers. I want to meet you for the first time again, now that I realize you're not exactly the person I thought I knew. Can you understand that? And if I believe there is a large and mysterious territory to be explored inside your head--which I am beginning to suspect is the case--so much the better. Fantasies take root in the unknown, not the commonplace.

"So I'm not going to throw you across the bed the minute I walk in the door, though we have both waited a long time and I will want to. We will take care of our plans, sleep apart, and I will come back here to wait for you. Can you stand that? Can you stand me being a stranger?"

 

There was more, but that is the relevant part. When he arrived I forgot completely, of course, and went to kiss him. He pulled away from me. It was an interesting evening. We both knew we were horny as hell, and we covered some of the sexiest topics of conversation I have ever heard, but we didn't have sex. We barely touched. I was not happy about it.

Instead, we got out paper and went over the list of fantasies and scenarios that we had accumulated. We cut the items out with scissors so each was on a separate slip of paper. It became a kind of game. We added to the list. Anything we had written about or read about-- anything. From feathers and g-strings to piercing, tatoos and bondage. Even hypnosis, although neither of us knew any more about it than we had read in a popular book on self-hypnosis. Things we wanted to do to each other, things we wanted done.

Then there followed an hour of negotiation during which we paired up our slips of paper. If you wanted to do that to me, then I would get to do this to you; if I do that for you, then you do have to do this for me. The price of column 1 is column 2. The result was a two- column list of equal and opposite (re)actions.

The deal was this: if one of us does something on the List, that automatically gives the other the right to do the corresponding thing from the other column. Fair is fair. His list ended up longer than mine: I wasn't able to come up with as many ideas as he did, so some things got left off. Still, it was a long list. There were things I really didn't want to do and things I really didn't want him to do on the List, but they were paired with fair retaliations and things I wanted bad enough that I would agree to his wants. Eventually it became clear that some things had no single equivalent, and that sometimes several scenarios had to be added together to achieve a balance. Any later changes were to be agreed on by both parties and balanced just the way the list was. Is. If we really really didn't wanted to do one of the things on the list we agreed on a safeword. But once the safeword was spoken, it was all over and the list would become void.

We both got excited making up the List, but still he wouldn't make love. He took me out to dinner instead, and we talked. We had a booth, fortunately, because that conversation was a very intimate one. I told him in very general terms what turned me on, and he did the same; we kind of danced around, getting more and more honest with each other. We traded admissions that neither of us had ever thought we would voice aloud. It was by far the most open verbal discussion I had ever had about my inner desires. We told each other of fantasies that were so unrealistic they could never be made reality, but they did give us insights into each other's motivations. Things like experiencing what it would be like to be the opposite sex, or stupid little fantasies like mine about being an alien that is able to change the shape of my body and his in interesting ways and that comes to earth and has sex with him, captivating him with my alien biology. Our conversation got steamier and steamier, but still we acted, on the surface, like we had just met. We didn't even touch. It was actually very erotic, especially with all those people around us that didn't know what we were talking about.

Imagine the excitement of a mysterious, sexy stranger whom you know you will eventually bed. Yet he is still mysterious.

We made plans for the future. It would take me a while to quit my job and find a sublet for the apartment. Our part of Chicago is full of student rental property and the demand for apartments is seasonal. In the end, there were two more months of mails and frustration while I tried to sublet.

But our plans, at least, were finalized that night. On a flip of a coin, while we were waiting for desert, he won first choice on the List, and he chose that I would be his slave for a month, to start the day I arrived at his place in ....

Over desert, I asked what he wanted to get out of that month; I got some very interesting answers. So interesting that we sat there until the restaurant closed, talking about it. Actually I was trying to get him so turned on he would change his mind about waiting until I came south. Anyway, it was an education to learn what he wanted. I am tempted to say that there were layers upon layers of psychology to peel away, but it was really just very complex and convoluted.

He wanted to control me--at least for a while, the month's duration of the List. But he doesn't want simple submission. I am supposed to resist, but it must be more than resistance against him; he seems to want me to resist something in myself as well. If possible, I should discover that part of me that likes to be controlled and I should fight against that as well as against the more superficial physical control permitted by the list. As I say, it is convoluted.

