The weekend had been hell.
It wasn't so much that she had things to do. Actually, that was kind of the problem; after a long week, she'd been looking forward to catching up on her sleep. But Saturday morning, even before the working day would have begun, the removals truck arrived in the street and the unloading began.
Alice hadn't really processed that the house next door had sold; she'd only vaguely noticed it was for sale, after the elderly couple who used to own it moved to somewhere better sized for their needs, and for sale it had stayed for the better part of two years.
Honestly that had been how she liked it; when she was home from work, she wanted peace, quiet, and the freedom to blast music as loud as she wanted, if she wanted, and with her house being on the end of the road, only attached to an empty building, she'd had that peace long enough now to be used to it.
The noise of the new neighbours' move kept her from lying in, and kept her from really having much focus on anything until mid-afternoon, when the truck departed and she knew comparative peace again.
In the kitchen, attending to the teapot, she had her first clear view of her neighbours, a young couple, perhaps five or six years her own junior, the man in a polo shirt with what looked like a work logo on it from a distance, nothing special, the woman...
A stunning creation, she was, and creation felt the right word. Alice was sure surgery had been involved in those lips, those breasts, and probably her face, given how little her expression seemed to waver from a bright, happy, empty beaming smile. Of course, she didn't look like she had much going on upstairs, even if calling bottle blondes dumb blondes would usually be unfair.
They seemed an unlikely match but, as she reminded herself, if it didn't take all sorts the world at least had all sorts.
Still, there was no sign of the presence of a child in their life, and they didn't seem like the type to be too noisy, so things should go on as they had. She made a point of twisting the hi-fi's volume knob down while she was still thinking about it, rather than chance forgetting once she did want to play music, and she settled down in her favourite chair, the pot of tea in arm's reach on a nearby table, and took up her book.
She was another few chapters and two cups into her relaxation when noise began to flood through the wall.
And the noise in question was the blissful and escalating cry of a woman in the throes of passion.
Well, thought Alice. Annoying, but it'll pass.
It did, soon enough, and then started again after half an hour.
Newlyweds? she asked herself, and took herself over to a chair further from the wall.
Later she went to the corner shop, taking note of the swish Mercedes now parked outside her neighbours' house, to grab some last-minute groceries for her planned dinner, and ran into the woman. No ring on her finger, she noticed, but the two were clearly very close. She smiled perfunctorily.
“Excuse me, are you the new people at Number 3?”
She seemed to look through Alice for a moment before registering her, then the vacant look dissolved into a broad smile. “Yes, that's right.”
“Well, I'm at 1.” She held out her hand. “Alice.”
“Kimmy.” The blonde's eyes flicked up and down Alice's figure, just once, as she shook. “Hi!”
“Welcome to the neighbourhood.” Alice ran her eyes over the woman's basket. Chocolates, tear-and-share bread, a couple of microwavable curries, a bottle of a surprisingly good red considering the quality Alice assigned to the woman holding it; very much a just-moved-in collation.
“Thank you,” Kimmy said with genuine if vapid cheer.
Alice was behind her in the queue, chatting meanderingly of this and that. She was close enough to see Kimmy's card as she paid; this woman a few years her younger had a gold card, a premium account of some kind. Hopefully her boyfriend was a computer nerd or similar; if this woman earned more than Alice that would be tough to bear. But, no, as Kimmy told her happily, she was a “homemaker, now.”
Most homemakers didn't carry gold plastic, and most homemakers weren't as plastic themselves, but Alice held that observation back. They walked back together, bidding each other goodbye as they reached their doors, and Alice went in to make her dinner and wonder what on earth had happened to produce the pair next door.
By the time she was dishing up, she could hear Kimmy's cries again. Closer to the wall at her perch in her study, she could almost make out words. Was that...
Well. Either the man's name was Castor or these two were kinky.
Very kinky, now that she thought about it. She felt a little guilty listening so closely, but it was somewhat difficult to help...
On Sunday the neighbours were busy again, this time with power tools, as they set to work, presumably, getting their home how they wanted it. Around midafternoon a power chord sounded, and Alice realised, after a few moments' puzzled thought, that they were testing a sound system after setting up the speakers.
Thankfully, that was the last of the noise for a while. She spent the late afternoon in the kitchen, having decided she'd earned a cake to enjoy through her week off for putting up with all this disruption, and as she worked the dough, her gaze lifted to the windows of the kitchen opposite, and to Kimmy, at work in the kitchen, cooking something phenomenally elaborate, time-consuming. A real gift for her partner.
As Alice settled down in her armchair with wine and a night's TV, their sex began again. She consoled herself, in the end, with the fact that while her weekend had been ruined, she had a whole week ahead of her, booked off work, and that it was likely that even if Kimmy were around all day her partner wouldn't be.
She promised herself faithfully that Monday would be spent vegged out comfortably.
Sunday night came and went and, rising later than usual on Monday, she glanced outside her front door to check and confirmed the Mercedes was gone; no sex noises from there today.
A pot of tea again, then, and perhaps some chocolate as a treat, and her book and her chair.
Kimmy was playing some kind of music; the thin walls were just thick enough she couldn't make out the tune, though it kind of hung there, on the edge of perception. Still, that was fine. Let the 'homemaker, now' get her new home in order to whatever tunes she liked; Alice had what she needed.
It seemed impossible to settle, though. Comfortable as she was in her armchair, Alice found herself reading and rereading the same three or four paragraphs, then, distractedly, revisiting them, finding she still hadn't actually taken in what they were saying.
Somewhere along the way, she found her teacup had gone cold without her taking more than a couple of sips. Had it really been that long?
She stared at the teapot, wondering. It surely couldn't have been. It felt like Kimmy had been playing the same song the whole time, whatever it was, and that couldn't be the case if...
It had been two hours.
Shaken, she rose and headed to the kitchen for lunch. It was absurd, really. Maybe she'd dozed off; heaven knew the weekend hadn't been relaxing.
