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The package came from Nobilis's house. His return address was on it. I got online and IM'ed him.
<Pixie>What's this package?
<Nobilis>Someone asked me to send it to you.
<Nobilis>Can't tell. I checked it over though, there's nothing in there that'll hurt you. Go ahead and open it.
The box contained an outfit and a card with an address, date, and time. The clothes were nothing unusual: a cotton skirt, t-shirt, panties, and bra; all fairly plain, all my size. The address wasn't familiar but it was close to a subway stop. The date was a couple days out on a night I didn't have anything planned. Whoever put this together knew me well. A friend? Someone who knew Nobilis too.
<Pixie>What is this? Some kind of invitation?
<Nobilis>That's what it looks like to me. Are you going?
<Pixie>I don't know. Was it Oberon?
<Nobilis>Rotten to the core. You know I'd never hurt you, right?
<Nobilis>I think you should go.
It would be two days before the date specified in the package. Oberon was out of town for nine days now, and won't be back for three more. At least that's what he told me. He's told me little white lies sometimes in order to bring together a surprise for me. I decided not to call. After all, if he planned this he wouldn't tell me whether it was or wasn't him.
Willow lived too far away to be behind this, but if my mysterious liaison knew Nobilis he probably also knew Willow. I caught her online that night.
<Pixie>Do you know anything about this package Nobilis sent me?
<Pixie>Sort of... some clothes, and an address, date, and time.
<Willow>Nobilis wants to meet you somewhere?
<Pixie>No, he said it came from someone else.
<Willow>Well, he wouldn't lie to you. So you don't know who sent it?
<Pixie>No. Do you?
<Willow>I wish I did. Are you going?
<Pixie>I don't know.
<Willow>Let me know, okay?
<Pixie>Don't I always?
I put the box away and went to bed. I found it difficult to sleep. I kept going through the long list of all the people who could have sent the box. Steiger? Unlikely. S.D.? No, impossible. I kept running through all the names of my friends but there were just too many. It could be any of them, or none of them.
I managed to forget the package until lunchtime two days later. When I remembered I rushed home to open it up again. I was sure that I forgot the time. No, it was 6:00 PM, just as I remembered.
I looked over the very ordinary clothes again. The whole thing was very puzzling. The shirt was a dark blue, the t-shirt bright red, the panties and bra plain white. It was all made of light cotton. Curiosity killed me and if I didn't take this opportunity I'd never know what I missed. I sent an email to Willow and Nobilis telling them where I was going. If anything happened I wanted them to know where I was.
I debated putting on makeup, but it seemed out of place if I was supposed to wear these plain clothes. I took a shower, brushed my hair and put them on. They fit fairly well but not perfectly. The shirt was a little too tight around my bust line, and the skirt hung a little loose about my waist. At least the bra fit right. I can't stand a bra that doesn't.
I left home around 5:30 and walked to the subway. Oberon, I decided, was the only one who could be behind it. He exchanged an email or two with Nobilis, that much I knew. I smiled to myself satisfied in the knowledge.
The address on the card was a brownstone off the main street converted to condos. I pushed the button for the third-floor walk-up. Without a word the door buzzed open and I stepped inside. I climbed the stairs, my heart beating faster, both from the exertion and the anticipation. I couldn't wait.
The light on the third floor was out leaving the landing in shadow, but I could see that the only door was ajar. It creaked as a pushed it open. The room inside was completely dark.
"Oberon?" I stepped inside.
Someone pushed the door firmly closed behind me. I gasped as a pair of hands took my shoulders. Suddenly I wasn't so sure I should be there. My heart pounded in my chest. "Oberon? Is that you?"
The person behind me whispered close by my ear, "You can leave now... if you want." I detected the slightest hint of perfume -- roses. It didn't sound like Oberon. To be honest, it didn't sound like anyone I knew.
I swallowed. "No." That was all I could get out. All other words choked my throat.
There was no reply, just the hands firmly guiding me forward, into the darkness. My eyes adjusted some but the only light was a dim glow from under the door. I could barely make out the outlines of the room. My foot stubbed into something.
"Step up on the stool," whispered the voice behind me. It sounded slightly muffled, as if from behind a mask.
Unsteadily, I put first one foot and then the other up on the wooden circle. "I can't see. I can't balance." I depended upon my host to keep me from falling.
