I looked at Girl By Lakeside with my best critical eye. The colour contrast was excellent, as were the lines and the focus. That camping trip had been the best idea, just what I'd needed to restore my confidence. Still, I'd only worked on one painting and a few pencil sketches in the two weeks since then, but, baby steps. I was in the studio at least an hour a day, which was a lot better than before the trip.
Girl By Lakeside was pretty close to done. I could probably call it finished, but there was still something missing, something I couldn't put my finger on. Of course, at some point, I knew I had to let it go, and if I didn't, well, that could lead to another spiral like I'd had at Christmas. And we couldn't just keep going camping to deal with that; Tia had to work.
I looked at the clock. It had definitely been an hour, and I'd been at it for an hour that morning, too. That was enough. I wanted a shoulder rub.
I cleaned my brushes, and noticed it sitting there by the sink. The ouroboros. The silver pendant that Tia and I used to play little hypnotic mind games with each other. If I had it, that meant that at some point Tia had used it on me. That was the rule: once we were done with suggestions, we passed off the pendant. It was so automatic when it happened that neither of us really noticed when we gave it away, or received it.
Tia was downstairs on the couch. It was a lazy Sunday, so I knew she would have a good store of energy. I hung my paint-stained smock—the only thing I usually wore in the studio—on its hook, and slipped the pendant over my head. Once Tia saw the pendant around my neck (or actually, once she saw the ouroboros between my breasts) she'd be completely in my hypnotic power. Those were the rules. I giggled. That shoulder rub was all mine.
I walked out of the studio. "Hey Teee-aaaah..." I called down in a sing-song voice.
"What iiiis iiiit Pelllll...?" came back to me.
I started down the stairs. "I waaaant somethiiiing..."
I could see her lounging on the couch in the living room, head up to see me coming down the stairs, a book sitting open and upside down on the table. She was still in her sleepwear, light purple knee-length sweat shorts and a long light blue t-shirt. It was both strangely innocent and wonderfully sexy, and I loved the way that light colours contrasted with her dark skin. "Oh reaaaaalyyyyy...."
I laughed, coming down the stairs in full view, standing on the bottom stair, waiting for her eyes to just lock on to the pendant.
She raised her eyebrows. "Pel? What is it?"
I looked down. I was wearing the pendant. "Tia? Can you see me?"
I recognized that look in her eyes, that fun combination of playful and smug.
"Tia, what did you do?" I stepped down and walked towards her.
She grinned. "What do you mean?"
I pointed to the ouroboros.
She looked. Straight at it. No mistaking the angle of her gaze.
And then she shrugged. "Yeah?"
"It's... It's the... What... Why..." I stammered.
She said, "You know the rules, Pel. The ouroboros only works if the wearer's naked."
Everything in her expression and tone told me that she knew that this was exactly what would happen.
Finally I look down at myself. My smock had been covering my own grubby sweat pants and messy t-shirt. It wasn't that I thought I had been naked, just that I hadn't thought about it at all.
"Well, alright, Miss Smartie Pants, I'll just... uh..." I reached for the hem of my t-shirt.
"You'll just what?"
She was just lucky that I found her smugness sexy.
"I'll just..." I gripped my shirt.
"Nope?" I still held my shirt.
"Bet you won't."
"Think I won't?"
"Know you can't."
I was still holding the hem of my t-shirt.
She was still right up next to me, grinning.
I didn't know the next step to take off my shirt. Something I'd done every day of my life for nearly thirty years, and I didn't know how to do it.
"Why can't I—"
"Because only I can remove your clothing, that's why." She smirked.
I huffed. "Tia!"
She giggled again and kissed me full on the mouth. "You thought you were gonna mess with me but I messed with you first!"
"Teeeaaaaahhh..." I whined.
She touched my forehead and things went strange for a moment. I felt her hands on my hips, then sliding down my bare legs, and gently helping my feet out of my sweat pants, before her fingers stroked my pussy through my underwear, making me gasp and everything came clear again.
"H-hey!" I protested, blushing. "That's not what I came down here for!"
She kept rubbing. "That doesn't matter, right, Pel?"
I pressed forward into her fingers to show her that I wasn't really all that upset. Still... "I want my shoulder rub," I said.
"Oh, is that what you came down here for?" Tia laughed, still rubbing my labia. "I'm sure you'll get one... later." She stopped, and I moaned.
"Alright, I give up," I said, catching my breath. "What do I have to do to get my massage?"
"Just play my game," she grinned.
I sighed, trying to convincingly fake annoyance, but I knew Tia saw right through me. I was already having fun. "What's the game?"
"Same game as always, Pel." She sat down on the couch. "Make me."
"Alright," I knelt down beside her. I opened my mouth. A wave of confusion came over me, and things went a little blurry.
She put a finger under my chin and lifted my eyes to meet hers. The fog cleared up immediately. "No triggers, Pel. That would be cheating. There are rules."
I grumbled, but that made sense. Instead, I ran my fingers over her leg. "D'you like that, love?" I asked.