He wants me to search my own mind to look for these tendencies and see if I can bring them out, almost the way an actress looks within her own experience to find something to make a performance more convincing. It was clear from the turn our emails had taken that there is something there to find; he was sure of it. So am I, but I don't know what, exactly.

(I have an inkling after last night.)

But he didn't want acting; if what he was looking for just wasn't there, he didn't want me to pretend it was.

Another convolution: Knowing that I was willing to do this for him became a kind of a second layer, a hidden backdrop to the more superficial physical aspects.

Letting him know that I was doing this willingly--despite my superficial (but real) resistance (I told you it was convoluted)-- became another undercurrent. More than a second kind of submission, it was something akin to a gift that proved my love and trust, because it would necessarily be something voluntary that he could neither force nor control.

Remember: all these psychological undercurrents are not reality; this is what he wants reality to be. I have no idea what it actually is. Maybe they are the same. Sort of.

And of course, it has to be for him alone. He wants to know that. This is an ironic twist. My mother--and all my friends, too--always told me that the best way to keep a man is to make him think he might lose you: let him know that you can get another man any time you want. But I have learned something from J that he didn't mean to teach me. What he wants in our relationship can't be very easy to find; I mean, even bringing up the subject of bondage was an almost insurmountable obstacle in itself. It would be almost impossible for him to find anyone else that could be the kind of person he wants. If I can be that person, I will be irreplaceable. He'd never find another one like me, never. If, somewhere inside, I'm really like that, I'll have him trapped, tied (bound?) to me by the fact that I'm the only one that he will ever find that can give him what he needs.

Maybe I am that kind of person. I certainly feel that way right now, after the first day. If I could feel this excited about our relationship forever, I guess I'd become that kind of person.

So anyway, there we were in the restaurant. After all that talking, I felt like a little applied theory, so I asked him what he would do first when we started. I looked him straight in the eye and gave him my most brazenly innocent look across the table. I can wear my innocence at such a rakish angle it makes me seem positively debauched. He got the message.

He told me he would wait until we were in a public place, like a restaurant (thrill), and would reach into his jacket pocket and take out a manila envelope. He paused significantly and looked me straight in the eye right back again.

Then he reached into his jacket pocket (chills, excitement) and took out a manila envelope. My heart started thudding and my breath became short. He was going to do something right then, I realized. I don't know if he improvised this or not. Now that I think about it, he must have, because he took some papers out of the envelope before he gave it to me.

"Go into the ladies room and put all your underwear in this," he said.

I did. Bra, panties, pantyhose. I gave him the envelope.

As I sat there, feeling increasingly sexy, he gave me detailed instructions for several outfits I was to make during the next few weeks while I was waiting to come to him. I know it's not a very good career move to be good with a sewing machine, but I am. And I am NOT a housewife type, as will become clear after you read about last night. First I have to fill you in on the rest.

By the way, he kept his promise: he never touched me that night; the bit with the underwear was just him being him.

-*-

It is a comfortable two-day drive from Chicago to his new house, though I could have made it in one. I arrived about four in the afternoon. Actually, it is not a new house: it is old. I can't tell you exactly where it is, but it is a really luscious house. [He also won't let me use the clinical names for parts of the body that nurses know so well, so if I seem a little victorian in my language, now you know the reason why. In fact, he gives a lot of instructions about everything, not just how to write this.]

I can say we live in a very warm climate--almost Mediterranean. The house has high ceilings (twelve feet in the living room), tile floors, a red tile roof, and lots of stucco arches. And a fireplace with a magnificent mantle. It's one of those pseudo-Spanish houses that were so popular in the 1930's. It's still nearly unfurnished, even though he's been living here six months. Men are hopeless.

There is a rather cavernous living/dining room, with two sofas (one large, one small) and an armchair clustered around the fire place, and a big oak table with two chairs in the middle of the room. There is a deep fluffy white rug in front of the hearth. No curtains, almost no other rugs, no pictures on the walls except in the (ahem) master bedroom.

