Hettie had to be talked into going. Then again, Hettie pretty much had to be talked into just about everything. Emily and Sammie had long ago gotten used to coaxing and cajoling their old college friend into going out with them, soothing the terminal anxiety that seemed to lurk behind just about every social opportunity for the slender redhead--bars were too noisy, coffee houses too pretentious, spas and salons nothing more than another chance for strangers to judge her appearance. If not for her friends, Hettie's comfort zone would no doubt have narrowed down to the width of her cosy old couch by the time she was thirty and she knew it. She was grateful to have them around to push her into doing the things she didn't think she was going to enjoy until she tried them.
This sounded better than most, but it still took a little bit of nudging. Luckily, Emily was more than up to the task. "There is going to be free food, Hettie," she intoned, holding out the printed ticket with an air of merciless determination that belied her chubby cheeks and sunflower blonde hair. "Free. Food. And not just any food, either. I looked up this Pierre St. Paul guy, the one whose brand new restaurant won't even be open for another two weeks? The one we get to eat at for free? He's like, a legend of molecular gastronomy. Apparently his first restaurant in Paris had a three month waiting period to get in. His second restaurant, the one in California? Schwarzenegger couldn't get a table there. While he was governor."
Sammie chimed in, her dark brown eyes shining with excitement as she bounced up and down with barely suppressed energy. "And then he, like, dropped off the grid for something like seven years. Just retreated into his test kitchen like Willy Wonka, perfecting new recipes. The Honeypot is his first new restaurant since 2008, and it's opening right here in Austin instead of New York or LA. And everybody knows about it, too--the dude is this... this fucking mad genius of dessert technology. He's going to have celebrities flying to Texas just to have dinner. If we don't go tonight? It will be a year before we get another chance, and the price will go up from 'free' to 'kiss your wallet goodbye'."
Hettie's brow furrowed in concern, and she was just certain that she looked for all the world like she was trying on her future little old lady expressions on her twenty-five year old face just to see how they fit. "And you're sure this is all legit?" she asked, teetering on the edge of being convinced by her friends' enthusiasm. "Only you got the tickets off the Internet, and you know what they say, there's no such thing as a free lunch...." Her teeth worried at her lower lip, a tell she wasn't even aware of that told Emily and Sammie that her resistance was on its last legs.
"They do this kind of thing all the time," Sammie burbled, her lustrous brown hair practically quivering in its high ponytail. "It helps them practice running the kitchen for an audience that's going to be pretty tolerant of mistakes and slow service, and it helps build word of mouth for the restaurant. Trust me, I've seen every season of 'Restaurant Impossible' and 'Bar Rescue'. Pre-opening events are totally legit. And we're going to get some of the best desserts in the history of ever. Now are you in, or are we going to have to invite Miss Buttercheeks to come with us?"
Hettie giggled, reaching out to rub the bright orange spot on the cheek of her calico cat. "Miss Buttercheeks isn't allowed chocolate," she said, affecting the prim and proper demeanor of an elderly schoolmarm. "I suppose I'll just have to go in her stead." She hopped up, taking the ticket and heading for the bedroom to change. "Could one of you just knock on Mrs. Vanderleigh's door and ask her to feed the kitty if I'm not back by ten? I'd hate for the poor thing to worry about me." And she was gone before Emily even had a chance to ask whether 'the poor thing' was the cat, or the next-door neighbor.
An hour later, and they were making the six-block hike from the only parking space they could find in downtown Austin to the restaurant. "Why did I choose tonight of all nights to wear my brand new heels?" Emily moaned, glaring down at her powder blue shoes as if they were the source of all the world's woes. "Ugggghhhhhhhh. I swear, if we don't get a chance to sit down soon, I'm going to saw off my own feet and demand that you carry me."
