Alicia clutched her bag tightly as she walked through the cold air. It hadn’t been that bad before the sun went down. The entrance was only fifty meters from where she’d parked, but it seemed so far. The warm blast of air she felt entering the hotel was heavenly. There was nobody at reception. They must have stepped out for a second, she thought. That suited her just fine.
In the several hours since Master had given her the instructions, she had ample time to reflect on it. Externally, she was very composed, Master’s command to stop crying had seen to that. I must obey my master above all else. But she found genuine comfort in the realisation that once Master had Zoe, she in turn would be able to find joy in obeying her master and striving to please her superiors. Alicia would never have believed just how satisfying it could be if she hadn’t experienced it firsthand.
Alicia would always love Zoe, and it hurt her deeply to know that soon Zoe may not care about her anymore. But she would be happy. And that was the most important thing. Zoe was going to be Master’s favourite. She felt a surge of happiness at that thought, and a genuine smile broke out on her face.
She pulled out the swipe card and unlocked the door.
“Hey, I’m home!” she announced. There was no response. She flicked the light on and walked through. There was nobody here. She’s probably looking for me, she thought. She cursed Zoe’s paranoia. If she ever turned her phone on, she’d be able to get in touch straight away. She heard the door click from behind. She turned to look just in time to see… the guy from the front office? She strained to recall his name now that he wasn’t wearing his tag.
“Hello Alicia,” the man said. He was tall, muscular, bronzed. She may not have recalled his name, but she did remember that Zoe had been making eyes at him when they first checked in.
“Um hi, do you know… do you know where Zoe is?” Alicia said. Why the hell is he here anyway? Did Zoe invite him up? That would be a Zoe thing to do. He looked like he’d give great massages, amongst other things.
“I don’t,” he said, then bolted the door shut from the inside.
“What are you doing?” she said.
“Just making sure you aren’t going to run away again. All I know is that she’s away from here. Zoe wanted me to ask you a few questions. Where were you today?”
“I went to work,” said Alicia. Ok, not good. Very not good. She started scanning the room for potential exits. There was no way she was going to be able to take on this guy in a physical confrontation.
“And what exactly is this place you work?”
Alicia paused before answering. Zoe has definitely worked him over, she thought. What the hell does she know? She needed to think very carefully here.
“Bateman-Holloway. It’s an investment firm near the waterfront.”
“I’m familiar with it. And what’s your relationship with Alexander Bateman?”
“Well?” he said.
“He’s my boss,” she replied.
“From what Zoe’s told me, he’s not what you’d call an ordinary boss. Have you noticed any kind of strange behaviour amongst the staff?”
Alicia paused again. Zoe knew. Somehow, she knew about Master, about his influence. Denying it was a dead end. Even if I get past this guy, I need to find a way to her. A new plan started to form in her mind. She was going to have to switch gears completely.
“I… no. It’s a totally normal workplace,” she said. “I love working for Master, and so do all the other girls,” she said, then put on big smile.
“Working for… master?” he said. “Jesus, it’s worse than we thought. You stay right the fuck where you are,” he said, then fished out a cell phone.
Alicia stood silently.
“Yeah, hey, could you get her on the line now? Alicia’s here with me.” He waited a few moments. “Yes. Yeah, she’s definitely under his control to some extent. She called him master”. He looked over to her. “Wait what? Are you sure that’s a good idea? No, she doesn’t seem hostile but… No, I… of course I would. Yes, I’ll see you soon.”
He hung up and put the phone away in his pocket. He was clearly upset by whatever Zoe had just told him. He started pacing towards her.
“Alright, you’re coming with me. But if you try anything, absolutely anything to hurt her, I will fucking end you. Do you understand?”
Zoe gripped Grace’s phone in her hand. She struggled to control her breathing. Grace sat behind her on the couch, one hand on her shoulder.
“Hey, hey, we’re going to fix all this, right?” she said.
Zoe didn’t know if it was even possible. She had no idea what Alexander was capable of, but if he already had his hooks this far into Alicia, she might be a lost cause.
“We’re going to try,” Zoe replied. “I just...” She started welling up, but caught herself. “Of all the places in the whole world we could have picked, we chose that one. Alicia was so excited...” She almost choked eking out her name.
Grace dropped down to the ground and shuffled over in front to look her in the eyes.
“Look, this is all new to me. What you’ve said about this guy... And even meeting you… I just mean, two days ago I never would have believed you if you’d told me this was all going to happen. This is all completely crazy, and it’s happened so fast! But I want you to know that whatever it takes, I promise you we’ll get her back,” she said.