He carried my suitcases into the house; our footsteps on the tile floors echoed in the near-empty rooms. Half the light switches don't work and the place needed (still needs) sweeping: sand had been tracked into the house and made a scratching noise underfoot against the tile floors. In fact, with the exception of my bedroom, the whole place is only superficially clean. There are quite a few cobwebs and the windows are dusty. Dead roaches the size of small mammals.

He put my luggage in the spare bedroom. My bedroom. It is spotlessly clean and furnished completely in white. The bed is an old- fashioned single, iron, in a sort of early-hospital style, painted in white enamel. Walls: white, chest of drawers: white; simple chair and bedside table: both white. No rug, no curtains, no pictures on the wall, and nothing in the closet. A bright overhead light and a small nondescript reading light on the bedside table. That is the total contents of the room. I could feel like a nun if it weren't for last night.

Somehow, it bothers me a little that he went to all that trouble to prepare my room for me. All in white, I mean. It's just a little odd.

Normally, separate bedrooms would be something you would associate with elderly conservative couples or people on the verge of divorce, but we weren't even married. We were SUPPOSED to be living together, so this was verging on weird and I wanted an explanation. Which I got. It was nothing more than an enforced continuation of the newly distant relationship he had written about and that we had formally started during his visit to Chicago. We had grown apart somewhat, he said, and he wanted to keep it that way for a while longer. Somehow it was nicer in theory than in practice. I guess the bedroom had made me feel a little alienated.

"Besides," he said, "you are my slave now, and not supposed to ask questions." I had almost forgotten. Well, not forgotten, but I wasn't in the habit of thinking that way. It definitely made him feel a bit like a stranger. He said it like I was one.

[Note from the Future: Near the end I was spending most nights in his bedroom, but we kept separate bedrooms to the very end. Somehow this made our relationship more exciting rather than less intimate. It had a special significance when one of us went to the other's room.]

As I said, he had won first choice on the List. I am to be his slave for the first month. During this month he will do many of the other items on the List. By agreeing to the List two months earlier, I suppose I had already agreed to this, even though at the time I hadn't considered that the choice of one month of slavery would allow him to work through quite a few of the other items on the List before I even got my first turn. But it is enough that my turn would come.

He must have wanted to put me off balance from the beginning. When my car was unloaded, he told me to change from my jeans and sweatshirt to a blouse and skirt with heels, nothing underneath. The act of changing my clothing, even in the privacy of my room, was somehow charged with erotic anticipation. I felt small and defenseless--almost like I was a prisoner in Dracula's castle. I know it sounds melodramatic, but the house seems so big after the studio apartment in Chicago. Even as I sit writing this in broad daylight the echoes make it seem a bit empty and spooky. And chilly. There is a desiccated bird corpse on the floor of one of the screened porches. At least I swept up the dust and roaches.

Yesterday evening, when I came out of my bedroom it was getting darker; there was a shaft of late-afternoon sunlight slanting through the cavernous living room. He was waiting on the armchair; he told me to pour myself a glass of wine and sit on the sofa. There were even little sandwiches. He had never made little sandwiches before. Little formal ones. I was famished, but puzzled over the sandwiches. They were so uncharacteristic.

"How do you feel?" he asked.

"Okay," I said, "maybe a little chilly." A little attempted underwear-less humor there. Very little. He sipped his wine and watched me eat without expression.

Between mouthfuls, I couldn't seem to stop talking. "So, when do we start?" I asked, in a cheerful, businesslike voice, as though we were going to paint the living room or something.

"Now," he said in a neutral tone, still expressionless.

I suddenly became aware that he was looking at me. I mean really looking at me. Most men are surreptitious when looking at women. They pretend they aren't looking and then sneak a peek when they think you aren't going to notice. This was different. His gaze was travelling over my body without regard to what I might think, as though he didn't care. I was abruptly aware of my lack of underwear; I crossed my legs and tugged at my skirt as though such adjustments could make my discomfort go away. He let his eyes rest on my chest and I crossed my arm in front of myself.