"But if we carry you, who'll carry me?" Sammi asked, wincing at the impact of her own pink platform heels on the pavement. "Can't be Hettie, she's got the car keys. She'll just leave us behind to starve and--ooh! There it is!" The brunette pointed across the street to a small building decorated with a wooden storefront varnished a rich warm shade of golden brown. A sign above the door said, 'The Honeypot - A Place to Relax', with both of the 'o's in 'Honeypot' made to look like they had a residue of honey around the rims. With a final burst of energy, the three darted across the street and presented their tickets at the door.
The maitre'd wasn't exactly what any of them expected from a fancy restaurant, though. He was a buff, tanned blond man who wore a white t-shirt so sheer and tight that all three of them expected him to at any moment simply shred it with a single flex like Hulk Hogan. He took their tickets and scanned the bar codes, then smiled at them vacantly and said, "Of course. Right this way." The moment he turned, all three women instantly noticed the shorts that had apparently been vacuum-sealed onto his firm buttocks.
He led them past a crowded room of full tables--the event hadn't quite started yet, but most of the other diners had already settled into their seats and were giving drink orders to a collection of waitstaff that looked every bit as toned and fit as their host--and sat them down at a four-top near the kitchens. "So, like, I'm Marco," he said, his voice a sing-song cadence of chipper enthusiasm, "and, like, welcome to the Honeypot! Is this your first time, or--oh, right!" He let out a tittering chuckle. "It's everyone's first time tonight." He rapped the side of his head. Hettie genuinely expected to hear a hollow booming sound.
"Anyway, y'all just wait here, I'll tell Bambi--she's your server--that you're here, and she'll take your drink and dessert orders. It's probably going to be a few minutes, 'cause we're just a leetle bit slammed right now, but I swear, she'll get to you in two shakes of a bun-bun's tail, I promise! Just sit back, relax, enjoy the ambulance, and take a load off your feet, okay?" Hettie suspected he meant 'ambiance', but she wasn't about to correct him. She was pretty sure if she opened her mouth right now she'd burst out laughing, and that would be mean to the poor man.
Emily glanced down at the menu. "Um, wait, dessert?" she asked, holding up a finger before the maitre'd could walk away. "Do... do you not serve real food here?" Hettie looked down at her own copy of the menu--sure enough, instead of steaks and burgers and pasta, the sections had headers like 'Baked Treats' and 'Frozen Concoctions', and the dishes had names like 'Sticky Cinnamon Apple Pie' and 'Pleasure Overdose Chocolate Brownies'. She flipped it over, but it was just more desserts on the other side. Everything from 'Whipped Marshmallow Fluff Brulee' to 'Honeycomb Sponge Cake'. It was an absolute testament to decadence, the likes of which Hettie had never even imagined before.
Marco chuckled. "This is the Honeypot, girls! We have only one rule here--life is short, eat dessert first!" And with that, he darted back into the crowded dining room, heading for the front where another party was already waiting with their tickets in hand.
With a shrug, Emily began examining the menu. "Jesus," she muttered, almost to herself. "This is some crazy fucking shit here. Listen to this one--'passion fruit-blood orange curd is spherified and added to a passion fruit-infused chamomile tea, for passion on top of passion on top of passion! Just the thing to add passion to your night." She looked up at the others. "What the hell is 'spherifying' something? Is that, like, scooping out little bits with a melon baller or something?"
Sammie shook her head. "No, that's, like, one of those molecular gastronomy things," she said, clearly eager to show the others that her years spent watching the Food Network hadn't been entirely in vain. "They take custard and they mix it with something, and then they drip it into a solution of something else, and it forms kind of like a super-thin jello skin. It's what they use to make bubble tea, I think. That's just basically fancy bubble tea." She shook her head. "I think I'll stick with something I know, like the tres leches cake."
Emily shook her head. "Oh, I wasn't going to get it," she said quickly. "I just don't even know what half the stuff on this menu is. Like, what the hell even is a 'powdered hazelnut tongue candy'? I know it says it's an addictive delight that carries notes of cacao and hazelnut, but what actually is it? I feel like I'm completely out of my depth here. Like, if there's one thing I thought I understood, it was dessert, but--omigod." Her finger stabbed at an item on the middle of the page. "'Cotton Candy Mousse'? I understand that, and I want it! Done and done. How about you, Hettie?"