Over the course of her sandwich she calmed down further. It only made sense for her to have been sleepy. Perhaps she'd just dozed enough for the book to be took much...
She decided to try it again, now that she'd fed, and see if that fared any better.
Alice awoke to the sound of Kimmy's delighted cries, smiling and stretching luxuriously as she did, still comfortably nestled in her chair. The tea had once again grown cold, and she scolded herself for letting it happen twice in quick succession, but only half-heartedly; she felt wonderful, the best she'd felt after sleeping in a long time.
Even the sounds that had woken her failed to raise any ire; quite the opposite, in fact, as she found herself picturing Kimmy and her partner together, that surgery-showoff body bent over the dining room table, his hand in her dyed blonde hair to steer as he kept up what seemed a punishing pace.
She couldn't help but run an unsatisfied finger down her own...
She wasn't wearing any top.
She had been, surely. Hadn't she?
Eyes opening more fully, she saw her discarded shirt – and discarded bra – lying nearby. Must have been making her uncomfortable, she thought. Yes, that was probably it, wasn't it?
With that mystery solved, she settled back, listening to her neighbours' lovemaking and idly caressing her own body, picturing it all. She'd never gone in for anything rough, or for any kind of dominance displays – frankly, those made her laugh – but as she listened to Kimmy's blissful surrender, she felt like she could, for the first time, see its appeal.
She was, she discovered, wet... and she realised, her jeans damp to the touch, that she had been for some time.
Whatever she'd been dreaming about, it must have been quite something. It was a shame she couldn't remember it. All she could remember was some sort of couplet, or phrase, and even that only really survived in its cadence.
She thought that night, going to bed, that she'd never get to sleep after dozing so much of the day, but her eyes closed the moment she hit the pillow and she was out like a light.
She awakened on the dot of six am, feeling awkwardly as if there were something she had to do, and with a phrase rolling around her head. Something was pleasure, and pleasure was something.
Sure it would come to her, she stumbled blearily from the bed, heading for the kitchen, driven by the idea that she had to do... something. On the way out of her bedroom she caught sight of her reflection in the mirror, surprised to realised she was smiling contentedly – perhaps even a little dopily, but then, it was six am.
She looked around the kitchen in confusion, asking herself what she'd come down for, and eventually settled on coffee. And then the light flicked on in her neighbours' kitchen.
Glancing up, she saw Kimmy enter, the smile on her lips reminiscent of Alice's own, entirely nude. Alice allowed herself to stare for a while, but flushed with embarrassment when Kimmy, having seen her, gave a little wave.
Alice waved back, taken aback, then fell to smiling. Her coffee percolating, she watched Kimmy work as she prepared a full English breakfast, methodical, ensuring every part was perfect.
As she watched the food be arranged on a single plate, it occurred to Alice that it was strange that she hadn't made any for her man. Kimmy placed the plate on the table, added knife and fork alongside, and poured a cup of coffee from the percolator to go beside; reminded, Alice poured her own, and looked up to find Kimmy stood at attention beside the table, chest thrust out.
She watched as the man of the house entered the room with his shirt unbuttoned and his suit trousers only loosely fastened, sitting down to dine.
As he did, Kimmy settled to her knees, looking up at him. He said something – Alice wasn't sure what, though she could guess – and Kimmy's head dipped forward, all but the crown of her head disappearing below the table even on the upswings.
Alice didn't realise she was stroking herself until the rising pleasure, too great now to ignore, forced her into a chair, still watching, mouth dry.
Shouldn't this be disgusting, she asked herself? Wasn't Kimmy being utterly misused?
And yet she seemed so happy about it...
She couldn't leave, couldn't stop watching, not until she came, and as she came she bit down hard on her own cries – then, suddenly able to move again, scrambled from the kitchen before there was any chance she'd be noticed.
Heart beating far too fast, she decided to hole up in the lounge until she knew he'd have left. Her book still lay discarded by her chair and, anxious to distract herself, she picked it up.
She worried that after yesterday's performance it wouldn't be able to hold her interest, yet she found herself absorbed easily into its pages, She glanced at the clock a while later, finding that it was almost nine – and she was five chapters further on.
She couldn't for the life of her explain her lapse in concentration the day before. This book was wonderful!
She was therefore mildly annoyed – but only mildly – when Kimmy started to play the same music she'd been obsessed with yesterday. It felt maddeningly familiar, too, though she couldn't name it, but it had that instinctive catchiness of the tune you've already fallen for.
Before she knew it, it was lunchtime, and she suddenly realised she'd read no more of her book. Scurrying through to the kitchen, she determined that once she'd eaten, she'd pop round next door and ask Kimmy what the deal was.
Standing with the fridge open, assessing her supplies, the chilly draft let her know she'd somehow lost her pyjamas entirely over the course of the morning, and never noticed.
For whatever reason, that was what did it. She stormed upstairs, throwing on a loose hooded sweatshirt she had and the closest pair of jeans to hand, wriggled into her low boots at the door, grabbed her keys off the hook and marched over to the door of number 3, rapping briskly at the door.
She knocked again, three or four times, before Kimmy answered, that same lazy, vacant smile on her lips, her body now covered by a silk dressing gown. Alice, still in no mood, stepped into the house and moved directly past her without hesitation. Behind her, she heard the door shut.
She spun around in the living room, feeling the rush of rage and the flush of adrenaline both beginning to blunt, and waited for Kimmy. The frustrating thing was that, close up, she still couldn't work out what the hell this music was... nor could she, quite, make out the words.
“Is there something wrong with your hi-fi?” wasn't the question she meant to lead with, but it was the first one to complete the journey from mind to mouth, so it was the first she asked all the same.
“No,” Kimmy said equably. “Please, sit. I will fetch tea for our guest.”
She moved lightly, almost as if dreaming, past Alice, who found herself sitting without really knowing why. When she noticed, she experienced a sudden starburst of happiness in the back of her mind. That was... odd. But not unpleasant, and certainly not unsettling. At that moment she wasn't sure anything could unsettle her. Everything here was so homely and peaceful.