"Don't," he said.

"Sorry," I blathered unnecessarily. I unfolded myself and tried to appear casual. My damned nipples were erect, though. "So, what'll we do first?" I said brightly, now a summer camp counsellor. I just couldn't stop my mouth. He didn't answer right away. I don't know if he was considering what he would do or just letting the suspense build, but he waited until the silence stretched to its (my) limit. I stuffed another sandwich in my mouth to give it something else to do.

Finally, he told me which item on the List would be first. He just told me the number, though. I hadn't memorized the List and didn't know what he was referring to; obviously, I hadn't done my homework.

"You have your copy of the list, don't you?" he said.

"Yeah, somewhere in my luggage."

Then he gave me instructions on what to wear, and told me that I would find everything I needed in my bathroom, but he kept me in suspense as to what the list actually said I was to do.

"Take your wine with you, he said. Suddenly I realized he meant "Now." Right now. I went to my room and tore through my luggage to find my copy of the List. The numbers on the List were only for reference; the order didn't mean anything. The item he chose, therefore, by default, became Item One in this account. So here it is, Item One.

As I said, he really did intend to put me off balance. Sort of like pushing me in at the deep end. After all the time we had spent apart I felt we were nearly strangers and needed to get reacquainted. Perhaps that's why he did subtle little things that put me off balance, like make little finger sandwiches. Perhaps that is why he wanted me to come to him feeling exposed and near naked, but naked in a new way. A way that would make me feel naked, as though in front of a stranger.

He wanted me to remove my pubic hair.

I know many men think this is sexy, but I've never understood why. As a nurse I had seen nearly everything, but I never thought there was anything particularly erotic about shaving there, especially with the itchy stubble I knew would come later. Maybe I associate it with pre-op, too. Did I tell you I was a R.N.? But there was no razor in the bathroom. Just a tube of depilatory and scissors.

At this point he has begun exercising editorial control over what I write. I wrote--and twice had to rewrite and expand--the next paragraphs until he was satisfied. I wouldn't otherwise have put in such detail.

I had to be extremely careful, as the directions have all kinds of warnings about burning delicate membranes. I sat in the bathroom for a few minutes just looking at myself in the mirror, thinking: what am I getting myself into? But it was too late to change my mind, and anyway I didn't want to. So here goes, I thought. I pinched a curl of hair between my fingers and snipped it off close. Starting at the top, I worked my way down, not thinking about it, just snipping away until I ended up with one foot up on the edge of the bathtub and my head between my legs. When I finished and came up for air, the remaining stubble was almost invisible; I looked quite naked. I stood for a moment and looked in the mirror, wondering if this was really what J was expecting--hairless nakedness.

The depilatory comes in a tube like toothpaste and is pink. It smells slightly reminiscent of the chemicals they put in a home permanent. I put the stuff on very carefully, using the round end of my nail file like a butter knife. I followed the directions and waited the requisite time with my legs held apart to avoid burning myself. Then I scraped it off with the nail file; if you are patient enough to wait for it to work, it really does the job. For some reason there were a few hairs that just wouldn't dissolve, so I plucked them with tweezers. At last I was done. I'm glad he didn't watch, because I had to get into some pretty embarrassing positions to do all this without being burned by the stuff.

I went straight into the shower without looking at myself again. The faint but icky depilatory smell definitely required a shower and soap to get rid of, followed by a body conditioner all over (Even though he didn't tell me what the List item actually said, he was very detailed in his instructions as to how I should prepare myself for him). Unscented "Unicure" hair and body conditioner was already there in the shower. I was me not to rinse it off--just rub it in and towel dry. As I rubbed the creme over my skin, I began to see that maybe there was a point to this preoccupation with hairlessness. It felt like a whole new erogenous zone down there, so slick and silky and, well ...

After I towelled myself dry, I felt really smooth and soft all over, especially Down There. When I finally pulled on the outfit I had made (on his instructions weeks before), I felt like a velvet hand slipping into a velvet glove.