Hettie stared intently at the menu, trying to make sense of the molecular gastronomy terms she saw. She didn't even know what silken tofu was, let alone what it meant to sous vide it with nutmeg and allspice, and while she understood 'kiwi fruit' and 'foam', they didn't seem like they went together without some extra words between them to make it all connect. "Oh, I don't know," she murmured, option paralysis and uncertainty suddenly making her want to dart back and wait in the car until the meal was over. "Maybe I'll just skip dessert?"
The others stared at her, aghast. "Oh, but you can't!" they said, virtually in unison. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to eat a dessert created by a master chef!" Emily went on, talking right over Sammie's efforts to say something similar. "Come on, there's got to be something that doesn't seem too scary for you. Just pick one at random, enjoy the adventure, live a little!" It was the same old story, Hettie's best friend wedging herself into that tiny comfort zone and pushing it apart with both hands. Despite herself, the redhead gave a little smile.
"Okay," she murmured. "I'll try the 'Honeycomb Sponge Cake'. What can it hurt?" With her decision made, she picked up the drinks menu and began to look for a cocktail she recognized.
Ten minutes of scrolling on their phones through social media later, Bambi finally arrived to take their order. "Hiiiii," she drawled, cocking her head slightly to one side like a golden retriever as she took out a notepad and pen. "I'm Bambi, and I'm going to be your waitress tonight." She let out a giggle, and Hettie found herself wondering where Pierre St. Paul found his staff. Was there a convention of fit, scatterbrained waitrons in town the day he was hiring or something? "Have y'all figured out what you want yet, or do you need a couple more minutes?"
"No, we're good!" Emily said quickly, her face betraying her desperation not to let the young woman get away. "I'm having the cotton candy mousse, Sammie here is doing the tres leches, and Hettie's having the honeycomb sponge cake. And for drinks... I'm having a Rusty Nail. Sammie, what was it you wanted? The Big Sister?" Sammie nodded. "And Hettie is getting a Virgin Pina Colada, because she's driving tonight." Hettie smiled, more than a little grateful for the extra reminder to the staff. Not that she had incredibly high hopes that Bambi here would remember, but she'd ask about it again when they got the drinks. It always paid to be extra safe when it came to unwanted alcohol.
Sure enough, by the time Hettie finally got a Pina Colada that hadn't been accidentally deflowered by the bartender, Sammie and Emily were on their second free drink of the night and their desserts had already arrived. "Dig on in, y'all," the scatterbrained waitress cheerfully announced, "and I'll be back later with the entree menu!" With another giggle, she made a beeline for one of her other tables. Hettie could see why they weren't charging anyone for this evening's meal.
Tentatively, she took a bite of her cake, and her eyes widened in absolute amazement at the flavor. The honey was darker and thicker than she was used to, with an aftertaste of malt that clung to her tastebuds and made the sponge seem richer and more complex. Tiny bits of honeycomb dripped from her spoon, providing an interesting textural aspect to the dessert that made the cake a delight for the senses. It was all she could do not to just shovel down bite after bite after bite, but Hettie genuinely wanted to savor every moment of this experience. She suddenly understood why people would drop three figures on a single meal if it tasted like this.
Emily, whose inhibitions had already been somewhat loosened by two Rusty Nails, resisted temptation a little less well. She scooped up one heaping spoonful of mousse after another, swallowing them in a motion that was... if not shoveling, then troweling at the very least. "Omgmf, so good!" she mumbled between bites, her eyes wide with almost orgasmic bliss. "S'like, um, cotton candy, but not fluffy, but still fluffy? Mmmmmh!" Hettie had a pretty good idea of what her friend meant behind the garbled description; the mousse looked silken, so full of bubbles that it seemed almost to float on top of the dish. Hettie thought about asking for a taste, but her plate was so full of cake that she had no idea how she was going to fit in an entree.