She stared absently at the cardboard box dead ahead of her, evidently something Kimmy had been unpacking when she knocked, until her hostess returned with a tray, bearing a sugarbowl, a teapot, and one teacup.
Kimmy set it down on a wheeled coffee table and brought the table over. She took a step back, falling into that same attention pose.
Alice did nothing for a few moments. It seemed not worth the effort, really, but after some time had passed she poured herself a cup of tea and began to drink.
“What's going on?” she asked, maybe a minute or so later.
“I'm entertaining our first guest,” Kimmy said, and smiled.
“No... I mean... with the music...”
“I listen to my music every weekday, nine to five,” she said promptly. It had the air of something rote learned.
“It makes me happy. Doesn't it make you happy?”
Bewildered, but unable to shake the idea that something had gone entirely awry, Alice surged to her feet. Just doing so took all the determination she had to hand and, once upright, she reeled briefly, attempting to marshal her thoughts.
Kimmy smiled across. Mind reeling, Alice took three steps toward the door, then paused, looked down at her legs, replayed her motions.
Was she... swaying? That roll-your-hips walk only cartoons could really do properly?
Why on earth would she be doing that?
“Where are you going?” Kimmy asked politely. Alice blinked. Where was she going? She'd only just stood up... hadn't she? If she had, she should remember where she was going, but she couldn't even remember how long she'd been standing for.
“I don't know,” she found herself saying, her tone matching Kimmy's in its total neutrality.
There was a good thirty seconds in which nobody moved, nobody spoke, and only the music played on to mark the passage of time. Alice's eyes were still on the angle of her cocked hip, the one that had been so suspicious not long before.
Eventually, she spoke again. “Was there something in my tea?”
“Oh, no,” Kimmy said simply. “You're a guest.”
Alice tried to process this for a while. None of it really seemed to make sense, but it felt as if it should; as if she was missing something that would make it all make sense.
“Why do I feel like this?”
“How do you feel?”
“Kind of empty. Turned on. Just... spacey?”
“Yes,” Alice said, almost grateful to have the word to use. “Blank is right.”
“Being blank is right,” Kimmy said, half agreement, half correction. “Being blank is right,” Alice repeated.
It was a good ten seconds before she realised what she'd said. Her eyes widened and she stared at Kimmy for a few moments.
“I – I – I have to go,” she stammered.
“Won't you have another cup of tea?” Kimmy asked with the same friendly delivery all her comments had been offered in. Alice found herself actually thinking about it before she realised what had happened.
“No,” she said, and then, because it seemed to be warranted, added, “Thank you.”
Relying on momentum to get her there, she started for the door. Kimmy serenely kept pace a couple of steps behind her, and she definitely had the slow roll of her hips as she walked that Alice suddenly remembered being worried that she seemed to have spontaneously manifested.
“Come back soon,” Kimmy said at the door.
“I will come back soon,” Alice replied without thinking about it, and hurried to her own house, locking the door behind her.
She leaned against it for a moment, eyes closed, head spinning, trying to get her mental bearings, and worried briefly that she'd agreed to return, before brushing it off as automatic politeness, albeit a little unusual that she'd parroted the whole phrase back to Kimmy rather than leave it at “I will.” It wasn't an instruction, she told herself, and she realised that was good. An instruction she'd have to obey-
Feeling the hot rush of blood to her cheeks as she flushed, she ran that set of assumptions back through her head. Why would she have to obey instructions?
(Because obedience is pleasure.)
There was no reason, none at all. Unless somehow, seeing Kimmy like that had planted the idea in her head?
That had to be it. Some part of her brain, running on autopilot, was constructing odd fantasies.
(Pleasure is obedience.)
She felt happier now. Heart pounding a little less loudly in her chest, the adrenaline overcharge subsiding, she was able to take stock of the surroundings.
That was when she realised she was wet again, wet enough to have soaked her jeans right through.
She stayed in her shower for a long time after that, blasting herself with nearly scalding hot water before turning the temperature knob down as low as it would go, focusing on the physical sensation and not her mental turmoil.
She felt, she eventually had to admit, a hollow emptiness inside her where she was sure a fierce ball of outrage was supposed to go. The anger wasn't there; the spark to ignite it didn't seem to come, and when she searched for her horror at what was happening she found, too, only a vague conviction that she should be horrified, wrapped around a calm and inexplicable acceptance. Yet the acceptance unnerved her. It didn't feel, Alice finally decided, as if it were a part of her.
Dressing quickly, she hurried from the house and up the hill to the local park, where she spent the remainder of the afternoon walking its paths, surrounded by nature. It was a ritual she'd always found calming, and while she began her path shrunken in upon herself, arms folded tight to her body, an observer would have been able to tell you with no further insight that as the hours ticked by, whatever was preoccupying her mind gradually lost its hold on her, her shoulders losing their hunch, her arms casually by her side, no hint of tension to her.
The time spent under the one cherry tree, by the decorative Victorian pool, in particular, had notable recuperative effects upon her. Cherry blossom had always brought her pleasure.
(Pleasure is obedience.)
She made a point of staying out until she knew the owner of the house would be back. Somehow she was sure the music would have stopped by then. On her way back to her own house, she paused at the door to number 3, raised her hand, and almost knocked before she caught herself. Why had she-?
Oh, yes. Kimmy had told her to come again soon.
It had been an instruction. That's how that invitation's always phrased.
Unlocking her own door and stepping inside, Alice mulled over the fact that she would, sooner or later, have to obey that instruction.
(Obedience is pleasure.)
They weren't fucking that time, and the subdued mood of the house emanated, somehow, hanging in the air in the sudden return to silence. Alice watched Kimmy busy herself in the kitchen, that same vapid smile in place, and wondered whether it was news of her visit, or something else. Her man stepped into the kitchen and asked for something; as Kimmy fixed him a drink of what looked like Scotch, he glanced up, and his eyes met Alice's.