It was of a soft, sheer, muslin-like white cotton from India. It fit very tightly and it took a lot of tailoring to get it to fit right, since the material has no stretch. The bust is tailored to fit my breasts exactly, and "underwired" with elastic. I stick out. Long sleeves are just barely loose enough to squeeze my hands through and get my arms in; the front zips from the waist to a high lace collar that would look very demure on a top that wasn't skin-tight and practically transparent. The pants are also skin-tight, except below the knee, where they flare to bell-bottoms. Very 60's. The legs are so long that I have to wear heels--high ones--to keep from tripping over the cuffs. White open-toed high-heeled sandals go with it nicely. Nicely? Somehow "nice" doesn't seem to apply after last night.

Last night, the crotch was the really embarrassing part. There's not even a seam in front to help conceal my sex. It's just tight, sheer and thin. A very tight g-string-like elastic in back holds the muslin close over my newly hairless sex and pulls the back of the pants tight against my cheeks and deeply into the cleavage of my buttocks. When I made the outfit I thought there'd at least be pubic hair to cover me, but last night I was so... visible.

Still following instructions, I brushed my hair out and put on makeup. I was procrastinating: taking unnecessary care with my face and adjusting the outfit; examining myself in the mirror--anything to avoid going out into the living room where he was waiting. I really didn't want him to see me like this. We hadn't seen each other naked for six months, and he would see a lot more of me than I'd ever shown anyone before.

Again, I have to add something here. He told me to. I wouldn't have written this at all, because I have always been a little ashamed of this, but as I said, he makes me put in details-- details I would rather omit, in this case. But here goes. Real soon now. (If you haven't noticed, I am procrastinating again.) There's another reason I didn't want to go out there and let him see me dressed like that. It's irrational, I know, because he had seen me completely naked before, but there it is. I have unusual nipples. They have always been a source of acute embarrassment to me.

They are inverted.

You have no idea how long it took me to write those three words; every time I have to deal with this I look for all kinds of ways to say it without actually saying it, but in the end I just had to write it and the hell with it. They're inverted. This is silly, because I'm used to them. It's not a big deal, really. The tips of my nipples are turned inward so that all that is visible externally is the areola, with just a little horizontal slit across the middle where the nipple should be. It's not all that uncommon; I have seen girls in P.E. classes that have the same condition on one or the other of her tits. It's just that both of mine are that way.

It's not like they're repulsive or anything, and they would be perfectly functional if I had children. They even look normal when erect, it's just that when they aren't, I don't have nipples, just areolas. I haven't known very many men, partly because of shyness over this problem, and all of them have been surprised, and I think slightly repelled, by my breasts. All, that is, except J. Other men have made me feel like a freak, with questions like "What's wrong with them?"

One even asked me, "Is there anything else you haven't told me about?" Asshole. Assholeassholeasshole.

Sorry, I don't normally use language like that, but he was an asshole. Like maybe my day job is in a sideshow, or something? A real Mr. Sensitivity, huh? Before I walked out on that evening's entertainment, I told him to be fruitful and multiply, only not in exactly those words. He was a jerk anyway. In high school I was young and stupid enough to be impressed that he (at 20) owned (well, had a mortgage on) his own house (well, double-wide trailer).

Imagine, at that age boasting he was a self-made man. He was an example of what can happen when you don't follow the directions.

Sorry, I went off on a tangent.

Anyway, J has never commented on my nipples except to say that I have the most beautiful breasts he has ever seen, all the more so because they are special that way.

Special like the special olympics, but never mind.

Still, I was reluctant to enter the living room, embarrassed for no good reason, trying to cover myself, one hand casually fiddling with my lace collar (and incidentally covering my breasts with my arm), while the other draped casually (I hoped) over my southern overexposure. The room was nearly dark, and his armchair was in shadow. I could tell he was fully dressed, but couldn't see his face or judge his reaction. I was feeling awfully exposed, and really needed some reassuring words right then. I didn't get any.