Zoe didn’t know what to say. Grace clearly hadn’t thought this far ahead either. They both sat, face inches apart, and she was trembling. Zoe kissed her.
Grace was such a sweet person. When Zoe had called her a few hours ago, she walked out of class and dropped everything to help her. When Zoe got to her apartment, it was in a freakishly clean state and Grace had just finished baking cookies for her. They honestly weren’t very good, but that wasn’t the point.
Zoe pushed her onto the ground and dropped down on top of her. Zoe was always worried about her life catching up to her, but she hadn’t felt this genuinely stressed since… well, not since she first escaped. She needed this. She started removing Grace’s clothes and nibbled on her ear. Grace moaned.
“Oh God, Zoe...”
Soon they were both naked, grinding against each other and lost in the moment. The floor was carpeted, at least. Zoe started eating her out, and Grace reciprocated. She was awkward, but passionate. Zoe got Grace off much quicker, her own pleasure distracting her from the task at hand. Zoe, of course, was very practised. They sat and enjoyed the moment.
“Thank you,” said Grace.
“It was a joint effort,” Zoe replied.
“No I mean… for everything. For letting me be near you.” Zoe could see that she was still overwhelmed. She’d seen it before, of course. But it was always so delicious. “I’ve only known you for a day, but I… I don’t know… I…”
“It’s ok, I know what you mean. Once we… well once we have Alicia back to normal, I’d be happy for you to tag along with us. I mean, once the semester was over.”
“Do you really mean that?” she replied, with stars in her eyes.
“Of course,” she replied. Grace was almost unable to cope with it.
“Oh thank you, thank you, thank you thank you...”
The pair pulled themselves together and sat back down on the couch. Zoe ate another cookie as they waited.
Ten minutes later, there was a knock on the door. Grace stood up and peeked through the spyhole.
“It’s them,” she said. “They’re alone.”
“Ok… ok let’s fucking do this.”
Grace opened the door and stepped aside. Enrique held Alicia’s arm in a firm grip and walked her through the door. Grace swung it shut behind her.
“Hi everyone,” said Alicia enthusiastically. Zoe’s heart dropped.
“I don’t think she’s violent,” said Enrique. “But she’s got a few screws loose, that’s for sure.”
Zoe walked up to her and had a close look. She was indeed wearing her “work clothes”. It didn’t look like she’d been harmed at least. Zoe turned to the others.
“Could you all give us some space? I want to speak with her alone. Enrique, could you watch the corridor?”
“Of course, anything you want,” he said, smiling.
He walked out and closed the door behind him. Grace went into the bathroom, shut the door and turned on the fan. Zoe gently led Alicia over to sit down on the couch. God, how do I start? What could I possibly ask? It took her a few moments.
“When did it happen, Alicia?”
“When did what happen?” she said.
“We all know he’s done something to you. I think he can do things. Kind of like me, but different. It must have been during the interview, right?”
“The details of that interview are confidential,” Alicia replied. Zoe wanted to slap herself. She’d said that right after she came out of the interview, twice! It was right in front of her, plain as day.
“Alicia, do you love me?” she said. Alicia looked up at her with a big smile.
“Of course I love you, Zoe. I don’t think I could ever not.”
“Then I need you to try and fight this. You realise that he did this all to you, don’t you?”
“Yeah. But so did you,” she said. The words lodged themselves in Zoe like a dagger. “Knowing about it doesn’t do a damn thing to stop it, does it? You know that.”
Zoe knew she was right. She’d stolen Alicia out of college in the prime of her life. Alicia had loved every minute of it. She couldn’t not love it. Zoe had seen to that.
“I don’t want you to be upset, Zoe. You know I’ve treasured the time we spent together. I wouldn’t have traded it for the world. But I… I can’t do anything else. I must obey my master above all else.”
It was far too late to not be upset. She was wracked with guilt. She’d spent years just rushing from one thrill to the next, not caring about the damage she was doing to people’s lives. They were just disposable tools for her pleasure and amusement, to be drained of what they had and discarded. The worst part was, she liked it. The knowledge that they’d be left pining after her for years to come was something that turned her on so fucking much. She knew it was wrong, but it just felt soooo good. She never chose to have this power. But who could resist the temptation to use it?
Am I any better than he is? she wondered. It didn’t matter. She could never let him have her.
“I’m so sorry Alicia,” she said, starting to cry. “I… I never wanted you to get hurt. But I need to do this just one more time.”