She felt like she quailed, but she was aware that her body did nothing of the sort, that it stayed exactly where it was, her eyes locked to his. Her skin tingled; her body as a whole thrilled with anticipation.
He smiled, politely but noncommittally, and raised a hand, giving her a wave; anxious suddenly, she waved back.
He took his drink and left the room, and Alice slumped slightly, like her strings had been cut. Whatever had cast that pall over him, it wasn't her; for whatever reason this was an instant and powerful relief.
Alice decided she'd earned a drink herself, fetching a bottle of a good red from the corner shop, and adding a small chocolate cake and some microwavable lasagne on top – she didn't feel quite up to the risk of watching their cosy domestic life unfold from the kitchen for longer than she had to.
Settling down in her armchair now that it was safe again, she turned on the TV, poured herself a glass of wine, took her first mouthful of lasagne, looked up at the screen – and saw her male neighbour.
He was looking harried, bustling about the offices in town, as the BBC news ticker kept up its marching summary and Fiona Bruce gave a voiceover saying much the same things. At least, Alice assumed she was saying much the same things; while he was onscreen, she could barely make out the newsreader's voice over that music seeming to play suddenly in her ears, another voice – his voice? - dimly on the edge of hearing.
The ticker read: TED CLARK WORKING TO CORRECT FAILURES FROM BRANCH OFFICE.
As her neighbour – Ted, presumably – vanished from the screen following a cut back to the BBC news studio, Fiona continued. “Clark worked his way up to Deputy Director in the firm before taking over when company founder and women in finance pioneer Kimberly Swift disappeared early last year. Since then there have been numerous accusations of mismanagement and even rumours of embezzlement, although there's no word on who might have embezzled what and when.”
A new face, a glossy stock photo from a portfolio, appeared on screen, and Karen stared. The lips, cheekbones, and the hair were all entirely different, the smile bright and lively, but there was no mistaking those eyes. She knew those eyes well after only two meetings.
“Kimberly Swift's disappearance remains unsolved, although an official investigation at the time shows a full withdrawal of all of her assets to a Swiss bank account one week after she vanished. The manager who authorised the transfer claims to have spoken to her on the phone at the time, and it seems possible now that she fled before it could be found that her actions had significantly damaged her company.”
As Bruce moved on to other matters, Alice swallowed most of the wine in her glass in one gulp, her mouth suddenly dry. Kimberly. Kimmy.
Holy. Fucking. Shit.
She should call the police. Yes. Definitely.
She got as far as the phone before she found her fingers refused to dial. An echo of a barely heard voice sounded in her head, telling her not to do anything to jeopardise his scheme.
Reluctantly, she hung up, and - found herself suddenly happier? A bubble of bliss seemed to well up from nowhere and pop inside her mind, coating her thoughts with a sticky, luxurious kind of vapid cheer.
Obedience is pleasure.
She sat down again thoughtfully and refilled her glass, sipping it a little more slowly and returning to her dinner.
Was that how Kimmy felt? That strange, cloying delight clogging her thoughts? Leaving more room for his words in her head?
Pleasure is obedience.
She could hear the words, now, more clearly. She felt almost as if they were alive in there, nibbling away at her mental defences bit by bit when she wasn't looking, wasn't expecting it, until they emerged more and more clearly.
It was Tuesday. She wasn't due back in work until the following Monday.
Short of checking into a hotel until the next week, she wasn't sure how she could hold out. And yet, would that be enough? If his words were active in her head, how could it be? And she knew, too, that she'd go back to that house, soon. She'd been told to. Accepted the instruction. Thus she had to.
She did her best, after that, to think of something else that night every time her thoughts drifted back to the topic. For the most part, she was successful, though the nagging thought kept coming back that whatever Clark was doing worked best when she wasn't thinking about it.
Partly, though, she accepted that she couldn't let worrying about that become her life, and partly, she admitted with a guilty frisson, she had started to find the idea appealing. Obviously that had to be Clark's influence. And obviously she should object to that. And yet, just as her anger and her fear were more things she felt she ought to feel than things she actually felt, there was an empty space in her where that objection should be.
The TV helped distract her. She surfed from one channel to another aimlessly through the night, looking for anything interesting or familiar enough to hold her attention.
Alice awoke on Wednesday morning at six am, still in her chair, her nightwear thrown across the room. The TV was just starting back into life on... well, on whatever channel she's been watching. Which meant the voice she'd been vaguely aware of all night hadn't come from the television.
She turned that fact over in her mind curiously and realised that, no, she didn't have any problem with that at all.
She got up, stretching to counter the stiffness from her night in the chair, and moved into the kitchen for coffee, feeling the need to wake up. After she'd been in there just about long enough to prep her percolator, she noticed the light go on in next door's kitchen.
With curiously absent trepidation she looked up and saw Kimmy enter the room. The former businesswoman gave her a broad, friendly smile, and Alice felt her own lips settle into the same expression.
She was there to prepare breakfast. That was the purpose of waking so early, Alice now knew. It was the only acceptable reason to rise at this time.
She opened the kitchen door and stepped into her back yard, then the back alley, and into the neighbours' yard. Still smiling, Kimmy opened the door.
Alice found herself operating by a set of rules and instincts she had never considered herself to possess. The two women shared only one kitchen between them with only one grill and four hobs, yet they each adjusted their stances as if instinctively.
Too, Alice couldn't help but defer to Kimmy despite her usual tendency, when preparing something grand enough she was willing to accept help in her kitchen, to run the show, but Kimmy would say “Crisp his bacon,” and Alice would move to obey, replying aloud as she did “I will crisp his bacon.”
It was the formality of it, perhaps, and the dreamlike quality of the just-woken, but she found a deep pleasure in it, far more so than she could possibly have expected. Soon enough a steaming mug of coffee and a plate piled high with bacon, toast, fried and scrambled egg, fried tomato, mushrooms, and black pudding had been assembled. Kimmy fell into her attentive stance by the chair, chest thrust out, breasts proudly on display, and Alice, wondering why she hadn't left, followed suit.