Judging by the look on her face, Sammie was just as enchanted by her dessert. "Ohhhhh!" she moaned, sounding almost orgasmic in her appreciation of every bite. "This is just... oh god, it's the best tres leches cake ever! I didn't think anything could compare to La Mexicana, but this... this is like heaven in my mouth! The milk they use, it's... it's...." She closed her mouth around another forkful, holding it on her tongue with every evidence of absolute rapture in her expression. "I don't care if we have to wait a year and eat ramen every day of it, I am coming back here again."
Privately, Hettie hoped that the restaurant used at least a little of that time to improve their service--Bambi seemed to have disappeared entirely, and the rich dessert was sitting heavily in her stomach alongside the sweet, fruity cocktail. She was aching for a glass of water and some protein, but although there were plenty of waitresses serving up desserts to the customers, she had no idea where their server was. Hettie frowned, but her friends didn't seem too bothered. And Hettie dreaded the idea of making a fuss, especially when the food was free.
The same didn't usually hold true for Emily, but strangely, the blonde woman didn't seem overly bothered when she reached the end of her cocktail and no refill was forthcoming. "I wonder where Bimbi--Bimbam--Bambi Bimbo is," she mumbled, her words slurring ever so slightly as she stared blearily at the empty glass. She blinked owlishly, tipping the last few drops into her mouth before setting it down and using her finger to scoop up the last little bits of mousse. "Maybe it's a good thing," she said, swaying gently in her seat. "I think the drinks might be a little strong here. I don't know if I need any more...." Emily enunciated the last word carefully, as if afraid she might trip over a stray syllable. "Al-co-hol."
Hettie had a sudden chill of anxiety. She'd been passing off the dizzy sensation in the back of her head as a minor sugar rush, nothing more than the result of eating a whole plateful of cake on an empty stomach. But what if they'd made a mistake with the drinks after all? She hadn't tasted any rum, but maybe they just put in a little less and it was virgin only by comparison with the incredibly strong drinks they normally served here. "Um, excuse me," she said, slipping off to the restroom.
Hettie went straight to the sink and splashed cold water on her face, hoping to get the blood flowing and purge any alcohol in her system. But if anything, it only seemed to make her dizzier. She leaned down to the faucet, awkwardly positioning her head to activate the motion sensitive spout, but even taking a long drink from the cool stream didn't help. She patted her face dry, her anxiety growing, and returned to her seat.
"Has Bambi been back yet?" she asked when she got back. Neither one of her friends answered. Sammie seemed a little bit worse for wear; she was sitting in her chair, staring off into the middle distance with a slightly glassy look in her brown eyes, placidly reaching out to nibble on the last few crumbs of her cake. She smacked her lips together slowly, as though she was trying to rub every little morsel around the inside of her mouth to try to saturate the flavor onto her tongue.
And Emily... Emily was playing with her long, cornflower blonde hair. She had a lock of it twined in her fingers and she was twirling it around and around, occasionally reaching out to her dish and smearing her finger around in the hopes of grabbing a last few molecules of mousse. "I think I need more dessert," she mumbled, staring down at the bowl with a slightly forlorn expression on her face. "That wasn't very filling. Can we get Bambi to bring us more dessert?" Hettie frowned. One of the things about going to college with someone was that if there was any chance at all of seeing them drunk, it was probably going to happen by the time they graduated. This didn't look like Drunk Emily. This looked... weird.
"Ems, you need protein, not dessert," she said, trying to keep herself from sounding condescending and failing badly. "Let's find Bambi, let's get her to come back, and let's see if she can't give us something like a chicken sandwich for you, okay? Let's just--" Hettie slid off of her chair, uncomfortably aware of just how much more difficult the maneuver was than before. Her legs felt strangely wobbly, as though all they wanted to do was relax into a seated position and stay that way forever. It wasn't anything like the loss of coordination she'd experienced on those few unfortunate occasions when she overindulged. It was more like she'd taken a strong dose of cold medication. Hettie didn't like it one bit.