Tia let out a slow breath. "Mmm, yeah," she said. "You know, I nearly called you down for this about twenty minutes ago..."
I pressed my fingers into the pit of her knee, careful to get the pressure right; too heavy and I'd hurt her, too light and she'd be tickled, and she hated being hurt or tickled. But with just the right touch...
Tia moaned. I got it right. I usually did. "That's it, love, just feel the touch of my fingers. Listen to the sound of my voice. Relax, and let my fingers do their job."
She moaned again. I leaned in and started kissing her belly as her shirt rode up. She squirmed. Her hands ran through my hair.
I dug in again with my fingers. "See how nice that feels? And you know how nice it is when you just lie back and listen, all the things I can do with you and your mind..." I went back to kissing her belly.
She made a sound like a cross between a purr and a yawn, which I took as the perfect time to stop. I pulled my hands away.
She blinked. "Pel? What's..."
I raised myself up to my full height. "Want more?"
"God yes," she breathed in the sexiest way imaginable.
I got up and sat next to her, and whispered in her ear. "Think of how nice it would be to touch me, to press our bodies together. Remember how nice it is to see me undressed, to hold me close, to share our warmth and our love..."
She looked a little dazed, the effect of my touch, my words, her imagination, the general hypnotic mood in the air. "Not fair..."
"Just playing by your rules, Tia," I said, "and those rules say that you want to kiss me, to touch me, to see me naked."
Her hands twitched, a good sign. I took her arms, guided her hands to my shirt.
"Okay," she said, her voice a bit airy. "You get this one." I lifted my arms in the air and she pulled my shirt over my head, leaving me in my underwear.
As I brought my arms down I brought them around her and I pulled her over quickly, trying to give her a bit of a shock. "Let your mind follow your body, down, down into my lap, dropping down deep, so far down for me, love, so just relax, and drop, and sleep..." I wasn't much good with surprise inductions generally, but she was already halfway there, and she didn't really want to fight me.
"And when you wake up, you're just going to fixate on how much fun it will be to undress me, to see me naked. Nothing else will be as important, you understand?"
"Umhmmmm," she drawled.
"Good. So now, love, take a few deep breaths," I slowed the pace of my speech, watching her. "Start to sit up, let that energy come back, and," I felt her go from limp in my arms to feeling her muscles engage, little by little, "wake up, love."
It still took her a moment to get to a sitting position. Her eyes were open, but they had that haunted nobody's home look for a moment or two before they focused. Then she giggled.
"Nice try," she said in that dreamy, syrupy post-trance voice she gets. "Put your legs up here on my lap. I remember my game and I'm not gonna let you off that easy. You'll get naked, just not right now."
I shifted back to lie across the couch, and Tia reached up and slowly, very slowly slid my panties down my legs, obviosuly enjoying every second of it. Meanwhile, I just lay back and let her work, feeling her small fingers slipping down my legs, closing my eyes as my underwear passed over my ankles and off my body. And then feeling her fingers starting to walk back up my legs.
"Thought you could get two for the price of one?" she asked me, her hands on my thighs. "And thought you could persuade me with teasing and hypnotism?"
Her fingers brushed my lower lips. Wonderful electric shocks passed through my body. "It had... crossed my mind."
"Uh huh, I bet." With pinpoint laser accuracy, she crooked a finger, and every one of my muscles convulsed. I loved how she could do that. "You left me wanting more."
"More... more what?" I asked, trying to catch my breath.
"More sex. More hypnotism. More you." Fingers. That was all that I could concentrate on. "And you know what? I know you're a devious, sneaky, clever girl, and that you'd find some way around the rules."
"Didn't break one," I managed to gasp. "Followed them... all..."
"Because you're also a good girl," she said. "Just like me."
"Yeah..." I moaned. One of her hands was still working between my legs, the other was stroking my collarbone, and I was losing my mind.
"So I gave you a few rules to follow. And like a good girl, you've followed every one. So it's..." she paused. I pressed my hips into her fingers, my body begging for more. "So it's time for your reward."
My body exploded with joy and delight and I heard myself screaming as I came. It seemed to go on forever. Tia's fingers and words kept urging me on, more and more, there on the couch as I shivered and twitched and dug my hands into the cushions.
Finally, finally, I took a few deep gulps of air. "Holy crap. Wow. Oh wow, Tia. Wow."
Smug Tia was back. "I take that as a compliment."
We laughed together for a moment, then caught our breaths. "I guess the game's over, huh," I said.
Tia nodded. "I need some water, you?"
"Yeah, I sure do."
"'Kay, be right back," she said, getting to her feet and padding off to the kitchen. Meanwhile, I removed my bra, since the game was over, and felt the ouroboros land in my cleavage, its cold metal a wonderful comfort.
Tia came around the corner with two glasses in her hand to see me sitting there, naked, with the pendant hanging down between my breasts. Her eyes immediately locked on to the silver charm and all the expression drained from her face.
Looked like I'd be getting my shoulder rub after all. And a lot more.