In wake of ‘A Series of Misdeeds,’ Joanna resolves to stay out of trouble and out of the room at the top of the stairs. Yet even the best of intentions so often go amiss, and the plight of a coworker soon lands Joanna in the hot water she so wanted to avoid. As Ewan Armistead’s designs play out, Joanna is plunged into an experience that fingers the line between nightmare and fantasy. More
In wake of the events of ‘A Series of Misdeeds,’ Joanna has resolved to stay out of trouble and out of the room at the top of the stairs. Yet even the best of intentions so often go amiss, and the plight of a coworker soon lands Joanna in the hot water she so wanted to avoid. Now that it is clear to Ewan Armistead that his newest hire is not one to be easily brought into line, he reaches for more creative means of influencing her. As his designs play out, Joanna will find herself in the midst of an experience that fingers the line between fantasy and nightmare. On the other side of it, humiliated and aroused, Joanna will pick up the pieces and begin to come to terms with her true position and the feelings she has been denying.
Once again, he ended contact. I heard his footsteps take him a few feet away. "What to do with you," he was musing to himself. "That is the question now. What do you fear? What are your insecurities? That is the question indeed. I would be a poor specimen if I could not answer those questions by now." He continued to pace. "If our last two meetings have shown me anything it is that pain excites you." "What?" I protested. "No, it doesn't." "Of course it does, Joanna. Eventually you will give up lying to me, but so be it. Deny it for now, if that is your instinct. What is important is that pain is not a suitable demonstration." I could hear him his steps quickening, a sadistic enthusiasm in his voice. My only recourse was to feign unconcern as I listened to him trying to guess my deepest fears in order to realize them upon me. "You are easily embarrassed. I have noticed that about you. Perhaps some form of humiliation would be appropriate. Does that sound interesting? Would that have an impact on you?" I fixed my face into what I hoped was a display of apathy. "Not really." But he must have caught something in my voice. "Are you sure?" "Yes." "Perhaps. Perhaps if I made it a little less abstract, you would have a better idea of what we are talking about. Are you ashamed of your body?"
"Of course not. It is not, on the whole, something to be that embarrassed by, I suppose. But that does not mean that you are comfortable naked, does it? They are hardly the same thing. I remember when you were last here, you fought against being stripped of your clothes. It was a surprisingly fierce display, I must say. The look of horror on your face when you first felt your blouse being undone was quite exquisite. The memory has brought a smile to my lips on several occasions. And then, when Margaret had taken off your skirt and bra and was coming back for your panties, the way you seized at the wasteband and tugged at them. You were a pitiful sight at that moment. It was as though your last shred of dignity was woven into that little garment and you were holding on as though your life depended on it."
I found myself unconsciously clenching my legs together as he described it, even as I felt a little liquid leak out of me. I was simultaneously mortified and aroused, but I didn't dare let either of those emotions show.
"Yes, I think it had a rather strong affect on you," he went on. "I am quite sure of it. But is it really that embarrassing to be naked in private? I would think it would be much more impactful if it all happened in a more public setting, don't you think?"
I caught my breath a little as I realized what he was saying. Ah, he would have seen my reaction. I clamped my jaw shut, but it was too late. I had given him everything he needed.
"Yes, the more I think about it, the more appropriate it sounds. Do you think that would have an impact on you, Joanna? To be paraded around naked in front of the staff? It would not be so many. I only have about fifteen people on hand. Perhaps if I had you showed off, that might be a memorable experience for you, wouldn't it?"
"No, it wouldn't." I couldn't even sound casual now. My only layer of deception lay in the literal words themselves.