Alicia didn’t writhe or try to escape. She must have known what was about to happen. Zoe reached in herself to find it once again. That power she loved and loathed. She tensed up, and then she pushed it. Harder than she had in a very long time. She felt the scent washing over Alicia. Her pupils twitched, then dilated completely. Alicia’s breathing intensified, as her body tried it’s best to suck up as much of it as it possibly could.
Zoe had no clue at all as to whether she could truly undo what he’d done to her. But there was one lingering hope. If she could intensify Alicia’s devotion to her, if she could extend her own control over her, then was it not possible that she could hold more sway? That she could supplant his control?
“That was… I…” she began, struggling to contain herself. “Oh god, I love you Zoe, I love you I love you I-”
“I love you too,” she said, placing one finger on her lips to interrupt her. “But how much do you love me?”
“I… More than I ever knew was possible, oh god you can’t understand how this feels, Zoe… I don’t even have the words…” She was staring at Zoe, completely enraptured. “You’re… like a goddess, but more...”
“I like that. But if I’m a goddess, I need you to obey me. Can you do that for me Alicia?”
“Yes! Yes! Anything, anything in the world!”
“Then tell me about the interview. What happened?”
Alicia froze up. She looked like she wanted to speak, so so badly.
“I… the… details… of… that interview… are… argh!”
“Come on Alicia, you can do, I know you can. Do it for me.”
Zoe couldn’t imagine what this felt like for Alicia. She must have been torn up inside. Pulled in two impossible directions. She hated herself for putting her through all this. But she needed her to break free of his control. Even if she’s free of his control, is she ever going to be the same again?
“You’re so close, just a little bit more!”
Zoe couldn’t hold it in anymore. Tears were streaming down her face. She pressed her head up against Alicia’s and held her. Then, there was a breakthrough.
“I will obey,” she said. Zoe Looked up into her eyes. There was… clarity? She almost looked calm. Collected. Obedient. She couldn't believe it. “Master started asking me questions, but I felt a headache. It was really bad. Then I don’t know what happened. I sort of zoned out, and he started saying things to me. Things that were true, but I don’t think they were before he said them,” she said. It fucking worked!
“Go on. What happened next?” Zoe said. She was still in partial disbelief, but she needed to push through. Her heart was pounding.
“Um… He had his secretary give him a blowjob during the interview. It was weird, but I wasn’t bothered by any of this. He explained a few things to me quickly. Then he offered me the job, and told me to start work today.”
This was what she needed. This was the wedge that she could use to drive him out completely.
Zoe spent the next few hours slowly working through Alicia’s programming. At first, the extent of his control wasn’t clear, but she gradually mapped it out. She asserted her own control, then countermanded the instructions. It was hard for Alicia. She almost had a breakdown at several points, but she soldiered on. Alicia was always so strong.
One of the hardest things to crack was her adherence to this dress code. Convincing her that she didn’t need to wear that Pencil skirt / jacket ensemble and go to work in it anymore was a major uphill battle. Eventually she relented, and after she changed into some of Zoe’s clothes she seemed to relax a lot more. She always liked that red sweater – even though it didn’t properly fit her. But as long as it wasn’t that creepy asshole’s work gear, she was happy to let her wear whatever.
Satisfied that she’d done enough, she was completely exhausted. They both were. She sent Enrique away, and asked Grace if she wouldn't mind sleeping on the couch just for tonight. It was really not a spacious bed for two, and she wanted to spend it with Alicia, alone.
As they settled into bed, the two embraced, but were too tired to make love. Instead, they just enjoyed the moment. They fell asleep gazing into each other’s eyes. I’ll make it all up to her, Zoe thought as she drifted off.
Alicia waited. Then she waited some more. When she heard Zoe snoring, she counted to two-hundred. She delicately moved her limbs, one at a time to the edge of the bed, then waited to see if there was a reaction. She was out like a light.
Moments later, she was out of bed entirely. She could barely see anything, the room lit only by the faintest bits of moonlight that made it around the corners of blinds, but she’d made sure to memorise the layout before the light was switched off. She carefully fumbled her way to where Zoe’s bag was, and she carried a pillow with her. She fished out Zoe’s phone and prayed that it was charged. She turned it on, then immediately placed the pillow over the top of it to suppress noise. She felt it buzz, waited to listen for a reaction from Zoe, then lifted the pillow, careful not to let any light shine out unimpeded.
She pulled up the text messages, and then punched in a number she’d memorised earlier.
Spilling the details of the interview was possibly the hardest thing Alicia had ever done in her life. The psychological drain was immense. But there was a far more important command inside her.
I’m so sorry, Zoe.