She turned, and barely suppressed a yelp when she found Bambi standing right behind her with another round of drinks and desserts. "Hi!" she burbled cheerfully, setting the food on the table before 'helping' Hettie back into her chair. "Sorry about the wait, you know, first night jitters and all that. Here, have some more dessert on the house!" The scatterbrained waitress giggled. "Well, I guess everything's on the house tonight, right? Dig in!" Emily and Sammie didn't need any encouragement. They both picked up their spoons and began to take quick, methodical bites of their food as if determined to consume every last morsel before Bambi returned.
Hettie's frown deepened, and her brow furrowed in a mix of anxiety and consternation. "Um, I think we wanted... entrees?" she replied, discovering to her surprise that the sentence twisted into a question in her mouth. She thought she was sure what she wanted, but somehow that antihistamine fog clouded up her determination and energy and left her unable to put up more than a token protest. Even a fluffy little marshmallow of a person like Bambi seemed to be able to cow her in her current state without really trying.
The waitress patted her reassuringly on the shoulder. "Don't worry, sweetie, they're coming," she said, even though Hettie was sure they hadn't put in an order or even seen a menu yet. "You just sit back, relax, drink your drinky-poos, and I'll come back to take care of you later." With a last flirtatious smile, she wandered off to her other tables. Hettie watched her go, and discovered to her shock and dismay that something of a change had come over the other diners as well.
They also seemed subdued, but some of them--the ones who'd been there when Hettie and the others arrived, the ones who'd gotten their desserts first--looked more than just relaxed. They looked blissed out, as though they'd gotten so drunk that they could barely even move. A few of them were lazily petting themselves, stroking their own arms in a vague, drowsy reverie of pleasure that appeared almost sensual to Hettie. She looked back at her friends. "Um, y'all? We don't need to wait for a check, why don't we--"
Emily was draining the last of her drink, giggling as the garnish fell out of the glass and smacked her lightly in the nose before dropping to the table. "Whoops!" she chirped, another giggle escaping her lips as she tried to put it back in the glass and missed. "I'm such a klutz!" Her second serving of mousse was completely gone now, and even as Hettie watched, the blonde lifted the bowl to her face and began to lick it clean.
And Sammie... her cake was halfway gone and she was sitting there staring vacantly into space. She chewed every bit slowly and carefully with lazy, circular motions of her jaw. She'd already finished her drink as well, but that wasn't what startled Hettie. By this point, she fully expected both of her friends to have succumbed to whatever allure the cuisine The Honeypot had to offer. No, what left Hettie stunned and staring in utter shock at her long-time friend was her chest.
Sammie's dress had visibly tightened around the chest, filling out another fraction of an inch even as Hettie watched. Her breasts pressed against the pink satin, nipples now clearly outlined beneath the thin fabric. And slowly, inexorably, two wet spots expanded from those same nipples. Hettie didn't have to be told what they were. As impossible as it seemed--hell, as impossible as it was--her friend had started to lactate right there at the table.
"Um... y'all?" Hettie murmured. "I, um... I think they put something in our drinks." She looked at the Pina Colada in front of her in mounting horror, pushing it away with fingers that suddenly seemed numb and uncoordinated and succeeding only in knocking it over. "I, I think we should get out of here before s-something bad happens." She struggled to overcome the waves of lethargy that swamped her weary body, to force herself to rise, but her legs barely twitched in response.
Emily set down the bowl, now completely empty, and stared at her in confusion. "Something bad? Like what?" she asked, tiny giggles bubbling up now around every syllable. "I'm out of cotton candy stuff, does that count?" The thought seemed to strike her as absurdly funny, and soon her chest was heaving with laughter. It seemed a little larger too, although Emily had more to start with on that score. "I think I ate so much I shoved it up into my brain!" she crowed, tears streaming down her cheeks as she chortled at her own joke. "I got a brain full of cotton candy mooses, Hets!"