There was a small sofa sitting under a recessed light in the ceiling. He didn't get up; he just told me to stand in front of the little sofa, under this very bright light. Like a spotlight.

I couldn't see much of anything outside that little pool of light, and I felt awkward, as though my legs were different lengths. He told me to put my arms at my sides and stand up straight. Hesitant- ly, I did as he told me, uncovering myself. I was nearly shaking with nervousness. That afternoon I had been cruising along the Interstate, and now I was in a totally different world.

"Hold your shoulders back and stop slouching," he said. I took a deep breath and tried to relax and regain some composure, some dignity.

"Turn around. Bend over and lean on the seat with your elbows. Legs apart." I tried to lean on my hands.

"Your elbows," he repeated. So much for dignity. My rear was up in the air for all to see.

"Straighten up. Pull your waistband up so your pants are tighter in the crotch; smooth the front so I can see all of you better. Good. Now tell me how you feel right now."

"Embarrassed," I whispered. My voice wasn't working. I cleared my throat and tried again.

"Embarrassed," too loudly. I couldn't look up from the floor; I was not handling this well. It seemed a long time before he answered.

"Tell me why."

"It's these clothes," I answered.

"I've seen you with less than that on before."

"I know, but- not like this. I mean, not having any hair- there." I stammered, all the while thinking: dammit I should have more composure than this--nurses aren't supposed to be ashamed of the human body. Nurses are supposed to be cool and professional--in charge. I straightened my shoulders again.

"No, the hair isn't it either, but never mind. Come over here."

I walked over to him and stood by his chair. I tried to keep from slouching to show that I had kept my dignity, and I ended up feeling (and looking) like an army recruit trying to look military on her first day at boot camp.

He ran his hand up the inside of my thigh. I couldn't help shivering. He slipped his hand lightly back and forth over the thin cloth that was held so tightly against my nether lips. His fingers became more insistent, and I could feel myself and the cloth of my pants becoming wet. I was still shivering with nervousness. I was, throughout the evening, acutely aware that I had no pubic hair. For some reason, whatever else I was feeling, that was on my mind. I just hadn't gotten used to it, I guess. I still haven't.

I felt shaky and nervous. Not afraid, exactly, but terribly aware of my nakedness and uncertain of what was coming next. I knew he wouldn't depart from the List, but there was an awful lot on that list, and after all, I hadn't even kissed him for six months--had only seen him once in all that time--and he was practically bringing me to a climax in a strange house under very weird circumstances. I think he meant it to be that way, but I was not comfortable.

He stood and kissed me. Finally. He must have sensed that I needed some reassurance. I could feel his stiffness as he pressed against me. This is what I wanted, I thought, feeling myself on surer ground. I ground my hips against him, suddenly getting more deeply into the scene. His kiss became more passionate, our tongues probing.

Abruptly, holding my shoulders in his hands, he separated himself from me. Although he is slender, he is at least eight or nine inches taller than I and quite strong; I could sense a shudder of suppressed emotion despite the firmness of his grip on my upper arms. I stood there breathing unsteadily, my eyes shut. God, I was horny. He told me to go back and stand under the light. I could feel the wetness between my legs; I was sure it showed as a patch on my front. Again, I tried to cover myself with my hand.

"No," he said. "Don't. You have nothing to be ashamed of with me, and you know it." He paused. "You do know that, don't you?"

"Yes, I know," I whispered, looking down, determinedly ashamed.

"Then why are you?"

"It's the spotlight."

"No, its not. Try again. I've seen you nude in full daylight before, and I've seen more of your body than I can see now, even without hair. And from closer up. Think about what's bothering you, and tell me."

He waited silently while I thought; I finally came out with what it was I didn't want to tell him. "I don't just feel nude. I feel naked. I- I think it's because I haven't seen you for so long. It's a little like being in front of a stranger." He waited. And waited. "And because you're dressed and I'm not," I rushed ahead, "its not fair and its humiliating and I feel vulnerable and it's not like I imagined it would be." I covered myself with my hands again as if to say `so Yet I remained under the light, trying not to appear awkward, looking out at where I thought him to be, still unable to see him.