And then he walked into the kitchen and she found herself not simply in that stance but locked into that stance; her body seemed suddenly tense, strained, but a dozen times more excited, yet her head seemed clearer than ever.
He looked her over, surprise turning to caution and then, finally, to a certain amusement. He took his seat, and Kimmy settled down between his knees, teasing his trousers open with her tongue. Still Alice stood stock still.
He reached out, taking a handful of her arse to squeeze thoughtfully. Still Alice stood stock still.
Then he drank some coffee, picked up knife and fork, and as Kimmy's head began to bob up and down, enthusiastically wet and slurping noises coming from below, he took a mouthful of bacon and egg, still looking at Alice, who could only look back, look back and not move.
This should, she insisted to herself, be horrifying. Try as she might, she could neither move nor muster up either horror or outrage.
“You're the neighbour,” he said at last. “Right?”
“Yes, I am the neighbour,” she replied, marvelling at how light and friendly her voice had become.
“Not bad,” he said. “I do like your arse.”
Inwardly, she glowed, and wondered why praise like that from someone like this was enough that she could feel her thighs clench in excitement. Outwardly, almost no reaction was given. Some part of her mind wondered if she should respond, but the aspect of her in the drivers' seat seemed to think that it wasn't a comment she had the right to reply to.
“What's your name?”
“Alice,” she said, and after a heartbeat's uncertainty added “Sir.”
“Mm.” He grunted, taking a moment to return to his breakfast. “No,” he continued, a couple of mouthfuls later. “Alli. Your name is Alli.”
“My name is Alli,” said Alli without hesitation. He nodded approval. “Good girl.”
There was a pause, during which Kimmy's eager efforts became too much for him to ignore. Alli watched, as she could do nothing else, and found herself more and more aroused as she did, before he half-grunted, half-laughed in satisfaction, and Kimmy's head slid up further than before and tipped back, hair whipping up and back in a practiced grace, to open her mouth and display much of his seed, thin cords of it running from his tip to her mouth.
He smirked, slightly, then nodded. “Swallow,” he said, and both Kimmy and Alli swallowed instinctively. Then he looked up to Alli, still standing beside him, and grinned. “Lick me clean,” he said.
“I will lick you clean,” she replied, already dropping to both knees, hands hovering for a moment to settle demurely on her thighs in imitation of Kimmy's pose. As she began to lick, savouring the taste of him far more than she'd expected she would or even could, she felt his belly shift beside her as he leant over her to continue his breakfast.
Save for his muffled chewing and her eager slurping silence reigned for a few minutes, in which Alli was all too aware of the pride in Kimmy's vapid smile as she watched, and became aware very swiftly of her own drip-drip-drip where she knelt.
He sat back, finally, and nodded. “Enough.”
Alli immediately settled back to kneeling upright. A glance out of the corner of her eye gave her the nuance's of Kimmy's posture – thighs further apart, chest thrust out, lips eagerly and invitingly parted – and she felt her own stance adjust accordingly.
“So, what happened?” he asked her. “How'd you get hooked?”
“I overheard Kimmy's music, sir.”
He burst out laughing. “Oh, my God. That's rich. That's perfect.” Shaking his head, he looked down at her unchanging smile. “Alright, Alli. Do you need to go to work?”
“I will do as I am told, sir.”
“Never mind that. Anyone going to miss you if you don't go to work?”
“I am on holiday, sir.”
“Right.” He rose, and Kimmy rose with him, tucking his cock lovingly back into his boxer shorts before buttoning his shirt and tucking it into – and fastening – his suit trousers. He kept talking. “You're going to go back next door and grab yourself something to wear. Slutty for preference but I'll take something a little naughty if that's all you've got – no, I won't. If you don't have anything slutty, you'll go buy something in town.”
“I will go buy something slutty in town,” Alli agreed.
“Right. When you're done with that, come back here, dress up, and wait for me to get back. You can listen to the music properly with Kimmy.”
“I will come back here and wait for you to get back. I will listen to the music properly.”
Kimmy, having finished with his belt, looped a silk tie around his shoulders and began to tie it, showing no signs of hearing any of this.
“Alright. Now, run on home and get dressed for town so you can be there when the shops open.”
“I will be there when the shops open,” she echoed, turning and walking out of the kitchen door. She felt his hand catch her arse as she turned, a loud slap, and she nearly stumbled from the sudden rush it gave her, but kept walking as she'd been instructed. She made her way out of the garden of number three and back to her own, and her open kitchen door.
As she stepped out of her own kitchen, and out of sight of him, Alli blinked and Alice opened her eyes. She felt as if she'd just drifted awake from a pleasant dream, the few impulses left to do as she was told seeming a pleasant hangover from the dream rather than anything she needed to listen to.
It had been astonishing, feeling herself do those things, watching herself do those things. And absolutely outrage should be on the table, and yet... it wasn't.
What she was feeling was... setting aside the fact she wasn't so much wet as sodden, and the sound of her heartbeat thundering in her ears as she replayed what had happened confirmed that wasn't just part of the dream but was very much still with her... intrigue. Fascination. She could tell already that if she went back there, it wouldn't just be a name change.
If she went back to number three, everything would change, piece by piece. Maybe it would take time to happen, but it would happen. She could see the changes that had been made to Kimmy, but she didn't know how slowly they'd come in, or whether Kimmy's metamorphosis was finished. As she pulled a fresh pair of panties into place, she admitted to herself that she wasn't just curious about Kimmy's changes, but about what changes might await her if she was fool enough to return.
The first bra to hand went on, and then a T-shirt, socks, and slacks. She headed back downstairs, snaring her purse from where it hung by the door, and glanced out of her living room window to see Clark's car pulling away as she sat down to pull on her boots.
It wasn't until she stood up and slung her purse over her shoulder that Alice realised that, while thinking she couldn't allow herself to follow his commands, she'd prepared to go out – and was still moving.