"Yes you do," Bambi cut in smoothly, stepping in between the two with another round of desserts. Hettie would have jumped at the waitress's sudden appearance, but her body no longer felt capable of movement of any kind. "It feels good to have a cotton candy brain, doesn't it, sweetie pie?" Emily nodded enthusiastically, scooping up handfuls of mousse and shoving them into her mouth as though she'd forgotten how utensils worked. Maybe she had, Hettie thought bleakly. She struggled to rise, but it was all she could do now to push back the fog in her sluggish brain.
Bambi glanced over at Hettie, her eyes widening in dismay as she saw the still-intact slice of honeycomb sponge cake. "Oh! Someone's not eating!" she gasped, a scolding tone creeping into her voice as she picked up the fork and loaded it up with dessert before pulling Hettie's jaw down with her free hand. "You need to finish all your food, cutie," she cooed as she pushed the sweet, soft cake into Hettie's mouth and closed her lips over it. "We made it for you special and all. Chew and swallow, there's a good girl."
Hettie's muscles, so reluctant to follow her mental instructions, effortlessly went to work finishing off the forkful of cake in her mouth. She parted her lips as soon as she was done, somehow unable to prevent herself from eating more and more at Bambi's condescending behest. "You made a good pick with that," the waitress cooed, forcing the dessert down her throat one helplessly compelled bite at a time. "It means you'll be working the back of the house, probably doing prep or washing dishes when Master's not using you as his fucktoy, but... the drones live in bliss forever, pretty girl. Your brain is going to drown in it, just like swimming through honey."
Past Bambi, Hettie could see her friends despite her gradually unfocusing vision. Emily had leaned back in her chair and spread her legs, her giggles mingling with squeals of delight as she reached down between her thighs and began to masturbate inside her panties. She no longer seemed to have any inhibitions at all, and soon the heady scent of her pussy mingled with the flavor of honey cake in Hettie's mouth. Emily's smile grew more and more vacant, her eyes shining with pleasure as she grunted in orgasmic release.
And Sammie... Sammie had pulled down her dress, ripping the seams in the process until it hung about her waist in tatters, and yanked her now ill-fitting bra away from her breasts. No, not breasts anymore--there was only one word for them now, they were udders. They dripped milk around Sammie's fingers, the cake now forgotten as she squeezed and tugged her nipples to release stream after stream of warm fresh milk into one of Emily's empty bowls. The creamy liquid sprayed everywhere, even dripping onto Hettie's cake, but she couldn't bring herself to mind anymore. She could barely bring herself to think.
Each individual thought grew increasingly disconnected from the others, so slow and sluggish that Hettie could no longer assemble them into a chain of reasoning. She was aware that she was responding automatically to Bambi's commands now, methodically opening and closing her mouth to swallow the second and third helping of dessert the waitress had brought, and she was aware that she was disassociating into the thick, honeyed flavor on her tongue. Her body seemed increasingly distant, her mind only a passive and drowsy passenger within it, and she was certain that there was no coming back from this journey. But at the same time, she felt a warm, lazy bliss saturate her every pore and cell as she chewed and swallowed more of the drugged cake, growing stronger and stronger until it was the only thing she noticed anymore.
She heard a voice, Bambi's voice, saying, "I think they're all ready at last, Master," but Hettie could no longer associate words with meanings any more than she could associate the visual input of her vacantly staring eyes with events. She didn't realize that Emily was pulling off her clothes, lewdly and openly shoving three fingers into her cunt while she moaned in helpless bliss. She didn't really understand that Sammie was now thoughtlessly mooing as she milked herself into the half-full bowl. She only knew she was happy at last, free from anxiety to a degree she'd never known before. Her teeth worried at her lower lip for a moment, a tell she absolutely didn't recognize anymore but one that signified that her resistance was on its last legs.
Then Bambi put another forkful of cake to her lips, and Hettie opened wide at last.