Again the silence. Finally from the darkness he said, "Good. Sit down." My ears told me he had moved from the armchair to stand by the unlit fireplace, but I still couldn't see his face.

I sat, relieved. At least I could hold my legs together while sitting and hide myself a little that way. With my prim little lace collar, my legs held tightly together, and my hands folded neatly in my lap, I must have looked like a caricature of the proper victorian virgin. Except that I was blushing through transparent clothing and my nipples were erect and positively aching. Sounds like material for a romance novel, I know, but they were.

"I don't want you to feel humiliated. Believe that. But your embarrassment is something else. That I do want. As a kind of gift to me," he said. "Can you understand that? As a gift?" I'm not sure how, but I seemed to sense him in the darkness, staring at me, very intent on my answer. Maybe it was something in his voice.

I hadn't considered the fine line between embarrassment and humiliation. Somehow, though, I could understand the idea of embarrassment as a gift. Don't ask me how or why.

"Alright," I said, and suddenly it really was alright. My embarrassment surfaced; I stopped trying to suppress it, it all came out, but it was okay: I could show it. He wanted--even valued it. I lowered my eyes to the floor, blushing furiously, making no effort to hide my discomfiture. I took my hands out of my lap and let my legs part a fraction of an inch, deliberately letting myself feel more embarrassed, really acting the part--only not acting, because I really was feeling exactly what I was acting out. Or at least acting out what I was feeling. Well, it was more honest than whatever I had been doing, anyway.

"Now," he said, "what are you feeling? Do you like this?"

"No. I don't," I said, truthfully, I think. I'm not sure.

"Do you feel... excited?"

"Yes." I realized that was definitely true, whether I liked it or not.

"Do you want it to stop?"

Another pause. "No," I said, "... no."

"Remember, you're my slave. I'm going to tell you to do something now that you might find funny, but I don't want you to laugh. Take it seriously. While sitting there, I want you to do something--anything --that you think I will find sexy." As he said this he turned to the fireplace and lit the fire that was laid there. His back was to me.

Act sexy? He made it sound so much like a homework assignment, I almost did laugh. I had no idea what to do. Pretend to be a porn star? Blow kisses? Pout and squirm seductively like they do in bad x-rated movies?

I raised tentative hands to my breasts and fingered my nipples. They were already erect from the coolness of the evening and the excitement. I didn't know where to go from there, so I kept rubbing, even though the tips of my breasts were already sensitive, even though the areolae were puckered and hard, aching. I was still aroused, but didn't know what to do next. Then I had an idea. I would take off my top: do a strip tease. Yeah, that's it. My hands went to the zipper at my throat and pulled it halfway it down.

"Stop." I froze. "Lean back against the arm of the sofa and close your eyes." I did. "Stroke yourself again." I did. I found it was a lot easier to follow instructions than to make it up on my own. I really wouldn't make a good stripper anyway. I don't know the moves.

"Put your hand lower." What did he want me to do? My hand crept down to my waistband. "Lower." Did he want me to masturbate? I wasn't ready for that. I wouldn't. Not with him watching me. It was just too kinky. "Lower," he repeated, more insistently.

I put my hand down, more to cover my nakedness than to do what I thought he wanted. I could feel the wetness from when he had caressed me, and for some reason was acutely aware of the hand resting on my sex. But I wouldn't masturbate, I just couldn't, not in front of him. And as I sat there, neither of us saying anything, I began to think maybe he wouldn't ask me to. He had pushed me right to the edge of what I would do, and seemed to know it. He let me sit there, covering myself, extremely aware of how insecure and exposed I was, wishing I hadn't gone as far as I had, wishing I hadn't removed my pubic hair, feeling, not exactly frightened, but very uncertain that this was something I wanted. And just a moment before, when he kissed and caressed me, I was at the edge of a climax. It was a real roller coaster ride.