She got into town with a good twenty minutes before anywhere was open, because his instructions hadn't told her to wait, and more like an hour and a half before the right kind of places for what he wanted would be open. So, with a little leeway in which to act and behave, she finally did what she'd been wanting to do since ten past six that morning; having first grabbed a magazine to read, she settled down in a local cafe for a full English of her own.
Alice decided to linger over her pot of tea and see how much resistance she had, but found herself setting her third cupful back down into the saucer mere moments after adding milk and rising. She paid up and hurried to the shop.
Once there it turned out to be a difficult decision. She vacillated, over and over. Underbust corsets, to keep her on display? Something transparent and revealing? He liked her arse – she still found herself deep in desire when she remembered those words – so should it be on display or a tantalising tease?
The shop assistants grew progressively more amused as she tried and rejected outfit after outfit, only to come back to a great many of them later. “Big date, is it?” one of them asked, and for a wild moment she nearly told her the truth before the embarrassment Alice was still capable of feeling swamped the words.
One thing, however, was clear and certain, and that was that she was putting effort into this. Into pleasing him,
Yes... she wanted to please him. That seemed... important. The words sounded heavier, somehow, in her head, than her own thoughts. Which meant they weren't her own thoughts, and she knew that, and yet STILL she was following them.
Which shouldn't be a turn on for her. And yet, there it was; she found herself agog and eager, and wanting to look her best for him... and, a little, for her. She was wanted in the clearest of ways, despite the fact she was being measured against what Kimmy had become. Even if he intended to change her – well, there was no 'even if' about it, but still – though he intended to change her, Alice couldn't help but want to be worthy of being changed.
Eventually she decided to go red; a tight pair of lycra hot pants, as short cut as she could find, with a thong beneath to allow her a little modesty for a little longer, a red mesh top covering her upper torso, shoulders, and arms, and, between, a faux-leather black underbust corset. To accompany it she picked an elegant pair of red-topped hold up stockings and a pair of red calf boots with heels as high as she was confident in.
Even after she'd paid, as she was heading back to her car with the bag full of guilty pleasures at her side, she worried that she might have assembled entirely the wrong thing, something that wouldn't suit her at all.
It took her all her willpower to do so, but she struggled into another store before she drove back from town, picking up crimson lipstick, a little blusher, a deep purple eyeshadow and some of the best long-look mascara she could find. So hard to disobey him, she thought, even when the intent was still to please him.
As she loaded her shopping into her car it occurred to her that when she needed to obey, he was simply him, his identity seeming unimportant. She could dislike and distrust Clark, but she worshipped HIM. It seemed, even then, an unusual way to differentiate, but also a wholly natural one.
Her drive home saw her dismiss that musing, however, in favour of the fantasy of how he might strip her new clothes from her, or have her strip for him, daydreams of how it would feel and what she might be told to do, and of him coming to prefer her to Kimmy. Strange, too, that it was clearly, in her mind, not a competition, except when she thought about being preferred. Perhaps she simply needed to be thought worthy?
Alice parked her car, took her shopping from the boot, and as Kimmy opened the door for her, Alli stepped over the threshold. Just being in what now felt like the right house was enough for it to feel a different woman.
Kimmy, evidently primed by instruction received after Alli had left, stripped her efficiently then retreated to the living room, falling back into that same stance of attention that drew such attention to where Alice would have felt outdone. Alli, fortunately, had no such concerns.
She settled down, the music happily pouring into her head, to wriggle into her outfit. While the corset was trouble, Kimmy unfroze long enough to lend a hand – and when Alli began to attend to her makeup, the vapid smile seemed, for a few moments, more genuine, as she fetched a brush and began to tease Alli's hair into a more managed style than had been present when she woke on the stroke of six am.
Once fully dressed and shod, Alli found herself settling into the same approximate stance as Kimmy, her eyes unfocused as the music continued to flood through her mind...
The music continued to melt into her, reshaping her mind, and as she saw Kimmy before her, she found herself wishing it could reshape her body, too, to be as entirely what he wanted as she had evidently become.
Somewhere in there a knock sounded from the door. Kimmy, fluidly in motion from a frozen start, moved to collect a robe and shrug into it, the same one she'd worn when Alice had visited the previous day.
She moved to the door and opened it; Alli, frozen in place and with no instruction, did not turn, but wondered as Kimmy continued a conversation on the doorstop with a cheery Scouser if her rear was visible from the door. It seemed plausible it would be, given where she'd halted, but she couldn't be entirely sure...
Kimmy closed the door at the end, returned to the room, deposited a small cardboard package on a chair, and took up her old stance exactly where she had been. The robe hide, but tantalised; the result was as effective as had been everything beforehand.
Some while later Kimmy dropped out of her frozen state and walked nude into the kitchen. Alli's eyes tracked her movement, though her body remained still.
Kimmy was out of sight for... a while; Alli wasn't stood where a clock was visible, and the music, as on previous days, gave no indication. When she returned she was wheeling the trolley Alli remembered from a visit Alice had made, on which were two plates, each of them containing a sandwich, a couple of tomatoes, and a banana, and two tall glasses filled with what might be some kind of smoothie.
“Master says you must join in with my diet,” Kimmy told her.
“I must join in with your diet,” Alli agreed, setting to automatically. She barely registered any of the flavours, but ate it all just as Kimmy did, and accompanied her into the kitchen to wash and dry the dishes. The aftermath of their work that morning, she noted, was already washed, dried, and tidied away.
Their chore done, they returned to the living room, the source of the music and where it was clearest.
This time, following in Kimmy's path, Alli stopped a pace or two behind her – and thus in clear view of the clock, which nicely explained why she chose that spot. Alli had gotten there around noon. They'd eaten, at a guess, at two; it wasn't even half past. Hard to believe; Alli's mind already felt so deliciously sticky and sluggish, coated in sweet, sugary programming that seemed to dissolve other thoughts into itself... and then she realised that even those words, those thoughts, were not original to her but more of the blissful pink sweetness in her mind.
God, she felt so turned on by that, and couldn't say for the life of her if that was her or the programming.