The hands left my shoulders, gently taking my backpack. A loop of silk rope was put around one wrist, then another around the other, and the rope laid in my palms. The ropes slowly started moving up, pulling my hands, spreading my arms up above my head. I wondered if I hadn't made a tremendous mistake coming here. I tested a loop. If I squirmed I could get out of it, but I didn't want to. Not yet.
I heard a match strike and a candle-flame illuminated the room from behind. My shadow was flung, dancing madly, against the far wall. A crouching figure shrouded in black passed my right side and then whirled to face me. I stood taller on the stool, but the cloak and posture made it hard to discern our relative heights. I looked down on a bronzed mask. In the dim light I couldn't tell if it was real bronze or just painted, but it didn't matter. I gasped.
"If you take your hand from the loop," whispered the voice, "it ends. That is your signale." That was the synonym for 'safeword' from Carey's novels. My favorites.
The masked figure stepped closer, and from under the cloak I heard the sound of duct tape pulled from a roll. The Mask quickly placed the strip over my eyes, stretched from one temple to the other. It wasn't pressed down against my eyelids, but I could feel it adhering to my nose and brows.
I was in darkness again.
I heard the soft click of a marker uncapped. The Mask's hand reached to the back of my neck and held my head. I felt the pen writing on the tape. Whispered letters, as the Mask wrote them. "C... R... Y... B... A... B... Y..."
"Hey," I started to say, but lips met mine silencing me. The lips were soft, and I could feel no sign of mustache or razor stubble. A woman? I couldn't tell. Strong hands, but oh those lips; and the scent of roses again. I tried to stop thinking of the lips as belonging to man or woman and just enjoy them. The kisses started strong then became feather-light, drawing me forward to hang from my arms, straining towards lips that always seemed just a little too far away, and threatening my balance upon the platform. I whimpered in frustration.
Hands took me again, holding the back of my head, and the lips drove against mine, opening my mouth, probing tongue pushing past my teeth. I moaned softly into the open mouth of my mysterious lover. In the midst of the kiss, I heard the soft snik-snik of a pair of scissors worked next to my ear. My heart jumped in my chest. I tensed. I imagined the scissors, sharp and bright, going into my neck, my belly, a breast.
A hand slipped under my t-shirt to pull my right bra strap up off my skin. Snik went the scissors, and the strap parted. The breath I drew ready to scream, came out as a sigh of relief. Snik, again, on the left, and then a small hole was cut in the center, to cut the center strap. A hand went up my back and gently pulled the ruined garment out from under.
I was breathing hard. As my chest rose and fell my nipples rubbed against the soft cotton. They were already a little hard, but this made them stand up all the way. Hands took my breasts roughly through the thin cloth groping hard, fingers digging into my flesh. An impossibly smooth mouth returned to mine. My Mask groped and twisted, and then slid down to grab my nipples between thumbs and knuckles.
Squeezed--hard! The pain stabbed into me like a knife. "Ow, fuck!"
Those hands left again and I heard another length of tape pulled off. This went over my mouth. I heard the cap come off the marker again and my head was held still while my lover wrote. "P... O... T... T... Y... M... O... U... T... H." My lips stuck to the heavy tape--stuck fast--and I knew it was going to hurt when it came off.
I heard the scissors work again and after a few seconds the skirt fell away. The tips of the scissors brushed my mons and I thought I was going to collapse. I moaned, but with my mouth taped closed only the slightest noise escaped. It felt like the noise was reflecting back into me, making me hornier.
After more work with the scissors I felt the fabric fall away from my nipples, first one, then the other. Those wonderful soft lips and tongue started playing at my right breast, kissing and licking my increasingly sensitive skin. The Mask's hand was on my other breast pinching and groping. The contrast between the tenderness on one side and pain on the other was exquisite.
Then the switch: a groping, pinching, hand cupped the other breast gently as he bit down on my left just beside the nipple, and my knees nearly buckled under. I moaned loudly and the sound reverberated in my skull. My head swam. I felt my panties wetting.
I got a moment of relief as my lover pulled away again. The Mask untied my sneakers and pulled them off, and removed my socks, and then cutting again. I felt the tip of the scissors trace a line from my navel to my neck as he cut through the center of the t-shirt. Another pair of lines along my shoulders and then it fell away. By this time I was ready for more, so I twisted my body shaking my breasts.