"I know this has been hard for you," he began, "but I have a reason. You remember the evening we made the List. We also discussed our motivations. I told you things about myself that I have never told anyone. And will never. And you told me some things too. Do you remember?" I nodded, uncertain where he was headed, but I said nothing. He flipped a wall switch and the spotlight went off. His face was lit from below by the firelight. I didn't move. My hand stayed where it was, my attention split between what he was saying and the focal point of my hand.

"You said that one of the things that you sometimes wanted was to have someone else take charge. That sometimes you got tired of constantly having to deal with everything. I'm sure it was partly the daily pressure of your job that made you feel that way. You sometimes wanted to be the one who was cared for and protected. You wanted to belong to someone, to have someone you could depend on, someone you could be sure of. At this moment, you don't feel that way, I know. But I want you to. I want to make you mine. Completely. This is my way of doing that. I know you well enough to be sure you would be far too embarrassed to let anyone else see you with no pubic hair. When you removed it for me you took a step toward becoming mine."

I was concentrating on my hand. You talk too much, I thought. He went on.

"That's why your embarrassment is a special gift to me. It's something I know you wouldn't give anyone else. I don't want you to even be able to give to anyone else. I want you totally for myself, completely committed to me. Everything I do over the next few weeks will help make you into that person. I want to possess you totally."

Something like that. I wasn't concentrating fully, but I got the gist. He seems to adopt a formal mode of speech when he talks about the psychology of our relationship. Almost as though he had rehearsed what he said.

Still, I was beginning to see. It did give me a warm feeling to know that he wanted for me to belong to him. Belong with a capital `B'. Like a slave. I was beginning to realize that there were layers beneath the surface of this game--things he had thought about more than I. As he continued to talk, I began to understand exactly where we were going, what was happening. At least I began to relax a little and feel comfortable. Everything started to fall into place. When he said he wanted me to be his slave he didn't mean as a servant; he meant someone with unreserved and absolute commitment. I dismissed the thought that this had been in his mind from the beginning, six months ago, even before we started writing those steamy mails. As he droned on in the same vein (he does tend to over-explain things sometimes) my mind wandered off on a tangent.

Ironically, what he wanted would give me a kind of power over him: it would be hard for him to find anyone else that would be willing to commit so deeply to him: the List contained some pretty personal stuff; not many women would go that far. And whatever he did to me, it was a measure of his commitment, because the List gave me license to respond in kind. However much he made me open up to him, he made himself just as vulnerable if I choose to exercise my rights. Vulnerable to me. My last coherent thought of the evening was:

The List is my safety net. He would not go beyond its limits. It is also a direct and tangible gauge of our commitment to each other.

I wasn't thinking with the clarity those words imply, but the ideas were there, and I gained comfort from the thought.

I became abruptly aware of my hand, still resting There, where he had told me to put it, and I stopped thinking altogether. I couldn't concentrate on anything else he was saying. I could only feel the weight and warmth of my hand resting on my smooth, hairless mons, through the damp, sheer cloth. I could feel every thread of the material. I became aware of the tightness of the elastic between my buttocks, the tautness of my breasts.... The temptation was irresistible to press down slightly with my hand. My eyes drifted shut and my hips moved, seemingly on their own.

Suddenly I was jerked to my feet. I found myself facing the fireplace; he was behind me holding my wrists tightly by my sides. I struggled feebly against him, to cover myself, but I couldn't move.

"We could stop now if you say the word. Once again: do you want to go on?" he said. "Total commitment?"

I understood what he was asking, but still I couldn't think. I didn't even understand why he was asking. It seemed so unnecessary to say anything. I know one should avoid cliches (like the plague?), but time really did seem to stand still. The fire crackled and flickered. I could feel the warmth on my front through the filmy cloth, his breath on my neck. I stared down into the fire, not moving, not breathing, suddenly at peace, serene, and, oddly, more in control of myself than he was.

It's funny how such an important decision can be made with so little effort. I felt as if I had been fighting a war all my life and in the middle I simply decided to give up and wander off the battlefield. I wanted so much to give up. So, idly, almost carelessly, with a single word, I abandoned the fortress I had unknowingly defended for a lifetime.

"Yes."

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