Time passed. She was watching the clock, but it seemed like the hands would fly or slow to a crawl as the music played, depending on how treacly her mind was at the time. She could picture the times it seemed to fly as being because the programming was having more effect, and she decided that she liked that, and willed the hands to fly more often.
At five to five Kimmy moved again, turning off the music, then headed for the kitchen, obviously working to the instructions in her head, instructions Alli had not yet been fully given. With the music gone she blinked, several times, and while the sweetness in her head seemed to absorb into her a little more, to be less in the way of her own thoughts, Alice didn't come back.
Alli heard a flush from upstairs before Kimmy returned, smiling serenely – and it truly seemed serene, rather than vacant, now that Alli could see how Kimmy thought from the inside – and disappeared into the kitchen. She thought about following her, but she had her instructions; she was to wait for him to get back, so she would.
Obedience is pleasure. Alli could acknowledge that now. No – she could glory in it.
Another ten minutes passed, slower and less interesting now, before a car could be heard pulling up outside. Alli was holding her pose only idly until she heard the door shut; as Kimmy resumed place beside her, holding a tray on which was a single bottle of expensive lager, droplets still beading on it from its time in the coolbox, and its open cap, she found that suddenly she had the reserves of will she needed for full attention.
There was a jingle of keys at the door and then it opened to reveal him, and Alli found her posture even more perfect, on point, and rigid, eyes locked on him as always before. He looked her over with a possessive grin, and she was instantly horny again.
“Thanks,” he said casually to Kimmy, whose smile grew, if anything, as he took the bottle from the tray. He undid the rope around her robe, parting it, and slipped his hand inside, trailing down her abdomen, down further, and Alli could see his fingers curl in a teasing caress before he stepped back. “Now, give me and our new girl some space.”
Kimmy nodded, sliding the tray to her side and falling back to the wall to stand and watch. Alli's breath caught in her throat as the anticipation continued to build.
He took a swig from his bottle, still looking Alli over. “What's your name?” he asked.
“Alli, sir,” she replied, and he grinned. “You remember. Good. What is pleasure?”
“Obedience, sir,” she replied, still fizzing inside over the single word of praise. Fortunately the answer to this question was so firmly engrained in her it required no thought.
“So far, so good.” He twirled his finger in the air, and needing no further instruction or clarification she pirouetted smoothly, pausing when she felt his hand close on one buttock. “Nice,” he says. “You've got good taste in slutty.”
As with other compliments he'd given, this didn't seem to need a reply. He moved closer, transferring the bottle between his hands, and it was a cold palm that closed around the mesh covering her breast. She shuddered – hard – with a heady cocktail of a dozen different reactions, more as he closed in further and she felt him, tented in his suit, against her arse.
She was enclosed against him, could not move, and would not have done if it were even possible. Every fibre of her being was singing with pleasure.
“How long's your holiday last?”
“Until the weekend, sir.”
His teeth grazed at the sensitive spot behind her earlobe, just gently. Despite her efforts to hold pose and attitude as instructed, a ragged moan escaped her lips, and he chuckled. “Oh, you were ripe,” he offered, then did it again, a little firmer this time. Encouraged, Alli moaned again, louder, and he laughed.
After a few moments he released his grip on her, stepping past her and taking up position in his armchair, leaving her fully on view. She wanted to whimper at the loss of contact, but held herself back from it, in case that wasn't what he wanted to hear.
“Do you want to go back to work?”
She forced herself, somehow, to twist the words as they spilled from her mouth, to say what was important to her rather than the obvious answer.
“You know I don't, sir.”
He smiled. “And you still think that's down to me?”
“I think what I am told to, sir,” Alli said, and that required no effort at all; it was another of the rote phrases that had become her thoughts.
“Well, I guess you have a point.” He didn't seem overly concerned as he took a beer. “Will your firm fail without you?”
“No, sir,” she said. It was all the answer required.
“I think you're going to quit soon, then,” he said. He reached out and hooked his fingertips into the waistband of her hot pants. With a single tug he pulled her forward, and Alli took two quick paces to catch her balance before returning to her stance.
His hand cupped her sex, thumb rolling over the mound in a circle, firm pressure exerted throughout, as he continued to sip his beer and as Kimmy watched silently. Amid her soft whimpers of excitement, she pushed herself again to speak.
“Is that an instruction, sir?”
“Not yet,” he said. “But it will be. And what will you do then?”
“I have to obey instructions, sir.”
“Mmm.” He smiled, and this time there was genuine warmth in it. “Good girl.”
This time there was nothing soft or quiet about her delighted whimper. It came from deep within, seeming to bubble upward from the depths of her very soul.
And his smile told her how satisfied that made him, which started another-
Alli bit her lip, and he cocked his head thoughtfully, looking at her expression, her personality, as if for the first time. But then, she supposed, this was also the first time that it was relevant to him.
“Yeah,” he said thoughtfully. “I can work with you. I can see the possibilities.” Her heart leapt. “I've been thinking about that on and off through the day,” he continued. “When I got a moment. I don't need two of you, you know? But you're halfway gone already. Carrying on is probably kindest.”
Again, what he had said invited no comment, said much of her mind, and this time the will needed to push her words through regardless was too depleted to help. She wanted at least to nod, but she was held too fast.
“Something under here,” he said, his attention having returned to where his hand was. He looked up. “Thong?”
“Yes, sir,” Alli breathed, grateful to be able to show obedience directly once again.
“Then ditch the pants.”
“I will ditch the pants, sir,” she echo-agreed, and her hands rose to her sides, just below her breasts, in order to trail down her corset, hook into the hot pants, and continue a smooth movement down as she wriggled out of them. As her sopping thong was freed, the scent in the air let them both know just how ready for this she'd become. How much of this was truly from his influence? Did it matter? Whether pleasure should be obedience or not, obedience was now pleasure.
He pointed to the floor before the chair, and without further prompting, Alli settled to her knees there, thighs apart, hands on thighs as she'd seen Kimmy do. He grinned, reached for his belt -
“Ooh,” he said, and abruptly rose, heading past Alli as she remained in place, though other instructions permitted – required, rather – her head to swivel to keep him in view as long as she could.
He'd spotted the package.
He'd spotted the package and rather than continue with her he'd gone to see what it was, leaving her helplessly waiting.
And he probably knew exactly how that was making her feel. He tore the cardboard open and discarded it, finding a DVD inside. “Oh, sweet, it's here,” he remarked. “I'll watch that later... actually, no.” He tossed the DVD to Kimmy, who came alive from her statue mode to catch it with surprising grace, then turned back to Alli.
“Onto all fours,” he said, moving back toward her, and she complied eagerly. “No, the other way around. Face the TV.”
“I will face the TV, sir.” Alli turned as instructed, and, obeying her instructions, found herself in the strange position of being in his presence without needing to watch him at all times.
“Were you single?” he asked.
“Yes, sir,” she said. For the first time in a long time she was happy about that status; it made life easier for the man who now pulled her strings, or at least she assumed that it must do.
Again, she squirmed with pleasure, feeling a trickle begin down her thighs. He kept talking. “Kimmy, put that disc in.”
“I will put that disc in, Master.”
Alli felt his hands on her arse and her thighs as he knelt behind her. A finger stroked her mound through the wet thong before he hooked his fingers into the straps and worked it down to about halfway down her thighs.
As Kimmy fired up the widescreen TV and loaded the DVD into it – which seemed like a waste of a beautiful servant, Alli found herself thinking – she could hear him unzip his trousers, and she knew what was coming. His hands guided her thighs a little further apart, then he put one hand under her belly and lifted her slightly for a better angle.
It was a strain to maintain without anything to help support her at that angle, but by now Alli knew her duty and she held the pose, overwhelmed by excitement.
He gripped her hips as the DVD menu began to load and thrust hard. Suddenly he was inside her, her body having spent most of the day becoming readier and readier to receive him, and instantly he was the only thing her senses bothered to pass on to her mind, just the feeling of him inside her.
It might be programmed, but as he hammered furiously away, body slapping loudly against body, that was all she wanted. Suddenly whatever he did to her was perfect, no matter what its faults might otherwise have been. She felt the cries of pleasure start to well up inside her throat and fought them down for only a fraction of a second before remembering Kimmy giving voice to her own, and she cried out in joy and encouragement, her exhortations closer to sub-porn fantasies than anything Alice would ever have said.
It was fireworks through her brain almost from the off; her response was programmed but her response was pleasure, everything about it hardwired into her new attitude, and she screamed praises to him as he kept going, rocking back and forth on her hands and knees, driving herself deeper onto him as he thrust, pushing everything to make it better for him which made it better, instantly, for her.
When she felt him tense inside her she squeezed as tight as she could, and she was rewarded almost immediately with a flood inside her, she cried out one last time – and collapsed forward, arms giving at the elbow, so that she ended up kneeling forward, backside up in the air, face in the carpet, hair splayed around her, while she recovered.
He pulled out and settled back into his chair. Alli knew that the DVD was still playing, but she was more conscious of the sound of Kimmy cleaning him – ten, with a shock, she was incredibly aware of the feel of Kimmy cleaning her, kneeling behind her, lapping his and her juices away, in response, she imagined, to one of his gestures.
It was Kimmy, who served him, and so it wasn't out of place, and she found that empty space where an emotion should be in place of embarrassment, and thus she was left only with the sensation, which she found was a lot more fun than she'd expected. She wondered how long it would be before she was instructed to return the favour, an instruction which, naturally, she'd have to obey.
Eventually, she heard his voice. “Get up, Alli.”
“I will get up.” She followed her orders, made just the tiniest bit trickier by her thong being halfway down her thighs – something she didn't remember until she was already trying to move – but rose to attention, looking around to see him again and feeling undeniably relieved to have him to focus on once more.
“Kimmy's cooking dinner. You'll eat here tonight, stay here tonight.”
“I will eat here tonight, sir. I will stay here tonight.”
He smiled. “Yep. So I'm going to think some things through. Tomorrow you're going to have some calls to make.”
She waited. There was nothing there that needed replying to. No direct instruction, and what he said was true. Of course it was.
He kissed her, and she found she could kiss back. She melted into it happily, body still hungry against him.
“I could do with a scotch before dinner,” he said, and she hurried to prepare his drink.
“Oh, hi, Alice,” Janet said. Alli winced, but didn't correct her; it was easier over the phone. “How's your holiday?”
Alli coughed awkwardly. “Well, funny story, Janet, but... to cut it short... I'd like to give in my two weeks' notice.”
“Oh?” She sounded shocked. “Something – no, wait. You found another job, didn't you?”
“You could say that,” she said. “Sorry,” she said, and meant it.
“We haven't been called for references,” Janet said tartly.
“I don't think you will be.”
“Oh? Well...” She heard Janet sigh, and she could picture the exact way she sat when she sighed like that, guess at what was running through her mind. “Well, we'll be sorry to lose you, Alice. It's something better, right? Tell me you've got a step up.”
Alli laughed. “It's definitely that,” she agreed.
“Alright, then. When you come in for your last week you'll have to tell me all about it.”
Janet held no authority over her; this wasn't an instruction. Alli took a moment to remind herself of that rather than accept it, and Janet ploughed on. “What's that music you're playing? I can't quite place it.”
“Oh! It's something my neighbours gave me as a housewarming present. I don't know the name. It's catchy, though.”
Janet chuckled. “I think I'll be humming it all day just from this call. Well, I'll see you on Monday, alright? Enjoy the rest of your vacation... I guess we'll work things out then.”
“See you Monday,” Alli agreed. “Bye!”
She hung up. That had been much simpler than she expected. She looked to her side, and took the note that Kimmy held out on reflex.
She dialled the number on the note and waited, looking past the note at her new lover's enhanced curves.
“Hello? Hi. I'd like to book an appointment with Dr Cochrane to arrange cosmetic surgery...”